Wondering Why There's Such A Shortage Of Masks? Ask The FDA!

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Wondering Why There's Such A Shortage Of Masks? Ask The FDA!

Have you like many others, been pondering why it's been so hard to ramp up production of surgical masks and respirators and are curious as to why private companies haven't flooded into the market to meet peak demand?

Well, Paul Matzko, author of "The Radio Right" (Oxford, May 2020), and Assistant Editor for Tech & Innovation at The Cato Institute, has

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some answers in a brief Twitter-thread:

TL;DR: Because they are regulated medical devices & new versions require FDA approval which can take months to obtain.

Take a look at this FDA regulation, intended to ease (!) the application process for "premarket notification." That means you have to do all of this - and get FDA sign off - before your new surgical mask gets anywhere near shelves.

Let's say that you're a garment manufacturer in NYC, but, of course, retail sales are down, so you're looking for another revenue stream. Why not make surgical masks, keeping your doors open, employees employed, and saving lives? It's a win-win-win!

But how long do you think it would take you to jump through these hurdles, and do you think someone without an army of regulatory compliance officers would be reasonably able to do so at all?

To start, you must:

  • do a compositional side-by-side analysis of your mask vs all other masks currently sold. Hire a few materials scientists, okay.

  • measure "tensile strength" & "impact resistance." Hire the Mythbusters and have them whack it with a hammer. 

  • perform detailed "risk analysis," for fluid/bacteria resistance and "flammability." Hmmm, better open a branch office for all those extra materials scientists and medical researchers. This is multiple major studies (though a Boring Company flamethrower might work in a pinch.) 

  • but wait, don't forget that masks touch skin! What if it gives you a rash!!! Okay, fine, we'll fill out the "standard ISO-10993," yeah, you know, the one for “Biological Evaluation of Medical Devices Part 1: Evaluation and Testing." Sprinkle in a couple more clinicians. 

I could go on and on. There is no world in which any company not already deeply invested in manufacturing surgical masks could jump through these hurdles in time to mitigate the desperate shortage of PPE for medical professionals on the COVID-19 front lines. None.

And we could have a discussion over whether these steps are necessary in ordinary times. But we aren't living in ordinary times.

Just as the FDA waived its COVID-19 testing regs (after weeks of delay), it should waive its surgical mask/respirator regulations for the duration.

But since it hasn't, the supply of officially-approved masks has remained artificially constricted. New entrants are effectively barred from selling unapproved masks. 

If willing to expose themselves to immense legal liability, new manufacturers could give masks away, but you're not going to get meaningful quantities that way. It's merely fodder for pleasant 5 o'clock news stories about making a few 1000s for donation to the local clinic. 

But because most people are unaware that masks/respirators are considered medical devices and just how onerous the applicable rules are, it leaves people thinking that the PPE crisis is a market failure, when it is anything but. 

That leads folks to consider towards heavy-handed measures, like the government seizing the means of mask production.

This is problematic for a bunch of reasons (& likely less effective), but it's also completely unnecessary if the FDA would just DROP THE DAMN RULES.

Tyler Durden

Sun, 03/29/2020 - 16:15

"There's No Gold" - COMEX Report Exposes Conditions Driving Physical Crunch

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"There's No Gold" - COMEX Report Exposes Conditions Driving Physical Crunch

Early this week, we were among the first to report on the "break down" in precious metals markets.

While the demand for gold has been soaring as a safe haven asset amid the multiple global crises we are currently facing, forced paper gold liquidation (as leveraged funds scramble to cover margin calls) and unpr

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ecedented logistical disruptions created a frantic hunt for actual bars of gold.

Specifically, as Bloomberg details, at the center of it all are a small band of traders who for years had cashed in on what had always been a sure-fire bet: shorting gold futures in New York against being long physical gold in London. Usually, they’d ride the trade out till the end of the contract when they’d have a couple of options to get out without marking much, if any, loss.

But the virus, and the global economic collapse that it’s sparking, have created such extreme price distortions that those easy-exit options disappeared on them. Which means that they suddenly faced the threat of having to deliver actual gold bars to the buyers of the contract upon maturity.

It’s at this point that things get really bad for the short-sellers.

To make good on maturing contracts, they’d have to move actual gold from various locations. But with the virus shutting down air travel across the globe, procuring a flight to transport the metal became nearly impossible.

If they somehow managed to get a flight, there was another major problem. Futures contracts in New York are based on 100-ounce bullion bars. The gold that’s rushed in from abroad is almost always a different size.

The short-seller needs to pay a refiner to re-melt the gold and re-pour it into the required bar shape in order for it to be delivered to the contract buyer. But once again, the virus intervenes: Several refiners, including three of the world’s biggest in Switzerland, have shut down operations.

“I realized it was going to be an extremely volatile day,” Tai Wong, the head of metals derivatives trading at BMO Capital Markets in New York, said of Tuesday. “We watched this panic develop literally over the course of 12 hours. Having seen enough market dislocations, you recognize that the frenzy wasn’t likely to last, but at the same time you also don’t know how long it would extend.”

By the end of the week, the shorts had sourced the metal and chartered flights, reverting the spot-futures spread...

But Morgan Stanley's Exchange-For-Physical Index shows a large physical premium remains...

The real price.. for real gold? Nearer $1,800. If you can get it.

“There’s no gold,” says Josh Strauss, partner at money manager Pekin Hardy Strauss in Chicago (and a bullion fan).

“There’s no gold. There’s roughly a 10% premium to purchase physical gold for delivery. Usually it’s like 2%. I can buy a one ounce American Eagle for $1,800,” said Josh Strauss. “$1,800!”

“The case for gold is simple,” says Strauss.

You want to own gold in times of financial dislocation and or inflation. And that’s been the case since time immemorial. And gold behaves well in those cases. In those cases stocks behave poorly. It’s a great portfolio hedge. Gold does poorly when you’ve got strong economic growth and low inflation. Tell me when that’s going to happen. Gold held its value during 2008 and after all that money printing it tripled over the next three years.”

And in case you doubted this, the cost of an American Eagle one ounce coin at the US Mint is now $2,175...

But now we can see more details of what is behind this 'shortage' as SKWealthAcamdemy's J.Kim details, the latest COMEX Issues and Stops reports expose conditions behind the COMEX physical gold supply problems. Though I have written about the various reasons why physical gold supply problems manifest many times in the past, this topic still remains one rarely discussed by financial journalists, and never discussed by the mass financial media.

For client accounts, when bullion banks stop more notices than issued, they, will lose physical inventory.

For house accounts, the opposite is true.

When bullion banks issue more notices than stops, then they will lose physical inventory as well. Normally, when bullion banks manufacture waterfall declines in paper gold and silver prices, as they did earlier this month, with the complicity of the CME’s largely unreported rampage in raising initial and maintenance margins on futures contracts many times within a 2-month period in the midst of a stock market crash, they load up on physical gold and silver for their house accounts while ensuring that their clients take almost zero delivery of physical gold and silver ounces. However, if they are unable to execute this clever strategy, this is when physical gold supply problems can manifest.

In fact, I have not seen a single news site in the entire world, except for my own, mention the relentless increase in initial and maintenance margins in gold and silver futures contracts (the 100-oz gold futures contract and the 5000-oz silver futures contract) for the past two months, in a desperate attempt to knock long positions out of the game and thereby prevent an increasing amount of physical delivery requests.

Just recently, the CME raised margins yet again for 100-oz gold futures contracts to $9,185/$8,350 for initial/maintenance margins, representing a massive 86% increase in margins, and for 5000-oz silver futures contracts to $9.900/$9,000 for initial/maintenance margins, representing a gigantic 73% increase in margins, in just a couple months’ time. Normally, such relentless increases in initial/maintenance margins in gold futures markets is sufficient to prevent physical gold supply problems from afflicting futures markets, but the fact that even this reliable manipulation mechanism failed recently is a sign of additional tectonic earthquakes to come in the global financial system.

However, as you can see for the data I have compiled for the behavior of issues and stops for client and house accounts for bullion banks in gold and silver from December 2019 to March 2020, this pattern of normal behavior, in which bullion banks take advantage of their own artificially manufactured paper gold and silver price plunges to load up on physical metals at the expense of their clients, has strongly reversed during this four-month time span. I have only included data for the major gold (100-oz) and silver (5000-oz) futures contracts below and not for the mini gold (10-oz) and mini silver (1000-oz) silver futures contracts. 

Furthermore, I only separated out the bullion banks by name that had several hundred to a few thousand contracts stopped or issued, and compiled all other data under the category of “all others”. For those of you that don’t understand the terminology “stopped” and “issued”, the categories refer to the number of delivery notices that were “issued” (short positions issuing notification that underlying gold/silver would be delivered) and “stopped” (long positions receiving a delivery notice).

Therefore, when delivery notices are “issued” in house accounts, the issuing bank is on the hook for delivering the physical ounces associated with the underlying contracts. On the contrary, when notices are “stopped”, then the stopping bank would receive notification of the future delivery of the physical ounces associated with the underlying contracts. The same holds true for client accounts. Thus, all bullion banks desire more stopped than issued notices for their house accounts, and desire more issued versus stopped notices for their client accounts. This way they accumulate more physical inventory during artificially engineered paper price crashes.

