As we asked (rhetorically, of course) over 3 months ago, why has the little nation of Qatar spent 3 billion dollars to support the rebels in Syria? Could it be because Qatar is the largest exporter of liquid natural gas in the world and Assad won't let them build a natural gas pipeline through Syria? Of course. Qatar wants to install a puppet regime in Syria that will allow them to build a pipeline which will enable them to sell lots and lots of natural gas to Europe. If the U.S. is successful in getting rid of the Assad regime, it will be good for either the Saudis or Qatar (and possibly for both), and it will be really bad for Russia. This is a strategic geopolitical conflict about natural resources, religion and money, and it really has nothing to do with chemical weapons at all...
The UK may be out, but Saudi Arabia isn't taking any chances. Moments ago, Reuters reported that the regime which as we reported is behind the entire conflict in Syria (hint: nat gas) has raised its level of military alertness in anticipation of a possible Western strike in Syria, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday. Saudi Arabia's defense readiness, their version of DefCon, has been raised to "two" from "five", a Saudi military source who declined to be named told Reuters. "One" is the highest level of alert. "It is a must, no one knows what will happen," he said. And so all those who thought there would be no war and sold off gold and crude, are suddenly caught short. More curious is why Saudi is leaking this information to the media: another provocation, and an attempt to accelerate a conflict which is rapidly fizzling? Remember: for Saudi Arabia "no war" is the worst possible outcome. If so, expect more mysterious "chemical attacks" in the coming hours and days to cement the Western resolve to blow up Assad.
The rise of Tomahawk force began in 1983 during the Reagan buildup, but the demise of the Evil Empire did not slow down its development one bit. By the end of the century the United States had about 150 surface ships and attack submarines that could launch these deadly cruise missiles and an inventory of nearly 5,000 missiles. Tomahawks have a range of seven hundred miles. This means that from their offshore platforms they can reach three-fourths of the world’s population. And during the last two decades they have been used in just this “stand-off” manner against targets in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya, and others—teaching presidents that they could meddle freely without getting bloodied.
Punishing a moral obscenity flaccidly, with token military action, would constitute a diplomatic mistake of the first order. That's Negotiations Theory 101. Once you commit yourself publicly to some action, you have to keep that commitment or risk becoming a laughing-stock. Failing to follow through disheartens your constituents and allies. And what adversary, present or future, will take you seriously the next time you want to coerce or deter? That's a reputation no political leadership should want. Savvy diplomats and elected leaders are very sparing with absolute rhetoric. Not just the enemy but allies, friends, and bystanders around the world - not to mention ordinary citizens - measure their deeds by their words. No one wants to be known as the leader who fought for justice halfheartedly. Take it from Truman and Bush.
Since the Vietnam War, the United States has engaged in several military interventions. As the West looks ready to act against Syria, accused of using chemical weapons against its own citizens, WaPo presents 10 instances when America has intervened, sometimes without authorization from the United Nations.
The increasing likelihood of some form of limited US led military action in Syria is compounding concerns about the stability of the world’s key oil producing region and Barclays warns that it will likely exert upward pressure on prices until the nature of the possible military intervention becomes apparent. But the bigger risk for the oil market is the potential for the Syrian conflict to spread to neighboring producing countries and imperil regional output, as the Syrian conflict is fueling broader sectarian tensions across the entire Middle East and has become something of a proxy war. The problem for global oil prices is that all of this Middle East volatility is taking place against the backdrop of a recent rise in unplanned outages in the oil market outside Syria. In sum, Barclays is concerned that with geopolitical tension and physical outages on the rise, crude oil markets are at an inflection point.
"Military Intervention In Syria", US Training "Rebels" Since 2011 And The Complete Grand Plan - The March 2012 LeakSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/25/2013 13:47 -0400
INSIGHT - military intervention in Syria, post withdrawal status of forces
Released on 2012-03-06 07:00 GMT
The latest subjunctive paraphrase, just released by the US State Department: "Please don't panic... well, actually panic just a little bit, but thanks to the NSA's pervasive snooping activity, in retrospect there will have been no need to panic, as any terror threats will have been promptly eliminated (except for those that sneak through the NSA's dragnet like the Boston bombing of course). So all is well... but not really, which is why we are extending embassy closures for a little more, due to highly specific unspecified threats which we can't reveal. Just know the threats are there. But thanks to the NSA, there is nothing to worry about. Unless there is."
With US leaks about Israeli air strike on Syria, John Kerry stirring the civil war pot in Egypt, and the closure of US embassies across the Muslim world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, UAE, Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan, Israel (Tel Aviv) and Jordan), it appears something is afoot. To add to the intrigue, the US State Department just issued a worldwide travel alert for US citizens.
*STATE DEPARTMENT WORLDWIDE TRAVEL ALERT EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2013
*STATE DEPT ISSUES WORLDWIDE TRAVEL ALERT FOR U.S. CITIZENS
An Al-Qaeda threat has been posited but with no follow-up but we can't help but fear what we wondered about previously - the need for deficits to re-awaken (via some external event that no-one can 'un-patriotically' demur) providing more room for Bernanke to avoid his need for Taper.
