Guest Post: Preparing For A North Korean Collapse

A report by Bruce Bennett and the RAND Corporation has brought attention to one of the most important issues for international politics. Ironically, despite being a region of vital interest within American foreign policy, there has been very little public discussion of what to do in the event of government collapse in North Korea. Bennett’s timely report provides a series of vital contributions to the discussion and further outlines the lack of preparation in political, social, economic and military terms. Yet beyond the critical end game for the Korean peninsula are deeper questions concerning how any international force might respond. Specifically, how can the U.S. and Republic of Korea effectively mobilize regional powers with their differing security and development goals? Preparing for the unthinkable is not a simple moral imperative, but responsible leadership in the twenty-first century.

US Drones Taliban Leader; His Troops Vow Bloody Revenge; Pakistan Government Furious At America

Having done a bang up job in Syria, where Obama nearly started world war III so Qatar could send its natgas to Europe at a lower price than  Gazprom's, while alienating America's legacy allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Israel, and ensuring its enemies see it even weaker in the international arena following Obama's schooling by Putin, the US president continues to win friends abroad (while spying there, here and everywhere, namely the Pope) with the latest snafu coming from Pakistan, another former ally, where America just droned the leader of the Taliban fighters on Saturday, leaving his body "damaged but recognizable". 

How The World Really Works - The Documentary

Renegade Economist's "Four Horsemen" documentary lifts the lid on how the world really works. "Four Horsemen is a breathtakingly composed jeremiad against the folly of Neo-classical economics and the threats it represents to all we should hold dear." Free from mainstream media propaganda -- the film doesn't bash bankers, criticize politicians or get involved in conspiracy theories. It ignites the debate about how to usher a new economic paradigm into the world which would dramatically improve the quality of life for billions. Since it is becoming abundantly clear that we will never return to 'business as usual', 23 international thinkers, government advisers and Wall Street money-men break their silence and explain how to establish a moral and just society.

Paul Brodsky: "The Fed Is Holding A Burning Match"

The Fed will have to increase QE (not taper it) because systemic debt is compounding faster than production and interest rates are already zero-bound. Lee Quaintance noted many years ago that the Fed was holding a burning match. This remains true today (only it is a bomb with a short fuse). Thirteen years after the over-levered US equity market collapsed, eleven years following Bernanke’s speech, five years after the over-levered housing bubble burst, and four years into the necessary onset of global Zero Interest Rate Policies and Long-Term Refinancing Operations, global monetary authorities seem to have run out of new outlets for credit. In real economic terms, central bank policies have become ineffective. In other words, the US is now producing as much new debt as goods and services.

The "Oh Crap" Moment For Housing Is Now In The Can

Real estate guru Mark Hanson updates his housing view following this week's dismal housing industry data:

Sept. Pending Sales... the largest MoM drop since Sept 2001... not 2011... yes, 2001.

Don't let them tell you 'this is normal for Sept'. The 'oh-crap' moment is now in the can. Going forward, "Existing Sales" volume will disappoint on a YoY basis for several quarters. There is no way around it...

The Fallacies Of Forward Guidance

With the recent adoption of explicit forward guidance as a stimulative policy tool by the major European central banks, virtually every major central bank is now using the tool in some form. The potential benefits and dangers of such policies as central bank communications have evolved are unclear as "the form of guidance" matters. As Robin Brooks notes, and is so well illusrated below in the example of the Riksbank's and Norges Bank's 'failures', "[In terms of implications for rates] the jury is still out on how well forward guidance works. What is clear, though, is that markets prefer 'deeds' to 'words'."

Top Obama Donor Gets Paid To Fix Obamacare Website After Blowing It Up

The ironically-named Quality Software Services Inc (QSSI) allegedly responsible for the SNAFU that is the Obamacare website's data hub has, incredibly, been named the new general contractor in charge off repairing the glitch-plagued HealthCare.gov. As The NY Post reports, as if the $150 million so far paid to this UnitedHealth subsidiary for its farcically bad implementation was not enough, the executive vice president of the firm (Anthony Welters) and his wife were among Obama's largest personal campaign contributors during the 2008 election cycle (and the firm has spent millions "lobbying" for Obamacare). The cronyism runs deep as the Post also points out that visitor logs show at least a dozen visits between the two by the end of 2012, the most recent information available.

4 Things To Ponder This Weekend

As we enter into the two final months of the year, it is also the beginning of the seasonally strong period for the stock market.  It has already been a phenomenal year for asset prices as the Federal Reserve's ongoing liquidity programs have seemingly trumped every potential headwind imaginable from Washington scandals, potential invasions, government shutdowns and threats of default.  This leaves us with four things to ponder this weekend revolving around a central question:  "Does the Fed's Q.E. programs actually work as intended and what are the potential consequences?"

