en Zombie Corporations: Over 10% Of Global Companies Depend On Cheap Fed Money <p><em><a href="">Authored by Mike Shedlock via,</a></em></p> <p>Ten percent of corporations <strong>survive only because central banks have kept real interest rates negative</strong>.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 318px;" /></a></p> <div> <div> <div> <p><strong>The BIS defines Zombie firms as those with a ratio of earnings before interest and taxes to interest expenses below one, with the firm aged 10 years or more.</strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div> <div> <p>In simple terms, Zombies are those firms that could not survive without a flow of cheap financing.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div> <div> <p>The above chart shows the median share of zombie firms across AU, BE, CA, CH, DE, DK, ES, FR, GB, IT, JP, NL, SE and US.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div> <div> <p>According to the <a href="" target="_blank">BIS Quarterly Report</a> one out of ten corporations in emerging and advanced countries is a &quot;Zombie&quot;.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div> <div> <p>Let&#39;s dive into the report for more details.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div> <div> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div> <p>The inability to come to grips with the financial cycle has been a key reason for the unsatisfactory performance of the global economy and limited room for policy manoeuvre.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since 2007, productivity growth has slowed in both advanced economies and EMEs. One potential factor behind this decline is a persistent misallocation of capital and labour, as reflected by the growing share of unprofitable firms. Indeed, the share of zombie firms &ndash; whose interest expenses exceed earnings before interest and taxes &ndash; has increased significantly despite unusually low levels of interest rates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Over the past 10 years, there has been a close positive correlation between the growth of corporate credit and investment. A build-up of corporate debt has financed investment in many economies, particularly in EMEs, including high investment rates in China. Turning financial cycles in these economies could therefore weigh on investment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As with consumption, the level of debt can affect investment. Rising interest rates would push up debt service burdens in countries with high corporate debt.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moreover, in EMEs with large shares of such debt in foreign currency, domestic currency depreciation could hurt investment. As mentioned before, an appreciation of funding currencies, mainly the US dollar, increases debt burdens where currency mismatches are present and tightens financial conditions (the exchange rate risktaking channel).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Empirical evidence suggests that a depreciation of EME currencies against the US dollar dampens investment significantly, offsetting to a large extent the positive impact of higher net exports.</p> </blockquote> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div> <div> <h3><u>End of the Rate Hike Cycle</u></h3> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div> <div> <p>For the above reasons, I believe the end of the global recovery is at hand.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div> <div> <p><em><strong>And when the next bust happens, the last thing central banks will be doing is raising interest rates.</strong></em></p> </div> </div> </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="528" height="289" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> African Union BIS Business Central Banks China Economy Economy of the European Union Eurozone Finance Global Economy Investment Money Real interest rate Real Interest Rates recovery Stock market crashes Mon, 18 Dec 2017 18:24:46 +0000 Tyler Durden 609385 at LFIN Fin? Big-Data, Blockchain Company Halted For 10th Time Today <p><strong><u>Update</u></strong>: And the halts just keep coming...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 286px;" /></a></p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><u><strong>Update:</strong></u> After its 7th halt of the day, LFIN reopened and instantly collapsed by over 50%...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 295px;" /></a></p> <p>And now it is halted again!</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><u><strong>Update: </strong></u>Well that escalated quickly...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 341px;" /></a></p> <p>The stock is now up over 500% today and has been halted numerous times...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 413px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>Having closed last Thursday on its IPO-day at $5.38, news of the acquisition of Ziddu - a blockchain solutions provider (whatever that means in the real world) - <strong><em>LongFin has since exploded to $44.80 in today&#39;s pre-market... up 730% in 2 days.</em></strong></p> <p><a href="">Remember LongFin?</a> <strong>an independent finance and technology company. </strong>The Company offers commodity trading, alternate risk transfer, and carry trade financing services. LongFin also provides hedging and risk management solutions to importers, exporters, and small medium business enterprises. LongFin serves customers worldwide.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="113" src="" width="325" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><em>As iBankCoin notes</em></a>, it has all of the trimmings of wanton degeneracy on an industrial scale.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Recent IPO:</strong> check</li> <li><strong>Small float:</strong> check</li> <li><strong>Shady as heck:</strong> check</li> <li><strong>AI company:</strong> check</li> </ul> <p>and the cherry on the top...</p> <ul> <li>a day after coming public, they announce the <strong>purchase of a blockchain company: </strong>check</li> </ul> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><strong>On Thursday Dec 14th, LongFin launched as a FinTech company that helped with FX hedging</strong> (and slipped from its post-IPO open price to close lower)</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>US-based Longfin Corp., a Fintech company providing Finance and foreign exchange hedging solutions to importers and exporters and SMEs, started trading on Nasdaq from today.<br />According to a statement issued by Longfin, its Low Latency Network is connected to multiple exchanges and banks across the regions to provide the cheapest Forex hedging and low-cost financing to small and medium-size importers and exporters across the globe.<br />Longfin Founder Venkata S. Meenavalli said, &quot;We are the first Asian Entrepreneur promoted Reg A+ company under JOBS Act, to list its shares directly in Nasdaq and the second Indian entrepreneur promoted company to list directly in the Nasdaq since 2010&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>On Friday Dec 15th, they acquired Ziddue and became the future face of Cyrptocurrency awesomeness</strong>...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Longfin Corp. (NASDAQ: LFIN), a leading global FinTech company, announces the acquisition of, a Blockchain-empowered solutions provider that offers Microfinance Lending against Collateralized Warehouse Receipts in the form of Ziddu Coins.</p> </blockquote> <p>And with all those buzzwords, why wouldn&#39;t it be up 730%!!!!</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 333px;" /></a></p> <p>As a reminder, there are no financials on this company, no reg details on shares outstanding, and no direct evidence of a business model that makes any money?