Congratulations America: after severing ties with Russia, crushing cordial relations with China (leading to this stunning announcement by China's president), alienating France (which is now openly calling for an end to the petrodollar), the Obama administration - following not one, not two, but three spying scandals in just the past year - has managed to sour relations with Germany to a point where one wonders just who is a remaining US ally in Europe these days. According to Bloomberg, the German chancellor’s office has issued instructions to national intelligence services to limit cooperation with U.S. following alleged U.S. spying case, Bild reports without saying where it got information.
- Carl Icahn says 'time to be cautious' on U.S. stocks (Reuters)
- Banco Espirito Santo Lifts Lid on Exposure to Group (BBG)
- Slowing Customer Traffic Worries U.S. Retailers (WSJ)
- Insurgents enter military base northeast of Baghdad (Reuters)
- Obama tells Israel U.S. ready to help end hostilities (Reuters)
- Japan economics minister warns of premature QE exit, sees room for more easing (Reuters)
- Greek Banks See Quadrupling of Housing Loans by Next Year (BBG) ... to fund buybacks like in the US?
- Piggy Banks Being Raided Signal Swedish Housing Dilemma (BBG)
- London Seeks New Spenders as Russians Skip $719 Champagne (BBG)
Just when we thought US foreign policy couldn't sink to new lows, it does just that. Recall yesterday's less than veiled threat by China president Xi Jinping Xi called for greater military communication with the U.S., adding that "A conflict between China and United States will definitely be a disaster for the two countries and the world. As long as we uphold mutual respect, maintain strategic patience and remain unperturbed by individual incidents and comments, we’ll be able to keep relations on a firm footing despite ups and downs that may come our way.” So what does the US do? Nothing short of taking a machete and poking the Dragon in the mouth.
It’s vogue, trendy and appropriate to look to dystopian literature as a harbinger of what we’re experiencing at the hands of the government. Certainly, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm have much to say about government tyranny, corruption, and control, as does Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report. Yet there are also older, simpler, more timeless stories - folk tales and fairy tales - that speak just as powerfully to the follies and foibles in our nature as citizens and rulers alike that give rise to tyrants and dictatorships. One such tale, Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, is a perfect paradigm of life today in the fiefdom that is the American police state, only instead of an imperial president spending money wantonly on lavish vacations, entertainment, and questionable government programs aimed at amassing greater power, Andersen presents us with a vain and thoughtless emperor, concerned only with satisfying his own needs at the expense of his people, even when it means taxing them unmercifully, bankrupting his kingdom, and harshly punishing his people for daring to challenge his edicts.
Having explained how well the economy is going - best in the world, apparently - President Obama is moving on to the immigration scandal. In an unexpected address from his fund-raising trip to Texas (Dallas actually - 100s of miles from the border), and on the heels of his 'executive action' demands on immigration reform, Obama will explain how it's none of his fault and unless 'the other side' give him carte blanche, it's a humanitarian crisis... think of the children (and the taxpayer funding)...
At almost double the $2 billion that many had expected, The Washington Post reports that The White House will request $3.8 billion from Congress in emergency funding to deal with an influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America. Funds would be allocated to send more immigration judges to the southern border, build additional detention facilities and add border patrol agents, to help stem the recent surge of women and children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
It appears that having pushed France forcefully into the Russia-China Eurasian, and anti-US camp, the US will now do the same with Germany. Because by infuriating the German population with first refusing to return their gold contained (the legend goes) at the New York Fed, and then with scandal after spying scandal, now the time has come to "punish" Germany's largest banks for the same kind of money laundering that BNP was engaged in. As the NYT and Reuters report, the time has come to shift away from the BNP scandal and focus on what will soon be the Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank fallout. According to the NYT, the money laundering crackdown is "bound for another European financial center: Germany. As NYT adds, correctly, "The Commerzbank investigation features an added twist: The bank is 17 percent owned by the German government. It is unclear whether — as in the BNP case, which led French authorities to intervene on the bank’s behalf — the settlement talks could inflame diplomatic tensions between Washington and Berlin."
