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The NYT Exposes The Criminal Money-Laundering Underworld Supporting Manhattan's Luxury Housing Bubble

“We like the money,” said Raymond Baker, the president of Global Financial Integrity, a Washington nonprofit that tracks the illicit flow of money. “It’s that simple. We like the money that comes into our accounts, and we are not nearly as judgmental about it as we should be”... Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio program in 2013, shortly before leaving office: “If we could get every billionaire around the world to move here, it would be a godsend.”

Guest Post: How Vaccine Hysteria Could Spark A Totalitarian Nightmare

At the end of the day, the issue here is one of freedom, and freedom is the freedom to choose – even if we make a bad choice. The argument that I must vaccinate my children for the good of the community is not only scientifically questionable, it is an unethical precept. It is the argument all dictators and totalitarians have used. “Comrade, you must work tirelessly for the good of the collective. You must give up your money and property for the good of the collective, and now … you must allow us to inject your children with what we deem is good for the collective.” If American’s don’t stand up against this, then we are lost. Because we have lost ownership of ourselves. Our bodies are no longer solely ours – we and our children are able to be commandeered for the “greater good.”

A New Theory Of Energy And The Economy, Part 2 - The Long-Term GDP-Energy Tie

In Part 1, we described the world’s economy as one that is based on energy. The design of the system is such that the economy can only grow; shrinkage tends to cause collapse. If this view of the situation is correct, then we need an ever-rising amount of inexpensive energy to keep the system going. We have gone from trying to grow the world economy on oil, to trying to grow the world economy on coal. Both of these approaches have “hit walls”.  Now we have practically nowhere to go.

US Trade Deficit Soars In December As Strong Dollar Hurts Exports, Downward Q4 GDP Revisions Imminent

And so after that epic 5.0% Q3 GDP print, driven largely by Obamacare, the payback begins, and the annualized Q4 GDP print, which came in at nearly half the previous quarter run rate, or 2.6%, is about to tumble by another ~0.5% following the just released trade data for December which saw a 17.1% surge in the US trade deficit from $39 billion (revised to $39.8 billion) to a whopping $46.6 billion in December, the widest deficit since 2012, as US exports declined 0.8% to 4194.9Bn from $196.4 Bn, while imports rose notably from $236.2Bn to $241.4Bn in the month before. All of this brought to you courtesy of the soaring USD. This was also the biggest miss to expectations of $38.0 billion since July of 2008. If this does not force policymakers to reassess the impact of the soaring dollar on US trade, nothing will.

Frontrunning: February 4

  • Arab World Unites to Condemn ‘Barbaric’ Death of Jordanian Pilot (BBG)
  • Jordan hangs two Iraqi militants in response to pilot's death (Reuters)
  • As Oil Prices Climb, Some Harbor Doubts (WSJ)
  • Taiwan plane cartwheels into river after take-off, killing at least 19 (Reuters)
  • Seven dead as commuter train hits car near New York City (Reuters)
  • Apollo’s 600% Profit on Oil Company Leaves Rivals Behind (BBG)
  • Greece's rock-star finance minister Yanis Varoufakis defies ECB's drachma threats  (Telegraph)

Frontrunning: January 29

  • Who Doubts Yellen's Policies? Summers for One (BBG)
  • Samsung, Apple Back in Dead Heat for Global Smartphone Dominance (WSJ)
  • Islamic State purportedly sets new deadline for hostage swap (Reuters)
  • Turkey's $7.9 Billion Mystery Money That's Simply Vanished (BBG)
  • How a Two-Tier Economy Is Reshaping the U.S. Marketplace (WSJ)
  • U.S. Prisons Grapple With Aging Population (WSJ)
  • Hasenstab Sees $3 Billion Vanish in Ukraine as One Big Bet Sours (BBG) - maybe he should BTFD, pardon, "invest" in Belarus next?
  • Belarus May Seek Debt Restructuring in 2015, President Says (BBG)

Meet The Extreme Super Rich: A List Of The 80 People Who Own As Much As The World’s Poorest 3.6 Billion

"Eighty people hold the same amount of wealth as the world’s 3.6 billion poorest people, according to an analysis just released from Oxfam. The report from the global anti-poverty organization finds that since 2009, the wealth of those 80 richest has doubled in nominal terms — while the wealth of the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population has fallen." There you have it. The reason the wealth of the richest has doubled since 2009, is because “it’s not a recession, it’s a robbery.” Central bank and government policy has done this, it is no accident.

Worry-Warts Agenda For The FOMC

"Can Fed policy ever be local again?" asks Bloomberg's Richard Breslow ahead of this week's meeting, as there are plenty of things to focus on if you want to be worried about the world...

Frontrunning: January 26

  • Alexis Tsipras: the Syriza leader about to take charge in Greece (Guardian)
  • Tsipras to form anti-bailout Greek government after big victory (Reuters)
  • Tsipras Forges Anti-Austerity Coalition in EU Challenge (BBG)
  • East Coast braces, flights canceled as 'historic' blizzard bears down (Reuters)
  • Rebels press Ukraine offensive, Obama promises steps against Russian-backed 'aggression (Reuters)
  • Syriza Victory Brings Hope for Immigrants of EU Access (BBG)
  • For Saudis, Falling Demand for Oil Is the Biggest Concern (BBG)
  • Oil prices fall on market relief over Saudi policy (Reuters)

Smuggling Drugs Across The Mexican Border? There's A Drone For That

Worried about the honesty of your drug mule? Concerned that your smugglers will demand higher and higher minimum wage? There's a drone for that. Once again technology has enabled 'progress' as AP reports police in a Mexican border city said Wednesday that a drone overloaded with illicit methamphetamine crashed into a supermarket parking lot. As AVWeb notes, drones carrying illegal drugs and contraband have been among the creative ideas used by smugglers, and crashes do happen from loss of control or perhaps weight-and-balance problems. Brings a whole new meaning to 'Breaking Bad'.

Saxo Bank Warns "This Is The Endgame For Central Banks"

Major central banks claim to be independent, but they are totally under the control of politicians. Many developed countries have tried to anchor an independent central bank to offset pressure from politicians and that’s all well and good in principle until the economy spins out of control – at zero-bound growth and rates central banks and politicians becomes one in a survival mode where rules are broken and bent to fit an agenda of buying more time. What comes now is a new reality...

"Whiplash" & The Death Of The Last Industrialist

The fix for low oil prices is... low oil prices. Past some point high-priced producers will naturally stop producing, the excess inventory will get burned up, and the price will recover. Not only will it recover, but it will probably spike, because a country littered with the corpses of bankrupt oil companies is not one that is likely to jump right back into producing lots of oil while, on the other hand, beyond a few uses of fossil fuels that are discretionary, demand is quite inelastic. And an oil price spike will cause another round of demand destruction, because the consumers, devastated by the bankruptcies and the job losses from the collapse of the oil patch, will soon be bankrupted by the higher price. And that will cause the price of oil to collapse again. And so on until the last industrialist dies...

Everest Macro Hedge Fund Blows Up After Nearly $1 BIllion In Swiss Franc Losses

Everest Capital’s Global Fund had about $830 million in assets as of the end of December, according to a client report. The Miami-based firm, which specializes in emerging markets, still manages seven funds with about $2.2 billion in assets. The global fund, the firm’s oldest, was betting the Swiss franc would decline.  Other hedge funds that have suffered amid the Swiss turmoil, according to people familiar with the situation, are Discovery Capital Management LLC, a South Norwalk, Conn. firm that manages $14.7 billion, and Comac Capital LLP, which oversees $1.2 billion in London.