en It's Official: Americans Spent All Their "Gas Savings" On Obamacare <p>Last quarter, when we showed what was "<a href="">The Reason For The "Surge</a>" In Q3 GDP", some were shocked to learn that in the quarter in which US GDP posted a 5% surge, it was none other than Obamacare - a mandatory tax according to the Supreme Court which has the benefit of flowing through the US income statement - which contributed the bulk of this upside.</p> <p><a href="" style="text-decoration: none; color: #666666; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 13.3333330154419px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 17.3333339691162px; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 1; word-spacing: 0px; background-color: #ffffff;"><img src="" width="600" height="423" style="border: 0px; max-width: 100%; height: auto;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We are happy, and we use the term loosely, that history has just repeated itself, and now that the final number is available, what we wrote a month ago in "<a href="">Here Is What Americans Spent Their "Gas Savings" On</a>" has just been confirmed, and as the chart below shows, in the final revision of Q4 GDP, while virtually every other category of household spending was largely unchanged or revised lower, it was Healthcare, <strong>of which Obamacare was the biggest contributor on the margin, which saw an unprecedented surge in total spending, from $1.858 trillion to $1.871.9 trillion just between the second and final GDP revisions: a bump of $13.9 billion, without which Q3 GDP would have grown well below 2%</strong>!</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="421" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It gets better, because in the fourth quarter total spending on healthcare in chained-dollars <strong>was a whopping $35.3 billion</strong>. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>An all time record!</strong></span></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="433" /></a></p> <p>And the absolute shocker: of the $89.1 billion increase in Q4 GDP in chained-dollars, healthcare was $35.3 billion of that, <em>or 40% of the total</em>. </p> <p><strong>Yes, healthcare spending accounted for 40% of GDP growth in Q4!</strong></p> <p>With that we are happy to have unmasked the two great mysteries of the US economy in recent history: the first being why there is no wage growth, which as we showed previously is because all the wage growth was going to the <a href=";ie=utf-8&amp;oe=utf-8">20% of the workforce that is <em><strong>supervisors</strong></em> and <em><strong>bosses</strong></em></a>. For everyone else: better luck in a next life where you too get to "supervise."</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="383" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="383" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>... and now we have solved the mystery of why US households did not spend all those billions in "dropping gas price" windfalls - the answer is that <strong>they did <em>in fact </em>spend all this money. </strong></p> <p>On Obamacare.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="766" height="537" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> None Obamacare Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:13:22 +0000 Tyler Durden 503908 at "Serious Depressive Episode" May Have Driven Germanwings Pilot To "Criminal, Mad, Suicidal" Action, Prosecutors Allege <p>Andreas Lubitz, the 28-year-old co-pilot who murder-suicided a plane full of 150 people into the Alps, had been judged to have <strong>suffered a &quot;serious depressive episode&quot;</strong> around the time he suspended his training in 2009, according to internal documents cited by Germany&#39;s Bild. <a href="">As Reuters reports,</a> Lubitz had broken off his training in 2009 and reportedly <strong>spent a year in psychiatric treatment</strong> but as the Lufthansa CEO noted, <em>&quot;<strong>After he was cleared again, he resumed training</strong>. He passed all the subsequent tests and checks with flying colors. His flying abilities were flawless.&quot;</em> French Prime Minister Manuel Valls urged patience during the investigation but stated, <strong><em>&quot;everything points to a criminal, mad, suicidal action that we cannot comprehend.&quot;</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img height="551" src="" width="553" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><em>As The Wall Street Journal reports,</em></a> the Germanwings co-pilot who appeared to intentionally crash an airliner into a French mountainside this week, killing himself and 149 passengers and crew,<strong><u> received a note from a doctor excusing him from work but apparently tore it up</u></strong>, a German prosecutor said Friday.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The prosecutor said evidence collected in a search of Andreas Lubitz&rsquo; Düsseldorf apartment on Thursday afternoon<strong> did not include a suicide note </strong>and gave no indication of a political or religious motive for his apparent decision to crash the plane.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;However<strong> documents were confiscated that contained medical information indicating an existing medical treatment,</strong>&rdquo; the Düsseldorf prosecutor said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Doctor&rsquo;s notes that were found that were current and for the day of the incident support the assumption, based on a preliminary evaluation, that the deceased concealed his illness from his employer and work environment,&rdquo;</strong> the prosecutor said in the statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier, Germany&rsquo;s Federal Aviation Office said that<strong> Mr. Lubitz had a medical condition noted in his pilot&rsquo;s medical certificate, but the spokesman couldn&rsquo;t say whether the record was related to his mental or physical health</strong> because the information was confidential.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><em>And as Reuters adds,</em></a> <strong><u>Lubitz broke off his training six years ago due to depression and spent over a year in psychiatric treatment,</u></strong> a German newspaper reported on Friday.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr acknowledged at a news conference on Thursday that Lubitz had broken off his training in 2009 but did not explain why. He said there was nothing in the pilot&#39;s background to suggest he was a risk.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&quot;After he was cleared again, he resumed training. He passed all the subsequent tests and checks with flying colors. His flying abilities were flawless,&quot;</strong> Spohr said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But Bild, citing internal documents forwarded by Lufthansa&#39;s Aeromedical Center to German authorities, reported that Lubitz had suffered from depression and anxiety, and<strong> had been judged to have suffered a &quot;serious depressive episode&quot; around the time he suspended his training.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lufthansa and German prosecutors declined to comment on the report, which is likely to<strong> raise questions about the airline&#39;s screening procedures for its pilots and, if confirmed, could expose it to substantial liabilities in the crash.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Friends are stunned....</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;He was a quiet person&hellip;not someone who tried to be the center of attention,&rdquo; </strong>the club&rsquo;s Mr. Rücker said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jörg Kämpflein&mdash;a flight club board member who has been with the club since 1993&mdash;said he was <strong>&ldquo;surprised, astonished&rdquo; by the allegations </strong>surrounding Mr. Lubitz. These, he said, <strong>&ldquo;in no way&rdquo; fitted his personality</strong>. Klaus Radke, president of the club, said Mr. Lubitz had renewed his pilot&rsquo;s license to fly alone when he last visited.</p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>Because nothing fixes despression and anxiety like smashing a plane into a mountain at 500mph.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="553" height="551" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Germany Newspaper Reuters Wall Street Journal Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:49:07 +0000 Tyler Durden 503907 at Final Q4 GDP Unchanged At 2.2%, Below Expectations; Corporate Profits Tumble <p>So much for the "self-sustaining", "escape-velocity" recovery. Again. </p> <p>After rising at an annualized pace of 4.6% and 5.0% in Q2 and Q3, the final Q4 GDP estimate (a number which will still be revised at least 3-4 times in the coming years), slid more than half to 2.2%, the same as the second estimate from a month ago, and below the consensus Wall Street estimate of 2.4%. </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="333" /></a></p> <p>There were few changes underneath the surface (as can be expected with the bottom line number not changing) however most notable was the increase in Personal Consumption which increase from 2.83% to 2.98%, with this increase more than offset by a drop in Inventories from a 0.12% contribution to a -0.10% detraction from Q4 annualized growth. Net trade ended up subtracting -1.03% from Q4 growth, compared to -1.16% previously. Finally, fixed investment and government spending were virtually unchanged.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="331" /></a></p> <p>But the worst news was the following:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>For the year 2014, profits from current production decreased $17.1 billion, in contrast to an<br /> increase of $84.1 billion in 2013</strong>. Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased, and profits of<br /> domestic nonfinancial corporations increased. The rest-of-the-world component of profits decreased<br /> $9.0 billion in 2014, in contrast to an increase of $1.3 billion in 2013. </p> </blockquote> <p>While this has to do a lot with the CCAdj and IVA adjustments we profiled previously... </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>According to the measure of profits before tax with inventory valuation adjustment, profits of domestic financial corporations decreased $13.0 billion in the fourth quarter, in contrast to an increase of $16.2 billion in the third. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations increased $14.7 billion, compared with an increase of $31.1 billion. <strong>The fourth-quarter increase in profits of nonfinancial corporations primarily reflected increases in retail trade, in "other" nonfinancial industries, and in manufacturing that were partly offset by decreases in utilities and in transportation and warehousing.</strong> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Profits after tax with IVA and CCAdj decreased $135.4 billion, in contrast to an increase of $64.6 billion. Dividends decreased $54.5 billion, in contrast to an increase of $102.5 billion. Undistributed profits decreased $80.9 billion, compared with a decrease of $37.9 billion. </p> </blockquote> <p>... the fact that profits are now declining is not what those advocating EPS growth would like to see.</p> <p>In short: a number which confirms the US economy is once again slowing down, and will hit the breaks when in one month the BEA reports that Q1 GDP was at or below 1.0%, with snow in the winter getting the bulk of the ridiculous blame once again.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1189" height="659" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> fixed Personal Consumption recovery Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:41:22 +0000 Tyler Durden 503906 at Default Risk Soars After Ukraine's 'American' FinMin Suggests Severe Haircuts For Creditors (Including Russia) <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog</em></a>,</p> <p><strong>When money managers talk outside their narrow field, nonsense is guaranteed to ensue.