en Another Step Towards The Sovietization Of American Media <p><a href="">Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation,</a></p> <p>This week the US Department of Justice Criminal Division forced the Russian-funded television network RT (formerly Russia Today) to register as a &ldquo;foreign agent&rdquo; under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Failure to comply would have risked arrest of RT&rsquo;s management and seizure of its assets. The move comes on the heels of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Senators&rsquo; recent demands</a>&nbsp;that terrified tech giants Twitter, Facebook, and Google&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">act as ideological filters</a>.</p> <p>With no discernable defenders among America&rsquo;s media establishment, RT rightly denounced the selective FARA mandate as an attack on media freedom &ndash; which it is. But <strong>more ominous is what the move against RT says about America&rsquo;s rulers&rsquo; further intention to limit the sources of information available to its subjects</strong>.</p> <p>As&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute</a>&nbsp;writes:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;RT America is a news organization operating in the United States that is funded at least partly by a foreign government. So is the BBC. So is Deutsche Welle, France24, Al-Jazeera, and numerous other foreign media organizations. It is assumed that they all to a degree reflect the editorial interests&nbsp;of those who pay the bills.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;The same is true with other, non-state funded&nbsp;media outlets, of course. It&rsquo;s up to us to factor these things in when we consume media. That&rsquo;s what it means to be a free people.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;A core value in a free society is that our own government has zero power over what we read, what we watch, how we think, how we come to interpret current events, the conclusions we draw based on these inputs, and so on. These are private matters over which any government that is not tyrannical should have no sway.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;The real insidiousness of tyrannical systems is that the government most lasciviously seeks control over most private spaces &mdash; including the most private space called our brain, our intellect, our conscience. We must be free to follow our interests down whatever path they may lead us so that we may reach our own conclusions and then perhaps test them ourselves in the marketplace of ideas.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The attack on RT (and another Russian network, Sputnik, which evidently has not yet been given a deadline for registration) is a <strong>milestone in the degeneration of the American official (call them what you want &ndash; corporate, legacy, mainstream) media into PR agencies for the governing establishment and its ideological imperatives.</strong> We&rsquo;ve been moving along this path for a while now, and it&rsquo;s going to get worse.</p> <p><strong>Long gone are those halcyon days of yore when Americans could just sit back and watch CBS&rsquo;s Walter Cronkite with total confidence they were getting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. </strong>(For youngsters who have no idea who the hell Cronkite was, just Google &ldquo;most trusted man in America.&rdquo;) Back in the naïve infancy of the TV age, from about the 1950s until the beginning of the 1990s, there was a common national media culture that reflected the established, generally liberal, mainly Democratic tilt of the American&nbsp;inteligentsiya&nbsp;that was almost uniform among the (then only) three networks and a handful of major newspapers and magazines. To be sure, that was also a ruling class media of a sort, but it reflected a broad and deep social consensus.</p> <p>Those days are no more. <strong>Perhaps the unraveling of media trust and social consensus alike started in earnest with Vietnam.</strong> But still, for decades afterwards there still seemed to be plenty of empty cranial receptacles for government and corporate propaganda of the first Gulf War under Bush 41, Bill Clinton&rsquo;s phony humanitarian wars in the Balkans, Bush 43&rsquo;s Iraq War, and Obama&rsquo;s Libyan and Syrian imbroglios. Sadly, there are many such cranial receptacles even today.</p> <p><strong>By its attack on RT, the US government is officially telling us that only the mainstream media (MSM) can be regarded as are purveyors of Truth (with a capital T) and that anybody not on the approved list is fake. </strong>How do we know? Why, the MSM themselves tell us! The Washington Post&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">Democracy Dies in Darkness</a>.&rdquo; CNN&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">Facts First</a>.&rdquo; The New York Times&rsquo; &ldquo;<a href="https://sredirect/" target="_blank">The Truth is Hard</a>.&rdquo; (The fact that certifiably authoritative and truthful media are militantly hostile to Russia, not to mention to Donald Trump, is purely coincidental.)</p> <p><u><strong>A lot of Americans don&rsquo;t buy it anymore, though. </strong></u>Some of the skepticism falls along purely partisan lines reflecting increasing moral and political polarization:&nbsp;our&nbsp;media (which I exclusively consult) tells the truth, but&nbsp;your&nbsp;media (which I don&rsquo;t consult) are liars. About one-third of Americans get their talking points from, say, Michael Moore, and from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, with their related internet echoes, while another third gets theirs from Rush Limbaugh, and from Sean Hannity on Fox News, and their internet echo chambers. Increasingly, there is nothing like a national dialogue on anything, but rather two entirely separate, diametrically opposed ideological cultures &ndash; and alternate realities &ndash; each demonizing &ldquo;them.&rdquo; This is why when after Barack Obama&rsquo;s election the Tea Party appeared, the GOP fell over itself trying to co-opt them, while the Democrats denounced them as a mob of racists and subversives. When later the &ldquo;Occupy&rdquo; and Black Lives Matter movements broke out on the Left, the Democrats tried to figure out how to channel it while top Republicans denounced it as gang of commie anarchists and losers.</p> <p><strong>With the election of Donald Trump the divide intensified further to one of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">latent civil war</a>.</strong></p> <p><strong><em>At some point the false picture of pseudo-reality (as&nbsp;<a href=";q=ideological+pseudo+reality&amp;source=gbs_word_cloud_r&amp;cad=5" target="_blank">Alain Besançon called it in the late Soviet propaganda context</a>) diverges so far from&nbsp;real&nbsp;reality that the official media narrative becomes useless and even counterproductive. While a majority of Americans probably are still glued to the partisan outlets of &ldquo;their&rdquo; side of the political divide, there is a growing sense across the spectrum that not only the MSM but even partisan media like Fox News and MSNBC are untrustworthy.</em></strong></p> <p>In the past, notably in the totalitarian societies of the 20<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;century, maintaining the credibility of official media required the physical repression of alternatives. Today, such a crude approach is unnecessary and almost technologically unfeasible, even for such undemocratic countries as Iran, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia (though North Korea may be successful through the sheer unavailability of modern communications technology to most of the population). Instead of suppressing dissent, is it sufficient to maintain major media&rsquo;s role as gatekeeper and certifier of reliability.