en Here Is The Reason Why GM's July Car Sales Smashed Expectations <p>Moments ago GM impressed everyone once again when it reported that in the month of July it sold 272,512 cars in the US, or a 6.4% jump compared to a year earlier. This was an impressive beat to consensus expectations of just a 0.6% increase.</p> <p><img src="" width="600" height="372" /></p> <p>What caused this jump? </p> <p>On one hand the relentless surge in reckless debt-financing for car purchases continues to be a major factor, and as <a href="">Housing Wire reports </a>(what we have covered extensively in the past) "auto debt accounted for 81% of the increase in overall non-mortgage debt among mortgage holders over the past 4 years."</p> <p>But at this point it isn't just government-funded loans to subprime car purchasers. At this point it is the government itself which is buying GM cars hand over fist, thereby engaging in yet another indirect bailout of the formerly bankrupt automaker, which was bailed out by none other than the US government. To wit from GM's <a href="">monthly sales report:</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Fleet deliveries in July were down 20 percent year over year, as the company continues to execute its plan to reduce sales to rental customers and grow commercial and government deliveries. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Government sales were up 38 percent, with deliveries to state and local governments up 59 percent</strong></span>. Commercial deliveries were up year over year for the 21st consecutive month. Rental deliveries were down 36 percent.</p> </blockquote> <p>So fleet and rental deliveries plunging but who stepped up? Why the US government itself. </p> <p>In other words, after bailing out the company's balance sheet in 2009, Obama has taken it upon himself to next bail out the income statement of the government-rescued company which is trading over $1 under its IPO price.</p> <p>Of course, all of this will be for nothing if GM's Chinese auto sales - far more important for the bottom line - plunge in the coming months as they most likley will in the aftermath of the most turbulent month for domestic consumer sentiment since the great financial crisis. </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="333" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Auto Sales Consumer Sentiment None Mon, 03 Aug 2015 15:05:10 +0000 Tyler Durden 510996 at Jimmy Carter Rages At What The U.S. Has Become: "Just An Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery" <p><em>Submitted by Eric Zeusse,</em></p> <div> <p><a href=";v=hDsPWmioSHg" target="_blank">On July 28th,</a>&nbsp;Thom Hartmann interviewed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and, at the very end of his show (as if this massive question were merely an aftethought), asked him his opinion of the 2010&nbsp;Citizens United&nbsp;decision and the 2014McCutcheon&nbsp;decision, both decisions by the five Republican judges on the U.S. Supreme Court. <strong>These two historic decisions enable unlimited secret money (including foreign money) now to pour into U.S. political and judicial campaigns. Carter answered:</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it&rsquo;s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for President or being elected President. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we&rsquo;ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. &hellip;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>He was then cut off by the program, though that statement by Carter should have been the&nbsp;start&nbsp;of the program, not its&nbsp;end. </strong>(And the program didn&rsquo;t end with an invitation for him to return to discuss this crucial matter in depth &mdash; something for which he&rsquo;s qualified.)</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> </div> <div> <p><strong>So: was this former President&rsquo;s provocative allegation merely his opinion? Or was it actually lots more than that? It was&nbsp;lotsmore than that.</strong></p> </div> <div> <p>Only a single empirical study has actually been done in the social sciences regarding whether the historical record shows that the United States has been, during the survey&rsquo;s period, which in that case was between 1981 and 2002, a democracy (a nation whose leaders represent the public-at-large), or instead an aristocracy (or &lsquo;oligarchy&rsquo;) &mdash; a nation in which only the desires of the richest citizens end up being reflected in governmental actions. This study was titled&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">&ldquo;Testing Theories of American Politics,&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;and it was published by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page in the journal&nbsp;Perspectives on Politics, issued by the American Political Science Association in September 2014. I had summarized it earlier, on 14 April 2014, while the article was still awaiting its publication.</p> </div> <div> <p>The headline of my summary-article was&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">&ldquo;U.S. Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy Says Scientific Study.&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;I reported:<strong><em> &quot;The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham,&nbsp;no matter how much it&#39;s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation&#39;s &#39;news&#39;&nbsp;media).