Mike Krieger submits: "I’ve always loved history. Even all the way back to grade school I remember it being my favorite subject. Very early on I noticed certain patterns in history and I wondered why they occurred. When I was first exposed to European history, I recall being absolutely floored by how certain countries could become so rich and powerful and then subsequently collapse so stunningly and rapidly. The one that really boggled my mind was Spain - the homeland of my maternal grandfather who I never met. Here was a country that conquered and viciously looted essentially all South America other than Brazil (thanks to the pope being magnanimous enough to grant that part of the world to Portugal in the Treaty of Tordesillas), Mexico, Central America and parts of the United States. The gold and especially silver that was taken back to Spain was the stuff of legend, yet almost at the same time they had defeated the native peoples overseas their kingdom at home was crumbling. Not to bore anyone with too much history, but by the mid 1500s the Spanish had essentially conquered the Aztecs (Mexico) and the Incas (Peru). At the time, the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan was estimated to be larger than any city in Europe. Despite these tremendous “successes” and the riches that came with them, the battle of Rocroi in Northern France in 1643 less than one hundred years later marked the end of Spanish dominance in Europe. What is so fascinating to me is that while the conquistadors were out raping and pillaging halfway around the world the domestic economy was experiencing economic crisis. There were episodes of major currency debasements in the homeland as the crown was forced to fight wars on their borders as well as fund the excursions abroad. It is important to note that the collapse came pretty quickly as it was only in 1627 when things were still looking pretty good for the empire that The Count-Duke Olivares famously stated: “God is Spanish and fights for our nation these days.” Does this story sound familiar?"
As a follow up to today's must read letter from Bill Gross, the PIMCO head explains what was the thinking behind the conclusion that is slowly leading him to become a gold bug, the potentially erroneous assumption that the Fed can not drop rates below zero (not if Goldman and JPM have their way), why Bernanke has no choice but to write checks when the Twist ends in June which will lead to bond buying for the next 12-24-36 months. Nothing new. What is new, and absolutely stunning, is Gross' endorsement for president: 'I'm a little Ron Paulish." (6'24" into the clip)... That's right. The bond king endorses Ron Paul for president, apparently on the realization that very soon he will have to pay Tim Geithner for the privilege of holding hundreds of billions in US paper. And now we've heard it all.
Which is why we were delighted that after months of modest confusion on the topic, the Congressional Committee on Financial Services (including subcommittee chairman Ron Paul), have demanded that not only Geithner make his stance on a US-funded IMF bailout of Europe crystal clear, but that they are openly opposed to "American taxpayer dollars being used to bail out Europe...through additional contributions to the IMF." We are curious to see just how Geithner will weasel his way out of responding to this: perhaps the only logical stall tactic is to reply that he will be busy helping Mitt Romney in his tax "revisions" over the next several months.
Humans are a flawed species. Our minds are easily manipulated. We don’t like pain. We prefer instant gratification. We are susceptible to mass delusion. We will often choose hope over critical thought. Those with higher IQs will regularly attempt to take advantage of those with lower IQs. Fear and greed are the two motivations used by the minority in power to control and manipulate the majority. The American people have been led astray by a small group of powerful men. We were herded through a door in the wall of perception that promised an American dream of material goods, entitlements and pleasure with no obligations or responsibility to future generations. There is only one choice that can save this country from ruin. Each individual must make a choice to either to continue supporting the manipulative, corrupt status quo or coming back through the Door in the Wall.
“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend” – Aldous Huxley
Even with rigged electronic voting, media manipulation, and political co-option, I feel our efforts this year will resonate for many decades to come. Whether we are able to take back social power for regular citizens is not as important as making them aware that they have allowed themselves to lose that power in the first place. The elections of 2012, ultimately, should be treated as a vehicle for enlightenment, and this enlightenment begins when we are able to recognize the lies we live, and the men who sell them to us…
Something big must be happening behind the scenes because the level of broad popular distraction just hit ludicrous speed. The latest news, from AP: "Offering no explanation, the Iowa Republican Party has declared Rick Santorum as winner of the Iowa caucuses, days after saying incomplete vote results precluded it from doing just that. GOP State Chairman Matt Strawn and the party’s State Central Committee issued a statement late Friday naming the former Pennsylvania senator as the winner, “in order to clarify conflicting reports and to affirm the results” that were released Wednesday." Naturally, jokes about Paul votes being "hanging chad-ed" by Diebold machines are imminent: "Because eight precincts never turned in certified results, Strawn said in the statement Thursday that the party could not declare a winner. He congratulated both Santorum and Romney. Sixteen days earlier, Strawn had announced that Romney had won the caucuses by eight votes." But far more notable, from the PPP website: "Newt Gingrich heads into South Carolina election day as the clear front runner in the state: he's now polling at 37% to 28% for Mitt Romney, 16% for Rick Santorum, and 14% for Ron Paul. Gingrich's lead has actually increased in the wake of his ex-wife's controversial interview with ABC. Although one night poll results should always be interpreted with caution, he led the final night of the field period by a 40-26 margin. One thing that continues to work to his advantage are the debates. 60% of primary voters report having watched the one last night, and Gingrich has a 46-23 lead with those folks. The other reason his ex-wife's interview isn't causing him much trouble is that there's a lot of skepticism about it. Only 31% of voters say they think her accusations are true while 35% think they are false and 34% are unsure. 51% of voters say that they have 'no concerns' about what came out in the interview." In other words: three primaries are about to lead to three different winners. What can we say: America always gets the president it deserves.
When Bill Maher, hardly a conservative, says that he applauds Ron Paul on his positions, and calls those Paul detractors in his audience "brainwashed liberals" it is safe to say we have seen it all. And so, once again, Ron Paul is officially cool.
