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Expats Flee Hong Kong Over Protests, Coronavirus

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Expats Flee Hong Kong Over Protests, Coronavirus

Expats living in Hong Kong have been fleeing the country after nearly a year of protests and the new, looming threat of the hyper-virulent coronavirus, which has already infected 62 people in the country as of February 17.

Residents wear masks as they march to protest against the government's plan to set up a quarantine site close to their community amid the Wuhan outbreak, in Hong Kon
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g, on Feb 2, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

"It's just becoming an unstable environment to raise a child in," said Ian Jacob, owner of a construction materials company who is leaving Hong Kong with his wife and 10-year-old daughter after 15 years, according to the Straits Times.

"We watched as the situation got worse and worse," he said of the political unrest which has unfolded over the past year.

With classes suspended again amid the coronavirus outbreak, the prospect of more home schooling for their 10-year-old daughter pushed them to take refuge in Auckland, New Zealand.

Mr Jacob said they'll be moving back there for good once the school year ends in Hong Kong. -Straits Times

According to the Times, expats who have been thinking about leaving the politically unstable city have a sense of urgency due to the coroavirus, which has officially killed over 2,000 people and infected over 75,000.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has been oddly criticized for closing schools until mid-March due to the coronavirus threat, unlike Singapore.

Critics accuse Chief Executive Carrie Lam's government of mishandling the latest crisis compared with Singapore, which has kept schools open.

An exodus by expats like Mr Jacob could further damage an economy already reeling from the unrest and the virus, with visitor numbers plunging and unemployment rising.

Hong Kong residents who come from elsewhere play outsized roles in finance, law and other service industries that make the city a global business capital. -Straits Times

There are just under 700,000 foreigners and mainland Chinese living in Hong Kong, accounting for nearly 9.5% of the population according to the 2016 census. Half of all expats ion the Special Administrative Region are from the Philippines and Indonesia - the primary source of domestic help. Additionally, there are around 35,000 Britons and 14,800 Americans.

And while the Times can't say exactly how many people are considering leaving, "there is growing anecdotal evidence of a shift in sentiment among expats," as evidenced by relocation companies which have experienced a spike in inquiries about moving, along with predictions that the ongoing political crisis will only "worsen in the days and weeks ahead," as the city deals with the virus - according toa February 11 report from risk consultants Steve Vickers and Associates.

Links International Relocation Ltd had a 45 per cent increase in inquiries about moves in the second week of February compared with a year earlier, said Mr Patrick O'Donnell, the company's Hong Kong-based managing director.


Typically the peak season for overseas moves is in June, yet springtime already is starting to look busy, said Mr Timothy Tao, Hong Kong-based director of business development with relocation company Asia Tigers Group. Inquiries have jumped in the past month, he said.

"People are telling us: How soon can you pack us up?" Mr Tao said. -Straits Times

Meanwhile, worried workers have been panic buying groceries - emptying out shelves, and working from home. This has left restaurants struggling.

According to a February 12 letter from the British and French chambers of commerce, Hong Kong is at economic risk if a mass exodus occurs, and could threaten the city's global status.

"If the specific needs of international schools cannot be rapidly addressed, this will very likely trigger decisions of families (not just expatriates) to leave Hong Kong in the coming weeks," wrote Rebecca Silli and Peter Burnett, chairs of the French and British chambers.

"This would also have dramatic consequences on the international schools' financial position, even to the point of putting at risk the continued operation of some."

Some families have opted to temporarily relocate until the political situation in Hong Kong settles down.

Insurance industry executive Ruth Lu, who has children ages 7 and 11, has rented a house with a pool on the Thai island of Koh Samui while schools are closed.

"We don't even need to wear masks," she said.

A native of China's Jiangsu Province who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 20 years, Ms Lu has no immediate plans to move but the unrest has soured her on the city.

"It's not the old Hong Kong like when I first arrived," she said.

Others, such as several bankers interviewed by Bloomberg, said they had moved abroad with their families until the outbreak has subsided. 

Approximately 75% of the families at the prestigious private Chinese International School with over 1,530 students, have provided their whereabouts - with 20% of them reporting to be outside Hong Kong, according to headmaster Sean Lynch.

The US State Department, meanwhile, has warned Americans about travel to Hong Kong - advising increased caution, while allowing non-essential State Department employees and their families to evacuate.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 09:10
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Live Webcam Stream Located in Crack Alley Broadcasts User-Generated Sounds

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What could possibly go wrong?
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More Tampa Org Fail

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(Note: this came in a few weeks ago and I overlooked it). I have done a few recent posts about the state of the two best ideal orgs on earth — the artificial “model Class V” org in Los Angeles that is manned by 200 Sea Org members (who will be there regardless if they […]

International 1MDB Fugitive Jho Low Spotted In Wuhan

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International 1MDB Fugitive Jho Low Spotted In Wuhan

Fugitives are known for traveling to far-flung and infrequently visited locales to escape justice (think: Jesse Pinkman).

But a virus-infested city surrounded by the PLA, local police and roving gangs of state-backed vigilantes doesn't exactly sound like the most appealing locale - even if you've allegedly been provided safe haven by the Chinese state.


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some unexplained reason, Malaysian authorities told the media that they've received intelligence reports claiming that Low was recently "active" in Wuhan, according to Bloomberg.

Jho Low

Malaysian authorities have reportedly told the Kuala Lumpur International airport to monitor for Low in case he tries to flee back to Malaysia to escape the virus. Though we suspect that Low wouldn't be dumb enough to leave China, considering there's an Interpol red notice with his name on it.

"Previously, we did receive intelligence that he was active in Wuhan," Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, without saying when Low was reported to be in the Chinese city. "I have told Kuala Lumpur International Airport to monitor if he comes back with Covid-19."

Low is the shady financier and former Hollywood producer who allegedly masterminded the pillaging of billions of dollars from 1MDB, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund financed by several bond offerings underwritten by Goldman Sachs (the storied investment bank has reportedly agreed on a settlement with the DoJ, but still faces legal scrutiny in Malaysia).

Low also faces criminal charges in the US, where hundreds of millions of dollars in assets purchased by him with his ill-gotten gains - including jewelry, a yacht, proceeds from the movie 'The Wolf of Wall Street' etc. - have been seized.

Of course, if Low was ever caught, we imagine he'd have some interesting things to say about the senior Goldman execs with whom he met, including former CEO turned twitter armchair political analyst Lloyd Blankfein.

But like they say: It's best to hide where noone goes.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 08:10

Pete Buttigieg Promises Extra Housing — and Extra Migrants

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“This county needs more people than its immigration system is willing to allow.”

California is going ‘Ideal,’ and Scientology is on fire about it

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[Ventura’s new org, almost ready for its closeup]

On Saturday at 1pm, Scientology leader David Miscavige will preside over another “Ideal Org” grand opening, but this one is extra special.

The old Santa Barbara org is being replaced by an Ideal Org in nearby Ventura, but what may draw big crowds from Los Angeles (which has, after [...]


