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What? Default? Where? Dollar?

What? Default? Where? Dollar?

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that the first half of 2020 has brought, among many other things, renewed calls for the demise of the US dollar. It’s been pretty much a non-stop call for over a decade now, and longer. But this time, like all previous ones, I’m thinking: I don’t see it. I guess my first question is always: please explain why the dollar would collapse before the euro does.

For one thing, the dollar would have to collapse/default against one or more “entities”. The dollar is not like one of those highrises that collapse upon themselves. It will have to default or collapse against something(s) else. Since it is the world reserve currency, that means there would have to be a replacement reserve currency. Yes, that could also be for example gold or SDR’s, or even a basket of currencies, and something like that may happen eventually, but it doesn’t appear in the cards in the short run.

There are really only two candidates for the role, and neither looks at all fit to play it. The euro may have some ambitions in that direction, but it has far too many problems still. The yuan/renminbi certainly has such ambitions, but the Communist party refuses to let it get on stage to show what it’s got. As I recently wrote:

The main sticking point for Beijing is a conundrum it cannot solve. The CCP wants to have BOTH a global currency AND total control over that currency. It will have to choose between the two, and cannot make up its mind. So it pretends it doesn’t have to choose.

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

Intelligence

Intelligence

Sometimes I think I can only do this work properly if I’m angry all the time 24/7. But I don’t want to be angry all the time; what kind of life is that? Still, there are days when I just can’t help it. The British intelligence services (please let find another word for that, so as to not insult actually smart people) came out with a couple anti-Putin press releases today, and there we go again.

We can only guess at what they want this time, whether it to keep the UK’s own “RussiaRussia Putin is Hitler” flame alive, or are they seeking to help their US counterparts to rise from the ashes of their fully discredited years-long Orange Man Bad narratives, but boy, is this nauseating. What’s even worse is that people eat it up like candy.

Guys, this is your own highly paid snoops lying to you -along with your government(s)- like there’s no tomorrow, and you’re just sitting there worrying about wearing a face mask next time you go to a store. Know what that makes you? Sheep. I know y’all still know what those look like, and how they behave. So what’s the attraction?

Here’s BIGLY revelation no. 1 per the BBC. Do note the “almost certain” in both pieces, they need an easy way out if the story doesn’t stick. It also means that obviously they’re not at all certain, they’re just making it up.

Russian Hackers Target COVID19 Vaccine Research

Russian hackers are targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine, a group of national security services has warned. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the hackers “almost certainly” operated as “part of Russian intelligence services”. It said the group used malware to try and steal information relating to Covid-19 vaccine development. NCSC director of operations Paul Chichester said it was “despicable”. The hackers are part of a group called APT29, also known as “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”.

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

Weaponizing the Dollar

Weaponizing the Dollar

Saul Leiter Phone call c1957

Don’t worry, we’re still talking virus, just from a slightly different angle. I was going to do something completely different, but then I saw an article at the South China Morning Post (SCMP) today that made me think “I don’t think that’s true”, realizing that at the same time many people would think it is.

Foreign holdings of US Treasuries are a misty environment for perhaps not just many, but most people. What triggered the SCMP piece is Trump’s threat, if it was ever meant to be one, to default on US dollar-denominated debt owned by China. Which by one estimate consists for about 70% of Treasuries.

And there are entire choirs full of voices willing to tell us that China can simply start dumping the -estimated- $1.2 trillion in Treasuries it holds, and threaten if not end the USD reserve currency status that way, if the US doesn’t “behave”. There’s little doubt that China would want this, but that doesn’t make the idea any more realistic.

What should give that away is, how easy can we make it for you, that it hasn’t done so yet. And now a conflict over the origin of a virus would trigger this? On a side note: if that origin is somewhere in China, even if it’s unintentional, how could Beijing possibly “admit” to it? How could it ever settle the lawsuits that would ensue?

No, the US cannot default on China’s holdings of its Treasuries. That alone would be a larger threat to the reserve currency status than anything anybody else could do, other then nuclear war. But at the same time, China cannot dump its Treasury holdings. because that would hurt … China.

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

Assange Is The Only One To Abide By The Law

Assange Is The Only One To Abide By The Law

Salvador Dali Self portrait  1921

On October 21 2019, Brexit became an entirely irrelevant issue. Or perhaps we should say it had already become that, but on that date it was exposed for all to see that it was. The parading into a courtroom of Julian Assange in London was all the evidence one could need that the UK government breaks its own laws as well as numerous international laws, with impunity. But that is not how the media reported on it, if it did at all.

