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.
The Mexican peso is plunging (down over 1% today) to its weakest against the dollar since March after a former deputy in the ruling party in Mexico was arrested as part of a graft inquiry. As Bloomberg reports, political uncertainty continued to weigh on the most-traded currency in emerging markets.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2017.
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”.
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.
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.
For the past couple of weeks we’ve written frequently about the sudden political turmoil in Saudi Arabia that resulted in two Saudi princes being killed in a span of just 24 hours and dozens others being detained on charges of corruption while having their bank accounts frozen. Here are couple of our most recent background posts on the topic: The Saudi Purge: The Middle-East Is On The Verge Of A New War If The Saudi Arabia Situation Doesn’t Worry You, You’re Not Paying Attention Now, per an exclusive report from Reuters, it appears as though the latest casualty of the Saudi shakeup is a financing deal sought by the $8 billion dollar Kingdom Holdings which is owned and run by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal…at least until he was recently arrested that is. Kingdom Holding’s plan to borrow money to fund new investments has stalled because owner Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been detained in Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption crackdown, according to four banking sources familiar with the matter. Kingdom 4280. SE had approached banks to obtain the loan, but the financing plan has been held up because the lenders are worried about potential repercussions if they lend to the prince’s company, the sources said. One of the sources, who was approached for the loan, said it would have been worth roughly 5 billion riyals ($1.3 billion).
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 20, 2017.
When a nation adopts a foreign currency it will typically face significant hurdles when it tries to rid itself of that currency, or de-dollarize. But Zimbabwe’s autocratic ruler Robert Mugabe has appeared to have done the impossible. After dollarizing ten years ago, over the course of the last year or two he and his cronies have managed to throw off the U. S. dollar and re-introduce a Zimbabwean replacement. We can see evidence of this new currency in Zimbabwe’s stock market. Below I’ve charted the country’s main equity index, the Zimbabwe Industrial Index, going back to 2011. What an incredible rise over the last year, right? Beware; these returns have nothing to do with real economic growth. Zimbabwean equities have switched from being claim on an a stream of cash flows denominated in U. S. dollars to a stream denominated in Zimbabwe’s new currency. Because investors expect inflation of the new currency to drive up future cash flows, they have responded by bidding stock prices up. In real terms (i.e. U. S. dollar terms), stock prices are probably flat – and may have even declined.
This post was published at GoldSeek on Monday, 20 November 2017.
The stock market rejoices the House passage of the tax ‘reform’ Bill as the Dow shot up 187 points and the S&P 500 spiked up 21. The Nasdaq soared 1.3%, retracing its 3-day decline in one day. The tax bill is nothing more than a massive redirect of money flow from the Treasury Department to Corporate America and billionaires. The middle class will not receive any tax relief from the Bill but it will shoulder the burden of the several trillion dollars extra in Treasury debt that will be required to finance the tax cuts for the wealthy. The tax ‘reform’ will have, at best, no effect on GDP. It will likely be detrimental to real economic output. The Big Money Grab is ‘on’ at the highest levels of of Wall St., DC, Corporate America, the Judiciary and State/local Govt. These people are grabbing from a dying carcass as fast and greedily as possible. The elitists are operating free from any fear of the Rule of Law. That particular nuisance does not apply to ‘them’ – only to ‘us.’ They don’t even try to hide their grand scale theft anymore because the protocol in place to prevent them from doing this is now on their side. This is the section in Atlas Shrugged leading up to the big implosion. ‘When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.’ – Atlas Shrugged
Two days after the most stunning purge in recent Saudi history, the so-called “anti-corruption probe” – which was really a countercoup – that led to the arrest of dozens of Saudi Arabian royals, ministers and businessmen allowing Mohammed to further cement control over the Kingdom, appeared to be widening on Monday when, as Reuters reports, Saudi banks begun freezing the accounts of those arrested. The Saudi central bank ordered commercial banks to freeze the accounts of people under investigation in the probe, the Reuters sources said, adding that the number of accounts affected could run into the hundreds, although the names of those affected have yet to emerge. ‘The freezing of accounts has already happened,’ said another source. ‘The freezing is a precautionary measure that will end as soon as the suspects are either charged or pronounced innocent.’ Considering that prince Alwaleed alone has over $19 billion in assets, including nearly a billion dollars in jewelry, plans, yachts, furniture and cash…
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 6, 2017.
Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, Has Donald Trump been a blessing or a curse to the architects of the American police state? One thing is for sure: a year into his presidency, Trump hasn’t done much to improve the lot of the American people. The predators of the police state are still wreaking havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government still doesn’t listen to the citizenry, it still refuses to abide by the Constitution, which is our rule of law, and it still treats the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. Police officers are still shooting unarmed citizens and their household pets. Government agents – including local police – are still being armed to the teeth and encouraged to act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies are still fleecing taxpayers. Government technicians are still spying on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors are still making a killing by waging endless wars abroad. In other words, the American police state is still alive and well and flourishing. Nothing has changed. Rather than draining the corrupt swamps of Washington, as he repeatedly promised, Trump and his brand of reality TV politics have merely redirected our attention. Trust me, the swamps are still stagnant with corruption. Indeed, we are still the unwitting victims of a system so corrupt that it spans all branches of government. We are still ruled by an elite class of individuals who are completely out of touch with the travails of the average American. We are still viewed as relatively expendable in the eyes of government: faceless numbers of individuals who serve one purpose, which is to keep the government machine running through our labor and our tax dollars. We are still being made to suffer countless abuses at the government’s hands.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 31, 2017.
The federal government is now 20.4 trillion dollars in debt, and most Americans don’t seem to care that the economic prosperity that we are enjoying today could be completely destroyed by our exploding national debt. Over the past decade, the national debt has been growing at a rate of more than 100 million dollars an hour, and this is a debt that all of us owe. When you break it down, each American citizen’s share of the debt is more than $60,000, and so if you have a family of five your share is more than $300,000. And when you throw in more than 6 trillion dollars of corporate debt and nearly 13 trillion dollars of consumer debt, it is not inaccurate to say that we are facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Debt cannot grow much faster than GDP indefinitely. At some point the bubble bursts, and when it does the pain that the middle class is going to experience is going to be off the charts. Back in 2015, the middle class in the U. S. became a minority of the population for the first time ever. Never before in our history has the middle class accounted for less than 50 percent of the population, and all over the country formerly middle class families are under a great deal of stress as they attempt to make ends meet. The following comes from an absolutely outstanding piece that was just put out by Charles Hugh Smith… If you talk to young people struggling to make ends meet and raise children, or read articles about retirees who can’t afford to retire, you can’t help but detect the fading scent of prosperity. It has steadily been lost to stagnation, under-reported inflation and soaring inequality, a substitution of illusion for reality bolstered by the systemic corruption of authentic measures of prosperity and well-being. In other words, the American-Dream idea that life should get easier and more prosperous as the natural course of progress is still embedded in our collective memory, even though the collective reality has changed. The reality that most of us are facing today is a reality where many are working two or three jobs just to make it from month to month. The reality that most of us are facing today is a reality where debts never seem to get repaid and credit card balances just continue to grow. The reality that most of us are facing today is a reality where we work day after day just to pay the bills, and yet we never seem to get anywhere financially. The truth is that most people out there are deeply struggling. The Washington Post says that the ‘middle class’ encompasses anyone that makes between $35,000 and $122,500 a year, but very few of us are near the top end of that scale…
More than nine months after the DOJ and a handful of Congressional committees launched probes into Russia’s efforts to influence the election, President Donald Trump is finally pushing back by aiding Congressional Republicans’ efforts to investigate the Clinton’s Russia ties, which are as extensive than Trump’s, if not more so. Earlier this week, he reportedly ordered the Department of Justice to lift a gag order on an FBI informant, freeing him to testify before Congressional probes into the Obama-era Uranium One deal. And just minutes ago, CNN reported that the president has made it clear to the State Department that he wants to accelerate the release of any remaining Hillary Clinton emails in its possession as soon as possible. The order comes as calls for the DOJ to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the deal are growing following the revelation that the FBI had investigated possible corruption related to Russia’s push to buy up uranium in North America, but neglected to inform Congress. That probe led to the arrest of a Russian who was head of the US-based subsidiary of Rosatom, a nuclear energy company backed by the Russian state. Three Congressional committees have launched investigations into the deal. The central question is whether Hillary Clinton and her husband entered into a quid pro quo whereby she voted in 2010 to approve the sale of 20% of US uranium supplies to Russia – and in returned received hundreds of millions of dollars for the Clinton foundation from entities with ties to the Russian government. Her husband also received a $500,000 speaking fee from a bank with ties to the Russian government.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 27, 2017.
