As hypersensitivity across the world reaches a fever pitch, it seems that no one is immune to accusations ranging from racism to xenophobia. Nowhere was this more evident in the past week than when well known and highly trusted economic and geopolitical analyst Marc Faber was accused of racism after publishing a recent market commentary in his monthly Gloom Boom Doom Report. As is often the case, Faber analyzes global events using historical events as reference points, which in today’s day and age of intolerantly silencing speech and tearing down monuments is a dangerous proposition for someone who speaks with such honesty and forthrightness. So dangerous, in fact, that Faber was quickly asked to resign several board seats at top financial and mining firms around the world. As well, the establishment media made it clear his views were no longer welcomed at Fox News and CNBC, where he has often shared colorful and insightful ideas for years. Though the mainstream would prefer to keep the public’s eyes closed to the reality of not only history, but where we find ourselves today and why, Future Money Trendsfeatured Marc Faber in an exclusive interview, where among his latest economic and financial outlooks, he responds directly to his accusers with the candor for which he is so affectionately known. It’s an interview that many people, especially in America, should take the time to watch because if you support the wrong political candidate, certain immigration or health care policies, traditional morals or even standing for the National Anthem, you too have been, directly or indirectly, accused of spreading hate and racism just as has been the case with Dr. Faber.
This post was published at shtfplan on October 22nd, 2017.
If the fate of Gawker is any indication, the multiplying sex crime probes involving Harvey Weinstein are just the beginning of the disgraced studio head’s legal problems. As the number of Weinstein accusers – women who are alleging Weinstein harassed them, groped them or sexually assaulted them – has swelled to more than 50, Legalist – a startup backed by Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and possibly the world’s best-known gay conservative (sorry, Milo) – has offered a $100,000 bounty to any victim with a ‘valid sexual harassment claim’ against the disgraced movie mogul, according to the New York Post.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 20, 2017.
This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Alhambra Investments. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission. I really don’t think people quite understand just how much trouble China is in right now. That’s no mystery because in the Western media the Chinese economy is almost always described as somewhere between awesome and magnificent (only slight hyperbole). Their government, on the other hand, is not fooled. General Secretary Xi Jinping opened the Communist Party’s 19th Congress with an amazing speech. It wasn’t amazing in the respect of soaring rhetoric announcing some actual, concrete commitment to freedom and free markets; it was instead the opening bell for, I think, a very different world outlook. I write for my column tomorrow that it was in some cursory way reminiscent of the Trump candidacy. On the surface, it almost seemed as if Xi Jinping was channeling Donald Trump. Opening China’s 19th Party Congress this week, the Communist General Secretary of that Congress talked a lot about ‘rejuvenation.’ The word recalled the 2016 US Presidential campaign and the Republican’s promise to ‘make America great again.’
Last week, Donald Trump signed a new executive order facilitating more flexibility for consumers of health insurance. The order allows for more flexibility in purchasing insurance across state lines, and greater freedom both small businesses and groups of consumers in creating “association health plans” (AHPs). In theory, this will broaden access to the benefits currently enjoyed only by those with employment-based insurance, and other types of group insurance. The order paves the way for healthcare reforms long favored by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul who believes the reforms will help bring down healthcare costs. In an op-ed for Breitbart, Paul writes: Millions of Americans will be eligible to band together to demand less-expensive insurance. The 28 million individuals left behind by Obamacare will now be eligible for inexpensive insurance. How will it work? Well, nationwide associations like the National Restaurant Association will be allowed to form groups across state lines and, with the leverage of size, demand Big Insurance bring down their outrageous premiums.
ISIS is currently plotting a ‘new 9/11’ style attack that would once again see American planes brought down in order to cause ‘maximum devastation’ warned acting Homeland Security Chief Elaine Duke. Speaking during a stop at the US embassy in London, Duke claimed that recent intelligence has shown that the terror group wants a ‘big explosion’ like that of 9/11 rather than the horrific but geopolitically minor attacks seen in recent years. ‘The terrorist organizations, be it ISIS or others, want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11 . They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that,’ Duke said before going on to also warn that ISIS has in no means abandoned smaller scale attacks. ‘However, in the interim they need to keep their finances flowing and they need to keep their visibility high and they need to keep their members engaged, so they are using small plots and they are happy to have small plots.’
This post was published at shtfplan on October 19th, 2017.
Former President George W. Bush came out swinging against the current administration on Thursday, and while he did not name President Castro, Dubya blasted that “bigotry seems emboldened” in the U. S., while urging the country to accept “globalization” – the same globalization which both the IMF, the BIS and even the Federal Reserve now agree and warn has led to record wealth inequality in the US – while rejecting “white supremacy.” “Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” Bush said. Former Pres. George W Bush: "Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication." pic.twitter.com/KyQK5vul3j — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 19, 2017
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 19, 2017.
