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IMF Slashes Global GDP Forecast For 6th Consecutive Time, Warns “Climate Change” Will Hit Economy

IMF Slashes Global GDP Forecast For 6th Consecutive Time, Warns “Climate Change” Will Hit Economy

After the IMF cut its global economic outlook for 2019 to 2.9% in October, the lowest since the financial crisis, and warned that global trade growth would be “close to a standstill”, moments ago the IMF once again downgraded its forecast for global GDP for 2020 and 2021, its sixth straight reduction, although in a sliver of optimism, global GDP in 2020 is now expected to post a modest rebound from 2.9% to 3.3%, (down from 3.4% in October) and to 3.4% in 2021 (down from 3.6%) as the IMF says “there are now tentative signs that global growth may be stabilizing, though at subdued levels.”

According to the IMF, the downward revision primarily reflects negative surprises to economic activity in a few emerging market economies, most notably India, where 2020 GDP is now expected to rise just 5.8% down from 7.0%, which means that in 2020 China will regain the title of the world’s fastest growing economy. In a few cases, this reassessment also reflects the impact of increased social unrest.

Emerging market debacle aside, the IMF said that on the positive side, market sentiment “has been boosted by tentative signs that manufacturing activity and global trade are bottoming out, a broad-based shift toward accommodative monetary policy, intermittent favorable news on US-China trade negotiations, and diminished fears of a no-deal Brexit, leading to some retreat from the risk-off environment that had set in at the time of the October WEO.”

However, and this will be of particular interest to traders, even the IMF admitted that “few signs of turning points are yet visible in global macroeconomic data.”

And so, in addition to the collapse in India, the IMF also sees continued slowdown in the US and Europe in 2020, both of which were cut by 0.1% to 2.0% and 1.3%, while China saw a modest increase by 0.2% to 6.0%, which however drops to 5.8% in 2021.

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Haftar Blocks All Libyan Oil Exports Day Before Berlin Peace Conference

Haftar Blocks All Libyan Oil Exports Day Before Berlin Peace Conference

Given Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar has over the past two years captured the majority of the oil and gas rich country’s energy producing regions, he’s now playing his biggest card yet to leverage international peace talks in his favor amid a final push for his Libyan National Army (LNA) forces to take Tripoli. 

Bloomberg reports Saturday that the Benghazi-based ‘rebel’ general has now “blocked oil exports at ports under his control, slashing output by more than half and posing a potential setback for an international conference on Sunday that aims to broker an end to a civil war in the OPEC nation.”

Image source: AP via Oilandgaspeople.com

The major talks Sunday are due to be held in Berlin, and a who’s who of external backers of each side of the conflict will be in attendance, including Putin, Erdogan, France’s Macron, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as the Italian prime minister and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Berlin conference comes after a failed deal to establish a ceasefire in Moscow earlier in the week, when Haftar left the city after the head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, Fayez al-Sarraj, actually signed the agreement. Haftar also reportedly secretly scuttled to different Mediterranean capitals, including Athens, in a bid to gain recognition as legitimate leader on the ground.

Haftar’s drastic move to block oil exports is likely aimed at torpedoing the Berlin meeting before it even starts, given he’s proven intransigent in the face of international pressure for him to halt the ongoing Tripoli offensive — even during the talks hosted by one of his key political backers Vladimir Putin. 

Libya’s National Oil Corp. (NOC) has now declared Force Majeure, per Bloomberg:

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Mystery Chinese Virus Has Likely Infected Over 1,700 As It Sweeps Across China And Japan

Mystery Chinese Virus Has Likely Infected Over 1,700 As It Sweeps Across China And Japan

While there have been more than 60 confirmed cases of a new mystery virus emerging from Wuhan, China, UK experts estimate that closer to 1,700 have been sickened with the SARS-like pneumonia, according to the BBC.

“I am substantially more concerned than I was a week ago,” disease specialist Prof Neil Ferguson told the outlet.