</strong> No better example than this Bloomberg piece on Ukraine&rsquo;s &lsquo;debt restructuring&rsquo; plans, which are as much a political tool as they are anything else at all. Ukraine&rsquo;s American Finance Minister has announced a broad restructuring plan with a wide range of severe haircuts for creditors, and she &ndash; well, obviously &ndash; wishes to include Russia in the group of creditors who are about to get their heads shaved.</p> <p><strong>And despite all obvious angles to the issue that are not purely economical, Bloomberg presents a whole array of finance professionals who are free to spout their entirely irrelevant opinions on the topic. </strong>If you didn&rsquo;t know any better, you&rsquo;d be inclined to think that perhaps Russia is indeed just another creditor to Kiev.</p> <p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="" target="new"><span style="font-size:13px;color: #FF2222;font-weight:bold"> Putin Plays Wildcard as Ukraine Bond Restructuring Talks Begin</span> </a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>As Ukraine begins bond-restructuring talks, it finds itself face-to-face with a familiar foe: Russia. President Vladimir Putin bought $3 billion of Ukrainian bonds in late 2013. The cash was meant to support an ally, then-President Yanukovych. </i></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>That is, for starters, a far too narrow way of putting it. Russia simply wanted to make sure Ukraine would remain a stable nation, both politically and economically, because A) it didn&rsquo;t want a failed state on its borders and B) it wanted to ensure a smooth transfer of its gas sales to Europe through the Ukraine pipeline systems. </strong>Whether that would be achieved through Yanukovych or someone else was a secondary issue. Putin was never a big fan of the former president, but at least he kept the gas flowing.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>While his government fell just two months later, Russia was left with the securities. Now, those holdings take on an added importance as Putin&rsquo;s stance on the debt talks could affect the terms that all other bondholders get in the restructuring. Russia, which is Ukraine&rsquo;s second-biggest bondholder, has maintained that it won&rsquo;t take part in any restructuring deal. Here are the three most likely tacks &ndash; as seen by money managers and analysts &ndash; that Putin&rsquo;s government could pursue.</i></p> </blockquote> <p>Here&rsquo;s the biggest issue here, one which Bloomberg conveniently omits. <strong>Not only was Russia left with the securities after the Maidan coup (or revolution if you must), but the money provided through them to Ukraine began to be used to organize and fund various battalions and other groups, thrown together into a Kiev &lsquo;army&rsquo;, that started aiming for and at the Russian speaking population in East Ukraine. 6000 of them did not survive this.</strong></p> <p>The same would have happened in Crimea (Moscow is convinced of this) had not Putin made it part of Russia before that could happen. Do note that one of the very first decrees issued by US installed PM Yatsenyuk and his &lsquo;cabinet&rsquo; was one that banned Russian to be used as an official language by millions of people who speak only Russian. That Yats withdrew the decree within a week didn&rsquo;t matter anymore, the game was on right then and there.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>Ukraine, after gaining a lifeline from the IMF, included Russia&rsquo;s bond among the 29 securities and enterprise loans it seeks to renegotiate with creditors before June. Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko has promised not to give any creditor special treatment. The revamp will include a reduction in the coupon, an extension in maturities as well as a cut in the face value, she said. </i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak said March 17 that the nation isn&rsquo;t taking part in the debt negotiations because it&rsquo;s an &ldquo;official&rdquo; creditor, not a private bondholder. If the Kremlin maintains this view, it would be &ldquo;negative&rdquo; for private bondholders as &ldquo;other investors will be more tempted to hold out as well,&rdquo; according to Marco Ruijer at ING. He predicts a 45% chance of a hold out, while Michael Ganske at Rogge in London says it&rsquo;s 70%.</i></p> </blockquote> <p>Here&rsquo;s where we get into la-la land, with money managers speaking out on things they don&rsquo;t know anything about. Which can then be used to lead up to a goal-seeked conclusion, as we will see. Because of the situation I painted above, Russia cannot and will not take part in the &lsquo;debt negotiations&rsquo; the west tries to shove down its throat through Jaresko&rsquo;s restructuring plans.</p> <p>If only because as soon as the restructuring has given Kiev some financial breathing space, is will use it to reinforce its troops and go after its Russian speaking compatriots again. It&rsquo;s a not a finance issue at all, it&rsquo;s life and death, and that makes percentages thrown around by money guys behind desks in high rises not just futile, but positively inane.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>There is little precedence of sovereigns and private bondholders taking part in the same talks, given that a nation&rsquo;s debt considerations include a &ldquo;foreign-policy dimension,&rdquo; according to Matthias Goldmann at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany. Ukraine and Russia may need to find an &ldquo;appropriate forum,&rdquo; such as the Paris Club, for separate negotiations, he said. </i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Holding out can lead to two outcomes: <b>Russia gets paid back in full after the notes mature in December, or Ukraine defaults</b>. The former option is politically unacceptable in Kiev, according to Tim Ash at Standard Bank, while the latter would likely start litigation and delay the borrower&rsquo;s return to foreign capital markets, which Jaresko expects in 2017. &ldquo;Russia will be holdouts, to try and force a messy restructuring,&rdquo; Ash said by e-mail on March 19.</i></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>No, Russia is not interested in a &lsquo;messy restructuring&rsquo;.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 316px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It will simply refuse to throw Kiev&rsquo;s aggression against its own people a lifeline, and it will insist on finding that &ldquo;appropriate forum&rdquo;, instead of the one Jaresko tries to force it into. Russia will demand to be paid in full, and if that means a Ukraine default, it is fine with that. Don&rsquo;t forget that the $3 billion in bonds is by no means the only debt Ukraine owes Moscow. There are many billions in unpaid gas purchases, and undoubtedly many other bills.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>If Russia holds out and litigates, <b>there is a &ldquo;real threat&rdquo; that Ukraine will deem the Eurobond an odious debt</b>, Lutz Roehmeyer at Landesbank Berlin said. </i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>This refers to a legal theory that a nation shouldn&rsquo;t be forced to repay international obligations if they don&rsquo;t serve the best interests of the country and its citizens.</i></p> </blockquote> <p>Nice theory. Why don&rsquo;t we have Greece use it too? Russia would obviously never accept this. At the very minimum, gas would stop flowing through Ukraine to Europe.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>The chance of Russia joining the talks is about 10%, according to ING&rsquo;s Ruijer and Rogge&rsquo;s Ganske. If Russia joins it would be &ldquo;somewhat positive as all investors will be treated equally, and then it can be resolved quicker,&rdquo; Ruijer said.</i></p> </blockquote> <p>These guys really have no idea what&rsquo;s going on. They see the planet exclusively in dollar terms. And they have no idea why they said 10%, might as well have been 5% or 25%. Hot air.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>Bank of America said in a note last week that Ukraine will seek a principal reduction of about 35% in its opening salvo, which may be rejected by creditors. It said that bond valuations around 40 cents on the dollar, indicate a probability of a 20% reduction in principal as well as a reduction in interest rates. </i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>Ukraine&rsquo;s benchmark 2017 dollar notes traded at 37.8 cents on the dollar on Thursday.</i></p> </blockquote> <p>Sounds like things in the real world are already much worse than in BoA notes.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>&ldquo;By participating in the talks, Russia would have a better chance of getting a deal it wants,&rdquo; Liza Ermolenko at Capital Economics, said. &ldquo;However, it seems that politics, rather than economics, will be behind whatever Russia decides to do.&rdquo;</i></p> </blockquote> <p>No kidding, Liza.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i><b>There is no collective-agreement clause which could make any deal binding for Russia</b>, Anna Gelpern, a Georgetown law professor, said.</i></p> </blockquote> <p>And there we get to the core of the matter. If Jaresko wants to force anything on Russia, she&rsquo;ll have to move outside of the law. Which I&rsquo;m sure she, and the US cabal that rules Kiev, would be more than willing to do, but it would mean a default no matter what happens, simply because time is of the essence, and the issue would drag on for a long time.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>The restructuring of each bond must be agreed to by a majority of its holders, according to Olena Zubchenko, a lawyer at Lavrynovych &amp; Partners, a legal adviser to Ukraine during the bond issue to Russia in December 2013. The Eurobonds are governed by English law and traded on the Dublin Exchange. The Russian bond has a covenant allowing the holder to call it if Ukraine&rsquo;s public debt tops 60% of economic output, which the IMF said took place last year.</i></p> </blockquote> <p>Another noteworthy detail: Russia could have called the bonds quite a while ago, but has so far decided against that. They could still do it at any moment, though. And since the IMF has approved another loan to Ukraine recently, and Capitol Hill has agreed to send deadly offensive weapons to Kiev, they have good reason to do it. The Jaresko idea of &lsquo;we will saddle you with losses, so we can go kill more Russian speaking people&rsquo; will certainly not appeal to Moscow, not will it be condoned.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a kind of nuclear option, evaporating their leverage,&rdquo; Rogge&rsquo;s Ganske said. &ldquo;If Russia accelerates, then Ukraine has to pay or default on it &mdash; i.e. game over.&rdquo; </i></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>This bond issue is of course just one of many ways in which the west seeks to aggravate Russia. </strong>If and/or when the US starts shipping arms to Kiev, and the internal civil war restarts, Russia will have to take measures. Which is exactly what the west has been trying to provoke it to do for at least a full year now. It is therefore Russia&rsquo;s task to find those measures that take &lsquo;the other side&rsquo; by surprise and leaves it scrambling for answers.