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Grab A Beer Philadelphia, The Soda Is Too Damn Expensive

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 23:00

Via SovereignMan.com,

What happened:

Turns out when soda cost the same as beer, people choose to drink beer. That is what is happening in Philadelphia.

The city’s 1.5 cent per ounce tax on soda has made beer a cheaper option. But that isn’t the only effect of the ill conceived plan to raise revenue.

The tax didn’t raise the money expected, according t o a study by the Tax Foundation.

Stores have already seen huge declines in soda sales, meaning people are either going outside the city to buy, buying beer instead, or not drinking soda.

Now if the residents did cut down on soda, some might see this as a win, despite the low tax revenue. But from the outset, the Mayor was quite clear that the aim of the tax was to raise money, not to influence health.

The city claimed the tax revenue would fund pre-kindergarten programs. But less than half of the meager revenue is actually being put into the school system.

What this means:

Looks like “for the children” was just another excuse for government greed.

Governments refuse to believe in economics. They think they can just continue to pile the taxes on. But once the costs get too high, people change their behavior.

Sometimes that means going somewhere else to buy your soda. Sometimes that means making different choices, like beer instead of soda.

But hardly ever do governments get what they predict. The mayor even originally wanted the tax to be 3 cents per ounce. Some stores are reporting a 50% drop in soda sales, so you can imagine what would have happened at double the tax rate. Yet all the greedy politicians imagine is dollar signs.

The beer companies are really the only ones who made out on the deal.

Might make a conspiracy theorist wonder...

"The Taps Are Gushing" Hong Kong ATM Withdrawals Surge As Facial Recognition Fears Spread

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 22:30

Amid a crackdown on unauthorized mainland currency outflows by forcing ATM users to undertake facial recognition before cash is dispensed in Macau, Hong Kong ATMs are reportedly being hit by a massive surge in withdrawals from China's UnionPay bank cards.

As The South China Morning Post notes, the mainland has been strengthening regulations since last year when a decline in the ­value of the yuan led to widespread capital outflows.

Mainland people are allowed to withdraw up to 100,000 yuan (HK$117,000) in cash overseas and remit up to US$50,000 worth of foreign currency offshore ­annually, according to 2016 ­foreign ­exchange regulations.

 

Users of UnionPay cards can withdraw up to 10,000 yuan per day for each card they hold.

 

To skirt around the foreign ­exchange controls, some individuals have been using separate ATM cards to make cash withdrawals, prompting the regulators to crack down on the practice.

The most invasive of those crackdowns was the imposition of facial recognition technology in Macau ATMs.

Regulators in the world’s most lucrative gaming hub are deploying machines with “Minority Report”-style technology to keep tabs on capital outflows from China and watch for potential money laundering schemes. China UnionPay Co.’s network is the first to use the software, which will be installed in all the city’s 1,200 cash dispensers.

 

...

 

“This is aimed at illicit outflows of capital from China,” said Sean Norris, Asia Pacific managing director at Accuity in Singapore. “It’s aimed at people drawing out money in Macau, going to the casino, betting very little, getting forex from there and moving it.”

But now, as SCMP reports, one source explains...

"It seems quite clear that as the introduction of ATM facial recognition technology in Macau has put the squeeze on cash dispensing withdrawals in Macau, the pattern of withdrawals has ­followed the path of least resistance - and that is to Hong Kong."

Monetary chiefs in Hong Kong have declined to deny or confirm information obtained by the South China Morning Post that ATMs have seen a "staggering'' rise in withdrawals since the ­casino hub introduced the facial recognition technology in May as part of a bid to stem illegal capital flight from the mainland.

"The rise in ATM withdrawals in terms of volume and number has been staggering. The taps are gushing," a source with knowledge of the situation said.

The development follows a move by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to instruct local banks to submit data on cash withdrawals by UnionPay cards throughout the ATM network as the regulator cracks down on ­unauthorised mainland outflows.

The Monetary Authority spokeswoman added:

"The HKMA endeavours to enhance the security level of banking ­systems.

 

"We have been studying the applications of different technologies, including the feasibility, soundness and cost efficiency of facial recognition and other types of biometric authentication technologies, having regard to the technologies used in other ­jurisdictions.

 

"However, we have no plans to require ATMs to install facial ­recognition technology."

Which leads to one simple question... If everything is so awesome over there, why are Chinese authorities cracking down so hard on what seems like utter panic to get cash out of the onshore market?

And do not be fooled by the "strengthening Yuan" narrative... once again China is continuing to devalue its currency against the world... while maintaining the "Shanghai Accord"-like illusion that it is strengthening again the USD...

The Future Of The Third World

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 22:00

Authored by Jayant Bhandari via Acting-Man.com,

Decolonization

The British Empire was the largest in history. At the end of World War II Britain had to start pulling out from its colonies. A major part of the reason was, ironically, the economic prosperity that had come through industrialization, massive improvements in transportation, and the advent of telecommunications, ethnic and religious respect, freedom of speech, and other liberties offered by the empire.

The colors represent the colonies of various nations in 1945, and the colonial borders of that time – click to enlarge.

 

After the departure of the British — as well as the French, German, Belgians, and other European colonizers — most of the newly “independent” countries suffered rapid decay in their institutions, stagnant economies, massive social strife, and a fall in standards of living. An age of anti-liberalism and tyranny descended on these former colonies. They rightly became known as third-world countries.

An armchair economist would have assumed that the economies of these former colonies, still very backward and at a very low base compared to Europe, would grow at a faster rate. Quite to the contrary, as time went on, their growth rates stayed lower than those of the West.

Socialism and the rise of dictators were typically blamed for this — at least among those on the political Right. This is not incorrect, but it is a merely proximate cause. Clarity might have been reached if people had contemplated the reason why Marxism and socialism grew like weeds in the newly independent countries.

 

Was There a Paradigm Shift in the 1980s?

According to conventional wisdom, the situation changed after the fall of the socialist ringleader, the USSR, in the late 1980s. Ex-colonized countries started to liberalize their economies and widely accepted democracy, leading to peace, the spread of education and equality, the establishment of liberal, independent institutions. Massive economic growth ensued and was sustained over the past three decades. The “third world” was soon renamed “emerging markets.”

Alas, this is a faulty narrative. Economic growth did pick up in these poor countries, and the rate of growth did markedly exceed that of the West, but the conventional narrative confuses correlation with causality. It tries to fit events to ideological preferences, which assume that we are all the same, that if Europeans could progress, so should everyone else, and that all that matters are correct incentives and appropriate institutions.

