You are here

Feed aggregator

Some Election Interference Is More Equal Than Others - How Ukraine Meddled On Behalf Of Clinton

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 20:25

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

A couple of days ago, Politico published a fascinating piece describing how factions associated with the current Ukrainian government apparently interfered in the U.S. election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. The findings seem pretty damning, and certainly warrant at least some conversation within the American media given the 24/7 obsession with Russia. Nevertheless, most of you have probably never heard of this saga, since when it comes to the corporate media news cycle, some election interference is more equal than others.

The article is lengthy, and can be confusing at times given all the moving parts, but I highly encourage you to read it. Ukrainian interference in the election can be traced to essentially two sources. First, there was the apparent collaboration between the Ukrainian embassy in Washington D.C. and a highly paid Ukrainian-American DNC consultant, Alexandra Chalupa. The second angle is far more disturbing, and involves the publicization of a so-called ledger demonstrating corruption between Paul Manafort and pro-Russian elements in Ukraine, by a parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko. Bizarrely, the investigation was effectively dropped after Trump won the election, making you wonder if there was anything really there in the first place.

What follows are excerpts from the excellent piece, Ukrainian Efforts to Sabotage Trump Backfire:

Donald Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former Soviet bloc country.

 

Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

 

A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

 

The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia. But they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.

 

Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.

 

The Ukrainian antipathy for Trump’s team — and alignment with Clinton’s — can be traced back to late 2013. That’s when the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Manafort had been advising, abruptly backed out of a European Union pact linked to anti-corruption reforms. Instead, Yanukovych entered into a multibillion-dollar bailout agreement with Russia, sparking protests across Ukraine and prompting Yanukovych to flee the country to Russia under Putin’s protection.

 

In the ensuing crisis, Russian troops moved into the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and Manafort dropped off the radar.

 

Manafort’s work for Yanukovych caught the attention of a veteran Democratic operative named Alexandra Chalupa, who had worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison during the Clinton administration. Chalupa went on to work as a staffer, then as a consultant, for Democratic National Committee. The DNC paid her $412,000 from 2004 to June 2016, according to Federal Election Commission records, though she also was paid by other clients during that time, including Democratic campaigns and the DNC’s arm for engaging expatriate Democrats around the world.

 

She said she shared her concern with Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Valeriy Chaly, and one of his top aides, Oksana Shulyar, during a March 2016 meeting at the Ukrainian Embassy. According to someone briefed on the meeting, Chaly said that Manafort was very much on his radar, but that he wasn’t particularly concerned about the operative’s ties to Trump since he didn’t believe Trump stood much of a chance of winning the GOP nomination, let alone the presidency.

 

Chalupa said the embassy also worked directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions. She added, though, “they were being very protective and not speaking to the press as much as they should have. I think they were being careful because their situation was that they had to be very, very careful because they could not pick sides. It’s a political issue, and they didn’t want to get involved politically because they couldn’t.”

 

Shulyar vehemently denied working with reporters or with Chalupa on anything related to Trump or Manafort, explaining “we were stormed by many reporters to comment on this subject, but our clear and adamant position was not to give any comment [and] not to interfere into the campaign affairs.”

 

Shulyar said her work with Chalupa “didn’t involve the campaign,” and she specifically stressed that “We have never worked to research and disseminate damaging information about Donald Trump and Paul Manafort.”

 

But Andrii Telizhenko, who worked as a political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy under Shulyar, said she instructed him to help Chalupa research connections between Trump, Manafort and Russia. “Oksana said that if I had any information, or knew other people who did, then I should contact Chalupa,” recalled Telizhenko, who is now a political consultant in Kiev. “They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa,” he said, adding “Oksana was keeping it all quiet,” but “the embassy worked very closely with” Chalupa.

 

In fact, sources familiar with the effort say that Shulyar specifically called Telizhenko into a meeting with Chalupa to provide an update on an American media outlet’s ongoing investigation into Manafort.

 

Telizhenko recalled that Chalupa told him and Shulyar that, “If we can get enough information on Paul [Manafort] or Trump’s involvement with Russia, she can get a hearing in Congress by September.”

Sure seems like pretty close coordination between a DNC consultant and the official embassy of Ukraine in the midst of a Presidential election.

Nevertheless, that’s small potatoes compared to what happened within the Ukrainian parliament itself. As Politico notes:

While it’s not uncommon for outside operatives to serve as intermediaries between governments and reporters, one of the more damaging Russia-related stories for the Trump campaign — and certainly for Manafort — can be traced more directly to the Ukrainian government.

 

Documents released by an independent Ukrainian government agency — and publicized by a parliamentarian — appeared to show $12.7 million in cash payments that were earmarked for Manafort by the Russia-aligned party of the deposed former president, Yanukovych.

 

The New York Times, in the August story revealing the ledgers’ existence, reported that the payments earmarked for Manafort were “a focus” of an investigation by Ukrainian anti-corruption officials, while CNN reported days later that the FBI was pursuing an overlapping inquiry.

 

Clinton’s campaign seized on the story to advance Democrats’ argument that Trump’s campaign was closely linked to Russia. The ledger represented “more troubling connections between Donald Trump’s team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said in a statement. He demanded that Trump “disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort’s and all other campaign employees’ and advisers’ ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump’s employees or advisers are currently representing and or being paid by them.”

 

A former Ukrainian investigative journalist and current parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko, who was elected in 2014 as part of Poroshenko’s party, held a news conference to highlight the ledgers, and to urge Ukrainian and American law enforcement to aggressively investigate Manafort.

 

“I believe and understand the basis of these payments are totally against the law — we have the proof from these books,” Leshchenko said during the news conference, which attracted international media coverage. “If Mr. Manafort denies any allegations, I think he has to be interrogated into this case and prove his position that he was not involved in any misconduct on the territory of Ukraine,” Leshchenko added. 

These are some really serious allegations, which makes his current behavior, which I’ll highlight later, that much more concerning.

Manafort denied receiving any off-books cash from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, and said that he had never been contacted about the ledger by Ukrainian or American investigators, later telling POLITICO “I was just caught in the crossfire.”

 

The scrutiny around the ledgers — combined with that from other stories about his Ukraine work — proved too much, and he stepped down from the Trump campaign less than a week after the Times story.

 

At the time, Leshchenko suggested that his motivation was partly to undermine Trump. “For me, it was important to show not only the corruption aspect, but that he is [a] pro-Russian candidate who can break the geopolitical balance in the world,” Leshchenko told the Financial Times about two weeks after his news conference. The newspaper noted that Trump’s candidacy had spurred “Kiev’s wider political leadership to do something they would never have attempted before: intervene, however indirectly, in a U.S. election,” and the story quoted Leshchenko asserting that the majority of Ukraine’s politicians are “on Hillary Clinton’s side.”

Well, well, well…but there’s more.

An operative who has worked extensively in Ukraine, including as an adviser to Poroshenko, said it was highly unlikely that either Leshchenko or the anti-corruption bureau would have pushed the issue without at least tacit approval from Poroshenko or his closest allies.

 

“It was something that Poroshenko was probably aware of and could have stopped if he wanted to,” said the operative.

 

And, almost immediately after Trump’s stunning victory over Clinton, questions began mounting about the investigations into the ledgers — and the ledgers themselves.

 

An official with the anti-corruption bureau told a Ukrainian newspaper, “Mr. Manafort does not have a role in this case.”

 

And, while the anti-corruption bureau told Politico late last month that a “general investigation [is] still ongoing” of the ledger, it said Manafort is not a target of the investigation. “As he is not the Ukrainian citizen, [the anti-corruption bureau] by the law couldn’t investigate him personally,” the bureau said in a statement.

Note that the only thing that changed is Trump won the election, which apparently caused the Ukrainian government to backtrack on the entire thing after its sabotage failed to deliver the desire outcome.

Some Poroshenko critics have gone further, suggesting that the bureau is backing away from investigating because the ledgers might have been doctored or even forged.

 

And in an interview this week, Manafort, who re-emerged as an informal advisor to Trump after Election Day, suggested that the ledgers were inauthentic and called their publication “a politically motivated false attack on me. My role as a paid consultant was public. There was nothing off the books, but the way that this was presented tried to make it look shady.”

As shameless as all of this is, it doesn’t end there.

Poroshenko’s allies are scrambling to figure out how to build a relationship with Trump, who is known for harboring and prosecuting grudges for years.

 

A delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians allied with Poroshenko last month traveled to Washington partly to try to make inroads with the Trump transition team, but they were unable to secure a meeting, according to a Washington foreign policy operative familiar with the trip. And operatives in Washington and Kiev say that after the election, Poroshenko met in Kiev with top executives from the Washington lobbying firm BGR — including Ed Rogers and Lester Munson — about how to navigate the Trump regime.

 

Weeks later, BGR reported to the Department of Justice that the government of Ukraine would pay the firm $50,000 a month to “provide strategic public relations and government affairs counsel,” including “outreach to U.S. government officials, non-government organizations, members of the media and other individuals.”

The fact that foreign influence is purchased like this is simply disgusting, but I digress.

In fact, I’ve saved the best for last…

The Poroshenko regime’s standing with Trump is considered so dire that the president’s allies after the election actually reached out to make amends with — and even seek assistance from — Manafort, according to two operatives familiar with Ukraine’s efforts to make inroads with Trump.

