Minimum Viable Sociopathy

Submitted by Dmitry Orlov  –  The ClubOrlov Blog

There are absolutely NO Nazis fighting for Ukraine!
If you agree, then just gouge out your eyes!
(Note NATO and Nazi flags side by side.
Isn’t that just cute?)

I seem to be doing a lot of hyperproductive things lately: explaining to people how to kill the foul beast of Empire, revolutionizing the way English literacy is taught to both native English speakers and the rest… Somebody just emailed me to tell me that I have become “one of those significant commentators.” Yikes! If I keep going this way, then I will run the risk of making a Significant Contribution to Society (SCS). And that would be a mistake; not just for me, but for anyone.

Plus I’d be spending most of my time deleting blog comments from imbeciles. It’s the blogging equivalent of scraping bugs off your windshield. (It’s about 1% thoughtful comments from actual readers, and 99% senseless blather from idiotic trolls. I am serious. Very sad. But I liked the one I got the other day from a Ukrainian who said that his people will drown all the Russians in their (Ukrainians’) own blood. That was cute, but I deleted it anyway because it’s hate speech.

But allow me to explain about SCS and what the title of this blog post means.

As Venkatesh Rao explains so well over at his Ribbonfarm, a person faces two opposing risks in grappling with the vicissitudes of earthly existence: the risk of achieving nothing, and the risk of achieving something that’s not on strategy. Let me summarize his argument. Continue reading

A Comprehensive Breakdown of America’s Economic House of Cards

Submitted by Thad Beversdorf  –  The First Rebuttal Blog

I was going over some of my older posts to review what was being discussed at the beginning of this year and what the perspectives were at that time.  I found an interesting piece I wrote at the beginning of the year.  I had just watched Janet Yellen’s inaugural panel hearing in front of the congressional finance committee members on Cspan.  It’s basically a forum to allow the congressional financial committee members to directly pose comments and questions to the world’s most influential banker, namely, the US Fed chairman.

There were a few hardball questions but mostly just buttering up on Ms. Yellen from both sides of the aisle.  Picking out a few of the interesting bits that came up in the course of discussion I was certain I saw a glimpse of honesty indicating that problems are on the horizon, from Ms. Yellen.  The most notable commentary was her fairly forthright perspective that the CBO forward guidance depicted an imminent problem for America.  What caught me a bit off guard was how easily the congressional finance committee members shrugged off the repetitive warnings from the Fed chair regarding this imminent problem.   There was no discussion about possible solutions to the problem or even calls for further investigation to the warnings.  It was simply dismissed.  I found it incredibly ironic the one person in the world who is mandated to continuously increase leverage to the US was the one warning congress to get its fiscal house in order.  Yet the congressional committee before her, acted as though they didn’t hear it.

However, subsequent to that initial committee hearing I’ve not heard any additional warnings from the Fed about getting the America’s fiscal house in order.  It was a rare moment of honesty from a rookie chair and she apparently received a memo shortly thereafter informing her of the mistake.  Now let’s take a look at specifically what Ms. Yellen was warning congress about.  The CBO publishes annual long term forward guidance to give the world an idea of where things will be for the US 25 years out given where we are today.  Forecasting so far into the future is no exact science and it relies heavily on assumptions.  And so let’s take a look at the typical process. Continue reading

Closing in on One Twenty

Submitted by Bruce Krasting  –  The Bruce Krasting Blog

rclock-01-20_34394_lgThree major FX pairs are closing in on rates where the big figures start with 120. The ones that have my interest are:

USDJPY = 119.40

EURCHF  =1.2030

EURUSD = 1.2335

USDJPY looks like it wants to cross 120 in a matter of hours. The question is what happens when it does. My guess is that the folks at the Bank of Japan don’t want the dollar/yen to rise much above the 120 level for the time being. The Abe snap election is just ten trading days away. An element of the election is the central bank’s policy of weakening the currency. Japanese voters understand FX rates; they know they are paying more for imports and paying a ton more when they travel abroad. If the BoJ wants to buy some votes by  micro managing the FX rate with a temporary “lid” on USDJPY it certainly could.  We shall see soon enough.

But assume that Abe gets his vote of confidence on 12/14. What does that mean? Adios 120. Another 20 big figures to 140 is a reasonable estimate. Another big move up in USDJPY will be the fuel for a currency war. Korea and China will not just sit back and let it happen.

