http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml/wp-content/plugins/ubillboard/koreanbuyingspreeboostsbrentprice en Theory of Relativity http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/theory-relativity <p style="line-height: 1.71429; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"><em><strong><a href="http://slopeofhope.com/" target="_blank">From the Slope of Hope: </a></strong></em>Since&nbsp;today is&nbsp;President's Day, I think I'll write about something Presidential. And this quote from our patron saint George Carlin is absolutely crucial to the piece:</p> <h2 style="clear: both; line-height: 1.6; margin-top: 1.71429rem; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; font-size: 1.28571rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; padding-left: 30px;">&nbsp;"When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat."</h2> <p style="line-height: 1.71429; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">See, I want it crystal clear at the outset that there is nothing political about what I've got to say. Our nation is deeply divided along political lines - - the worst I've ever seen - - and while I can write or tweet about just about anything under the sun without repercussion, the moment I so much as mention the word "Trump" without words of gushing adulation next to it, some Duck Dynasty-watching mental midget flips out.</p> <p style="line-height: 1.71429; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">So let me drive this point home: I have no ax to grind. I have no agenda. I simply don't care. Trump could become the greatest president in history, and I don't care. He could&nbsp;resign&nbsp;today, and I don't care. Seriously. He and his whole family mean as much to me as I do to him. Zero. None. Zilch. Got it? Thank you.</p> <p style="line-height: 1.71429; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">Having said that, I'd like you to step back and consider the superficial state of our nation today:</p> <ul style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; margin-left: 0px; line-height: 1.71429; list-style-position: outside; list-style-image: initial; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"> <li style="margin-left: 1.71429rem;">The crime rate has been in a steady downtrend for decades;</li> <li style="margin-left: 1.71429rem;">The unemployment rate is about as low as it's been for decades;</li> <li style="margin-left: 1.71429rem;">Equity prices are at lifetime highs, far surpassing their greatest optimism of the Internet bubble or the housing bubble;</li> <li style="margin-left: 1.71429rem;">The world is at peace (yes, there are tensions, and lots of troops deployed, but face it, there are no real wars happening);</li> <li style="margin-left: 1.71429rem;">In fits and starts, for nearly thirty years, our former opponents in the Cold War have been moving toward capitalism and normalized relations;</li> <li style="margin-left: 1.71429rem;">Interest rates remain near zero worldwide;</li> <li style="margin-left: 1.71429rem;">In spite of absolutely enormous debt, the public isn't worried about it, and the public discourse and hand-wringing about debt is virtually non-existent compared to what people were worried about in the early 1980s, when debt was literally&nbsp;<em>95% smaller</em>&nbsp;than today.</li> </ul> <p style="line-height: 1.71429; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">So, all in all, life is awfully good, right?</p> <p style="line-height: 1.71429; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">And yet, with all these advantages - - these enormous, global, sweeping positives - - there is chaos and strife on the political scene. We have a president who exceeded an unpopularity rating of 50% faster than anyone in history (8 days, as compared to 1,361 days for Reagan). People being offered cabinet posts are saying "no", which happens just about never. Plus you've got the whole Flynn situation. To say nothing of the fact that public discourse is now evidently at the level of a&nbsp;<em>Wayne's World</em>&nbsp;episode (this tweet is just from today):</p> <p style="line-height: 1.71429; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"><a href="http://slopeofhope.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/0218-excellent.png" style="color: #21759b; outline: none;" rel="attachment wp-att-63378"><img src="http://slopeofhope.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/0218-excellent.png" alt="0218-excellent" width="604" height="114" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2) 0px 1px 4px; margin-top: 0.857143rem; margin-bottom: 0.857143rem; margin-left: 1.71429rem; display: inline;" class="alignright size-full wp-image-63378" /></a></p> <p style="line-height: 1.71429; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">Now imagine for a moment you've got the&nbsp;<strong>exact</strong>&nbsp;same political situation but a very different&nbsp;<a href="http://slopeofhope.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Trump.png" style="color: #21759b; outline: none;" rel="attachment wp-att-63375"><img src="http://slopeofhope.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Trump.png" alt="Trump" width="321" height="416" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2) 0px 1px 4px; float: right; margin-top: 0.857143rem; margin-bottom: 0.857143rem; margin-left: 1.71429rem; display: inline;" class="alignright size-full wp-image-63375" /></a>world. Consider any of these possibilities happening.......or even all of them at once!</p> <ul style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; margin-left: 0px; line-height: 1.71429; list-style-position: outside; list-style-image: initial; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"> <li style="margin-left: 1.71429rem;">An honest-to-God bear market in equities, just like 2000-2002 or 2007-2009, but even more destructive;</li> <li style="margin-left: 1.71429rem;">Steadily rising interest rates, which crush private equity firms, homeowners, and anyone else with debt;</li> <li style="margin-left: 1.71429rem;">The breakout of "hot" wars, or maybe just a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11.....or worse.</li> </ul> <p style="line-height: 1.71429; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">I could go on, but you get the idea. Seriously, think about what kind of trauma, angst, and political fireworks would be going on then.</p> <p style="line-height: 1.71429; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1.71429rem; color: #444444; font-family: &quot;Open Sans&quot;, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">Personally, I don't think Trump is going to ride out his entire four years, but even if he does, one should shudder to think about how he's going to behave when this world of sunshine, lollipops, and flowers takes a holiday. Face it, folks, we live in a world where a company like SNAP is able to sell $20 billion of its own stock. A world this pristine isn't going to last. Somewhere, sometime, things&nbsp;<strong>are</strong>&nbsp;going to start to go wrong, and it's going to be one hell of a show when it does.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-blog"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_blog" width="234" height="205" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user44944/imageroot/Spottswoode.png?1487612201" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/theory-relativity#comments Bear Market Foreign policy of Donald Trump Housing Bubble Human Interest None Private Equity Slope of Hope Unemployment Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:36:41 +0000 Tim Knight from Slope of Hope 588612 at http://www.zerohedge.com Russian Ambassador To UN Vitaly Churkin Has "Died Suddenly" In New York http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/russian-ambassador-un-vitaly-churkin-suddenly-dies-work-new-york <p>Vitaly Churkin, who served as Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006, "died suddenly" in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced. Churkin died one day before his 65th birthday. Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, told The Associated Press that Churkin became ill in his office at Russia's U.N. mission and was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he died Monday. His cause of death wasn't immediately known.</p> <p>As the AP adds, Churkin has been Russia's envoy at the United Nations for a little over a decade and was considered Moscow's great champion at the U.N. He had a reputation for an acute wit and sharp repartee especially with his American and Western counterparts. He was previously ambassador at large and earlier served as the foreign ministry spokesman.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/02/08/churkin%202.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/02/08/churkin%202_0.jpg" width="500" height="278" /></a></p> <p>While speculation of foul play may emerge, according to Al Arabiya the Russian UN envoy had been suffering from heart problems. </p> <p>The announcement "of Churkin's passing this morning" was met with shock when it was delivered during a session at the UN headquarters. "He was a dear colleague of all of us, a deeply committed diplomat of his country and one of the finest people we have known," a UN official who delivered the news to her colleagues said.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Shocking news to hear the passing away of Amb Vitaly Churkin. A brilliant ambassador who served his country &amp; people. May he rest in peace. <a href="https://t.co/pFodXqs5Qm">pic.twitter.com/pFodXqs5Qm</a></p> <p>— @kamaNY (@kamapradipta) <a href="https://twitter.com/kamapradipta/status/833724036383440896">February 20, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>The Russian foreign ministry gave no details on the circumstances of his death but offered condolences to his relatives and said the diplomat had died one day before his 65th birthday. Here is the statement issued moments ago from the <a href="http://tass.com/politics/931968">Russian Foreign Ministry</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>A prominent Russian diplomat has passed away while at work. We'd like<br /> to express our sincere condolences to Vitaly Churkin's family. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Russian Foreign Ministry deeply regrets to announce that Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin has died suddenly in New York on February 20, a day ahead of his 65th birthday. </p> </blockquote> <p>"He was an outstanding person. He was brilliant, bright, a great diplomat of our age," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, adding that the news of Churkin's death was "completely shocking."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Interviewed Churkin just 2 weeks ago. He looked in good health and was very energetic during the interview. Shocked<a href="https://t.co/SAcWVZ1wEJ">https://t.co/SAcWVZ1wEJ</a></p> <p>— Alexey Yaroshevsky (@Yaro_RT) <a href="https://twitter.com/Yaro_RT/status/833727829854584832">February 20, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>According to <a href="https://sputniknews.com/russia/201702201050877665-russian-ambassador-churkin-dies/">Sputnik</a>, Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Yevgeniy Zagaynov said about Churkin that he kept working "till the very end." The representative of the UN Secretary-General said that the UN was shocked by the news, extending their condolences to Moscow. </p> <p>No further details are available at the moment.</p> <p>Perhaps the best known Russian diplomat alongside Sergey Lavrov, Vitaly Ivanovich Churkin was born in Moscow in 1952. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1974, beginning his decades-long career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shortly. </p> <p>Ambassador Churkin served as Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations since 2006, where he has clashed on numerous occasions with opposing members of the<br /> Security Council whose decisions Russia has vetoed more than once. Prior to this appointment, he was Ambassador at Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (2003-2006), Ambassador to Canada (1998-2003), Ambassador to Belgium and Liaison Ambassador to NATO and WEU (1994-1998), Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation to the talks on Former Yugoslavia (1992-1994), Director of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR/Russian Federation (1990-1992).</p> <p>Vitaly Churkin held a Ph.D. in history. He is survived by his wife and two children.</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="900" height="500" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/churkin%202.jpg?1487611745" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/russian-ambassador-un-vitaly-churkin-suddenly-dies-work-new-york#comments Belgium Columbia Presbyterian Hospital European Union Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War Foreign relations of Russia Georgia Government of Russia International relations Ministry of Foreign Affairs Moscow State Institute North Atlantic Treaty Organization Russia Russia's Foreign Ministry Russian Foreign Ministry Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War Security Council Sergey Lavrov Twitter Twitter United Nations USSR/Russian Federation Vetoed United Nations Security Council resolutions on Syria Vitaly Churkin WEU Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:31:39 +0000 Tyler Durden 588611 at http://www.zerohedge.com About Those "Overly Optimistic" Trump GDP Forecasts, There's Just One Thing http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/about-those-overly-optimistic-trump-gdp-forecasts-theres-just-one-thing <p>Last Friday, both armchair and tenured US economists found another reason to lash out at Trump in mockery: <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-teams-growth-forecasts-far-rosier-than-those-of-cbo-private-economists-1487356278">as the WSJ reported</a>, the Trump administration had drafted economic growth forecasts in its budget plans that "rely on assumptions that are far rosier than projections made by independent agencies and most private forecasters." According to the WSJ' sources, the economic growth forecasts which are presented as part of White House budget submissions to Congress and are due out from the Trump team in the coming weeks, have an important role on projected debts and deficits: obviously, "a fast-growing economy produces more revenue while reducing the need for spending on programs such as food stamps or unemployment insurance. Fast growth estimates can thus hold down projected deficits." </p> <p>What are they? "The forecasts, which were initiated before President Donald Trump took office, <strong>project gross domestic product—a broad measure of national output of goods and services—growing between 3% and 3.5% a year over the coming decade, with inflation-adjusted annual growth ultimately settling at around 3.2% during the later years of the 10-year forecast</strong>."</p> <p>While the Journal concedes that the forecasts are being revised over concerns "that pressing staff economists to produce aggressive forecasts might undercut the credibility of top appointees forced to later defend those numbers", those two numbers: between 3% and 3.5% were enough to launch a mini revolt by the so-called 'respected' economists and assorted hanger-on punditry (including central bankers who really should keep their mouths shut when it comes to predictions), to wit.