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[Markets] Leaked Chinese Government Documents Prove Muslims Are Being Detained In Massive Numbers Leaked Chinese Government Documents Prove Muslims Are Being Detained In Massive Numbers

There's now substantial evidence - in the Chinese government's own words - that they are detaining Muslims in massive numbers.

403 pages of internal documents have been leaked to the New York Times that describe a clampdown in Xinjiang - a resource-rich territory located on the border of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia - where authorities have "corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years."

In Xinjiang, Muslim ethnic minority groups make up more than half the region's population of 25 million. The largest group is the Uighurs. Beijing has fought with the Uighurs for decades, who have offered resistance to Chinese rule. 

The current crackdown began after a surge of antigovernment and anti-Chinese violence, including ethnic riots in 2009 in Urumqi, the regional capital, and a May 2014 attack on an outdoor market that killed 39 people just days before Mr. Xi convened a leadership conference in Beijing to set a new policy course for Xinjiang.

The Chinese government has called these camps "job training centers" to fight Islamic extremism, but the documents seem to confirm the coercive nature of the crackdown in the words of the Chinese government. 

The campaign is being called "ruthless and extraordinary". Senior party leaders are recorded ordering "drastic and urgent" action, including mass detentions. The leaked papers show how the country carried out its "most far-reaching internment campaign since the Mao era."

President Xi Jinping laid the groundwork for the camps during speeches to officials in Xinjiang in April 2014, after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31. In his speech, Xi called for "an all-out struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism using the organs of dictatorship and showing absolutely no mercy.”

Xi also said: “The methods that our comrades have at hand are too primitive. None of these weapons is any answer for their big machete blades, ax heads and cold steel weapons. We must be as harsh as them and show absolutely no mercy.”

Xi also urged his party to "emulate aspects of America’s war on terror after the Sept. 11 attacks."

“We say that development is the top priority and the basis for achieving lasting security, and that’s right. But it would be wrong to believe that with development every problem solves itself,” Xi said in one speech. 

In another speech, he said: “After the United States pulls troops out of Afghanistan, terrorist organizations positioned on the frontiers of Afghanistan and Pakistan may quickly infiltrate into Central Asia. East Turkestan’s terrorists who have received real-war training in Syria and Afghanistan could at any time launch terrorist attacks in Xinjiang.”

The camps expanded rapidly in 2016 when Chen Quanguo was appointed new party boss for the region. He handed out Xi's speeches to stay on message and implored his officials to “round up everyone who should be rounded up.” Any local leaders that stood in Chen's way were immediately purged, including one official who was jailed.

 

And the leak suggests that there could be discontent from within the party. The Chinese, who often undertake policymaking under the cloak of secrecy, are certainly not known for leaking internal government documents.

Since 2017, hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been detained in Xinjiang. One leaked document describes how to handle minority students returning home to Xinjiang in summer 2017 to find that their relatives have been detained. The document says that students should be informed that their relatives are receiving “treatment”.

One document ordered: "Keep up the detentions. Stick to rounding up everyone who should be rounded upIf they’re there, round them up.

Officials in Eastern Xinjiang drafted the Q and A script and distributed the guide across the region, urging officials to use it as a model. 

The document says: “Returning students from other parts of China have widespread social ties across the entire country. The moment they issue incorrect opinions on WeChat, Weibo and other social media platforms, the impact is widespread and difficult to eradicate.”

Authorities suspected that the answers wouldn't work well with students and also supplied answers to follow up questions like: 

  • When will my relatives be released?
  • If this is for training, why can’t they come home?
  • Can they request a leave?
  • How will I afford school if my parents are studying and there is no one to work on the farm?

The guide recommends answers that get firmer in nature, eventually culminating telling students that their relatives have been "infected" by the "virus" of radical Islam and must be quarantined and cured. Even grandparents could not be spared, officials were told to say. 

One answer says: “If they don’t undergo study and training, they’ll never thoroughly and fully understand the dangers of religious extremism. No matter what age, anyone who has been infected by religious extremism must undergo study.”

Another says: “Treasure this chance for free education that the party and government has provided to thoroughly eradicate erroneous thinking, and also learn Chinese and job skills. This offers a great foundation for a happy life for your family.”

The authorities are using a scoring system to see who can be released from camps. Students are told that the system takes into account their daily behavior, which has a direct effect on when their relatives may be released.

“There must be effective educational remolding and transformation of criminals. And even after these people are released, their education and transformation must continue,” President Xi said during one trip to Xinjiang. 

You can read the New York Times' full longform piece, including all of the leaked documents, here

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 16:00
Published:11/16/2019 3:12:13 PM
[Markets] Goldman's Euphoria Indicator Just Hit An All-Time High: What Happens Next? Goldman's Euphoria Indicator Just Hit An All-Time High: What Happens Next?

With the S&P closing above 3,100 and the Dow sprinting higher in the last seconds of Friday trading to close above 28,000 for the first time ever, one can argue that the long awaited melt-up has finally arrived.

After a year of relentless retail and institutional outflows from equity funds yet which has seen a record buyback tide prop up the entire stock market (just last week BofA recorded its 6th busiest week on record for client buybacks, up 26% from the already record buyback pace in 2018 and making a mockery of the so-called buyback blackout period), equity flows are finally picking up as bond flows slow down. According to EPFR, flows into bond funds (+$4.2bn) slowed sharply this week from the very strong pace seen for most of this year ($10bn a week on average), while flows into equity funds (+$9.6bn) on the other hand remained strong for a third straight week, in contrast to the trend for almost a year (-$5bn a week since December) according to Deutsche Bank. Indeed, over the last three weeks, flows into equity funds ($33bn) overtook those into bonds ($23bn), for the first time since early December 2018 over comparable rolling three week periods.

Yet with most pieces in place to explain the melt up, there was one minor glitch in the matrix: even as US stocks soared in the past few weeks with just 2 down days the entire month of November, equity flows are rotating away from the US. Within equities, US (-$0.4bn) funds saw outflows this week which were more than offset by strong inflows into EM (+$3.2bn), Europe ($1.5bn) and funds with a global mandate (+$5.2bn). Within global funds in particular, Deutsche Bank noted that those which invest only outside the US saw very strong inflows ($3.1bn), their strongest since March of last year. Meanwhile, for European funds, inflows over the last four weeks have been the strongest since March of last year.

Actually, it's not just outflows from US stocks that doen't fit the narrative: recent US data has been unexpectedly disappointing, with the Citi US economic surprise index sliding back in the red after surging from deep negative in June, until it hit the most positive print in the past year at the end of September.

At the same time, various GDP Nowcasts and consensus estimates have tumbled, with the average Q4 GDP print now expected to come in at around 0.83%, down sharply from just last week's 1.25%.

Then there are US corporate earnings: according to Factset, with 92% of the companies in the S&P 500 reporting, the blended earnings decline for the index for the third quarter is -2.3%. Meanwhile, consensus EPS forecasts have tumbled in recent weeks, and Q4 EPS growth is now also in the red, suggesting US corporations are knee-deep in an earnings recession.

What is amusing, is Goldman strategist Alessio Rizzi summarizes these recent transformations, writing on Friday that "since the end of the summer, the baton has been passed from monetary policy to global growth, supporting a sharp re-rating of risky assets led by the underperformers in the first part of the year."

This is, in a word, laughable: not only has the baton not been passed to global growth, as US growth is once again backsliding, and Germany just escaped a recession by literally the smallest of possible margins growing at just 0.1% in Q3, the same dismal growth as Japan, but the latest Chinese data have been downright miserable, with GDP now expected to print below 6% and China's credit impulse just barely rebounding from cycle lows at a time when China's total credit injection was the lowest in years.

Perhaps what Rizzi meant to say is that the baton has been passed from monetary policy to NOT QE as investors has plowed into risk assets following the Fed's recent decision to buy $60 billion in T-Bills per month (which as both Bank of America last week, and Citi's Matt King on Friday now admit IS in fact, QE). Incidentally, anyone who wishes to understand what is really going on in the market is urged to read Matt King's latest "Has the monetary tsunami restarted?" (spoiler alert: yes).

Yet where the Goldman strategist is right is that as a result of the Fed's latest intervention, the bank's Risk Appetite Momentum indicator - also known as Goldman's "euphoria meter" - is now at all-time highs.

This is a problem, because while Goldman may have totally butchered the cause and effect of the recent NOT QE (but really QE)-driven meltup, where it does provide some actionable information is that record high levels of its Risk Appetite Momentum, those above 1, have historically signaled negative asymmetry for equity returns.

And while the sharp increase in risk appetite has likely been exacerbated by bearish positioning, the high RAI Momentum  suggests that investors have started to price in a bottoming of the growth slowdown, which thanks to the market's reflexivity, increases the risk of disappointments: after all, the catalyst for the Q4 2018 crash was the collapse in central bank liquidity and fears that the Fed would hike even more (obviously, all that ended in Q1 of 2019 after the market's mini bear market on Christmas Eve 2018).

There is another risk according to Rizzi - one where investors turn from overly bearish to overly bullish, or as he put it, as markets shift from TINA (there is no alternative) to FOMO (fear of missing out), "there is a risk of an overshoot vs. the data, especially as noise around growth is likely to remain high."

So far, early signs of FOMO are coming from the options market, where call options have been well bid. Indeed, after a record high at the end of September, implied volatility skew has declined sharply across assets, equity spot-vol correlation has become much less negative and call vs. put volume has risen materially.

That said, for now it appears that euphoria is largely confined to the near future with longer-term option pricing still pointing to a less constructive stance. To wit, "while 1m equity call skew has become more expensive, long-dated call skew still looks considerably cheaper."

In addition, equity put skew has only marginally declined and the volatility term structure is now very steep, as long-term volatility has materially lagged the decline in short-term vol. This suggests investors’ concerns over 2020 remain high, likely owing to the US political agenda - i.e., will Warren beat Trump in the 2020 presidential elections - and uncertainty around the growth upside.

Add to the above observed euphoria the fact pointed out at the very beginning of this article that investors are finally throwing in the towel on defensive positioning and rotating into risk assets, and one can correctly conclude that the latest melt up has arrived.

Goldman's Rizzi is not fully convinced just yet, noting that "overall positioning does not appear very bullish" but as he warns "with market prices moving sharply higher recently and our RAI Momentum indicator being at historical highs, the hurdle rate for further positive surprises that sustain the strong momentum seems to have increased."

As such, Goldman concludes that "a moderation in the pace of the ‘risk on’ move is now more likely, unless a more sizeable improvement in the macro and political outlook materializes", or, more accurately, unless the Fed doubles down on its NOT QE. Alternatively, it is quite possible that the blow-off top accelerates into year end without any justification - besides the Fed's latest massive liquidity injection which have boosted the Fed's balance sheet by nearly $300 billion in the past 2 months, a faster rate than that observed during QE3.

Incidentally, the last time we had a similar market melt-up was in late January 2018, just before vol sellers overextended themselves, resulting in the overnight annihilation of the entire inverse VIX ETN complex, and the market collapsed. Back then, however, the Fed and other central banks were actually on hiatus from explicitly supporting risk assets; this time, however, with the Fed and ECB once again engaging in full-blown debt monetization, a sudden loss of confidence in risk assets - and by extension central banks - could prove catastrophic, especially with a record number of investors shorting the VIX...

... potentially setting up the biggest VIX short squeeze in history.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 15:30
Published:11/16/2019 2:45:04 PM
[Markets] "Voters Don't Want To See Crazy Stuff" - Obama Asks WTF Are 2020 Democrats Doing "Voters Don't Want To See Crazy Stuff" - Obama Asks WTF Are 2020 Democrats Doing

Former President Obama cautioned 2020 Democratic candidates not to move too far to the left, as messages of sweeping societal and government transformations risk turning off the party's moderate base, according to the New York Times.

"Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality," said Obama - who told a room of wealthy liberal donors: "Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality."

"The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it."

Obama joins House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Florida Senator Bill Nelson, and other moderate Democrats in his implicit warning over plans by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who have called for a "political revolution" and "big structural change" with ideas that would eliminate private health insurance and place a moratorium on deportations according to The Hill.

The comments marked an extraordinary entrance into the primary contest by the former president, who has been careful to avoid even the appearance of influencing the direction of the race.

His remarks offered an implicit critique of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who have urged voters to embrace “political revolution” and “big, structural change,” as well as proposals once widely considered to be left to the liberal fringes of the party, including court packing and decriminalizing illegal border crossings. -NYT

"I don't think we should be deluded into thinking that the resistance to certain approaches to things is simply because voters haven't heard a bold enough proposal and if they hear something as bold as possible then immediately that's going to activate them," added Obama. "There are a lot of persuadable voters and there are a lot of Democrats out there who just want to see things make sense. They just don’t want to see crazy stuff. They want to see things a little more fair, they want to see things a little more just. And how we approach that I think will be important."

In April, the former president said "One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States — maybe it’s true here as well — is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, 'Uh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be,' and then we start sometimes creating what’s called a 'circular firing squad,' where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues," adding "And when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens."

In early November, Pelosi suggested that 2020 Democrats may strike out against Trump with ultra-liberal policies that may fire up coastal leftists, but may not go over well elsewhere.

"What works in San Francisco does not necessarily work in Michigan,"Pelosi said in a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg. "What works in Michigan works in San Francisco — talking about workers’ rights and sharing prosperity."

Bill Nelson, meanwhile, also said earlier this month that if Warren or Sanders become the party's nominee in 2020 that Democrats would effectively be ceding Florida to Trump.

"The answer is yes," said Nelson - a Biden supporter who narrowly lost his re-election in 2018. "I say this with the greatest respect and admiration and friendship for those other senators who embrace Medicare for All. But the hard reality is, it is going to be a stretch too far for the Democrat candidate."

And while Obama is now cautioning 2020 progressives against straying too far left, he's still not endorsing his former VP Joe Biden, the moderate Democratic frontrunner.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 15:00
Tags
Published:11/16/2019 2:15:43 PM
[Markets] Dow closes above 28,000 — its first thousand-point milestone clearance in 90 trading days The Dow Jones Industrial Average marks history on Friday— carving out its first breach of a psychological milestone since mid July, as equity benchmarks mounted an assault on records on the back of hope for progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations. Published:11/16/2019 2:15:43 PM
[Markets] The Margin: One viral Reddit poster explains how the Apple Card fails compared to other cards One viral Reddit poster explains how the Apple Card fails compared to other cards
Published:11/16/2019 2:15:43 PM
[Markets] Personal Politics, Public Impeachment, Persuasion, And Post-Apocalyptic Planning Personal Politics, Public Impeachment, Persuasion, And Post-Apocalyptic Planning

Authored by Doug “Uncola” Lynn via TheBurningPlatform.com,

One of my primary concerns regarding the forthcoming economic chaos and societal breakdown is that there will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. As normalcy bias evaporates like tears on dehydrated sunken cheeks, hungry neighbors and pre-collapse friends and acquaintances will soon assimilate into zombie hoards and come knocking like its Halloween.

What are you going to do? Shoot them?

Regardless, saying “I told you so” or “I tried to warn you, but you didn’t listen” will not be an effective deterrent. Furthermore, the resultant chaos will also deliver local strongmen and gangs ready to thieve and plunder amidst widespread violence and starvation.

In such a scenario, any lone bananas are sure to be skinned.

Are you ready?

Because very few will have the opportunity to bug out to a remote location and surprisingly, an isolated cabin in the woods, or a fenced-off hidden homestead in a rural area may not be best after all.  Take it from Fernando Ferfal Aguirre, who survived the economic collapse in Argentina.  In his book, “Surviving the Economic Collapse”, he described geographic areas as like organisms dying; where the extremities perish first. Aguirre identifies the urban areas as the safer places to work, trade, and live; with the rural areas as targets for roving gangs to raid and set up camp out of the reach of city services, police, and fire departments.

Therefore, since we know the endgame, what if we could parlay that into building trust with others now?   Perhaps entire regions could be fortified in a balkanized America, simply by reorganizing current civil administrations.  All that would be required would be for the heads of select institutions and agencies to work in coordination, quickly, and decisively as the proverbial excrement collides into the whirling flabellum. Roving bands, gangs, cartels, and feral feds, might then decide to move on to easier targets.

But any micro- constitutional republics must become self-sufficient very quickly; or at least before “every man for himself” requires a strongman to maintain order.

So, in the meantime, how can we attempt to convert the unconverted? How can we wake up the sleeping sheeple and lead them into the ideological promised land prior to any cataclysmic post-apocalyptic tribulations?

These are the questions.

Years ago, I wrote an article on “How to Woo a Moonbatted Snowflake outlining a prospective strategy for red-pilling our blue-pilled friends. Accordingly, over the last several days, I’ve utilized my online blogging experience and three-dimensional relations to hone what I believe might be another effective strategy. So I had breakfast with a socialist physician friend and tested my new tactic. My desire was to overcome the left-rightdichotomy by establishing commonality toward the goal of achieving a political rapport. Then, I could potentially close the deal and wake him up.

So far, in its early stages, the strategy has worked pretty well with one test subject. Overall, I am pleased with the results. Better to have friends than enemies in the post-apocalypse and that’s what’s at stake in my opinion.

I chose a socialist who self-identifies as a liberal because I knew he would be one of the more difficult to convert of all my friends and acquaintances. First, we made small talk and eventually our conversation drifted into current events and, in particular, a text exchange I had on Tuesday November 12, 2019 with one of our RINO (Republican In Name Only) friends who identifies as a Republican. The RINO sent me the following meme this last Tuesday, or the day before the “public” congressional impeachment hearings on President Donald Trump’s alleged malfeasance in Ukraine:

Consequently, the following is a screenshot of our ensuing text exchange. The RINO’s messages are boxed in green and mine is in gray.

Of course, the main point here is that I said impeachment would implode and, the next day, on Wednesday November 12, 2019 – the collapse started. The fatal blows were delivered by Republican Devin Nunes in his opening statements, Ohio Republican Jim Jordan’s ridiculing of the Democrat’s supposed “star witnesses” and, especially, when Texas Republican John Ratcliffe asked acting Ukraine Ambassador William Taylor and U.S. State Department drone George Kent the following question:

So, in this impeachment hearing today where we impeach presidents for treason or bribery or other high crimes, where is the impeachable offense in that call?

Their answer? Crickets.

I commented to the socialist how the RINO always projects concern for my emotional state every time I refuse to accept his faulty premises. 

To which the socialist said:  “We have hope that you will wake up someday when it comes to Trump and the Republicans”.

“But”, I said, “That’s strange because I sent the RINO a link to an article on Tuesday that was not very flattering of Trump”.

The socialist replied: “My Dad used to be a Republican until he came to his senses in his old age. We have the same hope for you”.

And this is where I began my latest approach.

I said:  “It seems to me so much of this left-right dichotomy is comparable to watching a football game while the roof is on fire. Ya know?”

Of course, he nodded because Trump.  I continued: “I know this is where you will once again call me a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist, but did you know Abraham Lincoln predicted a day when America would be taken over by corporations?

He smiled and asked if I saw a series called “Continuum” on Netflix that was about corporations ruling the world. I replied that I had not seen that one, but the films “Rollerball” and “Network” came to my mind regarding that subject (I am older than him).

Next, I mentioned how Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, referenced powerful men who were afraid to speak “condemnation” of a concentric inner circle consisting of even more powerful men:

Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the U.S., in the field of commerce and manufacturing, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.

– Woodrow Wilson, “The New Freedom” (1913).

Then I commented on how former President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the “Military Industrial Complex” in his farewell address and on John F. Kennedy’s “Secret Society”  speech delivered just 100 days after Ike’s.

Next, I spoke of the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 and mentioned the book “The Creature from Jekyl Island” before saying that I viewed Wall Street and Main Street as distinctly separate constructs.

At this, the socialist commented on how only the rich ever got richer.

I then stated how I believe some things are worth conserving like the U.S. Constitution, and how I was grateful that I was able to grow up in, at least, the fading light of Norman Rockwell’s America.

“Sure”, I continued, “You might say that blacks were treated badly in the 1950s, but leftists today have coopted civil rights when, in truth, it began in the churches of Montgomery County, Alabama. Ya know?”

At this, the socialist paused and seemed like he was going to say something but, then, just slightly nodded.

Next, I mentioned how Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, after leaving the Washington Post, wrote a 25,000-word cover story in Rolling Stone magazine in October 1977 on how the mainstream media has coordinated “hand in glove with the Central Intelligence Agency” (CIA).  I chose Bernstein because I thought he might find him more accessible than any potential “conspiracies” regarding “Operation Mockingbird”.

I furthermore shared how I’ve watched politics closely from the times of Jimmy Carter’s gas lines, hostages in Iran, Ronald Reagan, “Borked” Supreme Court nominees, a thousand points of light, a new world order, blue dresses, hanging chads, and lost friends from drunken tirades over Benghazi.

I told him how I was a patriotic neocon in the wake of September 11, 2001 and that I agreed with George the Younger that it was better for us to kill them over there than them killing us over here.  I mentioned how I disagreed with one of my politically independent friends who said it was a mistake for us to invade Iraq over “weapons of mass destruction”.

The socialist smiled, and added:  “They weren’t there”.

I replied:  “Nope. Yet, even after that, I swore to my friend that we had the Iran mullahs shaking in their slippers before Democrat Harry Reid, as Senate Majority leader in 2007, exclaimed to the world that the U.S. had lost the war in Iraq.

“That really pissed me off”, I said, “But, still, I was fooled and my friend was right.”

The socialist looked at me seriously. It seemed he appreciated my candidness and was curious as to where I might be going with all this.

So I continued.

I commented how the same media outlets that tricked us with “weapons of mass destruction” are now being used by the Military-Industrial Complex as “weapons of mass distraction”. In other words, the same corporate media who tricked me with non-existent WMD’s fooled him with Russian collusion.

“Trump was elected on the platform of immigration and trade”, said I.  “But just as Bush II doubled the national debt and Obama doubled debt once more, so, too, do the deficits grow under Trump. The bankers always win.”

To which the socialist mentioned tax cuts as the reason for Trump’s exploding deficits and our discussion drifted into other economic topics.

Eventually, I asked him:  “What if Trump was meant to be a wrecking ball? I mean, think about it. All of our institutions are now failing – the media, the FBI and Department of Justice, Congress, and even U.S. elections.  What happens in 2020 if Trump says illegal immigration turned Texas blue and contests the results? Civil war?”

I could see the socialist thinking about that one. He added:  “The extremes on both sides are the problem.  Maybe what we need is a new Centrist Party”.

“But really…”, I stated, “there are two primary dynamics at play.  Globalism, or rather, centralized power via the United Nations as opposed to constitutional national sovereignty. In that regard, then, the globalists must destroy America. Do you see?”

He just looked at me blankly, but I could see the wheels turning. Maybe he liked that idea. I didn’t ask. Instead, I kept going.

“What if the Trump Show was reality TV?” I asked.  “Because he talked about financial bubbles as a candidate, but now, as president, he has taken complete ownership of the financial markets. If the economy crashes, Warren or Sanders or one of the current Democratic Party primary contenders will likely win the presidency. And if they do and then try to take the guns, then that could spark a civil war as well. Ya know?”

I added that I thought Trump was either 1.) real and trying to drain the swamp, 2.) real and unwittingly serving as a scapegoat for the global financial elite or 3.) a Judas Goat working in conjunction with the globalists.

The socialist responded by saying that he thought Trump was just an asshole using the presidency for his personal financial gain and that he would hate Trump no matter what party he represented. “He used to be a Democrat, you know.”

I then mentioned how the infamous underworld attorney, Roy Cohn, Trump’s mentor, once said in an interview that Trump was the closest thing to a genius he’d ever seen on earth.

To which the socialist responded by saying:  “He may be a marketing genius, but that’s it.”

We then talked about how Hillary Clinton benefited from super-delegates in 2016 in order to steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders.  He said he thought Bernie would have beat Trump.

In turn, I replied: “So if that was rigged, maybe the powers-that-be wanted Trump to win.”

He nodded to that and this is where we stopped for the day.  All in all it was a good conversation and we avoided the left-right talking points and positions.

At some point, however, I want to take it to new levels and I do believe he may be receptive. 

We’ll see.

It is my intention to eventually mention the secret CIA initiative revealed by former United States Naval Intelligence Briefing Team member William Cooper.  In his 1991 book “Behold a Pale Horse”, Cooper described a plan by the CIA to utilize drugs and hypnosis on mental patients in order to coerce them into shooting children in schools.  The project was meant to inflame the antigun lobby and cause middle-class Americans to beg their government “protectors” into obliterating the 2nd Amendment.

– Cooper, Milton William. (1991). “Behold a Pale Horse”, Light Technology Publications, page 225

If the socialist is receptive, I might explain to him some of the mass killing event timelines as described in my August 2019 article “Politicians Promote Murder, Mayhem, & Terror to Propagandize Political Agendas & Consolidate Power”; some of the more recent examples, of course, taking place prior to the 2018 Midterm Elections.

Just after the Democrats bared their collective asses during the Kavanaugh Hearings, right on schedule, an anti-semitic white nationalist shot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a Republican, with “Make America Great Again” stickers on his white van, was arrested for mailing explosive devices to President Trump’s most prominent political opponents.

Then, later, immediately after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s pathetic testimony before Congress on July 24, 2019 – the following occurred:

 – On Sunday July 28, 2019 suspect Santino William Legan, 19, used an AK-47 rifle to murder three people and maim 13 others at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California. 

– Six days later, on Saturday August 3, 2019, at a Walmart in El Paso Texas – Patrick Crusius, 21, used an AK-47 rifle to kill 24 people; injuring 22 more. 

– And the very next day, on Sunday August 4, 2019 Connor Stephen Betts, 24, used a .223-caliber rifle to murder 10 people and wound at least 27 others.

And, the most recent shooting?  It occurred at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita California on November 14, 2019; the day of this writing and, obviously, the day after the public impeachment hearings collapsed on live television.

What a way to change the narrative, because, today, the Santa Clarita shooting had been the leading story on AM radio top-of-the-hournewsbreaks as well as populating the twitter feeds of Democratic Party leaders.

These events quite often appear to unveil in similar ways:  There are shots fired, followed by eyewitness accounts of more than one shooter.  Then, the YouTube videos of those reporting on multiple attackers will be scrubbed from the internet.

Within hours, the murderers will be reported to be extremely troubled, if not insane, and likely on psychotropic drugs, as several people claim they all “saw it coming”, or, in some instances, saying they were completely surprised that the person they knew could massacre so many.

Additionally, prophetic postings placed prior on social media by the shooter will be revealed – but most always after it’s too late. And, typically, of course, an AR-type rifle, or semi-automatic handgun will have been used and most often with larger-capacity magazines.  And, quite often, a manifesto of some sort is discovered.

Then, finally, like the sun rising after a long dark night, the political establishment will loudly crow like over-caffeinated roosters about “doing something” so “it never happens again”.

Every time.

The national narrative has been changed as if by explosive remote control; the ensuing gun debate will further divide the country as it mobilizes the Political Left and Right; as President Trump is once again placed under tremendous political pressure to move against guns.  In so doing, he loses the support of his base.

Yet, in spite of all these outcomes, can anyone PROVE these timely massacres are false flags?  Of course not.  Because bullshit fills the air while the world turns. To the victims and their families, please accept my condolences. And Epstein didn’t kill himself.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 14:30
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Published:11/16/2019 1:45:02 PM
[Markets] Marijuana Stocks Go Up In Smoke Amid Disastrous Earnings Marijuana Stocks Go Up In Smoke Amid Disastrous Earnings

Marijuana investors realize their investments in Canopy Growth, Tilray, Cronos, and Aurora Cannabis are going up in smoke after the latest round of earnings, reported The Wall Street Journal

2019 has been a wake-up call to the millennial investor, many of whom went out on the risk curve and piled all their savings into pot stocks. 

In the last eight months, ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF has lost 56% of its value amid disappointing earnings reports via companies it holds in its basket. 

Shares of Canopy Growth slid last week, has a 6.85% weight in MJ, after revenue in Q3 plunged and missed Wall Street expectations after guiding lower. Shares of Canopy Growth have crashed 41% this year.

Cronos (7.18% weight in MJ) and Tilray (7.76% weight in MJ), also plunged last week amid disappointing earnings. Year to date, their shares are down 72% and 34%, respectively. 

Canopy Growth CEO Mark Zekulin told analysts Thursday during a conference call that "It's been a challenging couple quarters in the cannabis sector." 

Zekulin said the future is bright, but short-term challenges persist. "There is still an emerging global cannabis opportunity with hundreds of billions of dollars across medical, pharmaceutical, CBD and recreational cannabis," he added. 

Todd Harrison, Founding Partner and CIO of CB1 Capital, said the implosion of pots stocks this year could rival past bubbles he's traded. 

"Been trading 30 yrs and I've seen a lot of hate. Tech stocks during the dot-com implosion. Home-builders during the housing crisis. Bank stocks into teeth of the GFC. IDK if #cannabis is there yet; but it's close." 

The saving grace for marijuana investors is apparent, a Democrat would need to win the presidential election next year, considering all candidates on the left support legalizing marijuana at a federal level, which could double the cannabis industry. 

As for now, the pot bubble has imploded and perhaps could suggest market liquidity is becoming scarce.  

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 14:00
Published:11/16/2019 1:12:20 PM
[Markets] Elizabeth Warren’s ‘mug of billionaire tears’ costs $25 and is one of the hottest-selling items on her campaign website Elizabeth Warren’s cup of “Billionaire Tears” has become one of the hottest selling items on the Massachusetts senators' presidential campaign web site, claim people familiar. Published:11/16/2019 12:41:41 PM
[Markets] The Free Money Bubble Is About To Burst The Free Money Bubble Is About To Burst

Authored by Michael Pento via SafeHaven.com,

Recently, there has been a parade of central bankers along with their lackeys on Wall Street coming on the financial news networks and desperately trying to convince investors that there are no bubbles extant in the world today. Indeed, the Fed sees no economic or market imbalances anywhere that should give perma-bulls cause for concern. You can listen to Jerome Powell’s upbeat assessment of the situation in his own words during the latest FOMC press conference here. The Fed Chair did, however, manage to acknowledge that corporate debt levels are in fact a bit on the high side. But he added that “we have been monitoring it carefully and taken appropriate steps.” By taking appropriate steps to reduce debt levels Powell must mean slashing interest rates and going back into QE. The problem with that strategy being that is exactly what caused the debt binge and overleveraged condition of corporations in the first place.

Global central banks have abrogated the free market and are in the practice of repealing the business cycle and ensuring stocks are in a permanent bull market. Massive and unrelenting money printing is the “tool” that they use. The good old USA had its central bank cut rates to 0 percent by the end of 2008 to combat the Great Recession; and that paved the way for the EU to join the free-money parade by 2016. In fact, the Band of Japan had already been at the zero-bound range years before. This means much of the developed world has been giving money away gratis for the better part of a decade.

And now central banks actually want you to believe that multiple years' worth of global ZIRP has somehow left asset prices devoid of any significant distortions. All is normal here, or so we are told. So, I thought it would be prudent to shed some light on a few of those glaring imbalances that should be obvious to all except a debased central banker. To be blind to them screams of incompetence or mendacity--or both.

  • Forty percent of Europe's investment grade corporate debt offers a negative yield and there are at this time $15 trillion worth of sovereign debt globally with a negative yield as well.

  • The valuation of equities in the U.S. is now for the first time ever 1.5 times its phony and free-money-goosed GDP.

  • Yet, at the same time S&P 500 margins and earnings are shrinking.

  • The U.S. has increased its business debt by 60 percent since the Great Recession--it now totals $16 trillion, which is an all-time high in nominal terms and as a percent of GDP.

  • Much of this debt has been used to buy back stock and reduce share counts to boost EPS. Corporate buybacks, which were illegal in the U.S. before 1982, will breach $1 trillion this year. As far as the Fed is concerned, issuing a record amount of debt to buy back stocks at record high valuations is just fine.

According to the BIS, 12 percent of businesses in the developed world have become zombies--having to issue new debt just to pay the interest on existing debt—this figure is also at a record. The average interest rate on the U.S. 10-year Treasury Note prior to the Great Recession was about 7 percent. Today, this rate is a lowly 1.8 percent.

It appears central banks are completely oblivious to the global bond bubble even though they are its very progenitor. For further examples, back in the European debt crisis of 2012, the borrowing costs for the insolvent countries known as the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain) shot up to the thermosphere. The Greek 10-year Note hit a yield of 40 percent and caused the economy to crash under the weight of its mountain of debt and skyrocketing servicing costs. This led to an explicit and partial debt default of its obligations and a humongous European Central Bank bond-buying program that promised “to do whatever it takes” to bring down yields. The Greek 10-year yield is now just 1.6 percent, even though the country's National debt to GDP ratio has actually increased from 159 percent in 2012, to just under 200 percent today. How can this be? The answer is, Greek debt is once again in a gargantuan bubble, but this time around it is now and forever on the life support of ECB counterfeiting. It is the same story in Portugal. Its 10-year Note yield shot up to an untenable 16 percent in 2012. But through the magic of the printing press it is now just under 0.25 percent. As incredible as that rate is, it exists even though Portugal’s National debt to GDP ratio is still over 120 percent; just about the same level it was back in 2012 when the market caused its rate to skyrocket.

The U.S. deficit increased by 26 percent y/y and is now $1 trillion per annum. The annual deficits are projected by the CBO to be at least $1.2 trillion for the next decade. That is, if everything goes perfectly fine in the economy and rates stay at historic lows--and there is never another recession. For Mr. Powell and company, all this is viewed as being completely normal.

In addition, history has proved throughout the centuries that once an economy has more than a 90 percent total debt to GDP ratio, its economic growth becomes impaired. The total in the U.S. is now 330 percent, in the EU it is 450 percent, and Japan has over 600 percent total debt to GDP. How did the entire developed world become so debt-disabled? The answer is simple: artificial interest rates provided by central banks have incentivized, facilitated and enabled governments to issue massive amounts of debt with impunity. Again, according to central bankers there is nothing to see here.

These are just a  few of the many examples of market distortions arising from central banks artificially pushing yields into the sub-basement of history. Now they have destroyed the market-based pricing of fixed income and equities across the globe. These markets have now become wards of the state forever and ever amen.

The sad truth is that the entire artificial and tenuous construct of markets is predicated on interest rates that perpetually fall and never increase. As long as this baneful dynamic is in place, asset bubbles grow bigger, and debt levels rise. Thus, making the economy increasingly more dependent on lower and lower interest rates. The problem is most central banks have already arrived at the zero-bound range and/or are in various stages of QE. Even the horrific Fed only has one and half percentage points from running out of ammo to reduce borrowing costs and is already printing $60 billion per month in QE. And yes, that is exactly what it should be called. Hence, when (not if) the next economic contraction begins, money markets will once again freeze and the record number of zombie companies will begin laying off millions of employees as a result of being shut out of the credit market. Then, the global bubble in junk corporate debt will crater and cause panic in equity markets like never before in history.

According to the Fed and the deep-state on Wall Street, all is completely normal.

The China stock bubble burst 12 years ago, and the Shanghai exchange is still down 50 percent from that high. Japan's bubble burst 30 years ago, and investors are still down 40 percent. Global central banks have set the table for a record implosion of markets and the major U.S. averages are by far the most overvalued. This is why it is imperative to model the dynamics in credit markets to ensure you can participate in the upside of stocks while the charade lasts. But most importantly, also avoid getting slaughtered like a passively managed pigeon once interest rates spike and the global credit bubble finally bursts.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 13:30
Published:11/16/2019 12:41:41 PM
[Markets] Key Words: Kissinger says failure to mend U.S.-China trade relations would be ‘worse than the world wars that ruined European civilization’ Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. Secretary of State and national-security adviser under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, had dire warnings about the inability of the U.S. and China to resolve their differences on international trade.
Published:11/16/2019 12:41:41 PM
[Markets] The big worries facing stock investors in 2020, according to Citi’s top equity strategist In our call of the day, MarketWatch speaks to Citigroup’s chief U.S. equity strategist, Tobias Levkovich, who lays out his big concerns for stock markets in 2020. Published:11/16/2019 12:11:18 PM
[Markets] Iran Burning: Shock Gas Price Hike Triggers Violent Protests After Subsidy Cuts Iran Burning: Shock Gas Price Hike Triggers Violent Protests After Subsidy Cuts

With protests and unrest raging in multiple hot spots around the globe from Latin America to Hong Kong to Lebanon and Iraq, it could be Iran's turn to join in. 

Amid a fresh price hike in gasoline — the latest in a string of woes to hit the sanctions ravaged Iranian economy, ultimately making life miserable for the common populace — rare mass protests have broken out in multiple cities

Image source: RFERL/Iranian social meida 

Protests and clashes with police began Friday when petrol prices suddenly rose by at least 50% after government subsidies on it were slashed. Government statements said the plan is to divert the funds in order to make cash payments to low-income households. 

In essence Tehran authorities dubiously claim they were forced to "free up money" to assist the poor; however, it appears more drastic scrambling as Tehran struggles to find global purchasers to offload its oil. 

And as of Saturday Reuters Persian reports that gas prices have tripled, taking millions of angry middle class demonstrators to the streets across the country.

The BBC reports that the protests are fierce enough to have already led to at least two deaths and multiple injured as demonstrations are active in at least a dozen cities:

One person was killed during protests in the central city of Sirjan. State news agency Irna said there were clashes with police when protesters attacked a fuel storage warehouse and tried to set fire to it.

Several more people were injured. A protester also died in the city of Behbahan.

Other cities were also affected including the capital, Tehran, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Tabriz, Karadj, Shiraz, Yazd, Boushehr and Sari.

The AP reported that while at the start of this week drivers were allotted up to 250 liters a month at the pump at at a controlled 10,000 rials per liter, as of Friday that changed drastically to an allowance of 60 liters (or 13 gallons) of petrol a month at 15,000 rials ($0.13; £0.10) a liter. Additional liters after that cost 30,000 rials. 

In response, one protest method has been for motorists to turn off their vehicles in the middle of busy streets, blocking traffic and adding the frustration of security forces. 

Meanwhile, Iranian state media has admitted that violent clashes with police are underway. As Deutsche Welle reports of the official statements:

In the city of Sirjan in central Iran, demonstrators tried to set a fuel warehouse on fire in protests that police described as "severe."

The semi-official news agency INSA reported that one civilian was killed and several others injured.

Acting governor Mohammad Mahmoudabadi said some people had exploited the "calm gathering" and had destroyed public property and damaged fuel stations. He added it was unclear whether the victim had been shot dead by security forces who were "trying to bring back calm to the city."

There are also reports that protesters have begun targeting banks, after video was posted online of what appears to show the Central Bank In Behbahan, Iran being engulfed in flames as demonstrators chant.

Brief local news coverage of the bank building going up in flames:

In the below video now circulating widely among Iranian opposition activist accounts, live gun fire is heard as both protest and police lines scatter. 

Security forces appear to be retreating into a police headquarters amid an attacking crowd. And what sounds like live ammo is then fired by police defenders of the HQ.

On Saturday the protests have appeared to get more confrontational, as police were filmed using riot control measures against crowds, and with some unconfirmed reports of live fire being used, as has been the case over the past month in neighboring Iraq. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 13:00
Published:11/16/2019 12:11:18 PM
[Markets] Medicare-For-All "Socialism" Is Just Another Racket Medicare-For-All "Socialism" Is Just Another Racket

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The entire system of health needs to be re-organized from the ground up, and funding the rackets will only speed the collapse of the system.

The core problem with "socialist" proposals such as Medicare-for-All is that they don't actually fix what's broken--they just expand existing rackets such as the healthcare/sickcare racket, the higher education racket, and so on.

