Authored by Tom Luongo, Last week, Venezuela announced it would develop a national cryptocurrency backed by its oil reserves, the Petro. Now there is a report that Russia is considering the same thing. Iran will likely follow suit. As of right now this is just a rumor, but it makes some sense. So, let’s treat this rumor as fact for the sake of argument and see where it leads us. The U. S. continues to sanction and threaten all of these countries for daring to challenge the global status quo. There is no denying this. And so much of what we see in the geopolitical headlines are knock-on effects of this challenge. The Geopolitical ‘Why’ From the Middle East to North Korea, the Dutch changing their laws to block Nordstream 2 to the Saudis breaking off relations with Qatar, everything you read about in the news is a move on the geopolitical ‘Go’ board.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.
In November, we discussed how the post-Party Congress measures to deleverage and crackdown on the worst abuses in China’s credit bubble took an important step forward with the announcement of a new era of regulation for China’s $15 trillion shadow banking and asset management industry. See “A New Era In Chinese Regulation Means Turmoil For $15 Trillion In China’s Shadows”. In particular, the authorities turned their sights on wealth management products (WMPs). *** On the way out are ‘guaranteed returns’ and ‘capital pools’ which had turned the $4 trillion sector into a leveraged Ponzi scheme. We joked that in a ‘radical and shocking’ departure from the norm, financial institutions would have to offer yields based on the risk and returns of the underlying assets. Paying out guaranteed returns with new funds from depositors would no longer be allowed.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.
On Monday, HSBC announced its deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) had expired, removing the threat of criminal prosecution for money laundering which had been hanging over the company for five years. From the Financial Times. The US Department of Justice has given HSBC a major boost by seeking dismissal of the deferred criminal charges that have been hanging over the bank since it was fined for money laundering and sanctions breaches five years ago. The move by the DoJ lifts the threat of criminal prosecution that had been a ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging over London-headquartered HSBC, as its new management team looks to put its misconduct-plagued past behind it. HSBC said the DoJ would file a motion with the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York seeking the dismissal of the charges deferred by the agreement it reached as part of a settlement with the bank in December 2012. The deferred prosecution agreement meant the DoJ could have reopened the criminal case against HSBC if the bank had been caught breaching the rules again during that period.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.
Criminalizing a bit of Christmas fun has to make you wonder. Is there any aspect of our life left into which the police state does not intrude? Parents are regulated as to how they discipline their children. Spankings that were the tool of choice in my day are now illegal. Spanking is considered child abuse and can result in state seizure of the child and prosecution of the parent. The state prescribes the terms on which children can be transported in cars. The cars themselves can only be designed within safety and fuel economy parameters determined by the state. The unsupervised children at play of my generation no longer exist outside of small towns. Not that long ago I reported on the arrest of a mother on the grounds that she permited an underage kid to play unsupervised in the front yard of the home on a cul-de-sac. The arrest was made on the false report of a neighbor. The police seized the opportunity to arrest a mother on the basis of ‘failure to supervise an underage child.’ The family was traumatized. The mother was put in jail, the child in Child Protective Custody, and the father rushed home from work to see if he could rescue his family from the intrusion of the American Police State. It has happened to many, and Americans sit there sucking their thumbs, hoping the lion will choose another antelope.
As I indicated in a recent article, the B-team, or even the C-team, is now heading up the national evening news in America. These anchors’ faces and voices (Muir, Glor, and Holt) are not even faint reminders of the so-called Golden Age, when father figures like Cronkite and Reasoner fed official truth into the brains of viewers. The new C-team is vague gloss from a paint job on a used car. This is an ominous sign for the news bosses in the upstairs suites. They can’t find adequate hypnotists anymore. What happened? Many things – among them, the father figures left the fold. They decided to sell real estate or take corporate work in PR. They saw the handwriting on the wall: the networks were fostering a youth movement, seeking younger and prettier talent. Why? Because Madison Avenue was convinced the younger viewer demographic was the important one, in terms of consumer buying power. Therefore, on-air news faces had to be younger as well. This sounded right, but it overlooked one vital fact. The young news anchors couldn’t pull off the appropriate level of mind control. They were merely bland robots. Friendly, nice, literate to the point of being able read copy. (Lester Holt at NBC is a bit older, but he comes across as a corpse someone dug up at a cemetery for a role in a Frankenstein remake.) There is another gross miscalculation. The commercials, between news segments, are overwhelmingly pharmaceutical. Those drugs aren’t intended for the youth demographic. They’re for the middle-aged and the seniors, who want to toxify themselves for the rest of their lives. So the commercials are playing to the older crowd, while the faces of the news are supposedly attracting younger viewers. It’s a mess. The news execs and programmers really have no idea what they’re doing.
