2023 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Jan 02, 2024 - 11:25 AM

One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2022, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as the sheer breadth of stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments made 2022 the most memorable year yet in our brief but turbulent history. This proved accurate: while 2023 did have a seemingly endless variety of social, economic, political, geopolitical and of course, financial and market, drama, the unprecedented onslaught of 2022 - which saw both the deadliest and most consequential global war since WWII and a historic inflationary onslaught - simply proved too great to beat.... although we are confident that's only because the newsflow was merely resting ahead of 2024 when, thanks to a record number of elections across the world...

... not to mention what may well be the most consequential presidential election in US history, the coming avalanche of news and propaganda will be sheer insanity, especially since the Fed has made its long awaited dovish pivot without successfully stamping out inflation first. So in retrospect, 2023 being somewhat tame by recent standards may have been a good thing: it allowed everyone to rest ahead of the main event.

And speaking of the worst inflation in 40 years, it didn't take long for our second major prediction to come true: as we said exactly one year ago the "simplest forecast about the coming year is that 2023 will be the year when something finally breaks." That's exactly what happened just three months later when the rapidly rising rates catalyzed the worst banking crisis in the US banking sector since the Lehman collapse. As the Fed raised rates, the value of banks' bond portfolios fell, and those whose balance sheets were smaller - so pretty much all but the "Big 4" - found themselves in a toxic spiral of bank runs and asset liquidations, which culminated with virtually every small and regional bank on the verge of collapse, and some - such as the two largest California banks (those overseen by the "woke" San Fran Fed whose boss is the LGBTQueen of diversity, if not bank supervision, Mary Daly) First Republic, and Silicon Valley bank, as well as NY's premium client-focused Signature Bank - were dragged into the vortex of bank insolvency, leading to over $500 billion in bank assets failing in a matter of days, matching the record from the global financial crisis.

It was this "break" which culminated with the worst bank run and largest bank failures in 15 years - not to mention the overnight failure of Credit Suisse, the 167-year-old second largest Swiss bank that was bought by UBS for pennies (literally) thanks to Swiss taxpayers once again stuck footing the bill and holding the radioactive garbage - that preemptively ended the Fed's tightening cycle (even if rate hikes continued for another 6 or so months, if only for optical reasons) and marked the end of the Fed's reserve reduction...

... which also triggered the start of the next bull market.

Indeed, after bottoming around 3800 on March 10, the Fed's intervention to prevent further bank contagion was all the market needed to know that the "Fed put" had been triggered, and the S&P closed the year 1000 points higher, less than a percent from the all time highs.

Another prediction about 2023 that came true is that as "the past three years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected." And sure enough, books will be written (and certainly articles in the WSJ, Bloomberg and Zerohedge) about just how wrong everyone was: Exhibit A is this Goldman chart from January 2023, showing that "this is arguably the most widely anticipated recession."

Well, 2023 has come and gone and the recession-defining NBER remained quiet, with the US economy seemingly avoiding the contractionary fate of its European peers (at least on a "seasonally adjusted" basis), and as the recession was averted so was the bear market that so many strategists were certain was inevitable. It wasn't just the recession that never officially materialized (hold that thought): as Bloomberg wrote , "all across Wall Street, on equities desks and bond desks, at giant firms and niche outfits, the mood was glum. It was the end of 2022 and everyone, it seemed, was game-planning for the recession they were convinced was coming.... blended together, three calls — sell US stocks, buy Treasuries, buy Chinese stocks — formed the consensus view on Wall Street." And, as always happens, consensus on Wall Street proved to be wrong again.

But was consensus really wrong? As usual, the answer is nuanced, because while on the surface the economy grew at a brisk pace, the reason for this growth was anything but benign, and as we explained in July, the catalyst behind the "miracle of Bidenomics" was a $1 trillion debt-funded "stealth" stimulus which pushed the US budget deficit above its $1 trillion trendline to crisis/wartime levels, up 50% from the previous year, and rising to a mindblowing $2 trillion for fiscal 2023 just behind the covid crisis years of 2020 and 2021.

