West Uses Semantics and Doubletalk to Stay Funded

The West continues to self-destruct and has no other option but to sacrifice whatever is left of its reputation to save itself financially. While NATO is persistent with its anti-Russia rhetorics to save itself from obsolescence, the White House is forced to sustain the “Iran is terrorist” line to extort the Arabs. A much needed … Continue reading West Uses Semantics and Doubletalk to Stay Funded →

Source: Geopolitics – West Uses Semantics and Doubletalk to Stay Funded

Shaping The Future: Moscow And Beijing's Multipolar World Order

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Stratgic Culture Foundation,
Once in a while, think tanks such as the Brookings Institute are able to deal with highly strategic and current issues. Often, the conferences held by such organizations are based on false pretences and copious banality, the sole intention being to undermine and downplay the efforts of strategic opponents of the US. Recently, the Brookings Institute's International Strategy and Strategy Project held a lecture on May 9, 2017 where it invited Bobo Lo, an analyst at Lowy Institute for International Policy, to speak. The topic of the subject, extremely interesting to the author and mentioned in the past, is the strategic partnership between China and Russia.

The main assumption Bobo Lo starts with to define relations between Moscow and Beijing is that the two countries base their collaboration on convenience and a convergence of interests rather than on an alliance. He goes on to say that the major frictions in the relationship concern the fate that Putin and Xi hold for Europe, in particular for the European Union, in addition to differences of opinions surrounding the Chinese role in the Pacific. In the first case, Lo states that Russia wants to end the European project while China hopes for a strong and prosperous Europe. With regard to the situation in the Pacific, according to this report, Moscow wants a balance of power between powers without hegemonic domination being transferred from Washington to Beijing.
The only merit in Lo’s analysis is his identification of the United States as the major cause of the strategic proximity between Moscow and Beijing, certainly a hypothesis that is little questioned by US policy makers. Lo believes Washington's obsession with China-Russia cooperation is counterproductive, though he also believes that the United States doesn’t actually possess capabilities to sabotage or delimit the many areas of cooperation between Beijing and Moscow.
What is missing in Lo’s analysis are two essential factors governing how Moscow and Beijing have structured their relationship. China and Russia have different tasks in ushering in their world order, namely, by preserving global stability through military and economic means. Their overall relationship of mutual cooperation goes beyond the region of Eurasia and focuses on the whole process of a sustainable globalization as well as on how to create an environment where everyone can prosper in a viable and sustainable way. Doing this entails a departure from the current belligerent and chaotic unipolar world order.
Moscow and Beijing: Security and Economy
Beijing has been the world's economic engine for over two decades and shows no signs of slowing down, at least not too much. Moscow, contrary to western media propaganda, has returned to play a role not only on a regional scale but as a global power. Both of these paths of military and economic growth for China and Russia have set things on a collision course with the United States, the current global superpower that tends to dominate international relations with economic, political and military bullying thanks to a complicit media and corrupt politicians.
In the case of Beijing, the process of globalization has immensely enhanced the country, allowing the Asian giant to become the world's factory, enabling Western countries to outsource to low-cost labor. In this process of economic growth, Beijing has over the years gone from being a simple paradise for low-cost outsourcing for private companies to being a global leader in investment and long-term projects. The dividends of years of wealth accumulation at the expense of Western nations has allowed Beijing to be more than just a strategic partner for other nations. China drives the process of globalization, as recently pointed out by Xi Jinping in Davos in a historic speech. China's transition from a harmless partner of the West to regional power with enormous foreign economic investments place the country on a collision course with Washington. Inevitably, Beijing will become the Asian hegemon, something US policymakers have always guaranteed will not be tolerated.
The danger Washington sees is that of China emerging as a regional superpower that will call the shots in the Pacific, the most important region of the planet. The United States has many vested interests in the region and undeniably sees its future as the leader of the world order in jeopardy. Obama's pivot to Asia was precisely for the purposes of containing China and limiting its economic power so as to attenuate Beijing’s ambitions.
