Friday, September 30, 2016

Today's Links

Today's quote: "With its editorial denunciation of Russia as an “outlaw state,” the New York Times is effectively weighing in on the debate within America ruling circles over the US intervention in Syria. It wants a military escalation and it wants it now—against Russia." WSWS

1--I’m in Awe of How Fast Deutsche Bank is Falling Apart

The impending bailout

2--Economist magazine warns of revolutionary consequences of unprecedented corporate power

Today, ten percent of the world’s companies generate 80 percent of the world’s profits. Firms whose annual revenue exceeds $1 billion account for 60 percent of all global revenue and 65 percent of global market capitalization.

Fueling this has been a surge in mergers and acquisitions, particularly since the financial crash of 2008. In 1990, there were 11,500 mergers and acquisitions, valued at 2 percent of global GDP. Since 2008, there have been an average of 30,000 mergers and acquisitions per year. The total value of these relative to global GDP has increased by about 50 percent and now equals 3 percent of world economic output.

This new wave of corporate monopolization comes amidst stagnation in the global economy. It is only firms with huge pools of capital that are able to compete in times of stagnation and slump...

these companies are spending unprecedented amounts of money on lobbyists. There are 37,700 lobbying groups in Washington, D.C. and 70 percent of them are companies. The average spending per lobbyist nearly doubled between 1998 and 2012.
The report cites a finding from Brown University showing that the pharmaceutical industry spent $130 million, a record amount, in getting a 2003 revision of Medicare passed. The revision netted the pharmaceutical corporations $242 billion.

In the EU, lobbying has also ballooned. Brussels is estimated to be home to at least 30,000 lobbyist groups.
In this regard, the report mentions the infamous revolving door. It is no secret that those who staff government offices, particularly regulatory boards, routinely move to top positions in corporate law firms and businesses. The report, for example, mentions Jose Manuel Barroso, former president of the European Commission, now a banker at Goldman Sachs.

The report concludes with a boilerplate call to regulate the excess of these monopolies and reign in the worst parts of their practice. The author notes with worry that “over 70 percent of America’s population believes that the economy is rigged in favor of vested interests.”

The reality is that this phenomenon is intrinsic to capitalism. The profit system drives towards monopoly and financialization. As Lenin explained 100 years ago, the growing power of just a handful of capitalists creates an ever more intimate bond between bourgeois politicians and big business.

3--Trump is right about the Fed

Mr. Trump argued that an increasingly “political” Fed is holding interest rates low to help Democrats in November, driving up a “big, fat, ugly bubble” that will pop when the central bank raises rates. This riff has some truth to it.

Leave the conspiracy theory aside and look at the facts: Since the Fed began aggressive monetary easing in 2008, my calculations show that nearly 60% of stock market gains have come on those days, once every six weeks, that the Federal Open Market Committee announces its policy decisions.
Put another way, the S&P 500 index has gained 699 points since January 2008, and 422 of those points came on the 70 Fed announcement days. The average gain on announcement days was 0.49%, or roughly 50 times higher than the average gain of 0.01% on other days....

Whether this is a “big, fat, ugly bubble” depends on how one defines a bubble. But a composite index for stocks, bonds and homes shows that their combined valuations have never been higher in 50 years. Housing prices have been rising faster than incomes, putting a first home out of reach for many Americans.....

Mr. Trump was also right that despite the Fed’s efforts, the U.S. has experienced “the worst revival of an economy since the Great Depression.” The economy’s growth rate is well below its precrisis norm, and the benefits have been slow to reach the middle class and Main Street. Much of the Fed’s easy money has gone into financial engineering, as companies borrow billions of dollars to buy back their own stock. Corporate debt as a share of GDP has risen to match the highs hit before the 2008 crisis.
That kind of finance does more to increase asset prices than to help the middle class. Since the rich own more assets, they gain the most. In this way the Fed’s policies have fueled a sharp rise in wealth inequality world-wide—and a boom in the global population of billionaires.

4--"Moderates" merged with al Qaida in Syria

The two powers have been considering jointly targeting Islamic State and the Syria Conquest Front—formerly known as the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front—a group that is deeply intermingled with armed opposition groups of all stripes across Syria’s battlefields. The U.S. has also threatened to attack any rebels providing front-line support to the group...

In a call with Mr. Kerry on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Syrian rebels “refused to follow the U.S.-Russian agreement…but instead merged with [Nusra Front].”...

U .S. officials say the collapse of the truce and the offensive that followed have renewed an internal debate in Washington over whether to give rebels more firepower to fend off a stepped-up Russian and Syrian assault on their Aleppo stronghold. The renewed debate on a so-called Plan B centers on whether to authorize the CIA and its partners in the region to deliver weapons systems that would enable vetted rebel units to strike Syrian and Russian artillery positions from longer distances....

Syria Conquest Front rebranded itself in July, when it renounced its al Qaeda ties and changed its name from Nusra Front. But U.S. officials and even some opposition members doubt it has cut its al Qaeda links. And many rebels, already exhausted battling the regime and Islamic State, are hesitant to open a third front. ...

The opposition is doubly skeptical as the U.S. has walked back on its demands that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad resign as a precondition to peace talks and a political deal to end the war, now in its sixth year

5--Russian FM spox: US talk of ‘attacks in Russia, body bags, downing jets’ sounds like ‘get ’em’ call

Russian FM Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hit back at her US counterpart John Kirby, who warned that terrorist attacks may take place in Russia if the civil war continues in Syria. His remark sounds like a call to “get ’em,” she noted.
“Extremist groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria to expand their operations, which could include attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities. Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags, and will continue to lose resources, perhaps even aircraft,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at Wednesday’s press briefing, adding that if the war in Syria continues “more Russian lives will be lost, more Russian aircraft will be shot down.”

Kirby’s words didn’t go unnoticed by the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
“And those [acts of terrorism] will be perpetrated by ‘moderate’ [Syrian opposition groups]?” Zakharova asked in her Facebook post. “Just the ones that Washington has been unable to separate from Al-Nusra for as long as six months?”
“[What about] Terrorist attacks in France, America and other countries; the beheadings of people of all nationalities by Islamic State militants in Syria – is this all kind of a different paradigm? Perhaps another ‘parallel reality?

Don’t you think that such ventriloquism about ‘body bags,’ ‘terrorist attacks in Russian cities’ and ‘loss of aircraft,’ sounds more like a ‘get ’em’ command, rather than a diplomatic comment?” Zakharova concluded

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Thursday that the US statements on the suspension of cooperation with Russia on Syria amount to blackmail.
“It’s a policy of threats and blackmail, aimed at imposing solutions favorable to US and its clients,” Ryabkov told RIA Novosti. “It’s impossible to reach a settlement and stabilization on such basis. But there’s no winning love by force. We have our own approach and principles,” he added

6-- An admission that Washington fuels global terror?  Russian MOD responds to US threatening its servicemembers in Syria

Russian Federation Ministry of Defense (MOD) could not leave without comment the shocking statement by US State Department spokesman John Kirby. During a briefing, he plainly predicted Russian cities would be attacked by terrorists. According to the US official, if the war in Syria continues, terrorists will start launching attacks on Russian cities, and Russia will send its troops home “in body bags”, and “continue to lose assets and, possibly, aircraft.”

The Russian MOD interpreted such statements as US admission that the “opposition” supposedly waging a “civil war” in Syria is in reality a US-controlled terrorist “internationale.” What is particularly shocking in Kirby’s admission, according to Russian MOD official representative, Major General Igor Konashenkov, that the US direct influence over terrorists is global in scope and extends to Russia, among others.
“Concerning Kirby’s threat concerning possible loss of Russian aircraft and sending Russian soldiers home ‘in body bags’, I will say that we are well informed on where in Syria, including in Aleppo Province, and exactly how many ‘unadvertised’ specialists are engaged in operational planning and commanding the militants.” Konashenkov added: “Naturally, one can continue to keep telling us they are stubbornly but ineffectually trying to separate Jabhat al-Nusra from the ‘opposition’. However, if there are attempts to make good on these threats, it is far from a foregone conclusion the militants will be able to help them save their skins.”

