Anyone Who Thinks that War Is Good For the Economy Has One Eye Covered ... And Is Only Looking At Half the Picture ...
Why Is Social Media Censoring Criticism of the Government?
A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enema.
Let’s be honest, quite a few Americans love a good war, especially those Americans who have never had to bear witness to one first hand. War is the ultimate tribally vicarious experience. Anyone, even pudgy armchair generals with deep-seated feelings of personal inadequacy, can revel in the victories and actions of armies a half a world away as if they themselves stood on the front lines risking possible annihilation at the hands of dastardly cartoon-land “evil doers”. They may have never done a single worthwhile thing in their lives, but at least they can bask in the perceived glory of their country’s military might. This attitude of swollen ego through proxy is not limited to the “Right” side of the political spectrum as some might expect. In fact, if the terrifyingly demented presidency of Barack Obama has proven anything so far, it is that elements of the “Left” are just as bloodthirsty as any NeoCon, and just as ready to blindly support the political supremacy of their “side” regardless of any broken promises, abandoned principles, or openly flaunted hypocrisies. No matter how reasonable or irrefutable the arguments against a particular conflict are, there will ALWAYS be a certain percentage of the populace which ignores all logic and barrels forward to cheerlead violent actions which ultimately only benefit a select and elite few.
Market participants continued to react positively to yesterday’s reports that Euro-zone central banks, via the ECB, are to exchange the Greek bonds they hold for new bonds, without CAC’s, to help the Greek debt deal. As a result, stock futures traded higher throughout the session, led by the financials sector, while the health-care sector which is characterised by defensive-investment properties underperformed. Looking elsewhere, EUR/GBP traded briefly below the 0.8300 level, while GBP/USD continued to consolidate above the 1.5800 level following the release of better than expected retail sales. Hopes that a Greek deal is in the pipeline also lifted EUR/USD, which trades in close proximity to an intraday option expiry at 1.3110.
The US aircraft carrier Abrham Lincoln, which demonstratively passed through the Straits of Hormuz a month ago just to "test the waters", has now sailed out of the Persian Gulf following a several day stay in the 5th Fleet base in Bahrain. And unlike the previous passage, Iran decided to get up close and personal. As AP reports: "The American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln has passed through the Strait of Hormuz, shadowed by Iranian patrol boats. But there were no incidents on Tuesday as the Lincoln’s battle group crossed through the narrow strait, which Iran has threatened to close in retaliation for tighter Western sanctions. Several U.S. choppers flanked the carrier group throughout the voyage from the Gulf. Radar operators also picked up an Iranian drone and surveillance helicopter in Iran’s airspace near the strait, which is jointly controlled by Iran and Oman. The Lincoln entered the Gulf last month amid heightened tensions with Iran. It is scheduled to begin providing aiding the NATO mission in Afghanistan starting Thursday." Which mission would that be: the one where the US has withdrawn from? Luckily, this time no "hacker" managed to take over an Iranian boat and to send a few stray torpedoes in the Lincoln's general direction. Hopefully that continues. Also, it is unclear if the drones shadowing CVN-72 were the same that Iran with China's help, reverse engineered after the US drone fell in the middle of Tehran and did not self-destruct.
Minxin Pei, the most original of current Sinologists, makes the point authoritarian/totalitarian regimes inherently prioritize requirements for protecting regime leaders over long-term national interest.
One of the most ominous developments for us personally crawled out from under its rock in November. Again without any public debate, DHS unleashed its National Operations Center's Media Monitoring Initiative. Yep, it's exactly what it sounds like: The NOC's Office of Operations Coordination and Planning is going to collect information from news anchors, journalists, reporters, or anyone who may use "traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed." Thus Washington, D.C. unilaterally grants itself the right to monitor what you say. Doesn't matter if you're the New York Times, Brian Williams, a basement blogger, an online whistleblower, or known government critics like ourselves. They're gonna take note of your utterances and file them away for future use. Journalists are not the only targets, by the way. Also included among those subject to this surveillance are government officials (domestic or not) who make public statements; private-sector employees who do the same; and "persons known to have been involved in major crimes of Homeland Security interest," however large that umbrella might be....The larger speculation is: what's the endgame here?
SOTU Post Mortem:
The best news possible: "Nothing will get done this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that." Barack Hussein Obama
The worst news: Everything else.
