This post was published at World Alternative Media
After a difficult first half, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan managed to score two major legislative victories this week just before the clock ran out on what has been one of the most contentious Congresses in recent memory.
By marshalling a fractious Republican caucus, the leadership averted a federal government shutdown on the day before Christmas Eve, and also passed the White House’s historic tax reform plan. With America’s lawmakers headed home for the holidays, Trump affixed his signature to the bill Friday morning.
But while Trump delivered on his promise to pass tax reform by year’s end, in the end, Republicans were forced to put off other pressing priorities – like passing an $81 billion disaster aid bill – until January.
Though the House managed to pass a disaster relief package, the Senate was forced to put it off because of procedural hurdles and opposition from Democrats. The battle to amend and pass the bill will probably dominate the political news cycle early next year, according to Bloomberg.
But it’s hardly the only legislative priority demanding immediate attention: Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling. And the continuing resolution passed late last night is set to expire on Jan. 19, meaning another funding bill must be adopted before then.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.
Welcome to another edition of Black Bag Confidential’s Weekly Drop.
In the world of espionage, a ‘dead drop’ is a secret location where materials or information can be left by one party for another to retrieve. I invite you to send me your most pressing questions at SPYfeedback@LFB.org so I can leave my answers in your inbox each week.
Read on below for this week’s batch of reader mail. You’ll discover two additional items you should consider adding to your everyday carry (EDC) gear, why I don’t mind sharing my expertise with criminals and how to prepare for the coming financial collapse.
Now let’s dive in.
Perhaps my greatest concern is the out-of-control debt and spending. The PIPER will be paid! What are your suggestions on this coming disaster?
– Ken H.
This post was published at Laissez Faire on Dec 2, 2017.
Anybody who was watching the July Senate floor vote on the Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace Obamacare will remember the audible gasps that John McCain elicited when he surprised his own party by voting against the plan. And now just four months later, he’s gearing up to do it again.
According to the New York Times, McCain may once again decide the fate of one of the Trump administration’s top legislative priorities.
The senator from Arizona has been tight-lipped about whether he will vote ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on the bill, which was voted out of the Senate Banking Committee yesterday with the support of Bob Corker and Ron Johnson, who have both expressed reservations about the plan – Johnson had even said he wouldn’t vote for it.
As the NYT points out, McCain has staked his career on a platform of fiscal responsibility, and has bucked his party by voting against tax cuts in the past.
McCain’s skepticism of tax cuts stretches at least as far back as 1994. At that time, he was fretting about being fiscally responsible now that Republicans had seized control of Congress. ‘I think we would be making a terrible mistake to go back to the 80s, where we cut all of those taxes and all of a sudden now we’ve got a debt that we’ve got to pay on an annual basis that is bigger than the amount that we spend on defense,’ McCain said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 29, 2017.
In October, we discussed Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s, decision to hand over $32bn to recapitalise India’s state banks. The motivation was India’s slowing growth rate and the need to add one million Indians to the workforce every month. Crippled by massive bad debts, the state-owned banks were struggling to extend more credit to the economy. The announcement caused a surge in India’s Sensex equity index, led by the banks. India has the second highest bad debt ratio of the world’s largest economies – possibly third since China’s official figure is patently incorrect.
Enter Uday Kotak, Asia’s richest banker (net worth over $10 billion) and managing director of India’s Kotak Mahindra Bank.
Kotak is a self-made man. Turning down a job offer from a multinational, he set up a financial services conglomerate, beginning with bills discounting before adding stockbroking, investment banking, mutual funds and car finance. Kotak thinks he’s spotted a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ in Indian finance…so it probably bears considering. Nor is he alone as sovereign wealth funds and pension funds are also taking a close look. The opportunity is in India’s bad loans, as Bloomberg explains.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 22, 2017.
Socialism always promises heaven and gives hell.
In the early hours of Thursday, November 2, the Maduro regime certified its latest failure with what they promised would never happen: technical default. With his usual arrogance, Maduro issued a ‘decree’ demanding ‘the refinancing and restructuring of the debt as of November 3.’ That is, default.
