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…
Have you ever wondered who controls the mainstream media? In America today, we are more "connected" than ever. The average American watches 153 hours of television a month, and we also spend countless hours watching movies, playing video games, listening to music, reading books and surfing the Internet.
In a letter to Congress (below), AG Eric Holder admitted that the administration deliberately killed American Anwar al-Awlaki (the radical Muslim cleric) in a drone strike in September 2011 adding, as the NY Times reports, "the decision to target Anwar al-Awlaki was lawful, it was considered, and it was just." As RT notes, there was collateral damage, as it has been widely reported but rarely acknowledged in Washington that two other US citizens - Samir Khan, and al-Awlaki's teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki - were exec...
With yesterday's dovish duo Bullard and Dudley to set expectations, the S&P 500 rallied in anticipation of Chairman Bernanke's congressional testimony and soared to its all-time intraday high, up 1.07% during his prepared remarks. But the Q&A deflated the balloon, and the 2 PM release of the latest Fed Minutes accelerated the decline. It seems that the possibility of tapering QE in the near term is not entirely off the table. The index hit its -1.23% intraday low about 30 minutes before the final bell. It then trimmed its loss to close down 0.83%. The 10-year yield jumped 9 bps to close at 2.03%, just off the 2013 interim high of 2.07% on March 11th and 37 bps off its 2013 low set 14 sessions back.
Here is a 15-minute look at the week so far.
Not surprisingly the volume on today's 2.32% high-low intraday range was 24% above its 50-day movi...
Doing a lot of data mining as we watch this market go parabolic.
The S&P 500 is 13.4% over the 200 day moving average. 10%+ is considered overbought, and 12% is very rare.
The current Relative Strength Index (RSI) on the S&P 500 is 75. Over 70 is generally overbought (below 30 oversold). To put in perspective in 1999 the S&P touched 70ish a few times but never hit 75. The NASDAQ in 1999 – early 2000 hit mid 70s a few days in July 99 and Mar 00. Then in the parabolic move in November and December 1999 (NASDAQ gained over 1000 pts!) it sat between 70 and mid 80s for most of two months; of course t...
SKS - Saks, Inc. – High-end retailer, Saks, Inc., popped up on our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner this morning on heavier than usual trading traffic in upside calls. Shares in Saks are up 10% on Tuesday morning at a new 52-week high of $13.54 after the company posted first-quarter earnings in line with analyst expectations on higher-than-expected quarterly revenue. Shares in Saks are up more than 30% since this time last year. Bullish positions initiated in SKS options ahead of the earnings release yester...
So, what did the market want today? Nothing it appears. It traded on weak volume and had very little movement. This morning the market hated commodities especially silver, but by days end, the market liked silver, gold and even oil but not the dollar. Why?
Last week the economic reports were tough, with bad misses on more than one occasion. But the market tended to ignore the bad news, probably because money continues to pour into equities from money market funds, long term fixed income, and many struggling foreign economies. On Thursday, investors finally caved to even more bad news from Initial Jobless Claims and weak Housing Starts. Then on Friday, when Michigan Sentiment and Leading Indicators posted large positive surprises, the money came pouring back to generate qui...
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I am going to share with you how I manage my IRA and the power of reducing your cost basis. My goal each year is a 20% return in my IRA. Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don't, but I believe that all of my success is due to reducing my cost basis. To illustrate the power of reducing your cost basis here are some trades we did last year. These trades are taken from an educational portfolio we ran in a paper-trading account for a little more than a year.
We bought RIG on 5/15/2012 for $44.13, sold it on 1/18/2013 for $46 but booked a profit of $1,154.
We bought MT on 1/4/2012 for $19.24, sold it on 12/21/2012 for $15 but booked a profit of $454.
We bought CHK on 1/27/2012 for $21.93, sold it on 10/19/2012 for $18 b...
Stock market posts another record setting week, but the big news came after Friday’s close.
Courtesy of NASA
The stock market put on another record setting show with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) closing at a record high 15,118 and the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) closing at 1633.70, another all time closing high.
For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) gained 1%, the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) climbed 1.2%, the Nasdaq Composite (NYSEARCA:...
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Well, well, well....it is good to know that there are others in the scientific arena who believed that YMI Bioscience's data (cough - Gilead) is a better drug than Incyte's Jakafi. Now, the definitive data are still unknown, but there was enough evidence from a Phase 2 trial to take a small risk for a huge reward. So, let's forget about Apple (AAPL), and do nothing but biotechs from now until Congress passes universal health care coverage for prescriptions....and drive the prices down so that research and development is no longer feasible to conduct in the US. Even Seattle Genetics (SGEN) has been on a tear as of late...
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