en Strip-Mining The World <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Robert Gore via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>The richest vein in the history of predatory mining is just about played out.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="195" src="" width="450" /></a></p> <p><em>A gigantic mine engages in every conceivable destructive practice&mdash;strip mining, heap leaching, tailings dams and ponds and so on. It pays such low wages its workers only make ends meet by borrowing from the company at usurious rates. The mine has befouled the air and poisoned the water. Many workers are chronically sick and their children are afflicted with birth defects. The mine&rsquo;s absentee owners know that the mine is played out and the tailings dam is structurally unsound. They close the mine, count their profits, and move on. A month later the dam gives way. A deluge of noxious sludge inundates the town below the dam, sparing no one and rendering the area uninhabitable.</em></p> <p><strong>The government is a strip mining operation, plundering the dwindling residual value of a once wealthy America. </strong>Forget ostensible justifications, policy is crafted to allow those who control the government to maximize their take and put the costs on their victims, leaving devastation in their wake.</p> <p><strong>Wars are no longer about defending the country or even making the world safe for democracy. They are about appropriations, not to be won, but profitably prolonged.</strong> The Middle East and Northern Africa have been a mother lode. You would think their sixteen-year war in backward and impoverished Afghanistan would be a shameful disgrace for the military and the intelligence agencies. It&rsquo;s not. They&rsquo;ve milked that conflict for all its worth, and now brazenly talk about a &ldquo;generational war&rdquo;: many more years of more of the same.</p> <p>We can also look forward to generational wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. <strong>The strip miners are agitating for an Iranian foray. </strong>That&rsquo;s got <em>Into The 22nd Century</em> written all over it, a rich, multi-generational vein, perhaps America&rsquo;s first 100-year war.</p> <p><strong>The only rival for richest mother lode is medicine. </strong>Health care is around 28 percent of the federal budget, defense 21 percent. Medical spending no longer cures the sick; it&rsquo;s the take for insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital rackets. The US<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> spends more per capita on health care than any other nation</a>&nbsp;(36 percent more than second-place Switzerland) but quality of care ranks well down the list.</p> <p>In education there is the same gap between per capita spending (the US ranks at or near the top) and value received, in this instance as measured by student performance. <strong>What&rsquo;s paid is out of all proportion to what&rsquo;s received, especially at a time when computer and communications technology should be driving down the costs of education across the board.</strong></p> <p><strong>Indoctrination factories formerly known as schools, colleges, and universities dispense approved propaganda.</strong> For students, higher education is now on the government-sponsored installment plan. There&rsquo;s a litany of excuses why Johnny, Joan, Juan, Juanita, Jamal and Jasmine can&rsquo;t read, compute, or think, but lack of funding and student loans don&rsquo;t wash. Education dollars fund teachers&rsquo; unions, their pensions, administrators, and edifice complexes; learning is an afterthought. This vein will play out as the pensions funds, and the governments that have swapped promises to fund them for educators&rsquo; votes, go bankrupt. Probably around the same time as the student loan bubble pops.</p> <p><strong>Money itself has become a faith-based construct, a strip mining operation jointly owned by the government, the central bank, and the banking cartel it supports. </strong>Replacing gold with paper promises, monetizing debt, interest rate suppression, inflation of the money supply and the central bank&rsquo;s balance sheet, macroeconomic meddling, maintenance of a bankers&rsquo; cartel, and insider dealing within the cartel have immeasurably increased the wealth and power of the entire banking complex.</p> <p>Twenty trillion dollars in debt, two-hundred-plus trillion in unfunded liabilities, and an economy that has barely cruised above stall speed for eight years are core samples indicating the mine is exhausted. The tailings dam has sprung visible leaks. However, <strong>the townspeople below the dam remain willfully oblivious to the danger.</strong></p> <p><u><em><strong>Recognizing reality and doing something about it are hallmarks of mental toughness, once considered a virtue. Now, in various tangible and virtual sanctuaries against facts and logic, the demand is made for reality to conform to the delusions of those who refuse to confront it. In the safe space between their ears, the only danger is someone warning of danger.</strong></em></u></p> <p>Lower even than the level of mental fortitude is physical toughness. When the dam breaks, the obese, opiated, otiose endomorphs resting their girths on couches across America will have no chance of escaping the sludge, even with their motorized carts. President Kennedy christened the President&rsquo;s Council on Physical Fitness to address what he saw as a soft and flabby America. Fifty years later, America is exponentially softer and flabbier&mdash;physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Most Americans are in no condition to handle the emotional and physical stresses crises will bring.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s viciously ironic that many of them will look to the strip miners for salvation. <strong>A captive government that has turned America into a field of rackets</strong>, its string-pullers extracting power and wealth while ordinary people have seen their incomes stagnate, their meager savings dwindle, and opportunities shrink, is somehow going to make financial and economic catastrophe all better.</p> <p><strong>In one sense Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s use of the term &ldquo;deplorable&rdquo; was unfortunate, in that it implies that the strip miners care enough about the townspeople to deprecate them. They don&rsquo;t.</strong> The townspeople have had their uses, but they&rsquo;re expendable once the mine is played out. Let someone else worry about pulling them from the sludge, or just leave them buried.<em><strong> The strip miners chose America first because it had the richest vein, now exhausted. The strip miners will move on to other, albeit less lucrative, lodes. That is what is meant by globalization.</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="450" height="195" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghanistan communications technology Council on Physical Fitness Dam East Africa Iraq Middle East Middle East Mining Money Supply Northern Africa Occupational safety and health Reality Student Loans Switzerland Tailings Mon, 24 Jul 2017 02:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600318 at Russell Clark Speaks In RealVision's "Most Requested Interview Ever" <p>According to RealVision, he’s one of the greatest investors you’ve never heard of. According to us, he ran what was (formerly) the world's most bearish hedge fund, although at the end of 2016, after suffering substantial losses, he <a href="">capitulated </a>and went flat, after closing much of his short book. </p> <p><img src="" width="500" height="230" /></p> <p>To be sure, Russell Clark, and his Horseman Global (which after phenomenal returns for much in the post-crisis period, closed 2016 with a thud, dropping 24% and down another 8% YTD, isn’t a household name. But in investment circles, he’s known as one of the world's most aggresive, and better, short sellers.</p> <p>In a rare camera appearance, Russell Clark sat down with Real Vision TV’s Raoul Pal in what has been dubbed as "one of RealVision's most requested interviews ever", to discuss investing and share his approach to markets. </p> <p>In one part of the interview, Clark says that one reason for his success is his focus on currencies. While for many investors the risk and reward of currencies is an afterthought, it forms the base of Clark’s investment worldview.&nbsp; “What we try and do is invert the process,” Clark says. “So, we'd put currencies at the beginning of the investment process rather than at the end. And that's really been the heart of how I look at things…”</p> <p><iframe src="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Next, as we conveniently laid out just yesterday in "<a href="">Why Horseman Global Is Aggressively Shorting Shale</a>", Clark touches on his short shale thesis, telling Pal that shale oil is "<strong>an industry that shouldn’t exist</strong>."</p> <p>As we discussed yesterday, Clark has once again emerged from his recent "neutral" position and is shorting shale oil stocks. According to Clark, shale oil companies “<strong>never make any money</strong>,” and the industry only exists because borrowing costs are so low. </p> <p>He compares U.S. shale today to China’s steel industry in 2012 - just before it crashed. <a href="">For those who missed it</a>, here are more details on his latest short bet from his latest letter to Horseman investors:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>I had shorted shale producers and the related MLP stocks before, and I knew there was something wrong with the industry, but I failed to find the trigger for the US shale industry to fail. And like most other investors I was continually swayed by the statements from the US shale drillers that they have managed to cut breakeven prices even further. <strong>However, I have taken a closer look at the data from EIA and from the company presentations. The rising decline rates of major US shale basins, and the increasing incidents of frac hits (also a cause of rising decline rates) have convinced me that US shale producers are not only losing competitiveness against other oil drillers, but they will find it hard to make money</strong>. If US rates continue to stay low, then it is possible that the high yield markets may continue to supply these drillers with capital, but I think that this is unlikely. More likely is that at some point debt investors start to worry that they will not get their capital back and cut lending to the industry. Even a small reduction in capital, would likely lead to a steep fall in US oil production. If new drilling stopped today, daily US oil production would fall by 350 thousand barrels a day over the next month (Source: EIA).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What I also find extraordinary, is that it seems to me shale drilling is a very unprofitable industry, and becoming more so</strong>. And yet, many businesses in the US have expended large amounts of capital on the basis that US oil will always be cheap and plentiful. I am thinking of pipelines, refineries, LNG exporters, chemical plants to name the most obvious. Even more amazing is that other oil sources have become more cost competitive but have been starved of resources. If US oil production declines, the rest of the world will struggle to increase output. An oil squeeze looks more likely to me. A broader commodity squeeze also looks likely to me.