by Zero Hedge - November 30th, 2015 8:00 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
It’s an unfortunate truth that, when people are worried about the future, they often put their faith in politicians to somehow make everything better.
Politicians, of course, are famous for promising panaceas for whatever is troubling voters, and they even invent new troubles to worry about, presenting themselves as the only ones who can solve these woes.
Not surprising then, that, over time, any nation may slowly deteriorate into a population of nebbishes who turn to their government to do their thinking for them and take responsibility for their futures.
In the last year, the world has seen many elections in which the top spot (president, prime minister, premier, etc.) was contested. In Brazil, socialist President Dilma Rousseff was returned, but almost immediately ran into trouble over a failing economy, scandals, and corruption charges. In less than a year, her popularity sank to the lowest level for any Brazilian president on record.
In the UK, conservative Prime Minister David Cameron was returned, which immediately triggered riots in London by the anti-austerity crowd. He will soon be facing increasingly angry voters of all stripes who are boiling over with the dramatically worsening immigration question. In addition, he’ll soon be facing a referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU – an eventuality he’s been postponing for quite some time.
In Canada, voters have chosen to oust the conservatives and return to the golden promises of the Trudeaus. The Canadian dollar dropped immediately. Justin Trudeau plans a vast programme of public spending in the face of a declining economy, but hasn’t offered any explanation as to how this can be paid for.
Argentina has just had its election. The departing Peronist, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has passed the baton (and a failing economy, rapidly declining peso, and civil unrest) to the more conservative Mauricio Macri.
Do we see a pattern here? No, except in the sense that countries habitually put in a conservative for a while, tire of him, and replace him with a liberal, then tire of him, and replace him with a conservative.
None of these leaders will be the solution to the problems of their nations. In fact, they are the problem. Each of them (and many others around the world) offered dramatic, unrealistic campaign promises for ever-increasing…
by Zero Hedge - November 30th, 2015 7:30 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
Regular readers are by now well acquainted with Bilal Erdogan, the son of Turkish autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Although Erdogan senior masquerades as President of a democratic society, he is in reality a despot who just weeks ago, capped off a four-month effort to nullify an undesirable ballot box outcome by scaring the electorate into throwing more support behind the ruling AKP in a do-over vote designed specifically to undermine the pro-Kurdish HDP, which put up a strong showing in the last round of elections, held in June.
As the world’s interest in Islamic State’s illicit oil trade has grown over the past 60 or so days, so too has the scrutiny on how the group gets its stolen crude to market. In the seven days since Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian border, Moscow has done its best to focus the world’s collective attention on the connection between ISIS and Turkey. It’s common knowledge among those who pay attention to such things that Ankara is part of an alliance that includes Riyadh, Doha, and Washington whose collective goal is to fund and arm the Syrian opposition. What’s up for debate is the extent to which that alliance supports ISIS and, to a lesser extent, al-Nusra.
Earlier today, Vladimir Putin explicitly accused Ankara of attempting to protect ISIS oil routes by shooting down Russian warplanes which have destroyed hundreds of Islamic State oil trucks in November.
Erdogan of course denies the allegations, but as we’ve shown, it would be very easy for Turkish smugglers to commingle ISIS and KRG crude (which, by the way, is also technically illegal), effectively using Kurdish oil to mask Turkey’s participation in the Islamic State oil trade.
Some contend that Bilal Erdogan’s marine transport company BMZ Group (which owns a Maltese shipping company) is involved in trafficking ISIS oil (see our full account here).
Here’s what Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoub said on Friday:
“All of the oil was delivered to a company that belongs to the son of Recep [Tayyip] Erdogan. This is why Turkey became anxious when Russia began delivering airstrikes against the IS infrastructure and destroyed more than 500 trucks with oil already. This really got on Erdogan and his company’s nerves. They’re importing not only oil, but wheat and
by Zero Hedge - November 30th, 2015 6:28 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
Pedro da Costa may no longer be asking Janet Yellen uncomfortable questions on behalf of the WSJ, but that doesn’t mean the Peterson Institute’s latest editorial fellow can’t opine on his favorite topic: central bankers.
