en Global Markets Spooked By North Korea H-Bomb Threat; Focus Turns To Brexit Speech <p>S&amp;P futures retreated along with European and Asian shares with tech, and Apple supplier shares leading the drop while safe havens such as gold and the yen rose, as the war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un escalated and North Korea threatened to <a href="">launch a hydrogen bomb</a>, leading to a prompt return of geopolitical concerns. Trade focus now turns to a planned speech by Theresa May on Brexit (<a href="">full preview here</a>).</p> <p>As <a href="">reported last night</a>, the key overnight event was the latest threat by North Korea that its counter-measure may mean testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific, according to reports in Yonhap citing North Korea's Foreign Minister. North Korea's leader Kim said North Korea will consider "corresponding, highest level of hard-line measure in history" against US, while he also stated that President Trump's UN speech was rude nonsense and demonstrated insanity and inhumanity which confirmed North Korea's nuclear and missile advances are on right path and will continue to the end. There was more on the geopolitical front with the Iranian President<br /> informing armed forces that the nation will bolster its missile<br /> capabilities, according to local TV. </p> <p>As a result, treasury yields pulled back and the dollar slid the most in two weeks following North Korea's threat it could test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean. Europe's Stoxx 600 Index edged lower as a rout in base metals deepened, weighing on mining shares. WTI crude halted its rally above $50 a barrel as OPEC members gathered in Vienna.</p> <p>US stock futures pulled back 0.1% though markets were showing growing signs of fatigue over the belligerent U.S.-North Korea rhetoric. “North Korea poses such a binary risk that it’s very hard to price, and at the moment investors just have to look through it,” said Mike Bell, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management. Despite the latest jitters, MSCI’s world equity index remained on track for another weekly gain, holding near its latest record high hit on Wednesday as investors’ enthusiasm for stocks showed few signs of waning.</p> <p>The dollar weakened versus the yen and the euro as escalating tensions between North Korea and the U.S. spurred demand for haven assets. The U.S. currency paring its gains made versus the euro since the Federal Reserve’s hawkish rhetoric on Sept. 20. The euro approached $1.20, boosted by data which showed Europe’s economy was on track for the best quarterly growth since 2015, while a gauge of private-sector output in Germany hit the highest level in more than six years. Three-month implied volatility in euro- dollar reached its highest since April. Comments by policy makers and politicians may be the main drivers for currency markets on Friday.</p> <p>Germany’s benchmark index advanced and the euro headed back toward $1.20 after manufacturing and services surveys data indicated the Eurozone is on track for its best quarterly growth since 2015, buoying sentiment ahead of German elections on Sunday. Manufacturing PMIs from Germany and France and a composite euro-zone private-sector activity index provided support for European policy makers as they consider scaling back stimulus. Both France and Germany reported stronger Flash PMIs, leading to a better than expected composite Eurozone PMI print of 56.7, vs Exp. 55.5 and 55.7 last (Mfg 58.2 vs exp. 57.1, Services 55.6, vs exp. 54.7).</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="281" /></a></p> <p>The PMI summary showed continuing strong growth on virtually all components:<br /><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="899" /></a></p> <p>“This encouraging economic backdrop is strengthening the EU governments’ optimism about the future, helping to reinforce their firm stance vis a vis the UK in the Brexit negotiations,” said Societe Generale cross-asset strategists.</p> <p>European equity markets pushed higher after the stronger PMIs, while L’Oreal rose 4.0% after the death of the founding family’s matriarch leads to M&amp;A speculation, CAC 40 outperforms. Mining sector lags for a second day after base metals sell off in Asian trade again. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was up 0.1 percent as of publication. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index declined less than 0.05 percent. Germany’s DAX Index increased 0.1 percent, hitting the highest in 10 weeks with its fifth consecutive advance.&nbsp; The UST/bund spread widens 3bps as bunds react to positive data. </p> <p>Brexit bellwether sterling hovered at a two-month high against the euro having firmed against both euro and dollar this week as traders anticipated May would strike a softer tone on negotiations for Britain’s exit from the EU. <strong>Options markets were pricing a large GBP/USD reaction to the speech, as investors bought protection against sharp fluctuations.</strong></p> <p>“Sterling’s rally in the past couple of weeks is partly in reaction to the Bank of England but also reflects an assumption that it’s more likely we do get a transitional deal,” said Mike Bell, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management. “If that’s what May is laying out today that would be supportive, but I think you have seen a lot of that move priced in already,” he added.</p> <p>Asia equity markets traded mostly negative following US losses where the DJIA snapped a 9-day win streak, with the MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropping 0.2%, with sentiment dampened after North Korean verbal provocation in which its Foreign Minister suggested its counter-measures could mean testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific. This followed defiant comments from North Korean leader Kim who labelled Trump a dotard and pressured Nikkei 225 (-0.3%) as well as most indices in the region, although ASX 200 (+0.3%) was kept afloat by strength in its largest weighted financials sector. <strong>Hang Seng (-0.9%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.5%)&nbsp; conformed to the subdued tone in the region with sentiment reeling from a downgrade to China and Hong Kong’s sovereign ratings by S&amp;P. </strong> Taiwan’s Taiex index fell 1.2 percent, the biggest slide in Asia. <strong>Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. is heading for its biggest weekly loss since October 2014, with some analysts saying early sales of Apple’s new iPhone 8 are slower than for previous models. </strong>Finally, 10yr JGBs and T-notes gained on the safe-haven flows, although upside was capped following an enhanced liquidity auction for longer dated Japanese bonds which showed a weaker b/c than prior.</p> <p>"Although we continue to believe that global stocks can grind higher, underpinned by robust economic growth and increasing earnings, rising valuations are reducing the possibility of significant further upside," UBS global chief investment officer Mark Hafele says in note. UBS reduced overweight to global equities, maintaining a moderate risk-on stance.</p> <p>In currencies, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index decreased 0.4 percent, the biggest dip in more than two weeks.&nbsp; The euro increased 0.4 percent to $1.1994, the strongest in two weeks.&nbsp; The British pound declined 0.2 percent to $1.3557.&nbsp; The Japanese yen increased 0.5 percent to 111.93 per dollar, the first advance in more than a week.</p> <p>In rates, German bond yields hardly budged ahead of elections on Sunday which market participants said would yield no big surprises with Chancellor Merkel likely to win a fourth term. The 10-year Treasury yield declined about 2 basis points to 2.255 percent as risk aversion favored government bonds. It had risen for nine consecutive sessions prior, brushing a six-week high of 2.289 percent. Britain’s 10-year yield declined less than one basis point to 1.375 percent.</p> <p>Elsewhere, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is set to give a key speech on her Brexit strategy on Friday in Florence. And Germany goes to the polls on Sunday, with Chancellor Angela Merkel expected to secure a fourth term, although she may not win an outright majority leading to coalition talks to form a new government. </p> <p><strong>Bulletin Headline Summary from RanSquawk</strong></p> <ul> <li>Asian equities faced selling pressure overnight amid threats of further hydrogen bomb tests from North Korea. Europe supported amid upbeat data</li> <li>The risk-off sentiment spurred flows into JPY. Focus for GBP remains on today’s speech by UK PM May</li> <li>Looking ahead, highlights include Canadian retail sales &amp; CPI, UK PM May and a slew of central bank speak</li> </ul> <p><strong>Market Snapshot</strong></p> <ul> <li>Dow futures fall 0.1%</li> <li>S&amp;P 500 futures down 0.2%</li> <li>Nasdaq 100 futures down 0.3%</li> <li>S&amp;P 500 down 0.3% to 2,500.60 on Thursday</li> <li>VIX up 2.2% to 9.88%</li> <li>STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 382.20</li> <li>MSCI Asia down 0.2% to 162.97</li> <li>MSCI Asia ex Japan down 0.4% to 538.52</li> <li>Nikkei down 0.3% to 20,296.45</li> <li>Topix down 0.3% to 1,664.61</li> <li>Hang Seng Index down 0.8% to 27,880.53</li> <li>Shanghai Composite down 0.2% to 3,352.53</li> <li>Sensex down 1.1% to 32,005.00</li> <li>Australia S&amp;P/ASX 200 up 0.5% to 5,682.14</li> <li>Kospi down 0.7% to 2,388.71</li> <li>German 10Y yield rose 0.7 bps to 0.462%</li> <li>Euro up 0.4% to $1.1994</li> <li>Italian 10Y yield rose 3.7 bps to 1.816%</li> <li>Spanish 10Y yield fell 0.3 bps to 1.619%</li> <li>WTI Futures little-changed at $50.6/bbl; </li> <li>Brent crude down 0.1% to $56.02</li> <li>Gold spot up 0.4% to $1,296.51</li> <li>U.S. Dollar