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Inflation To Rise – We expect UK, ECB and US Policy to Diverge

Inflation To Rise – We expect UK, ECB and US Policy to Diverge

Purely for geopolitical reasons, namely frustration at the failure of the governments of individual member states to respond to repeated calls for “structural reforms”, your authors had taken the view in recent months that the ECB might increase interest rates this year.

Our views are changing. The key to variances in interest rate policies is likely to be the 
relative tightness of labour markets in Europe, the UK and the US. In each of these three currency zones, when inflation has appeared (since the Great Financial Crisis) it has confined itself to the product market. Put differently there have been no spill over effects in the labour market. Because inflation has been small and limited to the product market, the impact on central bank policy has been minimal.

UK Interest Rates Should Rise Sharply Owing to Its Tight Labour Market 
John Butler recently wrote an article in The Guardian warning that, owing to several factors, consumer price inflation (CPI) in the UK, mid-January at 1.2%, could soar to 4% this year. Highlighting the base effects of the 20% fall in sterling’s value against the dollar and euro since the Brexit referendum, together with the near doubling of oil prices and increases in the prices of other commodities, he drew attention to the tightness of the UK labour market.

In fact, UK labour costs are rising against a backdrop of stagnant productivity. Noting that workers’ unions are already sabre rattling in limited competition industries such as government, healthcare and transport, inflation has crossed from the product market into the labour market, and it will probably be impossible to contain because, wage increases in a tight labour market have such a strong bearing on product costs, and so commences a spiral. Indeed, the only way to prevent the price level rising to more than double the 2% target is for interest rates to be raised, perhaps sharply.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Unprecedented Moves Towards War With China Would “Upend Supply Routes, Trigger Global Recession”

Unprecedented Moves Towards War With China Would “Upend Supply Routes, Trigger Global Recession”

russia-china-usa

Economic tensions are tipping over into military ones.

Warships have sailed, and the rhetoric of Trump’s officials has shifted dramatically from the previous era.

The larger threat to the petrodollar and the continuance of U.S. hegemony has been put face-to-face with a China gaining in power and confidence, and ready to depose American dominance. It has become bold enough to make fresh claims on territory, and the U.S. has taken it as a call to war.

How much more pressure will this situation take before it explodes into a deadly confrontation? And why is world war three suddenly back on the table?

The Trump Administration is starting off on a highly aggressive posture with China – with taboo calls to Taiwan, loose talk from President Trump (since the campaign trail) about a trade war with China, and now stern warnings from Secretary of State Tillerson about China’s activities in the South China Sea.

It might come off as just a scolding, if not for the huge military assembly surrounding the region, and the unprecedented level of ICBM missile testing and genuine threats/predictions of war to come. Someone clearly means business:

via London Independent:

China has accused Donald Trump’s administration of putting regional stability in East Asia at risk following remarks by the President’s defense secretary that a U.S. commitment to defend Japanese territory applies to an island group that China claims.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang has called on Trump’s administration to avoid discussion of the issue and reasserted China’s claim of sovereignty over the tiny uninhabited islands…

[…]

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Eastern Europe & World War III

Eastern Europe & World War III 

Europe could become the site of a new global war in the East as tensions build there against refugees and the economic decline fosters old wounds. The EU is deeply divided over the refugee issue and thus it is fueling its own demise and has failed to be a stabilizing force. After five days of demonstrations, Romania’s month-old government backed down and withdrew a decree that had decriminalized some corruption offenses. They were still acting like typical politicians and looking to line their pockets. After one month, the people have been rising up saying “We can’t trust this new government.”

On the eastern border of the EU, only a few hundred miles from Berlin as well as Vienna, there is a growing danger that the world will stumble into a global war. The leading cause is primarily stemming from through the incompetence of the politicians in the EU as well as in the East. The EU is more concerned about punishing Britain and trying to hold on to overpaid political jobs that to address the real issues facing Europe, while these seemingly regional disputes in the East are being ignored.