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Staff ordered to project growth will average between 3-3.5% over the next decade eventually settling at 3.2% LOL<br /> <a href="https://t.co/3UAGmd6Idd">https://t.co/3UAGmd6Idd</a></p> <p>— Danny Blanchflower (@D_Blanchflower) <a href="https://twitter.com/D_Blanchflower/status/832690098260959233">February 17, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The Trump administration's growth forecasts are far more optimistic than those of CBO and most private economists <a href="https://t.co/NkzYrmF0ps">https://t.co/NkzYrmF0ps</a></p> <p>— Michael Maloney (@mikemaloneyny) <a href="https://twitter.com/mikemaloneyny/status/832660874858934273">February 17, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WorldBank?src=hash">#WorldBank</a> expects <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/US?src=hash">#US</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GDP?src=hash">#GDP</a> growth to slip. Reportedly <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Trump?src=hash">#Trump</a> orders higher forecast. Like floor no. of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TrumpTower?src=hash">#TrumpTower</a>? <a href="https://t.co/AgzufCNwjy">https://t.co/AgzufCNwjy</a> <a href="https://t.co/Wa146tt9XZ">pic.twitter.com/Wa146tt9XZ</a></p> <p>— Thaddeus Hwong (@policyquests) <a href="https://twitter.com/policyquests/status/832799491572928512">February 18, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Remember my rule of thumb: The more growth a politician promises, the worse his or her economic plan probably is. <a href="https://t.co/CDIwvOhx3v">https://t.co/CDIwvOhx3v</a></p> <p>— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) <a href="https://twitter.com/crampell/status/832693416479727617">February 17, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>While one may certainly doubt the veracity of the projections - as of this month the US "expansion", primarily the result of tens of trillions in central bank and Chinese liquidity - is now the third longest on record...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/02/08/expansion%20duration.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/02/08/expansion%20duration_0.jpg" width="500" height="342" /></a></p> <p>... something which none of the mocking economists pointed out, either now or then, is that in 2009 when Obama took office in the midst of a recession, <strong>the former president projected GDP growth of 3.5% to 4.5% for 2010-2014</strong>, even more optimistic than Trump's "laughable" projections. This is <a href="https://t.co/SLomJM97XZ">what the Fiscal 2010 Budget </a>said on page 173:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>The Administration projects an economic recovery will begin in the second half of the year sparked by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. By the end of the year, real growth is expected to have reached 3-1/2 percent at an annual rate, a pace that is maintained through 2010. <strong>In 2011-2013, the rate of growth in real GDP is projected to accelerate to around 4-1/2 percent annually for several quarters</strong>. This rapid growth is expected to push down the unemployment rate, which is projected to return to 5.0 percent by the end of 2013.</p> </blockquote> <p>Rapid growth indeed: 7 years later the Fed is terrified of hiking rates by 25 bps or else the entire house of hard will collapse. And that is even before Obama's artificial "saved and created" jobs category came into play to "boost" a recovery which even his former White House chief economist said was entirely on the back of part-time workers. </p> <p>Which is not to say that Trump's numbers are fanciful and likely will never be achieved: what is notable however, is that while even a modest dose of optimism unleashes constant mocking from Trump's "impartial" economist critics, not a peep could be heard from them 8 years ago when Obama's forecasts were even more grandiose, not to mention wrong. As <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-27/barack-obama-now-only-president-history-never-have-year-3-gdp-growth">we reported last month</a>, Obama was the only president in history to never have a year of 3% of more GDP growth, let alone 4.5%.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/01/23/20170127_GDP_Obama2.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/01/23/20170127_GDP_Obama2_0.jpg" width="500" height="262" /></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="605" height="328" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/obama%20serious.jpg?1487610915" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/about-those-overly-optimistic-trump-gdp-forecasts-theres-just-one-thing#comments American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Business Climate change skepticism and denial Congress Conservatism in the United States Donald Trump Donald Trump Economic growth Economic policy of Donald Trump Economy None Political debates about the United States federal budget Recession recovery The Apprentice Trump Administration Twitter Twitter Unemployment Unemployment Insurance United States US Federal Reserve White House White House WWE Hall of Fame Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:23:03 +0000 Tyler Durden 588610 at http://www.zerohedge.com "Fake Data": Economists Concerned Trump Administration Will Adopt 'Alternative' Economic Facts http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/fake-data-economists-concerned-trump-administration-will-adopt-alternative-economic- <p>Over the weekend we noted that the Trump administration was considering changing the U.S. trade deficit calculation to exclude re-exports from the US trade balance, a shift that would make America's trade gap appear even greater than it has been in recent years, potentially making future trade skirmishes and wars with America's export-heavy trade partners far more likely (see "<a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-19/white-house-may-change-calculation-us-trade-deficit-boosting-trade-war-odds">White House May Change Calculation Of US Trade Deficit, Boosting Trade War Odds</a>").</p> <p>Of course, Trump has made a habit of questioning certain economic propaganda, including the "phony" unemployment figures.&nbsp; Repeatedly on the campaign trail, Trump questioned the logic of focusing on an unemployment figure that excludes those people who have been unemployed for so long that they've simply given up looking for work, a favorite statistic of President Obama. Per <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-02-20/trump-team-fosters-fears-he-ll-adopt-alternative-economic-facts">Bloomberg</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>“Don’t believe these phony numbers,”</strong> Trump told supporters of the jobless rate in early 2016. <strong>“The number is probably 28, 29, as high as 35 [percent]. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.”</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wII90dqsZrM?ecver=2" width="600" height="337" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin even reinforced the skepticism of the unemployment figures during his Senate confirmation hearing, stating outright that the <strong>“unemployment rate is not real."</strong></p> <p>Now, apparently all the questioning has Washington D.C.'s fragile economists on edge and ready to abandon their cushy government positions over the "demoralizing" attack on their statistics.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>“My biggest concern right now is about the unemployment statistics, just because the White House has been attacking them</strong>, and I know how demoralizing that can be to employees when your statistics are being attacked and when you don’t have anyone at the agency level who can speak up for you and defend you,” Moulton said in a telephone interview last month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>“I could view a situation, if that were to persist, where you could get employees leaving, finding other jobs and that sort of thing just because they find it demoralizing,”</strong> he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Repeated questioning of an agency’s credibility could hamper an already tough recruitment process, especially of younger workers who’ll be especially needed as more baby boomers in the federal government leave the workforce.