&rdquo; </em></strong>I then quoted the authors&rsquo; own summary: &ldquo;The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> </div> <div> <p>The scientific study closed by saying: &ldquo;In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule&mdash;at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes.&rdquo; A few other tolerably clear sentences managed to make their ways into this well-researched, but, sadly, atrociously written, paper, such as: <em>&ldquo;The preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of &lsquo;affluent&rsquo; citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do.&rdquo; </em>In other words, they found: The rich rule the U.S.</p> </div> <div> <p>Their study investigated specifically &ldquo;1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002 in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change,&rdquo; and then the policy-follow-ups, of whether or not the polled public preferences had been turned into polices, or, alternatively, whether the relevant corporate-lobbied positions had instead become public policy on the given matter, irrespective of what the public had wanted concerning it.</p> </div> <div> <p>The study period, 1981-2002, covered the wake of the landmark 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision,&nbsp;Buckley v. Valeo, which had started the aristocratic assault on American democracy, and which seminal (and bipartisan) pro-aristocratic court decision is described as follows by&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">wikipedia</a>: It &ldquo;struck down on First Amendment grounds several provisions in the 1974 Amendments to the&nbsp;Federal Election Campaign Act.&nbsp;The most prominent portions&nbsp;of the case struck down limits on spending&nbsp;in campaigns, but upheld the provision limiting the size of individual&nbsp;contributions to campaigns. The Court also&nbsp;narrowed, and then upheld,&nbsp;the Act&#39;s disclosure provisions, and struck down (on separation of&nbsp;powers grounds) the make-up of the Federal Election&nbsp;Commission, which as&nbsp;written allowed Congress to directly appoint members of the Commission,&nbsp;an executive agency.&rdquo;</p> </div> <div> <p><strong>Basically, the&nbsp;Buckley&nbsp;decision, and subsequent (increasingly partisan Republican) Supreme Court decisions, have allowed aristocrats to buy and control politicians.&nbsp;</strong></p> </div> <div> <p>Already, the major &lsquo;news&rsquo; media were owned and controlled by the aristocracy, and &lsquo;freedom of the press&rsquo; was really just freedom of aristocrats to control the &lsquo;news&rsquo; &mdash; to frame public issues in the ways the owners want. The media managers who are appointed by those owners select, in turn, the editors who, in their turn, hire only reporters who produce the propaganda that&rsquo;s within the acceptable range for the owners, to be &lsquo;the news&rsquo; as the public comes to know it.</p> </div> <div> <p>But, now, in the post-Buckley-v.-Valeo&nbsp;world, <strong>from Reagan on (and the resulting study-period of 1981-2002), aristocrats became almost totally free to buy also the political candidates they wanted.</strong> The &lsquo;right&rsquo; candidates, plus the &lsquo;right&rsquo; &lsquo;news&rsquo;-reporting about them, has thus bought the &lsquo;right&rsquo; people to &lsquo;represent&rsquo; the public, in the new American &lsquo;democracy,&rsquo; which Jimmy Carter now aptly calls &ldquo;subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.&rdquo;</p> </div> <div> <p>Carter &mdash; who had entered office in 1976, at the very start of that entire era of transition into an aristocratically controlled United States (and he left office in 1981, just as the study-period was starting) &mdash; expressed his opinion that, in the wake now of the two most extreme pro-aristocratic U.S. Supreme Court decisions ever (which are&nbsp;Citizens United&nbsp;in 2010, andMcCutcheon&nbsp;in 2014), American democracy is really only past tense, not present tense at all &mdash; no longer a reality.</p> </div> <div> <p><strong>He is saying, in effect, that, no matter how much the U.S. was a dictatorship by the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">rich</a>&nbsp;during 1981-2002 (the Gilens-Page study era), it&rsquo;s far worse now.</strong></p> </div> <div> <p>Apparently, Carter is correct:&nbsp;The New York Times&nbsp;front page on Sunday 2 August 2015 bannered,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">&quot;Small Pool of Rich Donors Dominates Election Giving,&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;and reported that:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&quot;A New York Times analysis of&nbsp;Federal Election&nbsp;Commission&nbsp;reports and Internal Revenue Service records&nbsp;shows that the fund-raising arms race has made most of the&nbsp;presidential hopefuls deeply dependent on a small pool of&nbsp;the richest Americans. The concentration of donors is&nbsp;greatest on the Republican side, according to the Times&nbsp;analysis, where consultants and lawyers have pushed more&nbsp;aggressively to exploit the looser fund-raising rules that&nbsp;have fueled the rise of&nbsp;super PACs. Just 130 or so families&nbsp;and their businesses provided more than half the money&nbsp;raised through June by Republican candidates and their&nbsp;super PACs.