Let's start by separating "real socialism" (state ownership of the means of production) from "faux socialism" (the state borrows trillions of dollars to fund self-serving public-private rackets).

The basic idea of classic socialism is that state ownership of the means of production enables the state to harvest the surplus production and invest it in the public good. If the state is organized as a democracy, then the public gets a say in defining "the public good" and changing course if the national surplus is being mal-invested or diverted into the hands of the few under the guise of "the public good."

What's being labeled "socialist" in present-day U.S.A. is nothing more than the state borrowing from future generations to fund profiteering rackets today. It's hardly a secret that the U.S. spends twice as much per person on healthcare but trails the pack of other developed nations in actual health. (See infographic below for the facts, which I have discussed here for 14 years.)

Problem #1 is robust health isn't profitable, while managing chronic lifestyle diseases and pushing needless/harmful medications and procedures are immensely profitable.

Problem #2 is the external costs of destructive but oh-so-profitable products are not paid by either producers or consumers at the point of purchase. The tobacco industry offers an example of this decoupling of "price discovery" and externalities that manifest years or decades later.

Selling tobacco was and is an enormously profitable venture, but only because the full costs of tobacco use manifest many years after the products are purchased and consumed, and these costs do not fall on the tobacco producers but on the consumers (who suffer terrible health consequences and early death), and on the healthcare system and society at large, which must absorb the staggering direct cost of dealing with the diseases caused by tobacco addiction and the indirect costs of lost productivity and early death.

For every $1 of profit the tobacco companies earned, $100 of future external costs were imposed on the consumers of tobacco and society at large. If the full external costs were levied at the point of sale, tobacco would be extremely expensive, and if the true risks had been advertised as heavily as the products themselves, the tobacco companies' liability exposure would have made the packaging and selling of tobacco an unprofitable business.

To maintain profitability, the tobacco companies engaged in a decades-long campaign to mask the real-world health consequences of using their products. The goal was three-fold: hide the well-known consequences of tobacco addiction, maintain that tobacco wasn't addictive, and maintain that it wasn't unhealthy, decoupling the sale of tobacco from the eventual costs.

The same dynamic is in play with America's food industry. Garbage in, garbage out: garbage "food" in, garbage health out.

This plays perfectly into sickcare's PR, which is that there is a magic handful of oh-so-profitable pills one can swallow to "fix" all the disorders caused by a garbage diet and near-zero fitness. And in case your doctor didn't adequately explain the wunnerful benefits of the magic handful of oh-so-profitable pills, Big Pharma helpfully spends billions of dollars on ads to promote a magical-thinking belief that some new med or procedure will "fix" complex, inter-connected metabolic disorders created by poor diet and an absence of fitness.

Medicare-for-All is simply a way to fund the racket as painlessly as possible, which is to borrow from future generations to fund profiteering rackets in Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Packaged Food/Fast Food, and so on--the equivalents of Big Tobacco.

Just as smokers were encouraged to kill themselves without being aware of the eventual consequences of tobacco addiction, consumers of highly processed foods are killing themselves without being aware of the eventual consequences.

The promoters of Medicare-for-All offer a Band-Aid to fund the racketeering nature of U.S. healthcare: we're gonna tax the billionaires and they'll pay for the racket. It would be comical if it wasn't so painfully obvious that in our pay-to-play political circus, any new tax bill will be larded with exceptions and loopholes.

Let's say the "tax the rich" proposals raise $50 billion -- woohoo. But this is a drop in the bucket of additional costs incurred by Medicare-for-All, which could easily top $500 billion a year.

Nobody pushing Medicare-for-All dares connect the dots between garbage in, garbage out lifestyles and an unsustainably costly healthcare system of gargantuan waste, fraud, shameless profiteering, needless/harmful med and procedures, etc., a system which consumes twice as much money per person as our developed-world competitors for a measure of national health that is, if we're honest with ourselves (gasp), actually declining.

The entire system of health needs to be re-organized from the ground up, and funding the rackets will only speed the collapse of the system.

U.S. Healthcare Spending, courtesy of Peter G. Peterson Foundation

*  *  *

My recent books:

Will You Be Richer or Poorer? Profit, Power and A.I. in a Traumatized World (Kindle $6.95, print $11.95) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 (Kindle), $12 (print), $13.08 ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

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*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 12:30
Published:11/16/2019 11:41:18 AM
[Markets] After nailing a call for a pullback in June, Canaccord’s Dwyer predicts another S&P 500 slide Cannacord Genuity strategist Tony Dwyer is once again predicting an S&P 500 retracement. He explains why. Published:11/16/2019 11:19:02 AM
[Markets] Zelensky "Loves Your Ass": Hearsay-Gate Intensifies Over Trump-Sondland Call Zelensky "Loves Your Ass": Hearsay-Gate Intensifies Over Trump-Sondland Call

House Democrats have teed up their next 'gotcha' that will surely bring down Trump; a US official overheard a phone call between the president and his top diplomat in Europe in which Trump was told that the president of Ukraine "loves your ass" - after which Trump, whose voice carries, asked "So he's gonna do the investigation?"

Pack it up boys, Trump's done!

Overheard by US Embassy in Ukraine official David Holmes, the alleged conversation took place just one day after the infamous July 25 phone call at the heart of the impeachment, in which President Trump politely asked Zelensky to investigate the Bidens and political matters relating to the 2016 US election.

What's more, Holmes salts the geopolitical wound - suggesting Trump is simply grabbing Ukraine by the pussy and doesn't actually care about the country.

According to Holmes, Sondland replied “he’s gonna do it,” adding that Zelenskiy will do “anything you ask him to.”

Holmes said he later asked Sondland if the president cared about Ukraine, and Sondland said Trump did not “give a s--- about Ukraine.

“I asked why not, and Ambassador Sondland stated that the president only cares about ‘big stuff,’” Holmes testified, according to the document posted by CNN. “I noted that there was ‘big stuff’ going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia, and Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant ‘big stuff’ that benefits the president, like the ‘Biden investigation.”’ -Bloomberg

Hear that Volodomyr?

Holmes told House Investigators this latest tidbit of 'damning hearsay' in a closed-door session Friday (which was promptly leaked). Now, the State Department employee is now set to peddle this latest scandal du jour in public testimony next week.

Why is it a "gotcha?" According to Bloomberg the conversation, held in an open-air restaurant on an unsecured phone (another gotcha) - "could yield the most direct evidence yet that the president himself pressured a foreign power to conduct politically motivated investigations."

This, despite an actual transcript of the phone call revealing no such 'pressure,' and Zelensky publicly saying the same. And now we learn Zelensky 'loves Trump's ass,' which would suggest Trump wouldn't have to apply pressure at all.

As Democrats continue to frame Trump's investigation requests as impeachable election meddling - a 'high crime and misdemeanor' - nobody seems to care about getting to the bottom of what the Bidens did in Ukraine.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 12:00
Tags
Published:11/16/2019 11:19:02 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Seeing America again through new eyes In 2011, at 50, I took early retirement from my job as an air-traffic controller, left Texas and began traveling the world.
Published:11/16/2019 11:19:02 AM
[Markets] Is The Fed Directly Monetizing US Debt? Is The Fed Directly Monetizing US Debt?

Authored by Chris Martenson via PeakProsperity.com,

The Federal Reserve is now directly monetizing US federal debt.

Sure, it’s not admitting to this. And it’s using several technical jinks and jives to offer a pretense that things are otherwise.

But it’s not terribly difficult to predict what’s going to happen next: the Federal Reserve will drop the secrecy and start buying US debt openly.

At a time, mind you, when US fiscal deficits are exploding and foreign buyers are heading for the exits.

How It’s Supposed to Work

Here’s how it’s supposed to work when the US government issues new debt:

  1. If the US Treasury needs to raise new funds, it announces an upcoming auction of US Treasury bills/notes/bonds.

  2. A date for the auction is set.

  3. Various participants bid for those bills/notes/bonds (including ‘regular folks’ like you and me if we’re using the government’s Treasury Direct program).

  4. At a later date, the Fed can buy those US Treasury bills/notes/bonds. The various holders of that debt submit offers to sell, and the Fed (presumably) selects the best offers on the best terms.

The Federal Reserve, under no conditions, buys Treasury paper directly.  The Federal Reserve’s own website still maintains that this is the case:

(Source)

There are two important claims plus one assertion I’ve highlighted in there, each in a different color:

  1. Yellow: Treasury securities may “only be bought and sold in the open market.”

  2. Blue: doing otherwise might compromise the independence of the Fed.

  3. Purple: the Fed mostly buys “old” securities.

So according to the Fed: it’s independent, it follows the rules set forth in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, and it mostly buys “old” Treasury paper that the market has already properly priced in a free and fair system.

But that’s not really what’s going on…

What’s Actually Happening

It’s now clear that something spooked the Fed badly in September.

We still don’t know what exactly went on, but the Repo market blew up. While this was a clear sign that something big was amiss, the Fed has not yet explained what the cause was, who needed to be bailed out, or why.

And it’s not going to anytime soon. It recently announced that its records on the matter are going to be sealed for at least two years.

While the Fed is ostensibly a public institution, and yes transparency should be extremely important — at least to maintain the appearance that it’s being careful with public monies — the Fed is prioritizing secrecy here.

Whatever’s going on has been serious enough for the Fed to openly lie. And not just in regards to the repo market.

“It’s not QE!” Fed chair Jerome Powell recently declared upon relaunching an asset purchase program that has already expanded the Fed’s balance sheet by hundreds of billion of dollars.

Given all the secrecy, obfuscation and lies, the Fed is now in clear violation of the spirit of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.

Recall from above that the Fed “only buys Treasury securities in the open market”, meaning from other banks and financial institutions.  That’s how the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 is written:

(Source – the Fed)

Let’s walk through an example that connects the dots here.

Just know that this is but a single example out of many.

Data point #1   

Each and every Treasury offering comes with an identifying number called a “CUSIP” number (referring to the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures).

On October 31st, 2019 the Treasury Department held an auction for a series of 8-week T-bills with the CUSIP number 912796WL9.

November 5th, 2019 those T-bills were “issued”, meaning that was the actual date that they were to become active.  Before that date, nobody had possession of them and nobody was earning interest on them:

From the Treasury Offering Announcement above, on November 5, 2019, $40 billion of CUSIP number 912796WL9 were issued to the market.

It’s worth pointing out that no money changes hands on auction day (Oct 31 in this instance). It only does when the bills are issued (Nov 5 in this case).

Data point #2

Looking at the Federal Reserve’s website, we can see what they bought and when (but not for how much).

There we find that very same T-bill with the CUSIP 912796WL9 showing up as having been purchased by the Fed Nov 5, 2019 — the very date of its issuance:

(Source)

The Fed bought more than $4 billion of this CUSIP.  If these T-bills were out in the “open market” they weren’t there for long. At most, less than a day before the Fed scooped them up.

Does it really matter if a big bank sits ever-so-briefly between the Fed and the Treasury debt it buys?

Maybe to a trial lawyer seeking to get a guilty client off on a technicality. But this certainly doesn’t qualify as “old” paper.

This is the Fed buying huge amounts of very freshly minted – not even a day old! – government paper using the power of its electronic printing press.

What’s the practical difference between the Fed buying this directly from the US government and buying it same day it issues from a big bank?

Virtually nothing — except the big bank probably took home a very hefty paycheck for conducting this “service” as a middleman.  Later JP Morgan, et al., can report magnificent “profits” from their ”trading activities”, which amounted to little more than calling the Fed the week before and asking how many $billions of these Treasury bills they wanted.

Just a temporary middleman who, if only skimming a single basis point (1/100 of a percent), would have gotten $400,000 in “trading profits”  for holding onto a big pile of government paper for less than a single day, with a guaranteed buyer with infinitely deep pockets already lined up.  Great work if you can get it, eh?

But not very fair. Nor even remotely in line with the spirit of the Federal Reserve Act. Or what capital markets are supposed to be about. Or the Fed’s actual mandate.

The summary here is this: the Fed is buying US government paper on the day it’s issued.

The Fed is directly monetizing US debt.

Which means…

MMT is Already Here!

The debate over whether or not MMT (“Modern Monetary Theory” see here for background and discussion) should or should not happen is now moot.

It’s already here.

Over the past year, the US government has spent ~ $1.3 trillion more than it took in.  To cover the shortfall, it had to raid the Social Security piggy bank for (another) $276 billion and tap the “markets” for another $1.1 trillion.

If not MMT, what other name should we give a program where the US government spends $1.3 trillion more than it takes in and the Federal Reserve covers the shortfall by by purchasing US government debt on the day of issuance?

Does it matter if the US government issues it out of thin air, or if the Fed creates the same cash money out of thin air?  Does it really matter in the slightest what the precise mechanisms is if the results are identical?

I would argue they don’t matter in the slightest.

All that remains now is to argue over what to spend all that fresh cash on.

Sure, some might like to debate whether we should be doing this or not. But the reality is: there’s little point in arguing over whether something should happen if it’s already happening.

Now all that’s left to debate is how much larger or smaller the Fed’s government debt monetization efforts might be.

Further, we might debate exactly what the government is spending all that money on.  Or what the repercussions will be of the dangerous monetary road we’re now careening down.

But I’m not aware of any particular representative of mine even being aware of the situation, let alone concerned.

Conclusion

This is a very serious and extremely important conversation to have. But it’s not being had at all.

During Jay Powell’s last news conference, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve (and defender and champion of the largest wealth transfer to the rich in world history) was not asked a single question on this topic.

Nobody asked anything about the extreme and accelerating wealth and income gaps, both direct outcomes of the Fed’s policies.

Nobody expressed concern about the Fed’s secretive actions, its direct debt monetization, or its violation of the Federal Reserve Act.

The US media is toothless. I assume today’s journalists are simply too afraid of losing their jobs to speak truth to power, and have slipped into quiet acceptance of a mere stenographer’s role.

“Yes, Mr. Powell, you’ve reversed course and have started lowering interest rates again, and have resumed growing the Fed’s balance sheet via new QE. Oh yes, you’re right, it’s ‘not QE’. How silly of me. But despite those emergency measures, the economy is ‘in a good place’ and we all should be super optimistic? Got it. Yes, sir — very inspiring. Anything else?”

You’d think, given the enormous troubles that tend to follow central bank debt monetization that there’d be some curiosity on the topic, but no.  No pushback from the media or Congress, direct or tangential.

Meanwhile the Fed has tossed a mind-boggling $285 billion of permanent new money into the “markets” over the past couple of months, and is conducting daily operations that put additional tens of billions of dollars of short-term money into the markets as well.

All while claiming everything is fine.

Sure doesn’t feel that way, does it?

In Part 2: Why The Risk Of A Correction Is So High Right Now, we demonstrate why the faith today’s investors are placing in the Fed’s ability to push prices ever-higher is dangerously overextended.

Stock gains have already zoomed way ahead of the Fed’s recent excess liquidity measures, and it will not take much to topple them.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access).

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 11:30
Published:11/16/2019 10:42:06 AM
[Markets] Everyone is bullish on stocks all of a sudden — here’s why you shouldn’t be Some money managers may be experiencing a fear of missing out, which could juice stocks in the short term.
Published:11/16/2019 10:42:06 AM
[Markets] About 55% of wealthy investors are bracing for a ‘significant drop’ in stocks before the end of 2020, UBS survey shows Even as the market ascends to new heights, wealthy investors are bracing for a turbulent period that could produce a “significant drop” in equity benchmarks in the near term. Published:11/16/2019 10:11:41 AM
[Markets] Ex-CIA Chief Petraeus: Saudis "Running Out Of Money" & Urgently Need Aramco IPO Cash Ex-CIA Chief Petraeus: Saudis "Running Out Of Money" & Urgently Need Aramco IPO Cash

Late this week Gen. David Petraeus, retired four-star Army general and former head of the CIA, appeared on CNBC and proclaimed that Saudi Arabia is “gradually running out of money.”

In the Thursday interview he addressed the on-again, off-again IPO of state-run oil company Aramco as well as Mohammed bin Salman's initiative to diversity the kingdom's economy over the coming decade to reduce oil dependency. Addressing the degree to which MbS' own success and survival is tied to the IPO, the ex-CIA director explained:

“It’s a fact that Saudi Arabia is gradually running out of money, they’d be the first to acknowledge that the sovereign wealth fund has been reduced, it’s somewhere below $500 billion now,” Petraeus, who's also currently chair of the KKR Global Institute, told the CNBC host as they spoke in Abu Dhabi.

“The (budget) deficits each year, depending on the price of Brent crude, can be anywhere from $40 to $60 billion depending on some of their activities in countries in the region.”

“The bottom line is that they need the money, they need that outside investment that is crucial to delivering ‘Vision 2030’ which cannot be realized without outside investment, this is just one component of a number of different initiatives that they’re pursuing to try to attract that outside investment,” he added.

The pessimistic assessment also came on the heels of the close of Riyadh's Future Investment Initiative (FII), or 'Davos in the Desert' — which though largely boycotted by the big names last year (including Petraeus himself as KKR Chairman) over the murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, saw Wall Street and international political leaders return in droves this year. 

And speaking of the grisly death and dismemberment of Kashoggi on Oct. 2, 2018 at the Istanbul consulate at the hands of a Saudi hit team on orders that no doubt were straight from the top (MbS, according to the UN and CIA), Gen. Petreaus described it as a mere "misstep"

According to the interview

He said there had been some “missteps — some of them truly grievous, the horrific murder of (Saudi journalist Jamal) Khashoggi being foremost among those” but added that “at the end of the day, we all want Saudi Arabia to succeed, and for that to happen Vision 2030 is some element of that.”

Of course there's also the Saudi-led war on Yemen, now in its fifth year which has claimed over 100,000 lives by most estimates. This was carefully avoided in the interview. 

His comments on Saudi Aramco underscored how much is riding for the kingdom on the IPO — that it needs to be hugely successful: "The bottom line is again, they need the money. They need that outside investment..." he said. As we explained weeks ago the outlook is bleak:

Once again reports are out that Saudi Aramco is said to be pushing its mammoth IPO top completed by the end of this year (reportedly relying more on Saudi and MidEast regional investors).

The kickoff, originally scheduled for Oct. 20, was delayed after Aramco got mixed feedback from international investors. Bloomberg reports that Aramco now plans to press on with the listing plans by relying more on investors from Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East to buy its shares, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

The Saudis plan to release some shares to the public starting in December in a continuing effort to attract outside investors. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 11:01
Published:11/16/2019 10:11:41 AM
[Markets] The New York Post: Prince Andrew should talk to cops, not media: Virginia Giuffre’s lawyer Prince Andrew should talk to police — not reporters — a lawyer for Jeffrey Epstein-victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre said.
Published:11/16/2019 10:11:41 AM
[Markets] German Farmers Block Hamburg In Revolt Against Globalist Environmental Regulations German Farmers Block Hamburg In Revolt Against Globalist Environmental Regulations

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

German farmers are blocking roads in Hamburg with their tractors to protest against environment regulations as the rural revolt against globalism spreads across Europe.

4,000 tractors arrived in Hamburg yesterday in a massive rebuke to what protesters assert is government bullying amidst efforts to impose Green New Deal-style control measures.

Regional environment ministers were meeting to discuss plans to ban certain weed killers and fertilizers, something that farmers insist will kill their livelihoods.

Placards displayed on the tractors included one that read, “No farm, no food, no future,” with farmers expressing their fury at being blamed while their contribution to the economy is ignored and ministers refuse to engage in dialogue with them.

“The rules, which are coming from the German government, are so hard for us that we can’t work on our farms,” Klaus-Peter Lucht, Vice President of the regional Farmers Association, told RT.

“We can’t make good crops. We can’t have good fodder for the dairy [cows].”

The kilometer long convoys of tractors caused “considerable traffic disruption” across the city, according to authorities.

Hamburg is just the latest site of a rural revolt against globalism that is sweeping Europe.

Last month, thousands of Dutch farmers descended on the Netherlands capital to protest against a government proposal that livestock production be slashed by up to 50% in the name of preventing global warming.

Demonstrators were angry that the same restrictions they may be hit with will not apply to the aviation industry.

The Yellow Vest movement in France, which is set to mark its first anniversary this weekend, also began as a backlash against onerous gas tax hikes and other regulations impacting rural workers.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 10:30
Published:11/16/2019 9:40:54 AM
[Markets] The Number One: There’s a good chance you’re kicking yourself if you majored in this in college Barack Obama, during one of his addresses to the nation when he was president, said, “The most important skill you can sell is your knowledge.” To wit, late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon quipped: “Or as English majors working at Starbucks put it, ‘No it’s not.’”
Published:11/16/2019 9:40:53 AM
[Markets] It’s great the stock market is setting records, but it’s not because the economy is great Stocks on Wall Street have soared to fresh record highs, but it’s not because the economy is flashing a big thumbs-up sign. Far from it. Published:11/16/2019 9:20:42 AM
[Markets] Vladimir Putin Sums Up The New World Order In 5 Words Vladimir Putin Sums Up The New World Order In 5 Words

Russian President Vladimir Putin succinctly summarized the shifting tectonic plates of geopolitics.

First he explained the status quo...

"The Dollar enjoyed great trust around the world. But, for some reason, it is now being used as a political weapon to  impose restrictions."

Then Putin explained the consequences...

"Many countries are now turning away from the Dollar as a Reserve Currency."

And ultimately what happens...

"US Dollar will collapse soon."

And just like that, it was gone. Remember "nothing lasts forever"...

As Bloomberg reports, Russia's central bank has been the largest buyer of gold in the past few years.

Source: Bloomberg

Of course, Putin is not the first (and won't be the last) to suggest the end is nigh for the dollar...

The World Bank's former chief economist wants to replace the US dollar with a single global super-currency, saying it will create a more stable global financial system.

"The dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crises," Justin Yifu Lin told Bruegel, a Brussels-based policy-research think tank. "The solution to this is to replace the national currency with a global currency."

Warren Buffett once explained that "for 240 years it’s been a terrible mistake to bet against America, and now is no time to start."

We don't mean to rain on his parade too much, but the following charts suggest time is ticking, as the world transitions from dollars to non-fiat reserves...

Source: Bloomberg

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 09:55
Published:11/16/2019 9:20:42 AM
[Markets] Google could be your wealth manager one day if lawmakers sign off The sky’s the limit for Google if they are able to launch their checking account service
Published:11/16/2019 9:20:42 AM
[Markets] "The Bubble's Already Popped": Peter Schiff Warns "Ignore What The Fed Says, Look At What They Do" "The Bubble's Already Popped": Peter Schiff Warns "Ignore What The Fed Says, Look At What They Do"

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Financial expert Peter Schiff says that people should ditch the dollar. And not just the dollar; all fiat currencies.  Instead, he says people should be buying gold, a “real safe haven” asset.

The real driver behind the rise of gold prices is the world’s central banks’ buying spree, says Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital.

“All of this is very bullish for gold and so rather than simply selling bonds people should be buying gold because they need to get out of the dollar,” says Schiff. 

“In fact, they need to get out of the fiat currencies in general and seek a real safe haven – and that’s gold,” he adds.

Back at the end of October, Schiff has also said that the stock market bubble had already popped, according to RT. (fwd to 18:20)

The Federal Reserve planned to inject $60 billion per month into the U.S. economy which is showing signs of a slowdown.

“Just ignore what they say and look at what they do,” Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital tells Boom Bust. 

“They are trying desperately to keep the air from coming out of this bubble but it’s not going to work,” he said, explaining that “The bubble has already popped.”

According to Schiff,

 “the only question is how fast is that air going to come out and when the market is going to figure out that the game is over, understand what the Fed has been doing, and the true nature of this bubble economy…”

What Could Pop The Everything Bubble?

Schiff also added that the most recent interest rate cut is a “desperate attempt to keep the air from coming out of the bubble, to maintain false consumer confidence.” Consumers are confident the economy is a disaster, he says, adding that they don’t have any money, they have lousy jobs, no savings, and are loaded down with debt.

“But, as long as they keep on borrowing money to buy stuff that they can’t afford with money they don’t have, for some reason they remain optimistic…” The Fed plays into this, Schiff says.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 09:20
Published:11/16/2019 8:40:30 AM
[Markets] Chinese Soldiers Deployed Onto Street Of Hong Kong To "Help Clean Up" Chinese Soldiers Deployed Onto Street Of Hong Kong To "Help Clean Up"

Dozens of People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers were spotted on the streets of Hong Kong's Kowloon Tong neighborhood on Saturday afternoon, cleaning up bricks and roadblocks left behind by pro-democracy protestors, according to broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK). 

This was the first time PLA soldiers have entered the streets of the city since the violent protests began in June.

The soldiers, unarmed, dressed in olive T-shirts with a Chinese flag on the sleeves, used buckets and brooms for about one hour to clean up streets around the barracks in Kowloon Tong, RTHK said.

One PLA soldier told the South China Morning Post that their actions weren't related to any direct orders from the Government of Hong Kong. 

"We initiated this! 'Stopping violence and ending chaos' is our responsibility," he said, quoting a phrase used by President Xi Jinping.

So far, there hasn't been any official statement from the Government of Hong Kong about PLA soldiers on the streets. 

According to Article 14 of the Garrison Law, PLA soldiers are permitted to enter the streets of Hong Kong to assist with disaster relief or maintaining public order if requested by the local government. 

On Thursday, President Xi broke his silence over the chaos in the city at the 11th BRICS Summit in Brazil. 

President Xi said the violent protests in Hong Kong threatened the rule of law and social order, which has sent the city into crisis. 

"We will continue to firmly support the chief executive in leading the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government to govern in accordance with the law, firmly support the Hong Kong police in strictly enforcing the law, and firmly support the Hong Kong judicial bodies in severely punishing the violent criminals in accordance with the law," he said. 

If violent protests persist, it could be entirely possible that PLA soldiers are re-deployed with riot control gear and weapons. 

Hong Kong has recently entered a technical recession. The city is on the verge of financial collapse. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 08:32
Published:11/16/2019 8:12:28 AM
[Markets] The Margin: This stockpicking app beat the S&P 500 by 4x last quarter — for investors born in the summer of 1997 The fate of your portfolio is written in the stars. Or at least it can be, if Daniel Greenberg and the professional pranksters behind the “Bull and Moon” investing app have their way.
Published:11/16/2019 8:12:28 AM
[Markets] With Dow, S&P 500 at record highs, investors are ignoring a ‘material deterioration’ in the global economy Neither corporate profits nor economic data have yet to corroborate the ongoing rally and rotation in U.S. stocks, so the market may be getting ahead of itself and be due for a pullback, analysts and investors told MarketWatch. Published:11/16/2019 7:44:25 AM
[Markets] Market Snapshot: With Dow, S&P 500 at record highs, investors are ignoring a ‘material deterioration’ in the global economy Neither corporate profits nor economic data have yet to corroborate the ongoing rally and rotation in U.S. stocks, so the market may be getting ahead of itself and be due for a pullback, analysts and investors told MarketWatch.
Published:11/16/2019 7:44:25 AM
[Markets] Market Extra: Here are 5 things to know about the surge in Fed mortgage bond buying The Federal Reserve is back to buying billions worth of mortgage bonds each month, but here’s why that doesn’t mean the central bank is stockpiling more of this type of debt on is balance sheet.
Published:11/16/2019 7:11:39 AM
[Markets] Swedish Police Respond To Shocking Rising Crime Levels By Inviting Gang Leaders For Pizza Swedish Police Respond To Shocking Rising Crime Levels By Inviting Gang Leaders For Pizza

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Swedish authorities in Malmö, where violent crime and grenade attacks continue to soar, responded by inviting local gang leaders for a friendly chat over some pizza.

Yes, really.

Explosions in Malmö, which is home to several no go zone migrant ghettos, are becoming commonplace, with the city suffering three blasts in the space of just 24 hours earlier this month.

An alarming 29 per cent of residents in Malmö say they have been victims of of crimes against an individual.

According to Wilhelm Agrell, professor of intelligence analysis at Lund University, the situation is so dire that it threatens the power monopoly of the Swedish state.

The vast majority of the unrest is driven by rival drug gangs made up of second and third generation immigrants.

Instead of taking bold measures to fight the gangs, Malmö police invited 12 gang leaders, 9 of whom turned up, to have a friendly chat over some pizza.

The gang leaders were told that they were “most at risk of being injured or killed,” a sympathetic message which suggested police cared more about their welfare than that of their victims.

Malmö Chief of Police Stefan Sentéus later said he “really appreciated” the gang leaders attending the meeting.

The whole farce was dubbed “Operation Snowflake,” with critics asking why the gang leaders weren’t arrested.

“First they abuse and rob us, and then we taxpayers pay for their damn pizza!” commented one respondent.

Back in 2017, the media attempted to ridicule me for pointing out Sweden’s massive problems with violent crime and integration in no go zone migrant areas.

Not so funny now is it?

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 08:10
Published:11/16/2019 7:11:39 AM
[Markets] Homelessness In Germany On The Rise; Migrants Hit Hardest Homelessness In Germany On The Rise; Migrants Hit Hardest

The number of homeless people in Germany jumped over 4% between 2017 and 2018 - an increase of approximately 30,000 people, according to government figures cited by DW.

Some 678,000 people in 2018 did not have permanent accommodation, up from 650,000 in 2017, according to Germany's BAG, a nationwide consortium aimed at helping the homeless. Of that number, 41,000 are out on the streets.

"Compared to the previous year 2017 this means an increase in the total annual figure of 4.2%," Werena Rosenke, head of the BAG, said on Monday. -DW

What's more, Germans with migrant backgrounds are experiencing higher rates of homelessness at 5.9% vs 1.2% for natives.

According to BAG head Rosenke, factors which may account for this include a decrease in affordable housing, cuts in social housing and an increase in poverty. "Without homes for the homeless and without a well thought-through system of prevention in every community, we will not be able to tackle homelessness and the housing shortage," she said.

A July study revealed that most homeless people in Germany live in shelters, with nearly 50,000 living on the streets instead. 75% of the homeless are single men, while 22,000 children are homeless.

Demonstrators marched through Berlin in April 2019 to protest skyrocketing rent increases — rents have doubled over the last decade in cities like Berlin. Protesters demanded the government take control of thousands of apartments from large property companies such as Deutsche Wohnen and Vonovia.

The debate on homelessness in Germany reached a fever pitch in the winter of 2018, when nine homeless people died due to the cold. -DW

According to the report, Germany needs "between 80,000 and 100,000 new council flats every year, and another 100,000 new affordable apartments."

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 07:35
Published:11/16/2019 6:44:41 AM
[Markets] Resolving Creeping Communism: "We're More Socialist Than We Think" Resolving Creeping Communism: "We're More Socialist Than We Think"

Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com,

The thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain coincides with a popular resurgence of communism and a drift into more socialism. A collective amnesia sees a return of the Soviet Union’s failed policies in a Marxist Labour party in Britain. Increasing socialism is expressed by US Democrats contending for the primaries.

This article explains the basic economic fallacies common to both. It clarifies why state ownership of the means of production does not resolve the problem of economic calculation in a socialist economy. It also explains the errors in socialistic condemnation of free markets.

And finally, it points out that very few of us realise we are more socialist than we think when we endorse government control of possibly our most important common commodity, which is our everyday money. But there is a simple solution: stop accommodating crony capitalists.

Introduction

This week saw the thirtieth anniversary of the breeching of the Berlin Wall. The elapse of time means most people younger than their mid-forties fail to understand what it was all about. Indeed, many folk older than that will have forgotten that the reason the Berlin Wall fell was because the communist states in eastern Europe and the old Soviet Union were no longer able to suppress their people. And the people were suppressed because suppression of personal freedom is central to communism, the creed that says people must make sacrifices for the common good. Besides the passage of time, the uncomfortable part which makes people want to forget its horrors is that communism is the both the basis and the final destination of modern socialism.

Ever since Lenin and his Bolsheviks obtained power, they forced communism on the Russian population. People lost the rights to their property and their personal freedom, both of which became the property of the state. They were commanded by planners, administrators and bureaucrats as to what they could and could not do. In the absence of personal incentives, the Soviet economy went downhill rapidly, and the bureaucrats faced with allocating economic resources ended up creating surpluses of unusable and unwanted goods, and shortages of what were wanted. In their efforts to correct this mess, the people who communism claimed to free from the yoke of the bourgeoisie were blamed and accused of insubordination and either shot or deported to the gulags. In the USSR alone it is estimated that between twenty and sixty million people died of starvation, in the gulags, or were executed.

People lived in constant fear of the secret police and their informants. It was hardly surprising that the fall of the Berlin Wall was a scene of much rejoicing and the visual manifestation of freedom regained.

The reason we should remember how Marxist and Stalinist communism affected ordinary people is they are being offered a choice to vote for it again. In the UK, hard-line Marxist-Leninists control the main opposition party, and from what one can see from the Eastern side of the Atlantic, various Democratic Party contenders for the presidency are offering a softer version of the same socialist creed to their supporters.

Some observers claim our collective amnesia on such important matters is due to a cycle of human behaviour, but more likely it is due to an astonishing level of public ignorance, not helped by the poor quality of debate at the political level. The reason Theresa May bodged her general election in 2017 is she did not address the destructive delusions of the Labour Party’s Marxists, which can only be explained by ignorance of why Marxism is so economically disastrous. She will have either forgotten the real reason for those joyous scenes in Berlin thirty years ago or failed to understand the message. While being a paid-up Tory notionally in favour of free markets, in common with many other Tory MPs her politics appear to be those of a controlling Christian socialist, in common with the political mainstream in the EU.

She was not alone, and the entire British political establishment, like a pale imitation of the politburo, had become a managerial class believing more in itself than in democratic accountability. This, not trade, is the central issue behind Brexit. And it is still true of America’s deep state, despite President Trump’s democratic mandate and his attempts to change it. It is a condition that pertains in any government that claims the sacrifice of personal freedom is in the interest of the common good.

The problem with Marx and his half-baked ideas

At its bedrock modern socialism is based on Marxism, which despite all evidence of its viciousness retains widespread support. Not only do university students everywhere have a tendency to support fervent socialism, but in the UK, pollsters estimate a substantial majority of university lecturers prefer a Marxist Labour party compared with the Conservatives. It’s no wonder that for many decades the Soviet KGB so effectively recruited their useful idiots and spies from the UK’s top universities.

It seems extraordinary that in defiance of history and the advance of philosophical knowledge anyone should be so delusional to believe in the politics of Karl Marx, the founder of modern communism and the basis of modern socialism. More than anyone, through wrong-headed ideas he bears responsibility, indirectly admittedly, for the deaths of an estimated one hundred million people in the last century, and at one time the severe suppression though economic and social servitude of fully one third of the world’s population. And if you also include those who have suffered under the yoke of Marxist-inspired modern socialism, the philosophy that says the state is more important than the individual, you could argue nearly the whole world is under Marx’s destructive influence today.

His philosophical stance was comprehensively set out in one of his earlier works, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, published in 1859. The fundamental principle behind Marxism is stated early in the preface, where he defines his deduction from the Hegelian dialectic: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.” In other words, social organisation takes precedence over the individual, and it therefore follows that the individual is subordinate to the social organisation.

Marx argued that it followed from this logic that the classes which formed on the back of material interests force members of those classes to think and act in their narrow class interests and not independently in their personal interest, there being no such thing. For Marx, ideologies evolved on class lines, where the interests of the minority, the bourgeoisie, dominated. And as the bourgeoisie profits from the labour of the proletariat, it is in their interest to keep the proletariat suppressed. The accumulation of wealth in the hands of the bourgeoisie was entirely due to the exploitation of the proletariat.

Marx’s world was a black and white one of haves and have-nots, the exploiters and the exploited. As Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804) put it, “If one man has more than necessary, another man has less”. The only way this apparent wrong could be righted would be through the collapse of the capitalist system, which led to these imbalances in the first place. The final solution was a classless society of the proletariat, handing them the means of production administered on their behalf by a revolutionary government. Headed, of course, by Marx himself.

Marxian dogma was and still is riddled with intellectually derived half-baked ideas. Partly, this was due to the state of human knowledge when Marx derived his scheme for world domination, which formed the basis of any dialectical debate. Darwin contemporaneously proposed his evolutionary theory, that Man had evolved from animals and was not a species apart favoured by God. This played neatly into Marxian philosophy and to this day Marxists are atheistic.

It was also before the development of psychology by Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer. It was previously thought that all human brains were the same, just as we have other internal organs with specific functions within the body. The concept, that humans differed in their intelligence, their acuity, while commonly observed was unexplained by medical science. Even mental illness was believed to be a disorder emanating from the body and not the brain and suicides were routinely dissected to establish which organ was the cause. To Marx, drawing on Hegel’s dialectical approach, it could have seemed logical that we are all the same, and that the obvious social differences are down to our upbringing in one or the other class.

He never defined class, which is too slippery a concept to pin down. Instead, he separated humanity into the exploited majority, the proletariat, and the minority that controls the proletariat, the bourgeoisie. He expected the proletariat to eventually rebel, forcing the bourgeoisie into the lower class, to be ruled over by a socialist administration. He believed that this would happen, because under capitalism, he argued, the impoverishment of the workers was inevitable, leading to a workers’ revolution.

Yet, at the same time, he believed in the iron law of wages, most associated with David Ricardo. According to this law, wages were set by the availability of labour and the payments required to subsist. Higher wages than this basic level would lead to an increase in the availability of labour over time, while lower wages would reduce the labour pool. In this way, the cost of labour was expected to rebalance always at a subsistence level. Labour was regarded as a simple commodity, whose supply was regulated by its demand. However, Marx’s belief in the iron law of wages is at odds with his supposition that the proletariat would be gradually impoverished by the bourgeoisie. You cannot subscribe to both.

Subsequent improvements in economic knowledge and empirical evidence have disproved both theories anyway. Marx’s approach was to arrogantly assume workers are unthinking work-slaves, which they are not. They are individuals with individual aspirations and as their living standards improve those aspirations soar. And as Freud and Breuer showed later, they have brains separate from their physicality, with individual mental abilities that govern their needs and wants. Marx even despised the trade unions of the day, arguing that striking for higher wages was colluding with members of the bourgeoisie by negotiating with them, when instead they should be seeking their destruction.

His thinking had impatiently evolved from the proposition that the destruction of the bourgeoise class would occur naturally in time, to encouraging a violent class revolution to bring it about. Workers going on strike compromised both alternatives, and his personal ambitions of world leadership were threatened.

In some respects, modern ignorance over Marxism is worse than Marx’s own. Classical economics have evolved, thanks mainly to Carl Menger and his followers in the Austrian school, and today we have a greater understanding of the role of the consumer, not just as an end-user but also as an unconscious setter of prices and regulator of demand. And lest we forget, we have the certain knowledge not only that communism fails, but it leads to the impoverishment of the masses.

The economic issues, from which all others flow, need to be laid bare. Why communism of any sort fails and whether the same reasons for its failure apply to the Christian form of socialism predominant in the West are the two principal issues facing the electorates in the UK today and the US next year.

The basis of economic calculation

Fundamental to both Marxism and other forms of socialism is the theory that prices are set by costs, particularly of labour, and that the productive output of labour is an even quantity. Only then can it be assumed we are all equal. In reality, people always value some goods more than others, requiring higher pay to attract the labour required with its specific skills to provide them. The communists would have you believe that if the state deems it necessary, it can command greater quantities of evenly paid, evenly skilled human resources to that end. Alternatively, it can command the consumer not to buy goods in greater than expected demand by the expedient of rationing.

A labour theory of value is also the basis behind less obvious forms of socialism. It is the working assumption behind the provision of all government services and also professed to be the case by businessmen awarded government contracts and subsidies. Therefore, the pricing of services monopolised by governments and their allied providers is almost always supplied on a cost basis.