The work was conducted by the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, which advises bodies including the UK government and the World Health Organization (WHO). –BBC

The estimate was calculated by the Imperial College of London based on the following assumptions: 

  • Wuhan International Airport has a catchment population of 19 million individuals [1].
  • There is a mean 10-day delay between infection and detection, comprising a 5-6 day incubation period [8,9]  and a 4-5 day delay from symptom onset to detection/hospitalisation of a case (the cases detected in Thailand and Japan were hospitalised 3 and 7 days after onset, respectively) [4,10].
  • Total volume of international travel from Wuhan over the last two months has been 3,301 passengers per day. This estimate is derived from the 3,418 foreign passengers per day in the top 20 country destinations based on 2018 IATA data [11], and uses 2016 IATA data held by Imperial College to correct for the travel surge at Chinese New Year present in the latter data (which has not happened yet this year) and for travel to countries outside the top 20 destination list.

According to the report, “It is likely that the Wuhan outbreak of a novel coronavirus has caused substantially more cases of moderate or severe respiratory illness than currently reported. The estimates presented here suggest surveillance should be expanded to include all hospitalised cases of pneumonia or severe respiratory disease in the Wuhan area and other well-connected Chinese cities. This analysis does not directly address transmission routes, but past experience with SARS and MERS-CoV outbreaks of similar scale suggests currently self-sustaining human-to-human transmission should not be ruled out.”

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Mystery SARS-Like Virus Spreads To Japan

Mystery SARS-Like Virus Spreads To Japan

A new mystery disease which has sickened dozens in Wuhan, China has made its way into Japan, after a Chinese national traveled from the eastern Chinese city to his home in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, according to the Japan Times.

The man, in his 30s, returned from Wuhan on January 6, and was hospitalized four days later where he recovered and was discharged on Wednesday, according to a hospital official.

On Monday, the World Health Organization announced that the new coronavirus with SARS-like pneumonia symptoms had struck a woman traveling from China to Thailand – after she was hospitalized January 8th.

Chinese officials said on Wednesday that human-to-human infection cannot be ruled out after forty-one people received a preliminary diagnosis of the new coronavirus, after a 61-year-old man died of the disease on Saturday.

While preliminary investigations indicate that most of the patients had worked at or visited a particular seafood wholesale market, one woman may have contracted the virus from her husband, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a public notice.

The commission said the husband, who fell ill first, worked at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Meanwhile, the wife said she hasn’t had any exposure to the market.

It’s possible that the husband brought home food from the market that then infected his wife, Hong Kong health official Chuang Shuk-kwan said at a news briefing. But because the wife did not exhibit symptoms until days after her husband, it’s also possible that he infected her. –CBS News

That said, authorities believe the risk of human-to-human transmission remains low. Still, the US Embassy in Beijing issued an alert to Americans traveling in China last week, warning anyone who has been to Wuhan to avoid contact with all animals and sick people, and to wash their hands frequently.

Hedge Fund CIO: Will The Fed Ever Be Held Accountable For Turbocharging Inequality That Poisons America

Hedge Fund CIO: Will The Fed Ever Be Held Accountable For Turbocharging Inequality That Poisons America

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God,” pledged the 2.7mm young, courageous American soldiers that our Commanders-in-Chief sent to Iraq and Afghanistan Since 2001. Over 6,900 of them died there. Over 52,000 have been wounded. Bush, Obama and Trump spent over $6 trillion. 480,000 Iraqis, Afghanis and Pakistanis died, half civilians. Millions were displaced. Who is accountable? What are the consequences?
 
Overall

“This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” wrote one of Boeing’s employees, referring to their 737 Max. “I don’t know how to fix these things… it’s systemic. It’s culture. It’s the fact we have a senior leadership team that understands very little about the business and yet are driving us to certain objectives,” wrote another. “I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year. Can’t do it one more time, the pearly gates will be closed,” wrote another. Boeing is our mightiest manufacturing exporter. A symbol of American greatness. Boeing’s board held the CEO accountable, fired him. The consequence for the catastrophe of his leadership? He walked away with $61mm in compensation.

Carlos Ghosn held an absurd press conference to clear his name, having fled Japan in box barely big enough to contain his greed and shamelessness. Set against Adam Neumann’s $1.7bln golden parachute, Ghosn perhaps believes Japanese consequences are overly harsh.

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

Russia Conducts War Drill With Hypersonic Missiles Amid Threat Of War In Middle East

Russia Conducts War Drill With Hypersonic Missiles Amid Threat Of War In Middle East

Russian President Vladimir Putin observed a war drill off the coast of Crimea on Thursday that included the launching of hypersonic missiles, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The ministry’s Zvezda broadcasting service said Russia’s Black Sea and Northern Fleets participated in the military exercise.

