en Greek Debt Relief Deal Fails In Last Minute, As Germany, IMF Clash <p>Stop us if you've heard this story before: insolvent Greece, having last week voted itself into even more austerity in hopes of unlocking some of the money promised it by Brussels so it can then repay use it to repay debt maturities owed to the ECB (whether it will actually follow through with such unpopular measures remains unclear), is dragged to the finish line of yet another Euro finance minister negotiating session with promises that <strong>this time </strong>a debt deal is virtually guaranteed, and then... it all falls apart.</p> <p>That's what <em><strong>again </strong></em>happened today, when Euro-area finance ministers gathered in Brussels with hopes, at least for the Greek delegation, to come home with a signed agreement, only to fail to break the impasse on debt relief for Greece, delaying the conclusion of the country’s bailout review and the disbursement of fresh loans needed to repay obligations in July. </p> <p>“The Eurogroup held an in-depth discussion on the sustainability of Greece’s public debt but did not reach an overall agreement,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who presides over meetings with his euro-area counterparts, and who again failed to reach a solution after <a href="">another hardline stance </a>by his German colleague, Wolfgang Schauble, prevented any potential concessions. As a reminder, ever since the 3rd Greek bailout in the summer of 2015, rhe IMF and Germany have been at odds over Greece’s economic outlook and the amount of debt relief required to assure economic stability: it was the same debate, that prevented a deal from being inked on Monday.</p> <p>The big issue is what happens to the Greek economy after 2018, when the current bailout expires. The IMF, which has demanded debt haircuts in order to fund the ongoing bailout, has repeatedly raised doubts about Greece’s ability to maintain such an optimistic budget performance for decades - it's like Bank of America's forecast for US GDP through 2027 which anticipated precisely zero recessions; meanwhile, key creditors are pushing for a more positive outlook (guess who will be wrong). The reason is that less ambitious fiscal targets would increase the amount of debt relief needed, meanwhile the Greek population continues to suffer.</p> <p>As BLoomberg explained after the latest meeting, the debt measures put on the table by euro area finance ministers <strong>were not enough for the IMF to come on board the Greek bailout, </strong>and unequivocally say that Greece’s debt is sustainable, according to an official familiar with the discussion. </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>There was some movement, though not quite enough, official says, asking not to be named as Eurogroup meeting wasn’t public There’s some frustration with the IMF among euro area finance ministers, pressure on Fund to move will increase over the coming weeks</p> </blockquote> <p>In any case, work will continue in the coming weeks <strong>with the aim of reaching a conclusion on June 15 at the next meeting of ministers</strong>, Dijsselbloem said. </p> <p>Last May, Euro-area finance ministers committed to a set of measures to ease the repayment terms on Greek bailout loans after the end of the program in 2018, but the degree to which these measures will be implemented is still a subject of contention.&nbsp; </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Among the options listed is the extension of maturities on euro-area loans to Greece, as well as the capping and deferral of interest payments. The IMF has said it wants these options to be specified further, so that numbers “add up” and annual Greek debt refinancing needs are kept below clearly defined thresholds</p> </blockquote> <p>According to <a href="">Bloomberg</a>, after eight hours of talks and multiple draft compromises, <strong>Athens and its creditors couldn’t reach an accord that would ease Greece’s debt and that would convince the International Monetary Fund to agree to help finance the country’s bailout</strong>. The IMF has been seeking more debt relief for the country, pushing euro-area creditors to ensure the sustainability of Greece’s €315 billion ($354 billion) of obligations before it participates in the program. Some nations including Germany object to a debt restructuring while also insisting that the Washington-based fund join the program to lend credibility to the bailout.</p> <p>The reason why the can was kicked again is that Greece doesn’t have a large maturity deadline until July, when €7 billion euros in obligations come due, and Europe has a habit of waiting until the last moment before disbursing the funds that Athens will then turn around and use to repay the ECB. </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="333" /></a></p> <p>Delaying resolution of the program review adds to months of uncertainty that have taken their toll on the Greek economy - which has slipped back into recession --and kept the country from returning to the bond market.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="281" /></a></p> <p>Recession notwithstanding, Dijsselbloem also said the parties agreed on a target for Greece’s primary surplus, which excludes interest payments, of 3.5% of gross domestic product until 2022. Which is funny: it was Mario Draghi's secret deals with Greece when he was still part of Goldman, that masked the Greek debt mountain, and made the country's surplus appear artificially high. The eventual result was not one, not two, but three Greek bailouts.</p> <p>“The Greek authorities are taking their responsibilities and I think the partners of Greece are also taking their own responsibilities,” European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said. “There’s been a shared effort to narrow the gap between positions -- we haven’t yet concluded but I hope under the guidance of the president of the Eurogroup it will possible three weeks from now.”</p> <p>Additional debt relief is also needed for the ECB to include Greek bonds in its asset purchases program, which would ease the country’s access to bond markets, and is the reason why last week, Greek lawmakers approved more austerity measures in hopes of mollifying creditors, including pension cuts, tax hikes and other structural economic reforms. The resulting hope that Greece would be included in the ECB's QE was the longest winning streak in Greek capital markets in years. </p> <p>For now, however, Greece has to wait, most likely until the very last minute before the €7 billion in July obligations come due.