Archive for December, 2014

The Year in Five Narratives

Courtesy of The Automatic Earth.


John Vachon Auto of migrant fruit worker at gas station, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Jul 1940

Let’s see, how do we close this year in a proper manner? I already wrote that 2014 for me has been The Year Propaganda Came Of Age. Likewise, looking forward, I said that The Biggest Economic Story Going Into 2015 Is Not Oil. Moreover, I talked about things that need to be done next year in Things To Do In 2015 When You’re Not Yet Dead.

So what else is left? I thought I’d make a list of narratives that painted the past year, and look at what’s real about them versus what we’re being told they are about. Nothing comprehensive about them, mind you, just train of thought.

Ukraine/Crimea/Putin

The Crimeans voted to join Russia: not an option. Everybody but the Crimeans and Russians declared the vote illegal. East Ukraine held a referendum: not an option. Everybody but the East Ukrainians and Russians declared the vote illegal. The ‘logic’ is the only people who can hold a legal referendum in East Ukraine are the very ones who send in their armies to kill them.

But the US/EU-led ouster of an elected president, and the replacement of his government with one led by a US handpicked PM, narrowly voted in by a parliament at the time replete with guns and at best shady elements, that’s democracy, AD 2014. Throw in a billionaire Willy Wonka who, true, did get elected as president, though the legal status of that election should be under scrutiny given that East Ukraine did not, could not, participate in electing its own leader.

One of the very first things Willy Wonkoshenko did was order his Swastika-toting storm troops to go and kill more East Ukrainians, whose ‘official’ president he had just become (and they did). This all happened under US/EU command (Ukraine itself couldn’t fund a brassband, let alone an army).

Which makes me think, that’s not that far removed from for instance imagining that Washington sends its army into Texas or West Virginia with a licence to kill. But who over there have stood up for East…
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US Ally, Saudi Arabia Beheads 87 In 2014, Up Over 10% From 2013

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

It was a good year for those long ‘beheadings’. After a solid 79 head-removals in 2013, 2014 surged 10% higher with a recent record 87 beheadings overall (following a surge since August for crimes such as “drug smuggling, witchcraft, or sorcery”). The ‘State’ responsible for all these executions… not ISIS, but US ally, Saudi Arabia…

 

As BNO News reports,

A Pakistani man convicted of smuggling a large amount of heroin has been decapitated by sword in Saudi Arabia, the government reported on Wednesday, disregarding concerns raised by human rights activists and raising the number of people executed there this year to 87.

 

 

“The Interior Ministry reminds the public that the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) – may Allah protect him – continues the fight against drugs of all kinds as it inflicts serious harm on the individual and society,” the ministry said in its statement. “The most severe penalties on the perpetrators are derived from the righteous approach of Sharia law.”

 

Wednesday’s beheading adds to a surge in executions that began in August, angering human rights organizations because many of those killed were convicted of non-lethal crimes. “Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling or sorcery that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, of Human Rights Watch, earlier this year.

 

Amnesty International also expressed its concern after four family members were all beheaded on the same day in August for merely possessing hashish. “The recent increase in executions in Saudi Arabia is a deeply disturbing deterioration. The authorities must act immediately to halt this cruel practice,” said Said Boumedouha, of Amnesty International.

 

At least 87 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia this year, following 79 executions last year. The kingdom applies the death penalty for a large number of crimes, including drug offenses, apostasy, sorcery and witchcraft. Both witchcraft and sorcery are not listed as crimes but have been used to prosecute people for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion, according to activists.

*  *  *

Still, as we noted previously, Saudi Arabia is not the worst…

 





Guest Post: 2014 – A Russian Viewpoint

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Via The Vineyard Of The Saker blog,

Introduction:
By any measure 2014 has been a truly historic year which saw huge, I would say, even tectonic developments. This year ends in very high instability, and the future looks hard to guess. I don't think that anybody can confidently predict what might happen next year. So what I propose to do today is something far more modest. I want to look into some of the key events of 2014 and think of them as vectors with a specific direction and magnitude. I want to look in which direction a number of key actors (countries) "moved" this year and with what degree of intensity. Then I want to see whether it is likely that they will change course or determination. Then adding up all the "vectors" of these key actors (countries) I want to make a calculation and see what resulting vector we will obtain for the next year. Considering the large number of "unknown unknowns" (to quote Rumsfeld) this exercise will not result in any kind of real prediction, but my hope is that it will prove a useful analytical reference.

