The Oil Alarm: New film by Liam Scheff exposes the coming global collapse precipitated by oil dependence - and what you can do to prepare
Admitted media liar Brian Williams back in action at MSNBC, where lying about the news is an accepted part of the job
U.S. reporter easily smuggles weapons past TSA goons - 75% success rate of bypassing security at U.S. airports
By Dr. Mercola
Americans discard 34 million tons of food every year — that's like tossing a quarter of your groceries into the trash. Nearly half of all food grown in 2013 was thrown away, while 49 million Americans experienced "food insecurity" and hunger.1
The food waste problem is not limited to America's home kitchens but also occurs in restaurants, grocery stores, and on farms.
A 2013 report entitled "Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not"2 by the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) found that more than 2 billion tons of food are wasted annually.
It reports that up to 30 percent of perfectly good vegetables are not harvested simply because they aren't pretty. Thirty to 50 percent of the 4 billion tons of food produced around the world each year never reaches a human mouth.
Food Forward TV episode "Make Food, Not Waste" explores this massive problem of food waste and features a few innovative individuals and organizations who are transforming organic scraps into an ecological goldmine.Food Waste Reaches Epic Proportions
Most communities spend more to deal with trash than on schoolbooks, fire protection, libraries, and parks.
When you add up wasted food from all sources (households, restaurants, markets, farms, and food that never makes it to market due to spoilage or contamination from mold or pests), the figure for year 2010 is 133 billion pounds of food — which amounts to 31 percent of the total food supply.4
To put this into perspective, this amount of food would fill the Empire State Building 91 times!
But there are also related costs that may be less obvious. Water and fuel are required to dispose of food waste, as well food scraps taking up precious landfill space. Organic waste is the second highest component of American landfills.
Landfill waste is the largest source of methane emission, which is 23 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2.5
According to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), in developing nations, food waste/losses occur mainly at early stages in the food chain and can be traced back to "financial, managerial, and technical constraints in harvesting techniques, as well as storage and cooling facilities."
Therefore, changes are needed in the infrastructure of the entire global food system, beginning with how food is farmed, packaged, and distributed.
UNEP stresses the importance of raising awareness of the food waste problem among industries, retailers, and consumers, as well as finding new and innovative uses for food that's currently being discarded.
Americans have a "cheaper" food supply than most other countries, and cheap food does not motivate consumers to place much value on what they've purchased. For example, the average American wastes 10 times more food than the average consumer in Southeast Asia.One Example of Massive Waste: The Big Washington Apple Dump
Excess apples are dumped every year in Washington State, and rotting food can create a boatload of problems. Case in point: in early 2015, nearly $100 million worth of perfectly good apples were dumped onto fields in Central Washington.
Piles of millions of apples were left to rot in the hot sun, which created a massive infestation of fruit flies for local residents — not to mention the stench generated by mountains of rotting fruit.
This was the worst apple dump in Washington's history, in part due to overproduction, but also from shipping delays related to the labor dispute that temporarily shut down West Coast ports.6,7 This is a prime example of how our current food system creates massive waste at both ends and in the middle — from producer to distributor to consumer.
Fortunately, some trailbreakers are determined to do things differently.People Feeding People Instead of Landfills
Part of the food waste problem is distribution — getting "surplus food" to those who need it. One growing nonprofit rescues and redistributes produce rejected at the US border.8 More than half of the produce grown in Mexico comes through the Nogales border crossing, but a significant amount gets rejected. Borderlands Food Bank redirects this produce to families in need across the nation.
Borderlands rescued nearly 40 million pounds of fresh produce in 2014. CEO Yolanda Soto says, "Letting this food go to waste while hundreds of thousands go hungry is just crazy." Farther west, award-winning chef Charles Phan of the Slanted Door9 views every scrap of food as a valuable resource. The self-proclaimed "Compost Nazi" is not only one of America's top chefs but also one of San Francisco's top recyclers.
Every single scrap of food from Chef Phan's restaurant gets wheeled down to a special compost room and run through a large compactor. Phan's composting food scraps — along with 600 tons of others — are trucked to the most modern compost facility in North America – Jepson Prairie Organics.
Jepson processes hundreds of thousands of tons of food scraps from hotels, restaurants, markets, and coffee shops in the Bay Area. The compost plant is certified organic and operates virtually emissions-free. They sort, grind, and compost food scraps, then transport the final product to Bay Area farms and vineyards.10 Farmers report that Jepson compost is some of the richest they've ever used.Don't Be Trashy — Bokashi!
As shown in the film, Bokashi is a Japanese method of fermenting (or pickling) food scraps using bran inoculated with beneficial bacteria and molasses.11 The Bokashi method is an excellent way to transform your kitchen waste into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Vandra Thorburn runs a Bokashi business, collecting Bokashi buckets weekly from about 50 customers in and around Brooklyn.
Thorburn is making it her personal mission to get Bokashi composting programs into cities around the country, arguing that this unobtrusive method produces soil that could fill community gardens or revitalize worn or contaminated urban soils. Bokashi composting has the added advantage of not attracting rodents because they dislike the smell of the alcohol produced by the fermenting organic matter.
But for humans, Bokashi is almost odorless because the bacteria prevent the food from rotting. You can view detailed instructions about how to set up your own Bokashi bucket on The Compost Gardener's website.12A Dozen Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste
Other tools and strategies for reducing your food waste are outlined in the following table. To learn more about proper food storage and tips for keeping your food fresh, please also refer to our previous article.1. Shop Wisely Plan meals, use shopping lists, and avoid impulse buys and "buy one, get one free" deals, unless you're certain you'll eat it. 2. Buy Local Locally produced foods are fresher and keep longer, as well as having a smaller ecological footprint. 3. Buy Funny-Looking Fruits and Veggies Buying the "ugly ducklings" of the produce section makes use of food that might otherwise go to waste. 4. Learn When Food Goes Bad Use-by and best-by dates are only manufacturer suggestions and may cause you to discard food when it is still safe and consumable.
Many foods are safe and consumable well after their use-by date. Become familiar with how to properly deal with moldy food items. 5. Use Your Freezer Freeze fresh produce and leftovers if you won't have a chance to eat them before they go bad. Near-spoiling fruit can be frozen and later made into homemade sorbet. 6. Vacuum Pack One of my all-time favorite tricks, which works for most produce, is to create a "vacuum pack" to help protect food from oxygen and airborne microbes that will accelerate its decay.
Leave the produce in the bag it came in from the grocery store, place it against your chest, and use your arm to squeeze the excess air out of the bag. Then seal it with a twist tie. Or use an automatic vacuum sealer like the FoodSaver. 7. Start Juicing Juicing is an excellent way to use up aging produce while improving your health at the same time. Vegetable juicing also helps with weight management and is a great adjunct to home gardening. You can also compost the pulp. 8. Request Smaller Portions Restaurants will often provide half-portions upon request at reduced prices. 9. Eat Leftovers Only about half of Americans taking leftovers home from restaurants will actually consume them. 10. Compost Food Scraps Composting food scraps returns nutrients to the soil, as well as reducing organic waste in landfills. Try a Bokashi bucket! (See previous section.) 11. Grow Your Own Food Start your own vegetable garden! With square foot gardening13 and container gardening, even apartment dwellers can learn a simple technique for growing veggies on a small patio. 12. Donate Food Donate excess food and garden produce to food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, shelters — and to your friends and neighbors. Be Part of the Solution
Food waste is a serious issue — not just in the U.S. but globally. There are several strategies you can implement to reduce your own food waste, but the greater problem must be addressed system-wide, with an overhaul of our inefficient, unhealthy, and unsustainable food system.