</p> <p><strong>Which brings us back to the impact of foreign media like&nbsp;RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation, Al-Jazeera, CGTN, Press TV, often in parallel with alternative media like Zero Hedge, Lew Rockwell,, Ron Paul Institute, and others, to break through the information firewall but arguably then being influenced by the agenda of the sponsoring foreign governments. </strong>In any case, a growing segment of the American public is discovering a skill once well-honed by the citizens of the former communist countries: reading between the lines of the official media (which is assumed to be full of lies) and making informed comparisons to&nbsp;samizdat&nbsp;alternative media, foreign sources, and the rumor-mill to guess what the truth might be.</p> <p>Make no mistake &ndash; what has started with RT won&rsquo;t end with RT. Our betters have decided they need to protect our minds from &ldquo;propaganda&rdquo; penetration that might cause us to doubt the truth of what CNN and the Washington Post tell us.</p> <p><u><em><strong>Citizens! Be grateful for such wise leaders and dedicated information workers! Smash the enemy voices that seek to undermine our democracy as&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">we march boldly into the radiant future</a>!</strong></em></u></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="251" height="164" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Al-Jazeera America: Imagine the World Without Her Balkans Barack Obama Broadcasting communications technology Crude Department of Justice Donald Trump firewall Fox News Google Iran Iraq Mass media Michael Moore MSNBC New York Times North Korea Politics Reality Republican Party Ron Paul Ron Paul Institute RT Saudi Arabia State media Strategic Culture Foundation Tea Party Television Twitter Twitter US Department of Justice Criminal Division US government Walter Cronkite Sat, 18 Nov 2017 21:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607519 at Hunting Angels: What The World's Most Bearish Hedge Fund Will Short Next <p>It&#39;s not easy being &quot;the world&#39;s most bearish hedge fund&quot;, a description we first conceived nearly three years ago, and one look at Horseman Capital&#39;s returns over the past three years confirms it:<strong><em> after generating market-beating returns for much of its existence, things went bad in 2015, and much worse in 2016...</em></strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="294" src="" width="500" /></a></p> <p>... when the Fund had a record net short equity position of over -100%, just as the market ripped higher after the Trump election.</p> <p><strong>That said, 2017 has been much better for Horseman and its CIO Russell Clark, who correctly timed the year&#39;s two big short trades so far: the mall REIT and the shale shorts. </strong></p> <p>Unfortunately, his other positions stood in the way, <strong>and as of the end of October (a good month with 2.04% in P&amp;L), the fund is just 0.25% up on the year</strong>. Worse, after a period of calm, steady, upward grinding monthly performance for much of the previous several years, Horseman&#39;s sharpe ratio has cratered, as the monthly return variance surged, with a -6% month following two +7% months as a result of gross leverage that has never been higher, even if the net equity position - while still largely short - is far more manageable than it was in 2016.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="253" src="" width="500" /></a></p> <p>Still, having been well ahead of the pack on the two big shorts of 2017, most money managers are always curious<strong> what if anything Clark - and Horseman - are shorting next.</strong> Well, they are in luck, because in his latest letter, he unveils the answer: according to Clark,<u><em><strong> the next major source of alpha will be shorting fallen angel bonds.</strong></em></u></p> <p>In his November letter to clients, Clark explains why he is hunting for soon to be &quot;fallen angels&quot;, and where he got the idea from. And after more fund managers read the following excerpt, we have a feeling that the next big leg lower in not only junk, but also crossover credit, is imminent:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Mifid II will come into force soon, and a lot of research that used to be free, will need to be paid for. This has been a reason to ask ourselves some serious questions, namely what research do I read, and what has made me the most money. <strong>Strangely the research that has been most profitable for me, will remain free even post Mifid II as it is publicly available. The International Monetary Fund produces Global Financial Stability Reports. The stand out report for me was the April 2008 report that highlighted Eastern European banks vulnerability to wholesale funding. </strong>I shorted many of the banks named in the report. <strong>Most fell 70% to 90% subsequently. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What does the most recent issue of the Global Financial Stability Report have to say? <strong>It notes that BBB bonds now make up nearly 50% of the index of investment grade bonds, an all time high. </strong>BBB bonds are only one notch above high yield, and are at the greatest risk of becoming fallen angels, that is bonds that were investment grade when issued, but subsequently get downgraded to below investment grade, or what is known these days as high yield. <strong>It then points out that investors have never been more at risk of capital loss if yields were to rise. In addition, it notes volatility targeting investors will mechanically increase leverage as volatility drops, with variable annuities investors having little flexibility to deviate from target volatility. </strong>Another interesting point was that mutual fund share of the high yield market in the US have risen from 17% in 2008 to 30% today, and notes that <strong>investors outflows have become much more sensitive to losses than they used to be. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So my favourite research (love the price!) is telling me that <strong>US investment grade debt is very low quality, and could produce some large fallen angels. It then goes on to tell me that mutual funds are much larger in the high yield market than they used to be. It also tells me low rates means the capital losses are much higher than they used to be. And that investors in high yield mutual funds are much flightier than they used to be! </strong>Essentially the IMF are telling me that <strong>if you get a large enough fallen angel, the high yield market will freak out, and volatility will spike causing volatility targeting investors to dump leveraged positions. Sounds good to me </strong>- but with growth so good and the market so strong, how on earth would we get a fallen angel?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To find a potential fallen angel, <strong>I looked through the holdings of investment grade bond ETFs to find large BBB bond issuers. The biggest of the BBB issuers happened to be the large telecommunication companies. The sector has over USD300bn of BBB rated debt compared to a high-yield market of USD 1tn. </strong>I am not a debt specialist, but I have noticed that falling share prices tend to be good lead indicators on debt downgrades, and the US telecommunication sector has not been participating in the market rally this year. The story looks good to me, and it comes via my favourite research source. <strong>US debt markets look in trouble to me, whether that has any effect on broader equity markets remains to be seen.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Aside from this rather original idea, some other notable changes in Horseman&#39;s industry exposure are noted: while both the retail and E&amp;P shorts are still there, they have been notably tamed, and of note are two other major shorts (both in the US): one in real estate (we assume this is a play on the adverse impact of rising rates on real estate valuations), and the healthcare sector, a short whose thesis is quite interesting and we will reveal tomorrow.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="1110" src="" width="500" /></a></p> <p>For those wondering, the top 10 positions by % of NAV are the following:</p> <p><a href=""><img height="127" src="" width="500" /></a></p> <p>Needless to say, we wish Horseman much success with a prompt realization of his BBB-short, especially since it appears that his LPs are starting to get cold feet, and the fund&#39;s AUM has shrunk by half from $2.8 BN&nbsp; one year ago...