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How Sri Lanka Landed in a Crisis and What It Means

Sri Lanka’s street protests over soaring inflation and lengthy power cuts have shaken President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s hold on power, with government ministers resigning while the opposition called for fresh elections in the South Asian nation. The political turmoil is complicating efforts to manage the island’s foreign exchange crisis and secure more funds to keep its tourism-reliant economy running, having already been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic......»»

Category: topSource: washpostApr 4th, 2022

South Korea just pardoned Samsung"s chief for bribing a former president because the country needs him to overcome a "national economic crisis"

Lee was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for bribing a friend of then South Korean President Park Geun-hye. South Korea pardoned Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee so he can help the country overcome its economic crisis.Kim Min-Hee/Getty Images South Korea just pardoned Samsung's de facto leader, Jay Y. Lee, for bribing a former president. The justice ministry said Lee needs to help the country overcome a "national economic crisis." South Korea faces economic headwinds from the Ukraine war, soaring inflation, and slowing demand. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol pardoned Samsung's de facto chief for bribing a former president because he's just too important for the country's economy.In a Friday announcement, South Korea's Justice Ministry said Samsung Electronics vice chairman Jay Y. Lee was needed to help with the country's "economic crisis.""Key business people were included in the pardons in consideration of their roles in leading national growth through technology investment and job creation, given that the country badly needs to overcome an economic crisis," a government official told the Yonhap news agency.In 2017, Lee was convicted of bribing a friend of then South Korean President Park Geun-hye and eventually sentenced to two and a half years in prison. He was seeking government support for a merger that would boost his control of the company founded by his grandfather. Park, South Korea's first female leader, was impeached in December 2016 and sentenced to 24 years in prison. She was pardoned last year.In addition to Lee, Yoon granted pardons to 1,692 other individuals, including Shin Dong-bin, the chairman of the Lotte Group, who was separately also sentenced to jail for bribery. The pardons are set to take effect next Monday.Lee was already out on parole after serving 18 months in prison for the charges — he even met US President Joe Biden in May during the leader's visit to South Korea — so the pardon is mostly symbolic. However, conditions of Lee's parole did not allow him to take up new employment for five years and required him to get official approval for travel overseas, according to South Korea's Maeil Business News. The pardon means Lee may finally be able to become Samsung Electronics' chairman — a position that has remained vacant since his father died in October 2020."I will do my best for the national economy," Lee told reporters on Friday, per Maeil Business News.Lee's legal troubles are not over. He still faces charges of fraud and stock manipulation, per Reuters.Like many countries around the world, export-reliant South Korea is facing economic headwinds from the Ukraine war, soaring inflation, and slowing demand.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 12th, 2022

The Madness Of Groupthink

The Madness Of Groupthink Authored by Robert Malone via Brownstone Institute, “Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups.” ~ Fredrich Nietzsche We all seek to understand the root causes of the COVIDcrisis. We crave an answer, and hope is that we can find some sort of rationale for the harm that has been done, something that will help make sense out of one of the most profound policy fiascos in the history of the United States. In tracing the various threads which seem to lead towards comprehension of the larger issues and processes, there has been a tendency to focus on external actors and forces. Examples include the Medical-Pharmaceutical Industrial complex, the World Health Organization, the World Economic Forum, the Chinese Central Communist Party, the central banking system/Federal Reserve, the large “hedge funds” (Blackrock, State Street, Vanguard), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Corporate/social media and Big Technology, the Trusted News Initiative, and the United Nations. In terms of the inexplicable behavior of the general population in response to the information which bombards all of us, the denialism and seeming hypnosis of colleagues, friends and family, Mattias Desmet’s 21st century update of the work of Hannah Arendt, Joost Meerloo, and so many others is often cited as the most important text for comprehending the large scale psychological processes which have driven much of the COVIDcrisis madness. Dr. Desmet, a professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University (Belgium) and a practicing psychoanalytic psychotherapist, has provided the world with guide to the Mass Formation process (Mass formation Psychosis, Mass Hypnosis) which seems to have influenced so much of the madness that has gripped both the United States as well as much of the rest of the world. But what about the internal psychological processes at play within the United States HHS policy making group? The group which has been directly responsible for the amazingly unscientific and counterproductive decisions concerning bypassing normal bioethical, regulatory and clinical development norms to expedite genetic vaccine products (“Operation Warp Speed”), suppressing early treatment with repurposed drugs, mask and vaccine mandates, lockdowns, school closures, social devision, defamation and intentional character assassination of critics, and a wide range of massively disruptive and devastating economic policies. All have lived through these events, and have become aware of the many lies and misrepresentations (subsequently contradicted by data) which have been walked back or historically revised by Drs. Fauci, Collins, Birx, Walensky, Redfield, and even Mr. Biden. Is there a body of scholarship and academic literature which can help make sense of the group dynamics and clearly dysfunctional decision making which first characterized the “coronavirus taskforce” under Vice President Pence, and then continued in a slightly altered form through the Biden administration? During the early 1970s, as the (tragically escalated) Viet Nam War foreign policy fiasco was starting to wind down, an academic psychologist focusing on group dynamics and decision making was struck by parallels between his own research findings and the group behaviors involved in the Bay of Pigs foreign policy fiasco documented in A thousand days: John F. Kennedy in the White House by Arthur Schlesinger. Intrigued, he began to further investigate the decision making involved in this case study, as well as the policy debacles of the Korean War, Pearl Harbor, and the escalation of the Viet Nam War. He also examined and developed case studies involving what he saw as major United States Government policy triumphs. These included the management of the Cuban missile crisis, and development of the Marshall Plan. On the basis of these case studies, examined in light of current group dynamic psychology research, he developed what a seminal book which became a cautionary core text for most students of Political Science. The result was Victims of Groupthink: A psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes by Author Irving Janis (Houghton Mifflin Company July 1, 1972). Biographical Context: Irving Janis (1918-1990) was a 20th century social psychologist who identified the phenomenon of groupthink. Between 1943 and 1945, Janis served in the Research Branch of the Army, studying the morale of military personnel. In 1947 he joined the faculty of Yale University and remained in the Psychology Department there until his retirement four decades later. He was also an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Janis focused much of his career on studying decision making, particularly in the area of challenging habitual acts such as smoking and dieting. He researched group dynamics, specializing in an area he termed “groupthink,” which describes how groups of people are able to reach a compromise or consensus through conformity, without thoroughly analyzing ideas or concepts. He revealed the relationship peer pressure has to conformity and how this dynamic limits the confines of the collective cognitive ability of the group, resulting in stagnant, unoriginal, and at times, damaging ideas. Throughout his career, Janis authored a number of articles and governmental reports and several books including Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes and Crucial Decisions: Leadership in Policy Making and Crisis Management.  Irving Janis developed the concept of groupthink to explain the disordered decision-making process that occurs in groups whose members work together over an extended period of time. His research into groupthink led to the wide acceptance of the power of peer pressure. According to Janis, there are several key elements to groupthink, including: He observed that: The group develops an illusion of invulnerability that causes them to be excessively optimistic about the potential outcomes of their actions. Group members believe in the inherent accuracy of the group’s beliefs or the inherent goodness of the group itself. Such an example can be seen when people make decisions based on patriotism. The group tends to develop negative or stereotyped views of people not in the group.  The group exerts pressure on people who disagree with the group’s decisions. The group creates the illusion that everyone agrees with the group by censoring dissenting beliefs. Some members of the group take it upon themselves to become “mindguards” and correct dissenting beliefs.  This process can cause a group to make risky or immoral decisions.  This book was one of my assigned textbooks during undergraduate studies in the early 1980s, and it has deeply influenced my entire career as a scientist, physician, academic, entrepreneur, and consultant. It has been widely read, often as required reading during undergraduate political science coursework, and A Review of General Psychology survey (published in 2002) ranked Janis as the 79th most cited psychologist of the 20th century. As I have considered the revelations provided by the recent books from Dr. Scott Atlas (A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America) and Dr. Deborah Birx (Silent Invasion: The Untold Story of the Trump Administration, Covid-19, and Preventing the Next Pandemic Before It’s Too Late), I realized that the prescient insights of Dr. Janis were directly applicable to the group dynamics, behaviors and faulty decision making observed within the core HHS leadership “insider group” responsible for much of the grossly dysfunctional decision making which has characterized the COVIDcrisis. Janis’ insights into the process of groupthink in the context of dysfunctional public policy decision making profoundly foreshadowed the behaviors observed within the HHS COVID leadership team. A high degree of group cohesiveness is conductive to a high frequency of symptoms of groupthink, which in turn are conductive to a high frequency of defects in decision-making.  Two conditions that may play an important role in determining whether or not group cohesiveness will lead to groupthink have been mentioned – insulation of the policy-making group and promotional leadership practices. Rather than paraphrasing his ideas, below I provide key quotes from his seminal work which help shed light on the parallels between the foreign policy decision making fiascos which he examined and current COVIDcrisis mismanagement. I use the term “groupthink” as a quick and easy way to refer to a mode of thinking that peole engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the member’s strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.  “Groupthink” is a term of the same order as the words in the newspeak vocabulary George Orwell presents in his dismaying 1984– a vocabulary with terms such as “doublethink” and “crimethink”.  By putting groupthink with those Orwellian words, I realize that groupthink takes on an invidious connotation.  The invidiousness is intentional.  Groupthink refers to a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures. Hardhearted actions by softheaded groups At first I was surprised by the extent to which the groups in the fiascoes I have examined adhered to group norms and pressures toward uniformity.  Just as in groups of ordinary citizens, a dominant characteristic appears to be remaining loyal to the group by sticking with the decisions to which the group has committed itself, even when the policy is working badly and has unintended consequences that disturb the conscience of the members.  In a sense, members consider loyalty to the group the highest form of morality. That loyalty requires each member to avoid raising controversial issues, questioning weak arguments, or calling a halt to softheaded thinking.  Paradoxically, softheaded groups are likely to be extremely hardhearted toward out-groups and enemies.  In dealing with a rival nation, policymakers comprising an amiable group find it relatively easy to authorize dehumanizing solutions such as large-scale bombings.  An affable group of government officials is unlikely to pursue the difficult and controversial issues that arise when alternatives to a harsh military solution come up for discussion.  Nor are members inclined to raise ethical issues that imply that this “fine group of ours, with its humanitarianism and its high-minded principles, might be capable of adopting a course of action that is inhumane and immoral.” The more amiability and esprit de corps among the members of a policy-making in-group, the greater is the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by groupthink, which is likely to result in irrational and dehumanizing actions directed against out groups. Janis defined eight symptoms of groupthink: 1)    An illusion of invulnerability, shared by most or all of the members, which creates excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks. 2)    Collective efforts to rationalize in order to discount warnings which might lead the members to reconsider their assumptions before they recommit themselves to their past policy decisions. 3)    An unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality, inclining the members to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions. 4)    Stereotyped views of enemy leaders as too evil to warrant genuine attempts to negotiate, or as too weak and stupid to counter whatever risky attempts are made to defeat their purposes. 5)    Direct pressure on any member who expresses strong arguments against any of the group’s stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, making clear that this type of dissent is contrary to what is expected of all loyal members. 6)    Self-censorship of deviations from the apparent group consensus, reflecting each member’s inclination to minimize to himself the importance of his doubts and counterarguments. 7)    A shared illusion of unanimity concerning judgements conforming to the majority view (partly resulting from self-censorship of deviations, augmented by the false assumption that silence means consent). 8)    The emergence of self-appointed mindguards- members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions. It is relatively easy to identify errors of thought, process, and decision making in retrospect. Much harder is to devise recommendations that will help to avoid repeating history. Fortunately, Dr. Janis’ provides a set of prescriptions which I have found useful throughout my career, and which can be readily and effectively applied in almost any group decision making environment.  He provides the following context for his treatment plan: My two main conclusions are that along with other sources of error in decision-making, groupthink is likely to occur within cohesive small groups of decision-makers and that the most corrosive effects of groupthink can be counteracted by eliminating group insulation, overly directive leadership practices, and other conditions that foster premature consensus.  Those who take these conclusions seriously will probably find that the little knowledge they have about groupthink increases their understanding of the causes of erroneous group decisions and sometimes even has some practical value in preventing fiascoes. Perhaps one step that might be taken to avoid further repeats of the public health policy “fiascoes” which characterize the domestic and global response to the COVIDcrisis is to mandate leadership training of the Senior Executive Service (much as mandated within DoD), and particularly within the leadership of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Whether or not this ever becomes the governmental policy, below are the nine key points which any of us can apply when seeking to avoid groupthink in groups that we participate in. Nine action items for avoiding groupthink 1)    The leader of a policy-forming group should assign the role of critical evaluator to each member, encouraging the group to give high priority to airing objections an doubts.  This practice needs to be reinforced by the leader’s acceptance of criticism of his own judgements in order to discourage the members from soft-pedaling their disagreements.2)    The leaders in an organizations hierarchy, when assigning a policy planning mission to a group, should be impartial instead of stating preferences and expectations out the outset.  This practice requires each leader to limit his briefings to unbiased statements about the scope of the problem and the limitations of available resources, without advocating specific proposals he would like to see adopted.  This allows the conferees the opportunity to develop and atmosphere of open inquiry and to explore impartially a wide range of policy alternatives. 3)    The organization should routinely follow the administrative practice of setting up several independent policy-planning and evaluation groups to work on the same policy question, each carrying out its deliberations under a different leader. 4)    Throughout the period when the feasibility and effectiveness of policy alternatives are being surveyed, the policy-making group should from time to time divide into two or more subgroups to meet separately, under different chairmen, and then come together to hammer out their differences. 5)    Each member of the policy-making group should discuss periodically the group’s deliberations with trusted associates in his own unit of the organization and report back their reactions. 6)    One or more outside experts or qualified colleagues within the organization who are not core members of the policy-making group should be invited to each meeting on a staggered basis and should be encouraged to challenge the views of the core members. 7)    At every meeting devoted to evaluating policy alternatives, at least one member should be assigned the role of devil’s advocate. 8)    Whenever the policy issue involves relations with a rival nation or organization, a sizable bloc of time (perhaps an entire session) should be spent surveying all warning signals from the rivals and constructing alternative scenarios of the rivals’ intentions. 9)    After reaching a preliminary consensus about what seems to be the best policy alternative, the policy-making group should hold a “second chance” meeting at which every member is expected to express as vividly as he can all his residual doubts and to rethink the entire issue before making a definitive choice.   Robert W. Malone is a physician and biochemist. His work focuses on mRNA technology, pharmaceuticals, and drug repurposing research. You can find him at Substack and Gettr   Tyler Durden Thu, 08/11/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 12th, 2022

Did Lockdowns Turn Americans Into Lazy Bums?

