Advertisements


Gave: The End Of The Unipolar Era

Gave: The End Of The Unipolar Era Authored by Louis-Vincent Gave via Gavekal Research, Investors today must deal with the effects of not one, but two wars, as my Gavekal-IS colleague Didier Darcet pointed out in April (see Tick,Tock Tick,Tock). The first is the one we can see playing out each day on our television screens, with all the tanks, deaths and human suffering. The second is a financial war, with the unprecedented weaponization of the Western banking system and Western currencies aimed at bringing Russia to its financial knees (see CYA As A Guiding Principle (2022)). To the surprise of most people in the West, resistance against both of these war efforts has proved far stronger than expected. Almost 11 weeks into the war on the ground in Ukraine, Russian troops still seem to be taking heavy losses for relatively small territorial gains. And a little over six weeks after US president Joe Biden boasted that the ruble had been “reduced to rubble” by Western sanctions, the Russian currency is close to a two-year high against the US dollar and near a post-Covid high against the euro. At this point, both the euro and the yen appear to be bigger casualties of the Ukraine war than the ruble. The US boast that the ruble had been “reduced to rubble” is looking premature  In this paper, I shall review the implications of this stronger-than-expected resistance - both on the battlefield and in the financial markets - and attempt to draw some salient conclusions for investors. The evolution of warfare In October 1893, some 6,000 highly-disciplined warriors of King Lobengula’s Ndebele army launched a night-time attack on a camp occupied by 700 British South Africa Company police near the Shangani river in what is now Zimbabwe. It was a massacre. The BSAC “police” killed more than 1,500 Ndebele for the loss of just four of their own men. A week later, they did it again, killing some 3,000 Ndebele warriors for just one policeman dead. These one-sided victories were not won by courage or superior discipline, but because the British were armed with five machine guns and the Ndebele had none. As Hillaire Belloc wrote in The Modern Traveller: “Whatever happens, we have got / The Maxim gun, and they have not”. The technological superiority of the machine gun allowed Britain, and France, Germany and Belgium, to subjugate almost all of Africa, even though outnumbered by the Zulu, Dervish, Herero, Masai and even Boer forces they opposed. All were rendered helpless by the machine gun’s firepower. I revisit this ancient history to illustrate how military technology is a lynchpin of the geopolitical balance. Dominance of military technology is also a key factor underpinning the strength and resilience of a reserve currency. Today, one of the main reasons why Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others keep so much of their reserves in US dollars is that the US is widely regarded as being a generation (if not more) ahead of the competition in the design and production of smart bombs, anti-missile systems, fighter jets and naval frigates. In short, the superiority of US weaponry has been one of the principal factors underpinning the US dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. However, recent events raise important questions about whether the US can retain this superiority. In September 2019, drones allegedly deployed by Yemeni Houthi forces took out the Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities at Abqaiq. Between late September and early November 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The conflict ended in near-total victory for the Azeris. This result stunned the military world. Observers had assumed that Armenia, with a bigger army, larger air force, more up-to-date anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, and a history of Russian support, would easily triumph. But all Armenia’s expensively-acquired military “advantages” were quickly taken out in the early days of the fighting by Azerbaijan using Turkish-made drones costing no more than US$1mn each. On successive occasions between March 2021 and March 2022, Houthi drones attacked Saudi Arabian oil facilities, notably the giant terminal at Ras Tanura on the Persian Gulf. In December 2021, Turkish-made drones allowed the Ethiopian government to tip the balance in a civil war that until then had been going badly for government forces. In January 2022, Houthi drones hit oil facilities in the UAE.  Now, imagine being Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Over the years you have spent tens, if not hundreds, of billions of US dollars purchasing anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems from the US. Now, you see relatively cheap drones penetrating these defense systems like a hot knife through butter. This has to be frustrating. What is the point of spending up to US$340mn on an F-35c (and US$2mn on pilot training), or US$200mn on an anti-aircraft system, if these can be taken out by drones at a fraction of the cost? This evolution in warfare may help to explain the impressive resilience of the Ukrainian army in the face of Russia’s onslaught. When the Russian troops marched into Ukraine, consensus opinion was that the Ukrainian forces would crumble before the Russian military juggernaut. It is always hard to know what is happening on the ground amid the fog of war. But judging by the number of tanks destroyed, warships sunk and the apparent failure of the Russian air force to establish control over Ukraine’s skies, it seems the invasion of Ukraine is proving far more costly in terms of blood and treasure than Russian president Vladimir Putin had imagined. Could this be because Putin failed to factor the impact of drones into his military outlook? It may be premature to jump to that conclusion. But judging from afar, it appears inexpensive Turkish drones have helped level the battlefield in the Ukrainian-Russian David versus Goliath confrontation— the biggest and bloodiest on European soil since World War II. This helps to explain why the US military assistance package for Ukraine Biden announced this month included 700 Switchblade drones. These are surprisingly cheap—the Switchblade 300 reportedly carries a price tag as low as US$6,000—yet highly effective. In essence, they are single-use kamikaze drones. Apparently, they fly faster than the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones that the Ukrainians, like the Azeris before them, have used to such devastating effect. This suggests the Switchblades should be able to evade the air defenses that Russia has attempted to maintain over its troops. The US military deployed Switchblades sparingly in Afghanistan, so it is hard to know whether these will perform as billed in combat conditions. But before this shipment to Ukraine, only the UK was permitted to purchase Switchblades. This implies that the Pentagon considers the Switchblade a valuable and potent weapon. David Petraeus, the former Central Intelligence Agency director who, as a four star general, commanded the US campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan, singled out the weapon in a recent interview with historian Niall Ferguson: “I’ll mention one item in particular: the Switchblade drone. It’s a loitering munition that takes a one-way trip. The light version can loiter for 15 to 20 minutes. Heavy version, 30 to 40 minutes with a range of at least 40 km. The operator selects a target, it locks on and it follows. Then it strikes when the operator gives that order. This is extraordinarily effective because you can’t hear it on the ground. The first time the enemy knows it’s there is when it blows up. If we can get enough of those into Ukraine, they could be a true game-changer.” However, I digress. Returning to the discussion about why drones might matter for financial markets: 1) If ever-cheaper and more readily available drones are going to revolutionize war, much as the Maxim gun did 140 years ago, then it is questionable whether it still makes sense to invest in tanks, airplanes, anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems. If it does not, what does this mean for the value of the large, listed death-merchants? Cheap drones are bad news for the stocks of defense giants Historically, buying the merchants of death after a big rally in oil made sense, if only because so much of the world’s high-end weapon consumption occurs in the Middle East. But in the world of tomorrow, will Middle Eastern oil kingdoms still line up to buy multibillion US dollar systems from Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed and the like, if those systems are vulnerable to attacks from relatively cheap drones? 2) Talking of Middle Eastern regimes, the deal prevailing in the Middle East for the past five decades has been that oil would be priced in US dollars, and that the oil-exporting regimes in Saudi Arabia, the UAE or Kuwait would use these US dollars to buy US-made weapons (and US treasuries). With this bargain, the US implicitly guaranteed the survival of the Gulf Arab regimes. Fast forward to 2022, and following the invasion of Ukraine, countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE have failed to condemn Russia. What’s more, Saudi Arabia let it be known that it might start to accept payment for its oil in renminbi. Perhaps this makes sense if Saudi Arabia feels it no longer needs US$340mn F-35s, but instead more US$1mn Turkish-made drones? 3) If, as the Azeri-Armenian and the Ukrainian-Russian wars suggest, drones have radically leveled the battlefield in war, this profound development has a multitude of implications. Does it undermine the long-held superiority of vastly expensive armament systems, tilting the balance in favor of much cheaper and much more widely-available weapons? If so, does this mean another pillar supporting the US dollar’s reserve currency status is crumbling in front of our eyes? In a world where military might is no longer the monopoly of a single superpower, or the duopoly of two, does the world become, de facto, multipolar? In such a world, would there still be a compelling reason for trade between Indonesia and Malaysia to be settled in US dollars, rather than in their own currencies? Wouldn’t trade between China and South Korea now be settled in renminbi and won? Drone tactics are a radically different form of warfare, and they are evolving fast. So, it would be premature to offer any definitive conclusions about the extent to which drones will dominate warfare in the future. However, their recent use in Ukraine (and Yemen, Azerbaijan and Ethiopia) means that investors have to be open to the idea that drones will change the battlefield of the future. Because if they are going to change the battlefield of the future, then they will also change the economic and financial realities of today. In this sense, drones might well be the modern-day equivalent of aircraft carriers. In World War II, aircraft carriers made big-gun battleships and other traditional naval warships obsolete, or at least highly vulnerable. Two early Pacific battles proved the point. The Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, generally considered by historians to have been a draw, was the first naval engagement ever fought in which the opposing fleets never made visual contact with each other. Carrier-based aircraft drove the action. A month later, the far more consequential Battle of Midway established the new reality beyond all doubt. The Imperial Japanese Navy was ambushed northwest of Hawaii and lost the bulk of its carrier force in a single action. It would be on the defensive for the rest of the war. With hindsight, Midway marked the start of US dominance over the world’s oceans. In short order, this translated into US dominance over global trade. But with the nature of warfare again changing, is this dominance of the oceans and of other battlefields guaranteed to last? Investors need to consider the uncomfortable possibility that it might not. The dramatic shift in the global financial landscape We are all the offspring of our own experiences. One important formative event in my own modest career was the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. Witnessing how quickly things could unravel left a deep mark. I highlight this because I am not alone in having lived through the shock of 1997-98. Pretty much every emerging market policymaker aged 50-75 (which is most of them) went through a similar trauma. Seeing your country’s entire middle class wiped out in the space of a few weeks—which is what happened in Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Argentina and others in the period from 1997 to 2000—is bound to leave a few scars. Among emerging market policymakers these scars took the form of a deepseated conviction of “never again” (see Our Brave New World). To ensure their countries’ middle classes were never again wiped out, they adopted a straightforward set of policy prescriptions that in the early 2000s Gavekal dubbed the The Circle Of Manipulation. It went something like this: 1) To avoid a future crisis, your central bank needs to maintain a healthy safety cushion of hard currency bonds, mostly US treasuries and bunds.   2) The more you become integrated with the global economy, the larger this cushion should be. 3) To build up this safety cushion, you need to run consistent and large current account surpluses. 4) To run consistent large current account surpluses, you need to maintain an undervalued currency. Among the results of these policy prescriptions were charts looking like this: By all previous standards, this was an odd state of affairs: an economic arrangement under which poorer countries with high savings rates and vast infrastructure investment needs ended up subsidizing consumption in rich countries with low savings rates and ever-accelerating twin deficits. To cut a long story short, for the last 25 years, we have lived in a world in which undervalued currencies in emerging markets allowed Western consumers to buy attractively priced goods and services imported from developing countries. Meanwhile, the individuals, companies and governments in the emerging markets which earned capital from these sales largely recycled their earned capital into Western assets—because Western assets were perceived to be “safe.” But this perception of safety may now be changing in front of our eyes. Consider the following changes: 1) Developed economy government bonds have proved anything but safe. As stresses of increasing severity have affected the world economy over the last 12 months, investors in local currency Indonesian and Brazilian government bonds and in gold have generated positive returns of between 3% and 4% in US dollar terms. Chinese government bonds are up by just over 1.5%. Meanwhile, Indian and South African government bonds have lost -4%. These performances contrast with US treasuries, which have lost -9%, and the train wrecks suffered by investors in eurozone bonds and Japanese government bonds, which are down anywhere between -17% and -23%. Of these, which can be considered the safest? 2) The confiscation of Russia’s reserves. I will not repeat here arguments I have made at length elsewhere (see What Freezing Russia’s Reserves Means). But in a nutshell, the decision to freeze Russia’s central bank reserves has been the most important financial development since US president Richard Nixon closed the gold window in 1971. From now on, any country that is not an outright US ally—China, Malaysia, South Africa and others—and even some historical friends—Saudi Arabia? The UAE? India?—will think twice before reflexively accumulating US treasuries from fear they may get canceled. Over the course of a weekend, with no discussion in the US Congress, and no discussion with the Federal Reserve, the US administration unilaterally turned the US treasury market on its head. From that moment on, the whole nature of a US treasury security would depend entirely on who owned it. 3) Running roughshod over property rights. It is hard to pin down what the West’s single most important comparative advantage might be. Having the world’s strongest military? Being the seat of almost all the world’s greatest universities? Issuance of the world’s reserve currencies? The list goes on. But surely somewhere near the top of the list should be the sanctity of property rights, guaranteed by rock-solid “rule of law.” The main reason Chinese tycoons for years purchased Vancouver real estate, the Emirati central bank bought US treasuries and Saudi princes parked their wealth in Zurich was the knowledge that, whatever happened, and wherever you came from, you were guaranteed property rights, and a fair trial to ascertain those rights, in any courtroom in New York, London, Zurich or Paris. Better still, since the implementation over the last 850 years in the West of habeas corpus and various bills of rights, you have been able to have confidence that you would be judged as an individual. One of the fundamental tenets of Western democracies’ legal systems is that there is no such thing as a collective crime—or collective punishment. You can only be held responsible and punished for what you have done as an individual. Unless - all of a sudden - you are a Russian oligarch. This is a dramatic development, if only because every Chinese tycoon, Saudi prince, or emerging market billionaire will now wonder whether he will be next to get canceled. If the wealth of Russian oligarchs can be confiscated so abruptly, then why not the assets of Saudi princes? Stretching this a little further, maybe it shouldn’t just be Saudi princes or Chinese billionaires who should be worried. If wealth can be seized without any trial, but simply because of guilt by association, maybe in the not-too distant future Western governments could confiscate the wealth of anyone who mined coal or pumped oil out of the ground. Don’t they have blood on their hands for causing tomorrow’s climate crisis? And while we are about it, perhaps we should also confiscate the wealth of social media barons for failing to prevent a mental health crisis among our youth? 4) Russia’s counter-attacks. Older readers may remember how in the days that preceded the Lehman bust, US Treasury secretary Hank Paulson walked around proclaiming that he had “a big bazooka,” and that if the market pushed too hard, he would fire this bazooka and blow shortsellers out of the water. Unfortunately, with Lehman it became obvious to all and sundry that Paulson’s bazooka was firing blanks. Today’s situation is similar. In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US decided to go for full weaponization of the US dollar, proclaiming the ruble had been turned to rubble. Last week, the ruble hit two-year highs against both the US dollar and euro. Biden’s financial bazooka seems to have been no more potent than Paulson’s. Why? Because Russia decided to fight back, requiring buyers from “unfriendly” countries to pay for their purchases of Russian commodities in rubles. And in effect, the only way unfriendly customers can acquire rubles is by offering gold to the Russian central bank (see The Clash Of Empires Intensifies). This has created a sudden and profound shift in the global trading and financial architecture. For decades, global trade was simple. If Russia produced commodities that China needed, then China first had to earn US dollars by selling goods and services to the US consumer. Only in this way could it acquire the US dollars it needed to purchase commodities from Russia. But what happens now that China or India can purchase their commodities from Russia or Iran for renminbi or Indian rupees? Obviously, their need to earn and save US dollars is no longer so acute. Conclusion Warfare is changing and the financial system has been weaponized like never before. However, the weaponization of the financial system has so far failed to deliver the intended results. At this point, investors can adopt one of two stances. The first might be described as “nothing to see here; move along.” The second is to accept that the world is changing rapidly, and that these changes will have deep and lasting impacts on financial markets. Different war, different world, different consequences For now, there are some clear takeaways. 1) The Ukraine war may be telling us that modern history’s unipolar age is now well and truly over. As big as the Russian army is, and as powerful as the US Treasury might be, the current crisis has demonstrated that neither is powerful enough to impose its will on its perceived enemies. This includes even relatively weak enemies; Ukraine’s army was hardly thought of as formidable, while Russia was supposed to be a financial pygmy. 2) This is a very important message. In an age of drones and parallel financial arrangements, there is no longer such a thing as absolute power—nor even the perception of absolute power. The pot has been called, each player has had to show his cards, and all are sitting with busted flushes! The fact that military and financial dominance may be harder to assert in the future opens the door to a much more multipolar world. 3) For 25 years, emerging market workers have subsidized consumption in developed markets, as emerging market policymakers kept their currencies undervalued and recycled their current account surpluses into “hard” currencies. If this arrangement now comes to an end, then the developed market consumer will struggle while the emerging market consumer will thrive. 4) Much consumption in emerging markets tends to occur at the “low end” of the product chain. This plays into a theme I have been harping on about for the last year: that investors should focus on companies that deliver products that consumers “need to have” rather than products that are “nice to have.” 5) Over the last two years, US treasuries and German bunds have failed in their job of providing the antifragile element in portfolios. There are few reasons to think that this failure is about to reverse any time soon. Today, investors need to look elsewhere for antifragile attributes. Precious metals, emerging market government bonds, high-yield energy assets and foodstuffs are all leading candidates. 6) High-end residential real estate in Western economies will lose the emerging market money-recycling bid and will struggle. 7) New safe destinations for emerging markets’ excess capital will emerge. Obvious candidates include Dubai, Singapore, Mauritius, and perhaps even Hong Kong (should China eventually decide to follow the rest of the world and to live with Covid). It is hard to be too bullish on these destinations. They are so small that even a marginal, influx of financial and human capital will have a disproportionate impact. The world’s unipolar era is over. Few portfolios reflect this reality - and definitely not the indexed portfolios that are today massively overweight an overvalued US and a desperately ill-omened Europe. Tyler Durden Sun, 05/22/2022 - 23:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 23rd, 2022

