Distraction as Political Strategy

Why are we fighting over confederate monuments?
Because people feel strongly about this issue? Because they are being removed? Because some groups are trying to exploit the situation to get attention?
Or is there another reason?
While we are fighting over Confederate monuments relating to events almost two centuries ago, we are not focusing on:
. The worsening plight of the poor; . The destruction of the middle class ( many middle class people can no longer afford even a new car); . The crony capitalists who make their money from government handouts or connections, and who are getting richer and richer; Government employees who may have signed on for the most sincere reasons, but whose numbers have swelled, who are now making much more than they would in the private sector, who cannot be fired, and whose earnings are often diverted into campaign contributions favoring one party;
A government that is unsustainably financing itself through debt and money printing.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on August 29, 2017.

Where Did TINA Go?

A few years ago, TINA was everywhere … she was the life of the party. Whenever people wondered why stocks kept rising, she’d show up and people would scream, TINA!
But I haven’t heard anyone mention her recently … did she take off? Or did she drink so much from the punch bowl that she’s passed out, sleeping somewhere?
Of course, I’m talking about TINA the acronym, not Tina your old drinking buddy. As in, There Is No Alternative … to stocks.
Let’s be clear. Choosing your investments by process of elimination is not the best way to approach things. After all, you shouldn’t invest in something just because everything else looks worse. That investment could also have little intrinsic value and a poor risk to reward ratio.
But TINA is not a way of investing, it’s a narrative … one that’s been with us for years and may be here for a while longer. So far, this narrative has helped investors achieve substantial returns. Will it continue to do so moving forward?

This post was published at FinancialSense on 08/29/2017.

Podesta Group Subpoenaed By Special Counsel Mueller In Russia Probe

Just over a year ago we wrote about Paul Manafort resigning from the Trump campaign amid outrage over his consulting firm’s ties to a lobbying campaign designed to sway American public opinion in favor of the Ukraine’s pro-Russsian government (see: FBI Probes Firm Belonging To Brother Of Clinton Campaign Chair For Ukraine Corruption Ties).
The top political news on Friday was the unexpected resignation of Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, which was the result of emerging revelations that his political consulting firm, DMP International, had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation in the period 2012-2014 on behalf of Ukraine’s then ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country’s pro-Russian government (which was overthrown in a CIA-orchestrated coup in early 2014).
As the AP reported yesterday, the lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine’s then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her. Furthermore, under the U. S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (or FARA), US entities who lobby on behalf of foreign political leaders or political parties must provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department.
Now, fast forward one year and it seems as though an honest attempt to destroy Trump’s campaign may ensnare another rather unlikely victim, namely The Podesta Group. As our readers are undoubtedly aware by now, The Podesta Group (PG) was co-founded by Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, John Podesta, and is still run by his brother, Tony Podesta. Now, according The Daily Caller, PG, one of six lobbying firms that worked on Manafort’s campaign to get Ukraine into the European Union between 2012 to 2014, finds itself directly in the crosshairs of Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia probe.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 28, 2017.

What’s Next For Oil: Interview With Former DOE Chief Of Staff

In this week’s MacroVoices podcast, Erik Townsend and Joe McMonigle, former chief of staff at the US Department of Energy, discuss the state of the global energy market, and OPEC’s rapidly diminishing ability to control oil prices. McMonigle believes investors will be hearing more jawboning from the Saudis, OPEC’s de-facto leader, over the next two weeks as they try to marshal support for extending the cartel’s production-cut agreement past a March 2018 deadline.
Of course, anyone who’s been paying attention knows the cuts have done little to alleviate supply imbalances that have weighed on oil prices for years. In a report published by the International Energy Agency earlier this month, the organization notes that non-compliance among OPEC members, and non-members who also agreed to the cuts those non-members who also agreed to cut oil production, increased again in July. According to the IEA data, non-compliance among the cartel’s members rose to 25 percent in July, the highest level since the agreement was signed in January. Meanwhile, noncompliance for non-members rose to 33%.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 26, 2017.