Did Lockdowns Turn Americans Into Lazy Bums? Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via Brownstone Institute, It looks as if we can add another line to the long list of lockdown harms. Sloth.  This explains so much actually. For months, we’ve been watching working/population ratios and labor participation rates and have been stunned by how they both continue to plummet. We search for explanations. Early retirement. Women driven out due to childcare shortages. Unemployment payments.  All these factors contribute but there is still more to explain.  In the midst of the astonishing hullabaloo over the raid of Donald Trump’s home – and the confiscation of a pro-freedom Republican Congressman’s smartphone – the Bureau of Labor Statistics dropped a remarkable report on labor productivity. Here we see something we’ve never seen before.  It’s low and falling. Lower than it has been than in the entire postwar period. It breaks all records. This chart is from 1948 to the present. It adjusts for all factors including participation, population, retirement, and so on. It only looks at hours over output. Here is what we see.  What does this mean? The immediate response might be that Americans have gotten lazy. They got used to their Zoom lifestyles and pretending to work. They want to hang around on apps, Tweet, chat it up with their friends on Facebook or Slack, and otherwise fake out the boss who can’t fire them anyway for fear of lawsuits. They aren’t doing much anymore, at least not those in high-end employment in professional office suits.  I resisted that conclusion and looked more deeply into how this number is calculated. It looks at total economic output compared to the number of labor hours from wage and salary employees involved in making that output. The result is a figure that estimates productivity per hour. And yes, it is probably widely inaccurate as these sorts of macroeconomic magnitudes tend to be. We use them anyway because they are consistently inaccurate: the same method used to calculate in one quarter is used to calculate in all. It thereby becomes useful.  And what it reveals is probably what we might expect. American workers have dealt with lockdowns and shutdowns, plus vaccine mandate demoralization, plus inflation eating away at real wages, plus an existing or impending recession, and you have the result. A nation of goof-offs.  It might be more than that. Lockdowns kicked off a national substance-abuse crisis: liquor, drugs, weed, you name it. And depression too. Even today, one cannot help but notice the smell of weed in large cities. This is not the smell of ambition and productivity.  We can combine this with the sheer number of people who have left the workforce completely and you paint a grim picture.  Economist and Brownstone Senior Fellow David Stockman has an interesting take on this. Rather than just fire people outright, companies are keeping unproductive employees on the payroll just in case. He writes: Today’s Q2 productivity report…came in at -4.7%, on top of the -7.7% decline posted in Q1. Together they amount to the worst back-to-back productivity declines ever reported. Our point is that this development puts a whole new angle on the so-called “strong” labor market. To wit, owing to the labor market turmoil and disruptions of the Covid-Lockdowns and massive stimmy injections since 2020, employers are apparently hiring on a just-in-case basis like rarely before. This is otherwise known as top-of-the-cycle labor hoarding. As shown below, since Q4 2021 economic output, which is a close derivative of real GDP, has shrunk by –1.2%. By contrast, the US nonfarm payroll has increased by 2.77 million jobs or nearly +2.0%. Needless to say, with far more labor spread over contracting output, labor productivity took it on the chin. That is to say, bad Washington policies including $6 trillion of stimmies, massive money-pumping and the brutal Lockdowns of the Virus Patrol have apparently left employers dazed and confused. At length, however, employers will wake-up to the fact that bloated payrolls against declining sales will result in a severe profit margin squeeze. Then the labor-shedding and layoffs will commence big time, even as the Keynesians in the Eccles Building are reduced to babbling about the “strong” labor market which suddenly vanished. What he is getting at is what I’ve called (after Keynes) the coming euthanasia of the overclass. It won’t be the people actually doing real stuff who will face layoffs but the Zoom workers who stayed home because government said they could and their employers could not object. Employees gradually discovered that they could be anywhere – at the pool, in bed, on the road, climbing mountains – and so long as they had a Slack app running, no one could tell.  Lockdowns acculturated an entire generation to believe that work is fake, productivity is a ruse, money comes for nothing, the boss is an idiot, and many workers are privileged to be wealthy forever due to papers handed out for $200,000 by colleges and universities. Who needs productivity, much less ambition?  In the old days, in an ethos formed from bourgeois experience over hundreds of years, the idea of working and doing one’s part was ingrained as a moral habit, part of the liturgy of life itself. When the government told everyone to stop in the name of virus control, something went haywire in people’s brains. If governments say that the work ethic amounts to nothing but pathogenic spread, and we can all contribute more by staying home and doing less, it’s hard to go back. It wrecked a generation. We are paying the price now.  The good news for the productive few is that this means higher wages and job opportunities galore, especially if you have actual skill and a desire to work. The bad news for everyone else is that many companies will soon discover that you are useless. That’s when the unemployment numbers will start ticking up, making this recession look more like ones in the past except for the relentless decline in real wages.  To answer the question about whether Americans have become lazy bums, the answer is many but not all. It’s sector specific. And individual specific.  Strange times. Sad times.  Tyler Durden Thu, 08/11/2022 - 21:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 11th, 2022

"Ding, Dong Inflation Is Dead"... But Probably Isn"t So Don"t Get Your Hopes Up Yet

'Ding, Dong Inflation Is Dead'... But Probably Isn't So Don't Get Your Hopes Up Yet Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com, “Inflation is everywhere a misunderstanding of what actually caused it..“ The pace of US CPI inflation moderated slightly, but it’s too early for the market to conclude rate hikes are over. There are many imbalances still to resolve – especially in consumer credit. Meanwhile, the new UK premier’s clumsy attempts to blame the BOE raise questions. Markets surged last night on the back of lower-than-expected US inflation. Markets globally rallied, anticipating a slowdown in the pace of Fed Interest Rate Hikes, and a resumption of the long bull Equity market. Bonds rallied. Joy, joy… joy.. Oh dear. It may be well to remember the Happy Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz singing “Ding Dong, Inflation’s Dead…” but, that occurs right at the start of the film… before things get “challenging”. I’m not saying End-of-the-World.. just not-quite-as-rosy-as-you-hope! The pace of US consumer price inflation fell to 8.5% y-o-y, down from 9.1% in June. It’s well to remember what the CPI number shows is fast prices are rising, not how much they have risen – it’s a subtle, but critical difference… 8.5% Inflation means prices are still rising, (Doh!), just less quickly than last month. Rising prices mean the Fed, and other Central Banks still have to address them. (Which is why expecting Central Banks to mellow rate rises/tighter monetary policy on a single snapshot number is a foolish hope.) 8% inflation sounds so much better than 9%, but it’s still inflation; an imbalance between supply and demand that prices are trying to correct. Result: central banks will keep raising rates to stun demand – if they are brave enough to court criticism from politicians. The US number shows there are still significant inflationary pulses – and concurrent consequences – surging through the US economy. The lower number will focus analysts on just how quickly the inflation pace will start to fall. The oil shocks in the 1970s lasted effectively a decade. The first 1973 shock took around three years to abate, and was followed by an even stronger price shock in 1977 that took till the early 80s to resolve. A one-month reversal in a longer-term inflation trend is not unusual – it’s far too early to say a one-month slight improvement in the pace of rising prices means the top has been crossed. But the inflation charts do show it is unusual to get consecutive months of declines, and then a sharp increase again. Its more common for inflation to remain stubbornly high for a number of years following an upspike. (That said… in time of “policy experimentation”, like 2010, an upspike was swiftly followed by a down spike.) What the US CPI number did confirm is the US economy is in a very different place, and a different stage, to Europe and the Global economy. The key difference is the US report showed energy prices are normalising and reducing as petrol prices moderate. Jet fuel costs declined bringing down the cost of travel. In Europe – there is little chance of energy price moderation – if anything consumer energy bills will become increasingly chaotic and damaging to sentiment. Queue the great divergence between US and Europe – and what that means in terms of investment opportunities. On the other hand; the US numbers show rising interest rates are impacting consumers cash, food prices continue to rise sharply while housing costs are also spiking. Ah… common experiences Europe and the US share. The CPI numbers suggest the US economy is still in trouble. Over the past few months I’ve been watching things like Auto-loan delinquencies – as rates rise, and car prices surged on the back of availability and supply chain issues (primarily the shortage of chips), car financing costs became increasingly unaffordable. Auto-loan defaults are rising – but they have not become a crisis because – thus far – the used-car market can very quickly absorb repossessed cars. The reality is 20% of US autoloans go to sub-prime borrowers – who are the ones living pay-check to pay-check, and following years of declining real income (and now a crashing real-income shock) lack the financial resilience to keep paying. Figures from the Fed show US Household debt is increasing – up 2% in Q2 2022 to $16.15 trillion (!). Officially, that’s because of repressed spending during the pandemic. In reality, it’s cash-strapped US consumers are living off credit. Much of that credit is real: mortgage and auto-lending, but other numbers like credit cards and  from new DeFi lenders showing rising shadow-banking sector lending problems. The default crisis impacting lenders like Klarna comes on the back of cash-strapped consumers using credit to buy their daily milk, bread and petrol. You can’t repossess a bag of shopping. The inflation driven economic threat in Europe is also about consumers. Years of low incomes, wage constraints, and job insecurity across much of Southern Europe leaves a massive number of consumers with precious few savings. The middle classes have been decimated by rising costs, consumer debt, and taxes. (It’s a truism: if you can afford a lawyer and an accountant, you can avoid taxes… which is why tax gatherers, like the UK HRMC go for the weakest targets to collect unpaid dues. It takes less effort to extract a million in taxes from 10 struggling middle-class businessmen that it takes to get Amazon to pay a single cent. If there businesses collapse – so what, the tax got its money…) Who is to blame for inflation? The UK’s prime minister in waiting, Tank Girl Liz Truss ,says it’s all the Bank of England’s doing. Which is somewhat harsh. I was unaware Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey triggered the Russian invasion of Ukraine after first persuading Angela Merkle to close her nuclear plants and give German energy security to Vladmir Putin. `I though the Energy shock and food inflation shock were exogenous. I was unaware it was Andrew Bailey who decided Tory MPS could give billions of govt money to their chums to not deliver functional PPE to the health service during the pandemic. I was unaware it was Andrew Bailey who came up with (actually brilliant) furlough scheme to preserve jobs and consumer security (that was a very clever civil servant who has got zero credit for his efforts.) I was unaware it was Andrew Bailey who set the government’s spending plans… What I thought was Andrew Bailey and his colleagues at the Bank of England were maintaining a low interest rate economy to keep the pandemic economy functioning through the challenging pandemic years, and to keep the gilt market looking attractive so the UK Debt Management Office could continue to fund the Government’s funding schemes – all the while fretting about how to normalise ultra-low interest rates put in place to stimulate the economy in the 20-teens without destabilising everything. Liz Truss doesn’t think so. That’s why she will not be getting my vote. (Not that I have one to give her.. but that’s not the point.) The point is our next prime minister and First Lord of the Treasury will be chosen by 160,000 rank and file conservative party members. They are generally older, well-off, white, male and Eurosceptic. 63% are male. 80% are in the wealthy ABC demographic. 58% are over 55 and remember the Glory of Margaret Thatcher with religious reverence. Which is why I think someone has been whispering in Tank Girl’s ear – I suspect the Minister for the Spanish Inquisition (Jacob Rees-Mogg). Now, Tank Girl wants to remove the Bank’s independence and replace inflation targeting with money supply targeting. Christ-on-a-bike: did I just drop through a worm hole into 1981? Big hair, shoulder pads, Duran-Duran and economic disaster… I fear She opened the door into the Treasury’s Black Museum – and unlocked the box of Tragic Economic Mistakes, unleasing the Zombies of Monetarist Economic thinking like Mad Paddy Mitford (who says her plans are brilliant – unsurprisingly) and Tim Condon. Oh dear. Lord spare us… If so, then we really are rubber ducked. Monetarism, ahem,  was such a success back in the 1980s – NOT! In the form of Thatcherism, the consequences are today’s broken Britain, the imbalance between London and the regions unknown outside the M25, the rebellious Scots and a host of long-term structural problems. If someone had unleashed the Zombie Vampyres of Monetarism, then I’ll be sure to carry my crucifix, a sharp pointy wooden stake, and flask of Lagavulin (my holy water) when next in London. Although its only August, the Christmas shops are already opening. I am tempted to write to Santa now. “Dear Father Christmas… I have been a very good boy all year. Please can we have a completely new UK Government?” Tyler Durden Thu, 08/11/2022 - 07:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 11th, 2022

