A well-done animated guide to the 2014 study (often cited by Washington’s Blog) conducted by teams of researchers out of Princeton and Northwestern, looking at whether the US population can influence public policy. This is the largest study of the topic to date, looking at nearly 2,000 policy issues.
“The average American has a miniscule, near zero, statistically non-significant impact on public policy.”
If you or anyone you know is thinking about doing such a thing, you may want to read a little further and learn some more about the Clintons. The Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign is now official, so America will be faced with the horrendous prospect next year of having to choose between continuing a Clinton Dynasty or a Bush Dynasty. If indeed Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush become the presidential candidates for their respective parties, and get elected for 2 terms, do you realize what that would mean? In that scenario, we would have had a Clinton or Bush in the White House from 1980 to 2024! That would be 44 straight years of a Clinton or Bush (remembering that George Bush Sr. was VP under Reagan and that Hillary worked, and still works, under Obama)! Could it be any more obvious that the US is not a Republic or democracy but rather an oligarchy of the rich and powerful? A bloodline aristocracy may be a better term, since all of the 44 US Presidents have been part of European royal bloodlines, despite having different last names. Continue reading »
It also means that total US debt to nominal GDP as of Sept 30, which was $17.555 trillion, is now 103%. Keep in mind this GDP number was artificially increased by about half a trillion dollars a year ago thanks to the “benefit” of R&D and intangibles. Without said definitional change, debt/GDP would now be about 106%.
It also means that total US debt has increased by 70% under Obama, from $10.625 trillion on January 21, 2009 to $18.005 trillion most recently.
And now we wait for the US to become Spain, and add the estimated “contribution” from hookers and blow to GDP, once again pushing the total debt/GDP ratio below the psychological 100% level.
With the apparent goal of ‘protecting civilians’ from ISIS and Syria’s al-Assad, the US and Turkey appear to be close to agreeing on the creation of a no-fly-zone along a portion of the Syrian border. As WSJ reports, U.S. and Turkish officials have narrowed their differences over a joint military mission in Syria that would give the U.S. and its coalition partners permission to use Turkish air bases to launch strike operations against Islamic State targets across northern Syria. The no-fly-zone would provide sanctuary to Western-backed opposition forces and refugees. As Bloomberg notes, this is a significant reversal of Obama’s earlier policy (fearing it would be a significant strain on the U.S. Air Force and put fliers in mortal danger) pushing US closer to outright proxy war with Russia via direct confrontation with al-Assad’s airforce.
NDCC war room. Computer simulation. Image by Defence Ministy
Russia is launching a new national defense facility, which is meant to monitor threats to national security in peacetime, but would take control of the entire country in case of war.
The new top-security, fortified facility in Moscow includes several large war rooms, a brand new supercomputer in the heart of a state-of-the-art data processing center, underground facilities, secret transport routes for emergency evacuation and a helicopter pad, which was deployed for the first time on Nov. 24 on the Moscow River. The Defense Ministry won’t disclose the price tag for the site, but it is estimated at the equivalent of several billion dollars.
ermany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published a video report of immense implications – possibly the first national broadcaster in the West to admit that the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) is supplied not by “black market oil” or “hostage ransoms” but billions of dollars worth of supplies carried into Syria across NATO member Turkey’s borders via hundreds of trucks a day.
The report titled, “‘IS’ supply channels through Turkey,” confirms what has been reported by geopolitical analysts since at least as early as 2011 – that NATO member Turkey has allowed a torrent in supplies, fighters, and weapons to cross its borders unopposed to resupply ISIS positions inside of Syria.
In one surreal scene from the DW report, anti-Syria terrorists are seen walking across the border and literally shot dead just on the other side by Kurdish fighters.
Local residents and merchants interviewed by Germany’s DW admitted that commerce with Syria benefiting them had ended since the conflict began and that the supplies trucks carry as they stream across the border originates from “western Turkey.” The DW report does not elaborate on what “western Turkey” means, but it most likely refers to Ankara, various ports used by NATO, and of course NATO’s Incirlik Air Base.
Yesterday, when we commented on what was largely a pre-determined outcome of the Swiss gold referendum, we said that there still “is the question of what happens to the tension in the gold swap market: as noted last week, the 1 Month GOFO rate had tumbled to the most negative in over a decade. It was not clear if this collateral gold squeeze was the result of Swiss referendum overhang or due to other reasons. The market’s reaction on Monday should answer those questions.”
Well, a few hours ago we got the GOFO update for the “day after” and the answer is clear: it wasn’t fear of the Swiss referendum after all because the 1 Month GOFO just crashed even deeper into negative territory with the entire curve through 6M now red, and with 12 month GOFO just 0.6 bps away from negative for the first time. At this rate, tomorrow’s update will suggest that big institutions expect the gold swap shortage to persist through the end of 2015!