Unsurprisingly, Washington's concerns with Moscow relate to its resurgence in military capabilities. Russia is able to oppose certain objectives of the United States (see Ukraine or Syria) by military means. The possibility of the Kremlin limiting American influence in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Eurasia in general is cause for concern for American policy makers, who continue to fail to contain Russia and limit Moscow’s spheres of influence.
In this context, the strategic division of labor between Russia and China comes into play to ensure the stability of the Eurasian region as a whole; in Asia, in the Middle East and in Europe. To succeed in this task, Moscow has mainly assumed the military burden, shared with other friendly nations belonging to the affected areas. In the Middle East, for example, Tehran's partnership with Moscow is viewed positively by Beijing, given its intention to stabilize the region and to eradicate the problem of terrorism, something about which nations like China and Russia are particularly concerned.
The influence of Islamist extremists in the Caucasian regions in Russia or in the autonomous region of Xinjiang in China are something that both Putin and Xi are aware can be exploited by opposing Western countries. In North Africa, Egypt has signed several contracts for the purchase of military vehicles from Moscow, as well as having bought the two Mistral ships from France, thereby relying on military supplies from Moscow. It is therefore not surprising that Moscow and Egypt cooperated with the situation in Libya and in North Africa in general.
In Southeast Asia, Moscow seeks to coordinate efforts to reach an agreement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) of New Delhi and Islamabad (Tehran will be next), with the blessing of Beijing as the protagonist of the 2017 SCO meeting, is a keystone achievement and the right prism through which to observe the evolution of the region. Moscow is essentially acting as a mediator between the parties and is also able to engage with India in spite of the dominating presence of China. The ultimate goal of Moscow and Beijing is to eradicate the terrorist phenomenon in the Asian region with a view to what is happening in North Africa and the Middle East with Iran and Egypt.
Heading to a Multipolar World Order
The turning point in relations between Moscow and Beijing concerns the ability to engage third countries in military or economic ways, depending on these countries’ needs and objectives. Clearly in the military field it is Moscow that is leading, with arms sold to current and future partners and security cooperation (such as with ex-Soviet Central-Asian republics or in the Donbass) and targeted interventions if needed, as in Syria. Beijing, on the other hand, acts in a different way, focusing on the economic arena, in particular with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at its center.
Initiatives such as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) and the Maritime Silk Road have the same strategic aim of the Russian military initiative, namely, ensuring the independence of the region from a geo-economic perspective, reaching win-win arrangements for all partners involved. Naturally, the win-win agreement does not mean that China wins and then wins again; rather, a series of bilateral concessions can come to satisfy all actors involved. An important example in this regard that explains the Sino-Russian partnership concerns the integration of the Eurasian Union with the Chinese Silk Road. The Russian concerns over the predominant status of the Chinese colossus in Central Asia have been assuaged by a number of solutions, such as the support of the OBOR infrastructure program to that of the Eurasian Union. Beijing is not interested in replacing Moscow's leading role the post-Soviet nations in Central Asia but rather with providing significant energy and economic development to particularly underdeveloped nations that are in need of important economic investment, something only Beijing is able to guarantee.
The linking of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with the One Belt One Road initiative guarantees Moscow a primary role in the transit of goods from east to west, thereby becoming the connecting point between China and Europe while expanding the role and function of the EEU. All participants in these initiatives have a unique opportunity to expand their economic condition through this whole range of connections. Beijing guarantees the money for troubled countries, and Moscow the security. The SCO will play a major role in reducing and preventing terrorist influence in the region, a prerequisite for the success of any projects. Also, the AIIB, and to some extent the BRICS Development Bank, will also have to step in and offer alternative economic guarantees to countries potentially involved in these projects, in order to free them from the existing international financial institutions.
One Belt One Road, and all the related projects, represent a unique occasion whereby all relevant players share common goals and benefits from such transformative geo-economic relationships. This security-economy relationship between Moscow and Beijing is  the heart of the evolution of the current world order, from the unipolar to the multipolar world. The US cannot oppose China on the economic front and Russia on the military front. It all comes down to how much China and Russia can continue to provide and guarantee economic and security umbrellas for the rest of the world.