Various missiles were fired during the drill, including Kalibr cruise missiles and Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched missiles.

More than 30 warships, including the Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Makarov frigate, one submarine, and more than 40 aircraft, including Tu-95MS strategic bombers, Su-30SM fighters, and Su-24M bombers, participated in the drill.  

Two MIG-31K fighters air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic missiles while guided missile destroyers launched Kalibr cruise missiles at targets.

Putin observed much of the exercise aboard the Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser.

“The drills have been held successfully,” Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, told Putin on Thursday. 

The drill comes as the US and Iran were on the verge of war earlier this week. Tensions have simmered down but are still elevated after Iran launched missiles at two US bases in Iraq.

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Russia is a military ally of Iran, both countries have conducted military operations in Syria, and in recent times, held maritime war drills.

Washington’s relations with Russia and Iran have deteriorated since the beginning of the Syrian civil war and even more since President Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

Russia’s latest military exercise and escalating tensions in the Middle East are certainly indicating that the world is inching closer to conflict.

Iran Refuses To Hand Over Crash Data, Stoking Speculation Plane Was Accidentally Shot Down

Iran Refuses To Hand Over Crash Data, Stoking Speculation Plane Was Accidentally Shot Down

Iran will reportedly refuse to hand over black box data from the Boeing 737 that crashed over Tehran last night to Boeing, stoking speculation that the aircraft was shot down by an Iranian missile.

Video of wreckage from the crash, which shows shattered bodies and debris spread over a wide area, has surfaced on social media.



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No Survivors After Ukraine-Bound 737 Crashes Two Minutes Into Flight From Tehran

No Survivors After Ukraine-Bound 737 Crashes Two Minutes Into Flight From Tehran

Update: There were no survivors in the Ukraine International 737-800 which crashed shortly after takeoff from Iran, according to the head of the Iranian Red Crescent’s Relief and Rescue Organization in an appearance on state television. The New York Timesmeanwhile, reports that the plane was carrying “at least 170 people,” while Bloomberg puts the number between 167 and 180. The cause of the crash has thus far been reported as a ‘technical problem.’

A Boeing 737-800 of the Ukraine International airline in Duesseldorf, Germany, in September.Credit…Ina Fassbender/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Four helicopters and 22 ambulances were sent to the crash site, according to Bloomberg.


Updated photos of air crash flight #PS752 @isna_farsi

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

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Indonesia Deploys Fighter Jets To South China Sea Amid Tensions With China

Indonesia Deploys Fighter Jets To South China Sea Amid Tensions With China

The Indonesian Air Force has deployed four General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons to the South China Sea on Tuesday in a stand-off with China over its exclusive economic zone, reported Reuters.

The stand-off began last month when Beijing sent a coast guard vessel and commercial fishing boats to the disputed waters off the coast of Indonesia’s northern Natuna islands.

Fajar Adriyanto, the air force spokesman, said four F-16 fighter jets have been conducting flight missions over the islands as a deterrent against China.

“They’re doing standard patrols to protect our sovereign area. It just so happened that they’re patrolling Natuna,” Adriyanto said. “We don’t have the order to start a war with China.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Monday that increased Chinese vessels in the disputed waters is a direct violation of international law.

Widodo said there’s no negotiation with China when it comes “to our sovereignty.”


Indonesian president Joko Widodo told reporters: “There is no negotiation when it comes to our sovereignty.”

Sends 4 more warships to join 6 already in a standoff with China over the Natuna islands, with China significantly under powered.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

In the last week, the Indonesian Navy has ramped up patrols in the same region that is known for vast natural resources, reported Channel News Asia.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday Beijing had “opened diplomatic channels” with Indonesia since the stand-off began, and said “both countries shoulder responsibility for maintaining regional peace and stability.”

Reuters notes that ship tracker data shows at least two Chinese ships, Zhongguohaijing and Haijing 3511, were on the edge of Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone on Tuesday. Both ships were located on China’s “nine-dash line.”

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

Iranian MPs Pass Bill Labeling All US Military Personnel “Terrorist Entities”

Iranian MPs Pass Bill Labeling All US Military Personnel “Terrorist Entities”

Lawmakers of the Islamic Consultative Assembly on Tuesday have labeled the Pentagon and its affiliates as terrorist entities under a new law, according to Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). 

Iran’s new legislation was overwhelmingly approved by 223 lawmakers, according to IRNA. The law comes in response to the US’ assassination of top Iranian general Qasim Suleimani last Friday. 