</p> </blockquote> <p>University of Oregon professor Mark Thoma is even worried that the Trump administration will turn to "fake data" or "alternative facts" should the economy turn south over the next four years.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>“The worst thing he could do -- and I see this as a real danger -- would be to politicize the agencies that produce government economic data, to put people in place that will skew the numbers in his favor,”</strong> Thoma said in a <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/commentary-alternative-facts-and-economic-data/" target="_blank" title="commentary" rel="nofollow noopener">Jan. 24 commentary</a> for CBS MoneyWatch. “If that happens, the data will be useless, and we’ll essentially be flying blind when it comes to the true state of the economy.”</p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, no other President would ever selectively pick economic data to make themselves look better.&nbsp; Just consider Obama's amazing "economic recovery" that he bragged about constantly, the "greatest recovery since the great depression," <strong>the data doesn't lie...</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/05/31/20160301_obama_1.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/05/31/20160301_obama_0.jpg" width="566" height="299" /></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="573" height="375" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017.02.20%20-%20Trump%20Econ%20Data.JPG?1487596738" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/fake-data-economists-concerned-trump-administration-will-adopt-alternative-economic-#comments Balance of trade Barack Obama Donald Trump Economy federal government Great Depression Labor Political positions of Donald Trump Politics Presidency of Donald Trump President Obama recovery Senate Social justice Trade Balance Trade Deficit Trade War Trump Trump Administration Unemployment Unemployment University of Oregon Washington D.C. White House White House Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 588598 at http://www.zerohedge.com Infographic: Bullion Banking Mechanics http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/infographic-bullion-banking-mechanics <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 24px; color: rgb(48, 48, 48); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">Bullion banks are some of the most influential participants in the global gold market. But who are these players and what do they actually do? And most importantly, how can these bullion banks trade thousands of times more gold each year than is actually in existence?</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 24px; color: rgb(48, 48, 48); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">This infographic lifts the lid on bullion banking, looking at the world of fractional-reserve paper gold trading built on the unallocated gold account system. Topics covered include:</p> <ul style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 16px; margin-bottom: 16px; margin-left: 0px; padding-left: 40px; list-style-type: square; color: rgb(48, 48, 48); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;"> <li style="box-sizing: border-box;">The identities of these bullion banks</li> <li style="box-sizing: border-box;">The fractional reserve nature of bullion banking and the paper gold creation process</li> <li style="box-sizing: border-box;">How the staggeringly large paper gold trading volumes are generated</li> <li style="box-sizing: border-box;">The gold price discovery process and how the price of gold is set in London by unallocated trading which channels gold demand away from real physical gold and into paper</li> <li style="box-sizing: border-box;">The secretive nature of the bullion banking club and how its activities in the City of London are deliberately shrouded in secrecy</li> <li style="box-sizing: border-box;">How new competitors into the London Gold Market claim to be providing competition but are actually perpetuating the underlying unallocated gold account system of trading</li> </ul> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 24px; color: rgb(48, 48, 48); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">For more information about the mechanics of bullion banking, please also see BullionStar Gold University article&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bullionstar.com/gold-university/bullion-banking-mechanics" style="box-sizing: border-box; color: rgb(170, 99, 39); text-decoration: underline;">Bullion Banking Mechanics</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.bullionstar.com/blogs/bullionstar/infographic-bullion-banking-mechanics"><img src="https://static.bullionstar.com/blogs/bullionstar/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Bullion-Banking-Infographic.jpg" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Bullion Banking Mechanics &ndash; An infographic hosted at <a href="https://www.bullionstar.com">BullionStar.com</a></p> <h4>To embed this infographic on your site, copy and past the code below</h4> <p><textarea style="width: 100%; height: 180px;">&lt;a href=&quot;https://www.bullionstar.com/blogs/bullionstar/infographic-bullion-banking-mechanics&quot;&gt;&lt;img src=&quot;https://static.bullionstar.com/blogs/bullionstar/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Bullion-Banking-Infographic.jpg&quot; width=&quot;600&quot;&gt;&lt;p&gt;Bullion Banking Mechanics &ndash; An infographic hosted at &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.bullionstar.com&quot;&gt;BullionStar.com&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;</textarea></p> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/infographic-bullion-banking-mechanics#comments Bank Bullion BullionStar Gold University Business Economy Finance Fractional-reserve banking Gold Gold as an investment London bullion market Money Precious metals Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:00:00 +0000 BullionStar 588608 at http://www.zerohedge.com Was The Catalyst Fund Really The Catalyst? http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/was-catalyst-fund-really-catalyst <p><em><a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/petertchir/2017/02/19/was-the-catalyst-fund-really-the-catalyst/#5d8ea8955cf2">Submitted by Brean Capital&#39;s Peter Tchir via Forbes.com,</a></em></p> <p><strong>There was a lot of discussion last week about how the $ 3.5 billion Catalyst Hedged Futures Strategy Fund (ticker: HFXAX) was running the entire stock market.</strong></p> <p>To be frank it is disturbing to me that a fund of this size could be viewed as the key market driver for even a few days, but the chatter was so prevalent that I felt the need to explore it a bit further.</p> <p>Since it is a mutual fund, as opposed to an ETF, the latest positioning data is not helpful in dissecting what is possible but it does verify that the fund&#39;s policy: <strong><em>buy at the money options and funding those purchases by selling even more out of the money options</em></strong> (this is a simplified view of the fund strategy but close enough for examining whether it could have impacted markets).</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/02/19/20170220_catalyst1.jpg"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/02/19/20170220_catalyst1_0.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 294px;" /></a></p> <p><em>Inverse HFXAX versus S &amp; P 500 Since December 1 (source Bloomberg)</em></p> <p>This chart maps the inverse of HFXAX versus the S &amp; P 500 (the blue line ups drawing price declines in HFXAX).