</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="600" height="392" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bailout Bond Business Capital Markets Creditors Economy Economy of Greece Economy of the European Union Eurogroup European Central Bank European Union European Union European Union Eurozone Eurozone crisis Fail Germany Government debt Greece Greek government-debt crisis Gross Domestic Product International Monetary Fund International Monetary Fund International Monetary Fund Jeroen Dijsselbloem Recession Tue, 23 May 2017 01:15:33 +0000 Tyler Durden 596451 at Why The Chinese Yuan Won't Be The World's Reserve Currency <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Valentin Schmid via The Epoch Times,</em></a></p> <p>Whenever someone gets too big and too important, <em><strong>the other players who&nbsp;can&rsquo;t compete by themselves call for a challenger.</strong></em> This is true in sports, business, and even for currencies.</p> <p>Because the dollar is so big and important, smaller countries were happy when the euro was launched to provide a counterbalance, if not to challenge the dollar&rsquo;s position outright.</p> <p><strong>The euro ultimately provided that counterbalance, but never managed to dethrone the dollar as the world&rsquo;s foremost reserve currency.</strong> The euro is used in 30 percent of all global payments, according to payment provider SWIFT; the dollar is still number one, at 40 percent.</p> <p>But what about the Chinese currency, the yuan, the one that investment bank HSBC predicted would become the third-largest global trade currency by 2015&mdash;<strong>is it the ultimate challenger to the dollar&rsquo;s top status? Not so much.</strong></p> <p><strong><a href=""><img height="316" src="" width="594" /></a></strong></p> <p>Only 16 percent of Chinese trade is settled in yuan, or renminbi (RMB), and the share of global payments ranks sixth at only 1.78 percent, behind the dollar, euro, pound, yen, and even the Canadian dollar.</p> <p><strong>To be fair, China&rsquo;s leadership never called for the yuan to overtake the dollar. It was mainly Western cheerleaders like HSBC&nbsp;that looked at the country&rsquo;s economic growth and applied it to the currency.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Many pundits also thought the yuan would take a stronger role after Donald Trump&rsquo;s election last November.</p> <p><strong><em>&ldquo;No longer is the U.S. dollar the only haven of safety. There is an alternative&mdash;renminbi,&rdquo; </em></strong>Daryl Guppy, CEO of the Guppytraders financial market training platform, told&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow">CNBC in November</a>.&nbsp;</p> <h2><u>Reserve Qualities</u></h2> <p><strong><em>But what does a currency have to be&nbsp;or do to become the world&rsquo;s reserve currency? Will the yuan ever qualify, and is the Chinese leadership pushing to replace the dollar?</em></strong></p> <p>According to a report by investment bank Natixis,<strong><em> there are four functions a successful currency needs to fulfill for both the private and the public sectors.</em></strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><u><strong>The first is being a medium of exchange.</strong></u> For private sector payments, we already saw that the RMB&rsquo;s share is minuscule compared to the euro and dollar. Even the RMB&rsquo;s use in trade with and investment into China is relatively small and no longer growing, according to the report.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Public sector payments between governments and central banks are conducted via central bank swap lines. They allow central banks of different countries to issue money that is not their own. For example, during the financial crisis of 2008, the Federal Reserve provided the world&rsquo;s central bank with as much as <a href="" rel="nofollow">$620 billion in liquidity</a>. China&rsquo;s swap lines amount to $430 billion, but are hardly ever used.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>The second function is being a store of value,</strong></u> so that private players can invest their money in yuan assets like stocks and bonds and preserve their purchasing power. Also here, foreign ownership of Chinese equities is not very large, at around 0.8 percent, and for Chinese bonds, only slightly larger at 2 percent. Foreign bank deposits and loans into China have also been falling since 2014.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For the public sector store of value, that is, global central banks&rsquo; holding of foreign currency, the yuan&rsquo;s share is 1 percent, despite the admission to the International Monetary Fund&rsquo;s (IMF) special drawing rights (SDR) basket late in 2016. The dollar still takes the lion&rsquo;s share at 64 percent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>The third function is the so-called unit of account.</strong></u> This means that trade invoices, for example, are issued in RMB and then paid in RMB rather than dollars. Also here, even for Australia, one of China&rsquo;s biggest trading partners, only 0.5 percent of exports to China are invoiced in RMB.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For the official unit of account, another country would need to peg its currency to the RMB, but given China&rsquo;s relatively closed capital account, this hasn&rsquo;t happened yet. At least the RMB is now part of the SDR, which functions as a unit of account for the IMF, but it only has a 10.9 percent weight.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>Lastly, the currency needs to have developed fixed income markets</strong></u> where payments can be parked in the form of bank deposits or bonds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And while local Chinese corporate bond issuance is strong, foreigners aren&rsquo;t buying into it, and the Chinese government bond market remains small in comparison to those in the United States and Europe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Furthermore, bank deposits in RMB in the so-called global clearing centers are also falling. In Hong Kong, for example, only 5 percent of all bank deposits are in RMB and 37 percent in dollars.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" /></a></p> <p><em>Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People&rsquo;s Bank of China, in Beijing on March12, 2015. Unlike Western pundits, the Chinese central bank never wanted the yuan to replace the dollar.&nbsp;&nbsp;(Feng Li/Getty Images)</em></p> <p>This, however, is not a disappointment for the Chinese regime, <strong><em>but rather for their Western cheerleaders.</em></strong> The Chinese have always favored an international solution to replace the U.S. dollar, namely in the form of the SDR, as China&rsquo;s central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan called for <a href="" rel="nofollow">in a 2009 speech</a> at the Council on Foreign Relations.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;The desirable goal of reforming the international monetary system, therefore, is to create an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations,&rdquo; he said.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Disconnected from the dollar, yes - <u><strong>but not connected to the yuan.</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="594" height="316" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Australia Bond Business Canadian Dollar Central bank Central Banks China Chinese government Council on Foreign Relations Currency Donald Trump Economy Federal Reserve fixed Foreign exchange market Hong Kong International Monetary Fund International Monetary Fund International trade Monetary hegemony Money People's Bank of China Purchasing Power Renminbi Renminbi Reserve Currency Reserve currency Special drawing rights State Administration of Foreign Exchange SWIFT US Federal Reserve Yen Yuan Yuan Tue, 23 May 2017 00:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 596439 at Ponzi Scheme: What The Chicago Teachers' Pension Would Be Called If It Were A Hedge Fund <p>A long, long time ago, back in 2008 when most of today's hedge fund analysts were still stressing over what to wear to prom, a man named Bernard Madoff was arrested for bilking unsuspecting investors out of $65 billion.&nbsp; Madoff ran what is traditionally referred to as a ponzi scheme in which new investments were solicited as a means to fund massive redemptions that otherwise would have resulted in a collapse of his fund long before the FBI finally caught up with his scheme.&nbsp; </p> <p>But, Madoff was eventually caught and in 2009 he was sentenced to 150 years in prison for his scheme.&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>Ironically, many of our states and cities today are running very similar ponzi schemes (aka "massively underfunded pension funds"), using taxpayer money nonetheless, but it's completely legal and not many people seem to notice and/or care.&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>Take, for example, the <a href="">Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund</a> ("CTPF") which has roughly $10 billion in assets to cover $21 billion in future payment obligations.&nbsp; The fund has to payout roughly $1.4 billion to retirees each year to cover benefits.&nbsp; That said, in 2016 it actually lost $28 million on it's $10 billion in assets.&nbsp; </p> <p>So how did they make up the difference?&nbsp; Well, the CTPF simply took the $700 million that was contributed to the fund in 2016 from taxpayers and the $192 million contributed by teachers from their paychecks, money that was intended to be invested until those teachers retired, and gave it to current retirees.&nbsp; <strong>Put another way, just like Madoff, the CTPF takes money from 'new investors' (current teachers) and uses it to fund redemptions (benefit payments to retirees) even though the managers of the fund know that current claims don't have a chance of ever being paid in full.&nbsp; </strong></p> <p><a href=" - Chicago Pension 2.jpg"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 672px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, you could argue that returns in 2016 were not normal which, for the sake of Chicago's taxpayers, we hope is true.&nbsp; That said, even if the fund earns the 5.6% returns that it's averaged for the past 10 years going forward, it will still have to borrow roughly $850 million from new contributions each year just to cover annual benefit payments.&nbsp; </p> <p>As a side note, we would point out that Chicago's teachers have made roughly 1.4% off their investments in hedge funds, on average, over the past 5 years...which is probably just under the 1.5% management fee they pay to those same hedge funds.&nbsp; </p> <p><a href=" - Chicago Pension 1.jpg"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 525px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, you could also argue that reducing principal balances could be justified to the extent the number of future retirees is expected to decline versus current retirees.&nbsp; Unfortunately, that argument is also flawed as the number of current teachers actually exceeds the number of current retirees...not to mention the fact that their salaries, and therefore future benefit packages, are nearly double those of current benefit recipients.</p> <p><a href=" - Chicago Pension 3.JPG"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 239px;" /></a></p> <p><em>Source:&nbsp; <a href="">Chicago City Wire</a>.</em></p> <p>Of course, like most financial grenades with a huge tail risk, the devastating consequences of America's failed public pensions will not be addressed until it's already too late.&nbsp; Unfortunately, with ~$5 trillion in underfunded pension obligations in the public sector alone, the pension catastrophe will be too large for even America's overly generous taxpayers to bail out. </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="998" height="522" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bernard Madoff Bernard Madoff Business Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund Confidence tricksters Economics FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Finance Fraud Hedge fund Labor Madoff investment scandal Money NASDAQ Pension fund Pension Fund Pensions Ponzi scheme Social Issues Tue, 23 May 2017 00:20:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 596438 at Pope Francis Lashes Out At "Grave Risks" Of Libertarianism <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Antonius Aquinas,</em></a></p> <p><strong>The purported pope of the Catholic Church recently attacked &ldquo;libertarianism.&rdquo;&nbsp;</strong> As a number of theologians have ably shown, Jorge Bergoglio, a.k.a Pope Francis, cannot be a legitimate pope since he was neither ordained as a priest or consecrated as a bishop in the traditional Catholic rite of Holy Orders.&nbsp; And, since he is not a bishop, he cannot be &ldquo;bishop of Rome&rdquo; &ndash; a prerequisite for being the head of the universal Church.