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Disaster In Red: The 100th Anniversary Of The Russian Socialist Revolution

November 9, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Richard Ebeling via The Future of Freedom Foundation,
November 7, 2017, marked the one hundredth anniversary of the Russian (or Bolshevik) Revolution in Russia that happened on that date in November 1917, which lead to the communist “…

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Michael Lewis Reveals His Shocking New “Big Short”

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

When the award-winning author of “The Big Short,” “The Blind Side” and “Moneyball,” stopped by Yahoo Finance yesterday to discuss his latest book, “The Undoing Project,” he was predictably asked for his next “Big Short” idea.  And, after downplayi…

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One Year After The Election; Where Does The Trump Rally Rank?

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Via LPLResearch.com,
It’s hard to believe, but the U.S. Presidential Election was a year ago today. Per Ryan Detrick, Senior Market Strategist,
“Although no one at the time would have believed it, the 12 months since Election Day have been …

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Will Xi Offer Trump A Small Victory On Trade As Cover For His Longer-Term Ambitions

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

On Monday, Trump pressed Japan’s Prime Minister and business leaders to reduce the $69 billion trade deficit. A couple of badly made jokes, awkward moments and an unfair singling out of the auto industry later, we expressed our scepticism that th…

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Donna Brazile Exposes “The Cult Of Clinton” – She Lost Due To “Arrogance”

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Former Chair of The DNC, Donna Brazile, continues on her 12-step program to Clinton-sobriety today telling MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough that the “arrogant” Clinton campaign was more like “cult” than a political campaign.

As Grabien reports, Brazile said of the Clinton campaign…

“It was a cult,” 

 

“I felt like it was a cult.”

Brazile further said that the main reason Clinton lost was due to her “arrogance.”

Brazile pulls no punches…

SCARBOROUGH: “Bottom line it for us. Why did they lose? Was it, at the end of the day, arrogance?”

BRAZILE: “Yes, Joe. It was a cult, I felt like it was a cult. You could not penetrate them. I mean, I — look, you can — I’m a grassroot organizer. I know street politics better than I know sweet politics. I know how to touch people where they live, work, pray, and play. But I cannot help a candidate, Joe, if I don’t have the resources, if I cannot spend the resources that the party is raising because there’s a blind agreement between…“

BRZEZINSKI: “…Exactly…”

BRAZILE: “…A campaign…”

BRZEZINSKI: “…Unspoken even”

BRAZILE: “…And, again, I want my party to come back from this stronger. I like what Tom Perez is doing. I know he said this is not about my book. Baby, I know it’s not about my book. But it’s about making much-needed changes and reform inside the party. I’ve sat at the table. I want to make room for others to sit at the table, but you have to come into the room knowing you have to change the recipe. Yesterday was a wake-up call for the Democrats, too. Because you know what? It’s coming from the bottom up. It’s not top-down anymore. It’s bottom-up politics now.

Read more here…

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Trump Warns North Korea Of “Grave Danger” In Rousing Speech

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

President Donald Trump departed for China this morning, the third leg of his 12-day tour of Asia – his first visit to the continent since taking office – but not before delivering a “rousing speech” to South Korean lawmakers where he warned the North not to “underestimate” the US – a sharp change in tone from yesterday, when he encouraged the North to “make a deal” with the US that he said would be in their mutual interest. During his address in Seoul, Trump directed his words at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, warning him that “the weapons that you are acquiring are not making you safer, they are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.” More details on Trump’s speech from Reuters:

“This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past,” Mr. Trump said in an address to South Korean lawmakers Wednesday. “Do not underestimate us, and do not try us.”

 

The president called on Mr. Kim to abandon his country’s nuclear-weapons program as he contrasted the successful capitalist economy of South Korea with that of the North, whose economy is many times smaller. Both countries’ output was similar in 1953, when the end of the Korean War left the peninsula divided.

 

“North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned—it is a hell that no person deserves,” Mr. Trump said, referring to North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung. “We will offer a path to a much better future,” he continued. “It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to the development of ballistic missiles and complete, verifiable and total denuclearization.”

Abandoning the conciliatory tone that he briefly adopted on Tuesday, Trump painted a picture of the North as a dystopian hellscape where the state forces couples to get abortions, and where citizens would rather be sold to work as de facto slaves in a foreign country than stay in North Korea.

Using some of his Trump used some of his toughest language yet against North Korea in a wide-ranging address in Seoul that lodged specific accusations of chilling human rights abuses. He called on countries around the world to isolate Pyongyang by denying it “any form of support, supply or acceptance.”