Democratic Party Playbook Exposed: The Cloward-Piven Strategy

Democratic Party Playbook Exposed: The Cloward-Piven Strategy Via EconomicNoise.com, Cloward and Piven is the Playbook of the Democrat Party. It is the second part of this two-pronged approach: When you don’t have logic or reason on your side, use power. If you don’t have enough power, flood the system to acquire more. Cloward and Piven Flooding the system was the Cloward and Piven strategy to bring down this country. Create real or phony problems that “require” government actions that begin the process of shifting freedoms from individuals to the State. (For a more layman’s insight, see here.) Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s Chief of Staff, said that “no good crisis should ever go to waste.” That implied an opening for more government, a Cloward and Piven (CP) opportunity. (To visualize one asserted implementation of this, involving Acorn, see here.) The strategy is not a Democrat monopoly. Republicans use it also, although do not brag about it or depend upon it almost exclusively. The process is like rust eroding liberty, slowly and steadily. It replaces freedom with dependency and controls. There are two problems with the strategy: It must be slow and steady (boil the frog beginning with unheated water, slowly increasing the temperature [a wonderful metaphor but physically erroneous] so that the frog doesn’t notice until it is too late). It must be stealth, that is citizen “frogs” must not realize what is happening. The CP strategy was developed in and for a world very different from today. The Internet changed this world. Conventional media was all that needed to be controlled in the CP world. By controlling this source, government created its own “Pravda.” Controlling the  media was possible because it was owned by corporations. It consisted of known and immovable assets, which are easy targets for government. The message was simple: Obey or we will put you out of business!  Legal action against government is a “fool’s errand.” They own the courts and have unlimited funds to fight. If threatened, you will comply or they will bankrupt you! Tax issues and anti-trust cases are the bludgeoning weapons of choice. Fighting charges, regardless of how false, is akin to a minor suing his parents. That is why media, other companies and wealthy individuals generally settle government claims for enormous sums of money, but without the admission of guilt. There is no better job than that of blackmailer when you are also the sheriff or the Department of  Justice! Why are Things Different Then came the internet! While it didn’t stop extortion of corporations, it exposed the media as “captured” propagandists. Bloggers began telling different “truths.” The first reaction was to shut them down. Unfortunately for government, this group is so diverse geographically and otherwise, that traditional threats of “putting you out of business” were meaningless. Asset confiscation threats are meaningless when there are no physical assets. To be a blogger only requires electricity and the internet (and perhaps some intellectual capital to enhance success). The only way to shut these sources down is to control the Internet and its content. The first was impossible. The second was tried. Unfortunately for government, silencing free speech is frowned upon in free countries, especially those where Free Speech is the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Definitions of speech that didn’t qualify for protection were tried (“hate speech,” “lies,” “dangerous rhetoric,” “racism,” “inciting danger,” etc.) in an effort to obviate the First Amendment. Threats of imprisonment were tried, but the First Amendment was too broad and too sacred for these efforts to succeed. Government then went after the platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). It was the same corrupt strategy employed against traditional media — You impose our “bans” (censorship) or we will put you out of business! But, “muscling” these corporate platforms only caused new competitors to sprout. Most were smaller and not asset-heavy. Suppressed views and voices began to move to these venues where free speech was allowed. Censorship works, but only where government can exert leverage via harm. It was easy to cow Facebook and Twitter. Ditto for established institutions like public schools, colleges and corporations. These entities had to decide whether they wanted the hassle and threats of being “un-woke.” Most submitted, presumably determining that losing some customers would be less costly than getting into a legal or other battle with Leviathan. Some probably thought this “new inclusiveness” would gain them additional customers. The Wrong War Generals are always prepared to fight the next war in the same manner they fought the last one. They are rarely prepared to fight the next one if it requires different strategies and tactics. So it appears to be here! Government believed prior tactics and strategies would suffice. The prior war was against traditional media with fixed positions and assets. The Internet changed “warfare.” It created media guerrilla war! This new enemy moves quickly and has no assets to threaten or destroy. Take away a bloggers website address and he easily gets a new one. Government wins against corporate internet players but loses against the “guerrillas.” Vietnam and Afghanistan showed US military weaknesses in non-conventional wars. Traditional bloggers or start-up sharing sites are guerrillas. Conventional war strategies do not win guerrilla battles! Arguably the demented Joe Biden and his Obama staff are to thank for ultimately saving this country. Someone inside that Administration realized the “slow boil” strategy was not convincing the American public fast enough and had to be sped up. They put Cloward and Piven into overdrive! Time was likely not on their side, but escalating the war was a fatal mistake! Marty Bent summarized it nicely: They tried to do too much too quickly and people have started to develop pattern recognition on the go that allows them to recognize when the unproductive class is attempting to manipulate their minds.  This pattern recognition is accelerated and enhanced by our ability to communicate directly with each other in real time over the internet. Instant communications were not possible when Cloward and Piven designed their strategy. Nor was there a means to present an opposing view. That all changed with the Internet. Now you see why governments around the world want to control the Internet. They can’t and they must not be allowed to change that! For all its negatives, the Internet has at least one positive — it obsoleted traditional and controllable sources of information. The fragmentation of the internet makes it impossible to control (unless you wish to go full Communist Korea or China). This country is not ready for that step, at least not yet. Thank God for the private sector, technology and the Internet. Together they voided the Cloward and Piven strategy, censorship and a complete government take-over of society. So long as the Internet exists in its present form (warts and all), freedom cannot be extinguished. Big guns do not silence big truths! Only big censorship can do that and we must not allow that to happen! Tyler Durden Wed, 08/10/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 11th, 2022

"Coup" Means Whatever The Regime Wants It To Mean

"Coup" Means Whatever The Regime Wants It To Mean Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute, In the immediate aftermath of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, many pundits and politicians were eager to describe the events of that day as a coup d'etat in which the nation was "this close" to having some sort of junta void the 2020 election and take power in Washington.  The headlines at the time were unambiguous in their assertions that the riot was a coup or attempted coup. For example, the riot was “A Very American Coup” according to a headline at the New Republic. “This Is a Coup” insists a writer at Foreign Policy. The Atlantic presented photos purported to be “Scenes from an American Coup.”  This general tactic has not changed since then. Just this month, for example, Vanity Fair referred to the January 6 riots as "Trump's attempted coup" Last month, Vox called it "Trump's cuckoo coup." Moreover, anti-Trump politicians have repeatedly referred to the riot as a coup, and "attempted coup" has become the standard term of choice for the January 6 panel.  At the time, it was obvious that if the riot was a coup at all, it failed utterly. Thus, the debate is now over whether or not it was an attempted coup. On January 8, 2021, I argued the riot was not an attempted coup. Now, 18 months later, after months of "investigation" and testimony to the January 6 committee, we've learned new details about the events that occurred that day. And now I can say with even more confidence: the January 6 riot was not an attempted coup.  It was not an attempted coup because it simply wasn't the sort of event that historians and political scientists—the people who actually study coups—generally define as a coup. Even the Justice Department admits that virtually all of the rioters were, at most, guilty only of crimes such as trespassing and disorderly conduct. Among the tiny minority of those charged with actual conspiracy—11 people— they lacked any sort of institutional backing or support that is necessary for a coup attempt to take place.  Nor is this just some meaningless debate over semantics. Words matters and definitions matter. This should be abundantly clear to anyone in our current age of debates over what terms like "recession" or "vaccine" or "woman" mean. In fact, the use of term "coup" has been thoroughly weaponized in that outside academic circles it is employed largely as a pejorative to discredit political acts designed to register discontent with a ruling regime or to oppose a ruling coalition. For many, the term coup is now used increasingly to describe political acts one doesn't like. But if the term "coup" ultimately means "political thing those bad guys did" then it ceases to have any precise meaning at all. But, the use of the term in this way does explain why so many pundits and politicians routinely use the term to label their opponents coup plotters. It's basically name calling, and really only tells us about the user's political leanings.  What Is a Coup? In their article for the Journal of Peace Research, “Global Instances of Coups from 1950 to 2010: A New Dataset,” authors Jonathan M. Powell and Clayton L. Thyne provide a definition:  A coup attempt includes illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive. Although the terms "military" and "coup" are routinely employed together, Powell and Thyne emphasize military involvement at early stages is not necessary: [Other definitions] more broadly allow non-military elites, civilian groups, and even mercenaries to be included as coup perpetrators. This broad definition includes four sources, including [a definition stating that coup] perpetrators need only be ‘organized factions’. We take a middle ground. Coups may be undertaken by any elite who is part of the state apparatus. These can include non-civilian members of the military and security services, or civilian members of government. Moreover, it is not necessary that violence actually be used. The presence of a threat issued by some organized group of elites is sufficient.  This definition is helpful because there are many types of political actions that are not coups, even if the intended outcome is a change in the ruling regime. The definition offered by Powell and Thyne is useful because it avoids "conflating coups with other forms of anti-regime activity, which is the primary problem with broader approaches." For example, popular uprisings that force ruling executives from power are not generally coups. Intervention by a foreign regime is not a coup. Civil wars initiated by non-elites or other outsiders are not coups.  Why the Jan 6 Riot Was Not a Coup In the case of the January 6 riot, the rioters had no institutional backing, no promises of help from elites, and no reason to assume they had access to any coercive tools necessary to seize and hold control of a state's executive apparatus. Nor was Donald Trump even in a position to promise such things. As noted by Elaine Kamarck at the Brookings Institution:  we now know that Trump did not even have the support of his own family and friends nor his handpicked White House staff. To pursue his plans, he had to rely on a close group of advisors known as “the clown show” led by Rudi Giuliani, a pillow manufacturer, and a dot-com millionaire—none of whom was in government and none of whom controlled the most important “assets” (guns, tanks, planes etc.) needed to take over a government. In contrast to most successful coups in history, Trump had no faction of the military, no faction of the National Guard, and no faction of the District of Colombia Metropolitan Police at his disposal. In other words, the rioters had no avenue to calling upon any faction of the state or group of elites to secure backing. Kamarck continues:  As we learned in some of the most recent hearings, it was Vice President Mike Pence who was in contact with the military and the police, and most importantly, the military and the police were taking orders from Pence not Trump, the commander in chief!  Given that Trump didn't attempt to actually attempt to secure any government agency to secure power for himself, we can guess Trump knew no branch of the federal government was about to step in to illegally secure an extension to his tenure as president. We can never know for sure what Trump was really thinking on that day, but even if Trump sought to encourage a group of protestors to somehow put pressure on Congress—even if by violent means—that's not a coup. It's a popular uprising.  The Bolivian "Coup": The Anti-Morales Protestors in Bolivia  The protests that followed the 2019 elections in Bolivia provide an interestingly similar case to the January 6 riot and demonstrate that it's often quite debatable as to what constitutes a coup.  As the Bolivian election neared its end on October 24, sitting president Evo Morales began to claim victory. Numerous opponents, however, claimed Morales's supporters had engaged in electoral fraud. Both sides refused to accept the results of the election, and protests and riots soon erupted across the nation. Morales and his supporters accused the opposition of staging a coup. The opposition accused Morales of the same. Or, more precisely, they accused Morales of attempting an "autocoup"—autogolpe in Spanish—in which Morales was attempting to hold on to power via illegal means.  Ultimately, Morales ended up resigning after he failed to maintain control over the police and military. High ranking officials from those institutions "recommended" Morales resign, and Morales did so soon after. Morales went into exile and Mexico and the opposition became the de facto governing coalition in Bolivia.  There remains no agreement, however, as to whether or not the actions of either side in Brazil constituted a coup (or autocoup.) Morales's supporters—mostly leftists—refer to the political crisis following the election as a coup. Those who are convinced Morales did indeed lose the election refer to his efforts as an autocoup. But many also refer to the events as a popular uprising.  For many, the situation in Bolivia in 2019 remains ambiguous, and we can see how it shares many elements in common with the events surrounding the January 6 riot at the Capitol. It began with claims of election fraud, and ended with a group of protestors attempting to pressure congress to change the outcome. This is not fundamentally different from the popular uprisings in Bolivia, except that in the US the outcome was never really dubious. There was never really any doubt as to whether the Pentagon would he helping Trump push through an autocoup. Trump never had any real reason to believe he could hold on to power, even with 900 mostly unarmed protestors trespassing in the Capitol.  "Coup" Now Means "Thing I Don't Like" The Bolivia situation also helps to illustrate how the term "coup" is used selectively for political effect. The fact that Morales's leftist supporters are generally those who favor the use of the term to describe Morales's removal from office is no coincidence. Those who support one side say it's a coup, while the other side does not.  We see the same dynamic at work in the US, and we should not be surprised that the media has rushed to apply the term to the riot. This phenomenon was examined in a November 2019 article titled “Coup with Adjectives: Conceptual Stretching or Innovation in Comparative Research?,” by Leiv Marsteintredet and Andres Malamud. The authors note that as the incidence of real coups has declined, the word has become more commonly applied to political events that are generally not coups. But, as the authors note, this is no mere issue of splitting hairs, explaining that “The choice of how to conceptualize a coup is not to be taken lightly since it carries normative, analytical, and political implications.” Increasingly, the term really means "this is a thing I don’t like." It's clear the January 6 panel in Congress, and countless anti-Trump pundits use the term in this way to express disapproval and also to justify regime crackdowns against pro-Trump opponents of the regime. It's easier to justify harsh prison sentences for a disorganized group of vandals if their acts can be framed as a nearly successful coup and therefore a threat to "our democracy." Moreover, if the situation were reversed, and if protestors invaded the Capitol to support a leftwing, pro-regime candidate, we can be sure that the vocabulary used to describe the event in the mainstream press would be quite different.  Tyler Durden Wed, 08/10/2022 - 17:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 10th, 2022

