New Trump Executive Order Targets Clinton-Linked Individuals, Lobbyists And Perhaps Uranium One

The Trump Administration quietly issued an Executive Order (EO) last Thursday which allows for the freezing of US-housed assets belonging to foreign individuals or entities deemed “serious human rights abusers,” along with government officials and executives of foreign corporations (current or former) found to have engaged in corruption – which includes the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, and corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources.
Furthermore, anyone in the United States who aids or participates in said corruption or human rights abuses by foreign parties is subject to frozen assets – along with any U. S. corporation who employs foreigners deemed to have engaged in corruption on behalf of the company.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.

Mercantilism as the Economic Side of Absolutism

[This article is excerpted from An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, vol. 1, Economic Thought Before Adam Smith.] By the beginning of the 17th century, royal absolutism had emerged victorious all over Europe. But a king (or, in the case of the Italian city-states, some lesser prince or ruler) cannot rule all by himself. He must rule through a hierarchical bureaucracy. And so the rule of absolutism was created through a series of alliances between the king, his nobles (who were mainly large feudal or postfeudal landlords), and various segments of large-scale merchants or traders. “Mercantilism” is the name given by late 19th-century historians to the politicoeconomic system of the absolute state from approximately the 16th to the 18th centuries.
Mercantilism has been called by various historians or observers a “system of Power or State-building” (Eli Heckscher), a system of systematic state privilege, particularly in restricting imports or subsidizing exports (Adam Smith), or a faulty set of economic theories, including protectionism and the alleged necessity for piling up bullion in a country. In fact, mercantilism was all of these things; it was a comprehensive system of state-building, state privilege, and what might be called “state monopoly capitalism.”
As the economic aspect of state absolutism, mercantilism was of necessity a system of state-building, of big government, of heavy royal expenditure, of high taxes, of (especially after the late 17th century) inflation and deficit finance, of war, imperialism, and the aggrandizing of the nation-state. In short, a politicoeconomic system very like that of the present day, with the unimportant exception that now large-scale industry rather than mercantile commerce is the main focus of the economy. But state absolutism means that the state must purchase and maintain allies among powerful groups in the economy, and it also provides a cockpit for lobbying for special privilege among such groups.
Jacob Viner put the case well:

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 12/26/2017.

Criminal Prosecutions Are Used to Remove Opponents

I’m grinning like a Jack in the box clown today. I haven’t felt this good in a long time. I’ll be doggone if I will let anything change my mood. When you are done reading, I’m hoping you feel the same way.
In 2016, I was bummed out. The negative political crap from the election left much of the country exhausted and frustrated. I was ready to turn the corner from the daily hysteria and melodrama in the media.
In 2017 things just got worse, by December I was exhausted, mentally worn out!
Television today is a constant barrage of hateful political rhetoric, senseless murders, sexual harassment, scandals, hypocrisy, corruption, illegal immigration, violent protests, disrespecting our flag, and outrageous statements by politicians promoting class warfare. How many times have you heard someone ask, ‘What the heck happened to the country we grew up in?’ ‘What has America become?’

This post was published at The Burning Platform on December 23, 2017.

New Erdogan Decree Grants Immunity For “Suppressing Terror”, Paves Way For Militia Violence

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest batch of presidential decrees has transformed Turkey into a nation of government-endorsed militias and “anti-terror vigilantes.”
According to Ahval, Erdogan published Turkey’s latest state of emergency government decree – the country has been under a perpetual state of emergency since the summer of 2016 failed coup – in the Official Gazette on Sunday. And not only does it condone the purging of thousands of civil servants from their jobs, but, in an unprecedented escalation, grants immunity to “those who took to the streets during the coup attempt” or “assisted with suppressing terror.” Furthermore: ”Notwithstanding whether individuals hold a formal title or whether they have fulfilled a formal duty, those who have acted in the scope of suppressing the coup attempt and acts of terror on July 15, 2016, and actions that were extensions of these events” will be exempt from being put on trial for their actions.”
Of course, anyone who has been following the situation in Turkey over the past year-and-a-half (and certainly longer) knows that ‘suppressing terror’ is Erdogan’s popular euphemism for punishing or imprisoning suspected Gulenist sympathizers, and also anyone who dares to bring attention to Erdogan’s brazen corruption.
As a result, the Turkish president has been busy lately, signing a flurry of decrees that have further consolidated political power in the office of the president – a stunning reversal from the early days of Erdogan’s political career, when he was a well-regarded moderate advocating much needed government reforms.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 25, 2017.