</p> <p>Over the past year and change, after the Kiev putsch and the subsequent aggression on the side of the newly installed &lsquo;government&rsquo; against its own citizens in East Ukraine, Russia has always insisted on talking about the EU and US as its &lsquo;partners&rsquo;, even as the language thrown at it deteriorated at a rapid clip. It must already be about a year ago that Hillary Clinton first referred to Putin as Hitler. As for the anti-Moscow utterances by the Kiev &lsquo;government&rsquo;, let&rsquo;s not even go there.</p> <p>The Russians have shown recently that they understand very well what the intentions are behind the NATO build-up and all the hollow accusations and innuendo in the western media. They have also made clear that they are ready and prepared to activate any and all defense systems, including nuclear, at their disposal.</p> <p><strong>Russia sees the world as one in which multiple major powers can govern together. The US sees Russia as a power that must be defeated by any means necessary, and subdued. </strong>One of these worldviews must prevail in the end. Perhaps we won&rsquo;t know which one that will be until the third power, China, raises its voice. What we do know is that Russia will back down only so far, and then it will no more.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="960" height="505" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> B+ Bank of America Bank of America Bond Capital Markets China Creditors default Germany Greece Sovereigns Ukraine Vladimir Putin Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:18:58 +0000 Tyler Durden 503905 at Turkey Devolves Into A Full Police State: Law Grants Unlimited Powers To Weaponized Police Force <p>While a source of much schadenfreude by its neighbors and casual onlookers, Turkey has become a glaring example of what happens to a formerly respectable nation as it devolves entirely into a banana republic with not only authoritarian overtones but a police state to boot. And earlier today, Turkey's conversion to a full blown police state was complete when, after weeks of heated debates and brawls in parliament, Turkey’s government passed a security package expanding police powers, along with an online surveillance law and a discretionary fund for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to fund covert operations.</p> <p>In other words, president Erdogan has just voted himself quasi-dictatorial powers with a private police force to defend him. </p> <p><img src="" width="500" height="359" /></p> <p>As <a href="">Bloomberg details</a>, the parliament voted to <strong>approve security laws that allow police to conduct searches and arrests without immediate court orders and use firearms against militants. </strong>The law separately <strong>empowered government-appointed governors to order police or paramilitary forces to conduct searches and detain suspects for up to 48 hours without immediate court orders, state-run Anadolu Agency said.</strong> </p> <p>Furthermore, protesters are banned from carrying fire crackers, firebombs, iron pellets and slingshots, along with covering faces during demonstrations. </p> <p>Taking a cue from the US, whose NSA continues to enjoy 4th amendment-busting privileges despite all the Snowden revelations, Turkey's online surveillance law will allow police to keep wiretapping or monitoring online activities of suspects without court orders for 48 hours. At least in Turkey it's legally mandated: in the US at last check it was still unconstitutional.</p> <p>Bloomberg further reports that Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, vowed to seek cancellation of the law by the country’s constitutional court before June 7 parliamentary elections, Anadolu reported. Good luck with that.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>CHP and another opposition party, the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, also criticized the surveillance law and a special fund for spending by Erdogan on state affairs, including covert operations “related to the state’s national security and interests,” Anadolu said today.</p> </blockquote> <p>Meanwhile, Erdogan continues to push for an authoritarian state in which the power of the people has been voided, and only his decisions matter, and is seeking to replace the parliamentary system with a presidential one that expands his powers at the expense of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s government. Davutoglu, Erdogan’s hand-picked successor as prime minister and leader of the ruling AK Party, has not clarified his views on a transition to a presidential system. </p> <p>Again: none of this is unique, and is merely indicative of the various "evolutionary" stages of a small banana republic as its grows into a full-blown banana plantation. And as the much needed money runs out to keep any democracy afloat (see Greece) what happens in Turkey today, will happen in a country near you tomorrow or in the immediate future. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="500" height="359" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Greece national security None Turkey Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:00:19 +0000 Tyler Durden 503904 at Frontrunning: March 27 <ul> <li>Google's new CFO to make $70 million (<a href="">WSJ</a>)</li> <li>Senate passes Republican budget with deep safety net cuts (<a href="">Reuters</a>)</li> <li>With Yemen strikes, Saudis show growing independence from U.S. (<a href="">Reuters</a>)</li> <li>Banks Slash Dividends as Loans Sour From Beijing To Pearl River (<a href="">BBG</a>)</li> <li>North American Railroads Caught by Speed of Crude-Oil Collapse (<a href="">BBG</a>)</li> <li>Japan’s Zero Inflation a Setback for Abenomics (<a href="">WSJ</a>)</li> <li>Cooperman Says U.S. Seeks Information About Omega Trades (<a href="">BBG</a>)</li> <li>Fed's Top Cop Gets Grilled About Leaks (<a href="">BBG</a>)</li> <li>London Home Prices Gain on Demand for Cheapest Districts (<a href="">BBG</a>)</li> <li>Apple's Tim Cook will give away all his money (<a href="">Reuters</a>)</li> <li>ABN Amro Initial Offering Is Delayed Amid Pay, Probe Queries (<a href="">BBG</a>)</li> <li>Deep in the Rust Belt, Regional Banks Fill Industrial Niche (<a href="">WSJ</a>)</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Overnight Media Digest</strong></p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">WSJ</span></em></p> <p>* Google's incoming CFO, Ruth Porat, will receive a $5 million signing bonus plus $65 million worth of restricted stock, making her one of the highest paid CFOs. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>* Toyota broke a two-year silence on a revamped manufacturing process - built on sharing components among vehicles - that it says will produce half its vehicles by 2020 and slash costs. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>* Pemex has landed its first major investment since an energy overhaul opened the sector to private players. BlackRock and First Reserve will put up about $900 million for a 45 percent stake in a pipeline project. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>* Hewlett-Packard Co is nearing a deal to sell control of its data-networking business in China to Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd, according to people familiar with the matter. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>* Brazil's state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA said that it appointed Luciano Coutinho, head of the country's development bank, as its new chairman. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>* German auto maker Mercedes-Benz says its coming offering will appeal to existing pickup owners looking for greater luxury and comfort than now available from midsize pickups from Toyota, General Motors and others. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">FT</span></em></p> <p>Swiss-based Edmond de Rothschild Group will issue a cease and desist order to the French financial adviser Rothschild and Cie for unfairly using its family name. The Swiss company said that Paris Orleans SA, the parent of Rothschild and Cie, has unfairly referred to itself as the "parent of the Rothschild Group".</p> <p>Chancellor George Osborne rejected advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office while deciding to join China's Asia Infrastructure Bank. Officials in China and the UK had warned Osborne that his decision would alienate allies from Japan and the US. The chancellor raised his decision at the meeting of the National Security Council, which was approved by the Prime Minister.</p> <p>The UK Government abandoned plans to extend rights of the builders to convert offices into homes after a backlash from London boroughs, business leaders and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. The rules to convert offices to homes had been relaxed in 2013 for a three year period.</p> <p>MPs called the Financial Conduct Authority a 'dysfunctional' institution in a 83-page report indicating that the UK regulators failings were serious enough to require special actions. MPs said that the FCA must compete a detailed inquiry on the culture and governance of the regulator.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">NYT</span></em></p> <p>* A recent internal report from Citigroup's cyberintelligence center warned bank employees of the threat of attacks on the networks and websites of big law firms. The report, issued last month, said it was reasonable to expect law firms to be targets of attacks by foreign governments and hackers because they are repositories for confidential data on corporate deals and business strategies. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>* Oil prices rose sharply on Thursday amid concerns that fighting in the Arabian Peninsula between a Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels in Yemen could disrupt supplies. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>* Entertainment network HBO is strengthening its relationship with Vice, a media company and news organization. It said on Thursday that it would broadcast a daily half-hour Vice newscast. The program is to run five days a week for 48 weeks a year. Richard Plepler, chief executive of HBO, said it would have its debut this year. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>* The House overwhelmingly approved sweeping changes to the Medicare program on Thursday in the most significant bipartisan policy legislation to pass through that chamber since Republicans regained a majority in 2011. The legislation, approved in the House by a vote of 392 to 37, embodies a rare and significant agreement negotiated by Speaker John Boehner and the House Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>* South Korea on Thursday became the latest American ally to announce its intention to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite Washington's qualms about the Chinese-led regional development bank. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Canada</span></em></p> <p>CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL</p> <p>- Wan Feng, chairman of New China Life Insurance , said its premium income is expected to achieve single-digit growth in 2015. Its vice chairman Chen Guogang said the company would maintain a cautious stance and would continue to invest in fixed income projects, not derivatives projects.</p> <p>CHINA DAILY</p> <p>- China and Sri Lanka have ended a stalemate over a $1.4 billion port project in the island nation's capital of Colombo. During meetings with Chinese leaders in Beijing on Thursday, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena promised to continue the infrastructure project, which was suspended by the country's current administration.</p> <p>21st CENTURY BUSINESS HERALD</p> <p>- The main targets of China's thirteenth five-year plan are to boost economic transformation and upgrading, and to adjust to the new normal, said Guo Lian, official of National Development and Reform Commission.