Hedges: No Way Out But War

Hedges: No Way Out But War Authored by Chris Hedges via ScheerPost.com, (emphasis ours) Permanent war has cannibalized the country. It has created a social, political, and economic morass. Each new military debacle is another nail in the coffin of Pax Americana... Original Illustration by Mr. Fish — “No Guts No Glory” The United States, as the near unanimous vote to provide nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine illustrates, is trapped in the death spiral of unchecked militarism. No high speed trains. No universal health care. No viable Covid relief program. No respite from 8.3 percent inflation. No infrastructure programs to repair decaying roads and bridges, which require $41.8 billion to fix the 43,586 structurally deficient bridges, on average 68 years old. No forgiveness of $1.7 trillion in student debt. No addressing income inequality. No program to feed the 17 million children who go to bed each night hungry. No rational gun control or curbing of the epidemic of nihilistic violence and mass shootings. No help for the 100,000 Americans who die each year of drug overdoses. No minimum wage of $15 an hour to counter 44 years of wage stagnation. No respite from gas prices that are projected to hit $6 a gallon. The permanent war economy, implanted since the end of World War II, has destroyed the private economy, bankrupted the nation, and squandered trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. The monopolization of capital by the military has driven the US debt to $30 trillion, $ 6 trillion more than the US GDP of $ 24 trillion. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military, $ 813 billion for fiscal year 2023, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined. We are paying a heavy social, political, and economic cost for our militarism. Washington watches passively as the U.S. rots, morally, politically, economically, and physically, while China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and other countries extract themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network banks and other financial institutions use to send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions. Once the U.S. dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency, once there is an alternative to SWIFT, it will precipitate an internal economic collapse. It will force the immediate contraction of the U.S. empire shuttering most of its nearly 800 overseas military installations. It will signal the death of Pax Americana. Democrat or Republican. It does not matter. War is the raison d’état of the state. Extravagant military expenditures are justified in the name of “national security.” The nearly $40 billion allocated for Ukraine, most of it going into the hands of weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon Technologies, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, is only the beginning. Military strategists, who say the war will be long and protracted, are talking about infusions of $4 or $5 billion in military aid a month to Ukraine. We face existential threats. But these do not count. The proposed budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in fiscal year 2023 is $10.675 billion. The proposed budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is $11.881 billion. Ukraine alone gets more than double that amount. Pandemics and the climate emergency are afterthoughts. War is all that matters. This is a recipe for collective suicide. There were three restraints to the avarice and bloodlust of the permanent war economy that no longer exist. The first was the old liberal wing of the Democratic Party, led by politicians such as Senator George McGovern, Senator Eugene McCarthy, and Senator J. William Fulbright, who wrote The Pentagon Propaganda Machine. The self-identified progressives, a pitiful minority, in Congress today, from Barbara Lee, who was the single vote in the House and the Senate opposing a broad, open-ended authorization allowing the president to wage war in Afghanistan or anywhere else, to Ilhan Omar now dutifully line up to fund the latest proxy war. The second restraint was an independent media and academia, including journalists such as I.F Stone and Neil Sheehan along with scholars such as Seymour Melman, author of The Permanent War Economy and Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War.  Third, and perhaps most important, was an organized anti-war movement, led by religious leaders such as Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr. and Phil and Dan Berrigan as well as groups such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). They understood that unchecked militarism was a fatal disease. None of these opposition forces, which did not reverse the permanent war economy but curbed its excesses, now exist. The two ruling parties have been bought by corporations, especially military contractors. The press is anemic and obsequious to the war industry. Propagandists for permanent war, largely from right-wing think tanks lavishly funded by the war industry, along with former military and intelligence officials, are exclusively quoted or interviewed as military experts. NBC’s “Meet the Press” aired a segment May 13 where officials from Center for a New American Security (CNAS) simulated what a war with China over Taiwan might look like. The co-founder of CNAS, Michèle Flournoy, who appeared in the “Meet the Press” war games segment and was considered by Biden to run the Pentagon, wrote in 2020 in Foreign Affairs that the U.S. needs to develop “the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours.”  The handful of anti-militarists and critics of empire from the left, such as Noam Chomsky, and the right, such as Ron Paul, have been declared persona non grata by a compliant media. The liberal class has retreated into boutique activism where issues of class, capitalism and militarism are jettisoned for “cancel culture,” multiculturalism and identity politics. Liberals are cheerleading the war in Ukraine. At least the inception of the war with Iraq saw them join significant street protests. Ukraine is embraced as the latest crusade for freedom and democracy against the new Hitler. There is little hope, I fear, of rolling back or restraining the disasters being orchestrated on a national and global level.  The neoconservatives and liberal interventionists chant in unison for war. Biden has appointed these war mongers, whose attitude to nuclear war is terrifyingly cavalier, to run the Pentagon, the National Security Council, and the State Department. Since all we do is war, all proposed solutions are military. This military adventurism accelerates the decline, as the defeat in Vietnam and the squandering of $8 trillion in the futile wars in the Middle East illustrate. War and sanctions, it is believed, will cripple Russia, rich in gas and natural resources. War, or the threat of war, will curb the growing economic and military clout of China. These are demented and dangerous fantasies, perpetrated by a ruling class that has severed itself from reality. No longer able to salvage their own society and economy, they seek to destroy those of their global competitors, especially Russia and China. Once the militarists cripple Russia, the plan goes, they will focus military aggression on the Indo-Pacific, dominating what Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, referring to the Pacific, called “the American Sea.”  You cannot talk about war without talking about markets. The U.S., whose growth rate has fallen to below 2 percent, while China’s growth rate is 8.1 percent, has turned to military aggression to bolster its sagging economy. If the U.S. can sever Russian gas supplies to Europe, it will force Europeans to buy from the United States. U.S. firms, at the same time, would be happy to replace the Chinese Communist Party, even if they must do it through the threat of war, to open unfettered access to Chinese markets. War, if it did break out with China, would devastate the Chinese, American, and global economies, destroying free trade between countries as in World War I. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Washington is desperately trying to build military and economic alliances to ward off a rising China, whose economy is expected by 2028 to overtake that of the United States, according to the UK’s Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). The White House has said Biden’s current visit to Asia is about sending a “powerful message” to Beijing and others about what the world could look like if democracies “stand together to shape the rules of the road.” The Biden administration has invited South Korea and Japan to attend the NATO summit in Madrid. But fewer and fewer nations, even among European allies, are willing to be dominated by the United States. Washington’s veneer of democracy and supposed respect for human rights and civil liberties is so badly tarnished as to be irrecoverable. Its economic decline, with China’s manufacturing 70 percent higher than that of the U.S., is irreversible. War is a desperate Hail Mary, one employed by dying empires throughout history with catastrophic consequences. “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable,” Thucydides noted in the History of the Peloponnesian War.  A key component to the sustenance of the permanent war state was the creation of the All-Volunteer Force. Without conscripts, the burden of fighting wars falls to the poor, the working class, and military families. This All-Volunteer Force allows the children of the middle class, who led the Vietnam anti-war movement, to avoid service. It protects the military from internal revolts, carried out by troops during the Vietnam War, which jeopardized the cohesion of the armed forces. The All-Volunteer Force, by limiting the pool of available troops, also makes the global ambitions of the militarists impossible. Desperate to maintain or increase troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military instituted the stop-loss policy that arbitrarily extended active-duty contracts. Its slang term was the backdoor draft. The effort to bolster the number of troops by hiring private military contractors, as well, had a negligible effect. Increased troop levels would not have won the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but the tiny percentage of those willing to serve in the military (only 7 percent of the U.S. population are veterans) is an unacknowledged Achilles heel for the militarists. “As a consequence, the problem of too much war and too few soldiers eludes serious scrutiny,” writes historian and retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich in After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World Transformed. “Expectations of technology bridging that gap provide an excuse to avoid asking the most fundamental questions: Does the United States possess the military wherewithal to oblige adversaries to endorse its claim of being history’s indispensable nation? And if the answer is no, as the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suggest, wouldn’t it make sense for Washington to temper its ambitions accordingly?” This question, as Bacevich points out, is “anathema.” The military strategists work from the supposition that the coming wars won’t look anything like past wars. They invest in imaginary theories of future wars that ignore the lessons of the past, ensuring more fiascos.  The political class is as self-deluded as the generals. It refuses to accept the emergence of a multi-polar world and the palpable decline of American power. It speaks in the outdated language of American exceptionalism and triumphalism, believing it has the right to impose its will as the leader of the “free world.” In his 1992 Defense Planning Guidance memorandum, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argued that the U.S. must ensure no rival superpower again arises. The U.S. should project its military strength to dominate a unipolar world in perpetuity. On February 19, 1998, on NBC’s “Today Show”, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave the Democratic version of this doctrine of unipolarity. “If we have to use force it is because we are Americans; we are the indispensable nation,” she said. “We stand tall, and we see further than other countries into the future.” This demented vision of unrivaled U.S. global supremacy, not to mention unrivaled goodness and virtue, blinds the establishment Republicans and Democrats. The military strikes they casually used to assert the doctrine of unipolarity, especially in the Middle East, swiftly spawned jihadist terror and prolonged warfare. None of them saw it coming until the hijacked jets slammed into the World Trade Center twin towers. That they cling to this absurd hallucination is the triumph of hope over experience. There is a deep loathing among the public for these elitist Ivy League architects of American imperialism. Imperialism was tolerated when it was able to project power abroad and produce rising living standards at home. It was tolerated when it restrained itself to covert interventions in countries such as Iran, Guatemala, and Indonesia. It went off the rails in Vietnam. The military defeats that followed accompanied a steady decline in living standards, wage stagnation, a crumbling infrastructure and eventually a series of economic policies and trade deals, orchestrated by the same ruling class, which deindustrialized and impoverished the country. The establishment oligarchs, now united in the Democratic Party, distrust Donald Trump. He commits the heresy of questioning the sanctity of the American empire. Trump derided the invasion of Iraq as a “big, fat mistake.” He promised “to keep us out of endless war.” Trump was repeatedly questioned about his relationship with Vladimir Putin. Putin was “a killer,” one interviewer told him. “There are a lot of killers,” Trump retorted. “You think our country’s so innocent?” Trump dared to speak a truth that was to be forever unspoken, the militarists had sold out the American people. Noam Chomsky took some heat for pointing out, correctly, that Trump is the “one statesman” who has laid out a “sensible” proposition to resolve the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The proposed solution included “facilitating negotiations instead of undermining them and moving toward establishing some kind of accommodation in Europe…in which there are no military alliances but just mutual accommodation.” Trump is too unfocused and mercurial to offer serious policy solutions. He did set a timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan, but he also ratcheted up the economic war against Venezuela and reinstituted crushing sanctions against Cuba and Iran, which the Obama administration had ended. He increased the military budget. He apparently flirted with carrying out a missile strike on Mexico to “destroy the drug labs.” But he acknowledges a distaste for imperial mismanagement that resonates with the public, one that has every right to loath the smug mandarins that plunge us into one war after another. Trump lies like he breathes. But so do they. The 57 Republicans who refused to support the $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, along with many of the 19 bills that included an earlier $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine, come out of the kooky conspiratorial world of Trump. They, like Trump, repeat this heresy. They too are attacked and censored. But the longer Biden and the ruling class continue to pour resources into war at our expense, the more these proto fascists, already set to wipe out Democratic gains in the House and the Senate this fall, will be ascendant. Marjorie Taylor Greene, during the debate on the aid package to Ukraine, which most members were not given time to closely examine, said: “$40 billion dollars but there’s no baby formula for American mothers and babies.” “An unknown amount of money to the CIA and Ukraine supplemental bill but there’s no formula for American babies,” she added. “Stop funding regime change and money laundering scams. A US politician covers up their crimes in countries like Ukraine.” Democrat Jamie Raskin immediately attacked Greene for parroting the propaganda of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Greene, like Trump, spoke a truth that resonates with a beleaguered public. The opposition to permanent war should have come from the tiny progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which unfortunately sold out to the craven Democratic Party leadership to save their political careers. Greene is demented, but Raskin and the Democrats peddle their own brand of lunacy. We are going to pay a very steep price for this burlesque. *  *  * The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my now weekly Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, The Chris Hedges Report. Tyler Durden Wed, 05/25/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 25th, 2022

Escobar: The Empire Of Lies, Operation Z, & The New Global Chessboard

Escobar: The Empire Of Lies, Operation Z, & The New Global Chessboard Authored by Pepe Escobar, The only antidote to propaganda dementia is served by sparse voices of reason, which happen to be Russian, thus silenced and/or dismissed. Especially since the onset of GWOT (Global War on Terror) at the start of the millennium, no one ever lost money betting against the toxic combo of hubris, arrogance and ignorance serially deployed by the Empire of Chaos and Lies. What passes for “analysis” in the vast intellectual no-fly zone known as U.S. Think Tankland includes wishful thinking babble such as Beijing “believing” that Moscow would play a supporting role in the Chinese century just to see Russia, now, in the geopolitical driver’s seat. This is a fitting example not only of outright Russophobic/Sinophobic paranoia about the emergence of peer competitors in Eurasia – the primeval Anglo-American nightmare – but also crass ignorance about the finer points of the complex Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership. As Operation Z methodically hits Phase 2, the Americans – with a vengeance – have also embarked on their symmetrical Phase 2, which de facto translates as an outright escalation towards Totalen Krieg, from shades of hybrid to incandescent, everything of course by proxy. Notorious Raytheon weapons peddler reconverted into Pentagon head, Lloyd Austin, gave away the game in Kiev: “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” So this is it: the Empire wants to annihilate Russia. Cue to War Inc.’s frenzy of limitless weapon cargos descending on Ukraine, the overwhelming majority on the road to be duly eviscerated by Russian precision strikes. The Americans are sharing intel 24/7 with Kiev not only on Donbass and Crimea but also Russian territory. Totalen Krieg proceeds in parallel to the engineered controlled demolition of the EU’s economy, with the European Commission merrily acting as a sort of P.R. arm of NATO. Amidst the propaganda dementia cum acute cognitive dissonance overdrive across the whole NATOstan sphere, the only antidote is served by sparse voices of reason, which happen to be Russian, thus silenced and/or dismissed. The West ignores them at their own collective peril. Patrushev goes Triple-X unplugged Let’s start with President Putin’s speech to the Council of Legislators in St. Petersburg celebrating the Day of Russian Parliamentarism. Putin demonstrated how a hardly new “geopolitical weapon” relying on “Russophobia and neo-Nazis”, coupled with efforts of “economic strangulation”, not only failed to smother Russia, but impregnated in the collective unconscious the feeling this an existential conflict: a “Second Great Patriotic War”. With off the charts hysteria across the spectrum, a message for an Empire that still refuses to listen, and doesn’t even understand the meaning of “indivisibility of security”, had to be inevitable: “I would like to emphasize once again that if someone intends to interfere in the events taking place from the outside and creates threats of a strategic nature unacceptable to Russia, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning fast. We have all the tools for this. Such as no one can boast of now. And we won’t brag. We will use them if necessary. And I want everyone to know about it – we have made all the decisions on this matter.” Translation: non-stop provocations may lead Mr. Kinzhal, Mr. Zircon and Mr. Sarmat to be forced to present their business cards in select Western latitudes, even without an official invitation. Arguably for the first time since the start of Operation Z, Putin made a distinction between military operations in Donbass and the rest of Ukraine. This directly relates to the integration in progress of Kherson, Zaporozhye and Kharkov, and implies the Russian Armed Forces will keep going and going, establishing sovereignty not only in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics but also over Kherson, Zaporozhye, and further on down the road from the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea, all the way to establishing full control of Nikolaev and Odessa. The formula is crystal clear: “Russia cannot allow the creation of anti-Russian territories around the country.” Now let’s move to an extremely detailed interview by Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, where Patrushev sort of went triple-X unplugged. The key take away may be here: “The collapse of the American-centric world is a reality in which one must live and build an optimal line of behavior.” Russia’s “optimal line of behavior” – much to the wrath of the universalist and unilateralist hegemon – features “sovereignty, cultural and spiritual identity and historical memory.” Patrushev shows how “tragic scenarios of world crises, both in past years and today, are imposed by Washington in its desire to consolidate its hegemony, resisting the collapse of the unipolar world.” The U.S. goes no holds barred “to ensure that other centers of the multipolar world do not even dare to raise their heads, and our country not only dared, but publicly declared that it would not play by the imposed rules.” Patrushev could not but stress how War Inc. is literally making a killing in Ukraine: “The American and European military-industrial complex is jubilant, because thanks to the crisis in Ukraine, it has no respite from order. It is not surprising that, unlike Russia, which is interested in the speedy completion of a special military operation and minimizing losses on all sides, the West is determined to delay it at least to the last Ukrainian.” And that mirrors the psyche of American elites: “You are talking about a country whose elite is not able to appreciate other people’s lives. Americans are used to walking on scorched earth. Since World War II, entire cities have been razed to the ground by bombing, including nuclear bombing. They flooded the Vietnamese jungle with poison, bombed the Serbs with radioactive munitions, burned Iraqis alive with white phosphorus, helped terrorists poison Syrians with chlorine (…) As history shows, NATO has also never been a defensive alliance, only an offensive one.” Previously, in an interview with the delightfully named The Great Game show on Russian TV, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had once again detailed how the Americans “no longer insist on the implementation of international law, but on respect for the ‘rules-based world order’. These ‘rules’ are not deciphered in any way. They say that now there are few rules. For us, they don’t exist at all. There is international law. We respect it, as does the UN Charter. The key provision, the main principle is the sovereign equality of states. The U.S. flagrantly violates its obligations under the UN Charter when it promotes its ‘rules’”. Lavrov had to stress, once again, that the current incandescent situation may be compared to the Cuban Missile Crisis: “In those years, there was a channel of communication that both leaders trusted. Now there is no such channel. No one is trying to create it.” The Empire of Lies, in its current state, does not do diplomacy. The pace of the game in the new chessboard In a subtle reference to the work of Sergei Glazyev, as the Minister in Charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Union explained in our recent interview, Patrushev hit the heart of the current geoeconomic game, with Russia now actively moving towards a gold standard: “Experts are working on a project proposed by the scientific community to create a two-circuit monetary and financial system. In particular, it is proposed to determine the value of the ruble, which should be secured by both gold and a group of goods that are currency values, to put the ruble exchange rate in line with real purchasing power parity.” That was inevitable after the outright theft of over $300 billion in Russian foreign reserves. It may have taken a few days for Moscow to be fully certified it was facing Totalen Krieg. The corollary is that the collective West has lost any power to influence Russian decisions. The pace of the game in the new chessboard is being set by Russia. Earlier in the week, in his meeting with the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, Putin went as far as stating that he’d be more than willing to negotiate – with only a few conditions: Ukrainian neutrality and autonomy status for Donbass. Yet now everyone knows it’s too late. For a Washington in Totalen Krieg mode negotiation is anathema – and that has been the case since the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine meeting in Istanbul in late March. So far, on Operation Z, the Russian Armed forces have used only 12% of its soldiers,10% of its fighter jets, 7% of its tanks, 5% of its missiles, and 4% of its artillery. The pain dial is set to go substantially up – and with the total liberation of Mariupol and the resolution one way or another of the Donbass cauldron there is nothing the hysteria/propaganda/weaponizing combo deployed by the collective West can do to alter facts on the ground. That includes desperate gambits such as the one uncovered by SVR – Russian foreign intel, which very rarely makes mistakes. SVR found out that the Empire of Lies/War Inc. axis is pushing not only for a de facto Polish invasion to annex Western Ukraine, under the banner of “historical reunification”, but also for a joint Romanian/Ukrainian invasion of Moldova/Transnistria, with Romanian “peacekeepers” already piling up near the Moldova border. Washington, as the SVR maintains, has been plotting the Polish gambit for over a month now. It would “lead from behind” (remember Libya?), “encouraging” a “group of countries” to occupy Western Ukraine. So partition is already on the cards. Were that ever to materialize, it will be fascinating to bet on which locations Mr. Sarmat would be inclined to distribute his business card. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/30/2022 - 18:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 30th, 2022

Whither Bitcoin?