The main event and the main actors
A comprehensive analysis of 2014 should include most major countries on the planet, but this would be too complicated and, ultimately, useless. I think that it is indisputable that the main event of 2014 has been the war in the Ukraine. This crisis not only overshadowed the still ongoing Anglo-Zionist attack on Syria, but it pitted the world's only two nuclear superpowers (Russia and the USA) directly against each other. And while some faraway countries did have a minor impact on the Ukrainian crisis, especially the BRICS, I don't think that a detailed discussion of South African or Brazilian politics would contribute much. There is a short list of key actors whose role warrants a full analysis. They are:

  1. The USA
  2. The Ukrainian Junta
  3. The Novorussians (DNR+LNR)
  4. Russia
  5. The EU
  6. NATO
  7. China

I submit that these seven actors account for 99.99% of the events in the Ukraine and that an analysis of the stance of each one of them is crucial.  So let's take them one by one:

1 – The USA

Of all the actors in this crisis, the USA is by far the
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Forget Toasters & Spiderman Towels, Chinese Banks Lure New Deposits With iPhones & Mercedes

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Amid the European crisis in 2012, European banks reached deep deep down to encourage depositors to lodge their savings in these highly levered financial institutions. Most notably, now defunct Bankia, which offered no lesser gift than a Spiderman Towel in exchange for a EUR300 deposit. So, one wonders just how desperate they are – and just how close to total collapse – when Chinese banks are offering Mercedes Benz, iPhones, or a gold pendant to encourage cash as Bloomberg reports one analyst warns, “Chinese banks are hemorrhaging their deposits.”

 

 

As Bloomberg Businessweek reports,

Banks in the U.S. once gave away toasters and irons to lure depositors. Banks in China are upping the ante. With customers pulling out money and putting it into higher-yielding investments, they are offering Mercedes, iPhones, and daily deliveries of vegetables to sidestep interest rate caps and get people to stash some yuan in savings accounts.

 

“Chinese banks are hemorrhaging their deposits,” says Rainy Yuan, an analyst at brokerage Masterlink Securities in Shanghai. China’s banks lost 950 billion yuan ($154 billion) of deposits in the three months through September, the first quarterly drop since 1999.

 

In the first 11 months of the year, new deposits were 23 percent lower than in the same period last year, People’s Bank of China data show. Offering incentives to attract money is not the solution, Yuan says: “There is no fix for this. All the efforts they made to win savers back will only push up the costs, so it’s a losing battle to fight.”

However, The China Banking Regulatory Commission in September banned what it called “illicit” deposit-gathering practices, including gifts and rebates on deposits, without clarifying whether product giveaways in lieu of interest payments qualify as gifts.

Banks that flout the curbs could face punishment, the regulator said. The warning hasn’t deterred banks.

 

The iPhone promotion, at a Beijing branch of Ping An Bank in October, offered a 128-gigabyte iPhone 6 Plus in lieu of interest payments for depositing 38,000 yuan for five years.

 

For parking 903,000 yuan for the same period, savers could pick one of four Mercedes-Benz models. A Mercedes A180, which costs 252,000 yuan, would give


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Where The Minority Rules In America

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

“An increasingly muscular minority political base is here to stay,” says Politico, and nowhere is that minority more in charge in America than shown in the following map. As the white population continues to age (only 51% of Under-5s were white in 2010), racial minorities will pick up the slack (by 2027, minorities will out-number whites nationally among those under 30).

 

 

Already, 10 states have “minority white” child populations, including reliably red states like Texas and Arizona.