Iran Confirms First 2 Cases Of COVID-19; 'Diamond Princess' Confirms 79 More Cases As Quarantine Ends

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Iran Confirms First 2 Cases Of COVID-19; 'Diamond Princess' Confirms 79 More Cases As Quarantine Ends

Tehran is not having a good year.

First, President Trump rang in the new decade by barbecuing the leader of the IRGC Quds Force. In response, Iran killed zero Americans but accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing nearly 200 people, including dozens of Iranian students, then they tried to lie about it, before finally coming cl

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All that was probably enough to destabilize the regime on its own. Though it has quieted down somewhat, the public outrage is still simmering as Iran's rolling economic crisis continues.

Now, on top of all that, Tehran has confirmed to the AP that authorities have confirmed two cases of the coronavirus in Iran. That means the virus has now infiltrated two of the world's most isolated states - Iran and North Korea. Many outsiders believe North Korea has confirmed at least one case of the virus, but that it has withheld this information from the international community to avoid inciting a panic.

Like North Korea, Iran's battered economy, crippled by years of American sanctions, is hardly equipped to deal with the outbreak. According to Iranian media, the cases were confirmed in the central province of Qom. More patients are being tested as an unknown number of suspected cases have been isolated, according to the AP.

Last night in New York, we reported that Japanese health authorities were preparing to release the first batch of 500 passengers and crew who had reportedly tested negative for the virus (though that doesn't completely rule out the possibility that a few of them might still develop symptoms caused by COVID-19).

On Wednesday morning in the US (so Wednesday night in Japan), health officials revealed that 79 more people onboard had tested positive for the virus, taking the total number of infected aboard the ship to 621, the AP reports.

As we've noted several times, the notion that thousands of people are about to be released while hundreds of cases of the virus are still being confirmed seems like insanity. While most of the patients will face two more weeks of quarantine when they return home, how are they planning on getting there? There's been no word of an official government transport. By allowing them to travel home, Japan is breaking the quarantine.

Seems like a particularly stupid thing to do when the Tokyo Olympics are coming up this summer.

After the virus death toll on the mainland hit 2,000 last night, Johns Hopkins reports that the number of confirmed cases and deaths haven't moved since then: By their count, total confirmed stood at 75,201 while deaths stood at 2,012.

Johns Hopkins

Last night, the CDC warned that Japan's quarantine of the 'Diamond Princess' "may not have been sufficient" to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship.

In other slightly more positive cruise-ship related news, the Guardian reports that A total of 781 guests who disembarked from the Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia have tested negative for Covid-19, Holland America, the ship’s operator, said.

As Beijing tries to reassure its population, half of which is under lockdown, that everything is going to be okay, Reuters reports that China’s central bank and its finance ministry won't send any officials to a G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Riyadh due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, in Wuhan, the twin nightmares of the 'war time' lockdown coupled with the ravages of the virus continue to work their wonders.

The yuan strengthened early Wednesday following reports that China is weighing measures including direct cash infusions and mergers to bail out the airline industry and others. Earlier, the state directed Chinese banks to offer emergency loans to troubled companies. The South Korean government and central bank announced a similar plan earlier this week.

As we reported earlier, Beijing expelled 3 WSJ reporters on Wednesday over an opinion column published by the paper that Beijing decried as 'racist'.

Remember, next time you hear somebody talking about the outbreak 'slowing down', take a look at this:

Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 06:59

Claim: Obama Ordered FBI Investigation At Behest Of George Soros

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"President Obama whispered to the Justice Department about it."

Europe's Nuclear Weapons And The Arms Reduction Treaty

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Europe's Nuclear Weapons And The Arms Reduction Treaty

Authored by Brian Cloughley via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

It is intriguing but almost inevitable that examination of so many European policies must begin with reference to the United States. The reason is that the US is majestically (and the word is used advisedly) important to Europe, and no matter what opinions may be held of Washington’s policies under th

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e erratic Trump, these will always have influence in Europe’s capitals.

One major Europe-US consideration is the Trump administration’s decisions on nuclear strategy which have an enormous impact that will be likely to shape international relations indefinitely.

This has been examined by President Macron of France whose recent speech on Defence and Deterrence Strategy has not received the attention it merits in the US media. He delivered his talk at the military’s War College on February 7, and opened by making the point that he was the first president to speak there since Charles de Gaulle “announced on 3 November 1959, sixty years ago, the creation of what he then called the force de frappe”. The force de frappe is literally the nuclear ‘Strike Force’ (now less combatively referred to as ‘deterrence’) and is comparatively modest, consisting only of some 300 weapons, as assessed by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in 2019.

Of course the word ‘modest’ in reference to nuclear weapons’ arsenals is somewhat misleading, if only because 300 of them (or Israel’s 100 or so; China’s 290; Pakistan’s 200 or India’s 180) could destroy the world. But it is used in comparison to the arsenals of the nuclear super-powers, the US and Russia, which each have over 6,000.

Macron said that “Russian-American bilateral treaties relate to a chapter of history – that of the Cold War – but also to a reality that is still relevant today, that of the considerable size of arsenals still being held by Moscow and Washington, without a possible comparison with those of other nuclear-weapon-States. In this respect, it is critical that the New Start Treaty be extended beyond 2021.”

And there he put his finger on the button.

The New Start Treaty — the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty agreed between the US and Russia — was signed in 2010 and if Trump fails to take action it will expire in February 2021. Its main “Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms”, according to an April 2019 report by the US Congressional Research Service “limits each side to no more than 800 deployed and nondeployed land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers and deployed and nondeployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments… The treaty also limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads; those are the actual number of warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and one warhead for each deployed heavy bomber.”

The accord could be described as modest but exceptionally important, and has been acknowledged as such by Russia whose deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, stated on February 11 that the country has “confirmed its readiness at the highest level to extend this treaty without any preconditions and, moreover, to do it urgently.”

But in spite of the fact that Russian readiness “was officially brought to the notice of the American side by a diplomatic note at the end of last year” there has been no positive reaction from Washington, which is disturbing, to put it mildly.

Macron was right in observing that “there can be no defence and security project of European citizens without political vision seeking to advance gradual rebuilding of confidence with Russia” and he has made it clear that for the moment there is little prospect of true détente (to use the old Cold War term) because the “divide between us is growing and dialogue is weakening precisely at a time when the number of security issues that need to be addressed with Moscow are increasing.”

But Trump does not appear to be prepared to talk with Russia about any security problems. As noted by Defense News on February 10, his fiscal 2021 budget details a massive increase in expenditure on nuclear weapons, which is not the signal that Washington should be sending to China and Russia. The $28.9 billion to be spent on nuclear modernisation includes over 4 billion for Columbia Class submarines, almost 3 billion on B-21 bombers, and a billion for the Trident missile life-extension programme. All of these are notably offensive “mutually assured destruction” style decisions, and by no stretch of the imagination can be described as confidence-building or indicative of desire to embrace the Start Treaty — which could be agreed by a simple presidential signature. There is no requirement for any legislative procedure.