</p> <p>Since every of the other has been to overshoot the move in the S &amp; P 500, the S &amp; P 500 - the pink line - moved the first. That move in the S &amp; P present to lead a move</p> <p><em><strong>While this is too small of a sample size to determine causation as opposed to correlation it is compelling enough that you can not simply dismiss the possibility that the Catalyst fund was in fact the catalyst.</strong></em></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/02/19/20170220_catalyst2.jpg"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/02/19/20170220_catalyst2_0.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 294px;" /></a></p> <p><em>Inverse HFXAX versus S &amp; P 500 for 12 months ending Dec 2016 (source Bloomberg)</em></p> <p><strong>Prior to these recent moves, the fund had behaved quite differently relative to the S&amp;P 500. </strong>&nbsp;There was no obvious pattern between the S&amp;P 500 and this fund, at least not to the extent seen recently.</p> <p>In attempting to explain the fund&#39;s recent performance versus the S&amp;P 500</p> <ul> <li> <p>It is possible that the correlations of assets shifted in such a way that the portfolio of trades wasn&#39;t offsetting each other as well as in the past</p> </li> <li> <p>That the overall levels of volatility and relative flatness of some curves had forced them to write increasing amounts of options to cover the premium on those bought</p> </li> <li> <p>That shifts in volatility and curves and correlations all combined to hit this previously steady fund hard</p> </li> </ul> <p><u><em><strong>So it is possible to understand why the fund may suddenly have done so poorly, but could it really have driven the market?</strong></em></u></p> <p>$3.5 billion seems too small at first to drive the entire market (and the manager has been quoted to saying it wasn&#39;t responsible for market moves), but it did act leveraged - with returns of more than 5 times that of the S&amp;P 500 -&nbsp;so it may have acted more like a $20 billion fund - large, but still hopefully too small to drive the market.</p> <p><strong>In all likelihood this particular fund is just a relatively public example of a more widespread strategy - a strategy that was getting hit across the board. </strong>&nbsp;I am more willing to believe the argument that this fund was just one of many funds trading this strategy and that everyone employing this strategy was hit by the same combination of factors and that this widespread unwind was driving the market.</p> <p><u><strong>I want to believe that&nbsp;view, because the alternative, that liquidity has devolved to the point that a relatively small and formerly obscure fund can drive the entire market for days on end is quite scary as both a trader and investor.</strong></u></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="957" height="506" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170216_cat5.jpg?1487602184" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/was-catalyst-fund-really-catalyst#comments Business Economy Finance Financial services Funds Futures Strategy Fund Hedge funds Investment Mathematical finance Money S&P 500 S&P 500 Index Volatility Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:30:11 +0000 Tyler Durden 588607 at http://www.zerohedge.com German Minister Calls For 'Plan B': "Greece Should Pledge Gold, Real Estate For New Loans" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/german-minister-calls-plan-b-greece-should-pledge-gold-real-estate-new-loans <p>Bavaria&#39;s 50-year-old finance minister Markus Soeder was previously named by German weekly Der Spiegel as one of the <strong>Ten Most Dangerous European Politicians</strong> (defined as &quot;every politician who is resorting to cheap populism in order to rack up domestic political points&quot;).</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>For the Greeks, this may well be true.</strong></em></span></p> <p>During the Greek government-debt crisis, Soeder was among the most vocal in calling for Greece to leave the Eurozone. By 2012, he said in an interview: <strong><em>&quot;Athens must stand as an example that this Eurozone can also show teeth.&quot;</em></strong></p> <p>And now, according to an interview with <a href="http://www.bild.de/geld/aktuelles/wirtschaft/soeder-fordert-pfand-bei-weiteren-hilfen-50513136.bild.html">Bild</a>, the CSU politician said that:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>...new billions should only flow when Athens implemented all the reforms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even then, however, aid should<strong> only be given against a pledge &quot;in the form of cash, gold or real estate&quot;. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Soeder added,<em><strong> &quot;We need a plan B.&quot; </strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>One wonders if this was Germany&#39;s end-game all along?</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/02/19/20170220_gold.jpg"><img height="380" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/02/19/20170220_gold.jpg" width="597" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Notably Greek gold reserves stand around EUR4 billion while the supposed &#39;cost&#39; to leaving the EU - according to TARGET2 balances - is around EUR72 billion...</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/02/19/20170220_gold1.jpg"><img height="318" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/02/19/20170220_gold1_0.jpg" width="600" /></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="597" height="380" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170220_gold.jpg?1487605576" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/german-minister-calls-plan-b-greece-should-pledge-gold-real-estate-new-loans#comments B+ Economy Economy of the European Union Europe European Union Eurozone Eurozone Eurozone crisis Germany Greece Greece Greek government Greek government-debt crisis Member states of the European Union Real estate Real-time gross settlement TARGET2 Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:00:08 +0000 Tyler Durden 588606 at http://www.zerohedge.com Bill Gates Embraces "Tax The Robots" Socialist Idiocy: Four Questions For The World's Richest Man http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/bill-gates-embraces-tax-robots-socialist-idiocy-four-questions-worlds-richest-man <p><a href="https://mishtalk.com/2017/02/19/bill-gates-embraces-tax-robots-socialist-idiocy-four-questions-for-gates/"><em>Submitted by Michael Shedlock via MishTalk.com,</em></a></p> <p>I am unsure who first came up with the idea of taxing robots, but<strong> the proposal has been embraced by academia, socialists, and in general, the radical Left.</strong></p> <p>Today, entrepreneur Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, endorsed the idea.</p> <p><strong>What does Gates want to do with the money collected? Here&rsquo;s the answer: Flush it down the toilet.</strong></p> <p><a href="https://mishgea.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/gates-robots.png"><img alt="gates-robots" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-44257" height="287" src="https://mishgea.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/gates-robots.png?w=529&amp;h=287" width="529" /></a></p> <p>In a Quartz interview, Bill Gates proposes <a href="https://qz.com/911968/bill-gates-the-robot-that-takes-your-job-should-pay-taxes/" target="_blank">The robot that takes your job should pay taxes</a>.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Robots are taking human jobs. But Bill Gates believes that governments should tax companies&rsquo; use of them, as a way to at least temporarily slow the spread of automation and to fund other types of employment. It&rsquo;s a striking position from the world&rsquo;s richest man and a self-described techno-optimist who co-founded Microsoft, one of the leading players in artificial-intelligence technology.