 

The beginning and end of the Soviet communist era in newspaper headlines. The overthrow of Kerensky’s interim government was the start of Bolshevik rule. To be precise, the Bolsheviks took over shortly thereafter, when they disbanded the constituent assembly in in early 1918 and subsequently gradually did the same to all non-Bolshevik Soviets that had been elected. A little more than seven decades later, the last Soviet Bolshevik leader resigned. It is worth noting that by splitting the Russian Federation from the Ukraine and Belorussia, Yeltsin effectively removed Gorbachev from power – the latter was suddenly president of a country that no longer existed and chairman of a party that was declared illegal in Russia. [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

The claimed liberalization in the “emerging markets” after the collapse of the USSR did not really happen. Progress was always one step forward and two steps back. In some ways, government regulations and repression of businesses in the “emerging markets” have actually gotten much worse. Financed by increased taxes, governments have grown by leaps and bounds — not for the benefit of society but for that of the ruling class — and are now addicted to their own growth.

The ultimate underpinnings of the so-called emerging markets haven’t changed. Their rapid economic progress during the past three decades — a one-off event — happened for reasons completely different from those assumed by most economists. The question is: once the effect of the one-off event has worn off, will emerging markets revert to the stagnation, institutional degradation, and tyranny that they had leaped into soon after the European colonizers left?

 

The One-Off Event: What Actually Changed in the 1980s

In the “emerging markets” (except for China) synchronized favorable economic changes were an anomaly. They resulted in large part from the new, extremely cheap telephony that came into existence (a result of massive cabling of the planet implemented in the 1980s) and the subsequent advent of the new technology of the internet. The internet enabled instantaneous transfer of technology from the West and as a consequence, unprecedented economic growth in “emerging markets.”

Meanwhile, a real cultural, political, and economic renaissance started in China. It was an event so momentous that it changed the economic structure not just of China, but of the whole world. Because China is seen as a communist dictatorship, it fails to be fully appreciated and respected by intellectuals who are obsessed with the institution of democracy.

But now that the low-hanging fruit from the emergence of the internet and of China (which continues to progress) have been plucked, the “emerging markets” (except, again, for China) are regressing to their normal state: decay in their institutions, stagnant economies, and social strife. They should still be called the “third world.”

There are those who hold China in contempt for copying Western technology, but they don’t understand that if copying were so easy, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and South Asia would have done the same. They were, after all, prepared for progress by their colonial history.

European colonizers brought in the rule of law and significantly reduced the tribal warfare that was a matter of daily routine in many of the colonies — in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Britain and other European nations set up institutional structures that allowed for the accumulation of intellectual and financial capital. Western-style education and democracy were initiated. But this was helpful in a very marginal way.

 

What is Wrong with the Third World

For those who have not traveled and immersed themselves in formerly colonized countries, it is hard to understand that although there was piping for water and sewage in Roman days, it still isn’t available for a very large segment of the world’s population. The wheel has existed for more than 5,000 years, but a very large number of people continue to carry water in pots on their heads.

 

Lead piping supplying water to homes already existed in Roman days, 2000 years ago.

 

The Ljubljana Marshes Wheel, which is more than 5,000 years old

 

 

There are easily a billion or more people today, who have no concept of either the pipe or the wheel, even if they went to school. It is not the absence of technology or money that is stopping these people from starting to use some basic forms of technology. It is something else.

 

 

Sir Winston Churchill, the war-time Prime Minister of Britain, talking about the future of Palestine said:

“I do not admit… that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race… has come in and taken their place.”

Cigar-puffing British war-time PM Winston Churchill was as politically incorrect as they come. If he were alive today, he would probably be labeled the newest Hitler by the press and spend 90% of his time apologizing. Perhaps we shouldn’t mention this, but there are many Churchill monuments dotted across Europe and one can be found in Washington DC as well (alert readers will notice that a decidedly non-triggered Washington Post fondly remembered Churchill as an “elder statesman” a mere 10 months ago; rest assured that won’t stop the social justice warrior brigade if they decide to airbrush him out of history). Just to make this clear, your editor is not exactly the biggest fan of the man who traded away half of Europe to Stalin because he felt he could “trust the Soviet communist government” and who was clearly a tad too enamored of war, a characteristic Robert Kaplan described in his strident, amoral pro-war screed Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos as follows: “Churchill’s unapologetic warmongering arose not from a preference for war, but from a breast-beating Victorian sense of imperial destiny…” Neither the breast-beating nor the sense of imperial destiny are really our thing, but we tip our hat to the man’s utter lack of political correctness and his associated willingness to offend all and sundry with a nigh Trumpian alacrity and determination. [PT]

 

On Islam, he said:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist…”

Talking about India he famously said:

“I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”

A remark often attributed to Churchill, although this remains unverified, has certainly stood the test of time so far:

“If independence is granted to India, power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day will come when even air and water will be taxed in India.”

Europeans of that time clearly knew that there was something fundamentally different between the West and the rest, and that the colonies would not survive without the pillars and the cement European management provided.

With the rise of political correctness this wisdom was erased from our common understanding – but it is something that may well return to haunt us in the near future, as the third world fails to fulfill expectations, while people who immigrate to Europe, Canada, Australia and the US from there fail to assimilate.

 

The Missing Underpinnings: Reason And All That Depends On It

Until now, the hope among people in the World Bank, the IMF, and other armchair intellectuals was that once the correct incentives were in place and institutions were organized, these structures imposed from on high would put the third world on a path to perpetual growth. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

The cart has been put in front of the horse. It is institutions that emerge from the underlying culture, not the other way around. And cultural change is a process taking millennia, perhaps even longer. As soon as Europeans quit their colonies, the institutional structures they left started to crumble.

Alas, it takes a Ph.D. from an Ivy League college and a quarter of a million dollar salary at the World Bank or the IMF to not understand what the key issue with development economics and institutional failures is: the missing ingredient in the third world was and is the concept of objective, impartial reason – the basis of laws and institutions that protect individual rights.

This concept of reason took 2,500 years to develop and get infused into the culture, memes, and genes of Europeans — a difficult process that, even in Europe, was never fully completed. European institutions were at their root products of this concept.

