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Mar 23

Today’s News 23rd March 2016

  • Trump Learns Of Naked Melania Photo Used In Attack Ad, Threatens To "Spill Beans" On Heidi Cruz

    Yesterday we were stunned when we learned that in order to support Ted Cruz and to “attack” Donald Trump, Liz Mair’s anti-Trump Make America Awesome super PAC launched a Facebook campaign which in addition to showcasing Mitt Romney’s support for Ted Cruz, emphasizing Trump’s past support for pro-choice policies, it also crossed the family line when it showed a GQ modeling photo of Melania Trump posing nude.

    Crossed lines aside, what surprised us most is that “showing a naked Melania Trump, a successful, multi-lingual supermodel and undoubtedly the most attractive first lady America would ever have, is not exactly an attack ad” and we wondered how badly this ad would backfire “the moment men end up seeing the ad.” We will find out the moment the Utah primary results come in, even though by her admission, Mair certainly did her best to only focus on women voters.

    In any case, about an hour ago Trump found out about Cruz’ attack ad. This is what he said:

    Spill the beans?” Cruz immediately responded, attempting tto explain he had no idea what is going on, but warning Trump to stay away from Heidi:

    In other words, having been called out, Cruz quickly tried to distance himself form a below the belt hitting Super PAC that supports him and which used naked pics of Melania. But is quick to challenge Trump not to “attack Heidi”, even though his own camp did just that with Mrs. Trump.

    Which makes us wonder: just what “beans” of Heidi Cruz does Trump have in mind? Recall that Heidi worked for about a decade for none other than Goldman Sachs – about as status quo establishment as it gets – after which “she has become a fund-raising power, specializing in soliciting maximum contributions from well-heeled donors.”

    But then there is this, more troubling part, from the NYT:

    Mrs. Cruz and her husband, Senator Ted Cruz, were living 1,500 miles apart and trying to find a happy balance in their own lives. Soon after, Mrs. Cruz quit her high-powered post in Washington, took a job in finance and moved to Texas, an unfamiliar place, to be closer to Mr. Cruz, then the state’s solicitor general. The transition unsettled her.

     

    In August 2005, a police officer in Austin, answering a call about a woman sitting beside an expressway on-ramp, found Mrs. Cruz with her head in her hands. He transported her to an unnamed facility, according to his report, which said, “I believed that she was a danger to herself.”

    Normally, these would not be topics of consideration when debating the merits of a presidential candidate, but then again, neither would this photo be part of an “attack” (really, support) ad…

     

    To be sure, we knew this presidential race would promptrly devolve to the surreal and absurd, but not even we expected that it would very quickly transform itself into a campaign where naked photos of potential first ladies would randomly appear on social networks.

    As for the Cruz attack ad (because even if he tries to admit it, it was his) we wonder how many full-blooded males would “support Ted Cruz” on Tuesday if given a choice of him… or Melania as first lady. Even Mormons.

  • Fascism, American Style

    Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

    “If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States.” ? Henry A. Wallace, 33rd Vice President of the United States

    This is an indictment of every politician who has ever sold us out for the sake of money and power, it is a condemnation of every politician who has ever lied to us in order to advance their careers, and it is a denunciation of every political shill who has sacrificed our freedoms on the altar of Corporate America.

    They’re all fascists.

    If Donald Trump is a fascist—as nearly half of Americans surveyed believe—then so is every other politician in office or running for office in America who has ever prioritized money and power over human beings.

    Truly, apart from Trump’s virulently bombastic comments and his metaphorical willingness to spit in the wind in order to garner media coverage and notoriety, how is he any more of a fascist than Hillary Clinton and the millions she has amassed from the financial sector?

     

    How is Trump any more of a fascist than Barack Obama, whose willingness to march in lockstep with the military industrial complex has resulted in endless wars, covert drone strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians abroad, and militarized police who have killed thousands of American citizens here at home?

     

    How is Trump any more of a fascist than Congress, the majority of whom are millionaires and who are more inclined to do the bidding of their corporate sponsors and benefactors, all the while remaining deaf to their less affluent constituents?

     

    For that matter, how is Trump any more of a fascist than the Supreme Court whose decisions in recent years have been characterized most often by an abject deference to government authority, military and corporate interests?

    Writing for the New York Times in 1944, Vice President Henry A. Wallace noted that

    American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism. They cultivate hate and distrust…”

    As Wallace concluded, American fascists are not pro-Constitution:

    They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead… They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

    We are being played for fools. Again.

    The United States of America, that dream of what a democratic republic ought to be, has become the Fascist States of America. We have moved beyond the era of representative government and entered a new age. You can call it the age of authoritarianism. Or fascism. Or oligarchy. Or the American police state.

    Whatever label you want to put on it, the end result is the same.

    Driven by our fears, we have entered into a corporate-controlled, militaristic state where all citizens are suspects, security trumps freedom, and the U.S. government does not represent the majority of American citizens but instead is ruled by the rich and powerful.

    Any semblance of constitutional government that we might still enjoy today is a mere shadow, a mockery of what the founders envisioned. Constitutional government today—much like the farcical circus that purports to be the presidential election—is a sham, a hoax, an elaborate ruse maintained by the powers-that-be to mollify us into believing that we still have a say in the workings of our government. We do not.

    Shortly after World War II, historian William L. Shirer predicted that America may be the first country in which fascism comes to power through democratic elections.

    Former presidential advisor Bertram Gross also warned that we would not recognize fascism when it took over:

    Anyone looking for black shirts, mass parties, or men on horseback will miss the telltale clues of creeping fascism… In America, it would be supermodern and multi-ethnic—as American as Madison Avenue, executive luncheons, credit cards, and apple pie. It would be fascism with a smile. As a warning against its cosmetic facade, subtle manipulation, and velvet gloves, I call it friendly fascism. What scares me most is its subtle appeal.

    They were both right.

    However, what we failed to realize is that the fascist coup took place long ago. It was that subtle and that incremental.

    We are now ruled by the velvet-gloved, technologically savvy, militarized iron fist of what Gross termed “friendly fascism” or fascism with a smile. Having studied Shirer and Gross, tracked the rise of fascism in past regimes, and assimilated the necessary ingredients for a fascist state, I can attest to the fact—as I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People—that the parallels to modern America are impossible to ignore.

    Under fascism, the government:

    • is managed by a powerful leader (even if he or she assumes office by way of the electoral process)
    • assumes it is not restrained in its power (this is authoritarianism, which eventually evolves into totalitarianism)
    • ostensibly operates under a capitalist system while being undergirded by an immense bureaucracy
    • emits powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism through its politicians
    • has an obsession with national security while constantly invoking terrifying internal and external enemies
    • establishes a domestic and invasive surveillance system and develops a paramilitary force that is not answerable to the citizenry
    • and its various agencies (federal, state, and local) develop an obsession with crime and punishment (this is overcriminalization)
    • becomes increasingly centralized while aligning closely with corporate powers to control all aspects of the country’s social, economic, military, and governmental structures
    • uses militarism as a center point of its economic and taxing structure
    • and is increasingly imperialistic in order to maintain the military-industrial corporate forces.

    Compare that to America today where, as economist Jeffrey Tucker rightly observes, “every industry is regulated. Every profession is classified and organized. Every good or service is taxed. Endless debt accumulation is preserved. Immense doesn’t begin to describe the bureaucracy. Military preparedness never stops, and war with some evil foreign foe, remains a daily prospect.”

    Fascism thrives by hiding behind the entertainment spectacle that is partisan politics. As Tucker points out, “It’s incorrect to call fascism either right wing or left wing. It is both and neither… fascism does not seek to overthrow institutions like commercial establishments, family, religious centers, and civic traditions. It seeks to control them… it preserves most of what people hold dear but promises to improve economic, social, and cultural life through unifying their operations under government control.”

    In this way, American-style fascism is deceptively appealing.

    It appears friendly.

    The news media covers the entertainment and political trivia. The basic forms of government remain intact. The legislators remain in session. There are elections.

    Consent of the governed, however, no longer applies. Actual control has finally passed to the oligarchic elite controlling the government behind the scenes.

    Yet the most crucial ingredient for fascism to succeed in America is that the majority of the people would have to agree that it’s not only expedient but necessary for the government to assume greater powers in order to keep them safe and secure, whether it’s by militarizing the police, stripping them of basic constitutional rights, criminalizing virtually every form of behavior, or spying on their communications, movements and transactions.

    Sound familiar?

    When you really drill down to what the various presidential candidates believe about the issues that will impact the future of our freedoms long-term—war, surveillance, civil liberties—you’ll find that most of them support the government’s position, which conveniently enough, profits the corporate sector.

    This is not freedom.

    It is despotism, which Gross refers to as “faceless oligarchs [who] sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades.” Gross explains:

    In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and, more important, the subversion of our constitution. More broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics through economic manipulation, covert action, or military invasion…

    It is, in Gross’ words, “pretended patriots who desecrate the American flag by waving it while waiving the law”:

    I see at present members of the Establishment or people on its fringes who, in the name of Americanism, betray the interests of most Americans by fomenting militarism, applauding rat-race individualism, protecting undeserved privilege, or stirring up nationalistic and ethnic hatreds.

