License to Kill

Submitted by Dmitry Orlov  –  The ClubOrlov Blog

[This post is, once again, a rerun, but its subject seems quite timely. As you watch the political establishment in the US go through its usual antics, ask yourself: are they even capable of understanding the fact that they have already lost the empire?]

The story is the same every time: some nation, due to a confluence of lucky circumstances, becomes powerful—much more powerful than the rest—and, for a time, is dominant. But the lucky circumstances, which often amount to no more than a few advantageous quirks of geology, be it Welsh coal or West Texas oil, in due course come to an end. In the meantime, the erstwhile superpower becomes corrupted by its own power.

As the endgame approaches, those still nominally in charge of the collapsing empire resort to all sorts of desperate measures—all except one: they will refuse to ever consider the fact that their imperial superpower is at an end, and that they should change their ways accordingly. George Orwell once offered an excellent explanation for this phenomenon: as the imperial end-game approaches, it becomes a matter of imperial self-preservation to breed a special-purpose ruling class—one that is incapable of understanding that the end-game is approaching. Because, you see, if they had an inkling of what’s going on, they wouldn’t take their jobs seriously enough to keep the game going for as long as possible.

The approaching imperial collapse can be seen in the ever worsening results the empire gets for its imperial efforts. After World War II, the US was able to do a respectable job helping to rebuild Germany, along with the rest of western Europe. Japan also did rather well under US tutelage, as did South Korea after the end of fighting on the Korean peninsula. With Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, all of which were badly damaged by the US, the results were significantly worse: Vietnam was an outright defeat, Cambodia lived through a period of genocide, while amazingly resilient Laos—the most heavily bombed country on the planet—recovered on its own.

The first Gulf War went even more badly: fearful of undertaking a ground offensive in Iraq, the US stopped short of its regular practice of toppling the government and installing a puppet regime there, and left it in limbo for a decade. When the US did eventually invade, it succeeded—after killing countless civilians and destroying much of the infrastructure—in leaving behind a dismembered corpse of a country. Continue reading

Donald Trump: An Evaluation — Paul Craig Roberts

Submitted by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – Institute for Public Economy

Donald Trump, judging by polls as of December 21, 2015, is the most likely candidate to be the next president of the US.

Trump is popular not so much for his stance on issues as for the fact that he is not another Washington politican, and he is respected for not backing down and apologizing when he makes strong statements for which he is criticized. What people see in Trump is strength and leadership. This is what is unusual about a political candidate, and it is this strength to which voters are responding.

The corrupt American political establishment has issued a “get Trump” command to its presstitute media. Media whore George Stephanopoulos, a loyal follower of orders, went after Trump on national television. But Trump made mincemeat of the whore.

Stephanopoulos tried to go after Trump because the world’s favorite leader, President Putin of Russia, said complimentary things about Trump, and Trump replied in kind.

According to Stephanopoulos, “Putin has murdered journalists,” and Trump should be ashamed of praising a murderer of journalists. Trump asked Stephanopoulos for evidence, and Stephanopoulos didn’t have any. In other words, Stephanopoulos confirmed Trump’s statement that American politicians just make things up and rely on the presstitutes to support invented “facts” as if they are true. Trump made reference to Washington’s many murders. Continue reading

Broad Side Effects To Oil

Submitted by Jeffrey Snider  –  Alhambra Investment Partners

Not long ago, I wrote that it was somewhat odd that more attention wasn’t being paid to sovereign wealth funds. This was only somewhat surprising given that oil prices were still thought “transitory” and thus the mainstream clearly felt there wasn’t anything deeper to be assembled from that. However, now that it has finally dawned that oil isn’t likely to go anywhere, the repercussions are going to be delivered even if “the market” hasn’t been prepared for it by Janet Yellen’s narrative. And it is such a simple process to grasp; high oil revenue flows to sovereign funds that end up in the world’s asset markets.

The reverse is equally true, particularly for those countries where $30-40 oil will trigger a so-far indeterminate counterflow. That this reversal has started already, rather widespread too, is not a good sign. It is difficult if not impossible to gauge exactly how that might intertwine in already-sensitive markets, but the logic of it is quite easy to grasp.

Less oil revenues in a great deal of that $7 trillion plus gains heightened scrutiny about fund performance derived from stocks, and then may add up to knock out one of the largest supporting “pillars” that keeps global stock prices from joining the spreading reset in fixed income. As it is, even the Hong Kong fund reported losses YTD of HK$35.9 billion from forex alone, meaning that redeployment and redirection is likely systemic.

Continue reading

The Daily Debt Rattle

 Submitted by Raúl Ilargi Meijer  –  The Automatic Earth

Japan Output, Retail Sales Slump, Dampen Recovery Prospects (Reuters)
Japan Business Lobby Head Won’t Commit To Higher Wages (Reuters)
China Industrial Profits Fall For Sixth Straight Month (Reuters)
Head Of China Telecom ‘Taken Away’ As Probe Launched (AFP)
World Steel Chief Calls Chinese Glut ‘Serious And Critical’ (USA Today)
Shale’s Running Out of Survival Tricks as OPEC Ramps Up Pressure (BBG)
End Of Easy Money For Mini-Refiners Splitting US Shale? (Reuters)
China Fines Eight Shipping Lines $63 Million for Price Collusion (BBG)
The Danger Of Safety (Tengdin)
Britain Needs Dutch-Style Delta Plan To Stem Tide Of Floods (Guardian)
US Sees Bearable Costs, Key Goals Met For Russia In Syria So Far (Reuters)
US Foreign Arms Deals Increased Nearly $10 Billion in 2014 (NY Times)
Britain’s New, Open Way to Sell Arms (BBG)
China Passes Antiterrorism Law That Critics Fear May Overreach (NY Times)
China Approves New Two-Child Birth Policy (WSJ)
Greek Construction Sector Shrinks By 63% Since 2011 (Kath.)
Germany Hires 8,500 Teachers To Teach German To 196,000 Child Refugees (AFP)
Refugee Crisis Creates ‘Stateless Generation’ Of Children In Limbo (Guardian)