Why Is The DHS Preparing To Take Control Of The US Election?

What do you do when you’re the dictatorial leader of an oppressive government regime looking to maintain power while simultaneously preserving the facade of free and open elections? Well, if you’re the Obama administration then you look for avenues to nationalize state-run election infrastructure.
But you can’t just seize control of infrastructure that has been successfully run at the state level for a couple hundred years…that kind of stuff only happens in Venezuela and we’re better than that. No, you need a catalyst for this kind of blatant power grab. “Coincidentally”, a catalyst just like the FBI’s warning a couple of days ago about “foreign hackers [read Putin] penetrating state election systems.” Then, once you’ve defined the super villain, all you need is a couple of political cronies to go on a fear mongering tour to whip the electorate into a frenzy. And wouldn’t you know it…Harry Reid recently did just that by sending a letter to the FBI voicing his “concerns” that the “Russian government” may be looking to tamper with the upcoming presidential election. Per the New York Times, Harry Reid’s letter to the FBI included the following:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 31, 2016.

The Monetary Wildfires In Canada

The massive wildfires in Alberta earlier this year had a tremendously negative effect upon not just the oil sector but all of Canada. Not surprisingly, Canadian GDP released today was abysmal. Falling 1.6% in Q2, that was the worst quarter since 2009. Fortunately for the Bank of Canada who had been ‘stimulating’ again since last July when it cut the overnight rate by 25 bps to 0.50%, the wildfires give its policies some cover to explain what would have been otherwise already dismal.
Pre-report estimates showed that the wildfires were expected to contribute about 1% to 1.1% of the GDP decline. Thus, even without the hellish conflagration across a huge chunk of Alberta’s oil production fields Canadian GDP would still have contracted in Q2. After such an atrocious and devastating year last year, as ‘transitory’ oil prices crashed the Canadian economic margins, 2016 was supposed to be the year to forget all that.
Instead, what we find in Canadian GDP is what we find almost everywhere else – unstable growth. From the start of 2015, GDP has contracted in half of the six quarters since; and of the other three, one, Q4 2015, was near zero, leaving just two quarters as significantly positive where even the best was just 2.5%.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Jeffrey P. Snider ‘ August 31, 2016.

Brazil Formally Impeaches Dilma Rousseff In 61 To 20 Vote

As was widely expected, the final step of Brazil’s historic impeachment process of former president Dilma Rousseff, concluded moments ago with a decision to formally impeach the former president, with 61 senators voting for her ouster, and 20 voting against.
Dilma Rousseff thus becomes the second president to be impeached in Brazil’s 31-year-old democracy, after 13 years of her party’s leftist rule, paving the way for what the market hopes is a fundamental shift in economic policy.
Rouseff was previously charged for breaking the country’s budget laws. As a result, the just as unpopular Michel Temer is set to become Brazil’s official president until 2018. Behind the narrow allegations of breaking budget laws, what led a majority of Brazilians to back impeachment was a sense that Rousseff mismanaged the economy and was lenient on rampant corruption.
As Bloomberg reports, the decision caps a tumultuous period that began after Rousseff’s narrow re-election victory in 2014 and exacerbated the worst recession in decades.
The second impeachment since Fernando Collor was ousted in 1992 has been a traumatic experience for this young democracy, coming on top of a two-year corruption scandal and unemployment at its highest in over a decade. With his mandate as Brazil’s leader confirmed, Temer hopes he can now push more forcefully to put the economy back on track, a challenge that includes unpopular austerity measures.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 31, 2016.