The law states, “all members of the Pentagon, all affiliated companies, institutions, agents and commanders,” are now considered terrorist organizations in the eyes of Iran. 

This means, all those Silicon Valley technology companies that have contracts with the Pentagon, are now all classified as terrorist organizations and could be targeted if war broke out.

The nation’s Supreme National Security Council has already designated the U.S. Central Command as a terrorist organization. 

The Trump administration recently identified the IRGC as a terrorist group after Trump pulled out of the 2016 nuclear deal with Iran. 

As both countries are designating each other as a terrorist organization, Iran is now on the verge of conducting a retaliation attack against the U.S.

President Trump has warned that if retaliation is seen, the U.S. military will strike 52 “very high level” Iranian cultural and state targets.

Iran responded Tuesday and said it has considered 13 “revenge scenarios” in retaliation for Soleimani’s killing.

Fars News Agency quoted Iranian Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani on Tuesday as saying that “even if there is consensus on the weakest scenario, carrying it out can be a historic nightmare for the Americans.”

Prediction Consensus: What The ‘Experts’ See Coming In 2020

Prediction Consensus: What The ‘Experts’ See Coming In 2020

Through the ages, humans have feared uncertainty. We’ve searched for clues in everything from entrails to tea leaves to the arrangement of heavenly bodies in the night sky.

In the modern era, data and media are the new magic 8-ball. The jury is still out on whether we’ve gotten any better at anticipating the forces that will shape the coming year, but that certainly hasn’t stopped people from trying.

Of the hundreds of forward-looking pieces of content published in the lead-up to 2020, how many of the expert predictions lined up? Was there a consensus on any particular trend, or were predictions all over the map?

During the month of December, Visual Capitalist’s Nick Routley analyzed over 100 articles, whitepapers, and interviews to answer that question. While there was no firm consensus on where 2020 will take us, there were a few themes that appeared in multiple publications. Today’s graphic highlights these reappearing predictions, and below, we examine seven of them in more detail.

The Promise and Controversy of 5G

One technology that’s sure to capture the headlines in 2020 is 5G. Broadband speeds of over one gigabit per second will become a reality when 5G technology rolls out across the country, without the cable that currently connects most homes. This prediction is a slam dunk, as some carriers are already testing the technology in select neighborhoods around the United States.

Experts also predict that a wave of 5G-enabled smartphone and IoT products will become commercially available in 2020.

The wild card in this 5G story will be guessing which companies end up building out the new network. Huawei was in a strong position to lead the charge, but the company has been stonewalled in a number countries – most notably the United States, Australia, and Japan. Whether due to national security concerns or protectionism, Chinese companies may continue to face an uphill battle in Western markets.

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

Iran Deploys F-14 Fighter Jets, Places Ballistic Missile Bases On ‘High Alert’

Iran Deploys F-14 Fighter Jets, Places Ballistic Missile Bases On ‘High Alert’

Tehran has deployed Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter jets to its borders hours after the U.S. killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike at Baghdad international airport, according to Sputnik News.

NBC News Tehran Bureau Chief Ali Arouzi tweeted that “Iranian f14 fighters jets maneuvering on the western skies and on alert and patrol.” 


Iranian f14 fighters jets manoeuvring on the western skies and on alert and patrol. State tv


Al-Mayadeen news tweeted: “Iran: Revolutionary Guard Agency of Iran: Armed forces in the army and Revolutionary Guard are awaiting orders from the highest command.” 

In other related news, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned in a statement that the “criminals” responsible for the death of a top Iranian general will face “severe revenge,” and that retaliation could be a regional war.

And defense analyst Babak Taghvaee tweeted that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “has put all of its ballistic missile bases on high-alert. #IRGC affiliated news media of #Iran’s Islamic Regime claim that they are ready to launch missiles at several airbases which host #USAF airplanes in #UAE, #Qatar, #SaudiArabia & #Jordan!” 

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Helicopter Money Is Here: How The Fed Monetized Billions In Debt Sold Just Days Earlier

Helicopter Money Is Here: How The Fed Monetized Billions In Debt Sold Just Days Earlier

The Fed’s charter prohibits its from directly purchasing bonds or bills issued by the US Treasury: that process is also known as monetization and various Fed chairs have repeatedly testified under oath to Congress that the Fed does not do it. Of course, the alternative is what is known as “Helicopter Money”, when the central bank directly purchases bonds issued by the Treasury and forms the backbone of the MMT monetary cult.