Index down 0.4% to 91.91</li> </ul> <p><strong>Top Overnight News</strong></p> <ul> <li>Kim says he’ll tame ‘mentally deranged’ Trump ‘with fire’: KCNA</li> <li>North Korea Says Actions May Include Pacific H-Bomb Test</li> <li>CDU/CSU unchanged at 36%, SPD 21.5% in ZDF Politbarometer poll ahead of German election Sunday</li> <li>New Zealand election still too close to call, Newshub poll shows</li> <li>In the space of just seven weeks, Jacinda Ardern has led her opposition Labour Party out of the wilderness and given it the chance of a stunning upset in Saturday’s New Zealand election; what had looked like a cakewalk for the ruling National Party has become a riveting contest of ideas and left the ballot too close to call</li> <li>Ministers from OPEC nations and its allies broadly signaled that their meeting on Friday wouldn’t take concrete steps to address concerns that their agreement may end too early</li> <li>In her speech, U.K. PM May will seek a transition period of up to two years after Brexit, and will also pledge to strengthen legal protections for the 3 million EU citizens living in the U.K., according to media reports</li> <li>ECB President Draghi doesn’t make any reference to euro in his speech earlier Friday; says strengthening recovery will reduce youth joblessness</li> <li>China’s Credit Rating Cut as S&amp;P Cites Risk From Debt Growth</li> <li>Europe’s Economy on Track for Best Quarterly Growth Since 2015</li> <li>L’Oreal Advances on Prospect of Sale of Nestle’s Holding</li> <li>OPEC, Allies Wait and See If Oil Cuts Need to Be Extended</li> <li>Trump’s Travel Ban Decision Could Set Off New Wave of Turmoil</li> </ul> <p><strong>Asia equity markets traded mostly negative </strong>following US losses where the DJIA snapped a 9-day win streak, and with sentiment dampened after North Korean verbal provocation in which its Foreign Minister suggested its counter-measures could mean testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific. This followed defiant comments from North Korean leader Kim who labelled Trump a dotard and pressured Nikkei 225 (-0.3%) as well as most indices in the region, although ASX 200 (+0.3%) was kept afloat by strength in its largest weighted financials sector. Hang Seng (-0.9%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.5%)&nbsp; conformed to the subdued tone in the region with sentiment reeling from a downgrade to China and Hong Kong’s sovereign ratings by S&amp;P. Finally, 10yr JGBs and T-notes gained on the safe-haven flows, although upside was capped following an enhanced liquidity auction for longer dated Japanese bonds which showed a weaker b/c than prior. <strong>S&amp;P downgraded Hong Kong’s sovereign rating to AA+; outlook stable from AAA; outlook negative. </strong>PBoC injected CNY 100bln via 7-day reverse repos and CNY 20bln via 28-day reverse repos, for a net weekly injection of CNY 450bln vs. last week's CNY 260bln net injection. </p> <p><em>Top Asian News</em></p> <ul> <li>S&amp;P Strips Hong Kong of AAA Rating After China Downgrade</li> <li>S&amp;P’s First China Downgrade Since ’99 Is Good News for Bulls</li> <li>ZhongAn Is Said to Raise $1.5 Billion in IPO Priced at Top End</li> <li>Day Traders Reap Profits in Japan When North Korea Tensions Jump</li> <li>Iron Ore Routed in Woeful Week as Questions Stack Up on China</li> </ul> <p><strong>European equities shrugged off some of the downbeat sentiment seen during Asia-Pac trade </strong>which stemmed from fresh North Korean provocations. More specifically, the NK Foreign Minister suggested its counter-measures could mean testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific. Nonetheless, European bourses have chosen to look through these threats and have taken a more in-looking view amid this morning’s slew of PMI readings which showed beats for Germany, France and the Eurozone as a whole. In terms of sector specifics, material names underperform while consumer staples have lead markets higher, with the notable stock specific mover being L’Oreal (OR FP) amid speculation over Nestle’s stake in the Co. in the wake of heiress Battencourt’s death. Bund futures have seen a bit of a retracement towards 161.00 as risk-off sentiment eased and upbeat Eurozone PMI’s, with the region having already digested this week’s sovereign supply. Elsewhere, peripheral yields have seen some modest tightening with little activity seen in core paper.</p> <ul> <li><em>Top European News</em></li> <li>May to Reboot Brexit Plan by Requesting Transition Period</li> <li>Steer Clear of Spanish Debt on Catalan Concern, Allianz GI Says</li> <li>Russia Sees ‘Full-Scale Cyberwar’ as Bomb-Threat Wave Continues</li> <li>French Economic Good News Continues as Macron Pushes Reforms</li> <li>Vestas Shares Fall; HSBC Sees Pressure at Onshore Wind Auctions</li> <li>Macron’s Man in Senate Warns French President Can’t Win This One</li> </ul> <p><strong>In FX markets, </strong>in-fitting with the sentiment seen across the continent, the EUR has been given a helping hand with the EUR/USD pair eyeing 1.2000 to the upside once again which also comes amid a broader USD retracement. Elsewhere, GBP/USD has seen a pullback from yesterday’s gains as markets now await further clarity on the UK’s Brexit path from PM May today via her speech from Florence later today. NZD will most likely also be one to watch heading into the weekend ahead of the election on Saturday; albeit polls have recently suggested that the incumbent National Party should secure victory. North Korean rhetoric spurred some safe-haven flows, as USD/JPY took some extra impetus from some week end unwinds. The touted resistance around the 112.70 area has been evident of profit taking, as many investors seem concerned to hold weekend positions following further threats of hydrogen bomb tests from the rebel state.</p> <p><strong>In commodities, </strong>Chinese metal prices were lower with Dalian Iron Ore prices slipping around 4%, plumbing multi week lows, given expectations of slower winter demand and steel output curbs, while S&amp;P downgrading China’s credit rating also added to the recent headwinds. Elsewhere, gold prices rose over 0.5% on flight-to-quality flow after reports that North Korea is willing to conduct a H-Bomb test in the Pacific. Energy markets will be focusing on the fallout from today’s OPEC/non-OPEC meeting, with two delegates suggesting that today’s sit down will be “brief.” Furthermore, the Russian energy minister has briefed media saying that discussions will focus on export monitoring and US shale production. OPEC and non-OPEC producers are looking at all parameters for export monitoring, according to the Venezuelan oil minister. Libya's national oil production is at about 900,000 BPD, according to a Libyan oil source. </p> <p><strong>Looking at the day ahead, </strong>the Markit PMIs on services, manufacturing and the Composite will be available for the US, Eurozone, Germany and France. Onto other events, there will be three Fed speakers today, including John Williams, Esther George and Robert Kaplan. Over in Europe, the ECB’s Vice President Constancio will also speak and the EU foreign ministers will also hold an informal meeting. In Italy, UK’s PM Theresa May will give her big speech&nbsp; updating her government’s position on Brexit.</p> <p><strong>US Event Calendar:</strong></p> <ul> <li>9:45am: Markit US Manufacturing PMI, est. 53, prior 52.8; Services PMI, est. 55.7, prior 56; Composite PMI, prior 55.3</li> <li>6am: Fed’s Williams Speaks to Media at Swiss National Bank Event</li> <li>9:30am: Fed’s George Speaks at Dallas/Kansas City Fed Oil Conference</li> <li>1:30pm: Fed’s Kaplan Speaks at Dallas/Kansas City Fed Oil Conference</li> </ul> <p><strong>DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap</strong></p> <p>It doesn’t feel like this week has reached its peak yet. <strong>This week has been, and still is, all about (arguably) the three most powerful women in the world. Yellen was certainly on the hawkish side on Wednesday and now we have a big Mrs May speech on Brexit today ahead of Mrs Merkel’s re-election vote on Sunday. </strong>Before we preview both these events we’ll first highlight that there has been further verbal escalations in the North Korean situation. Yesterday President Trump ordered new sanctions on individuals, companies and banks doing business with North Korea. He said ‘foreign banks will face a clear choice, do business with the US or facilitate trade with…NK”. He added that China has also asked its banks to stop dealing with the regime. In response, <strong>Kim Jong Un has threatened the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” with his foreign minister suggesting that this could include testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean. </strong>Asian markets all trading lower on the back of these comments with the Nikkei (-0.35%), Kospi (-0.82%) and Hang Seng (-0.84%) down as we type. Note that we have the flash services PMIs today in Europe and the US which will give us the latest live barometer of economic activity.