Spain announced it will trigger the so-called “nuclear option” of Article 155 under the Spanish Constitution, and move ahead with the process of suspending Catalan autonomy and the powers of the local government, after Regional President Carles Puigdemont for the second time in four days refused to comply with a Spanish ultimatum to clearly drop his claim to independence. Spain deployed the ultimate constitutional weapon after Puigdemont said the regional parliament may declare independence unless the government in Madrid agrees to talks. Puigdemont’s response came to an ultimatum from Madrid to renounce his claims to full autonomy by Thursday or face the consequences. “It’s not that difficult to reply to the question’, but there is still no definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Consequently, Madrid is poised to trigger Article 155 this Saturday, suspending the autonomy of the breakaway region. As previewed last night, the “final” deadline passed and the Catalonian leader failed to satisfy Madrid’s demands. Puigdemont had sent a new letter to Mariano Rajoy minutes before the second Article 155 deadline ran out at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning. That new letter did not provide the clarity the central government was seeking about the status of the independence of Catalonia, the Spanish Prime Minister’s office said. ‘The suspension remains, it’s up to the Spanish Government to enforce article 155 with the authorisation of the Senate… If the central government persists in blocking dialogue and continues its repression, the Catalan Parliament may proceed, if it considers it appropriate, to approve a formal declaration of independence,’ Puigdemont said in his letter to Rajoy. Puigdemont also said that his request for a face-to-face meeting had been ignored, and that Spanish ‘repression’ of Catalonia was being stepped up with the jailing of two separatist activists on Monday. ‘My request for the repression to end has not been met either,’ Puigdemont said. ‘On the contrary, it has increased.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 19, 2017.
To summarize, in just the last few years the world has invented a way to create software services that have no central operator. These services are called decentralized applications and they are enabled with crypto assets that incentivize entities on the internet to contribute resources’ – ‘processing, storage, computing’ – ‘necessary for the service to function. It’s worth pausing to acknowledge that this is kind of miraculous. With just the internet, an open protocol, and a new kind of asset, we can instantiate networks that dynamically assemble the resources necessary to provide many kinds of services. – From Adam Ludwin’s: A Letter to Jamie Dimon I’m actually pretty optimistic about the future. I know some of you might be surprised to hear that, but it’s true. This might not be the case if I had only five years left on the planet, but assuming I’m fortunate enough to stay healthy for another few decades, I think the world will be a much better place when I leave it than when I came in. The simple fact of the matter is this. For things to get substantially better from any situation, it’s always easier to start from a pretty bad place. When I write articles describing the U. S. economy as a rent-seeking, oligarch controlled swindle, I don’t do this to fill you with a sense of insurmountable dread. Rather, the purpose of those posts is to shake as many people as possible out of their slumber. There’s simply no way we can come up with appropriate and conscious solutions to our problems unless we can identify the various scams that govern so much of life around us.
Will the Kurdish Government Join Forces With the Central Iraqi Government in Baghdad to Govern Kirkuk? Before the ISF staged its operation, there had been rumors that the faction of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party led by the Talabani family proposed jointly governing Kirkuk province with Baghdad. In seeming support of the rumors, the Talabani faction ordered Kurdish peshmerga fighters to withdraw and to allow ISF to retake some of the energy installations in the city. It’s still uncertain, however, if there’s a deal in place between the PUK and Baghdad to jointly manage the province’s government or its oil and natural gas resources. That a deal would exist makes sense given the longstanding divisions between the PUK and rival Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls much of the economy in Iraqi Kurdistan. Will Baghdad Maintain Control of Kirkuk’s Oil Exports? It almost certainly will, at least in some capacity. For the last three years the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been able to export oil produced at the Bai Hassan oil field and the Avanah and Baba Gurgur formations of the Kirkuk oil field, given it had effectively appropriated and incorporated the fields into its own energy sector. The federal government is now in control of those fields and could use them in negotiations with the KRG. But, though Baghdad plans to rebuild its own pipeline to export oil from Kirkuk, right now all export infrastructure from the city goes through the Kurdish-controlled territory, which could complicate Baghdad’s ability to sell the oil Kirkuk produces. Baghdad, recognizing its constraints, could offer the KRG joint administration of the oil resources or continue transit contracts with it to distribute Iraq’s oil wealth. Alternatively, it could shut off production in Kirkuk to increase financial pressure on the Kurdish government. Thus, there’s the chance that Iraq’s northern oil exports – which amount to around 550,000 barrels per day – could decline by as much as 300,000 bpd. In the long run, Baghdad hopes to boost Kirkuk’s production to above 1 million bpd.