    It is, concludes Gross, Big Business and Big Government in bed together:

    In this present, many highly intelligent people look with but one eye and see only one part of the emerging Leviathan. From the right, we are warned against the danger of state capitalism or state socialism, in which Big Business is dominated by Big Government. From the left, we hear that the future danger (or present reality) is monopoly capitalism, with finance capitalists dominating the state. I am prepared to offer a cheer and a half for each view; together, they make enough sense for a full three cheers. Big Business and Big Government have been learning how to live in bed together and despite arguments between them, enjoy the cohabitation. Who may be on top at any particular moment is a minor matter-and in any case can be determined only by those with privileged access to a well-positioned keyhole.

    When the votes have all been counted, “we the people” will be the losers.

    The joke will be on us. Whether we ever realize it not, the enemy is not across party lines, as they would have us believe. It has us surrounded on all sides.

    Even so, we’re not yet defeated.

    We could still overcome our oppressors if we cared enough to join forces and launch a militant nonviolent revolution—a people’s revolution that starts locally and trickles upwards—but that will take some doing.

    It will mean turning our backs on the political jousting contests taking place on the national stage and rejecting their appointed jesters as false prophets. It will mean not allowing ourselves to be corralled like cattle and branded with political labels that have no meaning anymore. It will mean recognizing that all the evils that surround us today—endless wars, drone strikes, invasive surveillance, militarized police, poverty, asset forfeiture schemes, overcriminalization, etc.—were not of our making but came about as a way to control and profit from us.

    It will mean “voting with our feet” through sustained, mass civil disobedience. As journalist Chris Hedges points out, “There were once radicals in America, people who held fast to moral imperatives. They fought for the oppressed because it was right, not because it was easy or practical. They were willing to accept the state persecution that comes with open defiance. They had the courage of their convictions. They were not afraid.”

    Ultimately, it will mean refusing to be divided, one against each other, as Democrats versus Republicans, and instead uniting behind the only distinction that has ever mattered: “we the people” against tyranny.

  • Bank Of Japan Unleashes Yield Curve Chaos: JGBs Inverted At Short- And Long-End

    You know you have 'tinkered' too much in the machincations of what dealers now call a "dead market" when the world's largest sovereign bond market is inverted at the short-end and the long-end. The utter folly of Peter Pan policy has sent 10Y JGB yields below the BoJ's overnight call rate for the first time ever…

    Japan’s 10-year bond yield dropped to a record -12.5bps Friday, falling below the the negative deposit rate introduced by the Bank of Japan last month, after the central bank’s operation to buy long-term debt met the lowest investor participation on record. Yields on government debt have tumbled since the BOJ announced Jan. 29 that it would start charging 10bps interest on some deposits held at the bank starting Feb. 16.

    40Y Yields are down a stunning 90bps since the BoJ went full retard… to record lows.

     

    AND yields are so low that demand for 40Y JGBs has driven its yield below the 30Y yield by the most ever…

     

    As Bloomberg notes, Japan’s long-term bond yields extended their push to record lows, driven by a shortage as the central bank buys record amounts of securities.

    Investors are hoarding the debt because it still pays interest, while shorter maturities have negative yields.

     

    “We’re in a situation where traders have no stock of the bonds,” said Hideo Suzuki, the chief manager of foreign exchange and financial products trading at Tokyo-based Mitsubishi UFJ Trust & Banking Corp.

    A double inversion – we are sure just a little more debt monetization and the 'deflation mindset' will be vanquished.

    Crucially,  Japanese bond investors are increasingly reluctant to sell their holdings of longer maturities to the central bank as the pool of positive-yielding debt shrinks.

    This means, as BNP Paribas warns, that there is a risk that The BoJ’s bond buying operations will fail to meet target this month, Tomohisa Fujiki, chief rates strategist at the bank.

    In other words – Kuroda just hit the limit of his lies – any more buying from here and arguing that this is not direct debt monetization is simply folly. And as he reminded the world's investors recently – just like Peter Pan, once you stop believing, monetary policy's effectiveness is destroyed.

    We can only imagine the capital controls that are coming…

  • The Great Game & Partitioning Of Syria

    Submitted by Shelley Kasli via OrientalReview.org,

    Russia’s decision to greatly reduce its military presence in Syria, coming as it did with little warning, has left the world struggling for explanations. Russia is to maintain a military presence at its naval base in Tartous and at the Khmeymim airbase. In fact Russia is “withdrawing without withdrawing”.

    The partial withdrawal is seen by many as a message to the Assad government to not take Russia’s military aid for granted, and to be more flexible in the upcoming peace negotiations.

    As Robert F. Kennedy Jr., attorney and nephew of US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy explains, the major reason for the west’s attempt to overthrow the Assad government was to build a natural gas pipeline from Qatar that traversed Syria, capturing its newly discovered offshore reserves, and continued on through Turkey to the EU, as a major competitor to Russia’s Gazprom.

    By re-establishing the Assad government in Syria, and permanently placing its forces at Syrian bases, the Russian’s have placed an impenetrable obstacle to the development of the Qatar gas pipeline. Russia has also placed itself at the nexus point of other new offshore gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Israel, Cyprus, and Greece.

    qatareuropepipelenes

    It’s not hard to imagine a new Russian pipeline to Europe serving these new partners. Could easing of sanctions also lead to the implementation of the long-stalled plans of Gazprom for a second pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany for Russia and its partners, Royal Dutch Shell, Germany’s E.ON, and Austria’s OMV?

    Although the powers involved in Syria are trying to project the partition of Syria as a last resort and a stable political solution that would bring equilibrium, it is not a conclusion reached after all other options were exhausted which has brought many experts to question whether the Partition of Syria was the objective all along?

    Below is just one of such options advocated by various geopolitical experts all along, published by Foreign Policy Research Institute in 2013.

    The most viable alternative to the violent restoration of Sunni Arab hegemony in Syria is partition – either “hard,” resulting in two or more independent states (e.g. Sudan, 2011), or “soft,” as O’Hanlon proposes, resulting in autonomous centralized cantons under a weak federal government (e.g. Bosnia, 1995).

     

    As in Lebanon during its 1975-1990 civil war, de facto partition is happening every day. The question at hand is whether the international community should encourage a settlement that reifies and institutionalizes this fragmentation, rather than seeking to propel one side or the other to victory.

     

    [Spheres of Influence after Partition in Syria]

    Jordan and perhaps Israel would find a friend in a Druze statelet, while a coastal Alawite-dominated statelet would be sure to align with Tehran and Moscow (indeed, partition could be Russia’s best hope of holding onto its naval facility at Tartous long-term). The Kurdish zone would likely form a close relationship with its counterpart in Iraq. The Arab Gulf states would own the center (literally, in many places).

    Many of the present conflicts in the world today take place in the former colonial territories that Britain abandoned, exhausted and impoverished, in the years after the Second World War. This disastrous imperial legacy is still highly visible, and it is one of the reasons why the British Empire continues to provoke such harsh debate. If Britain made such a success of its colonies, why are so many in an unholy mess half a century later, major sources of violence and unrest?

    British Geostrategy for the Subcontinent

    The British policy toward South Asia, and the Middle East as well, is uniformly colonial, and vastly different from that of the United States. Even today, when Washington is powered by people with tunnel vision, at best, the U.S. policy is not to break up nations, but to control the regime, or, as has become more prevalent in recent years, under the influence of the arrogant neocons, to force regime change. While this often creates a messy situation—for example, in Iraq, Lybia, Syria —the U.S. would prefer to avoid such outcomes.

    Britain, on the other hand, built its geostrategic vision in the post-colonial days through the creation of a mess, and furthering the mess, to break up a country; exactly on the same lines India was partitioned in 1947. This policy results in a long-drawn process of violent disintegration. That is the process now in display in nations where the British colonial forces had hunted before, and still pull significant strings.

    When the British left the Indian subcontinent in 1947, it was divided into India and Pakistan. The British colonial geostrategists, coming out of World War II, realized the importance of controlling the oil and gas fields. If possession could not be maintained, the strategists argued, Britain and its allies must remain at a striking distance, to ensure their control of these raw material reserves, and deny them to others.

    Here is where the strategic importance of than British India (India & Pakistan) comes into play which the historians and political analysts have forgotten.

    Strategic Importance of India/Pakistan & the Middle East

    Germany surrendered on 5th May 1945. The same day, Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered an appraisal of the ‘long-term policy required to safeguard the strategic interests of the British Empire in India and the Indian Ocean’ by the Post-Hostilities Planning Staff of the War Cabinet. And, on 19th May, this top-secret appraisal report was placed before him. The central point of this report was that Britain must retain its military connection with the subcontinent so as to ward off the Soviet Union’s threat to the area.

    The report cited four reasons for the strategic importance of India to Britain:

    1. Its value as a base from which forces located there could be suitably placed for deployment both within the Indian Ocean area and in the Middle East and the Far East.

     

    2. A transit point for air and sea communications.

     

    3. A large reserve of manpower of good fighting quality.

     

    4. From the northwest of which British air power could threaten Soviet military installations.

    In each and every subsequent appreciation of the British chiefs of staff from then on till India’s independence that is available for examination, the emphasis was on the need to retain the British military connection with the subcontinent, irrespective of the political and constitutional changes there. Equally, they stressed the special importance of the northwest of India in this context. (Top-secret document, PHP (45) 15 (0) final, 19 May 1945, L/W/S/1/983988 (Oriental and Indian Collection, British Library, London).

