When President Obama bragged earlier that "The United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world..." adding that "no other nation can do what we do," we should have guessed some more war-mongering was coming... and sure enough. As AP reports, it appears Syrian airstrikes are on their way, but there's a mind-blowing twist in US foreign policy: "In an effort to avoid unintentionally strengthening the Syrian government, the White House could seek to balance strikes against the Islamic State with attacks on Assad regime targets." In the words of the Guinness commercial, Brilliant.
The popular view concerning the Fed is that it is apolitical. Anyone who considers the timing of the Fed’s actions knows this is false. However, for the vast majority of Americans, including financial professionals, the Fed is thought to be an apolitical entity focusing exclusively on economic and financial matters.
President Obama would have proudly proclaimed Warren Buffett a true patriot in his bailing out of the banking system with expensive loans and his 'realization' that those earning more than $1 million should be tax-tax-taxed. However, the "Buffett Rule" appears to have one caveat... if you are making over a $1 billion, you're good to go with tax-avoidance strategies. In one of his career's most hypocritical moves Warren "tax-me-more" Buffett has decided that putting his money where his mouth is no longer makes sense.. and is funding $3billion of Burger King's "tax-inversion" takeover of Canada-based Tim Hortons. Somewhere on a golf course, a Presidential Putter is being snapped across a knee...
The 'Sunni Turn' Against The 'Shiite Crescent': How The Strategic Stupidity Of Washington (And Its Allies) Created ISISSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/25/2014 22:50 -0400
The Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) is being touted as the newest “threat” to the American homeland. We are told by everyone from the President on down that if we don’t attack them – i.e. go back into Iraq (and even venture into Syria) to root them out – they’ll soon show up on American shores. ISIS didn’t blast Sykes-Picot to pieces: we did, and now we must live with the consequences. Nemesis has taken her pound of flesh. The best course now is to learn the lesson every child has to absorb before he can attain adulthood in more than merely a physical sense: actions have consequences. Applied to the Middle East, this lesson can only have one meaning: stay out and keep out.
Over the past week a new geopolitical mystery emerged: an "unknown" party was launching airstrikes against Libya, which is already reeling in its latest political crisis. The strikes puzzled various media outlets, such as Reuters which over the weekend reported that "Unidentified war planes attacked positions of an armed faction in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Saturday." This follows a similar report when on Monday, the government said unknown fighter jets had bombed positions from armed factions in Tripoli, an attack claimed by a renegade general in Benghazi. Turns out the renegade general was lying, and merely trying to take credit for another party's intervention. That party, or rather, parties has been revealed as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which "have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli" And sure enough, "US diplomats were fuming about the airstrikes" as the US was never given advance notice of these attacks.
What's the opposite of 'limited' air-strikes? As The WSJ reports, The Pentagon is preparing to send surveillance aircraft, including drones, into Syrian airspace to gather intelligence on Islamist targets, laying the groundwork for a possible expansion of the limited U.S. military air campaign beyond Iraq, senior U.S. officials said. The 'Nobel-Peace-Prize-Winner-In-Chief' appears to have suddenly gone full hawk-tard - one wonders which little birdy whispered in his ear that, with the Fed pulling out, the whole ponzi is up unless the US undertakes a populist deficit-bursting war...
Climate change continues to drive energy policy, despite the fact that there is no way to reconcile eradicating energy poverty in much of the world with reducing carbon dioxide emissions. This is one of the many conundrums of the climate change debate - a debate that has been taken over by social media and propaganda, while scientists struggle to get back into the game and engage the public.
Outspoken Union Theological Seminary professor Cornel West goes where very few 'thinkers-of-color' have had the courage to go in this interview with Salon's Thomas Frank: "The thing is, [Obama] posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free... we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist... So you got low-quality black leadership. Al Sharpton is who? He’s a cheerleader for Obama... Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends... I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression."
From Arab Spring-related uprisings in Libya or Egypt, to a civil war in Syria and now violence in Iraq and the Ukraine, geopolitics are impacting oil. True, geopolitical risk measured by combat deaths does not always correlate well with market volatility. But wars and conflict are easy to spot on an oil price series. With combat deaths rising four fold in the last 10 years, oil markets should prepare for more turmoil. BofA 's Francisco Blanch asks "Can the US preserve geopolitical stability?" America still takes up 38% of global military spending, but appetite for foreign adventures has been low. As an example, a drop in US combat deaths in recent years has been mirrored by a rise elsewhere. Following a drop to multi-decade lows, implied vol in long dated oil options at 15% looks cheap. Oil after US hegemony may not be as steady.
Last night it was SecDef Chuck Hagel who warned ISIS was a bigger threat to America than 9/11 and primed the narrative for the next round of defense-spending (and this deficit-boosting, QE-enabling money printing). Today it is Senate Armed Services Committee member Jim Inhofe who told Fox that "we're in the most dangerous position we've ever been in as a nation." While that seems a little bit of stretch (oh and hasn't the Senator seen stocks?) he adds - rather ominously, "they're crazy out there and they're rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city and people just can't believe that's happening." But then again, when have we ever needed to 'believe' anything anyway (especially without YouTube clips to prove it).
- Ukraine accuses Russia of invasion after aid convoy crosses border (Reuters)
- Hunt for Foley’s Killer Spans Old Policing and Tech Tools (BBG)
- U.S. Probe Examines GM Lawyers (WSJ)
- Argentina accuses U.S. Judge Griesa of "imperialist" attitude (Reuters)
- Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm (Reuters)
- Geneva Banks Break 200-Year Silence to Unveil Earnings (BBG)
- Richest Jailed Putin Foe Says Ukraine Fears Sparked Prosecution (BBG)
- Disclosure of Failed Attempt to Rescue James Foley Is Criticized (WSJ)
- Execution of U.S. journalist reveals the changing business of war coverage (Reuters)
- FTW: Europe Stocks Rise as Data Signals Need for Stimulus (BBG)
- More de-escalation: Dozens die in Ukraine in street battles, Donetsk shelling (Reuters)
- Calm largely holds in Missouri after grand jury opens shooting investigation (Reuters)
- Attorney General Eric Holder Vows Thorough Probe of Ferguson Shooting (WSJ)
- World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Slows Emerging Market Investment (BBG)
- Market Chilly to Argentine Debt Proposal (WSJ)
- Israeli air strike kills three Hamas commanders in Gaza (Reuters)
- Retooled Hamas Bloodies Israel With Help From Hezbollah (BBG)
- Investors Pour Into Vanguard, Eschewing Stock Pickers (WSJ)
- Fed Debates Early Rate Increases (WSJ)
If there was one thing the Obama administration did not need as it is careening from one international crisis to another, was compounding comparisons to the Carter administration and its botched attempt to rescue US hostages in 1980 Iran also known as Operation Eagle Claw. Well, as of moments ago, that comparison is now in play following what the Pentagon just revealed was a botched attempt to recue a number of American hostages held by ISIS, "early this summer." The reason why the mission failed: "tho hostages were not there." Why? "We don’t know. And that’s the truth. When we got there, they weren’t there. We don’t know why that is." At least we tried to rescue some folks.
James Risen is not just a phenomenal reporter, he is also an extremely courageous and honorable American patriot. The Obama Administration is threatening the pulitzer prize winning journalist with prison unless he reveals the source behind one of his stories. The fact our own government would resort to threats of incarceration in order to instill fear in the press to prevent it from doing its job is quite telling and extremely dangerous. Mr. Risen understands this danger more than just about anyone else, which is why he has previously stated he is prepared to go to jail in order to defend the First Amendment from Obama, who he calls "the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation."