by Zero Hedge - December 10th, 2016 9:11 am
Overnight the media propaganda wars escalated after the late Friday release of an article by the Washington Post (which recently admitted to promoted fake news itself in an attempt to smear other so-called “fake news” sites) according to which a secret CIA assessment found that Russia sought to tip last month’s U.S. presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor, a conclusion that drew an extraordinary rebuke from the president-elect’s camp.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump’s transition team said, launching a broadside against the spy agency. “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’ ”
The Washington Post report comes after outgoing President Barack Obama ordered a review of all cyberattacks that took place during the 2016 election cycle, amid growing calls from Congress for more information on the extent of Russian interference in the campaign. The newspaper cited officials briefed on the matter as saying that individuals with connections to Moscow provided WikiLeaks with email hacked from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief and others.
Without a shred of evidence provided, and despite Wikileaks’ own official denial that the source of the emails was Russian, the WaPo attack piece claims the email messages were steadily leaked out via WikiLeaks in the months before the election, damaging Clinton’s White House run.
The Russians’ aim was to help Donald Trump win and not just undermine the U.S. electoral process, the paper reported.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” the newspaper quoted a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation last week to key senators as saying. “That’s the consensus view.”
CIA agents told the lawmakers it was “quite clear” – although it was not reported exactly what made it “clear” – that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to officials who spoke to the Post, citing growing evidence from multiple sources.
And yet, key questions remain unanswered, and the CIA’s report fell short of being a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies the newspaper said,
by Zero Hedge - December 9th, 2016 10:00 pm
Given his cabinet picks so far, it’s reasonable to assume that The Donald finds hanging out with anyone who isn’t a billionaire (or at least a multimillionaire) a drag. What would there be to talk about if you left the Machiavellian class and its exploits for the company of the sort of normal folk you can rouse at a rally? It’s been a month since the election and here’s what’s clear: crony capitalism, the kind that festers and grows when offered public support in its search for private profits, is the order of the day among Donald Trump’s cabinet picks. Forget his own “conflicts of interest.” Whatever financial, tax, and other policies his administration puts in place, most of his appointees are going to profit like mad from them and, in the end, Trump might not even wind up being the richest member of the crew.
Only a month has passed since November 8th, but it’s already clear (not that it wasn’t before) that Trump’s anti-establishment campaign rhetoric was the biggest scam of his career, one he pulled off perfectly. As president-elect and the country’s next CEO-in-chief, he’s now doing what many presidents have done: doling out power to like-minded friends and associates, loyalists, and — think John F. Kennedy, for instance — possibly family.
Here, however, is a major historical difference: the magnitude of Trump’s cronyism is off the charts, even for Washington. Of course, he’s never been a man known for doing small and humble. So his cabinet, as yet incomplete, is already the richest one ever. Estimates of how loaded it will be are almost meaningless at this point, given that we don’t even know Trump’s true wealth (and will likely never see his tax returns). Still, with more billionaires at the doorstep, estimates of the wealth of his new cabinet members and of the president-elect range from my own guesstimate of about $12 billion up to $35 billion. Though the process is as yet incomplete, this already reflects at least a quadrupling of the wealth represented by Barack Obama’s cabinet.
Trump’s version of a political and financial establishment, just forming, will be bound together by certain behavioral patterns born of relationships among those of similar status, background, social position,
by Zero Hedge - December 9th, 2016 9:30 pm
India continues to stagger from bad to worse followinhg Modi’s demonetization. With just 35% of ATMs nationwide operational, Goldman warns the shortage of cash continues to incentivize the use of alternate payments, including extension of informal credit and a return to barter systems. Addtionally, the slowdown in activity is dramatically reflected in lower tax collections and discounts offered by luxury car companies.
Goldman Sachs recently introduced their India ‘De-monetization dashboard’ in which they track the progress of the Indian government’s recent currency reform announced on November 8 via a variety of high-frequency data, including money supply, credit/deposit, interest rates, physical asset premia, real economic activity, price indicators and capital flows.
This week’s update shows that cash availability at ATMs is still low. On real economic activity, there were no major data releases this week. However, PMIs and auto sales data released last week suggested a significant slowdown in activity. Separately, anecdotal evidence suggested continued weakness in activity as shown in the lower indirect tax collections and various discounts given by luxury car companies.