The Washington Post, no champion of Russia, and indeed a fervent critic of Russian policies about almost everything, observed on February 10 in an editorial that “Putin wants to extend arms control. What’s Trump waiting for?” The paper referred to the New Start Treaty in supportive terms and notes that it “provides for intrusive verification and ensures stability in nuclear arsenals. If New Start lapses, both countries will be free to deploy more nuclear warheads and build new generations of weapons and delivery systems” — which has been heralded in the US by the Pentagon’s programmes.

At a meeting of the US-Nato military alliance in Brussels on February 12-13, however, there was no mention of Washington’s impending expansion of nuclear weapons’ capabilities, but much focus on criticising Russia and supporting Ukraine while attempting to justify Nato’s movement further away from Europe to “enhance Nato Mission Iraq” which is madness.

Macron has a wider and more pragmatic view of international affairs and wants Europe to devise “an international arms control agenda” because “the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the uncertainties about the future of the New Start Treaty and the crisis of the conventional arms control regime in Europe have led to the possibility of a return of pure unhindered military and nuclear competition by 2021, which has not been seen since the end of the 1960s.

Macron is concerned that dialogue is being rejected in favour of nuclear sabre-rattling, but unfortunately cannot rely for support from the only other nuclear weapons-capable country in Europe, the United Kingdom, which is squandering billions on its nuclear programme that its National Audit Office reported is facing “delays of between one and six years, with costs increasing by £1.3 bn.” In spite of this shambles the UK’s nuclear policy will not alter, because prime minister Johnson has approved expenditure on replacing the existing Trident nuclear missiles, and the independent Forces Network records that he voted for “a series of proposed spending cuts and changes to the welfare system in favour of spending on new nuclear weapons.”

Further, Britain is heavily influenced by Washington in its nuclear posture, as made clear by US Admiral Charles Richard whose testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 13 included the statement that the new W-93 nuclear warhead will “support a parallel Replacement Warhead Program in the United Kingdom whose nuclear deterrent plays an absolutely vital role in Nato’s overall defence posture.”

It seems that in Europe Emmanuel Macron is a lonely voice in attempting to encourage Trump to renew the Arms Reduction Treaty and that his only significant supporter in moving towards dialogue with Russia is Angela Merkel, who has almost as many domestic political problems as he has. It is hoped that more nations will pay attention to Macron’s wise pronouncement that “there can be no defence and security project for European citizens without a political vision that seeks to progressively restore trust with Russia.”

If there is no movement towards dialogue with the intention of establishing a latter-day détente, and if Trump refuses to extend New Start, then the nuclear dominance option, as already being embraced by Washington, will further destabilise our already shaky world.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 03:30

UK: Hospitals to Deny Care to “Racist” or “Homophobic” Patients

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What could possibly go wrong?

Dr.Doom On Gold & 'The White Swans Of 2020'

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Dr.Doom On Gold & 'The White Swans Of 2020'

Authored by Nouriel Roubini via Project Syndicate,

In my 2010 book, Crisis Economics, I defined financial crises not as the “black swan” events that Nassim Nicholas Taleb described in his eponymous bestseller, but as “white swans.”

According to Taleb, black swans are events that emerge unpredictably, like a tornado, from a fat-tailed statistical dis

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But I argued that financial crises, at least, are more like hurricanes: they are the predictable result of built-up economic and financial vulnerabilities and policy mistakes.

There are times when we should expect the system to reach a tipping point – the “Minsky Moment” – when a boom and a bubble turn into a crash and a bust. Such events are not about the “unknown unknowns,” but rather the “known unknowns.”

Beyond the usual economic and policy risks that most financial analysts worry about, a number of potentially seismic white swans are visible on the horizon this year. Any of them could trigger severe economic, financial, political, and geopolitical disturbances unlike anything since the 2008 crisis.

For starters, the United States is locked in an escalating strategic rivalry with at least four implicitly aligned revisionist powers: China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. These countries all have an interest in challenging the US-led global order, and 2020 could be a critical year for them, owing to the US presidential election and the potential change in US global policies that could follow.

Under President Donald Trump, the US is trying to contain or even trigger regime change in these  four countries through economic sanctions and other means. Similarly, the four revisionists want to undercut American hard and soft power abroad by destabilizing the US from within through asymmetric warfare. If the US election descends into partisan rancor, chaos, disputed vote tallies, and accusations of “rigged” elections, so much the better for America’s rivals. A breakdown of the US political system would weaken American power abroad.

Moreover, some countries have a particular interest in removing Trump. The acute threat that he poses to the Iranian regime gives it every reason to escalate the conflict with the US in the coming months – even if it means risking a full-scale war – on the chance that the ensuing spike in oil prices would crash the US stock market, trigger a recession, and sink Trump’s re-election prospects. Yes, the consensus view is that the targeted killing of Qassem Suleimani has deterred Iran, but that argument misunderstands the regime’s perverse incentives. War between US and Iran is likely this year; the current calm is the one before the proverbial storm.

As for US-China relations, the recent “phase one” deal is a temporary Band-Aid. The bilateral cold war over technology, data, investment, currency, and finance is already escalating sharply. The COVID-19 outbreak has reinforced the position of those in the US arguing for containment, and lent further momentum to the broader trend of Sino-American “decoupling.” More immediately, the epidemic is likely to be more severe than currently expected, and the  disruption to the Chinese economy will have spillover effects on global supply chains – including pharma inputs, of which China is a critical supplier – and business confidence, all of which will likely be more severe than financial markets’ current complacency suggests.

Although the Sino-American cold war is by definition a low-intensity conflict, a sharp escalation is likely this year. To some Chinese leaders, it cannot be a coincidence that their country is simultaneously experiencing a massive swine flu outbreak, a severe bird flu, a coronavirus epidemic, political unrest in Hong Kong, the re-election of Taiwan’s pro-independence president, and stepped-up US naval operations in the East and South China Seas. Regardless of whether China has only itself to blame for some of these crises, the view in Beijing is veering toward the conspiratorial.

But open aggression is not really an option at this point, given the asymmetry of conventional power. China’s immediate response to US containment efforts will likely take the form of cyberwarfare. There are several obvious targets. Chinese hackers (and their Russian, North Korean, and Iranian counterparts) could interfere in the US election by flooding Americans with misinformation and deep fakes. With the US electorate already so polarized, it is not difficult to imagine armed partisans taking to the streets to challenge the results, leading to serious violence and chaos.

Revisionist powers could also attack the US and Western financial systems – including the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) platform. Already, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde has warned that a cyberattack on European financial markets could cost $645 billion. And security officials have expressed similar concerns about the US, where an even wider range of telecommunication infrastructure is potentially vulnerable.