We’ve had a seemingly never-ending parade of crony capitalists, bankers, and politicians calling bitcoin everything from a ‘fraud’ to ‘Enron’ to ‘junk.’ Yesterday, though, a big name came out on the side of bitcoin. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. Notice that while people like JP Morgan’s Jamie Demon and Mastercard CEO, Ajay Banga, have never actually created any real wealth in their lives, Wozniak played a very crucial role in the development of personal computers which has led to the internet… which led to bitcoin… which has created massive amounts of wealth and freedom for the world.
What keeps people up at night? For ordinary folks it tends to be ordinary things. You think you might have cancer. You fear your kid is going to screw up big-time and wind up pregnant and alone, in prison or dead. You fear an approaching hurricane; you have no money to evacuate nor can you rebuild if your home gets destroyed, as you couldn’t afford insurance. For people with lots of money and power all those ordinary things really don’t bother them very much. The kid-based fears are still real, but you can buy their way out of most — but not all — of those. The others? Meh. Look at Steve Jobs, who got cancer and yet he both extended his life and finagled a transplant that nobody else could have managed, simply because he was rich. Yes, the cancer got him anyway but it would have gotten anyone else a hell of a lot faster. Hurricane? Into the G-IV we go and call the insurance company. There are a number of wrecked multi-million dollar yachts in SE Florida right now that could have been moved before the hurricanes came, but weren’t — they were left inadequately secured and were, as expected, destroyed. The (almost-certainly rich) owners basically sold their boats to the insurance company; it happens in every big storm and is why premiums spike like mad as soon as we are hit by one. In the worst case (e.g. Richard Branson) you hide in your wine cellar and then rebuild when it’s over — you have both insurance and money, never mind other places to live while your palace is restored to its former glory. No, what these people fear is the sort of thing that just happened with Harvey Weinstein. Not so much that Harvey blew up, of course, but rather instead of being contained to him, it is spreading like the fire from a match tossed on a pile of dry straw in a barn. There are myriad people who have pulled the same crap for decades and suddenly the “social contract” (read: payoffs) that locked up the voices of all of those who were abused has been shattered. It’s a social mood shift and it brings the hammer down — hard.
While the mainstream media has largely ignored it, the scandal surrounding Russian efforts to acquire 20% of America’s uranium reserves, a deal which was ultimately approved by the Obama administration, and more specifically the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) which included Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder, is becoming more problematic for Democrats by the hour. As The Hill pointed out earlier this morning, the latest development in this sordid tale revolves around a man that the FBI used as an informant back in 2009 and beyond to build a case against a Russian perpetrator who ultimately admitted to bribery, extortion and money laundering. The informant, who is so far only known as “Confidential Source 1,” says that when he attempted to come forward last year with information that linked the Clinton Foundation directly to the scandal he was promptly silenced by the FBI and the Obama administration. Working as a confidential witness, the businessman made kickback payments to the Russians with the approval of his FBI handlers and gathered other evidence, the records show. Sources told The Hill the informant’s work was crucial to the government’s ability to crack a multimillion dollar racketeering scheme by Russian nuclear officials on U. S. soil that involved bribery, kickbacks, money laundering and extortion. In the end, the main Russian executive sent to the U. S. to expand Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear business, an executive of an American trucking firm and a Russian financier from New Jersey pled guilty to various crimes in a case that started in 2009 and ended in late 2015.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 18, 2017.
As the media continues to lose their collective minds over $100,000 worth of Facebook ads allegedly purchased by Russians during the 2016 election, the Senate Judiciary Committee has finally decided they’re going to take a look into a shady Russian deal that handed Putin 20% of America’s uranium reserves, was approved by the Obama administration during an ongoing FBI investigation into charges of bribery, extortion and money laundering by the Russian buyer and netted the Clintons millions of dollars in donations and ‘speaking fees.” Here’s more from The Hill: The Senate Judiciary Committee has launched a full-scale probe into a Russian nuclear bribery case, demanding several federal agencies disclose whether they knew the FBI had uncovered the corruption before the Obama administration in 2010 approved a controversial uranium deal with Moscow. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee chairman, gets his first chance to raise the issue in public on Wednesday when he questions Attorney General Jeff Sessions during an oversight hearing. Though the hearing was scheduled for other purposes, aides said they expected Grassley to ask Sessions questions about a story published in The Hill on Tuesday that disclosed the FBI had uncovered evidence showing Russian nuclear officials were engaged in a racketeering scheme involving bribes, kickbacks and money laundering designed to expand Russian President Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business on U. S. soil. “It has recently come to the Committee’s attention that employees of Rosatom were involved in a criminal enterprise involving a conspiracy to commit extortion and money laundering during the time of the CFIUS transaction,” Grassley wrote in one such letter addressed to Sessions.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 18, 2017.
