en Is $40 WTI Now More Realistic Than $60? <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via,</em></a></p> <p>The current rise in oil prices is more of a fear trade right now, <strong>driven by fear of what is going on in the Middle East, rather than a result of growing OPEC chatter or inventory reports</strong>, Todd Horwitz, chief strategist at, told <a href="">Bloomberg</a> on Wednesday.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;The oil premiums are very narrow going out to the future, which means that this is more of a fear trade in the front month,&rdquo; Horwitz said on &lsquo;Bloomberg Markets&rsquo;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;To me, this is more of<strong> just another farce of what OPEC is trying to do</strong>, and trying to push these prices higher,&rdquo; the strategist noted.</p> </blockquote> <p>OPEC and its non-OPEC partners in the production cut deal are scheduled to meet in Vienna on November 30 to discuss the extension of their pact.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 601px; height: 322px;" /></a></p> <p>While just a month ago a nine-month extension to the end of 2018 was the base case of all analysts, now there are growing voices that OPEC may delay the decision to early next year. The constant OPEC chatter and the return of some geopolitical risk premium in oil prices - with Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s purge, heightened Saudi-Iran tensions, and the Iraq-Kurdistan standoff - have pushed oil prices to their highest in two years over the past few weeks.</p> <p>According to Horwitz, however, <strong>the WTI price has little room to rise from its current price of around <a href="">$58 per barrel</a>, because U.S. shale will return stronger.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 319px;" /></a></p> <p>There&rsquo;s a better chance that WTI prices will drop to the low $40s than they rise to the low $60s, Horwitz said.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;I would think that the rigs will be back in the fields and the shale producers will be pumping it out like crazy at these levels,&rdquo; </strong>Horwitz said.</p> </blockquote> <p>On Wednesday, Baker Hughes said that the number of oil and gas rigs in the United States <a href="">rose again</a> this week.</p> <p><strong><a href=""><img height="304" src="" width="600" /></a></strong></p> <p>The boost in the number of active oil rigs this week brings the total gained in November to 10&mdash;the first monthly gain since July. Oil and gas rigs combined were up by 14 in November&mdash;also the biggest increase seen since July, in a sign that drillers are once again eager to add rigs after scaling back in August.</p> <p>Additionally, <strong>from a technical perspective, Bloomberg notes that the rally in U.S. West Texas Intermediate&nbsp;crude&nbsp;may be losing steam. </strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 262px;" /></a></p> <p>Front-month&nbsp;futures&nbsp;are nearing the upper limit of the Bollinger Band, a sign that they are approaching overbought territory. Stochastics, an indicator of momentum, and the relative strength index also show the advance has probably gone too far. WTI&rsquo;s gain is being driven by concern that an&nbsp;outage&nbsp;in the&nbsp;Keystone&nbsp;pipeline will disrupt flows from Canada and tighten supplies at the storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma.</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="269" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Cartels Crude Energy crises Energy crisis Energy economics Middle East Middle East Oklahoma OPEC OPEC Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries Petroleum industry Petroleum politics Price of oil Primary sector of the economy Risk Premium Saudi Arabia West Texas West Texas Intermediate World oil market chronology from Fri, 24 Nov 2017 20:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607864 at Iran Vows To Send Fleet Of Warships To Gulf Of Mexico "In The Near Future" <p>Pretty soon the scenes of tiny Iranian speedboats taunting U.S. Naval Destroyers may not be confined to just the Persian Gulf as Iran's new naval commander has <strong>vowed to send warships to the Gulf of Mexico "in the near future."</strong>&nbsp; Per <a href="">NBC</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi said plans were being drawn up for vessels to be deployed to the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean "in the near future."</strong> They would also visit South American countries, he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking at his first press conference since being appointed, Khanzadi promised his navy would <strong>"wave the flag of our country in the Gulf of Mexico."</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He pointed out that <strong>"the appearance of our vessels in the Mediterranean and Suez Canal shocked the world and the U.S. also made comments on it." </strong></p> </blockquote> <p><img src="" alt="Iran" width="600" height="296" /></p> <p>Of course, <strong>this isn't the first time</strong> Iran's military has pledged that its ships would enter the Gulf of Mexico. Khanzadi’s predecessor Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari made similar threats in 2014 claiming that Iran planned to send vessels close to American maritime borders as a counter to the U.S. Navy’s presence in the Persian Gulf.&nbsp;&nbsp; That said, <strong>Sayyari later cancelled the maneuvers “due to a change in schedule.”</strong></p> <p>Meanwhile, earlier this year in August, the Pentagon announced there had been 14 "unsafe" and/or "unprofessional" encounters between the U.S. and Iranian militaries during 2017...not to mention one of the <strong>most embarrassing "unsafe" encounters of Obama's Presidency that came after Iran captured 10 American soldiers and held them captive for 15 hours.