While some say microchipping humans is the wave of the future, others think it could be the Biblical ‘mark of the beast.’ Regardless, the next group to face the potentiality of being microchipped like dogs are Olympic athletes. According to WND, the head of an association of Olympic athletes wants to require anyone who participates in the Summer or Winter Games to be implanted with a tracking chip to prevent the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Mike Miller, the CEO of the World Olympians Association, remarked recently at an anti-doping forum in London that athletes should accept digital implants or be barred from Olympic-level competition, according to The Guardian. Speaking to anti-doping leaders at a Westminster forum on integrity in sport, Miller said: ‘In order to stop doping we need to chip our athletes where the latest technology is there.’ He continued, saying: ‘Microchips get over the issue of whether the technology can be manipulated because they [athletes] have no control over the device. The problem with the current anti-doping system is that all it says is that at a precise moment in time there are no banned substances but we need a system which says you are illegal substance-free at all times and if there are changes in markers they will be detected.’ Consumer privacy expert Liz McIntyre, the co-author of ‘Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Purchase and Watch Your Every Move,’ called Miller’s proposal ‘outrageous,’ insisting ‘no human being should ever be forced to accept a tracking implant to fully participate in society.’ Miller reiterates that it isn’t about ‘privacy,’ however, and Olympic athletes aren’t exactly regular members of society. ‘Some people say it’s an invasion of privacy,’ Miller said. ‘Well, sport is a club and people don’t have to join the club if they don’t want to, if they can’t follow the rules.’
This post was published at shtfplan on October 18th, 2017.
In 1906, American entrepreneur William T. Grant opened his very first ‘W. T. Grant Co 25 cent store’ in a small town outside of Boston. The store became popular and fairly profitable. So Grant opened another. And another. Three decades later, Grant’s retail empire was generating $100 million in sales (an enormous sum back then). And by the time of Grant’s death in 1972, there were over 1,000 stores bearing his name. Investors loved W. T. Grant Company stock for its reliable profits and high dividends. Many of our subscribers may remember W. T. Grant. The chain was among the largest in the US at its peak. And then something completely unexpected happened… In 1976, W. T. Grant Company declared bankruptcy.
The five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in China was turned on in September of 2016. Since then, the Chinese have made a few discoveries and revealed them to the public. FAST is the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world, spanning 500 meters (1,640 feet) and eclipsing the Arecibo radio observatory in Puerto Rico. It is positioned in a vast karst depression in southwest China’s Guizhou Province. The telescope is being used to study the origin and evolution of the universe, and it has already found some intriguing signals. Now it is the first Chinese radio telescope to detect pulsars, and it could become the first telescope ever to find a pulsar outside our galaxy as early as next year, which would be a huge finding. According to China Daily, the telescope has spotted dozens of pulsar candidates, several of which have since been confirmed by the Parkes radio telescope in Australia. Pulsars are neutron stars that spin incredibly rapidly, completing a rotation in a second or less, and that give off notable flashes of radiation.
4th director to quit in 10 months. Bankruptcy prospects heat up. The board of directors of Sears Holdings keeps shrinking – and that makes sense: Who’d want to be a director as the retailer careens along its path to bankruptcy, it only being a question of when it’ll get there, and whether or not the company will make it through the holiday selling season. Today the company announced that Bruce Berkowitz ‘has decided to step down’ from the board of directors, effective October 31, 2017. He’d joined the board in February 2016. So that wasn’t long. No reason was given for the abrupt departure, which caused bankruptcy fears to flare up, and shares (SHLD) plunged 11.5% to $5.99. Berkowitz is the fourth director to jump overboard over the past 10 months and none has been replaced. The other three: Steven Mnuchin quit the board in December ahead of his appointment as Secretary of the Treasury. He’d been on the board for 12 years. The vacant slot has not been filled. Alesia Haas quit the board in December 2016 after having joined in February 2016 – just long enough to get a look-see before bailing out. She’d been the CFO of OneWest Bank until it was acquired by CIT group. Cesar Alvarez quit the board in March 2017. He’d joined in December 2013. At the time, he was co-chairman of the law firm Greenberg Traurig. His slot has not been filled.
This post was published at Wolf Street on Oct 16, 2017.
Last week we wrote about how some former HSBC FX traders, led by Mark Johnson, orchestrated a carefully crafted plan to front-run a massive buy order for British Pounds using the code phrase “my watch is off.” Now, courtesy of court filings in a British case to extradite one of the participants, Stuart Scott, we learn exactly how much each HSBC trader made for his trading book in the illicit scheme that netted a total of $8 million in profits. Per Bloomberg: “The defendant personally obtained over $500,000 profit,” the U. S. Justice Department, represented by British lawyer Mark Summers, said in written arguments prepared for the hearing. “The offenses of which he is accused are highly serious. They involve a systematic and organized conspiracy to defraud, committed in breach of trust.” Scott was charged, along with his ex-boss Mark Johnson, by the Justice Department in July 2016 with using insider knowledge to front-run a $3.5 billion currency deal by Cairn Energy Plc that made the bank $8 million. Johnson is on trial in New York and a jury there could begin deliberations this week.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 16, 2017.