As you can see, the massive engineered drop in paper silver prices versus the massively higher physical silver prices for the past month backfired on the bullion banks, as it led to a frenzy of clients asking for physical delivery, whereas in the past, bankers had been able to chase client long positions out of the market without ever being on the hook for physical delivery. Thus the amount of contracts stopped versus issued for clients was nearly break even for silver futures contracts, a pattern I have not witnessed in a long time during a banker raid on paper silver prices.  And in regard to house accounts, under past similar circumstances, I had always observed JP Morgan bankers taking a tremendous amount of physical silver delivery during engineered collapses in paper silver prices. However, during the last four months, this situation did not materialize, perhaps due to the stress on physical stores of silver created by so many clients asking for physical delivery. As you can see in the data I complied above, this time around, JP Morgan bankers were nearly absent in taking physical silver delivery for their house account.  In fact, for the bullion bank house accounts, the amount of stopped versus issued contracts, net, was only 74 contracts, or a mere 395,000 AgOzs for their House accounts. As a basis of comparison, during similarly engineered collapses in paper silver prices in the past, JP Morgan alone was able to accumulate and take delivery of many millions of physical silver ounces.

In regard to real physical gold delivery, the situation was even worse for bullion bankers than their situation with real physical silver delivery, which likely has given rise to physical gold supply problems at the current time. In their client accounts, physical delivery requests exploded, with the net (stopped minus issued) totaling 8,095 contracts representing 800,950 AgOzs of real physical gold requested for delivery. In their house accounts, the bullion banks were unable to yield a positive net situation either, with issued contracts exceeding stopped contracts by 6,107 contracts, representing 610,700 AgOzs.  Thus, when adding these two figures together, the bullion banks are on the hook for delivering more than 1.4M AgOzs.

This unexpected demand on bullion bank physical gold reserves has undoubtedly led to a disruption of physical gold delivery associated with the gold futures markets, though various COMEX spokespeople have claimed there is no shortage of physical gold whatsoever, and that the disruption of delivery is simply due to a disruption in the supply chain caused by the coronavirus pandemic, i.e., when in doubt, blame the coronavirus pandemic for all manifested stresses revealed in the global financial system. Earlier, here, on 24 February, I speculated, well before US stock markets started to crash, that the coronavirus pandemic would be scapegoated for the market crash, and I was 100% right.  Is it possible that the coronavirus pandemic is now being scapegoated for shortages of physical gold as well?

Oddly, a gold analyst, Ole Hanson stated in response to the shortages of gold physical supply in the futures markets: “There is plenty of gold in the market, but it's not in the right places. Nobody can deliver the gold because we are forced to stay home." The explicit function of COMEX warehouses is to store the physical gold that backs gold delivery associated with gold futures contracts. Consequently, why is the physical gold “not in the right places” and in these warehouses, as if it is stored where it is supposed to be stored, and the data is accurate (1.76M registered AuOzs and an additional 6.98M eligible AuOzs in COMEX warehouses as of 26 March 2020), there should be no physical gold shortages to meet physical demand right now? Did Mr. Hanson, in his statement that gold is “not in the right places” unwittingly reveal that the reported COMEX warehouse data is fraudulent?

Secondly, some would suggest that ever since the COMEX mandate that paper gold could be used to close out physical delivery requests through EFP (Exchange For Physical) transactions by Exchange Rule 104.36 enacted on February 18, 2005, which allowed for the substitution of gold ETFs for physical gold, that no physical shortage of gold could ever result.

Since paper was allowed to replace physical, could not bullion banks just literally “paper over” any physical supply deficit? And if the answer to this question is yes, then why is the COMEX experiencing physical shortages of gold right now? Well, as I explained in an article that I published on my news site in June 2011, in which I explained how EFP transactions operate (which you can read here), “the Related Position [Physical] must have a high degree of price correlation to the underlying of the Futures transaction so that the Futures transaction would serve as an appropriate hedge for the Related Position [Physical].”  Consequently, since there has been a massive price decoupling between physical and paper gold prices, perhaps this price decoupling has enabled the underlying holder of longs in gold that asked for physical delivery to reject any EFP transaction, since there is no longer a “high degree of price correlation” between paper and physical gold, and to insist on physical gold delivery with no substitution for this request. And this rejection of EFPs and EFS (exchange for swaps) as acceptable behavior is perhaps what is causing the physical gold supply problems in the futures markets right now.

Tyler Durden

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 19:35

There's no Huawei a virus can stop us! 90 per cent of our staff in China are already back at work says CEO

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And ready to build the stuff that the rest of the world needs to stay online during the CoronaCrisis

The vast majority of Huawei's employees are back to work following nationwide shutdowns implemented in response to the coronavirus outbreak in China.…


If there's something strange in Symantec's neighborhood, who you gonna call? Not Broadcom, it seems: Systems go down, cut off customers

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And now back on their feet after global two-hour wobble

Symantec customers, or rather Broadcom customers these days, were taken offline for a while on Wednesday when the security service's data centers around the planet went down.…


There's no Huawei we're taking this lying down: Chinese mobe maker denies US govt racketeering charges

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Discovery in this case could get very interesting indeed

Huawei has pleaded not guilty on Wednesday a New York court to Uncle Sam's charges it robbed, racketeered, and wire frauded itself to technology success.…


"There's No Pollution" - NASA Satellite Images Expose China's "Production Has Resumed" False Narrative

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"There's No Pollution" - NASA Satellite Images Expose China's "Production Has Resumed" False Narrative

We first pointed out the reality of China's 'official' return to production as a false narrative two weeks ago.

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t-variant-east-asian: inherit; font-weight: 400; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 13.1px; line-height: 1.3; font-family: lucida_granderegular, "Lucida Grande", Verdana, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(61, 61, 61); letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial;">The key takeaways were:

  • The start of the new year normally sees higher pollution across China due to higher coal/fuel consumption for heating and resumption of industrial production after Chinese New Year.

  • Guangzhou, Shanghai and Chengdu see a clear pattern – air pollution is only 20-50% of the historical average. This could imply that human activities such as traffic and industrial production within/close to those cities are running 50-80% below their potential capacity.

And now, thanks to satellite images published by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), we have further confirmation that nothing is back in China.

As The Epoch Times' Katabella Roberts writes, the images show a dramatic drop in levels of air pollution over China following the outbreak of the new coronavirus, which forced the shutdown of industry and transport.

Images taken by pollution monitoring satellites compare air quality between Jan. 1 and Jan. 20 with air quality between Feb. 10 and Feb. 25, and show a significant decrease in nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a toxic gas that gets into the air from the burning of fuel from vehicles, power plants and factories.

According to NASA scientists, the reduction in NO2 pollution was first apparent near Wuhan, which shut down transportation going into and out of the city, as well as local businesses by Jan. 23, in order to reduce the spread of the disease.

NASA said there is evidence that the change in air pollution is “at least partly related to the economic slowdown following the outbreak of coronavirus.”

“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” research scientist Dr. Fei Liu said.

However, scientists also noticed the reduction in the toxic gas also spread across the rest of China and coincided with the Lunar New Year celebrations in January, which they said usually sees businesses and factories close from the last week of the month to celebrate the festival.

"This year, the reduction rate is more significant than in past years and it has lasted longer," Liu said.

"I am not surprised because many cities nationwide have taken measures to minimize spread of the virus."

Additionally, researchers have not seen a rebound in NO2 after the holiday and noted that in 2020, the reduction rate is “more significant than in past years and it has lasted longer.”

Of course, we only need to look at the collapse in the PMIs to know nothing is back... yet. And hope for any v-shaped recovery should be rapidly discounted as not coming anytime soon.

On the bright side, Greta must be cheering the deadly Covid-19's spread across the world.

Tyler Durden

Sun, 03/01/2020 - 16:05

US court responds to Chinese comms giant sueball: There's no Huawei we're lifting ban on federal agencies using your kit

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Firm told: Contracting with Uncle Sam is a privilege, not a right

An American court has rejected Huawei's constitutional challenge to a US law that bans federal agencies and contractors from buying and using the Chinese firm's telecoms equipment.…


China Claims 95% Of SOEs Have Restarted Production. There's Just One Problem...

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China Claims 95% Of SOEs Have Restarted Production. There's Just One Problem...

According to Ren Hongbin, China's vice director of state-asset regulator Sasac, more than 95% of SOEs in oil, petrochemical, communication, power grid and transport sectors have restarted production despite coronavirus outbreak, with the most severe virus impact in civil aviation and tourism sectors.

Ren reassured the world that the impact of

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the virus was "temporary" and China will maintain its operational targets for SOEs.

There's just one problem with all of this... real - un-manipulated - data exposes it as a total lie.

If 95% of SOEs are back in business, how are people getting to work if there is no congestion?

If 95% of SOEs are back in business, how are people getting to work since they are not using trains?