&nbsp;</strong> The soldiers were later release unharmed but only after after they were forced to issue apologies while be filmed kneeling by the Iranian Guard.&nbsp; Here's a <a href="">recap </a>of that event for those who need a refresher: </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>On January 12, 2016, two United States Navy riverine command boats cruising from Kuwait to Bahrain with a combined crew of nine men and one woman on board strayed into Iranian territorial waters which extend three nautical miles around Farsi Island in Persian Gulf. Patrol craft of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy seized the craft and detained the crew at a military base on Farsi Island. </p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to military sources the two RCBs were on a routine transit from Kuwait to Bahrain, which serves as the home port for Task Force 56 under the Fifth Fleet. They left Kuwait at 12:23 p.m local time and were scheduled to refuel with the U.S. Coast Guard Island Class Patrol Cutter USCGC Monomoy (WPB-1326) at 5 p.m. During the transit one RCB developed an engine problem and both boats stopped to solve the mechanical issue. During this time they drifted into Iranian waters. At 5:10 p.m the boats were approached by the two small Iranian center-console craft followed by two more boats. There was a verbal exchange between the Iranian and U.S personnel and the officer commanding the RCBs allowed the Iranian sailors to come aboard and take control. The Iranian forces made the sailors kneel with their hands behind their heads. The RCBs reported their engine failure to Task Force 56 and all communications were terminated after the report. A U.S. search-and-rescue effort was launched leading to "robust bridge-to-bridge communications" with Iranian military vessels, wherein the Iranians informed U.S. Navy cruiser USS Anzio at 5:15 p.m that “the RCBs and their crew were in Iranian custody at Farsi Island and were safe and healthy.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The IRGC stated that they released them after their investigation concluded the "illegal entry into Iranian water was not the result of a purposeful act."</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At first, it was suggested that a mechanical failure in at least one of the boats led them to the Iranian waters, then it was verified that both boats returned to base under their own power. However, American military officials could not explain how they had lost contact with both of the boats.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards naval forces claimed that the US apologized to Iran for incident. However, the US Government has stated that no apology was made.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><strong><img src="" width="500" height="314" /></strong></a></p> <p>Of course, the current administration is unlikely to be quite as accommodating of Iran's provocations as the previous with President Donald Trump branding Iran's government a "murderous regime" and warning of its "sinister vision for the future."</p> <p>Something tells us that if Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi tries for a repeat of previous provacations that were tolerated by the Obama administration he probably shouldn't expect a <a href="">plane full of cash</a> and/or an apology from the current White House.</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="916" height="427" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran Asia CB90-class fast assault craft Donald Trump Farsi Island Geography of Asia Gulf of Mexico International relations Iran Iran Iran's government Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Iran's military Iran–United States relations Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Kuwait Mediterranean Mexico Military Military of Iran Naval warfare NBC Obama Administration Obama administration Pentagon Persian Gulf Politics Task Force U.S.–Iran naval incident United States Navy US government USCGC Monomoy White House White House Fri, 24 Nov 2017 20:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607870 at Bitcoin & Fiat Paper Dollars <p style="text-align: justify;">This past week on <em><a href="" title="Bloomberg TV">Bloomberg Television</a></em>, I referred to bitcoin as "a fraud decorated with technology."&nbsp; The fraud comes about because the exchange of a fiat legal dollar for a token, to use the kind description adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, seems unfair and frankly incomplete.&nbsp; But since the dollar itself is a product of government fiat, the subject seems open to debate.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">The fact that a growing crowd of people have decided to speculate in this modern day version of tulip bulbs does not alter the unfairness of the exchange.&nbsp; Our friend Jim Rickards recently squared off against four bitcoin proponents (a contest that hardly seems fair), but left them stumped when he reminded them that bitcoin displays the same “autoserial correlation” that was the tipoff in Madoff case.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">But more to the point, the arrival of bitcoin heralds the culmination of a process of shrinkage in the value of what we rather pathetically call “money.”&nbsp; In 1862, when the Union led by Abraham Lincoln enacted the legal tender laws, it began a slow slide for the American Republic towards insolvency.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">On February 25, 1862, Congress passed the Legal Tender Act to finance the Civil War. It allowed the federal government for the first time to print paper money, called greenbacks, that was not backed by an equal amount of gold or silver.&nbsp; Congress authorized the sale of $150 million in paper currency which soon became known as “greenbacks.”</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">Congress required Americans to accept these pieces of paper adorned by dead Presidents “in payment of taxes, internal duties, excises, debts, and demands of every kind,” but significantly not customs duties for imports.