7-- Obama Administration Threatens to Suspend Talks With Russia on Syria, Considers Weaponry for Syrian Rebels

The renewed debate on what is referred to within the administration as Plan B, according to U.S. officials, centers on whether to authorize the Central Intelligence Agency and its partners in the region to deliver weapons systems that would enable CIA-vetted rebel units to strike Syrian and Russian artillery positions from longer distances

The Obama administration has ruled out providing so-called man-portable air-defense systems, known as Manpads, to the rebels, but officials said they are considering arming them with antiaircraft systems that are less mobile and would pose less of a proliferation risk.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that the Obama administration was discussing options to address the conflict “that are outside diplomacy,” but declined to provide specifics...

In addition to the CIA and its partners providing weapons, the U.S. is considering giving a green light to its regional allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to provide more-powerful weapons systems to the rebels....

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that President Barack Obama’s top military and intelligence advisers were pressing the White House to come up with an alternative plan to help the rebels better fend off the Russians and Syrians. The covert CIA program to arm the rebels began in 2013, entailing aid to groups of rebels examined and approved by U.S. officials.

The leading advocates within the Obama administration for providing more firepower to the rebels to counter Russia have been CIA Director John Brennan and Defense Secretary Ash Carter. The White House and Mr. Kerry backed negotiations with the Russians instead. The White House has been wary of deepening a proxy fight with Moscow that could suck Washington further into the conflict.
The U.S. ultimatum Wednesday was Washington’s strongest statement about the simmering dispute between the two powers related to the collapse of the cease-fir...

The secretary made clear that the United States and its partners hold Russia responsible for this situation, ...

Mr. Kirby said the U.S. hopes that the incentive of closer military cooperation with the U.S. as well as rising costs to the Russian military as the conflict in Syria drags on could alter Russia’s course.
“Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags and they will continue to lose resources, even perhaps more aircraft,” Mr. Kirby said.

8--The consequences are that the civil war will continue in Syria,

that extremists and extremists groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria to expand their operations, which will include, no question, attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities, and Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags, and they will continue to lose resources — even, perhaps, more aircraft," US State Department spokesperson underscored.

9--Yellen Says Fed Buying Stocks Is "A Good Thing To Think About" And Could Help In A Downturn

The idea of expanding into areas like equities might be “good thing to think about,” yet is not “something we need now,” Yellen said, noting that (for now) The Fed is more restricted in which assets it can purchase than other central banks.


"If we found, I think as other countries did, that they could reach the limits in terms of purchasing safe assets like longer-term government bonds, it could be useful to be able to intervene directly in assets where the prices have a more direct link to spending decisions."

10--U.S. Second-Quarter GDP Revised Up to 1.4% Gain--Latest data confirms expansion decelerated in first half of the year

The latest projections came after the government released its latest gauge of second-quarter gross domestic product on Thursday, showing growth at a 1.4% inflation-adjusted annual rate after the first quarter’s 0.8% pace.

Despite the better reading, the growth rate for the first half of the year is just above 1%. That is a sharp slowdown from the expansion’s 2.1% average annual rate, which itself is the weakest of any period of growth since 1949.

11-- Summers says Fed should buy stocks

12--US deploys troops near Aleppo

13--Russia warns US over recent threats

14--US warning to Russia ‘unprofessional, threatening, tactless & undiplomatic' - fmr. British diplomat

15--New York Times brands Russia an “outlaw state”

With its editorial denunciation of Russia as an “outlaw state,” the New York Times is effectively weighing in on the debate within America ruling circles over the US intervention in Syria. It wants a military escalation and it wants it now—against Russia...

The significance of this threat was further spelled out in a press briefing by State Department spokesman John Kirby, who told reporters that as a consequence of Russia failing to bow to US demands, “extremists and extremist groups will continue to…expand their operations, which will include, no question, attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities, and Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags, and they will continue to lose resources—even, perhaps, more aircraft.”

The provocative and utterly reckless character of Kirby’s remarks was no accident. That Washington intended to communicate a threat to unleash CIA-sponsored terrorism against Russia was underscored by a Washington Post column by Philip Gordon, who until last year was the White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf. The piece, which warned in its headline that “Russia will pay the price,” used almost identical language, stating that continued Russian action in Syria “could very well result in terrorist attacks against Russia.”...

The term “outlaw state” was first put into official use by Ronald Reagan. It was later rendered as “rogue state” under Bill Clinton and, then, under George W. Bush, became the “axis of evil.” Invariably, these terms were used to describe oppressed, semi-colonial countries targeted by US imperialism for war and conquest: Nicaragua, Grenada, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, North Korea, Iran, etc.
Now, in the pages of the New York Times, the term is used to describe Russia, a country of 146 million people armed with nuclear weapons. The implications could not be more ominous

16--NY Times editors lead the charge to war....again

President Vladimir Putin is fast turning Russia into an outlaw nation. As one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, his country shares a special responsibility to uphold international law. Yet, his behavior in Ukraine and Syria violates not only the rules intended to promote peace instead of conflict, but also common human decency.

17--The end of the Market economy? Santelli: Yellen thinking of fixing prices buy propping up stocks

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Today's Links

Today's quote:  "The Syrian war, which is now more than five years old and has claimed the lives of close to half a million Syrians, was fomented by Washington and its allies, including by directly supporting Islamist extremists, to topple the Assad regime and install a pro-Western puppet in Damascus. This was part of the US’ broader agenda of securing its unchallenged geopolitical dominance over the energy-rich Middle East and Central Asia against its principal rivals, Russia and China—an agenda which has seen Washington wage one war after another for the past quarter century." Jordan Shilton, WSWS

'Do You Realize What You've Done?' Vladimir Putin

..1--Grocery prices are plunging

2--IMF warns central banks could lose deflation fight (Maybe they should have mentioned that inflation targets have not been achieved anywhere where central bank easing policies have been implemented)

The IMF called that "a reason for concern if the undershooting of inflation targets persists."
Still optimistic, the IMF report said the "most likely outcome" of central bank policies is a gradual uptick in inflation.

Eventually, 'persistent' disinflation can lead to costly deflationary cycles -— as we have seen in Japan –- where weak demand and deflation reinforce each other, and end up increasing debt burdens and hindering economic activity and job creation."

Part of the problem is about perceptions -- if people expect that inflation is going to slow whatever the central banks do, it further undermines the effectiveness of monetary policy.
The IMF said there are some signs of that problem: central banks in advanced countries are now "increasingly perceived" to lack much policy scope to reverse disinflation.

3--The Man who sold Greece-- Greece approves plan to transfer state utilities to new asset fund

State assets, including water and electricity utilities, are to be transferred to a new asset fund created by international creditors. The plans have sparked demonstrations and public sector strikes across the country

4---Disturbing Facts About The Fed's Phony Housing "Recovery"

If monetary policy were helping the housing market, the rate of homeownership should be at least stable. Instead, as mortgage rates have been consistently suppressed since 2007, homeownership has fallen concurrently.

The problem is that as the Fed and its cohort central banks have been busy pushing down long term interest rates, that has pushed house prices up so fast that there has been no increase in affordability.....

The argument that the Fed policy of ZIRP and suppression of long term interest rates through QE bond purchases has stimulated housing simply does not hold water. It has stimulated house price inflation, and that price inflation has fully offset the cost-reduction effect of the interest subsidy to home borrowers. At the same time Fed policy has cost millions of savers trillions in interest income that could have boosted not only consumption,  but also cash available for down payments on home purchases. The idea that low interest rates stimulate the economy by stimulating housing is The Big Lie.