Startups such as Food Cowboy, CropMobster, and Feeding the 5000 are finding clever ways to reduce food waste, such as diverting edible food from dumpsters to food banks, and otherwise rerouting extra food to those in need.14,15 I encourage your support of these and similar organizations. Please also support ecologically sound waste management measures in your community, and take a leadership role with your company, school, and neighborhood.
As a culture, if we don't begin doing things differently, this problem will only worsen with continued population growth. Be innovative! If you have a great idea, share it. Your capacity to come up with smarter designs and creative ideas is limitless, and many heads are better than one. Innovations move us toward a more sustainable world.
By Dr. Mercola
Science tells us that people who are thankful for what they have are happier and reach their goals with greater ease, and Thanksgiving is an American holiday that reminds us to take stock of all the things we're grateful for.
As noted in a previous article on this topic published in the Harvard Mental Health Letter:1
"Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives.
In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power."
Gratitude is also associated with improved health, both physical and emotional. Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, head of Biologic Psychology at Duke University Medical Center once stated that:2
"If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world's best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system."Being Thankful for Your Health — Every Day
While there are as many reasons to be thankful as there are people in the world, one facet of life that many often forget to be thankful for (until it is too late) is their health. We tend to take our health for granted until we're suddenly in the throes of pain or debilitating illness.
As noted by Mark Sisson:3
"What does it mean to be thankful for your health?... At its most basic level it can be a 'There but by the grace of God go I' feeling we get when someone we know dies of a heart attack or gets cancer. The news jolts us into awareness of our mortality, health being what keeps us on the other side.
Being thankful for our health, however, means more than gratitude for being alive itself.
On yet another level, it means appreciating the capacities allowed by our health – the cognitive ability to practice our profession and remember our children's names, the physical ability to walk up six flights of stairs when the elevator is being serviced...
It's about confidence that we have the strength to move most of our own stuff when need arises and take care of our children, tend to our property, and still have energy to enjoy something of everyday life..."
It goes back to the old adage that it's really the little things that matter most, and if you cultivate gratitude for the little things — such as being able to lift an overstuffed turkey out of the oven and remembering the names of all your friends and relatives around the table — it will foster a more deep-seated sense of happiness.
After all, a lot of misery is rooted in a perceived sense of lack. But if you have good health and all your mental faculties intact, you also have the prerequisite basics for doing something about your situation.Science and Practice of Gratitude
Four years ago, the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California,4 in collaboration with the University of California, launched a project called "Cultivating Gratitude in a Consumerist Society." This $5.6 million project aims to:
- Expand the scientific database of gratitude, particularly in the key areas of human health, personal, and relational well-being, and developmental science
- Promote evidence-based practices of gratitude in medical, educational, and organizational settings and in schools, workplaces, homes, and communities, and in so doing…
- Engage the public in a larger cultural conversation about the role of gratitude in civil society.
The organization has a number of resources you can peruse at your leisure, including The Science of Happiness blog and newsletter,5 and a Digital Gratitude Journal,6 where you can record and share the things you're grateful for year-round.Gratitude Pays Many Health Dividends
Keeping a gratitude journal is a practice recommended by many psychologists, and it can have far-reaching consequences. In one study,7,8 people who kept a gratitude journal reported exercising more and logged fewer doctor's visits compared to those who focused on sources of aggravation. More specifically, gratitude has been linked to:
- Improved sleep9
- Reduced stress10
- Enhanced sense of well-being11
- Improved heart health,12 reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease
While such results may sound too good to be true, studies13 have shown that gratitude actually produces a number of beneficial and measurable effects on several systems in your body, including:Mood neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine) Inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines) Reproductive hormones (testosterone) Stress hormones (cortisol) Social bonding hormones (oxytocin) Blood pressure, cardiac, and EEG rhythms Cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine) Blood sugar The Benefits of Saying Grace
Many people, even those who normally do not say grace before every meal, will join hands with their loved ones and count their blessings before digging into their Thanksgiving dinner. As previously noted in The Huffington Post,14 expressing gratitude before eating is an ancient and truly universal practice. It's not restricted to any one group, race, or religious affiliation:
"According to theologist Laurel Schneider, historically... blessings were... an expression of gratitude to various gods and a recognition that the food 'is not ours to begin with, but loaned to us,' Schneider told Spirituality & Health magazine...
'Food is a necessity for life, and centuries ago... if you were starving and got something to eat, you were mighty thankful,' [Adrian] Butash [author of Bless Your Food: Ancient and Contemporary Graces from Around the World] says. 'Today, we don't think about it that much, but when you think of food as life and death, then you can see how serious it became in the consciousness of the people.'"
Saying grace can be a great way to foster a closer and deeper connection to the food you eat, allowing for a moment to reflect on all the things that went into its creation, from the sowing of the seed, to the harvest, and the cooking. Indeed a lot of work, both by nature and man, went into creating the food before you, which will now provide you with nourishment and sustenance.
A break anywhere along the food chain can easily render food scarce, so there really is a lot to be thankful for when you have a full plate of food in front of you. And, as noted in the featured article,15 saying grace before eating is a way to flex your gratitude muscle on a daily basis:
"Often, practicing gratitude isn't an activity that we make time for. Sometimes it can even feel like a chore. But by pairing a brief gratitude exercise with an activity that we enjoy and make time for each day (like eating) can help us to make gratitude a more regular part of our lives... [leading] us to associate giving thanks with the pleasure we derive from food."Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude Year-Round
Your future health and happiness depends largely on the thoughts you think today. So each moment of every day is an opportunity to turn your thinking around, thereby helping or hindering your ability to think and feel more positively in the very next moment. Starting and/or ending each day by thinking of something you're grateful for is one way to keep your mind on the right track.
Most experts agree that there are no shortcuts to happiness. Even generally happy people do not experience joy 24 hours a day. But, a happy person can have a bad day and still find pleasure in the small things in life. So be thankful for what you have.
By focusing on what's good right now, in the present moment, you become more open to receive greater abundance in the future. Remember to say "thank you" — to yourself, the Universe, and others. And with that, I want to say THANK YOU to you, my readers, for your continued support throughout the year, and I wish you all a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!
Russia's Sergey Lavrov is not one foreign minister known to mince his words. Just earlier today, 24 hours after a Russian plane was brought down by the country whose president three years ago said "a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack", had this to say: "We have serious doubts this was an unintended incident and believe this is a planned provocation" by Turkey.
But even that was tame compared to what Lavrov said to his Turkish counterparty Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier today during a phone call between the two (Lavrov who was supposed to travel to Turkey has since canceled such plans).