The Establishment Campaign to Blame Putin for Everything

Hardly a day goes by without some ‘news’ about the Russian ‘threat,’ and in the past twenty-four hours the hate-on-Russia campaign seems to have picked up speed. After learning from Hillary Clinton that Vladimir Putin is not only responsible for the Trump campaign, but also for the ‘global nationalist movement’ that yanked the British out of the European Union, mainstream media are telling us that Russian interlopers are supposedly invading our electoral process by hacking into voter databases. TheWashington Post ‘reports’:
‘Hackers targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, and the FBI alerted Arizona officials in June that Russian hackers were behind the assault on the election system in that state.
‘The bureau told Arizona officials that the threat was ‘credible’ and severe, ranking as ‘an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10,’ said Matt Roberts, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.
‘As a result, Secretary of State Michele Reagan shut down the state voter registration system for almost a week.’
So the Russkies are invading the American polity, launching a cybernetic assault on the very basis of our democracy? Really? Well, no, as becomes apparent when the reader gets down in the weeds and exercises his critical faculties, if such exist. Because by the time we arrive at paragraph five of this ‘news’ story, we learn that:
‘It turned out that the hackers did not succeed in compromising the state system or even any county system, but rather had managed to steal the user name and password for one Gila County elections official.’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Justin Raimondo ‘ August 31, 2016.

The August 2013 False Flag Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria – -When Putin Bailed Out Obama

Three years ago, when a reluctant President Barack Obama was about to launch an attack on Syria, supposedly in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad crossing a ‘red line’ against using chemical weapons, Obama smelled a rat – or rather he sensed a mousetrap.
Advised by some of his intelligence advisers that the evidence blaming the Syrian government for the lethal sarin attack was weak, Obama disappointed many of Washington’s neocons and liberal war hawks, including those in his own administration, by deferring action. He tossed the issue to Congress, thus guaranteeing a delay.
Precisely at that key juncture, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the pressure off Obama by persuading the Syrian government to destroy its chemical weapons, which Assad did – while still denying any role in the attack at Ghouta, just outside Damascus, on Aug. 21, 2013.
Washington’s hardliners were left aching for their lost opportunity to attack Syria by citing the Ghouta attack as a casus belli. But the evidence suggested, instead, a well-orchestrated Syrian rebel false-flag operation aimed at fabricating a pretext for direct U. S. intervention in the war on Syria.
With Putin’s assistance in getting Assad to surrender the chemical weapons, Obama was able to extricate himself from the corner that he had rather clumsily painted himself into with his earlier bravado talk about a ‘red line.’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 31, 2016.

Mystery of Oil Held on Chinese Islands Puzzles Crude Markets

China’s got the world puzzling over its oil hoard.
From underground caverns by the Yellow Sea to a scattering of islands in the Yangtze River delta, the government has been stockpiling crude for emergencies in a network of storage sites dotted around the country. Record purchases this year by the world’s biggest energy consumer have helped oil prices recover from the worst crash in a generation. What the country plans to do next could determine where they go from here.
The difficulty is that nobody outside China really knows for certain. The government won’t say how much it’s holding or when the tanks will be full. Energy Aspects Ltd. says the country will probably keep buying and fill up commercial tanks if it has to, while the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co. say the purchases may soon stop. The difference in opinion is equivalent to about 1.1 million barrels a day, or more than the Asian country buys from Saudi Arabia.
‘China seems to feel no obligation to report on its strategic stocks, and that might confer a genuine advantage in its favor,’ said John Driscoll, the chief strategist at JTD Energy Services Pte, who has spent more than 30 years trading crude and petroleum in Singapore. ‘The scope of their purchases can dramatically affect fundamentals and prices. However, since they will likely be shrouded in secrecy, it will remain challenging to quantify the impact.’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Bloomberg Business ‘ August 31, 2016.