Consequently, governments and their agencies are poor providers of goods and services because they have no incentive to contain or reduce costs. Why the cost basis of prices is not the principal price determinant was proved by Carl Menger in the 1870s. Instead, he clearly demonstrated that prices are set by consumers exercising personal choice. This has always been resisted by statists, because it denies the possibility that prices can be calculated with certainty in advance.

A consumer’s preferences are the central issue. It is not just a question of price, but of priorities, desires and the satisfaction of a general uneasiness that drive consumer demand for goods and services. These are factors that continually change. Furthermore, price measured in monetary terms is a secondary issue, in this context being no more than a yardstick for comparison to facilitate consumer choices. The fact that consumers choose between goods tells us that goods are in effect priced against each other, with money being the temporary agent not only for transforming a producer’s output in the form of profits or salary into the items he or she wishes to consume, but for facilitating the choice between them as well.

When the true role of money is understood to be that of an agent, firstly as a facilitator for the division of labour and then of choice between consumer items, the impossibility of socialism to calculate prices becomes more obvious, even for the few state planners who understand that the cost basis cannot apply.

It takes great skill, experience and knowledge of specialist markets for a focused entrepreneur to foretell demand in his particular niche profitably. He risks his capital and commits his valuable time to supplying profitably his anticipation of market demand. Alternatively, a state administrator or bureaucrat is always unsuited to taking risks with state resources and cannot act in an entrepreneurial fashion. He has none of the qualifications necessary to get it right for one product, let alone the many the production of which he may be required to oversee.

Socialists counter this proposition by saying there is no reason the successful businessman can perform the same function for the state. In his concluding notes to The General Theory, even Keynes proposed the state should replace the saver as the provider of capital for the businessman. The businessman becomes beholden to the state, with his profit “obtained much cheaper than at present”. Clearly, the principal incentive which drives all successful entrepreneurs ends up under the control of the state, to be chipped away by politicians seeking favour from a proletariat envious of an entrepreneur’s success.

The greater the degree of socialism, the less likely an entrepreneur is likely to cooperate. And when the state owns the means of production, his incentive disappears altogether. Forced into a managerial role by the threat of being dispatched to a gulag or even executed cannot change this simple fact. He becomes a functionary whose interest is pure survival in a dysfunctional state system of production. In any event, he has no basis for estimating the value of his production.

Oskar Lange, a Polish economist of the communist era, accepted the evidence that socialism was unable to calculate consumer prices and proposed that markets be permitted to do so. But where he failed was not understanding that consumer prices in a free market also determine and set the value of their factors of production, which under Lange’s proposal would remain in the possession of the state. Thus, the distribution of productive resources in a socialist state would always lead to failures in the distribution of goods.

Lange’s error is typical of current attempts to find a compromise between capitalism and socialism, a mistake that is ignored or not understood by politicians of all stripes. The vast majority of those that advocate free markets do not do so entirely. And they fail to understand that the distribution of money itself is socialised, with its supply and interest rates being managed by an organ of the state, and not free markets.

The illusion that a compromise between socialism and free markets is possible is facilitated by the adaptability of ordinary people. They don’t fight City Hall; rather they find another way of doing things. It is impossible to track how their choices are affected by economic distortions imposed upon them by the state. But it is possible to demonstrate the counterfactual: that freed from statist intervention and over-bearing regulations an economy improves living standards for everyone considerably more rapidly than a state attempting to achieve it, even with the best intentions.

The complaint against capitalism

The socialist rant against capitalism is rarely a rant against free markets, except for committed socialists arguing that as a matter of principal the state should own the means of production. Most adherents, the Christian socialists, are driven more by a naïve desire for social fairness than a commitment to socialism per se. Theirs is a valid complaint against bankers and other businessmen who enrich themselves through their influence on government or gain government protection from competition through licensing and regulation. Instead of providing the goods and services demanded by consumers, these establishment capitalists prioritise their relationship with the state as a means of protecting and maximising their profits.

An apt description of this arrangement between the state and big business is crony capitalism. So long as there is a socialising political class, there will be businessmen seeking their share of the distributed cake. When a government hands out regional employment subsidies, a businessman will build a factory in a location to maximise the subsidy. Proximity to markets and other commercial factors become secondary considerations. Once the subsidised investment is made, he can then blackmail future politicians for more subsidies and government contracts by threatening to lay off workers if they don’t materialise. More subtly, he can advise politicians on industrial policy and regulation with the hidden objective of disadvantaging smaller competitors.

As the saying goes, an honest politician is one who, when he is bought, stays bought. And as long as the state is involved, a businessman can collude with his competitors to rig markets without fear of anti-trust litigation. In truth, the only valid complaint about capitalism is not about free markets, but about their corruption facilitated by the state.

The greatest corruption of free markets is through the socialisation of money. In a genuine free market, it is up to individual actors to decide their medium of exchange, and it is for this reason money in metallic form emerged to replace barter. Instead, since the first half of the twentieth century governments have taken for themselves the monopoly of money. Besides instances in war time, the first step in this global direction was when dollar convertibility into gold was suspended for Americans in 1933. Today, central banks abuse this monopoly by issuing it in whatever quantities they can get away with. Without their citizens’ knowledge or understanding central banks transfer wealth from them to itself, its government and their favoured cronies.

Monetary inflation is the precondition for financing the advancement of socialism. The inflationary argument is socialistic to the core, increasing the supply of money for the alleged common benefit while keeping quiet about the wealth transfer effect. The euthanasia of ordinary savers and their replacement as funding for investment by the state was a wish expressed by Keynes in his General Theory.[v] But it is pure socialism, already achieved through the destruction of personal savings, notably in America, the UK, most of Europe and by the damage through interest rate suppression to collective savings schemes such as pension funds.

And when the general level of prices rises, which is actually the manifestation of a currency’s loss of purchasing power, socialising governments justify their actions saying it stimulates us to consume. If prices rise so quickly as to expose this specious argument to the lowest intellects, it is then blamed on greedy profit-seeking capitalists.

Banks are licensed to create credit, which is simply another source of money, out of thin air, making bankers rich as a class and further stoking the public envy upon which socialism thrives. Despite this, the entire bureaucratic and administrative class of central planners have been taught that the socialisation of money is fully justified to address the shortfalls of capitalism, and by implication free markets. We are informed by its description that an uncontrollable cycle of business activity is proof that left to themselves free markets are economically destructive.

The truth is the economic destruction comes from a cycle of credit expansion emanating from the banks, augmented and encouraged by a central bank issuing base currency and suppressing interest rates. The financing of an economy is subverted by the imperative to finance government spending. Without the manipulation of money and credit and their replacement by sound money the cycle of credit and the symptoms suffered in the productive economy would simply cease.

These are problems created by socialism itself, but rarely found is the politician who fully understands it and is elected to address them. President Trump was mandated by a silent majority fed up with the federal socialising system, yet he calls for more credit creation and lower interest rates. His heart may have been in the right place, but he fails to understand that even the dollar is socialised.

The origin of the socialisation of money was born out of crony capitalism in banking, but it has been fully exploited by the socialists. Through the debasement of their currencies, it allows both Jeremy Corbyn and President Trump alike to advance their policies and proposals while concealing the hidden costs imposed on everyone.

The logical solution

The destination of socialism-lite is a continuing loss of freedom, both economic and personal. Ordinary people should count themselves lucky if the drift is contained, and more extreme versions towards communism prevented.

It is a fact of life that nearly the whole world is now socialistic to a greater or lesser degree. So ingrained is socialist redistribution that no politician can get elected on a mandate to reverse it. But a start can be made by attacking crony capitalism, which is the one justification above all others that persuades ordinary Christian democrats, the useful idiots recruited by Marxist fallacies, to abandon personal freedom in favour of a ruling state. It is the emotional justification for Marx’s division of the classes into the exploiters and the exploited, which if successfully addressed collapses the argument.

There is hope the point is understood by Britain’s current Prime Minister, when in June 2018 as Foreign Secretary he was reported at a private dinner to have said, “F--- business”, when questioned about his view of major businesses lobbying to prevent Brexit by threatening jobs and investment. It was interpreted differently by a socialistic media.

If Johnson is re-elected, and if this was not a purely Brexit-related comment, there is some hope this course of action will be undertaken. It would address the monopolistic tendencies of big business to disadvantage their smaller competitors. Small and medium size businesses generally make up a Pareto eighty per cent of any economy, so a policy of allowing them to secure the benefits of freer markets should turn out to be immensely popular. Only then can socialistic tendencies begin to be reversed, and the big prize tackled, the socialisation of money.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/16/2019 - 07:00
Published:11/16/2019 6:14:14 AM
[Markets] Outside the Box: How to take advantage of fear, then relief, in the stock market leading up to the presidential election The past nine presidential-election cycles have included declines, followed by ‘relief rallies.’
Published:11/16/2019 5:42:48 AM
[Markets] 3 Things Under the Radar This Week Investing.com -- Here are three things that went under the radar this week. Published:11/16/2019 5:10:14 AM
[Markets] Globalists Openly Admit To Population Control Agenda - And That's A Bad Sign... Globalists Openly Admit To Population Control Agenda - And That's A Bad Sign...

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

Eugenics and population control are long time hobbies of the financial elites. In the early 1900's, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institute were deeply involved in promoting Eugenics laws in the US. These laws led to the forced sterilization of over 60,000 American citizens in states like California and thousands of rejected marriage licenses. The Eugenics programs in the US were only a beta test though, as the Rockefellers then transferred their programs over to Germany under Hitler and the Third Reich in the 1930's, were a true widespread eugenics-based population control program was introduced.

The targets of population reduction were based on ethnic background, but also “mental intelligence” and economic status. The Carnegie Institute even established a “Eugenics Records Office” called Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory in 1904, which collected genetic data on millions of Americans and their families with the intent of controlling their numbers and erasing certain traits from the US population. The Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory still exists today and presents itself as a kind of philanthropic endeavor to help humanity.

Public knowledge of the globalists and their population control agenda was carefully swept under the rug in the US after the exposure of Nazi programs post-WWII. The word “eugenics” became a very ugly one and all the effort the elites put into promoting it as a legitimate science was ruined. However, they were not going to give up on their precious ideology.

In the late 1960's into the 1970's there was a resurgence of population control rhetoric coming out of globalist circles. Under the supervision of the UN and some related scientific groups, the Club Of Rome was formed. A prominent part of the Club of Rome's agenda was population reduction. In 1972 the group of “scientists” under the UN's direction published a paper called 'The Limits Of Growth', which called for greatly reduced human population in the name of “saving the environment”. This effort was directly linked to another agenda – the institution of a global government that could handle and enforce population controls on a wide scale.

The elites had found a new scientific front for their eugenics obsession: Climate science. In the early 1990's the Club Of Rome published a book called 'The First Global Revolution'. In it they state:

In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill. In their totality and their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which must be confronted by everyone together. But in designating these dangers as the enemy, we fall into the trap, which we have already warned readers about, namely mistaking symptoms for causes. All these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes. and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself.”

The statement comes from Chapter 5 – The Vacuum, which covers their position on the need for global government. The quote is relatively clear; a common enemy must be conjured in order to trick humanity into uniting under a single banner, and the elites see environmental catastrophe, caused by mankind itself, as the best possible motivator. It also outlines the perfect rationale for population control – Mankind is the enemy, therefore, mankind as a species must be kept under strict supervision and his proliferation must be restricted.

The Club of Rome and the UN agenda have always been intimately connected. In the 1990's at the same time 'The First Global Revolution' was being published, UN assistant secretary general Robert Muller was publishing his manifesto which is now collected on a website called 'Good Morning World'. Muller argues that global governance must be achieved using the idea of “protecting the Earth” and environmentalism as the key components. Through fear of environmental Apocalypse, the public could be convinced to accept global government as a necessary nanny state to keep society from destroying itself.

In a paper titled 'Proper Earth Government: A Framework And Ways To Create It' Robert Muller outlines how climate change could be used to convince the masses of the need for global government. Integral to his plan were the introduction of a new “global religion”, and population controls.

It should come as no surprise that the UN established the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) and that this panel and it's offshoots are now at the forefront of the argument for population reduction. As we close in on the end date for the UN's Agenda 2030, which calls for a radical shift of human production from oil and other large scale energy sources into small scale “renewable energies”, there is only 10 years left for the globalists to achieve their goals if they hope to meet their announced deadline. This would require a violent change in human society and most of all industrialized nations.

The human population would have to be reduced dramatically in order to survive on the meager energy output of renewables alone. A disaster of epic proportions would have to take place soon so that the globalists could then spend the next decade using the resulting fear to convince the surviving population that global governance is needed. Without aggressive crisis and change most people would never go along with the UN's agenda, out of simple desire for self preservation. Even many leftists, once exposed to the true nature of carbon controls and population reduction, might have second thoughts when they realize they could be affected.

The key to understanding people who cheer for population control or population reduction is that these people always assume that THEY will be the survivors and inheritors of the Earth after the culling.  They never assume that they will be the one's put on the chopping block.

In 2019, the population agenda is being ramped into high gear and the public is being carefully conditioned over time to accept the idea that man-made climate change is real and population is the source of the problem.  Recently, a groups of scientists partially funded by something called the “Worthy Garden Club” claimed 11,000 signatures on a statement for the need for population reduction in the name of saving the Earth from global warming.

The statement cites all the same long debunked IPCC and UN climate change propaganda as the reasons why the Earth is on the verge of annihilation. The fact of the matter is, climate scientists have been consistently caught red handed manipulating their own data to show the intended outcome of global warming. They have even been caught trying to adjust their own data from 20 years ago in order to match it more closely to the rigged data they publish today.

The Worthy Garden Club is a strangely sterile group and there doesn't seem to be any list of their patrons and who funds them. However, the mainstream media was quick to pick up on the statement from the “11,000 scientists” and tie it to statements made by the UN's IPCC.

Population control has also been brought up consistently as an issue in the 2020 Presidential Election race. Bernie Sanders argued for birth control measures in poor countries. Elizabeth Warren promoted abortion by saying it was as safe as “getting your tonsils removed”. She has consistently promoted the carbon control agenda of the UN and was, interestingly, a member of the University Of Texas Population research Center in the 1980s. And, Green New Deal politicians are throwing their support behind the statements from the Worthy Garden Club on population reduction.

This is the first time I have seen the argument for population reduction used so blatantly and widespread in the mainstream media, and it suggests to me that a trend is forming. For years I have warned my readers that they will know when the globalists are about to pull the plug on the current system when they start talking about their criminality openly. When they admit to their agenda in a free way, this means they are close to a global reset and do not care anymore who knows about it. The openness of the plan to cut world population is becoming apparent.

Strangely, there has been little mention of the fact that the world population, in the west most of all, is actually in decline. Far from exploding beyond the Earth's capacity, people are barely having enough children to keep the current population stable. It would appear that the globalist agenda is already in motion. Through engineered economic disintegration, the population is being slowly reduced.  However, this slow decline may not be enough to satisfy the globalists.

How many people would the globalists like to kill off to achieve their utopian aspirations?  Well, globalist Ted Turner in a moment of honesty said when confronted by We Are Change that the population should be reduced to 2 billion down from 7 billion.

The primary issue here beyond the moral horror show of eugenics is, who gets cut? And furthermore, who gets to decide who gets cut? Who gets to decide if you can have children or not? Who gets to decide if you are allowed to access resources to produce and make a living or not? Who gets to decide if the global economy will sustain the population or not? Who pulls the trigger on the culling of the population?

As history has shown us, it is always the elites that end up in the position of deciding the fates of millions or billions. From the Rockefeller Foundation sterilization programs in the US in the early 1900's to the UN today, the globalists, a veritable death cult, are desperate to conjure a rationalization as to why they should be the ones to allow or deny human life based on lies like man-made climate change.  They don't believe in the climate change threat, THEY were the people that fabricated it.  So, what is the core reason behind all of this?

A reduced population completely dependent on limited energy sources might be easier to dominate.  But I have another theory – they are psychopaths looking for a socially justifiable way to kill as many people as possible. Why? because they enjoy it.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 23:45
Published:11/15/2019 11:09:42 PM
[Markets] "It's Cozy" - LA Imports Are Paying $800/Month To 'Live In A Coffin' "It's Cozy" - LA Imports Are Paying $800/Month To 'Live In A Coffin'

First it was the unaffordability of 'real' homes (combined with massive student loan debt) that spoiled the living-the-Dream narrative for America's young people.

Remember this 350-square foot studio in NYC that cost $645,000?

Then it was a shift to "tiny homes" - which became popular with millennials since their standard of living has collapsed.

But while they could virtue signal with solar panels and wind power systems, an eco-friendly bathroom, and a kitchen with everything needed to make avocado and toast, living in with post-industrial feel using an old shipping container for $37,000 was too much for many...

So 'podlife' sprung up on the coasts - as the housing affordability crisis deepened on the West Coast, a new style of living, one that reminds millennials of their college dormitory days, sprang up in cities across California.

But, residents were upset by having to adhere to house rules, one being that lights go out at 10 pm each night, and no guests are allowed inside.

And so, as AFP reports, young Americans flocking to LA and NYC are now resorting to "Capsule Living" as the only affordable option...

Inspired by the famous hotels in Japan, each room contains up to six capsules, described by residents as "cozy," containing a single bed, a bar for hanging clothes, a few compartments for storing shoes and other items and an air vent.

By most standards, the coffin-like accommodation is still not cheap - $750 per month plus taxes. That works out at around $800 and there are still rules... women and men sleep apart, and having sex is not an option.

For Dana Cuff, an architect and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), this type of community presents only a short-term solution.

"We basically need to be developing a huge range of options for the kinds of housing that are available," she said.

"To me, co-living pods... are symptoms of this deep need for a much greater range of housing alternatives."

Alejandro Chupina, 27, left home as a teenager because his parents did not support his career as an actor and musician.

"We have so many different amenities... for what we're paying, I feel like we're getting way more, in different ways," said the young man with a handlebar moustache, who can recite the musical "Hamilton" by heart.

We give the final word to Kay Wilson, who packed up her life in a hurry and moved to Los Angeles... only to find that what she paid in Pennsylvania for a nice studio apartment would only get her a 2.9-square-meter box in California.

"I sold all my belongings and I moved here to be in this pod... I'm finding comfort in being uncomfortable,"

The American Dream indeed...

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 23:25
Published:11/15/2019 10:40:01 PM
[Markets] The "Officer-Friendly" Police Fantasy The "Officer-Friendly" Police Fantasy

Authored by James Bovard via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

Police in Tempe, Arizona, announced plans in July for a “positive-ticketing” campaign to pull over drivers who had violated no traffic laws. A Phoenix TV station reported that the police would give the people they targeted free soft-drink coupons for Circle K as a reward for their “good driving behavior.” Police in other areas have run similar programs in recent years but the TV news report on Tempe’s plan spurred a torrent of testy Tweets:

“Keep your hands on the wheel and don’t make any sudden moves while you are being rewarded, it could cost you your life.”

“We gunned him down…. well, he refused to stop for his coupon. Self defense. Case dismissed.”

“Um, WHAT?!? They better not stop me for driving legally cause that’s illegal! #harassment”

“What if you don’t stop?”

“Cops to profile for illegal immigrants under the guise of campaign to promote good driving.”

“There goes probable cause right out the window. Police state 101.”

“I would get a panic attack. My reward for driving well is not dying. That’s all I want.”

“Unless it’s a ruse to illegally search your vehicles. And if they notice anything out of line during the mock pullover you’ll be arrested.”

“What’s next? Are they going to start walking into people’s houses to congratulate them for not breaking the law?”

One commenter suggested he could be fined for “resisting a coupon” for free drinks.

A few months before its “positive ticketing campaign” announcement, Tempe police were harshly criticized after one of their officers shot a 14-year-old boy in the back, killing him as he was running away while holding a replica airsoft pistol. An Arizona ACLU employee summarized the situation on Twitter:

“Tempe cops: the community doesn’t trust us after we shot and killed an unarmed teen (sic) what do we do

Community: stop killing us

Tempe cops: FREE THIRSTBUSTERS AND UNREASONABLE STOPS”

The Tempe Police Department responded to the uproar by issuing a statement stating that they never intended to pull over motorists without good cause. Instead, the free-coupon program would be targeted to pedestrians, bicyclists, and skateboarders. But the furious reaction of people across the nation signaled the profound distrust of police.

This is presidential campaign season, and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg claims that he will be able to end the pervasive distrust of the police. In one of the first candidate debates, he said he is “determined to bring about a day when” any driver, white or black, has “a feeling not of fear but of safety” when he sees a police officer approaching.

And how would Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, achieve this profound change? He has not yet detailed his panacea. Perhaps he believes that sensitivity training or racial consciousness-raising classes could do the trick. But Buttigieg has ignored the real source of the problem: politicians have given police so much power that citizens naturally fear them.

Arresting anyone

In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that police can justifiably arrest anyone believed to have “committed even a very minor criminal offense.” That case involved Gail Atwater, a Texas mother who was driving slowly near her home but, because her children were not wearing seatbelts, she was taken away by an abusive cop whose shouting left her children “terrified and hysterical.” A majority of Supreme Court justices recognized that “Atwater’s claim to live free of pointless indignity and confinement clearly outweighs anything the City can raise against it specific to her case” — but upheld the arrest anyhow.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor warned that “such unbounded discretion carries with it grave potential for abuse.” Unfortunately, there are endless pretexts for people to be arrested nowadays because federal, state, and local politicians and officials have criminalized daily life with hundreds of thousands of edicts. Capt. Steve Powell of the Colorado State Patrol commented, “Ninety percent of the cars out there are doing something that you can pull them over for. There are a jillion reasons people can be stopped — taillights, windshields cracked, any number of things.” Gerard Arenberg, executive director of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, told me in the 1990s, “We have so damn many laws, you can’t drive the streets without breaking the law. I could write you a hundred tickets depending on what you said to me when I stopped you.”

Justice O’Connor noted in her dissent that the Fourth Amendment “guarantees the right to be free from ‘unreasonable searches and seizures.’” But when politicians have enacted endless laws that make almost everyone a criminal, then the Fourth Amendment is practically null and void.

Asset-forfeiture laws give police sweeping arbitrary power over Americans’ wallets, cars, and homes. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher told the Supreme Court in 2018 that the government is entitled to confiscate cars that exceed speed limits by 5 miles per hour — a standard that would justify seizing most vehicles. Between 2001 and 2014, lawmen seized more than $2.5 billion in cash from 60,000 travelers on the nation’s highways — with no criminal charges in the vast majority of cases, the Washington Post reported.

Police have been trained to confiscate private property of drivers by absurdly claiming that “trash on the floor of a vehicle, abundant energy drinks, or air fresheners hanging from rearview mirrors” are signs of criminal activity. Blacks and Hispanics have been victimized far more often by such laws. Tenaha, Texas, police ran an operation that stopped and plundered almost anyone passing through their East Texas locale. The names of the court filings capture Tenaha’s voraciousness, such as State of Texas v. One Gold Crucifix. “The police had confiscated a simple gold cross that a woman wore around her neck after pulling her over for a minor traffic violation. No contraband was reported, no criminal charges were filed, and no traffic ticket was issued,” the New Yorker noted. If drivers “refused to part with their money, officers threatened to arrest them on false money laundering charges and other serious felonies,” an ACLU lawsuit charged. Tenaha police stopped a 27-year-old black man who worked as a chicken slicer in a Tysons plant in Arkansas and fleeced him of $3,900 after detecting him “driving too close to the white line.”

Subverting the Fourth Amendment

Police have gutted the Fourth Amendment with dogs that will give them a positive alert almost any time they seek a pretext to forcibly search someone’s vehicle. The fact that canines are sometimes trained to give false alerts is irrelevant as long as the government always wins. Canine alerts to currency are routinely used to justify seizures even though most U.S. currency has trace amounts of drug contamination. For 30 years, the courts have condemned the abuses based on currency seizures due to dog alerts. But the official robberies continue.

There is a long history of federal, state, and local officials partnering to fabricate pretexts to stop drivers. From 1992 through 2013, the Drug Enforcement Administration illegally commandeered the phone records of all Americans who called most of the foreign nations in the world, as USA Today revealed in 2015. To keep its phone-record seizures secret, the DEA partnered with local police to concoct phony reasons for traffic stops that sometimes included staging fake auto accidents and even car thefts. Why should citizens trust law-enforcement agencies that engaged in decades of systemic fraud? If bureaucrats and cops gave themselves an unlimited right to lie regarding the source of their evidence, what other lies have they permitted themselves in the war against any American who possesses substances of which politicians disapprove?

Uncle Sam has brought the surveillance state to the nearest police car dashboard. Federal grants have enabled many states and localities to equip police cars with license-plate scanners that provide plenty of bogus pretexts to harass hapless drivers.

License-plate readers often misread plates. Brian Hofer was pulled off Interstate 80 in California and handcuffed and held at gunpoint after his rental vehicle was misreported as stolen. Hofer commented in 2019, “I’m sitting ice-cold and saying nothing because I do not want any itchy trigger fingers.” With an error rate approaching 10 percent, license-plate readers effectively generate potentially thousands of false accusations each day.

Subverting the Second Amendment

Local officials exploit surveillance data to subvert the Second Amendment. John Filippidis was driving with his family through Maryland when he was pulled over by a Maryland transportation policeman outside a Baltimore tunnel. The policeman ordered Filippidis out of his car and angrily demanded to know where his gun was. Filippidis has a Right to Carry (RTC) permit from Florida — where he had left his firearm. Police spent hours questioning him and searching his minivan before permitting him to move on, leaving his wife and daughters utterly distraught. Maryland police have targeted and rigorously searched other out-of-state drivers with RTC permits (which Maryland does not recognize). Federal grants enabled Maryland to equip hundreds of police cars with license-plate scanners that create almost 100 million records per year detailing exactly where and when each vehicle travels.

The war on drugs and its endless crackdowns and intrusions spurred far more distrust of police but politicians learned nothing from its debacles. Sixteen states have raised the smoking age to 21, and there is a push (supported by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) to dictate a federal smoking age of 21. Why not simply issue a federal mandate for an annual additional 10 million unnecessary confrontations between police and youth? Criminalizing private vices is the surest way to make law enforcement a public menace.

Citizens are wary of police cars in their rear-view mirrors because politicians and judges made average Americans legally inferior to anyone with a badge and a gun. Police almost always receive legal immunity when they unjustifiably shoot people — it is practically a perk of their job. The existence of video footage from dashboard cams and police cameras is helping to ravage the final remnants of police credibility in many areas. The pervasive cover-ups and lies that follow dubious killings by police do more to spur wariness than a million “Officer Friendly” public-service announcements can counteract.

The best way to encourage citizens to have “a feeling not of fear but of safety” when they see a cop is to repeal legions of laws empowering police to unjustifiably accost and wrongfully subjugate peaceful citizens. But that is unlikely to happen as long as most politicians are more interested in power than in domestic tranquility.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 23:05
Tags
Published:11/15/2019 10:07:53 PM
[Markets] DARPA Seeks "Militarized Microbes" So They Can Spread Genetically-Modified Bacteria DARPA Seeks "Militarized Microbes" So They Can Spread Genetically-Modified Bacteria

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

The Pentagon’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) wants to be able to spread genetically modified bacteria as “explosives sensors.” The United States government could very well be looking into ways to militarize microbes.

The Pentagon has teamed up with Raytheon for this project, which seems like it should come straight out of a dystopian science fiction story. The government wants to develop a system capable of delivering genetically modified bacteria underground, according to a report by RT.

Initiated by DARPA, the same agency that led programs to create telekinetic super soldiers and weaponized robotic insects, the project seeks to “program two bacterial strains to monitor ground surfaces for explosive materials,” defense contractor Raytheon said in a joint press release with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

DARPA Can Exterminate Humanity: ‘You Could Feasibly WIPE OUT The Human Race’

DARPA Wants “Thought Controlled Weapons” By Finding Ways To “Read Soldiers’ Minds”

So the genetically modified bacteria are for your own good!

The first of the two strains, known as a “bio-sensor,” will “detect the presence or absence of explosives buried underground,” while the second will produce a “glowing light” in the event such materials are found. Remotely operated cameras or drones would then be sent to survey the area to find the glowing germs, and ultimately the buried explosives. –RT

We already know that some bacteria can be programmed to be very good at detecting explosives, but it’s harder underground,” said Raytheon researcher Allison Taggart. “We’re investigating how to transport the reporting bacteria to the required depth underground.”

Though the Pentagon claims it only plans to use the system for defensive purposes only, some may find the idea of militarized microbes off-putting while conjuring apocalyptic scenarios of a runaway genetically engineered superbug.

Insider Reveals How DARPA Will Control Our Minds: “If Even 20% Of This Is True…”

DARPA has undertaken some projects that should raise the alarm in many.  However, it almost seems as though we’ve reached a point where the masses don’t care what’s being done to them, in their name, and with the money stolen from them. And these are just a few of the things we know DARPA is working on.

No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine.” ? William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 22:25
Published:11/15/2019 9:37:36 PM
[Markets] Denver Business Owner Fined For Not Cleaning Up Vagrant Poo And Used Needles Denver Business Owner Fined For Not Cleaning Up Vagrant Poo And Used Needles

The city of Denver fined a local business owner after he and his staff refused to continue cleaning up after homeless people behind his building, according to CBS Denver.

Screenshot (YouTube)

"There's food, trash, drug deals," said Jawaid Bayzar, who added "In the alley we get, ya know, the defacation, drug needles, prostitution" behind his internet company, Forethought.net. One night an employee was sitting in his car when someone smashed the window and tried to stab him, according to Bayzar.

And when Bayzar and his crew stopped cleaning up the constant hazardous mess left by the vagrants, telling CBS he's not equipped to deal with it, Denver fined him.

"If the city’s not going to enforce laws against trespassing, or camping, or public defecation and just make me bare the cost of these problems that’s just not right," he told CBS4.

Denver officials disagree, saying that if it's happening on his property, it's his problem - adding that he's subject to daily citations until the debris is cleaned up.

Bayzar is heading to court on Dec. 18 to fight the citation.

"I’m going to go to court and do my best to argue that the City’s treatment of this unfair. This is a public crime issue and a public health issue and the city is the organization that’s responsible for that."

 

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 22:05
Published:11/15/2019 9:09:50 PM
[Markets] The Dow Makes a Dash for Another All-Time High — and Breaks 28,000 “We could have two years left,” says Carmel Wellso, director of research at Janus Henderson Investors. “But we’re at the end of the cycle and one day closer to a recession.” Published:11/15/2019 8:41:17 PM
[Markets] Report Finds China Still Harvesting Organs From Political Dissidents, Minorities Report Finds China Still Harvesting Organs From Political Dissidents, Minorities

Fewer than five years after China said it had finally ended the controversial practice of involuntary organ "donations", research published this week found a disturbing pattern in the data on organ transplants that China submits to international regulators, according to the Guardian.

The research found that the Chinese government may have been "systematically falsifying" its organ donation numbers, raising renewed concerns over whether Beijing is still using executed prisoners and other forced donors for transplants for wealthy Chinese.

In 2015, China publicly promised it would no longer source organs from executed prisoners, who previously provided most of the transplanted organs in China.

But a study led by Australian National University PhD student Matthew Robertson that was published in the BMC Medical Ethics journal on Friday claims Chinese-government supplied datasets on organ donations show "highly compelling evidence they are being falsified."

Using statistical forensics on the datasets, researchers found the numbers of organs reportedly transplanted almost perfectly matched the quadratic formula.

"When you take a close look at the numbers of organs apparently collected they almost match this artificial equation point for point, year in, year out. They’re too neat to be true,” Robertson said.

"These figures don’t appear to be real data from real donations. They’re numbers generated using an equation. It is difficult to imagine how this model could have been arrived at by mere chance, raising the distinct possibility that it was intended to deceive."

The paper continued by arguing that China’s organ transplant industry was too opaque, and that the sources of organs has always been difficult to trace, which doesn't exactly instill confidence. Though the system has been reformed to a degree, it's still masking the source of some organs.

“Rather than the solely prisoner-based organ transplant system of years past, or the untarnished voluntary system promised by officials, the available evidence indicates in our view that China has a complex hybrid transplant program: voluntary donations, incentivized by large cash payments, are apparently used alongside nonvoluntary donors who are marked down as citizen donors.”

The study examined voluntary hospital-based donated organs between 2010 and 2018 using data provided by two Chinese sources, the China Organ Transplant Response System (COTRS),  which forms the basis of China’s current voluntary organ donation system, and the Red Cross Society.

Every organ transplant is supposed to be reported through this system, along with details about where the organs came from. The Red Cross Society of China is required to verify every organ donation. So, comparing the two databases and looking at inconsistencies could off some insight.

None of this data is typically publicly available, but once in a while it leaks out. COTRS data were published in 2014 and in 2017. Data from the Red Cross Society of China was previously available on four websites, three of which have recently been taken offline.

For decades, Beijing was accused of harvesting organs from minority groups, including religious minorities. A tribunal held back in June found Beijing found that Falun Gong practitioners were the main source of organs for decades. But it also said that Uighurs were undergoing medical testing on a scale that could allow them to become an "organ bank."

And as Beijing continues to build out its massive prison camps in Xinjiang, this type of research will be critical for holding Beijing accountable so it doesn't continue to build networks of human organ banks with impunity.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 21:25
Published:11/15/2019 8:41:17 PM
[Markets] Watch Chile Protesters Kill A Police Drone Using Hundreds Of Laser Pointers Watch Chile Protesters Kill A Police Drone Using Hundreds Of Laser Pointers

Authored by Elias Marat via The Mind Unleashed,

As the people of Chile enter the second month of massive protests against the neoliberal government of President Sebastian Piñera, clashes have continued unabated between demonstrators and the militarized security forces of the South American state.

The protests, which began October 14 as a response to rising public transit costs, have quickly become radicalized as social movements, students, workers’ unions, and a vast cross-section of Chilean society have focused their anger on high levels of inequality in the country, rising living costs, and a constitution inherited from the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

As the protests have raged, the repression unleashed on demonstrators has become increasingly brutal and high-tech. Chile’s protesters, however, have responded with a combination of ingenuity, persistence, and equally high-tech tricks to fend off police attacks.

Such was the case earlier this week in footage that quickly went viral on social media Wednesday that appeared to show a police unmanned aerial system (UAS) being disabled as protesters aimed run-of-the-mill green laser pointers—the type available in any Office Depot or Staples—at the law enforcement-grade drone.

The video, which NextGov reports first made its appearance Tuesday night on Reddit, shows the drone hovering above a sea of demonstrators as the lasers are trained on it. Soon, multiple other lasers are trained on it and when the drone attempts to escape, the lasers have an almost tractor beam-like effect, forcing the UAS to falter before it helplessly descends to the ground.

Laser lights at demonstrations didn’t first appear in Chile. The pointers have had a ubiquitous presence at the raucous demonstrations in Hong Kong, where protesters have also used the lasers to disable surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition technology.

And as Defense Maven reports, U.S. Army Stryker vehicles are also being equipped with laser weapons that would be used to disable and knock out incoming flying drones.

However, the consumer-grade lasers at Chile’s protests are hardly the type that can chew through armor or burn through flesh, like military laser cannons might. Instead, these lasers likely either blinded the camera feed of the human operator or disabled the drone’s altitude sensors, triggering the drone’s emergency autonomous landing capabilities

While the lasers have proved effective in such a grassroots, mass-uprising context, some experts say the lasers are unlikely to pose a major danger to drones.

Christopher Williams, who heads Citadel Defense Company, which hopes to deploy an anti-drone “bubble”-based system for U.S. Customs and Border Protection along the U.S. southern border, told NextGov:

Use of these types of lasers is more hazardous and disruptive to humans than it will be for drones.

There are many other technologies that are less disruptive that provide a superior, more scalable, more reliable and more cost-effective countermeasure.

For now, however, the lasers designed for office presentations rather than for military tactical purposes appear to be working just fine for the combative Chilean people taking to the streets to demand greater social and political rights.

*  *  *

Brandon Smith, Founder of Alt-Market.com, has some key thoughts...

Whether or not you agree with the reasons behind the protests in Chile, this information is valuable to activists around the world.  Real world examples of low tech countermeasures to high tech weapons are rare and need to be observed.  My own design for a thermal evasion ghillie suit is another method for evading drones using FLIR-like cameras and heat imaging technology.  The laser pointer method for taking down drones or surveillance cameras, while not new, is often dismissed as a myth.  This is proof that it works.  I would note that this is probably one of the reasons why military grade lasers with extreme range like the PEQ-15 are not supposed to be sold to civilians.  Drones are the future of the biometric control grid; they must be countered and removed as a threat.

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 21:05
Published:11/15/2019 8:09:00 PM
[Markets] It's Trump Vs The Deep State Vs The Rest Of Us It's Trump Vs The Deep State Vs The Rest Of Us

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

One of the best side effects of the Trump presidency has been the hostility of the so-called "deep state" or  "intelligence community" directed at the president.

This, in turn, has led many Americans to realize that America's powerful, un-elected secret police agencies serve an agenda all their own. Consequently, polls show one's views of the CIA and the FBI depend largely on one's ideological bent. Polls from Fox News and NBC news in recent years show that as various government bureaucracies have ratcheted up their hostility to Trump, more Democrats and Hillary Clinton voters have said they trust the CIA and the FBI.

Why the president and this deep state should be at odds has never been obvious to casual observers. Last month, however, in an article titled "Trump’s War on the ‘Deep State’ Turns Against Him," The New York Times last explained that there is indeed very real enmity between Trump and agencies such as the CIA and the FBI. The Times contends that Trump "went to war with the professional staff" of the intelligence agencies and the State Department.

The Times notes Trump has condemned "deep state bureaucrats," and claims Trump's "hostility toward government was strong from the start. He blamed the leak of the so-called Steele dossier of unverified allegations against him on intelligence agencies and never trusted their conclusion that Russia intervened in the 2016 election on his behalf."

Trump was right to be defensive, of course. But that controversy over Russia was never really about what the Russians were up to. The focus was always largely about how much Trump colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 election.

Ultimately, the evidence was so non-existent, that after a nearly-three-year investigation, Robert Mueller was unable to establish evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russians. As Glenn Greenwald has noted : "not a single American – whether with the Trump campaign or otherwise – was charged or indicted on the core question of whether there was any conspiracy or coordination with Russia over the election."

But this lack of evidence did not stop John Brennan, for example, from claiming for months that he had special secret knowledge of the matter, and that Trump — or at least many around him — were going to be indicted for colluding with the Russians.

Although Brennan is a "former" CIA director, he nonetheless clearly remains well ensconced within the world of his fellow spooks, and he is, as ABC News correspondent Terry Moran put it, "cloaked with CIA authority." Brennan even insisted that he ought to retain his security clearance, presumably forever, and even though he is accountable to no one. Such is the mindset of the deep state bureaucrat. They live in a world where they deserve special privileges just for being government employees .

Moreover, Brennan has been joined in his attacks on the president by other former high-ranking members of the deep state, including former FBI chief James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Current deep state operatives have joined the anti-Trump campaign as well. Much of the current campaign against Trump is being orchestrated by CIA agents, and according to Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday, CIA analyst Eric Ciaramella is supplying much of the prosecution's information. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer and bureaucrat with the National Security Council, has testified to Congress in order to fuel impeachment efforts against the president as well.

Fêting Deep-State Bureaucrats as Heroes

None of this is to say the Trump administration lacks any taint of corruption. Like all presidents, it is likely the Trump administration expects favors for favors. The only thing different about Trump is he is not skilled at keeping the everyday corruption of the White House a secret.

But what is especially problematic for him is the fact that so many of his critics coming out of the bureaucratic woodwork are from intelligence agencies and from the military.