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The&nbsp;Times&nbsp;study shows that the Republican Party is overwhelmingly advantaged by the recent unleashing of big-corporate money power. All of the evidence suggests that though different aristocrats compete against each other for the biggest chunks of whatever the given nation has to offer,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">they all compete on the same side against the public</a>, in order to lower the wages of their workers, and to lower the standards for consumers&rsquo; safety and welfare so as to increase their own profits (transfer their costs and investment-losses onto others); and, so, now, the U.S. is&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">soaring again toward Gilded Age economic inequality</a>, perhaps to surpass the earlier era of unrestrained robber barons.&nbsp;And, the&nbsp;Times&nbsp;study shows: even in the Democratic Party, the mega-donations are going to only the most conservative (pro-corporate, anti-public) Democrats. Grass-roots politics could be vestigial, or even dead, in the new America.</p> </div> <div> <p><strong>The question has become whether the unrestrained power of the aristocracy is locked in this time even more permanently than it was in that earlier era. Or: will there be yet another FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) to restore a democracy that once was? Or: is a President like that any longer even possible in America?</strong></p> </div> <div> <p>As for today&rsquo;s political incumbents: they now have their careers for as long as they want and are willing to do the biddings of their masters. And, then, they retire to become, themselves, new members of the aristocracy, such as the Clintons have done, and such as the Obamas will do. (Of course, the Bushes have been aristocrats since early in the last century.)</p> </div> <div> <p><u><strong>Furthermore, the new age of aristocratic control is&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">not merely national but international in scope</a>; so,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">the global aristocracy</a> have probably found the formula that will keep them in control until they&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">destroy the entire world</a>. </strong></u>What&rsquo;s especially interesting is that, with all of the many tax-exempt, &lsquo;non-profit&rsquo; &lsquo;charities,&rsquo; which aristocrats have established, none of them is warring to defeat the aristocracy itself &mdash; to defeat the aristocrats&rsquo; system of exploitation of the public. It&rsquo;s the one thing they won&rsquo;t create a &lsquo;charity&rsquo; for; none of them will go to war against&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">the expoitative interests of themselves and of their own exploitative peers. <u><em><strong>They&rsquo;re all in this together</strong></em></u></a><u><em><strong>, even though they do compete amongst themselves for dominance, as to which ones of them will lead against the public. And the public seem to accept this&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">modern form of debt-bondage</a>, perhaps because of the &lsquo;news&rsquo; they see, and because of the news they don&rsquo;t see (such as this).</strong></em></u></p> </div> <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="347" height="187" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> First Amendment New York Times None Reality Mon, 03 Aug 2015 14:41:28 +0000 Tyler Durden 510995 at LIBOR Scapegoat Found Guilty, Sentenced To 14 Years <p><em><strong>Update</strong></em>: Hayes has been sentenced to 14 years in jail.</p> <p>* &nbsp;* &nbsp;*</p> <p>Tom Hayes, the former UBS trader standing trial for his role in manipulating LIBOR, was found guilty on eight counts in a London court. The jury, which deliberated for a week, was unanimous in its decision. To wit, <a href="">from Bloomberg</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong><em>Former UBS Group AG and Citigroup Inc. trader Tom Hayes, the first person to stand trial for manipulating Libor, was found guilty of eight counts of conspiracy to rig the benchmark rate.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>After a week of deliberations, jurors unanimously found that the 35-year-old conspired with traders at brokers to dishonestly game the London interbank offered rate to benefit his own trading positions.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>As Bloomberg notes, Hayes is the first person to stand trial for rigging the benchmark and had contended that he only pleaded guilty in the first place because he had an intense fear of having to serve a lengthy prison sentence in the US. </p> <p>Hayes was also quick to remind the court that the practice of gaming the submissions to benefit trading books was so ubiquitous as to be <a href="">enshrined</a> in an official LIBOR rigging guide called "<em>Guide to Publishing Libor Rates</em>" that was distributed to UBS employees. It was also revealed during the trial that Hayes has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, <a href="">which means</a> he tends to "only see the world in black and white" - apparently that was supposed to be seen as a mitigating factor.</p> <p>In the end, it appears that the public needed a head (not literally we hope), and because prosecuting senior executives for such things is absolutely out of the question even when, as <a href="">we saw last week</a> with Anshu Jain, they were not only supportive of the practice but in fact physically moved desks around to facilitate it, Hayes will be the fall guy.&nbsp;</p> <p>Or, as we put it in June: "Will Hayes' quest to diffuse responsibility and bring down more senior executives with him succeed? Hardly."