Over the past nine months, the WSJ has led the media pack when it comes to scoops about the lapses at Boeing and the FAA that allowed the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to continue flying, even after a crash in Indonesia raised questions about the plane's safety that were apparently ignored, because a similar crash happened in Ethiopia less than six months later, bringing the combined death toll to above 300.
Earlier on Wednesday, Boeing shares dropped on reports that the 737 MAX won't fly again before the end of the year, even as deliveries "could" resume later this month.
These revelations about the culture at both Boeing and the FAA show very clearly how the agency has lost its way, and how its lapses in oversight opened the door to unimaginable human suffering.
WSJ reporters got their hands on an FAA internal report that was published back in November 2018. An internal FAA analysis of the Lion Air cash, it's expected to be released in full for the House committee hearing Wednesday.
According to the report, experts spotted the risks in the 737 MAX 8's anti-stall system, MCAS, and warned that these planes could average more than one crash a year.
In an aviation industry that sometimes goes almost a decade without an accident, these numbers are obviously unacceptable.
On Tuesday, an FAA spokesman delivered a statement to WSJ: "It was clear from the beginning that an unsafe condition existed," adding that the analysis "provided additional context in helping determine the mitigation action." In an email, the spokesman said such analyses tend to overstate risk because they take the most conservative approach and because specifically identified problems likely appeared more serious than they did in the operating fleet.
After Lion Air, the FAA’s analysis projected as many as 15 similar catastrophic accidents globally over the life of the MAX fleet (roughly 30 to 45 years) unless major fixes were made to a particular automated flight-control system (fixes that Boeing has scrambled to make over the past year).
"The potential for 15 projected crashes “would be an unacceptable number in the modern aviation-safety world," said Alan Diehl, a retired FAA and Pentagon air-safety official, who hasn’t had any involvement in the MAX crisis.
Even still, it might take more than that to win back public confidence, since WSJ and Boeing characterized the MAX as the most crash-prone Boeing model in modern history.
In total, the 737 MAX was projected to log as many crashes s Boeing’s 757, 767, 777, 787 and the latest 747 models combined. The MAX fleet was eventually anticipated to be nearly 5,000 jets world-wide, slightly larger than the combined global fleet of the earlier models that are still in service while the other fleets together total slightly more than 3,800 aircraft.
But in the document obtained by WSJ, the FAA anticipates that Boeing will update the flight control software on the 737 MAX 8 within the next seven or eight months. Of course, there were more deaths before the new software could be finished.
The FAA document anticipated that in roughly seven months, Boeing would devise, test and with the FAA’s approval install revised software for MCAS, the suspect stall-prevention system that led to the October 2018 crash in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the FAA also concluded that it could buy time to prevent another accident by reiterating to airline crews world-wide how to respond in the event of a similar MCAS misfire. If crews were aware of the risk and knew how to respond, the FAA determined it was acceptable to let the planes continue carrying passengers until a permanent design change was in place. That fix is still in progress.
More than any other previous piece of evidence, this document exposes the Boeing-FAA cabal and how corporations and the government conspired to put the lives of millions of unsuspecting travelers at risk.
Mike Bloomberg, his company, and his 2020 presidential campaign have been hit with a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) complaint over a partisan media blackout preventing Bloomberg journalists from covering Democratic presidential candidates, while continuing to cover President Trump.
Filed by the Media Research Center (MRC), the complaint asserts that omitting coverage of Democratic presidential candidates may constitute an improper contribution to Bloomberg's campaign under FEC regulations.
The complaint asserts that the decision to investigate President Donald Trump and not the opposing Democratic candidates can be considered a contribution – or a thing of value – under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and should therefore be investigated by the FEC for potential FECA violations. -Media Research Center
"Bloomberg News is making a mockery of legitimate journalism. They have consciously chosen to abandon their journalistic responsibilities in favor of what is politically convenient," said MRC President Brent Bozell, adding "his is a public declaration that Bloomberg’s newsroom is adopting media bias as an official policy."
"This is not only categorically unethical, but potentially illegal, which is why we are calling for an investigation."
Oil prices remain lower overnight after API reported a surprise crude build (and products also built notably) but the constant hype of OPEC+, Aramco's launch, and a trade deal 'any minute' are still providing a bid...
“The post-OPEC bullish jolt is all but a distant memory,” said Stephen Brennock, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd. in London. “Oil prices have struggled for traction this week as demand concerns returned to the fore. The cautionary mood is likely to prevail as investors await fresh cues on the trade front.”
The question is - will official data confirm API's bearish data.
Crude +1.41mm (-2.5mm exp)
Cushing -3.53mm (-2.3mm exp)
Gasoline +4.92mm (+2.5mm exp)
Distillates +3.24mm (+1.6mm exp)
Crude +822k (-2.5mm exp)
Cushing -3.393 (-2.3mm exp) - biggest draw since Feb 2018
Gasoline +5.405mm (+2.5mm exp) - biggest build since Jan 2019
Distillates +4.118mm (+1.6mm exp) - biggest build since July 2019
After the prior week's surprise crude draw, analysts expect further inventory drops in the last week (despite API's surprise build) but official data showed a 822k barrel build (smaller than API but still a build). This is the 11th weekly build of the last 13 weeks...
Crude production dipped very modestly last week but remains record highs, despite plunging rig counts...
Notably, despite inventories at their highest since July, oil closed at its highest since September...
WTI hovered around $59.10 ahead of the print and extended losses after the build...
Will WTI find support at $58?
Finally we note Bloomberg Intelligence Senior Energy Analyst Vince Piazza's comments that "we're not sure the revised deal among OPEC+ offers much clarity for oil markets, as a cut of an additional 500,000 barrels a day only formalizes the existing pace of production. Revisiting the arrangement in early 2020 is the next hurdle for the organization."
Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,
A confusing economic situation has just been made more confusing. The government claims that jobs are still being created when other indexes show otherwise.
This is not the first time this year conflicting and confusing numbers have been released:
Not much about that made any real sense to anyone who looked at it, and we are now getting more confusing information.
According to a report by Forbes, the prospects of a recession in the U.S. The Institute of Supply Management’s November survey shows that the index of factory activities in the U.S. fell to 48.1 from 48.3 in October (any reading below 50 is indicative of a contraction). However, the Department of Labor also reported that 266,000 jobs have been added to the economy in November, bringing the unemployment rate down to a historic low of 3.5%. A confusing situation has just been made more confusing.
Factory activities fell, but the U.S. is somehow adding jobs? Forbes was baffled too.
Developed world economies have meanwhile been seriously weakened by prolonged zero interest rates, making them vulnerable to unexpected shocks. Extraordinarily low interest rates distort the price of money, arguably the single most important price signal in a market economy. They poison the business environment, allowing poorly run businesses to survive, jamming the gears of creative destruction that drive any economic renewal. The survival of poorly run businesses also suck profits from more successful businesses, sapping their ability to expand. –Forbes
The next recession could already be here and may never be technically a recession. The next recession, however, may not technically qualify as one. The accepted definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of contraction in an economy. But, we could have, for example, one quarter of 0.3% growth, followed by a contraction of 1.2% the next, then anemic growth in the third and fourth quarter of, say, 0.1% each, and then another contraction of 0.5% and so on. While the technical definition of a recession may never be met, the economy would still be shrinking, left to wane inexorably by impotent monetary and fiscal policies. It would be a recession by stealth.
* * *
Brandon Smith, Founder of Alt-Market.com, notes that it is also important to point out that the REAL economic data on employment, GDP, etc. shows aggressive declines.
Government data on employment is utterly rigged to the upside, as they continue to ignore around 95 million working age Americans without jobs. If these people were counted (as they were during the Great Depression), the unemployment rate would be closer to 25%. If GDP were calculated as it was during the 1980's, then the US would have negative growth for most of 2019 and would already be considered in recession. Ultimately, the economic crash going on right now will plant its feet somewhere, and right now it is becoming obvious in debt related sectors. With consumer debt, corporate debt and national debt at historic highs, the crash will spread from debt into everything else...
With traders eager to put 2019 in the rearview mirror, especially now that repo market icon Zoltan Pozsar is warning a market crash looming in just a few days (which the Fed will then use to trigger QE4), several key hurdles remain of which one is of course this Sunday's decision on a new round of China tariffs and the other is today's FOMC meeting, although as DB's Jim Reid writes, "in fairness it’s probably hard to get too excited given that the Fed is firmly on hold for now with the recent data helping to underscore that position." Indeed, markets have priced in no rate moves for a long time (if anything, tiny odds hint at a hike today)...
... and the view from the bank's economists is that the meeting statement should largely mirror the communique from the last meeting.
While the Fed’s job has been made slightly complicated by the fact that today's policy meeting comes ahead of the possible boosting of tariffs on US imports of Chinese goods on 15th December, we will also get the latest summary of economic projections although consensus expects only very modest changes, most notably downgrades to the median views on inflation and long-run unemployment.
The dot plot should adjust 25bps lower to account for the rate cut in October and still show an upward drift over time to a neutral level that drifts lower every quarter as the world's massive and growing debt load means the hard ceiling on interest rates continues to drop.
And speaking of the dot plot, recall that there has been a sharp bifurcation in the FOMC between hawks and doves...
... and as Bloomberg notes, unless that split erodes entirely it's not necessarily that relevant whether the marginal dot that determines the median actually lies. As a reminder, the September (shown above) dot plot median had rates unchanged for the rest of the year; six weeks later, the Fed cut again just as the repo market fireworks were exploding.
And speaking of the "dots" credibility, there remains the issue of the gaping divergence between the Fed's own longer-term forecast and what the market expects: as shown below, the FOMC consensus rate path has the fed funds at 2.375 in 2022, while the OIS has that rate at more than 1% less, or 1.326%.
For those who do care about the dots, Goldman notes that at the September meeting, the median dot showed 50bp of cuts in 2019, no action in 2020, and one hike in each of 2021 and 2022, returning the funds rate to 2.25-2.5%. The biggest surprise of the September meeting was the forceful pushback to the September cut by five participants who submitted end-2019 dots of 2-2.25%, with one of them likely also projecting a 2020 hike to 2.25-2.5%.
Recent comments from Fed officials indicate that most now agree that policy is now in a good place, therefore expect for the great majority (14/17) of the 2020 dots to show an unchanged policy rate. Goldman expect three of the participants who opposed the 2019 cuts to project a hike in 2020 and do not expect any dot to show a fourth cut. Beyond 2020, the median dots will again show one hike in each of 2021 and 2022, returning the funds rate to 2.0-2.25%, as shown in Exhibit 4. The risks to Goldman's estimate of a 1.75-2% median for 2021 are slightly to the downside—if most participants view an inflation overshoot as a necessary condition for a hike, they might expect to keep policy on hold for longer. While average inflation targeting has not been formally adopted, Powell’s comment in October that the FOMC “would need to see a really significant move up in inflation that’s persistent before we even consider raising rates to address inflation concerns” hints at downside risk. In contrast, the risks to Goldman's estimate of a 2-2.25% median for 2022 are slightly to the upside—participants might expect policy normalization to neutral over a 3-year horizon if they follow the Yellen-like balanced approach of also putting substantial weight on the labor market overshoot.
That leaves Powell’s press conference which Reid believes will echo recent remarks, which indicate that the Committee sees policy in a good place barring a "material reassessment" to the outlook. In this context, expect the Chair's comments to reflect his implicit message from October that, while the bar to cutting rates is high, the bar for hiking is even higher.
In other words, the Fed will likely never hike again, but will cut should stocks unexpectedly drop. However, if Pozsar is right, the Fed will need to launch QE4 in the next few days to offset what is expected to be a liquidity black hole in the coming days.
Some other things to keep a watch for: will the Fed discuss a permanent standing repo facility (unlikely, if this hasn't been unveiled so far), especially since as of right now there has yet to be any indication that funding conditions over the year end "turn" are set to implode.
Looking ahead, beyond the December meeting, Goldman sees a high bar for policy moves in either direction, and expects the funds rate to remain unchanged in 2020. Combined with the recent acceleration in job growth, the bank expects a modest acceleration in growth and core inflation next year to further strengthen the FOMC’s view that additional cuts are not warranted. Consensus expects growth to accelerate modestly, mostly reflecting a boost from easier financial conditions and a fading drag from the trade war absent further escalation. Firmer wage growth and positive base effects in the first quarter of next year are likely to push core PCE inflation to just shy of the 2% target in 2020, which should also reduce the case for cuts. But don't expect rate hikes any time soon either: Chair Powell set a high bar for rate hikes by linking potential hikes to a significant and persistent move up in inflation
Courtesy of Goldman, this is what the Fed's redlined statement will most likely look like.
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Below we provide a detailed take on what to expect from the Fed today at 2pm courtesy of RanSquawk
The FOMC is expected to leave rates unchanged at 1.50-1.75%. Attention will be on the forward guidance elements, updated forecasts and ‘dot plot’. In his press conference, Chair Powell may be asked to clarify what factors the Fed needs to be in place that would amount to a “material reassessment” of the outlook – both on the upside and downside – that may result in the FOMC changing its policy stance.
Ultimately, Powell is expected to reiterate an optimistic view of the US economy, though caution on familiar risks while reiterating a data-dependent outlook (NOTE: the FOMC precedes a potential boosting of US tariffs on Chinese imports on 15th December). Rate decision will be published along with updated economic projections at 200 pm ET; the post-meeting press conference with Chair Powell will commence at 230 pm ET.
The FOMC is expected to leave the federal funds rate target between 1.50-1.75%, according to analysts surveyed and market pricing. Ahead, markets price just over one rate cut in 2020. Some are will also be closely watching whether the Fed tweaks its interest on excess reserves (IOER) rate; the IOER was cut to 1.55% in October (cut by the same magnitude as the FFR target). But since then, the effective federal funds rate (EFFR) has fallen below the midpoint of the target range (currently 1.625%); Rabobank says that in order to get EFFR back to the midpoint, the IOER rate could be raised, and a 5-10bps technical hike to the IOER rate could achieve. A 10bps rise to the IOER may signal the FOMC is anticipating further downward pressure on the EFFR due to its balance sheet expansion policy (the opposite of what was seen in June’18, Dec’18, Sep’19 when balance sheet normalisation contributed to higher EFFR).
The Fed’s job has been made slightly complicated by the fact that the 11th December policy meeting comes ahead of the possible boosting of tariffs on US imports of Chinese goods on 15th December. Given that the outlook is still subject to some uncertainties, Chair Powell may recycle his optimistic but cautious outlook. In remarks made towards the end of November, Powell stuck to that script; he was optimistic about the state of the economy, and feels monetary policy settings are appropriate after the FOMC’s three ‘insurance cuts’; the Fed chair said the current stance would remain appropriate as long as economic data was consistent with moderate growth (despite some wobbles, it does seem to be).
Powell said policymakers’ favourable outlook was founded on strong household spending (next retail sales report is out Friday, after the Fed meeting, and is expected to rise; CB’s gauge of consumer confidence has come off highs, though is stabilising at elevated levels). However, Powell cautioned the Fed would respond accordingly if developments caused a 'material reassessment' of economic outlook, adding that 'yellow flags' included muted inflation (CPI data is released on the Wednesday of the Fed meeting, and is seen rising slightly; though the UoM’s data last week showed inflation expectations falling a touch) and weakness in manufacturing (ISM’s recent manufacturing survey provides little to cheer about); at the previous meeting, Powell said that the Fed would mull hikes if inflation was running away, but there doesn’t seem to be many signs of that at present. Powell also noted that weak foreign growth was hurting exports, and it increased the risk that weakness could spread more broadly (and the 15th December tariffs might have the potential to exacerbate these risks, potentially hitting the consumer sector too). In Powell’s November remarks, he said lower monthly job gains suggest economy with somewhat less momentum than previously thought (the recent jobs data came in well-above trend rates, though analysts still see a cooling of momentum ahead).
The September dot plot did not pencil in an October rate cut, seeing the end 2019 dot at 1.9% (target range 1.75-2.00%); given the Fed cut in October, the midpoint is now 1.625% (1.50-1.75%), meaning a mark-to-market lowering of the 2019 dot will be seen. The projections for the rest of the forecast horizon will be more useful; the September dot plot envisaged rates would be unchanged in 2020 (1.9%, target range 1.75-2.00%), with one 25bps hike in both 2021 (2.1%, target range 2.00-2.25%) and 2022 (2.4%, 2.25-2.50%), with the long-run projection at 2.50%. Despite the market looking for the 2020+ dots to be lowered, UBS thinks there is a risk of a hawkish outcome; the bank sees five to seven dots showing one to three hikes in 2020, illustrating the hawkish skew within the Committee that was evident this year. In 2021, UBS thinks Powell will want to keep rates constant, and will have most of the Governors and Williams with him; but still thinks that those dots will fall short of the median, implying a view of a rate hike in 2021, and the bank also thinks the dots will imply another rate hike in 2022.
While Powell did say a significant and persistent rise in inflation will be needed to raise rates, UBS argues that it appears not all participants agree; accordingly, Powell will likely roll-out the familiar argument that the dots reflect each individual participant's view, and either way, he will likely pursue the line that the Committee sees itself as remaining extremely accommodative until inflation rises. UBS will also be taking a signal from the inflation projections; the bank thinks that by 2022, the FOMC will believe that an ever-tightening labor market (read the Phillips curve) will not only have kept inflation persistently at target, but will begin to push it above target, and the SEP may reflect this view by showing a 0.1ppts overshoot of the inflation target in 2022.
Fed Vice Chair of Supervision Quarles recently said the central bank had identified some areas where existing supervision of the regulatory framework may have contributed to repo market stress seen in September, which Powell may be quizzed on, particularly in light of any front-end funding pressure into the year end.
The Fed is expected to eventually establish a Standing Repo Facility (SRF) to help alleviate funding stresses, which can occur around tax payment seasons, and quarter/year-ends. Oxford Economics explains that the facility would enable banks to swap Treasury holdings for cash, allowing these banks to reduce cash reserve holdings, and instead hold Treasuries in the knowledge that Treasuries can be swapped for cash at any time to meet liquidity/capital requirements. The SRF would be in addition to the continuation of Treasury bill purchases and ongoing Fed repo operations. The Fed in October started buying T-bills at a pace of USD 60bln per month, which has seen bank reserves rise to levels last seen in June; Oxford Economics argues that, given that the level of reserves is close to what the Fed judges as sufficiently necessary to meet demand, the Fed might decide to scale back the size of monthly bills purchases in Q1 (perhaps to USD 30bln) and in Q2 (perhaps reducing it to USD 20bln).
Following Monday's release of the long-awaited FISA report on FBI abuses while investigating the Trump campaign, during the 2016 US election, Inspector General Michael Horowitz is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Horowitz's report found "significant inaccuracies and omissions," yet despite the fact that the FBI's elite made numerous errors and harbored extreme animus against Donald Trump, none of that affected their investigation.
Horowitz's findings have caused a high-profile split within the Department of Justice, with Attorney General William Barr and his hand-picked prosecutor, John Durham, both issuing statements disagreeing with Horowitz's conclusions.