Entire San Francisco Police Force Will Work The Patriot Prayer Rally

San Francisco city leaders are terrified of violence at a Patriot Prayer Rally. They have dubbed it a ‘rally by a far-right group’ and on Saturday, the city will bring in the entire police force work that day.
When a group that claims its intention is to promote peace, love and unity applies for government permission (a permit) to hold a prayer rally (free speech) in a national park, Democrats like Nancy Pelosi declare them ‘white supremacists’ and a ‘hate group.’ In fact, that was the first reaction after the city approved the permit for the Patriot Prayer Rally in the park. The second response? The city of San Fransisco is rallying their entire police force to make sure those who participate in the prayer rally stay in line.
Patriot Prayer bills itself as a peaceful First Amendment advocacy group that appears in locations where there have been past confrontations over free speech. For example, Patriot Prayer organized the Evergreen State College protest outside Seattle where Gibson was pepper sprayed by counter-protesters. According to their Facebook page, Patriot Prayer is also dedicated to fighting government corruption. Now it makes sense that they’ve been labeled as ‘extremists’ by the left.

This post was published at shtfplan on August 24th, 2017.

Gun Control Laws Have Failed Latin America

It’s no secret that Latin America is rife with violence. A recent ranking from the Citizen’s Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice(CCSPJP) further illustrates this point with the top 10 most violent cities in the world being exclusively located in Latin America. Additionally, Latin America has the dishonor of having 43 of the 50 most violent urban centers located in the region.
These shocking levels of violence can be attributed to several factors – corruption, failed drug war policies, and the lack of rule of law in the region.
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But there is one elephant in the room that is largely ignored in the discussion of crime in Latin America: the stringent gun-control laws present in these countries.
While the previously mentioned factors cannot simply be discounted, the lack of coverage on Latin American gun control policy is rather alarming.
Countries like Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela feature some of the most draconian gun control policies in the region. With crime rates at already high levels, gun control simply makes matters worse for law-abiding citizens fearful of criminals.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on August 24, 2017.

Bitcoin In An Illusionary Age

It is altogether fitting that crypto currencies, in particular Bitcoin, have witnessed a meteoric rise in this illusionary age.
Not only has their monetary value gone to dizzying heights, but they are now being touted as the destroyer of the current, crumbling monetary order and the next paradigm upon which a new money and banking system will emerge.
In an era where sacrifice, hard work, loyalty, ingenuity, tradition, and independent thought are considered anathemas, while affirmative action, sloth, effeminacy, office seeking, and something-for-nothing schemes are endemic in every walk of life, it is not surprising that non-tangible, computer-generated currencies would become a ‘natural’ feature of such a world.
While it has always been a haven for charlatans, traitors, cheats, thieves, liars, and serial adulterers, contemporary political life has become even more of a sham. The most glaring example of politics’ utter corruption can be seen in the recent departed chief executive officer of the US. Unless one abandons all critical thinking, Obummer was unqualified to be president because of the obvious fact that he was not born on American soil. Not only did this disqualify him, but his educational and professional backgrounds have not been verified. Neither his collegiate records nor his supposed teaching career at the University of Chicago Law School have ever been exposed to public scrutiny. From the few utterances he has made about his supposed specialty – constitutional law – it appears that he has only a rudimentary knowledge of the subject.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 21, 2017.

The Chinese Economy’s Fatal Flaws

Dr. Per Bylund’s recently published article poignantly states one of the core problems in the Chinese economy and its the state-manipulated Keynesian foundation. I do agree with his opinion. And if we dig deeper into the exact situation of Chinese economy, we will find that it’s a typical failing of the Keynesian, cronyist system.
By using the perspective of Austrian business cycle theory, lets take a look at China’s real estate industry, which is suffering more and more painfully from artificial credit issued by China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBC). During the 2008 global economic crisis, China’s central government issued the famous RMB 4 Trillion Stimulus Package Plan (equaling to $586 billion). Since 2009, the Chinese real estate economy has already suffered from three small economic cycles. As it is becoming more difficult for real estate companies to live on artificial prosperity, the duration of every business cycle has become shorter than the previous one. We also see more and more ghost cities because of the economic boom in every sub-economic cycle. There were at least 12 ghost cities founded in 2013, and the number of them jumped to at least 50 in 2017! Bankruptcy is happening more frequently among Chinese real estate enterprises. Since 2016, at least three real estate companies – with a combined debt of at least RMB 763 million – have gone bankrupt. The story of bankruptcy is continuing, with one of the biggest real-estate-driven enterprises, Wanda Group, facing financing problems. If Wanda no longer has access to cheap debt, it might not be able to refinance or roll over all its debt again. If Wanda has to face bankruptcy, it could possibly accelerate an end of the the current Chinese boom.
The data from the Chinese local governments is also not optimistic; their debt levels have reached almost RMB 25 trillion (US$ 4 trillion) at the end of 2014. In 2015, even the PBC admitted in one of its annual reports saying that China’s financial system is facing higher instability and uncertainty.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on August 22, 2017.