</p> <p><img height="426" src="" width="500" /></p> <p>... to less than half, or $1.2BN currently.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="425" src="" width="500" /></a></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="803" height="483" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Alpha Banking Bond Bond Business Equity Markets Finance Financial markets Fixed income Hedge fund High Yield High-yield debt Institutional investors International Monetary Fund International Monetary Fund Investment Investment Grade Mathematical finance Money Real estate United States housing bubble Volatility Volatility Sat, 18 Nov 2017 21:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607516 at Amazon-opoly: Jeff Bezos May Be About To Control $53 Billion In Federal Government Spending <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Brian McNicoll via The Daily Caller,</em></a></p> <p>Jeff Bezos spends a lot of time directing the newspaper he owns, The Washington Post, to criticize President Donald Trump in every way imaginable. But for some reason, the federal government cannot stop giving Amazon &mdash; the retail empire Bezos also owns &mdash; a slew of taxpayer-subsidized subsidies. <strong>Now, Congress is considering a new federal purchasing plan that could result in Amazon&rsquo;s most lucrative government handout yet.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="228" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>The technology giant is no stranger to sweetheart deals that line its pockets at taxpayer expense. </strong>The U.S. Postal Service, for instance &mdash; which has lost $60 billion since 2007 &mdash; <a href="">handles last-mile shipping for two-thirds of Amazon&rsquo;s deliveries.</a> This means overtime for workers and a good incoming revenue number on the USPS&rsquo;s balance sheet, but it&rsquo;s a financial bonanza for Amazon.</p> <p>According to <a href="">media reports</a>, USPS delivers Amazon packages for $2 per package &mdash; even though it costs USPS $3.46 per package to make these deliveries. And that&rsquo;s before you get into the $200 million three years ago for 270,000 handheld scanners to process the packages or the $5 billion or more to replace USPS vehicles with ones better suited to carry Amazon&rsquo;s packages.</p> <p><strong>But even this cozy arrangement pales in comparison to <a href="">the deal Amazon is now trying to push through Congress. </a></strong></p> <p><u><strong>Buried deep in this year&rsquo;s defense spending bill is a provision that would move Defense Department purchases of commercial off-the-shelf products to online marketplaces.</strong></u></p> <p>A <a href="">summary of the proposal</a>, which was inserted into the legislation by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, argues it is needed to save money over the burdensome and expensive current system.</p> <p>It pointed to a <a href="">report</a> from the Inspector General of the Government Services Administration that found some IT equipment could be purchased more cheaply on the open market than through the GSA&rsquo;s &ldquo;schedules.&rdquo;</p> <p>In response, the <a href="">plan</a> calls for developing an online marketplace platform through which federal agencies can buy products such as paper clips, bottled water, computers, office furniture and more &mdash; just as any business would do.</p> <p>But it also calls for this platform to be designed to &ldquo;enable government-wide use of such marketplaces.&rdquo; This means the government is looking only for a procurement and supply management firm big enough to offer multiple suppliers for the same product with constantly changing selection and prices and serve the entire U.S. government.</p> <p><strong>That leaves just one likely possibility&nbsp; - Amazon Business - for basically monopoly control of <a href="">$53 billion in federal purchasing</a>, much of the supplies for which comes from no-bid contracts.</strong></p> <p>Amazon provides a platform for e-companies to sell through to their own customers. It <a href="">receives 15 percent to 20 percent</a> of the proceeds from such sales, which means a huge revenue stream for Amazon for doing basically nothing while vendors are forced to cough up as much as half their margin.</p> <p>A government deal with Amazon sets up opportunities for abuse, not to mention control over suppliers. Amazon would get to collect an enormous amount of data on agencies, which could be used to identify top competitors and drive them out of the federal marketplace with increased fees or other rules changes.</p> <p>And it means any discounts that can be negotiated for the bulk rates of purchasing the federal government does would flow not to the government and taxpayers &mdash; but instead into Amazon&rsquo;s pocket.</p> <p><strong>Amazon Business, which only started in 2015, <a href="">already has</a> 1 million customers and $1 billion in sales, and its revenues grew 34 percent in the last year. Adding federal procurement would effectively drive out all competitors for its business service.</strong></p> <p>It already is moving into position to do this at the local level. In January, Amazon <a href="">signed a contract</a> with U.S. Communities, a coalition of 90,000 local governments, to provide them with an online marketplace for office supplies and other goods.</p> <p><strong>The fate of the proposal is unknown. It is in the House version of the defense spending bill but not that of the Senate. This will be resolved in a conference committee, and one solution is to try it as a pilot project before committing the entire government to it.</strong></p> <p>There certainly ought to be a breathing period before yet another government agency signs yet another deal to use tax dollars to further enrich one of the richest men on the planet.</p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>It&rsquo;s beginning to get suspicious.</strong></span></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="592" height="385" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> 3D publishing Amazon controversies Business Business Congress Department of Defense Donald Trump E-commerce Economy of the United States federal government Government Services Administration Jeff Bezos Newspaper Online music stores Politics Senate Services Committee United States Postal Service US government US Postal Service Sat, 18 Nov 2017 20:40:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607518 at Erdogan Rejects NATO Apology: "There Can Be No Alliance Like That" <p>Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is refusing to let NATO off the hook for<a href=""> an inadvertent yet insulting gesture</a> that prompted him to remove 40 Turkish troops from a joint military exercise in Norway.</p> <p><a href="">Russia Today </a>reports that <u><strong>Erdogan has rebuffed a NATO apology for what he called &ldquo;impudence&rdquo; after his name was included on an &ldquo;enemies chart&rdquo; shared with military officials participating in the exercises. Erdogan&rsquo;s name was reportedly included alongside a photo of Turkish founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. </strong></u></p> <p>Following the scandal, both NATO and Norway offered their apologies for the incident, saying that the message did not reflect their views. But Erdogan, who has grown increasingly critical of NATO in recent years following clashes with German Leader Angela Merkel, is apparently using the incident as an excuse to widen the rift between Turkey and Brussels.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 274px;" /></a></p> <p>In late June, Germany was forced to move its troops from Turkey&rsquo;s Incirlik Air Base to Jordan, as Ankara had barred German lawmakers from visiting the site, where some 270 troops participating in the US-led campaign against Islamic State were stationed. In one of the recent schisms in the bilateral relations, Germany put on hold &ldquo;all big requests&rdquo; for arms exports from Turkey, leading Turkey to accuse Germany of weakening the former&rsquo;s fight against terrorism.