By next year, the US-China conflict could have escalated from a cold war to a near-hot one. A Chinese regime and economy severely damaged by the COVID-19 crisis and facing restless masses will need an external scapegoat, and will likely set its sights on Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and US naval positions in the East and South China Seas; confrontation could creep into escalating military accidents. It could also pursue the financial “nuclear option” of dumping its holdings of US Treasury bonds if escalation does take place. Because US assets comprise such a large share of China’s (and, to a lesser extent, Russia’s) foreign reserves, the Chinese are increasingly worried that such assets could be frozen through US sanctions (like those already used against Iran and North Korea).

Of course, dumping US Treasuries would impede China’s economic growth if dollar assets were sold and converted back into renminbi (which would appreciate). But China could diversify its reserves by converting them into another liquid asset that is less vulnerable to US primary or secondary sanctions, namely gold. Indeed, both China and Russia have been stockpiling gold reserves (overtly and covertly), which explains the 30% spike in gold prices since early 2019.

In a sell-off scenario, the capital gains on gold would compensate for any loss incurred from dumping US Treasuries, whose yields would spike as their market price and value fell. So far, China and Russia’s shift into gold has occurred slowly, leaving Treasury yields unaffected. But if this diversification strategy accelerates, as is likely, it could trigger a shock in the US Treasuries market, possibly leading to a sharp economic slowdown in the US.

The US, of course, will not sit idly by while coming under asymmetric attack. It has already been increasing the pressure on these countries with sanctions and other forms of trade and financial warfare, not to mention its own world-beating cyberwarfare capabilities. US cyberattacks against the four rivals will continue to intensify this year, raising the risk of the first-ever cyber world war and massive economic, financial, and political disorder.

Looking beyond the risk of severe geopolitical escalations in 2020, there are additional medium-term risks associated with climate change, which could trigger costly environmental disasters. Climate change is not just a lumbering giant that will cause economic and financial havoc decades from now. It is a threat in the here and now, as demonstrated by the growing frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

In addition to climate change, there is evidence that separate, deeper seismic events are underway, leading to rapid global movements in magnetic polarity and accelerating ocean currents.. Any one of these developments could augur an environmental white swan event, as could climatic “tipping points” such as the collapse of major ice sheets in Antarctica or Greenland in the next few years. We already know that underwater volcanic activity is increasing; what if that trend translates into rapid marine acidification and the depletion of global fish stocks upon which billions of people rely?

As of early 2020, this is where we stand:

  • the US and Iran have already had a military confrontation that will likely soon escalate;

  • China is in the grip of a viral outbreak that could become a global pandemic;

  • cyberwarfare is ongoing;

  • major holders of US Treasuries are pursuing diversification strategies;

  • the Democratic presidential primary is exposing rifts in the opposition to Trump and already casting doubt on vote-counting processes;

  • rivalries between the US and four revisionist powers are escalating;

  • and the real-world costs of climate change and other environmental trends are mounting.

This list is hardly exhaustive, but it points to what one can reasonably expect for 2020. Financial markets, meanwhile, remain blissfully in denial of the risks, convinced that a calm if not happy year awaits major economies and global markets.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 05:00

President Trump Threatens to Sue ‘Everyone’ Over Roger Stone Trial

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'If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place....BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL.'

World Health Organization Warns About Coronavirus Phishing Attacks

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Once again, cybercriminals have proved their indifference to morality by exploiting the panic and hype for the horrifying Coronavirus epidemic

World Health Organization Warns About Coronavirus Phishing Attacks on Latest Hacking News.


EU Auto Registrations Plunge In Dismal Pre-Coronavirus January Numbers

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EU Auto Registrations Plunge In Dismal Pre-Coronavirus January Numbers

For months we have been commenting about how the global auto market is mired in recession. Most recently, we have been highlighting how China, one of the world's largest economies and auto markets, has been exacerbating things with terrible sales numbers, failed subsidy ideas, disconnect from Beijing and, obviously, the coronavirus.

Many of the new numbers out of China, inclu

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ding a dismal January sales number and expectations for an awful February, are being blamed on the coronavirus (despite the fact that January's number doesn't really even include the virus impact yet). 

Now, the numbers out of Europe - where they can't just turn around and place the blame on the coronavirus, are looking equally as awful and are sounding a much bigger alarm about the global automotive industry. 

New car registrations fell 7.5% on the year to 956,779 vehicles. The data is ex-UK, which is no longer a part of the EU. 

The ACEA data, broken down by manufacturer, shows ugly numbers for names like Renault, Daimler and FCA. Names like Toyota and BMW were able to slightly buck the trend:

  • VW Group sales drop 0.1% y/y; ytd down 0.1%

  • PSA Group sales drop 14% y/y; ytd down 14%

  • Renault Group sales drop 16.4% y/y; ytd down 16.4%

  • Ford sales drop 18.6% y/y; ytd down 18.6%

  • FCA Group sales drop 6.4% y/y; ytd down 6.4%

  • BMW Group sales rise 3.8% y/y; ytd up 3.8%

  • Daimler sales drop 10.1% y/y; ytd down 10.1%

  • Hyundai Group sales drop 3.9% y/y; ytd down 3.9%

  • Toyota Group sales rise 10.1% y/y; ytd up 10.1%

  • Nissan sales drop 0.5% y/y; ytd down 0.5%

The drop is sales is being attributed to tax changes in some member states that prompted consumers to make their purchases in December, instead of January, according to Marketwatch. Of course, we continue to attribute the drop to a global economy that is in steep decline, led by a decade of failed central bank policies that are rearing their head to remind consumers that more debt and more money printing simply isn't the answer.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association said: "Major taxation changes announced by some EU member states for 2020 pulled registrations forward into December 2019, explaining this January drop."

“Other contributing factors included weakening global economic conditions and uncertainty caused by the U.K.’s departure from the European Union,” the association continued.

Sales of ICE vehicles fell off in some markets in January, as the EU continues to try and encourage consumers to switch to EVs by using subsidies and lopping fines on manufacturers. Sweden and France, for example, both offer incentives to buyers for EVs, in addition to monitoring output from manufacturers. Perhaps their respective governments should take a look at whether their micromanagment of the market isn't contributing to the problem, instead of solving it. 

The future doesn't look promising for the EU either: the ACEA forecast in January that the industry is likely to contract by 2% in 2020. 

Sweden, France, Germany and Spain all posted the ugliest numbers, with Sweden plunging 18%, France falling 13.4%, Germany falling 7.3% and Spain falling 7.6%. 

New numbers will be released on March 18, which will be the first full set of data since the coronavirus outbreak. We will be keeping a close eye on those numbers to see if "taxation" winds up getting the blame for a beleaguered global economy yet again. 

Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 04:15

Pence Slams Bloomberg With Paul Harvey “Farmers” Speech

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'God looked down on his planned paradise and said, 'I need a caretaker.' So, God made a farmer.'