In an interview with NBC which aired on Tuesday, Barr said " [T]hese irregularities, these misstatements, these omissions were not satisfactorily explained," adding "I think that leaves open the possibility to infer bad faith."
Authored by Chris Andrew and Mustafa Zaidi of Clarmond Wealth
A Time To Howl
“No nation can be freer than its most oppressed, richer than its poorest, or wiser than its most ignorant,” declared Henry George the American economic writer of the late 19th century. His book of 1879 ‘Progress and Poverty’ focused on how economic inequality actually increased with technological progress; the book sold 3m copies.
Henry George sounds like a modern-day liberal; he advocated for the secret ballot, a universal basic income, women’s suffrage, the abolishment of creditor enforcement, an Old Testament style debt jubilee, limited military spending, free public libraries, a mass public transport system, a restriction on political spending, the elimination of monopolies and debt free money. This was all to be funded by taxing land and not labor.
These ideas were picked up across the Atlantic by another George - David Lloyd, whilst he was the Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer. He adjusted them to fit his political landscape. In 1909 Lloyd George put forward the ‘People’s Budget’; it was a “war budget…to wage warfare against squalidness and human degradation.” Its core was social welfare including free school meals, old age pensions, labour exchanges, and a national insurance scheme. This was all to be funded by higher income taxes, an estate tax, an income supertax and a land tax.
This radical budget was rejected by the peers in the House of Lords for the first time since the Glorious Revolution of 1688; it was Commons vs Lords. Two elections in the next two years resulted only in hung Parliaments. The only way to pass this legislation was to threaten to stack the House of Lords. The new King, George V, agreed to this and the Lords immediately rolled over and committed ritual hara-kiri. By the Parliament Act of 1911, the House of Commons reigned supreme over the Lords. The minority Liberal government, with the help of Irish nationalists and a growing Labour Party passed this radical legislation, which remains the basis of modern welfare states around the world.
This marked the end of the Edwardian age and its American cousin, the Gilded Age. Progressive policies backed by a surge in populism had trumped the establishment elites.
Our own Gilded Age 2.0 has been in full flower for the last few decades, but just like the past it seems that the revolutionary voices of the two Georges can again be heard. In the UK, the increases of welfare spending and nationalizations, all funded by versions of wealth taxes, are high on the agenda. Across in the USA, the political contenders have identified their society’s key weak spots of health, education, and old age; solutions for these are also to be funded by a wealth tax, a wall street tax, and increasing income taxes.
The progressive populist is alive and well on both sides of the Atlantic. A hundred years ago aristocratic Lords and plutocratic businessmen stood on one side with the populists on the other. Today there are are two strands of populism, progressive and nationalistic, embedded on both sides. In the UK we have “Take Back Control” versus “Not for Sale”. In the US you have “Make America Great Again” versus “Medicare 4 All”. The populist battle lines are drawn and our gilded elites are by themselves in no mans land, like the peers of a century ago.
Gilding the Lily
Today’s stranded elites, like Ray Dalio or Mike Bloomberg, to name a couple, offer us frightening visions of the future; that we are heading into the Fascist / Communist 1930’s, a period of dictators and depression. They need to pick up a history book as they are off by multiple decades. They have forgotten the chain of events that led to 1930s: we need progressives in power, followed by a world war, hyper inflation, an economic boom, an economic bust, and finally depression. Don’t worry, dictators will soon follow after this!
Keeping an eye on the past is a key responsibility of the political elites. Our credit driven world, which has created such inequality, has brought us to this nationalist vs. progressive narrative. Whoever is in power must now ensure they do not follow the path of the early 20th century and enter an unnecessary war; that will lead to much more uncontrollable set events which would leave us longing for the political divides of today.
Par Gérard Maudrux.
Rebâtir le pacte entre les générations sur le principe d’une solidarité de tous les travailleurs pour tous leurs parents, sans logique de statut ni de rente. Ce n’est pas un saut dans l’inconnu. C’est un retour aux sources de notre République. C’est cela que nous proposons. pic.twitter.com/upif5ZfgII
— Edouard Philippe (@EPhilippePM) December 11, 2019
Le premier Ministre, en préambule souligne avoir « écouté », « entendu » les partenaires sociaux et les Français. 18 mois de » concertations », de débats, d’ « arbitrages » de dernières minutes devant la pression de la rue, mais je ne retrouve pas de déplacements de virgules par rapports aux premiers « projets » en ma possession avant les premières concertations. Rien n’a changé, rien n’a bougé, même si on veut faire croire que les Français ont été entendus.
Cet article pourrait vous interesser
Première annonce dans le discours du Premier Ministre : « la réforme sera fidèle aux valeurs fondatrices de notre système édictées par le Conseil National de la Résistance en 1945 ». Quand on voit le résultat après 70 ans, la référence est surprenante et inquiétante. La Loi de 1974 ne disait rien d’autre non plus dans son article premier.
Annonce suivante très forte : non à la capitalisation, ce sera du 100% répartition. Plus tard il signale que le monde entier fait comme nous, mais il oublie que sur ce point capital dans l’équilibre à long terme, le reste du monde va dans un sens opposé.
Deux minutes plus tard il dit : « nous voulons protéger le pouvoir d’achat des retraités ». Il a la mémoire très courte après l’augmentation de la CSG que les retraités sont seuls à subir, et c’est les prendre pour des imbéciles en parlant de la protection de leur pouvoir d’achat.
Il aborde ensuite l’universalité : « la retraite ne dépendra plus de la démographie de chaque profession ». Pour justifier la fin des caisses professionnelles, c’est tenter de faire croire que la répartition ne dépend pas de la démographie générale, dont dépendra le régime universel en répartition.
« La valeur du point sera garantie par la loi ». Quelle hypocrisie ! Valeur du point ne veut pas dire montant de la retraite, qui peut baisser. En effet, le moyen utilisé depuis des années pour baisser les retraites est d’allonger la durée de cotisation. A âge égal, les retraites baisseront sans que l’on touche à la valeur du point, car on jouera sur les décotes et surcotes, selon que vous ayez droit ou non au taux plein.
Toujours dans l’universalité, empiétant dans l’équité et la justice : « le niveau des pensions des enseignants sera sanctuarisé ». Vous avez dit fin des régimes spéciaux ? Universalité ? Égalité ?
Dans le chapitre « Équité et justice », grande annonce : aucune retraite inférieure à 1 000 euros. Une fois de plus les promesses n’engagent que ceux qui les écoutent, car il ne dit pas comment cela sera financé, pas plus qu’il ne dit, l’histoire se répète, que ses successeurs ne pourront jamais assumer ces promesses, équilibre des comptes oblige. Lui-même d’ailleurs ne dit pas que cette annonce est financée, car il n’y a aucune projection qui accompagne ces affirmations. La cotisation et le rendement prévus sont à peine à l‘équilibre aujourd’hui, sans financer cette mesure.
Enfin au troisième chapitre, il parle de responsabilité des partenaires, tout comme un peu plus tôt : « la valeur du point sera fixée par les partenaires sociaux, sous contrôle de l’État ». Ce contrôle de l’État, je l’ai connu pendant 20 ans : « votre décision, je ne l’accepte pas, ne sors donc pas le décret ». C’est toujours lui qui décide, et personne d’autre.
Reste un point qui n’est pas caché : vous devrez travailler plus longtemps. C’est ce qu’ont fait tous ses prédécesseurs, sans pour autant sacrifier les régimes professionnels qui n’ont jamais pioché dans l’argent public.
Joe Biden may regularly forget what state he's in, or what college he went to, or how long Donald Trump has been in office - but don't worry; the man whose finger would be on the button is privately telling people he'd only serve one term.
According to Politico, the 77-year-old Biden has 'quietly' signaled to aides that he would not seek reelection at the end of his first term, according to four people who regularly talk to Biden and spoke on condition of anonymity - calling the prospect of Biden running in 2024 as the first octogenarian president 'virtually inconceivable.'
"If Biden is elected, he’s going to be 82 years old in four years and he won’t be running for reelection," said one prominent adviser to the campaign.
The adviser argued that public acknowledgment of that reality could help Biden assuage younger voters, especially on the left, who are unexcited by his candidacy and fear that his nomination would serve as an eight-year roadblock to the next generation of Democrats.
By signaling that he will serve just one term and choosing a running mate and Cabinet that is young and diverse, Biden could offer himself to the Democratic primary electorate as the candidate best suited to defeat Trump as well as the candidate who can usher into power the party’s fresh faces. -Politico
"This makes Biden a good transition figure," said the adviser. "I'd love to have an election this year for the next generation of leaders, but if I have to wait four years [in order to] to get rid of Trump, I'm willing to do it."
Another top Biden adviser said: "He’s going into this thinking, ‘I want to find a running mate I can turn things over to after four years but if that’s not possible or doesn’t happen then I’ll run for re-election.’ But he’s not going to publicly make a one term pledge."
In other words - yes, Biden is visibly senile - but trust four anonymous advisers and Politico that he would only stick around for one term. Anything to get Trump out of the White House.
According to the report, pressure has mounted in recent weeks within elite Democratic circles over Biden's age and whether to address it with a one-term pledge.
Still - not all top Democrats agree. Former Clinton campaign adviser John Podesta called a one-term pledge "a weak play."
"I think who his vice president is will be very important because people will be thinking about that. But I don’t think I would make a one-term pledge. You’ve disempowered yourself as president and I don’t think it helps you as a candidate. It accentuates your weakness. It doesn’t fix it."
Either way, Biden is still the frontrunner as America watches him make weekly gaffes that would disqualify most candidates.
Since Thanksgiving there has been a gradual shift among prominent Democrats once deeply skeptical of Biden’s candidacy. In national polls, Elizabeth Warren, who was on a trajectory to topple Biden, has lost all the gains she achieved since July and fallen to third place. Pete Buttigieg, who has replaced Warren as the hot candidate among white college-educated voters, has shown no evidence that, even as he thrills a subset of the Democratic electorate in Iowa, he can achieve broad appeal among African American and Latino voters. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won 43 percent of the primary vote in 2016, has been unable to break out of the mid-teens for most of this year.
Biden’s base of older working-class white and African American voters has been unassailable. A year of national polling of the Democratic primary shows his remarkably consistent support. According to the Real Clear Politics national polling average on Dec. 8, 2018, Biden had 29 percent support nationally. On Dec. 8, 2019, he had 29 percent support.
The greatest threats to Biden’s African-American base have been neutralized. Sen. Kamala Harris has suspended her campaign. Sen. Cory Booker has struggled to qualify for the PBS News Hour/POLITICO Debate, on Dec. 19. Former Gov. Deval Patrick, a pre-Thanksgiving entrant to the race, has barely been heard from and is polling at less than 1 percent. -Politico
That said, while Biden is enjoying a recent boost, his popularity in New Hampshire and Iowa - key states to gauge sentiment, is 'middling' according to Politico, which suggests that poor showings in both states could upend the race.
Biden has also struggled to raise money compared to his three top opponents, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg. Mike Bloomberg, meanwhile, has bought himself into fifth place with tens of millions of dollars.
"Is 81 years old too old to be president? Yes. Is an eighty-one year-old president standing for reelection likely to be successful? He is not. And is it the right thing to do for the country? No. Biden wouldn’t be running if it were President Jeb Bush or President Marco Rubio. He’s running because it’s an exigent circumstance — Donald Trump. The next president will have to have oppositional virtues to the last president. We have a presidency that is defined by abject selfishness, self-regard and self-interest. So a one-term pledge would be viewed as an act of selflessness, putting the country ahead of any ambition," said one political strategist who spoke recently with one of Biden's closest advisers.
Read the rest of the report here.
Once the contagion starts spreading, loose money won't put the fires out.
As the nation's political and economic leaders struggled to contain the 2008 financial meltdown, President George W. Bush famously summed the situation up: "If money doesn't loosen up, this sucker will go down."
Eleven years into the loose money recovery, this sucker is finally going down for reasons that have little to do with tight money and everything to do with the inconvenient fact that none of the structural problems have been addressed, much less actually fixed.
We live in a bizarre world dominated by magical-thinking, a world in which the Federal Reserve creating more dollars out of thin air is supposedly the solution to everything, while all the knotty structural problems--unsupportable pensions and entitlements, unsustainable dependence on debt to fund everything from infrastructure to a new iPhone, a sickcare system that is bankrupting the nation, a higher education system that is looting an entire generation for diplomas with marginal market value, a runaway National Security State that burns trillions on unwinnable wars and lies about it--are left untouched because they're, well, difficult, and it's so much easier to say that looser money will solve everything.
Alas, loose money has created a new set of metastasizing problems that will bring this sucker down: widening wealth-income inequality, the only possible result of our system of creating and distributing new money to banks, financiers and corporations; soaring systemic leverage that few see, much less understand; and perhaps most perverse, yet equally unnoticed, loose money has widened the gap between the real economy and the top layer of arcane finance to the point there is literally no connection at all.
The happy story about debt-dependent capitalism is that thriving companies borrow money from our wunnerful banks to invest in new factories, research, software development, etc., hiring millions of top-notch people--top-notch!--at generous salaries to boost productivity and make the entire nation wealthier.
Alas, it's all a fraud. What actually happens is banks "invest" the new money in faster High Frequency Trading (HFT) computers so they can skim even more profit from the rigged "markets." Productivity increase: zero. Social benefits: zero. Economic benefits to the nation at large: zero.
Virtually all the loose money created by the Fed is socially useless financial activity, enriching the few at the top of the wealth-power pyramid who own the financial machinery of repo's, derivatives, FX swaps, leverage, and all the other tricks of the financial trade that has completely disconnected from the real-world economy.
The conventional media constantly hypes the fantasy that trade deals matter, holiday sales matter, employment numbers matter--none of that matters. The big money is made by gaming the financial system, buying regulatory approval, i.e. legalized looting, funneling a few measly millions to craven politicos who have zero understanding of how the nation's financial system actually works, and then running a monstrous skimming operation behind the complexity thickets of "modern" finance, which all boil down to the same toxic concoction that's destroyed economies throughout history:
-- The unlimited greed of those at the top.
-- No real oversight or limits on financial gaming of the system.
-- Abundant central-bank loose money to fund speculative activity in rigged markets.
-- 100% socially useless financial activity.
-- No limits on leverage, so every $1 of financial legerdemain can spawn a $100 dollar bet.
-- Total dependence on debt to fund the government, consumer spending, corporate buy-backs-- everything.
This sucker is going down, and sooner than we think. The Fed can create trillions out of thin air and give it to banks, financiers and corporations, but they can't force them to actually invest in the nation's real economy or even buy the assets the Fed so desperately wants them to buy, i.e. stocks.
The banks and financiers have used the Fed's trillions to enrich themselves for eleven years, and nothing will stop their legalized looting except a collapse of the entire machine. The great karmic irony is they've rigged and gamed the system so rapaciously, absolutely confident there's no end to the loose money, that they've overlooked the increasing fragility of the entire system they've ruthlessly exploited.
Once the contagion starts spreading, loose money won't put the fires out. The idols and false gods (The Fed et al.) will fail most spectacularly, and the karmic fury will not abate until the every last skim and every last con has been consumed.
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This Daily FRN News Brief is a summary of 11, articles about World, Anglo-5, China, Defense, Eu, Eurasia, Headline-News, Nato, Politics, Russia, Crime, Finance, United-States, Color-Revolution, Libya, Mena, Montenegro, Ksa, Portugal, Latin-America, Mexico, Iran, Israel, Syria. Tags in this brief: African Renaissance, Belt And Road Initiative, Christ, Confucius, Deep State, Depopulation, NATO, New Silk Road, […]
Tomorrow, British voters will head to the polls to cast their ballots in a federal election that will decide the fate of Brexit. According to the latest poll, a strong lead held by the Conservative Party - the party of prime minister Boris Johnson - has started to dissipate, underscoring the notion that turnout is going to be critical for this election.
And the last YouGov poll before the election happens confirmed that Boris Johnson's Conservatives still have a strong lead, but it didn't rule out the possibility of a hung parliament.
According to the FT, a comprehensive survey by the pollsters at YouGov found that the Tories are set to win 339 seats on Thursday, with Labour set for 231, and the Liberal Democrats for 15 and the Scottish National party for 41. According to the FT's analysis of the polls, the latest poll showed that his majority had shrunk to just 28, down from 68 in earlier polls.
The model predicts that seats in the north of England, including Bishop Auckland, Great Grimsby, Don Valley and Ashfield, parts of Labour's infamous "red wall," could turn blue for the first time in history. Meanwhile, in London, the Conservatives are expected to hold on to seats such as Putney and Wimbledon in south London.
As if the possibility of losing the heartland isn't enough of a referendum on Jeremy Corbyn's leadership abilities (his far-left agenda calls for a serious reshaping of the British economy), Labour is also trailing in the typical marginal seats that the party would need to win to secure a majority. These include several constituencies currently held by Labour, including Lincoln, Crewe and Nantwich, which are forecast to flip.
Contrary to what one might expect, the conservative leadership will probably welcome the poll showing a drop in Johnson's margin of victory, since they're afraid of everyone getting complacent.
“We have to keep everyone focused on the prize, we can’t afford to give up now,” said one cabinet minister.
Because the poll, as we mentioned earlier, still leaves open the possibility of a hung parliament.
In a hung parliament, the largest party fails to form a coalition with its rival parties, leaving the UK without a functioning government. If the impasse can't be broken, the British people could be asked to return to the polls for another vote.
Bloomberg has compiled forecasts for how various election scenarios, including the hung parliament, might impact the pound.
In response to the poll, the pound weakened to $1.3107, according to Reuters, before rebounding.
Johnson advisor Dominic Cummings warned Brexit activists not to be complacent. "The polls might say Boris is going to win, but don't believe them," he wrote Wednesday evening in a blog post.
As we've pointed out before, there is precedent for that.
US consumer prices jumped more than expected in November, rising 2.1% YoY - the biggest jump since Nov 2018.
Core CPI rose 2.3% YoY (slightly slower than the last 3 months), with Energy, Used Cars, and Shelter dominating the MoM gains.
The shelter index rose 0.3 percent in November. The index for rent also rose 0.3 percent, while the index for owners’ equivalent rent increased 0.2 percent over the month.
Increases in the indexes for medical care, for recreation, and for food also contributed to the overall increase
Perhaps most notably - given the fearmongering over Trump's tariffs destroying the consumer - Goods prices are showing a notable deceleration as services costs surge...
Nothing here to spook The Fed too much ahead of today's FOMC statement.
Additionally, consumers expect minimal price pressures over the longer term. The University of Michigan's measure long-term inflation expectations matched a record low in the preliminary December survey.
WASHINGTON – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Riabkov said his country does not see the political will of the United States to extend the Strategic Weapons Reduction Treaty (START III) that expires in 2021. “There are no insurmountable problems here, it is a matter of political will. But so far we do not see that […]
The post Russia blames the US for lack of political will to extend the nuclear weapons agreement appeared first on Fort Russ.
