If over the weekend we got some terrible economic news out of China, then overnight it was turn for a major disappointment in capital flows, when Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in August crashed by 14%, far below the 0.8% increase expected, attracting just $7.2 billion in FDI, and the lowest in four years. This once again sparked fears of a Chinese hard landing and sent the Shanghai Composite tumbling 1.82%, the biggest drop in six months. In addition to China, there was the German ZEW Survey, which while beating expectations of a 5.0 print, dropped from 8.6 to 6.9 in August, the lowest since 2012. In fact, the gauge has decreased every month since December when it reached a seven-year high. And while there is not much other news today ahead of the blitz assault of data later in the week, including the Fed tomorrow, the TLTRO announcement on Thursday and the Scottish referendum results and the BABA IPO on Friday, we are stunned futures aren't as usual, soaring.
There are plenty of things to worry about these days. However, with enough intelligence, political will, common-sense and perseverance, most challenges we face as a species can be overcome (maybe providing some hope that we can tackle whatever we are facing right now.) So why worry? Well, what will happen if we start losing those qualities and values as a global society? Which is why we believe that the following graphs are the scariest in the world today...
In the past month, a group of radical Islamic extremists based in the Middle East beheaded at least 23 people and enforced a ban on Christianity by arresting a group of people for practicing the faith in a private home. No, we're not talking about ISIS. The real culprit is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the America’s closest global allies.
The rise of Islamic State has upended geopolitics in the Middle East and, as The Economist notes, drawn America's military back to the region. Though ISIS is popular among militants, the group has no allies on the political stage, making it even more isolated than the official al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. As The Economist's "relationship mosaic" above visualizes the rapports among countries, political groups and militant organizations in the Middle East.
We recently explained how ISIS remains so well funded but what was unclear was who exactly what purchasing their 'recently-provisioned' oil reserves? The assumption being some desperate third-world nation or some scheming offshore hedge-fund arbitrageur; however, as Sott.net reports, a senior European Union official has revealed that some EU member states have purchased oil from ISIL Takfiri militants despite their rhetoric against the group. The official declined to disclose any names but Turkey remains a front-runner (having already shunned President Obama) and potentially France (after their recent anti-Petrodollar comments).
- Snow is coming: OECD Cuts Economic Growth Forecasts (WSJ)
- World waits for white smoke from U.S. Fed (Reuters) - Understandable error: they meant "green"
- Scots Breakaway at 45% Odds as Economists Warn of Capital Flight (BBG)
- Ukraine President Poroshenko Faces Backlash Over EU Trade Deal Delay (WSJ)
- German Anti-Euro Party Advances in Merkel Homeland Voting (BBG)
- Clinton Hints at 2016 Run as Super-PAC Packs Iowa Steak Fry (BBG)
- Air France, Lufthansa Hit by Strikes in Fight for Future (BBG)
- U.S. sees Middle East help fighting IS, Britain cautious after beheading (Reuters)
- Ex-Billionaire Charged by Brazil With Financial Crimes (BBG)
There is another "broad coalition" in The Middle East. With fighter from Sudan and Sweden to Spain and Switzerland, the following map shows where all the foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq's 'new crusades' are from...
As the old saying goes - If you can't beat them, join them.
Following ISIS blitzkrieg in which it took over nearly half of Iraq and a third of Syria in the blink of an eye, at which point it created its own Islamic State Caliphate resulting in Obama's own personal war against the jihadists, some have wondered what is ISIS' next step: surely its leadership will not merely stagnatte as one after another US predator drone bomb away the capital Reqqa until ISIS figurehead leader al-Baghdadi is killed or gravely wounded. To be sure, the one thing ISIS, which stunned the world with the speed of its ascent, can not afford is to stand still. So what is next on the strategic timeline for the Islamic State? According to one source, Al Arabiya, which cites Egyptian experts, the answer is none other than the Suez Canal, and the country it is located in: Egypt.
For a mass of people so easily terrified by guys in caves funded and armed by our intelligence services and “allies” in the Persian Gulf, the American public talks with such armchair bravado when it comes to launching bombs from drones and sending other people’s children to die. Makes you wonder though, which one is it? Is the American public actually the tough guy soldier it pretends to be when cheering overseas military interventions, or is it really a scared, propagandized, coward hiding in one of our nation’s endless cubicle rows? Unfortunately, based on recent opinion polls demonstrating approval for military action against ISIS, it appears to be the latter. The former is merely a front put on by that terrified, economically insecure, silently suffering automaton.
Forget the noise... it's time to back up the truck.
Q. What are traders talking about at the present time here at the New York Stock Exchange?
Cashin: We are concerned about two questions. First, how will the Fed do in keeping money reasonably easy without causing inflation? Second, where do we stand with the current geopolitical challenges? For now, these challenges seem to be short term concerns. But should we begin to see a financial contagion and pressure building on banks in Europe, perhaps out of the Ukraine situation, things could theoretically turn into what I call a «Lehman moment». That is when markets come under pressure but seem to be under control, and then things change suddenly.
First it was the 'broad coalition' that appeared a little narrower than President Obama explained to the world last week. Today, 2 more crucial aspects of the 'strategy' appear to be faltering. Despite the promise of $500 million to train "moderate" Syrian terrorist/rebels to fight ISIS, GlobalPost reports Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time. Under the deal, "the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime." Not exactly what Obama and Kerry had in mind. But it is John Kerry's trip to Iraq that appears to have had blowback already as Reuters reports the newly installed US-friendly PM al-Adadi ordered his air force to halt strikes on civilian areas, "even in those towns controlled by ISIS," just a day after Kerry's visit (which left Turkey explaining how it would not support US airstrikes either). So far, so good?!
About a month ago, when Russia sent a humanitarian convoy to aid ethnic Russians in east Ukraine, the Western world, and of course media, screamed bloody murder, with everyone from NATO to the Kiev government declaring it, without a shadow of a doubt, an invasion, a Trojan Horse, and a convoy of arms deliveries for the rebels caught in the Ukraine civil war, not necessarily in that order. Nobody thought it could possibly be just that: a convoy of humanitarian aid delivering provisions to hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the middle of a war. Then finally, after weeks of delays, the convoy was allowed in and after unloading its cargo, promptly returned to Russia without a single incident.
While a misnomer, if President Obama is to be believed, The Islamic State, according to The Institute for the Study of War, poses a grave danger to the United States and its allies in the Middle East and around the world. As they exclaim, reports that it is not currently planning an attack against the American homeland are little comfort. Its location, the resources it controls, the skill and determination of its leaders and fighters, and its demonstrated lethality distinguish it from other al-Qaeda-like groups..."It must be defeated," they conclude... and here's how.