    The achievement of these objectives was collectively called as the Great Game. With the beginning of the eighteenth century the French were also able to figure out India’s importance and actively tried to be part of the process of having India’s resources shared for their political objectives in Europe. This reached the pinnacle with the Napoleonic Era where Napoleon was able to figure out that as long as India was in the hands of British it would be impossible to checkmate British in continental European wars. So the Grande army moved into Russia with a tacit agreement of taking India via land route through Afghanistan. When British sensed this plan, coalition after coalition against French were set up finally ending in a war between France and Russia in which Napoleon was finally weakened.

    Later Russians were able to figure out this land route and its benefits and swiftly moved into southern Khanites occupying them one after the other. British sensing the danger of Russian incursion or outright occupation of India did three things.

    • Created buffer kingdoms post 1857 in the form of Kashmir, Afghanistan and Sikh Federated states.

    • Trained the British Indian Army in the General Staff techniques as envisioned by German strategists like von Moltke and others.

    • Meddled with the cultural heritage of India.

    The social engineering was in such a way that in 100 years Indians lost everything of their glorious traditions – culture, customs, sciences – thinking that they have nothing to do with them and meekly surrendered to the British and their system of education.

    To achieve the total control of India, the British used the Divide and Rule policy in terms of religion, clan, tribe, caste, region and language; the effects of which we are still felling as a continuous descent into mental, emotional and psychological slavery from which Indians were never able to come out. This is exactly what is playing out in the Levant War Zone today. This same strategy continues till today disguised under various names and terms – the New Great Game, Cold War, New Cold War etc.

    prepartind2

    Just how many countries were divided even after the end of World War II in the name of ‘Balance of Power’ into various ‘Spheres of Influence’? When the borders were drawn the conflicts were drawn with them and it is called a ‘Peace Plan’. Just like Syria now even India was partitioned by the British in 1947; how much peace has that brought to the two countries? Why do India and Pakistan blame each other and interestingly are unaware or never acknowledge the strategic reasons for which it was divided by the British? Most importantly, after more than 6 decades of Independence why should the former colonies accept the British drawn borders which has only brought more destruction?

  • Mystery Man Behind $100 Million Central Bank Heist Revealed As Bangladesh Moves To Sue Fed

    Bangladesh is not pleased with the NY Fed.

    One Friday in early February, hackers who had apparently been stalking the Bangladesh central bank for at least two weeks bombarded the Fed with requests for transfers of nearly $1 billion from the country’s FX reserves.

    The good news: the vast majority of that total was not transferred. The bad news: $100 million of it was and of that $100 million, more than $80 million is still missing.

    For those who missed the story, you can review it in all its James Bond-ish glory in the four posts linked below, but here is a brief summary of what happened to the $81 million: 1) it was transferred to four accounts at the Jupiter Street, Makati City, branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) in the Philippines, 2) $470,000 in cash went into the branch manager’s trunk and the rest went to a possibly forged (but possibly not) account registered to one William Go, 3) the money was transferred to an FX broker called Philrem, 4) $50 million was split between two casinos and the remaining $31 was delivered to a “Weikang Xu” in cash.

    From there, the trail goes cold.

    (branch manager Maia Santos Deguito)

    The CCTV cameras at the bank weren’t functioning during the questionable transfers but branch manager Maia Santos Deguito stands accused of ignoring a stop order from the central bank and from her superiors. Meanwhile William Go claims he had nothing to do with it, Bangladesh’s finance minister AMA Muhith thinks his country’s central bank was in on the scam, and the NY Fed says it followed proper protocol. This evening, WSJ reported that according to people familiar with Bangladesh central bank’s operations, its SWIFT terminal for interbank messaging might have been left logged on on the night of February 4, creating a hole via which more than $100 million was stolen.

    As we wrote last week, “what seems likely here is that this is part of something far larger and it could very well be that none of the people along the paper trail (Deguito, Go, whoever was or wasn’t involved at the Bangladesh Bank, etc.) actually knows who is ultimately pulling the strings.”

    Regardless of who is behind the heist, the Fed “cannot avoid their responsibility in any way,” FinMin Muhith insists.  

    His government is apparently willing to push that line, because as Reuters reports, “Bangladesh’s central bank has hired a lawyer in the United States for a potential lawsuit against the New York Federal Reserve.”

    “We view this as a major lapse on the part of FRB NY,” BB said in the report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

    (Muhith)

    RCBC has since fired Deguito and her assistant Angela Torres who requested the money that later ended up in her boss’s car. Branch officer Romualdo Agarrado claims Deguito told him that she feared for her life and that was why she had to ignore the freeze order on the accounts. Here’s what he told lawmakers: “But the one that stuck in my mind – she said, ‘I would rather do this than me being killed, or my family.’” Deguito denied making the statement.

    Deguito would later say William Go asked for 10% of the $81 million to keep quiet about the scheme. Go has since threatened to sue Deguito.

    We offered Maia (to be included in the) Witness Protection Program but she turned it down,” Osmena, chairman of the Senate committee on banks and financial institutions, told PhilStar who adds that Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said there is a need to establish first Deguito’s role before she can be tapped as state witness. “I don’t think that’s proper at this point. Being a state witness means she must not be the most guilty, but according to the testimonies during the hearing, she appears to be one of the main actors in this scheme,” Ejercito said.

    Perhaps she should have accepted the witsec offer. Over the weekend, reports suggested a cyber crime expert who spoke to police and the media about the heist had disappeared. 

    “Kamrun Nahar Chowdhury said her husband Tanveer Hassan Zoha had been taken from a motorized rickshaw in the early hours of Thursday by people in plainclothes who blindfolded him and drove off with him in a vehicle,” Reuters said.

    Meanwhile, the Philippines’ anti-money-laundering agency has filed criminal complaints against Weikang Xu – the casino junket operator who took delivery of $31 million in cash at the Bloomberry – and another businessman named Kim Wong. “The president of PhilRem, a local money-remittance firm that helped transfer the money, testified that once the money was in the Philippines, $29 million was directed to the account of a man he identified as Mr. Xu at Manila-based Solaire Resort & Casino. He also said that approximately $30 million was delivered to Mr. Xu in cash,” WSJ writes. “PhilRem’s president said an additional $21 million was transferred to a local online gambling company called Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co., owned by Mr. Wong.”

    “The AMLC alleged that Wong knew or should have known that the funds remitted or transferred to the accounts of the four ‘John Does,’ ‘Willam Go,’ Philippine Remittance Ltd. (PhilRem), Eastern Hawaii Casino and Resort in the Cagayan province, and to his own account were part of the stolen funds from the Bangladesh Bank,” CNN Philippines reports

    Who is Kim Wong, you ask? Good question. Here’s a bit of useful background information from ABS-CBN:

    Fifteen years ago, on August 23, 2001, a 39-year-old Chinese man–also named Kam Sin Wong, alias Kim Wong–faced the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

     

    Wong sat in the same room just a few steps away from three other men who had accused him of involvement in illegal drugs and other criminal activities.

     

    The three were Col. Victor Corpus, then chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP); former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim; and one Ador Mawanay, an alleged agent of the now defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.

     

    According to the Senate transcripts of the hearing, Corpus had suspected Sen. Panfilo Lacson of links to the illegal drug trade and that it was Wong who was the senator’s conduit to the drug mafia.

     

    Both Lacson and Wong denied the allegations.

     

    Wong told the Senate hearing that he had no clue as to why the ISAFP was accusing him of such crimes. “Ako ay isang negosyante lang na maliit,” Wong said.

     

    But as the hearing unfolded, it became clear Wong was anything but a small-time businessman.

     


     

    By 2001, Wong owned a garments business and three restaurants in Manila as well as golf and tennis club memberships. 

     

    It would appear business was going very well because he and three Chinese friends were in a position to gift the Western Police District with a building which was constructed within the police headquarters’ premises.

     

    By the time the Senate wrapped up its 2001 investigation, Wong was left unscathed, while his principal accuser, Corpus, was admonished for his “blunder.” 

     

    Corpus had presented the picture of the wrong Wong to the media at the onset of the probe. Mawanay too was deemed an “unreliable” witness, according to the committee report.

     

    Allegations against Lacson were merely passed on to the Department of Justice for further investigation in 2001.

     

    NBI records in 2001 showed one Kam Sin Wong had been charged for swindling and estafa.

     

    And then, in 2009, a case of illegal dismissal was filed by one John Aguyaoy before the National Labor Relations Commission against the Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. and Kim Wong.

     

    The case reached the Court of Appeals, with the Eastern Hawaii Leisure Corporation saying Wong was “neither an employee (nor) director or stock holder of the company” and Aguyaoy saying “Wong is the real owner …and the police, the public, his employees …were all made to believe that he is the owner because he was in control of all the activities” of the company. 

     

    But aside from these cases, not much was heard about Wong, until the name of one Kam Sin Wong alias Kim Wong surfaced again last week.