And so, the core issue behind Brexit, i.e. who makes Britain’s laws, turned to nothing. If your government breaks its own laws all the time, what does it matter where those laws are made? They are meaningless anyway. Whether they come from Brussels or London make no difference if the government and judicial system don’t abide by them. Those million men marches for a Final Say look totally ridiculous once that reality sinks in.

I can’t get the picture of Julian Assange as he looked on Monday out of my head. I’ve written so much about him, tried so hard to find support for him, and now to see him withered away and perhaps not strong enough to see the end of his own extradition hearing is heartbreaking. So let’s go through the whole thing again; it’s not like I could write about anything else right now. I was thinking again yesterday about a song I used in an earlier article about Julian, I Fought the Law.

That is how the vast majority of people will see his case, that he fought the law and the law caught up with him. But that’s not at all what’s been happening. 

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

ExxonMobil Looks To Exit UK North Sea Oil & Gas

ExxonMobil Looks To Exit UK North Sea Oil & Gas

ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil has recently discussed with operators selling part or all of its assets in the UK North Sea in a move that could raise up to US$2 billion for Exxon and mark another major U.S. exit from the area, Reuters reported on Tuesday, quoting three industry sources familiar with the matter.

Exxon has been a major investor in the UK North Sea since 1964, when the first exploration drilling in the area began. The U.S. major holds interests in 40 producing oil and gas fields and produces around five percent of UK oil and gas production, with an average 80,000 barrels of oil and 441 million cubic feet of gas a day. Exxon’s investment in the North Sea is managed through a 50/50 joint operation with Shell.

If Exxon sells some or part of its assets in the UK North Sea, it will be yet another major U.S. oil and gas firm to divest interests in this mature area to focus on their current key growth areas, which for Exxon right now are the Permian in Texas and conventional oil production offshore Guyana.

While European supermajors Shell, BP, and Total continue to view the North Sea as one of their core assets, U.S. majors have been selling North Sea stakes as many of them are now focused on U.S. shale.

Marathon Oil said in February that it would be exiting the UK North Sea as it continues to focus on high-return U.S. shale oil operations.

In April, ConocoPhillips sold its UK oil and gas business to Chrysaor Holdings for US$2.675 billion in a deal which Wood Mackenzie described as “another story of the changing corporate landscape in the North Sea – for the first time, a non major is the number one producer in the UK.”

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

Understanding the Failure of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Albright Doctrine

Understanding the Failure of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Albright Doctrine

Albright typifies the arrogance and hawkishness of Washington blob.

How to describe U.S. foreign policy over the last couple of decades? Disastrous comes to mind. Arrogant and murderous also seem appropriate.

Since 9/11, Washington has been extraordinarily active militarily—invading two nations, bombing and droning several others, deploying special operations forces in yet more countries, and applying sanctions against many. Tragically, the threat of Islamist violence and terrorism only have metastasized. Although Al Qaeda lost its effectiveness in directly plotting attacks, it continues to inspire national offshoots. Moreover, while losing its physical “caliphate” the Islamic State added further terrorism to its portfolio.

Three successive administrations have ever more deeply ensnared the United States in the Middle East. War with Iran appears to be frighteningly possible. Ever-wealthier allies are ever-more dependent on America. Russia is actively hostile to the United States and Europe. Washington and Beijing appear to be a collision course on far more than trade. Yet the current administration appears convinced that doing more of the same will achieve different results, the best definition of insanity.

Despite his sometimes abusive and incendiary rhetoric, the president has departed little from his predecessors’ policies. For instance, American forces remain deployed in Afghanistan and Syria. Moreover, the Trump administration has increased its military and materiel deployments to Europe. Also, Washington has intensified economic sanctions on Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, and even penalized additional countries, namely Venezuela.

U.S. foreign policy suffers from systematic flaws in the thinking of the informal policy collective which former Obama aide Ben Rhodes dismissed as “The Blob.” Perhaps no official better articulated The Blob’s defective precepts than Madeleine Albright, United Nations ambassador and Secretary of State.

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

Lawlessness

Lawlessness

Pablo Picasso Rest (Marie-Thérèse Walter) 1932

With the news that Julian Assange is “wasting away” in Belmarsh prison hospital, and with UN rapporteur Professor Nils Melzer’s report detailing how this happens, I’m once again drawn towards the lawlessness that all “authorities” involved in his case have been displaying, and with impunity. They all apparently think they are literally above the law. Their own laws.

