Monday, August 3, 2015

Today's Links

1---Smart Money Dumps Assets at Record Pace, But Who the Heck Is Borrowing and Buying Like There’s No Tomorrow?

Corporations have been buying back their own shares. They’ve been buying privately held companies, including those dumped by PE firms. And they’ve been buying each other in the most awe-inspiring wave of merges and acquisitions the world has ever seen. The higher the price and the premium, the better. Corporations have become the relentless bid.

And they’re funding this binge with cheaply borrowed money. Junk bonds have seen rough waters recently, with investors getting re-spooked by the energy debacle, and issuance is down so far this year, compared to last year. But high-grade bonds are still booming though the first ripples have appeared.
US corporations issued a total of $802.9 billion in investment-grade bonds this year through July, according to Dealogic, up 27% from the same period in 2014. The most ever.
Of that, $701.7 billion were issued in the US, the highest ever, up 32% from the prior record set during the M&A bubble in 2007 (a now paltry $531.3 billion).

2--Market manipulation goes global, Stephen Roach

China’s efforts at market manipulation are no less blatant. In response to a 31 per cent plunge in the CSI 300 (a composite index of shares on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges) from its June 12 peak, following a 145 per cent surge in the preceding 12 months, Chinese regulators have moved aggressively to contain the damage.
Official actions run the gamut, including a US$480 billion (S$656 billion) government-supported equity-market backstop under the auspices of the China Securities Finance Corporation, a US$19 billion pool from major domestic brokerages, and an open-ended promise by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) to use its balance sheet to shore up equity prices. Moreover, trading was suspended for about 50 per cent of listed securities (more than 1,400 of 2,800 stocks).
While the government has assembled considerable firepower to limit the unwinding of a spectacular bubble, the overhang of highly leveraged speculative demand is disconcerting.
Indeed, in the 12 months ending in June, margin financing of stock purchases nearly tripled as a share of tradable domestic-equity-market capitalisation.

3--Special Forces disguised as ISIS fighters operating in Syria – military sources

Special Forces soldiers from Britain’s most shadowy military unit are dressing as Islamic State militants and traveling deep into the badlands of Syria to track and destroy enemy assets, according to military sources.
It is reported that up to two SAS squadrons of men, around 120 personnel in all, are operating inside the borders of Syria as part of Operation Shader, which aims to destroy equipment and munitions used by the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

The troops are operating under US command as part of the Coalition Joint Special Operations Task Force.... it was revealed that UK drone crews had been routinely operating under US command from Creech air base in Nevada.
Concerns were immediately raised about whether RAF (Royal Air Force) personnel were involved in strikes on Pakistan and Yemen, nations which the US has been bombing for some time, but with whom the UK is not ‘legally’ at war.

4--Pipeline taking Iran's gas to Iraq ready in 20 days: Official

Based on the agreement, 25 mcm of gas will be delivered to Sadr, Baghdad and al-Mansouryah power plants through the 270-kilometer pipeline.

5---Washington stunned by attack on US mercenaries in Syria

Following the capture of its commander and the other fighters, Division 30 issued a communique appealing to “our brothers” in the Al-Nusra-dominated “Support Front” to “release the colonel and his companions as quickly as possible, avoiding shedding the blood of Muslims and out of eagerness to maintain a united front.”

The statement could not be clearer. The force being trained by the US military is attempting to operate as part of a “united front” with the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda, which the American people have been told for nearly 14 years represents the foremost threat to the US....

Washington's apparent objective was to rely on the Nusra Front to serve as its principal proxy force while utilizing the US-trained mercenaries of Division 30 to influence the Al Qaeda-affiliated militia. The fighting at the end of last week has thrown this strategy into disarray.....

In the midst of the latest debacle with Division 30 and one year after the Obama administration began its bombing campaign against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq, US military and intelligence officials have told the Associated Press that both the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency have concluded that the strategy has resulted in “no meaningful degradation” of the number of fighters fielded by ISIS. US intelligence puts this number at between 20,000 and 30,000. Nor have any significant gains been registered in retaking Iraqi territory that has fallen under ISIS control.....

has been sold to the American people as a war against terrorism is in actuality being waged in a de facto alliance with Al Qaeda. Its real purpose is to oust a Syrian government allied with Russia and Iran and impose a US puppet as part of a strategy to impose US hegemony over the entire Middle East and prepare for global war.

Friday's attack came a day after the Nusra Front captured the head of Division 30, a Syrian army defector Col. Nadim al-Hasan, and another officer known as Abu Hadi, who was in command of the small band of US-trained fighters who have been funneled back into Syria from Turkey. Another six fighters were also taken prisoner.
The Pentagon initially issued carefully worded statements claiming that none of the US-trained fighters had been captured. These claims were dashed by Saturday, when the Syrian Al Qaeda front released a video in which the captured fighters appeared. One of them, speaking to the camera, explained how US trainers had, after a month and a half training in Turkey, provided him and others with M-16 assault rifles and cash and sent them into Syria.

The US-trained fighters are hardly a formidable force. According to the Pentagon's own admission, barely 60 have been vetted and trained since the program was first proposed nearly a year ago, with the stated aim of fielding an army of 15,000 US-backed mercenaries.
The difficulties encountered by this program stem both from the inability of the Pentagon to vet Syrian fighters, who are overwhelmingly drawn from Islamist extremist groups like the Nusra Front, and the unwillingness of these same fighters to be identified as US-paid mercenaries.

6---The Fake War on ISIS: US and Turkey Escalate in Syria

It is now also documented fact that Turkish intelligence (MIT) has been an active player in the ongoing campaign to arm and resupply the terror groups such as the al Nusra Front and others. The evidence of this fact was made public by the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet which published video footage along with transcripts from wiretaps confirming what many eyewitnesses have stated:  Turkish security forces have been directly involved in shelling and support operations for Nusra front and other jihadi groups in and around Kassab, Syria, among other sites. Many of the very same terrorists who have been armed and supported by the Turkish government are today being held up as enemies of Turkey, and rationalization of the need for Turkish military intervention.
So, with the inescapable understanding that Turkey’s government is the primary supporter and sponsor of terrorist groups in Syria, the justification for war becomes flimsy at best. But, if it’s not about fighting terror, then what exactly is Ankara’s objective? What does it hope to gain?...

 the Brookings Institution just last month issued a policy paper entitled Deconstructing Syria: Towards a regionalized strategy for a confederal country, which brazenly laid out a plan to, as political analyst Tony Cartalucci astutely pointed out, “divide, destroy, then incrementally occupy” Syria using the pretext of ISIS and terrorism. And that is precisely what we’re witnessing now.

7--Gross: Low rates are the problem, not the solution

When central banks, particularly the Federal Reserve, began their aggressive easing programs, the thought was that boosting asset prices and lowering the cost of money would spur business investment that would flow through the broader economy.
The S&P 500 indeed has soared about 210 percent during the bull market that began in 2009. But as evidenced—again—by Thursday's tepid 2.3 percent quarterly gain in gross domestic product, aggressive growth has proved elusive....

In the fallout, Gross wondered what would happen to the "zombie" companies issuing junk bonds, as well as those firms that have spent trillions on stock buybacks to boost share prices.
"Low interest rates may not cure a fever, Gross said, "they may in fact raise a patient's temperature to life threatening status

8--US-Trained Syrian Rebels Routed by al-Qaeda, Flee Into Kurdish Territory
           Al-Qaeda Rules Out Working With US-Backed Groups



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