</p> <p><strong>While &ldquo;technically&rdquo; he is not the pope, Bergoglio is a notorious heretic who has said a mind-boggling number of heresies,</strong> engaged in the most scandalous of actions, and has attempted to change doctrine and Church teaching.&nbsp; He is not the pope since a heretic is necessarily outside the Church and, thus, cannot hold ecclesiastical office, especially that of supreme pontiff.</p> <p>If Bergoglio&rsquo;s &ldquo;invalidity&rdquo; is not damnable enough,<strong> &ldquo;Pope Francis&rdquo; is a neo-Marxist who has repeatedly called for the redistribution of wealth, promoted mass migration, and has denigrated capitalism, accusing it of impoverishing the poor.</strong></p> <p>Naturally, with such a dossier, Bergoglio would be hostile to the concept of libertarianism.&nbsp; And, as a skillful demagogue, he has deliberately mischaracterized the subject.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="316" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>In a message to a meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Bergoglio harshly stated:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&ldquo;I cannot fail to speak of the grave risks associated with the invasion of the positions of libertarian individualism at high strata of culture and in school and university education.&rdquo;*</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>If Bergoglio thinks that higher education is infected with &ldquo;libertarian individualism,&rdquo; he is more delusional than he has been given credit for!&nbsp; Academia has long been a bastion of collectivist thought.&nbsp; Libertarianism and, for that matter, conservative ideas have little voice in higher education.&nbsp; Moreover, Western culture is dominated by the ideals of social democracy, a philosophy that is anathema to libertarianism and also to real Catholicism, not the kind that is preached by imposters such as &ldquo;Pope Francis!&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>It is probably deliberate that Bergoglio uses the word &ldquo;invasion&rdquo; in his description as he subtly mocks his audience.</strong>&nbsp; The only invasion that has happened is not a takeover of academia by free-markets zealots, but by the millions of &ldquo;asylum seekers&rdquo; that have been thrust upon European soil which has been encouraged and orchestrated by the likes of multiculturalists such as Jorge Bergoglio.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;[T]he libertarian individual denies the value of the common good,&rdquo; </strong>Bergoglio continues, &ldquo;because on the one hand he supposes that the very idea of &lsquo;common&rsquo; means the constriction of at least some individuals, and on the other hand that the notion of &lsquo;good&rsquo; deprives freedom of its essence.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, to arch collectivists like &ldquo;Pope Francis,&rdquo; the common good always trumps individual rights.&nbsp; While he does not explicitly say it, the &ldquo;common good&rdquo; means for the good of the state, and for those who place their own self interest or that of their family before the state&rsquo;s interest, they are to be ostracized or worse.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Libertarianism to Bergoglio is an &ldquo;antisocial radicalization of individualism&rdquo; </strong>that &ldquo;leads to the conclusion that everyone has the right to extend himself as far as his abilities allow him even at the cost of the exclusion and marginalization of the more vulnerable majority.&rdquo;&nbsp; By living &ldquo;independently of others&rdquo; a person can attain freedom.</p> </blockquote> <p>Once again, as he had done throughout his &ldquo;papacy&rdquo; Bergoglio demonstrates that he is an economic ignoramus who does not grasp a basic tenet of social relationships.</p> <p><strong>Libertarians are proponents of the market economy and markets are the result of the division of labor, specialization, and exchange.&nbsp;</strong> Society, in part, is the amalgamation of numerous markets and advanced societies are ones with a highly developed division of labor.&nbsp; Overwhelming empirical evidence has shown that such societies are not only richer, but are more culturally advanced than self- sufficient societies (autarky) where individuals produce everything for themselves.</p> <p>In such an order, an individual produces or provides services which he does best.&nbsp; Since he does not produce everything himself, he, therefore, depends and needs to interact with others in exchange of goods he does not produce.&nbsp; In the market economy, very few live &ldquo;independently of others&rdquo; as Bergoglio stupidly believes, but must rely and depend on their fellow man.&nbsp; Even entrepreneurs, who Bergoglio implicitly condemns in the above passage, have to rely on consumers to patronize their products and services or they will quickly go out of business.</p> <p>Bergoglio, of course, does not understand that there are many shades of libertarianism running a wide spectrum of social, political and economic thought.&nbsp; If there is a common theme among libertarians, it is opposition to the modern state and the welfare/warfare system upon which it rests.&nbsp; The modern state will not tolerate any competition for the minds, hearts, and souls of men.</p> <p><strong>Until the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the Church recognized that the modern state was not only its enemy, but the enemy of mankind.&nbsp; </strong>In this respect, the Church had common ground with the libertarian and conservative movements of the 20<sup>th</sup> century.</p> <p>The Second Vatican Council and the &ldquo;reforms&rdquo; which came in its wake produced an environment that has led to the likes of cretins like Jorge Bergoglio who has not only repeatedly blasphemed the Divine Founder of the institution in which he supposedly heads, but regularly spews out all sorts of discredited neo-Marxist nonsense.</p> <p><strong>While &ldquo;Pope Francis&rdquo; condemns libertarianism, the solution to the financial, political, and many of the social problems which confront the Western world will only be solved by &ldquo;libertarian means&rdquo;</strong> &ndash; a gold/silver monetary standard, political decentralization/secession, de-militarization/non-intervention, free trade, and the application of private property rights to the migration crisis.</p> <p><em><strong>For the good of mankind, not only should Jorge Bergoglio be ignored as supreme Roman pontiff, but he should likewise be ignored when speaking on any and all public policy matters.