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">China</span></em></p> <p>THE GLOBE AND MAIL</p> <p>** The Alberta government plans to raise C$9.746 billion ($7.78 billion) in debt this year, the largest financing it has done in at least 15 years as the province copes with a painful slump in oil prices. (</p> <p>** The Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to rule on Friday morning on whether Quebec has the right to obtain records from the now-abolished federal long-gun registry or whether Ottawa can destroy the records. (</p> <p>** A hundred Iranians who wish to become business immigrants to Canada have written to Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson complaining that his office delayed their applications for up to two years because of economic sanctions against Iran. (</p> <p>NATIONAL POST</p> <p>** Comark Inc, owner of Ricki's, Bootlegger and Cleo, has joined the swelling ranks of homegrown Canadian fashion chains who have filed for bankruptcy protection and are closing some stores. (</p> <p>** In a sign of how touchy bilingualism issues can get in New Brunswick, the province's education minister has vowed to take action after learning French and English-speaking students have been travelling on the same school bus. (</p> <p>** Average energy bills in Ontario are set to increase by as much as C$137 a year starting in 2016 due to program changes announced by the Liberal government on Thursday, including a new rebate to help low-income families. (</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Britain</span></em></p> <p>The Times</p> <p>AA PROMISES TO RESUME DIVIDENDS BY RAISING 1 BLN POUNDS</p> <p>AA Plc intends to raise almost 1 billion pounds ($1.49 billion) from share and loan sales as it moves to tackle its debt and resume dividend payments. As part of the plan, which was accompanied by a strategic update and the publication of annual profits, the recently listed roadside recovery group said it would raise 200 million pounds from a placement with shareholders. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>MOBILE WAR AS BT OFFERS 4G DEAL FOR 5 POUNDS A MONTH</p> <p>BT Group Plc has marked its return to the consumer mobile market with a price war after launching a 4G package for 5 pounds a month. It hopes to get a foothold in the mobile market under its own steam before the completion of its 12.5 billion pound takeover of EE. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>The Guardian</p> <p>CAMERON CONCEDES DEFEAT OVER PUBLICATION OF PRINCE CHARLES'S LETTERS</p> <p>David Cameron has admitted defeat after the government lost a 10-year battle with the Guardian to keep secret a "particularly frank" cache of lobbying letters written by Prince Charles. Following a supreme court ruling that 27 letters between the heir to the throne and ministers must finally be published under the Freedom of Information Act, the prime minister has told aides to prepare their release. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>STUDENT CLEARED OF LONDON TERROR CHARGE AFTER PARTIALLY SECRET TRIAL</p> <p>A man who faced accusations that he was plotting to mount an Islamic State-inspired gun or bomb attack on the streets of London has been acquitted after a highly secretive Old Bailey trial. Erol Incedal, 27, was cleared of preparation of acts of terrorism after a four-week retrial in which large parts of the evidence were heard inside a locked courtroom. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>The Telegraph</p> <p>FRED GOODWIN TOLD TO HAND OVER PRIVATE EMAILS IN ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND LAWSUIT</p> <p>Fred Goodwin has been told to disclose personal emails he sent in the run-up to Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's 2008 rights issue, as part of a 4 billion pounds court case. The bank's former chief executive, who lost his knighthood over the bank's collapse, is among a number of ex-directors who will have to reveal the private email accounts used to discuss the controversial share sale. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>LIQUIDITY STORM COULD THROW UK INTO CHAOS, BANK OF ENGLAND WARNS</p> <p>The Bank of England has warned that a global liquidity storm could endanger financial stability if investors suddenly demanded their money back, adding that the threat of a Greek default posed "significant risks" to the UK. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>Sky News</p> <p>CO-OP BANK SECURES CHIEF EXECUTIVE UNTIL 2017</p> <p>The struggling Co-operative Bank will announce that it has struck a deal to keep its chief executive until at least 2017 as it attempts to return to profitability. Niall Booker, a former HSBC Bank Plc executive, has agreed to remain in his post for about two more years amid pressure from regulators for continuity at the helm of the embattled lender. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>FORMER OFCOM CHIEF TO LEAD BANK BODY OVERHAUL</p> <p>The former head of the media regulator is to spearhead a plan to overhaul the myriad trade associations which represent Britain's beleaguered banking industry. Ed Richards, who stepped down as chief executive of Ofcom at the end of last year, will be named to his first major post since leaving the regulator. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>The Independent</p> <p>LONDON ARMS FAIR COULD BE USED TO SELL TORTURE INSTRUMENTS, MPS FEAR</p> <p>MPs fear that some exhibitors at the world's biggest arms fair, to be held in London in September, could try to use the event to promote the sale of instruments of torture. The powerful Arms Export Control Committee had hoped to see the terms of the agreement between the company running Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), Clarion Events, and the government before the general election. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>SPORTS DIRECT IS BEING RUN LIKE 'BACKSTREET OUTFIT', MPS SAY</p> <p>The chairman of Sports Direct International Plc is presiding over a FTSE 100 company run like a "backstreet outfit" where executives made deals behind the board's back, withheld payments to force suppliers and landlords to the negotiating table and failed to consult with staff over the pre-pack administration of its fashion chain USC, according to MPs. (<a href="" title=""></a>)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz</strong></p> <p>ECONOMIC REPORTS</p> <p>Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:<br />GDP for Q4 at 8:30, consensus 2.4%<br />University of Michigan's consumer sentiment at 10:00, consensus 92.1<br />Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaks at San Francisco Fed conference at 3:45</p> <p>ANALYST RESEARCH</p> <p>Upgrades</p> <p>A. Schulman (SHLM) upgraded to Overweight from Sector Weight at KeyBanc<br />BB&amp;T (BBT) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital<br />Bunge (BG) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman<br />Ensign Group (ENSG) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo<br />Regions Financial (RF) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Compass Point<br />SunCoke Energy Partners (SXCP) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup</p> <p>Downgrades</p> <p>Alkermes (ALKS) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup<br />American Eagle (AEO) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Goldman<br />ArcelorMittal (MT) downgraded to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup<br />Diodes (DIOD) downgraded to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James<br />EMC (EMC) downgraded to Sector Perform from Outperform at Pacific Crest<br />Epizyme (EPZM) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup<br />FutureFuel (FF) downgraded Neutral at Roth Capital<br />GameStop (GME) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at B. Riley<br />MSC Industrial (MSM) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird<br />Power Integrations (POWI) downgraded to Market Perform at Raymond James<br />SanDisk (SNDK) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Evercore ISI<br />Semtech (SMTC) downgraded to Outperform from Strong Buy at Raymond James<br />Vantiv (VNTV) downgraded to Reduce from Neutral at SunTrust<br />WESCO (WCC) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird<br />World Acceptance (WRLD) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Macquarie</p> <p>Initiations</p> <p>Arista Networks (ANET) initiated with a Neutral at Guggenheim<br />Charles Schwab (SCHW) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital<br />Cisco (CSCO) initiated with a Neutral at Guggenheim<br />ClubCorp (MYCC) initiated with a Buy at Stifel<br />Colfax (CFX) initiated with a Market Perform at William Blair<br />Con-way (CNW) initiated with an Outperform at Macquarie<br />E-Trade (ETFC) initiated with an Outperform at RBC Capital<br />Esperion (ESPR) assumed with a Buy at Citigroup<br />F5 Networks (FFIV) initiated with a Buy at Guggenheim<br />FireEye (FEYE) initiated with a Market Perform at Raymond James<br />Heartland Express (HTLD) initiated with a Neutral at Macquarie<br />Infoblox (BLOX) initiated with a Buy at Guggenheim<br />Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) assumed with a Buy at Citigroup<br />Juniper (JNPR) initiated with a Neutral at Guggenheim<br />Knight Transportation (KNX) initiated with an Outperform at Macquarie<br />LabCorp (LH) initiated with an Outperform at JMP Securities<br />Morgan Stanley says Yahoo (YHOO) attractive way to buy Alibaba<br />Netgear (NTGR) initiated with a Neutral at Guggenheim<br />Novavax (NVAX) assumed with a Buy at Citigroup<br />Quest Diagnostics (DGX) initiated with a Market Perform at JMP Securities<br />Repsol (REPYY) initiated with an Underperform at Jefferies<br />Ruckus Wireless (RKUS) initiated with a Buy at Guggenheim<br />Sonus (SONS) initiated with a Neutral at Guggenheim<br />TD Ameritrade (AMTD) initiated with a Sector Perform at RBC Capital<br />The Medicines Co. (MDCO) assumed with a Neutral at Citigroup<br />Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT) initiated with a Neutral at Guggenheim<br />Yahoo (YHOO) initiated with an Overweight at Morgan Stanley<br />Zayo Group (ZAYO) initiated with an Overweight at JPMorgan</p> <p>COMPANY NEWS</p> <p>Yahoo (YHOO) approved additional share repurchase program of $2B<br />RBS (RBS) to sell internationally managed private banking and wealth management unitto UBP SA<br />Chevron (CVX) sold interest in Caltex Australia<br />Orexigen Therapeutics (OREX) said the European Commission granted marketing authorization for Mysimba<br />BlackRock (BLK), First Reserve to acquire equity stakes in PEMEX pipeline projects<br />GameStop (GME) sees FY software growth 4%-6%. The company also said it sees Q1 SSS growth 2.5%-5.5%&nbsp; </p> <p>EARNINGS</p> <p>Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:<br />ChinaCache (CCIH), Marathon Patent Group (MARA), Onconova (ONTX), Agile Therapeutics (AGRX), Roka Bioscience (ROKA), Gevo (GEVO), Cara Therapeutics (CARA), Minerva (NERV), OncoGenex (OGXI), Restoration Hardware (RH), Oxford Industries (OXM)</p> <p>Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:<br />GameStop (GME), Spark Energy (SPKE), Upland Software (UPLD)</p> <p>Restoration Hardware (RH) sees Q1 EPS 18c-20c, consensus 23c, sees FY15 EPS $2.95-$3.10, consensus $3.00<br />GameStop (GME) sees Q1 EPS 53c-60c, consensus 66c, sees FY15 EPS $3.60-$3.80, consensus $4.04<br />PolyOne (POL) targets double digit EPS expansion in 2015</p> <p>NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES</p> <p>Ben Harrington, former M&amp;A and Markets Editor at the Daily Telegraph and current editor of the blog Betaville, said that Shire (SHPG) is weighing a takeover of BioMarin (BMRN)<br />HP (HPQ) close to deal to sell control of H3C Technologies, WSJ reports<br />Facebook (FB) to test drone this summer, WSJ reports<br />Apple (AAPL) secretly acquired Acunu in 2013, Bloomberg reports<br />PetroChina (PTR) in active discussions to swap Canadian assets, Financial