And while this "era of fiscal excess" as Bank of America's Michael Hartnett laconically called the current period, noting that in the past 12 months the US government has spent $6.6 trillion, would - in theory at least - assure perpetual growth as long as one could issue ever more debt and pretend it was "growth", in 2023 the US finally hit a historic milestone: $1 trillion in interest expense for the first time ever.

That was a huge problem, because once spending on just US interest surpassed the entire US defense budget, people started to notice. It's also why, with 10Y yields hitting 5% and putting the entire "dollar as a reserve currency" monetary hegemonic status quo in jeopardy as runaway debt interest threatened to blow up the perpetual engine that had made US superpower status in the past half century - that would be unconstrained US debt spending - possible, the Fed had no other choice but to pivot dovishly, just as we predicted in the waning days of 2022...

... which is what the Fed did in December 2023 - even as core inflation remains double the Fed's 2% target - prompting speculation that the Fed has stealthily raised its long-standing 2% inflation target to 3% or even 4%, and thereby setting the state for the blow-off top in inflation some time in 2024 as the ghost of Arthur Burns finally comes home to roost in the Marriner Eccles buildng.

Of course, the inevitable end of the inflation story (at least until the much more exciting sequel begins some time in 2024), had profound reverberations elsewhere, and as headline CPI dropped, wage growth - the BLS told us - surpassed inflation for the first time since the post-covid recovery began in the second half of 2020.

While this would be great news for Biden as the 2024 election season kicks off and the "Big Guy" goes all in on his re-election campaign, there was just one problem: people either didn't believe the data or just didn't care. Indeed, most Americans, and especially swing-state voters, remained glum about the economy, and 52% of voters in these states rated the economy “poor” in closely watched polls this fall, with another 29% saying it was “only fair.”

In short, Bidenomics was a dud, which is also why the White House started taking pages straight out of the Goebbels propaganda playbook. Yet what was bizarre if not outright paradoxical, is that US consumer spending remained high, especially on services such as concerts from Beyonce and Taylor Swift to movies like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.”

Adding to the puzzle is that just as spending hit all-time highs, consumer confidence plunged to new, record lows.

Many were confused over what accounted for the disconnect: persistently high prices? Recession fears? The “vibecession”? Whatever the explanation, voters’ feelings about the economy, and Joe Biden’s handling of it, will be decisive in the 2024 election, especially now that even the Fed pivoted in a way to tips the scales in Biden's favor, something former NY Fed chief Bill Dudley urged all the way back in 2019.

And speaking of wages overtaking inflation, this summer much of America ground to a halt as tens of thousands of actors and screenwriters went on strike in July, bringing Hollywood to a halt, amid fears that AI will put most of the local "talent" out of job (it will). The strikes were part of a wave of labor activity in the United States this year, including targeted strikes by the United Automobile Workers union. Despite the recent uptick, overall union activity has fallen since the 1970s and ’80s; still the strikes were successful with union workers managing to negotiate solid, double-digit raises for themselves, assuring that inflation's return is just a matter of time.

There was another big driver behind inflation both in 2022 and 2023, as not one but two brutal wars underscored the fragility of the global economic recovery and rewired the world’s trade relationships. For an example look no further than the geopolitics of oil. Prices soared above $120 a barrel after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, then steadily fell amid surging US oil production and signs of a global economic slowdown. Here China's aborted attempt to escape from covid zero with a burst of growth was key... yet Beijing's inability to flood the economy with stimulus was obvious to anyone who had seen China's record 300% debt/GDP ratio: China simply had no more space where to park and hide any new growth, pardon debt.

But while the Ukraine war slowly faded away from the front pages as Zelensky's counteroffensive proved to be a disaster and now US and European officials and the legacy media are openly discussing a negotiated peace as the war's "best" outcome (after blasting it as pro-Putin appeasement just one year ago), it was replaced in October with the violent and dramatic breakout of the most brutal Middle-East conflict in decades, as the Israel-Hamas war raised new fears that oil prices would spike and reignite inflation. Despite shipping snarls in the Red Sea and Suez Canal, those concerns have yet to materialize largely thanks to huge overproduction in the US at a time of rampant shale M&A activity as potential acquisition targets do everything they can to literally flood the market and boost EBITDA and cash flow in hopes of impressing potential suitors. This too shall pass, and very soon.