</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="666" height="351" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Cardinals created by Pope John Paul II Catholic Church Catholic Church Fail Libertarians Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences Pope Francis Second Vatican Council Society of Jesus Mon, 22 May 2017 23:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 596437 at Seth Rich Plot Thickens: "DC Insider" Speaks Of "Complete Panic" At Highest Levels Of DNC <p>Last week, <a href="">Fox News</a> dropped a bombshell report officially confirming, via anonymous FBI sources, what many had suspected for quite some time, that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was the WikiLeaks source for leaks which proved that the DNC was intentionally undermining the campaign of Bernie Sanders. In addition to exposing the corruption of the DNC, the leaks cost Debbie Wasserman Shcultz her job as Chairwoman.</p> <p>Of course, if it's true that WikiLeaks' emails came from a DNC insider it would end the "Russian hacking" narrative that has been perpetuated by Democrats and the mainstream media for the past several months.&nbsp; Moreover, it would corroborate the one confirmation that Julian Assange has offered regarding his source, namely that it was "not a state actor."</p> <p>Meanwhile, the plot thickened a little more over the weekend when Kim Dotcom confirmed via Twitter that he was working with Seth Rich to get leaked emails to WikiLeaks.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">I knew Seth Rich. I know he was the <a href="">@Wikileaks</a> source. I was involved. <a href=""></a></p> <p>— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) <a href="">May 20, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Which was followed up by the following posts on 4Chan’s /pol/ subgroup that high-ranking current and former Democratic Party officials are terrified of the Seth Rich murder investigation.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“Anons, I work in D.C.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>I know for certain that the Seth Rich case has scared the shit out of certain high ranking current and former Democratic Party officials.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is the reason why they have backed away from impeachment talk. They know the smoking gun is out there, and they’re terrified you will find it, because when you do it will bring the entire DNC, along with a couple of very big name politicians.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>It appears that certain DNC thugs were not thorough enough when it came time to cover their tracks. </strong>Podesta saying he wanted to “make an example of the leaker” is a huge smoking gun.”</p> </blockquote> <p>The post went on to claim that a <strong>"smoking gun in this case is out of the hands of the conspirators" which has resulted in near "open panic" in DC circles.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>“The behavior is near open panic.</strong> To even mention this name in D.C. Circles [sic] will bring you under automatic scrutiny. To even admit that you have knowledge of this story puts you in immediate danger.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If there was no smoke there would be no fire. <strong>I have never, in my 20 years of working in D.C. Seen [sic] such a panicked reaction from anyone.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>I have strong reason to believe that the smoking gun in this case is out o [sic] the hands of the conspirators, and will be discovered by anon.</strong> I know for certain that Podesta is deeply concerned. He’s been receiving anonymous calls and emails from people saying they know the truth. Same with Hillary.”</p> </blockquote> <p>And here is the original tweet:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">An Anon working in DC says that he's seeing people in a panic like never before about <a href="">#SethRich</a>.</p> <p>They know their about to be exposed. <a href=""></a></p> <p>— /pol/ News Forever (@polNewsForever) <a href="">May 21, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, Kim Dotcom has promised more information will be released on his interaction with Seth Rich by tomorrow.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">I'm meeting my legal team on Monday. I will issue a statement about <a href="">#SethRich</a> on Tuesday. Please be patient. This needs to be done properly.</p> <p>— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) <a href="">May 20, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This raises several questions.&nbsp; First, if Kim Dotcom knew that Seth Rich was, in fact, the WikiLeaks source, <strong>why is he just now coming forward with such information</strong>?&nbsp; Second, while Seth Rich may explain the DNC leaks we still don't know who is responsible for the "Podesta Files" which we're certain will continue to be attributed to "Russian hackers."</p> <p>Which leads to the most improtant queistion of all: is this all just another fake news diversion, or is there more to the Seth Rich murder?</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="577" height="348" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Activism Anonymous Bernie Sanders Computing Corruption Debbie Wasserman Schultz Democratic National Committee Democratic Party Espionage FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Fox News Julian Assange KIM Murder of Seth Rich National security Politics Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Twitter Twitter WikiLeaks Mon, 22 May 2017 23:51:53 +0000 Tyler Durden 596404 at Trump's Budget Will Slash $1.7 Trillion In Entitlements, Cut Food Stamps By 25% <p>More details from President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal are trickling out via a flurry of overnight reports from The Washington Post, Associated Press and Bloomberg News.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 500px; height: 282px;" /></a></p> <p>Here are some of the highlights from the latest batch of trial balloons:</p> <ul> <li>The budget will slash $1.7 trillion in spending on entitlement programs, <a href="">according to Bloomberg.</a></li> <li>Trump’s budget will include a massive nearly $200 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the modern version of food stamps, over the next 10 years <strong>– what amounts to a 25% reduction, <a href="">according to The Washington Post.</a></strong></li> <li>The food stamp cuts are part of a broader $274 billion welfare-reform effort, according to <a href="">a report by The Associated Press.