    PhilStar sums all of the above up as follows: “In 2001, Wong was tagged as one of former Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s financiers during the investigation of the former senator’s alleged hidden wealth and ties with drug lords.” According to Deguito, it was Wong who introduced her to Michael Francisco Cruz, Jessie Christopher Lagrosas, Alfred Santos Vergara and Enrico Teodoro Vasquez, the four “John Does” whose names were on the RCBC accounts where the money was initially transferred after it left the NY Fed. 

    She also says it was Wong who told her to open the account under William Go’s name. “When the Senate Blue Ribbon committee opened the investigation on March 15, it said it could not locate Lagrosas, Vasquez, Cruz and Vergara at their given addresses,” ABS-CBN goes on to note.

    So we suppose the question now is this: who does Wong work for? Or is this, like the accusations against the businessman in 2001, a case of mistaken identity wherein unscrupulous witnesses are presenting a picture of the “wrong Wong”? 

    Incidentally, Panfilo Lacson is running for Senate again. In two months.

  • Nail Bomb, Chemicals, ISIS Flag Found As Manhunt Underway For Brussels Bombing Suspect

    Just days after the manhunt for Salah Abdeslam ended with the Paris fugitive’s capture in the Muslim enclave of Molenbeek, another frantic search is underway in Belgium.

    This time police are looking for an as yet unidentified man wearing a white collared shirt and dark bucket hat who was captured on camera pushing a luggage trolley through the Brussels airport today alongside the two men who are suspected of having blown themselves up as part of the coordinated terrorist attacks that rocked the city on Tuesday morning.

    Although there are still far more questions than answers, we now have bit more in the way of detail as to what happened just before the attacks.

    Based on surveillance video footage, we know the three men arrived at the airport in a taxi and while the two men on the left in the picture shown above apparently died in the attack (the gloves seen on their left hands are thought to hide triggers), the third man apparently fled the scene.

    The suitcase on his trolley was later located by Belgian police and detonated.

    “They came in a taxi with their suitcases, their bombs were in their bags,” Francis Vermeiren, the mayor of Zaventem said.  “They put their suitcases on trolleys, the first two bombs exploded. The third also put his on a trolley but he must have panicked, it did not explode.” US officials say it’s more likely that the third man’s escape was planned.

    The ensuing manhunt led police to a residence in Schaerbeek where a nail bomb, chemicals, and an ISIS flag were reportedly discovered.

    Several sources contend that the taxi driver who delivered the men to the airport led police to the home where the items were discovered.

    According to The Mirror, the driver told officials he had tried to help the men with their bags “but was abruptly ordered not to touch their luggage”. Other reports suggest he told authorities he was alarmed at how heavy their bags seemed.

    “Based on what we found after the attacks, we had some information and we did a lot of house searches today,” Belgium’s interior minister, Jan Jambon told CNN. Belgian security sources also said the “working assumption” is that the men come from the same cell that orchestrated the Paris attacks. In other words, the dark legacy of Abdelhamid Abaaoud lives on

    Indeed, Abdeslam may have built upon the remnants of Abaaoud’s cell. “We have seen a new network of people around him in Brussels,” Belgian authorities told AP after his arrest last week. Some observers now believe his arrest may have compelled the group to pull forward a planned attack for fear that they would be arrested before they had a chance to act. “The bombings came days after Belgian officials warned of possible attacks following the arrest in a Brussels shootout on Friday of Salah Abdeslam, the only known survivor of 10 Islamist attackers who killed 130 people in a string of suicide bombings and shootings in Paris in November,” The Guardian wrote, earlier today.

    There had been “chatter” related to today’s attack dating as far back as “3-4 weeks ago,” MSNBC said. 

    Meanwhile, the front pages of Wednesday’s Belgian newspapers are beginning to surface. Here are a few examples:

    Expect ongoing raids throughout Brussels as police desperately attempt to track down the third suspect in the airport bombings and as authorities rush to head off what even PM Charles Michel admits are likely to be “more” black days to come.

    As for ISIS, the group says what’s coming next “is worse.”

    *  *  *

    Official ISIS statement


  • Just 3 Charts

    Earlier today Fed President Evans said this "I think the economic fundamentals [of the US] are really quite good." As the following three charts show, there is only one thing that looks "quite good" and it is not 'economic fundamentals'…

    Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans says “we expect 2016 growth will be 2 to 2.5 percent and I think the fundamentals are really quite good for the economy going forward.”

     

    “Joint economic outlook numbers weren’t really all that different” in latest SEP compared to December

    Macro-economy? Nope…

     

    Micro-economy? Earnings expectations… Nope!

     

    And The Bond Market… Nope!!

     

    So what exactly is is that Mr.Evans sees? Either he is stupid (PhD suggests otherwise), ignorant (possible), or lying (probable) since the only thing that matters clearly in the level of the S&P 500 – being above 2,000! Or was Evans' hawkishness a sign The Fed is worried that markets are way over their skis once again?

  • It's Official: Canadian Bank Depositors Are Now At Risk Of Bail-Ins

    Earlier today, Canada’s new Liberal government unveiled a stimulus budget meant to revive slumping growth with a surge in infrastructure spending and said it would run a deficit nearly three times larger than promised during last year’s election.

    The government projected a C$29.4 billion ($22.5 billion) deficit for fiscal 2016-17 and gave no target date for returning to a balanced budget. This budget broke virtually all pledges the Liberals made before the election, including running just three years of deficits of up to C$10 billion before balancing the books by fiscal 2019-20.

    “We are seizing the opportunity to invest in people and the economy, and to prepare Canada for a brighter future,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said.

    What he is really seizing is the Bank of Canada money printer, because in order to monetize this surging deficit, the BOC will soon have to unleash its own QE in the coming months. 

    As Reuters adds, because the Liberals command a majority in the Canadian Parliament’s House of Commons, the budget is guaranteed to pass.

    Which is bad news not so much for the Canadian Dollar, which will certainly devalue in the coming months as the market prices in what a massive surge in deficit spending means although so will all other currencies as the global debasement race accelerates once more in a few short months, but for bank depositors, because deep inside the budget announcement, in the section discussing “tax fairness and a strong financial sector”, we have official confirmation that Canada has just become the latest country to treat depositors as the bank creditors they are, and as such, they too will be impaired, or “bailed-in” the next time a Canadian bank needs to be rescued.

    The specific text:

    Introducing a Bank Recapitalization “Bail-in” Regime

     

    To protect Canadian taxpayers in the unlikely event of a large bank failure, the Government is proposing to implement a bail-in regime that would reinforce that bank shareholders and creditors are responsible for the bank’s risks—not taxpayers. This would allow authorities to convert eligible long-term debt of a failing systemically important bank into common shares to recapitalize the bank and allow it to remain open and operating. Such a measure is in line with international efforts to address the potential risks to the financial system and broader economy of institutions perceived as “too-big-to-fail”.

     

    The Government is proposing to introduce framework legislation for the regime along with accompanying enhancements to Canada’s bank resolution toolkit. Regulations and guidelines setting out further features of the regime will follow. This will provide stakeholders with an additional opportunity to comment on elements of the proposed regime.

     

    Bail-in Regime for Banks

     

    Canada’s financial system performed well during the 2008 global financial crisis. Since that time, Canada has been an active participant in the G20’s financial sector reform agenda aimed at addressing the factors that contributed to the crisis. This includes international efforts to address the potential risks to the financial system and broader economy of institutions perceived as “too-big-to-fail”. Implementation of a bail-in regime for Canada’s domestic systemically important banks would strengthen our bank resolution toolkit so that it remains consistent with best practices of peer jurisdictions and international standards endorsed by the G20.

    This new “bail-in” regime is spun as benefitting taxpayers; what isn’t mentioned is that most of those taxpayers who will be “protected” also happen to be the impaired depositors (also known as creditors) in these soon to be bailed-in banks, which begs the question: just who or what is being protected here?

    Should oil remain at its current price, or drift lower again, we will certainly find out in practice, because as even Canada’s regulator is now warning, there is far less stability than meets the eye behind the “rock solid” balance sheet facade of Canada’s banks.

  • Greek Border Desperation: 2 Refugees Self-Immolate Over 'Concentration Camp' Conditions

    Just days after Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis compared the nation's refugee camps to WW2 concentration camps, saying "I wouldn’t hesitate to say that this is a modern Dachau," KeepTalkingGreece reports two men poured gasoline on their clothes and set them on fire on Tuesday morning to protest the appalling conditions at Idomeni camp and the closure of the borders.

    Other refugees who were standing by managed to extinguished the fire and save their lives. But both men suffered injuries and were transferred to hospitals in Kilkis and Thessaloniki, reports the Athens news Agency.

     

    With their action, the two refugees reportedly wanted to protest the appalling conditions at Idomeni camp and the closure of the borders.

     

    idomeni refugees

     

    The action triggered tension among the other refugees who stated to chant “Open borders”.

     

    Last night another man set poured fuel on his clothes, other refugees were quick to stop him from set himself on fire.

     

    Another group of some 50 refugees and migrants demonstrate with a sit-in on the rail tracks.

     

    More than 13,000 people of several nationalities and refugee or migrant status insist on staying at Idomeni camp, despite repeated Greek government calls that they should move to “accommodation centers” set by the Greek Army across the country. They hope that the borders to FYROM will open and that they can reach Germany and other countries.

