Prepare to be taxed.
For those wondering what comes to mind for the average Chinese web surfer with regard to nations in Europe, we present the following map from Foreign Policy who “plotted the most common Chinese-language Baidu query for each European nation.” Highlights include "likes to fight" for Russia, "why doesn't it annex Portugal" for Spain, and "beautiful women" for Ukraine.
In 2015, the iron fist of power clamped down on humanity, from warfare to terrorism to surveillance, police brutality, and corporate hegemony. The environment was repeatedly decimated, the health of citizens was constantly put at risk, and the justice system and media alike were perverted to serve the interests of the powers that be. However, while 2015 was discouraging for more reasons than most of us can count, many of the year’s most underreported stories evidence not only a widespread pattern that explicitly reveals the nature of power, but pushback from human beings worldwide on a path toward a better world.
The Muslim population of Britain surpassed 3.5 million in 2015 to become around 5.5% of the overall population of 64 million. In real terms, Britain has the third-largest Muslim population in the European Union, after France, then Germany. Islam and Islam-related issues were omnipresent in Britain during 2015, and can be categorized into five broad themes: 1) Islamic extremism and the security implications of British jihadists in Syria and Iraq; 2) the continuing spread of Islamic Sharia law in Britain; 3) the sexual exploitation of British children by Muslim gangs; 4) Muslim integration into British society; and 5) the failures of British multiculturalism.
It has come down to this: a year in which the US stock market (led by a handful of shares even as the vast majority of stocks has dropped) has gone nowhere, but took the longest and most volatile path to get there, is about to close either red or green for 2015 based on what happens in today's low-volume session following yesterday's unexpected last half hour of trading "air pocket" which brought the S&P back to unchanged for the year.
America is being destroyed by problems that are unaddressed. Unbridled greed, short-term in nature, will continue to drive America into the ground.
At this point in time, nuclear war can only be avoided in two ways. One way is for Russia and China to surrender and accept Washington’s hegemony. The other way is for an independent leader in Germany, the UK, or France to rise to office and withdraw from NATO. That would begin a stampede to leave NATO, which is Washington’s prime tool for causing conflict with Russia and, thereby, is the most dangerous force on earth to every European country and to the entire world. If NATO continues to exist, NATO together with the neoconservative ideology of American hegemony will make nuclear war inevitable.
The U.S. dollar is currently accepted as the world’s reserve currency, but it hasn't always been this way...
The movement toward deeper European integration appears to have halted, and gone into reverse, as the EU seems to be unraveling along ideological, national, tribal and historic lines. If these trends continue, and they seem to have accelerated in 2015, the idea of a United States of Europe dies, and with it the EU. And this raises a question about the most successful economic and political union in history - the USA.
According to a new poll, Americans today see their country as losing the battle against terror despite having the most powerful military in the world. Apparently only 2 in 10 Americans think the U.S. is winning the war on terror, and see the ISIS Islamic State as holding the upper hand. Who says the terrorists aren’t winning against our freedoms?
My overriding theme and the central drama for the coming year is that unexpected events can take on greater importance as the Federal Reserve ends its near-decade-long Zero Interest Rate Policy. Consensus premises and forecasts will likely fall flat, in a rather spectacular manner. The low-conviction and directionless market that we saw in 2015 could become a no-conviction and very-much-directed market (i.e. one that's directed lower) in 2016. There will be no peace on earth in 2016, and our markets could lose a cushion of protection as valuations contract. (Just as "malinvestment" represented a key theme this year, we expect a compression of price-to-earnings ratios to serve as a big market driver in 2016.) In other words, we don't think 2016 will be fun.
It appears The Establishment has decided to bring in the big guns to dislodge The GOP's nightmare scenario as Donald Trump goes from strength to strength in the polls. Writing in an op-ed for The Guardian, billionaire puppet-master George Soros urges Americans "to resist the siren song of the likes of Donald Trump," adding that "the terrorists and demagogues want us to be scared. We mustn’t give in."
If ever there was a clearer indication of America's "need for war" it was the latest Durable Goods orders data, which confirmed, absent defense spending, the US economy is in a tail-spin. However, as NYTimes reports, foreign arms sales by the United States jumped by almost $10 billion in 2014, about 35 percent, even as the global weapons market remained flat and competition among suppliers increased, thanks to multibillion-dollar agreements with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
Market-based Credit is unstable. This remains the fundamental issue – the harsh reality – that no one dares confront. Long-term stability in a Capitalistic system requires sound money and Credit (hopelessly archaic, we admit). Over the years, we've tried to differentiate traditional finance from unfettered “New Age” finance. The former, bank lending-dominated Credit, was generally contained by various mechanisms (including the gold standard, effective currency regimes, bank capital and reserve requirements, etc.). This is in stark contrast to the current-day securities market-based global financial “system” uniquely operating without restraints on either the quantity or quality of Credit created. There’s no precedence for such a globalized monetary fiasco, though there are a number of historical episodes that provide valuable insight.
It’s all here: unilateral Exceptionalistan in action against anyone who dares to defy imperial diktats. From Ukraine to Syria, and all across MENA (Middle East and North Africa), the proxy war between Washington and Moscow, with higher and higher stakes, won’t abate. Imperial despair over the irreversible Chinese ascent also won’t abate. As the New Great Game picks up speed, and Russia supplies Eurasian powers Iran, China and India with missile defense systems beyond anything the West has, get used to the new normal; Cold War 2.0 between Washington and Beijing-Moscow.