Unfortunately, in the United States there is a well established bias in favor of employees from national security agencies. Even the very language used by the media speaks to this favoritism. In the Times piece, for example, the authors speak of one of Trump's critics, one "William B. Taylor Jr., a military officer and diplomat who has served his country for 50 years." Note the implied selflessness of Taylor's work. An equally accurate description of Taylor wold be "he was employed by government agencies for fifty years" of "the taxpayers paid his bills for fifty years." Instead, we're told he "served his country." The propaganda value of the media's pro-military bias is not lost on the officers themselves, and it's no surprise Vindman, a Lt. Colonel, testified to Congress in his military uniform.

Other examples can be found every time Trump fires a lifelong bureaucrat from the upper echelons of the various "national security" agencies. For example, last summer, when Trump fired director of national intelligence Dan Coats, the Atlantic portrayed Coats as a principled idealist who "spoke truth to power. " Coats, was fired, the author tells us, because of his devotion to the truth, even if it undermined Trump's agenda. The best proof of Coats' honest determination, we're told, was the fact he "won praise from former intelligence officials."

In real life, of course, Coats is a lifelong politician and bureaucrat who prior to his dismissal had collected a government paycheck for four decades. As a politician he lobbied for gun control and supported the disastrous 2003 Iraq War. The idea that his post-Congressional career was marked by dogged devotion to the truth ought to strike one as rather fanciful.

A Slipping Facade

But even The New York Times is no longer pretending that the deep state doesn't exist, and that it doesn't have its own political agenda. In fact, as noted by Robert Merry at The American Conservative, the Times article even "portray[s] the current impeachment drama as the likely denouement of a struggle between the outsider Trump and the insider administrative forces of government."  This is especially significant since it is also increasingly clear that, "American foreign policy has become the almost exclusive domain of unelected bureaucrats impervious to the views of elected officials — even presidents — who may harbor outlooks different from their own." Merry concludes the past three years of investigations of the president, conducted by government bureaucrats, is "the story of entrenched government bureaucrats and a president who sought to curb their power. Or, put another way, the story of a president who sought to rein in the deep state and a deep state that sought to destroy his presidency."

Some of these deep state agents even admit their willingness to subvert the official chain of command to suit their own purposes. Vindman, for example, told the impeachment committee he actively sought to subvert Trump administration relations with the Ukrainian government not out of concerns about criminality, but to serve Vindman's own vision for American policy. In the mind of this mid-level bureaucrat, American foreign policy is set not by elected officials in Washington DC, but by the bureaucrats themselves.

Why Take the Administration's Side?

Back in 2017, the battle lines between Trump and the deep state were already being drawn, and at the time I wrote:

This isn't to say that Trump is the "good guy" here. As with the US military establishment overall, the deep state is by no means monolithic. Like any group of self-serving institutions, there are competing factions. Trump clearly has allies within some areas of the deep state, as can be reflected in Trump's attempts to massively expand military spending at the expense of the taxpayer.

But the fact he's considered an outsider in Washington by so many should suggest there are reasons to support him over the entrenched bureaucracy.

Indeed, as Greenwald pointed out in a 2017 interview, it's not a coincidence that former and current members of the deep state clearly preferred Clinton to Trump during the campaign. The deep state bureaucrats preferred the insider Clinton to the outsider trump who might actually shine some light on the deep state's lack of accountability and virtually untrammeled autonomy.

It's not difficult to understand why even a leftist like Greenwald prefers the relative transparency of the current White House.

After all, deep-state agencies face virtually no scrutiny of — and even less real opposition to — their many misdeeds. These, of course, are so numerous as to be impossible to list. But just for starters we might refer to a 2017 article by Sharyl Attkisson in The Hill titled "10 times the intel community violated the trust of US citizens, lawmakers and allies." It's a laundry list of illegal, immoral, and blatantly unconstitutional acts which well illustrate the near total impunity with which these agencies operate. Abuse of spying powers is so rampant within the FBI, for example, that even the lopsidedly pro-spying FISA court was forced to conclude the FBI routinely overstepped the bounds of legal surveillance. And, of course, without the heroic whistleblowing of Edward Snowden, the NSA would still be falsely insisting that it doesn't routinely spy on virtually all Americans, whenever and however it likes.

One might insist "but presidents lie a lot and break laws too!" That's true, but the difference between presidents and deep-state bureaucrats is well illustrated by the current impeachment controversy. It's the president who's facing indictments, public attacks, and the prospect of removal. On the other hand, the deep-state bureaucrats who oversee many counts of corruption, illegal spying, and leaking, remain safely hidden from public view. Those who routinely lie, deceive, and abuse their power often go on doing so for decades. As the years pass, they become ever more entrenched in the federal bureaucracy, invisible to the public, and — as we are now seeing — often answerable to no one.

Presidents come and go, and they often face fierce opposition from the other party or from the media. The deep state, meanwhile, it said to be full of national heroes who "serve their country" and "speak truth to power."

It should be easy to see, in the battle between the president and the deep state, which side is the most dangerous. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 20:25
Tags
Published:11/15/2019 7:37:49 PM
[Markets] Global Debt To End 2019 At A Record High Of $255 Trillion, 330% Of World GDP Global Debt To End 2019 At A Record High Of $255 Trillion, 330% Of World GDP

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and that global debt will keep rising in perpetuity.

Addressing the third, yesterday the Institute of International Finance reported that global debt has now hit $250 trillion and is expected to hit a record $255 trillion at the end of 2019, up $12 trillion from $243 trillion at the end of 2018, and nearly $32,500 for each of the 7.7 billion people on planet.

"With few signs of slowdown in the pace of debt accumulation, we estimate that global debt will surpass $255 trillion this year," the IIF said in the report.

The surge was driven by a $7.5 trillion surge in the first half of the year which was used to reverse the global slowdown that sent stocks into a bear market in 2018, and which shows no signs of slowing. Around 60% of that jump came from the United States and China. Government debt alone is set to top $70 trillion this year, as will overall debt (government, corporate and financial sector) of emerging-market countries.

The total debt breakdown as of Dec. 31 is as follows:

  • Household debt: $47.9 trillion
  • Non-financial corporate: $75.7 trillion
  • Government: $70 trillion
  • Financial corporate: $61.7 trillion

This amounts to a grand total of just over $255 trillion, roughly equivalent to a record 330% of global GDP.

Separately, Bank of America's Michael Hartnett on Friday calculated that since the collapse of Lehman, government debt has increased by $30tn, corporates debt by $25tn, household by $9tn, and financial debt by $2tn; And with central banks expected to support government debt, BofA warns that "the biggest recession risk is disorderly rise in credit spreads & corporate deleveraging."

Overall, global bond markets have increased from $87 trillion in 2009 to over $115 trillion, with government bonds now making up 47% of the market compared with 40% in 2009 according to Reuters.

Crushing Ray Dalio's delightful, if impossible, dream of a "beautiful deleveraging", borrowing by the four separate categories - governments, households, financial corporates, non-financial business - is growing faster than the global economy especially among emerging markets, where as noted above, Chinese companies were the biggest source of debt issuance the Washington-based IIF said in its Thursday report, although more than half of "corporate" debt in those countries is likely held by state-owned businesses, which means that effectively this is government-backstopped debt.

With state-owned companies now accounting for over half of non-financial corporate debt in emerging markets, sovereign-related borrowing has been the single most important driver of global debt over the past decade.

Not surprisingly, in developed countries it was governments that account for the bulk of borrowings.

As it does every quarter, the IIF report warned about the limits and risks of debt-fueled economic growth, a warning that has not only been widely ignored by virtually every politician (now that even the Tea Party has thrown in the towel), but a warning which is clearly being ignored by the US where the CBO projects debt to grow exponentially until something finally breaks.

The IIF also said that emerging markets that have increasingly relied on foreign-currency borrowing - including Turkey, Mexico and Chile - could be exposed to risks if growth slows further.  Separately, the IIF warned that the three EM economies with the greatest percentage increase in debt year-over-year from Q2 2018 to Q2 2019, were Chile, South Korea, and Argentina. Of these, the first is currently being rocked by unprecedented social upheaval, while the latter effectively defaulted on its debt, sending its bond prices plummeting last quarter, crushing the IMF's credibility in the process.

Altogether, emerging market debt hit a new all time high of $71.4 trillion in Q2, up nearly $5 trillion in the past year.

And, in yet another hint that MMT is only a matter of when, not if, the IIF suggested that "high-debt countries that also have high exposure to climate risk" - like Japan, Singapore, Korea and the U.S. - may struggle with the rapid increase in funding that the fight against climate change will require. Of course, there will be no such issue if the Treasury can openly monetize the debt it issues, something MMT claims would lead to global utopia and instead will lead to the end of the current monetary system as we know it.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 20:05
Published:11/15/2019 7:09:41 PM
[Markets] Farmageddon: 12 Charts Show That Despite Trump's Aid, Finances For Farmers Are Getting Worse Farmageddon: 12 Charts Show That Despite Trump's Aid, Finances For Farmers Are Getting Worse

A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City shows that farm finances across agricultural states continued to weaken throughout the summer and into the early fall. 

The survey touched on all of the key points in the industry: commodity prices, costs, leverage, production, real estate values and the effects of Trump's ongoing trade war. The report found:

Despite a slight increase in the price of some agricultural commodities and additional support from government payments, farm income and loan repayment rates declined at a modest pace. According to District bankers, agricultural economic conditions in the quarter were influenced by uncertainty about crop production, agricultural trade and other factors that contributed to commodity price fluctuations. Persistent weaknesses in the sector put further pressure on farm finances and signs of modest increases in credit stress remained. Farmland values, however, remained stable, and provided ongoing support for the sector.

Farm income in the region remained relatively weak and continued to decline, the report found. 

The report also showed that farm income decreased from a year ago across all states in the region.

Debt laden farmers were forced to make additional cuts to spending in response to an ongoing environment of subdued revenue.

And the report noted that ongoing reductions in farm income put further downward pressure on liquidity positions of crop producers. 

This resulted in deleveraging through selling farm assets...

While caused an uptick in demand for farm loans...

...and steady deterioration of agricultural credit conditions.

Meanwhile, the outlook for repayment rates through year-end was mixed.

The share of problem loans was steady and the increase in overall credit risk associated with farm loans remained modest, the report noted.

Some temporarily relief came in the form of interest rates on farm loans declining slightly in the third quarter...

And the entire industry continues to rest on farm real estate values, which have also held up...

...but the outlook for the future remains pessimistic. "Bankers in the Kansas City Fed region expected agricultural credit conditions and farm income to continue to decline in coming months," the report read. 

It continued: "Although numerous contacts indicated that government payments connected to ongoing trade disputes provided some support, most bankers pointed to an ongoing environment of low agricultural commodity prices and elevated costs as the primary factors contributing to the weakness."

The report says that the stability of farm real estate will continue to provide support to farm finances, and likely will be a key determinant of credit conditions in the year ahead.

And hey, don't worry - we all know real estate will never crash, right?

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 19:25
Published:11/15/2019 6:40:43 PM
[Markets] How The Homeless Crisis Could Soon Become An Epidemic How The Homeless Crisis Could Soon Become An Epidemic

Via Doug Casey's International Man,

International Man: There is a growing homeless crisis in liberal West Coast cities, including San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and many others. People living on the street are overrunning these cities.

Residents must deal with human feces, syringes, disease, and filth every day. In some areas, it’s worse than the dirtiest slums of Brazil, Kenya, and India.

How did this happen?

Doug Casey: Well, taking a long-term view, I see it as part of the continuing decline of Western civilization.

The West has always been distinguished relative to the rest of the world by its order, its cleanliness, its respect for property rights. These things are all going by the wayside. We were a middle class society with “bourgeois” values, essentially Boy Scout virtues. But these things are now held in contempt, even while the middle class is being squeezed. “Ground between the millstones of taxation and inflation,” as the phrase attributed to Lenin puts it.

Some members of the lower and middle classes are still moving up, but it’s easier to fall than to rise. Most of the homeless are whites who are headed down. We haven’t seen this since the 1930s.

This epidemic is concentrated in so-called sanctuary cities, which go out of their way to bring in people who are unwilling or unable to support themselves. But most of the newly minted “street people” aren’t migrants. They seem to mostly be failed ex-members of the middle class.

It’s quite novel to see people in camping tents on city sidewalks. It’s different from the occasional bum sleeping under newspapers on a park bench. A tent implies a measure of permanency. It stakes out a property right.

Let me pause over my use of the word “bum.”

I learned a few things when I went on a couple of adventures “riding the rails.” There were three classes of people you’d meet in and around the railyard, on the “wrong side of the tracks”: hobos, tramps, and bums. They were all “homeless people,” but that term wasn’t used. Hobos were people there for the lifestyle; often well-read, dropouts with wanderlust. Tramps were people down on their luck; they rode the rails to get someplace there might be work or where they had a friend. Bums were those with terminally bad habits: lazy, dirty, usually dishonest.

The distinction between hobos, tramps, and bums appears to have been lost. None of the new breed of street people are hobos, I promise you. They’re tramps at best, but mostly bums. But it’s now fashionable to call them “the homeless,” because the PC world likes euphemisms. Not so long ago, these people used to be called “derelicts” or “vagrants.”

Part of the Orwellian PC trend in language is that you can no longer call something what it is. You have to make up a softer and less accurate description of who or what they are. You’re not allowed to offend bums, derelicts, or vagrants. Even though they are, by their very nature, offensive.

Why is this happening? It’s no longer just the occasional lowlife just passing through, but whole communities of people who take over sections of cities and camp out on public sidewalks.

What’s caused that? The media says it’s because of alcohol, drugs, and mental problems. But as usual, the brain-dead and blow-dried media is wrong.

Where were these lowlifes before? And what’s drawn them out of the woodwork where they were apparently hiding? I question whether junkies and crazy people are the cause; I suspect they’re an effect.

In other words, it’s quite possible that the hard times that started in 2008 drove a lot of people, who were already psychologically unstable, into full-fledged psychosis. And caused others to take up alcohol and drugs as a way of hiding from an unpleasant reality.

On the largest scale, I blame it on government action. Which shocks most people, because they see the government as the solution, not the cause. They see a real or imagined problem, and they want the State, because it has a lot of power, to “do something.” In fact, the only way the State can solve a problem is by undoing things that it’s already done, not doing more.

Even though it’s said that we have all-time low unemployment, these are mostly minimum-wage jobs. And the numbers are further disguised by the fact a lot of people who’d like to work as something other than a fast-food clerk or a Walmart greeter are what are called “discouraged workers.” They’re not counted as unemployed if they’ve stopped looking for work. I suspect that very few of the street people are counted as unemployed.

International Man: Cities like San Francisco spend tens of millions of dollars each year trying to keep the streets clean to no avail. Within hours, freshly cleaned streets are again covered in filth. Many people seem to think the city needs to throw more money at the problem.

What do you think? How should they address the problem?

Doug Casey: Cleaning up after these people isn’t a solution. It’s cosmetic, at best.

What we have are thousands on the streets who produce nothing, and only consume. They survive on food stamps, various welfare programs, handouts, petty theft, and the like. In other words, they’re not an asset either to themselves or to society. They’re an active liability, and they’re actually encouraged by being allowed to group together on other people’s property.

Will cleaning up after them solve the problem? No, it aggravates it.

It’s now an epidemic. It started in 2008 when lots of middle-class people lost their houses. And oddly, the trend toward people living on the street has been growing over the last 10 years of artificial boom.

We’re going to have a very real bust very soon. The high levels of debt that we have today have allowed the whole country to live above its means. When the economy adjusts to lower levels of consumption, a new avalanche of people will lose their jobs, and they’ll have no savings to fall back on. However, their debts will remain and keep them from getting back up.

Not so long ago, Americans saved up and bought their cars for cash. Your car was a small asset, but it was an asset. Then came two-year, then three-year, five-year, and now seven-year financing. In fact, most now lease their cars, because they can’t afford to buy them, even with seven-year financing. The things have gone from being a small asset into a major liability. With simple pickup trucks selling for upwards of $50,000, many are going to lose their transportation. Then they can’t get to their job, can’t pay their rent or mortgage, and they’re out on the street. It’s easy to see how an ex-member of the middle class could become mentally unbalanced and start doing drugs.

People could lose houses they bought with mortgages they can’t afford but think they can because of today’s very low floating interest rates. Just like back in 2008 and 2009. Plus, real estate taxes keep going up—partly because local governments are in good measure responsible for supporting lowlifes forced to live on the street, ironically due to high real estate taxes.

Utilities are going to go up because commodities are very, very low now. They’re going higher—good for commodity speculators; not good for Joe and Jane Consumer.

So, you’re going to see more people moving onto the streets. And let me reemphasize this: They’re not—now—necessarily junkies or mentally disabled. But they may be, once they lose everything they thought they had. Their numbers are going to grow as the economy goes downhill.

This is an explosive problem. These are people who will have nothing to lose. They’re going to be overcome by envy of and resentment against the rich. You can count on them to vote Democratic in 2020. There’s no question the state of the economy will be by far the biggest influence in the election.

All the while, because of the financialization of the economy, the rich are getting richer. This isn’t just unfair—it’s dangerous. Incidentally, “unfair” is a word I hate to use, because it often implies a whole set of assumptions. But that’s another topic. Anyway, the situation is setting up the United States for class warfare, the haves against the have-nots. Middle class societies are stable; we’re becoming less middle class.

International Man: The Fed has reflated the housing bubble with years of easy money. It has distorted the housing market and artificially increased real estate prices. How does the Fed relate to the homeless crisis?

Doug Casey: One indirect and delayed consequence of their creating all this money out of nothing—in order to keep the big banks, brokers, and insurers from failing during the crisis that began in 2007—is the creation of bubbles. The biggest bubble is in tech stocks. But the real estate bubble that busted in ’08 and ’09 has been re-inflating, at least until the last year.

International Man: California politicians have implemented rent controls and more regulations in the hope of solving the problem. The situation has only gotten worse, and the calls for the government to “do something!” only grow stronger.

If the inclination is to ask for more government, what do you expect the outcome to be?

Doug Casey: Rent control, like other forms of wage and price controls, seems logical to someone who doesn’t understand economics. It always sounds good to politicians—they like “bold action” to keep prices down, appear to help the little guy, and punish rich landlords all at once. What’s not to like?

In addition to their crime of initiating force, stealing, and destroying the moral tenor of society, they’re looking only at the immediate and direct consequences, not the delayed and indirect ones. Namely that nobody will build new buildings or even maintain old ones if they can’t make money doing so.

Rent controls result in housing shortages, run-down neighborhoods, and an atmosphere of class warfare. Rent controls are usually a consequence of money printing, which is actually the root cause of homelessness. But government is prone to disguise symptoms, not cure the disease itself—which they cause. Nobody learns anything. It’s why historians tend to be pessimistic.

International Man: Elizabeth Warren and other notable Democrats have called affordable housing a “basic human right.” They suggest that the federal government should make housing affordable or even free. It seems this will be a new plank for the party. What do you make of this?

Doug Casey: The only real human right is the right to be left alone.

You don’t have a right to free housing or free medical or free education or free food or a guaranteed income. You don’t have a right to any of these things because the question is: At whose expense? You’ve got zero right to make anybody give you things or do things for you. Warren’s policies will turn the US into a dog-eat-dog nightmare.

What’s going on today will overturn the foundations that made the progress we’ve had in the US possible. Once you start thinking like a Third World or Soviet country, you’re going to get their results.

The fact that the US still has a lot of wealth means nothing. That wealth can be destroyed very quickly. Practically overnight, as happened in places like Venezuela and Zimbabwe. I’ve spent time in both, and they used to be quite nice. Now they’re full of people sleeping on the streets, under bridges, and in cardboard shacks. For exactly the same reasons we’re seeing this in the US.

International Man: The homeless crisis is a trend in motion. It’s picking up momentum and spreading to new cities. What do you think happens next?

Doug Casey: One of the best definitions of a depression is a period of time when most people’s standard of living drops significantly.

As the Greater Depression deepens, for the reasons we mentioned earlier, you’re going to see more people living on the street.

What’s going to be done about it?

It can’t be solved by the government pushing them off the streets. Where are they going to go—outside the city limits to empty lots and fields? Actually, that’s just what Austin, Texas, did a few weeks ago. They set aside a five-acre plot near downtown where people can camp. Vagrants and their possessions were forcibly relocated to it.

Of course that temporarily solves the esthetics problem of bums camping on the street. But this is exactly how what are called “favelas” in Brazil and “ranchos” in Venezuela got started. The indigent move to state property, start out by camping, then start building informal houses out of trash and stolen building materials.

It’s an unsolvable problem, unless the country returns to prosperity. Will the government bulldoze the camps and then build high rise ghettos like they did for blacks in all the big US cities? That didn’t work really well… You only make the problem worse by putting these people in what amounts to zoos.

The interesting twist here is that today’s street people are mostly whites who’ve lost their middle class status—not blacks, not Latino migrants. This is a huge straw in the wind. So much for White Privilege…

International Man: What are the bigger implications of the homeless crisis for the future of the US economy and political system?

Doug Casey: It’s going to be very hard for everybody, especially as the government inflates more, taxes more, and regulates more. They’ll do massive amounts of all three. The situation will necessarily get worse for most people. The people who are benefiting from this one way or another—the rich and politically well-connected—will increasingly be in barrio cerrados (gated communities) to protect themselves.

It’s another sign that the state of civilization in the United States is changing radically. So far it’s been a slow slide down. But when the economy falls apart this time, it’s going to look like we’ve fallen off a cliff. We’re going to have to adjust to a whole new reality politically, socially, and economically. I’m not looking forward to it.

*  *  *

The economic trajectory is troubling. Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the course of these trends in motion. The best you can and should do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey and his colleagues just released an urgent new PDF report that explains what could come next and what you can do about it. Click here to download it now.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 19:05
Published:11/15/2019 6:07:03 PM
[Markets] 'I Have Freedom Of Speech': Trump Hits Back After Critics Claim Witness Intimidation, 'Thugocracy' 'I Have Freedom Of Speech': Trump Hits Back After Critics Claim Witness Intimidation, 'Thugocracy'

After House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) took time out of today's impeachment testimony to rebuke President Trump for "witness intimidation," President Trump hit back.

During testimony from former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, Trump took aim at her over Twitter, saying "Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her..."

Following Trump's tweet, Schiff dramatically interrupted questioning from his staff counsel to read Trump's tweet aloud - asking Yovanovitch what effect Trump's tweet might have on future witnesses, to which she replied that it would be "very intimidating.

Trump's tweet was so troubling that former Media Matters employee Paul Waldman wrote in the Washington Post that Trump "talks and acts like a Mafioso" in an article entitled "Yovanovitch hearing confirms that Trump is running a thugocracy."

Following Schiff's dramatic exchange, Trump was asked whether his words can be intimidating, to which he said "I don't think so at all."

"I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech just like other people do," Trump told White House reporters following remarks on a health care initiative, adding that he's "allowed to speak up" and defend himself.

Watch:

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 18:25
Published:11/15/2019 5:38:52 PM
[Markets] Personal Finance Daily: Use this calculator to add up the ‘true’ cost of your streaming services, and Taylor Swift is squaring off with private-equity giant Carlyle Group — here’s how the combatants stack up Friday’s top personal finance stories
Published:11/15/2019 5:09:54 PM
[Markets] Series Of Blasts Target Mass Protest Gathering In Baghdad, Multiple Dead & Wounded Series Of Blasts Target Mass Protest Gathering In Baghdad, Multiple Dead & Wounded

A series of explosions ripped through central Baghdad on Friday night, and appeared to target protests which have raged since early October, killing at least three people. Some unconfirmed reports have cited four dead and a dozen wounded in a developing situation where the casualty toll is expected to climb.

The final in a string of blasts was identified according to early reports and video as a car bomb in Tahrir Square, which did the worst damage, killing and wounding multiple protesters

"A large number of people injured by the booby-trapped car bomb were taken by the drivers of the Tek-Tik wheels to hospitals near Tahrir," a source told Arabic media. Another blast was reported in nearby Tayaran Square as well, which may have also resulted in casualties. 

Though anti-corruption and anti-government demonstrations have witnessed violent clashes with police, resulting at this point in over 300 dead and an estimated 15,000 wounded, the bombing escalates things to a new level of violence

Some among the string of blasts as well as the aftermath caught on video:

In the moments before the explosions Tahrir Square appeared packed with tens of thousands of demonstrators.

Both protest leaders and international media have blamed security forces for the ratcheting violence due to occasions where they've used live fire to disperse crowds.

Pro-Iran Iraqi militias have also been blamed for attempting to brutally put down protests. 

Alternately, pro-Iranian politicians and military leaders in Baghdad have blamed the United States and Israel for fueling unrest in order to curtail Iranian influence. 

The bombing will most likely escalate the intensity of protests as Iraq stands of the brink of possible renewed sectarian civil war. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 18:05
Published:11/15/2019 5:09:54 PM
[Markets] The Dow Added 223 Points to Pass 28000 for the First Time U.S. stocks rose despite negative news about industrial production and mixed figures on consumer spending. Published:11/15/2019 4:37:25 PM
[Markets] Market Extra: Dow’s surge to 28,000 powered by Apple and Home Depot’s stocks The Dow Jones Industrial Average marks history on Friday by finishing at a round-number milestone at 28,000, but the blue-chip benchmark couldn’t have scaled the thousand-point hill without a rally in Apple and shares of Home Depot.
Published:11/15/2019 4:37:25 PM
[Markets] Assad Goes Red Pill In Interview: Epstein, Bin Laden & Baghdadi 'Liquidated' As "They Knew Vital Secrets" Assad Goes Red Pill In Interview: Epstein, Bin Laden & Baghdadi 'Liquidated' As "They Knew Vital Secrets"

In a wide-ranging new interview with Russia’s Rossiya-24 television on Thursday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressed the death of White Helmets founder James Le Mesurier, who had been found dead Nov. 11 after an apparent fall from a three story high balcony outside his Istanbul office. 

Le Mesurier was a former British military intelligence officer and founder of the controversial White Helmets group which Assad has previously dubbed the 'rescue force for al-Qaeda' and his reported suicide under mysterious circumstances is still subject of an ongoing Turkish investigation. In an unusual and rare conversation for a head of state, Assad compared Le Mesurier's death to the murky circumstances surrounding the deaths of Jeffry Epstein, Osama bin Laden and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Assad said what connects these men are that they "knew major secrets" and were thus "liquidated" by "intelligence services" — most likely the CIA, in the now viral interview picked up by Newsweek and other mainstream outlets.

“American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was killed several weeks ago, they said he had committed suicide in jail,” Assad said during the Russian broadcaster interview.

“However, he was killed because he knew a lot of vital secrets connected with very important people in the British and American regimes, and possibly in other countries as well.”

“And now the main founder of the White Helmets has been killed, he was an officer and he had worked his whole life with NATO in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and Lebanon,” he explained.

"Epstein didn't kill himself": Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in this image shared November 14 by his office, via Syrian Presidency/Newsweek

“Both of us know that they [representatives of the White Helmets] are naturally part of Al Qaeda. I believe that these people, as well as the previously liquidated bin Laden and al-Baghdadi had been killed chiefly because they knew major secrets. They turned into a burden once they had played out their roles. A dire need to do away with them surfaced after they had fulfilled their roles,” Assad continued.

Concerning White Helmet's founder Le Mesurier's death, he pointed to the CIA or an allied intelligence service, such as Turkey's MIT

“Of course, this is the work of the secret services. But which secret service? When we talk about Western secret services in general, about Turkish and some other ones in our region, these are not the secret services of sovereign states, rather these are departments of the main intelligence agency – the CIA.”

“It is quite possible that Turkish intelligence agencies did the job upon the instructions of foreign intelligence services,” he qualified.

The Syrian president then speculated that, “Possibly, the founder of the White Helmets had been working on his memoirs and on the biography of his life, and this was unacceptable. This is an assumption, but a very serious one, since other options don’t sound convincing to me at the moment.”

Though Assad has done major media interviews routinely over the past years related to the now eight-year long war out of which which he's come out on top, this latest has already received the most visibility, and is currently going viral — likely given the immense public suspicion and doubts surrounding Epstein's jail cell death.

Even Newsweek weighed in, commenting: “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waded into the conspiracy theories around Jeffery Epstein's suicide, saying the financier and convicted sex offender was murdered as part of a Western plot to eliminate high-profile people who knew too much.”

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 17:25
Published:11/15/2019 4:37:25 PM
[Markets] U.S. stocks climb to fresh records on revived hope for U.S. - China trade deal U.S. stocks closed at fresh record highs on Friday on revived hopes for a U.S. - China trade deal despite mixed economic data. Published:11/15/2019 4:09:51 PM
[Markets] VIX Futures Hit New Record Short: Is A Historic Volatility Squeeze Coming? VIX Futures Hit New Record Short: Is A Historic Volatility Squeeze Coming?

For the past 5 weeks, net futures for VIX non-commercial spec positions have hit consecutive record shorts, with the latest print of -206,157 the highest on record.

So besides a reflexive trade in which record market highs prompt carry-seeking traders to short even more VIX, which in turn results in even higher highs, even more short VIX carry and even more VIX shorting, does this unprecedented shorting activity in spot VIX imply anything else, besides the risk of an unprecedented VIX short squeeze of course?

One answer comes courtesy of Goldman's derivatives strategist, Rocky Fishman, who this week writes that to get a full picture of vol positioning, one has to look not only at VIX futures but also VIX ETPs, which have become increasingly popular as hedges (perhaps not so much in February 2018 but we digress).

According to Fishman, the net vega position in VIX ETPs is now above $300mm vega, or roughly the equivalent of 300k VIX futures: "This reflects conservative investor positioning, since long VIX products can be used as a hedge."

And since derivative markets are zero-sum, the byproduct of long VIX ETP position (and corresponding long VIX futures position from the “Commercial” group that likely includes ETP issuers) is a large short VIX futures position from the “Non-Commercial" group shown in the chart above, which Goldman sees as likely holding these shorts as part of relative value strategies. And while the Goldman derivatives strategist may be correct that much of the futures space is used to hedge the ETP space, we disagree that VIX ETPs are using derivatives to hedge exposure, as would be the case in the zero-sum world shown in the chart below.

What are the implications? According to Fishman, with the majority of VIX ETP assets in unlevered long strategies and very little activity in short ETPs, daily rebalancing of ETPs is not likely to materially exacerbate moves in volatility. "However, the constant shifting of exposure from the first VIX future to the second (currently from November to December) has the potential to be adding to VIX curve’s steepness."

If Fishman is correct, there is never point in worrying about record VIX net spec exposure ever, as every position merely represents an offset to an equally matched long position somewhere else. We know that's incorrect however, because the biggest one week surge on record in non-commercial specs took place during the February 2018 VIXplosion week, which confirms that not only were ETPs not perfectly hedged, but there was an epic VIX short squeeze which as many recall sent spot VIX into the 50s.

So for all those who hope to mitigate the importance of a record VIX net short in futures, not only do we disagree that this position is "perfectly" hedge with commercial longs, but since non-commercial actors are more likely to reverse positions, catching commercial longs offside and unwilling to part with their longs, it is our belief that the potential for a historic VIX short squeeze is now far greater than it was during the Feb 2018 VIXplosion which ended up wiping out all those who were long inverse VIX ETNs. We, for one, can't wait to find out just what "collecting pennies in front of a steamroller" trade will be wiped out during the next epic VIX squeeze.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 16:45
Published:11/15/2019 4:09:51 PM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Seeing America again through new eyes In 2011, at 50, I took early retirement from my job as an air-traffic controller, left Texas and began traveling the world.
Published:11/15/2019 4:09:51 PM
[Markets] Kissinger: Coming Conflict Between US And China "Will Be Worse Than World Wars" Kissinger: Coming Conflict Between US And China "Will Be Worse Than World Wars"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger warns that a catastrophic conflict between America and China that will be “worse than world wars” is inevitable unless the two sides sort out their differences.

Kissinger made the comments at an event hosted by the National Committee on US China Relations in New York last night.

“We are in a difficult period now. I am confident the leaders on both sides will realise the future of the world depends on the two sides working out solutions and managing the inevitable difficulties,” said Kissinger.

A permanent conflict between Washington And Beijing would be unwinnable and lead to “catastrophic outcome,” he added.

“It’s no longer possible to think that one side can dominate the other…it will be worse than the world wars that ruined European civilisation,” said Kissinger.

The U.S. and China have been embroiled in a trade war since President Trump began imposing tariffs on thousands of Chinese-made products in a bid to end unfair trading practices.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 16:25
Published:11/15/2019 3:36:21 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Trade deal hopes, surging health stocks power Wall St to highs Published:11/15/2019 3:36:21 PM
[Markets] Fisher Investments' "Women Friendly" Ads Weren't Embraced By All Women At His Firm Fisher Investments' "Women Friendly" Ads Weren't Embraced By All Women At His Firm

It was just about 2 weeks ago that we pointed out Ken Fisher's efforts to "fight back" against the deluge of withdrawals and redemptions his firm was facing as a result of lewd comments he made at a financial conference several months ago.

The firm's efforts included taking out "women friendly ads". "You Heard Their Story. Now Hear Ours,” the headline to one of his ads read. It featured 7 female employees at Fisher Investments and statistics that put the company in a favorable light. “Over 800 women strong, with women leading 63% of employees,” the ad read. 

But now it appears as though all of the women asked to participate in these ads weren't exactly happy about it, according to Bloomberg

Hundreds of female employees were "surprised" last month when they were asked at a meeting to pose for a group picture showing their support for Fisher. They were told that participation in the ad would be "voluntary". When one woman asked if she could share both positive and negative experiences, she was told that it could be discussed "offline", before the meeting was directed to more logistical questions. 

The women were then asked to sign photo waivers at the meeting and were given "little time to make a decision", the report notes. 

And the counteroffensive effort has now "dividend women within the company". Some said they were eager to step in and defend their job, while others - well, not so much. 

Rachel Winfield, a vice president at Fisher, said: “I would say I understand and agree with some of the stuff that’s in the media that Ken's comments were inappropriate. What Ken says and the experience of the culture are two separate things.”

Other women, however, have complained about feeling pressured to participate and are fearful of losing their jobs or being retaliated against. 

Margaret Duffy, executive director of the University of Missouri’s Novak Leadership Institute said:

“A lot of observers would wonder, ‘Did they really have much choice to appear in the ad?’”

John Dillard, a Fisher spokesman, said: "Women from across the company had written or expressed their support of the company internally and on social media sites before the meeting. Those individuals were brought together on that day to share their stories. In an effort to be inclusive, we asked women at all of our locations if they wanted to be part of our message."

Jessica Smith, a vice president in the Camas office, said:

"Many women reached out [to her] before the photo shoot. They felt like what the media has put out there is completely opposite of what they experienced. Many women were very, very eager to have an opportunity to tell our story.”

Some women were uncomfortable when they found out that the ad was being used as a way to generate sales leads. The ad referred people to a website that provides more information on women at the firm. From there, visitors are asked to fill out personal information to “learn what else makes Fisher Investments special.”

Bloomberg notes that "since 2016, 125 people have filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission about repeated Fisher phone calls, emails and mailings."

Meanwhile, Fisher clients continue to hit the exits, with a over $3 billion pulled from the company since Fisher's remarks. 

Fisher was managing about $10.9 billion on behalf of 36 state or municipal government entities at the end of 2018, down from $13.2 billion at the end of 2017. That number will likely be sizeably lower at the end of 2019.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 15:55
Published:11/15/2019 3:06:42 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS SNAPSHOT-Trade hopes propel Wall Street to records; healthcare climbs Published:11/15/2019 3:06:42 PM
[Markets] Dow breaks above 28,000 for first time as stocks end at records Dow breaks above 28,000 for first time as stocks end at records Published:11/15/2019 3:06:42 PM
[Markets] Trump attacks former Ukraine envoy Yovanovitch as impeachment hearings go for second day President Donald Trump on Friday attacked the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine as she was testifying in Democrats’ impeachment probe, and announced a new rule on hospital prices. Published:11/15/2019 2:39:07 PM
[Markets] Hong Kong Liquidity Crisis Near Decade Highs As Capital Flight Accelerates Hong Kong Liquidity Crisis Near Decade Highs As Capital Flight Accelerates

As Hong Kong's protest-pummeled streets increasingly resemble a warzone, and its economy collapses, there is another, very ominous signal coming from the banking system.

As Bloomberg reports, cracks are starting to emerge in Hong Kong’s currency and money markets, as traders speculate the local dollar’s resilience to increasingly violent protests won’t last.

While Hong Kong stocks were already showing pain...

Source: Bloomberg

Now, liquidity conditions in the FX market are the tightest since the late 1990s, or the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.

Source: Bloomberg

An increase in this gauge - resulting from a short-term drainage of cash - coupled with a weaker spot rate “signify an increase in risk-aversion to Hong Kong dollar assets,” Chun Him Cheung, a strategist at Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note.

Additionally, signaling as the chart below shows that traders are aggressively betting on notable weakness in the Hong Kong Dollar in the short-term...

Source: Bloomberg

Amid all of this liquidity chaos, the one-month Hong Kong Interbank Offered Rate (HIBOR) soaring 100bps this week to hit 2.75% on Thursday, not too far off a decade-high of 2.99% marked in July when protestors occupied the city’s legislature.

Source: Bloomberg

Some have suggested that this sudden cash shortage is due to Alibaba Group's $13.4 billion Hong Kong listing hoovering up cash temporarily:

“Timing wise, it's not good for the liquidity to get sucked out of the system as there’s a bit of capital outflow happening due to the protests,” said a Hong Kong-based senior banker at a European bank, who asked not to be identified.

However, the move has been going on for months as the protests escalated and given the massive divergence between US-HK borrowing rates (and the huge implicit carry that would provide), it is shocking that the HKD remains so weak...

Source: Bloomberg

In fact, this divergence is a strong signal that this liquidity crisis much more about capital flight (and total risk aversion) than any short-term cash needs for an IPO.

“In contrast with the situation in July, August, the Fed has already cut twice but local rates are driving higher still. Capital outflow concerns seem pretty severe,” said Ken Cheung, chief Asian FX strategist at Mizuho Bank.

While, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is desperately attempting to play down any fears of a run, saying in late October that there was no obvious capital outflow from its banking system, the above shifts in the short-term money-markets suggests otherwise, and Goldman Sachs has estimated that Hong Kong may have lost as much as $4 billion in deposits to rival financial hub Singapore between June and August alone.

The aggregate balance, a gauge of banks’ cash balances with the HKMA, is down 87% from its 2015 high of HK$426 billion.

Source: Bloomberg

If nothing else, this is a massive distraction for Xi and he purportedly attempts to squeeze Trump in the trade deal discussions.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 15:25
Published:11/15/2019 2:39:07 PM
[Markets] Where Should I Retire?: I’ve got $4,000 a month to spend and am looking for a gay-friendly retirement city — where should I live? These suggestions, including one spot in Arkansas, may surprise you.
Published:11/15/2019 2:39:07 PM
[Markets] Rate-Cutting Fed Warns That Prolonged Rate-Cuts "Increases Vulnerability Of Market To Shocks" Rate-Cutting Fed Warns That Prolonged Rate-Cuts "Increases Vulnerability Of Market To Shocks"

Oh, the irony...

The Fed has just released its twice-yearly Financial Stability Report and it is full of two things - ominous warnings... and swift "but, there's nothing to worry about" retorts.

Our view on the current level of vulnerabilities is as follows:

  • Asset valuations. Asset prices remain high in several markets relative to income streams. However, risk appetite measures that account for the low level of long-term yields on U .S . Treasury securities are more aligned with historical norms for most markets . With the exception of riskier corporate debt, commercial real estate (CRE), and farmland markets, these measures point to a reduction in risk appetite from the elevated levels of 2017 and 2018 .

