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Blain’s Morning Porridge – June 19th 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge  – June 19th 2019

“You cannot be serious…”

Check out the new Edition of Property Chronicle: https://vimeo.com/342064460 

Oh dear.. Now I am worried. The only positive I can discern is its International Martini Day – Dukes, here we come..

It was a massive Wowser WTF moment on stocks! Donald Trump says he’s having a meeting with Xi and the stock market goes into the stratosphere! Then XI confirms, and its joy unlimited across markets. New records beckon.… Joy unconfined.. What can possibly go wrong? Softbank head Son telling investors it could be worth $1.8 trillion in a few years? (Note to self – sell stocks.) 

On the other side of the pond, it’s a Wow on Bunds…. Spectacular gains y’day taking the 10-year Bund rate to -0.33% after Mario Draghi talked about immediately lower rates, reopening QE and using all the unused A380s Superjumbos to drop wads of money across Yoorp. Spain bond buyers now get a gnat’s crotchet of positive yields, while Italy is just over 2%! Trump immediately tweets branding Draghi an unfair currency manipulator. Draghi looks at the miserable German ZEW and wonders why Donald doesn’t get on an do his own job… (Good to know Trump is on the ball and watching everything… everything.. (Crashing Minor Chords! Note to self – buy Treasuries and Gold).

Meanwhile, the Tories have found something to rally around… kicking Rory Stewart (which, thinking about it, has to be worth trying)… Last night’s televised debate between the candidates was truly terrible. The only positives I could garner was Boris has been stripped of his personality, and Sajid Javid came across measured and even polite. I’d vote for him, but we will never get the chance because most of us are too sensible, young, clever, to be members of the party… Meanwhile, Corbyn looks likely to accept Labour policy will pivot towards a second referendum….

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

Trump Says Tanker Attack Has “Iran Written All Over It” As Tehran Slams US “False Flag”

Trump Says Tanker Attack Has “Iran Written All Over It” As Tehran Slams US “False Flag”

Iran has slammed what it’s mission to the United Nations said are “unfounded and reckless” claims put forth yesterday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accusing Iran of conducting the “blatant” attack on two international oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. Meanwhile President Trump on Friday morning told Fox & Friends that the tanker attacks had “Iran written all over it” and dismissed Iran as “a nation of terror.”

Notably, Iranian officials have accused the US or one of its allies of conducing a false flag operation as part of the “disinformation campaign” to continue its “maximum pressure” which aims at bringing Tehran into the cross hairs of a US-led war.

“The US and its regional allies must stop warmongering and put an end to mischievous plots and false flag operations in the region,” Iran’s mission to the United Nations said.

Issued late Thursday, the statement said further: “Warning, once again, about all of the US coercion, intimidation and malign behavior, Iran expresses concern over suspicious incidents for the oil tankers that occurred today.”

“The US economic war and terrorism against the Iranian people as well as the massive military presence in the region have been and continue to be the main sources of insecurity and instability in the wider Persian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security,” the statement continued.

Iran’s foreign minister also later described the US accusations as “sabotage diplomacy” following his previous comments posted to Twitter saying “Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired” — especially given Iran’s president and the Ayatollah were hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to mediate nuclear deal matters and sanctions relief at the very moment the attack took place

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

Cover-Ups and Truth Tellers

Cover-Ups and Truth Tellers

In a May, 22, 2019 appearance in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump declared that “I don’t do cover-ups.” Various news outlets immediately started to enumerate a long list of bona fide cover-ups associated with the president.

What can one say about this bit of Trumpian nonsense? Can you accuse a person of lying who actually seems not to know the difference between truth and untruth? Trump’s inability in this regard is demonstrated daily, and The Washington Post fact checker puts the running count of presidential lies at 10,111, with no end in sight. When it comes to reality, the president appears to be a malignant version of Walter Mitty

Trump delivering State of the Union address, Feb. 5, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (White House/ D. Myles Cullen)

Unfortunately, Trump’s behavior is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cover-ups. One can surmise that just by virtue of being the head of the U.S. government, the president — any president — must be directly or indirectly associated with hundreds of such evasions. That is because, it can be argued without much paranoia, that every major division of the government is hiding something —particularly when it comes to foreign activities.

Of course, being cover-ups by the government may make them appear acceptable, at least to a naive public. Many of them are rationalized as necessary for the sake of national “security.” And, of course, everyone wants to be “secure,” accepting the notion that “people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

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

Escalating Trade War Signals More Pain For Oil

Escalating Trade War Signals More Pain For Oil

Offshore tanker terminal

Trump backed off his proposed trade war with Mexico in the face of intense pressure from business groups and even his own party, but his faith in tariffs remains unbowed. In fact, Trump may have internalized a lesson that presents further risks to the global economy and to oil markets.