As Sputnik transcribes, according to a press release from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov pointed out that, "by shooting down a Russian plane on a counter-terrorist mission of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria, and one that did not violate Turkey’s airspace, the Turkish government has in effect sided with ISIS."
It was in this context when Lavrov added that "Turkey’s actions appear premeditated, planned, and undertaken with a specific objective."
More importantly, Lavrov pointed to Turkey’s role in the propping up the terror network through the oil trade. Per the Russian statement:
"The Russian Minister reminded his counterpart about Turkey’s involvement in the ISIS’ illegal trade in oil, which is transported via the area where the Russian plane was shot down, and about the terrorist infrastructure, arms and munitions depots and control centers that are also located there."
Others reaffirmed Lavrov's stance, such as retired French General Dominique Trinquand, who said that "Turkey is either not fighting ISIL at all or very little, and does not interfere with different types of smuggling that takes place on its border, be it oil, phosphate, cotton or people," he said.
The reason we find this line of questioning fascinating is that just last week in the aftermath of the French terror attack but long before the Turkish downing of the Russian jet, we wrote about "The Most Important Question About ISIS That Nobody Is Asking" in which we asked who is the one "breaching every known law of funding terrorism when buying ISIS crude, almost certainly with the tacit approval by various "western alliance" governments, and why is it that these governments have allowed said middleman to continue funding ISIS for as long as it has?"
Precisely one week later, in even more tragic circumstances, suddenly everyone is asking this question.
And while we patiently dig to find who the on and offshore "commodity trading" middleman are, who cart away ISIS oil to European and other international markets in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars, one name keeps popping up as the primary culprit of regional demand for the Islamic State's "terrorist oil" - that of Turkish president Recep Erdo?an's son: Bilal Erdo?an.
His very brief bio:
Necmettin Bilal Erdo?an, commonly known as Bilal Erdo?an (born 23 April 1980) is the third child of Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, the current President of Turkey.
After graduating from Kartal Imam Hatip High School in 1999, Bilal Erdogan moved to the US for undergraduate education. He also earned a Masters Degree in John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2004. After graduation, he served in the World Bank as intern for a while. He returned Turkey in 2006 and started to his business life. Bilal Erdogan is one of the three equal shareholders of "BMZ Group Denizcilik ve ?n?aat Sanayi Anonim ?irketi", a marine transportation corporation.
Here is a recent picture of Bilal, shown in a photo from a Turkish 2014 article, which "asked why his ships are now in Syria":
In the next few days, we will present a full breakdown of Bilal's various business ventures, starting with his BMZ Group which is the name implicated most often in the smuggling of illegal Iraqi and Islamic State through to the western supply chain, but for now here is a brief, if very disturbing snapshot, of both father and son Erdogan by F. William Engdahl, one which should make everyone ask whether the son of Turkey's president (and thus, the father) is the silent mastermind who has been responsible for converting millions of barrels of Syrian Oil into hundreds of millions of dollars of Islamic State revenue.
By F. William Engdahl, posted originally in New Eastern Outlook:
Erdogan's Dirth Dangerous ISIS Games
More and more details are coming to light revealing that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, variously known as ISIS, IS or Daesh, is being fed and kept alive by Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, the Turkish President and by his Turkish intelligence service, including MIT, the Turkish CIA. Turkey, as a result of Erdo?an’s pursuit of what some call a Neo-Ottoman Empire fantasies that stretch all the way to China, Syria and Iraq, threatens not only to destroy Turkey but much of the Middle East if he continues on his present path.
In October 2014 US Vice President Joe Biden told a Harvard gathering that Erdo?an’s regime was backing ISIS with “hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons…” Biden later apologized clearly for tactical reasons to get Erdo?an’s permission to use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base for airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, but the dimensions of Erdo?an’s backing for ISIS since revealed is far, far more than Biden hinted.
ISIS militants were trained by US, Israeli and now it emerges, by Turkish special forces at secret bases in Konya Province inside the Turkish border to Syria, over the past three years. Erdo?an’s involvement in ISIS goes much deeper. At a time when Washington, Saudi Arabia and even Qatar appear to have cut off their support for ISIS, they remaining amazingly durable. The reason appears to be the scale of the backing from Erdo?an and his fellow neo-Ottoman Sunni Islam Prime Minister, Ahmet Davuto?lu.
Nice Family Business
The prime source of money feeding ISIS these days is sale of Iraqi oil from the Mosul region oilfields where they maintain a stronghold. The son of Erdo?an it seems is the man who makes the export sales of ISIS-controlled oil possible.
Bilal Erdo?an owns several maritime companies. He has allegedly signed contracts with European operating companies to carry Iraqi stolen oil to different Asian countries. The Turkish government buys Iraqi plundered oil which is being produced from the Iraqi seized oil wells. Bilal Erdo?an’s maritime companies own special wharfs in Beirut and Ceyhan ports that are transporting ISIS’ smuggled crude oil in Japan-bound oil tankers.
Gürsel Tekin vice-president of the Turkish Republican Peoples’ Party, CHP, declared in a recent Turkish media interview, “President Erdo?an claims that according to international transportation conventions there is no legal infraction concerning Bilal’s illicit activities and his son is doing an ordinary business with the registered Japanese companies, but in fact Bilal Erdo?an is up to his neck in complicity with terrorism, but as long as his father holds office he will be immune from any judicial prosecution.” Tekin adds that Bilal’s maritime company doing the oil trades for ISIS, BMZ Ltd, is “a family business and president Erdo?an’s close relatives hold shares in BMZ and they misused public funds and took illicit loans from Turkish banks.”
In addition to son Bilal’s illegal and lucrative oil trading for ISIS, Sümeyye Erdo?an, the daughter of the Turkish President apparently runs a secret hospital camp inside Turkey just over the Syrian border where Turkish army trucks daily being in scores of wounded ISIS Jihadists to be patched up and sent back to wage the bloody Jihad in Syria, according to the testimony of a nurse who was recruited to work there until it was discovered she was a member of the Alawite branch of Islam, the same as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who Erdo?an seems hell-bent on toppling.
Turkish citizen Ramazan Ba?ol, captured this month by Kurdish People’s Defence Units,YPG, as he attempted to join ISIS from Konya province, told his captors that said he was sent to ISIS by the ‘?smail A?a Sect,’ a strict Turkish Islam sect reported to be tied to Recep Erdo?an. Ba?ol said the sect recruits members and provides logistic support to the radical Islamist organization. He added that the Sect gives jihad training in neighborhoods of Konya and sends those trained here to join ISIS gangs in Syria.
According to French geopolitical analyst, Thierry Meyssan, Recep Erdo?an “organised the pillage of Syria, dismantled all the factories in Aleppo, the economic capital, and stole the machine-tools. Similarly, he organised the theft of archeological treasures and set up an international market in Antioch…with the help of General Benoît Puga, Chief of Staff for the Elysée, he organised a false-flag operation intended to provoke the launching of a war by the Atlantic Alliance – the chemical bombing of la Ghoutta in Damascus, in August 2013. “
Meyssan claims that the Syria strategy of Erdo?an was initially secretly developed in coordination with former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé and Erdo?an’s then Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu, in 2011, after Juppe won a hesitant Erdo?an to the idea of supporting the attack on traditional Turkish ally Syria in return for a promise of French support for Turkish membership in the EU. France later backed out, leaving Erdo?an to continue the Syrian bloodbath largely on his own using ISIS.