</a></li> <li>The budget calls for about $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid for fiscal year 2018, WaPo reported.</li> <li>The budget also calls for $2.6 billion in border security spending, $1.6 billion of which will be earmarked for Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.’s southern border.</li> <li>The budget is also expected to propose major domestic discretionary spending cuts - an earlier version of the budget called for $54 billion in such cuts next year alone.</li> </ul> <p>Predictably, Democrats are already up in arms over the proposal, even though a formal draft isn’t expected until Tuesday.</p> <p>In a statement cited by Bloomberg, New York Senator Senator Chuck Schumer clumsily compared Trump’s campaign rhetoric to a “Trojan Horse.”</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“This budget continues to reveal President Trump’s true colors: His populist campaign rhetoric was just a Trojan horse to execute long-held, hard-right policies that benefit the ultra-wealthy at the expense of the middle class,” Bloomberg noted.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, at least Trump didn't promise that if Americans liked their healthcare plan, they can keep it.</p> <p>To be sure, Republicans have also expressed some discomfort with the cuts, particularly Trump’s plan to whack $54 billion in discretionary spending. Mitch McConnell even told Bloomberg that Congressional Republicans would ultimately end up writing their own budget, the same way Senate Republicans are rewriting Obamacare repeal.</p> <p>Trump has promised to balance the federal government’s budget in 10 years, though, as Democrats have noted, the projection is dependent on economic growth accelerating to 3% following the passage of massive tax cuts, and no recession over the next decade, a rather bold assumption. Meanwhile, growth <a href="http://More details of Trump’s first proposed budget as president are trickling out, according to reports from The Washington Post, Associated Press and Bloomberg News that, true to form, rely mostly on anonymous White House sources. Here’s a quick run-down of Trump’s latest budgetary trial balloons: -The budget will salsh $1.7 trillion in spending on entitlement programs over the coming decade, according to Bloomberg. -Trump’s budget will include a massive nearly $200 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the modern version of food stamps, over the next 10 years – what amounts to a 25% reduction, according to The Washington Post. -The food stamp cuts are part of a broader $274 billion welfare-reform effort, according to another report by The Associated Press. -The budget calls for about $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid for fiscal year 2018, WaPo reported. - The budget also calls for $2.6 billion in border security spending, $1.6 billion of which will be earmarked for Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.’s southern border. - The budget is also expected to propose major domestic discretionary spending cuts - an earlier version of the budget called for $54 billion in such cuts next year alone.- - Predictably, Democrats are already up in arms over the proposal, even though a formal draft isn’t expected until Tuesday. In a statement cited by Bloomberg, New York Senator Senator Chuck Schumer clumsily compared Trump’s campaign rhetoric to a “Trojan Horse.” “This budget continues to reveal President Trump’s true colors: His populist campaign rhetoric was just a Trojan horse to execute long-held, hard-right policies that benefit the ultra-wealthy at the expense of the middle class,” Bloomberg noted. To that we say: Remember when President Obama promised that patients would be able to keep their doctor under Obamacare? Republicans have also expressed some discomfort with the cuts – particularly, Trump’s plan to whack $54 billion in discretionary spending. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Bloomberg that Congressional Republicans would ultimately end up writing their own budget. Trump’s first budget also promises to balance the federal government’s budget in 10 years, though, as Democrats have noted, the projection is dependent on economic growth accelerating to 3% following the passage of massive tax cuts. Growth during the first quarter slowed to just 0.7% when calculated at an annua In its report, WaPo characterizes this as an unlikely outcome. After all: Since the crisis, growth has been chugging along at an annualized rate of about 2%. It should come as no surprise that this is a spurious implication: Trump released a broad-strokes rundown of his planned tax cuts, which will be fleshed out in more detail in his budget proposal. It suggests that Trump is making good on his promise to The White House will issue a formal budget request on Tuesday">collapsed to an annualized rate of just 0.7% in the fist quarter, the slowest rate in three years, </a>while loan demand has plunged to the lowest level in 6 years. Meanwhile, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget claims that <a href="">rather than reining it in our national debt, Trump's tax cuts would make the debt much worse.</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="842" height="475" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bloomberg News Business Donald Trump Economy federal government Fiscal policy National Debt Obamacare Political debates about the United States federal budget Politics Presidency of Barack Obama Recession Social Issues United States United States federal budget Mon, 22 May 2017 23:38:53 +0000 Tyler Durden 596392 at Solar-Energy Company Sunrun Lied To Investors To Boost Its IPO Price <p>The largest solar-energy company in the U.S. has been called out by The Wall Street Journal for manipulating <strong>a key sales metric shortly to try and boost the company&#39;s share price ahead of its IPO.</strong></p> <p>In a report published Monday, <a href="">WSJ got the jump on investigators at the SEC</a>, who had announced their own investigation into shady reporting practices at solar-energy companies earlier this month. WSJ alleges that Sunrun Inc., the largest solar-energy company in the U.S., encouraged its managers to delay reporting hundreds of contract cancellations - figures that would&#39;ve prominently factored into the company&#39;s sales metrics - during the months leading up to the company&rsquo;s August 2015 IPO.</p> <p>Sunrun&#39;s shares have dramatically underperformed in recent years as solar demand in California, the U.S.