The Census Bureau released its quarterly update on residential vacancies and homeownership for Q1 which is closely watched for its update of how many Americans own versus rent. It shows that following a modest pickup in the homeownership rate in the prior two quarters, US homeowners once again posted a substantial decline, sliding from 63.8% to 63.5%, and just 0.1% higher than the 50 year low reported in Q2 2015.
And perhaps logically, while homeownership continues to stagnate, the number of renters has continued to soar. In fact, in the first quarter, the number of renter occupied houses rose by precisely double the amount, or 360,000, as the number of owner occupied houses, which was a modest increase of 180,000. This brings the total number of renter houses to 42.85 million while the number of homeowners is virtually unchanged at 74.66 million.
A stark representation of the divergence between renters and owners can be seen in the chart below. It shows that over the past decade, virtually all the housing growth has come thanks to renters while the number of homeowners hasn't budged even a fraction and has in fact declined in absolute numbers. What is obvious is that around the time the housing bubble burst, many Americans appear to have lost faith in homeownership and decided to become renters instead.
An immediate consequence of the above is that as demand for rental units has soared, so have median asking rents, and sure enough, according to Census, in Q1 the median asking rent at the national level soared to an all time high $870.
Which brings us to the one chart showing where the "missing" runaway inflation in the US is hiding: if one shows the annual increase in asking rents, what one gets is the following stunning chart which shows that while rent inflation had been roughly in the 1-2% corridor for two decades, starting in 2013 something snapped, and rent inflation for some 43 million Americans has exploded and is currently printing at a blended four quarter average rate of just over 8%, the highest on record, and 4 times higher than Yellen's inflationary target.
So the next time Janet Yellen laments the collapse of inflation, feel free to show her this chart which even she can easily recreate using the government's own data (the sad reality is that rents are rising even faster than what the governmet repoirts) at the following link.
And just like that the "no brainer" party's over. Remember when in January 2014 Carl Icahn laid out his extensive thesis on why being long AAPL is the best investment out there? Or when a little over a year later, hoping for even more stock buybacks (even as he was decrying short term activism) he boosted his price target on AAPL to $240?
All that is now over.
Speaking during a CNBC interview, Carl Icahn admitted the ultimate "no brainer" is no longer a holding of his:
- ICAHN TELLS CNBC HE'S EXITED APPLE POSITION
And so, two years after his "buy buy buy" pitch, and with AAPL stock less than half of his so-called price target but with , the billionaire has pulled the plug, after pushing up the company's debt from $35 billion to just shy of $80 billion.
The market is not happy.
But don't cry for Icahn. With a cost basis of $68, he still made hundreds of millions.
What we would like to know is which hedge fund will sell next. As a reminder, there are many candidates...
Yes we know "Facebook crushed expectations" but...
US Macro data just suffered its worst two-week streak of weakness and disappointment in 14 months... And earnings expectations 'dead-cat-bounce' has died.
With The Fed leaning hawkish, The ECB having shot their wad, and The BoJ failing to surprise - what is holding stocks up here (apart from buybacks?)
2p ET Thursday, April 28, 2016
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission will not answer questions arising from Deutsche Bank's reported agreement to pay damages for and implicate other banks in the manipulation of the gold and silver markets, a commission spokesman said today.
Last week your secretary/treasurer put to the commission three questions about the development with Deutsche Bank:
-- Does the commission have any reaction to Deutsche Bank's admission to manipulating the gold and silver markets?
-- Is the commission responding to Deutsche Bank's admission in any way?
-- In September 2013 the commission reported that it had been investigating the silver market for five years and had found nothing improper. In light of the development with Deutsche Bank, is the commission reconsidering that conclusion?
... Dispatch continues below ...
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Today's "no comment" from the commission spokesman also covered an additional question put to the commission today. Today's question noted that after your secretary/treasurer reported to you, in a dispatch on April 23, his inquiries to the commission --
-- a GATA supporter asserted to your secretary/treasurer that soon after the announcement of Deutsche Bank's plan to settle the market-rigging lawsuit, he reached a market surveillance official for the commission and this official said the commission was very much aware of the development with Deutsche Bank. Such an admission by a CFTC market surveillance official would contradict the impression the CFTC spokesman gave to your secretary/treasurer a week ago, conveyed in the April 23 dispatch -- that the commission had not been aware of the development with Deutsche Bank until GATA inquired.
So today's rejected question was: Prior to GATA's inquiry to the CFTC, was a market surveillance official for the commission contacted about the Deutsche Bank development and did he confirm that the commission was aware of it?
Since the CFTC's annual budget is around $250 million, these refusals to comment about or even acknowledge awareness of reports of commodity market rigging could seem a bit overpriced.
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
* * *
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It occurred to me this morning that there’s at least a 99% chance that you and I have never met.
We’ve had some absolutely spectacular events all over the world where we’ve been joined by giants like Ron Paul, Jim Rogers, Robert Kiyosaki, Marc Faber, and many more.
But even better, these events have given me the opportunity to meet thousands of our readers.
Sovereign Man readers are some of the most interesting people in the world. People who truly care about freedom, peace, and prosperity.
But given the hundreds of thousands of people who have signed up for this daily letter over the years, I realize that I haven’t had the chance to get to know the vast majority of our readers.
So this morning I decided to record a short video from our offices in Santiago to give you a better idea about who we are and our fundamental ethos.
More importantly, I wanted to leave you with something valuable. So at the end of this video I discuss three very simple tactics that absolutely anyone can implement to dramatically reduce the risks that we face from out of control governments and an insolvent financial system.
Check it out:
The panic-buying continues in the crude complex. Oil prices are up for the 3rd day in a row, trading up to $46 for the first time since December 4th 2015. Despite continued growth in inventories and worse than expected economic growth, it appears speculative traders in black gold just can't get enough... Of course, as we just detailed, this merely accelerates the self-defeating re-birth of shale production as cash-flow desperation trumps rationality.
June crude is back at its highest sicne Dec 4th 2015... and above its 200dma...
The last time June crude was here, the rest of the curve was over $4 higher... think about what that says about the real confidence in this bounce...
Three days ago, Pioneer surprised oil market watchers when it not only said that it has already produced more oil than it had initially forecast, but that once crude returns to $50, all systems are go. This is what it said in its Q1 press release:
- producing 222 thousand barrels oil equivalent per day (MBOEPD), of which 55% was oil; production grew by 7 MBOEPD, or 3%, compared to the fourth quarter of 2015, and was significantly above Pioneer’s first quarter production guidance range of 211 MBOEPD to 216 MBOEPD; oil production grew 10 thousand barrels oil per day during the quarter, or 9%, compared to the fourth quarter;
- expecting to deliver production growth of 12%+ in 2016 compared to the Company’s previous production growth target of 10%; the higher forecasted growth rate reflects improving Spraberry/Wolfcamp well productivity;
- expecting to add five to ten horizontal drilling rigs when the price of oil recovers to approximately $50 per barrel and the outlook for oil supply/demand fundamentals is positive
Then yesterday it was another US shale giant to admit that $45 oil is good enough, and that it is "increasing its production forecast to a range of 131,400 BOE/d to 136,900 BOE/d" adding that "with the majority of completions scheduled for the second half of the year, the Company expects to realize the full production benefit in late 2016 and 2017."
It was not immediately clear if Pioneer and Whiting were restoring production due to recently implemented hedges. What is clear is that as the EIA reports, drilling costs have tumbled in recent years, which suggests that breakeven drilling prices have followed suit.
