As if on cue, NATO made it even more explicit that its primary prerogative remains to provoke Russia into an offensive move, when over the weekend the Times reported that the British military may soon start stockpiling tanks and other heavy equipment in Eastern Europe as part of NATO's military beef up close to Russia's border. The decision may come at the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw in July.
The problems we face cannot be fixed with policy tweaks and minor reforms. Yet policy tweaks and minor reforms are all we can manage when the pie is shrinking and every vested interest is fighting to maintain their share of the pie. Our failure stems from a much deeper problem: we optimize what we measure. If we measure the wrong things, and focus on measuring process rather than outcome, we end up with precisely what we have now: a set of perverse incentives that encourage self-destructive behaviors and policies.
Cynics, skeptics, and fiction-peddlers...
So what happens to all that Chinese steel that was on its way to the US and EU before slamming into those prohibitively high tariffs? One of three things: Either it’s sold elsewhere, probably at even steeper discounts, thus pricing US and EU steel exports out of those markets. Or it’s stockpiled in China for future use, thus lowering future demand for new steel production and, other things being equal, depressing tomorrow’s prices. Or many of China’s newly-built steel mills will close, and China will eat the losses related to this malinvestment. Each scenario results in lower prices and financial losses somewhere. Put another way, as far as steel is concerned, the world’s fiat currencies are rising in value, which is the common definition of deflation.
"One thing I do know is... all men are not created equal.. it's unfair to aks our children to recite [the declaration of independence] that's not the truth... In 1776 Dr. King was not even born..."
Venezuela’s gold reserves have plunged to their lowest level on record after the country sold $1.7 billion of the precious metal in the first quarter of the year to repay debts. The country is grappling with an economic crisis that has left it struggling to feed its population.The OPEC member’s gold reserves have dropped almost a third over the past year and it sold over 40 tonnes in February and March. Gold now makes up almost 70% of the country’s total reserves, which fell to a low of $12.1 billion last week
Less than a week ago, after reporting that shootings in Chicago were up an astonishing 50% from the same time in 2015, Chicago's police superintendent Eddie Johnson proclaimed "as we look toward the summer months, violence will not be tolerated." Johnson didn't give any further details around what the plan was actually going to be to stem the violence other than volunteers would be asked to work overtime during the Memorial Day Weekend. Sadly, as the Chicago Tribune reports, whatever plan Johnson had didn't work and violence in Chicago has erupted once again. So far this Memorial Day weekend, there have been 40 people shot (4 killed, 36 wounded)
As technology continues to fragment communication and the spread of ideas, people will continue to pursue their own individual interests with the effect of further cultural divergence. We are heading toward a world where we can build our own echo chambers and shut off anything we find offensive or unpleasant. In other words, if you think that cultural fragmentation is bad now — or that the Trump supporters are suggesting extreme measures in order to reimpose a degree of cultural hegemony - you ain’t seen nothing yet. The decentralization of warfare through the adptation of drone technology and things like 3-D printed guns and bullets means that many skirmishes will likely be fought over this stuff again.
Forget McDonalds and minimum wage blowback, the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) is set to send a convoy of vehicles along a stretch of Interstate 69 in Michigan as part of an initial testing of driverless military vehicle equipment on public roadways. The autonomous technology, designed to "save the lives of soldiers serving overseas," is the latest step for the army as it progresses towards its goal of unmanned Abrams tanks and helicopters.
In light of the continued push by state AGs to go after Exxon on climate change, five senators have sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch demanding that in two weeks, the Department of Justice "immediately cease its ongoing use of law enforcement resources to stifle private debate on one of the most controversial public issues of our time - climate change." Or, said otherwise, to end the government witch hunt against political opponents of president Obama's energy agenda.
After months of haggling, Germany's coalition government has agreed on a new "Integration Law" aimed at regulating the rights and responsibilities of asylum seekers in Germany. The main focus of the law is to encourage refugees to learn enough German to be able to find a job and help pay for their living expenses. Chancellor Angela Merkel has hailed the new law as a "milestone," but critics counter that the new law is a largely symbolic measure directed at reassuring German voters and blunting the rise of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, accusing Merkel of "no longer being concerned about the interests of Germans and the future of their nation, the protection of their living environment and their cultural identity."
"...if I win believe me we're gonna start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive, so that your job market will get better..."
The Fed’s crusade to pump-up inflation toward its 2.00% target by hammering-down interest rates to the so-called zero bound is economically lethal. The former destroys the purchasing power of main street wages while the latter strip mines capital from business and channels it into Wall Street financial engineering and the inflation of stock prices.
With the S&P closing at 2,099 on Friday, here - courtesy of Citi - is a reminder of the recent monthly highs in the S&P 500, all of which have managed to rise above 2,100 only to slide right back down again. There is one more trading day in May, or as CitiFX' Brent Donnelly puts it, "here we go again."