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.
A few days ago when we commented, somewhat in jest, on the seemingly impressive strategic planning behind the Islamic State Jihadists becoming a "commodities trading powerhouse" (when it was revealed that ISIS had sold the grain it had stolen from the Itaqi government back to the government), we described just how well-versed in the ways of the modern world ISIS was. Now, thanks to Bloomberg we can quantify this particular strategy, and put top-line numbers with the ISIS faces, so to speak: "The Islamic State, which now controls an area of Iraq and Syria larger than the U.K., may be raising more than $2 million dollars a day in revenue from oil sales, extortion, taxes and smuggling, according to U.S. intelligence officials and anti-terrorism finance experts."
Key highlights in the coming week: US Durable Goods, Michigan Conf., Services PMI, PCE, and CPI in Euro area and Japan. Broken down by day: Monday - US Services PMI, New Home Sales (Consensus 4.7%); Singapore CPI; Tuesday - US Durable Goods (consensus 7.5%) and Consumer Confidence; Wednesday - Germany GfK Consumer Confidence; Thursday - US GDP 2Q (2nd est., expect 3.70%, below consensus) and Personal Consumption; Euro area Confidence; CPI in Germany and Spain; Friday - US Michigan Conf. (consensus 80.1), PCE (consensus 0.10%), Chicago PMI; Core CPI in Euro area and Japan (consensus 2.30%). Additionally, with a long weekend in the US coming up, expect volumes into the close of the week to slump below even recent near-record lows observed recently as the CYNKing of the S&P 500 goes into overdrive.
And Should We Just Kill Them All - as an American News Commentator Suggests - and Let God Sort 'Em Out?
Just days after Russia banned the import of various foods from sanctions-supporting nations, VZ reports Russia's food safety ministry Rosselhoznadzor has discovered fruit being smuggled in via Belarus that was restamped as being from Zimbabwe and various other non-sanctioned nations. It appears the smuggling nation culprits are Poland, Slovenia, and Greece and Russia is now "actively monitoring the situation," suggesting they may extend import bans to Belarus also if the situation continues. In addition, Rosselhoznadzor intends in the future to move to a system of electronic certification of goods in transit.
As many have observed since Obama launched his own personal Iraq war, there is something rather farcical about the latest US intervention in the middile east, namely that US weapons are being used to destroy US weapons, captured by and in possession of ISIS jihadists. As Reuters summarizes the situation, rather poetically, "Islamic State’s captured an enormous amount of U.S. weaponry, originally intended for the rebuilt Iraqi Army. You know — the one that collapsed in terror in front of the Islamic State, back when they were just ISIL?" In other words US taxpayers are now paying for military missions, in which US taxpayer paid-for warplans and missiles are used to blow up other US taxpayer paid-for tanks, artillery, MRAPs, and various other weapons of death. How much? Here is the answer...
We knew the blowback from western sanctions against Russia would get serious - and Europe is already finding that out the hard way - but Vladmimir Putin appears to have gone 'cruel-and-unusual' in his latest step. As ITAR-TASS reports, Russian consumer-protection agency Rospotrebnadzor will decide in next few days whether to seize Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Honey Liqueur after 'reportedly' finding "suspicious" chemicals in batch of flavored whiskey on sale in Sverdlovsk stores. Luckily Jack Lew has told us this will not impact the US economy (unless of course, you are Jack Daniels).
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?
Qatar, the world's richest nation per capita (and awkward home of US central command in The Middle East), has used its wealth to fund Hamas in the Gaza Strip, bankrolls (as we detailed here) Islamists fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, and backed the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt - before he was deposed. As Bloomberg reports, they have additionally let other extremist groups raise money in Qatar, according to the U.S. Treasury Department - all in an effort to 'support' the gas pipelines that the tiny nation needs to maintain its uber-wealth. Qatar’s support for militants has angered its neighboring conservative monarchies... so, it is an intriguing shift that now, as Bloomberg reports, finds the terrorist-funding-nation mediating between Israel and Hamas to end the Gaza conflict.
If a trader knew nothing about the growth, the debt, the inflation, the exporters vs. importers, the serial defaulters, currency manipulators, hot-money or conversely deflation fighters; simply grouping the nations of the world on whether they were 'friend' or 'foe' to the US would provide an odd highly correlated value perspective on the interest rates paid on 1yr and 10yr sovereign debt... It appears your status with the central bank cabal was more important than your ability to repay the loaned money?
While the conflict in Ukraine rages on, EU member states havedecided to impose (not so much more stringent)economic sanctions against Russia, which was predictably followed by Russian counter-measures. The question which isn't being asked often enough, is whether these sanctions will actually improve the situation. Here's an analysis following four concrete questions:
1. Can things get even worse in Russia?
2. Is the West able to guide Russia and Ukraine down the right path?
3. Can the West contribute to a sharpening of the crisis?
4. How can the West protect itself against this conflict?
... Who America and Her Close Allies SUPPORT (the Terrorists, That Is) ...
- Maliki digs in as U.S. pushes for new Iraq government (Reuters)
- Ukraine's forces say close to taking rebel-held Donetsk (Reuters)
- Anger Over Michael Brown Shooting Leads to Looting (WSJ)
- German Economy Backbone Bending From Lost Russia Sales (BBG)
- Kinder Morgan to Consolidate Empire (WSJ)
- Early Failure to Detect Gaza Tunnel Network Triggers Recriminations in Israel (WSJ)
- You’ll never guess how much BuzzFeed raised from Horowitz (FT)
- The dumb money is now chasing Chinese oligarchs: Norway’s Wealth Fund Buys $576 Million of Mayfair Area (BBG)
- Clinical trial to start soon on GSK Ebola vaccine (Reuters)
- No drone skeet shooting any time soon (WSJ)
Although the US seems intent in playing the drums of war, perhaps realizing that its economic power is slowly headed for oblivion, to join the likes of Japan and the UK, American firms waving international flags don’t have the appetite for war that neocon elitists in the State Department or star-studded bellicosarians in the halls of the Pentagon have. Not at all! And here is where the feared industrial-military complex hopefully falls apart as globalist firms give their overall support to peace as a preferred alternative to the specter of a nuclear holocaust. Russia doesn’t want any military confrontation, nor does China, nor do American and European corporate entities that see no future in suicide. Americans need not drink the kool-aid offered by John McCain and his ilk in the Pentagon, Congress or the State Department; nor should they listen to the sad sack windmill-mouthpiece they have enlisted in the White House: Barack Obama.
The last 3 months have seen Russia's "de-dollarization" plans accelerate. First Gazprom clients shift to Euros and Renminbi, then the UK signs currency swap agreements with China, then NATO ally Turkey cuts ties and mulls de-dollarization, Switzerland jumps in the currency swap agreements, and BRICS create their own non-US-based funding vehicle, and then finally this week, Russia's oligarchs have shifted cash holdings to Hong Kong. But this week, as RT reports, Russian and Chinese central banks have agreed a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments. “"The agreement will stimulate further development of direct trade in yuan and rubles on the domestic foreign exchange markets of Russia and China," the Russian regulator said.