Until then, however, thanks to the Russia-Ukraine war, India and China have emerged as key beneficiaries. India, profiting from its neutrality, went from buying hardly any Russian oil to buying about half of what the country exports by sea.

Trade between China and Russia has also surged, surpassing $200 billion in the first 11 months of this year while Chinese cars are now flooding Russia.

Not surprisingly, just a few days ago we learned that the Chinese yuan has overtaken the Japanese yen to become the fourth most-used currency by value in global payments.

Of course, it's not just Russia benefiting from China's redirected trade routes: countries like Mexico and Vietnam have also gained ground. And since those countries import mostly intermediate goods from China, American supply chains still remain reliant on Chinese production. In fact, China is now the dominant supplier of industrial inputs across the world.

As other countries have seen a pick up in Chinese trade, China’s share of exports to the United States has fallen in recent years, as a result of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and maintained by Biden even though tensions between the two superpowers stabilized briefly after Biden’s meeting with President Xi Jinping of China on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November... even though Biden again calling Xi a dictator for the second time went over as a lead spy balloon in Beijing, as Anthony Blinken's face made abundantly clear.

Still, there is another reason why the US can’t decouple easily from China: semiconductors. China is a major market for these advanced computer chips, which can be used to power artificial intelligence systems. This fall, the Biden administration tightened its export controls on semiconductors, making it harder for U.S. companies to sell them to China. But big chipmakers like Nvidia are already working on modified chips to sell to Chinese markets, hoping to skirt the restrictions.

And speaking of Nvidia, we would be remiss not to mention the single biggest market narrative - and tech story - of 2023, namely the unprecedented AI mania, which manifested itself in an explosion in the "Magnificent 7" mega tech stocks which now make up a record 30% of the S&P's market cap...

... thanks to a historic outperformance of this group of 7 tech names which doubled their price in 2023 even as much of the rest of the market went nowhere this year, at least until the Fed's dovish pivot, which finally lifted all boats in the last two weeks of the year.

It wasn't just the latest stock bubble however: the world's infatuation with the chatGPT chatbot led to an explosion of investment in generative A.I. start-ups, including Microsoft’s $10 billion backing in OpenAI. Microsoft’s relationship with OpenAI has since come under scrutiny, particularly its role in the reinstatement of Sam Altman as OpenAI’s CEO after a boardroom coup that set off a chaotic five days at the start-up and was a moment of unforgettable drama for nerds everywhere. Whether A.I. remains the market juggernaut it was in 2023 may be decided in the courts: on Dec. 27, The New York Times became the first major American media organization to sue OpenAI and Microsoft over A.I.-related copyright issues, saying in the lawsuit that the companies should be held responsible for the “unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works.”

What is just as remarkable is that people actually use ChatGPT or rather chat LGPTQ, since we now have proof that as a large language model it uses data and signal exclusively from hard-liberal and leftist organizations, thus making most of its "answers" false, unreliable, "woke" and generally useless.

And speaking of the latest attempt to control and dominate the conversation, this time using chatGPT, we remind readers that away from markets and geopolitical conflicts, the next most important topic in the past year were the revelations from the Twitter Files and subsequent exposes, all revealing just how little free speech there really is in the so-called land of the free and the home of the First Amendment, and how countless three-lettered, deep-state alphabet agencies - and the military-industrial complex - will do anything and everything to control both the official discourse and the unofficial narrative to keep their preferred puppets in the White House, and keep those they disapprove of - censored and/or locked up, both literally and metaphorically... or simply designate them "conspiracy theorists." None other than Matt Taibbi wrote the best summary of what the Twitter Files revealed, namely America's stealthy conversion into a crypto-fascist state where some unelected government bureaucrat tells corporations what to do and decides the fate of ordinary Americans every single day without any due process:

This last week saw the FBI describe Lee Fang, Michael Shellenberger and me as “conspiracy theorists” whose “sole aim” is to discredit the agency. That statement will look ironic soon, as we spent much of this week learning about other agencies and organizations that can now also be discredited thanks to these files.