Whither Bitcoin? Authored by Eric Yakes via BitcoinMagazine.com, The world stands on the precipice of a monetary restructuring, with bitcoin seemingly the most likely to be adopted... albeit slowly. INTRODUCTION The world is reorganizing. People are attempting to comprehend the implications of recent events across a variety of dimensions: politically, geopolitically, economically, financially and socially. A feeling of uncertainty has eclipsed global affairs and individuals are developing an increased reliance on the thoughts of those bold enough to attempt comprehension. Experts are everywhere, but the expert is nowhere. I am not claiming to be an expert on anything, either. I read, write and do my best to piece together an understanding of vague and complex concepts. I’ve spent some time reading and thinking through various concepts and believe we are witnessing an inflection point of global trust. My goal is to explain the framework that led me to this conclusion. I’ll generally avoid discussing geopolitics and focus on the monetary and financial implications of this shift we are witnessing. The best place to start is understanding trust. THE WORLD RUNS ON TRUST We are witnessing a shift in global trust, setting the table for a new global monetary order. Consider Antal Fekete’s introduction from his seminal work Whither Gold?: “The year 1971 was a milestone in the history of money and credit. Previously, in the world's most developed countries, money (and hence credit) was tied to a positive value: the value of a well-defined quantity of a good of well-defined quality. In 1971 this tie was cut. Ever since, money has been tied not to positive but to negative values -- the value of debt instruments.” Debt instruments (credit) are built on trust — the most fundamental construct of organization. Organization allowed humanity to genetically eclipse its ancestors. Relationships, whether between individuals or groups, hinge on trust. Societies developed technologies and social structures to reduce the need for trust through reputations, security and money. Reputations reduce the need to trust because they represent an individual’s pattern of behavior: You trust some people more than others because of how they’ve acted in the past. Security reduces the need to trust that others will not hurt you in some form. You build a fence because you don’t trust your neighbors. You lock your car because you don’t trust your community. Your government has a military because it doesn’t trust other governments. Security is the price you pay to avoid the costs of vulnerability. Money reduces the need to trust that an individual will return a favor to you in the future. When you provide an individual a good or service, rather than trusting that they will return it to you in the future, they can immediately trade money to you, eliminating the need to trust. Stated differently, money reduces the need to trust that positive outcomes will happen while reputations and security reduces the need to trust that negative outcomes won’t happen. When money became entirely unanchored from gold in 1971, the value of money became a function of reputations and security, requiring trust. Before then, money was tied to the commodity gold, which maintained value through its well-defined quality and well-defined quantity and therefore didn’t require trust. Trust at a global level appears to be shifting across reputations and security, and thus credit money: Reputations — countries are trusting each other’s reputations less. The U.S. government’s reputation throughout recent history has been a global pillar of political stability and standard of financial and economic prudency. This is changing. The rise of U.S. populism has hindered its reputation as a politically stable country that allies depend on and rivals fear. Unprecedented economic and financial policy measures (e.g., bailouts, deficit spending, monetary inflation, debt issuance, etc.) are causing international powers to question the stability of the U.S. financial system. A hindrance to the reputation of the U.S. is a hindrance on the value of its money, to be discussed below. Security — countries are witnessing a contraction in global military order. The U.S. has been reducing its military presence and the world is shifting from a unipolar to a multipolar structure of order. The U.S.’ withdrawal of its military presence abroad has reduced its role as the monitor of international order and given rise to the military presence of rival nations. Reducing the assurance of its military presence internationally reduces the value of the dollar. Money — countries are losing trust in the international monetary order. Money has existed as either a commodity or credit (debt). Commodity money is not subject to trust through the reputations and security of governments while credit money is. Our modern system is entirely credit-based and the credit of the U.S. is the pillar upon which it exists. If the global reserve currency is based on credit, then the reputation and security of the U.S. is paramount to maintaining international monetary order. Trust in political and financial stability impacts the value of the dollar as does its holders’ demand for liquidity and stability. However, it’s not just U.S. credit money that is losing trust; it’s all credit money. As political and financial stability decline, we are witnessing a shift away from credit money entirely, incentivizing the adoption of commodity money. U.S. DEBT IS NOT RISK FREE Most recently, the reputation of U.S. credit has declined in an unprecedented way. Foreign governments historically trusted that the U.S. government’s debt is risk free. When financial sanctions froze Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, the U.S. undermined this risk-free reputation, as even reserves are now subject to confiscation. The ability to freeze the reserve assets of another country removed a foreign government’s right to either repay its debts or spend those assets. Now, international observers are realizing that these debts are not risk free. As the debt of the U.S. government is what backs its currency, this is a significant cause for concern. When the U.S. government issues debt, and demand from domestic and foreign buyers of it isn’t strong enough, the Federal Reserve prints money to purchase it in the open market and generate demand. Thus, the more U.S. debt countries are willing to buy, the stronger the U.S. dollar becomes — requiring less money printing by the Fed to indirectly enable government spending. Trust in the U.S. government’s credit has now been damaged, and thus so has the credit of the dollar. Further, trust in credit is declining in general, leaving commodity money as the more trustless option. First, I will examine this shift in the U.S. which applies specifically to its reputation and security, and then discuss the shifts in global credit (money). U.S. Dollar Dominance Will foreign governments attempt to de-dollarize? This question is complex as it not only requires an understanding of the global banking and payment systems but also maintains a geopolitical background. Countries around the world, both allies and rivals, have strong incentives to end global dollar hegemony. By utilizing the dollar a country is subject to the purview of the U.S. government and its financial institutions and infrastructure. To better understand this, let’s start by defining money: The above figure from my book shows the three functions of money as a store of value, medium of exchange and unit of account, as well as the supporting monetary properties of each below them. Each function plays a role in international financial markets: Store of Value — fulfilling this function drives reserve currency status. U.S. currency and debt is ~60% of global foreign reserves. A country will denominate its foreign exchange reserve assets in the most creditworthy assets — defined by their stability and liquidity. Medium of Exchange — this function is closely tied to being a unit of account. The dollar is the dominant invoicing currency in international trade and the euro is a close second, both of which fluctuate around ~40% of total. The dollar is also 64% of foreign currency debt issuance, meaning countries mostly denominate their debt in dollars. This creates demand for the dollar and is important. Since the U.S. issues more debt than domestic and foreign buyers are naturally willing to buy, they must print dollars to buy it in the market, which is inflationary (all else equal). The more foreign demand they can create for these newly printed dollars, the lower the inflationary impact from printing new dollars. This foreign demand becomes entrenched as countries denominate their contracts in the dollar, allowing the U.S. to monetize their debt. Unit of Account — Oil and other commodity contracts are often denominated in U.S. dollars (e.g., the petrodollar system). This creates artificial demand for the dollar, supporting its value while the U.S. government continually issues debt beyond amounts domestic and foreign buyers would be willing to purchase without the Fed creating demand for it. The petrodollar system was created by Nixon in response to a multi-year depreciation of the dollar after its fixed convertibility into gold was removed in 1971. In 1973, Nixon struck a deal with Saudi Arabia in which every barrel of oil purchased from the Saudis would be denominated in the U.S. dollar and in exchange, the U.S. would offer them military protection. By 1975, all OPEC nations agreed to price their own oil supplies in dollars in exchange for military protection. This system spurred artificial demand for the dollar and its value was now tied to demand for energy (oil). This effectively entrenched the U.S. dollar as a global unit of account, allowing it more leeway in its practices of money printing to generate demand for its debt. For example, you may not like that the U.S. is continually increasing its deficit spending (hindering its store of value function), but your trade contracts require you to use the dollar (supporting its medium of exchange and unit of account function), so you have to use dollars anyway. Put simply, if foreign governments won’t buy U.S. debt, then the U.S. government will print money to buy it from itself and contracts require foreign governments to use that newly printed money. In this sense, when the U.S. government’s creditworthiness (reputation) falls short, its military capabilities (security) pick up the slack. The U.S. trades military protection for increased foreign dollar demand, enabling it to continuously run a deficit. Let’s summarize. Since its establishment, the dollar has served the functions of money best at an international level because it can be easily traded in global markets (i.e., it’s liquid), and contracts are denominated in it (e.g., trade and debt contracts). As U.S. capital markets are the broadest, most liquid and maintain a track record of secure property rights (i.e., strong reputation), it makes sense that countries would utilize it because there is a relatively lower risk of significant upheaval in U.S. capital markets. Contrast this idea with the Chinese renminbi which has struggled to gain dominance as a global store of value, medium of exchange and unit of account due to the political uncertainty of its government (i.e., poor reputation) which maintains capital controls on foreign exchange markets and frequently intervenes to manipulate its price. U.S. foreign intervention is rare. Further, having a strong military presence enforces dollar demand for commodity trade per agreements with foreign countries. Countries that denominate contracts in dollars would need to be comfortable trading away military security from the U.S. to buck this trend. With belligerent Eastern leaders increasing their expanse, this security need is considerable. Let’s look at how the functions of money are enabled by a country’s reputation and security: Reputation: primarily enables the store of value function of its currency. Specifically, countries that maintain political and economic stability, and relatively free capital markets, develop a reputation for safety that backs their currency. This safety can also be thought of as creditworthiness. Security: primarily enables the medium of exchange and unit of account functions of its currency. Widespread contract denomination and deep liquidity of a currency entrench its demand in global markets. Military power is what entrenches this demand in the first place. If the reputation of the U.S. declines and its military power withdraws, demand for its currency decreases as well. With the shifts in these two variables in front of mind, let’s consider how demand for the dollar could be affected. OVERVIEW OF THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM Global liquidity and contract denomination can be measured by analyzing foreign reserves, foreign debt issuance, and foreign transactions/volume. Dollar foreign exchange reserves gradually declined from 71% to 60% since the year 2000. Three percent of the decline is accounted for in the euro, 2% from the pound, 2% from the renminbi and the remaining 4% from other currencies. More than half of the 11 percentage point decline has come from China and other economies (e.g., Australian dollars, Canadian dollars, Swiss francs, et al.). While the U.S. dollar decline in dominance is material, it obviously remains dominant. The primary takeaway is that most of the decline in dollar dominance is being captured by smaller currencies, indicating that global reserves are gradually becoming more dispersed. Note that this data should be interpreted with caution as the fall in dollar dominance since 2016 occurred when previous non-reporting countries (e.g., China) began gradually revealing their FX reserves to the IMF. Further, governments don’t have to be honest about the numbers they report — the politically sensitive nature of this information makes it ripe for manipulation. Source: IMF Foreign debt issuance in USD (other countries borrowing in contracts denominated in dollars) has also gradually declined by ~9% since 2000, while the euro has gained ~10%. Debt issuance of the remaining economies was relatively flat over this period so most of the change in dollar debt issued can be attributed to the euro. Source: Federal Reserve The currency composition of foreign transactions is interesting. Historically, globalization has increased the demand for cross-border payments primarily due to: Manufacturers expanding supply chains across borders. Cross-border asset management. International trade. International remittances (e.g., migrants sending money home). This poses a problem for smaller economies: the more intermediaries that are involved in cross-border transactions, the slower and more expensive these payments become. High-volume currencies, such as the dollar, have a shorter chain of intermediaries while lower-volume currencies (e.g., emerging markets) have a longer chain of intermediaries. This is important because it is these emerging markets that stand to lose the most from international payments and for this reason alternative systems are attractive to them. Source: Bank of England If we look at the trend in composition of foreign payments it’s evident that the dollar's share of invoicing is materially greater than its share of exports, illuminating its outsized role of invoicing in proportion to trade. The euro has been competing with the dollar in terms of invoicing share, but this is driven by its usage for export trade among EU countries. For the rest of the world, export share has been, on average, greater than 50% while invoicing share has remained less than 20% on average. Source: Journal of International Economics Lastly, let’s discuss the volume of trade. A currency with high volume of trade means that it is relatively more liquid and thus, more attractive as a trade vehicle. The chart below shows the proportions of volume traded by currency. The dollar has remained dominant and constant since 2000, expressing its desirability as a liquid global currency. What’s important is that the volume of all major global reserve currencies have declined slightly while the volume of “other” smaller world currencies has increased from 15% to 22% in proportion. Source: BIS Triennial Survey; (Note: typically these numbers are shown on a 200% scale — e.g., for 2019 USD would be 88.4% out of 200% — because there are two legs to every foreign exchange trade. I’ve condensed this to a 100% scale for ease of interpretation of the proportions). The dollar is dominant across every metric, although it has been gradually declining. Most notably, economies that are not major world reserves are: Gaining dominance as reserves and thus world FX reserves are becoming more dispersed. Utilizing the dollar for foreign transactions in significantly greater proportions than their exports and limited by a long chain of intermediaries when attempting to use their domestic currencies. Hurt the most by long chains of global intermediaries for their transactions and thus stand to gain the most from alternative systems. Increasing their share of foreign exchange volume (liquidity) while all the major reserve currencies are declining. There exists a trend whereby the smaller and less dominant currencies of the world are expanding but are still limited by dollar dominance. Pair this trend with the global political fragmentation occurring and their continued expansion becomes more plausible. As the U.S. withdraws its military power globally, which backs the dollar’s functions as a medium of exchange and unit of account, it decreases demand for its currency to serve these functions. Further, the dollar’s creditworthiness has declined since implementing the Russian sanctions. The trends of declining U.S. military presence and creditworthiness, as well as increased global fragmentation, indicate that the global monetary regime could experience drastic change in the near term. THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM IS SHIFTING Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and the U.S. subsequently implemented a swath of economic and financial sanctions. I believe history will look back on this event as the initial catalyst of change towards a new era of global monetary order. Three global realizations subsequently occurred: Realization #1: Economic sanctions placed on Russia signaled to the world that US sovereign assets are not risk free. U.S. control over the global monetary system subjects all participating nations to the authority of the U.S. Effectively, ~$300 billion of Russia’s ~$640 billion in foreign exchange reserves were “frozen” (no longer spendable) and it was partially banned (energy still allowed) from the SWIFT international payments system. However, Russia had been de-dollarizing and building up alternative reserves as protection from sanctions throughout previous years. Now Russia is looking for alternatives, China being the obvious partner, but India, Brazil and Argentina are also discussing cooperation. Economic sanctions of this magnitude by the West are unprecedented. This has signaled to countries around the world the risk they run through dependence on the dollar. This doesn’t mean that these countries will begin cooperating as they are all subject to constraints under an international spiderweb of trade and financial relationships. For example, Marko Papic explains in “Geopolitical Alpha” how China is heavily constrained by the satisfaction of its growing middle class (the majority of its population) and fearful that they could fall into the middle-income trap (GDP per capita stalling within the $1,000-12,000 range). Their debt cycle has peaked and economically they are in a vulnerable position. Chinese leaders understand that the middle-income trap has historically brought the death of communist regimes. This is where the U.S. has leverage over China. Economic and financial sanctions targeting this demographic can prevent growth in productivity and that is what China is most afraid of. Just because China wants to partner with Russia and achieve “world domination” does not mean that they will do so since they are subject to constraints. The most important aspect of this realization is that U.S. dollar assets are not risk free: they maintain a risk of appropriation by the U.S. government. Countries with plans to act out of accordance with U.S. interests will likely start de-dollarizing before doing so. However, as much as countries would prefer to opt out of this dollar dependency, they are constrained in doing so as well. Realization #2: It’s not just the U.S. that has economic power over reserves, it’s fiat reserve nations in general. Owning fiat currencies and assets in reserves creates uncertain political risks, increasing the desirability of commodities as reserve assets. Let’s talk about commodity money vs. debt (fiat) money. In his recent paper, Zoltan Pozsar describes how the death of the dollar system has arrived. Russia is a major global commodity exporter and the sanctions have bifurcated the value of their commodities. Similar to subprime mortgages in the 2008 financial crisis, Russian commodities have become “subprime” commodities. They’ve subsequently declined materially in value as much of the world is no longer buying them. Non-Russian commodities are increasing in value as anti-Russia countries are now all purchasing them while the global supply has shrunk materially. This has created volatility in commodity markets, markets that have been (apparently) neglected by financial system risk monitors. Commodity traders often borrow money from exchanges to place their trades, with the underlying commodities as collateral. If the price of the underlying commodity moves too much in the wrong direction, the exchanges tell them that they need to pay more collateral to back their borrowed money (trader get margin-called). Now, traders take both sides in these markets (they bet the price will go up or that it will go down) and therefore, regardless of which direction the price moves, somebody is getting margin-called. This means that as price volatility is introduced to the system, traders need to pay more money to the exchange as collateral. What if the traders don’t have more money to give as collateral? Then the exchange has to cover it. What if the exchanges can’t cover it? Then we have a major credit contraction in the commodity markets on our hands as people start pulling money out of the system. This could lead to large bankruptcies within a core segment of the global financial system. In the fiat world, credit contractions are always backstopped — such as the Fed printing money to bail out the financial system in 2008. What is unique to this situation is that the “subprime” collateral of Russian commodities is what Western central banks would need to step in and buy — but they can’t because their governments are the ones who prevented buying it in the first place. So, who is going to buy it? China. China could print money and effectively bail out the Russian commodity market. If so, China would strengthen its balance sheet with commodities which would strengthen its monetary position as a store of value, all else equal. The Chinese renminbi (also called the “yuan”) would also begin spreading more widely as a global medium of exchange as countries that want to participate in this discounted commodity trade utilize the yuan in doing so. People are referring to this as the growth of the “petroyuan” or “euroyuan” (like the petrodollar and eurodollar, just the yuan). China is also in discussions with Saudi Arabia to denominate oil sales in the yuan. As China is the largest importer of Saudi oil, it makes sense that the Saudis would consider denominating trade in its currency. Further, the lack of U.S. military support for the Saudis in Yemen is all the more reason to switch to dollar alternatives. However, the more the Saudis denominate oil in contracts other than the dollar, the more they risk losing U.S. military protection and would likely become subject to the military influence of China. If the yuan spreads wide enough, it could grow as a unit of account, as trade contracts become denominated in it. This structure of incentives implies two expectations: Alternatives to the U.S. global monetary system will strengthen. Demand for commodity money will strengthen relative to debt-based fiat money. However, the renminbi is only 2.4% of global reserves and has a long way to go towards international monetary dominance. Countries are much less comfortable utilizing the yuan over the dollar for trade due to its political uncertainty risks, control over the capital account and the risk of dependence on Chinese military security. A common expectation is that either the West or the East is going to be dominant once the dust settles. What’s more likely is that the system will continue splitting and we’ll have multiple monetary systems emerge around the globe as countries attempt to de-dollarize — referred to as a multipolar system. Multipolarity will be driven by political and economic self-interest among countries and the removal of trust from the system. The point about trust is key. As countries trust fiat money less, they will choose commodity-based money that requires less trust in an institution to measure its risk. Whether or not China becomes the buyer of last resort for Russian commodities, global leaders are realizing the value of commodities as reserve assets. Commodities are real and credit is trust. Bitcoin is commodity-like money, the scarcest in the world that resides on trustless and disintermediated payment infrastructure. Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, Russia had restricted crypto assets within its economy. Since then, Russia’s position has changed drastically. In 2020, Russia gave crypto assets legal status but banned their use for payments. As recently as January 2022, Russia’s central bank proposed banning the use and mining of crypto assets, citing threats to financial stability and monetary sovereignty. This was in contrast to Russia’s ministry of finance, which had proposed regulating it rather than outright banning it. By February, Russia chose to regulate crypto assets, due to the fear that it would emerge as a black market regardless. By March, a Russian government official announced it would consider accepting bitcoin for energy exports. Russia’s change of heart can be attributed to the desire for commodity money as well as the disintermediated payment infrastructure that Bitcoin can be transferred upon — leading to the third realization. Realization #3: Crypto asset infrastructure is more efficient than traditional financial infrastructure. Because it is disintermediated, it offers a method of possession and transfer of assets that is simply not possible with intermediated traditional financial infrastructure. Donations in support of Ukraine via crypto assets (amounting to nearly $100 million as of this writing) demonstrated to the world the rapidness and efficiency of transferring value via just an internet connection, without relying on financial institutions. It further demonstrated the ability to maintain possession of assets without reliance on financial institutions. These are critical features to have as a war refugee. Emerging economies are paying attention as this is particularly valuable to them. Bitcoin has been used to donate roughly $30 million to Ukraine since the start of the war. Subsequently, a Russian official stated that it will consider accepting bitcoin, which I believe is because they are aware that bitcoin is the only digital asset that can be used in a purely trustless manner. Bitcoin’s role on both sides of the conflict demonstrated that it is apolitical while the freezing of fiat reserves demonstrated that their value is highly political. Let’s tie this all together. Right now, countries are rethinking the type of money they are using and the payment systems they are transferring it on. They will become more avoidant of fiat money (credit), as it is easily frozen, and they are realizing the disintermediated nature of digital payment infrastructure. Consider these motivations alongside the trend of an increasingly fragmented system of global currencies. We’re witnessing a shift towards commodity money among a more fragmented system of currencies moving across disintermediated payment infrastructure. Emerging economies, particularly those removed from global politics, are postured as the first movers towards this shift. While I don’t expect that the dollar will lose primacy anytime soon, its creditworthiness and military backing is being called into question. Consequently, the growth and fragmentation of non-dollar reserves and denominations opens the market of foreign exchange to consider alternatives. For their reserves, countries will trust fiat less and commodities more. There is a shift emerging towards trustless money and desire for trustless payment systems. ALTERNATIVES TO THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM We are witnessing a decline in global trust with the realization that the age of digital money is upon us. Understand that I am referring to incremental adoption of digital money and not full-scale dominance — incremental adoption will likely be the path of least resistance. I expect countries to increasingly adopt trustless commodity assets on disintermediated payment infrastructure, which is what Bitcoin provides. The primary limiting factor to this adoption of bitcoin will be its stability and liquidity. As bitcoin matures into adolescence, I expect this growth to increase rapidly. Countries that want a digital store of value will prefer bitcoin for its sound monetary properties. The countries most interested and least restrained in adopting digital assets will be among the fragmented developing world as they stand to gain the most for the least amount of political cost. While these incremental shifts will be occurring in tandem, I expect the first major shift will be towards commodity reserves. Official reserve managers prioritize safety, liquidity and yield when choosing their reserve assets. Gold is valuable in these respects and will play a dominant role. However, bitcoin’s trustless nature will not be overlooked, and countries will consider it as a reserve despite its tradeoffs with gold, to be discussed below. Let’s walk through what bitcoin adoption could look like: Source: World Gold Council; Advanced reserve economies includes the BIS, BOE, BOJ, ECB (and its national member banks), Federal Reserve, IMF and SNB. Since 2000, gold as a percentage of total reserves has been declining for advanced economies and growing for China, Russia and the other smaller economies. So, the trend towards commodity reserves is already in place. Over this same period gold reserves have fluctuated between nine and 14% of total reserves. Today, total reserves (both gold and FX reserves) amount to $16 trillion, 13% of which ($2.2 trillion) is gold reserves. We can see in the below chart that gold as a percentage of reserves has been rising since 2015, the same year the U.S. froze Iran’s reserves (this was ~$2 billion, a much smaller amount than the Russia sanctions). Source: World Gold Council. Reserves have been growing rapidly in China, Russia and smaller economies as a whole. The chart below shows that non-advanced economies have increased their total reserves by 9.4x and gold reserves by 10x, while advanced economies have increased total reserves by only 4x. China, Russia and the smaller economies command $12.5 trillion in total reserves and $700 billion of those are in gold. Source: World Gold Council. The growth and size of smaller economy reserves is important when considering bitcoin adoption among them as a reserve asset. Smaller countries will ideally want an asset that is liquid, stable, grows in value, disintermediated and trustless. The below illustrative comparison stack ranks broad reserve asset categories by these qualities on a scale of 1-5 (obviously, this is not a science but an illustrative visualization to facilitate discussion): Countries adopt different reserve assets for different reasons, which is why they diversify their holdings. This assessment focuses on the interests of emerging economies for bitcoin adoption considerations. Bitcoin is liquid, although not nearly as liquid as fiat assets and gold. Bitcoin isn’t stable. Standard reserve assets, including gold, are much more stable. Bitcoin will likely offer a much higher capital appreciation than fiat assets and gold over the long run. Bitcoin is the most disintermediated as it has a truly trustless network — this is its primary value proposition. Storing bitcoin doesn’t require trusted intermediaries and thus can be stored without the risk of appropriation — a risk for fiat assets. This point is important because gold does not maintain this quality as it is expensive to move, store and verify. Thus, bitcoin’s primary advantage over gold is its disintermediated infrastructure which allows for trustless movement and storage. With these considerations in mind, I believe the smaller emerging economies that are largely removed from political influence will spearhead the adoption of bitcoin as a reserve asset gradually. The world is growing increasingly multipolar. As the U.S. withdraws its international security and fiat continues to lose creditworthiness, emerging economies will be considering bitcoin adoption. While the reputation of the U.S. is in decline, China’s reputation is far worse. This line of reasoning will make bitcoin attractive. Its primary value-add will be its disintermediated infrastructure which enables trustless payments and storage. As bitcoin continues to mature, its attractiveness will continue to increase. If you think the sovereign fear of limiting its domestic monetary control is a strong incentive to prevent bitcoin adoption, consider what happened in Russia. If you think countries won’t adopt bitcoin for fear of losing monetary control, consider what happened in Russia. While Russia’s central bank wanted to ban bitcoin, the finance ministry opted to regulate it. After Russia was sanctioned, it has been considering accepting bitcoin for energy exports. I think Russia’s behavior shows that even totalitarian regimes will allow bitcoin adoption for the sake of international sovereignty. Countries that demand less control over their economies will be even more willing to accept this tradeoff. There are many reasons that countries would want to prevent bitcoin adoption, but on net the positive incentives of its adoption are strong enough to outweigh the negative. Let’s apply this to the shifts in global reputations and security: Reputations: political and economic stability is becoming increasingly riskier for fiat, credit-based assets. Bitcoin is a safe haven from these risks, as it is fundamentally apolitical. Bitcoin’s reputation is one of high stability, due to its immutability, which is insulated from global politics. No matter what happens, Bitcoin will keep producing blocks and its supply schedule remains the same. Bitcoin is a commodity that requires no trust in the credit of an institution. Security: because Bitcoin cannot trade military support for its usage, it will likely be hindered as a global medium of exchange for some time. Its lack of price stability further limits this form of adoption. Networks such as the Lightning Network enable transactions in fiat assets, like the dollar, over Bitcoin’s network. Although the Lightning Network is still in its infancy, I anticipate this will draw increased demand to Bitcoin as a settlement network — increasing the store of value function of its native currency. It’s important to understand that fiat assets will be used as a medium of exchange for some time due to their stability and liquidity, but the payment infrastructure of bitcoin can bridge the gap in this adoption. Hopefully, as more countries adopt the Bitcoin standard the need for military security will decline. Until then, a multipolar world of fiat assets will be utilized in exchange for military security, with a preference for disintermediated payment infrastructure. CONCLUSION Trust is diminishing among global reputations as countries implement economic and geopolitical warfare, causing a reduction in globalization and shift towards a multipolar monetary system. U.S. military withdrawal and economic sanctions have illuminated the lack of security within credit-based fiat money, which incentivizes a shift towards commodity money. Moreover, economic sanctions are forcing some countries, and signaling to others, that alternative financial infrastructure to the U.S. dollar system is necessary. These shifts in the global zeitgeist are demonstrating to the world the value of commodity money on a disintermediated settlement network. Bitcoin is postured as the primary reserve asset for adoption in this category. I expect bitcoin to benefit in a material way from this global contraction in trust. However, there are strong limitations to full-scale adoption of such a system. The dollar isn’t going away anytime soon, and significant growth and infrastructure is required for emerging economies to utilize bitcoin at scale. Adoption will be gradual, and that is a good thing. Growth in fiat assets over Bitcoin settlement infrastructure will benefit bitcoin. Enabling a permissionless money with the strongest monetary properties will spawn an era of personal freedom and wealth creation for individuals, instead of the incumbent institutions. Despite the state of the world, I’m excited for the future. Whither Bitcoin? Tyler Durden Fri, 04/15/2022 - 13:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 15th, 2022

