en Exposing Our Lawless Central Bank <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,</em></a></p> <div class="body-content"> <p><strong>The economic arguments against central banks are numerous to say the least.</strong> Through the writings of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard we have a wide variety of critiques that explain the many ways the central banks distort economies, cause booms and busts, punish savers, and chose winners and losers through monetary policy.&nbsp;</p> <p>But, even if confronted with these arguments, and one remains supportive of central banks, <strong>other<em>&nbsp;non-economic</em>&nbsp;arguments must still be addressed.</strong></p> <p>For example,<strong><em> it is becoming increasing important &mdash; in our current age of &quot;non-traditional&quot; monetary policy &mdash; to take note of the fact that central banks, and especially the Federal Reserve, are essentially unrestrained by law.&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p>Economists themselves often defend this total unmooring from legal or political accountability, saying it is necessary for the Fed to have &quot;independence&quot; from elected officials.&nbsp;</p> <p>In reality, however,<strong> this &quot;independence&quot; is best described as &quot;total lack of accountability.&quot;&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Writing in today&#39;s <em>Dallas Morning News</em>, Texas Tech economist Alexander William Salter <a href="" target="_blank">writes</a>:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>A phenomenal amount of time and money is spent trying to anticipate what the Fed will do and, afterwards, what the ramifications will be.&nbsp;The reason it takes so many experts to weigh in on Fed behavior is because the Fed&#39;s actions are fundamentally&nbsp;<em>unpredictable</em>.&nbsp;This is a huge defect in an organization of such public importance&nbsp;in a nation whose founding principles include the sanctity of the rule of law.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Rule of law&quot; does not merely mean &quot;according to some official procedure.&quot; In order to be truly lawful, the behaviors of government entities must adhere to a more general framework of rules, so that these behaviors are not arbitrary.&nbsp;The more general rules must be more or less fixed, known in advance, and &mdash;&nbsp;most importantly &mdash;&nbsp;not subject to reinterpretation by those whose hands the rule is supposed to bind.&nbsp;This concept of the rule of law is central to&nbsp;classically&nbsp;liberal constitutionalism and jurisprudence, which underlies the American experiment in ordered liberty.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The behavior of the Fed fails to meet any of these criteria.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fed activities are more or less unpredictable on any given day, as indicated by the need for various financial houses to devote significant resources to Fed-watching.&nbsp;Congress has almost entirely abdicated its responsibility in holding the Fed accountable, so Fed&#39;s actions are not in conformity with any general rule other than what the Fed Board of Governors thinks is expedient.&nbsp;This means the Fed is a judge in its own cause and a law unto itself.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>In recent years, some observers &mdash; <a href="">Robert Higgs, for instance</a> &mdash; have focused on &quot;regime uncertainty&quot; which is a problem arising from &quot;a pervasive lack of confidence among investors in their ability to foresee the extent to which future government actions will alter their private-property rights.&quot;</p> <p>Much of the focus in this research has been on the presidency and the Congress and the courts while ignoring the central role of the Fed itself in promoting this uncertainty.&nbsp;</p> <p>As Salter notes,<strong> the Fed is now unpredictable, and it&#39;s anyone&#39;s guess what policy change might be coming down the road at any given time.</strong> Needless to say, this isn&#39;t great for economic growth for all the reasons laid out in the regime-uncertainty research.&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, <strong>the Fed has always essentially been unaccountable to any outside institutions. </strong>Nevertheless, both political ideology and prevailing views among many economists helped to restrain Fed action over the past century. Since World War II, another important factor has been the fact that the US economy has often been relatively strong, and there rarely appeared to be ample justification for the sorts of radical monetary policy now routinely being discussed among Fed policymakers.&nbsp;</p> <p>As a perfect example of how radical monetary thought has become&nbsp;might be the discussion surrounding Marvin Goodfriend, who was recently revealed to be a leading candidate for appointment by Donald Trump to the Fed&#39;s board of governors. <a href="" target="_blank">According to the <em>Financial Times</em></a>, <strong>Goodfriend possesses &quot;a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">radical willingness to embrace deeply negative rates</a>.&quot;</strong></p> <p>As a member of the Fed&#39;s board, <strong>would Goodfriend push for negative rates under the &quot;right&quot; conditions?&nbsp;Who knows?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>But if he was successful in winning over a majority of voting members to such a position what could anyone do about it? <strong><em>More importantly, what documents, guidelines, or statutes&nbsp;would indicate for us ahead of time what the &quot;right&quot; conditions would be for implementing negative rates?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p>There are none. Whether or not the &quot;time is right&quot; for negative rates is completely up to the whims of Board members.&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>This situation is, as Salter points out, the complete opposite of &quot;the Rule of Law&quot; and has no place in a legal or political regime that claims to respect such a concept.&nbsp;</strong></u></p> <p>Moreover, the situation that now prevails at the Fed is exactly the sort of thing F.A. Hayek warned about in <em>The Road to Serfdom </em>when Hayek outlines the incompatibility between the rule of law and an economy controlled by government planners.&nbsp;</p> <p>Hayek writes:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>...stripped of all its technicalities, [the rule of law] means that government in all its actions is bound by rules&nbsp;fixed and announced beforehand &mdash; rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one&#39;s individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Serious problems begin to arise, Hayek continues, when &quot;<em>ad hoc </em>actions&quot; on the part of government planners prevent market actors from planning for their own economic futures.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Unfortunately, &quot;<em>ad hoc</em>&quot; would appear to be one of the most apt phrases for describing how the Fed functions in today&#39;s world.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The Fed&#39;s defenders will tell us that this unrestrained capriciousness must be tolerated or else the Fed will no longer have its precious &quot;independence.&quot;&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><u><strong>Of course, applying this logic to any other political institution &mdash; and the Fed most certainly is a political institution &mdash; would be immediately denounced as absurdly authoritarian.&nbsp;</strong></u></p> <p>And rightly so.