The questions on my mind are: How many trillions of dollars do we have to spend, how many lives need to be wasted, and how much longer are we going to be involved in the boondoggle known as Afghanistan?
President Barack Obama faces renewed concern about his Afghanistan war strategy after leaked military documents suggested Pakistan’s main intelligence agency secretly aided the Taliban and others the U.S is trying to defeat.
Disclosure of the documents, as Congress this week considers funding for the U.S. troop buildup in Afghanistan, underscored questions about the war while many lawmakers prepare to go home to campaign in August.
Some of the 92,000 classified reports, disclosed July 25 by the website Wikileaks, say that members of Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence Directorate helped the Taliban and other Islamic rebels. The documents, covering 2004 through 2009, were reported by the New York Times, the London-based Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel, which said Wikileaks provided them the reports three weeks ago.
The leaked documents “raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat. “Those policies are at a critical stage,” and the documents “make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent.”
“I’ve been to a number of briefings and I’ve always been provided a more upbeat picture than the one” depicted by the documents, said Representative James McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat who opposes Obama’s Afghan policy. “The picture that is painted here is not pretty.”
Obama announced in December plans to send another 30,000 combat troops to Afghanistan, and Congress is under pressure to pass legislation paying for the buildup before taking its monthlong summer recess. Obama has said he will start to draw down U.S. forces in July 2011 and give more security responsibility to the Afghans, depending on conditions.
Polls show support for the war waning. Almost 6 in 10 respondents in a Bloomberg National Poll conducted July 9-12 said Afghanistan is a lost cause.
Also, 60 percent of Americans surveyed thought the withdrawal of forces should start in July 2011 even if the situation in
“For want of a nail . . . the kingdom was lost.” Will Greece’s debt crisis lead to a Greek debt default and the collapse of the euro and an ensuing collapse of the 27-member European Union (or EU), and trigger the next round of crashes that will be described by economic historians decades from now as “the Great Depression II”? The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo, Serbia brought the tensions between Austria-Hungary and Serbia to a head. In turn, it is said this triggered a chain of international events that embroiled Russia and the major European powers; and World War I broke out in Europe. Will Greece’s debt crisis set a series of events in motion that sends the world into a downward economic spiral of unfathomable proportions?
For years, I have wrestled with the question of whether the Europe would collapse economically, politically, socially and militarily. Sounds absurd, you say? The countries are too interwoven and mutually dependent now for that to happen, and at the very least they will muddle along, making the worst of the best situations, and achieving the lowest common denominator? The United States of Europe, they are not and never will be, but they have achieved a degree of cohesiveness that I never thought was likely years ago.
I believed jealousies and rivalries and, yes, the hatreds of the past would linger barely beneath the surface, coming unglued at the most inopportune times when it really mattered the most. When the chips were down, I felt the EU would splinter and fall apart; and that its participants and the world would write it off as a noble experiment that failed, much like the League of Nations. After all, its successor—the United Nations—is considered to be a colossal joke by Americans, many of whom would love to see it shipped to Europe, and its building on the East River in Manhattan bulldozed and turned into a park, or made into co-ops or condominiums.
The bitter hatreds of the past seem to have subsided in Europe though, and it has become a cultural melting pot, more and more. Airbus was the first tangible sign of economic integration that I never thought would…
America is also spending a pretty penny in Afghanistan. The U.S. admits there are only a small handful of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As ABC notes:
U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.
With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year.
Sure, the government apparently planned the Afghanistan war before 9/11 (see this and this). And the Taliban offered to turn over Bin Laden (see this and this). And we could have easily killed Bin Laden in 2001 and again in 2007, but chose not to, even though that would have saved the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars in costs in prosecuting the Afghanistan war. But this essay is about dollars and cents.
Increasing the Debt Burden of a Nation Sinking In Debt
All of the spending on unnecessary wars adds up.
The U.S. is adding trillions to its debt burden to finance its multiple wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc.
Two top American economists – Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff – show that the more indebted a country is, with…
Evidence which has come out over the last couple of years makes it clear that top Bush administration officials knew that Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction and knew that Saddam had no connection with 9/11.