What does a Lenovo touch pad, an HP camera and Dell Wi-Fi have in common? They'll swallow any old firmware, legit or saddled with malware

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Are we doing panic about software updates again? Really? OK

Some of the biggest names in the technology world still ship hardware that can be possibly hijacked by well-placed miscreants, thanks to poor or non-existent checks for firmware updates.…


"World Upside Down" - French Ski Resort Uses Choppers To Deliver Snow, Angers Enviros

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"World Upside Down" - French Ski Resort Uses Choppers To Deliver Snow, Angers Enviros

The Luchon-Superbagnères ski resort above the town of Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Midi-Pyrénées region angered local environmentalists by using two helicopters to transport snow to its lower slopes last Friday after an unusually mild winter, reported France 24.

Minister of Ecological Transition Élisabeth Borne said, "using helicopters to bring

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snow to ski resorts is not an option… It's a question of putting a quick stop to it. It's not possible to repeat such a highly polluting operation."

Ski resort officials decided on Friday to use two helicopters to transport more than 50 tons of snow from higher elevations to lower slopes to keep beginner trails and the ski school open for February and March, the busiest time of year for ski resorts in France.

Bastien Ho, of green group Europe Écologie Les Verts, told local media the decision by the ski resort to replenish its slopes with snow via helicopters is a "world that is upside down." 

"Instead of adapting to global warming we're going to end up with a double problem: something that costs a lot of energy, that contributes heavily to global warming and that in addition is only for an elite group of people who can afford it," Ho said. 

Hervé Pouanu, the director of the local council in France's southwest, told French media that the move wasn't "very eco-friendly," but it will avoid the ski resort from slashing 50 to 80 jobs for the remainder of the season. 

"We have no intention of doing it again," Pouanu said. "We didn't have a choice this time." 

Unseasonably warm temperatures in the Midi-Pyrénées region have left resorts facing uncertainty about their future as declining snowfall levels have resulted in fewer visitors.

Météo-France, the French national meteorological service, said January temperatures were some of the warmest in over a century, devastating ski resorts across the country. 

Below is a status report of Luchon-Superbagnères ski resort as of Monday morning. It appears most of the mountain remains closed. 

Greta Thunberg's Twitter has so far been silent on the issue. Maybe she's too busy preparing for her new TV show on the BBC. 

Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 02:45

Abortionist: ‘It Makes My Day’ When I See A Woman Come Back For Another Abortion

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'We take it as a huge compliment,' he says.

NATO Top Military Officer: 'Defender 20' Is Facing Problems

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NATO Top Military Officer: 'Defender 20' Is Facing Problems

Authored by Belit Onay via TheDuran.com,

Defender 20 is a large-scale military exercise that has gotten under way in recent weeks. This year in February Americans will deploy 37,000 soldiers to Germany, Poland and the Baltic States. U.S. Army Europe’s Chief of Staff German Brig. Gen. Hartmut Renk gives a few remarks for DW.

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Defender-Europe 20 is slated to be the largest deployment of U.S.-based soldiers for an exercise to Europe in 25 years. This will be a massive exercise that will send U.S. soldiers to the continent next spring to conduct force projection and readiness training to deter potential adversaries,” stressed the German general.

Defender 20 is a US-led multinational exercise that involves 19 countries.

Germany will serve as the logistics hub for moving equipment and supplies. Defender 2020 will also validate that German infrastructure is up to the task. The units participating in the exercise will be supported by the German Bundeswehr.

It is also critical for Germans to test their own physical infrastructure – roads and bridges. These can be seriously threatened as the weight of a tank transported on a trailer can exceed 130 tons. Military equipment will also be transported by rail and river.

The German general also mentioned that three so-called convoy support centers have been set up for the military convoys on the military training area Bergen in the Lüneburg Heath. There’s also a fuel tanker there. Some US units will bring their own equipment whereas others will use the equipment inventory already stored in Europe.

Commenting on possible Polish cooperation during Defender 20, Brig. Gen. Hartmut Renk estimated that Germany is ready for the upcoming maneuvers whereas the preparations of the Polish Army look like a real disaster. The security system, locations and technical support structures of allied forces in Poland during Defender 20 do not match the exercise requirements.

According to the German general, the worst situation is at the training grounds at Ustka and Drawsko Pomorskie.

“It’s terrible that American soldiers will live in such conditions. The barracks look like ruined stables. Mice and rats are prowling the concrete floor. It’s cold and wet. In Germany pigs are kept in better conditions. Technical support is at the level of “crowbars and hammers,” said general Renk.

It’s worth mentioning that Poland will be one of the epicentres of one of those smaller, linked exercises – exercise Allied Spirit. This will be a division-size exercise led by the United States Army 1st Cavalry Division.

Allied Spirit features a live wet gap crossing, in other words a river crossing that will take place at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in north-western Poland. This time the task will be accomplished by a multinational bridging team (German and British soldiers) including rotary and fixed-wing support coming from the US and the Czech armed forces. Unfortunately, during the exercise Anakonda-18, in this instance, soldiers of the Polish Army failed to build a pontoon bridge, and flights and artillery firing were canceled.

“Lack of professionalism and complete irresponsibility which the command of the Polish Army keeps demonstrating from year to year, may be a reason to cancel the planned actions during exercise Defender 20...” – summarized Brig. Gen. Hartmut Renk.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Kramer, who leads EUCOM exercise programs, said DEFENDER-Europe 20 is the most massive exercise since the Cold War.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 02:00

Researchers Study Link Between Childhood Obesity, Vaccines

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Surge in overweight kids correlates with number of vaccine doses recommended

EU Will Deploy Warships Off Libya's Coast To Enforce UN Arms Embargo

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EU Will Deploy Warships Off Libya's Coast To Enforce UN Arms Embargo

Just after the EU’s foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell urged Europe to "develop an appetite for power" to better chart its own independent course in solving various international crises impacting Europe, the EU has agreed to deploy warships in order to enforce a United Nations arms embargo on the war-torn country

The EU has stressed

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, however, that this is not an extension of its prior controversial mission to rescue migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean: 

Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, announced that 27 foreign ministers had agreed to launch a new operation with naval ships, planes and satellites in order to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.

To counter objections that the operation could morph into a rescue mission, Borrell promised the ships would be withdrawn if they became “a pull factor” that encouraged people to attempt the risky crossing from Libya to Europe. This commitment helped lift opposition to the mission from Italy and Austria, whose governments had blocked an earlier compromise.

The EU has established a new naval mission in the Mediterranean, via EPA/Al Jazeera

Going all the way back to the 2011 US-NATO intervention to topple Gaddafi, the north African country has existed in a state of anarchy with multiple governments and factions vying for control, and now Benghazi-based strongman Khalif Haftar is attempting to bring the country by force under his control in his bid to seize the capital. 

This has set the stage for a major proxy war involving the UAE as the prime weapons supplier of Haftar, and Turkey as supplying weapons, drones, and even troops to the Tripoli Government of National Accord (GNA). Russia has also reportedly supplied Haftar's army with mercenaries from the Wagner group. 

The fighting in Libya as well as the external arms supplies fueling both sides of the conflict has become so bad that the United Nations has called an arms embargo recently in place "a joke". 