Times reports<br />Microsoft (MSFT) to push two inexpensive notebooks in mid-2015, DigiTimes reports</p> <p>SYNDICATE</p> <p>Applied DNA Sciences (APDN) files to sell common stock, warrants<br />Central Pacific (cpf) files to sell 7.6M shares of common stock for holders<br />Corporate Office Properties (OFC) files 3.86M common shares of beneficial interest<br />Jernigan Capital (JCAP) 5M share IPO priced at $20.00<br />Knightsbridge Shipping (VLCCF) files to sell 62M shares for holders<br />Terreno Realty (TRNO) files to sell common, preferred stock<br />TriplePoint Venture (TPVG) commences offering of 6.5M shares of common stock</p> Abenomics Apple Australia B+ Bank of England Blackrock China Citigroup Consumer Sentiment CSCO default E-Trade Evercore fixed Freedom of Information Act General Motors Iran Janet Yellen Japan Medicare Mercedes-Benz Morgan Stanley Nancy Pelosi national security New Normal Raymond James RBS recovery Regional Banks Regions Financial Restricted Stock Reuters Royal Bank of Scotland San Francisco Fed Toyota Wells Fargo Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:35:12 +0000 Tyler Durden 503903 at Futures Wipe Out Early Gains In Volatile Session As Dollar Resumes Climb; Oil Slides <p>After a few days of dollar weakness due to concerns that the Fed's rate hike intentions have been derailed following some undisputedly ugly economic data (perhaps the Fed should just make it clear there will never be rate hikes during the winter ever again) the USD has resumed its rise, and as a result risk assets, after surging early in the overnight session driven by the Nikkei225 and the Emini, the "strong dollar is bad for risk" trade has re-emerged, with the Nikkei dropping almost 500 points off its intraday highs, with US equity futures poised to open lower once more, sliding nearly 20 points in the overnight session, and surprising the BTFDers who have not seen five consecutive days of "risk-off" in a long time.</p> <p>Not helping the risk case is oil, which having soared this week on geopolitical concerns and fears the Yemen conflict may spread and closing higher for five consecutive days rebounding 13% off last Thursday’s levels with the five-day streak the highest since February 2014, has realized that&nbsp; there still is no excess demand, and inventory keeps building, as a result WTI has slid and is eyeing $50 support once more. According to Bloomberg, Brent, WTI fall ~$1 during early trading as fears over impact of Yemen conflict ease on low trading volume. Today we get another Baker Hughes U.S. oil rig count update, which may show the recent slowdown in rig shutterings has picked up. "Yesterday's price rise was a knee-jerk reaction to events in Yemen and mkt participants are now making a more sober assessment of the situation,” says Commerzbank commodity strategist Carsten Fritsch. “The risk of a supply disruption resulting from Saudi-led bombing in Yemen is very small."</p> <p>An extension of the USD’s gains this morning caused another slide in EUR/USD, which first caused stops to be taken out at 1.0850 before a test of 1.0800 and EUR/GBP to fall below 0.7300. Some noted that further EUR selling could be seen into month-end as investors maintain hedge ratios for European assets that they hold, and the fall in the EUR caused a temporary lift for European stocks however the indices have drifted lower given a distinct lack of news this morning. Crude futures have seen selling overnight and into the European open as concerns over the situation in Yemen dissipate and a stronger USD caused further selling across the commodity complex, leading to a break below USD 1,200 in spot gold. This commodity selling has caused the FTSE to underperform its European peers and is the only major index in European to trade in the red.</p> <p>Although Europe has been quiet with no tier 1 data releases, there will be tier 1 releases from the US with the 3rd reading of Q4 GDP due for release and is expected to be revised up to around 2.5%. Fed’s Yellen is also due on the docket and markets will be looking out for any reaction to recent speeches made by her Fed colleagues.</p> <p>Asian stocks traded mixed following a lacklustre Wall Street close which saw the S&amp;P 500 fall for a fourth consecutive session. The Nikkei 225 (-1.2%) saw some selling late on in the session as JPY strengthened for a third consecutive day, although this was not fully sustained. This also followed tame Japanese CPI data, which when discounted from last year’s sales-tax hike, printed flat for the first time since May 2013 (Y/Y 2.0% vs. Exp. 2.1% (Prev. 2.2%). Elsewhere, both the Hang Seng (-0.03%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.6%) rose after shrugging off poor earnings from PetroChina and ICBC, the latter reporting its first Q/Q profit decrease since 2011.</p> <p>Gilts are seen underperforming once again this morning as focus remains firmly fixed on May’s general election but also as profit taking into the weekend is noted, and ahead of today’s March future expiry. Given the recent comments from several BoE members ahead of their self-imposed election blackout period from March 30th, and comments this morning from Governor Carney who supported the idea that the next rate move will likely to higher, short-term rates have seen a small lift. Bunds have seen no direction this morning after a quiet Asian session which saw light flows particularly ahead of the Japanese fiscal year-end. </p> <p>WTI and Brent futures saw selling overnight in a pull back from yesterday’s strong rally and as concerns over the situation in Yemen begin to dissipate a little. A rally in the USD this morning has also led to selling in precious metals, leading to a break below USD 1,200/oz in spot gold and USD 17/oz in spot silver. It is worth noting there are several expiries this morning:</p> <ul> <li>Palladium March'15 Futures Expiry (1700GMT/1200CDT) </li> <li>Platinum March'15 Futures Expiry (1705GMT/1205CDT) </li> <li>Copper March'15 Futures Expiry (1720GMT/1220CDT) </li> <li>Silver March'15 Futures Expiry (1725GMT/1225CDT) </li> <li>Gold March'15 Futures Expiry (1730GMT/1230CDT) </li> <li>Henry Hub Natural Gas April'15 Futures Expiry (1830GMT/1330CDT)</li> </ul> <p><em>In summary: </em>European shares rise with the health care and travel &amp; leisure sectors outperforming and basic resources, oil &amp; gas underperforming. European shrs trade higher as euro weakens for 3rd day this week. U.K. house-price growth eased for 7th month; oil pares&nbsp; surge from earlier this week. The Swiss and French markets are the best-performing larger bourses, Dutch the worst. The euro is weaker against the dollar. Japanese 10yr bond yields rise; German yields increase. Commodities decline, with nickel, WTI crude underperforming and wheat outperforming.U.S. Michigan confidence, GDP, personal consumption, core PCE due later.</p> <p><strong>Market Wrap:</strong></p> <ul> <li>S&amp;P 500 futures down 0.2% to 2043.9</li> <li>Stoxx 600 up 0.5% to 396.4</li> <li>US 10Yr yield little changed at 1.99%</li> <li>German 10Yr yield up 1bps to 0.22%</li> <li>MSCI Asia Pacific down 0.6% to 146.6</li> <li>Gold spot down 0.5% to $1198.3/oz</li> <li>42.8% of Stoxx 600 members gain, 55% decline</li> <li>Eurostoxx 50 little changed, FTSE 100 -0.5%, CAC 40 +0.3%, DAX +0.1%, IBEX -0.1%, FTSEMIB -0.3%, SMI +0.5%</li> <li>Asian stocks fall with the ASX outperforming and the Nikkei underperforming.</li> <li>MSCI Asia Pacific down 0.6% to 146.6</li> <li>Nikkei 225 down 1%, Hang Seng little changed, Kospi down 0.1%, Shanghai Composite up 0.2%, ASX up 0.7%, Sensex little changed</li> <li>RBS Sells Coutts International to UBP in Swiss Retreat</li> <li>Chevron Seeks Over $3.6 Billion for Caltex Australia Stake</li> <li>TeliaSonera Expects Extended EU Probe of Danish Phone Merger</li> <li>Euro down 0.6% to $1.0819</li> <li>Dollar Index up 0.3% to 97.73</li> <li>Italian 10Yr yield little changed at 1.31%</li> <li>Spanish 10Yr yield up 1bps to 1.27%</li> <li>French 10Yr yield up 1bps to 0.5%</li> <li>S&amp;P GSCI Index down 0.9% to 409.7</li> <li>Brent Futures down 1.2% to $58.5/bbl, WTI Futures down 1.8% to $50.5/bbl</li> <li>LME 3m Copper down 0.9% to $6117/MT</li> <li>LME 3m Nickel down 2.1% to $13415/MT</li> <li>Wheat futures up 0.4% to 501.3 USd/bu</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Bulletin Headline Summary From RanSquawk and Bloomberg:</strong></p> <ul> <li>European markets trade in quiet conditions but strength in the USD leads to selling pressure in the EUR and a slide in commodities prices</li> <li>Recent comments from BoE's Carney, who said that that he thinks it is likely for the next move in rates is likely to be higher, has led to strength in GBP against other major currencies</li> <li>Treasuries higher overnight, headed for weekly decline amid weak 5Y and 7Y auctions; market’s focus on Yellen speech at 3:35pm ET today, ISM Manufacturing and payrolls reports next week.</li> <li>Saudi-led coalition forces struck an air force base near an oil field east of Yemen’s capital on Friday, destroying a radar station as the offensive against Shiite rebels in the country entered its second day</li> <li>China’s biggest banks are accelerating cuts to their dividend payouts as bad debts pile up from struggling exporters in the Pearl River Delta, coal companies in the nation’s west and manufacturers in the Bohai Rim near Beijing</li> <li>China’s second-largest loan-guarantee company has halted operations and replaced its chairman as managers probe past deals for evidence that it took on too much financial risk, said people familiar with the matter</li> <li>ECB Governing Council member Jens Weidmann says in speech in Frankfurt that “sovereign debt needs to be backed by capital, and exposure to a single sovereign must be capped, just as is the case for any private debtor”</li> <li>The Fed is now focusing on the $25t shadow banking system as tighter bank regs prompts more borrowers to seek funding through&nbsp; money-market mutual funds, hedge funds, brokerages and other entities that face fewer restrictions</li> <li>BOJ’s key inflation gauge ground to a halt as consumer spending slumped, highlighting weakness in the nation’s recovery from recession</li> <li>Longer-dated JGBs slid after demand to sell the securities to the central bank strengthened on Friday, driving 30Y yields toward their steepest jump in two months</li> <li>The U.S. Senate adopted a fiscal 2016 budget that calls for $5.1 trillion in spending cuts to achieve balance in 10 years, while avoiding proposals to partially privatize Medicare as many Republicans brace for re-election</li> <li>Investigators are focusing on whether a “personal life crisis” led a Germanwings pilot to intentionally crash a plane into the French Alps on Tuesday, Bild Zeitung reported, citing unidentified security officials</li> <li>Sovereign 10Y yields higher. Asian, European stocks mostly lower, U.S. equity-index futures decline. Crude, gold and copper rise</li> </ul> <p><strong>US Event Calendar</strong></p> <ul> <li>8:30am: GDP Annualized q/q, 4Q revised, est. 2.4% (prior 2.2%) <ul> <li>Personal Consumption, 4Q, est. 4.4% (prior 4.2%)</li> <li>GDP Price Index, 4Q, est. 0.1% (prior 0.1%)</li> <li>Core PCE q/q, 4Q, est. 1.1% (prior 1.1%)</li> </ul> </li> <li>10:00am: University of Michigan Consumer, March final, est. 92 (prior 91.2) <ul> <li>UMich Current Conditions, March (prior 103)</li> <li>UMich Expectations, March (prior 83.7)</li> <li>UMich 1 Yr Inflation, March (prior 3%)</li> <li>UMich 5-10 Yr Inflation, March (prior 2.8%)</li> </ul> </li> <li>3:45pm: Fed’s Yellen speaks in San Francisco</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>DB's Jim Reid completes the overnight event recap</strong></p> <p>Just as the market seems to be pushing back on themes that have worked in 2015 so far prompting a difficult few days for markets, geopolitical developments over the last 36 hours have added to the