The Fed has created a situation where the housing industry is so dependant on the massive interest rate subsidy that any uptick in rates is likely to cause a cataclysm. The Fed and its cohorts are responsible for this mess. They have left themselves, and us, with no way out.

5--Desperate Central Bankers

The Fed hasn’t fared much better. Real GDP growth in the US has averaged only 2.1% in the 28 quarters since the Great Recession ended in the third quarter of 2009 – barely half the 4% average pace in comparable periods of earlier upturns.
As in Japan, America’s subpar recovery has been largely unresponsive to the Fed’s aggressive strain of unconventional stimulus – zero interest rates, three doses of balance-sheet expansion (QE1, QE2, and QE3), and a yield curve twist operation that seems to be the antecedent of the BOJ’s latest move...

While financial markets love any form of monetary accommodation, there can be no mistaking its dark side. Asset prices are being manipulated across the board – stocks and bonds, long- and short-duration assets, as well as currencies. As a result, savers are being punished, the cost of capital is repressed, and reckless risk taking is being encouraged in an income-constrained climate. This is especially treacherous terrain for economies desperately in need of productivity-enhancing investment. And it is not dissimilar to the environment of asset-based excess that incubated the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

Moreover, frothy asset markets in an era of extreme monetary accommodation take the pressure off fiscal authorities to act. Failing to heed one of the most powerful (yes, Keynesian) lessons of the 1930s – that fiscal policy is the only way out of a liquidity trap – could be the greatest tragedy of all. Central bankers desperately want the public to believe that they know what they are doing. Nothing could be further from the truth

6--Russia warns US over recent threats

Russia is ready to continue a dialogue with the US on joint action in Syria, but even hints at threats must be ruled out, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday.
"We once again state that we are fully ready for continuing a dialogue with the American side and for continuing work on joint measures in fight against terrorists in Syria," he said.

"However, even signs of threats to our military and Russian nationals must be ruled out in this dialogue. There will be no bargaining in the issues of ensuring the safety of Russian nationals no matter where they stay. This is our main and overriding priority," Konashenkov said.

7--US arming Nusra in Syria: Lavrov

8--'Aleppo must not fall': US allies to flood city with anti-aircraft missiles

The Reuters news agency this week reported anonymous US officials as saying that the recent intense bombardment of Syria's second city had "heightened" the possibility of the Obama administration lifting a long-held ban by allowing Qatar and Saudi Arabia to arm rebels with man-portable missiles.
A source on Tuesday told Middle East Eye that the US had confirmed it would allow the two Gulf states to begin shipments.

"The US confirmed the green light to begin sending them to rebels through supply routes still open through Jordan and Turkey," the source said. "Rebels are being told only to target Syrian helicopters, not Russian - but it's not clear they will abide by this.
"The US won't let Aleppo fall. We can expect to see Syrian helicopters falling from the sky within weeks."...

US reportedly reverses policy to allow shipments of man-portable systems to Syria, in response to intense bombardment of city...

On Wednesday, the US state department warned Russia it was considering the suspension of "bilateral engagement" in Syria, "unless Russia takes immediate steps to end the assault on Aleppo and restore the cessation of hostilities

9--US threatens Russia with end to cooperation in Syria as fighting rages in Aleppo

The Syrian civil war, which is now more than five years old and has claimed the lives of close to half a million Syrians, was fomented by Washington and its allies, including by directly supporting Islamist extremists, to topple the Assad regime and install a pro-Western puppet in Damascus. This was part of the US’ broader agenda of securing its unchallenged geopolitical dominance over the energy-rich Middle East and Central Asia against its principal rivals, Russia and China—an agenda which has seen Washington wage one war after another for the past quarter century....

Significant sections of the political and military establishment in the US are prepared to risk all-out war with Russia in pursuit of their reckless plans for global hegemony, as indicated by the comments last week of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford. Dunford told Congress that controlling air space over Syria would require war with Russia....

Kirby added menacingly, “Extremist groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria to expand their operations, which could include attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities. Russia will continue to send people home in body bags, and will continue to lose resources, perhaps even aircraft.”
This comment, together with a statement by the State Department that “non-diplomatic” options had been considered to end the fighting in Aleppo, has very ominous implications. US imperialism has a long record of collaboration with Islamist terrorists stretching back to the 1980s in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion.
The US attempt to pose as a defender of the human rights of Syrians against Russian aggression and the September 9 ceasefire agreement is utterly cynical. The Obama administration used the peace deal to give the beleaguered opposition forces some respite and prepare a major escalation of the conflict. On September 17, the US air force targeted a Syrian army outpost near Deir ez-Zor, killing at least 60 soldiers, injuring more than 100 and enabling Islamic State fighters to seize the position. There are also widespread reports that the opposition forces, including the al-Nusra Front, were rearmed during the truce...

Over recent days, more information has come to light about the close relations between the US and its allies, and al-Nusra. German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer conducted an interview in Aleppo with an al-Nusra commander, Abu Al Ezz, who stated that his organization was receiving US weapons through third countries. The commander went on to allege that “experts” from a number of countries, including the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Qatar, had been present in Syria to train al-Nusra fighters in the use of weaponry such as missile launchers.

10-- US Warns Moscow from Further Operation in Syria: “More Russian Aircraft Will Be Shot Down”  (US threatens Putin. Putin yawns)

11--Syrian War Report – September 29, 2016: US Deploys Troops near Aleppo City

US troops have entered the Syrian towns of Marea and Azaz located north of Aleppo city, Lebanese Al Mayadeen channel reported. The US servicemen are embedded with ‘moderate rebels’ from the FSA and are going to prepare the US-backed advance on ISIS in the area.

The appearance of US servicemen caused tensions between Jabhat Fatah al- and the FSA. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham militants called for “a fight with the Americans” and burnt several FSA flags. Some pro-government experts believe that the deployment of US servicemen in Marea and Azaz are not linked with the fight against ISIS and is likely the move in order to strengthen the US influence in the area of strategic Aleppo city where the Syrian government forces have recently launched a full-scale advance against terrorists

12--Notes and Links

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Thursday that the US statements on the suspension of cooperation with Russia on Syria amount to blackmail.
“It’s a policy of threats and blackmail, aimed at imposing solutions favorable to US and its clients,” Ryabkov told RIA Novosti. “It’s impossible to reach a settlement and stabilization on such basis. But there’s no winning love by force. We have our own approach and principles,” he added.

"However, even signs of threats to our military and Russian nationals must be ruled out in this dialogue. There will be no bargaining in the issues of ensuring the safety of Russian nationals no matter where they stay. This is our main and overriding priority," Konashenkov said.

On Wednesday, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said one of the consequences of the war in Syria could be extremists’ "attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities." "And Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags," he said.

According to Konashenkov, US Department of State spokesman John Kirby’s statement is tantamount to recognition the Syrian opposition is in fact a US-controlled international terrorist alliance.
"Rear admiral turned Department of State spokesman John Kirby, I am certain, is well aware of the after-effects of his statement. His words are the most frank confession by the US side so far the whole ‘opposition’ ostensibly fighting a civil war in Syria is a US-controlled international terrorist alliance," Konashenkov said.
"What makes Kirby’s statement particularly shocking is that the scale of direct US influence on terrorists’ activity is global. That it reaches as far as Russia. The mask comes off, doesn’t it, sirs?" Konashenkov asked.

