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Normality Seems As Distant As Ever: The Global Economy's Chinese Headwinds





Last year, the global economy was supposed to start returning to normal. Interest rates would begin rising in the United States and the United Kingdom; quantitative easing would deliver increased inflation in Japan; and restored confidence in banks would enable a credit-led recovery in the eurozone. Twelve months later, normality seems as distant as ever – and economic headwinds from China are a major cause.

 
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World Press Freedom Index Plunges – USA Now Ranked #49 Globally





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!!

 
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The Keys To The Gold Vaults At The New York Fed ‘Coin Bars’, ‘Melts’ And The Bundesbank





 

‘Coin bars’ is a bullion industry term referring to bars that were made by melting gold coins in a process that did not refine the gold nor remove the other metals or metal alloys that were in the coins. The molten metal was just recast directly into bar form. Because it’s a concept critical to the FRBNY stored gold, the concept of US Assay Office / Mint gold bar ‘Melts’ is also highlighted below. Melts are batches of gold bars, usually between 18 and 22 bars, that when produced, were stamped with a melt number and a fineness, but were weight-listed as one unit. The US Assay Office produced both 0.995 fine gold bars and coin bars as Melts. The gold bars in a Melt are usually stored together unless that melt has been ‘broken’.

 
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Guest Post: How Vaccine Hysteria Could Spark A Totalitarian Nightmare





At the end of the day, the issue here is one of freedom, and freedom is the freedom to choose – even if we make a bad choice. The argument that I must vaccinate my children for the good of the community is not only scientifically questionable, it is an unethical precept. It is the argument all dictators and totalitarians have used. “Comrade, you must work tirelessly for the good of the collective. You must give up your money and property for the good of the collective, and now … you must allow us to inject your children with what we deem is good for the collective.” If American’s don’t stand up against this, then we are lost. Because we have lost ownership of ourselves. Our bodies are no longer solely ours – we and our children are able to be commandeered for the “greater good.”

 
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Does Anyone Remember 2007? The Global Debt Bubble In 3 Ominous Charts





Seven years after the bursting of a global credit bubble resulted in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, debt continues to grow. In fact, as McKinsey explains in their latest report, rather than reducing indebtedness, or deleveraging, all major economies today have higher levels of borrowing relative to GDP than they did in 2007. They pinpoint three areas of emerging risk: the rise of government debt, which in some countries has reached such high levels that new ways will be needed to reduce it; the continued rise in household debt; and the quadrupling of China’s debt, fueled by real estate and shadow banking, in just seven years... that pose new risks to financial stability and may undermine global economic growth.

 
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The Golden Age Of Black Ops: US Special Forces Have Already Deployed To 105 Nations This Year





During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) deployed to 133 countries - roughly 70% of the nations on the planet - according to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bockholt, a public affairs officer with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). And this year could be a record-breaker, just 66 days into fiscal 2015 - America’s most elite troops had already set foot in 105 nations, approximately 80% of 2014’s total. Despite its massive scale and scope, this secret global war across much of the planet is unknown to most Americans…”We want to be everywhere,” said Votel at Geolnt...

 
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Remembering The Currency Wars Of The 1920s & 1930s (And Central Banks' "Overused Bag Of Tricks")





“No stock-market crash announced bad times. The depression rather made its presence felt with the serial crashes of dozens of commodity markets. To the affected producers and consumers, the declines were immediate and newsworthy, but they failed to seize the national attention. Certainly, they made no deep impression at the Federal Reserve.” - 1921 or 2015?

 
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Frontrunning: January 21





  • Obama Targets Income Gap in Address That Shapes 2016 Election (BBG)
  • Republicans Reject Obama’s Main Economic Proposals (WSJ)
  • Senate’s Shelby Says White House Bank Tax Is Dead on Arrival (BBG)
  • Is Dollar Next? Investors Reassess After Swiss Shock: Currencies (BBG)
  • Bank of Japan Cuts Price Forecast, Maintains Record Stimulus (BBG)
  • Pound Weakens After BOE Policy Makers Drop Call to Raise Rates (BBG)
  • Putin not flinching on Ukraine despite economic crisis (Reuters)
  • Indonesia will not make public full preliminary AirAsia crash report (Reuters)
  • Party Hasn't Stopped for Russians at Davos Even With Ukraine Sanctions (BBG)
 
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Ken Rogoff Warns Economic Sanctions Don't Work; Fears Violence, Not Bargaining





With Western economic sanctions against Russia, Iran, and Cuba in the news, Ken Rogoff thought it was a good time to take stock of the debate on just how well such measures work. The short answer is that economic sanctions usually have only modest effects at best. In a world where nuclear proliferation has rendered global conventional war unthinkable, economic sanctions and sabotage are likely to play a large role in twenty-first-century geopolitics. Rather than preventing conflict, Pericles’s sanctions in ancient Greece ultimately helped to trigger the Peloponnesian War. One can only hope that in this century, wiser heads will prevail, and that economic sanctions lead to bargaining, not violence.

 
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Conrad Black: The Saudis Fear Western Alliance With Iran; Crashing Oil Is Their Retaliation





"The oil-price weapon, in the face of the terminal enfeeblement of the Obama administration, is the last recourse before the Saudis and Turks, whatever their autocues of racist rhetoric, invite Israel to smash the Iranian nuclear program from the air."

 
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Howard Marks On "The Lessons Of Oil"





"It’s hard to say what the right price is for a commodity like oil . . . and thus when the price is too high or too low. Was it too high at $100-plus, an unsustainable blip? History says no: it was there for 43 consecutive months through this past August. And if it wasn’t too high then, isn’t it laughably low today? The answer is that you just can’t say. Ditto for whether the response of the  price of oil to the changes in fundamentals has been appropriate, excessive or insufficient. And if you can’t be confident about what the right price is, then you can’t be definite about financial decisions regarding oil." - Howard Marks

 
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Are We Reliving The 1930s?





Seeing the two “depressions” as historically and generationally comparable, makes it easier to recognize other similarities between the 1930s and the 2010s. Many are economic, as we have seen. But others are demographic (falling fertility, migration, and mobility). Still others are social (growing localism, income inequality, and distrust of elites; stronger families; and declines in personal risk-taking). And still others, ominously, are geopolitical (rising isolationism, nationalism, and authoritarianism, and the unraveling of any “world order” consensus). The confluence of all these trends is not accidental...

 
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Frontrunning: December 3





  • Fall of the Bond King: How Gross Lost Empire as Pimco Cracked (BBG)
  • Hong Kong 'Occupy' leaders surrender as pro-democracy protests appear to wither (Reuters)
  • Ashton Carter, Ex-Pentagon No. 2, Emerges as Obama Favorite for Defense Secretary (WSJ)
  • Oil, the Ruble and Putin Are All Headed for 63. A Russian Joke -- for the Moment (BBG)
  • New U.S. oil and gas well November permits tumble nearly 40 percent (Reuters)
  • Swedish government on brink of collapse (AJ)
  • China says Britain has no moral responsibility for Hong Kong (Reuters)
  • Indian Labs Deleted Test Results for U.S. Drugs, Documents Show (BBG)
 
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