Lucy In The Sky With Obamacare

Not even Paul and John would have any clue what the message is or what is going on in this psychedelic, Yellow Subamrine-inspired TV ad slot for Obamacare titled "Fly With Your Own Wings", part of the Cover Oregon campaign (funded by US taxpayers). Perhaps: enroll in Obamacare, get a lifetime supply of LSD for free...

Today, America's Foodstamps Program Gets A 6% Haircut: What Happens Next?

Today, one of America's best-known welfare programs with 47.6 million participants or 15% of the total population, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also known as "foodstamps" or EBT, is due for a substantial haircut: beginning Friday, there will be a phased in $5 billion reduction (6% of the program) for the 12 month period starting November 1st 2013. So what happens next? 

Are Conspiracy Theories The Biggest Threat To Democracy?

What is the common element between Liborgate, the Fed manipulating capital markets, China hoarding gold, and the recent ubiquotous NSA spying revelations? At one point, before they became fact, they were all "conspiracy theories" as were the Freemasons, the Illuminati, McCarthy's witch hunts, 9/11, and so many more. The same theories, which are now part of a Cambridge University study titled Conspiracy and Democracy,  which looks at the prevalence of conspiracy theories and what they tell us about trust in democratic societies, about the differences between cultures and societies, and why conspiracy theories (ostensibly before they become fact) appear at particular moments in history. But, at its core, whether conspiracy theories will, as the BBC summarizes, it, eventually destroy democracy.

Top U.S. Hospitals Are Opting Out Of Obamacare

Americans who sign up for Obamacare will be getting a big surprise if they expect to access premium health care that may have been previously covered under their personal policies. Most of the top hospitals will accept insurance from just one or two companies operating under Obamacare. Watchdog.org looked at the top 18 hospitals nationwide as ranked by U.S. News and World Report for 2013-2014. We contacted each hospital to determine their contracts and talked to several insurance companies, as well. The result of our investigation: Many top hospitals are simply opting out of Obamacare.

Obama Issues Executive Order To Prepare For Climate War

Two months ago we reported that Obama had officially declared war on the weather, after it was reported that he was ready to use "administrative authority" to fight climate change. While at the time it was not quite clear just what authority he had to unleash centrally-planned weather, today we finally got a glimpse of how Obama's biggest war yet would look like. As Washington Times reports, "President Obama issued an executive order Friday directing a government-wide effort to boost preparation in states and local communities for the impact of global warming. The action orders federal agencies to work with states to build “resilience” against major storms and other weather extremes. For example, the president’s order directs that infrastructure projects like bridges and flood control take into consideration climate conditions of the future, which might require building structures larger or stronger — and likely at a higher price tag." In other words, following the epic Syrian fiasco, whose primary intention was to boost the US budget deficit as a result of a localized war, and allow Bernanke more debt issues to monetize, Obama now has decided to unleash a very expensive, and very much debt-funded war against the greatest enemy of all: the weather.

 

Spain-Based Fagor, Europe's Fifth Largest Appliance Maker, On Verge Of Bankruptcy

There has been much media insinuation in recent months that just because Spain's economy has virtually shuttered, and imports have slid to unprecedented low levels in the process pushing the (adjusted) GDP beancount positive for the first time in 3 years, that things are somehow getting better. What the media has roundly ignored is that as a result of the collapse in consumption and end demand, courtesy of an unemployment rate that at least according to Eurostat just rose to a new record high, the companies that actually operate in Spain and form the basis for any real economic growth, are shuttering at an unprecedented pace. Of note: Spanish electrical appliance maker Fagor, which employs 5,700 people worldwide, or in a few shorts months, employed, is one step closer to bankruptcy after its Polish subsidiary filed for protection from its creditors. The company, which claims to be the fifth-biggest electrical appliance company in Europe, had trading of its debt suspended after its mother firm - private Spanish conglomerate Mondragon - refused to pour in money to rescue the company.

LAX Shooter Identified, "Wanted To Kill TSA And Pigs"

Contrary to initial reports that the shooter was an off-duty NSA agent, subsequent updates have revealed that the LAX shooter, who reportedly is still dead, although unclear if he was killed before or after he was in police custody, as Paul Anthony Ciancia, a 23-year-old who was either a Los Angeles native, or from Pennsville, N.J. Additionally, we have learned that according to a law enforcement official, who was briefed at LAX on the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly, said the gunman was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a hand-written note that said he "wanted to kill TSA and pigs." The official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. Considering the accuracy with which this news event has been broken, most of it relying on unsubstantiated and often times fake Twitter sources (some had reported earlier, falsely, that the former NSA chief had been shot as well), we won't be surprised if this story were to change a few more times.