Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Today's links

Trump:  The U.S. is going to substantialy reduce taxes and regulations on businesses, but any business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the U.S. without retribution or consequence, is WRONG! There will be a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35% for these companies ......these companies are able to move between all 50 states, with no tax or tariff being charged. Please be forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake! THE UNITED STATES IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS

"We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments. …In our dealings with other countries we will seek shared interests wherever possible...”
I am not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world saying ‘this is the way it’s got to be.’ … If we’re an arrogant nation they will resent us, if we’re a humble nation but strong they’ll welcome us."

"The overall objective is to boost the incomes and purchasing power of middle- and working-class families. If we don't, nothing else is going to work.” Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci



1--U.S. Economic Confidence Highest in Nine Years, gallup


-- Americans expressed more positivity about the U.S. economy last week than they have at any other time during the nine years that Gallup has been tracking the U.S. Economic Confidence Index. ...



Bottom Line

It's not just Americans who have felt more economically exuberant since the election -- U.S. markets have skyrocketed, with the Dow closing above 19,000 this week for the first time in its 120-year history.

So, while the election's results may have improved Americans' outlook on the economy, favorable market conditions may have driven their confidence further upward. This also comes as many economists expect that potential U.S. economic growth could have a significant effect worldwide.

It's too early to tell whether this uptick in Americans' positivity will last as Trump's term begins in January. But two weeks of positive index readings on the heels of his unexpected victory reveals a degree of economic confidence Americans have not expressed since the recession.


2--The Promise and Peril of the Trump Trade, J Lahart 


Long-term interest rates have risen sharply on his pledge to bolster the economy—but can he deliver?


Markets are predicting that President-elect Donald Trump will be able to juice the economy soon after he gets in office. That is putting extra pressure on him to succeed quickly before higher rates quash any economic liftoff.

Since the election, investors have embraced a view that the spending and tax-cut package Mr. Trump is promising will both boost growth and fan inflation. That has been good for stocks, but very bad for bonds, which have sold off sharply. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note is approaching 2.5%. Data Tuesday about rising labor costs coupled with last week’s 4.6% unemployment rate mean inflation, and yields, could rise further.

Rising interest rates change the longstanding dynamic in the economy and markets. The higher yields go, the more costly it becomes for companies and households to borrow. The higher yields go, the stronger the dollar is likely to become, widening the trade deficit and weighing on the economy. And the higher yields go, the more attractive bonds become relative to stocks...

A simulation that forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers ran for The Wall Street Journal shows what happens if Treasury yields rise further, not because of an improving economy but because investors believe, based on an incorrect growth forecast or for whatever reason, that the Federal Reserve will raise rates more aggressively

3--Economic growth in the United States: A tale of two countries

It’s a tale of two countries. For the 117 million U.S. adults in the bottom half of the income distribution, growth has been non-existent for a generation while at the top of the ladder it has been extraordinarily strong. And this stagnation of national income accruing at the bottom is not due to population aging. Quite the contrary: For the bottom half of the working-age population (adults below 65), income has actually fallen. In the bottom half of the distribution, only the income of the elderly is rising.6 From 1980 to 2014, for example, none of the growth in per-adult national income went to the bottom 50 percent, while 32 percent went to the middle class (defined as adults between the median and the 90th percentile), 68 percent to the top 10 percent, and 36 percent to the top 1 percent. An economy that fails to deliver growth for half of its people for an entire generation is bound to generate discontent with the status quo and a rejection of establishment politics.


Because the pre-tax incomes of the bottom 50 percent stagnated while average national income per adult grew, the share of national income earned by the bottom 50 percent collapsed from 20 percent in 1980 to 12.5 percent in 2014. Over the same period, the share of incomes going to the top 1 percent surged from 10.7 percent in 1980 to 20.2 percent in 2014.7


4-- Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is a Full-on Privatization Assault


5--The rich don't spend tax cuts


6--The no growth recovery


The long-term impact of higher costs for healthcare, housing and education has been to dampen Americans' productivity, consumption, quality of life, ambitions and career choices.


7--All in the family?  Jamie Dimon Named Chairman Of Business Roundtable Scoring Another Key D.C. Post For Wall Street


8--David Rosenberg Throws Up On The "Trump Rally" - Here's Why


Financials and energy-- These two sectors, representing just over 20 per cent of the S&P 500 market cap, have accounted for all the gains since then...


Big deal. Ronald Reagan, who was the original “Make America Great Again” advocate (as opposed to a copycat), saw the equity market soar 6 per cent in his first month in office.

Guess what? The market peaked less than four weeks into his term and for the next two years we had an economic downturn and a 25-per-cent slide in the stock market. The combination of rising bond yields, Fed tightening and a stronger dollar took care of that honeymoon.
After all, we all know what happens when the honeymoon is over. The hard work begins.
That slump we just saw in October export volumes and widening in the trade deficit is surely just an early sign of what is to come.


Before The Donald does anything on his first hundred days, something tells me the lagged impact of the tightening in financial conditions associated with the recent bounce in interest rates and appreciation of the U.S. dollar is going to come back and bite the economy in the tush, as was the case heading into 2016.


9--U.S. Stocks Post Biggest One-Day Rally Since Election


Many analysts expect the rally to continue in 2017, noting that gross domestic product has grown, the labor market has continued to strengthen and corporate earnings are on the mend.
“Things were already improving before the election,” said Jeremy Zirin, chief equity strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas. “What’s happened since is that many of the pro-growth trends have been exacerbated.”
The Dow industrials gained 298 points, or 1.6%, at 19550, and the S&P 500 rose 1.3% to 2241. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.1%, erasing losses from earlier in the session.

10--In counterterrorism speech, Obama hints at danger of dictatorship


The colossal hypocrisy of Obama’s speech, and the absurdity of his pose as the defender of “the rule of law” and democratic rights, are underscored by reference to the Nuremberg Tribunals. What Obama did not mention is the declaration of the chief prosecutor at the tribunal, US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, that the basic crime alleged against the accused Nazi leaders was the planning and execution of a war of aggression, from which, Jackson said, all the other war crimes flowed. By this standard, the top officials of the Obama administration, including Obama himself, deserve to be hauled before a new tribunal to face war crimes charges....

In reality, the Obama administration has carried out the most sweeping attacks on democratic rights in the name of the struggle against terrorism: authorizing blanket capture of all telecommunications and Internet traffic; keeping open the Guantanamo Bay detention camp; shielding the Bush administration officials who oversaw CIA torture; persecuting whistle-blowers who exposed US government crimes such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning; and carrying out a systematic program of drone-missile assassinations worldwide, on an unparalleled scale.
But Obama’s speech amounted to an admission that the policies he has pursued have paved the way for an even more right-wing and undemocratic policy once Trump enters the White House. Obama is aware that the incoming government will be one of immense repression and violence, and he cautions Trump against excesses....

Beyond his advice to Trump, Obama appeared to be appealing more to the military itself, which exercises an overbearing and dominant influence over the entire state, including his own administration and the incoming Trump-led government. The choice of the venue was significant. Rather than addressing the American people about the perilous state of American democracy, he spoke before the headquarters of US Special Operations Command, concluding with an appeal that “our men and women in uniform and the citizens who support you… carry forward what is best in us.”





Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Today's links

“My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy. I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy,” President-elect Donald Trump boasted last January. “But now I’d like to be greedy for the United States.”


--The financial crisis was not caused by homeowners borrowing too much money. It was caused by giant financial institutions borrowing too much money, much of it from each other on the repurchase (repo) market. This matters, because we can't prevent the next crisis by fixing mortgages. We have to fix repos.

"After four years of efforts, regulators and the financial firms with the most at stake have failed to extinguish systemic risk in a crucial short-term lending market (the repurchase market} that greases the wheels of trading in U.S. Treasuries." -- Liz McCormick, Bloomberg. May 25, 2016



1--Mexico's Sellout-- Australia’s BHP Billiton Wins Bidding for Stake in Mexico’s Trion Oil Field--BP and BHP Billiton were only two bidders on partnership with Pemex


The Trion partnership and the deep-water auctions were the centerpiece of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2013 energy reform laws, which opened Mexico’s energy industry to foreign investment for the first time since nationalization in 1938.

Eight of the 10 exploration blocks available were snatched up in competitive bidding by firms including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., and China’s state-run China National Offshore Oil Corp.
Australia’s BHP Billiton also made history by becoming the first foreign company to join state oil firm Petróleos Mexicanos in developing the already discovered Trion oil field in the Gulf of Mexico.


2--The New Retirement-Advice Rule: Where Things Stand-- The changing political landscape may result in a delay or repeal of the new fiduciary standard for brokers


A new rule that proponents say will protect retirement savers from conflicted advice and inflated fees is looking more likely to be delayed or repealed in the coming months in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election.
That has left many investors wondering what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to the management of the $3 trillion in retirement assets held in accounts that charge investors commissions.
Here’s a rundown of where things stand and what investors need to know.
What’s the rule, and why is it suddenly up in the air?