US troops have entered the Syrian towns of Marea and Azaz located north of Aleppo city, Lebanese Al Mayadeen channel reported. The US servicemen are embedded with ‘moderate rebels’ from the FSA and are going to prepare the US-backed advance on ISIS in the area.
The appearance of US servicemen caused tensions between Jabhat Fatah al- and the FSA. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham militants called for “a fight with the Americans” and burnt several FSA flags. Some pro-government experts believe that the deployment of US servicemen in Marea and Azaz are not linked with the fight against ISIS and is likely the move in order to strengthen the US influence in the area of strategic Aleppo city where the Syrian government forces have recently launched a full-scale advance against terrorists

John Kirby, the State Department's spokesperson: “...more Russian lives will be lost, more Russian aircraft will be shot down.." "
"Foreign Minister Lavrov told Kerry that many US-backed groups are working side by side with the Al-Qaeda affiliate, and brought up media reports that Nusra was receiving weapons from the US. During the press briefing, Kirby said the US had “influence over some of the [rebel] groups but not all."
servicemen dropping acid at nuclear weapons facility.

”. Already the ancient Romans knew that “si vis pacem, para bellum”–if you wish peace, prepare for war....

The current predatory model of capitalism that the West is pursuing means the West’s priorities at the moment are quite incompatible with that of Russia. . Western regime change policies are driven by economic imperialism, pure and simple, though nicely disguised as “globalization”. It is simply colonialism through indirect, local rule, whose aim is to yield economic benefits to the Western powers at the expense of the “neo-colonies”. It means that, fortunately, Western powers are leery of another prolonged “cold war” because of the sheer expense that would be associated with it. Therefore if Russia is to persuade the West that “armed neutrality” is actually desirable, it has to show the ability to engage in a prolonged “cold war” and even a “shooting war” if need be, while at the same time demonstrating its resilience against “color revolutions....
. For that reason, one should not expect anything better than Russia-NATO “armed neutrality” for many years to come, until the West adopts a more sustainable economic model that is not dependent on constant aggression.

On September 28, the Syrian army, the National Defense Forces (NDF), Hezbollah and Liwaa Al-Quds (a Paletsinian pro-government militia), supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Arab Air Force, officially launched a full-scale military operation in order to liberate the militant-controlled eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo city....
Amid clashes in Aleppo, Moscow confirmed that it will continue to support efforts of the Syrian government against terrorists despite the displeasure of the United States by these actions. In turn, Washington de-facto announced that some MANPADs may be supplied to the so-called “Syrian opposition” (Jabhat al-Nusra & co

Read more:
"We've come to a point in this craziness, in this New Cold War with Russia where DOD is openly saying it may or may not obey President Obama. If DOD will say that publicly you can imagine the opposition in Washington against the Syrian deal, [US Secretary of State John] Kerry brokered with Russian Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov," Professor Cohen highlighted

No accident": Lavrov

Speaking about the US airstrike on Syrian armed forces near Deir ez-Zor, that left 62 troops dead and over 100 injured, Lavrov cast doubt on Washington’s assurance that the Syrian government positions were targeted purely by mistake.
It is “very hard to believe that reconnaissance officers of the US-founded coalition that is fighting Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS] on the whole Syrian territory could forget about who is located where,” he said.
UN warns next global financial crisis may include huge debt defaults

If the global economy enters a new economic crisis it may lead to epic debt defaults, according to trade economists at the United Nations.
“As capital begins to flow out, there is now a real danger of entering a third phase of the financial crisis which began in the United States housing market in late 2007 before spreading to the European sovereign bond market,” the annual report of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Alarm bells have been ringing over the explosion of corporate debt levels in emerging economies, which now exceed $25 trillion. Damaging deflationary spirals cannot be ruled out,” the report says. Under the conditions of slowing global GDP the debt is likely not to be redeemed.
At the same time, many corporations in emerging countries started the process of rewarding shareholders with stock buybacks and dividend payouts instead of investing into production capacity, according to the analysts..

No-fly zone would ‘require war with Syria and Russia’ – top US general
The latest proposal by Secretary of State John Kerry involves grounding only Syrian and Russian airplanes, Carter told Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire).
“There can be no question of grounding US aircraft” over Syria, he said, adding that US jets conduct their strikes “with exceptional precision… that no other country can match.”
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) asked about what it would take for the US to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, using the phrase “control the airspace.”
Right now… for us to control all of the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia,” Dunford replied, drawing a rebuke from committee chairman John McCain (R-Arizona), who argued a no-fly zone was possible without war.

The Obama administration has been supporting "moderate" terrorists in Syria five years which has led to 400,000 deaths, 7 million internally-displaced or refugees, and the utter destruction of the civilian infrastructure. Now, all of a sudden, the administration is pushing hard for humanitarian relief for struggling civilians still living in Aleppo. Now, all of a sudden, Washington cares about the little people who are the unwitting victims of its perfidious regime change operation.

Why? Why this sudden change of heart. Why this sudden interest for the people living in a country the US has already largely destroyed?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Today's links

Today's Quote:  “We are in a big fat ugly bubble that’s going to come crashing down as soon the Fed raises interest rates." Donald Trump, presidential debates

“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.” Napoleon

1--Trump zeros in on the Fed

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump redoubled his attack on the Federal Reserve and its chairwoman, Janet Yellen, accusing the central bank of “doing political things” by keeping interest rates low.
“When they raise interest rates, you’re going to see some very bad things happen, because they’re not doing their job,” Mr. Trump said during a debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, accusing the Federal Reserve of being “more political” than his rival...

Ms. Yellen last week denied that the Fed takes politics into account in its decision making. “I can say, emphatically, that partisan politics plays no role in our decisions about the appropriate stance of monetary policy,” she said during a press conference after the Fed’s policy meeting, at which it decided to leave rates unchanged

2--The vultures are circling Deutsche Bank

As the British Daily Telegraph commented, if the German government does not stand behind the bank, then other banks and financial institutions will start to be very nervous in dealing with it. “As we know from 2008, once confidence starts to evaporate, a bank is in big, big trouble” and “if Deutsche goes down, it is looking increasingly likely that it will take Merkel with it – and quite possibly the euro as well.”...

The crisis over Deutsche Bank points to two interconnected processes. First, far from having been resolved, all the contradictions of the global financial system that exploded eight years ago not only remain, but have worsened. Second, that despite all rhetoric about cooperation and collaboration issuing from major economic summit meetings of world leaders, the global economy and financial system is increasingly becoming a battleground of each nation against all.

3--Monetary policy isn't working, and central bankers are getting desperate

Monetary policy is out of bullets

But then economists take it a step further and say that when the central bank lowers or raises interest rates, it raises or lowers demand for borrowing for investment by firms. But this simply isn’t true. There is no empirical evidence that lower rates spur capital investment. Even studies by the Federal Reserve note this fact. In fact, as former UBS chief economist George Magnus recently pointed out regarding the Bank of Japan, what really happens with investment as central banks lower rates is that it creates a skew toward high risk investment due to investor’s search for higher yield. It’s not more investment that we see, but skewed investment toward projects with longer lead times and higher risk. As George puts it, “zombie companies are kept alive perpetuating a misallocation of capital, and retarding new investment opportunities” (underlining for emphasis added). ...

Negative interest rate policy is based on the flawed assumption that banks are reserve constrained when they’re not. Nowhere where they have been implemented have negative interest rates resulted in increased lending. They are a tax. And as time goes on, this tax is likely to be passed on to bank customers, reducing aggregate demand.

Finally, there’s the higher inflation target the Bank of Japan has just set. This won’t work either. Just because the Bank of Japan says it is willing to accept higher inflation doesn’t mean they will get higher inflation. And higher inflation doesn’t mean higher real GDP growth, it could just mean an erosion of purchasing power, which would cause people to retrench....