Escobar: The Living Dead Pax Americana

Escobar: The Living Dead Pax Americana Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Saker blog, Perth in Australia will be a forward base for nuclear-powered and nuclear weapon-carrying American subs. Pax Americana was always a minor character in a zombie apocalypse flick. Pax Americana is actually The Eternal Return of the Living Dead. “Pax” was never in order; War Inc. rules. The end of WWII led directly to the Cold War. The unipolar moment was an arc from the First Gulf War to the bombing of Yugoslavia. 9/11 launched the Global War on Terror (GWOT), renamed Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) by Team Obama. We are now entering Cold War 2.0 against China. What former CIA analyst Ray McGovern memorably describes as the MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex) never did “Pax”. They do War, in unison, like The Knights Who Say “Ni!” – minus the comic flair. Take this Knight for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the heart of the establishment matrix. CFR specializes in Kissingerian Divide and Rule. Now that applies, in spades, to the Russia-China strategic partnership. Knights overwhelmingly state the obvious: “Chinese power must be contained”. They sell the current, serial imperial debacle as “grand strategic moves”, in a quirky, lost in translation mixed salad of Gramsci and Lampedusa: a “new order” (engineered by the Empire) is being born via “everything must change so everything may remain the same” – privileging the Empire. Other Knights even propose the ludicrous notion that the current POTUS, an actual zombie remote-controlled by a teleprompter, is capable of conceiving a “foreign policy for the middle class” , as if the MICIMATT would ever approve a scheme to “advance prosperity in the free world as a whole”. The “free world” has just been stunned by the “prosperity” offered to Afghanistan during 20 “bombing to democracy” years. And then there are British Knights, who at least should have known their Monty Python by heart, carping about illiberalism and the “regimes created by Xi and Putin” , which will “crumble” and be succeeded by “anarchy and new despotisms.” Same old Anglo haughtiness mixed with piercing ignorance. Oh, those Asiatic “tyrannies” threatening the White Man’s civilizational drive. We all live in an Aussie submarine Now it’s all about AUKUS – actually U SUK A. Until recently, only the P5 – the five permanent UNSC members – possessed nuclear-powered submarines. India joined the club, and later rather than sooner, Australia. Every major player knows the next American war will not be about remote Pacific islands. Taiwan, though, is a completely different ball game. U SUK A is mostly about Taiwan. U SUK A was finalized at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay last June. That was an Anglo Boys Club affair, discussed exclusively by the Biden-BoJo-Morrison troika – and duly excluding Japan, even as Tokyo all but drew a samurai sword yelling its intent of supporting Taiwan. The problem is there have been no leaks of the fine print contained in U SUK A. Only spin. Yet it’s already clear that U SUK A goes way beyond building Aussie nuclear subs. Canberra will also have access to Tomahawks, Hornets and even become part of American hypersonic missile research. But then, in a slip, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton gave away the game: U SUK A will allow the upgrading of “the infrastructure in Perth, that will be necessary for the operation of these submarines. I expect we will see…lease arrangements or greater joint operations between our navies in the future.” Translation: Perth will be a forward base for nuclear-powered and nuclear weapon-carrying American subs. Why U SUK A now? Let’s go back to WWII – and the same old cartoonish geopolitics of benign Anglo maritime island powers pitted against the “evil” Eurasian heartland. WWII was the solution to simultaneously prevent Germany from dominating the Atlantic and Japan from dominating the Asia-Pacific (by the way, that’s the correct terminology: “Indo-Pacific” is Empire-speak). Germany-Japan was all about an alliance that would be predominant across the Eurasian heartland. Now, the Empire of Chaos is being slowly but surely expelled from the Eurasian heartland – this time by the Russia-China strategic partnership. Those with technical knowledge across the Beltway – not, not the Knights – are aware the US is not a match for hypersonic Russia. Yet the Americans believe they can make life unbearable for Beijing. The US establishment will allow China to control the Western Pacific over their dead bodies. Enter the instrumentalization of Australia. A big question is what will be the new role of the Five Eyes. With U SUK A, the Anglo Club has already stepped beyond mere intel sharing and spying on communications. This is a military pact between Three Eyes. Depending on the composition of its new government, Germany could become a Sixth Eye – yet in a subordinate role. With U SUK A, NATO as a whole, fresh from its spectacular Afghan debacle, becomes little else than a semi-relevant vassal. This is all about maritime power. U SUK A in effect is a Quad Plus, with India and Japan, the Fifth Columnist Asians, only allowed to play the role of, once again, mere vassals. War before 2040 Not surprisingly, the first, concise technical and strategic assessment of U SUK A is Russian, written by Alexander Timokhin and published in Vzglyad, closely linked to GRU intelligence. Here, provided by John Helmer, is an essential English translation. The key points: the extra subs will create a serious, additional threat; “the problem of combating enemy submarine forces will become quite acute for China.” Geographically, “Australia can completely block the connection between China and the Indian Ocean.” Australia will meet the deadlines only if it lays “more submarines a year than the Americans.” It is “possible to quickly make Australia a country with a submarine fleet.” These “gigantic investments and sharp political turns are not carried out just like that. The hegemony of the Anglo-Saxons in the world is seriously shaken.” And that brings us to the inevitable conclusion: “It is worth recognizing that the world is on the verge of war.” Even before the Vzglyad strategic assessment, I had submitted the ravings of yet another Beltway Knight – widely praised as a sage – to an old school, dissident Deep State intel analyst. His assessment was merciless. He wrote me, “the geopolitical logic is that the China-Russia alliance was determined to be against US interests, much as the Mao-Stalin alliance. SEATO and NATO are being replicated. The treaty between England, Australia and the US is part of the Pacific rebalancing, or a new SEATO. NATO is part of the offset against Russia-China in Europe.” On what might lie ahead, he noted that “the coup against the US, Australia, England and NATO would be a French-Russian alliance to break up NATO and isolate Germany. Russia has unsuccessfully approached Germany, and now may approach France. The loss of France would effectively end NATO.” He sees U SUK A all dressed up with nowhere to go: “As it stands now, China is in command of the Pacific and Australia and Britain mean nothing. Russia can overrun NATO in two weeks, our adversaries’ hypersonic missiles can destroy all NATO airfields within five to ten minutes and the battle for Europe would be over.” He’s adamant that “the US cannot project power into the Pacific. Chinese submarine missiles would finish off the US fleet in short order. The Australian submarine issue is really irrelevant; if the CIA had an organization that was worth anything they would know that our adversaries already can spot and destroy our nuclear submarines without the slightest difficulty. The entire US Navy is obsolete and defenseless against Russian missiles.” And it gets worse – at least for the cheerleading Knights: “The F-35 is obsolete. The Air Force is largely worthless, as Russian and Chinese missiles can finish off their airfields or aircraft carriers in short order. The woke US Army is more worthless than the French Army with their Maginot Line. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are paid less than 200k a year, and are second or third rate talent. The US is a sinking ship.” Assuming that’s really the case, the – nuclear – war against China in the Western Pacific, projected in the Beltway to happen in the second half of the 2030s, would be over even before it started. Taiwan may even be part of China by then – an offshoot of Beijing always proposing economic exchanges to all, while Washington always “proposes” war. One thing though will never change: The Knights Who Say “Ni!” singin’ the praise of Pax Americana to the utter indifference of the unruly plebs. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/30/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 1st, 2021