After essentially claiming that Manafort was a hired gun for Putin to intervene in the internal affairs of Ukraine, the government is now reaching out to him? You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see something’s not adding up here. Was the entire investigation a fraud to help Hillary Clinton win the election? If so, isn’t that election interference?

Nevertheless, I somehow I doubt we’ll see America’s three stooges, Graham, Rubio and McCain make a big stink over this one.

Lady Liberty will be a black woman on a U.S. gold coin in April

GATA - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 20:04

And she's as beautiful as can be.

* * *

By Erin McCann
The New York Times
Friday, January 13, 2017

The United States Mint will release in April a commemorative gold coin that will feature Lady Liberty as a black woman, marking the first time that she has been depicted as anything other than white on the nation’s currency.

The coin, with a $100 face value, will commemorate the 225th anniversary of the Mint's coin production, the Mint and the Treasury Department announced on Thursday. Going on sale April 6, it will be 24-karat and weigh about an ounce.

It is part of a series of commemorative coins that will be released every two years. Future ones will show Lady Liberty as Asian, Hispanic, and Indian "to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States," the Mint said in a statement. ...

... For the remainder of the report:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/13/us/black-lady-liberty-us-coin.html

ADVERTISEMENT

Sandspring Resources Commences 2016 Exploration Campaign

Company Announcement
August 17, 2016

Sandspring Resources Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:SSP, US OTC: SSPXF) is pleased to announce commencement of the 2016 exploration campaign at its Toroparu Gold Project in Guyana, South America.

In 2015 the company completed a 3,700-meter diamond drilling program on the promising Sona Hill Prospect, located 5 kilometers southeast of the main Toroparu deposit. Sona Hill is the easternmost gold anomaly in a cluster of 10 gold features located within a 20-by-7-kilometer hydrothermal alteration halo around Toroparu. Drilling at Sona Hill in 2012 and in 2015 intercepted high-grade mineralization in both saprolite and bedrock, and confirmed the continuity and grade potential of the Sona Hill mineralization.

For the remainder of the announcement and highlights of the 2015 drill program:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/sandspring-resources-commences-2016-explo...

Join GATA here:

Vancouver Resource Investment Conference
Sunday-Monday, January 22 and 23, 2017
Vancouver Convention Centre West
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
https://cambridgehouse.com/event/54/vancouver-resource-investment-confer...

Dollar Vigilante Internationalization and Investment Summit
Friday, February 24, 2017
Resort Mundo Imperial
Acapulco, Mexico
http://tdvinvestmentsummit.com

Help keep GATA going:

GATA is a civil rights and educational organization based in the United States and tax-exempt under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Its e-mail dispatches are free, and you can subscribe at:

http://www.gata.org

To contribute to GATA, please visit:

http://www.gata.org/node/16

Illinois Lawmakers Consider Massive, Regressive Tax Hike On Low-Income Families (a.k.a "Soda Tax")

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 20:00

To our complete lack of surprise, lawmakers in the State of Illinois are considering following in the footsteps of Philadelphia by imposing a 1 cent per ounce "soda tax" on all sugary beverages.

 

And while it's being done under the guise of "improving public health," precisely zero people believe that the Nanny State of Illinois cares about the sugar intake of its residents.  Of course, the real motivation behind the so-called "soda taxes" springing up in liberal bastions across the country is the $100's of million of tax dollars than can be generated to help them grow the Nanny State even bigger.

Lets look at a quick example of how the tax dollars add up.  Lets say, just for fun, that the average person consumes one, 12 ounce, sugary beverage (soda, juice,  etc.) per day.  That would equate to roughly a $45 annual tax per person (12 ounces x 365 days x $0.01 per ounce).  Multiply that by a family of 4 and the annual tax per household is $180 or roughly 30 bps of the median Illinois household income of $60,000. 

And while that doesn't sound like much, and obviously it was designed that way, the numbers are staggering when you start to consider the statewide revenue potential.  Applying the the $45 per person annual tax from above to Illinois' 13 million people implies that the total revenue potential for state coffers is $585mm.  And, before you ask, while we understand that most infants aren't drinking a can of Dr. Pepper on the reg (although we are talking about Chicago so who knows), we also guess that most teenagers are drinking more than one sugary drink per day so just go along with our rough math here.

Of course, as the Daily Caller pointed out, Philadelphia residents have been shocked by the impact of the soda tax on their grocery bills.  And even though Mayor Jim Kenney would like for you to believe that local businesses are responsible for the cost of a 12-pack of soda doubling overnight, we suspect most Philly voters are slightly smarter than that.

Consumers are in shock at price hikes on sugary beverages across Philadelphia due to a Soda tax that took effect Jan 1, and now the mayor is blaming increased costs on businesses.

 

Mayor Jim Kenney, who lead the charge for the passage of the tax, is lashing out at the business community over higher prices, even alleging retailers of attempting to stir resentment for the tax in the community. Kenney is accusing retailers of price gouging, purposefully constructed to undermine the tax and the efforts of the local government. Retailers who are charging the tax as a separate line item or who are putting up signs specifically highlighting the cost of the tax to the consumer, are engaging in an attempt to “mislead” shoppers and are “wrong,” according to Kenney, reports CBS Philly.

 

The contentious soda tax secured passage in June but consumers in Philadelphia are still flabbergasted by the price increases the tax is sparking. In some cases, shoppers found that they were paying more for the soda tax than the actual product they are purchasing.

 

Some residents said they are going to start shopping for their beverages out of the city to avoid the onerous tax. The mayor continues to defended the tax, arguing it is the choice of the retailers to pass the added costs onto their customers, deflecting responsibility. Prices are as much as doubling on certain products due to the tax. A 12-pack of Lipton Diet Green Tea at a Save-A-Lot in the city is now priced at $8.03, instead the $4.99 it costed in December.

Meanwhile, as we pointed out back in November (see "Startling Look At How Much Money Food Stamp Recipients Spend On Junk Food"), food stamp recipients spend over $350 million per year on "soft drinks."  So, lets assume conservatively that people pay, on average $1 per 12 oz can of soda.  That would imply that food stamp recipients are consuming 4.2 billion ounces of soda per year which means that $42mm of your federal tax dollars could be going to fund soda taxes in a Nanny State near you in the not too distant future...enjoy that thought over you long weekend. 

Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald Discuss Deep State War Vs. Trump, While Ex-Spook Hints At Assassination

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 19:48

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is not a fan of President-elect Trump, appeared on Tucker Carlson tonight to discuss the dangerous ongoing efforts among powerful anti-Trump factions within the US Government's "Deep State," who have collaborated with members of the Democratic Party and traditionally liberal media, to do maximum damage to the incoming President. Recall Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's ominous "six ways from Sunday" comment from 10 days ago.

Greenwald, an accomplished litigator, journalist, and author, does a masterful job illustrating the players, motives, and potential fallout from this dangerous effort within the US Government's intelligence apparatus. Greenwald goes deep, discussing how Trump's election ruined the plan for regime change in Syria, specifically mentioning, among other things, that the deep state was waiting for Obama to leave office before executing their plan:

The number one foreign policy priority of the CIA over the last four to five years has been the proxy war they're waging in Syria to remove Bashar Al Assad - and Hillary Clinton was quite critical of Obama for constraining them. She wanted to escalate that war to unleash the CIA, to impose a no-fly zone in Syria to confront Russia, whereas Trump took the exact opposite position. He said we have no business in Syria trying to change the government, we ought to let the Russia and Assad go free and killing ISIS and Al Quaeda and whoever else they want to kill.

 

He [Trump] was a threat to the CIA's primary institutional priority of regime change in Syria. Beyond that, Clinton wanted a much more confrontational and belligerent posture towards Moscow, which the CIA has been acrimonious with for decades, whereas Trump wanted better relations. They viewed Trump as a threat to their institutional pre-eminence to their ability to get their agenda imposed on Washington.

What you're seeing is actually quite dangerous. There really is at this point obvious open warefare between this un-elected, but very powerful faction that resides in Washington and sees Presidents come and go - on the one hand, and the person that the American democracy elected to be elected on the other. There's clearly extreme conflict and subversion taking place. '

This really is a must-watch, and goes hand-in-hand with Tucker's interview with Dr. Stephen Cohen this week:

 

 

Meanwhile ex-spook and security consultant John Schindler - who is very clearly part of the faction to remove Trump by any means, sent out a tweet yesterday which mentioned "taking traitor Trump out now."

This is overt, and Schindler also just more or less outed Washington Post's David Ignatius as a CIA mouthpiece (along the same vein as Deep Throat, perhaps we can refer to Ignatius's source as Golden Shower?).

This cavalier attitude towards assassinating Donald Trump has been supported by social media giant Facebook:

And nothing, to the best of my knowledge, has been done about the multitude of death threats Trump has received - including ones from individuals who have visited the White House and have CIA connections.

Meanwhile 8 years ago, a La Mesa, California man was charged, arrested, and thrown in a halfway house for 60 days for going on a drunken, racist, profanity laced online tirade against President-elect Obama ending in "he will have a 50 cal in the head soon." - a conviction which was later reversed when the threats were found to be not credible.

Perhaps the secret service is merely spread too thin to investigate these threats, or perhaps President-elect Trump is wise to have his own private security.

 

 Content originally generated at iBankCoin.com * Follow on Twitter @ZeroPointNow

What Is The Deep State?

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 19:35

Submitted by Jesse via Jesse's Cafe Americain blog,

"... there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.