Gas prices have finally dropped below $4 a gallon, but a slowing economy means weaker demand - the US government has cut its consumption forecast for a 4th time

Gas prices will remain volatile as the energy market struggles with demand and supply uncertainty, according to a market analyst. US gas prices have fallen sharply since June.JOSEPH PREZIOSO/Getty Images US gas prices fell below $4 a gallon in August, but despite that, demand for fuel is decreasing. The US government slashed its 2022 gas consumption forecast for a fourth month in a row. Sky-high prices and a weakening economy are weighing on fuel demand.  The US government has cut its forecast for gasoline consumption this year for a fourth month in a row, even as fuel prices have finally dropped below $4 a gallon. Gasoline consumption for 2022 is forecast to reach 8.83 million barrels a day, down from a previous estimate of 8.84 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Information Administration. This would mark little change from 2021's 8.80 million barrels a day in consumption, but a near-10% rise on demand in 2020, when the coronavirus crisis shut down almost all normal daily activity.The EIA has cut its forecast for US gasoline demand every month since May, when it projected consumption would reach 8.91 million barrels per day.American drivers have endured pain at the pump after US gas prices hit a record $5 a gallon nationwide in early June. The surging prices have kept drivers off the road and altered many consumers' other habits, like buying cheaper cuts of meat or cutting subscriptions. In July, the American Automobile Association showed high gas prices were cutting into demand, with 64% of consumers surveyed saying they have changed their lifestyle in response. Out of that 64%, 90% said they were driving less. That demand is unlikely to go up despite gas prices finally falling below $4 a gallon to $3.99 a gallon, according to GasBuddy in a sign that inflation could finally be cooling down.  "It's another sign that, for now, Americans are changing their driving habits to cope with higher pump prices," AAA said. Meanwhile, the prospect of a global recession is playing a part in dampening consumer demand as they tighten their purse strings to cope with a slowing economy."What is clear is that the oil market is still struggling with both supply and demand uncertainty, and as a result the market is struggling to convincingly find direction. This uncertainty, combined with the lower traded volumes over the summer months, means that prices remain fairly volatile," said Warren Patterson, an ING commodities strategist. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 10th, 2022

Pulling Forward Growth No Longer An Option

Pulling Forward Growth No Longer An Option Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com, Pulling forward growth over the last decade remains the Federal Reserve’s primary tool for keeping financial markets stable while economic growth rates and inflation remained weak. From repeated rounds of monetary and fiscal interventions, asset markets surged, increasing investor wealth and confidence, which, as Ben Bernanke stated in 2010, would support economic growth. To wit: “This approach eased financial conditions in the past and, so far, looks to be effective again. Stock prices rose and long-term interest rates fell when investors began to anticipate the most recent action. Easier financial conditions will promote economic growth. For example, lower mortgage rates will make housing more affordable and allow more homeowners to refinance. Lower corporate bond rates will encourage investment. And higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending.”  – Ben Bernanke That certainly seemed to be the case as each time the economy stumbled; Federal Reserve interventions kept the financial markets and economy stable. However, there is sufficient evidence that “monetary policy” leads to other problems, most notably a surge in wealth inequality without a corresponding increase in economic growth. As noted in the previous articles, current monetary policy has its roots in Keynesian economic theory. To wit: “A general glut would occur when aggregate demand for goods was insufficient, leading to an economic downturn resulting in losses of potential output due to unnecessarily high unemployment, which results from the defensive (or reactive) decisions of the producers.” In such a situation, Keynesian economics states that fiscal policies could increase aggregate demand, thus expanding economic activity and reducing unemployment.  The only problem is that it didn’t work as planned because “monetary policy” is NOT expansionary. “Since 2008, the total cumulative growth of the economy is just $4.05 trillion. In other words, for each dollar of economic growth since 2008, it required nearly $11 of monetary stimulus. Such sounds okay until you realize it came solely from debt issuance.“ The question is whether pulling forward growth through monetary policy is sustainable. The Unsustainability Of Monetary Policy We have previously noted an inherent problem with ongoing monetary interventions. Notably, the fiscal policies implemented post the pandemic-driven economic shutdown created a surge in demand that created an unprecedented surge in corporate earnings. Here is the problem. As shown below, the surge in the M2 money supply is now over. Without further stimulus, earnings must eventually revert to economically sustainable levels. While the media often states that “stocks are not the economy,” economic activity creates corporate revenues and earnings. As such, stocks can not indefinitely grow faster than the economy over long periods. When stocks deviate from the underlying economy, the eventual resolution is lower stock prices. Over time, there is a close relationship between the economy, earnings, and asset prices. For example, the chart below compares the three from 1947 through 2021. Since 1947, earnings per share have grown at 7.72%, while the economy has expanded by 6.35% annually. That close relationship in growth rates is logical given the significant role that consumer spending has in the GDP equation. The slight differentials are due to periods where earnings can grow faster than the economy. Such a period occurs when the economy is emerging from a recession. However, while nominal stock prices have averaged 9.35% (including dividends), reversions to actual economic growth eventually occur. Such is because corporate earnings are a function of consumptive spending, corporate investments, imports, and exports.  The market disconnect from underlying economic activity is apparent in the chart below. Since the peak in 2007, successive rounds of monetary interventions led to a cumulative increase of 219% for the stock market. However, real economic growth grew only 28% as corporate revenue rose by just 67%. In other words, stock prices rose nearly 8x more than the economy and 3.2x corporate revenue. There is a problem in pulling forward economic activity. The Fed Is Investors Biggest Problem For investors, the most significant risk remains the Fed. Many hope the Fed will “pivot” from its battle against surging inflation to support stocks. However, such is unlikely in the near term, with inflation running at the highest level in 40 years. However, even if the Fed does give up its fight against inflation in terms of hiking interest rates, it is unlikely they will immediately return to successive rounds of monetary policy without financial instability. So far, in 2022, markets are down, but not violently so. As we discussed previously, the Fed views markets very differently from investors. To wit: “While the market has declined this year, the market remains higher than in 2020. To reduce excess market speculations, the Fed doesn’t mind some ‘disinflation’ in asset prices. Furthermore, the market decline also contributes to its tightening monetary policy to mitigate inflationary pressures.” Absent a disorderly meltdown; the Fed will remain focused on stocks being still above their pre-crisis peak. As BofA notes: “Since in a typical consumption model, households react to sustained changes in prices over a period of three years or so, the Fed is convinced the wealth effect is still positive.” As noted above, the deviation from long-term growth trends is unsustainable. Repeated financial interventions were the cause. Therefore, unless the Federal Reverse is committed to a never-ending program of zero interest rates and quantitative easing, the eventual reversion of returns to their long-term means is inevitable. Such will solely result in profit margins and earnings returning to levels that align with actual economic activity. As Jeremy Grantham once noted: “Profit margins are probably the most mean-reverting series in finance. And if profit margins do not mean-revert, then something has gone badly wrong with capitalism. If high profits do not attract competition, there is something wrong with the system, and it is not functioning properly.” – Jeremy Grantham Tyler Durden Tue, 08/09/2022 - 08:15.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 9th, 2022

"End the CCP": Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey calls for fall of the Chinese Communist Party

Jack Dorsey called for The Party's demise after China imposed stricter COVID-19 policies, which some are concerned could be used as surveillance. Jack Dorsey on September 5, 2018.Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey tweeted "end the CCP" after China rolled out strict COVID-19 measures. China requires citizens to download an app displaying green, yellow, or red colors depending on their health. CNN found that the government was already using the surveillance method for other means. Jack Dorsey isn't a fan of the Chinese Communist Party.On Saturday, Twitter's co-founder and former CEO voiced his apparent support for the ending of the Chinese Communist Party after the nation implemented stricter COVID-19 policies.Dorsey retweeted an early June post from a Beijing-based CNN reporter detailing China's stringent measures that she had to follow, which includes constant testing and a mandatory health app that authorities can track people through. In the video, the CNN reporter said that "this surveillance will stay long after Covid is gone.""End the CCP," tweeted Dorsey in response.—jack (@jack) August 6, 2022Dorsey did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.As CBS News reported, the health app decides where you can go and if you're allowed to go there — a green light means a user is COVID-free and can enter public places. Yellow means there is danger of infection, and red indicates that a person needs to isolate or quarantine.CNN previously reported that the government was already using the app for means other than mere contact tracing — residents in the Chinese province of Henan saw their health codes turn from green to red in mid-June after staging a protest outside a bank that had frozen their deposits. The CCP has a long history of surveillance of its citizens, a practice that has especially spiked since 2020 when the pandemic hit. Chinese officials were using sophisticated technology like facial recognition cameras and flying drones to make sure people were wearing masks that March.The government also appears to have implemented a similar health app that displays green, yellow, and red colors indicating infection levels in early March 2020. The software used data from citizens' Alibaba accounts to estimate their health and then shared it with law enforcement.Experts told Insider's Alexandra Ma at the time that China could maintain this kind of mass data collection even after COVID-19 is less of a public health crisis.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 8th, 2022

The Great Wall: Why China"s Central Planners Can"t Handle Bitcoin

The Great Wall: Why China's Central Planners Can't Handle Bitcoin Authored by Andrew A via BitcoinMagazine.com, There is historical precedent for China’s resistance to bitcoin, a money that enables freedom and individual pursuit of capital... Much like the tragic figures of Greek mythology, China has a long and storied history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Its ruling class, in particular, has always had an insatiable appetite for self-flagellation. Banning bitcoin is just the final chapter of this sad and destructive story. Blessed with an abundance of natural resources, a massive population and full access to the South and East China Sea along its 9,000-mile coastline, China was perfectly set up to be the empire of all ages. And for almost 2,000 years it dominated the region. Long before the English and Spanish, China built entire fleets of treasure ships capable of traversing the far corners of the earth — capable of even reaching the New World, centuries before Columbus took sail. Had things been different, America could well have been subject to the emperor instead of the king, and Mandarin would be the world’s predominant language, not English. But this was not permitted to happen. Spurred on by jealousy, fear and spite against its own budding and prosperous merchant class, the ruling elite — aka the central planners — ordered all ships be set on fire. An act of pure self-immolation as it turns out. This stranded the Chinese people, unable to explore the outside world, and left them isolated and vulnerable to the horrors of the Opium Wars that colonial Britain brought to their shores. The next cabal of central planners to wreak havoc and destruction were the Communists under the master planner himself, Chairman Mao. And again, the target of their wrath was an up-and-coming middle class. This time the productive farmers from China’s countryside were the sacrificial lambs for slaughter. The Red Guards, Mao’s cadre of fanatical supporters, marched throughout China, zelously purging the so-called “Five Black Categories.” These included: rich farmers, property owners, counter-revolutionaries, rightists and heretics of any kind. Society having been uprooted, millions of peasants were then collectivized and forced into labor camps to produce crop yield. Of course, starvation soon followed and millions perished. Unsanctioned possession of just a grain of rice was justification enough for the execution of entire families. This living nightmare was never fully digested. In fact, with the dawn of the internet, the central planners were at it again. Paranoid from fear that their power could be challenged, a digital firewall was erected. Much like the Great Wall of China from centuries ago, this wall was meant to keep its population captive, docile and sheltered from any potentially corrupting outside influence. Unwanted speech is censored and the crimes of the past cannot be discussed. How else could a society prostrate itself at the altar of a genocidal maniac, the exterminator of its forefathers? To this day, Mao is worshiped as a god. And so, the fading memory of these atrocities and even the estimated 50-100 million dead1 weren’t sufficient to put an end to the vicious cycle. No, the central planners were just getting started. That’s right, China’s butchers had been gearing up for their next amputation. Perhaps the most devastating, self-mutilating and masochistic decision of all was the one-child policy. Here’s the sickening recipe: command women to stop bearing children (for the common good, of course) and decimate the population by several hundred million more. By 2050, the Chinese population is expected to be cut in half. Next, to add humiliation to injury, print money to artificially depress the country’s currency, making production cheaper and enslave the population as factory workers in order to boost economic activity and offset the demographic slow-down. The excess cash is then (as always) misallocated and floods into pointless real estate projects. Oftentimes, homes, apartments and buildings aren't even purchased to live in. They're purchased as stores of value — somewhere to seek shelter from the rapidly inflating money supply. This is how China’s “ghost cities” came to be; crumbling and decaying monuments to the unborn and aborted millions. And so, between collapsing demographics, a bursting real estate bubble and a zero-COVID lockdown policy (another humdinger of the central planners), China finds itself on the precipice of a potentially crippling financial crisis. The money printers must therefore run even hotter, stealing what little is left of the people’s productivity from underneath them and causing increasingly devastating calamity by inflating bubbles throughout the economy. Thus, every fatal mistake along the twisted and winding path, a consequence of the nihilistic and ultimately deadly belief in central planning. And this is where that path leads to: banning bitcoin — a pure outgrowth of the free internet and rejection of centralized power, an essential tool to combat the coercion of fiat. The central planners are of course denying this. When cornered at this summer’s WEF event, Premier Li Keqiang made some noises about lockdowns potentially being loosened, but was vehemently outspoken against stimulus injections and inflation: “We won’t resort to super large stimulus or excessive money printing to accomplish a high growth target. That will overdraw on the future.” This promise is not only empty, it is in fact a brazen and obvious lie for the following four reasons: 1. Money printing is not optional in a fiat system. Over the past 20 years, China's M2 money supply has inflated an average of 14% per year. That means the money supply has doubled every 5 years! With a total debt/GDP ratio of over 300%, the compounding of interest demands more and more printing. That’s how a debt based fiat system works. Money is circulated into the economy through the issuance of debt. Servicing the interest on this debt is only possible through, you guessed it: more money printing, i.e. debt creation. Rinse, wash, repeat. It’s the snake eating its own tail. And structurally, there’s no reversing or even tempering this. The system is built on a one-way track where it’s inflate or devastate. Not that the central planners really mind devastation, except that… 2. …Stopping the printer causes revolution. This goes double for a centralized power structure that relies heavily on coercion through money printing to bend the population to its will. It’s no coincidence that paper money was first developed by China’s central planners. The recent liquidity crunch has already led to bank runs and even demonstrations, which are exceedingly rare in China. But not to worry, military tanks were quick to respond, ready to quash any sign of insubordination in echoes of Tiananmen Square. Even worse for the central planners, record numbers of homebuyers are refusing mortgage payments in over a hundred cities. The contagion started with Evergrande last year when it defaulted on a large part of its $300B debt mountain. The property sector which accounts for 30% of economic output is now under threat. When things go bad at this scale, social unrest is never far behind. The CCP knows this and has instructed banks to bail out struggling property developers, aka more money printing. 3. China's economy is export dependent. Money printing is famously a race to the bottom. Whoever devalues the currency faster has a competitive advantage. That's because domestic goods become relatively cheaper on the international markets. China has used this to great effect, consistently pushing the yuan lower in order to boost its exports. But why not just shift to a consumer based economy and let the yuan strengthen? As discussed, China's recently abandoned one-child policy is forecast to cut the population in half within the next thirty years. There won't be enough of a population left to sustain this type of transition. Also, a consumer based economy means letting people actually choose what they want. Something central planners can’t begin to fathom. 4. They already banned bitcoin. And finally, if money printing really isn’t on the table, why close off the fire exits? China is one of the only countries that maintains a complete ban on bitcoin, including ownership, and has some of the strongest currency controls to prevent capital flight. Instead of bitcoin, China’s central planners are of course doubling down on the digital renminbi which gives them almost unlimited control over the population and tightens the noose even further. Does that sound like money printing isn’t in the cards? (Rhetorical question). The central planners are thus, as always, busy locking the gates, battening down the hatches and sealing off all possible avenues for escape. Bitcoin, as the ultimate tool for self determination, cannot be tolerated. Much like the Great Wall, the digital firewall, or the torching of treasure ships, central planners must isolate their victims and cut them off from any hope of salvation. Then they can have their way with them, undisturbed. The (central) plan is incineration through inflation. Because when things go wrong, just print some more! Tyler Durden Sun, 08/07/2022 - 13:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 7th, 2022