President Puigdemont's response to Prime Minister Rajoy regarding the political situation in #Catalonia pic.twitter.com/0R1ej2LQic — Catalan Government (@catalangov) October 16, 2017
The Catalan stand-off has been extended until Thursday as both sides hold their ground. After days of expectation and talks with his separatist allies, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont stood by his decision to keep his region’s declaration of independence from Spain ‘in suspension’ despite a demand for clarity from Spain prime minister Rajoy, effectively challenging the central government to follow through on promises to forcibly take control of the region by sending an evasive reply to the central government’s Article 155 notification, which on Wednesday began the process of suspending home rule in the region. The Spanish Prime Minister’s office was seeking a simple “yes” or “no” reply by 10 a.m. on Monday on the question of whether Mr. Puigdemont had or had not declared independence last Tuesday. Anything other than “no”, the First Minister was warned, would lead to the activation of the so-called faced the use of Article 155 of the Spanish constitution. This article is the so-called ‘nuclear option’ which allows Madrid to dissolve the regional government and call fresh regional elections. The central government can also take over the local police force and television channels. Eventually, Puigdemont chose more obfuscation and defiance: his four-page reply, obtained by Catalan radio stations Catalunya Radio and RAC1 and released by The Spain Report, neither confirmed nor denied he had proclaimed a new Catalan republic last week, but said the declaration remained ‘in suspension’ and proposed two months of dialogue arguing that the Spanish people and Europe will only understand ‘dialogue, negotiation and agreement.’ He did not say what he would do if talks did not take place by the middle of December.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 16, 2017.
The theme this week is The Rot Within. It’s been 10 years since I devoted a week to the theme of The Rot Within(September 17, 2007). Back in 2007, I listed 16 systemic sources of rot in our society, politics and economy; none have been fixed. Instead, the gaping holes have been filled with Play-Do and hastily painted to create the illusion of shiny solidity. We live in a simulacrum society in which the fading scent of the American Dream is more a collective memory kept alive for political purposes than a reality. Even more disturbing, the difference between a phantom prosperity (or in homage to the Blade Runner film series, shall we say a replicant prosperity?) and real prosperity has been blurred by layers of simulated signals of prosperity and subtexts that are carefully designed to harken back to a long-gone authentic prosperity.
This week, the U. S. and Israel announced that they would be withdrawing from UNESCO, citing ‘continuing anti-Israel bias’. As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, the move comes as a major blow to the organization which is known for designating cultural sites around the world such as the Grand Canyon or ancient Palmyra in Syria. The U. S. has been expected to pay the bulk of UNESCO’s budget for years and it cancelled its financial contributions back in 2011 in protest of Palestine’s admission as a full member. In the years since, it has amassed significant arrears of over $500 million…
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 15, 2017.
Nearly two years after the historic, and still mysterious “Shanghai Accord” which in early 2016 halted what at the time appeared to a global collapse in capital markets courtesy of what appears to have been unprecedented political, fiscal and monetary coordination between the developed world and China, on October 18 the world turns its attention to what is arguably the most important political event of the year, and the logical conclusion to the stabilization process which started with the Accord, when the Chinese Communist Party kicks off its 19th Party Congress, the political event that will determine the country’s leadership lineup and policy priorities for the next five years. Given the emphasis on maintaining stability in the run-up to this pivotal political transition, what the Congress will mean for China’s economy, its markets, and its place in the world is why Goldman has dedicated its latest “Top of Mind” periodical to the Congress, with editor Allison Nathan asking two experts on Chinese politics how Xi Jinping – who is already widely regarded as the most powerful leader of China since Mao Zedong – can use the reshuffle to further consolidate power. And, more importantly, what he intends to do with it: pursue economic reforms more aggressively or maintain the status quo. Specifically, five of seven seats on the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) – the senior-most CCP leadership – are expected to turn over, as is about half of the Politburo, the 25-member decision-making body that sits just below the PSC. To explore these issues, Goldman sat down with two Chinese political experts, David Shambaugh of the George Washington University and Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Both anticipate the Congress will cement Xi Jinping’s absolute authority over the CCP and the country. And both raise the possibility that Xi could be paving the way to stay in power beyond two terms, in a break with historical norms. However, Shambaugh and Lam view Xi as a visionary, not a reformist. They believe his overriding goal is to strengthen and perpetuate CCP rule, with no tolerance for policies that could destabilize the political order. (Lam argues, for example, that Xi is determined to avoid the political self-criticism that he believes brought down the USSR.) As such, both experts see only limited prospects for economic reform. But one possibility to watch: a potential reshuffling involving the role of premier that might signal a more aggressive reform stance.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 15, 2017.