We GET the Joke … It’s Just Not Very Funny
Back in 2013 it was Syria where the world was gearing for imminent military action after a relentless series of false flag provocations by the United States (intent on securing a Qatar gas pipeline to Europe) which in the last minute was deftly diffused by Vladimir Putin. In 2014, it was the Ukraine's turn, and after a prolonged campaign orchestrated by Victoria Nuland and the US State Department (again) which succeeded in the now traditional violent coup (see Egypt and Libya), once again saw Putin victorious, after yesterday's annexation of the all important Crimean peninsula, achieved without the firing of one shot. So now that Putin has succeeded in trouncing the US twice in a row, it is time to poke some old, well-known geopolitical wounds, such as Iran. And who better to do it than Israel, where as Haaretz reports, "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have ordered the army to continue preparing for a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities at a cost of at least 10 billion shekels ($2.89 billion) this year, despite the talks between Iran and the West, according to recent statements by senior military officers."
- Ukraine anxiety triggers flight to safety, stocks tumble (Reuters)
- Woodrow Wilson’s Ukraine Failure Foreshadows West’s Dilemmas (BBG)
- Fortress Executives Join Peers Selling Stock After Rally (BBG)
- 303 Deaths Seen in G.M. Cars With Failed Air Bags (NYT)
- Putin Deports Executives for Speeding as Sanctions Loom (BBG)
- Russia blocks internet sites of Putin critics (Reuters)
- China Bond Risk Exceeds Ireland as Defaults Unavoidable (BBG)
- China H-Shares Post Biggest Weekly Drop Since October (BBG)
- Surge in Rail Shipments of Oil Sidetracks Other Industries (WSJ)
- Blackstone’s Home Buying Binge Ends as Prices Surge (BBG)
There was a time when Vietnam was America's staunchest proxy war foe. This is not those times which explains why yesterday the president signed a landmark, controversial and not to mention hypocritical deal with Vietnam in which allows the U.S. to sell nuclear fuel and technology to its former foe, which will then be allowed to further enrich it. Why (because there is always a reason when the US does something so unexpected, and especially when nuclear power is involved)? Simple: as the Hill explains, the US "aims to help guarantee Vietnams' energy independence as China asserts a more prominent role in the region." Of course, the last time the US sought to prevent Vietnam's affiliation with a foreign superpower, the results were quite disastrous. One can only hope this time it's different.
The Gold Sector is Not the Only Sector That looks to be Turning
The world has grown tired of the inexorable rise in radiation levels and propaganda-talk sourrounding nuclear issues in Japan from the government in the last few years since Fukushima changed the nation's future. However, there is another source of nuclear materials that is increasingly angering the Chinese. The tensions and rhetoric, from WWI analogs to Nazi comparisons, have risen recently; but this time, the Chinese are asking a legitimate question... "If a country claims that it sticks by the three non-nuclear principles but at same time hoards far more nuclear materials than it needs, including a massive amount of weapon-grade plutonium, the world has good reason to ask why.... After all, Abe and his cabinet have already caused too much trouble to regional peace and stability." Of course, this places "ally" President Obama in an awkward position given his anti-proliferation stance... though we suspect he will have an angle: "if you like your plutonium stockpile, you can keep it."
The Gold market appears to be bottoming as does the Uranium market.