In an effort to soften the blow to our American readers, here is an analogy: You know when you move out of your parents’ house and live on your own, how you start hanging out with your friends’ families and you realize that actually, your family was a little screwed up? Stuff you always assumed was normal your entire childhood, it turns out was pretty weird and may have actually screwed you up a little bit. The point is we don’t really get perspective on what’s close to us until we spend time away from it. Just like you didn’t realize the weird quirks and nuances of your family until you left and spent time with others, the same is true for country and culture. You often don’t see what’s messed up about your country and culture until you step outside of it. And to our foreign readers, get your necks ready, because this is going to be a nod-a-thon.
- Pretty much as expected from George W. Bush: Edward Snowden ‘damaged’ security (Politico)
- Gotta love the Keynesian-Monetarist religion: True 'Bullievers' Are Still Sweet on Japan (WSJ)
- Canadian Takes Reins at Bank of England (WSJ)
- Egypt streets quiet, political standoff goes on (Reuters)
- Private Banks Leave Switzerland as End of Secrecy Hurts (BBG)
- How Next Debt-Ceiling Fight Could Play Out (WSJ)
- Easy Money Is Still Central (WSJ)
- Lew Says China Needs Market Policies and Stop Spying (BBG) - China replies with the same
- Ireland Preparing Plan to Tap Euro-Area Rescue Fund, Noonan Says (BBG)
- Poll shows strong shift to Australian PM Rudd, new ministry named (Reuters)
If stock markets really do their best to discount earnings six months ahead of time, then it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. ConvergEx's Nick Colas' monthly review of analysts’ revenue expectation for the Dow 30 companies finds that hopes for growth in the second half of 2013 continues to diminish. The upcoming Q2 2013 results won’t be much to write home about either, with average top line growth versus last year of just 1.1% and (0.7% ex-financials), the lowest comps analysts have put in their models since they started posting expectations last year. Back half expected sales growth is down to an average of 3.0 – 3.2%, where these estimates were over 5% just three months ago. If you are hoping for 3-4% revenue growth – the kind that allows profit margins to expand – you’ll have to wait until 2014, at least according to Wall Street analysts. The bottom line is that this data provides a less-discussed reason for all the recent stock market volatility.
Previously, when looking at the real underlying national interests responsible for the deteriorating situation in Syria, which eventually may and/or will devolve into all out war with hundreds of thousands killed, we made it very clear that it was always and only about the gas, or gas pipelines to be exact, and specifically those involving the tiny but uber-wealthy state of Qatar. Needless to say, the official spin on events has no mention of this ulterior motive, and the popular, propaganda machine, especially from those powers supporting the Syrian "rebels" which include Israel, the US and the Arabian states tries to generate public and democratic support by portraying Assad as a brutal, chemical weapons-using dictator, in line with the tried and true script used once already in Iraq.On the other hand, there is Russia (and to a lesser extent China: for China's strategic interests in mid-east pipelines, read here), which has been portrayed as the main supporter of the "evil" Assad regime, and thus eager to preserve the status quo without a military intervention. Such attempts may be for naught especially with the earlier noted arrival of US marines in Israel, and the imminent arrival of the Russian Pacific fleet in Cyprus (which is a stone throw away from Syria) which may catalyze a military outcome sooner than we had expected. However, one question that has so far remained unanswered, and a very sensitive one now that the US is on the verge of voting to arm the Syrian rebels, is who was arming said group of Al-Qaeda supported militants up until now. Now, finally, courtesy of the FT we have the (less than surprising) answer, which goes back to our original thesis, and proves that, as so often happens in the middle east, it is once again all about the natural resources.
- Controversies give Obama new governing headaches (Reuters)
- About that Capex... BHP to Rein In Investment, Chief Says (WSJ), considers returning cash to shareholders (FT)
- Bloomberg users’ messages leaked online (FT)
- Japanese mayor sparks China outrage with sex-slave remarks (Reuters)
- Economists Cut China Forecasts (WSJ)
- U.S. oil boom leaves OPEC sidelined from demand growth (Reuters)
- U.S. banks push back on change in loan loss accounting (Reuters)
- Fed’s Plosser Says Slowing Inflation No Concern for Policy (BBG)
- Watchdog probes 1m US swap contracts (FT)
- Used Gold Supply Heads for ’08 Low as Sellers Balk (BBG)
- Ex-BlackRock Manager Said to Be Arrested in U.K. Probe (BBG)
"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
– Benjamin Franklin
In most cases, Mr. Franklin's statement would be correct. However, as you will see below, there are some countries in the world where you can be certain you won't pay taxes. With the year 2013 marking the 100th anniversary of the income tax and the Federal Reserve in the US (two of the most powerful tools the government uses to extract wealth), we thought it would be useful to look at when Tax Freedom Day occurs across the world to gain some perspective. Tax Freedom Day (TFD) is the day of the year that the average person has in theory earned enough money to pay his or her annual tax bill.