“The arms embargo has become a joke, we all really need to step up here,” U.N. Deputy Special Representative to Libya Stephanie Williams said days ago at an international security conference in Munich.

“It’s complicated because there are violations by land, sea and air, but it needs to be monitored and there needs to be accountability,” Williams added, and noted further that Libya has over the past multiple months of fighting been flooded with advanced weapons.

Migrant boat in the Mediterranean, image via Creative Commons

This newest EU operation appear's the bloc's attempt at a more muscular response in the wake of frustration over "not doing anything". 

Austria’s foreign minister, Alexander Schallenberg was quoted in The Guardian Tuesday as saying, “There is a basic consensus that we now want a military operation and not a humanitarian mission.”

The details of the new mission to block all arms going into Libya, dubbed Operation EU Active Surveillance, are as follows: 

Ships under the new mission – to be known as Operation EU Active Surveillance – will patrol about 60 miles (100km) off the coast of Libya, an area of the Mediterranean that is the main route for weapons into the country.

An internal EU memo, released by the London-based civil liberties group Statewatch, underscores that the EU does not expect to be involved in rescuing people. “Naval assets can be deployed in the areas most relevant to the implementation of the arms embargo, in the eastern part of the area of operation or at least 100km off the Libyan coast, where chances to conduct rescue operations are lower,” it says.

It's widely believed that should 'mission creep' occur and the European military ships get pulled into a costly 'rescue mission' upon possibly encountering stuck migrant ships in the area, the whole operation will lose political backing and momentum. 

There's also concern that the mere presence of EU ships will only serve to encourage more migrants to attempt the dangerous Mediterranean crossing. 

Tyler Durden

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 23:45

DHS Waiving Federal Contracting Laws to Expedite Border Wall Construction

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Trump admin hoping to build 450 miles of wall before 2021

The Betrayal Of The Elites

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The Betrayal Of The Elites

Authored by Paul Adams via The Epoch Times,

In an important new book, political scientist Yuval Levin argues that we have lost faith in our institutions—public, private, civic, and political.

We need institutions, including families, associations, churches, corporations, trade unions, political parties, professions such as law and medicine, as well as the formal institutions

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of government such as Congress, the presidency, and the courts.

They are, as Levin puts it, “the durable forms of our common life.” They serve purposes or missions, like educating the young, resolving disputes, or defending the country. They give life meaning by assigning roles, teaching self-control, and enforcing standards. In the process, they form the character of those who participate in them.

But we no longer trust them. What went wrong?

From Molds to Platforms

There has been a big shift in the way elites, those who play a leadership role in our institutions, treat them. Instead of seeing their institution as a mold that forms and shapes their character and behavior, they treat them as platforms for promoting their own.

Think of a new member of Congress, who is less interested in learning and conforming to the traditions and expectations of the House than using it as a platform for gaining fame and celebrity. Congress—by its own will, Levin argues—has become increasingly weak and ineffectual. Its members seek publicity and fame through social media and other avenues even before learning or accomplishing anything of substance in Congress itself.

Indeed, Levin notes, political leaders often appeal to their outsider status—claiming not to be part of the Washington bubble or swamp themselves—as a way to enhance their own power. Even as leaders, they criticize their own institutions as if they were not themselves responsible or in charge of them.

The one exception to the breakdown of confidence in institutions is the military. In that case, the formation of character—fitting those serving with the sense of duty, mission, and self-effacement of one’s own interest—is recognized and primary. It’s rare for a soldier in uniform to use the military as a platform to promote himself, not, anyway, until resigning or retiring from duty. We trust the military, beyond other institutions, to do its job of forming those who serve.

Levin shows the need to rebuild institutions and to form elites who can better lead them. He spends much space criticizing anti-elite populism.

But Elites Are the Problem

The problem with all this is that it underplays the extent to which our most important institutions have been undermined systematically by the very elites who are supposed to lead and represent them.

President Donald Trump, a performer rather than a self-effacing institution-builder, tapped into the loss of confidence in our institutions and promised to shift policy in ways that would strengthen them. He talked of draining the swamp of the federal bureaucracy, which had become an “administrative state” pursuing its own interests and policies.

In the case of Trump’s presidency, deep hostility has been evident not only in the violent demonstrations of Antifa, but also in all the leading institutions of society. The administrative state itself has been a center of resistance to the elected president—running its own unelected government even as it asserted its own professionalism and commitment to the Constitution.

We see this from the start in Trump’s White House itself. An opinion column by a senior official in the Trump administration in the New York Times makes the position clear. It’s called “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”

The author, writing under the name, Anonymous, boasts of working diligently to thwart the president’s policies even while working for him. Trump, the author says, is unaware of the extent to which “many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda.”

The point is that Trump was elected and is supported by tens of millions in order to carry out his agenda, not that of establishment Republicans or “Never-Trumpers,” or of Obama holdovers still in his administration.

The Wall Street Journal recently carried an opinion piece from one of those rare figures, a (former) official within the Trump administration who was a director of strategic planning in the National Security Council (NSC), who supported Trump’s policies.

The author, Rich Higgins, confirms but deplores the overwhelming opposition to the president among executive branch staffers. As he portrays the situation on the NSC staff, those who faithfully sought to implement the president’s policies were thwarted by more senior officials on the NSC who were Obama holdovers. Those who attempted to carry out the sitting president’s policies, Higgins among them, were isolated or fired for their loyalty.

Liberal media denounced what it called the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the army officer detailed to serve the NSC, as retaliation for his testifying to the House about Trump’s Ukrainian phone call. Higgins takes a different view. His point is not that Vindman was not in fact fired or investigated, but that he was disloyal.

Vindman’s duty, he argues, “was to serve loyally until he felt he no longer could, then resign. Resistance while in uniform undermines good order and discipline and is especially dishonorable.” It was not Higgins but Vindman, lauded by the liberal media as he was, who undermined the institutions he was sworn to serve.

Elites as Institution-Wreckers

But the problem is wider and deeper than the kind of internal “resistance” described from one side by Anonymous, another by Higgins, and the very existence of which progressives dismiss as a “deep state conspiracy theory.”

Levin begins his analysis with the institutions of our national government and works his way down to the foundational institution that involves us all, the family. But suppose we look at the problem the other way round.

No institution is more fundamental or important than the family in molding us from birth on. A large body of research from scholars across the political spectrum has established the importance of family structure, of growing up in a married two-parent family, as a protective factor for every social indicator—our health and longevity, life expectancy, involvement with the criminal justice system, education, earnings, and marital success.

Recent research indicates that family and faith (attending church or other place of worship and defining oneself as a very religious person) play a larger role in educational achievement than school-based efforts to close the gaps among racial and ethnic groups.