</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="958" height="456" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> artificial intelligence Blockchains Business Carry Trade Cryptocurrencies Economy Encodings Finance Financial market Financial technology Money NASDAQ NASDAQ NASDAQ 100 Risk Management Mon, 18 Dec 2017 18:17:04 +0000 Tyler Durden 609363 at Today's The Day: Twitter To Start Purging Users And Prevent "Certain Content From Trending" <p>Twitter will begin suspending accounts which engage in "hateful conduct" or affiliate with organizations which "use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes" both on and off the platform,&nbsp;following a <a href="" target="_blank">November announcement</a>. The new rules apply to whatever Twitter deems "hateful," including "hateful images or symbols in your profile image or profile header."&nbsp;</p> <p><em><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="297" /></a><br />Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO</em></p> <p>Moreover, Twitter will <em>officially</em>&nbsp;begin restricting "trending" content, to wit: </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>At times, we may prevent certain content from trending.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>While many conservative Twitter users have suffered unfair account suspensions, mysterious drops in retweets and likes on <a href="" target="_blank">controversial tweets</a>, overnight drops in follower count, and unexplained disappearances of trending topics which paint liberals in a bad light, Twitter's new rules effectively allow the social media giant to openly engage in censorship without repercussion.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Via <a href="" target="_blank">Twitter Help Center</a>:&nbsp;</em></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Abusive Behavior</strong></span></p> <p><strong><br /></strong></p> <p><strong>We believe in freedom of expression and open dialogue, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. </strong>In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we prohibit behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Context matters when evaluating for abusive behavior and determining appropriate enforcement actions. </strong>Factors we may take into consideration include, but are not limited to whether:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>the behavior is targeted at an individual or group of people;</li> <li>the report has been filed by the target of the abuse or a bystander;</li> <li>the behavior is newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Violence: You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people. This includes, but is not limited to, threatening or promoting terrorism.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You also may not affiliate with organizations that - whether by their own statements or activity<strong> both on and off the platform - </strong>use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Abuse: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. We consider abusive behavior an attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else’s voice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Hateful conduct</strong>: You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Hateful imagery and display names:</strong> You may not use hateful images or symbols in your profile image or profile header. You also may not use your username, display name, or profile bio to engage in abusive behavior, such as targeted harassment or expressing hate towards a person, group, or protected category.</p> </blockquote> <p>While Twitter's new rules are sure to lead to the purge of countless supremacists, you can say goodbye to <strong>Pepe the Frog -</strong>&nbsp;a cartoon meme made popular during the 2016 election among Trump voters, which the <a href="" target="_blank">ADL considers</a>&nbsp;to be a hate symbol despite a small percentage of Pepe memes expressing anti-Semitism or bigotry.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="348" /></a></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">If I get booted from Twitter in the purge tomorrow, you’ll be able to find me talking to my kids for once and seeing what it’s like outside.</p> <p>— Gavin McInnes (@Gavin_McInnes) <a href="">December 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src=""></script><p>Last month Twitter suspended it's "blue check mark" verification policy, stating that it will rescind a user's verified status if a person violates company guidelines. With blue checks having become a status symbol over the years, Twitter thinks the system is flawed and needs an overhaul.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realized some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered,” CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted in November. “And we failed by not doing anything about it. Working now to fix faster.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Verification was meant to authenticate identity &amp; voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon</p> <p>— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) <a href="">November 9, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src=""></script><p>The announcement was quickly followed by the removal of blue checks from white nationalist Richard Spencer's account, <em>Unite the Right</em>&nbsp;organizer and former Obama activist Jason Kessler, and conservative Jewish journalist Laura Loomer - who compared the loss of her blue check to the holocaust.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">And so it begins. Twitter is quick to call me and others Nazis, but they are literally trying to eradicate my presence. Just like Hitler. <a href=""></a></p> <p>— Laura Loomer (@LauraLoomer) <a href="">November 16, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src=""></script><p>Twitter's recent changes have sparked a stampede of users to competing social network <a href="" target="_blank"></a>, "<strong>a social network that champions free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online. All are welcome</strong>."&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">If I get booted from Twitter in the purge tomorrow,you'll be able to find me on gab????<a href="">@jimLibertarian</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NoRereatNoSurrender</a> ???? <a href=""></a></p> <p>— Jim Mad Dog Maddox (@jimlibertarian) <a href="">December 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src=""></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Ahead of the <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TwitterPurge</a> make sure you follow me on You can find me DavidVance. (I am verified over there too!) Let’s drain the twitter swamp!</p> <p>— David Vance (@DVATW) <a href="">November 27, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src=""></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Not sure what's up with this whole Twitter Purge chatter, but I'm on Gab too at <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>— Jared Beck ???? (@JaredBeck) <a href="">December 17, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src=""></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">If I get purged in the <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TwitterPurge</a> tomorrow you can follow me on my account or millennial <a href=""></a> &amp; check my YouTube MillennialMillie for updates.</p> <p>— Millie Weaver (@Millie__Weaver) <a href="">December 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src=""></script><p>At this rate, someday you'll hop on Gab to tell your grandchildren where you were when the great Twitter purge began.