confusion. Indeed yesterday’s headlines have brought the oil market back into the headlights, as air strikes in Yemen has caused a surge in oil prices over the last two days. Starting with the price action, WTI (+4.51%) and Brent (+4.80%) yesterday rallied to $51.43/bbl and $59.19/bbl respectively. WTI in particular has now closed higher for five consecutive days and has rebounded 13% off last Thursday’s levels with the five-day streak the highest since February 2014. The streak hasn’t been enough to push WTI (-3.72%) back into positive territory YTD just yet, however yesterday’s move did help Brent move +3.24% for the year so far. A Saudi-Arabia led coalition had launched the attacks against Shiite Houthi rebels in the Yemen capital Sanaa, which have come in response to a request from the Yemen President Hadi. Yemen’s foreign minister, Yassin, was reported as saying that the airstrikes were welcome in comments on Saudi TV, while the Houthi rebels have since responded by releasing rockets into Saudi territory (Bloomberg). The BBC has since reported that President Hadi has fled to Saudi Arabia. </p> <p>Despite being a relatively small oil producer by global standards (39th largest producer according to Bloomberg), the country is geographically located next to the Bab el-Mandeb straight which attracts a more significant number of oil shipments, with the FT reporting that almost 7% of global oil maritime trade passes through the Strait. Concern in the market is emanating from worries of disruption in oil movement along the Strait, however news that the US is providing logistical and intelligence support is leading to hopes that the route will be secured (Bloomberg). Clearly, however, geopolitical tensions are rising in the area and will likely stay elevated in the near term. </p> <p>US equities were choppy yesterday as the S&amp;P 500 closed 0.24% lower, having crossed between gains and losses 20 times during the session. The fourth consecutive day of losses meanwhile takes the index back into negative territory YTD (-0.13%). Despite the rally in oil markets, energy stocks (-0.20%) were little moved. Treasury weakness was also a theme yesterday, supported in part by a particularly weak auction. 10y benchmark yields closed 6.4bps higher yesterday at 1.989% while 30y yields closed up 7.2bps. Yesterday’s $29bn sale of 7y notes meanwhile attracted the lowest demand since May 2009. This in fact follows a weak 5y auction on Wednesday with similar low levels of demand. The Dollar closed firmer yesterday, with the broader DXY 0.47% higher.</p> <p>It was a better day data wise in the US yesterday. Employment indicators continue to impress, with initial jobless claims falling 9k in the week ending 21st March to 282k (vs. 290k expected). This lowered the 4-week average to 297k. The March services PMI reading was also impressive, rising 1.5pts from last month’s print to 58.6 (vs. 57.0 expected) to the highest level since September last year. The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index was the one disappointment however, with the March print of -4 falling 5pts from the previous reading and coming in below consensus. The Fed’s Lockhart followed on from his comments earlier this week by saying that the US economy is currently in a solid shape to deal with a tightening in monetary policy. </p> <p>Before all this, data in the UK attracted a decent amount of attention yesterday, lending further support to the hawks in particular. Better than expected retail sales generated the headlines. The ex-auto reading of +5.1% yoy was well ahead of the +4.2% expected for February, while the headline print of +5.7% yoy was a full percentage point ahead of consensus. The result was a selloff in Gilts, as 5y (+9.4bps), 10y (+10.2bps) and 30y (+7.3bps) yields all climbed. Equities weakened also with the FTSE 100 closing -1.37%. Meanwhile, with one eye also on the upcoming elections in the UK, following last night’s televised debate between PM Cameron and Labour leader Miliband, an ICM poll conducted shortly afterwards for the Guardian newspaper said that 54% believed Cameron performed the stronger of the two. I stayed up late (for me) to watch it and the main conclusion I have is that I'm very tired now! </p> <p>With one eye on the tensions in the Middle East, equity markets elsewhere in Europe closed softer yesterday. The Stoxx 600 (-0.86%), DAX (-0.18%) and CAC (-0.29%) all finished lower. Bond markets were firmer however bucking the big moves in the US and the UK as 10y Bunds finished 0.5bps lower while yields in the periphery were 2-4bps tighter. Data in the region offered few surprises. German consumer confidence (10.0 vs. 9.8 expected) printed a touch above market while the final Q4 GDP reading in France was unchanged at +0.2% yoy. Money supply data for the Euro-area meanwhile was softer than expected (+4.0% yoy vs. 4.3% expected). </p> <p>Elsewhere, ECB President Draghi said yesterday that he’s confident that the QE programme is on target to reach its €60bn target in the first month of implementation, whilst also reiterating that so far ‘monetary policy is reinforcing the cyclical recovery’ (Reuters). Meanwhile, over in Greece the latest data out of the Bank of Greece underlined the stress in the domestic banking sector of late. Data provided until the end of February showed that bank deposits fell to their lowest in 10 years, with 5% withdrawn in February alone. In the three months ending February, 15% of deposits have been withdrawn. Given that the ECB has continued to raise the ceiling on the ELA facility in March, it’s likely that bank deposits have continued to remain under similar outflow pressure. </p> <p>Turning to Asia, focus this morning has been on Japan where the latest inflation numbers are out. Headline CPI of +2.2% yoy for February was marginally below expectations of +2.3% while the core (ex. fresh food) and core-core (ex. food and energy) also both came in one-tenth of a percent below consensus at +2.0% each. Excluding the effect of the consumption tax hike, headline CPI was flat yoy, core was -0.1% yoy and core-core was +0.3% yoy. Our colleagues in Japan noted after the release that they remain skeptical that the fall in prices triggers additional easing for multiple reasons including the already sizeable QE programme in place, the temporary effect of falling energy prices, continuing economic expansion and the BoJ’s emphasis on a rise in purchasing power from the falling oil prices and on continuation of the virtuous cycle. The Nikkei (-1.67%) has reversed earlier gains on the back of the data, while the Hang Seng (-0.06%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.72%) are mixed. Credit markets generally across Asia are a couple of basis points firmer.</p> <p>It’s a quiet calendar in Europe this morning with just the February import price index for Germany due, along with March house price data in the UK and French consumer confidence data. Attention will be on the US this afternoon however. The third reading of the Q4 GDP print for the economy is due, with the market expecting a +2.4% SAAR print while the associated personal consumption and core PCE will also be released. We round the week off with the final March reading for the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.</p> Australia BOE Bond Consumer Confidence Consumer Sentiment Copper CPI Crude Equity Markets fixed France Germany Gilts Greece headlines Initial Jobless Claims Japan Jim Reid Medicare Michigan Middle East Monetary Policy Money Supply Natural Gas Newspaper Nikkei Personal Consumption Precious Metals Price Action Purchasing Power RANSquawk recovery Reuters Saudi Arabia Shadow Banking University Of Michigan Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:52:57 +0000 Tyler Durden 503902 at Invest in Food <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="">......Submitted by Bullion Bulls Canada - Written by Jeff Nielson&nbsp;-&nbsp;(click for original)</a></strong></em></span></p> <p>(Independantly written)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At first glance, the title to this commentary seems facile, especially to those readers in higher income brackets. The reality, however, is that “investing in food” is a risk-free means of generating an annual return on one’s investment that would likely exceed the return one could earn on almost any other investment – despite the fact that nearly all other asset classes carry significant risks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Indeed, with many asset classes currently at extreme “bubble” levels in their valuations (notably stocks,bonds, and real estate), the term “risk” is gross understatement. Putting any <em>new</em> money into any such assets (or simply <em>keeping</em> one’s wealth exposed to these sectors) is nothing less than financial suicide. In comparison to financial suicide; the opportunity for a risk-free return on one’s investing <em>today</em> obviously merits further scrutiny.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="img credit" width="500" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is in this environment of extreme financial risk and perpetually spiraling food prices where we consider the proposition of food as an investment asset class. We begin by looking at the “fundamentals” of this market/investment class. And what we see (from this perspective) is extremely encouraging: food prices consistently soaring by roughly 20% per year, and significantly more for some categories of food (notably meat products).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With soaring food costs being a serious drain on the budgets of most families, our challenge is to find some way of turning this financial drain into a means of preserving/protecting our wealth: by investing in food. Regardless of one’s economic bracket; this is an investment opportunity which can be pursued by all of us.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even those living in small apartments almost certainly have at least one closet whose space can be ‘sacrificed’ in order to capitalize on this risk-free opportunity. For those with more expansive residences; perhaps they have an entire room (rooms?) which can be devoted to “food investment”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The proposition behind investing in food is simple. With all of us being food-consumers; we would greatly benefit by being able to pay “today’s prices” for particular food products, rather than the inflated prices of next month, six months from now, a year from now, etc. The longer we were/are able to continue paying today’s price, the greater the future savings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is this “future savings” which represents the risk-free return on our investment. At that point; the total, potential return on our investment is the product of four factors:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1) The total amount of space available for food storage (along with the types/categories of food one is capable of storing).</p> <p>2) The total “shelf life” of particular categories of food products.</p> <p>3) The annual “food inflation” rate.</p> <p>4) Our own monthly/annual food consumption.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="ezcol ezcol-one-third"> <p>With the majority of people now living in multi-unit housing of some sort, where the total living space is relatively modest; the first factor may be the greatest limitation on the potential return from this investment. For those (more fortunate) individuals able to devote entire rooms (or perhaps a garage) to such investing; the earning/savings potential will be significantly greater.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is also the issue of what specific types of food products one is capable of storing. Obviously “non-perishable goods” is the general category of food product which immediately comes to mind. However, for those individuals ready/willing/able to devote freezer-space to their food investing, suddenly the opportunity for savings and earnings is considerably expanded.