- Central Banks With Negative Rates Spur Question of How Low to Go (BBG)
- DHS to keep running: Congress edges toward domestic security funding patch (Reuters)
- Setbacks for Tsipras Stir Discord in Greek Ruling Party (BBG)
- Greece’s Challenge: Appeasing Its Creditors and Its Population (WSJ)
- Buffett, a cheerleader for America, takes his checkbook abroad (Reuters)
- Oil’s Big Swings Are the New Normal: Market has rarely been more volatile (WSJ)
- Ukraine Left Behind as Russian Stock Gains Are Unmatched (BBG)
- Brent rises to $61, set for first monthly gain since July (Reuters)
"An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life," according to President Obama and it appears his perspective on the heavy hand of government regulation inserting itself into the last bastion of freedom and dynamism in the US economy, is how best to achieve "openness." Having pressured FCC's Tom Wheeler, the vote just came down: U.S. FCC APPROVES NET NEUTRALITY INTERNET RULES IN 3-2 VOTE. While potentially good for a consumer's pocketbook, the handing over of "fair-use" decision to the government, as we previously noted, could be the first step on a slippery slope to increased censorship. Welcome to "internet of political things."
As soon as tomorrow, the one part of the US government which to many is a manifestation of all that is broken with the current US "big brother" state of pervasive, ubiquitous surveillance and broken immigration policies, the Department of Homeland Security which was created in response to September 11, and which houses the agencies with jurisdiction over immigration law, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may be shut down. Here is what happens next.
Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created. During testimony this week, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail. Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Janet Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people. Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim? If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed? What does she have to hide?
It was one year ago last weekend that a violent coup overthrew the legally elected government of Ukraine. More than 5,000 have been killed and many of those were civilians bombed in their cities by Kiev. What if John McCain had stayed home and worried about his constituents in Arizona instead of non-constituents 6,000 miles away? What if the other US and EU politicians had done the same? What if Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt had focused on actual diplomacy instead of regime change? If they had done so, there is a good chance many if not all of those who have been killed in the violence would still be alive today. Interventionism kills.
Geopolitically, China has tweaked its model, but the West, especially the US, has barely noticed it. Essentially, the Beijing leadership finally got fed up with trying to manage a possible reset of the China-US strategic relationship, and be treated as an equal. Exceptionalists don’t do equality. So Beijing came up with its own response to the Obama administration’s political/military “pivot to Asia” – originally announced, and that’s quite significant, at the Pentagon. This is not as much a Chinese pivot to Asia as a Chinese pivot to selected nations in the Global South; and based on a “new type of international relations centered on ‘win-win’ cooperation” – not the bully-or-bomb exceptionalist approach.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is seriously considering a run for the White House in 2016, said Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s program that collects bulk telephone records was “hugely important,” throwing his support behind the practice as Congress debates whether to reauthorize or limit it. At an event on foreign policy hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Mr. Bush, a Republican, said, “For the life of me, I don’t understand the debate” over the metadata program.
And so it begins... the intentional demonization of a growing segment of the U.S. population that rightly believes the government is run by a collective of thieving, corrupt, immoral sociopaths. Commingling dissent, violence and “right wing” ideology will be key in the ultimate division of government critics in these United States, and a successful attempt to scare people away from questioning a clearly degraded and parasitic status quo.
The totalitarian arm of the ever-growing government appears to know no limit. In today's "oh no they didn't" moment, the US Government's diet panel has dictated proposed one more oppression of American's freedom to choose:
*GOV'T PANEL PROPOSES SUGARY-FOOD TAX TO FUND NUTRITION PROGRAMS, CURB OBESITY
On the bright side, the government approves of "lean meat" as compatible with healthy eating. The bill, introduced by Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, would impose a tax of 1 cent per ounce on soft drinks - including sweetened teas, energy drinks and soda - and candies that are high in sugar and calories. So, expensive non-refined foods are good? And the poorist people - who can't afford to eat the way the government dictates - will pay all the taxes?
With historically low long-term interest rates, the opportunity cost of holding gold and silver are close to zero or even negative, in other words you would “lose” money if you buy bonds (the benchmark) instead of gold and silver. When people realize that their money is not “safe” with the banks they will start withdrawing cash from their accounts and buy physical gold and silver instead. Depending on circumstances this could possibly bring down the (fractional) banking system. Why keep money in an account that gives you a negative return? Swiss banks are already witnessing stronger than normal interest for physical gold.
- Greece to submit loan request to euro zone, Germany resists (Reuters)
- Ukrainian forces start to quit besieged town (Reuters)
- Bank of Japan maintains policy, no surprises (FT)
- China Considering Mergers Among Its Big State Oil Companies (WSJ)
- Soros Shifts to Europe, Asia as Investors Cut U.S. Equities (BBG)
- Putin tells Kiev to let troops surrender as Ukraine ceasefire unravels (Reuters)
- Venezuela Squanders Its Oil Wealth (BBG)
- Swiss prosecutor raids HSBC office, opens criminal inquiry (Reuters)
Operation Choke Point is an initiative of the DoJ that was announced in 2013 which investigates bank interactions with certain businesses believed to be at higher risk for fraud and money laundering. When first disclosed it was heavily criticised for bypassing due process with critics warning that "it's a thinly veiled ideological attack on industries the Obama administration doesn't like, such as gun sellers," and precious metals dealers. However, as Mike Maloney explains, it is far worse than that... "it violates the most fundamental principles of the rule of law and accountable, transparent government."
The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. The rise in overall violations of freedom of information was evident in all continents, but for America - the bastion of press freedom in the land of the free and "the most transparenet administration ever" - fell once again... to 49th!!
- 'Glimmer of hope' for Ukraine after deal at Minsk peace summit (Reuters)
- Ruble Rebounds, Russian Stocks Surge on Ukraine Cease-Fire Deal (BBG)
- Greek PM Tsipras in Brussels as clock ticks on EU bailout (Reuters)
- Emerging-Market Currencies Rout Not Over for Traders (BBG)
- Little noticed, new Saudi king shapes contours of power (Reuters)
- In Wake of Financial Crisis, Goldman Goes It Alone (WSJ)
- AmEx Is Losing Its Millionaires (BBG)
- Thousands to Lose Health Insurance Over Residency Questions (WSJ)