Fincantieri says cooperation with Thyssenkrupp chance to talk about consolidation

Cooperation between Fincantieri and Thyssenkrupp to build submarines is a good opportunity to talk about future consolidation in the European defence sector, the Italian shipbuilder's general manager Alberto Maestrini said on Friday......»»

Category: topSource: reutersMay 15th, 2020

Multipolar World Order – Part 4

Multipolar World Order – Part 4 Authored by Iain Davis via, Part 1 of this series looked at the various models of world order. Part 2 examined how the shift towards the multipolar world order has been led by some surprising characters. Part 3 explored the history of the idea of a world ordered as a “balance of power,” or multipolar system. Those who have advocated this model over the generations have consistently sought the same goal: global governance. In Part 4 we will consider the theories underpinning the imminent multipolar order, the nature of Russia and China’s public-private oligarchies and the emergence of these two nations’ military power. THE WIDER CONTEXT OF THE UKRAINE WAR There is no evidence to suggest that the war in Ukraine is, in any sense, “fake.” The political and cultural differences among the populace of Ukraine are older than the nation-state, and the current conflict is rooted in long-standing and very real tensions. People are suffering and dying, and they deserve the chance to live in peace. Yet, beyond the specific factors that led to and have perpetuated the conflict in Ukraine, there is a wider context that also deserves discussion. The so-called leaders in the West and in the East have had ample opportunity and power to bring both sides in the Donbas war to the negotiating table. Their attempts to broker ceasefires and to implement the various Minsk agreements over the years were weak and half-hearted. Both sides, it seems, chose instead to play politics with Ukrainian lives. And both sides ultimately fuelled the conflict. The West has done little but exacerbate the situation. And, though it faced a tough economic choice, the Russian government could certainly have leveraged its commanding position in the European energy market to better effect. If, that is, avoiding war were the objective. Whatever else it is, the war in Ukraine is the fulcrum for a transition in the balance of geopolitic power. Like the pseudopandemic that immediately preceded it, the war is accelerating the polarity shift. UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was right to observe that the Ukraine war is “a gift to NATO.” Just as the West has delivered the Russian government’s monetary policy to them, so Putin’s administration has rescued NATO from vanishing relevance. Both poles are strengthened, if for different reasons. At the same time the European Union (EU) is capitalising on both the war and the sanctions it imposed in order to reinvigorate its push towards EU military unification. The UK is involved in this push, even though in 2016 its population elected, via referendum, to leave the EU, specifically because a majority of voters did not want to give “national sovereignty” away to the union leadership. But, as we can see, it doesn’t matter what the people vote for or against. Despite having supposedly left the EU, the UK’s newly unelected Prime Minister has just signed up the UK as a “Third State,” bound by Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) agreements, under the direct military command of Brussels. As the UK partly hands its independent defence capability to the EU, it is playing its part in assisting the emergence of another pole. The International Monetary and Financial System (IMFS), which has thus far underwritten unipolar domination, is being transformed now that it’s reaching the end of its life cycle. Economic growth is being deliberately stifled in the West via sanctions but encouraged in the East. Energy flows and consumption patterns are being redirected eastward. Simultaneously, effective military power is being “rebalanced.” During the pseudopandemic, we saw much evidence of global coordination. Most unusually, almost every government acted in lockstep. China, the US, Russia, Germany, Iran, the UK and many other nations followed the same false narrative. All participated in shutting down global supply chains and limiting world trade. Most countries assiduously heeded the World Economic Forum’s preferred path of global “regionalisation.” The few that resisted were considered international pariahs. What has happened since then? We’re told the war in Ukraine has reintroduced the same old East-vs-West division that most of us are more familiar with. Yet in nearly every other significant way nations remain strangely in total agreement. It seems The war in Ukraine is practically the only dispute. MULTIPOLAR THEORY The proposed multipolar world order does not constitute a defence of the nation-state. We have already discussed how the multipolar model dovetails quite precisely with the “Great Reset” (GR) agenda, so it should come as little surprise that multipolar theory also rejects the suggested Westphalian concept of national sovereignty. Russia has numerous think tanks and GONGOs (government organized non-governmental organizations). Just as in the West, these are funded and influenced by both the public and private sectors, working in partnership. As noted by the Swedish Defense Research Agency, Russian think tank funding “part comes from the government and the rest from private actors and clients, usually big business.” Katehon is the “independent” think tank established by Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofyev (Malofeev), who has been sanctioned by the US since 2014 for his support of Ukrainian Russians, first in Crimea and then in the Donbas. The Katehon board includes Sergey Glazyev, the economist and politician who is the current Commissioner of Macroeconomic Integration for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). In 2018, Katehon pointed out that, despite all talk to the contrary, multipolarity had largely been defined as opposition to unipolarity. That is, expressed in terms of what it isn’t rather than what it is. Katehon sought to rectify this, offering its Theory of the Multipolar World (TWM): Multipolarity does not coincide with the national model of world organization according to the logic of the Westphalian system. [. . .] This Westphalian model assumes full legal equality between all sovereign states. In this model, there are as many poles of foreign policy decisions in the world as there are sovereign states [. . .] and all of international law is based on it. In practice, of course, there is inequality and hierarchical subordination between various sovereign states. [. . .] The multipolar world differs from the classical Westphalian system by the fact that it does not recognize the separate nation-state, legally and formally sovereign, to have the status of a full-fledged pole. This means that the number of poles in a multipolar world should be substantially less than the number of recognized (and therefore, unrecognised) nation-states. Multipolarity is not a system of international relations that insists upon the legal equality of nation-states[.] The unipolar world doesn’t protect the nation-state any more than the multipolar model does, Katehon observed. According to Katehon, the Westphalian model, in its application, has always been a myth. We might say it is just another “idea” political leaders peddle to delude us into accepting the policy goals they create. They occasionally exploit “nationalism” because it is useful. EURASIANISM In their efforts to cast Vladimir Putin as a comic book villain, the Western mainstream media (MSM) has attempted to personally link him to the controversial Russian political-philosopher and strategist Aleksandre Dugin. They have labelled Dugin Putin’s Rasputin or Putin’s “brain” and have alleged that Putin considers Dugin a close ally and his favourite philosopher. There was never any foundation to these stories, however. Speaking in 2018, Dugin said “I do not hold an official position within the state apparatus. I don’t have a direct line with Putin, I’ve never even met him.” In 2022, the Western MSM’s allegations prompted Alain de Benoist, Dugin’s political and philosophical collaborator and friend of more than 30 years, to observe: Putin’s “brain!” The fact that Dugin and Putin have never met once face-to-face is a good measure of the seriousness of those who use this expression. [. . .] Dugin undoubtedly knows Putin’s entourage well, but he was never one of his intimates or his “special advisers.” [. . .] The book he wrote a few years ago on Putin is far from being an exercise in admiration: Dugin on the contrary explains both what he approves of in Putin and what he dislikes. Although Dugin has no special relationship with the Kremlin, this doesn’t mean his ideas aren’t influential there. He has acted as an advisor to the Chairman of the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin, and to the Chairman of the State Duma, Gennadiy Seleznyov, so he certainly has political connections and is heard by the Russian political class. Dugin is perhaps the leading modern voice for Eurasianism. In a 2014 interview, he explained his interpretation of both Eurasianism and its place within multipolarity this way: Eurasianism is based on the multipolar vision and on the rejection of the unipolar vision of the continuation of American hegemony. The pole of this multipolarism is not the national state or the ideological bloc, but rather the great space (Grossraum) strategically united within the borders of a common civilization. The typical great space[s] [are] Europe, the unified USA, Canada and Mexico, or united Latin America, Greater China, Greater India, and in our case Eurasia.[. . .] The multipolar vision recognizes integration on the basis of a common civilization. [. . .] Putin’s foreign policy is centred on multipolarity and the Eurasian integration which is necessary to create a truly solid pole. Neither the oligarchs nor the global political class are deluded enough to believe that they can simply commend one political philosophy or another, or one cultural ideology or another, and thereby control the behaviour and beliefs of humanity. There will always be the need for some Machiavellian skulduggery. Putin has frequently espoused Eurasianist ideas. Conversely, Dugin is among those who have criticised Putin for his lack of a clear ideology: He must translate his individual intuition into a doctrine intended to secure the future order. He just doesn’t have a declared ideology, and that’s becoming more and more problematic. Every Russian feels that Putin’s hyper-individual approach poses a huge risk. In 2011, Putin announced his plan to create the Eurasian Union, much to the delight of Dugin and other the Eurasianists like Malofyev and Glazyev. Putin published an accompanying article: We suggest a powerful supranational association capable of becoming one of the poles in the modern world and serving as an efficient bridge between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. [. . . .] It is clear today that the 2008 global crisis was structural in nature. We still witness acute reverberations of the crisis that was rooted in accumulated global imbalances. [. . .] Thus, our integration project is moving to a qualitatively new level, opening up broad prospects for economic development and creating additional competitive advantages. This consolidation of efforts will help us establish ourselves within the global economy and trade system and play a real role in decision-making, setting the rules and shaping the future. Alexander Dugin Putin pointed towards a global crisis that led to the claimed need for a supranational body that could act as a pole for decision-making in a global system based upon a balance of power. What he said follows a pattern; all those who extol global governance have used the same rhetorical trick. This pattern is currently being repeated again. Irrespective of any other beliefs he may hold, Putin’s commitment to resetting the global polity is clear. Eurasianism renders the Russian Federation a “partner” within a wider union. Currently the Eurasian Union only exists in the economic sense, and Russia is overwhelmingly dominant within it. Similarly, Russia’s permanent position in the UN Security Council affords Russia relative dominance within the UN. Nonetheless, while the Russian government may hope to benefit from such unions and councils, by forming “poles” in a multipolar system and setting policies influenced by ideas like Eurasianism, it has diluted and declared a plan to eventually cede Russian “national sovereignty” to the union—to the pole. Putin’s pursuit of Eurasianism and multipolarity doesn’t necessarily indicate anything other than pragmatism. Nor does it represent a defence of the Russian nation-state. We can only guess, but Putin’s preference for Eurasianism and multipolarity is unlikely to be rooted in any particular ideology. Rather, it serves a purpose, providing his government and its partners a bigger stake in “the game.” TIANXIA Putin’s notion of “Eurasian integration” jibes with the Chinese ideology of “tianxia,” which can be translated as “everything under heaven.” In Chinese antiquity, tianxia placed the empire at the pinnacle of a global moral hierarchy. Confucian universal care dictates that a civilised state cares for its own, first and foremost, but cannot consider itself civilised if it doesn’t care for others, too. Other states are considered civilised if they care for their citizens and barbaric if they don’t. Therefore, all civilised states should care more for the interests of other peaceful and civilised states than they do for the needs or desires of barbaric states. Consequently, bonds are naturally formed between caring states, creating a kind of organic geopolitical order, as each state places its own people at the centre of a network of civilised relationships. In tianxia, the practice of Confucian universal care also operates within all institutions that comprise a state. For instance, civilised individuals naturally care for their families and their immediate communities more than they care for people outside those circles. However, no one is to act selfishly at the expense of other citizens, no matter where they reside, without falling into barbarism themselves. This is a model of state that is not based upon ethnic or “blood” ties or even national borders, but rather upon a hierarchical system of morality. Tianxia has been promoted by a few Western commentators as a “beautiful” idea. Like a philosophical Mandelbrot set it suggests a perfect moral symmetry at both at the micro and the macro scale. The multipolar world order, supposedly with tianxia at its heart, is therefore recommended as a wonderful new model of global governance and is frequently described as “win, win cooperation.” Academics like Professors Zhao Tingyang and Xiang Lanxin have said that the global adoption of tianxia would establish a “post-Westphalian world.” This view stems from their assessment that the Westphalian order is ideologically stagnant, limited to nothing more than an expedient balance of power system wherein “might is right.” The criticism from these tianxian scholars is not a fair reflection of the moral precepts expressed by the Peace of Westphalia—treaties that extolled the Christian values of forgiveness, tolerance and peaceful cooperation. The scholars’ assessment is, however, a reasonable appraisal of the actual conduct of Western states that only pretend to honour Westphalian principles. Professor Lanxin points out that China “has no ontological tradition.” That is, philosophically tianxia doesn’t ask “what is this?” but rather “what path does this suggest?” If tianxia were applied to China’s strategic foreign policy, it would be ambivalent to ideas like national sovereignty. Much like the moral foundations of Westphalian international relations, tianxia is professed but not practised. Currently, for example, China is arming the UAE and the Saudi regimes to wage war in Yemen and is also stealing Yemen’s natural resources. Is this tianxia? Where is the “win” for the Yemeni people in China’s behaviour? The drawback of noble ideas is that they can be exploited by hard-nosed geostrategists to sell any policy agenda they like. The theories of tianxia and Eurasianism provide a grounding for multipolarity. The philosophy isn’t the problem, it is its exploitation by the engineers of multipolar global governance. They don’t care what the intent of an idea is. They care only how they can use that ideology or philosophy to justify their actions if anyone asks. If philosophical thought suggests some useful strategies, all the better. When global governance over a multipolar system is the goal, then tianxia, like Eurasianism, certainly is “beautiful.” Consider the words of Professor Zhou: [Some are] concerned that tianxia would lead to “Pax Sinica” replacing “Pax Americana.” However, this concern is misplaced because under tianxia, there would be no place for a king — the system itself is king. In this sense, it would be a bit like Switzerland, where various language groups (French, German, Italian, Romansh) and local cantons all coexist in a commonwealth of roughly equal parts where the center in Bern is essentially a coordination point with a rotating president whose power is so constrained that some Swiss citizens can’t even name the person occupying the post. Tianxia relegates the political voice of the people to an irrelevance. It is multipolar, defining political power as a networked system that is not limited by national sovereignty or unipolar authority but rather operates “constrained” centres of power. For those who manipulate geopolitics covertly, it is perfect: the system itself is king. Tianxia may be a serene philosophy, but what really matters is how the theory is applied to policy. The 2017 authorised publication titled Forge Ahead under the Guidance of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Thought on Diplomacy by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi gives us a glimpse of the kind of thing China’s political class and others call “win, win cooperation.” Xi Jinping […] puts forward new propositions on security, development and global governance. […] Xi Jinping […] has underscored China’s role and contribution to world peace and development and to upholding the international order. […] China has […] played a leading role in the Asia-Pacific cooperation, the G20’s transformation and the course of economic globalization[.] […] China has promoted the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund and the BRICS New Development Bank, and has taken an active part in the formulation of rules governing such emerging areas as marine and polar affairs, cyberspace, nuclear security and climate change. […] The [Belt and Road] initiative has been widely commended for lending impetus to global growth and boosting confidence in economic globalization. […] We have taken an active part […] and worked with other countries to tackle global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, cyber security and refugees. […] We advocated the formulation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and became the first country to release its national plan on implementation. It turns out that the alleged application of tianxia means upholding the international order, international financial and monetary system reform, Agenda 2030, counterterrorism, controlling human capital, exercising global cybersecurity, economic globalization and, of course, global governance. It seems Xi Jinping’s tianxia-inspired “thoughts” are just the same as the thoughts of the Rockefellers, Vladimir Putin, Klaus Schwab and all other members of the multipolar sales team. RUSSIA – THE FUSION OF THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE OLIGARCHY The Russian government and its think tanks and and oligarchs are not alone in advocating a “regionalized” world of poles. With its five “groups,” a nascent multipolar world order already exists in the form of the G20. The G20’s enthusiasm for a single global tax system demonstrates the intention to move toward a much firmer system of global governance. Previously we noted that Putin purged the oligarch collaborators of the West in fairly short succession after becoming President. Much has been written about his war against the “5th columnists.” This often infers that Putin is somehow opposed to the power of oligarchs. That isn’t true at all. The Russian government has no problem with people making huge amounts of money and then using it to exercise political power. It is just that political power must promote the Russian government’s aspirations. In fact, one of the perks of being in Putin’s circle is the opportunity to become fabulously wealthy. We have already discussed the obscene levels of wealth inequality in Russia, particularly in terms of its concentration in the hands of the oligarchs. Putin hasn’t put an end to this elitism; he has facilitated it on a grand scale. To put the matter in perspective: when Putin became President in 1999—that is, “elected” in 2000—there were a handful of Russian billionaires and oligarchs. Today, according to Forbes, there are more than 100. Perhaps it is just another coincidence, but the sanctions have provided an impetus for Russian oligarchs living overseas to return to the motherland, a trend that has effectively strengthened the Kremlin’s bond with its oligarch “partners.” In 1999, Putin inherited a Russian economy that had been holed out. Between 1999 and 2014, he oversaw a remarkable Russian economic recovery. Living standards improved significantly, GDP rose from $200 billion in 1999 to $2.2 trillion in 2014. Putin led Russia from the 20th largest economy in the world to the 7th (now 11th). It seems that luck—or price fixing!—may have played a part in this apparent economic miracle. Russia’s GDP growth tracks the global oil price quite precisely. While the Russian people benefited from some of this growth, fuelling a consumer boom, the same period also saw a huge increase in wealth inequality. A new class of Russian oligarchs hoovered up a disproportionate share of Russia’s national wealth. During his 2000 campaign to be formally anointed as President, when a radio journalist asked Putin how he would define “oligarch” and what he thought of them, he said: [The] fusion of power and capital — there will be no oligarchs of this kind as a class. Once secured in power, though, Putin’s team constructed a crony capitalist regime that is the epitome of the “fusion of power and capital.” He and his entourage effectively inverted the Western model of oligarch control, where capital is converted into political power. In Russia, political power enables the accumulation of capital, creating an almost unique class of oligarchs. Gazprom, the world’s largest publicly listed gas company, provides a case study demonstrating how the Russian oligarchy functions. Dmitry Medvedev and Alexei Miller worked in St Petersburg alongside Putin during the 1990s. Medvedev was the mayoral campaign manager for Anatoly Sobchak, who subsequently co-authored the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Putin was an advisor and then deputy to Sobchak. Miller served on the mayor’s Committee for External Relations. When Putin became President, he gave Medvedev the highest civil service rank in Russia and made Miller the Deputy Minister of Energy. Meanwhile, Putin decreed that Gazprom was a “national champion”—meaning a “private” corporation the Russian government considers essential to the Russian economy. Through various funds, the Russian government retained its 50.2% controlling interest in Gazprom, which makes Gazprom a public-private partnership. Putin appointed Medvedev and Miller to the Gazprom board. Medvedev acted as chairman until 2008, when he was selected as the nominal President of the Russian Federation, while Putin temporarily acted as Prime Minister for a few years. Miller was appointed as Gazprom CEO in 2001 and is still in that post. In 2006, Gazprom released the construction cost of its Altay pipeline from West Siberia to China. The same year it also released the expenditure figures for its Gryazovets-Vyborg pipeline. The per-kilometer cost of the Gryazovets-Vyborg pipeline was four times higher than the comparable Altay pipeline or similar pipelines, such as the OPAL pipeline in Germany. In 2008, the Russian firm PiterGaz Engineering estimated the total construction cost of the Sochi pipeline to be $155 million—at the current exchange rate. Yet Gazprom paid the present-day equivalent of $395 million. This inflated price prompted the East European Gas Analysis (EEGA) to note: Russian pipeline engineering institutions, including the corresponding divisions of Gazprom, give realistic estimations of pipeline construction costs, comparable with those of western projects. However, it looks like, on the way to the top management of Gazprom, these cost estimations get at least tripled. [. . .] Apparently, after getting a realistic cost estimation, Gazprom executives add a generous margin for contractors and brokers, so the total project cost gets 3-4 times higher. Such slush funds are found in every sector of the Russian economy, most notably in defence, infrastructure development and healthcare. The proceeds are then doled out to loyal oligarchs. They are “oligarchs” in the fullest sense of the word. Their wealth is dependent upon their partnership with the political state. In return, they use their wealth to forward the policies of the state. Their capital couldn’t be more “political.” For example, Alexey Mordachov owns the steel giant Servestal that supplies gas pipeline to Gazprom for its development projects, such as the Yakutia-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok pipeline (aka the China–Russia East-Route). Other oligarchs profiting from the scheme include Putin’s personal friends Gennady Timchenko, who owns the OAO Stroytransgaz construction company, and Arkady Rotenberg, whose Stroygazmontazh (S.G.M. Group) forms Russia’s largest gas pipeline and power grid construction company. The oligarchs are profiting from the construction of the Arctic Silk Road. They deploy their resources to ensure that the Russian government’s foreign policy objectives are realised. The Russian oligarchs and the Russian political class are in a symbiotic relationship: a public-private partnership constructing the multipolar world order. In so doing, they are engaging in the Great Reset, implementing the Rockefellers’ vision and fulfilling the dreams of Carroll Quigley’s Anglo-American network. The Russian state is more than just a public-private partnership. Moving beyond mere contractual arrangements and shared strategic goals, Russia’s government has fused the corporate and the political into a single public-private nation-state. Despite the slaughter going on in the Ukraine war and all sides’ refusal to unconditionally negotiate, Russia’s “state-owned” private energy corporation Gazprom has apparently settled its dispute with Ukrainian “state-owned” energy corporation Naftogaz and is pumping 42.4 million cubic meters of natural gas a day through Ukraine to Western Europe energy markets. The Russian Federation is paying the Ukrainian government substantial transit fees. It is effectively funding Ukraine’s war effort. The war is only for the little people. CHINA – THE FUSION OF THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE OLIGARCHY The only major developed economy in the world to have gone further than Russia in fusing the public and private sectors is China. China is a neo-fuedal capitalist state operating as a technocracy under the leadership of an oligarch dynasty. The great military and political leaders of Mao Zedong’s revolution who later successfully evaded Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) were collectively referred to as the “eight immortals.” When the Rockefellers and the Trilateral Commission dispatched Henry Kissinger to prepare the ground for US President Nixon’s visit to China in the early 1970s, seven of the immortals decided to throw their collective political weight behind fellow immortal Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms. Deng Xiaoping The process of opening up China’s economy began in earnest following Mao’s death in 1976. Prominent Trilateralists such as then-US President Bill Clinton, global investment firms, Western-based multinational corporations and private investors stepped up foreign direct investment to assist China’s immortals in modernising the country’s economy, financial sector, military, industrial and technological capability. The modernisation enabled the rise of China’s oligarchy. For example, the immortal General Wang Zhen supported Deng’s economic liberalism but also sliced off huge chunks of China’s state assets and placed them in trust to his son, Wang Jun. Subsequently, Wang Jun collaborated with Deng’s economic advisor, Rong Yiren, to seed his now private capital into Citic Group Corp, which then became China’s “state-owned” investment company. Citic Group is a public-private partnership that today has significant influence over China’s financial services, advanced manufacturing technology, production of modern materials and urban development. In this way the immortals effectively created a public-private dynasty in China. Their immensely wealthy offspring are now collectively referred to as the “Princelings.” The Princelings can broadly be divided into three groups, each influencing important Chinese sectors and industry: political Princelings, such as Xi Jinping, manage the public sector military Princelings manage the defence and national security sectors entrepreneur Princelings manage the private sector. As a group, they have huge influence over China’s domestic and foreign policy. China is a one-party state but has not abandoned politics. The selection of Xi Jinping as Paramount Leader in 2012 marked an effective power-shift toward the Princelings, who many consider to represent the “elite.” They are “opposed” by the “Tuanpai,” whose power base stems from the Communist Youth League movement established by former president Hu Jintao. The Tuanpai are broadly popularist and more focused on the issues of working Chinese people. Other factions, such as the “Shangai Gang” and the “Tsinghua Clique,” add to the political mix. Technocracy controls citizens through the allocation of resources. China leads on the technocratic aspects of the Great Reset. It is the world’s first operational Technate, wherein the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) oversees the surveillance and control of the population through its social credit system: The establishment of a social credit system is an important foundation for comprehensively implementing the scientific viewpoint of development. [. . .] Accelerating and advancing the establishment of the social credit system is an important precondition for promoting the optimized allocation of resources. The idea is that citizens can be rewarded for good behaviour and penalised for bad. Speaking to French Television, one of the lead developers of China’s social credit system was asked how French adoption of it might have impacted the Yellow Vest protests in France. Lin Jinyue replied: I really hope that we will manage to export it in a capitalist country. [. . .] I believe that France should quickly adopt our system of social credit, to regulate their social movements. [. . .] If you had had the system of social credit, the Yellow Vests would never have been. Coincidentally, social credit-style surveillance has been greatly enhanced as a result of the pseudopandemic that began in China. To travel on public transport, enter civic buildings, be admitted to the workplace and so on, it is necessary for China’s citizens to scan their COVID Pass QR code. Green allows them to move freely; Red prevents their free movement. Biometric identification via facial recognition scanning is required to register a sim card in China. The biometric data system allows the NDRC to track the movements of every citizen and allows biosecurity to be enforced nationally. Covid QR codes, combined with digital ID, means that China’s Technate is on its way to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 16. SDG 3 reads: Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks And SDG 16 says: By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration “Legal identity” is UN code for digital identity. The Chinese technocratic oligarchy is also ahead of other countries in its development and implementation of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Bo li recently vacated his position as the Deputy Governor of the Bank of China to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as its Deputy Managing Director. Speaking at the IMF’s Central Bank Digital Currencies for Financial Inclusion: Risks and Rewards symposium, Bo Li discussed the claim that CBDC would improve so-called “financial inclusion”: CBDC can allow government agencies and private sector players to program [CBDC] to create smart-contracts, to allow targetted policy functions. For example[,] welfare payments [. . .], consumptions coupons, [. . .] food stamps. By programming, CBDC money can be precisely targeted [to] what kind of [things] people can own, and what kind of use [for which] this money can be utilised. For example[,] for food. So this potential programmability can help government agencies precisely target their support to those people who need support. So, in that way we can also improve financial inclusion. Perhaps so—although the improvement will only be afforded tothe citizen who obeys the”government agencies and private sector players”—the Princelings. Engage in “bad” behaviour and and CBDC will be used to target you for financial “exclusion.” With CBDC in place, there would be no need to switch people’s QR code to red to stop them from attending a protest. Simply program their CBDC to prevent train ticket purchases or the use of money more than a mile from home. Physical lockdowns of Covid days are replaced by CBDC lockouts, which are much easier to enforce. Bo Li speaking at the IMF symposium THE MULTIPOLAR MILITARY DIMENSION Global economic and financial power is backed up by military force. So if the powers-that-be are serious about building a new system of super-powered poles, they need to have the muscle to hold their respective positions. After all, a multipolar world order cannot be stabilised and enforced unless each pole presents a genuine military threat to the other. For most of the post-WWII period, the US-led unipolar NATO alliance possessed the most advanced military technology. Not only did the West dominate monetarily, financially and economically, it had the military advantage to go with it. Yet, just like every other aspect of former Western dominance, that, too, has disappeared, and military power has blossomed elsewhere. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, Russia is claiming technological military supremacy. It is now ahead in the arms race. The US has confirmed that Russia used a functioning hypersonic missile in Ukraine, a fact that Joe Biden called “consequential” and frankly admitted “is almost impossible to stop.” China, too, has fired a hypersonic missile. It apparently circled the globe. It then dispatched a hypersonic glide missile that struck its target in China. Again, confirmation came from senior US military officials, who called the technological advance “stunning.” Now China says it may soon be able to arm its navy with these superior weapons. Meanwhile, the West’s dunderheads, who until relatively recently dominated militarily, simply can’t wrap their minds around the ramjet engine technology (or scramjet) that powers this new breed of missiles. While China has confirmed global flight tests and pinpoint hypersonic accuracy and Russia has actually used them in the battlefield, the Pentagon and the US Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and its private-sector partners like Raytheon are still fumbling about with limited tests, hoping they might be able to develop the same operational capability sometime soon. If you can believe that! The British can’t build ships that function in warm water, and their aircraft carriers can’t sail more than a few nautical miles without breaking down. The US Navy can’t sail its ships at all. And no one in the West can build a fighter aircraft that actually works. Yet Russia has taken submarine technology to a new level, and everyone is pretty sure China has developed AI “intelligentized” fighting capability. The West’s sudden inability to stay in, let alone lead, the technological arms race certainly seems to mark a polar shift in the global military balance of power. It is likely that the Western military-industrial complex is kicking itself after spending the last 30 years handing its military technology over to the East. Now look what they’ve done! CONCLUSION The Russian government and the Chinese government are not “worse” than the US, the UK or the French government. They are just governments doing what governments do. They represent the interests of those who can keep them in power—or remove them. The multipolar world order ends the last vestiges of national sovereignty. It is the geopolitical Great Reset: the culmination of the oligarch’s longstanding plan to establish a system of global governance that affords them dominion over all. If the multipolar system proceeds, which seems likely, the 193 nations—give or take—of the world will eventually be incorporated into a few global poles. Who knows how many, but probably no more than half a dozen or so. There are some potential benefits to multipolarity. Perhaps tianxia will break out, thus reducing the risk of conflict. A “balance of power” between global poles of states could limit aggression. But if we consider how this might be achieved and who is supposedly leading it, there is reason for concern. Assuming that the Pax Americana, Pax Europa, Pax Eurasia and Pax Sinica poles, or whatever, don’t intend to disarm, wouldn’t this logically infer a proliferation of armaments globally, including hypersonic nuclear weapons? How will these poles maintain internal security? What is to stop warfare from breaking out within each pole as disputes emerge? Will other poles have to, or choose to, intervene? Let’s be honest. The omens don’t look too encouraging. We are accelerating towards the multipolar world order due in large part to a war currently being waged by one of multipolarity’s leading proponents. Similarly, the activities of the other leading proponent—in places like Yemen, for instance—hardly inspire confidence. There is no evidence to suggest that the conduct of either Russia or China is or will be intrinsically “better” than the conduct of the leading nations of the previous “order.” By far the most concerning aspect of the multipolar world order is that fewer “poles” will empower global governance. The consistent trajectory, throughout history, toward the centralisation of power hasn’t just happened by accident. The strategy of diminishing the clique of people who exercise control over the global population is a purposeful one. Were it not, it wouldn’t have been engineered in the first place. The goal of these technocrats is to possess unopposed power. We know what they desire to do with that power should they ever achieve it: enhanced biosecurity population control population surveillance digital IDs social credit systems AI automated censorship Universal Basic Income control of the food supply, of water, of energy, of housing, of education ultimately, the total control and enslavement of humanity through Central Bank Digital Currency, or some variation of it. The nation-states advocating the new multipolar world order don’t reject these control mechanisms. On the contrary, they are leading in of their development. The multipolar system is one giant leap toward global technocratic tyranny, a system they fully endorse. In Part 1, we noted that US geostrategist Zbigniew Brzezinski had identified Eurasia—”extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok”—as the setting for what he called “the game.” He observed: America must absolutely take over Ukraine, because Ukraine is the pivot of Russian power in Europe. Once Ukraine is separated from Russia, Russia will no longer be a threat. US-led Western powers, having orchestrated the 2014 Euromaidan Coup and having failed to seize control through the Ukrainian ballot box, have since then demonstrated their intent to incorporate Ukraine into the West’s strategic orbit by any means. Conflict of some sort became inevitable from that point onwards. The next eight years saw an escalating proxy conflict unfold, with virtually no serious attempts to stop it, which has led to this entirely predictable Ukraine War. The people of Ukraine and the people in the new Russian republics and oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson are viewed as expendable pawns. The conflict is all too real for them, as they fight and die and long to live in peace without the perpetual threat of violence. Yet neither the “great powers” nor their puppet leaders care about the lives of the people beyond their strategic value. The war in Ukraine is a deadly tactical ploy. The point is to fight it out, down to the last Ukrainian, if necessary, in order to facilitate the transition to the multipolar world order, thus enabling the abhorrent Great Reset and finally delivering full-blown global governance. The vulnerable ones who will freeze to death in Europe this winter—and they could number in the thousands—are mere collateral damage in “the game.” Yet war needn’t get in the way of business as usual: Russia continues to supply gas to Europe, if in greatly reduced quantities and at elevated prices, through Ukrainian pipelines. The mainstream media and much of the alternative media, in both the West and the East, market the Ukraine war as a battle for “freedom,” “sovereignty” or some such drivel. As the death toll mounts among those forced to fight for their existence, we in the wider international community, taking one side or the other, fall for the same old monstrous lies. We plant our little flags, online and off, and argue about our respective delusions, imagining that we are participating in the war, in our own small way. We act like jeering football crowds who cheer on our side to win. Globalist think tanks have long considered war a strategic catalyst for change, a point we should have learned from Norman Dodd’s investigation and report for the Reece Committee on Foundations in 1954. We are being hopelessly naive if we imagine the war in Ukraine couldn’t possibly lead to a horrific global conflict. We have no reason to “trust” the lunatics whom we allow to remain in charge. Equally, we should recognise that we are being manipulated by tactics designed to produce fear. Nuclear brinkmanship should always be seen in its fear-inducing context. The oligarchs of the world are united as they seek to establish a regionalized, multipolar system of global governance that will rule the nation-states we live in. Our political leaders, wherever they exert their claimed authority, are wholly complicit with the oligarchs’ agenda. They are selling us all out as they vie for a better seat at the table while breaking our backs in their obsequious desire to polish it. Tyler Durden Tue, 10/25/2022 - 23:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 26th, 2022

Fincantieri says cooperation with Thyssenkrupp chance to talk about consolidation

Cooperation between Fincantieri and Thyssenkrupp to build submarines is a good opportunity to talk about future consolidation in the European defence sector, the Italian shipbuilder's general manager Alberto Maestrini said on Friday......»»

Category: topSource: reutersMay 15th, 2020

I became an Amazon product manager with no tech experience. Here"s how my years as a fitness trainer helped me land the gig.