  • Borrowing by businesses and households. Borrowing by businesses is historically high relative to gross domestic product (GDP), with the most rapid increases in debt concentrated among the riskiest firms amid weak credit standards . By contrast, household borrowing remains at a modest level relative to income, and the amount of debt owed by borrowers with credit scores below prime has remained flat .

  • Leverage in the financial sector. The largest U .S . banks remain strongly capitalized, and the leverage of broker-dealers is at historically low levels . However, several large banks have announced plans to reduce their voluntary capital buffers . Leverage among life insurance companies is moderate, while hedge fund leverage remains elevated relative to the past five years.

  • Funding risk. Estimates of the total amount of financial system liabilities that are most vulnerable to runs, including those issued by nonbanks, remain modest . Short-term wholesale funding continues to be low compared with other liabilities, and the ratio of high-quality liquid assets to total assets remains high at large banks .

Stresses in Europe, such as those related to Brexit; stresses in emerging markets; and an unexpected and marked slowdown in U .S . economic growth are among the near-term risks that have the potential to interact with these vulnerabilities and pose risks to the financial system.

All sounds fine right? But there is this...

"If interest rates were to remain low for a prolonged period, the profitability of banks, insurers, and other financial intermediaries could come under stress and spur reach-for-yield behavior, thereby increasing the vulnerability of the financial sector to subsequent shocks,”

In fact this is exactly what BofA recent warned...

"...some have argued, including former NY Fed President William Dudley, that the last financial crisis was in part fueled by the Fed's reluctance to tighten financial conditions as housing markets showed early signs of froth. It seems the Fed's abundant-reserve regime may carry a new set of risks by supporting increased interconnectedness and overly easy policy (expanding balance sheet during an economic expansion) to maintain funding conditions that may short-circuit the market's ability to accurately price the supply and demand for leverage as asset prices rise."

Fed Governor Lael Brainard reiterated this warning in a statement today that the low-for-long environment “and the associated incentives to reach for yield and take on additional debt could increase financial vulnerabilities.”

The current combination of "very low credit spreads" - measured as the gap between yields on U.S. Treasurys and assets such as corporate debt - "and high levels of indebtedness among risky nonfinancial corporates, including through leveraged loans, merits heightened vigilance."

However, despite this warning, as Bloomberg reports, The Fed seems to take a more relaxed view of the rising stock market than it did in its last report in May.

While equity prices remain high relative to corporate earnings, they are consistent with the low level of interest rates, the Fed said.

“Over the past couple of years, equity prices have been high relative to forecasts of corporate earnings,” according to the report.

However, other measures of investors’ risk appetite in domestic equity markets are in the middle of their historical ranges.”

But then again, The Fed warns about liquidity issues,

For equity futures, “liquidity has become more fragile over time,” the report said.

“It tends to disappear when it is needed the most, when asset price volatility is high.”

The Fed touches on the repocalypse problem, but again the tone is one of "problem solved"...

“Pressures in the repo market spilled over to other markets, including the federal funds market,” the report said.

“The Federal Reserve took a number of steps beginning in mid-September to maintain the federal funds rate within its target range and to ensure an ample supply of reserves. Pressures in short-term funding markets subsequently abated.

But one last warning...

“Should a no-deal Brexit cause distress in systemically important financial institutions in Europe, it would amplify the transmission of economic disturbances to U S and global financial systems,“ the Fed said.

In summary, The Fed is carefully covering their asses by warning that things are getting scary (just in case the world falls apart, "don't say we didn't warn you") and at the same time, that everything is 'contained'.

 

*  *  *

Full Financial Stability Report

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 14:55
Published:11/15/2019 2:07:46 PM
[Markets] CenterPoint Energy's stock drops toward 17-month low after analyst downgrades, cuts price target Shares of CenterPoint Energy Inc. slumped 5.0% in active afternoon trading Friday, putting them on track for 17-month closing low, after SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Ali Agha downgraded the Houston-based utility, citing expectations of a negative outcome in the Texas rate case. Trading volume swelled to 13.6 million shares, compared with the full-day average of 4.6 million shares. Agha cut his rating to hold, barely 2 months after upgrading it to buy. He cut his price target to $27 from $32. "Yesterday's proceedings at the Texas [Public Utility Commission] are pointing to a worse-than-expected outcome in the Houston Electric rate case," Agha wrote in a note to clients. "While the final order has not been issued (we expect that to happen at the next commission open meeting on 12/13/19), it appears that the commission has firmed up key parameters that are significantly lower than expected." No less than eight of the 17 analysts surveyed by FactSet have cut their price targets in the past week, to lower the average target to $30.03 from $32.13 at the end of October. The stock has shed 8.1% over the past three months, while the Dow Jones Utility Average has gained 2.3% and the S&P 500 has climbed 11%. Published:11/15/2019 2:07:46 PM
[Markets] WeWork Bonds Crash To Record Lows As SEC Inquiry Looms WeWork Bonds Crash To Record Lows As SEC Inquiry Looms

WeWork Companies, Inc. May 01, 2025 bond price crashed to a record low Friday of 74.750 cents on the dollar following a new report from Bloomberg, citing sources, that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating the workspace sharing company for possible rule violations. 

The SEC's enforcement division is allegedly investigating WeWork's disclosures to investors around the time it filed an S1 in August and other filings around its attempted IPO in September. 

As a result of the inquiry, WeWork has lawyered up with a top Wall Street firm as it expects to face controversy surrounding the company's collapse in valuation. 

WeWork is now valued at $8 billion, has lost approximately 83% of its value in the last 12 months when it was valued at $47 billion in 4Q18. 

The SEC's investigation shouldn't be shocking to anyone, considering the company neglected to tell investors in the S1 that it needed to IPO before it would run out of cash. 

Sources told Bloomberg it wasn't entirely clear what precisely the SEC was examining for wrongdoing. 

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 14:25
Published:11/15/2019 1:36:27 PM
[Markets] The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Oracle vs. Google copyright case The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Oracle vs. Google copyright case Published:11/15/2019 1:36:27 PM
[Markets] J.C. Penney has good ideas but doesn’t have the resources for a turnaround, analyst says J.C. Penney outlined a number of steps it’s taking to bring the company back to growth.
Published:11/15/2019 1:36:27 PM
[Markets] Dow Surges 135 Points To Record High On China News; This Buffett Stock Soars The stock market rallied to record highs Friday on news a China trade deal may be near. The Dow Jones industrials surged more than 130 points. Published:11/15/2019 1:06:57 PM
[Markets] Heartlanders Bored To Tears By Impeachment Schiff-Show Heartlanders Bored To Tears By Impeachment Schiff-Show

Authored by Sarah Cowgill via LibertyNation.com,

While a lot of eyes were glued to the television sets this week as the Democrats began their public hearing on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, most flyover folks found the process a butt-numbing, ear-bleeding snooze fest and soon turned the channel.

No one trusts the news to get the facts and when it is as boring and predictable as this Democrat Schiff-show has been, well, they find quirky political news to discuss as a matter of self-preservation.

What To Do During Boring Hearing?

The latest hero for the heartland is none other than Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who did take a hit for the team and watched impeachment hearings – with the goal of keeping his Twitter peeps informed. In a rapid series of cryptic missives imparting the news, a creative subliminal message emerged.  Using each first letter of subsequent tweets, Gosar spelled out “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself.”

The chatter was nearing sensory overload on social media – from kudos to creativity, warnings to watch his six, and discussions of political strategies involving the ever-present contagiously viral phrase. Words like “hero” and “epic” and “legend” peppered social media outlets.

Purdue University grad, Doug Cooke, claimed it was simply “Political perfection!” and kudos to whoever figured it out and shared. And that prompted Carol Donaldson in Montgomery, AL to surmise where the best offensive might come from, “The Democrats own the Media. The Right owns the Memes!”

The good folks in Michigan were concerned for Gosar’s longevity, however, and Howard Denison in Grand Haven cautioned, “He’d better be careful. He could be ‘Clintoned.’” But the forewarning from Steve Jewell was much more sobering: “Maybe the whistleblower should take a cue from Epstein? Or Epstein’s non-killer, rather…”

Hunter Biden’s Kimono

Heartlanders are beginning to feel a deep-seated pity for the Biden family. The elder can’t keep his teeth in straight, delivers speeches to backscreens looking for an audience, sniffs everyone, and well, has Hunter as a son. As the impeachment hearing droned on like a drunkard’s snores, one interesting tidbit emerged. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent said under oath, regarding the lack of investigation into Burisma Holdings: “We’ve continued to press Ukrainian officials to answer for why allege corrupt prosecutors had closed [the] case. We have until now got an unsatisfactory answer.”

Yes, the very same Burisma that paid the then VP’s son an exorbitant amount of money to do not much of anything.  Suddenly, Hunter Biden got his knickers … er, kimono … in a twist:

“One thing I don’t have to do is sit here and open my kimono as it relates to how much money I make, or made, or did, or didn’t.”

Such an open invitation for what transpired next. You guessed It: it became all about his junk. Shari Greene answered his taunt, “Yeah, you do. And ‘eww’ for the flasher visual by the way.”  Kelley Lowery in South Dakota was right with Shari, requesting, “Keep the kimono closed.”

From the plains in Illinois, Ken Lawson shared his musings, bringing papa “bare” into the discussion, “The female Secret Service agents wished Joe would have kept his kimono shut during his early morning swims.”

But the last word this week goes to a flyover friend in Topeka, KS, Daryl Johnson: “Based on what you just said, you probably didn’t make much if opening kimono measures your wealth.”

Ouch.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 13:55
Published:11/15/2019 1:06:56 PM
[Markets] The Fed: Fed’s Brainard calls for ‘heightened vigilance’ on financial stability Fed Governor Lael Brainard on Friday called for ‘heightened vigilance’ of the financial sector, as the central bank released its latest financial stability report.
Published:11/15/2019 1:06:56 PM
[Markets] Ivy League Schools Drop "Culturally-Biased" Standardized-Test Requirement Ivy League Schools Drop "Culturally-Biased" Standardized-Test Requirement

Authored by Celine Ryan via Campus Reform,

Two Ivy League universities have announced that many graduate programs will no longer require the traditional standardized Graduate Records Examination testing requirements for applications, citing reasons pertaining to "diversity" and concerns that such tests are "biased" against minority and low-income students.

Both Princeton University and Brown University recently announced that they are moving away from standardized testing requirements for graduate admission in the name of creating a more diverse student body.

Princeton announced its decision to do away with the standardized test for 14 different graduate programs in September, calling the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) biased against minority groups.

Princeton Graduate School associate dean for access, diversity, and inclusion Renita Miller cited a need for "intellectual diversity" within graduate programs, as well as the importance of "demographic diversity." She insists that doing away with the requirement will help Princeton to achieve its goal "to identify, attract and develop the most promising individuals from as many segments of society as possible."

“Universities like Princeton have done a good job at expanding and diversifying their undergraduate populations,” Miller added.

“If we want to make similar strides on the graduate level, we must find new ways to recruit and enroll graduate students who may be the first in their families to attend college, and from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds.”

The assertion is that one way to do this is to do away with standardized testing, because, as Princeton director of graduate studies for classics Johannes Haubold puts it, "there is concern that standardized tests are culturally biased in favor of certain groups; and that they end up testing primarily how good one is at taking tests." Haubold also brought up resource concerns, noting that some students can afford coaching for standardized tests while others cannot.

Brown University announced a similar initiative earlier in October, eliminating GRE requirements for 24 doctoral programs. The university reasoned that doing so would "attract a wider pool of applicants" and "reduce barriers that discourage some students from groups historically underrepresented in higher education and from low-income backgrounds from applying for admission."

Brown Graduate School Dean Andrew G. Campbell insisted that “by removing the Graduate School’s GRE requirement and allowing programs to decide whether to require the exam, we will broaden the talent pool of students who apply to and have access to graduate education at Brown.”

Both universities' new policies will go into effect for applications for programs starting in fall 2020. Among programs with modified requirements are both universities’ neuroscience programs, as well as Princeton's molecular biology graduate program and Brown's biomedical engineering and biotechnology programs.

The moves by Princeton and Brown to drop GRE requirements for some graduate programs comes just months after another Ivy League school, Cornell University, dropped the same requirement from its biomedical engineering program over concerns that such requirements "can be biased against" women, minorities.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 13:15
Published:11/15/2019 12:37:14 PM
[Markets] Investors putting money back into stock-market funds, but flows still solidly negative for 2019 Investors put a net $9.7 billion into stock market funds in the latest week as equities pushed further into record territory, but flows for 2019 remain solidly negative. Published:11/15/2019 12:37:14 PM
[Markets] Upgrade: 1 in 3 boomers makes this critical retirement mistake — far more than in other generations And it’s putting their retirement security at risk
Published:11/15/2019 12:37:14 PM
[Markets] The Dow Is Up 152 Points Despite Less-Than-Great Economic News The three major U.S. stock market indexes posted gains despite slumping industrial-production and retail-sales numbers, which painted a mixed picture of U.S. consumer demand. Published:11/15/2019 12:07:42 PM
[Markets] Italy Declares State Of Emergency As Record Flooding In Venice Worsens Italy Declares State Of Emergency As Record Flooding In Venice Worsens

After "apocalyptic" flooding brought the city of Venice "to its knees" on Wednesday, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared a state emergency, giving Venice access to millions in disaster recovery money to help repair the damage from what appears to be the second-worst round of flooding in 50 years.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared a state of emergency for the city of Venice late Thursday due to exceptionally high tides - rising to 71 inches above their benchmark on Wednesday, the highest in half a century. On Friday morning they were 61 inches above normal, according to Bloomberg.

At one point, a classic Banksy mural of a refugee in a life jacket became almost halfway covered by floodwaters.

Banksy mural partially submerged in Venice

As the flooding worsened, Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro blamed the flooding on climate change, while some pointed to political failures and corruption.

According to local data initially reported by Italy's ANSA newswire, Venice suffered its second exceptionally high tide in a week on Friday, with waters rising 154 centimeters - or 61 inches - above their benchmark.

The historic city, which was constructed on a network of canals between hundreds of small islands in the Adriatic sea, was still reeling from the 187-centimeter tide it recorded on Wednesday, the highest in half a century.

Bracing for Friday’s tide, Brugnaro closed St. Mark’s Square after the 11th century basilica there flooded. The city’s water buses, known as vaporetti, were suspended because of the rising tide, and schools were also closed. He has blamed the floods on climate change, while Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio has raised the issue of political corruption as a factor in the flooding.

“Venice is the victim of climate change and corruption,” Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi Di Maio said Thursday in Washington, according to Ansa. “I don’t know which is worse, but Venice is suffering from both."

Though waters have been rising in Venice in recent years, flooding of this magnitude is rare, and typically only happens once a decade.

The chart below should illustrate just how rare this is. Instances of water rising more than 150 centimeters above the benchmark are rare and usually occur about once in a decade, not twice within a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Early Wednesday, about 50% of the city had been reported flooded by the unusual tide, and some reports into overnight Wednesday say the city was as much as 85% under water.

Di Maio also spoke about the mobile dams which are currently under construction to protect the Venice lagoon from these rising tides. The project is called MOSE, and it's already well over its budget of 5.5 billion euros and counting, it's believed that the devices won’t be ready until at least 2022 (if Venice isn't entirely underwater before then).

The project, which has been plagued by technical failures, is now under investigation by the Judiciary.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 12:55
Published:11/15/2019 12:07:42 PM
[Markets] Equifax settles case with woman who sued after a credit file mix-up allegedly ‘destroyed’ her family’s life A separate ‘mixed file’ case against Equifax went to trial and ended with a $18.6 million jury award.
Published:11/15/2019 12:07:42 PM
[Markets] This forecast predicts barely any growth in U.S. stocks next year — and a big drop if there’s a recession Financial markets are overvalued, according to an Oxford Economics forecast, so don’t expect much in the way of gains for stocks even if a recession is avoided. Published:11/15/2019 11:35:26 AM
[Markets] Libyan Official Urges New US Intervention After Russians Seen "On Front Lines" Libyan Official Urges New US Intervention After Russians Seen "On Front Lines"

A new report in Axios suggests that Russia has significantly increased its presence in war-torn Libya, perhaps seeking to clean up the mess left in the wake of the US-NATO led regime change war which toppled Muammar Gaddafi. 

This after a recent NY Times investigation found that at least 200 Russian mercenaries from Wagner Group have been in Libya supporting renegade General Khalifa Haftar's offensive against the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. 

Soldier allied to the UN-backed government in Tripoli deployed in Sirte, Libya, via Reuters. 

Eight years after Gaddafi's overthrow and brutal field execution at the hands of NATO-backed rebel Islamists, the oil and gas abundant country is still in the throes of grinding factional civil war. 

Interior Minister for Tripoli's GNA Fathi Bashagha told Axios the unfolding “proxy war” will doom the country to become “a haven for terrorists and extremists” unless the US steps in again.

However, the few times the Trump administration has weighed in on the continuing violence, it actually voiced support for Haftar and his Benghazi-based Libyan National Army (LNA), who are "securing the oil" - Trump said last April.

Al Jazeera screenshot of forces loyal to renegade General Khalifa Haftar fighting Libya’s UN-based government.

So ironically Washington and Moscow may currently be on the same side in terms of the major players in Libya; however, other powerful states like Turkey are giving active military support to the GNA in Tripoli. 

The UN-backed GNA has perceived growing Russian presence on the ground of late, per Axios:

Bashagha says he began to hear reports of Russian involvement over the summer, including from locals who described groups of light-skinned people “taking the roads through the desert.”

Bloomberg: "More than 100 mercenaries from the Wagner group headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as 'Putin’s chef' for his Kremlin catering contracts, arrived at a forward base in Libya in the first week of September to support eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar’s assault on the capital Tripoli."

“By August, they were on the front lines,” the Libyan Interior Minister continued. "The tactics used by Haftar’s forces drastically changed. The operations were becoming very professional.” He also alleged Russian snipers active in the battles, which have been “very effective and very harmful to our forces.”

Underscoring frustration at the confused mess which outside powers have added to in the developing proxy war, Bashagha added, “Ironically, the countries that support Haftar while he attacks a government that is internationally recognized are also allied with the United States.”

Tripoli-based Libyan Interior Minister (GNA) Fathi Bashagha, via Afrique Panorama

Addressing two Arab states currently providing heavy weapons to Haftar, he added: “We are hoping that the U.S. will help push against the UAE and Egypt, to stop their meddling in our country,” according to the Axios report.

“That American withdrawal made many regional countries have their proxy wars, their wars of interest on Libyan soil. And finally now it’s the Russians,” Bashagha said, though predictably (given his government is now in power) without recognizing it was American military intervention in the first place that's the root of Libya's continued chaos.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 12:15
Published:11/15/2019 11:35:26 AM
[Markets] The Ratings Game: Nvidia price targets get boost as analysts see ‘second phase’ of AI in chip maker’s recovery Nvidia Corp. shares slipped Friday, following a big rally over the past quarter after the chip maker forecast it was returning to revenue growth, and more than half the analysts who cover the company hiked price targets.
Published:11/15/2019 11:35:26 AM
[Markets] Wall Street Is Confused About Farming. If the Weather Improves, Investors Could Win. Bad weather and the trade war with China have analysts scratching their heads, but companies dependent on agricultural sales are still chugging ahead. Published:11/15/2019 11:06:45 AM
[Markets] Roger Stone found guilty of lying to Congress and witness tampering Roger Stone found guilty of lying to Congress and witness tampering Published:11/15/2019 11:06:45 AM
[Markets] Roger Stone Found Guilty Of Lying About 2016 Leaks Roger Stone Found Guilty Of Lying About 2016 Leaks

Longtime GOP operative and Trump associate Roger Stone was found guilty on seven counts related to lying about upcoming WikiLeaks releases during the 2016 US election, along with obstruction and witness tampering.

After a trial that spanned just over a week, a federal court jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Stone on five felony counts of lying to investigators, one of obstructing a congressional probe and one of witness tampering.

The charges against Stone were brought by Robert Mueller and handed off to career federal prosecutors in Washington after the special counsel’s Russia probe ended this spring. -Politico

The counts, via the Washington Examiner (January):

  • Count One alleges that Stone obstructed the House committee's investigation by denying he had emails and other documents about WikiLeaks-related contacts. During his House testimony, Stone was asked if he had "emails to anyone concerning the allegations of hacked documents ... or any discussions you have had with third parties about [WikiLeaks]?" Stone answered that he did not, when in fact he had a bunch of emails and other communications. The obstruction charge also alleges Stone attempted to prevent Credico from testifying or tried to convince him to testify falsely.

Counts two through six concern specific statements to the House committee. Count Two is based on Stone's assertion that he did not have emails.

  • Count Three alleges that Stone lied when he said that Credico was his only "go-between" to Assange, when in fact, Stone was also in contact with Corsi for that purpose. "At no time did Stone identify [Corsi] to [the House] as another individual Stone contacted to serve as a 'go-between,'" the indictment says.
  • Count Four alleges that Stone lied when he said he did not ask Credico to communicate anything to Assange, when in fact Stone asked both Credico and Corsi to get in touch with Assange "to pass on requests ... for documents Stone believed would be damaging to the Clinton campaign."
  • Count Five alleges that Stone lied when he told the House that he and Credico did not communicate via text message or email about WikiLeaks. Stone told the committee the two talked over the phone, when in fact, according to the indictment, "Stone and [Credico] ... engaged in frequent written communications by email and text message."
  • Count Six alleges that Stone lied when he testified that he had never discussed his conversations with Credico with anyone at the Trump campaign, when in fact, "Stone spoke to multiple individuals involved in the Trump campaign about what he claimed to have learned from his intermediary to [WikiLeaks]."
  • Count Seven is a witness tampering charge, alleging that Stone tried to convince Credico to take the Fifth or to lie to the House committee.

***

Developing...

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 11:54
Published:11/15/2019 11:06:45 AM
[Markets] Tax Guy: What is your capital gains tax rate? Good question — it can get confusing Tax Guy is here with answers.
Published:11/15/2019 11:06:45 AM
[Markets] GLOBAL MARKETS-U.S.-China trade hopes revive stocks, yields rise Global equities markets rose and safe-haven assets such as gold and government debt fell on Friday on renewed hopes that the United States and China will reach a deal to de-escalate their trade war helped boost risk appetite. The three major U.S. stock indexes opened higher and set fresh record highs while equity markets from Tokyo to the major bourses in Europe and across the Americas gained on remarks by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Thursday. Kudlow cited what he called very constructive talks with Beijing about ending a 16-month trade war during an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. Published:11/15/2019 10:36:32 AM
[Markets] Tom Lee: Like FAANG Stocks, Bitcoin Will Hit $25K Due To "Network Value" Tom Lee: Like FAANG Stocks, Bitcoin Will Hit $25K Due To "Network Value"

Authored by Marie Huillet via CoinTelegraph.com,

Fundstrat’s Tom Lee believes Bitcoin (BTC) will accrue price value following a similar logic to the Silicon Valley tech titans.

During an interview for CNBC’s Street Signs Asia on show on Nov. 15, Lee argued that cryptocurrencies “are network value assets” — and share this with the world’s most successful tech stocks.

image courtesy of CoinTelegraph

“Network value assets”

Lee — a renowned Bitcoin bull, co-founder and Wall Street strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors — made his argument when asked about the logic behind Fundstrat’s $25,000 by 2022 forecast for Bitcoin. 

Noting that the number was set in 2017 as part of a five-year forecast for the asset, he said he still think it’s “quite easy to achieve”:

“Cryptocurrencies are network value assets, meaning the more people hold the asset, the greater the value. In fact, it’s a log function — so if you double the users hold it, you get a quadrupling of value. To go to $25,000 you essentially need a little less than 4x rise, which means you need to double the number of people who hold Bitcoin.”

Lee said that Fundstrat estimates that roughly half a million people own and use Bitcoin so that you would need to hit a million users to get a $25,000 valuation.

Noting that this is essentially a utility function, Lee drew an analogy with the performance of FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) stocks since their public listing. He said:

“70% of their return [since public listing] is explained by the growth of the global internet in that period of time. In other words, it’s a LOG function of the internet’s growth, and that’s how cryptocurrencies are going to work.”

Institutional entrenchment

In terms of other factors, Lee said he was very bullish on Bitcoin in the long term, saying he thinks it’s now “still the earliest days for digital assets” and that over time they’ll become highly institutional and an established asset class. 

“Once we hit that it’s another hockey stick,” he said, somewhat disconcerting his interviewer with the metaphor.

In October, Lee argued that having made a big move at the start of 2019, Bitcoin now needs to consolidate its gains.

That same month, the strategist proposed that Bitcoin is positively correlated with the S&P 500 market index and is thus not a hedge against macro turmoil, as some argue.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 11:25
Published:11/15/2019 10:36:32 AM
[Markets] Top Ten: Weekend reads: What happens when Amazon comes to town Also, holiday gifts that pay off, and how the rise of private-market investing leaves little for the average investor.
Published:11/15/2019 10:36:32 AM
[Markets] Credit Suisse To Slash Investment Banker Bonuses Due To "Unsatisfactory" Performance Credit Suisse To Slash Investment Banker Bonuses Due To "Unsatisfactory" Performance

Back in the day, investment bankers had to decide: hand over a good 10-15 years of your life, working insane 110+ hour weeks in the office, but get paid very well in exchange, with the typical Ibanking associate and VP making anywhere between $300K-$750K in the late 20s, early 30s. Those days are long gone, and while the crazy hours remain, the pay has come down considerably in recent years. And for bankers at the second largest Swiss bank, Credit Suisse, it's about to come down again.

As Bloomberg reports, Credit Suisse expects to cut bonuses at its most lucrative (historically) investment banking and capital markets division and reallocate capital to higher growth areas after a continued slowdown in deal-making. According to "people familiar", the pay cuts are expected to happen even if fourth-quarter revenues rebound, which they probably won't. In fact, it is now expected that after several quarters of lackluster M&A activity, a drop in IPOs and weaker leveraged finance, the bank's best paying unit is expected to post its lowest result in years.

Credit Suisse paid out $3.2 billion in bonuses last year in total. Compensation and benefits for the first nine months were $75 million lower at the division compared to a year ago, according to the bank’s most recent quarterly report.

The bonus bloodbath was first hinted at several weeks ago, when CEO Tidjane Thiam called the division’s third-quarter performance "unsatisfactory." As Bloomberg adds, "the bank lost out this year as a string of deals collapsed or didn’t get off the ground, including the planned initial public offering of Swiss Re’s U.K.-based Reassure unit and Chevron Corp.’s abandoned bid for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Still, Credit Suisse retains a top 10 spot for M&A and is a global coordinator on Saudi Aramco’s IPO."

Another hint: the head of the bank's Ibanking/capital markets division, Jim Amine, stepped down earlier this month, taking the role as head of private credit opportunities based in New York.

Credit Suisse is hardly alone as bonuses across Wall Street are poised to drop again in 2019, according to a report Tuesday by compensation consultant Johnson Associates. A long-term perspective is even uglier, with a recent Bloomberg analysis indicating that compensation per employee is down as much as 61% at Goldman Sachs when adjusted for nominal wage growth in the period. Second after Goldman's precipitous drop - now that the bank is transforming into a retail bank with major credit card problems - was Credit Suisse Group at 46%. The group had an average reduction of 14%.

Those working at hedge funds and in private equity and investment banking advisory are likely to do better, with their bonuses potentially climbing 5%, according to the report.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 11:00
Published:11/15/2019 10:04:54 AM
[Markets] U.S. industrial output falls by most in 17 months in October Industrial output fell 0.8% in October, pushed lower by the GM strike, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. Published:11/15/2019 10:04:54 AM
[Markets] U.S. business inventories unchanged in September U.S. business inventories unchanged in September Published:11/15/2019 9:35:19 AM
[Markets] Hong Kong Protests Go Global: China Demands Investigation After Lam's Justice Minister Wounded In London Hong Kong Protests Go Global: China Demands Investigation After Lam's Justice Minister Wounded In London

Chinese officials slammed American lawmakers who are advancing a bill designed to protest Hong Kong's quasi-independent status guaranteed by the legal handover agreement between the British and the Chinese, but the US isn't the only major western power that's creating problems with the increasing dangerous situation in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's Justice Minister Teresa Cheng took a nasty tumble last night during a confrontation with pro-democracy sympathizers who came out to protest her presence in London.

Teresa Cheng

Late on Thursday, Cheng, who was in the UK to promote Hong Kong as a 'cener of dispute resolution' (ironic, we know), was suddenly surrounded by at least 30 protesters angry about her government's handling of the protests, which have devolved into violent confrontations with the police.

In a video of her minutes-long confrontation with the protesters obtained by SCMP, the demonstrators can be heard shouting "shame on you", "murderer" and protest slogans like "five demands, not one less."

It's not clear whether she was pushed, or fell over, but all of a sudden, the minister is seen writhing on the ground, clutching her arm. She was taken to a local hospital after her fall.

Afterwards, Cheng made a complaint to the Metropolitan Police and asked that they "take the case seriously and put the culprits to justice," according to a statement from her office. She also took a minute to shame the members of the mob that overwhelmed her in London: "The secretary for justice castigates the violent mob in London today causing her serious bodily harm on her way to an event venue."

The secretary also used the statement to denounce "all forms of violence".

"The secretary denounces all forms of violence and radicalism depriving others' legitimate rights in the pretext of pursuing their political ideals, which would never be in the interest of Hong Kong and any civilised society."

Meanwhile, in a terse statement about the incident, the Metropolitan police said "a woman was taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service suffering an injury to her arm." They added that "inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances. There has been no arrest at this stage.”

Which is unfortunate, because Beijing is demanding a full investigation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said Friday that China’s envoy to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, will visit Cheng. But Geng also warned British politicians not to make "wrong remarks" by expressing support for the protesters.

"China demands an investigation into the incident," Geng said. "[Britain] should also protect the safety and integrity of all Chinese people in the nation."

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's "Week of Rage" continued Thursday, with more white-collar workers who have been let off work opting to join the protests, after several police shootings and the second protester death in a week has inspired more support for the protesters.

Campuses had been transformed into citadels, reinforced positions where young protesters prepared to battle with the Hong Kong police or whatever government-backed goons may come.

In one video, explosions can be heard on the campus of Chinese University of Hong Kong, with video capturing a car on fire.

A government worker died this week after being caught in a brick-hurling fight between protesters and police. The death has been ruled a murder by the police. The incident has caused sympathy for an investigation into police conduct to soar: some 80% of Hong Kong adults want the government to set up an independent commission of inquiry to examine the use of force by police throughout the nearly six-month long period of unrest.

As Bloomberg reported, a campaign to disrupt traffic has led to the shooting of a protester and citywide school cancellations, while Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s government has denied reports of a plan for an unprecedented curfew that would almost certainly stoke the protesters' rage.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 10:20
Tags
Published:11/15/2019 9:35:19 AM
[Markets] The stock market heads to record heights even as the Trump impeachment hearings enter a new phase — here’s why The first public impeachment hearings are under way as the House attempts to build a case that President Donald Trump acted inappropriately in his dealings with the president of Ukraine, but the stock market has been largely ignoring the dealings that could potentially see the 45th president impeached. “For there to be any impact, there would have to be new information,” Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, told MarketWatch. Published:11/15/2019 9:35:19 AM
[Markets] Metals Stocks: Gold edges lower as trade deal hopes dent haven appeal Gold futures trade lower Friday, halting a rebound after upbeat comments on the outlook for a “phase one” trade deal between the U.S. and China robbed the metal of its haven appeal.
Published:11/15/2019 9:35:19 AM
[Markets] Trump planned to watch Nunes, then tune out Yovanovitch hearing: White House Trump planned to watch Nunes, then tune out Yovanovitch hearing: White House Published:11/15/2019 9:04:56 AM
[Markets] In Shock To $3.5 Trillion Healthcare Industry, Trump Admin Will Force Hospitals To Disclose "Secret" Insurance Rates In Shock To $3.5 Trillion Healthcare Industry, Trump Admin Will Force Hospitals To Disclose "Secret" Insurance Rates

In a move that will send shockwaves across the $3.5 trillion US healthcare industry, on Friday the Trump administration unveiled a plan that would - for the first time - force hospitals and insurers to disclose their secret negotiated rates, the WSJ reported.

In hopes of bringing some transparency and openness to a pathologically opaque industry, one which many have blamed for being behind the explosion in US underfunded liabilities to more than $100 trillion, administration officials said the final rule will compel hospitals in 2021 to publicize the rates they negotiate with individual insurers for all services, including drugs, supplies, facility fees and care by doctors who work for the facility. The White House would also propose extending the disclosure requirement to the $670 billion health-insurance industry. Insurance companies and group health plans that cover employees would have to disclose negotiated rates, as well as previously paid rates for out-of-network treatment, in computer-searchable file formats.

As the WSJ notes, the proposal covering insurers is the newest part of the price-disclosure initiative, and would include the private-employer market, where about 158 million people get their health insurance. Insurers and group health plans would have to put the negotiated rates into a file that third-party developers could incorporate into shopping tools. As with hospitals, insurers will have to create a web-based tool for beneficiaries that discloses the list price, the negotiated rate, cost sharing, and the amount left on a plan deductible, as well as allowable out-of-network rates.

The requirements, which are more far-reaching than industry leaders had expected, could upend commercial health-care markets, which are rife with purposefully complex systems of hidden charges and secret discounts which enable the fleecing of either end users or chronically  underfunded government healthcare programs. The price-disclosure initiative has become a cornerstone of the president’s 2020 re-election health strategy, despite threats of legal action from industry.

“Right now there is too much arbitrage in the system,” a senior administration official said in an interview Thursday with The Wall Street Journal. “There are a ton of vested interests who will oppose this. We expect to get sued. We’re really goring people’s oxes.”

Hospitals and insurers typically treat specific prices for medical services as closely held secrets, with contracts between the insurers and hospital systems generally bound by confidentiality agreements. Policy makers, employers and patients are often unable to see clearly which hospital systems and doctor practices are driving high costs.

Ironically just a few days ago we showed why "US Healthcare Costs Are Exploding", and the primary culprit was soaring insurance and medical care service fees. If there is one thing that could potentially put a dent in this exponential surge, it is the elimination of all the various secret price deals and arrangements.

Why is transaprency good? Because as studies have shown, consumers are often required to pay more out of pocket when they don’t have the price information they need to comparison shop. Employer health-plan deductibles are outpacing wage growth and have risen to an average $1,655 for a single plan, according to a September survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Workers on average pay $6,015 toward the cost of their coverage.

Taken together, the WSJ notes, "the price-disclosure initiatives could reshape the $3.5 trillion health-care industry."

The good news: the much needed transparency finally may bring some - literal - price discovery to what has traditionally been the most opaque, and lucrative, sector for the aging and chronically obese US population. The bad news: as Trump is going against trillions in vested interests, expect even more "whistleblowers" to emerge from the sector that has chronically been the biggest lobbyist of Washington...

... doing their best to bring the president down.

Meanwhile, as Americans lament soaring prices of, well, everything, after shelter and rent costs, the second biggest drain of US household income and savings is insurance premiums.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 09:43
Published:11/15/2019 9:04:55 AM
[Markets] Kissinger says failure to mend U.S.-China trade relations would be ‘worse than the world wars that ruined European civilization’ Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. Secretary of State and national-security adviser under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, had dire warnings about the inability of the U.S. and China to resolve their differences on international trade. Published:11/15/2019 9:04:55 AM
[Markets] Next Avenue: Fun jobs and volunteer posts with free perks for retirees Here are 4 ways you can get deals on travel, dining, and theater through seasonal, volunteer and part-time gigs
Published:11/15/2019 9:04:55 AM
[Markets] Stock-index futures point higher after retail sales beat Stock-index futures point to gains Friday, ahead of a read on last month’s U.S. retail sales, as investors continue in their efforts to assess the state of U.S.-China trade talks. Published:11/15/2019 8:35:41 AM
[Markets] U.S. industrial output's decline in October is sharpest in 17 months U.S. industrial output's decline in October is sharpest in 17 months Published:11/15/2019 8:35:41 AM
[Markets] US Industrial Production Plunges Most Since March 2009 US Industrial Production Plunges Most Since March 2009

After contracting YoY in September for the first time since President Trump was elected, analysts expected a further decline but October's 0.8% collapse in Industrial Production is the worst since March 2009...

Additionally, the year-over-year decline accelerated to -1.13%, the worst since Oct 2016...

Source: Bloomberg

Manufacturing output fell 0.6 percent in October to a level 1.5 percent lower than its year-earlier reading - the weakest since Dec 2015...

Source: Bloomberg

Mining output moved down 0.7 percent in October following a similarly sized decline in September, but the index for mining was still 2.7 percent higher than its year-earlier level. The output of utilities fell 2.6 percent in October; a decrease in the output of electricity more than offset an increase in the index for natural gas utilities.

And finally, The Dow INDUSTRIALS has entirely decoupled from INDUSTRIAL production in America...

Source: Bloomberg

Thank you Fed.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 09:22
Published:11/15/2019 8:35:41 AM
[Markets] Economic Report: U.S. industrial output falls by most in 17 months in October Industrial output fell 0.8% in October, pushed lower by the GM strike, the Federal Reserve reported Friday.
Published:11/15/2019 8:35:41 AM
[Markets] N.Y. Fed's regional factory index shows sluggishness persisting for sixth month N.Y. Fed's regional factory index shows sluggishness persisting for sixth month Published:11/15/2019 8:06:35 AM
[Markets] U.S. retail sales rebound in October, but a small group of stores reap most of the gains Sales at gas stations, car dealers and internet stores such as Amazon rose in October, but most other retailers posted weak results just before the start of the holiday shopping season. Retail sales increased 0.3% last month. Published:11/15/2019 8:06:35 AM
[Markets] Watch Live: Former Ukraine Ambassador Testifies About "Concerted Campaign" To Oust Her Watch Live: Former Ukraine Ambassador Testifies About "Concerted Campaign" To Oust Her

In part two of Democrats' impeachment hearing drama, the public will hear from former American Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post in the spring. Yovanovitch was removed from her post in the spring by the administration, and has been cast by Democrats as an honorable public servant sacked for tying to do the right thing.

As BBG reminds us, Yovanovitch testified in private on Oct. 11 that she felt she was recalled following a "concerted campaign" by President Trump and Rudy Giuliani. Because she left Ukraine in May, she clearly doesn't have any direct knowledge of Trump's efforts to elicit a quid pro quo - or as the Dems are now calling it, a bribe.

Yovanovitch testified that she felt "threatened" by the way Trump spoke about her on the July 25 call, which is at the center of the impeachment issue. Trump called her “bad news” and said “she’s going to go through some things.”

Watch her testimony live below (it's set to begin at 9 am ET):

Later, the committee will enter a closed-door session to hear from David Holmes, a staffer at the US embassy in Kyiv, about this week’s revelation that Trump allegedly asked envoy Gordon Sondland on July 26 about the status of certain "investigations" he sought from Ukraine into the Bidens.

We're still waiting on President Trump to release a transcript of an April congratulatory call with Zelensky, something he promised to do, but has yet to follow through on.

Fortunately, so far, the hearings have been a disaster for the Dems, with even the NYT criticizing them as dull and boring. In response, the Dems tried to spice things up ahead of toady's hearing by talking up the possibility of a bribery charge against Trump.

* * *

After two years of reporting on Ukraine issues, the Hill's John Solomon said that Yovanovitch could still be an important fact witness, and that if he had his druthers, he would ask her these fifteen questions.

