Kyrgyzstan was once known for its Tulip Revolution, a name the followed the trend of color-coded revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine. The ouster of the corrupt regime of President Askar Akayev in 2005 gave those Kyrgyz aspiring for a better future cause for hope, but expectations were quickly dampened. Akayev’s successor Kurmanbek Bakiyev suffered the same fate, with his removal from office in 2010. The North-South political divide has only widened in the years since the overthrow. Protests in Kyrgyzstan are commonplace, with 782 in 2013 alone - a staggering number for a tiny republic, as Russia has monopolized the Kyrgyz Republic’s energy, defense and transportation industries transforming it into a Russian client state and military bulwark.
Russia’s seizure of Crimea is the most naked example of peacetime aggression that Europe has witnessed since Nazi Germany invaded the Sudetenland in 1938. It may be fashionable to belittle the “lessons of Munich,” when Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier appeased Hitler, deferring to his claims on Czechoslovakia. But if the West acquiesces to Crimea’s annexation – the second time Russian President Vladimir Putin has stolen territory from a sovereign state, following Russia’s seizure of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in 2008 – today’s democratic leaders will surely regret their inaction. When Chamberlain returned from Munich, Winston Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Obama and other Western leaders face a similar choice. And if they choose dishonor, one can be certain that an undeterred Putin will eventually give them more war.
The world is now beginning to realize Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s true intentions. With his controversial visit to the Yasukuni shrine, which memorializes war dead, including Class A war criminals such as Hideki Tojo, he is no longer hesitant to reveal his true nature: without question, the most conservative leader in Japan’s postwar history. By encouraging a spirit of nationalism, Abe is hoping to engender self-confidence and patriotism among the Japanese public. But what exactly is his future agenda?
Curious which are all the various import trade routes which China uses to satisfy its relentless thirst for oil? Here they are...
Sir Halford Mackinder’s 1904 speach in which he outlined his “Heartland Theory” was a founding moment for geo-politics. He argued that control of the Eurasian landmass (Europe, Asia and the Middle East), which contained the bulk of the world’s population and natural resources, was the major geo-political prize. As time passed, energy (first crude oil then natural gas), became increasingly integral to this concept and its strategic significance cannot be overstated. Remarkably, Mackinder’s theory has remained equally valid, if not more so, in the modern era - although key “pivot areas” for exercising control have evolved. In addition to Central Asia and Trans-Caucasus in Mackinder’s day, the oil producing nations of the Middle East took on increasing importance in the “New Great Game”. We see a “New New Great Game” emerging.
- J.P. Morgan, U.S. Reach Historic Settlement (WSJ)
- OECD cuts global growth forecast (AP)
- Guess the profit margin: Wal-Mart Touts $98 TV as Holiday Seen Weakest Since 2009 (BBG)
- Republicans defy threat, block another Obama judicial pick (Reuters)
- Fed Ponders How to Temper Tapering Without Rate Increase (BBG)
- Wall Street uses 'merchant' workaround to cling to commodity assets (Reuters)
- PBOC to ‘Basically’ End Normal Yuan Intervention, Zhou Says (BBG)
- Italy’s leader warns Germany of rise of anti-European sentiment (FT)
- Yellen Nomination for Fed Chairman to Get Vote This Week (BBG)
- As U.S. default threatened, banks took extraordinary steps (Reuters)
- NSA vowed repeatedly to fix its collection errors (AP)
The last time the State Department issued a comparable worldwide terror alert, the majority of US embassies in the Muslim world were promptly evacuated and a few weeks later the Syrian false flag affair was unleashed upon the world. One wonders just what provocation John Kerry has in mind this time.
STATE DEPT ISSUES NEW WORLWIDE CAUTION ON TERRORIST THREATS; STATE DEPT DETAILS POSSIBLE THREATS IN EUROPE, ASIA, AFRICA
At least the evil terrorizers have not infiltrated the Arctic circle yet. As for the always convenient scapegoat:
STATE DEPT SAYS AL-QAEDA PLOTTING IN MULTIPLE REGIONS
They sure are: mostly in Syria, but luckily they are now armed with US weapons.
In a move that clearly seeks to distance the second largest Swiss bank from potentially "risky" or just not that profitable (read "rich or super rich") accounts, Credit Suisse announced today that it plans to close some clients' accounts as it focuses on high-value customers in some countries and pulls out of others altogether. The development is somewhat ironic: while banks around the world scramble to obtain ultra cheap funding, of which deposits are currently the cheapest alternative, Credit Suisse is saying to people, thanks but no thanks, we don't want your money. Then again, perhaps this is an admirable stance by the bank. It certainly is preferable to CS eagerly accepting every last Swiss Franc only to pull a Cyprus in a few months (indicatively speaking) and "bailing in" said money. It does however pose the question: has CS found an alternative method of funding its assets now that it is actively deleveraging, and if so what, and who is the source?
With gold and silver down this morning - following a mysterious vertical plunge last night (once again) - we thought ConvergEx's Nick Colas' timely discussion of gold was worthwhile. As he notes, Gold is the ultimate personality test for investors. Some hate it, excoriating its adherents for their lack of faith in human ingenuity – gold has been valuable since before humans could write. And some swear by the yellow metal, in the belief that it is the last vestige of rationality in a world of financial assets manipulated by central banks and opaque trading venues. What gets lost in the wash is that gold is a commodity and can be analyzed as such. On that basis, here is the 'Top 10' list of real-world fundamentals for gold.
The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... They're Also About GAS
Guest Post: Furious At Latest U.S. Attack, Pakistan Shuts Down Resupply Routes To Afghanistan "Permanently"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/03/2011 14:05 -0400
NATO recently literally shot itself in the foot, imperiling the resupply of International Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan by shooting up two Pakistani border posts in a “hot pursuit’ raid. Given that roughly 100 fuel tanker trucks along with 200 other trucks loaded with NATO supplies cross into Afghanistan each day from Pakistan, Pakistan’s closure of the border has ominous long-term consequences for the logistical resupply of ISAF forces, even as Pentagon officials downplay the issue and scramble for alternative resupply routes. Pakistan, long angry about ISAF/NATO cross border raids, has apparently reached the end of its tether. Following the 26 November NATO aerial assault on two border posts in Mohmand Agency in Pakistan’s turbulent NorthWest Frontier Province, Islamabad promptly sealed its border with Afghanistan to NATO supplies after the allied strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
We have good reason to be waiting for Lehman—our current situation is simple and stark: Sovereign nations and individual citizens are over-indebted—to the point where they cannot pay back what they owe. We all know that this overindebtedness at the sovereign and individual level is going to end, and end badly: Worse than 2008. So along with everyone else, I’ve been waiting for Lehman—and fruitlessly trying to guess which will be the Lehman-like event this time around. Will it be the bankruptcy of Dexia? BofA? UniCredit or SocGen or one of the Spanish banks? Will it be a war in the Middle East? Bad producer index numbers from China? A fart by a day-trader in Uzbekistan?
When will Lehman arrive!?!?
But lately, my thinking has changed: Like the characters in Godot, I think that we’re waiting in vain. The Lehman-like event will never arrive because it won’t be allowed to arrive. So this miserable slog we are going through will continue—indefinitely. (Yeah, I know: Sucks to be us.)
Leading Indicators of Revolt in the Middle East and Northern Africa: Corruption, Unemployment and Percentage of Household Money Spent on FoodSubmitted by George Washington on 02/21/2011 14:17 -0400
The Numbers Behind the Middle Eastern and North African Revolts