There"s a major culture shift inside Netflix. Insiders describe less "candor" and more "fear-based" decisions.

This week we're looking at the major culture shift inside Netflix, how the way you get paid is about to change, and tips from super savers. Hi, I'm Matt Turner, the editor in chief of business at Insider. Welcome back to Insider Weekly, a roundup of some of our top stories. On the agenda today:Netflix insiders describe a culture shift to "fear-based" decision-making.The way you get paid is about to see a massive change.Inside the hyper-competitive, paranoid quant battle between rival trading firms.Here's how super savers set aside an extra $1,000 a month. But first: Josée Rose, the executive editor for business at Insider, takes us behind the scenes of our major new report on the food crisis unfolding around the world. So without further ado…If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.  Download Insider's app here.Zooming in on an unfolding crisisJeremy Meek/Fati Abubakar/Andri Tambunan/Junya Inagaki/Octavio Jones for InsiderThere's a global food crisis unfolding, and Insider spent the past few months unpacking what this means for consumers, executive editor Josée Rose writes. This week we published our Food Crisis package, revealing struggles around the world with rising costs, as well as growing, selling, and buying food. The series zooms in on Singapore's street food markets, orange groves in Florida, Japanese fish markets, and Spanish tapas restaurants to show how the food crisis is wreaking havoc on local economies, changing cultures, and in some cases has the potential to trigger civil unrest."If you worry about domestic politics, if you worry about environmental matters, if you worry about immigration matters, if you worry about diplomacy in the military, you should be paying attention to the food crisis, because it is lurking in the background, pushing those things," Chris Barrett, an economist and food-policy expert at Cornell University, told Insider.There are 16 pieces in all, including a main analysis piece, broader stories on climate change and fertilizer, and 13 stories on shortages of different food staples. Even if you're well-fed, you should be worried about our food supply.Check out the full package here.Now, on to this week's top stories.At Netflix, a culture change is underwayAaronP/Bauer-Griffin/Getty ImagesInsider spoke with current and former Netflix employees, creators, producers, and other Hollywood stakeholders who said that as the company faces fresh challenges, its culture is undergoing changes.Many described execs who are spread thinner than ever, a creative environment driven by "fear-based" decision-making, tighter budget oversight, and concern that layoffs on certain teams have disproportionately affected people of color.What's going on inside Netflix.A seismic shift is changing how Americans get paidTyler Le/InsiderTyler Le/InsiderSalaries have long been determined based on where workers live. But with much of the country continuing to work remotely, a new phenomenon is emerging.As companies routinely hire for remote roles in cities and towns far beyond their headquarters, white-collar salaries across the country are getting tantalizingly close to those in San Francisco — meaning workers from Minneapolis to St. Louis could start earning big-city bucks. Get ready for the "Great Salary Convergence."Inside the Wall Street quant battlePatrick McMullan/Getty; Michael Kovac/Getty; Marianne Ayala/InsiderAt major trading firms, paranoia and competition for top-tier talent have fueled an escalating race to lock up employees in quant trading — where billions in profits are up for grabs. Many quant professionals have grown frustrated with the restrictions, former employees tell Insider. Are these intellectual-property safeguards, or thinly veiled employee-retention measures?Behind the aggressive noncompetes at trading firms. How "super savers" save big The author resides in Los Angeles, California.Courtesy of Kathleen ElkinsAs a senior investing reporter for Insider, Kathleen Elkins has heard a lot of money-saving hacks: a Google employee who lives in a truck parked at his company parking lot; a YouTuber who leads a simple and minimalist lifestyle; a couple who lives on their side-job income.Thanks to tips picked up from super savers, Elkins has found ways to boost her own savings — and she shares them here.Three expert-backed strategies to save $1,000 every month.This week's quote:"Most people are not OK. Founders are especially not OK." —Seven Seven Six investor and partner Katelin Holloway, on startup founders' mental health.More of this week's top reads:Some workers are scamming their employers by outsourcing their work to other people.Ezra Miller was a rising star, but allegations of grooming, abuse, and erratic behavior are threatening their once promising Hollywood career.Burned by big losses, crypto investors are going to court.Fresh layoffs hit Popshop Live as it struggles to attract new funding.Billionaire Richard Branson shares why he forgave an employee who stole from his company. Oracle insiders describe the "complete chaos" from layoffs and restructuring while employees brace for more.Plus: Keep updated with the latest business news throughout your weekdays by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio news brief from the Insider newsroom. Listen here tomorrow.Curated by Matt Turner. Edited by Sarah Belle Lin,  Jordan Parker Erb, and Lisa Ryan. Sign up for more Insider newsletters here.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 7th, 2022

Elon Musk confirms he has 9 kids with 3 women and claims a falling birthrate means a "slow death" for civilization

The world's richest individual spoke about his vision on The Full Send podcast and said the biggest threat to civilization was a falling birth rate. Musk has previously shared his concerns about declining birthrates.Ray Tamarra/Getty Images Elon Musk, who had his first child at 29 years of age, confirmed he has 9 kids with 3 women. He told The Full Send podcast that a low birth rate was the biggest threat facing the world. Mark Cuban had asked Musk how many kids he'd have, to which he replied: "Mars needs people." Elon Musk has confirmed he has nine kids with three women and would rather "civilization went out with a bang than a whimper and adult diapers."Speaking on The Full Send podcast released on Thursday, Musk was asked how many children he has and said he has nine offspring with three women. One of the hosts mentioned he had met Musk's twins, who are now going to college, their father said.The world's richest individual said the biggest threat facing the world was a flatlining birthrate and claimed that overpopulation was a myth."Population is not growing. Lifespan is increasing. People are living longer. That's the only reason why the population on earth hasn't plummeted, but it will plummet," Musk said.However, the United Nations expected the world's population to rise by 2 billion over the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050.Musk added: "One thing to track is the ratio of adult diapers to baby diapers. What point does the country have more adult diapers and baby diapers?" He said sales of adult diapers in Japan have outpaced those for babies since 2011.Musk has long shared his concerns about a declining birthrate. The SpaceX CEO wants to put humans in a settlement on Mars. He previously said on a podcast that SpaceX will put humans on the planet with its Starship rockets in five to 10 years.However, he claimed there would not be enough people to move to Mars if the demographic crisis continued.In this week's podcast, Musk says civilization will die with a whimper and adult diapers: "That kind of sucks doesn't it, it's like anticlimactic. Frankly, if given the choice, I'd rather civilization went out with a bang than a whimper and adult diapers."In July, Insider reported that the tech mogul had twins last November with one of his top executives at Neuralink, Shivon Zilis, according to court documents.Musk is worth about $264 billion, per Forbes. He has four companies: the electric-vehicle maker Tesla, the spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX, the tunnel-construction startup The Boring Company, and the brain-machine-interface implant company Neuralink. You can view Musk's family tree here.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 6th, 2022

The Fentanyl Crisis: Brought To You By Drug Prohibition

The Fentanyl Crisis: Brought To You By Drug Prohibition Authored by Brian McGlinchey via Stark Realities As drug overdoses continue rising in the United States, one drug has emerged as the most notorious killer of our day: fentanyl. Unfortunately, those clamoring loudest about fentanyl’s death toll support policies that actually bolster its position in the illicit drug trade. First approved for U.S. medical use in 1968, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to counter severe pain after surgery, and chronic severe pain. Though similar to morphine or heroin, it’s 50 to 100 times more potent. Most of the fentanyl circulating on the streets doesn’t come from pharmaceutical companies. According to the DEA, black market fentanyl is “primarily manufactured in foreign clandestine labs and smuggled into the United States through Mexico.” China is a major source of its chemical ingredients and some finished product too. As with other black-market knock-offs, the inconsistency of illicit fentanyl makes it more dangerous. Worse, it’s often laced into other drugs, including cocaine, heroin, marijuana and counterfeit pills disguised as pharmaceutical-grade Oxycontin, Xanax, and Adderall. Though its effect varies by a user’s size and tolerance, ingesting just 2 milligrams can be fatal. That fact lends itself to jolting descriptions of fentanyl’s lethality by public officials, pundits and click-chasing media. A recent Fox News headline is just one of countless examples of fentanyl sensationalism: “Colorado State Patrol seizes enough fentanyl to kill 25 million people.” When you consider that, in 2021, there were 108,000 overdose deaths from all drugs in the entire country, you can see where headlines and rhetoric centered on such calculations aren’t meant to enlighten an audience so much as to shock it. American discourse about fentanyl is further warped by politicians and sloppy journalists who promulgate urban legends about cops and bystanders dying from merely touching fentanyl powder. For example, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently asked Fox’s Sean Hannity if he’d heard about “a young woman who picked up a dollar bill sitting on the floor of a McDonald’s and fell down” because fentanyl was supposedly on it. “That’s how deadly it is.” Like many similar tales, this one proved false. Fentanyl can be plenty deadly, but not that way. Over-the-top fentanyl scaremongering isn’t just about attracting an audience. For some—like McCarthy—it’s an opportunistic means of advancing a goal of reducing illegal immigration via tightened border security. Setting immigration policy aside and keeping our focus here on fentanyl, we now come to an essential truth that’s little-known either inside or outside of government: The more you intensify drug interdiction along the border and elsewhere, the more you elevate fentanyl as the drug trade’s import of choice. Blame it on the “Iron Law of Prohibition.” First put forth by Richard Cowan in 1986, the Iron Law of Prohibition states: “As law enforcement becomes more intense, the potency of prohibited substances increases.” To appreciate the dynamic, let’s look back to America’s experiment with alcohol prohibition, with some help from the Cato Institute’s Trevor Burrus: “Smugglers and bootleggers preferred high‐​potency spirits because they are easier to transport illicitly. Consequently, distilled alcohol and fortified wines became almost 90% of alcohol consumption after Prohibition, compared to 40% before…During alcohol Prohibition, speakeasies were essentially bars that only served Everclear.” Now think about it from a drug trafficker’s perspective: Would you rather try smuggling 10 pounds of fentanyl, a thousand pounds of heroin or a truckload of pot? Infographic via Filter The stark reality is that enforcement of drug laws isn’t the answer to the fentanyl crisis—it’s the very reason we have a fentanyl crisis. That crisis is also driven by regulatory crackdowns on prescription opiates, which drive both addicts and those with legitimate needs away from pills of uniform quality and dosage and into the dicey, deadly realm of black market alternatives. Consider this: In 2011, oxycodone topped the overdose death charts, with 5,587 fatalities. That led the government to impose new policies to frighten doctors away from prescribing opioids. By 2016, fentanyl was the new top killer, and it was associated with 18,335 deaths — more than triple the 2011 oxycodone tally. You can build a coast-to-coast border wall that extends 200 feet above and below ground, and fentanyl will keep flowing into the country via other avenues — as it does already to lesser degrees. The more difficult you make it to move fentanyl, the higher its price goes, inviting new entrants into the black market, and incentivizing the adoption of innovative and more elaborate ways of meeting America’s perpetual demand for intoxicants. At some point, it could even incentivize cartels to move production inside U.S. borders. Those wouldn’t be the only outcomes. If drug warriors and border hawks somehow manage to make it far more difficult to move fentanyl, fentanyl will likely be dethroned by something worse. Indeed, earlier this year, an even more dangerous synthetic opioid started making its own grim headlines — it’s called isotonitazene, or ISO, and it’s reportedly 20 times stronger than fentanyl. The Iron Law of Prohibition strikes again. Prohibition hasn’t just made drugs more dangerous. Just as alcohol prohibition did, drug prohibition also fosters violence among black market operators. When’s the last time you heard of a gunfight breaking out between rival alcohol distributors? Prohibition also invites many hideous forms of authoritarian excess, to include frequently-fruitless dismantling of vehicles, body cavity searches, and even coerced colonoscopies that come up empty. In short, drug prohibition’s harmful results far exceed its beneficial ones. Meanwhile, drugs are as readily obtainable today as they were when Richard Nixon declared a federal war on drugs a half-century ago. So what are we to do? Though it’s contrary to intuition and a shock to many people’s sensibilities, the proper response to the fentanyl crisis and other collateral damage of the war on drugs is clear: across-the-board drug legalization. That isn’t an endorsement of drug abuse any more than legalized alcohol endorses alcohol abuse — which, it should be noted, has a death toll that rivals if not exceeds that of drug abuse. Rather, full legalization of both production and possession is the logical position for those who understand that policies must be judged not by their intentions, but by their results. Stark Realities undermines official narratives, demolishes conventional wisdom and exposes fundamental myths across the political spectrum. Read more and subscribe at starkrealities.substack.com Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeAug 5th, 2022