The problem with NATO has been that most members have not paid into the support of NATO that they had agreed to. The USA has been shouldering the majority of the cost of NATO, which would be like the EU funding US military. Then NATO leaders agreed back in 2016 to deploy military forces to the Baltic states and Eastern Poland for the first time and increase air and sea patrols to reassure new allies who use to be part of the Soviet bloc that they would defend them following Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Sends Navy Destroyer Off Yemen Coast As Tensions With Iran Rise

US Sends Navy Destroyer Off Yemen Coast As Tensions With Iran Rise

While there were some hopes President Trump would demilitarize US presence in the Middle East, they are quickly getting dashed with every passing day, and following Trump’s announcement last week he would implement “safe zones” in Syria which would boost US troop presence in the region, on Friday US officials announced they had moved a Navy destroyer –the USS Cole, which in 2000 was infamously attacked by terrorists while on dock in Yemen’s Aden harbor – off the coast of Yemen to protect waterways from Houthi militia aligned with Iran, according to Reuters, citing heightened tension between Washington and Tehran.

More details from Reuters:

The USS Cole arrived in the vicinity of the Bab al-Mandab Strait off southwestern Yemen where it will carry out patrols including escorting vessels, the officials said.

While U.S. military vessels have carried out routine operations in the region in the past, this movement is part of an increased presence there aimed at protecting shipping from the Iran-allied Houthis, they said.

The Houthis are allied to Iran, which is at odds with new U.S. President Donald Trump over its recent test launch of a ballistic missiles. Trump said on Thursday that “nothing is off the table” in dealing with Iran, a day after his national security adviser, Michael Flynn said he was putting Iran “on notice.”

On Friday, tensions with Iran increased further on Friday when the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions on 13 people and 12 entities under U.S. Iran sanctions authority.

Earlier this week Houthi insurgents reportedly attacked a Saudi warship off the western coast of Yemen, causing an explosion that killed two crew members. That incident was part of an escalation in combat on Yemen’s western coast between the militia and the coalition backing the country’s internationally recognized government.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Four Flash Points That Could Trigger World War III: “We Have Not Been This Close To Nuclear War In A Long Time”

Four Flash Points That Could Trigger World War III: “We Have Not Been This Close To Nuclear War In A Long Time”

nukeattack1

As can readily be seen by the current events, the world has not been this close to a nuclear war and World War 3 in a long time.  There are four major flashpoints right now that could easily escalate and ignite a powder keg, transforming from a regional conflict or conflicts into a world war: Syria, the South China Sea, Ukraine, and North and South Korea.  The “reconstruction” of a Cold War-type faceoff, initiated by the U.S. and NATO building up forces in Eastern Europe and facing off against Russia.

A nuclear war will be initiated by an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) detonation over the continental U.S., followed by a nuclear exchange and a war with conventional forces.

As of this writing, the U.S. has “mistakenly” bombed Syrian governmental military forces, causing at least 60 deaths with more than 100 others wounded.  The Russian government is sizzling, especially with the response by (of all people) Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the UN had this to say to the media, as reported by CNN:

“We are investigating the incident.  If we determine that we did indeed strike Syrian military personnel, that was not our intention. And we of course regret the loss of life.”

True humanitarians, all, and especially she, the wife of Cass Sunstein and a true Marxist disciple of the Weather Underground (along with Cass) regrets the loss of life.  The airstrikes occurred just two days before the U.S. and Russia were supposed to have joint airstrikes against ISIS.  As ISIS is a creation of the U.S. State Department and the administration, it seems the U.S. decided to strike their true intended target…the Assad government forces…as it wants to topple Syria, and escalate things with the Russians.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

America Excels in Business of Death

America Excels in Business of Death


Who says nothing is made in the USA anymore? Certainly not the well-heeled denizens of the State Department’s diplomatic corps. And they should know. That’s because they’re stationed on the frontlines of the ongoing battle to preserve Uncle Sam’s dominant market share of the global weapons trade.

Luckily for the Military-Industrial Complex, it turns out that “Made in the USA” inspires a lot of brand loyalty, even if actual loyalty is often a harder sell (paging Saudi Arabia). To wit, not only was America the world’s leading arms dealer in 2014 with $36.2 billion in sales, but it topped that 35 percent surge in sales over 2013 with yet another profitable spike to $46.6 billion in 2015.

President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009. (White House photo)

President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009. (White House photo)

As Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) determined in its recent report on the global arms trade, the United States maintains a commanding “33% share of total arms exports” and is the world’s top seller for five years running. And its customer base includes “at least” 96 countries, which is nearly half of the world’s nations.