</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="600" height="291" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Gab Jack Dorsey Microblogging Real-time web Social Issues Social media Social networking services Software Technology Text messaging Twitter Twitter Twitter World Wide Web Mon, 18 Dec 2017 18:10:47 +0000 Tyler Durden 609362 at Trump Releases Full National Security Strategy - Takes Aim At China, Russia In Defense Of Unipolar World Order <p><u><strong>Update:</strong></u> The White House has released the Full National Security Strategy document:</p> <p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" title="Trump National Security Strategy" src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-bOQUIxG6u1qHtsj0tP5b&amp;show_recommendations=true" data-auto-height="false" data-aspect-ratio="0.75" scrolling="no" id="doc_253" width="600" height="800" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>President Trump is due to speak at 1430ET.</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>As we detailed earlier, President Trump is expected to release the new National Security Strategy for the United States this afternoon. <a href="">We discussed the potential drivers behing his reportedly aggressive stance yesterday</a>, but the bigger questions remain...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Will it rein in some of the global adventurism of the Bush and Obama presidencies? </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Will it correct the gaping disconnect between what the White House says about places like North Korea and what the Secretary of State says?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>Will the neocons successfully parlay the document into a road-map for more wars? </strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>While initial reports showed Trump <strong>attacking China</strong>...taking a much tougher stance on China than previous administrations.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;The national security strategy is likely to <strong>define China as a competitor in every realm. Not just a competitor but a threat, and therefore, in the view of many in this administration, an adversary,</strong>&rdquo; said one person.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;This is not something that they just cooked up. Mar-a-Lago interrupted the campaign rhetoric, and Xi Jinping took a little gamble and came here and embraced Trump. Trump said &lsquo;fine, do something on North Korea and on trade&rsquo;, but that didn&rsquo;t work out so well.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 560px; height: 296px;" /></a></p> <p>It appears that <strong>Russia is also in the crosshairs</strong> - merely serving to confirm our perspective that this is a pro-unipolar-world-order-defending national security strategy - as opposed to trade-related nonsense.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 560px; height: 283px;" /></a></p> <p>As for Russia&rsquo;s ambitions, <a href="">The Wall Street Journal reports</a> that <strong>the strategy says the Kremlin is developing new military systems, cyber capabilities and subversive tactics, including the use of paid social-media actors, to interfere in the internal political affairs of other nations. </strong>American intelligence officials have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Russia&rsquo;s broader calculation is that it can engage in such activities without risk of a military confrontation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The Kremlin assumes that &ldquo;the United States often views the world in binary terms, with states being either &lsquo;at peace&rsquo; or &lsquo;at war,&rsquo; when it is actually an arena of continuous competition.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But Russia&rsquo;s actions have led to an increased risk of a military conflict as a result of Russian miscalculation, according to the strategy.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><em>As Reuters reports, </em></a><strong>the singling out of China and Russia as &ldquo;revisionist powers&rdquo; in the document reflects the Trump administration&rsquo;s wariness of them despite Trump&rsquo;s own attempts to build strong relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence,&rdquo; according to excerpts of Trump&rsquo;s strategy released by the White House.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A senior administration official who briefed reporters said Russia and China were attempting to revise the global status quo - Russia in Europe with its military incursions into Ukraine and Georgia, and China in Asia by its aggression in the South China Sea.</p> </blockquote> <p>And while &#39;trade&#39; is the cover, perhaps it was comments from <strong>HR McMaster,</strong> US national security adviser who oversaw the strategy, this week that confirm the threat to dollar hegemony as he said <strong>China - along with Russia - was a &ldquo;revisionist power&rdquo; that was &ldquo;undermining the international order.&quot;</strong></p> <p>And that would be the unipolar world order with Washington on top.</p> <p><a href="">The Daily Caller</a> has seen a copy of the document and <a href="">Peter Hasson notes</a> the <strong>stark contrast between President Trump&rsquo;s America First National Security Strategy and former President Barack Obama&rsquo;s most recent national security strategy in 2015</strong>.</p> <h2><u><strong>Renewed Focus On Islamist Terrorism</strong></u></h2> <p>Trump&rsquo;s new national security strategy places an emphasis on stopping Islamist terrorism and calls it out by name. Obama&rsquo;s 2015 national security <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">strategy</a>&nbsp;referred to Islam just twice: once because it&rsquo;s part of ISIS&rsquo; name and once to say the administration rejected &ldquo;the lie that America and its allies are at war with Islam.&rdquo;</p> <p>The new national security strategy explicitly links Islamist ideology to jihadist terrorism.</p> <p>&ldquo;The United States continues to wage a long war against jihadist terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. These groups are linked by a common radical Islamist ideology that encourages violence against the United States and our partners and produces misery for those under their control,&rdquo; the new strategy states.</p> <p>Trump&rsquo;s strategy also notes, &ldquo;jihadist terrorists such as ISIS and al-Qaida continue to spread a barbaric ideology that calls for the violent destruction of governments and innocents they consider to be apostates. These Islamist terrorists attempt to force those under their influence to submit to Sharia law.&rdquo; A source familiar with the strategy&rsquo;s drafting process described the reference to Sharia law as a &ldquo;huge&rdquo; inclusion by the Trump administration.</p> <h2><u><strong>Dumping Climate Change As A &lsquo;</strong><strong>National Security Threat&rsquo;</strong></u></h2> <p>Obama&rsquo;s 2015 national security strategy prioritized climate change as a national security threat. Obama&rsquo;s strategy devoted more space to the threat posed by climate change than to the threat posed by North Korea.&nbsp;&ldquo;Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water,&rdquo; Obama&rsquo;s national security strategy said.</p> <p>Trump&rsquo;s national security strategy reverses that approach and does not identify climate change as a national security threat. In fact, it goes one step further.</p> <p>&ldquo;U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an antigrowth energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests,&rdquo; the new strategy states. &ldquo;Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.&rdquo;</p> <p>The 2015 strategy noted that the administration was &ldquo;working toward an ambitious new global climate change agreement,&rdquo; which became the Paris Climate Accords.</p> <p>Trump withdrew the United States from the climate deal last summer, denouncing it as a threat to American sovereignty.</p> <p>In what appears to be a reference to the Paris deal, Trump&rsquo;s new strategy states that &ldquo;it should be clear that the United States will not cede sovereignty to those that claim authority over American citizens and are in conflict with our constitutional framework.&rdquo;</p> <h2><u><strong>Iran &mdash; Not Israel &mdash; Is The Threat To Peace In The Middle East</strong></u></h2> <p>In perhaps the sharpest contrast to Obama&rsquo;s national security strategy, Trump&rsquo;s new strategy takes a hardline stance on Iran, which it describes as&nbsp;&ldquo;the world&rsquo;s most significant state sponsor of terrorism.