Exactly one month ago, Boeing stock soared despite the company's dismal earnings because it claimed that 737 MAX deliveries "could" resume in December. We mocked the headfake at the time for the simple reason that not only was the MAX not coming back this year, but it may well never come back now that Boeing has seen its consumer faith crushed after it emerged it had put the bottom line above passenger safety.
Well, moments ago the Dow Jones Index dipped, when Boeing stock - by far its most influential member - slumped 1% after FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson told CNBC that Boeing‘s timeline isn’t FAA’s timeline, and that the MAX' certification would extend in 2020, meaning the plane would not return to operation this year.
Predictably, BA stock slumped even if the move was far less than its surge on Nov 11 on the now refuted rumor the MAX would come back.
There's a reason for the FAA's caution: earlier today the WSJ reported that U.S. regulators decided to allow the 737 MAX jet to keep flying after its first fatal crash last fall, despite their own analysis "indicating it could become one of the most accident-prone airliners in decades without design changes."
The November 2018 internal Federal Aviation Administration analysis, expected to be released during a House committee hearing Wednesday, reveals that without agency intervention, the MAX could have averaged one fatal crash about every two or three years, according to industry officials and regulators. That amounts to a substantially greater safety risk than either Boeing Co. or the agency indicated publicly at the time.
The assessment and related materials raise new questions about the FAA's decision-making in the wake of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, along with what turned out to be faulty agency assumptions on ways to alleviate hazards.
The FAA's intervention proved inadequate after a second fatal MAX crash, this time in Ethiopia, put the global fleet on the ground and sparked an international controversy over the agency's safety oversight.
And as public outrage is sure to return at both the FAA and Boeing, one can forget about the 737 MAX return to operation any time soon, and perhaps, any time ever.
Update (0930ET): President Trump's son has chimed in on TIME's decision to name Greta Thunberg as Person of the Year, noting a significant 'other' that are fighting for their lives too...
"Time leaves out the Hong Kong Protesters fighting for their lives and freedoms to push a teen being used as a marketing gimmick. How dare you?"
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While many among the resistance must have been hoping for "The Whistleblower" to be crowned, TIME Magazine has instead named 16-year-old climate-alarmist Great Thunberg as "Person of the Year."
The shortlist included Rudy Giuliani, Megan Rapinoe, President Trump, and Nancy Pelosi...
But, as she lambasts world leaders at the Madrd Climate Summit for using "clever accounting and creative PR" to make it look like they are taking firm action in the fight against climate change.
"Our leaders are not behaving as though we were in an emergency," said the teenager.
Seeming to say that the world's elite are as good as murdering children by their lack of panic...
"If there's a child standing in the middle of the road and cars are coming at full speed, you don't look away because it is too uncomfortable. You immediately run out and rescue that child.
"And without that sense of urgency, how can we, the people, understand that we are facing a real crisis."
TIME has decided that the 16-year-old from Sweden, who was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in March, is the Person of the Year...
"She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement," TIME Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal said on TODAY Wednesday.
In a dramatic and lengthy diatribe, TIME heralds 'Greta' as a messiah-like figure who knows all and should be listened to...
“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” she says, tugging on the sleeve of her blue sweatshirt.
“That is all we are saying.”
It’s a simple truth. TIME argues, delivered by a teenage girl in a fateful moment.
Unless they agree on transformative action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world’s temperature rise since the Industrial Revolution will hit the 1.5°C mark—an eventuality that scientists warn will expose some 350 million additional people to drought and push roughly 120 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. For every fraction of a degree that temperatures increase, these problems will worsen. This is not fearmongering; this is science.
“This moment does feel different,” former Vice President Al Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his decades of climate advocacy work, tells TIME.
“Throughout history, many great morally based movements have gained traction at the very moment when young people decided to make that movement their cause.”
The award comes a day after Brazil's President Bolsonaro blasted the teenage girl as a "brat" over her comments regarding deforestation in the Amazon.
For an alternative perspective on the teen, Ricochet's Jon Gabriel previously noted that every week, the rhetoric is ramped up:
“Surviving climate change means an end to burning fossil fuels.
Prepare yourself for sacrifices,” the LA Times warns.
The Guardian writes, “World ‘gravely’ unprepared for effects of climate crisis.”
For the New Yorker, it’s already too late: “What if We Stopped Pretending the Climate Apocalypse Can Be Stopped?”
And 'Greta' is the face of that scaremongering.
Our increasingly anxious kids deserve better. Daily prophecies of global annihilation are deeply unhealthy, not to mention unsupported by the vast majority of research. Even if you accept that human activity is heating the globe, relatively few scientists are predicting the end of the world in 12 years or 17 months.
What Thunberg’s parents are doing to her borders on child abuse. Hyping increasingly apocalyptic claims is spreading that abuse to every other young person.
And when was the last time you heard the teen slamming China?
Seriously, the entire green movement in Europe has simply outsourced Green Gilt to Saudi Arabia, China and India. The planet is no better off, actually worse off. Shutting down 30 coal plants in Germany and opening 60 in China, progress??? https://t.co/cAB68Ikbah— Lawrence McDonald (@Convertbond) December 11, 2019
US futures are trading flat and European shares fell as the looming China tariff deadline was one day closer and still without resolution, while traders awaited the Fed's policy announcement today at 2pm. The MSCI world equity index eked out a small gain after Asian shares advanced earlier.
Market sentiment was dented on Tuesday evening and the Yuan slumped after Trump Trade Adviser Peter Navarro said he "got no indication" that the U.S. would postpone new tariffs on Chinese goods that are due to take effect on Dec. 15. Navarro’s comments conflicted with reports from the WSJ and Bloomberg that cited people familiar with the trade talks as saying Chinese officials expect President Donald Trump to delay the hike to allow more time for the reaching of an interim deal.
Amid the last minute verbal brinkmanship, China's nationalist tabloid Global Times, tweeted that "The US' brinksmanship in using tariffs as leverage to force #China into giving more ground in #tradetalks will not succeed; Instead, it could prompt a new round of tit-for-tat tariff fights, darkening an already pressured global economy and sparking global stock selloff." However, it failed to impact risk assets.
The US' brinksmanship in using tariffs as leverage to force #China into giving more ground in #tradetalks will not succeed; Instead, it could prompt a new round of tit-for-tat tariff fights, darkening an already pressured global economy and sparking global stock selloff: experts pic.twitter.com/YPZVETGRvp— The Business Source (@GlobalTimesBiz) December 11, 2019
The White House’s top economic and trade advisers are expected to meet in coming days with Trump over the decision, as the U.S. President now has only days to decide whether to impose tariffs on nearly $160 billion in Chinese goods.
Investors said an initial trade deal was still likely, since it would benefit both Washington and Beijing. “We still believe that the phase-one deal is something that is convenient for both the presidents on the political and economic side,” Alessia Berardi, senior economist at Amundi. “If the tariffs will be implemented it will be a disaster in the short term.”
Amid the uncertainty over trade - the overriding focus for investors through the year - the European Stoxx 600 index fell, then recovered modestly, dragged down by real estate shares, while Asia stocks were mostly higher after White House adviser Peter Navarro said he had no indication that President Donald Trump will do “anything other than have a great deal or put the tariffs on.”
Earlier in the session, Asian stocks advanced, led by utility companies, as investors looked for signals of a possible initial trade deal between China and the U.S. Markets in the region were mixed, with Hong Kong leading gains and Japan retreating. MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific ex-Japan had earlier risen 0.5%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 led gains with 0.7% rises. The Topix slid for a second day, dragged down by Keyence and Hitachi. The Shanghai Composite Index closed higher for a fifth day of gains, with large banks and insurers among the biggest boosts. China’s top leadership may set the target for economic growth at about 6% for 2020 as they meet this week for their annual policy conclave. India’s Sensex edged up, supported by Housing Development Finance and Kotak Mahindra Bank, as a credit crisis appears to be easing for some borrowers. Indian bonds declined as S&P Global Ratings warned it may lower the nation’s sovereign ratings if economic growth doesn’t recover.
In the Middle East, Saudi Aramco shares surged by a 10% limit above their IPO price in their first day of trading. That gave the extremely illiquid state-controlled oil company a market value of about $1.88 trillion, making it the world’s most valuable listed company.
In addition to trade, investors will be focused on meetings by major central banks starting with the Fed which at its policy meeting later today is widely expected to hold rates steady, with investors watching for changes to its view on the economy and its 2% growth forecast for next year. The Fed’s statement is due at 2pm ET. A surprise when U.S. inflation data are released at 830am would further reduce chances for rate cuts next year.
Then on Thursday, the ECB will hold its first meeting and news conference with Christine Lagarde. “Everything is positioned for the two major central banks to stay accommodative,” Berardi said.
"The markets have become numb to the noise” on trade, Allianz portfolio manager Burns McKinney told Bloomberg TV. "The FOMC meeting, the election in the U.K. and then later this week the December 15 deadline are all factors that I think the markets have generally not priced in any bad news."
The British pound, a high-flier of late, dropped from a seven-month peak after an opinion poll projected a narrower-than-expected victory for the Conservative party in the British election on Thursday. The election is set to decide how the UK will leave the European Union, if at all. The pound fell as low as $1.3107 after a YouGov poll showed the ruling Conservatives heading towards a slimmer majority than was forecast a fortnight ago. YouGov’s research director said the results showed a hung parliament was possible.
Sterling later recovered some of its losses after dropping 1% from its high on Tuesday, when investors were more confident of a Conservative victory that they expect will end uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the EU. It was last trading flat at $1.3151.
Elsewhere, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index edged higher, rising for the first time in three days, ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy decision. The krona rose versus all major peers and reached a seven-month high against the euro after Sweden’s November inflation print beat estimates and all but guaranteed that the Riksbank will make history next week, as policy makers look set to end half a decade of negative interest rates. The euro was last down 0.8% against the crown at 10.454, leaving the Swedish currency at its strongest since late April.
The yuan weakened after Navarro said he “got no indication” that the U.S. would postpone new tariffs on Chinese goods that are due to take effect on Dec. 15. The Chinese currency declined as much as 0.17% in the offshore market on Wednesday and weakened up to 0.10% onshore. Stephen Chiu, Asia FX and rates strategist at Bloomberg Intelligence, expects the impact of trade war developments on the yuan to diminish as investors get used to twists and turns around the negotiations. "Even if there is no delay in tariff increase, I don’t think the yuan will rise too much. It should be capped at 7.1 per dollar."
In commodities, Brent futures fell by 52 cents, or 0.8%, to $63.82 per barrel by late morning, after industry data showed an unexpected build-up in crude inventories in the United States.
Looking at the day ahead, the focus will clearly be on the aforementioned Fed meeting this evening. There is also important data with the November CPI report due out in the US just after lunch, while the November monthly budget statement is also scheduled for tonight. There is no data of note in Europe today. Elsewhere, OPEC is due to issue its monthly oil market report.
Top Overnight News
A non-committal tone persisted across Asia-Pac equity markets following conflicting US-China tariff reports and as this week’s risk events drew closer beginning with the FOMC meeting due later today. The latest trade headlines have been varied as initial reports suggested that US and Chinese officials are planning for a delay of December 15th tariffs as they negotiate on agricultural purchases, although President Trump was said to remain undecided and both NEC Director Kudlow and White House Trade Advisor Navarro have leaned back from the notion of a tariff postponement. This has resulted to mixed trade for ASX 200 (+0.7%) and Nikkei 225 (U/C) with Australia lifted by outperformance in the defensive sectors and price action in Tokyo kept to within a tight range as sentiment among large firms deteriorated to a 3-year low, while Hang Seng (+0.7%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.2%) were predominantly indecisive on the differing trade signals, with stronger than expected Chinese financing and lending data doing little to spur upside as participants also contemplated over continued PBoC liquidity inaction and regional growth downgrades from ADB which forecasts growth for the world’s 2nd largest economy to slip below 6% next year. Finally, 10yr JGBs saw a resumption of the recent declines following similar pressure in T-notes, while demand was also subdued by a lack of BoJ buying with the central bank only in the market today for treasury discount bills.
Top Asian News
A choppy session for European equities thus far [Eurostoxx 50 -0.2%] following on from a lacklustre APAC session heading into key macro risk events. Broad-based losses are seen across the board, albeit the FTSE 100 (-0.2%) is largely moving in tandem with the Pound ahead of tomorrow’s UK general election and after the latest MRP polling from YouGov. Sectors are mixed with Utilities propped up in part by Germany’s E.ON (+1.6%) and RWE (+0.7%) amid source reports that Germany will allow the companies to keep their existing carbon emissions certificates due to coal unit shutdowns. That said, the sector’s defensive nature could also be providing some support. Meanwhile, the IT sector is underperforms, potentially on trade jitters amid conflicting reports and rhetoric from both the US and China sides. In terms of individual movers – JD Sports Fashion (-8.7%) shares tumbled at the open after its top shareholder cut its stake in the company but retained his position as major shareholder. Credit Suisse (-0.5%) remains modestly pressured after it revised down its 2020 ROTE guidance to around 10% vs. Prev. 10-11%. On the flipside, Tullow Oil (+5.6%) continues to nurse its wounds following its recent 70% slump, whilst Inditex (+2.7%) is buoyed post-earnings, which showed an YY gains in net profit, net sales, EBITDA and gross profits.
Top European News
In FX, Not quite polar opposites, but contrasting fortunes for the Swedish Krona and Sterling in wake of inflation data and the final pre-UK election poll from YouGov, as the former eclipsed market expectations and matched Riksbank forecasts to effectively seal a repo rate hike next week. However, the MRP survey implies a much tighter result this Thursday than the previous findings, with a projected Tory majority of 28 seats vs 68 seats around the end of November and even that prediction subject to the usual margins of error. In response, Eur/Sek has recoiled sharply to test 10.4500 support vs highs close to 10.5400 and 10.5800+ on Tuesday, while Cable has pulled back from just over 1.3200 to circa 1.3140 after probing bids ahead of 1.3100 and Eur/Gbp bounced through 0.8450 at one stage before fading.
In commodities, mixed trade in the commodities complex with WTI and Brent futures retreating from 12-week highs following last night’s weekly API figures – with crude headline printing a surprise build of 1.41mln barrels vs. expected draw of 2.8mln. Further, the internals came in mostly bearish with distillates and gasoline showing higher-than-forecast builds whilst Cushing printed a deeper-than-expected draw. Traders will be waiting for confirmation from the EIA later today. Meanwhile OPEC’s monthly report (to be released at 13:00GMT) may garner some attention given the EIA STEO left its global oil demand forecast unchanged and included a downward revision to their 2020 US oil supply growth forecast. ING is not surprised by the downward revision given the slowdown seen in US rig activity. In terms of a more macro picture, crude markets will be vulnerable to any US-China headlines amid the contradicting reports regarding tariffs due to be implemented this Sunday. Aside from that, the FOMC’s latest monetary policy decision later could provide the complex with some sentiment-driven action. Today also marked the first trading session for Saudi Aramco, whose shares opened at SAR 35.2 vs. and IPO price of SAR 32.0, hitting limit up after rising 10% and surpassing its earlier valuation of USD 1.7tln. Looking at metals, spot gold prices remain supported ahead of the aforementioned events, with the yellow metal surpassing its 21DMA (USD 1465.50/oz) with eyes on yesterday’s high at USD 1469.15/oz. Copper prices continue to rise and have topped 2.75/lb with its 100 DMA residing around 2.8060/lb. Finally, nickel prices came under pressure in early APAC trade after inventories spiked 21% YY, the largest increase since 2008, but despite this the metal reversed course with the only pertinent news being Indonesia doubling royalties for the ore to 10% - making it more expensive for buyers, thus some front-loading effects may have been priced in.
US Event Calendar
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
Markets are focused on navigating the last couple of weeks of 2019 for now with the next hurdle being the FOMC meeting tonight although in fairness it’s probably hard to get too excited given that the Fed is firmly on hold for now with the recent data helping to underscore that position. Markets have priced that in and the view from our economists is that the meeting statement should largely mirror the communique from the last meeting.
We will also get the latest summary of economic projections although our colleagues also expect only very modest changes, most notably downgrades to the median views on inflation and long-run unemployment. The dot plots should also adjust 25bps lower to account for the rate cut in October and still show an upward drift over time to a neutral level that is somewhat lower. That leaves Powell’s press conference which our team believe will echo recent remarks, which indicate that the Committee sees policy in a good place barring a "material reassessment" to the outlook. In this context, the team expect the Chair's comments to reflect his implicit message from October that, while the bar to cutting rates is high, the bar for hiking is even higher.
A reminder that the meeting outcome will be at 7pm GMT/2pm EST, while prior to that we’re also expecting the November CPI report in the US where the consensus expects a +0.2% mom core reading. Back to markets where the main story yesterday was the WSJ reporting that US and China negotiators are planning for a delay of tariffs due to kick in from this Sunday. In fairness this did appear to be what markets had expected even if there were one or two doubts in recent weeks with the story also suggesting that Chinese and US officials “don’t have a hard deadline”. However to add some confusion to the picture, the White House’s Kudlow said later on that the December 15th tariffs are “still on the table” and overnight Commerce Secretary Ross has said that he has “no indication” that the President will do anything other than “have a great deal or put the tariffs on”.
The mixed messages resulted in a bit of a directionless session for US equities with the S&P 500 ebbing between gains and losses before ultimately finishing -0.11% on lower than average volumes. The NASDAQ and DOW closed -0.07% and -0.10% respectively while the VIX ended just below 16. Prior to this in Europe the STOXX 600 had closed -0.26% albeit off the lows for the session. Bond markets weren’t much more exciting with 10y Treasury yields up +2.3bps and yields in Europe up a similar amount. The exception were BTPs which ended -3.4bps lower.
The picture isn’t a whole lot clearer in Asia this morning. We’ve seen small gains for the Hang Seng (+0.33%) and Kospi (+0.34%) offset by a mixed performance for bourses in China (Shanghai Comp +0.12%), CSI 300 -0.04%) and a small loss for the Nikkei (-0.18%) We should note that after we went to print yesterday November credit data in China was broadly better than expected which combined with the recent bounce in PMIs should be supportive for the growth narrative.
Also out last night was the last YouGov MRP survey with the results showing the Conservatives to win 339 seats and therefore giving a majority of 28 seats, versus 231 for Labour. The previous iteration of the poll showed the Conservatives with a lead of 68 seats so the forecasted lead has been cut in half which makes things a little more interesting ahead of the vote tomorrow. Sterling dropped as much as -0.81% after the poll was released although has recovered slightly as we go to print to trade at $1.314.
The other news yesterday was mostly political. As expected the US, Canada and Mexico all agreed to sign the USMCA with House Ways and Means Panel Chairman Neal saying that it is likely that the pact will be voted on next week. Meanwhile in the US the Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against President Trump on abuse of power and obstruction. Both of those developments caused barely a ripple in markets.