DeSantis Probe Of Human Traffickers Cleared By Florida Supreme Court

DeSantis Probe Of Human Traffickers Cleared By Florida Supreme Court Authored by Gary Bai via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday gave permission to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to order a statewide probe into alleged human trafficking activities aided by transnational crime organizations (TCOs). Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference held at the Assault Brigade 2506 Honorary Museum in Hialeah, Fla., on Aug. 5, 2021. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) The court approved DeSantis’s request to impanel a statewide grand jury for an initial duration of 12 calendar months to investigate TCOs and their affiliates who allegedly smuggle people—especially children—across the southern border, according to court records reviewed by The Epoch Times. The statewide grand jury would independently investigate the criminal activities alleged in the petition, including human smuggling, kidnapping, and laundering of illegal substances, and make recommendations on current laws and law enforcement methods if deemed necessary, according to the petition. Judge Ellen S. Masters, Chief Judge for the Tenth Judicial Circuit, will preside over the grand jury. “The purpose of the grand jury will be to investigate individuals and organizations that are actively working with foreign nationals, drug cartels, coyotes, to illegally smuggle minors—some as young as 2 years old—across the border and into Florida,” DeSantis said during a press briefing on June 17. “Many children who are smuggled are ‘assaulted, raped, kidnaped, and/or killed,’” the petition reads. “They are used to traffic drugs and weapons, as well as launder money.” The petition continued by citing government data that Border Patrol agents have apprehended over 108,000 unaccompanied children who had illegally crossed the border in fiscal year 2021. Almost all unaccompanied minors are being smuggled up from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador, according to Customs and Border Protection data. Once apprehended, unaccompanied children are processed by Border Patrol and transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), usually within 72 hours. HHS then places the child with a sponsor, who often is a family member of the child, according to the petition. According to a June 17 press release on the governor’s website, the grand jury would also “investigate local governments that are aiding this smuggling scheme by intentionally violating state law, which requires them to cooperate with the federal government on immigration matters.” The petition names Miami-Dade County as one of the government bodies under investigation. “According to reports from federal law enforcement, however, Miami–Dade County is refusing to honor federal requests to take custody of criminal aliens in Miami–Dade’s detention facilities, including aliens arrested for attempted murder, domestic violence by strangulation, assault with a deadly weapon, and lewd and lascivious behavior on a minor,” the petition states. “Miami-Dade appears to be basing this unlawful conduct on fraudulent use of the victim and witness exception.” DeSantis’s petition comes as a part of what his office announced as a three-part measure to “protect Floridians from the dangerous impacts of the Biden Border crisis.” The two other parts include assembling a “strike force of state and local law enforcement” personnel to tackle illegal border activities and signing into law a bill (SB 1808) that will prohibit “government agencies from contracting with any common carrier facilitating the resettlement of illegal aliens into Florida.” Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report. Tyler Durden Sat, 07/02/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge2 hr. 20 min. ago

Several NYC Election Sites Had "No Republican Ballots" During Last Week"s Primary

Several NYC Election Sites Had 'No Republican Ballots' During Last Week's Primary Last week's primary voting in New York City was a complete debacle - as the city's Board of Elections botched everything from polling locations opening late because of 'lost keys,' to missing equipment, to unannounced relocations of voting sites, to a lack of Republican ballots across at least three Big Apple election sites. "We showed up to the poll site in Brooklyn, we showed up at 5 a.m. … and there was no key," Spencer Mestel, a freelance writer, told the New York Post on Tuesday afternoon, adding that he saw poll workers turn away an elderly woman with a walker because they couldn't get in. "The police officer on site didn’t have a key, the Board of Elections didn’t give [the site coordinator] a key, I watched her call the Board of Election multiple times … [but] no one helped us," added the journalist who has served as a NYC election worker for the past decade. The building was eventually unlocked at 7:30 a.m. by the building's superintendent - more than 90 minutes after voters should have been able to start casting ballots. Meanwhile, the Board of Elections failed to deliver equipment to one south Brooklyn location. It's 6:30 AM on election day and my poll site at PS 15 in Red Hook is not open because @BOENYC has not brought them equipment and they don't know how long it will be. Voters are getting turned away. — Molly Moser (@MollyMoser6) June 28, 2022 And at PS 22 in Crown Heights, New Yorkers weren’t able to vote before work, because of a “technical emergency!” according to a photo shared on Twitter by activist and writer Stephen Lurie. -NY Post Far poorer cities in far poorer countries regularly run efficient elections where everyone can vote. The politicians and cronies of New York City and the state *choose* our local democracy to be this bad. — Stephen Lurie (@luriethereal) June 28, 2022 Also disturbing -  polling locations had been changed without the BOE informing anyone. Thanks @BOENYC for changing my polling place without notifying me turnout was already gonna be great today — Reed Dunlea (@ReedDunlea) June 28, 2022 The BOE's response? Election day had gone "very smoothly" and voters had been notified of site changes. "If a human error occurs, it’s regretful and, in large measure, we correct immediately," said BOE deputy executive director, Vinny Ignizio. "All told, we’ll run eight elections this year and this primary election has run very smoothly." Speaking of human error - at least three NYC election sites told voters they had no Republican ballots, according to the Post. One voter, Ed Gavin, 62, arrived at his Bronx polling site in Spuyten Duyvil around 8:15 a.m. to cast his vote for GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino but after checking in with a poll worker, he was handed a Democratic ballot instead, he said. -NYP "My party never came up, my political preferences were never discussed … I opened the sleeve and I saw the names of Tom Suozzi, Kathy Hochul and Jumaane Williams. These were all Democrats for governor," said Gavin, a retired Department of Correction deputy warden. "I flipped it over because I thought maybe the Republicans were on the back but there were no Republicans." "They told me ‘we don’t have any Republican ballots,'" he added. "I said to the gentleman, ‘that is very concerning.’" The Post verified the lack of Republican ballots at the polling site Gavin visited. "We couldn’t find the ballots earlier, but we have them now," said a poll worker. Gavin was pissed.. "This is the most important gubernatorial election of my lifetime because crime is on the ballot, bail reform is on the ballot, criminal justice is on the ballot," he said, adding "[Former Gov. Andrew] Cuomo essentially ruined this state … with the state of the city right now, we need a Republican in power." After he reported the problem to the BoE, a rep said they would "correct it immediately." Republican strategist Candice Giove had the same thing happen in Bushwick, Brooklyn around 11 a.m. "I was handed a Democratic ballot and I realized when I opened the folder and I saw Kathy Hochul’s name," she told the Post, adding that she told the poll worker 'I'm not a Democrat, I'm a Republican,' to which the poll worker replied, "We don't have any Republican ballots." After they went back and looked, workers found a stack of Republican ballots "shrink wrapped under a bunch" of other things - after which she was able to cast her vote. The list goes on: Harlem resident Eric Larsen, a registered Republican, told The Post an election worker provided him with a Democratic Primary ballot, before falsely insisting a Republican Primary wasn’t being held Tuesday.  A different staffer then apologized, acknowledged the existence of the GOP primary, and scrambled to find a Republican ballot in a cabinet.  “I know that Central Harlem is predominantly Democratic, but I found it hard to believe that a polling location even in a mostly Democratic location wouldn’t have had enough Republican ballots by the middle of the day on primary day,” said Larsen, who works in finance. “I did eventually get one … [but] they gave me a hard time.” -NY Post In short, levels of 'human error' are once again off the charts. Tyler Durden Sat, 07/02/2022 - 16:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge6 hr. 52 min. ago

Palestinian authorities gave a fragment of the bullet that killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to US officials for a ballistics test

The Palestinian Authority refused to give the bullet they extracted from Abu Akleh's body to Israel, claiming they don't trust them. Palestinians visit the site where Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank on May 18, 2022.Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in May while covering a raid in the West Bank. Several investigations concluded that she was killed by an Israeli bullet.  Palestinian authorities on Saturday gave the bullet to US officials for ballistic testing.  The Palestinian Authority gave the bullet that killed Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh to a US official for ballistic testing, Axios reported. "We agreed to transfer the bullet to the Americans for examination," Akram al-Khatib, General Prosecutor for the Palestinian Authority, told Reuters, but did not provide any additional details. Senior Israeli officials told Axios the bullet was given to US security coordinator Lt. Gen. Mike Fenzel on Saturday and said they expect the results to be ready on Sunday. Abu Akleh was killed on May 11 while reporting on an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin. She was wearing a helmet and a vest marked with "Press," at the time of the shooting. A Palestinian investigation as well as independent investigations by several news outlets concluded that an Israeli bullet is what killed Abu Akleh. The Palestinian authority concluded that Abu Akleh's death was  "deliberate murder" by an Israeli soldier, Reuters reported. Axios reported that the Palestinians did not trust Israeli authorities and refused to hand over the fragment of the bullet that was taken from Abu Akleh's body. The US had been requesting the bullet for weeks. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider8 hr. 52 min. ago

Anatomy Of A Bear Market: Even The Fed Can"t Rescue Market If Earnings Tank

Anatomy Of A Bear Market: Even The Fed Can't Rescue Market If Earnings Tank By Nicholas Colas of DataTrek Research If you were trading/investing from 2000 – 2002, today’s stock market action likely gave you a sense of déjà vu. It certainly did for us. The current bear market has taken as much out of the S&P 500 in 6 months as was the case in the first 12 months during the early 2000’s downturn. Also, recall that the Fed shifted to an aggressive easing stance in early 2001 and that did nothing to end the bear market because of uncertainty around corporate earnings, which fell by 32 pct. Bottom line: bear markets always end, but we remain cautious/defensive. * * * This week's disappointing equity price action got us thinking once again about the 2000 – 2002 bear market, and that is the subject of today’s “Markets” section. To be clear, we are not predicting US equities will lose half their value from the early January 2022 highs, as they did from peak to trough in the early 2000s. The point here is to understand the contours and narratives of a lengthy bear market, and for that there is no better case study in the modern era than 2000 – 2002. There is a chart at the end of this section with a comparison of the S&P 500’s price action from the March 2000 highs to the lows in October 2002 and the index’s price performance from the early January 2022 highs to today. Here are 4 points we see in that data: #1: US large caps have declined much more quickly in 2022 than at the start of the early 2000s bear market: At this point in 2000 (day 122 of that bear market), the S&P was only off 4 percent from its March highs. As of today’s close, the index is off 20.3 percent from its January 2022 highs of 4,797. If you were trading or investing in markets back in 2000, you know the reason for this difference: back then, it was the NASDAQ that first fell dramatically from its March 2000 highs. Investors cycled into more traditional names to play defense against the rout in tech shares. That put a temporary bid under the S&P 500. Some of the same thing happened earlier this year, but its effect only lasted through Q1. The S&P ended the first quarter only down 5.6 percent on the year. Since then the selloff has been much more widespread, as would be the case later in the 2000 – 2002 bear market. Takeaway: the S&P 500 of 2022 is running the 2000 – 2002 bear market playbook at an accelerated rate. It took the index a year to drop by 20 percent in 2000 – 2001, and we’ve done that in 6 months this time now. A combination of geopolitical issues and their effect on oil prices as well as Fed rate policy are the central reasons for this more precipitous decline. #2: The 2000 – 2002 bear market had its start as the result of Federal Reserve monetary policy, but even when the Fed shifted its stance stocks continued to drop: The Fed had been increasing interest rates since June 1999 by 25 basis points at 2 meetings that year and at the first 2 meetings in 2000. It then bumped rates by 50 basis points at the May 16th, 2000 meeting. This was the last rate hike of that tightening cycle. Starting in early January 2001, the Fed began cutting rates aggressively. There was an unscheduled (“emergency”) rate cut on January 3rd of 50 basis points, followed by another 50 bp reduction at the regularly scheduled January 31st meeting. The FOMC then went on to reduce rates by 50 basis points again at the March and May meetings, with another emergency cut on April 18th as well. The second half of 2001 saw the Fed cut interest rates at every regularly scheduled meeting by 25 basis points, except for the October meeting where it reduced rates by 50 basis points. This was a follow-on step after the emergency cut of 50 bp on September 17th, just after the 9-11 terror attacks. The last rate cut of the 2000 – 2002 bear market came on November 6th, 2002, another 50 basis points. From May 2000 to November 2002, Fed Funds went from 6.5 percent to 1.25 percent. Takeaway: the lesson for today is that a change in Fed policy alone is no guaranty of a stock market rally. Even as the Federal Reserve was busy reducing interest rates through the first 8 months of 2001, the S&P 500 fell by 14.1 percent. Moreover, 10-year Treasury yields fell throughout the entire 2000 – 2002 bear market. They peaked at 6.8 percent in January 2000 and troughed in October 2002 at 3.6 percent. As with Fed monetary policy, that was not enough to support equity valuations. #3: Corporate earnings declined from 2000 – 2001 because of the March – November 2001 recession, and the bear market lows came AFTER the lows for earnings power: S&P 500 earnings power on a quarterly basis peaked in Q2 2000 at $14.88/share, just after the March 2000 highs. Quarterly earnings bottomed at $9.02/share in Q2 2001, 39 percent lower than the prior year peak. Earnings had already recovered to $11.61/share in Q3 2002, 28 percent off the lows, before the S&P 500 made its bottom in October of that year. Annualized S&P earnings power fell by 32 percent from peak to trough during 2000 – 2002, on the low side of the typical 25 – 50 percent decline in earnings power typical during a recession. Takeaway: 2002 was a rare case when stocks ignored a very visible increase in earnings power after a recession since geopolitical risk remained an overhang in the year after the 9-11 terror attacks. As much as earnings drive stock prices, geopolitics – especially those centered on the Middle East and tied to oil-producing states – can trump those over long enough periods to matter to investors. The October 2002 lows occurred the same week as Congress’ approval for military action against Iraq, an odd catalyst for a bear market low, but it did have the effect of removing any uncertainty about the future course of American foreign policy. One secondary issue worth noting is that investors were growing concerned about a “double dip” recession in 2002. #4: Wrapping up with 3 lessons for today’s market: The chart below shows what investors are coming to realize about the 2022 bear market: short term rallies can and do occur. They can seem like turning points, even when they are not. Let’s be careful with the idea that a change in Fed monetary policy alone can mark a turning point for the direction of stocks. This was certainly not the case in 2001 because of rising uncertainty related to corporate earnings as recession took hold. Such is the case again now, with S&P earnings near their peak at present ($55/share) but there is little visibility about where they go in the second half of the year and into 2023 if Fed policy has the desired effect of cooling the US economy. A confluence of events created the 2000 – 2002 bear market, and we are experiencing similar issues in 2022 at an accelerated pace and without the chance of any near-term support from the Federal Reserve. The logical response to that setup is to invest defensively and bide one’s time until there is more clarity. Tyler Durden Sat, 07/02/2022 - 10:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge13 hr. 8 min. ago

Roe v. Wade"s fall is a "turning point" for Chief Justice John Roberts" control over the Supreme Court, court watchers say

The chief justice's power is waning as his five fellow conservatives move the court quickly to the right. Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo on April 23, 2021. Chief Justice John Roberts sits in the center.Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Image The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts sought a middle-ground. The major ruling shows Roberts' influence is waning, court watchers said. "What you're really seeing is that he's no longer the center of the court," one expert said. The Supreme Court's conservative wing eradicated the constitutional right to abortion — and Chief Justice John Roberts could not stop them. Roberts, who favors incremental rather than sweeping changes to the law, sought to weaken Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. But the other five conservative justices charged full steam ahead without him, overturning 50 years of precedent and handing abortion decision-making to the states. Political pundits and legal scholars insisted last Friday's ruling, for the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, revealed that Roberts has lost control over the nation's highest court. Yet Roberts had lost much of his leverage after the court expanded its conservative tilt in 2020, when Justice Amy Coney Barrett replaced the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.The chief justice, eclipsed by the majority, was powerless as his fellow conservatives overturned Roe, driving the court quickly to the right, court watchers told Insider. Roe's fall presents the most glaring instance yet of the court's conservatives sidestepping Roberts to shape the law on their terms. "We may be at a real turning point in terms of his leadership, in terms of the court as an institution," Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said.As chief justice, Roberts has tried to persuade members of the court to avoid such polarizing decisions to protect its reputation. Though his desired outcomes were never guaranteed given the court's current strong-willed majority, court watchers said."Bottom line is: he's still the commander of the ship, but the ship has very active people who have their own strong opinions and who outnumber him," Mark Kende, a constitutional law professor at Drake University, told Insider.Court watchers widely believe that Roberts, who has sat on the bench for 17 years, pursued the narrow ruling as part of his longtime goal of defending the Supreme Court's legitimacy. His efforts fell short, and the court's reputation is expected to plunge with Roe's reversal, a reality that's bound to upset the chief justice."What you're really seeing is that he's no longer the center of the court," Sherry Colb, a professor at Cornell Law School, told Insider. "He doesn't like what's happening."Roberts' waning influence Before the Supreme Court's decision, Roberts was reportedly advocating for a middle-ground approach to the monumental case: uphold a Mississippi law in question that banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and do nothing else. That position would have whittled Roe down, eliminating its roughly 24-week viability standard, but stopped short of completely throwing out federal abortion rights. Roberts needed one justice to join him to prevent the court from overruling Roe, along with a subsequent 1992 abortion decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey."This is typical of the chief justice," Richard Pierce, a George Washington University law professor, told Insider. "What he is about, more than anything else, is trying to protect the reputation of the court and the culture of the court as a group of people who reason with one another."Roberts could not force any member of the court to rule a certain way. He could only lure them to his side. Yet the rest of the conservative bloc – Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Barrett – bested the chief justice, leaving him on his own."The Court's decision to overrule Roe and Casey is a serious jolt to the legal system—regardless of how you view those cases," Roberts wrote in a concurring opinion. "A narrower decision rejecting the misguided viability line would be markedly less unsettling, and nothing more is needed to decide this case."Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.Julia Nikhinson-Pool/Getty ImagesThe chief justice's colleagues went on to dismiss his thinking and his preference to observe judicial restraint."The concurrence's most fundamental defect is its failure to offer any principled basis for its approach," Alito wrote in the majority opinion. "In sum, the concurrence's quest for a middle way would only put off the day when we would be forced to confront the question we now decide," he continued. "The turmoil wrought by Roe and Casey would be prolonged. It is far better—for this Court and the country—to face up to the real issue without further delay."Just two years ago, Roberts was more likely to hold some sway over the court. He held the pivotal swing vote, maneuvering a series of high-profile decisions on Obamacare, abortion, and other important issues. At the time, Roberts earned a spot on Time Magazine's 100 most influential people list, where retired Justice Anthony Kennedy fondly credited the chief justice's role that "strengthened the court and the rule of law."This was before Barrett joined the bench, creating five conservative votes that could form a majority without Roberts. His swing vote was relinquished."He's moved from being a necessary vote for the conservative bloc to being basically not necessary," I. Glenn Cohen, a professor at Harvard Law School, told Insider. "He's no longer needed for the conservative justices to have their way."The Supreme Court's public standingTo be sure, Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, is not an abortion-rights supporter. The chief justice aired out his grievances with Roe last Friday. Despite his opposition to the majority's reversal of the landmark ruling, Roberts gave a nod to their "thoughtful and thorough" opinion. "I agree with the Court that the viability line established by Roe and Casey should be discarded," Roberts wrote in his concurring opinion. "That line never made any sense."Roberts' strategy, if it had been adopted, would have substantially eroded Roe's protections and allowed states to restrict abortion. What would have likely been preserved was Roe's core tenet that women do have a constitutional right to get an abortion. Had Roberts had his way, abortion rights would have been chipped away over time, rather than all at once, according to court watchers. The chief justice's "more measured course," as he put it, was mostly a display of his effort to protect the court's independence, they said.Abortion rights activists rally outside the US Supreme Court after the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 30, 2022.NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images"He's not in favor of Roe. He's not in favor of abortion rights. But he does want the court to at least be perceived as legitimate," Radhika Rao, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law, told Insider. "Now the veil of legitimacy has been removed and the country is seeing the court as a partisan, political institution."By upending the status quo, the court's conservatives have undermined Roberts' aim to insulate the institution from partisan politics, Rao added.The Supreme Court's approval ratings reached historic lows even before last Friday's decision dropped. The ruling has ignited a political firestorm in the US that's anticipated to make the court more unpopular. Though Roberts tried to separate himself from the historic move, it will ultimately fall under his legacy, along with the blowback that comes with it, as periods of Supreme Court history are normally labeled under the chief justice's name. "This is the Roberts court, and I'm sure he feels that he wants to leave the court stronger, not weaker, at the end of his tenure," said Keith Werhan, a constitutional law professor at Tulane University. "I suspect that this troubles him greatly."This blockbuster term has ended, but significant questions – including ones dealing with abortion – may soon make their way before the nation's highest court again, continuing to test the chief justice's leadership. "I don't have the sense that he ever gives up," Tobias said. "I just don't think that's in his DNA."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider15 hr. 8 min. ago

Fed Chair Powell was the economic hero of the pandemic recovery. Now America has turned on him as inflation torches wallets.