A robust 40 percent of those exports end up in the Middle East. Perhaps that’s why the State Department is so darn bullish on the prospects of Uncle Sam’s booming business of selling things that go “boom!”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Media Divides Us With Gorillas to Enable the Crimes of the Government

(ANTIMEDIA) United States — By now, we’ve all witnessed selective outrage in real time — a misdeed, tragedy, or other infuriating item blows up national headlines and almost immediately receives backlash in the vein of, ‘well, why isn’t anyone irate about ___ ?’ It’s as if society has developed not only an odd hypocritical corner on the market of concern, but a notable inability to impassion itself with more than one issue at once.

Dichotomized moral outrage receives an altogether greedy leg up from corporate media. After all, networks understand all too acutely how tragedy drives opportunity — and what better way to cash in on casualty than by capitalizing on ethical wedges people invariably manufacture?

Cleaving division, in fact, comprises the bulk of propaganda. Intense bickering and debate saturate social media, both obfuscating other potentially significant happenings and setting the foundation for further division in the future. If personally invested in passionate disagreement over one issue, people’s resentments linger — prejudicing friends, colleagues, and associates against one another when an equally divisive topic or incident takes place in the future.

Now that we’re about halfway through 2016, having seen this polarity replayed innumerable times, one conclusion can be surmised with a degree of certainty — people simply favor certain things over others. And the examples comprise a list both telling and distressing in scope.

1. Harambe, an endangered western lowland gorilla living in a confined space at the Cincinnati Zoo, died after staff decided extreme measures were necessary to save a hapless four-year-old boy — who inexplicably managed to escape his mother’s notice and slip into the animal’s habitat. When zoo director Thane Maynard faced the media to justify the shooting of Harambe, social media had already amplified the controversy to a feverish pitch.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

America’s Greatest Threat Is Its Crazed “Leadership” And Its Brainwashed Population

America’s Greatest Threat Is Its Crazed “Leadership” And Its Brainwashed Population

A Russian Warning

By Dmitry Orlov, The Saker, Victor Katsap and Evgenia Gurevich

June 02, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – “ClubOrlov” – We, the undersigned, are Russians living and working in the USA. We have been watching with increasing anxiety as the current US and NATO policies have set us on an extremely dangerous collision course with the Russian Federation, as well as with China. Many respected, patriotic Americans, such as Paul Craig Roberts, Stephen Cohen, Philip Giraldi, Ray McGovern and many others have been issuing warnings of a looming Third World War. But their voices have been all but lost among the din of a mass media that is full of deceptive and inaccurate stories that characterize the Russian economy as being in shambles and the Russian military as weak—all based on no evidence. But we-—knowing both Russian history and the current state of Russian society and the Russian military–cannot swallow these lies. We now feel that it is our duty, as Russians living in the US, to warn the American people that they are being lied to, and to tell them the truth. And the truth is simply this:

If there is going to be a war with Russia, then the United States
will most certainly be destroyed, and most of us will end up dead.

Let us take a step back and put what is happening in a historical context. Russia has suffered a great deal at the hands of foreign invaders, losing 22 million people in World War II. Most of the dead were civilians, because the country was invaded, and the Russians have vowed to never let such a disaster happen again.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Guided By Nonsense

Guided By Nonsense

“Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.” — Lewis Carroll

U.S. consumers are at it again.  After a seven year hiatus they’re once again doing what they do best.  They’re buying stuff.

According to the Commerce Department, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), which is the primary measure of consumer spending on goods and services in the U.S. economy, increased $119.2 billion in April.  That marks an increase of 1 percent, and is the biggest one month increase since August 2009…nearly seven years ago.  Indeed, this is quite an achievement.

The consumer, you know, is the primary engine of U.S. economic growth.  Without consumption GDP doesn’t go up; rather, it goes down.  Moreover, in a debt based money system, when GDP goes down the whole financial debt structure breaks down.

We don’t condone it.  Certainly we’d prefer an honest hard money system where savings and investment drives growth as opposed to borrowing and spending.  But our preference has no bearing on reality in this matter.

Still, given the vast array of pretense inherent to a debt based money system, when we hear that PCEs increased by the largest margin in nearly seven years, we take a keen interest.  Naturally, we want to know what’s going on.  Namely, we ask, where’s the money coming from?

Where’s the Money Coming From?

Middle class incomes, the last we recall, scored a big fat rotten goose egg over the last decade.  By this we mean incomes haven’t gone up.  To the contrary, they’ve going down.