Ridge Carpenter served as a "fitness expert" during the early days of Amazon Halo. He turned the contract position into a full-time job 10 months in. Ridge Carpenter is a product manager at Amazon Halo.Amazon Ridge Carpenter is a physical trainer and product manager for Halo, Amazon's fitness tracker. When he applied for the position, the only detail he knew was that the job related to fitness. Now he gets to incorporate physical training into his new role and work on cool features every day. This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Ridge Carpenter, a 36-year-old Amazon Halo product manager from Seattle, Washington, about how he turned his passion for fitness into a career. It has been edited for length and clarity.Fitness has been an important outlet for me to deal with uncertainty throughout my career.In 2008, I received my BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I was nervous about what came next, so for a while I freelanced in illustration and worked as an entry-level model for print and runway. At the same time, I became a certified personal trainer in New York. Working out was one of the productive things I enjoyed. I had an interest in training methodology, which came from a similar space that had drawn me to medical and anatomical illustration. By 2015, I'd moved back to Seattle, where I grew up, and shifted entirely to training.I worked in a sports-medicine and athletic-performance facility, where I taught group and individual fitness classes. I also worked with patients, on the clinical side, as a strength and movement coach — adjunct to the rehab process. In 2017, I added more general-population training and worked with individuals and groups at a larger commercial gym. I wanted to know the "right way" to train (Spoiler: There are multiple right ways). Eventually, a colleague and mentor referred me for a job as a fitness consultant at Amazon — which led me to my job today as a product manager at Amazon Halo.My colleague couldn't tell me much about the role, but I knew it dealt with my passion for fitnessI went through three interviews with my hiring manager and had to complete a sample task, where I was asked to talk through how I'd solve a given problem and label sample data, before being offered the role. I think beginner's mind, which is loving to learn, and being ready to say "yes" to something new helped me get the job.It wasn't until my first day on the job that I found out I'd actually be working on Halo, Amazon's fitness tracker that hadn't launched yet. (At the time, Halo was confidential.) In 2018, I had a two-month contract to work 30 hours a week. That contract was extended to 11 months, but at the 10-month mark I was offered the opportunity to interview for a full-time role. My title within the Halo organization was "fitness expert," although more broadly, I was referred to as an "industry specialist." Anyone with a fitness question would come to us fitness experts, from UX designers wondering about wording or information display to product managers who had questions about how a trainer would approach a given problem. We were knowledge resources, in short, even before showing up on camera.I had zero promises of a full-time role when I started. In fact, I started with the presumption that I'd work as a contractor for a year or two at most. The opportunity to interview for a full-time role was a surprise, though it did come as a result of my willingness to lean all the way into my role and truly create the job I wanted. My full-time tenure started in April 2019. Every day I'm working on something differentAt the very beginning, I spent most of my time studying data for machine-learning algorithms. My days were often spent labeling data to estimate body fat percentages and teaching others how to do the same.This was something completely new for me. I learned so many new skills, and I'm still learning. Product management has taught me to think differently and ask the right questions. Now, as a product manager, I make sure the product team knows what to build based on our overall mission and strategy. I make sure we have a solid conviction on why we're building it (and for whom) before collaborating with engineers, designers, and other teams. After launch, we look at the product's performance and make further decisions to ensure we're still offering the best product for our customers.Previously, I was involved with processes that were a little farther on the development side, that customers didn't directly interact with. The more I moved into new responsibilities, the more proximity I had to the customer's experience.One day, I'll be working with a data scientist on logic for translating someone's overhead-squat video into a series of scores, and how to ensure those scores are consistent and actionable in our app. The next day, I might be reviewing in-app text about that overhead-squat assessment with a UX designer to make sure it meets the bar for accuracy about how things actually work while still making sense to all reading levels.I'm also heavily involved in the enhancement of newer features — like the Halo Movement Assessment, a personalized exercise program to help improve mobility, stability, and posture over time. I really enjoy being able to plan out a system like that in cooperation with researchers, applied scientists, and data analysts who can help strengthen and refine the fitness-end architecture.I also get to spend one to 2 days a month outside the office shooting fitness contentRidge Carpenter working out for Amazon Halo.AmazonDuring my days out of the office, I generally film a few classes and a dozen or so pieces of short-form video content that's available for Halo app members.I still love teaching, so it's awesome to be able to wear both hats. I don't currently have any personal-training clients (I stopped seeing my last few clients in the early days of the pandemic), though I've thought of bringing back a few — it's fun to work with people directly and celebrate the wins as they come.I occasionally put on my trainer hat while I'm working through a product challenge, testing users in a simulated training, or giving other collaborators a taste of the process. I sometimes get a chance to work as both a trainer and a product lead, doing live training and speaking sessions for the Halo team and external clients. You should like something about your job if you want it to be sustainable in the long-termIf it's all about getting through the day to get to the fun part of living, your job won't satisfy you for long. I love that my job involves concepts and practices I'm excited about in a vibrant community of people who are excited about the same things. The more you get from both work and life, the easier it should be to commit to balance. Do the work during the workday, so you can truly unplug outside of it.Brandon Peters, a sleep expert who consults with Halo, recommends that we keep wakeful activities out of our bed to make sure we can sleep easily — in other words, carry the wakefulness "bucket" away from your bed and the sleep "bucket" to it by making sure your habits match the setting. Take a thorough cool-down after working out, a wind-down before bed, or spend time during your waking hours organizing your next day.It's the same way with work. I try to organize the following day before logging off at the end of work hours — this lets me unplug completely and removes loose ends I might otherwise be tempted to start focusing on. This reinforces the rhythm of coming in and out of wakefulness, where a lot of us blur the borders by working at bedtime or leaping straight into the day before we're awake.One piece of career advice I return to a lot is from a great coach. He said, 'Show up, make a difference.'In my work as a trainer, I always took this advice as guidance to do all I could to help my clients succeed, learn, and improve. With regard to Halo, that advice reminded me that I wasn't there to fill a seat or to simply add my approval to every idea — I had a responsibility to contribute what I knew in order to make a product I'd be proud of.I used to find it easier to escape notice and minimize my impression to avoid making a bad one. But committing to showing up means defining how you want to impact the world around you.At work, this means committing to decisions, maybe taking risks, but ultimately contributing something genuine. Outside of work, it means being a genuine presence to your loved ones, whomever they are, and bringing something of yourself to their lives that'll enrich them.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 9th, 2022

Futures Rise As China Reopening Hopes Return

Futures Rise As China Reopening Hopes Return And just like that, sentiment has turned on a dime... or rather a yuan. One day after global stocks and commodities tanked following a weekend of violent protests swept across China, Beijing appears to have learned its lesson and overnight Chinese government health experts made an unscheduled overnight announcement in which they not only vowed to speed up Covid shots for the elderly - a move regarded as crucial to the reopening  - but to avoid excessive restrictions, fueling a new round of bets that Beijing is bending to the pressure of an economic reopening. A spokesman for the National Health Commission also said local officials must avoid excessive restrictions. As a result, contracts on the Nasdaq 100 were up 0.4% at 7:30 a.m. in New York, while S&P 500 futures rose 0.2%, erasing earlier gains which pushed spoos as high as 3990. Both underlying indexes tumbled about 1.5% on Monday amid fears that protests in China about Covid restrictions would affect the pace of the reopening. In premarket trading, Chinese stocks listed in the US rallied, including internet stocks Alibaba and, while the exchange-traded KraneShares CSI China Internet Fund rose more than 6%, following on from Asian markets’ sharp bounce earlier in the day. Apple rose along with tech stocks, lifted by the general positive sentiment on China. Roku dropped after a broker downgrade. Here are all notable premarket movers: 23andMe is initiated with a buy recommendation at Berenberg, which sees the genomics firm as well-positioned to become a “leader in a redefined individualized healthcare ecosystem.” The broker also sets a Street-high price target for the stock. Shares gain 2.7%. AZEK fell 6.2% after the outdoor living products manufacturer reported fourth-quarter revenue that was ahead of consensus, though the company’s first- quarter net sales forecast fell short of expectations. For the analysts, the guide was disappointing, with some highlighting the impact that inventory headwinds would have in the first quarter. BigCommerce shares are up 2.9% in premarket trading, after the e-commerce software company said its merchant gross merchandise value rose 31% on Black Friday, a growth rate that analysts see as strong. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks rise in US premarket trading following Monday’s losses, as Bitcoin gained amid the return of risk appetite on China reopening bets, though worries lingered over the fallout from FTX’s collapse. Coinbase shares gained 1.6%. Chinese stocks listed in the US rally as officials vowed to speed up Covid shots for the elderly and to avoid excessive restrictions, fueling a new round of bets that Beijing is bending to pressure for a reopening. Alibaba shares gain 5.3%, shares rise 7.2%, Baidu shares advance 5.9% Generac shares fall 2.6% in premarket trading after Jefferies downgraded the backup generator manufacturer to underperform from hold, noting the risk bidirectional charging for electric vehicles poses to home standby penetration over the long-term. Lordstown Motors rose as much as 6% in premarket trading upon reaching the conditions to start consumer sales. Hibbett Inc reported earnings per share for the third quarter that missed the average analyst estimate. Shares decline 5.8%. Microsoft shares advance 0.2% in US premarket trading, as Morgan Stanley says that it has confidence in the software firm’s commercial businesses, which are sending a strong and durable demand signal. Mirum Pharmaceuticals fell as much as 9.8% premarket upon deciding to discontinue the OHANA study of volixibat in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy due to enrollment feasibility. Novocure is upgraded to overweight at Wells Fargo ahead of results from the company’s LUNAR non-small cell lung cancer trial, expected early next year. Shares decline 1.2%. Roku (ROKU) shares decline 3% after the stock was downgraded to sector weight from overweight at KeyBanc, which says consensus for 2023 and 2024 looks “too optimistic. United Parcel Service (UPS) shares are up 1.4% in premarket trading, after Deutsche Bank upgraded the package shipping company to buy from hold. US-listed shares of Bilibili (BILI) are up 10.4% in premarket trading, after the China-based video game company reported third-quarter results that beat expectations, though it also gave a fourth-quarter revenue forecast that was below the average analyst estimate. “My guess is China has reached some kind of tipping point on Covid restrictions,” said Christophe Barraud, chief strategists at the Market Securities brokerage in Paris. “Even before the recent unrest, officials were preparing to implement more targeted measures, but the unrest will only accelerate the process.” Another tailwind for stocks is the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will move to a slower rate-hiking pace, with Fed Chair Jerome Powell seen cementing those bets when he speaks on Wednesday. That view, alongside the easing in China tensions, and expectations for further slowing in payroll gains on Friday, pushed the dollar lower against a basket of peers, following two days of gains. US stocks have rallied in the past two months on growing optimism that the Federal Reserve would slow the pace of rate hikes as inflation showed signs of cooling and as the US inevitably slides into recession. But policy makers have stressed they will continue to raise borrowing costs further until they see a meaningful dip in prices, and market strategists have warned the rally may fizzle out over the coming weeks amid recession worries. “Investors don’t want to hear what the Fed says; it says it will hike slower but higher, investors hear that the Fed will hike slower, and so we have rallies that get interrupted by frequent rectification from the Fed officials,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank. “Even soft growth, soft jobs and soft inflation should not lead to a sustained recovery as they would hint at recession.” That hawkish drumbeat from central bankers has seen global bonds signal a recession, as a gauge measuring the worldwide yield curve inverted for the first time in at least two decades. Meanwhile UBS Wealth Management Chief Investment Officer Mark Haefele agreed and warned that investors should remain cautious over the revival in risk appetite that has occurred over the past few months. “The path back toward the Fed’s 2% inflation target could be bumpy, sparking renewed concerns about how high rates will have to rise,” he wrote in a note on Tuesday. On the other hand, Deutsche Bank strategists said they expect the rally to continue as both rate and equity volatility falls, while systematic strategies raise equity exposure from extremely low levels, propelling the S&P to 4,500 before it all comes crashing down in Q3 2023 when stocks plunge to 3,250 only to rebound the next quarter. In Europe, the Stoxx 50 rose 0.3% on speculation that unrest in China over Covid restrictions would force authorities to move faster in loosening curbs. FTSE 100 outperformed peers, adding 0.8%. Here are the most notable European movers: Union Financière de France shares rise as much as 53% after majority owner Abeille Assurances lodged a EU21/share buyout offer for the 25% of capital it doesn’t already own. Shares in Danish pharma giant Novo Nordisk gained as much as 4% after the FDA cleared forms at Catalent’s Wegovy manufacturing sites in the US and Brussels. ASM International shares jump as much as 8% after the Dutch chip-tool maker forecast a less severe sales impact from the US chip export restrictions and raised its fourth-quarter guidance. Boozt rises as much as 14%, the most since August, after the Swedish online retailer said it expects to reach the high end of its full-year guidance. The Stoxx 600 Retail subindex is among the best performing in Tuesday trading, with Zalando +3.7%, JD Sports +2.1% and H&M +1.3% Mining and energy are the best-performing sectors in Europe on Tuesday amid a rebound in commodity markets as China refined its approach for dealing with Covid-19 and investors looked ahead to an OPEC+ meeting on output policy. The Stoxx 600 Basic Resources subindex rises as much as 2.5% to the highest since mid-June, led by heavyweights like Rio Tinto and Anglo American Capita shares fall as much as 5.8% in London trading, the steepest intraday decline since Sept. 30. Shares in Orlen gain as much as 4.2% as Poland’s biggest refiner boosted Ebitda in 3Q following acquisition of Lotos. Greencore Group falls 4.9% after saying that it remains cautious about the potential impact of the recessionary environment and cost-of-living factors on consumer spending through the year ahead. Nestle shares drop as much as 1.1%, underperforming the Stoxx 600’s food, beverage and tobacco subgroup, after the Swiss food giant set financial targets and said it’s considering options for Palforzia, just two years after buying the peanut-allergy treatment in a $2.6 billion deal. Earlier in the session, Asian equities rose as latest official commentary in China bolstered reopening trades, with a weaker dollar adding to tailwinds for the region. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index extended its advance to as much as 1.7% in afternoon trading, with gauges in Hong Kong jumping more than 5% to lead gains in the region. In a briefing, Chinese officials urged elderly vaccination and avoidance of excessive restrictions, which added to reopening optimism. Beijing’s additional support for developers also buoyed stocks.  A decline in the dollar boosted benchmarks in South Korea, Taiwan and India, although measures in Japan fell. Consumer discretionary and telecom shares were the biggest sectoral advancers in the region. “It’s been a tough year for most funds, so if they miss out on big moves in China” going into the end of the year, that “would hurt performance,” said Sat Duhra, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson Investors. “From a tactical point of view, that’s the reason China is so volatile.” Asia’s stock gauge has gained 14% in November, on track for its best month since 1998, with beaten-down markets in North Asia showing signs of recovery boosted by month-end positioning. Still, traders will closely monitor a host of US economic data due this week as well as commentary by Federal Reserve officials to gauge global inflation and growth prospects next year. Japanese equities dropped after Fed policymakers stressed that there will be further monetary-policy tightening ahead to curb inflation. The Topix Index fell 0.6% to 1,992.97 as of market close in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 declined 0.5% to 28,027.84. Toyota Motor Corp. contributed the most to the Topix’s decline, as the automaker fell 1.4%. Among 2,164 stocks in the index, 1,478 fell and 586 rose, while 100 were unchanged. “Though Fed officials have been commenting, even in that case, monetary tightening will go in the direction of easing,” said Hideyuki Suzuki, general manager at SBI Securities. “What the market needs to be concerned about is whether the global economy will do okay.” In rates, Treasuries were moderately higher across the curve, holding gains amassed during the European session as German inflation data unleashed a bull-steepening rally in bunds. Intermediates outperformed slightly on the curve. Home price and consumer confidence data are focal points of US session, along with potential for month-end flows to support long-end.  Yields richer by 1bp to 3bp across the curve with belly-led gains tightening the 2s5s30s fly by ~2.5bp; 10-year TSYs around 3.66%, down 2bps on the day and trailing bunds in the sector by 7.5bp. German curve aggressively bull-steepens as ECB hike premium is pared; 2-year German yields richer by 13bp on the day in early US session. Bunds bull steepened, with yields dropping 6-11bps, and money markets aggressively pared ECB tightening wagers. Inflation in German states as well as in Spain pointed toward a faster deceleration than economists forecast for the national figure later today, and sure enough, German CPI came in at -0.5%, well below the -0.2% expected, and a sharp drop from 0.9% last month. Peripheral spreads are mixed to Germany; Italy tightens, Spain widens and Portugal tightens. In FX, the Bloomberg dollar spot index fell 0.6%, extending losses as the greenback weakened against all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the Swiss franc. Australian and New Zealand dollars led gains amid optimism after China’s briefing on the implementation of virus prevention and control measures. The euro pared most of yesterday’s decline but stopped short of breaching the $1.04 handle as money markets aggressively pared ECB tightening wagers. Inflation in German states as well as in Spain pointed toward a faster deceleration than economists forecast for the national figure later today. The pound advanced to trade around 1.20 per dollar. Gilts gained but underperformed bunds. The BOE starts its first “demand-led” sale of long-end bonds and linkers bought after September’s mini-budget Sweden’s krona underperformed other risk-sensitive G-10 currencies; GDP expanded by less than forecast in the third quarter while separate data showed retail sales plunged most on record last month Elsewhere, oil extended a rebound from the lowest level in almost a year, on speculation that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies will deepen supply cuts to respond to weakening global demand. Crude futures advanced, Brent rises 2.9% near $85.62. Spot gold rises roughly $14 to trade near $1,756/oz To the day ahead now, and data releases include German CPI for November, UK mortgage approvals for October, Canada’s Q3 GDP, the US Conference Board’s consumer confidence for November, and the FHFA house price index for September. Central bank speakers include BoE Governor Bailey and the BoE’s Mann, ECB Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s de Cos. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 3,980.75 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.1% to 437.53 MXAP up 1.6% to 155.12 MXAPJ up 2.4% to 499.98 Nikkei down 0.5% to 28,027.84 Topix down 0.6% to 1,992.97 Hang Seng Index up 5.2% to 18,204.68 Shanghai Composite up 2.3% to 3,149.75 Sensex up 0.4% to 62,750.28 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% to 7,253.31 Kospi up 1.0% to 2,433.39 German 10Y yield down 4.5% to 1.90% Euro up 0.3% to $1.0370 Brent Futures up 2.2% to $84.98/bbl Gold spot up 0.8% to $1,755.58 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.37% to 106.28 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Chinese health authorities struck a conciliatory tone a day after protests against stringent Covid curbs were stymied by a heavy police presence, social media censorship and quiet pandemic concessions China’s worsening economic slump and a likely disruptive rollback of Covid restrictions will keep the central bank on its easing path, economists said, with calls growing for more interest rate cuts The ECB must continue monitoring underlying inflation as it determines what dose of monetary-policy tightening is needed to tame record price gains, according to Vice President Luis de Guindos The minutes of the UK DMO’s meeting with gilt-edged market makers (GEMMs) and investors on Nov. 28 showed a preference for either a new 30- or 40-year bond syndication in the final quarter of this financial year OPEC and its allies are expected to consider deeper supply curbs when they meet this weekend against the backdrop of a faltering global oil market A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks were mostly positive with the improvement in risk appetite spurred after China protests were clamped down on by police and after the country also announced support measures for developers, while there was also speculation of a potential easing of COVID controls ahead of a press briefing by China’s State Council. ASX 200 pared its early losses after rebounding from a floor around the 7,200 level although gains were contained amid the lack of pertinent domestic catalysts. Nikkei 225 was subdued after Unemployment Rate and Retail Sales data disappointed expectations and with automakers Toyota and Honda adjusting or suspending factories in China due to the COVID situation, while Eisai was the worst performer after a second death was linked to the Co. and Biogen's Lecanemab Alzheimer's drug. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were lifted with outperformance in developers after China resumed approving listed developers' mergers and is also to ease rules on developer bond state guarantees, while hopes of a relaxation of COVID restrictions added to the tailwinds. Top Asian News China is aiming to increase the pace of COVID vaccination for those 80 and above, according to the Health Authority, to allow elderly to take a booster three months after vaccine. CDC Official says they will promptly and effectively solve difficult problems reported by the masses; when asked if protests will prompt them to reconsider zero-COVID policy, says they will continue to fine tune policy to reduce the impact on the economy and society. Beijing City reports 2,126 (prev. 2,086) COVID infections on November 29th as of 3pm, according to a health official. UK PM Sunak called for Britain to evolve its foreign policy approach to China, while he also said the golden era of UK-China relations is over and criticised China's crackdown, according to SCMP and The Mirror. European bourses trade mixed after the initial China-led optimism petered out in early European hours, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.2%. Sectors are mostly firmer following choppiness in the European morning, but base metals remain the marked outperformer. US equity futures meanwhile remain modestly firmer across the board but off best levels as participants look ahead to Fed Chair Powell tomorrow, followed by US PCE on Thursday and NFP on Friday, ES +0.3%. Top European News UK government is abandoning controversial powers from the Online Safety Bill that would have forced internet companies to take down legal but harmful content following backlash from the tech industry and free speech advocates, according to FT. UK Oct. Mortgage Approvals Fall to 28-Month Low of 59k UK Rewrites Online Safety Bill After Free Speech Backlash Goldman Moves Some London Traders to Milan in Fresh Brexit Shift EasyJet Targets Full Capacity as Discounters Thrive in Slump Ørsted Offers to Buy Certain Sub Capital Securities FX Antipodean Dollars revived alongside Yuan as Chinese Covid cases dip to provide some respite, AUD/USD and NZD/USD firmly back above 0.6700 and 0.6200, while Usd/Cnh retreats from just shy of 7.2500. Buck off Monday's recovery highs, but DXY underpinned between 106.050-750 parameters on hawkish Fed rhetoric. Yen rebounds through 138.00 vs Greenback as bond yields recede to offset disappointing Japanese data. Euro and Pound bounce against the Dollar towards 1.0400 and over 1.2050 at one stage. Loonie pares declines in tandem with WTI as Usd/Cad recoils within a 1.3497-09 range ahead of Canadian GDP metrics. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.1989 vs exp. 7.2077 (prev. 7.1617) Fixed Income Another firm recovery in debt futures, with EGBs encouraged by slowdowns in German state and Spanish national CPI readings. Bunds reach 141.74 from 140.08 at worst and Bonos 130.20 vs 129.46. BTPs outperform either side of solid month end Italian auctions as the 10 year benchmark tops out at 120.67 for a 169 tick gain on the day. Gilts cautious around 106.00 ahead of BoE commentary, but T-note firm on 113-00 handle awaiting US consumer confidence. Commodities WTI and Brent Jan futures have been trending higher since the APAC session on speculation China could that China could ease its COVID restrictions, although the Chinese health officials instead boosted the vaccination drive for the elderly and stressed they must keep avoiding excessive COVID curbs. Spot gold trades in tandem with the Dollar and remains within recent ranges on either side of USD 1,750/oz ahead of key risk events later this week. Base metals are lifted by the overnight China COVID optimism alongside support measures announced for China’s property sector, in turn boosting demand for raw materials, with 3M LME copper back on a USD 8,000/t level and extending on gains. China's President Xi says China is ready to boost Russian energy cooperation, via CCTV. Russian Deputy PM Novak says they are discussing with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan a gas union for shipments, which would include shipments to China, via Ifx. CNOOC is planning a 50-day overhaul at their 240k BPD Huizhou site from March, via Reuters citing sources. Euronext has informed clients that due to a technical incident, a failover has occurred on the commodities segment at 09:46GMT; Order Entry on all commodities contracts will be enabled at 10:45 GMT. These contracts will move into continuous tradable phase at 11:00 GMT. Geopolitics US official said Washington will announce significant financial assistance to Ukraine today and the new aid aims to mitigate damage caused by Russian bombing of Ukraine's energy grid, while the official said the Biden administration has allocated over USD 1bln to support the energy sector in Ukraine and Moldova, according to Sky News Arabia. China's military said a US cruiser illegally intruded into waters near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, while it added that it followed the US cruiser and said the US move infringes China's sovereignty, according to Reuters. China's ambassador to Britain has been summoned to the Foreign Office following the police "beating" of a BBC journalist in Shanghai, according to the Evening Standard. South Korean President Yoon said China can and should influence North Korea's behaviour to stop weapons development and he warned that any new North Korean nuclear test will be met with a joint response not seen in the past. Yoon also stated he is firmly opposed to any attempt to change the status quo unilaterally regarding Taiwan and said that in the event of a Taiwan conflict, South Korean troops' imminent concern would be any North Korean military action, according to Reuters. US Event Calendar 09:00: Sept. S&P CS Composite-20 YoY, est. 10.50%, prior 13.08% S&P/CS 20 City MoM SA, est. -1.20%, prior -1.32% FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. -1.2%, prior -0.7% 10:00: Nov. Conf. Board Consumer Confidence, est. 100.0, prior 102.5 Expectations, prior 78.1 Present Situation, prior 138.9 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap I've been writing the EMR for nearly 16 years and before yesterday I can remember only one previous day where we couldn't distribute it for technical reasons. So apologies for the non-appearance yesterday in your email boxes. Given the size of the distribution list we use an external vendor to publish and our respective systems had a bit of a fight yesterday. The EMR was the loser. We think they have sat down and reconciled their differences now so fingers crossed this reaches you before you retire. Moving on, over the next 25 hours we'll perhaps have a few more clues as to whether the ECB will hike 50bps or 75bps two weeks on Thursday. I say next 25 hours but if the EMR is 6 hours late today then you'll already know the German CPI numbers out today. The NRW region, which has the highest weighting in the national number, should be out around the time we hit inboxes with other regions at 9am London time and the country-wide number at 1pm. Our German economists previewed the release last night (link here) suggesting the YoY for the country will likely only ease a tenth to 10.3% and might only dip below 10% from March when the government's "energy price breaks" kick in. We also see the Spanish print today and then the French equivalent at 7.45am London time tomorrow (hence the 25 hours). As a reminder, our economists expect the Eurozone November print to tick up a further tenth to 10.7% tomorrow (10am), which would be another record since the single currency’s formation. Ahead of these we had several hawkish developments yesterday, with the Netherlands’ central bank governor Knot describing inflation risks as “entirely tilted to the upside”, and describing talk of over-tightening was “a bit of a joke”. Furthermore, Knot made the point that the declining downside risks to growth over recent weeks had hawkish implications for the ECB. In this context, global markets got the week off to a rough start yesterday, with the S&P 500 (-1.54%) and other risk assets losing ground as investors sought to understand the consequences of the ongoing Covid situation in China. Understandably, the initial reaction has been pretty negative, since rising cases have generally led to a greater chance of restrictions in every country as the pandemic got underway, particularly as policymakers sought to avoid healthcare services becoming overwhelmed. And just as Chinese markets had surged in recent weeks on speculation about an earlier reopening in China, the last 24 hours have seen that process go into reverse as the prospect of further lockdowns come into view. However, much as the initial reaction has been pretty negative, in some ways the read-across from the current situation to markets is more difficult. On the one hand, it’s plausible that the months ahead see fresh lockdowns as we saw in Shanghai in Q2. But it’s also possible that the protests lead to a quicker move away from the zero Covid strategy, which based on past performance would prove fairly supportive. Indeed, sentiment was very positive 2-3 weeks ago after it was announced that the quarantine time for close contacts and inbound travellers was being cut from 10 days to 8, since it was seen as signalling a move away from the restrictive approach that had previously been adopted. And as the US session got underway there were signs of that dynamic taking place. For instance, the NASDAQ Golden Dragon China index surged by +2.83% yesterday, which is an index of US-listed stocks for whom most of their business is done in China. In the meantime, futures on the Hang Seng were more than +1% higher during the US session, indicating that there could be some sort of bounceback following the initial slump. This more positive momentum has carried into Asia helped by an absence of any further escalations in the protests against Covid-19 restrictions in China. Across the region, the Hang Seng Tech index is leading gains rising past +6.0% with the Hang Seng +4.31% higher alongside the CSI (+3.26%) and the Shanghai Composite (+2.35%) ahead of a newly arranged State Council Covid briefing today (3pm local time. 7am London) to discuss prevention and control measures. It's not clear whether any new polices will be implemented. The country reported 38,421 new local cases on Monday down from a record high of 40,052 reported for Sunday with no deaths reported for two consecutive days. This was the first decline in cases for more than a week. Elsewhere, the KOSPI (+1.02%) is trading higher in early trade while the Nikkei (-0.53%) is bucking the regional trend. In overnight trading, US stock futures are indicating a more positive start with contracts on the S&P 500 (+0.32%) and the NASDAQ 100 (+0.44%) moving higher. Early morning data showed that Japan’s jobless rate for October remained steady from the prior month’s reading of +2.6% (v/s +2.5% expected). At the same time, the jobs-to-applicant ratio climbed to 1.35, in-line with market expectations and compared to a level of 1.34 in September highlighting that the nation’s labour market remains tight. A separate report showed that retail sales (+0.2% m/m) rose less than expected in October following an upwardly revised increase of +1.5% in September as household spending was squeezed by inflation running at its fastest pace in 40 years. The China whipsaw over the last 24 hours seems to have had most impact on oil, where prices fell to their lowest intraday levels in months on the back of the weekend developments. For instance, WTI hit an intraday low of $73.60/bbl during the European morning, which briefly put it in negative territory on a YTD basis, before recovering sharply into the US session to actually gain ground on the day and close at $77.24/bbl and up another +1.8% to $78.65 in Asia. It was a similar story for Brent crude, which hit its lowest intraday level since January at $80.61/bbl, before recovering into the close to end just a hair lower at $83.45/bbl. It's at $84.75 in Asia. The recent fall in oil has fed through to consumer prices as well, with the US AAA’s data on the average national pump price down at $3.546 on Sunday, marking its lowest level since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. Incidentally, we had another positive development in Europe yesterday as the immediate threat of a further Russian gas cutoff was avoided. This stemmed from Gazprom’s threat last week that they would curb gas shipments to Moldova via Ukraine from November 28, but shipments continued yesterday, which is important more broadly since the route is also used for further transport to Europe. In the meantime, ECB President Lagarde said that there was “too much uncertainty” to assume that inflation had peaked, particularly in terms of how wholesale energy costs were passed through to the retail level, and said “it would surprise me” if it had peaked in October. As investors dwelled on the prospects of a more hawkish ECB, yields on 10yr government debt rose across the continent, with yields on 10yr bunds (+1.1bps), OATs (+2.5bps) and BTPs (+5.6bps) all moving higher on the day. Treasury yields were a bit more subdued after back-and-forth price action through the day, with yields on 10yr Treasuries finally rising a marginal +0.4bps to 3.68% before climbing 2.5bps in Asia. For yesterday, the China story growth fears netted out with hawkish Fed officials to leave yields roughly flat across the curve. On the Fed, St. Louis Fed President Bullard noted that markets were underestimating the chances of a more aggressive stance from the Fed next year. New York Fed President and FOMC Vice Chair Williams emphasised that the Fed still needed to impart further tightening, and that unemployment would be climbing next year. He noted that recession was not a part of his baseline forecast but that there were downside looks to the outlook. So the Fed continues to get closer to our Street-leading recession forecast. Before the talk of tighter policy, 10yr Treasuries did sink as low as 3.62% after the China news hit trading. Earlier in the day, the 2s10s curve had also hit a new intraday low for the current cycle, falling as far as -81bps at one point, before recovering into the close to hit -76.3bps. Equities struggled against this backdrop, with the S&P 500 (-1.54%) losing ground for a second day running. The decline was a fairly broad-based one, with just 37 companies in the index rising on the day, and other indices including the NASDAQ (-1.58%) and the Dow Jones (-1.45%) saw similar declines. Over in Europe, the STOXX 600 also shed -0.65%, with declines for the DAX (-1.09%) and the CAC 40 (-0.70%) as well. To the day ahead now, and data releases include German CPI for November, UK mortgage approvals for October, Canada’s Q3 GDP, the US Conference Board’s consumer confidence for November, and the FHFA house price index for September. Central bank speakers include BoE Governor Bailey and the BoE’s Mann, ECB Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s de Cos. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/29/2022 - 08:18.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 29th, 2022

Kroger CEO On Buying Albertsons In $24 Billion Dollar Deal

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) Chairman & CEO Rodney McMullen on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” (M-F, 3PM-4PM ET) today, Friday, October 14th. Following is a link to video on Kroger To Buy Albertsons In $24 Billion Dollar Deal SARA EISEN: Huge deal news today. Kroger officially […] Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) Chairman & CEO Rodney McMullen on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” (M-F, 3PM-4PM ET) today, Friday, October 14th. Following is a link to video on Kroger To Buy Albertsons In $24 Billion Dollar Deal SARA EISEN: Huge deal news today. Kroger officially buying rival grocery company Albertsons in a $24.6 billion deal. Both stocks are pulling back on the news. Joining me now exclusively from Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen. Rodney, welcome. Thank you for taking the time. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   RODNEY MCMULLEN: Thank you. Hi Sara, great to see you again. EISEN: You too. Look, I'm wondering how long this deal has been in the works because Albertsons announced back in February it was pursuing strategic options. How did it come together? MCMULLEN: Yeah, if you look, it really started getting serious about I would say two months ago and the fact that CEO of Albertsons, we've known each other for years and years and years, and it really was a conversation that the two of us had in terms of there should be something here that makes sense that ends up being good for customers, good for our associates, good for the communities. And really creating a new competitive company that really, if you think about competing against the big box super centers and the online players, just improving that. So really Vivek and Chan the Chair there, and Stephen Feinberg is really you know, thinking about together how do we create something that really helps the consumer, the customer and the communities. EISEN: Well, the stock reaction I wanted to ask you about Rodney because your stock is down eight percent, Albertsons stock is pulling back either lack of confidence that this deal gets done or that it adds value for Kroger. What is your reaction to that reaction? MCMULLEN: Well, if you look, you know, short term, I always remember given Warren Buffett credit one time about short term, it's a voting machine. Long term, it's a weighing machine. And we felt really strong over time that this is really good and creates value and if you had a chance to listen to any of our earnings call, you know this increases our TSR model, our commitment of eight to eleven percent, increases it for the next four years so it's a great value for shareholders and improves cash flow as well. EISEN: What about the regulatory piece of this? Lot of concern that this will not pass with the antitrust authorities combining such big both of you have such big presences, huge employee workforces. Why do you have confidence that you can get this through? MCMULLEN: Well, we've been working with our outside counsel from an FTC standpoint for a while. Obviously, we're going to sit down and be very cooperative with the FTC. And it really gets back to the conversation and the comments I made before where you actually believe this will increase competition. If you look at the synergies that the combined companies will create, we will invest half a billion dollars or $500 million in lower prices for customers and especially in this inflationary environment, that's a huge help. We also will spend $1.3 billion on customer experience as well which that also adds to it and it creates more solid jobs for our associates across the country and obviously those are great union jobs and between the two companies, we’ll have over 700,000 associates. So from all the work that we've done and working with our outside counsel, we really think and believe this will increase and improve competition looking forward. EISEN: But don't you think it's going to be an uphill battle Rodney to try to convince this administration who that's already been skeptical of corporate consolidation at a time where food prices in September rose 13% from last year and an administration that has been very friendly to the unions? MCMULLEN: Yeah, that's one of the reasons why we shared that we expect closing won't be until early 2024 and we believe that there's a great reason for the two, to allow the two companies to merge and it really does, as I said before, allows the companies to be more competitive against, you know, those online players and the big super centers. So, you know, for us, we look forward to sitting down and having the conversation and feel that it's going to be very, very good for everybody. EISEN: Just want to point out to everyone that session lows for the S&P down 2.3%, the Dow is down 400. Another turbulent day here and a big turn in terms of sentiment throughout the day. Rodney, you mentioned that as part of this, you're going to be investing in price or lowering prices at Albertsons but I think the math works out to about 1%. Is that enough? MCMULLEN: Yeah, we think that's a great first start. As you know, if you look at Kroger, we've been investing in pricing for the last 15 years and we've done it, looked at it market by market in terms of what's where to make the price investments and how and we think the $500 million is an awesome first start. And if you look over time, our strategy will always be to continue to through process change get costs out of the business, and then turn around and give some of that to the customer and as you know, certainly in this inflationary environment, it's even more important to elect, to try to help support the customers’ budget even more so. The other thing that's really important is if you look at the combined company, our brands is a $43 billion area and you know our brands also provides a great opportunity where you don't have to give any compromise in terms of quality, but you're able to stretch the budget as well and when you look at the two companies, we have an incredible our brands portfolio. EISEN: The other, the other concern that I've heard today from traders and analysts has to do with the plan to divest some stores in order to appease the regulatory authorities and just who's going to be the buyer for some of these stores and at what price you're gonna you're so you're spinning that off into a separate company. What can you tell those that are questioning what type of deal you're going to get on the other side? MCMULLEN: Well, we feel very comfortable that we'll be able to find buyers that are strong, great operators for the stores. And obviously we haven't, we didn't have any conversations with anyone before the announcement. But I know when I'm talking to our investment bankers, they've already had people reaching out. And if you look at the structure, the deal in terms of being able to create SpinCo, that's one option as well to make sure that you have a strong viable competitor that's able to compete and do it successfully in the future. EISEN: I think there's a clause in the deal that if the government does require more than 650 divestitures then then you then Kroger can walk away from the deal. Why did you choose that number? MCMULLEN: It really is, you know, if you think about the everything within the agreement is a negotiation in terms of trying to balance the risk and the shareholder return and it was really the the number that made sense overall. Now, we don't think and would be surprised to get anything close to that, but you always have to have some type of out in the agreement. EISEN: So what, so you've been making the case about price, what would it mean for the consumer? So Walmart still has 22% or so market share as of last year in grocery, your combination would be I think around 13%. But then the next pure play grocer Ahold Delhaize would only be I don't know 5% or so. Ballpark numbers but what would, what would it mean for the consumer? Why is that not anti-competitive? MCMULLEN: Yeah, I think you have to look at it two ways. One is the way you did but then market by market. And you know, if you think about in certain markets, you have an awesome local competitor in HEB, other places Publix and every market has its own local competitors. Then you have Aldi and Lidl that's more broad based across a broader part of the country and you have Costco as well. So, you know, it's it's really important and I know you have to look at it market by market and there's a, as you know, you followed our industry a long time there's tons of competition and over time, the customers are always going to get a better and better deal. EISEN: What about the investors? You know, interesting track record when it comes to historical comparisons on on deals. There's Albertsons Safeway, that faced a number of issues, Albertsons tried to go public a number of times. The Amazon Whole Foods deal wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. They only have 3% market share. Everyone was scared they were going to take over the whole the whole the whole sector. So how can you ensure long term that this this one is right? MCMULLEN: Yeah, if you look for us, and you know year, several years ago, we merged with Fred Meyer and Fred Meyer has been an awesome merger and if you look at some of the things that Fred Meyer had with the marketplace store and that, we've been able to scale it across all Kroger. If you look at Harris Teeter would be another example and on their fresh areas and on their online business, we were able to scale that across Kroger. So we have a great track record of merging with companies and I call them reverse synergies in terms of things that they do awesome and bring it into the whole company and what we find is when we merge with companies. Everybody can learn from each other and how do you get the best of both and we have a strong track record of being able to do that with several previous mergers and expect to do the same with Albertsons because they have great talent, great leadership, and they do some things amazingly well and we'll be able to share those ideas and take it even to the next level for the customers and our associates. EISEN: Well, we know it's not set to close till 2024 so hopefully we'll have a lot of time between now and then to talk about how the integration is going but for now, Rodney, thanks for joining me on the big deal announcement. MCMULLEN: Thank you, appreciate it......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 17th, 2022