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With meat/fish/poultry being near the top of the list when it comes to the food-inflation spiral; having a large freezer available for investing expands this investment opportunity. Indeed, for the average family; the annual savings on their food bill from a freezer full of meat would likely pay for the freezer itself, with the “investor” then able to earn an additional, annual return from this category of investing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This brings us to our second factor, as we consider the practical parameters/limitations of investing in food. Many non-perishable goods can be stored almost indefinitely. Some can only be (safely) stored for a year or two. And in the case of food we store in a freezer; the shelf-life is likely no more than a year, and considerably less for many freezer goods.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The first two factors define our “capacity” for investing in food: total storage space available, and the length of time those goods can be stored (and still consumed). Once the food investor has calculated (and utilized) his/her capacity for this form of investing, our savings/profit becomes a simple function of the food-inflation rate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The higher the inflation rate on the particular categories of goods we have stored, the greater our savings/profit. Thus this makes it incumbent on the food investor to carefully consider how best to allocate available storage space, and (for some) the available <em>dollars</em> to fund their food-investing. The better the job that the investor does on choosing his/her categories of products for storage, the greater the return.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course even with infinite space/dollars available for food investment, there is a final, practical reality which will act as a constraint for most of us when it comes to food investment: our own consumption-rate. Obviously, if we “invest” in a five-year supply of a particular food product which can only be stored safely for two years, we have misallocated funds, as some of our “investment” would spoil before we could consume it – and lock-in our profit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="food_gold" width="100%" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11242" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We also need to consider the bulk of particular goods. A particular non-perishable item may be able to be safely stored for several years, but if it’s extremely bulky, it still might represent a “poor investment”. Conversely, items such as spices represent relatively high value/savings, while requiring minimal space, and have an extremely long shelf-life. It is partly for this reason that <em>spices were quasi-currencies</em> in previous, historical eras.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For homeowners, who have considerable <em>living space</em>, but (for whatever reason) have little storage space available for food investing; building a structure for food storage, such as a shed or (expanded) garage is a cost outlay which would likely pay for itself over a relatively short-term period – at which point the storage space would then generate a permanent, risk-free return.</p> </div> <div class="ezcol ezcol-one-third ezcol-last"> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One qualification must be added here, in order to account for the limited down-side to investing in food. With food prices soaring at an uneven rate; should we happen to purchase a particular category of food product at the peak of some spike in price, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that prices for that category of food could <em>potentially decline</em> – temporarily – thus reducing our overall return.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, opposite to that very limited quasi-risk, we face the very real prospect of an imminent explosion in food prices, which would dwarf even the horrific spiral of (in particular) the past 10 years. Regular readers have seen the chart below many times in the past:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="100%" border="0" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This insane, suicidal explosion in the U.S. monetary base does not <em>suggest</em> that the U.S. will face hyperinflation (of the U.S. dollar) in some relatively near-term horizon; it guarantees it. As we see the Euro-zone just (proudly) announce the conjuration of more than a trillion, new units of its own funny-money, and as we see the corrupt/incompetent Harper regime relentlessly destroy the Canadian dollar; obviously other Western populations will meet a similar fate with their own, paper funny-money.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While we can sacrifice consumption of many categories of goods in the face of a hyperinflationary spiral, we cannot avoid food consumption. At some point (likely between the end of this year and the middle of 2016); we will face an economic crisis characterized by the deflationary crashes of all the bubble-assets, with ‘sympathetic’ crashes for <em>most</em> other asset classes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, what readers need to understand is that a purely “deflationary” crash is no longer possible for thebankrupt regimes of the Western world. In order for any national economy to deflate; it must have <em>savings it can cannibalize</em>, in order to survive that deflationary shock (as was the case in “the Great Depression”).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The debtor-regimes of the West not only have no savings, most are already hopelessly insolvent, and teetering on bankruptcy, despite the lies to the contrary by the Corporate media, and our own, corrupt governments. In the revenue crisis which accompanies any deflationary crash; <strong>our insolvent governments will have two – and only two – choices</strong>: declare outright bankruptcy, or conjure-up their funny-money in quantities that dwarf even the sickening spike represented by the previous chart.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Such insanity would guarantee a full, hyperinflationary death-spiral in a matter of weeks, or several months at most, despite the near omnipotence of the One Bank when it comes to its currency manipulation. Indeed, this is why the less-corrupt East is not only busily crafting <strong>its own parallel financial system</strong>, next to the doomed financial/monetary Ponzi-scheme currently operated by the West, it’s about to assume control of the new, reserve currency: China’s renminbi.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For Western inhabitants, about to be devastated by a financial/economic cataclysm which is literally beyond the comprehension of any of us; we have two choices when it comes to protecting ourselves (apart fromsignificant holdings of gold and silver). Invest in food, or move to China.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong><a href="">......Submitted by Bullion Bulls Canada - Written by Jeff Nielson&nbsp;-&nbsp;(click for original)</a></strong></em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;">(Independantly written)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> Canadian Dollar China ETC Hyperinflation Monetary Base Real estate Reality Renminbi Reserve Currency Fri, 27 Mar 2015 08:54:43 +0000 Sprott Money 503883 at Government Report Finds DEA Agents Had "Sex Parties" With Prostitutes Hired By Drug Cartels <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog</em></a>,</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>Although some of the DEA agents participating in these parties denied it, the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds. A foreign officer also alleged providing protection for the DEA agents&rsquo; weapons and property during the parties, the report said. The foreign officers further alleged that in addition to soliciting prostitutes, three DEA SSAs [special agents] in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>* A deputy U.S. Marshal &ldquo;entered into a romantic relationship&rdquo; with a fugitive&rsquo;s spouse and would not break off the relationship for more than a year, even after being told by supervisors to end it.</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>* An ATF &ldquo;Director of Industry Operations&rdquo; had &ldquo;solicited consensual sex with anonymous partners and modified a hotel room door to facilitate sexual play.&rdquo; The ATF employee even disabled a hotel&rsquo;s fire detection system, and when caught by the hotel, said he had done it before.</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ndash; From the Politico article:&nbsp;<a href="">DEA Agents Had &lsquo;Sex Parties&rsquo; with Prostitutes, Watchdog Says</a></p> </blockquote> <p>There&rsquo;s no&nbsp;agency in government more vehemently opposed to ending the immoral and&nbsp;counterproductive &ldquo;war on drugs&rdquo; than the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Now we know why.</p> <p>From <a href=""><em>Politico</em></a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly had &ldquo;sex parties&rdquo; with prostitutes hired by drug cartels in Colombia, according to a new inspector general report released by the Justice Department on Thursday.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>In addition, Colombian police officers allegedly provided &ldquo;protection for the DEA agents&rsquo; weapons and property during the parties,&rdquo; the report states. Ten DEA agents later admitted attending the parties, and <strong>some of the agents received suspensions of two to 10 days.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>Suspensions of two to ten days. That&rsquo;ll teach &lsquo;em.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>The Oversight panel is also investigating allegations into the Secret Service that agents there hired prostitutes in Colombia while advancing a trip for President Barack Obama.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Moreover,the report states that DEA, ATF and the Marshals Service repeatedly failed to report all risky or improper sexual behavior to security personnel at those agencies.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>&ldquo;The foreign officer allegedly arranged &lsquo;sex parties&rsquo; with prostitutes funded by the local drug cartels for these DEA agents at their government-leased quarters, over a period of several years,&rdquo; the IG report says.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&ldquo;Although some of the DEA agents participating in these parties denied it, the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds. A foreign officer also alleged providing protection for the DEA agents&rsquo; weapons and property during the parties,&rdquo; the report said. &ldquo;The foreign officers further alleged that in addition to soliciting prostitutes, three DEA SSAs [special agents] in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The IG&rsquo;s office asserts that DEA officials did not fully comply with their requests for information during the probe.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>* A deputy U.S. Marshal &ldquo;entered into a romantic relationship&rdquo; with a fugitive&rsquo;s spouse and would not break off the relationship for more than a year, even after being told by supervisors to end it;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>* An ATF &ldquo;Director of Industry Operations&rdquo; had &ldquo;solicited consensual sex with anonymous partners and modified a hotel room door to facilitate sexual play.