</p> <p>But the Fed&#39;s lack of accountability continues to be sacrosanct among many in power &mdash; and it continues in spite of a decade of lackluster economic performance under the Fed&#39;s &quot;leadership. Salter is forced to conclude:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>But when money is governed by the arbitrary rule of central bankers, things become much more uncertain.</strong> Trade slows. The economy stagnates, jobs are hard to come by, and the gains from trade mostly accrue to politically connected financial elites.<strong> The Fed bears no small responsibility for the past 10 years of anemic economic performance.</strong></p> </blockquote> </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="232" height="148" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Central bank Central Banks Congress Donald Trump Economy Fed Board of Governors Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System Financial services fixed Friedrich Hayek Ludwig von Mises Mises Institute Mises Institute Monetary Policy Monetary policy Murray Rothbard None Politics Reality US Federal Reserve Sat, 24 Jun 2017 01:25:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598570 at New York's "Billionaires Row" Suffers Biggest Foreclosure In History <p>In the latest sign that NYC&rsquo;s ultra-high end property market is on the verge of imploding after a wave of overly aggressive development, another luxury condo at Manhattan&rsquo;s One57 tower, <strong>a member of &ldquo;Billionaire&rsquo;s Row,&rdquo; a group of high-end towers clustered along the southern edge of Central Park, has gone into foreclosure - the second in the span of a month.</strong></p> <p>The 6,240-square-foot (580-square-meter) full-floor penthouse in question, One57&rsquo;s Apartment 79, sold for $50.9 million in December 2014, making it the eighth-priciest in the building.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><u><strong>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s probably the most-expensive foreclosure we&rsquo;ve ever seen in luxury development,&rdquo;</strong></u> said Donna Olshan, president of high-end Manhattan brokerage Olshan Realty Inc. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know of a foreclosure that&rsquo;s larger than that.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="">According to Bloomberg,</a> the shell company that purchased the property took out an unusually large mortgage and promised to repay in full a year later.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>In September 2015,<strong> the company took out a $35.3 million mortgage from lender Banque Havilland SA, based in Luxembourg. The full payment of the loan was due one year later, </strong>according to court documents filed in connection with the foreclosure.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The<strong> borrower failed to repay,</strong> and now Banque Havilland is <strong>forcing a sale to recoup the funds</strong>, plus interest.</p> </blockquote> <p>And, in what&rsquo;s become a strong contender for the <em>&ldquo;no sh*t&rdquo; quote of the day</em>, a spokeswoman for Extell Developments, the developer that built One57, said there&#39; s a lesson to be learned from this unfortunate situation.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;This shows that too much leverage is probably not wise,&rdquo;</strong> Anna LaPorte, an Extell spokeswoman, said of the most recent default.</p> </blockquote> <p>A June 14 auction was scheduled for a 56th-floor apartment at the same tower. <strong>That condo was purchased in July 2015 for $21.4 million.</strong> Public records have yet to reveal any transfer of ownership for that property.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 369px;" /></a></p> <p>Investors across the NYC property spectrum should take note; prices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have risen so quickly they&rsquo;ve effectively pushed marginal buyers out of the market and forced renters to devote a greater share of their income to housing. <strong>Today, <a href="">more than 30% of Americans pay half their income in rent - the highest percentage in decades. </a></strong></p> <p><a href=""><strong><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 326px;" /></strong></a></p> <p>And with more investors in the city concentrating on luxury properties, <strong>some ultra-luxury buildings like One57 are struggling with unsustainable <a href="">vacancy rates of nearly 40%.</a></strong></p> <p>Until last month, no apartments on Billionaires&rsquo; Row, which also includes 432 Park Ave., had been subject to a foreclosure auction, according to PropertyShark. <strong>The loss of a Manhattan residential property to creditors is a rare event, regardless of the unit&#39;s price-tag: Only 27 new residential foreclosures in the borough in the first quarter</strong>.</p> <p><strong>Could this be the start of a trend? We think so. Which leads us to our next question: How, exactly, does one short the luxury real-estate market?</strong></p> <p>We also look forward to The Left deciding that a probe into this transaction is warranted, just in case it was some complex way to transfer Russian funds to Trump... (only half-kidding).</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="473" height="265" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Creditors default Finance Foreclosure Foreclosures Midtown Manhattan Money Mortgage Mortgage loan One57 PropertyShark Real estate The Left United States housing bubble Sat, 24 Jun 2017 01:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598572 at UN Report Reveals Nations Producing Most Refugees Were Targets Of US Intervention <p><a href="">Authored by Whitney Webb via,</a></p> <p><strong><em>A UN report has shown that more than 65 million people were forced to leave their home countries last year, becoming refugees due to deadly conflict. The top nations from which refugees fled have one thing in common, they were all targets of US intervention.</em></strong></p> <p>A United Nations<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> report</a> has shed light on the world&rsquo;s burgeoning crisis of displaced peoples, finding that a record 65.6 million were forced to vacate their homes in 2016 alone. More than half of them were minors.</p> <p>The<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees</a> (UNHCR), which drafted the report, put the figure into perspective, stating that increasing conflict and persecution worldwide have led to <strong><em>&ldquo;one person being displaced every three seconds &ndash; less than the time it takes to read this sentence.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <p>UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi called the figure<strong> &ldquo;unacceptable&rdquo; and called for &ldquo;solidarity and a common purpose in preventing and resolving the crisis.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>However, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>what the UN report failed to mention was the role of U.S. foreign intervention, indirect or direct, in fomenting the conflicts responsible for producing most of the world&rsquo;s refugees.</strong></span></p> <p>According to the report, three of the nations producing the highest number of refugees are Syria (12 million refugees created in 2016), Afghanistan (4.7 million) and Iraq (4.2 million).</p> <p><em>Watch the&nbsp;UNHCR&rsquo;s New Global Trends Report:</em></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p><strong>The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are known to be<a href=""> the direct result of U.S. military invasions</a> in the early 2000s, as well as the U.S.