EIA report shows decline in cost of U.S. oil and gas wells since 2012
The profitability of oil and natural gas development activity depends on both the prices realized by producers and the cost and productivity of newly developed wells. Overall trends in well development costs are generally less transparent than price and productivity trends, which are readily observable in the markets or through analyses of well productivity trends such as EIA's monthly Drilling Productivity Report.
In an effort to increase understanding of the costs of upstream drilling and production activity, EIA commissioned IHS Global Inc. (IHS) to study these costs on a per-well basis in the Eagle Ford, Bakken, Marcellus, and Permian regions, analyzing the Permian's Midland and Delaware basins separately. Upstream costs in 2015 were 25% to 30% below their 2012 levels, when per-well costs were at their highest point over the past decade. Changes in technology have affected drilling efficiency and completion, supporting higher productivity per well and lowering costs, while shifts towards deeper and longer lateral wells with more complex completions have tended to increase costs.
Costs per well generally increased from 2006 to 2012, demonstrating the effect of rapid growth in drilling activity. Since 2012, costs per well have decreased because of reduced overall drilling activity and improved drilling efficiency and tools. Changes in costs and well parameters, such as the need to drill deeper or longer lateral wells, have affected the onshore oil plays differently in 2015, with recent per-well costs ranging from 7% to 22% below 2014 levels.
Differences in geology, well depth, and water disposal options can affect costs for each onshore oil play area. The adoption of best practices and the improvement of well designs have reduced drilling and completion times, decrease total well costs, and increase well performance. Greater standardization of these drilling and completion practices and designs across the industry should continue to lower costs. The drilling cost per foot, based on total depth, and the completion cost per foot, based on lateral length, are both projected to maintain these lower cost trends through 2018. Sustained lower upstream costs may affect near-term oil and natural gas markets, and ultimately, the prices of these fuels.
But going back to Pioneer's $50 oil price bogey, that is also what Bloomberg dubs oil's magic number becomes $50 a Barrel for Promise of Recovery. It notes that BP, Nabors and explorer Pioneer Natural Resources "all said in the past 24 hours that prices above $50 will encourage more drilling or provide the needed boost to cash flow."
BP said on its call earlier this week that next year it will be able to balance cash flow with shareholder payouts and capital spending at an oil price of $50 to $55 a barrel, down from a previous estimate of $60, the London-based explorer said. Pioneer expects to add as many as 10 horizontal drilling rigs when oil reaches $50 and the outlook for supply and demand of crude is positive, the company said Monday in its earnings statement.
Others agree that the closer we get to $50 oil, the more concerned Saudi Arabia will be that its plan to put US shale out of business is failing: at an average price of $53 per barrel of oil means the world’s 50 biggest publicly traded companies in the industry can stop bleeding cash, according to Wood Mackenzie. Nabors, which owns the world’s largest fleet of onshore drilling rigs, said it has already been talking with several large customers about plans to boost work in the second half of the year if prices rise "comfortably" above $50.
Incidentally, what is happening right now is a rerun of last summer when oil also tumbled then rebounded into the summer only to see shale production spike at whic point oil tumbled again.
As Bloomberg writes, "even talk of ramping up again is bringing a stinging reminder of last year’s failed attempt to restart activity too quickly after oil prices rose. We got out ahead of ourselves -- bit of a head fake there," Tony Petrello, chief executive at Nabors, told analysts and investors Tuesday on a conference call. "We’re going to be a little more guarded here."
Judging by the actions of Pioneer and Whiting that is hardly the case and as WTI rises above $46, the market is once again ahead of itself. Bloomberg concludes:
Exactly when oil prices hit that level and how long they need to stay there is a question no one can say for sure. Nabors said the activity could start up in the middle of the third quarter or into the final three months of this year. Continental estimated that supply and demand could be nearing balance later this year and be "absolutely in balance" or in need of more oil next year.
Actually we know "when" - it is right about now, as ConocoPhillips admitted just hours ago:
- CONOCOPHILLIPS CEO SAYS WITH OIL PRICES AT $45 PER BARREL, COULD KEEP PRODUCTION FLAT WITH CASH FLOW FROM OPERATIONS
And with every incremental dollar, the supply will only increase.
And just like that, they are tied. In the latest poll from Rasmussen Reports, a national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds Trump and Clinton tied at 38% each.
But 16% say they would vote for some other candidate if the presidential election comes down to those two, while six percent (6%) would stay home. Only two percent (2%) are undecided given those options.
This is a very different picture from the latest polls - pre-East Coast sweep...
Rasmussen adds Trump is more toxic within his own party than Clinton is in hers.
If Trump is the Republican nominee, 16% of GOP voters say they would choose a third-party candidate, while five percent (5%) would stay home. Sixty-six percent (66%) would vote for Trump, but 10% would vote for Clinton instead.
If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, 11% of Democrats would vote third-party, while three percent (3%) would stay home. Seventy-five percent (75%) would support the nominee, but 11% say they would vote for Trump.
Among voters not affiliated with either major party, nearly one-third say they would opt out: 21% would choose a candidate other than Trump or Clinton, and 10% would stay home. Trump leads Clinton 38% to 27% among unaffiliated voters.
Rasmussen concludes that nearly one-in-four voters say they will stay home or vote third party if Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the major party presidential candidates.
Despite speculation that Trump may have a problem with women voters, women and men are equally likely to say they would stay home or vote third party in the event of a Clinton-Trump race. Men prefer Trump by six points, while women give Clinton the edge by a similar margin.
Those under 40 are nearly twice as likely as older voters to say they would vote for some other candidate or stay home if Clinton and Trump are the major party nominees. Clinton leads among younger voters but loses to Trump among those 40 and over.
While Clinton has sizable leads over Trump among black and other minority voters, these voters are also more likely than whites to say they will stay home or vote for someone else. Trump leads among white voters.
The future of fast food service will involve much less human interaction.
Instead, humans will line up like rats to pellet dispenser, and computer screens will take orders, as the classic menial, entry-level job will gradually disappear along with many other jobs in the workforce.
Former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi, who headed the company during the 90s, blasted the push for a $15 minimum wage, which he argued, food companies won’t pay – they just won’t pay it.
And jobs will suffer because of it.
The company will admitted choose to cut jobs altogether, and phase in automated kiosks, rather than pay more in minimum wage. (Perhaps that was their plan all along, and the $15/hour minimum wage controversy is the perfect excuse to put it into action.)
via the Daily Mail:
A Former McDonald’s CEO has predicted that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour will cost people entry-level jobs.
In a column he wrote for Forbes, Ed Rensi says… “it will mean wiping out thousands of entry-level opportunities for people without many other options.’
Labor organizers have been demanding an increase in wages… Rather than raise prices, McDonalds is more likely to replace people with self-service computer kiosks so they do not have to pay the high wage. […] Over a million American youths may otherwise be out of a job.
‘You’ll see their legacy every time you visit the Golden Arches, where “would you like fries with that” is a button on a computer screen rather than a phrase spoken by an employee in their first job,’ he wrote.
Admittedly, McDonald’s has already cut thousands of jobs in Europe, where it put in more than 7,000 kiosks to take orders rather than pay wages.
And you can bet that there is much more of that sort of thing coming.
From the company perspective, it is obviously a matter of the bottom line. For society, it is an unfortunate perfect storm as automation alone is poised to destroy millions and millions of jobs.