     

    The government has repeatedly said that it “will not remove the people form Idomeni by force.”

    Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis compared the camps to Dachau. "I wouldn’t hesitate to say that this is a modern Dachau," he said, lamenting what he called “the awakening of a kind of nationalism against persecuted people." As we showed previously, Indomeni is an atrocity…

    KTG concludes,

    "I don’t know how long the Greek government will keep its non-violent approach, if troubles continue up there in Idomeni."

  • Rubio's Failure: How Our Broken Economy Fuels Voter Rage

    Submitted by Hunter Lewis via The Mises Institute,

    Rubio post-mortems miss the point. In the end, it is just more fall-out from crony capitalism.

    None of the post-mortems of Rubio’s campaign I have seen mention the real reason why the young senator, so articulate, so successful, recently touted as the future of his party, never got launch speed in his campaign for the presidency. It is actually Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)’s handiwork, aided and abetted by Rubio’s misjudgment.

    Shortly after the 2012 election, the GOP was worrying about Romney’s poor showing among Hispanics. At the same time, Senator Schumer and other Democrats were thinking that Rubio, himself Hispanic, was by far the most electable Republican candidate in 2016. How to bring him down?

    Schumer’s plan was simple: lure Rubio into the gang of eight immigration bill promising eventual citizenship to all illegal immigrants. Success in this would effectively kill Rubio’s chances in 2016 with GOP primary voters. Rubio would not only have gotten out of step with those primary voters; he would also have reversed the position he took in his Senate race and thus appear to be dishonest.

    Would Rubio walk into this trap? That it was a carefully plotted trap was clear enough to me and others at the time. But he did. Once he did, the odds of his gaining the GOP nomination were always poor. They became even poorer as President Obama increasingly refused to enforce border protection laws, thereby stirring up GOP voters on the issue.

    Immigration Reform was Rubio’s RomneyCare

    It is possible that had Rubio run in 2012, before all this happened, he might be president today. The GOP primary voters in 2012 were clearly looking for some alternative to Romney and Rubio might have been that alternative. The only thing against him in 2012 was his youth and John Kennedy had overcome that handicap. If he had run and gotten Romney’s vote but done better with under 30 year olds and Hispanics, he would have had the votes to be elected.

    Ironically, party donors begged Chris Christie, Rubio’s recent nemesis, to enter the race then too, and if he had, he might have won the nomination. His chances against President Obama, however, would not have been as good, if only because Rubio could run as the first Hispanic candidate for president, which would have helped when running against the first black president.

    Was there any way Rubio could have recovered from his miscalculation? There was one possibly effective tack to take. When Rubio signed onto the gang of eight bill, he said that if legislation was not passed, President Obama was going to take dictatorial and unconstitutional action on the border. By 2015, Rubio could have cited his earlier comment, totally disavowed the gang of eight bill, claimed that it had been intended solely to stop President Obama, and that having failed to do so and in the wake of President Obama’s actions, it no longer deserved support. It is doubtful this would have worked, but it might have been more effective than what Rubio did, which was to temporize and obfuscate and even pretend that Senator Cruz had supported the bill, which was not true.

    This is not unlike Mitt Romney’s tortured stance on RomneyCare in 2011 and 2012. Romney might have done better to disavow completely RomneyCare in Massachusetts as a failed experiment rather than temporizing and obfuscating about it. In the absence of a complete abandonment of RomneyCare, he could never really mount an effective attack on Obamacare, RomneyCare’s lookalike, and he needed such an effective attack in order to win election. Tactics aside, Romney may not have wanted to do this because he really believed in RomneyCare and the same may have been true of Rubio. He may not have been able to disavow the gang of eight bill because, deep down, he still believed in it, and his conscience would not let him lie.

    The Politics of a Failing Economy

    None of this may seem to be connected to economics, but the connection is actually quite close. The economy has performed so poorly for so long that tens of millions of primary voters are very, very worried. The more they worry about getting or keeping jobs, the more they worry about job competition from immigrants, and the more easily they become inflamed about open borders. Voters also sense that the crony capitalists are getting richer while they are getting poorer, which is true, and they identify the crony capitalists with the unlimited immigration position. Big business in particular wants the cheapest labor possible, they reason, and this means big business wants open borders.

    There is an irony here. Free and open markets, with free and open prices, not controlled by government, are the only way to create prosperity and jobs for the poor and middle class, not just those enriching themselves from government connections. Yet a declining economy often produces political waves that are inimical to free and open markets.

    Meanwhile, the greatest harm done to the economy has been done by the world’s central bankers. Entrusted with protecting the value of global currencies, they have instead trashed them, in the process creating today’s cycles of bubble and bust. No economic logic, no valid theory, no empirical evidence supports what these self-appointed central economic planners have done, but the more their radical ideas fail, the more they double down on them. The only beneficiaries are the crony capitalist rich and is it any wonder that, under these circumstances, primary voters would be angry and look to unconventional candidates?

    A Declining Empire

    The reasons for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire have been endlessly debated. In my own view, there were three, highly interrelated causes.

    The first was noted by Ludwig von Mises: the Emperors debased the currency and by doing so destroyed what had been a thriving economy, what might be called the world’s first “global” trading economy. So far, we are doing the same.

     

    Second, the emperors increasingly opened the borders to immigrants. This might have turned out better if the economy had been thriving. But with the economy in sharp decline, it made a bad situation worse and eventually led to outright invasions.

     

    Third, pandemics arrived, massive pandemics that wiped out large proportions of the population. We have not yet experienced anything like that, but medical authorities continually warn us that it could happen anytime, and could take the form of a viral pandemic, for which there would be no cure, or a bacterial pandemic such as TB, because we have allowed antibiotic resistant forms to flourish through antibiotic misuse.

    It is a long way from Marco Rubio back to Marcus Aurelius, the “good” emperor who nevertheless persecuted the Christians, or the many incompetent or mad Caesars, but humanity does tend to make the same errors over and over again and rarely takes the time or trouble to learn from the past.

  • Who Would Be Better Fighting Terror: Trump or Clinton?

    Trump and Clinton both claim they’re the better candidate for stopping terrorism.

    Let’s fact-check their statements and their records …

    Clinton

    Hillary Clinton is largely responsible for regime change in Libya (for oil and gold?), the war in Syria (to help Israel?), violence in Honduras, and the entire concept of “humanitarian war”.

    Clinton is largely responsible for the West’s backing of Al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups, to act as the tip of the spear in fomenting regime change throughout the Middle East.

    And she supports Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and other despotic regimes that support terrorism.

    Clinton’s policies have greatly increased terrorism.  Specifically, Clinton has for many years – as the president’s wife, Secretary of State, and now presidential candidate – been championing some of the largest causes of terrorism, including: overthrowing moderates, arming crazies, supporting dictators who support terrorists, bombing and invading when negotiated peace is possible, and imperial conquests for Arab oil.

    Trump

    Trump has said some unusually blunt things about terrorism …

    For example, he said that the wars in the Middle East have made us less safe:

    We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems — our airports and all the other problems we have — we would have been a lot better off, I can tell you that right now.

     

    We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East — we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away — and for what? It’s not like we had victory. It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized, a total and complete mess. I wish we had the 4 trillion dollars or 5 trillion dollars. I wish it were spent right here in the United States on schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart!

    He’s right.  Security experts – including both conservatives and liberals – agree that waging war in the Middle East weakens national security and increases terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

    Trump has also said that the U.S. would be safer if Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi were still in power, and if Syria’s Assad was stronger.  He’s correct: all of the countries we’ve “regime changed” have descended into brutal chaosallowing ISIS and other terrorists to spread.

    And Trump has said that we should not back “humanitarian wars”, but only wars to defend our country from imminent threat (pages 141-142).

    Trump’s claim that we should temporary close our borders to Muslims obviously rubs Democrats the wrong way.

    But anyone who thinks we should let in anyone who wants to come here from the Middle East is naive and dangerous.  After all, the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security says that the outmoded U.S. immigration system – and the authorities’ lack of progress in automating their systems – poses a security risk to the U.S. And ISIS has publicly announced that they’re  infiltrating immigrant groups to enter the West.

    At the least, we need much stricter background checks and screening procedures. Do we need to temporarily close the borders to implement them?  Probably not … but until we do tighten screening procedures, we’re leaving ourselves open to a very dangerous situation, with more San Bernadinos (and Paris and Brussels) a real possibility.

    Trump’s call for more waterboarding and torture is extremely misguided.

    Specifically, top terrorism and interrogation experts agree that torture creates more terrorists.  Indeed, the leaders of ISIS were motivated by U.S. torture.

    Torture will make us less safe, and create more terrorists.

  • This Could Be A Problem: Losses On "Deep" Subprime Auto Double Industry Average

    On Saturday, we highlighted a rather disturbing statistic.

    60+ day delinquencies for subprime auto ABS have now risen above crisis levels to 5.16% – levels we haven’t seen since 1996.

    That won’t surprise regular readers. The writing has been on the wall for quite a while. More auto loan originations are going to borrowers with shoddy credit and loan terms are looking more and more stretched by the quarter. Just ask the NY Fed. Or Experian, where even permabull Melinda Zabritski will tell you that underwriting standards are getting looser (although she likely won’t say that’s a bad thing).