</p> <p>We'll give Tom the last word here and although we're not entirely sure what this quote means, we're sure there's a lesson in it somewhere:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>"I’ve always wanted to do my job as perfectly as I could, whether I was cleaning a deep fat fryer or deboning a chicken. They always gave me those jobs because they knew there would be no chicken left on the bone and no fat left in the fryer."</em> </p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><img src="" width="444" height="286" /><br /></em> </p><p>&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <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="444" height="286" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Citigroup LIBOR Mon, 03 Aug 2015 14:28:52 +0000 Tyler Durden 510994 at "Seasonally Data Dependent": Adjusted New Orders Highest In 2015; Unadjusted Lowest Since 2013 <p>As <a href="">reported earlier</a>, the only silver lining in today's Manufacturing ISM reported which was not only released earlier after MNI broke the embargo, but a miss to expectations, had just one silver lining: New Orders rose from 56.0 to 56.5. This was also the highest New Orders print since December of 2014, and was the only bright spot in an otherwise terrible report.</p> <p>Even the ISM's Holcombe was quick to praise it.</p> <ul> <li><strong>US ISM'S HOLCOMB: NEW ORDERS AT HIGH FOR YEAR VERY POSITIVE</strong></li> </ul> <p>However, a more than cursory look at the headline reveals something quite <em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>un</strong></span></em>positive: the <em><strong>only</strong></em> reason they New Orders print came where it did, <em><strong>is due to seasonal adjustments.</strong></em></p> <p>As the chart below shows, which tracks the Manufacturing ISM New Orders history, while the seasonally adjusted New Orders datapoint was indeed the highest since 2015, the unadjusted, or one which merely reflects what respondents are saying even as they already factor in for seasonals (which goes back to the idiocy of seasonally adjusting a survey which is already <em><strong>subliminally </strong></em>adjusted) New Orders of 52.5 was the lowest print not only in 2015, but the lowest since December 2013.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="393" /></a></p> <p>Just to repeat because it bears repeating: the exact same data point <strong>can either be the highest since 2014 or the lowest since 2013 depending on whether one "seasonally adjusts" it.</strong></p> <p>And this is the "data" that the Fed has to work with: is it any wonder Yellen has absolutely no clue what to do?</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="831" height="544" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 14:21:40 +0000 Tyler Durden 510993 at Construction Spending Growth Slumps To 2015 Lows <p>A dramatic upward revision from 0.8% MoM to 1.8% MoM (after March's biggest jump since 1998), may be a small silver lining in the rear view mirror as <strong>construction spending growth tumbled to just 0.1% in May - the weakest since Nov 2014</strong>. It seems the climactic malinvestment boom in the last 3 months is faltering fast and is entirely unsustainable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="312" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Charts: Bloomberg</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="964" height="501" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 14:09:27 +0000 Tyler Durden 510992 at "Everyday Americans" Hillary And Bill Clinton Report $140 Million In Taxable Income Since 2007 <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Clinton told ABC’s <a href="">Diane Sawyer in a June interview</a>, “<strong>We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt</strong>." </p> </blockquote> <p>Ever since Mitt Romney's tax disclosure fiasco in which allegations of tax avoidance and usage of offshore tax shelters played a major part in the democrat counter campaign, there has been great interest in the Adjusted Gross Income reported by presidential candidates. Which is why to avoid any surprises on the primary circuit, Hillary Clinton released the full data of her and Bill's tax income going back to 2007.</p> <p>So without further ado, here is the Clinton family's adjusted gross income since 2007. The summary: $139.1 million in income since 2007, most of it thanks to speeches starting at $225,000 and going much higher. </p> <p>And that is your <strong>"everyday Americans.</strong>"</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="367" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Over this period, the dynastic presidential family paid $43.9 million in Federal Tax:</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="366" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A spread of just the Federal and Combined tax rate reveals the following picture:</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="384" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here is what Hillary posted on her <a href="">disclosure statement</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>As the returns detail, since 2007, the Clintons have paid $43,885,310 in federal income taxes. In the two most recent years, 2013 and 2014, the Clintons paid an effective federal tax rate of 35.4 percent and 35.7 percent, respectively. When accounting for state and local taxes, the Clintons’ combined effective tax rate was 44.6 percent in 2013 and 45.8 percent in 2014.