Authored by Sven Henrich via NorthmanTrader.com,

Tech Oddity

Tech making new highs again in July as markets are anticipating rate cuts from the Fed later in the month. It’s still early in the earning season, but about to get heavy with reports.

$NFLX was a stinker last week, but $MSFT delivered, technically as extended as it may be.

All eyes then on the standard bearers for $FAANG, $GOOGL,$AMZN, $AAPL and $FB. But when an index makes new highs it’s always useful to look under

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the hood and there’s a signal chart that raises some eyebrows.

Indeed one might call it a tech oddity. New highs on $NDX? Yes, but check the cumulative advance/decline index $NAAD, it tells a very different story:

What does this chart tell us?

Well, for one, during the run up from the 2016 lows into the 2018 highs $NDX ran in a steady trend higher as did $NAAD. Very clean channel as a matter of fact. Then it all fell apart in Q4 2018. But on the heels of the Fed pivot markets recovered and are now back to all time highs. $NDX made a new all time high again in April and also last week in July.

But note $NAAD did not play along. Far from it. First making a notable lower high in April it made yet another lower high last week. And by doing so it has formulated a new trend line. Instead of a steady uptrend as in 2016-2018 it has formed a line of resistance & is potentially forming topping pattern.

Notable also the relative weakness on the RSI above.

What’s the message here from a technical perspective?

Firstly note that $NDX, despite making new highs remains below the broken 2016 trend line, but new highs are also coming on an ever weakening trend in the cumulative advance/decline index.

Something’s not quite right. This is not your 2016/2017/2018 bull market. This is a different animal, it’s an oddity. A tech oddity.

Ground control to Major Tech: Put your helmet on.

*  *  *

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The 'baseless smear' that can't be debunked
Officials at London’s Heathrow Airport recently seized nearly $5 million worth of gold bars that are believed to be linked to drug cartels thriving in South America.
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With Morgan Stanley reporting Q2 results yesterday, the first half earnings of all "big 5" US banks are now public, and when it comes to sales and trading they are nothing short of a disaster.

With the S&P at or near all time highs, institutional traders have, paradoxically, been increasingly moving to the "sidelines" for much of the second quarter as Wall Street trading desks posted their worst first half to a year in a decade, according to Bloomberg calculations. David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, made note of this over the last two quarters, and other

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major banks like JP Morgan and Citigroup have followed.

The slowdown in trading revenue has been due to uncertainty about trade war politics and global Central Bank policy. However, in the past, these types of uncertainties have spurred more trading, not less. This has raised the question of whether or not the slowdown in trading is permanent, instead of temporary.

Morgan Stanley CFO Jon Pruzan said in an interview Thursday: “It’s more of a subdued up than sort of the animal spirits you would generally characterize in this type of environment. We haven’t seen some of the traditional things in a market like this -- we haven’t seen a lot of people repositioning their portfolios, we haven’t seen leverage increase.”

Trading revenue at the five biggest Wall Street banks was down 8% in the second quarter, which followed a 14% slide in the first quarter. European banks are expected to post even larger drop offs next week when they report.

This will likely push revenue from equity and fixed income trading substantially below the $60.8 billion that was posted in the first half of 2017. These major firms generated $77.5 billion as recently as the first half of 2012.

One reason for the shrinkage - hedge funds have suffered outflows, which has also helped slow down trading volume. In addition, new rules that have limited lenders' ability to make principal bets with their own money have acted as a headwind. Technological advancements have also narrowed spreads in many areas of trading.

And over the last couple of quarters, Wall Street firms can’t decide whether or not they want to complain about too much volatility – or too little.

Jim Shanahan, an analyst at Edward Jones said: “I’m not sure what the Goldilocks scenario is for the banks. Part of the problem is that it’s too late to hedge interest-rate volatility, there’s not currency volatility to hedge. Speculators need volatility to hedge and enter the market.”

As a response, banks have cut costs. Front office headcount in trading units is down over the last five years and divisions like consumer lending and wealth management have picked up the slack that have led banks to record profits. As a result, the six biggest US banks set another record with $32.6 billion in (adjusted, non-GAAP) net income in the second quarter.

Go figure.

Citi CFO Mark Mason bemoaned the top-line sluggishness of the trading business: “Many of the investor clients remained on the sidelines,” he said on Monday. 

One can only imagine if equity revenue is slumping when the S&P is at all time high what will happen when the market finally crashes...