 

“Do not underestimate us and do not try us,” Trump told North Korea as he wrapped up a visit to South Korea with a speech to the National Assembly before heading to Beijing, where he was making his first official visit.

 

Trump painted a dystopian picture of the reclusive North, saying people were suffering in “gulags” and some bribed government officials to work as “slaves” overseas rather than live under the government at home. He offered no evidence to support those accusations.

 

“The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens it with nuclear devastation,” Trump said, speaking as three U.S. aircraft carrier groups sailed to the Western Pacific for exercises – a rare show of such U.S. naval force in the region.

For all its bluster, the speech included a few moments of levity. In true Trump fashion, the president, an avid golfer, also praised the success of the South Korean women who finished in the top four spots at the tournament held earlier this year at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“What you have built is truly an inspiration,” he said.

Going back to North Korea, in his speech, Trump painted a bleak picture of life in North Korea: citizens, he said, bribe government officials to be sold into slavery rather than remain in their own country, and “ethnically inferior” unborn children are aborted, or killed after birth.

That said, Trump, whose strategy has stressed sanctions and military pressure instead of diplomacy, did not spell out any new approach. This is problematic as North Korea has made clear it has little interest in negotiations at least until it develops a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, something U.S. intelligence officials say it may be just months away from achieving.

North Korea is a country ruled by a cult,” Trump concluded his speech which was interrupted several times by applause and ended with a standing ovation.

Trump’s 35-minute address to the South Korean National Assembly was the last major event of his roughly 24 hours in the country. The president departed shortly afterward for China, the third of five countries he plans to visit on his 10-day swing through Asia.

Following the speech, the US and South Korea released a joint statement, pledging “to maintain close consultation, coordination, and cooperation on North Korea policy.

NEW: Following Pres. Trump’s visit, U.S. and South Korea release joint statement pledging “to maintain close consultation, coordination, and cooperation on North Korea policy.” https://t.co/YbIUI9FNiv pic.twitter.com/CK1X1PwxFB

— ABC News (@ABC) November 8, 2017

After Trump’s speech ended, the North’s Central News Agency responded with a statement accusing Trump of being a “political heretic” and a “lunatic old man”.

North Korea, meanwhile, said it was entirely Washington’s responsibility to control the situation to avoid a “horrible nuclear disaster and tragic doom.”

 

“The world is undergoing unprecedented throes because of Trump, a notorious political heretic,” state-run newspaper Minju Joson said in a commentary Wednesday, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

 

The U.S. must oust the lunatic old man from power and withdraw the hostile policy towards the DPRK at once in order to get rid of the abyss of doom,” it added, using an abbreviation for the country’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Trump left South Korea Wednesday morning and headed to China, where he and Chinese President Xi Jinping continued their “bromance” that began when Xi visited Mar-a-Lago back in April, where the two world leaders famously bonded over a large slice of chocolate cake. Trump and his counterpart share a mutual admiration that is strengthened by the fact that both Trump and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, are widely loved and respected by the Chinese people. In keeping with Xi’s promise to create a “state-visit-plus” for Trump, the two leaders made small talk as they toured the Forbidden City – which was shut down to tourists – with their wives before taking in a Chinese opera performance. While the sprawling palace complex in the political and cultural heart of Beijing is a regular stop for visiting dignitaries, it is rare for a Chinese leader to act as a personal escort.

During his two-day visit, Trump will ask China to abide by U.N. resolutions and cut financial links with North Korea, a senior White House official said on the plane from Seoul. He also plans to discuss with Xi the long-contentious trade imbalance. The two leaders are set to hold formal talks on Thursday, where the issues of containing North Korea and mitigating the massive Chinese trade surplus with the US are expected to dominate the conversation.

China has long encouraged the US and the North to pursue a diplomatic solution, Trump believes any talks with North Korea would require it to reduce threats, end provocations and move toward denuclearization, and that no deal can be achieved without denuclearization. The Trump administration also suspects that China has been continuing its support for the North despite the stringent UN sanctions that China, which has permanent veto power at the Security Council, voted to approve in September following the North’s latest nuclear test.

Trump, Reuters said, will try to convince Xi to squeeze North Korea further by limiting oil shipments and financial transactions. However, it is not clear if Xi, who has just consolidated his power at a Communist Party congress, will agree to do more. Because as much as the North has become a diplomatic nuisance, China believes it must continue to prop up the regime, or else lose its buffer against US forces in South Korea.

