Venezuela Arrests Former Oil Minister And Ex-Head Of PDVSA

Hoy la Clase soberana Petrolera recibe al compaero @MQuevedoF quin asume el @MinPetroleoVE y @PDVSA para continuar el legado de nuestro Comandante Chvez pic.twitter.com/6BH7IsgehW
— Eulogio Del Pino (@delpinoeulogio) November 27, 2017

As OPEC is set to celebrate the extension of the cartel’s oil production cut for another year in Vienna, Venezuela former-oil minister and the former head of the now defaulted state energy company PDVSA have no reasons to celebrate following their overnight arrests in Venezuela.
Taking a page out of the Saudi “anti-corruption” playbook, Reuters reports citing two sources that Venezuelan authorities detained former Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino and former state oil company PDVSA president Nelson Martinez overnight as a part of a broad anti-corruption probe.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 30, 2017.

The GOP Tax Bill: Fuggedaboutit!

The GOP has become so politically desperate that they might as well enact a two-word statute and be done with it. It would simply read: Tax Bill!
Actually, that’s not far from where they are in the great scheme of things. The Senate Finance Committee’s bill is a dog’s breakfast of K-Street/Wall Street pleasing tax cuts, narrowly focused revenue raisers that will be subject to withering attack on the Senate floor, nonsensical vote-driven compromises and outrageous fiscal gimmicks—-the most blatant of which is the sun-setting of every single individual tax provision after 2025.
This latter trick is designed to shoe-horn the revenue loss into the $1.5 trillion 10-year allowance in the budget reconciliation instruction and also comply with the Senate’s “Byrd Rule” which allows a point of order to strike down a reconciliation bill that increases the deficit after year 10. Save for these gimmicks, the actual 10-year cost of the Senate bill would be $2.2 trillion including interest on the added deficits.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017.

Detained Saudi Prince Buys His Freedom For $1 Billion

One day you were the billionaire head of the National Guard in one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships. Although that carries some risk, you were probably reassured by your position as a senior prince in the ruling family, never mind your strong ties to the US military… oh and of course the many zeros in your bank account. The next day, in a turn of events akin to Shakespearian drama, you were imprisoned (kind of) with ten of your fellow princes and a bunch of ministers and former ministers in a 5 star hotel on charges of money laundering, bribery and general corruption.
Despite being a cousin of the Kingdom’s uber-autocratic crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Prince Miteb bin Abdullah was a son of former King Abdullah and got caught up in a clan war in the ruling family. Former Riyadh governor and another of King Abdullah’s sons, Turki bin Abdullah, was also arrested in the crackdown.
Miteb was accused of conducting normal business practices in Saudi Arabia, such as embezzlement, hiring ‘ghost’ employees and awarding his own companies a $10 billion contract for walkie-talkies and bullet proof protection. However, after what must have been the worst three and a half weeks of his life in the Ritz Carlton ‘prison’, Miteb has purchased his freedom for a cool $1 billion.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 29, 2017.

How to gain permanent residency in Mexico without leaving home

As a world traveler and investor, I always try to find markets where there’s a huge difference between the ACTUAL risk and the PERCEIVED risk.
And this risk assessment applies not only to investing, but also to entire countries.
Mexico is a great example.
Sure, Mexico has some serious problems. Crime. Gangs. Drugs. Corruption. Tensions with the US over illegal immigration and American jobs.
But did you know that more Americans applied for residency in Mexico than vice versa over the past few years?
Do these Americans know something others don’t?
Maybe they know a foreign residency opens opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have. A foreign residency gives you more options for work, business, investments, travel and living. It’s one part of a Plan B… in a location where you like spending time.
And residency in Mexico could be a solution for you.
Mexico’s story is more complex than what’s presented in the news. The country offers a lot more than its northern states where the drug war rages… and where the US media focuses all its attention.

This post was published at Sovereign Man on Simon Black, November 28, 2017.

The EU (with Help from Germany) just Made Monsanto’s Day

One of Germany’s largest companies is trying to buy Monsanto, which changes everything.
A majority of EU governments voted on Monday to extend the European license for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup, for another five years. One of the deciding votes was cast by the caretaker government of Germany, which came off the fence after abstaining in previous meetings.
The decision was made despite a petition signed by more than 1.3 million EU citizen-subjects calling for a European ban on the weedkiller.
The five-year extension is welcome news for Monsanto, which has found itself in the rather unusual position of being on the back foot in recent years, especially since the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) declared that glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic’. The company is facing a rash of potentially costly law suits in the US from farmers, members of their families, and others who claim that Roundup is connected to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Don Quijones ‘ Nov 28, 2017.