In the following review of Ben Bernanke’s memoir “The Courage To Act”, Pedro has done just that, and while his review of what is contained in the book is enlightening for those who are still waiting for the deflated, “fair value” priced copy, it is Pedro’s “courage to write” what Bernanke conveniently forgot to add in his memoir, that makes this review so much more memorable than the generic sycophantic tripe written by his “access journalism” peers.
Yet the ongoing manipulation of key benchmark interest rates—which falls within the direct purview of the Fed—does not get a mention in the book. Neither do illegal foreclosures, the lack of transparency on Wall Street, banks’ concentrated political power, the revolving-door nexus of Wall Street and the regulatory world, or even the global banking system’s increasing vulnerability to financial crises (think Greece, China, Japan, Russia, Brazil, Turkey—and that’s just in the past year).
Bernanke does accept some blame for having missed the signs of looming financial disaster on his watch. But he stops well shy of a mea culpa. He says he was merely echoing the conventional wisdom of the time: that the housing bubble wouldn’t burst spectacularly and that, even if it did, the economic damage would be limited.
But at least Bernanke had the “courage” to cover everything else…
* * *
Originally posted on Book Forum, written by Pedro Nicolaci Da Costa
Anatomy of a Meltdown
Ben Bernanke’s Washington tell-all says too little, too late
Former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s new book feels more like the first of many acts than an authoritative memoir. And the main body of the narrative remains, so far as financial history is concerned, very much a work in progress.
Still, notwithstanding its provisional character, there’s no denying that The Courage to Act is a useful document. Bernanke was arguably the most powerful economic official in the world during the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression. His direct account of that event, staid though it can be, is invaluable—both for the official record and for understanding…
by Zero Hedge - November 30th, 2015 6:00 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
On August 6, 1979, Paul Volcker as the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve was determined to eliminate the terribly high inflation that had taken hold of the system. And he succeeded.
The Fed’s primary interest rate stood at 11% when Volcker entered office. By June 1981 he had hiked them all the way to 20%.
Corporate America was not impressed. Indebted farmers blockaded his building.
But the pain was relatively short-lived. And as Volcker’s victory over inflation became more apparent, markets applauded. As bond prices started to rise, stock prices joined them.
Both credit and equity markets began a multi-decade bull run.
The trend in interest rates for years has been in the other direction; rates in the US are now effectively zero, though Janet Yellen is widely expected to announce a modest tightening next month.
Over here in Europe, zero has not marked the lower bound for rates. The European Central Bank’s deposit rate stands at negative 0.2%. And they’re widely expected to cut the deposit rate even further.
These policies have consequences. One of those consequences is that government bond yields throughout Europe have gone negative.
Government bond yields with durations up to two years are now negative in Switzerland. As well as Germany. Finland. The Netherlands. Austria. Belgium. Denmark. France. Ireland. Sweden. Italy. Spain.
Regardless of how heavily and unsustainably indebted those governments are, bond investors in all of those countries are still buying bonds even though they are now guaranteed to lose money.
But if this weren’t odd enough, the weirdness has spread from bonds to cash.
From January, depositors in Alternative Bank Schweiz in Switzerland will earn negative 0.125% on bank deposits. Depositors with over 100,000 Swiss francs will earn negative 0.75%.
If you wanted to trigger a bank run, this is certainly how you might go about it.
First, drive interest rates down to zero. Then cut rates even more. At the same time, start talking about banning cash altogether.
And if you’re in the euro zone, make sure you squander seven years doing precisely nothing to restructure your banking system after its near-death experience of 2008.
What should the rational investor do in an environment of ongoing financial repression?
by Zero Hedge - November 30th, 2015 4:59 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
One week ago, gold market observers were surprised when in the span of four days, gold held in the JPM Comex vault declined by nearly 50%, starting on November 16 when the 668,498 ounces held in the vault below 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza declined precipitously to just 347,899 ounces, a new all time low.