“If we didn’t have tariffs, we wouldn’t have made a deal with Mexico,” Trump said on Monday. “We got everything we wanted.”

The proposed 5 percent tariff on Mexico was suspended because Trump said that the Mexican government agreed to a series of demands to tighten up migration through the country. However, press reports suggest that some of the provisions in the deal, such as Mexico agreeing to buy agricultural goods, are a mirage, while others, such as expanding border security, were agreed to months ago.

Leaving those pesky details aside, Trump was triumphant. Indeed, even though the White House saw pushback from business groups and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, in Trump’s mind the whole episode seems to have reaffirmed his strategy.

With the U.S.-China trade war unfinished, the U.S. President feels emboldened to take a hardline on Beijing.

“The China deal’s going to work out,” Trump said in an interview on CNBC. “You know why? Because of tariffs. Because right now China is getting absolutely decimated by companies that are leaving China, going to other countries, including our own, because they don’t want to pay the tariffs.”

Moreover, he says that the tariffs to date have been successful. “We’ve never gotten 10 cents from China. Now we’re getting a lot of money from China, and I think that’s one of the reasons the G.D.P. was so high in the first quarter because of the tariffs that we’re taking in from China,” he told reporters on Monday. 

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

What Comes After Trump – World War III?

What Comes After Trump – World War III? 

Those who are familiar with my articles would be aware that I am not given to catastrophism or alarmism. But perhaps the time has come to reflect on who will be president after Trump (whether after this or the next term) and what this will mean for relations with Russia and China.

What will the United States’ relations with Russia and China be like when the 46th president of the United States takes office in 2025? This is a question that I often ask myself, especially in light of Trump’s political choices regarding international arms-control treaties (INF Treaty), nuclear proliferation, economic war with China, a financial crisis that is artificially postponed thanks to QE, out-of-control military spending, an increasingly aggressive NATO stance towards the Russian Federation, and continuous provocations against the People’s Republic of China. Where will we end up with after another five years of provocations? For how much longer will Putin and Xi Jinping maintain the “strategic patience” not to respond to Washington with drastic measures?

Let us imagine we are in 2025

The four current global hot spots – Iran, Syria, Venezuela and DPRK – have maintained their resistance to Washington’s diktats and have emerged more or less victorious. Syrian territory in its entirety is now under the control of Damascus; Iran has established enough deterrents not to be attacked; Pyongyang continues in its negotiations with Washington as the reunification of the two Koreas continues along; the Bolivarian revolution still lives on in Venezuela.

Putin is preparing to leave the Russian Federation as president after 25 years. Xi Jinping could see his mandate expire in a few more years. Washington is about to appoint a new president, who in all probability will be the opposite of Trump, in the same way Obama was the opposite of Bush and Trump a reaction to Obama.

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

Top Iranian Diplomat: US Cannot ‘Expect To Stay Safe’

Top Iranian Diplomat: US Cannot ‘Expect To Stay Safe’

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a series of threats over ongoing tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a visit by Germany’s top diplomat who sought to diffuse the situation.

On Monday, Zarif threatened that the United States”cannot expect to stay safe” after initiating an economic war against the Islamic republic in the wake of President Trump’s decision more than a year ago to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal, along with tough sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector. 

“Mr. Trump himself has announced that the U.S. has launched an economic war against Iran,” said Zarif according to the Associated Press, adding “The only solution for reducing tensions in this region is stopping that economic war.”

Whoever starts a war with us will not be the one who finishes it,” he added. 

For his part, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas insisted his country and other European nations want to find a way to salvage the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. But he acknowledged there were limits.

We won’t be able to do miracles, but we are trying as best as we can to do prevent its failure,” Maas said.

However, Europe has yet to be able to offer Iran a way to get around the newly imposed U.S. sanctions. Meanwhile, a July 7 deadline — imposed by Iran — looms for Europe to find a way to save the unraveling deal. –Associated Press

Anger over Israel

At one point during the meeting, Germany’s Heiko Maas angered the Iranian diplomat while discussing Israel. 

“Israel’s right to exist is part of Germany’s founding principle and is completely non-negotiable,” said Maas, adding “It is a result of our history and it’s irrevocable and doesn’t just change because I am currently in Tehran.”