The future just doesn’t need many burger-flippers and order takers – the computers do it much more efficiently and accurately, after all.
Could they cut money elsewhere – like from the salaries and bonuses of overpaid CEOs? Of course.
But that’s not the point, and it won’t make the difference. These companies simply don’t care… and the economics are against anyone caring ever again.
It is harsh, but true. Please brace yourself as best as you can for this looming change in our society.
As Zero Hedge reported, McDonald’s has already been rolling out test kiosks in Chicago, and as the above article noted, in Europe as well:
According to Brand Eating, fast food king McDonald’s has been spotted testing a self-serve McCafe coffee station/kiosk out in downtown Chicago. The station is located in the restaurant but apart from the counter and looks to be a theoretically more convenient way for those who just want a cup of coffee to skip the regular line (while also freeing employees from having to make each drink in the back)
In essence, this is the company’s latest venture to make employees responsible for one less task as corporate HQ slowly but surely responds to minimum wage hikes sweeping all states, and in the process, outsource its minimum wage workers to simple machines which will never unionize or have any demands aside from being cleaned occasionally.
That site, of the self-serving kiosk, is already familiar at many grocery stores and Wal-Marts, and will become a mainstay of the shopping experience in all sectors, along with driver-less cars, and somewhere, unrecognized by the media, an endless line of former middle class and working people desperate on food stamps and benefits.
It is all happening so fast… before we know it, it will have happened.
Where will everyone go? What will they do?
Wednesday’s FOMC release seemed to spark more buying acitivity from our clients as they took advantage of the lower pricing in advance of the FOMC statement. Clients have also been net selling their platinum positions to take advantage of the current platinum price which has risen to over USD1,030/oz this week.
GoldMoney’s clients have been in favour of the Hong Kong, Swiss, and Singapore vaults this week with more or less preference being shown toward the London and Canadian vaults.
Kelly-Ann Kearsey, Dealing Manager at GoldMoney said that throughout the week the gold prices have been regaining their losses from last Friday, where a low of roughly $1,230/oz was seen. Silver has remained relatively stable to start the week, sitting at around USD17.00/oz.
The market has been watching for the FOMC statement which was released on Wednesday evening. In the last update, they confirmed that rate decision was to remain unchanged as was expected. They have now dropped comments of concern for the surrounding global outlook and remained confident of the labour markets but did also acknowledge that economic growth seemed to have slowed. They will continue to monitor as inflation is still below the 2% target.
Aftrer the comments released by the FOMC, gold made a quick recovery as it moved back towards USD1,250/oz moving into USD1,260/oz throughout Thursday. Silver also received support as it jumped to its highest in almost 1 year as it was boosted to roughly USD17.30/oz which has then increased to a spot high of USD 17.45/oz throughout the day.
The US dollar was also affected as it drifted lower against major currencies which also provided more support for the gold pricing. US data for pending home sales also had no impact in strengthening the US Dollar. The Dollar was then seen losing more than 2% against the Yen, as the markets were surprised by the Bank of Japan keeping its monetary policy steady.
28/04/16 16:00. Gold gained 0.5% to $1,256.11, Silver jumped 1.6% to $17.33, Platinum increased 0.9% to $1,033.74 and Palladium gained 2.1% to $616.00 Gold/Silver ratio: 72
Notes to editor
For more information, and to arrange interviews, please contact Emily Cornelius, Communications & PR Tel: + 1 647 499 6748 or email: Emily.Cornelius@GoldMoney.com
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Each week, I make a few staples: sprouted hummus, yogurt, mayonnaise, and long-simmered bone broth and bread. It’s these staples that provide a dependable rhythm in my kitchen, around which I build our meals, a schedule, and a budget. This routine brings a bit of sanity and balance to what can, more often than not, be chaotic between satisfying everyone’s weekly schedule of appointments, sports, music classes, playdates and the unexpected.
Lately, this Milk and Honey Sandwich Bread has replaced our usual no-knead sourdough loaf. We toast it in the morning, then spread it with butter and honey and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar which we playfully call Fairy Toast. Or, I slice it thin, and slather it with avocado oil mayonnaise, stuffing it with fresh vegetables and sliced deli meats, making a sandwich for my son’s school day.
It’s a pleasant bread, offering a light milky, whole wheat flavor with notes of honey and oat. Out of the oven, its mahogany brown crust crackles, and when you slice the loaf, its crumb is soft and creamy. And while it’s a bit less spongy than the store-bought sandwich bread, I find the value in producing my own loaf at home to be far more satisfying and palatable.Soaking Flour for Better Bread
Soaking flour overnight in a liquid like water or milk does a few things to improve the quality of your bread. Soaking flour helps to release food enzymes naturally found in whole grains, and these food enzymes help to break down components of your whole grains, like food phytate, that can make grains, flours, and breads difficult to digest or lightly bitter.
The result is that, by soaking flour, you make bread that’s naturally slightly sweeter, that’s easier to digest, and softer in its crumb. It’s a process that takes a touch more planning, but it is very worthwhile.
Unlike white flour, for which it’s easily confused, white whole wheat flour is simply made by grinding the white wheat berries into flour. It’s the whole grain, nothing more and nothing less. White whole wheat flour is pale in color with a softer flavor, but with all the benefits you would associate with a whole wheat flour. For these reasons, it makes a particularly good choice for a homemade sandwich bread: light color, good flavor, and soft crumb with all the vitamins, minerals and fiber of whole grain.
You can learn more about baking with white whole wheat here.Identity-Preserved Flour
I know that many of you have concerns about wheat production in the United States. Perhaps you’re concerned about sustainability, regenerative farming practices or the overuse of pesticides and desiccating agents. I know that I certainly am. It’s easy, in the face of concerns like these, to throw up your hands in exasperation. For my part, I think it’s best to support those growers who are doing the right thing: growing with ethos grounded in transparency, sustainability and accountability.
This is one reason why I recently started working with King Arthur Flour, who is on the forefront of identity-preserved agriculture. I’ve often tucked away their flours in my pantry – pairing their wheat flours with other grains like einkorn, barley, and spelt.
It may not be a term you’re familiar with quite yet, but identity preservation helps to connect the food you place on your table directly with the field in which it was grown. Next to buying directly from a local farmer, buying identity preserved products gives you traceability from the field and farmer right down to your plate, and you can learn more about that process here.Where to Buy Identity Preserved White Whole Wheat Flour
You can buy identity-preserved white whole wheat flour here.
Milk and Honey Sandwich Bread Print Prep time 8 hours Cook time 50 mins Total time 8 hours 50 mins Serves: 2 loaves Ingredients Preparing the Dough
- 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour (available here)
- 3½ cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour (available here)
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ⅓ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- olive oil, for oiling the bowl
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons rolled oats
- Whisk flours together with ½ teaspoon instant yeast in a large mixing bowl with a tight-fitting lid (like this one), and then stir in the oats. Stir the water and milk together, then pour the liquids into the dry ingredients, stirring to create a loose, shaggy dough. Cover the mixing bowl tightly, and allow the dough to rest at room temperature at least eight and up to twelve hours.
- Dump the dough into the basin of a stand mixer (like this one), and then beat in the butter, honey, salt, and the remaining 2 tablespoons yeast. Continue beating all the ingredients together until they form a smooth dough, and then turn it out on a well-floured surface. Knead by hand for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
- Oil a large mixing bowl, and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover tightly, and allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume.
- Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface, and split into two portions of approximately equal weight. Butter and flour two 4½-inch by 8½-inch loaf pans.
- Working one at a time, roll each lump of dough out into a large rectangle, about 8 by 16 inches. Working from the short end, roll the dough into a loaf, pinching the seam at the bottom of the loaf tightly to seal it. Place the dough, seam-side down, in a prepared loaf pan. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel, and allow it to rise until doubled in size, about two hours.
- While the dough rises, heat the oven to 400 F.
- Using a pastry brush, gently brush the top of the dough with cream, and then scatter one tablespoon rolled oats over each loaf. Transfer the loaves to the oven, and bake 5 minutes at 400 F. Then reduce the temperature to 350 F and continue baking until the crust is a dark brown and the bread reaches an internal temperature of 200 F about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the loaves to cool in their pans for five minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, allowing the bread to cool completely before slicing.
From The Archive: MH-17
Paul Craig Roberts
Not long ago I wrote that every American institution, public and private, is corrupt. And every week Robert Parry’s reports prove the truth of my statement.
In his latest, http://www.globalresearch.ca/from-brady-to-mh-17-power-defines-reality/5522142 , Parry says that “Power – far more than fact – determines what is defined as true in America, a nation that has become dangerously disconnected from reality in matters both trivial and important.” To illustrate he uses the orchestrated “Deflategate” scandal and the orchestrated MH-17 storyline.
Parry reports how NFL team owners used NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to frame the New England Pariots and the team’s quarterback, Tom Brady. It is a scientific fact that cold air and moisture reduce a football’s internal air pressure. This scientific fact was ignored, and Brady was successfully smeared for running a scheme to slightly deflate footballs. He and the Patriots were sanctioned.
It was nearly three years ago that the Malaysian airliner MH-17 was shot down over the Ukraine. US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately declared that the US had complete proof that the Russians were involved. Kerry has never released the “proof,” which tells us that a US Secretary of State again lied to the world.
The black boxes were recovered undamaged: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/mh17-crash-black-boxes-show-plane-suffered-massive-explosive-decompression-following-shrapnel-hit-9632881.html However, the investigation was taken out of the hands of the indepenent international body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and given, at Washington’s insistance, to the Dutch, with the rationale that so many of the victims were Dutch.
The real reason is that it is easy for Washington to control the Dutch. After three years there is still no conclusive report. During this time Washington has succeeded via propaganda in placing the blame on the Russian separatists and Putin.
I addressed the issue contemporaneously:
July 19, 2014
What Happened to the Malaysian Airliner?
Paul Craig Roberts
Washington’s propaganda machine is in such high gear that we are in danger of losing the facts that we do have.
One fact is that the separatists do not have the expensive Buk anti-aircraft missile system or the trained personnel to operate it.
Another fact is that the separatists have no incentive to shoot down an airliner and neither does Russia. Anyone can tell the difference between low-flying attack aircraft and an airliner at 33,000 feet.
The Ukrainians do have Buk anti-aircraft missile systems, and a Buk battery was operational in the region and deployed at a site from which it could have fired a missile at the airliner.
Just as the separatists and the Russian government have no incentive to shoot down an airliner, neither does the Ukrainian government nor, one would think, even the crazed extreme Ukrainian nationalists who have formed militias to take the fight against the separatists that the Ukrainian army is not keen to undertake–unless there was a plan to frame Russia.
One Russian general familiar with the weapon system offered his opinion that it was a mistake made by the Ukrainian military untrained in the weapon’s use. The general said that although Ukraine has a few of the weapons, Ukrainians have had no training in their use in the 23 years since Ukraine separated from Russia. The general thinks it was an accident due to incompetence.
This explanation makes a certain amount of sense and far more sense than Washington’s propaganda. The problem with the general’s explanation is that it does not explain why the Buk anti-aircraft missile system was deployed near or in a separatist territory. The separatists have no aircraft. It seems odd for Ukraine to have an expensive missile system in an area in which it is of no military use and where the position could be overrun and captured by separatists.
As Washington, Kiev, and the presstitute media are committed to the propaganda that Putin did it, we are not going to get any reliable information from the US media. We will have to figure it out for ourselves.
One way to begin is to ask: Why was the missile system where it was? Why risk an expensive missile system by deploying it in a conflict environment in which it is of no use? Incompetence is one answer, and another is that the missile system did have an intended use.
What intended use? News reports and circumstantial evidence provide two answers. One is that the ultra-nationalist extremists intended to bring down Putin’s presidential airliner and confused the Malaysian airliner with the Russian airliner.
The Interfax news agency citing anonymous sources, apparently air traffic controllers, reported that the Malaysian airliner and Putin’s airliner were traveling almost the identical route within a few minutes of one another. Interfax quotes its source: “I can say that Putin’s plane and the Malaysian Boeing intersected at the same point and the same echelon. That was close to Warsaw on 330-m echelon at the height of 10,100 meters. The presidential jet was there at 16:21 Moscow time and the Malaysian aircraft at 15:44 Moscow time. The contours of the aircrafts are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the coloring, at a quite remote distance they are almost identical.”
I have not seen an official Russian denial, but according to news reports, the Russian government in response to the Interfax news report said that Putin’s presidential plane no longer flies the Ukraine route since the outbreak of hostilities.
Before we take the denial at face value, we need to be aware that the implication that Ukraine attempted to assassinate the president of Russia implies war, which Russia wants to avoid. It also implies Washington’s complicity as it is highly unlikely that Washington’s puppet in Kiev would risk such a dangerous act without Washington’s backing. The Russian government, being intelligent and rational, would obviously deny reports of an attempted assassination of the Russian president by Washington and its Kiev puppet. Otherwise, Russia has to do something about it, and that means war.
The second explanation is that the extremists who operate outside the official Ukrainian military, hatched a plot to down an airliner in order to cast the blame on Russia. If such a plot occurred, it likely originated with the CIA or some operative arm of Washington and was intended to force the EU to cease resisting Washington’s sanctions against Russia and to break off Europe’s valuable economic relationships with Russia. Washington is frustrated that its sanctions are unilateral, unsupported by its NATO puppets or any other countries in the world except possibly the lap-dog British PM.
There is considerable circumstantial evidence in support of this second explanation. There is the youtube video which purports to be a conversation between a Russian general and separatists who are discussing having mistakenly brought down a civilian airliner. According to reports, expert examination of the code in the video reveal that it was made the day before the airliner was hit.
Another problem with the video is that whereas we could say that separatists conceivably could confuse an airliner at 33,000 feet with a military attack plane, the Russian military would not. The only conclusion is that by involving the Russian military, the video doubly discredited itself.
The circumstantial evidence easiest for non-technical people to understand is the on cue news programs organized to put the blame on Russia prior to the knowledge of any facts.
In my previous article http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/07/17/sanctions-airliners-paul-craig-roberts/ I reported on the BBC news report which I heard and which was obviously primed to place all blame on Russia. The program ended with a BBC correspondent breathlessly reporting that he has just seen the youtube video and that the video is the smoking gun that proved Russia did it. There is no longer any doubt, he said. Somehow the information got on a video and on youtube before it reached the Ukrainian government or Washington.
The evidence that Putin did it is a video made prior to the attack on the airliner. The entire BBC report aired over National Public Radio was orchestrated for the sole purpose of establishing prior to any evidence that Russia was responsible.
Indeed the entire Western media spoke as one: Russia did it. And the presstitutes are still speaking the same way.