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;There can be no alliance like that,&quot; </strong>Erdogan said on Friday, adding that even the removal of those names would not change the decision. On Saturday, despite the officials&rsquo; apologies and affirmations, the insulted leader refused to be placated, saying he wouldn&rsquo;t let NATO off the hook that easily.</p> <p><strong>&quot;Yesterday, you have witnessed the impudence at NATO exercises in Norway. There are some mistakes that cannot be committed by fools but only by vile people,&rdquo; Erdogan said in a televised speech. He added that the incident shows &ldquo;a reflection of a distorted point of view that we have observed in NATO for a while.&quot; </strong></p> <p><strong>&quot;This matter cannot be covered over with a simple apology,&quot;</strong> Erdogan added.</p> <p>Of course, despite a brief escalation in tensions over last year over purported violations of Turkey&rsquo;s airspace, the NATO member has been deepening its ties with Russia, recently completing a purchase of S-400 anti-aircraft systems, which has unnerved Washington and other NATO powers. <a href="">One top NATO general,</a> Petr Pavel, told reporters last month that Turkey would likely be punished by the alliance for not buying American. Turkey reportedly chose the Russian systems because they were cheaper.</p> <p>Tensions eased a little in October, when NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Ankara&rsquo;s decision to purchase the S-400 did not harm the alliance&rsquo;s interests. While the final details of the deal are being settled, a top US Air Force official warned that it could affect Ankara&#39;s planned purchase of 100 F-35 jets.</p> <p>The decision caused an angry reaction from Ankara, which said the decision weakens its fight against terrorism and jeopardizes European security.</p> <p><strong>And let&rsquo;s not forget, perhaps Turkey&rsquo;s biggest gripe with a fellow NATO member is the US&rsquo;s refusal to extradite Turkish cleric Fehtullah Gulen, who has been living in Pennsylvania for years after being effectively exiled from Turkey following a falling out with Erdogan.</strong></p> <p>Given all of the back-and-forth sniping between the US and Turkey in recent months, we doubt Erdogan will let this insult go.<br />&nbsp;</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="566" height="310" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Abdullah Öcalan Europe European Convention on Human Rights Germany Incirlik Air Base Military NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization Norway Politics Recep Tayyip Erdo?an Turkey Turkey US Air Force War Sat, 18 Nov 2017 20:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607510 at Is America In Terminal Decline? <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,</em></a></p> <p>John Rubino recently posted a graph from Bob Prechter&rsquo;s Elliot Wave that points to<strong> some ominous signs.</strong> It depicts the S&amp;P 500, combined with consumer confidence and savings rate. As the accompanying video at Elliott Wave, <a href="" target="new"><span style="font-size: 13px; color: #ff2222; font-weight: bold;">What &ldquo;Too Confident to Save&rdquo; Means for Stocks</span></a>, shows, when the gap between high confidence and low savings is at its widest, a market crash -often- follows.</p> <p>In 2000, the subsequent crash was 39%, in 2007 it was 54%. We are now again witnessing just such a gap, with the S&amp;P 500 at record levels. Here&rsquo;s the graph, with John&rsquo;s comments:</p> <p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="" target="new"><span style="font-size: 13px; color: #ff2222; font-weight: bold;"> Consumers Are Both Confident And Broke </span> </a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Elliott Wave International recently put together a chart that illustrates a recurring theme of financial bubbles: <strong>When good times have gone on for a sufficiently long time, people forget that it can be any other way and start behaving as if they&rsquo;re bulletproof. They stop saving, for instance, because they&rsquo;ll always have their job and their stocks will always go up.</strong> Then comes the inevitable bust. On the following chart, this delusion and its aftermath are represented by the gap between consumer confidence (our sense of how good the next year is likely to be) and the saving rate (the portion of each paycheck we keep for a rainy day). The bigger the gap the less realistic we are and the more likely to pay dearly for our hubris.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><img src="" style="border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; height: 588px; width: 600px;" /></p> <p>John is mostly right. But not entirely. Not that I don&rsquo;t think he knows, he simply forgets to mention it. What I mean is his suggestion that people stop saving because they&rsquo;re confident, bullish. To understand where and why he slightly misses, let&rsquo;s turn to Lance Roberts. Before we get to the savings, Lance explains why the difference between the Producer Price Index (PPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) is important to note.</p> <p>Summarized, <strong>producer prices are rising, but consumer prices are not.</strong></p> <p style="margin-left: 20px;"><a href="" target="new"><span style="font-size: 13px; color: #ff2222; font-weight: bold;"> You Have Been Warned </span> </a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>There is an important picture that is currently developing which, if it continues, will impact earnings and ultimately the stock market. Let&rsquo;s take a look at some interesting economic numbers out this past week. On Tuesday, we saw the release of the Producer Price Index (PPI) which ROSE 0.4% for the month following a similar rise of 0.4% last month. This surge in prices was NOT surprising given the recent devastation from 3-hurricanes and massive wildfires in California which led to a temporary surge in demand for products and services.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><img src="" style="border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; height: 363px; width: 599px;" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Then on Wednesday, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was released which showed only a small 0.1% increase falling sharply from the 0.5% increase last month.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" style="border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; height: 363px; width: 599px;" /></p> <p><strong>Such differences have real life consequences.</strong> In Lance&rsquo;s words:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>This deflationary pressure further showed up on Thursday with a -0.3% decline in Export prices. (Exports make up about 40% of corporate profits) For all of you that continue to insist this is an &ldquo;earnings-driven market,&rdquo; you should pay very close attention to those three data points above. When companies have higher input costs in their production they have two choices: 1) &ldquo;pass along&rdquo; those price increase to their customers; or 2) absorb those costs internally. </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>If a company opts to &ldquo;pass along&rdquo; those costs then we should have seen CPI rise more strongly. Since that didn&rsquo;t happen, it suggests companies are unable to &ldquo;pass along&rdquo; those costs which means a reduction in earnings. The other BIG report released on Wednesday tells you WHY companies have been unable to &ldquo;pass along&rdquo; those increased costs. </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The &ldquo;retail sales&rdquo; report came in at just a 0.1% increase for the month. After a large jump in retail sales last month, as was expected following the hurricanes, there should have been some subsequent follow through last month. There simply wasn&rsquo;t. More importantly, despite annual hopes by the National Retail Federation of surging holiday spending which is consistently over-estimated, the recent surge in consumer debt without a subsequent increase in consumer spending shows the financial distress faced by a vast majority of consumers. </em></p> </blockquote> <p>That already hints at what I said above about savings. But it&rsquo;s Lance&rsquo;s next graph, versions of which he uses regularly, that makes it even more obvious. (NOTE: I think he means to say 2009, not 2000 below)</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>The first chart below shows <strong>a record gap between the standard cost of living and the debt required to finance that cost of living. Prior to 2000(?!), debt was able to support a rising standard of living, which is no longer the case currently.