Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced that he would take command of all of China’s armed forces, including the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Xi is already chairman of the Central Military Commission that oversees the army. He is now taking a more direct role as head of the new Joint Operations Command Center, which puts him in operational command of the PLA in times of war. The new title in all likelihood means little in terms of actual command, but it has tremendous political significance. Officially, the Chinese are reforming their military, which is logical (read why here). The roots of this change, however, lie in China’s economic crisis and the need to preserve the regime.
While the Arab countries floated themselves on oceans of petro-dollars forty years ago, they have little need for them now. So we must now turn our attention to China, which is well positioned to act as white knight to Saudi Arabia. China’s SAFE sovereign wealth fund could easily swallow the Aramco stake, and there are good strategic reasons why it should. A quick deal would help stabilise a desperate financial and political situation on the edges of China’s rapidly growing Asian interests, and keep Saudi Arabia onside as an energy supplier. China has dollars to dispose, and a mutual arrangement would herald a new era of tangible cooperation. The US can only stand and stare as China teases Saudi Arabia away from America’s sphere of influence.
In Japan, the European Union and Switzerland, where negative nominal interest rates have already been adopted, it was observed that demand for safes and cash increased. At the same time, we learn that negative rates have boosted demand for gold in Japan (sales of gold to Japanese consumers rose to 32.8 metric tonnes in 2015 from 17.9 tonnes a year earlier). According to Takahiro Ito, chief manager at Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo K.K.’s store in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district, “Many customers are wagering that it’s better to turn their savings to gold as a safe asset rather than deposit money at banks that offer low interest rates."
Over the years, Zero Hedge has proven to be a magnet for media attention. Today, it is Bloomberg's turn.
..because our system makes (and keeps) us sick.
For the past twenty years, movements have arisen to challenge American imperialism. The Trump movement is different: it is massive, and it is capable of winning. That’s what has the Establishment in such a panic. If we step back from the daily news cycle, and consider the larger significance of the Trump phenomenon, the meaning of it all is unmistakable: we haven’t seen anything like this in American politics – not ever. Revolution is in the air. The oligarchy is tottering. The American people are waking up, and rising up – and those who try to ignore it or disdain it as mere “populism” will be left behind.
Akin to ancient Rome, the United States has over-extended herself. She has created a climate that could easily be transformed into a war on a slight pretext. Wars, as it is well known are also a means a nation can extricate itself from debt and financial responsibility. The dying Petrodollar system has been on life support for some time, and it appears other nations such as the BRIC’s are taking the initiative to return to a true monetary standard. This is the same gold and silver standard that the U.S. should never have left in the first place.
While this should be no surprise to any rational non-establishment-teet-suckling economist, former McDonalds' CEO Ed Rensi exclaims, in a recent Forbes Op-Ed, that "a $15 minimum wage won’t spell the end of [fast-food brands]. However it will mean wiping out thousands of entry-level opportunities for people without many other options." The $15 minimum wage demand, which translates to $30,000 a year for a full-time employee, is built upon a fundamental misunderstanding of a restaurant business (and we add simple supply and demand fundamentals) - just "do the math" Rensi rants...
Despite his proclamation that he "saved the world from a Great Depression," the fact is that Obama will be the first President ever to not see a single year of 3% GDP growth - but only cynical fiction-peddlers would mention facts at a time like this. In yet more legacy-defending narrative, Obama told The NYTimes today that his biggest failure was being unable to sell his success in putting the American economy back on track to the American people (no matter the actual realities) careful to blame Republicans for slowing growth "by a percentage point or two." And then in a final affront to fact, Obama dismisses the conclusion of "The Big Short" proclaiming that he reined in Wall Street, overhauled the banking system, and made water from wine "the financial system substantially more stable."
Deflation, deflation everywhere... except for those 43 million Americans who are being slammed with rent inflation soaring at just over 8% every year, the highest on record.
Sunday, April 17th was the designated moment. The world’s leading oil producers were expected to bring fresh discipline to the chaotic petroleum market and spark a return to high prices. But what happens if confidence in the eventual resurgence of demand begins to wither? Then the incentives to cooperate begin to evaporate, too, and it’s every producer for itself in a mad scramble to protect market share. This new reality -- a world in which “peak oil demand,” rather than “peak oil,” will shape the consciousness of major players -- is what the Doha catastrophe foreshadowed.
A shocking new survey has found that support for capitalism is dying in America. In fact, more than half of all adults in the United States under the age of 30 say that they do not support capitalism at this point. You might be tempted to dismiss them as “foolish young people”, but the truth is that they are the future of America.
"The riskiest things are now stocks and other investments perceived to be safe. One of the most popular categories in US investing are low volatility stock funds. But there is no such thing! If you think that a stock like Johnson & Johnson can’t go down, you’re wrong.. If you are waiting for the confirmation of a recession before taking actions to protect your investment portfolio, it will likely be far too late.”
The front end of the oil price complex continues to get all the attention because it seems to further the more optimistic narrative. It is the back end, however, that is most significant. The nearer maturities of the futures curve reflect more the funding environment than the fundamental view of oil and the economy. The lack of continued liquidation has “allowed” investors (and speculators who are no longer, apparently, deserving of mainstream scorn) to bid up the front, but the outer years remain flat and unimpressed.