Don’t Close the Tax “Loopholes”

Why do some conservatives and libertarians want some Americans to pay more in taxes?
Oh, they don’t actually come out and say that. Then they would sound like Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.
What they do say is that certain tax deductions are ‘loopholes’ that need to be ‘closed’ because they ‘distort’ the tax code, ‘subsidize’ high-income taxpayers, and encourage people to make ‘economically unwise decisions.’ Although most of them also add that the increased government revenue that would result from the elimination of a particular deduction should be used to ‘pay’ for ‘good tax reform’ by ‘offsetting’ the ‘cost’ of lowering tax rates and making the tax code ‘simpler’ and ‘fairer,’ there is no getting around the fact that some conservatives and libertarians still want certain Americans to pay more in taxes.
The latest deduction under attack is the State and Local Tax Deduction (the SALT deduction).

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 27, 2017.

Dictators Fall, but States Remain: Zimbabwe’s (Already) Missed Chance

Last week, the fall of Robert Mugabe’s regime made headlines across the world, and was greeted with relief and hope by international commentators as well as Zimbabweans. Overall, the general feeling was that of a new beginning, long awaited in a country that had been stuck for four decades under rampant inflation, corruption, and an oppressive rule. There seemed to be little doubt, given how the news was presented, that this is a pivotal and far-reaching transformation for this African nation.
And yet, if one looks closely, there are signs that, despite the current sense of hope in Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s removal will not bring the long awaited change. Mugabe “retired’ with immunity, a $US 10 million severance check, and a promise to be paid a salary for the rest of his life. He has now been succeeded by his vice-president, who lead the coup d’tat and capitalized on the year long public protests against his disputed predecessor. With the new president, the rule of the ZANU-Patriotic Front will continue, as will the party’s Marxist-Leninist ideology and its politburo.
How can one know that things won’t change? There are many similarities between the recent history of Zimbabwe and the not too distant history of socialist republics, like Romania, from the decades of oppression and poverty to the overwhelming hope of a new start following the revolution. But one important common aspect of the two regimes – Ceausescu’s and Mugabe’s – is that neither or them were actual autocracies, or ‘personal’ states. A forty year totalitarian rule is not a one-man feat, but must be necessarily supported by an entire state apparatus for which the dictator himself often becomes no more than a mouthpiece.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 28, 2017.

AMERICA’S SECRET WEAPON IN THE OIL WAR

As Saudi Arabia spins from crisis to crisis, U. S. oil hasn’t missed a beat. It’s stronger and more resilient than ever – and it has nothing to do with OPEC oil production cuts.
In this war, U. S. oil wins, and the recent purge of billionaire princes in Saudi Arabia is icing on the cake.
But when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrested key members of the royal family on corruption charges two weeks ago all of them his rivals – oil shot up. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spiked more than $2 a barrel, closing around $57 a barrel – a nearly two-year high.
OPEC cuts have done little to boost oil prices, and Royal Family arrests are welcome news for oil tycoons the world over, but it’s still not what’s kept the U. S. on the winning side in this war: Fracking bust the U. S. through the front line, and major advancements in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) are cementing the victory.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on NOVEMBER 27, 2017.

Hillary Calls Trump Administration a Dictatorship if She is Investigated

The Washington Post has no problem with a Special Prosecutor investigating Trump and any attempt to stop that would be a crime known as Obstruction of Justice. Yet, when it comes to Hillary, they do a backflip and have the audacity to write: ‘The Justice Department’s declaration that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering appointing a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton in response to demands by Republicans should alarm anyone who cares about the independence of the department.’ So if a Special Prosecutor is ‘justice’ going after Trump and suddenly an abuse of power to investigate Hillary, to even take such a position seems to be the pinnacle of journalistic corruption.


This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Nov 26, 2017.

Fiscal Sundown In America, Part 1

The Senate Finance Committee tax bill is not supply side and it’s not even a tax cut; it’s a gimmick-ridden policy mongrel that smells to high heaven of political desperation and cynicism.
Contrary to the Donald’s delusional promise that the American people will get some tax cut sugar plums for Christmas, we are reasonably confident that this misbegotten exercise in reverse-robin hood economics won’t reach his desk. But whether it passes in some diluted form or not, we are entirely sure that what the American people are actually getting is a giant lump of fiscal coal—-courtesy of the craven capitulation of McConnell & Co to the K-Street lobbies and Wall Street.
And we do mean craven in the very fullest sense of beltway mendacity. Come to think of it, we have witnessed few exercises in raw partisan brinksmanship that were as meretricious and fiscally irresponsible as the current GOP campaign to pass a tax bill—any tax bill— merely for the sake of posting a legislative victory.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Monday, November 20th, 2017.