</p> <p>Back to Brexit. There has <strong>been lots of headlines in the UK speculating about Mrs May’s Florence speech today which starts at 2.15pm BST. However none of Thursday’s headlines told us much that hadn’t been speculated beforehand</strong>. Perhaps the speech is still being finalised although there was a 2 and a half hour cabinet meeting yesterday where she briefed her team about the contents. Hopes of Mrs May announcing a figure the UK would be prepared to pay as a divorce settlement or interim annual payment seems a bit optimistic to us as it would end up being the focal point of the speech and all that the press would care about. We’re not sure she’ll want it remembered for that. Having said that the BBC reported in the afternoon that <strong>Mrs May is willing to pay 20bn euros during a transition period of two years</strong>. However the headline is slightly misleading as the story says the package might be worth up to 20bn without necessarily having that figure explicitly mentioned in the speech. So lots to look forward to on this. </p> <p>Politics should remain the focus for markets heading into this weekend with Germany’s federal election due on Sunday. Our economists in Germany published a report earlier this week laying out their expectations. In summary they note that according to the ARD Deutschland-tre nd, only a renewed Grand Coalition or a coalition between Merkel’s CDU/CSU, the liberals (FDP) and the Greens (“Jamaica”) would be arithmetically possible. However they highlight that given the tight polls of late and accounting for the usual typical margins of error, other alternative coalitions for the CDU/CSU are still possible. In fact they note that in some polls up to half of the voters still remain undecided. For a CDU/ CSU and FDP/Greens coalition, they highlight that there are question marks about the Greens agreeing to join, as well as the FDP willing to give up its renewed “trade mark” for the sake of government jobs. A Grand Coalition on the other hand they highlight as being a “coalition of last resort” should all else fail. It might also require massive concessions to the SPD. There may be a lot of negotiations ahead. </p> <p>Before we move back to markets a word of note that the next couple of weeks are likely to see lots of noise on tax reform (and possibly on healthcare again). I listened to DB’s Frank Kelly speak yesterday on this topic and he thinks it’s going to be a very hard road ahead to get a workable agreement through. Next week, the so called “group of six” will come up with a tax plan but it’s likely to be vague and designed to whip Congress into action rather than put firm proposals through. This may initially disappoint markets although I’m not sure there is much reform priced into markets at the moment. The hope would be that something more substantial will be forthcoming the following week. So plenty of headlines likely.</p> <p>Back onto yesterday’s markets performance. US bourses all softened with the S&amp;P (-0.30%) down for the first time in five days, while the Dow (-0.24%) and Nasdaq (-0.52%) also fell slightly. Within the S&amp;P, most sectors were in the red, with only the Industrials and Financials sector (+0.20%) up slightly. Conversely, European markets were marginally higher, with the Stoxx 600 and DAX both up c0.2%, supported by banks on the prospect of higher yields, but the FTSE 100 dipped 0.11%. Notably, low volatility has returned with the VIX closing a bit lower at 9.67 while the VSTOXX touched the lowest level on record intraday, but ended the day at 11.19 (-0.60 from previous day).</p> <p>Over in government bonds, core yields were little changed while peripherals underperformed. For 10y yields, UST, Bunds and French OATs all rose c1bp while Gilts were 2.5bp higher. Elsewhere, peripherals underperformed, with Italy, Spain and Portugal 10y yields all c4bp higher. At the two year part of the curve, USTs was flat while Bunds and Gilts rose c0.8bp.</p> <p>Turning to currencies, the US dollar index weakened 0.27%, enabling the Euro and Sterling to gain 0.41% and 0.63% respectively. The AUD dropped 1.27%, partly as its central bank governor said “a rise in global rates has no automatic implications for Australia”. In commodities, WTI oil was little changed (-0.28%) but Iron Ore fell 5.11% on growing concerns that Chinese iron ore stockpiles are rising just as winter steel production cuts are about to reduce demand. Elsewhere, precious metals traded slightly lower (Gold -0.76%; Silver -1.28%) yesterday, while industrial metals are trending lower this morning, with Copper (-1.43%), Zinc (-2.42%) and Aluminium (-2.83%) all down modestly.</p> <p>Away from markets, S&amp;P has downgraded China’s sovereign credit rating for the first time since 1999, now one notch lower, from AA-/Negative to A+/Stable, citing that a prolonged period of strong credit growth has increased China’s economic and financial risks. The change should not be a big surprise as it follows that of Moody’s downgrade back in May and now both agencies effectively have the same rating on China. The markets’ reaction seemed somewhat muted with China’s sovereign 5y USD CDS widening by 0.5bp to 58.5bp.</p> <p>Turning to Europe, Draghi’s keynote address as Chair of the European Systemic Risk board contained little material developments, although he noted that “the use of monetary policy is not the right instrument to address financial imbalances” when financial and business cycles diverge. Over at Italy yesterday, the EU’s Chief negotiator Barnier seemed a bit more optimistic ahead of PM May’s big speech. He noted “I’m convinced a rapid agreement on the conditions of the UK’s orderly withdrawal and a transition period is possible…for that to happen, we would like the UK to put on the table, as soon as next week, proposals to overcome the barriers”. Finally, circling back to Spain, we watch and wait to see if Catalonia’s independence referendum vote scheduled for 1 October will go ahead or not, in part as BBC has reported Spain’s constitutional court has imposed daily fines of €12k on top Catalan officials with police raids on key Catalan government buildings with some officials arrested.</p> <p>Before we take a look at today’s calendar, we wrap up with other data releases from yesterday. In the US, the macro data was solid and above market expectations. The Philly Fed manufacturing index rose 4.9pts to 23.8 in September (vs. 17.1 expected ). Within the details, the readings were also strong with the shipments index up 8.4pts to 37.8 and the new orders index up 9.1pts to 29.5. The Conference board leading index also slightly beat, up 0.4% mom (vs. 0.3% expected). Elsewhere, the initial jobless claims print was much stronger than expected at 259k (vs. 302k expected), suggesting limited impact from the storms for now, while continuing claims were broadly in line at 1,980k (vs. 1,975k expected). The slight disappointment was the FHFA house price index which rose 0.2% mom (vs. 0.4% expected).</p> <p>Moving along, the Eurozone’s confidence index edged up 0.3pts to -1.2 (vs. -1.5 expected) to a fresh 16-year high. Over in the UK, the August credit data for the private and public sector were both modestly lower than expected, with PSNB ex banking net borrowing at £5.7bln (vs. £7.1bln expected) and public sector net borrowing at £5.1bln (vs. £6.4bln expected).</p> <p>Looking at the day ahead, In France, the final reading of 2Q GDP (0.5% qoq, 1.7% yoy expected) and wages will be out. Over in Canada, there is August inflation and retail sales. Elsewhere, the Markit PMIs on services, manufacturing and the Composite will be available for the US, Eurozone, Germany and France. Onto other events, there will be three Fed speakers today, including John Williams, Esther George and Robert Kaplan. Over in Europe, the ECB’s Vice President Constancio will also speak and the EU foreign ministers will also hold an informal meeting. In Italy, UK’s PM Theresa May will give her big speech&nbsp; updating her government’s position on Brexit.</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="800" height="450" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Apple ASX 200 B+ Bank of England Bank of England Bloomberg Dollar Spot Bond Brexit British Pound Business CAC 40 Catalan government CDS China Conference Board Congress Continuing Claims Copper CPI Crude Currency DAX 30 DJIA Donald Trump Dow 30 Economy Economy of the European Union Equity Markets Euro European Central Bank European Union European Union Eurozone Eurozone Fail federal government flash France FTSE 100 Futures contract Germany Gilts Grand Coalition Hang Seng 40 headlines Hong Kong Initial Jobless Claims Italy Japan Jim Reid John Williams Kansas City Fed KIM Labour Party Markit Monetary Policy MSCI Asia Pacific NASDAQ Nasdaq 100 NASDAQ 100 National Party New Zealand Nikkei Nikkei 225 None North Korea North Korea OPEC OPEC Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries Philly Fed Portugal Precious Metals ratings recovery S&P S&P 500 S&P/ASX 200 STOXX Stoxx 600 Swiss National Bank Swiss National Bank Taiex United Nations US Dollar Index Volatility Withdrawal from the European Union Yen Fri, 22 Sep 2017 11:01:35 +0000 Tyler Durden 603961 at London Unexpectedly Revokes Uber's Operating License; Company Vows Court Challenge <p>In a stunning blow to the world&#39;s most valuable private company (purportedly worth some $70 billion), London&#39;s taxi and livery car regulator has said it won&#39;t renew Uber&#39;s operating license once it expires at the end of the month. The regulator said Uber &quot;is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license.&quot;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&quot;TfL considers that Uber&#39;s approach and conduct demonstrates a lack of corporate responsibilit in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications. These include:</p> <ul> <li>It&#39;s approach to reporting seriouis criminal offences.</li> <li>It&#39;s approach to how medical certificates are obtained.</li> <li>It&#39;s approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained.</li> <li><strong>It&#39;s approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London, software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gianing full access to the app and&nbsp; prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.&quot;</strong></li> </ul> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">TfL has today informed Uber that it will not be issued with a private hire operator licence. <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Transport for London (@TfL) <a href="">September 22, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Uber now has 21 days to appeal the decision.