&rsquo; ongoing occupation of those nations.</strong> Decades after invading both countries, the U.S.&rsquo; destabilizing military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan<a href=""> has continued to increase</a> in recent years, with the Trump administration most recently announcing<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> plans to send thousands</a> of soldiers to Afghanistan in the coming months. It is worth noting that each U.S. soldier in Afghanistan<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> costs U.S. taxpayers $2.1 million.</a></p> <p><strong>While the U.S. has yet to directly invade Syria, <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">the U.S. role in the conflict is clear</a> and Syria&rsquo;s destabilization and the overthrow of its current regime <a href="">have long been planned</a> by the U.S. government.</strong> The U.S. and its allies, particularly <a href="">Israel</a> and <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Saudi Arabia</a>, have consistently funded &ldquo;rebel&rdquo; groups that have not only perpetuated the Syrian conflict for six long years, but have also <a href="">committed atrocity after atrocity</a> targeting civilians in Syrian cities, towns, and communities &ndash; <a href="">a major factor</a> in convincing Syrians to leave their homes.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people.<a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) <a href="">January 26, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>The report ranks Colombia as the world&rsquo;s second-largest producer of refugees, with 7.7 million Colombians displaced in 2016. Like Syria, the U.S. has not directly invaded Colombia, but is<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> known to have extensively funded paramilitary groups</a>, also known as &ldquo;death squads,&rdquo; in the country since the 1980s, when then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan declared a &ldquo;war on drugs&rdquo; in Colombia.</p> <p>U.S. efforts <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">have long helped fuel</a> the civil war between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and pro-government, U.S.-funded paramilitary groups. This conflict has lasted for more than half a century.</p> <p><strong>In 2000, then-President Bill Clinton&rsquo;s administration funded<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> the disastrous &ldquo;Plan Colombia&rdquo;</a> with $4 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds, ostensibly to fight drug trafficking and insurgents.</strong> Almost all of this <strong>money was used to fund the Colombian military and its weapon purchases</strong>. &ldquo;Plan Colombia&rdquo; ultimately intensified armed violence, military deployments, human rights abuses by the Colombian military, and &ndash; of course &ndash; the internal displacement of Colombians. The legacy of U.S. policy in Colombia and its continuing support of the nation&rsquo;s right-wing, neo-liberal regime have ensured that the chaos continues into the present.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Clinton ran on Plan Colombia and its sponsoring right wing death squads. <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Tailfoot McWalshy (@BuglegsMcWalshy) <a href="">March 10, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p><strong>In addition to the above, U.S foreign policy is also to blame for the conflict in South Sudan, </strong>where the UN report found was home to the fastest-growing displacement of people in the world. In 2011, the U.S. pushed South Sudan to secede from Sudan, as South Sudan holds the vast majority of Sudan&rsquo;s oil reserves &mdash; the largest oil reserves in all of Africa. The U.S.&rsquo; push for the creation of an independent South Sudan<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> dislodged Chinese claims</a> to Sudanese oil, as the Chinese had previously signed oil contracts with the (now Northern) Sudanese government.</p> <p>But when nation-building efforts went awry and civil war broke out just two years later,<a href=""> some analysts suggested</a> that the conflict only started when South Sudan&rsquo;s president began to cozy up to China. According to the UN report, approximately 3.3 million people in South Sudan have fled their homes since the war began.</p> <p><em><strong>Grandi has called on the world&rsquo;s nations to help prevent and resolve the global refugee crisis. But he would also do well to point out the common cause uniting many of the world&rsquo;s worst conflicts &ndash; the U.S. military-industrial complex&rsquo;s insatiable lust for conquest, power and profit.</strong></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="657" height="349" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghanistan Aftermath of war China Colombian military Demography Forced migration Geography of Africa Human geography Internally displaced person Iraq Israel Least developed countries Member states of the United Nations Politics Refugee Refugee crisis Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia Right of asylum Saudi Arabia Social Issues South Sudan South Sudan Sudanese government then-President Bill Clinton’s administration Trump Administration United Nations United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees US government US military War Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:35:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598535 at The Real Healthcare Crisis: Retiring Seniors Need $500k To Cover Premiums Even With Obamacare <p>As Congress spends the next week and a half, if everything goes well, wrestling over how they can screw up healthcare in America even more, perhaps they should take notice of a new study from HealthView Services which highlights the fact that the real source of the healthcare crisis in this country is rising costs.</p> <p>As <a href="">Bloomberg</a> notes, healthcare cost inflation is expected eclipse overall inflation and Social Security COLAs over the next decade.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>U.S. retiree health-care costs are likely to increase at an average annual rate of 5.5 percent over the next decade. </strong>That's nearly triple the 1.9 percent average annual inflation rate in the U.S. from 2012 to 2016 and more than double the projected cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on Social Security benefits.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The premiums on supplemental insurance, also known as Medigap, that many people buy to cover costs that Medicare doesn't, such as co-payments; on Medicare Part B, which covers payments for doctors, tests, and other medical services; and on Part D, prescription drug coverage. Here's how your Social Security benefits are likely to stack up against some of those costs.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=" - Healthcare 1.JPG"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 331px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shockingly, the reality is that <strong>a couple retiring today can expect to pay nearly a half million dollars in just insurance premiums over the course of the remainder of their lives.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>For a healthy 65-year-old couple retiring this year with a future adjusted gross annual income of less than $170,000 after adding in any tax-exempt income, <strong>projected lifetime health-care premiums add up to $321,994 in today's dollars.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Take a moment to appreciate that figure. It includes premium payments for Medicare Parts B and D, supplemental insurance premiums, and dental premiums. (The supplemental premium figure used is a national average, and premiums can vary greatly from state to state.