It is now reasonably obvious that the Bush administration was looking for an excuse to oust Saddam, and – in the words of the Downing Street Memo – “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”.
Saddam allegedly offered to let weapons inspectors in the country and to hold new elections:
In the few weeks before its fall, Iraq’s Ba’athist regime made a series of increasingly desperate peace offers to Washington, promising to hold elections and even to allow US troops to search for banned weapons. But the advances were all rejected by the Bush administration, according to intermediaries involved in the talks.
"Fearing defeat, Saddam was prepared to go peacefully in return for £500million ($1billion)".
"The extraordinary offer was revealed yesterday in a transcript of talks in February 2003 between George Bush and the then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the President’s Texas ranch."
"The White House refused to comment on the report last night. But, if verified, it is certain to raise questions in Washington and London over whether the costly four-year war could have been averted."
According to the tapes, Bush told Aznar that whether Saddam was still in Iraq or not, "We’ll be in Baghdad by the end of March." See also this and this.
Afghanistan Is Different
But Afghanistan is much different.
As President Obama said Tuesday night as justification…
The Asian session had set up for big losses, but markets were able to defend against such losses even if finishing with a lower close.
The S&P tagged the January low, but it's hard to see it holding out if there's another challenge on 1,810.
The Nasdaq was able to register a higher close (although below the prior day's close). It probably did enough to negate what is normally a bearish black candlestick, but bulls won't have any confidence until the bearish channel is broken.
1) Phil gives his outlook for U.S. markets and the US economic economy. Canada may be heading into a recession because the energy is sector dead for years, at least, but the U.S. economy is slowly improving. What is the basis of Phil's 5% rule? Watch the video.
2) Phil explains why oil demand is falling globally and what the implications are for energy-rich economies like Canada. Hint: The TSX (Canada's oil weighted index) is not going to recover. Oil is not going to recover. Oil's not a thing anymore - like wagon wheels. This is why the Saudis aren't holding back on selling their oil. Canada is due for some painful adjustments.
3) Natural gas - Phil gives the details of his option...
MRC Global Inc. (NYSE: MRC) announced Wednesday, that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its U.S. OCTG business to Sooner Pipe, LLC, a subsidiary of Marubeni-Itochu Tubulars America, Inc., for $48 million, subject to certain adjustments. MRC Global's U.S. OCTG sales were approximately $305 million in 2015. As a result of the expected sale, a pre-tax charge of approximately $5.0 million is expected to be recorded in the fourth quarter of 2015. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, subject to customary closing conditions.
Andrew R. Lane, MRC Global's chairman, president and chief executive officer, stated, "The divestiture of our OCTG product line is the culmination of our strategy to reduce our exposure to upstream drilling volatility and to foc...
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Throughout the past 30 days of wild volatility, here’s what I didn’t do.
Panic. Worry. Sell.
In fact, the best I did was add to a couple of positions yesterday. The world was already in an uncertain state for the past 3+ years. It’s just that with the market rising, we pushed the issue to the back of our mind and ignored it.
A number of systemic, structural forces are intersecting in 2016. One is the rise of non-state, non-central-bank-issued crypto-currencies.
We all know money is created and distributed by governments and central banks. The reason is simple: control the money and you control everything.
The invention of the blockchain and crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin have opened the door to non-state, non-central-bank currencies--money that is global and independent of any state or central bank, or indeed, any bank, as crypto-currencies are structurally peer-to-peer, meaning they don't require a bank to function: people can exchange crypto-currencies to pay for goods and services without a bank acting as a clearinghouse for all these transactions.
Last year, the S&P 500 large caps closed 2015 essentially flat on a total return basis, while the NASDAQ 100 showed a little better performance at +8.3% and the Russell 2000 small caps fell -5.9%. Overall, stocks disappointed even in the face of modest expectations, especially the small caps as market leadership was mostly limited to a handful of large and mega-cap darlings.
Notably, the full year chart for the S&P 500 looks very much like 2011. It got off to a good start, drifted sideways for...
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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