Gen. John R. Allen, an opponent of Obama’s Iran peace strategy, now US diplomatic envoy coordinating the coalition against the Islamic State, exceeded his authorized role after meeting with Erdo?an and “promised to create a "no-fly zone" ninety miles wide, over Syrian territory, along the whole border with Turkey, supposedly intended to help Syrian refugees fleeing from their government, but in reality to apply the "Juppé-Wright plan". The Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davuto?lu, revealed US support for the project on the TV channel A Haber by launching a bombing raid against the PKK.” Meyssan adds.
There are never winners in war and Erdo?an’s war against Syria’s Assad demonstrates that in bold. Turkey and the world deserve better. Ahmet Davuto?lu’s famous “Zero Problems With Neighbors” foreign policy has been turned into massive problems with all neighbors due to the foolish ambitions of Erdo?an and his gang.
This time of the year, whether in good economic times or bad, is when Americans gather with their families and friends and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together. It marks a remembrance of those early Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the uncharted ocean from Europe to make a new start in Plymouth, Massachusetts. What is less appreciated is that Thanksgiving also is a celebration of the birth of free enterprise in America.
The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620, were not only escaping from religious persecution in their homeland. They also wanted to turn their back on what they viewed as the materialistic and greedy corruption of the Old World.
Plymouth Colony Planned as Collectivist Utopia
In the New World, they wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s “Republic,” in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness.
What resulted is recorded in the diary of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked the land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood.
The less industrious members of the colony came late to their work in the fields, and were slow and easy in their labors. Knowing that they and their families were to receive an equal share of whatever the group produced, they saw little reason to be more diligent in their efforts. The harder working among the colonists became resentful that their efforts would be redistributed to the more malingering members of the colony. Soon they, too, were coming late to work and were less energetic in the fields.
Collective Work Equaled Individual Resentment
As Governor Bradford of the Plymouth Colony explained in his old English (though with the spelling modernized):
“For the young men that were able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children, without recompense. The strong, or men of parts, had no more division of food, clothes, etc. then he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labor, and food, clothes, etc. with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignant and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc. they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could husbands brook it.”
Because of the disincentives and resentments that spread among the population, crops were sparse and the rationed equal shares from the collective harvest were not enough to ward off starvation and death. Two years of communism in practice had left alive only a fraction of the original number of the Plymouth colonists.
Private Property as Incentive to Industry
Realizing that another season like those that had just passed would mean the extinction of the entire community, the elders of the colony decided to try something radically different: the introduction of private property rights and the right of the individual families to keep the fruits of their own labor.
As Governor Bradford put it:
“And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number for that end . . . This had a very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted then otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little-ones with them to set corn, which before would a ledge weakness, and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”
The Plymouth Colony experienced a great bounty of food. Private ownership meant that there was now a close link between work and reward. Industry became the order of the day as the men and women in each family went to the fields on their separate private farms. When the harvest time came, not only did many families produce enough for their own needs, but also they had surpluses that they could freely exchange with their neighbors for mutual benefit and improvement.
In Governor Bradford’s words:
“By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God. And the effect of their planting was well seen, for all had, one way or other, pretty well to bring the year about, and some of the abler sort and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.”
Rejecting Collectivism for Individualism
Hard experience had taught the Plymouth colonists the fallacy and error in the ideas that since the time of the ancient Greeks had promised paradise through collectivism rather than individualism. As Governor Bradford expressed it:
“The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst the Godly and sober men, may well convince of the vanity and conceit of Plato’s and other ancients; — that the taking away of property, and bringing into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.”
Was this realization that communism was incompatible with human nature and the prosperity of humanity to be despaired or be a cause for guilt? Not in Governor Bradford’s eyes. It was simply a matter of accepting that altruism and collectivism were inconsistent with the nature of man, and that human institutions should reflect the reality of man’s nature if he is to prosper. Said Governor Bradford:
“Let none object this is man’s corruption, and nothing to the curse itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”
The desire to “spread the wealth” and for government to plan and regulate people’s lives is as old as the utopian fantasy in Plato’s “Republic.” The Pilgrim Fathers tried and soon realized its bankruptcy and failure as a way for men to live together in society.
They, instead, accepted man as he is: hardworking, productive, and innovative when allowed the liberty to follow his own interests in improving his own circumstances and that of his family. And even more, out of his industry result the quantities of useful goods that enable men to trade to their mutual benefit.
Giving Thanks for the Triumph of Freedom
In the wilderness of the New World, the Plymouth Pilgrims had progressed from the false dream of communism to the sound realism of capitalism. At a time of economic uncertainty and growing political paternalism, it is worthwhile recalling this beginning of the American experiment and experience with freedom.
This is the lesson of the First Thanksgiving. This year, when we, Americans sit around our dining table with family and friends, we should also remember that what we are really celebrating is the birth of free men and free enterprise in that New World of America.
The true meaning of Thanksgiving, in other words, is the triumph of Capitalism over the failure of Collectivism in all its forms.
Day after day, the 'stability' in the stock "markets" (specifically in AsiaPac) is posited as 'proof' that China is 'fixed', the worst is over in EMs, The Fed can raise rates, and massive monetray policy manipulation of market signals had no mal-investment consequences. Well all of that utter crap just got obliterated as China's right-hand-man in the credit-fueled commodity boom bust - Australia - just saw its business capital expenditure collapse 20% YoY - the biggest drop ever, accelerating the crash in business spending to 11 quarters. As Goldman warns, this exposes significant downside risk to any forecast for GDP recovery in 2016.
Recovery? Spin this into recovery!!
As Goldman Sach details,
For consecutive quarters, Australia’s private capex report was weaker than expected across the board – highlighting the risk of an outright contraction in domestic demand in 3Q2015 and a disappointing recovery in growth through 2016. In particular, we note a -9.2%qoq decline in capex in the quarter (BBG consensus: -2.9%qoq), and further sequential deterioration in the FY16 investment intentions component of the report. As it stands, the data speak to an ~-20% contraction in capex in FY16 which – even assuming better capex trends outside of this survey – appears completely at odds with the ~-7% decline in investment forecast by the broader consensus (Consensus Economics). Today’s data highlight that domestic demand likely contracted outright in 3Q2015 and the downside risk to the RBA’s forecast recovery in GDP to a +3.0%yoy pace by end-2016. If growth continues to fall short of expectations as we fear, the prospect of RBA rate cuts remains a very real one.