If 95% of SOEs are back in business, how are they powering their plants... because they're not using coal?

And finally, if 95% of SOEs are back in business, how are they doing that without producing any polluting emissions?

A miracle - the Chinese economy is back but using no power and producing no pollution!

So, either Greta will be jubilant at China's newfound emissions efficiency - or it's just another massive lie by the CCP desperate to maintain the illusion that everything's under control.

Oh and if that's not enough for you to see straight through China's lies, remember that 760 million Chinese - about half the population - remain on lockdown.




Tyler Durden

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 17:10

"There's Always A Bubble In The '20s": These Are The Top Bull And Bear Arguments

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"There's Always A Bubble In The '20s": These Are The Top Bull And Bear Arguments

Earlier today we discussed why BofA's chief investment strategist, Michael Hartnett, remains stoically bullish on the market, at least until March 3, when he sees the S&P hitting the nice, odd number of 3,333: as he defines the current period, it is one of  "maximum liquidity, minimal growth", as a result of a firehose of QE liquidity from the ECB, BOJ and t

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he Fed (yes, the Fed is engaging in QE) with "QE annualizing a stunning $1.1 trillion in the past 4 months" even as global central banks have cut rates 80 times past 12 months, in the process "reducing concerns of recession, default, inflation in 2020." One look at the chart below of the correlation between the global liquidity proxy and the S&P500 explains why all the market's fears have been drowned, so to speak, in the past year.

However, the BofA strategist is far less sanguine about what happens after March, when the Fed is expected to start draining its repo liquidity, a process which began this week when the Fed's "emergency" liquidity boost launched in the aftermath of the September repo debacle posted its first shrinkage in four months. It is also why Hartnett believes that "asset upside will be very front-loaded in 2020."

And so, as we approach that moment in 2020 when the Fed's liquidity glut turns from a massive risk tailwind into a headwind, and as the tension between market optimists and pessimists braces for a return, below Hartnett outlines the more interesting bull and bear arguments for risk assets in 2020.

Bulls say…

  • There's always a bubble in the '20s: South Sea Company bubble in 1720s, UK mining stock bubble in 1820s, Dow Jones bubble in 1920s; big overshoot of asset prices (SPX 4,444) possible so long as Fed fixes rates at low & stable levels.

  • There's no inflation: Japanese wage growth YoY in December was negative in both nominal and real terms; this in an economy in which the population declined by 512k last year, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest rate in 30 years, and the assets owned by the central bank ($5.3tn) now larger than Japan GDP ($5.2tn); no inflation in Japan, Europe, US means no rate rises and cheap financing for populist politicians.

  • There's lots of liquidity: central banks net purchases were $92bn in Q3, $326bn in Q4 and are forecast to total $447bn in the next 6 months; global central banks cut rates 80 times in past 12 months, 789 times since Lehman (that's 1 rate cut every 3½ trading days).

  • There's the Great Rotation: for all the bubbly stock market talk, global equities have only just exceeded their 2007 highs versus global bonds, and remain below their 2000 highs versus global bonds; and higher yields can cause Great Rotation from bonds to stocks, credit to commodities, US to non-US, large to small, growth to value, tech to banks and so on.

  • There's an inflection point in profits: BofA Global EPS Growth Model (function of global PMIs, Asian exports, Chinese financial conditions, and UST 2s10s yield curve) forecasts EPS growth of -5.4% in the next 12 months, below consensus of 1.2%; crucially for bulls both forecasts for 2020 EPS are inflecting higher.


Bears say:

  • Impotence rising: equities are at highs & spreads at lows, but volatility in fixed income (MOVE Index) and equities (VIX Index) has crept higher in recent quarters despite renewed QE; higher risk prices and higher volatility a precursor to end of bull market.

  • Inequality rising: S&P500 ended 2010s in longest bull market of all-time, & just 7% away from becoming the largest (3498); the absolute gains in stocks and bonds mean that the value of US financial assets (Wall St) grew to over 5.5x the size of US GDP (Main St) by 2019E, another all-time high; further Wall St gains, particularly via stock buybacks, increasingly politically unacceptable (note past 5 years 20 S&P500 companies spent $975bn on stock buybacks, that's $381,000 for every person they employ).

  • Inflation rising: US wage growth exceeds unemployment rate for first time since 2000, has historically coincided with big steepening of the US yield curve either because of inflation, defaults, or recession (Chart 7); note in 2019 US budget deficit surpassed $1tn and US federal government spent $4.4tn, that's $35,500 for every income tax payer.

  • 2020 recovery "priced-in": semiconductor prices are "pricing-in" US ISM of 60, the highest since the financial crisis (vs. 47.2 today - Chart 8); Global FMS profit expectations (Nov/Dec = biggest 2-month jump since May'09) "pricing-in" global PMIs of 55 next 6-months; Global FMS 2020 ISM expectations was 53.5 in Dec.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 18:45


Business Finance


Donald Trump Will Easily Be Reelected: There's Been No Repudiation Of What He Represents and There Won't Be

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Donald Trump Will Easily Be Reelected: There's Been No Repudiation Of What He Represents and There Won't Be

Authored by Anis Shivani via Counterpunch.org,

I predicted well before the last election that Donald Trump would be elected, having felt that way once he rode down that golden escalator with his rapist invective. Ever since he was elected, I’ve also believed he’ll be reelected, more easily this time.

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An illustrative personal anecdote, one of many over the last three years: A creative writing PhD with tons of debt, whose wife happens to be an undocumented Filipina, became mighty angered by the promise of student debt cancelation. What about those who have paid their dues by taking out debt? No doubt he would refuse a blanket amnesty for “illegals” too. His DACA wife paid her dues.

The columnists at the New York Times are all angry at the possibility of decriminalization of border crossings, health care for the undocumented, and abolition of private insurance. They don’t want to do away with Trumpian inhumanity. They want the oppression to continue, but without the transparent rhetoric.

Minus the Trumpian rhetorical overlash, war, empire, violence, hollowness, junk goods, and a junk life are all the people have ever known and all they want.

Historical movement in long cycles can’t be short-circuited, as we can see in the resistance of the liberal elites toward Sanders, the only candidate who could beat Trump, versus the stampede toward Warren, who provides a safe alternative, and would surely lose.

But what kind of a fascist doesn’t start a war in three years? Trump doesn’t need war, because he has brought the war home by making us confront our emptiness directly. He is the catalyst we needed at this time, and he is fulfilling his purpose beautifully. America is exhausted, which the liberal elites don’t get.

Trump keeps making noises about Iran, but he hasn’t actually done it yet. His pullback at the last moment, when the bombers were supposedly already on their way, is a trope that makes sense to a lot of people. We could have, in a science-fictional world, the repetition of this particular action—pulling back from the brink, the antithesis to Strangelovian irrevocability—day after day, and it would be the right psychotropic drug to rouse us.

And what kind of a huckster is he? He constantly keeps changing his mind, which is not a character flaw, but the essence of his “deal-making.” America can’t find a better deal—from the New Deal to the Fair Deal to the imaginary Green New Deal, a landscape of lost opportunities and blighted dreams—so contingent honor, betrayed promises, and infinite self-cancelation constitute the only kind of deal-making possible. And unlike The Apprentice there can be no winner at the end, while the rest get fired, because the endless prevarication—saying two things at the same time, often diametrically opposite—is what constitutes deal-making. We’d better get used to it: it is the welcome end to a century of liberal social planning.

To be totally adrift, he’s saying and resonating mightily, is to have total freedom. The empire embraces its most recent eruption of vulgarity, barbarism, and eco-destruction as a welcome development—at least the dispossessed do, if not the meritocrats. To move beyond the dead language of liberal political correctness, which all of the Democratic candidates suffer from, is a great service. He is preparing us for the imminent turmoil of the coming decades—concluding at last in secession and fragmentation by mid-century—with the kind of language the empire needs now. He’s reading history well, only too well, far better than his ideological opponents, the neoliberal globalizers or the democratic socialists.

Not one of his opponents is prepared to say that power is America—brute, unforgiving, no-second-chances power. This kind of power requires a base removed from liberal education. He reforms language every day, in his tweets, which emanate from our deepest unconscious, such as when liberal stand-up comedians turn out to be racists and mysogynists in their revealing moments.

As we prepare for the age of brutality, he’s telling us—as the Times columnists confirm every day in the limits they impose to compassion—that the recent gloss of multicultural tolerance, in the Reagan/Clinton/Obama years, was the final fantasy. His border wall seeks to literalize the walls of segregation and inequality that have been going up relentlessly all throughout the interior. He won’t start wars of humanitarian liberation, because that was the foreign aspect to the domestic malevolence passing as tolerance.

Jeane Kirkpatrick counseled in the 1970s that we could work with good authoritarians around the world but not socialists. Trump’s affection for Modi, Bolsonaro, Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Mohammad bin Salman is nothing new. It is how we have always operated, even in the halcyon days of Kissinger’s détente, when we violently crushed democracy in Chile and elsewhere, or under the spiritual Carter, when we trapped the Russian bear in Afghanistan, much to Brzezinski’s delight.