Possibly, this uniform opinion merely reflects the pavlovian training of the Western media to automatically line up with Washington. No media source wants to be subject to criticism for being unamerican or to find itself isolated by majority opinion, which carries the day, and earn black marks for being wrong. As a former journalist for, and contributor to, America’s most important news publications, I know how this works.
On the other hand, if we discount the pavlovian conditioning, the only conclusion is that the entire news cycle pertaining to the downing of the Malaysian airliner is orchestrated in order to lay the blame on Putin.
Romesh Ratnesar, deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek, provides convincing evidence for orchestration in his own remarks of July 17. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-17/the-malaysia-airlines-shootdown-spells-disaster-for-putin?campaign_id=DN071814 Ratnesar’s opinion title is: “The Malaysia Airlines Shootdown Spells Disaster for Putin.”
Ratnesar does not mean that Putin is being framed-up. He means that prior to Putin having the Malaysian airliner shot down, “to the vast majority of Americans, Russia’s meddling in Ukraine has largely seemed of peripheral importance to U.S. interests. That calculus has changed. . . . It may take months, even years, but Putin’s recklessness is bound to catch up to him. When it does, the downing of MH 17 may be seen as the beginning of his undoing.”
As a former Wall Street Journal editor, anyone who handed me propaganda like Ratnesar published would have been fired. Look at the insinuations when there is no evidence to support them. Look at the lie that Washington’s coup is “Russia’s meddling in Ukraine.” What we are witnessing is the total corruption of Western journalism by Washington’s imperial agenda. Journalists have to get on board with the lies or get run over.
Look around for still honest journalists. Who are they? Glenn Greenwald, who is under constant attack by his fellow journalists, all of whom are whores. Who else can you think of? Julian Assange, locked away in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London on Washington’s orders. The British puppet government won’t permit free transit to Assange to take up his asylum in Ecuador. The last country that did this was the Soviet Union, which required its Hungarian puppet to keep Cardinal Mindszenty interred in the US Embassy in Budapest for 15 years from 1956 until 1971. Mindszenty was granted political asylum by the United States, but Hungary, on Soviet orders, would not honor his asylum, just as Washington’s British puppet, on Washington’s orders, will not honor Assange’s asylum.
If we are honest and have the strength to face reality, we will realize that the Soviet Union did not collapse. It simply moved, along with Mao and Pol Pot, to Washington and London.
The flaw in Putin’s diplomacy is that Putin’s diplomacy relies on good will and on truth prevailing. However, the West has no good will, and Washington is not interested in truth prevailing but in Washington prevailing. What Putin confronts is not reasonable “partners,” but a propaganda ministry aimed at him.
I understand Putin’s strategy, which contrasts Russian reasonableness with Washington’s threats, but it is a risky bet. Europe has long been a part of Washington, and there are no Europeans in power who have the vision needed to separate Europe from Washington. Moreover, European leaders are paid large sums of money to serve Washington. One year out of office and Tony Blair was worth $50 million dollars.
After the disasters that Europeans have experienced, it is unlikely that European leaders think of anything other than a comfortable existence for themselves. That existence is best obtained by serving Washington. As the successful extortion of Greece by banks proves, European people are powerless.
Here is the official statement of the Russian Defense Ministry: http://www.globalresearch.ca/mh-17-crash-in-ukraine-official-statement-from-russian-defense-ministry/5392000
Washington’s propaganda assault against Russia is a double tragedy, because it has diverted attention from Israel’s latest atrocity against the Palestinians locked up in the Gaza Ghetto. Israel claims that its air attack and invasion of Gaza is merely Israel’s attempt to find and close the alleged tunnels through which Palestinian terrorists pour into Israel inflicting carnage. One might think that at least one journalist somewhere in the American media would ask why bombing hospitals and civilian housing closes underground tunnels into Israel. But that is too much to ask of the whores that comprise the US media.
Expect even less from the US Congress. Both the House and Senate have passed resolutions supporting Israel’s slaughter of Palestinians. Two Republicans–the warmonger Lindsey Graham and the disappointing Rand Paul–and two democrats–Bob Menendez and Ben Cardin–sponsored the Senate resolution backing Israel’s premeditated murder of Palestinian women and children. The resolution passed the “exceptional and indispensable” people’s Senate unanimously.
As a reward for its policy of genocide, the Obama regime is immediately transferring $429 million of US taxpayers’ money to Israel to pay for the slaughter.
Contrast the US government’s support for Israel’s war crimes with the propaganda onslaught against Russia based on lies. We are living all over again “Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction,” “Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” “Iranian nukes.”
Washington has lied for so long that it can’t do anything else.
I followed up two days later:
July 21, 2014
Guilt By Insinuation
How American propaganda works
Paul Craig Roberts
Why hasn’t Washington joined Russian President Putin in calling for an objective, non-politicized international investigation by experts of the case of the Malaysian jetliner?
The Russian government continues to release facts, including satellite photos showing the presence of Ukrainian Buk anti-aircraft missiles in locations from which the airliner could have been brought down by the missile system and documentation that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet rapidly approached the Malaysian airliner prior to its downing. The head of the Operations Directorate of Russian military headquarters said at a Moscow press conference today (July 21) that the presence of the Ukrainian military jet is confirmed by the Rostov monitoring center.
The Russian Defense Ministry pointed out that at the moment of destruction of MH-17 an American satellite was flying over the area. The Russian government urges Washington to make available the photos and data captured by the satellite.
President Putin has repeatedly stressed that the investigation of MH-17 requires “a fully representative group of experts to be working at the site under the guidance of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).” Putin’s call for an independent expert examination by ICAO does not sound like a person with anything to hide.
Turning to Washington Putin stated: “In the meantime, no one [not even the “exceptional nation”] has the right to use this tragedy to achieve their narrowly selfish political goals.”
Putin reminded Washington: “We repeatedly called upon all conflicting sides to stop the bloodshed immediately and to sit down at the negotiating table. I can say with confidence that if military operations were not resumed [by Kiev] on June 28 in eastern Ukraine, this tragedy wouldn’t have happened.”
What is the American response?
Lies and insinuations.
Yesterday (July 20) the US Secretary of State, John Kerry confirmed that pro-Russian separatists were involved in the downing of the Malaysian airliner and said that it was “pretty clear” that Russia was involved. Here are Kerry’s words: “It’s pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia into the hands of separatists. We know with confidence, with confidence, that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point and time, so it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists.”
Kerry’s statement is just another of the endless lies told by US secretaries of state in the 21st century. Who can forget Colin Powell’s package of lies delivered to the UN about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” or Kerry’s lie repeated endlessly that Assad “used chemical weapons against his own people” or the endless lies about “Iranian nukes”?
Remember that Kerry on a number of occasions stated that the US had proof that Assad crossed the “red line” by using chemical weapons. However, Kerry was never able to back up his statements with evidence. The US had no evidence to give the British prime minister whose effort to have Parliament approve Britain’s participation with Washington in a military attack on Syria was voted down. Parliament told the prime minister, “no evidence, no war.”
Again here is Kerry declaring “confidence” in statements that are directly contradicted by the Russian satellite photos and endless eye witnesses on the ground.
Why doesn’t Washington release its photos from its satellite?
The answer is for the same reason that Washington will not release the videos it confiscated and that it claims prove that a hijacked 9/11 airliner hit the Pentagon. The videos do not support Washington’s claim, and the US satellite photos do not support Kerry’s claim.
