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US Troops Are Heading To Ukraine

While only 'humanitarian adviser' boots on the ground are present in Iraq (and Syria), Reuters reports that preparations are under way near Ukraine's western border for a joint military exercise this month with more than 1,000 troops from the United States and its allies. As Obama told reporters last week, "that a military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming," it seems a little odd 'strategically' to go ahead with the Rapid Trident exercise Sept. 16-26 as a sign of the commitment of NATO states to support non-NATO member Ukraine, entailing the first significant deployment of U.S. and other personnel to Ukraine since the crisis erupted.



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ISIS Allegedly Decapitates Second American Journalist

As Jon Williams reports, in "Second Message to America" warning governments to back off "this evil alliance with America," the British ISIS 'executioner' says "Obama I'm back..." warns Obama "as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike necks of your people."

Sotloff asks "why paying price of your interference with my life."



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The Morning After: What Happens When A Government Destroys Its Currency

“Everyone in the country was in shock. People’s net worth had devalued more than 53% overnight.”

Looking back, it was so obvious. But most people ignored the warning signs following the government's reassurances that all would be well... It’s human nature to want to believe that everything is going to be OK. Are we so different today?



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California Minimum-Wage Earners Work 19 Hours-A-Day, 7 Days-A-Week To Afford Rent

Thanks to The Fed-inspired fast-money flood driving up asset prices, owning or even renting a home has become unaffordable to most. Working a 40-hour-week, a single-earner in D.C. would need to be paid a $28.25 minimum wage for afford to rent a home... and if you live in California (and earn minimum wage), you will need to work 18.6 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week to afford rent. Thank you Ben and Janet...



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A Divided World

Yesterday we showed how 'isolated' Russia was (if you chose to look only at isolating parts of the world). Today, we glimpse at the world's views on China vs US... As The Global Post notes, we know that only 35 percent of Americans have a favorable view of China. But what about the rest of the world?



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The Scariest California Drought Map Yet

Across California, reservoirs are running dry as the drought continues to weigh dramatically on many parts of the economy. The following map, showing the dismally low levels of reservoirs in all their horrible glory could be the scariest drought map yet...



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China Services PMI Jumps Most On Record To 18-Month Highs

While Markit's Manufacturing PMI fell in August, the apparent demand for 'services' in China exploded. China Services PMI jumped from the worst on record 50.0 in July to 54.1 in August (18-month highs). This is the biggest MoM rise in the data on record... because they can. We have nothing to add because it's simply becoming too surreal and manipulated for rational explanation. HSBC is quick to note that it's not all unicorns and ponies and that more stimulus is still needed.



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Did US Macro Just Jump The Shark?

For the past five years there has been a very clear and significant cycle to US macro data.. A year ago, we explained this cycle appears to be created by government agencies need to spend, spend, spend their budgets out ahead of fiscal year-end (Sept). This year has been no different... As in past years, this spike in activity is extrapolated by the smartest people in the room, leaving the reality to miss expectations for the rest of the year. A glance at the chart below might suggest, we just jumped the shark once more in US macro data for 2014...



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If You Like Your "Boots On The Ground", Here's Even More - Obama To Send 350 Troops To Iraq

Just hours after the beheading of a 2nd American journalist, The White House has issued a statement:

*U.S. TO SEND ABOUT 350 MILITARY PERSONNEL TO IRAQ: WHITE HOUSE
*WHITE HOUSE SAYS ADDITIONAL FORCES WON'T SERVE IN A COMBAT ROLE

With American non-combat, humanitarian, advisers now being dispersed to the four corners of the world for non-combat, humanitarian, advisory roles; one wonders how long it will be before someone asks President Obama just what these peace-keeping non-combat personnel will be doing in their role "to protect diplomatic facilities and personnel in Baghdad."



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Memo To Washington: Iraq Is Not A Nation And You Can’t Build One There With Bombs

Washington’s strategy in Iraq is in shambles, but not just because America’s spanker-in-chief is really a wimp at heart. The problem is far more generic. To wit, the geographic territory of Iraq is not a nation; it is an arbitrary series of lines on a map drawn 100 years ago by dandies in the foreign offices of two fading empires (the British and the French) - which lines encircled numerous tribes, ethnicities and religious confessions which had no interest in sharing a common statehood.



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The One Thing The Bank Of Japan Apparently Can't Print More Of

First it was socialist utopia Venezuela and now Keynesian-economics favorite playground Japan is concerned about a troubling problem - fear of a toilet-paper shortage. As WSJ reports, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is encouraging families to stockpile at least one month’s worth of toilet paper in the event of a major disaster, as they "fear there would be a serious shortage of toilet paper nationally." Ironic really, given Shinzo Abe's past 'problems'.



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The Eurozone Could Be A Problem For Stocks

Is it possible, that in globally interconnected economy, the U.S. can stand alone? It certainly seems that the answer to that question is currently "yes" as financial markets hit "new all-time" highs and economic data has rebounded in the second quarter following a sharp Q1 decline. However, as is always the case, the issue of sustainability is most critical.



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Guest Post: How Can You Tell Whether Russia Has Invaded Ukraine?

Last Thursday the Ukrainian government, echoed by NATO spokesmen, declared that the the Russian military is now operating within Ukraine's borders. They said the same thing before, most recently on August 13, and then on August 17, each time with either no evidence or fake evidence. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt. You be the judge. We put together this helpful list of top ten telltale signs that will allow you to determine whether indeed Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday, or whether Thursday's announcement is yet another confabulation...



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China Will Revise Its GDP Definition Until Its Hits Government "Growth Targets", Goldman Explains

Moments ago, in an example of "very serious phrasing", none other than the bank that does god's work on earth (especially when it means providing off balance sheet financing for the bank of the Holy Spirit), just reported that the reason why China will hit its growth target is because of, drumroll, its fudged GDP. Only Goldman is far more serious when it says all of this, with the result being just too hilarious for words: to wit: "In the coming months, China’s National Bureau of Statistics is to make adjustments to the methodology used to calculate GDP. These adjustments are likely to boost real GDP growth by 0.1-0.2pp, thereby making it easier for the government to reach its goal of “around 7.5%” GDP growth in 2014."



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Back To The Future

Having singularly failed to reform or restructure their dilapidated economies, many governments throughout the West have left it to their central banks to keep a now exhausted credit bubble to inflate further. Unprecedented monetary stimulus and the suppression of interest rates have now boxed both central bankers and many investors into a corner. Bond markets now have no value but could yet get even more delusional in terms of price and yield. Stock markets are looking increasingly irrational relative to the health of their underlying economies. The euro zone looks set to re-enter recession and now expects the ECB to unveil outright quantitative easing. If the West wishes to regain its economic vigour versus Asia, it would do well to remember what made it so culturally and economically exceptional in the first place. We seem to be close to the endgame.



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