Private capital expenditure, Septquarter: -9.2% qoq, -20.0% yoy (Bloomberg consensus: -2.9% qoq, GS: -4.0% qoq);
- Machinery & equipment (MEI): -8.2% qoq, -12.7%yoy
- Building & structures (B&S): -9.8% qoq, -23.6% yoy
Private capital expenditure,2015-16Intentions (4thestimate): -19.7% (down from -18.8% 3rd estimate)
- Mining sector: -30.6% (from -29.1% previously)
- Manufacturing: -9.8% (from -8.8% previously)
- 'Other': -8.5% (from -8.1% previously)
1. Today’s capex report was weaker than expected across the board, with weaker implications for both investment in 3Q2015 and the outlook through FY16 as a whole. Looking specifically at the historical data , the headline -9.2%qoq decline in private capex was a far larger contraction than expected (GS: -4.0%qoq; BBG consensus: -2.9%qoq), with weakness equally spread across the building & structures (-9.8%qoq) and machinery & equipment (-8.2%qoq) components. It is this fall in the latter that has the most relevance for next Wednesday’s 3Q2015 National Accounts and – alongside yesterday’s weak construction data - is a stark reminder that the unwind of Australia’s mining investment boom presents a profound headwind to overall growth.
2. Looking at the investment intentions data, the read-though was also to the weaker side. To be clear, on face value, the “raw” estimate for FY16 spending increased by ~$4.6bn to $120.4bn compared with the third estimate for FY16. There are several important caveats to this apparent improvement however:
- Firstly, compared with the fourth estimate for capex spending for FY15, the raw $120.4 number implies a 20.9% fall.
- Secondly, as there is typically a tendency to initially under-estimate in the survey process and therefore almost always a very strong increase in capex estimates at this point in the survey, it is important to adjust the raw numbers using realization ratios. Using long-run realization ratios, for example, has markedly weaker implications – we note that compared with the third estimate for FY16 (-18.8%), the fourth estimate suggests capex will fall by an even larger -19.7% in FY16. In context, there has now been a sequential deterioration in the FY16 capex outlook over each of the past four estimates, with this deterioration broad-based across the “other selected industries” (-8.5%) and mining sectors (-30.6%).
- Finally, putting the ~20% decline in FY16 capex suggested by today’s data in context, we note that markedly more modest declines in broader business investment are currently baked into the forecasts of consensus (~-7.0%), Treasury (-7%) and ourselves (GS: -11.5%). To be fair, the capex survey does not incorporate trends in public spending in health and education – however, fiscal constraints and relevant leading indicators all suggest that the outlook in these sectors is subdued at best. All things considered, this survey appears completely at odds with the relatively modest contraction in investment many are forecasting. For our part, we remain the most bearish in the market on the investment cycle and see the risks to our own forecast as skewed to the downside (For full details on our relatively cautious views on the investment outlook, please see: Detail - Australia and New Zealand Economic Analyst: Ongoing risks to Australian Investment: A Regional Perspective, 17/8/2015).
3Q2015 GDP estimate:Ahead of next Wednesday’s National Accounts, today’s weaker-than-expected capex numbers require a -20bp reduction in our 3Q2015 GDP tracking estimate to +0.8%qoq. On face value at least, this is still a relatively solid expansion in activity, but today’s update highlights that the headline increase is masking markedly weaker underlying trends. Specifically, with net exports adding ~1.4pts to GDP in the quarter, domestic demand looks on track for an outright contraction.
We will revisit our estimate on receipt of the remaining partial data on Monday (profits & inventories) and Tuesday (trade and public demand) next week.
Reflecting on the implications of the composition of 3Q2015 GDP for monetary policy, we note that such a large (in part weather-related) boost to growth from net exports is likely unsustainable, yet severe headwinds from the mining capex cycle are expected to remain in place for some time. Indeed, on the RBA’s own forecasts, the adjustment in mining capex is only half complete, with ~3% of GDP worth of mining capex to fall out of the growth equation over the coming years. With the tailwinds from the housing construction cycle starting to fade, population growth slowing and public demand constrained by Australia’s public finances – it is hard to find a sustainable offset to the capex headwind elsewhere in the economy. While it is true that LNG export volumes will ramp-up over time, the trend has been towards project delays and the shipments will be delivered into a very weak price environment in any case.
Overall, we remain concerned about the growth outlook in Australia. Notwithstanding, a reported improvement in surveyed business conditions, there is nothing in today’s update to comfort the RBA that this is translating to anything concrete on the investment front. In turn, we see material downside risks to the RBA’s forecast reacceleration in GDP growth to a +3.0%yoy rate by the end of 2016. To the degree growth continues to fall short of the RBA’s expectations, the prospect of further easing will remain on the table.
The recreational cannabis industry is changing fast, and the last few years have been a blur for investors observing the space.
More people today believe that cannabis should be legal than ever before, and famed investors like Peter Thiel have already made giant bets on the future of recreational cannabis.
Here’s five facts you need to know on the fast-moving industry:
- Recreational cannabis is already legal in four states and D.C. It is also available for medical purposes in 20 other states, as well as Canada. Viridian Capital Advisors, which provides research to the cannabis sector, estimates between 6 to 13 states will legalize recreational usage by end of 2016.
- Legal cannabis was a $700 million industry in Colorado last year. In 2014, Colorado retailers sold $386 million of medical cannabis and $313 million for recreational purposes. The two segments of the market generated $63 million in tax revenue, with an additional $13 million collected in licenses and fees.
- Stocks in the sector have boomed over the last two years. The Viridian Cannabis Index, which covers 60 publicly traded cannabis companies in the United States and Canada, was up 77.5% in 2013, 38.4% in 2014, and 23.6% in 2015 Q1.
- Total legal cannabis sales have sailed in recent years With $1.6 billion in sales in 2013, it is expected to increase to $3.5 billion in 2018, which is good for an expected 17% compound annual growth rate.
- Nearly half of U.S. states and all of Canada now have access to medical cannabis. That includes 23 states (148.6 million people), 1 district (0.7 million people) and Canada (35.2 million people). That’s 52% of the entire population of the United States and Canada.
The landscape of the cannabis industry is quickly changing. More jurisdictions are turning to legalization of medical and recreational cannabis, and the growth story behind the industry is just beginning for investors.
Turkey’s shooting down of the Russian anti-ISIL aircraft was an unprecedentedly direct aggression against Moscow that trumps even the tense and hostile militarism of the Old Cold War era. The world stands on edge in the immediate aftermath of this attack, with tabloid-esque commentators warning that the beginning of World War III awaits. President Putin, for his part, has been much more measured in responding to the incident, but still couldn’t contain his shock at having received this “stab in the back delivered by accomplices of the terrorists.”
The question now comes down to how Russia will respond to what happened, but perhaps even more important for observers to ponder is why the US is unofficially distancing itself from its ally’s aggression. Despite both NATO and Obama giving full backing to Turkey’s fateful decision, Reuters has quoted an anonymous American military official that purposely leaked that the Russian plane was downed while over Syrian airspace, basing the assessment on heat signature detection. This raises questions about why the US is playing both sides of the fence – on one hand, publicly supporting Turkey, while on the other, strategically releasing information that conflicts with Turkey’s official depiction of events.