But they can’t be, nowhere, not above their respective national laws nor the international ones their countries have signed up to. They can’t, because that would instantly make any and all laws meaningless. So you tell me where we find ourselves today.

There’s this paragraph in an article by Jonathan Cook entitled Abuses Show Assange Case Was Never About Law, which lists “17 glaring anomalies in Assange’s legal troubles”, that sums it all up pretty perfectly:

Australia not only refused Assange, a citizen, any help during his long ordeal, but prime minister Julia Gillard even threatened to strip Assange of his citizenship, until it was pointed out that it would be illegal for Australia to do so.

See, Cook is already skipping a step there. Gillard didn’t take Assange’s citizenship away, because that is against Australian law, but it’s just as much against Australian law for a government to let one of its citizens rot in some kind of hell. Still, they did let him rot, but as an Australian citizen. At that point, what difference does anything make anymore?

This is a pattern that runs through the entire Assange “file”, and it does so to pretty astonishing levels. Where you’re forced to think that the countries involved effectively have no laws, and no courts, because if they did, the actions by their governments would surely be whistled back by parliaments or judges or someone, anyone. They’re all essentially lawless.

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

Peter Schiff: This Is the Beginning of a Much Bigger Crisis (Video)

Peter Schiff: This Is the Beginning of a Much Bigger Crisis (Video)

Wall Street has been on a roller coaster ride over the last few months. If you listen to the pundits on the financial networks, you’ll hear the word “volatile” used over and over again. That word certainly seems to describe the current state of US stock markets and in a broader sense the economy. But during a recent interview on RT News with Rick Sanchez, Peter Schiff said it’s not that the economy is volatile. It’s actually a bubble. And we are on the verge of a bigger crisis than the one we went through in 2008.

It’s not a volatile economy, it’s a bubble economy. Thanks to the Federal Reserve, they inflated an even bigger bubble, on purpose, than the one they inflated by accident that popped in 2008. And so the economy is in much worse shape structurally today then it was before it fell apart the last time. So, this is the beginning of a much greater crisis, of a much greater recession than the one that we experienced back in 2008.”

Sanchez asked Peter what exactly the Federal Reserve did wrong. Peter said, basically, everything.

But the biggest things they did wrong were lowering interest rates down to zero, practically, and leaving them there for pretty much the entirety of the Obama presidency. And then they’ve barely raised them. They’re still at 2%, which is very low. They also did all the quantitative easing where they printed a bunch of money and bought US government bonds and mortgage bonds. That enabled the housing bubble to reflate, and that enabled the US government to go much deeper into debt. So, the government didn’t cut spending, which is what we needed. They increased spending. But it also enabled corporations to lever up and buy stocks.

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

Neocons Rage: International (And Domestic) Support for Trump’s Syria Pullout

Neocons Rage: International (And Domestic) Support for Trump’s Syria Pullout

The mainstream press coverage of President Trump’s announcement that he would be removing US troops from Syria has been unanimously apocalyptic. Journos who until a few days ago couldn’t care less about the Kurds (certainly not when US president after US president has used them as a cat’s paw and then abandoned them to their fate), were all of a sudden up in arms warning about an impending slaughter with the blood dripping squarely onto Trump’s hands.

In fact, US weapons, training, and backing had carved out a de facto super-sized Kurd-controlled section of northern Syria which it does not take a geopolitical expert to understand would incense NATO ally Turkey. Why prop up the Kurds and in the process infuriate Erdogan? The US-led regime-change program simply did not have many other boots on the ground to turn to. After years of arming jihadists whose masks slipped quickly thereafter to reveal al-Qaeda or ISIS markings, the game was up for the “Assad must go” crowd and the only move left was to pretend that a proxy Kurd militia was something called the “Syrian Democratic Forces.” When in fact it was nothing of the sort. It was simply the Kurds, rented by Washington.

And the bloodbath the media and neocons warned would come about should Trump dare reconsider another US forever war? More lies and bluster. The Kurds are re-considering their foolish refusal to partner more closely with the Syrian government against foreign-sponsored insurgencies. Just last week, they began negotiations with Damascus to reconcile and forestall a massive Turk incursion.

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

Trump Walks Back Syria Pullout As Noose Tightens

Trump Walks Back Syria Pullout As Noose Tightens

If anyone still thinks that Donald Trump has some master plan to kill off his Deep State adversaries they should check themselves into therapy. I know withdrawal is hard, but admitting you have a problem is the first step to curing it.