&#39;s largest market, has slowed, contributing to a string of bankruptcies. Sunrun shares recently traded at $4.91, about one-third of their IPO price.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 263px;" /></a><br />The SEC is also investigating Elon Musk&rsquo;s Solar City for engaging in similarly shady reporting practices, WSJ reported earlier this onth.</p> <p>The paper hangs the story on on Darren Jennings, a former manager at the company who says he was pressured to delay reporting more than 200 cancellations - amounting ot a whopping 40% of total orders - while working for the firm in Hawaii, it&rsquo;s biggest market, and three other former managers. Solar firms typically give customers a few days after installation to reconsider.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;The big internal push was to cram as many sales as we could through the pipeline,&rdquo; Jennings said. &ldquo;If those deals cancelled, we would not report it.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>When approached by WSJ, Lynn Jurich, Sunrun&rsquo;s chief executive and co-founder and Edward Fenster, Sunrun&rsquo;s co-founder and chairman, both declined to comment.<br />However, they did provide a statement to WSJ &ndash; but it didn&rsquo;t directly address the allegations <strong>that the pair had overseen a managerial culture where employees were encouraged to misreport material information and mislead investors, all to try and boost the offering price.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div> <p>Jurich said the company &ldquo;reviewed the digital audit trail in our systems&rdquo; and &ldquo;turned up no evidence that our sales employees changed cancellation dates in our systems to delay the reporting of cancellations.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I proudly stand by Sunrun&rsquo;s workplace culture, our values and our unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction and the principle of integrity upon which our company was founded.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Solar City was headed for bankruptcy when Musk -<a href=""> who had installed his cousin, Lyndon Rive, at the helm of the perpetual cash burner</a> &ndash; announced last June that Tesla Inc. would step in and buy the troubled energy company, combining two firms where Musk is the largest shareholder, <strong>raising questions about whether the acquisition was really in the best interest of Tesla&#39;s other shareholders.</strong></p> <p>It&#39;s important to note that the solar energy industry as a whole has developed a reputation for shadiness that stretches beyond these two firms: <a href="">As WSJ reports,</a> many have complained about solar companies&#39; aggressive sales tactics, with WSJ reporting one incident where a sales representatives literally following people home from Home Depot Inc.</p> <p>And let&rsquo;s not forget about &ldquo;Solyndra-gate,&rdquo; when the Obama Administration approved <a href="">a more than $500 million loan to solar energy firm Solyndra,</a> only to see it file for bankruptcy soon after, leaving taxpayers on the hook.</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="773" height="406" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Business California Economy of the United States Elon Musk Initial public offering Obama Administration Obama administration Solar energy in California SolarCity Solyndra Sunrun Technology Tesla, Inc. The Wall Street Journal U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Wall Street Journal Mon, 22 May 2017 23:35:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 596424 at OPEC Thinks Deeper Cuts Might Not Be Required <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Irina Slav via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>The addition of another couple of smaller producers to the OPEC-non-OPEC oil production cut deal will be enough to bring global supply to a more acceptable level. </strong>That&rsquo;s what Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih <a href="">said</a>&nbsp;at a news conference in Riyadh.</p> <p>The reduction will take the whole nine months of the output cut extension that should be announced next week at OPEC&rsquo;s Vienna meeting, Al-Falih said.<strong> </strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>&ldquo;We believe that continuation with the same level of cuts, plus eventually adding one or two small producers &hellip; will be more than adequate to bring the five-year balance to where they need to be by the end of the first quarter 2018.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The initial deal failed to bring supply back within the limits of the five-year average, which is considered by OPEC to be a fair measure of oil&rsquo;s fundamentals.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="316" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>The new potential additions to the deal were not named, </strong>but there are also reports that OPEC may deepen the cuts, <a href="">according</a>&nbsp;to Reuters. This pushed prices up, so both Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate started the week with gains. For now, the prospect of deeper as well as more extensive cuts is only a rumor, but it could turn into reality as OPEC is eager to demonstrate its willingness to do whatever it takes to prop up prices.&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile,<strong> shale producers are continuing to boost their production, </strong>with Goldman Sachs reporting a staggering 128-percent increase in the number of active drilling rigs since May. In absolute terms, the increase is of 404 rigs, allowing the shale patch to increase output to 9.3 million bpd, or 10 percent more than in mid-2016. This has the U.S. breathing down Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s neck as the world&rsquo;s third-largest producer, and raises the stakes for the output cut extension.</p> <p><img height="311" src="" width="600" /></p> <p>If the U.S. continues to build production, which in all likelihood it will, and with Nigeria and Libya also boosting their crude output,<strong> the rest of OPEC, Russia, and their partners face an uphill battle to keep prices rising over the second half of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018.