The Labor Department’s so-called fiduciary rule, set to take effect April 10, 2017, requires brokers and others who give retirement advice to act in clients’ best interests. Previous rules required that brokers’ advice merely had to be “suitable” for a retirement investor
...

The rule has been contentious since before its passage in the spring. The Obama administration says conflicted advice costs American families $17 billion a year and pushes down annual returns on their retirement savings by a percentage point. Financial-industry leaders say those figures are too large and have fought the regulation.
Now, with Mr. Trump headed to the White House and Republicans retaining control of both houses of Congress, opponents of the rule have set their sights on repealing or replacing it. ...

Killing the rule would allow brokers and annuity sellers to continue to charge commissions without having to comply with heightened disclosure requirements on the advice and products being sold. The rule’s repeal could leave open the door to the types of conflicts that fiduciary-rule supporters say are inherent in commission-based accounts, where advisers might push costlier products.


3--CFTC Leaves Shaping Position Limits Rule to Trump Administration-- Regulator fails to complete long-delayed rule to curb speculation in commodities like oil and gold


U.S. regulators failed to put the finishing touches on a much-debated, long-delayed rule to limit speculation in commodities like oil and gold, opting instead to propose a scaled-back version that leaves its outcome in the hands of the Trump administration.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission voted unanimously Monday to float, for the third time since 2011, a proposed rule that would cap the size of trading positions firms could take in more than two dozen core commodity contracts, including a variety of energy and precious-metals commodities, to curb any one trader’s influence.

The move punts a decision on the rule’s final contours to the Trump administration, which has pledged to dismantle the Dodd-Frank financial law that authorized the restrictions....

Specifically, the latest proposal would restrict a firm from owning more than the equivalent of 25% of a commodity’s estimated “deliverable supply” in a given month. In some cases, however, it would effectively raise the position limits because it would increase the estimated supply of the commodities. Monday’s version also gives traders more leeway than prior iterations of the measure if they are managing business risks.
Mr. Massad, who is expected to step down by early next year, had pledged at his 2014 Senate confirmation hearing to “make it a priority” to finalize the controversial “position limits” rule, aimed at curbing speculation by Wall Street trading in certain commodity contracts. The rule gained traction in Congress during an oil-price spike in 2008, which some attributed to excessive speculation by short-term traders...

The rules stem from the 2010 Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul that gave the CFTC authority to extend trading restraints, or position limits, to commodities such as natural gas and silver. Agricultural and livestock commodities have long had limits on speculation....

Monday’s unexpected decision to revise the 2013 proposal is an ominous sign for other unfinished priority projects set by the Obama administration for Wall Street oversight.
These include efforts by the Securities and Exchange Commission to rein in the use of risky financial instruments in mutual funds that are sold to the public, restrictions on the payday-lending industry floated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to force big banks to issue debt that can be converted to equity in a crisis, reducing the need for a taxpayer bailout....

Monday’s proposal, unlike the 2013 version, would give energy firms greater leeway to avoid the restrictions by broadening the “bona fide hedge exemptions” available to energy firms that use futures and swaps to protect against swings in commodity prices. Industry groups had lobbied the CFTC to broaden the exemptions, saying they were needed to prevent the rule from inadvertently preventing the legitimate hedging strategies of oil producers, electric utilities and other energy firms. Critics worry the exemptions could be used to circumvent the limits and allow speculation under the guise of hedging.

4-- Trump vs Carrier; Corporate welfare disguised as populist bullying


In other words, this was about corporate welfare. Carrier keeping 800 jobs in Indianapolis is like them throwing a buck in the tip jar after hitting the lottery..

That leads us to Trump’s deal-cutting approach. Crucially, Trump only “saved” 800 Carrier jobs; 1,300 more will go to Mexico. And one alleged core element of the deal, $700,000 a year in state-based tax incentives for a decade, still pales in comparison to Carrier’s estimate of $65 million in annual savings from moving plants to Mexico. Anyway, those tax breaks had already been offered and rejected. They’re simply not why the deal got done.

I’m not even certain threats to Carrier parent company United Technologies’ $6 billion in federal contracts were determinative; contractors know mere presidential whim cannot fully influence the procurement process. Trump’s bluster about a 35 percent tariff on any goods produced with outsourced labor is certainly a sideshow; notice he’s not threatening it on the air conditioning plant Carrier is taking to Mexico.

The real Trump approach combines loudmouth tactics to convince the public that he’s fighting for them combined with the familiar tax cut-and-deregulation GOP playbook. Carrier admitted this: Its statement emphasized Trump’s “commitment to support the business community and create an improved, more competitive U.S. business climate.” Every CEO in America understands that code. Trump made it more blunt it in his Carrier speech: “We’re going to do great things for business, there’s no reason for them to leave anymore… your taxes are going to be at the very, very low end and your unnecessary regulations are going to be gone.”

Laissez-faire Republicans whine about a “shakedown” and decry “crony capitalism.” Laissez-faire Democrats, like Larry Summers, warn of dangers to capitalism (seeing Summers fret about the rule of law after he did nothing as 9 million families lost their homes based on fraudulent foreclosure documents is quite rich). But they’re only responding to Trump’s mostly irrelevant public bluster. This lets Trump get away with a corporate enrichment strategy while selling it as a crackdown.

5--Zbigniew Brzezinski's reversal: reach out to Russia


6--Toward a Global Realignment, Zbigniew Brzezinski, The American Interest


“As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture.
Five basic verities regarding the emerging redistribution of global political power and the violent political awakening in the Middle East are signaling the coming of a new global realignment....

America can only be effective in dealing with the current Middle Eastern violence if it forges a coalition that involves, in varying degrees, also Russia and China....Given all this, a long and painful road toward an initially limited regional accommodation is the only viable option for the United States, Russia, China, and the pertinent Middle Eastern entities. For the United States, that will require patient persistence in forging cooperative relationships with some new partners (particularly Russia and China) as well as joint efforts with more established and historically rooted Muslim states (Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia if it can detach its foreign policy from Wahhabi extremism) in shaping a wider framework of regional stability. Our European allies, previously dominant in the region, can still be helpful in that regard....

A constructive U.S. policy must be patiently guided by a long-range vision. It must seek outcomes that promote the gradual realization in Russia (probably post-Putin) that its only place as an influential world power is ultimately within Europe. China’s increasing role in the Middle East should reflect the reciprocal American and Chinese realization that a growing U.S.-PRC partnership in coping with the Middle Eastern crisis is an historically significant test of their ability to shape and enhance together wider global stability..

During the rest of this century, humanity will also have to be increasingly preoccupied with survival as such on account of a confluence of environmental challenges. Those challenges can only be addressed responsibly and effectively in a setting of increased international accommodation. And that accommodation has to be based on a strategic vision that recognizes the urgent need for a new geopolitical framework

7--Can Trumponomics fix the economy?


Charts

8--Dow closes at all-time high for second straight session


9--  It’s always an unspent income story.


The 2008 financial crisis led to a sharp fall off in private sector deficit spending (credit expansion) that had been offsetting desires to not spend income, which I call ‘savings desires’. And it was in mid 2008, for example, that I proposed a full FICA suspension that would have allowed spending to continue, but from income rather than from debt. However, what happened instead was an attempt to restore private sector credit growth with a zero rate policy that was soon supplemented with quantitative easing, and to date has failed to restore output growth and employment.
The Fed, however, believes the spark has been ignited and will likely move to ‘remove accommodation’ with a another small rate hike, even as all the indicators I can see continue to decelerate as previously posted and discussed.

10--Dollar to Benefit if $2.5 Trillion in Cash Stashed Abroad Is Repatriated



"U.S. corporations have been holding billions in earnings and cash abroad to avoid paying a 35% tax that would be levied whenever the money is brought home. President-elect Donald Trump has said he would propose a one-time cut of the repatriation tax to 10% to lure money back to the U.S. that can be spent on hiring, business development and funding Mr. Trump’s fiscal stimulus proposals.....

The U.S. last introduced a one-time tax cut for repatriations a decade ago, under the Homeland Investment Act of 2004. More than $360 billion was repatriated, according to Internal Revenue Service data.....
A similar tax cut “is probably the lowest hanging fruit of all the fiscal measures Mr. Trump has proposed,” said Mark McCormick, head of North American foreign-exchange strategy at TD Securities. “Democrats, Republicans, many people have found this a very easy policy to pursue.”
http://www.wsj.com/articles/2-5-trillion-foreign-profit-stash-could-be-another-boon-for-u-s-dollar-1480096695

11--Trump’s financial plans promise another Great Recession


Here are some of the most significant changes that will result if Trump succeeds in wiping the law off the books, with real-world reminders of the “great” financial system he would restore.