But what if there is at a several day interval between Treasury issuance and subsequent purchase? Well, that’s perfectly legal, and it’s something the Fed has done not only during QE1, QE2 and QE3, but is continuing to do now as part of its “QE4/NOT QE.” 

Here’s how.

On December 16, the US Treasury sold $36 billion in T-Bills with a 182-day term, maturing on June 18, 2020, with CUSIP SV2. And, as shown in the Treasury Direct snapshot below, of the total $34.3 billion in competitive purchases, Dealers acquired $23.7 billion.

What happened next?

For the answer we go to the Fed’s POMO page, which shows which specific T-Bill CUSIPs were purchased by its markets desk on any given POMO day when Dealers sell up to $7.5 billion in Bills to the Fed.

Exhibit 1: on December 19, just three days after the above T-Bill was issued and on the very day the issue settled (Dec 19), Dealers flipped the same Bills they bought from the Treasury back to the Fed for an unknown markup. Specifically, of the $7.5BN in total POMO, the SV2 CUSIP which had been issued earlier that week, represented the biggest bond “put” to the Fed, amounting to $3.9 billion, more than half of the total POMO on that day, and by far the most of any CUSIP sold to the NY Fed’s markets desk on that day.

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4,000 US Troop Surge To Middle East Could Be Imminent Amid Baghdad Chaos

4,000 US Troop Surge To Middle East Could Be Imminent Amid Baghdad Chaos

Three U.S. defense officials told Fox News on Tuesday that the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division’s alert brigade has been given orders to deploy to Kuwait amid the social unrest in Baghdad. 

Even though all supporters of Iran-backed militias have withdrawn from the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday, the reinforcement of U.S. troops could be imminent. 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement on Tuesday that 750 troops are immediately deploying to the Middle East because of the attack on the U.S. embassy. 


The US says it’s sending 750 troops to Iraq after its embassy in Baghdad was stormed by protesters.

Read more: https://aje.io/lw9m2 


Esper said he had authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division.

“This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today,” Esper said in a statement.

Apart from the rapid deployment, the three sources told Fox that approximately 4,000 paratroopers could be deployed to the region in the coming days.

There are 5,000 US troops currently stationed in Iraq supporting local forces, among the more than 60,000 troops positioned in military bases across the Middle East.

President Trump blamed Iran for the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in a tweetstorm on Tuesday.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will,” tweeted Trump. “Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible.”

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“No More Transit Risk”: Ukraine & Russia Ink Landmark Gas Transit Deal, Hammering European Gas Prices

“No More Transit Risk”: Ukraine & Russia Ink Landmark Gas Transit Deal, Hammering European Gas Prices

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has hailed the completion of an against all odds landmark deal with Russia’s Gazprom as ensuring “energy security and prosperity for Ukrainians.” 

It will keep natural gas flowing to Western Europe via Ukraine for the next five years, which is estimated to net Ukraine $7 billion (€6.25 billion) in gas transit fees by 2024

After a series of compromise breakthroughs over the past weeks, including Gazprom paying out $2.9 billion legal settlement to Naftogaz and Kiev in turn agreeing to wave a separate legal claim, the two sides finally inked the historic deal on Monday, which signals a broader thawing in tensions and dramatic deescalation after Moscow and Kiev have for years stood on the brink of open war. 

Per Gazprom Chairman Alexey Miller, the accord has already gone into effect as of Tuesday: “After five days of uninterrupted negotiations in Vienna, definitive decisions have been made and final deals have been reached,” he said in a statement.

And Zelenskiy further presented it as an ‘everyone wins’ breakthrough: “Europe knows that we will not fail when it comes to energy security,” he said. Indeed European gas markets immediately felt the effects:

European gas and power prices extended declines after a last-gasp accord between Russia and Ukraine on natural gas flows averted a winter supply crisis.

According to Bloomberg’s analysis:

“There’s no more transit risk,” said Thierry Bros, an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian & Eurasian Studies. “We are in a world with a lot of LNG and piped gas and the Russians want to keep their market share in Europe.”

Benchmark Dutch gas prices dropped 0.7%, taking their record annual plunge to 44%. German power traded at its lowest level since May 2018.

…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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