    While Citi and others are quick to point out that the originate to sell model isn’t prevalent in the auto loan industry, the inability for lenders to securitize subprime loans may well put the brakes on US auto sales. After all, the pool of creditworthy borrowers is finite. That means that at a certain point, incremental sales must be engineered by making ineligible borrowers eligible by resorting to looser underwriting. But that only works if you can offload that credit risk. No lender wants to be sitting on a book full of used car loans to deep subprime borrowers with sub-600 FICOs, and so, if demand for subprime auto ABS dries up, so too will credit to the subset of borrowers who are driving (no pun intended) incremental sales growth.

    Here’s a look at the share of total auto loans that have been securitized:

    As you can see, and as we noted last week, the share has remained range-bound for at least 15 years. But again, the question is what happens to auto sales if lenders can no longer expand the pool of eligible borrowers by relaxing their standards? That would likely occur if subprime and deep suprime start to underperform, leading investors to pull back from paper backed by loans to less creditworthy borrowers. And guess what? Deep subprime is underperforming. Massively. Here’s Goldman: 

    Many of the deep subprime pools are experiencing losses above the industry average. Exhibit 6, for example, shows the losses on three large 2015 vintage deep subprime deals vs. the subprime industry aggregate. The deeper subprime deals have losses over two times the industry average.

     

     

    Remember, somebody owns this paper and they sure as hell won’t be buying into any more deep subprime deals if the collateral pools continue to perform like that. And if investors aren’t buying, then lenders can’t offload their credit risk which in turn means they will simply stop lending to shoddy borrowers. Once that happens, you can kiss the US auto sales “miracle” goodbye – for good. 

    If you need proof of just how important the ability to securitize truly is for subprime auto lenders, simply review the first-hand account we published last week that details what’s happening “under the industry’s hood,” so to speak.

    For now, we’ll close with one last chart from Goldman which shows what happens when a pair of trillion dollar bubbles collide head-on with Americans’ inability to free themselves from the shackles of debt:

  • "We Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," Dutch Party Leader Rages: "We Need To De-Islamize The West"

    November’s mass murders in Paris; today’s suicide bombings in Brussles… that’s just the beginning for Europe according to Dutch Party For Freedom (PVV) leader and prominent counter-Islamist campaigner Geert Wilders who spoke earlier today with Breitbart London in the aftermath of this morning’s major terror attack and has lamented it is just the beginning of growing Islamist violence.

     

    Wilders, who recently said male refugees are “testosterone bombs,” and must be locked up to save women from “sexual jihad” said: “I fear that we ain’t seen nothing yet. According to Europol 3,000 to 5,000 European jihadists, who went to Syria to fight in the ranks of IS and similar terrorist groups, have meanwhile returned to Western Europe. Some of them hid among the hundreds of thousands of Islamic asylum seekers that entered Europe from Asia and Africa.”

    He added that “two of last November’s terrorist in Paris had fought in Syria. So had the terrorist who, last August, attempted to attack the high speed train between Amsterdam and Paris. So had the two terrorists who, in January 2015, massacred the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo. So had the terrorist who, in May 2014, shot four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.”

    According to Breitbart, Belgian police have recently said at least 90 returned fighters from the Islamic State are living at liberty in Brussels, many of them in the infamous Molenbeek neighbourhood. European Commission insider Hermann Kelly told Breitbart Radio this morning he was concerned so many lived just miles from the political capital of the European Union.

    Kelly said: “This is amazing to me that these people can kill people abroad, come here, and then walk free in the centre of Brussels.”

    Wilders then went on: “Returned Syria fighters are a huge threat. They are dangerous predators roaming our streets. It is absolutely unbelievable that our governments allow them to return. And it is incredible that, once returned, they are not imprisoned.”

    “In the Netherlands, we have dozens of these returned jihadists. Our government allows most of them to freely walk our streets and refuses to lock them up. I demand that they be detained at once. Every government in the West, which refuses to do so, is a moral accessory if one of these monsters commits an atrocity.

    “The government must also close our national borders. The European Union’s Schengen zone, where no border controls are allowed, is a catastrophe. The Belgian Moroccan Salah Abdeslam, the mastermind of last November’s bloodbath in Paris, travelled freely from Belgium to the Netherlands on multiple occasions last year.”

    “This is intolerable. Open borders are a huge safety risk. Our citizens are in mortal danger if we do not restore control over our own national borders.”

    Speaking earlier today Mr. Wilders lamented that commuters were killed in “cold blood” and said “The cause of all this bloodshed is Islam. We need to de-Islamize the West. That is the only way to safeguard our lives and protect our freedom”.

    With every passing day, ever more people agree with his perspective, which incidentally is quite comparable to that of Donald Trump, who wants not an end to Europe’s customs union, but a wall along the southern U.S. border.

  • "Free" Trade, Jobs, & Income Inequality: It's Not As Easy As We Might Think

    Submitted by Charles Huigh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

    Cheap imports, offshoring of production and the global expansion of financial markets have driven U.S. corporate and financial profits to unprecedented heights.

    Globalization (a.k.a. "free" trade) has become an election issue for two reasons: many voters blame "free" trade with China and other nations for job losses in the U.S. and rising income inequality as globalization's "winners" in the U.S. outpace its far more numerous "losers."

    A recent article in the New York Times looks at the issue from the perspective of recent economic studies: On Trade, Angry Voters Have a Point (via Lew G.)

    The case for globalization based on the fact that it helps expand the economic pie by 3 percent becomes much weaker when it also changes the distribution of the slices by 50 percent.

    Before we dig into this complicated set of interconnected macro-dynamics, let's stipulate that there is no such thing as "free" trade. Every trade agreement defines winners and losers by the very design of the agreement.

    Also, other issues that are outside the confines of the actual trade agreement can have outsized influence on trade's winners and losers.

    For example, trade between the U.S. and China cannot possibly be "free" because China pegs its currency to the U.S. dollar (USD). This peg enables China to arbitrarily keep its products cheaper than they might be if the market set the value of China's yuan.

    We must also keep in mind that the owner of the reserve currency, the U.S., must export its currency in size, i.e. run a permanent and substantial trade deficit. I've explained Triffin's Paradox many times; please read (or re-read) these essays if you want to understand why trade deficits are integral to the reserve currency and are not a feature of any particular trade agreement:

    Understanding the "Exorbitant Privilege" of the U.S. Dollar (November 19, 2012)

    The Federal Reserve, Interest Rates and Triffin's Paradox (November 19, 2015)

    Many overlook the fact that central bank interventions play an enormous role in establishing globalization's winners and losers. By lowering interest rates to zero (or less than zero) and flooding the banking sector with credit/liquidity, central banks encouraged an explosion of global carry trades, in which financiers borrow cheap in one currency to buy high-yielding assets in another currency/nation.

    The central-bank fueled explosion in credit also threw gasoline on speculative investments in emerging market nations, distorting currencies, markets and trade. The point here is that globalization, financialization and central bank interventions are tightly bound together. We cannot talk about any of these drivers in isolation; together, they form one system we loosely call "global trade."

    Let's move on to globalization's impact on jobs, income and income disparity. The article linked above notes that one study found trade with China erased 2.4 million jobs in the U.S. Other studies have found an offsetting consequence: the purchasing power of middle-class and working class households rose by 26% due to globalization's relentless reductions in the cost of imported goods.

    We must take all such estimates with a grain of salt, as there are many dynamics in play. The U.S. economy has been roiled by deep structural changes since the late 1960s; there has been no let-up in systemic turbulence: the end of the Bretton Woods stability in foreign exchange markets; the rise of Japanese and Asian imports in the 1970s and 80s; oil shocks and stagflation in the 1970s; the cost of dealing with industrial pollution of our air, water and soil; the tech boom–the cost of processors and memory have fallen while advances in software and robotics accelerate; the explosive changes wrought by the Internet; the rise of China and the Asian Tigers as the world's low-cost workshop, and various speculative debt/fraud bubbles that burst with catastrophic consequences for participants and non-players alike.

    At the risk of overloading you with data, let's look at a few key charts and mark the rise of China's influence, the rise of financialization and income inequality and the explosive rise in U.S. corporate profits.

    Here are the charts we'll be reviewing:

    — Civilian employment-population ratio (the percentage of the population who are employed in some fashion, including self-employed and part-time)

    — Productivity (and income disparity)

    — Income inequality

    — U.S. Financial profits

    — U.S. Corporate profits

    On the face of it, the U.S. experienced a multi-decade boom in employment from the early 1980s to 2008. Many have noted that the key demographic driver of this rise in employment was the mass entry of women into the work force. Many believe the loss of purchasing power in the stagflationary 1970s pushed women into the work force as the only means of maintaining household buying power. There were other drivers, of course; nothing this structural reduces down to one single cause.

    This chart looks like a giant head-and-shoulders pattern that correlates with the rise and fall of financialization, which is the commodification of previously safe assets such as housing and the explosive rise in debt, derivatives and financial gaming (which quickly morphs into fraud if regulatory agencies fall asleep at the wheel).

