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Gates Thinning the Heard with a Food Crisis?

Biden is now paying farmers not to grow crops and was perhaps directed by Bill Gates, who has become the biggest farmland holder in the USA. The risk of starvation around the world is rising. The real question is very dark. Is this part of Gates’ idea on how to reduce the population? Perhaps Warren Buffett and George Soros will lead the way and just die rather than clinging to every last breath to screw with the rest of us, the Great Unwashed, for whom they have never had any respect whatsoever.

Some ask if becoming a billionaire creates a new type of disease of assuming they are demi-gods. They certainly seem to lose touch with humanity. They seem to allegedly cheer genocide as long as they can pull it off without a gun or gas chamber. Does having too much money that could never be spent bring out the Hitler in people? I would love to see a physiological study on that subject.

The United Nations, the puppet of Gates and Schwab, is sounding the alarm that the number of people who do not have enough to eat or are starving in crisis countries has reached a five-year high. The corona manufactured pandemic has disrupted the food supply dramatically and is pushing things over the edge. Yes, there are also violent conflicts, economic crises, and extreme weather events that also come into play. With a little luck, Gates will be able to reduce the population as we head into 2027, for already there are around 155 million people that were already in an acute food crisis in 2020, according to the UN. The UN World Food Authority reported at the beginning of May 2021 that the number had already increased by 20 million people more people over 2020 so far this year.

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

U.S. Inflation Is Highest in 13 Years as Prices Surge 5%

U.S. Inflation Is Highest in 13 Years as Prices Surge 5%

The rapid rise in consumer prices in May reflected a surge in demand and shortages of labor and materials

The U.S. economy’s rebound from the pandemic is driving the biggest surge in inflation in nearly 13 years, with consumer prices rising in May by 5% from a year ago.

The Labor Department said last month’s increase in the consumer-price index was the largest since August 2008, when the reading rose 5.4%. The core-price index, which excludes the often-volatile categories of food and energy, jumped 3.8% in May from the year before—the largest increase for that reading since June 1992.

Consumers are seeing higher prices for many of their purchases, particularly big-ticket items such as vehicles. Prices for used cars and trucks leapt 7.3% from the previous month, driving one-third of the rise in the overall index. The indexes for furniture, airline fares and apparel also rose sharply in May.

A separate reading showed the U.S. labor market continued to heal from the pandemic, with initial claims for unemployment benefits falling to another pandemic low.

May’s jump in prices extends a trend that accelerated this spring amid widespread Covid-19 vaccinations, relaxed business restrictions, trillions of dollars in federal pandemic relief programs and ample household savings—all of which have stoked demand for Americans to spend and travel more.

Overall prices jumped at a 9.7% annualized rate over the three months ended in May. On a month-to-month basis, overall prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6% and core prices rose 0.7%.

The annual inflation measurements are being boosted by comparisons with figures from last year during pandemic-related lockdowns, when prices plummeted because of collapsing demand for many goods and services. This so-called base effect is expected to push up inflation readings significantly in May and June, dwindling into the fall.

Compared with two years ago, overall prices rose a more muted 2.5% in May.

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

Peak Oil? Drivers—and Voters—Could Delay It for Years

Peak Oil? Drivers—and Voters—Could Delay It for Years

Investors and politicians have made their views clear about oil’s uncertain future. Consumers, not so much.

Drivers traverse the 405 freeway at night in California. The fate of the oil industry depends as much, or more, on consumers as it does on politicians and policymakers.

PHOTO: PATRICK T. FALLON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

You might be filling up your tank a lot longer than BP thinks.

Ambitious green policies—from politicians and even the newly climate-conscious oil companies—suggest the world is moving at warp speed away from fossil fuels. But the transition might not be easy on consumers’ wallets, which is precisely why it could take a while.

The idea of “peak oil,” historically a reference to a fear that oil supply was running out, now means something entirely different. British energy giant BP suggested that oil demand might have already reached its apex in 2019 if one were to imagine a world that doubles down on policies that restrict carbon emissions.