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

Energy Dominance or Flatulence? Shale Drillers Bleed Cash

Energy Dominance or Flatulence? Shale Drillers Bleed Cash

All of President Trump’s foreign policy can be summed up by two themes, making the world safe for Israel and controlling the price of energy.

He calls the latter “Energy Dominance.” And to those who still believe Trump has a plan, these two things are the only ones consistently in evidence.

His reactions to things contrary to his plan, however, are purely limbic.

These two themes converge completely with Iran. Trump wants Iran neutered to force Jared Kushner’s now-delayed again, “Deal of the Century” onto the Palestinians while also taking Iran’s oil off the market to support surging U.S. domestic production in the hopes of taking market share permanently.

Everything Trump does is in support of these two themes while throwing some red meat at his base over China, Mexico and the border. 

It was never his intention to leave Syria back in December, really. Look how easy was it for John Bolton and the Joint Chiefs to convince him to stay because how else would we cut Iran’s exports to zero if we didn’t stop the land route through Iraq?

This is why we’re still harboring ISIS cells in the desert crossing around Al-Tanf at the Jordan/Iraq/Syria border, to stop Iranian oil from coming into the country. 

This feeds right into hurting all of Syria’s allies to strengthen Israel’s position. 

To paraphrase the song from Aladdin, “It’s stupid, but hey, it’s home.”

If the average Trump voter truly understood the lengths we are going to starve the Syrian army from having enough energy to finish wiping out the Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Idlib and Homs provinces they would burn their MAGA hats and stay home next November.

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

Gold Makes Its Grievances Heard

Gold Makes Its Grievances Heard

gold-dollar-trap

Gold is getting its revenge. Try as he might Mr. Tariff Man can’t dominate all the headlines all the time. Everyone once in a while something more important than the Trump Man-Baby Show should take center stage.

Gold has moved more than $50 in just under three trading sessions, blowing past near term resistance and, more importantly, reminding everyone just how quickly the reserve asset of the world economy can call bullshit on the proclamations and machinations of the morons who think they run the world.

You always know when you’re reaching the end of a bear market. 

Last week I tweeted out:

I think we’re reaching Peak Gold Bearishness. If the dollar is an attractive safe-haven asset, which it isn’t, just a necessary evil after a decade of ZIRP, then of course this will weigh on gold. That doesn’t mean demand isn’t there.https://seekingalpha.com/news/3467311-gold-longer-attractive-complacent-market-says-wells-fargo-analyst#email_link …25:22 PM – May 28, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacyGold no longer attractive in complacent market, says Wells Fargo analystGold prices no longer look attractive based on the way the metal has reacted to recent economic events, says Wells Fargo’s John LaForge, noting that gold’s complacent reaction to market volatility isseekingalpha.com

When an analyst at Wells is looking at the day-to-day ticker of gold looking for silly and binary safe haven arguments to warn people off of gold, I know we’re nearly there. 

This isn’t a complacent market. In fact, as I’ve pointed out in the past, it’s an incredibly volatile one. 

You don’t have to be a whiz with numbers, or worse a quant working for a central bank, to see the differences here. 

And the reason for this massive increase in volatility across all asset classes is Trump’s insistence on tariffs being the cure all for what ails America’s trade ‘imbalances.’

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

The road to modern wars

The road to modern wars 

President Trump pursues a policy combining military threat with economic warfare and his aim is to restore American hegemony especially in view of the rising contender: China. Beijing has been acquiring technological knowledge and started expanding beyond the borders, having easier access to Central Asia and the Pacific than Americans.

In 2015, when Trump stood for election, we wrote: “Trump’s war rhetoric is very popular with his audiences and is a step beyond Obama’s statement about American exceptionalism. In New Hampshire, Trump nearly declared war on China as he stated: ‘Take a look at China what they have done, they have taken our money, our jobs, our base, our manufacturing, and we owe them 1.5 trillion dollars that’s like a magic act, they have taken everything, and we owe them money.’ Mr Trump did not tell his audience that bringing back jobs comes at a cost. China’s GDP per capita is around 7,500 dollars, while the GDP per capita of the US is about 55,000 dollars. The China rhetoric is unambiguous; China stole what belongs to the US, and there is no need to repay US debt owed to China. The world should brace for Mr Trump as the 45th president of the USA.

President Trump wants to dictate to the whole world, but, taking into account the fact that the United States is now in conflict with Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Russia, China and North Korea, a big war is not to be expected any time soon, so much so that the military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Libya appear to be inconclusive. Washington has an arsenal of other measures and these include:

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

Shielding the World From US Chaos Is No Easy Task

Shielding the World From US Chaos Is No Easy Task

Donald Trump’s foreign policy relies heavily on putting to use to the tools available to the Empire: economic terrorismthreats of wardiplomatic pressuretrade wars, etc. But in resorting to tried-and-true imperialism, it is isolating itself internationally from traditional allies and raising tensions on the global chessboard to an unprecedented level.