Source: Zerohedge – Shaping The Future: Moscow And Beijing's Multipolar World Order

"Let's Burn Down The Universities"

Authored by JC Collins via Philosophy of Metrics blog,
An Offensive Act of Self Defence to Save the Great School of Western Thought
It should be clear to all reasoning people with the ability for critical thinking that a pattern of cultural warfare has been unfolding against the Western world since at least the end of World War Two. The contrast between what was then and what is now is stark and frightening. It should serve as all the evidence we require to make the final determination about what has been happening.
The complete destruction of the traditional family unit has taken place through a process of indirect and direct attacks against the proven characteristics of Western civilization. It should be obvious that media and art have orchestrated a well-thought out strategy of cultural warfare against the masculine and feminine ideals and support columns of culture.
This strategy has attacked the natural and instinctual strengths of both men and women while promoting the weakness from within each of us as individuals. The battles of this cultural attack have been orchestrated and waged from inside the once great structures of Western thought.
Our educational buildings and curriculums have been used to erode and shatter all the ideals of natural and instinctual existence which have developed within the Western mind. The more we remember and rediscover, the more we realize that almost everything which is taught in our schools is either a corrupt twisted version of truth, or is an outright lie and fabrication.
If our curriculums were based on truth they would not need the constant changing and tweaking which takes takes place. Nor would it require involvement of government controls. All are tell-tale signs that something smells rotten in Denmark.
Over the years there have been various exposé and theories surrounding everything from the Frankfurt School, the Tavistock Institute, Lucis Trust, Freemasonic control of all things, Satanism, Bilderberg, Trilateral, Rhodes, and so on and so on. The plethora of culprits and evil organizations run the gambit of all human elitism and consolidation of wealth and power.
Not withstanding some truth to this large list of nefarious actors, and not to mention that the stated longterm goals of these groups and organizations match with the results which have been achieved since the end of the war, there is much more to the expanding collapse of Western civilization which needs to be considered.
In the posts The Wisdom of the Ancients – Part One and How Your Brain is Turned Against You, we reviewed our own accountabilities and responsibilities alongside some of the techniques which are used against us. It should be clear that we may have to listen to the sales pitch of a huckster but it doesn’t mean we have to believe that huckster. The theme from those posts is that if we don’t plan our own lives someone else will plan it for us. This is in essence what is happening.
We have been conditioned to follow and plan our lives along a very specific path which forces us further down into the systemic control mechanisms which have taken hold of our culture. You are left to plan your life within this strategic grid. This grid contains multiple pathways which all lead through the false teachings and methodologies which have been manufactured by those who wish to devolve and re-engineer Western civilization. The trap ensures you continue bouncing around inside the construct with an ever growing sense of confusion and hopelessness.
Those who do not agree with the teachings of the construct are made to feel regressive and are told they are the problem in society for which the construct exists in the first place. This script is supported by all forms of media, including movies, music, social media, both mainstream and alternative media, as well as school curriculums, from the early pre-school sessions to the “advanced” learnings which are communicated and rehearsed in colleges and universities.
Please ask yourself a question. Does it feel like our culture has been progressive? Everything that has a seed in human weakness and depravity has been promoted and expanded across the decades. Our culture is over-sexualized. We thieve and betray one another over the smallest rewards. The murder of unborn children is accepted as righteous even though it ruins the emotional spirit of the mother. Racism against anything rooted in traditional Western culture is out of control. Our children are taught at an early age about the degenerate sex world. Massive migration has undermined the Western ideals and systems of belief which have been a part of its growth and greatness for thousands of years. Alcoholism is both openly promoted and applauded through the subtle insinuations in the media. The rampant fragmentation of the family unit and a corrupt and unreliable system of law which supports that fragmentation are the greatest loss we have experienced. This is all supported by an educational system which is reducing critical thinking and dumbing down generations.
This does not feel progressive. When we consider the stark changes which have taken place over the last eight decades we should come to the conclusion that it is in fact regressive. All of the technological advancements would still have taken place without the corruption of Western civilization, so any form of counter-argument about science and the advancement of medicine and technology being possible because of this “progressive” culture stands in opposition and denial of the leaps made during the agricultural and industrial revolutions.
Similar lines of thought regarding colonialism and the slave trade are often made by the regressive left educational institutions and supporting media. But these arguments also stand in opposition to the truthful history of the world where we find that all cultures had forms of colonialism and slave trades are wide and diverse, with there being more slavery in the world today than at any other time in world history.
The disease has burrowed itself so deep into our institutions that it is hard to imagine how we would remove it without completely destroying the host. But what choice to we have at this late hour? Continuing as we have been is tantamount to surrender and shackling our descendants with an unthinkable ideology of absolute sameness and collectivism.
It’s interesting that more and more students are coming out of the university system and understanding that they in fact understand nothing. The loss of critical thinking and a cultural anchor point, both of which have been a part of the collective-socialist strategy, are now beginning to awaken more of those who have been traversing through the system. It’s almost as if nature and instinct are re-emerging from within the individual minds of the construct and attempting to establish new anchor points.
Now is the time to act and reverse the momentum which has thus far worked against us. We need to tear down the institutions and framework of the simulated world which has built up around us. The great school of the Western mind cannot be destroyed and it will never stop learning. In fact, this challenge, the one we have been faced with now for generations, could very well end up being one of our greatest lessons and opportunities for advancement.

Source: Zerohedge – "Let's Burn Down The Universities"

"Arbitrage Is Dead" – Commodity Traders Lament A World "Where Everyone Knows Everything"

For commodity traders operating in the Information Age, Bloomberg reports that just good old trading doesn’t cut it anymore… "Everything is transparent, everybody knows everything and has access to information."
Unlike the stock market in which transactions are typically based on information that’s public, firms that buy and sell raw materials thrived for decades in an opaque world where their metier relied on knowledge privy only to a few. Now, technological development, expanding sources of data, more sophisticated producers and consumers as well as transparency surrounding deals are eroding their advantage.
Just ask Noble Group…

At a panel discussing ‘What’s Next for Commodity Trading: Drivers, Disruptors and Opportunities’, Bloomberg reports that Sunny Verghese, the chief executive officer of food trader Olam International Ltd., lamented declining margins.
“The consumers and producers are trying to eat our lunch. So we got to be smart about differentiating ourselves,” he said.

As market participants’ access to information increases, the traders highlighted the need to more than simply buy and sell commodities as profits from arbitrage — or gains made from a differential in prices — shrinks. That means getting involved in the supply chain by potentially buying into infrastructure that’s key to the production and distribution of raw materials, and also providing financing for the development of such assets.
“The most valuable commodity out there is information, and the most useful information is the proprietary, critical information that you obtain from your own supply chain,” said John Driscoll, the chief strategist at JTD Energy Services Pte, who has spent more than 30 years in the petroleum trading industry in Singapore.
 