As far as the data was concerned yesterday, the highlight in Europe was an improving ZEW survey in Germany. Indeed the December current situation component improved 4.8pts to -19.9 which bettered expectations for -22.0. That matches the September level while the expectations component improved a more notable 12.8pts to +10.7 (vs. +0.3 expected) which puts it back at the highest level since February 2018.
The hard data was a bit more mixed though with October industrial production surprising to the upside in France (+0.4% mom vs. +0.2% expected) but to the downside in Italy (-0.3% mom vs. -0.2% expected). In the UK the data also disappointed (+0.1% mom vs. +0.2% expected) while the October monthly GDP print of 0.0% was also weaker than expected (+0.1% mom expected). Adding to the pain for the UK was the much wider than expected trade deficit, albeit likely impacted by stockpiling.
Finally in the US the final Q3 readings for nonfarm productivity and unit labour costs were both revised down, to -0.2% qoq (from -0.1%) and +2.5% qoq (from +3.4%) respectively. The latter had been sending a firmer inflation message ahead so the downward revision falls closer in line with more muted inflation indicators from other leading indicators.
Finally to the day ahead, where the focus will clearly be on the aforementioned Fed meeting this evening. There is also important data with the November CPI report due out in the US just after lunch, while the November monthly budget statement is also scheduled for tonight. There is no data of note in Europe today. Elsewhere, OPEC is due to issue its monthly oil market report.
Agha HUSSAIN, Whitney WEBB
“We want to bring our soldiers home. But we did leave soldiers because we’re keeping the oil,” President Trump stated on November 3, before adding, “I like oil. We’re keeping the oil.”
Though he had promised a withdrawal of U.S. troops from their illegal occupation of Syria, Trump shocked many with his blunt admission that troops were being left behind to prevent Syrian oil resources from being developed by the Syrian government and, instead, kept in the hands of whomever the U.S. deemed fit to control them, in this case, the U.S.-backed Kurdish-majority militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Though Trump himself received all of the credit — and the scorn — for this controversial new policy, what has been left out of the media coverage is the fact that key players in the U.S.’ pro-Israel lobby played a major role in its creation with the purpose of selling Syrian oil to the state of Israel. While recent developments in the Syrian conflict may have hindered such a plan from becoming reality, it nonetheless offers a telling example of the covert role often played by the U.S.’ pro-Israel lobby in shaping key elements of U.S. foreign policy and closed-door deals with major regional implications.
Indeed, the Israel lobby-led effort to have the U.S. facilitate the sale of Syrian oil to Israel is not an isolated incident given that, just a few years ago, other individuals connected to the same pro-Israel lobby groups and Zionist neoconservatives manipulated both U.S. policy and Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in order to allow Iraqi oil to be sold to Israel without the approval of the Iraqi government. These designs, not unlike those that continue to unfold in Syria, were in service to longstanding neoconservative and Zionist efforts to balkanize Iraq by strengthening the KRG and weakening Baghdad.
After the occupation of Iraq’s Nineveh Governorate by ISIS (June 2014-October 2015), the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) took advantage of the Iraqi military’s retreat and, amidst the chaos, illegally seized Kirkuk on June 12. Their claim to the city was supported by both the U.S. and Israel and, later, the U.S.-led coalition targeting ISIS. This gave the KRG control, not only of Iraq’s export pipeline to Turkey’s Ceyhan port, but also to Iraq’s largest oil fields.
Israel imported massive amounts of oil from the Kurds during this period, all without the consent of Baghdad. Israel was also the largest customer of oil sold by ISIS, who used Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk to sell oil in areas of Iraq and Syria under its control. To do this in ISIS-controlled territories of Iraq, the oil was sent first to the Kurdish city of Zakho near the Turkey border and then into Turkey, deceptively labeled as oil that originated from Iraqi Kurdistan. ISIS did nothing to impede the KRG’s own oil exports even though they easily could have given that the Kirkuk-Ceyhan export pipeline passed through areas that ISIS had occupied for years.
In retrospect, and following revelations from Wikileaks and new information regarding the background of relevant actors, it has been revealed that much of the covert maneuvering behind the scenes that enabled this scenario intimately involved the United States’ powerful pro-Israel lobby. Now, with a similar scenario unfolding in Syria, efforts by the U.S.’ Israel lobby to manipulate U.S. foreign policy in order to shift the flow of hydrocarbons for Israel’s benefit can instead be seen as a pattern of behavior, not an isolated incident.
“Keep the oil” for Israel
After recent shifts in the Trump administration in its Syria policy, U.S. troops have controversially been kept in Syria to “keep the oil,” with U.S. military officials subsequently claiming that doing so was “a subset of the counter-ISIS mission.” However, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper later claimed that another factor behind U.S. insistence on guarding Syrian oil fields was to prevent the extraction and subsequent sale of Syrian oil by either the Syrian government or Russia.
One key, yet often overlooked, player behind the push to prevent a full U.S. troop withdrawal in Syria in order to “keep the oil” was current U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield. Satterfield was previously the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, where he yielded great influence over U.S. policy in both Iraq and Syria and worked closely with Brett McGurk, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran and later special presidential envoy for the U.S.-led “anti-ISIS” coalition.
Over the course of his long diplomatic career, Satterfield has been known to the U.S. government as an Israeli intelligence asset embedded in the U.S. State Department. Indeed, Satterfield was named as a major player in what is now known as the AIPAC espionage scandal, also known as the Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal, although he was oddly never charged for his role after the intervention of his superiors at the State Department in the George W. Bush administration.
In 2005, federal prosecutors cited a U.S. government official as having illegally passed classified information to Steve Rosen, then working for AIPAC, who then passed that information to the Israeli government. That classified information included intelligence on Iran and the nature of U.S.-Israeli intelligence sharing. Subsequent media reports from the New York Times and other outlets revealed that this government official was none other than David Satterfield, who was then serving as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs.
Charges against Rosen, as well as his co-conspirator and fellow AIPAC employee Keith Weissman, were dropped in 2009 and no charges were levied against Satterfield after State Department officials shockingly claimed that Satterfield had “acted within his authority” in leaking classified information to an individual working to advance the interests of a foreign government. Richard Armitage, a neoconservative ally with a long history of ties to CIA covert operations in the Middle East and elsewhere, has since claimed that he was one of Satterfield’s main defenders in conversations with the FBI during this time when he was serving as Deputy Secretary of State.
The other government official named in the indictment, former Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin, was not so lucky and was charged under the Espionage Act in 2006. Satterfield, instead of being censured for his role in leaking sensitive information to a foreign government, was subsequently promoted in 2006 to serve as the Coordinator for Iraq and Senior Adviser to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In addition to his history of leaking classified information to AIPAC, Satterfield also has a longstanding relationship with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a controversial spin-off of AIPAC also known by its acronym WINEP. WINEP’s website has long listed Satterfield as one of its experts and Satterfield has spoken at several WINEP events and policy forums, including several after his involvement with the AIPAC espionage scandal became public knowledge. However, despite his longstanding and controversial ties to the U.S. pro-Israel lobby, Satterfield’s current relationship with some elements of that lobby, such as the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), is complicated at best.
While Satterfield’s role in yet another reversal of a promised withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria has largely escaped media scrutiny, another individual with deep ties to the Israel lobby and Syrian “rebel” groups has also been ignored by the media, despite his outsized role in taking advantage of this new U.S. policy for Israel’s benefit.
US Israel Lobby secures deal with Kurds
Earlier this year, well before Trump’s new Syria policy of “keeping the oil” had officially taken shape, another individual with deep ties to the U.S. Israel lobby secured a lucrative agreement with U.S.-backed Kurdish groups in Syria. An official document issued earlier this year by the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political arm of the Kurdish majority and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a New Jersey-based company, founded and run by U.S.-Israeli dual citizen Mordechai “Motti” Kahana, was given control of the oil in territory held by the SDC.
Per the document, the SDC formally accepted the offer from Kahana’s company — Global Development Corporation (GDC) — to represent SDC in all matters pertaining to the sale of oil extracted in territory it controls and also grants GDC “the right to explore and develop oil that is located in areas we govern.”
The SDC’s formal acceptance of Global Development Corporation’s offer to develop Syrian oil fields. Source | Al-Akhbar
The document also states that the amount of oil then being produced in SDC-controlled areas was 125,000 barrels per day and that they anticipated that this would increase to 400,000 barrels per day and that this oil is considered a foreign asset under the control of the United States by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
After the document was made public by the Lebanese outlet Al-Akhbar, the SDC claimed that it was a forgery, even though Kahana had separately confirmed its contents and shared the letter itself to the Los Angeles Times as recently as a few weeks ago. Kahana previously attempted to distance himself from the effort and told the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom in July that he had made the offer to the SDC as means to prevent the “Assad regime” of Syria from obtaining revenue from the sale of Syrian oil.
The Kurds currently hold 11 oil wells in an area controlled by the [Syrian] Democratic Forces. The overwhelming majority of Syrian oil is in that area. I don’t want this oil reaching Iran, or the Assad regime.”
At the time, Kahana also stated that “the moment the Trump administration gives its approval, we can begin to export this oil at fair prices.”
Given that Kahana has openly confirmed that he is representing the SDC’s oil business shortly after Trump’s adoption of the controversial “keep the oil policy,” it seems plausible that Kahana has now received the approval needed for his company to export the oil on behalf of the SDC. Several media reports have speculated that, if Kahana’s efforts go forward unimpeded, the Syrian oil will be sold to Israel.
However, considering Turkey’s aversion to engaging in any activities that may benefit the PKK-SDF – there are considerable obstacles to Kahana’s plans. While the SDF — along with assistance from U.S. troops — still controls several oil fields in Syria, experts assert that they can only realistically sell the oil to the Syrian government. Not even the Iraqi Kurds are a candidate, considering Baghdad’s firm control over the Iraq-Syria border and the KRG’s weakened state after its failed independence bid in late 2017.
Regardless, Kahana’s involvement in this affair is significant for a few reasons. First, Kahana has been a key player in the promotion and funding of radical groups in Syria and has even been caught hiring so-called “rebels” to kidnap Syrian Jews and take them to Israel against their will. It was Kahana, for instance, who financed and orchestrated the now infamous trip of the late Senator John McCain to Syria, where he met with Syrian “rebels” including Khalid al-Hamad – a “moderate” rebel who gained notoriety after a video of him eating the heart of a Syrian Army soldier went viral online. McCain had also admitted meeting with ISIS members, though it is unclear if he did so on this trip or another trip to Syria.
In addition, Kahana was also the mastermind behind the “Caesar” controversy, whereby a Syrian using the pseudonym “Caesar” was brought to the U.S. by Kahana and went on to make claims regarding torture and other crimes allegedly committed by the Assad-led government Syria, claims which were later discredited by independent analysts. He was also very involvedin Israel’s failed efforts to establish a “safe zone” in Southern Syria as a means of covertly expanding Israel’s territory from the occupied Golan Heights and into Quneitra.
Notably, Kahana has deep ties — not just to efforts to overthrow the Syrian government — but also to U.S. Israel lobby, including the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) where Satterfield is as an expert. For instance, Kahana was a key player in a 2013 symposiumorganized by WINEP along with Syrian opposition groups intimately involved in the arming of so-called “rebels.” One of the other participants in the symposium alongside Kahana was Mouaz Moustafa, director of the “Syrian Emergency Task Force” who assisted Kahana in bringing McCain to Syria in 2013. Moustafa was listed as a WINEP expert on the organization’s website but was later mysteriously deleted.
Kahana is also intimately involved with the Israeli American Council (IAC), a pro-Israel lobby organization, as a team member of its national conference. IAC was co-founded and is chaired by Adam Milstein, a multimillionaire and convicted felon who is also on the boards of AIPAC, StandWithUs, Birthright and other prominent pro-Israel lobby organizations. One of IAC’s top donors is Sheldon Adelson, who is also the top donor to President Trump as well as the entire Republican Party.
Though the machinations of both Kahana and Satterfield to guide U.S. policy in order to manipulate the flow of Syria’s hydrocarbons for Israel’s benefit may seem shocking to some, this same tactic of pro-Israel lobbyists using the Kurds to illegally sell a country’s oil to Israel was developed a few years prior, not in Syria, but Iraq. Notably, the individuals responsible for that policy in Iraq shared connections to several of the same pro-Israel lobby organizations as both Satterfield and Kahana, suggesting that their recent efforts in Syria are not an isolated event, but a pattern.
War against ISIS is a war for oil
In an email dated June 15, 2014, James Franklin Jeffrey (former Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey and current U.S. Special Representative for Syria) revealed to Stephen Hadley, a former George Bush administration advisor then working at the government-funded United States Institute of Peace, his intent to advise the KRG in order to sustain Kirkuk’s oil production. The plan, as Jeffery described it, was to supply both the Kurdistan province with oil and allow the export of oil via Kirkuk-Ceyhan to Israel, robbing Iraq of its oil and strengthening the country’s Kurdish region along with its regional government’s bid for autonomy.
Jeffrey, whose hawkish views on Iran and Syria are well-known, mentioned that Brett McGurk, the U.S.’ main negotiator between Baghdad and the KRG, was acting as his liaison with the KRG. McGurk, who had served in various capacities in Iraq under both Bush and Obama, was then also serving Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran. A year later, he would be made the special presidential envoy for the U.S.-led “anti-ISIS” coalition and, as previously mentioned, worked closely with David Satterfield.
Jeffrey was then a private citizen not currently employed by the government and was used as a non-governmental channel in the pursuit of the plans described in the leaked emails published by WikiLeaks. Jeffrey’s behind-the-scenes activities with regards to the KRG’s oil exports were done clandestinely, largely because he was then employed by a prominent arm of the U.S.’ pro-Israel lobby.
At the time of the email, Jeffrey was serving as a distinguished fellow (2013-2018) at WINEP. As previously mentioned, WINEP is a pro-Israel foreign policy think-tank that espouses neoconservative views and was created in 1985 by researchers that had hastily left AIPAC to escape investigations against the organization that were related to some of its members conducting espionage on behalf of Israel. AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, is the largest registered Israel lobbyist organization in the US (albeit registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act would be more suitable), and, in addition to the 1985 incident that led to WINEP’s creation, has had members indicted for espionage against the U.S. on Israel’s behalf.
WINEP’s launch was funded by former President of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Barbara Weinberg, who is its founding president and constant Chairman Emerita. Nicknamed ‘Barbi’, she is the wife of the late Lawrence Weinberg who was President of AIPAC from 1976-81 and who JJ Goldberg, author of the 1997 book Jewish Power, referred to as one of a select few individuals who essentially dominated AIPAC regardless of its elected leadership. Co-founder alongside Weinberg was Martin Indyk. Indyk, U.S. Ambassador to Israel (1995-97) and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1997-99), led the AIPAC research time that formed WINEP to escape the aforementioned investigations.
WINEP has historically received funding from donors who donate to causes of special interest for Zionism and Israel. Among its trustees are extremely prominent names in political Zionism and funders of other Israel Lobby organizations, such as Charles and Edgar Bronfman and the Chernicks. Its membership remains dominated by individuals who have spent their careers promoting Israeli interests in the U.S.
WINEP has become more well-known, and arguably more controversial, in recent years after its research director famously called for false-flag attacks to trigger a U.S. war with Iran in 2012, statements well-aligned with longstanding attempts by the Israel Lobby to bring about such a war.
A worthy partner in crime
Stephen Hadley, another private citizen who Jeffrey evidently considered as a partner in his covert dealings discussed in the emails, also has his own past of involvement with Israel-specific intrigues and meddling.
During the G.W. Bush administration, Hadley tagged along with neoconservatives in their numerous creations of fake intelligence and efforts to incriminate Iraq for possessing chemical and nuclear weapons. Hadley was one of the promoters from within the U.S. government of the false claim that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi officials in Prague.
Hadley also worked with then-Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Lewis Libby — a neoconservative and former lawyer for the Mossad-agent and billionaire Marc Rich — to discredit a CIA investigation into claims of Iraq purchasing yellowcake uranium from Niger. That claim famously appeared in Bush’s State of the Union address in 2002.
What this particular claim had in common with the ‘Iraq meets Atta in Prague’ disinformation, and other famous lies against Iraq fabricated and circulated by the dense neocon network, was its source: Israel and pro-Israel partisans.
The distribution network of these now long-debunked claims was none other than the neoconservatives who act a veritable Israeli fifth column that has long sought to promote Israeli foreign policy objectives as being in the interest of the United States. In this, Hadley played his part by helping to ensure that the United States was railroaded into a war that had long been promoted by both Israeli and American neoconservatives, particularly Richard Perle — an advisor to WINEP — who had been promoting regime change in Iraq for Israel’s explicit benefit for decades.
In short, for covert intrigues to serve Israel that would likely be met with protest if pitched to the government for implementation as policy, Hadley’s resume was impressive.
Israeli interests pursued through covert channels
Given his employment at WINEP during this time, Jeffrey’s intent to advise the KRG to sustain Kirkuk’s oil production despite the seizure of the Baiji oil refinery by ISIS is somewhat suspect, especially since it required that 100,000 barrels per day pass through ISIS-controlled territory unimpeded.
Jeffrey’s email from June 14, therefore, demonstrated that he had foreknowledge that ISIS would not disturb the KRG as long as the Kurds redirected oil that was intended originally for Baiji to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan export pipeline, facilitating its export and later sale to Israel.
Notably, up until its liberation in mid-2015 by the Iraqi government and aligned Shia paramilitaries, ISIS kept the refinery running and, only upon their retreat, destroyed the facility.
In July 2014, the KRG began confidently supplying Kurdish areas with Kirkuk’s oil per the plan laid out by Jeffrey in the aforementioned email. Baghdad soon became aware of the arrangement and lashed out at Israel and Turkey, whose banks were used by the KRG to receive the oil revenue from Israel.
One would normally expect ISIS to be opposed to such collusion given that the KRG, while a beneficiary of the ISIS-Baghdad conflict, was not an ally of ISIS. Thus, a foreign power with strategic ties to ISIS used its close ties to the KRG and assurances that it was on-board for the oil trade, to deliver a credible guarantee that ISIS would ‘cooperate’ and that a boom in production and exports was in the cards.
This foreign power — acting as a guarantor for the ISIS-KRG understanding vis-a-vis the illegal oil economy, represented by Jeffrey and clearly not on good terms with Iraq’s government — was quite clearly Israel.
Israel established considerable financial support as well as the provision of armaments to other extremist terrorist groups active near the border between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Southern Syria when war first broke out in Syria in 2011. At least four of these extremist groups were led by individuals with direct ties to Israeli intelligence. These same groups, sometimes promoted as ‘moderates’ by some media, were actively fighting Syria’s government – an enemy of Israel and ally of Iran – before ISIS existed and eagerly partnered with ISIS when it expanded its campaign into Syria.
Furthermore, Israeli officials have publicly admitted maintaining regular communication with ISIS cells in Southern Syria and have publicly expressed their desire that ISIS not be defeated in the country. In Libya, Israeli Mossad operatives have been found embedded within ISIS, suggesting that Israel has covert but definite ties with the group outside of Syria as well.