Heart Aerospace CEO And United Airlines Ventures President On Electric Airplanes

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Heart Aerospace Chairman, CEO & Founder Anders Forslund and United Airlines Ventures President Mike Leskinen at CNBC’s ESG Impact conference, which took place today, Thursday, October 6th. Video from the interview will be available at Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   […] Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Heart Aerospace Chairman, CEO & Founder Anders Forslund and United Airlines Ventures President Mike Leskinen at CNBC’s ESG Impact conference, which took place today, Thursday, October 6th. Video from the interview will be available at .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   Interview With Heart Aerospace CEO And United Airlines Ventures President PHIL LEBEAU: Hey Tyler. Mike, Anders, thank you for joining us. We've got a lot of things to discuss including the state of electric aircraft, if you will, that are being developed. Where are we Anders in terms of as you were making your moves to develop the aircraft, paint a timeline in terms of how far into the future until we start to see first flight, first commercial flights and then when United is going to be taking passengers? ANDERS FORSLUND: Well, we'll see electric airplanes in the air and in commercial service before the end of this decade. So are actually we will enter into service in 2028, but already in 2026 is when we start test flying these aircrafts. LEBEAU: Mike, when you look at that it's a huge potential opportunity, isn't it? MIKE LESKINEN: It's a it's it's a requirement, right? We have a job as an airline industry to minimize our carbon footprint and eventually by 2050 take our carbon footprint to net zero. And so at United, we're taking a portfolio approach where we're going to invest in electrification on short haul flights. And eventually I think medium haul flights, starting with the ES-30 that we've purchased from Heart Aerospace. And then for the longer haul flight. We're looking at sustainable aviation fuel and continuing growth to grow the feedstock and technology that will increase the global supplies of sustainable aviation. LEBEAU: When you first made the investment, you're looking out. You're making a bet on the future and you're saying, look, we think that this is going to pay off 5, 6, 8, 10 years down the road. Did you have any hesitation in terms of saying not necessarily the money the investment but more, I've got to make some bets. I think this is the right one. But we've got a lot of hurdles to clear. LESKINEN: There's absolutely a lot of hurdles to clear but aerospace development cycles are measured in decades and you have to get started now.  We cannot continue doing and operating our business the way we do. It is it is imperative that we change it and the way we're going to change it is through investing in technology, technology for electric aircraft, technology for sustainable aviation fuel production because existing technology isn't going to isn't going to is going to either cause us to fly less which is an unacceptable alternative or to continue with a carbon footprint which we believe is also equally unacceptable. Other airlines have taken the approach of using offsets and I think offsets solves this much of the world's problem with carbon. And this is actually to truly decarbonize the way we run our business. LEBEAU: Anders, where do things stand in terms of battery technology right now? Because when we talk with automakers who are leading the charge if you will in terms of development of battery technology, the costs while they're coming down, there's such a surge in plans to build EV batteries, which ultimately will be powering your aircraft that it creates the question of is the cost gonna be able to stay as low as you need it to stay? FORSLUND: Yeah, I don't think that's a big problem for us. You know, the utilization rate that we have for our aircraft is tremendous. So with a 30 seater aircraft and you're flying it 10 times a day, it's like you're transporting 300 people every day. So so even if you know, get a few x's on the costs that the automotive industry is paying on the batteries, you still get a very profitable service. LEBEAU: And let's be clear, at least initially, you're talking about replacing what we would refer to as regional aircraft— FORSLUND: Correct. LEBEAU: An aircraft that we would fly let's say from here to Springfield, Illinois or another market like that. How quickly will you be able to recharge these? In other words when because that's a big part of what you're going to need, correct? FORSLUND: Yeah, we're going to be recharging them in under half an hour. And that's tremendous progress being made right now really being fueled by the trucking industry. LESKINEN: And I'll pile on because really half an hour the turn time of an aircraft, generally around that half an hour mark so it doesn't change how we operate and utilize the aircraft. Number of regional aircraft today, you know, the mark you want to hit is 10 to 11 hours of utilization per day and so it really is something we're already achieving. We have to add the charging into that mix which is something we need to work on. LEBEAU: Do you sense that the passenger, will they care let's say let's say everything goes on on schedule, and it's 2028 and your some of your regional flights will be Heart Aerospace aircraft, electric aircraft, will the, will the passenger care at all that it's electric or is it your feeling that we're seeing enough adoption of EVs and electric powered aircraft or whatever it might be or vehicles that people will be okay with it? LESKINEN: Look, what the passenger cares about is the interior of the aircraft, experience they have and to have on time departure, on time arrival. And so I think that the passenger won't see a difference with an electric aircraft what I think they will see as we adopt electric aircraft and I think the cost for 30-seat aircraft, 50-seat aircraft as as the industry evolves is going to be lower cost than a traditional aircraft. And what that means is that small, small city is going to get either service that they didn't have before that they had to drive to an airport or greater frequency of service that's going to allow that customer to business customer from that small town to maybe do a trip in and out in the same day whereas before you couldn't do that with traditional jet powered aircraft. LEBEAU: Anders, you and I were talking earlier as we were coming over to the hangar, you think that there's a real opportunity in just what Mike's talking about in terms of it's an untapped market. Right now people in some of these smaller markets, they're flying not not very frequently, correct? FORSLUND: Yeah, it's like one in every 200 trips that people are flying if you’re looking at a 250-mile trip. So most people are driving these distances, but it used to be different. So, you know, go back to the 1990s, there were hundreds of small aircraft serving a lot of communities that have now lost service. So the reason people stopped flying small planes short routes is because of the jet engine. It's a remarkable technology that's ushered in the jet age, but it's also been something that's holding us back now because it's designed for larger aircraft for for longer routes. So when you bring in an electric motor which is first of all, very mechanically simple, easy to manufacture at scale. It's something that you can get a lot of synergies with the developments happening in the automotive industry. They can start building small planes that have completely different unit economics. LEBEAU: You’re just starting to talk with your suppliers and lock them in for the aircraft. How much has the rush of investment if you will into EVs and the need to develop battery manufacturing facilities, not only here in the United States, but around the world, how much is that changing the conversation? FORSLUND: I mean I think the automotive industry like the example there, you know, with Tesla and all that shows that we, you know, the industry can't be on its heels. And but I think everybody is also recognizing that this is a joint effort. So it's not going to become a startup by themselves and appending it. What an aircraft is it's a Lego kit. It's a it's an effort that's being made by by, you know, an OEM and a bunch of suppliers that are coming together to build this and we're just humbled to see that that the supply chain, the traditional aerospace supply chain is supporting us so much. LEBEAU: You’ve got Heart and you've also got other investments, including eVTOL, with a couple of manufacturers. Similarities in terms of the development of that versus what Anders is doing? LESKINEN: There's one key similarity and that's in the battery technology. So when you think about a jet engine and the utility of that, the utility of it is because kerosene jet, Jet A has is so energy dense by way and volumetrically. And so the critical enabler for whether it be eVTOL flight or fixed wing electric flight is to get that energy density and the cost of that battery pack to a point where it can compete with something like kerosene, it's never going to get to the same energy density of kerosene. But we're on that trajectory and so both fixed wing electric and eVTOL certainly accelerated by what happened in the automobile industry. On eVTOL though Phil, I think we are very involved there and it is my view that eVTOL is going to change the way we live and work. And it's not taking airplanes out of the sky though. It's gonna take cars off the road. It's gonna allow us to live if you live in Manhattan to get out to the airport with predictability in seven, seven and a half minutes from downtown Manhattan out to Newark than you're gonna get maybe if you're flying on a regional flight, maybe you get on Heart ES-30 aircraft and your entire trip will have been carbon free. LEBEAU: Raises the question for eVTOLs, what is the bigger hurdle right now? Is it the technology or is it going to be convincing the regulators and the flying public you're comfortable seeing these fly around suburban areas, urban areas, wherever it might be? LESKINEN: Unquestionably it's the latter. The technology is there today to build these aircrafts, make them safe, make them reliable and cost effective. And I think that technology is only going to evolve and therefore make them quieter, safer, more cost effective. But the adoption, air traffic control, how you integrate that in congested airspace, how you land the aircraft at the airport, how you in, how and where you build the infrastructure to go hop on your eVTOL to get to the airport, make sure it's convenient to offices where you have business executives— LEBEAU: Which brings up the ports and the development of those and whether or not that how that develops. LESKINEN: All that's going to take lots of planning, lots of capital. And so that's why we're as United Airlines we’re there early to get those processes started. LEBEAU: Anders, are you worried at all by the the economy and in terms of what's happened and the rising interest rates in terms of what it might mean for commitments that you're looking for as companies are trying to build new battery manufacturing facilities or secure supplies, whether it's lithium, whatever it might be? Does that worry you right now? FORSLUND: I mean, the economy goes up and down. But I think the overall trend that's going to be happening over the next decade is, you know, the sustainability question is going to be more and more in focus and we have mandates. You know, United has put forth kind of a powerful mandate but we also have governmental mandates and international mandates that is pushing this development. Now obviously we'll we will see a little bit of a hype cycle here and I think what we'll see now is that, you know, there's there's been a lot of startups, a lot of companies and I think there's gonna be a bit of a consolidation where where the winners are a little bit being picked. LEBEAU: How long does that consolidation take? A year, year and a half? And I understand— FORSLUND: I think that's yeah, it's over the next year or two. I think that's what you're gonna be seeing. LEBEAU: Mike, I want to ask you about SAF and the importance of it. The Inflation Reduction Act goes a long ways towards spurring what should be the manufacturing, the supply making of SAF. How quickly does that start to work its way into aircraft? I know it's not going to happen overnight. But are we looking out three, four years before we start to say, okay, we really see the impact of SAF? LESKINEN: Phil it's game changing, and I was gonna speak to interest rates in the capital markets a little bit but let me tie that question together with with the former question. There's headwinds and tailwinds to startups. The higher interest rate environment, the tougher capital market environment is definitely disproportionately impact, impacted companies that are pre revenue. And that just is, you know, common sense that that’s what, that gets hit the hardest, but you've got this huge tailwind of ESG that is pushing. Think about the CORSIA regulation for international air travel and how that's going to accelerate the need for electric aircraft. And most recently, and you mentioned it the Inflation Reduction Act, and there's some critical pieces of Inflation Reduction Act that we're very, very happy about. United was a big proponent of this legislation. One piece is a blenders tax credit that helps boost the economics around sustainable aviation fuel here and now today, and we're excited about that. That was important, but even more critical and exciting about what the IRA brought is what it's doing to clean hydrogen and the production of green hydrogen specifically, and to the point source capture of carbon dioxide, where it makes projects that would not have been profitable now very profitable. We have a portfolio pipeline of sustainable aviation projects at United that's 177 companies deep, and we were pencils down on a number of those because without this legislation, the hurdles were just too far to develop that technology. There are literally dozens of companies that wouldn't have worked that now are viable startups that you'll hear about United Airlines and United Airlines Ventures investing in in the coming months. LEBEAU: Paint a picture in terms of people hear about SAF, it's very limited in use right now. Just a few airports even have it available for for airlines and we’re talking basically Los Angeles and a few other airports. LESKINEN: That's correct. And SAF right now, United Airlines, by the way, has purchased three times more SAF than any other airline in the world. In fact, fully as we look at all the public commitments, we have commitments to buy 40% of the world's supply— LEBEAU: But the key is, you need the supply. LESKINEN: We need the supply— LEBEAU: You have the commitment— LESKINEN: And even that is 1% of overall aviation fuel less than 1% and so the key is how do you increase and diversify the feedstocks that you can produce SAF from. Right now, vast majority of SAF is made in a HEFA process that uses wastes, fats, oils and greases. So really think about french fry grease from McDonald's and getting collected— LEBEAU: Sure. LESKINEN: There's only so much to go around. And so right now what you see global aviation doing is bidding up the price of that scarce resource of french fry grease, and it's not changing, it's not changing the carbon footprint of aviation. We're taking a very different approach at United and that is investing in technology that's gonna allow us to make SAF from woody biomass, to allow us to produce SAF from waste municipal waste, to allow us I think the Holy Grail is a power to liquids approach, which the IRA does a lot to further. And so that's what we're all about at United is how do we make sure that a decade from now and 15 years from now that we have technologies that allow us to produce SAF from numerous sources? LEBEAU: We're going to wrap things up here Anders with a couple of quick questions for you guys. Look into your crystal ball, 2030, how many of your aircraft do you expect are going to be in commercial service around the world? And how much will what we're seeing on the cost and the weight of the batteries that are powering aircraft right now or could power aircraft right now, how much will that change by 2030? FORSLUND: No, I think that that the first of all, we'll have, you know, a few 100 aircraft in a few key markets. So I think in the US, for instance, you will see it and in short hops say in Colorado when you're flying to Aspen from Denver, to be a potential route in the US probably around 100 100 planes. And then what I see about this technology is slowly but steadily increasing. We have a little bit of a lag because sort of when the technology is proven in the lab, it takes a while for it to go right through to mass production and then through certification. But the interesting thing about what we're building as an aircraft is that although the battery technology is something that we will be replacing, as the batteries get to the end of their life, you know, within every two years, we get the chance to upgrade them because the aircraft is going to last for for, you know, 20 years, so the aircraft that you're buying in 2028 is going to be a completely different aircraft by 2048. So it's actually kind of like an appreciating asset for the airlines. LESKINEN: That's really key to United's involvement, by the way, because I think initially the aircraft we're going to want to fly on routes that are 200 miles and less but as that energy density increases, that same aircraft is going to have a range of 250 miles, 300 miles, which is going to give us a lot more utility here connecting our hubs. LEBEAU: Last question for you Mike. Look into your crystal ball, 2030, I know there's you're putting a lot of bets in a lot of different areas especially when it comes to ESG, carbon capture, eVTOLs, Ander’s company. What do you see as the portfolio if you will by 2030, how much has it expanded? LESKINEN: I love it, I think I think we will have fixed wing electric aircraft, the ES-30 in particular, flying regional routes, I think probably O'Hare and Denver being key markets for that initial batch of electric aircraft. I think you're gonna see 100 or so eVTOL aircraft flying routes in our most congested cities so think about San Francisco and New York, flying our customers from Center City to the airport so the trip to the airport will be decarbonized and I think that we will have a a meaningful proportion of our long haul flights powered by SAF, 10%, something in the vicinity of 10% of our longer haul flights being able to be powered by sustainable aviation fuel. LEBEAU: Can't wait to see what happens over the next decade. Mike Leskinen who is the head of investor research or investor relations I should say and and also the venture capital fund at United Airlines, United Ventures. Thank you for joining us. Anders Forslund who is the founder and CEO of Heart Aerospace. Can't wait to see what this aircraft looks like when it when first flight happens in 2026 and then commercial service in 2028. Tyler, I'll send it back to you......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 6th, 2022

Multipolar World Order – Part 1

Multipolar World Order – Part 1 Authored by Iain Davis via, Russia’s war with Ukraine is first and foremost a tragedy for the people of both countries, especially those who live—and die—in the battle zones. The priority for humanity, though apparently not for the political class, is to encourage Moscow and Kyiv to stop killing men, women and children and negotiate a peace deal. Beyond the immediate confines of the conflict, the war is also seen by some as representative of an alleged clash between great powers and, perhaps, between civilisations. All wars are momentous, but the ramifications of Ukrainian war are already global. Consequently, there is a perception that it is the focal point of a confrontation between two distinct models of global governance. The NATO-led alliance of the Western nations continues to push the unipolar, G7, international rules-based order (IRBO). It is opposed, some say, by the Russian and Chinese-led BRICS and the G20-based multipolar world order. In this 3 part series we will explore these issues and consider if it is tenable to place our faith in the emerging multipolar world order. There are very few redeeming features of the unipolar world order, that’s for sure. It is a system that overwhelmingly serves capital and few people other than a “parasite class” of stakeholder capitalist eugenicists. This has led many disaffected Westerners to invest their hopes in the promise of the multipolar world order: Many have increasingly come to terms with the reality that today’s multipolar system led by Russia and China has premised itself upon the defense of international law and national sovereignty as outlined in the UN Charter. [. . .] Putin and Xi Jinping have [. . .] made their choice to stand for win-win cooperation over Hobbesian Zero Sum thinking. [. . .] [T]heir entire strategy is premised upon the UN Charter. If only that were so! Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be the case. But even if it were true, Putin and Xi Jinping basing “their entire strategy” upon the UN Charter, would be cause for concern, not relief. For the globalist forces that see nation-states as squares on the grand chessboard and that regard leaders like Putin, Biden and Xi Jinping as accomplices, the multipolar world order is manna from heaven. They have spent more than a century trying to centralise global power. The power of individual nation-states at least presents the possibility of some decentralisation. The multipolar world order finally ends all national sovereignty and delivers true global governance. World Order We need to distinguish between the ideological concept of “world order” and the reality. This will help us identify where “world order” is an artificially imposed construct. Authoritarian power, wielded over populations, territory and resources, restricted by physical and political geography, dictates the “world order.” The present order is largely the product of hard-nosed geopolitics, but it also reflects the various attempts to impose a global order. The struggle to manage and mitigate the consequences of geopolitics is evident in the history of international relations. For nearly 500 years nation-states have sought to co-exist as sovereign entities. Numerous systems have been devised to seize control of what would otherwise be anarchy. It is very much to the detriment of humanity that anarchy has not been allowed to flourish. In 1648, the two bilateral treaties that formed the Peace of Westphalia concluded the 30 Years War (or Wars). Those negotiated settlements arguably established the precept of the territorial sovereignty within the borders of the nation-state. This reduced, but did not end, the centralised authoritarian power of the Holy Roman Empire (HRE). Britannica notes: The Peace of Westphalia recognized the full territorial sovereignty of the member states of the empire. This isn’t entirely accurate. That so-called “full territorial sovereignty” delineated regional power within Europe and the HRE, but full sovereignty wasn’t established. The Westphalian treaties created hundreds of principalities that were formerly controlled by the central legislature of the HRE, the Diet. These new, effectively federalised principalities still paid taxes to the emperor and, crucially, religious observance remained a matter for the empire to decide. The treaties also consolidated the regional power of the Danish, Swedish, and French states but the Empire itself remained intact and dominant. It is more accurate to say that the Peace of Westphalia somewhat curtailed the authoritarian power of the HRE and defined the physical borders of some nation states. During the 20th century, this led to the popular interpretation of the nation-state as a bulwark against international hegemonic power, despite that never having been entirely true. Consequently, the so-called “Westphalian model” is largely based upon a myth. It represents an idealised version of the world order, suggesting how it could operate rather than describing how it does. Signing of the Peace of Westphalia, in Münster 1648, painting by Gerard Ter Borch If nation-states really were sovereign and if their territorial integrity were genuinely respected, then the Westphalian world order would be pure anarchy. This is the ideal upon which the UN is supposedly founded because, contrary to another ubiquitous popular myth, anarchy does not mean “chaos.” Quite the opposite. Anarchy is exemplified by Article 2.1 of the UN Charter: The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members. The word “anarchy” is an abstraction of the classical Greek “anarkhos,” meaning “rulerless.” This is derived from the privative prefix “an” (without) in conjunction with “arkhos” (leader or ruler). Literally translated, “anarchy” means “without rulers”—what the UN calls “sovereign equality.” A Westphalian world order of sovereign nation-states, each observing the “equality” of all others while adhering to the non-aggression principle, is a system of global, political anarchy. Unfortunately, that is not the way the current UN “world order” functions, nor has there ever been any attempt to impose such an order. What a shame. Within the League of Nations and subsequent UN system of practical “world order,”—a world order allegedly built upon the sovereignty of nations—equality exists in theory only. Through empire, colonialism, neocolonialism—that is, through economic, military, financial and monetary conquest, coupled with the debt obligations imposed upon targeted nations—global powers have always been able to dominate and control lesser ones. National governments, if defined in purely political terms, have never been the only source of authority behind the efforts to construct world order. As revealed by Antony C. Sutton and others, private corporate power has aided national governments in shaping “world order.” Neither Hitler’s rise to power nor the Bolshevik Revolution would have occurred as they did, if at all, without the guidance of the Wall Street financiers. The bankers’ global financial institutions and extensive international espionage networks were instrumental in shifting global political power. These private-sector “partners” of government are the “stakeholders” we constantly hear about today. The most powerful among them are fully engaged in “the game” described by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard. Brzezinski recognised that the continental landmass of Eurasia was the key to genuine global hegemony: This huge, oddly shaped Eurasian chess board—extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok—provides the setting for “the game.” [. . .] [I]f the middle space rebuffs the West, becomes an assertive single entity [. . .] then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. [. . .] That mega-continent is just too large, too populous, culturally too varied, and composed of too many historically ambitious and politically energetic states to be compliant toward even the most economically successful and politically pre-eminent global power. [. . .] Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. [. . .] [I]t would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state. The “unipolar world order” favoured by the Western powers, often referred to as the “international rules-based order” or the “international rules-based system,” is another attempt to impose order. This “unipolar” model enables the US and its European partners to exploit the UN system to claim legitimacy for their games of empire. Through it, the transatlantic alliance has used its economic, military and financial power to try to establish global hegemony. In 2016, Stewart Patrick, writing for the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a foreign policy think tank, published World Order: What, Exactly, are the Rules? He described the post-WWII “international rules-based order” (IRBO): What sets the post-1945 Western order apart is that it was shaped overwhelmingly by a single power [a unipolarity], the United States. Operating within the broader context of strategic bipolarity, it constructed, managed, and defended the regimes of the capitalist world economy. [. . .] In the trade sphere, the hegemon presses for liberalization and maintains an open market; in the monetary sphere, it supplies a freely convertible international currency, manages exchange rates, provides liquidity, and serves as a lender of last resort; and in the financial sphere, it serves as a source of international investment and development. The idea that the aggressive market acquisition of crony capitalism somehow represents the “open markets” of the “capitalist world economy” is risible. It is about as far removed from free market capitalism as it is possible to be. Under crony capitalism, the US dollar, as the preferred global reserve currency, is not “freely convertible.” Exchange rates are manipulated and liquidity is debt for nearly everyone except the lender. “Investment and development” by the hegemon means more profits and control for the hegemon. The notion that a political leader, or anyone for that matter, is entirely bad or good, is puerile. The same consideration can be given to nation-states, political systems or even models of world order. The character of a human being, a nation or a system of global governance is better judged by their or its totality of actions. Whatever we consider to be the source of “good” and “evil,” it exists in all of us at either ends of a spectrum. Some people exhibit extreme levels of psychopathy, which can lead them to commit acts that are judged to be “evil.” But even Hitler, for example, showed physical courage, devotion, compassion for some, and other qualities we might consider “good.” Nation-states and global governance structures, though immensely complex, are formed and led by people. They are influenced by a multitude of forces. Given the added complications of chance and unforeseen events, it is unrealistic to expect any form of “order” to be either entirely good or entirely bad. That being said, if that “order” is iniquitous and causes appreciable harm to people, then it is important to identify to whom that “order” provides advantage. Their potential individual and collective guilt should be investigated. This does not imply that those who benefit are automatically culpable, nor that they are “bad” or “evil,” though they may be, only that they have a conflict of interests in maintaining their “order” despite the harm it causes. Equally, where systemic harm is evident, it is irrational to absolve the actions of the people who lead and benefit from that system without first ruling out their possible guilt. Since WWII, millions of innocents have been murdered by the US, its international allies and its corporate partners, all of whom have thrown their military, economic and financial weight around the world. The Western “parasite class” has sought to assert its IRBO by any means necessary— sanctions, debt slavery or outright slavery, physical, economic or psychological warfare. The grasping desire for more power and control has exposed the very worst of human nature. Repeatedly and ad nauseam. Of course, resistance to this kind of global tyranny is understandable. The question is: Does imposition of the multipolar model offer anything different? Signing the UN Charter – 1948 Oligarchy Most recently, the “unipolar world order” has been embodied by the World Economic Forum’s inappropriately named Great Reset. It is so malignant and forbidding that some consider the emerging “multipolar world order” salvation. They have even heaped praise upon the likely leaders of the new multipolar world: It is [. . .] strength of purpose and character that has defined Putin’s two decades in power. [. . .] Russia is committed to the process of finding solutions to all people benefiting from the future, not just a few thousand holier-than-thou oligarchs. [. . .] Together [Russia and China] told the WEF to stuff the Great Reset back into the hole in which it was conceived. [. . .] Putin told Klaus Schwab and the WEF that their entire idea of the Great Reset is not only doomed to failure but runs counter to everything modern leadership should be pursuing. Sadly, it seems this hope is also misplaced. While Putin did much to rid Russia of the CIA-run, Western-backed oligarchs who were systematically destroying the Russian Federation during the 1990s, they have subsequently been replaced by another band of oligarchs with closer links to the current Russian government. Something we will explore in Part 3. Yes, it is certainly true that the Russian government, led by Putin and his power bloc, has improved the incomes and life opportunities for the majority of Russians. Putin’s government has also significantly reduced chronic poverty in Russia over the last two decades. Wealth in Russia, measured as the market value of financial and non-financial assets, has remained concentrated in the hands of the top 1% of the population. This pooling of wealth among the top percentile is itself stratified and is overwhelmingly held by the top 1% of the 1%. For example, in 2017, 56% of Russian wealth was controlled by 1% of the population. The pseudopandemic of 2020–2022 particularly benefitted Russian billionnaires—as it did the billionaires of every other developed economy. According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2021, wealth inequality in Russia, measured using the Gini coefficient, was 87.8 in 2020. The only other major economy with a greater disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the population was Brazil. Just behind Brazil and Russia on the wealth inequality scale was the US, whose Gini coefficient stood at 85. In terms of wealth concentration however, the situation in Russia was the worst by a considerable margin. In 2020 the top 1% owned 58.2% of Russia’s wealth. This was more than 8 percentage points higher than Brazil’s wealth concentration, and significantly worse than wealth concentration in the US, which stood at 35.2% in 2020. Such disproportionate wealth distribution is conducive to creating and empowering oligarchs. But wealth alone doesn’t determine whether one is an oligarch. Wealth needs to be converted into political power for the term “oligarch” to be applicable. An oligarchy is defined as “a form of government in which supreme power is vested in a small exclusive class.” Members of this dominant class are installed through a variety of mechanisms. The British establishment, and particularly its political class, is dominated by men and women who were educated at Eton, Roedean, Harrow and St. Pauls, etc. This “small exclusive class” arguably constitutes a British oligarchy. The UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has been heralded by some because she is not a graduate of one of these select public schools. Educational privilege aside, though, the use of the word “oligarch” in the West more commonly refers to an internationalist class of globalists whose individual wealth sets them apart and who use that wealth to influence policy decisions. Bill Gates is a prime example of an oligarch. The former advisor to the UK Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, said as much during his testimony to a parliamentary committee on May 2021 (go to 14:02:35). As Cummings put it, Bill Gates and “that kind of network” had directed the UK government’s response to the supposed COVID-19 pandemic. Gates’ immense wealth has bought him direct access to political power beyond national borders. He has no public mandate in either the US or the UK. He is an oligarch—one of the more well known but far from the only one. CFR member David Rothkopf described these people as a “Superclass” with the ability to “influence the lives of millions across borders on a regular basis.” They do this, he said, by using their globalist “networks.” Those networks, as described by Antony C. Sutton, Dominic Cummings and others, act as “the force multiplier in any kind of power structure.” This “small exclusive class” use their wealth to control resources and thus policy. Political decisions, policy, court rulings and more are made at their behest. This point was highlighted in the joint letter sent by the Attorneys General (AGs) of 19 US states to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. The AGs observed that BlackRock was essentially using its investment strategy to pursue a political agenda: The Senators elected by the citizens of this country determine which international agreements have the force of law, not BlackRock. Their letter describes the theoretical model of representative democracy. Representative democracy is not a true democracy—which decentralises political power to the individual citizen—but is rather a system designed to centralise political control and authority. Inevitably, “representative democracy” leads to the consolidation of power in the hands of the so-called “Superclass” described by Rothkopf. There is nothing “super” about them. They are ordinary people who have acquired wealth primarily through conquest, usury, market rigging, political manipulation and slavery. “Parasite class” is a more befitting description. Not only do global investment firms like BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street use their immense resources to steer public policy, but their major shareholders include the very oligarchs who, via their contribution to various think tanks, create the global political agendas that determine policy in the first place. There is no space in this system of alleged “world order” for any genuine democratic oversight. As we shall see in Part 3, the levers of control are exerted to achieve exactly the same effect in Russia and China. Both countries have a gaggle of oligarchs whose objectives are firmly aligned with the WEF’s Great Reset agenda. They too work with their national government “partners” to ensure that they all arrive at the “right” policy decisions. US President Joe Biden, left, and CFR President Richard N. Haass, right. The United Nations’ Model of National Sovereignty Any bloc of nations that bids for dominance within the United Nations is seeking global hegemony. The UN enables global governance and centralises global political power and authority. In so doing, the UN empowers the international oligarchy. As noted previously, Article 2 of the United Nations Charter declares that the UN is “based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” The Charter then goes on to list the numerous ways in which nation-states are not equal. It also clarifies how they are all subservient to the UN Security Council. Despite all the UN’s claims of lofty principles—respect for national sovereignty and for alleged human rights—Article 2 declares that no nation-state can receive any assistance from another as long as the UN Security Council is forcing that nation-state to comply with its edicts. Even non-member states must abide by the Charter, whether they like it or not, by decree of the United Nations. The UN Charter is a paradox. Article 2.7 asserts that “nothing in the Charter” permits the UN to infringe the sovereignty of a nation-state—except when it does so through UN “enforcement measures.” The Charter states, apparently without reason, that all nation-states are “equal.” However, some nation-states are empowered by the Charter to be far more equal than others. While the UN’s General Assembly is supposedly a decision-making forum comprised of “equal” sovereign nations, Article 11 affords the General Assembly only the power to discuss “the general principles of co-operation.” In other words, it has no power to make any significant decisions. Article 12 dictates that the General Assembly can only resolve disputes if instructed to do so by the Security Council. The most important function of the UN, “the maintenance of international peace and security,” can only be dealt with by the Security Council. What the other members of the General Assembly think about the Security Council’s global “security” decisions is a practical irrelevance. Article 23 lays out which nation-states form the Security Council: The Security Council shall consist of fifteen Members of the United Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [Russian Federation], the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly shall elect ten other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council. [. . .] The non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected for a term of two years. The General Assembly is allowed to elect “non-permanent” members to the Security Council based upon criteria stipulated by the Security Council. Currently the “non-permanent” members are Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway and the United Arab Emirates. Article 24 proclaims that the Security Council has “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” and that all other nations agree that “the Security Council acts on their behalf.” The Security Council investigates and defines all alleged threats and recommends the procedures and adjustments for the supposed remedy. The Security Council dictates what further action, such as sanctions or the use of military force, shall be taken against any nation-state it considers to be a problem. Article 27 decrees that at least 9 of the 15 member states must be in agreement for a Security Council resolution to be enforced. All of the 5 permanent members must concur, and each has the power of veto. Any Security Council member, including permanent members, shall be excluded from the vote or use of its veto if they are party to the dispute in question. UN member states, by virtue of agreeing to the Charter, must provide armed forces at the Security Council’s request. In accordance with Article 47, military planning and operational objectives are the sole remit of the permanent Security Council members through their exclusive Military Staff Committee. If the permanent members are interested in the opinion of any other “sovereign” nation, they’ll ask it to provide one. The inequality inherent in the Charter could not be clearer. Article 44 notes that “when the Security Council has decided to use force” its only consultative obligation to the wider UN is to discuss the use of another member state’s armed forces where the Security Council has ordered that nation to fight. For a country that is a current member of the Security Council, use of its armed forces by the Military Staff Committee is a prerequisite for Council membership. The UN Secretary-General, identified as the “chief administrative officer” in the Charter, oversees the UN Secretariat. The Secretariat commissions, investigates and produces the reports that allegedly inform UN decision-making. The Secretariat staff members are appointed by the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General is “appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” Under the UN Charter, then, the Security Council is made king. This arrangement affords the governments of its permanent members—China, France, Russia, the UK and the US—considerable additional authority. There is nothing egalitarian about the UN Charter. The suggestion that the UN Charter constitutes a “defence” of “national sovereignty” is ridiculous. The UN Charter is the embodiment of the centralisation of global power and authority. UN Headquarters New York – Land Donated by the Rockefellers The United Nations’ Global Public-Private Partnership The UN was created, in no small measure, through the efforts of the private sector Rockefeller Foundation (RF). In particular, the RF’s comprehensive financial and operational support for the Economic, Financial and Transit Department (EFTD) of the League of Nations (LoN), and its considerable influence upon the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), made the RF the key player in the transformation of the LoN into the UN. The UN came into being as a result of public-private partnership. Since then, especially with regard to defence, financing, global health care and sustainable development, public-private partnerships have become dominant within the UN system. The UN is no longer an intergovernmental organisation, if it ever was one. It is a global collaboration between governments and a multinational infra-governmental network of private “stakeholders.” In 1998, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the World Economic Forum’s Davos symposium that a “quiet revolution” had occurred in the UN during the 1990s: [T]he United Nations has been transformed since we last met here in Davos. The Organization has undergone a complete overhaul that I have described as a “quiet revolution”. [. . .] [W]e are in a stronger position to work with business and industry. [. . .] The business of the United Nations involves the businesses of the world. [. . .] We also promote private sector development and foreign direct investment. We help countries to join the international trading system and enact business-friendly legislation. In 2005, the World Health Organisation (WHO), a specialised agency of the UN, published a report on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in healthcare titled Connecting for Health. Speaking about how “stakeholders” could introduce ICT healthcare solutions globally, the WHO noted: Governments can create an enabling environment, and invest in equity, access and innovation. The 2015, Adis Ababa Action Agenda conference on “financing for development” clarified the nature of an “enabling environment.” National governments from 193 UN nation-states committed their respective populations to funding public-private partnerships for sustainable development by collectively agreeing to create “an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development;” and “to further strengthen the framework to finance sustainable development.” In 2017, UN General Assembly Resolution 70/224 (A/Res/70/224) compelled UN member states to implement “concrete policies” that “enable” sustainable development. A/Res/70/224 added that the UN: [. . .] reaffirms the strong political commitment to address the challenge of financing and creating an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development [—] particularly with regard to developing partnerships through the provision of greater opportunities to the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society in general. In short, the “enabling environment” is a government, and therefore taxpayer, funding commitment to create markets for the private sector. Over the last few decades, successive Secretary-Generals have overseen the UN’s formal transition into a global public-private partnership (G3P). Nation-states do not have sovereignty over public-private partnerships. Sustainable development formally relegates government to the role of an “enabling” partner within a global network comprised of multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations and other actors. The “other actors” are predominantly the philanthropic foundations of individual billionaires and immensely wealthy family dynasties—that is, oligarchs. Effectively, then, the UN serves the interests of capital. Not only is it a mechanism for the centralisation of global political authority, it is committed to the development of global policy agendas that are “business-friendly.” That means Big Business-friendly. Such agendas may happen to coincide with the best interests of humanity, but where they don’t—which is largely the case—well, that’s just too bad for humanity. Kofi Annan (8 April 1938 – 18 August 2018) Global Governance On the 4th February 2022, a little less then three weeks prior to Russia launching its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping issued an important joint statement: The sides [Russian Federation and Chinese People’s Republic] strongly support the development of international cooperation and exchanges [. . .], actively participating in the relevant global governance process, [. . .] to ensure sustainable global development. [. . .] The international community should actively engage in global governance[.] [. . .] The sides reaffirmed their intention to strengthen foreign policy coordination, pursue true multilateralism, strengthen cooperation on multilateral platforms, defend common interests, support the international and regional balance of power, and improve global governance. [. . .] The sides call on all States [. . .] to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role, promote more democratic international relations, and ensure peace, stability and sustainable development across the world. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) defined “global governance” in its 2014 publication Global Governance and the Global Rules For Development in the Post 2015 Era: Global governance encompasses the totality of institutions, policies, norms, procedures and initiatives through which States and their citizens try to bring more predictability, stability and order to their responses to transnational challenges. Global governance centralises control over the entire sphere of international relations. It inevitably erodes a nation’s ability to set foreign policy. As a theoretical protection against global instability, this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but in practice it neither enhances nor “protects” national sovereignty. Domination of the global governance system by one group of powerful nation-states represents possibly the most dangerous and destabilising force of all. It allows those nations to act with impunity, regardless of any pretensions about honouring alleged “international law.” Global governance also significantly curtails the independence of a nation-state’s domestic policy. For example, the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda 21, with the near-time Agenda 2030 serving as a waypoint, impacts nearly all national domestic policy—even setting the course for most domestic policy—in every country. National electorates’ oversight of this “totality” of UN policies is weak to nonexistent. Global governance renders so-called “representative democracy” little more than a vacuous sound-bite. As the UN is a global public-private partnership (UN-G3P), global governance allows the “multi-stakeholder partnership”—and therefore oligarchs—significant influence over member nation-states’ domestic and foreign policy. Set in this context, the UN-DESA report (see above) provides a frank appraisal of the true nature of UN-G3P global governance: Current approaches to global governance and global rules have led to a greater shrinking of policy space for national Governments [. . . ]; this also impedes the reduction of inequalities within countries. [. . .] Global governance has become a domain with many different players including: multilateral organizations; [. . .] elite multilateral groupings such as the Group of Eight (G8) and the Group of Twenty (G20) [and] different coalitions relevant to specific policy subjects[.] [. . .] Also included are activities of the private sector (e.g., the Global Compact) non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and large philanthropic foundations (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Turner Foundation) and associated global funds to address particular issues[.] [. . .] The representativeness, opportunities for participation, and transparency of many of the main actors are open to question. [. . .] NGOs [. . .] often have governance structures that are not subject to open and democratic accountability. The lack of representativeness, accountability and transparency of corporations is even more important as corporations have more power and are currently promoting multi-stakeholder governance with a leading role for the private sector. [. . .] Currently, it seems that the United Nations has not been able to provide direction in the solution of global governance problems—perhaps lacking appropriate resources or authority, or both. United Nations bodies, with the exception of the Security Council, cannot make binding decisions. A/Res/73/254 declares that the UN Global Compact Office plays a vital role in “strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to partner strategically with the private sector.” It adds: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges that the implementation of sustainable development will depend on the active engagement of both the public and private sectors[.] While the Attorneys General of 19 states might rail against BlackRock for usurping the political authority of US senators, BlackRock is simply exercising its power as valued a “public-private partner” of the US government. Such is the nature of global governance. Given that this system has been constructed over the last 80 years, it’s a bit too late for 19 state AGs to complain about it now. What have they been doing for the last eight decades? The governmental “partners” of the UN-G3P lack “authority” because the UN was created, largely by the Rockefellers, as a public-private partnership. The intergovernmental structure is the partner of the infra-governmental network of private stakeholders. In terms of resources, the power of the private sector “partners” dwarfs that of their government counterparts. Corporate fiefdoms are not limited by national borders. BlackRock alone currently holds $8.5 trillion of assets under management. This is nearly five times the size of the total GDP of UN Security Council permanent member Russia and more than three times the GDP of the UK. So-called sovereign countries are not sovereign over their own central banks nor are they “sovereign” over international financial institutions like the IMF, the New Development Bank (NDB), the World Bank or the Bank for International Settlements. The notion that any nation state or intergovernmental organisation is capable of bringing the global network of private capital to heel is farcical. At the COP26 Conference in Glasgow in 2021, King Charles III—then Prince Charles—prepared the conference to endorse the forthcoming announcement of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). He made it abundantly clear who was in charge and, in keeping with UN objectives, clarified national governments role as “enabling partners”: The scale and scope of the threat we face call for a global systems level solution based on radically transforming our current fossil fuel based economy. [. . .] So ladies and gentleman, my plea today is for countries to come together to create the environment that enables every sector of industry to take the action required. We know this will take trillions, not billions of dollars. [. . .] [W]e need a vast military style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector, with trillions at [its] disposal far beyond global GDP, and with the greatest respect, beyond even the governments of the world’s leaders. It offers the only real prospect of achieving fundamental economic transition. Unless Putin and Xi Jinping intend to completely restructure the United Nations, including all of its institutions and specialised agencies, their objective of protecting “the United Nations-driven international architecture” appears to be nothing more than a bid to cement their status as the nominal leaders of the UN-G3P. As pointed out by UN-DESA, through the UN-G3P, that claim to political authority is extremely limited. Global corporations dominate and are currently further consolidating their global power through “multi-stakeholder governance.” Whether unipolar or multipolar, the so-called “world order” is the system of global governance led by the private sector—the oligarchs. Nation-states, including Russia and China, have already agreed to follow global priorities determined at the global governance level. The question is not which model of the global public-private “world order” we should accept, but rather why we would ever accept any such “world order” at all. This, then, is the context within which we can explore the alleged advantages of a “multipolar world order” led by China, Russia and increasingly India. Is it an attempt, as claimed by some, to reinvigorate the United Nations and create a more just and equitable system of global governance? Or is it merely the next phase in the construction of what many refer to as the “New World Order”? Tyler Durden Sat, 09/24/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2022