“You have to have skin in the game. You have to have access to assets, whether it’s infrastructure, terminals, vessels or refineries.”

It’s critical for commodity traders to evolve as margins have declined because of more transparency and “price arbitrage has disappeared,” said Olam’s Verghese. For example, the number of price quotes published by agencies such as S&P Global Platts and Argus, which assess the value of commodities globally, have increased about 15 times since 1990, according to Verghese.
While “arbitrage is dead,” traders will “continue to have substantial opportunity and disruption but the way of capturing that opportunity becomes more sophisticated,” Mercuria’s Jaeggi said.

Source: Zerohedge – "Arbitrage Is Dead" – Commodity Traders Lament A World "Where Everyone Knows Everything"

Nigel Farage Responds to Manchester Suicide Attack: 'This is a Direct Attack on Children'

Nigel Farage was interviewed by Tucker Carlson this evening to discuss the suicide attack in Manchester that killed at least 19 and wounded dozens.
Farage told Carlson, “we have been lulled into a slight sense of complacency,” refraining, however, from jumping to conclusions as to who was responsible for the attack.
He noted that Britains shouldn’t put their guard down, post BREXIT, saying “we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re in a better place than the rest of Europe on this.”
Farage pointed out that the bombing was a ‘direct attack on children… marks a new low in all forms of terrorism.”
Watch.

Content originally published at iBankCoin.com
 

Source: Zerohedge – Nigel Farage Responds to Manchester Suicide Attack: 'This is a Direct Attack on Children'

How Russia Became "Our Adversary" Again

Authored by Paul Street via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Americans are routinely told by politicians and corporate media pundits and talking heads that Russia is their enemy – an “adversary state.”  The assertion has been normalized.  It passes without challenge or justification.
Forget for now the question of whether and how “our adversary Russia” intervened significantly on Donald Trump’s behalf in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  Put aside the glaring absence of any smoking gun evidence to back that charge up and contemplate the fundamental matter of how and why Vladimir Putin’s Russia became “our enemy” in the first place.
For those of us old enough to remember the long Cold War era, the designation of Russia as a leading global U.S. foe carries no small irony. From the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 until the collapse of the officially Marxist-Leninist Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites in the early 1990s, Russia was an ideological and political enemy of the Western capitalist “elite.”
The USSR was no workers’ paradise.  For all its formal allegiance to Marx and Engels, it was a militantly hierarchical class society ruled by a tyrannical state. After World War Two, it held brutal military power over Eastern Europe and East Germany. Still, Soviet-era Russia created an urban and industrialized society with real civilizational accomplishments (including cradle-to-grave health-care, housing, and food security and an impressive educational system and cultural apparatus) outside capitalism.  It pursued an independent path to modernity without a capitalist class, devoid of a bourgeoisie, in the name of socialism. It therefore posed a political and ideological challenge to U.S-led Western capitalism – and to Washington’s related plans for the Third World periphery, which was supposed to subordinate its developmental path to the needs of the rich nations (the U.S., Western Europe, and honorarily white Japan) of the world-capitalist core.
Honest U.S. Cold Warriors knew that it was the political threat of “communism” – its appeal to poor nations and people (including the lower and working classes within rich/core states) – and not any serious military danger that constituted the true “Soviet menace.”  Contrary to U.S. “containment” doctrine after World War II, the ruling Soviet bureaucracy was concerned above all with keeping an iron grip on its internal and regional empire, not global expansion and “world revolution.” It did, however “deter…the worst of Western violence” (Noam Chomsky) by providing military and other assistance to Third World targets of U.S. and Western attack (including China, Korea, Indonesia, Egypt, Syria, Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos).  Along the way, it provided an example of independent development outside and against the capitalist world system advanced by the superpower headquartered in Washington.
To make matters worse from Washington’s “Open Door” perspective, the Soviet Empire kept a vast swath of the world’s natural and human resources walled off from profitable exploitation by global capital.
All of this was more than enough to mark the Soviet Union as global public enemy number one for the post-WWII U.S. power elite, which had truly planet-wide imperial ambitions, unlike Moscow.
The Soviet deterrent and alternative to U.S.-led capitalism-imperialism collapsed once and for all in the early 1990s.  Washington celebrated with unchallenged invasions of Panama and Iraq. The blood-drenched U.S. President George H.W. Bush exulted that “what we say goes” in a newly unipolar, post-Soviet world. Russia reverted to not-so “free market” capitalism under U.S.-led Western financial supervision and in accord with the savage austerity and inequality imposed by the neoliberal “Washington consensus.” Chomsky got it right in 1991.  “With the collapse of Soviet tyranny,” he wrote, “much of the region can be expected to return to its traditional [subordinate] status, with the former high echelons of the bureaucracy playing the role of the Third World elites that enrich themselves while serving the interests of foreign investors.” The consequences were disastrous for many millions of ordinary Russians.
The West said, “welcome to the machine” and “enjoy your new freedom to starve and die young.” The Soviet tyranny was turned into an oligarchs’ wonderland, a neoliberal wasteland combining untold new opulence for the fortunate Few with a stark decline in social and living standards for the Many.  Russia remains a capitalist nightmare and plutocrats’ playground.
So, what happened?  How did “our” Cold War super-enemy become “our” brand new top “adversary” all over again, more than a quarter century after the tearing down of the Berlin Wall? The bottom line is that proud, post-Cold War Russia finally experienced too much brazen humiliation and betrayal at the hands of the U.S.-led West. It got up off the canvas under national/nationalist strongman Putin (a former KGB Lieutenant-Colonel wise in the ways of the West) and marshalled enough of still-intact natural and military resources and patriotic to challenge the American Empire’s hubristic claim to the right to rule Eurasia with impunity. “What we say goes” hit a new wall of Russian dignity and power.
One of the many dirty little secrets of the U.S. Cold War was that anti-communism functioned as a pretext and cover for Washington’s Wall Street-fueled ambition to force open and run the entire world system in accord with its multinational corporate elite’s globalist- “Open Door” political-economic needs.  From this imperial perspective, the real Cold War enemy was not so much “communism” as other peoples’ struggles for national, local, and regional autonomy and independence. The enemy remains long after the statues of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin have come down.
It doesn’t matter than Russia is no longer “socialist.” Nationalist and regional push-back against Uncle “We Own the World” Sam has been more than sufficient to get Putin designated as the next official Hitler and Russia targeted as a malevolent opponent by the U.S. elite political class and media. Mike Whitney puts it very well in a recent CounterPunch essay:
“What has Russia done to deserve all the negative press and unsupported claims of criminal meddling?…Just look at a map. For the last 16 years, the US has been rampaging across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Washington intends to control critical oil and natural gas reserves in the ME, establish military bases across Central Asia, and remain the dominant player in an area of that is set to become the most populous and prosperous region of the world…”
 