Dear Millennials: If You Want to Escape Minimum Wage Debt-Serfdom…

Those without value-creating human/social capital will be mired in a low/minimum wage environment that will make it difficult to escape debt-serfdom. Let’s start with the sobering reality that the Millennial generation faces economic challenges that are unique to this era: sky-high student loan debt, soaring costs for basics such as rent and healthcare, a stagnant neofeudal crony-cartel economy and an intellectually bankrupt status quo in thrall to failed ideologies: Keynesian Cargo Cult central banking, outdated models of capital and labor and an unthinking worship of debt-funded centralization as the “solution” to all social and economic ills. The potential solutions are also unique to this era. Never before has humankind had such a wealth of revolutionary decentralizing technologies: nearly friction-free peer-to-peer networks and commerce, decentralized cryptocurrencies and the expansion of what my friend G. F. B. describes as neo-tribalism: opt-in communities that are not bound to geography or central-state imposed identities. Many smart, well-informed people see massive government stimulus using borrowed money as the “solution” to Millennial impoverishment and under-employment–in other words, more debt-funded centralization. The idea here is that such debt-funded stimulus will employ millions of Millennials to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on TUESDAY, AUGUST 30, 2016.

The Mother Of Peak Debt – – Japan’s Total Debt-to-GDP Ratio Stands At 600%

There’s ‘very little’ that Japan can do about its mounting debt pile, which presents a potential risk to growth, according to Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Jamil Baz.
With a government debt load that’s 2 1/2 times the size of annual gross domestic product and a total national borrowing burden that’s six times as large, ‘Japan is suffering from the excesses of the past’ and the country ‘is in a bind right now,” the fund manager’s head of client analytics said in an interview in Sydney last week.
Japan’s economy is still struggling to gain traction even after policy makers hit it with repeated doses of budgetary stimulus and unprecedented monetary easing to drag the country out of its deflationary funk. The Bank of Japan’s adoption of negative interest rates has pushed down debt financing costs for now, but repeated delays to a planned sales tax increase, a new 28 trillion yen ($272 billion) fiscal boost from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the pressures of an aging population mean the borrowing pile is likely to keep on growing.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By Narayanan Somasundaram and Benjamin Purvis via Bloomberg Business ‘ August 31, 2016.

At a Time of Political Darkness in America, Our Whistleblowers and Activists Give Us Reason to Hope

Over the past week Rasmussen polls have captured the epic disgust of voters in the direction America is heading. Only 31 percent of likely voters believe the country is heading in the right direction;67 percent of voters are angry at the current policies of the federal government; and just 24 percent trust the federal government to do the right thing most or nearly all the time.
The smooth functioning of the U. S. economy is based on citizens having confidence in the country’s leaders. Over two-thirds of the U. S. economy stems from consumer spending. When consumers lack confidence, they scale back spending. When businesses lack confidence, they lay off workers or stop hiring. When new home buyers lack confidence, they postpone signing a contract. Last Friday, Bloomberg News reported that the CEO of Signet Jewelers Ltd., Mark Light, was blaming a slowdown in diamond wedding ring sales on ‘a presidential campaign season that has scared couples into closing their checkbooks.’
No Federal agency has done more to drain investor and consumer confidence than the crony Securities and Exchange Commission. Public revulsion of the SEC has now reached such epic proportions that a whistleblower, Eric Ben-Artzi, has turned down his half of a $16.5 million whistleblower award from the SEC for alerting the agency that his former employer, Deutsche Bank, had been inflating the value of its credit derivatives to avoid taking losses. The SEC imposed a $55 million fine on the bank but took no further actions against the employees who were responsible for misspricing the derivatives and hiding the losses.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on August 30, 2016.

Bringing an End to the Forever War

This article appeared on War on the Rocks on August 29, 2016.
‘The Constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates,’ James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1798, ‘that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war…. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature.’ As James Wilson had earlier explained to the delegates at the Pennsylvania ratifying convention: ‘This system will not hurry us into war; it is calculated to guard against it.’
In the post-9/11 era, the United States has drifted towards a radically different regime. Two successive presidents have treated the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) as a wholesale, potentially permanent delegation of congressional war powers – a writ for war without temporal or geographic limits.
The 2001 AUMF was passed by the 107th Congress three days after the 9/11 attacks and targeted those who ‘planned, authorized, [or] committed’ the attacks and those who ‘aided’ or ‘harbored’ them. This referred to, respectively, al-Qaeda and the Taliban although they were not named in the authorization. Judging by what they said at the time, the legislators who passed the resolution did not imagine that they’d sanctioned an open-ended, multi-generational war. This AUMF was nothing like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that authorized the Vietnam War, then-Sen. Joe Biden insisted after the vote. This authorization was limited: ‘we do not say pell-mell, ‘Go do anything, any time, any place.”