My view is that in the absence of increases in median wages in advanced economies, we are unlikely to see a meaningful and durable increase in growth in those economies. And the result is going to be not just low short-term interest rates, but low long-term interest rates. When recession hits, yield curves will flatten instead of steepen, since we are at the zero lower bound. And the full measure of loan loss distress will come to bear on bank balance sheets, restricting credit and deepening the downturn. At that point, we will just have to see when and whether we get a fiscal response and how effective that response is. Monetary policy is out of bullets.

4--When America Was 'Great,' Taxes Were High, Unions Were Strong, and Government Was Big

5--MANPADS?  Wealthy Gulf states may arm Syrian rebels to ‘get the Russians to back off’ - US officials

6--Yellen can't figure out why capital investment is tanking

“Investment spending really has been quite weak for some time and we are really not certain exactly what is causing that. Part of it of course has been the huge contraction in drilling activity associated with falling oil prices, but the weakness in investment spending extends beyond that sector and I’m not certain of exactly what explains that … I’m not aware of evidence that suggests that it’s political uncertainty.” “Since monetary policy is only modestly accommodative, there appears little risk of falling behind the curve in the near future, and gradual increases in the federal funds rate will likely be sufficient to get to a neutral policy stance over the next few years.

7--Billions Down the Afghan Drain

There is no criticism by the NYT of Washington’s crass incompetence over fifteen years of futile and poorly-directed military operations, or mention of the fact that 2,384 members of the US forces and 1,136 “Coalition” troops died in Afghanistan. In its single use of the word ‘corrupt’ it observes that “The Afghan government remains weak, corrupt and roiled by internal rivalries. The casualty rate for Afghan troops is unsustainable. The economy is in shambles. Resurgent Taliban forces are gaining ground in rural areas and are carrying out barbaric attacks in the heart of Kabul, the capital.” But that’s nothing new. We’ve known for many years that the US-NATO war in Afghanistan was a lost cause. (The NYT doesn’t mention NATO, either, which is extraordinary.)...

It ignored the SIGAR’s report which records that over the years, among other things: US money flowed to the insurgency via corruption; the Afghan government was so deeply enmeshed in corrupt and criminal networks that dismantling them would mean dismantling major pillars of support for the government itself; the United States collaborated with abusive and corrupt warlords, militias, and other powerbrokers who “gained positions of authority in the Afghan government, which further enabled them to dip their hands into the streams of cash pouring into a small and fragile economy;” and, damningly, “People turned to the Taliban as a way of expressing opposition to the government.”

What the New York Times calls the “Afghan War Quagmire” has been caused by the US government and its NATO allies. The US Pentagon has been criminal in its incompetence. The dead soldiers of US-NATO forces gave their lives for nothing. Yet, in addition to Washington pouring its taxpayers’ money down the Afghan drain, the US-NATO military alliance has pledged “to help fund Afghan security forces to the tune of around $1 billion annually over the next three years

8--US Coalition knew they were bombing the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor

A senior officer from the Syrian Arab Army's 123 Regiment told Al-Masdar on Tuesday morning that his unit was among the government forces targeted by the U.S. Coalition in Deir Ezzor earlier this month.

The senior officer, who asked Al-Masdar to keep his name anonymous, stated that prior to the airstrikes, the U.S. Coalition had flown several reconnaissance drones above their positions at Jabal Thardeh.

When asked how he knew they were American drones, the senior officer answered that their Russian military advisors had corresponded with the U.S. Coalition prior to the commencement of the reconnaissance mission.

9--US strikes Deir Ezzor for the 2nd time this month

10--Russian Foreign Ministry: Aleppo to Be Liberated with Assistance of Russian Aerospace Forces

11--War Crimes digest: Dresden:

12-- Washington Unmasks Plans to Arm Syrian Militants With MANPADS to ‘Get the Russians to Back Off’

13--Clinton-Trump debate: A degrading spectacle

Trump is the personification of business gangsterism, a billionaire who built his fortune on swindles, bankruptcies, the theft of wages and deals with the Mafia. When Clinton charged him with profiteering from the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market, which touched off the 2008 financial collapse, he retorted, “That’s business.” When she accused him of paying no taxes on his vast fortune, he boasted, “That makes me smart.”

Clinton is the personification of political gangsterism, deeply implicated in the crimes of American capitalism over a quarter century, from the destruction of social welfare programs, to the criminalization of minority youth, to the launching of imperialist wars that have killed millions. At one point in the debate she declared that her strategy for defeating ISIS was focused on the assassination of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. She alluded to her role in “taking out” Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and said she would make such killings “an organizing principle” of her foreign policy.

14--Bank of Japan Tries Another Way to Spur Inflation--Central bank’s policy shift is an acknowledgment that it can’t sway consumer expectations with words

$4 trillion down the tubes!

The latest figures show core inflation in Japan—all prices minus fresh food—is running at minus 0.5%, far from Mr. Kuroda’s target of 2%.
Until last week, Mr. Kuroda’s primary method of influencing consumer expectations was by buying assets, mostly government bonds but also real estate and stock. Under Mr. Kuroda, Japan’s monetary base nearly tripled to ¥400 trillion, or roughly $4 trillion, to accommodate the vast asset purchases.

Japan’s central bank has accepted defeat on its fundamental strategy: influencing consumer expectations.
The Bank of Japan 8301 -9.66 % ’s policy shift last week shows the theory that has underpinned Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda’s 3½ years at the helm is untenable, officials say. Mr. Kuroda had theorized that by proclaiming a strong commitment to a 2% inflation target and channeling huge amounts of cash into the economy, he could quickly sway consumer and investor expectations. It was supposed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: Inflation would happen because people expected it to....

the goal is to jolt consumers and businesses out of their caution in a way that central bankers in Japan and Europe, for instance, haven’t been able to. (consumers will not borrow more during a downturn)

15--Japanese Banks: New Policy, Same Old Pain--Japanese banks may need a lot more help than the central bank is willing to give

The Bank of Japan 8301 -9.66 % has singled out the financial sector for help. The market doesn’t seem to be impressed—and for good reason.....

The BOJ did throw a bone at the banks through a less-noticed change to the central bank’s 5.7 trillion yen ($57 billion) a year exchange-traded fund purchases. The BOJ will buy 2.7 trillion yen of ETFs linked to the broad TOPIX index, and the rest will be split between ETFs linked to the TOPIX, Nikkei 225 and Nikkei 400 indexes. This skews the purchases in favor of the bank-heavy TOPIX. Bank stocks make up 8% of it, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and 1% of the Nikkei 225. This move lifts the stocks without alleviating deeper issues however.
With profitability withering away, Japanese banks may need a lot more help than the central bank is willing to give

16--Bank of Japan Confesses: Even We Don’t Trust the Bank of Japan-- Central bank acknowledges inflation expectations are little swayed by its 2% target

If a central bank without credibility makes a credible promise to run a non-credible policy, do the double negatives cancel out and create credibility?
Investors considering the Bank of Japan 8301 -9.66 % ’s latest policy maneuvers, unveiled last week, can be forgiven for shrugging their shoulders and reverting to what they know: If you’re worried or confused, buy the yen....

To the non-economist this probably won’t come as much of a surprise. Japan’s been living through deflation for two decades, with prices today still lower than they were in 1997, and year-on-year headline prices, which exclude fresh food, are falling again after a brief jolt upward from 2013-2015. Compare a generation of shopping knowledge against a promise of change by a government official, and life experience wins....

The BOJ said it plans to print money equivalent to 20% of the size of the economy in just over a year. That is as much as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s three bond-buying sprees put together. This expansion of the monetary base, it argues, will eventually make people believe in inflation, even though it hasn’t obviously achieved that so far. Quite how it is meant to work is left unclear.....