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since 2007, the Clintons have also made $14,959,450 in charitable contributions. In 2013, charitable giving represented 11.4 percent of their income. In 2014, it represented 10.8 percent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To supplement the disclosure of her tax returns, Clinton posted a complete inventory of paid speeches delivered by both her and her husband in 2013. The disclosure includes the amount earned for each speaking engagement. The same information was released for her husband annually during Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. Corresponding data for 2014 and the early part of 2015 was released in May on Clinton’s financial disclosure report.</p> </blockquote> <p>Some more amusing soundbites:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Families like mine that reap rewards from our economy have a responsibility to pay our fair share. And it’s not just the right thing to do—it’s also good for growth. To create jobs and raise incomes, our country needs resources to make big investments in infrastructure, innovation, clean energy, and education. That’s vital if we’re going to make the economy work for everyone, not just those already at the top.</p> </blockquote> <p>And here is the bribery, pardon speech breakdown for 2013, first Hillary:</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="554" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Then Bill:</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="563" /></a></p> <p>Note the biggest contributor year in and out for both: Wall Street.</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="640" height="480" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Federal Tax White House Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:46:29 +0000 Tyler Durden 510991 at Obama Authorizes "Defensive" Airstrikes Against Assad Regime In Syria <p>On Friday, we <a href="">checked in</a> on the Pentagon’s ongoing effort to recruit, vet, and train ambitious "freedom fighters" to join the battle against ISIS in Syria.&nbsp;</p> <p>It goes without saying that covert US efforts to aid the multifarious groups vying for control of the country have met with disastrous consequences so far, but if there’s anything Washington is particularly adept at, it’s making bad foreign policy outcomes worse, which is why we weren’t at all surprised to learn that the commander of the Pentagon's new Syrian "force" was captured, along with his deputy, by al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra last week near the border with Turkey.</p> <p>The NY Times <a href="">called the kidnapping</a> "perhaps [the] most embarrassing setback yet," for Washington’s ragtag contingent of volunteer militiamen and indeed, the fact that the Pentagon had hoped to field a "force" of 3,000 men by the end of the year but has so far only managed to train 54 speaks to the futility of the entire effort.&nbsp;</p> <p>Or perhaps not. It all depends on what the real aim behind the program was in the first place. If the goal was to field a fierce band of well-trained warriors to rout Islamic State, then things aren’t going so well. If, however, the idea was simply to give the US an excuse to get directly involved in facilitating the swift demise of Bashar al-Assad now that his forces have been largely decimated by a three-front war, well it’s mission accomplished, because as WSJ reports, <strong>President Obama has now authorized US airstrikes against Assad’s army in the event they interfere with America’s very serious 50 solider effort to combat ISIS.</strong> Here’s <a href="">more</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong><em>President Barack Obama has authorized using air power to defend a new U.S.-backed fighting force in Syria if it is attacked by Syrian government forces or other groups, raising the risk of the American military coming into direct conflict with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>U.S. officials said the decision ended a monthslong debate over the role the American military should play in supporting its few allies on the battlefield in Syria. Administration officials had been deeply concerned that defending the Pentagon-backed force could inadvertently open the first open conflict with the Assad government, which has denounced the U.S. program.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Though the new rules allow Pentagon strikes to defend the U.S.-allied force against any regime attacks, U.S. military officials played down the chances of a direct confrontation, at least in the near term. The newly trained force has committed to fighting Islamic State, not the regime, and won’t be fielded in areas the regime controls. U.S. officials say they believe the regime won’t challenge the new force.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Officials said another impetus for the decision was the recent insertion of the first group of Pentagon-trained fighters into northern Syria, where last week they were ambushed by al Qaeda-linked fighters.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The Pentagon has struggled to recruit and vet rebels for the new train-and-equip program which it launched last year, in part because the U.S. is asking them to fight Islamic State instead of the Assad regime. Most rebels see the government as their main enemy. <strong>U.S. military officials say fewer than 60 rebels have completed the Pentagon training program and re-entered the fight so far, casting doubt on the effort.</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Defense Secretary Ash Carter has acknowledged the recruitment problems, but he has said the effort is essential to the administration’s strategy to turn the tide against Islamic State.