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Gene Healy, Cato Institute ‘ August 30, 2016.

Federal Student Loan Mess Is Worse Than Government Pretends

Government-backed student debt is big business: About one in six U. S. adults has a student loan owned or guaranteed by taxpayers, and the feds pay their contracted loan servicers and debt collectors close to $2 billion annually to counsel borrowers on their repayment options and collect monthly payments on nearly $1.3 trillion of federal student debt.
The U. S. Department of Education updates the public every three months on how borrowers are faring with their federal student loans. Bloomberg crunched the numbers on where the federal student loan portfolio stood as of June 30. Here’s what we found.
Fewer Borrowers Are Falling Behind
Late payments, when measured by loan balances in arrears, have fallen significantly in recent years. In 2013, a quarter of student loans were at least 31 days late. Delinquency rates have steadily dropped since then, falling to about 19 percent as of June 30.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 29, 2016.

War On Cash: Discontinue Professor Rogoff’s Stupid Commentary, Not the $100 Bill

In a recent opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff declared that there’s ‘little debate among law-enforcement agencies that paper currency, especially large notes such as the $100 bill, facilitates crime.’ Rogoff would like to discontinue the $100 in order to – try not to laugh – reduce crime.
Can the eminent economist really be so nave as to presume that the disappearance of a piece of paper would prove effective at making the U. S. (and the world) more honest and safe? Apparently he does, while lightly acknowledging what economists refer to as the ‘substitution effect.’ If $100 Federal Reserve notes prove scarce, then similar euro and Pound bills will do the job, as will 10,000 yen notes. If $100 bills simplify big criminal transactions, wouldn’t little gold coins simplify crime even more?
While Rogoff is fully focused on the problems presented by $100 bills for government, he ignores how problematic it is that our government is so large and intrusive as to want to take away something that we the people (law abiding and not) find convenient. Did it ever occur to Rogoff that maybe there are too many laws and too many crimes as opposed to too many $100 bills? To you the reader, if cocaine and heroin are legalized tomorrow, will you become users?
As opposed to wanting to abolish the $100 bill in order to increase our individual freedoms, Rogoff seeks an end to the $100 to increase the size and scope of government. A principle reason Rogoff is in favor of abolishing the C-note is because ‘Cash is also deeply implicated in tax evasion, which costs the federal government some $500 billion a year in revenue.’ Lower federal revenues are apparently bad in the eyes of Rogoff and his ilk, but they’re surely good for the rest of us. Ignored by Rogoff, or worse, understood by the Keynesian thinker, is that a dollar collected by the IRS is an extra dollar for Congress to spend.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 30, 2016.

China’s Credit Party Winds Down in Headwind for GDP Growth

Chinese companies’ borrowing costs have never been so low. That’s little consolation to firms cutting debt rather than investing amid a slowing economy.
The amount of local yuan bond sales minus maturities fell 39 percent in August from a year earlier for non-financial firms to 124 billion yuan ($18.6 billion), data compiled by Bloomberg show. Net issuance since March 31 has slowed to 496 billion yuan after a record 810 billion yuan in the first quarter of 2016. Yields on AA and AA rated five-year securities dropped to record lows this month.
The decline in bond financing and the lowest fixed-asset investment growth since 1999 suggest central bank monetary easing will have trouble reviving growth that’s forecast to slow through next year. China must balance cutting corporate debt, which more than doubled in five years to 111.7 trillion yuan at the end of 2015, with steps to revive the world’s second-biggest economy.
‘Firms are adjusting their balance sheets by slowing further investments and hoarding cash because they see more uncertainty with economic growth,’ said Xia Le, chief Asia economist in Hong Kong at Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA. ‘For the aggregate economy, it means slower growth because fewer companies are expanding.’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 30, 2016.