This isn’t to say the BOJ has entirely lost the trust of the markets, economists or the Japanese public. In a sense, the BoJ has the opposite problem. People have too much faith in the yen it issues, because they don’t believe it can successfully boost inflation. This is our world in 2016: A central bank needs credibility so it can damage its credibility.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Today's links

1--The Somali people didn't create Al Shabab - the U.N. did by starting a war that is still raging today, Thomas Mountain

The ongoing war in Somalia was started by the U.N. back in 2006 when the U.N. and A.U., and ultimately the United States, sanctioned the Ethiopian army to invade Somalia and overthrow the existing government headed by the Union of Islamic Courts.
Until the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia in 2006 the country was peaceful and starting to rebuild a war torn nation thanks to the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a coalition of Somali Clan Elders and senior Islamic religious leaders or Sheiks.

The UIC’s popular militias had driven the warlords and gangsters out of Mogadishu and through negotiated settlements had spread its influence increasingly to the south bringing peace to most of Somalia.
The Port of Mogadishu had been reopened and talks for reopening Mogadishu Airport had begun. In other words, for the first time since 1991 Somalia was in a state of peace.
This was all shattered when the U.N. and its African Union gendarmes, the Ethiopians, invaded Somalia, occupied Mogadishu and placed a bounty on the heads of the UIC, who mostly being older, had to flee the country into exile...

What was left to lead the wave of Somali nationalism opposing the invasion and occupation by their historical enemies, the Ethiopians, was Al Shabab, the youth wing of the UIC who picked up the gun to fight an armed struggle for national liberation.
Eventually, the fanatic wahabist wing of the youth movement for national liberation defeated the quite moderate, UIC elders-led fighters and voila, today’s “terrorist” organization known as Al Shabab was born. ...

The U.N. has spent untold Billions funding the A.U. implemented occupation and war in Somalia in the name of fighting terrorism in the form of Al Shabab, with over 30,000 AU “peacekeepers” occupying Somalia.

2--Colombia to Sign Peace Deal with FARC, End Decades-Long War

Despite the EU announcing that they may remove the FARC from terror watch list, the US will not be doing the same. The FARC leader and political prisoner Simon Trinidad will not be released from prison as part of the peace deal either.

3--Reality check??  Chart Of The Day: S&P 500 Versus 2016 GDP Growth——Something’s Got To Give

4--Pot calls the kettle black; US accuses Russia of “war crimes” as danger of clash in Syria mounts

US and allied diplomats went on the offensive against Russia at a UN Security Council meeting Sunday, provocatively accusing Moscow of “war crimes” in Syria and demonstrating their readiness to risk a direct military confrontation with the nuclear-armed power.

The emergency Security Council meeting was called by permanent members the United States, Britain and France with the explicit aim of making unsubstantiated allegations of war crimes against Russia.

Referring to the attack on a UN aid convoy last Monday, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power told the meeting, “What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counterterrorism, it is barbarism.”
She went on to charge that the Syrian government, which began an offensive on Thursday to take rebel-held parts of Aleppo, was indiscriminately bombing residential areas with Russian support. “Instead of pursuing peace, Russia and Assad make war. Instead of helping get lifesaving aid to civilians, Russia and Assad are bombing the humanitarian convoys, hospitals, and first responders who are trying desperately to keep people alive,” claimed Power.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson went even further, telling an interview on the BBC Sunday that Russia should be investigated for war crimes....

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin stated that reaching a peace deal in Syria was “almost impossible” due to Washington’s continued support for al-Nusra. “They are armed with tanks, APCs, field artillery, multiple rocket launchers… dozens and dozens of units, including heavy weaponry… Of course, they couldn’t have made this equipment themselves. All of this has been received by them and is still being shipped to them by generous Western backers, with the US, presumably, turning a blind eye,” ...

In a public demonstration that they would accept nothing short of full capitulation by the Assad government to their plans for regime-change, Power and the French and British UN ambassadors left the Security Council chamber as the Syrian ambassador spoke.
The transparent aim of the aggressive denunciation of Russia is to provide a fraudulent pretext for war. From the claim that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was preparing to massacre civilians in Benghazi in March 2011, to the lying allegations that Syrian government forces launched a poison gas attack in August 2013, and now the unsubstantiated allegations about Russian “war crimes” against the civilian population, Washington and its allies have repeatedly utilized such "human rights" propaganda to legitimize a vast escalation of military violence throughout the Middle East....

The demonization of Russia is preparing the ground for a war that would quickly draw the major powers into a regional and global conflict. This was underscored by the remarks of General Joseph Dunford to Congress last week. Asked by Republican Senator Roger Wicker if the military could take decisive action to impose a no-fly zone, Dunford responded, “For now, for us to control all the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war with Syria and Russia. That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make.”
The military top brass in the Pentagon never supported the ceasefire deal and had no intention of abiding by it. As Dunford frankly admitted to the senators, “Russia is the most significant threat to our national interests.”

5--The two most reviled candidates in history face off--On the eve of the US election debate: The politics of the grotesque

Tens of millions of people will be watching tonight not out of any love for the candidates involved, but more as witnesses to a horrible train wreck....

As far as the financial aristocracy is concerned, Hillary Clinton is the near-unanimous choice, as demonstrated by the fact, reported by the Wall Street Journal Saturday, that not a single CEO of the Fortune 100 largest corporations is backing Trump, while many are supporting and have contributed financially to Clinton. She has the support of the dominant sections of the military-intelligence apparatus and endorsement of the vast bulk of the US media, while not a single major daily newspaper has endorsed Trump.
The concern of the ruling class is not that Trump would be too reckless, but that his professed admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin cuts across the war plans directed against Russia and China which have been developed over the past decade under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Moreover, there is concern that the election of Trump could set off uncontrollable social conflict....

Even by the deplorable standards of American politics, the present elections take matters to a new low. The population of the United States is being presented with a degraded spectacle of a contest between two despised candidates, the most unpopular in modern American history: Trump, a fascistic billionaire and former reality show star, and Clinton, the chosen candidate of Wall Street and the military-intelligence apparatus.

The event itself will not in any genuine sense be a debate, that is, an exchange of political ideas and arguments, but rather an assortment of stock phrases, rehearsed one-liners, verbal provocations and mudslinging. Moderator Lester Holt of NBC News will ensure that the issues discussed do not transcend the general consensus accepted by both parties.

A report in the Sunday Times of London gives a glimpse of the real feelings of the public towards the two candidates. The newspaper commissioned a focus group conducted among voters in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC, who felt, as the Times put it, that “It was the candidates, not the voters, who were the real deplorables.” When asked to describe Clinton, the terms used included “deceitful,” “entitled,” “unpleasant,” “untrustworthy,” “liar,” “corruption,” “uninspiring” and “crooked.” Trump’s name produced such responses as “crazy,” “unstable,” “arrogant,” “megalomaniac,” “vindictive,” “unbalanced,” “dumb,” “charlatan,” “bigot” and “hateful.”

6--Germany won't let Deutsche Bank become ‘Lehman moment’: Analyst Peter Boockvar

Today's links

Today's quote: "We are not at some ordinary moment in history. Instead, we are at an unprecedented, era-defining crossroads. Debt to GDP is the highest it has ever been in history. Politicians are unlikely to address this since it has proven easy to sidestep and the associated issues are highly difficult, so we will almost certainly continue down this debt path, increasingly burdened by high levels of private and public debt, ignoring what is in front of us, and wondering why global growth remains so mixed."

1--Corporate debt nearly doubles in five years (from CLSA)

US corporate debt has risen by $2.8 trillion over the last five years, while corporate cash has only risen by $600 billion.

2--How bad is the economy?  Pretty bad

Default rates on U.S. corporate debt are the highest that they have been since the last financial crisis.