Israel has also long promoted the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, with Israel having provided Iraq’s Kurds with weapons, training and teams of Mossad advisers as far back as the 1960s. More recently, Israel was the only state to support the KRG independence referendum in September 2017 despite its futility, hinting at the regard Israel holds for the KRG. Iraq’s government subsequently militarily defeated the KRG’s push for statehood and reclaimed Kirkuk’s oil fields with assistance from the Shia paramilitaries which were responsible for defeating ISIS in the area.
A 2014 map shows the areas under ISIS and Kurdish control at the time. Source | Telegraph
This arrangement orchestrated by Jeffrey, served the long-time neoconservative-Israeli agenda of empowering the Kurds, selling Iraqi oil to Israel and weakening Iraq’s Baghdad-based government.
WINEP’s close association with AIPAC, which has spied on the U.S. on behalf of Israel several times in the past with no consequence, combined with Jeffrey’s long-time acquaintance with key U.S. figures in Iraq, such as McGurk, provided an ideal opening for Israel in Iraq. Following the implementation of Jeffrey’s plan, Israeli imports of KRG oil constituted 77 percent of Israel’s total oil imports during the KRG’s occupation of Kirkuk.
The WINEP connection to the KRG-Israel oil deal demonstrates the key role played by the U.S. pro-Israel Lobby, not only in terms of sustaining U.S. financial aid to Israel and ratcheting up tensions with Israel’s adversaries but also in facilitating the more covert aspects of U.S.-Israeli cooperation and the implementation of policies that favor Israel.
Yet the role played by the U.S. Israel lobby in this capacity, particularly in terms of orchestrating oil sale agreements for Israel’s benefit, is hardly exclusive to Iraq and can accurately be described as a repeated pattern of behavior.
MOSCOW – The Russian Armed Forces will soon have technology that will allow them to deploy an aerodrome network beyond the Arctic Circle in a matter of hours. Any type of helicopter in service in Russia will be able to replenish its ammunition, refuel or make minor repairs to these mobile airfields. These structures will […]
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Is Jamie Dimon about to get the old bonesaw for leaving $180BN on the table?
Saudi Arabia's oil company Aramco soared 10% limit up on its first day of trading, reaching a valuation of $1.88 trillion, higher than any other publicly traded company in the world. This means that after pricing its IPO at $1.7 trillion, Jamie Dimon left about $180 billion on the table, which will hardly impress the Crown Prince.
The record valuation reflects an oversubscribed book of mostly local investors who bought shares on the Saudi Tadawul stock exchange after they were forced by Riyadh to pump the stock.
Aramco only sold a tiny 1.5% sliver in the company, meaning that the kingdom and Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) could easily manipulate the price with such a small fraction of the stock public. Aramco listed on the Tadawul exchange because of other international exchanges and their investors found it hard to value the oil company near the $2 trillion levels.
"They have had to launch the IPO on their own stock exchange as the valuation was unlikely to be achieved elsewhere," said John Colley, associate dean at Warwick Business School in the U.K, who spoke with Reuters.
Colley said the IPO pump is likely buyers affiliated with the kingdom. Aramco sold .50% of its shares to individual retail investors, many of whom were Saudi nationals, financially incentivized by the kingdom. The remaining 1% were domestic institutional investors and other financial institutions from surrounding countries.
Reuters noted that Aramco would be offering a dividend of at least $75 billion in 2020 to entice investors to hold. Also, investors who hold for more than six months could be rewarded with up to 100 bonus shares.
Saudi Arabia's central bank doubled leverage for retail investors ahead of the IPO.
State investment funds, like Public Pension Agency and PIF's Sanabil Investments unit, are among domestic institutions who were buying shares in the open market, reported Financial Times, adding that wealthy Saudi families were ordered by the kingdom to purchase stock.
As the FT reported ahead of the IPO, Saudi Arabia was "persuading" local institutions and wealthy families to buy shares in Saudi Aramco after its initial public offering, as part of a plan to drive up the stock price: the focus was to reach company’s $2t targeted valuation, and as of this morning, the company is more than halfway there from $1.7 trillion.
Families have been asked to pledge further funds, one unidentified adviser to families say
State investment funds were also "encouraged" to buy shares.
Public Pension Agency, the Public Investment Fund and the PIF’s Sanabil Investments unit are among institutions likely to be called on to support the shares once they are trading, FT reports
Aramco declined to comment; PPA did not respond to FT’s requests for comment, PIF denied it would intervene to support the price although clearly that's precisely what it was doing this morning.
The result of this massive pump spurred by the kingdom, which sent shares soaring by the 10% limit on opening day, was Mohamed bin Salman's attempt to catapult Aramco's valuation over the $2 trillion level.
"Aramco should easily get to the $2 trillion valuation as soon as tomorrow; there is plenty of appetite for it," Marie Salem, the head of institutions at Daman Securities in Dubai, told Bloomberg.
The Aramco IPO proceeds ($25.6 billion) will be used by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) to fund his Vision 2030 initiative and transform the Saudi economy away from oil and gas.
As MbS and Aramco can claim fame to the world's largest IPO, there was very little participation from foreign institutions, hence why the kingdom incentivized domestic funds and citizens to buy the stock on the day of the IPO.
Monica Malik, the chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, told Reuters while Ice Brent Crude futures trade around $63-$64, the kingdom needs about $87 per barrel to balance its budget.
And one day before the IPO, the finance minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed al-Jadaan told CNBC's Hadley Gamble that he rejected claims that the kingdom is running out of money.
"No we are not running out of money," al-Jadaan said.
Last month, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) David Petraeus told CNBC that he believed Saudi Arabia is "gradually running out of money," which could explain why Aramco was rushed to IPO.
Sustainability of the Aramco IPO is questionable considering international participation is weak, and the kingdom not only forced domestic buyers to load up as much as they could but also were told to use leverage.
Macroeconomic headwinds of a slowing global economy, dropping Chinese demand and declining fuel consumption across the world could put down pressure on oil prices heading into the new year, but none of that matters because the kingdom has orchestrated one of the most significant one day stock pumps the country or maybe the world has ever seen.
On December 3rd, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO must address the “security implications” of China’s rise as a “military power”, and in true Orwellian doublespeak, insisted that he did not want to make an adversary out of Beijing but rather was interested in analysing how best to respond to the challenges China poses in a balanced way…by announcing it a ‘security threat’.
What are these challenges? That China now has the second largest defense budget in the world and has modern capabilities such as long-range missiles that can reach the whole of Europe and the U.S. This alone is apparently enough cause for Stoltenberg to announce publicly that NATO must address this as a challenge to western ‘security’ rather than actually engaging in diplomatic talks with China in order to resolve their concern in the matter like civilised people do. Let’s not forget that the American navy has been actively expanding their presence around China for several years now, yet despite this transparent hostility, it is China who is deemed a ‘security threat’ for having a competent defense budget.
But we know this is not the whole story.
Of course no bully likes it when their victim suddenly learns the art of self-defense, and who would be more paranoid of aggression than those who have been practising it for years on others only to increasingly find the tables turned.
This western paranoia of the communist boogeyman has its roots in Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech which ushered in the Cold War.
Last month was the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and along with its celebration the continuation of a false narrative, not only as to what had instigated the Cold War, but more importantly what the world was promised and ultimately denied when they were told that the Cold War was supposedly finally over.
In a recently published paper, On Churchill’s ‘Sinews of Peace’, I went over the drastic shift in geopolitics that occurred with the passing of Franklin D. Roosevelt who had upheld, along with his vice-president Henry Wallace, an anti-colonial post-WW II vision known as “The Century of the Common Man”. Churchill was very much dependant on American support to destroy the Frankenstein monster that the Bank of England had helped fund into significance and though Churchill loathed FDR’s vision, he was not in a position where he could outright resist it and instead found himself needing to make large compromises and often, most likely with the thought that this would all be temporary…and so it was.
Upon the death of FDR in 1945, the Iron Curtain speech shortly after created an oppressive division throughout the world, the effects of which we are still reeling from.
The Cold War division
Germany was officially divided according to this map by the Soviet Union, the UK, USA and France from 1945 to 1949. This was done to ensure that Germany would not attempt any further military action after WWII. It was Churchill’s Iron Curtain announcement in 1946 that turned the USSR into the free world’s public enemy #1, without any specific reason as to what the Soviets had done to warrant this declaration of the ‘Cold War’ division. This split with the Soviets was formalised in May 1949 when the British, French and American zones were joined to form the Federal Republic of Germany. The Soviets had no choice but to form a separate German republic in October 1949; the German Democratic Republic.
Despite these two German republics being set up, the British, French and American militaries would remain in West Germany until May 5, 1955, and ended their nearly 10 year occupation only after West Germany had joined NATO in 1954. Under these terms, West Germany would be allowed to establish a military force of up to half-million men and resume the manufacture of arms. The end of the Allied occupation of West Germany meant a full recognition of the republic as a member of the western alliance against the Soviet Union.
It should be evident that such manoeuvres were a clear show towards the USSR of not only a hostile stance but an ever increasing aggressive military doctrine that was preparing for a war.
Although West Germany was given ‘independence’ on a short leash, Allied presence never left West Berlin up until at least 1990. Berlin, as the capitol of Germany, held great strategic significance and became a form of battleground in intelligence gathering and espionage. Berlin had been split in two after WWII, and the Allied occupied West Berlin not only became a symbol of ‘freedom’ in response to the ‘tyranny’ of the Soviets, but was an important stronghold to keep in the Cold War, since it was in the middle of Soviet-held territory.
The blockade of roads and rail lines into West Germany by the Soviets in 1948-1949 and the later building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 were terrible decisions made by the USSR but should be measured in the context that such reactions were primarily instigated by an escalating western military aggression against them.
West Berlin would be surrounded by a wall that stretched out to 140 km, was 11.8 ft high, was for the most part electrified and had over 116 watchtowers and over 14, 000 guards and dogs. It would divide Berlin for 28 years.
This was indeed a very terrible period not only for those in Berlin but for much of the world. The Cold War thinking had allowed for the justification of the Spanish Inquisition-like Red Scare that occurred in the United States and elsewhere, where Americans who refused to follow the very narrow line of what was deemed acceptable thoughts and opinions in the free world newspeak could at any point in time face a judicial inquisition on them, akin to having committed a thoughtcrime.
Schools and workplaces were put through drills on a regular basis of how to react if the Soviets were to launch a nuclear bomb against America. Such tactics were used to put the American people in an ongoing fear state and thus quickly, the former allies who had by far the largest death toll in WWII in their essential role in combating fascism, were turned into a terrifying race of boogeymen with seemingly no sense of ‘humanity’ or ‘morality’.
As a quick side note, I want to bring attention to Elbe Day April 25, 1945, which marked the day when the American and Soviet forces met for the first time near the end of the war. There was a very strong comradery that occurred, and these men would become forever united since they experienced together the brutality and hardship of a hard won war.
It is also important to note that the Russians and Americans never had any historical conflict with each other at this point. In fact, Russia’s navy would place itself along both east and west coastlines of the United States during its Civil War to protect Lincoln’s Union from foreign intervention- that is, from Britain and France. The Russian navy were treated as heroes during their seven month stay in the US
Therefore, American and Russian soldiers had always been comrades in arms up until the point of the Iron Curtain speech by Churchill, upon which a division would be forcefully imposed between the two.
China’s invisible role
China’s involvement in both WWI and WWII is too often forgotten today. What is also forgotten is that the Iron Curtain was also directed against their country, and the level of extreme betrayal that occurred against them was on par with that suffered by the Soviet Union. Recall that under FDR’s post-war vision, both Russia and China were intended to be equal partners alongside the USA and Britain in shaping a multi-polar world order.
When WWI had started, China offered their support militarily to the cause of the Allies. Japan had already become a member of the Allied force and it was recognised that their relationship with China was not on ‘friendly’ terms, especially since the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895. China’s loss in this war allowed for a series of treatises that divided chunks of China amongst several nations. One particular region that China very much wanted back was Shandong, which was considered sacred land for the Chinese people since it was not only Confucius’ birthplace but also home to the ancient state of Qin, the last kingdom conquered by Qin Shi Huang, who proclaimed himself China’s first emperor in 219 B.C. Japan was at the time in possession of this region.
Japan was asked whether China could be ‘permitted’ to contribute military support for the Allied cause, to which Japan refused since this would give China a more equal footing with its relations to the West. Despite this refusal, China offered to support the Allies as laborers. Starting in 1916, China began shipping thousands of men to Britain, France and Russia who would work to repair tanks, assemble shells, transport supplies and munitions. Since China was officially neutral, commercial businesses were formed to provide the labor.
After a year of supplying labor, the Chinese contribution remained largely unrecognised diplomatically. By the end of the war, Chinese workers would rank as the largest and longest-serving non-European contingent in WWI.
By the end of the war, western powers ultimately awarded the Shandong territory to Japan in the Treaty of Versailles. China was understandably upset and refused to sign the treaty. The Versailles Treaty became a clear sign to the Chinese that they could not trust the European nations to support China’s welfare and that China would have to look elsewhere for support moving forward. [America did eventually intervene on this decision and awarded the territory to China in 1922.]
Another blow would be China’s earning of only two seats at the Paris Peace Conference, relative to Japan’s five seats, the reason why China had fewer seats was because they did not play a military role in the war- a role they were forbidden to play.
When WWII started and Japan had taken the side of fascism, China contributed its military forces on the side of the Allies. China had the second highest death toll in WWII after the Soviet Union. However, if you look more closely at the graph depicted above, the number of civilian deaths is much higher than military deaths (by about 12 million). This is because the Japanese fascists committed genocide on the Chinese people. The most notorious being the Nanking massacre which not only had a gruesomely large death toll but became infamous for its horrific torture and mass rape on the Chinese people. During this ethnic cleanse by the Japanese fascists throughout the entire WWII (which overlapped the second Sino-Japanese war), mass graves were dug out and millions of Chinese people would be told to step inside before they were shot to death. The Jewish holocaust is recognised as one of the worst crimes against humanity in recent history. However, not much is given to the memory of the mass genocide that was committed on the Chinese people during the same period.
Despite their great sacrifices, both the USSR and China would be labeled less than a year after the war as the new face of anarchy and barbarism, not by their actions but simply because Churchill and the British Empire had decided it so.
The empty promises of a post-Cold War world
On November 9th, 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and the end of the Cold War quickly followed… or at least this is what we are told.
The USSR agreed to the destruction of the Berlin Wall specifically on the basis that the western powers would agree to dismantle the war drive and that NATO would cease to expand its military bases any further. Many of the terms of these agreements were outlined in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. However, this treaty that promised the dissolution of the Cold War paradigm was ultimately breached by NATO, with Russia suspending its participation in 2007 and in 2015 ultimately removing its participation in the treaty since NATO had no intention to honor it. Since the supposed end of the Cold War, NATO has only continued its expansion, increasing tension towards an ultimate conflict with Russia.
In 2007, President Putin gave a now famous speech at the Munich Security Conference. In this speech he discussed the fallacy of a unipolar world order envisioned by NATO and that there can only exist a multipolar world at this stage in history:
“This universal, indivisible character of security is expressed as the basic principle that “security for one is security for all”. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said during the first few days that the Second World War was breaking out: “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger.”
I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world. And this is not only because if there was individual leadership in today’s – and precisely in today’s – world, then the military, political and economic resources would not suffice. What is even more important is that the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilisation.”
Where are we now?
We need to grow up, and grow up fast. We cannot afford to be led by childish stories of the boogeyman and be governed by fear so easily any longer.
It is time we, the West, recognise our faults and hypocrisy. The western hegemony over the world is coming to an end and we should be happy for our brothers and sisters who have a renewed hope for a better life, largely from the New Silk Road. We have no place to condemn their rise as a threat to western stability. Western powers have been guilty of breaching trust with the Russians and Chinese time after time. We need to correct this monstrous inability to be able to trust and love those outside the western sphere. These cultures, some which may have been considered by us backwards not that long ago, have grown and cultivated themselves such that we today look very small next to them. We have become the backwards culture. We have become the barbaric culture that only knows war and is a disbeliever in peace. We who are privileged enough to never have experienced war in our homelands for almost a century, are the ones who condone it as necessary on others. What an ugly belief this is. It is time the West, and its people, have the humility to admit that they have something to learn from the rest of the world. Only then can there be a true dialogue amongst civilisations towards the common goal of peace.
Update: The New York Times reports that one of the suspects who carried out yesterday's shooting at a kosher grocery in Jersey City had published anti-police and anti-semitic material online.
A suspect involved in a prolonged firefight in Jersey City, N.J., that left six people dead, including one police officer, had published anti-Semitic and anti-police posts online and investigators believe the attack was motivated by those sentiments, a law enforcement official familiar with the case said on Wednesday.
The suspects have not yet been identified, and the only victim who has been identified is Detective Seals. The NYT suggests that the attack might have been planned to terrorize a burgeoning community of ultra-orthodox Jews.
* * *
Despite early reports insisting that there was no evidence linking the two shooters who engaged in an hours long gun-battle with police in Jersey City yesterday with any existing hate groups, the city's mayor changed his tune Tuesday night.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted Tuesday night that authorities have come to the conclusion that the attacks "targeted" the Jewish community, based on their ongoing investigation into the shootout that left three civilians, a detective, and the two suspects dead.
Fulop added that "due to an excess of caution," businesses in that area might notice an increased police presence in the coming days and weeks.
Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked. Due to an excess of caution the community may see additional police resources in the days/weeks ahead. We have no indication there are any further threats— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) December 11, 2019
We have been in close contact with the Jewish community in #JerseyCity to help where we can. While we work through details/investigation of today’s incident I know the entire Jersey City community stands together with the Jewish Community during these challenging times. https://t.co/jHDpXitxHP— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) December 11, 2019
Fulop added that his office has been in "close contact" with the Jewish community in the city.
Following Fulop's lead, NYC Mayor de Blasio also condemned the attack and railed against anti-Semitism in a series of tweets:
Although there is no credible or specific threat directed against New York City, I have directed the NYPD to assume a state of high alert.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 11, 2019
Tonight, NYPD assets are being redeployed to protect key locations in the Jewish community. Tomorrow, we will announce additional measures.
DeBlasio also ordered police to remain on "high alert", even though there were no attacks in NYC. On an otherwise quiet Tuesday, gunshots erupted in the streets. Detective Joseph Seals was killed in the gun battle that kicked off at about 12:30 pm, when police responded to reports of gunfire near the Jewish grocery on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The preliminary investigation suggests Seals, a 39-yearr-old father of five, was killed while trying to interdict "the bad guys" at a cemetery on Garfield Avenue, said Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly.
It’s not clear what Fulop meant when he said the store was “targeted,” but Kelly said earlier Tuesday the shooting was not believed to be terror related.
Aside from Seals, three civilians inside the supermarket, along with both suspects, were killed in the shootout.