Others are more conservative. Under its “stated policies scenario,” the International Energy Agency estimates that oil demand will peak around 2030 and plateau. That scenario takes into account announced policy measures and its own judgment of how attainable they seem. As the IEA acknowledges, though, some of the declared policies are far-reaching targets. Chris Midgley, head of analytics at S&P Global Platts, says his group projects the world is unlikely to reach peak demand until the late 2030s, noting that demand for petrochemicals in particular seems resilient.

Transportation plays a key role in the timing of that peak; it accounts for the largest share of petroleum consumption globally. For electricity to crowd out oil as a transportation fuel, governments must either provide taxpayer subsidies that make electric vehicles more affordable or place a cost on not switching over, such as even higher taxes at the pump.

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

 

Inside One Of Big Brother’s ‘Location Harvesting’ Contractors, Which Tracks ‘Hundreds Of Millions’ Of Phones

Inside One Of Big Brother’s ‘Location Harvesting’ Contractors, Which Tracks ‘Hundreds Of Millions’ Of Phones

A Virginia-based software company founded by two US military veterans with backgrounds in intelligence has been tracking hundreds of millions of mobile phones across the world, according to documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

The company, Anomaly Six LLC, draws location data from over 500 apps – partly through their proprietary software development kit (SDK) which they’ve paid to embed directly in some of the apps, while the company gets location data from partner providers. The SDK allows the company to obtain a user’s location if they have allowed the apps in question to access the phone’s GPS coordinates.

App publishers often allow third-party companies, for a fee, to insert SDKs into their apps. The SDK maker then sells the consumer data harvested from the app, and the app publisher gets a chunk of revenue. But consumers have no way to know whether SDKs are embedded in apps; most privacy policies don’t disclose that information. Anomaly Six says it embeds its own SDK in some apps, and in other cases gets location data from other partners. –Wall Street Journal

Anomaly Six holds contracts with several branches of the US Government – although they told the Journal that they ‘restrict the sale of US mobile phone movement data to nongovernmental, private sector clients,’ according to the report. Private sector clients – typically marketing companies or others in the advertising space – buy and sell geolocation data, sometimes ‘reselling it to government agencies or contractors‘ according to the report.

And as the Journal notes, in the case of Anomaly Six, “the direct collection of such data by a business closely linked to US national security agencies is unusual.

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

Weekly Commentary: Precarious World

Weekly Commentary: Precarious World

Another fascinating – if not comforting – week. A Friday Wall Street Journal headline: “Big Tech’s Embarrassment of Riches – Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google all show resilience during pandemic while undergoing congressional scrutiny.” Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google all reported booming earnings the day following Wednesday appearances by respective CEOs before the House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing. Down the road from Capitol Hill, the FOMC released their post-meeting policy statement. Chairman Powell conducted a virtual press conference where he addressed key issues: “inflation running well below our symmetric 2% objective,” and “inequality as an issue has been a growing issue in our country and in our economy for four decades.”

While it is true that inequality has been building for decades, this trend has worsened markedly since the 2008 crisis. Much more so of late.

Powell: “So [inequality is] a serious economic problem for the United States, but it’s got underlying causes that are not related to monetary policy or to our response to the pandemic. Again, four decades of evidence suggests it’s about globalization, it’s about the flattening out of educational attainment in the United States compared to our other competitor countries. It’s about technology advancing too.

If we could chart “inequality,” it would at this point be rising parabolically – following the trajectory of the Fed’s balance sheet. I had been assuming Fed holdings would at some point be getting a lot larger. It seemed clear inequality would only get worse. COVID dramatically accelerated both trends.

Bubble analysis is these days as fruitful as ever. We’re in the waning days of a multi-decade super-cycle. Bubble markets have become extraordinarily distorted and increasingly disorderly. Protracted deep structural maladjustment has fostered pervasive Bubble Economy Dynamics. Aggressive monetary inflation and central bank market interventions – primary contributors to financial and economic Bubbles – are being deployed to hold Bubble collapse at bay. And we’re now witnessing the initial consequences of desperately throwing massive stimulus at speculative market Bubbles and a Bubble Economy.

