The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has spawned a national security "state-within-a-state" with essentially unlimited funding and support of America’s political machine. This National Security State has infected domestic policing and courts; it is both ubiquitous and completely unaccountable.
The Democrats and Republicans have enthusiastically joined hands to create a global police/national security state-within-a-state of unimaginable reach and power. Frequent contributor Michael Goodfellow sent me this investigative report, which I consider one of the most important of the decade: Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control (Washington Post).
Let’s go back briefly to September 1, 2001, before the 9/11 attack. The national security "assets" of the nation had all the information needed to stop the attack. The various agencies did not stop the attack because there was essentially zero coordination and data-sharing between the CIA, NSA and FBI.
Now the national security "assets" have metastasized into a gargantuan national security state-within-a-state--and the exact same problem not only exists, it has become even more intracable.
Now that the national security state (NSS) has become much larger and even more unwieldy, coordination, collaboration and data-sharing have been rendered essentially impossible. This report makes that absolutely clear.
Rather than fix the problem of coordinating our national security assets, the Federal government and its leaders have amplified the problem. At the same time, they have created a monster which is beyond the control of elected officials or the citizenry, a secretive state-within-a-state which protects itself behind the inpenetrable shield of "national security" and "need to know."
The national security state is the ultimate protected fiefdom. Cutting one dollar of funding would be instantly characterized as "weakening our fight against global terrorism," as would any limits on the NSS’s powers.
This is in effect a new arm of the "military-industrial complex" which dwarfs the power of the traditional military-industrial complex: "defense" contractors and the revolving door between the DoD (Department of Defense) and these Pentagon-dependent industrial corporations.
GWOT is the perfect defense for a state-within-a-state that is insatiable and beyond accountability. Even simple inquiries are quickly dismissed as "dangerous"--as if global terrorists would glean some useful information from knowing just how many hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent tracking them.
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…
The Fed has purposefully tried to engineer a later lift-off beyond what it normally should have been -- due to the extent of the crisis. However, they risk losing credibility as the market is questioning just how behind the curve they are. A growing group of investors is worried that the Fed is blind to the aggregating risks to financial instability.
The interesting contradiction is that the market believes the Fed should have tightened already, yet interest rate futures have priced “lift-off” probabilities beyond September. This incongruity in interest rate futures stems from the...
Look at those wonderful jobs numbers. It’s like a beautiful house where, hidden from view, termites are quietly and insidiously, slowly but surely, eating away at its structural elements. Eventually the building just starts falling apart and must be condemned.
The seasonally adjusted headline number for nonfarm payroll jobs added in February was 295,000. The consensus estimate of Wall Street conomists had been for a gain of 240,000. That beat of 55,000 was enough to surprise the hell out of the market and not in a good way, as I had warned based on the weekly jobless claims and re...
This morning's release of the February employment report surprised to the upside on new nonfarm jobs, and the unemployment rate dropped from 5.7% to 5.5%. But good economic news freaked out the market, with pundits jabbering about the increased odds of a Fed rate hike. The S&P 500 dropped at the open and sold off through the day, closing with a 1.42% decline. The tally for the week was a 1.58% loss. It remains in the green year-to-date by a fractional 0.60%.
Not surprisingly, Treasuries plunged. The yield on the 10-year note closed at 2.24%, up 13 bps from yesterday's close and up 36 bps from its 2015 low at the beginning of February. That equates to a 21.4% rise in yield.
Here is a 15-minute chart of the last five sessions.
Chris Kimble shared his chart of the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF, XLU, with us.
The one month performance inset shows XLU’s uninspiring performance compared to every other ETF on the list. However, the rather steep bullish falling wedge pattern says that it may be time for a bounce.
[Click on chart to enlarge]
Chris likes XLU for a short-term bounce off the 200 day moving average at $44. One way to play this setup is to buy the XLU outright. Chris suggests a 3% stop loss on the shares.
Another bullish play is to use options in a strategy designed by Phil:
Options volume on Alibaba Group Holdings is poised to end at the session at approximately three times the average daily level, with volume in BABA contracts approaching 300,000 contracts versus average daily volume of 105,000 contracts and less than 30 minutes to go before the closing bell. Shares in BABA are down 3.0% as of the time of this writing to stand at $81.50, off the intraday and fresh 52-week low of $80.03 set earlier this afternoon.
Across all available expiries, the 80.0 strike put options are seeing notable activity, with cumulative volume in excess of 30,000 contracts. As for trading in BABA...
Despite low trading volume, a strong dollar, mixed economic and earnings reports, paralyzing weather conditions throughout much of the U.S., and ominous global news events, stocks continue to march ever higher. The world remains on edge about potential Black Swan events from the likes of Russia, Greece, or ISIS (or lone wolf extremists). Moreover, the economic recovery of the U.S. may be feeling the pull of the proverbial ball-and-chain from the rest of the world’s economies. Nevertheless, awash in investable cash, global investors see few choices better than U.S. equities.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then ...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
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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