 

Source: Politico





Paul “Orwell” Krugman Touts Job Growth in the Obama Recovery

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Robert Murphy via Mises Canada,

For years, Paul Krugman has been warning that the inadequate fiscal stimulus package of early 2009, coupled with the disastrous spending cuts of the “sequester” package, were leading to a “postmodern recovery” and “jobless trap” for the millions of Americans locked out of employment due to coldhearted Republicans. Even though GDP growth had officially returned by the summer of 2009, Krugman told us, we could expect a terrible plight for America’s workers, all because the people in charge were more concerned with fiscal prudence than American families.

Well, now that we’ve had a few quarters of decent GDP growth and private sector job creation–at least according to the official statistics–Krugman has had to alter his narrative. Now, you see, Obama’s recovery has actually been impressive–much better than the recovery under George W. Bush from the dot-com recession. Does this prove that Krugman was wrong about the need for big deficits? Of course not. No, it just shows that the right-wing critics of ObamaCare and other regulations were wrong for thinking these regulations would hurt hiring.

A recent example of this newfound perspective is a December 28 Krugman post entitled, “The Obama Bounce”:

Dean Baker is, of course, right: this is not a boom, and comparisons to the 1990s are insane. Still, growth has clearly picked up, and the public seems to be noticing. So what can we say about the Obama non-boom?

 

I’d argue that much of what we’re seeing reflects the tapering off of austerity. The US has never had a proclaimed austerity plan, UK style, but we’ve had a lot of the thing itself, especially from cutbacks in state and local spending. Spending hasn’t rebounded yet, but at least it has stopped shrinking:

 

[Krugman then inserts a FRED graph showing the year/year level change in real government consumption and investment spending.–RPM]

 

And it’s important to realize that, despite all the rhetoric about how Obamacare/antibusiness rhetoric/Kenyan Islamic atheism is destroying business, the private sector has actually been relatively strong under Obama. Here’s employment:

 

[Krugman then inserts a FRED graph showing the levels of Total nonfarm employment minus total government employment.–RPM]

 

Since Obama took office,


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Even CIA Admits Torture Doesn’t Work

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by George Washington.

Seton Hall Law School Professor Jonathan Hafetz made an important point today:

CIA director, John O Brennan, admitted that the agency “has not concluded that it was the use of EITs [“Enhanced Interrogation Techniques aka torture] that allowed us to obtain useful information from detainees”.

 

***

 

The [CIA]  – unlike its loudest defenders – is not endorsing torture as a means of gaining intelligence or keeping the country safe.

 

***

 

The flurry of media appearances by Cheney and other torture defenders has created a false sense that there is a genuine divide over whether torture “works”.  But neither the CIA nor professional interrogators actually say that.

Indeed, the CIA has consistently said for many decades that torture doesn’t work:

  • The CIA’s 1963 interrogation manual stated:

Intense pain is quite likely to produce false confessions, concocted as a means of escaping from distress. A time-consuming delay results, while investigation is conducted and the admissions are proven untrue. During this respite the interrogatee can pull himself together. He may even use the time to think up new, more complex ‘admissions’ that take still longer to disprove.

  • Richard Stolz, the chief of the CIA’s clandestine service under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, testified to Congress:

Physical abuse or other degrading treatment was rejected not only because it is wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective.

  • According to the Washington Post, the CIA’s top spy – Michael Sulick, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service – said that the spy agency has seen no fall-off in intelligence since waterboarding was banned by the Obama administration. “I don’t think we’ve suffered at all from an intelligence standpoint.”
  • A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks (Milton Bearden) says (as quoted by senior CIA agent and Presidential briefer Ray McGovern):


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2014 Greatest Hits: Presenting The Most Popular Posts Of The Past Year

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

A quick glance at the 20 most popular stories of 2014 as determined by you, our readers, shows something troubling: despite the just concluded 6th consecutive year of a rising S&P 500 – the longest such stretch since 1999 of what otherwise would be deemed optimism – despite what should be a steadily improving economy and improving social and economic conditions, what readers founds most fascinating, and troubling, was the increasing preponderance of social disobedience, of covert, proxy or outright wars, and of civil unrest: all phenomena that accompany a world sliding deeper into distress, not as most central banks and their puppet media would have us believe, a global recovery.

But before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our brief 6-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013: one for every year of the most artificial and fabricated “bull market” in history.