The Fed and its leader enjoyed a high approval rating as it rescued America from the pandemic. But the tables have turned. Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System testifies before the House Committee on Financial Services June 23, 2022 in Washington, DCWin McNamee/Getty Images Fed Chair Powell's relief actions in 2020 won widespread praise. Now he's catching flak for inflation. Recent rate hikes have been criticized for slowing hiring and risking an economic downturn. With inflation at 41-year highs, Powell will likely endure heavy criticism before the problem is solved. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was one of the most celebrated policymakers of 2020.Under his leadership, the central bank unleashed a quick and creative response to an unprecedented economic crisis. The Fed cut interest rates to near zero, buoyed financial markets with huge asset purchases, and started rolling out no less than nine emergency lending programs all in the span of a few weeks, and before much of the country had locked down.Democrats and Republicans alike threw their support behind Powell. Claudia Sahm, a former Fed economist, characterized him as "Washington's best-liked man" in a March 2021 profile in The New York Times. New York Magazine deemed Powell "the world's best bureaucrat."Times have since changed. The labor market has quickly rebounded, but inflation now poses the greatest risk to the economic recovery. That problem is the Fed's to solve, and Powell is catching just as much flak today as he was winning acclaim one year ago.It doesn't help that the Fed's popularity had such a long way to fall. The central bank "was able to shine as an independent-within-government agency" during the kind of crisis that required rapid action, Kaleb Nygaard — a senior research associate at the Yale Program on Financial Stability and a former Chicago Fed analyst — told Insider. While Congress was still finalizing its first round of stimulus checks and boosted unemployment benefits, the Fed had already rolled out all the tools in its toolbox and then some."The government actually did pretty well during that first bit in responding to the economic crisis, but the Fed was able to go super fast, which is exactly what you want them to do," Nygaard added.That independence is now acting against the Fed's broad appeal. The Biden administration has punted most of the inflation problem to the central bank, with Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, telling Bloomberg TV on June 10 that "the Fed has the tools that it needs, and we are giving them the space that it needs to operate."Chief among those tools are higher interest rates, and the Fed has been using them at a historic pace. Officials raised the Fed's benchmark interest rate by 0.75 percentage points on June 15, marking the largest one-off hike since 1994. By lifting rates, the central bank aims to slow Americans' spending and close the gap between supply and demand.The increases represent the central bank's best bet for cooling inflation, but the same lawmakers that cheered the Fed's emergency measures in 2020 are pushing back."The risk is that the measures you're taking will slow down other parts of the economy without getting us the benefit of lower prices," Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland told Powell.Higher rates also slow economic growth, meaning companies will likely hire at a slower pace and issue smaller raises in the near future. Several Senate Democrats hammered Powell in a Tuesday hearing, arguing the Fed was slowing the labor market's recovery in hopes of cooling inflation. Republicans, meanwhile, pilloried the Fed chair for not raising rates sooner and allowing inflation to reach 41-year highs.Everyday Americans aren't happy with the tradeoff, either. Consumer sentiment sits at its lowest recorded level since the late 1970s as households cite inflation for their growing pessimism. Google searches for "recession" surged to record highs amid fears that the Fed's aggressive hiking plans could slow economic growth to a halt.Labor activists staked out the Federal Reserve building in Washington, DC earlier in June urging policymakers to keep pursuing maximum employment. Rate hikes might slow inflation, they argued, but it will slam the brakes on job creation while the unemployment rate for minorities sits well above that for white Americans."We stand opposed to the Federal Reserve taking any action that throws Black workers under the bus for inflation that we did not cause," Jennifer Wells, deputy director of Black Led Organizing at Community Change, said at the June 14 protest. "We have such a long way to go, and they are in that room making decisions to slow what little we have down."Powell has defended the Fed's decision-making throughout, arguing on Tuesday that officials would've likely started raising rates earlier if they had known that factors like war and rolling lockdowns in China would complicate the problem. He also pointed to the labor market's strength as a sign that the economy is resilient and can withstand higher rates.Until inflation slows, however, the Fed is playing catch-up. The central bank took a gamble early in the pandemic, Nygaard said, allowing inflation to run hotter than usual in pursuit of a faster labor-market recovery. The plan reflected lessons learned from the Great Recession and the sluggish rebound that followed. Policymakers saw the risk of overreacting as less than the risk of under-reacting, but that bet simply didn't work out in the Fed's — and the country's — favor, Nygaard added."They gave it more odds that this would bring employment back without causing inflation ... it just so happened that inflation got out of hand," he said. "They were on the wrong side of the bet, even through it was the right bet to make."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider15 hr. 8 min. ago

Airline passenger spent a total of 11 hours on hold to customer service before giving up and booking new tickets for $800

After her flight from Phoenix to Edmonton on Swoop was cancelled, Jody Caskey says she made numerous futile attempts to contact the Canadian airline. Swoop is a low-cost airline owned by WestJet.Swoop A passenger meant to fly home from Phoenix to Edmonton on Swoop had her flight canceled.  Jody Caskey says she spent more than 11 hours on calls trying to reach a customer service agent. She finally resorted to booking a new flight at a cost of $800 that will add 7 hours to her journey. An airline passenger spent a total of 11 hours trying to get through to a customer service agent after her flight was cancelled.Jody Caskey had flown on Swoop Airlines to Phoenix, Arizona from Edmonton in Canada but her return flight was canceled by the Canadian airline on June 28.After being told by email that she could either obtain a refund or book new flights with Swoop's owner WestJet, she emailed to opt for rebooking. However, two emails went unanswered so Caskey decided to ring the airline. "I called six times – four times on hold for at least two hours. Every time the phone disconnected right over the two-hour mark," she told Insider.After spending more than 11 hours trying to get through, she gave up and booked a new flight on WestJet for herself and her family at a cost of $800. The Phoenix to Edmonton flight normally takes three and a half hours, but her return journey now includes a connection in Calgary, adding seven hours to her journey.Caskey has been forced to cut her vacation short as well and said her break had been "upended" by the disruption. She hoped Swoop will give her a refund and pay for the new flights due to the inconvenience. "I am willing to take Swoop to court – $800 is not a huge sum but the principle of it is that they are doing it on purpose."Caskey had used Swoop three times previously but vowed never to fly with them again as it had been a "terrible experience."It comes after an American Airlines passenger drove to Denver airport to rebook his tickets after its customer service center left him on hold for nearly four hours.US airlines have canceled at least 35,000 flights since June 16, leaving passengers frustrated amid rising travel disruption due to lack of staff and high demand. Swoop was contacted for comment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider15 hr. 8 min. ago

Chile redrafted its constitution to help end the nation"s wealth gap. Here"s how the fragile process is going and what we can learn from it.

Chile confirms that "things can change, and sometimes very quickly," when those in power lose their legitimacy in the public's eyes, a historian says. In 2019, more than a million Chileans protested wealth inequality.Reuters/Ivan Alvarado Paul Constant is a writer at Civic Ventures and the cohost of the "Pitchfork Economics" podcast. He recently spoke with Historian Marcelo Casals about Chile's progress. The country faces an uphill battle as it votes on a new constitution in September. Chile has a long and proud history of political protests. But the uprising of late 2019, when more than a million Chileans took to the streets to protest outsize wealth inequality, was unlike anything in the nation's history. Those protests, which started over a subway fare hike in Santiago, led to a redraft of Chile's constitution, and in late 2021, a 35-year-old progressive liberal named Gabriel Boric ran on an anti-inequality platform to become the country's youngest president.When he won the election, Boric promised to put an end to Chile's long-held economic system that favored the wealthy and corporations, saying that "If Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave."Historian Marcelo Casals joined the latest episode of "Pitchfork Economics" to explain how the redrafting of Chile's constitution is going, and whether Boric has moved toward his promise to end the nation's egregious wealth inequality. While strong steps have been taken toward making Chile's economy more inclusive, Casals said, that hard-fought progress is in a fragile state as the new constitution heads toward a public vote this fall. The free-market economic policies that were put in place during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s have taken their toll on Chile: While Chile is the wealthiest nation in South America, that wealth is unevenly distributed. The nation is the most unequal of the 38 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and half of all Chilean workers earned less than $550 per month at the time of the 2019 protests. Adopted under Pinochet in 1980, Chile's constitution prioritized the ownership of private property above all else, thereby allowing corporations to scoop up water rights, public land, and other resources. Casals said that the constitution also "defined the state as subsidiary," deemphasizing government as a last resort to step in when the free market fails to find a solution in areas like healthcare and education. That hands-off approach to capitalism has created extreme, even life-threatening inequality. Chile is the only nation in the world with a fully privatized water market, and a 2020 analysis found that just "1% of registered actors own 79.02% surface consumption rights," which the authors term as an "abysmal" level of inequality. As a result, water prices for consumers in Chile are the highest in all of Latin America, mismanagement and deregulation has led to public-health emergencies, and the nation has suffered from a decade-long "mega-drought" worsened by climate change.Chile's proposed new constitution under Boric goes up for a vote on September 4. It increases labor force participation by requiring gender parity in government roles and creating gender pay and hiring regulations that look to close the nation's shocking 20 percentage-point gap between male and female unemployment. The constitution also breaks corporate monopolies over environmental resources, enshrining environmental protections for clean air and water and blocking a few corporations from drawing wealth out of the nation's natural resources and away from the country. And it also establishes government offices that would create a social safety net ensuring more robust economic inclusion from low-income populations. Like most other nations, Chile has struggled with the pandemic and its resulting inflationary crisis, and the population is exhausted and angry. While voters gave progressive leadership a 78% mandate to write the new constitution, recent polling shows that they're waiting to make up their minds on the results. Support for the new constitution, which needs a simple majority to be adopted, is currently hovering near 40%, with just below a third of voters ready to reject it and the rest undecided. "It'll be a very close call," Casals said. "If the new constitution is not approved, that will be a political disaster — especially for the left-wing government in Chile."As with the United States, Brazil, and other countries around the world, Chile has seen the rise of a "conservative, anti-left, anti-progressive reaction," Casals said, adding he believes that in the next election, if the constitution isn't adopted, "a far-right populist candidate can be elected," and that candidate could reverse the progress Casals has made toward unspooling the nation's 40-year neoliberal campaign of deregulation for the powerful and tax cuts for the rich. When asked if the United States has anything to learn from Chile's recent antineoliberal wave, Casals said that his nation, with its tumultuous history of protests and sweeping changes, is in a unique position. But as a historian, he said, the last three years in Chile confirm his belief that "things can change, and sometimes very quickly," when those in political and economic power lose their legitimacy in the eyes of the public. As inequality balloons out of control, a majority of the people will likely come to believe that their leaders are only serving the needs of an elite few at the expense of everyone else. Under those conditions, he said, even inspired by something as small as the equivalent of a nickel increase in subway fares, "people can create change in a very institutionalized way by creating a new political system."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider15 hr. 8 min. ago

Trump documentary maker says he now has 2 armed guards for protection after he gave evidence to January 6 committee

After giving evidence to the January 6 committee, British documentary maker Alex Holder told BBC News he now has a security detail. Documentary maker Alex Holder speaks to BBC News.BBC News British documentary maker Alex Holder told BBC News he now has two armed guards who follow him "everywhere." Discovery+ has provided the security detail, describing the measures as preemptive, per Rolling Stone. Holder said he had been called a spy after giving evidence to the January 6 House committee. A British documentary maker who filmed the Trump family in the lead-up to his 2020 election defeat told BBC News that two armed guards now travel with him for protection."My life changed about a week ago in that I now literally have two armed guards outside this studio right now that follow me around everywhere," said Alex Holder during the BBC News interview on Wednesday.Holder, who has testified to the House January 6 committee about hours of footage he shot prior to the election, said he's become the center of conspiracy theories since giving evidence."Apparently, according to some, I'm an undercover FBI agent, some think I'm an MI6 spy," Holder told BBC News. "There are all sorts of conspiracies and threats that are coming through."Holder released footage of former President Donald Trump talking about the 2020 election in Georgia. In the clip, then-President Trump describes Georgia's secretary of state Brad Raffensperger and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans, as "stupid people."Trump also appears to refer to the elections as "meaningless."The footage prompted Fulton County District Attorney's Office to contact Holder about cooperating with a Georgia grand jury. He will provide video footage to the grand jury and will testify next month as part of an investigation into whether Trump interfered with Georgia's 2020 election, per the legal website Law.com.Holder has also agreed to cooperate with the January 6 House committee, having been subpoenaed in regard to footage and interviews he shot for his Discovery+ "Unprecedented" documentary.Holder has already spoken to the committee privately, but he could testify publicly in mid-July, Rolling Stone reported."I record history, I will provide any committee or investigation what they need in order to do their investigation," Holder told BBC News.—Alex Holder (@alexjholder) June 23, 2022According to Rolling Stone, the security detail was provided by Discovery+. His spokesperson told the media outlet that the measures are preemptive, and not related to any specific threats.Holder's documentary, Unprecedented, will air on Discovery+ later this year. Speaking to Yahoo News on the outlet's podcast, "Skullduggery," Alex Holder said the family agreed to be filmed for the documentary because they were "very, very confident they were going to win the election," Insider's Cheryl Teh reported.Holder described the January 6th insurrection as Trump's "last hurrah," he said during the podcast. "He had this ridiculous idea that intervening in this ceremonial process of certifying these results could somehow prevent President Biden from being inaugurated."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider15 hr. 8 min. ago

Video Of Israeli-Ukrainian Captured By Pro-Russian Forces Circulates On Social Media

Video Of Israeli-Ukrainian Captured By Pro-Russian Forces Circulates On Social Media Video is circulating on social media of a Ukrainian-Israeli man who's been captured by pro-Russian separatists. In the video, 40-year-old Vladimir Kozlovsky tells a bleak story of his brief service with the Ukrainian military.  "When the war started, my wife and I wanted to leave the country," says Kozlovsky, according to a translation of the video by Israeli news site ynet. "I am also a citizen of Israel...Before the border, in Uzhgorod, I met with the Israeli consulate, they gave me a special certificate so I could leave the country—but I was stopped at the border. The border guards detained me and did not let me out." Uzhgorod is in westernmost Ukraine, on the Slovakian border. While Kozlovsky's wife and child were allowed to proceed, Ukraine bars men age 18-60 from leaving the country so they can be available for conscription into the war against Russia.  Kozlovsky was reportedly pressed into military service as a radio operator for an intelligence unit operating near the city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk Oblast (province) that, along with the Donetsk Oblast, comprises the contested Donbas region central to the ongoing war. On the eve of its invasion, Russia recognized the sovereignty of the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics.  Sent on a mission to transport personnel, Kozlovsky and fellow members of his unit came under heavy artillery fire. They retreated but, upon returning, were captured by members of the pro-Russian, separatist Luhansk Republic Army.   It's important to note the possibility that Kozlovsky's statements may be coerced. However, if his account is true, it shows the limited effectiveness of efforts to pour Western weapons into the conflict, and Ukraine's challenge in rapidly turning civilians into soldiers:   "We had foreign weapon systems but we didn't know how to use them. We were not trained to fight and nevertheless were sent to the battlefield. They didn't tell us we were going to fight either. We thought we'd stay in Western Ukraine, but we were deployed to Lysychansk. We were thrown to the battleground like cannon fodder." Kozlovsky said Ukrainian military commanders encouraged the hapless conscripts to fight to the death. "We've received messages from the Russians saying we'll be better off if we surrendered. The soldiers also discussed this before, but commanders tried to prevent these talks. They told us that if we surrendered, the Russians would torture us to death, so it is better not to be taken alive." The video was shared on the Telegram channel of the separatist Luhansk Republic Military. Along with Kozlovsky's video testimonial, the group also provided surrender instructions for Ukrainians who want to exit the war. After learning of Kozlovsky's capture, Israel's foreign ministry and its Moscow embassy have been in contact with Russian officials, according to the Jerusalem Post.   #Israel|i citizen fighting on the side of #Ukraine army was captured by #LNR forces. He saying that He is electronic warfare professional #Donbass pic.twitter.com/2x5P4iNcqO — Middle East Update (@islamicworldupd) June 30, 2022 Tyler Durden Sat, 07/02/2022 - 08:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge16 hr. 8 min. ago

Investing icon Peter Lynch warned against speculating, panicking, and trying to predict the market in a rare interview. Here are the 9 best quotes.