The UK has been indecisive regarding its allowance of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei access to its 5G infrastructure network. Britain has found itself caught up in the trade war between the US and China, where the US has imposed tariffs and restricted purchases from Chinese companies on the basis of "national security".
US senator dismisses cop-out, suggests jail time for execs

Data-spaffing consumer credit biz Equifax is offering a package of roughly $700m in order to kill off lawsuits regarding its 2017 super-cyber-heist.…


Submitted by Ronan Manly, BullionStar.com

There is probably no other topic in the gold and silver markets which incites heated debate more than the subject of precious metals price manipulation.

That prices in the precious metals markets are manipulated is not speculation, it is fact, a fact made clear again recently by the Commodity Futures and Trading Commission´s (CFTC) ruling against investment bank Merrill Lynch Commodities Inc (MLCI) for spoofing pricing of gold and silver futures contracts on the COMEX exchange.

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br />

The number of investigations, legal cases, class actions and financial headlines involving precious metals manipulation are now so pervasive that it’s hard to keep track of which cases are in motion and which investment banks are under scrutiny at any given time.

But beyond the profit and greed driven bullion bank manipulations gold and silver prices, there is also the issue of central bank policy interventions to suppress the gold price by outright gold sales or using the opaque and secretive gold leasing and lending market. This is a less talked about manipulation given the secrecy of everything to do with central banks and gold, as well as a reluctance of the financial media to broach the subject and a reluctance of regulators to ´go there´ by even looking at central bank gold market activities.

That central bank operations in the gold market have existed is also fact, with such operations covering price smoothing and price stabilization, price pegging, and coordinated gold pools. See BullionStar articles “New Gold Pool at the BIS Basle, Switzerland: Part 1” and “New Gold Pool at the BIS Basle: Part 2 – Pool vs Gold for Oil” and “The Bank of England and the London Gold Fixings in the 1980s” for more background. There is also ample evidence about central bank manipulation documented in various places including on the GATA website. The motivations for such central bank interventions include protecting the existing financial system, engineering low real long term interest rates, and preventing gold acting as a barometer of inflation.

But beyond even commercial bank manipulation of gold and silver metals prices and central bank policy manipulation of gold, there is arguably another form of manipulation in the precious metals markets which is far more influential in subduing price discovery and which takes the form of the very structure of how these markets trade vast quantities of futures contracts and synthetic and paper gold and silver positions that are completely unconnected with any underlying physical metal. The home of this trading is of course on the US COMEX exchange and the unallocated gold and silver markets in London. Both venues of which are ruled by the LBMA bullion banks.

Blundering Herd – Merrill Lynch Commodities Inc

Merill ´Spoofing´ Lynch

Turning first to the recent Merrill Lynch case, in late June this year the CFTC announced that it had fined Merrill Lynch Commodities Inc (MLCI) $25 million for manipulating gold and silver futures contracts on the COMEX exchange between 2008 and 2014. This was done ‘thousands of times’ according to the CFTC, by MLCI traders ‘spoofing’, or placing and then cancelling orders before they were executed. By creating artificial demand or supply and thus false prices, this interfered with the (already broken) precious metals price discovery that would have otherwise occurred.

Interestingly though not surprisingly, much of the direct evidence the CFTC used in its verdict was from the myriad log files of trader chat apps which were used to coordinate the spoofing. For example, in one 2010 chat, a trader was quoted as saying “guys the algos are really geared up in here.  [I]f you spoof this it really moves . . .”.

While a lot of money for most people, a $25 million fine is a paltry amount for a global investment bank such as Merrill Lynch and is just a cost of doing business on bank-ruled Wall Street. However, the ruling at least demonstrates that what many always thought about precious metals futures price discovery as being rigged and manipulated is in fact correct. As well as the $25 million fine, Merrill entered into a non-persecution agreement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), agreed to cooperate with the DoJ investigation into criminal violations, paid a $11.5 million civil monetary penalty to the CFTC, and had indictments against two of its former MLCI precious metals traders, Edward Bases and John Pacilio.

UBS – Precious Metals Spoofers

The Usual Suspects – UBS, HSBC and Deutsche

But the recent case against Merrill is not an isolated event. It follows similar moves by the CFTC in early 2018 where the CFTC chargedinvestment banks UBS, Deutsche Bank and HSBC and a number of their traders for spoofing precious metals futures from as early as 2008, while fining the banks a combined $46.6 million (of which $30 million was levied against Deutsche, and $15 million against HSBC). In those cases, the CFTC worked with the US Department of Justice and the FBI to bring the charges.

Moving forward to this year, in February 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut fined ex UBS precious metals trader Andre Flotron $100,000 for price spoofing and price manipulation in violation of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC Regulations. In that action, the CFTC found that Flotron had spoofed large orders in the precious metals markets between “at least August 2008 through at least November 2013, while employed at UBS”. This followed the CFTC reopening the case against Flotron in December 2018.