</p> </blockquote> <p>More on Clark's latest shale bet in the excerpt below.</p> <p> <iframe src="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Among the other topics covered, is Clark's take on how investing relates to poker… including why a seemingly inferior hand can actually make much more money than a hidden pair of aces.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe> </p> <p>The full interview can be found here, along with a <a href="">free 7 day trial</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="595" height="346" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Borrowing Costs Business Fail High Yield Oil shale Petroleum Real Vision Shale gas in the United Kingdom Shale gas in the United States Shale oil Mon, 24 Jul 2017 01:34:33 +0000 Tyler Durden 600323 at "It Feels Like An Avalanche": China's Crackdown On Conglomerates Has Sent A "Shock Wave" Across Markets <p>The first to suffer Beijing's crackdown against China's private merger-crazy conglomerates, wave was the <a href="">acquisitive "insurance" behemoth, Anbang</a>, whose CEO Wu Xiaohui briefly disappeared as the Politburo made it clear that the "old way" of money laundering - via offshore deals - is no longer tolerated. Then, several weeks later and shortly after the stocks of the "famous four" Chinese conglomerates plunged after China <a href="">officially launched a crackdown on foreign acquirers amid concerns of "systemic risk</a>", it was HNA's turn, which as we described last week, risks becoming a "<a href="">reverse rollup from hell</a>", as HNA's stock tumbled, sending the LTV of billions in loans collateralized by the company's shares soaring and in danger of unleashing an catastrophic margin call among the company's lenders. </p> <p><img src="" width="500" height="427" /></p> <p>Then Beijing's attention shifted to the biggest conglomerate of them all: billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group, which as the WSJ and <a href="">Bloomberg reported</a> was being "punished" by Beijing, and would see its funding cutoff after China "<strong>concluded the conglomerate breached restrictions for overseas investments</strong>."</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>The scrutiny could rein in Wang’s ambitious attempt to create a global entertainment empire, including Hollywood production companies and a giant cinema chain he’s built up through acquisitions from the U.S. to the U.K. Six investments, such as the purchases of Nordic Cinema Group Holding AB and Carmike Cinemas Inc., were found to have violations, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a private matter. The retaliatory measures will include banning banks from providing Wanda with financial support linked to these projects and barring the company from selling those assets to any local companies, the people said. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The move is an unprecedented setback for the country’s second-richest man, who has announced more than $20 billion of deals since the beginning of 2016. By targeting one of the nation’s top businessmen, the government is escalating its broader crackdown on capital outflows and further chilling the prospects of overseas acquisitions during a politically sensitive year in China.</p> </blockquote> <p>Summarizing the abrupt shift in sentiment in China was Castor Pang, head of research at Core-Pacific Yamaichi, who said that “to investors, political risk is now the biggest concern when investing in Chinese companies. Not only Wanda, every Chinese company won’t find it easy anymore to acquire assets overseas. <strong>Stabilizing the yuan is the top priority for Beijing now.”</strong></p> <p>While it is not exactly clear just why Beijing so quickly soured on foreign transactions - as we explained back in 2015, it was abundantly clear back then these were nothing more than a <em>less than sophisticated way </em>to launder money offshore - unless of course the capital flight out of China is far worse than what Beijing would disclose, what has become quite clear is that <strong>Wanda was among the conglomerates including Fosun International, HNA Group and Anbang Insurance whose loans are under government scrutiny after China’s banking regulator asked some lenders to provide information on overseas loans to the companies</strong>.</p> <p>In other words, the foreign merger party is over. In fact, for some of the above listed 4 conglomerates, the party may be over, period.</p> <p>And now as the <a href="">WSJ reported over the weekend</a>, it has become clear that China’s government reined in one of its brashest conglomerates <strong>with the explicit approval of President Xi Jinping</strong>, "according to people with knowledge of the action—a mark that the broader government clampdown on large private companies comes right from the top of China’s leadership."</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>The measures, with President Xi’s previously unreported approval last month, <strong>bar state-owned banks from making new loans to property giant Dalian Wanda Group to help fuel its foreign expansion</strong>. </p> </blockquote> <p>The cutoff in bank financing for the company’s foreign investments highlights Beijing’s changing view of a series of Wanda’s recent overseas acquisitions as irrational and overpriced. In short, and as noted above, Yuan stability above all. </p> <p>For the local market, the shift in Beijing's strategy is nothing short of a seismic shift:</p> <p><strong>“It feels like an avalanche,” </strong>said Jingzhou Tao, a lawyer at Dechert LLP in Beijing, who does mergers and acquisitions work. “<strong>This is sending a shock wave through the business community</strong>.”</p> <p>* * * </p> <p>Regular readers are aware of what, until recently, was China's unquenchable thirst for foreign <span style="text-decoration: line-through;">money laundering</span> transactions, something we first pointed <a href="">out at the start of 2016</a>, and which had - until recently - grown exponentially. Since 2015, <strong>the four companies completed a combined $55 billion in overseas acquisitions, 18% of Chinese companies’ total. </strong>In recent days, however, as <a href="">reported here 2 weeks ago</a>, Wanda’s billionaire founder Wang Jianlin has been shrinking his empire by selling off assets and paying back the company’s bank loans.</p> <p>What is surprising about the sudden shift, is that Beijing had for years been encouraged Chinese companies to scour the globe for deals. Now, in a dramatic U-turn, it is reining in some of its highest-profile private entrepreneurs in what officials say is growing unease with their high leverage and growing influence. As the WSJ notes, "the measures serve as a stern warning for other big companies that loaded up on debt to buy overseas assets, officials and analysts say."</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="326" /></a></p> <p>How does the president fit into all of this? According to the WSJ, "<strong>Xi acted after China’s cabinet set the government machinery in gear by directing financial regulators, the economic planning agency and other bureaucracies to take a hard look at foreign acquisitions, once seen as a means for China to showcase its economic might." </strong></p> <p>And, as previously reported, the crackdown started at Anbang and HNA, when Chinese banking regulators first ordered banks to scrutinize loans to Anbang in June, and other highfliers including airlines-and-hotels conglomerate HNA Group, which has pulled back on overseas investments. HNA said in a statement it continues to take a “disciplined approach” to identifying “strategic acquisitions across our core areas of focus.”</p> <p>Discussing the government's crackdown on conglomerates, officials at Fosun said the firm has “overseas funds and other stable financing channels,” including a fund of around U.S. $1 billion to invest, <strong>but emphasized it “fully respects the government regulations both in China and overseas markets.” </strong>Fosun has a listed unit in Hong Kong, and its strategy to invest in health care and technology “adheres to China’s global investment strategy,” said a spokesman, Chen Bo. </p> <p>In any case, the most likely outcome is that in the future China’s private companies will have trouble getting capital, which would help shift financial clout further in favor of big state-owned enterprises, which may also explain President Xi's change in opinion. <strong>Beijing’s sterner line comes as big private businesses and others have been amassing capital and influence that challenge the authoritarian Chinese leadership’s firm hold on the economy</strong>.</p> <p>Its grip has been tested over a bumpy few years. After a 2015 stock market meltdown and a botched government rescue, a gush of money flowed out of the country looking for better returns. That in turn put pressure on China’s tightly controlled yuan and foreign-exchange reserves, both seen by Beijing as barometers of confidence in the economy. It has also led to a chilling effect on Chinese outbound investment which has crashed as shown in the chart below.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="426" /></a></p> <p>Putting the foreign merger spree in context, Chinese firms completed $187 billion in outbound deals last year, according to Dealogic, as private companies snapped up trophy properties, soccer clubs and hotels, while Chinese with means bought homes and pushed up real-estate prices from Texas to Sydney.</p> <p>The private sector’s share of overseas spending shot up from barely above zero about a decade <strong>ago to nearly half of China’s total overseas investments in 2016, before slipping back to 36.9% in the first half of 2017</strong>, according to Derek Scissors, a China expert at the American Enterprise Institute.</p> <p>But the most important factor, and among the main reasons for the current crackdown, is that amid the rush of investments, <strong>Beijing burned through nearly a trillion dollars in foreign-exchange reserves trying to steady the yuan. That ultimately led government regulators to clamp controls on money exiting the country and to scrutinize all proposed major offshore investments.</strong></p> <p>Just as we predicted over a year ago would happen, once the government finally realized that all that M&amp;A is <a href="">nothing more than capital flight</a>. </p> <p>As the WSJ puts it, "the latest scrutiny is a watershed moment in the Communist government’s relations with a private sector it has never been comfortable with. Though some senior leaders, particularly Premier Li Keqiang, are urging a new culture of startups and small businesses, Mr. Xi has promoted plans to make already-large state enterprises larger and strengthen their sway over the economy."</p> <p>There are other reasons for the crackdown too: one is the still fresh memory of what happened in Japan when it did the exact same thing. China is acutely aware that as Japan rose to economic prominence in the 1980s, <strong>its companies splurged on American real estate and other trophy assets, resulting in losses that cascaded through Japan’s banking sector</strong>. </p> <p>But mostly, it is about power and control:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Mr. Tao, the Beijing lawyer, says the government’s new aggressive posture is <strong>driven in large measure by a need for control</strong>. “State-owned assets, whether in China or abroad, are still state assets,” he said. “But when private entrepreneurs take their money out, it’s gone. It’s no longer something that China can benefit from or the Chinese government can get a handle on.”