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sadly, and shockingly, that doesn't reflect the full range of likely expenses. <strong>Add in deductibles, co-pays, and costs for hearing, vision, and dental care, and the total rises to $404,253 in today's dollars.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>And, given the shocking inflation of healthcare costs in this country, the <strong>situation only looks worse for younger people.</strong></p> <p><a href=" - Healthcare 3.JPG"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 164px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, <strong>excessively rising costs</strong>, for our legislators who may not be so good with the math, is <strong>usually the result of demand outstripping supply and/or perverse regulations that serve to distort free market forces.</strong>&nbsp; In the case of Obamacare, we have both.&nbsp; </p> <p>As an example, before Obamacare many healthy young people, who we'll refer to collectively as John Doe, chose not to even carry health insurance because it was a truly wasteful expense for them.&nbsp; As it turns out, millennials can actually do some basic math and figured out that they didn't need to spend $5,000 a year for an insurance plan when the odds are that they'll get a cold one time, pay $150 to visit a doctor and $40 to buy some antibiotics.</p> <p>But then Obamacare came along and forced John Doe to, not only purchase insurance, but to purchase a 'souped up,' expensive plan with all sorts of bells and whistles.&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>Now, Democrats knew that that 'souped up' healthcare plan was really just a thinly veiled tax on John Doe...he wasn't supposed to actually use it.&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>But John Doe, didn't see it that way.&nbsp; From his perspective, if he's paying for a service, he might as well use it...and hence the demand issue.</p> <p>Moreover,<strong> that simple example says nothing about the adverse selection bias created by Obama's subsidies and exchanges</strong> where people with absolutely no "skin in the game" can get 'free healthcare,' courtesy of the millionaire, billionaire, private jet owners in the country, and consume as much healthcare as they want basically free of charge.&nbsp; </p> <p>To make a long story longer, the net effect of Obamacare was that it added a ton of demand to an already undersupplied healthcare market which is why healthcare premiums are soaring.&nbsp; <strong>Perhaps, just maybe, basic economic principles actually work and more 'skin in the game,' rather than less, and more people making their own decisions, rather than less, are actually good things?</strong>&nbsp; Just a hunch but we hear that a lot of work has been done on the topic.</p> <p>Of course, we highly doubt that any of this will stop our politicians from turning the healthcare debate into a fued between young and old and the rich and poor...afterall sowing division is how elections are won...and lost.</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="380" height="212" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> B+ Congress Economy Federal assistance in the United States Health Health Health economics Health insurance Healthcare reform in the United States Labor Medicare Medicare Medicare Medigap Obamacare Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson Private Jet Publicly funded health care Reality Social Issues United States National Health Care Act Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598559 at Saudi Hypocrisy: The Great Gas War Is Looming <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Golem XIV,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Astonishing hypocrisy!</strong> Saudi and its affiliates demand end to support of terrorism while they themselves are some of its largest funders.</p> <p>Their list of demands, <a href="">as reported in the Guardian</a>, <strong>should be translated as:</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>1) Curb ties with Iran = <strong>No talking to Shia Muslims.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2) Sever all ties to terror organisations = Declare Muslim Brotherhood terrorists who we find threatening internally and <strong>only Saudi should decide which terror organisations get funded. Not you</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3) Shut down al-Jazeera = <strong>We don&rsquo;t allow press freedom you can&rsquo;t have it either.</strong> Especially one that criticises us. Shut down what is, for all its significant faults, one of the best media outlets in the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>4) Shut down all other media Qatar funds = <strong>Only Saudi propaganda allowed.</strong> al-Jazeera was far too willing to report government repression during the Arab Spring. So close down all non Saudi controlled media.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>5) Close down Turkish military bases in Qatar = <strong>Qatar isn&rsquo;t allowed its own diplomatic sovereignty.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>6) Stop funding anyone Saudi calls a terrorist = Stop funding anyone who opposes Saudi or other undemocratic regimes in the ME. <strong>No democratic dissent allowed.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>7) Handover terrorist figure = <strong>Hand over to us all dissidents we want to imprison or behead.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>8) Stop interfering in other countries affairs = Hand over people we don&rsquo;t like that have taken refuge in Qatar. <strong>We do the interfering (see this list of demands) not you.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>9 -12) <strong>Make yourself a vassal state of Saudi,</strong> pay us money, let us control your treasury and foreign policy and agree to all this NOW. Or else, Saudi, its minions, the US and Israel will try to paint you as part of a new axis of evil.</p> </blockquote> <p><em><strong>Oh and by the way oil rules! Not the gas you and Iran want to sell!</strong></em></p> <p>The Great Gas War is gathering towards a major escalation.</p> <p><img alt="Note the purple line which traces the proposed Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline and note that all of the countries highlighted in red are part of a new coalition hastily put together after Turkey finally (in exchange for NATO’s acquiescence on Erdogan’s politically-motivated war with the PKK) agreed to allow the US to fly combat missions against ISIS targets from Incirlik. Now note which country along the purple line is not highlighted in red. That’s because Bashar al-Assad didn’t support the pipeline and now we’re seeing what happens when you’re a Mid-East strongman and you decide not to support something the US and Saudi Arabia want to get done. " class="wp-image-209344" height="353" src="" width="501" /></p> <p>The Northern Front in Ukraine has gone quiet. Or at least unreported. <strong>But its Southern Front from Syria to Yemen, Turkey&nbsp;to Iran is hotting up.</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="502" height="301" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Al Jazeera Arabian Peninsula Asia Geography of Asia Iran Israel Member states of OPEC Member states of the Arab League Member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Member states of the United Nations Middle East Muslim Brotherhood Muslim Brotherhood Politics Qatar Saudi Arabia Turkey Ukraine Fri, 23 Jun 2017 23:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598569 at Brexit One Year On: Political Chaos, Pounded Currency, & Pressured Consumers <p><strong>It is exactly one year since the UK held the historic referendum vote on EU membership.