&rdquo; Obama&rsquo;s strategy emphasized the need to protect the Iran nuclear deal &mdash; a pillar of his legacy as president.</p> <p>Trump&rsquo;s strategy notes that Iran &ldquo;has taken advantage of instability to expand its influence through partners and proxies, weapon proliferation, and funding. It continues to develop more capable ballistic missiles, intelligence capabilities, and it undertakes malicious cyber activities.&rdquo;</p> <p>Trump&rsquo;s strategy states that &mdash; despite Obama officials&rsquo; claims to the contrary &mdash; the Iran nuclear deal has done nothing to stop any of the above activities.</p> <p>&ldquo;These activities have continued unabated since the 2015 nuclear deal,&rdquo; the document states. &ldquo;Iran continues to perpetuate the cycle of violence in the region, causing grievous harm to civilian populations. Rival states are filling vacuums created by state collapse and prolonged regional conflict.&rdquo;</p> <p>Trump&rsquo;s national security strategy explicitly blames Iran, rather than Israel, for conflicts in the Middle East.</p> <p>&ldquo;For generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region,&rdquo; the strategy states.</p> <p>&ldquo;Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region&rsquo;s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.&rdquo;</p> <p>The strategy notes that the U.S. will work &ldquo;with allies and partners to deter and disrupt other foreign terrorist groups that threaten the homeland&mdash;including Iranian-backed groups such as Lebanese Hizballah.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Obama administration, in contrast, torpedoed a DEA operation against Hezbollah for money laundering and narcotics trafficking in order to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, according to a bombshell&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">report in Politico</a>&nbsp;Sunday night. The report said that the Obama administration&rsquo;s reluctance to confront Hezbollah allowed the group to grow rapidly in size and expand its influence across Lebanon in particular and the Middle East as a whole.</p> <h2><u><strong>Immigration: Ending Chain Migration, Increasing Vetting, Tougher Border Security&nbsp; &nbsp;</strong></u></h2> <p>Obama&rsquo;s 2015 national security strategy placed an emphasis on giving amnesty to illegal immigrants by giving them a &ldquo;pathway to citizenship,&rdquo; while paying lip service to the need for border security. The 2015 strategy framed the flood of illegal immigrants to the US-Mexico border as a &ldquo;major consequence of weak institutions and violence&rdquo; and emphasized the need for America to help those countries.</p> <p>&ldquo;American leadership, in partnership with these countries and with the support of their neighbors, remains essential to arresting the slide backwards and to creating steady improvements in economic growth and democratic governance,&rdquo; the Obama strategy stated.</p> <p>Trump&rsquo;s strategy frames the immigration issue in terms of sovereignty, saying the U.S. &ldquo;affirms its sovereign right to determine who should enter our country and under what circumstances.&rdquo;</p> <p>The document emphasizes the importance of knowing and controlling who enters the country through tactics like increased vetting, ending chain-migration, end the Diversity Visa Lottery program and increase border security.</p> <p>&ldquo;The United States affirms its sovereign right to determine who should enter our country and under what circumstances. The United States understands the contributions immigrants have made to our Nation throughout its history. Illegal immigration, however, burdens the economy, hurts American workers, presents public safety risks, and enriches smugglers and other criminals,&rdquo; the Trump strategy states.</p> <p>The document continues:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The United States will continue to welcome lawful immigrants who do not pose a security threat and whose entry is consistent with the national interest, while at the same time enhancing the screening and vetting of travelers, closing dangerous loopholes, revising outdated laws, and eliminating easily exploited vulnerabilities. We will also reform our current immigration system, which, contrary to our national interest and national security, allows for randomized entry and extended-family chain migration. Residency and citizenship determinations should be based on individuals&rsquo; merit&nbsp;and their ability to positively contribute to U.S. society, rather than chance or extended family connections.</p> </blockquote> <p>Two recent terrorist attacks, the October truck attack in New York City and last week&rsquo;s attempted bombing, were committed by individuals who entered the country through either chain migration or the Diversity Visa Lottery program. <strong><a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">(RELATED:&nbsp;Trump&rsquo;s Desired Immigration Reforms Could Have Stopped Last Two Terror Attacks)</a></strong></p> <h2><u><strong>Economically Competing With China</strong></u></h2> <p>President Obama&rsquo;s national security strategy emphasized its &ldquo;scope of cooperation with China&rdquo; on economic issues, which the administration touted as &ldquo;unprecedented.&rdquo;&nbsp;Trump&rsquo;s national security strategy rejects this approach as a failure and embraces a more competitive view of global economics.</p> <p>&ldquo;For decades, U.S. policy was rooted in the belief that support for China&rsquo;s rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China,&rdquo; the document states. &ldquo;Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others in the region. China gathers and exploits data on an unrivaled scale and spreads features of its authoritarian system, including corruption and the use of surveillance.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong><em>Under the subhed &ldquo;A Competitive World,&rdquo; the strategy reads: &ldquo;China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <p>&ldquo;These competitions require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades&mdash;policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false,&rdquo; the section concludes.</p> <p>Elsewhere in the document, the Trump administration notes that &ldquo;China is gaining a strategic foothold in Europe by expanding its unfair trade practices and investing in key industries, sensitive technologies, and infrastructure.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Trump strategy also calls out China by name for stealing American intellectual property &mdash; something Obama&rsquo;s strategy did not do.</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><a href="">Finally, here is Ron Paul,</a> joined by veteran foreign affairs analyst and former US diplomat Jim Jatras, to discuss the hopes and fears for Trump&#39;s critical strategy outline...</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></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="874" height="441" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> 20th century in the United States al-Qaeda American intelligence Barack Obama China Corruption Donald Trump Foreign policy of the Donald Trump administration Government Hizballah International reactions to the United States presidential election Iran ISIS Israel Middle East Middle East national security National security National Security Strategy Neocons New York City North Korea Obama Administration Obama administration Politics Presidency of Donald Trump President Obama Reuters Ron Paul South China Trump Administration Ukraine United States Vladimir Putin Wall Street Journal White House White House Mon, 18 Dec 2017 18:07:05 +0000 Tyler Durden 609372 at The 5 Oil Factors To Watch In 2018 <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Nick Cunningham via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Oil prices are set to close out the year somewhere around 15 percent up, and the oil market looks more stable than it has in years.