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p><img src="" style="border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; height: 307px; width: 600px;" /></p> <p><strong>The cut-off point is 2009,</strong> unless I miss something in Lance&rsquo;s comment. Before that, borrowing could create the <strong>illusion </strong>of a rising standard of living.<strong> Those days are gone.</strong></p> <p>And it&rsquo;s very hard to see, when you take a good look, what could make them come back.</p> <p><strong>Not only are savings not down because people are too confident to save, they are down because people simply don&rsquo;t have anything left to save. </strong>The American consumer is sliding ever deeper into debt. And as for the Holiday Season, we can confidently -there&rsquo;s that word again- predict that spending will be disappointing, and that much of what is still spent will add to increasing Consumer Credit Per Capita, as well as the Gap Between Real Disposable Income (DPI) And Cost Of Living.</p> <p>The last graph, which shows Control Purchases, i.e. what people buy most, a large part of which will be basic needs, makes this even more clear.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>With <strong>a current shortfall of $18,176 between the standard of living and real disposable incomes</strong>, debt is only able to cover about 2/3rds of the difference with a net shortfall of $6,605. This explains the reason why &ldquo;control purchases&rdquo; by individuals (those items individuals buy most often) is running at levels more normally consistent with recessions rather than economic expansions.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><img src="" style="border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; height: 380px; width: 600px;" /></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>If companies are unable to pass along rising production costs to consumers, export prices are falling and consumer demand remains weak, be warned of continued weakness in earnings reports in the months ahead. As I stated earlier this year, the recovery in earnings this year was solely a function of the recovering energy sector due to higher oil prices. With that tailwind now firmly behind us, the risk to earnings in the year ahead is dangerous to a market basing its current &ldquo;overvaluation&rdquo; on the &ldquo;strong earnings&rdquo; story.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>&ldquo;Prior to 2009, debt was able to support a rising standard of living..&rdquo;</strong> Less than a decade later, it can&rsquo;t even maintain the status quo. That&rsquo;s what you call a breaking point.</p> <p>To put that in numbers, there&rsquo;s <strong>a current shortfall of $18,176 between the standard of living and real disposable incomes</strong>. In other words, no matter how much people are borrowing, their standard of living is in decline.</p> <p>Something else we can glean from the graphs is that after the Great Recession (or GFC) of 2008-9, the economy never recovered. The S&amp;P may have, and the banks are back to profitable ways and big bonuses, but that has nothing to do with real Americans in their own real economy. 2009 was a turning point and the crisis never looked back.</p> <p><u><em><strong>Are the American people actually paying for the so-called recovery? </strong></em></u>One might be inclined to say so. There is no recovery, there&rsquo;s whatever the opposite of that is, terminal decline?!. It&rsquo;s just, where does that consumer confidence level come from? Is that the media? Is The Conference Board pulling our leg? Is it that people think things cannot possibly get worse?</p> <p>What is by now crystal clear is that Americans don&rsquo;t <em>choose</em> to not save, they have nothing left to save. And that will have its own nasty consequences down the road. Let&rsquo;s raise some rates, shall we? And see what happens?!</p> <p><u><em><strong>One consolation: Europe, Japan, China are in the same debt-driven decline that Americans are. We&rsquo;re all going down together. Or rather, the question is who&rsquo;s going to go first. That is the only hard call left. America&rsquo;s a prime candidate.</strong></em></u></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="592" height="290" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business China Conference Board Conference Board Consumer Confidence Consumer Credit Consumer Price Consumer price index Consumer Prices CPI Deflation Economic bubble Economy Elliott Wave Financial crises Great Recession Japan Macroeconomics Market Crash National Retail Federation Price indices Producer Price Recession recovery S&P S&P 500 Savings Rate Sat, 18 Nov 2017 19:50:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607515 at Another US Navy Warship Crashes <p>Over the summer there were two accidental collisions involving the 7th fleet, and a total of 4 similar incidents this year... until today as <strong>yet another US Navy warship collided with a Japanese tug boat during exercises</strong>.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="277" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <div> <p><a href=""><em> reports </em></a>the incident occurred off the east coast of Japan. <strong>The boat was on its way to the port in Yokosuka, where the US Navy is stationed</strong>.</p> </div> <div> <p>A Japanese tug boat has accidently damaged a US missile destroyer in&nbsp;Sagami Bay.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&quot;No one was injured on&nbsp;either vessel and Benfold sustained minimal damage, including scrapes on&nbsp;its side, pending a full damage assessment,&quot;</strong></em> a press release of&nbsp;the US Navy said.</p> </blockquote> <p>According to&nbsp;the report, the US Navy carried out&nbsp;towing exercises when the boat experienced technical problems and crashed into&nbsp;the side of&nbsp;the USS Benfold.</p> <p>An investigation of&nbsp;the incident is underway.</p> </div> <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="950" height="439" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Destroyer Disaster east coast of Japan Japan Naval warfare United States Navy United States Seventh Fleet USS Benfold Watercraft Sat, 18 Nov 2017 19:25:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607517 at 'Zimbabwean Spring' Looms As 1000s Celebrate Mugabe's Imminent Exit <p><strong>Tens of thousands of jubilant Zimbabweans joined rallies on Saturday</strong> to celebrate the imminent departure of President&nbsp;Robert Mugabe, <strong>the only leader they&rsquo;ve known since independence in 1980</strong>.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="309" src="" width="560" /></a></p> <p>As Bloomberg reports, Mugabe triggered his own downfall by firing&nbsp;Emmerson Mnangagwa&nbsp;as his vice president last week, a move that <strong>prompted the military to intervene and place him under house arrest</strong>.</p> <p>On Friday, the ruling party&rsquo;s 10 provincial committees resolved to oust the 93-year-old president, a decision likely to be ratified at a meeting of its central executive on Sunday.</p> <p><strong>The nation&rsquo;s parliament is due to reconvene on Tuesday and could impeach him should he remain steadfast in his refusal to resign</strong>.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 560px; height: 759px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>In Harare, the capital, crowds gathered at Zimbabwe Grounds in the Highfield township and at Freedom Square in the city center, while smaller groups marched through the streets, singing and dancing. </strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>A rally in Bulawayo, the second-largest city, also drew thousands of people. Some protesters draped themselves in the national flag and others <strong>embraced soldiers who kept watch on the festivities</strong>.