<strong>&nbsp; &quot;We intend to immediately challenge this in the courts,&quot; said Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London, in a <a href="">statement </a>to Bloomberg. If the decision holds and Uber is forced to shutter its London operations, the estimated 40,000 Uber drivers working in London will need to seek employment elsewhere. </strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;By wanting to ban our app from the capital Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice,&quot; said Elvidge. &quot;If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>In a statement to the <a href=";segmentId=3d08be62-315f-7330-5bbd-af33dc531acb">Financial Times</a>, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: London mayor Sadiq Khan said: <em>&quot;All companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect &ndash; particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security. I fully support TfL&#39;s decision.&quot; </em></p> <p>The decision is a shot across the bow for Uber,&nbsp; a ride-hailing company notorious for its many scandals. In particular, the London regulator cited the company&#39;s use of a clandestine software called Greyball as one reason for revoking its operating license. In March, <a href="">the New York Times revealed </a>that Uber has for years engaged in a program to deceive authorities in cities where its app was being resisted or banned by law enforcement. Uber reportedly used a tool, called Greyball, which uses data collected from Uber&rsquo;s app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials. <strong>The car-hailing company used these to evade authorities in cities such as Paris, Boston and Las Vegas, and in countries including Australia, China, South Korea and Italy. The blow from the regulator comes at a time when the company is trying to burnish its image. It recently hired Expedia&rsquo;s Dara Khosrowshahi as its new chief executive in August after co-founder Travis Kalanick was forced to step aside after a series of scandals. Uber was also faulted for not properly reporting crimes and obtaining medical certifiications.</strong></p> <p>As <a href="">Bloomberg </a>points out, the decision is a victory for the city&rsquo;s traditional black cab industry, which has been hurt by the proliferation of Uber drivers and has pushed for tighter regulation of the San Francisco-based ride-hailing service. Taxi drivers must go through extensive testing before receiving a license, while Uber drivers have fewer requirements.</p> <p>The decision adds to the problems facing Khosrowshahi, who is already dealing with a host of lawsuits and<a href=""> US criminal probe</a> into its Asia operations after several Uber executives bribed foreign officials to help obtain access to lucrative markets. Oh, it&#39;s also facing a federal investigation for allegedly spying on Lyft drivers.</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="290" height="181" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Australia Barring Service Business Business Car sharing China Commuting Dara Khosrowshahi Disclosure and Barring Service E-hailing Greyball Hospitality Italy Las Vegas Location-based software London Lyft New York Times Real-time ridesharing Sadiq Khan Sustainable transport Taxicab Transport Transport for London Transportation network companies Travis Kalanick Twitter Twitter Uber Uber protests and legal actions Uberisation Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:14:42 +0000 Tyler Durden 603959 at Bill Blain: How To Catch Rabies In The Junk Bond Market <p><em>From Bill Blain of <a href="">Mint Partners</a></em><a href=""></a></p> <p><strong>Blain's Morning Porridge - How to catch rabies in the Junk Bond Market</strong></p> <p>I’m sure everyone has been following the Toy R Us meltdown in the bond market. Alongside chapter 11 bankruptcy, its bonds have crashed from 96 to 18% through the month. Have we seen this before? Of course you have. Happens all the time. But, Blain’s Market Mantra No 3 reminds us: “<strong>Markets have no Memory. Buyers have even less.” </strong></p> <p>There are a number of things that worry me.</p> <p><strong>First is the market doesn’t seem to think Toy R Us is symptomatic of wider problems across the whole hi-yield and LBO sector</strong>. According to some I’ve spoken to, Toys R Us is one of few and even the “only” company caught in a debt trap – oh no it isn’t! Profit of about $500mm per annum covering debt service costs of, say, about $500 per annum. FFS! As the FT comments: the capital structure is “extremely complicated” leading to doubts on what is and isn’t senior or subordinated to what. It’s what we call messy. </p> <p><strong>Second, high yield spreads continue to tighten against bonds. </strong>Why? The risks are very very different across the credit spectrum, yet simplistic credit analysis treats them the same. Mistake to chase yield without understanding the risks. And go read all the stuff from 2007 about LBOs and how diversified risk is not reduced risk. </p> <p>Third, there was a great article in the FT on Wednesday about Stada – the German drugmaker. It’s subject to an aggressive LBO and issuing substantial amounts of debt (bonds and loans) to fund it, allowing the PE buyers to strip out the cash. However, “buried deep in the 766 page offering memo”, says the FT, is a carve out of the obscure “restricted payments” clause allowing the private equity buyers to raise even more guaranteed debt to pay them dividends – a clear case of “the erosion of European Covenant Protections”. </p> <p>It feels like a wake up and smell the coffee for the junk market… but I’ve been saying that for years… So I wont say it again…</p> <p>It looks to me that complacent investors have been misreading the signs – foolishly thinking low rates meant highly levered private equity targets were somehow safe from debt crisis? In fact, debt remains front and centre the problem: as newspapers have noted; “while Toy R Us should have been spending its management resources maintaining relevancy versus Amazon and EBay, it was struggling with a debt mountain.” Doh. </p> <p><strong>What’s very obvious is holders ignored the first rule of investing in Leveraged Buy Outs: Don’</strong>t. Unless the goals of equity holders and debt are very clearly aligned – don’t go near them. Alignment of interest twixt equity and debt is critical and misalignment seems the basis of many takeovers… </p> <p>Its 12 years since KKR, Bain and Vornado bought out Toy R Us. Guess who is also involved in the Stada buyout? If you guesses Bain, give yourself a big pat on the back. </p> <p>Anything is possible when markets are so distorted that the hunt for yield overcomes common sense and folk are willing to ignore the need for protection against unrewarded risk. Common sense is a very uncommon thing.</p> <p>Back in the real world.. I suppose we can spend the weekend fretting about Norte Korea. I tried to read stuff on the German election, hoping to come out with a killer bon-mot about Merkel, but it was just too dull and boring to bother. </p> <p>I’m off to Edinburgh later this evening… Have a great weekend. </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="561" height="254" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bain Bond Bond Business Capital structure Corporate finance Credit Debt Economy Finance High Yield High-yield debt KKR LBO Leveraged buyout Meltdown Money Private Equity Private equity United States housing bubble Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:10:41 +0000 Tyler Durden 603960 at One Simple Chart Proves That Facebook Thinks You're A Moron <p>Last week we jokingly wrote about a <a href="">Facebook press release</a> that was apparently an honest effort by the social media giant intended to summarize Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 election using their social media platform. That said, at least to us, it seemed as though Facebook unwittingly proved what a farce the entire 'Russian collusion' narrative had become as, after digging through advertising data for the better part of full year, Facebook reported that they found a <strong><em>'staggering'</em> <span style="text-decoration: underline;">$50,000</span></strong> worth of ad buys that <em>'<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>MAY</strong></span>'</em> have been purchased by Russian-linked accounts to run <em><strong>'potentially politically related'</strong></em> ads.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, after being attacked by the mainstream media and even Hillary for "assisting" the Russians, <a href="">Zuckerberg is once again in the press today</a> fanning the flames of the 'Russian collusion' narrative by saying that Facebook will release to Congress the details of the 3,000 ads that <em>'<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>MAY</strong></span>'</em> have been purchased by Russian-linked accounts.</p> <p><strong>And while it seems obvious, please allow us to once again demonstrate why this entire process is so utterly bizarre...&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>The chart below demonstrates how the $50,000 worth of ad buys that <em>'<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>MAY</strong></span>'</em> have been purchased by Russian-linked accounts to run <em><strong>'potentially politically related'</strong></em> ads compares to the $26.8 billion in ad revenue that Facebook generated in the U.S. over the same time period between 3Q 2015 and 2Q 2017....<strong>If $50,000 can swing an entire presidential election can you imagine what $26.8 billion can do?</strong></p> <p><a href=" - Facebook 1.jpg"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 329px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, not all of that $26.8 billion was spent on political advertising so we took a shot at breaking it down further.