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">The significance of this act of Congress was to provide a way for the government to expand the currency without relation to whether it was backed by metal.&nbsp; The exigency which enabled this act of theft was a war, a reality that goes back to the Greeks.&nbsp; “Thus under the exigencies of war,” wrote Senator Robert Byrd, “the nation gained a uniform currency to meet the demands of an expanding economy.”</span><span style="font-size: 13.008px; white-space: pre;"> </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">Well, sort of.&nbsp; The nation gained a flexible currency that traded down to a sharp discount vs gold and silver during the Civil War, but rebounded thereafter.&nbsp; Yet in real, purchasing power terms the greenback steadily has lost value since the 1860s.&nbsp; Through WWI and the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913, then the Depression and FDR’s confiscation of gold held by individuals, the fiat monopoly of the US government has grown.&nbsp; And since the Depression and WWII through to today, the dollar has lost roughly 95% of its original value in real, purchasing power terms.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">Many other nations have legal tender laws, a feature of the modern administrative state.&nbsp; Yet as the public debt of the US and other industrial nations has grown, an unease has affected many people when it comes to the future of the Republic and the dollar.&nbsp; Think Neo in The Matrix.&nbsp; Americans are forced by law to use dollars as a means of exchange and a unit of account, but it has largely lost any utility as a store of value.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">Indeed, negative interest rates and quantitative easing are merely the latest manifestations of the ability of the state to tax its people of value via the shrinking dollar.&nbsp; Nations have fiscal deficits and trade deficits, but the biggest shortfall is credibility.&nbsp; When you look at the growth of the federal debt and the Fed’s willingness to monetize public debt via open market purchases, it is reasonable to conclude that we will all one day drown in a sea of worthless fiat dollars.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">Into this yawning gulf of integrity comes bitcoin, a new era vehicle for speculation and larceny that derives its legitimacy from the fact that it is not sponsored by one of the indebted administrative states.&nbsp; The folks at BNP Paribas noted recently that the future of bitcoin is limited because it lacks a lender of last resort, but isn’t that the point?&nbsp; Right?&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">Bitcoin is a “currency” that was designed to go ever up in value, to grow rather than shrink compared to fiat currencies.&nbsp; The lack of a short market or the ability to borrow the crypto currency is part of the clever design by the mysterious founder that strongly biases the market to move ever higher, albeit with spasmodic episodes of price collapses.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">As the value of bitcoin expressed in fiat currencies, so too does the cost of clearing and the rewards to the “miners” who validate each trade.&nbsp; Bitcoin looses efficiency as it goes up in value.&nbsp; And as the crowd of people seeking access to the limited supply of bitcoin grows, the price increases.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">But at the end of the day, the key flaw that blocks the bitcoin game from becoming a functional means of exchange or unit of account is the lack of an efficient way to move from the crypto currency to dollars or other legal tender currencies accepted by the payments system. There are&nbsp; plenty of proposals on how to fix this, but the key issue seems to be the volatility.&nbsp; A</span><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">s and when a solution occurs, however, the crypto world will threaten the fiat system. China’s new Emperor Xi Jinping understands this reality very well and has taken steps to ensure that bitcoin is tightly under the control of China’s communist rulers.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">While many people suppose that bitcoin is a threat to banks and the banking system, in fact the true threat is political.&nbsp; If bitcoin were to ever grow large enough to present a viable alternative to the world of fiat legal tender dollars, the threat to America’s government monopoly over money would require a political reaction akin to FDR’s seizure of gold -- in the name of self preservation.&nbsp; President Nixon closing the gold window forty years later was mere formality.</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">Fortunately, the quirky aspects of the bitcoin model that push the price ever higher, and with rising volatility, make it unlikely that it will achieve such broad adoption.&nbsp; But it sure is fun to watch.&nbsp; Yet ultimately the success of bitcoin is a pretty grim commentary on the prospects for the world of dollars and euros and yen, which are all tied to nation states that are well down the role to insolvency and default.&nbsp; And yes, robbing people via inflation is a form of default.&nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 13.008px;">Or as one banker commented in 1862 when the legal tender laws were enacted: “By common consent of the nations, gold and silver are the only true measure of value.&nbsp; These metals were prepared by the Almighty for this very purpose.”