So without further ado, here are the articles that readers found to be the most popular of the past 365 days.

  • In 20th place, with over 143,000 reads, was the first hint that the second cold, and not so cold, war between Russia and the US was going to be not only fought in commodity terms – at least in the beginning – but would do all in America’s power to prevent the formation of a Russia-China axis of power, when back in paril we learned that the “US Threatens Russia Over Petrodollar-Busting Deal.” As noted above, conflict and its numerous variations, would be the driving feature of what readers were most fascinated by. The ever-escalating conflict between Russia and the US would be merely one of the numerous such developing plotlines that those who were not engrossed by whether Kim Kardashian’s ass would indeed break the internet, followed with great interest.
  • In 19th place, and rising rapidly, was Zero Hedge at what we believe is its best: peeking behind the propaganda, and revealing the lies hidding in the headline numbers. We did this most recently with “Here Is The Reason For The “Surge” In Q3 GDP.” As


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Bluff of the Day: Germany Warns “Greece is No Longer of Systemic Importance For the Euro”

Courtesy of Mish.

In the obvious bluff of the day, Euro zone No Longer Obliged to Rescue Greece, Merkel Ally Says.

Actually, the eurozone was never obliged to rescue Greece, and in fact did not rescue Greece. Rather the EU and Troika rescued European banks holding Greek bonds.

Here’s the actual bluff.

In an interview with Rheinische Post newspaper published on Wednesday, Michael Fuchs also said Greek politicians could not now “blackmail” their partners in the currency bloc.

“If Alexis Tsipras of the Greek left party Syriza thinks he can cut back the reform efforts and austerity measures, then the troika will have to cut back the credits for Greece,” he said.

The times where we had to rescue Greece are over. There is no potential for political blackmail anymore. Greece is no longer of systemic importance for the euro.”

Blackmail Potential

Curiously, there was little potential for blackmail years past when Greece ran a primary account deficit (Greece needed money from Europe to stay afloat), but now Greece has a tiny current account surplus (not counting interest payments).

Countries with current account surpluses are not dependent on foreigners to finance debt. This makes it all the more likely Greece can tell the Troika “go to hell”.

Of course, Tsipras has made all kinds of pledges that would kill the surplus if carried out, but since when do politicians keep promises?

More than likely a default would wreck the Greece economy, but so does interest on €245 billion in “bailouts” for years if not decades to come. Tsipras may easily decide he has nothing to lose.

Ironically, if his economic proposals were better, Greece would indeed have everything to gain and nothing to lose by cramming this straight down the EU’s throat.

Eurozone Financial Stability Contribution Weights



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Congressman Confirms Foreign Central Banks Buying US Stock Futures Is Good For Liquidity

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Before we first exposed proof of the conspiracy fact that global Central Banks are indeed trading US equity futures, it was dismissed as tin-foil-hat-wearing, pajama-wearing, basement-living conspiracy theory. So it is, perhaps, quite notable that Congress itself has now admitted that Central Banks are trading futures and that it is good for liquidity (and thus, we pre-suppose, it’s for your own good, average citizen).

 

Thanks to one enterprising member of the public who explained to his local Congressman that:

“trading the futures market against Central Banks is like playing no limit poker against a billionaire. You will always be run out of the market and the market will be controlled by those that can print money for margin (or the next ante),”

the Congressman, a member of the House Financial Services Committee and the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, replied…

 

And so there it is…

 

h/t James Lovely





 
 
 

Zero Hedge

Traders Buy Stocks, Dump Bonds & Bullion As War Rhetoric Rises

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Makes perfect sense.

After the largest global oil disruption in history, Saudis agree with US that "Iran did it", the US president says the military is "locked and loaded" and what do markets do - bid stocks, buy USDollar, and dump safe-havens like bonds and gold...

The dollar is soaring...

Source: Bloomberg

And ...



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The Technical Traders

Metals are following downside sell off prediction before the next rally

Courtesy of Technical Traders

It is absolutely amazing how the precious metals markets have followed our October 2018 predictions almost like clockwork.  Our call for an April 21~24 momentum base below $1300 followed by an extensive rally to levels above $1550 has been playing out almost like we scripted these future price moves.