The bad news for investors or high-yield hunters is that the likelihood of being swindled again is almost 100%.
Chavez once said ‘put me oil at zero and Venezuela will not suffer,’ and Maduro stated that ‘a revolutionary government with economic power as the one I preside has plans to surpass any situation arising from any price of oil.’ Reality has now kicked in.
Venezuela was not destroyed by low oil prices, but by high socialism.
Socialism has led Venezuela to an unparalleled economic disaster . No, it’s not ‘the price of oil.’ Venezuela is the only OPEC country that has fallen into default, depression, and hyperinflation. It’s not oil, it’s socialism.
The management disaster is spectacular and the greatest example of the devastating effect of socialism is the state-owned oil company. PdVSA, the national oil company, has gone from being one of the most efficient and profitable twenty years ago, to end up importing oil.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 11/20/2017.
Less than a week after Venezuela shocked the world by announcing it would proceed to restructure its massive external debt, even as it was within the grace period on hundreds of millions in unpaid interest expense, on Thursday the socialist nation confirmed it has never been closer to an official default after Reuters reported that Venezuela’s state oil-firm company, PDVSA, has not made a debt payments to India’s top oil producer ONGC for six months, and has previously used a Russian state-owned bank and another Indian energy company as intermediaries to make payments.
Reuters sources noted that PDVSA has made no payment since April on what was a $540 million backlog of dividends owed to ONGC for an investment the Indian firm made in a an energy project in Venezuela. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said last week that the country planned to restructure some $60 billion of bonds, much of it held by PDVSA, as the country struggles to meet debt repayments.
While ONGC Videsh – the overseas investment arm of ONGC confirmed to Reuters that PDVSA had fallen behind on the payments, but declined to give details on the delays.
Curiously, the Indian company appears not to be overly concerned about non-payment for half a year, and instead was willing to keep giving Maduro the benefit of the doubt: ‘They have got certain challenges at this stage,’ ONGC Videsh said in an emailed response to Reuters’ questions. ‘They have assured that they are working on it (payment of dues). In due course it will be settled and follow up steps will be undertaken.’ And just to underscore that it has no intention of pushing Venezuela into involuntary bankruptcy, ONGC added that ‘we have a good working relationship with PDVSA.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 9, 2017.
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign responded to former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Donna Brazile’s criticisms of the Clinton campaign, including the charge the campaign essentially rigged the 2016 primaries.
‘It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent, about our candidate’s health,’ reads a letter published online Saturday that was signed by former Clinton campaign officials, including Huma Abedin, Robby Mook, Jennifer Palmieri and John Podesta.
Brazile wrote an op-ed Thursday for Politico, claiming the DNC entered into an agreement that gave the Clinton campaign de facto control of the Democratic Party during the presidential primaries. Brazile also criticized former President Barack Obama for leaving the DNC buried in debt.
‘Donna came in to take over the DNC at a very difficult time,’ the signatories write.
This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on NOVEMBER 6, 2017.
While claiming to fight ‘The Deep State’ and drain the swamp, Donald Trump fights to save a controversial law which serves as a powerful tool for The Deep State.
The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency is coming to a conclusion and all but his most blind supporters can now see that he is more of the same – a continuation of the puppet in chief bowing to the interests of the military-industrial complex and the banking/financial elite. The collective interests of these groups (and their front organizations) – as well as their connection to corporate and state power, academia, and media – are what have come to be known as the New World Order, the Shadow Government, or more recently, The Deep State.
Since coming into office, Donald Trump has continued the Deep State plan of military expansion into the Middle East and Africa. This expansion has led to an increase in airstrikes, drone attacks, and the deaths of innocent people. He has also continued to place banking executives from Goldman Sachs in powerful positions and just today called Janet Yellen, the current head of the Federal Reserve, ‘excellent.’ I won’t hold my breath for him to audit, let alone end the debt enslavement created via the Federal Reserve system. He even appointed a former Bilderberg attendee.