MODERN JUGGERNAUTS LIKE APPLE DON’T EVEN COME CLOSE The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays. *** Before speculative bubbles could form around Dotcom companies (late-1990s) or housing prices (mid-2000s), Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes that some of the first financial bubbles formed from the prospect of trading with faraway lands. Looking back, it’s pretty easy to see why. Companies like the Dutch East India Company (known in Dutch as the VOC, or Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) were granted monopolies on trade, and they engaged in daring voyages to mysterious and foreign places. They could acquire exotic goods, establish colonies, create military forces, and even initiate wars or conflicts around the world. Of course, the very nature of these risky ventures made getting any accurate indication of intrinsic value nearly impossible, which meant there were no real benchmarks for what companies like this should be worth.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.
You grew up wanting so bad to be Luke Skywalker, but you realize that you were basically a Stormtrooper, a faceless, nameless rifleman, carrying a spear for empire, and you start to accept the startlingly obvious truth that these are people like you. Question: How do you Americans as a people walk around head held high, knowing that every few months your country is committing a 9/11 size atrocity to other people. Imagine if the 9/11 terror attacks were happening in America every few months. Again and again, innocent people dying all around you. Your brothers and sisters. For no reason. Daniel Crimmins from U. S. Army 3rd Infantry Division answered: Many of us are unable. Many of us watched 9/11, and accepted the government and media’s definition of the attack as a act of war rather than a criminal action. A smaller portion, drifting along passively thought a major war was coming, that people we knew were going to fight and die. Some of us maybe worried about our younger brother being drafted, despite being in college. Now, it seems stupid, but in the 72 hours after 9/11, some Americans, maybe suffering from depression, certainly with a mind shaped by comic books and action movies, ate up the ‘us vs. them’ good vs. evil rhetoric spouted by the cowboy in chief. After all, he was the president, and no matter how bright you might think yourself, you can still be swayed by passion and emotion, led to terrible decisions.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 10, 2017.
Authored by Alexander Mercouris via TheDuran.com, Almost eighteen months after Obama’s Justice Department and the FBI launched the Russiagate investigation, and seven months after Special Counsel Robert Mueller took the investigation over, the sum total of what it has achieved is as follows: (1) an indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates which concerns entirely their prior financial dealings, and which makes no reference to the Russiagate collusion allegations; (2) an indictment for lying to the FBI of George Papadopoulos, the junior volunteer staffer of the Trump campaign, who during the 2016 Presidential election had certain contacts with members of a Moscow based Russian NGO, which he sought to pass off – falsely and unsuccessfully – as more important than they really were, and which also does not touch on the Russiagate collusion allegations; and (3) an indictment for lying to the FBI of Michael Flynn arising from his perfectly legitimate and entirely legal contacts with the Russian ambassador after the 2016 Presidential election, which also does not touch on the Russiagate collusion allegations, and which looks as if it was brought about by an act of entrapment. Of actual evidence to substantiate the claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election Mueller has so far come up with nothing.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 10, 2017.
According to the latest fake news from the US government and presstitute media, the US unemployment rate is the lowest in 17 years, but there is no growth in wages. What explains full, or overfull, employment without wage pressure? Obviously, the full employment figure is the orchestrated product of not counting the millions of discouraged workers who, unable to find a job, have ceased looking. If you are unemployed but not looking for a job, you are not counted as unemployed. As it is costly to look for a job, and after awhile looking becomes very depressing, the unemployed just disappear out of the government’s statistics. Will this fake news be something that google censors out of the Internet? Don’t bet your life that google hired 10,000 people to weed off the Internet the fake US employment reports. Who asked google to transform itself from search engine to gatekeeper? Is there a conspiracy here against the First Amendment? What are google’s qualifications for determining what is fake news and extremist views? Is what are we witnessing here the elite’s use of a private company to control explanations in behalf of the One Percent? How does a private company get to overrule the First Amendment of the US Constitution? Is this another example of the arrogance embodied in the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific partnerships that set up corporate tribunals to dictate environmental and other policy to sovereign governments? The elites and globalists are still determined to resurrect these agreements that destroy the sovereignty of peoples.