Illegal Immigration Leading To Major Drug Problems Inside America: Lt. Gen. Flynn

Illegal Immigration Leading To Major Drug Problems Inside America: Lt. Gen. Flynn Authored by Zachary Steiber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The flood of illegal immigrants that have entered the United States in the past several decades has contributed to the rise in drugs and drug addiction inside the country, former national security adviser and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn says. “We have a domestic problem that is fueled by large, large numbers of deadly drugs and large amounts of money,” Flynn said on EpochTV’s “Facts Matter” program. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in an interview with EpochTV. (The Epoch Times) The illegal immigration crisis has reached unprecedented levels under President Joe Biden, with the United States setting new records for illegal alien arrests at the U.S.–Mexico border for both a calendar year and a fiscal year. But the problem goes back 25 years, and has spanned administrations of both parties, said Flynn, who was the national security adviser under President Donald Trump. If even just 10 percent of the illegal immigrants are criminals, that means a force that’s larger than the entire U.S. Marine Corps has illegally entered the country in recent years, Flynn said. Criminal Cartels The criminals, often part of cartels, often go to cities and ply drugs, which has deepened the addiction problems there. “They get organized, and they get brought into the cities, they get brought into the urban areas, and they get some money into their pockets, and they’re in there, and they get some orders to get out there and sort of flood the zone with drugs,” Flynn said. “They’re killing this country with the likes of fentanyl, and opioids and heroin. And they’re getting away with it.” While some convicted criminals are deported, others are being allowed to remain in the United States under orders from top Biden administration officials, who have asserted that there is not enough manpower to deport all illegal immigrants that are convicted of additional crimes in addition to entering or remaining illegally. Speaking in Florida, Flynn said he backed some of the moves Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has made, but decried the busing of illegal immigrants from Texas and Arizona to Washington as a “publicity stunt” that is being cheered by the cartels. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey have been footing the bill for the buses, which has been described as putting pressure on Biden by sending illegal aliens to the city in which he lives. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser recently requested National Guard assistance due to the influx. In any case, the illegal immigration and drug issues require action at the federal, state, and local levels, according to Flynn. Read more here... Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

Real Growth Depends on Innovation, Not Intervention

For weekend reading, Gary Alexander, senior writer at Navellier & Associates, offers the following commentary: We got the bad news last week. Real U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter decreased at an annual rate of 0.9 percent, according to the first (“advance”) estimate by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). After an official […] For weekend reading, Gary Alexander, senior writer at Navellier & Associates, offers the following commentary: We got the bad news last week. Real U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter decreased at an annual rate of 0.9 percent, according to the first (“advance”) estimate by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). After an official -1.6 percent decline in the first quarter, that means we MAY be officially in a recession, if the second-quarter figure holds up in the next two releases. (The second estimate will be released on August 25, while the third and final release will arrive in late September.) if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Charlie Munger in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   This first-half decline is a shocker since it follows a 5.7% real increase in 2021 – the best calendar year since 1984. The good news – if you can call it that – is that “current-dollar” (or nominal) GDP rose 7.8 percent, or $465 billion, to a nearly $25 trillion annual rate, due entirely to inflation. That is noticeably faster than the 6.6 percent nominal growth rate of the first quarter. Now, if we can just get inflation down in the second half while maintaining that peppy nominal growth rate, then real growth will return. Our main global competitor is doing no better. On the same day our GDP came out, China acknowledged it would miss its annual growth target of +5.5% – by a mile. China’s Politburo said Thursday that their lowest GDP target in decades was an opium pipe dream since second-quarter growth was just +0.4%. With China, the main GDP drag seems to be their draconian COVID lockdowns in several major cities. (They apparently closed down businesses serving one million people in Wuhan due to four cases without symptoms.) With the U.S. and Europe, the main culprit seems to be extreme Green policies, resembling a cult. The Biden Administration’s drive toward solar and wind, and the push toward 50% electric cars by 2030, has fueled (pardon the puns) a purposeful policy to drive up the price of gasoline to make electric cars, plus solar and wind, more attractive. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said as much when he told a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, “The more pain we are all experiencing from the high price of gas, the more benefit there is for those who can access electric vehicles.” Gee, thanks! There is no free lunch with electric cars. The batteries alone require deep mining damage to planet earth, and the electric grid is in danger of overloading and shortages. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation recently warned that two-thirds of the U.S. could experience blackouts this summer. With wind and solar, we all know the limits: The sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow. Due to the current heat wave, Texas grid operators told residents not to use major appliances to avoid rolling blackouts and some grid operators are keeping coal-fired plants scheduled to be shut down on tap. The same thing is happening in Europe. Germany has had to resort to burning oil and coal because its trillion-dollar investment in wind and solar can’t make up for the loss of Russia’s natural gas. There was also an electrical power crisis in Australia last month (their winter) due to too many coal plant closures. Innovation - Not Intervention - Is the Solution Fossil fuels were once the “clean” solution to the horse manure that littered our city streets and rural highways. Dead dinosaur bones were also the ecological salvation for killing whales for their oil. John D. Rockefeller “saved the whales” when he developed very low-cost kerosene for middle-class families. Innovation and the demands of the market provide a better solution than forcing some dictator’s idea of a more elegant solution down our collective throats. At Freedom Fest, one of my roles is “senior judge” (in both age and time served) at Anthem Film Festival. I recently commented on three films on lockdowns here (July 12). Two other featured films are relevant to innovation and the risks to our electrical grid. America has been the world’s premier innovator for over two centuries, since our establishment of patents in 1641 (and officially in 1792) and copyrights in 1790, allowing inventors to own the fruits of their creativity. But our hold on innovation is fading fast due to outright theft from China and weak protection by U.S. courts, according to “Innovation Race,” a film by director/writers Luke and Jo Anne Livingston. I was in 7th grade when Russia launched Sputnik, and our science and math classes went into overdrive since it was the first time our adversaries beat us in technology, so my “rocket scientist” dad and other engineers put a man on the moon less than 12 years later, and America got back on top in technology. Just think of companies founded by Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Dell, Larry Page, and Sergei Brin. Even those born overseas (Musk and Brin) came to America for patent protection. Along came Japan, who mainly copied U.S. technology, then improved it (think cars or cameras), and then came China, which so far has stolen U.S. technology or forced deals whereby U.S. companies may not operate within China unless we share our unique technology so that China can “reverse engineer” it. China steals about $600 billion per year of U.S. technology, according to our Department of Justice. In his recent memoir, former Attorney General Bill Barr wrote, “In recent years, about 80 percent of all federal economic espionage prosecutions have alleged conduct that would benefit the Chinese state.” Now, China has stepped up its game by copying our patent system and surpassing America in new patent production, while at home big tech companies are front-running new ideas by small inventors, to the point that the Patent Office has become a “patent death squad,” whereby big money crowds out small inventors. That’s why we’re now losing the “Innovation Race,” says this film, and we need to get back in that race. “Grid Down, Power Up” (a film by David Tice) frankly scares me, since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has said that a terrorist attack on just nine substations could plunge the U.S. into a nationwide blackout for 18 months. Since electricity runs our life – including access to food, water, heat, cooling, and medicine – it is credibly estimated that over 80% of us could perish within those 18 months. Congress has ignored calls for grid expansion and security. Even without a terrorist act or natural event (a sunburst or electromagnetic pulse, EMP), we are stretching our existing grid to the breaking point, even before pushing the world toward 100% electric automobiles. Our devices, even bitcoins, gobble up huge amounts of juice, as do air conditioning in summer and heating in winter for our much larger homes. I’m not sure what the solution is, but I’m sure that by rewarding innovators we will find a solution. Here are three outliers that need funding. I can’t vouch for any one of them, but VC’s usually find the winners. Solar satellite power. My friend and former neighbor, the late engineer Ralph Nansen, wrote “Sun Power,” about harnessing the sun’s energy from satellites rather than solar panels on earth. Huge satellite panels can relay solar power to earth 24/7, no matter cloud cover, for as long as the sun lives. Green hydrogen is produced from water and burns very clean. It may be an alternative to natural gas. Small nuclear engines or power stations could provide clean electricity or back-up wind or solar. There are probably far more solutions under development that we haven’t heard about, but developing these sorts of solutions is expensive. That’s where venture capital and patent protection come in. Beyond that cost, we need the government to get out of the business of picking winners by funding bad ideas. Doing economic damage in the name of fighting climate change is hurting our search for the best solutions. Updated on Aug 5, 2022, 5:34 pm.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkAug 5th, 2022