&nbsp; While Facebook doesn't disclose political spending as a percent of their overall advertising revenue, we did a little digging and found that political advertising represented ~5% of the overall ad market in the U.S. in 2016.&nbsp; We further assumed that political share of the overall ad market is roughly half of that amount in non-election years, or 2.5%.&nbsp; </p> <p>Using that data, we figure that Facebook may get ~3.5% of their annual revenue from political advertising in an average year, or nearly $1 billion per year...give or take a few million.&nbsp; Unfortunately, as the chart below once again demonstrates, <strong>this still does little to support Zuckerberg's thesis that the $50,000 he keeps talking about is in any way relevant to the 2016 election.</strong></p> <p><a href=" - Facebook 2.jpg"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 246px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, the pursuit of this ridiculous narrative proves that<strong> Zuckerberg has no interest in spreading the truth</strong> about how his company impacted (and by "impacted," we mean "had no impact at all") the 2016 election, <strong>but rather is only interested in shoving his political agenda down the throats of an American public that he presumes is too stupid to question his propaganda.&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>That said, if Zuckerberg is really just on a mission for truth, as he says he is, perhaps he can stop patronizing the American public and <strong>disclose the full facts surrounding political advertising on Facebook.&nbsp; We suspect a simple financial disclosure detailing how much political advertising was sold on Facebook from 3Q 2015 - 2Q 2017, broken down by political affiliation, would go a long way toward proving just how meaningless $50,000 is in the grand scheme of things.&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>That said, somehow we suspect 'truth' is not really Zuckerberg's end goal, now is it?</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="571" height="320" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Advertising Business Computing Congress Criticism of Facebook Digital media Facebook Mark Zuckerberg Nerd culture Social media Social networking services Software Technology The Social Network Universal Windows Platform apps Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:50:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603948 at A Look At How Nestle Makes Billions Selling You Groundwater In A Bottle <p>A few weeks ago we shared with readers a lawsuit filed in Connecticut against Nestle Waters North America, Inc. alleging that the water they marketed as Poland 'Natural Spring Water' was actually just bottled groundwater...the same water that runs through the taps of many American households.&nbsp; </p> <p>Now a new investigation from <a href="">Bloomberg Businessweek</a> reveals how <strong>large water bottling companies choose their plant locations based not on the steady supply of pristine, natural drinking water, as their labels and other marketing campaigns would lead you to believe, but based on which economically depressed municipalities offer up the most tax breaks and have the most lax water laws.&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>As an example, even in the drought stricken state of California, Bloomberg notes that Nestle was able to strike a sweetheart 20-year supply agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to pay roughly $0.000001 for the water in each bottle that consumers blindly drop a couple bucks to purchase.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>But it illuminates how Nestlé has come to dominate a controversial industry, spring by spring,<strong> often going into economically depressed municipalities with the promise of jobs and new infrastructure in exchange for tax breaks and access to a resource that’s scarce for millions.</strong> Where Nestlé encounters grass-roots resistance against its industrial-strength guzzling, it deploys lawyers; where it’s welcome, it can push the limits of that hospitality, sometimes with the acquiescence of state and local governments that are too cash-strapped or inept to say no. There are the usual costs of doing business, including transportation, infrastructure, and salaries. <strong>But Nestlé pays little for the product it bottles—sometimes a municipal rate and other times just a nominal extraction fee. In Michigan, it’s $200.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Elsewhere, Nestlé has largely prevailed against opposition. In Fryeburg, Maine, it took the company four years to successfully appeal a zoning board resolution to build a facility it said it needed for its Poland Spring line. Last year it gained rights to extract water for the next 20 years—and perhaps 25 more after that. <strong>In San Bernardino, Calif., Nestlé has long paid the U.S. Forest Service an annual rate of $524 to extract about 30 million gallons, even during droughts.</strong> “Our public agencies have dropped the ball,” says Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute, which focuses on water issues. “Every gallon of water that is taken out of a natural system for bottled water is a gallon of water that doesn’t flow down a stream, that doesn’t support a natural ecosystem,” he says.</p> </blockquote> <p><img src="" alt="Water" width="550" height="297" /></p> <p>Not surprisingly, Nestlé isn’t the only bottled water company playing these games. As Bloomberg notes, <strong>Pepsi and Coca-Cola bottle municipal water from Detroit for their Aquafina and Dasani brands</strong>, respectively; they pay city rates, then sell the product back for a massive profit.</p> <p>Of course, even if it is pulled from a 'natural spring', which often times it is not, bottled water isn’t necessarily more safe than tap water despite the fact that you're paying a 1,000,000x markup for the product. In the U.S., municipalities with 2.5 million or more people are required to test their supply dozens of times each day, whereas those with fewer than 50,000 customers must test for certain contaminants 60 times per month.&nbsp; </p> <p>Bottled water companies, on the other hand, aren’t required to monitor their reserve or report contamination, even though most will say that they do...<strong>you just have to take their word for it.</strong>&nbsp; That said, as we pointed out in the post below, American's are increasingly no longer willing to do that...</p> <p>* * * </p> <p> A group of bottled water drinkers has brought a class action lawsuit against Nestle, the company which owns Poland Spring, alleging that the Maine business has long deceived consumers by mislabeling common groundwater. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in a Connecticut federal court and accuses Nestle Waters North America Inc. of a “<strong>colossal fraud perpetrated against American consumers</strong>” the Bangor Daily News reports. </p> <p>The plaintiffs claim that falsely labeling its "groundwater" product as pure spring water allowed Nestle to sell Poland Spring water at a premium; as a result <strong>the consumers who brought the legal action are seeking at least $5 million in monetary damages for a national class and several state subclasses</strong>. They requested a jury trial. The civil suit was brought by 11 people from the Northeast <strong>who collectively spent thousands of dollars on Poland Spring brand water in recent years</strong>. It seeks millions of dollars in damages for a nationwide class and hinges on whether the sources of Poland Spring water meet the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of a spring. </p> <p>The 325-page lawsuit, which was filed by lawyers from four firms, <strong>claims that none of the company’s Maine water sources meets the federal definition for spring water and that the company has “politically compromised” state regulators. </strong>Rather than spring water, <strong>Nestle Waters is actually purifying and bottling groundwater, some of which comes from sites near waste and garbage dumps, the suit claims. </strong>The legal challenge comes as Nestle is looking to expand its operations in Maine.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>For instance, the suit claims that the company’s wells in Poland, Maine, have never been scientifically proven to be connected to a spring and draw in surface water, which cannot legally be called spring water.<strong> It further alleges that the company has put water from some of these wells through a purification process that disqualifies it as spring water under federal regulations.</strong> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The suit makes similar claims about Poland Spring water sources in Hollis, Fryeburg, Denmark, Dallas Plantation, Pierce Pond Township and Kingfield.</p> </blockquote> <p>Poland Spring has gotten away with this deception for years, the suit claims, by co-opting state regulators and interweaving its interests with those of state government. <strong>Since 1998 the company has generated millions of dollars for Maine through licensing agreements, and since 2003 it has had an executive on the governor-appointed body that oversees the state drinking-water regulation enforcement agency, </strong>the suit states.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>The court complaint further says that the Maine Drinking Water Program scientist who approved many of the company’s spring water permits spent a decade working with this executive at a private engineering firm and that the agency failed to get independent proof of the springs’ existence.