&nbsp;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>While the new rules don’t explicitly name the Assad regime, officials said the guidelines will allow the Pentagon to defend the new force against any attackers, including the regime and the Nusra Front, Syria’s al Qaeda affiliate.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>"For offensive operations, it’s ISIS only. But if attacked, we’ll defend them against anyone who’s attacking them," said a senior military official. <strong>"We’re not looking to engage the regime, but we’ve made a commitment to help defend these people."</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, the US isn’t looking for a fight with Assad, but now Washington is willing to concede that "engaging" the regime might be necessary should it inexplicably decide to attack a group of US-trained fighters who are ostensibly battling the same group that the regime is fighting. </p> <p>Of course Assad might be forgiven for being a bit confused as to exactly what’s going on because after all, the CIA is conducting a parallel program explicitly designed to facilitate his ouster. Here’s <a href="">WSJ again</a>:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>The U.S. hasn’t yet used air power to help defend the new force against the regime, and military officials made clear they hoped that day would never come because of the risk it could lead to a direct conflict between the U.S. and the Assad government, which is backed by Russia and Iran.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Last year, the Nusra Front attacked rebel groups linked to a separate train-and-equip program run by the Central Intelligence Agency. The assault pushed the CIA-backed rebels out of northern Syria.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>In response, the spy agency has shifted its support to rebel units in the south. In contrast to the Pentagon program, the CIA program has been focused on fighting the Assad regime.</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Obviously, this looks like a rather transparent effort to make it effectively impossible for Assad to avoid open conflict with the US. Recall that in June, when Obama was criticized for having no clear plan to combat ISIS, we suggested that in reality, the plan may be simply to wait until the Assad regime was on the ropes and then storm in to "liberate" the country from its "terror-linked" conquerors. </p> <p>Of course that effort will need plenty of PR sparkle to ensure the American public gets behind the whole "boots on the ground" idea which the administration has so far pledged isn't on the table, so being able to say that the Assad regime is actively interfering with the fight against ISIS would serve as a nice cover story and indeed, don't be surprised when the reports start to trickle in that airstrikes on regime forces were necessary to "defend" Pentagon-linked freedom fighters.&nbsp;</p> <p>Once again, ISIS is but a distraction here. The goal from the start was to destabilize the Assad government and ultimately to bring about regime change in order to facilitate the geopolitical and economic agenda of the US and its regional allies. Islamic State was and is simply a cover story. What's particularly unnerving is the degree to which the group is now being used by Turkey as an <a href="">excuse to exterminate</a> Ankara's political rivals. In other words, ISIS is no longer just a red herring for the willful usurpation of Assad - it now appears as though NATO members have been given free reign to capitalize politically and economically on the world's detestation of Islamic State.&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="564" height="348" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barack Obama Iran President Obama Reality SPY SWIFT Turkey Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:38:21 +0000 Tyler Durden 510989 at ISM Manufacturing Slumps To 3-Month Lows Led By Plunge In Employment <p>It appears ISM Manufacturing data has been 'leaked' early and is reportedly printing 52.7 in July, down from 53.5 prior and missing expectations. This is the <strong>weakest print since March as the Q2 bounce is now officially dead</strong>. Both imports (lowest since Jan 2013) and new export orders (lowest in 3 years) declined as <strong>employment tumbled</strong>. In fact every subcomponent fell aside from new orders, production, and supplier deliveries with order backlogs at their lowest since Nov 2012.</p> <p>The bounce is dead...</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="319" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>with broad-based weakness....</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="277" /></a></p> <p>What the respondents were saying:</p> <ul> <li>"AI [Avian Influenza] fears in poultry industry [are] killing exports." (Food, Beverage &amp; Tobacco Products)</li> <li>"The market is in the summer slow-down." (Fabricated Metal Products)</li> <li>"Oil price decline continues to negatively impact Oil &amp; Gas industry in North America as many projects are not economically viable. Oil &amp; Gas jobs outlook is in retrenchment. Petrochemical (refining and chemical manufacturing) is positive from a margin perspective, but focus is steady on safe cost containment." (Petroleum &amp; Coal Products)</li> <li>"Falling oil prices are once again driving chemical raw materials prices lower and creating an expectation of even lower prices in the coming months." (Chemical Products)</li> <li>"The month of July was really slow, slower than the previous month. We are optimistic for the remainder of the year." (Computer &amp; Electronic Products)</li> <li>"Global orders still holding up in the wake of international uncertainties." (Fabricated Metal Products)</li> <li>"Business conditions are stable, little change from last month." (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)</li> <li>"There’s an abundance of containerboard in the global markets." (Paper Products)</li> <li>"Inbound logistics are almost back to normal." (Machinery)</li> <li>"Business continues to be strong." (Furniture and Related Products)</li> </ul> <p>And while one can doubt in the current rout there are any commodities in short supply, according to the ISM for the second consecutive month there was an egg shortage across the US.