Trump has also played the role of great deceiver by promising to fix America’s illegal immigration problem while actually promoting the building of a border wall complete with drone surveillance, automatic license plate readers, biometric scanning via the face and retina, and DNA collection for VISA applicants. Under the guise of ‘border security,’ Americans are being duped into caging themselves in an increasingly totalitarian police and surveillance state.
This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on NOVEMBER 2, 2017.
Just over a week ago we highlighted how China’s financial regulator had instructed companies to delay the reporting of bad corporate news until after the Party Congress. As Bloomberg noted…
China’s securities watchdog has asked some loss-making companies to avoid publishing quarterly results this week as authorities seek to ensure stock-market stability during the Communist Party Congress, according to people familiar with the matter. The China Securities Regulatory Commission made its requests via the country’s stock exchanges, the people said, asking not to be named as they’re not authorized to talk to the media.
At least 17 Shenzhen-listed companies announced delays to their earnings reports from Oct. 20 to Oct. 24, up from three during the same period last year, exchange filings show.
Now that the Congress is out of the way, announcements of corporate debt defaults are also reportable it seems.
The latest relates to Dandong Port Group as the WSJ reports…
A debt-laden port management company in northeast China defaulted on $150 million in bonds, as highly leveraged businesses get squeezed by Beijing’s campaign to weed out risks in the financial system.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 1, 2017.
Authored by Donna Brazille, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, originally published in Politico.
“When I was asked to run the Democratic Party after the Russians hacked our emails, I stumbled onto a shocking truth about the Clinton campaign.”
Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC
Before I called Bernie Sanders, I lit a candle in my living room and put on some gospel music. I wanted to center myself for what I knew would be an emotional phone call.
I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested. I’d had my suspicions from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails. But who knew if some of them might have been forged? I needed to have solid proof, and so did Bernie.
So I followed the money. My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had not been the most active chair in fundraising at a time when President Barack Obama’s neglect had left the party in significant debt. As Hillary’s campaign gained momentum, she resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations.
Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party – she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 2, 2017.
It is hardly a secret that thanks to nearly $4 trillion (at least) in credit creation in 2017 – more than the rest of the developed world combined – China has been the proverbial (and debt-funded) “growth” dynamo behind the recent period of “coordinated global growth.” Unfortunately, much if not all of this was window dressing for the just concluded 19th Communist Party Congress, which in not so many words, made Xi Jinping into a de facto emperor with no apparent or otherwise heirs.
The problem is that with the Congress now over, so is the period of coordinated global growth. Here’s why.
As Citi writes, “China’s Party Congress has concluded and Xi Jinping’s position as President has been consolidated. Given there are no standing committee members in their 50s, it suggests there are no apparent heirs for Mr. Xi, opening the door for him to stay on beyond 2022. One of the key questions in the run up to the congress was that once power was consolidated, would China accelerate its economic reforms. We think this is unlikely but do expect a moderation of growth, with data momentum perhaps set to continue to slow at its current pace. Note how China’s MCI tends to lead Citi’s macro data index for China and our MCI is still tightening.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 27, 2017.
If ever there was a doubt that auto sales have been pushed to the absolute max in this iteration of the industry’s debt-fueled bubble, then consider the following program specifically designed to underwrite subprime auto loans to refugees who have recently arrived in the U. S. with absolutely no credit history or record of any kind. Per The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Newly arrived refugees, especially in driving-oriented places like San Diego, can have trouble finding jobs if they don’t have cars. Because new arrivals generally have no credit history in the U. S. and sometimes make mistakes early on because they don’t understand the system, they often can’t get affordable loans to purchase a car. ‘The struggle of a low-income immigrant family that’s looking to move up, it’s hard enough as it is,’ said Kasra Movahedi, director of the Center for Economic Opportunity. ‘If you also then have low credit, it just becomes that much harder in a hundred small and not-so-noticeable ways. Unfortunately, these are the people that can afford it the least.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 26, 2017.
Clearly, the core strategy of maintaining the status quo is to borrow and spend trillions of additional dollars every year.