 

My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an 'establishment.'

 

All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched.

 

Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude."

 

Mike Lofgren, Anatomy of the Deep State

I do not think our time is all that different from those that have gone before it, insofar as the substance and types of our actions are concerned.  Every age has its thieves and hypocrites, in high and low places.

Rather, what is a little more distinctive of us is the numbers, the sheer number of people whose character, or a lack thereof, fits a common pattern— mean, petty, deceitful, and often willfully ignorant of moral constraints, lacking in civility and grace, and utterly unrepentant of it.

They are quite proud of their cleverness in gaming the system, in embracing the worst aspects of the human economy and abusing them, in the name of their unnatural virtues.  If they are liars, they strives to be among the most shameless and adept.  If they are thieves, they admire those who steal tirelessly and the most, while paying no consequences.

And above all, their perspective on life allows them to have no shame in it, any of it, in what other times would have been done in the darkness, and only behind closed doors, and carefully covered up.

We take our ill gotten gains, and place them in the spotlight with the high sounding names of wise-sounding and humanitarian organizations and foundations.

*  *  *

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

Søren Kierkegaard

'Bipartisan' Senate Intelligence Committee To Probe Russia-Campaign Contacts

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 19:23

Hours after WaPo reports anonymous sources claiming Trump's national security adviser Flynn contacted Russian officials, and Politico details Hillary's dealing with Ukrainian officials, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced in a statement that it will launch an inquiry to look at any links between Russia and individuals associated with U.S. political campaigns as part of bipartisan inquiry into Russia and cyber activity.

Full Statement: Joint Statement on Committee Inquiry into Russian Intelligence Activities

WASHINGTON – Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today issued a joint statement regarding the Committee’s inquiry into Russian intelligence activities:

As part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s oversight responsibilities we believe that it is critical to have a full understanding of the scope of Russian intelligence activities impacting the United States.

In the course of its regular work, the Committee conducts oversight of the Intelligence Community’s collection and analysis related to Russia; however, the October 7, 2016, joint statement on election security from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), combined with the declassified Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” raise profound concerns.

The Committee will, therefore, conduct a bipartisan inquiry of the intelligence reporting behind the Intelligence Community assessments from January 6, 2017 on this subject.

The scope of the Committee’s inquiry will include, but is not limited to:

  • A review of the intelligence that informed the Intelligence Community Assessment “Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections;”
  • Counterintelligence concerns related to Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns;
  • Russian cyber activity and other “active measures” directed against the U.S., both as it regards the 2016 election and more broadly.

The Committee plans to:

  • Hold hearings examining Russian intelligence activity;
  • Interview senior officials of both the outgoing and incoming administrations including the issuance of subpoenas if necessary to compel testimony; and
  • Produce both classified and unclassified reports on its findings.

The Committee will follow the intelligence wherever it leads.  We will conduct this inquiry expeditiously, and we will get it right.  When possible, the Committee will hold open hearings to help inform the public about the issues.  That said, we will be conducting the bulk of the Committee’s business behind closed doors because we take seriously our obligation to protect sources and methods.  As the Committee’s investigation progresses, we will keep Senate leadership, and the broader body, apprised of our findings.

We have received assurance from the Director of National Intelligence that the Intelligence Community will fully and promptly support our requests for information related to the investigation, and we have every reason to believe that commitment will be honored by the incoming administration.

Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer have made it clear they expect any investigation into Russia’s involvement in our nation’s elections to be conducted in a bipartisan manner.  It is a charge the SSCI takes seriously, as bipartisanship—in fact, non-partisanship—is at the very core of the Committee’s charter and is essential to preserving the intelligence equities involved.”

In addition to the joint statement, the Senators offered additional comment separately.

“As I indicated in my December statement, the SSCI has focused a great deal of attention on Russia’s behavior around the world,” said Chairman Burr.  “Over the last two years, we have held more than ten hearings and briefings on these issues, with four reviewing Russia’s so-called ‘active measures.’”

“The SSCI was established to oversee the intelligence activities and programs of the United States Government, and to ensure that the appropriate departments and agencies provided informed and timely intelligence to our nation’s leaders,” Burr added, “and part of our inquiry will necessarily be focused on what happened, and what didn’t happen, in this case.”

Of the investigation, Vice Chairman Warner said, “This issue impacts the foundations of our democratic system, it’s that important. This requires a full, deep, and bipartisan examination. At this time, I believe that this Committee is clearly best positioned to take on that responsibility, but whoever does this needs to do it right. If it turns out that SSCI cannot properly conduct this investigation, I will support legislation to empower whoever can do it right.  That is my position now, and it will be my position for the duration of the investigation. I look forward to working with Chairman Burr on this tremendously important matter.”

*  *  *

More 'intelligence', more hearings, more non-facts, more cognitively dissonant 'facts', more war-talk aimed at Putin, and more 'claaified' reports... Or put another way, this will never end!

McCarthy, eat your heart out!

Stunning Before And After Pictures Of The California Drought And Devastating Rain Storms

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 19:15

Just as California's liberal elites had convinced everyone that climate change had permanently altered global weather patterns such that the entire state was doomed to be stuck in a perpetual drought which would inevitably render it about as inhabitable as the surface of Mars within years, an unrelenting series of storms has struck and in a matter of days filled lakes, overflowed rivers and buried mountains in snow.  And just like that, 40% of California was lifted from a drought that had plagued the state for a decade.

Of course, that much rain, in such a short period of time, can have devastating consequences as this video from Big Sur illustrates.

River campgrounds and cabins at Big Sur under water as river rages through #CAstorm #CAflood pic.twitter.com/jV1gxcMlIb

— Evan Sernoffsky (@EvanSernoffsky) January 9, 2017

 

As does this dashcam video of a flash flood in norther California. 

 

In all, the rainfall totals from around Northern California over the past 14 days are staggering with certain areas receiving nearly 2 feet of rain according to SFGate.

Downtown San Francisco has received 5.53 inches of rain since Jan. 1. The last time the city has seen a number higher than this was 1982 when 7.53 inches fell between Jan. 1 and Jan. 11. During last year's El Niño year, S.F. had received close to three inches by this date.

 

More impressive numbers: The coastal range mountains outside Guerneville, where roads and homes went underwater when the Russian River flooded, has received some 21 inches of rain since Jan. 4.

 

In Downieville, where the Yuba River gushed with a heavy flow all week, some 23 inches of rain were recorded in the past seven days.

 

And as bad as the flooding has been in parts of Northern California, it would have undoubtedly been even worse but for the the ability to divert some of the excess water into previously depleted reservoirs scattered throughout the state.

The super soakings have filled reservoirs that were mere mud puddles, their cracked lake beds once exposed at the height of the drought that plagued the state for five-plus years and still persists in many regions, especially in Southern California.

 

The reservoirs in Northern California have gained some million acres of storage in the past seven days, Michael Anderson, a climatologist with the California Department of Water Resources estimates. And total surface storage for the state is roughly 97 percent of average, with the the total storage for the largest reservoirs being at 111 percent of normal.

 

Lake Oroville, the state's second-largest reservoir, gained a bit more than 620,000 acre-feet in the first 10 days of January alone.

 

"That is almost 18 percent of its capacity," Anderson said. "Since Oroville was about 750,000 acre-feet below its storage limits during flood season (a consequence of the drought), they can keep all that water for future use and largely offset storage impacts from the drought."

Meanwhile, the transformation of the state's reservoirs, in just a matter of weeks, is astonishing.

 

What a difference a year makes with most reservoirs now near capacity....

 

...versus ~30% of capacity last year.

 

But we're sure this abundance of rain is ever bit as much due to global warming as the lack of rain was last year...but we're still waiting for official confirmation on that from our respected political leaders in Sacramento.

Facebook due for a Face-lift after Fake-News exposes Fakebook

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 19:04

Facebook (FB) is no doubt one of the most popular tech stocks out there. The market cap of Facebook as of this writing is 368 B - it's nearly the size of Amazon.

But what does Facebook really do? This question has been asked of tech stocks since the .com bubble. But many tech stocks, for example Amazon (AMZN) perform a number of useful, tech services. In the case of Amazon they have hundreds of niche services many haven't even heard of, such as Amazon Web Services (which is cloud computing, hosting, and related services), publication services for authors including a full life cycle publishing solution through Kindle, Shipping storing fulfillment and logistics services for small businesses; the list goes on and on and on.

This opinion about Facebook isn't rare - there's actually a huge movement of users who have deleted their profiles and refuse to ever use the service again. Here's one power user, a Forbes contributor, who dumped Facebook, and explains reasons why:

It's official. I'm off the Facebook FB -0.02% grid. Nobody offended me. I didn't have a bad experience. While I'm not thrilled about the idea of Big Brother watching my every move, I'm not particularly paranoid about social media sharing. Therefore, I'm sharing why I'm dumping Facebook and committing to Twitter and Instagram. 1) Facebook sucks time from my life, and unlike money, time is a zero sum game 2) Most of my Facebook friends aren't (actually friends).3) There are other (better) options for photo sharing.4) Facebook brings out the worst in people.5) I learn more on Twitter. 6) The presence of ads on Facebook is getting ridiculous. 7) Less is more. Goodbye, Facebook. Follow me on Twitter: @TimMaurer.

This is just one example. There's actually a flood of people fleeing the platform, they've even created names for Facebook to describe their feelings, like "Fake Book" and others.