Saudi General Reportedly Tortured To Death After Refusing To Fork Over His Fortune

Rumors that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has hired mercenaries to torture recalcitrant royals and officials sleeping in the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh have been circulating since shortly after last month’s ‘corruption crackdown’ naked cash grab.
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Now, Middle East Eye reports that one of MbS’s guests has reportedly died under torture rather than fork over his money and assets to his domineering relative. He was reportedly beaten and tortured so bad his family members had difficulty recognizing his body.
Major general Ali Alqahtani, who was detained in early November as part of an alleged anti-corruption drive, had been working in the royal guard forces.
He was the manager of the private office of Prince Turki Bin Abdullah, the son of former king Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, according to the newspaper.
Alqahtani died on 12 December after being tortured with electric shocks, and his family struggled to recognise him after receiving his body, according to sources, the newspaper reported.

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

Hysteresis In The C-Suite—-Why The GOP Tax Bill Won’t Stimulate “Growth” (Part 3)

Yesterday (Part 2) we documented the vast difference between the Reagan Tax Cut of 1981 and the GOP Tax Bill of 2017—-both as to scale and potential to stimulate supply-side growth of output, investment, jobs and earnings.
In a word, the Reagan tax cut averaged 4.0% of GDP over a decade and was predominately focused on supply-side incentives via a 25% marginal rate cut for individuals and a giant business cut. The latter would amount to $300 billion per year at today’s economic scale, and, crucially, was also tightly linked to CapEx via the 10-5-3 depreciation incentive for new plant, equipment and technology purchases.
By contrast, the current GOP Tax Cut is just one-tenth the size (o.4% of GDP) of the Reagan cut over the next decade and has virtually no supply-side incentives at all. The individual income tax cuts are temporary and reflect a Keynesian purpose to put “money in the pockets” of workers via, for instance, doubling the standard deduction and child credit.
At the same time, the heart of the GOP tax cut is a wholly misguided $1.4 trillion 10-year reduction of the corporate tax rate to 21%. But under the deformed monetary and financial conditions of the present, that will actually just put money in the brokerage accounts of the wealthy and Wall Street speculators.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Friday, December 22nd, 2017.

What The GOP Pols Have Wrought—A Fiscal, Economic And Political Monster, Part 2

In Part 1 we revived Senator Howard Baker’s famous description of the giant Reagan Tax Cut of 1981 as a “riverboat gamble”, and that it was. When the “bidding war” with the Dems ended in July 1981, the US Congress had cut the Federal revenue base by 6.2% of GDP in the outyears. At today’s economic scale that would amount to a tax cut of $1.2 trillion per year!
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By contrast, the peak year cut (FY 2019) in the current tax bill is just $280 billion. Nevertheless, we present this chart to demonstrate why today’s GOP “riverboat gamble” is actually far more dangerous than the one back then, and also why it’s capacity to actually stimulate a growth surge in the US economy is not even a pale imitation of the 1981 act.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Thursday, December 21st, 2017.

House Republicans Secretly Gathering Evidence To Launch Case Against DOJ and FBI: Report

According to Politico, a group of frustrated Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee led by Devin Nunes (R-CA) have been gathering in secret for several weeks to build a case against senior leaders of the Justice Department and the FBI for what they say is “improper” and perhaps criminal mishandling of the salacious and unproven 34-page Trump-Russia dossier, according to four sources familiar with their plans.
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A subset of the Republican members of the House intelligence committee, led by Chairman Devin Nunes of California, has been quietly working parallel to the committee’s high-profile inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. […] The people familiar with Nunes’ plans said the goal is to highlight what some committee Republicans see as corruption and conspiracy in the upper ranks of federal law enforcement. The group hopes to release a report early next year detailing their concerns about the DOJ and FBI, and they might seek congressional votes to declassify elements of their evidence. –Politico
When pressed for details, Reps Mike Conway (R-TX) and Peter King (R-NY) were mum, with Conway telling POLITICO, “I don’t want talk about what we do behind closed doors.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

Peso Pounded Most Since Election As Corruption Probe Deepens

The Mexican peso has tumbled over 3% in the last 4 days, plunging to its weakest against the USDollar since March as the ongoing corruption investigation soured market sentiment.
As we detailed yesterday, a deepening graft investigation involving Alejandro Gutierrez, a former deputy of sitting President Enrique Pena Nieto could imperil his party’s chances in the coming July elections. An ongoing scandal could also bolster the prospects of leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
“The news of this arrest scares investors,” said Jesus Lopez, a strategist at Banco Base in Monterrey, Mexico. “These days, the exchange rate is more sensitive because of low liquidity, and we already know that the peso is more vulnerable from the political side.”
And the pso is extending losses…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

Mexico’s Drug Violence: Six Corpses Found Hanging From 3 Bridges Near Tourist Location

Well-known tourist spot Los Cabos in Mexico was currently the scene of a gruesome sight, but it’s unfortunately all too common for the area. Six corpses have been found hanging from three bridges and authorities believe the deaths to be drug cartel and gang-related.
The popular resort of Los Cabos is on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula and incorporates the two towns of Cabo San Lucas and Jose del Cabo – the latter of which is the municipal seat. The economy of the area is highly driven by tourism and welcomes millions of foreign visitors every year.