The Obama presidency was a grand experiment to test this thesis: the status quo of the U. S. is a self-correcting mechanism. Left to its own devices, it will automatically correct any socio-economic-political imbalances, given enough time.
The Grand Strategy of the post-Global Financial Crisis era was simple: maintain the status quo as is. The Obama administration’s major policy initiative, ObamaCare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act, was nothing but the formalization of the existing status quo in healthcare, i.e. the taxpayers subsidize private-sector profiteering.
That is the Affordable Care Act in a nutshell. Costs have not declined, the health of Americans can hardly be said to have improved significantly, but garsh, did healthcare sector profits soar. Most importantly, the status quo was maintained: nothing actually changed in the insurance, pharmaceutical or hospital sectors.
The same can be said for every other sector of the economy: nothing really changed, just more of the same. Higher education: nothing changed, just more student loan debt was issued. The defense industry: more of the same. Global War on Terror, a.k.a. The National Security State–more billions sluiced into the shadows.
President Obama was a master of telling everyone what they wanted to hear while changing nothing in the basic structure of the Empire. The Imperial Imperative of destabilizing nations that didn’t meet with Imperial approval continued unchanged. The murder-by-drone campaign expanded, the support of a hopelessly corrupt regime in Afghanistan continued unchanged, and so on.
This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on OCTOBER 01, 2017.
After barely managing to scrape together the nearly $200 million needed to make a bond payment earlier this month (the country made the payment a week late), Embattled Venezeulan President Nicolas Maduro is refocusing his attention on the US, warning military leaders Tuesday to begin preparing for war with the US. Maduro’s call to arms comes after the US has repeatedly tightened sanctions against Maduro’s regime and the country’s state-run oil company; earlier this week, the Trump administration blocked Venezeulan officials from entering the US as part of the White House’s new ‘targeted’ travel ban. Trump has also repeatedly threatened a military intervention if Maduro doesn’t leave voluntarily.
Maduro is probably still brooding over Trump’s call for the world community to help restore ‘democracy and political freedoms’ to Venezeula by ousting Maduro (to which Maduro reportedly responded in typical leftist fashion by comparing Trump to Hitler). Trump made those remarks last week during his first address to the UN General Assembly. Earlier this year, Trump said he wouldn’t rule out a military option for dealing with Venezuela, adding that the US has an obligation to take of the country because it’s “our neighbor.”
Maduro said Trump’s threats were the reason for him ordering the military to be on alert.
“We have been shamelessly threatened by the most criminal empire that ever existed and we have the obligation to prepare ourselves to guarantee peace,” said Maduro, who wore a green uniform and a military hat as he spoke with his army top brass during a military exercise involving tanks and missiles. “We need to have rifles, missiles and well-oiled tanks at the ready….to defend every inch of the territory if needs be,” he added.
Over the summer, the US announced sanctions to prevent PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owed oil company, from issuing new debt (sanctions that conveniently avoided existing bonds held by Goldman Sachs), while also preventing Citgo, the US subsidiary of PDVSA, from repatriating dividends. The US has also passed sanctions against many top Venezuelan officials. Tensions between Maduro and Trump started escalating shortly after Trump’s inauguration, when the US blacklisted Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami for drug trafficking.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 27, 2017.
The screaming coming from Puerto Rico is deafening…..
SAN JUAN, P. R. – Gov. Ricardo A. Rossell of Puerto Rico said on Monday that the island was on the brink of a ‘humanitarian crisis’ nearly a week after Hurricane Maria knocked out its power and most of its water, and left residents waiting in excruciating lines for fuel. He called on Congress to prevent a deepening disaster.
How does Congress “prevent a deepening disaster”?
It cannot. You cannot change the laws of physics nor magically make things that are broken become not-broken. There is no issue with funding in the current paradigm; the problems are logistical.
Those issues arose because of decades of intentional mismanagement, grift and fraud including by the Governor himself and the rest of the Puerto Rican government, which has taken on debt over and over while squandering it on social programs instead of taking care of critical infrastructure needs — like basicmaintenance to the electrical grid.
This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-09-27.