RT & Michael Flynn: Is That The Case Mueller Is Going To Make?

With every other attempt to put together a convincing Russiagate case having failed – the indictments against Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos make no allusion to the collusion allegations at the heart of it, and the FBI has now admitted to Congressional investigators that it cannot verify the Trump Dossier, the document which appears to have triggered the whole inquiry – it seems that the pressure is now increasingly on Michael Flynn.
Shortly after the indictments against Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos I speculated that an indictment against Flynn might be pending. News that his lawyers have broken contact with the President’s lawyers hardens that suspicion. There are also rumours that Special Counsel Mueller may also be considering an indictment against his son.
The trouble is that nothing that is known about General Flynn’s activities during the 2016 election campaign give any reason to think that he was involved in any sort of illegal collusion with the Russians.
The only case that can convincingly be made against him is that he failed to register under FARA in connection with paid lobbying work he did for a foreign government. However the government in question is Turkey not Russia.
I wonder whether this may explain the otherwise highly oppressive and legally dubious decision to force RT to register under FARA as a foreign agent?
Flynn did appear on RT on a number of occasions, and did attend an RT dinner where he was famously photographed sitting at the same table as President Putin.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 24, 2017.

FBI Warns Of Growing Threat Of Left-Wing Violence

Via Greg Hunter’s USA Watchdog blog,
Best-selling author Edward Klein’s latest best-selling book is called ‘All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump.’
Klein reveals that this plot started in the Obama White House just weeks after Donald Trump won the 2016 election. Klein explains,
‘Susan Rice was invited to come to a dinner party and give the President (Obama) a plan, and her plan was to unmask the names of Donald Trump associates who had been inadvertently picked up by electronic intercepts by the National Security Agency (NSA). The names of these Americans were supposed to remain confidential. She (Susan Rice) suggested they would be unmasked, meaning they would become public, and they would be distributed widely throughout the intelligence community. Inevitably, therefore, she admitted those names would be leaked to the mainstream media (MSM), and the story would begin that there was collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians. This, of course, was always a fairytale because we have had an investigation going on for more than a year and a half, and no one has come up with a scintilla of evidence to prove that…
She (Susan Rice) wasn’t doing anything illegal, but clearly she was doing something unethical, to put it mildly, because President Obama and his national security advisor were using the intelligence community as a weapon against their political enemy Donald Trump.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 24, 2017.

In Escalating War Of Words, Saudi Crown Prince Calls Iran’s Ayatollah “New Hitler Of The Middle East”

Godwin’s law states that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1.” Saudi Arabia’s powerful, and controversial, 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who in just a few months has made more local (and foreign) enemies than most of his predecessors accumulated over a lifetime, decided he does not need to wait that long, and in a glowing interview with the New York Times‘ Thomas Friedman, which touched on everything from the accommodations of the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, to the recent power grab anti-corruption campaign, to Donald Trump, to the Saudi social and religious revolution, called the Supreme Leader of Iran ‘the new Hitler of the Middle East’, escalating the war of words between the arch-rivals. For his part, Khamenei has referred to the House of Saud as an ‘accursed tree’, and Iranian officials have accused the kingdom of spreading terrorism.
MbS, as he is also known, and who after the recent purge is also Saudi defense minister, also slapped down the ISIS card and suggested the Islamic Republic’s alleged expansion under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei needed to be confronted.
‘But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East,’ the paper quoted him as saying.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 24, 2017.

Thanksgiving 2017—Why There Is No Peace On Earth

After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later when Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the red army tanks in front of Moscow’s White House, a dark era in human history came to an end.
The world had descended into what had been a 77-year global war, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations which germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into the world war and cold war which followed inexorably thereupon.
To wit, upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped-out during that span. The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam.
We have elaborated more fully on this proposition in “The Epochal Consequences Of Woodrow Wilson’s War“, but the seminal point cannot be gainsaid. The end of the cold war meant world peace was finally at hand, yet 26 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Friday, November 24th, 2017.