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

Peter Schiff: They’re Going to Need a Bigger Rate Cut!

Peter Schiff: They’re Going to Need a Bigger Rate Cut!

Stop and pause for a moment and think about what just happened. The Federal Reserve says the US economy is strong, but it just initiated emergency monetary policy last seen during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Something doesn’t add up.

The Fed cut rates 50 basis points on Tuesday. It was the first interest rate move between regularly schedule FMOC meetings since the 2008 financial crisis. The Fed funds rate now stands between 1.0 and 1.25%.

The decision to cut rates was unanimous.

As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, this kind of Federal Reserve move has been reserved for “when the economic outlook has quickly darkened, as in early 2001 and early 2008, when the US economy was heading into recession.” The 50-basis point cut was the first cut of such magnitude since December 2008. Pacific Management investment economist Tiffany Wilding called it a “shock-and-awe approach.”

It may have been shocking, but the results weren’t awesome.

Stocks tanked anyway.

The Dow Jones closed down 785.91 points, a 2.94% plunge. The S&P 500 fell 2.81%.  The Nasdaq experienced a similar drop, closing down 2.99%.

Meanwhile, gold rallied, quickly pushing back above $1,600 and gaining over $50. Wednesday morning, the yellow metal was knocking on the door of $1,650.

Bond yields sank again as investors continued their retreat into safe-havens. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped below 1%.

In a press conference after the announcement, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank “saw a risk to the economy and chose to act.”

“The magnitude and persistence of the overall effect on the US economy remain highly uncertain and the situation remains a fluid one. Against this background, the committee judged that the risks to the US outlook have changed materially. In response, we have eased the stance of monetary policy to provide some more support to the economy.”

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

“If The US Does That, It’ll Lose Iraq Forever” – Trump Threatened To Cut Off Baghdad’s Access To Its NY Fed Cash

“If The US Does That, It’ll Lose Iraq Forever” – Trump Threatened To Cut Off Baghdad’s Access To Its NY Fed Cash

After rejecting Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s request to begin talks on the withdrawal of American troops, there are now more signs of the eroding ties between the two countries.

The Wall Street Journal reports that according to Iraqi officials (yes, Iraq has anonymous sources too), the Trump administration warned Iraq this week that it risks losing access to a critical government bank account if Baghdad kicks out American forces.

We are sure, to Schiff et al., that sounds a lot like ‘quid pro quo’, but how will they balance the need to hammer the president with their neocon/establishment desire to keep boots on the ground, whatever it takes?

The warning regarding the Iraqi central bank account was conveyed to Iraq’s prime minister in a call on Wednesday, according to an official in his office, that also touched on the overall military, political and financial partnership between the two countries.

When Iraq needs hard currency, its central bank can request a shipment of bills that it then distributes into the financial system through banks and currency exchange houses. While the country’s official currency is the dinar, U.S. dollars are commonly used.

“The U.S. Fed basically has a stranglehold on the entire [Iraqi] economy,” said Shwan Taha, chairman of Iraqi investment bank Rabee Securities.

The potential economic and financial fallout is weighing on Iraqi officials

“Whenever you have any amicable divorce, you still have the worry about the children, pets, furniture and plants, some of which are sentimental,” said a senior Iraqi politician.

The New York Fed, which can freeze accounts under U.S. sanctions law or if it has reasonable suspicion the funds could violate U.S. law, said it doesn’t comment on specific account holders, but as WSJ notes, this financial threat isn’t theoretical:

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Are The Rating Agencies Complicit In Another Massive Scandal: A WSJ Investigation Leads To Shocking Questions

Are The Rating Agencies Complicit In Another Massive Scandal: A WSJ Investigation Leads To Shocking Questions

Over the past two years, a key event many bears have cited as a potential catalyst for the next market crash, is the systematic downgrade of billions of lowest-rated investment grade bonds to junk as a result of debt leverage creeping ever high, coupled with the inevitable slowdown of the economy, which would lead to an avalanche of “fallen angels” – newly downgraded junk bonds which institutional managers have to sell as a result of limitations on their mandate, in the process sending prices across the corporate sector sharply lower.