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>Several street signs bearing Mugabe&rsquo;s name were ripped down...</p> <p><a href=""><img height="346" src="" width="560" /></a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&quot;</strong></em><em><strong>This is it, he must go,&rdquo; </strong></em>said Ronald Mupfumi, a 29-year-old unemployed graduate who joined the throng in Harare&rsquo;s streets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;These guys made us suffer for a long time.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>As a reminder, under Mugabe&rsquo;s watch, the economy has imploded, leaving <strong>95 percent of the workforce unemployed</strong>, according to Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions estimates, and<strong> forcing as many as 3 million people into exile</strong>.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;We are at the dawn of a new era,&rdquo;</strong>&nbsp;Patrick Chinamasa, who Mugabe fired as finance minister last month, told the crowd who gathered in Highlands township. Mugabe &ldquo;should resign forthwith. The criminals who surround him must be arrested and thrown in jail.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking at the same rally, Water and Climate Minister&nbsp;Oppah Muchinguridenounced the First Lady and <strong>called on the crowd to &ldquo;march to State House to remove the tyrant.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;If there is ever to be a Zimbabwean Spring, today&rsquo;s marches are the first green shoots,&rdquo;</strong>&nbsp;Charles Laurie, head of African analysis at Bath, U.K.-based Verisk Maplecroft, said by email.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;<strong>For the first time in 37 years, Zimbabweans stood today as a united people.</strong> The mass public demonstrations are intended to ensure there is no backsliding as the notoriously wily Mugabe seeks to negotiate an exit to the unprecedented political crisis.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>While hope is clearly high for a new and positive change, we have seen this picture before in Africa...</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">A bigger crowd cheered Gen. Idi Amin&#39;s rise in Uganda. 46 violenence-and-corruption-laden years &amp; 7 coups on, Ugandans are still clamouring for a saviour. Hope against hope Zimbabweans fare a little better. <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Sam Akaki (@AkakiSam) <a href="">November 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script> <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="1602" height="699" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Africa Emmerson Mnangagwa Government Green Shoots Patrick Chinamasa Politics Robert Mugabe State House Twitter Twitter Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Congress Sat, 18 Nov 2017 18:59:14 +0000 Tyler Durden 607513 at Unbridled Exuberance... <p><a href=""><em>Authored by James Stack via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>From public confidence to bullish sentiment to the normally mundane employment data, the U.S. economy and stock market are reaching historic levels not seen in decades.&nbsp;</strong> Last month, consumer confidence hit its highest level since December 2000.&nbsp; The percentage of bullish investment advisors recently touched lofty levels that were last reached in January 1987.&nbsp; And this month, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that job layoffs dropped to a 44-year low!</p> <p>This might all sound like great news, and on the surface it obviously is.&nbsp;<strong> But what is forgotten in today&rsquo;s exuberant celebrations - and the above statistics - is that both the economy and stock market historically peak when skies are blue and no storm clouds are in sight</strong>: December 2000 was just 3 months before the start of the 2001 recession. January 1987 was 9 months before Black Monday struck. And 44 years ago (1973), the stock market was about to suffer its worst annual loss in 35 years! If the S&amp;P 500 closes higher in November, it will have posted a positive total return for 13 consecutive months, surpassed only once in 90 years &ndash; 1959.&nbsp; The next year (1960) the economy entered a recession.</p> <p>We&rsquo;re not sharing these insights because we have turned bearish in our market outlook.&nbsp; We haven&rsquo;t.&nbsp; Most technical evidence and virtually all macroeconomic data still point to new bull market highs immediately ahead.&nbsp; However, <strong>it is becoming increasingly important to remember that trees do not grow to the sky, and bull markets do not last forever</strong>.&nbsp; And don&rsquo;t forget that virtually every bear market except one (1956) has repossessed or taken back roughly one-half or more of the previous bull market&rsquo;s gain.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img height="532" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Today, that would equate to 8,500 DJIA points</strong>!</p> <h3><u>Unbridled Exuberance... While the Novice Make Merry, the Seasoned are Wary</u></h3> <p>One of the most apparent examples of investors&rsquo; increased appetite for risk lies in the &ldquo;FANG&rdquo; stocks.&nbsp; These modern day &ldquo;four horsemen&rdquo; of technology and consumer stocks &ndash;Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google&ndash; are considered leaders in the emergent areas of today&rsquo;s economy.&nbsp; Because of their outsized estimates for future growth, this narrow group of stocks has radically outperformed the S&amp;P 500 since the beginning of 2015.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 319px;" /></a></p> <p>However, value-conscious investors have had difficulty justifying ownership of this speculative quartet due to valuation risk.</p> <p>They trade at a combined P/E ratio of 48.5 based on trailing earnings &ndash; nearly twice that of the S&amp;P 500.</p> <p>Enthusiasm for the FANG stocks has reached such a feverish pitch that Wall Street is creating new products to tap into the public&rsquo;s insatiable appetite for these exciting invest ments.&nbsp; The four FANG stocks are joined by six other hot tech names to form the NYSE FANG+ Index.&nbsp; Futures contracts on this Index began trading on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) last week.&nbsp;&nbsp; Investors can now &ldquo;Trade the Top of Tech&rdquo; in the futures market to quickly increase or decrease their exposure to these speculative companies.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 267px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>In past market tops of the late 1990s and 2007 we exposed the danger of investor and consumer exuberance along with the &ldquo;boom&rdquo; headlines that typically accompany a cyclical peak.</strong>&nbsp; This is not an infallible relationship, however, so the appearance of the above headlines today does not necessarily mean the market top is in place.&nbsp; Rather, it reinforces the need to maintain professional skepticism and an emphasis on risk management, which can be in short supply at this stage in the market cycle.</p> <p><strong>Nowhere is the bullish consensus more obvious than in the Advisors Sentiment Survey tracked by Investors Intelligence </strong>(graph below).&nbsp; While the percentage of bears is typically considered a more reliable contrarian indicator at extreme readings, we find it interesting to note that the percentage of bullish advisors recently hit the highest level since January 1987 &ndash; only nine months before the 1987 Crash&hellip;</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 291px;" /></a></p> <p>Valuation risk remains an overarching concern for today&rsquo;s aging bull market.&nbsp; Although the leading economic evidence remains overwhelmingly positive, U.S. stocks are not cheap by historical standards.&nbsp; The current P/E ratio of the S&amp;P 500 based on trailing earnings is 24.8, which is well above the 90-year average, as shown in the graph below.