Trends in Google searches for key financial terms in India
Source: Google, Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research
Real activity indicators
On real activity, no major data was released this week. However, last week, India’s Nikkei Markit manufacturing PMI moderated in November after rising to a 22-month high in October (Exhibit 3). The weakness was across the board, suggesting softening in manufacturing activity post the de-monetization announcement on November 8. The Nikkei Markit services PMI also dropped sharply in November driven by a significant decline in new business, also indicating the potential impact of the cash shortage.
Separately, industry-wide November auto sales (Exhibit 4) showed commercial vehicle sales declined by over 18% mom s.a., car sales declined by 4% mom s.a. and two-wheeler sales dropped by 15% mom s.a. Furthermore, registrations of motor vehicle have fallen since November 2016.
Exhibit 3: India’s composite PMI declined sharply in November led by weak services PMI
(December data only partial month)
The latest anecdotal evidence (Exhibit 6) suggests continued weakness in activity during the fourth week post announcement of de-monetization. The slowdown in activity is reflected in lower tax collections and discounts offered by luxury car companies.
Exhibit 6: Real activity anecdotal evidence
Source: Live Mint, The Economic Times, Times
by Zero Hedge - December 9th, 2016 9:00 pm
The current controversy is different. Many people in Washington are irate over Wikileaks — not because the email were untrue but because they proved what many had long suspected . . . that Washington is a highly corrupt place full of truly despicable people. For people who make their living on controlling media and information, it was akin to the barbarians breaching the walls of Rome. So the answer is to call for government regulation to combat what will be declared “fake” news or propaganda. It is only the latest effort to convince people to surrender their rights and actually embrace censorship.
– From Jonathan Turley’s: Washington Post Issues Correction To “Fake News” Story
Watching Hillary Clinton attack “fake news” and calling for legislative action against free speech she doesn’t like got me thinking. Why is she doing this? Yes, it’s obviously related to her notorious personality trait of never taking responsibility for anything and attaching herself to an invented controversy in order to deflect blame for her monumentally embarrassing loss to Donald Trump. But there’s more going on here. A lot more.
To set the stage, we need to examine the types of people who are most jumping on the “fake news” meme. What you’ll find is that it’s a who’s who of the most contemptible and corrupt people in America. As Glenn Greenwald so accurately noted in his piece published earlier today:
Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.
But the problem here goes way beyond mere hypocrisy. Complaints about Fake News are typically accompanied by calls for “solutions” that involve censorship and suppression, either by the government or tech giants such as Facebook. But until there is a clear definition of “Fake News,” and until it’s recognized that Fake News is being aggressively spread by the very people most loudly complaining about it, the dangers posed by these solutions will be at least as great as the problem itself.
Just in case you think the above is an exaggeration, is there an individual in America more distrusted and more widely viewed as a compulsive liar than Hillary Clinton? The list of her outright lies
by Zero Hedge - December 9th, 2016 8:57 pm
The warm blanket that democrats wrap themselves in at night is a dream that angry white men will die off in large enough numbers so that a true renaissance of psychotic illiberals — like Jennifer Rubin — can rise to power and lead America into the next phase towards its ultimate demise. It’s a very potent and divisive thing for journalists to say, pretending to know the spirit and soul of men based upon the color of their skin. The lie, or fake news, of massive hordes of white men descending from their trailer park thrones on election night to vote for Trump, en masse, is a myth.
The same, so called racist, white men were the good folks who voted for Obama twice, once in 2008 and again in 2012 — so there’s always that.
Specifically tackling the argument of who voted for Trump, the numbers don’t lie. He received less white votes than Romney and 3x the amount of black Americans. Perhaps the very nervous and mentally addled Jennifer Rubin should set aside her confirmation bias prior to making scathing allegations about a race of people. Then again, it’s rather trendy to deride and to shame white people these days, isn’t it?
Jennifer Rubin and her ilk are perfect examples of why democrats have lost over 900 legislative offices over the past 6 years and hold just 11 governorships. The party, literally, is dying. When it comes to the discussion of race and moving on, I believe Morgan Freeman had the best public response to a journalist in recent times. It was short, poignant, and absolutely true.
Content originally generated at iBankCoin.com
by Zero Hedge - December 9th, 2016 8:30 pm
The headlines tell us that the Dow Jones is up around 1,000 points since Donald Trump won the election on November 8th. The conventional wisdom is that this shows how much confidence people have in Trump’s ability to generate a healthy American economy. The argument is that if people are willing to buy stock in American firms, this indicates their belief that those firms will see improving profits over the next few years. They then draw the conclusion that more profitable firms indicate a healthier American economy.
Although this argument is correct about stock prices reflecting an increasing belief in the profitability of US firms, it makes a major error in assuming that profitable firms necessarily mean a better economy.
The Economy Isn’t A Thing
First, it’s important to understand that phrases like “a healthier economy” are themselves problematic. The “economy” is not the thing we should be concerned about. In fact, in some fundamental sense there’s no such thing as “the economy.” As Russ Roberts and John Papola memorably put it in the music video “Fight of the Century:”
The economy’s not a car.
There’s no engine to stall.
No experts can fix it.
There’s no “it” at all.
The economy is us
Things are not “good/bad for the economy.” They are good or bad for the people who comprise the market process, specifically in our capacity as consumers. All the economy amounts to is people engaging exchanges in order to better satisfy their wants. What we should care about is whether or not people are able to better satisfy those wants.
And “better satisfy” here means not just more and better goods and services, but at cheaper prices too. Lower prices mean that consumers have income left over to purchase goods they otherwise couldn’t, enabling them to better satisfy their wants by satisfying more of them.
In a genuinely free market, the profitability of firms is a good reflection of their ability to better satisfy the wants of consumers. Our willingness to pay for their goods and services reflects the fact that we receive value from those products, so their profits are at least a general signal of having created that value and satisfied consumer wants.
by Zero Hedge - December 9th, 2016 8:00 pm
About a month ago we warned that declining used car prices could spell disaster for subprime auto securitizations (see “Slumping Used Car Prices Spell Disaster For Subprime Auto Securitizations“). While it’s always difficult to predict the exact timing of when bubbles will burst, a combination of record-high lease returns in 2017 and 2018, combined with rising interest rates could imply that the auto bubble is on the precipice.
As Bloomberg recently pointed out, strong used car pricing is a critical component required to prop up the overall auto market. While American’s love their brand new cars, if used car prices become too soft then substitution can hurt new car sales. Add to that the impact of falling residual values on the finance arms of the auto OEMs and you have all the ingredients required for an auto market meltdown.
Thanks in part to low interest rates, leasing has become an increasingly popular way to drive away a new car. It accounts for almost a third of all new car transactions in the U.S. and it’s also huge in the U.K., as I explained here. For BMW and Mercedes-Benz in particular, it’s been a boon for sales.
Typically a lease lasts about three years, after which the customer returns to the showroom for another vehicle — which is when things could get difficult for the industry.
“There’s going to be a lot of units coming back over the next several years,” Ford Motor Co. warned last month. “They’re going to get to levels that we have never seen on an absolute basis in the industry before”.
In 2017, about one million more off-lease vehicles will be available in the U.S. compared with 2015. That additional volume will put downward pressure on used car prices.
If cars depreciate too quickly, consumers will be unwilling to pay high prices for new vehicles. High residual values also help to keep monthly lease payments low. In other words, if used car prices fall, the whole system comes unstuck: automakers’ earnings will likely fall and car finance companies (often a subsidiary of the manufacturer) may have to book writedowns on the value of their leased assets.
As the following chart depicts, with nearly 1mm more cars coming off lease
by Zero Hedge - December 9th, 2016 7:30 pm
The wailing and keening over the choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA appears to be a lead indicator of a coming revolution far beyond Reagan’s.
“Trump Taps Climate Skeptic For Top Environmental Post,” said The Wall Street Journal. “Climate Change Denial,” bawled a disbelieving New York Times, which urged the Senate to put Pruitt in a “dust bin.”
Clearly, though his victory was narrow, Donald Trump remains contemptuous of political correctness and defiant of liberal ideology.
For environmentalism, as conservative scholar Robert Nisbet wrote in 1982, is more than the “most important social movement” of the 20th century. It is a militant and dogmatic faith that burns heretics.
“Environmentalism is well on its way to becoming the third great wave of redemptive struggle in Western history,” wrote Nisbet, “the first being Christianity, the second modern socialism.” In picking a “climate denier” to head EPA, Trump is rejecting revealed truth.
Yet, as with his choices of Steve Bannon as White House strategist and Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, he has shown himself to be an unapologetic apostate to liberal orthodoxy.