As you may or may not have noticed I have added a new advertiser to replace Amazon. They are called MyFinance. Sadly, none of their ads have boobs. Their ads are under every post and the Savings Rate and Mortgage Refinance ads on the sidebar are theirs. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if you checked out their ads on a regular basis to help old TBP pay the bills. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. If you get my drift. I also signed up with BJ’s online. That’s the wholesale club for you dirty minded old men. Their ad is on the right side too.
When Bakers Go Fishing Government intervention into a nation’s economy is as foolish as attempting to control the sun’s rise and fall by law or force. But that doesn’t mean governments don’t meddle each and every day with the best – and worst – of intentions. The United States government is no exception. Over the years, layers and layers of interference by various federal, state, and local agencies have built up like grime on a kitchen window. The grease shines and smells of something fierce. The layers of government grime also drip and ooze into every crack and crevice of the economy. These days, for example, it is impossible to carry out a simple private transaction with your barber or barista without some form of government interference. Has your barber obtained the required license and paid the obligatory fees to be able to legally taper your neck line? Has your barista’s espresso bean grinder passed city health inspection? Is the hot Cup of Joe served in a paper cup of appropriate recycled material composition? Did the hot beverage exceed the legally accepted temperature standard? Did state and local governments receive their tax exaction upon payment?
This post was published at Acting-Man on December 8, 2017.
Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times, Is the world’s center of gravity shifting to the heart of the Indo-Pacific – a new pivot to Asia? *** In the context of the New Great Game in Eurasia, the New Silk Roads, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), integrates all of China’s instruments of national power – political, economic, diplomatic, financial, intellectual and cultural – to shape the 21st century geopolitical/geoeconomic order. BRI is the organizing concept of China’s foreign policy for the foreseeable future; the heart of what was conceptualized, even before President Xi Jinping, as China’s ‘peaceful rise.’ The Trump administration’s reaction to the breath and scope of BRI has been somewhat minimalistic. For the moment, it amounts to a terminological switch from what was previously known as Asia-Pacific to ‘Indo-Pacific.’ The Obama administration, up to the former president’s last visit to Asia in September 2016, always referred to Asia-Pacific.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 8, 2017.
Update (5 pm ET): And so the can has been kicked again, if only for only 2 weeks. Despite a laundry list of demands from Democrats and Republicans who appeared ready to cut off government funds, a majority of the House has voted to approve a two-week extension of government spending, a modest legislative achievement that will allow Republicans to focus on their top priority: Passing comprehensive tax reform. House Republicans managed to pass the legislation on their own in the 235-193 vote, despite often coming short of securing a majority of the majority on measures to keep the government open in recent years, the Hill reorted. The spending patch through Dec. 22 gives lawmakers time to negotiate a bipartisan budget deal, although it is unclear just how another 14 days will help when the two parties are unwilling to negotiate and compromise. At that time, Which is why, Congress is expected to pass another short-term patch so that appropriators can craft a spending package to keep federal agencies funded through the rest of the 2018 fiscal year. ‘I think it’s kind of just basic governing is keeping government going while we negotiate the final details,’ said Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Ahead of Thursday’s vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made clear that Democrats wouldn’t support the two-week stopgap. Pelosi emphasized that Democrats don’t want to see a government shutdown, but couldn’t support Thursday’s bill because it doesn’t include their priorities like protections for young undocumented immigrants, funding for the opioid crisis and relief for communities affected by recent natural disasters.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 7, 2017.
If you want to ban Bitcoin because of money laundering, crime and violence, we should really ban government first. — Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) December 6, 2017
In the first two installments of this series, I discussed the potential for the U. S. federal government to make some spectacularly foolish moves against its own people in the realms of cannabis and Bitcoin. My basic assumption is that government tends to despise freedom, and that ‘leaders’ of an empire in decline like the U. S. are particularly vulnerable to very bad decisions. Government propagandists constantly instruct the public that they need to be fearful of their neighbors or some guy in a cave overseas (who they probably funded in the first place), when they themselves tend to be the most unethical, corrupt thieves of all. It’s a very clever scam. With that in mind, today’s post will zero in on what I consider to be the greatest threat to world peace going into 2018. While I remain unsure as to what the U. S. government may attempt when it comes to cannabis and Bitcoin, I’m far more concerned about the prospects of Donald Trump entangling this nation in an escalating and increasingly disastrous conflict in the Middle East. The signs are everywhere, and it’s all becoming very obvious. In fact, I’ve probably written more articles on this topic than any other in 2017.
