Sunday, June 5, 2016

Today's links

1--These Are The 9 Zero Hedge Charts Showing "Obama's Recovery" That Angered The Washington Post


2--DAVID ROSENBERG: I don't want to alarm anyone but ...yes, I am worried

This is a game-changer.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.7% from 5.0% in each of the prior two months, the lowest since November 2007, but did so for the wrong reason as household employment barely rose — up 26,000 after a 316,000 plunge in April — and the labor force shrank 458,000 (on top of a 362,000 decline in April so we are back into a phase where people are disengaging from the economy).
Without this impact, which pulled the participation rate down to a six-month low of 62.6% from 62.8% in April and 63.0% in March, the jobless rate actually would have just stayed at 5.0%.
All anyone needs to know in terms of what slack there is left in the jobs market, the broad U-6 unemployment rate was stuck at 9.7%.
There are currently 7.4 million people officially unemployed but when you tack on all the idle resources in the labor market, all the underemployment in other words, that number is much closer to 20 million. And that is why wage growth was so modest,...

Full-time employment declined 59,000 on top of a 316,000 plunge in April. Those working part-time for economic reasons — actually preferring full-time employment but no such luck — jumped 468,000 in the sharpest increase for any month since September 2012 (when the Fed embarked on QE3...

Productivity declined at a 1.7% annual rate in Q4 of last year and followed that up with a 1.0% drop in Q1. On average, labor input expanded at nearly a 2½% annual rate and nonfarm business output growth barely averaged 1%.
So do the math.
From last October to this past March, we had an unusual situation where aggregate hours worked outpaced production by a ratio of two-and-a-half to one.
Not sustainable.
The mean reversion means that it is pay-the-piper time in terms of what this means for the labor market.
Nonfarm payrolls rose a meager 38,000 in May and even accounting for the striking Verizon workers, the headline still would have been less than half the consensus estimate of +160,000...

Not just that, but there were downward revisions to the prior two months totaling 59,000 — something we have not seen since June of last year.
Look at the pattern; +233,000 in February, +186,000 in March, +123,000 in April and +38,000 in May. Detect a pattern here (he asks wryly)?
You can see why I was gagging when I heard some of the pundits on “bubblevision” tell the anchors this morning that the Fed will look through one number. Dude — this isn’t one number. It is a pattern of softness that has been in effect for the past four months … and counting...

goods-producing employment declined 36,000, which was the steepest falloff since February 2010. But this is not just one data-point but a visible weakening trend — this critical cyclically sensitive segment of the economy has contracted now for four months in a row and the cumulative damage is 77,000 jobs or a -1.2% annual rate.
I don’t want to alarm anyone but the facts are the facts, and the fact here is simply that this is precisely the sort of rundown we saw in November 1969, May 1974, December 1979, October 1989, November 2000 and May 2007.
Each one of these periods presaged a recession just a few months later — the average being five months....

Private service sector job gains have throttled back big-time — from +222,000 in February to +167,000 in March to 130,000 in April to +25,000 in May (ratified by the non-manufacturing ISM as the jobs index sagged to 49.7 in May from 53 in April — tied for the second weakest reading of the past five years).
Once again, a discernible pattern here, but it is where the slowdown is taking place that is most disturbing.
More than one-third of the weakening we saw in the private services sector came in temp-agency employment where employment shrunk 21,000 in May, down now in four of the past five months and by a cumulative 64,000, which is a losing streak we have not seen since August 2009.
In fact, this type of weakness over such a stretch, again not to sound like an alarmist, occurred just prior to economic recessions in the past, without exception and with no “head fakes”.
Yes, it typically is not good news when the headhunters are the ones to start chopping off heads — this is a leading indicator. So I may not want to sound alarmist, but the answer is yes … I am worried

3--‘US working on behalf of Al-Nusra terrorists in Syria’

RT: The US asked Russia not to bomb Al-Nusra. Does that seem like a strange request?
Karen Kwiatkowski: It does, considering Al-Nusra is still on the terrorist watch list and has been since 2012, as I understand it. So it is a very obvious case of the US working on behalf of a terrorist group that the US itself has recognized. It is not a very clear policy. Very confusing.