BEIJING – The People’s Bank of China has stepped up efforts to launch its own cryptocurrency with the goal of gaining leadership before other central banks in the world. In addition, the Asian giant intends to maintain its financial sovereignty and is planning to conduct a series of tests with the system called Digital Currency […]
The post China will soon test its own cryptocurrency for financial sovereignty appeared first on Fort Russ.
The Democratic Party and its liberal supporters are perplexed. They presented hours of evidence of an impeachable offense, although they studiously avoided charging Donald Trump with impeachable offenses also carried out by Democratic presidents, including the continuation or expansion of presidential wars not declared by Congress, exercising line-item veto power, playing prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner to kill individuals, including U.S. citizens, anywhere on the planet, violating due process and misusing executive orders. Because civics is no longer taught in most American schools, they devoted a day to constitutional scholars who provided the Civics 101 case for impeachment. The liberal press, cheerleading the impeachment process, saturated the media landscape with live coverage, interminable analysis, constant character assassination of Trump and giddy speculation. And yet, it has made no difference. Public opinion remains largely unaffected.
Perhaps, supporters of impeachment argue, they failed to adopt the right technique. Perhaps journalists, by giving voice to opponents of impeachment—who do indeed live in a world not based in fact—created a false equivalency between truth and lies. Maybe, as Bill Grueskin, a professor at the Columbia University Journalism School, writes, impeachment advocates should spend $1 million to produce a kind of movie trailer for all those who did not sit through the hours of hearings, to “boil down the essentials of the film” and provide “a quick but intense insight into the characters, setting the scene with vivid imagery—to entice people to come back to the theatre a month later for the full movie.” Or perhaps they need to keep pounding away at Trump until his walls of support crumble.
The liberal class and the Democratic Party leadership have failed, even after their defeat in the 2016 presidential election, to understand that they, along with the traditional Republican elites, have squandered their credibility. No one believes them. And no one should.
They squandered their credibility by promising that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would, as claimed by President Bill Clinton, create 200,000 new, well-paying jobs per year; instead, several million jobs were lost. They squandered it by allowing corporations to move production overseas and hire foreign workers at daily wages that did not equal what a U.S. unionized worker made in an hour, a situation that obliterated the bargaining power of the American working class. They squandered it by allowing corporations to use the threat of “offshoring” production to destroy unions, suppress wages, extract draconian concessions and push millions of workers into the temp and gig economies, where there are no benefits or job security and pay is 60% or less of what a full-time employee in the regular economy receives. They squandered it by forcing working men and women to take two or three jobs to support a family, jacking up household debt to $13.95 trillion. They squandered it by redirecting wealth upward, so that during the Clinton administration alone 45 percent of all income growth went to the wealthiest 1%. They squandered it by wiping out small farmers in Mexico, driving some 3 million of them off their lands and forcing many to migrate in desperation to the United States, a human tide that saw the U.S. right wing and President Trump direct mounting rage toward immigrants. They squandered it by turning our great cities into urban wastelands. They squandered it by slashing welfare and social service programs. They squandered it by supporting endless, futile wars that have an overall price tag of between $5 trillion and $7 trillion. They squandered it by setting up a surveillance system to spy on every American and then lying about it. They squandered it by catering to the big banks and gutting financial regulations, precipitating the 2008 economic meltdown. They squandered it by looting the U.S. Treasury to bail out banks and financial firms guilty of massive financial crimes, ordering the Federal Reserve to hand over an estimated $29 trillion to the global financiers responsible for the crash. They squandered it by not using this staggering sum instead to provide free college tuition to every student or universal health care, repair our crumbling infrastructure, transition to clean energy, forgive student debt, raise wages, bail out underwater homeowners, form public banks to foster investments in our communities at low interest rates, provide a guaranteed minimum income and organize a massive jobs program for the unemployed and underemployed, whose ranks are at least double official statistics. They squandered it by cutting child assistance programs—most drastically during the Clinton administration—resulting in 16 million children going to bed hungry every night. They squandered it by leaving over half a million Americans homeless and on the streets on any given day. They squandered it by passing laws that keep students burdened by massive college loan debt that has climbed to $1.4 trillion, debt they cannot free themselves from even if they declare bankruptcy. They squandered it by militarizing police and building the world’s largest system of mass incarceration, one with 25% of the world’s prison population. They squandered it by revoking due process and habeas corpus. They squandered it by passing massive tax cuts for the rich and for corporations, many of which—such as Amazon—pay no federal income tax, ballooning the federal deficit, now at $779 billion and climbing. They squandered it by privatizing everything from intelligence gathering to public education to swell corporate bank accounts at taxpayer expense. They squandered it by permitting corporate money—an estimated $9.9 billion will be spent this presidential election cycle on political advertising—to buy politicians in a form of legalized bribery that sees corporate lobbyists write legislation and create laws. They squandered it by doing nothing to halt the looming ecocide.
The problem is not messaging. The problem is the messenger. The mortal wounds inflicted on our democratic institutions are bipartisan. The traditional Republican elites are as hated as the Democratic elites. Trump is vile, imbecilic, corrupt and incompetent. But for a largely white working class cast aside by austerity and neoliberalism, he at least taunts the elites who destroyed their communities and their lives.
The shakedown that Trump clumsily attempted to orchestrate against the president of Ukraine in the hope of discrediting Joe Biden, a potential rival in the 2020 presidential election, pales beside the shakedown orchestrated by the elites who rule over America’s working men and women. This shakedown took from those workers their hope and, more ominously, their hope for their children. It took from them security and a sense of place and dignity. It took from them a voice in how they were governed. It took from them their country and handed it to a cabal of global corporatists who intend to turn them into serfs. This shakedown plunged millions into despair. It led many to self-destructive opioid, alcohol, drug and gambling addictions. It led to increases in suicide, mass shootings and hate crimes. This shakedown led to bizarre conspiracy theories and fabrications peddled by a neofascist right wing, deceptions bolstered by the lies told by those tasked with keeping the society rooted in truth and verifiable fact. This shakedown led to the end of the rule of law and the destruction of democratic institutions that, if they had continued to function, could have prevented the rise to power of a demagogue such as Trump.
There is zero chance Trump will be removed from office in a trial in the Senate. The Democratic Party elites have admitted as much. They carried out, they argue, their civic and constitutional duty. But here again they lie. They picked out what was convenient to impeach Trump and left untouched the rotten system they helped create. The divisions among Americans will only widen. The hatreds will only grow. And tyranny will wrap its deadly tentacles around our throats.
For the past decade, the name of Zoltan Pozsar has been among the most admired and respected on Wall Street: not only did the Hungarian lay the groundwork for our current understanding of the deposit-free shadow banking system - which has the often opaque and painfully complex short-term dollar funding and repo markets - at its core...
... but he was also instrumental during his tenure at both the US Treasury and the New York Fed in laying the foundations of the modern repo market, orchestrating the response to the global financial crisis and the ensuing policy debate (as virtually nobody at the Fed knew more about repo at the time than Pozsar), serving as point person on market developments for Fed, Treasury and White House officials throughout the crisis (yes, Kashkari was just the figurehead); playing the key role in building the TALF to backstop the ABS market, and advising the former head of the Fed's Markets Desk, Brian Sack, on just how the NY Fed should implement its various market interventions without disrupting and breaking the most important market of all: the multi-trillion repo market.
In short, when Pozsar speaks (or as the case may be, writes), people listen (and read).
And since Pozsar moved from the public sector to Credit Suisse in February 2015 to write his market moving (at least for those who can understand it) periodical, "Global Money Notes", it has been relatively easy to keep track of his thoughts and observations on the repo market as they change over time.
Which brings us to his latest Global Money Notes, #26, published overnight, and in which Pozsar delivers his scathing assessment of the Fed's latest intervention to stabilize repo markets since the September 16 repocalypse, that sent overnight repo rates as high as 10% in what was previously seen as an impossible event. Of course, as we saw three months ago, not only was the event possible, but it led to a shockwave of confusion as to what caused it, prompting even the BIS to chime in over the weekend with a fascinating theory, discussed previously, that hedge funds were among the causes for the repo fireworks as they scrambled to procure funding to prevent their massively levered relative value trades in which they bought TSYs and sold 'equivalent' derivatives contracts, from collapsing.
While Pozsar does not focus as much on the causes of the repocalypse, having previously covered them in depth in his prior Money Notes (and he would know: as noted above, Pozsar is the de facto architect of the modern US repo system), what he does do in his latest note, titled ominously "Countdown to QE4" is explain why the Fed's interventions to date have failed to reverse the underlying plumbing issues in the banking system, manifesting themselves in a dramatic increase in Treasurys at the biggest US bank, JPMorgan...
... offset by a decline in reserves, i.e. cash...
... at the largest US banks, something we addressed previously when we discussed how JPMorgan gamed the financial system to trigger "NOT QE", and a topic that Bloomberg touches on overnight in "Repo Firepower Reduced by Falling Cash Levels at Big U.S. Banks."
As Pozsar cautions, the core problem at the heart of the repo blockage is that as banks shifted from owning reserves to collateral (mostly Treasuries), for reasons we will address shortly, large U.S. banks like J.P. Morgan that are central to year-end flows spent some $350 billion of excess reserves on collateral since the beginning of the Fed’s balance sheet taper, leaving banks (and especially JPMorgan) dangerously low on reserves.
And while one can debate why banks shifted away from reserves to "collateral", Pozsar has a simple theory: "dealers and banks loaded up on collateral as a trade – a trade they were supposed to be taken out of by eventual coupon purchases by the Fed." In other words, here is a former Fed official admitting that banks were purchasing Treasuries as nothing more than a QE frontrunning ploy, something which the Fed has previously sworn was never the intention behind QE. After all, if it emerges that the Fed is essentially facilitating taxpayer-funded and perfectly legal frontrunning, making bank execs even richer in the process, the US central bank would have even fewer fans. And yet, here is arguably the most respected ex-Fed staffer explaining that one of the core roles of QE is just that.
Alas, here a problem emerged, because "the Fed never did that, and for the first time we’re heading into a year-end turn without any excess reserves."
Indeed, instead of buying coupon bonds as Dealers have been quietly demanding behind close doors, a process which would allow them to sterilize their massive Treasury holdings, the Fed announced in October it would only buy T-Bills in order to not freak out the market that it is officially launching QE 4 (as a reminder, the only semantic distinction between whether the Fed is doing QE or not doing QE is whether it is soaking up duration; the Fed's argument is that since Bills don't have duration, it's not QE. However once Powell starts buying 2Y, 3Y, 5Y and so on Treasuriess, the facade cracks and the Fed will have no more defense that what it is doing is precisely QE 4). And by buying Bills, it is not allowing commercial banks to exchange their coupon holdings for reserves (cash), but merely results in recirculation of sterilized Bill purchases.
Now most people don't understand this, and instead repeat the old maxim "don’t fight the Fed" which they claim is adding liquidity through repos and bill purchases, and what’s not in the system now will be there on year-end, and the turn will be just fine.
Only as Pozsar says "Not so fast!" and explains:
What we need for the [year-end] turn to go well are balance sheet neutral repo operations, or asset purchases aimed at what dealers bought all year: coupons, not bills – the former to get around foreign banks’ balance sheet constraints around year-end, and the latter to ensure that excess reserves accumulate with large banks like J.P. Morgan. Unfortunately, the Fed is doing neither.
He goes on:
Repo operations are done through the tri-party system which means they aren’t nettable, which in turn means that once balance sheet constraints start to bind around year-end, foreign dealers will take less liquidity from it to lend it to those in need on the periphery: central bank liquidity is useless unless primary dealers have balance sheet to pass it on, and that they’ve been passing it on since September does not mean they will at year-end.
Bill purchases are also ill conceived because banks and dealers don’t own any bills and so don’t have anything to sell to the Fed to boost their excess reserves ahead of year-end. In our view, the notion that bill purchases will force money funds down the yield curve to buy short coupons from primary dealers who would then pay off their repos with banks so that banks build up some excess reserves into year-end involves too many moving parts…
Which brings us to the first of the key observations made by Pozsar: since the Fed's repos and T-Bill monetizations have done virtually nothing to boost prevailing reserve levels on a sustained basis, "year-end balance sheet constrains will preclude primary dealers from bidding for reserves from the Fed through the repo facility or through repos from money funds. The slope of money market curves suggest that excess reserves won’t build up at banks, and so U.S. banks will not be able to fill the market making vacuum left by foreign banks."
In other words, the already thin liquidity at year end (which as a reminder, last December 31 sent repo rates soaring even though excess reserves were about $100 billion more than they are now) could get far worse as a result of the Fed's inability to properly address the reserves (cash) shortage plaguing banks.
There is another reason why year-end liquidity is likely to get far worse, and it has to do with bank year-end G-SIB surcharges imposed by regulators on US banks on the last day of the quarter and year. As we discussed two weeks ago, and as Pozsar explains, "running low on excess reserves is only one factor that determines how bad the vacuum
in market making can get around year-end turns. G-SIB scores are the other, as they determine what banks can do with whatever excess reserves they have at year-end: lend them through repos, spend them on Treasuries, or lend them through FX swaps, – in that specific order as repos are less punitive for banks’ G-SIB score than FX swaps."
We previously provided a simple schematic of how bank G-SIB scores are calculated in the following chart...
... but the bottom line is the following: banks seek as low as GSIB score as possible at year end to minimize their period end surcharge:
As Pozsar further notes, "U.S. banks are particularly sensitive to their G-SIB scores this year, as they all moved up to a higher surcharge bucket due to bigger Treasury holdings and a heavier repo footprint: every U.S. bank except Morgan Stanley has an incentive to shrink its score into year-end."
It is here that a unique paradox emerges: the highest stock prices rise, the higher the implied score (a negative). Some more observations from the repo guru:
G-SIB scores are a moving target as they are influenced by markets. The themes pushing G-SIB scores in the wrong direction this year are the equity market rally and the flat curve:
(1) the rally in equities is inflating scores through G-SIBs’ market capitalization and the value of equities G-SIBs hold as trading assets or available for sale securities;
(2) the flat yield curve is inflating scores through G-SIBs’ bloated Treasury portfolios, which, given auction supply and the equities rally, may grow further into year-end.
While G-SIBs can’t do a thing about the equity market, and, as the largest primary dealers, they also can’t not take down more Treasuries at auctions if there are insufficient bids; but they can do two things to offset some of the factors that are pushing their scores up:
Which brings us to the other key year-end dynamic: when G-SIB scores are too high and banks need to reduce them, they do so by swapping assets for excess reserves. In other words, when banks hold lots of excess reserves their G-SIB scores are relatively low and they have room to lend their excess reserves through repos and FX swaps, and conversely, when banks are low on excess reserves their G-SIB scores are high and that may force them to clamp down on market making.
Well, as we know from the discussion in the first part above, bank excess reserves have collapsed and as a result G-SIB scores are high, "and banks are lowering their scores by swapping assets for reserves to scrape together some excess reserves ahead of the year-end turn – and those scraps are all U.S. banks will have to lend into the market making vacuum left by foreign banks around year-end."
In the best case scenario envisioned by Pozsar, bank will lend mostly via repos and not FX swaps given their G-SIB scores. "But these flows will be scraps of excess reserves, not bursts."
As for the worst case scenario, it is one where "collateral upgrades aren’t sufficient and U.S. banks stop making markets in FX swaps and so exacerbate the vacuum triggered by foreign banks."
Which brings us to the first of Pozsar's ominous conclusion: "We are on track to realize the worst case scenario, and the market doesn’t price for that."
Here, Pozsar offers a brief detour offering some practical observations as we enter the year-end period, in which he notes that "according to our conversations with market participants, U.S. G-SIBs rely heavily on Canadian pensions for equity upgrades to accumulate some excess reserves for the turn. Furthermore, some large U.S. banks are selling Treasuries to lower their G-SIB scores and scrape together some excess reserves to harvest higher repo rates over year-end."
Finally, and most shockingly, the Credit Suisse strategist writes that "at least one large U.S. bank appears to be pricing some of its FX swaps trades such that it misses those trades – a polite way of clamping down market making activities."
Here some readers may have a "lightbulb" moment because what Pozsar just described is that "at least one large US bank" appears to be gearing for a collapse in the FX swap market, with a very specific intention: to force a market crisis in the coming days and force the Fed to launch full blown QE 4, not just a monetization of T-Bills.
More on that momentarily.
But first, some more observations from Pozsar on how a year-end crisis may play out: "if markets won’t let G-SIBs reduce their scores, G-SIBs will retort to scale back market making, like the one U.S. bank that’s already pricing FX swap trades to miss them. We do not see the pressure from this in FX swap markets yet as foreign banks still have balance sheet to pick up the slack, but pressures will come as we get closer to year-end."
Pozsar's point is that the realized year-end turn in FX swap markets "will be worse than what is priced by the market regardless of whether we end up in the best case or worst case scenario."
This literally means that no matter what the market does from now until year end, there is simply not enough cash and/or liquidity to allow the plumbing of the market to cross into 2020 without a crisis, or as Pozsar puts it, "in our view, the FX swap market is expecting too much similarity between the current year-end turn to last year’s turn. That’s a mistake as last year’s dynamics were different" for the following reasons:
One other key difference from the brief meltup in repo rates last year end: back then, lower G-SIB scores allowed large U.S. banks to spend their hoards of excess reserves on more complex trades like FX swaps, and the year-end turn went down as a non-event – in FX swaps, but not repos. Recall that repo printed at 6.5% on December 31st spot.
This year, Zoltan warns, may be the opposite, as higher G-SIB scores will favor repos over FX swaps when deploying excess reserves, but while FX swaps will be a disaster, repos may still print as bad as last year-end. As for FX swaps, well we'll leave Pozsar to explain what may happen there:
"FX swaps could end up as the orphaned asset class without an obvious backstop, and that may force banks in some parts of the world to the edge of the proverbial abyss"
As a reminder, this dire warning comes from the man who probably knows the nuances of the US repo market better than anyone else in the world.
But wait, there's more.
Recall that in its BIS's recent take on the fireworks in the repo market, the central banks' central bank pointed the finger at massively levered hedge funds engaging in Treasury relative value trades (think of these as a modern twist on the LTCM trade) as the catalyst for the Sept 16 repo explosion,
"High demand for secured (repo) funding from non-financial institutions, such as hedge funds heavily engaged in leveraging up relative value trades," was a key factor behind the chaos, said Claudio Borio, head of the monetary and economic department at the BIS.
The BIS's finding was novel, and surprising, as it highlighted the "growing clout of hedge funds in the repo market" echoing notes something we pointed out one year ago: hedge funds such as Millennium, Citadel and Point 72 are not only active in the repo market, they are also the most heavily leveraged multi-strat funds in the world, taking something like $20-$30 billion and levering it up to $200 billion. They achieve said leverage using repo.
And, as we further discussed, the hedge fund strategy in question involves buying US Treasuries while selling equivalent derivatives contracts, such as interest rate futures, and pocketing the arb, or difference in price between the two. While on its own this trade is not very profitable, given the close relationship in price between the two sides of the trade. But as LTCM knows too well, that's what leverage is for. Lots and lots and lots of leverage.