■ The abolition of the law’s restrictions on granting mortgages to borrowers who are highly unlikely to repay means we will see successors to Countrywide, the mortgage-granting machine that gave us countrywide defaults.

■ The removal of the regulations governing trading in derivatives means Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, and others can return to the unrestricted dissemination throughout the economy of securities composed of bad mortgages, even when, in Goldman’s case, the packager knew enough about the weakness of what it was selling to bet its own money that it would fail to pay off.

■ An end to the rule that participants in derivative trades either do so through exchanges or otherwise demonstrate that they have the funds to meet their obligations to their trading partners brings back the situation that prevailed when three of the five leading investment companies — Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers — were unable either to pay their own debts or collect what they were owed by others, and AIG told Federal officials it was 170 billion dollars short of meeting its obligations to pay off what it owed those who had bought their credit default swaps (insurance against the failure of mortgage-backed securities

Trump’s plan to wipe out the provision that purchasers of loans who then package them for resale to bear responsibility for the first 5 percent of the losses that occur means the investing public will once again be wholly dependent on the rating agencies — whose blend of incompetence and dishonesty was chronicled in The Big Short.” (My one objection to the way in which the law has been administrated is the failure to apply this provision to home mortgages, but the power to do so remains in the law if experience calls for it.)

■ The disappearance of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will return to the status quo in which consumers harmed by the abusive behavior of a massive financial institutions could only turn to the federal agencies whose primary mission was to worry about the health of these entities. Had there not been a consumer bureau, Wells Fargo might still be creating false credit card accounts.
I do favor some adjustments to lessen the scrutiny given to small and medium-size banks, although not in the area of consumer protection.

But the major beneficiaries of total repeal are the largest financial entities. I understand why those who believe absolutely in an unregulated market advocate a return to the process that risks repeating 2008. I do not understand how this stance complies with Trump’s promise to vindicate the interests of average working people against those who stand at the top of the economic structure.

12--Financial markets


Once upon a time financial markets provided working capital for companies that manufactured and distributed goods and services to consumers and businesses. Now financial markets increasingly provide working capital for investors – pension plans, insurance companies, corporate treasuries, endowments, hedge funds, money market funds, broker-dealers, commercial and investment banks, mutual funds, and so on – that want to make more money.


13--Trump on deregulation


Volcker Rule

Hensarling and other Trump advisers have attacked the Volcker Rule, named after former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. The rule prohibits banks from making market bets and limits trading activity to serving clients’ needs. Bond-trading revenue at the five biggest U.S. investment banks in the first nine months of this year was about half of what it was in 2010. Although other factors such as persistent low interest rates contributed to that decline, banks tend to blame the Volcker Rule.

14--Just like the 'good old days'-- Trump Treasury wants to gambol with your deposits: Trump Treasury Choice Steven Mnuchin Vows to ‘Strip Back’ Dodd-Frank


Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive, discussed the Volcker rule provision in the law—named after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—which is aimed at trying to stop banks from betting with deposit-insured funds. Goldman and other Wall Street firms have complained that the rule is too opaque and complex.

The number one problem with the Volcker rule is it’s way too complicated and people don’t know how to interpret it,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “So we’re going to look at what do with it, as we are with all of Dodd-Frank.”

15--- The 2016 Election: The Last Chance to Stop America’s Decline? PRRI



Roughly four in ten (41%) Americans believe the 2016 election represented the last chance to stop America’s decline. ...This sentiment is much more common among Republicans than Democrats. Six in ten (60%) Republicans and 66% of Trump voters believe the election represented the last opportunity to arrest America’s decline... Nearly half (49%) of white working-class Americans believe the election was the last chance to stop America’s decline....

One in three (33%) Americans say media bias against particular candidates is the most serious problem with the election system. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of Americans believe the disproportionate influence of wealthy individuals and corporations in elections is the most serious problem,...

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Republicans say the most serious problem with the U.S. election system is that the media is not balanced in its treatment of candidates...

A majority (56%) of Republicans and 61% of Trump voters say that the policies of the Democratic Party constitute a dangerous threat to the country...

Overall, more Americans report feeling disappointed, worried, or angry about the election outcome than express feelings of satisfaction or excitement. Half of all Americans report feeling worried (26%), disappointed (19%), or angry (5%). ...More than eight in ten (81%) Republicans feel satisfied or excited about Trump’s recent win

A slim majority of men report feeling satisfied (28%) or excited (23%) about the prospect of a Trump presidency, while only about one-third of women share these feelings...





Monday, December 5, 2016

Today's links

1--Trump Warns Another U.S. Company --President-elect blasts Rexnord’s plan to send Indiana bearings work to Mexico and cut jobs


“Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all of its 300 workers,” Mr. Trump wrote late Friday. “This is happening all over our country. No more!”...

Early Sunday morning, Mr. Trump sent out a series of tweets reaffirming his position that companies that move production abroad and fire workers in the U.S. will face consequences, such as a 35% import tariff. “Please be forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake!” he wrote


2--Get used to it: Economists see 'new normal' of slow growth


Americans should get used to a "new normal" of slow economic growth, business economists say.

The median estimate from economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics calls for the American economy to grow 2.2 percent in 2017, up from a forecast 1.6 percent this year and unchanged from the previous survey in September.

The improved number is still lackluster by historical standards. U.S. economic growth averaged 3.1 percent a year from 1948 to 2015, according to the Congressional Research Service. But the business economists say Americans need to get used to slow growth: 80 percent of those surveyed believe the potential growth rate of the American economy will remain at 2.5 percent or lower over the next five years..

The economy has been hobbled by an aging work force and weak gains in productivity

3--Trump's anti-labor jihad


The worst case goes like this: Trump appoints an anti-union Labor Secretary to oversee the project; he appoints a hundred pro-business judges; he names three pro-business appointees to the 5-person NLRB; and with no hurdles in sight, Congress aggressively moves to water down or repeal as many features of the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) as possible. And with labor as vulnerable and “friendless” as it is, the whole ball of string begins to unravel. That’s the worst case....

Nationwide union membership (public and private) hovers at about 11-percent. When we compare those pitiful figures to the glory days of the 1950s (when the middle-class was flourishing, and union membership was close to 35-percent), we are stunned.
And then, when we learn that, in 1921—in the wake of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the 1919 Boston police strike, Sacco and Vanzetti, and Socialist Eugene Debs receiving more than a million votes while in prison—there was genuine trepidation among the Establishment that the U.S. was on the verge of a great “proletarian revolution,” we are dumbfounded

4--G Sax foreclosure Champ takes over at Treasury


There was also the time he literally forced people out of their homes while he was running OneWest, the lender he sold last year for a personal gain of several millions of dollars. As Bloomberg previously reported, OneWest “carried out more than 36,000 foreclosures during Mnuchin’s reign,” earning the bank a reputation as a “foreclosure machine.” Here, some highlights of Mnuchin’s company’s work:
  • Changing the locks on Leslie Parks’s Minneapolis house, during a blizzard...
  • but sent a check for 3 cents.who owed the bank 30 cents, Ossie LoftonAnd the pièce de résistance: reportedly foreclosing on a 90-year-old woman

5--Erdogan wants Turkey's trade with Iran, Russia, China in local currencies


6--"Russia is the No. 1 threat to the United States." Air Force Secretary


"Russia is the No. 1 threat to the United States. We have a number of threats that we're dealing with, but Russia could be, because of the nuclear aspect, an existential threat to the United States," Air Force Secretary Deborah James told Reuters in an interview at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum....

Kendall said U.S. policy had been centered on threats in the Asia-Pacific region and Middle East, but was now focused more on Russia. "Their behavior has caused us ... to rethink the balance of capabilities that we're going to need," he said.....

Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told the conference that Russia's goal was to counter NATO, undermine its credibility and limit the ability of the U.S. military to project power around the world.
"They are operating with a frequency and in places that we haven't seen for decades," he said, adding that the buildup should be viewed in the context of its actions in Ukraine, Crimea and Syria, where they have already stepped up air attacks on eastern Aleppo

7--Total defeat; Terms of surrender-- Russia, US to start talks on rebel withdrawal from Aleppo – Lavrov


Lavrov also told journalists Monday that Russia would not support a draft resolution imposing a new ceasefire in Aleppo.
Taking into consideration the outcome of the previous pauses [in the conflict], there is absolutely no doubt that the 10-day ceasefire which backers of the draft resolution generously want to provide the militants with would surely be used for regrouping and rearming the extremists and would slow down the liberation of eastern Aleppo from them,” he ....

On Monday, the militants holed up in Aleppo said that they have no plans to leave the city, despite the Syrian Army’s military advances and planned US-Russia talks on total rebel withdrawal.
Any proposals for “for the exit of rebel groups would be unacceptable,” Yasser al-Youssef of the Nureddine Al-Zinki group told AFP.
Abu Abdel Rahman Al-Hamawi from the Jaysh Al-Islam group also said that the militants “would fight... until the last drop of blood.”