What is the straw that broke the camel's back? It was the recent election news cycle. "Fake News" was blamed as having a part in shaping an online discussion about political issues. Sites that broadcast this alleged "Fake News" like Facebook (FB) are being investigated, and users are questioning their use of the sites:

For weeks, Facebook has been questioned about its role in spreading fake news. Now the company has mounted its most concerted effort to combat the problem.

Since the election drama, there's all sorts of accusations both internally and from users as well:

Facebook has been in the eye of a postelection storm for the last few days, embroiled in accusations that it helped spread misinformation and fake news stories that influenced how the American electorate voted. The online conversation among Facebook's executives on Tuesday, which was one of several private message threads that began among the company's top ranks, showed that the social network was internally questioning what its responsibilities might be.

Even as Facebook has outwardly defended itself as a nonpartisan information source - Mark. Zuckerberg, chairman and chief executive, said at a conference on Thursday that Facebook affecting the election was "a pretty crazy idea" - many company executives and employees have been asking one another if, or how, they shaped the minds, opinions and votes of Americans.

We need to take a step back and understand the origins of Facebook as have been revealed in the last years. Facebook isn't just a startup, it has some interesting backers and partners. It was revealed recently that Facebook was part of a broad program to collect user information they publicly volunteered on social media platforms on behalf of the intelligence community. PRISM is just one program but the most bright example of how social media was used to collect intelligence - you can read more about PRISM here. Not only was the NSA and CIA seed stage investors in Facebook under NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) they were active customers. This data they extracted didn't come free - they would pay for it, both with cash and favors. Favors that helped Facebook become the 368 B market cap behemoth that it has become.

All of this however, can potentially crumble. Not only is Facebook under investigation about manipulating public opinion with their 'news algorithm' - it's under scrutiny from potentially one of the most powerful people in the world, president-elect Trump.

Trump hasn't put forth a plan to restructure the intelligence community explicitly; it's been hinted at:

How Trump's reported plans to restructure the intelligence agencies figure into this plan remains to be seen. This week, he selected former senator Dan Coats as his Director of National Intelligence, a position he reportedly considered abolishing earlier.

But case in point; Trump is in a quagmire due to his extensive international business units that can all pose a potential conflict of interest when he's in office. As a President first and business owner second, he's dealing with it. But from that perspective, would he perceive that it's a conflict of interest for the intelligence community to directly invest, control, and partner with US tech companies on US soil - especially those such as the CIA that according to their mandate, only operate internationally? According to the CIA's own website:

By law, the CIA is specifically prohibited from collecting foreign intelligence concerning the domestic activities of US citizens. Its mission is to collect information related to foreign intelligence and foreign counterintelligence. By direction of the president in Executive Order 12333 of 1981 and in accordance with procedures approved by the Attorney General, the CIA is restricted in the collection of intelligence information directed against US citizens. Collection is allowed only for an authorized intelligence purpose; for example, if there is a reason to believe that an individual is involved in espionage or international terrorist activities. The CIA's procedures require senior approval for any such collection that is allowed, and, depending on the collection technique employed, the sanction of the Director of National Intelligence and Attorney General may be required. These restrictions on the CIA have been in effect since the 1970s.

That's probably why InQTel makes their host clients sign NDAs! If Facebook can't disclose them as an investor, it can never be proven they are involved in domestic intelligence even if indirectly, as the evidence could be thrown out of court due legal technicalities of how it entered the process of discovery (against the NDA). The author is not a lawyer to elaborate on how the NSA and CIA protect themselves from classified disclosures and lawsuits or worse, but they do have the best lawyers in America and even their own special court, called the FISA court, which is like a secret, classified court.

So if the NSA/CIA is 'restructured' - would they look at InQTel and their affiliates? Is it a potential conflict of interest that the NSA/CIA has a vested interest in a company like Facebook that has been accused of shaping the election domestically? It's unusual for the NSA/CIA to get involved in domestic politics. They have a history for fixing foreign elections, there are more than 100 countries where the NSA/CIA has either fixed the elections, or tried to, or tried to manipulate the local politics. But they've never done it domestically, at least to this extent. If they are investigated and restructured, and 'de-politicized' - it can also lead to an investigation or restructuring in the least, of their public tech assets, companies like Facebook . This may sound like a big roundabout way to make a case; but consider that the NSA/CIA's connection to Facebook is 1) not often talked about and 2) widely misinterpreted. In fact, they are a large part of the success of Facebook because well, they have really good connections!

Readers should note that, the CIA takes direction from the NSC, which is led by the President.

Facebook itself doesn't develop technology or offer a 'product' as does a company like IBM (IBM) or even Apple (AAPL). Facebook 's entire model is based on advertising, and now they have been buying companies that actually build and develop technology. But the core of Facebook is essentially, a house of cards built on the egos of its users and the illusionary world they allow people to create for themselves. This is not a stable business!

None of this is going to be reflected in the numbers, it's hard to quantify. Even with a huge collapse Facebook is going to be around probably forever, but shareholders should take note of these major demographic trends that can cause a severe decline in the stock price as well as en-masse abandonment of the platform, at least from it's US users. In foreign markets, it's not clear if Facebook can be the dominating platform, as countries have their own platforms specific to their own culture, the best example being Russia's VK which penetrates 99% of the market. Other countries have their own respective VK's - so it's not clear if Facebook could make up for the US issue with non-US business.

Finally, Facebook is littered with spam and fake accounts. Facebook claims to be aware of this issue, but it continues to be an ongoing problem. Local Police are even creating fake accounts for the purpose of monitoring local activity:

Police departments around the nation have taken predictive crime prevention to a new level by building fake user accounts, as well as posing as genuine people to gather information about local events, Tech.Mic reports.

Local agents put on a "digital mask" and pose as "members of the community," allowing them to gather personal information about suspects they consider a high risk of being involved in a future crime or have existing charges.

In a social media guide for law enforcement officialspublished by the Justice Department, the document details, officers create fraudulent profiles even though Facebook officially bans the practice.

That's right - the Police have a guide on the creation of fake accounts in order to participate in the growing field of 'pre-crime' published by the Department of Justice. You can download and read this manual by clicking here. From the introduction:

Police departments also have begun to explore the use of social media to obtain informationespecially for tactical purposes, such as gathering information about threats of mob violence, riots, or isolated criminal activity during otherwiselawful mass demonstrations.

There's even guides on how to create a fake account on sites like lifehacker.com - that's not considering the companies that have made a business out of facebook-spam including but not limited to the US Military, via their Ntrepid software:

The U.S. Military is about to get into the business of lurking on forums and hanging around social media sites in a big way. Central Command (Centcom) is teaming up with a company called Ntrepid on software that will allow military users to create and manage multiple fake-but-convincing social media accounts, "replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent."

The military says these sockpuppet accounts will support "classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US."

So here we have several cases of PUBLIC NOTIFICATIONS where organizations have stated PUBLICLY that they are creating fake accounts EN MASSE. That doesn't consider the thousands or perhaps millions of companies that do this privately, as a business. Here's just one example of a site that simply sells Facebook (FB) accounts, buyaccs.com and why not, they have a 'bulk' discount for lazy spammers that don't want to go through the trouble of creating their own army of fake accounts like the US military says they will do. Here's an image of the site in case it gets taken down - you can see price per account, and how many accounts available per provider. If these are all 'real' accounts - who would 'sell' their Facebook account? And how would they possibly have so many in such large quantities?

Facebook and supporters of Facebook is in denial about how spammy Facebook has become. They are further blinded by the fact that ad-dollars have continued to roll into Facebook's ad platform, which has put the issue of fake accounts on the back burner.

As an aside, Google (GOOG) has always had a problem with click fraud, but they developed highly sophisticated algorithms to detect click fraud, it's not 100% accurate but works really well, according to advertisers and publishers. Legitimate publishers and advertisers both don't want fraudulent clicks even if it's as simple as a publisher clicking on his own ad (this is filtered by a simple IP algorithm). Google protects advertisers by finding invalid clicks (not genuine) and refunding the fees generated and in extreme cases, banning the publisher involved. It's unknown how much Google invested in the development of this system, but it works.

Not only has Facebook not attempted to do something like this, they don't even go after companies who have made a business out of hacking and spamming Facebook - they encourage it! They have changed their 'real name policies' but that's superficial, robots that create fake accounts have always used real names or names that sound real, i.e. Archimbaldo Ultsright, James Terefin, Haggo de Blazio, Horatio de Pulpa, if you aren't creative here's a fake name generator, similar to what all the robots use.

All of this information is of course, from the technical perspective of Facebook it says nothing about the earnings, the actual revenue Facebook has received and so on. Detractors of this Fakebook theory will claim this is all being dealt with. What they are failing to realize is how fragile the Facebook model is. Take a look at another example - many think Apple is overpriced. But Apple can't be replicated in one weekend with a few million dollars - Facebook can, and has. There are thousands of competition social network sites that many have started using instead of Facebook . As isn't sitting on a really unique technology / patent portfolio, the only thing keeping them at the top are their really high end connections, including but not limited to Silicon Valley and associated Billionaires, the NSA/CIA apparatus, and the marketing / advertising industry which has a vested interest to see Facebook be an 'alternative' to the main stream media which is declining in relevance.