This dichotomy is suggestive of a Machiavellian plan whereby the US manipulates both Turkey and Russia into behaving according to what it has already forecast as their most likely responses, knowing full well that these could be guided into supporting grander American strategic interests. For starters, the US likely intimated to Erdogan that not only does he have the ‘legal’ right to shoot down any Russian aircraft he chooses, but that the US would actually prefer for him to take this course of action sooner than later. This is reminiscently similar to how the US put Sakkashvili up to bombing Tskhinval and invading South Ossetia – it may not have directly issued an official, on-paper order for this to occur, but it left no ambiguity as to how it wanted its proxy to act in each situation.
According To Plan:
For the most part, this explains the public pronouncements of NATO and the US’ support for Turkey’s actions, and it also goes a long way in soothing Erdogan’s nerves and reassuring him that he did the right thing. The predicted aftereffect of the plane’s downing was an immediate deterioration of Russian-Turkish relations, with the full consequences potentially affecting the diplomatic, military, economic, and energy spheres. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cancelled his upcoming trip to Turkey and advised Russian tourists to refrain from visiting the country due to the terrorism level being similar to Egypt’s. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has spoken about the possibility of barring Turkish companies from the Russian market and cancelling planned nuclear and gas projects with the country.
All of these prospective actions are fully justifiable and grounded in the self-respect that Russia feels in not aiding what has proven itself to be a militantly hostile state no matter the economic stakes involved, but at the same time, one can’t help but wonder whether this is exactly what the US wanted. There’s no doubt that Russia would react this way, as even a cursory glance of its potential ‘response toolkit’ indicates that these are the most likely to be taken amidst any deterioration of relations. Therefore, it can’t be discounted that the US put Erdogan up to shooting down the Russian jet precisely to provoke the predictable Russian response in threatening to cancel its forthcoming energy projects with Turkey, the core of the strategic partnership between the two. If this is the case, and it certainly seems likely, then it shows exactly how far the US is willing to go to make sure that Russian energy (and subsequently, all of the soft power and multipolar advantages that come with it) doesn’t enter the Balkans through the Turkish Stream megaproject, likely because it understands the transformative impact that this would eventually have on the entire region.
Thus far, everything seems reasonable and well within the realm of predictability, but the curveball comes with the Reuters revelation that an unnamed American military source is essentially saying that the Russian position is justified. Unexpectedly, it now seems as though the US is also playing to Russia’s side to an extent, and this raises questions about what it really wants. After all, it’s been proven beyond any doubt that American-supplied TOW anti-tank missiles were used to down the Russian rescue helicopter that attempted to retrieve the two pilots. With this indisputable evidence of indirect American aggression against Russia, it certainly is a curious fact that the US establishment would purposely leak a statement saying that the Turkey downed the Russian plane in Syrian airspace, and basically take Russia’s side on this behind the scenes.
Playing The Kurdish Card:
Explaining this diplomatic twist requires knowledge about the popular response that Russian citizens and global supporters worldwide are requesting to Turkey’s aggression. They quite reasonably propose that Russia intensify its arms shipments to anti-ISIL Kurdish fighters, with the wink-and-a-nod approval that some of them would be siphoned off to the PKK and be used against the Turkish military. This is an effective and pragmatic plan, and in reality, it actually doesn’t even require a policy shift from Moscow because support is already being rendered to some Kurdish groups as part of their joint cooperation in the anti-ISIL struggle. The Kurdish Insurgency hasn’t gone away since Erdogan unwittingly unearthed it this summer as an electioneering tool, and the fact that it’s still going strong even after the elections has scared him so much that he might have been the one who ordered the recent assassination attempt against pro-Kurdish HDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas. Thus, if Russia chooses to inflict an asymmetrical response to Turkey by beefing up its indirect support for the PKK and other Turkish-based anti-government Kurds or disrupting Blue Stream gas supplies in order to provoke an intensified rebellion, then it could certainly inflict a heavy amount of strategic damage to Erdogan and increase the likelihood either of a military coup in Turkey (explained more in detail as part of a different article accessible here) and/or the creation of an independent Kurdistan.
That being said, the US has traditionally been the out-of-regional power that has the greatest interest in Kurdistan, seeing the possible state as a ‘geopolitical Israel’ from which it can simultaneously exert influence on the rump portions of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The strategic trajectory of a theorized Kurdish state has been complicated by the anti-ISIL campaign, however, since many Kurds have shown themselves to be pragmatic in cooperating with Russia and Iran against this shared threat. The positive multipolar cooperation that each of these countries has engaged in with the Kurds challenges the US’ planned hegemony over them and their territory, and it thus means that any forthcoming independent Kurdish political entity could theoretically go either towards the multipolar or the unipolar camps. At this point in time, and given all of the dynamic military and diplomatic developments of the past couple of months, the loyalty of a future Kurdish state (no matter if its boundaries are confined only to present-day Turkey and/or Iraq) is totally up for grabs, and it’s impossible to accurately forecast which way it will go.
The strategic ambiguity that this entails means a few things to the US and Russia. For the US, it indicates that the time is now for it to bunker down and support Kurdistan’s independence before it loses the strategic initiative to Russia, which might be moving in this direction (whether formally or informally) out of grand geopolitical spite for Turkey. Moscow, as was just mentioned, seems inclined to hit Ankara where it hurts most, and that’s through supporting the Kurdish Insurgency in one way or another. However, it’s not yet known how far this would go, and whether Russia would pursue this strategy as a form of short-term vengeance or if it would resolutely go as far in recognizing Kurdish Independence if it could ever be de-facto actualized. Of course, Russia wouldn’t do anything that could endanger the territorial integrity of its Syrian, Iraqi, and Iranian allies, but if the Turkish-based Kurds contained their ambitions solely within the borders of Russia’s historical rival, then it might be able to rectify itself with this reality, especially if they even refrain from legal independence and instead seek a sort of broadly de-facto independent federative or autonomous status within a unified Turkey (which could only realistically be brought about by an intensified insurgency and/or a coup in Ankara).
Joining Hands For Kurdistan:
Having explained all of this, it’s now clear that a remarkable convergence of strategic interests has developed between the US and Russia focusing on Turkish-administered Kurdistan. Understanding the changing calculations that Russia may now be having towards this topic as a response to Turkey’s aggression against it, one can’t necessarily preclude the possibility that the Reuters leak was actually a strategic overture to Russia. Washington might be sending a signal that it wants to speak to Moscow about ways to cooperate in this regard, knowing that each of them possibly have an interest now in seeing the proto-state rise to the fore of the global arena. A shared understanding has likely developed by now that a New Cold War competition for Kurdistan’s loyalty could be fought after the entity is legally formalized (whether as an independent state or a de-facto independent sub-state entity modeled off of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq), and that the two Great Powers need to put aside some of their differences in joining hands to see this happen first.
Such a strong signal could have been discretely and secretly communicated to Russia via secure diplomatic and intelligence channels, but the reason it was so publicly broadcast via Reuters, the global newswire service, is because the US also wants to send a signal to Turkey as well. Despite taking its side on the matter before the global eye, the US is also “stabbing its ally in the back”, to channel President Putin, by purposely leaking the information that the Russian jet was shot down over Syrian airspace. It’s not news that the US has been unhappy with Erdogan for not behaving more submissively in the past and refusing to blindly go along with the previous plans to invade Syria (rendered useless after Russia’s anti-terrorist military intervention there), so it might be trying to convey the message it’s had enough of his games and is now playing their own in return. Of course, the US has always been manipulating Turkey ever since it joined NATO and allowed the Americans to operate out of Incirlik airbase, but this time, the treachery is being taken to a higher level by implicitly throwing out suggestions to Russia, Turkey’s new foe (and only because the US manipulated Turkey into taking aggressive action against it), that it might want to team up in undermining Ankara’s control over its volatile southeast.