This post was published at shtfplan on December 21st, 2017.

Is This Why Charlie Lee Sold His Litecoin?

Authored by Tom Luongo,
The news broke yesterday morning that Litecoin developer and outspoken founder, Charlie Lee, sold or donated all of his liquid Litecoin holdings. This prompted a big sell-off in the cryptocurrency markets, putting on pause the bounce off of the previous night’s bottom below $16000 for Bitcoin.
This comes in the wake of Coinbase adding Bitcoin Cash (BCH) to its stable of coins available for purchase, which also sent shockwaves through the markets.
In his post on reddit, Lee explained that he felt his ownership stake was actually a burden on Litecoin’s development as a real-world medium of exchange:
And whenever I tweet about Litecoin price or even just good or bads news, I get accused of doing it for personal benefit. Some people even think I short LTC! So in a sense, it is conflict of interest for me to hold LTC and tweet about it because I have so much influence. I have always refrained from buying/selling LTC before or after my major tweets, but this is something only I know. And there will always be a doubt on whether any of my actions were to further my own personal wealth above the success of Litecoin and crypto-currency in general.
The market reacted negatively to the news but only for a short time. Litecoin under Lee’s direction has been setting itself up as the day-to-day cryptocurrency. One that is easy to use, cheap, fast and easy to pay with.

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

What The GOP Pols Have Wrought—A Fiscal, Economic And Political Monster, Part 1

The GOP tax bill is not “at least something”. It’s not “better than nothing”. And, no, we are not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.
In truth, this thing is a fiscal, economic and political monster. It is hands down the worst tax bill enacted in the last half-century—-maybe even since FDR’s 1937 soak-the-rich scheme, which re-ignited the Great Depression.
True, rather than soak them, the GOP’s bill will pleasure America’s wealthy with a bountiful harvest of tax relief. Owners of public equities, for example, will garner a trillion dollar shower of extra dividends and stock buybacks from the corporate rate cut.
Likewise, 4 million top bracket ATM (alternative minimum tax) payers will be relieved of about $80 billion per year of Uncle Sam’s extractions; around 5,000 dead people per year with estates above $20 million will get to leave more behind; owners of real estate will be able to deduct another 20% of property income that isn’t already sheltered by depreciation and interest deductions; and tax accountants and lawyers will become stinking rich helping America’s proprietorships (24 million), S-corporations (4 million), partnerships (3.5 million) and farms (1.8 million) convert their “ordinary income” into newly deductible “qualified business income”.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Wednesday, December 20th, 2017.

Ethics Watchdog Finds Trudeau Vacation Violated Conflict Rules

In an unprecedented decision with potentially serious consequences for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada’s outgoing ethics watchdog Mary Dawson has ruled that Trudeau violated conflict of interest rules when he took Aga Khan’s private helicopter to the business magnate’s private island in the Bahamas during a Christmas 2016 vacation. Trudeau is the first Canadian prime minister to ever be convicted of such a violation.
According to the law, Trudeau needed to seek permission from the ethics watchdog before making such a trip – something he inexplicably failed to do. The ruling comes just weeks before the end of Dawson’s term, which is set to expire on Jan. 8.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.

The Coming Fiscal Derailment—Why FY 2019 Will Sink The Casino

Since last November 8th the Russell 2000 has risen by 30% and the net Federal debt has expanded by an astounding $1.0 trillion dollars.
In a rational world operating with honest financial markets those two results would not be found in even remotely the same zip code; and especially not in month #102 of a tired economic expansion and at the inception of an epochal pivot by the Fed to QT (quantitative tightening) on a scale never before imagined.
And we do mean exactly those words. By next April the Fed will be shrinking its balance sheet at $360 billion annual rate and by $600 billion per year as of next October.
Altogether, the Fed’s balance is scheduled to contract by upwards $2 trillion by the end of 2020. And it’s apparently on a path that is so locked-in—-barring a recession—that Janet Yellen affirmed in her swan song that the Fed’s giant bond dumping program (euphemistically called “portfolio runoff”) would no longer even be mentioned in its post-meeting statements.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017.