So, longs should be concerned about this and at the least, hedge your positions and in the most prudent, get out and find something with real value like Overstock.com (OSTK) as we have mentioned in a previous article. There's hundreds of better tech plays out there that are real deep value plays. Facebook is due for a major face-lift, and the current management is not willing to face the facts: Facebook is Fake.

For a quick primer on the financial system checkout SPLITTING PENNIES - YOUR POCKET GUIDE TO MAKE YOU A FOREX GENIUS

Citadel Pays $22 Million Settlement For Frontrunning Its Clients

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 18:55

Last May we reported that, after years of railing against Citadel's dominant position at the intersection of HFT trading and retail orderflow - Citadel was recently found to be the largest private US trading venue - Federal authorities were investigating the market-making arms of Citadel LLC and KCG Holdings looking into the possibility that the two giants of electronic trading are giving small investors a poor deal when executing stock transactions on their behalf.

As a reminder, Citadel is so big and its own private stock-trading platform is so large that, if it were an official exchange recognized by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it would one of the largest registered exchanges in the United States - bigger than Nasdaq. Citadel Execution Services, the firm’s wholesale market-making unit, recently executed 35% of all trades by retail investors in U.S.-listed stocks.

It was this retail trading giant that authorities were probing, and specifically looking at internal data concerning the firms’ routing of customer stock orders through exchanges and other trading systems, to see whether they are giving customers unfavorable prices on trades in order to capture more profit on the transactions.

In other words, the DOJ is looking into whether Citadel is frontrunning its clients, something we have claimed for years.

So what would happens if the DOJ did find what has been obvious to most market participants for years, namely that Ken Griffin's firm was frontrunning retail orderflow fore years?

As we summarized at the time, if authorities do move ahead, they would be marching forcefully into the debate over high-speed trading. Critics of HFT, such as this website, have alleged that firms with the fastest trading technology are using speed to manipulate stock prices, giving investors a raw deal. The industry counters that its technology delivers cheaper and more transparent trades to investors.

It also delivers guaranteed profits to itself, because while on one hand Citadel is a massive market-maker, responsible for the biggest portion of retail flow traffic, on the other it happens to be the most leveraged hedge fund in the world in terms of regulatory to net assets.

* * *

Or maybe nothing at all. Because fast forward to today, when without much fanfare at all, Citadel announced it would pay $22.6 million to settle allegations that it "misled clients about pricing trades", a euphemism for it was frontrunning its clients.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, soon to be run by a former deal lawyer who was particularly close to Goldman Sachs, said in a statement on Friday that Citadel, without admitting or denying the findings, had agreed to pay $5.2m disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, plus interest of $1.4m, in addition to a $16m penalty.

The SEC found precisely what we had said all along: that the company's business unit handling retail suggested to its broker-dealer clients that it would internalize retail orders to provide the best price, but it used algorithms that failed to perform the task from 2007 to 2010; i.e. Citadel was actively trading against the best interests of its clients, and adverse in its own best interests.

"These two algorithms represented a small part of Citadel Securities' internalization business, but they nevertheless affected millions of orders placed by retail investors because of Citadel Securities' large role in that market," said Robert Cohen, co-chief of the SEC enforcement division's market abuse unit.

Citadel, which has since discontinued use of the algorithms, said in a statement Friday that it takes legal compliance "very seriously." 

Today, Citadel Securities resolved an issue related to the adequacy of certain disclosures from late 2007 to January 2010. We take very seriously our obligations to comply fully with all laws and regulations. As the market leader we are committed to providing superior service and execution quality to our clients each and every day.

To those who want to see a Citadel internalizer algo in action, we recommend you read the following article by Nanex' Eric Hunsader, who explains the entire process: "Retail Trades Disadvantaged by Direct Feeds  Internalizers buy at the direct feed price, sell to retail at the SIP feed price."

Trump's Enemies See An Opening

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 18:40

Submitted by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

“Fake news!” roared Donald Trump, the work of “sick people.”

The president-elect was referring to a 35-page dossier of lurid details of his alleged sexual misconduct in Russia, worked up by a former British spy. A two-page summary of the 35 pages had been added to Trump’s briefing by the CIA and FBI — and then leaked to CNN.

This is “something that Nazi Germany would have done,” Trump said. Here, basically, is the story.

During the primaries, anti-Trump Republicans hired the ex-spy to do “oppo research” on Trump, i.e., to dig up dirt.

The spy contacted the Russians. They told him that Trump, at a Moscow hotel in 2013, had been engaged in depraved behavior, that they had the films to blackmail him, and that Trump’s aides had been colluding with them.

When Trump won the nomination, Democrats got the dossier and began shopping it around to the mainstream media. Some sought to substantiate the allegations. None could. So none of them published the charges.

In December, a British diplomat gave the dossier to Sen. John McCain, who personally turned it over to James Comey of the FBI.

On Jan. 7, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and his colleagues at the NSA, CIA and FBI decided the new president needed to know about the dossier. They provided him with a two-page synopsis.

Once CNN learned Trump had been briefed, the cable news network reported on the unpublished dossier, without going into the lurid details.

BuzzFeed released all 35 pages. The story exploded.

Besides Trump’s understandable outrage, his Jan. 11 press conference produced related news.

U.S. intelligence agencies had for months contended that it was Russia who hacked the DNC emails and those of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta. Putin’s objectives, they contend, were to damage both U.S. democracy and Hillary Clinton, whom Putin detests, and to aid Trump.

Trump had previously dismissed claims of Russian hacking as unproved conjecture, and also as being advanced to delegitimize his victory.

Wednesday, Trump conceded Russia did it: “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” adding, Vladimir Putin “should not be doing it.”

The stakes in all of this are becoming huge.

Clearly, Trump hopes to work out with Putin the kind of detente that President Nixon achieved with Leonid Brezhnev.

This should not be impossible. For, unlike the 1970s, there is no Soviet Empire stretching from Havana to Hanoi, no Warsaw Pact dominating Central Europe, no Communist ideology steering Moscow into constant Cold War conflict with the West.

Russia is a great power with great power interests. But she does not seek to restore a global empire or remake the world in her image. U.S.-Russian relations are thus ripe for change.

But any such hope is now suddenly impaired.

The howls of indignation from Democrats and the media — that Trump’s victory and Clinton’s defeat were due to Putin’s involvement in our election — have begun to limit Trump’s freedom of action in dealing with Russia. And they are beginning to strengthen the hand of the Russophobes and the Putin-is-Hitler crowd in both parties.

When Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson went before the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio demanded to know why he would not publicly declare Putin a “war criminal.”

The more toxic Putin-haters can make the Russian president, the more difficult for President Trump to deal with him, even if that is in the vital national interest of the United States.

The sort of investigation for which McCain has been clamoring, and the Beltway drums have now begun to beat, could make it almost impossible for President Trump to work with President Putin.

The Washington Post describes the engine it wishes to see built:

“The investigators of Russian meddling, whether a Congressional select committee or an independent commission, should have bipartisan balance, full subpoena authority, no time limit and a commitment to make public as much as possible of what they find.”

What the Post seeks is a Watergate Committee like the one that investigated the Nixon White House, or a commission like the ones that investigated 9/11 and the JFK assassination.

Trump “should recognize,” writes the Post, “that the credibility of his denials of any Russian connections is undermined by his refusal to release tax returns and business records.”

In short, when the investigation begins, Trump must produce the evidence to establish his innocence. Else, he is Putin’s man.

This city is salivating over another Watergate, another broken president. But President-elect Trump should be aware of what is at stake. As The Wall Street Journal writes:

“Mr. Trump’s vehement denials (of collusion with Moscow and corrupt behavior) also mean that if we learn in the future that Russia does have compromising details about him, his Presidency could be over.”

Yes, indeed, very big stakes.

Whistleblower Andrew Maguire Accuses US Government Of Using PSYOPs To Control Economies, Global Markets & People

King World News - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 15:21

Today whistleblower Andrew Maguire accused the US government and "criminal organizations" of using PSYOPs to control economies, global markets and people. Get ready for a trip down the rabbit hole of a mind-blowing Orwellian nightmare, where world markets and events are orchestrated to enrich the global Banking Industrial Complex.

The post Whistleblower Andrew Maguire Accuses US Government Of Using PSYOPs To Control Economies, Global Markets & People appeared first on King World News.

Taiwan Tech Giant May Open US LCD Plant In Response To Trump's "Make In America" Call

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 15:20

While so far various international and domestic companies have announced, grudginly, they would expand production in the US, and hire US workers, after being called out by president-elect Trump on his  favorite "bully pulpit", Twitter, on Friday the push for insourcing took on an unsolicited twist, when Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as iPhone maker FoxConn, and one of the largest employers in the world, and its Japanese subsidiary Sharp, have begun studying the possibility of building an LCD panel plant in the U.S., a Sharp executive said Friday cited by Nikkei.

The Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturer, and its Japanese alliance partner SoftBank Group reportedly told Donald Trump they would jointly make significant investments creating new jobs in the U.S. when SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son met the President-elect in New York last month according to the Japanese paper.

The joint investment plan was proposed by Son, the Sharp executive said, and was put 'on the table' in response to Trump's 'Make in America' call.

While it was reported before that Foxconn may consider making iPhones in the US, that speculation was at a very preliminary stage, with nothing definitive confirmed. It also took place prior to the diplomatic fiasco following Trump's statement that the "one China" policy is negotiable.