The legendary fund manager discussed when to buy and sell stocks, and recommended investors do their own research and remain open to opportunities. Peter Lynch.REUTERS/Jim Bourg Peter Lynch offered a slew of investing advice in a rare interview last year. The famed stock-picker cautioned against speculating or trying to predict the market's direction. Investors should avoid panicking, do their own research, and cast a wide net, Lynch said. Peter Lynch warned against speculating, outlined when to buy and sell stocks, and underlined the futility of trying to time the market in a rare interview with Fidelity.The legendary stock picker and "One Up on Wall Street" author emphasized in the interview last August that investors need to do their own research, hold their nerve during sell-offs, and be open to a wide range of opportunities.Lynch is best known for delivering an annualized return of 29% over 13 years as the manager of Fidelity's Magellan fund, and growing its assets under management from $18 million in 1977 to $14 billion in 1990.Here are Lynch's 9 best quotes, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:1. "In the stock market, the most important organ is the stomach. It's not the brain." (Lynch explained that investors need to know their pain tolerance, and often succeed if they simply hang on to their holdings.)2. "You've got to look in the mirror every day and say, 'What am I going to do if the market goes down 10%? What do I do if it goes down 20%? Am I going to sell? Am I going to get out?' If that's your answer, you should consider reducing your stock holdings today."3. "Stocks aren't lottery tickets. Behind every stock is a company. If the company does well, over time the stocks do well, and vice versa. You have to look at the company — that's what you research."4. "The public's careful when they buy a house, when they buy a refrigerator, when they buy a car. They'll work hours to save a hundred dollars on a roundtrip air ticket. Yet they'll put $5,000 or $10,000 on some zany idea they heard on the bus. That's gambling. That's not investing. That's not research. That's just total speculation."5. "In baseball terms, you want to buy in the second or third inning and get out in the seventh or eighth." (Lynch gave the example of Walmart, which only had stores in 15% of the US as a 10-year-old public company, spent the next 30 years expanding nationwide, and its stock skyrocketed 50-fold during that period.)6. "When the business goes from semi-crummy to better to good, I'm probably out. You sell the company that was the growth story when there's no room to grow."7. "Theoretically, the individual's edge has improved in the last 20, 30 years versus the professional. The problem is people have so many biases. They won't look at a railroad, an oil company, a steel company. They're only going to look at companies growing 40% a year. They won't look at turnarounds. Or companies with unions. You have to really be agnostic."8. "Long term, the stock market's a very good place to be. But more people have lost money waiting for corrections and anticipating corrections than in the actual corrections. Trying to predict market highs and lows is not productive."9. "I think if you spent over 13 minutes a year on economics, you've wasted over 10 minutes. It's not helpful. Everybody wants to predict the future, and I've tried to call the 1-800 psychic hotlines. It hasn't helped. The only thing I would look at is what's happening right now."Read more: Value investors have missed out on massive gains by dismissing the likes of Amazon and Alphabet as overpriced. Fund manager and writer Adam Seessel explains how to fairly value tech champions, and avoid losing out again.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider17 hr. 52 min. ago

Return-to-work wars: Execs at Citi, Manpower, and McKinsey on why they"re embracing remote and hybrid work

Organizations are grappling with whether to reopen workplaces, but these execs say permanent remote and hybrid models are the future of work. The return-to-work wars demonstrates a disconnect between some employers and employees, as many workers say they prefer working from home.Jasmin Merdan/Getty Images Companies are deciding which pandemic-era changes will endure regarding how and where we work. The return-to-work wars demonstrate a disconnect between some employers and employees. Insider spoke with C-suite execs who shared why they are embracing remote- and hybrid-work models. In January 2020, when news broke of a mysterious pneumonia-like virus creeping through the Eastern hemisphere, Nancy Hauge, the chief people experience officer at Automation Anywhere, would not have predicted that only months later the coronavirus outbreak would force an overhaul of the HR operating model at her organization.By October 2020, 71% of workers with jobs that could be done remotely were working from home all or most of the time, according to data from Pew Research. Hauge was among the HR leaders facilitating this remote-work revolution within her organization.Although she describes 2020 as the most complex period of her career, Hauge reached a compelling conclusion by year's end. "What's been most surprising about the pandemic is social distancing created more intimacy," she said. "In many ways, we are more connected than before."Remote-work warsMore than two years into the pandemic, organizations are grappling with whether to reopen workplaces. A new Microsoft report says that about half of the leaders it surveyed are looking to end remote work in the next year.Amazon, Google, and the accounting giant EY are among the many companies requiring employees to resume their old commutes and return to work. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, made headlines when he issued a staff memo telling employees to return to the office or "pretend to work somewhere else." Meanwhile, employers including Atlassian, Coinbase, and Gusto are offering permanent remote- or hybrid-work options. The return-to-work wars demonstrates a disconnect between employers and employees, as most teleworkers say they prefer working from home. A survey of more than 3,000 employees conducted by Blind, an anonymous employee community app, found that 64% of employers, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, would rather work from home than receive a $30,000 raise. Insider spoke with 10 industry leaders who shared why they are embracing remote and hybrid work for the foreseeable future.The responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.  Nancy Hauge, the chief people experience officer at Automation Anywhere"What's been most surprising about the pandemic is social distancing created more intimacy. In many ways, we are more connected than before," Hauge told Insider.Automation AnywhereAutomation Anywhere is a global software company that develops cloud-automation services.The future of work is about custom-configured work environments and more connected relationships with teammates. The value of human connection is at an all-time high.Remote work has created a more extended reach because I can see into your home, I see your children, I see your dogs coming by. I now know more about the individuals that work in the organization.In the past two years, working remotely, I've become invested not just in our teammates' needs but in their families' needs. So how do we support that whole ecosystem around them?Jennifer Alessandra, the senior vice president and chief people and communications officer at Frontdoor, Inc."As today's work environment evolves, so should organizations," Alessandra said.FrontdoorFrontdoor, Inc. is an appliance repair and maintenance company. It services appliances from water heaters and garbage disposals to smoke detectors and refrigerators. The company's brands include American Home Shield, HSA, OneGuard, and Landmark.Frontdoor has decided to become a virtual-first company. While sparked by the pandemic, our teams carefully evaluated the benefits of adopting this practice, one of which included expanding our potential talent pool. In addition, allowing virtual work and encouraging in-person collaboration, when necessary, has allowed our current and prospective associates to contribute to the team from a geographic location that fits their unique family, personal, or even financial preferences.Casting a wider net for candidates also allows us to create a workforce composed of varying interests, backgrounds, and experiences. This diversity of people, talent, and ideas makes us stronger. As today's work environment evolves, so should organizations.Sara Wechter, the head of human resources at Citi"We know talent wants flexibility, and we've broken traditional industry norms in embracing hybrid work," Wechter said.CitiCitigroup is a financial-services holding company that provides a range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, trade and securities services, and wealth management.We know talent wants flexibility, and we've broken traditional industry norms in embracing hybrid work. Our model gives colleagues flexibility to better balance work and life while also providing the benefits of working in person — benefits such as belonging, collaboration, apprenticeship, and learning, to name a few. Becky Frankiewicz, the chief commercial officer and president of ManpowerGroup, North America"As an employer, once you've realized that flexibility comes first and that flexibility is here for good, you only have one way forward — and that's to fundamentally transform." Frankiewicz said.ManpowerManpowerGroup is a global staffing firm. The crisis created by the pandemic gave employers a new level of insight into people's lives. It eliminated barriers between employers and employees. It's created a new level of trust.As an employer, once you've realized that flexibility comes first and that flexibility is here for good, you only have one way forward — and that's to fundamentally transform. We can't forget that, and we can't take that away from workers.What's next on the horizon is a much more connected workplace where people feel accepted for their whole selves, where people not only feel but know that they belong. This is a gift of the crisis, should employers choose to take it, and we are definitely choosing to take it.Sarah Dunn, the global human resources officer of Tapestry Inc."Most of our teams come into the office one or two days a week, and we're trying to make those days count," Dunn said.Tapestry IncTapestry, Inc. is a multinational luxury-fashion holding company. Originally named Coach, Inc., Tapestry is the parent company of three major brands: Coach New York, Kate Spade New York, and Stuart Weitzman.We're now very much in a hybrid environment. Most of our teams come into the office one or two days a week, and we're trying to make those days count. So having a creative, vibrant community in the office together, and then on other days, they can catch up on work remotely on things they need to do individually.There's still a lot to learn. We frequently say we're in the largest test-and-learn environment from a future-of-work point of view, and we're just listening to our teams very closely. We're doing surveys regularly to understand what they're enjoying, not enjoying, and how we need to adapt.Katie George, the senior partner and chief people officer at McKinsey & Company"In our industry, we have always offered flexibility, with a heritage that allows for autonomous work and purposeful presence," George said.McKinsey & CompanyMcKinsey & Company is a management-consulting firm with offices in 65 countries and annual revenue estimated at $10 billion. The company advises corporations, governments, and other organizations.With more jobs than jobless, we're in a new talent reality, and companies face an unprecedented hurdle to attract and retain talent and a pivotal moment to develop skills. In our industry, we have always offered flexibility, with a heritage that allows for autonomous work and purposeful presence, such as traveling or working in an office when the impact is clear.The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for flexibility so that every colleague can benefit from the philosophy of purposeful presence.Bruce Larson, the chief human resources officer at The Carlyle Group"Our ability to attract talent in this environment is strengthened by the fact that we take a more flexible approach than a lot of other companies," Larson said.The Carlyle GroupThe Carlyle Group is a global investment firm specializing in direct and fund-of-fund investments, with more than 1,800 staff worldwide. The company has more than $325 billion in assets under management.Our ability to attract talent in this environment is strengthened by the fact that we take a more flexible approach than many other companies. We're seeing an increase in the demand for roles with a hybrid element to them, and as an employer of choice, that is an attractive approach that has certainly increased our candidate pool. Talent is our most important asset, which is why we are continuously taking action to ensure employees feel supported and valued. Elizabeth Crain, the chief operating officer at Moelis & Company"We've introduced more flexibility and are continually thinking about how we can optimize our office environment to promote collaboration and creativity," Crain said.Moelis & CompanyMoelis & Company is a global investment bank with 21 offices worldwide. The firm has advised on more than $3.5 trillion worth of transactions since it was founded in 2007, with deal sizes ranging from $100 million up to $160 billion.Part of continuing to attract great talent will be adapting to the changing needs and wants of our team. They're as passionate as ever about performing at the highest level, but they're also looking for greater flexibility, which we can provide.As a result, we've introduced more flexibility and are continually thinking about how we can optimize our office environment to promote collaboration and creativity. How and where people work has changed, but we've maintained the collaboration, teaching, and mentoring that are such critical elements of the Moelis culture and key to client success. Laura Miele, the chief operating officer at Electronic Arts"Remote work has opened up opportunities for us to bring in the very best talent no matter where they live," Miele said.Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts develops and distributes games, content, and services for game consoles, PCs, mobile phones, and tablets.Traditionally, anyone who wanted a career in the game industry had to live near a studio, but remote work has opened up opportunities for us to bring in the very best talent no matter where they live.We've brought some incredible talent into EA over the past couple of years. Many of them point to our strong values, principles, and flexibility in how we work as the key reasons for joining the company.Kate Burke, the chief operating officer of AllianceBernstein"Our current hybrid approach of three days in offices and two days remote seems to resonate," Burke said.AllianceBernsteinAllianceBernstein is a global investment-management firm that offers research and investment services to institutional investors, individuals, and private wealth clients. The company has more than $600 billion in assets under management and more than 4,000 staff worldwide.Candidates want clarity around flexible working, and our current hybrid approach of three days in offices and two days remote seems to resonate.We recognize that flexibility looks and feels different to current and potential employees, so empowering the manager to work with their teams on how flexibility best works for them remains at the forefront.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider17 hr. 52 min. ago

Elon Musk reemerges after his longest Twitter break in four years with a picture of himself and the Pope

After one of his longest stretches of not posting on Twitter, Elon Musk broke his silence with a photo of himself, four of his kids, and Pope Francis. Elon Musk said people's tweets don't need to be "broadcasted across the whole country" if they aren't valuable.Matt Cardy/Getty Images Elon Musk broke his ten-day Twitter silence with a photo of himself and Pope Francis. Musk tweeted he was "honored" to meet His Holiness while visiting him in Italy.   The Tesla CEO is still in the process of purchasing the platform for $44 billion. After one of his longest stretches of not posting on Twitter, Elon Musk broke his nine-day silence with a photo of himself and Pope Francis. In the photo, Musk is standing to the right of the Pope while four of his children are scattered to the left of him. They're all standing a few feet away from each other dressed in suits. Musk commented on his own outfit, saying his own suit was "tragic."Musk tweeted he was "honored" to meet His Holiness. The Twitter bot that tracks Musk's private jet showed the Tesla CEO flying from Austin, Texas, to Rome, Italy, on June 30. According to Fox News, Musk was accompanied by his children Griffin, Kai, Damian, and Sax. Their mother is his first wife, Justine Wilson.—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 2, 2022Musk didn't just tweet about meeting the Pope. He also tweeted: "feeling … perhaps … a little bored?", an old image of himself and ex-wife Talulah in Venice, and a tribute to Technoblade, a gaming YouTuber who died of cancer at 23.The Wall Street Journal analyzed Musk's Twitter habits and found he hadn't gone more than six days without tweeting since January 2018.Musk is still in the process of purchasing the platform for $44 billion. In April, he reached a deal to buy the company and take it private, but the offer was put on hold over concerns that bots on the platform might be flawed. In response, Twitter gave him more user data and has been "bending over backwards" to comply with his demands.The Vatican and Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider21 hr. 52 min. ago

What If People Actually Controlled The Government?

What If People Actually Controlled The Government? Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute, Imagine, if you will, the following system... Government is managed by elected representatives who are in turn elected by the people. Government is further restrained by checks and balances between three branches, each of which is accountable ultimately to the people who live under the laws. Unlike the ancient system of government in which the only people who were truly free were the aristocracy, under this new system, every adult citizen has political rights. No one rules over anyone without accountability.  Also part of this, no one in government has a permanent job that is exempt from oversight. The laws and rules under which people live are not invented by faceless bureaucrats but rather by representatives with names who can be voted out.  In that way, we give the idea of freedom the best-possible hope.  Sounds dreamy? A bit. We haven’t had that system in the US for a very long time, even if what I just mapped out seems more or less like what the US Constitution set up.  There are two main reasons why we are so far from that ideal.  First, the US system was supposed to exalt the juridical sovereignty of the “several states” so that the central government was of secondary importance.  Second, a fourth branch of government gradually came into existence. It is what we now call the administrative state. It consists of millions of employees with maximum power who answer to absolutely no one. The Federal Register lists 432 agencies that currently employ people who are beyond legislative reach but they still make policy and determine the structure of the regime under which we live. But we the people have no real control over them.  Not even the president can control them. This system was created with one piece of legislation in 1883 called the Pendleton Act. The New Deal exploited the new system. The administrative state even got its own constitution in 1946 called the Administrative Procedures Act. The 1984 Supreme Court decision in Chevron vs NRDC even entrenched deference to the agency’s interpretation of the law.  The result is something the Founders never imagined: hundreds of three-letter agencies exercising hegemonic control over the country. Everyone got to know this system well from 2020 as the CDC invented myriad rules on the spot that shut businesses and churches and even legislated how many people you could have in your home for a party.  This problem vexxed Donald Trump, who came to power with the promise to drain the swamp. He soon discovered that he could not because most federal employees were beyond his reach. Things got wildly out of hand after he made the enormous error of greenlighting lockdowns in a March 16, 2020 press conference. After that point and all the way until the election, his presidential powers slipped ever further as the administrative bureaucracy wielded power without precedent.  Two weeks before the election, the Trump administration innovated a solution. It was Executive Order 13957 that created a new category of federal employment called Schedule F. Any employee involved at any level in policy making would be subject to presidential oversight. It makes sense: these are executive-level agencies so the president, because he bears responsibility for what they do, should have some personnel control over them.  This order was immediately reversed by Biden when he took office, leaving Schedule F a dead letter. The administrative state is once again safe from oversight.  Let us quote Trump’s executive order at length so that we can see the thinking here. Then we’ll deal with various objections. It reads as follows: To effectively carry out the broad array of activities assigned to the executive branch under law, the President and his appointees must rely on men and women in the Federal service employed in positions of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character. Faithful execution of the law requires that the President have appropriate management oversight regarding this select cadre of professionals. The Federal Government benefits from career professionals in positions that are not normally subject to change as a result of a Presidential transition but who discharge significant duties and exercise significant discretion in formulating and implementing executive branch policy and programs under the laws of the United States. The heads of executive departments and agencies (agencies) and the American people also entrust these career professionals with non‑public information that must be kept confidential… Given the importance of the functions they discharge, employees in such positions must display appropriate temperament, acumen, impartiality, and sound judgment. Due to these requirements, agencies should have a greater degree of appointment flexibility with respect to these employees than is afforded by the existing competitive service process. Further, effective performance management of employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, the Government’s current performance management is inadequate, as recognized by Federal workers themselves. For instance, the 2016 Merit Principles Survey reveals that less than a quarter of Federal employees believe their agency addresses poor performers effectively. Separating employees who cannot or will not meet required performance standards is important, and it is particularly important with regard to employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions. High performance by such employees can meaningfully enhance agency operations, while poor performance can significantly hinder them. Senior agency officials report that poor performance by career employees in policy-relevant positions has resulted in long delays and substandard-quality work for important agency projects, such as drafting and issuing regulations. Pursuant to my authority under section 3302(1) of title 5, United States Code, I find that conditions of good administration make necessary an exception to the competitive hiring rules and examinations for career positions in the Federal service of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character. These conditions include the need to provide agency heads with additional flexibility to assess prospective appointees without the limitations imposed by competitive service selection procedures. Placing these positions in the excepted service will mitigate undue limitations on their selection. This action will also give agencies greater ability and discretion to assess critical qualities in applicants to fill these positions, such as work ethic, judgment, and ability to meet the particular needs of the agency. These are all qualities individuals should have before wielding the authority inherent in their prospective positions, and agencies should be able to assess candidates without proceeding through complicated and elaborate competitive service processes or rating procedures that do not necessarily reflect their particular needs. Conditions of good administration similarly make necessary excepting such positions from the adverse action procedures set forth in chapter 75 of title 5, United States Code. Chapter 75 of title 5, United States Code, requires agencies to comply with extensive procedures before taking adverse action against an employee. These requirements can make removing poorly performing employees difficult. Only a quarter of Federal supervisors are confident that they could remove a poor performer. Career employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy‑making, and policy-advocating positions wield significant influence over Government operations and effectiveness. Agencies need the flexibility to expeditiously remove poorly performing employees from these positions without facing extensive delays or litigation. Part of the order pushed an internal review of all agencies to reclassify employees, thus making them subject to normal standards of employment – the same ones that every person in the private sector adheres to.  Why is there resistance aside from the high-stakes effort to keep the current despotism in place? Let’s look at the sincere objections.  Schedule F would bring back the spoils system The term itself is a smear of system in which the elected leadership can actually make a difference in public life. Are cronies hired? Yes. Are good people sometimes fired? Probably. But the alternative is dictatorship by the bureaucracy itself and that is what is truly intolerable. Instead of the “spoils system,” a state in which the elected leaders can enact policy by controlling personnel is called representative democracy. It is also the system the Constitution gave us.  Trump issued Schedule F because he wanted more power  Depends on what you mean by more power. More power over the bureaucracy, yes, but the driving motivation here was to emancipate power from being ruled by bureaucrats that he could not control. It was also designed to stop the bureaucracy from working directly with the media to undermine through lies and smears the work of the administration. In words, elected leaders absolutely do need more power over the deep state.  This would gut government of expertise  There is this strange presumption that educational credentials and a permanent job equals expertise plus good outcomes. That is very obviously untrue. Good outcomes come from basic competence and a work ethic. Those are in short supply in government precisely because the turnover rate is less than zero, unlike the private sector. Anyone who has worked in a federal agency knows this. The best way to unleash genuine expertise is through normal job accountability.  Presidents would use this to politicize the bureaucracy  This is a decent point but the bureaucracy is already heavily politicized, and always in the direction of policies that push more power and money toward the government. Everyone knows this. Is there a danger that a radically and dangerous president would press bureaucrats into even further politicization? Yes, but there is an easy solution to this one: cut the reach and power of the agencies themselves, consistent with the Constitution. Finally – a crucial point – elected leaders could override the influence of private industry which has captured their operations. Bureaucracies would get around this by minimizing Schedule F designations  They would certainly attempt this but that would require that employees refrain from ”policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions.” That would be very great! If they eschewed Schedule F and did that anyway, the Office of Personnel Management could hunt them down and the agency itself would be responsible for illegal actions.  There are surely some downsides to the system as Trump imagined it but all of them trace to the inflated powers of the federal government itself. Yes, a vastly ambitious government machinery will always need bureaucracies and they will always have problems with waste, abuse, and unneeded exercise of power. Perhaps, then, the best long-term effect of Schedule F would be to inspire a rethinking of government’s role in a free society.  It seems remarkable that the executive order creating Schedule F was issued at all. It needs to be pressed upon any future reformers as a path to revisit, ideally with legislative support. Until that time, there will continue to be the grave problem that our elected officials are positioned to be little more than dancing marionettes while the administrative state wields all the real power.  Tyler Durden Fri, 07/01/2022 - 23:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 1st, 2022