A group of us spent the last weeks reading thousands of documents. For me a lot of that time was spent learning how Twitter functioned, specifically its relationships with government. How weird is modern-day America? Not long ago, CIA veterans tell me, the information above the “tearline” of a U.S. government intelligence cable would include the station of origin and any other CIA offices copied on the report.

I spent much of today looking at exactly similar documents, seemingly written by the same people, except the “offices” copied at the top of their reports weren’t other agency stations, but Twitter’s Silicon Valley colleagues: Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, even Wikipedia. It turns out these are the new principal intelligence outposts of the American empire. A subplot is these companies seem not to have had much choice in being made key parts of a global surveillance and information control apparatus, although evidence suggests their Quislingian executives were mostly all thrilled to be absorbed. Details on those “Other Government Agencies” soon, probably tomorrow.

One happy-ish thought at month’s end:

Sometime in the last decade, many people — I was one — began to feel robbed of their sense of normalcy by something we couldn’t define. Increasingly glued to our phones, we saw that the version of the world that was spat out at us from them seemed distorted. The public’s reactions to various news events seemed off-kilter, being either way too intense, not intense enough, or simply unbelievable. You’d read that seemingly everyone in the world was in agreement that a certain thing was true, except it seemed ridiculous to you, which put you in an awkward place with friends, family, others. Should you say something? Are you the crazy one?

I can’t have been the only person to have struggled psychologically during this time. This is why these Twitter files have been such a balm. This is the reality they stole from us! It’s repulsive, horrifying, and dystopian, a gruesome history of a world run by anti-people, but I’ll take it any day over the vile and insulting facsimile of truth they’ve been selling. Personally, once I saw that these lurid files could be used as a road map back to something like reality — I wasn’t sure until this week — I relaxed for the first time in probably seven or eight years.

One year later, the legacy media has only gotten worse, with the likes of the NYT, publishers of such tripe seeking to justify an illegitimate and corrupt first crime family, and WaPo spewing propaganda for the corrupt elite, and officially becoming the PR arm of both the White House and the Military Industrial Complex/ US Intel Services/ Deep State. Meanwhile, X (fka Twitter), once the most corrupt and censored social media network in the world, has emerged as a bastion of free speech (Elon even brought back Alex Jones) even as virtue-signaling corporations (who all work in conjunction with the deep state in hopes of getting some fast-track access to those very generous taxpayer-funded government contracts) are doing everything in their power to demonetize and starve the company by pulling their ads; we say this as one of the first media outlets that was dubbed "conspiracy theorists" by the authorities, long before everyone else joined the club. Oh yes, we've been there: we were suspended for half a year on Twitter for telling the truth about Covid, and then we lost most of our advertisers after the Atlantic Council's weaponized "fact-checkers" such as Newsguard put us on every ad agency's black list while anonymous CIA sources at the AP slandered us for being "Kremlin puppets" - which reminds us: for those with the means, desire and willingness to support us, please do so by becoming a premium member: we are now almost entirely reader-funded so your financial assistance will be instrumental to ensure our continued survival into 2024 and beyond.

The bottom line, at least for us, is that the past four years have been a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which makes the dystopian nightmare of 1984 seem more real each day, and we have since taken measures. Three years ago, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us for good. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year when, with the 2024 elections at stake, the deep state will stop at nothing to silence all independent voices.

And why would they: just a few days ago, some woke, unelected Karen in Maine named Shenna Bellows showed just how far the left was willing to go when she decided that it is incumbent upon her - and her alone - to determine what is in the best interest of hundreds of millions of Americans when this secretary of state - not some court, not some group of elected officials - decided to remove Donald Trump from the state’s presidential ballot and disenfranchise half of the country (something democrats have shown a tremendous aptitude for, even as they are more than eager to collect taxes from those who still generate income and pay some of it back to the government as taxes, i.e. mostly republicans). Even a Democratic congressman who voted to impeach Trump over the January 6th riots, quickly issued a statement: "We are a nation of laws, therefore until he is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot." Matt Taibbi summarized it best: "Is there any way this ends well? It feels harder and harder to imagine. "

As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from either Putin or the KGB either, sorry CIA) and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine.

Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website.