</span></p> Alternative currencies America’s government Bitcoin Bitcoin Business Congress Cryptocurrencies Currency default Digital currency E-commerce Economy federal government Federal Reserve Finance Financial cryptography Jim Rickards Legal tender Money Purchasing Power Quantitative Easing Reality Securities and Exchange Commission Securities and Exchange Commission The Matrix US Federal Reserve US government Virtual currency law in the United States Volatility Yen Fri, 24 Nov 2017 20:08:30 +0000 rcwhalen 607878 at Kunstler Warns "There Is Some Kind Of Revolution Coming To American Life" <p><a href=""><em>Authord by James Howard Kunstler via,</em></a></p> <p><u><em><strong>What if the fun and games of 2017 are over?</strong></em></u></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 305px;" /></a></p> <p>The hidden message behind the sexual harassment freak show of recent weeks is that nothing else is sufficiently serious to occupy the nation&rsquo;s attention. <strong>We&rsquo;re living in the Year of Suspended Reality, stuck in the sideshow and missing the three-ring circus next door in the big tent.</strong></p> <p><strong>It probably all comes down to money. Money represents the mojo to keep on keeping on, </strong>and there is probably nothing more unreal in American life these days than the way we measure our money - literally, what it&rsquo;s worth, and what everything related to it is worth.</p> <p>So there is nothing more unreal in our national life than the idea that it&rsquo;s possible to keep on keeping on as we do.</p> <p><u><strong>The weeks ahead may be most illuminating on this score. </strong></u>The debt ceiling suspension runs out on December 8, around the same time that the tax reform question will resolve one way or another. The debt ceiling means that the treasury can&rsquo;t issue any more bonds, bills, or notes. That is, it can&rsquo;t borrow any more money to pretend the government can keep running. Normally these days (and it&rsquo;s really very abnormal), the treasury pawns off paper IOUs to the Federal Reserve and the Fed makes digital entries on various account ledgers that purport to be &ldquo;money.&rdquo; And, by the way, the Fed is a consortium of private banks not a department of government &mdash; which is surely one of a thousand ways that the public is confused and deceived about <em>what&nbsp;condition our condition is in</em>, as the old song goes.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s a fair chance that congress may not be able to resolve the debt ceiling deadline. The votes may just not be there. If the deadline comes and goes, the treasury can only use incoming tax revenues to cover its costs, and it won&rsquo;t be enough. It will have to choose whether it issues paychecks to the roughly 2.7 million US government employees, or pays the vendors that sell things like warplanes to the military, <em><strong>or pay out so-called entitlements like Medicare and SNAP cards, </strong></em>or pay the interest on the previously-issued bonds, debts, and bills that the US has racked up over the years. Believe it or not, making those interest payments is probably the top priority, because failing to do that would shove the nation officially into default for the first time and destroy the country&rsquo;s credit standing. The full faith and credit in the US dollar would shatter.</p> <p><u><strong>And then the fun and games would really cease. </strong></u>The country would discover it doesn&rsquo;t <em>have its mojo working</em>, as another old song goes. <u><strong>The reality of being truly broke will set in.</strong></u> <strong><em>After all, there are two basic ways of going broke as a nation: you can run out of money; or you can have plenty of money that is worthless. Take your pick.</em></strong></p> <p><strong>There is some kind of revolution coming to American life. </strong>One way or another, it amounts to a much lower standard of living. The journey there may take the public by surprise, a la Ernest Hemingway&rsquo;s crack about how a character in one of his stories went broke: <strong><em>slowly, and then all at once</em>.</strong> The main question about this journey must be whether it is accompanied by political violence. One would have to think the potential for that is pretty high, given levels of animosity and delusional thinking among the two opposing factions - can we even call them Left and Right anymore? - which may even exceed the ill-feeling of 1861.</p> <p><strong>The tax reform bill, whether it lives or dies, may only become a laughable footnote to the greater quandary of national insolvency.</strong> And, anyway, the proposals so far amount to a hall of mirrors inside a three-card-monte house of horrors that almost nobody really understands. As yet another old song says, <em>this ain&rsquo;t no Mud Club&hellip; this ain&rsquo;t no foolin&rsquo; around</em>. Meanwhile, down in the rococo dining room of Mar a Lago, the Golden Golem of Greatness tweeted yesterday that he was presiding over <em>the greatest stock market ever</em>!&nbsp;<strong>Kind of reminds me of the moment that old Joe Kennedy got a stock tip from his shoeshine boy.</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="1053" height="536" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bond Debt Ceiling default Federal Reserve Medicare Medicare Mud Club Reality Tax United States debt ceiling US Federal Reserve US government Fri, 24 Nov 2017 19:50:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607873 at North Korea Replaces Guards, Fortifies Site Where Defector Made His Daring Escape <p>Earlier this week, we noted the<a href=""> incredible video footage </a>from the tense Korean Demilitarized Zone depicting one North Korean soldier&rsquo;s desperate dash into the South as his former comrades unleashed a hail of bullets.</p> <p>United Nations Command released CCTV footage Tuesday of the 20-something-year-old suspected staff sergeant fleeing his desolate country, first in a jeep and then on foot, with North Korean soldiers in hot pursuit. The man crossed into South Korea at the Joint Security Area while his comrades chased after him, firing on him as he ran.