Trump doesn’t want to restart history, to repudiate Francis Fukuyama, or Bill Clinton. Nor does he want to start a clash of civilizations, to validate Samuel Huntington, or Bush Jr. He is content with leaving history alone, which seems natural, coming so soon after Bush Jr.’s counselors, who wanted full spectrum dominance. The deal, as Trump sees it, is ever-changing, immune from textual recreation, legal solidity, constitutional affirmation.

What is his obsession with China then? China for the last three decades has been a management consultant’s dream come true. Trump is not playing a zero-sum game, a chessboard called economic nationalism, with China. With him we move beyond oligarchic nationalism or even democratic fascism. China helps construct a total vacuum of thought reaching even beyond the vulgarity of trashy American consumerism. We no longer want their tacky goods. We want the Harley-Davidsons back—or not, it’s okay if they don’t come back. If we can’t recall manufacturing, and we leave world trade, then we are thrown upon a manly ideal, where we make things and do things for ourselves, except that Trump and his followers know that that ideal is well past reach, going out of fashion with the rise of consumerism precisely a century ago.

The 2020s: an exact reversal of the rise of optimistic consumerism in the 1920s. History does have its symmetries, if you know where to look. The end to advertising, news broadcasting, modernist propaganda, the religion of self-help and therapy, physical fitness, institutionalized spying, and technological utopia.

His attack on the media, the breathing tube for an empty liberal consumerism that died long ago, is the most welcome move to his fervent supporters. You can’t believe a word you see. You have to create your own reality, which the Internet helped bring about starting in the 1990s. Consider the real scandal of Joe Biden’s son’s corruption, already noted matter-of-factly in leading newspapers, versus the impeachable scandal of just talking—airing out possible deals to land political opponents in trouble. Torture, assassination, deportation, and ecocide are all within the pale, for the resistance, for those who would like to replace him with an acceptable alternative who will take empire back to where it was.

But it’s not going to happen, because he never was the bearer of a virus, which implies something alien. He is the perfect mirror, just as Nixon followed Johnson, Reagan followed Carter, and Bush followed Clinton, in performing not so much an oscillation but an exaggerated return to form. Empires, heavy and difficult to maneuver, don’t engage in circular or sideways motions. Trump is the accelerant to the end point empire needs now, just as Reagan and Bush served their functions earlier, and in that sense he is a true man of the people. You don’t beat a man of the people electorally, you just don’t.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 22:25




Understanding Why There's No FBI Whistleblowers Outlining Institutional Corruption

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Understanding Why There's No FBI Whistleblowers Outlining Institutional Corruption

Authored by 'sundance' via TheConservativeTreehouse.com,

To understand why there’s no-one in the administrative mid-tier of the FBI acting in a whistle-blowing capacity requires a background perspective looking at the totality of corruption.  The institutions are protecting themselves; and yes, that protection applies to the internal dynamics.

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Former DAG Rod Rosenstein was dirty.  He might not have started out dirty, but his actions in office created a dirty mess.  Rosenstein facilitated the McCabe operation against Trump during the May 16th, 2017, White House FBI sting against Trump with Mueller.  Rosenstein also facilitated the special counsel (writ large), and provided three scope memos to expand the corrupt investigation of President Trump.  According to the inaction of AG Bill Barr, we’re not allowed to see those authorizing scope memos.

Additionally, despite knowing the Trump investigation held a false predicate, Rosenstein signed the 3rd renewal of a fraudulent FISA application.  Worse yet, even if Rosenstein was caught up by corruption around him, he did nothing to stop the fraud once identified.

Why is Rosenstein a key inflection point?  Because Rod Rosenstein recommended current FBI Director Christopher Wray to President Trump.  POTUS then allowed Wray, as he does all department heads, to select his deputy – Wray chose David Bowditch.

Keep in mind the National Security Division of the DOJ (DOJ-NSD) was/is the epicenter of many corrupt activities, including filing the fraudulent FISA application, manipulating interpretations of law for FARA (§901) violations, and doing all of this while denying any inspector general oversight. As FISA Judge Rosemary Collyer recently noted, the DOJ-NSD is positioned as a rogue legal arm of the U.S. intelligence apparatus.

FBI Director Wray selected the former head of DOJ-NSD to become the lead lawyer for the FBI, chief legal counsel Dana Boente.

So from Rosenstein we got: Chris Wray, David Bowditch, Dana Boente and another dubious DOJ recommendation, DC U.S. Attorney Jessie K Liu (ref. Awan Bros and James Wolfe).  Keep this in mind moving forward.

Another career corrupt-o-crat to come out of the DOJ-NSD, who was also involved in the fraudulent legal filings was the lead lawyer for the division, Michael Atkinson.

Atkinson was moved from DOJ-NSD to become the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG).  Yes, the same IGIC who manipulated the rules and regulations to allow the hearsay Ukraine CIA “whistleblower”, Eric Ciaramella.

What we end up with is a brutally obvious, convoluted, network of corrupt officials; each carrying an independent reason to cover their institutional asses… each individual interest forms a collective fraudulent scheme inside the machinery of the FBI apparatus.

The motive behind the DOJ/FBI effort to cover for Senate Intelligence Committee Security Director James Wolfe’s unlawful classified information leaks, is connected to this network and expands into the SSCI Chairman (Richard Burr) and Vice-Chair Mark Warner.

Security Director Wolfe was working on instructions from inside the committee itself; his leak of the FISA application to journalist Ali Watkins was in alignment with the intents/motives of the SSCI in March 2017.   Dirty politicians corrupting staff.

The DOJ and FBI didn’t charge James Wolfe with the leaking of classified information because it would have exposed corruption within the SSCI.  Wolfe was prepared to call the senators in his defense…. this could not be allowed.  The SSCI has oversight over the intelligence community to include the FBI, DOJ, DOJ-NSD, CIA, ODNI etc.

How does all of this corruption come together?….  More importantly how does this level of institutional corruption create the inability of FBI whistle-blowers to come forward?

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is the approver for any nominations for any executive appointed position involving the intelligence community.

If the senate intel committee wants to block the nomination, likely adverse to their interests, they can… simply, they don’t take it up. (See Trump’s attempt to appoint Representative John Ratcliffe as ODNI as an example.)

However, along with approving Wray and Bowditch, the SSCI also approved former DOJ-NSD legal counsel Michael Atkinson to become Intelligence Community Inspector General.  Who would an honest intelligence whistle-blower have to go through?  Dirty Michael Atkinson.

The same dirty Michael Atkinson who was the top legal counsel to the head of the DOJ-NSD when the corrupt DOJ-NSD agency operations were ongoing. See how the whistle-blower block works?

Aligned interests – The Senate Intel Committee uses the placement of Atkinson to block any whistle-blower action that would be adverse to their interests.  Whistle-blowers ain’t stupid, they know what surrounds them.

Senator Mark Warner and Senator Richard Burr are dirty.  So too is ICIG Atkinson, FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI Deputy Director David Bowditch and FBI Legal Counsel Dana Boente.

Robert Mueller was dirty.  Rod Rosenstein was dirty.  All of the special counsel lawyers including Andrew Weissmann and Brandon Van Grack (Flynn prosecutor) are dirty.  Additionally Mueller’s lead FBI Agent David Archey, who was promoted after the corrupt special counsel investigation to be the head of the Virginia FBI field office, dirty.

FBI official David Archey, like ICIG Michael Atkinson, conveniently put into a place where he can run cover for FBI operations that might expose dirty DC and Virgina-based FBI activities.  See how that works?

Try telling me with all we know about the Mueller investigation how anyone on the special counsel assignment was participating in a fraudulent investigation without knowing.

Special Agent Peter Strzok, dirty.  FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, dirty.  FBI Lawyer Lisa Page, dirty.  FBI media spox Michael Kortan, dirty.  James Comey, Andrew McCabe and James Baker, dirty-dirty-dirty.  Fortunately all of these are fired… but what about Supervisory Special Agent Joseph Pientka (SSA1)?  Pientka clearly outlined as dirty by IG Horowitz report on FISA abuse, and yet still employed; still providing cover.

So what exactly does that make Horowitz?  Perhaps lead corruption polisher who comes in willfully blind behind the Bondo application team?

That, all of that, in its brutal totality, is why we have not seen any honest FBI whistle-blowers come forward.

There’s no-one for them to blow the whistle to…

Every day we spend outraged about what the DOJ and FBI did in 2016 and 2017, is one less day that AG Bill Barr is not being held accountable for all of this current DOJ and FBI corruption that stares him in the face when he brushes his teeth each morning.

If we had a functioning Fourth Estate none of these corrupt officials could survive investigative media scrutiny.  Unfortunately the corrupt administrative state doesn’t *play* the press, it actually involves the press…. it absorbs the press… it attaches the press viability to its own position…. it makes the press part of the corrupt process.