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 326px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>But what does 2018 have in store?</strong></p> <p>Most analysts believe more of the same &ndash; inventory declines, some shale growth, a gradual increase in the oil price and eventually an end to the OPEC deal. But a lot of uncertainty remains.</p> <p><strong>Here are 5 key issues to watch as we head into 2018.</strong></p> <h3><u><strong>#1 U.S. shale growth</strong></u></h3> <p>There is no doubt that U.S. shale output is continuing to rise, but there is quite a bit of uncertainty about the magnitude of growth. Expectations have fluctuated over the course of 2017. At the beginning of the year, outlets like the EIA and IEA had very bullish predictions for shale output, with the EIA expecting U.S. output to average 10 million barrels per day in 2018.</p> <p>As the year wore on, numerous red flags began to pop up that raised a lot of questions about the health of the shale industry. Drilling costs began to rise again; some shale companies ran into operational problems; drilling activity fizzled when oil prices dipped below $50 per barrel, a sign that the shale industry&rsquo;s breakeven prices (on average) were not as low as many thought; the rig count dipped; and investors began demanding more restraint and a slower pace of drilling. These problems seemed to suggest shale was sputtering.</p> <p>However, more recently, data suggests shale is back on track, posting strong production gains in September. In their December reports, the IEA and OPEC predicted U.S. shale would add 870,000 bpd and 1 mb/d of new supply in 2018, respectively. That threatens to overwhelm demand growth. But the extent to which actual growth lives up to those forecasts will go a long way in determining the pace of rebalancing next year.</p> <h3><u><strong>#2 OPEC Compliance</strong></u></h3> <p>OPEC production fell in November for the fourth consecutive month, dipping by 130,000 bpd compared to a month earlier. That puts the group&rsquo;s compliance rate with the production cuts at 115 percent, the highest number yet. The ability of OPEC to stick with its commitments is a positive sign heading into 2018 that they will be able to keep compliance rates high. To be sure, involuntary declines in Venezuela are somewhat masking less-than-100-percent compliance from Iraq and the UAE, but a reduction of supply is a reduction of supply. <span style="color: #800000;"><strong class="related"> <a href="">Related:&nbsp;Santa Is Putting Christmas On The Blockchain And Saving Billions</a></strong></span></p> <p>The big question is the durability of high compliance throughout 2018. An oil market that rebalances too quickly could lead OPEC members to abandon their pledges if they become tempted by higher oil prices. Russia has signaled that it is anxious to abandon the deal as soon as inventories fall back to average levels. The flipside is also true &ndash; a steep drop in prices could lure members into cheating as they become desperate for more revenues. But that is all speculation. For now, compliance looks good.</p> <h3><u><strong>#3 OPEC&rsquo;s Exit Strategy</strong></u></h3> <p>OPEC has restored some stability to the oil market with its resolve to maintain output limits, and the strong cooperation, particularly between Saudi Arabia and Russia, reassured the oil market at the last OPEC meeting.</p> <p>Yet, they left the details of an exit strategy for a later date, and the June 2018 meeting will carry extra weight, especially as the inventory surplus narrows. Exiting the production cuts is fraught with danger; even hinting that a return to full production could spook jittery oil traders, which is exactly why top OPEC officials were eager to push off that conversation. But by mid-2018, they won&rsquo;t be able to avoid the issue. It&rsquo;s likely OPEC will opt for some sort of glide path, a gradual lifting of the production limits, but we&rsquo;ll have to wait and see.</p> <h3><u><strong>#4 Inventories</strong></u></h3> <p>OPEC&rsquo;s strategy will largely come down to what happens to global inventories. OECD commercial stocks declined by more than 40 million barrels in October, putting total stocks at 2,940 million barrels, the lowest level in more than two years. The stock surplus is now at about 100 million barrels more than the five-year average, down two-thirds from the start of 2017. It&rsquo;s likely that the surplus will be erased at some point in 2018, at which point OPEC will be under pressure to abandon its production limits. <span style="color: #800000;"><strong class="related"> <a href="">Related:&nbsp;The &lsquo;Unknown Unknowns&rsquo; That Threaten U.S. Shale</a></strong></span></p> <p>However, the IEA said in its December Oil Market Report that it expects inventories to begin rising again in 2018, largely because of blistering growth from U.S. shale (see #1 above). The first half of the year, the IEA predicts, will see inventories rise at a pace of 200,000 bpd. If the agency is correct, zeroing out the surplus could prove elusive.</p> <h3><u><strong>#5 Unexpected outages</strong></u></h3> <p>All of these forecasts and predictions go out the window if supply disruptions occur. Just days ago, the Forties pipeline cracked and shut down, and the pipeline&rsquo;s operator declared force majeure on oil shipments. The 450,000-bpd pipeline could be shut for weeks, leading to shutdowns at North Sea oil fields. This incident is exactly the type of event that can catch the oil market by surprise, leading to sharp and sudden price increases even if all seems well elsewhere in the world.</p> <p>There are plenty of potential flashpoints that could lead to supply outages in 2018. The most obvious is Venezuela, which is suffering from steep and ongoing declines. Venezuela&rsquo;s output fell by 41,000 bpd in November from a month earlier, after suffering a decline of 26,000 bpd in October. Production is at a 30-year low and is heading south. Other outages are entirely possible in unstable countries like Nigeria and Libya. Conflict between the U.S. and Iran would be a whole different animal, with serious implications for the oil market. Then, there are other potential outages that are entirely unpredictable beforehand. The crack in the Forties pipeline, the spill from the Keystone pipeline in the U.S. from a few weeks ago and the massive wildfires in Alberta in 2016 are just a few examples. It only takes one major disruption to upend the most carefully crafted oil forecast.</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="539" height="273" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Cartels Economy Energy Energy crises Energy crisis IEA Iran Iraq OECD OPEC OPEC Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries Petroleum industry Petroleum politics Price of oil Saudi Arabia World oil market chronology from Mon, 18 Dec 2017 17:44:30 +0000 Tyler Durden 609374 at Watch Live: 3 Confirmed Dead After Amtrak Train Derails, Plunges On To I-5 Freeway <p><strong>Update:</strong> At least three people have been killed in today&#39;s train derailment, according to the<a href=""> Seattle Times.</a></p> <p>Though that figure may rise, as authorities are reporting &quot;multiple&quot; casualties.