The US is moving closer to alienating key regional allies (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE) in order to support Turkey’s and Qatar’s objectives in Libya, without defining the strategic goals for the US and the West.
September is the hottest month of the year for gold prices, rising on average 3% over the past 20 years. As the yellow metal tests hovers off 2-month-lows, Bloomberg notes that "Indian jewelers and dealers will be stocking up in the coming weeks," ahead of the festival period, which runs from late August to October (andis followed by the wedding season) when bullion is bought for part of the bridal trousseau or in jewelry form as gifts from relatives. As GoldCore's Mark O'Byrne notes, "a lot of traders are aware of this trend towards seasonal strength... They tend to buy and that creates momentum."
For close to 300 years, inflation in the US remained very subdued. Small spurts occurred around major wars (Revolutionary, Civil, WW1, etc), but after each, inflation quickly trended back down to its long-term baseline. If you lived during this stretch of time, your money had roughly the same purchasing power your great-grandfather's did. That is, until the "Nixon shock" in 1971, when the dollar's remaining ties to gold were severed. Then inflation exploded. And the inflationary moon-shot has continued since, up to present day. So, we've become used to a system in which our money loses purchasing power over the years. For anyone aged 50 or younger, it's pretty much all we've ever known. But it doesn't have to be this way.
Curious what the political positions are of the various, and all too numerous some would say, religions and churches in America? This new graph, courtesy of Tobin Grant, maps the ideologies of 44 different religious groups using data comes from Pew’s Religious Landscape survey. This survey included 32,000 respondents. It asked very specific questions on religion that allow us to find out the precise denomination, church, or religion of each person.
If Japan’s results and programs hold any true difference, it is only that they are further down the same road than the rest of us. As Japanification continues in the US and Europe, we are gaining good observations about what lays ahead until the political will to use that same textbook time and time again is exhausted, or, more likely, removed.
Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly said that he does not favor the break-up of Ukraine - but only greater autonomy for the East, appears to have changed course rather dramatically today. In a speech broadcast on Russian TV, the Russian leader stated "we need to immediately begin substantive talks... on questions of the political organisation of society and statehood for southeastern Ukraine." As The Washington Post reports, use of the word "statehood" reflects a major shift in Kremlin policy towards 'Novorossiya' - it would be a direct challenge not only to Kiev but also to Western European nations and the United States, which have been trying to force Moscow to back down. While not directly addressing the latest round of sanctions chatter, Putin concluded, perhaps ominously, "they should have known that Russia cannot stand aside when people are being shot almost at point-blank."
Probably the 'oddest' headline of the day but in yet another show of disdain towards US military might, the Islamist militia group known as "Dawn Of Libya" has 'secured' an annex of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli. As Reuters reports, the United States evacuated its embassy in Tripoli on July 26, driving diplomats across the border into Tunisia; but a YouTube video showed the breach of the vacated diplomatic facility by an armed group, with fighters seen milling around a swimming pool. A rebel takeover of the compound would now deliver another symbolic blow to U.S. policy toward Libya, which Western governments fear is teetering toward becoming a failed state.
A Ukraine military spokesman has confirmed that some sailors were killed and more injured when 2 Ukraine Coast Guard cutters came under attack by artillery from onshore near the village of Bezimenne (close to the Russian Border). This is believed to be the first such incident since the conflict began.
The global economic downturn of 2008, in particular its monetary facet, readily invites comparison between the troubles of the modern world and those of the Roman Empire; just as Western currencies have declined precipitously in value since their commodity backing was removed in stages starting roughly a century ago, Roman currencies were also troubled, and present a cautionary tale. The Roman coin in use through most of the empire was the denarius, which demonstrated a persistent decline in value, starting from the time of transition from Republic to Empire, and continuing until its decimation during the Crisis of the Third Century AD. Although efforts by Diocletian taken after the monetary collapse are commonly associated with Roman economic reform, there were other efforts by earlier, lesser known emperors that suddenly and unexpectedly improved the silver content and value of the denarius. Firsthand accounts and archeological findings provide sufficient detail to allow examination of these short, if noteworthy, periods of voluntary restorative policies – and their architects.
Native Americans appear to have been in a constant state of warfare, with many tribes becoming extinct well before the arrival of Columbus. Not only did these tribes have to compete for food but also genes, where problems associated with inbreeding likely led to the common practice of raiding one another for women and slaves. The arrival of the Europeans did not make things any better, and not before long they were also fighting among each other.
The Islamic State is nothing if not ambitious. Despite no record of current 'airplane' assets in their annual reports, ISIS has begun detaining and forcing Syrian pilots to train militant fighters to fly stolen aircraft. According to CNN Arabic, the pilots (and their planes and helicopters) were abducted when the terrorist group gained control of Tabqa military base. It appears that if beheadings, executions, and whippings are not enough to strike fear into the hearts of the locals, then (just as America is tryiung to do), an air assault will greatly demoralize. We can only imagine how this changes Obama's strategy (and just where are all the rest of Syria and Iraq's airplanes stored?)
Don’t be surprised to lose if you don’t make an effort at being competitive. And if you go out of your way to make yourself less competitive, expect to lose. If that sounds like simple common sense, that’s because it is. But it’s also exactly what the US has been doing for years...