Jeff Bezos and All He Owns Must Be Destroyed

There is a basic premise behind reporting .vs. editorializing — one is allegedly unbiased, although we all have our personal prejudices while the other is labeled opinion (it’s found on the opinion page and is disclosed as such.)
Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, it is now clear, in order to effect a public lobbying strategy much larger than that which Hastings “organized” and led to a five times increase in his firm’s stock price revolving around net neutrality.
That latter event occurred after ISPs, properly recognizing that he was effectively driving semi trucks over the roads built for cars and refusing to pay higher fuel taxes and license plate fees for same, or, if you prefer, opening up a 2″ water connection to a 6″ main and demanding not to be charged by the gallon, resulting in you having no water pressure, started pushing back and demanding that Netflix cover the outsized costs being imposed on said ISPs to prevent service-quality collapses to everyone, including those who didn’t want his service.
In response Hastings got a bunch of left-aligned media to whip the public into a froth and Obama’s FCC obliged by handing him tens of billions of dollars of money literally forced out of non-subscriber’s wallets.
Amazon engages in cross-subsidization of its product sales (on which he makes no profit, particularly when fulfillment along with G&A are included) with other sales, particularly in AWS, where he does. This now includes government sales of AWS which means you’re being forced to subsidize Jeff Bezos’ destruction of retailers all across the United States at literal gunpoint, along with all the jobs that go when those retailers are forced out of business.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-11-24.

Just in Time for the Holidays, Reckless States Are Coming for Your Online Purchases

If there is anything that gets demagogic politicians and pundits riled up, it’s the closing of tax loopholes, and the tax-hike demagogues might just be getting one of their wishes come December.
Bloomberg reports that most online consumers will pay sales taxes in some shape or form in the next few months.
Currently, consumers pay taxes on goods purchased straight from Amazon, but they can avoid paying taxes on goods if they purchase them through Amazon’s third-party merchants. By the start of December this could all change, as several merchants are expected to start collecting taxes in return for partial amnesty from alleged back taxes.
No stranger to inciting controversy, Donald Trump has even jumped into the fray by stating in an earlier tweet that Amazon has brought ‘great damage to tax paying retailers.’
Those in favor of closing sales-tax loopholes contend that retailers such as Amazon are supposedly responsible for tax-base erosion and other fiscal imbalances in the states that they operate in. Although well intentioned, calls for closing tax loopholes miss the mark. The underlying problems that are overlooked in this discussion are the burdensome tax policies and profligate spending programs already present in many states.
Unbeknownst to many pro-tax politicians, tax hikes not only hurt the businesses themselves through lagging production, they also hurt consumers as companies pass the costs onto consumers via higher prices on goods and services.

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

Matt Is Still Making Excuses (So Are You)

Matt Stoller and I, years ago, used to talk a fair bit on policy in the political realm. We have rather different views that could be reasonably-characterized by some “left:right”, but I think are more “socialist:libertarian”, when you get down to it.
But that’s all well and good, if you can confine your differences to policy and try to hash out how the government can function more-efficiently, which I think everyone can define as provides more benefit than it costs to a larger percentage of the population.
Of course we’ll differ on what defines “benefit” and “cost.”
The problem is that unlike my perspective on what happened, which hasn’t changed very much in quite a long time, Matt’s is basically the same perspective both the “right” and “left” hold. Here’s his perspective on where the Democrats went wrong:
It was January 1975, and the Watergate Babies had arrived in Washington looking for blood. The Watergate Babies – as the recently elected Democratic congressmen were known – were young, idealistic liberals who had been swept into office on a promise to clean up government, end the war in Vietnam, and rid the nation’s capital of the kind of corruption and dirty politics the Nixon White House had wrought. Richard Nixon himself had resigned just a few months earlier in August. But the Watergate Babies didn’t just campaign against Nixon; they took on the Democratic establishment, too. Newly elected Representative George Miller of California, then just 29 years old, announced, ‘We came here to take the Bastille.’
One of their first targets was an old man from Texarkana: a former cotton tenant farmer named Wright Patman who had served in Congress since 1929. He was also the chairman of the U. S. House Committee on Banking and Currency and had been for more than a decade. Antiwar liberal reformers realized that the key to power in Congress was through the committee system; being the chairman of a powerful committee meant having control over the flow of legislation. The problem was: Chairmen were selected based on their length of service. So liberal reformers already in office, buttressed by the Watergate Babies’ votes, demanded that the committee chairmen be picked by a full Democratic-caucus vote instead.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-11-24.

