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





 
 
 

Phil's Favorites

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

 

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

Courtesy of Chusu He, Coventry University

Investors are still being fairly complacent about the novel coronavirus. After the number of new daily cases suddenly shot up to more than 15,000 on February 12 following more than a week of decline, there were some jitters in the markets. With Chinese authorities saying the increase was due to a decision to broaden the definition for diagnosing people, there were falls in the region of 1% in European markets, and smaller retrenchments in Asia and North America.

It is...



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Biotech & Health

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

 

Coronavirus: the blow to the Chinese economy could be felt for years

Courtesy of Chusu He, Coventry University

Investors are still being fairly complacent about the novel coronavirus. After the number of new daily cases suddenly shot up to more than 15,000 on February 12 following more than a week of decline, there were some jitters in the markets. With Chinese authorities saying the increase was due to a decision to broaden the definition for diagnosing people, there were falls in the region of 1% in European markets, and smaller retrenchments in Asia and North America.

It is...



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Zero Hedge

China Adopts 'Cultural Revolution-Style' Social Controls To Crush Outbreak As Death Toll Nears 2,000

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Summary:

  • Taiwan reports 1st coronavirus death
  • Hubei reports 1,933 new cases, 100 deaths
  • Hubei health officials report 1,933 new cases, 100 new deaths
  • Taiwan taxi driver who died from virus carried passengers from mainland, Hong Kong, Macau
  • Singapore reports 3 more cases
  • Total cases aboard 'Diamond Princess' climbs to 355 as US prepares to evacuate citizens
  • Indonesia says 6 passengers from Westerdam cruise ship tested negative
  • There are now at least 68,500 cases worldwide, and at least 1,665 de...


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Members' Corner

How to Stop Bill Barr

 

How to Stop Bill Barr

We must remove this cancer on our democracy.

Courtesy of Greg Olear, at PREVAIL, author of Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia

...



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The Technical Traders

Is The Technology Sector Setting Up For A Crash? Part I

Courtesy of Technical Traders

One thing that continues to amaze our research team is the total scale and scope of the Capital Shift which is taking place across the globe.  For almost 5+ years, foreign investors have been piling into the US stock market chasing the stronger US dollar and continued advancement of US share prices. It is almost like there is no other place on the planet that will allow investors to pool capital into such a variety of strong assets while protecting against foreign capital risks.  Yet the one big question remains – when will a price reversion event hit the US stock
market?

So many researchers, even our team of researchers, believe we have found the keys to unloc...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Joe Friday Says Germany (DAX) Could Rally 30%, Happy Valentines Day For The Bulls!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

German DAX Index “weekly” Chart

The German DAX is one of the more important global stock market indices, as it represents the largest economy / market in the Euro Zone.

So it would be a real treat for the bulls to see this stock market index breakout as we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

The facts, Ma’am. Just the facts; The German DAX looks to have formed a bullish ascending triangle over the past 3 years and it is currently attempting to breakout above the top at (1)....



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Insider Scoop

Nissan Shares Tumble To Decade Low After Q3 Earnings Miss

Courtesy of Benzinga

The shares of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (OTC: NSANY) dropped to a decade low on Thursday after the company missed third-quarter earnings estimates and significantly cut its annual forecast for the financial 2019 year.

What Happened

Nissan, on Thursday, reported a net loss o...



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ValueWalk

Russell 2000 Index (RUT) hits an almost one-month high

By Gorilla Trades. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Ad the Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) hit an almost one-month high today, commenting on today’s trading Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman said:

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) Outperforms Large-Cap Benchmarks

While the overnight session was nothing short of scary stocks held on to most of yesterday's gains and small-caps even extended their winning streak. The Russell 2000 Index (INDEXRUSSELL: RUT) hit an almost one-month high today, finishing higher for the fourth day in a row while outperforming the large-cap benchmarks, and since the Volatility...



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Chart School

Dow theory warning from the Utilities Index

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Charles Dow died in 1902, and the investors should thank him for his ever lasting Dow Theory Analysis.

Carrying on this blog theme looking at the Utility stocks. Previous post.
Dow Jones Utility index could trade like the FANGs
Formula for when the Great Stock Market Rally ends



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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin Price May Hit $27K All-Time High By Summer, Predicts Fundstrat's Tom Lee

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by William Suberg via CoinTelegraph.com,

Bitcoin is primed for average gains of almost 200% over the next six months, one of its best-known supporters has told mainstream media. 

...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

 

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:

Lee,

The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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