A short time ago, the House of Representatives rejected (by 239-176 though not enough to avoid Obama's veto) the $1.3tn increase in the federal debt limit. As Reuters notes, this vote seems like 'a largely symbolic vote aimed at staking out election-year positions on government spending' as we know by now that Timmy G will underfund yet another pension plan (on the promise to transfer-pay it all back very soon) if it ever came to that. The Hill also adds Democratic comments that this was clearly 'a political stunt' as the House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer says "This is a game that will say, see, I voted against debt." Where the sound-and-fury is laughable of course is that both the House and Senate need to 'disapprove' of the debt ceiling hike that is already 'pre-approved' in last year's Budget Control Act (and the Senate is widely expected not to disapprove). As politician after politician sought media-time, Ron Paul echoed his sensibilities (though not really helpful in this situation) that "we're in denial", and "you can't solve the problem of debt by accumulating more debt."
The world's biggest primary silver miner, Fresnillo, had flat silver production in 2011. Output is only expected to remain stable in 2012. African Barrick Gold said on Wednesday fourth quarter gold production fell 11% and missed its annual production targets. Despite price rises seen in 2011, gold and silver mining is remaining static contrary to claims by gold bears that higher prices would lead to increased production and therefore increased supply. Geological constraints may be impacting mining companies ability to increase production of the precious metals. Standard Bank has said it lowered its average 2012 gold price forecast by 6 percent to $1,780 an ounce, but continues to expect prices of the precious metal to touch new highs in the latter half of this year. "We maintain that gold will reach new highs this year but, given our dollar view, we believe that these highs will be reached only in the second half of 2012," the analyst said in a note. Standard Bank expects the U.S. dollar to gain strength, especially against the euro, over the next quarter. A few other banks have recently lowered price forecasts for gold, including ANZ and Credit Suisse – however the majority remain bullish on gold’s outlook for 2012.
The great lie that drives the fiat global financial locomotive forward is the assumption that there is no other way of doing things. Many in America believe that the U.S. dollar (a paper time-bomb ready to explode) is the only currency we have at our disposal. Many believe that the corporate trickle down dynamic is the only practical method for creating jobs. Numerous others have adopted the notion that global interdependency is a natural extension of “progress”, and that anyone who dares to contradict this fallacy is an “isolationist” or “extremist”. Much of our culture has been conditioned to support and defend centralization as necessary and inevitable primarily because they have never lived under any other system. Globalism has not made the world smaller; it has made our minds smaller. By limiting choice, we limit ingenuity and imagination. By narrowing focus, we lose sight of the much bigger picture. This is the very purpose of the feudal framework; to erase individual and sovereign strength, stifle all new or honorable philosophies, and ensure the masses remain completely reliant on the establishment for their survival, forever tied to the rotting umbilical cord of a parasitic parent government.
Remember the cold war: evil Empire, 5 year plans, Lada cars, etc? It may very well be back, this time over the simple matter of a few million barrels of crude per day, after Russia was found to be quietly supplying an embargoed Syria with ammunition, in violation of a weapons embargo. Reuters reports: "A Russian-operated ship carrying a cargo of ammunition has reached conflict-torn Syria after being temporarily halted during a refuelling stop in Cyprus, sources in Russia and Cyprus said on Friday. A source in Cyprus, where the ship made an unscheduled stop for refuelling late on Tuesday, said the ship had given written assurances to authorities its destination would not be Syria but Turkey. It was allowed to sail a day later, whereupon it dropped off conventional tracking systems, switched course and reached Syria on Thursday. "It had bullets. There were four containers on board," a Cypriot official told Reuters." And here the plot thickens: we now have some war mongering deepthroat somewhere in Leningrad, pardon, St. Petersburg: "The ship was carrying a dangerous cargo," the source at St. Petersburg-based Westberg Ltd. said by telephone on condition of anonymity. "It reached Syria on Jan. 11th." Needless to say, the US is not very happy that Russia is doing precisely what it warned a few months ago it would do: namely protect its sphere of influence especially in light of the ever-encroaching NATO aspirations (yes, provocations go both ways as Ron Paul has long been warning): "The United States said on Friday it had raised concerns with Moscow over a Russian-operated ship that has arrived in Syria and which sources said contained a cargo of bullets. "With regard to the ship we have raised our concerns about this both with Russia and with Cyprus, which was the last port of call for the ship, and we are continuing to seek clarification as to what went down here," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said." Looks like the escalation in the Straits of Hormuz is about to shift to the backburner as we finally go back to where the real tension is and always has been: between West and East.
Independents would elect Paul over Obama.
Dear Sheep, thank you for your compliance. Sincerely, Wolf.
In under one hour, the New Hampshire GOP Primary polls close. The New Hampshire primary is the second contest in the state-by-state battle for the Republican presidential nomination to face Democratic President Barack Obama on Nov. 6. Romney narrowly won the first contest, the Iowa caucuses, on Jan. 3. According to Reuters, and pretty much all of the mainstream media, Mitt Romney is in charge, and Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman appeared to be in a battle for second place in New Hampshire, the small New England state known for its independent streak and outsized role in presidential campaigns. As for Mitt, "A multimillionaire who says his experience as head of private-equity firm Bain Capital would help him spur America's economy as president, Romney might face a bigger challenge in the next primary in South Carolina on Jan. 21, where the economy is weaker and conservatives make up a larger slice of the electorate." Because apparently people in New Hampshire are big fans of 25% IRRs predicated by 5x Debt/EBITDA LBOs. Or something. Follow the primary via the CNN live webcast below, through the WSJ live blog, or via Politico. Fox News is tracking New Hampshire exit polls here. Finally, the live tally of final results can be tracked using the interactive Google map below.