Whether this is "gratitude" by Foxconn exces to Trump for siding with the small island is unknown. Officially, with Trump urging American manufacturers to bring operations back to the U.S., Hon Hai is considering production in the U.S. due to its huge market for TVs and other home appliances.

In late December, an LCD panel maker jointly owned by Hon Hai and Sharp announced it would build one of the world's largest panel plants for LCD TVs in Guangzhou, China. The plant is to be jointly built with the local government at a cost of around 1 trillion yen ($8.69 billion) and is scheduled for completion in autumn 2018.

Details of the possible new U.S. plant, including the amount of investment and the date for the launch of operations, have yet to be decided. But people familiar with the plan said approximately the same amount may be spent on the U.S. project as it would entail the construction of a similar facility to to the one in Guangzhou.

Foxconn and Apple both have manufacturing facilities on a very small scale in the U.S., but the newly discussed facility by Foxconn and Sharp would be notably larger. Currently, Foxconn has plants in Virginia and Indiana, along with logistic locations in California and Texas.

As reported previously, Hon Hai, a major producer for Apple, is also considering producing iPhones in the U.S. As an incentive, Donald Trump in November told Tim Cook that he would offer the company a "very large tax cut" to make its products in the U.S. Cook was said to have remained largely neutral on the subject during his call with Trump, later pointing out that one of the major reasons Apple's manufacturing is so heavily centered in China is due to the country's large number of individuals with the required "vocational kind of skills."

Axel Merk On Gold In Presidential Transition Years

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 15:05

Submitted by Axel Merk via Merk Investments,

We get a lot of questions on how gold will perform in 2017. While we have no crystal ball, we thought the tidbit below might be of interest to you as you evaluate whether adding a gold component might provide valuable diversification to your portfolio.

Please consider the chart below:

Since Nixon took the US dollar off the gold standard in 1971 there have been seven Presidential transition years, i.e., years when a new president was inaugurated. Those years were 1974, 1977, 1981, 1989, 1993, 2001, and 2009.

Looking at the data, gold achieved above average returns during those calendar years, +14.8% in Presidential transition years vs an overall average of +8.4%. Perhaps equally important is that those have been years when the S&P 500 greatly underperformed its average over that same time period, -0.9% in Presidential transition years vs an overall average of +9.0%.

The S&P 500 on average was negative for those seven calendar years of Presidential transition. The average return in Presidential transition years is +14.8% for gold and -0.9% for the S&P 500.

One possible theory as to why this might make sense is policy disappointment of a new incoming administration, the high hopes of the newly elected administration may be tougher to achieve in practice, leading to weakness in equity markets. In addition to policy disappointment may be a general sense of policy uncertainty as the rules of the game potentially change under a new administration, which might boost gold as a safe haven.

One caveat is that seven transitions is a small sample size; the reason we limit ourselves to transitions since 1971 is because before gold was pegged to the dollar in one form or another for much of US history.

Art Cashin On The History Of Friday 13th In The Markets

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 14:50

In his daily note, everyone's favorite veteran floor trader, UBS' Art Cashin, reprises the history of Friday the 13th in the markets, and finds that it is far less scarier than some may believe, and in fact has a mild upward bias as it is up 55% to 60% of the time. There are, however, accidents, and on Friday, October 13, 1989, the attempted LBO of UAL collapsed and the Dow plunged 190 points, equal to 860 points today.

From The Feb 13 edition of Cashin's Comments

Triskaidekaphobia (A Reprise) – It’s Friday the 13th and all of the negative myths surrounding it pop up. Friday the 13th actually has a mild upward bias in stock market history. It’s up 55% to 60% of the time.

Those numbers get stood on their head if Friday the 13th falls in the month of November. In November, Friday the 13th has a 70% negative bias, falling a little under 1%.

We think the overall negative myth may be based on a novel published back around 1910. It told of a plot by an evil stock trader (ain’t they all) to crash the market on Friday the 13th.

Prior to 1988, floor brokers used to have fun with the myth by declaring Friday the 13th “Hat Day”. Brokers would don silly and bizarre headgear pretending to ward off evil spirits.

It was colorful and a bit of fun. But, shortly after the 1987 crash, we had the biggest and maybe wildest “Hat Day” ever. Inspired by a sense of post-crash survival, it featured a parade on the floor and best in class awards.

Unfortunately, there was a newspaper “stringer” on the floor. He was doing an interview with a specialist who had gone out of business in the crash by making “too good a market”. The stringer would later sell a piece to the papers called “The Fat Cats In The Hats”. It was a caustic misrepresentation of Hat Day. We have not had one since.

Without the lucky charm of “Hat Day”, there were occasional problems. On Friday, October 13, 1989, the attempted leveraged buyout of UAL collapsed and the Dow plunged 190 points (equal to 860 points today).

By a numerical oddity, the 13th of the month falls on a Friday more than any other day. In the last 400 years, we have had 690 Friday the Thirteenths.

One last note on Friday the 13th. Triskaidekaphobia is actually fear of the number 13. Fear of Friday the 13th is actually Friggatriskaidekaphobia but that sounds like something that would cause your mom to give you an oral rinse with Lifebuoy. So, Dr. Donald Dossey coined the term paraskevidekatriaphobia. He says that by the time you manage to pronounce it, your phobia’s gone.

If A Serious Emergency Happens While You’re At Work Make Sure You Have These Life Saving Supplies On Hand

SHTF Plan - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 14:36

This guide was originally published by Jeremiah Johnson at Tess Pennington’s ReadyNutrition.com

Have you made a big batch of pemmican for yourselves yet?  If so, then I commend you.  If not, then get on the stick!  The beef stick, that is, because pemmican is one of the foods that is perfect to carry around.  I know, I know, between bug-out bags, micro-tools, thermoses, and the likes of which I have been writing about recently…you need to be an octopus to be able to carry all of it.  It is better to have, as you well know, than not to have something.  Let’s talk about food in this regard.

The Secret to Survival is Prior Planning

Undoubtedly you have laid up a supply for yourselves and your families in your home and have some packed in your “go” bags.  We’ll now touch on a few other areas: in your workplace and on your person. Some preparedness and emergency items for the entire office are:

Talk to your supervisor about the existing emergency plan and find ways of improving it. You could even create a preparedness month where each coworker donates money to get the office prepped!

Ultimately, It’s About You!

If your workplace shrugs off your attempts to get them prepped, that shouldn’t stop you from getting some extra food and provisions for yourself in your workplace (and also carry a little on you at all times). Keep in mind, this is about giving yourself an “edge” and perhaps buying you some time in a sticky situation.

If you have a workplace locker (the best are those that lock), a basket/cubby space, or a shelf for your things, you can stock up a few cans of food and some essentials.  Why?  Because that is what preparation is all about: the “what-if’s” that may arise.  What if you cannot go outside to your vehicle to get your “go” bag?  There could be any number of reasons: severe flooding, rioting, extreme cold weather, among others.  You may have to make do with what you have on your person or in your workplace.

As well, make sure you have some clean athletic socks and walking shoes stored on you. As well, have some extra change on hand in case you need to get items from the vending machines (items like water, nuts, crackers, etc., will run out quickly in an emergency).

Your Personal Workplace Prepper Pantry

Even if you just have a bag that you stash under a table or in a back room, you can throw extra canned goods in there.  Here’s a sample of what to place in your bag or locker (with a locker, remember, you can probably put some more food in there):

  • (4) cans of food (preferably heat-and-eat prepared dinner-ravioli, soups, etc.)
  • (2) 20-ounce or 32-ounce bottle of water
  • (1) Ziploc sandwich bag of a snack (trail mix, pretzels, dried fruit, etc.)
  • (1) Ziploc bag of hard candies
  • (1) small bag of dried meat (jerky, pemmican, beef sticks, etc.)

That will get you started, but you don’t have to stop there. There are many types of disasters that could occur while you are at work. What happens if there is a fire and you need to escape? Or, in a worst case scenario, hazardous material has leaked into the air. Why not have a gas mask on hand? There are many gas masks that are compact and can fit inside your desk.

Remember, these items are for your personal space/storage space in your workplace.  If you have an office and a desk, all the better.  If the desk has any drawers that lock, then it’s optimal.  Remember this rule:

If it’s a time of trouble or scarcity, whatever you need will also be needed by others.

Sesame Street rules aside, you do not need to advertise that you have a stash of extra food in your office drawer or wall locker.  Keep your supplies in a nondescript gym bag or other non-transparent/non-translucent carrier.

Their need is not a justification for your sharing, nor their shortsightedness for your “help” regarding preparations. 

One way to circumvent this is to get coworkers involved in getting the workplace prepared for these types of emergencies and have them create their own personal workplace pantries.

So, we’ve addressed the workplace, and now how about on your person?  Why?  Because it gives you an edge.  I have written articles in the past on the value of cargo pants with cargo pockets.  Here I am, recommending them again.  I carry a small bag of peanut butter-filled pretzels in my cargo pocket, as well as a bag of jerky, and about half a dozen hard candies (I like those Jolly Rancher ones).  There’s a good reason for it.

What if you’re trapped in an elevator?  Or (as mentioned before) something goes wrong, such as a power outage that leaves you trapped for a while.  What then?  It is a proven fact that the intake of simple sugars helps the human body during times of stress or crisis.  In addition, it is a psychological support you’ll give to yourself to help you deal with all of it.  The protein in the jerky and the peanut butter is important; the necessity to replace protein can never be understated.