As we discussed in July, the scope of this potential problem is massive, with the the lowest-rated, BBB sector now nearly 60% of all investment grade bonds, and more than double the size of the entire junk bond market in the US, and 3.4x bigger than the European junk bond universe.

Yet after waiting patiently for years for the inevitable downgrade avalanche which would unleash a zombie army of fallen angels and potentially spark the next crash, with the occasional exception of a few notable downgrades such as PG&E and Ford, this wholesale event has failed to materialize so far, something which the bulls have frequently paraded as an indication that the economy is far stronger than the bears suggest.

But is it? And instead of the economy being stronger, are we just reliving the past where rating agencies pretended everything was ok until the very end, only to admit they were wrong all along, and then slash their rating retrospectively, too late however as the next financial crisis is already raging.

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

Will the Fracking Revolution Peak Before Ever Making Money?

Will the Fracking Revolution Peak Before Ever Making Money?

Fracking sites at night in Colorado

This week, the Wall Street Journal highlighted that the U.S. oil and gas shale industry, already struggling financially, is now facing “core operational issues.” That should be a truly frightening prospect for investors in American fracking operations, but one which DeSmog has long been warning of.

This one line from the Journal sums up the problems: “Unlike several years ago, when shale production fell due to a global price collapse, the slowdown this year is driven partly by core operational issues, including wells producing less than expected after being drilled too close to one another, and sweet spots running out sooner than anticipated.”

As we have reported at DeSmog over the last year and a half, the shale oil and gas industry, which has driven the recent boom in American oil and gas production, has been on a more than decade-long money-losing streak, with estimated losses of approximately a quarter trillion dollars. Those losses have continued in 2019.

This failure to generate profits led to the Financial Times recently reporting that shale investors are having a “crisis of faith” and turning away from U.S. oil and gas investments. That’s been bad news for frackers because the entire so-called “shale revolution” was fueled by massive borrowing, and these companies are increasingly declaring bankruptcy, unable to pay back what they borrowed because they haven’t been turning a profit.

Scott Forbes, a vice president with leading energy industry research firm Wood Mackenzie, also has noted the structural problems in the finances of the fracking industry, referring to the current business model as “unsustainable.”

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

Weekly Commentary: No Coincidences

Weekly Commentary: No Coincidences

September 20 – Wall Street Journal (Daniel Kruger): “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will offer to add at least $75 billion daily to the financial system through Oct. 10, prolonging its efforts to relieve funding pressure in money markets. In addition to at least $75 billion in overnight loans, the New York Fed… will also offer three separate 14-day repo contracts of at least $30 billion each next week… On Friday banks asked for $75.55 billion in reserves, $550 million more than the amount offered by the Fed, offering collateral in the form of Treasury and mortgage securities. The Fed’s operation was the fourth time this week it has intervened to calm roiled money markets. Rates on short-term repos briefly spiked to nearly 10% earlier this week as financial firms looked for overnight funding. The actions marked the first time since the financial crisis that the Fed had taken such measures.”

With the Lehman collapse setting off the “worst financial crisis since the Great Depression”, instability in the multi-trillion repurchase agreement marketplace generates intense interest. This market for funding levered securities holdings is critical to the financial system’s “plumbing.” It’s a market in perceived “money” – highly liquid and virtually risk free-instruments. If risk suddenly becomes an issue for this shadowy network, the cost and availability of Credit for highly leveraged players is suddenly in question. And any de-risking/deleveraging at the nucleus of the global financial system would pose a clear and present danger for sparking “risk off” throughout Credit markets and financial markets more generally.

I’ll usually begin contemplating the CBB on Thursdays. This week’s alarming dislocation in the “repo” market was clearly a major development worthy of focus. But I was planning on highlighting the lack of initial contagion effects in corporate Credit, a not surprising development considering the New York Fed’s aggressive liquidity injections.