</p> </blockquote> <p>And since in any power struggle between Chinese companies and Beijing in general, and Xi Jinping in particular, the latter will always win, the market's reaction was to violently selloff any big Chinese conglomerate stocks. An early sign of government discomfort with overseas spending was Anbang’s unsuccessful $14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels &amp; Resorts Worldwide Inc. in 2016. Authorities expressed displeasure with the bold move, believing that Anbang had offered too much, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Anbang, which had appeared unstoppable in 2014 when it struck a $2 billion deal to buy the U.S. Waldorf Astoria hotel, fell deeper in trouble. This past June, special government investigators looking into economic crimes detained Anbang’s chairman, Wu Xiaohui, who hasn’t appeared in public since.</p> </blockquote> <p>Separately, in the case of Wanda, regulators acted in the belief the company overpaid in efforts to expand beyond shopping centers and hotels and into entertainment, according to the people with knowledge of the action.</p> <p>Its largest such acquisition was of Legendary Entertainment, the Hollywood producer and financier behind films including “Jurassic World” and “The Dark Knight.” Wanda spent $3.5 billion to buy Legendary in 2016; In Hollywood, industry insiders widely believed the company paid too much. Legendary said this week that it is well-capitalized, operating normally and able to fund its film and television productions.</p> <p>As for HNA, recall that it was the <a href="">stealthy buyer of Anthony Scaramucci's SkyBridge Capital</a>, another deal which will soon fall under tremendous scrutiny, and which could be unwound in the coming weeks if concerns about conflicts of interest emerge again, only this time not between the US and Russia - especially once the "Russia collusion" story is finally over - but the White House and Beijing.</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="1241" height="719" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> American Enterprise Institute Anbang Insurance Group Banking in China Business Business China China’s government Chinese government Communist government Conglomerate Economy Economy of China Foreign Investments Fosun International Global Systemically Important Banks HNA Group Hong Kong ING Group Japan Meltdown Real estate Starwood Starwood Hotels United Overseas Bank Wanda Group White House White House Yuan Mon, 24 Jul 2017 00:47:01 +0000 Tyler Durden 600322 at Fukushima's "Swimming Robot" Captures First Images Of 'Massive Deposits' Of Melted Nuclear Fuel <p>The &ldquo;Little Sunfish,&rdquo; the swimming robot that TEPCO is using to capture images of the containment vessel in the Unit 3 reactor of the ruined Fukushima power plant, has brought back the goods.</p> <p>A trove of new images captured in the past few days show what is likely to be melted nuclear fuel from inside the reactor, <strong>what<a href=""> Bloomberg</a> describes as a &ldquo;potential milestone&rdquo; in the cleanup of one of the worst atomic disasters in history.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 336px;" /></a></p> <p>The pictures show what looks to be the melted nuclear fuel that caused the worst-ever nuclear disaster when northeastern Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. <strong>If confirmed, these would be the first discovery of the fuel, which is being sought by TEPCO as part of the cleanup effort.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<strong>Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., Japan&rsquo;s biggest utility, released images on Saturday of mounds of black rock and sand-like substances at the bottom of the No. 3 reactor containment vessel at Fukushima,</strong> which is likely to contain melted fuel, according to Takahiro Kimoto, an official at the company.<strong> A survey on Friday found black icicles hanging from the above pressure vessel, which was &ldquo;highly likely&rdquo; to contain melted fuel. Kimoto noted it would take time to confirm whether this debris contains melted fuel.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&#39;The pictures that we have gained will assist us in devising a plan for removing the melted fuel,&#39; </strong>Kimoto told reporters Saturday night in Tokyo.<strong> &#39;Taking pictures of how debris scattered inside of the reactor was a big accomplishment.&#39;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If confirmed, these pictures would be the first discovery of the fuel that melted during the triple reactor accident at Fukushima six years ago. <strong>For Tokyo Electric, which bears most of the cleanup costs, the discovery would help the utility design a way to remove the highly-radioactive material.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The pictures were taken by the <a href="">&ldquo;Little Sunfish,&rdquo;</a> the Toshiba-designed robot the company sent into the destroyed reactors to explore the inside of the reactor for the first time from July 19. <strong>The robot, 30 centimeters (12 inches) long that can swim in the flooded unit, was tasked with surveying the damage inside and also finding the location of corium, which is a mixture of the atomic fuel rods and other structural materials that forms after a meltdown.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;It is important to know the exact locations and the physical, chemical, radiological forms of the corium to develop the necessary engineering defueling plans for the safe removal of the radioactive materials,&rdquo; said Lake Barrett, a former official at the U.S. <strong>Nuclear Regulatory Commission who was involved with the cleanup at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in the U.S.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;The recent investigation results are significant early signs of progress on the long road ahead.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Until now, TEPCO hasn&rsquo;t managed to find the melted fuel, presenting a major obstacle in the cleanup effort, where the removal of the fuel is considered one of the most difficult steps. Sightings of what was believed to be the destroyed fuel in reactors No. 1 and No.2 proved to be inaccurate.</strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Similar to the latest findings in the No. 3 reactor, Tepco took photographs in January of what appeared to be black residue covering a grate under the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 2 reactor, which was speculated to have been melted fuel. However, a follow-up survey by another Toshiba-designed robot in February failed to confirm the location of any melted fuel in the reactor after it got stuck in debris.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>A robot designed by Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd. also failed to find any melted fuel during its probe of the No. 1 reactor in March.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The significance of the recent finding &ldquo;might be evidence that the robots used by TEPCO can now deal with the higher radiation levels, at least for periods of time that allow them to search parts of the reactor that are more likely to contain fuel debris,&rdquo; M.V. Ramana, professor at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, said by email.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;If some of these fragments can be brought out of the reactor and studied, it would allow nuclear engineers and scientists to better model what happened during the accident.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>According to <a href="">Bloomberg,</a> because of the high radioactivity levels inside the reactor, only specially designed robots can probe the unit. And the unprecedented nature of the Fukushima disaster means that the utility is pinning its efforts on technology not yet invented to get the melted fuel out of the reactors.</p> <p>The budget for the cleanup, which is still running behind schedule, has more than doubled to a whopping $188 billion last year. <strong>TEPCO has also not been able to decide on what to do with the 777,000 tons of water contaminated with tritium when it was used to cool down the plant&rsquo;s cores, and has petitioned Japan&rsquo;s government to allow it to dump some of the water into the Pacific. </strong>According to the officials, tritium is not harmful in small doses. <strong>It&rsquo;s believed that the decommissioning of the reactors will cost 8 trillion yen ($72 billion), according to an estimate in December from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and take as long as 40 years.</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="1044" height="701" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Corium Energy Environment Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Fukushima disaster cleanup Japan Japan’s government Liu Institute for Global Issues Meltdown Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry northeastern Japan Nuclear Power Nuclear power Nuclear power plant Nuclear technology radiation Three Mile Island Tokyo Electric Power Company U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Yen Mon, 24 Jul 2017 00:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600310 at Five Weird Conspiracy Theories From CIA Director Mike Pompeo <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Adam Garrie via The Duran,</em></a></p> <p><strong><em>Mike Pompeo sounds increasingly unhinged when talking about Russia, Wikileaks and the media.</em></strong></p> <p><em><a href=""><img height="288" src="" width="463" /></a></em></p> <p>In a tirade against Russia based news outlets RT and Sputnik, <strong>Donald Trump&rsquo;s CIA Director Mike Pompeo blasted Russia for interfering not only in the 2016 US Presidential election but &ldquo;the one before that and the one before that&rdquo;. </strong>This would imply that Russia helped install Barack Obama in the White House even after his severely anti-Russian foreign policy became well known.</p> <p>These statements are&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">blasted</a>&nbsp;by Russia&rsquo;s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the following way:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>If (Pompeo&rsquo;s) statements mean that we interfered in the elections in 2008 and 2012 that means that President Obama owes us his victories. I&rsquo;ll refrain from comment. In my opinion, this crosses the lines of what is reasonable.</strong></p></blockquote> <p>Pompeo&rsquo;s assertion came after a tirade in which he said that Russia&rsquo;s current&nbsp;Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov helped develop a &lsquo;propaganda&rsquo; strategy which underlies RT and Sputnik&rsquo;s alleged purpose. Pompeo further asserted that Gerasimov did this in the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">early 1970s</a>. According to Pompeo:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>His (Gerasimov&rsquo;s) idea was that you can win wars without firing a single shot, with firing a very few shots in ways that are decidedly not militaristic. And that&rsquo;s what happened</p> <p>What changes is the cost to effectuate change through cyber and through RT and Sputnik, the news outlets and through other soft means has just really been lowered. It used to be expensive to run an ad on a television station. Now you simply go online and propagate your message, so they have found an effective tool, an easy way to go reach into our systems and into our culture to achieve the outcome they are looking for.