For excellent insights into how these UBS and other investment bank traders operated their spoofing, see the articles by Allan Flynn from April 2018 titled “US Gold and Silver Futures Markets – ‘Easy Targets’” and “UBS and Deutsche Bank gold and silver traders, April 2018”. For example, in evidence at the Flotron trial, Mike Chan, a UBS junior trader to Flotron while they worked in Singapore stated to the court that “during training, I’d seen him spoof and –  enough that I replicated it immediately to do the same thing. And as my career progressed at UBS, the more traders I interact with, the more people I’ve seen spoof.

The Fix is In – Manipulating the Gold and Silver Benchmarks

Beyond the gold and silver futures markets, but interfacing with the futures, a similar group of bullion bank traders are, not surprisingly, also involved in antitrust court cases alleging that these banks manipulated the London gold and silver fixing benchmark auction prices. While these cases are still winding their way through New York courts, and have not yet been fully ruled on, the chat room transcripts on manipulative price collusion can only be described as shocking, chat transcripts which anyone who bothered to think about it knew they existed from at least 2004.

The cases in question have been brought by groups of precious metals investors against the cartelesque London Gold Fixing and London Silver Fixing companies with allegations that Bank of Nova Scotia and HSBC manipulated silver fixing prices from 2007 to 2013, and that ScotiaBank, HSBC, Barclays and Societe Generale manipulated fixing prices from 2004 to 2013. Noticeably absent is Deutsche Bank which settled its way out of both cases, and UBS which successfully dismissed itself from both cases using cooperation and expensive lawyers.

Again we turn to an article by Allan Flynn from December 2016 titled “How to Trigger a Silver Avalanche by a Pebble: ‘Smash(ed) it Good’ which has a host of excellent quotes from chat room transcripts on how traders allegedly manipulated the silver market, for example:

UBS Trader A: “gonna bend this silver lower”; “i will bend it lower told u”; ”hah cool its gonna get ugly”; “use the blade on silver rg tnow it’ll hold it up”, gona blade silver now.

Deutsche Bank Trader B instructing Barclays trader A: “today u smash,

UBS Trader A: “an avalanche can be triggered by a pebble if you get the timing right” and “silver still here, u can easily manipulate silver”

With the cases against the London Gold and Silver Fixing companies still in discovery in the New York courts, expect further revelations later this year, but given the leniency of the system, not a lot of penalties.

For those readers alert to the way trading of precious metals futures contracts and trading around the London gold and silver fixes works, you will see that the pushing around of prices occurs in both ‘venues’, on COMEX and in the London gold and silver market, especially in the lead up to and during the fixes.

The same investment bank precious metals traders trade gold and silver futures contracts and London OTC contracts, and they trade these in the London and COMEX ‘venues’ at the same time. Price movements in one location instantly are reflected in the other. This is all explained in the BullionStar article “Spoofing Futures and Banging Fixes: Same Banks, Same Trading Desks” from April 2018. At the time I said the following, which is even more apt now given the CFTC’s recent prosecution of Merrill Lynch Commodities Inc (MLCI):

Prosecuting banks and traders for price manipulation on COMEX futures while ignoring the far larger London market and its gold and silver fixings looks like a job half done. Trading desks and their traders are agnostic to trading venues and with interlinked markets, the COMEX and the London Fixings are two sides of the same coin.”

Who needs real metal when you can trade 'Screen' gold and silver?

Conclusion – The Greatest Trick ever Pulled

Manipulating gold and silver prices by spoofing futures trades and cancelling them is one thing. Central bank intervention into physical gold markets to dampen the gold price is another. But perhaps the most far reaching yet unappreciated method of manipulation is sitting there in plain sight, and that is the very structure of the contemporary ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ markets where prices are established by trading in vast quantities of fractionally-backed synthetic gold and silver credit, be it in the form of vast quantities of unallocated positions that are ‘gold’ or ‘silver’ in name only, or in the form of gold and silver futures which haven’t the slightly connection with CME approved precious metals vaults and warehouses.

By siphoning off demand for real gold and silver and channeling it into unbacked or fractionally-backed credits and futures, the central banks and their bullion bank counterparts have done an amazing job in creating an entire market structure of futures and synthetics trading that is unconnected to the physical gold and silver markets. This structure siphons off demand away from the physical precious metals markets, and in doing so, creates a system of price discovery which is nothing to do with physical gold and silver supply and demand.

Apart from fractional-reserve banking, precious metals market structure is perhaps one of the biggest cons on the planet. So next time you think of precious metals manipulation, remember that in addition to spoofing and secretive central bank gold loans, the entire structure of the precious metals markets is unfortunately one big manipulation hiding in plain sight.

