You’d think a guy like Rogers who aggressively lobs untrue accusations against a journalist trying to inform the American public about government criminality would have a squeaky clean background himself. After all, he was a former FBI agent. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. Incredibly, Dick Morris points out that until recently Mike Rogers’ wife was the president and the CEO of the company that was contracted by the State Department to provide intelligence-based and physical security services. While this sort of crony capitalism is seen as “business as usual” in the cesspool that is D.C., the really crazy part of this story is that as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rogers is charged with investigating the adequacy of security at the Benghazi compound prior to the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack. You can’t find a bigger conflict of interest than that...
The top 1% of 825,000 individual medical providers accounted for 14% of the $77 billion in medicare billing in 2012, according to new federal data reported by the WSJ. The data shows a very small number of doctors and medical providers account for a huge amount of the costs for treating the elderly and, as WSJ notes, suggest in some cases, may be enriching themselves in the process. As Bloomberg notes, one doctor, who treats degenerative eye disease in seniors, was paid $21 million (twice the 2nd highest paid doctor on the list) with some top earners making 100 times the average for their respective fields. One researcher summed it up, "There's all sorts of services that are low-value for patients, high-revenue to providers," and leaves us wondering, once again, how the government will manage as Obamacare's "success" washes ashore.
According to stunning new numbers just released by the federal government, that we detailed yesterday, nine of the top ten most commonly held jobs in the United States pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year. When you break that down, that means that most of these workers are making less than $3,000 a month before taxes. And once you consider how we are being taxed into oblivion, things become even more frightening. Can you pay a mortgage and support a family on just a couple grand a month? Of course not. In the old days, a single income would enable a family to live a very comfortable middle class lifestyle in most cases. But now those days are long gone.
This week the state legislature of Michigan became the 34th state to demand a “Constitutional Convention” in the United States. Pursuant to Article 5 of the US Constitution, if 2/3rds of the states call for such a convention, (meaning 34 states) it must take place. In such a convention, the entire Constitution is subject to review and can be altered and changed.
Has the United States ever experienced a time when a foreign nation has attempted to buy up so much of our land all at once? As Michael Snyder details below, it appears the Chinese are on a real estate buying spree all over America as they are now the dominat 'buyers' of investment green cards. This is occurring as private equity buyers and hedge funds exit the buy-to-rent business en masse and are, as Mike Krieger explains, are desperate to pitch American property to anyone willing to keep Housing Bubble 2.0 inflated... it seems Zillow is more than happy to enable that, "Zillow agreed to make its U.S. property listings available to Chinese consumers through a partnership with a Beijing-based website."
The Nikkei shot up last night because the Yen was weak and, best of all, Japan's $1.25Tn pension fund will be handing money to the Banksters to put into the stock market.
While the government's survey of consumer confidence saw new cycle highs - progressing the multiple expansion dream - the University of Michigan (private) survey has been falling for 3 months and is now at its lowest since November. Both current conditions (reality) and expectations (hope) missed expectations (overall index missed by the most in 5 months) but "hope" did rise modestly from 69.4 to 70.0. Must have been a 'winter stormy' week when UMich surveyed consumers...
- Crimea Resolution Backed by U.S. Barely Gets UN Majority (BBG)
- Russian Buildup Stokes Worries (WSJ)
- As reported here first: China’s Developers Face Shakeout as Easy Money Ends (BBG)
- U.S. House Poised to Clear Sanctions Called Putin Warning (BBG)
- Bitcoin Prices Plunge on Report PBOC Orders Accounts Shut (BBG)
- Search for lost Malaysian jet shifts significantly after new lead (Reuters)
- Russian fund taps China and Middle East (FT)
- Long battle looms between U.S. college, athletes seeking to unionize (Reuters)
- Official warns EU-US trade deal at risk over investor cases (FT)
- New iPhone likely out in September, Nikkei daily says (AFP)
Back in 2013 it was Syria where the world was gearing for imminent military action after a relentless series of false flag provocations by the United States (intent on securing a Qatar gas pipeline to Europe) which in the last minute was deftly diffused by Vladimir Putin. In 2014, it was the Ukraine's turn, and after a prolonged campaign orchestrated by Victoria Nuland and the US State Department (again) which succeeded in the now traditional violent coup (see Egypt and Libya), once again saw Putin victorious, after yesterday's annexation of the all important Crimean peninsula, achieved without the firing of one shot. So now that Putin has succeeded in trouncing the US twice in a row, it is time to poke some old, well-known geopolitical wounds, such as Iran. And who better to do it than Israel, where as Haaretz reports, "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have ordered the army to continue preparing for a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities at a cost of at least 10 billion shekels ($2.89 billion) this year, despite the talks between Iran and the West, according to recent statements by senior military officers."