Even The NYT Says Clintons Should Ban Foreign Donations

While carefully navigating the waters of what a reasonable man would presume as guilt over pay-to-play cronyism at the highest levels of government, it appears that The New York Times is gravely concerned at what The Clinton Foundation’s trail of tumult could do to the messianic reign of Hillary Clinton.
As a result, this morning its editorial board joined the chorus of mostly right of center voices, calling on Hillary Clinton to ban all foreign donations to her family’s charity in a editorial published Friday.
The call comes after a string of reports noting that the Clinton Foundation had begun to accept foreign donations after banning them for the four years Clinton served as secretary of state. The foundation has since defended donations from countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman as philanthropy, not influence peddling, but Democrats and Republicans have questioned the practice.
“All of which underlines the need for Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her all but certified role as a Democratic presidential candidate, to reinstate the foundation’s ban against foreign contributors, who might have matters of concern to bring before a future Clinton administration,” the editorial board wrote. “This was a restriction Mrs. Clinton worked out with the Obama administration to allay concerns of potential conflict of interest when she became secretary of state in 2009.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 30, 2016.

Fear Spreads of a Housing Crash in Canada

More Canadians sour on their Magnificent Housing Bubble.
Canadians have been gung-ho about their magnificent housing bubble, feeding it with an endless willingness to pay every higher prices, even as regulators and international institutions issued warnings, as short sellers began circling, as subprime liar-loan scandals made their reappearance, and as a generation was getting priced out of the hottest housing markets in Canada, the metros of Toronto and Vancouver, and as locals came up with an acronym to describe what has fired up the market: HAM – Hot Asian Money.
But the Vancouver housing bubble, the hottest even in Canada, hit rough waters in early summer. By July the first serious troubles appeared. Even as apartment prices soared 27% year-over-year and detached house prices 38%, overall sales plunged 19%, while sales of detached homes plummeted 31% [Vancouver Housing Bubble, Meet Pin].
Then on August 2, British Columbia’s notorious 15% transfer tax on home purchases involving foreign investors took effect. Preliminary data indicatethat sales over the first two weeks in August plunged 51% year-over-year, with sales of detached homes down 66%.

This post was published at Wolf Street on August 29, 2016.

Federal Student Loan Mess Is Worse That Government Pretends

Government-backed student debt is big business: About one in six U. S. adults has a student loan owned or guaranteed by taxpayers, and the feds pay their contracted loan servicers and debt collectors close to $2 billion annually to counsel borrowers on their repayment options and collect monthly payments on nearly $1.3 trillion of federal student debt.
The U. S. Department of Education updates the public every three months onhow borrowers are faring with their federal student loans. Bloomberg crunched the numbers on where the federal student loan portfolio stood as of June 30. Here’s what we found.
Fewer Borrowers Are Falling Behind
Late payments, when measured by loan balances in arrears, have fallen significantly in recent years. In 2013, a quarter of student loans were at least 31 days late. Delinquency rates have steadily dropped since then, falling to about 19 percent as of June 30.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Shahien Nasiripour Bloomberg, Bloomberg Business ‘ August 29, 2016.