This article was originally published on the BullionStar.com website under the same title "Gold & Silver Price Manipulation - The Greatest Trick ever Pulled".

On 27 January 1968, during the exercises of the French fleet, the French submarine “La Minerve” disappeared in the Mediterranean with 52 people on board.
<p>A new law in the state will make it illegal to label products like &#x201C;plant-based meat,&#x201D; &#x201C;cauliflower rice,&#x201D; or &#x201C;almond milk.&#x201D; Plant-based producers (and the ACLU) say that&#x2019;s a violation of the First Amendment.</p><br /><p>In Arkansas, it&#x2019;s about to be illegal to call a veggie burger a veggie burger. The new law, set to go into effect on July 24, is the latest in a series of state laws to ban plant-based meat producers from using &#x201C;meat&#x201D; and related words in the
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ir labelling. But a&#xA0;new federal lawsuit argues that the Arkansas law violates both the First Amendment right to free speech and the Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.</p><p>Read Full Story</p><div class="feedflare"><br /> <br /></div>

Over the weekend, we pointed out that in addition to the biggest conundrum facing markets in 2019, namely that the higher stocks rise, the greater the (now record) outflows from equity funds, there has recently emerged another especially bizarre divergence: whereas discretionary investors have been cutting equity positioning as growth has slowed...

... systematic strategy allocations - i.e., quants, "robots", and the like - have been buying up stocks the worse the economic picture became, and have been pushing the S&P higher.

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And here an odd observations: whereas historically, positioning for both discretionary and systematic strategies have typically moved together and were highly correlated with growth indicators, this year however, discretionary investors have steadily reduced their exposure which is now below average, in line with their behavior historically when growth is slowing.

What this means is that not only do broader markets track systematic rather than discretionary flows, but the marginal price setter is no longer of human (discretionary) origin, but rather robotic.

In other words, the good news is that while humans may have gotten cold feet, robots continued to buy... for now.

And now the bad news: whereas global equities have maintained upward momentum for the most part, that momentum seems to be losing steam, and at least one major class of robotic investors may soon seek to exit too.

As Nomura's quant team writes, with the FOMC having now entered the blackout period ahead of next week's potentially historic FOMC meeting (30-31 July) when the Fed is widely expected to restart monetary easing, market participants are converging on the view that the Fed will cut interest rates by 25bp - but not by more - and as a result market sentiment is softening in markets worldwide.

Indeed, it appears to Nomura that, rather than expecting a risk rally once the rate cut decision has been made, the market is starting to worry that a rate cut would be followed by a round of "selling the fact". As a result, given that Nomura sees signs of ebbing risk appetite, the Japanese bank thinks it best to be on the lookout for selling of global equities for profit-taking purposes ahead of the event, particularly among speculative traders. Furthermore, the bank's quant team also notes that "hedge funds have staked out positions that look especially vulnerable to a combination of rising volatility and falling stock prices."

Global stock market sentiment has continued to soften, most obviously in the US, as the perceived likelihood of a 50bp rate cut has dropped off. Although sentiment is still slightly on the risk-taking side of neutral, we would expect investors to remain fairly unenthusiastic if the July FOMC meeting ends innocuously with a 25bp rate cut.

Hedge funds, meanwhile, are still positioned in a way that would lead one to believe that they:

  1. expect volatility to remain consistently low; and

  2. see little downside risk for equities.

For example, the overall performance of hedge funds as measured by the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index (HFRXGL) is still closely correlated with returns on an S&P 500 put write strategy, which leads Nomura to believe that speculative traders are by and large not taking profits on this sort of high-risk, bullish position in equities.

At the same time, the growth in VIX futures shorts is another manifestation of this risk-taking behavior on the part of speculative traders. According to latest data from the CFTC (dated 16 July), the net short position of non-commercial traders has grown to around 140,000 contracts, which is to say that the outstanding net position of hedge funds is now highly vulnerable to a rise in volatility paired with a drop in stock prices.

Which brings us to the proverbial "robots", or CTAs, which after bidding up stocks for much of the past month are preemptively taking profits on long positions in US equity futures.

As mentioned above, US stock market sentiment has softened somewhat. Even if the Fed were to go through with a 25bp rate cut at the July FOMC meeting, the appetite for risk may continue to fade unless the Fed pairs the rate cut with some additional dovish surprise. And, as the charet below shows, trend-following CTAs have already begun preemptively taking profits on long positions in US equity futures.

And as Nomura's Masanari Takada writes, "trend-following CTAs are in the process of scaling back their net long position in US equity futures." Specifically, CTAs have been shrinking their net position in S&P 500 futures in increments since 17 July.