In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to only accelerate in the coming year especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2023 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch with a ten foot pole, both out of fear of repercussions and because the MSM has now become a PR agency for either a political party or some unelected, deep state bureaucrat, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an information vacuum (in less than a decade, Elon Musk's $44 billion purchase of Twitter will seem like one of the century's biggest bargains) and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which established media outlets refuse to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation.

We are grateful that our readers have, for the 15th year in a row, realized that it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news."

* * *

And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 14-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 201020112012201320142015201620172018, 2019, 2020 , 2021 and 2022.

So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year.

  • In 20th spot with 540,000 views, was one of the year's first admissions that - contrary to the prevailing propaganda - the war in Ukraine, which would end up being a $100BN+ and rising drain on taxpayer funds, was not going as widely reported; in fact it wasn't going at all. Indeed, as we observed in "NBC Reporter Goes To Crimea, Shocks Viewers By Telling The Truth" the Deep State's favorite media outlet, MSNBC made the first concession that Zelensky's goal of retaking Crime is unrealistic and dangerous. In response, the establishment reporter immediately wound up on the Ukrainian government’s kill list. But while Ukraine may have succeeded in silencing this one particular pawn, subsequent revelations and an ongoing internal power struggle inside Ukraine, all but guarantee that the war is almost over and that the Biden family's crimes in Ukraine will sooner or later make the light of day .

  • Another topic which none in the media would discuss openly, or truthfully, for fears of retaliation from the deep state was the article that was the 19th most popular of the year. Over 543,000 readers were probably not too shocked to learn that according to famed journalist and Pulitzer prize winner Seymour Hersh, the infamous Nord Stream sabotage of 2022 was yet another CIA covert op, meant to incite an escalation of conflict in the Russian-Ukraine war, and to terminally halt Russian transit of natural gas to Europe. Who benefited? Why the US of course, as shipments of LNG to Europe (as the US stepped in to "generously" replace Russia as a source of gas) blew away all records. In fact, one could argue that the Ukraine war was orchestrated precisely for that one purpose: to ensure that US nat gas exports would boom for years to come courtesy of a captive market, Europe, which would be prevented from importing much cheaper Russian gas for years to come.

  • Almost 5 years after the breakout of the covid pandemic which crippled global economies and led to the injection of tens of trillions in monetary and fiscal stimulus, precipitating the biggest inflationary wave in modern history, there is still no definitive explanation of where the virus came from (or rather, escaped) and why there has been no punishment yet for those Wuhan Institute workers (and those Americans giving them instructions and funding) responsible for countless deaths and millions of businesses shut down. However, when a mysterious Chinese biolab was discovered in a remote California City,  some 543K Zerohedge readers wondered what if any connection this lab in the middle of nowhere had to i) covid, ii) China's bioweapons industry and iii) how many more such labs exist across the US and what exactly are they doing? That was enough to make this bizarre story the 18th most popular on this website in 2023.

  • For the 17th most read article we go to a topic the mainstream media, which sadly has become a PR and Propaganda arm of the White House, the deep state and the military industrial complex, has steadfastly refused the touch namely the unprecedented corruption in the country which the Biden admin and various MIC-adjacent politicians have decided is the newest US state: Ukraine. Early in 2023, we reported that "Ukraine Is Rocked By Corruption Scandal, Wave Of Top Officials Resign: Sports Cars, Mansions & Luxury Vacations As People Suffered", however none of that matters since none of the legacy media dared to expose just who all those tens of billions in US taxpayer funds have gone to. And now, almost a year later, Ukraine is losing the war, Zelensky and his comrades are on slowly but surely on their way out, and yet nobody knows where that $100BN+ in funds have gone. We can certainly hope that one day, long after the biggest money-laundering experiment in modern history is over, forensic historians will trace all that money which is bigger than the GDP of most nations, however - just like the Epstein client list - we doubt it will ever happen.

  • Nearly 560K readers were surprised to learn that the Magic Kingdom has become so expensive, almost nobody can afford to go there any more. Indeed, in 2023 a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland with the whole family has become simply too expensive leading many to ask "Where Is Everyone? Disney World "Just About Empty" as CEO Bob Iger himself admitted customer affordability issues; add the direct consequences of price-gouging families, plus the 'woke' backlash, and you get one of the slowest periods at Walt Disney World in Orlando on July 4 in a decade. Meanwhile the plunge of Disney stock to a decade low coupled with South Park now mercilessly mocking the hollow shell of a woke company, spark some hope that after a wholesale sacking of the incompetent management, the slate may be wiped clean and the company can go back to doing what it does best: not grooming or propaganda but innocent entertainment for generations of children.