- Venezuela's Lopez says ready for arrest at Tuesday march (Reuters)
- Record Chinese liquidity sends Shanghai Composite back to green for the year (WSJ)
- Deflation Threat Worries G-20 Roiled by Emerging Markets (BBG)
- Neither U.S. nor EU has strategy for Ukraine (Reuters)
- AngloGold Ashanti Chairman Steps Down (WSJ)
- Italy Yields Seen Climbing as Renzi Gets Mandate (BBG)
- Group Led by Starr Near Deal to Buy MultiPlan (WSJ)
- Thai PM under siege, lengthy protests take toll on economy (Reuters)
- The Value of Annoying Co-Workers (WSJ)
"The Vampire Squid Strikes Again"- Matt Taibbi Takes On Blythe Masters And The Banker Commodity CartelSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/13/2014 17:15 -0400
The story of how JPMorgan, Goldman and the rest of the Too Big To Fails and Prosecutes, cornered, monopolized and became a full-blown cartel - with the Fed's explicit blessing - in the physical commodity market is nothing new to regular readers: to those new to this story, we suggest reading of our story from June 2011 (over two and a half years ago), "Goldman, JP Morgan Have Now Become A Commodity Cartel As They Slowly Recreate De Beers' Diamond Monopoly." That, or Matt Taibbi's latest article written in his usual florid and accessible style, in which he explains how the "Vampire Squid strikes again" courtesy of the "loophole that destroyed the world" to wit: "it would take half a generation – till now, basically – to understand the most explosive part of the bill, which additionally legalized new forms of monopoly, allowing banks to merge with heavy industry. A tiny provision in the bill also permitted commercial banks to delve into any activity that is "complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally." Complementary to a financial activity. What the hell did that mean?... Fifteen years later, in fact, it now looks like Wall Street and its lawyers took the term to be a synonym for ruthless campaigns of world domination."
Are fish from the Pacific safe to eat? What about the elevated background radiation readings detected in Japan, and recently in California? Are these harmful levels? Should we be worried? And if so, what should be done about these potential health threats? What steps should we take to protect ourselves? Fukushima-related fears have been both overblown as well as heavily downplayed by parties on each side of the discussion. Much of this stems from ignorance of the underlying science. But some of it, sadly, seems to be purposefully misleading. Again, on both sides. To assess the true risks accurately, you need to know about the difference between radiation and contamination. The distinction is vital and, unfortunately, one of the most glossed-over and misused facets of the reporting on nuclear energy.
In the global war for energy supremacy, Russia has won another victory over the United States.
... We have created an apparently wonderful economic model that seems to provide us with so many benefits. When you consider the incredible feats of technology and the global consumerist lifestyle we enjoy it is easy to marvel at what has been achieved. Of course what may be less obvious is the dark side of the growth economic model which is deeply inequitable, restricting its benefits to the relative elite in the western world and trapping the rest of the world in poverty. Most dangerous of all is the unsustainability of the model and where it is taking us in the future. There is now a perfect storm gathering that includes economic indebtedness, resource shortages, population pressures, and climate change that is guaranteed to derail civilisation. Despite this the political and economic mainstream are largely in denial about what is happening– like the hapless engineer and politician in the story everyone agrees that we must restart the ‘growth economy’ and continue to progress down the business as usual pathway. Very few people are taking the long term view and watching the direction towards doom that this pathway leads us. Too invested in the benefits of our current lifestyle, no one wants to hear the counsel of the philosopher who sees the disaster that looms ahead.
This morning, probably in order to assuage fears that it has lost control more than usual, TEPCO released the following statement "Regarding Certain Overseas Reports on Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." TEPCO's soothing words - "We found no abnormalities in the measured values (indicating the temperature and condition of the Reactor Building), or in the value of the monitoring post (monitoring the amount of radiation), even when the steam-like gas was being generated, therefore we are certain that there has been no influence on the outside. In addition, we measured the amount of radiation at the point from which steam-like gas was generated, and found that its amount was almost the same as for the other neighboring points."
The predictions of Blackstone's octogenarian Byron Wien (born in 1933) have been all over the place in the past 10 years, some correct, most wrong (with a recent hit rate of about 25%) - his 2013 year end S&P forecast was for 1300 - yet always entertaining. Which is the only value in the latest release of his 10 forecasts for 2014. Naturally, take all of these with a salt mine.
At this point, the problem of hitting limits in a finite world has morphed into primarily a financial problem. Governments are particularly affected. They find that they need to borrow increasing amounts of money to provide promised services to their citizens. Debt is a huge problem, both for governments and for individual citizens. Interest rates need to stay very low, in order for the current system to “stick together.” Governments are either unaware of the true nature of their problems, or are doing everything they can to hide the true situation from their constituents. The public has been placated by all kinds of misleading stories about how oil from shale will be the solution. Quantitative Easing (used by governments to lower interest rates) has temporarily allowed stock markets to soar, and allowed interest rates to stay quite low. So superficially, everything looks great. The question is how long all of this will last?