 

A justly famous quote by Thomas Paine (a prolific writer with a side job as a founding father and revolutionary). Paine was deeply suspicious of self-anointed authorities, both of the secular and clerical variety, who in turn regarded him as dangerous. His writings inter alia provoked a so-called “pamphlet war” in Britain (it would be best if all wars were conducted via pamphlets). [PT]

 

Despite massive efforts by missionaries, religious and secular, and of institutions imposed on poor countries, reason failed to get transmitted. Whatever marginal improvement was achieved over 200 to 300 years of colonization is therefore slowly but surely undone.

Without reason, subsidiary concepts such as equality before the law, compassion and empathy won’t operate. Irrational societies simply cannot maintain institutions representing the rule of law and fairness. The consequence is that they cannot evolve or even maintain institutions the European colonizers left behind.

Any institutions imposed on them — schools, armies, elections, national executives, banking and taxation systems — must mutate to cater to the underlying irrationality and tribalism of the third world.

 

Western Institutions Have Mutated

Education has become a dogma in “emerging markets”, not a tool; it floats non-assimilated in the minds of people lacking objective reason. Instead of leading to creativity and critical thinking, it is used for propaganda by demagogues.

Without impartial reason, democracy is a mere tribal, geographical concept, steeped in arrogance. All popular and “educated” rhetoric to the contrary, I can think of no country in the non-western world that did well after it adopted “democracy.”

The spread of nationalism (which to a rational mind is about the commonality of values) has created crises by unifying people along tribal lines. The most visible example is provided by events in the Middle East, but the basic problem is the same in every South Asian and African country and in most of South America.

India, the geographical entity I grew up in, was rapidly collectivized under the flag and the national anthem. It has the potential to become the Middle East on steroids, once Hindutava (Hindu nationalism) has become deeply rooted in society.

 

Assessing the Current Predicament

In Burma, a whiff of democracy does not seem to have inhibited a genocide perpetrated by Buddhists against the Muslim Rohingya. Thailand (which was not colonized in a strictly political sense) has gone silent, but its crisis continues.

Turkey and Malaysia, among the better of these backward societies, have embarked on a path of rapid regression to their medieval pasts. South Africa, which not too long ago was considered a first-world country, got rid of apartheid only to end up with something even worse.

The same happened with Venezuela, which was among the richer countries of the world in the not-too-distant past. It is ready to implode, a fate that may befall Brazil as well one day. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and East Timor are widely acknowledged to be in a mess, and are getting worse by the day.

Indonesia took a breather for a few years and is now once again in the thrall of fanaticism. India is the biggest democracy, so its problems are actively ignored by the Western press, but they won’t be for long, as India continues to evolve toward a police state.

Botswana was seen as one of the countries with the fastest and longest-lasting economic growth. What was ignored was the fact that this rather large country has a very small population, which benefited hugely from diamonds and other natural resources. The top political layer of Botswana is still a leftover from the British. The local culture continues to corrode what was left by them, and there are clear signs that Botswana is past its peak.

 

Part of the central business district in Gaborone, Botswana. Long time readers may recall an article we posted about 2.5 years ago: “Botswana – Getting it Right in Africa”. We are not sure if much has changed since then, but it is worth recalling that Botswana started out as the third-poorest country in Africa when it became independent in 1966 and is today one the richest. The very small population (by African standards) combined with the large income the country obtains from diamond mining no doubt played a role in this, but being rich in natural resources means very little per se. Botswana never fell for Marxism. When the country gained independence, its political leadership adopted democracy and free markets and never looked back. Botswana is a very homogenous society in terms of religious and tribal affiliations, which differentiates the country from most other former colonial territories in Africa. From our personal – admittedly by now a bit dated – experience, we can state that Botswana is the only African country in which one is unlikely to encounter any corruption – not even the lowliest government minion will ask for bribes as far as we could tell (in many African countries, officials begin demanding bribes the moment one wants to cross the border). Considering all that, we are slightly more hopeful about Botswana, but it is not an island. Deteriorating conditions in neighboring countries may well prove contagious at some point. [PT]

Papua New Guinea was another country that was doing reasonably well before the Australians left. It is now rapidly regressing to its tribal, irrational, and extremely violent norms, where for all practical purposes rape is not even considered a crime.

 

Conclusion: A Vain Hope

The world may recognize most of the above, but it sees these countries’ problems as isolated events that can be corrected by further impositions of Western institutions, under the guidance of the UN or some such international (and therefore “non-colonialist”) organization.

Amusingly, our intellectual climate — a product of political correctness — is such that the third world is nowadays seen as the backbone of humanity’s future economic growth. Unfortunately, so-called emerging markets are probably headed for a chaotic future. The likeliest prospect is that these countries will continue to cater to irrational forces, particularly tribalism, and that they will consequently cease to exist, disintegrating into much smaller entities.

As the tide of economic growth goes out with the final phase of plucking the free gift of internet technology nearing its end, their problems will resurface rapidly – precisely when the last of those who were trained under the colonial system are sent to the “dustbin of history”.

Missile Destroyer USS John McCain Collides With Oil Tanker Near Straits Of Malacca

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 21:34

Two months after seven US sailors died after the US Navy Destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant vessel off the coast of Japan, moments ago the US Navy said that in an near replica of that incident, the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain was involved in a collision with another merchant vessel, the Alnic MC, an oil/chemical tanker east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca on August 21.

#USSJohnSMcCain involved in collision with a merchant vessel while east of the Strait of Malacca. Updates to follow. https://t.co/6bHUovT8eI pic.twitter.com/EVcYjHwXah

— 7th Fleet (@US7thFleet) August 20, 2017

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore. Initial reports indicate the warship sustained damage to its port side aft. No immediate word on any casualties. Search and rescue efforts are under way in coordination with local authorities, the Navy said.

Here is the latest update from the US 7th Fleet:

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21. The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

 

The ship is currently sailing under its own power and heading to port.

 

Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities. In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, the Republic of Singapore Navy ship RSS Gallant (97), RSN helicopters and Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are currently in the area to render assistance.

 

MV-22s and SH-60s from USS America are also responding.

 

Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft. The extent of damage and personnel injuries is being determined. The incident will be investigated.

CNN reports that according to preliminary information there have been minor injuries from the collision, although a full accounting of the crew is still underway.