</p></blockquote> <p><strong>The ludicrousness of this claim can be easily debunked when one learns that General&nbsp;Gerasimov was born in 1955.</strong>&nbsp;If one can conservatively say that 1973 was the &lsquo;early 1970s&rsquo;, this means that&nbsp;Gerasimov developed a communications strategy that relied on the internet being up to 2017 standards when he was 18 years of age. <strong>There is simply no logic in Pompeo&rsquo;s assertions.</strong></p> <p>This is the same Mike Pompeo who has told some rather strange tall-tales about Wikileak&rsquo;s founder Julian Assange while simultaneously calming that RT is part of Wikileaks.</p> <p>In April of 2017, Pompeo stated:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is &ndash; a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.</strong> In January of this year, our Intelligence Community determined that Russian military intelligence&mdash;the GRU&mdash;had used WikiLeaks to release data of US victims that the GRU had obtained through cyber operations against the Democratic National Committee. And the report also found that Russia&rsquo;s primary propaganda outlet, RT, has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.</p></blockquote> <p>He then stated:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>No, I am quite confident that had Assange been around in the 1930s and 40s and 50s, he would have found himself on the wrong side of history.</strong></p></blockquote> <p><u><strong>So to recap, the following are Mike Pompeo&rsquo;s most ludicrous conspiracy theories:</strong></u></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>1. Russia&rsquo;s current&nbsp;Chief of the General Staff invented the concept of RT and Sputnik, one which relies on the power of the internet in 2017, in the early 1970s when he was in his late teens and still in the equivalent of high school.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2. Russia interfered in the US elections in 2008, 2012 and 2016, meaning that Russia supported Barack Obama who was the most anti-Russian US President in modern memory, but no one noticed this Russian interference&nbsp;at the time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3. RT collaborates with Wikileaks which is a hostile intelligence agency rather than an on-line publisher.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>4. Julian Assange, a self-styled free speech advocate and anti-war activist would have&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">supported Hitler</a>&nbsp;in the 1930s and 1940s.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>5. RT and Sputnik are supported by Russia because they are&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">cheaper than going to war</a>. This is ostensibly a bad thing in Pompeo&rsquo;s view.</p> </blockquote> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Mike Pompeo seems like less of an intelligence chief than a simplistic conspiracy theories.</strong></span></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="463" height="288" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Adam Barack Obama Central Intelligence Agency Democratic National Committee Donald Trump Espionage Julian Assange Mass media Mike Pompeo National security Politics Politics President Obama RT Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Sputnik State media Television White House White House WikiLeaks Sun, 23 Jul 2017 23:40:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600314 at UN Document From 2000 Exposes Global "Migration Replacement" Solution To Developed World Demographics <p>Ever wondered why so many western elites are so vehemently supportive of mass immigration? Ever question how willfully blind the establishment is to the costs (human and capital) of allowing any- and everyone into the heart of European nations? Well wonder no more...</p> <p>As a reminder, <a href=""><strong>the world faces decades of depopulation</strong></a>. Our present economic issues began decades ago.&nbsp; To understand what is happening economically, simply check the headwaters of (de)population (excluding Africa) under way since 1990...the chart below shows the 0-5yr/old population (excluding Africa) vs. the 0-5yr/old population of Africa.&nbsp;</p> <p>World 0-5yr/old population change (excluding Africa):</p> <ul> <li>1950--&gt;1990 + 234m</li> <li>1990--&gt;2015 &lt;-47m&gt;</li> <li>2015--&gt;2050 &lt;-67m&gt; (UN med. est.)</li> </ul> <p>Africa 0-5yr/old population change:</p> <ul> <li>1950--&gt;1990 + 71m</li> <li>1990--&gt;2015 +75m</li> <li>2015--&gt;2050 +95m (UN med. est.)</li> </ul> <p><a href=""><img height="320" src="" width="500" /></a></p> <p><strong>Population growth is responsible for the majority of GDP a downturn in population growth matters...particularly when population growth shifts from wealthy or developing nations to the poorest.</strong>&nbsp; I&#39;m not describing something that may happen in the future...I&#39;m describing what has already happened that is continuing to send progressively larger tsunamis swamping the world economy and has the central bankers doing everything and anything to try to sustain the unsustainable.</p> <p>Which means, as<a href=""> Econimica&#39;s Chris Hamilton recently noted,</a> <strong>the next business cycle recession will be unending and is very likely to run years into decades and perhaps a century or more.</strong>&nbsp; A declining population already indebted with record debt and zero interest rates will consume less...meaning overcapacity and excess inventories will never be fully cleared before the next downturn...and on and on and on.</p> <p>But the absence of a growing consumer base isn&#39;t just a US issue...<strong>this is a global problem.&nbsp; </strong>The annual growth of the 0-64yr/old population of the combined OECD nations (most the EU, US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Japan, S. Korea, Australia / New Zealand) plus China, Brazil, and Russia show the growth that has driven nearly all economic growth has come to an end...and begins declining from here on.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 501px; height: 410px;" /></a></p> <p>And when importers are shrinking, exporters have no one to export to...and on and on and on.&nbsp;<strong> The depopulation we are now facing is not simply a demographic issue that so many believe; the end of growth is the start of the SHTF scenario in which we now find ourselves.</strong>&nbsp; While this situation offers short term nirvana to investors, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>the economic repercussions are ultimately disastrous</strong></span>.</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>And so with that as background - and as noted above, a crisis that has been foreseeable on the horizon for years -<u><strong> it appears, based on a <a href="">recently exposed United Nations report from the year 2000</a>, that the &#39;new world order&#39; envisioned a &#39;final solution&#39; to this demographic dilemma of a collapsing consumer base for the west&#39;s credit-based economies</strong></u>...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 331px;" /></a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has released a new report titled<strong> ?Replacement Migration: Is it a Solution to Declining and Ageing Populations??. Replacement migration refers to the international migration that a country would need to prevent population decline and population ageing resulting from low fertility and mortality rates.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>United Nations projections indicate that between 1995 and 2050, the population of Japan and virtually all countries of Europe will most likely decline.</strong> In a number of cases, including Estonia, Bulgaria and Italy, countries would lose between one quarter and one third of their population. Population ageing will be pervasive, bringing the median age of population to historically unprecedented high levels. For instance, in Italy, the median age will rise from 41 years in 2000 to 53 years in 2050. The potential support ratio -- i.e., the number of persons of working age (15-64 years) per older person -- will often be halved, from 4 or 5 to 2.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Focusing on these two striking and critical trends, the report examines in detail the case of eight low-fertility countries (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States) and two regions (Europe and the European Union). In each case, alternative scenarios for the period 1995-2050 are considered, highlighting<strong> the impact that various levels of immigration would have on population size and population ageing.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Major findings of this report include:</p> <ul> <li><strong>In the next 50 years, the populations of most developed countries are projected to become smaller and older as a result of low fertility and increased longevity. </strong>In contrast, the population of the United States is projected to increase by almost a quarter. Among the countries studied in the report, Italy is projected to register the largest population decline in relative terms, losing 28 per cent of its population between 1995 and 2050, according to the United Nations medium variant projections. The population of the European Union, which in 1995 was larger than that of the United States by 105 million, in 2050, will become smaller by 18 million.</li> <li><strong>Population decline is inevitable in the absence of replacement migration.</strong> Fertility may rebound in the coming decades, but few believe that it will recover sufficiently in most countries to reach replacement level in the foreseeable future.</li> <li><u><strong>Some immigration is needed to prevent population decline in all countries and regions examined in the report</strong></u>. However, the level of immigration in relation to past experience varies greatly. For the European Union, a continuation of the immigration levels observed in the 1990s would roughly suffice to prevent total population from declining, while for Europe as a whole, immigration would need to double. The Republic of Korea would need a relatively modest net inflow of migrants -- a major change, however, for a country which has been a net sender until now. Italy and Japan would need to register notable increases in net immigration. In contrast, France, the United Kingdom and the United States would be able to maintain their total population with fewer immigrants than observed in recent years.</li> <li><u><strong>The numbers of immigrants needed to prevent the decline of the total population are considerably larger than those envisioned by the United Nations projections.</strong></u> The only exception is the United States.</li> <li><u><strong>The numbers of immigrants needed to prevent declines in the working- age population are larger than those needed to prevent declines in total population.</strong></u> In some cases, such as the Republic of Korea, France, the United Kingdom or the United States, they are several times larger. If such flows were to occur, post-1995 immigrants and their descendants would represent a strikingly large share of the total population in 2050 -- between 30 and 39 per cent in the case of Japan, Germany and Italy.