Hillary’s Crazy ‘Alt-Right’ Conspiracy Theory

Hillary Clinton’s recent ‘alt right’ speech marks a new and dangerous low in what has become race to the bottom – and, should she be elected, it has ominous foreign policy implications as well.
Alarmed that Trump is reaching out to the African-American community, Mrs. Clinton tried to make the case that the GOP candidate is a apologist for such groups as the Ku Klux Klan (do they still exist?) and an obscure amalgam she dubbed the ‘alt right.’ As she named this latter group, there was a significant silence, a pause in the cheering: perhaps her audience thought she was having a senior moment of the intestinal variety.
In any case, none of this is anything new: it’s a variation on the ‘Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’ theme that she has been dragging out ever since the 1990s. There is, however, a new dimension to this tired boilerplate, now that she’s running for President: the Vast Right-wing Conspiracy is being portrayed an international cabal with its headquarters in the Kremlin.
As her peroration on the ‘racist’ sins of Trump reached a climax, she hauled out Nigel Farage, the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), who was instrumental in leading the Brexit campaign to victory. Farage – who is, in her view, a ‘racist,’ a ‘sexist,’ and god knows what other unsavory ‘ists’ – ‘has appeared regularly on Russian propaganda programs,’ she yelled ‘Now he’s standing on the same stage as the Republican nominee.’
What is she talking about?

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner by Justin Raimondo ‘ August 29, 2016.

Between The Lines Of Yellen’s Speech – – Do You Really Need Us?

In case you need any assistance in trying to figure out when Janet Yellen spoke, or at least when the text of her speech was released from embargo, here is a hint:
It seems her stream of consciousness was somewhat consistent with the old Greenspan idea of ‘fedspeak.’ People and investors appear to have taken from it what they wished, with some commentary talking about its apparent ‘hawkishness’ before being overwhelmed by others claiming its clear ‘dovishness.’ I don’t think either of those terms apply, and certainly not in the fashion with which they are leveled by the continued conventions of mainstream perspective about monetary policy.
What I found in the speech is some good indication for what I wrote yesterday, though you as the reader should be equally suspicious about whether I am falling into that same fedspeak trap (as I so very much look forward to the day when nobody cares one bit what any Fed official or central banker has to say, and that day is coming).

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 29, 2016.

“Election Fraud Underway” – NBC Affiliate Posts “Election Results” For Florida Race That Hasn’t Happened Yet

Republican candidate for Florida House District 86, Laurel Bennett, was a bit shocked over the weekend when she discovered that a local West Palm Beach NBC affiliate, WPTV, reported that she had lost a race even though votes hadn’t been cast yet. Why do we need voters when it’s far easier to just skip straight to the results?
The note from WPTV showed Laurel getting 12,189 votes or 45%. Laurel posted the following comment to her facebook page in response to the erroneous report:
‘Election fraud is already taking place here in Palm Beach County! WPTV is posting election results, today, when the race is Tuesday! Please spread the word and contact everyone you know to vote Bennett on Tuesday! I have a snapshot of it! End corruption in Palm Beach! It begins with you, the voter!’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 29, 2016.

It’s All About This Friday’s Payrolls: Key Events In The Coming Week

This weekend the ad hominem attacks against Donald Trump took a sharp escalation when first a former Obama advisor, then a republican commentator, following by entertainment stars took sharp shots at the republican candidate.
It started with David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager, who during NBC’s “Meet the Press” show, called Donald Trump “a psychopath.” Plouffe told Chuck Todd that “we have a psychopath running for president. I mean, he meets the clinical definition, OK?”
After Todd pushed back that Plouffe isn’t a psychologist and that such claims frustrate voters, Plouffe elaborated, “The grandiose notion of self-worth, pathological lying, lack of empathy and remorse. So I think he does; right, I don’t have a degree in psychology.”
Plouffe opined that the race is already unwinnable for Trump because, he said, Hillary Clinton is guaranteed 269 electoral votes, including those from Virginia and Colorado. “There’s maybe a 20 percent chance it’s close – 2 or 3 points; I think it’s likely going to be a landslide,” he said. While attacking Trump Plouffe naturally defended Clinton, saying there are “legitimate questions” about conflicts of interest at the Clinton Foundation. But he said the charity shouldn’t shut down, because it does great work.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 29, 2016.