  • Confirming yet again that the cover up is always worse than the crime, the 15th most popular post of 2023 with over 560K hits focused on the still unfolding consequences of the biggest story of 2020, namely the unprecedented cover up of the covid "vaccine" as a "Bombshell Vax Analysis Found $147 Billion In Economic Damage, Tens Of Millions Injured Or Disabled." And since the corrupt and captured media still refuses to do its jobs and get to the bottom of who benefited - and what were the full consequences - from rushing the biggest medical experiment in history, it is the independent media, which is increasingly performing the investigative role of the MSM, that will benefit from the corruption and capture that has dominated what was once the fourth estate but is now just a waning shadow of its former formidable self.

  • 2023 was not only a year where many cover-ups were exposed; it was also a year when "something finally broke", and it wasn't just US regional banks: in March, as the world was rocked by a relentless wave of bank runs, the second largest Swiss bank got Lehmaned, and failed over a long weekend, despite obtaining a government backstop just hours earlier as we detailed in "Credit Suisse To Borrow $54BN From SNB To "Pre-emptively Strengthen Liquidity," a story which was read by 572K readers - many of whom current or former Credit Suisse customers - making it the 14th most popular story of 2023. In the end it was not enough, because once confidence in a bank is shaken it never returns, and neither do the deposits that have been pulled... and so less than a week later, Credit Suisse was no more, its existence over after 167 years, with UBS taking over (with the generous funding of Swiss taxpayers) and becoming the most systematically important European bank, one which not even all of Switzerland will be able to backstop during the next banking crisis.

  • With historic presidential elections on deck in 2024, and a repeat of the 2020 violence - where secretive Soros-funded entities funded and encouraged a bloody summer across the US  - virtually assured, it is worth recalling what Tucker Carlson reported a few months ago, namely that the catalyst behind much of the government-encouraged Black Lives Matter violence of 2020, was fake and "The Whole George Floyd Story Was A Lie", a report which was watched and read by nearly 600K people. Unfortunately, with much of the US judicial system in Soros' pocket, and with dozens of big city DAs seeking to decriminalize rioting and theft by the black community, more violence is guaranteed, the only question is what fake pretext the deep state will use this time.

  • On the last day of 2022 we predicted that "2023 will be the year when something finally breaks", and three months later we were proven right, when as a result of soaring rates US regional banks suddenly found that the value of their fixed income collateral was worth far less when marked to market than the deposits it was pledged against, resulting in widespread liquidity and solvency fears, accelerating bank runs and culminating with the second Fed panic since 2008, as "Signature Bank Was Closed By Regulators; Fed, TSY, FDIC Announce Another Banking System Bailout", a reminder to no less than 621K readers that the US financial system was as brittle and unstable as ever despite trillions in liquidity injected into the market and meant only to make the rich richer. Nearly a year later, the regional US bank zombies that would have collapsed in March live on thanks to the Fed's BTFP facility which matures in March, and which if pulled would lead to an even greater crisis in the US banking sector. Ironically that's also when the Fed's Reverse Repo facility is expected to be drained to zero, so if anyone is trying to pin the date of the next financial crisis in the calendar, March increasingly looks like the prime month for that.

  • Following the start of October's Israel-Hamas war, the bloodiest breakout of Middle-Eastern violence in decades, we said that "there is some speculation that Iran may get dragged in with various pro-Israeli hawks claiming that the Hamas attack would have only occurred with explicit Iranian backing." Just a few hours later this was confirmed as we reported in "Iran Helped Hamas "Plot Israel Attack Over Several Weeks", Gave Green Light", the 11th most popular article of 2023, which revealed that "Iranian security officials helped plan Hamas’s Saturday surprise attack on Israel and gave the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut last Monday", according to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah. But while the US would have swiftly retaliated in the past, if only to convince the world that it is still a military superpower, so far the Biden regime has remained silent, terrified of a military response, but not because of some newfound appreciation for state sovereignty or non-intervention, but simply because the president is afraid what a surge in oil and gas prices - which would be an inevitable outcome of Iran getting dragged into the war - would mean for his re-election chances.