How To Manage Debt In Retirement

If not carefully managed, debt can shackle a retiree, but if carefully managed, debt can also be a powerful financial tool. You can make it work in your favor throughout retirement. However, if you want to make the most of debt advantages, and minimize debt advantages, you need to understand exactly how debt works, and […] If not carefully managed, debt can shackle a retiree, but if carefully managed, debt can also be a powerful financial tool. You can make it work in your favor throughout retirement. However, if you want to make the most of debt advantages, and minimize debt advantages, you need to understand exactly how debt works, and how it’s relevant to your retirement. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about the idea of managing your own retirement, don’t worry; managing debt leading up to and during your retirement is easier than you might think. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   The Downsides of Debt Most people understand that it’s beneficial to pay off your debts as early as possible. The sooner you pay off your credit card, the sooner the credit card company will stop annoying you with reminders. However, there are also several potential downsides you need to be aware of: Compound Interest Interest rates on loans generally apply to both the principal and interest you’ve generated in the past. For example, if you take out a $1,000 loan with a 10% interest rate, your first round of interest will put your principal at $1,100. Your next round of compound interest (if you don’t make payments) will be $1,210 – meaning you’ve generated $110 of interest instead of just $100. This may not seem like a big deal, and during the first few rounds of compounding, it’s not. Given enough time, though, compound interest can multiply your debts and put you in a worse financial position. Credit and Financial Restrictions Holding massive amounts of debt can impact your credit and impose you with financial restrictions. The lower your debt to income ratio is, the better, and having too much debt can skew this ratio in the opposite direction, ultimately weakening your credit score and making it harder for you to qualify for certain loans. If you need to purchase a new house and move to a new city, or if you need another type of loan, you may not be able to qualify. Risk You’re personally responsible for any debts you take on as an individual. Depending on the nature of the loan, the lender may be able to seize your assets in order to make up for the outstanding principal. For example, if you’re making $500 monthly payments on a loan, and you fail to make this payment several months in a row, your bank may be legally entitled to take your personal possessions to cover the balance – including your home. Inheritances Keep in mind that some types of debts will transfer to your spouse upon your death. If you’re trying to plan a bright future for yourself, your spouse, and your children as well, you need to think about the long-term impact your debts may have. Understanding these downsides can help you minimize them with your debt management strategies. The Potential Benefits of Debt Most people talk about debt as a negative concept, but there are some potential benefits of debt, if you know how to manage it correctly. Financial Leverage One of the greatest strengths of debt as a financial tool is its ability to confer financial leverage upon you. Essentially, this means being able to invest more money than you currently have available. This is easiest to understand in the context of buying a house, since it’s the norm to take out a loan to buy a house. If you could only buy a house from your own personal savings, you might be severely limited on what type of house you can buy. If you can take out a loan, you might be able to multiply your purchasing power many times over, thereby increasing your potential return on investment. Since you can often buy a house for as little as 5% down, this is one potential strategy for quickly accumulating wealth. Building and Maintaining Credit Having debt is also valuable for building and maintaining credit. As an older adult nearing retirement, you probably already have a sound credit score, and you’ll probably be making fewer decisions for which your credit score is relevant. However, it’s still a good idea to have some kinds of debt and make regular payments to keep your credit score high and keep your accounts active. Access to More Capital Taking on debt also provides you with more access to capital that you can use for other applications. For example, you might have $25,000 to buy a new car, but if you only make a $5,000 down payment and take out a loan for $20,000, you can use the $20,000 you saved to invest in stocks, bonds, or real estate, thus increasing your potential return. This is especially valuable if you want to grow your existing principal. An Inflation Hedge Debt can be a good thing in periods of high price inflation. Inflation essentially weakens the buying power of the dollar (or other currencies). If you owe a lender $100,000, and the value of a dollar sharply declines, you’ll effectively owe your lender less money. This is a risky game to play, since no one can predict exactly how or when inflation will manifest, but if you’re concerned about rates of inflation in the future, this could be a valuable hedge in your portfolio. Good Debts vs. Bad Debts There are good debts and bad debts, based on the proportion of advantages and disadvantages that they generally provide to people. Bad debts are debts that financially hurt you, while good debts can actually benefit you, but how can you tell the difference? Interest Rate Due to the power of compound interest, the interest rate of your debt plays a massive role in whether the debt is good or bad. If you’ve obtained a mortgage recently, you might enjoy an interest rate of less than 4% – which is almost negligible. Conversely, some credit cards have rates of 25% or more, compounded in short intervals. The lower the interest rate is, the better. Terms and Conditions You also need to think about the terms and conditions of the loan. Is the interest rate fixed or variable? Fixed rates tend to be better. Is there a penalty for early payment? If so, you’re incentivized to keep the debt. Is the debt secured or unsecured? What minimum payments are due? Reason for the Debt Some debts are considered good debts, as they allow you to acquire something that gives you a financial advantage. For example, student loans are sometimes considered good debt. They grant you an education that you can use to increase your lifetime earnings many times over. Mortgages are often considered good debt. Owning a house is usually better than renting – and it gives you a way to put your money toward a valuable long term investment. Position in Your Portfolio Good debts can quickly turn into bad debts if they’re improperly managed or if they become a bad fit in your portfolio. It’s important not to become overleveraged – in other words, taking on more debt than you can reasonably handle. Effective Debt Management for Retirees What actionable strategies can you use to manage debt effectively as you begin approaching retirement? Take inventory of your debts before retiring. Preferably long before you retire, you should take a moment to take inventory of all your debts. What are your standing loans? How much of an outstanding principle do you have for each of them? What interest rates apply to those debts and what are your monthly payments? Once you have a better understanding of the fixed income you’re receiving, you’ll be able to put this in a much better context – and organize your debts more effectively. Pay off bad debts as quickly as you can. There’s a good chance that at least some of your debts are bad debts. They have high interest rates and little functionality for your financial future. It’s a good idea to pay off these bad debts as quickly as you can, especially if you can do this before you retire. Doing so will free up more cash for you on a monthly basis and reduce your risk of being overleveraged. Save an emergency fund. Similarly, it’s important to avoid taking on new bad debts in retirement. If your income is $3,000 per month, and this month’s expenses are $3,500, you might be tempted to put that extra $500 on a credit card. However, it’s much better to tackle these unexpected surprises with the help of an emergency fund. Therefore, saving up an emergency fund should be one of your top priorities as a new retiree. You should have at least a few thousand dollars set aside so you can avoid taking on new bad debt. Scrutinize new potential debts carefully. Before taking on any debt, including good debts like home loans, you should scrutinize those debts carefully. Make sure you fully understand all the terms and conditions that apply to these debts and comprehend how this will influence your financial standing and overall portfolio. Never take on more than you can effectively manage. Consider consolidating. If you have many bad debts, or if you’re struggling to pay off your debts consistently, consider consolidating. Loan consolidation isn’t the right strategy for everyone, and there are some ways that it can go wrong. If all you’re doing is grouping your debts together under one umbrella with a lower interest rate and better terms, it’s an absolute win. Consider refinancing. Similarly, you may consider refinancing. If you bought your house or another significant asset many years ago, there’s a chance that today’s interest rates are significantly lower. Refinancing could put you in a much better overall position – and help you free up cash at the same time. Speak to a credit counselor if you’re struggling. If you feel like you’re drowning in debt during retirement and nothing you do is making a dent, consider speaking to a credit counselor or financial advisor directly. They may be able to provide you with resources and guidance. Ask for ways to reduce your debts or negotiate with your creditors. Try not to tap into your retirement savings. For the most part, you should avoid dipping into your retirement savings to pay off your debts. These savings exist to fund your entire retirement, so delving into them prematurely or in excess can backfire. Instead, try to make do with what you have. Or you might choose to establish a new line of income to supplement your debt payment efforts. Be wary of over-leveraging. Finally, be wary of over-leveraging yourself. If your debt to income ratio gets too high, you’ll be in a position of extreme financial risk. Debt in retirement is a complicated financial topic. It has the power to be destructive, but it can also give you many financial advantages. What’s important is that you have a thorough understanding of how debt works. Understand the role of debt in your current investment portfolio and personal finance structure. Learn how to manage debt in a way that secures advantages without weakening your financial position. There’s still more you can learn, but this article should give you an excellent start. Article by Deanna Ritchie, Due About the Author Deanna Ritchie is a financial editor at Due. She has a degree in English Literature. She has written 1000+ articles on getting out of debt and mastering your finances. She has edited over 40,000 articles in her life. She has a passion for helping writers inspire others through their words. Deanna has also been an editor at Entrepreneur Magazine and ReadWrite......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkSep 23rd, 2022

The FBI"s Gestapo Tactics: Hallmarks Of An Authoritarian Regime

The FBI's Gestapo Tactics: Hallmarks Of An Authoritarian Regime Authored by John & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction.” - Harry Truman With every passing day, the United States government borrows yet another leaf from Nazi Germany’s playbook: Secret police. Secret courts. Secret government agencies. Surveillance. Censorship. Intimidation. Harassment. Torture. Brutality. Widespread corruption. Entrapment. Indoctrination. Indefinite detention. These are not tactics used by constitutional republics, where the rule of law and the rights of the citizenry reign supreme. Rather, they are the hallmarks of authoritarian regimes, where secret police control the populace through intimidation, fear and official lawlessness on the part of government agents. That authoritarian danger is now posed by the FBI, whose love affair with totalitarianism began long ago. Indeed, according to the New York Times, the U.S. government so admired the Nazi regime that following the second World War, it secretly and aggressively recruited at least a thousand Nazis, including some of Hitler’s highest henchmen as part of Operation Paperclip. American taxpayers have been paying to keep these ex-Nazis on the U.S. government’s payroll ever since. If the government’s covert, taxpayer-funded employment of Nazis after World War II weren’t bad enough, U.S. government agencies—the FBI, CIA and the military—adopted many of the Third Reich’s well-honed policing tactics, and have used them against American citizens. Indeed, the FBI’s laundry list of crimes against the American people includes surveillance, disinformation, blackmail, entrapment, intimidation tactics, harassment and indoctrination, governmental overreach, abuse, misconduct, trespassing, enabling criminal activity, and damaging private property, and that’s just based on what we know. Compare the FBI’s far-reaching powers to surveil, detain, interrogate, investigate, prosecute, punish, police and generally act as a law unto themselves—powers that have grown since 9/11, transforming the FBI into a mammoth federal policing and surveillance agency that largely operates as a power unto itself, beyond the reach of established laws, court rulings and legislative mandates—to its Nazi counterparts, the Gestapo—and then try to convince yourself that the United States is not a totalitarian police state. Just like the Gestapo, the FBI has vast resources, vast investigatory powers, and vast discretion to determine who is an enemy of the state. Today, the FBI employs more than 35,000 individuals and operates more than 56 field offices in major cities across the U.S., as well as 400 resident agencies in smaller towns, and more than 50 international offices. In addition to their “data campus,” which houses more than 96 million sets of fingerprints from across the United States and elsewhere, the FBI has also built a vast repository of “profiles of tens of thousands of Americans and legal residents who are not accused of any crime. What they have done is appear to be acting suspiciously to a town sheriff, a traffic cop or even a neighbor.” The FBI’s burgeoning databases on Americans are not only being added to and used by local police agencies, but are also being made available to employers for real-time background checks. All of this is made possible by the agency’s nearly unlimited resources (President Biden’s budget projections allocate $10.8 billion for the FBI), the government’s vast arsenal of technology, the interconnectedness of government intelligence agencies, and information sharing through fusion centers—data collecting intelligence agencies spread throughout the country that constantly monitor communications (including those of American citizens), everything from internet activity and web searches to text messages, phone calls and emails. Much like the Gestapo spied on mail and phone calls, FBI agents have carte blanche access to the citizenry’s most personal information. Working through the U.S. Post Office, the FBI has access to every piece of mail that passes through the postal system: more than 160 billion pieces are scanned and recorded annually. Moreover, the agency’s National Security Letters, one of the many illicit powers authorized by the USA Patriot Act, allows the FBI to secretly demand that banks, phone companies, and other businesses provide them with customer information and not disclose those demands to the customer. An internal audit of the agency found that the FBI practice of issuing tens of thousands of NSLs every year for sensitive information such as phone and financial records, often in non-emergency cases, is riddled with widespread constitutional violations. Much like the Gestapo’s sophisticated surveillance programs, the FBI’s spying capabilities can delve into Americans’ most intimate details (and allow local police to do so, as well). In addition to technology (which is shared with police agencies) that allows them to listen in on phone calls, read emails and text messages, and monitor web activities, the FBI’s surveillance boasts an invasive collection of spy tools ranging from Stingray devices that can track the location of cell phones to Triggerfish devices which allow agents to eavesdrop on phone calls.  In one case, the FBI actually managed to remotely reprogram a “suspect’s” wireless internet card so that it would send “real-time cell-site location data to Verizon, which forwarded the data to the FBI.” Law enforcement agencies are also using social media tracking software to monitor Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts. Moreover, secret FBI rules also allow agents to spy on journalists without significant judicial oversight. Much like the Gestapo’s ability to profile based on race and religion, and its assumption of guilt by association, the FBI’s approach to pre-crime allows it to profile Americans based on a broad range of characteristics including race and religion. The agency’s biometric database has grown to massive proportions, the largest in the world, encompassing everything from fingerprints, palm, face and iris scans to DNA, and is being increasingly shared between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in an effort to target potential criminals long before they ever commit a crime. This is what’s known as pre-crime. Yet it’s not just your actions that will get you in trouble. In many cases, it’s also who you know—even minimally—and where your sympathies lie that could land you on a government watch list. Moreover, as the Intercept reports, despite anti-profiling prohibitions, the bureau “claims considerable latitude to use race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion in deciding which people and communities to investigate.” Much like the Gestapo’s power to render anyone an enemy of the state, the FBI has the power to label anyone a domestic terrorist. As part of the government’s so-called ongoing war on terror, the nation’s de facto secret police force has begun using the terms “anti-government,” “extremist” and “terrorist” interchangeably. Moreover, the government continues to add to its growing list of characteristics that can be used to identify an individual (especially anyone who disagrees with the government) as a potential domestic terrorist. For instance, you might be a domestic terrorist in the eyes of the FBI (and its network of snitches) if you: express libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers) exhibit Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership) read survivalist literature, including apocalyptic fictional books show signs of self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies) fear an economic collapse buy gold and barter items subscribe to religious views concerning the book of Revelation voice fears about Big Brother or big government expound about constitutional rights and civil liberties believe in a New World Order conspiracy Much like the Gestapo infiltrated communities in order to spy on the German citizenry, the FBI routinely infiltrates political and religious groups, as well as businesses. As Cora Currier writes for the Intercept: “Using loopholes it has kept secret for years, the FBI can in certain circumstances bypass its own rules in order to send undercover agents or informants into political and religious organizations, as well as schools, clubs, and businesses...” The FBI has even been paying Geek Squad technicians at Best Buy to spy on customers’ computers without a warrant. Just as the Gestapo united and militarized Germany’s police forces into a national police force, America’s police forces have largely been federalized and turned into a national police force. In addition to government programs that provide the nation’s police forces with military equipment and training, the FBI also operates a National Academy that trains thousands of police chiefs every year and indoctrinates them into an agency mindset that advocates the use of surveillance technology and information sharing between local, state, federal, and international agencies. Just as the Gestapo’s secret files on political leaders were used to intimidate and coerce, the FBI’s files on anyone suspected of “anti-government” sentiment have been similarly abused. As countless documents make clear, the FBI has no qualms about using its extensive powers in order to blackmail politicians, spy on celebrities and high-ranking government officials, and intimidate and attempt to discredit dissidents of all stripes. For example, not only did the FBI follow Martin Luther King Jr. and bug his phones and hotel rooms, but agents also sent him anonymous letters urging him to commit suicide and pressured a Massachusetts college into dropping King as its commencement speaker. Just as the Gestapo carried out entrapment operations, the FBI has become a master in the art of entrapment. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks the FBI has not only targeted vulnerable individuals but has also lured or blackmailed them into fake terror plots while actually equipping them with the organization, money, weapons and motivation to carry out the plots—entrapment—and then jailing or deporting them for their so-called terrorist plotting. This is what the FBI characterizes as “forward leaning—preventative—prosecutions.” In addition to creating certain crimes in order to then “solve” them, the FBI also gives certain informants permission to break the law, “including everything from buying and selling illegal drugs to bribing government officials and plotting robberies,” in exchange for their cooperation on other fronts. USA Today estimates that FBI agents have authorized criminals to engage in as many as 15 crimes a day. Some of these informants are getting paid astronomical sums: one particularly unsavory fellow, later arrested for attempting to run over a police officer, was actually paid $85,000 for his help laying the trap for an entrapment scheme. When and if a true history of the FBI is ever written, it will not only track the rise of the American police state but it will also chart the decline of freedom in America, in much the same way that the empowerment of Germany’s secret police tracked with the rise of the Nazi regime. How did the Gestapo become the terror of the Third Reich? It did so by creating a sophisticated surveillance and law enforcement system that relied for its success on the cooperation of the military, the police, the intelligence community, neighborhood watchdogs, government workers for the post office and railroads, ordinary civil servants, and a nation of snitches inclined to report “rumors, deviant behavior, or even just loose talk.” In other words, ordinary citizens working with government agents helped create the monster that became Nazi Germany. Writing for the New York Times, Barry Ewen paints a particularly chilling portrait of how an entire nation becomes complicit in its own downfall by looking the other way: In what may be his most provocative statement, [author Eric A.] Johnson says that ‘‘most Germans may not even have realized until very late in the war, if ever, that they were living in a vile dictatorship.’’ This is not to say that they were unaware of the Holocaust; Johnson demonstrates that millions of Germans must have known at least some of the truth. But, he concludes, ‘‘a tacit Faustian bargain was struck between the regime and the citizenry.’’ The government looked the other way when petty crimes were being committed. Ordinary Germans looked the other way when Jews were being rounded up and murdered; they abetted one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century not through active collaboration but through passivity, denial and indifference. Much like the German people, “we the people” have become passive, polarized, gullible, easily manipulated, and lacking in critical thinking skills.  Distracted by entertainment spectacles, politics and screen devices, we too are complicit, silent partners in creating a police state similar to the terror practiced by former regimes. Had the government tried to ram such a state of affairs down our throats suddenly, it might have had a rebellion on its hands. Instead, the American people have been given the boiling frog treatment, immersed in water that slowly is heated up—degree by degree—so that they’ve fail to notice that they’re being trapped and cooked and killed. “We the people” are in hot water now. The Constitution doesn’t stand a chance against a federalized, globalized standing army of government henchmen protected by legislative, judicial and executive branches that are all on the same side, no matter what political views they subscribe to: suffice it to say, they are not on our side or the side of freedom. From Presidents Clinton to Bush, then Obama to Trump and now Biden, it’s as if we’ve been caught in a time loop, forced to re-live the same thing over and over again: the same assaults on our freedoms, the same disregard for the rule of law, the same subservience to the Deep State, and the same corrupt, self-serving government that exists only to amass power, enrich its shareholders and ensure its continued domination. Can the Fourth Reich happen here? As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, it’s already happening right under our noses. Tyler Durden Wed, 08/24/2022 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 24th, 2022