Our understanding of this unfortunate situation isn’t based on anecdotes we overheard at the corner donut shop.  Nor is it based on experiences shared by the crusty fellows casting their lines off Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.  Instead, we have hard evidence and solid proof.  Specifically, we point to the distilled findings of Pew Research released earlier this month.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Obama’s Latest Whopper—-Let’s Raise Social Security Benefits!

Obama’s Latest Whopper—-Let’s Raise Social Security Benefits!

“And not only do we need to strengthen its long-term health, it’s time we finally made Social Security more generous and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned,” Obama said in an economic call to arms in Elkhart, Indiana.

Don’t bother to say he must be kidding. After all, our President also claims the disaster known as Obamacare is a roaring success; and that he has created 14 million jobs—-when, in fact, there are fewer full-time, full-pay “breadwinner jobs” in America today than when Bill Clinton scuttled out of the White House 16 years ago.

Still, your don’t have to be even a know nothing about baby-boom demographics to recognize that the words “increase” and “social security benefits” will never again inhabit the same universe. To wit, there are about 50 million persons 65 or over at present, but this number will rise to 80 million by around 2040 and nearly 100 million a decade or two thereafter.

Moreover, as we keeping insisting, there is nothing in the OASDI trust funds except intergovernmental accounting confetti. Every dime that was ever collected from the social insurance taxes, which bring in more than $1 trillion per year in revenue, has already been spent on education grants, Federal salaries, aircraft carriers, cotton subsidies, windmill farms and thousands of other Washington boondoggles.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The FX Mexican Standoff

Theodor Horydczak Lincoln Memorial 1925

There has been quite a bit of talk lately over the need for a new Plaza Accord, something several parties saw happening during this weekend’s G20 summit in Shanghai -hence the term ‘Shanghai Accord’-. (On September 22, 1985 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, France, West Germany, Japan, the US, and the UK signed an accord to depreciate the US dollar vs the Japanese yen and German Deutschmark by intervening in currency markets).

Unless all the G20 finance ministers and central bankers gathered in China are in close and secretive cahoots, though, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen. And that seems to both make sense and not. What those advocating such an accord are calling for is a -large- devaluation of the Chinese yuan (RMB) vs the USD and yen -perhaps even the euro-, but the climate simply doesn’t look ripe for it.

Still, the problem is, if they don’t do it, they open the doors to a whole lot more volatility, unpredictability and losses in the markets. All things that those markets do not want. Because, like it or not, the yuan is overvalued, China’s fabricated trade numbers are increasingly under scrutiny, and a large devaluation could settle things at least for a while.

However, Beijing looks too full of hubris and pride -and inclusion in the IMF basket of currencies is an issue too- to do what seems natural. Lest we forget, no matter how much China seeks to obfuscate the numbers, everybody already knows that numbers like producer prices and exports, and most importantly imports, have seen steep falls, and for a long time too.

China’s oil tanks look as close to overflowing as the American ones, and without those oil imports, who knows who bad import numbers would have looked?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Alternative fuels to replace transportation oil. U.S. House hearing 2012

Alternative fuels to replace transportation oil. U.S. House hearing 2012

[ Excerpts from this 210 page transcript follow ]

MIKE BREEN, Vice President of the Truman National Security Project.   I am also proud to be one of the leaders of Operation Free, a fiercely nonpartisan coalition of over 1,000 patriotic veterans across the country, who stand together in the common belief that our dependence on oil as a single source of fuel poses a clear national security threat to the United States.

To be clear, oil is an immensely important substance to our economy and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Its value goes far beyond its utility as a liquid fuel. Petroleum is a key input in advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, and a host of other applications. Unfortunately, however, a near total dependence on oil as a fuel has eclipsed petroleum’s other contributions. 

Our dependence on oil as a single source of transportation fuel poses a clear national security threat to the nation. 

Our modem military cannot operate without access to vast quantities of oil. 

This lack of alternatives means that oil has ceased to be a mere commodity. Oil is a vital strategic commodity, a substance without which our national security and prosperity cannot be sustained. 

Until and unless we develop alternatives, the United States has no choice but to do whatever it takes in order to obtain a sufficient supply of oil. 

We share that sad and dangerous predicament with virtually every other nation on earth.

Oil is a fungible, globally traded commodity with prices set on a world market. In other words, global supply and global demand set the market and drive the price, not American supply and American demand alone. This has crucial implications for policy. Since any potential increase in U.S. supply must be considered in light of global demand.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Public Is Being Looted By Privatization And Deregulation

The Public Is Being Looted By Privatization And Deregulation

The privatization movement and the deregulation movement have turned out to be failures.