Now that the $1550 level has been reached, we are expecting a rotation to levels that may reach just below the $1490~1500 level before attempting to set up another momentum base/bottom formation.  And just like clockwork, Gold has followed our predictions and price is falling as we expected. Just look at our October 2018 chart where we forecasted the price of gold...



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Chart School

Crude Oil Cycle Bottom aligns with Saudi Oil Attack

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Do the cycles know? Funny how cycle lows attract the need for higher prices, no matter what the news is!

These are the questions before markets on on Monday 16th Aug 2019:

1) A much higher oil price in quick time can not be tolerated by the consumer, as it gives birth to much higher inflation and a tax on the average Joe disposable income. This is recessionary pressure.

2) With (1) above the real issue will be the higher interest rate and US dollar effect on the SP500 near all time highs.

3) A moderately higher oil price is likely to be absorbed and be bullish as it creates income for struggling energy companies and the inflation shock may be muted. 

We shall see. 

...

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Phil's Favorites

Black Hole Investing

 

Black Hole Investing

Courtesy of John Mauldin, Thoughts from the Frontline 

Scientists say the rules change in a cosmic “black hole” at what astrophysicists call the event horizon. How do they know that? Not by observation, since what happens in there is, by definition, un-seeable. They infer it from the surroundings, which say that the mathematics of the universe as we understand them change at the event horizon.

Or maybe not. One theory says we are all inside a black hole right now. That could possibly explain a few things about central bank policy. ...



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Insider Scoop

The Street Reacts To Kroger's Q2 With Mixed Takeaways

Courtesy of Benzinga

Kroger Co (NYSE: KR) reported second-quarter results that came in better than expected. The earnings beat may have been overshadowed by management's decision to remove its prior guidance of $400 million in incremental EBIT by fiscal 2021.

Q2 A Mix Of Positives And Negativ...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Bond Yields Due For Rally After Declining More Than 1987 Stock Crash

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

U.S. Treasury Bond Yields – 2, 5, 10, 30 Year Durations

The past year has seen treasury bond yields decline sharply, yet in an orderly fashion.

This has spurred recession concerns for much of 2019. Needless to say, it’s a confusing time for investors.

In today’s chart of the day, we look at a longer-term view of the 2, 5, 10, and 30-year treasury bond yields.

Short to long term bond yields are all testing 7 to 10-year support levels as momentum is at the lowest levels in a decade.

A yield rally is likely due across the board after a recent decline that was bigger than the stock crash in 1987!

If yields fail to ral...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Nonfarm Payrolls Not Seasonally Adjusted Tell the Real Story - Unspinning Wall Street™

Courtesy of Lee Adler

Not seasonally adjusted nonfarm payrolls, that is, the actual numbers, give us a truer picture of the jobs market than the seasonally adjusted garbage that Wall Street spews.

Friday’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payrolls jobs headline numbers disappointed investors with slower than expected growth. But was it really that bad?

Here’s How The Street Spun It – Wall Street Journal Modest August Job Growth Shows Economy Expanding, but Slowly

Employers added 130,000 nonfarm jobs, jobless rate held steady at 3.7%

U.S. employment grew only modestly in August, suggesting that a global economic slowdown isn’t driving the U.S. into recession but has dente...



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Digital Currencies

China Crypto Miners Wiped Out By Flood; Bitcoin Hash Rate Hits ATHs

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Last week, a devastating rainstorm in China's Sichuan province triggered mudslides, forcing local hydropower plants and cryptocurrency miners to halt operations, reported CoinDesk.

Torrential rains flooded some parts of Sichuan's mountainous Aba prefecture last Monday, with mudslides seen across 17 counties in the area, according to local government posts on Weibo. 

One of the worst-hit areas was Wenchuan county, ...



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Biotech

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

Reminder: We are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

Courtesy of  , Visual Capitalist

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

As evidence of cannabis’ many benefits mounts, so does the interest from the global pharmaceutical industry, known as Big Pharma. The entrance of such behemoths will radically transform the cannabis industry—once heavily stigmatized, it is now a potentially game-changing source of growth for countless co...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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Promotions

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Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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