A meta-analysis (study of studies) examined 30 studies of attempts to bridge the achievement gap between white students on one hand and Black and Latino students on the other. It “revealed that, if an African American or Latino student was a person of faith and came from a two-biological-parent family, the achievement gap totally disappeared, even when adjusting for socioeconomic status.” [emphasis added]

Yet progressive elites beyond the administrative state—in academia, law, media, sports, big business, and entertainment—have targeted, unrelentingly, just those institutions that are most important in the lives of ordinary people.

It is the advocates of identity politics who have attacked the institutions of marriage and family, not the populists. These ideologues have used their own institutions as platforms to train others, in psychology, social work, and other fields. The aim is not to support those they serve by helping them strengthen families and marriages, but to liberate individuals from the grip of those institutions.

The sexual revolution has gone far beyond seeking legal recognition for alternative forms and definitions of marriage and family. Its adherents seek to stigmatize and expel from public life those—individuals, parents, businesses, and faith communities—that defend those foundational institutions.

They attack as bigots and haters those whose views were the common sense of almost all communities everywhere just a few decades ago. Such people, according to the new orthodoxy, are unworthy of the right to free speech, free exercise of religion, or the right to pursue in peace their professional vocation or conduct their business enterprise.

Looked at this way, it’s the progressive elites who are destroying our institutions, opposing their purposes and missions, and so the meaning and structure of our lives. It is Trump, a performer unmolded and unintimidated by the ways and customs of political institutions and offices, who is leading the defense of our basic institutions.

His policies aim to defend families and their rights, to uphold school choice, religious freedom and protection of conscience, and the right of children in the womb, the most vulnerable and innocent of all the human family, not to be killed.

Trump and his policies provide at least a moment of respite from, and pushback against, the totalitarian impulses of progressives who seek to politicize and control every aspect of life.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 00:05

Amazing Footage: Man Conducts Historic Flight Around Dubai in Jet Pack

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100% vertical takeoff a major milestone in quest to achieve human flight.

So God Made a Farmer: Infowars’ Paul Harvey Tribute

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Share this exclusive video to expose Democrat presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg.

Yellen Says Fed Should Buy Stocks In The Next Crisis

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Yellen Says Fed Should Buy Stocks In The Next Crisis

Back in June 2017, there were several odd moment of bizarre honesty coupled with schizophrenic confusion under Janet Yellen's Fed.

First there was San Fran Fed president John Williams, who would eventually on to become the Fed's #2 when he took over as head of the NY Fed in 2019, who said that "there seems to be a priced-to-perfection attitude out there” and that the stock mar

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ket rally "still seems to be running very much on fumes." Williams added that "we are seeing some reach for yield, and some, maybe, excess risk-taking in the financial system with very low rates. As we move interest rates back to more-normal, I think that that will, people will pull back on that."

Then it was then-Fed vice chairman Stan Fischer's turn, who echoed Williams in saying that "the increase in prices of risky assets in most asset markets over the past six months points to a notable uptick in risk appetites.... Measures of earnings strength, such as the return on assets, continue to approach pre-crisis levels at most banks, although with interest rates being so low, the return on assets might be expected to have declined relative to their pre-crisis levels--and that fact is also a cause for concern." Fischer then also said that the corporate sector is "notably leveraged", that it would be foolish to think that all risks have been eliminated, and called for "close monitoring" of rising risk appetites.

Finally, none other than then-Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that some asset prices had become “somewhat rich" although like Fischer, she hedged that prices are fine... if only assumes record low rates in perpetuity: “Asset valuations are somewhat rich if you use some traditional metrics like price earnings ratios, but I wouldn’t try to comment on appropriate valuations, and those ratios ought to depend on long-term interest rates."

But while these three moments of rare honesty prompted surprised stares among investors - as a reminder, back then the S&P was trading at "only" 2,400, the Fed was only starting to hike rates and QE4 was more than two years ago - it is what Yellen said next that shocked virtually everyone.

Responding to a question on financial system stability, Yellen said post-crisis regulations had made financial institutions much "safer and sounder", and as a result she went on to predict that there would never again be a financial crisis "in our lifetimes" to wit:

"Will I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis? No, probably that would be going too far. But I do think we’re much safer and I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don’t believe it will."

While some were quick to compare this statement by Yellen (who then was 70--ears old) to Neville Chamberlain infamous - and very, very wrong - 1938 prediction of "peace in our time", perhaps she was hiding a trump card all along... A trump card which she revealed only now, almost three years later.

Speaking via video conference with bankers in Kansas City, Yellen said that the Fed would take a page out of the SNB and BOJ playbook, and "might be able to help the U.S. economy in a future downturn if it could buy stocks and corporate bonds." Of course, by "US economy" she meant the "top 1%" and their political cronies.

And while Yellen was quick to walk back this "hypothetical" scenario, saying that "the issue was not a pressing one right now" and pointed out the U.S. central bank is currently barred by law from buying corporate assets, the idea was already "incepted" in the heads of America's political rulers (whose fate is just as tied to the vagaries of the stock market) and the law can be changed literally overnight. And after all, it is only a matter of time before a crisis does hit, and now Yellen has explained has to happen to avoid an all out social catastrophe in a country where financial assets account for nearly 6x of GDP.

To validate her point, Yellen said that the Fed’s current toolkit might be insufficient in a downturn if it were to “reach the limits in terms of purchasing safe assets like longer-term government bonds."

"It could be useful to be able to intervene directly in assets where the prices have a more direct link to spending decisions,” she said, adding that buying equities and corporate bonds could have costs and benefits.... But mostly benefits, if only for the Fed, the politicians and the very, very rich.

Keep in mind that what Yellen said was merely a paraphrase of Ben Bernanke's famous April 2010 WaPo oped in which he defended easy monetary policy is facilitating higher stock prices, which would  "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."

Of course, none of this "trickle-down" ever happened, and instead what did happen is that the top 10% of US society who own 93% of all equities got fantastically rich...

... while the bottom 90% who own virtually no stocks and owe most of the debt, got very, very angry as they watched how the Fed plundered their future and hopes to become wealthy, and resulted first in the election of Trump, and the upcoming election of a socialist candidate as America goes full-on populist in response to the Fed's catastrophic policies.

However, thanks to Yellen we now know that the Fed won't go down without a fight... or at least without monetizing everything before the Marriner Eccles building is finally burned down.

Last month, Yellen told a conference the Fed would fight a future recession by buying government debt and jaw boning interest rates lower with pledges on future policy. But she said other tools might be necessary, including expanding the range of assets it would purchase.

And so, thanks to Janet Yellen, we now we know that before the current fiat regime of central banks finally ends and before stocks go limits up as the revolution starts, the Fed will order a POMO of, well, everything in one final, last ditch effort to keep social stability by creating the impression that stocks are stable and rising even as society implodes.

Will it be successful? Normally we would say "not a chance." But when one considers that that's precisely what has happened for the past decade, and one has to think really hard just how much further the Fed can keep kicking the can before it all comes crashing down.

Tyler Durden

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 20:45

‘Doctors for Assange’ Worry He May Die in UK Prison Having ‘effectively been tortured to death’

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Assange’s health has been worrying his supporters for a while now.