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Banks Warn London Facing Brexit “Point Of No Return”

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

During his trip to London this week, US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, wasn’t only defending revelations in the Paradise Papers that he’d invested in a shipping company with ties to the Putin family. He also attended a “closed-door meeting” with executives from JPMorgan, Goldman, HSBC and other banks. The meeting took place over lunch in the exclusive St James’s District (hedge fund land these days) at Wiltons restaurant. Wiltons, if you’re not familiar with it, started as an oyster stand in 1742 before developing a clientele of English aristocrats and foreign dignitaries and latterly, bankers. Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond novels and bon vivant,  listed it as one of his top 10 restaurants in the 1950s.

During lunch, the banks warned Ross that time is running out for the UK government. The failure to provide clarity on Brexit means that they will be forced to start moving jobs out of London. According to the FT:

A group of large financial institutions with big London operations, led by Wall Street’s pre-eminent banks, have told the US commerce secretary that Britain’s unstable government and slow progress in Brexit planning may force them to start moving thousands of jobs out of City in the near future. The warnings came on Friday during a closed-door meeting between executives from the banks, which included JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and HSBC, and Wilbur Ross during the US commerce secretary’s visit to London, according to people briefed on the discussions.

 

Those briefed on the talks, which were held over lunch at Wiltons restaurant in London’s exclusive St James’s district, said the banks were particularly concerned by the failure of Britain to provide clarity over whether it will secure a transition deal to smooth the changing regulatory regime after the UK leaves the EU. They warned they had even less clarity over what a final Brexit deal will look like. Absent clarity from the government about post-Brexit plans, the executives said jobs would move back to the US or to other European capitals as banks begin to enact their worst-case contingency plans, the sources said. ”There was broad discussion around the lack of progress in the Brexit talks and some discussion around various political scenarios,” one person briefed on the talks said.

Not surprisingly the banks declined to comment when contacted by the FT, which also discovered that Morgan Stanley failed to show up to the gathering. Shame on it. The FT’s anonymous sources emphasized that bank executives communicated a greater level of anxiety regarding Brexit negotiations than in the past. Decisions on job relocations are imminent, as FT explains:

US banks have been among the loudest critics of Britain’s decision to leave the EU since last year’s referendum, with Goldman boss Lloyd Blankfein recently tweeting he anticipated “spending a lot more time” in Frankfurt post-Brexit. But the recent warnings in private meetings with Mr Ross — as well as similar soundings taken by the City of London Corporation, the capital’s local government, on a fact-finding mission to Wall Street and Washington — included a level of urgency not seen in previous criticisms, those present said. The banks warned Mr Ross that a “point of no return” is fast approaching, when they must start moving jobs, capital and infrastructure in order to meet the March 2019 Brexit deadline if no transitional deal is secured.

In London’s City A.M. financial newspaper yesterday, the City of London’s policy head, Catherine McGuinness, highlighted rising nervousness in the US financial sector about Brexit.

City of London Corporation’s policy chief Catherine McGuinness was told the sector had moved beyond its initial “surprise” and “curiosity” at the events unfolding on this side of the Atlantic, with fear creeping in that no real movement had been made since last summer’s referendum. “The message was that this is taking too long and it may have implications beyond your borders,” McGuinness said. “[They] are becoming nervous,” she said. “It wasn’t just curiosity, it was concern at the lack of progress that we have been making, and nervousness that it had implications beyond Europe’s borders in terms of causing disruption to markets.”

 

While New York expects to benefit from some of the disruption, the overriding sense was that Brexit could cause global ripples if progress failed to materialise, she added. Fears that the UK would simply “crash out” were also growing. She was speaking after a three-day fact-finding mission, where she met US Treasury officials, as well as Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman Chris Giancarlo, and representatives from the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA). McGuinness noted that the recent IRSG report, which set out a blueprint for how financial services might continue to do business after Brexit, had been welcomed in the States. But she acknowledged that progress on the matter back home was painfully slow, saying she had “very little sense” of when – or if – a financial services position paper could be expected from the government.

Back to the lunch between Ross and the bankers, the one positive note which emerged for the UK government is that the prospect of a Labour government headed by Jeremy Corbyn fills them with dread. That’s scant consolation, however, as the banks are believed to have drawn up contingency plans to shift 10,000 jobs out of London in the short-term. This number was confirmed by the Bank of England last week. However, the FT notes a much larger exodus is possible if the government fails to set up a transitional deal as part of Brexit.

Sam Woods, deputy governor (of the Bank of England), said that a longer-term 75,000 job-loss figure cited in a previous report by Oliver Wyman, the consultancy, was “plausible”. Mr Woods also said that a transitional deal was an asset whose value diminished through time, as banks scrambled to get in place for March 2019.