Indeed, with his presidency, we may be entering a post-liberal era.
In 1950, literary critic Lionel Trilling wrote, “In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.”
The rise of the conservative movement of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan revealed liberalism’s hour to be but a passing moment. Yet, today, something far beyond conservatism seems to be afoot.
As Hegel taught, in the dialectic of history the thesis calls into existence the antithesis. What we seem to be seeing is a rejection, and a counterreformation against the views and values that came out of the social and political revolutions of the 1960s.
Consider the settled doctrine Trump disrespected with Pruitt.
We have long been instructed that climate change is real, that its cause is man-made, that it imperils the planet with rising seas, hurricanes and storms, that all nations have a duty to curb the release of carbon dioxide to save the world for future generations.
This is said to be “scientific truth,” and “climate deniers” are like
by Zero Hedge - December 9th, 2016 7:07 pm
Earlier this week we warned that as the trend to robotization accelerates, millions of (mostly) low-skilled American jobs will be lost in the next five years, replaced by robots as companies seek to maintain high profit margins in a time of rising wages and growing inflation. One company, however, can not wait that long.
British outsourcing giant Capita, a company whose contracts include collecting the BBC license fee, is preparing to fire thousands and replace them with robots after clients cut spending following Brexit vote in a move some fear will be repeated across the country, leading to more than 1 million job losses according to the Guardian. Capita, a FTSE 100-listed firm that also runs the London congestion charge, said it needed to axe 2,000 jobs as part of a cost-cutting drive in response to poor trading. The company said it would use the money it saved to fund investment into robotic workers across the whole company.
The announcement has led to more concerns the world is a facing fourth industrial revolution powered by artificial intelligence (AI) which will result in unprecedented job losses.
According to RT, a study published by Oxford University and consultancy firm Deloitte in October predicted there is a 77 percent probability Britain will lose 1.3 million “repetitive and predictable” administrative and operative jobs within 15 years. More than 850,000 public sector jobs – including teachers, social workers and even police officers – could also be replaced by computer programs. British MPs warned in October the government is unprepared for the coming technological revolution; the same can be said about the US.
The Science Technology Committee said the government’s role in preparing for the impact of AI is “lacking” and cautioned that “science fiction is slowly becoming science fact, and robotics and AI look destined to play an increasing role in our lives over the coming decades.”
Capita saw its shares drop to a 10 year low at one point following its December statement, in which the company announced it would be selling off assets and trimming costs to protect its balance sheet after Brexit. The company will use robots to help eliminate human error and make decisions faster, said chief executive Andy Parker. Parker is in no immediate danger of being
by Zero Hedge - December 9th, 2016 6:30 pm
For all the shock, horror, and aghast of global warm-ongers, comes a startling revelation: It’s Irrelevant if US Pulls Out of Paris Accord.
Donald Trump has sent his clearest message yet about his plans for reshaping US policy on global warming by choosing a chief environmental regulator who has questioned the science of climate change.
But leading experts say the nomination of Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney-general as head of the Environmental Protection Agency and the policy he pursues, may have less effect than many imagine on global greenhouse gas emissions.
Analysis by PwC, the financial services firm, shows G20 countries need to reduce their carbon intensity — the amount of carbon dioxide they emit for every dollar of GDP they produce — by an annual average of 3 per cent to meet their Paris agreement targets.
Even if the US abandoned the deal it would have a limited direct impact on the overall G20 effort. If all other countries stayed on track to meet their carbon targets, but the US returned to business as usual, the average annual cut for the G20 as a whole would only fall slightly, from 3 per cent to 2.8 per cent.
That is chiefly because of market developments such as the US shale gas boom that has squeezed out coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, a situation some think unlikely to change no matter what Mr Trump does.
“The impact on the global emissions projection is pretty small even if the US shelves its Paris target,” said Jonathan Grant, a director of climate and sustainability at PwC.
He emphasised the contribution of market and technological shifts to tackling emissions growth adding “it’s doubtful that can be thrown into reverse by one country”.
- On November 10 the New York Times posted Donald Trump Could Put Climate Change on Course for ‘Danger Zone’
- On October 7, Paul Krugman asked What About the Planet?
Ridiculousness From Trump
As ridiculous as those positions are, this one by Trump is far more ridiculous.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012