</strong> As Deutsche Bank&#39;s Jim Reid notes, <strong>whether you think that has passed quickly or not probably depends on if you&rsquo;re a Sterling FX trader, in which case it&rsquo;s more than likely been a long year.</strong> With today being the anniversary we thought we would see how assets have performed over the past year since the vote...</p> <p><strong>First and foremost the standout is the currency has been pounded </strong>with a huge decline for Sterling versus both the Dollar (-15%) and Euro (-13%). That massive move in the currency has <strong>helped to prop up local currency returns however</strong> and we&rsquo;ve seen the FTSE 100 surge an impressive +22% (clearly boosted by big UK exporters) while GBP credit has returned between +8% and +15% and Gilts have returned +7%.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="315" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Under the covers of the index - there are <strong>big winners and big losers (in local currency terms)</strong> also...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 568px;" /></a></p> <p>However it is <strong>the USD hedged returns which are of most interest </strong>and this is where we have <u><strong>seen UK assets really underperform.</strong></u></p> <p><a href=""><img height="317" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Gilts have returned -9%, GBP credit -2% to -8% and the FTSE 100 a more benign +4%.<strong> Indeed the FTSE 100 has underperformed all other equity markets in our sample in USD terms.</strong> The Athex (+32%), Hang Seng (+26%), IBEX (+23%), DAX (+22%), European Banks (+21%) and Nikkei (+20%) are all up over 20% while the S&amp;P 500 is also up an impressive +18%. Credit returns outside of GBP credit are more muted but still flat to +11% generally.</p> <p><strong>Where we have seen some weakness however is in rates. </strong>While bond markets initially rallied in the first week or two post the vote yields have for the most part edged higher ever since. Gilts still standout for their underperformance but Bunds (-3%), BTPs (-3%), Treasuries (0%) and Spanish Bonds (0%) haven&rsquo;t rewarded investors as one might expect given the huge uncertainty that the result created. Indeed the same can also be said for Gold (-1%). <strong><em>If you exclude currencies, then 33 out of 43 assets in our sample have a positive total return in local currency terms and 26 out of 43 assets in USD terms have a positive total return.</em></strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 290px;" /></a></p> <p>So, as Deutsche&#39;s Reid notes, <strong>it&#39;s been an impressive rally for risk despite an outcome which has seen political Europe enter unknown territory.</strong> On that any hopes that the UK political situation would be resolved or at least stabilise essentially came to an end following the snap election earlier this month.</p> <p><strong>Since the referendum result <a href="">we have seen Political Chaos</a>:</strong></p> <ul> <li>A year of leadership contests within the two main political parties in Britain;</li> <li>Court cases trying to prevent Brexit from happening;</li> <li>Embarrassing leaks demonstrating Prime Minister Theresa May&#39;s weak ability to negotiate with the EU.</li> <li>Volatile markets, the decimation of the pound, and preparations for job relocations;</li> <li>A disastrous general election that has put Britain in line for a Brexit deal that looks very similar to what we have now;</li> <li>A&nbsp; government in disarray;</li> <li>And finally the possibility that Brexit could be reversed ...</li> </ul> <p>The possibility of another election in the future hasn&rsquo;t necessarily gone away either while the Conservatives and DUP parties are still to come to an agreement. What that means for Brexit talks is also still a bit of an unknown which is why there is a fair bit of focus on the two-day EU summit which kicked off yesterday. This is the first summit since the election for Theresa May and also coincides with Brexit negotiations having kicked off on Monday. Yesterday May proposed a &ldquo;fair and serious&rdquo; offer to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, telling leaders of the EU that no EU citizens living in Britain lawfully at the time in which Britain leaves the EU would be asked to leave.</p> <p>And finally, the <strong>consumer has been pressured</strong> by soaring prices as inflation bites...</p> <p><em>&quot;The main financial effect of Brexit has been felt in the pound, though weaker sterling has <strong>pushed up inflation</strong> and also boosted the stock market. Holidaymakers have probably been the most obvious losers from Brexit so far, <strong>though inflation is also gradually ratcheting up the pressure on consumers more broadly,</strong>&quot; </em>said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="315" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Finally, Khalaf sums up the year...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&quot;The performance of capital markets over the last year tells us that the financial effects of Brexit are about as predictable as the British weather.&quot;</strong></em></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="959" height="503" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Aftermath of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum Bond Brexit Capital Markets Conservative Party Currency Deutsche Bank Economic effects of Brexit Equity Markets Euro European Union Euroscepticism in the United Kingdom FTSE 100 Gilt-edged securities Gilts Jim Reid Nikkei Pound sterling S&P 500 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 23:20:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598552 at The Over-Criminalization Of American Life <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,</em></a></p> <p><em>The over-criminalization of America has undermined justice, the rule of law and legal egalitarianism.</em></p> <p><strong>While the corporate media devotes itself to sports, entertainment, dining out and the latest political kerfuffle, America has become the Over-Criminalization Capital of the World.</strong> The proliferation of laws and administrative regulations, federal, state and local, that carry criminal penalties has swollen into the tens of thousands.</p> <p>The number of incarcerated Americans exceeds 2.3 million, with the majority being non-violent offenders--often for War on Drugs offenses.</p> <p><img align="middle" border="0" class="wide" src="" /></p> <p><strong>Holly Harris has written an important summary of this profoundly destabilizing trend:</strong> <a href="" target="resource"> The Prisoner Dilemma: Ending America&#39;s Incarceration Epidemic</a> (<em>Foreign Affairs</em>, registration required).</p> <p><strong>The over-criminalization of America is a relatively recent trend.