The press cannot turn against the corrupt administrative state without exposing their own culpability, participation and lack of credibility... It's a protective circle.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 12/27/2019 - 23:05

$3 Billion, 300-Acre MegaCity Envisioned For California's Record Homeless... But There's A Twist

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$3 Billion, 300-Acre MegaCity Envisioned For California's Record Homeless... But There's A Twist

Ask any San Franciscan what the state of California has an excess of and the most likely answer will be homeless people (and their excrement, especially with the liberal mecca recording as many as 16,000 "feces complaints" in one week ). Actually, ask just about anyone and the answer will be the same: after all with 130,000 homeless, California is now home to more tha

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n a quarter of the nation's homeless population.

That all may soon change, however, if a new crowdfunding effort succeeds in its effort to solve the US homeless crisis by building a 300-acre city open exclusively for those without a home. Daune Nason, founder of the Folsom-based Citizens Again, released details Thursday of his plans for an estimated $3 billion private city equipped with amenities and services for a 150,000 “high-needs” population, CBS LA reports.

Artist's impression of the Citizens Again "Homeless City"

“Qualified citizens” – those who meet as-yet undisclosed criteria – will be allowed to live in the city and are free to leave whenever they wish, says Nason, who adds, “Some might want to stay forever.”

According to a press release, the all-inclusive city which hopes to overtake San Francisco as the mecca of America's homeless, will offer high-density housing in dormitories consisting of sleeping quarters and communal bathrooms with private showers. Additionally, residents would be provided RFID-enabled wristbands to be tracked constantly gain access to their dorm rooms as well as perform tasks such as job check-in, purchasing items with credits, medicine consumption, and more.

In describing his vision, Nason says that each of the four neighborhoods will have their own cafeteria and kitchen and multiple scheduled eating times to accommodate a 150,000-person population. And since the homeless are probably not best known for their ironclad work ethic, the neighborhoods will also be fitted with tiered seating for residents to watch TV in "a community setting" within their neighborhood.

According to the Citizens Again website, other aspects of the homeless city will include:

  • Hospitals

  • Dental and Vision Services

  • Mental Health

  • Movie Theatres

  • Bowling Alleys

  • Sports Courts

  • Hotels for visiting family

  • Dog parks and kennels

  • Perimeter staff housing

  • Job Training

  • GED certificates

  • Housing & Job Placement

TV Pods are semi-enclosed rooms with tiered seating for citizens to watch TV in a community environment within their neighborhood. Each TV Pod will play a unique channel, giving the entire 1-acre floor many viewing options.Citizens will scan their Wristbands through Access Turnstiles to gain entry to their residential building, their dorm rooms, and venues, as well as perform tasks such as job check-in, purchase items with credits, check their daily schedule, account for meals, log medicine consumption, and more.Dorm rooms are similar concepts to college dorm rooms and sleeping rooms in long-distance passenger trains: they're a safe, comfortable place to sleep and rest. Tunnels under the City will be used to minimize disruption of Citizen life. Deliveries and logistics can be performed without clogging city streets; city workers can quickly get to job sites; and infrastructure maintenance and upgrades can be performed without tearing up paved city streets Citizens live in the dorms, which consist of sleeping rooms, and communal bathrooms with private showers. Each building consists of 16 floors, 5 wings per floor, with 40 rooms per wing. That equates to 3,200 rooms per building.

As part of his plans for the homeless mecca, Nason also envisions building underground tunnels by which deliveries can be made and city workers can commute to job sites in order to “minimize disruption of citizen life." And when those living in the city are prepared to leave, they’ll be provided with job and life skills training along with counseling and therapy, Nason said although it was unclear if the tree will also be growing Magic Money Trees that fund all these lofty civic goals.

Proposed city map

“It will be a city they’ll want to live in, a community they’ll want to be part of, and for those that desire, an opportunity to gain life skills to integrate back into society,” according to the Citizens Again website.

Or maybe it won't be, and the whole homeless city "vision" is just a giant online fundraising scam.

Consider this woke, noble mission statement that Nason has proudly penned on his $50,000 gofundme campaign:

A new and unique solution for every chronic homeless adult is coming.

For decades, our government has been building small shelters all across America to house our chronic homeless. But at the current placement rate, it will take about 200 years to house them all.

It’s time to think differently: instead of building 4,000 more shelters, Citizens Again will build 1 city, catering towards America’s entire chronic adult homeless population. It will cost billions less than current efforts; be built in about 11 years; and the homeless will want to live there.

... and yet just a few lines below we read:

Launching a crowdfunding campaign during the holidays is not ideal, but I have no choice. By not taking a salary for the last few years, I have exhausted all financial means to get this project launched, and I am now many months behind on my mortgage payment and all bills, with no cash or credit left. Every donation - and clicking the share button - truly matters for this project, myself, my family, and eventually for the people I’m trying to help

How appropriate that one man's noble "vision" for a homeless city is nothing more than a giant online pandhandling campaign, one which has so far raised $570 of the $50,000 goal to make Nason's life more palatable.

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/21/2019 - 20:00

If there's somethin' stored in a secure enclave, who ya gonna call? Membuster!

logicfish Security theres somethin stored secure enclave gonna call membuster All https://go.theregister.co.uk   Discuss    Share
Boffins ride the memory bus past Intel's SGX to your data

Computer scientists from UC Berkeley, Texas A&M, and semiconductor biz SK Hynix have found a way to defeat secure enclave protections by observing memory requests from a CPU to off-chip DRAM through the memory bus.…


Elon Musk Claims There's Already 187,000 "Orders" For Tesla's Cybertruck

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Elon Musk Claims There's Already 187,000 "Orders" For Tesla's Cybertruck

With such an impressive unveiling that included audible laughter from the audience and two broken windows, it should come as no surprise that Elon Musk fanboys are falling all over one another to throw their money at their "visionary" savior. 

And this seems to be exactly what's happening. That is, of course, if you believe Elon Musk.

Musk claimed

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yesterday that there were already 146,000 "orders" for Tesla's new Cybertruck. Of course, what Musk meant to say was "pre-orders" or "reservations", and not actual orders. We wonder if Musk's court ordered Twitter-sitter had a chance to approve that Tweet before Musk put it out. 

Today, he claims there are 187,000, meaning the reservations would amount to about $18.7 million in refundable $100 deposits.

And customers obviously have to take additional steps after pre-ordering the Truck. According to Tesla:

“After you submit your completed pre-order and the options you selected become available in production, we will invite you to complete the configuration of your Vehicle. We will then issue you the Vehicle Configuration and Final Price Sheet based on the base price of the model and any options included or that you select.”

Lest we forget Tesla, which also has a couple of additional steps of its own that it needs to take - you know, like actually manufacturing and producing the truck. 

But the fact that almost any millennial living in his or her mothers' basement can scrounge up $100 for a refundable deposit didn't seem to bother the pro-Tesla scholars over at electrek, who figured it was fair game to extrapolate that all 146,000 of the pre-orders announced yesterday would translate to $8 billion in orders. 

Recall, we covered the sh*tshow that was the Cybertruck reveal in detail late last week. As we said then, "a picture is worth a thousand words".

And here's that picture: a truck with two shattered windows that looks like it rolled out of a dumpster heap at a metal scrapyard, being offered for the low low price of just $39,900. 

We also noted on Saturday that Inside EVs had speculated that 200,000 Cybertrucks had already been reserved. 

Reminding its readers that the Model 3 received over 400,000 reservations and that "trucks are considerably more popular than sedans in the U.S.," the blog speculated that "Tesla could already have over 200,000 deposits" for the Cybertruck. The blog based its prediction on "several people who are tracking Cybertruck interest" and reservations that have been posted on Twitter.


Tyler Durden

Sun, 11/24/2019 - 17:00

Phantom Mania: There's Nothing Of Substance Underlying The Current Market Melt-Up

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Phantom Mania: There's Nothing Of Substance Underlying The Current Market Melt-Up

Authored by Adam Taggart via PeakProsperity.com,

Well, stocks are back at all-time highs. Ignited by the Fed’s “Not-QE” program and endless Trump administration teases of an “imminent” China deal, the S&P 500 has been propelled above its upward Bollinger band — a hyperextension only seen one other time since 2007:


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week since Not-QE was announced has seen the S&P close green (this week finally ending the streak, barely). We’re officially in a melt-up, where both good news and bad news are accepted as valid reasons to push stocks even higher.

But what’s notable about this melt-up is that it’s missing a compelling narrative. Every past asset price mania required a feel-good mantra that convinced the masses “This time is different!”.

The South Sea bubble promised access to the untapped riches of the vast Asian sub-continent. Dotcom companies were going to unlock tremendous value previously trapped by the inefficiency of the old analog way of doing business. In 2017, Bitcoin looked like it just might replace fiat currencies overnight.

During the price melt-ups accompanying each of these manias, the public fell for the siren song of a radically better future, available RIGHT NOW if you just jump on the party train before it’s too late.

But today? What’s the radically better future being promised? Where’s the party train headed to?

A Parade Of Horribles

As best I can tell, it seems the rationale (I’m using that term very generously) for the current market melt-up is that:

  1. The Fed is backstopping the market again

  2. A trade deal with China is going to happen, likely soon

Let’s dig into each of these. But before we do, let’s be clear that neither of these promises a “radically better” future.