The UN weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq reported that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. However, the fact did not support Washington’s propaganda and was ignored. Washington started a highly destructive war based on nothing but Washington’s intentional lie.
The International Atomic Energy Commission’s inspectors on the ground in Iran and all 16 US intelligence agencies reported that Iran had no nuclear weapons program. However, the fact was inconsistent with Washington’s agenda and was ignored by both the US government and the presstitute media.
We are witnessing the same thing right now with the assertions in the absence of evidence that Russia is responsible for the downing of the Malaysian airliner.
Not every member of the US government is as reckless as Kerry and John McCain. In place of direct lies, many US officials use insinuations. US Senator Diane Feinstein is the perfect example. Interviewed on the presstitute TV station CNN, Feinstein said: “The issue is where is Putin? I would say, ‘Putin, you have to man up. You should talk to the world. You should say, if this is a mistake, which I hope it was, say it.’”
Putin has been talking to the world nonstop calling for an expert non-politicized investigation, and Feinstein is asking Putin why he is hiding behind silence. We know you did it, Feinstein insinuates, so just tell us whether you meant to or whether it was an accident.
The way the entire Western news cycle was orchestrated with blame instantly being placed on Russia long in advance of real information suggests that the downing of the airliner was a Washington operation. It is, of course, possible that the well-trained presstitute media needed no orchestration from Washington in order to lay the blame on Russia. On the other hand, some of the news performances seem too scripted not to have been prepared in advance.
We also have the advanced preparation of the youtube video that purports to show a Russian general and Ukrainian separatists discussing having mistakenly downed a civilian airliner. As I pointed out earlier, this video is twice damned. It was ready in advance and by implicating the Russian military, it overlooked that the Russian military can tell the difference between a civilian airliner and a military airplane. The existence of the video itself implies that there was a plot to down the airliner and blame Russia.
I have seen reports that the Russian anti-aircraft missile system, as a safety device, is capable of contacting aircraft transponders in order to verify the type of aircraft. If the reports are correct, the transponders from MH-17 might record the contact.
I have seen reports that Ukrainian air control changed the route of MH-17 and directed it to fly over the conflict area. The transponders should also indicate whether this is correct. If so, there clearly is at least circumstantial evidence that this was an intentional act on the part of Kiev, an act which would have required Washington’s blessing.
There are other reports that there is a divergence between the Ukrainian military and the unofficial militias formed by the right-wing Ukrainian extremists who apparently were the first to attack the separatists. It is possible that Washington used the extremists to plot the airliner’s destruction in order to blame Russia and use the accusations to pressure the EU to go along with Washington’s unilateral sanctions against Russia. We do know that Washington is desperate to break up the growing economic and political ties between Russia and Europe.
If it was a plot to down an airliner, any safety device on the missile system could have been turned off so as to give no warning or leave any telltale sign. That could be the reason a Ukrainian fighter was sent to inspect the airliner. Possibly the real target was Putin’s airliner and incompetence in implementing the plot resulted in the destruction of a civilian airliner.
As there are a number of possible explanations, let’s keep open minds and resist Washington’s propaganda until facts and evidence are in. In the very least Washington is guilty of using the incident to blame Russia in advance of the evidence. All Washington has shown us so far are accusations and insinuations. If that is all Washington continues to show us, we will know where the blame resides.
In the meantime, remember the story of the boy who cried “wolf!” He lied so many times that when the wolf did come, no one believed him. Will this be Washington’s ultimate fate?
Instead of declaring war on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and Syria, why did Washington hide behind lies? If Washington wants war with Iran, Russia, and China, why not simply declare war? The reason that the US Constitution requires war to begin with a declaration of war by Congress is to prevent the executive branch from orchestrating wars in order to further hidden agendas. By abdicating its constitutional responsibility, the US Congress is complicit in the executive branch’s war crimes. By approving Israel’s premeditated murder of Palestinians, the US government is complicit in Israel’s war crimes.
Ask yourself this question: Would the world be a safer place with less death, destruction and displaced peoples and more truth and justice if the United States and Israel did not exist?
Two days later I followed up again
July 23, 2014
US Intelligence: Russia Didn’t Do It
Paul Craig Roberts
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com Dear CIGAs, Economist John Williams has long predicted the $16 trillion in U.S. dollar assets held outside of America will be sold in a panic. The time draws near for that scenario to unfold, and Williams explains, “When people start selling the dollar, or dollar denominated assets, you will see the... Read more »
In what should be no surprise to anyone here, the first guesstimate of Q1 GDP came in at just +0.5%. In what should also be no surprise, this headline was used as cover to press metals prices lower.
As reported moments ago, Q1 GDP which came at just 0.5% growth, was a lousy number in which virtually every component besides personal spending (and government) subtracted from growth. In fact, in nominal terms, Q1 GDP grew only $22.2 billion annualized, of which personal consumption was more than double, or $52.5 billion.
But what did Americans spend money on in Q1? To our surprise, Healthcare, Obamacare was no longer what soaked up most Americans' cash in the first quarter (nonetheless, it was a runner up with $10.8 billion in spending).
So what did they spend the most amount of money on? The answer, drumroll.... Recreational goods and vehicles. Not cars, which actually were a huge negative to Q1 GDP growth, reducing the headline consumption number by $13.4 billion nominal, but recreational vehicles, and other sundry related goods, which amounted to to $11.3 billion in Q1 spending.
It appears that after spending record amounts of money on their health insurance premiums, US consumers just can't get enough of various "recreational" distractions such as RVs, ATVs and jet skis, and have made "recreation" the biggest source of growth in the US economy. Incidentally, net of other items, the entire Q1 GDP growth was covered solely by spending on Healthcare and Recreational goods and vehicles.
Summarizing the Obama economy: health insurance and jet skis, for waiters and bartenders.
Here is the full breakdown.
This article was written by Charles Hugh Smith and originally published at his Of Two Minds blog.
Editor’s Comment: This goes beyond the wealth gap and the 1%. If this is how clueless, and ultimately helpless, the well-off can be, it suggests that the rest of us are just as prone to disaster.
No one is coming to fix the system, indeed hardly anybody is wise enough and disciplined enough to keep themselves from being swallowed up by debt, and cast aside when they’re no longer need. God help us all if/when the system finally collapses on its own weight of dependent zombies at all strata of income and education.
America’s Entitled (and Doomed) Upper Middle Class
by Charles Hugh Smith
The upper middle class is well and truly doomed by self-delusion and the pathology of entitlement.
Two recent articles describe America’s entitled (and doomed) upper middle class: the top 5% of households with incomes above $206,500 annually and individuals with incomes of $160,000 or higher annually. (source: Historical Income Tables: Households Census.gov)
The first describes how businesses are responding to the new Gilded Age in which spending by the top 5% has pulled away from the stagnating bottom 95%:
In an Age of Privilege, Not Everyone Is in the Same Boat Companies are becoming adept at identifying wealthy customers and marketing to them, creating a money-based caste system.
With disparities in wealth greater than at any time since the Gilded Age, the gap is widening between the highly affluent — who find themselves behind the velvet ropes of today’s economy — and everyone else.
The Haven’s 95 staterooms were located so high up in the forward part of the ship that even guests in comparatively expensive staterooms might remain unaware of its existence. Depending on the season, a room in the Haven might cost a couple $10,000 for a weeklong cruise vs. $3,000 for an ordinary stateroom elsewhere on the ship.