Finally, because the outstanding net long position of CTAs breaks even at around 2,955 (based on what Nomura calculates the average cost of their net buying since the beginning of June), this selling is still mostly a matter of preemptive profit-taking commensurate with what the market is actually doing.

Said otherwise, should the S&P dip below 2,955 ahead of next week's FOMC, the Fed may have no choice but to cut 50bps as the market will be delighted to once again force Powell's hand.

On the other hand, discretionary traders (global macro hedge funds and equity long/short funds) following aggressive selling for much of 2019, are slightly on the side of adding to their net exposure and BTFD, or as Takada notes, "the buying of US equities by global macro hedge funds sticks out here."

Nomura's conclusion: "The US stock market is currently the scene of a head-on collision between selling by technically minded CTAs and buying by fundamentals-oriented global macro hedge funds."

Whether this collision will result in an acceleration in the market's meltup, or a painful reacquaintance with gravity will depend on what the Fed does next week.

NYPD actively looking for gunman
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable announced in March that he would make way for a successor following the UK local elections. Jo Swinson and Ed Davey subsequently became the candidates to replaced him. He confirmed his departure date as the 23rd of June following the announcement of Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation.

The popular media playing software VLC was recently found to have a critical security flaw. Upon exploit, this flaw can

Critical VLC Media Player Vulnerability Discovered By German Researchers on Latest Hacking News.

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Seemed appropriate...


Chinese stocks were not pretty. Despite STAR soaring, ChiNext tumbled along with Shenzhen as it appears liquidity moved to the new index...


European markets (except Spain) managed to cling to gains on the day thanks to 4 notable impulses...


Nasdaq dramatically outperformed led by semis. Small Caps were the biggest losers. Dow ended unchanged (Boeing down vs Apple up)

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NOTE - Trannies and Small Caps notably decoupled at around 1400ET only to see a mysteriously large buy program strike at 1500ET


Small Caps continue to dramatically diverge from big caps (and mega cap tech)...


Small Caps also closed below their 100DMA...



Volume was low - around 20% below average...


There were two 'failed' attempts at yet another short-squeeze today...


Semis soared on the day following Goldman's upgrade on Micron...


But while Semis spiked, FANG stocks were flat...



Bonds and stocks remain in their own - buy all the things - worlds...


Treasury yields traded in a narrow range today, with yields down across the curve led by the belly...


10Y Yield dropped to 2.02% intraday but the yield curve (3m10Y) remains inverted (41st day in a row)...


The T-Bill curve remains kinked around potential debt ceiling X-date...


The dollar index managed very modest gains, holding above last week's Williams' speech plunge levels..



Cryptos were mixed over the weekend with Bitcoin Cash holding gains but ETH and BTC lower after a leg lower this morning...


Bitcoin continues to hover between $10,000 and $11,000...


Dr.Copper is lagging as silver resurges...


Oil prices managed some gains today as Iran tensions resurfaced in the narratives...


Silver continues to rise...


Silver has outperformed gold for six straight days (longest streak since June 2018), erasing most of the relative gains for the year...


Finally, don't forget, it's different this time...

Except it's all about liquidity, stupid...

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Italy's Lega party will "not take no for an answer" regarding the issue of autonomy for Lombardy and Veneto, Matteo Salvini, the Italian deputy prime minister and the Lega leader, announced on Monday.

Prolific pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was introduced to former President Bill Clinton through Epstein's longtime confidant and alleged procurer of young women - Ghislaine Maxwell. 

The daughter of embattled publisher and suspected Russian-funded Mossad agent Robert Maxwell, The 57-year-old Maxwell maintained a high orbit as an East Coast socialite, according to Politico.

It is unclear how Epstein and the Oxford-educated Maxwell first met, however they reportedly dated around 1992 shortly after her father's death. Then in 1995, Eps

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tein named a now-defunct Palm Beach business "Ghislaine Corp." In 2003, Epstein described Maxwell as his "best friend." 

She was also procuring young, often underage girls, to feed Epstein's sexual urges according to Epstein accusers and witnesses. 

According to court filings, Maxwell was said to have hired, supervised and fired household staff, while directing the visits of dozens of "massage therapists" to Epstein's residence, according to a Wall Street Journal report earlier this month. 

In depositions taken in 2009 and 2010 as part of civil lawsuits against Mr. Epstein, household employees said Ms. Maxwell was a central figure in Mr. Epstein’s private life. Several said Ms. Maxwell hired, supervised, and fired household staff, while directing the visits of dozens of "massage therapists”—typically young women.