</li> <li><u><strong>Relative to their population size, Italy and Germany would need the largest number of migrants to maintain the size of their working-age populations.</strong></u> Italy would require 6,500 migrants per million inhabitants annually and Germany, 6,000. The United States would require the smallest number -- 1,300 migrants per million inhabitants per year.</li> <li><u><strong>The levels of migration needed to prevent population ageing are many times larger than the migration streams needed to prevent population decline. </strong></u>Maintaining potential support ratios would in all cases entail volumes of immigration entirely out of line with both past experience and reasonable expectations.</li> <li><strong>In the absence of immigration, the potential support ratios could be maintained at current levels by increasing the upper limit of the working-age population to roughly 75 years of age.</strong></li> <li><strong>The new challenges of declining and ageing populations will require a comprehensive reassessment of many established policies and programmes, with a long-term perspective</strong>. Critical issues that need to be addressed include: (a) the appropriate ages for retirement; (b) the levels, types and nature of retirement and health care benefits for the elderly; (c) labour force participation; (d) the assessed amounts of contributions from workers and employers to support retirement and health care benefits for the elderly population; and (e) policies and programmes relating to international migration, in particular, <u><strong>replacement migration and the integration of large numbers of recent migrants and their descendants.</strong></u></li> </ul> </blockquote> <p>The problem with this cunning plan to immigrant-ize western nations to backfill the domestic demographic decline is that the <strong>immigrants - as a whole - are a drag on growth (via politically-correct benefits, extra policing, and border enforcements) as opposed to the economy-improving growth dynamos that the United Nations assumed any sentient-credit-consuming-being would be in the year 2000</strong>.</p> <p><strong>Even the world&#39;s richest man is starting to get the joke that the new world order&#39;s cunning plan is not working...</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="309" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Europe will be devastated by African refugees if they don&rsquo;t &ldquo;make it more difficult for Africans to reach the continent,&rdquo; and the solution lies in European nations&nbsp;committing billions of taxpayer money towards overseas aid.</strong></p> <p>According to Gates, the combination of explosive population growth in Africa combined with Europe&rsquo;s notoriously&nbsp;generous open-border migrant welfare programs &ndash; as illustrated by the &lsquo;German attitude to refugees&rsquo; have incentivised migrants to flood into Europe.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees, but the more generous you are, the more <strong>word gets around</strong> about this - <strong>which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa.</strong>&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Germany has been one of the pioneers of the open door policy,<strong> it cannot &ldquo;take in the huge, massive number of people who are wanting to make their way to Europe.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thus Gates advised European nations to<strong> take action in order to make it &ldquo;more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via the current transit routes.&rdquo;</strong><br />&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="">&ndash;Bill Gates</a></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="615" height="338" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Ageing Ageing of Europe Australia B+ Bill Gates Brazil Bulgaria China Demographic economics Demographics Demography Department of Economic and Social Affairs Estonia European Union European Union France Germany Human overpopulation Immigration Immigration to Australia Italy Japan Mexico New Zealand OECD Population Population ageing Population decline Population Division Population growth Recession Replacement migration Social Issues United Kingdom United Nations Sun, 23 Jul 2017 23:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600303 at David Stockman Has Had Enough: "Brennan, Rice, Power - Lock Them All Up!" <p><a href=""><em>Authored by David Stockman via,</em></a></p> <p>We frequently hear people say they have <strong>nothing to hide</strong> - so surrendering privacy and constitutional rights to the Surveillance State may not be such a big deal if it helps catch a terrorist or two. <strong>But with each passing day in the RussiaGate drama we are learning that this superficial exoneration is dangerously beside the point.</strong></p> <p><strong>We are referring here to the unrelenting witch hunt that has been unleashed by Imperial Washington against the legitimately elected President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. </strong>This campaign of lies, leaks and Russophobia is the handiwork of Obama&rsquo;s top national security advisors, who blatantly misused Washington&rsquo;s surveillance apparatus to discredit Trump and to effectively nullify America&rsquo;s democratic process.</p> <p>That is, constitutional protections and liberties were systematically breached, but not simply to intimidate, hush or lock up citizens one by one as per the standard totalitarian modus operandi. Instead, what has happened is that <strong>the entire public debate has been hijacked by the shadowy forces of the Deep State and their partisan and media collaborators.</strong></p> <p><u><strong>The enabling culprits</strong></u> are Obama&rsquo;s last CIA director, John Brennan, his national security advisor Susan Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Power. There is now mounting evidence that it was they who illegally &ldquo;unmasked&rdquo; NSA intercepts from Trump Tower; they who confected the Russian meddling narrative from behind the protective moat of classified intelligence; and they who orchestrated a systematic campaign of leaks and phony intelligence reports during the presidential transition&mdash;-all designed to delegitimize Trump before he even took the oath of office.<span class="amazon-element-wrapper-custom align-right"> </span></p> <p>So all three of them should be <strong><em>locked&shy;up</em></strong>&mdash;-that&rsquo;s for sure. But the more urgent solution would be to <strong><em>unlock and make public</em></strong> all the innuendo, surmises, assessments, half-truths and boilerplate intelligence chatter on which the entire false narrative about Russian meddling and collusion is based.</p> <p><u><strong>Stated differently, without the nation&rsquo;s massive intelligence apparatus and absurd system of secrecy and classified information to hide behind, the RussiaGate witch hunt would have never gotten off the ground.</strong></u></p> <p>In truth, as we will essay below, there is no there, there. So what this new chapter in McCarthyite hysteria actually demonstrates is that the Imperial City&rsquo;s far-flung, 17-agency, $75 billion Intelligence Behemoth is a plenary threat not just to individual liberty, but to the very constitutional democracy on which the latter depends.</p> <p>To appreciate the severity of the threat, it is necessary to recognize that <strong>the post-9/11 Deep State has lowered a double whammy on our system. </strong>That is, it unconstitutionally collects the entirety of all internet based communications of America&rsquo;s 325 million citizen, while at the same time it has effectively disenfranchised 98% of the 535 members of the House and Senate who have been elected to represent them.</p> <p>Accordingly, behind the Surveillance State&rsquo;s vast wall of secrecy and so-called &ldquo;classified&rdquo; information, <strong>there operates a Dark Government that is unaccountable to the public and largely unconstrained by normal constitutional limits</strong>, which the Patriot Act and secret FISA courts have more or less suspended.</p> <p><strong>In the realm of this Dark Government, the heart of American democracy&mdash;-the US Congress&mdash;has been completely usurped. </strong>Almost everything behind the secrecy wall is off limits to the rank and file. Only a handful of intelligence committee members and the House and Senate leadership gets sworn into the classified intelligence.</p> <p>Yet just consider the hideous asymmetry of this arrangement. The so-called &ldquo;Gang of Eight,&rdquo; comprising the heads of the intelligence oversight committees and their respective party leadership, gets orally briefed in a secure &ldquo;vault&rdquo;, where they can&rsquo;t take notes or carry-out any documents.</p> <p>Moreover, this select handful of legislators consists of the incessantly mobilized and frazzled potentates of Capitol Hill who are always knee-deep in a thousand other distractions&mdash;-including a heavy quotient of politicking, fund-raising, and campaign trail excursions.</p> <p><strong>On the inside of the Surveillance State wall, by contrast, there are 600,000 employees or contractors with &ldquo;top secret&rdquo; security clearances alone</strong>; and more than 4 million total operatives who spend night and days feasting on the $75 billion Intelligence Community (IC) budget and carrying out projects and missions designed to justify their existence and keep the budgetary gravy train flowing.</p> <p>For example, in the National Security Agency (NSA) there is a subsidiary entity called TAO (Targeted Access Operations) with a budget of several billions and more than 1,000 employees. The latter predominately consist of high-powered civilian and military hackers, computer geeks, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers and electrical engineers&mdash;-whose job it is to do exactly what Russia is being accused of.</p> <p>Namely, to hack and electronically infiltrate the communications and operations of nearly every government on the planet, and most especially those of IC designated enemies and adversaries such as Russia and Iran.Indeed, TAOs motto says it all:<span class="amazon-element-wrapper-custom align-right"> </span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>&ldquo;Your data is our data, your equipment is our equipment &shy; anytime, any place, by any legal means.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>In any given 24-hour day, the TAO hacks and deposits more disinformation and malware into its targeted foreign networks than all the low level Russian probes that were intercepted by NSA during the entire Presidential campaign.</p> <p><strong>In other words, Washington is the mother of all hackers and cyber-warfare operations, and what Russia and other nations do is only a small potatoes version of the same.</strong> Yet the overwhelming share of these digital cloak and dagger operation by all sides is a huge waste of national resources; and most especially it is of no value at all to the safety of the American people.</p> <p><strong>That because Russia, China and Iran&mdash;-the principal targets of the IC&rsquo;s massive surveillance and cyber warfare activities&mdash;are no threats whatsoever to America&rsquo;s security.