Ryan Browne says preliminary information is minor injuries from USS John McCain collision. A full accounting of the crew is still underway

— Steve Brusk (@stevebruskCNN) August 21, 2017

The Straits of Malacca, located between Malaysia and Singapore, is one of the world's most important naval chokepoints; it sees the transit of over 15 million barrels of oil per day, mostly headed toward China and Japan. As we reported back in 2014, "if one were so inclined, halting seaborne trade routes at the Strait of Malacca would hobble the entire Chinese economy overnight, something the Chinese leadership is surely aware of, and is certainly considering alternatives to, such as land pipelines into Iran (via India), as well as Kazakhstan and Russia."

The warship is named after John S. McCain, Sr., and John S. McCain, Jr., both Admirals in the U.S. Navy, and the grandfather and father, respectively, of the neocon Arizona senator. This crash comes days after the top three leaders aboard the USS Fitzgerald were relieved of command. That warship was damaged badly in a collision off the coast of Japan that killed seven sailors in June.

According to MarineTraffic data, the merchant ship Alnic MC with which the guided US missile destroyer collided, is an oil/chemical tanker...

Alnic MC oil/chemical tanker pic.twitter.com/F3LNHVB5iu

— Nicky Two Scoops (@SDgolferinMN) August 21, 2017

... which was built in 2008, and has a dead weight of 50,760 tons.

#AlnicMC statistics:

* Grosse Tons: 30040

* Year Built: 2008

* Deadweight: 50760 tons pic.twitter.com/MtTsjdlIDH

— Intel Crab (@IntelCrab) August 20, 2017

Surprise! Sharp Racial Divide Found Over Robert E. Lee Statue

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 21:30

News headlines in the United States have been dominated by the fallout from the Charlottesville protests throughout the last week. YouGov have polled Americans to gauge their thoughts on a whole range of issues surrounding the violence.

Notably, respondents were asked about the decision that led to the protests in the first place - the decision to remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

In perhaps the least surprising finding of the week - and most clear-cut - Statista's Niall McCarthy points out that the research uncovered sharp racial and partisan divides over the decision.

You will find more statistics at Statista

As can be seen from the infographic above, only 4 percent of blacks strongly disapprove of the decision to remove the statue compared to 40 percent of whites.

FX Week Ahead: Jackson Hole, And A Chance For Yellen To Fend Off Some USD Bashing

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 21:08

By Shant Movsesian and Rajan Dhall MSTA

Coming off a mixed week for the USD, traders focus their attention on the Jackson Hole symposium which starts on Thursday, running through to Saturday.  Within this, Friday's address by the Fed chair will take centre stage, and for all the 'will she, won't she' talk about monetary policy, the market will be hanging on Janet Yellen's words, as the third rate hike for 2017 remains in the balance.  As it stands, ECB sources (always an interesting one that) report that president Draghi will refrain from covering policy matters when he takes to the stand, and we saw this hit the EUR, helping to stabilise the USD index in the process. 

Since then, political shenanigans at the White House have again undermined the greenback, with the past week see the manufacturing council disbanded by Donald Trump after a series of resignations prompted by his public address in response to the Charlottesville attack.  We then saw rumours hitting social media that Gary Cohn had resigned, but despite being dismissed, cast doubt over the chief economic adviser's advocacy of the current administration. 

Ending the week we saw chief strategist Stephen Bannon removed (in whatever manner this entailed), and through all the above, risk sentiment wobbled (at best) again, and the funding currencies and safe havens led by the JPY and CHF regaining ground.  Gold also pushed above $1300, but failed to maintain this key level into the weekend. 

Consequently, there will be little focus on the data this week, and to that end we see little on the schedule of note anyway.  Markit release their version of manufacturing and services PMIs (Wednesday) which have been at odds with the ISM data lately, and the Jul readings for existing home sales are released on Thursday.  Friday's volatile Durable goods orders will naturally be overshadowed by Yellen's address, but through the week, economic activity indices from Chicago, Richmond and Kansas are also out.  

In Europe, we get the national and composite PMI numbers midweek.  On Monday, the German ZEW release their survey results, for comparison with the IFO institute who report on Friday along with the Q2 German GDP data early on in the European session.  In all cases, the data will have to be pretty underwhelming to dent the bullish sentiment in the EUR. We saw 1.1700 giving way when the ECB minutes divulged the governing council's concern over the FX overshoot, and while this may have been addressed vs the CHF and JPY, both the spot and GBP rates continue to find strong demand on dips.  

EUR/USD managed to push down to 1.1660, but was swiftly back above 1.1700 again. Liquidity in the summer markets overemphasise the larger orders, with more buying interest noted here down to 1.1610.  For EUR/CHF, 1.1225 is the first major support point to note, with much of the latest weakness down to broader risk factors which have naturally pulled USD/CHF back to 0.9600 (and lower) again.  0.9770-75 still the level to overcome for those looking for a more meaningful correction and/or recovery in the USD.  

We saw EUR/JPY also giving back early week gains, which saw the 128.00 handle briefly surrendered, but as noted above, the JPY is quick to react to negative risk factors these days, and this is down to the net short positioning in the market.  According to the representative CFTC data however, this has been trimmed by some 20% this past week.  EUR longs have also contracted, but as above, there are plenty waiting to get back in at lower levels, and impulsively so.  

USD/JPY remains well placed to push lower again and retest the new August base at 108.60, through which lie the 2017 lows around 108.15.  Fresh demand seen all the way into the low 107.00's if we do break lower, with the constant stream of surprises coming out of Capital Hill more than capable of seeing this achieved.  This should be a broader JPY move however, with the likes of GBP/JPY also showing signs that the upturn has run its course.  The commodity Dollars also looked to have topped out vs JPY, with the weekly charts on AUD, NZD and CAD near identical.  

Out of Japan, we get the latest CPI stats out on Thursday, and a continuation of a slow pick up will add to some of the more encouraging domestic growth signals we have been receiving of late.  Manufacturing PMIs here are out on Tuesday.  

The China data slate is empty next week, as is that of Australia, so the AUD will be at the mercy of external factors which are split between the USD and general risk appetite.  Hitting the low 0.7800's this week, we expect the market will be looking for a deeper retrace based on the technical breach of 0.7835-50, but closing well above here on the weekly charts puts this in the balance for now.  

Trade data in NZ offers a chance of some differentiation among the 'Antipodeans', with NZD tracking the AUD spot for the most part, and keeping AUD/NZD inside a 1.0650-1.0850 range; the upside does look more likely to give way. The recent NZ numbers have not been great, namely jobs growth in Q2.  The fiscal clout from the budget surpluses has faded into the background also, though many anticipated this as much of this was fed back into social investment more than business.  Gains above 0.7300 look tenuous for now, but demand ahead of 0.7200 sets up a near term stalemate.  