Furthermore, as of the latest Comex activity update, on Friday the Registered gold held by JPM dropped another 2,802 ounces to a record low and virtually negligible 7,975 ounces, essentially equivalent to zero as shown in the chart below, even as JPM’s eligible gold has also been seeing a substantial decline in recent months.
But while the decline of JPM gold has long been noted, it was the latest drop in total Comex registered gold which has again raised eyebrows, and which contrary to expectations it would be replenished either from external inflows or by conversion from Eligible both of which have not happened, has instead continued to decline. According to the latest data, total Registered gold dropped by another 11% overnight to just 134,877 ounces, just over 4 tonnes and another all time low…
… and since the gold open interest remains largely unchanged, the physical gold coverage ratio, or the ratio of gold claims to Registered gold, has just hit an all time high of 294 ounces of paper for every ounces of physical.
by Zero Hedge - November 30th, 2015 4:21 pm
Submitted by EconMatters.
I have to admit that I am a news junkie. So my TV was glued to CNN on the day of the Paris terrorist attack. During its coverage, one of the CNN commentators mentioned that ISIS makes about $2 million a day in oil revenue. That piqued my curiosity and decided to find out more about ISIS oil operation.
Oil as a Strategic Weapon
According to FT, ISIS oil strategy has been long in the making since the group emerged in Syria in 2013. The group saw oil as a funding source for their vision of an Islamic state, and identified it as fundamental to finance their ambition to create a caliphate. ISIS controls most of Syria’s oil fields where it created a foothold in 2013. Crude is the militant group’s biggest single source of revenue.
ISIS has derived its financial strength from being the monopoly oil producer in a huge captive market in Syria and Iraq. Despite a US-led international coalition to fight ISIS, FT describes a “minutely managed” sprawling ISIS operation akin to a national oil company in just two years with an estimated crude production of 34,000-40,000 barrels per day (bpd).
$1.5 million a Day to Fund The Terrorist Group
The group sells most of its crude directly to independent traders at the wellhead for $20-$45 a barrel earning the group an average of $1.5 million a day. Without being able to export, ISIS brought hundreds of trucks and started to extract the oil and transport it. According to an FT interview of a local sheikh, an average of 150 trucks is filled daily with about $10,000 worth of oil per truck. Most traders can expect to make a profit of at least $10 per barrel.
Son of Turkey’s President Is In on ISIS Oil?
The arbitrage had the potential to go a lot more than $10 a barrel when oil prices were high. Russia has accused Turkey of buying ISIS oil (allegedly the son of Turkey’s President is involved, and also allegedly the U.S. is aware of it), reselling it to Japan and Israel for huge profits. Smugglers have been using boats, pumps, carrying on foot, by donkey or horse. Some…
by Zero Hedge - November 30th, 2015 4:08 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
Black Friday sales were crap (yes including online), and economic data this morning was dismal… and still stocks did not rally!!
Trannies have given up their gains for the month and The S&P is practically unchanged – as the Small Cap squeeze is very evident…
(November saw "Most Shorted" end up 0.25% – the best gain in 6 months)
As Stocks fail once again to hold the October payrolls cliff-edge…
But for November, Crude oil and Gold were the biggest losers, stocks eked out gains as the long-bond dropped modestly and EUR fell 4% against the USD…
China's afternoon session rescue bid…
Provided the pre-market ramp in futures for US markets, but the selling began as US opened…
On the day, The fabled FANGs went red… (just remember Cramer said not to sell)
And that weighed on all major indices (although Trannies were weak from the start as Crude gave up overnight ramp gains)…Small Caps broke a 5-day winning streak
The USDollar oscillate in a narrow range around unchanged today (early JPY weakness reverted)…
Even as the Offshore Yuan surged…
Treasuries rallied after China closed and accelerated as US opened…
Credit markets notably weak in November…
Commodities were mixed today…
With gold's best day in over a month…
Crude surged overnight for no good reason whatsoever aidse from algos need to run stops above Friday's shortened close, then dumped it all as US opened…
Bonus Chart: As @NanexLLC explains, 10% of all S&P 500 futures volume since midnight occurred between 15:59:50 and 16:00:10…
by Zero Hedge - November 30th, 2015 4:02 pm
Submitted by George Washington.