</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="966" height="508" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Cartels Chronology of world oil market events Crude Economy Energy crisis Energy economics goldman sachs Goldman Sachs OPEC OPEC Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries Petroleum industry Reality Reuters Saudi Arabia West Texas World oil market chronology from Mon, 22 May 2017 23:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 596432 at Trump Asked Intel Officials To Help "Push Back" Against Russia Probe: WaPo <p>President Donald Trump is in Israel, but back home,<a href=";utm_term=.64f14e6df27d"> the Washington Post just released</a> the latest anonymously sourced takedown. This time, the paper is <strong>alleging that Trump also asked two of his own appointees</strong>, National Security Agency head Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, for help &quot;pushing back&quot; against the Russian investigation, in other word, obstructing justice.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 282px;" /></a></p> <p>Once again, the report relies on anonymous &ldquo;current and former&rdquo; officials who were writing down notes of their convesations with Trump in real time in personal notebooks. <a href=";utm_term=.1965e22dc7c0">WaPo reports:</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intellifence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Trump sought their assistance after former FBI Director James Comey testified to the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 that the FB was investigating any links between the Trump campaign and Russian government, WaPo noted.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Trump&rsquo;s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is unclear if a similar memo was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to document Trump&rsquo;s conversation with Coats.<strong> Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russia investigation and congressional investigators,</strong> who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI&rsquo;s work.</p> </blockquote> <p>Coats and Rogers both deemed the request &ldquo;inappropriate&rdquo; and &ldquo;refused to comply,&rdquo; WaPo noted, citing two current and two former officials - who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 256px;" /></a></p> <p>The editors at WaPo are probably celebrating their latest scoop that will likely be confirmed by the NYT and CNN in short order, and it is clear that the implications of WaPo&#39;s allegations are that Trump is impeachable.</p> <p>But we maintain that these anonymously-sourced, second-hand stories are a problem, and just the other day Rolling Stone&rsquo;s <a href="">Matt Taibbi explained why in a compelling column for the magazine.</a> There are some major inconsistencies in&nbsp; terms of what the public knows about this investigation, Taibbi noted.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Whether or not Trump is guilty, somebody should come forward with more evidence, or at least some information from an identifiable and credible source about the exact nature of the charges being pursued, because the public deserves to know.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Our legal system was constructed with the aim of not allowing someone to linger under a cloud of suspicion, but remain uncharged. Trump deserves that much at least.</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="849" height="434" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Dismissal of James Comey Dismissal of United States Attorneys controversy Donald Trump Donald Trump FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Bureau of Investigation House Intelligence Committee Israel James Comey Matt Taibbi national intelligence National Intelligence national security National Security Agency Presidency of Donald Trump Russian government Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections United States Mon, 22 May 2017 23:04:53 +0000 Tyler Durden 596447 at Chinese Media "Applauds" China's CIA-Spy Killing Spree: "Washington Has No Idea What's Going On" <p>China's Global Times, published by the official People's Daily, said in an editorial in its Chinese and English-language editions that, if <a href="">reports of China<strong><em> "systematically dismantling CIA spying operations, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources"</em></strong></a> are true, <strong>it was a victory for China.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="312" /></a></p> <p><a href="">As we previously detailed, </a>an influential state-run newspaper applauded China's anti-espionage efforts on Monday after the New York Times said China had killed or imprisoned up to 20 CIA sources, hobbling U.S. spying operations in a massive intelligence breach.</p> <p>And now,<a href=""> as Reuters reports, </a>China's Global Times, published by the official People's Daily, said in an editorial:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"<em><strong>If this article is telling the truth, we would like to applaud China's anti-espionage activities. Not only was the CIA's spy network dismantled, but Washington had no idea what happened and which part of the spy network had gone wrong,</strong></em>" the paper said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"It can be taken as a sweeping victory. Perhaps it means even if the CIA makes efforts to rebuild its spy network in China, it could face the same result," it said.</p> </blockquote> <p>However the widely read paper, which is <strong>known for its strongly nationalist stance, </strong>said one part of the report was false.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"<strong>As for one source being shot in a government courtyard, that is a purely fabricated story, most likely a piece of American-style imagination based on ideology,</strong>" it said.</p> </blockquote> <p>The story has attracted thousands of comments on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, with many people expressing glee that the spy ring was broken.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>"Strike hard against spy traitors, protect the country's security!"</strong> wrote one Weibo user.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>"Well done! Good on you China," </strong>wrote another.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is the ally that President Trump holds so close?</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="747" height="389" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Central Intelligence Agency Central Intelligence Agency China China Espionage New York Times Newspaper Politics Prevention Reuters Safety Security SPY Twitter Twitter Weibo Mon, 22 May 2017 22:50:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 596409 at