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a recent interview with Quartz, Gates said that a robot tax could finance jobs taking care of elderly people or working with kids in schools, for which needs are unmet and to which humans are particularly well suited. He argues that governments must oversee such programs rather than relying on businesses, in order to redirect the jobs to help people with lower incomes. The idea is not totally theoretical: EU lawmakers considered a proposal to tax robot owners to pay for training for workers who lose their jobs, though on Feb. 16 the legislators ultimately rejected it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed&rdquo; of automation, Gates argues.</p> </blockquote> <p>Quartz: What do you think of a robot tax? This is the idea that in order to generate funds for training of workers, in areas such as manufacturing, who are displaced by automation, one concrete thing that governments could do is tax the installation of a robot in a factory, for example.</p> <p>Bill Gates:<em><strong> Certainly there will be taxes that relate to automation. Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you&rsquo;d think that we&rsquo;d tax the robot at a similar level.</strong></em></p> <p><u><strong>Fortune on Robot Tax</strong></u></p> <p>Fortune discusses&nbsp;the proposal in&nbsp;<a href="http://fortune.com/2017/02/18/bill-gates-robot-taxes-automation/" target="_blank">Bill Gates Says Robots Should Be Taxed Like Workers</a>.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p class="column small-12 medium-10 medium-offset-1 large-offset-2 _10M0Ygc4">The idea of what amounts to a tax on efficiency would seem anathema to much conventional economic wisdom. For decades, the dominant line on automation has been that displaced workers shift into more productive roles, in turn growing the total economy.</p> <p class="column small-12 medium-10 medium-offset-1 large-offset-2 _10M0Ygc4">&nbsp;</p> <p class="column small-12 medium-10 medium-offset-1 large-offset-2 _10M0Ygc4">But that thesis has begun to show cracks&mdash;as Gates puts it, &ldquo;people are saying that the arrival of that robot is a net loss,&rdquo; demanding greater active engagement with job retraining and other programs that target impacted communities.</p> <p class="column small-12 medium-10 medium-offset-1 large-offset-2 _10M0Ygc4">&nbsp;</p> <p class="column small-12 medium-10 medium-offset-1 large-offset-2 _10M0Ygc4">While Gates resolutely comes down in favor of government&rsquo;s role in managing automation&rsquo;s impacts, he offers two points that should be at least slightly compelling to free marketeers.</p> <p class="column small-12 medium-10 medium-offset-1 large-offset-2 _10M0Ygc4">&nbsp;</p> <p class="column small-12 medium-10 medium-offset-1 large-offset-2 _10M0Ygc4">First, Gates says, the impact of robotics and artificial intelligence in the next 20 years will be a much more concentrated version of the steady, incremental displacement that was common throughout the 20<sup>th</sup> century. The market alone won&rsquo;t be able to deal with the speed of that transition&mdash;and, Gates further suggests, much of the potential for putting free labor to better use will be in the public sector.</p> <p class="column small-12 medium-10 medium-offset-1 large-offset-2 _10M0Ygc4">&nbsp;</p> <p class="column small-12 medium-10 medium-offset-1 large-offset-2 _10M0Ygc4">Second, and probably even more importantly, Gates says automation won&rsquo;t be allowed to thrive if the public resists it.</p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>Tax on Efficiency</strong></u></p> <p>Good grief. It&rsquo;s hard to know where to begin rebutting such idiocy. But the article does raise an important construct regarding a &nbsp;tax on efficiency.</p> <p><u><strong>Four Questions for Gates</strong></u></p> <ol> <li>Retain workers to do what?</li> <li>How will the government, Bill Gates, or anyone else know the correct retraining field?</li> <li>How will the government or anyone else know the number of people needed?</li> <li>Who pays the robot tax?</li> </ol> <p><em><strong>No one can possibly answer the first three questions, accurately. But I can answer the fourth.</strong></em></p> <p>Robots will never pay a tax. And if the owners of robots have to pay a tax, they will have to jack up prices accordingly.</p> <p><u><strong>What Gates is Saying</strong></u></p> <ol> <li>Too much efficiency is a bad thing.</li> <li>Money that buys more goods and services is a bad thing.</li> <li>The government knows better what to do with your money than you do.</li> </ol> <p>Ultimately, consumers will foot 100% of any robot tax.</p> <p>More accurately, consumers will foot far more than 100% of any robot tax collection because government bureaucrats will waste at least 50% of the amount collected while putting funds deployed in wrong areas or by overpaying contracts awarded.</p> <p><u><strong>Convoluted Thinking</strong></u></p> <p>Curiously, Gates argues we need to <strong>tax efficiency to the point it&rsquo;s no longer efficient </strong>or the efficiency will die on its own accord because <strong><em>&ldquo;automation won&rsquo;t be allowed to thrive if the public resists it.&rdquo;</em></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="687" height="361" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170220_robot.jpg?1487598831" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/bill-gates-embraces-tax-robots-socialist-idiocy-four-questions-worlds-richest-man#comments Academia artificial intelligence artificial-intelligence technology Automation Bill Gates Bill Gates Economy European Union Labor Robot Science and technology in the United States Tax Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:32:04 +0000 Tyler Durden 588604 at http://www.zerohedge.com Mattis "We're Not In Iraq To Seize Anybody's Oil" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/mattis-tells-iraq-we-are-not-here-seize-your-oil <p>In the latest distancing by Trump administration advisors from recent statements by the President, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit on Monday to discuss the war effort against ISIS, and said that the US military is not in Iraq "<strong>to seize anybody’s oil." </strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/02/08/mattis%20iraq.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/02/08/mattis%20iraq_0.jpg" width="500" height="278" /></a><br /><em>Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, arrives in Baghdad, February 20, 2017</em></p> <p>Speaking to a small group of reporters traveling with him, Mattis was <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-mattis-idUSKBN15Z0K0">quoted by Reuters as saying </a><strong>“I think all of us here in this room, all of us in America, have generally paid for our gas and oil all along and I’m sure that we will continue to do so in the future." </strong></p> <p>On his first trip to Iraq as Pentagon chief, Mattis is set to assess the war effort against the Islamic State as Iraqi forces launch a new push to evict ISIS militants from their remaining stronghold in the city of Mosul. In Iraq, he is likely to face questions about Trump's remarks and actions, including a temporary ban on travel to the United States and for saying America should have seized Iraq's oil after toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003. Trump told CIA staff in January: "We should have kept the oil. But okay. Maybe you'll have another chance."</p> <p>Trump later clarified his <a href="with ABC">position in an ABC interview</a>. The president said ISIS would not have become a global threat if it hadn’t taken over Iraq’s oil industry when the country was left weakened by the war.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“We should’ve kept the oil when we got out. And, you know, it’s very interesting, had we taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS, because they fuel themselves with the oil. That’s where they got the money. They got the money… when we left, we left Iraq, which wasn’t a government. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We created a vacuum and ISIS formed. But had we taken the oil, something else very good would’ve happened. They would not have been able to fuel their rather unbelievable drive to destroy large portions of the world,” Trump noted, while adding that Iraq’s oil could have been beneficial for the United States too, as the country’s budget has been drained by involvement in Middle East wars.</p> </blockquote> <p>Mattis, however, flatly ruled out any such intent. "<strong>We're not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil," </strong>he told reporters traveling with him, although one wonders if the Bush presidential dynasty would have a strongly differing opinion.</p> <p>His remarks are the latest example of his policy differences with Trump. Trump has acknowledged that Mattis did not agree with him about the usefulness of torture as an interrogation tactic but, in a sign of Mattis' influence, said he would defer the matter to his defense secretary. </p> <p>The retired Marine general, who led American troops in Iraq, said he had sought an exemption from Trump's travel ban for Iraqis who served with U.S. troops, including translators. He said he had not seen a new executive order which the administration is considering. "But I right now am assured that we will take steps to allow those who have fought alongside us, for example, to be allowed into the United States," Mattis said. Mattis has also been more critical than Trump of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and distanced himself from Trump's labeling of the media as "the enemy of the American people," saying he had no problems with the press. </p> <p>* * * </p> <p>Mattis' visit comes one day after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the ground offensive on western Mosul, where Islamic State militants are essentially under siege along with an estimated 650,000 civilians. Last week, Iraqi aircraft dropped millions of leaflets in western Mosul, calling on residents to get ready to welcome the Iraqi troops, as the siege on the militants continues.&nbsp; The insurgents were forced out of the east of the city last month after 100 days of fighting.</p> <p>In October, Iraqi forces, backed by the US-led international coalition, launched a campaign to retake Mosul. Last month the US-led coalition admitted to “unintentionally” killing at least 188 civilians in Syria and Iraq since 2014, when the airstrikes against Islamic State began. As of February 14, 2017, the US-led coalition had conducted a total of 18,250 strikes (11,102 Iraq / 7,148 Syria), the US Department of Defense reported. </p> <p>The U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes U.S.-backed forces will recapture both of Islamic State's major strongholds - Mosul and the city of Raqqa in Syria - within the next six months. The defense secretary's strategy review could lead to additional deployment of U.S. forces, beyond the less than 6,000 American troops deployed to both Iraq and Syria today. </p> <p>Experts say the Pentagon may also look at increasing the number of attack helicopters and air strikes and bringing in more artillery, as well as granting greater authority to battlefield commanders fighting Islamic State.</p> <p>Meanwhile, as Reuters adds, the future for U.S. forces in Iraq, and for Iraq's fragmented society, is unclear once the hardline Sunni group has been expelled from Mosul. Mattis told the Senate last month that the top U.S. goal in Iraq should be "to ensure that it does not become a rump state of the regime in Tehran", which has close ties with the Shi'ite political elite ruling Iraq.</p> <p>A power struggle appears to be taking root between Iraq's Shi'ite leaders. Influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is openly hostile to Washington's policies in the Middle East, has begun mobilizing supporters ahead of parliamentary and provincial elections. </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Sadr on Monday said the government should demand the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces after the battle of Mosul. "The Iraqi government has to demand that all occupying and so-called friendly forces leave Iraq in order to preserve the prestige and the sovereignty of the state," he said. Sadr's main rival is former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, a pro-Iranian politician re-emerging as a possible kingmaker or even for a return to the premiership itself.</p> </blockquote> <p>With Mattis' star status in the international arena rapidly rising, and threatening to soon eclipse that of his boss, it is unclear if Trump will be content to hand over the reigns of foreign policy to his defense secretary even as Rex Tillerson seemingly struggles to decide if he is part of the <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-18/mike-pence-vows-unwavering-support-nato-pledges-hold-russia-accountable">Trump/Bannon or Pence/Mattis axis</a>, or if Trump will seek to pressure the views of retired Marine Corps general into converging with his own. </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="900" height="500" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/mattis%20iraq.jpg?1487602665" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/mattis-tells-iraq-we-are-not-here-seize-your-oil#comments Battle of Mosul Central Intelligence Agency Iraq Iraqi Civil War 2014–present) Iraqi government Iraqi insurgency Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant James Mattis Middle East Middle East Military Military history by country Mosul Mosul offensive Northern Iraq offensive Pentagon Politics Politics of Iraq Reuters Rex Tillerson Senate Terrorism in Iraq Trump Administration U.S. Department of Defense United States Marine Corps US military Vladimir Putin War Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:57:48 +0000 Tyler Durden 588603 at http://www.zerohedge.com What Trump Should Do to Oust McCain http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/what-trump-should-do-oust-mccain <blockquote style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;"><p>Via <a href="http://www.thedailybell.com">The Daily Bell</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>John McCain Becomes Critic in Chief of the Trump Administration ... Senator John McCain has long had a reputation as a political maverick. But with the rise of a president who has vowed to shatter the old order, Mr. McCain has emerged as an outspoken defender of longstanding Republican verities on foreign policy and as one of his party’s most biting critics of the new commander in chief. - New York Times</p> </blockquote> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;">Why doesn't President Trump just confront McCain on his denials that captured troops were left behind in Vietnam? That would be one way to go after McCain and the idea that he is an honorable man. What kind of individual argues for 50 years that there are no prisoners in Vietnam post-war when there probably were at least a thousand or more?</p> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;">For decades, McCain has been in the forefront of denying that Hanoi had prisoners it hadn't released at the end of the war. Hanoi actually kept these troops as bargaining chips subject to further negotiations that never occurred. Now, with both Hanoi and Washington denying such left-behind troops, their chances of their freedom has dwindled&nbsp;to virtually nothing.</p> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;">Sydney Schanberg back in 2010 wrote what is perhaps the most convincingly argued article for additional POWs retained by Hanoi after the end of the war. It has well over ten points developed in detail rebutting McCain's claims.