The Fed, and its central bank brethren around the globe, have been backstopping the market for the past decade. There’s really nothing new in that.

And resuming friendly trade with China will largely be a restoration of past conditions. While, yes, the drag of the recent trade constraints will be removed and perhaps the US will receive some nice concessions, it’s not like we’ll be gaining a major new trading partner that we didn’t have before.

In short: neither new QE or a China deal is transformative. Manias typically require a transformative narrative as their fuel.

Now, looking at the Fed’s new QE program: how material is it? Well, since the outbreak of the GFC, we know that the central banks have more than tripled the world’s money supply (from roughly $6 trillion in 2008 to $20 trillion today):

And how has that worked out?

Well — hurray! — asset prices (stocks, bonds, real estate, fine art, etc) have shot the moon. Mind you, at the cost of creating the worst-ever wealth disparity in the US, and many other countries as well.

And the main expressed reason for all this liquidity — to goose the global economy back to robust growth, how are we doing there?

Not well. Mission definitely *not* accomplished.

Despite the tens of $trillions created from thin-air over the past decade, of sacrificing prosperity from the future (and not just ours, but our children’s and grandchildren’s) in exchange for growth today, here’s where things stand:

  • China’s economy is now growing at its slowest rate in decades. Industrial production there is actually contracting now.

  • Germany (the engine of Europe) is flirting with recession. Q2 GDP growth was negative. Q3 barely squeaked positive at 0.1%.

  • America’s economy is grinding to a halt. Latest estimates of Q4 US GDP growth are currently at 0.4%

On top of the sour GDP outlook, US companies are officially in an earnings recession, with every quarter of 2019 now projected to be lower than 2018’s.

In theory at least, stocks are supposed to valued based on their prospects for future profits. Do shrinking earnings and an increasingly recessionary global outlook scream “buy stocks now at record prices!” to you? They sure don’t to me.

Now looking over at the China trade talks, what’s realistic to hope for here? The much-touted lets-start-with-the-easy-stuff Phase 1 ‘agreement’ still remains unsigned. And even if it becomes so, it doesn’t address the principal issues at the heart of the trade dispute.

Worse, it’s increasingly being regarded as meaningless. Yale’s Stephen Roach derides it as “hollow”, “flawed” and “ridiculous” with no real value beyond the superficial.

And being honest with ourselves, why would China strike a trade agreement with a president up for re-election in less than a year? He may not be around to hold up his end of the deal. It just makes sense to wait until the dust settles after next November.

And this goes triply when that president currently mired in impeachment hearings. Trump needs the deal done soon much more than China does. Time is on their side, giving the Chinese the lion’s share of the bargaining power here.

Toss in the likely passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act — which is massively offensive to China’s Politburo and already approved by both chambers of the US Congress — and the odds of the Chinese happily agreeing to anything substantive in the near future is about as low as Epstein having hanged himself.

So… ineffectual QE and pitiful odds of anything material happening with China anytime soon. These are our promises of a “radically better” future responsible driving the current market melt-up? This is the rationale for stocks being the most overvalued they’ve ever been?

This doesn’t smell right. All asset price manias end badly. But at least you can understand the psychology that created the mania in the first place.

This time, you can’t even do that. Which leads us to believe that not only will this end badly, but sooner vs later. There’s just not a strong enough party-vibe to power the delusion.

Actions To Take Before 2020 Arrives

Given all the above, the prudent among us should regard today’s hyperextended prices with healthy skepticism. Both history and common sense show us that what can’t sustainably continue — won’t.

Now is the time to prioritize defense and to position your portfolio for safety. And for those with the means and constitution, perhaps to place a few managed bets on lower prices ahead.

Specifically, we recommend everyone reading this ask themselves the following questions:

  1. Is my portfolio sufficiently protected should the market drop 20%+ from here? (our primer on How To Hedge Against A Market Correction will help you assess this)

  2. Do I want to bet against the current melt-up mania? (our recent report Resuming The Crash Position reveals the speculative positions we’re taking to profit should prices reverse from here)

The above questions are timely given today’s extreme market distortion. As usual, we recommend exploring both seriously with your professional financial advisor.

But there are other important questions that are just as timely given the approaching year end.

Every one of us should be in conversation with a professional advisor asking: What smart end-of-year steps I should be taking before Jan 1st arrives?

The “right” answers will depend on your unique personal situation and goals. But common tactics include:

  • Offsetting taxable gains across your portfolio, including the thoughtful harvesting of any unrealized losses and/or use of “carryforward” losses from prior years

  • Deferring tax liabilities

  • If you’re older than 70, are you meeting your Required Minimum Distribution obligations?

  • Charitable giving (and tax-advantaged ways to do this using your retirement accounts)

  • Evaluating whether it may make sense to electively distribute monies out of a retirement account to optimize tax considerations (e.g., to take advantage of a low income tax bracket if your taxable income is uncharacteristically low for the year) and/or to free up funds for more tactical deployment (e.g., in real assets or other investments)

If you don’t have a professional financial advisor whom you feel comfortable discussing these important questions with, consider scheduling a free consultation with our endorsed advisory firm. They have decades of experience helping investors just like you navigate the decision-making process and position your portfolio appropriately given your goals.

Just don’t delay. The end of the year will be here before you know it.

And the inevitable market correction could well arrive even sooner.

Tyler Durden

Sat, 11/23/2019 - 11:30


Business Finance


CLO Slump Sparks Warning: "There's More Volatility Coming"

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CLO Slump Sparks Warning: "There's More Volatility Coming"

It's not just The Fed's short-term liquidity pipes that are clogged up, there appears to be some issues in the loan market, signaled by sharp declines in the $680 billion market for collateralized loan obligations (CLO), which could be an early warning sign that the junk bond market is headed for trouble. 

As President Trump pumps fake trade news, causing the 'Mother

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Of All Short Squeezes' in equity indexes to new highs, the CLO market in October fell 5%.

Source: Bloomberg

The rare decline in the CLO market was a result of the increasing uncertainties surrounding an economic slowdown.

S&P Global Market Intelligence data shows the CLO market has grown by $350 billion in the last three years, now stands at $680 billion, yield chasing investors mostly fueled the increase. 

"We think there's more volatility coming," said Maggie Wang, head of US CLO strategy at Citigroup, who spoke The Wall Street Journal.

"We recommend investors reduce risk and stay with cleaner portfolios and better managers."

This late in the cycle, a plunge in CLO bond prices with equities in parabolic up moves indicates something is wrong. 

The CLO tranches that are experiencing the most stress are in the double-B tranche. These risky CLO securities netted investors 10% through June. But through the end of October, most of the gains were wiped out. 

"If you think that double-B CLOs are giving a warning sign, that says something about high yield," said David Preston, head of CLO research at Wells Fargo & Co. "It's hard to see how both markets can be right."

Data from Palmer Square Capital Management shows Double-B CLO bond yields are about five percentage points higher than the yield of comparably rated junk bonds. 

"The yield differential hasn't been this wide since early 2016, when dropping oil prices sparked a selloff in both leveraged loans and high-yield bonds," The Journal noted. 

Between the chaos in the repo markets, now tamped down by the promise of endless liquidity from NYFRB, and the ongoing scare in the critical-for-junk-demand CLO market, some fear the end of the year could bring a notably negative surprise. 

None other than Credit Suisse's Zoltan Pozsar (the main in charge of market intelligence for securitized credit markets for The Fed in 2008) has a warning...

"There is a very real chance that, if we don't have a better set of pipes from the Fed and a more aggressive QE, then you have a very, very problematic year-end turn."

But for now, record-high stocks and trade-deal optimism are all that matters, right?

Tyler Durden

Mon, 11/11/2019 - 20:05


Business Finance


There's No Stopping The World's Most Politically-Charged Pipeline

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There's No Stopping The World's Most Politically-Charged Pipeline

Authored by Irina Slav via OilPrice.com,

This week, Denmark granted Gazprom approval for its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, a project that is set to bring 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas into Europe annually. It is one of the most controversial pipeline projects in the world and is now moving ahead despite strong opposition from multiple EU me

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mbers and the United States.

The geopolitical tensions surrounding the development of Nord Stream 2 are unprecedented. To begin with, Russia has very poor relations with the Baltic states and Poland, nations who will almost always fight against anything they see as empowering Russia geopolitically. Then there is Ukraine, a nation that is strongly against the pipeline due to its fear of losing the transit fees that it currently charges Russia for exporting gas to Europe. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the United States sees this pipeline as a direct threat to its soft power in Europe as well as a threat to its growing LNG exports.

But for all the politics and attention that this pipeline is attracting, the simple truth of the matter is that Europe, and more specifically Germany, needs this natural gas. Germany plans to shut down all its nuclear reactors by 2022. Many have questioned the wisdom—and some even the sanity—of that decision, but it remains government policy. The generation capacity the is being lost in that sector will need to be replaced, in the short term at least, by natural gas.