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p><strong>In response to the high-profile defection &ndash; marking the first time in recent years where a soldier actually made it across the heavily fortified border between the two Koreas - North Korea has reportedly replaced between 35 and 40 guards and soldiers who were guarding the border at the time of the defection. </strong>Meanwhile, it has also fortified the part of its border where the soldier crossed.</p> <p>Meanwhile,<strong> South Korean and US soldiers have been decorated for their role in the defector&rsquo;s rescue. </strong>The defector, who has not been named, was shot seven times during his escape attempt. Doctors who tended to the defector in the South reportedly pulled parasitic worms from his intestines and discovered he was suffering from a chronic liver infection.</p> <p>The US and South Korean soldiers risked injury when they dragged the badly wounded soldier to safety.</p> <p><strong>A group of senior diplomats based in Seoul visited the JSA on Wednesday morning where they saw five North Korean workers digging a deep trench in the area where the soldier had dashed across the line after getting his jeep stuck in a small ditch,</strong> a member of the diplomatic delegation told <a href="">Reuters</a>.</p> <p>In a photograph of the visit tweeted by Marc Knapper, the US ambassador to South Korea, North Korean workers could be seen using shovels to dig a deep trench on the North Korean side of the line as soldiers stood guard.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="und"><a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Marc Knapper (@MarcKnapper) <a href="">November 23, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;The workers were being watched very closely by the KPA guards, not just the two in the photo, but others out of shot behind the building,&rdquo; </strong>one anonymous diplomat told <a href="">Reuters</a>.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re closely monitoring the North Korean military&rsquo;s movement in the JSA,&rdquo; a South Korean defense ministry official told reporters, without confirming the reduction in border guards. &ldquo;There are limits as to what we can say about things we know.&quot;</p> <p>One unusual detail from the photos taken by Knapper and other diplomats of soldiers guarding the area where workers were digging the trench showed them dressed in slightly different uniforms to the ones usually worn by North Korea&rsquo;s JSA guards.</p> <p>Two new trees had also been planted in the small space between the ditch and the line with the South, the diplomat told Reuters, in an apparent effort to make it more difficult for would-be defectors to drive across the border.</p> <p><strong>Meanwhile, in South Korea, U.S. Forces Korea said it had awarded its own JSA soldiers - three South Korean and three U.S. soldiers - the Army Commendation medal in recognition for their efforts in rescuing the defector.</strong></p> <p>The medals were personally handed out by USFK Commander Vincent Brooks in a ceremony on Thursday, according to USFK&rsquo;s Facebook page.</p> <p>The soldiers had been responsible for dragging the wounded North Korean soldier to safety in a daring rescue seen in security camera footage released by the United Nations Command earlier this week.</p> <p><strong>Pyongyang has not commented on the defection of its soldier, who is now in stable condition despite the numerous gunshot wounds to his arms and torso.</strong></p> <p>The young soldier, known only by his family name Oh, was described as a quiet, pleasant man who has nightmares about being returned to the North, according to his surgeon.</p> <p>Despite the ordeal, Oh is incredibly lucky; unfortunately, any other soldiers planning a daring escape from the isolated North will need to find another vulnerability in the world&rsquo;s most heavily armed border.<br />&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="647" height="267" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Aftermath of the Korean War International relations Joint Security Area Korea Korean Demilitarized Zone Korean People's Army Military North Korea North Korea North Korean military North Korea–South Korea relations Reuters Twitter Twitter United Nations Command United States Forces Korea USFK Fri, 24 Nov 2017 19:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607863 at PornHub Erects Its First Physical Retail Store In New York City <p>Pornhub, known as &ldquo;the premiere online destination for adult entertainment&rdquo;, has just erected its first ever retail store in New York City for the holidays. <strong>The store will sell limited edition Pornhub clothing, gear and premium sex toys.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 599px; height: 196px;" /></a></p> <p>The porn shop, located in&nbsp;SoHo, Manhattan&rsquo;s shopping district, <strong>is classified as a &lsquo;pop-up store&rsquo; &mdash; this new trend in retailing is taking the industry by storm as the traditional&nbsp;brick-and-mortar stores fade into darkness.&nbsp;</strong>Pornhub&rsquo;s most popular stars, including Asa Akira and Dani Daniels will open the store on Black Friday (today) and close down on December 20.</p> <p>According to <a href="">High Snobiety </a>,</p> <div> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div> <p>During the opening, you&rsquo;ll be invited to interact with a camera that submits a live feed straight to Across the entirety of the opening weekend, a limited release of reissued garments from Pornhub&rsquo;s recently sold-out capsule collection with streetwear brand Richardson will again be available for purchase, as well as other branded Pornhub garments.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The store&rsquo;s launch is in partnership with the Museum of Sex, making various products from the Museum&rsquo;s gift shop, including Taschen books, specialty aphrodisiac apothecary herbs and sex games. For lucky attendees, some of Pornhub&rsquo;s most popular porn stars will also be making appearances, including Dani Daniels and Asa Akira during opening weekend. The SoHo store will be open for one month beginning on Black Friday (November 24).