1. Ambassador Yovanovitch, at any time while you served in Ukraine did any officials in Kiev ever express concern to you that President Trump might be withholding foreign aid assistance to get political investigations started? Did President Trump ever ask you as America’s top representative in Kiev to pressure Ukrainians to start an investigation about Burisma Holdings or the Bidens?

2. What was the Ukrainians’ perception of President Trump after he allowed lethal aid to go to Ukraine in 2018?

3.  In the spring and summer of 2019, did you ever become aware of any U.S. intelligence or U.S. treasury concerns raised about incoming Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and his affiliation or proximity to certain oligarchs? Did any of those concerns involve what the IMF might do if a certain oligarch who supported Zelensky returned to power and regained influence over Ukraine’s national bank?

4. Back in May 2018, then-House Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggesting you might have made comments unflattering or unsupportive of the president and should be recalled. Setting aside that Sessions is a Republican and might even have donors interested in Ukraine policy, were you ever questioned about his concerns? At any time have you or your embassy staff made comments that could be viewed as unsupportive or critical of President Trump and his policies?

5. John Solomon reported at The Hill and your colleagues have since confirmed in testimony that the State Department helped fund a nonprofit called the Anti-Corruption Action Centre of Ukraine that also was funded by George Soros’ main charity. That nonprofit, also known as AnTac, was identified in a 2014 Soros foundation strategy document as critical to reshaping Ukraine to Mr. Soros’ vision. Can you explain what role your embassy played in funding this group and why State funds would flow to it? And did any one consider the perception of mingling tax dollars with those donated by Soros, a liberal ideologue who spent millions in 2016 trying to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump?

6. In March 2019, Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko gave an on-the-record, videotaped interview to The Hill alleging that during a 2016 meeting you discussed a list of names of Ukrainian nationals and groups you did not want to see Ukrainian prosecutors target. Your supporters have since suggested he recanted that story. Did you or your staff ever do anything to confirm he had recanted or changed his story, such as talk to him, or did you just rely on press reports?

7. Now that both the New York Times and The Hill have confirmed that Lutsenko stands by his account and has not recanted, how do you respond to his concerns? And setting aide the use of the word “list,” is it possible that during that 2016 meeting with Mr. Lutsenko you discussed the names of certain Ukrainians you did not want to see prosecuted, investigated or harassed?

8. Your colleagues, in particular Mr. George Kent, have confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that the U.S. embassy in Kiev did, in fact, exert pressure on the Ukrainian prosecutors office not to prosecute certain Ukrainian activists and officials. These efforts included a letter Mr. Kent signed urging Ukrainian prosecutors to back off an investigation of the aforementioned group AnTac as well as engaged in conversations about certain Ukrainians like Parliamentary member Sergey Leschenko, journalist Vitali Shabunin and NABU director Artem Sytnyk. Why was the US. Embassy involved in exerting such pressure and did any of these actions run afoul of the Geneva Convention’s requirement that foreign diplomats avoid becoming involved in the internal affairs of their host country?

9. On March 5 of this year, you gave a speech in which you called for the replacement of Ukraine’s top anti-corruption prosecutor. That speech occurred in the middle of the Ukrainian presidential election and obviously raised concerns among some Ukrainians of internal interference prohibited by the Geneva Convention. In fact, one of your bosses, Under Secretary David Hale, got questioned about those concerns when he arrived in country a few days later. Why did you think it was appropriate to give advice to Ukrainians on an internal personnel matter and did you consider then or now the potential concerns your comments might raise about meddling in the Ukrainian election or the country’s internal affairs?

10. If the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States suddenly urged us to fire Attorney General Bill Bar or our FBI director, would you think that was appropriate?

11. At any time since December 2015, did you or your embassy ever have any contact with Vice President Joe Biden, his office or his son Hunter Biden concerning Burisma Holdings or an investigation into its owner Mykola Zlochevsky?

12. At any time since you were appointed ambassador to Ukraine, did you or your embassy have any contact with the following Burisma figures: Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, lawyer John Buretta, Blue Star strategies representatives Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, or former Ukrainian embassy official Andrii Telizhenko?

13. John Solomon obtained documents showing Burisma representatives were pressuring the State Department in February 2016 to help end the corruption allegations against the company and were invoking Hunter Biden’s name as part of their effort. Did you ever subsequently learn of these contacts and did any one at State — including but not limited to Secretary Kerry, Undersecretary Novelli, Deputy Secretary Blinken or Assistant Secretary Nuland — ever raise Burisma with you?

14. What was your embassy’s assessment of the corruption allegations around Burisma and why the company may have hired Hunter Biden as a board member in 2014?

15. In spring 2019 your embassy reportedly began monitoring briefly the social media communications of certain people viewed as supportive of President Trump and gathering analytics about them. Who were those people? Why was this done? Why did it stop? And did anyone in the State Department chain of command ever suggest targeting Americans with State resources might be improper or illegal?

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 08:55
Tags
Published:11/15/2019 8:06:35 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Seeing America again through new eyes In 2011, at 50, I took early retirement from my job as an air-traffic controller, left Texas and began traveling the world.
Published:11/15/2019 8:06:35 AM
[Markets] Apple's stock gains after analysts boost price targets Shares of Apple Inc. rose 0.4% in premarket trading Friday, after analyst Daniel Ives at Wedbush raised his price target, citing expectations of strong growth in iPhone sales. Ives reiterated his outperform rating but raised his stock price target to $325, which is now the highest of the 43 analysts surveyed by FactSet, from $300. He wrote in a note to clients that he believes Apple is "still in the midst of a renaissance of iPhone growth heading into 2020 that will further catalyze the stock higher as it gets re-rated from the Street." Separately, J.P. Morgan's Samik Chatterjee at J.P. Morgan raised his price target to $290 from $280, citing optimism over the technology giant's opportunities in advertising. "While investors are trying to identify the next big frontier for services, we believe hidden in plain sight and underappreciated by most is the advertising opportunity within Apple's fingertips, given the secular migration of advertising dollars to mobile platforms, the large installed base of close to [1 billion] iPhone users, and importantly, Apple's successful exploration of advertising to-date," Chatterjee wrote in a research note. Apple's stock has soared 66.5% year to date through Thursday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 19.1%. Published:11/15/2019 7:35:08 AM
[Markets] Futures Movers: Oil on track for weekly loss on expectations for ample supply Oil futures edge lower Friday, on track for a weekly loss, as traders focus on signs of ample crude supply.
Published:11/15/2019 7:35:08 AM
[Markets] Apple shares on the rise after analysts boost price targets Apple shares on the rise after analysts boost price targets Published:11/15/2019 7:35:08 AM
[Markets] Bridgewater's Ray Dalio Warns Of US-China Capital War  Bridgewater's Ray Dalio Warns Of US-China Capital War 

On Thursday evening, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUSCR) held a black-tie Gala Dinner at the Grand Hyatt NYC honoring Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio, who warned that relations between the U.S. and China could significantly worsen from here, first reported by Bloomberg

"There is a trade war, there is a technology war, there is a geopolitical war, and there could be a capital war. How that is approached is going to determine our futures. I hope that it is done with mutual understanding instead of wars -- a win-win relationship rather than a lose-lose relationship," Dalio told the audience. 

During the event, NCUSCR tweeted out several key quotes from Dalio's speech:

Dalio's comments come at a time when the Trump administration is restricting capital flows between China and the U.S. 

U.S. lawmakers are pressuring pension and investment funds to discontinue investments in China because it undermines national security and contributes to China's economy.

There was even a recent report that the Nasdaq is cracking down on Chinese IPOs of small companies. 

The trade war is metamorphosing into a capital war Dalio said during the speech. 

The U.S. and China have fallen into Thucydides Trap, one where the U.S., the status quo power of the world, is being challenged by the rising power of the world, China. The trade war is much more than trade and blue-collar workers in the U.S.' Rust Belt, it's about empire and how China has the ability by 2030 to displace the U.S. as the global superpower. 

Also at the event, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told the audience: "There may not be a complete agreement. What is imperative is that both countries understand that a permanent conflict between them cannot be won. There will be a catastrophic outcome if it leads to permanent conflict." 

That "catastrophic outcome" Kissinger speaks of is a shooting war. And it should now make sense why President Trump is spending record amounts of money on the military, boosting fifth-generation fighter jet output and hypersonic weapons development, that is because the preparation for war is well underway. 

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 08:20
Tags
Published:11/15/2019 7:35:08 AM
[Markets] S&P Futures Soar Above 3,100 On Trade Deal Optimism S&P Futures Soar Above 3,100 On Trade Deal Optimism

After several days without soothing trade deal commentary by Trump et al, US-China trade deal "optimism" stormed back on Thursday evening after upbeat trade deal comments from Trump's top economic advisor Larry Kudlow sent US equity futures, European bourses and Asian markets higher, even as the escalating wave of global protests from Hong Kong to Chile hints that it will all end in tears and guillotines.

US equity futures rose to a new all time high above 3,100, with E-mini S&P and Nasdaq futures rising +0.3% and +0.4%, respectively..

... while Europe’s main bourses followed Asia and Wall Street higher after White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said on Thursday that the U.S. and China were getting close to an agreement and were talking every day.

We’re getting close,” he told an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. “The mood music is pretty good, and that has not always been so in these things.” This sentiment was echoed by Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross on Friday morning who told Fox Business that the trade deal will be done in "all likelihood."

The comments kept alive hopes that MSCI’s 49-country world index and Europe’s STOXX 600 could both avoid their first weekly falls since the start of October, but others had little chance.  Europe's Stoxx 600 Index fluctuated as the prospect of a money laundering scandal widening weighed on bank shares; the index was up as much as 0.6% before dipping into negative territory in late morning trading only to erase the drop of as much as 0.2% to trade little changed with tech shares, miners and chemical companies the best performers, while personal-and-household goods shares and banks were the worst.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks advanced led by technology firms, as optimism grew for Beijing and Washington to close an initial trade deal. Most markets in the region were up, with South Korea and Australia leading gains. The Topix climbed 0.7%, recovering from its biggest two-day decline in six weeks, as electronic companies offered strong support. However, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.6%, a fresh three month low, dragged down by PetroChina and Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine. Chinese blue-chip shares ended the day down 0.75% and 2.4%, their biggest fall since August. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed little changed to cap its worst week since early August, down 4.7%, as protesters continued to block roads in the city. India’s Sensex rose, heading for a third week of gains, amid hopes that borrowing costs will drop further.

Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital in Sydney, likened regional markets’ bullish reaction to positive trade news to being in a relationship with an alcoholic, driven by entrenched hopes for recovery.

“Markets want to believe that there will be some sort of resolution to this issue, some sort of lasting truce at least, even though the experience of the last 18 months doesn’t give a lot of cause for comfort,” he said. However, Oliver said weaker Chinese and U.S. economies as well as the U.S. presidential election next year put pressure on both sides to come to an agreement

In rates, higher U.S. Treasury yields also illustrated the risk-on tone in the Asian session, with the 10-year yield rising to 1.848% from a US close of 1.815% on Thursday. The two-year yield rose to 1.6101% from 1.593% on Thursday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the risk of the U.S. economy facing a dramatic bust is remote. Borrowing costs also inched up in Germany and France on Friday, but were set for sizeable weekly declines, in contrast to southern European countries that have come under heavy selling pressure again this week. Germany’s 10-year Bund yield was at -0.33% off more than one-week lows hit on Thursday. But it is down 8 bps on the week, set for the biggest weekly fall since mid-August. Dutch 10-year bond yields are down 7 bps this week, and French yields are 5 bps lower,.

Data on Thursday had showed Germany’s economy grew just 0.1% in the third quarter, with consumer spending helping the country to avoid a mild contraction and a technical recession of two quarters of economic shrinkage. “In general, there has been risk aversion in recent days and a shift to core bond markets from the periphery,” said Daniel Lenz, a rates strategist at DZ Bank.

In geopolitics, North Korea government reportedly warned South Korea of a last chance to remove their facilities before they demolish joint resort buildings near the border. Elsewhere, Turkish Vice President says Faith Drilling Ship has commenced operations off the coast of Northern Cyprus.

In commodity markets, crude prices rebounded after sliding Thursday on rising U.S. crude inventories. WTI crude was 0.44% higher at $57.02 a barrel, while Brent crude added 0.37% to $62.51 per barrel. Gold retreated from gains that had been prompted by trade uncertainty. Spot gold was last trading at $1,463.90 per ounce, down 0.48%.

In FX, the safe-haven yen weakened, with the dollar rising 0.17% to buy 108.57 yen; the USD/JPY gained for the first time in six days, advancing on demand from fast money accounts after Kudlow’s comments. The euro was barely changed at $1.1023 while exporters bought the Australian and New Zealand dollars following Kudlow's remarks. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals was off just 0.02% at 98.143.  Fierce anti-government protests in Chile gave its currency its worst week since 2011 with a 7% plunge.

Expected data include retail sales and industrial production. J.C. Penney is set to report results

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 3,106.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 405.98
  • MXAP up 0.5% to 164.30
  • MXAPJ up 0.5% to 524.48
  • Nikkei up 0.7% to 23,303.32
  • Topix up 0.7% to 1,696.67
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.01% to 26,326.66
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.6% to 2,891.34
  • Sensex up 0.3% to 40,424.28
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.9% to 6,793.72
  • Kospi up 1.1% to 2,162.18
  • German 10Y yield rose 1.1 bps to -0.34%
  • Euro down 0.05% to $1.1016
  • Italian 10Y yield rose 7.9 bps to 0.977%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 0.5 bps to 0.452%
  • Brent futures down 0.8% to $61.77/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.5% to $1,464.02
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 98.20

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said negotiations over the first phase of a trade agreement with China were coming down to the final stages, with the two sides in close contact
  • Germany will maintain its disciplined approach to spending as lawmakers look set to confirm the government’s balanced budget for 2020, despite calls for fiscal stimulus to boost the country’s slowing economy
  • Global oil markets are likely to remain “calm” next year as soaring production outside OPEC and high inventories keep consumers comfortably supplied, the International Energy Agency said
  • Hong Kong revised down its estimate for economic growth this year as political unrest grips the city, with the government now forecasting the first annual contraction since the global financial crisis a decade ago
  • China lifted its four-year-old ban on U.S. poultry shipments, a small sign of trade-deal progress at a time when agriculture purchases have become a sticking point in negotiations
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping called an end to violence Hong Kong’s “most urgent task,” as a scuffle involving the city’s justice minister and the second protest-related death in a week heightened tensions in the paralyzed financial center
  • Boris Johnson made a pitch for votes in “overlooked” towns with a promise to revive high streets through tax breaks for local businesses and reopening provincial railway lines, while the main opposition Labour Party pledged to roll out free full-fiber broadband for all with a plan that includes nationalization of BT Group Plc’s Openreach unit
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says short-term interest rates are back under control. Not everyone’s convinced with evidence traders expect pressure to build in the weeks ahead
  • Reserve Bank of New Zealand Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby said February is a “live” interest-rate decision but there would need to be a material change in the economic outlook to warrant a rate cut

Asia equity markets traded mostly higher as sentiment remained at the whim of the temperamental trade rhetoric with risk appetite spurred after White House Economic Adviser Kudlow suggested they are getting close to an agreement and the sides were on the short strokes of a phase 1 deal, and although Kudlow noted US President Trump was not yet ready to sign off, his comments were at a sharp contrast to prior reports the trade teams were struggling to complete a deal. ASX 200 (+0.9%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.7%) are positive with Australia underpinned by the recent increase in rate cut bets after chances for a cut next month more than doubled to 29% according to ASX 30-Day Interbank Cash Rate Futures and with its implied yield curve heavily leaning towards a cut at the subsequent meeting in February, while a deluge of earnings has been a key driver in Japan alongside tailwinds from a weaker currency. Hang Seng (U/C) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.6%) were mixed as Hong Kong attempted some composure from this week’s protest-triggered declines, although the mainland was somewhat unconvinced by the conflicting trade headlines, as well as the PBoC’s tepid actions in which it skipped reverse repos and instead opted for its medium-term lending facility, albeit at half the amount of the prior operation. Finally, 10yr JGBs were choppy as they initially extended above the 153.00 level although prices then reversed from intraday highs amid the positive risk tone and after a relatively light BoJ Rinban operation for just JPY 130bln in longer-dated JGBs.

Top Asian News

  • Hong Kong Poll Shows 80% Supports Setting Up Independent Inquiry
  • IHH’s Fortis Takeover Halted After Contempt of Court Ruling
  • Arcelor Wins Approval to Complete $5.8 Billion Essar Deal

Major European Bourses (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.5%) are modestly in the green, albeit off highs amid tailwinds from encouraging US/China trade comments from White House Economic Advisor Kudlow overnight, albeit upside may be capped by earlier FT reports that China’s stance is jeopardising chances of a final Phase One agreement being reached in the coming days. DAX Dec’ 19 futures for now sit well within this week’s range, appearing bound by 13140-13300 parameters for now. The sector performance table is reflective of the markets tentative risk-on tone; Materials (+0.6%) and Tech (+0.6%) lead the way, while Utilities (+0.1%) and Consumer Staples (-0.2%) lag. Energy (-0.2%) is lower and weighed by lower crude prices. In terms of stock specific news; Whitbread (+2.9%) is the top Stoxx 600 gainer, buoyed by an upgrade to overweight from equalweight at Barclays. Closely behind is Subsea 7 (+4.0%), higher on the news of a potential merger agreement with Saipem (+1.3%). Elsewhere, Orange (+2.1%) is on the front foot on reports that the Co. intend to split its mobile towers into a separate company to capitalise on investor interest, boosting its valuation by up to EUR 10bln. ArcelorMittal (+1.4%), meanwhile, is firmer on the news that is has secured approval from the highest Indian court regarding the completion of the Essar Steel takeover for USD 5.8bln. In terms of the laggards; Elekta (-13.2%) sunk after a downgrade at SEB Enskilda. Similarly, Uniper (-1.6%) was pressured by a downgrade at SocGen. BT (-2.4%), meanwhile, managed to pare the worst of early losses, triggered by jitters over UK Opposition Labour Party proposals to nationalise the company as part of a push to provide free full-fibre broadband to the whole of the UK.

Top European News

  • SEB Bank Falls Most in a Decade Amid Money Laundering Report
  • EU Bank Takes ‘Quantum Leap’ to End Fossil-Fuel Financing
  • German Stimulus Craved by ECB Probably Hinges on Job Losses
  • Germany Sticks to Debt-Free Budget Despite Calls for Stimulus

In FX, trade developments set the stage for the European session thus far as participants balance mixed newsflow, with sources cited by the FT noting that China is jeopardising chances of an imminent Phase One deal whilst NEC Director Kudlow stated that the two sides are ever closer to an accord. Nonetheless, DXY remains contained within a tight band thus far (98.12-23), albeit closer to the top of the range and in anticipation of further clarification. The Yuan meanwhile has derived modest impetus on the back of Kudlow, which saw USD/CNH retest 7.000 to the downside overnight, but the pair has drifted off lows and almost back to pre-Kudlow levels with participants sceptical amid conflicting reports.

  • AUD, NZD, CAD - The high-beta currencies have unwound some of its Kudlow-induced APAC gains in which the Aussie climbed to a whisker away from 0.6800 vs. the Buck, whilst its Kiwi counterpart edged towards 0.6400 before fading gains. The antipodeans meander just below the respective round figures but have drifted lower in recent trade as the Buck prints fresh session highs and again the currencies await clarity on the status of US-Sino talks. The Loonie meanwhile saw a more pronounced move overnight amid the risk-driven pop higher in the crude complex in which USD/CAD tested 1.3220 to the downside (ahead of its 50 DMA at 1.3208) before advancing back up towards the half-figure in early European trade with around USD 1.2bln of options expiring between strikes 1.3240-50.
  • CHF, JPY – Despite the pull-back in high-betas, the overnight softness in the safe haven FX has persisted, although more-so as the Greenback gains traction in early trade with USD/JPY eclipsing its APAC high of 108.62 with the next level to the upside the round 109.00 which coincides with its 200 DMA. The Franc meanwhile has reclaimed 0.99+ status against the Buck and resides near the top of the range alongside its JPY counterpart with the next level to the upside its 50 DMA at 0.9923.
  • EUR, GBP - Sterling remains little moved on the day amid a lack of fresh catalysts on the UK election front and with little action derived by news that the European Commission has opened a legal case against the UK for failing to name a new EU Commissioner as its hands are tied by the general election. Cable remains modestly softer within a 1.2868-86 band, albeit closer to the bottom of the range and at the whim of the USD. Meanwhile, EUR/USD remains flat intraday and closer to the bottom of today’s 1.1030-15 band as in-line final EZ CPI figures unsurprisingly did little to excite traders. It’s worth noting a hefty EUR 1.2bln expiring at strike 1.1000 at today’s NY cut which may see a gravitation of price depending on news-flow.

In commodities, Crude markets are lower during early Friday trade after unwinding gains from the positive US/China trade comments from White House Economic Advisor Kudlow since the arrival of European participants as traders balance hot and cold trade news. Brent Jan’ 19 futures have now fallen below support in the form of yesterday’s USD 62.15/bbl low, with WTI Dec’ 19 futures following and also breaking below yesterday’s low at USD 56.64/bbl. In terms of crude specific news; in its monthly oil report, the IEA maintained its forecast for oil demand growth for 2019 and 2020, at 1mln BPD and 1.2mln BPD respectively. Moreover, the report highlighted that Global oil supply rose 1.5mln BPD in October as Saudi Arabian production returned to normal and on increases from Norway, Canada and the US. Meanwhile, OPEC crude oil production was 29.9mln BPD at 101 mln BPD, with world oil supply was 1.2 mb/d below year-ago levels with OPEC down 2.5 mln BPD. As a reminder, yesterday OPEC also maintained its forecast for global oil demand growth for 2019 and 2020 at at 980k BPD for 2019 and 1.08mln BPD for 2020. Earlier in the week, the US EIA cut its forecast for 2019 oil demand growth 90k BPD to a 750k BPD increase but raised its 2020 forecast by 70k BPD to an increase of 1.37mln BPD. Looking ahead, US Retail Sales, NY Fed Manufacturing, Industrial Production and Import Prices populate an otherwise modest data docket, while traders will as always have their ears to the ground for further US/China trade updates. In terms of the metals; Gold is on the back foot amid the market’s lukewarm risk tone and a stronger Dollar and is consolidating around the USD 1465/oz mark. Meanwhile, Copper, which has been on the back foot in recent days, appears to be have stabilised, with support at the USD 2.615/lbs level (23 October and yesterday’s lows) providing a floor for the time being.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Retail Sales Ex Auto and Gas, est. 0.3%, prior 0.0%; Retail Sales Ex Auto MoM, est. 0.4%, prior -0.1%
  • 8:30am: Empire Manufacturing, est. 6, prior 4
  • 8:30am: Import Price Index ex Petroleum MoM, est. 0.0%, prior -0.1%; Import Price Index YoY, est. -2.2%, prior -1.6%
  • 8:30am: Export Price Index MoM, est. -0.1%, prior -0.2%; Export Price Index YoY, prior -1.6%
  • 9:15am: Industrial Production MoM, est. -0.4%, prior -0.4%; Manufacturing (SIC) Production, est. -0.7%, prior -0.5%
  • 10am: Business Inventories, est. 0.1%, prior 0.0%

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Until I acquired a dog and three kids in the last 5 years it’s fair to say that emotional responses weren’t a big part of my life. Nowadays though, my eyes well up when I hear about dogs that get lost or mistreated, children that get hurt or upset, and other such sad news. Yesterday I even had to fight back the tears when I saw the annual institution that is the John Lewis Xmas advert. Every year our biggest department store in the U.K. issues a heartstrings tugging song and story about Xmas. This year’s (spoiler alert) is about an ugly baby dragon who gets hounded out of town for not being able to control his fire breathing tendencies (he accidentally melted the town’s ice rink for one). He was very sad and locked himself away to hide until a young girl takes pity on him and tries to befriend him and gets him to come back. He eventually does and becomes a hero by lighting the town’s Xmas pudding. The little girl was thrilled. Yes this made me shed a tear. Or maybe that was the REO Speedwagon cover for the soundtrack.

Maybe for next month’s survey I’ll add a question asking for your favourite Xmas song. On that a reminder that we published our first monthly survey (link here ) yesterday with 700 responses. So many thanks. The interesting highlights were that those replying were more optimistic on the S&P 500 over 3 months than 12 months with 54% expecting it to be higher in the former period against 40% over 12 months. Perhaps the fact that 96% of those in the US thought a Warren Presidential win would be negative for the S&P 500 helped that. 79% of US respondents thought Donald Trump would win the 2020 US election though. Also only 21% thought the global economy was improving (44% deteriorating)in spite of the fact that only 14% thought that the trade war would re-escalate from here. 54% thought the US recession risk was 30% or below over the next 12 months with only 14% scoring it above 60%. There was a bias for higher German yields but lower US yields and a higher EURUSD. There were only 5% who thought European inflation would be over 2% in the next 3-5 years. Less than 1% thought the Labour Party would win an outright majority in next month’s UK election. These are the brief highlights. See the full survey for much more.

We also published a new Corporate Tax note aimed at our Corporate Clients where we highlighted the contrast between precarious state finances and healthy company balance sheets. The headline tax rates they pay have almost halved in rich countries over the last three decades. The conditions appear set for an inflection point over the medium term. Politicians with higher corporate taxes in their sights are gaining in popularity – Elizabeth Warren in the US is just one example. Meanwhile, the incoming President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, says she will target firms that “play our tax system.” Also key will be the OECD’s proposals for global tax coordination which it aims to have approved in 2020. They include calls for a minimum corporate tax rate and will lower the incentive for countries to ‘compete’ with each other on corporate tax rates. As a result, it will become easier, both politically and practically, for countries to raise corporate taxes without having to worry about scaring away future investment. Please see the link here for more details.

Turning to yesterday’s market action now. The biggest catalyst was once again the trade war. Shortly after the EMR went to print yesterday, China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said that “China has stated that the trade war has begun with tariffs and should end with removing tariffs. To remove existing additional tariffs is an important condition for reaching a deal.” This encouraged the belief that China’s negotiating stance is for a rollback of existing tariffs, rather than just a delay of pending ones. If agreed, this would presumably be a more positive outcome for markets, but it will also be harder to finalise. Nevertheless, late US session breaking headlines suggested that the two countries held a deputy-level call yesterday, which ended up boosting risk assets into the New York close.

After the US close, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said of trade negotiations with China that, “We are in communication with them every single day right now,” while adding, “we are coming down to the short strokes,” and a deal is “close” but “it’s not done yet”. However, late yesterday evening the FT carried a report saying that getting the “Phase One” agreement across the line remains difficult as China has still not offered enough concessions on “stronger language” on intellectual property and forced technology transfer while is also refraining from agreeing to written numerical targets for a planned ramp-up in purchases of US agricultural products. The article suggests that this makes it difficult for the US to justify a rollback in tariffs on Chinese goods. Similarly, Bloomberg also ran a story saying that a US demand that China spell out how it plans to reach as much as $50 bn in agricultural imports annually has been one sticking point. The report further added that the US officials have proposed that China provide them with monthly, quarterly and annual targets for purchases. Bloomberg also reported that China has also taken actions that could signal imports of US farm goods are in jeopardy if talks sour as it is now delaying the unloading of US soybeans at its ports which could slow down further purchases. So it seems like there are still matters yet to be resolved.

In other news, the PBoC offered CNY 200bn of one-year loans to banks today while keeping the interest rate unchanged at 3.25%. The addition of liquidity comes after weaker than expected economic data released yesterday. The PBoC said along with the injection that liquidity in the banking system is at a “reasonable, sufficient” level as the operation offsets companies’ need for funding to pay tax. Meanwhile an additional CNY 40bn also got released into banks today as a previously-announced reduction to banks’ reserve ratios by the PBoC came into effect.

Asian markets are trading largely higher this morning with the Nikkei (+0.74%), Hang Seng (+0.26%) and Kospi (+0.82%) all up while the Shanghai Comp (-0.12%) is down. The Japanese yen is -0.16% this morning while the onshore Chinese yuan is up +0.17% to 7.0086. Elsewhere, futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.35% while yields on 10y USTs are up +2.5bps after a big rally yesterday (see below).

Before all this the S&P (+0.09%%) finished near the highs for the session and inched to a new record high, though the NASDAQ (-0.04%) and the DOW (-0.01%) declined. All the indices were well off their earlier lows of as much as -0.45% though. Trade-sensitive stocks underperformed, with the Philadelphia semiconductor index down -0.30%, and the S&P 500 autos index down -0.67%. Europe missed out on the late rally, with the STOXX 600 ending the session down -0.36%. Some additional cheer was provided by Walmart, America’s largest employer, whose earnings beat expectations with adjusted EPS of $1.16 (vs. $1.09 expected). Oil prices had been trading up +1.17% but higher-than-expected US inventories data sparked a reversal with it ending -0.40%.

There was a broad flight to safety yesterday, with 10yr Treasuries -6.7bps to 1.819bps, their third consecutive rally, while 10yr bunds (-5.1bps), OATs (-3.6bps) and gilts (-5.1bps) also made gains. Other safe havens also benefited, with gold +0.51% rising for a third successive day, while the Japanese Yen (+0.37%) and the Swiss Franc (+0.15%) were up against the US dollar. Sovereign bonds in the periphery sold off however, with Italy seeing the most dramatic moves as yields rose +8.0bps and the spread over bunds increased +13.1bps, both reaching their highest levels since August. This was a theme across the periphery yesterday, with sovereign debt in Spain, Portugal and Greece all losing ground.

Meanwhile, Fed Chair Powell testified again to Congress, but he stuck diligently to his recent message and most of the focus was instead on the cascade of other Fed speakers yesterday. Evans, Kaplan, Evans, Bullard, Williams, and Clarida all spoke. They were mostly consistent with what we have heard before, but our economists noted that there is now an apparent divergence between the core leadership of the committee (Powell, Clarida, Williams), and some of the regional presidents. The leadership have emphasised weak inflation and downside risks, while many regional presidents have resisted rate cuts, and some only endorsed them on the condition that Powell also send a hawkish signal at the press conference. The fact that they still cut rates indicates that a) Powell and the leadership was able to convince the committee to go along with his preference, and b) Powell’s hawkish-leaning press conference likely overstates his own views, which are in fact probably more dovish.

In Europe, data showed the German economy avoided a technical recession in Q3, with an unexpectedly positive +0.1% GDP reading (vs. -0.1% contraction expected), following the -0.2% contraction in Q2. This echoes some other positive surprises from recent German manufacturing data recently, such as September’s better-than-expected factory orders out last week. The fact that the economy didn’t fall into recession means that the pressure for German fiscal stimulus is likely to diminish further for now, and finance minister Olaf Scholz said yesterday at a Bloomberg News event that there wasn’t a reason for doing fiscal stimulus because the German economy wasn’t in a crisis.

Elsewhere in Europe, Q3 GDP data from the Netherlands also surprised to the upside, with a +0.4% expansion (vs. +0.3% expected) and in terms of the Euro Area as a whole, data confirmed the initial estimate that the economy grew by +0.2% in Q3, with the year-on-year reading revised up a tenth from the initial estimate to +1.2%.

Wrapping up the rest of the data, UK retail sales fell -0.1% (vs. +0.2% expected), while US initial jobless claims rose to 225k (vs. 215k expected), their highest level since June but perhaps partly influenced by recent Californian fires. The 4-week moving average rose to 217k, its highest level since July. Finally, US PPI rose by +0.4% (vs. +0.3% expected) in October, with the core measure rising +0.3% (vs. 0.2% expected), which nevertheless failed to arrest the decline in yields. There was some chatter about healthcare costs starting to consistently overshoot now as opposed to the opposite in recent years.

Here in the UK the Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage didn’t back down from his stance of putting forward a candidate in every Labour-held seat. While he’s said the Brexit party won’t stand in the seats the Conservatives won at the last election, this means that they will still be standing in the seats the Conservatives need to win from Labour in order to win an overall majority in Parliament.

Staying with politics, in the US presidential race the Democratic primary field got another candidate yesterday with the entrance of Deval Patrick, a former governor of Massachusetts. It comes ahead of today’s deadline to file for the New Hampshire primary, which is the second state to hold its primary after Iowa. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she thinks a finalised deal on the new NAFTA, named USMCA, is “imminent” and suggested it could pass before year-end.

Finally in Chile, the peso fell -0.88% to another record low against the dollar yesterday, as the currency fell for a 6th successive session amidst widespread unrest that has seen the government supporting a rewrite of the country’s constitution. The move brings the Peso’s losses to -6.55% this week so far. The central bank did announce a $4bn swap program that will continue until January 9 the previous evening, but this failed to stem the decline. Meanwhile, the central bank said overnight that it is widening the list of eligible collateral on repo operations and is also increasing the frequency of FX swap auctions while also suspending sales of short-term PDBC bills at least until December 8.

To the day ahead now, data releases from Europe include the final October CPI and core CPI readings for the Euro Area, as well as Italy’s final October CPI reading. From the US, we have the November Empire State manufacturing survey, along with October’s retail sales, industrial production and capacity utilisation. From central banks, the ECB’s Mersch, Weidmann and Costa will be speaking today.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 07:52
Published:11/15/2019 7:07:19 AM
[Markets] Dean Foods decline has more to do with water than oat milk The dairy industry is losing sales to bottled water, experts say.
Published:11/15/2019 7:07:19 AM
[Markets] Need to Know: This forecast predicts barely any growth in U.S. stocks next year — and a big drop if there’s a recession Financial markets are overvalued, according to an Oxford Economics forecast, so don’t expect much in the way of gains for stocks even if a recession is avoided.
Published:11/15/2019 6:37:16 AM
[Markets] "Bad Blood" - Taylor Swift Targets Private Equity Giant Carlyle Group In Latest Feud "Bad Blood" - Taylor Swift Targets Private Equity Giant Carlyle Group In Latest Feud

Taylor Swift, the pop megastar who once used a WSJ editorial to cow Spotify and the major music-publishing houses, has set her sights - and her fans - on a new corporate villain: The private-equity industry.

In a statement tweeted by the popstar Thursday night, Swift excoriated Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta and music manager Scooter Braun, the owners of the masters to her first six albums, for trying to stop her from performing her own music. Swift said that she would be honored as the "artist of the decade" by the American Music Awards, and that she had been planning to perform a medley of her hits from throughout the 2010s during the show on Nov. 24.

But the two men are "exercising tyrannical control" and refusing to allow her to perform her own music, Swift said. According to the deal, Swift isn't allowed to re-record her old music until next year, something that she has been planning to do to undermine the pair, who have already refused to sell her music back to her.

"Guys - It's been announced recently that the American Music Awards will be honoring me with the Artist of the Decade Award at this year's ceremony," she began. "I've been planning to perform a medley of my hits throughout the decade on the show."

"Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun have now said that I'm not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I'm allowed to next year," Swift said

That's a major dig against the pop star from the owner of her former label, which Baun bought. But that's not all. Swift also accused the pair of trying to stop her music from being used in a Netflix documentary about her.

"Additionally - and this isn't the way I had planned on telling you this - Netflix has created a documentary about my life for the past few years. Scott and Scooter have declined the use of my older music and performance footage from being used in the project, even though there is no mention of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film."

Swift then alleged that Borchetta and Braun "told my team that they'll allow me to use my music only if I do these things: If I agree not to re-record copycat versions of my songs next year (which is something I'm both legally allowed to do and looking forward to) and also told my team that I need to stop talking about him and Scooter Braun. Basically be a good little girl and shut up, or you'll be punished."

This kind of browbeating is unequivocally wrong, Swift insisted, adding that any projects, concerts and other events she has planned between now and November 2020 are "a question mark" because of these tactics.

Swift asked her fans to "let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this". She also had another, slightly more unusual, request: just before signing off, Swift said she is "especially asking for help from The Carlyle Group..."

What, exactly, does Swift want with the private equity giant? That isn't exactly clear. But Carlyle put up the money for Braun - who rose to fame as the manager who plucked Justin Bieber from obscurity - to buy Swift's music, so she must believe there's something they can do to lean on Braun.

Of course, if Braun relents, he will in effect be losing out on a major payday, since his investment in Swift's music will be worth significantly less if she's allowed to re-record all of it. That, in turn, could put his ability to pay Carlyle back in jeopardy. So Carlyle probably has a significant incentive to stand with Braun against Swift.

Then again, challenging Swift comes with its own kind of risks. Elizabeth Warren is already trying to make private equity the boogeyman during the 2020 race, painting them as ruthless vulture capitalists who enrich themselves by exploiting workers and dismembering companies. But Swift is a mainstream pop star with a much broader reach and - it has to be said - much better favorables.

If she launches a crusade against PE, it could feasibly end with CFPB Chairwoman Swift regulating the industry out of existence in a future Warren administration.

We look forward to hearing David Rubenstein's thoughts on the matter.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 07:31
Published:11/15/2019 6:37:16 AM
[Markets] Hong Kong Shocked Into First Annual Recession Since Global Financial Crisis Hong Kong Shocked Into First Annual Recession Since Global Financial Crisis

Hong Kong confirmed Friday its economy is crashing into the first recession in nearly a decade in the third quarter, pulled down mostly by a synchronized slowdown in global growth and violent protests in the last six months.

  • HONG KONG GOVT SAYS THE QUARTERLY GDP IS THE FIRST YEAR-ON-YEAR DECLINE SINCE THE GREAT RECESSION OF 2009
  • HONG KONG GOVT SAYS THE ECONOMY HAS ENTERED A RECESSION
  • HONG KONG GOVT SAYS HONG KONG'S EXPORT PERFORMANCE IS LIKELY TO REMAIN WEAK IN THE NEAR TERM
  • HONG KONG GOVT SAYS IMPACTS OF LOCAL SOCIAL INCIDENTS HAVE YET TO SHOW SIGNS OF ABATING, CONSUMPTION AND INVESTMENT DEMAND WILL LIKELY REMAIN IN THE DOLDRUMS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR
  • HONG KONG GOVT SAYS BOTH LARGE ENTERPRISES AND SMALL-AND-MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES ALL INDICATED THAT BUSINESS SENTIMENT HAS TURNED VERY PESSIMISTIC
  • HONG KONG GOVT SAYS IT SEES DIFFICULT EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT IS LIKELY TO PERSIST IN THE NEAR TERM
  • HONG KONG GOVT SAYS LOCAL SOCIAL INCIDENTS WITH INTENSIFYING VIOLENCE IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS HAVE KEPT VISITORS AWAY, TAKEN A HEAVY TOLL ON LOCAL CONSUMPTION DEMAND, AND SERIOUSLY DAMPENED ECONOMIC SENTIMENT

GDP contracted 3.2% in Q3 over the previous quarter, in line with preliminary estimates. GDP also declined in Q2, making it the first time a technical recession has been confirmed in the city since the global financial crisis in 2008/2009. Full-year GDP is expected to shrink by 1.3% in 2019.

Hong Kong, already damaged by the global synchronized downturn and trade war, was delivered a death blow to its economy this summer when pro-democracy protesters started battling police on city streets. As a result, six months later, Hong Kong's financial and trading hubs, shopping malls, restaurants, stores, and the overall domestic economy have collapsed.

"The Hong Kong economy saw an abrupt deterioration in the third quarter of 2019, as the local social incidents dealt a very severe blow to an economy already weakened by a synchronized global economic slowdown and US-Mainland trade tensions," the government said in a statement. "As the impacts of the local social incidents have yet to show signs of abating, consumption and investment demand will likely remain in the doldrums for the rest of the year."

Bloomberg provides an infographic of six indicators that shows the recession in Hong kong is worsening. 