Another Escalation: US Freezes Diplomatic Relations With Syria, Orders Non-US Personnel To Leave CountrySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/18/2014 10:28 -0500
BREAKING: US freezes diplomatic, consular relations with Syria; Orders non-US personnel to leave country.
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 18, 2014
Just last week Goldman noted that February was "the busiest month in the buyback desk's history," so one has to wonder just what management is thinking when the Wall Street Journal reports that corporate insiders are more bearish than they have been at least since 1990. According to this adjusted measure, there have been two prior occasions when the insider ratio got almost as bearish as it is today - early 2007 and early 2011 - and the first came a half a year before the beginning of the worst bear market since the 1930s. Simply put, it seems management teams are using their company's balance sheet as their own personal piggybank.
It has been a relatively quiet overnight session, aside from the already noted news surrounding China's halt on virtual credit card payments sending Chinese online commerce stocks sliding, where despite an ongoing decline in the USDJPY which has sent the Nikkei plunging by 3.3% (and which is starting to impact Abe whose approval rating dropped in March by a whopping 5.6 points to 48.1% according to a Jiji poll), US equity futures have managed to stay surprisingly strong following yesterday's market tumble. We can only assume this has to do with short covering of positions, because we fail to see how anyone can be so foolhardy to enter risk on ahead of a weekend where the worst case scenario can be an overture to World War III following a Crimean referendum which is assured to result in the formal annexation of the peninsula by Russia.
This week brings a slew of central bank meetings: At the forefront will be the BOJ meeting on Tuesday where no changes to monetary policy are expected. However, we will be watching the commentary closely for hints to further monetary easing in the coming months. Goldman, and others, still expect the BOJ to provide additional stimulus in the second quarter of this year as the impact of the consumption tax hike on the economy becomes visible - it is that expectation that sent the USDJPY above 100 in late 2013 and any disappointment by the BOJ will certainly have an adverse impact on the all important Yen carry pair. In terms of the key data to watch this week, the themes of recent weeks remain the same: US activity data, with retail sales and the U. Michigan Consumer sentiment survey the main releases, European inflation trends (French and German HCPI data on Thursday and Friday, respectively), and finally external balances in EM. Within that group, the latest data points for trade and current account balances in India, Turkey and South Africa will receive the most attention.
- Spot the inaccuracies: Stocks rise on Ukraine diplomacy, ECB easing speculation (Reuters)
- Bank of England Extends Record-Low Rates Into a Sixth Year (BBG)
- China's Chaori Solar poised for landmark bond default (Reuters), explained here previously
- EU leaders meet in Brussels to address Ukraine crisis (FT)
- Nine-month-old baby may have been cured of HIV, U.S. scientists say (Reuters)
- China Raises Defense Spending 12.2% for 2014 (WSJ)
- China Stock Index Rises as Developers Jump on Policy Speculation (BBG)
- VTB Cancels New York Forum as U.S. Relations Sour (BBG)
- IBM workers strike in China over terms of Lenovo takeover (FT)
- College Board Redesigns SAT Exam Making Essay Portion Optional (BBG)
- Yuan suffers biggest weekly loss as PBOC punishes speculators (Reuters)
- Euro Gains as Bonds Decline With Stocks on Inflation Data (BBG)
- Biggest Sovereign Fund Forced to Sell Stocks as Mandate Breached (BBG)
- Because we don't already have enough fried foods.. (Reuters)
- Putin: Russia to Consider Aid to Ukraine (AP)
- Wall Street Hates JPMorgan Fee for $1 Trillion Junk Loans (BBG)
- Yellen Sticks to Plan Amid Weather Doubts (WSJ)
- U.S. Retail Chains See First Profit Decline Since Recession (BBG)