</p> </blockquote> </div> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 601px;" /></a></p> <p>Pornhub? Vice President Corey Price said in a <a href="">statement</a> emailed to Retail Dive,</p> <div> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div> <p>As an online brand, we&rsquo;ve been limited to interacting with our fans on the site and through social media. As we continue to increase brand awareness, and expand into new verticals, like retail, we are looking for new ways to interact with our fans.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We thought it would be great to open up a store where fans can come check out the recent streetwear pieces we&rsquo;ve collaborated on and some of our product lines. And what&rsquo;s a better time to open up a new store than Black Friday? Now people can get gifts for friends, family and loved for the holidays!&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> </blockquote> </div> <p><strong>Price&rsquo;s latest vertical stunt through brick-and-mortar retailing appears to come at a time when the website&rsquo;s growth is in free-fall.</strong> Retail Dive said &ldquo;the space in New York is designed to simulate the look and feel of the Pornhub homepage&rdquo; and perhaps it will generate enough hype to boost website growth.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 601px; height: 356px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>Pornhub&rsquo;s pop-up shop is not limited to the United States, as it will capitalize on an international expansion starting in Milan, Italy for the holiday season.</strong> Pornhub is ranked #21 in the Untied States and #38 internationally,&nbsp;according to <a href="">Alexa</a>.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 601px; height: 252px;" /></a></p> <p>In summary, The invasion of porn in American culture has hit a new high, or rather low, this holiday season as one of the world&rsquo;s largest&nbsp;pornographic websites expands into the brick-and-mortar spaces in SoHo and Milan. Add porn to the long list of vices that are eating away at America&rsquo;s declining middle class (but glad to take advantage of America&#39;s even more rapidly declining legacy bricks and mortar outlets).</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="436" height="245" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Asa Akira Black Friday Black Friday Economy Italy New York City Pop-up retail Pornhub Pornhub NETWORK Pornography Retail Retailing Sex industry Soho Video hosting Fri, 24 Nov 2017 19:15:02 +0000 Tyler Durden 607846 at The Economic Fallacies Of Black Friday: 2017 Edition <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Nullus Maximus via The Zeroth Position blog,</em></a></p> <p>Today, shoppers across America will participate in the largest shopping day of the year: Black Friday.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 469px; height: 282px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>The National Retail Federation is <a href="">estimating</a> that 164 million customers will be shopping on Black Friday weekend.</strong> For the first time, their estimate includes Cyber Monday, which had previously been treated separately. The 2016 <a href="">estimates</a> <a href="">were</a> 137.4 million between Thanksgiving and Sunday, and 122.2 million on Monday. The <a href="">actual</a> result from 2016 was 154.4 million between Thanksgiving and Sunday. A similar adjustment to the predicted value for 2017 would mean an actual number of shoppers close to 184.3 million.</p> <div class="entry-content"> <p>The NRF <a href="">estimates</a> that total sales for the holiday season will be between $678.75 billion and $682 billion, up from $658.3 billion in 2016. This would be an annual increase of 3.6 to 4.0 percent. The <a href="">estimate</a> for 2016 was $655.8 billion, suggesting that the total sales for 2017 may be around $683 billion. This year, the NRF estimates that retailers will hire between 500,000 and 550,000 seasonal employees, compared with the actual 575,000 they hired during the 2016 holiday season versus an <a href="">estimate</a> of 640,000 to 690,000. We may therefore expect that retailers will actually hire about 453,900 seasonal employees.</p> <p><u><em><strong>On the surface, this may appear to be a marvelous celebration of free market capitalism. But let us look deeper through the lenses of the <a href="">broken window fallacy</a> and the idea of <a href="">malinvestment</a>.</strong></em></u></p> <p><strong>To view holiday shopping as a boost to the economy ignores the fact that people could either be spending that money in other ways or saving it.</strong></p> <p>In other words, such an approach is an example of the broken window fallacy because it focuses only on what is seen and <strong>ignores <a href="">opportunity costs</a>. </strong>If people would save their money rather than spending it on various holiday gifts, then this money would be invested in one thing or another. As Henry Hazlitt explains in Chapter 23 of <a href=""><em>Economics in One Lesson</em></a>, saving is really just another form of spending, and one that has a greater tendency to allocate resources where they are most needed.</p> <p>Per capita spending is <a href="">predicted</a> to be $967.13 in 2017, up from the 2016 <a href="">estimate</a> of $935.58.<strong> The above problems get even worse if people use credit cards to spend money that they do not currently have.</strong> With a current <a href="">credit card interest rate</a> of 16.72 percent and a minimum payment of 4.0 percent, a debt of $967.13 <a href="">would take</a> 5.5 years to pay off and would cost $1,372.85. This is $405.72 wasted on interest payments that could have been kept in one&rsquo;s accounts or put toward a productive purpose. Multiply this by the 184.3 million shoppers predicted earlier, and the result is that as much as $74.8 billion could be spent on interest payments.