The hard candies give you some simple sugar to throw into your bloodstream, and keep the mouth from drying out.  As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, if you can’t drink, then do not eat anything.  You will deplete yourself further; you must drink in order to digest your food.  The difficulty this presents is obvious, because if you don’t tote around a water bottle all the time, you’ll have trouble finding water when the need arises.  So, tote it around!  Everybody walks around all the time with coffee cups and soda bottles, so it won’t look out of place for you to tote around a 20-ounce PowerAde bottle with water in it.

These are akin to “tiers” of response levels: 1st is what you have on you, 2nd in your work area/locker, and 3rd in your vehicle.

One more key point: All the stuff not on you becomes a cache point if you can’t reach it, and you can go for the stuff later on.

You may have to forgo getting food out of your locked desk drawer because 10 other people may see it.  Who’s going to think of going into your desk drawer for food unless you make them aware it’s there.  Practice OPSEC, and re-read the article I wrote on the Nosy Neighbors…the ones who will eat your food and maybe you along with it if their needs call for it.  Keep it to yourself.  It’s better to wait until everybody is out of the area, and then obtain your supplies from your locked and unknown (to your “buddies” at work) location.  Ounce of prevention, pound of cure.

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

This article first appeared at Tess Pennington’s Ready Nutrition.com.

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

The Story Of The Fed's Shrinking Balance Sheet Starts To Pick Up Speed

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 14:30

One of the bigger, if unde- reported, stories to emerge from the various Fed speakers yesterday, is that Fed members, if maybe not Yellen herself, are actively contemplating the reduction of the Fed's balance sheet, and whether credibly or not, it launched not one but two trial balloon efforts to give those traders who are paying attention advance notice. The first one was when Philly Fed's Harker said that when rates hit 1%, the Fed will "need to look at unwinding its balance sheet"; several hours later St. Louis Fed's Bullard added that a "balance sheet rolloff may be better than aggressive hiking."

Overnight, that theme was noticed by various sellside analysts, who are now making a Fed balance sheet rolloff their base case for 2017, most notably the head of rates strategy at RBC, Michael Cloherty, who in a note previewing the Fed's balance sheet over the next year, says that "the Fed's balance sheet will start shrinking in Q4 of this year. Fed Chairs usually like to get major initiatives under way before they leave, and Yellen is likely to feel more strongly about that because some potential successors have talked about a relatively disruptive balance sheet reduction "

Here is the rest from RBC's Cloherty, who appears more concerned with the impact of such a rolloff on the MBS market rather than TSYs. We disagree, but we'll cross that bridge when Yellen does suggest that balance sheet reduction is indeed what she is contemplating.

Fed balance sheet outlook

 

We think the Fed's balance sheet will start shrinking in Q4 of this year. Fed Chairs usually like to get major initiatives under way before they leave, and Yellen is likely to feel more strongly about that because some potential successors have talked about a relatively disruptive balance sheet reduction (sales).

 

The Fed will not sell. When the Fed was buying they targeted the issues investors most wanted to sell, so liquidity was sufficient to do large volumes every month. But if the Fed sold, they could only sell what they own. And they primarily own a mix of high WALA mortgage pools and deep off-the-run Treasuries, which have a very different liquidity profile.

 

Instead they will stop reinvestment and mature their portfolio away. We look for an extended taper lasting almost three quarters.

 

We think the decline in the balance sheet will be relatively modest. While it is extraordinarily difficult to predict demand for reserves for LCR purposes, our best guess (stress guess) is north of $1T. On the last day of 2016, reserve balances probably got close to $1.75T. For LCR, averages are irrelevant—since banks always need to meet the LCR standard, it is the extreme low points in liquid assets like reserves that matter for bank balance sheet planning.

 

With more than $100bn of reserves disappearing every year as reserves get converted to other Fed liabilities (currency, Treasury deposits, etc.), the annual low in reserves is likely to hit that $1T level about two years after the runoff begins (timing depends highly on MBS prepayment rates).

 

Each dollar of Treasuries that the Fed allows to run off will boost the Treasury's financing need by one dollar. But there is a supply scarcity in the bill sector that suggests that a meaningful portion of the additional financing will be in very low duration bills that will have little market impact. There will be some incremental supply out the curve (probably hitting more in 2019), but it is unlikely to be enough to cause a major change in rates or swap spreads. The only issue would be a possible curve steepener if the Treasury decided to use the increase in auction sizes to extend the average maturity of the debt. Until we know more about who will be in the relevant seats at the Treasury, it is premature to speculate on this.

 

Once reserve supply and demand is balanced, the Fed will continue to allow its MBS portfolio to decline as it tries to move back to an all-Treasury portfolio. Declines in MBS would drain reserves, so we think the Fed will need to start buying Treasuries in 2020 to offset the slide in MBS holdings.

 

That means that the duration shock to the Treasury market will be small and short lived, while the duration shock to the MBS market will be much larger. This leaves us thinking the Fed portfolio story is primarily an MBS spread story.

 

When prepayments accelerate, it will cause duration to move off the Fed balance sheet to the market. This means Fed runoff of MBS will have a stabilizing effect on the market — lower (higher) rates will cause increases (decreases) in prepayments that will force more (less) MBS duration to hit the market. However, there will be a lag before the securities leaving the Fed balance sheet will reappear in the market as new production.

DBRS Downgrades Italy, Stripping It Of Its Last "A Rating" And Raising ECB Collateral Haircuts

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 14:19

Update: sure enough, the Italian reaction didn't take long and as Bloomberg cited an Italian Treasury official, the decision won't impact the interest in Italian public debt. The "DBRS decision to downgrade Italy rating to BBB High from A Low could have impact on short-term debt, but that will be gauged only in coming months" and that the "rating change will not weigh significantly on cost of interests on Italy’s public debt."

* * *

When previewing the key events of the week, we noted that today Canadian DBRS rating agency is scheduled to review Italy's credit rating after putting its credit worthiness on negative watch on 5 August. On 5 December, DBRS issued a press release declaring that they would wait for the impact of the Italian referendum result on the continuation of the reform push before making the final decision.

In case of a downgrade, the haircut for a 5y BTP used as collateral for ECB operations, as an example, would rise from 2% to 10%.

Moments ago DBRS did just that when it downgraded italy from A (low) to BBB (high), stripping the sovereign of its final A credit rating.

The rating agency cited "a deterioration in the “Monetary Policy and Financial Stability” and the “Political Environment” sections were the key factors in the downgrade. The Stable trend reflects DBRS’s view that Italy’s challenges are commensurate with the BBB (high) ratings and are balanced by the country’s strong commitment to fiscal consolidation and evidence of some, albeit very modest, economic recovery."

It also warned that "if weaker political commitment to fiscal consolidation and the reform agenda or a significant downward revision to growth prospects were to materialize, further delaying a steady decline in the public debt-to-GDP ratio, this weakening could lead to a Negative trend."

The new interim government, although supported to some extent by the same majority as the Renzi government, may have less room to make progress with growth-enhancing measures, as it was formed with the main aim of facilitating parliamentary discussion on the electoral law before political elections scheduled to be held in 2018. Furthermore, the risk of an early election remains, especially after a decision is made by the Constitutional Court on the electoral law, expected in late January 2017. This decision could affect the duration of Prime Minister Gentiloni’s cabinet. Political parties could immediately put more pressure for snap elections in the first half of 2017, using the electoral law produced by the decision of the Court. This pressure would be expected to capitalise on the result obtained in the referendum in December 2016.

 

However, there is also a lack of clarity over the timing of elections. DBRS considers that the next election is unlikely to be held before Autumn 2017, as the parliamentary discussions on the electoral law are likely to take time. DBRS also considers that the next electoral law is likely to have a higher proportional characteristic, increasing the chances of having a coalition government of mainstream parties and lowering the electoral chances of Euro-sceptic parties. Nevertheless, support for the opposition parties could increase if economic conditions were to not improve, especially for the young and the long-term unemployed.

According to a separate estimate from Rabobank, the haircut on Italian bonds imposed by the ECB would rise from 1.5% to 9%, and lenders would need to post €6.7 billion more in government debt to access the same levels of loans. Cited by the FT, Richard McGuire at Rabobanks said that this is not “a huge amount” but would be another unwanted headache for a banking system which lumbers under the biggest bad loan pile in the eurozone and which faces a key test under the EU’s bailout rules in the coming weeks.

Earlier today, S&P said it does not see any impact on its ratings on Italian banks, should credit rating agency DBRS downgrade Italy in its planned review, although should Italy's borrowing costs jump as a result of the downgrade, it could lead to a feedback loop that ultimately does get the other rating agnecies involved.

We now look forward to the traditional Italian response, stating that all is well, and there is no reason to sell BTPs on the news.

Below is the full DBRS report.

DBRS Downgrades Italy to BBB (high), Stable Trend

DBRS Ratings Limited (DBRS) has today downgraded the Republic of Italy’s (Italy) Long-Term Foreign Currency - Issuer Rating and Long-Term Local Currency - Issuer Rating to BBB (high) with a Stable trend from A (low). At the same time, DBRS has confirmed the country’s Short-Term Foreign Currency - Issuer Rating and Short-Term Local Currency - Issuer Rating at R-1 (low) with a Stable Trend. This concludes the Under Review with Negative Implications for all ratings.