“But one country has upset that plan, blocked that plan, derailed that plan. Russia. Russia has stopped Washington’s murderous marauding and genocidal depredations in Ukraine and Syria, which is why the US foreign policy establishment is so pissed-off.  US elites aren’t used to obstacles.”
 
“For the last quarter of a century – since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union – the world had been Washington’s oyster. If the president of the United States wanted to invade a country in the Middle East, kill a million people, and leave the place in a smoldering pile of rubble, then who could stop him? …Nobody.  Because Washington owns this fu**ing planet and everyone else is just a visitor…Capisce?.”
 
“But now all that’s changed. Now evil Putin has thrown up a roadblock to US hegemony in Syria and Ukraine. Now Washington’s land-bridge to Central Asia has been split in two, and its plan to control vital pipeline corridors from Qatar to the EU is no longer viable. Russia has stopped Washington dead-in-its tracks and Washington is furious.”
 
“The anti-Russia hysteria in the western media is equal to the pain the US foreign policy establishment is currently experiencing. And the reason the foreign policy establishment is in so much pain, is because they are not getting their way.  It’s that simple. Their global strategy is in a shamble because Russia will not let them topple the Syrian government, install their own puppet regime, redraw the map of the Middle East, run roughshod over international law, and tighten their grip on another battered war-torn part of the world.”
 
“So now… Putin must be demonized and derided. The American people must be taught to hate Russia and all-things Russian…Russia must be blamed for anything and everything under the sun…”

Forget the charges of Trump-Russia collusion.  Trump’s main Russia problem is that he came into the White House from outside the elite Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) ruling class establishment.  Unlike the plugged-in U.S. power and imperial elite, the orange-haired brute never got the Zbigniew Brzezinski-crafted, David Rockefeller-endorsed CFR memo on the grave peril Moscow still poses to “the international system sponsored by the United States.”  (True, it’s unlikely that Trump could have followed the memo). Candidate Trump showed his lack of ruling class credentials by admiring Putin’s authoritarian manliness and calling for a stand-down from Obama and Hillary Clinton’s reckless, Brzezinski-esque provocation of the Kremlin in Eastern Europe and Syria. He foolishly called for normalized relations with the vodka-swilling Eurasian power that arose from the grave to once again become Washington’s “all-purpose [global] punching bag” (Whitney).
After Herr Donald was ironically installed in the White House by leading Russophobe and  “lying neoliberal warmonger” (LNW) Hillary Clinton, Russia-hating took on a new and seductive political meaning for Democrats and their many U.S. media allies. The Russiagate narrative has proved irresistible to these actors for three basic reasons.
First, they have naturally wanted to delegitimize the early Trump administration for standard partisan reasons. They’ve seen tarring Trump as a treasonous friend of a leading “foreign adversary” as useful for that purpose.
 