8--Military takeover complete under Trump-- US transition to military rule

Mattis has a long and bloody career. He played leading operational roles in both the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003-2004. He later co-authored the Pentagon’s counterinsurgency warfare manual with General David Petraeus, and held a top position with NATO.

He ended his career as head of the US Central Command from 2010 to 2013, overseeing the US withdrawal from Iraq, the increasingly bloody stalemate in Afghanistan, and the US efforts to bolster the Egyptian military against the revolutionary upsurge in that country. He also supervised the drawing up of US plans for intervention in Syria, hailing the armed Islamic uprising against the Assad regime as a potentially devastating strategic blow to Assad’s ally Iran.

The four-star general was removed from his post at CENTCOM five months early, after he came into conflict with the Obama White House over its policy towards Iran, which he regarded as unduly conciliatory. Once retired, Mattis made his differences public, blasting the Obama administration for what he called its “policy of disengagement in the Middle East.”...

Mattis—who has differed with Trump on Russia—is seen as a counterweight to any tendency of the incoming administration to move away from the anti-Russia policy....

What is particularly noteworthy is that all three editorials discuss the principle of civilian control of the military, which would be effectively gutted by the appointment of Mattis, and dismiss it.
The Mattis nomination is not an isolated case. Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is Trump’s choice as national security adviser, the top White House position coordinating military and foreign policy. Retired General David Petraeus, former US commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and former CIA director, is a leading contender for secretary of state. Retired General John F. Kelly is under discussion to head the Department of Homeland Security. And Admiral Michael Rogers, the current head of the National Security Agency, is likely to be named Director of National Intelligence, coordinating all 19 components of the vast US intelligence apparatus.
It is thus quite possible that military officers, active or retired, could end up holding every major national security position in the incoming Trump administration. This is not merely a demonstration of the militaristic character of Trump’s perspective. It must be understood, more fundamentally, as a consequence of the long-term militarization of American foreign policy and American society as a whole.

9--US Congress overwhelmingly backs $619 billion Pentagon budget


Vote to keep Gitmo active...
The House vote on the Pentagon budget came just one day after the US Senate voted unanimously to extend for another 10 years the Iran Sanctions Act, which authorizes the president to impose a blockade on Iran’s energy, banking and defense sectors. The White House indicated that Obama will sign the measure into law.

The passage of the legislation provoked heated protests from the Iranian government, which called it a blatant violation of the agreement reached last year between Tehran, the US and five other major powers. Under the terms of that agreement, Iran accepted the curtailment of its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the US and other countries.

“If this law is implemented it will be a blatant violation of the Iran deal and it will lead to our resolute answer,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the Iranian parliament on Sunday.

Among the strongest proponents of the legislation was Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who made clear that the threat of sanctions was directed not at any nuclear threat from Iran, but rather at the obstacle the country has posed to US hegemony in the Middle East. “Since the nuclear agreement came into force, Iran has continued its efforts to destabilize the region,” he said.
The vote, with the unanimous support of the Democrats, places a weapon in the hands of the incoming Trump administration. The Republican president-elect repeatedly expressed his desire to abrogate the nuclear pact with Iran and has surrounded himself with right-wing militarists who are advocates of a confrontation with Tehran.

10--Syria Roundup: East-Aleppo Siege Nears Its End


11--Washington's real enemy; United Eurasian market


Everywhere we go today across Eurasia, from the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea to Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and on to China, there is a process underway for the first time since the original Silk Road era of more than two thousand years ago, of building up an entire new economic space, the Eurasian Heartland. Were the Turkish government to join the OBOR [One Belt, One Road] project wholeheartedly, the potentials for a Eurasian transformation would become enormous. It remains to be seen what a USA with a Trump presidency will do or not do to try to destroy this beautiful Eurasian build up. If he is as wise as his sound bites make him sound, he will recognize that this kind of development is the only true future for his United States other than bankruptcy, economic depression and wars of destruction. If not, more and more much of the rest of the world seems determined to go it without the “Sole Superpower.”

Washington wants to dictate energy policy to EU vassals

Lessening dependence on natural gas from Russia has topped the agenda of a European Union energy ministers meeting on Monday.
The ministers are discussing amendments to European energy deal regulations to reduce the dependence of member states and increase cooperation during gas supply emergencies.
“Governments can be deeply entrenched in the commercial interests of their national champions and object to the EU messing with their strategic relations with external suppliers,” said Marco Giuli, an analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, as quoted by Bloomberg.

The European Commission wants to have the right to check national supply agreements before they are signed.
The ministers also intend to approve nine geographical zones proposed for deeper cooperation during gas crises. The plan is opposed by Germany, France, and Italy.

he last provision will reportedly be applied to deals covering over 40 percent of annual gas consumption by a country and those with a contract term of more than a year.
This could have an impact on the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project that aims to deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. The project is currently being implemented by Russian gas exporter Gazprom in cooperation with Germany's E.ON, France's Engie and other European companies

13--U.S. Syria Policy at Crossroads as Rebels Falter-- Donald Trump has signaled a likely break from the Obama administration’s approach


(MSM no longer tries to hide the fact that Washington's real purpose was to topple Assad)

The recent gains by Mr. Assad’s forces have added impetus to calls among some of Mr. Trump’s closest advisers, as well as other top U.S. strategists, to cut back on support for the Syrian opposition. Some believe the war to oust Mr. Assad already has been lost and the U.S. should ally with Russia and possibly the Syrian government in an all-out assault on extremists. (So the war was not a fight against ISIS after all?)

“Show me a strategy right now that gets rid of Assad,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a close Trump adviser, said in an interview, suggesting no such strategy exists. “The Russians are for him and the Iranians are for him, and there’s no coalition of forces in the region that defeats him. So it starts with reality.”...

Just how Mr. Trump shifts the U.S. approach may come into clearer focus with his appointments. He has named retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and selected retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his defense secretary.
Both have criticized Obama administration policy on Syria, saying it has held back on the U.S. assault on Islamic State. Gen. Mattis has called for a congressional resolution that authorizes the use of U.S. troops if necessary.
Gen. Mattis has long questioned the Obama administration approach of backing certain Syrian rebels against Mr. Assad.
Yet, Gen. Mattis also has denounced Russia for its 2014 incursion into Ukraine, calling for more arms for Kiev and a tougher posture by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Will US shift to military force instead of covert support for jihadists?)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Today's Links

1--The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World


2--Five Key Takeaways from the New U.S. National Military Strategy CFR


U.S. forces must use forward presence to counter emerging threats, both state and non-state. The document observes that the tactics of “hybrid war” confer many new advantages on the aggressor; the best way to counter these is through forward positioning of military forces for deterrence, and failing that, to enable rapid reaction. Additionally, for hybrid actors like the self-declared Islamic State, defeating them requires “widely distributing U.S. military forces and leveraging globally integrated command and control processes” to disrupt their transregional networks


3--Obama's Big Sellout: The President has Packed His Economic Team with Wall Street Insiders (Now Trump is doing the same thing)


4--Bill Black talks "Liar's loans"


Black: Look at liar’s loans — these are the loans where you don’t verify the borrower’s income, and the industry’s own experts said that these loans were 90 percent fraudulent.

Study after study after study has shown that it was the lenders who put the lies in liar’s loans — the lenders and their agents — and nobody ever made a bank make a liar’s loan. It has nothing to do with the Community Reinvestment Act. Because the purpose of it is to inflate the borrower’s income, it takes you out of Community Reinvestment, and no entity — and this includes Fannie and Freddie — was ever required to purchase a liar’s loan. In fact, [liar’s loans] didn’t qualify as credit for affordable housing goals because you didn’t verify the borrower’s income.

So after all these warnings from the industry’s own anti-fraud experts about them being 90 percent fraudulent, and the fact that even the Bush Administration anti-regulators said, “Don’t do these things,” the industry, between 2003 and 2006, increased liar’s loans by over 500 percent. By 2006, 40 percent of all the home loans made that year and half of all the loans called “subprime” were liar’s loans. Remember, there’s a 90 percent fraud incidence in all of this. That means there were over two million fraudulent loans made in 2006 alone.

Now, that’s one way of looking at it, but even more stark is, in the year 2000 — we are talking about over 13 years ago — the group of associations of honest appraisers created a petition and circulated it widely throughout Washington, D.C. and the industry. They went to all the regulators and prosecutors in the industry — it was eventually signed by over 11,000 appraisers. And the appraisers, here’s what they said: ‘There is an epidemic of lenders who are extorting us to inflate the appraisal, and when we refuse to do so, they blacklist honest appraisers and refuse to use them in the future.’  Now, note the date again: 2000. This is over a year before Enron hits. In other words, we got a warning about this crisis before Enron failed.