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

“A Murderer’s Row”: Oil And Gas Bankruptcies To Accelerate As $137 Billion Debt Matures Over Next Two Years

“A Murderer’s Row”: Oil And Gas Bankruptcies To Accelerate As $137 Billion Debt Matures Over Next Two Years

Oil and gas companies are facing an onslaught of bankruptcies as the “shale revolution” appears to be coming to an unceremonious end, at least on Wall Street, according to the Wall Street Journal

Companies like Sanchez Energy Corp., Halcon Resources Corp. and 26 other oil and gas producers have all filed for bankruptcy this year, already matching the 28 industry bankruptcies from all of 2018. The number is expected to rise as debt maturities for those looking to cash in on the shale revolution and make bets on higher oil prices years ago are now looming. 

5.7% of all energy companies with junk rated bonds are defaulting as of August, the highest level since 2017. The metric is “considered a key indicator of the industry’s financial stress.”

The defaults are on the rise as companies struggle to service debt, bring in new money and refinance existing debt. The once-darling shale business model has been under significant scrutiny from Wall Street over the last 18 months, adding to the headwinds for many companies. 

Investor interest has faded after years of meager returns while, at the same time, companies struggle to meet their cost of capital with oil prices below $60/barrel. 

Private companies and smaller drillers have felt the most pain thus far. These companies “collectively generate a large portion of U.S. oil,” and their distress is indicative of wider distress throughout U.S. shale. 

Patrick Hughes, a partner at Haynes & Boone said: “They were able to hang in there for a while, but now their debt levels are just too high and they’re going to have to take their medicine.” 

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

Ceasefire On The Rocks? Trump Sanctions Chinese Firm For Importing Iranian Crude

Ceasefire On The Rocks? Trump Sanctions Chinese Firm For Importing Iranian Crude

A huge escalatory step in the US-led economic war on Tehran and its global oil exports, and amid continued trade tensions with Beijing: the US State Department said Monday the US will impose new sanctions against a Chinese company for transporting Iranian crude in contravention of US sanctions. As the WSJ reports

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told The Wall Street Journal on Monday that Chinese company Zhuhai Zhenrong and one of its executives knowingly violated U.S. law barring the import of Iranian crude oil.

China had previously been part of the so-called waiver program, which had granted eight countries exceptions which allowed temporary imports of Iranian oil, but which expired May 2 of this year.

Crude oil is unloaded at Zhoushan, East China’s Zhejiang province in February 2018. Image source: VCG

The US did not renew the waiver program, known as ‘Significant Reduction Exceptions,’ in what was seen globally as a serious escalation by Washington attempting to bring Europe and other economic partners to heel over continued dealings with Tehran. 

The Chinese company has been identified as Zhuhai Zhengrong Co Ltd, which Pompeo accused of violating US law over its continued Iran crude imports. Notably, its CEO will also be under sanction. 

The WSJ continued:

The company and the executive will be barred from engaging in any foreign exchange, banking or property transactions under U.S. jurisdiction. The company couldn’t be immediately located for comment. Chinese officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Pompeo said while addressing reporters in Florida, “We’ve said that we will sanction any sanctionable behavior and we mean it.”

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

Hundreds Of US Troops Begin Deployment To Saudi Arabia To Counter Iran

Hundreds Of US Troops Begin Deployment To Saudi Arabia To Counter Iran

The deployment of hundreds of US troops to Saudi Arabia as part of a build-up to counter Iran in the region amid soaring tensions and a dangerously ratcheting “tanker war” has begun, TheWall Street Journal reported Friday night. 

The Pentagon first revealed on Wednesday that 500 of the 1000 total troops announced by the White House last month to bolster US presence in the Middle East would be heading to the Prince Sultan Air Base, situated in the desert east of Riyadh.

Crucially, Prince Sultan Air Base has been closed to American troops since the rapid fall of Baghdad and overthrow of Saddam at the start of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

Illustrative file image

The WSJ report confirms the new deployment is en route within 24 hours after Iran’s elite IRGC seized two British tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. One tanker has already released, but the other – British-flagged Stena Impero and its crew – is still being detained.