    It's difficult to separate China's rise and the bursting of the tech bubble, as both occurred in the same time frame; undoubtedly both negatively impacted employment.

    The disconnect between productivity and wages really took off with the rise of financialization and cheap technology tools in the early 1980s. This is not coincidental, and can't be pinned on globalization or trade with China, which occurred much later.

    As we see in this chart of income inequality, the top 10% (the "winners" in financialization and tech) had already pulled away from the bottom 90% when China entered the WTO in 2001. Clearly, the disparity began before China's trade was large enough to impact the U.S. economy; the dramatic increase in trade with China post-2001 had little impact on the disparity between the top 10% and the bottom 90%.

    This chart of financial profits and debt/GDP shows the dramatic expansion of debt from the early 1980s and the explosive rise in financial profits as interest rates were pushed to zero and the debt/housing bubble #2 took off.

    Could globalization have been a factor in this monumental expansion of financial profits? As noted above, it's clear that the globalization of finance–carry trades, the expansion of financial markets in emerging nations–gave U.S. financiers, corporations and banks an enormously expanded field for skimming fees and profits via debt, derivatives and speculation.

    Total U.S. corporate profits soared once trade with China and the financial free-for-all of housing/debt/fraud took off. This chart makes it clear that the winners from 2001 on were financiers and corporations exploiting two dynamics: offshoring production to China and maintaining product costs to reap outsized profits, and borrowing cheap money to expand overseas and skim profits from carry trades.

    What do we get if we add these charts up?

    1. Offshoring of production jobs to China et al. undoubtedly slashed jobs for the bottom 90%, but these losses were offset (or masked) by the rise of housing/debt/fraud bubbles that boosted employment in the FIRE sector (finance, insurance, real estate).

     

    2. Financialization and central bank intervention greatly rewarded those with the skills and sociopathologies needed to participate in the resulting debt/fraud booms.

     

    3. U.S. corporations reaped the gains from offshoring jobs, and these gains flowed to top management and those who own corporate shares, i.e. the top 5%.

     

    4. The trend of rising income disparity started long before China's trade was significant enough to impact the U.S. economy, and correlates with the rise of financialization and cheaper technology tools.

     

    5. These trends rewarded management, finance and technology expertise, which are concentrated in the top 10% of the work force.

     

    6. Cheap imports, offshoring of production and the global expansion of financial markets have driven U.S. corporate and financial profits to unprecedented heights. Since these profits largely flow to top management, financiers, technocrats and owners of corporate capital–roughly speaking the top 10% or even top 5%–it's no wonder wealth and income disparity is rising: there is no other output possible in the current system.

    Slapping fees on imports (which by the way is illegal in treaties such as the WTO) will not solve the larger problems of reduced employment, stagnant wages and rising income inequality. To make a dent in those issues, we'll need to tackle central bank and central-state policies that have pushed finance and speculative churn to supremacy over the productive economy.

     

  • After Watching Baseball Game In Cuba, Obama Orders U.S. Flags At Half-Staff "Out Of Respect" For Brussels Victims

    When president Obama spoke in Cuba earlier today, he dedicated about one minute to address today’s tragic events in Europe. He then spent the next several hours attending a baseball exhibition game in Cuba between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team. 

    Perhaps responding to some righteous public indignation, this is how Obama explained his decision to disregard what is happening in Europe, and to enjoy himself while chaos and tragedy reigned across the Atlantic:

    “The whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people’s ordinary lives,” President Obama said in an interview with ESPN during the game, noting that “it’s always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world.”

     

    By that logic Obama should simply never do anything: after all, the “last thing terrorists want” is for Obama to ever stop watching baseball. One thing is certain: U.S. taxpayers would be absolutely delighted if the “terrorists win” on this one.

    The president added that one of his “proudest moments as president” was when Boston united in the wake of the attack on the city’s marathon, complimenting Red Sox David Ortiz’s in particular for declaring that Boston would not be intimidated.  “When Ortiz went out and said probably the only time that America didn’t have a problem with somebody, a person on live TV, was when he talked about Boston, how strong it was and that it was not going to be intimidated,” Obama said.

    Ok, then.

    In any case, the criticism of Obama’s bizarre behavior did not end there and continued with the following pillorying of Obama by Ted Cruz: “President Obama should be back in America keeping this country safe. Or president Obama should be planning to travel to Brussels,” Cruz said today at a news conference on Capitol Hill.”

    At this point, realizing the situation was suddenly slipping out of control, Obama did what he does best – issue if not an executive order, then a presidential proclamation, one which was supposed to mask just how clueless Obama’s response so far today has been.

    This is what he ordained:

    Presidential Proclamation — Honoring the Victims of the Attack in Brussels, Belgium

     

    HONORING THE VICTIMS OF THE ATTACK IN BRUSSELS, BELGIUM

     

    – – – – – – –

     

    BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

     

    A PROCLAMATION

     

    The American people stand with the people of Brussels.  We will do whatever it takes, working with nations and peoples around the world, to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice, and to go after terrorists who threaten our people

     

    As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on March 22, 2016, in Brussels,Belgium, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, March 26, 2016.  I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

     

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

    And with flags at half-staff, Obama’s has washed his hands of all further responsibility.

  • "Western Tuesday" Begins: Republicans Bet The House On Utah To Stop Trump

    Tuesday was supposed to be all about Arizona and Utah where voters will soon make their choice for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees.

    Polls in the two states as well as Democratic caucuses in Idaho will of course be overshadowed by this morning’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, but this evening’s electoral drama will still be watched closely as the outcome in Utah will be key to determining whether Trump has a chance at reaching the 1,237 delegates he needs to avoid a contested convention in July.

    “The most significant question looming over Tuesday’s contests is whether Ted Cruz can exceed 50 percent of the vote in Utah,” The New York Times writes. “If so, he would take all 40 of the state’s delegates and mitigate Donald J. Trump’s expected victory in Arizona, a state that allocates all 58 of its delegates to the top vote-getter.”

    If Cruz falls short, that’s bad news for the “stop-Trump” crowd. In the event the senator can’t top the 50% threshold, the delegates will be awarded proportionally. The worry for Cruz is that John Kasich may just ride his Ohio momentum into Utah and capture enough of the vote to keep the Texas senator from walking away with all 40 delegates. In order to share the haul, a candidate must get at least 15%. The nightmare scenario for Cruz would be for Kasich to keep him under 50% and for Trump to breach the 15% mark. So watch for that.

    (Cruz waits to speak on Saturday at a rally in Draper)

    “A vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump,” Mitt Romney warned on Monday. As Politico notes, “Trump is on pace to get crushed in Utah, where the state’s strong Mormon contingent has shown little appetite for his boorish antics and inconsistent stances on social issues. And all that was before Trump questioned Romney’s Mormon faith — an intensely personal attack against the state’s favorite son.”

    But again, the question isn’t whether Trump gets crushed in Utah. He will. The question is by how much. If he surprises, it will be a catastrophe for Cruz.

    From RealClearPolitics:

    As for Arizona, well, Cruz likely doesn’t stand a chance. “Voters can cast ballots [in the state] as early as 26 days before the election [which] most likely means that thousands of Republicans in the state voted for Senator Marco Rubio of Florida before he dropped out last week,” The Times continues. “[That] reduces the impact of any late shift in voters’ sentiment: Even if Mr. Cruz was able to win over Trump supporters in recent days, some of them might have already voted for Mr. Trump.” Here are the latest numbers out of Arizona again, courtesy of RealClearPolitics:

    “The most certain outcome of the night is that Ted Cruz will win Utah’s Republicans-only closed caucuses, benefitting from a good organization, a deeply conservative state party, and the support of his closest ally in the Senate, Mike Lee, along with Governor Gary Herbert,” New York Magazine writes. But while “Trump is not exactly flourishing in Utah, it’s a different scene in Arizona, where he benefits from strong nativist sentiment among white voters and endorsements from former governor Jan Brewer and Maricopa County (that is, greater Phoenix) sheriff Joe Arpaio.”

    Arizona polls close at 10 ET. Utah polls close at 11ET, but online voting will run until 1 a.m. 

    On the Democratic side (and we’ll pretend for a moment that anyone cares or that the ultimate outcome here is somehow in doubt), Hillary Clinton is looking to build on her rout of Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday 3, when the former First Lady trounced the firebrand socialist, in the process moving closer to what now appears to be a foregone conclusion. “Clinton is aiming to rack up a higher delegate count than Sanders on the night — with Arizona’s 75 on the line carrying the potential to offset Sanders’ possible gains with Utah’s 33 delegates and Idaho’s 23,” CNN writes. 

    Politico sums it up as succinctly as possible: “But if the Vermont senator fails to win the big prize Tuesday — Arizona, where polls show him facing a double-digit deficit — his expected string of victories in the caucus states that follow won’t make a dent in Hillary Clinton’s daunting delegate lead or erase the impression that his campaign can’t win in states with diverse Democratic electorates.”

    The takeaway: “Western Tuesday” is all about whether Ted Cruz can stay above 50% in Utah. That’s what everyone will be watching this evening. The rest is just noise barring some kind of dramatic twist of fate.