5--4 december 2016 in Aleppo


6-- China welcomes Turkish bid for SCO membership


7--Goldman Says Trump's Presidency Will Benefit Stocks in Almost Every Sector


8--Turkey Proposes Trade With China, Russia And Iran In Local Currencies



9--Taxes Under Trump: Almost Everyone Pays Less and the Richest Pay a Lot Less-- Nearly half the benefits of the plan, and a higher proportion of savings, would go to the top 1


Steven Mnuchin, the likely next Treasury secretary, this week said rich U.S. taxpayers won’t get “an absolute tax cut” under President-elect Donald Trump. But that is not what Mr. Trump says in his taxation plan. In fact, under his approach the wealthy would receive an average tax cut of about $215,000 per household, experts say....

According to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis, nearly half the benefits of Mr. Trump’s tax plan would go to the top 1%, households earning more than about $700,000 annually....

For the lowest income group—those earning less than $24,800—the average tax cut would be $110.
The uneven benefits of the Trump plan reflect the difficult nature of tax changes for policy makers who, like Mr. Mnuchin, say they don’t want to benefit the wealthy disproportionately.
“Cutting tax rates for the middle class not only costs a great deal of revenue, it also lowers taxes for high earners because they benefit as well,” says Roberton Williams, an economist with the Tax Policy Center.
Another complication is that tax breaks for individuals are unevenly distributed. For example, high earners are often more able than lower earners to reap long-term capital-gain income, which is now taxed at a top rate of 23.8%. Under current law, 78% of long-term gains go to those in the top 1%.

10--Trump’s Carrier Coup and a Lesson From JFK   Kennedy took on U.S. Steel and won. But economic nationalism can lead to abuse of power


JFK: “My father always told me that all businessmen were sons-of-bitches, but I never believed it till now.” ...

Soon Bethlehem Steel raised its prices. Other companies followed.
Now Kennedy was enraged. Accepting Blough’s decision would undo all his wage-price guideposts. It would also constitute a blow to the prestige of the presidency. And labor would never trust him again.

So he went to war. At a news conference the next day he called the steel companies’ actions “a wholly unjustifiable and irresponsible defiance of the public interest” by “a tiny handful of steel executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility.” He implied they were unpatriotic in a time of national peril. Reeves quotes the poet Robert Frost on hearing the news conference: “Oh didn’t he do a good one! Didn’t he show the Irish, all right?”

Kennedy ordered the Defense Department to shift its steel purchases from U.S. Steel to companies that hadn’t raised prices. The Justice Department under Attorney General Robert Kennedy launched an antitrust investigation, summoned a federal grand jury, and sent FBI agents to the homes and offices of steel executives. There were rumors of threats of IRS investigations of expense accounts and hotel bills.

Bethlehem Steel was the first to back down. A week after informing the president of the price increase, Roger Blough returned to the White House to surrender.

11--Vote no on the Italian constitutional referendum!


12--CEOs, Wall Street to drive Trump economic policy

President-elect Donald Trump announced Friday that he was setting up a panel of top bankers, hedge fund bosses and corporate CEOs to advise him on economic policy once he takes office in January. He named Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone Group, as the chairman of the panel.
Schwarzman is worth upwards of $10 billion, derived from a Wall Street career that included becoming a partner at Lehman Brothers at age 31, then leaving with his boss Peter Peterson to found Blackstone Group in 1985, which specialized in mergers and acquisitions. In other words, the chairman of Trump’s “jobs panel” has made his fortune buying and selling companies, creating “shareholder value” by wiping out the jobs and living standards of tens of thousands of workers.

The other members of Trump’s economic policy panel are a Who’s Who of Wall Street and corporate America: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase; Laurence Fink of BlackRock, another huge hedge fund; Mary Barra of General Motors; Doug McMillion, President and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores; Adebayo Ogunlesi, lead independent director of Goldman Sachs; Bob Iger of Walt Disney Co.; Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM; former Boeing CEO Jim McNerney; and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, among others.

Trump appointed the forum only hours after appearing at a campaign-style rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he engaged in endless social demagogy, claiming to defend the “American worker” and vowing that “A shrinking workforce and flat wages are not going to be the new normal.”
His “jobs panel,” however, consists largely of CEOs and speculators whose personal wealth is bound up directly with slashing jobs and wages and imposing brutal conditions on the working class...

Trump has held up the supposed “saving” of the jobs of 1,100 workers at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis as the first victory of his new administration, touring the plant Thursday and citing it at the Cincinnati rally. But the core of the economic program he advanced during the election was a $6 trillion tax cut for the wealthy and big business.
.
He rejected criticism that he had appointed millionaires and billionaires to his cabinet, saying, “One of the networks said, why would he put on a billionaire at Commerce? Well, that’s because this guy knows how to make money, folks.” The billionaire in question, Wilbur Ross, made his fortune buying and closing steel mills, putting steelworkers out of work, and dumping the pensions of retired workers into the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, which pays only a fraction of what these workers actually earned in a lifetime in the mills.
The Trump cabinet will be the wealthiest in American history even if he fills the remaining vacancies with paupers. One published estimate is that those appointed so far have a combined fortune of $35 billion, including Trump himself, Ross, and Betsy DeVos of the Amway company fortune, named as secretary of education...

Transition aide Anthony Scaramucci, himself the founder and co-managing partner of investment firm SkyBridge Capital, denounced what he called the “demonization of success … If people in the United States have lived the American dream and have been able to amass that kind of wealth, well certainly they’re super talented, or in what the president-elect says, they're actually ‘killers.‘”
He continued, “I really want to push back very strongly on this whole billionaire criticism. Why is it so bad to be a billionaire, okay?”

13---12. Republicans saw last chance to save America. This apocalyptic view was held by a majority of Trump voters. “Six in ten (60%) Republicans and 66% of Trump voters believe the election represented the last opportunity to arrest America’s decline, while only 29% of Democrats and 22% of Clinton voters embrace this view,” the pollsters said. “More than two-thirds (68%) of Democrats and 76% of Clinton voters reject this idea. The views of political independents closely resemble those of the public overall.”


13. Working-class whites split on doomsday scenario. Not everybody who lacked a college degree thought America was facing a do-or-die moment, but many did. “Nearly half (49%) of white working-class Americans believe the election was the last chance to stop America’s decline, while about as many (50%) disagree,” PRRI said. “Fewer than three in ten (27%) white college-educated Americans believe the election was the last chance to stop America’s decline.”

14. Media bias was biggest problem seen by voters.That was seen as the biggest problem (33 percent) with the election, followed by the influence of wealthy Americans and corporations (24 percent), low-voter participation (16 percent), voter suppression (7 percent) and voter fraud concerns (6 percent). Republicans said media bias was the biggest problem, while Democrats said it was the undue influence of big money.

8. Working class whites most excited with results. This isn’t a new analysis, but PRRI found an intriguing twist. The most pleased people in 2016 were the ones most disappointed with Mitt Romney’s loss to President Obama in 2012. “A majority of white working-class Americans say they feel satisfied (26%) or excited (26%) about Trump’s electoral victory. In contrast, fewer than four in ten white college-educated Americans say they feel satisfied (20%) or excited (17%). In 2012, only about one in three white working-class Americans reported feeling either excited (12%) or satisfied (23%) about Obama’s reelection. More than six in ten said they were disappointed (29%), worried (29%), or angry (4%).”


14-- full speech Trump thank you tour


15--The 2016 Election: The Last Chance to Stop America’s Decline?


16--Is yellen trying to crash the market for Trump


17-- Goldman Sachs is the big Dow winner of the Trump rally


18--Trump's "chilling" speech


Trump boasted about his deal to keep about 1,100 Carrier jobs in Indiana, and also took aim at other companies who may be thinking about moving jobs out of the country.

"Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences. Not going to happen. It's not going to happen, I'll tell you right now," Trump said on Thursday.


"We certainly don't want to take as our guide to creating jobs special tax breaks for a company that earned $7.5 billion in profits last year, got $6 billion in defense contracts, paid its top five executives $50 million, in order to preserve 1,000 out of 2,100 jobs," said Shapiro.

"It's essentially a transfer from the taxpayers of Indiana, who are providing these tax breaks, to the shareholders of United Technology plus those 1,000 workers. That's really not a model for creating jobs across America," he added.


19--Bill Black on Trump


DONALD TRUMP: The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind....


BILL BLACK: Right. And this will be another one of those promises and such, and so these key appointees for Commerce and Treasury are folks that have worked closely in the past with the Paulsons of the world, and the George Soros of the world, who is the Great Demon, according to Trump, but these are allies of Soros.