  • In case you didn't figure it out by now, 2023 was a year when many cover ups were exposed, and among the most flagrant ones was the leak of the Nashville transsexual shooter's manifesto, which as we revealed in "Biden’s DOJ suppressed the Nashville Transkiller’s manifesto after learning they used Democrat talking points to justify targeting white Christian children", which with over 670K reads was the 10th most popular article of 2023, revealed that Biden’s DOJ suppressed the Nashville Transkiller’s manifesto after learning it used Democrat talking points to justify targeting white Christian children. Of course, the DOJ never had any such qualms when revealing motives from the other side of the political aisle, confirming yet again that there is nothing too low for Biden's weaponized Department of Injustice to stoop below, not even death.

  • Continuing our trek through the top 10 stories of 2023, we next look at the immediate aftermath of the Israel-Hamas war, where just hours after the violence had broken out, the world quickly revealed how little it thought of the Biden administration, and US "superpower status", when as 731K readers found out, "Arab Leaders Refuse To Meet Biden As Protests Rage Around The World." The title is self-explanatory - and an embarrassment to Americans - even if said Americans deserve to know just who is the puppet-master pulling the strings of the senile, demented occupant of the White House.

  • Remember when merely breathing the world "Ivermectin" in the aftermath of the covid pandemic was enough to blacklist you from social media and polite society in perpetuity, and get you branded as a tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist for life? Well, if we have learned anything in recent years, is that the time from when an idea emerges as a "conspiracy" to when it is fully confirmed even by the powers that be has shrunk to mere months, and as we reported in "FDA Drops Ivermectin Bombshell", our 8th most popular article of 2023, nearly 740K readers learned from an FDA lawyer that doctors were, in fact, free to prescribe ivermectin to treat COVID-19. The case had been brought by three doctors who alleged the FDA unlawfully interfered with their practice of medicine with the statements. Then a federal judge dismissed the case in 2022, prompting an appeal. “The fundamental issue in this case is straightforward. After the FDA approves the human drug for sale, does it then have the authority to interfere with how that drug is used within the doctor-patient relationship? The answer is no,” Jared Kelson, representing the doctors, told the appeals court. Hilariously, the FDA on Aug. 21, 2021, wrote on Twitter You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” In retrospect it was right: it turned out most people who believed the government's lies were at best sheep.

  • Tragedy rocked the town of East Palestine, Ohio last February when the derailment of a train carrying toxic and carcinogenic compounds resulted in a historic chemical spill and led  to large sections of the town becoming unlivable as reported in "Ohio's Apocalyptic Chemical Disaster Rages On", the 7th most popular story of 2023 with over 755K views. The spill immediately became a political flashpoint, with Donald Trump visiting East Palestine and handed out Make America Great Again hats, telling the crowd: “You are not forgotten.” Unfortunately, the town has certainly been forgotten by the current "president" who to this day has refused to visit the town despite countless promises he would do just that.

  • In many ways, 2023 was the year when alternative, independent media truly took over, and it wasn't just X/Twitter that dominated the news, while being the news: it is also the year when traditional media fell apart, such as the various anchors fleeing the sinking ship that is CNN, but the most vivid example was Tucker Carlson's departure from Fox News - the channel that was only relevant because of Tucker's segment - and the launch of his own media organization. As so many others have found out, media personalities were only allowed to truly speak their minds when separated from the corporations where they operated previously (so as not to offend advertisers), something Tucker understood and laid out in one of his most bombshell interviews, explaining why "Our System Is Collapsing In Real Time", which was also our 6th most read article with 762K reads.

  • Finally, turning to the top 5 articles of 2023, it should not be a surprise that with almost 810K reads, the 5th most popular post of the year was the news that - with the Ukraine war fading from collective consciousness - a major new war had broken out in the Middle East, something we reported in "Israel In State of War With Hamas After Palestinian Militants Launch Unprecedented Incursion."