</strong> As Harris notes:</p> <p><em>It wasn&rsquo;t always like this. In 1972, for every 100,000 U.S. residents, 161 were incarcerated. By 2015, that rate had more than quadrupled, with nearly 670 out of every 100,000 Americans behind bars. </em></p> <p><strong>The over-criminalization of America is rooted in federal laws and regulations</strong>, and state and local governments have followed suite. here is Harris&#39;s account:</p> <p><em>The burgeoning U.S. prison population reflects a federal criminal code that has spiraled out of control. No one&mdash;not even the government itself&mdash;has ever been able to specify with any certainty the precise number of federal crimes defined by the 54 sections contained in the 27,000 or so pages of the U.S. Code. In the 1980s, lawyers at the Department of Justice attempted to tabulate the figure &ldquo;for the express purpose of exposing the idiocy&rdquo; of the criminal code, as one of them later put it. The best they were able to come up with was an educated guess of 3,000 crimes. Today, the conservative Heritage Foundation estimates that federal laws currently enumerate nearly 5,000 crimes, a number that grows every year. </em></p> <p><em>Overcriminalization extends beyond the law books, partly because regulations are often backed by criminal penalties. That is the case for rules that govern matters as trivial as the sale of grated cheese, the precise composition of chicken Kiev dishes, and the washing of cars at the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health. State laws add tens of thousands more such crimes. Taken together, they push the total number of criminally punishable offenses in the United States into the hundreds of thousands. The long arm of the law reaches into nearly every aspect of American life. The legal scholar Harvey Silverglate has concluded that the typical American commits at least three federal felonies a day, simply by going through his or her normal routine. </em></p> <p><strong>Federal policies reward states for building prisons and mandating harsher sentences:</strong></p> <p><em>...federal incentives for states that safely decrease their prison populations and reconsider ineffective sentencing regimes...would represent a stark reversal of legislation signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, which did just the opposite, offering federal dollars to states that imposed harsher criminal penalties and built more prisons, which contributed to the explosion of incarceration rates during the past two decades. </em></p> <p><strong>How did we become a Gulag Nation of tens of thousands of laws and regulations and mandatory harsh sentences for non-violent crimes--a society imprisoned for administrative crimes that aren&#39;t even tried in our judiciary system?</strong> I would suggest two primary sources:</p> <p>1. The relentless expansion of central-state power over every aspect of life. As I describe in my book <a href=";tag=charleshughsm-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=1468065084" target="resource">Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change</a>, <strong>the state has only one ontological imperative: to expand its power and control.</strong> There are no equivalent mechanisms for reducing the legal/regulatory burdens imposed by the state; various reforms aimed at reducing the quantity of laws and regulations have not even made a dent in the over-criminalization of America.</p> <p><strong>The second dynamic is the political reality that the easiest way for politicos to be seen as &quot;doing something&quot; is to pass more laws and regulations criminalizing an additional aspect of life.</strong> The state and its elites justify the state&#39;s relentless expansion of power and control by claiming <em>problems can only be solved by centralizing power further and increasing the number and severity of penalties.</em></p> <p><strong>Criminalization is the ultimate expansion of the state&#39;s monopoly on coercive violence.</strong> As the state expands its power to imprison or punish its citizens for an ever-wider range of often petty infractions, increasingly via a bureaucratic administrative process that strips the citizens of due process, <strong>another pernicious dynamic emerges: <em>the informal application and enforcement of formal laws and regulations.</em></strong></p> <p><strong>In other words, the laws and regulations are enforced at the discretion of the state&#39;s officials.</strong> This is the systemic source of <em>driving while black</em>: a defective tail-light gets an African-American driver pulled over, while drivers of other ethnic origin get a pass.</p> <p><strong>This is also the source of America&#39;s systemic blind eye on white-collar crimes while the War on Drugs mandates harsh sentences with a cruel vengeance.</strong> When there are so many laws and regulations to choose from, government officials have immense discretion over which laws and regulations to enforce.</p> <p>Prosecutors seeking to increase their body count will use harsh drug laws to force innocents to accept plea bargains, while federal prosecutors don&#39;t even pursue white-collar corporate fraud on a vast scale.</p> <p><strong>The over-criminalization of America has undermined justice, the rule of law and the bedrock notion that <em>everyone is equal under the law</em></strong>, i.e. <em>legal egalitarianism</em>.</p> <p><strong>The over-criminalization of America breeds corruption</strong> as the wealthy and powerful evade the crushing burden of over-regulation by either buying political favors in our pay-to-play &quot;democracy&quot; (money votes, money wins) or by hiring teams of attorneys, CPAs, etc. to seek loopholes or construct a courtroom defense.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the peasantry are offered a harsh plea bargain.</p> <p><strong>The over-criminalization of America is one core reason why the status quo has failed and cannot be reformed.</strong> That is the title of one of my short works, <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B01ELXQZGE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=charleshughsm-20&amp;linkId=33DAOPEVGBNGBS37" target="resource">Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform</a>, which explains why the ceaseless expansion of centralized power leads to failure and collapse.</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="683" height="419" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Corruption Crime Criminal law Criminalization Department of Justice Department of Justice ETC Government Heritage Foundation Incarceration in the United States Law Law Law of the United States Morality Prison Prohibition of drugs Prosecutor Reality Fri, 23 Jun 2017 22:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598565 at Container Ship Was On Autopilot When It Struck USS Fitzergerald <p>A deadly collision between the Philippine-registered container ship ACX Crystal and Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald that left seven sailors dead earlier this week occurred while the ACX was on autopilot, <a href="">according to a report in the Washington Free Beacon.</a></p> <p>While investigators say they&rsquo;ve found no evidence the collision was intentional, that the ship was relying on its computerized navigation system at the team of the collision means hackers could&rsquo;ve infiltrated into the ship&rsquo;s navigation system and steered it into the Navy ship &ndash; though the collision <strong>off the coast of Japan could&rsquo;ve just as easily been caused by a malfunction, or human error if the system&rsquo;s warning signals were ignored.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;The Philippines-flagged cargo ship ACX Crystal was under control of <strong>a computerized navigation system that was steering and guiding the container vessel, according to officials familiar with preliminary results of an ongoing Navy investigation.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Investigators so far found no evidence the collision was deliberate.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nevertheless, an accident during computerized navigation raises the possibility the container ship&#39;s computer system <strong>could have been hacked and the ship deliberately steered into the USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The ship&rsquo;s tracking data, particularly a part of the record showing how the ship reacted after the collision, is the most telling piece of evidence that it was on autopilot, sources <a href="">told the Free Beacon</a> that it&rsquo;s clear the container ship was on autopilot.