Also, judging by the gold reaction, which is about $50 from the overnight lows, someone else appears to have noticed that the rather shocking shortage of synthetic gold among institutions, which is finally seeping through into that whole “price discovery” process, where supply and demand actually matter.
Bottom line: whatever caused the record scramble for rehypothecated gold, it wasn’t fears about the outcome of the Swiss referendum. Something else spooked the precious metal a month ago, and as seen on the chart above, things have only gotten progressively worse since then.
As noted previously, total US debt is now over $18 trillion. Here is where it gets even more surreal: debt held by the public on January 20, 2009, Obama’s inauguration day, was $6.3 trillion. It is now $12.9 trillion, a 105% increase. And here, for your viewing pleasure, is Senator Barack Obama saying on July 3, 2008, that the $4 trillion in debt added by Bush was “irresponsible and unpatriotic”…
With a third of S&P 500 capital expenditure due from the imploding energy sector (and with over 20% of the high-yield market dominated by these names), paying attention to any inflection point in the US oil-producers is critical as they have been gung-ho “unequivocally good” expanders even as oil prices fell. However, as Reuters reports, new data suggests that the much-anticipated slowdown in shale country may have finally arrived – permits for new wells dropped 15% across 12 major shale formations last month, as one analysts warns, “the first domino is the price, which causes other dominos to fall.”
When a well paid NFL football lineman quits the game to raise food for the needy, that’s an unusually interesting story. After St. Louis Rams center Jason Brown decided to leave the game for good, his agent told him that he was making the biggest mistake of his life. Jason adamantly replied, “No I’m not. No I’m not.
The build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe is hostile and destabilizes the Baltic, once the safest region in Europe, a senior Russian diplomat charged. The alliance’s chief accused Moscow of conducting aggressive exercises close to NATO borders.
The trade of accusations between Russia and NATO continued on Monday ahead of a NATO ministerial meeting this week.
By bringing in more weapons to Eastern Europe, some of them with highly-destructive power, the North Atlantic alliance is undermining regional security, Russia’s deputy foreign minister told Interfax.
“What are NATO military commander in Europe Philip Breedlove and the likes of him doing? They are trying to shake up the most stable region in the world, which is Europe’s north. Those endless military exercises, rebasing of aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons to the Baltic nations. This is the reality, a very negative one,” he said.
Big news for the Right to Know movement! Awareness regarding the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has mushroomed, forcing the world to finally put genetically spliced food under the microscope.Organizers announced in London on November 11 that they will be performing the world’s first ever comprehensive and independent study on the safety of GMOs and their associated pesticides. Referred to as “Factor GMO,” the project has already begun the preparatory phase, but the full-blown experiment is expected to launch in 2015.The $25 million study will be the first long-term combined GMO/pesticide safety study involving multi-generational, toxicology and carcinogenicity arms. “Neutral” scientists with reportedly NO ties to the biotech industry or anti-GMO movement will be monitoring 6,000 rats fed GM corn over a three-year period.
The most popular name for baby boys in the UK is Muhammad, according to a new chart for 2014 compiled by BabyCentre. The name, also spelled as Mohammed and often given after the Muslim prophet, has seen an enormous gain in popularity, jumping 27 ranks.
So you don’t indulge in sugar. You never take antibiotics. You eat a pretty good diet. Why are you still battling Candida?You may have to look no further than your mouth. If you have amalgam fillings – mercury fillings – the cause of your Candidiasis might be staring back at you.
Over 50 percent of the government’s elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) have been accused of misconduct and subsequently probed by the state’s policing watchdog, new figures reveal.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has investigated “44 referrals from police and crime commissioners” relating to potential impropriety on behalf of 23 separate police chiefs, a spokesman for the body said on Monday.
This figure amounts to more than half of the 41 PCCS who were officially elected in November 2012, he told RT.
Unless the scientific community and political leaders act soon, cold, dark days are ahead, because the evidence is clear that the earth is rapidly growing colder because of diminished solar activity, says author John L. Casey, former NASA consultant.
Trends indicate we could be headed for colder temperatures similar to those seen in the late 1700s and early 1800s when the sun went into a “solar minimum” — a phenomenon with significantly reduced solar activity, including solar flares and sunspots, says Casey.
In his new book “Dark Winter,” Casey posits that a 30-year period of cold has already begun. Frigid temperatures and the food shortages that inevitably result could lead to riots and chaos.
“All you have to do is trust natural cycles and follow the facts, and that leads you to the inevitable conclusion that the sun controls the climate, and that a new cold era has begun,” says Casey.