One of the more positive developments this week was the cordial start to the NAFTA talks, and although this may sound naive, did give the CAD some relief - as it did the MXN, which both ended the week up on both the USD and the JPY.   As noted before, the greater risks lie at Mexico's door, but for the US, a positive outcome - for all - would temper some of the negative factors hitting USD sentiment at the moment.  Nb, Mexican Q2 GDP on Tuesday for those who monitor levels in the current tri party accord. 

Canadian inflation on Friday drew an odd response from the CAD as yoy CPI up from 1.0% to 1.2% is little cause for excitement.  Given pricing for another BoC rate hike this year is up around 80%, we see the risk to the downside on this basis alone, with some of the more recent domestic readings (trade and manufacturing sales) perhaps reflective of the aggressive CAD appreciation seen in the last few months.  We still look for an eventual test of 1.2200-1.2000 lower down, but not 'all in one go'!  1.2750-1.2800 as expected has contained the upside, and next week will see whether the support just under 1.2600 will hold up for a more significant correction.   Wholesale sales, retail sales (both for Jun) and corporate profits due for consideration next week.

GDP for Q2 is the major event in the UK ahead; this released on Thursday along with the business investment levels as the CBI distributive trades survey.  Last week, the focus was on the jobs report where we saw wage growth improving, but with the bears gaining the upper hand, GBP relief was short lived, with a deeper probe into the numbers showing real earnings down - as you would expect given the exchange rate fed rise in inflation.  Jul PSNB and CBI industrial trends orders are out on the Tuesday.

It took the BoE's highlighting of their concerns over the Brexit process ahead to curtail Cable strength towards the 1.3300 level, and now the market has been 'directed' towards this key and ever-present (!) factor, rebounds see the market jumping in to sell quickly and 1.2900+ being given short shrift.  There is no disputing the fact that we tread cautiously from here, and especially so given the EU talks have stalled, with the UK keen to press ahead with transitional agreements, but Europe equally keen to resolve withdrawal terms first.  

The low 1.2800's are providing some strong support in the meantime, but we should all now be familiar with current market persistence in maintaining well established themes. We still expect GBP to push lower, and it is now all about how much breathing space we get between down-legs.  Expect very little of this against the EUR as we continue to grind up towards the resistance zone in the 0.9150-0.9250 area.  

We also get Q2 growth in Norway on the Thursday, which is the stand out release in Scandinavia.  Just as we see in AUD/NZD, there is little to differentiate between the NOK and SEK at the present time, with steadfast parameters in NOK/SEK at 1.0120 and 1.0360 having noticeably contained trade in the past 5 weeks.  Parity was momentarily breached at the start of Jul, but strong GDP numbers in Sweden could not generate a fresh move to test these levels. NOK - and CAD - correlations with Oil price have faded at these generally more comfortable levels. 

Problems Too Big And Too Many To Fix: Trump Will Be The Fall Guy

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 21:00

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

The axe fell on Steve Bannon Friday.

Mid-day, mainstream media proclaimed stocks were up because of the firing. Stocks closed the day down. Apparently, stocks were both up and down due to Bannon.

Now Bannon is Back on the Outside, back at Breitbart, and happy to be there.

Stephen K. Bannon has always been more comfortable when he was trying to tear down institutions — not work inside them.

 

With his return to Breitbart News, Mr. Bannon will be free to lead the kind of ferocious assault on the political establishment that he relishes, even if sometimes that means turning his wrath on the White House itself.

 

Hours after his ouster from the West Wing, he was named to his former position of executive chairman at the hard-charging right-wing website and led its evening editorial meeting. And Mr. Bannon appeared eager to move onto his next fight.

 

“In many ways, I think I can be more effective fighting from the outside for the agenda President Trump ran on,” he said Friday. “And anyone who stands in our way, we will go to war with.”

 

Among those already in Mr. Bannon’s sights: Speaker Paul D. Ryan; Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader; the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Gary D. Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs who now directs the White House’s National Economic Council.

Thanks But No Thanks

Trump thanked Bannon for his help during the campaign, but not for his tenure in the White House.

I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton - it was great! Thanks S

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017

Trump explicitly thanks Bannon for his time on the campaign. Not his 7 months in the W.H. as chief strategist.

Nothing to see here. https://t.co/gqDRj5I2zJ

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 19, 2017

 

New York Times Parting Shot

The New York Times editorial, Exit Steve Bannon, gave Banon a swift kick on his way out the door.

Mr. Bannon’s exit is, of course, a relief. As the well-financed Pied Piper of the alt-right Breitbart crowd, Mr. Bannon at the pinnacle of White House policy making was a nightmare come to life.

 

But Mr. Bannon, who promptly returned to Breitbart as its executive chairman on Friday, still poses a danger for our broader politics. Outside the White House, he is freer to rally his forces against anyone who doesn’t toe his nationalist-protectionist line. A Bannon-led right-wing backlash against Mr. Trump, who unleashed the worst impulses of nationalists in service to himself, would be a fitting comeuppance.

More Fun to Throw Mud

Clearly, it’s far more fun to throw mud than have it thrown at you.

Lost in the Bannon and Trump bashing is one key question: Who is really the bigger threat, Hillary, Trump, or Bannon?

Why We Are Where We Are

We are in this mess because Obamanomics, war-mongering, Fed policies, and social handouts created a budget mess but did not solve any problems. People revolted, and Trump got elected.

When it comes to trade and protectionism, Trump is wrong. So is Bannon.

Those who think Hillary would have been any better on trade policy are mistaken. If you believe differently, then please take Today’s Quiz: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton – Who Said It?

We would have a no-fly zone over Syria, had Hillary won. That would have risked a confrontation with Russia. Hillary wrecked Libya, and of course Obama and Bush had extremely misguided warmongering policies in the Mideast.

Obamacare was a failure, but no one on either side seems able or willing to fix it.

So here we are, with everything broken, and we still cannot get anything done. Republicans want more military spending and Democrats want more social spending. Warmongers on both sides want more war.

Art of Compromise

Compromise in Washington is more military spending and more social spending.

Repetitive “compromises” sent deficits soaring out of sight. On top of it all, the Fed blew massive bubbles in just about everything.