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Commercial ship autopilot systems normally require someone to input manually the course for the ship travel. The computer program then steers the ship by controlling the steering gear to turn the rudder.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The system also can be synchronized with an electronic chart system to allow the program to follow courses of a voyage plan.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tracking data broadcast from the Crystal as part of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) shows the ship changed course by 90 degrees to the right and slightly reduced its speed between around 1:32 a.m. and 1:34 a.m. After that time, the data shows the ship turned to the left and resumed a northeastern coarse along its original track line.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Private naval analyst Steffan Watkins said the course data indicates the ship was running on autopilot. &quot;The ACX Crystal powered out of the deviation it performed at 1:30, which was likely the impact with the USS Fitzgerald, pushing it off course while trying&nbsp;to free itself from being hung on the bow below the waterline,&quot;</strong> Watkins told the Free Beacon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ship then continued to sail on for another 15 minutes, increasing speed before&nbsp;eventually reducing speed and turning around.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&quot;This shows the autopilot was engaged&nbsp;because nobody would power out of an accident with another ship and keep sailing back on course. It&rsquo;s unthinkable,&quot;</strong> he added.</p> </blockquote> <p>Speaking at a news conference earlier this week, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin said the impact crushed berthing cabins below the waterline and ripped open a large hole in the vessel. Bodies of the missing sailors were found in the berthing cabins. Aucoin declined to say how many of the seven missing sailors had been recovered, but Japanese media said all had died.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Commander, US 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, answers questions about <a href="">#USSFitzgerald</a> Full video available here <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; DVIDSHub (@DVIDSHub) <a href="">June 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The damage to the ship was significant, Aucoin said.</p> <p>&ldquo;There was a big gash under the water,&quot; Aucoin said at Yokosuka naval base, home of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, the docked Fitzgerald behind him. &quot;<strong>A significant portion of the crew was sleeping&quot; when the destroyer collided with the Philippine-flagged container ship, destroying the commander&#39;s cabin,</strong> he said.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 347px;" /></a></p> <p>The Fitzgerald is salvageable, he said, but repairs will likely take months. <strong>&quot;Hopefully less than a year. You will see the USS Fitzgerald back,&quot;</strong> Aucoin said.</p> <p>The rarity of such crashes has also raised questions about what caused the collision, and who might be at fault.</p> <p><a href="">As the&nbsp;WSJ notes,</a> collisions at sea involving Navy ships are extremely uncommon, according to Bryan McGrath, a former destroyer captain, who said they occur only once or twice a decade, if that. He said he couldn&rsquo;t remember a recent collision that was this consequential.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;There are 275 ships in the Navy and 100 are under way all over the world,&rdquo; navigating &ldquo;millions and millions of miles&rdquo; every year, said Mr. McGrath, who retired in 2008 and is now a consultant. &ldquo;This is very, very rare.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>US naval history includes a few notable accidents. In 2005, the USS San Francisco, a Los Angeles-class submarine, hit a seamount or underwater mountain, injuring dozens of crew. In 2001, <strong>the USS Greeneville, another Los Angeles-class sub, performed an emergency ballast blow for special visitors aboard the vessel, surfacing quickly and hitting a Japanese fishing ship on the surface near Hawaii, killing nine crew members of the Japanese vessel.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 303px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>In one of the Navy&rsquo;s worst incidents, the aircraft carrier Wasp in April 1952 collided with the destroyer Hobson in the North Atlantic, killing 176 men.</strong></p> <p>Mr. McGrath declined to speculate as to what occurred or who or what might be to blame in the Fitzgerald incident. The collision occurred in darkness in a high-traffic area of the Pacific, he said. The most concerning aspect of the collision, from the destroyer&rsquo;s point of view, is the damage to the Fitzgerald&rsquo;s starboard side below the waterline, resulting from the container ship&rsquo;s construction and the way its bow hit, he said.</p> <p>the Fitzgerald collided with the merchant vessel, which was more than three times its size, some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka early on Saturday. Three people were evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka after the collision, including the ship&#39;s commanding officer, Bryce Benson, who was reported to be in stable condition. According to Reuters, Benson took command of the Fitzgerald on May 13. He had previously commanded a minesweeper based in Sasebo in western Japan.</p> <p>The Fitzgerald limped into port on Saturday evening, listing around 5 degrees, a U.S. Navy spokesman in Yokosuka said. The flooding was in two berthing compartments, the radio room and auxiliary machine room, he said. There were 285 crew onboard.</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="447" height="271" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Arleigh Burke-class destroyers Automatic Identification System Disaster Japan MV ACX Crystal navy North Atlantic Reuters Seamanship Ship Transport Twitter Twitter U.S. Naval Hospital United States Navy USS Fitzgerald USS Fitzgerald and MV ACX Crystal collision Water western Japan Fri, 23 Jun 2017 22:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598555 at Canary In The Coal Mine: Unfunded Liabilities Have Turned Illinois Into A "Banana Republic" <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Daniel Lang via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Illinois is the perfect example of what happens when your state is run by fiscally irresponsible dunces for decades. </strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 459px; height: 262px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>The state is buried debt, and <a href="" target="_blank">hasn&rsquo;t passed a budget</a> in over 700 days.</strong> 100% of their monthly revenue is being consumed by court ordered payments, and the Illinois Department of Transportation has revealed that <a href="" target="_blank">they may not be able to pay contractors</a> (who are working on over 700 infrastructure projects) after July 1st if the state doesn&rsquo;t pass a budget. To top it all off, the state&rsquo;s credit rating is one step away from junk status, the lowest of any state. <strong>Because of these factors, Illinois may become the first state to declare bankruptcy since the Great Depression.