An Equal-Opportunity Thanksgiving Day Cartoon That Can’t Offend Anyone

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman must be worried that some of the royals rounded up during his ‘corruption crackdown’ cash grab are holding out on him. Because the Saudi prince has reportedly hired a crew of American mercenaries who haven’t hesitated to employ an array of ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques.
As the Daily Mail reports, mercenaries purportedly employed by Academi, a successor to infamous US security contractor Blackwater, have been stringing up some of MBS’s ‘guests’ at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton by their feet and savagely beating them during interrogations. The claims have spread rapidly on Arabic-language social media, and even Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun has accused MbS of using mercenaries. Still, the Daily Mail isn’t the most reputable news organization, so these reports should be taken with a grain of salt.
‘They are beating them, torturing them, slapping them, insulting them. They want to break them down,’ the source told DailyMail.com.
‘Blackwater’ has been named by DailyMail.com’s source as the firm involved, and the claim of its presence in Saudi Arabia has also been made on Arabic social media, and by Lebanon’s president.
The firm’s successor, Academi, strongly denies even being in Saudi Arabia and says it does not engage in torture, which it is illegal for any U. S. citizen to commit anywhere in the world.
The Saudi crown prince, according to the source, has also confiscated more than $194 billion from the bank accounts and seized assets of those arrested, and could eventually end up with $800 billion in cash and assets to replenish Saudi’s rapidly diminishing reserves. Given the febrile atmosphere in the kingdom, and the tacit support for the crackdown among Saudi citizens, who have seen their jobs and generous government subsidies cut, MbS has been able to circumvent the country’s legal system.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 23, 2017.

Jamie Dimon Bets Trump Will Last Only One Term As President

In an October 2017 interview, Jamie Dimon famously lambasted Bitcoin as a ‘fraud’ and the people who bought it as ‘stupid’ which, temporarily, halted the ascent in the Bitcoin price. It also led to much heated debate in the mainstream media and much anger across the crypto community. In a just as incendiary follow up, Dimon sat down for another interview, this time as ‘The Economic Club of Chicago’.
We wondered whether he would confirm recent reports that JPMorgan Chase would buy and sell Bitcoin futures for clients after the upcoming launch on the CME. Sadly, he wasn’t pressed on this question. Instead, he had some striking comments about the longevity of Trump’s Presidency, as Reuters reports.
Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co, on Wednesday said he expects to see a new U. S. president in 2021 and advised the Democratic party to come up with a ‘pro-free enterprise’ agenda for jobs and economic growth instead. Asked at a luncheon hosted by The Economic Club of Chicago how many years Republican President Donald Trump will be in office, Dimon said, ‘If I had to bet, I’d bet three and half. But the Democrats have to come up with a reasonable candidate … or Trump will win again.’
Dimon, who in the past has described himself as ‘barely’ a Democrat, has been going to Washington more often since the 2016 elections to lobby lawmakers on issues including changes in corporate taxes, immigration policies and mortgage finance.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 23, 2017.

Alwaleed Bin Talal Reportedly Hung Upside Down And Beaten By US Mercenaries

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman must be worried that some of the royals rounded up during his ‘corruption crackdown’ cash grab are holding out on him. Because the Saudi prince has reportedly hired a crew of American mercenaries who haven’t hesitated to employ an array of ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques.
As the Daily Mail reports, mercenaries purportedly employed by Academi, a successor to infamous US security contractor Blackwater, have been stringing up some of MBS’s ‘guests’ at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton by their feet and savagely beating them during interrogations. The claims have spread rapidly on Arabic-language social media, and even Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun has accused MbS of using mercenaries. Still, the Daily Mail isn’t the most reputable news organization, so these reports should be taken with a grain of salt.
‘They are beating them, torturing them, slapping them, insulting them. They want to break them down,’ the source told DailyMail.com.
‘Blackwater’ has been named by DailyMail.com’s source as the firm involved, and the claim of its presence in Saudi Arabia has also been made on Arabic social media, and by Lebanon’s president.
The firm’s successor, Academi, strongly denies even being in Saudi Arabia and says it does not engage in torture, which it is illegal for any U. S. citizen to commit anywhere in the world.
The Saudi crown prince, according to the source, has also confiscated more than $194 billion from the bank accounts and seized assets of those arrested, and could eventually end up with $800 billion in cash and assets to replenish Saudi’s rapidly diminishing reserves. Given the febrile atmosphere in the kingdom, and the tacit support for the crackdown among Saudi citizens, who have seen their jobs and generous government subsidies cut, MbS has been able to circumvent the country’s legal system.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 23, 2017.