Here is the text of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address as prepared for delivery at 9 p.m. ET. "Jobs" 33 vs. "Fat Cats" 0, Rich 3 vs Poor 1, Hope 2 vs Unicorns 0, Change 9 vs Tooth-Fairy 0, Mortgages 5 vs Apple 0, Main Street 1 vs Wall Street 3, China 4 vs Europe 1; DEBT CEILING 0
USS Stennis Supposedly Leaves Straits Of Hormuz, Replaced By USS Lincoln With USS Vinson Staying Put, But Not Just YetSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/19/2012 14:52 -0400
For those following the latest naval developments in the general Arabian Sea area and the Straits of Hormuz in particular, the latest news is that the duo of Aircraft carriers on location, as was reported last week, the USS Stennis and USS Vinson, has became a trio, with the arrival of the USS Lincoln, however, if only briefly. According to the US Navy's website, CVN 74 Stennis has left the 5th Fleet, and is now back in the 7th fleet, on its way home. Yet this is somewhat contradictory with the following picture posted on the facebook profile of one CVN 72 Abraham Lincoln (yes, faceook), which quite vividly shows CVN 74 - the same Stennis - and CVN 72, Lincoln, side by side, at least as of this morning. As such, absent further photographic evidence to the contrary, it may be the case that while the Stennis is planned to be on its way back, but in reality is still in the vicinity. Which begs the question: why three aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea, and for how long?
Pres. Barack Obama has launched new international diplomatic poker with “a trailing hand”. It is impossible to exaggerate the forces at play, economic as well as political, foreign and domestic, and their interplay.
JPM's head economist Michael Feroli just joined the bandwagon of other Wall Streeters in cutting Q4 GDP, trimming his prior forecast of 3.5% to 3.0%. However, as this is backward looking, it is largely irrelevant if confirming what we already knew: that the economy was certainly not growing as fast as the market implied it was (yes, the manipulated market is not the economy, no matter how much the Fed would like that to be the case). A bigger question is what should one expect from the future. Yes - an in vitro future, isolated from the daily rumor mill of what may or may not happen to the French rating tomorrow or the day after. It is here that there is nothing good to expect: 'we think growth will downshift from 3.0% in 4Q11 to 2.0% in 1Q12. Looking beyond the first quarter, we expect a growing private domestic sector will contend with a fading drag from the external sector and a persistent drag from the public sector." Yet where JPM falls short, is its optimistic view on the private sector. As David Rosenberg showed yesterday, the ratio of negative to positive preannouncements just hit a multi-year high, with the primary culprit being the strong dollar. Unfortunately for Feroli's bullish angle, the private sector will not do all that well at all if the EURUSD remains in the mid 1.20s or falls further. In fact, corporate earnings will likely be trounced, which in combination with everything else that JPM lists out, correctly, could make the second half of 2012 a perfect storm for economic growth, an event which Obama's pre-electoral planners are all too aware of. What is the only possible recourse? Why more QE of course. The only unknown is "when."
While economic data may be manipulated daily, and markets can be pumped in any of many different ways (such as the ongoing preparation by the ECB to accept any collateral for the upcoming LTRO which will bring the ECB's deposit facility usage to $1 trillion), there is one true indicator of economic prospects: immigration. Long a target for immigrants from all over the world, something has changed very drastically for Italy in recent days. Art Cashin explains why the one indicator that matters - Italy's desirability for immigrants from countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh, means everything has changed now.
Just when we thought we may go through one full day without some escalation out of the greater Iran region, here comes the WSJ to inform us that Iran has decided to shove the MAD ball right back into America's court with news that Iran has sentenced alleged CIA spy, 28 year old Amir Hekmati, to death. "Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, born in Arizona to Iranian parents and raised in Michigan, was accused of Moharebe--or being the enemy of God-- the highest crime in Islamic law that carries the death penalty in countries where Sharia law is practiced. The prosecutor's indictment against Hekmati, read in court, said he was guilty of waging a war against God, spying on the Islamic Republic of Iran for the CIA and working for an enemy government, according to Iranian media reports." Needless to say, "the case, the first recent death penalty for an American in Iran, will likely increase tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The State Department has called for Iran to release Hekmati and give the Swiss embassy--the protectorate of U.S. interest in Iran--access to him." It appears Iran has decided not to proceed with those particular instructions.