Still, we wonder how sympathetic to London’s Brexit challenges Ross was during the lunch. After all, this is the man who said last December that Brexit was a “God-given opportunity” for other countries to take business away from the UK. Finally, it also crossed our minds as to who picked up the bill? We doubt that it was Ross, or Deutsche Bank, if it was invited. Our guess is Goldman, but what was the catch?

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British Woman Faces Execution In Egypt For Bringing Painkillers For Her Husband’s Bad Back

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Ian Miles Cheong via The Daily Caller,
A British woman has been arrested upon her arrival in Egypt for bringing a box of painkiller medication into the country for her husband’s back pain. Now she faces the possibility of execution.

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700 Years Of Data Suggests The Reversal In Rates Will Be Rapid

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Have we been lulled into a false sense of security about the future path of rates by ZIRP/NIRP policies? Central banks’ misguided efforts to engineer inflation have undoubtedly been woefully feeble, so far. As the Federal Reserve “valiantly” raises short rates, markets ignore its dot plot and yield curves continue to flatten. And thanks to Larry Summers, the term “secular stagnation” has entered the lexicon.  While it sure doesn’t feel like it, could rates suddenly take off to the upside?

A guest post on the Bank of England’s staff blog, “Bank Underground”, answers the question with an unequivocal yes. Harvard University’s visiting scholar at the Bank, Paul Schmelzing, normally focuses on 20th century financial history. In his guest post (see here), he analyses real interest rates stretching back a further 600 years to 1311. Schmelzing describes his methodology as follows.

We trace the use of the dominant risk-free asset over time, starting with sovereign rates in the Italian city states in the 14th and 15th centuries, later switching to long-term rates in Spain, followed by the Province of Holland, since 1703 the UK, subsequently Germany, and finally the US.

Schmelzing calculates the 700-year average real rate at 4.78% and the average for the last two hundred years at 2.6%. As he notes “the current environment remains severely depressed”, no kidding. Looking back over seven centuries certainly provides plenty of context for our current situation, where rates have been trending downwards since the early 1980s. According to Schmelzing, we are in the ninth “real rate depression” since 1311 as shown in his chart below. We count more than nine, but let’s not be picky.

Furthermore, he believes that we are still locked into a 500-year downward trend.

Upon closer inspection, it can be shown that trend real rates have been following a downward path for close to five hundred years, on a variety of measures. The development since the 1980s does not constitute a fundamental break with these tendencies.

Now to the useful bit, Schmelzing looks at how these “real rates depressions” ended. The chart below shows the path of real interest rates in each reversal period following the trough.


He calculates that the average reversal has been 315 basis points within 24 months.

Most reversals to “real rate stagnation” periods have been rapid, non-linear, and took place on average after 26 years. Within 24-months after hitting their troughs in the rate depression cycle, rates gained on average 315 basis points, with two reversals showing real rate appreciations of more than 600 basis points within 2 years.

While we’d rather he ignored tainted “maestro”, Schmelzing states that there is “solid historical evidence” to support Greenspan’s view that real rates will rise “reasonably fast” once they turn. In Schmelzing’s opinion, and we would broadly agree, the best analogy in “recent” times for today’s situation is the Long Depression that followed the Panic of 1873.

Most of the eight previous cyclical “real rate depressions” were eventually disrupted by geopolitical events or catastrophes, with several – such as the Black Death, the Thirty Years War, or World War Two – combining both demographic, and geopolitical inflections. Most cyclical real rate depressions equally coincided with inflation outperformances. But for a minority of cycles, economic fundamentals were decisive, and exhibited both excess savings and subdued inflation. The prime example – and likely the closest historical analogy to today’s “secular stagnation” – is represented by the global “Long Depression” of the 1880s and 1890s. Following years of a global railroad investment frenzy, and global overcapacity indicators inflecting in the mid-1860s, the infamous “Panic of 1873” heralded the advent of two decades of low productivity growth, deflationary price dynamics, and a rise in global populism and protectionism.

Low rates in the wake of a financial crisis, lack of productivity growth, rising populism, etc, all strike a chord with our current circumstances, obviously. Going into more detail about the exit from the real rates depression of the 1880s-1890s, Schmelzing emphasises a rebound in productivity, stronger wage inflation and monetary expansion.