</strong></p> <p>Iran has zero military capacity to attack the American homeland, and the claim that it is the leading sponsor of terrorism is pure bunkum. That hoary claim has been concocted by the Washington neocons and the Netanyahu political machine&mdash;both of which need demonized enemies in order to nurture the public fears on which their power is based.</p> <p>Likewise, Russia has one 40-year old smoke-belching aircraft carry and a fleet of rowboats&mdash;&ndash;neither of which are capable of launching an assault on the New Jersey shores. True, it does have about 1,00o nuclear warheads; but where is the evidence that cool-hand Vlad is contemplating national suicide by using them against the US or Europe?</p> <p>The purported Chinese threat is even more ludicrous. Notwithstanding the fertile imaginations of the Deep State fear-mongers who believe the South China Sea is actually an American Lake, the Red Suzerains of Beijing know fully well that without the continuous custom of Wal-Mart and Amazon warehouses, the Red Ponzi would collapse in a heartbeat. And that they would be hung by angry mobs from the CCTV (China Central Television) Tower shortly thereafter.</p> <p><strong>In fact, we don&rsquo;t need the $75 billion Surveillance State to deal with the Taliban, the jihadist warlords of Somalia or any of the warring Sunni vs. Shiite (Houthis) parties of Yemen, either. They do not threaten America&rsquo;s security in the slightest.</strong></p> <p>Nor did the government of Khadafy in Libya after he turned in his nukes. Likewise, the Assad regime has never, ever threatened to harm America&mdash;-despite the non-stop vilification from Washington.</p> <p>At most, Washington needs modest local and theatre level capacity to monitor the fading remnants of the Islamic State&mdash;-a temporary scourge in the mostly the impoverished Sunni villages of the Upper Euphrates, which would not even exist in the first place had it not been fostered and armed with the weapons the US Army left behind in the fiasco of Iraq.</p> <p><strong>So consider the contrafactual. In the absence of a vast Warfare State apparatus and associated Surveillance State wall of secrecy what would RussiaGate amount to?</strong></p> <p>The answer is straight-forward: It was nothing more than a politically motivated plot orchestrated by former CIA director Brennan to undermine the Presidential campaign of a rambunctious outsider. That is, the Donald was unschooled in the groupthink of the Imperial City and had enough common sense to realize that Putin is not our enemy, that NATO is obsolete, that regime change has been a fiasco and that foreign policy should be based on homeland security first, not the perpetuation of an American Empire abroad.<span class="amazon-element-wrapper-custom align-right last-count"> </span></p> <p>Those inchoate impulses were the Donald&rsquo;s original sin, and it was unverified and self-serving &ldquo;intelligence&rdquo; from the Latvian security service&mdash;-of all things&mdash;- that provided the pretext for Brennan to launch the Deep State&rsquo;s own version of jihad against Trump.</p> <p>What this dubious intelligence did was to finger Vlad Putin himself and that was crucial. It permitted Brennan to puff-up the evidence of run-of-the-mill cyber intrusions by the Russian security services&mdash;-or even unconnected Russian hackers and profiteers&mdash; into a sweeping but phony narrative about an attack on American democracy with Putin at the very center.</p> <p>As Scott Ritter&mdash;- the weapons expert who blew the whistle on the IC&rsquo;s trumped up claims about Saddam&rsquo;s WMDs&mdash;-succinctly explained in a recent article, Brennan proceeded to turn a dubious molehill into a vertiable mountain:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>According to reporting from the Washington Post, sometime during this period, CIA Director John Brennan gained access to a sensitive intelligence report from a foreign intelligence service. This service claimed to have technically penetrated the inner circle of Russian leadership to the extent that it could give voice to the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin as he articulated Russia&rsquo;s objectives regarding the 2016 U.S. Presidential election &mdash; to defeat Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump, her Republican opponent. This intelligence was briefed to President Barack Obama and a handful of his closest advisors in early August, with strict instructions that it not be further disseminated.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>The explosive nature of this intelligence report, both in terms of its sourcing and content, served to drive the investigation of Russian meddling in the American electoral process by the U.S. intelligence community. The problem, however, was that it wasn&rsquo;t the U.S. intelligence community, per se, undertaking this investigation, but rather (according to the Washington Post) a task force composed of &ldquo;several dozen analysts from the CIA, NSA and FBI,&rdquo; hand&shy;picked by the CIA director and set up at the CIA Headquarters who &ldquo;functioned as a sealed compartment, its work hidden from the rest of the intelligence community.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>The result was a closed&shy;circle of analysts who operated in complete isolation from the rest of the U.S. intelligence community. The premise of their work &mdash; that Vladimir Putin personally directed Russian meddling in the U.S. Presidential election to tip the balance in favor of Donald Trump &mdash; was never questioned in any meaningful fashion, despite its sourcing to a single intelligence report from a foreign service.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>President Obama ordered the U.S. intelligence community to undertake a comprehensive review of Russian electoral meddling. As a result, intelligence analysts began to reexamine old intelligence reports based upon the premise of Putin&rsquo;s direct involvement, allowing a deeply disturbing picture to be created of a comprehensive Russian campaign to undermine the American electoral process.</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>Here&rsquo;s the thing. Vlad didn&rsquo;t do it. </strong></u>The only interference in the electoral process that he has been associated with is with respect to what Imperial Washington did next door while he was basking in glory at the Sochi Olympics in February 2014.</p> <p>To wit, the violent coup on the streets of Kiev was organized by agents and organs of the US government; overthrew a constitutionally elected President who had decided to make an economic and security deal with Russia rather than Europe and NATO in keeping with Ukraine&rsquo;s economic propinquity to the former and its 700- years of history as an integral part of Greater Russia; and which imposed a new government, hand-picked by the Obama State Department, which was dominated by Ukrainian nationalists and neo-Nazis who were demonstrably hostile to the Russian speaking populations of Crimea and the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.</p> <p><strong>Stated differently, Imperial Washington is the world champion meddler in other peoples&rsquo; politics and elections. </strong></p> <p>Since the CIA sponsored coup against the Mosaddegh government in Iran in 1953, it has sponsored more than <strong><em>eighty incidents</em></strong> ranging from election bag money to military coups.</p> <p><strong>By contrast, the putative Russian attack on American democracy consists of three specific accusations&mdash;all of which are readily refutable.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>In the first place, Podesta&rsquo;s password was &ldquo;password&rdquo; and could have been hacked by any fat guy, or not, on any computer plugged into the worldwide web anywhere.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moreover, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who makes a living disclosing the truth, not propagating lies as does the IC, says it did not come from Russian state agents; and that it was in fact leaked, not hacked, by disgruntled Democrat insiders.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In any event, if it had actually been hacked by either Russian agents or the proverbial fat guy, there would be a digital imprint stored in NSA&rsquo;s vast server farms. The fact that it hasn&rsquo;t leaked amidst all the rest of the anti-Russian innuendo and intelligence hearsay proves beyond much doubt that no such record exists and no such Russian intrusion ever happened.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>As for the DNC emails, the smoking gun there still smolders in plain sight. The FBI apparently never even took custody of the DNC computer</strong>&mdash;&ndash;farming out the job to an outfit named Crowdstrike. Alas, the latter is a DNC contractor and wannabe silicon valley IPO run by some fanatical Russian ex-pats looking for fame and fortune. It&rsquo;s no wonder they didn&rsquo;t want the FBI second guessing their&nbsp;conclusions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Finally, there is the Latvian &ldquo;intelligence&rdquo; morsel about Putin&rsquo;s personal direction of the election meddling campaign.</strong> If the Donald had any common sense he would declassify said report forthwith.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But never mind. It surely doesn&rsquo;t exist anyway&mdash;-or it too would have leaked long ago.</p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>And that&rsquo;s all she wrote. The rest is pure spin leaked by Trump&rsquo;s enemies in the Deep State and canonized by its collaborators in the main stream media.</strong></u></p> <p><em><strong>Unfortunately, the Donald doesn&rsquo;t seem to recognize that he is actually President. If he did, he would have the Justice Department launch a prosecution against the faithless officials&mdash;-Brennan, Rice and Power&mdash;-who concocted the whole RussiaGate defamation in the first place.</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="345" height="256" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barack Obama Central Intelligence Agency Central Intelligence Agency China Crime prevention Cybercrime Cyberwarfare Dark Government Department of Justice Department of State Donald Trump eastern Ukraine FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Global surveillance Government House Iran Iraq Latvian security service Mass surveillance Mosaddegh government in Iran national security National security National Security Agency National Security Agency Neocons North Atlantic Treaty Organization Politics President Obama Security Senate Somalia South China Taliban U.S. Congress U.S. intelligence Ukraine United Nations United States Army United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court US government Vladimir Putin Sun, 23 Jul 2017 22:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600313 at Detroit Is Demolishing Homes With Federal Money Meant "To Save Them" <p>Contrary to popular perception, not all of the money approved as part of the federal government&rsquo;s emergency effort to save the American financial system in the fall of 2008 went to the big banks. Some of it &ndash; nearly $10 billion, all told &ndash; went to support the government&rsquo;s &ldquo;hardest hit&rdquo; program, meant to help forestall foreclosures in 18 states.