Second, highly placed NATO-expansionist New Cold Warriors in both major parties (e.g., John McCain) and the media have wanted to keep the heat on Moscow. The baseless Russia election-hacking and collusion charges have been tools for the New Cold War camp to hedge in Trump’s promises of rapprochement with Russia. The Russiagate scam is part of why Clockwork Orangutan found it necessary to absurdly tell Russia to “give Crimea back” to Ukraine and why he theatrically launched 59 cruise missiles onto a Syrian airbase.
 
Third, the Russian interference allegation has been made in part to help the DNC and the neoliberal Democratic Party establishment avoid responsibility for blowing the 2016 election. The Democrats ran a wooden, Wall Street-captive, and corruption-tainted candidate (the aforementioned LNW) and a vapid and elitist campaign that couldn’t mobilize enough working- and lower-class voters to defeat the epically noxious and unpopular Trump in key states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan and Ohio. The “Moscow stole it” narrative is a fancy version of “The dog [bear?] ate my homework” for a dismal dollar-drenched Democratic Party that abandoned the working class and the causes of peace, social justice and environmental sustainability long ago.

The “inauthentic opposition” party (as the late Sheldon Wolin aptly described the neoliberal Democratic Party) would rather not take a long, hard and honest look at what it has become. It does not want to concede anything to those who dream (naively) of turning it into an authentic peoples’ and opposition party with a bold progressive vision and agenda. The “Russia did it” charge works for establishment Democrats hoping to stave off demands from leftish-progressive-populist types in their own party.
This perverse political logic works to sustain the strange new neo-McCarthyite anti-Russian madness, which is rooted in the U.S. imperial agenda, not any relevant Russian influence on U.S. life and politics.

Source: Zerohedge – How Russia Became "Our Adversary" Again

Enron 2.0? Asia's Largest Commodity Trader Halted After Crashing To 16 Year Lows On S&P Downgrade

Once Asia's largest commodity trader, Noble Group has been halted after crashing almost 30% this morning following S&P lowering its corporate credit rist rating to CCC+, citing continuing weak cash flows and profitability…
"We downgraded Noble because we believe the company's capital structure is not sustainable,"
 
"The negative outlook on Noble reflects the potential that the company will face distress and a non-payment of its debt obligations over the next 12 months,"

This is the lowest prices for the Singapore-based firm since 2001…

 
This has been coming for a while, as we warned a year ago… Noble's "Margin Call" Part II – The Enron Moment
By Simon Jacques
"Our balance sheet – the strongest in recent history – represents a significant advantage as we continue to identify high value growth opportunities across the products and geographies we operate in. Maintaining our investment grade rating with the international rating agencies is a vital part of this strategy."     
– Noble Group 2014 Annual Report, p. 27

      * * * * *
"Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Noble Group Limited's senior unsecured bond ratings to Ba1 from Baa3 and the provisional rating on its senior unsecured MTN program to (P)Ba1 from (P)Baa3."

      – Moody's, December 29, 2015
      * * * * *
"Noble Group Downgraded To 'BB+' On Weakened Liquidity; Notes Lowered To 'BB'; Ratings Still On CreditWatch Negative"

     – Standard & Poors, January 7, 2016
The story of Noble is worth writing a book, mostly of how not to run your business. 
If they are in this mess, it is in large part because the management was comprised predominantly of traders who were predisposed to defend their books.
Noble has been desperately trying to revive their image by hiring former Goldman, JP. Morgan, Trafigura executives etc. By doing so they were looking for a form of credibility collateral.
It didn’t work well for the new employees as they rapidly found out that they inherited from the liabilities of one decade of Noble’s poor decision making of the hard-core asset guys like William J. Randall and ex-Goldman Sach banker Yusuf Alireza.
In the part II of this analysis we will review the gap between the liquidity headroom and the debt maturity profile of the trader and explain how Noble Group will have its Enron moment.
The fatal mistake that Noble Group did was apparently to mislead the market about their financial performance "presumably" by using accounting devices.
During last November, Noble Group's chief financial officer Robert van der Zalm has stepped down from his position after taking a leave of absence for “health reasons”.
Two months later,  Moody’s downgraded Noble Group.
In a very awaited decision, Standard & Poor’s has finally lowered Noble Group’s to junk, placing Asia’s largest commodity trader on watch for further possible as the rating agency remains skeptical about the liquidity headroom of the trader.

According to Noble Group, on September 30th 2015, the company had  $15.5bn banking facilities and $1.669B in RMI (ready marketable inventories).

$11.1bn of these $15.5bn banking facilities is uncommitted and are contingent on ability of maintaining investment-grade rating in the future.
Noble claims to have $900M of cash and 1.669B$ in RMI (ready and marketable inventories).
Their 1.669B$ in RMI have claims on related- party notes that are under collateralized by their commodity merchant activity and therefore should be excluded from their liquidity headroom.
Noble Group currently uses $3.4B of borrowing facilities that are uncommitted.