</strong></p> <p>Governor Bruce Rauner has gone so far as to call his state a &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">banana republic</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>The state&rsquo;s comptroller has admitted that <a href="" target="_blank">&ldquo;We are in massive crisis mode.&rdquo;</a></strong></p> <p>And a reporter for the Chicago Tribune thinks Illinois has gone so far past the point of no return, <a href="" target="_blank">that the state should be broken up</a>. He recently wrote what basically sounds like a suicide note for Illinois.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Dissolve Illinois. Decommission the state, tear up the charter, whatever the legal mumbo-jumbo, just end the whole dang thing.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We just disappear. With no pain. That&rsquo;s right. You heard me.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The best thing to do is to break Illinois into pieces right now. Just wipe us off the map. Cut us out of America&rsquo;s heartland and let neighboring states carve us up and take the best chunks for themselves.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The group that will scream the loudest is the state&rsquo;s political class, who did this to us, and the big bond creditors, who are whispering talk of bankruptcy and asset forfeiture to save their own skins.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But our beloved Illinois has proved that it just doesn&rsquo;t deserve to survive.</p> </blockquote> <p><u><em><strong>So how did it get to this point?</strong></em></u></p> <p>The root of the problem is Illinois&rsquo; unfunded pension liabilities, which amount to $130 billion. The state&rsquo;s leaders <a href="" target="_blank">simply promised what could not be delivered</a>. Most of their employees can retire in their 50&rsquo;s, and many of them will receive 1-2 million dollars over the course of their retirements. As the debts associated with those pensions reached astronomical levels, the government increased taxes so much that many of the wealthiest and most productive citizens and businesses have moved away, leaving an even smaller tax base to draw from.</p> <p><strong>In short, Illinois is in a death spiral, but it&rsquo;s not alone. Illinois is merely the canary in the coal mine.</strong></p> <p>We&rsquo;re only hearing about Illinois right now because the percentage of their pensions that have been funded is the lowest in the nation. <strong>However, there are plenty of states that <a href="" target="_blank">aren&rsquo;t too far behind Illinois</a>. </strong>There are plenty of states with a <a href="" target="_blank">higher debt to GDP ratio, and more debt per person</a>. And it&rsquo;s not just public pensions. The pension funds for every company in the the S&amp;P 500 <a href="" target="_blank">are underfunded by $375 billion</a>. Before the last financial crisis, they were fully funded. And globally, the problem is far worse. 20 countries in the OECD, whose members include every western and developed nation, <a href="" target="_blank">have a combined $78 trillion in unfunded liabilities</a>, from both private and public pensions.</p> <p>During the economic crash of 2008, we all saw how contagious an economic calamity could be. A crash in one market can put many others over the edge, and cause them to crash as well. What started with a subprime mortgage crisis in the United States, quickly turned into a global economic crash that we still haven&rsquo;t truly recovered from.</p> <p><strong>So when Illinois does crash and burn as a result of their pension funds (and it is a matter of when, not if), then it&rsquo;s time to buckle up. It could be just the beginning of a global financial unraveling that will affect us all.</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="459" height="262" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> American people of German descent Bond Bruce Rauner Creditors Economy Finance Financial crisis of 2007–2008 Great Depression Illinois Illinois Illinois Department of Transportation Labor Money OECD Pension Pensions crisis S&P 500 Social Issues Tribune Fri, 23 Jun 2017 22:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598564 at Another Mika Meltdown: Trump Is Morphing Into A "Dictator Or Someone Who Is Not Well" <p>MSNBC's "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski has become famous for her on-air Trump meltdowns and apparently she was feeling particularly 'triggered' this morning as an entire segment seemingly got derailed when she went rogue and compared Trump's administration to a "developing dictatorship."&nbsp; The snowflake moment sparked a minor per-martital tiff between Mika and Joe resulting in some cringe-worthy awkwardness.</p> <p>It all started when Mika decided to, once again, share her personal thoughts on the Trump administration...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>“It does feel like a developing dictatorship.”</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>...which prompted a swift rebuke from Mika's future husband, and co-host, Joe Scarborough.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"You see,<strong> that's an inside voice thing</strong>....what you just said."</p> </blockquote> <p>Except, when Joe went 'low,' Mika went 'lower':</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“I will say you can do some work reading history and reading books about how dictatorships happen. <strong>The development of very negative forces taking over and what you are seeing is either this happening right now, or someone who’s not well.</strong> Very few options.&nbsp;<strong> Very very imbalanced.”&nbsp; </strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Ironically, the only "very negative forces" that seem to be having any impact on Americans at the moment are the forces within the media which are intent upon continuing their fake "Russian collusion" crusade until it results in mass hysteria among the general public...and, of course, we got a small dose of that hysteria recently when a gunman decided to try and assassinate a bunch of Republican congressmen.</p> <p>Here's the full clip courtesy of the <a href="">Daily Caller</a>:</p> <p><iframe src="//" width="600" height="337" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, this is hardly the first time Mika has melted down on live television.&nbsp; Perhaps our recent favorite was when she shared her thoughts regarding one of President Trump's weekend tweet storms about alleged wiretapping of his Trump Tower.&nbsp; Fighting back tears during her opening remarks, Mika lamented that she had <strong>"lost hope completely"</strong> in President Trump's competency and declared that <strong>"this presidency is fake and failed."</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>"I had hope and an open mind and I have lost hope completely and my mind is closed.&nbsp; This presidency is fake and failed."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><iframe src="" width="600" height="337" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Keep up the good work, Mika.&nbsp; Your morning comedy routine is very entertaining for a lot of folks.</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="778" height="438" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Alt-right Business Climate change skepticism and denial Donald Trump Joe Scarborough Meltdown Mika Morning Joe MSNBC Politics Politics of the United States SWIFT The Apprentice Trump Administration Trump's administration United States WWE Hall of Fame Fri, 23 Jun 2017 21:40:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598551 at