Is it any surprise oil prices are cratering? With global GDP expectations plumbing cycle lows, JPMorgan just confirmed the global slowdown is accelerating as their Global Manufacturing PMI printed 51.8 – its slowest level of ‘expansion’ since September 2013.New Orders fell to the lowest reading since July 2013 and New Export Orders to the lowest since June 2013.
For the 3rd month in a row, US Manufacturing PMI dropped from 4-year highs to 10-month lows. At 54.8, missing expectations of 55.0 (and down from 55.9) for the 5th month of the last 6 as extrapolated hopes fade into the usual cyclical un-decoupled collapse into year-end (but ignore NRF data). Sadly for the bullish decoupling meme, Markit notes, “the principal cause of the slowdown is a renewed downturn in export orders, which fell for the first time since January.” So, amid all of this doom, ISM then beat expectations, printing 58.7 vs 58.0 expectations (down slightly from October’s 59.0 print) led by – rather ironically – new export orders surging… US data has gone full China.
Thousands of people have resigned from the Lutheran Church in Finland, after the nation’s parliament approved a same-sex marriage law and the church’s archbishop expressed support for the vote, Finland’s Yle News reported.
Another day full of global macroeconomic disappointments is certain to send the S&P500 to all time-higherest records as 100,000 or so E-mini contracts exchange hands between central banks and Citadel’s algos.
The most widely accepted estimate of global bribery puts the total at around USD 1 trillion each year (World Bank, 2004). In the developing world, bribery amounts to around USD 20 billion to USD 40 billion a year – a figure equivalent to 15-30% of all Official Development Assistance (World Bank, 2007). Continue reading »
The world’s leading Scientists, Physicians, Attorneys, Politicians and Environmental Activists expose the corruption and dangers surrounding the widespread use of Genetically Modified Organisms in the new feature length documentary, “Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs”.
Senior Executive Producer / Writer / Director: Gary Null PhD
Executive Producer/Writer/Co-Director: Richard Polonetsky
Producers: Paola Bossola, Richard Gale, James Spruill, Patrick Thompson, Valerie Van Cleve
Editors: James Spruill, Patrick Thompson, Richie Williamson, Nick Palm
Music: Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com), Armando Guarnera
Graphics: Jay Graygor
Silvio Berlusconi – ironically nicknamed “The Teflon Don” – has been found to have done business with the Sicilian Mafia for nearly two decades, according to Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome. Having attacked the “biased judges” who called his actions “a continuous crime,” Berlusconi wriggled out from under this result since the link to the Cosa Nostra was, as The Independent reports, via his conduit and former senator Marcello Dell’Utri who was sentenced to 7 years for mafia association. While this confirms as fact yet another conspiracy theory, the bigger story was the confirmation of a broad-based bloodless coup to ouster the Italian Prime Minister at the peak of the credit crisis. “At one point that fall, a few European officials approached us with a scheme to try to force Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi out of power,” Tim Geithner writes in his new book, and after telling the President about “this surprising invitation,” they decided not to get involved (publicly): “We can’t have his blood on our hands.”
Conpsiracy “Fact” #1: Berlusconi linked to the Mafia
With Chinese authorities increasingly looking like they are sticking to their reform promises, fighting moral hazard and allowing defaults to occur (in a completely ‘contained’ way, of course); the continued crackdown on graft and government corruption has hit a new high (or low). As Reuters reports, Chinese authorities have seized assets worth at least 90 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) from family members and associates of retired domestic security tsar Zhou Yongkang, who is at the center of China’s biggest corruption scandal in more than six decades. 71-year-old Zhou has been under house arrest since first being investigated late last year but the size and scale of the corruption is unprecedented including 300 apartments, 60 vehicles, bonds, stocks, and gold – “it’s the ugliest in the history of the New China.”
More than 300 of Zhou’s relatives, political allies, proteges and staff have also been taken into custody or questioned in the past four months, the sources, who have been briefed on the investigation, told Reuters.
It just hasn’t been JPMorgan’s year. Or several years for that matter. The bank which has been on a steady downward slope when it comes to paying billions in quarterly “non-recurring, one-time” legal settlements and charges, and for which engaging in criminal behavior which is neither admitted nor denied, yet which has cost JPM nearly $30 billion in the past several years, has just had its latest “wristslapping” incident, one which involves none other than the recently departed CEO of JPM Asia, Fang Fang, whose office was raided on March 26 by Hong Kong’s anti-corruption agency amid a U.S. investigation into the bank’s hiring practices as reported by Bloomberg.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption seized computer records and documents after searching the office of Fang Fang, the company’s outgoing chief executive officer for China investment banking, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is confidential.