Preliminary GDP data for Q4 could be significantly worse, considering the recent plunge in private consumption activity and investment expenditures. Net exports for the city have contracted on the year as the global economy continues to decelerate. 

Hong Kong is merely the first domino to fall ahead of the next global trade recession. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 06:50
Published:11/15/2019 6:07:04 AM
[Markets] Beat the System: Scammers are using $5 iron-on patches to fake $1,000 Canada Goose coats Faux versions of the coveted patch can be found on eBay.
Published:11/15/2019 5:07:41 AM
[Markets] Mark Hulbert: The odds don’t favor KKR if it does a leveraged buyout of Walgreens There’s no evidence that public companies perform better after being taken private, writes Mark Hulbert.
Published:11/15/2019 4:36:35 AM
[Markets] David Stockman Exposes The Ukrainian Influence-Peddling Rings, Part 1 David Stockman Exposes The Ukrainian Influence-Peddling Rings, Part 1

Authored by David Stockman via AntiWar.com,

Last night we heard some knucklehead on the War Channel (CNN) braying about Ukraine as a vitally important "ally and strategic partner". The implication, of course, was that the Donald’s attempted squeeze play on its new President was dangerously undermining national security.

What unadulterated tommyrot!

The safety and security of the American homeland has absolutely nothing to do with it. That’s because Ukraine is a no count, strategically irrelevant patch of earth that was long ago ruined by the old Soviet Union, and thereafter turned into an economic trainwreck by its own corrupt oligarchs – along with plenty of help from Washington interventionists.

The latter spent the post-Soviet years fomenting "color revolutions" and attempting to steer its politics toward the west and NATO membership. But when the Ukrainian people elected a pro-Russian president in 2010 and all efforts to bribe and bully him westward failed, Washington instigated, funded and instantaneously recognized an illegal putsch on the streets of Kiev in February 2014.

That blatant, unprovoked assault on a sovereign nation, in turn, set in motion a destructive civil war internally; a dangerous and utterly unnecessary politico-military confrontation with Russia on its own doorstep; and, now, a hysterical campaign by the House Dems and their Deep State allies to impeach a duly-elected American president for the sin of wading into the very cesspool of corruption that the Washington establishment itself foisted upon this hapless, $150 billion sliver of a failed state and crippled economy.

The latest dispatch from the Wall Street Journal on the stench wafting westward from Kiev reveals more about the rotten foundation of UkraineGate than its authors probably understood.

Burisma Holdings’ campaign to clean up its image in the West reached beyond the 2014 hiring of Hunter Biden, son of the then-U.S. vice president, to include other well-connected operatives in Washington, according to officials in both countries and government records.

The Ukrainian company, owned by tycoon Mykola Zlochevsky, also hired a lobbyist with close ties to then-Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as a consulting group founded by top officials in the Clinton administration that specialized in preparing former Soviet-bloc countries to join NATO (Blue Star Strategies).

Soon the efforts bore fruit. With the help of a New York-based lawyer, Mr. Zlochevsky’s U.S. consultants argued to Ukrainian prosecutors that criminal cases against the company should be closed because no laws had been broken.

Burisma later became a sponsor of a Washington think tank, the Atlantic Council, whose experts are often cited on energy and security policy in the former Soviet Union.

Simple translation: Zlochevsky was an ally, officeholder (minister of ecology and natural resources) and inner-circle thief in the ousted government of Viktor Yanukovych. He therefore needed to powder the pig fast and thoroughly in order to hold onto his ill-gotten billions.

Mykola Zlochevsky, former employer of Hunter Biden and current partner of the Atlantic Council

So he hired the best Washington influence peddlers that money could buy under the circumstances. First up was Hunter Biden, because his old man was running point on what amounted to the puppet government Washington had installed in Kiev, and Devon Archer, because he was a former bundler for former Senator (and then Secretary of State) John Kerry.

But so as to leave no stone unturned, Zlochevsky also had Burisma hire another Washington influence peddler just one month after Biden the Younger joined the board in April 2014. Again, according to the WSJ, the additional lobbyist firepower came from one,

David Leiter of Washington lobbying firm M.L. Strategies….. Mr. Leiter was John Kerry’s chief of staff when Mr. Kerry was a U.S. senator from Massachusetts….According to disclosure records, Mr. Leiter, who also had worked for the Energy Department, lobbied on behalf of Burisma on “promoting transparency and good corporate governances” at both chambers of Congress, the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Energy Department, and US AID.

Needless to say, only in Imperial Washington would all the above named arms of the US government care a whit about "transparency and good governance" at a two-bit gas producer in Ukraine. During 2018, for example, the company produced the trivial sum of 1.3 BCF of natural gas and booked revenues of just $400 million – a rounding error in just about any energy market that matters.

But as it happened, Washington was calling the shots in Kiev, and Burisma needed its government licenses and gas concessions. So the lobbying happened on the banks of the Potomac where the real power was actually exercised.

Finally, the Clinton wing of the Washington racketeering system had to be covered, too – hence the above mentioned Blue Star Strategies. And the bolded sentence from the WSJ story quoted below tells you all you need to know about its business, which was to "….help former Soviet countries prepare for NATO consideration".

That’s right. With the Soviet Union gone, its 50,000 tanks on the central front melted-down for scrap and the Warsaw Pact disbanded, the rational order of the day was to declare "mission accomplished" for NATO and effect its own disbandment.

The great parachuter and then US president, George Bush the Elder, could have actually made a jump right into the giant Ramstein Air Base in Germany to effect its closure. At that point there was no justification for NATO’s continued existence whatsoever.

But the Clinton Administration, under the baleful influence of Washington busybodies like Strobe Talbot and Madeleine Albright, went in just the opposite direction. In pursuit of Washington’s post-1991 quest for global hegemony as the world’s only superpower and putative keeper of the peace, they prepared the way for the entirety of the old Warsaw Pact to join NATO.

So doing, however, they also laid the planking for a revival of the cold war with the Kremlin. As the father of containment and NATO during the late 1940s, Ambassador George Kennan, observed at the time, the Clinton Administration’s policy of expanding NATO to the very doorstep of Russia was a colossal mistake.

It not only violated Bush the Elder’s pledge to Gorbachev at the time of German reunification that NATO would not be expanded "by a single inch to the east", but also set Washington on a confrontation path with the rump state of Russia that posed no threat whatsoever to America’s homeland security.

Moreover, in the case of Ukraine specifically, it had not simply been a Warsaw Pact "captive nation" like Poland or the Czech Republic. It had actually been an integral component of the old Soviet Union, and before that a vassal and sometimes province of Czarist Russia.

As the 1897 map below indicates, what is today Ukraine barely even existed as an independent state (dark yellow area) during the final centuries of the Russian Empire; and the Russian-speaking regions in what is today eastern Ukraine (yellow area on the map) had actually been known as "New Russia" owing to the Czarist policy of settling Russians there to provide a bulwark against encroachments by the Ottoman Turks.

Indeed, Crimea (orange area) had been actually purchased from them by Catherine the Great in 1783 to complete the Russification of the region north of the Black Sea. It had never been even remotely a part of Ukraine until its mainly Russian-speaking population was transferred to the Soviet Socialist Republic of the Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954 as a reward to his Ukrainian compatriots for their support during the post-Stalin struggle for power in Moscow.

Moreover, the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, which had been largely incorporated by Moscow in 1923, had a modern bloody history that was always a civil war waiting to happen.

To wit, western Ukraine had sided with the Nazi and Hitler’s Wehrmacht as it brutally made its way through Ukraine to the siege of Stalingrad during WWII, while eastern Ukraine had lined up with the Red Army during its equally bloody campaign of destruction and revenge as it chased the defeated Nazi army back to Berlin after 1943.

So the very idea that Ukraine should be induced to join NATO was beyond the pale – and most especially after Washington had recruited modern-day political descendants of the WWII pro-Nazi brigades to replace the Yanukovych government in March 2014. Washington’s obtuseness to this history reflected pure imperial arrogance.

What is worse, of course, is that no count apparatchiks from the Clinton machine – Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano – had cashed in on this madness by setting up a practice in helping Washington to meddle in places where not an iota of homeland security was at stake.

Image result for 19th century map of the Ukraine as part of czarist Russia

As the Wall Street Journal noted, Blue Star Strategies had no compunction about using its Clinton and Biden connections in behalf of Burisma – notwithstanding the odor of oligarchical corruption which surrounded it,

Blue Star Strategies, which has been lauded in the West for its work to help former Soviet countries prepare for NATO consideration. Its founders: Sally Painter, a senior adviser to the Commerce Department in the Clinton administration, and Karen Tramontano, a deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House.

At about the time of Mr. Shokin’s dismissal, Blue Star helped Burisma hire lawyer John D. Buretta, who argued before prosecutors in Ukraine that cases against Burisma should be closed, according to one Ukrainian official and others familiar with the matter.

“I thought I was meeting someone who was going to help with the investigations, and all he wanted to talk about was why they should be closed,” said one former Ukrainian prosecutor who met with Mr. Buretta.

So that’s how the Imperial City rolls. People make policies which extend the Empire while in office – as did these Clintonistas with the NATO expansion project – and then cash-in afterwards by peddling influence in the corridors of the beltway on behalf of Washington’s newly acquired vassals and supplicants.

In this case, all roads lead to the Atlantic Council, which is the semi-official "think tank" of NATO in Washington and is infested with Russophobes and Clinton/Biden operatives. The latter, of course, make a handsome living peddling anti-Putin propaganda – the better to grease the Washington purse strings for unneeded military spending and foreign aid, security assistance and weapons sales to the "front line" states allegedly in the path of Kremlin aggression.

In fact, so-called think tanks like the Atlantic Council are thinly disguised lobbying arms for both the Empire’s foreign supplicants as well as the U.S. agencies which feed them. Thus, in the racketeering wards of the Imperial City weapons contractors and foreign purchasers make common cause. So do the dispensers and recipients of foreign aid, security assistance and the multitude of Washington propaganda programs run through the State Department, Endowment for Democracy, Board for International Broadcasting and countless more.

In fact, the network of one hand washing the other is so pervasive and massive that it is not surprising that foreign policy and national security have become one giant racket enveloped in a bipartisan consensus in favor in intervention and meddling in the fairest parts of the planet.

The entire Ukraine intervention project, for instance, has been heavily choreographed by the Atlantic Council, which in turn derives its ample funding from virtually all parties – domestic and foreign – to the Empires far flung rackets.

Thus, US government contributors include the Pentagon, the U. S. State Department, the US Air Force, the US Navy, the Air Force Academy, the US Army War College, National Endowment for Democracy and even NATO itself.

Then there is an endless litany of foreign governments and quasi-official institutions including the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and embassies, foundations and sovereign funds representing Denmark, South Korea, Australia, Japan, Hungary, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Romania, Netherlands, Hong Kong and countless more.

Not surprisingly, the roster of military/industrial/intelligence contractors and international energy and financial institutions runs on for pages. It includes Chevron, HSBC Holdings, BP America Inc., Lockheed Martin Corporation, Raytheon, United Technologies, Boeing, ExxonMobil, Textron, Statoil, Bank of America, ConocoPhillips, JPMorgan and dozens more.

Also, amply represented in its contributor lists are other foreign policy advocacy and funding institutions including The Wallenberg Foundations, the Soros Open Society Foundations, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Arabia Foundation, Center for International Strategic Studies, the Starr Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation etc.

Finally, there is an endless list of everyone and their brother who does business in Washington lead by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. The latter is the influence peddling front of Ukraine’s leading billionaire who essentially stole much of its iron and steel industry after the Soviet Union collapsed and has been a leading funder of the Clinton Foundation ($6 million) and various Russophobe think tanks in addition to the Atlantic Council.

But that additional list also includes such odds and sots as Facebook, Inc., Google, Inc., Squire Patton Boggs, Starbucks Coffee Company, Twitter, McKinsey & Company, CNN and dozens more.

So it is not surprising that Burisma quickly put its money where its spotted reputation could be cycled through a refurbishment process at the Atlantic Council. Indeed, in an extensive expose, Max Blumenthal noted exactly hour the Atlantic connection came about:

Even with Hunter Biden on his company’s board, Zlochevsky was still seeking influential allies in Washington. He found them at the Atlantic Council in 2017, literally hours after he was cleared of corruption charges in Ukraine.

On Jan. 19, 2017 – just two days after the investigation of Zlochevsky ended – Burisma announced a major “cooperative agreement” with the Atlantic Council.

The deal was inked by the director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia program, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine named John Herbst.

Since then, Burisma helped bankroll Atlantic Council programming, including an energy security conference held this May in Monaco, where Zlochevsky currently lives.

The story actually gets even more convoluted from there as we will essay in Part 2.

As it turns out, virtually the entire caste of whistleblowers and Deep State testifiers now being called before the Impeachment Tribunal were in one way or another organized, financed or sponsored by the Atlantic Council.

*  *  *

David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution FailedThe Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 05:00
Tags
Published:11/15/2019 4:07:25 AM
[Markets] Autotrader: 8 subcompact cars with top safety ratings in 2019 These vehicles in the subcompact segment earned either an IIHS Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ rating
Published:11/15/2019 4:07:25 AM
[Markets] Disruption And Deflation Decimates "World's Oldest Profession" In Switzerland Disruption And Deflation Decimates "World's Oldest Profession" In Switzerland

What many considered a recession-proof occupation has been hit by tech disruption and its implicit deflationary pressure as RT reports that human prostitutes in the beautiful and civilized Swiss city of Lucerne are facing a serious squeeze (and not in a good way) as, at half the cost their human counterparts, hard-up punters prefer sex worker robots at a Swiss brothel.

At 90 Swiss francs ($90) an hour, sessions with a plastic partner at 'Arsenal 51' - an infamous Lucerne brothel - are half the price of genuine human female company.

However, all is not lost, as RT notes, for those not prepared to go totally virtual, a combination of a real woman and a ‘Sexpuppe’ for half an hour at 150 Swiss francs is also available. How the client divides the time is up to them.

With prostitution legal in Switzerland they have seemingly now got to the point where sex between two consenting adults is, yawn, a little humdrum. And all this time we’ve been thinking the Swiss were boring!

A survey by men’s health organization ‘Praeventionsangebot fuer Freier Don Juan’ of 9,000 men claimed that sex with a robot was a simple fetish of some men, like a preference for leather, according to spokesman Felix Neuenschwander.

So there you have it - not even the "world's oldest profession" can stand in the way of technological progress...

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 04:15
Published:11/15/2019 3:33:19 AM
[Markets] [video]Dow Futures Suggest Fresh Record Highs as Trade Optimism Sweeps Global Stocks Wall Street looks poised to test another series of fresh record highs Friday as global investors react to bullish comments on U.S.-China trade talks from a key White House adviser and continue to push equities higher in major markets around the world. Published:11/15/2019 3:03:49 AM
[Markets] Le Mesurier Gets Cross'd Le Mesurier Gets Cross'd

Authored by Craig Murray,

Perhaps the only fact on James Le Mesurier about which I would agree with the MSM war cheerleaders is that he was a very busy man. It is remarkable therefore that he found the time and inclination to follow “Philip Cross” on twitter. Given that “Philip Cross” has virtually never posted an original tweet, and his timeline consists almost entirely of retweets of Nick Cohen, David Aaronovitch and openly pro-Israel propaganda accounts, why would Le Mesurier bother to follow him?

“Philip Cross” has never posted any news other than to retweet columnists. He has never given an insight into a story. In addition to James Le Mesurier, why then were all these MSM journailsts following “Philip Cross” from before “he” gained notoriety for his Wikipedia exploits?

  • Oliver Kamm, Leader Writer The Times

  • Nick Cohen, Columnist The Guardian/Observer

  • Joan Smith, Columnist The Independent

  • Leslie Felperin, Film Columnist The Guardian

  • Kate Connolly, Foreign Correspondent The Guardian/Observer

  • Lisa O’Carroll, Brexit Correspondent The Guardian

  • James Bloodworth, Columnist The Independent

  • Cristina Criddle, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme

  • Sarah Baxter, Deputy Editor, The Sunday Times

  • Iain Watson, Political Correspondent, The BBC

  • Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor, the Sunday Times

  • Jennifer Chevalier, CBC ex-BBC

  • Dani Garavelli, Scotland on Sunday

Prominent Freelancers

  • Bonnie Greer (frequently in The Guardian)

  • Mason Boycott-Owen (The Guardian, New Statesman)

  • Marko Attilla Hoare (The Guardian)

  • Kirsty Hughes

  • Guy Walters (BBC)

  • Paul Canning

What attracted all of these senior MSM figures to follow an obscure account with almost no original content? No reasonable explanation of this phenomenon has ever been offered by any of the above. What a considerable number of them have done is to use the megaphone their plutocrat or state overlords have given them, to label those asking this perfectly reasonable question as crazed conspiracy theorists.

This week, on the day of Le Mesurier’s death, “Philip Cross” made 48 edits to Le Mesurier’s Wikipedia page, each one designed to expunge any criticism of the role of the White Helmets in Syria or reference to their close relationship with the jihadists.

“Philip Cross” has been an operation on a massive scale to alter the balance of Wikipedia by hundreds of thousands of edits to the entries, primarily of politically engaged figures, always to the detriment of anti-war figures and to the credit of neo-con figures. An otherwise entirely obscure but real individual named Philip Cross has been identified who fronts the operation, and reputedly suffers from Aspergers. I however do not believe that any individual can truly have edited Wikpedia articles from a right wing perspective, full time every single day for five years without one day off, not even a Christmas, for 2,987 consecutive days.

I should declare here the personal interest that “Philip Cross” has made over 120 edits to my own Wikipedia entry, including among other things calling my wife a stripper, and deleting the facts that I turned down three honours from the Crown and was eventually cleared on all disciplinary charges by the FCO.

I hazard the guess that at least several of the above journalists follow “Philip Cross” on twitter because they are a part of the massive Wikipedia skewing operation operating behind the name of “Philip Cross”. If anybody has any better explanation of why they all follow “Philip Cross” on twitter I am more than willing to hear it.

The “White Helmets” operation managed for MI6 by Le Mesurier was both a channel for logistic support to Western backed jihadists and a propaganda operation to shill for war in Syria, as in Iraq or Libya. Wars which were of course very profitable for arms manufacturers, energy interests and the security establishment. It should surprise nobody that Le Mesurier intersects with the Philip Cross propaganda operation which, with the active support of arch Blairite Jimmy Wales, has for years been slanting Wikipedia in support of the same pro-war goals as pushed by the “White Helmets”.

*  *  *

Unlike the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, Craig's blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate. Subscriptions to keep Craig's blog going are gratefully received.

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 03:30
Tags
Published:11/15/2019 3:03:48 AM
[Markets] Mutual Funds Weekly: High levels of debt won’t derail the U.S. stock market — plus more top investing tips This week’s popular money and investing features.
Published:11/15/2019 2:34:31 AM
[Markets] First Su-57 Stealth Fighter Jet Enters Russian Military Service First Su-57 Stealth Fighter Jet Enters Russian Military Service

Several months ago, we reported that the Sukhoi Aircraft Company, part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, started series production of Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jets.

Now a new report specifies that the first serial-produced Su-57 has rolled off the production line and has been delivered to Russia's Aerospace Force, Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko told the press late last week.

"As for the program of creating fifth-generation aircraft, we can see together with you that the first serial-produced Su-57 plane is actually ready for its delivery to the troops. It will be delivered to the Aerospace Force before the end of this year," Krivoruchko said. 

Russia's Aerospace Force is expecting to receive 76 Su-57s by 2028, he said.

"Next year, we are expecting to get another such plane, and subsequently, their production will grow manifold," he added.

Back in August, Krivoruchko said the Su-57s are "the most advanced fifth-generation multirole fighter jet, which will boost the domestic Aerospace Force's combat capabilities."

The Su-57 is a multirole stealth fighter that is capable of maintaining supersonic cruising speed and is equipped with advanced onboard radio-electronic equipment, including a powerful onboard computer, advanced radar system, and armament placed inside its fuselage. The plane can track 60 targets and open fire at 16 of them concurrently.

The fifth-generation fighter jet has been battle-tested in combat conditions in Syria.

The Su-57 has the potential to evade US radar systems and launch hypersonic missile attacks at asset-heavy areas across Europe, Alaska, and even on the US West and East Coasts. The next world war will be fought with fifth-generation fighters and hypersonic weapons.

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 02:45
Published:11/15/2019 2:03:02 AM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Former Under Armour executives describe a scramble to meet sales targets Federal investigators are conducting a probe into the company’s revenue recognition and whether there were improper tactics used to shift sales, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
Published:11/15/2019 1:02:50 AM
[Markets] Europe: The New Political Weapon Of 'Islamophobia' Europe: The New Political Weapon Of 'Islamophobia'

Authored by Alain Destexhe via The Gatestone Institute,

France is once again profoundly divided over Islam. Last Sunday, November 10, a "March against Islamophobia" was held in Paris in response to an appeal from 50 public figures. In an op-ed in the leftist newspaper Libération, the demonstrators pleaded to "stop Islamophobia and stop the growing stigmatization of Muslims, victims of discrimination and aggression".

Two recent incidents ignited the public debate and served as a pretext for the march. On October 26, an 84-year-old man shot and injured two men while trying to set fire to the mosque of Bayonne. Earlier in October, in the Regional Assembly of Burgundy, a member of the National Rally party (RN) complained about the presence in the gallery of a woman wearing an Islamic headscarf. The French political class and media condemned both incidents almost unanimously.

Among the signatories of the op-ed are Jean-Luc Mélenchon, president of La France Insoumise ("Unsubmissive France"), the most prominent leftist political party in the French National Assembly; Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party candidate in the last presidential election; Philippe Martinez, leader of the Communist trade-union General Confederation of Labor (CGT); Yannick Jadot, a prominent Member of European Parliament from the Green party and Edwy Plenel, editor of Mediapart, a successful online media news platform and former editor of the newspaper Le Monde.

The op-ed sparked a national debate. How could these established public figures sign a text alongside known Islamist sympathizers, such as Nader Abou Anas, an imam who believes that "women can only go out with the permission of their husband", or Marwan Muhammad, the former CEO of the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) -- an organization suspected of links with the Muslim Brotherhood -- who compared the situation of Muslims in France today with those of the Jews in Germany in the 1930s, going so far as to add that "in France, mosques are machine-gunned" ("mitraillé")?

The debate was particularly tense within the Left. Historically, the Left in France was always a powerful advocate of secularism ("laïcité" in French; a strong separation between church and state). However, a portion of the Left now chooses to support multiculturalism and so-called "identity politics" and to ally itself with Islamists whose agenda opposes having a secular state. The alliance between the traditional Left and Islamists is often described as "Islamo-gauchisme" ("Islamo-leftism"). The controversy became so great that some of the signatories even decided to abstain from participating in the demonstration.

The choice of the word "Islamophobia" as the central rallying call was, of course, not neutral. As noted by the journalist Stéphane Charbonnier, murdered in the Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015, in his posthumous book, Islamophobia "is not only a poorly chosen word but also a dangerous one."

Historically, the word Islamophobia -- coined in the 1910s by a French colonial administrator -- was rarely used until the 1990s. After Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, particularly after Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against Salman Rushdie following the publication of The Satanic Verses, the term became used as a political weapon. The objective appears to have been to make Islam untouchable by placing any criticism of it as equivalent to racism or anti-Semitism.

The word "Islamophobia" deliberately intends to transform the critique of a religion -- a fundamental right in Western societies -- into a crime.

Pascal Bruckner, a French philosopher, suggested the role played by the concept. According to him:

"The term 'Islamophobia' serves several functions. It denies the reality of an Islamic offensive in Europe all the better to justify it. It attacks secularism by equating it with fundamentalism. Above all, however, the term is intended to silence Muslims who question the Koran, who demand equality of the sexes, who claim the right to renounce their religion, and who want to practice their faith freely and without submitting to the dictates of the bearded and dogmatic."

Unfortunately, many media outlets and human rights groups fell directly into the trap and often use the word "Islamophobia" despite its lack of any legal basis or precise definition. Every time the word is used, it is a small victory for the Islamists.

A phobia is an extreme irrational fear or an aversion to something. Why, however, is it irrational to be afraid of Islam when terrorists murder, and call for murder, in the name of their God? -- even if the perpetrators are but a small minority among Muslims. Forty years ago, who could have imagined that terrorist attacks could be perpetrated in the United States or Europe in the name of a religion? In this context, being "Islamophobic" (being afraid of a religion) is not a crime. And it is light years' different from "hating" Muslims "for being Muslims". It is not Muslims people "hate," any more than they hate Hindus or Buddhists or Shintos. It is the violence and coercion that some adopt -- what is known as jihad or holy war -- that people reject.

The signatories were also severely criticized for their bias regarding the facts. Muslims are not targeted in France. According to the official records of the French government, last year, with 100 incidents, anti-Muslim acts were actually at their lowest level since 2010.

By comparison, after two years of decline, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 rose sharply: 541 compared to 311 in 2017 -- an increase of 74%. Eighty-one of the incidents included violence, attempted homicide, or homicide. The number of recorded anti-Christian incidents reached 1063, ten times more than anti-Muslim ones.

The demonstration "against Islamophobia," which drew 13,500 persons, took place on November 10, three days before the commemoration of the massive jihadi attacks in Paris in 2015 at the Bataclan Theater and other sites, in which terrorists murdered 131 persons and wounded 413. Is it irrational to remember who was calling those shots?

Tyler Durden Fri, 11/15/2019 - 02:00
Published:11/15/2019 1:02:50 AM
[Markets] Understanding The Deep State's Propaganda Understanding The Deep State's Propaganda

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Propaganda is essential to the Deep State’s operation...

The Deep State is the small number of people who control the organizations that donate the majority of the funds which finance the political careers of national officials, such as Presidents, Prime Ministers, and members of the national legislature. Almost always, the members of the Deep State are the controlling stockholders in the international corporations that are headquartered in the given nation; and, therefore, the Deep State is more intensely interested in international than in purely national matters. Since most of its members derive a large portion of their wealth from abroad, they need to control their nation’s foreign policies even more than they need to control its domestic policies. Indeed, if they don’t like their nation’s domestic policies, they can simply relocate abroad. But relocating the operations of their corporations would be far more difficult and costly to them. Furthermore, a nation’s public know and care far less about the nation’s foreign than about its domestic policies; and, so, the Deep State reign virtually alone on the nation’s international issues, such as: which nations will be treated as “allies” and which nations will instead be treated as “enemies.” Such designations are virtually never determined by a nation’s public. The public just trust what the Government says about such matters, like, for example, the US regime’s standard allegation, for decades, that “Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism”, which is clearly a blatant lie.

Iran, of course, is the world’s leading Shia nation, whereas Saudi Arabia is the world’s leading Sunni nation; and the US aristocracy are bonded to the aristocracies of both Saudi Arabia and Israel, against Iran. This allegation against Iran has always been promoted by the royal family who own Saudi Arabia, the Saud family, and also by the billionaires who control Israel, as well as by the billionaires who control the US So: this allegation is by the Deep State, which controls at least these three countries: US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

But, as was just said, this allegation by the Deep State is false: On 9 June 2017, I headlined “All Islamic Terrorism Is Perpetrated by Fundamentalist Sunnis, Except Terrorism Against Israel” and listed 54 terrorist attacks which had been prominent in US-and-allied media during 2001-2017, and all of them except for a few that were against Israel were attacks by Sunni groups — not affiliated with Iran. Subsequently, Kent R. Kroeger’s 16 May 2019 study “Is Iran the biggest state sponsor of terrorism?” concluded that overwhelmingly the majority of terrorist attacks ever since 1994 have been by Sunni groups, but he attributed the attacks by Yemen’s Shiite Houthis against Sunni Saudi Arabia as being “terrorist” attacks, even though these were instead actually responses to the Sauds’ war against, and to eliminate, Houthis in Yemen. Also, Kroeger attributed those Houthi actions to “Iran,” which is absurd. (The Houthis simply did not like being exterminated. And the US, of course, supplied the weapons and the military planning, for this attempted ethnic cleansing operation.) There were many other methodological flaws. And yet, still, even with its methodological flaws, Kroeger, concluded: “The distorted US propagandized image of Iran’s aggression looming over the Middle East is, frankly, ‘fake news.’” This is how untrustworthy the Deep State’s ‘news’ actually is. The term “fake news” is, in fact, misleading (or itself fake news) if it is not referring to the Deep State’s propaganda. In my 27 November 2017 “How the US Came to Label Iran the Top State Sponsor of Terrorism”, I described specifically the Deep State’s operation that had created the phrase “Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism”. But this is the way the Deep State operates, routinely, on all international issues. It operates by deceit. This is how it achieves the consent of the public, whom it actually rules. This is entirely consistent with the scientific findings about the United States, that it is a dictatorship, not a democracy. All of the evidence is consistent.

The Deep State here is the US-and allied Deep State, no merely national organization. It consists mainly of America’s billionaires, plus of the billionaires in US-allied countries such as UK, France, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel — but many more (including, for example, in Honduras, Brazil, etc.). These people number fewer than 2,000 in total, and they do deals together, and their contacts with one-another are both direct person-to-person, and indirect by means of representatives or agents. However, America’s billionaires lead the US-and-allied Deep State. That’s to say, the leaders are among the 607 US billionaires, the people who mainly fund American national political campaigns and candidates — and these 607 individuals determine who will get an opportunity to become a US President or member of Congress, and who won’t. For example: these individuals don’t necessarily select the politician who will become America’s President, but they do select who will get the opportunity to be among the serious contenders for that position. (Basically, what the mullahs do in Iran, these super-rich do in America. Whereas in Iran the clergy rule, in America the aristocracy rule.)

One, in particular, is George Soros, and this article will detail the views of one of his many beneficiaries. Another of these billionaires is Charles Koch, but he will not be discussed here, and inside the United States he is popularly considered to be an enemy of George Soros, only because the two men oppose each other on domestic issues. (Billionaires tend to be much more concerned with, and united about, foreign affairs than about domestic affairs, though they do oppose both their taxation and their regulation — they are for ‘free markets’, both domestically and abroad, and yet they also favor imposition of economic sanctions against countries which resist becoming controlled by them, and so they don’t really favor free markets except to the extent that free markets favor their own increase in power and thus tend toward oligopoly and away from competition.) Both men are much more alike than different, and both represent what’s called “neoliberalism,” which is the universal ideology of billionaires, or at least of all billionaires who donate to (i.e., invest in) politicians. Only few billionaires don’t invest in politicians; and, though politicians disagree with one-another, almost all of them are neoliberals, because politicians who aren’t that are not funded by the Deep State (the billionaires). The foreign policies of neoliberals are called “neoconservative” and this means supporting regime-change in any country that’s labeled by billionaires and their government an “enemy” nation. So, “neoconservative” is merely an extension of “neoliberal”: it favors extending neoliberalism to other nations — it is internationally aggressive neoliberalism; it is imperialistic neoliberalism. It is fascism, but so is neoliberalism itself fascist; the difference between the two is that neoconservatism is the imperialistic extension of fascism — it is the imperialistic fascism that, in World War II, was represented by the three Axis powers — Germany, Italy, and Japan — not by the purely domestic fascism that was represented by Spain. Whereas Spain was merely neoliberal, the Axis were also neoconservative (expansionist neoliberal), and the latter is what the Allies in WW II were warring against. But now the US has emerged as the world’s leading neoconservative regime, invading and occupying country after country, none of which had ever invaded nor even threatened to invade the United States. Propaganda is necessary in order to ‘justify’ doing that. This article will describe how that’s done.

The Deep State doesn’t concern domestic issues, because virtually all of its members control international corporations, and the Deep State is almost entirely about international issues: foreign policies, diplomacy, military issues, and international spying agencies called “intelligence agencies” — extending the empire. The Deep State controls all of that, regardless of what Party is nominally in power. (The public care little about foreign policy, pay little attention to it, and believe the government when it alleges that “national security” is about protecting them, and not about expanding the power and wealth of the billionaires.)

The dictatorship of the US Deep State really is more international than national; it provides the continuity in international relations, when it chooses and defines which nations (which foreign governments) are “allies” (meaning “we sell arms to them”) and which are instead “enemies” (meaning “we should sanction them and maybe even bomb them”). Both allies and enemies are essential in order for the military-industrial-press-government complex (here: “MIPGC”) to thrive, and the Deep State controls the entire MIPGC. In other words: the Deep State is an international empire, and, as such, its supreme aspiration is to conquer (via subversion, sanctions, coups, and/or invasions) all countries that it labels as “enemies.”

The way that the Deep State views things, there is no need for an ‘enemy’ to threaten or invade the United States in order for it to be “an enemy,” but, instead, the United States and its allies possess a God-given right to impose sanctions against, or coups overthrowing, or invasions of, any country they choose, so long as they can criticize that other country for being a ‘dictatorship’, or for ‘violating human rights’, or for otherwise doing what the Deep State itself actually does more than any other government on this planet does (and particularly does it to its selected ‘enemies’ — such as were Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, and any other country that’s either friendly toward, or else an ally of, Russia, which is the other nuclear super-power, and the Deep State’s central target).

However, though those few super-wealthy individuals (in addition to the general public’s taxes) fund its operations, their many operatives are true-believing followers (believers in neoliberalism-neoconservatism), and this is the reason why the masters fund those individuals’ careers. It’s why these masters provide the platforms and personal connections and employment which enable the true-believers to advance, while opponents of the Deep State (i.e., opponents of the billionaires’ collective dictatorship) cannot find any billionaires to patronize them. In a society that has extremely concentrated wealth, this means that there will be virtual penury for opponents of the billionaires’ collective dictatorship. Especially the major politicians need patrons amongst the aristocracy, the billionaires, in order to have successful careers.

The beneficiary of the Deep State who will be exemplified, discussed, and finally quoted, here, will be Jacek Rostowski, who is also known as Jan Anthony, and as Jan Anthony Vincent-Rostowski. Wikipedia’s article on him opens:

Jan Anthony Vincent-Rostowski, also known as Jacek Rostowski (Polish pronunciation: ['jan 'vint?s?nt r?s't?fsk?i]; born 30 April 1951, London) is a British-Polish[1] economist and politician who served as Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland.

He was a candidate for Change UK in London at the 2019 European Parliament election in the United Kingdom.[2]

It also says:

From 1995 he has been Professor of Economics and was the head of the Department of Economics at the Central European University in Budapest during the periods: 1995–2000 and 2005–2006.[9] …

Later career[edit]

Rostowski was a member of Britain’s Conservative Party. In the beginning of 2010, it was announced that two months prior[15] he has become member of the Civic Platform party (PO). In the wake of the Parliamentary Elections of 2011, he became Member of Parliament, being elected from the list of Civic Platform Party (PO).[16]

In late 2015, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz appointed Rostowski as her top political adviser.[17]

Vincent-Rostowski has published around 40 academic papers on European enlargement, monetary policy, currency policy and the transformation of post communist economies. He is the author of academic books including Macroeconomic Instability in Post-Communist Countries published by Oxford University Press.

On November 3rd, the Ukrainian ‘news’-medium Apostrophe interviewed him, and published the interview in Ukrainian. (The interviewee isn’t fluent in Ukrainian, but the article’s translator into Ukrainian isn’t identified.) What will be posted here is an English translation of that Ukrainian original.

The English “About” page on Apostrophe’s site says:

Apostrophe started in August 2014.

The site was aimed to prepare informational and analytical materials, presentations of important events in politics, economics, society and culture. Apostrophe’s editorial policy is based on principles of impartiality, precision and veracity, velocity, objectivity and balance in the presentation of information. Apostrophe sticks to journalism ethical standards. That is why published materials should not propagate violence, cruelty, cause racial, national or religious hatred. Apostrophe is a proponent of the common humanism values, peace, democracy, social progress and human rights.

The project functions with the direct participation and use of the resources of the International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS). Apostrophe’s idea lies within the framework of synergy between journalists and analysts.

The “About” page on the International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS) says:

ICPS was founded in 1994 upon the initiative of the Prague-based Open Society Institute (OSI). At that moment, ICPS was the first independent think-tank in Ukraine.

The Open Society Institute was founded by George Soros. He also founded the Central European University in Budapest, where the interviewee was employed for five years.

Those are just the obvious ways in which the interviewee had been funded and advanced by Mr. Soros.

Soros also had helped to fund the overthrow of the democratically elected and internationally non-aligned President of Ukraine in 2014 and to replace him with a nazi anti-Russian regime which serves as a terrific asset for the US-and-allied Deep State, because of Ukraine’s having a 1,625-mile border with the country that the US-installed regime in Ukraine hates: Russia (hates it because the Deep State craves, above all, to control also the other nuclear super-power; so, this is hatred-on-command).

A basic presumption of that interview, both by the interviewer and by the interviewee, is the Russian Government’s being wrong in everything, and the Ukrainian Government’s — the regime which Obama (another of Soros’s beneficiaries) had installed — being right in everything. Here is this interview, as an illustrative example of how propaganda is professionally done:

https://apostrophe.ua

ORIGINAL OF THIS ARTICLE (in Ukrainian) (now translated here into English):

Apostrophe: How would you describe the current state of security in the European region?

Jan Anthony: Since 2014, military security has become a more important topic of discussion in Europe. After all, the events in Crimea and Donbass caused shock. After a long period of time, when defence issues were put on the back burner, they are now again becoming an important factor in the European security environment. Now there are serious problems requiring high priority and serious solutions. And, of course, there are other problems that relate to the same issue — the fight against terrorism, for example.

The EU and NATO work very closely together to prepare for different types of threats. Now there is a return to a potential military conflict with Russia. In addition, there is an unsustainable security situation in the south, in Africa, because of the conflict in Libya, and in the Sahara. They can also pose a terrorist threat. Therefore, the issue of European security has become more complex than it was 5-10 years ago.

“You specialize in managing military conflicts. How do you think the conflict in Ukraine can be solved?

“Conflict management and conflict resolution are different things. Now I see attempts to create a more positive context in the Donbass issue. We need to return to the Minsk agreements as a basic resolution on the conflict. As you know, discussions are under way on the so-called Steinmeier formula. Therefore, now there is an opportunity to return to the discussion of how the Minsk agreements should be implemented. There are serious questions about the sequence of points — what should be done in the first place. And there is also the question of how to confirm the parties’ compliance with their obligations, because now there is a very low level of trust among the participants. Therefore, everything that will be done, it is necessary to immediately demonstrate — behold, it is fulfilled.

How about the implementation of Minsk? Especially given that it has not worked for almost 5 years.

“As I see it, no one is discussing any alternatives now. Perhaps among the people discussing ways to implement the agreements, there are other options, but I have no idea what they can be. The Minsk agreements are still in the spotlight.

“Let’s talk about Crimea. What are the threats on the peninsula?

“With Crimea it’s a different story than with Donbass. In Crimea there are facilities that can be a base for Russian nuclear weapons, including the Russian navy, capable of carrying nuclear weapons in the Black Sea. [NOTE HERE: Obama’s takeover of Ukraine was originally aimed at taking over Russia’s naval base in Crimea and installing an even larger US naval base there, against Russia.]

“So the main threat is nuclear weapons?

“Of course, it is an extremely serious threat by its nature. Any use of it would be disastrous.

“Will the Kremlin decide to use these weapons in the near future? Or is it just a way to intimidate the West?

“The primary objective of nuclear weapons is deterrence. This is the main goal with which Russia placed it in Crimea.

“Is it possible to compare the situation with the Cuban crisis?

“I would not say that these two situations are similar. There the crisis came very, very close to escalating into an armed conflict. I don’t think we’re going to get to that level of confrontation. [NOTE HERE: Both the interviewer and the interviewee ignore that instead of the Soviet Union’s 1962 attempt to place nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba 95 miles from America’s border, the US ploy now is to place its nuclear missiles right on Russia’s 1625-mile border with Russia — the discussants’ assumption reverses the actual threat, and thus insults their readers’ — or else their own — basic intelligence.] But now it is a very dangerous situation. We need to find more stable mechanisms that cannot be developed by comparing the situation to the Cuban crisis.