</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="951" height="505" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:28:18 +0000 Tyler Durden 510990 at Another One Bites The Coal Dust - Alpha Natural Files For Bankruptcy <p>Amid the collapse in coal prices, not helped by the &#39;China situation&#39; and President Obama&#39;s nudge, <a href="">WSJ reports</a> that the ailing US coal just got another black eye as <strong>Alpha Natural Resources is expected to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early Monday to cut its more than $3 billion debt load.</strong> After four straight annual losses, Alpha - one of America&#39;s largest coal producers - has secured $692mm in DIP financing as it prepares its restructuring plan expected to sell some of the best mines and shutter others. It appears the Arch Coal&#39;s CEO&#39;s ominous words last week were prophetic -<em><strong> &ldquo;Coal markets are as difficult as I&rsquo;ve seen them during my 30 years in the industry.&quot;</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>From bad to worse...</strong></em></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 321px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><strong>On top of Australia&#39;s mining industry collapse...</strong></a> Now, the US industry&#39;s plunge is gathering pace, a<a href=""><em>s The Wall Street Journal reports,</em></a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Alpha Natural Resources Inc. is expected to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early Monday to cut its more than $3 billion debt load, according to people familiar with the matter, as a severe slump in coal prices continues to wreak havoc on the industry.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Bristol, Va., company,<strong> one of the largest U.S. coal producers,</strong> hasn&rsquo;t completed the terms of a restructuring plan but will likely sell some of its best mines or turn them over to creditors and close others during its trip through bankruptcy court, the people said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Alpha has secured as much as $600 million in bankruptcy financing from senior lenders and secured bondholders to fund its operations during its chapter 11 case, some of the people said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>A steep drop in coal prices has Alpha and its rivals bleeding cash and choking on debt taken on to finance acquisitions around the start of the decade, when the industry&rsquo;s outlook was rosier. </strong>In 2011, Alpha paid $7.1 billion for rival mining company Massey Energy Inc., a deal that extended Alpha&rsquo;s lead as the largest miner of the type of coal used in steelmaking.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ut the price of metallurgical coal has hit an 11-year low amid an economic slowdown in China, the world&rsquo;s largest producer of steel. Thermal-coal prices have also plummeted as power plants switch to abundant and relatively clean-burning natural gas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The slump has a number of coal companies at risk. </strong>Walter Energy Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection last month with a plan to hand control of the company to senior creditors, after chapter 11 filings by Patriot Coal Corp. and Xinergy Ltd. earlier this year. Arch Coal Inc., meanwhile, is working with bankers and lawyers who specialize in helping struggling companies, The Wall Street Journal has reported, and is facing lender pushback on a proposed debt-for-debt exchange meant to reduce its borrowings and interest costs.</p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>But but but low commodity prices are unequivocally good for America right?</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="953" height="510" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Australia China Creditors Natural Gas President Obama Wall Street Journal Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:02:29 +0000 Tyler Durden 510988 at WTI Crude Crashes To $45 Handle - Lowest Since March <p>Spending and Income data appears to have been the trigger sending WTI and Brent crude prices dramatically lower. <strong>WTI has now broken to a $45 handle, its lowest since mid-March..</strong></p> <p>WTI $45 handle...</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="313" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Copper is also joining the party...</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="312" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Charts: Bloomberg</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="966" height="504" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Copper Crude Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:42:41 +0000 Tyler Durden 510987 at