Privatization in Britain under the Thatcher government had its origin in the belief that the absence of incentivized managers and shareholders with a stake in the bottom line resulted in nationalized companies operating inefficiently, with their losses covered by government like the big private banks’ losses today. Thatcher’s government believed that privatizing socialized firms would reduce the UK budget deficit and take pressure off the British pound.

Today privatization is a way that governments can reward cronies by giving them valuable public resources for a low price. When the UK government privatized the postal system, there were news reports that one postal property in London alone was worth the purchase price of the entire postal service.

Privatization is also a way that conservatives, who object to social pensions and national health, can stop “taxpayer support of welfare.” In the US conservatives want to privatize Social Security and Medicare. In the UK conservatives want to privatize the National Health System.

It looks like the UK Conservative government is taking a step in the direction of privatizing the national health system, one of the great social reforms in British history. https://www.rt.com/uk/333270-nhs-professionals-privatized-deloitte/ 

In the US there are advocates of privatizing the national forests. In some ways the forests are already privatized as private timber companies are allowed to “harvest” the trees at favorable prices, and often the government even builds the roads for them.

In the US deregulation has resulted in high prices and poor service. When airlines were regulated, they competed on service. They had spare equipment so that mechanical problems did not mean cancelled flights. Stopovers did not involve additional costs.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Saudi war for Yemen oil pipeline is empowering al-Qaeda, IS

Secret cable and Dutch government official confirm that Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen is partly motivated by an ambitious US-backed pipeline fantasy

Nearly 3,000 civilians have been slaughtered and a million displaced in Saudi Arabia’s noble aerial bombardment of Yemen, which is backed by the United States and Britain.

Over 14 million Yemenis face food insecurity – a jump of 12 percent since June 2015. Out of these, three million children are malnourished. And across the country, an estimated 20 million people cannot safely access clean water.

The Saudi air force has systematically bombed Yemen’s civilian infrastructure in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. An official UN report to the Security Council leaked last month found that the Saudis have “conducted airstrikes targeting civilians and civilian objects … including camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure, such as the airport in Sanaa, the port in Hudaida and domestic transit routes.”

US-made cluster bombs have been dropped on residential areas – an act that even the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon tepidly concedes “may amount to a war crime”.

In other words, Saudi Arabia is a rogue state. But make no mistake. This kingdom is our rogue state.

The US and British governments supplying Saudi Arabia with weapons to be unleashed on Yemeni civilians pretend they are not involved in the war, not responsible for the war crimes of our rogue state ally.

A UK Ministry of Defence spokesperson insisted that British forces were merely advising “on best practice targeting techniques … UK military personnel are not directly involved in Saudi-led coalition operations.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Increasingly Fragile Upper-Middle Class

The Increasingly Fragile Upper-Middle Class

Many of these apparently high incomes are completely absorbed by high-cost upper middle class expenses.

Since the top 10% takes home 50% of all household income, it follows that this top slice has most of the discretionary cash, i.e. net income left after taxes, servicing debt and paying for essentials such as food, utilities and housing.

It also follows that the discretionary spending of the top 10% is supporting much of the economy that is dependent on discretionary spending: tourism, eating out, personal trainers, etc.

The top 10% includes the thin slice of Financial Oligarchy (top .01%) and the top 1%. This skews the income and wealth of the top 10%. But if we set aside the top 1%, the next 10% still earns the lion’s share of household income.

The top .1% can prop up Maserati sales and buy $5 million vacation homes, but there simply aren’t enough super-wealthy to support the U.S. economy. As for the top 1%, they can prop up the local Porsche dealership and pay dock fees at the yacht club, but there aren’t enough of them to support the entire economy, either: around 1.5 million qualify as top 1%.

So that leaves the upper-middle class, the roughly 12 million households that earn a disproportionate share of household income, with the task of spending enough discretionary cash to prop up an economy that depends heavily on consumer spending.

Many of these upper-middle class households are far more financially fragile than their substantial incomes suggest. The vast majority of these high-income households depend on two earners, each making substantial salaries, bonuses and benefits such as 401K retirement contributions.

Many of these apparently high incomes are completely absorbed by high-cost upper middle class expenses. $250,000 a year may look like a lot until you throw in a couple of kids attending private prep schools or college, healthcare costs that aren’t covered by insurance, an enormous mortgage and sky-high property taxes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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