4--‘Snowden changed the course of history’

RT: As much as the current administration harps on being transparent, we know that Obama administration prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president in US history. The most recent memory that we have is Thomas Drake and Chelsea Manning. Looking ahead, do you see this trend changing in these final months in the Obama administration?

5--More hypocrisy from washington

"The refusal of the US, France, Britain and Ukraine in the UN Security Council to list Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam as terrorist organizations proves that those countries continue their double standard policy in fighting terrorism and shows their irresponsible attitude to the issue," the document read....

Jaysh al-Islam is one of the most power factions within the Syrian opposition. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly opposed the participation of Jaysh al-Islam members in the negotiations.

The group has been accused of attacking the Syrian Army and government facilities as well as of using terrorist tactics. It has been part of the so-called pro-Western Syrian opposition, backed by the US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Ahrar ash-Sham is a coalition of multiple Islamist units fighting against the government of Bashar Assad. It is one of the largest Syrian rebel groups. The group, along with Jaysh al-Islam, is one of the main rebel groups supported by Ankara and Riyadh. It is also openly allied with al-Nusra Front

6--US economy adds fewest jobs in five years

7--Russia Pounds the Achilles’ Heel of America’s ISIS War

“The opposition does not have enough military capability to preclude defeat. In the absence of that, they have chosen an alliance with Nusra. An alliance does not equal shared objectives or ideology for most groups,” Cafarella asserted...

Last month, before the latest assault, Secretary of State John Kerry called for rebels to distance themselves “physically and politically” from Nusra. A month earlier, U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Michael Ratney issued a statement urging the opposition to dissociate from terror groups.
It didn’t happen. Last week, Russia claimed they were pausing for a day for rebels to relocate from Nusra. Russia then ramped up its attacks on both rebels and Nusra.
The Russians claim that as opposition areas shrink, rebel forces are increasingly moving toward Nusra-held areas, making it difficult to distinguish between rebels and terrorists.

8--Syria: The U.S. Is Unwilling To Settle - Russia Returns For Another Round

The Obama administration does not want peace in Syria. The Russians finally have to admit to themselves that the U.S. is no partner for a continuation of a cease fire, a coordinated attack against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda and for peace in Syria. Indeed, as Lavrov explains, the U.S. has again asked to spare al-Qaeda from Russian air strikes even as two UN Security Council resolutions demand its eradication. Huge supply convoys (vid) from Turkey are again going to the "rebels" who will, as always, share them with al-Qaeda and other terrorists.
The current renewed Syrian Arab Army attack towards Raqqa is being obstructed not only by sandstorms but also by a timely attack of al-Qaeda, Ahrar al Sham and Turkestan Islamist Party forces against government positions in the south Aleppo countryside.
More than 1,000 militants have begun an offensive against Syrian army positions southwest of Aleppo, the Russian ceasefire monitoring center in Syria said in a statement on Saturday. The center also reported civilians in Aleppo as saying armed groups partly made up of Turkish soldiers had appeared north of the city....

Russian airstrikes against terrorists in Syria have tripled over the last days. Additional resources have been silently dispatched:
Without stirring a buzz similar to that of their first military intervention in Syria, the Russians this week disembarked ground forces and paratroopers in the port of Tartus to support more than 3,000 Russian volunteers dispatched to the region in the past few weeks, in a bid to revive coordination with the Syrian army.
Syrian sources stated that the Russian joint command staff, which coordinated aerial support operations last fall, had returned to the Hmeimim military base in Latakia province to begin preparations for new operations.
One can only hope that the Russian leadership has learned its lesson. That it will not stop to pursue the enemy for no political gain when it is again, as it likely will soon be, on the run

9---Putin in Syria: The long view

 When Russia pulled back some of its military support for the Assad government earlier this year, anticipating that Iran would be able to fill that vacuum, it proved not to be the case.  Russia is now quietly back in Syria on a scale equal to the peak of the late 2015 intervention.

It may be fairly debated whether the broader calculations--NATO's pending deployments along the Russian western front, the emerging splits in Europe, the opportunities in Asia--warrant holding back from an all-out decisive offensive in Syria.  But it is clearly the case that there are global strategic factors that are in play.  Putin is taking the long view and the global view of how Russia can best manage a dangerous and unpredictable world disorder 

10--Charts: What's the real unemployment rate?

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