IndyMac was one of the most notorious fraudulent lenders in America. It specialized in making liar’s loans – and again, I want to emphasize that there’s testimony in front of the Federal Reserve by the top attorney generals, state attorney generals, who investigated these kinds of frauds. And they said that overwhelmingly the frauds came from the lenders, as opposed to the borrowers. And the incidence of fraud in these liar’s loans, according to the industry’s own anti-fraud experts, was 90%. So, what did these and Goldman Sachs decide to do? Well, create a fund to buy this most-notorious fraudulent entity, and did they do it so they could provide recompense to the victims of the fraud, the borrowers? No, of course not. They did it so that they could start this aggressive wave of foreclosing on the fraudulently originated loans – double-victimizing the people that took out these loans.

And so they are probably the most notorious foreclosure in the United States and there are complaints saying that they did this disproportionately with regard to blacks and Latinos. But that would also follow naturally from being a specialist in liar’s loans, because they frequently, particularly in the last couple of years, 2006 and the first half of 2007, deliberately targeted blacks and Latinos for those kinds of loan fraud



Friday, December 2, 2016

Today's Links

Trump:  “From now on it is going to be America First,” Trump added. “We are going to put ourselves first… Our goal is to strengthen the bonds between citizens, to restore our sense of membership in a shared national community.”

As was the case during his campaign for president, Trump made a demagogic appeal to social anger over declining wages and social inequality. “Our government has failed to protect the interests of the American worker,” he said. “A shrinking workforce and flat wages are not going to be the new normal.” WSWS



1--Powerful hallucinogens reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients


2--Bankers Behind "Great Foreclosure Machine" Join Trump's Cabinet as Treasury and Commerce Secretaries


Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary and Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary. Mnuchin has deep ties on Wall Street, including working as a partner for Goldman Sachs, and his hedge fund played a role in the housing crisis after it scooped up the failing California bank IndyMac in 2008. Trump's commerce secretary pick, Wilbur Ross, is a billionaire private equity investor who specializes in flipping bankrupt companies for profit, often buying the US companies at low prices and then selling them to overseas investors. He and his companies have sometimes shipped jobs and factories overseas -- practices Donald Trump has railed against. We are joined by David Dayen, whose recent article for The Nation is "Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin -- Profiteers of the Great Foreclosure Machine -- Go to Washington."


3--Trump’s First “Victory Tour” Speech Outlines His Menacing Vision for an Angry, Insular America in a Hostile World


4--Trump Picks Foreclosure King Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary, Daily Beast


5--Trump's Treasury Pick: Another Goldman Sachs Blowhard (Who Worked for Soros)


6--Big banks love Trump--Goldman Says Trump's Presidency Will Benefit Stocks in Almost Every Sector



7--I Watched All of Steve Bannon’s Bad Movies


8--Bannon was inspired by Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl


Bannon does not hide his affinity for propaganda. He has cited as an inspiration Nazi propagandist and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. She famously directed “Triumph of the Will,” a film commissioned by Adolf Hitler in 1933 that portrays Germany as a country returning to world power.

9--The Really Rich Got Richer, According to IRS’s Top 400 -- Total income reported on the top 400 individual tax returns rose 20% in 2014


10--Imagining a Dystopia of the Dying Dollar  Will Trump default?


In  a dystopian vision of the future published earlier this year, novelist Lionel Shriver portrayed a U.S. plunged deep into depression after an incompetent U.S. president triggered a trade war and the world stopped using the dollar.
“The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047” is set 13 years hence; could the real-life new president bring forward the day the dollar loses its reserve-currency status?

The markets aren’t worried. The dollar has soared since Donald Trump was elected, with the ICE U.S. Dollar Index showing the greenback up 4% against a basket of developed-market currencies, and far bigger gains against emerging markets.

Yet, Mr. Trump’s policies and past comments could, if followed through, make the U.S. a less attractive place to park money. If foreigners start to doubt that they will be repaid in full, they may pare back their reliance on U.S. Treasurys in foreign-exchange reserves, forcing the government to pay more to borrow and weakening the currency. A shift to a more populist style of leadership could also threaten the rule of law, which is craved by international investors....

Mr. Trump hinted at extreme options during the election campaign, saying he could “make a deal” to lower debt costs, and later saying the U.S. had “a lot of power” over China because it owed the country so much. In both cases he denied default was an option, but without the threat of default there is no reason for creditors to accept less than full repayment.

11--Dow Industrials Rise; Bond Selloff Continues-- Crude keeps climbing after OPEC agrees to cut oil production


The surge in financials is responsible for more than half of the S&P 500’s gains since Nov. 8, even before Thursday’s 1.7% rise, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Investors are betting that a Republican-led government will roll back taxes and regulation, which some expect could boost growth and inflation. A bond selloff that accelerated Thursday and sent yields even higher could also help profits at lenders, which make money off the gap between what they pay on deposits and charge on loans....

Investors sold real-estate, utilities and consumer-staples shares, often considered proxies for bonds because of their dividends. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.444%—its highest closing level since June 2015—from 2.365% Wednesday. Yields rise as prices fall.


12-- Baby Boomers vs. Millennials: The Uneven Jobs Recovery-- Millennials see relatively slower progress on the labor front


Consider the Labor Department’s employment-population ratio, which measures the share of people who are employed. Among millennials between ages 25 and 34, it hit 77.5% in October. While that figure has risen for much of the past five years, it still hasn’t reclaimed its prefinancial crisis high of 80% in March 2007 or its all-time high of 82.3% in April 2000.

The numbers are even worse for younger millennials. Roughly half of those in the 16-to-24 age range are employed, far closer to the all-time low of 44% in January 2010 than the peak of 62.1% in August 1989.


13--Fed policy is now in the red zone


the sharp drop in the unemployment rate to 4.6 percent from 4.9 percent. Until that happened, Federal Open Market Committee members were fighting tooth and nail over whether to hike rates. Now, it may be hard to it to stop raising rates

14--House passes censorship bill


15--Buyers Remorse? Trump Supporter Was Foreclosed On By Treasury Pick Steve Mnuchin


16--Schwarzman, Dimon, Fink Will Advise Trump How To Create Jobs


17--Americans Not In The Labor Force Soar To Record 95.1 Million: Jump By 446,000 In One Month


18--Since 2014 The US Has Added 571,000 Waiters And Bartenders And Lost 34,000 Manufacturing Workers


19--Multiple Jobholders Hit New All Time High As Part-Time Jobs Soar


20--Payrolls Rise 178K As Unemployment Rate Tumbles To 4.6% But Average Hourly Earnings Worst Since 2014


21-- Trump Exults in Victory and Mocks Critics at Cincinnati Rally


22-- Gundlach Turns Bearish Again: "Stocks Have Peaked, It's Too Late To Buy The Trump Trade"


23-- Jack Rasmus on Trumponomics




$1 trillion and $100 billion a year over ten years, Trump’s campaign proposal, might have some effect on US GDP. But GDP growth does not necessarily mean benefits in income to all—as the last eight years has clearly shown as 97% of all GDP-income gains under Obama have gone to the wealthiest 1% households. Nor will infrastructure spending likely translate much into job creation—and could especially result in little positive impact on jobs if infrastructure spending is composed mostly of tax cuts, business subsidies, and high capital-intensive projects that may take years to realize....

Trump has proposed to cut corporate taxes even more than the Ryan-Republican Party faction in Congress. From the current 35% corporate rate, Trump proposed reducing it to 15% while Ryan and friends to 20%. Both are in agreement to reduce the top income tax rate for their wealthy friends, from current 39.6% to 33%. The Capital gains tax, now 23.8%, is scheduled for a cut to 20% by Trump and 16.5% by Congress. Both Trump and Ryan plan to abolish the Estate Tax, reducing taxation on estates worth $7 million (now the threshold) altogether. Both are strong proponents of allowing big US multinational corporations in Tech, Pharma, Banking and others to ‘repatriate’ $2.5 trillion in taxes they have been hoarding in profits offshore to avoid paying the US 35% rate to a low of 10%. The 4.8% surtax on the wealthiest to help fund Obamacare will also certainly disappear. Also notable is that net taxes on the middle class will rise under both plans, and the countless loopholes for investors will continue.

It should be noted that this massive tax cut package amounts to $4.3 trillion, according to Trump. But according to the Tax Policy Center research group, it will reduce federal revenues by $6.2 trillion. The wealthiest 1% would realize a 13.5% cut in their taxes, while the rest of all households would have a 4.1 % rise in their taxes.

This $4.3 or $6.2 trillion follows a $5 trillion tax cut agreed to by Obama, Democrats and Republicans in Congress that took place in early 2013 as part of the then phony ‘fiscal cliff’ crisis. That followed a $800 billion tax cut pushed by Obama at the end of 2010, in which Obama continued the previous Bush tax cuts for another two years and then some. That followed a preceding $300 billion tax cut in Obama’s 2009 initial recovery program. And all that came after George W. Bush’s estimated $3.4 trillion in tax cuts in 2001-04, 80% of which accrued the wealthiest households and businesses. So under Bush-Obama, taxes for the rich and their corporations totaled approximately $9.5 trillion, and now Trump-Ryan propose another $4.3 trillion minimum.