</p> <blockquote style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;"><p>Schanberg has been a journalist for nearly 50 years. The 1984 movie “The Killing Fields,” was based on his book The Death and Life of Dith Pran. In 1975, Schanberg was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting “at great risk.” He is also the recipient of two George Polk awards, two Overseas Press Club awards, and the Sigma Delta Chi prize for distinguished journalism.</p> </blockquote> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;">More from the McCain article at the beginning of this story:</p> <blockquote style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;"><p>Newly re-elected to a six-year term and eager to wield the megaphone that comes with the chairmanship of the powerful Armed Services Committee, Mr. McCain has repeatedly pushed back on the White House’s national security policies in its first weeks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a star turn at a security conference in Munich on Friday, he delivered a forceful critique of President Trump’s “America First” vision before a receptive audience of experts and allied officials worried about American drift from a seven-decade-old Western alliance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Make no mistake, my friends, these are dangerous times,” Mr. McCain said. “But you should not count America out, and we should not count each other out.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“In many respects, this administration is in disarray, and they’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.</p> </blockquote> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;">This is the sort of rhetoric that McCain has been disseminating since Trump got into office. He also challenged Mr. Trump on the issues that media is “the enemy of the American people.” On many subjects he comes down opposite to&nbsp;Trump.</p> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;">This wouldn't be so bad if Trump's positions were horrible. But some of his positions are very good if you believer with Trump that globalists ought not to take over America. Overall, Trump abuses the presidency as much as previous presidents by&nbsp;taking powers that don't belong to him. But in trying tov beat back globalist interference he has been better than any president since Reagan.</p> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;">Right now McCain is the bigger problem because he so obviously believes in much of the globalist agenda. There is little he rejects though he doesn't come right out and say he is an explicit endorser. But he is.</p> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;">Trump could rebut McCain in a number of ways but the most convincing might indeed be via the prisoner issue. Many&nbsp;prisoners were probably left behind in Vietnam though many have probably died by now.</p> <blockquote style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;"><p>In 1990, Col. Millard Peck, a decorated infantry veteran of Vietnam then working at the DIA as chief of the Asia Division for Current Intelligence, asked for the job of chief of the DIA’s Special Office for Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. His reason for seeking the transfer, which was not a promotion, was that he had heard from officials throughout the Pentagon that the POW/MIA office had been turned into a waste-disposal unit for getting rid of unwanted evidence about live prisoners—a “black hole,” these officials called it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Peck explained all this in his telling resignation letter of Feb. 12, 1991, eight months after he had taken the job. He said he viewed it as “sort of a holy crusade” to restore the integrity of the office but was defeated by the Pentagon machine. The four-page, single-spaced letter was scathing, describing the putative search for missing men as “a cover-up.”</p> </blockquote> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;">Schanberg is right to raise the issues of the POW's and McCain is wrong to continue his coverup. On the other hand, there are complicating issues. McCain himself was a POW and quickly and exhaustively cooperated with his captors. There may be personal issues as to why McCain does not want captives returned. He has termed the idea of POWs a "conspiracy theory."</p> <p style="color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; font-size: 16px;"><strong>Conclusion:&nbsp;</strong>McCain obviously has deep anger issues regarding POWs. He is also an advocate of globalism. He is consistently on the wrong side of issues as they occur on the biggest questions of the day. Whatever else Trump does or doesn't do, taking on McCain and effectively removing some of his power would be a big favor. There likely will be an explosion between these two sooner or later, if only because McCain is so angry.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0.25em; margin-bottom: 0.75em; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.3; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; color: #333333;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 24px; line-height: inherit; font-family: Roboto, sans-serif; color: #303030;"><a href="http://www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/the-world-needs-globalization-it-needs-trade/" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: 1.2; font-family: inherit; word-wrap: break-word; color: #222222; outline-style: none; outline-width: 0px;">‘The World Needs Globalization, It Needs Trade’</a>&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0.25em; margin-bottom: 0.75em; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.3; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, &quot;Bitstream Charter&quot;, Times, serif; color: #333333;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 24px; line-height: inherit; font-family: Roboto, sans-serif; color: #303030;"><a href="http://www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/republicans-reeling-in-fed/" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: 1.2; font-family: inherit; word-wrap: break-word; color: #1e439a; outline-style: none; outline-width: 0px;">Republicans Reeling in Fed?</a></span></p> <div class="top-article-title" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 24px; line-height: 26px; font-family: Roboto, sans-serif; color: #303030; text-shadow: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.247059) 0px 1px 0px;"><a href="http://www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/trumps-complications-in-draining-the-swamp/" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: 1.2; font-family: inherit; word-wrap: break-word; color: #1e439a; outline-style: none; outline-width: 0px;">Trump’s Complications in Draining the Swamp<br style="box-sizing: border-box;" />&nbsp;</a></div> <div class="top-article-title" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 24px; line-height: 26px; font-family: Roboto, sans-serif; color: #303030; text-shadow: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.247059) 0px 1px 0px;"><em style="box-sizing: border-box; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit;">and many more, just a click away ...</em></div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-20/what-trump-should-do-oust-mccain#comments Armed Services Committee Asia Division Current Intelligence DIA’s Special office for Prisoners of War and Missing Donald Trump International Republican Institute John McCain John McCain McCain Military Military brats Military personnel national security Nationality New York Times Overseas Press Club Pentagon Political positions of John McCain Recipients of the Legion of Merit Sydney Schanberg Trump Administration United States US Federal Reserve Vietnam War Vietnam War POW/MIA issue War White House Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:57:22 +0000 TDB 588602 at http://www.zerohedge.com