Silicone Valley is the home to tech giants like Facebook, Apple, and Google. It’s also home to a surging working homeless population who live in dilapidated RV’s, tents, and their own cars, all thanks to the policies Democrats love to implement. The surging number of those working in Silicone Valley and still unable to afford adequate housing should be a warning about big government, but it sure doesn’t seem like anyone is taking notice as their taxes continue to rise. As governments creep toward socialism though, poverty becomes the norm, not the exception. Silicon Valley has the highest median income in the nation. But a soaring tax burden and expensive regulations have caused housing prices to increase which has also caused homelessness to surge. More than 10,000 people were living without shelter across San Jose and Santa Clara Counties on any given night in 2016, though that figure is probably low. Thanks to big government, the cost of living is not low. An influx of tech workers along with decades of under-building (thanks again to the regulations of big government) has created a historic homelessness in the Bay Area.
This post was published at shtfplan on December 7th, 2017.
As North Korea continues its saber-rattling exercises, with the latest coming via an ICBM test that confirmed the rogue nation could reach a bombing target anywhere in the continental U. S., the South has responded with similar displays of force largely consisting drills conducted in coordination with the United States military (see: In “Largest-Ever” Military Drill, US Orders 16,000 Troops, 230 Jets To Simulate War With North Korea). Now, as the Financial Times points out this morning, South Korean preparations for a potential confrontation with their northern neighbor will include the creation of a weaponized drone unit that could be used to swarm North Korea in the event of a conflict. Operated by the army, the unit will primarily engage in reconnaissance missions to survey developments at the North’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile sites, but could in future be used to launch swarm attacks, according to people familiar with the matter. The establishment of the army unit follows calls from western officials and analysts for South Korea to improve its advanced surveillance technology. ‘South Korea’s army plans to create a drone-bot combat unit in 2018 and set up a professional combat team to operate it,’ an official at the Ministry of Defence confirmed. ‘South Korea has reached a level of consensus on swarm technology, but adoption will take a while,’ said a person familiar with the military developments. ‘The army is facing [political] pressure to reduce its forces, so it has to come up with new ideas.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 6, 2017.
Just when you thought the bills coming out of this Congress could not get any more repugnant in their giveaways to the richest Americans, the U. S. Senate Banking Committee proved otherwise yesterday. The hearing to approve Senate Bill S.2155 was so tainted with doublespeak and preposterous assertions that it would beef up consumer protections, while actually slashing them to shreds, that the video of the hearing has just up and disappeared. As of 8:00 a.m. this morning, it’s not on the Senate Banking Committee website. All that we could locate to review what actually went down in this sellout-to-the-rich session was an audio recording at C-SPAN. Curiously, however, there are numerous breaks in this audio where the speaker’s comments are cut off. Typically, these occur when a Democrat is challenging some provision in the bill. C-SPAN notes that the audio ‘was produced by the U. S. Congress.’ In a shocking rebuke to their constituents, four Democrats on the Banking Committee joined with 12 Republicans to pass the measure. Those four are: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.
Via GEFIRA, The world’s third largest economy has an aging and shrinking population and will simply disappear. The low fertility is not unique to Japan. The same problem besets Taiwan, China and Korea as well as the United States and Europe. In the West the establishment has opted for population replacement. Countries like the UK, France and Sweden see a population growth only thanks to mass migration from Africa and Central Asia. The US replenished its dwindling population stock with migrants from Mexico to such an extent that in some counties Spanish is now the language of the majority. After the Second World War Japan experienced the post-war baby boom. In 1948 a law was passed, most probably serving American interests, enabling easy access to abortion. At that time the fertility rate (average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime) was more or less stable – about 2.1 – which is the level needed to maintain population. However, in 1973 it started to decline rapidly and in 2005 it reached the lowest value of 1.26; in the same year the number of deaths has been higher than the number of births. Nowadays it stands at about 1.46.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 5, 2017.