</p> <p><u><strong>When people purchase unwanted gifts and/or buy gifts with money they do not currently have, their choices encourage malinvestments. </strong></u>A malinvestment is an investment in a line of production that is mistaken in terms of the real demands of the economy, which leads to wasted capital and economic losses. The holiday shopping season contains a subset of shopping which creates systematic and widespread mistakes in investment and production. Although the effect is not as severe as what occurs during an <a href="">Austrian business cycle</a> bust and is both caused and resolved in fundamentally different ways, there is a noticeable hangover effect on the economy. A look at the <a href="">average monthly returns</a> on the Standard and Poor&rsquo;s 500 shows that while the worst month for investments is September, the next three worst months for investing are February, May, and March. (April would likely be bad as well if not for income tax returns providing an artificial economic boost.)<strong> An economic downturn occurs in the historical average following the holiday season, but as this has become an expected annual occurrence, many analysts simply do not look for an explanation of these results</strong>, as they are perceived to be natural. Even so, this appears to be a small-scale business cycle that repeats annually.</p> <p><em><strong>With these arguments in mind, would we all be better off if we just canceled the holiday shopping season? </strong></em>It is an open question, but the <a href="">Austrian School</a> of economics suggests that we could have a better economy if the burst of economic activity in late November and December were spread throughout the year and people did not spend money they do not have on items they do not need.</p> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="469" height="282" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Austrian School Austrian School of Economics Black Friday Black Friday Business Christmas and holiday season Christmas economics Consumer behaviour Cyber Monday Distribution business) E-commerce Economy Marketing National Retail Federation NRF Online retailers Retailing Shopping Fri, 24 Nov 2017 19:10:10 +0000 Tyler Durden 607862 at Macy’s Parade Security Used to Promote Surveillance and Police State <p><a href="">Via The Daily Bell</a></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">I don’t watch the news often. But the news was playing at the family Thanksgiving gathering. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade was on, and the newscasters were discussing the extreme security measures taken by New York City.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">The massive police presence was welcome according to the news. People were reportedly thanking police officers for their roles. The anchors attributed this attitude change to recent terrorist attacks and shootings.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">The Police Chief bragged that every inch of the city was covered by at least one security camera. He chuckled that there is not a corner you could find to escape being filmed.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;"><a href="" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;">Print news</a>&nbsp;tried to give the same impression.</p> <blockquote style="box-sizing: border-box; padding: 10px 20px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; font-size: 17.5px; border-left: 5px solid #eeeeee; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;"><p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;">To ensure safety, vapor sniffing dogs wandered through crowds while officers watched from above and hid in plain sight.&nbsp;Officers also were escorting each of the giant balloons.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;">“We have people at high posts. We have observation teams, there will be sniper teams in and around. We will have undercover assets in a lot of different buildings so there’s going to be a lot you can see out there and a lot you won’t see,”&nbsp;<a href="" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;">NYPD Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan</a>&nbsp;said.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;">“This beautiful event happens because we are safe. And our thanks to the NYPD for keeping us safe.” de Blasio said.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;">Paradegoers also showed their appreciation for police: The NYPD marching band and a group of mounted officers got some of the biggest cheers from spectators lined up as many as 15 deep along barricades.</p> </blockquote> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">The authorities make sure to push the idea that agents see you without you seeing them. They want everyone to know that embedded amongst the crowds are government spies.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">There are plenty of bad laws that these hidden officers and surveillance might enforce. But apart from that, this is just getting people used to the idea of being watched. We don’t know what kind of crazy laws the government might make down the road. And at that point, it will be too late to do anything about the police state. The cameras will see the crime, no matter how trivial. The police will enforce the laws however oppressive.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">A scared populace is more likely to accept government control. Rather than be wary of government power, fear makes people welcome the monster into their lives. They don’t realize that the government is often a bigger threat to safety and security than terrorists.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">The news and police were reinforcing the opposite of Ben Franklin’s old mantra that if you give up freedom for security, you will get neither. Instead, the news was giving the impression that New Yorkers were gladly trading their privacy for security. They felt better with police everywhere and security cameras covering every inch of the city.