Juan Alessi, who said in one of the depositions that he served as the Palm Beach house manager from around 1992 through 2002, described a basket of sex toys in Ms. Maxwell’s bathroom closet. He said he would find them around when he cleaned up after visits from the young women. -WSJ

"The defendant worked with others, including employees and associates who facilitated his exploitation of minors, by among other things, contacting victims and scheduling their sexual encounters with the defendant," according to US prosecutors, ostensibly referring to Maxwell. 

And then there's the Clintons...

According to Politico, "Maxwell first grew close with the Clintons after Bill Clinton left office, vacationing on a yacht with Chelsea Clinton in 2009, attending her wedding in 2010, and participating in the Clinton Global Initiative as recently as 2013, years after her name first emerged in accounts of Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse." 

Chelsea was in turn introduced to Epstein through Maxwell's ex, billionaire founder of Gateway computer, Ted Waitt of La Jolla, CA. 

A person close to Chelsea Clinton described Waitt as a “very close family friend” of Clinton and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, and said the couple met Maxwell through him in 2011. The person said Clinton and her husband ended their friendship with Maxwell when she and Waitt broke up in early 2011, and disputed that Maxwell and Chelsea Clinton were ever “close.” 

Two people familiar with the relationship between Maxwell and the Clintons said Maxwell, Clinton and Mezvinsky flew together on a private plane to rendezvous with Waitt for a trip on Waitt’s yacht. One of those people said the trip took place in 2009.

Waitt, whose philanthropic endeavors focus on the world’s oceans, has given somewhere between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation. -Politico

Not true, according to a friend of Maxwell, who told Politico: "The Clintons were relatively intimate with her," a friend of Maxwell told Politico. Meanwhile, "In 2002 and 2003, flight logs reportedly show that Bill Clinton flew on 26 flight legs on Epstein’s private jet," according to the report. 

So that we're clear - the Clintons became "relatively intimate" with Maxwell - who was known as Epstein's inseparable assistant and 'sex scheduler' - long after Epstein admitted to being a pedophile in a controversial 2008 plea deal.

Maxwell’s ties to Clintonworld, meanwhile, would last another decade.

One friend of Maxwell’s, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described their surprise upon showing up at a dinner party at her Upper East Side apartment around 2005 to find Doug Band, then a top adviser to Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, among the 8 to 10 guests. In 2006, a charity run by Epstein, C.O.U.Q. Foundation, gave $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation, the Daily Beast reported. -Politico

"Ghislaine was the contact between Epstein and Clinton," a person familiar with the relationship told Politico. "She ended up being close to the family because she and Chelsea ended up becoming close.

A spokesperson for Clinton has disputed that the two women were ever close, while Bill Clinton issued a statement via spokesman Angel Urena, claiming "President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York." 

Urena said the flight legs comprised four trips in 2002 and 2003 and that staff and Secret Service were present on all flights. Urena said Epstein visited Clinton at his Harlem office once in 2002 and that he briefly visited Epstein’s apartment one time. -Politico

The Trump connection

Politico also reveals the depth of President Trump's relationship with the Maxwells - in particular Robert Maxwell - which went back "to at least the late 1980s" until the Czech-born Daily Mirror owner died after falling off his Yacht, Lady Ghislaine, in the Atlantic Ocean (ruled an accident). 

An item from a May 1989 gossip column placed Trump and both Maxwells at a party aboard the elder Maxwell’s yacht, named the Lady Ghislaine, that featured caviar flown in from Paris and former Republican Sen. John Tower of Texas. The item notes that Trump compared his own larger yacht with Maxwell’s.

As it happened, Trump’s yacht, the Trump Princess, had originally belonged to the Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi — the uncle of slain Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi — and Maxwell’s yacht had originally belonged to one of Adnan’s brothers.

"He was a character and a colorful guy, and I think we were lucky to have seen even a short time of him in New York," Trump told Larry King of Maxwell two weeks later. "He was my kind of a guy." 

In 1997, Maxwell "bummed a ride" on Trump's private jet along with the author of a New Yorker profile of Trump - Mark Singer, who referred to Maxwell's father as an "inadequate swimmer." 

Meanwhile, Maxwell was instrumental in Jeffrey Epstein's rise within her sphere of influence. 

It is unclear whether Ghislaine Maxwell first introduced Trump and Epstein, who socialized together at least as early as 1992, but she was crucial in ensuring Epstein’s access to Trump’s world. Archival video unearthed on Wednesday by NBC from that year shows Trump and Epstein surrounded by dancing women at Mar-a-Lago, with Maxwell smiling in the background.