EURCHF is a wild card (it might be a Black Swan). The head of the Swiss National Bank, Thomas Jordon, was drinking Kirschwasser after his big win on the gold vote last weekend. The vote was 4-1 in his favor! But where is the EURCHF today? 13 measly ticks above the close before the key vote. This lousy bounce from that vote?And Jordon felt it was necessary to issue an unusual Sunday SNB Press Statement that reaffirmed the SNB’s commitment to “Do what it takes” including negative interests rates and unlimited intervention to support the 1.20 peg

I, for one, believe Mr. Jordon. I think he’s willing to write an enormous check to back up his promise. I think he has enough ammo to hold the Alamo for a while longer. But I never believed that “Unlimited” was a realistic description of the powers of the Swiss Central Bank.

If Mr. Jordan’s phone starts ringing over the next few months, and he’s forced to put in bids for $250B Euros, he might have to blink. A 50% increase in reserves in a short period of time would force the unpleasant question,“What does unlimited really mean?”

I put a break of EURCHF 1.20 as a low probability. But, on the other hand, a 1/4 Trillion Euros is not all that much money these days – so this has fireworks potential. What is at stake is not just the Swiss peg promise. If the SNB adjusts the peg to a dirty float, then the market would, in a matter of seconds, redirect its sights on Mr. Draghi’s promise of “Anything”.  This scenario may be unlikely, but it’s a bad road to go. What could trigger a move on the SNB? A weak Euro would be the ticket to this show. How likely is that? Very! Continue reading

This “Economic Disaster Zone” Will Create Big Gains Someday

Submitted by Bill Bonner – Chairman, Bonner & Partners

We are here in Lower Manhattan. It does not seem much like an “urban jungle.” It is too cold and rainy.

After a brief excursion outside, you have to warm yourself by an artificial fire, with a coffee. Or, after 7 p.m., with a glass of Jameson. Then the fog of the outside world clears long enough to think about “the hurtin'” and other philosophical puzzles.

Nobody wants to be a-hurtin’. And nobody wants to own an asset in a sector that has the hurtin’ on it. But that is usually the best thing to buy.

Man is not cut out to be a good investor. It goes against his basic instincts. At the end of a battle he wants to be still standing, like Caravaggio’s David – a bloody sword in one hand and the head of Goliath in the other.

He wants to win. And he wants to own the team that just won the Super Bowl. The alternative, at least in his atavistic race memory, is death. Continue reading

THE IMPLOSION OF AMERICAN CULTURE

Submitted by JC Collins  –  philosophyofmetrics

The Implosion of American CultureIt was widely expressed by the mainstream media of the time that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall could not have been predicted. In hindsight, the stagnation and drop in oil prices should have been the obvious signs that a dramatic change was coming. And when the USSR began to borrow from western banks, the fix was in.

Western banks is something of a misnomer, as no bank, or conglomerate of banking interests, can exist separate and independent of the larger international banking structure which has been built throughout the the 20th Century. Stagnate growth and the deflationary oil prices which began in 1986 acted as fine toothed methods of transferring wealth from the social trust within the Soviet Union, forcing banks within the USSR to borrow from western banks, which was in fact an exchange of assets amongst financial institutions.

The inevitable policy shifts towards “perestroika” were obvious and planned well in advance.  The agricultural crisis within the country was designed to parallel the mass movement towards “glasnost”, or openness.

When we consider the larger mandates of the CSI, Cultural and Socioeconomic Interception, the same machinations as “perestroika” and ‘glasnost” can be observed in the social fragmentation and devolution of the American middle class. Where the Soviet Union enacted policies which instigated the CSI changes within the country, it will be Americas lack of enacting policy change which will precipitate the implosion of its culture. Continue reading

London Property Bubble Primed To Burst – Consequences For UK Economy and Sterling

Submitted by Mark O’Byrne  –  Founding Partner of  GoldCore

The ongoing slump in oil prices looks set to take their toll on London’s “super prime” property markets with attendant consequences for the rest of the London property market. Foreign money that had been flooding into the UK from a whole array of international sources and parking in London real estate is drying up.


City AM

These sources included Chinese billionaires and U.S. beneficiaries of the Fed’s QE largesse and Russian and Middle-East energy tycoons.

Western sanctions on Russia have led to a shuddering hault to Russian money entering the UK.  Since Xi Jinping came to power in China in November 2012 there has been a crack-down on corruption in China and the amount of Chinese cash being funnelled through tax-havens and into London property has been greatly reduced. The Fed’s QE has come to an end, for now at least, so U.S. sources of capital have waned. Continue reading