Since the late 1990s, however, “there has been a huge evolution, maybe a revolution in attitudes,” Mr. Goldstein said. In addition to larger rooms or softer sheets, big spenders want to be coddled nowadays. “They are looking for constant validation that they are a higher-value customer,” he said. For example, room service requests from Royal Suite occupants are automatically routed to a number different from the one used by regular passengers, who get slower, less personalized service.
With a week in a top Royal Suite costing upward of $30,000, compared with $4,000 for an ordinary cabin, the focus is on “very affluent travelers, and we have no trouble filling these rooms,” Mr. Bayley said.
The second article is by an upper middle class writer who bemoans his declining income and status:
The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans: Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I’m one of them.
We are naturally sympathetic to anyone describing themselves as middle-class who is in such dire financial straits that they don’t even have $500 as an emergency fund.
But as we read further, we find the author is hardly a typical middle-class worker-bee: he was a substitute host on a national television program for a few years, received substantial advances for books he wrote (substantial enough for him to complain about the taxes due), got a Hollywood movie deal for another book he wrote, etc.
He was making enough money to suggest his film-producer spouse (yet another not-a-middle-class job) quit working, and to buy a house in the tony Hamptons which he poo-poos as nothing special. (A home in a pricey premier suburb is nothing special? In what circles is it nothing special?)
The solution to his poverty is obvious to the rest of us: sell his Hamptons home and moving to less tony digs. He could buy a house in a Midwest college town for a fraction of the Hamptons house and live happily ever after off the cashed-out equity.
The writer was never middle-class–he was upper middle-class, with upper middle-class income, assets and aspirations.
Then come his complaints: he made too much money for his kids to get financial aid to Stanford (fire up the sad violins of sympathy), so his parents had to pony up the $150,000 for each kid to attend an Ivy league university–oh, and then go on to earn Masters degrees or higher.
His wife, out of the work force for the years he was raking in big bucks, couldn’t find a job as a film producer (how awful!)–and then she vanishes from the narrative: did she lower herself to take a “normal” job, or is she still a Hamptons Housewife? Are we not being told because it doesn’t fit the “poor me” narrative?
His 401K retirement was sacrificed to pay for one of his daughter’s wedding–and how much did that extravaganza cost? Was that a wise decision?
The writer confesses he’s made poor financial decisions, but he lays the blame on economic ignorance rather than the real cause: his overwhelming sense of entitlement.
This is not simply hubris; it is a pathology that characterizes America’s upper middle-class, and those who aspire to membership in that class.
This article expresses the core belief of America’s upper middle class: I deserve to make more money every year until I decide to retire. Then I deserve a well-funded retirement in an upper middle-class neighborhood with all the usual upper middle-class trimmings.
The list of entitlements is practically endless: my wife shouldn’t have to work, even though writers’ incomes are notoriously uneven; my daughters deserve to attend Ivy league colleges without taking on $100,000+ in student loan debt; they deserve lavish weddings that they don’t have to pay for; I deserve a recent-vintage auto, numerous nights out to movies and dinner, annual vacations (we can assume overseas vacations, of course; how gauche to travel only in the U.S.), and so on–an endless profusion of entitlements that are completely unmoored from the realities of their chosen careers in writing (insecure) and film production (insecure).
Memo to the author: did you somehow not notice that the money to pay writers is drying up? Did you not notice that book advances are vanishing like rain in Death Valley? How clueless does a writer have to be not to be aware of the structural changes in his industry?
The writer sets out to illuminate the precariousness of middle-class life, using himself as an example: a high-end New York writer/author and his equally high-end New York film producer spouse, who made tons more money than the $50,000-per-year middle class household and managed to buy a home in one of the most desirable suburbs in America.
The writer is aware of the disconnect, and he attempts to mask this by downplaying his previous (high) income and the value of his Hamptons home. (I got the feeling he didn’t even want to disclose he owned a home in the Hamptons.)
Given prices in the area, the writer is sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity–and if he had drained the equity, we can be sure he would have disclosed this poor-me factoid.
Is this a household that is flat-broke, or a house-rich, cash-poor household that spent far beyond its means for years in the belief that the upper middle-class were magically entitled to a high income, regardless of economic realities?
As we look at the economic landscape, we find this class the fantastically entitled bourgeois dominating the technocrat / managerial / professional layers of our economy–the people who pen the editorials and edit the news reports, the people with tenure or high-paying government jobs–the people who claim the mantle of knowing what’s what.
The reality is this class of entitled bourgeois is utterly clueless about the financial realities that are about to hit the global economy like a tidal wave. The top 5% aren’t prepared to weather a mild storm, much less survive a tsunami. They are well and truly doomed by their self-delusion and their pathology of entitlement.
With this clueless class in positions of leadership, where does that leave the nation?
Meanwhile, the economic realities that the top 5% have evaded (thanks to the “recovery” that benefits the few at the expense of the many) have pushed U.S. Suicide Rate to a 30-Year High.
This article was written by Charles Hugh Smith and originally published at his Of Two Minds blog.
His new book is #2 on Kindle short reads -> politics and social science: Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle ebook, a 20% discount thru May 1, $8.95 print edition) For more, please visit the book’s website.
"Did the Fed have an advance glimpse at Q1 GDP?"
That was a question everyone was asking yesterday when the Fed came out with another not too hawkish statement. The answer may have been yes because moments ago the BEA reported that the US economy grew at just a 0.5% annualized rate in the first quarter, missing expectations of a 0.7% growth rate, growing at half the rate recorded in the 4th quarter, and the lowest quarterly growth rate since Q1 2014 (when the winter was blamed for a negative print). It was also the third consecutive quarter of GDP declines.
The breakdown of components was mixed: while personal consumption rose 1.9% q/q, it contributed only 1.27% to the bottom GDP line, the weakest spending contribution since Q1 of 2015. What was more troubling was the impact from all the other components:
- Fixed Investment subtracted 0.27% from the annualized GDP print, the first negative CapEx print since Q1 2011
- Inventories, as expected, subtracted another 0.33% from the annualized number, following last quarter's -0.22% decline
- Trade (net exports and imports) was another negative contribution, cutting the final number by another 0.33%
- Government was perhaps the only bright side, adding 0.2% to the GDP print up from 0.2% in the prior quarter.
Needless to say, this is hardly the backdrop for the Fed to unleash even more tightening, and we expect the market to trade appropriately, because after all bad news is bad news.
Incidentally, this is how today's latest economic disappointment will be spun by the career economists and sundry permacheerful pundits:
Excuses today from economic bulls after GDP report
1) Old news
2) Job growth is strong
3) Seasonal measurement problems
4) Does GDP matter?
— GreekFire23 (@GreekFire23) April 28, 2016
By Jon Yeomans
The Telegraph, London
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Gold miner Petropavlovsk, which last year nearly went out of business, has staged a comeback with a brace of deals that could mark a new era for hard-pressed investors.
The Russia-focussed company, founded by Peter Hambro, scion of the family that founded City institution Hambros Bank, is to buy another gold miner in an all-share deal worth $144 million (L99 million), while launching a joint venture to help finish a costly processing plant.
The acquisition of Amur Zoloto will help the company "bulk up," according to Mr Hambro, Petropavlovsk's chairman, making it more attractive to institutional investors. "Shareholders have been keen for us to buy things. ... It's to help us bulk up the maths of Petropavlovsk, and there has been a move toward consolidation in the industry." ...