OPPOSE FASCISM OF THE RIGHT AND THE LEFT

Following the recent clashes between the alt-right and the group antifa, some libertarians have debated which group they should support. The answer is simple: neither. The alt-right and its leftist opponents are two sides of the same authoritarian coin.
The alt-right elevates racial identity over individual identity. The obsession with race leads them to support massive government interference in the economy in order to benefit members of the favored race. They also favor massive welfare and entitlement spending, as long as it functions as a racial spoils system. Some prominent alt-right leaders even support abortion as a way of limiting the minority population. No one who sincerely supports individual liberty, property rights, or the right to life can have any sympathy for this type of racial collectivism.
Antifa, like all Marxists, elevates class identity over individual identity. Antifa supporters believe government must run the economy because otherwise workers will be exploited by greedy capitalists. This faith in central planning ignores economic reality, as well as the reality that in a free market employers and workers voluntarily work together for their mutual benefit. It is only when government intervenes in the economy that crony capitalists have the opportunity to exploit workers, consumers, and taxpayers. Sadly, many on the left confuse the results of the ‘mixed economy’ with free markets.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on AUGUST 21, 2017.

Diminishing Returns

These two words are the hinge that is swinging American life – and the advanced techno-industrial world, for that matter – toward darkness. They represent an infection in the critical operations of daily life, like a metabolic disease, driving us into disorder and failure. And they are so omnipresent that we’ve failed to even notice the growing failure all around us.
Mostly, these diminishing returns are the results of our over-investments in making complex systems more complex, for instance the replacement of the 37-page Glass-Steagall Act that regulated American banking, with the 848 page Dodd-Frank Act, which was only an outline for over 22,000 pages of subsequent regulatory content – all of it cooked up by banking lobbyists, and none of which replaced the single most important rule in Glass-Steagall, which required the separation of commercial banking from trafficking in securities. Dodd-Frank was a colossal act of misdirection of the public’s attention, an impenetrable smokescreen of legal blather in the service of racketeering.
For Wall Street, Dodd-Frank aggravated the conditions that allow stock indexes to only move in one direction, up, for nine years. During the same period, the American economy of real people and real stuff only went steadily down, including the number of people out of the work force, the incomes of those who still had jobs, the number of people with full-time jobs, the number of people who were able to buy food without government help, or pay for a place to live, or send a kid to college.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on August 21, 2017.

Wall Street’s Latest Plot: Blame the Financial Crash on the French

Wall Street appears to have a plan to get the deregulation it wants by pinning the start of the epic financial crash of 2007-2010 on (wait for it) the French, rather than its own unbridled greed, corruption and toxic manufacture of junk bonds known as subprime debt that it paid to have rated AAA by ethically-challenged and deeply conflicted rating agencies. (The same rating agencies that are getting paid by Wall Street to rate its debt issues today.)
One of the men helping to peddle this narrative is Steve Hanke, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, a taxpayer-subsidized nonprofit that was secretly owned by the billionaire Koch brothers for decades.
Hanke’s bio at Cato lists him as a Professor of Applied Economics at John Hopkins University in Baltimore and provides the following titillating background:
‘Prof. Hanke served as a State Counselor to both the Republic of Lithuania in 1994-96 and the Republic of Montenegro in 1999-2003. He was also an Advisor to the Presidents of Bulgaria in 1997-2002, Venezuela in 1995-96, and Indonesia in 1998. He played an important role in establishing new currency regimes in Argentina, Estonia, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ecuador, Lithuania, and Montenegro. Prof. Hanke has also held senior appointments in the governments of many other countries, including Albania, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yugoslavia.’

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on August 21, 2017.