It can safely be assumed that the US influenced Turkey into shooting down the Russian jet over Syrian airspace, predicting quite accurately that this would immediately lead to the deterioration of ties between the two states. An elementary forecast of the specific counter-measures that Russia may take stipulates that these will likely relate to the diplomatic, economic, and energy sectors, which is just what the US wants. Because of Turkey’s aggression against Russia, the strategic partnership between the two is now broken (although not necessarily irreversibly), and Ankara has become the fourth and perhaps most geopolitically significant member of the anti-Russian Intermarum coalition. Furthermore, Turkish Stream looks to be indefinitely put on hold, thus delaying Russia’s game-changing pivot to the Balkans. While the ‘unintended’ consequence of the crisis has been Russia’s foreseeable and absolutely legitimate decision to deploy the S-400 SAM system to Syria, this in a way also plays to the manipulated Turkish-Russian rivalry that the US wanted to produce in order to solidify the completion of the Intermarum project and simultaneously counter Russia’s growing influence in the Mideast.
The reaction that no one could have predicted, however, is the US purposely leaking comments to Reuters that support the Russian version of events, namely, that the anti-terrorist jet was shot down while flying over Syrian airspace. This completely conflicts with what the US and NATO have said in public, but it shows that the US has had enough time to game out the plane-shooting scenario well in advance, and that it’s playing a sinister divide-and-conquer game against Turkey and Russia. Put in the position where its decision makers are scrambling for responses to the unprecedented aggression against them, Russia can now more easily be led into supporting the Kurdish struggle for sovereignty (whether formally independent or de-facto so) in Turkey, which coincides with one of the US’ premier geopolitical projects.
From an American perspective, a divided Turkey is doubly useful for its grand strategic designs, as the large pro-NATO Turkish military would remain mostly intact, while the US could gain a major base for force projection (both hard and soft) right in between some of the most important states in the region. It can’t, however, go fully forward with this project unless it has the support of the diplomatic leader of the multipolar world, Russia, otherwise Kurdistan will be just as illegitimate as Kosovo is and might not even come to geopolitical fruition if Moscow and Tehran work to stop it.
Seen from the Russian standpoint, the US’ intimations actually seen quite attractive. An increase of Russian support to anti-ISIL Kurdish fighters would be a plausibly deniable but strategically obvious way to funnel weapons and equipment to anti-Turkish PKK insurgents. Weakening Turkey from within would be a strong asymmetrical response to a country that has lately been a major thorn in Moscow’s side, and it might create the conditions either for a military coup against Erdogan, a divide between him and Davutoglu (which could be used to Russia’s diplomatic advantage so long as the constitution remains unchanged and Davutoglu legally remains more powerful than Erdogan), or a weakening of Erdogan and a tempering of his anti-Russian and anti-Syrian positions.
Importantly, the emergence of an independent or semi-independent Kurdish entity in Turkey could create a tempting piece of geopolitical real estate in the New Cold War, but of course, it would then be contested between the multipolar and unipolar worlds. Still, however, it would represent a positive multipolar development in the Mideast, since under the present state of affairs, the entirety of Turkish territory is under unipolar control. If a large chunk of it suddenly became the object of competition between both blocs, then it would definitely signify a strategic advancement at the expense of unipolarity. Of equal importance, this would also significantly impact on the Turkish state and whatever government is in power by that time, and it could possibly make it more amenable to returning to the previously pragmatic relationship with Russia and perhaps even resurrecting Turkish Stream.
Therefore, Russia surprisingly has nothing to lose and everything to gain by covertly supporting the Kurdish cause in Turkey, no matter if it’s full-out independence or relatively more restrained autonomy, and even if this is objective is shared by the US and done in semi-coordination with it. Turkey would immediately be put on the defensive (although it could try desperately responding by supporting Tatar terrorists in Crimea), the multipolar world have a chance at competing for the loyalty of an ultra-strategically positioned entity, and the consequences that this has for the Turkish government (whether it remains the same or is changed via a [military] coup) could recreate the political conditions for Turkish Stream’s feasibility.
Despite distressed-debt funds suffering their worst losses since 2008, mainstream apologists continue to largely ignore the carnage in the credit market (even though veteran bond managers have urged "it's not just energy, it's everything.") With the number of loan deals pricing below 80 (distressed) at cycle peaks, and "a less diverse group of investors holding a lot more bonds," price swings continue to be wild but as DB's Melentyev warns, initially "all of this looks random when there is no underlying news to support the big moves. But eventually a narrative emerges -- maybe we have turned the corner on the credit cycle."
Investors are shunning the lowest-rated junk bonds.
That is underscored by the extra yield that investors are demanding to hold CCC rated credits relative to those rated BB. This has jumped to the most in six years.
With confidence slipping in the strength of the global economy, there are fewer investors to take the opposite side of a trade in the riskiest parts of the market, according to Oleg Melentyev, the head of U.S. credit strategy at Deutsche Bank.
"These are all small dominoes in one corner of the market," Melentyev said. "In the early stage, all of this looks random when there is no underlying news to support the big moves. But eventually a narrative emerges -- maybe we have turned the corner on the credit cycle.
One sometimes-overlooked element that’s contributing to the big price swings is the increasing concentration among investors, according to Stephen Antczak, head of credit strategy at Citigroup Inc.
Mutual funds, insurance companies and foreign investors make up 68 percent of corporate bondholders compared with 52 percent at the end of 2007.
That means that if one mutual fund investor wants to sell some holdings, there isn’t another one that’s ready to step in. That’s because they typically have similar mandates from investors and often need to sell for the same reasons.
"A less diverse group of investors hold a lot more bonds," Antczak said. "The difference between incremental buyer is more now than it used to be. It takes a bigger move to get people interested."
Bonds of smaller companies that carry a high amount of debt relative to earnings are most susceptible to falling quickly after earnings are reported, said Michael Carley, a co-founder of hedge-fund firm Lutetium Capital.
Money managers looking at the bonds of those types of companies aren’t spending time examining the issues in those businesses before selling because they’ve got their “own wounds to lick,” said Carley, the former co-head of distressed debt at UBS AG. “And the dealers are saying, ‘I don’t own it; I don’t care.’ So it just plunges.”
As we noted previously, for the first time ever, primary dealers' corporate bond inventories have turned unprecedentedly negative. While in the short-term Goldman believes this inventory drawdown is probably a by-product of strong customer demand, they are far more cautious longer-term, warning that the "usual suspects" are not sufficient to account for the striking magnitude of inventory declines... and are increasingly of the view that "the tide is going out" on corporate bond market liquidity implying wider spreads and thus higher costs of funding to compensate for the reduction is risk-taking capacity.