Noble Group is left with only 1B$ of unutilized committed borrowing facilities and $900M of cash ready available to meet $2.966B of debt scheduled in the next 12 months.

Source: Noble Group MD&A Q-3 2015
Moreover, Noble Group counts on the completion of the Noble Agri stake divesture to reap $750M, a transaction which may not be completed by February 2016.
Adding the 1B$ of unused uncommitted borrowing facilities plus the $750M of Noble Agri and the $900M of cash that Noble claims to have, Noble is still short by $316M.
With the S&P downgrade, the total collateral margin call on Noble Group could be as much as $3.4B, banking facilities that are uncommitted and contingent on the ability of maintaining their investment-grade rating.
Noble will have its Enron Moment.
Enron's bankruptcy occurred on November 2001 and was triggered by S&P's downgrade of its debt below investment grade, activating a call provision in some loan indentures with principal amounts totaling $4 billion, cash and liquidity that suddenly Enron didn’t have.
After the quick sale of Noble Agri, Noble’s core business remains its coal & energy – two very depressed commodities for the foreseeable future, and with no cash-flows to pay its debt and a sudden tightening of the credit, the trader is a cancer patient on the forward curve.

Source: Zerohedge – Enron 2.0? Asia's Largest Commodity Trader Halted After Crashing To 16 Year Lows On S&P Downgrade

China's Bond Market Chaos Continues – Yield Curve Double-Inverts

China's $1.7 trillion government-bond market is turning curiouser and curiouser…

In a fresh sign of the nerves among investors caused by Beijing's campaign this spring to make Chinese markets less risky, the yield on seven-year government bonds rose to 3.79% on Monday, above the yield on both five-year and 10-year bonds.
The highly unusual move means that China's government-bond yield curve now resembles a triangle, with the seven-year yield at its highest since October 2014. Furthermore, the Chinese curve has a double-inversion 3s to 5s and 7s to 10.
In fact the 3s10s spread is the most negative ever…

The shift comes less than two weeks after the government-bond yield curve became inverted for the first time on record, with 10-year yields–now at 3.65%–lower than those for five-year bonds, currently at 3.68%. Normally investors demand higher yields on bonds that have longer to go until maturity.
Intriguingly, 30Y US Treasuries and 3Y China Treasuries have traded very tightly coupled at the same level for 6 years…

"We are seeing a butterfly on our screen that we have never seen before, " said a Shanghai-based senior bond trader at a local mutual fund.
The continued pressure on Chinese bonds (and stocks) is driven by both technical flows (China's ongoing crackdown on leverage in the financial system spewing out into the shadow banking system and hitting retail), and expectations for growth in a lower credit growth world (which has crushed the yield curve).
Just last night brokerage shares slumped as Chinese authorities blocked off-'channel' operations, barring securities firms from helping banks take loans off balance sheets…

As The Nikkei Asian Review reported, Chinese authorities have begun cracking down on brokerages engaged in the profitable business of helping banks keep inconvenient loans or assets off the books, sparking a broad slide among Shanghai-listed securities firms Monday.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission on Friday banned so-called channel business helping banks convert on-the-books loans and notes into off-balance-sheet financial instruments, announcing the audit of an investment fund facilitating such transactions. The activities enable lenders to circumvent caps on loan-deposit ratios, for example.
Channel business is a significant source of fee revenue for brokerages but amounts to a firm abandoning its responsibility as an asset manager, the securities commission said.
The resulting murky wealth management products form a cornerstone of China's shadow banking system, offering investors high returns in exchange for significant risk. The country's banks handle some 29 trillion yuan ($4.21 trillion) in such products. Regulators fearing such risk factors as defaults have stepped up a crackdown on shadow banking since April.

Source: Zerohedge – China's Bond Market Chaos Continues – Yield Curve Double-Inverts

Buy The F**king Brazilian Political Crisis Dip

Nothing says "go all in" on Brazilian stocks like the one of the biggest equity market drops on record following yet another political crisis… and that's just what investors did.
Second only to the collapse surrounding Lehman's branruptcy, EWZ (the Brazil ETF) crashed over 16% last week (before rebounding)…

But it appears, the political crisis around President Michel Temer couldn’t have come at a better time for the U.S. exchange-traded fund that invests in Brazilian stocks. The ETF had gone more than seven weeks without any deposits as investors questioned whether the equity rally had gone too far. But the 16 percent plunge on Thursday eased those concerns, and investors added $345 million to the fund, the biggest single-day inflow since Jan. 6, 2011…

Pent up demand?
It seems not, as while the Real is bid, Brazilian stocks are still languishing…

Despite headlines that Temer's court hearing had been delayed today… stocks saw no love to end down 1.5%.