The US elite, in Congress and beyond, will tolerate much of this deregulation, as well as a significant assault on immigration, law and order, policy repression of ethnic communities, deportations, limits on civil liberties, cuts in social programs, and privatization proposals across the board involving education, Medicare, and healthcare. Their priority is passage of policy in the areas of tax cuts, deregulation, and delaying any potential actions that might endanger existing free trade agreements...

What started as a hope of a resurrected left populism quickly and progressively decayed into a comprehensive program that delivered 97% of all income gains to the wealthiest 1% households.
Voters chose a black president in 2008 because they wanted change. They didn’t care about his race. They didn’t get it. In 2016 they now voted again—for change. Those voters did not become racist in the past eight years, even though the candidate they just voted for indicated in many ways he himself was racist and misogynist, to name but a few of his apparent character faults. Those voters who in 2008 chose a ‘left populism’ that turned out to be false, chose in 2016 a ‘right populism’. But what they will get is not populism but another disappointment...

Like the Obama regime, the Trump regime will retreat to a neoliberal US elite regime. It will be a ‘Neoliberalism 2.0’. An evolved new form of Neoliberalism based on the continuation of pro-investor, pro-corporate, pro-wealthy elite economic policies—with an overlay of even more repressive social policies involving immigration, law and order, privatizations, cuts in social programs, more police repressions of ethnic communities, environmental retreat, limits on civil liberties, more insecurity and more fear. This is the new form of Neoliberalism, necessary to continue its economic dimensions by intensifying its forms of social repression and control.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/02/taming-trump-from-faux-left-to-faux-right-populism/

24--Trump outlines right-wing program of extreme nationalism at Cincinnati rally


For all his talk of national “unity,” a Trump administration will be one of brutal class war. Trump’s “action plan” is centered on freeing corporations from any restraints on profit-making and exploitation. “Right now we punish companies for doing business in America,” he said. To bring back jobs, the new administration would “massively lower taxes, and make America the best place in the world to hire, to invest, to grow, to create and to expand.”
He added that he would “eliminate every single wasteful regulation that undermines the ability of our workers and our companies to compete with companies from foreign lands.”...

In fact, Trump’s “America First” nationalism will be accompanied by a massive escalation of military violence. In his speech, Trump pledged a “national effort to build our badly depleted military” and called for a major campaign to “destroy ISIS.”...

Trump’s remarks were clearly shaped and likely written by Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News who has ties to fascistic organizations. Bannon has called for the formation of a new “movement”—a term Trump repeated throughout his remarks—based on economic nationalism and opposition to “globalists.”
A major theme was the need to “unify” the nation in opposition to Washington politicians who have subordinated “American interests” to foreign powers. “There is a lot of talk about how we are becoming a globalized world,” Trump said, “but the relationships people value in this country are local… There is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag, and that is the American flag.”...

In a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday night, US President-elect Donald Trump outlined the right-wing program of extreme “America First” nationalism of the incoming administration.
The Cincinnati speech was unlike any delivered by a president or president-elect in US history. It was a combination of blatant contradictions, exaggerations, wild hyperbole, empty demagogy and praise for himself as the man who would fix all the problems facing the country. It combined threats against political enemies with pledges to work with anyone and everyone to overcome gridlock and restore American jobs.

While couched in rhetoric about protecting the “American worker,” Trump’s policy proposals centered on massive tax cuts to corporations and deregulation, combined with increasing the size of the military, expanding police powers and sharply curtailing immigration. During the rally Trump also announced that his choice for secretary of defense is retired general James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

25--Tensions mount over US presidential election recounts


When Stein made an online appeal for money to pay for the legal and processing costs, more than $7 million was raised in a few days, almost entirely from small donors. This is twice the amount Stein raised for her own presidential campaign, which the Greens largely downplayed once it became clear that the contest between the two main capitalist candidates was tightening.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Today's Links

Today's Quote:  "With a Trump-led government, a regime of a new type will take power in the United States—in which military-police violence and authoritarian methods of rule will more openly predominate. As Obama wishes Trump every success, and Democrats pledge to work with the incoming administration, Trump is packing his cabinet with individuals who have as much contempt for democratic rights as he does." WSWS


Bill Blum: "If the American mainstream media were officially state-controlled, would they look or sound significantly different when it comes to U.S. foreign policy?"




1--India's wacky demonetization scheme


There is a reason why demonetization has never previously happened in peacetime or in the absence of hyperinflation. Those are events that acknowledge the widespread breakdown of social life and attempt to reset it. Money itself is an essential metaphor, a social contrivance to signify a means of final settlement of debts without which binding commitments or promises would be impossible. The anonymity of money is exactly what allows people who don’t have any strong social ties to cooperate in all sorts of ways. And cash, in particular, allows for cooperation and coordination among the poor, the rural population; people who don’t have access to electronic payments systems or coordination through corporate structures, professional networks and so on. Demonetization undermines those structures and in that, the sense of a collective social understanding. Doing so, while unlikely to be fatal, will corrode this most basic trust.

2--Magic mushroom ingredient psilocybin could be key to treating depression - studies


A single dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms, can lift the anxiety and depression experienced by people with advanced cancer for six months or even longer, two new studies show.
Researchers involved in the two trials in the United States say the results are remarkable. The volunteers had “profoundly meaningful and spiritual experiences” which made most of them rethink life and death, ended their despair and brought about lasting improvement in the quality of their lives...

“They are defined by a sense of oneness – people feel that their separation between the personal ego and the outside world is sort of dissolved and they feel that they are part of some continuous energy or consciousness in the universe. Patients can feel sort of transported to a different dimension of reality, sort of like a waking dream.”

3--The Washington Post’s Propaganda about Russian Propaganda

We have used a combination of manual and automated analysis, including analysis of content, timing, technical indicators, and other reporting, in order to initially identify (“red-flag”) the following as Russian propaganda outlets...

Given all that, check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet qualifies under our definition of propaganda:
A systematic form of persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for political, ideological, and religious purposes, through the controlled transmission of deceptive, selectively-omitting, and one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels....

Financial propaganda weakens citizen and investor confidence in foreign markets and posits the failure of capitalist economies. Stoking fears over the national debt, attacking institutions such as the Federal Reserve, and attempts to discredit Western financial experts and business leaders are all part of this arsenal.

4--Wall Street Wins Again as Trump Picks Bankers, Billionaires

5--Trump picks notorious warhawk as deputy national security adviser


Kissinger chose McFarland’s position well. She has consistently called for more military intervention in Syria, and has made clear her desire for regime change in Iran. McFarland wants to increase the already gargantuan U.S. military budget, which is in line with Trump’s position.
The appointment of K.T. McFarland is the biggest indicator yet that Trump is opening the door to the neocon globalist cabal, despite his claims of being against the establishment. This is especially troubling, considering the unabashed hostility of Trump and his appointees against Muslim nations that do not submit to the will of the U.S

One should not insist on nailing [Trump] into positions that he had taken in the campaign,” Kissinger told CNN the Sunday after the meeting.
Coming from Kissinger, this can be taken to mean that Trump will abandon his non-interventionist position in order to continue stoking endless conflict around the world that is crucial to the CFR globalist agenda...

For all of Donald Trump’s words about going against the Washington establishment, his pick for deputy national security adviser makes much of that null and void.
President-elect Trump has tapped K.T. McFarland for deputy national security adviser, who is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and former aide to Henry Kissinger during the Nixon administration. More recently, she has plied her trade as a talking head on Fox News, which regularly pushes the narrative of U.S. military hegemony and keeps Americans in a state of fear over terrorism.

McFarland would serve directly under Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the firebrand Islamophobe who was forced out of his job as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn, who calls for increased domestic surveillance and escalating tensions with Iran, became a big Trump supporter – and that loyalty is now being rewarded.
McFarland, being a long-time CFR member, has a history of pushing war all over the globe in the interest of the U.S. war machine.

6--Syrian Army Reaches a 'Turning Point' in Battle for Aleppo

7--Subprime Auto-Loan Delinquencies Surge to NY Fed’s Attention

Subprime auto loans make up 24% (or $272 billion) of total auto loans.
  • Banks and credit unions originated only 25%, or $68 billion, of these subprime loans.
  • Auto finance companies originated 75%, or $204 billion, of these subprime loans.

  • 8--Trump's propaganda minister, Steve Bannon


    Picking a master of propaganda as his Chief Strategist in the White House is serious cause for concern about the impending Presidency of Donald Trump. In 1990, Marie Brenner wrote at Vanity Fair about Trump’s divorce from his first wife, Ivana. Brenner reported the following:

    “Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed…Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist.”

