New York Times
The US has determined that the Chinese cyber attack on the databases of the Office of Personnel Management "was so vast in scope and ambition that the usual practices for dealing with traditional espionage cases [does] not apply," The New York Times reports. In short: "this agression will not stand, man."
"We warn soldiers of (Division 30) against proceeding in the American project. We, and the Sunni people in Syria, will not allow their sacrifices to be offered on a golden platter to the American side."
The disconnect between economic underpinnings, market internals and "bullish" investor optimism leaves many investors/advisors "mentally conflicted." If they "sell" too soon, they might miss a further advance in the market. But if they wait too long, well, they have lived through that scenario previously. This week's reading list is a smattering of conflicting views about the markets and the economy.
After two years and a massive 167,000 signatures, FirstLook reports that The White House has officially denied a hugely popular whitehouse.gov petition calling for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be “immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon,” saying thanks for signing, but no, stating that "Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it." While acknowledging that "this is an issue that many Americans feel strongly about," Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s advisor on homeland security and terrorism, said in a statement, "we live in a dangerous world."
The U.S. E&P industry is really good at spending other people’s money to increase production. It doesn’t matter if there is a market for the oil and gas. As long as the capital keeps flowing, they will do what they do best. Don’t be distracted by the noisy chatter about savings through efficiency or re-fracking. Just look at the income statements and balance sheets from first quarter and it’s pretty clear that most companies are hemorrhaging cash at these prices. The U.S. rig count increased by 19 this week as oil prices dropped below $48 per barrel – the latest sign that the E&P industry is out of touch with reality.
This period of history resembles the 1850s in America in two big ways: 1) our society faces a crisis, and 2) the existing political parties are not up to the task of comprehending what society faces. In the 1850s it was the Whigs that dried up and blew away (virtually overnight), while the old Democratic party just entered a 75-year wilderness of irrelevancy. God help us if Trump-o-mania turns out to be the only alternative.
If the neoconservatives have their way again, US ground troops will reoccupy Iraq, the US military will take out Syria’s secular government (likely helping Al Qaeda and the Islamic State take over), and the US Congress will not only kill the Iran nuclear deal but follow that with a massive increase in military spending. In other words, more and more fires of Imperial “regime change” abroad even as the last embers of the American Republic die at home. Much of this “strategy” is personified by a single Washington power couple...
On Thursday, we previewed a critical court ruling involving Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s effort to cut pension expenses and plug a yawning budget gap. As expected, Emanuel’s plan was determined to be unconstitutional by Rita M. Novak of the Cook County Circuit Court, further imperling the junk-rated city's financial future and perpetuating a pension ponzi scheme.
The US Syrian policy forces Ankara to walk a fine line between ISIS, Assad’s regime, Kurds, the US and its own interest. We will not rule out that Erdo?an could declare a state of emergency and postpone new elections. Whatever the result of the power struggle in Ankara may be, Turkey’s military will not accept the YPG and PKK armed to the teeth by the US.
The pantsuit revolutionary is at it again. Once again demonstrating her populist chops by employing the services of lobbyists to bundle millions in campaign funds. It’s no wonder opinion polls on her have been plunging as of late.
Many investors still view gold as a safe-haven investment, but there remains much confusion regarding the extent to which the gold market is vulnerable to manipulation through short-term rigged market trades, and long-arm central bank interventions. First, much of the gold that is being sold as shares, in certificates, or for physical hoarding in dubious "vaults" just isn't there. Second, paper gold can be printed into infinity just like regular currency. Third, new electronic gold pricing — replacing, as of this past February, the traditional five-bank phone-call of the London Gold Fix in place since 1919 — has not necessarily proved a more trustworthy model. Fourth, there looms the specter of the central bank, particularly in the form of volume trading discounts that commodity exchanges offer them.Today, there is no “official” price for gold, nor any “gold-exchange standard” competing with a semi-underground free gold market. There is, however, a material legacy of “real versus pseudo” gold that remains a terrible menace. Buyer beware of the pivotal difference between the two.
Just in case you still harbored any doubt that absolutely zero lessons were learned from the cataclysmic financial collapse of 2008/09...
"My faith is that governments and central banks will continue to run up debt and debase currencies until a crisis brings the whole experiment to a disastrous conclusion. There is simply no historical precedent to reach any other conclusion. I also have faith that human beings will always prefer a piece of gold to a stack of paper. Separate a paper currency from its perceived value and you just have a stack of paper and ink. However, if they would just print it on softer and absorbent stock and put it on rolls, it might have some intrinsic value if we run out of toilet paper."
With the mainstream media onslaught against precious metals climaxing this weekend as WSJ's Jason Zweig proclaimed gold "like a pet rock," describing owning gold as "an act of faith," we thought it worthwhile looking back at the last time 'everyone' was slamming gold and entirely enthused by the omnipotence of central bankers... May 4th, 1999 - "Who Needs Gold When We Have Greenspan?"
Unfortunately, Trump’s antics will make it only more difficult to hold a sane debate about taking that time-out from immigration. So, one alternative is an insane debate about it, one based on sheer grievance and gall rather than the responsibilities of governance. We've feared for many years that we are all set up to welcome a red-white-and-blue, corn-pone Nazi political savior type. We don’t think Donald Trump is it. But he will be a stalking horse for a far more skillful demagogue when the time comes. There’s a fair chance that the wheels will come off the banking and monetary system well before the 2016 election. Who knows who or what will come out of the woodwork before then.