- Bond Anxiety in $1.6 Trillion Repo Market as Failures Soar (BBG), as reported first by Zero Hedge
- As Food Prices Rise, Fed Keeps a Watchful Eye (WSJ)
- Yellen’s Economy Echoes Arthur Burns More Than Greenspan (BBG)
- Draghi’s $1.4 Trillion Shot: Silver Bullet or Misfire? (BBG)
- Israel's Netanyahu phones father of murdered Palestinian teen (Reuters)
- Ukraine says forces will press forward after taking rebel stronghold (Reuters)
- Goldman Sachs Brings Forward Rate Forecast as Treasuries Drop (BBG)... you mean rise?
- Super typhoon takes aim at Japan (Reuters)
- Kidnapped Nigerian girls 'escape from Boko Haram abductors' (Independent)
- Merkel says U.S. spying allegations are serious (Reuters)
Risk assets have started the week off on a slightly softer footing but overall volumes are fairly low given the quiet Friday session last week and with the lack of any major weekend headlines. Equity bourses are down between 25-50bp on the day paced by the Nikkei (-0.4%). In China, a number of railway construction stocks are up 3-4% after reports that China Railway Corp will buy around 300 sets of high speed trains and may potentially launch 14 news railway construction projects soon as part of national investment plans.
According to WaPo, the files on intercepted Americans "have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded... résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops."
The biggest congressional leakage scandal in the past year is the most recent one to cross the rabit hole of all-out absurdity: According to Reuters, the Ways and Means panel said on Friday it should not have to comply with a federal regulator's demand for documents sought for an insider-trading probe involving the staff director of a subcommittee and a lobbyist. The House Ways and Means Committee argued in a court filing that U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in New York should deny the Securities and Exchange Commission's attempt to subpoena documents from the committee and its healthcare subcommittee staff director Brian Sutter.
In the mid-sixties at the height of the “social revolution” the line between democratic benevolence and outright communism became rather blurry. The Democratic Party, which controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress, was used as the springboard by social engineers to introduce a new era of welfare initiatives enacted in the name of “defending the poor”, also known as the “Great Society Programs”. These initiatives, however, were driven by far more subversive and extreme motivations, and have been expanded on by every presidency since, Republican and Democrat alike.At Columbia University, sociologist professors Richard Cloward and Francis Fox Piven introduced a political strategy in 1966 that they believed would eventually lead to the total transmutation of America into a full-fledged centralized welfare state (in other words, a collectivist enclave). The spearpoint of the Cloward-Piven strategy involved nothing less than economic sabotage against the U.S..
On July 4th, the United States will celebrate Independence Day once again. But who in the world are we trying to kid? Our founders intended to create a society where freedom and liberty would be maximized, but that is not what America looks like today. Instead, we live in a country that literally has millions of laws, rules and regulations. We have a government that is obsessed with spying on the entire planet and that tries to watch, monitor, track and record as much information about all of us as it possibly can. A “Big Brother” surveillance grid is being constructed all around us, and our militarized police are becoming more brutal with each passing day. Sadly, most Americans don’t seem too alarmed by any of this. In fact, a new Gallup survey has found that 79 percent of Americans are “satisfied” with the level of freedom in this nation. That is a very alarming statistic. If most people believe that everything is “just fine”, then our leaders are going to feel free to keep doing the same things that they have been doing.
The battle for favoritism among the 'apparent' leaders in Iraq continues. Russia just delivered the second batch of Sukhoi fighter jets (which will be flown by Iraqi pilots and "are ready to provide air support to the armed forces"), and the US unloaded 4,000 additional Hellfire missiles to support Iraq's fight against the Islamist insurgents. While this morning the intelligentsia of mainstream media proclaimed "the situation in Iraq is calming down" predicated on the fact that oil prices were lower and stocks at record highs, we suspect the additional war material to Iraq will do nothing but increase the determination of the "Islamic State" to increase its Caliphate.
Long before 1984 gave us the adjective “Orwellian” to describe the political corruption of language and thought, Thucydides observed how factional struggles for power make words their first victims, "Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them." Orwell later explained the reason for such degradation of language, "Political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible." The bottom-line is that tyrannical power and its abuses comprise the "indefensible" that must be verbally disguised; which seems to have never been more appropriate than now in the stream of 'disguised' words we are fed every day...