Corporate profits have fallen for five quarters in a row, and it is being projected that it will be six in a row once the final numbers for the third quarter come in

The Wall Street Journal says that this is the weakest “economic recovery” since 1949.

--Barack Obama is on track to be the only president in all of U.S. history to never have a single year when the U.S. economy grew by at least 3 percent

Capital expenditure growth has turned negative, and history has shown that this is almost always followed by a new recession.

---The percentage of Americans with a full-time job has been sitting at about 48 percent since 2010.  You have to go back to 1983 to find a time when full-time employment in this country was so low.
--The labor force participation rate peaked back in 1997 and has been steadily falling ever since.

One study found that median incomes have fallen in more than 80 percent of the major metropolitan areas in this country since the year 2000.

--According to the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
--The rate of homeownership in the U.S. has fallen every single year while Barack Obama has been in the White House.

--Approximately one out of every five young adults are currently living with their parents.
--One recent survey discovered that 62 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
---According to the Federal Reserve, 47 percent of all Americans could not even pay an unexpected $400 emergency room bill without borrowing the money from somewhere or selling something.

3--US. Bond Market’s Biggest Buyers Are Selling Like Never Before--The market returns

They’ve long been one of the most reliable sources of demand for U.S. government debt.
But these days, foreign central banks have become yet another worry for investors in the world’s most important bond market.

Holders like China and Japan have culled their stakes in Treasuries for three consecutive quarters, the most sustained pullback on record, based on the Federal Reserve’s official custodial holdings. The decline has accelerated in the past three months, coinciding with the recent backup in U.S. bond yields.

For Jim Leaviss at M&G Investments in London, that’s cause for concern. A continued retreat could lead to painful losses in a market that some say is already too expensive. But perhaps more important are the consequences for America’s finances. With the U.S. facing deficits that are poised to swell the public debt burden by $10 trillion over the next decade, foreign demand will be crucial in keeping a lid on borrowing costs, especially as the Fed continues to suggest higher interest rates are on the horizon...

Overseas creditors have played a key role in financing America’s debt as the U.S. borrowed heavily in the aftermath of the financial crisis to revive the economy. Since 2008, foreigners have more than doubled their investments in Treasuries and now own about $6.25 trillion.
Central banks have led the way. China, the biggest foreign holder of Treasuries, funneled hundreds of billions of dollars back into the U.S. as its export-based economy boomed.

Now, that’s all starting to change. The amount of U.S. government debt held in custody at the Fed has decreased by $78 billion this quarter, following a decline of almost $100 billion over the first six months of the year. The drop is the biggest on a year-to-date basis since at least 2002 and quadruple the amount of any full year on record, Fed data show....

DoubleLine Capital’s Jeffrey Gundlach predicted that benchmark Treasury yields will exceed 2 percent before year-end, echoing his earlier call that the bond market had finally reached a tipping point. At the same time, the Fed signaled at its September meeting that it’s likely to lift rates by December....

The Congressional Budget Office forecasts the U.S. deficit will rise to $590 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the first annual increase since 2011. Over the next decade, successive shortfalls to cover costs for Medicare and Social Security will cause the public debt burden to balloon to $23 trillion

4--Hell to Pay --More $$$ for the 1%

So what does it mean that 80% of our population possesses a meager 11% of the total wealth?  For one thing it means that the recent efforts by the Fed to provide massive amounts of liquidity support to the biggest and wealthiest banks at the inflationary expense of the lower classes were not only misguided, but they were cruel and unusual

5--A Weaker Currency Is No Longer Economic Elixir It Once Was

the yen has gained 20 percent versus the dollar this year, showing that not only are the economic effects of currency depreciation waning, but the central bank’s ability to weaken the exchange rate is ebbing too.

A weaker currency, once the cure-all for ailing economies around the world, isn’t the panacea it once was.

Just look at Japan, where the yen plunged 28 percent in the two years through 2014, yet net exports to America still fell by 10 percent. Or at the U.K., where the pound’s 19 percent tumble in the two years through 2009 couldn’t stave off a 26 percent decline in shipments to the U.S. In fact, since the turn of the century, the ability of exchange-rate movements to affect trade and growth in major economies has fallen by more than half, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The findings suggest that weaker currencies may not provide much assistance to officials in countries like Japan and the U.K. that are relying on unprecedented easy-money policies to help boost tenuous growth and inflation. On the flip side, the data also indicate that concerns the U.S. recovery will be derailed as rising interest rates drive investors into the dollar are also overblown. A shift in the structure of advanced-economy trade to less price-elastic goods and services, combined with the prolonged effects of the financial crisis, have stunted the sensitivity of trade volumes relative to global exchange rates, according to Goldman Sachs analysts led by Jari Stehn.

6--How to Suffocate Your Economy: Drown it in Massive Private Debt (Today's "must read") 

We are not at some ordinary moment in history. Instead, we are at an unprecedented, era-defining crossroads. Debt to GDP is the highest it has ever been in history. Politicians are unlikely to address this since it has proven easy to sidestep and the associated issues are highly difficult, so we will almost certainly continue down this debt path, increasingly burdened by high levels of private and public debt, ignoring what is in front of us, and wondering why global growth remains so mixed.....

the world has now reached a point where combined global government and private debt to GDP is the highest by far in history....

In the United States, total nonfinancial private debt is $27 trillion and public debt is $19 trillion. More telling, since 1950, U.S. private debt has almost tripled from 55 percent of GDP to 150 percent of GDP, and most other major economies have shown a similar trend. [See Chart 2.] Since GDP is largely the sum of all the spending, and thus income, of households and businesses in an economy, if aggregate private debt to GDP has tripled, that means that average businesses and households have three times more debt in relation to their income. Both private debt and government debt matter, and both will be discussed here, but of these two, it is private debt that has the larger and more direct impact on economic outcomes, and addressing the issues associated with private debt is the more productive path to economic revival....

Private debt is a beneficial and essential part of any economy. However, as it increases, it can bring two problems. The first is dramatic. Very rapid or “runaway” private debt growth often brings financial crises. Runaway private debt growth brought the 2008 crisis in the United States, the 1991 crisis in Japan, and the 1997 crisis across Asia, to name just three. And just as runaway debt for a country as a whole is predictive of calamity for that country, runaway debt for a subcategory of debt, such as oil and gas or commercial real estate, is predictive of problems within that subcategory....

short bursts of runaway growth in private debt have often led to crisis—the United States in 2008 and Japan in 1991 to name just two. That is because so much lending occurs that it results in overcapacity: Far too much of something is built or produced—housing and office buildings are two examples—and too many bad loans are made. In fact, so many bad loans are made that they approach or exceed the amount of bank capital in the system. So, inevitably, the economies of these countries need to slow to a crawl to allow demand to catch up to this overcapacity, and the banks need to be propped up or rescued because of the extraordinary amount of bad debt.

The second problem it brings is much more subtle and insidious: When too high, private debt becomes a drag on economic growth. It chips away at the margin of growth trends. Though different researchers cite different levels, a growing body of research suggests that when private debt enters the range of 100 to 150 percent of GDP, it impedes economic growth....

Because this current private debt burden suppresses spending and investment, growth rates in the United States, Europe, and Japan—which have private debt-to-GDP ratios of 150 percent, 162 percent, and 167 percent ,and 2015 real growth rates of 2.4 percent, 1.9 percent, and 0.5 percent, respectively—will continue to lag. Real U.S. growth rates were 1 to 2 percentage points higher for most of the post-World War II period. Even a 1 percent higher growth rate in the eight years since the crisis would have resulted in $1.2 trillion more in GDP today. And now China is on the verge of joining this mediocre-growth club....

After very high GDP growth in the 1980s, fueled primarily by runaway lending, Japan suffered a stock market crash in 1990, then a real estate collapse in 1991, and finally a bank rescue in 1998. And Japan has posted almost 20 years of near-zero growth since that rescue....