What ended the Long Depression? Labor productivity bottomed out in 1892-3, prior to the discovery of gold at the Klondike, and the associated monetary expansion. Wage inflation started outstripping productivity increases as early as 1885, leading the recovery in general inflation. And US equities finally bounced back from their 15-year lows with the Presidential election of William McKinley – a Republican pro-business protectionist – in November 1896. In other words, there is strong evidence suggesting that the last “secular stagnation cycle” started fading relatively autonomously after just over two decades following the key financial shock, not requiring the aid of decisive fiscal or monetary stimulus.

We find his conclusion, that a rapid, non-linear recovery in real rates can occur without any “decisive” events or policy, almost counter-intuitive. It doesn’t feel like it’s about to happen, but maybe it didn’t in the 1890s either. Indeed, maybe the best analogy for rates today is the proverbial beach ball held under water.

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Lebanon – The Next Front In The Great Gas War

November 8, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Via Golem XIV’s blog,

The Great Gas War has already two distinct fronts: The now relatively quiet Northern Front in Ukraine and the Southern Front in Syria in which the Western empire has been losing. It looks to me that Lebanon is being targeted as the next front, where the West hopes its loses might be recouped.

Yesterday, November 6th,  Reuters reported,

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah.

This comes after Israel, Saudi’s long time though largely un-offical best friend in the region,  has been very publicly preparing to renew its own war with Lebanon – or more accurately with Hezbollah.  As the American news journal Newsweek put it recently,

ISRAEL PREPARES FOR ANOTHER WAR WITH HEZBOLLAH AS IDF PRACTICES LEBANON INVASION.

Why now and why Lebanon?  Well the rulers of Saudi, a Sunni dominated country, will tell us that it is because Hezbollah is a Shia terrorist organisation. “Hezbollah” literally means the “Party of Allah” or “Party of God”.  Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan yesterday pointedly referred to Hezbollah as, “the Lebanese Party of the Devil”.  Saudi is not alone of course, Hezbollah has also been listed as a terrorist organisation by America, Israel, the Arab League, the UK and the EU. It is also, however, part of the popular government of Lebanon having seats in its parliament.

I suggest, however, a powerful reason that a new war with Hezbollah may be in the offing is because Lebanon is the next link in any gas pipeline that could potentially bring Iranian Gas to Europe. That was the reason the West decided to “liberate” the Syrian people and it will be why they decide to enforce the same salvation upon the people of Lebanon. Having failed to liberate the Syrians, Saudi, the West, its Sunni Gulf allies and Israel will now see if they can succeed in blocking any Iranian gas ambitions by liberating the Lebanese from their own government.  I would not be surprised to hear quite soon from opposition groups vocally denouncing the government or at least Hezbollah. I expect spokes people from those groups to suddenly get a global platform along-side American and regional supporters such as Saudi.

When I look at Saudi I can’t help but notice that it has , all in a short space of time, begun wars in neighbouring Yemen and Syria, and declared first Qatar and now Lebanon supporters of terror if not actually themselves terrorists. Saudi has gone from a nation surrounded by allies or at least states with whom it had basic diplomatic relations, to a nation surrounded by enemies.  It begins to remind me of Israel in that respect.

Gas of course is not the be all and end all. In many ways it is a surface marker, the means for regional and global struggles for political power and influence.  For Saudi it is the basis of its struggle for regional supremacy with Qatar. For America it is the regional marker for its proxy struggle with Russia for political dominance and for control over gas supplies to Europe.  America has sided with Saudi. Russia and China have sided with Qatar.  Qatar struck a decisive blow for dominance and for a new Qatar focussed power structure when it opened the region’s only clearing house for settlement of Gas contracts in Yuan.

I see the political turmoil inside Saudi as a struggle between those who see the House of Saud’s only hope for a future to be to remain firmly aligned with America and therefore by extension, with Israel, versus those who might consider switching or at least splitting their allegiance so as to move closer to Russia/China. A move which might be correct but which would concede to Qatar some large portion of what has been up till now Saudi’s pre-eminence.

Wars in Yemen, Syria and soon Lebanon make the divide between these two possible futures for The House of Saud, very sharp.

For Israel it will mean war and troops on the ground. America will certainly help in the air but Israel will shed blood on the ground.

What will Russia do? I doubt it will put troops into Lebanon. But I could very easily see it extending in to Lebanon the air support it has deployed in Syria. I could see Iran being tempted to send troops or at least ‘advisors’ or perhaps just ‘allow’ zealots who want to go, to do so. And that itself may be part of what some in America would like – tempt Iran into lending support and then declare anew that Iran is, pointing at new evidence,  a state sponsor of international terror.  America has desired a confrontation with Iran for a long time and want a new excuse.

The Great Gas War has not finished. I suggest it is about to open a new front. A front that could ignite a wider conflict.

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