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">This attitude suggests that everyone is not just vulnerable, but also helpless to protect themselves. The only way to feel secure is to grow the police and surveillance states.&nbsp;<em style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;">With all the recent events</em>, they say,&nbsp;<em style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;">we can’t afford to let our guard down</em>.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">But that is exactly how I feel about the government. With all their abuses, we cannot let our guard down to their growing power and omnipresence.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">And of course, they ended the broadcast by reminding viewers and New Yorkers, “If you see something, say something.”</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">Privacy has become suspicious. Everyone has a right to poke and prod around in other people’s business because it is such a dangerous world.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">Don’t be worried about strangers watching your every move. After all, they are police. And everyone knows, you can trust the government.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">This attitude requires a serious myth around government. This myth involves convincing people that some magical quality makes government agents different.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">But unfortunately, you don’t have to look far to see that governments agents are just normal people in uniform. The TSA&nbsp;<a href="" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;">fails to stop weapons</a>&nbsp;getting through security in undercover tests 70% of the time. And this was actually a massive improvement from two years ago when 95% of weapons made it through.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">This type of security is the worst of both worlds. People let their guard&nbsp;down. People are left unable to protect themselves, without always realizing that the authorities are not doing what is needed to keep them safe. And it allows abuses at the hands of the agents. Children being felt up by TSA agents is the price we pay for them to stop 30% of the weapons from getting into their “secure” zones in airports.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">It is for these reasons I avoid big cities like New York. But unfortunately, I cannot avoid flying or interacting with government agencies in a number of other ways.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;"><a href="" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;">But I do hold out hope that the number of options for a government will only grow and compete to deliver a more choice.&nbsp;</a></p> Closed-circuit television Crime prevention Draft:Police Community Relations Internet privacy Law enforcement National security New York City New York City Police Department Police Politics Prevention Safety Security Surveillance Fri, 24 Nov 2017 19:00:28 +0000 TDB 607872 at VIX Flash-Crashed Into Today's Close - Hits Record Low 8.56 <p><u><strong>Update:</strong></u> *CBOE: VIX 8.56 PRINT SEEN AS `BLIP&#39;; TRUE LOW SEEN AS 9.64/9.65...</p> <p>Is a &#39;blip&#39; worse, or better, than a &#39;glitch&#39;?</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>At first we assumed it was a fat finger...</p> <p><a href=""><img height="351" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>The flash crash to 8.56 lows occurred at 13:00:14ET...</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 384px;" /></a></p> <p>There was a massive spike in VXX volume at the same time...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 384px;" /></a></p> <p>But it remains in the feeds and so it appears the VIX flash-crash into today&#39;s early close printed the lowest ever level for the fear index...</p> <p><a href=""><img height="318" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Broken Markets?</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="827" height="484" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Blip CBOE Chicago Board Options Exchange Comics Disaster Economy Fear index Fiction Finance Financial markets flash Flash Flash Crash Mathematical finance Money Technical analysis The Fear Index The Flash VIX Fri, 24 Nov 2017 18:50:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607871 at Jeff Bezos Becomes 2nd Man In History To Amass 12-Figure Fortune <p><strong><em>$100,000,000,000....</em></strong></p> <p>That is the net worth of Amazon founder (and Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos after Amazon&#39;s shares surged today on optimism over Black Friday.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="266" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>As Bloomberg reports, the $100 billion milestone makes Bezos, 53, <strong>the first billionaire to build a 12-figure net worth since 1999, when Microsoft Corp. co-founder&nbsp;Bill Gates&nbsp;hit the mark</strong>.</p> <p><strong>Bezos&rsquo;s fortune rose $32.6 billion this year through Thursday</strong>, the largest increase of anyone on the&nbsp;Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world&rsquo;s 500 richest people.</p> <p><u><strong>And then there&#39;s this...</strong></u></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 316px;" /></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="211" height="152" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bill Gates Bill Gates Billionaire Black Friday Bloomberg Billionaires Bloomberg Billionaires Index Blue Origin Business Economy of the United States Jeff Bezos Science and technology in the United States Tau Beta Pi United States Fri, 24 Nov 2017 18:30:01 +0000 Tyler Durden 607869 at