</p> </blockquote> <p>In response to the lawsuit, a Nestle Waters spokesperson said that its water meets all relevant federal and state regulations on the classification and collection of spring water and that the suit is “an obvious attempt to manipulate the legal system for personal gain.” </p> <p>“The claims made in the lawsuit are without merit. Poland Spring is 100 [percent] spring water.”</p> <p>This is not the first time that Nestle Waters has faced such allegations. In 2003, it settled a class action lawsuit alleging that Poland Spring water doesn’t come from a spring. In that case, the company did not admit the allegation but agreed to pay about $10 million in discounts to consumers and charity contributions. In other words, pulling a page from Wall Street, it neither admitted, nor denied guilt. </p> <p><em>The full lawsuit is below:</em></p> <p><iframe src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-SbtvDR1SyEpJVaN9rCtY&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%" height="600" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="196" height="114" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bottled water Detroit Drinking water Food and drink Food and Drug Administration Michigan Nestlé Nestlé Pure Life Nestlé Waters North America None Pacific Institute Pepsi Poland Poland Spring Spring state drinking-water regulation enforcement agency Tap water U.S. Forest Service UN Court Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:39:52 +0000 Tyler Durden 603937 at Dear Jamie Dimon - Is The Swiss National Bank A Fraud? <p>The price of shares in The Swiss National Bank is up 11 days in a row, soaring 150% in the last two months.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="312" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>That sounds like a &#39;tulip&#39; bubble-like &#39;fraud&#39;...</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 317px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SNB is up over 120% in Q3 so far - more than double &#39;bubble&#39; Bitcoin...</p> <p><a href=""><img height="314" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Let&#39;s check with the markets ultimate arbiter of what&#39;s fraud and what&#39;s real - JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon:</p> <ul> <li>It&#39;s a <strong>bubble </strong>(because it has exploded vertically in the last few months) - check</li> <li>It&#39;s a <strong>fraud</strong>, there&#39;s nothing behind it - check</li> <li>It&#39;s a business where <strong>people can invent a currency out of thin air</strong> - check</li> <li>People who buy it are &quot;<strong>stupid</strong>&quot; - check</li> <li>&quot;<strong>Shocked </strong>that anyone can&#39;t see it for what it is&quot; - check</li> </ul> <p>In fact, The SNB farce is now <a href="">hitting the mainstream media</a>... <strong>WSJ notes The SNB is a rarity among rarities. </strong>Only a handful of central banks - including Japan and Belgium as well as the Swiss - have private shareholders.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 325px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>...those looking for a good reason behind the rally, or trying to judge whether the stock is fairly valued, will likely be disappointed.</strong></p> <p>While the SNB does release monthly data on its balance sheet and quarterly profit, it doesn&rsquo;t issue the reams of financial metrics that most listed companies do. <strong>The central bank also isn&rsquo;t covered by analysts in the same way as commercial banks or companies.</strong></p> <p>UBS economist Alessandro Bee, who covers the SNB as a central bank and not as a stock, said he sees <strong>no particular reason why the stock rose</strong>.</p> <p><strong>There are only 100,000 shares outstanding and the stock is thinly traded, which can exaggerate price moves. </strong>On an average day, about 174 SNB shares are traded, compared with nearly 12 million for Credit Suisse AG.</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *<br />So Jamie - is The Swiss National Bank a fraud?</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="962" height="501" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Belgium Bitcoin Bitcoin Business Central Banks Credit Suisse Economy Finance Financial crises Global Systemically Important Banks Jamie Dimon Jamie Dimon Japan JPMorgan Chase Money Short SNB Swiss National Bank Swiss National Bank Swiss National Bank UBS Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603914 at "Seems Like An Inside Job" - Brazen Thief Steals $2 Million From Courier Van <p>One lucky thief stole an ATM courier van containing $1.8 million in cash from the parking lot of a Georgia bank after two careless couriers left it running while making a routine stop. And two weeks later, federal authorities haven&rsquo;t found their suspect.</p> <p>Surveillance cameras at Citizens Trust Bank in the 25000 hundred block of South Harriston were able to capture a blurry image of the suspect &ndash; a man wearing dark pants and a baggy gray long-sleeve shirt with a black backpack -as he smashed the window of the van and drove off while the two couriers were inside. The drivers were gone for ten minutes - meaning the thief netted approximately $180,000 a minute, tax free.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 280px;" /></a></p> <p>The couriers had left the van running, but locked both doors. When they returned from their drop off, the van was gone. All they found was broken glass. Later that day, DeKalb County marshals found the van ditched in a neighborhood up the street. But the cash and suspect were missing, according to the <a href="">Atlanta Journal-Constitution. </a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>About 6:45 a.m., two ATM Response Inc. employees pulled into the bank parking lot and went inside with an unspecified amount of money.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;The driver locked the vehicle doors but left the keys in the ignition and the vehicle running,&rdquo; Emmett said. The couriers were inside the bank between 10 and 15 minutes. They returned to find the van gone. All that was left was broken glass.</p> </blockquote> <p>The ease with which the theif succeeded in pulling off the heist prompted some to question whether the thief had been tipped off by one of the couriers, according to <a href="">Atlanta&#39;s WSB-TV 2. </a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;I can&#39;t believe he managed to do this,&rdquo; one woman who did not identify herself told Jaquez. &ldquo;Seems like an inside job.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p>Since Sept. 8, the day of the heist, the FBI and DeKalb County officials have been searching for the perpetrator, but have yet to stumble on any leads. Of course, it&#39;s possible that federal agents might be able to trace the cash back to whomever spent it if it reenters the banking system.<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="737" height="412" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> ATM Automated teller machine Automation Courier Economy FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Technology Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603897 at Caught On Video: Americans Beaten By Erdogan Supporters In New York City <p>Once again supporters of Turkish President&nbsp;Recep Tayyip Erdogan have roughed up American protesters on American soil. As Erdogan delivered a speech to supporters in New York City at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square on Thursday, a handful of protesters began holding up signs and yelling anti-Erdogan slogans. Men in black suits&nbsp;<strong>immediately rushed the protesters and began violently removing them while the crowd punched and shoved those being carried out.</strong></p> <p>Video released by&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Turkish media</a>&nbsp;present at the event clearly shows at least two of the protesters being repeatedly punched in the face by Erdogan supporters as they were taken out of the room.&nbsp;<strong>And it appears that Erdogan actually encouraged the violence from the podium, calling the protesters - which included Americans - &quot;terrorists&quot;.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="" width="500"></iframe></p> <p><em>Violence erupts at an Erdogan speech Thursday: After American protesters were beaten by Erdogan supporters, he called the protesters &quot;terrorists&quot; from the podium (see 1:40 mark).&nbsp;</em></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="tr"><a href="">#Erdo?an</a>&rsquo;? New York&rsquo;ta Protesto Edenlere Yaka Paça Müdahale <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Amerika&#39;n?n Sesi (@VOATurkish) <a href="">September 21, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>The disruption appears to have started when Lucas Chapman - a young American activist and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">former YPG volunteer fighter</a>&nbsp;(Kurdish &quot;People&#39;s Protection Units&quot;) - yelled out in the middle of Erdogan&#39;s speech:&nbsp;<strong>&quot;Murderer! You&#39;re a terrorist, get out of my country!&quot;</strong></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">American former YPG volunteer protests during Turkish dictator speech: &quot;You&#39;re a terrorist, get out of my country&quot;. <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Afarin Mamosta (@AfarinMamosta) <a href="">September 21, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Video shows Chapman immediately being shoved to the ground from behind, just before being seized by what appear to be security guards, though it&#39;s not confirmed if any of the guards were part of Erdogan&#39;s presidential security detail. Chapman was punched in the face by an unidentified man wearing a suit before disappearing off camera as he was carried out of the room.