Litecoin Founder Cashes Out, Sells Entire Stake After 9,300% Rally

Charlie Lee, the creator of the world’s fifth-biggest cryptocurrency, Litecoin, announced shortly after midnight that he was cashing in his profits after a torrid, 9,300% rally in the past 12 months. In a post on reddit, the San Francisco-based software engineer who founded litecoin in 2013, said that he sold and donated all of his holdings over the past few days.
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“Litecoin has been very good for me financially, so I am well off enough that I no longer need to tie my financial success to Litecoin’s success. For the first time in 6+ years, I no longer own a single LTC that’s not stored in a physical Litecoin” Lee said in the post.
Lee explained that his liquidation was aimed at preventing a ‘conflict of interest’ when the creator of what is known as “Bitcoin Silver” makes comments on twitter about the digital currency – something he tends to do with chronic zeal – that could influence its price, he said. That said, Lee declined to comment in the post on how many coins he sold or at what price, and asked readers to please “don’t ask me how many coins I sold or at what price. I can tell you that the amount of coins was a small percentage of GDAX’s daily volume and it did not crash the market.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.

OPEC vs IEA: Who’s Right On Oil Prices?

Last week, the International Energy Agency made a lot of OPEC brows furrow when it warned that 2018 may not be a very happy new year for the cartel.
U. S. shale supply, the IEA said in its December Oil Market Report, is set to grow more than OPEC has estimated and this could be the undoing of the production cut that boosted prices this year.
OPEC, for its part, has insisted that U. S. shale production won’t grow as much as the IEA says, baffling some observers who now wonder who they should believe. But let’s put it another way: If the coach of a football team tells you that his team will win the cup because they’re the best, but the football association has estimated that the team is not the best one in the league, who would you believe?

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.

The RussiaGate Witch-Hunt—The Deep State’s “Insurance Policy”

There was a sinister plot to meddle in the 2016 election, after all. But it was not orchestrated from the Kremlin; it was an entirely homegrown affair conducted from the inner sanctums—the White House, DOJ, the Hoover Building and Langley—-of the Imperial City.
Likewise, the perpetrators didn’t speak Russian or write in the Cyrillic script. In fact, they were lifetime beltway insiders occupying the highest positions of power in the US government.
Here are the names and rank of the principal conspirators: John Brennan, CIA director; Susan Rice, National Security Advisor; Samantha Power, UN Ambassador; James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence; James Comey, FBI director; Andrew McCabe, Deputy FBI director; Sally Yates, deputy Attorney General, Bruce Ohr, associate deputy AG; Peter Strzok, deputy assistant director of FBI counterintelligence; Lisa Page, FBI lawyer; and countless other lessor and greater poobahs of Washington power, including President Obama himself.
To a person, the participants in this illicit cabal shared the core trait that made Obama such a blight on the nation’s well-being. To wit, he never held an honest job outside the halls of government in his entire adult life; and as a careerist agent of the state and practitioner of its purported goods works, he exuded a sanctimonious disdain for everyday citizens who make their living along the capitalist highways and by-ways of America.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Monday, December 18th, 2017.

Ramaphosa Elected President Of ANC: South African Rand Soars 4%, Biggest Jump In 2 Years

Update 2: It’s all over, and the best case outcome is now fact, with Cyril Ramaphosa elected president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress on Monday.
CYRIL RAMAPHOSA ELECTED PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA’S ANC RAMAPHOSA GETS 2440 VOTES IN S. AFRICA’S ANC LEADERSHIP VOTE Ramaphosa victory threatens President Jacob Zuma’s grip on power after the most divisive vote in the party’s history. Ramaphosa, the deputy president, defeated Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s former wife, whom the president had backed. As the FT notes, it is widely speculated that Mr Zuma lent Ms Dlamini-Zuma his support because he believed that as state president she would protect him from prosecution in a corruption case.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa campaigned on a promise to root out corruption and save the ANC from losing its majority for the first time at the 2019 election.


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.

British Parliament Chaos as Tory Rebels Try to Stop BREXIT

The Tory Rebels in the UK Parliament joined forces with Labour and the Remain Camp to defeat BREXIT in reality. They claim that Parliament will now vote on the BREXIT deal, but in reality, they have created an open door for more uncertainty and economic chaos.
The Tory rebels were Mr. Grieve, Heidi Allen, Ken Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, Stephen Hammond, Sir Oliver Heald, Nicky Morgan, Bob Neill, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston. Another Conservative MP, John Stevenson, abstained from voting in both lobbies. Meanwhile, two Labour MPs, Frank Field, and Kate Hoey voted with the government.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 18, 2017.