"Absolutely Unacceptable" - Leaked Boeing Memo Shows 'Debris' Found In 737 MAX Fuel-Tanks

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"Absolutely Unacceptable" - Leaked Boeing Memo Shows 'Debris' Found In 737 MAX Fuel-Tanks

With airline after airline pushing back their 'return-to-service' dates based on Boeing's total lack of clarity on the path forward for the 737 MAX, the troubled aircraft maker (and the troubled aircraft) now faces more problems.


According to an internal memo, seen by Reuters, Boeing found debris that could pose potential safety

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risks in the fuel tanks of several 737 MAX aircraft that are in storage and waiting to be delivered to airlines.

To be clear about what 'debris' means, Reuters  details that:

"an industrial term for rags, tools, metal shavings and other materials left behind by workers during the production process."

And notes that this 'debris' problem has been a quality control issue for various Boeing aircraft, such as its KC-46 tankers.

Foreign-object debris (FOD) “is absolutely unacceptable. One escape is one too many,” Mark Jenks, a Boeing vice president and general manager of the 737 program, said in a message to employees that was viewed by Reuters.

“With your help and focus, we will eliminate FOD from our production system,”

The FOD problem on the MAX was first reported Tuesday on Scott Hamilton’s Leeham.net aviation site:

“There’s a systemic issue with Boeing’s quality control that hasn’t been corralled yet,” said Hamilton in an interview.

“This is not related to the MAX crashes or exclusively a MAX issue. Boeing has these FOD issues on other airplane programs.”

A Boeing spokesman confirmed the memo’s authenticity; and Boeing now having to inspect more than 400 stored 737 Max jets, but Bernard Choi said “it’s still undecided if we will inspect the rest” of the MAX fleet - another 385 aircraft that were delivered to customers but have been grounded for almost a year and are parked at airfields around the world.

“Obviously, we’ll do what’s right for safety,” Choi added.

Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers was, however, careful to claim that the company does not see the debris as contributing to delays in the jet’s return to service. (The inspections will take two to three days per aircraft. Fuel must be drained from the wings before a mechanic can go in and do a thorough check.).

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was aware that Boeing “is conducting a voluntary” inspection for debris in the undelivered aircraft “as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to ensure manufacturing quality.”

It may delay the airlines' decision to accept delivery of the jets though (as its not exactly reassuring to crew members and passengers of the company’s commitment to manufacturing quality and safety!)


Tyler Durden

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 21:05

Hillary Clinton Denies Mike Bloomberg Vetting Her for Running Mate

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'Oh, no. I’m just waiting and watching as this plays out,' says Clinton.
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The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde Pens Letter To Trump, Calls For Pardon of Assange

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'I believe he has been duly punished and should now be set free.'

ECB Buys LVMH Bonds To Finance Tiffany's Acqusition, Making France's Richest Man Even Richer

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ECB Buys LVMH Bonds To Finance Tiffany's Acqusition, Making France's Richest Man Even Richer

When France's richest man, LVMH boss Bernard Arnault, shocked the market last November with his $16 billion purchase of jewelry icon Tiffany, he knew he would have to issue about $10 billion in bonds to fund the deal. He also knew it wouldn't be a problem, for one reason: the ECB would be there to make sure the deal got done. But not even Arnault, who expected the yield f

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rom the bond issuance to be "between 0% and 1%" anticipated that the deal would get done in a way that the bond market would end up paying him.

Yes, thanks to the lasting legacy of one Mario Draghi, the richest man in France is now even richer because he had to issue debt.

What happened? As the financial world was closely following every fabricated data point out of Beijing in China's fight with the coronavirus epidemic, LVMH quietly raised €7.5 billion ($8.3 billion) and GBP1.55 billion ($2 billion), over a range of maturities from two to 11 years, to help finance its $16 billion purchase of Tiffany.

Here's the kicker: as Reuters reported last week, not only was the €9.3BN bond deal more than 50% upsized from the initial price talk of €6BN just earlier that day, but two of the five euro tranches were placed at negative yields, meaning investors would pay the A-rated LVMH to borrow money. Even the longest maturity, an 11-year euro tranche, had a yield of just 0.43%.

And it didn't even have to be pitched as a "green" bond.

Here, as Bloomberg's Marcus Ashworth writes, the French billionaire can thank Mario Draghi and the ECB for two reasons.

First, it was the restart of the ECB's €189 billion CSPP (Corporate Sector Purchasing Program) corporate bond buying program that helped drive credit spreads ever lower, and in many cases to negative levels meaning investors pay not sovereigns but corporations to take their money. And while the central bank may have wanted to lessen the funding costs of European companies to make it easier for them to invest, "it may not have been meaning to help a French luxury behemoth snap up an American jewelry icon", Ashworth writes.

There is second way the ECB made the richest Frenchman richer: for the collateral starved central bank, a major issuance of this size means that at least portion of the original offering will have been bought by the ECB (or will be at some point in the near future). As the Bloomberg commentator notes, "often the bank takes up to 20% of eligible issues, and there has a been a real paucity of high-quality credit since the Quantitative Easing program kicked back into life."

Indeed, the ECB's ravenous purchases of virtually any corporate debt led to the infamous holdings of Steinhoff debt, with Mario Draghi emerging as one of the biggest holders of debt just as the company imploded, its ratings cut instantly from investment grade to deep junk, and had the ECB not sold its holdings, the central bank would have ended up as a stakeholder in the post-reorg equity, in effect owning stock in a private corporation even though the ECB is not legally permitted to buy equities (at least not that we know of).

The ECB wasn't just making billionaires richer as part of its "trickle down" mandate in a time when credit spreads are at the tightest ever levels: as Bloomberg's Ashworth also notes, there was another jumbo corporate sale in Europe at the start of February by U.S. Media giant Comcast Corp., which issued notes worth 3 billion euros and 1.4 billion pounds.

This type of sale is known as a “reverse Yankee,” where an American company issues debt, but not in dollars. Maybe we could refer to LVMH’s use of dirt cheap funding in its home currency to buy an American company as a “reverse, reverse Yankee.” The world of finance is ever flexible.

Armed with this information readers can now freely accost anyone who claims that central banks have failed in their mission of making the general population richer. Well, actually they have, but to compensate at least they make the occasional billionaire hundreds of millions of dollars richer. As for everyone else, well they understandably pissed that none of these free handouts ever make it to them and so they get to vote for populists, even as the highly educated establishment is puzzled why for the first time ever, a majority of the world's population is dissatisfied with "democracy" and thinks the world has become a banana republic.

One wonders how Europeans would react if the Fed so overtly helped a US acquiror take over a European company; Americans, of course, have many other things to distract them than to pay attention to the biggest wealth transfer from one giant group of people to another, vastly smaller one.

We give the parting words to Jonathan Tepper, who best summarized the patently absurd pre-collapse state global civilization finds itself in:

Tyler Durden

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 18:05
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