*UKRAINE NAFTOGAZ RAID PART OF CORRUPTION PROBE, AVAKOV SAYS
The issues up for debate, of course, are supply and pricing of gas from Russia and the payment for over $2bn of existing debt owed. While Interfax reports that this was because the Ukraine gas company executive was unable to leave the country, which now appears due to corruption allegations (“there’s corruption going on here?”) but merely exacerbates any Russian gas retaliation concerns. Continue reading »
Utah state prosecutors have received accusations of wrongdoing and gathered evidence in a wide-ranging corruption scandal involving Majority Leader Harry Reid and rising Republican Senator Mike Lee. However, as The Washinton Times reports, FBI agents have been thwarted in their efforts to launch a full federal investigation by the Justic Department. “DOJ risks creating the perception of a cover-up,” warned one senior FBI official.
FBI agents working alongside Utah state prosecutors in a wide-ranging corruption investigation have uncovered accusations of wrongdoing by two of the U.S. Senate’s most prominent figures — Majority Leader Harry Reid and rising Republican Sen. Mike Lee — but the Justice Department has thwarted their bid to launch a full federal investigation.
A recent article at the BBC discusses the findings of a report by EU Home Affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem on corruption in the EU. According to the report, the cost of corruption in the EU amounts to €120 billion annually. We would submit that it is likely far more than that (in fact, even Ms. Malmstroem herself concurs with this assessment). This is of course what one gets when one installs vast, byzantine bureaucracies and issues a veritable flood of rules and regulations every year. More and more people are needed to administer this unwieldy nightmare of red tape, and naturally the quality of the hires declines over time due to the sheer numbers required. Continue reading »
There is one rule to citizen defiance that, in my opinion, surpasses all others in strategic importance; and it is a rule that I have tried to drive home for many years. I would call it the “non-participation principle” and would summarize it as follows: Continue reading »
Below are some pictures from what’s happening south of the border:
Over the last year, vigilante groups, known as fuerzas autodefensas have sprung up all over Mexico, particularly in the southwestern state of Michoacan, an area plagued by the Knights Templar cartel.
On Monday, hundreds of vigilantes stormed Paracuaro, Michoacan, where the Knights Templar had set up their headquarters, in order to seize the town back from the cartel. Below is the entrance, where vigilantes erected a checkpoint.
Muammer Akkas, the prosecutor who complained his government corruotion investigation efforts were being blocked by the government – has been removed from the investigation. Prime Minister Erdogan’s efforts to rein in “the final attack” on “new Turkey” are failing even after his cabinet reshuffle but this morning’s rhetoric has sent asset prices tumbling once more:
*’THE NEW TURKEY IS UNDER SERIOUS ATTACK’: ERDOGAN
*IN NEW TURKEY, SOVEREIGNTY CAN’T LIE WITH JUDICIARY: ERDOGAN
*LAWMAKERS SHOULD AVOID REMARKS HURTING ERDOGAN: ARINC
*ERDOGAN SAYS HE’S ISSUING LEGAL COMPLAINT AGAINST MEDIA LEAKS
As one analyst noted, “Erdogan continues to present the developments as a conspiracy despite having to shuffle his cabinet, which indicates that there may be some serious findings behind the probe.“
Abby Martin calls out the International Atomic Energy Agency for their endorsement of the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s response to the nuclear disaster, despite the company’s gross mismanagement of disaster.
The Economist found, rather sadly, despite all the glad-handing and happy-talk, that 53% of financial services executives believed that strict adherence to ethical conduct would make career progression difficult. As this former Wall Street trader told The Guardian, “a precedent needs to be set, to slow down Wall Street’s wild behavior. A reminder that rules are there to be followed, not exploited.” The reason, among others, is summed up by the following, “if a customer wants a red suit, you sell them a red suit. If that customer is Japanese, you charge him twice what it costs.”
My first year on Wall Street, 1993, I was paid 14 times more than I earned the prior year and three times more than my father’s best year. For that money, I helped my company create financial products that were disguised to look simple, but which required complex math to properly understand. That first year I was roundly applauded by my bosses, who told me I was clever, and to my surprise they gave me $20,000 bonus beyond my salary.
The products were sold to many investors, many who didn’t fully understand what they were buying, most of them what we called “clueless Japanese.” The profits to my company were huge – hundreds of millions of dollars huge. The main product that made my firm great money for close to five years was was called, in typically dense finance jargon, a YIF, or a Yield Indexed Forward. Continue reading »
JPMorgan Chase has made many headlines recently. There’s a new investigation underway regarding the bank’s practice of giving lots of money to the kids of rich people abroad in order to gain influence illegally. They just topped the Financial Stability Board’s “Too big to fail” list. They just reached an agreement with the Justice Department to pay a record $13 billion for its fraudulent mortgage products. It’s facing an investigation as Bernie Madoff’s primary bank. And an ex-employee stands accused of hiding hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trading losses.