Problems Too Big and Too Many To Fix

One thing I expect Trump will get right, at least from a public union standpoint, regards appointments to the supreme court.

Overall, I hoped Trump would do better on many fronts. It was not to be. Trump could not drain the swamp. Partisan politics interfered, there was too much infighting, and there is nonsensical Russia bashing on both sides of the aisle.

The problems are too big and too many to fix. If you think Hillary would have fixed them you are delusional.

To the victor, goes the blame. Trump will be the fall guy when this mess blows up.https://t.co/99d7BrUfak

— Mike Mish Shedlock (@MishGEA) August 19, 2017

Builders Complain Of Record Labor Shortages: Up To 75% Of Employers Can't Find Workers

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 20:41

Late last month we reported the remarkable anecdote of an Ohio factory owner who has numerous blue-collar jobs available at her company, but has one major problem: she is struggling to fill positions because so many candidates fail drug tests. Regina Mitchell, co-owner of Warren Fabricating & Machining in Hubbard, Ohio, told The New York Times this week that four out of 10 applicants otherwise qualified to be welders, machinists and crane operators will fail a routine drug test. While not quite as bad as the adverse hit rate hinted at by the Beige Book, this is a stunning number, and one which indicates of major structural changes to the US labor force where addiction and drugs are keeping millions out of gainful (or any, for that matter) employment.

Mitchell said that her requirements for prospective workers were simple: “I need employees who are engaged in their work while here, of sound mind and doing the best possible job that they can, keeping their fellow co-workers safe at all times." And yet, almost nobody could satisfy these very simple requirements.

Whether it was due to pervasive drug abuse, or for some other reason, but fast forward two weeks when in response to a special question in the July NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) survey, US homebuilders said that labor and subcontractor shortages have become even more widespread in July of 2017 than they were in June of 2016.

This is a concern as the inventory of for-sale homes recently struck a 20-year low. And while economists and the public cry for more inventory, many builders are pressed to meet demand. A labor and subcontractor shortage in the building industry has worsened over the past year, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index survey of single-family builders.

The July 2017 HMI survey asked builders about shortages in 15 specific occupations that were either recommended by Home Builders Institute (NAHB’s workforce development arm) or that NAHB found to be particularly significant when tabulating Bureau of Labor Statistics data for a recent article on Young Adults & the Construction Trades.  Shortages (either serious or some) were at least fairly widespread for each of the 15 occupations, ranging from a low of 43 percent for building maintenance managers to a high of around 75 percent for the three categories of carpenters (rough, finished and framing).

In addition to workers employed by single-family builders, the HMI survey asked about shortages of subcontractors, which have become even more widespread lately.  In the July 2017 survey, the incidence of shortages was higher for subcontractors than for labor directly employed by builders in each of the 15 occupations. At the top of the chart, for example, 85% of builders reported a shortage of framing subcontractors, compared to “only” 77% who reported a shortage of framers directly employed.

According to the NAHB, historically, this has not always been the case: an average shortage calculated across the 9 trades that NAHB has covered in a consistent way since 1996 shows that labor and subcontractor shortages used to track each other fairly closely.  Since 2013, however, a persistent gap has opened, with the 9-trade shortage for subcontractors running 5 to 7 percentage points higher.

One possible reason for the shortages proposed by the NAHB, is that some workers who were laid off and started their own trade contracting businesses during the housing downturn have returned to working for larger companies. This would improve the availability of workers directly employed by builders slightly, while shrinking the pool of firms available for subcontracting.

The 9-trade average shortage for labor has increased from a low of 21 percent in 2012 to 56 percent in 2016, and now 63 percent in 2017.  And this trend has been very consistent.  For each of the construction occupations covered in both years, the shortage percentage, whether for labor directly employed or subcontractors, increased between 2016 and 2017—with the sole exception of excavator subcontractors, for which the percentage remained roughly the same.

In an ominous coincidence, the 9-trade average labor shortage is now at its highest since 2000 (which marked the end of an extended period of strong GDP growth that tightened many labor markets and drove the overall unemployment rate down to 4.0 percent).  The current labor shortage seems especially severe relative to housing starts, which have only partially recovered from their post-2006 decline.

NAHB's conclusion: "the historical pattern has been quite consistent across construction occupations.  Shortages for most of the occupations are more widespread now than at any time since 2000.  The exceptions are shortages that are at their all-time worst since NAHB first started asking the questions in 1996.  For directly employed labor, the shortage of painters is now at its worst ever.  For subcontractors, in addition to painters, shortages of framing crews and electricians are also at their all-time worst.  For excavator subcontractors, the 2016 and 2017 shortages are essentially tied for worst all time.

But what is most troubling is that despite such "record" labor shortages, wages across both the construction sector, and certainly across the entire labor market, just refuse to rise. If a historic lack of qualified workers fails to boost wages.... what will?

Barclays Installs Desk Sensors To Monitor Employees

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 20:30

As we reported last month, a Wisconsin company called Three Square Market has become the first company in the US to offer microchip implants to its employees. The firm, which designs software for breakroom markets, wants employees to use microchips to help facilitate vending-machine payments. The firm wanted to use its employees as test subjects for their product. And though the program was strictly voluntary, it marks an uncomfortable beginning of a trend that could someday result in all humans being involuntarily microchipped.

Now, across the pond, companies are escalating efforts to monitor their employees.

Barclays Plc has installed devices at its London headquarters that track how much time bankers spend at their desks. While a spokesperson for the bank says the devices aren’t meant to evaluate employees’ performance, their introduction has clearly spooked members of the rank-and-file, who leaked the story to Bloomberg.

The devices are manufactured by OccupEye and use heat and motion sensors to record how long employees are spending at their posts.

According to Bloomberg, employees inundated management with questions about the devices after they first appeared under their desks. The bank reportedly didn't neglected to inform some employees ahead of time.

“Managers were peppered with queries when investment bank staff in London discovered black boxes stuck to the underside of their desks in recent months, according to several Barclays employees who asked not to be identified speaking about their workplace. They turned out to be tracking devices called OccupEye, which use heat and motion sensors to record how long employees are spending at their posts.

 

There was a “phased roll-out” of the devices, and Barclays staff and the Unite union were notified before they were installed, although the bank did not send out a specific memo about them, according to spokesman Tom Hoskin. The Barclays employees said they don’t remember being informed about the boxes, but spokespeople for the bank said there have been no official human-resources complaints.”