Threats of war against Venezuela, North Korea, Syria and Iran are now repeated on a daily basis. Economic measures involving tariffs or duties, in many ways comparable to declarations of war, are now habitual, whether directed at friends or allies. Iran and Syria are under sanctions, while Pyongyang is even prevented from docking one of its ships in its ports, thereby finding itself de facto placed under US embargo, such as was threatened against Venezuela.

China and Russia are daily fighting to support the multipolar world through diplomatic, economic and sometimes military means, offering to Washington’s enemies some kind of shield with which to withstand the outrageous slings and arrows of the Trump administration. Beijing and Moscow carry out their resistance with an eye to their long-term objectives, given that in the short term their actions will inevitably invite the implacable hostility of Washington and her lackeys.

The fate of the new multipolar world order essentially depends on how well China and Russia will be able weather Washington’s storm. It is naturally in the interests of the rest of the world that the chaos of Washington’s unipolarity will be brought to a close in the least chaotic and destructive manner.

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

Why it (sort of) makes sense for the US to impose tariffs

Why it (sort of) makes sense for the US to impose tariffs

Nearly everyone wonders, “Why is Donald Trump crazy enough to impose tariffs on imports from other countries? How could this possibly make sense?”

As long as the world economy is growing rapidly, it makes sense for countries to cooperate with each other. With the use of cooperation, scarce resources can become part of supply lines that allow the production of complex goods, such as computers, requiring materials from around the world. The downsides of cooperation include:

(a) The use of more oil to transport goods around the world;

(b) The more rapid exhaustion of resources of all kinds around the world; and

(c) Growing wage disparity as workers from high-wage countries compete more directly with workers from low-wages countries.

These issues can be tolerated as long as the world economy is growing fast enough. As the saying goes, “A rising tide raises all boats.”

In this post, I will explain what is going wrong and how Donald Trump’s actions fit in with the situation we are facing. Strangely enough, there is a physics aspect to what is happening, even though it is likely that Donald Trump and the voters who elected him would probably not recognize this. In fact, the world economy seems to be on the cusp of a shrinking-back event, with or without the tariffs. Adding tariffs is an indirect way of allowing the US to obtain a better position in the new, shrunken economy, if this is really possible.

The upcoming shrinking-back event is the result of too little energy consumption in relation to total world population. Most researchers have completely missed the possibility that energy limits could manifest themselves as excessive wage disparity. In fact, they have tended to assume that energy limits would manifest themselves as high energy prices, especially for oil.

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

“No Talks, Only Resistance”: Iran’s Rouhani Slams Door On Trump’s “Call Me” Overture

“No Talks, Only Resistance”: Iran’s Rouhani Slams Door On Trump’s “Call Me” Overture

At a moment the US Navy conducted provocative military exercises in the Arabian Sea on Monday, Iran’s president responded to overtures by Trump that Tehran should “call me” with a firm line of, “No talks, only resistance.”

US military statements highlighted the Arabian Sea drills were specifically in response to heightened unspecified threats from Iran, and were led by the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and the US Marine Corps to highlight American “lethality and agility to respond to threat” and to advance US security. 

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who oversaw the 2015 nuclear deal negotiations (JCPOA) with then president Obama, said he welcomed any US diplomatic overture but wouldn’t be coerced into new negotiations under economic sanctions and threat of military action. 

“I favor talks and diplomacy but under current conditions, I do not accept it, as today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only,” Rouhani said, according to Iran’s IRNA news agency.

“If we walked away from the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the formal name of the nuclear deal] with the US provocative acts, then, in addition to the US, the UN and world would also impose sanctions on us,” he said.

It appears Trump has taken a “North Korea-style” approach to Iran that combines unpredictably aggressive threats and maneuvers – especially by other White House officials – with unexpected moments of reaching out a hand

That tactic was certainly on display Monday when Trump expressed US willingness to meet any Iranian action against US interests with “great force” – yet followed it by saying it’s up to Iran to initiate conciliatory dialogue: “If they call, we will certainly negotiate, but this is going to be up to them,” he told reporters.

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

Russia Announces Delivery Of More Supplies To Venezuela’s Military

Russia Announces Delivery Of More Supplies To Venezuela’s Military

Even after repeat threats issued to Moscow from President Trump himself  including recently saying bluntly “Russia has to get out” — the Russian military now appears so unconcerned by such warnings that it’s simply announcing its Maduro support actions ahead of time via state media. 