Supply Chain Problems Will Persist Because The System Is Being Sabotaged

Supply Chain Problems Will Persist Because The System Is Being Sabotaged Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, In a recent interview with Bloomberg, the executive vice president of UPS asserted that “regionalization” of the supply chain is critical to economic stability as geopolitcal conflicts expand. The word “regionalization” is basically a code word to describe decentralization, a concept which the UPS representative obviously did not want to dive into directly. Almost every trade expert and industry insider is admitting that supply chain problems are going to persist into the foreseeable future, and some are starting to also admit (in a roundabout way) that localized production and trade models are the key to survival. This is something that I and many other alternative economists have been talking about for a decade or more. The globalist dynamic of interdependency is a disaster waiting to happen, and now it’s happening. Without decentralized mining of raw materials, local manufacturing, locally sourced goods, local food production and locally integrated trade networks there can be no true stability. All it takes for the system to implode is one or two crisis events and the economy’s ability to meet public demand stagnates. The system doesn’t completely stop, but it does slowly shrivel and degrade. The war in Ukraine has been the go-to scapegoat the past few months for supply chain disruptions, but these issues started long before that. Years of central bank stimulus and fiat money creation have triggered the inevitable landslide of inflation/stagflation that alternative economists have been warning about. Price inflation is a direct contributor to production declines and supply chain disruptions because costs continually rise for manufacturers. Also, wages of workers cannot keep up with rising prices, inspiring many employees to quit and look for work elsewhere, or attempt to live off of government welfare. All of this leads to less supply, or slower production and thus, even higher prices. We were right, the mainstream media was wrong (or they lied). New York Times contributor Paul Krugman claimed that “no one saw this coming” when he was recently forced to admit that he was wrong on inflation. This is the same thing MSM economists said after the credit crash of 2008. It was a lie back then and it’s a lie now. Plenty of people saw it coming; we’ve been repeating our warnings for years, but they didn’t want to listen or they did not want us to be heard. Krugman is perhaps the worst and most arrogant economist/propagandist in the US, and though he belatedly acknowledged the inflation and supply chain threat after arguing for the past two years that it was “transitory,” he now claims that the traditionally accepted indicators of recession “don’t matter” anymore and that there is no downturn. How many times can this guy be proven ignorant and still keep his job? It’s this kind of disinformation that keeps the public in the dark on what is about to happen. Maybe it’s because of stupidity and ego, or maybe it’s a deliberate attempt to keep the population docile (I say it is deliberate), but in either case the American people are being put in great danger when it comes to the false narrative on inflation and the supply chain. The longer they are led to believe the disaster will simply go away on its own, the less time they have to prepare. The bottom line is this: Things are only going to get worse from here on. Maybe slowly, or maybe quickly depending on a handful of factors. Most of the world right now is focused on Taiwan and China’s persistent threats to invade. Nancy Pelosi’s widely publicized plan to visit the island nation (yes, CCP, it is a nation) is a bizarre act of non-discretion that is clearly meant to instigate wider tensions between the US and China. Why would Pelosi do this now? Well, she’s not doing it on her own and it’s certainly not the dementia addled Joe Biden’s idea. There are clearly other hands and other interests involved. The US sources around 20% of its retail goods from China as well as a large portion of it’s medical supplies. More concerning though is China’s near monopoly on Rare Earth metals which are integral to numerous electronic components. Furthermore, there is a pinnacle threat, which is China dumping trillions in US treasuries and dollar holding and virtually ending the dollar’s world reserve status. This is not to say China is in a great position financially – They are on the verge of debt crisis as well, which indicates to me that they will indeed invade Taiwan (and possibly other regions) as a means to expand their borders and consolidate resources. With billions of people to feed and control, the temptation for the CCP to seek military conquest is high. If they do, it will be soon – within the next couple of months when the weather in the Taiwan Strait is optimal for naval operations. The supply chain crisis is going to accelerate into winter as stagflation persists. Price inflation will remain high. The US is indeed officially in a recession today. Two consecutive negative GDP prints IS a recession, this is a fact that no one can change, including Joe Biden, Paul Krugman or Wikipedia. Reality does not answer to these people. The system is breaking, and certain people greatly benefit. A regional conflict with China on top of the Ukraine war could be the perfect smokescreen for a financial and supply chain collapse that was going to happen anyway. But when the mainstream media talks about the triggers and culprits, they’ll never mention central banks and political corruption, they will only talk about Russia and China. As I have noted in the past, the “Great Reset” agenda of the WEF, IMF, the BIS and other globalist organizations requires an extensive destabilization of the existing order. In other words, they need a controlled demolition of certain pillars of the economy. To frighten the public into accepting new collectivist and authoritarian models like the “Shared Economy” (where you will own nothing and like it), they will need a large and semi-chaotic disaster. People would have to be threatened with the loss of supply certainty and they would have to be unsure every day of where they will be able to get the necessities they need when they need them. This level of uncertainty drives calls for solutions, and the globalists will be there to offer their pre-planned objectives and “save the day.” Generally, inflation and shortages lead to price controls, government rationing, government “aid” with strings attached (Universal Basic Income), and eventually nationalization of all production as well as the attempted confiscation of supplies from people that prepared ahead of time. Redistribution will be the name of the game. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but soon enough. The limited corporate calls for “regionalization” are too little too late, just as the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes are too little too late. They all know it, and they don’t care. These actions are only designed to make it appear as if they tried to save the system so they have deniability of their involvement in the crisis. Stagflation and supply chain shortages are going to become the all encompassing issues of our era. They will be terms that are spoken about daily at every dinner table in America and probably through most of the world. These are dangers that were predicted extensively by the liberty media well ahead of time. They are NOT a surprise. And, there are plenty of institutions, corporate and government, that could have done something about them, but they chose not to. It’s important for people to accept the fact that this crisis is not a product of stupidity; it is a product of malicious motives and intent. *  *  * With global tensions spiking, thousands of Americans are moving their IRA or 401(k) into an IRA backed by physical gold. Now, thanks to a little-known IRS Tax Law, you can too. Learn how with a free info kit on gold from Birch Gold Group. It reveals how physical precious metals can protect your savings, and how to open a Gold IRA. Click here to get your free Info Kit on Gold. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

Mystery wreckage in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines is probably fallen Chinese rocket parts, space-debris experts say

China's rocket booster fell to Earth uncontrolled, and new photos convinced space-debris experts that it rained rocket parts across Southeast Asia. Debris suspected to be from a Chinese rocket booster in Sepupok, Malaysia.Malaysia News Agency Photos from Borneo and the Philippines appear to show large fragments of space junk that fell to Earth. Space-debris experts say the mystery objects are parts of China's Long March 5B rocket. The rocket's booster fell back to Earth uncontrolled on Saturday, raining parts over Southeast Asia. Mysterious large pieces of wreckage were discovered across Southeast Asia over the weekend, and evidence is growing that they came from a Chinese rocket booster that fell to Earth uncontrolled.The booster of China's 25-ton Long March 5B rocket pushed a new segment of the country's space station into orbit in late July. Then, instead of pushing itself into the Pacific Ocean — a standard practice called controlled reentry — the booster entered Earth's orbit and slowly lost altitude over the course of a week, ensuring that it would fall randomly in an unpredictable location.On Saturday, the booster succumbed to gravity and fell to Earth, breaking apart in the atmosphere. Soon photos of scattered objects that appear to be parts of the rocket emerged from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines — along the path of the booster's uncontrolled fall.Two people in hazmat suits test for radioactivity on an object believed to be part of the Long March 5B rocket booster, in Sarawak, Malaysia.Malaysia News AgencyOnly China can officially confirm that those pieces belong to its rocket booster, but orbital-debris experts say they have no doubt that the mystery objects are chunks of Long March 5B."They sure look like rocket parts to me," Ted Muelhaupt, a consultant for the Aerospace Corporation's Chief Engineer's Office, told Insider, adding, "I've got no reason to dispute that it's pieces of this rocket."There's a roughly 10% chance that debris will hit one or more people within a decade, according to a study published in the journal Nature in July.Even if they don't strike anybody, pieces of spacecraft that have fallen through the atmosphere are dangerous to approach because rocket fuel can linger on them.Photos suggest the booster disintegrated piece by piece as it fellA mysterious metal object discovered in Balaikarangan, Indonesia, in a screenshot from local news reports, on July 31, 2022.Malaysia News AgencyIn the village of Pengadang, near Balaikarangan, on the Indonesian side of the island of Borneo, locals discovered a large rounded object resembling the Chinese rocket's core stage. The image above comes from Borneo News Network footage."There's a picture of the big piece at the end of the fuel tank sitting on a field that's very convincing. It's the right diameter. It looks like a piece that sort of survived reentry — and is right on the path of the reentry," Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and avid tracker of objects in Earth's orbit, told Insider.A map shows the Long March 5B booster's descent path (orange line) passing over Balaikarangan, where mysterious debris was discovered.Jonathan McDowellMuelhaupt agreed that object looks like the dome of a fuel tank.Two smaller pieces of debris were discovered in the small towns of Batu Niah and Sepupok in Sarawak, on the Malaysian side of Borneo, according to the Borneo News Network and The Star, a Malaysian news outlet.A map shows the Long March 5B booster's descent path (orange line) passing over Batu Niah, where more mysterious debris was discovered.Jonathan McDowellPhotos show "a little piece of metal dug in the ground, which may well be a bit of the rocket, but it's just too hard to tell," McDowell said.The rocket's launch dropped debris, tooThe Long March 5B rocket, rolling to the launchpad in July, has the same flag and space-agency symbol that photos of debris in the Philippines, circulated on the social media platform Weibo, claim to show.CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty ImagesImages circulated on China's social media platform Weibo claimed to show pieces of the rocket's fairing, which falls away during launch, in the Philippines' Mindoro Strait. The photos, which Insider has not independently verified, show people pulling panels from the water marked with the same Chinese flag and blue space-agency symbol that are on the rocket fairing.On Wednesday, the Philippine Space Agency released a statement saying the torn metal sheet found by fisherman off the coast of Mamburao was part of the rocket's fairing. The agency also said that parts of the falling booster may have dropped off the coast, in the Sulu Sea.McDowell and Muelhaupt also said they believe these images show parts of the rocket fairing, dropped during launch.Fire department workers examine debris suspected to be from a Chinese booster rocket in Sepupok, Malaysia.Malaysia News AgencyThen, when the rocket's booster fell from space, its descent path carried it right over the Mindoro Strait."This means we've been hit twice by debris from this launch: at the beginning, and at the end of the rocket's flight," Jay Batongbacal, a professor at the University of the Philippines Institute for the Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea, told Philippine news outlet the Inquirer. "This shows that the risk is higher for us, because we are under the flight path of most Chinese rocket launches," he said.However, no government agency has reported debris from the uncontrolled fall in the Philippines.This is the third time China has launched a Long March 5B rocket and allowed its body to fall to Earth uncontrolled. In May 2021, pieces of another Long March 5B landed in the Indian Ocean. And in May of 2020, another launch ended in an uncontrolled fall that dumped debris near two villages in Ivory Coast, leading to reports of property damage.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

"It Only Hurts When I Laugh"

"It Only Hurts When I Laugh" By Michael Every of Rabobank It only hurts when I laugh Minister: Good morning. I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, but I'm afraid my walk has become rather sillier recently, and so it takes me rather longer to get to work. Now then, what was it again? Mr. Pudey: Well sir, I have a silly walk and I'd like to obtain a government grant to help me develop it. Minister: I see. May I see your silly walk? Mr. Pudey: Yes, certainly, yes. (He gets up and does a few steps, lifting the bottom part of his left leg sharply at every alternate pace. He stops.) Minister: That's it, is it? Mr. Pudey: Yes, that's it, yes. Minister: It's not particularly silly, is it? I mean, the right leg isn't silly at all, and the left leg merely does a forward aerial half turn every alternate step. Mr. Pudey: Yes, but I think that with government backing I could make it very silly. ----------------- It’s another payrolls Friday. This time, can a weak print provide more ‘pivot-fuel’ for a market already so drunk on it that it won’t heed the Fed saying “WRONG!” over and over – as they just did yet again yesterday? Conversely, will a strong payrolls number sober the market up? We have to wait for the usual silly game of guessing a silly number and the sillier market reaction. Meanwhile, government ministries are busily pushing out silly policies. Picking an example would be like shooting fish in a barrel, but closing down nuclear power plants in an energy crisis is very high on the list. Central banks are pursuing silly monetary policy in the eyes of markets, where yield curves continue to invert and bond yields fall (even at the short end!) even as official interest rates rise. For example, as the Bank of England hiked rates 50bps to 1.75%, the most in 27 years, 2-year gilt yields fells from 1.91% to 1.84%, with future hikes being priced out and cuts being priced in, while the 10-year yield slipped 3bps to 1.88%. GBP fell against its peers. The silliness also extends right across the commercial world. Warner Brothers just made a $70m ‘Batgirl’ film so bad they are opting to can it rather than put it up in any format on any streaming platform – which really says something given the pile of drivel on most of them. They also say they are going to drop the ‘spend, spend, spend’ streaming model though, which is actually very sensible. Why is this silliness happening? Not from any love of comedy. In a recent interview, ex-Python John Cleese --still no dead parrot at 82-- underlined the specific truism that, “In Hollywood, nobody knows anything… but they all laugh as if they do.” Relatedly, he recalls that back in the 60’s, almost all of the top BBC executives tried to cancel his legendary comedy show after just a few episodes because they didn’t get it. More broadly, he stressed such managers (rather than those with experience of doing or creating) are now in charge all over the place. Indeed, in his experience, 90% of people in most professions don’t know what they are doing. Worse, 90% of those who don’t know what they are doing don’t know that they don’t know what they are doing, “which makes them the most dangerous and destructive”. And inadvertently funny – because if you don’t laugh then you cry. One would like to think there are exceptions for surgeons, pilots, etc., but Cleese suggests this is not the case. He said that in a lifetime of deliberately asking people of different backgrounds to honestly tell him how many of their industry participants actually know what they are doing, the highest share he has ever been given was 15%(!) He didn’t say which industry that was for. Are politicians, economists, or central bankers exceptions? Don’t make me laugh! Next British PM Liz Truss wants to put the BOE under review (like the RBA already is), perhaps threatening their independence, on allusions to Japan’s ultra-low rates policy - as if somehow that is applicable to a UK with traditional current-account deficits, rather than surpluses. Presumably slashing taxes and red tape needs to be matched by slashing rates, and growth will magically take care of itself. Let’s see how GBP magically takes care of itself if that comes to pass. Of course, the BOE have made themselves few friends with their honesty about the staggering scale of the economic downturn and inflation upturn ahead - which they utterly failed to see coming. As Stefan Koopman notes in his review of the ‘Nightmare on Threadneedle Street’, the Bank just warned of the longest recession since the GFC, with a five-quarter downturn and cumulative GDP growth of -1.7% in the next three years. It also forecasts UK inflation to hit the highest in 42 years ahead at over 13%, and to still be around 10% a year from now. Worse, there will be a leap in unemployment from 3.7% to 6.3%, and the largest decline in real household income growth on record. Underlying this grim set of forecasts is a dark view on the UK’s structural rate of growth; a consequence of subpar investment and weak productivity growth, which makes the economy highly sensitive to shocks. By contrast, the Fed says there is no US recession ahead, even as the US yield curve screams there will be one --what a good one-liner that is-- and the White House and Paul Krugman dispute what recession actually means, taking us into more surreal comedy. The ECB says the same about recession, even as EU wholesale electricity prices rise to industry-crushing levels, and Russia makes clear “sanctions and non-compliance with current contractual obligations on the part of Siemens make it impossible” to restart normal NordStream 1 gas flows again: resulting runs on diesel and heating oil are already being reported in Germany. Pure black comedy. The RBA argues that while there is only a “narrow path” to avoid recession, GDP growth will remain strong, the labour market is red hot, inflation will peak soon and come down by itself, unemployment will hardly rise at all, and the wobbling housing market won’t be hit by higher rates because some households have large buffers. Yes, they are called households without mortgages. How one can argue that stops people with large mortgages from being pressured requires very silly random econometric walks. Presumably today’s Statement on Monetary Policy will have more such gems. The PBOC aren’t saying anything much, as 1,666 Chinese property developers had missed commercial paper payments at least three times in the last six months as of June, up from 135 in January, and talk is still of when the mega-bailout happens, the cost of which will end up on its balance sheet. Recall when everyone solemnly said this was all about Evergrande, and was “contained”, and/or that the US had debt and asset-bubble problems, but China didn’t? It was ironic, and you didn’t get it at the time. There are now lots of sensible financial media pointing to a deep ‘lack of Truss’ in central banks. Rightly so. However, they still aren’t getting the punchline about where this all goes next – it surely isn’t back to ‘2%-CPI targeting independence’. As such, many people with silly skill sets will need to learn to walk new walks. And don’t delude yourself that current markets are any kind of exception from Cleese’s 10% ratio. After all: Financial conditions continue to ease even as base rates rise, and the more they ease, the more rates will have to rise. US mortgage rates are now back to around 5% when they were recently at 6%, putting more juice back into the system. Is that another 100bps the Fed has to go? Despite Saudi Arabia raising oil prices for Asia steeply, US WTI prices just tested below $90. Is it US demand destruction, or claims that its gasoline usage is now lower than in 2020 under lockdown that is most questionable? A wider basket of commodities are also far off their recent highs even as there has been only marginal improvement in most fundamental supply-demand, and none in related geopolitics. That would make sense if the Fed’s aggressive rate actions were pushing commodity-backed ‘new world orders’ off the stage, as I have argued they will have to try to do – but financial conditions are easing, not tightening. Then again, ‘Copper Worth Nearly Half a Billion Dollars Goes Missing in Qinhuangdao, China’ says Bloomberg, pointing to why the idea of holding raw commodities over the greenback as a ‘safe haven/reserve’ leaves others laughing longest. Yet stocks are trying to snigger at central-bank actions and/or looming recessions, “because markets”. And, as a colleague related to me this week, perhaps because so many funds are so far in the red that they have nothing to lose in going all in on leveraged longs, hoping hopium acts like helium. Actually, all it will do is make their voices sound high, squeaky, and silly. Even the US market mega straight man is getting into crypto just as everyone else sees what a silly joke it was all along and new regulation looms. Cleese also stressed something else important: the 10% rule does not apply to comedy, because you cannot fake being funny. You either are or you aren’t. Neither can you repress a laugh when something is funny, even when it ‘shouldn’t’ be. That’s why the role of the fool as truth-teller in medieval courts was so important, and why authoritarians are renowned for their lack of a sense of humor – the levelling nature of comedy is always deeply iconoclastic and revealing.   Markets used to have that function. However, now *they* are the dangerously destructive bad comedy. On that note, I will leave you to wait for US payrolls and all its related silliness – Happy Friday! Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 08:21.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