"Ghislaine was his path to social acceptance,” said Thomas Volscho, a professor at the City University of New York who has been researching Epstein. “They don’t always accept you. Ghislaine was really a conduit for him to start to socialize with people who are way beyond his level." -Politico

And with that, Maxwell also began recruiting for Epstein - as detailed in a lawsuit brought by former Mar-a-Lago changing room attendant Virginia Roberts Guiffre - who claims she was approached by Maxwell in 1998 to meet Epstein, after which the two of them participated in her sexual abuse.

Maxwell has denied the entire thing.  

According to the Daily Telegraph, Maxwell also introduced Epstein to British Royal Prince Andrew - the two of whom were pictured with Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts, who claims to have seen Bill Clinton on Epstein's infamous island while she was being sex-trafficked. 

Epstein also attended a birthday party for Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle in 2000. That same year, Maxwell and Prince Andrew attended what the Daily Mail described as a “hookers and pimps”-themed Halloween party hosted by Heidi Klum.

A month later, in early December 2000, Trump, his future wife Melania, Epstein and Maxwell all attended a surprise 60th birthday for Barbara Amiel, a British socialite, that was also attended by the likes of Anna Wintour, Charlie Rose and William F. Buckley.

Tina Brown, a notable magazine editor, recalled that around this period Maxwell would reach out to her to socialize when Prince Andrew came to New York. “She was a bit mysterious,” Brown recalled.

In short - when it comes to the socially awkward Jeffrey Epstein and his connection to the elite circles he mingled in, it's all about Ghislaine. 

The day before, the Foreign Office stated that UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had spoken to his French and German counterparts over Iran's seizure of the UK-flagged tanker in the Gulf.

It has only been a couple of months since we heard of the official departure of GandCrab ransomware. And now,

GandCrab Out – Sodinokibi In! Meet The New Sodinokibi Ransomware on Latest Hacking News.

<p>How can the disaster-relief world change people&#x2019;s perceptions to increase donations?</p><br /><p>Over the last two years, the United States has experienced 30 natural disasters that have each caused at least a billion dollars worth of damage. In many cases, the damage toll was far higher: The 2017 trifecta of Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma combined for a total of $265 billion in losses.</p><p>Read Full Story</p><div class="feedflare"><br /> <br /></div>

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

The Fed meets on July 31 to make an interest rate policy decision. What should the Fed do?

Jim Bianco at Bianco Research says Only a Half-Point Rate Cut From the Fed Will Do.

"Anything less would fail to fix the imbalances in the global bond market, continuing to weigh on economic sentiment," says Bianco.

"By lowering its target for the federal funds rate by just a quarter point, the Fed risks no less than a recession. The

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Fed has a history of moving too slow to respond to evidence of weaker growth, and a bold move now would help ensure the economy achieves the rare soft landing.”

I replied

I stand corrected. With his charts, I concede that Bianco made a solid case for cuts.

Yet, his charts highlight something more important.

Fed's Asymmetric Bubble-Blowing Policy 1992-Present

Chart courtesy of Bianco. The title and blue boxes are my anecdotes.

Bianco notes "In the 1990s the fed funds contracts only went out 6 months. That is why the lines are short. In the 2000s they went out a year, lines are a little longer. Around 2007 they started going out three years, the longest lines."

Each calendar years is a different color.

So the yellow to the upper right is 2018 (each month end … so Jan 31, Feb 28 and so on, the forward curve projected up to 2021. Black, in a downtrend, is 2009)

Let's hone in on the period starting 2009.

Fed's Asymmetric Bubble-Blowing Policy 2009-Present

Market Screaming for Hikes

The market was screaming for hikes for five years.

The Fed did not deliver.

Too Low, Too Long

That the Fed did not deliver hikes as expected is part of its asymmetric policy of keeping interest rates too low, too long,

Bubbles Blown

Without a doubt the Fed blew more bubbles, and likely the biggest in history.

The market responded with a prolonged yield-curve inversion.

Yield Curve


  • The effective Fed Fund Rate is currently 2.41%.

  • The yield on the three-year Treasury Note is 1.80%.

  • The spread is -0.61 percentage points

Behind the Curve

Bianco is correct. The Fed is behind the curve.

And by his logic it's not clear that 50 basis points is enough of a cut.

But to what avail?

So What? Bubbles Already Blown

Let's return to Bianco's opening gambit: "Anything less would fail to fix the imbalances in the global bond market, continuing to weigh on economic sentiment."

On July 18, I wrote Half-Point Rate Cut Odds Explode to 71% - So What? It Doesn't Matter!

The Fed, with its asymmetric too-low too-long policy blew bubbles that are impossible to fix.

Too Late for Insurance

Rate cuts now as economic insurance is like trying to buy insurance on your car after you wrecked it.

The bubbles have been blown.