Indeed, the architects of the Iraq war admitted that it was illegal … and really fought for oil (and Israel).
Today, a new smoking gun has been disclosed. The Guardian notes:
Tony Blair went to war in Iraq despite a report by South African experts with unique knowledge of the country that showed it did not possess weapons of mass destruction, according to a book published on Sunday.
God, Spies and Lies, by South African journalist John Matisonn, describes how then president Thabo Mbeki tried in vain to convince both Blair and President George W Bush that toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003 would be a terrible mistake.
Mbeki’s predecessor, Nelson Mandela, also tried to convince the American leader, but was left fuming that “President Bush doesn’t know how to think”.
The claim was this week supported by Mbeki’s office, which confirmed that he pleaded with both leaders to heed the WMD experts and even offered to become their intermediary with Saddam in a bid to maintain peace.
South Africa had a special insight into Iraq’s potential for WMD because the apartheid government’s own biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programme in the 1980s led the countries to collaborate. The programme was abandoned after the end of white minority rule in 1994 but the expert team, known as Project Coast, was put back together by Mbeki to investigate the US and UK assertion that Saddam had WMD – the central premise for mounting an invasion.
Mbeki, who enjoyed positive relations with both Blair and Saddam, asked for the team to be granted access.
“Saddam agreed, and gave the South African team the freedom to roam unfettered throughout Iraq,” writes Matisonn, who says he drew on sources in Whitehall and the South African cabinet. “They had access to UN intelligence on possible WMD sites. The US, UK and UN were kept informed of the mission and its progress.”
The experts put their prior knowledge of the facilities to good use, Matisonn writes. “They already knew the terrain, because they had travelled there
by Zero Hedge - November 30th, 2015 3:55 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
Seek protection from the great threat…
by Zero Hedge - November 30th, 2015 3:40 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
Last night’s Asia action brought another warning that the global deflation cycle is accelerating. Iron ore broke below $40 per ton for the first time since the central banks kicked off the world’s credit based growth binge two decades ago; it’s now down 40% this year and 80% from its 2011-212 peak.
As the man said, however, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. That’s because the above chart is not merely reflective of too much supply and capacity growth enthusiasm in the iron ore industry or even some kind of worldwide commodity super-cycle that has gone bust.
Instead, the iron ore implosion is symptomatic of a much deeper and more destructive malady. Namely, it reflects the monumental malinvestment generated by two decades of rampant credit expansion and falsification of debt and equity prices by the world’s convoy of money printing central banks.
Since 1994 the aggregate balance sheet of the world’s central banks has expanded by 10X – rising from $2.1 trillion to $21 trillion over the period. This rise does not measure some kind of ordinary trend which temporarily got out of hand; it represents an outbreak of monetary insanity that is something totally new under the sun.
What it means is that the Fed, ECB, BOJ, People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the manifold lesser central banks bought $19 trillion of government bonds, corporate debt, ETFs and even individual equities and paid for it by hitting the electronic “print” button on their respective financial ledgers.
This central bank balance sheet expansion, in fact, represented 70% of the world’s entire GDP at the time the print-fest began in 1994. Yet as an accounting matter this monumental expansion was inherently suspect .
That’s because the asset side was mushroomed by already existing assets which had originally funded the purchase of real goods and services. By contrast, the equal and opposite liability side expansion consisted of newly bottled monetary credit conjured from thin air, representing nothing of tangible value, and most especially not savings from the prior production of real economic output.
Stated differently, the central banks substituted $19 trillion of fiat credit for $19 trillion of real savings from current income that would have otherwise been required to fund debt and equity issued by businesses, households and governments during the last two deades.