... For the remainder of the report:
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It’s all over except the shouting. That is, the primary election season effectively ended last night and now the actual shouting match between Hillary and The Donald begins.
This will surely be the most entertaining election in US history, and probably the most pointless, too. After all, Hillary wants to use government to make Government Great Again. And Trump promises to use government to make America Great Again.
But government doesn’t make anything great, including itself. It is a necessary evil that always and everywhere is driven toward self-aggrandizement and mission creep by the politicians and special interest lobbies which control its operations.
What government actually does is thwart the capacity of the people to pursue their own vision of greatness by encumbering their economic lives with burdensome taxation, regulation, roadblocks to opportunity and monetary fraud while saddling their public lives with endless Nanny State impositions and encroachments upon their personal liberty.
And, most especially, what the central state does in its current incarnation as Imperial Washington is to sabotage national greatness, not foster it, and saddle the economically listing American nation with a debilitating $800 billion national security apparatus that is wholly unnecessary.
The latter has long since morphed into a Warfare State leviathan. It pursues senseless and destructive foreign interventions that erode, not enhance, the safety and security of American communities. It impairs constitional liberties at home under cover of exaggerated and often contrived threats of terrorism. And it breeds blowback and terrorism aboad wherever its drones, bombs, occupations and covert machinations intrude in matters that are none of our business.
But of course that is exactly what Hillary’s candidacy is all about. Namely, insinuating the American state even more deeply and destructively into matters which are none of its business, and doing so at home and abroad with equal similitude.
Hillary Clinton allegedly protested the Vietnam War before becoming a Republican summer intern in 1967, but to my knowledge that was the last war she didn’t embrace. She was an enthusiastic backer of Bill Clinton’s feckless military interventions in the Balkans during the 1990s and a signed-up hawk for George Bush’s catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As Donald Trump rightly says, her time as Secretary of State was an unmitigated disaster. The “peace candidate” actually won the 2008 election, but Secretary Clinton along with lifetime CIA operative and unabashed war-monger, Robert Gates, saw to it that peace never got a chance.
From the pointless, bloody “surge” in Afghanistan to the destructive intervention in Libya to the arming and aiding of jihadist radicals in Syria, Hillary has proved herself to be a shrill harpy of military mayhem. Indeed, she brought a fillip to the neocon playbook that has made Imperial Washington even more trigger happy.
To wit, Clinton has been a tireless proponent of the insidious doctrine of R2P or “responsibility to protect”. No one in their right mind could have concluded that the aging, pacified, tent-bound Moammar Khadafy was a threat to the safety and security of the American people. Even the community organizer from South Chicago wanted to keep the American bombers parked on their runways.
But Hillary’s infamous emails leave no doubt that it was she who induced Obama to embrace the folly that quickly created yet another failed state, hotbed of jihadism and barbaric hellhole in the middle east. Indeed, her hands are doubly bloody.
When Hillary bragged that “We came, we saw, he died”, it turns out that not just Khadafy but thousands of innocents have died, and not just from the chaos unleashed in Libya itself. The former dictator’s arsenals and mercenaries have now been dispersed all over North Africa and the middle east, spreading desolation in their wake.
Indeed, the CIA annex in Benghazi was actually in the business of recycling Libyan weapons to the jihadists in Syria through the ratline to Turkey. Is there any possibility at all that this would have happened, and that Ambassador Stevens would have been murdered, had Hillary not put the shive to Khadafy’s backside?
And then there is the ultimate proof that Hillary is an unreconstructed warfare statist who would bury America deeper in foreign quagmires and fiscal chains. To wit, she has become so blinded by the parochial delusions of Imperial Washington that she actually likened Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.
C’mon. The man’s a monumental crook and no model citizen of the world, but he is no threat to American security whatsoever.
He presides over a third rate economy no larger than the GDP of the New York SMSA that essentially consists of a complex of petroleum fields, grain farms and metal mines and a lethargic work force with a fondness for Vodka.
Until the constitutionally elected government of Ukraine was overthrown by a Washington funded mob of economically deprived citizens, disgruntled nationalists and crypto-Nazi agitators in February 2014, Putin was basking in the glory of the Sochi Olympics and having petty quarrels with the crook who took-over the tiny state of Georgia after the Soviet Union disappeared. The world disdained his oafish character, but no one claimed that he was fixing to invade Europe.
At the same time, any one who knew the slightest thing about Ukraine’s history and its long co-existence in the shadow of Mother Russia understood that bringing it into NATO was a decidedly stupid idea, and that threatening Russia’s rented naval homeport in Sevastopol, Crimea was sheer folly.
Not Hillary. She was soon at the barricades justifying the folly of the NATO confrontation with Russia and the self-defeating economic sanctions against Putin.
Even though she was out of office and in a position to recognize that the very same “partition” solution that had led to the severance of Kosovo from Serbia during the 1990s could have solved the Donbas and Crimea issues, she was having none of it.
Instead, by her lights NATO, which should have been disbanded after 1991, needs to go to the brink with Putin over essentially a Ukrainian civil war. And that’s just for starters.
Hillary keeps advocating a “no-fly” zone in Syria, but the Islamic State butchers don’t even have an air force. So her so-called “humanitarian” no fly zone is just another way to confront Putin.
Indeed, it’s designed to stop him from aiding the constitutionally sanctioned and secular government of Syria that has invited Russian help. Yet Hillary is so besotted by the beltway fatwa against Bashar al-Assad that she is oblivious to the fact that the Russian/Iranian/Syrian alliance has done more in a few months to weaken ISIS and its jihadist confederates than has Washington’s feckless bombing campaigns and futile attempts to arm “moderates” and organize a coalition of the region’s unwillings during the last two years.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Potomac, Hillary wants to make Big Government even greater. Indeed, her victory speech last night was more or less an ode to free stuff.
Students who borrow hand-over-fist are going to be let off the hook, while social security beneficiaries who already receive far more than they paid in are going to get a raise.
So are workers who are desperately hanging on to entry level part-time jobs. Hillary is going to raise their wages to $15/hour, and presumably then supply them with unemployment benefits, food stamps and Medicaid when their jobs are off-shored or robotized.
And when it comes to the most destructive “free stuff” of all, Hillary will surely be all-in. That is, she will not lift a finger to stop the Fed’s 88 month running gift of free money to the Wall Street casino.
Yes, she apparently did “Feel The Bern” and has a deck full of empty talking points about how a Clinton Administration will be there for main street, not Wall Street.
No it won’t. Hillary Clinton has spent a lifetime milking and promoting the state.
She has no clue that it is the state itself in the form of the rogue central bankers now ensconced in the Eccles Building that is creating the wealth and income mal-distribution and rampant unfairness which she denounces; and which is strangling American capitalism and the opportunities to advance for the traditionally left behind and the recently fallen behind that she so stridently voices from the podium.
If Hillary really wanted to stop Wall Street’s unspeakable windfalls and bring a modicum of economic hope back to main street, of course, she would demand Janet Yellen’s resignation and promise to clean house among the enablers of casino capitalism at the Fed.
But as the Donald might say, “it’s not going to happen”.
So is there any chance at all that Trump will make America Great Again by erecting trade barriers, a Trump Wall on the Rio Grande and an end to America’s imperial beneficence and meddling abroad?
Stayed tuned. There may be more to The Donald than meets the eye.
And whatever it is, it certainly trumps Hillary’s deplorable purpose to make Imperial Washington an even greater menace both abroad and at home.