“How can the Western world force Russia to take its weapons from Crimea?

“Of course, the sanctions have had an effect. I’m sure they’ll stay — I don’t see any reason to take them off. International pressure on Russia will continue. Normalization of relations with it is impossible as long as the current situation in Crimea remains. And since Russia has no intention of leaving the peninsula, we will live for a long time in difficult relations with it, including sanctions, as well as cooperation of Western countries, taking into account possible military confrontation.

“Let’s recall the attack on Ukrainian military vessels in the Kerch Strait, which occurred almost a year ago. How can we avoid the threat of further Russian attacks on Ukrainian and foreign ships?

“Ukraine has lost control of part of its navigation, as well as guaranteed access to the Sea of Azov — and this is a complex problem. This issue must therefore remain the focus of international attention. Ukraine should have access to the water area and carry out commercial operations in ports. Georgia faced the same problem — the loss of control over navigation in a certain area. A special mechanism is needed to address these issues. But I have no suggestions on what it should be.

“Russia recently blocked international waters in the Black Sea and thus blocked trade routes. How should the international community respond to such behaviour?

“We must respect the International Convention on Navigation. We must continue to conduct military exercises in the Black Sea and it is important that NATO countries participate in them. Of course, there remains a risk that Russia will also organize its exercises. I think the ships will enjoy the freedom of navigation established by the International Convention. Some issues may need to be discussed more broadly for the sake of a future long-term convention. We need to make it more relevant to modern security requirements. It is important to revise time limits on stay in the Black Sea for NATO ships. Nato’s defence and deterrence plans should also be changed. NATO must have greater access to the Black Sea and its naval forces spend more time there.

“Does the need to renegotiate international agreements on the weakness of international institutions, as well as their unpreparedness for strikes by Russia, speak?

“Many countries have entered into bilateral agreements with Russia to ensure their confidence in the use of the sea. I think such deals need to be modernized, as well as add another agreement, which spells out a mechanism for discussing maritime incidents on the basis of international organizations, for example, under the OSCE umbrella. This will avoid misunderstandings that may arise from disregard for the rules.

In the case of deliberate violations, for example, when military exercises block part of the Black Sea, other measures of influence will have to be used. And in that case, there must be a clear international response. If you look at the 2014 NATO summit at Brussels, there have been decisions that have had a very tough response in the event of any crisis. The only question is what to do to Ukraine, which is not a member of the Alliance and does not obey its decisions.

“Regarding Russian military power. During the “Grom-2019” exercises, which were held recently under the personal guidance of Vladimir Putin, the nuclear submarine cruiser K-44 “Ryazan” fired only one ballistic intercontinental missile R-29R. The other missile just didn’t come out of the mine. This is not the first time that the Russian army has failed. So the question arises, is Russia really a threat to peace, all this is just a demonstration?

“Russia can solve the problems that you have named. But no one doubts that it has an extremely powerful nuclear arsenal. Despite some problems with weapons, Russia is still very strong.

“The Kremlin has promised to develop short- and medium-range missiles and deploy them to confront the West (in fact, they already exist — Iskanders). Does this mean that now the situation in Europe is close to the state of the Cold War, when the USSR and the West deployed iCBM for mutual deterrence?

“Yes, Russia has already developed and deployed the ICBM. We don’t know if they’re all equipped with nuclear weapons. But for the balance of power, NATO must have a significant force with nuclear weapons.

There are differences with the Cold War. Then there was complete separation and no contact between East and West. And now we have significant economic cooperation. It is still possible to hold political discussions, including with the participation of intergovernmental organizations. So now the situation is not quite the same as during the Cold War. But, as I said, the security situation in Europe is very difficult and relations with Russia deteriorate. The absence of signs that this deterioration is coming to an end is worrying. There are no very effective ways to improve relations with Russia. Therefore, there are different reasons for concern.

“The Kremlin sent the S-400 division and the Panzir-S battery to Serbia to the Russian Air Defense Forces. This is, in fact, Russian military exercises near the EU. [NOTE HERE: The problem isn’t that Russia is moving too close to the EU — such as the discussants imply — but that NATO has moved right up to Russia’s borders. Again, the presumption insults readers’ — and/or their own — basic intelligence.] Is this preparation for a strike against the West?

“Serbia’s position is that they want to have good relations with both their neighbors and NATO countries, but also with Russia. Serbia is also training with NATO countries. Serbia wants a balance of power, but in the event of a conflict it will support EU membership. It is politically and economically related to Western countries. Therefore, I do not believe that such exercises are the Kremlin’s preparation for an attack on the EU.

“How would you assess the military threats to Europe in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova?

“It is difficult to answer because these are three different countries and the situation in each of them is completely different from the other.

“Ukraine and Moldova have similar situations. Russian soldiers are still in Transnistria – the only difference is that the conflict there is frozen.

“Yes, they are there, but they do not fight like in Ukraine.

Do you believe that this frozen conflict can continue?

“Today we think it’s not very likely.

“Is Europe expecting a military strike from Russia?

“No, we don’t expect it and we don’t expect it. But we do not rule it out, we allow it in our defense plans. Preparations are under way for these attacks, which means that their probability is reduced.

“Russia invests heavily in European political parties like the French National Front or the League of the North in Italy. Is there any evidence that the Kremlin is investing in “militia” in EU countries and supplying weapons to Europe to shake up the situation. Perhaps it is funding crime to influence the situation in the EU?

“There have been many investigations into ties with the Kremlin, in particular financial ties from politicians. The EU discusses a lot of cyber threats, the possibility of attacks on infrastructure, as well as information attacks. But I have never seen the Kremlin supply weapons to non-state organizations, especially criminal groups.

“Russia has taken up the settlement of the issue in Syria. What’s going on out there now?

“Officially, Russia is helping Bashar al-Assad’s forces gain control over Syrian territory. But what is happening now is, from the Kremlin’s point of view, the formation of a single strategic space, including the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. Russia has free access to the Black Sea and now the Russian Navy has gained much greater access to the waters of the eastern Mediterranean. They plan to use this strategic space for a possible confrontation with NATO forces.

“How can this affect Europe?

“It’s a very difficult question. One issue of concern is the influx of refugees and temporarily displaced persons to Turkey and Europe. On the other hand, again, Russia’s creation of a single strategic space, interference in the Mediterranean.

“Let’s go back to Ukraine. You are a nuclear safety expert. We have many nuclear power plants, can they pose a threat to the world in the event of full-scale aggression?

“Yes, this is a very big threat, first of all for Ukraine itself, then for the rest of the world. One of the Ukrainian officials stated that this is why there was a significant revision of the concept of Ukraine’s security. It includes so-called “internal threats” to nuclear equipment and the creation of national protection, will protect and defend nuclear reactors. I think that the threat to the infrastructure of the nuclear power plant in Ukraine is real. But the Ukrainian government takes this seriously and takes the necessary measures.

Conclusion

As can be clearly seen there, the basic method of the Deep State’s propagandists is to ask questions which have assumptions that are the reverse of reality, and to answer these questions in ways that confirm those falsehoods.

This is what many millions of people get paid to do.

And it creates “Big Brother” or the Deep State here, just as, in 1948, George Orwell might have been thinking that it would do in 1984. And a good example of how the Deep State ‘justifies’ itself in America, is shown here.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 23:45
Published:11/14/2019 11:03:08 PM
[Markets] Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick has dumped more than $700 million in stock since last week Former Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Travis Kalanick is taking advantage of his first opportunity to cash out of the company he co-founded, dumping more than $700 million in stock since last week.
Published:11/14/2019 11:03:08 PM
[Markets] The New York Post: Bernie Sanders says AOC would play ‘very, very important role’ in his White House She’s the darling of the far left … and of Bernie Sanders.
Published:11/14/2019 10:32:28 PM
[Markets] The Cheapest Places To Rent An Apartment In The U.S. The Cheapest Places To Rent An Apartment In The U.S.

Americans who are looking for a deal on an apartment might want to check out Ohio...

As Statista's Maria Vultaggio notes, the state has two cities with with the least expensive zip codes in the U.S., according to ApartmentGuide.com. 

Infographic: The Cheapest Places To Rent An Apartment In The U.S. | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

A one-bedroom apartment in Columbus, Ohio, costs $489 a month. It's the only zip code on the list that's under $500.

Rogers, Arkansas and Greenville, Texas, were tied for second least expensive, with monthly rents costing $510. Cities like Oklahoma City, Champaign, Illinois and Shreveport, Louisiana, cost under $550 per month.

Conway, Arkansas fell in the middle of the last with $555 per month for a one-bedroom apartment and Amarillo, Texas, Derby, Kansas, and Youngstown, Ohio finished off the least expensive zip codes by costing renters about $600 per month.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 23:25
Published:11/14/2019 10:32:28 PM
[Markets] China Is About To Get Angry: US Senate To Vote Show Of Support For Hong Kong Protesters China Is About To Get Angry: US Senate To Vote Show Of Support For Hong Kong Protesters

As noted moments ago, futures ramped to new record highs rising above 3,100 following a quote from top Trump advisor Larry Kudlow, who has figured out that he gets most bang for the buck in juicing futures when liquidity is virtually nil, around 8pm or so, when he told reporters that Phase One of the China deal is "down to the short strokes", adding that "we are in communication with them every single day right now", and repeating that "a deal is close", even if "it’s not done yet."

And yet, while such Deal On/Deal Off market manipulation is nothing new and has been going on for over a year and a half, there is the possibility that China is about to be royally pissed off, if not by Trump for whom a China (non) "deal" is critical to pushing the market to all time highs just before the 2020 presidential election and thus will not dare to anger Xi Jinping over the ongoing fiasco that is Hong Kong, then by the Senate, which is preparing for quick passage of legislation to show support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong by placing the city’s special trading status with the U.S. under annual review.

According to Bloomberg, the Senate is set to bring the bill to the floor under an expedited process that would allow for quick passage unless there is an objection, according to the lead sponsor, Republican Senator Marco Rubio. And since it is unlikely anyone will object, the bill is expected to pass as early as next week.

"The world witnesses the people of Hong Kong standing up every day to defend their long-cherished freedoms against an increasingly aggressive Beijing and Hong Kong government,” Rubio said. “Now more than ever, the United States must send a clear message to Beijing that the free world stands with Hong Kongers in their struggle."

Rubio and Democratic co-sponsor, Senator Ben Cardin, have garnered broad bipartisan support for their bill, including from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, who has pressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for a swift vote. Rubio and McConnell met late Wednesday to hash out a way forward for the legislation, which would also levy sanctions on people the president finds responsible for human rights violations.

“The world needs to see that the United States will stand up and tell the Chinese Communist Party that what they are doing to the people of Hong Kong is wrong,” Risch said in a statement. “The U.S. stands with the people of Hong Kong, and I look forward to continuing to work with Senate leadership and my colleagues across the aisle to move this bill swiftly.”

While it is unclear what the Senate's vote will achieve, besides potentially removing any hope for even a "phase one" deal, Hong Kong has been paralyzed since Monday morning, when a demonstrator was shot during protests.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg notes that the White House declined to comment Thursday when asked whether Trump would sign it into law; a veto by Trump would indicate that for all the belligerent posturing, Trump and Xi have long since reached an agreement behind the scenes, whereby China "folds" to Trump's demands, while Trump refuses to intervene in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would require the State Department to certify at least once a year whether Hong Kong should keep its special status under U.S. law. This legislation is slightly different from the version passed by the House of Representatives, which means the two bills would have to be reconciled and passed by both chambers before going to President Donald Trump.

Predictably, on a day when China's president Xi said that "stopping the storm and restoring order" in Hong Kong is the most urgent task for Hong Kong, once again raising the possibility of military intervention by the PLA, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday warned of retaliation if the measure passes Congress, adding that China will take resolute measures to safeguard its interests, and repeating that the US should immediately stop interference in Hong Kong issues.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 22:45
Tags
Published:11/14/2019 10:02:00 PM
[Markets] Asia Markets: Asian markets gain after Kudlow says trade deal near Asian markets advanced in early trading Friday after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said a U.S.-China trade deal was close.
Published:11/14/2019 10:02:00 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Trade deal close, Kudlow says, but Trump isn’t sold on it yet The U.S. and China are nearing a trade deal, but President Donald Trump isn’t ready to sign off, White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow said Thursday.
Published:11/14/2019 9:32:03 PM
[Markets] PBS Frontline's "In The Age of AI" Exposes Big-Tech's Ongoing Abuse Of Public Trust PBS Frontline's "In The Age of AI" Exposes Big-Tech's Ongoing Abuse Of Public Trust

Authored by B.N.Frank via AcivistPost.com,

You won’t see cell phones or personal computers much in movies or TV shows until the late 1990s because most people didn’t own them.  Of course most people didn’t need them either.  If you couldn’t afford a “home phone” – pay phones usually weren’t hard to find.  Anyone who needed to be “on call” – like doctors – wore pagers.

People who grew up without new technology know firsthand that it has made the world better in some ways. 

We also know that it has made it worse in others.  People who never knew the world without new technology have been conditioned to believe that all of it is necessary as well as beneficial.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  5G is very dangerous (see 1234, 56, 7, 8).  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is associated with many risks as well.

There will always be people who want more technology regardless of the human and environmental consequences.  Those kinds of people are not going to like Frontline’s “In the Age of AI”.

FRONTLINE investigates the promise and perils of artificial intelligence, from fears about work and privacy to rivalry between the U.S. and China. The documentary traces a new industrial revolution that will reshape and disrupt our lives, our jobs and our world, and allow the emergence of the surveillance society.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 22:25
Published:11/14/2019 9:32:03 PM
[Markets] DHS Expects To Have The Biometrics Data Of 259 Million People By 2022 DHS Expects To Have The Biometrics Data Of 259 Million People By 2022

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects to have face, fingerprint, and iris scans of at least 259 million people in its biometrics database by 2022. Is there any way to escape the mass surveillance and tracking that George Orwell warned us all about in his iconic book, 1984?

The Orwellian police state is upon us, but don’t expect it to improve at all.  In fact, as George Orwell said: “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

According to a recent presentation from the DHS’s Office of Procurement Operations which was reviewed by Quartz, the 259 million in the database is about 40 million more than the agency’s 2017 projections. In those estimates, the agency expected to have the data of 220 million unique identities by 2022, according to previous figures cited by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a San Francisco-based privacy rights nonprofit.

The agency is transitioning from a legacy system called IDENT to a cloud-based system (hosted by Amazon Web Services) known as Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology, or HART. The biometrics collection maintained by DHS is the world’s second-largest, behind only India’s countrywide biometric ID network in size. The traveler data kept by DHS is shared with other US agencies, state and local law enforcement, as well as foreign governments. –Quartz

Your data hasn’t been private for a long time and it won’t be ever again as long as governments believe they are allowed to hoard it – all in the name of keeping you safe, of course. The first two stages of the HART system are being developed by United States defense contractor Northrop Grumman, which won the $95 million contract in February 2018. DHS wasn’t immediately available to comment on its plans for its database.

Biometrics “make it possible to confirm the identity of travelers at any point in their travel,” Kevin McAleenan, US President Donald Trump’s recently-departed acting DHS secretary, told Congress last year. The criteria used by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officersa division of DHS, to screen out specific travelers as suspicious is top secret, but was determined in conjunction with Palantir, the Silicon Valley data-mining firm co-founded by controversial billionaire and ardent Trump supporter Peter Thiel. The EFF said it believes CBP could be tracking travelers “from the moment they begin their internet travel research.” As the group has noted, DHS says “the only way for an individual to ensure he or she is not subject to collection of biometric information when traveling internationally is to refrain from traveling.” –Quartz

Last month’s DHS presentation describes IDENT as an “operational biometric system for rapid identification and verification of subjects using fingerprints, iris, and face modalities.” According to further reporting by Quartz, the new HART database “builds upon the foundational functionality within IDENT,” to include voice data, DNA profiles, “scars, marks, and tattoos,” and the as-yet-undefined “other biometric modalities as required.” EFF researchers caution some of the data will be “highly subjective,” such as information gleaned during “officer encounters” and analysis of people’s “relationship patterns.”

So basically, if you ever leave your house, expect the government to track and monitor your every move and make sure “highly subjective” information is used to ensure you remain enslaved. The “land of free?” I hardly think so.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 21:45
Published:11/14/2019 9:02:01 PM
[Markets] Asian shares rise as Kudlow comments lift trade hopes Asian stocks jumped on Friday, propelled by a record S&P 500 finish and White House comments suggesting Washington and Beijing were close to striking a trade deal, reviving hopes the tariff war may near an end. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday that Washington was getting close to a trade agreement with China, providing a fillip to investor confidence. Published:11/14/2019 8:31:19 PM
[Markets] Russia Says BRICS Seeking Common, Non-Dollar Payment System Russia Says BRICS Seeking Common, Non-Dollar Payment System

The fracturing of the global economy and de-dollarization appear to be full-steam ahead. 

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, simplified as BRICS, are five emerging national economies that are developing a new universal payment system to challenge the US' SWIFT international payment network, a Russian official was quoted by Reuters on Thursday.  

Russia's de-dollarization effort has gained momentum in the last several years, in line with President Putin's commitment to reduce the country's vulnerability to the continuing threat of US sanctions. But it's not just Russia who wants to lessen their dependence on dollars for trade, it's the entire economic bloc. 

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said, "increasing non-market risks of the global payment infrastructure" is behind the push to develop a new international payment system for BRICS peers. 

"An efficient BRICS payment system can encourage payments in national currencies and ensure sustainable payments and investments among our countries, which make up over 20% of the global inflow of foreign direct investment," Dmitriev said.

Dmitriev said BRICS peers have also been discussing a new common cryptocurrency for mutual payments as another workaround to the dollar. 

He said Russia had made a considerable effort over the last several years to reduce dollars in foreign trade. In the last several years, Russian foreign trade payments in dollars have dropped to 50% from 92%, while rouble transactions have jumped from14% to 3%, he added. 

On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Kolychev was quoted by Reuters as saying the Russian sovereign wealth fund will reduce US Dollars and is studying whether it should add Chinese yuan.  

Last month, Russian Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin told the Financial Times that the country would continue down the path of de-dollarization and begin trading some oil transactions in Euros and roubles.

Russia's desire to abandon the dollar is a trend that continues to flourish -- now it appears BRICS peers could be following down the same path. This will certainly irritate Washington. 

 

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 21:25
Published:11/14/2019 8:31:18 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Rise With China Trade Deal 'Close': Applied Materials, RH Lead 5 Stocks With Big News Stock futures rose on China trade news. Apple dipped and RH stock leapt on Warren Buffett moves. Nvidia and Applied Materials were active on earnings. An FDA panel backed an Amarin drug. Published:11/14/2019 8:01:59 PM
[Markets] Dems Aren't Going To Condemn This Trump-Putin Cooperation Dems Aren't Going To Condemn This Trump-Putin Cooperation

Independent journalist David Mizner notes "Dems aren't going to criticize this Trump-Putin cooperation" as Moscow has now recognized Jeanine Añez as Bolivia’s self-declared interim president until the protest-wracked South American nation’s next elections.

This came two days after Washington did the same, with Acting Assistant Secretary for US Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Michael Kozak being the first to announce Tuesday, “Acting Senate Presidetn Anez has assumed responsibilities of Interim Constitutional President of Bolivia.” 

Kozak added, “We look forward to working with her and Bolivia’s other civilian authorities as they arrange free and fair elections as soon as possible, in accordance with Bolivia’s constitution.” And on Wednesday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also congratulated Añez as Evo supporters clashed in the streets with riot police. 

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted in RIA Novosti news agency as saying, “Russia will perceive Mrs. Añez as Bolivia’s leader, but only until the elections.”

This despite Ryabkov expressing that Russia views the series of events which led to President Evo Morales' ouster as tantamount to a state coup. He said Moscow “took into account that there was no quorum in the parliament at the time of her confirmation in this position.” 

Interestingly, it appears Russia is taking a route of pragmatic acquiescence, perhaps given Evo is already in Mexico where he was provided political asylum, and Bolivia's army is now firmly in support of Anez. In the case of socialist Venezuela, it must be remembered, where the US recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaido as 'interim president' and has led failed coup efforts, Russia has firmly stuck by President Nicolás Maduro.

Former president Morales was quick to respond from his place of asylum in Mexico that Añez is a “coup-mongering right-wing senator” and said his supporters' attempts to access the Senate had been denied. Morales also called the series of events which led to his rapid ouster at the start of the week "the sneakiest, most nefarious coup in history."

Meanwhile security forces have vowed to take back the streets, deploying heavily in the administrative capital of La Paz, where throngs of angry Morales supporters squared off against police. The US embassy has evacuated all non-essential personnel according to reports, as pro-Evo socialist demonstrators have vowed to reject the "right-wing coup".

The White House had been quick to issue a statement on Morales' ouster, describing it as a “significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere”.

On Thursday Añez took the further provocative move of declaring that Evo Morales would not be welcome in any new elections, which she would like to see held soon. Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) party would be allowed to participate, but “They should start searching for a candidate,” she said, according to Reuters.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 20:45
Published:11/14/2019 8:01:59 PM
[Markets] Asian shares rise, but gains capped by weak sentiment Asian equities rose on Friday after the S&P 500 index notched a new record closing high, but investor sentiment remained fragile following weak data from China and Germany, which reinforced concerns about the global economy. Providing a fillip to investor confidence in Asia were comments from White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow that Washington was getting close to a trade agreement with China. Published:11/14/2019 7:32:38 PM
[Markets] MarketWatch First Take: Nvidia is past the downturn, but how strong will the rebound be? Nvidia Corp. has completely escaped the crypto hangover. The question now is what happens on the other side.
Published:11/14/2019 7:32:38 PM
[Markets] Trump Impeachment Is Blueprint To Overthrow Government From Within Trump Impeachment Is Blueprint To Overthrow Government From Within

Authored by Jenna Ellis Rives, op-ed via The Hill,

The House began public hearings this week, furthering the partisan move by the Democrats to impeach President Trump in a blatant abuse of constitutional authority. Representative Adam Schiff said in a press conference, “These open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves and also to learn firsthand about the facts of the president’s misconduct.”

There are several problems with this statement.

First, Schiff is already characterizing the outcome of the investigation. As the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he serves as a key arbiter of the inquiry under the resolution. As such, he is in a position that demands an unbiased irreproachable ethic in evaluating requests for subpoenas and testimony. Any judge in a similar position would be required to recuse himself with even a hint of the pure bias Schiff has displayed, including coordination with the Ukraine whistleblower and other actions.

The Democrats do not even pretend that their impeachment game is fair or actually about fact finding. This is simply about using a grant of power in the Constitution arbitrarily and politically, outside the bounds of due process and the purpose of that authority. Although the House does have the “sole power” of impeachment, that is a grant of jurisdiction, not a license to proceed on purely partisan motivation. Article One must work coordinately and not inconsistently with Article Two, which provides the legal basis upon which a sitting president may be impeached.

Second, Schiff demonstrates this is all about media play in the court of public opinion. Voters have no power or responsibility in an impeachment proceeding. The drafters of the Constitution intended the impeachment and removal process to be exercised only when there was sufficient evidence that the subject of the impeachment had committed a legally qualifying offense. This is not about whether impeachment is popular in the polls or whether a majority of Americans prefer it. Transparency in the context of this quasi judicial process is to provide fundamental fairness and due process for the president. Why are the Democrats so hellbent on blatantly refusing to allow Republican subpoenas and witnesses?

It is because it is a sham. Yet the Democrats are openly admitting that their goal is to try this in the media and attempt to dishonestly convince us that somehow we too should hate Donald Trump. They are hoping to convince us not to vote for him. That is not a legitimate or constitutional purpose of an impeachment. It is rather ironic that they claim his “crime” is an alleged quid pro quo to gain political advantage, while they are manipulating the power of impeachment for their political advantage. It is Schiff and other Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who should be impeached. There is an actual constitutional basis for that.

Third, Schiff is proving beyond doubt that this entire impeachment is merely a coordinated partisan attack against President Trump and, even more importantly, against the government of the United States. There was a bipartisan effort was against impeachment, with two Democrats and all Republicans in the House voting against the inquiry. The Democrats are abusing the power of impeachment and, if they are allowed to move forward, they are not only setting a terrible precedent that impeachment can be wielded as a political weapon that it was never intended to be, but also attacking the Constitution and undermining the rule of law.

In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton explained the problem of political motivation with the power of impeachment. He wrote,

“A well constituted court for the trial of impeachments, is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties, more or less friendly or inimical, to the accused.”

He was right. Schiff and Pelosi are not interested in real demonstrations of innocence or guilt. Their only interest is staging a political coup against their adversaries. But this is even bigger than the president. This is an attempt to overthrow the federal government from the inside.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 20:25
Tags
Published:11/14/2019 7:32:38 PM
[Markets] Ukraine For Dummies (And Congressmen) Ukraine For Dummies (And Congressmen)

Authored by Ray McGovern via ConsortiumNews.com,

At Wednesday’s debut of the impeachment hearings there was one issue upon which both sides of the aisle seemed to agree, and it was a comic-book caricature of reality.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff led off the proceedings with this:

“In 2014, Russia invaded a United States ally, Ukraine, to reverse that nation’s embrace of the West, and to fulfill Vladimir Putin’s desire to rebuild a Russian empire…”

Five years ago, when Ukraine first came into the news, those Americans who thought Ukraine was an island in the Pacific can perhaps be forgiven. That members of the House Intelligence Committee don’t know — or pretend not to know — more accurate information about Ukraine is a scandal, and a consequential one.

As Professor Stephen Cohen has warned, if the impeachment process does not deal in objective fact, already high tensions with Russia are likely to become even more dangerous.

So here is a kind of primer for those who might be interested in some Ukraine history:

  • Late 1700s: Catherine the Great consolidated her rule; established Russia’s first and only warm-water naval base in Crimea.

  • In 1919, after the Bolshevik Revolution, Moscow defeated resistance in Ukraine and the country becomes one of 15 Republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

  • In 1954, after Stalin’s death the year before, Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian, assumed power. Pandering to Ukrainian supporters, he unilaterally decreed that henceforth Crimea would be part of the Ukrainian SSR, not the Russian SSR. Since all 15 Republics of the USSR were under tight rule from Moscow, the switch was a distinction without much of a difference — until later, when the USSR fell apart..

Khrushchev: Gave Ukraine away. (Wikipedia)

  • Nov. 1989: Berlin wall down.

  • Dec. 2-3, 1989: President George H. W. Bush invites Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to summit talks in Malta; reassures him “the U.S. will not take advantage” of Soviet troubles in Eastern Europe. Bush had already been pushing the idea of a Europe whole and free, from Portugal to Vladivostok.

A Consequential Quid Pro Quo

  • Feb. 7-10, 1990: Secretary of State James Baker negotiates a quid pro quo; Soviet acceptance of the bitter pill of a reunited Germany (inside NATO), in return for an oral U.S. promise not to enlarge NATO “one inch more” to the East.

  • Dec. 1991: the USSR falls apart. Suddenly it does matter that Khrushchev gave Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR; Moscow and Kyiv work out long-term arrangements for the Soviet navy to use the naval base at Sevastopol.

  • The quid pro quo began to unravel in October 1996 during the last weeks of President Bill Clinton’s campaign when he said he would welcome Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO — the earlier promise to Moscow notwithstanding. Former U.S. Ambassador to the USSR Jack Matlock, who took part in both the Bush-Gorbachev early-December 1989 summit in Malta and the Baker-Gorbachev discussions in early February 1990, has said, “The language used was absolute, including no ‘taking advantage’ by the U.S. … I don’t see how anybody could view the subsequent expansion of NATO as anything but ‘taking advantage,’ particularly since, by then, Russia was hardly a credible threat.” (From 16 members in 1990, NATO has grown to 29 member states — the additional 13 all lie east of Germany.)

  • Feb. 1, 2008: Amid rumors of NATO planning to offer membership to Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warns U.S. Ambassador William Burns that “Nyet Means Nyet.” Russia will react strongly to any move to bring Ukraine or Georgia into NATO. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we have Burns’s original cable from embassy in Moscow.

  • April 3, 2008: Included in Final Declaration from NATO summit in Bucharest: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”

  • Early September 2013: Putin helps Obama resist neocon demands to do “shock and awe” on Syria; Russians persuade President Bashar al-Assad to give up Syrian army chemical weapons for destruction on a U.S. ship outfitted for chemical weapons destruction. Neocons are outraged over failing to mousetrap Obama into attacking Syria.

Meanwhile in Ukraine

  • Dec. 2013: In a speech to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland says: “The United States has supported Ukraine’s European aspirations. … We have invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.”

  • Feb. 4, 2014: Amid rioting on the Maidan in Kiev, YouTube carries Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s last minute instructions to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt regarding the U.S. pick for new Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk (aka “Yats”) and other plans for the imminent coup d’etat in Kiev.  (See: ) When Pyatt expresses concern about EU misgivings about mounting a coup, Nuland says “Fuck the EU.” She then apologizes to the EU a day or two later — for the profanity, not for the coup. She also says that Vice President Joe Biden will help “glue this thing together”, meaning the coup.

  • Feb. 22, 2014: Coup d’etat in Kyiv; appropriately labeled “the most blatant coup in history” by George Friedman, then President of the widely respected think-tank STRATFOR.

  • Feb. 23, 2014: The date that NATO, Western diplomats, and the corporate media have chosen – disingenuously – as the beginning of recent European history, with silence about the coup orchestrated in Kyiv the day before. President Vladimir Putin returns to Moscow from the winter olympics in Sochi; confers with advisers about Crimea, deciding — unlike Khrushchev in 1954 — to arrange a plebiscite to let the people of Crimea, most of whom strongly opposed the coup regime, decide their own future.

  • March 16, 2014: The official result from the voters in Crimea voted overwhelmingly for independence from Ukraine and to join Russia. Following the referendum, Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation. On March 18, the Russian Federal Assembly ratified the incorporation of Crimea into Russia.

  • In the following days, Putin made it immediately (and publicly) clear that Yatsenyuk’s early statement about Ukraine joining NATO and – even more important – the U.S./NATO plans to deploy ABM systems around Russia’s western periphery and in the Black Sea, were the prime motivating forces behind the post-referendum re-incorporation of Crimea into Russia.

    Putin: Reacted to coup. (Russian government)

  • No one with rudimentary knowledge of Russian history should have been surprised that Moscow would take no chances of letting NATO grab Crimea and Russia’s only warm-water naval base. The Nuland neocons seized on the opportunity to accuse Russia of aggression and told obedient European governments to follow suit. Washington could not persuade its European allies to impose stringent sanctions on Russia, though, until the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 over Ukraine.

Airplane Downed; 298 Killed

  • July 17, 2014: MH 17 shot down

  • July 20, 2014: Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC’s David Gregory, “We picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing. And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar.” The U.S., however, has not shared any evidence of this.

  • Given the way U.S. intelligence collectors had been focused, laser-like, on that part of the Ukrainian-Russian border at that time, it is a near certainty that the U.S. has highly relevant intelligence regarding what actually happened and who was most likely responsible. If that intelligence supported the accusations made by Kerry, it would almost certainly have been publicized.

  • Less than two weeks after the shoot-down, the Europeans were persuaded to impose sanctions that hurt their own businesses and economies about as much as they hurt Russia’s – and far more than they hurt the U.S. There is no sign that, in succumbing to U.S. pressure, the Europeans mustered the courage to ask for a peek at the “intelligence” Kerry bragged about on NBC TV.

  • Oct. 27, 2016: Putin speaks at the Valdai International Discussion Club.

How did the “growing trust” that Russian President Putin wrote about in his September 11, 2013 New York Times op-ed evaporate?

How did what Putin called his close “working and personal relationship with President Obama” change into today’s deep distrust and saber-rattling? A short three years later after the close collaboration to resolve the Syrian problem peacefully, Putin spoke of the “feverish” state of international relations and lamented: “My personal agreements with the President of the United States have not produced results.” And things have gone downhill from there.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 19:45
Published:11/14/2019 7:01:55 PM
[Markets] South Korea Slaughters 380,000 Pigs After China's Pig Ebola Crosses Border  South Korea Slaughters 380,000 Pigs After China's Pig Ebola Crosses Border 

Cross-border transmissions of African swine fever is becoming a significant issue across Asia.

Just last week, we warned about China exporting the hog-killing disease to Russia. Now it appears North Korea, a country that borders China, has already exported the virus to South Korea. 

South Korean authorities have been scrambling to contain the outbreak since mid-September.  

A new report from Reuters, indicates 380,000 pigs have been slaughtered since the end of September, in the northern region bordering North Korea.

Already, the government has led a significant effort to slaughter nearly 3% of the country's pig herd to prevent further spread. The first swine-fever case emerged in mid-September. 

Woo Hee-jong, a veterinary professor at Seoul National University, said government authorities aggressively killed pigs in the northern region to prevent the spread to large pig farms in the southern part of the country.

As of October 10, swine fever cases were zero, and the attempt to prevent a further outbreak might have worked but has come at the cost of 380,000 pigs. 

So far, there are no reports of wild boar infected with the disease, but if that were the case, then the spread across the country would become unstoppable. 

The epicenter of the hog-killing disease started in China, where authorities have killed at least 50% of its pig herd this year. 

The cross-border spread of African swine fever from China to Russia; China to North Korea; and now North Korea to South Korea suggests the virus is becoming uncontrollable for governments. 

The spread of the virus across China has already led to skyrocketing food prices for pork, and rapid food inflation is likely to be seen in neighboring countries. 

Meanwhile, the US is sitting on record cold storage of pork bellies, something that China, Russia, North/South Korea might be interested in... 

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 19:25
Published:11/14/2019 6:35:26 PM
[Markets] SolarCity Lawsuit Reveals Almost All Of Elon Musk's Merger Promises Were "Misleading Or False" SolarCity Lawsuit Reveals Almost All Of Elon Musk's Merger Promises Were "Misleading Or False"

As we dive further into the depositions and discovery documents from the ongoing SolarCity lawsuit, it becomes clearer and clearer that the transaction was simply a bailout of Elon Musk's cousin and SolarCity shareholders, and that much of the hype surrounding the idea in the first place was drummed up solely to create enthusiasm for the deal.  

And now, even the media is starting to notice, with Bloomberg's Dana Hull saying that the thousands of pages of documents released via the lawsuit "show that the CEO’s promises about SolarCity were misleading or false."

"The move was called a catastrophe for Tesla, a $2 billion-plus bailout of a debt-saddled company of which Musk himself was chairman and the largest shareholder," Hull reminds us. 

The merger was pitched a different way to Tesla shareholders. Elon Musk called it "blindingly obvious" and a "no brainer" at the time.

But it seems even Musk has come to terms with what he has done, though. In a deposition, Musk reversed his course on the acquisition, stating: “At the time I thought it made strategic sense for Tesla and SolarCity to combine. Hindsight is 20-20. If I could wind back the clock, you know, I would say [I] probably would have let SolarCity execute by itself.”

And the shareholders that approved the deal to begin with really only had Musk's word to go on. Musk told shareholders that the idea of combining the two companies was always part of his master plan and that it would create the world's first vertically integrated clean energy company. The idea was that Tesla driving consumers would go home to their solar paneled homes to charge their vehicles.

And if you don't support that utopian image, you must hate the environment. 

The SolarCity deal was consummated about 3 years ago this month and now, looking back, it's easy to see that "almost every significant promise Musk pitched publicly [was] either misleading or false."

The situation behind the scenes for SolarCity was called "dire" and Hull says that "the documents in the lawsuit offer an unprecedented look at what happens when Musk’s reality-distortion field comes up against the reality of testifying under oath."

Musk said publicly that SolarCity was on solid financial footing, but then behind the scenes was saying that it needed to solve its "liquidity crisis". SolarCity was, of course, burning cash and in danger of defaulting on its debt.

Tesla's board - and Evercore, who the company hired to evaluate the deal - both thought it wasn't a good idea. But Evercore, like everyone else involved in the public markets, gave way to Elon Musk's decision making. “It’s Elon’s world. We just live in it,” an Evercore banker wrote in one email. 

Even Tesla's CFO spoke out against the idea: “We have Model 3 happening. We have a lot of things going on. We ourselves have a large debt load. Why do we need to do this now, Elon?”

On top of that was the obvious conflicts of interest:

Besides his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive running SolarCity, its board and Tesla’s had complicated overlaps. Six of Tesla’s seven directors were Musk associates (including his brother, Kimbal) with SolarCity ties. Antonio Gracias was on the board of both companies. What’s more, Musk had used his other entities to raise capital for SolarCity: SpaceX, for example, had purchased $255 million of SolarCity bonds. Musk bought $65 million worth. Tesla’s directors had to grapple with this apparent self-dealing as Musk pushed them to reconsider the acquisition in May 2016. Musk said he recused himself from these deliberations, but court filings indicate he remained actively involved, even advocating for the move directly with bankers and investors.

But this didn't stop Musk from coming up with the idea of the Solar Roof (debunked by one solar expert in a podcast here and here) to try and win over shareholders. Musk showed off the product in 2016 to an impressed audience but it was later revealed the demos weren't functional. Regardless, the acquisition received approval several weeks later. 

The roof was supposed to be central to the merger, but Tesla has still failed to develop a mass market version of the product and high volume manufacturing has been delayed several times over the last few years. Tesla and SolarCity Director Antonio Gracias said there were only “50 to 100 of these things operating today in tests on people’s roofs.”

Meanwhile, last year, the company's head of energy, Sanjay Shah, said he had "high confidence" they were on track to ramp up solar roof production in 2019. He said if more delays came up, “we will be more transparent than ever before to make sure you guys hear from us why.”

We can't wait for that explanation. 

Musk claimed in his deposition that Shah was actually focused on Model 3 development during his time at Tesla. 

Tesla executives also knew that the SolarCity acquisition would be risky. In a 2017 memo, Tesla's top brass exchanged talking points in a memo, saying the acquisition "wasn't a bailout" and that "family-run businesses can lead to long-term success".

“The collaboration has been great,” the memo says, stating that development was "going extremely well". 

But SolarCity was falling apart behind the scenes. In Q4 2017, solar deployments fell by 56% YOY and Tesla had gutted the company's sales team. The Rive brothers left the company after the merger and Musk admitted that despite "synergies", he had redeployed much of the SolarCity staff to work on the Model 3 launch. 

"We’re turning our attention to solar, and we’re going to fix it,” Musk said in a deposition, when asked.

When the plaintiff's lawyer asked for more details, Musk called him "shameful" and a "very, very bad person". 

Musk seems ready to go to trial. “I can’t wait. It will be great. You’re going to lose,” he told the plaintiff's counsel.

We can only hope this trial is nationally televised. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 18:45
Published:11/14/2019 6:00:51 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Applied Materials, RH Lead Four Big Movers Late; Amarin Drug Gets Big Win After Hours: Apple dipped and RH stock leapt on Warren Buffett moves. Chip leaders Nvidia and Applied Materials were active on earnings. An FDA panel backed an Amarin drug. Published:11/14/2019 6:00:51 PM
[Markets] Peak Hubris Peak Hubris

Authored by Paul Edwards via Counterpunch.org,

“Hubris” is defined as rash and foolish pride, a dangerous overconfidence, manifested with arrogance.  The Deep State vaunts our “exceptionalism”, and since Reagan’s “City on a HIll” trope Americans have been assured by all succeeding Presidents that ours is the “indispensible nation”. The word describes the way America sells itself to the world, and has for generations.