We took this detour into how repo affects the hedge fund world, because Pozsar had a rather gloomy prediction about the fate of hedge funds should his dismal forecast materialize. As he writes, "the relative value (RV) hedge fund community is certain that they will have balance sheet to fund their bond basis trades at reasonable rates over the year-end turn. Why?
“Because we have locked up forward settling sponsored repos with dealers over the turn, and market making in sponsored repos is less likely to be scaled back than in FX swaps.”
Well, not so fast:
Forward settling sponsored repos are meant to substitute for the balance sheet that the RV hedge funds will lose from foreign banks around year-end, but their risk is that RV hedge funds don’t know the rate at which they’ll get balance sheet at year-end – forward settling sponsored repos only lock in balance sheet capacity, but not the rate and with all due respect, RV funds are ignoring the incentives of repo dealers.
Fast forwarding to the punchline, the problem is that without having intelligence about the balance between forward settling sponsored repos and banks’ progress to scrape together excess reserves to fund those forward repos, Pozsar warns that relative value funds "don’t know where the rate on their forward settling sponsored repos will print. And given that there are no signs of excess reserves accumulating into year-end, it is likely that the RV community will be taxed excessively to get over the year-end turn."
The bolded means that massively levered hedge funds may be in for a shock in the coming days, as bank sponsors are woefully low on the reserves that the hedge funds need to perpetuate their RV trades (and leverage) into the new year.
This, too, is a problem. Here's why:
As the excess reserves missing from bank portfolios will be filled by a small cadre of primary dealers that do not have balance sheet constraints and they’ll fill the hole and keep a lid on repo rates. Sure, let’s assume for a moment that those primary dealers that are not subject to Basel III – Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC, Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. and Jefferies LLC – and three Canadian dealers whose year-end was on October 31st – the Bank of Nova Scotia, BMO Capital Markets Corp. and TD Securities (USA) LLC – will save the day by borrowing enough from the Fed to bridge your needs in repo markets."
Pozsar's snarky conclusion to this? "Maybe, maybe not." We'll take the latter.
Putting all of the above together, and for those unfamiliar with the nuances of the repo market this summary may be a critical catch up, the risk to the "benign and optimistic view" currently prevailing among market participants, is mostly as related to the FX swap market: given that i) excess reserves are gone and ii) the G-SIB scores bind, "the FX swap market, unlike last year-end, may end up without a lender of next-to-last resort, and so it will likely trade at implied rates far worse than anything that we’ve seen in recent year-end turns."
If that will indeed be the case, Pozsar envisions a last few weeks of the years in which the handful of Canadian dealers you expect to lend to you to fund your bond basis trades, will instead lend in the FX swap market instead "and you’ll end up short… and you may end up as a forced seller of Treasuries."
What is even more stunning is that banks themselves may have an incentive to cause this lock up in the FX swaps market: Pozsar's overarching point is that "a dealer is a hedge fund’s enabler, not its friend, and dealers that co-exist with large bank operating subsidiaries have an incentive to introduce imbalances the repo market to boost the value of their banks’ excess reserves, and dealers that have the balance sheet to take liquidity from the Fed’s repo operations will not necessarily do repos with RV hedge funds if FX swaps offer a much better value."
* * *
With us so far? Good, because we are finally getting to the punchline.
In this dystopian world described by Pozsar, in which banks have too much "collateral" (Treasuriess) on their books, and not enough "reserves" (cash), where big commercial banks are unable to lend out to the rest of the banking system as they themselves don't have enough reserves, and where there will be an added pressure to boost reserves in the last days before Dec 31, Pozsar's big picture conclusion is that "the safe asset – U.S. Treasuries – is being funded o/n and therefore it depends on balance sheet to be held and printed. Balance sheet for the safe asset isn’t guaranteed around year-end and if balance sheet won’t be there, the safe asset will go on sale."
Translated: "Treasury yields will spike", Pozsar warns, identifying the trigger of forced sales of Treasuries around year-end as the FX swap market. It gets worse, because the selloff that is triggered by a freeze in the FX swap market will promptly lead to a crash in the bonds market, and spread from there, or as Pozsar puts it, "these funding market stresses will likely pull away capital and hence balance sheet from equity long-short strategies which could spill over into a broader equity selloff… during a Treasury selloff – that’s not the right kind of risk parity Christmas."
Which brings us to punchline #1: the dismal liquidity situation within the US commercial bank sector is so dire, that the shortage of reserves will start a cascade of liquidations beginning in the FX swap market, progressing to Treasurys, and culminating in stocks... and a full-blown market crash.
When these pressures will show up and how long they will last is the last big question asked by Pozsar and as he answers,
"here it’s hard to have a definitive answer: it depends. It depends on how equities do, which depends on the trade deal and other random tweets. It depends on how auctions go, which depends on the equity market and the curve slope relative to actual funding costs."
We should note here that the next major tax remittance to the Treasury is on Dec 16. It was the same Sept 16 tax payment that according to many triggered the repo carnage by draining tens of billions in reserves from the banking system. Will lightning strike twice, and on the same day no less than the day the US-China trade deal is expected to be signed?
One especially ironic development is that higher stock prices in the coming weeks will only make the matter worse! "If the equity market rallies and auctions go poorly, G-SIB scores will keep going higher and the risk that funding market pressures from managing G-SIB scores will show up starting the last two weeks of the year and will last longer than just the spot turn are rising."
Said otherwise, the dire warning from arguably the top expert on the repo market is that the adverse cascade will begin in the last two weeks of the year meaning that... traders have about a few days to take preventative measures.
That said, there is one potential "out" - the Fed steps in.
Just in case anyone still has a rosy outlook on what the next three weeks may bring, Pozsar repeats his devastating conclusion: "Year-end in the FX swap market is thus shaping up to be the worst in recent memory, and the markets are not pricing any of this. Prices don’t seem to discount the facts that excess reserves are gone and the Fed’s operations still have not added any, and that G-SIB scores are binding and risk large U.S. banks clamping down on market making."
Worse, another prevailing consensus idea is that the Fed will not cut one more time in December "to deliver slope in the money market curve so that reserves from bill purchases flow up to banks... or that the Fed will actively encourage the use of FX swap lines around year-end to get around G-SIB bottlenecks; or that the Fed will start buying coupons from dealers to inject excess reserves in a balance sheet neutral and G-SIB score-reducing manner."
What Pozsar is stating in not so many words, is that as has happened on every other previous occasion, the Fed will have no choice but to intervene to reverse the coming crash, only this time with its ammo severely limited, there is just one thing that Fed can do, or as Pozsar says, "something will have to give and the turn has to get very bad before something gives."
But will things get "very bad"? Well, if Pozsar is right and the Fed loses control over the overnight rate complex, yes, they will, and as we tweeted some practical advice yesterday...
The Hungarian just canceled your Christmas vacation https://t.co/G3BgE8OosI— zerohedge (@zerohedge) December 10, 2019
... The question then is what will the Fed do. Here is Pozsar's answer: "If we are right and the Fed loses control over the o/n rates complex going into year-end – not just around the spot turn but the weeks leading up to it – what else can the Fed do?"
Of the two options, Pozsar believes #2, the Fed launching QE4 (in the next fed days), would be the proper decision:
QE4 would help through the backdoor: by reversing the mistake of balance sheet taper. QE4 would mean buying back from dealers and banks the Treasuries they were forced to buy during balance sheet taper and giving back the reserves they gave up in the process.
QE4 would re-liquefy HQLA portfolios by trading Treasuries for excess reserves: the excess reserves that were always needed to get through to year-ends seamlessly, and which the system’s liquidity profile and U.S. banks G-SIB scores need desperately.
QE4 would re-fill the "Bakken Shale" in an instant: as primary dealers stuck with Treasuries would pay off their repos with J.P Morgan, and that would bring us back to the natural state of the token system, that is, a state, where the distribution of excess reserves is uneven once again, and where J.P. Morgan is the system’s lender of next-to-last resort once again.
That said, as Pozsar concedes in his conclusion "QE4 – as much as it makes sense – won’t happen unless the Fed’s hands are forced." By which he means there has to be a market crash for the Fed to do the one thing that can alleviate the banks' terminal reserve problem.
The Credit Suisse strategist admits as much:
"not responding to potential stresses in the FX swap market with the swap lines, may be what forces the Fed’s hands. If it will take the swap lines to help RV hedge funds to roll their positions without the risk of fire sales, not encouraging their use preemptively can lead to fire sales where QE4 goes live as a clean-up “operation” with the Fed buying what the RV funds are forced to sell – and what they could have bought from dealers under normal circumstances as dealers have been politely asking the Fed since September, just like they were asking for a repo facility before that – and we know how that ended…"
In conclusion all we can say here is that 11 years ago, on September 5, 2008, ten days before Lehman filed, there were massive marketwide repo problems (recall the repo market froze in Sept 2008 and only a multi-trillion bailout by the world's central banks prevented civilization collapse) and almost nobody understood them... with one exception: Citi's Matt King did and he laid out all the problems in his iconic Sept 5, 2008, piece "Are the Brokers Broken" in which he predicted the collapse of Lehman. Ten days later he was right. Will Zoltan Pozsar be this generation's Matt King?
Pozsar's full "Countdown To QE4" can be read here.
Des assemblées générales se sont réunies partout en France ce mardi, au sein de divers secteurs. L'occasion de recueillir la parole de salariés ou d'étudiants. Reportage à Rennes.
Mardi matin, à Rennes, les cheminots ont décidé en assemblée générale (AG) de poursuivre la grève. Les attaques portées contre le système de retraites et le durcissement de leurs conditions de travail renforcent leur détermination. Réunis en assemblée générale avant de rejoindre la manifestation rennaise qui a rassemblé de 8000 à (...)
CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said that during 2019, the US plan to overthrow the South American president failed. “In 2019 we had to face the failed plan of US imperialism, the failed plan of Mike Pompeo [US Secretary of State] to impose on the country a president no one elected, and we beat […]
The post Maduro says 2019 was the year of the failure of the US plan in Venezuela appeared first on Fort Russ.
It came as no shock to me that the meeting in Paris of the so-called Normandy Four between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and Franc ended without any breakthroughs.
The first meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was mostly a get-to-know-you affair.
That’s sad because it was a missed opportunity for Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Zelensky to announce to the world their independence as actors on the world stage.
But that is definitely not what happened. While it’s true that the group agreed on a number of minor points to begin the healing process between Ukraine, Russia and the European Union, the lack of breakthrough on any of the major issues surrounding these actors speaks louder than anything else.
It is Merkel, Macron and Zelensky that need something from Putin. Germany and France want Russia to rejoin Europe as a full partner. Both are setting the stage to lift the worst of the sanctions next year. It should not be lost on anyone that Crimea was brought up once by Zelensky during the presser and both Merkel and Macron brushed it off.
Crimea is no longer a condition for ending this stalemate.
But that doesn’t mean the U.S. is backing down in Ukraine, even though Trump is beginning to understand just how deep the rabbit hole of corruption goes there.
Putin and Russia are pursuing their own ends and are happy to resolve the issues outstanding with Europe — gas transit, sanctions, the conflict in the Donbass, NATO encroachment, etc. — but only on terms deemed acceptable to them.
Otherwise they will continue stitching Central Asia together with pipelines, power plants and railways to open up trade and commerce. All of that growth will be lost to Europe if they continue to hold Russia, Iran and Turkey at arm’s length because of fear of pissing off the U.S.
Russia is in no position to beg anything from Europe but rather can and will stand as an antipode against the United States. From Russia’s perspective the EU and the U.S. destroyed Ukraine by trying to cleave it from Russia’s sphere of influence in a cynical ploy to pressure Russia geopolitically.
Ukraine was supposed to fall into the EU’s lap, including Crimea, bottling Russia up permanently. Then they could slowly strangle the Russian economy through monopsony leverage over the gas pipelines into Europe.
So, if anything, Putin will hold out for everything at this point, since he knows Merkel and Macron deal from weak hands. Zelensky is simply a pawn trapped between them and the U.S. inside his own country.
The EU has made it exceedingly difficult for Russia to build the pipelines Europe wants, consistently changing the rules of their Gas Directives to make the projects less and less profitable. Some of that is because of U.S. pressure and some of that is the EU’s own arrogance and hubris.
This is what eventually caused Putin to cancel the South Stream pipeline and re-route it through Turkey. The failure of the putsch in Kiev to bring the country into the fold quickly meant that the EU would have to foot the bill for the country’s rebuild.
And since the best parts of it either broke away (the Donbass) or rejoined with Russia (Crimea) adding it to the EU would have been a nightmare in 2014-15 at the height of Merkel’s insane refugee crisis.
This is what prompted the Minsk meetings in the first place. The agreements were a way to freeze the conflict in perpetuity until one side blinked and offload the responsibility of Ukraine onto the U.S. who instigated this mess in the first place.
Here we are five years later and little has changed other than Crimea is now solidly Russian and growing economically. The EU is in serious trouble financially and economically and needs to re-open Russian markets now nearly irretrievably closed to the previous suppliers.
Germany’s politics have fractured to a near breaking point and over the next two years leading up to the next election expect the center to collapse further in favor of the AfD, Alternative for Germany.
This meeting, after the disastrous NATO summit last week, should have been a place for Merkel and Macron to push Zelensky into a solid position on something.
The gas transit contract should have been that thing. It’s something that even the nationalists wouldn’t complain about since it would bring money into the state coffers and shore up European investors that energy supplies into Europe in 2020 wouldn’t be interrupted.
Both Merkel and Macron could have and should have been working to minimize the legal hurdles to getting this deal done; the outstanding awards against Gazprom and Gazprom’s counter-suits which are holding up the final deal.
Putin and Gazprom went into the meeting having made reasonable opening offers. But even with that low-hanging fruit in front of them Merkel and Macron betrayed their political impotence ultimately.
And so did Zelensky because he can’t agree to anything of substance lest he be gutted politically by the nationalists who are threatening civil war if he bows to Russia.
That said, the protests on the Maidan during the meeting were, at best, tepid, so the threat to Zelensky may be less than originally thought and a deal with Gazprom closer than it looks.
The only thing of substance they agreed to was codifying the Steinmeyer formula for implementing the beginning of the Minsk agreements. Poroshenko signed these but never implemented any of them nor sought their ratification as law.
But even then, Zelensky wouldn’t budge on regaining control of the Ukrainian border before the elections in the Donbass took place.
After five years of bloody war to prevent secession, assisted by billions in weapons, mercenaries and personnel by the U.S., U.K. and Canada, asking this of the people in Luhansk and Donetsk was ridiculous.
But that’s obviously what Zelensky was coached to offer. Putin was having none of it, nor should he.
Putin is only interested in returning the Donbass back to nominal control in Kiev as a way to keep the U.S. from losing what’s left of its mind and openly looking for a hot war.
He’d prefer Ukraine to remain a buffer territory between Russia and an increasingly desperate NATO. This way no NATO missiles are on his border. Given the hostility in both the British and U.S. legislatures towards Russia at this point, can anyone blame him for this?
Merkel and Macron came into this meeting to burnish their resumes. Macron let slip what his real agenda was when he referred to Ukraine as an ‘open wound’ which needed to be closed. This was him admitting that the war in the Donbass is a manufactured conflict that benefits no one at the table but which they are powerless to affect.
So, in the end, it was Putin who coached Zelensky through the basics of diplomacy, getting agreement on things like prisoner swaps, ceasefire areas (which never seemed to hold under Poroshenko) and offering a discounted gas price for residential consumers in Ukraine.
And Zelensky, for his part, tried to put the brave face on his isolation by consistently referring the to the Donbass as ‘occupied’ territory as a sop to the nationalists who threaten his presidency. But he couldn’t get any help from Merkel and Macron who both want him to cut a deal with Putin and move on.
Jon Laughland, writing for RT, put it well, saying that Zelensky found out his best friend in Europe was none other than Putin himself. Because…
Putin likes him and wants him to succeed. Moscow knows that Ukraine is bitterly divided between pro and anti-Russian factions and that they take power one after the other. The Orange Revolution in 2004 lasted only 3 years before Viktor Yanukovich won parliamentary elections and became prime minister and then president. The Maidan revolution has lasted 5 years but with the same result; the aggressively anti-Russian party is out of power.
Putin also knows that time is on his side. Even though the U.S. Congress will try to strand the final work on Nordstream 2, leaving it incomplete, there is simply zero chance that Merkel and the Germans will allow that to happen, ensuring that the funds are available to finish the pipeline and deliver gas.
Merkel wants the gas transit deal in place to help right the failed state in Kiev and stop the migration out of the country. And Putin will happily oblige her but only if the EU stands by it as a partner and not treat Gazprom as ‘the help.’
In the end, Ukraine is only important to the U.S. as a pressure point on Russia and its destruction is okay as well since a failed state on Russia’s border is its own reward for the Empire of Chaos.
The big question now is whether Trump will listen to his instincts and allow this Obama-era policy to end or not, impeachment proceedings be damned. His receiving Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House the day after this meeting itself is symbolic of the need for a different narrative.
But his tweet after the meeting doesn’t imply that anything’s changed.
Just had a very good meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and representatives of Russia. Discussed many items including Trade, Iran, North Korea, INF Treaty, Nuclear Arms Control, and Election Meddling. Look forward to continuing our dialogue in the near future! pic.twitter.com/tHecH9a9ck— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2019
The one issue that should dovetail with this meeting is the one not on the list. But Trump will be looking for help from Russia with Iran and North Korea relations which his diplomats and National Security people have sabotaged.
But his hands are tied now that the NDAA is on its way to his desk with the rider of new sanctions on European companies assisting in the completion of Nordstream 2.
So this means, in the end, that Zelensky went to Paris only to find out he still has no friends except the one person he’s not allowed to be friends with, Putin. And that means this situation will grind on without significant movement until the next meeting in March.
* * *
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“The nature of the time, most serene prince, requires this, an observance of an old proverb, which enjoins kissing the hand we are unable to cut off”
Sebastien Guistinian, Venetian Ambassador to England’s Henry VIII
The Russia-China alliance has become an unstoppable powerhouse of visionary infrastructure projects across the Arctic, Eurasia, Africa and Europe exemplified beautifully by the evolving Belt and Road Initiative and BRICS. This cooperative alliance has tapped into a strategic reality of mankind’s genuine common interests which is so powerful that even countries formerly at war with each other and subjects of imperial manipulation have increasingly broken free in order to participate in this new paradigm.
This coalition of nations working with a common sense of both the manipulative hand behind the scenes and common focus for future cooperation may be a new phenomenon in our modern age, but it is certainly not without historical precedent. Not only did such an international coalition form in the wake of the 1865 union victory in the Civil War which saw nations like Germany, France, Argentina, Brazil, Russia and Japan form an anti-British Empire alliance for industrial progress and public works, but it also occurred during a peak of the European Golden Renaissance with an alliance known as the League of Cambrai (1508-1512).