&rdquo; The ATF employee even disabled a hotel&rsquo;s fire detection system, and when caught by the hotel, said he had done it before;</em></p> </blockquote> <p>While these agents will almost undoubtedly receive no real punishment, perhaps some good will come from this:<strong> End the idiotic war on drugs.</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="397" height="198" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barack Obama Fri, 27 Mar 2015 03:34:25 +0000 Tyler Durden 503866 at Another Oligarch Preaches To The Peasants: Charlie Munger Says "Prepare For Harder World" <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog</em></a>,</p> <p>While several exceptionally wealthy and successful people have admirably come out and spoken passionately&nbsp;of&nbsp;the broken nature of financial markets and the political system, as well as the threat this poses to society in general (think Paul Tudor Jones and Nick Hanauer), there have been several examples of oligarchs coming out and conversely demonstrating their complete disconnect from reality, as well as a disdain for the masses within a framework of incredible arrogance.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve commented on such figures in the past, with the two most popular posts on the subject being:</p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to A Billionaire Lectures Serfs in Davos – Claims “America’s Lifestyle Expectations are Far Too High”">A Billionaire Lectures Serfs in Davos &ndash; Claims &ldquo;America&rsquo;s Lifestyle Expectations are Far Too High&rdquo;</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to An Open Letter to Sam Zell: Why Your Statements are Delusional and Dangerous">An Open Letter to Sam Zell: Why Your Statements are Delusional and Dangerous</a></em></p> <p>The latest example comes from Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett&rsquo;s right hand man, who tends to demonstrate an incredible capacity for verbal diarrhea. Recall his commentary on gold: <a href="">&ldquo;gold is a great thing to sew onto your garments if you&rsquo;re a Jewish family in Vienna in 1939.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</a></p> <p><img alt="Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 12.37.58 PM" class="alignnone wp-image-22597" height="228" src="" width="340" /></p> <p>Moving along, Mr. Munger provided&nbsp;some&nbsp;typically insensitive commentary at an event yesterday in Los Angeles. <a href=""><em>Bloomberg</em> reports</a> that:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>(Bloomberg) &mdash; Charles Munger, who became a billionaire while helping Warren Buffett build Berkshire Hathaway Inc., <strong>predicted it&rsquo;s going to get tougher for consumers to maintain their standard of living in coming decades. </strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>&ldquo;We should all be prepared for adjusting to a world that is harder,&rdquo;</strong> Munger, 91, said Wednesday at an event in Los Angeles, in response to a question about the increase in the size of the Federal Reserve&rsquo;s balance sheet since the 2008 financial crisis. &ldquo;You can count on the purchasing power of money to go down over time. And you can almost count that you&rsquo;ll have more trouble in the next 50 years than the last.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&ldquo;Somebody my age has lived through the best and easiest period that ever happened in the history of the world &mdash; the lowest death rates, the highest investment production, biggest increases in most people&rsquo;s standards of living,&rdquo; Munger said. <strong>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re unhappy with what you&rsquo;ve had over the last 50 years, you have an unfortunate misappraisal of life.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>There&rsquo;s a&nbsp;staggering&nbsp;amount&nbsp;of offensiveness in such few words. First off, he says that:&nbsp;&ldquo;<em>We should <strong>all</strong> be prepared for adjusting to a world that is harder.&rdquo;</em> Who is included in the word &ldquo;all&rdquo; here. Certainly not his fellow oligarchs, who already bailed themselves out in incredible fashion and have been spending the years since protecting themselves from the horrible future they&rsquo;ve created. No, he is speaking to the masses, the plebs, the serfs, the peasants, the ruled. He is telling them tough luck, just try to avoid cannibalism in the future. Meanwhile, if you get close to my castle I&rsquo;ll have you shot down like a dog.</p> <p>He then shows his cards once again with the statement:&nbsp;<em><strong>&ldquo;</strong>If you&rsquo;re unhappy with what you&rsquo;ve had over the last 50 years, you have an unfortunate misappraisal of life.&rdquo; </em></p> <p>50 years of life?<em>&nbsp;</em>What about those us who haven&rsquo;t had the pleasure of being alive so long. What about the&nbsp;millennials, the teenagers, and the babies&nbsp;being&nbsp;born&nbsp;right now? He couldn&rsquo;t give a shit, which is exactly why he and his buddies went out of their way to protect the wealthy, older generations with their bailouts in 2008/09. Conveniently, this is the exact demographic he belongs to.</p> <p>His comments are particularity striking when you take them in context of yesterday&rsquo;s article from the Wall Street Journal:&nbsp;<a href="">Executive Pensions Are Swelling at Top Companies</a>. If you think these guys are going to be dealing with the &ldquo;hard times&rdquo; ahead like everyone else, think again.</p> <p>From the <a href=""><em>WSJ</em></a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>Top U.S. executives get paid a lot to do their jobs. Now many are also getting a big boost in what they will be paid after they stop working.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Executive pensions are swelling at such companies as&nbsp;<a class="t-company" href="">General Electric</a>&nbsp;Co.,&nbsp;<a class="t-company" href="">United Technologies</a>&nbsp;Corp.&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a class="t-company" href="">Coca-Cola</a>&nbsp;Co.&nbsp;While a significant chunk of the increase is the result of arcane pension accounting around issues like low interest rates and longer lifespans, the rest reflects very real improvements in the executives&rsquo; retirement prospects.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>New mortality tables released last fall by the American Society of Actuaries extended life expectancies by about two years. That, as well as low year-end interest rates, helped push pension gains higher than many companies had expected. T<strong>he result is much higher current values for plans with terms like guaranteed annual payouts, which are no longer offered to most rank-and-file workers.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>Note that these guaranteed annual payouts are&nbsp;<strong><em>no longer offered to most rank-and-file workers.</em>&nbsp;</strong>There are&nbsp;peasants and there are oligarchs. The peasants are the ones Munger speaks to.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong><em><strong>GE Chief Executive&nbsp;Jeff Immelt&rsquo;s compensation rose 88% last year to $37.3 million.</strong> Meanwhile, excluding $18.4 million in pension gains, his pay actually fell slightly to $18.9 million.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>In all, Mr. Immelt&rsquo;s pension is valued at about $4.8 million a year for life.</strong> The company puts its current value at about $70 million, up from around $52 million a year ago.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>At&nbsp;Lockheed Martin&nbsp;Corp., CEO&nbsp;Marillyn Hewson&rsquo;s total pay rose 34% to $33.7 million last year, with $15.8 million of that stemming from pension gains. An extra column in the proxy statement&rsquo;s compensation table strips out those gains, showing her pay up about 13% to $17.9 million.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Executive pensions generally don&rsquo;t consume the attention that pensions for the rank and file do. For years, as costs of traditional pension plans have risen amid low interest rates and longer lifespans, <strong>big companies have been closing them to new employees or even freezing benefits in place, often continuing with only a 401(k) plan for all but the oldest workers.</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Last June, Lockheed Martin told its nonunion employees that it would stop reflecting salary increases in their pension benefits starting next year, and that the benefits would stop growing with additional years of work starting in 2020.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Just in case you needed further evidence of how all &ldquo;public&rdquo; policy, especially the actions of the Federal Reserve, are specifically designed to enrich the 0.01% at the expense of everyone else, let&rsquo;s take a look at some excerpts from a CNBC article published today:&nbsp;<a href="">Fed Policies Have Cost Savers $470 Billion</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>The Federal Reserve&rsquo;s efforts to stimulate the U.S. economy after the financial crisis ended up costing savers nearly half a trillion dollars in interest income, according to report released Thursday.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Since the central bank dropped interest rates to near zero at the end of 2008, savers have labored under plain-vanilla bank accounts and money market funds that have yielded close to nothing. <strong>Critics have long said the Fed&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">quantitative easing</a>&nbsp;efforts have boosted asset prices, particularly in the stock market, but exacted severe costs across other parts of the economy.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>If QE really helps everyone, then why has income inequality exploded? </strong>The answer, of course, is that QE picked winners and losers. Naturally, the winners have been the oligarchs, and the losers have been&nbsp;everyone else.</p> <p><img alt="Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 12.24.50 PM" class="alignnone wp-image-22593" height="448" src="" width="422" /></p> <p>Thanks for playing.</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><em>For related articles, see:</em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to As the Middle Class Evaporates, Global Oligarchs Plan Their Escape from the Impoverished Pleb Masses">As the Middle Class Evaporates, Global Oligarchs Plan Their Escape from the Impoverished Pleb Masses</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to Just Another Tale from the Oligarch Recovery – $100 Million Homes Being Built on Spec">Just Another Tale from the Oligarch Recovery &ndash; $100 Million Homes Being Built on Spec</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to The Pitchforks are Coming…– A Dire Warning from a Member of the 0.01%">The Pitchforks are Coming&hellip;&ndash; A Dire Warning from a Member of the 0.01%</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to A Billionaire Lectures Serfs in Davos – Claims “America’s Lifestyle Expectations are Far Too High”">A Billionaire Lectures Serfs in Davos &ndash; Claims &ldquo;America&rsquo;s Lifestyle Expectations are Far Too High&rdquo;</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to An Open Letter to Sam Zell: Why Your Statements are Delusional and Dangerous">An Open Letter to Sam Zell: Why Your Statements are Delusional and Dangerous</a></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="454" height="368" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Berkshire Hathaway Charlie Munger Davos Federal Reserve General Electric Jeff Immelt Paul Tudor Jones Proxy Statement Purchasing Power Quantitative Easing Reality recovery Sam Zell Wall Street Journal Warren Buffett Fri, 27 Mar 2015 02:30:35 +0000 Tyler Durden 503887 at