The devices, made by Blackburn, U.K.-based Cad-Capture, are pitched as a way for companies to find out how they can reduce office space, providing a multicolored dashboard to show managers which workstations are unoccupied and analyze usage trends.

“The sensors aren’t monitoring people or their productivity; they are assessing office space usage,” the bank said in an emailed statement. “This sort of analysis helps us to reduce costs, for example, managing energy consumption, or identifying opportunities to further adopt flexible work environments.”

While the devices could be part of CEO Jes Staley’s efforts to reduce the company’s real-estate footprint, Barclays employees have a reason to be paranoid. According to Bloomberg, many investment banks have been taking steps to more closely monitor their employees as banks face shrinking profit margins in key businesses like trading.

“Investment banks are increasingly using technology to keep tabs on how their staff spend their time. Barclays has introduced a computer system to track how much is earned from every client, allowing bosses to determine how much time traders, analysts and salespeople should spend with each customer.”

An officer with UK trade union Unite said the union was promised that data collected from the boxes wouldn’t be used to evaluate employees.

“We were given assurances that the boxes did not monitor individuals or their performance,” Unite national officer Dominic Hook said in a statement. The union “will keep a close eye on the situation to make sure that the sensors are never used to spy on staff or as a means to measure productivity.”

Lloyds Banking Group, which, like Barclays has been trimming its London office space, also uses similar devices. Sources inside major US investment banks like J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group and Citigroup Inc. told Bloomberg that they don’t use devices like these.
 

BullionStar Perspectives - Jim Rogers - Catastrophe & Opportunity

BullionStar - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 20:23
Filmed in July 2017 BullionStar is proud to present our exclusive interview with the legendary American investor, Mr. Jim Rogers. In this exclusive interview, Mr. Jim Rogers shares his perspectives on the global economy and on gold. The interview touches on the potential catastrophe in the global economy and the opportunities it brings, the importance of acquiring physical gold and silver for insurance, Singapore being one of the best countries to acquire bullion and much more.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy reverses drowned toddler's brain damage

Natural News - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 20:03
(Natural News) After Eden Carlson almost drowned in her family’s pool in February 2016, she suffered brain damage that left her immobile and unresponsive to nearly all stimuli. Doctors informed her family that she would remain in that vegetative state for the remainder of her life. A little over a year later, the now-three-year-old Arkansas...

According to new science, food choice quality matters as much as calories

Natural News - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 20:01
(Natural News) Though food quantity has long been associated with good health, food quality may in fact play a much bigger role, especially in mid to late adulthood. A long-term, high-quality diet can minimize the chances of developing cardiometabolic conditions later in life. That was the conclusion that researchers came to in a new multi-ethnic...

US Lawmakers Draft Bill 'Protecting' Cryptocurrencies From Government Interference

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 20:00

Several members of the US Congress are drafting legislation that is intended to recognize certain digital currencies and 'protect' them against interference from the federal government. The question is - does the 'protection'

CoinTelegraph reports that the bill, which will provide protection to cryptocurrencies that comply with certain minimum requirements to prevent them from being used by those engaged in illegal business practices like drug traffickers and terrorists, is expected to be filed in September 2017, according to DailyCaller.

Based on a reliable source, at least one Republican senator and two Republican congressmen are working on the draft legislation.

The legislators, however, have requested that should not be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue and the complexity of the proposed solution.

A source close to the effort told TheDC,

“the center piece of the plan is to mainstream digital currency so it can be treated just like the American dollar.

 

First, there is a new entity that is considering issuing a brand new digital currency that is compliant with anti-money laundering laws unlike any other in circulation.”

Although cash has some of the same problems being used to pay for illegal activities, the perception that digital currencies are being used for illegal activities is seen as the primary roadblock to wholesale acceptance by the American public.

The source told TheDC the new model is going to follow federal laws that prevent money laundering. This is a break through and could lead to the use of digital currencies replacing the dollar for many transactions.  The legislation is expected to be introduced in early September.

The source asked the members of Congress involved in drafting the bill not be identified yet, explaining, “this is a very complicated issue and staff are working through some issues that have in the past stopped alternative currencies from being launched.”

They continued that:

...the law needs to be changed to protect digital currencies from federal government harassment to make sure that a complaint currency can be backed by value, the currency cannot be treated like a security or investment, and that transfers are protected against taxation.

 

The bottom line is that Congress needs to remove all the obstacles to a vibrant digital currency that has voluntarily taken the initiative to keep the bad guys from using it.”

What is perhaps most ironic here is that government lawmakers are attempting to codify rules to stop government lawmakers interfering with the free and open exchange of a decentralized currency... by setting rules that potentially interfere with the free exchange of said currency.

Amazon has made a fortune selling counterfeit products... and today it might cause thousands to lose their eyesight

Natural News - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 19:20
(Natural News) Every tech giant has a dirty little secret that behind its market success. In the early days of dial-up internet, for example, AOL (which stands for America On Line) earned most of its revenues from pay-by-the-hour connection fees that granted users access to adult chat rooms. Google’s success has been ensured by it...

Greyerz Issues Warning About War, Market Turmoil, Shocks And Exchange Controls

King World News - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 19:13

Today the man who has become legendary for his predictions on QE, historic moves in currencies, just issued a warning to King World News about war, market turmoil, shocks and exchange controls.

The post Greyerz Issues Warning About War, Market Turmoil, Shocks And Exchange Controls appeared first on King World News.

Cutting sugar consumption for just two weeks found to dramatically improve the health of children

Natural News - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 19:08
(Natural News) Nutritionists have observed that simply cutting sugar intake drastically improved the metabolic function among children in only two weeks. These results were published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA) and ends with a call for parents to take a stronger stance on their children’s diet. Authors of the nutritional review...

In Nationwide Address, Trump To Unveil "New Path Forward" On Afghanistan Tomorrow

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 19:06

With the anti-neocon Steve Bannon out, and nobody left in Trump's inner circle to halt the simmering push for war in Aghanistan, North Korea, the Middle East and virtually everywhere else courtesy of Generals Kelly and McMaster, this morning Reuters reported, quoting Defense Secretary Mattis that Trump has a made a decision on the United States' strategy for Afghanistan after a "sufficiently rigorous" review process.

However, Mattis did not provide details on when the White House would make an announcement or what the decision was on Afghanistan, where fighting still rages more than 15 years after U.S. forces invaded and overthrew a Taliban government. The Defense Secretary said he is satisfied with how the administration formulated its new Afghanistan war strategy. But he refused to talk about the new policy until it was disclosed by Trump.