</p> <p>Pierce County Sheriff&rsquo;s spokesman Ed Troyer told news media that there were fatalities on the train and that motorists had been injured, but not killed. The full extent of the injuries is not yet known. It&#39;s believed that, while several motorists sustained injuries, <strong>nobody driving under the bridge was killed. </strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 256px;" /></a></p> <p>At least one train car fell on to the interstate below, as the photo above shows. Meanwhile, authorities say several vehicles on Interstate 5 were struck by the falling train cars when an Amtrak train derailed south of Seattle, and &ldquo;multiple motorists&rdquo; were injured on the roadway, according to the <a href=";utm_source=Twitter&amp;utm_medium=AP">Associated Press. </a></p> <p>Amtrak has also released this statement about service disruptions due to the accident:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Amtrak is aware of an incident with Train 501, Cascades service from Seattle to Portland. Emergency services are on the scene and Amtrak management is responding. Some injuries are reported. </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Amtrak service south of Seattle is temporarily suspended. Service from Seattle to points north and east is continuing to operate.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Amtrak regrets any inconvenience. This information is correct as of the above time and date. Information is subject to change as conditions warrant.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Anyone can subscribe to automated email or text message notifications if Amtrak trains are behind schedule at specific stations. Notifications can be given for up to six trains and stations by either text or email and delivered when you choose - on a single day, every day, or just certain days of the week. Create a subscription at</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Passengers with travel plans also can confirm their train&#39;s status, change their plans or review refund information using a range of tools &ndash; including, smartphone apps or by calling 800-USA-RAIL. Service Alerts, Passenger Notices and other announcements are posted at</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Chris Karnes, a passenger who was on the train three or four cars back from the front, spoke to a<a href="http://Chris Karnes was on the train, three or four cars back from the front. “I’m not sure what got hit. I’m not sure what happened,” Karnes said. He was unhurt but near the medical tents set up in a median area between north- and sound-bound I-5, just south of DuPont. “The only car that is on the tracks is the rear locomotive. There are several cars that are hanging over the overpass,” Karnes said."> local TV station. </a></p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not sure what got hit. I&rsquo;m not sure what happened,&rdquo; Karnes said.</p> <p>He was unhurt but near the medical tents set up in a median area between north- and sound-bound I-5, just south of DuPont.</p> <p>&ldquo;The only car that is on the tracks is the rear locomotive. There are several cars that are hanging over the overpass,&rdquo; Karnes said.</p> <p>According to <a href="">WaPo</a>, Troyer told reporters that there are fatalities and that the property damage is &ldquo;catastrophic.&rdquo; <strong>He said first responders are &ldquo;in the woods, using chainsaws&rdquo; trying to get to people. <u>He couldn&rsquo;t confirm the number of injured or dead.</u></strong></p> <p>&ldquo;A lot of things need to be done before anyone can confirm any numbers,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>The derailment occurred about halfway between Olympia and Tacoma, as the map below shows...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 466px;" /></a></p> <p>As we noted earlier, the derailment happened on the first day that trains were running on a new high-speed route between Seattle and Portland. <strong>It was not immediately clear whether the derailment, which came during a busy travel time one week before the Christmas holiday, was connected to the new route.</strong></p> <p>About 70 people were aboard the train, local news media reported, citing the state transportation department, according to <a href="">Reuters.</a></p> <p>Authorities said 77 people were taken to the hospital.</p> <p>&ldquo;Thank you to the first responders on the scene. We&rsquo;re praying for everyone on board the train, and ask everyone to hold them in your thoughts,&rdquo; Washington Governor Jay Inslee wrote in a Twitter message.</p> <p>In comments that may have proven eerily prescient, the mayor of one of the towns through which the rerouted trains travel warned earlier this month that the high-speed trains were dangerously close to cars and pedestrians.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements, or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it, because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens,&rdquo;</strong> Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson told transportation officials in early December, according to Seattle&rsquo;s KOMO News.</p> <p>* * *</p> <p>A day after a power failure<a href=""> at Atlanta&#39;s Hartsfield Jackson Airport</a> - the busiest terminal in the world - left thousands of passengers stranded with flights only just beginning to resume, America&#39;s crumbling infrastructure was on display yet again on Monday, but this time, the failure looks much more severe.</p> <p>To wit, Amtrak train 501 derailed in Pierce County, about 40 miles south of Seattle, according to media reports and images showing the train tumbling off the tracks and on to the freeway below. The derailment happened at around 8 am local time - or 11 am Eastern.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Developing: Amtrak train derails near Seattle onto the I-5 freeway <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) <a href="">December 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <p><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>Images of the mangled wreckage flooded social media...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 238px;" /></a></p> <p>Interstate 5 is completely closed in both directions and dozens of first responders are heading to the scene, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), as the <a href="">Seattle Times pointed out. </a><br />&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">***DRIVER AlERT*** All lanes of SB I-5 at Mounts Road closed</p> <p>&mdash; WSDOT Tacoma Traffic (@wsdot_tacoma) <a href="">December 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here&#39;s a livefeed of the scene, courtesy of CBS...</p> <p><iframe allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>The accident caused &ldquo;massive damage&rdquo; and &ldquo;people are hurt,&rdquo; according to Chris Karnes, the chairman of Pierce Transit&rsquo;s advisory board. Police said information about injuries would be forthcoming.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">PRELIMINARY INFO - Derailed Amtrak passenger train was heading south bound. Injuries and casualties reported, numbers to come. Media staging area at Eagles Pride Golf Course. <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PCSD</a> PIO Troyer enroute, will not answer his cell while driving priority.</p> <p>&mdash; Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) <a href="">December 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amtrak said in a tweet that it&#39;s &quot;aware of the incident&quot; and will update with additional details...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">We are aware of an incident involving Amtrak train 501. We will update with additional details as they become available.</p> <p>&mdash; Amtrak (@Amtrak) <a href="">December 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t have any information at the moment, we&rsquo;re gathering it,&rdquo; said Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.</p> <p>&quot;I was just shocked,&quot; said Peter Zimmerman of Olympia. &quot;I couldn&#39;t believe it. It was like something out of a movie.&quot; According to the local TV station, the train was traveling along a new high speed route from Seattle to Portland <strong>that had just opened Monday.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><strong><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 264px;" /></strong></a></p> <p>According to WSDOT, the train was running down a new bypass created to avoid slow curves and &ldquo;single track tunnels on the BNSF Railway main line tracks near Point Defiance and along southern Puget Sound.