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 222px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>How expensive is the S&amp;P 500 today?&nbsp;</strong> The P/E for this popular Index has exceeded 24.0 just over 10% of the time since 1928, as shown by the dark blue bars on the graph at right.&nbsp; The light blue bars eliminate the distortions from the Technology Bubble of the late 1990s and the Financial Crisis in 2008-09 when corporate earnings evaporated.&nbsp; If we exclude those extreme periods, the S&amp;P 500 P/E ratio has been in the rarified range above 24.0 less than 3% of the time.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 539px;" /></a></p> <p>Lofty valuations do not cause bear markets, and stocks can remain overvalued for very long periods of time.&nbsp; <strong>However, high valuations increase downside risk and diminish the margin of safety so essential to successful long-term investing.&nbsp;</strong> Consequently, it is particularly important now to employ a safety-first strategy and avoid overvalued momentum stocks, as they will undoubtedly fall the hardest when a bear market does arrive.&nbsp;</p> <h3>A Potential Warning in the Technical Evidence...</h3> <p>Sometimes it&rsquo;s striking how quickly the technical picture can shift in an aging bull market.&nbsp; Take the three graphs below, for instance.&nbsp; When we last published this trio of charts in early October, all three were hitting new highs in unison.&nbsp;&nbsp; <strong>Now both the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJTA) and the small-cap Russell 2000 Index are starting to diverge substantially from the blue chip DJIA, which is sitting just below its recent all-time high.</strong></p> <p>Major peaks in the DJIA are usually preceded by a top in one or more of the economicallysensitive secondary indexes, but not every divergence necessarily signals trouble ahead.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 745px;" /></a></p> <p>When both the secondary indexes shown here diverge simultaneously, however, it&rsquo;s a significant development, and time for heightened vigilance.</p> <h3>NLC:&nbsp; Is Distribution Imminent?</h3> <p>Our Negative Leadership Composite (NLC) shown below remains steadfast on the surface with the <strong>bullish &ldquo;Selling Vacuum&rdquo; [*1] at +4 and no visible sign of &ldquo;Distribution&rdquo; [*2 &ndash; shaded region]&hellip;&nbsp; yet!&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 266px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>Even so, careful analysis of the underlying leadership data since mid-October shows a steady deterioration in the internal numbers.</strong></p> <p>Sometimes it&rsquo;s striking how quickly the technical picture can shift in an aging bull market.&nbsp; Take the three graphs at right, for instance.&nbsp; When we last published this trio of charts in early October, all three were hitting new highs in unison.&nbsp;&nbsp; Now both the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJTA) and the small-cap Russell 2000 Index are starting to diverge substantially from the blue chip DJIA, which is sitting just below its recent all-time high.</p> <p><strong>Major peaks in the DJIA are usually preceded by a top in one or more of the economically-sensitive secondary indexes, but not every divergence necessarily signals trouble ahead.&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>When both the secondary indexes shown here diverge simultaneously, however, it&rsquo;s a significant development, and time for heightened vigilance.</p> <p><u><strong>Selling pressure is stealthily creeping upward, and it appears to be broad-based.</strong></u> If the current trend continues, we could start to see Distribution in our NLC by the time our December issue goes to press.&nbsp; If Distribution appears and subsequently drops below -50, then bear market risk will become elevated and that could warrant a more defensive stance</p> <p>&nbsp;</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="1245" height="554" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bear Market Behavioral finance Business Capitalism Consumer Confidence DJIA Dow Jones & Company Dow Jones Industrial Average Dow Jones Transportation Economy Finance Financial markets Futures market Google headlines Investment Investors Intelligence Market sentiment Market trend Money New York Stock Exchange NYSE FANG+ Recession Risk Management Russell 2000 Russell 2000 S&P 500 US Department of Labor Sat, 18 Nov 2017 18:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607514 at What National Review Gets Wrong About the Opioid Crisis and the War on Drugs <p><a href="">Via The Daily Bell</a></p> <div id="contentsContainer" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;"> <div id="contents" style="box-sizing: border-box;"> <p id="E58" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E59" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Alright, libertarians, you wanted drug legalization, right? Well, with opioids, via loose prescriptions, you got it, and what’s happened? We are in the middle of the worst epidemic of overdose and addiction this country has ever seen, thousands are dropping like flies, and it appears that things will be getting worse before they get better. Your theories might sound nice when you don’t have skin in the game, but when reality intrudes on your fantasies of a free society, real people pay the price. Right?</span></p> <p id="E62" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E63" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Well, not quite.</span></p> <p id="E66" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E67" style="box-sizing: border-box;">The above argument might sound familiar because a variation of it is trotted out during every national crisis. Be it war, financial instability, poverty, during health insurance debates, or any other crisis or threat, a chorus rises to blame supporters of a free society for their juvenile dogmatism that is surely causing the very predicament everyone is suffering under.</span></p> <p id="E70" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E71" style="box-sizing: border-box;">“There are no libertarians in financial crises,” gloated mainstream financial analysts during the subprime meltdown, which was caused by “free market fundamentalists”, according to George Soros.</span></p> <p id="E74" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E75" style="box-sizing: border-box;">The opioid crisis is no different, but one would have thought the fingers would have pointed at libertarians far earlier. This may be partially due to the fact that support for ending the Drug War occupies a strange grey area between Left and Right. More traditional, law-and-order type conservatives generally support the War on Drugs, as well as the tough-on-crime tactics used to prosecute it, while the Left tends to support ending the Drug War due to its violation of civil liberties.</span></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E75" style="box-sizing: border-box;">This has always seemed strange to me since conservatives tend to support more freedom as opposed to less, smaller government as opposed to big, and the Left tends to always and everywhere support greater restriction of liberty for the ostensible benefit of, well, someone, somewhere, and a large, intrusive government to do it. But, during a crisis, regardless of Left or Right, voices will denounce liberty in favor of something more “responsible”. “We don’t have the luxury of being libertarians right now”, say the condescending, adult voices of reason and responsibility.</span></p> <p id="E78" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E79" style="box-sizing: border-box;">And so it is with&nbsp;<a href="" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;">Jonah Goldberg</a>&nbsp;at&nbsp;</span><span id="E80" style="box-sizing: border-box;">National Review</span><span id="E81" style="box-sizing: border-box;">, who recently authored a piece against the libertarian argument for full drug legalization, essentially stating that an opioid-addicted dystopia would be the inevitable future of a libertarian society, with heroin sold on the shelf right next to Johnny Walker, loaves of bread, and the morning paper.