According to the report:  

The military already has begun to deploy more than 500 U.S. service members to Prince Sultan Air Base, about 150 kilometers southwest of Riyadh, officials said. Saudi officials didn’t respond to requests for comment. Officials from U.S. Central Command, which overseas the Middle East, declined to comment.

It’s the latest sign that the Trump Administration is continuing its military buildup in the region, which has so far included fighter jets, B-52 bombers, an aircraft carrier strike force, Navy destroyers and – of course – more troops.

Citing two senior defense officials, CNN had previously reported that a small number of troops were already in the area, and initial preparations were being made for a Patriot missile defense battery as well as improvements to a runway and airfield. US security assessments have determined that the area would be ideal for US troop deployment because it would be difficult for Iran to target with missiles.

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

China’s Losing Control Of Its Crushing Debt Load As Defaults And Missed Payments Skyrocket

China’s Losing Control Of Its Crushing Debt Load As Defaults And Missed Payments Skyrocket

China’s economic slowdown and heavy debt load is affecting everybody in the country – even it’s “jewelry queen”, Zhou Xiaoguang, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Zhou, who went from selling trinkets on city streets to taking a seat in China’s parliament and becoming Ernst & Young‘s “Entrepreneur of the Year” was faced with the reality of being unable to pay her company’s billions of dollars in debt while in a bankruptcy court in April.

She is just one example of a massive debt burden taking its toll on China.

China has relied on borrowing to fuel its expansion for at least a generation. In 2018, the country was known for creating four billionaires a week and is number one globally in self-made fortunes. But this quick pace of growth, with many borrowing heavily in the process, also masked companies’ strategic mistakes.

Fueled by debt, many over-expanded into crowded sectors and now those mal-investments and mis-allocations of resources are coming back to bite them.

Over the past decade, the overall debt of the country has quadrupled to about three times the value of last year’s national output. Corporate debt makes up 2/3 of the total, amounting to more than $26 trillion last year. Most of the money is owed by government-run companies, but the stress is starting to surface also at private companies, who have less wiggle room with creditors and less support from the government.

For instance, Chenxi Group was decimated by lenders last year when they suddenly decide to call in loans. Earlier that year, the founder of machine maker Zhejiang Jindun Group committed suicide, leaping to his death, leaving the company to later reveal that it owed about $1.4 billion to loan sharks.

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

Iran Expected To “Go Nuclear” By Breaching Parts Of JCPOA, Europe Warns

Iran Expected To “Go Nuclear” By Breaching Parts Of JCPOA, Europe Warns

Iran is expected to go nuclear, by backing out of some of the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA), at a sensitive time when Washington appears to be ramping up military readiness in response to what the White House says are credible threats against US assets in the Middle East by the Iranian regime. 

Simply put, the European Union is not capable of facing US sanctions, and despite some meager past efforts, such as the attempt to establish a ‘SWIFT alternative,’ EU initiatives to salvage the deal have been too little too late, as Iran has already hinted to some European officials. Image via CNN

According to a new report in The Wall Street Journal Monday:

European diplomats warned Monday that Iran is preparing to abandon parts of a landmark nuclear deal in response to new U.S. sanctions, a step that risks inflaming tensions after the Trump administration dispatched warships to the Persian Gulf to deter potential Iranian attacks.

The WSJ likens it to a “partial withdrawal” after other international signatories such as France and China tried to keep the deal alive following Trump’s ordered US withdrawal last May. 

Middle East based war reporter Elijah Magnier reports that Iran’s leaders “seem convinced that the only way to stand against the US sanctions is to go nuclear, gradually, pulling out from the Nuclear deal as the US unilaterally did.” He said “President Hassan Rouhani is expected to announce an important step this week.”

It appears the thinking in Tehran is that any future negotiation with the Trump administration are useless and pointless so long as White House rhetoric remains so aggressive, including the weeks ago formal terror designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), widely seen as a potential precursor to war.  

 …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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