Barack Obama’s bribery plot with the Russian government has been uncovered by the FBI. Right before this bribery occurred, Obama approved a very controversial nuclear deal with Moscow that will turn the ‘Russian meddling’ narrative on its head. According to government documents and interviews, before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States. Federal agents used a confidential U. S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show. They also obtained an eyewitness account – backed by documents – indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U. S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.
This post was published at shtfplan on October 17th, 2017.
Recent federal criminal charges of conspiracy and wire fraud brought against four assistant college basketball coaches and executives from Adidas seem to be popular in the mainstream media, judging from the numerous articles I have seen about the story. For that matter, even some libertarians, noting their belief that college sports are ‘corrupt,’ are cheering on federal authorities. I am not one of the cheerleaders for this latest intrusion of federal criminal law into what essentially is peaceful, private activity, National Collegiate Athletic Association rules aside. While most journalists seem to see this as an example of federal authorities riding in on their white horses to save college basketball from the scourge of ‘corruption,’ I see this as the government destroying lives for no good reason and protecting the sources of the real corruption at the same time. Far from ‘cleaning up’ major college sports, this is a classic bait-and-switch operation in which federal authorities are conspiring to redirect resources from those that should have it (if we actually hold to the belief that individuals should be compensated for their contribution of added wealth to the economy), all the while claiming they are ‘protecting’ the very people being robbed. As Gary North recently pointed out, the NCAA is a cartel – a multi-billion-dollar cartel, I would add – that claims to be protecting the ‘holy’ principle of ‘amateur athletics.’ All the while, it’s ensuring that the main factor of production for collegiate sports – the labor of individual collegiate athletes – receives minimal or even no compensation at all. The current compensation scheme – athletic ‘scholarships’ for athletes – is tantamount to a rule that states that Kevin Durant, the 2017 Most Valuable Player for the National Basketball Association, can receive compensation only equal to that of the lowest-paid player in the NBA, while NBA coaches and executives run off with the majority of the funds generated by professional basketball.
Conflicts of interest exist in almost every business model…just ask the former AIG execs who bought trillions of dollars worth of mortgage CDO risk that they were told was worthy of a AAA rating. But when you read a car review to help figure out which set of wheels you’re going to buy next, you would probably prefer that the writer of that review not be receiving payments, cash or otherwise, directly from the company producing the vehicle he’s reviewing, right? Unfortunately, that’s not so much the case when it comes to Tesla. While it’s no surprise that the writers of Electrek are big Tesla cheerleaders, as Jack Baruth of TTAC points out today, what may be surprising is just how much those writers receive from Tesla via their very generous referral program in return for their perpetually rosy commentary.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 29, 2017.
Barack Obama is funding the anti-Trump movement through a series of backdoor deals and policies. Wall Street may be surprised to learn that it is also helping bankroll the anti-Trump ‘resistance’ whether they wanted to or not. Wall Street is fighting policies which would heavily favor it, including corporate tax cuts and the repeal of Obama-era banking and health-care regulations. We have the Obama administration to thank for the harsh anti-Trump movement by far left groups, according to an article by the New York Post. The Obama administration’s massive shakedown of Big Banks over the mortgage crisis included unprecedented back-door funding for dozens of Democratic activist groups who were not even victims of the crisis. At least three liberal nonprofit organizations the Justice Department approved to receive funds from multibillion-dollar mortgage settlements were instrumental in killing the ObamaCare repeal bill and are now lobbying against GOP tax reform, as well as efforts to rein in illegal immigration. An estimated $640 million has been diverted into what critics say is an improper, if not unconstitutional, ‘slush fund’ fed from government settlements with JPMorgan Chase and Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., according to congressional sources. The payola is potentially earmarked for third-party interest groups approved by the Justice Department and HUD without requiring any proof of how the funds will be spent. Many of the recipients so far are radical leftist organizations who solicited the settlement cash from the administration even though they were not parties to the lawsuits, records show. ‘During the Obama administration, groups committed to ‘revolutionary social change’ sent proposals and met with high-level HUD and Justice Department officials to try to get their pieces of the settlement pie,’ Cause of Action Institute vice president Julie Smith told The Post. -New York Post
This post was published at shtfplan on September 25th, 2017.