Jim Cramer Says Fed Pivot Means Buy Stocks?

Jim Cramer Says Fed Pivot Means Buy Stocks? Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com, Jim Cramer recently stated it will be time to buy stocks when the Fed pivots. “When the Fed gets out of the way, you have a real window and you’ve got to jump through it. … When a recession comes, the Fed has the good sense to stop raising rates,” the “Mad Money” host said. “And that pause means you’ve got to buy stocks.” Of course, such sentiment is not surprising given that over the last decade, investors have repeatedly been beaten into submission to buy stocks when the Federal Reserve is easing monetary policy. Such was a point we discussed in “Pavlov’s Dogs & The Ringing Of The Bell:” “Classical conditioning (also known as Pavlovian or respondent conditioning) refers to a learning procedure in which a potent stimulus (e.g. food) is paired with a previously neutral stimulus (e.g. a bell). Pavlov discovered that when the neutral stimulus was introduced, the dogs would begin to salivate in anticipation of the potent stimulus, even though it was not currently present. This learning process results from the psychological “pairing” of the stimuli.” Ringing The Bell Pavlov’s experiment is an excellent example of “classical conditioning” concerning investing. In 2010, then Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke introduced the “neutral stimulus” to the financial markets by adding a “third mandate” to the Fed’s responsibilities – the creation of the “wealth effect.” “This approach eased financial conditions in the past and, so far, looks to be effective again. Stock prices rose, and long-term interest rates fell when investors began to anticipate this additional action. Easier financial conditions will promote economic growth. For example, lower mortgage rates will make housing more affordable and allow more homeowners to refinance. Lower corporate bond rates will encourage investment. And higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending. Increased spending will lead to higher incomes and profits that, in a virtuous circle, will further support economic expansion.” – Ben Bernanke, Washington Post Op-Ed, November, 2010. Importantly, for conditioning to work, the “neutral stimulus,” when introduced, must be followed by the “potent stimulus” for the “pairing” to be completed. For investors, each round of “Quantitative Easing” introduced the “neutral stimulus,” the stock market rose, the “potent stimulus.”  Given the weight of the evidence from the past decade of market performance, it makes sense that stocks should perform better if the Fed “pivots” from monetary tightening. Here is the problem with Jim Cramer’s statement. It is incorrect. Fed Pivots & Recessions Since 2009, the market and economy have responded negatively whenever the Fed moves away from monetary easing. Such is not just a domestic issue, as the ECB, PBOC, and the BOJ have engaged in similar monetary accommodation programs. The last time the Fed began hiking rates and reducing its balance sheet was in 2018. The Fed reversed course just a couple of months later and 20% lower in the financial markets. Then, in 2020, the Fed massively infused markets with liquidity as the economic shutdown rocked the financial markets. It would seem Jim Cramer is correct that when the Fed pivots, such is the time to buy stocks. Unfortunately, it isn’t as evident as it seems when looking back through time. As shown below, since the 1960s, the Fed has repeatedly hiked interest rates to combat inflation. Notably, the stock market continues to perform when the Fed is lifting interest rates. Each time, that increase in the stock market, as the Fed was hiking rates, led investors to believe that this time was different. However, the Fed paused or pivoted from monetary accommodation as an economic recession or crisis was realized. Lagging Data Such is the case because the Federal Reserve is operating on lagging data such as inflation and employment to dictate monetary policy changes. Since it takes 6-9 months for changes to interest rates to work their way through the system, it is too late when the data reflects a policy error. The following chart of the unemployment rate, recessions, and the Fed funds effective rate shows the problem. Currently, the Fed is hiking rates as unemployment remains very low. However, the unemployment rate historically sharply reverses upon the realization of an economic recession as the Fed slashes rates. While it may seem logical to “buy stocks” when the Fed makes its initial pivot, history suggests such a call is often an early event. Given the Fed changes direction once it realizes it has made a policy error, the market is generally in the midst of a bear market. There is another problem with Cramer’s “buy the pivot” call. Given inflation presents a new dynamic not witnessed in 40 years, such suggests the Fed likely won’t pivot anytime soon. The Fed Likely Won’t Pivot Any Time Soon. The Federal Reserve’s sole focus is to bring inflation down to its 2% target rate. Given that inflation is currently running near 9%, the Fed has a lot of work to do. As St. Louis Fed President James Bullard stated this week: “I think we’ll probably have to be higher for longer in order to get the evidence that we need to see that inflation is actually turning around on all dimensions and in a convincing way coming lower, not just a tick lower here and there.”  There is a lot in that statement. As noted above, as the Fed further tightens monetary policy, such will slow economic and earnings growth. Such will make valuations harder to justify at current levels. Secondly, the market and credit spreads give the Federal Reserve plenty of room to operate.As we noted previously,when it comes to the financial markets, the Fed’s primary focus is “financial stability.” Currently, there are NO signs of financial stress, much less instability. From the Federal Reserve’s perspective, despite the decline in asset markets in 2022, investors are still 23% higher than at the market’s peak in 2022. Absent a disorderly meltdown; the Fed will remain focused on stocks being still above their pre-crisis peak. As BofA notes: “Since in a typical consumption model, households react to sustained changes in prices over a period of three years or so, the Fed is convinced the wealth effect is still positive.” Secondly, while credit spreads have risen, they are still well controlled, suggesting that financial stress in the credit markets remains low. While Jim Cramer, and most investors, are salivating at the idea of a Fed pivot, with little stress in the credit market, the Fed can remain focused on combating inflation. However, make no mistake, as the Fed continues to hike rates, there is an increasing risk that “orderly” markets rapidly become “disorderly. “ Will the Fed “pause” their rate hikes? That answer is “yes.” The only questions are “when will it happen,” and “how fast will the Fed have to reverse course?” What is clear is that the time to buy stocks is not when the Fed pauses but when the Fed funds rate returns to the zero bound. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 08:56.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 5th, 2022

The Climate Cult Is Eager To Take Advantage Of Europe"s Energy Crisis

The Climate Cult Is Eager To Take Advantage Of Europe's Energy Crisis The climate cult never sleeps, and when they see a nations in crisis they are always quick to try to exploit the situation by misrepresenting the root problem.   A heat wave is currently hitting Europe along with wild fires and the mainstream media is beating the global warming drum hard.  This is nothing new; every time the weather gets hot they cry “climate change!”  Every time the weather is extra cold they once again cry “climate change!”  The evidence?  What about the “record heat” in parts of UK, Spain and Portugal?  This is surely proof that the weather is being ruined by that terrible menace known as man-made carbon? Of course, what they don't tell you is that the official record for weather and temperatures used by climate scientists only goes back about 140 years (it started in the 1880s).  So, millions upon millions of years of Earth weather, and they only count 140 years of it to determine “record temps?”  They tend to ignore ice core and tree ring data from centuries ago that indicate much hotter warming periods in our planet's history (none of which were caused by man-made carbon emissions).  In comparison, today's temperatures are rather tame. The Earth's overall temperatures have only risen by 1° Celsius in the past century; this was actually the peak and currently temps have evened out to an increase of 0.8°C.  This is the great climate doomsday we are all supposed to be terrified of.  This is the looming threat we are supposed to sacrifice all fossil fuel based energy production for – Less than a single degree of heat.   It's important to put the frantic climate change narrative into concrete perspective because the vast majority of climate science is paid for by governments and special interest organizations like the UN, the World Economic Forum and many other globalist groups with an agenda in mind.  On average, these governments and institutions spend around $632 billion per year on climate research funding and climate policy initiatives (which they call “meager”).  Their goal is to increase this cash flow to $4 trillion by the year 2030.  The incentives to jump on the man-made climate change train are MASSIVE; there is almost no monetary incentive for scientists that want to study other potential causes for climate events.  The notion of the stalwart and incorruptible scientist that seeks objective truth rather than cash and notoriety is long dead.  Honest scientists are few and far between these days (especially in the medical and climate science fields), and perhaps it has always been that way.  The “experts” cannot be blindly trusted because they are just as susceptible to bias and corruption as anyone else.   Climate change hysteria is a nothing burger, but it is being actively promoted by the media to obscure very real threats that the public faces in the near term.  One of those threats  is energy shortages, and climate regulations have put a stranglehold on many nations and their ability to adapt.  The EU is now implementing carbon policies that call for a 55% reduction of emissions by 2030.  Meaning, no new fossil fuel sources are supposed to be utilized.  Only reductions are allowed.     Climate scientists and global elitists claim that climate change is the paramount issue of the century and must be dealt with immediately and by any means necessary.  They haven't presented a single shred of hard evidence to support this assertion, but they dictate the policies of most western governments so they don't really need to.  They just initiate restrictions without public input.   In reality, perhaps the greatest threat since WWII is about to land like a hydrogen bomb in the laps of the European public.  Panic is beginning to take shape as Russia cuts natural gas supplies to the EU down to 20% of their original capacity and alternative sources simply do not exist on a scale that can take up the slack.  A large portion of oil exports have also been shut down, and European governments are NOT informing the citizenry of the true gravity of the situation.  At current energy import rates, at least 40% of Europe will not be able to heat their homes in the winter.    EU plans to replace Russian energy sources in the near term have also been deemed “wildly optimistic.”  In other words, the EU public is screwed, and many of them still don't realize it yet because the government won't admit it.  A disaster of epic proportions is about to strike and this isn't even counting the enormous price hikes that are coming for the other 60% of people that will still have gas supplies available.   But the climate cult is not letting this visceral reality get in their way.  To them, the crisis is an opportunity.  A new narrative is rising among intergovernmental bodies, the media and among climate activists; they say this impending disaster is actually “good for Europe” in the long run, because it forces citizens to accept energy reduction policies and carbon controls which climate scientists and globalists have been demanding for years.  Inflation in prices means shrinking demand and cuts in the supply chain mean resources are quashed even if demand remains high.  Energy is being suffocated slowly leaving room for a "Green New Deal" of sorts.    So, it's good for the globalists and their agenda, but not really good for anyone else that has to live through harsh winter months with no heat and limited electricity.  If the current trend continues without a dramatic change in the way Europe throttles fossil fuel energy, then there is the very real potential for mass deaths this winter.  This is not hyperbole, this is a mathematical certainty.  The continued push for even more climate restrictions at this time is making the situation much worse.   There is no impending threat due to climate change, but there is an impending threat due to energy shortages.  Europeans need to ask themselves – Why are their governments setting them up for calamity over a non-existent climate bogeyman?  Without increased fossil fuel energy from numerous sources including coal and oil the EU is on the path to a historic tragedy this winter.       Tyler Durden Fri, 08/05/2022 - 02:45.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 5th, 2022