In the four months since we last wrote about the upcoming midterm election, the outlook has changed only incrementally. As Goldman notes, although there were a few surprising retirements and primary election results over the last few months, none of these seem to have significantly affected the overall prospects for control of the House or Senate. However, as the election draws near, the potential effects of a Republican Senate majority seem likely to become more of a focus for market participants.
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As President Obama tees off in Martha's Vineyard, The State Department has decided that its diplomats should not be allowed to have fun (for a good cause). As AP reports, US Diplomats have been barred from undertaking the #IceBucketChallenge ... there goes CNBC's ratings...
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.
While it is not clear what President Obama will discuss this morning in his daily dictation; we suspect, on the heels of yesterday's gruesome American journalist beheading video from ISIS, that he will explain why 'humanitarian' airstrikes in Iraq will continue until morale improves. Perhaps he will re-dip his toe back into the ongoing Ferguson riots - noting his right hand man Holder is on the case? Or finally, perhaps he will opine on the surge in US stocks recently as proof America is beating Putin back? As a reminder, the President is back in Martha's Vineyard...
In the past, the president has been quick to weigh in on issues regarding race. Waiting until all the facts of a case are confirmed may be a better approach.
Mainstream media business 'entertainment' appears to have been taken over by the #IceBucketChallenge, as they name-drop from CEO to CEO in the interests of ratings (as opposed to raising money for ALS). However, things took a much more serious turn today as not only did Alan Greenspan show us how he 'cools off' the economy but actor Vin Diesel issued the ultimate challenge to none other than Michelle Obama and Vladimir Putin...
Having been forced to face up to the tense realities of 'leading the free world', President Obama's early return to Washington from his vacation likely means something of note is coming. With Iraq now transitioning from a humanitarian crisis to helping a troubled nation, it seems the advisers 'boots' that are not on the ground around the Mosul Dam are very much on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri. The deployment of the National Guard in Ferguson was not run by the White House PR department and so it will be intriguing to see whether Obama backs it or questions it... Of course, as the signs show below, the people of Ferguson want to know when he will visit...
The Missouri Governor Jay Nixon gave "no heads up" to the White House before deploying The National Guard and has now made another abrupt decision as The National Guard closes in on Ferguson:
*NIXON'S CALL TO HALT CURFEW TONIGHT MADE IN E-MAILED STATEMENT
We presume when there are military tanks rolling through the streets of a town, there is no need for the actual implementation of a curfew... This once again rubs the administration's nose in it as AG Holder's comments from last week hang in the air: "get those damned tanks out of there."
Following a summit in Brussels, a senior NATO diplomat proudly proclaimed that 'allies' have pledged more spending and will beef up its presence in Eastern Europe. However, likely to the chagrin of President Obama (and the West's narrative), he let slip some uncomfortable truths:
- *NATO DIPLOMAT SAYS PUTIN HOLDS TACTIAL SHORT-TERM CARDS (hhmm, ok)
- *NATO DIPLOMAT SAYS LONG-TERM GEOPOLITICAL TRENDS FAVOR THE WEST (phew...)
- *NATO DIPLOMAT SAYS PUTIN WON'T BE AROUND FOREVER (threat or warning?)
So, all the west has to do is be patient? Wait out Putin? We suspect that 'strategy' may get accelerated at some point.
The humanitarian situation was cynically manipulated by the Obama administration -- and echoed by the US media -- to provide a reason for the president to attack Iraq again. This time it was about yet another regime change, breaking Kurdistan away from Iraq and protection of the rich oil reserves there, and acceptance of a new US military presence on the ground in the country. President Obama has started another war in Iraq and Congress is completely silent. No declaration, no authorization, not even a debate. After 24 years we are back where we started. Isn’t it about time to re-think this failed interventionist policy? Isn’t it time to stop trusting the government and its war propaganda? Isn’t it time to leave Iraq alone?
The current US air strikes in Iraq are unlikely to have a significant impact on defense spending or oil prices, Goldman Sachs writes, unless the scale of the conflict changes considerably. Evidence from past US conflicts that were similar in scale also suggests little impact on confidence and at most mixed evidence of a flight-to-safety effect in financial markets. The exchange of sanctions with Russia - a relatively minor US trading partner - is also likely to have only a modest impact on the US economy. Of course, Goldman caveats, both situations are highly unpredictable; as they expect little reaction to recent events from Fed officials, who have generally not discussed conflicts of this magnitude unless accompanied by other economic concerns, such as a large rise in oil prices.
Earlier we joked that "it is rumored, although unlikely, that a city devolving into a state of emergency and actual curfew, will be enough for the president to take a break from his golf game and make a teleprompted statement later today." Just a few short hours later, in a stunning development and in what may well be a first for the president, Obama announced he planned to take a break in the middle of his Martha's Vineyard vacation and return to Washington on Sunday night for "unspecified meetings with Vice President Joe Biden and other advisers."
President Obama has once again proved his irrelevance and uselessness by failing to say anything meaningful on the disturbing events of the past week. In fact, he only decided to address it personally and publicly yesterday after being heavily criticized for issuing a press release about the party he attended in Martha’s Vineyard as civilians in Missouri clashed with a paramilitary police force. Despite Obama’s complete apathy, there are some Congressmen forcefully speaking out against the trend from “both sides” of the increasingly meaningless Republican and Democrat divide. The most noteworthy thus far appears to be Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia’s 4th Congressional district. In fact, he has sent a Dear Colleague letter to fellow representatives of his intention to introduce the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act in September when Congress returns from recess.