Jan. 6 live updates: 2 Secret Service sources told CNN that Trump angrily demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6

The House select committee is investigating the Capitol riot and the role Donald Trump and his allies played in trying to overturn the 2020 election. Lawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/AP The former WH aide Cassidy Hutchinson gave damning testimony to the House Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday. GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger said she had "more courage than most" Republicans. Two Secret Service sources said Trump angrily demanded to be taken to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. DOJ wants a DC judge to reject Steve Bannon's request to delay his contempt-of-Congress trial over January 6 hearings' publicity, saying that he has 'barely been mentioned'Steve Bannon argued in April that his criminal prosecution should be dismissed.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesThe Department of Justice asked a DC judge on Friday to reject Trump ally Steve Bannon's request to delay his contempt-of-Congress trial, arguing that the January 6 hearings have not revolved around him to the point of distraction.On Wednesday, Bannon's lawyers asked a DC judge to delay his July 18 trial, citing a "media blitz" from the public January 6 committee hearings and saying the request was "due to the unprecedented level of prejudicial pretrial publicity."DOJ lawyers said that Bannon is not as popular as he thinks he is."The Defendant's motion gives the false impression — through general statistics about the volume of viewership of the Committee's hearings and overall media coverage of the Committee's hearings — that all of the Committee's hearings and the attendant media coverage is about him," DOJ lawyers wrote in a filing on Friday. "The truth is just the opposite — the Defendant has barely been mentioned in the Committee's hearings or the resulting media coverage of them."Read More2 Secret Service sources told CNN that Trump angrily demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6, partly confirming Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive testimonyFormer President Donald Trump.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty ImagesTwo Secret Service sources told CNN on Friday that they heard about former President Donald Trump lunging at the driver of his presidential SUV on January 6, 2021.The pair of sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, backed up much of former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive testimony on the altercation in the motorcade vehicle known as "the Beast" after Trump found out he wouldn't be driven to join his supporters at the Capitol."He had sort of lunged forward – it was unclear from the conversations I had that he actually made physical contact, but he might have. I don't know," one of the Secret Service sources told CNN. "Nobody said Trump assaulted him; they said he tried to lunge over the seat – for what reason, nobody had any idea."Read Full StoryMichael Cohen says Trump uses a 'mob boss' playbookMichael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal attorney, compared the former president to a "mob boss" amid allegations that Trump allies sought to intimidate Jan. 6 witnesses."Donald Trump never changes his playbook," Cohen told The Washington Post. "He behaves like a mob boss, and these messages are fashioned in that style. Giving an order without giving the order. No fingerprints attached."Read Full StoryTrump allies paid legal fees for multiple Jan. 6 witnesses, including Cassidy Hutchinson, sparking witness-influencing concerns, report saysCassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies before the January 6 committee in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2022.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump's allies and supporters paid the legal fees for multiple people who had provided testimony to the January 6 committee, including the former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, The New York Times reported.Hutchinson eventually fired the lawyer who was paid for a pro-Trump group, and went on to provide damning testimony about Trump, the report said. Two sources familiar with the committee told The Times that they believe Hutchinson's decision to part ways with the lawyer — who had been recommended by Trump allies and paid for by a pro-Trump PAC — likely played a role in her decision to provide new evidence. There are no laws against a third party paying for a witness' legal representation in a congressional inquiry, but the situation may raise some ethical concerns, according to the report.Read Full StoryFormer Secret Service agent said he, too, would have defied Trump's request to be taken to the Capitol on January 6Former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence.PhoPhoto by Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty ImagesFormer Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow said in an op-ed that he also would not have taken then-President Donald Trump to the Capitol on January 6, 2021.In an op-ed published by Newsweek, Wackrow said he was shocked by Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony to the January committee regarding Trump's actions on the day of the Capitol riot. Hutchinson, a former aide in the Trump White House, claimed that Trump had gotten into a physical altercation with the head of his security detail while demanding to be brought to the Capitol."If I had been working on Trump's security detail on January 6, I would have made the same decision as Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Robert Engel to not go to the Capitol based on the known escalating threats," Wackrow wrote.He added, however, that he believed Trump still respects the Secret Service because he probably has seen "first-hand what they're willing to do to protect him and his family." Read Full StoryGOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger says Cassidy Hutchinson is a 'hero' and has 'more courage than most' Republicans after January 6 testimonyCassidy Hutchinson testifies during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection.Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty ImagesGOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois on Thursday applauded Cassidy Hutchinson for her testimony to the January 6 committee, saying the former top aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has "more courage" than most of his Republican colleagues. "Cassidy Hutchinson is a hero and a real patriot (not a faux 'patriot' that hates America so much they would attempt a coup.)," Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, said in a tweet."Of course they will try to bully and intimidate her. But she isn't intimidated. More courage than most in GOP," Kinzinger added of Hutchinson.Read Full StoryGOP Sen. Pat Toomey says Trump's chances of winning the party's 2024 presidential nomination are 'much more tenuous' following the January 6 committee's hearingsRepublican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania at the White House with Trump in February 2018.AP Photo/Evan VucciRepublican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania suggested Thursday that public hearings from the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, had damaged former President Donald Trump politically, even among Republicans.At the end of a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg that focused on the Supreme Court's recent ruling on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Reserve's approach to tackling inflation, the retiring lawmaker was asked whether he believed the hearings would preclude Trump from seeking a second term as president in 2024."I don't know that it means that. I mean he gets to decide whether he's going to run," said Toomey, who was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump on a charge of incitement of an insurrection after the Capitol riot."Look, I think he disqualified himself from serving in public office by virtue of his post-election behavior, especially leading right up to January 6," Toomey said. "I think the revelations from this committee make his path to even the Republican nomination much more tenuous."Read Full StoryCheney 'absolutely confident' that former White House aide's explosive testimony is credibleRepublican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, vice-chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, speaks during a business meeting on Capitol Hill on December 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesRepublican Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves as vice-chair of the House's January 6 committee, said she is "absolutely confident" that a former White House aide's damning testimony is accurate."I am absolutely confident in her credibility. I'm confident in her testimony," Cheney told ABC News's Jonathan Karl about the allegations made by top Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson this week.Cheney said that Hutchinson showed "an unbelievable example of bravery and of courage" by testifying.Read MoreBannon wants his contempt trial to be delayed because of Jan. 6 hearingsSteve Bannon outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse on June 15, 2022 in Washington, DC.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesTrump ally Steve Bannon has asked for his contempt-of-Congress trial to be delayed because the hearings on the Capitol riot are getting so much publicity.A federal grand jury indicted Bannon in November 2021 on two counts of contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Capitol riot.In a Wednesday court filing, Bannon's lawyers argued that the coverage of the committee's hearings would make his trial unfair.Read More January 6 panel subpoenas former White House counsel Pat CipolloneFormer White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said he would testify about Jeffrey Clark, a DOJ official who outlined ways for Trump to challenge the 2020 election.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesThe House's panel investigating the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, has subpoenaed former White House counsel Pat Cipollone.The demand for Cipollone to appear before the committee comes after explosive testimony from a former top White House aide in the Trump administration, who described Trump and his inner circle's actions before and during the insurrection.Read Full StoryFormer Secret Service agent says Trump's 'girth' would have made it impossible to attack driverOutgoing US President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2021.MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty ImagesA former White House aide testified that former President Donald Trump grabbed the steering wheel of his SUV and lunged at a Secret Service agent on January 6, 2021, after they refused to take him to the Capitol building.But former Secret Service agents told Insider they have doubts about the story."Trump's not a little guy, right? And the space to actually be able to lunge towards the wheel is not that big," one former agent said, speaking on background to Insider.  "I don't mean to sound disparaging to the former president, but just his girth would prevent him from actually getting to the steering wheel."Keep ReadingHouse Republican who led rioter on tour before insurrection could oversee Capitol policeRep. Barry LoudermilkBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty ImagesRepublican Rep. Barry Loudermilk — who led a Capitol rioter on a tour of the building the day before the insurrection — could end up overseeing Capitol police.If Republicans regain control of the House, Loudermilk would be next in line to lead the committee that has oversight over the police force attacked by Trump supporters on January 6, 2021.Loudermilk has faced backlash from Democrats after video showed him taking a group on a tour of the Capitol building, showing them hallways, security areas, and stairwells. The next day, members of the tour flaunted a sharpened flagpole bearing the American flag as they marched near the Capitol.It remains unclear whether the group entered the Capitol building itself during the riot.Read Full Story Former Jan. 6 committee investigator announces run for SenateSenior investigative counsel John Wood questions witnesses during the third public hearing of the January 6 committee on June 16, 2022.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesJanuary 6 committee investigator John Wood is launching an independent Senate campaign in Missouri in an effort to stop GOP nominee Eric Greitens.Wood told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he believes Greitens — the former Missouri governor — is likely to win the Republican nomination, and that voters deserved an alternative.Wood, a Republican, said he will run as an independent.Read MoreTrump ally says Hutchinson's testimony was a 'campaign commercial' for Ron DeSantis in 2024Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisPhelan M. Ebenhack/AP PhotoExplosive testimony by a former Trump White House aide could be a boost to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to replace Trump on the presidential ticket in 2024, CNN reported.One Trump adviser said the hearings — which painted as Trump as violent and volatile — were "basically a campaign commercial" for DeSantis. Another told CNN that "no one is taking this lightly."DeSantis has flirted with larger political ambitions and is a rising Republican star who would be poised to fill the leadership vacuum if Trump is forced aside.Read Full StorySecret Service agents willing to dispute Hutchinson's claims about Trump's outburst, reports sayFormer President Donald TrumpSAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty ImagesSecret Service agents are willing to testify before the January 6 House panel to refute former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson's claim that Trump tried to grab the steering wheel when he demanded to be taken to the Capitol on the day of the insurrection, according to multiple reports.The driver of the car and the head of Trump's security are ready to testify under oath that the former President never lunged for the wheel or physically assaulted the driver, according to CBS News.Read More Hutchinson's testimony could lead to legal trouble for Trump: reportCassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022.Jacquelyn Martin/AP PhotoFormer aides to Donald Trump worry the explosive testimony by a former White House aide could put Trump in legal jeopardy, according to the New York Times."This hearing definitely gave investigators a lot to chew on," former Attorney General Bill Barr told the Times after testimony from top White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson detailed Trump's behavior on the day of the Capitol riot.Hutchinson's testimony painted Trump as a volatile man who knew his supporters were armed on January 6, 2021. Trump also demanded to be taken to the Capitol building, but his security staff refused, Hutchinson said.Mick Mulvaney, who was once Trump's White House Chief of Staff, said evidence of possible witness tampering could open his orbit up to charges.Keep Reading  Former Trump press secretary shares text that appears to show Melania Trump to condemn Capitol riot violenceMelania Trump speaks at the White House on October 09, 2019Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesFormer Trump Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham shared a text exchange on Tuesday that purportedly showed former First Lady Melania Trump refusing to condemn the violence during the Capitol riot. The apparent screengrab of a text exchange was between Grisham and a person named "MT." "Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness & violence?" read the message. "No," the person replied.Representatives for Melania Trump at Trump's post-presidential press office did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.Read Full StoryJohn Eastman drops lawsuit blocking his phone records from January 6 committeeJohn Eastman testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2013.Charles Dharapak/APIn a late Tuesday filing, John Eastman dropped a lawsuit he'd filed to prevent the Jan. 6 committee from accessing his phone records."Plaintiff brought this lawsuit primarily to protect the content of his communications, many of which are privileged," the latest filing read. "The Congressional Defendants represented in their motion to dismiss that they were not seeking the content of any of Plaintiff's communications via the subpoena they had issued to Defendant Verizon."The former Trump lawyer's phone was seized by federal agents on June 22, according to a separate suit he filed on Monday, seeking the return of his property. Of interest to investigators are call logs from Eastman's personal device, and the search warrant indicates investigators will not review any additional content from his phone without a court order. Read Full StoryTrumpworld shocked by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive January 6 testimony, calling it the 'most damning day' and 'insane'Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022.Jacquelyn Martin/AP PhotoIt took six hearings for the January 6 select committee to finally break through to embattled former President Donald Trump's inner circle.Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified during a surprise hearing Tuesday that Trump was determined to go to the US Capitol with his armed supporters on January 6, 2021, as Congress was certifying the election results. Hutchinson's additional revelations about that day came crashing down on Trumpworld during the two-hour hearing. Among them were that Meadows told Hutchinson "things might get real, real bad" on January 6, that Trump knew his supporters were armed when they flooded the Ellipse to attend his "Stop the Steal" rally, and that Trump said "Mike deserves it" when rioters chanted "hang Mike Pence." "Definitely most damning day of testimony," one former White House aide told Insider. READ MOREFox News host says it's not 'wholly out of character' that Trump 'might throw his lunch' after January 6 testimony on ketchup dripping down the wallFormer President Donald Trump and Fox News Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier.Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty ImagesMoments after a colleague referred to Tuesday's January 6 committee testimony as "stunning," Fox News host Martha MacCallum downplayed new revelations about former President Donald Trump's violent outbursts surrounding his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Trump threw a plate in the White House dining room after he found out former Attorney General Bill Barr publicly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, leaving "ketchup dripping down the wall.""I mean, I'm not sure that it really shocks anybody that the president just — knowing what we've seen, observing him over the years — if he got angry then he might throw his lunch," MacCallum said. "I'm not sure. It's obviously a very dramatic detail, and the way that she describes it, um, is. But I'm not sure if this is wholly out of character with the Donald Trump and the President Trump that people came to know over the years."READ MOREHere are all the people who sought preemptive pardons from Donald Trump after the Capitol riot, per January 6 committee witnessesRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., joined from left by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks at a news conference about the treatment of people being held in the District of Columbia jail who are ch.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 1st, 2022

Biden Admin Halts 2nd Largest US LNG Plant From Restarting Operations After Blast

Biden Admin Halts 2nd Largest US LNG Plant From Restarting Operations After Blast The Biden administration is preventing the second-largest US liquefied natural gas export facility from repairing or restarting operations in the wake of a fire earlier this month over 'risks to public safety.' Smoke billows from the Freeport LNG plant in Quintana, Texas, U.S., June 8, 2022, in this still image obtained from a social media video on June 9, 2022. Courtesy of Maribel Hill/via REUTERS As Reuters reports, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which operates under DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg, has prevented Freeport LNG's 15 million tonne per year (mtpa) Quintana plant in Houston, TX, exacerbating the global energy crunch. "Continued operation of Freeport's LNG export facility without corrective measures may pose an integrity risk to public safety, property or the environment," PHMSA said in its preliminary report, after a problem with a safety valve led to an 18-inch stainless steel pipe to overpressurize and burst. This released LNG and methane, leading to the blast. It laid out a series of steps for investigating what caused a 300-foot (91-m) section of pipe to burst and release about 120,000 cubic feet of LNG. The root cause analysis likely will delay a partial restart of the plant for 90 to 120 days, and could delay a full restart, analysts said. Closely-held Freeport said it will continue working with PHMSA and other regulatory bodies to obtain necessary approvals to restart operations. It estimated resumption of partial liquefaction operations to be in early October and a return to full production by year-end. -Reuters "The actual process (of reviews, repairs and approvals) will take longer than three months, and potentially take six to 12 months," said Alex Munton, director of global gas and LNG at consultants Rapidan Energy Group. According to the report, PHMSA ordered the company to submit a plan within 60 days for an outside investigator to report on the extent of the damage to the facility - and gave no indication of how long it would take to approve a plan. Freeport must also contract with a third-party to review the condition of its LNG storage tanks. Then, and only then, can the company submit a repair plan, derailing their goal of a partial restart in September, and full operation by year-end. Tyler Durden Fri, 07/01/2022 - 17:20.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJul 1st, 2022