Russian news agency TASS said Friday, citing a military-diplomatic source, that Russia plans to supply Venezuela’s army with more than 16,000 field rations. This after a large Russian state-run arms exporter published a contract related to the re-supply deal. In late March two Russian military planes landed outside Caracas and offloaded equipment and troops to assist the embattled Maduro regime, via the AFP

No doubt the very open publication of the supply deal is aimed at showing Washington that the Kremlin is not going anywhere in terms of its longtime military alliance with Caracas, which was controversially on full display last December when Russian two nuclear-capable “Blackjack” strategic bombers flew to Caracas, and departed soon after amid White House threats and demands. 

Russia also likely now feels emboldened given the embarrassing Guaido opposition led failed coup attempt launched but just as quickly fizzling out at the end of April.

The White House, especially through statements of John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave the full backing of the United States to the called for military uprising. Thus Moscow realizes the US simply doesn’t have leverage on the ground in Venezuela, and boldly announced the following late this week: 

On Thursday, Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-run arms exporter, placed information about purchases of 16,500 field rations to be supplied to Venezuela. The initial cost of the contract is 14.38 million rubles (222,091 US dollars).

“The rations will be supplied in the interests of the Venezuelan army,” the source said.

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

Post-tariff considerations

Post-tariff considerations 

President Trump has declared he will extend tariffs of 25% on all America’s imports of Chinese goods. China is responding with tariff increases of its own. The consequences of this action and reaction will be to kick-start higher monetary inflation in America and an economic slump. This article explains how an overdue credit crisis will be made considerably worse by trade protectionism. It could become the credit crisis to end all credit crises and undermine the whole fiat currency system.

Introduction

Following President Trump’s imposition of 25% tariffs on all Chinese imports, it is time to assesses the consequences. Already, we have seen a contraction in US-China trade of 20% in the first three months of 2019 compared with the same quarter last year, and also compared with the average outturn for the whole of 2018.[i] This contraction was worse than that which followed the Lehman crisis.

In assessing the extent of the impact of Trump’s tariffs on the US economy, we must take into account a number of inter-related factors. Clearly, higher prices to US consumers will hit Chinese imports, which explains why they have dropped 20% so far, and why they will likely drop even more. Interestingly, US exports to China fell by the same percentage, though they are about one quarter of China’s exports to the US. 

These inter-related factors are, but not limited to:

  • The effect of the new tariff increases on trade volumes
  • The effect on US consumer prices
  • The effect on US production costs of tariffs on imported Chinese components
  • The consequences of retaliatory action on US exports to China
  • The recessionary impact of all the above on GDP
  • The consequences for the US budget deficit, allowing for likely tariff income to the US Treasury.

These are only first-order effects in what becomes an iterative process, and will be accompanied and followed by:

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

China Calls For “People’s War” Against The US, Vows To “Fight For A New World”

China Calls For “People’s War” Against The US, Vows To “Fight For A New World” 

While market mood has shifted diametrically from yesterday, with stocks sharply higher on Tuesday following what has widely been interpreted as conciliatory comments from both president Trump and various members of China’s ruling elite, one would be hard pressed to find any de-escalation amid the Chinese press commentaries written in the aftermath of the latest escalation in trade war between the US and China.

In a series of editorials and op-ed articles published Monday and Tuesday, Chinese state media slammed what it labeled the Trump administration’s “greed and arrogance“, called for a “people’s war” targeting the US “with precision” as China begins a “fight for a new world.”

“The most important thing is that in the China-US trade war, the US side fights for greed and arrogance … and morale will break at any point. The Chinese side is fighting back to protect its legitimate interests,” the nationalist, state-owned Global Times tabloid wrote .

Urging indirect boycott of US goods and services, the editorial slammed Trump and suggested a nation-wide uprising against the US aggression: “The trade war in the US is the creation of one person and one administration, but it affects that country’s entire population. In China, the entire country and all its people are being threatened. For us, this is a real ‘people’s war.'” Whether this means a renewed collapse in Chinese iPhone sales remains to be seen – for confirmation, watch for a new guidance cut from Apple in the coming days.

The Global Times  also accused the Trump administration of misleading Americans about the victims of US tariffs. It singled out Larry Kudlow’s interview on “Fox News Sunday” in which Trump’s top economic advisor said that US consumers would also suffer from the trade war, contradicting Trump’s claim that China would foot the bill.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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