&quot;</p> <p>The project rerouted passenger trains to an inland route on an existing rail line that runs along the west side of I-5 through south Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont and then&nbsp; reconnects back to the BNSF Railway main line near Nisqually on the east side of I-5.</p> <p>The traffic back up is now three miles and growing. Monday morning was the first time Amtrak trains used the new Point Defiance Bypass route. It was the culmination of a $181 million project that began in 2010. A new Amtrak station also opened in Tacoma. <strong>The change would reduce the length of the trip by 10 minutes and separate Amtrak trains from freight lines that frequently cause delays on the Point Defiance route.</strong></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="512" height="288" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Amtrak Amtrak Cascades Centennial Station Coast Starlight Disaster Lake Shore Limited Miami Airport Station Minnesota railroads National Transportation Safety Board Northeast Corridor OpenTravel Alliance Philadelphia train derailment Rail transport by country Rail transportation in the United States Reuters state transportation department Tacoma station Tacoma, Washington Texas Eagle Tilting trains Transportation in the United States Twitter Twitter Washington State Department of Transportation Washington State Department of Transportation Mon, 18 Dec 2017 17:22:14 +0000 Tyler Durden 609382 at Nasdaq Tops 7,000 For First Time Ever As VIX Crashes <p>Having passed 6,000 for the first time in April, Nasdaq has now soared 17% since then to surpass 7,000 today...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As soon as cash markets closed last Friday (quad witch), US equity futures spiked... then spiked again on Sunday night's open, and again at the US equity cash open this morning...</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="295" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And VIX has been crushed this morning...</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="341" /></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="2118" height="1203" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Economy of New York City Finance Futures contract Futures markets Investment Money NASDAQ NASDAQ Spiked VIX Mon, 18 Dec 2017 17:13:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609384 at Regulating Cryptocurrencies... And Why It Matters <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,</em></a></p> <p><em>Nations that attempt to limit cryptocurrencies&#39; ability to solve these problems will find that protecting high costs and systemic friction will grind their economies into dust. </em></p> <p><strong>There&#39;s a great deal of confusion right now about the regulation of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.</strong> Many observers seem to confuse &quot;regulation&quot; and &quot;banning bitcoin,&quot; as if regulation amounts to outlawing bitcoin.</p> <p>Further confusing things is the regulation of cryptocurrency exchanges, where cryptocurrencies are bought and sold.</p> <p>In China, for example, cryptocurrencies are not outlawed, but exchanges were shut down until regulators could get a handle on how to deal with the potential for excesses such as fraud, misrepresentation, etc.</p> <p>A Wild West free-for-all is conducive to scammers, and so some thoughtful regulation that protects users is to be welcomed.</p> <p>Governments tax income and capital gains. This is how they fund their activities. Clearly, gains reaped from cryptocurrencies are no different from gains reaped from other speculations and investments, so they should be recorded and taxed in the same manner.</p> <p>Some enthusiasts of cryptocurrencies seem to think that regulations requiring the reporting and taxation of gains made buying and selling cryptocurrencies is tantamount to destroying cryptocurrencies.</p> <p>I think this view has it backwards: fully legalizing and regulating cryptocurrencies as financial instruments legitimizes them in a much wider circle of potential users, and common-sense regulations are to be encouraged and welcomed, not viewed as threats to cryptocurrencies.</p> <p>I want to stress that beneath all the speculative frenzy we see in the cryptocurrencies, what will retain value and remain scarce and in demand is whatever solves problems.</p> <p><strong>Cryptocurrencies have the potential to solve two problems:</strong></p> <p>1. reducing the cost and friction of financial intermediaries.</p> <p>2. holding value as the $250 trillion in phantom wealth created in the asset bubbles of the past 12 years vanishes.</p> <p><strong>These are real problems:</strong> financial intermediaries introduce a great amount of friction and cost globally, and even a modest reduction in cost and friction (time, effort, compliance, recording transactions, etc.) would add up very quickly.</p> <p>The global value of real estate, stocks, bonds and debt-assets such as mortgages and auto loans is around $500 trillion. By my rough estimate, about half of this was created in the past 12 years as central banks inflated enormous bubbles.</p> <p>A house that was worth $200,000 in 2005 is now worth $500,000, but it provides no additional value as shelter; it is the exact same house with the exact same utility value. So the additional $300,000 of current market value is entirely phantom wealth.</p> <p>The same can be said of all the other assets whose value has skyrocketed: the underlying assets/collateral haven&#39;t changed enough to justify the current valuations.</p> <p>Once the bubbles in stocks, bonds, housing, commercial real estate and debt-assets start popping, the owners of all that phantom wealth will be desperate to sell what is dropping in value and convert that wealth into assets that are either holding their value or appreciating.</p> <p>Virtually all of this newly created financial &quot;wealth&quot; is ephemeral. Bitcoin et al. are routinely criticized as being &quot;worthless&quot; due to their digital/ephemeral nature.</p> <p><strong>But critics rarely if ever examine the equally ephemeral nature of $250 trillion in financial &quot;wealth.&quot; </strong></p> <p>Bitcoin in particular has two features which may be viewed as having value as all these coordinated bubbles pop:</p> <p>1. The organization and distribution of bitcoin is mathematical. It is not something that can be changed at the whim of a handful of self-serving people in a room (i.e. central bankers).</p> <p>2. It is limited in quantity.</p> <p><strong>Some critics claim this can be changed, but that&#39;s not the way it works.</strong> A group of bitcoin miners can propose a new version of bitcoin that will issue a trillion coins, but if nobody supports their new version, it dies.</p> <p>In other words, the marketplace of users decides what has value and what doesn&#39;t.</p> <p>Regulations that enable cryptocurrencies to solve the two problems listed above should be welcomed, as these problems are structural and impact everyone in some fashion.