Despite its green reputation, Germany is a country that generates a surprisingly large portion of its total energy from coal. Its total installed coal-fired capacity is close to its solar capacity, at 44.9 GW, versus 47.9 GW for solar. At today’s growth rates, it’s current solar and wind capacity will not be enough to replace the retired nuclear plants. The only other option, which would be boosting the share of coal in the country's energy mix, is a political non-starter in Germany. Natural gas is, therefore, the only viable replacement and Germany is fully aware that its gas consumption is set to soar in the coming years.

Now, this gas doesn’t have to come from Russia, of course. It could come from the United States in LNG tankers. In fact, the European Union as a whole earlier this year promised President Trump to double its imports of U.S. LNG over the next five years. But they didn’t make the promise voluntarily. It came in response to a threat from Trump to slap import tariffs on European cars.

One may wonder why the EU, for all its anti-Russian rhetoric and sanctions, and legislative amendments aimed at curbing Gazprom’s role on the European gas market would need the incentive of a tariff threat to diversify away from Russian gas.

The answer is, again, simple. It’s the price.

U.S. liquefied natural gas has to be, well, liquefied first, then loaded on a tanker and shipped across the ocean to Europe. Russian gas runs through pipelines as is. And, even if LNG were there answer, there is Novatek’s Yamal LNG plant that is exporting the liquefied fuel to Europe, which is much nearer Yamal than the Gulf Coast.

Abundant natural gas production and the subsequent low prices have made the U.S. a growing exporter and a force to be reckoned with. Yet producers still want to make profits rather than pump gas for political purposes. Ultimately it all comes down to one simple fact, Europeans pay more for U.S. LNG.

“Given our heavy dependence on imports, U.S. liquefied natural gas, if priced competitively, could play an increasing and strategic role in EU gas supply,” said the European Energy Commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, earlier this year.

The operative phrase is “if priced competitively”, as supported by the statement of a Total official commenting on Trump’s tariff threat at the time.

“We need to create the demand in order to justify these logistics and this investment,” said Total’s president of gas operations, Laurent Vivier in May. “That will come to European policy and setting what role we want gas to play in Europe”.

Ultimately, for all the political posturing and threats of sanctions, the Trump administration and its allies on this matter have never been in a position to stop Nord Stream 2.  While geopolitics are powerful, the fundamentals will almost always win out. If there is demand, supply will follow. The message to the U.S. from Europe when it comes to natural gas is loud and clear, “Make it competitive and we’ll take it”.

Tyler Durden

Sun, 11/03/2019 - 09:20


Business Finance


Sudo? More like Su-doh: There's a fun bug that gives restricted sudoers root access (if your config is non-standard)

logicfish Security sudo more like su-doh theres that gives restricted sudoers root access your config non-standard All http://go.theregister.com   Discuss    Share
All it takes is -u#-1 ... Wh%& t#e fsck*?

It's only Monday, and we already have a contender for the bug of the week.…


US Suicide Rate Hits 50-Year Highs, And There's Concern That It'll Go Much Higher

zerohedge News suicide rate hits 50-year highs theres concern that itll much higher All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
US Suicide Rate Hits 50-Year Highs, And There's Concern That It'll Go Much Higher

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Despite the fact that more money is being spent on suicide prevention efforts than ever before in our history, the suicide rate in the United States continues to rise dramatically.  As you will see below, one new study has discovered that our suicide rate actually increased by 41 p

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ercent between 1999 and 2016.  Even though we have the highest standard of living that any generation of Americans has ever enjoyed, we are an exceedingly unhappy nation and we are killing ourselves in unprecedented numbers.  This shouldn’t be happening, but unfortunately the forces that have taken over our culture have convinced multitudes of Americans that their lives are not worth living any longer.  In a culture where truth has been abandoned, it is easy for lies to run rampant, and it takes a great deal of deception to get someone to willingly choose to embrace suicide.  No matter what you are going through right now, there is always a way to turn things around, and we all have been given lives worth living.

Sadly, the suicide rate in this country has continued to escalate year after year.  According to the Los Angeles Times, 2017 is “the latest year for which reliable statistics are available”, and in that year the U.S. suicide rate hit a 50 year high…

Whether they are densely populated or deeply rural, few communities in the United States have escaped a shocking increase in suicides over the last two decades. From 1999 to 2016, suicide claimed the lives of 453,577 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 — enough to fill more than 1,000 jumbo jets.

Suicides reached a 50-year peak in 2017, the latest year for which reliable statistics are available.

These numbers come from a new study that was just released, and it claims that our suicide rate actually increased by 41 percent between 1999 and 2016…

The researchers evaluated national suicide data collected between 1999 and 2016, then created a county-by-county estimation of suicide rates among all adults between the ages of 25-64. In that time period, suicide rates rose an astonishing 41%; from a median of 15 suicides per 100,000 county residents in 1999 to 21.2 in the last three years of analysis.

And suicide is also a rapidly growing problem among our teens and young adults as well.

In fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of death for Americans from age 10 to age 24.

Everyone goes through very low times, and for many people it can seem like those low times will never end.  But when I was at my lowest points many years ago, I always had faith that better days were coming, even though at the time I couldn’t even imagine the absolutely amazing things that were ahead for me.  The point that I am trying to make is that we simply do not know what the future will hold.  No matter how dark things may seem to you right now, a miracle could literally be right around the corner.

This new study that just came out also discovered that suicide rates are significantly higher in rural parts of the country…

It was noted that suicide rates were at their highest in less-populous counties and in areas where people have lower incomes and diminished access to resources. For example, between 2014 and 2016, there were 17.6 suicides per 100,000 people in large metropolitan counties, noticeably lower than the 22 suicides per 100,000 people recorded in rural counties.

The quality of life in rural areas is so much nicer in so many ways, but there is also a lot of isolation and poverty as well.  Humans are meant to be social creatures, and when there aren’t a lot of people around that can feed feelings of depression.  And if someone is deeply struggling with poverty, it can be difficult to see a way out in an area with few economic opportunities.  According to Brookings Institution research analyst Carol Graham, many Americans living in such areas “see no optimism for the future”…

“These are the places that used to be thriving rural places, near enough to cities and manufacturing hubs,” she said. “They’re places that accord with a stereotypical picture of stable blue-collar existence — and a quite nice existence — for whites in the heartland.”

With the collapse of extractive industries such as coal mining, the departure of manufacturing jobs, and a strapped agricultural economy, “these communities just got flipped on their head,” Graham observed. “And the people in those places became unhinged. You’d have a sense of places where everything has left. And among those who stay, you see no optimism for the future.”

If this is happening now, while economic conditions are still relatively stable, what is going to happen to the suicide rate during the next major U.S. economic downturn?

There is never, ever, ever a good reason for someone to commit suicide, but unfortunately during the next recession we are likely to see the suicide rate rise substantially higher.

Another factor that is resulting in a higher rate of suicide in rural areas is a lack of health insurance…

Last but certainly not least, a lack of health insurance coverage is significantly associated with rising suicide rates in rural US counties.

Specifically, the researchers observed that the more people in a county who didn’t have health insurance coverage, the higher that county’s suicide rate was.

When you are buried in medical bills that you know that you will never be able to pay, it can be exceedingly difficult to envision brighter days ahead.  Our healthcare system is deeply, deeply broken, and this is something that I wrote about on Tuesday.

It is such a tragedy when people choose to end their lives because of financial circumstances, because financial circumstances are always temporary.

No matter how bad things are in your life right now, there is always a way to turn them around.  The best days of your life could still be ahead for you, but you have got to be willing to believe that this is true.

Life is an absolutely incredible gift, and don’t let anyone ever convince you that you should end it.

It has been said that life is like a coin.  You can spend it any way that you want, but you can only spend it once.  I would encourage you to spend it loving others greatly, enjoying each day to the fullest, and doing something that truly matters.

Tyler Durden

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 17:45


Social Issues


Security? We've heard of it! But why be a party pooper when there's printing to be done

logicfish Security security weve heard party pooper when theres printing done All http://go.theregister.com   Discuss    Share
The boss that went rogue and cocked a snook at the corporate policy he wrote

On Call  With the gateway to the weekend upon us, it is time to crack open the On Call files once again to enjoy a tale from one of those brave engineers at the front line of the tech world.…


There's fraud, and then there's backdoor routers, fenced logins, malware, and bribing AT&T staff seven figures to unlock 2m phones

logicfish Security theres fraud then backdoor routers fenced logins malware bribing atampt staff seven figures unlock phones All http://go.theregister.com   Discuss    Share
Pakistani bloke extradited to US, accused of masterminding telco hack caper

AT&T staff were bribed $1m to slip the codes to unlock two million smartphones to a gang operating out of Pakistan, US prosecutors have claimed.…


"There's Not Much Left": Tesla Burns To The Ground In Germany For "No Apparent Reason"

zerohedge News theres much left tesla burns ground germany apparent reason All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share

A Tesla in Germany has gone up in flames and burned to the ground "for no apparent reason" according to a translation of a Stern Newsmagazine article published on Tuesday. 

The Tesla was reportedly in the residential area of Ratingen-Breitscheid when it caught fire, leaving "not much more than a pile of ash" behind.

