Ebola isn`t a new movie release, and CNN isn`t its viral marketing advertising agency.
The Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper claims the U.S. is trying to foment a “color revolution” in Hong Kong. Although China has strongly implied that foreigners were secretly controlling the Hong Kong protests in recent weeks, the commentary was the first time it so explicitly accused the U.S. of being behind the movement.
Sunni and Shia Muslims have lived peacefully together for centuries. In many countries it has become common for members of the two sects to intermarry and pray at the same mosques. They share faith in the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed's sayings and perform similar prayers, although they differ in rituals and interpretation of Islamic law. But... An ancient religious divide is helping fuel a resurgence of conflicts in the Middle East and Muslim countries. Islam's schism, simmering for fourteen centuries, doesn't explain all the political, economic, and geostrategic factors involved in these conflicts, but it has become one prism by which to understand the underlying tensions.
Qatar may be tiny, but it is having a major impact across the Arab world. By propping up violent jihadists in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond, while supporting the United States in its fight against them, this gas-rich speck of a country – the world’s wealthiest in per capita terms – has transformed itself from a regional gadfly into an international rogue elephant. Using its vast resources, and driven by unbridled ambition, Qatar has emerged as a hub for radical Islamist movements. In doing so, Qatar is destabilizing several countries and threatening the security of secular democracies far beyond the region. For the sake of regional and international security, this elephant must be tamed.
Two weeks ago, we revealed one part of the "Secret Deal" between the US and Saudi Arabia: namely what the US 'brought to the table' as part of its grand alliance strategy in the middle east. What was not clear is what was the other part: what did the Saudis bring to the table, or said otherwise, how exactly it was that Saudi Arabia would compensate the US for bombing the Assad infrastructure until the hated Syrian leader was toppled, creating a power vacuum in his wake that would allow Syria, Qatar, Jordan and/or Turkey to divide the spoils of war as they saw fit. The full answer comes courtesy of Anadolu Agency, which explains not only the big picture involving Saudi Arabia and its biggest asset, oil, but also the latest fracturing of OPEC at the behest of Saudi Arabia which however is merely using "the oil weapon" to target the old slash new Cold War foe #1: Vladimir Putin.
Physical gold is being accumulated and used in exchanges but very discretely as of now. The geopolitical and economic environment in the last few months was in my view the calm before the storm. Both the economic and political environments are uncertain and will surprise the complacent markets.
It was heinous. It was underhanded. It was beyond the bounds of international morality. It was an attack on the American way of life. It was what you might expect from unscrupulous Arabs. It was “the oil weapon” -- and back in 1973, it was directed at the United States. Skip ahead four decades and it’s smart, it’s effective, and it’s the American way. The Obama administration has appropriated it as a major tool of foreign policy, a new way to go to war with nations it considers hostile without relying on planes, missiles, and troops. It is, of course, that very same oil weapon.
This week has seen some market volatility (see VIX Chart) reminiscent of the functioning market from days of old. The markets are spooked, bad news is overtaking good news and bearish views are becoming vogue. We are seeing a titanic battle taking place between the various bull and bear camps and they are starting to unleash some serious firepower.
There is something seriously wrong if the Federal Reserve cannot raise the Fed Fund`s Rate a measly 100 basis points after 7 longs years of ZIRP. Seven years is an entire business and economic cycle!
Federal Reserve officials have become more concerned about weak growth overseas and the impact of a strengthening U.S. dollar on the domestic economy, warns WSJ Fed-whisperer Jon Hilsenrath, adding that, the stronger currency, by reducing the cost of imported goods and services, could hold U.S. inflation below the Fed’s 2% objective. Fed staff also reduced its projection for medium-run growth in part because of these concerns. The minutes showed more clearly than before that concerns about global growth and the disinflationary impact of a strong currency are giving officials additional pause about moving quickly on rates.
With the S&P down over 3% from September's FOMC statement, the market needed some 'good' news from the Fed minutes to save the 'wealth' that has been created...
- *FED OFFICIALS SAW GLOBAL SLOWDOWN AMONG RISKS TO U.S. OUTLOOK (growth)
- *FOMC SAID SOME DEVELOPMENTS COULD UNDERMINE FINANCIAL STABILITY (bubbles)
- *FED SAW RISING DOLLAR AS RISK TO EXPORTS, GROWTH, MINUTES SHOW (jawbone USD)
So The Fed fears bubbles, fears growth slowing down, and appears to be talking down the dollar. In other word, dovish minutes confirming the dovish statement was indeed dovish.
Global economic growth remains weak and vulnerable and the global financial system remains very fragile. The ebola virus has the potential to be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.
Stocks and commodities fell globally today due to concerns about the spread of Ebola and declining economic growth. Precious metals bounced from near multi month lows.
While geopolitics has largely dropped of the front news page, replaced by updates on the global Ebola epidemic (which until recently was considered nothing but fearmongering by those who prefer to avoid reality ews until it is far too late), things in the Middle East are getting worse, and while the US attack against ISIS has achieved absolutely nothing (in fact, the revelation of US strategies may have facilitated the incursion of ISIS into the town of Kobani, a mostly Kurdish city in north Syria), the latest geopolitical hotspot over the past few days has become NATO member Turkey (we provided a big picture summary in "Turkey, The Kurds And Iraq - The Prize & Peril Of Kirkuk"). It is here that violent clashes broke out across the southeast of the nation with several people reported dead and curfews imposed, as the region’s Kurdish people protested the advance of Islamic State just across the border with Syria.
Having accidentally stumbled upon the awkward truth - that many governments in the Middle East are either implicitly or explicitly funding terrorist organizations, such as ISIS, to fight Syria's al-Assad regime - Vice President Joe Biden has been doing the rounds the last few days apologizing for any inconvenience his Harvard speech last week may have caused. As Biden's spokeswoman explained, "the vice president apologized for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria." Today it was Saudi Arabia's turn (following Turkey and UAE) to hear Biden "clarify his recent remarks," and as Al Arabiya notes, "the two parties agreed that the issue was closed." Of course, one can hardly blame him for the gaffes, juggling who are friends, frenemies, and foes remains a tricky task for anyone.
Gold is valuable and extremely rare, and therefore the yellow metal is usually protected at all costs. However, there have been multiple occurrences in history where evildoers have breached security measures and bullion has fallen into the wrong hands.