"I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous and did not go in with a pre-set position," Mattis told reporters traveling with him aboard a military aircraft to Jordan. "The president has made a decision. As he said, he wants to be the one to announce it to the American people."

As reported earlier in the year, soon after taking office in January the Trump administration began a review of U.S. policy on Afghanistan, which has expanded into a broader South Asia review. After Trump met with his national security aides on Friday to review an array of options for Afghan strategy, the White House said no decision had been made on whether he would commit more troops to America's longest war. However, Trump tweeted on Saturday: "many decisions made, including on Afghanistan".

U.S. officials have told Reuters that the president was expected to be briefed on options ranging from a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to a modest increase. Out bet is on the latter, and scrap the "modest" part: after all, if there was ever a time Trump need a "war diversion" it is now.

Luckily, we won't have long to wait: according to a statement issued moments ago by the White House, "Trump will address our Nation's troops and the American people tomorrow night at 9:00 pm (EDT) from Fort Meyer in Arlington, VA, to provide an update on the path forward for America's engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia."

Meanwhile, signaling that the U.S. military expects its mission to continue, Bloomberg reports that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Sunday hailed the launch of the Afghan Army's new special operations corps, declaring that "we are with you and we will stay with you."

Gen. John Nicholson's exhortation of continued support for the Afghans suggested the Pentagon may have won its argument that America's military must stay engaged in the conflict in order to insure terrorists don't once again threaten the U.S. from safe havens in Afghanistan.

 

Nicholson, speaking prior to the White House announcement, said the commandos and a plan to double the size of the Afghan's special operations forces are critical to winning the war. "I assure you we are with you in this fight. We are with you and we will stay with you," he said during a ceremony at Camp Morehead, a training base for Afghan commandos southeast of Kabul.

Furthermore, as Bloomberg notes, the Pentagon was awaiting a final announcement by Trump on a proposal to send nearly 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The added forces would increase training and advising of the Afghan forces and bolster counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and an Islamic State group affiliate trying to gain a foothold in the country.

According to a senior U.S. military officer in Kabul, increasing the number of American troops would allow the military to quickly send additional advisers or airstrike support to two simultaneous operations. Right now, the official said, they can only do so for one. The officer said it would allow the U.S. to send fighter aircraft, refueling aircraft and surveillance aircraft to multiple locations for missions.

 

The officer was not authorized to discuss the details publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. Afghan military commanders have been clear that they want and expect continued U.S. military help.

 

Pulling out American forces "would be a total failure," Col. Abdul Mahfuz, the Afghan intelligence agency chief for Qarahbagh, north of Kabul, said Saturday. And he said that substituting paid contractors for U.S. troops would be a formula for continuing the war, rather than completing it.

As such, anyone harboring any hope that with two generals whispering strategy in Trump's ear, and with anti-interventionist Bannon out of the picture, that Trump will announce an accelerated withdrawal of US troops from the war-battered country, should probably not hold their breath. Meanwhile, keep a close eye on Mattis, Kelly and McMaster: once Trump announces the inevitable boost in military activity in Afghanistan first (and soon, everywhere else), it will be the three generals who - together with Goldman Sachs when it comes to domestic policy - are now officially in control of the U.S. executive branch.

Weekly Update 18 Aug 2017

Priced in Gold - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 18:28

Bonds, stocks, and currencies were lower, but digital tokens and commodities were mixed. Bitcoin rose 12.2% while Ethereum dropped 5.2%. Coffee was the weakest asset class, falling 9.4%.

The Canadian Dollar and Chinese Yuan were the best performing national currencies, off by 0.1% and 0.2% respectively. The Euro fell the most, dropping 1.1%. Bonds were lower, with the 20+ year TLT off 0.6%, the 1-3 year SHY losing 0.8% and USD cash (notes of zero maturity) dropping 0.7%.

Bitcoin rose to a new all-time-high of 108.1 grams on Wednesday the 16th, then pulled back to close the week at 99.8 grams, up 12.8%. Ethereum fell gradually throughout the week, ending down 5.2%. Considering that it was up 38.2% the prior week, this is a modest pullback.

All stock indexes fell, but the Nikkei 225 was the weakest index, dropping 2.2%. The Euro STOXX was almost unchanged, off just 0.1%. The DJIA was off 1.6% while the S&P 500 fell 1.4%. Gold stocks were down 1.5%.

Palladium was the strongest of the commodities (up 3.0%). Coffee fell the most, dropping 9.4%. Platinum and silver dropped 0.6% and 0.4% respectively.

Click for PDF version

John Williams Warns "A Move To Impeach Trump Will Tank The Dollar"

Zerohedge - Sun, 08/20/2017 - 16:00

Outspoken exposer of the establishment smoke and mirrors, economist John Williams spoke with USA Watchdog's Greg Hunter this week in a far-ranging interview from Trump impeachment to economic collapse and from the demise of the dollar to physical gold ownership as the "ultimate hedge."

A big factor in the dollar’s value is political stability or the perceived political stability. Right now, you have a circumstance in Washington where there is tremendous political discord. I can’t remember seeing anything like this in the past.

 

The President has effectively had his options shut off in terms of moving the economy. I was looking for him to get elected because of the weakness in the economy. . . . This intensifies the problems for the economy, but I can tell you right up front it’s a big negative for the dollar...

 

If you have a move for impeachment for the President, that will tank the dollar.

It appears the trend is in place for sure...

What does John Williams’ gut tell him to do before this Fall?

Williams says,

I would be out of the stock market, and I’d have my money in gold. I mean physical gold, physically owning the gold...

 

Suppose the things I am looking for begin to break. You may see rioting in the streets. You may see disruptions in the supply chains to grocery stores...

 

Gold is the ultimate hedge against all the craziness in the world and very bad financial markets, dangerous currency markets and bad inflation.  Physical gold is the ultimate hedge because it retains its value over time... I have been looking for it to go higher, and it is going to go a lot higher as the circumstances deteriorate."

Williams conclude rather ominously...

"As the dollar plummets, so will U.S. stock prices. They are heavily supported by the influx of capital from abroad...

 

Given the underlying fundamentals in the markets and in the economy, I think all the components are in place for one of the great financial panics of all time."

Judging by the recent moves in markets, they are inching that way...

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