Police reports said the car "burned out completely" in a parking lot. 

The photos of the car, post-fire, are stunning. 

A local resident reporte

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dly heard a large "bang" during the night, the article says. It continues:

"When he ran into the street to check, he found that a Tesla was burning there, and the man immediately alerted the fire department, which in turn informed the police about the fire."

Emergency services reportedly found a "completely flaming car" when they arrived on the scene and the fire department was able to extinguish the fire eventually. The fire was so big that a BMW located four meters away was damaged from the heat. 

There were no indications of the cause of the fire at the time and investigations are ongoing.


There's Blood On The Streets Of Baltimore, Homicides Flare-Up, Could See Record Year

zerohedge News theres blood streets baltimore homicides flare-up could record year All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share

Out of control gun violence continues to plague Baltimore through mid-Summer, extending a years-long surge in shootings.

As of Tuesday morning, 196 people have been killed, if that was from a gunshot wound, stabbing, blunt force, and or asphyxiation.

Baltimore's revival started in the early 2000s, primarily when Under Armour based their global headquarters in the Inner Harbor. But everything changed when Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was arrested by Baltimore Police and died in police custody in 2015. Riots broke out shortly af

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ter, causing more than $10 million in damage, as cars and buildings burned to the ground, reminding everyone what a mess Baltimore has become.

Since the riots, Baltimore homicides have surpassed 300 each year from 2015 through 2018, and 2019 could soon be one of the worst years ever.

Cumulative homicide trends show 2019 could be following the path of 2017 homicides, which would mean 300-342 murders by year-end.

Homicides ticked higher through spring and have exploded during the summer months. It seems that Baltimore has a gun problem.

A vast majority of the murders occurred in the Southwestern, Western, Eastern, and Northwestern districts (basically the entire city).

Crime statistics published by the FBI ranked Baltimore's homicide rate in 2017, the highest of any large American city. The 342 homicides in 2017 represented a "homicide rate of 56 per 100,000 people."

While homicides in Baltimore continue to gain momentum, killings declined nationally through 1H19. New York City's murders declined 13.5% and Chicago's decline of more than 7%.

Despite being 14x larger than Baltimore, New York has lower overall killings per year.

"I'm not happy about it, and neither should any citizen in Baltimore be happy," Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young said in early July. "It's disheartening to be labeled the most violent city in America."

And with three days (as of Monday) of tweets by President Donald Trump blasting Democratic U.S. Rep. Elijah Cumming for his "disgusting, rat and rodent-infested" Baltimore district," the national debate about race, urban poverty, and homicides becomes mainstream.

What is most puzzling to us is that President Trump continues to tout low black unemployment and the "best economy ever" for these low-income folks, but points out the horrid conditions in Baltimore (something must be amiss in the black unemployment data).

But let's take a step back decades ago, when Baltimore had nearly 1 million in total population back in the late 1950s, ever since, the population has crashed to 100-year lows last year, now around 600,000.

It wasn't Democrats that started the demise of Baltimore, and like many other industrial cities across America, it was the corporate elitist, who reallocated resources and labor out of America over the last five decades to other regions of the world, all to enrich shareholders while American inner cities imploded.

It was the big pharma companies, who in the last two decades pumped millions and millions of legal opioid pills onto the streets of Baltimore - destroying the millennial youth.

Baltimore is a failure of all levels of government, both political parties, after all, it's located just 40 miles north of Washington, D.C.

The more time politicians blame one another, the less time we have in finding productive measures that could lay the groundwork for a potential revival. Coming up with a solution for Baltimore will serve as a blueprint to revive deindustrialized areas across the country. Judging by the progress, this revival is decades out. The "greatest economy ever" is a hoax.

Enjoy reality: "Cause it's ruthless, and don't tell me you're ruthless too. When there is blood on the streets of Baltimore." 


"Where There's Smoke, There's Fire" - Trader Blasts NYFed Williams' "Miscommunication" Miasma

zerohedge News where theres smoke fire trader blasts nyfed williams miscommunication miasma All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share

NY Fed President John Williams screwed up... or did he? Since he "academically" strawman'd a 50bps rate cut - which the market instantly soaked up, priced-in, and looked for moar - a Fed spokesman (and The Fed's Jim Bullard) have since desperately walked-back the comments back towards a preference for a 25bps cut.

This has erased the spike in 50bps rate-cut odds (from 35% to 71% and back down to 35%) and retraced the dollar dump that Williams created...

However, as former fund manager

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and FX trader Richard Breslow, there are important rules governing any sort of effective communication strategy, made all the more important when financial markets are on tenterhooks. One of them is that it’s the responsibility of the speaker to make sure their message was successfully delivered. It’s not on the listener to figure out what, in hindsight, they were meant to hear. Forget that and you are asking for trouble.

Via Bloomberg,

This was one of the first lessons drilled into the heads of people new to a trading floor. And for good reason. Because when it wasn’t observed, things inevitably didn’t end well. And make no mistake, Thursday’s “miscommunication” was perfectly analogous. This wasn’t a case of algorithms gone wild. A lot of very smart people know what they heard. Despite the walk-back, I suspect there remains a number of people who will cling to the notion that where there is smoke, there is fire. Now it remains to be seen what the price tag will be.

It isn’t insignificant that trading volumes were quite high in the Asia session. A lot of interest-rate products changed hands. The early hours of the session saw Treasury volumes running three times normal. It wasn’t just U.S. securities trying to price and reprice themselves. Euribor futures traded at the same time at five times average volumes.

Heading into the weekly close, it’s worth taking a look at various assets to see if there is any lasting technical damage. Although, trading may be sloppy Friday, so I wouldn’t sharpen any pencils too finely. What may complicate matters further is that traders will need to decide whether to reestablish positions that were stopped out. And whether to stick with or head for the hills on new ones. It may not end up being as quiet a day as one would normally expect.

Foreign exchange should have the least difficulty righting itself. The Dollar Index held where it had to. And the euro has so far failed miserably in attempting a topside run. After all, the ECB is unlikely to let the possibility of a more dovish than expected FOMC go to waste. DXY will look very different outside of a 96.80 to 97.15 range. Both doable, and it probably won’t require giving it more room than that to get the lay of the land.

Equities have proven once again the perils of investors trying to stay short. But nothing has really changed for them. S&P 500 would need to get back above this week’s highs or back below Wednesday’s low to really change anyone’s opinion. Although that is probably giving it too much room. At least on the downside.

Emerging-market currencies are more straightforward. And relevant because Thursday’s action put them back into vogue. The MSCI Emerging Market Index has so far topped out almost exactly where it did four times earlier this year. That’s the level to watch. Back below the week’s lows and they too will look different. But, in truth, they don’t look as interesting as they sound.

Ten-year Treasuries have stayed safely within no-man’s land. And none of the very widely agreed upon levels have been tested. The two-year pivot at 1.80% isn’t too far away.

Twos are messy and require a fundamental view to go along with any trades

With gold, traders keep giving up location and paying the price for it. There are lots of bids below and plenty of supply above. Fading extremes is the only way to give yourself a chance of sticking with a position.

As far as Fed funds futures are concerned, I’m not ready to touch them with a 10-foot pole.


There's a reason why my cat doesn't need two-factor authentication

logicfish Security theres reason doesnt need two-factor authentication All http://go.theregister.com   Discuss    Share
A rinky tinky tinky

Windows 10 bug-hunter reveals another 'make me admin' zero-day – and vows: 'There's more where that came from'

logicfish Security windows bug-hunter reveals another make admin zero-day vows theres more where that came from All http://go.theregister.com   Discuss    Share
Vulnerability can be exploited to turn users into system stars, no patch available yet

A bug-hunter who previously disclosed Windows security flaws has publicly revealed another zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft's latest operating systems.…


There's NordVPN odd about this, right? Infosec types concerned over strange app traffic

logicfish Security theres nordvpn about this right infosec types concerned over strange traffic All http://go.theregister.com   Discuss    Share
Firm explains but security folk not appy with clarifications

Weird things are afoot with NordVPN's app and the traffic it generates - Reg readers have spotted it contacting strange domains in the same way compromised machines talk to botnets' command-and-control servers.…


Running Elasticsearch 1.4.2 or earlier? There's targeted malware going for your boxen

logicfish Security running elasticsearch earlier theres targeted malware going your boxen All http://go.theregister.com   Discuss    Share
Yes it's years out of date but there's no such thing as security through obscurity

Cisco's security limb has spotted nefarious people targeting Elasticsearch clusters using relatively ancient vulns to plant malware, cryptocurrency miners and worse – though it does root out some other cybercrims’ dodgy wares, cuckoo-style.…


Cover your NASes: QNAP acknowledges mystery malware but there's no patch yet

logicfish Security cover your nases qnap acknowledges mystery malware theres patch All http://go.theregister.com   Discuss    Share
Anti-antivirus root-rooting weirdness just gets deeper

Taiwanese NAS maker QNAP has admitted its devices are affected by mysterious malware that alters hosts files on infected boxen following The Register's report.…

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