There are only ten cases since World War II in which both public and private debt deleveraged by 10 percentage points or more in a five-year period. Six of these were due to high inflation. Four of these were in large measure due to a high export surplus position, or more broadly speaking, a high current account surplus. One of these, Israel in 2003, comes the closest of any case I examined to deleveraging through growth, but even there, total debt outgrew GDP.
Deleveraging is difficult...

It’s hard to expect any major economy to deleverage with only the tools of painful inflation, growth in other debt, or unrealistic trade account surpluses....

A rapid rise in mortgage debt was the proximate cause of the crisis—it rose from $5.3 trillion in 2001 to $10.6 trillion in 2007, an avalanche of new mortgage lending in the space of a mere six years. And yet even though we spent billions to bail out most of the lenders pursuant to this crisis (and largely without meaningful consequence to the management of those lending institutions), the amount of help provided to homeowners has been negligible in comparison...

We have now unmistakably entered a new age of slow growth. The ongoing situation in Japan is as sobering as it is instructive. In the generation since its private debt eruption, its nominal GDP growth has been zero. During that time, it has fallen from 18 percent of the world’s GDP to only 6 percent, and still, its burden of private debt is both high and largely ignored.....

7---The UK’s Devastating New Report on NATO’s Regime-Change War in Libya--The report is a convincing indictment of the UK’s civilian and military leadership in 2011—and our own

The report questions how the imposition of a UN-mandated no-fly zone—established in order to protect civilians—transformed into a policy of regime change. The UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff at the time, Gen. David Richards, told the committee that “one thing morphed almost ineluctably into the other.” The report points out that as early as March 20, 2011, Qaddafi’s forces had retreated 40 miles from Benghazi after a series of attacks by the French air force. “If the primary object of the coalition intervention was the urgent need to protect civilians in Benghazi,” notes the report, “then this object was achieved in less than 24 hours.”

8--US wants to distract attention from coalition strike on Syria troops – Lavrov

Russian FM hints at a coup in Washington

Kerry appeared to be “pinned down by stark criticism from the American military apparatus,” Lavrov noted, which may indicate that the US military does not comply with its commander-in-chief’s orders.

[President] Barack Obama always supported, as I was told, cooperation with Russia, and he confirmed it himself during the meeting with [President] Vladimir Putin in China. It seems to me that the military may not be obeying their supreme commander too much.”  

9--'Americans Are on Our Side': Al-Nusra Front Allegedly Receiving Weapons From US

10--No military solution

"We outlined our position clearly. We need a serious process, without cheating, without people changing their stances every two days. The agreement was [achieved], and the only thing needed is its implementation instead of changing positions. If they continue doing this, it will be extremely difficult to have serious process," Churkin told journalists Sunday.

The current situation in Syria is at a deadlock not because the agreement is not working or it’s working in a wrong way. The reason is that there is a typical balance of power on the ground for such conflicts. It’s obvious that there is no military solution but at the same time no one is ready for a political solution because each party is trying to change the situation on the ground for its own benefit," Lukyanov told the Russian online newspaper Vzglyad.

In addition, there is no unanimity on Syria in Washington. The State Department and President Barack Obama want progress on Syria but the Pentagon is trying to sabotage the agreement," the expert added.

The Syrian intelligence possesses an audio recording of conversation between Daesh terrorists and US military prior to the Washington-led coalition's airstrikes on the government troops near Deir ez-Zor on September 17, the speaker of the People's Council of Syria said Monday."The Syrian Army intercepted a conversation between the Americans and Daesh before the air raid on Deir ez-Zor", Hadiya Khalaf Abbas said as quoted by the Al Mayadeen broadcaster.

US warplanes hit Syrian government troops near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor on September 17, leaving 62 military personnel killed and a hundred wounded. The Pentagon said initially that the airstrike was a mistake and targeted Daesh militants. The head of the Syrian parliament, added during her visit to Iran that after the coalition's airstrikes on the government troops US military directed terrorists' attack on the Syrian army.

12--Down memory lane: 9-11 -- Philip D. Zelikow --9-11 Mythmaker extraordinaire

but he is best known as the executive director of the 9/11 Commission

One of his areas of expertise is PUBLIC MYTHOLOGY.    
While at Harvard he actually wrote about the use, and misuse, of history in policymaking. As he noted in his own words, "contemporary" history is "defined functionally by those critical people and events that go into forming the public's presumptions about its immediate past. The idea of 'public presumption'," he explained, "is akin to [the] notion of 'public myth' but without the negative implication sometimes invoked by the word 'myth.' Such presumptions are beliefs (1) thought to be true (although not necessarily known to be true with certainty), and (2) shared in common within the relevant political community." So Zelikow, the guy who wrote The 9/11 Commission Report, was an expert in how to misuse public trust and create PUBLIC MYTHS.
If 9/11 was nothing but a huge HOAX, you would naturally expect that the event itself would have to be perfectly scripted.
In 1998, Zelikow actually wrote Catastrophic Terrorism about imagining "the transformative event" three years before 9/11. Here are Zelikow's 1998 words; Readers should imagine the possibilities for themselves, because the most serious constraint on current policy [nonaggression] is lack of imagination. An act of catastrophic terrorism that killed thousands or tens of thousands of people and/or disrupted the necessities of life for hundreds of thousands, or even millions, would be a watershed event in America's history. It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented for peacetime and undermine Americans' fundamental sense of security within their own borders in a manner akin to the 1949 Soviet atomic bomb test, or perhaps even worse. Constitutional liberties would be challenged as the United States sought to protect itself from further attacks by pressing against allowable limits in surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects, and the use of deadly force. More violence would follow, either as other terrorists seek to imitate this great "success" or as the United States strikes out at those considered responsible. Like Pearl Harbor, such an event would divide our past and future into a "before" and "after." The effort and resources we devote to averting or containing this threat now, in the "before" period, will seem woeful, even pathetic, when compared to what will happen "after." Our leaders will be judged negligent for not addressing catastrophic terrorism more urgently.

13--Interview With Al-Nusra Commander “The Americans stand on our side

14--Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s second coming is a US-Pakistan enterprise

One of the most colorful figures of the Afghan jihad, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, recently signed a peace deal with Kabul which is also seen as a back-to-back US-Pakistan deal.  Hekmatyar, who lives in Pakistan with his family, is known for his anti-Indian views. As India openly supports Baluchi nationalists in Pakistan, Islamabad wants to  sever the ties between Delhi and Kabul and Hekmatyar can guarantee that in future. India has reason to be worried...

Hekmatyar used to be, after all, the principal beneficiary of the CIA support for the Afghan Mujahideen in the eighties and was even received once in the Oval Office by President Ronald Reagan.....

The point is, Ghani-Hekmtayar deal is also a back-to-back US-Pakistan deal. Now there is a congruence of interests for both the US and Pakistan to bring about an orderly transition in Kabul. Of course, both countries are apprehensive about Karzai outsmarting them and assuming power once again. On the other hand, Hekmatyar is a consensus choice for both CIA and ISI....

three former foreign secretaries and one former national security advisor – jointly penned an essay underscoring the imperatives of a major policy rethink on Afghanistan.

The thrust of their argument was that Pakistan must prioritize its existential struggle vis-à-vis India in Kashmir, and to this end, quickly normalize ties with Washington and Kabul. Simply put, they wrote, Pakistan should disengage from the Taliban, including the Haqqani group, and marshal its resources instead on “Pakistan’s ability to forcefully advocate the Kashmir cause.”
Clearly, a paradigm shift makes sense insofar as it also creates a more favorable setting for the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Besides, Pakistan is desperately keen to regain the verve in the relations with the US.