Futures Flat As Crushing 37bps Curve Inversion Screams Recession

Futures Flat As Crushing 37bps Curve Inversion Screams Recession US futures are mixed on Thursday, first trading in the red, then turning green before moving unchanged, as investors shrugged off growth warnings from the bond market while Taiwan war fears faded further despite drills launched by China overnight. Oil bounced back from the lowest level in almost six months. Contracts on the S&P 500 were flat while Nasdaq futures were modestly green, suggesting the tech-heavy Nasdaq will extend an advance of 19% from its June 16 low on the back of a massive CTA, buyback and retail-driven buying frenzy. In premarket trading, Alibaba gained 3.4% after reporting revenue for the first quarter that beat the average analyst estimate. Adjusted earnings per American depositary receipt also topped expectations. Altice USA shares jumped 5% after the cable television provider reported second-quarter results and announced it received inquiries for its Suddenlink assets. US-listed Chinese tech stocks including, Pinduoduo and Baidu rise in premarket trading Thursday as Alibaba shares jump 3.9% after reporting better-than-expected revenue in the first quarter. Here are some other notable premarket movers: AMTD Idea (AMTD) shares slump 11.5% putting the Hong-Kong based financial services firm on track to slump for a second straight day after a wild 237% jump earlier this week. Eli Lilly (LLY) falls 2% after the company cut its adjusted earnings per share forecast for the full year. Equinox Gold Corp. (EQX) slides 2.5% after reporting second quarter results that missed consensus analyst estimates for revenue and posted a loss per share, and announced a CEO change. Fastly Inc. (FSLY) shares are down 7% after the infrastructure software company reported second quarter revenue that beat expectations. Gannett Co. Inc. (GCI) shares plunge 5% after the company lowered its full-year revenue and Ebitda outlook, citing “current economic conditions.”. Kohl’s Corp. (KSS) was downgraded to market perform from outperform at Cowen, with analyst Oliver Chen saying a “weakening and inflationary consumer backdrop” could drive EPS downside. Shares decline 3%. Pacific Biosciences (PACB) 2Q results look broadly in line but guidance has been cut significantly, albeit this is not a major surprise, analysts say. Shares down 4% in US premarket trading. Revolve Group Inc. (RVLV) shares are down 13% after the e-commerce fashion company reported quarterly net sales and earnings per share that fell short of analysts’ expectations. Skillz (SKLZ) shares tumble 11.6% after the mobile games platform operator cut its full-year guidance for revenue, with Citi noting that revenue and user metrics disappointed. Under Armour (UAA) is downgraded to neutral from outperform at Baird, which says its view of the athletic-wear retailer’s near-term prospects has “deteriorated materially” over the past two quarters, and faces further pressure from an uncertain macroeconomic environment. The stock declines 0.5% in premarkettrading. Yellow Corp. (YELL) shares jump 37% after the logistics company reported earnings per share for the second quarter that beat the average analyst estimate. So far US stocks have proven resilient to heightened bond market anxiety and an inverted Treasury yield curve flashing warnings on economic risks, as the S&P 500 climbs back toward the highest level in two months ignoring the screaming recession warning from the 2s10s curve which is now 37bps inverted. But a global wave of monetary tightening risks upending those gains. The Bank of England unleashed its first half-point hike since 1995 in an effort to control inflation, joining some 70 other institutions around the world moving rates up in outsized steps. “There’s an intense tug-of-war happening in the economy and markets,” said Dan Suzuki, deputy chief investment officer at Richard Bernstein Advisors. “On one side, you have a narrative that reasonable growth is going to support continued inflation pressure and keep the Fed hiking. The other narrative is that slowing growth is going to ease inflation and allow the Fed to stop hiking.” Meanwhile, US-China tension remains among the uncertainties clouding the outlook. Taiwan braced for the Chinese military to start firing in exercises being held around the island in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit. Here are the latest headlines surrounding Taiwan/Pelosi: China's Taiwan Affairs Office said the Taiwan issue is not a regional issue but is a China internal affairs issue, while it added that punishment of pro-Taiwan independence diehards and external forces is reasonable and lawful. Taiwan's Defence Ministry said unidentified aircraft which were likely drones, flew above Kinmen Islands on Wednesday night, while the military fired flares to drive away the aircraft, according to Reuters. Taiwan's Defence Ministry said troops will continue to reinforce alertness level and are carrying out daily training as usual, while the military will react appropriately to an enemy situation and safeguard national security and sovereignty, according to Reuters. ASEAN Foreign Ministers are concerned about international and regional volatility and are concerned volatility could lead to a miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts, and unpredictable consequences among major powers, according to Reuters. US House Speaker Pelosi plans to visit an inter-Korean border area jointly controlled by the American-led UN Command and North Korea, according to a South Korean official cited by Reuters. China's PLA has added an additional zone for its military exercise encircling Taiwan starting Thursday, exercises have been extended until Monday at 10:00, via dwnews' Yang citing Taiwan's port authority. Now seven zones around Taiwan. Gains in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index were led by retailers, leisure and technology firms, alongside an advance in shares of Chinese tech companies.  Among individual stock moves, Glencore Plc shares fell as much as 2% as its capital return plans overshadowed solid first-half results. Ubisoft shares surged as much as 21% after Tencent reached out to Ubisoft’s founding Guillemot family and expressed interest in increasing its stake, according to Reuters. Here are the most notable European movers: Rolls-Royce drops as much as 12% in London. Jefferies highlights that 1H adjusted Ebit came in 24% below consensus, is disappointed Civil margin “once stripped of a number of one-offs, remains well below breakeven.” SES shares drop as much as 10%, the most intraday since April 2020, as some analysts raised doubts about a potential combination with Intelsat after the FT reported deal talks between the two companies. Ambu falls as much as 16%, the most intraday since May 6, after the company slashed its organic revenue forecast for the full year and said it will cut about 200 jobs from its global workforce. Lufthansa gains as much as 7.4% after the airline forecast a “significant increase” in earnings in the third quarter compared to the second and provided a clearer outlook for full-year profit, predicting adjusted Ebit of more than EU500m. Next shares climb as much as 3.2% after the UK apparel retailer reported better-than-expected 2Q sales and raised its profit outlook for the year. Adidas shares gain as much as 4.4% after the German sportswear company reported 2Q results that were largely in line with expectations, following last week’s profit warning. Merck KGaA shares rise as much as 1.7% after the German pharmaceutical group’s 2Q report showed stable growth for its Life Science division despite abating Covid-19 tailwinds, with Jefferies saying it sends a “positive message” for the rest of 2022. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks rebounded as easing tensions over Taiwan and overnight gains on the Nasdaq fueled a rally in Chinese tech shares ahead of key earnings reports. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.5%, set for its first gain in three sessions. Alibaba, which is scheduled to release earnings later Thursday, and e-commerce peers Meituan and helped boost the Hang Seng Tech Index as much as 3.4%, most in more than a month. Other benchmarks in Hong Kong and South Korea’s tech-heavy Kosdaq were among the region’s outperformers.  “Hong Kong stock markets are getting re-rated after seeing the risk-off mood due to Taiwan tensions, as there were no military conflicts,” said Xuehua Cui, a China equity analyst at Meritz Securities in Seoul.  US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan after reaffirming US support for the democratically elected government in Taipei. China responded with trade curbs and military drills.  Elsewhere in Asia, the main Philippine index reached its highest since June 10 on foreign inflows. Asia’s key stock benchmark has rebounded from its July low, but its recent recovery has been lagging behind US peers amid a property crisis in China and heightened geopolitical risks. Japanese equities erased earlier gains and slipped as Toyota announced first-quarter earnings that missed estimates and as investors continue to evaluate corporate earnings both domestically and abroad.  The Topix Index was virtually unchanged at 1,930.73 with Toyota Motor leading declines as of market close Tokyo time, while the Nikkei advanced 0.7% to 27,932.20. Toyota Motor shares dropped during market hours as the automaker reported disappointing first quarter earnings and kept its conservative outlook for the current year. Out of 2,170 shares in the index, 1,198 rose and 849 fell, while 123 were unchanged. “Toyota Motor’s financial results confirmed that the impact of high raw material and fuel prices was strong enough to offset the effects of the weak yen,” said Shuji Hosoi, an analyst at Daiwa Securities. “The fact that the company didn’t change its full-year operating income forecast negatively impacted the markets, which had been expecting an upward revision.” India’s Sensex index snapped a six-session rally, dragged by Reliance Industries and leading lenders, on risk-aversion ahead of a monetary-policy announcement on Friday.  The S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.1% to 58,298.80, in Mumbai, after paring decline of as much as 1.3% in the session. The NSE Nifty 50 Index was flat. Both gauges posted early gains and appeared headed for their longest winning streaks since October 2021, but reversed course.  “The sudden drop in indexes is most likely led by ‘basket selling’ from foreign portfolio investors ahead of the central bank’s rate decision on Friday,” said Abhay Agarwal, a fund manager at Piper Serica Advisors. “Stocks have gained for six straight sessions and investors may want to reap gains ahead of a major policy event.” Reliance Industries fell 1.3%, while State Bank of India and Axis Bank led declines among lenders.  Economists expect the Reserve Bank of India to raise rates for a third consecutive time on Friday but remain divided on the level of the hike aimed at fighting inflation and supporting a weakening currency.  Of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 17 rose and 13 fell. Both of India’s equity benchmarks had gained least 5.5% in previous six sessions driven by $1.7 billion of net purchases by foreigners since the end of June amid signs that inflationary pressures are cooling.  Eight of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. declined on Thursday. A measure of telecom stocks was the worst performer among the sectoral measures. In FX,  the dollar consolidated as traders awaited US payrolls data due later in the day for clues on the pace of future Federal Reserve rate hikes. Sterling tumbled after the BOE delivered its biggest rate hike in 27 years, pushing rates up by 50bps, however it also warned of a devastating stagflation, hiking its inflation forecast to 13.3% in October even as it predicted a harrowing 5-quarter long recession. In rates, Treasuries were moderately cheaper across the curve - which continues to invert deeply with the 2s10s now -37bps, the biggest yield curve inversion since 2000 as traders increased wagers on Federal Reserve rate hikes ahead of Friday’s US jobs data - as US stock futures added to Wednesday’s gains.  The US 10-year yield dropping to 2.70% as Federal Reserve officials indicated they were resolute on aggressive hikes to cool inflation, dashing market hopes they were ready to embark on a shallower rate path. Treasuries offered little initial reaction to Bank of England decision to hike rates 50bp in an 8-1 vote while warning of a 5 quarter-long recession. Front-end yields cheaper by ~2bp on the day, flattening 2s10s and 5s30s spreads by ~1.5bp and ~0.5bp; 10-year yields around 2.71% trade cheaper by 5bp vs bunds.  European long-end bonds nudged higher. In the UK, focus is on the Bank of England’s rate decision, with a majority of economists anticipating a 50-basis-point hike. In commodities, oil drifted 0.2% lower to trade at the $90 level as investors weighed weaker US gasoline demand and rising inventories against a token supply increase from OPEC+. Spot gold rises roughly $20 to trade near $1,787/oz. Base metals are mixed; LME lead falls 1.1% while LME zinc gains 1.2%. Bitcoin slips back below the USD 23k mark but remains in relative proximity to the level in a tight range. Looking to the day ahead now and we have US June trade balance and Initial Jobless Claims, Germany June factory orders, July construction PMI, UK July new car registrations, construction PMI, Canada June building permits and international merchandise trade. Earnings will include Alibaba, Eli Lilly, Toyota, ICE, ConocoPhillips, Bayer, Glencore, Cigna, Rolls-Royce, adidas, Cheniere, DBS, Apollo, Lyft, Expedia, Deutsche Lufthansa, Warner Bros Discovery, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, DoorDash, Atlassian, Amgen, Block, EOG, Kellogg and AMC. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 4,153.75 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 439.32 MXAP up 0.4% to 159.68 MXAPJ up 0.6% to 521.36 Nikkei up 0.7% to 27,932.20 Topix little changed at 1,930.73 Hang Seng Index up 2.1% to 20,174.04 Shanghai Composite up 0.8% to 3,189.04 Sensex down 0.6% to 57,993.23 Australia S&P/ASX 200 little changed at 6,974.93 Kospi up 0.5% to 2,473.11 German 10Y yield little changed at 0.89% Euro up 0.1% to $1.0178 Brent Futures little changed at $96.78/bbl Brent Futures little changed at $96.75/bbl Gold spot up 0.4% to $1,773.19 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.13% to 106.37 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg China’s military fired missiles into the sea on Thursday in live-fire military exercises around the island in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit, even as Taipei played down the impact on flights and shipping. The Bank of England on Thursday is expected to push through the biggest interest-rate increase in 27 years despite growing risks of a recession. European stocks edged higher on Thursday as investors continued to weigh the path of corporate earnings, while attention turned to the Bank of England’s policy decision later in the day. The dollar is close to a 20-year high, despite talk of its inevitable demise. While reluctant to add another article that ends up in traders’ trash cans, current pricing is extreme. Asia’s emerging economies are drawing on large foreign exchange reserves to help prop up their currencies rather than going all-out with interest-rate hikes. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks were firmer as the positive momentum rolled over from global peers. ASX 200 was kept afloat by tech after similar outperformance of the sector stateside. Nikkei 225 briefly reclaimed the 28k level amid recent JPY weakness and as the earnings deluge continued. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp conformed to the heightened risk appetite with firm gains in tech including Alibaba ahead of its earnings and with Hong Kong set to provide HKD 2k in consumption vouchers from Sunday. Top Asian News   China’s Yiwu city will conduct mass testing and China's Sanya city is on lockdown amid a COVID flare-up, according to state media. China Cancels Japan Meeting Over G-7 Criticism of Taiwan Drills SoftBank Raises $22 Billion Through Alibaba Derivatives: FT China State-Backed Builder’s Dollar Bonds Slump as Worries Mount Tiger Global Fund Halves Stake in India Food Platform Zomato Additional Share Sales Break Asia’s Usual Summer Lull: ECM Watch Li Ka-shing’s CK to Sell AMTD Stake After Unit Soars 14,000% European bourses are firmer across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.9%, with the general tone constructive though the FTSE 100 lags pre-BoE amid GBP strength. Stateside, US futures have lifted from initial rangebound action, ES +0.3%, with specific newsflow limited pre-data/Fed speak Top European News Next Raises Profit Outlook as Hot Spell Spurs Fashion Buying French Tech Startup Back Market Said to Start Early IPO Prep Goldman, Bernstein Strategists Say Stocks Rally Can Fizzle Out European Retailers Outperform, Fueled by Zalando Relief Rally Czech Finance Minister Attending Central Bank’s Rate Meeting Credit Agricole’s Investment Bank Drives Earnings Beat FX DXY remains subdued in early European trade following a relatively contained APAC session; fresh session lows are seen heading into the US entrance. GBP/USD and EUR/USD are currently buoyed, but seemingly more as a function of the Dollar with the former gearing up for the BoE. A mixed session thus far for the non-US Dollars, with the Antipodeans leading the charge whilst the Loonie remained suppressed by crude prices. JPY resides as the current G10 laggard with recent Fed rhetoric fuelling a retracement of last week’s USD/JPY downside. Fixed Income Core consolidation after recent rampant upward move, knife-edge BoE looms; Bund Sep'22 towards mid-point of a +100 tick range. USTs are following suit with the yield curve flattening modestly but generally quite contained ahead of Mester (2022 voter, Hawk) who has provided commentary recently. Pre-BoE Gilts are supported, but in narrower parameters than EGB peers, as participants look for clarity on the 25/50bp debate as pricing implies a 90% chance of 50bp and circa. 150bp total by end-2022. Commodities Crude consolidates and moves with broader sentiment post-OPEC & pre-JCPOA. Currently, benchmarks are firmer by circa. USD 1.00bbl and towards the top-end of relatively/comparably narrow ranges. Saudi Arabia OSPs (Sep) vs Oman/Dubai average: Arab Light to Asia at USD +9.80/bbl (exp. 9.80-11.10/bbl), according to Reuters sources. Spot gold is bid and benefitting from a USD pullback that has sent the yellow-metal above the 50-DMA at best; base metals somewhat mixed. US Event Calendar 07:30: July Challenger Job Cuts YoY, prior 58.8% 08:30: June Trade Balance, est. -$80b, prior -$85.5b 08:30: July Initial Jobless Claims, est. 260,000, prior 256,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.38m, prior 1.36m DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap One thing we can say for sure is that August hasn’t been dull so far and we’ve only had three days. This is all before the biggest BoE hike for 27 years (50bps) likely today, and then US payrolls tomorrow. Indeed, there have been some remarkable ranges in treasuries so far in the three days of August. In just over 24 hours from mid-afternoon London time on Tuesday, 2yr US yields moved from 2.83% to 3.18%, 5yrs from 2.58% to 2.96% and 10yrs from 2.52% to 2.83%. These all marked the high points as the three closed at 3.07% (+1.4bps on the day), 2.83% (-2.4bps) and 2.71% (-4.5bps) respectively, 11bps to 13bps off their intra-day highs immediately after a strong US services ISM yesterday. This led to a big curve flattening as 2s10s closed c.6bps lower at -36bps. This morning in Asia, treasury yields are pretty much unchanged. If that wasn’t enough, the Nasdaq 100 (+2.73%) surged to finish the day at a level last seen on May 4th leaving a strong S&P 500 (+1.59%) slightly behind. The narratives at the moment are struggling to be consistent though as equities have recently rallied on weaker growth that has been seen as helping to limit how far the Fed can hike. However yesterday equities rallied on stronger economic data regardless of the potential Fed impact. Discretionary (+2.52%), IT (+2.69%) and communications stocks (+2.48%) were the major drivers of the S&P. The broad rally lifted 79% of benchmark’s members with energy (-2.97%) being the only sector to close in the red as oil plummeted. Speaking of which, although the OPEC+ agreed to increase its September output by 100k bpd, way below the July and August increases north of 600k, crude’s short-lived almost +3% gain unwound fairly quickly, with both WTI (-3.87%) and Brent (-3.60%) weaker on lower US gasoline demand as consumers seem to be driving less. Oil is very slightly higher in Asia. In terms of earnings, Moderna (+16%), PayPal (+9.25%) and CVS (+6.3%) were among top performers in the S&P 500 after a combination of upbeat results and perhaps more importantly buy back announcements. Another interesting snippet from this earnings season came when Bloomberg reported that Meta is looking for a potential debut in bond markets. News of debt sales by Apple and Intel already came through earlier this week as well, supporting narratives of resilience in corporate debt markets. Dissecting the data, just before the ISM services was released, we got a slight upward revision for the US services PMI (47.3 vs 47.0) but the real surprise was the ISM services index itself. The print showed an unexpected expansion from 55.3 in June to 56.7 last month, the highest since April, while the median Bloomberg estimate stood at 53.5. The employment index also improved to 49.1 from 47.4 and business activity and new orders indicators were the highest since January, while prices paid plunged from 80.1 to 72.3. Another strong reading came from June factory orders that increased +2.0% (vs +1.2% expected), up from May’s revised reading of +1.8% (from +1.6% previously). This data dovetailed with comments from a list of Fed speakers over the last 24 hours, including Bullard, Daly, Barkin and Kashkari, all saying that the central bank is not close to finishing its work and markets shouldn’t expect a quick reversal to cuts. This all supports our view that the US isn’t in recession yet. As we’ve said many times before we think it’s almost inevitable it does go into one within say 12 months but that we still might need the lagged impact of an aggressive (but necessary) series of rate hikes first to get us there. The risks to this view in terms of an earlier recession would probably be due to a sudden self fulfilling loss of confidence as everyone talks about imminent recession risk, or if financial conditions dramatically collapse. To be fair the latter was very worrying by mid-June but we’ve seen a tremendous loosening since. Over to Asia and the strong gains in US equities are echoing in Asia with all the key markets trading higher. As I type, the Hang Seng (+1.78%) is leading the way across the region helped by gains in Chinese technology companies with shares of Alibaba climbing around +5.0% ahead of its earnings results later today. Elsewhere, the Nikkei (+0.54%), and the Kospi (+0.36%) are trading higher in early trade. Over in Mainland China, the Shanghai Composite (+0.15%) and the CSI (+0.40%) are both trading in the green. Outside of Asia, stock futures in the US are pausing for breath with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.10%) and NASDAQ 100 (-0.20%) moving slightly lower. Early morning data showed that Australia’s trade balance swelled to a record high of A$17.67bn in June (v/s A$14.0bn expected) from A$15.97bn in May driven by strong prices of key exports from grains to metals and gold. Elsewhere, although Pelosi left Taiwan yesterday without incident, remember that China will start 4 days of military drills today around the island. So be prepared for headlines to come through. Back to yesterday and European shares rallied but missed the main part of the US climb with the STOXX 600 closing with a +0.51% advance for the day after a steady march higher throughout the session. It was an across-the-board rally led by IT (+2.78%), financials (+1.60%) and discretionary (+1.52%) stocks. The few sectors in the red - utilities (-0.94%), healthcare (-0.92%) and communications (-0.35%) - were left behind by a risk-on mood. Speaking of European utilities, it is a sector that has faced challenges not only amid the Russian gas story but also the extreme heat in Europe. Our European economists cover implications of the drought-driven low water levels for the German economy here. As a reminder, it was an important topic back in 2018 but today’s situation with gas supplies reinforces its effect given coal plants’ reliance on waterways for supplies. Linked in, yesterday’s announcement by Uniper about potentially limiting output at a coal plant in Germany sent gas futures in New York up by almost +10%, with contracts holding on to a +7.71% gain by the close of US markets. Other companies depend on water traffic too and water-intensive industries are likely to get affected as well. Earlier this week EDF has warned about potential further nuclear power cuts as river water, used for plant cooling, becomes too warm. Expect this to be an increasingly pertinent and market-moving issue across industries. Diving back into market movements, the bullish sentiment in European stocks was strong enough to overpower surging yields. In Germany the belly of the curve surged, with 5y yields (+7.6bps) racing ahead of both the front end (+6.9bps) and the 10y (+5.6bps) that was mainly upheld by higher breakevens (+6.1bps). While a similar story was seen in France (OATs +3.4bps), Italy stood out with an across the curve decline in yields. 2s10s still flattened as the 2y yield (-1.5ps) fell by less than the 10y (-4.1bps). We should note that US yields rallied 7-8bps after Europe closed. Central banks and yields will be in focus today as well since today’s BoE’s meeting will likely be top of the list in terms of events for European markets and our UK economists expect the Bank to hike by +50bps (taking the Bank Rate to 1.75%). Their full preview is here. This hike would imply the largest single Bank Rate increase since 1995 and come amid the 9.4% CPI print for June, a 40-year high. They also updated their growth outlook for the country yesterday (link here) and now expect the economy to contract in Q4-22 and Q1-23 in a short and mild technical recession. Gilts behaved similar to other European bond markets yesterday, with the 2y yield (+7.1bps) rising by more than the 10y (+4.4bps) but both lagging the 5y (+9.0bps). Staying with Europe and briefly returning to yesterday’s other data releases, Germany’s exports accelerated to +4.5% in June, way ahead of the +1.0% median estimate on Bloomberg’s and May’s revised +1.3% (from -0.5% previously). Imports came in softer than expected, however, slowing to just +0.2% (+1.3% expected). Elsewhere, Eurozone’s retail sales contracted -3.7% yoy in June, missing estimates of -1.7%. The PPI accelerated to a monthly gain of +1.1% in June relative to the prior +0.5% (revised from +0.7%). To the day ahead now and we have US June trade balance, Germany June factory orders, July construction PMI, UK July new car registrations, construction PMI, Canada June building permits and international merchandise trade. Earnings will include Alibaba, Eli Lilly, Toyota, ICE, ConocoPhillips, Bayer, Glencore, Cigna, Rolls-Royce, adidas, Cheniere, DBS, Apollo, Lyft, Expedia, Deutsche Lufthansa, Warner Bros Discovery, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, DoorDash, Atlassian, Amgen, Block, EOG, Kellogg and AMC. Tyler Durden Thu, 08/04/2022 - 08:25.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 4th, 2022

Escobar: The Power Troika Trumps Biden In West Asia

Escobar: The Power Troika Trumps Biden In West Asia Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Cradle, The presidents of Russia, Iran, and Turkey convened to discuss critical issues pertaining to West Asia, with the illegal US occupation of Syria a key talking point. Oil and gas, wheat and grains, missiles and drones – the hottest topics in global geopolitics today – were all on the agenda in Tehran this week. The Tehran summit uniting Iran-Russia-Turkey was a fascinating affair in more ways than one. Ostensibly about the Astana peace process in Syria, launched in 2017, the summit joint statement duly noted that Iran, Russia and (recently rebranded) Turkiye will continue, “cooperating to eliminate terrorists” in Syria and “won’t accept new facts in Syria in the name of defeating terrorism.” That’s a wholesale rejection of the “war on terror” exceptionalist unipolarity that once ruled West Asia. Standing up to the global sheriff Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his own speech, was even more explicit. He stressed “specific steps to promote the intra-Syrian inclusive political dialogue” and most of called a spade a spade: “The western states led by the US are strongly encouraging separatist sentiment in some areas of the country and plundering its natural resources with a view to ultimately pulling the Syrian state apart.” So there will be “extra steps in our trilateral format” aimed at “stabilizing the situation in those areas” and crucially, “returning control to the legitimate government of Syria.” For better or for worse, the days of imperial plunder will be over. The bilateral meetings on the summit’s sidelines – Putin/Raisi and Putin/Erdogan – were even more intriguing. Context is key here: the Tehran gathering took place after Putin’s visit to Turkmenistan in late June for the 6th Caspian summit, where all the littoral nations, Iran included, were present, and after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s travels in Algeria, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, where he met all his Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts. Moscow’s moment So we see Russian diplomacy carefully weaving its geopolitical tapestry from West Asia to Central Asia – with everybody and his neighbor eager to talk and to listen to Moscow. As it stands, the Russia-Turkey entente cordiale tends to lean towards conflict management, and is strong on trade relations. Iran-Russia is a completely different ball game: much more of a strategic partnership. So it’s hardly a coincidence that the National Oil Company of Iran (NIOC), timed to the Tehran summit, announced the signing of a $40 billion strategic cooperation agreement with Russia’s Gazprom. That’s the largest foreign investment in the history of Iran’s energy industry – badly needed since the early 2000s. Seven deals worth $4 billion apply to the development of oil fields; others focus on the construction of new export gas pipelines and LNG projects. Kremlin advisor Yury Ushakov deliciously leaked that Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in their private meeting, “discussed conceptual issues.” Translation: he means grand strategy, as in the evolving, complex process of Eurasia integration, in which the three key nodes are Russia, Iran and China, now intensifying their interconnection. The Russia-Iran strategic partnership largely mirrors the key points of the China-Iran strategic partnership. Iran says ‘no’ to NATO Khamenei, on NATO, did tell it like it is: “If the road is open for NATO, then the organization sees no borders. If it had not been stopped in Ukraine, then after a while the alliance would have started a war under the pretext of Crimea.” There were no leaks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) impasse between the US and Iran – but it’s clear, based on the recent negotiations in Vienna, that Moscow will not interfere with Tehran’s nuclear decisions. Not only are Tehran-Moscow-Beijing fully aware of who’s preventing the JCPOA from getting back on track, they also see how this counter-productive stalling process prevents the collective west from badly needed access to Iranian oil. Then there’s the weapons front. Iran is one of the world’s leaders in drone production: Pelican, Arash, Homa, Chamrosh, Jubin, Ababil, Bavar, recon drones, attack drones, even kamikaze drones, cheap and effective, mostly deployed from naval platforms in West Asia. Tehran’s official position is not to supply weapons to nations at war – which would in principle invalidate dodgy US “intel” on their supply to Russia in Ukraine. Yet that could always happen under the radar, considering that Tehran is very much interested in buying Russian aerial defense systems and state of the art fighter jets. After the end of the UN Security Council-enforced embargo, Russia can sell whatever conventional weapons to Iran it sees fit. Russian military analysts are fascinated by the conclusions Iranians reached when it was established they would stand no chance against a NATO armada; essentially they bet on pro-level guerrilla war (a lesson learned from Afghanistan). In Syria, Iraq and Yemen they deployed trainers to guide villagers in their fight against Salafi-jihadis; produced tens of thousands of large-caliber sniper rifles, ATGMs, and thermals; and of course perfected their drone assembly lines (with excellent cameras to surveil US positions). Not to mention that simultaneously the Iranians were building quite capable long-range missiles. No wonder Russian military analysts estimate there’s much to learn tactically from the Iranians – and not only on the drone front. The Putin-Sultan ballet Now to the Putin-Erdogan get together – always an attention-grabbing geopolitical ballet, especially considering the Sultan has not yet decided to hop on the Eurasia integration high-speed train. Putin diplomatically “expressed gratitude” for the discussions on food and grain issues, while reiterating that “not all issues on the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports are resolved, but progress is made.” Putin was referring to Turkiye’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who earlier this week assured that setting up an operations center in Istanbul, establishing joint controls at the port exit and arrival points, and carefully monitoring the navigational safety on the transfer routes are issues that may be solved in the next few days. Apparently Putin-Erdogan also discussed Nagorno-Karabakh (no details). What a few leaks certainly did not reveal is that on Syria, for all practical purposes, the situation is blocked. That favors Russia – whose main priority as it stands is Donbass. Wily Erdogan knows it – and that’s why he may have tried to extract some “concessions” on “the Kurdish question” and Nagorno-Karabakh. Whatever Putin, Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev may really think about Erdogan, they certainly evaluate how priceless is to cultivate such an erratic partner capable of driving the collective west totally bonkers. Istanbul this summer has been turned into a sort of Third Rome, at least for expelled-from-Europe Russian tourists: they are everywhere. Yet the most crucial geoeconomic development these past few months is that the western-provoked collapse of trade/supply lines along the borders between Russia and the EU – from the Baltic to the Black Sea – finally highlighted the wisdom and economic sense of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INTSC): a major Russia-Iran-India geopolitical and geoeconomic integration success. When Moscow talks to Kiev, it talks via Istanbul. NATO, as the Global South well knows, does not do diplomacy. So any possibility of dialogue between Russians and a few educated westerners takes place in Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the UAE. West Asia as well as the Caucasus, incidentally, did not subscribe to the western sanctions hysteria against Russia. Say farewell to the ‘teleprompter guy’ Now compare all of the above with the recent visit to the region by the so-called “leader of the free world,” who merrily alternates between shaking hands with invisible people to reading – literally – whatever is scrolling on a teleprompter. We’re talking of US President Joe Biden, of course. Fact: Biden threatened Iran with military strikes and as a mere supplicant, begged the Saudis to pump more oil to offset the “turbulence” in the global energy markets caused by the collective west’s sanction hysteria. Context: the glaring absence of any vision or anything even resembling a draft of foreign policy plan for West Asia. So oil prices duly jumped upward after Biden’s trip: Brent crude rose more than four percent to $105 a barrel, bringing prices back to above $100 after a lull of several months. The heart of the matter is that if OPEC or OPEC+ (which includes Russia) ever decide to increase their oil supplies, they will do it based on their internal deliberations, and not under exceptionalist pressure. As for the imperial threat of military strikes on Iran, it qualifies as pure dementia. The whole Persian Gulf – not to mention the whole of West Asia – knows that were US/Israel to attack Iran, fierce retaliation would simply evaporate with the region’s energy production, with apocalyptic consequences including the collapse of trillions of dollars in derivatives. Biden then had the gall to say, “We have made progress in strengthening our relations with the Gulf states. We will not leave a vacuum for Russia and China to fill in the Middle East”. Well, in real life it is the “indispensable nation” that has self-morphed into a vacuum. Only bought-and-paid for Arab vassals – most of them monarchs – believe in the building of an “Arab NATO” (copyright Jordan’s King Abdullah) to take on Iran. Russia and China are already all over the place in West Asia and beyond. De-Dollarization, not just Eurasian integration It’s not only the new logistical corridor from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Astrakhan and then, via the Caspian, to Enzeli in Iran and on to Mumbai that is shaking things up. It’s about increasing bilateral trade that bypasses the US dollar. It’s about BRICS+, which Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are dying to be part of. It’s about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which formally accepts Iran as a full member this coming September (and soon Belarus as well). It’s about BRICS+, the SCO, China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) interconnected in their path towards a Greater Eurasia Partnership. West Asia may still harbor a small collection of imperial vassals with zero sovereignty who depend on the west’s financial and military ‘assistance,’ but that’s the past. The future is now – with Top Three BRICS (Russia, India, China) slowly but surely coordinating their overlapping strategies across West Asia, with Iran involved in all of them. And then there’s the Big Global Picture: whatever the circumvolutions and silly schemes of the US-concocted “oil price cap” variety, the fact is that Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – the top powerful energy-producing nations – are absolutely in sync: on Russia, on the collective west, and on the needs of a real multipolar world. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/22/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 23rd, 2022

Victor Davis Hanson: The Great Regression

Victor Davis Hanson: The Great Regression Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via, “The following is an excerpt from Michael Walsh’s forthcoming book, Against the Great Reset: Eighteen Theses Contra the New World Order, which will be published by Bombardier Books and be available October 18, 2022. Walsh has gathered a series of essays from among eighteen of the most eminent thinkers, writers, and journalists—including the American Mind’s own James Poulos, as well as Claremont Senior Fellows Michael Anton and the late Angelo Codevilla—to provide the first major salvo in the intellectual resistance to the sweeping restructuring of the western world by globalist elites.” The Great Reset was first concocted at the World Economic Forum in Davos by its founder Klaus Schwab as a way to assemble together global success stories like himself. His idea apparently was that grandees who have done well for themselves could do even better for the rest of us—if these anointed could just be unbound and given enough power and authority to craft rules for nearly eight billion of the planet’s ignorant. A word of caution is needed about the pretentious and supposedly benign signature title of the Great Reset project. Assume the worst when the adjective “great” appears in connection with envisioned fundamental, government-driven, or global political changes. What was similar between Lyndon Johnson’s massively expensive but failed “Great Society” and Mao’s genocidal “Great Leap Forward” was the idea of a top-down, centrally planned schema, cooked up by elites without any firsthand knowledge, or even worry, how it would affect the middle classes and poor. So often, the adjective “great” is a code word of supposed enlightened planners for radical attempts at reconstruction of a society that must be either misled or forced to accept a complete overhaul. When “great” is applied to a proposed transnational comprehensive revolution, we should also equate it with near religious zealotry. “The Great Reset,” after all, in all its green and “woke” glory, with all of its credentialed and “expert” devotees, is still a faith-based rather than scientific effort. Its spiritual predecessor was perhaps the eighteenth-century “Great Awakening” of Protestant evangelicalism that swept the eastern seaboard of colonial America in reaction to the secularism of the Enlightenment. But this time around the frenzy is fueled more by agnostics who worship secular progressive totems such as Al Gore or Greta Thunberg. Given the Davos elite’s cosmic ambitions, “great” also conjures up a messianic reference to God’s “Great Plan” that should from on high reorder earthly life under a few trusted religious authorities. It recalls the notion of Alexander the “Great” of a brotherhood of man, which supposedly was to fuse conquered peoples into one vast and enlightened east-west, Persian-Hellenistic empire—albeit after, rather than before, eastern tribes were conquered, and sometimes slaughtered, in efforts to achieve a common, centrally planned purpose. To reassure a shared brighter post-Covid-19 path ahead, Schwab drops most of the familiar globalist names that resonate power, money, seriousness, and wisdom. And the Great Resetters are now quite familiar: the world’s third or fourth richest man, Bill Gates, coming off his denials of palling around with the late Jeffrey Epstein; Jack Ma, the Chinese multibillionaire and Alibaba CEO apparently now “forcibly disappeared” by the Chinese communist government for too many candid speeches; the septuagenarian Prince Charles whose long anticipated monumental accomplishments apparently must still await his ascension to the British throne; the polymath Dr. Anthony Fauci who has laced his 2020 “noble lie” assessments of wearing and not wearing masks or achieving and not achieving herd immunity in terms of climate change, race, Chinese cooperation, and global progressive expertise; John Kerry, one of the multilateralist architects of the Paris Climate Accord and Iran Deal; and the usual rotating leaders of the U.N., IMF, World Bank, and the European Central Bank. In its post-Covid-19 global comprehensiveness, the Great Reset has ambitions to be our greatest “woke” project yet. On examination, it is a kitchen-sink mishmash of agendas that incorporate the U.N.’s long stale “Sustainable Development” plan (“Agenda 21”), the Green New Deal, tidbits of Black Lives Matter sloganeering, critical race theory, “stakeholder” capitalism that often champions ESG, or forced corporate embrace of “environmental and social governance” over shareholder profitability, open-borders rhetoric, and boutique redistributionism dumbed down from Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Reset offers us a global Fabian socialist future, repackaged as a European Union-like top-down diktat. But above all, the agenda incorporates the pop insights of various half-educated corporate billionaires. All now find themselves in a secure enough position to dabble with Trotskyite ideas—to be foisted upon others not so fortunate and lacking their own exemptions from the toxicity of the elite’s theories. The same linguistic suspicions hold true of the use of the noun “Reset.” It assumes a year-zero arrogance that all that came before was flawed. And all that will follow, we are assured, will not be so defective. Such absolutism is reminiscent of former President Barack Obama’s grandiose promise on the very eve of the 2008 election: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America”—a transformation that birthed the Tea Party revolt just two years later, during the 2010 midterm elections, one of the greatest conservative political pushbacks of the past seventy years. We remember that just four months after Obama’s promises of transformation, the romance of fundamental change went international with the idea of a foreign policy “reset” that focused on a new détente with Vladimir Putin. The idea was inaugurated in 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the assumption that Putin’s past territorial aggressions had arisen from an absence of dialogue and ecumenical outreach from the prior “unilateralist” George W. Bush administration. Bush supposedly had wrongly sanctioned Putin for his 2008 miniature war with Georgia that resulted in the Russian absorption of South Ossetia. And the go-it-alone “cowboy” Bush apparently had also unduly polarized Putin and thus wet the ex-KGB operative’s beak for additional irredentist acquisition. The reactive makeover that followed from the Obama-Clinton “reset” was unfortunately an utter failure. Its pompous declarations and talk of “listening” and “outreach” ended in fresh Russian aggressiveness, most notably in the 2014 Russian invasions of both Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Such appeasement created the original seeds for Putin’s eventual spring 2022 catastrophic Russian invasion of most of Ukraine and attack on Kyiv. In addition, Russia earlier in 2013 had reentered the Middle East, on Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2011 invitation, after a three-decade hiatus. Then followed Russia’s informal partnerships with both Iran and China, and Moscow’s much greater and more comprehensive crackdowns on internal dissidents. In all talks of the Great Reset, we should then recall that Vladimir Putin apparently interpreted “reset” as American laxity to be leveraged rather than as magnanimity to be reciprocated. In cruder terms, Americans speaking loudly while carrying a twig was no way to “reset” Putin. The telltale noun “Revolution,” of course, also makes its appearance frequently in Great Reset rhetoric, specifically in connection to Klaus Schwab’s 2017 bestselling book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution. In it, Schwab makes the now familiar argument that the internet, computers, electronic communications, artificial intelligence, and the new global interconnectedness of the prior “Third Revolution” have at last synchronized into wonderful harmony. The supposedly never-before-seen, never-imagined fusion of the paradigms of economic, social, cultural, and political life offers us a once-in-a-lifetime—or, rather, last—chance to exploit them—even if most of us are not sufficiently equipped to appreciate the opportunity. Yet Schwab makes the fundamental error that these new technologies act as independent drivers of the way people behave and think, rather than as accelerants that nonetheless have not changed ancient fixed and predictable human behavior. In Schwab’s way of thinking, imagine that a modern computerized high-tech pump sends forth two thousand gallons of water a minute, and therefore its essence, “water,” is now likewise “new” and different from what emerged for millennia at a rate of a gallon a minute from preindustrial hand pumps. Again, we fools outside the Davos agenda would apparently mistakenly believe that greater volume had not much altered from antiquity water’s molecular structure, chemical properties, and use in the natural world. A glimpse of the idea that Davos-like elites can gather to discuss reset planning in an age of paradigm-changing technology is popular at the national level. A good example is the invitation-only conference on entertainment, technology, finance, and communications held each summer in Idaho at the Sun Valley Resort, hosted by the investment bank of Allen & Company. In 2021, the usual corporate and media globalist suspects showed up, among them Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings, ViacomCBS (now Paramount) chairwoman Shari Redstone, Disney chairman Robert Iger, New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg, GM CEO Mary Barra, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, Discovery CEO David Zaslav, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, and film and television producer Brian Grazer. The premise was Platonic. A meritocracy—chosen by the metrics of either acquired or inherited wealth, influence, celebrity, or a corporation’s ability to influence millions—immune from private bias and guided by reason, should be given latitude to override the dangerous emotions of the masses. So there are plenty of linguistic reasons alone to be suspicious of the grandiose notion of a top-down, international, and fundamental transformation of the way the world is supposed to work… Tyler Durden Tue, 07/05/2022 - 18:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 5th, 2022