Source: Zerohedge – Buy The F**king Brazilian Political Crisis Dip

Greek Debt Relief Deal Fails In Last Minute, As Germany, IMF Clash Again

Stop us if you’ve heard this story before.
Insolvent Greece, having last week voted itself into even more austerity in hopes of unlocking some of the money promised it by Brussels so it can then use it to repay debt maturities owed to the ECB (whether it will actually follow through with said austerity measures remains unclear, though most likely not), is dragged to the finish line of yet another Euro finance minister negotiating session with promises that this time a debt relief deal is virtually guaranteed, and then… it all falls apart.
That’s what again happened today, when Euro-area finance ministers gathered in Brussels with hopes, at least for the Greek delegation, to come home with a signed agreement, only to fail to break the impasse on debt relief for Greece, delaying the conclusion of the country’s bailout review and the disbursement of fresh loans needed to repay obligations in July.
“The Eurogroup held an in-depth discussion on the sustainability of Greece’s public debt but did not reach an overall agreement,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who presides over meetings with his euro-area counterparts, and who again failed to reach a solution after another hardline stance by his German colleague, Wolfgang Schauble, prevented any potential concessions. As a reminder, ever since the 3rd Greek bailout in the summer of 2015, rhe IMF and Germany have been at odds over Greece’s economic outlook and the amount of debt relief required to assure economic stability: it was the same debate, that prevented a deal from being inked on Monday.
The big issue is what happens to the Greek economy after 2018, when the current bailout expires. The IMF, which has demanded debt haircuts in order to fund the ongoing bailout, has repeatedly raised doubts about Greece’s ability to maintain such an optimistic budget performance for decades – it’s like Bank of America’s forecast for US GDP through 2027 which anticipated precisely zero recessions; meanwhile, key creditors are pushing for a more positive outlook (guess who will be wrong). The reason is that less ambitious fiscal targets would increase the amount of debt relief needed, meanwhile the Greek population continues to suffer.
As Bloomberg explained after the latest meeting, the debt measures proposed by euro area finance ministers were not enough for the IMF to come on board the Greek bailout, and unequivocally say that Greece’s debt is sustainable, according to an official familiar with the discussion.

There was some movement, though not quite enough, official says, asking not to be named as Eurogroup meeting wasn’t public There’s some frustration with the IMF among euro area finance ministers, pressure on Fund to move will increase over the coming weeks

In any case, work will continue in the coming weeks with the aim of reaching a conclusion on June 15 at the next meeting of ministers, Dijsselbloem said.
Last May, Euro-area finance ministers committed to a set of measures to ease the repayment terms on Greek bailout loans after the end of the program in 2018, but the degree to which these measures will be implemented is still a subject of contention. 

Among the options listed is the extension of maturities on euro-area loans to Greece, as well as the capping and deferral of interest payments. The IMF has said it wants these options to be specified further, so that numbers “add up” and annual Greek debt refinancing needs are kept below clearly defined thresholds

According to Bloomberg, after eight hours of talks and multiple draft compromises, Athens and its creditors couldn’t reach an accord that would ease Greece’s debt and that would convince the International Monetary Fund to agree to help finance the country’s bailout. The IMF has been seeking more debt relief for the country, pushing euro-area creditors to ensure the sustainability of Greece’s €315 billion ($354 billion) of obligations before it participates in the program. Some nations including Germany object to a debt restructuring while also insisting that the Washington-based fund join the program to lend credibility to the bailout.
The reason why the can was kicked again is that Greece doesn’t have a large maturity deadline until July, when €7 billion euros in obligations come due, and Europe has a habit of waiting until the last moment before disbursing the funds that Athens will then turn around and use to repay the ECB.

Delaying resolution of the program review adds to months of uncertainty that have taken their toll on the Greek economy – which has slipped back into recession –and kept the country from returning to the bond market.

Recession notwithstanding, Dijsselbloem also said the parties agreed on a target for Greece’s primary surplus, which excludes interest payments, of 3.5% of gross domestic product until 2022. Which is funny: it was Mario Draghi’s secret deals with Greece when he was still part of Goldman, that masked the Greek debt mountain, and made the country’s surplus appear artificially high. The eventual result was not one, not two, but three Greek bailouts.
“The Greek authorities are taking their responsibilities and I think the partners of Greece are also taking their own responsibilities,” European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said. “There’s been a shared effort to narrow the gap between positions — we haven’t yet concluded but I hope under the guidance of the president of the Eurogroup it will possible three weeks from now.”
Additional debt relief is also needed for the ECB to include Greek bonds in its asset purchases program, which would ease the country’s access to bond markets, and is the reason why last week, Greek lawmakers approved more austerity measures in hopes of mollifying creditors, including pension cuts, tax hikes and other structural economic reforms. The resulting hope that Greece would be included in the ECB’s QE was the longest winning streak in Greek capital markets in years.
For now, however, Greece has to wait, most likely until the very last minute before the €7 billion in July obligations come due.

Source: Zerohedge – Greek Debt Relief Deal Fails In Last Minute, As Germany, IMF Clash Again