The rating action reflects a combination of factors including uncertainty over the political ability to sustain the structural reform effort and the continuing weakness in the banking system, amid a period of fragile growth. DBRS considers that, following the referendum rejecting constitutional changes that could have provided more government stability and the subsequent resignation of Prime Minister Renzi, the new interim government may have less room to pass additional measures, limiting the upside for economic prospects. Moreover, despite recent plans for banking support, the level of non-performing loans (NPLs) remains very high, affecting the banking sector’s ability to act as a financial intermediary to support the economy. In this context, low growth has resulted in lingering delays in the reduction of the very high public debt ratio, leaving the country more exposed to adverse shocks.

A deterioration in the “Monetary Policy and Financial Stability” and the “Political Environment” sections were the key factors in the downgrade. The Stable trend reflects DBRS’s view that Italy’s challenges are commensurate with the BBB (high) ratings and are balanced by the country’s strong commitment to fiscal consolidation and evidence of some, albeit very modest, economic recovery.

The new interim government, although supported to some extent by the same majority as the Renzi government, may have less room to make progress with growth-enhancing measures, as it was formed with the main aim of facilitating parliamentary discussion on the electoral law before political elections scheduled to be held in 2018. Furthermore, the risk of an early election remains, especially after a decision is made by the Constitutional Court on the electoral law, expected in late January 2017. This decision could affect the duration of Prime Minister Gentiloni’s cabinet. Political parties could immediately put more pressure for snap elections in the first half of 2017, using the electoral law produced by the decision of the Court. This pressure would be expected to capitalise on the result obtained in the referendum in December 2016.

However, there is also a lack of clarity over the timing of elections. DBRS considers that the next election is unlikely to be held before Autumn 2017, as the parliamentary discussions on the electoral law are likely to take time. DBRS also considers that the next electoral law is likely to have a higher proportional characteristic, increasing the chances of having a coalition government of mainstream parties and lowering the electoral chances of Euro-sceptic parties. Nevertheless, support for the opposition parties could increase if economic conditions were to not improve, especially for the young and the long-term unemployed.

Despite a slight decline in the stock of impaired assets since December 2015, uncertainty regarding the asset quality of the banking system continues to affect both investor appetite for bank capital and the ability of banks to act as a financial intermediary to support the economy via the credit channel. Although the Italian government has implemented several measures to facilitate the disposal of NPLs, these have so far had limited effectiveness and the weakness in the banking sector remains a factor in the rating. Moreover, while the decision to set up a Fund of EUR 20 billion (1.2% of GDP) to support ailing banks is a good start, it does not completely remove uncertainty about the vulnerability of the Italian banking system, nor does it clearly pave the way for a significant reduction in the high level of NPLs.

Over the last decade, Italy’s economic growth has been generally flat and lower than the euro area average. Growth potential remains weak. The need to improve growth performance is a fundamental challenge that affects the country’s ratings. Total factor productivity growth has been fragile and corporate profits have been weak. Feeble growth and weak competitiveness are likely the result of the low productivity of labour and capital, low employment rates and low investment in education and research & development.

The elevated level of public-debt-to-GDP continues to limit fiscal flexibility and hamper economic activity. Since 2008, government debt has continued to rise each year. In accordance with the Draft Budgetary Plan, the government projects a reduction of public debt in 2017, but following its decision to support banks, public debt could breach 133.0% of GDP instead of declining to 132.6%. This will likely further postpone the decline by one year to 2018. This high debt level makes the country more exposed to shocks.

Italy’s BBB (high) ratings are underpinned by the government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation, as reflected in a relatively good budgetary position compared with its euro area peers. Italy also benefits from demonstrated debt-servicing flexibility, relatively low private sector debt, a well-financed pension system and a large and diversified economy.

Italy’s credit profile is also supported by progress in fiscal consolidation achieved since 2009. According to the government, the budget deficit is expected to continue declining in 2017 to 2.3% of GDP, the lowest level in ten years.

Moreover, Italy continues to benefit from a significant improvement in funding conditions since the end of 2012, supported by measures taken by the ECB. Yields on ten-year Italian sovereign bonds, despite a slight increase in past weeks, continue to remain below 2%. Italy has also demonstrated debt-servicing flexibility during the crisis by maintaining a strong domestic investor base, which held 66.6% of government debt in September 2016 compared with 56.7% in 2010. At the same time, the average maturity of government debt has remained moderately high at 6.76 years.

Also underpinning the rating is Italy’s large and diversified economy. Importantly, this economy has generated a current account surplus since 2013, which amounted to 2.7% of GDP in October 2016. An important feature of the economy is that private debt (117% of GDP in 2015) is among the lowest in advanced countries and compares favourably with the European peer average (148% of GDP).

RATING DRIVERS

If weaker political commitment to fiscal consolidation and the reform agenda or a significant downward revision to growth prospects were to materialize, further delaying a steady decline in the public debt-to-GDP ratio, this weakening could lead to a Negative trend. On the other hand, progress on the fiscal side that was leading to a significant reduction in the debt-to-GDP ratio combined with the emergence of a strong structural reform effort and/or the occurrence of a meaningful improvement in banking sector credit quality, this would likely lead to a Positive trend.

Rig Count Unexpectedly Declines Following Biggest Crude Production Surge In 20 Months

Zerohedge - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 14:05

Following the biggest jump in US crude production since May 2015, the US oil rig count trend continues to point to further rises in production.

 

However, the US oil rig count tumbled most since June (-7 to 522) in the latest week.

This is the fiurst drop in rig counts in 14 weeks.

The Establishment Is Trying To Steal The Presidency From Trump — Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 14:01

The Establishment Is Trying To Steal The Presidency From Trump
And the Liberal-Left Is Helping

Paul Craig Roberts

Reuters reports that 2,700 US troops accompanied by tanks are moving across Poland toward the Russian border. Col. Christopher Norrie, commander of the 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, declared: “The main goal of our mission is deterrence and prevention of threats.” Apparently, the colonel is not sufficiently bright to realize that far from preventing threats, the force he is leading presents as a threat. And to no less a military power than Russia.

What is the point of this miniscule force? It woud not constitute a threat to Russia if it were 100 times larger, perhaps even one thousand times larger. Remember, Hitler invaded Russia against an unprepared Stalin with the largest and best military force the world had ever seen in the largest military operation in human history. The German invasion force was comprised of 3,800,000 troops, 600,000 motorized vehicles, 3,350 tanks, 7,200 artillery pieces, and 2,770 aircraft. The Red Army, despite its officer corps having been purged by Stalin, ate up this magnificient force and won the war against Germany.

Compared to Stalin’s Russia, Putin’s Russia is prepared. NATO is not capable of assemblying a large enough force to invade Russia. So what is the point of the 2,700 US troops moving across Poland toward Russia?

The answer is to keep alive the Western propaganda that Russia is a threat and to make it as
difficult as possible for Trump to normalize relations with Russia. It is extraordinary that the US military is conducting this provocative exercise that contradicts the policy of the incoming president. The US military, the CIA, and their whores in the US media are undemocratically pursuing their own agenda independently of the policy of the president-elect. According to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, US intelligence officials have even warned the Israeli government not to share intelligence information with the Trump administration, because Putin has “leverages of pressure” over Trump and Trump will leak the information to Russia and Iran. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.764711

We can see how the military/security complex’s sabotage of Trump’s policy works. Constant accusations have forced Trump to say that possibly the Russians were involved in a hacking that never occured, neither by Russia nor anyone else. Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Tillerson, has to declare Russia to be a threat in his confirmation hearing in order to be confirmed. Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Mattis, has had to say in his confirmation hearing that the US needs to be prepared to confront Russia militarily, adding that there are few areas in which the US can cooperate with Russia which he says is trying to break NATO.

We could dismiss Trump’s admission as throwing a bone to the CIA so they can feel vindicated and get off his back, and the statements by Tillerson and Mattis could be dismissed as what has to be said in order to be confirmed. Nevertheless, these statements from Trump’s top appointments are being used as confirmations that everyone except Trump, even Trump’s own government, realize that Russia is a threat. The propaganda picture of Russia that the Obama regime worked so hard to create now has the luster of acceptance by Trump’s nominees for State and Defense. Whether Tillerson and Mattis mean it or not, clearly the US Congress in thrall to the campaign donations from the military/security complex is determined that Russia be regarded as a threat.

The Russians watching all this must quickly be losing their hopes for normalized relations. The US ruling establishment is causing hope to fade and suspicion to rise in the Russian government, thus raising barriers within Russia herself to Trump’s policy of better relations.

Nothing speaks more clearly of the unbridled evil of the US Establishment than its willingness to
risk conflict with Russia for the sake of its hold on power and profit.

Where is the liberal-left’s moral conscience? Why is the liberal-left helping the military/security complex delegitimize Trump and box him in so that his agenda is dead on arrival and thermo-nuclear war remains an option?

The post The Establishment Is Trying To Steal The Presidency From Trump — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Cruelty With Purpose

Capitalist Exploits - Fri, 01/13/2017 - 14:00

Welcome to 2017! I don’t know about you but when I went to bed on New Year’s eve and woke the next morning it all looked eerily familiar. In any event, I’m told that holidays are a good time to relax, which could be true. I’ve never tried it. Instead, my lovely wife and I […]

The post Cruelty With Purpose appeared first on Capitalist Exploits.

Pages

Subscribe to No Time 4 Bull aggregator

Join Forum

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.

Best of the Web