Outside-the-Box Ideas in Housing: Buy Back and Rent

Editor’s Note: This is the final part in a three-part series on local innovations focused on affordability and community development. Read part one here and part two here. Often in the housing industry, people get caught looking up. Expecting the next big thing or the solution to long-standing problems to come from a national think-tank,… The post Outside-the-Box Ideas in Housing: Buy Back and Rent appeared first on RISMedia. Editor’s Note: This is the final part in a three-part series on local innovations focused on affordability and community development. Read part one here and part two here. Often in the housing industry, people get caught looking up. Expecting the next big thing or the solution to long-standing problems to come from a national think-tank, a big conglomerate or an established thought leader is not misguided—a lot of world-changing ideas do, of course, originate from these spheres. At the same time, it is easy to miss spectacularly innovative new ideas or approaches simply because they come from elsewhere—from small markets, from outsiders and from different disciplines. As the entire industry buckles under the weight of a long-simmering crisis of both affordability and lack of inventory, it is possible real estate will claw its way back up through methods and approaches already practiced. It is also possible that, high in the upper echelons of the C-suite, experienced executives and academics are concocting the eventual solutions that will address longer-term problems in real estate like the racial homeownership gap, pessimism around affordability, entry-level new home construction and gentrification. But it is also possible these ideas are germinating at the grass-roots level, driven by innovators who have found new ways to view housing unencumbered by the burdens of convention and preconception, drawing on resources or expertise not endemic to industry thinking. With how local real estate is, it seems even more likely that great change might grow from the bottom up rather than top-down. Almost always starting small, these ideas have the chance to grow and spark real and foundation change in how we think about housing: Buy back (and rent) the block Bonita Harrison is a broker living and working in the West Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Like so many who come from tight-knit communities, Harrison says she always has cared deeply about the neighborhood she grew up in, still populated by friends, neighbors and family, and she has worked hard to reinvest there With how hard it is to find affordable housing, and with how undervalued Black neighborhoods remain after decades of bias and redlining, the challenge of finding ways to create new housing attainable by residents of that neighborhood is never easy. In this case, it required banding together with four other like-minded Black real estate professionals from the area to come up with an innovative path to homeownership. “When we talk about wealth creation for the Black community, how does that look?” she asks. “We want to make sure we can retain as many people as we can and ensure that their equity position can grow.” Harrison and the other developers—all experienced brokers owning their own businesses, but working in tandem—came up with a specific way that they could create housing to serve locals. Acquiring a dozen abandoned properties from the local land bank, they designed a three-unit structure that would have similar design elements, all renovated and put together by local Black craftspeople. The idea, Harrison says, is that a neighborhood resident will be able to qualify for a mortgage using supplemental rental income from the other two units, competing with the “gentrifying population” who often quickly snatch up housing and drive up rents and prices. These new buildings will also add two more quality rental units to the neighborhood, with a landlord living in the same building who (ideally) knows them and understands their needs. “The government will come in and demolish the houses that you have, blocks and blocks of vacant lots and dilapidated housing,” she says. “What we’re trying to do is fill those vacant lots with properties so that more of the community can come up…and what that does is increase the market value of those properties and bring equity to our community.” Though this approach—purchasing a property using rental income from another unit—is not a new idea. But having developers who are natural competitors coming together and working hard to keep all the money in their community is unique, according to Harrison. It is especially notable in an area like Woodlawn that is still sunk deep in poverty and neglect, she adds, where morale is low and other developers are not investing. “When you’re of the community like we are, we see the needs,” she says. Before Harrison’s group came together, another more established group had seen success at rehabbing and selling homes to Woodlawn residents. Bill Eager, Vice President of Real Estate Development for national non-profit Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), led a significant push that renovated and sold 44 homes in Woodlawn at affordable prices, when the market was “softer” than it is now. POAH’s efforts, which are likely going to be revived to some degree later this year, Eager says, used a mix of local, federal and state grant monies to fix up distressed properties and sell them to residents. They depended on word-of-mouth and local community groups to get the word out. POAH was also able to offer down payment assistance, though with rising home prices Eager says a revival of the program is going to be difficult. “The biggest obstacle right now is just the sheer cost of developing,” he said. “And construction costs are so high, it’s really hard to bring things in at a level that is kind of affordable for a moderate income household.” POAH has considered $15,000 to $50,000 for closing cost and downpayment assistance, but Eager admitted that might not be enough in the current housing market. “I’m not sure how much help $15,000 is going to be right now, but that’s kind of the range we’ve been thinking about,” he says. Eager says he is aware of the “buy the block” effort by Harrison and the other developers, applauding it even though POAH is not formally involved at this point. That project came together almost spontaneously, with Harrison saying she only knew the other developers informally before this recent collaboration. “We would see each other in Home Depot, we would see each other in passing,” she remembers. An initial conversation helped them all understand how much of an impact they individually had all made on the area, Harrison adds, and after that the need to work together seemed obvious. “If we concentrate our impact, it would make more sense…we made it cohesive, we’re going to go out and spread,” Harrison explains. She describes just how powerful this effort is in changing the trajectory of a neighborhood, raising property values across the board and really changing the attitude, perception and habits of people who live and work there. Designing the buildings with similar aesthetics, and placing them strategically can rapidly accelerate the kind of positive change the developers hope to create, she says. In fact, Harrison says other developers have approached her since the project was announced, and there is a “Phase 2” in the works which includes the nearby commercial corridor—something that will become very important as more people become upwardly mobile in the area. She says they have also been in touch with local government officials, with the most urgent need being “affordable capital” to expand the effort. “We are okay with doing it ourselves, but give us some access to capital that we can utilize, makes sense for the project,” Harrison asks. But it is really that sense of community, Harrison emphasizes, that makes this project both unique and attainable—something she hopes is replicated in other areas of the country by folks who come to understand that cooperation and understanding can truly make a difference for a neighborhood. “We’re going through our network and saying, ‘Hey, let’s do this ourselves,’” she says. ‘We really want to be able to do it ourselves, just because of what it means for us, and what it means for the culture and the community.” The post Outside-the-Box Ideas in Housing: Buy Back and Rent appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaJun 10th, 2022

Warner Bros Discovery CEO Explains Decision To Shut Down CNN+

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Warner Bros Discovery Inc (NASDAQ:WBD) CEO David Zaslav on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F 6AM – 9AM ET) today, Wednesday, May 18th. Following is a link to video on Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav Explains Decision To Shut Down CNN+ JOE KERNEN: The newly […] Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC exclusive interview with Warner Bros Discovery Inc (NASDAQ:WBD) CEO David Zaslav on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F 6AM – 9AM ET) today, Wednesday, May 18th. Following is a link to video on Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav Explains Decision To Shut Down CNN+ JOE KERNEN: The newly combined Warner Bros Discovery is about one month into its new era as a global entertainment company. Joining us now in an exclusive interview, his first since the merger closed is David Zaslav, Warner Bros Discovery CEO. It’s great to have you on set. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more ZASLAV: I got all dressed up. KERNEN: You did. ZASLAV: For you and Becky. KERNEN: You did. BECKY QUICK: I like those suits too. KERNEN: You look good and the less color and the more sort of just static color, that's a Hollywood thing. You don't need to be flashy out there because you you're you've made it. You've arrived. And you live out— ZASLAV: Thank you. KERNEN: Don’t you live out there now? ZASLAV: Between New York and LA. KERNEN: You do. So you came into this at a really interesting point given what we've seen with with streaming and Netflix and across the board, Disney all these things that have happened when you came in, but you with that CNN+ move, you already seem to grasp sort of the changing landscape. Is that fair to say, David? ZASLAV: Well, I don't know that any of us really fully grasp it because we're trying to figure out what the consumers want. So when when we conceive this transaction, we just thought the idea of multiple people going into multiple places to get their content was a challenge and to keep it really, really simple. We have the best in entertainment and lifestyle and sports and news and make it all available to the extent that you can in one place in an easy package so everyone in the family can enjoy the product. So and I think, you know, we have great content. And so, as we begin to navigate whether we're right or whether we're wrong and how people want to consume content, we have I think the best content. KERNEN: But you’ve got some synergy promises in terms of what you can save and you've also got some debt obviously to deal with and you've got this sort of this new paradigm that we're looking at. All that put together makes me think they might have the right guy because you might not be very nice in certain ways about about things that you need to do. ZASLAV: You know, you guys know that I'm nice. But— KERNEN: No, you are nice. You know what I’m saying you know how to run a company with— ZASLAV: This isn’t about, this isn’t show friends, this is show business. This is all— KERNEN: You’re not going to blow a lot of money. You’re not going to blow a lot of money chasing— ZASLAV: No. We’re very disciplined. We invest where we think we can get return. This is a business and it's a great business and one of the things I think that became quite clear in the last month and a half in this market disruption is Netflix is a great, great company. And it's been the market leader for many, many years for our business and in in many ways, it's sort of said to everyone, it's all about streaming and it's all about streaming growth. But we've always felt that it is about streaming and streaming growth, but it's also about business fundamentals. It's about free cash flow, it's about earnings. And when you look at the Warner Bros Discovery company, we're generating real earnings, real free cash flow. We’re, you know, here in the US we have the upfront coming up today and we're larger than any one of the broadcasters and their portfolios and we go to market with a real good business, our traditional business here in the US. We’re the largest international business and so you know, I think as we look at ourselves, we're very diversified. QUICK: If if the, if this is back on your playing field, look, if everybody has to operate in a real business environment like you're doing you're you're playing your game from a position of strength on that. But you just said you're going to be disciplined. You're not going to spend the money on this. People have heard that loud and clear. Ari Emanuel was here last week and he said, look, whatever Zaslav and the rest of them say they're still going to have to pay for content that this is a really big place for it. If they don't pay up, they'll miss out on the best content. How do you kind of square up what he's seeing with your idea that look, we're going to be disciplined with this and the spend? ZASLAV: Well, first, I think Ari’s right. This year, we're spending $22 billion on content. The question is as you look at HBO and HBO Max right now, it's Casey's doing an amazing job. Some of the best maybe the best content out there right now, whether it's “Euphoria” had 25 million people watching on Sunday night, “Gilded Age,” “The Staircase,” the “Game of Thrones” prequel is coming “House of Dragons.” So the question is, you have “Hacks” that just launched if you have “Gilded Age,” if you have “Hacks,” if you have “The Staircase,” if you have “Euphoria,” and you have the biggest TV library and movie library and lifestyle library, you know, how many series do you need at one particular time and as opposed to saying, you know, let me have 10 new series this quarter. It may be that when you have when you have “Friends” and “Big Bang” and all the movies and all of our lifestyle that we only need four great series, or five or six. So we're going to look at how much do we need to nourish an audience not just let's throw everything that we have at it and, you know, from a diversity perspective, we have all the different content that we can put in. We can even put news in which we've done in Europe. KERNEN: Well I want to ask you about that because I don't, I don’t, is there a big market for news on streaming? Does it work? ZASLAV: I think there is. KERNEN: You do. ZASLAV: Well first we have, we have, which is the largest digital news business in America. KERNEN: Right, okay. ZASLAV: So when people want to get what's happening in America, there was a shooting, what happened with the election, there's more people that go to CNN online and the advertisers get the support, be supportive of that. In Europe and in for instance in Poland where we have a very big news business, we put it together with news, sports and entertainment in our offering in our streaming product, our SVOD product, and it reduced churn and it increased subscribers and it's because the the churn goes down and growth goes up when more people in the home use the product and when they use it more often and news just happens to be a product that people check in on like we check in with you every morning. KERNEN: You remember the last time we saw you in Pebble and you weren't able to really comment on CNN+ and what was going to happen. Now we know so I want to, I just want to can you tell us any more about what happened? I guess you want to look forward. You don't want to look back, but that was a little bit, I don't know whether it's surprising but it was very quick. Were you sending a message about how you're going to manage this company with that and why’d they launch? Were you unable to say anything before then, did they rush it, what what really happened, David? Can you tell us now, now that it's in the past? ZASLAV: Well look, I think it's appropriate that they were running their business, you know, under the laws right until you own a business. KERNEN: You can't— ZASLAV: People that own it get to decide what to do with it. We're very focused on CNN, we believe CNN is is a critical asset to us. It's a leader in news gathering around the world. We're focused on having, you have most of the cable networks, news networks around the world and here in the US, they’re advocacy networks. They're out, they’re advocacy networks to the left, advocacy networks to the right. We think there's a real opportunity for CNN— KERNEN: Remember John Malone said maybe hire some journalists that might that might be the first idea at CNN. Do you have the right journalists there now to cover news that’s not advocacy? ZASLAV: Look, we have great, well first we have a great, we probably have, we do have the largest number of journalists in the world. We have, we have 81 people in Poland, the Ukraine and Russia right now. KERNEN: You keep going over there to talk to sell the strengths of CNN. Don’t you, you have strengths here, right? ZASLAV: We have great strengths here. We think we have more journalists in the US than anyone else. But what we're going to do with Chris Licht is going to do is, as there are networks here that are advocating right and left, Chris is going to be advocating for truth. He's going to be advocating for facts. He's going to be advocating for journalism first. And I think, you know, I think there's a very big lane for CNN. I think people in America are, they're looking for a place where people aren’t yelling and giving opinions, you know, and they're looking for more news and so that's what you'll see from CNN. On CNN+, there was no message it was a business decision. We looked at it and we looked at the data, the number of users they had spent an enormous amount of money trying to sell an independent product. The subscribers weren't there, the users weren't there. We looked at it together. We had a chance to look at all the data and when we looked at the data, it was, the business wasn't there. KERNEN: You fired McKinsey? Those numbers were a little they were they were a little pie in the sky would you say what was possible? Did you send a message by by by cutting your losses and saying this is a way it's going to be for the rest of the business. When I need to something, I’m going to do it with a— ZASLAV: If we saw good numbers, and we thought that there was a real market for an independent news service for $6, we're, you know, we we would have driven that as a real business. Philosophically, we thought having been in business in Europe now for the last 10 years in direct to consumer that simple for consumers is easier. And so we tried independent sport, we tried independent products, and in the end we landed that putting it all together in one product with more value was what worked best. QUICK: Does that mean putting Discovery+ and HBO Max together? ZASLAV: We will. We will come to market with one product. QUICK: Everything, CNN mixed in. ZASLAV: All, we gotta decide what we do with CNN. But there will be some of CNN news’ product on there. They're already, they're already is and we're going to make an announcement today on more that will be on there. But we will have one product and I think it's going to be really compelling because it's, Netflix has a great product. Disney has a has a terrific product. But the diversity of content that we have, whether it's the the great HBO content, the great library content, “Friends,” “Big Bang Theory,” the great movies, the biggest movie library and then we have food, HG, Discovery, Oprah, Chip and Joanna Gaines and when we put that all together, I think we're going to see something that will appeal to everyone in the family and we've gotten some hints on it. HBO Max is doing great and has tremendous appeal. Huge audiences come in. We don't get that kind of audience at Discovery+. KERNEN: Quality. Makes a difference, yeah. ZASLAV: 20 million people. And on in Discovery+, we have very low churn and we're still doing very nicely so together we think we're gonna have a great product. QUICK: Andrew’s just got a question. ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Hey David. As one of the great dealmakers of our time and I I want to get your perspective on just what the rest of the chessboard looks like at a conference where that was actually the conversation at dinner last night in terms of further consolidation in this industry as everybody was chasing or at least thought they were chasing a Netflix like multiple. Now that that multiples no longer there and actually some prices of things have actually come down, how you think the rest of it shakes out? We just saw Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway buy a piece of of Paramount Global. What do you think regulators would allow, wouldn't allow at this point in the ballgame? ZASLAV: Well, thanks. Good to see you, Andrew. First it's actually a year ago yesterday that that we announced our deal and we were able to get the deal done and approved in less than 11 months. And so for us, the process was quite effective. And it's exciting that we're able to get it done and be in a position to go to the advertising market now. Our number one focus is how did the assets that we have work for us in in the in the marketplace that we're facing today, and we're the largest maker of content with Warner Bros. Television and Warner Bros. Motion Pictures. We have together 100 million subscribers about between Discovery and and Warner as Warner Bros Discovery. And we have a great traditional business around the world with free to air channels and cable channels and sports and news and so I feel like strategically we’re quite complete and we're probably the most complete and diversified media company in the world. And so, you know, for us, we're going to be head down, let’s drive this business. Let's get a single product into the market. Let's show how much free cash flow that we can generate. And let's show that we have a diversified real growth business. That's real. I do think that the world is changing that, you know, if you look at at the leader in our business as Netflix, they were leading and we the the currency was subscribers, not free cash flow. And so as the market determines how they're going to value different media companies, it'll have a real impact on what people chase. From our perspective, we're not chasing anything. We've always been very clear, free cash at Discovery, free cash flow is king. We want to drive real growth, get more people spending time with our content on all platforms and if we do that and we make real money, that ultimately the market will give us, you know, substantial value for that. KERNEN: You’re a, you’re a movie mogul now too. Should should Adam Aron go full into just lithium mining or do we keep the theaters? You were recently named on the board of Cinematheque, what Americans, does that mean you see the value of the big opening and is that going to continue? ZASLAV: Look, I've said from the day that we closed this, that we announced this transaction, we have Warner Bros. Motion Pictures. It's 100 years old in six months. There's nothing like the big screen and you go with your friends, the lights go down and you look up at that big screen— KERNEN: Right, the popcorn. ZASLAV: And it's it's magic. KERNEN: The fake butter, there’s a lot— ZASLAV: It changed the culture, it changes the way people see things. It changes the way people see themselves. And that's not going away. The last year— QUICK: But is that theatrical release window going to be shorter? ZASLAV: I think it’ll be shorter but look, what we've learned so far is when Batman came back to HBO Max after 45 days, it was a very strong driver and the more research, we see this idea of going direct to streaming, I never thought it made sense. Why would you collapse a great business? QUICK: But a shorter window is— ZASLAV: A shorter window works because if you you know if you market what you do aggressively for these titles, and then you tell somebody that this is important and they hear word of mouth. For instance, we're about to do that, do this on “Elvis,” which we're going to launch soon. Then when it hits the streaming service, the feeling is it's something special. And so I think you'll see some of the streaming companies saying I gotta get into the motion picture business. KERNEN: Would you— ZASLAV: So I think what's old is going to be new again and we have that that's a big strength— KERNEN: Have you had a conversation with, Alan Horn is a friend of yours isn’t he, have you had a conversation— ZASLAV: I love Alan. KERNEN: Have you had a conversation with him about he's 79 that doesn't mean anything anymore, does it. I think the president’s, would you bring him back? ZASLAV: The gift of the last 11 months is I haven't been able to I wasn't able to do anything until this deal closed but I was able to talk to a lot of people. There's a lot that I don't know. There's a lot that we as a company don't know and so I spent a lot of time with Alan. I spent a lot of time with with with with most of the old leadership at at Warner together with the with with with the industry. I spent a lot of time with Bob Iger. What did he do well, and I had a real chance to kind of get a sense of also what mistakes did they make? You know, now we were going to have to make it happen. I'm very confident. We've been in there for 30 days and we see even more opportunity. You know that it's it's messy, but we expected it to be messy, but the messier it is, the more cleanup we could do and the more we can grow this business. QUICK: You've guided the street to leverage of two and a half to three times within 24 months. How do you get there and is that an easily achievable goal? Is that tough to hit? ZASLAV: We have a lot of businesses that are generating a lot of value. We just got in so we need to now kind of level set. We weren't really able to see a lot now we've seen a fair amount, but it's probably going to take us a little a little longer as we get to our first our next quarter earnings, we're going to lay out a real plan. Here's how we’re coming to market. Here's what we found. It's better than we thought. Some of it's worse than we thought maybe it's you know, we will we'll do a full level set on where we are, you know, by as we come to market in the first— QUICK: I just want to clarify you said it's probably going to take a little longer. Did you mean a little longer before you announced more plans or a little longer than 24 months to get to that leverage? ZASLAV: No it's going to be a little longer until we have full clarity of exactly what we're going to do and when. 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Category: blogSource: valuewalkMay 19th, 2022