NAFTA Negotiations Start in Secrecy, despite Fake Promises of Transparency. Lobbying Heats Up

Americans don’t know what’s being negotiated at their expense.
The first round of re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico began on Wednesday and is scheduled to last through Sunday. And the one thing we know about it is this: Despite promises in March by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (USTR) that the negotiations would be transparent, the USTR now considers the documents and negotiations ‘classified’ and they’ll be cloaked in secrecy.
But corporate lobbyists have access. And they’re all over it.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation put it this way:
Once again, following the failed model of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the USTR will be keeping the negotiating texts secret, and in an actual regression from the TPP will be holding no public stakeholder events alongside the first round. This may or may not set a precedent for future rounds, that will rotate between the three countries every few weeks thereafter, with a scheduled end date of mid-2018.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ Aug 19, 2017.

Ukrainian Lawmakers Disclose $45 Million In Bitcoin Holdings

As Ukraine’s crackdown on corruption continues, three lawmakers from Ukraine’s ruling party revealed this week that they own a combined $45 million in bitcoin, according to a report by RIA Novosti, a Russian foreign news service.
Their holdings came to light during mandatory financial disclosures by members of the Ukrainian parliament, part of an IMF-approved strategy to tamp down corruption in Ukraine. The country’s democratic institutions, which were never very robust to begin with, have been further destabilized by the civil war that’s seen pro-Russian separatists seize control of two regions in eastern Ukraine. Lawmakers must now disclose their assets and wealth in an online database.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 16, 2017.

Corporate Media Continues to Pump Out Fake News on Wall Street Crash of 2008

When there is an epic financial crash in the U. S. that collapses century old Wall Street institutions and brings about the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, one would think that the root causes would be chiseled in stone by now. But when it comes to the 2008 crash, expensive corporate media real estate is happy to allow bogus theories to go unchallenged by editors.
What is happening ever so subtly over time is that the unprecedented greed, corruption and unrestrained manufacture of fraudulent securities by iconic brands on Wall Street that actually caused the crash are getting a gentle rewrite. The insidious danger of this is that Wall Street is never reformed or adequately regulated – that it remains a skulking financial monster with its unseen tentacles wrapped tightly around every economic artery of American life, retaining its ever present strangulation potential.
On August 10 of this year, Wall Street Journal reporter James Mackintosh penned the following astonishing sentence: ‘The global financial crisis began 10 years ago this week, when a French bank suspended three money-market funds. What savers thought was money turned out to be merely credit, and the realization rapidly trashed U. S. money-market funds and the global banking system.’

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on August 15, 2017.

Insanity: Denmark Gives Homes And Jobs To Former ISIS Thugs For ‘Hug A Terrorist’ Campaign

There’s a very simple principle that helps form the bedrock of any prosperous and civilized society. When people do bad things, they should be punished for it. The moment that rule is turned upside down, and the wicked and weak are rewarded for their behavior, society will crumble. There’s no way around it. Every society that rewards bad behavior is on the fast track to destruction.
You might think that would be obvious, but there are plenty of nations throughout history that have fallen under the weight of corruption, in one form or another. Our species has made this mistake countless times. We never learn, and we always pay for it.
Next on the chopping block of history is Denmark, where the police in the city of Aarhus are now essentially rewarding people who have been accused of being terrorists.

This post was published at shtfplan on August 14th, 2017.

Intel Memo: Marco Rubio Targeted For Assassination By Venezuela Lawmaker

Senator Marco Rubio may have been targeted for assassination by one of Venezuela’s most powerful lawmakers and long time secretive head of the country’s security services. According to the Miami Herald, the US Department of Homeland Security disseminated a sensitive memo to federal agencies last month which identified Diosdado Cabello Rondon as behind the “order to have Senator Rubio assassinated,” while also noting the intelligence to be unverified as ‘no specific information regarding an assassination plot against Senator Rubio has been garnered thus far.”
Cabello Rondon is widely believed to be Venezuela’s second most-powerful man and head of the country’s military and security services. US media has referred to him as “the Frank Underwood of Venezuela” (from the TV series House of Cards) for his well-known history of corruption, suspicion of drug trafficking, and Machiavellian plotting against rivals and involvement in pro-Chavez military crackdowns. As a behind the scenes influential military leader he’s kept both the late president Hugo Chavez and current socialist strongman Nicolas Maduro in power.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 13, 2017.