    A friend, Marty Davis, confirmed that he had given the book to Trump. The response from Donald Trump in the article was: “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.”...

    What sets this so-called documentary out as a pure propaganda film is what is missing from the film and the fascinating backgrounds of those who have speaking parts in the film.

    Occupy Wall Street grew out of the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression, which was orchestrated by the unbridled greed and unchecked corruption of Wall Street men with too much political clout in Washington. But there is nothing about the financial collapse in the film. There is nothing about the millions of honest Americans who had lost their jobs and their homes. There is nothing about the Wall Street bank CEOs who walked away with tens of millions of dollars in golden parachutes as their century-old banks collapsed. There is nothing about the taxpayer-bailed-out banks paying millions in bonuses to their reckless executives. There is nothing about the Federal Reserve secretly funneling to the Wall Street banks $16 trillion cumulatively from 2007 to 2010 in loans mostly below 1 percent interest as the same banks charged 19 and 20 percent credit card interest to struggling Americans.

    You won’t find one word in this 75-minute film about why Occupy Wall Street protesters were so genuinely angry and fed up; why people from all walks of life in cities across America took to the streets to express outrage at the unprecedented wealth and income inequality fueled by Wall Street and the one percent.
    What you will find is David Horowitz using various means on camera to demonize the protesters. Horowitz says the protesters only pretend to be interested in ideas but just “basically hate America

    9--Huh?? There are no terrorists in Aleppo


    10--Jihadists postpone the inevitable defeat


    Meanwhile, reports appeared that “Aleppo rebels” have created a united command to fight back the Syrian army’s offensive in Aleppo city, again… The newly created command is allegedly named “Aleppo Army” and will include Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, Sham Front, al-Zinki and other militant groups operating in Aleppo city under the banners of Jaish al-Fatah and Fatah Halab coalitions.
    However, it looks as a PR move for the mainstream media because on November 15 the same factions announced the creation of the so-called “Aleppo Command Council” with the same goal. The united commad already exists.

    11--The “fake news” furor and the threat of Internet censorship

    12--Trump names Medicare opponent to head health programs: Who is Tom Price?

    President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Georgia Congressman Tom Price as his secretary of health and human services makes clear his intention to carry out a fundamental attack on Medicare and Medicaid, the government health insurance programs for the elderly, the handicapped and the poor that cover a combined total of 130 million people.

    Trump announced the appointment on Tuesday, calling the diehard opponent of the bedrock government health programs a “problem solver” and “go-to expert on health care policy.” He also named Seema Verma to head the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Verma worked with Republican leaders in Indiana, including the current governor and vice president-elect, Mike Pence, to substantially privatize the state’s Medicaid program for the poor and impose co-payments on recipients. In the process, she made millions of dollars for her Indianapolis-based firm.

    Both Trump and Price have long declared their opposition to the health care overhaul enacted by the Obama administration in 2010, popularly known as Obamacare. But Price’s appointment involves more than the promised repeal of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is part of a scheme to use the total or partial repeal of Obamacare to begin the dismantling of both Medicare and Medicaid as government-run, universal entitlement programs, and their transformation into voucher programs, in which seniors and poor people would be given government subsidies that would cover only a fraction of the cost of private insurance...

    The EPFA calls for effectively ending Medicaid as a national program by reducing it to a system of block grants to the states, each of which would have total control over its own program, with the power to restrict eligibility, reduce benefits and impose out-of-pocket costs. According to the Washington-based Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, spending on Medicaid would be cut by as much as 34 percent by 2025 under Price’s block grant system.

    Medicare would be transformed from a program guaranteeing a defined set of benefits to a “premium support” model, i.e., it would provide vouchers for seniors and disabled people to apply toward the purchase of policies from private insurers. According to one study, this “reform” would shift the cost-sharing between beneficiaries and the government from the current situation, where the government pays 70 percent and recipients pay 30 percent, to the reverse, with seniors paying 70 percent of health costs.

    It is obvious that this scheme will mean a drastic decline in health care for the elderly and disabled and result in increased poverty and disease and premature death for millions of people. This is precisely what corporate America, which considers health care for the elderly and poor an intolerable drain on its profits, intends.

    According to press reports, Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress plan to move quickly to enact measures along the lines of those proposed by Price. They intend to pass legislation in 2017 combining the full or partial repeal of Obamacare with the crippling provisions regarding Medicare and Medicaid outlined above

    13--President-elect Trump on flag-burning: The crisis of American democracy

    The New York Times, in its editorial on Wednesday, wrote that when Trump pledges to defend the Constitution, “we the people will have good reason to doubt he knows what he’s talking about.” Of Trump, they write, “He tweets, he posts, he incites. He trolls. He commands a global platform and will soon be America’s commander in chief. But it has to be said, and said again: This is not normal. It demeans the presidency.”...

    It was the constitutional law professor Obama, who established the principle that the president of the United States has the authority to assassinate, without due process, any American citizen that he determines to be a “terrorist” and threat to national security, a power that Attorney General Eric Holder declared applies on US soil. His administration has used this power to kill at least three US citizens, along with thousands of other individuals incinerated by drone bombs all over the world.....

    With a Trump-led government, a regime of a new type will take power in the United States—in which military-police violence and authoritarian methods of rule will more openly predominate. As Obama wishes Trump every success, and Democrats pledge to work with the incoming administration, Trump is packing his cabinet with individuals who have as much contempt for democratic rights as he does.
    Yet this government arises out of and expresses social contradictions in American society that are exploding the circuit-breakers of bourgeois democracy. It is the response of the American ruling class to the extreme growth of social inequality. If the ruling class is prepared to jail people for burning the flag, what will it do about mass protests against war, police violence and the destruction of health care?

    14--Sanders explained how Trump had won the election


    “What Mr. Trump did – and this speaks to why I personally believe we need major, major reforms of the Democratic Party – what Mr. Trump said and talked about is something that the pundits here in Washington have not a clue about; and the corporate media has very little understanding about. And that is what he understood to be true is true: is despite the fact that today we are far, far better off economically after eight years of Obama than we were when Bush left office, that is true. There is another reality. And that is that all across this country there are millions and millions of good people that are frightened about the world that they are living in. There are mothers out there, single moms or young couples, who are making $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 a year; Mom and Dad are working, they need child care for their children and yet child care costs $10,000 or $15,000. How do you afford $15,000 for child care when you’re making $40,000 or $50,000 a year?

    “There are workers in my state who see an explosion in technology, they see the very wealthiest people in this country becoming phenomenally richer. They see large corporations enjoying record breaking profits. Yet they are working not at one job, they’re working two jobs, they are working three jobs. There are people all over this country who are 55, 60 years of age. They have worked their entire lives. And now they are going to be retiring soon and you know what, half of those older workers do not have a nickel in the bank for retirement.

    “There are young people who went deeply into debt – $30,000, $50,000, $80,000 in debt – in order to go to college but when they leave school they find that the only jobs you can get are jobs which pay them twelve, fourteen bucks an hour – not enough to repay their debt. That is the reality for millions of people in this country.”

    Following his speech, Sanders sat down on stage for an interview by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. At one point, Dionne read the following passage from Sanders’ book:
    “The Clinton approach was to try to merge the interests of Wall Street and corporate America with the needs of the American middle class – an impossible task.”


    … There are about 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam while they were happening, or shortly thereafter? Or even opposed to any two of these seven wars? How about one?

    In 1968, six years into the Vietnam War, the Boston Globe (Feb. 18, 1968) surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading U.S. papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out.” Has the phrase “invasion of Vietnam” ever appeared in the U.S. mainstream media?
    In 2003, leading cable station MSNBC took the much-admired Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq. Mr. Kirby would undoubtedly call MSNBC “independent.”
    If the American mainstream media were officially state-controlled, would they look or sound significantly different when it comes to U.S. foreign policy...

    “RT disputed the findings of the researchers in an e-mail on Friday, saying it played no role in producing or amplifying any fake news stories related to the U.S. election.” RT was quoted: “It is the height of irony that an article about ‘fake news’ is built on false, unsubstantiated claims. RT adamantly rejects any and all claims and insinuations that the network has originated even a single ‘fake story’ related to the US election.”

    It must be noted that the Washington Post article fails to provide a single example showing how the actual facts of a specific news event were rewritten or distorted by a Russian agency to produce a news event with a contrary political message.
    What then lies behind such blatant anti-Russian propaganda? In the new Cold War such a question requires no answer. The new Cold War by definition exists to discredit Russia simply because it stands in the way of American world domination

    Notes:  He did not just wittingly named Russia in 2012 as the USA’s geopolitical enemy No. 1. Romney consistently supports for a No Fly Zone in Syria and considers cooperation with Moscow in the fight against IS* “morally unacceptable”....