  • Remember what we said about coverups? Well, it took less than three years from when Hunter Biden's notebook emerged in the media - with the entire deep state apparatus defending it at first, and 51 former CIA spies vowing it was Russian propaganda - until all of its official contents were leaked as we reported in "Trove Of Nearly 10K Hunter Biden Laptop Photos, Docs Appear On Organized Website." Among the contents were not only documented acts of criminal debauchery, but also proof that the Biden family was engaged in flagrant influence peddling on behalf of such foreign regimes as Ukraine and China. Alas, the US justice system is now so corrupt and broken, and the media so captured, this news has seen barely any coverage and follow through; and meanwhile the gutless republican cowards in Congress still refuse to impeach the president despite ample proof - courtesy of his son - of his countless transgressions.

  • With over 875K reads, and clocking in at third spot for 2023, was one of the biggest shockers of the year: the decision by Murdoch and Fox News to sack their only true star, Tucker Carlson; And for what? For daring to speak to truth one too many times as we reported in "Tucker Carlson Fired By Lachlan Murdoch; Here's What We Know." In retrospect, it will be the best thing that happened to Tucker, whose new venture already has well over 100,000 annual subs and growing at a torrid pace. Meanwhile, the biggest winner may well be the US population, which will have one more source of honest, accurate news while the malignant influence of conventional media fades with each passing day.

  • The second most popular story of 2023 was also a freak one: the short-lived attempt by Putin's formerly close friend, Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner private mercenary force, to stage a military coup, yet not really a coup meant to overthrow Putin but instead targeted some of Prigozhin's personal enemies in the top ranks of Russia's army. The "Wagner rebellion" as it became known - and which came shortly after Prigozhin's forces managed to smack down a Ukraine attempt at a counteroffensive earlier this summer - lasted all of a day or so, before it all died down as reported in "Prigozhin 'Exiled' To Belarus In Exchange For Peace, Criminal Charges Dropped: What Was This All About?" the second most popular article of 2023 with nearly 900K reads. To this day there is no coherent explanation behind Prigozhin's actions, and there probably won't be: two months later the plane carrying the mercenary chief exploded. It's still unclear why, but the most amusing theory was the one offered by Putin himself, who claimed that "Wagner leadership got drunk and/or high, then set off hand grenades during the flight."

  • Finally, the top post of 2023 was one which also closed the loop on the top story of 2020: with nearly 1.1 million reads, the most popular article of the year was the "CDC Finally Releasing VAERS Safety Monitoring Analyses For COVID Vaccines." While the article offered lots of data, the bottom line is that the vaccine which the CDC claimed was safe and effective was neither safe nor effective.

And with all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2024, and the next decade?

We don't know: as our frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try, despite repeat baseless allegations that we constantly forecast the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2023 when one year after the entire world realized just how clueless the Fed had been when it called the most crushing inflation in two generations "transitory", it was Wall Street's reputation turn to hit new lows as even Bloomberg listed "Everything Wall Street Got Wrong in 2023", in the process adding strategists and analysts to the clueless ranks of economists, conventional media and the professional polling class, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of both the scientific method and the "expert class" with their catastrophically bungled response to the covid pandemic, and then the response to the response, and so on... We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it.

We do know, however, that with central banks having flip-flopped yet again, and pivoting dovishly even as inflation still rages at 4%, wages - especially for unionized and government workers - growing at a double digit pace, home prices and rents about to lurch even higher, and overall prices stuck at all time highs, the most likely outcome is another surge in inflation and Jerome Powell becoming not the second coming of saint Paul Volcker but of satan Arthur Burns.

But even ignoring the impact on prices, one can't just undo 15 years of central bank mistakes by wishing them away (even if it is an election year); after all it is the trillions and trillions in monetary stimulus, the helicopter money, the MMT, and the endless deficit funding by central banks that made the current runaway inflation possible, the current attempt to stuff 15 years of toothpaste back into the tube, will be a catastrophic failure.

We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will again be revealed as completely naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 15, we will be there to document every aspect of it.

Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2024, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2023 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile (and with the CIA clearly on our ass now) - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken economic, political and financial system.

AI is not completely useless