Gordon Chang: What To Do About China

Gordon Chang: What To Do About China Authored by Gordon Chang via The Gatestone Institute, Since about 2018, Chinese officials have been talking about the moon and Mars as sovereign Chinese territory, part of the People's Republic of China. This means that China considers those heavenly bodies to be like the South China Sea. This also means that China will exclude other nations from going to the moon and Mars if they have the capability to do so. We do not have to speculate about that: Chinese officials say this is what they are going to do. [W]hen Biden says, "Oh, the Chinese just want to compete with us," he is wrong. They do not want to "compete" within the international system. They do not even want to change that system... They want to overthrow it altogether, period. Is Xi Jinping really that bold... to start another war? ... First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. Second the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. We Americans don't pay attention to propaganda... After all, these are just words. At this particular time, these words... [suggest] to me that China is laying the justification for a strike on the United States. We keep ignoring what Beijing is saying. We kept ignoring what Osama bin Laden was saying. We have to remember that the Chinese regime, unlike the Japanese, always warn its adversaries about what it is going to do The second reason war is coming is that America's deterrence of China is breaking down. Di's message was that with cash, China can do anything it wants, and that all Americans would take cash. He mentioned two words in this regard: Hunter Biden. In February, [Biden] had a two‑hour phone call with Xi Jinping. By Biden's own admission, he didn't raise the issue of the origins of COVID‑19 even once. If you are Xi Jinping, after you put down the receiver, your first thought is, "I just got away with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans." We have news that China is building something like 345 missile silos in three locations: in Gansu, Xinjiang, and in Inner Mongolia. These silos are clearly built to accommodate the DF‑41. The DF‑41 has a range of about 9,300 miles, which means that it can reach any part of the United States. The DF‑41 carries 10 warheads. This means that China could, in about two years..., have a bigger arsenal than ours. ...we have to assume the worst because Chinese leaders and Chinese generals, on occasion, unprovoked, have made threats to nuke American cities. In July, 2021 China tested a hypersonic glide warhead, which circled the world. This signals China intends to violate the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is a party. As of today, more than eight million people have died outside China. What happened? No one imposed costs on China. For at least a half‑decade, maybe a little bit longer, Chinese military researchers have been openly writing about a new type of biological warfare....They talk about a new type of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks." In other words, pathogens that will leave the Chinese immune but sicken and kill everybody else, which means that the next disease from China can be a civilization killer. A lot of military analysts talk about how the first seconds of a war with China are going to be fought in outer space. They are going to blind our satellites, take them down, do all sorts of stuff. Those statements are wrong. The first day of war against the United States occurs about six months earlier, when they release pathogens in the United States. Then we are going to have that day in space. The war starts here, with a pathogen ‑‑ a virus, a microbe, a bug of some kind. That is where it begins. The One‑China policy is something many people misunderstand. Probably because Beijing uses propaganda to try to fuzzy up the issue.... China has a One‑China principle: that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, full stop. We have a One‑China policy..., that the status of Taiwan is unresolved.... that the resolution of the status of Taiwan must be with the consent of people on both sides of the Strait. We need a policy of "strategic clarity," where we tell China that we will defend Taiwan. We also say we will extend a mutual defense treaty to Taiwan if it wants it, and we will put American troops on the island as a tripwire. We are Americans. We naturally assume that there are solutions, and good solutions, to every problem. After three decades of truly misguided China policy, there are no ... solutions that are "undangerous." ...The current trend of policy is unsustainable. There will be no American republic if we continue to do what we are currently doing and if we continue to allow China to do what it does. I do not think that enforcing a trade deal will start World War III. China has not met its obligations. As of a few months ago, China had met about 62% of its commitments..... We should be increasing the tariffs that President Trump imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Remember, those tariffs are meant to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. China has continued to steal US IP. As matter of fact, it has gotten worse... I do not think that we should be trying to foster integration of Wall Street into China's markets.... Do not take it from me, just look at their failure to comply with very simple, easy‑to‑comply-with requirements. It was a mistake. The best response would be if we hit them with everything at once because China right now is weak. If we were going to pick the number one thing to do, I would think trade. China now has a debt crisis, so they are not going to invest their way out of this crisis, which means the only way they can save their economy is net exports. We should stop buying their stuff. China has bought the political establishment in the Solomon Islands, except for one brave man named David Suidani. Recently, somebody got the bright idea of publishing all of the specific payments that Beijing has made to Solomon Islands politicians.... We should be doing this with payments to American politicians, we should be doing this across the board. What bothers me is that, although their assumptions about China have demonstrably been proven wrong, American policymakers still continue with the same policies. There is, in some people's mind, an unbreakable view that we have to cooperate with China.... This is what people learn in international relations school when they go to Georgetown, and they become totally stupid. Clearly, Nike and Apple and other companies are now, at this very moment, trying to prevent Congress from enacting toughened rules on the importation of forced‑labor products into our country. Moreover, the Chinese regime is even more casualty‑averse than we are. Even if Beijing thinks it can take Taiwan by force, it is probably not going to invade because it knows an invasion would be unpopular with most people in China. It is not going to risk hundreds of thousands of casualties that would result from an invasion. Unfortunately..., we taught the Chinese that they can without cost engage in these dangerous maneuvers of intercepting our planes and our ships. That is the problem: because as we have taught the Chinese to be more aggressive, they have been. [W]e should have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that they cannot kill Americans without cost. Hundreds of thousands Americans have been killed by a disease that China deliberately spread. From October 2020 to October 2021, more than 105,000 Americans died from fentanyl -- which China has purposefully, as a matter of state and Communist Party policy -- sold to Americans... we have to change course. I would close China's four remaining consulates. I would also strip the Chinese embassy down to the ambassador and his personal staff. The thousands who are in Washington, DC, they would be out. I would also raise tariffs to 3,600%, or whatever. This is a good time to do it. We have supply chain disruptions. We are not getting products from China anyway. We can actually start to do this sort of stuff. I would... just hammer those guys all the time verbally. People may think, "Those are just words." For communists, words are really important, because they are an insecure regime where propaganda is absolutely critical. I would be going after the Communists on human rights, I would be going after them on occupying the South China Sea, on Taiwan, unrelentingly -- because I would want to show the world that the United States is no longer afraid of China.... State Department people, they are frightened. We need to say to the Chinese regime, like Dulles, "I'm not afraid of you. I'm going after you, and I'm going to win." Is Xi Jinping really that bold... to start another war?... First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. Second the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. All the conditions for history's next great war are in place. Jim Holmes, the Wiley Professor at the Naval War College, actually talks about this period as being 1937. 1937 was the year in which if you were in Europe or America, you could sense the trouble. If you were in Asia in 1937, you would be even more worried, because that year saw Japan's second invasion of China that decade. No matter where you lived, however, you could not be sure that the worst would happen, that great armies and navies around the world would clash. There was still hope that the situation could be managed. As we now know, the worst did happen. In fact, what happened was worse than what anyone thought at the time. We are now, thanks to China, back to 1937. We will begin our discussion in Afghanistan. Beijing has had long‑standing relations with the Afghan Taliban, going back before 9/11, and continuing through that event. After the US drove the Taliban from power and while it was conducting an insurgency, China was selling the group arms, including anti‑aircraft missiles, that were used to kill American and NATO forces. China's support for killing Americans has continued to today. In December 2020, Indian Intelligence was instrumental, in Afghanistan, in breaking up a ring of Chinese spies and members of the Haqqani Network. The Trump administration believed that the Chinese portion of that ring was actually paying cash for killing Americans. What can happen next? We should not be surprised if China gives the Taliban an atomic weapon to be used against an American city. Would they be that vicious? We have to remember that China purposefully, over the course of decades, proliferated its nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan and then helped Pakistan sell that Chinese technology around the world to regimes such as Iran's and North Korea's. Today, China supports the Taliban. We know this because China has kept open its embassy in Kabul. China is also running interference for the Taliban in the United Nations Security Council. It is urging countries to support that insurgent group with aid. It looks as if the Taliban's main financial backers these days are the Chinese. Beijing is hoping to cash in on its relationship in Central Asia. Unfortunately, there is a man named Biden, who is helping them. In early August, Biden issued an executive order setting a goal that by 2030, half of all American vehicles should be electric‑powered. To be electric‑powered, we need rare earth minerals, we need lithium. As many people have said, Afghanistan is the Saudi Arabia of rare earths and lithium. If Beijing can mine this, it makes the United States even more dependent on China. It certainly helps the Taliban immeasurably. Unfortunately, Beijing has more than just Afghanistan in mind. The Chinese want to take away our sovereignty, and that of other nations, and rule the world. They actually even want to rule the near parts of the solar system. Yes, that does sound far‑fetched, but, no, I'm not exaggerating. Chinese President Xi Jinping would like to end the current international system. On July 1, in a landmark speech, in connection with the centennial of China's ruling organization, he said this: "The Communist Party of China and the Chinese people, with their bravery and tenacity, solemnly proclaim to the world that the Chinese people are not only good at taking down the old world, but also good in building a new one." By that, China's leader means ending the international system, the Westphalian international system. It means he wants to impose China's imperial‑era notions of governance, where Chinese emperors believed they not only had the Mandate of Heaven over tianxia, or all under Heaven, but that Heaven actually compelled the Chinese to rule the entire world. Xi Jinping has been using tianxia themes for decades, and so have his subordinates, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who in September 2017 wrote an article in Study Times, the Central Party School's influential newspaper. In that article, Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy ‑‑ a "thought" in Communist Party lingo is an important body of ideological work ‑‑ Wang Yi wrote that Xi Jinping's thought on diplomacy made innovations on and transcended the traditional theories of Western international relations of the past 300 years. Take 2017, subtract 300 years, and you almost get to 1648, which means that Wang Yi, with his time reference, was pointing to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which established the current system of sovereign states. When Wang Yi writes that Xi Jinping wants to transcend that system, he is really telling us that China's leader does not want sovereign states, or at least no more of them than China. This means that when Biden says, "Oh, the Chinese just want to compete with us," he is wrong. They do not want to "compete" within the international system. They do not even want to change that system so it is more to their liking. They want to overthrow it altogether, period. China is also revolutionary with regard to the solar system. Since about 2018, Chinese officials have been talking about the moon and Mars as sovereign Chinese territory. In other words, as part of the People's Republic of China. This means that China considers those heavenly bodies to be like the South China Sea: theirs and theirs alone. This also means that China will exclude other nations from going to the moon and Mars if they have the capability to do so. We do not have to speculate about that: Chinese officials say this is what they are going to do. Let us return to April 2021. Beijing announced the name of its Mars rover. "We are naming the Mars rover Zhurong," the Chinese said, "because Zhurong was the god of fire in Chinese mythology, " How nice. Yes, Zhurong is the god of fire. What Beijing did not tell us is that Zhurong is also the god of war—and the god of the South China Sea. Is Xi Jinping really that bold or that desperate to start another war? Two points. First, China considers the United States to be its enemy. The second point is that the United States is no longer deterring China. China feels it has a big green light to do whatever it wants. On the first point, about our enemy status, we have to go back to May 2019. People's Daily, the most authoritative publication in China, actually carried a piece that declared a "people's war" on the US. This was not just some isolated thought. On August 29th 2021, People's Daily came out with a landmark piece that accused the United States of committing "barbaric" acts against China. Again, this was during a month of hostile propaganda blasts from China. On the August 29th, Global Times, which is controlled by People's Daily, came right out and also said that the United States was an enemy or like an enemy. We Americans don't pay attention to propaganda. The question is, should we be concerned about what China is saying? After all, these are just words. At this particular time, these words are significant. The strident anti‑Americanism suggests to me that China is laying the justification for a strike on the United States. We keep ignoring what Beijing is saying. We kept ignoring what Osama bin Laden was saying. We have to remember that the Chinese regime, unlike the Japanese, always warn its adversaries about what it is going to do. Jim Lilley, our great ambassador to Beijing during the Tiananmen Massacre, actually said that China always telegraphs its punches. At this moment, China is telegraphing a punch. That hostility, unfortunately, is not something we can do very much about. The Chinese Communist regime inherently idealizes struggle, and it demands that others show subservience to it. The second reason war is coming is that America's deterrence of China is breaking down. That is evident from what the Chinese are saying. In March of 2021, China sent its top two diplomats, Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi, to Anchorage to meet our top officials, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Yang, in chilling words, said the US could no longer talk to China "from a position of strength." We saw the same theme during the fall of Kabul. China then was saying, "Look, those Americans, they can't deal with the insurgent Taliban. How can they hope to counter us magnificent Chinese?" Global Times actually came out with a piece referring to Americans: "They can't win wars anymore." We also saw propaganda at that same time directed at Taiwan. Global Times was saying, again, in an editorial, an important signal of official Chinese thinking, "When we decide to invade, Taiwan will fall within hours and the US will not come to help." It is probably no coincidence that this propaganda came at the time of incursions into Taiwan's air-defense identification zone. We need to be concerned with more than just the intensity and with the frequency of these flights, however. We have to be concerned that China was sending H‑6K bombers; they are nuclear‑capable. Something is wrong. Global Times recently came out with an editorial with the title, "Time to warn Taiwan secessionists and their fomenters: war is real." Beijing is at this moment saying things heard before history's great conflicts. The Chinese regime right now seems to be feeling incredibly arrogant. We heard this on November 28th in 2020, when Di Dongsheng, an academic in Beijing, gave a lecture live-streamed to China. Di showed the arrogance of the Chinese elite. More importantly, he was showing that the Chinese elite no longer wanted to hide how they felt. Di, for instance, openly stated that China could determine outcomes at the highest levels of the American political system. Di's message was that with cash, China can do anything it wants, and that all Americans would take cash. He mentioned two words in this regard: Hunter Biden. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden is reinforcing this notion. China, for instance, has so far killed nearly one million Americans with a disease that it deliberately spread beyond its borders. Yet, what happened? Nothing. We know that China was able to spread this disease with its close relationship with the World Health Organization. President Trump, in July of 2020, took us out of the WHO. What did Biden do? In his first hours in office, on January 20th, 2021, he put us back into the WHO. In February, he had a two‑hour phone call with Xi Jinping. By Biden's own admission, he didn't raise the issue of the origins of COVID‑19 even once. If you are Xi Jinping, after you put down the receiver, your first thought is, "I just got away with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans." Then there's somebody named John Kerry. Our republic is not safe when John Kerry carries a diplomatic passport, as he now does. He is willing to make almost any deal to get China to sign an enhanced climate arrangement. Kerry gave a revealing interview to David Westin of Bloomberg on September 22, 2021. Westin asked him, "What is the process by which one trades off climate against human rights?" Climate against human rights? Kerry came back and said, "Well, life is always full of tough choices in the relationship between nations." Tough choices? We Americans need to ask, "What is Kerry willing to give up to get his climate deal?" Democracies tend to deal with each other in the way that Kerry says. If we are nice to a democracy, that will lead to warm relations; warm relations will lead to deals, long‑standing ties. Kerry thinks that the Chinese communists think that way. Unfortunately, they do not. We know this because Kerry's successor as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in February 2009, said in public, "I'm not going to press the Chinese on human rights because I've got bigger fish to fry." She then went to Beijing a day after saying that and got no cooperation from the Chinese. Even worse, just weeks after that, China felt so bold that it attacked an unarmed US Navy reconnaissance vessel in the South China Sea. The attack was so serious that it constituted an act of war. The Chinese simply do not think the way that Kerry believes they do. All of this, when you put it together, means that the risk of war is much higher than we tend to think. Conflict with today's aggressor is going to be more destructive than it was in the 1930s. We have news that China is building something like 345 missile silos in three locations: in Gansu, Xinjiang, and in Inner Mongolia. These silos are clearly built to accommodate the DF‑41. The DF‑41 has a range of about 9,300 miles, which means that it can reach any part of the United States. The DF‑41 carries 10 warheads. This means that China could, in about two years, as some experts think, have a bigger arsenal than ours. China has built decoy silos before. We are not sure they are going to put all 345 missiles into these facilities, but we have to assume the worst because Chinese leaders and Chinese generals, on occasion, unprovoked, have made threats to nuke American cities. This, of course, calls into question their official no‑first‑use policy, and also a lot of other things. China will not talk to us about arms control. We have to be concerned that China and Russia, which already are coordinating their military activities, would gang up against us with their arsenals. In July, 2021 China tested a hypersonic glide warhead, which circled the world. This signals China intends to violate the Outer Space Treaty, to which China is a party. It also shows that in hypersonic technology, which was developed by Americans, China is now at least a decade ahead of us in fielding a weapon. Why is China doing all this now? The country is coming apart at the seams. There is, for instance, a debt crisis. Evergrande and other property developers have started to default. It is more than just a crisis of companies. China is basically now having its 2008. Even more important than that, they have an economy that is stumbling and a food crisis that is worsening year to year. They know their environment is exhausted. Of course, they also are suffering from a continuing COVID‑19 epidemic. To make matters worse, all of this is occurring while China is on the edge of the steepest demographic decline in history in the absence of war or disease. Two Chinese demographers recently stated that China's population will probably halve in 45 years. If you run out those projections, it means that by the end of the century, China will be about a third of its current size, basically about the same number of people as the United States. These developments are roiling the political system. Xi Jinping is being blamed for these debacles. We know he has a low threshold of risk. Xi now has all the incentive in the world to deflect popular and regime discontent by lashing out. In 1966, Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic, was sidelined in Beijing. What did he do? He started the Cultural Revolution. He tried to use the Chinese people against his political enemies. That created a decade of chaos. Xi Jinping is trying to do the same thing with his "common prosperity" program. The difference is that Mao did not have the means to plunge the world into war. Xi, with his shiny new military, clearly does have that ability. So here is a 1930s scenario to consider. The next time China starts a conflict, whether accidentally or on purpose, we could see that China's friends -- Russia, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan -- either in coordination with China or just taking advantage of the situation, move against their enemies. That would be Ukraine in the case of Russia, South Korea in the case of North Korea, Israel in the case of Iran, India in the case of Pakistan, and Morocco in the case of Algeria. We could see crises at both ends of the European landmass and in Africa at the same time. This is how world wars start. *  *  * Question: Why do you believe China attacked the world with coronavirus? Chang: I believe that SARS‑CoV‑2, the pathogen that causes COVID‑19, is not natural. There are, for example, unnatural arrangements of amino acids, like the double‑CGG sequence, that do not occur in nature. We do not have a hundred percent assurance on where this pathogen came from. We do, however, have a hundred percent assurance on something else: that for about five weeks, maybe even five months, Chinese leaders knew that this disease was highly transmissible, from one human to the next, but they told the world that it was not. At the same time as they were locking down their own country ‑‑ Xi Jinping by locking down was indicating that he thought this was an effective way of stopping the disease -- he was pressuring other countries not to impose travel restrictions and quarantines on arrivals from China. It was those arrivals from China that turned what should have been an epidemic confined to the central part of China, into a global pandemic. As of today, more than eight million people have died outside China. What happened? No one imposed costs on China. For at least a half‑decade, maybe a little bit longer, Chinese military researchers have been openly writing about a new type of biological warfare. This was, for instance, in the 2017 edition of "The Science of Military Strategy," the authoritative publication of China's National Defense University. They talk about a new type of biological warfare of "specific ethnic genetic attacks." In other words, pathogens that will leave the Chinese immune but sicken and kill everybody else, which means that the next disease from China can be a civilization killer. Remember, Xi Jinping must be thinking, "I just got away with killing eight million people. Why wouldn't I unleash a biological attack on the United States? Look what the virus has done not only to kill Americans but also to divide American society." A lot of military analysts talk about how the first seconds of a war with China are going to be fought in outer space. They are going to blind our satellites, take them down, do all sorts of stuff. Those statements are wrong. The first day of war against the United States occurs about six months earlier, when they release pathogens in the United States. Then we are going to have that day in space. The war starts here, with a pathogen ‑‑ a virus, a microbe, a bug of some kind. That is where it begins. Question: You mentioned 1939. Taiwan is the Poland of today. We get mixed signals: Biden invites the Taiwanese foreign minister to his inauguration, but then we hear Ned Price, his State Department spokesman, say that America will always respect the One‑China policy. Meaning, we're sidelining defending Taiwan? Chang: The One‑China policy is something many people misunderstand. Probably because Beijing uses propaganda to try to fuzzy up the issue. China has a One‑China principle: that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, full stop. We have a One‑China policy, which is different. We recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China. We also say that the status of Taiwan is unresolved. Then, the third part of our One‑China policy is that the resolution of the status of Taiwan must be with the consent of people on both sides of the Strait. In other words, that is code for peace, a peaceful resolution. Our policies are defined by the One‑China policy, the Three Communiques, Reagan's Six Assurances, and the Taiwan Relations Act. Our policy is difficult for someone named Joe Biden to articulate, because he came back from a campaign trip to Michigan, and he was asked by a reporter about Taiwan, and Biden said, "Don't worry about this. We got it covered. I had a phone call with Xi Jinping and he agreed to abide by the Taiwan agreement." In official US discourse, there is no such thing as a "Taiwan agreement." Some reporter then asked Ned Price what did Biden mean by the Taiwan agreement. Ned Price said, "The Taiwan agreement means the Three Communiques the Six Assurances, the Taiwan Relations Act, and the One‑China policy." Ned Price could not have been telling the truth because Xi Jinping did not agree to America's position on Taiwan. That is clear. There is complete fuzziness or outright lying in the Biden administration about this. Biden's policies on Taiwan are not horrible, but they are also not appropriate for this time. decades, we have had this policy of "strategic ambiguity," where we do not tell either side what we would do in the face of imminent conflict. That worked in a benign period. We are no longer in a benign period. We are in one of the most dangerous periods in history. We need a policy of "strategic clarity," where we tell China that we will defend Taiwan. We also say we will extend a mutual defense treaty to Taiwan if it wants it, and we will put American troops on the island as a tripwire. Question: You think he is not saying that because he has no intention of actually doing it, so in a way, he is telling the truth? Chang: The mind of Biden is difficult to understand. We do not know what the administration would do. We have never known, after Allen Dulles, what any administration would do, with regard to Taiwan. We knew what Dulles would have done. We have got to be really concerned because there are voices in the administration that would give Taiwan, and give other parts of the world, to China. It would probably start with John Kerry; that is only a guess. Question: You mentioned earlier the growing Chinese economic problems. Would you use taking action on the enormous trade deficits we run with China to contribute to that problem? Chang: Yes, we should absolutely do that. Go back to a day which, in my mind, lives in infamy, which is January 15th, 2020, when President Trump signed the Phase One trade deal, which I think was a mistake. In that Phase One trade deal, it was very easy for China to comply, because there were specific targets that China had to meet in buying US goods and services. This was "managed trade." China has not met its obligations. As of a few months ago, China had met about 62% of its commitments. That means, they have dishonored this deal in a material and significant way. If nothing else, China has failed to meet its Phase One trade deal commitments. We should be increasing the tariffs that President Trump imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Remember, those tariffs are meant to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. China has continued to steal US IP. As matter of fact, it has gotten worse: for instance, these Chinese anti‑lawsuit injunctions, which they have started to institute. We need to do something: China steals somewhere between $300 to $600 billion worth of US intellectual property each year. That is a grievous wound on the US economy, it is a grievous wound on our society in general. We need to do something about it. Question: As a follow‑up on that, Japan commenced World War II because of the tariffs Roosevelt was strapping on oil imports into Japan, do you think that might well have the same effect on China, where we do begin to impose stiffer tariffs on American imports? Chang: That is a really important question, to which nobody has an answer. I do not think that China would start a war over tariffs. Let me answer this question in a different way. We are Americans. We naturally assume that there are solutions, and good solutions, to every problem. After three decades of truly misguided China policy, there are no good solutions. There are no solutions that are "undangerous." Every solution, going forward, carries great risk. The current trend of policy is unsustainable. There will be no American republic if we continue to do what we are currently doing and if we continue to allow China to do what it does. I do not think that enforcing a trade deal will start World War III. The point is, we have no choice right now. First, I don't think the Chinese were ever going to honor the Phase One agreement . This was not a deal where there were some fuzzy requirements. This deal was very clear: China buys these amounts of agricultural products by such and such date, China buys so many manufactured products by such and such date. This was not rocket science. China purposefully decided not to honor it. There are also other issues regarding the trade deal do not think that we should be trying to foster integration of Wall Street into China's markets, which is what the Phase One deal also contemplated. Goldman Sachs ran away like a bandit on that. There are lot of objections to it. I do not think we should be trading with China, for a lot of reasons. The Phase One trade deal, in my mind, was a great mistake. Do not take it from me, just look at their failure to comply with very simple, easy‑to‑comply-with requirements. It was a mistake. Question: Concerning cybersecurity, as we saw in the recent departure of a Pentagon official, ringing the alarm on how we are completely vulnerable to China's cyberattacks. From your perspective, what would an attack look like on China that would hurt them? What particular institutions would be the most vulnerable? Is it exposing their secrets? Is it something on their financial system? Is it something on their medical system or critical infrastructure? What does the best way look like to damage them? Also, regarding what you mentioned about Afghanistan, we know that China has been making inroads into Pakistan as a check on American hegemony in relationships with India and Afghanistan. Now that the Afghanistan domino is down, what do you see in the future for Pakistan's nuclear capability, in conjunction with Chinese backing, to move ever further westward towards Afghanistan, and endangering Middle East security? Chang: Right now, India has been disheartened by what happened, because India was one of the main backers of the Afghan government. What we did in New Delhi was delegitimize our friends, so that now the pro‑Russian, the pro‑Chinese elements in the Indian national security establishment are basically setting the tone. This is terrible. What has happened, though, in Pakistan itself, is not an unmitigated disaster for us, because China has suffered blowback there. There is an Afghan Taliban, and there is a Pakistani Taliban. They have diametrically‑opposed policies on China. The Afghan Taliban is an ally of China; the Pakistani Taliban kill Chinese. They do that because they want to destabilize Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Beijing supports Islamabad. The calculation on part of the Pakistani Taliban is, "We kill Chinese, we destabilize Islamabad, we then get to set up the caliphate in Pakistan." What has happened is, with this incredible success of the Afghan Taliban, that the Pakistani Taliban has been re‑energized -- not good news for China. China has something called the China‑Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of their Belt and Road Initiative. Ultimately that is going to be something like $62 billion of investment into Pakistani roads, airports, electric power plants, utilities, all the rest of it. I am very happy that China is in Pakistan, because they are now dealing with a situation that they have no solutions to. It's like Winston Churchill on Italy, "It's now your turn." We should never have had good relations with Pakistan. That was always a short‑term compromise that, even in the short term, undermined American interests. The point is that China is now having troubles in Pakistan because of their success in Afghanistan. Pakistan is important to China for a number of reasons. One of them is, they want it as an outlet to the Indian Ocean that bypasses the Malacca Strait -- a choke point that the US Navy ‑‑ in their view ‑‑ could easily close off, which is correct. They want to bypass that, but their port in Gwadar is a failure in many respects. Gwadar is in Pakistan's Baluchistan. The Baluchs are one of the most oppressed minorities on earth. They have now taken to violence against the Chinese, and they have been effective. Pakistan is a failure for China. The best response would be if we hit them with everything at once because China right now is weak. If we were going to pick the number one thing to do, I would think trade. Trade is really what they need right now. Their economy is stalling. There are three parts to the Chinese economy, as there are to all economies: consumption, investment, and net exports. Their consumption right now is extremely weak from indicators that we have. The question is can they invest? China now has a debt crisis, so they are not going to invest their way out of this crisis, which means the only way they can save their economy is net exports. We should stop buying their stuff. We have extraordinary supply chain disruptions right now. It should be pretty easy for us to make the case that we must become self‑sufficient on a number of items. Hit them on trade. Hit them on investment, publicize the bank account details of Chinese leaders. All these things that we do, we do it all at the same time. We can maybe get rid of these guys. Question: In the Solomon Islands, they published China's under-the-table payments to political figures. Should we do the same thing with China's leaders? Chang: Yes. There is now a contest for the Solomon Islands, which includes Guadalcanal. China has bought the political establishment in the Solomon Islands, except for one brave man named David Suidani. Recently, somebody got the bright idea of publishing all of the specific payments that Beijing has made to Solomon Islands politicians. This was really good news. We should be doing this with payments to American politicians, we should be doing this across the board. Why don't we publish their payments to politicians around the world? Let's expose these guys, let's go after them. Let's root out Chinese influence, because they are subverting our political system. Similarly, we should also be publishing the bank account details of all these Chinese leaders, because they are corrupt as hell. Question: Could you comment, please, on what you think is the nature of the personal relationships between Hunter Biden, his father, and Chinese financial institutions. How has it, if at all, affected American foreign policy towards China, and how will it affect that policy? Chang: There are two things here. There are the financial ties. Hunter Biden has connections with Chinese institutions, which you cannot explain in the absence of corruption. For instance, he has a relationship with Bohai Harvest Partners, BHR. China puts a lot of money into the care of foreign investment managers. The two billion, or whatever the number is, is not that large, but they only put money with people who have a track record in managing investments. Hunter Biden only has a track record of being the son of Joe Biden. There are three investigations of Hunter Biden right now. There is the Wilmington US Attorney's Office, the FBI -- I don't place very much hope in either of these – but the third one might actually bear some fruit: the IRS investigation of Hunter Biden. Let us say, for the moment, that Biden is able to corrupt all three of these investigations. Yet money always leaves a trail. We are going to find out one way or another. Peter Schweizer, for instance, is working on a book on the Biden cash. Eventually, we are going to know about that. What worries me is not so much the money trail -- and of course, there's the art sales, a subject in itself, because we will find out. What worries me is that Hunter Biden, by his own admission, is a troubled individual. He has been to China a number of times. He has probably committed some embarrassing act there, which means that the Ministry of State Security has audio and video recordings of this. Those are the things that can be used for blackmail. We Americans would never know about it, because blackmail does not necessarily leave a trail. This is what we should be most concerned about. Biden has now had two long phone calls with Xi Jinping. The February call, plus also one a few months ago. We do not know what was said. I would be very worried that when Xi Jinping wants to say something, there will be a phone call to Biden, and it would be Xi doing the talking without note takers. Question: Please tell us about the China desk over the 30 years, the influence of the bureaucracy on politics; what can they affect? Chang: I do not agree with our China policy establishment in Washington, in general, and specifically the State Department and NSC. This a complicated issue. First, there is this notion after the end of the Cold War, that the nature of governments did not matter. You could trade with them, you could strengthen them, and it would not have national security implications. That was wrong for a number of reasons, as we are now seeing. What bothers me is that, although their assumptions about China have demonstrably been proven wrong, American policymakers still continue with the same policies. There is, in some people's mind, an unbreakable view that we have to cooperate with China. You hear this from Blinken all the time: "We've got to cooperate where we can." It is this formulation which is tired, and which has not produced the types of policies that are necessary to defend our republic. That is the unfortunate thing. This is what people learn in international relations school when they go to Georgetown, and they become totally stupid. We Americans should be upset because we have a political class that is not defending us. They are not defending us because they have these notions of China. George Kennan understood the nature of the Soviet Union. I do not understand why we cannot understand the true nature of the Chinese regime. Part of it is because we have Wall Street, we have Walmart, and they carry China's water. There are more of us than there are of them in this country. We have to exercise our vote to make sure that we implement China policies that actually protect us. Policies that protect us are going to be drastic and they will be extreme, but absolutely, we have now dug ourselves into such a hole after three decades of truly misguided views on China, that I don't know what else to say. This is not some partisan complaint. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, all have truly misguided China policies. I do not know what it takes to break this view, except maybe for the deaths of American servicemen and women. Question: Is the big obstacle American businesses which, in donations to Biden, are the ones stopping decoupling of commerce, and saying, "Do not have war; we would rather earn money"? Chang: It is. You have, for instance, Nike. There are a number of different companies, but Nike comes to mind right now, because they love to lecture us about racism. For years they were operating a factory in Qingdao, in the northeastern part of China, that resembled a concentration camp. The laborers were Uighur and Kazakh women, brought there on cattle cars and forced to work. This factory, technically, was operated by a South Korean sub‑contractor, but that contractor had a three‑decade relationship with Nike. Nike had to know what was going on. This was forced labor, perhaps even slave labor. Clearly, Nike and Apple and other companies are now, at this very moment, trying to prevent Congress from enacting toughened rules on the importation of forced‑labor products into our country. One of the good things Trump did was, towards the end of his four years, he started to vigorously enforce the statutes that are already on the books, about products that are made with forced and slave labor. Biden, to his credit, has continued tougher enforcement. Right now, the big struggle is not the enforcement, but enhancing those rules. Apple and all of these companies are now very much trying to prevent amendment of those laws. It's business, but it's also immoral. Question: It is not just big Wall Street firms. There are companies that print the Bible. Most Bibles are now printed in China. When President Trump imposed the tariffs, a lot of the Bible printers who depended on China actually went to Trump and said, "You cannot put those tariffs in because then the cost of Bibles will go up." Chang: Most everyone lobbies for China. We have to take away their incentive to do so. Question: What are the chances that China's going to invade Taiwan? Chang: There is no clear answer. There are a number of factors that promote stability. One of them is that, for China to invade Taiwan, Xi Jinping has to give some general or admiral basically total control over the Chinese military. That makes this flag officer the most powerful person in China. Xi is not about to do that. Moreover, the Chinese regime is even more casualty‑adverse than we are. Even if Beijing thinks it can take Taiwan by force, it is probably not going to invade because it knows an invasion would be unpopular with most people in China. It is not going to risk hundreds of thousands of casualties that would result from an invasion. The reason we have to be concerned is because it is not just a question of Xi Jinping waking up one morning and saying, "I want to invade Taiwan." The danger is the risk of accidental contact, in the skies or on the seas, around Taiwan. We know that China has been engaging in hostile conduct, and this is not just the incursions into Taiwan's air-defense identification zone. There are also dangerous intercepts of the US Navy and the US Air Force in the global commons. One of those accidents could spiral out of control. We saw this on April 1st, 2001, with the EP‑3, where a Chinese jet clipped the wing of that slow‑moving propeller plane of the US Navy. The only reason we got through it was that George W. Bush, to his eternal shame, paid China a sum that was essentially a ransom. He allowed our crew to be held for 11 days. He allowed the Chinese to strip that plane. This was wrong. This was the worst incident in US diplomatic history, but Bush's craven response did get us through it. Unfortunately, by getting through it we taught the Chinese that they can without cost engage in these dangerous maneuvers of intercepting our planes and our ships. That is the problem: because as we have taught the Chinese to be more aggressive, they have been. One of these incidents will go wrong. The law of averages says that. Then we have to really worry. Question: You don't think Xi thinks, "Oh well, we can sacrifice a few million Chinese"? Chang: On the night of June 15th, 2020, there was a clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers in Ladakh, in the Galwan Valley. That was a Chinese sneak attack on Indian-controlled territory. That night, 20 Indian soldiers were killed. China did not admit to any casualties. The Indians were saying that they killed about 45 Chinese soldiers that night. Remember, this was June 15th of 2020. It took until February of 2021 for China to admit that four Chinese soldiers died. TASS, the Russian news agency, recently issued a story reporting that 45 Chinese soldiers actually died that night. This incident shows you how risk‑averse and casualty‑averse the Chinese Communist Party is. They are willing to intimidate, they are willing to do all sorts of things. They are, however, loath to fight sustained engagements. Remember, that the number one goal of Chinese foreign policy is not to take over Taiwan. The number one goal of Chinese foreign policy is to preserve Communist Party rule. If the Communist Party feels that the Chinese people are not on board with an invasion of Taiwan, they will not do it even if they think they will be successful. Right now, the Chinese people are not in any mood for a full‑scale invasion of Taiwan. On the other hand, Xi Jinping has a very low threshold of risk. He took a consensual political system where no Chinese leader got too much blame or too much credit, because everybody shared in decisions, and Xi took power from everybody, which means, he ended up with full accountability, which means -- he is now fully responsible. In 2017, when everything was going China's way, this was great for Xi Jinping because he got all the credit. Now in 2021, where things are not going China's way, he is getting all the blame. The other thing, is that Xi has raised the cost of losing a political struggle in China. In the Deng Xiaoping era, Deng reduced the cost of losing a struggle. In the Maoist era, if you lost a struggle, you potentially lost your life. In Deng's era, if you lost a struggle, you got a nice house, a comfortable life. Xi Jinping has reversed that. Now the cost of losing a political struggle in China is very high. So there is now a combination of these two developments. Xi has full accountability. He knows that if he is thrown out of power, he loses not just power. He loses his freedom, his assets, potentially his life. If he has nothing to lose, however, it means that he can start a war, either "accidentally" or on purpose. He could be thinking, "I'm dying anyway, so why don't I just roll the dice and see if I can get out of this?" That is the reason why this moment is so exceedingly risky. When you look at the internal dynamics inside China right now, we are dealing with a system in crisis. Question: China has a conference coming up in a year or so. What does Chairman Xi want to do to make sure he gets through that conference with triumph? Chang: The Communist Party has recently been holding its National Congresses once every five years. If the pattern follows -- and that is an if -- the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party will be held either October or November of next year. This is an important Congress, more so than most of them because Xi Jinping is looking for an unprecedented third term as general secretary of the Communist Party. If you go back six months ago, maybe a year, everyone was saying, "Oh, Xi Jinping. No problem. He's president for life. He's going to get his third term. He will get his fourth term. He will get his fifth term, as long as he lives. This guy is there forever." Right now, that assumption is no longer valid. We do not know what's going to happen because he is being blamed for everything. Remember, as we get close to the 20th National Congress, Xi Jinping knows he has to show "success." Showing "success" could very well mean killing some more Indians or killing Americans or killing Japanese or something. We just don't know what is going to happen. Prior to the National Congress, there is the sixth plenum of the 19th Congress. Who knows what is going to happen there. The Communist Party calendar, as you point out, does dictate the way Xi Jinping interacts with the world. Question: Going back to the wing-clip incident, what should Bush have done? Chang: What Bush should have done is immediately demand the return of that plane. What he should have done was to impose trade sanctions, investment sanctions, whatever, to get our plane back. We were fortunate, in the sense that our aviators were returned, but they were returned in a way that has made relations with China worse, because we taught the Chinese regime to be more aggressive and more belligerent. We created the problems of today and of tomorrow. I would have imposed sanction after sanction after sanction, and just demand that they return the plane and the pilots. Remember, that at some point, it was in China's interests to return our aviators. The costs would have been too high for the Chinese to keep them. We did not use that leverage on them. While we are on this topic, we should have made it clear to the Chinese leadership that they cannot kill Americans without cost. Hundreds of thousands Americans have been killed by a disease that China deliberately spread. In one year, from 2020 to 2021, nearly 80,000 Americans died from fentanyl, which China has purposefully, as a matter of state and Communist Party policy -- sold to Americans. China is killing us. We have to do something different. I'm not saying that we have good solutions; we don't. But we have to change course. Question: Biden is continuing this hostage thing with Huawei, returning the CFO of Huawei in exchange for two Canadians. Have we taught the Chinese that they can grab more hostages? Chang: President Trump was right to seek the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies. Biden, in a deal, released her. She did not even have to plead guilty to any Federal crime. She signed a statement, which I hope we'll be able to use against Huawei. As soon as Meng was released, China released the "two Michaels," the two Canadians who were grabbed within days of our seeking extradition of Meng Wanzhou. In other words, the two Michaels were hostages. We have taught China that any time that we try to enforce our own laws, they can just grab Americans. They have grabbed Americans as hostages before, but this case is high profile. They grabbed Americans, and then they grabbed Canadians, and they got away with it. They are going to do it again. We are creating the incentives for Beijing to act even more dangerously and lawlessly and criminally in the future. This has to stop. Question: On the off-chance that the current leader does not maintain his position, what are your thoughts on the leaders that we should keep an eye on? Chang: There is no one who stands out among the members of the Politburo Standing Committee. That is purposeful. Xi Jinping has made sure that there is nobody who can be considered a successor; that is the last thing he wants. If there is a change in leadership, the new leader probably will come from Jiang Zemin's Shanghai Gang faction. Jiang was China's leader before Hu Jintao, and Hu came before Xi Jinping. There is now a lot of factional infighting. Most of the reporting shows that Jiang has been trying to unseat Xi Jinping because Xi has been putting Jiang's allies in jail. Remember, the Communist Party is not a monolith. It has a lot of factions. Jiang's faction is not the only one. There is something called the Communist Youth League of Hu Jintao. It could, therefore, be anybody. Question: Double question: You did not talk about Hong Kong. Is Hong Kong lost forever to the Chinese Communist Party? Second question, if you could, what are the three policies that you would change right away? Chang: Hong Kong is not lost forever. In Hong Kong, there is an insurgency. We know from the history of insurgencies that they die away -- and they come back. We have seen this in Hong Kong. The big protests in Hong Kong, remember, 2003, 2014, 2019. In those interim periods, everyone said, "Oh, the protest movement is gone." It wasn't. China has been very effective with its national security law, but there is still resistance in Hong Kong. There is still a lot of fight there. It may not manifest itself for quite some time, but this struggle is not over, especially if the United States stands behind the people there. Biden, although he campaigned on helping Hong Kong, has done nothing. On the second question, I would close China's four remaining consulates. I would also strip the Chinese embassy down to the ambassador and his personal staff. The thousands who are in Washington, DC, they would be out. I would also raise tariffs to 3,600%, or whatever. This is a good time to do it. We have supply chain disruptions. We are not getting products from China anyway. We can actually start to do this sort of stuff. The third thing, I would do what Pompeo did, just hammer those guys all the time verbally. People may think, "Those are just words." For communists, words are really important, because they are an insecure regime where propaganda is absolutely critical. I would be going after the Communists on human rights, I would be going after them on occupying the South China Sea, on Taiwan, unrelentingly -- because I would want to show the world that the United States is no longer afraid of China. We have taught the world that we are afraid of dealing with the Chinese. State Department people, they are frightened. We need to say to the Chinese regime, like Dulles, "I'm not afraid of you. I'm going after you, and I'm going to win." Tyler Durden Sun, 05/01/2022 - 23:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 2nd, 2022

MLS: The Opportunities and Pitfalls of a New Environment

Real estate is still local, and real estate is still about relationships and human connection. These truisms—understood more than a century ago when the telephone was still a novel concept—absolutely hold up today against a technologically superpowered landscape of wireless video home tours and machine learning algorithms, as well as the weight of billions in… The post MLS: The Opportunities and Pitfalls of a New Environment appeared first on RISMedia. Real estate is still local, and real estate is still about relationships and human connection. These truisms—understood more than a century ago when the telephone was still a novel concept—absolutely hold up today against a technologically superpowered landscape of wireless video home tours and machine learning algorithms, as well as the weight of billions in Wall Street capital. At the same time, using an old mantra like that to justify ignoring the fundamental ways listing, marketing and transacting real estate has necessarily evolved in the last century would be deeply misguided. Case in point: the MLS. An MLS database is an incredibly powerful tool, a fundamental part of real estate. It was a vital part of the real estate industry when it existed as a stack of papers covering a few townships, and remains vital as digitized, granular and nationwide. With many companies who manage or own this data moving toward more cooperation and consolidation, a flood of Wall Street money entering the sector and a big push toward standardization and data-sharing, there has never been a moment with more opportunity for change—both bad and good. “MLS clearly is not what it used to be,” says Teresa Kinney, CEO of the Miami Association of REALTORS® (MAR). “It’s become more than just the MLS.” Here are what MLS thought-leaders and industry insiders say are the biggest opportunities and biggest pitfalls for their industry going forward: Pitfall: Losing Focus MAR operates one of the larger MLSs in the country with over 60,000 members. Kinney tells RISMedia that one of the most important things her organization does is maintain a keen sense of the real estate fundamentals, even as Wall Street and tech start-ups come in with their own agendas or perspectives. “I have the practical background, because I was a REALTOR® for many, many years,” she says. “We have a unique capability of working with these companies to really customize and make their product more REALTOR® friendly and more consumer friendly.” With the burgeoning but accelerating influence of Big Tech and Big Finance in real estate, there is a real and present danger of losing sight of the real purpose of MLSs, letting them become gimmicky tech marketplaces or walled gardens of data to make an extra buck. Without maintaining their fundamental mission of providing a real, accessible service for real estate agents and consumers, there isn’t really anywhere for the industry to go—except down. At the same time, big money investments and savvy tech start-ups are offering ways to more effectively carry out this mission, forcing real estate professionals to walk a delicate line. “I think that foundation of all the organizations being able to put their data into this universal language is allowing them to create insights into the marketplace that we didn’t have before,” says Sam DeBord, founder of the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), an organization that seeks to standardize how MLS data is presented nationwide. RESO’s mission is at least partially to guide the industry through the growing pains of cooperation and consolidation. DeBord says RESO is explicitly working to educate tech investors and engineers on the needs of real estate professionals, and oversee an evolution that maintains connections and keeps MLSs on the same team. “We should always start building technology based on what we know is common across technology systems in the industry,” he says. “This is a space where competitors sort of let down their guard a little bit and do help and collaborate and educate—start ups and incumbents back and forth.” Without this kind of openness, companies are apt to use their data solely to maximize profit and market power, and competition among tech companies maximizes dollars instead of service. Art Carter, CEO of California Regional MLS (CRMLS) says that at an essential level, the data that MLSs curate needs to broadly serve brokerages (who really own it anyway) and consumers. He paraphrases a quip by RE/MAX co-founder and author Dave Liniger to describe the attitude of many newer players in the MLS industry. “It’s akin to people coming to a potluck with nothing but a fork,” he says. “People have to give in order to get out of this data hub…that’s really the thought process for us going forward, is making sure that value in equals value out.” From the broker perspective, too many people both in and outside of the industry are flitting from one new idea, product or approach to another, says Dan Forsman, CEO and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties. He calls this landscape “the age of the interloper.” “The interloper is someone trying to make money off of people who are cruising the internet, doing whatever,” he explains. “It is absolutely unequivocally…the thing that bothers me most. How do we as REALTORS®, brokers, individuals—respond to the interloper?” This poetic turn-of-phrase describes a real problem, Forsman says—a problem of balancing focus and commitment to the fundamentals, while still evolving into a dangerous new landscape. “It’s a dichotomy, it’s a really hard thing to contemplate,” Forsman sighs. Opportunity: Quantum Leap Having some of the keenest minds in tech and deepest pockets in Wall Street diving into the industry has its upside, of course. Carter says that the viability and “dynamic” of the MLS is not threatened by these powers, despite fear around the industry. “We are investing in technology,” he says. “We continue to be pretty bullish on the ability of the MLS to deliver in this new environment.” Out in the wild, there is a flourishing ecosystem of tech startups with the potential to take MLS data and do incredible new things with it. Though proptech has certainly seen its ups and downs in the last few years, MLS leaders say that a bevy of new ideas and new companies are just getting off the ground, and some are certain to debut with a splash. At MAR, Liz Sturrock is the chief of MLS and Innovation, providing the tech expertise for their MLS team. She says that there are “incredible opportunities” popping up all the time as start-ups pitch new ways to do things better, or even provide entirely new services. “They’ll come to us even pre-minimal viable product,” she says. “We can really help shape it what we want it to be. I don’t even know if I want to guess about what we need and don’t need, but it’s all about reducing friction and being easy to use.” MAR has utilized REALTOR® “scouts” that scour the tech sector for opportunities, Sturrock says, which illustrates just how much there is out there. Sturrock also references the National Association of REALTORS’® (NAR) expansion of its own tech outreach through a program called “REACH Labs,” connecting local associations in certain regions (Miami being one) with entrepreneurs and investors driving innovation. The fact that there is so much available right now offers a unique and maybe one-time chance for MLSs to take charge of the future—to be the entities on the crest of the wave, instead of falling behind a rush of more nimble, open-minded outsiders. “A lot of MLSs, in my opinion, are too dependent on outside vendors to provide most of their technology,” Carter says. Owning the tech or the companies that make it, as more and more MLSs have sought to do, is what makes a company a part of the tech boom instead of just a witness to it. With both consumers and agents expecting more based on what machine learning and automation can accomplish—particularly when it comes to granular data, speed and ease of access—MLSs have a chance to really push the envelope forward in a short period of time. Bill Fowler is currently working as a consultant after many years in tech and MLS with big names like Compass and Zillow. He told RISMedia earlier this year that he has “daily conversations” with new companies, many of whom have truly innovative and important ideas or products but have no clear path to bringing them to a wide audience. “I think it’s less about the MLSs cheating little fiefdoms of technology as it is about, how does Sacramento ever get exposure to the company in New Hampshire that has built the better mousetrap?” he asks. “Where is the mechanism for this ‘Shark Tank’ environment?” The good news is that the opportunities are there—that is, the technology, and the money to scale it. Fowler also highlights RESO, the REACH Program and a few other venture capital funds as expanding visibility and access. At the highest level, all this combines to create the potential for huge expansion and growth—for those who are proactive in participating in the new markets. “The consumer is exposed to some pretty cool stuff, and if we at the MLS level can’t get our arms around providing some of that pretty cool stuff to our membership, there’s risk there,” says Carter. Pitfall: Personalities and People Often what stands in the way of progress is quite simply, the people who don’t want to take that next step. Many in MLS spheres are afraid of losing the power, influence or markets they currently own. Others are afraid of the pushback that new technologies could incur from both agents and consumers. Finding common ground across 600 companies across 50 states, most used to operating independently, sometimes seems impossible. “My job is probably equal parts politician equal parts preacher,” Carter says. “I think my biggest challenge is to get people’s heads around the fact that there are some benefits to this aggregated cooperation.” Even when there is relatively broad consensus on certain ideas or issues, simply coordinating so many stakeholders is a constant challenge and can leave the larger industry slow to react or adapt. The MLS industry does not have the same national leadership structure or the mandatory standards of many other industries—which is not always a disadvantage but certainly makes moving together more difficult. Forsman says everyone who has been in the industry long enough has “in their mind’s eye” about what an ideal system or transaction looks like, but all of those differ from person to person and also run up against the open-ended, subjective nature of real estate. “You involve people, property, negotiations and circumstances. The thing about real estate is no two properties are alike,” he points out. “Autonomy doesn’t really exist in the real estate space.” There is no real mechanism to force people to get along or work towards common goals, especially when they are far removed geographically from one another. DeBord says the solution is to do what RESO is doing and create incentives for MLS operators to begin speaking the same language and understanding each other’s ideas, priorities and challenges. “Cooperation and compliance are the core values of what make an MLS different and make it great,” he asserts. This process is—and should remain—heavily democratic, DeBord also argues, describing how RESO bases its MLS standards off “a consortium of member businesses.” “We don’t usually tell the businesses what they need to do,” he says. “Businesses can go out…and build whatever they want to, but if they wanted to do it in a RESO standard way, then we could define how that data is structured.” Having a singular or more centralized method of hammering out these standards is even more important when new ideas and new technology are flooding the market. DeBord says that as something like 3D images or desktop appraisals become ubiquitous, RESO can bring together a multitude of approaches on how best to include them without a hundred different organizations experimenting in silos, potentially confusing consumers and creating inefficiencies for agents. Whether or not the inherently local nature of real estate makes a perfect set of national standards impossible is an open question. There clearly is room for more standardization, DeBord says, and people are beginning to realize it even as competition grows hotter. “Certainly there are times when MLSs want to eat each other’s lunches outside of RESO,” he laughs. “But there’s also a continued mindset shift to open standard, open source software—things that float all boats.” Carter says that historically, people in organized real estate are cautious to a fault—an attitude that sometimes must be overcome in order to move forward. “The face of organized real estate—if there was one face, it would have a facial tic, because we’re afraid of everything,” he quips. Opportunity: Competition Mindset MLSs have traditionally been seen as technology companies, most simply. Carter says that is not really true. “I’ve said this for a long period of time—I don’t necessarily run a technology company, but I do run a broker cooperative,” he says. “And that cooperative piece is what we really have to double down on.” Brokers are engaged in a “competitive alliance,” according to Carter, and should realize that the competition is over providing the best service for the consumer—which requires cooperation. Doubly so for MLSs, which now more than ever have to find ways to meet consumer expectations in the face of what Zillow and Redfin have been able to offer (and market). That flows up to the agent and broker, according to DeBord, who need to be able to offer buyers and sellers something accessible, simple and useful. “The brokers and the agents want efficient technology tools that are clear and straightforward to show their consumers,” says DeBord. “So they drive those consumer needs up to the MLS.” Letting decisions flow upward from the consumer instead of downward from the executive might seem like common sense, but of course it does not always work that way. Kinney says that when data shows that agents are using a platform, a database or a certain piece of software, MAR keeps offering it, even if those agents don’t make up a huge proportion of the company’s membership. “With 60,000 members, there is no one size that fits all,” she says. “And because of who we are, we don’t have to limit them to one. We can provide a lot of different options for them that work in the way that they want to work for that particular customer.” Admittedly, it requires a larger company to do this. Carter says he does not necessarily recommend that smaller MLSs try to go out and start buying multiple, semi-redundant platforms to serve a few thousand—or a few hundred—agents and brokers. Working together could make that possible—again, something that also requires people to change their mindset about what competition means. “If they think they’re going to go it on their own—probably not,” Carter says. “The power of ‘We’ is what we focus on. And as much as there is not a singular ‘We’ in the MLS industry, we have to get closer to that, and pretty quickly.” Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas, The post MLS: The Opportunities and Pitfalls of a New Environment appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaApr 19th, 2022

"Gradually, ...Then Suddenly!"