    *  *  *

    Bonus: Here’s a look at how much the candidates raised and spent last month (via Bloomberg)


  • Former Goldman Employee Avoids Prison, Gets $5,000 Fine For Stealing Secret NY Fed Documents

    One week ago we were stunned to learn, and report, that as part of the “sentencing” of former NY Fed employee Jason Gross who had admitted to stealing confidential Federal Reserve information and passing it on to his former boss Rohit Bansal, then employed at Goldman Sachs, in hopes of generating goodwill and a comfortable post-Fed job at 200 West, he somehow managed to avoid any jail time and instead was slapped with a draconian penalty: a $2,000 fine…. oh and some community service.

    Jason Gross

    The sentencing judge, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein, explained his ludicrous decision by saying his treatment of Gross sent “a powerful message to others.” Right – a message that if you steal from the Fed and hand over the information to a potential future employer, you will never go to prison but instead will pay a token fine and dig some trenches. And that’s if you get caught.

    While we were disgusted with the lack of justice for Gross, we knew we would be even more disgusted once his co-conspirator, former NY Fed and Goldman employee, Rohit Bansal, was sentenced earlier today. We said that “as for Bansal, who also pleaded guilty in November to theft of government property, he is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday. We expect he too will avoid prison time.

    This, too, turned out to be 100% correct.

    As we predicted one week ago, and as Bloomberg reported moments ago, Rohit Bansal avoided prison time, and instead was sentenced to two years’ probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. U.S. District Judge Gabriel Gorenstein at a sentencing hearing in Manhattan also ordered Bansal to perform 300 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine.

    Rohit Bansal, who prosecutors said should get as long as a year in prison, pleaded guilty last year to obtaining about 35 documents on about 20 occasions from his friend Jason Gross, who was employed at the New York Fed, according to a settlement last year between New York-based Goldman Sachs and the New York Department of Financial Services.

    How did both former NY Fed employees avoid spending even one day in prison between them? “Bansal asked that he be sentenced to no prison saying he’d made “significant” efforts to make up for his misconduct by agreeing to help regulators and the government when first approached by authorities. He also said he continued to cooperate with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve system in its related independent investigation.”

    So… he settled, just as his NY Fed leaker Jason Gross did, and the outcome was… no prison time for both of them! Just how is this considered equitable justice, or a quid-pro-quo by the US government is not clear, because ultimately the only “punishment” for both of them was some pocket change and hanging out in the open air, planting trees.

    As a reminder, Bansal worked at Goldman Sachs from July 2014 until October 2014 where he provided advice on regulatory issues to bank clients, including banks supervised by the New York Fed. Prior to joining Goldman, Bansal worked at the Fed from about August 2007 to March 2014. 

    As for Goldman, it itself agreed to pay a $50 million fine and accepted a three-year ban on some advisory work in New York as part of a settlement with the state regulator. The bank admitted it failed to properly supervise the employee. What it really admitted to was knowing full well it was receiving stolen NY Fed information and thus enriching itself illegally. Which, for the biggest hedge fund incubator of central bankers is nothing new.

    As is nothing new the final tally of corrupt, criminal bankers who are going to prison as a result of this grotesque crime: zero.

  • Anti-Trump Protestors Behead Effigy Of The Donald As Radical Left Anger Builds

    Submitted by Michael Snyder via The End Of The American Dream blog,

    Liberal protests against Donald Trump are becoming increasingly violent.  On Friday, I warned that this would happen, and over the weekend we witnessed extremely disturbing confrontations in both Arizona and Utah.  No matter whether you are a supporter of Donald Trump or not, what we are watching unfold should deeply alarm you.  Are violent protests, riots and confrontations with police going to become a daily occurrence until the election in November?  Will this become the spark that sets off widespread civil unrest all over the nation?  Unless Donald Trump wins the election, I have a feeling that he is going to end up deeply regretting running for president, because now his entire family lives under the threat of constant attack.  Is this what “political discourse” is going to look like in this country moving forward?

    Just consider what we just witnessed in Salt Lake City.  Liberal activists strung up an effigy of Donald Trump by a noose, and then one of them proceeded to behead it.  I have posted video of this incident below

    Remember, this happened in one of the most conservative states in America.

    If this kind of thing is happening in Salt Lake City, what kind of scenes will we see in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles by the time election day rolls around?

    And can you imagine the media uproar that would ensue if someone did this to an effigy of Obama?

    It would be front page news for weeks on end.  But because it was done to an effigy of Donald Trump, it apparently is not that big of a deal.

    Of course this was not the only disturbing incident in Salt Lake City.  On Friday night, there were lots of violent confrontations between protesters and supporters of Donald Trump outside of a Trump campaign event at the Infinity Event Center.  At one point, liberal activists tore down Secret Service security checkpoints and tried to storm the doors of the Infinity Event Center, but fortunately the police were able to repel the attack.  The following is just a sampling of what we witnessed…

     

     

    This is the kind of think that you might expect to see in a third world nation. The United States is supposed to be far more civilized than this.

    On Saturday, there were more violent confrontations at Trump events in Arizona.  The following comes from Bloomberg

    The Trump supporter who struck the demonstrator in Tucson was a black man angered by another protester who was wearing a white sheet over her head in an imitation of a Ku Klux Klan hood. At the time, Trump termed the protester wearing the hood “really disgusting,” saying that agitators at his events were “taking away our First Amendment rights.”

     

    Authorities on Saturday also removed about a dozen protesters from the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Outside the rally, more than 100 demonstrators were positioned so close to the entrance that it was difficult for supporters to enter. Earlier on Saturday, near Phoenix, protesters blocked a major road leading to Trump’s rally, triggering three arrests.

    If Trump secures the Republican nomination, which is still a big “if”, I have a feeling that what we have seen so far is only going to represent the tip of the iceberg.  I believe that this could very easily become the most chaotic election season in modern American history.

    As my wife and I have been explaining, things are starting to rapidly change in this country, and the years ahead are going to be very tumultuous.  And things are going to be particularly tough for those that live in areas with a very high population density.  When you are surrounded by millions of people, it is going to be very difficult to avoid the consequences of widespread civil unrest.

    It would be quite difficult to overstate the gains that the radical left has made with our young people.  Millennials are far more liberal than any other adult age group, and they are turning out to support Bernie Sanders in droves.  In some states, Sanders is winning more than 80 percent of the Democratic Millennial vote.

    I just want that to sink in for a bit.  These young people are so radical that not even Hillary Clinton is liberal enough for them.  They are angry, they are frustrated, and they are willing to act out in very violent ways.

    Personally, I am convinced that we are on the initial edge of a wave of civil unrest, chaos and violence that is absolutely unprecedented.  What we are going to see in the months and years ahead is going to completely shock this nation.

    Hopefully we still have more time to get prepared, but I wouldn’t count on it.  This is the most divided that America has ever been in my entire lifetime, and all of the anger and frustration that have been building up under the surface in this country for years is starting to explode.

    I had hoped that the anti-Trump protests would be at least somewhat peaceful for a while, but this weekend showed that it isn’t going to be realistic to expect that.

    The radical left is extremely angry, and now Donald Trump has provided them with a giant target for that anger.

  • Stocks Stumble As Fed Hawks Tamp Down Terror-Attack Exuberance

    Belgian PM Charles Michel said earlier that "this is the deadliest attack on Brussels ever," and as we noted in this morning's pre-open wrap:

    This morning's Brussels bomb attacks have led to risk-off sentiment across European asset classes, with Bunds higher and equities firmly in the red, although if the Paris terrorist attacks of November are any indication, today's tragic events may be just the catalyst the S&P500 needs to surge back to all time highs

    So it should be no surprise that panic-buying ensued off the reaction lows of a terror attack…

    From BTFPTAD to BTFBTAD

     

    Because whoever is buying knows that if stock sell-off then the terrorists win… which can be summed up as…

     

    European "investors" bought the deadliest terror attack dip…

     

    Because in the new normal – It's easy…

     

    BUT… The Fed had different views and unleashed The Hawks to tamp down the terror attack exuberance:

    • *EVANS: I THINK THE FUNDAMENTALS ARE REALLY QUITE GOOD
    • *EVANS: MARCH PROJECTED FED HIKE PATH IS `A PRETTY GOOD SETTING'

    Across asset classes, only The USD Index maintained the reaction (stocks, bonds, and gold reverted)

     

    On the day, in The US, Nasdaq was bid (thank sto Biotechs) and Trannie whacked (airlines) but Dow and S&P batteled between bullish terrorism and hawkish fed…

     

    Dow Futures show exactly what happened – machines ran stops off the lows but were unable to maintain momentum (no matter what JPY did) to new highs and so collapsed into the close…

     

    As USDJPY and Stocks tracked each other perfectly…

     

    Traders rushed for the safety of Biotechs..

     

    VIX was slammed to a 13 handle once again but Fed's Evans' hawkish comments sparked a lift in VIX…

     

    VIX term structure drops to notably complacent levels…

     

    Treasury yields and stocks decoupled early, then yields spiked after EU closed…

     

    until Europe closed then a flood of selling struck…

     

    The USD Index was bid led by EUR weakness and a plunge in cable… as Brexit odds rose…

     

    Commodities all rallied on the Brussels headlines then spent the rest of the day giving it all back as the dollar rallied…

     

    Charts: Bloomberg

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