* * *
One wonders when stock investors will wake up again?
PCR Debates the Intelligent and Gracious Stefan Molyneux about Private vs. Government Power
The post PCR Debates the Intelligent and Gracious Stefan Molyneux about Private vs. Government Power appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.
By Mike Kentz
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
NEW YORK -- A class-action lawsuit, filed today, accuses 10 of Wall Street's biggest banks and two trading platforms of conspiring to limit competition in the $320 trillion market for interest rate swaps.
The class action lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, accuses Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Barclays, BNP Paribas, UBS, Deutsche Bank, and the Royal Bank of Scotland of colluding to prevent the trading of interest rate swaps on electronic exchanges, like the ones on which stocks are traded.
As a result, the lawsuit alleges, banks have successfully prevented new competition from non-banks in the lucrative market for dealing interest rate swaps, the world's most commonly traded derivative.
The banks "have been able to extract billions of dollars in monopoly rents, year after year, from the class members in this case," the lawsuit alleged. ...
... For the remainder of the report:
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Support GATA by purchasing DVDs of GATA's London conference in August 2011 or GATA's Dawson City conference in August 2006:
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By Jonathan Stempel
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Pacific Investment Management Co. and other investors have sued Citigroup Inc. over the bank's alleged failure to properly monitor toxic securities backed by more than $13.8 billion of mortgage loans, resulting in $2.3 billion of losses.
According to a complaint filed Tuesday night in a New York state court in Manhattan, Citigroup breached its duties as trustee for the 25 private-label trusts dating from 2004 to 2007 by ignoring "pervasive and systemic deficiencies" in how the underlying loans were underwritten or being serviced.
The investors said Citigroup looked askance at the loans' "abysmal performance" out of fear it might "jeopardize its close business relationships" with loan servicers including Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., or prompt them to retaliate over its own problem loans. ...
... For the remainder of the report:
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Goldbroker.com is listed among GATA's recommended monetary metals dealers:
To invest or learn more, please visit:
Support GATA by purchasing DVDs of GATA's London conference in August 2011 or GATA's Dawson City conference in August 2006:
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Help keep GATA going
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Last week, we brought you the latest from Puerto Rico’s debt debacle. The commonwealth is desperately trying to restructure some $72 billion in debt while staring down a $354 million bond payment due on December 1.
As we discussed at length on Friday, some $270 million of what’s due next week is GO debt guaranteed by the National Public Finance Guarantee Corp. Defaulting on that is bad news and as Moody’s warned earlier this month, a missed payment on the commonwealth’s highest priority obligations “would likely trigger legal action from creditors, commencing a potentially drawn-out process absent swift federal intervention.”
Make no mistake, federal intervention is likely to be anything but “swift.”
A Senate judiciary committee headed by Iowa Republican Charles Grassley will meet on December 1 to discuss a legislative proposal to assist the Padilla government, but it’s hard to imagine that a decision will be made in time to avert at least a partial default.
Ultimately, the decision will be between paying bondholders and ensuring that the government can continue to provide public services, and just as Greece prioritized pensions over IMF payments last summer, Padilla isn’t likely to sacrifice the public interest at the altar of the island’s debtors.
So, as the clock ticks, we bring you the following helpful guide courtesy of Bloomberg who has made a “list of the island’s debt, how much is outstanding, when major monthly payments are due, and the source of funds that back the securities.”
* * *
- Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corp.: $15.2 billion. The bonds, known by the Spanish acronym Cofinas, are repaid from dedicated sales-tax revenue. A $6.2 billion portion of the debt, called senior-lien, is repaid first. The remaining $9 billion, called subordinate-lien, get second dibs. $1.2 million of interest is due in February and again in May. Senior Cofinas maturing in 2040 last traded for an average yield of 9.5 percent, while subordinate ones yielded 18 percent.
- General-obligations: $12.6 billion. The debt backed by the commonwealth’s full faith and credit. The island’s constitution says general obligations must be repaid before other expenses. Puerto Rico owes $357 million of interest in January and an additional $805 million of principal and interest is due July 1. Securities due in 2035 last traded for an average yield of 11.5 percent.
- Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority: $8.2 billion. Prepa, as it’s called, is the island’s main supplier of electricity and repays the debt from what it charges customers. The utility owes $196 million of interest in January and $420 million of principal and interest July 1. Prepa is negotiating with bond-insurance companies after reaching an agreement with some of its bondholders, who agreed to take a 15 percent loss. Bonds maturing in 2040 last traded at an average yield of 9.2 percent.
- Puerto Rico Government Development Bank: $5.1 billion. The GDB lends to the commonwealth and its localities. When those loans are repaid, the bank can pay off its debt. The bank owes $354 million in December and $422 million in May. Federally taxable bonds maturing in 2019 last traded for an average yield of 57 percent.
- Puerto Rico Highways & Transportation Authority: $4.6 billion. The highway agency repays its debt with gas-tax revenue. It owes $106 million of interest in January and $220.7 million of principal and interest in July. The commonwealth has the ability to divert revenue that cover some highway bonds to pay its general-obligation securities, if there are no other available resources, according to the island’s most recent financial disclosure. Bonds maturing July 2028 last traded for an average yield of 32 percent.
- Puerto Rico Public Buildings Authority: $4.1 billion. The PBA bonds are repaid with lease revenue that public agencies pay for their office buildings. The agency owes $102.4 million of interest in January and $208 million of principal and interest in July. Bonds maturing 2042 last traded for an average yield of 10.4 percent.
- Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority: $4.1 billion. The utility, called Prasa, supplies most of the island’s water. The debt is repaid from water rates charged to customers. The water agency owes $86.5 million of interest in January and $135.1 million of principal and interest in July. Bonds maturing in 2042 last traded at an average yield of 8.7 percent.
- Puerto Rico Pension-Obligation Bonds: $2.9 billion. The taxable debt was sold to bolster the island’s nearly depleted pension fund. The bonds are repaid from contributions that the commonwealth and municipalities make to the retirement system. The system pays $13.9 million of interest every month in this budget year. Securities maturing in 2038 last traded for an average yield of 22 percent.
- Puerto Rico Infrastructure Financing Authority: $1.9 billion. Called Prifa, the agency has sold the island’s rum-tax bonds. These are securities repaid from federal excise taxes on rum made in Puerto Rico. Prifa owes $37.2 million of interest in January and $77.8 million of principal and interest in July. Bonds maturing in 2046 last traded for an average yield of 28 percent.
- Puerto Rico Public Finance Corp.: $1.09 billion. The bonds are repaid with money appropriated by the legislature. The agency has defaulted every month since August on its debt-service payments because lawmakers failed to allocate the funds. It owes interest every month, the largest being a $24 million payment in February. Bond maturing in 2031 last traded for 7 cents on the dollar, according to trade reports. The yield wasn’t disclosed.
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As a reminder, Puerto Rico's Treasury Single Account likely has negative cash balance, which, according to Height Securities analyst Daniel Hanson, "will make it 'nearly impossible' to meet all government payroll obligations over the next six weeks."
In other words, even if the government does default in order to save money for the provision of public services, social unrest may now be unavoidable.