</p> <p><strong>Nations that attempt to limit cryptocurrencies&#39; ability to solve these problems will find that protecting high costs and systemic friction will grind their economies into dust. </strong></p> <p><img align="middle" border="0" class="wide" src="" /></p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><em>I&#39;m offering my new book <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B077S8PJ5Y&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=charleshughsm-20&amp;linkId=d3a935e067cb9a216e52fce67fa627b6" target="_blank"> Money and Work Unchained</a> at a 10% discount ($8.95 for the Kindle ebook and $18 for the print edition) through December, after which the price goes up to retail ($9.95 and $20). </em><a href="" target="resource"><em>Read the first section for free in PDF format. </em></a><em>If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by <a href="" target="resource">becoming a $1/month patron of my work via</a>. </em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="723" height="373" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Alternative currencies Bitcoin Bitcoin Business Central Banks China Commercial Real Estate Cryptocurrencies Cryptography Decentralization ETC Finance Financial technology Legality of bitcoin by country or territory Money pdf Real estate Mon, 18 Dec 2017 17:05:17 +0000 Tyler Durden 609361 at Ramaphosa Elected President Of ANC: South African Rand Soars 4%, Biggest Jump In 2 Years <p><em><strong>Update 2</strong></em>: It's all over, and the best case outcome is now fact, with Cyril Ramaphosa elected president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress on Monday. </p> <ul> <li>CYRIL RAMAPHOSA ELECTED PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA'S ANC</li> <li>RAMAPHOSA GETS 2440 VOTES IN S.AFRICA'S ANC LEADERSHIP VOTE</li> </ul> <p>Ramaphosa victory threatens President Jacob Zuma’s grip on power after the most divisive vote in the party’s history. Ramaphosa, the deputy president, defeated Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s former wife, whom the president had backed. As the <a href="">FT notes</a>, it is widely speculated that Mr Zuma lent Ms Dlamini-Zuma his support because he believed that as state president she would protect him from prosecution in a corruption case. </p> <p>Meanwhile, Ramaphosa campaigned on a promise to root out corruption and save the ANC from losing its majority for the first time at the 2019 election.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>During his campaign, Ramaphosa made thinly veiled attacks on Mr Zuma’s relationship with the Gupta family, who are accused of using their friendship with the president to influence cabinet appointments and state business, and promised to root out corrupt ANC officials. Mr Zuma and the Guptas have denied allegations of corruption.</p> </blockquote> <p>As charted below, the South African rand surged against the US dollar on the announcement of Mr Ramaphosa’s victory, higher by more than 4% on the day, its biggest one day gain in over two years.&nbsp; </p> <p>“The country outside the 5,000 ANC delegates has breathed a huge sigh of relief,” said Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, which has campaigned against the perceived attack on independent institutions under Mr Zuma. “We can now put a break on the downward slide of South African politics and economics,” he said.</p> <p>Ramaphosa, a former union leader who used his ANC ties to become one of South Africa’s richest black businessmen in the post-apartheid period, was seen as the candidate most able to unite business and the government to reignite the economy, which has ground to a halt under Mr Zuma.</p> <p>* * * </p> <p><em><strong>Update: </strong></em>not so fast - according to News 24, a recount for the ANC presidency is underway, adding that "NDZ's camp insisted on recount after she lost the vote, they say. That may cause the delay in announcement."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Update: a recount for ANC president is underway, say 3 sources with knowledge. NDZ's camp insisted on recount after she lost the vote, they say. That may cause the delay in announcement. <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ANC54</a> (<a href="">@AdriaanBasson</a>)</p> <p>— Team News24 (@TeamNews24) <a href="">December 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src=""></script><p>* * * </p> <p>The South African currency and local equities soared on Monday amid investor hopes that pro-reform candidate Cyril Ramaphosa has won a victory in the ruling ANC’s leadership contest. While the South African Rand suffered a bumpy start to the day as it became clear that the vote would go down to the wire, shedding all of its early gains. The ZAR has since soared, enjoying its biggest one-day gain in over two years, as ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu told journalists he was confident Ramaphosa had a clear majority. </p> <p><strong>With official results expected shortly, the rand is now over 4% higher on the day, rising as high as 12.56 against the dollar.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="260" /></a></p> <p>The rand's ascent accelerated following Reuters headlines suggesting that Ramaphosa appeared a near-certain winner:</p> <ul> <li>ANC LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE RAMAPHOSA GRINNING ON STAGE, HUGGING SENIOR ANC OFFICIALS - REUTERS WITNESS</li> <li>SOUTH AFRICA'S ANC CHAIRWOMAN SAYS "THE ANNOUNCEMENT WILL BE IN FIVE TO TEN MINUTES"</li> <li>ANC LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE DLAMINI-ZUMA SITTING CALMLY ON SEAT - REUTERS WITNESS</li> <li>ANC DELEGATES BREAK OUT IN SONG AND DANCE BEFORE EXPECTED LEADERSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT </li> </ul> <p>In addition to the currency, the country’s government bonds also gained, with yields on 10-year debt sliding 21.6 bps to 8.914%. Meanwhile, among stocks, banks were the biggest beneficiaries on South Africa’s equity markets, with the FTSE Johanessburg Stock Exchange index of bank stocks rising 6.6% to the highest level on record.</p> <p>Readers can watch a live stream of the ANC's 54th national election here.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0"></iframe></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="666" height="362" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> 52nd National Conference of the African National Congress 54th National Conference of the African National Congress African National Congress African National Congress Corruption Council for the Advancement Cyril Ramaphosa Equity Markets FTSE 100 Government Gupta family headlines Jackson Mthembu Jacob Zuma Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Politics Politics Reuters South Africa South Africa Zulu people Mon, 18 Dec 2017 16:33:01 +0000 Tyler Durden 609380 at ESPN President Quits Due To "Substance Addiction" <p>Amid <a href="">plummeting ratings</a>, <a href="">mass job cuts</a>, and constant <em>#<a href="">resistance</a></em>, <strong>ESPN President John Skipper has finally called it quits</strong> from running the so-called sports channel.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="306" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Here is Skipper&rsquo;s <a href="">statement</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>Today I have resigned from my duties as President of ESPN.</strong> I have had a wonderful career at the Walt Disney Company and am grateful for the many opportunities and friendships. I owe a debt to many, but most profoundly Michael Lynton, George Bodenheimer and Bob Iger.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>I have disclosed that decision to the company, and we mutually agreed that it was appropriate that I resign. I will always appreciate the human understanding and warmth that Bob displayed here and always.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>To my colleagues at ESPN, it has been a privilege. <strong>I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your colective ability to continue ESPN&#39;s success.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>The 61-year-old Skipper joined ESPN in 1997 as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. He was promoted to his current job on January 1, 2012.</p> <p>Here is what ESPN president John Skipper said in a recent memo to staffers:<strong><em> </em></strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>&quot;ESPN is about sports... It is not a political organization.&quot; </em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So will that agenda change now?</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 591px; height: 195px;" /></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="600" height="306" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> ABC Sports American Broadcasting Company Bob Iger Bodenheimer Bristol, Connecticut CAPTCHA ESPN George Bodenheimer Human Interest ratings Sports Television in the United States The Walt Disney Company Mon, 18 Dec 2017 16:25:53 +0000 Tyler Durden 609379 at