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 247px;" /></a></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">NEW ANGLE: <a href="">@RT_Erdogan</a> thugs beating protester today at NYC rally! <a href="">@ANCA_DC</a> <a href="">#Turkey</a> <a href="">#Turkish</a> <a href="">#Erdogan</a> <a href="">#StopErdogan</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; ANCA (@ANCA_DC) <a href="">September 21, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Chapman told Zero Hedge that the moment the protest began, he was assaulted by the crowd. &quot;Erdogan&#39;s supporters jumped on me almost immediately, shoving me out of my chair and eventually throwing me to the floor,&quot; he said.&nbsp;<strong>&quot;They kicked and punched me repeatedly until the security guards lifted me and dragged me out.</strong>&nbsp;<strong>As I was being dragged out, Turks leaned into the aisle and continued punching me in the head and stomach.&quot;</strong></p> <p>Chapman is uncertain whether or not Erdogan&#39;s body guards were directly involved as he says his face was quickly pressed to the floor and was thus unable to see while being beaten in the initial moments of the event. There were seven protesters total in the group and they escaped with only minor injuries.&nbsp;</p> <p>The ordeal caused Erdogan to pause his speech while the entire room erupted in&nbsp;pandemonium as body guards rushed through the crowd. The Turkish president leaned over to one of his aides in confusion and was visibly angry while glaring out at the audience.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Erdogan protested during his speech in New York. He asks his goon: Who are these?<br />The goon replies: Americans, sir. <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Gilgo (@agirecudi) <a href="">September 21, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Another man, carried out after Chapman, was&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">shown on video</a>&nbsp;being viciously assaulted by Erdogan loyalists waiving Turkish flags. Footage shows the man initially on the ground being kicked while what appears to be hotel security attempted to hold the crowd back. The protester was repeatedly punched in the face while being escorted out.</p> <p>In addition<strong>, Erdogan seems to have encouraged the violence in the very moments it was taking place by calling the protesters &quot;terrorists&quot;.&nbsp;</strong>Erdogan announced from the podium: &quot;My dear brothers, my dear brothers, my dear brothers, I have an important request from you: don&#39;t let three to five impertinent people,&nbsp;<strong>three to five hall&nbsp;</strong><em><strong>terrorists</strong></em><strong>&nbsp;ruin our lovely gathering.&quot;</strong></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Video from another angle shows Erdogan&#39;s guards beating up an American protesting him during his speech in New York. <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Turkey Untold (@TurkeyUntold) <a href="">September 21, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Referencing a familiar theme, Erdogan&#39;s speech singled out the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Gülen movement as &quot;terrorists&quot; while equating both groups with ISIS.&nbsp;Thursday&#39;s violence follows a major incident last May in which at least 12 people were seriously injured after Erdogan&#39;s personal security detail&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">attacked peaceful protesters</a>&nbsp;outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC. Turkey has a history of aggressively cracking down on both protests and journalists, especially in relation to Kurdish issues. US federal indictments have been issued for&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">15 of the Turkish security officials</a>&nbsp;involved in the May attacks, which occurred on American soil.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Meanwhile, it appears that Erdogan was caught lying about the May incident this week.</strong>&nbsp;He&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">claimed in an interview</a>&nbsp;on Monday that Trump personally apologized to him for the violent encounter, which Turkey blames on Kurdish groups and DC police:&nbsp;&quot;President Trump called me about a week ago about this issue. He said that he was sorry, and he told me that he was going to follow up on this issue when we come to the United States within the framework of an official visit.&quot;&nbsp;<strong>However, the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">White House&nbsp;denied</a>&nbsp;that any apology had been issued over the embassy violence.</strong></p> <p>On Wednesday the Turkish president shocked an audience at&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">the Bloomberg Global Business Forum</a>&nbsp;in New York when he said that the hundreds of journalists currently imprisoned in Turkey after a recent crackdown on government critics are&nbsp;<strong>&quot;not journalists, they&#39;re terrorists.&quot;&nbsp;</strong>When asked by Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait why his country&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">has put more journalists in jail</a>&nbsp;than any other nation, Erdogan responded, &ldquo;The ones who have been sentenced, who have been imprisoned, are not journalists.&quot; He then made the bizarre claim that,&nbsp;&quot;Many have been involved in burglaries and some have been caught red handed as they were trying to empty ATM machines.&rdquo; And added,&nbsp;&ldquo;Everyone else seems to think they&rsquo;re journalists just because they say so.&quot;</p> <p>Turkey has recently&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">topped the list of countries</a>&nbsp;routinely engaged in Twitter censorship and has over the past years completely blocked social media platforms nation-wide at various times.&nbsp;</p> <p>All of this causes us to ask: how long before both American leadership and the media begin acknowledging Erdogan for the thuggish tin pot dictator that he truly is? Apparently, he&#39;s no longer content to crackdown on speech in his own country,&nbsp;<strong>but now willingly sics his fanatical mob even on Americans exercising free speech on American soil.</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="985" height="487" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> ATM Authoritarianism Bloomberg News DC police New York City Politics Politics of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdo?an Turkey Turkey Turkish embassy Turkish people Twitter Twitter White House White House Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:13:19 +0000 Tyler Durden 603955 at "I Think There Will Be War" - Iraqi Kurds Fear Conflict After Referendum <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Tom Westcott via Middle East Eye,</em></a></p> <p><em><strong>Official fears violence after 25 September independence vote, as disputes grow in areas controlled by Kurd forces outside original KRG borders.</strong></em></p> <p><a href=""><img height="301" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>Fears of fresh conflict in northern Iraq are bubbling to the surface weeks before Iraqi Kurds hold a contentious vote on independence, with warnings of war over disputed, ethnically mixed border regions and reports of Shia forces pushing Kurd officials from a town to prevent voting.</strong></p> <p>The Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, has refused repeated requests from Baghdad, the US and regional powers&nbsp;to postpone its 25 September referendum, saying it would only do so if an alternative was presented by Iraq&rsquo;s central government.</p> <p>Tensions have risen in areas liberated by KRG forces outside the region&rsquo;s original 2003 borders, including the city of Kirkuk. On Monday the KRG&rsquo;s president, Massoud Barzani, said &ldquo;any attempt to change the reality using force&rdquo; in Kirkuk &ldquo;should&nbsp;expect that every single Kurd will be ready to fight.&rdquo;</p> <p>Dr Jutyar Mahmoud, a member of the region&rsquo;s independence referendum commission, told Middle East Eye that&nbsp;disputed territories such as Kirkuk were the focus of fears of a new conflagration after the referendum.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;We will face border problems in the near future and I definitely think there will be another war, and soon,&rdquo; he said.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>He described Iraq as &ldquo;militarily weak,&rdquo; after three years of battling the Islamic State (IS), during which time forces have suffered extensive losses, particularly in the recent nine-month fight to liberate Mosul.</p> <p>A greater threat, he said, was posed by Iraq&rsquo;s other army &ndash; the Iranian-backed paramilitary Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation force.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&ldquo;The Hashd are another threat and maybe Iran will push them to fight us,&rdquo; </strong></em>Mahmoud said, adding that Iraq&rsquo;s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, &ldquo;doesn&rsquo;t control the Hashd, but Iran can.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 599px; height: 405px;" /></a></p> <p><em>Jutyar Mahmoud considered the Hashd a greater threat than Iraq&rsquo;s regular army (AFP)</em></p> <h3><u><strong>Hostile acts</strong></u></h3> <p><strong>His comments&nbsp;preceded bouts of recent unrest in some of&nbsp;the contested border regions.</strong> On Saturday, local Arabs pulled&nbsp;the KRG flag from a council building in Mandali, in the province of Diyala, and staged an armed, albeit peaceful, protest in the town.