</p> <p>And unsurprisingly, nearly a decade after the program was signed into law, government investigators are finding that much of this money was squandered by state governments. Money initially earmarked to help troubled homeowners struggling with underwater mortgages was instead spent on demolitions meant to boost prices of surrounding homes and help ward off crime in city neighborhoods. <strong>Except the money was often squandered by state governments, disproportionately robbing poor citizens in cities like Detroit of a program meant to save them from homelessness. </strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 321px;" /></a></p> <p>As the <a href="">Detroit Metro Times</a> reports, Detroit&#39;s decade-long wave of tax and mortgage foreclosures has wiped out large swaths of the city&#39;s neighborhoods as Wayne County continues to seize thousands of occupied homes a year. <strong>The city&#39;s neediest homeowners were supposed to receive federal assistance to save their homes as part of the Treasury Department&#39;s seven-year-old Hardest Hit Fund. But the State of Michigan squandered its money by adopting unnecessarily stringent requirements &mdash; according to a scathing audit issued in January by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP).</strong></p> <p>In 2010, Michigan originally received nearly $500 million to provide loans to eligible homeowners who were facing tax or mortgage foreclosure. But the program, called Step Forward Michigan, rejected funding for about 5,000 Detroiters, while assisting more than 2,000 homeowners who earned at least $70,000 a year. <strong>That number eventually swelled to $761 million, and of that amount, half was committed to demolitions.</strong></p> <p><strong>As a result, more than 80 percent of Detroiters making $30,000 or less a year were denied assistance to save their homes from tax or mortgage foreclosure. </strong>By contrast, the other 17 states with Hardest Hit Funds rejected 53 percent of homeowners making less than $30,000.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&quot;Michigan and Ohio are among the states that have the most TARP dollars set aside, but also have some of the highest percentage of people turned down for the Hardest Hit Fund,&quot; </strong>the audit reads.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>SIGTARP said Michigan&#39;s high rejection rate &quot;raises questions about whether these programs are as effective and efficient as they can be to reach those people who are the hardest hit.&quot; <strong>But perhaps even more galling than the state government&rsquo;s decision to turn away needy homeowners, is how Michigan instead became the first state in 2013 to demolish homes using money intended to save them.</strong></p> <p>As the paper explains, the idea was that demolitions would revitalize neighborhoods by increasing the property values of surrounding houses, attracting new homeowners, and reducing crime rates.</p> <p><strong>The plan was only marginally successful: A report commissioned by the Skillman Foundation and Rock Ventures found that each demolition in Detroit increased the value of adjacent homes by only 4.2 percent. </strong>Since 2013, Detroit has razed more than 10,000 blighted and abandoned houses using the federal funds. But in its criticism of Michigan&rsquo;s program, the Treasury Department investigators didn&rsquo;t focus on its effectiveness, or the unconscionable notion that Michigan decided to destroy homes instead of saving homeowners from being put out on the street.</p> <p>Instead, Michigan and several other states&rsquo; decision to use the money for demolitions has come under fire because the federal government created no rules or controls to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse, according to a 2016 SIGTARP investigation.</p> <p>Their negligence allowed the program to be riddled with waste and fraud, as contractors started raising their bids, and the bidding process for demolitions has become rife with bid-rigging and other tactics for fraud and abuse that were once famously associated with the American mafia. <strong>Soaring demolition costs in the state caught the attention of federal investigators, and now the Detroit Land Bank&#39;s handling of the demolitions has become the subject of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;The investigation found that demolition programs are &lsquo;vulnerable to the risk of unfair competitive practices such as bid rigging, contract steering, and other closed door contracting processes&rsquo; because the &quot;Treasury conducts no oversight&quot; and therefore cannot determine whether the cost of demolition is &lsquo;necessary and reasonable.&rsquo;</p> </blockquote> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>The SIGTARP report added that &quot;the vulnerability of the Hardest Hit Fund to fraud, waste, and abuse significantly increased with blight elimination, which Treasury could have mitigated, but did not.</strong>&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In <a href="">a report to Congress in April,</a> a federal inspector slammed the state of Michigan for &quot;skyrocketing demolition costs,&quot; <strong>indicating that the average price to raze a house had increased 90 percent, from $9,266 to $17,643 by the second quarter of 2016.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Detroit Land Bank&#39;s handling of the demolitions has become the subject of an ongoing federal grand jury investigation. The Land Bank declined to comment for this story.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Foreclosure experts question why Michigan, one of the states hardest hit by the Great Recession, would prioritize demolition over foreclosure prevention. <strong>Over the past decade, more than one in three homes in Detroit, a total of about 140,000, have been foreclosed because of unpaid taxes or mortgage defaults.</strong> Yet, requirements for the TARP relief program, a program that most homeowners probably aren&rsquo;t even aware of, have been incredibly strict.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&quot;Many of the houses now being demolished could have been saved if there wasn&#39;t a lack of preventing foreclosures,&quot; says Jerry Paffendorf, co-founder and CEO of Loveland Technologies, a Detroit-based property and mapping company. <strong>&quot;If you don&#39;t prevent foreclosures, you&#39;re going to have more houses to demolish.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Michigan&rsquo;s eligibility requirements were unusually strict, according to the report. For example, the state declines assistance to homeowners whose income was not cut by at least 20 percent, unlike other states that don&rsquo;t require a specific pay reduction to be eligible. <strong>Michigan also denies funding to homeowners whose unemployment benefits ran out more than a year ago.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&quot;The Michigan requirement does not reward a responsible worker whose paycheck was cut more than one year ago and has exhausted unemployment benefits, <strong>savings, family help, or low-paying part-time work to pay their mortgage,&quot; SIGTARP wrote in January 2017.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>And while the Metro Times doesn&rsquo;t bother asking why Michigan would favor contractors over poor urban homeowners, for anyone familiar with how statewide political campaigns are financed, the answer should be obvious. State contractors are often major donors to politicians. So, is it any surprise that politicians would favor their benefactors over a handful of voters?<br />&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="566" height="363" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Banking in the United States Business Congress Department of the Treasury Detroit Economy federal government Finance Foreclosure Foreclosures Hardest Hit Fund Hardest Hit Fund Michigan Money Mortgage Mortgage industry of the United States office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Ohio Recession SIGTARP Skillman Foundation state government TARP Treasury Department Troubled Asset Relief Program Unemployment Unemployment Benefits United States Department of the Treasury United States housing bubble Sun, 23 Jul 2017 22:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600308 at EU "Sounds Alarm" Over New US Sanctions On Russia; Germany Threatens Retaliation <p>Late on Friday, Congressional negotiators reached a deal to advance a bill that would punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 election and restrict the president’s power to remove sanctions on Moscow, according to the <a href="">WSJ</a>. The measure, if signed into law, will also give Congress veto powers to block any easing of Russian sanctions by the president. And while it remained unclear if President Donald Trump would sign the bill if it reaches his desk, which is now likely, the loudest complaint about the bill to date has emerged noe from the Oval Office, but from Brussels, after the EU once again urged (and warned, and threatened) US lawmakers to coordinate their anti-Russia actions with European partners, or else. </p> <p>As <a href="">Reuters reports</a>, the European Union "<strong>sounded an alarm on Saturday</strong>" about moves in the U.S. Congress to step up U.S. sanctions on Russia, urging Washington to keep coordinating with its G7 partners.&nbsp; In a statement by a spokeswoman after Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress reached a deal that could see new legislation pass, the European Commission warned of possibly <strong>"wide and indiscriminate" "unintended consequences", </strong>especially on the EU's efforts to diversify energy sources away from Russia, adding that "unilateral measures" by the US could undermine transatlantic unity.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"We highly value the unity that is prevailing among international partners in our approach towards Russia's action in Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions. This unity is the guarantee of the efficiency and credibility of our measures," the Commission said in its statement. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We understand that the Russia/Iran sanctions bill is driven primarily by domestic considerations," it went on, referring to a bill passed in the U.S. Senate last month and to which lawmakers said on Saturday they had unblocked further obstacles. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"As we have said repeatedly, it is important that any possible new measures are coordinated between international partners to maintain unity among partners on the sanctions that has been underpinning the efforts for full implementation of the Minsk Agreements," the Commission said, referring to an accord struck with Moscow to try to end the conflicts in Ukraine. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We are concerned the measures discussed in the U.S. Congress could have unintended consequences, not only when it comes to Transatlantic/G7 unity, but also on EU economic and energy security interests. This impact could be potentially wide and indiscriminate, including when it comes to energy sources diversification efforts. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Sanctions are at their most effective when they are coordinated. Currently our sanctions regimes are coordinated. As a result their impact on the ground is increased and through coordination we are able to avoid surprises, manage potential impact on our own economic operators and address collectively efforts to circumvent such measures. Unilateral measures would undermine this," the Commission said. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We therefore call on the U.S. Congress/authorities to engage with the partners, including the EU, to ensure coordination and to avoid any unintended consequences of the measures discussed."</p> </blockquote> <p>Furthermore, <a href="">Germany has already warned of </a><strong><a href="">"possible retaliation</a>" </strong>if the United States moves to sanction German firms involved with building a new Baltic pipeline for Russian gas. EU diplomats are concerned that a German-U.S. row over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline being built by Russia's state-owned Gazprom could complicate efforts in Brussels to forge an EU consensus on negotiating with Russia over the project.</p> <p>The proposed restrictions against Moscow are part of the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act, aimed not only at Tehran, but also North Korea. Passed by the Senate last month, the measures seek to impose new economic measures on sectors of Russia’s economy. Among the new anti-Russia proposals, the legislation aims to introduce individual sanctions for investing in Russian pipeline project. It also outlines steps to hamper construction of Russia’s Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and is the reason why America's European allies are on edge, worried they may be penalized for continuing a project in which they have already invested hundreds of millions.</p> <p>The House is set to vote on the proposed legislation Tuesday, Brussels has already registered its unease even before the bill hits Donald Trump’s desk, <strong>urging Washington to consider European interests, especially in the energy sector. </strong>Noting that “the Russia/Iran sanctions bill is driven primarily by domestic considerations,” the European Commission has asked its American partners to coordinate measures against Russia with Europe and the rest of the G7. &nbsp; </p> <p>One month ago, <a href="">we reported that Austria and Germany </a>accused the U.S. of having ulterior motives in seeking to enforce the energy blockade, which they said is trying to help American natural gas suppliers at the expense of their Russian rivals. They also warned the threat of fining European companies participating in the Nord Stream 2 project <strong>"introduces a completely new, very negative dimension into European-American relations."&nbsp; </strong>At the time, the foreign minister of Austria and Germany, Kern and Gabriel, urged the United States to back off from linking the situation in Ukraine to the question of who can sell gas to Europe.<strong> "Europe's energy supply is a matter for Europe, and not for the United States of America," </strong>Kern and Gabriel said. The reason why Europe is angry Some Eastern European countries, including Poland and Ukraine, fear the loss of transit revenue if Russian gas supplies don't pass through their territory anymore once the new pipeline is built.</p> <p>Fast forward to today, when Reuters quoted the European Commission saying that “as we have said repeatedly, it is important that any possible new measures are coordinated between international partners to maintain unity among partners on the sanctions." It added that “we are concerned the measures discussed in the US Congress could have unintended consequences, not only when it comes to Transatlantic/G7 unity, but also on EU economic and energy security interests."</p> <p>“This impact could be potentially wide and indiscriminate,” the Commission warned. <strong>“We therefore call on the US Congress/authorities to engage with the partners, including the EU, to ensure coordination and to avoid any unintended consequences of the measures discussed.</strong>”</p> <p>Addressing the proposed bill, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow takes an “extremely negative” view of the new developments. <strong>President Vladimir Putin earlier cautioned that any new sanctions against Russia will only make US-Russian relations worse.</strong></p> <p>But it wasn't just Russia and Europe eager to warn the US that any ongoing attempts to trap Trump into perpetuating the Deep State's Russian policies would backfire: ahead of Congress clearing all potential hurdles for the bill, <strong>a number of American multinationals – including ExxonMobil, General Electric and Boeing, as well as MasterCard and Visa – raised concerns that the punitive measures will ultimately harm their interests, rather than that of the Kremlin</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="2334" height="1386" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Boeing Congress Donald Trump European Commission European Union European Union Foreign relations of Iran Foreign relations of Russia G7 General Electric Germany Government of Russia International relations International sanctions during the Ukrainian crisis Iran Natural Gas Nord Stream North Korea Poland Politics Proposed Legislation Reuters Russia–European Union relations Russia–Ukraine relations Russia–United States relations Sanctions against Iran Senate U.S. Congress Ukraine Ukrainian crisis United States Senate Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin Sun, 23 Jul 2017 21:54:45 +0000 Tyler Durden 600293 at Losing My Religion - "Central Banking Increasingly Looks Like An Act Of Faith" <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Jeffrey Snider via Alhambra Investment Partners,</em></a></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Well, that clears that up. </strong>In case you missed it, back on June 27 Mario Draghi triggered the latest declared <a href="">BOND ROUT</a>!!! with what was characterized as a very upbeat economic assessment for Europe. And if things are moving forward there, they just have to be everywhere else.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">It came off as &ldquo;<strong>hawkish</strong>&rdquo; in the sense that if real acceleration is at hand, ECB normalization of first QE then interest rates can&rsquo;t be that far behind. The closer we are to the first part, closer is the second. Bonds sold off, and the collective mainstream imagination ran wild.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>In truth, Draghi wasn&rsquo;t &ldquo;hawkish&rdquo; at all, nor was he all that upbeat. </strong>The media, primarily, <a href="">saw what it wanted</a> and connected dots that it had created. As for the economy, he merely stated that it was progressing. Why that was particularly important was never stated, especially since Mario Draghi always says the economy is progressing. Out of his mouth, it never is otherwise.</span></p> <p><em><strong><span style="color: #000000;">More important than all that, however, the ECB chief was left to try to describe the current state of our central money problem, without recognizing it yet as just that. The economy may or may not be meaningfully improved, but inflation, the economy&rsquo;s chief monetary indicator along with bond rates, will not behave. For Draghi&rsquo;s speech, it was characterized as a contradiction.</span></strong></em></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Following the latest policy meeting, the mainstream believes Draghi is now &ldquo;dovish.&rdquo; Gone is the certainty with which the world seemed to be moving toward a better place, replaced with caution and apprehension. Many ascribe this apparent 180 degree shift as a policymaker not wanting to upset markets. If bonds sold off in a rout after his last speech, he must have noticed and reacted with a more soothing posture this time.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">None of that is actually going on, of course. Draghi was no more &ldquo;hawkish&rdquo; in late June as he isn&rsquo;t now &ldquo;dovish&rdquo; in mid-July. At both times he was consistently confused. Today, he came as close as might be ever expected to stating that as a fact outright:</span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><span style="color: #000000;">There really isn&rsquo;t any convincing sign of a pickup in inflation.</span></p> </blockquote> <p><strong><span style="color: #000000;">As some reports noted, he stated that same thing several times with slightly different wording. The problem continues to be an absence of all the things required to make money become inflation &ndash; starting with wage growth. Without that, can the economy really be improving?</span></strong></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">The answer is no, and even an economist like Mario Draghi knows it. In that respect, the European economy is <a href="">as stuck</a> as the US economy. When friendly outlets like the <em>New York Times</em> notice this lacking vital component, it cannot be as something of <a href="">a trivial difference</a>:</span></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><u><strong><span style="color: #000000;">Central banking increasingly looks like an act of faith.</span></strong></u></p> <p> </p><p><strong><span style="color: #000000;">Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, and his Bank of Japan counterpart, Haruhiko Kuroda, have spent trillions of euros and yen without generating as much inflation as they want. Yet they have little choice but to insist their policies will eventually work.</span></strong></p> <p> </p><p><span style="color: #000000;">The eurozone is finally experiencing a robust recovery and the only things lacking are a pickup in wages and inflation, Mr. Draghi said on Thursday.</span></p> </blockquote> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><em><strong>Is it really a &ldquo;robust recovery&rdquo; without a pickup in wages and household income? </strong></em>Mr. Kuroda can answer that question best with Japan&rsquo;s experience stuck for a quarter century in, of all things, Japanification. The essence of that permanent stagnation is the lack of income and wage growth, the lagging behind of households that policymakers can&rsquo;t for some reason see as the most important economic element.</span></p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-46257" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 712px;" /></p> <p><strong><span style="color: #000000;">Work equals recovery, and with more work comes more wages. Anything else is just the shifting of numbers, the economy flying erratically like a rocket without its tail fins.</span></strong></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><u>Europe&rsquo;s economy is booming, except it&rsquo;s not. Mario Draghi is hawkish, except he&rsquo;s not.</u> If there is one thing policymakers, media, and regular folks in all these places are starting to really understand, it&rsquo;s that something important continues to be missing. <strong><em>They may not yet know what it is, so the focus on inflation (and the bond market) is good in that &ldquo;we&rdquo; are finally starting to ask the right questions.</em></strong></span></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="589" height="350" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bank of Japan Bank of Japan Bond Business Draghi Economy Eurogroup European Central Bank European Central Bank European Central Bank European Union Eurozone Eurozone Group of Thirty Inflation Japan Japanification Macroeconomics Mario Draghi Monetary policy New York Times None President of the European Central Bank recovery Yen Sun, 23 Jul 2017 21:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600311 at