He doesn’t have a plan. He may fight them but it won’t be with any kind of master plan to trap them in some beautiful bit of political judo.

Frankly, Vladimir Putin he is not.

No, Trump is winging things at this point. While he still has the office he’s trying to do some of the things he promised. Doing that may keep him in power for a few more months.

But with his walking back the timetable for pulling troops out of Syria after a visit from Lindsay Graham (R-MIC/AIPAC) should tell you all you need to know about Trump’s willingness to stand up to the pressure he’s under.

Add to that the opening salvo from Mitt Romney (R-Wall St.) and it becomes pretty clear that Trump was told what the score really is. When, not if, the Democrats push for impeachment or a 25th Amendment proceeding against him Graham and Romney will lead a GOP revolt against him, siding with Senate Democrats to get rid of him.

That’s been the point of this from the beginning. Pat Buchanan and I both talked about this from the moment he was elected. Pat reminding us of what happened to Nixon who was hounded out of office because he did the unthinkable — ending the Vietnam War.

I’ve been simply looking at this from the standard libertarian perspective that “War is the health of the state” and Trump’s opposition to our Middle East follies would net him nothing but contempt.

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

Putin Confirms No New Oil Production Cuts; Hopes For US, UK Detente

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Trump, pummeled Poroshenko, and poured cold water on oil market bulls’ hopes in a statement following the G-20 meetings.

Putin began by confirming what White House Press Secretary Sanders noted earlier – he and Trump had spoken broefly on the sidelines of the G-20 and discussed the Ukraine incident. Putin added that “Trump is not afraid of [him]” and expressed “pity that he could not have a full format meeting with President Trump” pointing out that “Russian needs to maintain dialog with US,” and “hopes to meet [Trump] when US is ready.”

Putin also mentioned Russia’s relationship with the United Kingdom, noting that “UK is an important partner for Russia” adding that he “hopes to overcome differences, to normalize relations with UK in the near future.”

But perhaps the most important aspect of Putin’s comments – related to markets – was his statement on crude production cuts.

Russian news service RIA noted earlier that Putin and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) discussed oil, haven’t taken concrete decisions yet, including production cuts, Kremlin’s foreign police aide Yuri Ushakov said.

And Putin just confirmed that there are no additional cuts over and above the OPEC+ Vienna Accord levels currently in place:

  • *PUTIN SAYS THEY AGREED TO EXTEND OPEC+ AGREEMENT
  • *PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA, SAUDI AGREES TO CONTINUE AGREEMENT
  • *PUTIN: EXACT VOLUME TO BE AGREED W SAUDI ARABIA BASED ON MARKET

Confirming Lavrov’s comments earlier in the week that there was no need for additional deals or cuts. The two producers will monitor market to adjust policy accordingly.

Finally Putin raised the topic of the Kerch Strait crisis, explaining that “Poroshenko was dividing Ukraine through the use of mertial law,” adding that it “was much too early to talk about the release/swap of Ukraine sailors.

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

EU, UK, Russia and China Join Together to Dodge US Sanctions on Iran

EU, UK, Russia and China Join Together to Dodge US Sanctions on Iran

EU, UK, Russia and China Join Together to Dodge US Sanctions on Iran

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York is a place where world leaders are able to hold important meetings behind closed doors. Russia, China, the UK, Germany, France, and the EU seized that opportunity on Sept. 24 to achieve a real milestone.

The EU, Russia, China, and Iran will create a special purpose vehicle (SPV), a “financially independent sovereign channel,” to bypass US sanctions against Tehran and breathe life into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which is in jeopardy. “Mindful of the urgency and the need for tangible results, the participants welcomed practical proposals to maintain and develop payment channels, notably the initiative to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports, including oil,” they announced in a joint statement. The countries are still working out the technical details. If their plan succeeds, this will deliver a blow to the dollar and a boost to the euro.

The move is being made in order to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. According to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the SPV will facilitate payments for Iran’s exports, such as oil, and imports so that companies can do business with Tehran as usual. The vehicle will be available not just to EU firms but to others as well. A round of US sanctions aimed at ending Iranian oil exports is to take effect on November 5. Iran is the world’s seventh-largest oil producer. Its oil sector accounts for 70% of the country’s exports. Tehran has warned the EU that it should find new ways of trading with Iran prior to that date, in order to preserve the JCPOA.