</span></p> <p id="E84" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E85" style="box-sizing: border-box;">In Goldberg’s piece, “</span><a href="" target="_blank" id="E86" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;" rel="noopener"><span id="E87" style="box-sizing: border-box;">The Opioid Crisis Should Make Libertarians Rethink the Drug Legalization Argument</span></a><span id="E88" style="box-sizing: border-box;">”, he sees the opioid crisis as an experiment in drug legalization. He then looks at the outcome, mass overdose deaths, then finger wags libertarians for their blind devotion to&nbsp;</span>ideology.</p> </div> </div> <div id="contentsContainer" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;"> <div id="contents" style="box-sizing: border-box;"> <p id="E91" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E92" style="box-sizing: border-box;">David French had a similar take on the crisis in a piece back in April, “</span><a href="" target="_blank" id="E93" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;" rel="noopener"><span id="E94" style="box-sizing: border-box;">The Opioid Crisis Should Kill the Call to Legalize Hard Drugs</span></a><span id="E95" style="box-sizing: border-box;">”. He sees an opioid crisis and blames “drug libertarianism”.</span></p> <p id="E98" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E99" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Forgive me, but the libertarian argument for full legalization is a bit more nuanced than that.</span></p> <p id="E102" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E103" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Libertarians understand full well the dangers that hard drugs pose for society at large, but this is the very reason for their support for full legalization. Far from wanting anyone and their children to get their hands on heroin, they understand that drug prohibition itself has been the cause of the widespread use of these hard drugs.</span></p> <p id="E106" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E107" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Richard Cowen’s 1986 article, “</span><a href="" target="_blank" id="E108" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;" rel="noopener"><span id="E109" style="box-sizing: border-box;">How the Narcs Created Crack</span></a><span id="E110" style="box-sizing: border-box;">”, illustrates the “Iron Law of Prohibition”, which essentially states that the harder the crackdown on drugs, the harder the drugs become. There was no national conversation about heroin, meth, or crack-cocaine during the late 70s because there was no epidemic associated with these drugs. It was only once a militarized crackdown on marijuana and cocaine really got underway that black market entrepreneurs developed and sold the economic equivalent of bathtub gin that these hard drugs became a problem.</span></p> <p id="E113" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E114" style="box-sizing: border-box;">In my home state of Oklahoma, where meth use is rampant, law enforcement effectively eliminated the mom-and-pop labs that produced meth locally. But meth use still increased, and overdoses increased. What explains this? The Mexican drug cartels moved in, bringing their high potency meth, produced south of the border in super labs, and began supplying the demand. Oklahoma law enforcement unwittingly invited the cartels into this state, and are effectively the chief enforcers of their market share.</span></p> <p id="E117" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E118" style="box-sizing: border-box;">There is now a push by the Oklahoma AG to treat opioid manufacturers like organized crime through the use of the RICO law, but it only takes just a little imagination to understand that this would only benefit real organized crime.</span></p> <p id="E121" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E122" style="box-sizing: border-box;">The solution to the opioid epidemic isn’t to abandon the philosophy of liberty and opt for a renewed Drug War, but to develop a non-opioid based painkiller and make it widely available to patients and addicts. Cannabis appears to be the chief contender for this role, as it has been shown that addicts can be&nbsp;</span><a href="" target="_blank" id="E123" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;" rel="noopener"><span id="E124" style="box-sizing: border-box;">successfully</span></a><span id="E125" style="box-sizing: border-box;">&nbsp;weaned off their deadly poisons through the use of marijuana. And when given the choice, pain patients overwhelmingly&nbsp;</span><a href="" target="_blank" id="E126" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;" rel="noopener"><span id="E127" style="box-sizing: border-box;">prefer</span></a><span id="E128" style="box-sizing: border-box;">&nbsp;marijuana to opioids. So what’s the hold-up?</span></p> <p id="E131" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E132" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Prescribing heroin to those most susceptible to addiction, pain sufferers, should be an idea tossed in the dustbin, but the corollary policy doesn’t lie in the simplistic “let’s fight a war!” mindset. Simple-minded prohibition brought us to this precipice, it cannot bring us out. An amped-up, militarized war on prescription opioids will lead to an unprecedented plague of black market heroin, laced with fentanyl, elephant tranquilizers, and God knows what else.</span></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E132" style="box-sizing: border-box;">The&nbsp;</span>situation, then, will truly be out of control. The Cartel presence in the U.S. will become massive, and ubiquitous, as black market heroin profits will soar, corrupting law enforcement, the political class, and everyone standing to cash in. The United States will then truly become a Narco State.</p> </div> </div> <div id="contentsContainer" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;"> <div id="contents" style="box-sizing: border-box;"> <p id="E135" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;"><span id="E136" style="box-sizing: border-box;">Periods of national crisis are the true test of defenders of liberty and are the very times to defend the philosophy of liberty most vigorously, because it’s this philosophy that will lead the way out.</span></p> </div> </div> Drug control law Drug culture Drug liberalization Drug policy Euphoriants George Soros Health Heroin Law Market Share Meltdown Morphine Oklahoma Opioid epidemic Prohibition of drugs Reality RTT War on Drugs Sat, 18 Nov 2017 17:58:07 +0000 TDB 607511 at Dan Hannan Destroys The Growing Support For 'Socialism' In 100 Seconds <p>How is it that 100 years after The Bolshevik Revolution there are <strong>still people saying the idea of socialism wasn't so bad</strong>?</p> <p>British MEP Daniel Hannan exposes the ignorance of this line of thinking... in 100 seconds.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-video"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">How is it that 100 years after <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BolshevikRevolution</a> there are still people saying the idea of <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#socialism</a> wasn't so bad? asks <a href="">@DanielJHannan</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>— ECR Group (@ecrgroup) <a href="">November 17, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src=""></script><p>Still... what are historical facts worth when you have virtue to signal!?</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="407" height="255" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Anti-capitalism Artificial intelligence British MEP CAPTCHA Computer security Computer vision Conservatism in the United Kingdom Daniel Hannan Daniel Hannan De Economic ideologies Economic systems Philosophy Political ideologies Political movements Political philosophy Politics Socialism Socialist mode of production Structure Thought Twitter Twitter Virtue Sat, 18 Nov 2017 17:53:31 +0000 Tyler Durden 607474 at