However, just as the 19th century coalition of progress was derailed by a wave of assassinations, revolutions and wars, so too was the earlier League of Cambrai sabotaged before its mission to cleanse the world of oligarchism could be consummated.
With the knowledge that history doesn’t repeat, but rather fools repeat history- a brief analysis of the causes of the formation of the League of Cambrai and its ultimate self-destruction under the sophisticated intrigues of Venice (then the seat of an international financier oligarchy) can be best understood, and potentially foolish decisions can avoid repetition. Among the many authors I am indebted to for this research report, includes Gerald Rose, Robert Ingraham and finally Webster Tarplay whose 1981 studies published in Campaigner magazine continue to stand as some of the most thorough analyses available to modern researchers.
From Whence Sprince Today’s Potential?
The Russia-China alliance has become an unstoppable powerhouse of visionary infrastructure projects across the Arctic, Eurasia, Africa and Europe exemplified beautifully by the evolving Belt and Road Initiative. This cooperative alliance has tapped into a strategic reality of mankind’s genuine common interests which is so powerful that even countries formerly at war with each other and subjects of imperial manipulation have increasingly broken free in order to participate in this new paradigm.
The leadership of both Russia, China and a growing array of allied nations have taken a sober look at the geopolitical landscape which arose in the wake of the disastrous regime change wars-with-no-end in the Arab world and the inevitable nuclear war that would arise from an intended NATO confrontation with Russia or China and the decision to survive by changing the “rules of the game” was a no-brainer.
This coalition of nations working with a common sense of both the manipulative hand behind the scenes and common focus for future cooperation may be a new phenomenon in our modern age, but it is certainly not without historical precedent. Not only did such an international coalition form in the wake of the 1865 union victory in the Civil War which saw nations like Germany, France, Argentina, Brazil, Russia and Japan adopt the “American system” of protectionism and dirigism for industrial progress and public works, but it also occurred during a peak of the European Golden Renaissance with an alliance known as the League of Cambrai (1508-1512).
However, just as the 19th century coalition of progress was derailed by a wave of assassinations, revolutions and wars, so too was the earlier League of Cambrai sabotaged before its mission to cleanse the world of oligarchism could be consummated.
With the knowledge that history doesn’t repeat, but rather fools repeat history- a brief analysis of the causes of the formation of the League of Cambrai and its ultimate self-destruction under the sophisticated intrigues of Venice (then the seat of an international financier oligarchy) can be best understood, and potentially foolish decisions can avoid repetition.
Why did the League Arise?
The Golden Renaissance is an incredible singularity in the human experience.
Coming out of a centuries’ long Dark Age, what we today call “the Renaissance” is characterized on first approximation by a spike of human population, longevity and productive capabilities. Rather than treat this anomaly as “proof” that we are simply a cancer infesting the mother Gaia as modern radical ecologists are wont to do, it is more valuable to see it for what it was: The material EFFECT of a blossoming of creative ideas, and discoveries touching all fields of knowledge: medical, artistic, musical, architectural, scientific, and economic. The underlying cause of this was a deeper profound shift in understanding of Natural Law based upon a notion that mankind’s laws were only legitimate if they cohered with the discoverable laws (moral and physical) of nature. This was expressed by early Renaissance philosopher Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa who stated in 1433:
“There is in the people a divine seed by virtue of their common equal birth and the equal natural rights of all men, so that all authority – which comes from God as does man himself – is recognized as divine when it arises from the common consent of all the subjects… This is that divinely ordained marital state of spiritual union based on a lasting harmony by which a commonwealth is guided in the fullness of peace toward eternal bliss.”
This was a profound insight which rejected the popular notion of “man made in the image of mud” that had governed Europe under the feudal structures of oligarchism since the destruction of the Carolingian Empire of Charlemagne.
It took a bit of time for these concepts to become active organizing principles in the formation of the first nation state system of Louis XI of France in 1461, but when they demonstrated their effectiveness at organizing a nation and actualizing the creative powers of the citizens, it spread like wildfire. Louis XI qualified himself as a serious philosopher king which both Plato and Confucius in their times knew was the key for society’s salvation when he said: “When Justice reigns in a kingdom, the common good is well guarded, and so is the particular: Because Justice is such a virtue that maintains human company and common life, providing that everyone makes a wise use of common things as common; and of particular things as particular.”
After re-organizing his nations’ corrupt banking system and taxation system while re-directing the treasuries towards public works and mass education, France under Louis XI grew in power and managed to avoid military enmeshments that characterized Europe for centuries. His success was soon replicated in England as Henry VII of Tudor left France to overthrow the evil Plantagenet dynasty of Richard II in 1485 and followed Louis XI’s example. This “new statecraft” was simultaneously gaining steam across Italy’s city-states of Florence and Milan manifesting with the rise to prominence of such figures as Cosimo de Medici, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Nicollo Machiavelli. Leading humanist Aeneas Piccolomini, a follower of Cusa, was elected Pope in 1460 becoming Pius II which influenced the Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich III to the humanist cause.
Once Machiavelli became 2nd Chancellor of Florence in 1502, he immediately appointed Da Vinci as Chief Engineer to Cesar Borgia and the two worked closely together reforming military practices in defense of Florence for years.
Machiavelli, Leonardo, Borgia (who became the leader of Milan with Machiavelli’s help) understood well the nature of the evil that was trying to undo the new paradigm that they championed. It is here at this moment that it was realized that for the renaissance process to survive, a source of evil that plagued mankind for centuries had to be destroyed. As we shall later see, it was Venice that had been the primary force actively keeping the world at war and the population in the mud for centuries and those leading humanists knew that this force would not rest until the renaissance was undone and humanity was brought under total subjugation. Together they and leading co-thinkers across Italy, France and Spain organized an alliance which nearly wiped this evil from the face of the earth in 1508 called the League of Cambrai.
What Was Venice?
While Venice esteemed itself a republic (literally calling itself “the Serene republic”) it was in all pretenses a total oligarchy. The City-state was founded by leading families of the Roman oligarchy who sought refuge from Visigoths and Huns as the Empire collapsed in 450. It grew as a junior partner to the Byzantine Empire for centuries and formed a unique form of government. A senate amounting to nearly 1500 members of the nobility was formed which itself was headed by a Council of 10. Atop this pyramid was a council of three which utilized the figure of an elected doge to justify itself. The system was so effective that in its 1000+ years, only one attempt was made by a doge to go renegade- a crime for which he was publicly beheaded in 1355.
From below, the population was one of pure cattle living under a continuity of carnivals, prostitution, plague and poverty.
From 1201-1204, Venice had managed to run a coup on the Byzantine Empire with the pillage of Constantinople during the 4th Crusade. This was a masterstroke of evil genius that utilized fanatical European forces from France and the Holy Roman Empire who foolishly thought they were embarking on a Crusade to fight the Turks in the Holy Land. These fools were convinced to first pay debts they owed to Venice (for use of the latter’s transportation ships) by laying siege and looting the Christian City of Constantinople. This duplicitous scheme allowed Venice to not only destroy their older sister, but also took control of all her sea-based trade routes to boot. Venice also received a huge bribe from the Ottoman Empire for having kept Crusaders out of their way- thus freeing the Turks to destroy the remnants of the renaissance-Humanist culture of Baghdad in 1258.
By 1350, Venice had control over world finance through its monopoly of gold and silver bullion, maritime trade and the most sophisticated intelligence network on earth. Venice’s mastery of manipulating wars among potential allies while financing all sides was not limited to Europe. This “new Rome” had even spread its tentacles through Asia gaining a monopoly of trade in Mongol-controlled territories in exchange of offering political intelligence to the Khans whose success penetrating Russia, Kiev, Bulgaria, Hungary and beyond was made possible through such Venetian agents as Marco Polo and his father (Polo even became the Advisor to Kublai Khan).
Venetian Evil Called Out
Cosimo de Medici (sponsor of Cusa and the 1438 Council of Florence) said of the Venetians: “Association with the Venetians brings two things which have always been rejected by men of wisdom: perdition and disgrace” and Ludovico Sforza, an ally of Machiavelli said: “Venetians are obstinate and hardened, always keeping their mouths open to be able to bite off power and usurp the state of all their neighbors to fulfill the appetite of their souls to conquer Italy and then beyond as did the Romans, thinking to compare themselves to the Romans when their power was at its apex.”
Another ally of the League, Louis XII of France said the venetians “were traders in human blood, traitors to the Christian faith who have tacitly divided up the world with the Turks and who are already planning to throw bridgeheads across the Danube, the Rhine, the Seine, the Tagu and the Ebro, attempting to reduce Europe to a province and to keep it subjugated to their armies”.
Most eviscerating in his attack was Pope Pius II who said “As among brute beasts, aquatic creatures have the least intelligence, so among the human beings the Venetians are the least just and the least capable of humanity… They are hypocrites. They wish to appear as Christians before the world but in reality they never think of God and except for the state, which they regard as a deity, they hold nothing sacred, nothing holy… All law and right may be violated for the sake of power.”
The Success of the League
The League of Cambrai was established on December 10, 1508 uniting the highly corruptible Pope Julius II, the Holy Roman Empire Maximilian, France of Louis XII and Ferdinand I of Spain under the common cause of crushing this “new Rome” out of existence. Machiavelli was the driving force behind the league putting the project into motion in 1507 when he arranged for Maximilian to get on board with the agreement that Florence and Milan would finance the cause and provided strategic intelligence throughout.
Utilizing hired mercenary armies, the Venetians were unable to defend themselves against the onslaught that fell upon them. Venetian-controlled territories like Padua and Pisa were won by Florentine Citizen-soldiers organized by Machiavelli, Da Vinci and Borgia and with the decisive victory of France at Agnadello, the Venetian armies were obliterated on May 14, 1509. The Doge messaged the Pope begging for mercy and Machiavelli celebrated the victory writing that in one day, the Venetians “lost what it had taken them 800 years’ exertion to conquer.”
The Venetians were as good as finished… with no army left to defend themselves and the most powerful coalition of powers united together with all the capabilities to finish them off… so what happened?
The Failure of the League
Utilizing the weakest link in the coalition, Pope Julius II, the Venetians pulled off a secret bribe offering all of Rome’s lost territories and more to the Pope as well as a promise to buy alum from Papal territories at inflated values rather than with the Turks. This bribe turned the pope, and accordingly Maximilian against France and Florence as the League was left to disintegrate and a new Venetian-controlled alliance was created in 1512 called the Holy League which soon included England’s Henry VIII and Ferdinand I of Spain. Louis XII’s armies were decimated at the Battle of Ravenna in 1512 forcing a retreat to France and leaving Florence to be soon defeated. Machiavelli’s citizen army was promptly slaughtered, and the great leader tortured and exiled while Da Vinci evaded death by fleeing to Rome and later France.
The moment of great potential had collapsed an age of turmoil and war was unleashed which wouldn’t see a major respite until the establishment of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia (itself sabotaged by the same Venetian forces who by this time were in the midst of moving their center of power to the more strategic location of England and the Netherlands).
In the 2008 manuscript The Modern Anglo-Dutch Empire: It’s Origins, Evolution and Anti-Human Outlook, historian Bob Ingraham recounts in sordid detail how the leading families of Venice moved their operation out of the lagoons during the 17th century in order to become the Anglo-Dutch Empire. This valuable research recounts the creation of a new system of private central banking innovated by Venice’s Banco della Piazza di Rialto of 1587 which morphed into the Bank of Venice in 1619. This new banking paradigm created the model that was used in the creation of the Bank of Amsterdam in 1609 and later with the Bank of England in 1694 after the Venetian Party of England orchestrated a coup known as the “Glorious Revolution”.
This financial innovation was based on the realization that it is better to control a nation’s issuance of banknotes and bills of credit while masquerading a private corporation as a national institution rather than simply attempting to impose simple usury on a nation as had been previously done for centuries.
How Not to Repeat History
While the 1648 Peace of Westphalia saw a re-activation of the renaissance principle enunciated by Cusa, Europe soon fell back into organized warfare leaving the beautiful principles of the treaty mere words on parchment. While the 1776 American Revolution again saw a re-activation of this principle, its spread throughout Europe and beyond was also crushed with the perversion of the French revolution which turned into an irreparable bloodbath by 1791. While the 19th century alliance of sovereign nations adopting Lincoln’s system also nearly resulted in a new age of progress and win-win cooperation, it too was destroyed by small-minded fools falling prey to short-term games and their own egos.
Today, 135 nations have been brought into solidarity with the Russia-China’s alliance and this new momentum for progress and cooperation has inspired a renewed nationalism across even the Trans-Atlantic Community which had fallen so deeply under Anglo-Dutch financial control throughout the 20th Century that few had believed hope could still exist. Even America’s constitutional traditions once believed lost to its post-JFK conversion into Britain’s dumb giant appears to be experiencing a much-needed revival under President Trump.
With nearly 8 billion souls on the planet and the power of the atom at our fingertips, the stakes have never been higher and the liberty to act the fool in the face of Venetian evil never so intolerable.
Little has been revealed in terms of precise statements or any potential diplomatic breakthroughs following Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's closed-door, no press admitted meeting with President Trump on Tuesday.
But the predictable outraged frenzy given the timing didn't disappoint, with CNN pointing out "the extraordinary spectacle of President Donald Trump consulting with Moscow on the day House Democrats unveiled articles of impeachment underpinned partly by Trump's unusual relationship with Russia."
On that note, Lavrov did punch back on the 'Russiagate' narrative in general as well as the notion that a mere diplomatic meeting would suggest a 'compromised' White House, saying in a joint press conference with Secretary of State Pompeo that his county's alleged election interference is "baseless" and any level of proof "simply does not exist".
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: "We have highlighted once again that all speculation about our alleged interference in domestic processes in the US are baseless. There are no facts that would support that ...no one has given us this proof because it simply does not exist" pic.twitter.com/LiUItaj1Ch— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 10, 2019
This after Rep. Adam Schiff slammed the high level meeting as "a success of the Russian propaganda" while lamenting that supposedly "adversaries" were "invited in" but with "allies locked out."
Trump is meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister in the Oval Office — again.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) December 10, 2019
Adversaries invited in. Allies locked out.
Last time, they laughed about Trump’s firing of Comey. Today, they can celebrate the success of Russian propaganda.
Reagan wouldn’t recognize this GOP. pic.twitter.com/iHiksPXMbM
“There was no press at our meeting, American or Russian. If Schiff can describe the ministerial-level contacts normal to any country and my meeting with the president in such a way, then I believe that they will soon accuse our diplomats, just as they have our athletes, of doping and call for criminal punishment,” Lavrov said mockingly.
In a tweet President Trump said he had a "very good" meeting with the top Russian diplomat and listed items discussed as including trade, Iran, North Korea, the INF Treaty, Nuclear Arms Control, and election meddling (on this last topic, Lavrov denied receiving a "warning" from Trump regarding interference).
Just had a very good meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and representatives of Russia. Discussed many items including Trade, Iran, North Korea, INF Treaty, Nuclear Arms Control, and Election Meddling. Look forward to continuing our dialogue in the near future! pic.twitter.com/tHecH9a9ck— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2019
A White House statement indicated the potential for greater trade with Russia was also a focus on the meeting.
Speaking of trade and ongoing sanctions Lavrov boasted before reporters that trade between the two countries has actually grown during the Trump administration.
“Regardless of the sanctions – which obviously hurt everyone – the trade between our two countries has grown during the Trump presidency from $20 billion, to which it was reduced under President Obama, to $27 billion this year,” Lavrov said.
A further highlight of the late Tuesday press conference came when one reporter sought to "trap" the Russian foreign minister by asking whether he had again received any classified information during this Oval visit, based on prior allegations from their initial May 2017 meeting.
“I can only find that out based on what you report,” Lavrov replied, and then appeared to again mock the assumptions behind the question:
“We talked about what I openly and literally told you. If you find some secrets there, feel free to make that sensational.”
Also of note is that Lavrov said he again extended a personal invitation from Putin to Trump to be in attendance for Moscow's Victory Day celebrations in May. The president is said to be "considering it".
Les prix de l’immobilier augmentent essentiellement dans les zones qui concentrent le plus de ménages aisés. Derrière cette tendance se cache une dynamique de ségrégation sociale.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow was against foreign interference in the situation in Iraq and Lebanon. “With regard to the situation in Lebanon and Iraq […] our position is that it is possible to overcome the current crisis in these countries only through national dialogue,” said Lavrov. “I hope that […]
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Mardi 10 décembre, les cheminots et agents de la RATP ont manifesté à Paris. Au-delà de la réforme des retraites, ils dénoncent la baisse constante de leurs effectifs, le mauvais entretien des voies et des problèmes croissants de sécurité Paris, reportage
Hier, mardi 10 décembre, c'était le sixième jour de grève contre la réforme des retraites. Une fois encore les cheminots, l'un des secteurs pivots de la contestation aux côtés des agents de la RATP, étaient fortement mobilisés. La circulation des trains a (...)
Richard Gooding had one of the most famous whisky collections in history. In fact, before passing away in 2014, he spent years at distilleries in Scotland and at auctions building his 3,900 bottle collection, including some of the rarest bottles in the world.
Two of those bottles could fetch $2 million at auction, according to Bloomberg.
At the beginning of next year, his bottles will become the largest private whisky collection to ever hit the auction block. The collection includes extreme rarities from names like Macallan, Bowmore and Springbank.
Collectors continue to drive the prices of old, rare single malt scotch to record prices. Back in October, we noted that Sothby's auctioned off 467 bottles owned by another American collector, including a 1926 Macallan Fine & Rare 60 Year Old, for $1.9 million.
The Gooding collection will feature two such bottles of the same Macallans, one of which bears a label created by Italian pop art painter Valerio Adami. Only a dozen of the Adami bottles were made and one of them was destroyed in a 2011 earthquake in Japan.
Becky Paskin, a scotch consultant and writer said: “The amount of people who have even tasted this whisky are few and far between, so to have two of these unicorn bottles in one auction is very exciting.”
The auction will be a proud moment for Iain McClune's Whiskey Auctioneer, a company that was founded six years ago in a two-room basement office in Central Scotland. Earlier this year, WA auctioned a 50 year Yamazaki from Japan that fetched 160,500 pounds - a record for his firm that will soon be shattered.
In the upcoming auction, whiskey collectors will be focused on bottles from "lost" distilleries that stopped production long ago, like Dallas Dhu, a one time whiskey-maker in Speyside that closed in 1983. There will also be ample amounts of Bowmore, which was one of Gooding's favorite whiskys. A 1964 Bowmore is expected to attract bids of 12,000 to 17,000 pounds and a 50 year old Springbank from 1919 is expected to bring in 180,000 to 220,000 pounds.
“Richard’s mission was to collect a bottle that represented every single distillery,” his wife, Nancy Gooding, concluded.
Alors que les sondages donnent une légère avance au camp conservateur pour l'élection législative de ce jeudi 12 décembre, les grandes formations politiques britanniques rivalisent de promesses