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

Interview Raúl Ilargi Meijer about Julian Assange

Charles Burchfield Bluebird and Cottonwoods (The Birches) 1917


My Australian friend Wayne Hall, who‘s lived in Athens for many many years, is doing a video project on fellow Aussie Julian Assange. This is an interview with me, recorded 3 weeks or so ago, that’s part of the project. I would have done 1000 things differently, but it’s not my baby, it’s Wayne’s world. At least some snippets of information come through.

Note: it was 100º, and it shows. Very sweaty, very uncomfortable. Still, while I’m not wild about doing videos -we had Nicole for that, right?!- maybe I should be doing more of this. Not that I watched this one, mind you. But you can.

Wayne Hall: Good afternoon Raúl Ilargi Meijer. You have a blog called “Automatic Earth” and you are very active with it. Can you say something about “Automatic Earth”? When was it founded? What is its aim?

Ilargi: It was founded almost eleven years ago. Nicole Foss and I founded it because we wanted to write about finance whereas the people we were writing for before that, “The Oil Drum”, didn’t want us to do that and we thought it was too important not to.

WH: And what are you doing here in Athens?

Ilargi: I’m supporting a group of people who feed the homeless and refugees. I’ve written a bunch of articles at “Automatic Earth” about that.

WH: Now even though you have written articles that show clearly how important you think it is to try to defend Julian Assange (I read one that you published today [17/8/2018] that was very much on that subject and it was a powerful article), you really don’t agree with Julian Assange on the importance of defending the European integration project or citizens’ Europe.

Ilargi: I have no idea what either of these things are.

NATO is a Con Game

Marc Riboud Forbidden City under the snow, Beijing 1957

Okay, well, Trump did it again. Antagonizing allies. This time it was Germany that took the main hit, over the fact that it pays Russia billions of dollars for oil and gas while relying on the US for its defense … against Russia. And yes, that is a strange situation. But it’s by no means the only angle to the story. There are many more.

For one thing, The US has by far the largest military industry. So it makes a lot of money off the billions already spent by NATO partners on weaponry. Of course Raytheon, Boeing et al would like to see them spend more. But once they would have done that, they would clamor for even more after.

At some point one must ask how much should really be spent. How much is enough, how much is necessary. The military-industrial complex (MIC) has every reason to make the threat posed by ‘enemies’ as big as they possibly can. So knowing that, we must take media reports on this threat with tons of salt.

And that is not easy. Because the MIC has great influence in politics and the media. But we can turn to some numbers. According to GlobalFirePower, the US in 2018 will spend $647 billion on its military, while Russia is to spend a full $600 billion less, at $47 billion. And the US Senate has already voted in a $82 billion boost recently.

There are other numbers out there that suggest Russia spends $60 billion, but even then. If Moscow spends just 10% of the US, and much less than that once all NATO members’ expenditure is included, how much of a threat can Russia realistically be to NATO?

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

Who Needs Enemies?


Vittorio Matteo Corcos Conversation in the Jardin du Luxembourg 1892

Obviously, there are tensions between Europe and the US. Just as obviously, these tensions are blamed on, who else, Donald Trump. European Council President Donald Tusk recently said: “With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?” EU Commission chair Jean-Claude Juncker even proclaimed that “Europe must take America’s place as global leader”.

These European ‘leaders’ love the big words. They think they make them look good, strong. In reality, they are merely messenger boys for Berlin and Paris. Who have infinitely more say than Brussels. Problem is, Berlin and Paris are not united at all. Macron wants more Europe, especially in finance, but Merkel knows she can’t sell that at home.

So what are those big words worth when the whip comes down? It’s amusing to see how different people reach wholly different conclusions about that. Instructive and entertaining. First, Alex Gorka at The Strategic Culture Foundation, who likes the big words too: “..a landmark event that will go down in history as the day Europe united to openly defy the US.”and “May 17 is the day the revolt started and there is no going back. Europe has said goodbye to trans-Atlantic unity. It looks like it has had enough.

Brussels Rises In Revolt Against Washington: A Turning Point In US-European Relations

The May 16-17 EU-Western Balkans summit did address the problems of integration, but it was eclipsed by another issue. The meeting turned out to be a landmark event that will go down in history as the day Europe united to openly defy the US. The EU will neither review the Iran nuclear deal (JPCOA) nor join the sanctions against Tehran that have been reintroduced and even intensified by America.

…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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