</p> <p>The next day, the town council sacked the Kurdish mayor and overruled a previous vote that agreed to the town&rsquo;s participation in the referendum, according to the Kurdish news service Rudaw.&nbsp;Claims that the Hashd were involved were denied by a well-placed source, who said such actions were not in line with the force&rsquo;s policies.</p> <p>The source told MEE that if local fighters affiliated with the Hashd were involved, they were representing themselves, not the Hashd al-Shaabi.</p> <p><strong>Also on Saturday, Kurdish Turkmen were urged to boycott the referendum by eight Turkmen parties in Kirkuk, who repeated Baghdad&rsquo;s line that the vote is unconstitutional.</strong></p> <p>In Sinjar, 2,000 Yazidis&nbsp;have joined the Hashd,&nbsp;according to the force&rsquo;s spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi.</p> <p>Yazidi refugees living in camps&nbsp;said the move was prompted by dissatisfaction with the Kurdish peshmerga forces for failing to protect them from IS in 2014, and what they said was ongoing neglect and marginalisation of Yazidis under the KRG.</p> <p><strong>Adding to extant tensions are limitations of voter eligibility.</strong> Although northern Iraq has long been ethnically mixed, Arabs relocated under former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein&rsquo;s Arabisation schemes are not eligible to vote in the referendum, said the KRG referendum commission&rsquo;s Mahmoud.</p> <p>Voting in the disputed territories would also be limited to areas controlled by the peshmerga, Mahmoud said, adding that Hashd forces had made it clear that they would not accept ballot boxes being placed in any areas under their control.</p> <h3><u><strong>Kirkuk&rsquo;s tinderbox</strong></u></h3> <p>Both the peshmerga and Hashd forces are maintaining a strong military presence in several disputed territories, including Kirkuk province.</p> <p>Several thousand Turkmen Hashd fighters reportedly control what Hashd spokesman Asadi said was the lion&rsquo;s share of the province, but he&nbsp;insisted any talk of war was political bluster.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;The Hashd al-Shaabi were founded to ensure the stability and security of Iraq, not to ignite sectarian or regional wars,&rdquo; </strong>he told Middle East Eye.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Anyone who promotes these ideas about war between Iraq and Kurdistan are outsiders intent on destabilising the security and stability of Iraq.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;The affairs in Kurdistan are not going to lead to a war and such talk is nothing but a passing political tempest to satisfy some political matters for some Kurdish politicians.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;We view Kurdistan as an Iraqi land and we will defend it as we continue to defend all of Iraq.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Asadi said &ldquo;brotherly ties&rdquo; between Hashd fighters and the Kurds had been proved by how they stood united in one trench to defend Iraq in the battle against IS.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" /></a></p> <p><em>Baghdad, the US and regional powers have urged the KRG to postpone its referendum (Reuters)</em></p> <h3><u><strong>Brotherly ties</strong></u></h3> <p>Dr Kemal Kerkuki, a peshmerga commander stationed near IS-occupied Hawija, echoed this sentiment, saying the chance of war with Iraq was &ldquo;very, very narrow, if not impossible&rdquo; &ndash; but was keen to reiterate the strength of the peshmerga.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;The peshmerga forces are always ready to defend our lands and I think the fight against IS has shown the whole world what our forces are capable of,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;However, we are determined to use the referendum and all democratic tools in our negotiations with Baghdad for an amicable divorce.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Kerkuki insisted defeating IS remained a priority for both the KRG and Baghdad, and said there was ongoing cooperation between Iraqi and peshmerga forces.</p> <p>Having swiftly defeated IS in Tal Afar, Iraqi forces are now preparing to begin their operations to retake Hawija, in one of the many disputed areas along the border regions between the KRG and Iraq.</p> <p>Kerkuki admitted there were recurrent problems between rival Iraqi forces but remained adamant that the referendum would help resolve rather than exacerbate problems in the border regions.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&ldquo;The referendum is a peaceful and democratic tool to solve the chronic problems between the Kurdistan region and Iraq,&rdquo;</strong></em> he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>&ldquo;The referendum is a tool to defuse war and intra-city conflicts in the newly liberated areas, particularly the so-called &lsquo;disputed areas&rsquo;.&rdquo;</em></strong></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="948" height="476" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Geography of Asia Geography of Iraq Geography of Kurdistan Hashd Iran Iraq Iraqi Kurdistan Kirkuk Kurdistan independence movement Kurdistan Regional Government Kurdistan Regional Government Middle East Middle East northern Iraq Peshmerga Politics Politics of Iraq Popular Mobilization Forces Reality Reuters Turkmen Hashd War Western Asia Fri, 22 Sep 2017 07:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603957 at "It's Really Hard In China" - Sex Doll Rental Business Withdraws From Market After Just A Week <p><a href="">As we warned over the weekend, </a>when we first learned of Beijing&#39;s new sex doll rental business, <strong>China&#39;s sharing economy may have just jumped the shark.</strong></p> <p>Now, <strong>just 4 days later, after its business model elicited a flood of complaints and criticism, Chinese company Ta Qu &ndash; or &ldquo;Touch&rdquo; in English &ndash; has announced that it will close its week-old sex-doll rental business,</strong> inspiring budget-focused silicon slammers in the world&rsquo;s second-largest economy to issue a collective groan.</p> <p>Touch began offering five different sex doll types for daily or longer-term rent last Thursday in Beijing. But according to the <a href=";mc_eid=3a77fd6ef8">BBC,</a>&ldquo;it quickly drew complaints and criticism.&rdquo;</p> <p>The company said in a statement on Weibo that it &quot;sincerely apologized for the negative impact&quot; of its business model.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 242px;" /></a></p> <p>But the company added that sex is &quot;not vulgar&quot; and said it would keep working towards more people enjoying it. The company said it had generated &ldquo;a lot of interest and requests&rdquo; during its short-lived run.</p> <p>Unfortunately for entrepreneurs hoping to enter China&rsquo;s thriving sex-toy industry, the company noted that succeeding in that industry &ldquo;is really hard in China.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&quot;We prepared ten dolls for the trial operation,&quot; a company spokesperson said via email, adding that they received very positive feedback from users.</p> <p>&quot;But it&#39;s really hard in China,&quot; the firm wrote, saying there had been a lot of controversy with the police over the issue.</p> </blockquote> <p>The company had offered the sex dolls for a daily fee of 298 yuan (about $50), according to Chinese media. It also sells an array of sex toys and dolls, according to the <a href=";mc_eid=3a77fd6ef8">BBC</a>.</p> <p>Here&#39;s what that would&#39;ve bought you:</p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 670px;" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 672px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 685px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 666px;" /></a></p> <p>In its Weibo statement, the firm said its original intention had been to make expensive silicone dolls more affordable but conceded that the service triggered a heated public debate. The company also said it would pay out compensation to users worth double the amount they had paid as a deposit for reserving a doll.</p> <p>The statement added that Touch would in future pay more attention to its &quot;social duty&quot;, and would actively promote a &quot;healthier and more harmonious sex lifestyle&quot;.</p> <p>The Chinese app was launched in 2015 as a platform for discussing issues about sex and sexuality before &ldquo;pivoting&rdquo; into sales.</p> <p>As we <a href="">reported </a>earlier in the week, the company planned to offer five models to choose from: &quot;Greek bikini model,&quot; &quot;US Wonder Woman,&quot; &quot;Korean housewife,&quot; &quot;Russian teenager&quot; and &quot;Hong Kong car race cheerleader.&quot; Users can customize the dolls to their liking by picking out hair and eye color, as well as their outfits.</p> <p>For those asking the obvious question, the company states that it also has hygiene on its mind, as explained by their official policy.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&quot;The dolls&#39; lower parts are changed for every customer,&quot; reads the app. &quot;Please remove the lower parts before returning. After the lower parts are cleaned, the doll can be used repeatedly.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The company hoped to capitalize on China&rsquo;s notorious gender imbalance favoring men, as well as the country&rsquo;s thriving online gaming culture, which breeds hordes of lonely young men.</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="603" height="292" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Anthropomorphism Barbie BBC Business China Collecting Dawn doll Dolls Entertainment Hong Kong Masturbation Narratology Play Sex doll Toy Yuan Fri, 22 Sep 2017 06:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603940 at