"Gradually, ...Then Suddenly!" Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog, “How did you go bankrupt?” Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.” - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises “I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.”  – John Adams Hemingway’s famous quote about going bankrupt connects with so many because it is true on a personal basis and a civilization basis. It applies to individuals and empires in decline – like the American democracy. John Adams realized two centuries ago democracy was no better than monarchy or aristocracy over the long haul. We were handed a Republic by Franklin and his fellow revolutionaries, but we failed to keep it almost from the very birth of this nation. As we rush towards our World War 3 rendezvous with destiny, aided and abetted by politicians placed in power by globalist billionaires hellbent on the destruction of our way of life, so they own everything and you own nothing, I can’t help but ponder who is to blame and could we have avoided this dystopian outcome. The United States has been going bankrupt gradually for the last fifty years, both financially, intellectually, and morally. Nixon closing the gold window in 1971 and opening the debt door to morally bankrupt bankers and politicians set in motion a downward spiral accelerating at hyper-speed as we speak. The American Empire was born in the shattered global debris of World War II with the Bretton Woods agreement, which left the USD as the dominant currency in world trade, specifically as the settlement currency for all oil transactions. The empire has been sustained by currency supremacy, military might, and until 1980, manufacturing superiority. Once the most highly educated nation on the planet, decades of lowering the bar, less than mediocre union teachers, and replacing education with indoctrination, has created generations of ignorant zombies incapable and uninterested in critical thought. The road to bankruptcy was very gradual at the outset of empire, with the national debt topping out at $269 billion, 119% of GDP, in 1946. In 1960 it had only grown to $286 billion but had dropped to 54% of GDP. Rebuilding the world and being the dominant economic power paid huge dividends. After a decade of guns, butter and welfare programs, the debt grew to $398 billion, but continued to drop as a percentage of GDP to 35% in 1971. After decoupling from gold, the national debt soared to $908 billion by 1980, inflation surged to 15%, and Volcker had to raise interest rates to 20% to avert disaster. What happened over the next forty years was mind boggling in its recklessness, shortsightedness, and acquiescence to the Wall Street cabal. These decade-by-decade increases were obscene: 1980               $908B            32% of GDP 1990               $3.2T              54% of GDP 2000               $5.7T              52% of GDP 2010               $13.6T            90% of GDP 2020               $27.8T            129% of GDP Today             $30.3T            130% of GDP Rogoff and Reinhart postulated in 2010 that once a country passes 90% of GDP, economic growth slows dramatically, and the chances of financial crisis increase exponentially. With annual GDP growth of about 2% since 2010, their theory has proven accurate. Now we approach the existential financial crisis which could initiate the “going bankrupt suddenly” phase of our empire of debt. Larry Kotlikoff, Harvard, and Wharton educated economic professor at Boston University, estimates the unfunded welfare liabilities of the United States exceeds $210 trillion. We are a long way from when our Founders handed us a republic. “American money was never more sound, or banking more free, than 200 years ago. Since then, it’s been a long steady decline from the gold standard and competitive banking to our Fed-run system of inflated paper currency, deposit insurance, and perpetually shaky banks on the dole.” – Lew Rockwell There is no conceivable way this debt can ever be repaid, therefore it will not. It’s just pure math, which the average dumbed down American chooses not to question or dispute. In their own lives they need to make enough income to make their mortgage payment and car loan payment. It’s the same for the government. The only way debt obligations can be met is for tax revenue to exceed expenses. Borrowing to make debt and interest payments is unsustainable, reckless, and an example of imperial empire arrogance. The only unknown now is whether the debt is defaulted upon, it is hyperinflated away, or some sort of debt jubilee and currency collapse makes it mute. No matter the solution, the people will bear the brunt of the pain and drastic diminishment of their standard of living. Those in control will position themselves to benefit from whatever scheme is implemented to eliminate the debt. The current trend of running trillions in deficits per year is unsustainable and already resulting in raging inflation, declining GDP, and pushing the world towards a global depression. There is no disputing the facts I have presented. These facts trump the willful ignorance of the masses and the false narratives of the ruling class, along with their media mouthpieces pretending all is well. Those controlling the levers of power know this shitshow can’t go on. They have fully exhausted their propaganda tools, financial derivative schemes, and monetary machinations, leaving them nothing but crashing the system and implementing a Great Reset, which would keep them in control and the rest of us in squalor and subservience. We’ve been on the road to perdition for a long time, but we came to a peak on that highway in 2019 and the path has been straight down since, with our chariot of fire accelerating at breakneck speed towards its final destination with catastrophe and ruin. The rise and fall of the American Empire will be far more rapid than the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. With the inept and reckless leadership in place presently, I only hope we still have a nation after they successfully provoke World War 3. The gradually part of going bankrupt is over. Since the end of fiscal year 2019, our fearless leaders have added $7.6 trillion to the national debt, a 33% increase in less than three years. Meanwhile, the duplicitous Fed has added $5 trillion to their balance sheet, a 125% increase, while keeping interest rates at zero and creating a tsunami of inflation, crushing the poor and middle class. But at least the Wall Street bankers are raking in record bonuses, while still sucking at the teat of Fed QE to infinity. The blatant disregard for the lives of average Americans, while propping up the Wall Street cabal, billionaire oligarchs, and corrupt politicians should be met with pitchforks and torches in a just world. But that is not the world we occupy. The last time inflation was this high (15% as measured in 1980), Volker jacked the Fed Funds rate to 20%. Spineless Jerome Powell has the Fed Funds rate at .33% today. It’s almost as if they are promoting record high inflation to make the national debt load less burdensome. Destroying the finances of hundreds of millions, creating global energy and food shortages, and instigating World War 3 as a consequence of their actions is just a minor irritation for the global elite. In fact, it appears to be part of Schwab’s Great Reset plan. At first it seemed outrageous to think anyone would want famine, starvation, energy shortages, economic depression, and global war, but watching the insane decision making of politicians, trumpeted by the Deep State bootlickers in the media, has convinced me this is chapter 2 in their Great Reset book of horrors. Once you wrap your head around how vile, evil, and demented those who are pulling the strings behind this Great Reset are, your eyes are open to how far they are willing to go to institute their plan. It appears they will stop at nothing, kill as many people as necessary, create maximum chaos and pain, wreck any civic cohesiveness left, and destroy all moral and legitimate norms of society, in order to increase their control, power and wealth on this earth. They hold all the cards. They control the governments, corporations, banks, legacy media, social media, entertainment industries, military industrial complex, sickcare Big Pharma complex, and the mental processes of the masses through their mind control/propaganda technology. Their hubris and arrogance have reached peak altitude and exuberance. They believe they are invincible. That will be their fatal weakness. The sheer cavalcade of lies, misinformation, purposely created chaos, engineered conflict, and financial market manipulation, make the daily intrigues confusing and open to misinterpretation. There are various factions competing to control the future course of history. There is not a clear good versus evil battle underway. Sometimes it is tough to distinguish the New World Order Great Reset crowd from those opposing Schwab and his Davos billionaire satanists. I know we would like to root for the good guys, but there are no good guys running any country on this earth. Only bad guys, willing to sell their souls, are ever elevated to positions of power. They are selected by oligarchs, not elected by the people. The western propaganda spewing media machine specializes in demonizing those they are paid to demonize (Putin, Trump, non-vaxxers), while glorifying anyone the ruling elite have chosen to use to further their agenda (Zelensky, Fauci, vaxxers). Putin is most certainly a bad guy, ruthless in his consolidation of power, serious in enforcing his beliefs through political or military measures, and willing to use any means necessary to achieve his aims. But he is only one of many bad men leading their countries across the globe. The Panama Papers show Zelinsky to be a corrupt puppet of Ukrainian oligarchs. He was a two-bit actor installed by the US, Soros, and NATO to play a role. As a reward, he has millions parked in offshore bank accounts and a $35 million mansion in Florida. He’s such a democratic icon, he’s spent the last eight years bombing Russian speaking civilians in Donbass and Donetsk, and he outlawed all opposition political parties and media outlets last week. It seems our far-left media outlets have no problem supporting actual far-right Nazis in Ukraine, as long as they are paid to do so. They are nothing but faux-journalist whores. The fact is Biden, Trudeau, Macron, Johnson, Erdogan, Xi, and the leaders of every country in the world are bad guys. Venezuela and Iran were evil, until our gas prices hit $4.25 a gallon because of Biden’s Russian sanctions. Now Biden is frantically negotiating with these “bad guys” to get their oil. Orwell nailed it seven decades ago with: “The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” – Orwell – 1984 We have always been at war with Russia, supporting the noble democracy of Ukraine, and fully supportive of those benevolent dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and China when in our economic interest, no matter how many people they kill, imprison, or behead. Of course, if you don’t toe the line of the petrodollar, you get Iraq’d, Libya’d, or Syria’d. Those in control of the message just move from villain to villain in the their never ending narrative. First Trump, then Covid, then the anti-vaxxers, and now Putin. The real villains are the media and those who manipulate the minds of the masses to achieve their insidious aims. Hypocrisy is not a characteristic that registers with empires in their late stages. Bribing, bullying, and bombing are what the American Empire does to enforce their waning power upon other nations. The over-the-top sanctions against Russia have accelerated the American decline into bankruptcy, while ignorant Americans remain distracted by their iGadgets, NCAA tournament pools and the latest season of American Idol. Every conflict is manufactured to benefit the global oligarchs, the military industrial complex, and those seeking to keep the masses enslaved in debt and distracted by technology, entertainment, and hatred towards whoever they are directed to hate by the government/media propaganda machine. It’s always about wealth, power, and control. The key financial arrangement sustaining the American Empire, even as it internally crumbles from cultural rot, institutionalized corruption, and glorified ignorance of reality, is the global dominance of the U.S. dollar in trade. This is why the empire’s bankruptcy has been gradual and to many, unnoticeable. But Dementia Joe has accidentally, or purposefully as part of the Great Reset agenda, set in motion the rapid spiral into bankruptcy and collapse of the short-lived America Empire (1946 – 2022). By creating a global energy crisis over a border dispute 6,000 miles from our shores, with no strategic interest to our country, Biden has initiated the final countdown of the petrodollar as the global settlement currency for all energy transactions. Petrodollar warfare has been the policy of the U.S. for decades as economic imperialism has been enforced militarily against Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, and Venezuela. Trying to enforce this policy against Russia will be a bridge too far. And the consequences are already being felt. Biden’s sanctions against Russian energy are backfiring and will bring an end to the petrodollar regime. Russia is demanding payment from Europe for their oil, gas, and coal in rubles, rather than USD. Any propaganda being peddled about the U.S. filling the gap is nothing but bullshit, as proven by this chart:   Via  Eurostat.   Russia supplies 47% of the EU coal demand, 41% of their natural gas demand, and 27% of their oil demand. They will pay Russia in rubles or have their societies grind to a halt, with starvation, chaos, depression, and revolution as the result. This doesn’t even consider Russian wheat and fertilizer exports, vital to Africa and the Middle East. Living within the propaganda bubble encasing the United States, where only the Deep State surveillance state sanctioned narrative is allowed to be broadcast by the dying legacy media and controlled social media propaganda platforms, you would be under the mistaken belief the entire world is in lockstep with Biden and his Great Reset cronies. The vast majority of the world (countries in gray in the map below) are not supporting the sanctions imposed by Biden. As already noted, even the European countries in yellow are ignoring the energy sanctions. Biden has pushed Russia and China closer together, with the petroyuan rising as an alternative to the petrodollar. India has reached agreement with Russia regarding oil imports. Africa and South America, with all their natural resources, have told Biden to shove it. America’s bullying tactics are now giving rise to alternative currency schemes, such as cryptocurrencies and discussions about a gold backed yuan and gold backed ruble. We stand on the precipice of a global conflagration, with talk of nuclear war bantered about by unserious low-IQ government bureaucrats, vacuous bimbo journalists and talking heads on the boob tube, and spurred on by the despicable hero worship of the textbook symbol of this farce – a sitcom actor who played a president in a TV show, funded by a billionaire oligarch, who was installed as president of Ukraine in a campaign funded by that billionaire, has ruled as a U.S. puppet, and who the Hollywood elite wanted to share the stage with the most dim-witted virtue signaling narcissists on the planet at the Oscars to call for the West to intervene in his losing battle and start World War 3. Instead they virtue signaled their support for Zelensky during the ceremonies. The Hollywood elite ignore the actual Nazis fighting for Zelensky, his banning of political opponents and media outlets, and his government not allowing transgenders to flee the country because they are men. He belongs on-stage at the Oscars with the freaks, frauds, degenerates, pedophiles, and hypocritical scumbags who make up the American entertainment industry. He would have gotten a standing ovation for being such a glorious upstanding symbol of democracy, freedom, and the transvestite way. He could have stripped down, grabbed his guitar, and performed for a worldwide audience, while begging for missiles, fighter jets, tanks and drones. We should all be laughing at this farce, but Zelensky and his handlers, Biden and his handlers, along with the other EU/NATO jokers and fools, have chosen to provoke Putin into war, and are now ratcheting up the rhetoric and sanctions to the point where a wider conflict is all but ensured. These reckless psychopaths clearly have not studied history or human nature when it comes to how wars can escalate rapidly with unanticipated outcomes and death on a massive scale. In a recent communication with writer Margaret Anna Alice, she described perfectly why we are headed into a horrific period in history, as the bloodiest chapter of this Fourth Turning hurtles towards its climax: “The lethal combination of incompetency, obliviousness, hubris, psychopathy, narcissism, megalomania, and every other dark triad trait is on full display in those purporting to be our leaders.” With it being quite apparent there are no good guy leaders in the world, trying to figure out the least worst outcome of this current episode of As the World Burns becomes difficult to grasp. I am convinced this engineered conflict in Ukraine is part of the bigger Great Reset plan of the global elites. But writers I respect have differing viewpoints on whether Putin is playing his part in this scheme for a new world order or whether he and Xi are partnering to fight Soros, Schwab, Gates, and the Global Reset co-conspirators. Based on what I’ve observed, I don’t believe all these bad men have the exact same goals for how the world should be run and who should run it. But no matter who wins, the winners want more power, more wealth, more control, and an autocracy, with them calling the shots. When I take into account all that has happened since 2014, who has been calling the shots, who was getting paid off, and the families implicated in this Ukrainian debacle, I conclude the Great Reset collaborators see this war as the next step (after the Covid scamdemic) in their Great Reset – purposely provoking Putin into attacking and now believing they can bleed him dry by funneling arms and cash into Ukraine. Why did the Clinton Foundation receive more “donations” from the Ukraine, prior to the 2014 CIA coup, than any country on earth? Biden was involved in the coup to overthrow a democratically elected president, friendly towards Russia. There was no conflict within Ukraine prior to the coup. No death. No destruction. So, who is to blame for the bloodshed now? It’s not Putin. Biden’s crackhead son raked in millions from selling influence to the “Big Guy”, with the U.S. installed puppet presidents doing as they were told by Soros and his U.S. surveillance state agents. There has been a simmering conflict since Putin annexed Crimea, shortly after the coup, and Ukraine began attacking the eastern Russian speaking provinces. The ratcheting up of attacks in those eastern provinces and the rhetoric about Ukraine joining NATO is what provoked Putin to attack. Despite the all-out propaganda campaign, Russia is winning and will win against Ukraine alone. This is the point in history when the Great Reset acolytes have decided they can accomplish multiple goals by turning Ukraine into a nightmarish quagmire of death and destruction, fueled by a never ending flow of armaments into this war zone, as a means to overthrow Putin, create food shortages, raise the cost of fossil fuels to astronomical heights, implement further restrictions on civil rights, increase technological controls over the populace, and institute a Chinese like social credit scoring system to enforce obedience and compliance with government demands. The Ukrainian people are just cannon fodder to these evil men. After two years of demanding submission from the peasants regarding lockdowns, masking and vaccine mandates, the ruling elite believe they will be able to enforce food and energy restrictions with the same ease upon the American people. This is where I believe their master plan goes awry. Putin will not be cowed by Biden’s toothless sanctions, empty threats, and pathetic tough guy rhetoric. He will use any means necessary to defeat his foes. Economic sanctions are an act of war. Supplying his enemy with weapons to kill Russians is an act of war. NATO and the U.S. are one miscalculation away from starting WW3. At a minimum, Biden has pushed China and Russia into closer cooperation as a new economic bloc. Biden’s weakness and inability to comprehend global strategy has probably convinced China they can annex Taiwan without the U.S. intervening in a meaningful way, other than easily avoided sanctions and threats. The new world order may end up revolving around China, with Russia and India as strategic partners and the U.S. and EU as outcasts. The underlying anger in the country is bubbling to the surface. The raging inflation is crushing poor and middle-class families. Food and energy are the two largest monthly expenditures for families struggling to survive in this Federal Reserve induced billionaire boom society. When diesel fuel supplies dwindle to nothing, destroying our just in time, truck dependent supply chain, and real food shortages start inflicting real pain, civil disobedience and rioting will occur which will make the BLM riots looks like child’s play. When people no longer have anything to lose, they will lose it and start looking for the culprits who stole their livelihoods and future. I don’t believe their propaganda machine will be able to convince the masses this was the fault of Trump or right wing conspiracists. Their pain and suffering are due to Federal Reserve bankers, corrupt politicians of the uni-party, and the media who has lied to them non-stop for the last decade. Woke is going to mean something different in the near future. Pugnacious Putin has unwittingly, or possibly purposefully, initiated the “sudden” phase of the demise of the crumbling American Empire. A PR campaign and “USD subsidies” (aka bribes) to foreign countries will not save us now. Biden lit the fuse, and it is just a matter of when it blows. And does it just blow up the remnants of our empire, or the whole world? No one knows the answer to that question, but the future of civilization on earth depends on the answer. Most of the world continues to go about their daily lives staring at their phones, oblivious to the danger of having angry senile sociopaths and egomaniacal billionaires controlling the use of nuclear weapons. We are one rash arrogant choice by a low IQ psychopath politician from the final scene in the Planet of the Apes. “You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!” – George Taylor Are we destined to be victims? This Ukraine war has revealed both parties fully support never ending war. Left and right media outlets have been spewing the anti-Russian propaganda in lockstep. What has been set in motion will not be fixed at the ballot box, as if voting matters anymore in this empire of lies and deceit. Armed insurrection would not prevail with the current configuration of our society. The only option is to organize in local communities of like-minded people to try and survive the coming storm. Get out of cities. Prep as much as you are able, with enough food, water, and fuel to sustain your family for an extended period of time. Stock up on guns, ammo, cash, gold, silver, and barterable items. On whatever plot of land you occupy, try to raise some food, and if possible become friendly with local farmers. No one can escape what is coming, as it will be global in nature, but you can take steps now to increase your chances of survival. Our republic has degenerated into despotism, we’ve willingly relinquished our freedoms and liberties for the supposed safety and security of a Big Brother surveillance state, and now we will suffer the consequences of these cowardly actions. Life in America is about to become far harder than our generations of snowflakes ever anticipated. Those with no survival skills will not survive. If you are not prepared in mind, body, and spirit for what is coming, your future will be bleak. Only those already awake are likely to read this anyway, so good luck and Godspeed to you all. “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”  - John Adams “Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms.” -  Aristotle *  *  * The corrupt establishment will do anything to suppress sites like the Burning Platform from revealing the truth. The corporate media does this by demonetizing sites like mine by blackballing the site from advertising revenue. If you get value from this site, please keep it running with a donation. Tyler Durden Mon, 03/28/2022 - 17:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMar 28th, 2022

An engineer dreamed of being Porsche"s first female CEO, but built a period product startup with her dad

Nayca is an unobtrusive, heart-shaped heating pad that you can place directly on your stomach between your underwear and pants or skirt. "Bruno has never played the father card — nor I the daughter card." Carina Hader studied aerospace engineering and dreamed of becoming CEO of Porsche. Due to a personal problem, all this changed and she decided to start her own business. She founded Nayca, which makes a heating pad that helps with period pain, with her father Bruno. At some point in life, Carina Heidi Hader's main aspiration was to be the first woman to become CEO of Porsche. "That was my goal for a very long time, it was burned into my brain," she told Insider. Hader really enjoyed working as an engineer at the car manufacturer and felt she had what it would take to be a leader. "I was promoted a lot at Porsche and I liked it there, but in the back of my mind I was always thinking 'what if I do something completely different?'" she said. Over time, this thought matured in the back of her mind. Finally, the aerospace engineering graduate decided to found her own startup for period products. She did this with her father Bruno, a marketing expert with years of experience. He was also looking to do something new after leaving his corporate job. It seemed the perfect opportunity to start a business together.When Carina Hader told her father about her idea to make a reusable, tech-powered heating pad for women with period pain, he was surprised and kept silent at first. "It's not a topic you typically talk about with your father, although even before we started the company, we hardly had any taboo topics," Carina Hader said. But after some market research, Bruno Hader realized that there was big market potential, and he was quickly convinced.The pre-sale sold out within 24 hoursThe engineer herself struggles with menstrual pain, which isn't exactly practical when you work a lot as a consultant and travel frequently. "You can't just whip out the hot water bottle in a meeting and ask for a kettle," she said.That's where she got the idea. She decided to create an unobtrusive, heart-shaped heating pad called Nayca that you can place directly on your stomach between your underwear and pants or skirt. It heats up at the touch of a button and is always ready to use. Suppliers and producers have already been found by the father and daughter's company, which they've called Cebeha2 GmbH. The pre-production phase is currently underway. The online store has been officially open for a few weeks, and customers can now pre-order the heating pad. However, there's currently still a delivery time of 12 weeks. But that doesn't seem to have bothered customers. In July 2021, the Haders launched a pre-sale in which all planned heating pads were sold out within 24 hours. "That was our proof of concept and confirmation that the clientele really wants our product," said Carina Hader.Last year, she said, Cebeha2 GmbH already generated five-figure sales — without a product that could be shipped. For now, the small company isn't advertising. "We can't take on too much at the moment because we're bootstrapped," Hader explained.Bootstrapped funding means that the startup has a very tight budget and scarce resources. The goal is to avoid spending while maximizing revenue. The product has impressed judges in startup competitionsWith her concept, as well as her cheerful charisma and a hands-on mentality, the engineer has really impressed in startup competitions.In 2019, she took part in the Grace Summercamp, an accelerator program for women startup teams. As recently as November 2021, she won Douglas' "Beauty Futures" startup competition in the "Beauty Brand" category, beating out 196 startups from 23 countries. Industry leaders such as Douglas CEO Tina Müller and digital head Vanessa Stützle, as well as investor Lea-Sophie Cramer were enthusiastic about Hader and Nayca after her pitch.Hader won the chance to sell her product on Douglas' platforms.Currently, Hader is in negotiations with Douglas on what a collaboration might look like. "For us, the cooperation with Douglas is a great opportunity, but also a great challenge," she said.Because we're bootstrapped and work with a tight budget, we have to feel our way and we can't supply all stores right now," she added. Both sides hope that sales via Douglas can start next year. The founders work on an equal footing"Bruno has never played the father card — nor I the daughter card; we work absolutely as equals," said Carina Hader. "Of course, we also discuss a lot and have tough conversations as co-founders when it comes to strategy or purchasing, for example, but it's always on an equal footing," she added. Since Hader co-founded with her father, rather than it being handed down, she doesn't see her company as a family business in the classic sense."But if I were to pass the company on to the next generation at some point, I might think about it again if Porsche came knocking with the CEO position," Hader said. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 6th, 2022

January 2022: A Game-Changing Moment Between Russia, America, & The World

January 2022: A Game-Changing Moment Between Russia, America, & The World Authored by Tim Kirby via The Strategic Culture Foundation, What Moscow is really asking for is to redraw the borders of influence between Russia and the West. One of the most frequently asked questions about U.S.-Russian relations over the last few years has been “have we hit rock bottom?”. No matter how bad things seem, about every six months a few Congressmen with questionable motivations come up with a new pack of sanctions or other threats to make the situation get just a bit worse. After many years of this it seems as though there is always room for relations to somehow plummet even further down the dank shaft they are in. However, Washington may have run out of ideas and threats as both sides of Cold War 2.0 are set to meet around January 10th right after the holiday season in Russia officially ends to build a solid mutually approved deal so that hopefully U.S.-Russian relations can finally be exposed to daylight again. Image: Comically bad relations between nuclear powers are still a great danger even after the Cold War. From a Russian standpoint there is finally some cause for optimism due to the fact that they have chosen a logical hardline position and yet Washington, understanding it, has still agreed to discuss it. Although American diplomats and politicians (like those in many countries) are very skilled at nodding their heads for a couple hours then just doing whatever the hell the want to give the illusion of sticking out an olive branch, this time the Russian position is so clear cut that if it were completely off the table Washington wouldn’t even bother participating. They would be more likely to throw a PR hissyfit via the Mainstream Media accusing the Russians of X,Y, and Z, than listen to a position they find revolting for hours of negotiations. Essentially, the American side at least humoring Russia’s demands is a positive step for sure. Ultimately the Russians want a Multipolar World Order in which they are one of the poles, for Washington this has been an absolutely unacceptable vision that is directly opposed to their Monopolar/Pax Americana. Small-minded clowns can say the problems between Russia and America are cultural misunderstandings or rooted in buzzwords like “Human Rights” but the real truth is rooted in these two competing visions for the Geopolitical layout of the 21st century. Based on this desire to have a Multipolar World and avoid a WWIII scenario in the process, this is why the Russians have now issued their hardline stance of “no more NATO expansion”. According to this article by RT, the overall demand from Moscow is as follows… “The talks, due to be held on January 10, will focus on two publicly released draft treaties that include a list of promises Russia wants to obtain from the US and NATO. As well as pledges that the bloc won’t expand eastwards, the proposals also include the end of Western cooperation with post-Soviet countries, the removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe, and the withdrawal of NATO troops and missiles away from the Russian border.” Reading between the lines we can see that what Moscow is really asking for is to redraw the borders of influence between Russia and the West, which in the context of a Monopolar World is essentially demanding for it to be dismantled. This means that if Washington at the very least agrees to the death of NATO expansion, and certainly if it stops supporting puppet regimes on former Soviet territory, then January 2022 will be the official birth month of a Multipolar World. It will be a great opportunity for the producers of collectable coins and stamps to cash in for sure. Image: The situation will change radically and instantly in Ukraine if Washington agrees to give up on it. Perhaps you see in these words naive optimism coming from an American deep behind the Russian lines who would benefit from having better relations between these great nations. When Biden came into office during that strange election cycle most experts expected a resurgence of the America of old, coming out guns blazing from a foreign policy standpoint. The brief anomaly that was Trump’s four-year term with no new wars was surely going to end. But the Biden period has seen the sloppy retreat from Afghanistan, and the shift from fighting the “Global War on Terror” to dealing with Russia and China – essentially what Trump wanted to happen mostly minus the “Russia” part. The Global War on Terror which really defined the essence of the Pax Americana period has just up and vanished and this is not by chance or to woo the Russkies into a false sense of security. Biden unblocking Nord Stream 2 to get the Russians to talk was a sign of weakness never before shown. The fact that the American side has read Russia’s demands for NATO expansion and influence on their former territory and not laughed, but agreed to discuss it is huge. Syria and the Ukraine were supposed to lock Russia into two new “Vietnam” scenarios, the former turning out to be a relatively cheap victory for Moscow with Damascus doing the hard fighting and the latter never truly getting off the ground. The various sanctions packages were so incremental that they actually gave the Capitalist (or State-Capitalist) Russian economy plenty of time to adapt and thrive under them. Now there seems to be nothing left but to threaten (again) to boot Russia from SWIFT, but even that is apparently beyond the means of Biden’s Washington. Things have become much different. As you can see the “Russia Question” is much more difficult when the goofiness of a Khruschev-style Communist system is removed, America is in decline and Washington may be very willing to just “give the damn Russians” control over their traditional 1/7 of the world’s surface and be done with it. The Russians, despite what CNN will tell you, have become ideologically inwardly focused and are not on the same mission of “Internationalism” that they were under Communism. Moscow will be happy to have its Soviet borders essentially restored, and have NATO’s goodies and America’s nukes pushed back from their new fancy sphere of influence. At this point both sides would benefit from redrawing the map, meaning that it is very possible, and things in our world which have changed so much recently will yet again go through a restructuring process. January 2022 will be a very big month for Geopolitics. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/02/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

Escobar: Putin, Xi Running Circles Around Biden"s Hybrid War

Escobar: Putin, Xi Running Circles Around Biden's Hybrid War Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Cradle, Russia and China's announcement of an independent financial trading platform will free nations under US sanctions from western intrusion into their commercial activities... Vladimir Putin got straight to the point. At the opening of his one hour and fourteen minute video conversation with Xi Jinping on 15 December, he described Russia-China relations as “an example of genuine inter-state cooperation in the 21st century.” Their myriad levels of cooperation have been known for years now – from trade, oil and gas, finance, aerospace and the fight against Covid-19, to the progressive interconnection of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). But now the stage was set for the announcement of a serious counter-move in their carefully coordinated ballet opposing the relentless Hybrid War/Cold War 2.0 combo deployed by Empire. As Assistant to the President for Foreign Policy Yuri Ushakov succinctly explained, Putin and Xi agreed to create an “independent financial structure for trade operations that could not be influenced by other countries.” Diplomatic sources, off the record, confirmed the structure may be announced by a joint summit before the end of 2022. This is a stunning game-changer in more ways than one. It had been extensively discussed in previous bilaterals and in preparations for BRICS summits – mostly centered on increasing the share of yuan and rubles in Russia-China settlements, bypassing the US dollar, and opening new stock market options for Russian and Chinese investors. Now we’ve come to the crunch. And the catalyzing event was none other than US hawks floating the – financially nuclear – idea of expelling Russia from SWIFT, the messaging network used by 11,000+ banks in over 200 countries, as well as financial institutions, for rapid money transfers worldwide. Cutting off Russia from SWIFT would be part of a harsh new sanctions package developed in response to an ‘invasion’ of Ukraine that will never happen – mainly because the only ones praying for it are professional NATO warmongers. Profiting from a strategic blunder Once again, an American strategic blunder offers the Russia-China self-described “comprehensive strategic partnership” the chance to advance their coordination. Ushakov put it very diplomatically: it’s time to bypass a SWIFT mechanism “influenced by third countries” to form “an independent financial structure.” That amounts to a serious game-changer for the entire Global South – as scores of nations yearn to be released from a de facto US dollar dictatorship, complete with recurring Fed quantitative easing circus packages. Russia and China have been experimenting with their alternative payment systems for quite a while now: the Russian SPFS (System for Transfer of Financial Messages) and the Chinese CIPS (Cross Border Interbank Payment System). It won’t be easy, as the most powerful Chinese banks are deep into SWIFT and have expressed their reservations about SPFS. Yet, they will have to inevitably integrate prior to the launch of the new mechanism, possibly in late 2022. Once the most important Russian and Chinese banks – from Sberbank to the Bank of China – adopt the system, the path opens for other banks across Eurasia and the Global South to join in. In the long run, SWIFT, prone to non-stop American political interference, will be increasingly marginalized, or restricted to Atlanticist latitudes. Bypassing the US dollar, on trade and all sorts of financial settlements, is an absolutely central plank of the ever-evolving Russia-China notion of a multipolar world. The road will be long, of course, especially when it comes to offering a solid counterpoint to the US-controlled global financial system, a maze that includes the humongous investment houses of the BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street variety, with their interlocking shareholding of virtually every major multinational company. Yet a SWIFT escape will rapidly gain momentum, because it is inextricably linked to a series of developments that Putin-Xi touched upon in their conversation, the most important of which are: 1. The progressive interconnection of BRI and EAEU, offering expanding roles to the BRICS-run New Development Bank (NDB) as well as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). 2. The increasing geopolitical and geo-economic reach of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), especially after the admission of Iran in October. 3. And crucially, the upcoming Chinese presidency of the BRICS in 2022. China in 2022 will invest deeply in BRICS+. This expanded BRICS club will be linked to a development process that includes: 1. The consolidation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – a massive East Asia trade deal uniting China, the ASEAN 10 and Japan, and South Korea, as well as Australia and New Zealand. 2. The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA). 3. And the memoranda of understanding signed between the EAEU and MERCOSUR and between the EAEU and ASEAN. Anchoring West Asia   Yaroslav Lissovolik, one of the world’s leading experts on BRICS+, argues that it’s now time for BRICS+ 2.0, operating in a system that opens “the possibility for bilateral and plurilateral agreements to complement the core network of regional alliances formed by BRICS countries and their respective regional neighbors.” So if we’re talking about a major qualitative jump in terms of economic development across the Global South, the question is inevitable. What about West Asia? All these interconnections, plus an escape from SWIFT, will certainly profit the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), arguably the flagship BRI project, to which Beijing plans to annex Afghanistan. CPEC will be progressively connected to the future Iran-China corridor via Afghanistan, part of the 20 year Iran-China strategic deal in which BRI projects will be prominently featured. Iran and China already trade in yuan and rials, so settlements between Iran and China in a non-SWIFT mechanism will be a given. What happened to Iran is a classic example of SWIFT becoming hostage of imperial political manipulation. Iranian banks were expelled from SWIFT in 2012, because of pressure from the usual suspects. In 2016, access was restored as part of the JCPOA, clinched in 2015. Yet in 2018, under the Trump administration, Iran was once again cut off from SWIFT. None of that will ever happen with Iran joining the new Russia-China mechanism. And that leads us to the interconnection of China’s BRI expansion in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The reconstruction of Syria may be largely financed via the non-SWIFT mechanism. Same for China buying Iraqi energy. Same for the reconstruction of a Yemen possibly hosting a Chinese-owned port, part of the “string of pearls.” Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Israel may remain in the US financial sphere of influence, or lack thereof. And even if there is no BRICS nation anchoring West Asia, and no regional integration economic agreement on the horizon, the role of the economic integrator is bound to be eventually played by China. China will play a similar role to Brazil anchoring MERCOSUR, Russia anchoring the EAEU and South Africa anchoring the SADC/SACU. Both BRI and the EAEU will get a tremendous boost by bypassing SWIFT. You simply can’t go multipolar if you trade using (devalued) imperial legal tender. BRI, EAEU and those interlocking economic development agreements, combined with digital technology, will be integrating billions of people in the Global South. Think of a possible, auspicious future spelling out cheap telecom delivering financial services and world market access, in a non-dollar environment, to all those who have been so far cut off from a truly globalized economy. Tyler Durden Sun, 12/19/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 19th, 2021