Even if the Fed can correct current "imbalances" it cannot "unblow" bubbles anymore than it can unblow a horn.

Deflationary Bust Baked in the Cake

In the Fed's foolish attempt to stave off consumer price deflation, the Fed sowed the seeds of a very destructive set of asset bubbles in junk bonds, housing, and the stock market.

The widely discussed "everything bubble" is, in reality, a corporate junk bond bubble on steroids sponsored by the Fed.

For discussion, please see Junk Bond Bubble in Pictures: Deflation Up Next

Rate Cuts Don't Matter

The bottom line at this point is an economic recession is baked in the cake. The global economy is slowing and the US will not be immune.

The debt deflation horn has already sounded. It will not be unblown no matter how big the cut.

Clinton's best friend back together with sex offender politician after he'd been living in halfway house following prison.
Earlier, after the detention of a British-flagged tanker by Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Friday, UK media announced that the Royal Navy would be beefing up its military presence in the Persian Gulf with the deployment of marines and a nuclear-powered submarine.
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A huge escalatory step in the US-led economic war on Tehran and its global oil exports, and amid continued trade tensions with Beijing: the US State Department said Monday the US will impose new sanctions against a Chinese company for transporting Iranian crude in contravention of US sanctions. As the WSJ reports: 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told The Wall Street Journal on Monday that Chinese company Zhuhai Zhenrong and one of its executives knowingly violated U.S. law barring the import of Iranian crude oil.

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China had previously been part of the so-called waiver program, which had granted eight countries exceptions which allowed temporary imports of Iranian oil, but which expired May 2 of this year.

Crude oil is unloaded at Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang province in February 2018. Image source: VCG

The US did not renew the waiver program, known as 'Significant Reduction Exceptions,' in what was seen globally as a serious escalation by Washington attempting to bring Europe and other economic partners to heel over continued dealings with Tehran. 

The Chinese company has been identified as Zhuhai Zhengrong Co Ltd, which Pompeo accused of violating US law over its continued Iran crude imports. Notably, its CEO will also be under sanction. 

The WSJ continued:

The company and the executive will be barred from engaging in any foreign exchange, banking or property transactions under U.S. jurisdiction. The company couldn't be immediately located for comment. Chinese officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Pompeo said while addressing reporters in Florida, “We’ve said that we will sanction any sanctionable behavior and we mean it.”

Crucially, CNN noted late last week following Iran's navy capturing a British-flagged tanker that the White House could once again be on a war footing following President Trump backing off the previously planned strike on Iranian positions last month: "President Trump has privately adopted a more hawkish tone on Iran in recent days, according to three people familiar with the developments, as tensions increase in the Gulf," the report said.  

Police in Paris are already investigating the incident which took place late last week, when Prince Emanuel-Philibert of Savoy along with his wife and two children were out of their apartment in the French capital.

One more phishing scam has caught the attention of the researchers. Again, researchers have caught an email phishing campaign that

Phishing Campaign Tricks Users Via SHTML File Attachments on Latest Hacking News.


With the ongoing debacle over the 737 MAX seemingly getting worse by the day, a potentially far more ominous development hit today when rating agency Fitch warned that it may downgrade Boeing as the grounding of the ill-fated airplane stretches into the 5th month.

Citing regulatory uncertainty around the return to service of Boeing's workhorse jet and the “growing logistical challenge” of getting parked planes back in the air, Fitch said Boeing's credit rating was threatened as its cut its credit outlook for the aerospace giant while confirming its single-A, the sixth-high

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est investment-grade rating, and adding that there’s also a risk that the company will have to make costlier concessions to airlines.

The challenge for Boeing is not just how to get the grounded planes in the air; in the longer term, Fitch said the Max’s grounding presents a significant public-relations challenge that will remain a risk for “Boeing’s reputation and brand” into next year and beyond.

“Fitch also expects there will be a lingering operating-margin impact for several years after the 737 Max returns to service,” the ratings company said.

Boeing is currently rated A2 by Moody and A by S&P, which both have stable outlooks on the company, although we expect these to be cut soon now that Fitch has broken the seal. S&P said last week that Boeing’s announcement that it will be taking a $5.6 billion pretax charge to compensate for the grounding of the 737 Max wouldn’t affect the company’s credit ratings. But S&P warned that more damaging effects to Boeing’s financials or a “substantial loss” in market share to the 737 could warrant a downgrade.

While Boeing’s bonds were unchanged after Fitch’s report, BA stock dropped and since Boeing is the most important Dow member, the industrial average quickly slumped to session lows.


Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel denied during a press conference in Berlin, rumours about her health issues, adding that she was capable of carrying out her job.
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