Monday, October 31, 2016

1--$1.3 Trln in Bad Loans Jeopardise European Banks' Profits

Since 2008, the total volume of NPLs has risen from roughly 1.5pc of all loans issued to over 5pc in 2013, and that figure is growing, KPMG’s report said. Meanwhile, the regulatory pressure, which has been on the rise since the implementation of Basel II rules and continues amid the release of Basel IV, will add some 0.5pc to European banking costs in the near-term...

as traditional lenders are exiting the financing of many projects in the real economy, growth prospects look feeble. Non-traditional lenders are occupying the niches abandoned by banks, offering flexible financing options to the economy at higher interest rates, resulting in shaky growth and mounting risks.

The nascent trend is disrupting the transmission of central bank policy to the economy – amid negative rates, a property developer or a founder of a business start-up can only count on non-bank loans at rates of 6-8pc. Meanwhile a traditional bank, which would be willing and able to issue a loan at 3pc interest under normal circumstances, is kept from engaging in such activity due to tougher regulations and NPL concerns

The attack on Yugoslavia was, of course, an aggression. By the way, this was the first armed assault in Europe on a sovereign state since 1945… Looking at what is happening around Syria, our western partners, mainly the US and the UK ones, go in their hysterics to the point of using public insults, including using such words as 'barbarism,' 'war crime.' I remind you that the aggression against… Yugoslavia was associated with a huge number of attacks on civilian objects, including Serbia's television broadcasting facilities, bridges, which were used by civilian passenger trains and many other things," Lavrov told Russia's channel Rossiya 1 in an interview on Sunday.

In 1999, NATO led by the United States engaged in a 78-day military campaign against what was then Yugoslavia, which consisted of Serbia and Montenegro, over alleged repressions of Albanians in Kosovo. Previously, Albanians were engaged in killing Serbian police and civilians in a push for independence from the historically-Serbian province....

According to the Serbian government, most main bridges, 190 schools, 16 hospitals and the main RTS media outlet were damaged or destroyed during the NATO campaign

The choice facing the Syrian people is both simple and stark: either a government led by Bashar al-Assad, under which the right of the country’s aforementioned minorities are protected and upheld, or a government led by Nusra Front, under which they are not, sits in power in Damascus. In other words, there is no choice at all....

In 2015 German Vice Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, publicly accused the Saudis of funding Islamist extremism. In an interview with a German magazine, the Vice Chancellor said, “Wahhabi mosques are financed all over the world by Saudi Arabia. In Germany, many dangerous Islamists come from these communities.”

RT: Today there was a chemical gas attack in western Aleppo. Will the West reassess its support for these so called moderate groups if it is confirmed the rebels conducted it?

SS: We have to understand that for six years, the Western countries and the Gulf States invested in those moderate radical groups and so they cannot abandon them. They are like the Trojan Horse that they had put inside the Syrian domestic situation. They cannot pull out now and say: “Okay, we discovered that we were wrong, let’s get out and leave them.” They have invested in them and they will still use them in bargaining in the future of Syria. So, if there are any future negotiations on the fate of Syria, those people, these cards of radicals and moderates will be used on the negotiating table. I don’t think that they will get rid of them soon

5--Next Step in “Irreversible Decline”? Exxon Books 38% Lower Earnings, Blames Refining Margins

The report’s author, IEEFA’s director of finance, Tom Sanzillo, notes that Exxon has seen a 45-percent drop in its revenues over the past five years, accompanied by cuts on capex, declines in cash balances at the end of each year, and shrinking cash flows

6--Jihadist attacks against civilians in Aleppo could amount to war crimes: UN Envoy

De Mistura's statement came just hours before the jihadist rebels fired chemical weapons at the government-controlled Al-Hamdaniyah District in southwest Aleppo

7--The Chinese Century

The Chinese leaders slowly but methodically move towards a grandiose infrastructure project of the new Silk Road. ... The ambitious idea is focused on building a large-scale transport infrastructure: highways, pipelines to transport energy, airports, ports, high-speed rail infrastructure and telecommunications networks to enhance trade, as well as economic, financial and cultural cooperation between the Eurasian countries. This project promises to end the centuries-long domination of the periphery’s naval forces to Eurasia over the supercontinent.

8--Political warfare explodes in Washington

Twenty-five years of unending war and fifteen years of the “war on terror” have failed to secure US hegemony in the Middle East and only heightened fears within the ruling elite that US imperialism is losing ground to rivals such as Russia and China. The disarray of US policy in Syria, in particular, has led to bitter conflicts and recriminations over US policy, and demands for a major escalation of military violence, not only in Syria, but throughout the Middle East. These are combined with calls for a more aggressive confrontation with Russia and China.....

More than eight months ago, FBI agents presented plans for a more aggressive investigation of the foundation to career prosecutors in the Justice Department, only to have the proposal blocked on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence. The FBI offices nonetheless continued their investigations, which were intensified after the Clinton email investigation was wound up in July.

The Journal report suggests that a substantial faction within the FBI was either convinced that top FBI officials were covering up criminal activities on the part of Hillary and Bill Clinton, or that the FBI dissidents were politically motivated to use agency resources to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, or both.

When top officials in the FBI and Justice Department opposed these efforts, open rebellion followed, expressed in leaks to the Wall Street Journal centrally targeting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose wife was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for state senate in Virginia last year. According to some press reports, Comey sent his letter to Congress last week because he was convinced the information would become public anyway through further leaks by FBI subordinates

9--US-backed jihadists use chemical weapons on civilians in aleppo

The Al Qaeda-affiliated militias have used the suspension of air strikes to mount their own offensive, which has been directed in large measure against the civilian population of government-controlled western Aleppo, where the vast majority of the city’s population lives.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group hostile to the Syrian government, reported Sunday that “rebel” shelling of western Aleppo had killed at least 41 civilians over a three-day period, at least 16 of them children. The Islamist militias have also used suicide car bombs in an attempt to breach government positions, also claiming civilian victims.

Among the “rebel” attacks Sunday was a barrage of shells containing toxic gases that struck the al-Hamadaniyeh area and the al-Assad residential suburb of Aleppo. According to reports, one person died from gas poisoning, while at least 35 people were sent to the hospital from the effects of chlorine gas.

In 2013, the Obama administration came to the brink of launching a direct military attack on Syria over allegations that the government of President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a gas attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, which supposedly violated a “red line” set by Obama over the use of poison gas.
The Syrian government denied its responsibility for the attack, which coincided with the arrival of United Nations weapons inspectors in Damascus to investigate previous gas attacks and provided a convenient pretext for US military intervention against the Assad regime.

In the end, Washington accepted a face-saving deal brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin providing for the UN-supervised destruction of all of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles

Subsequent reports, including by the US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, pointed to the Ghouta attack having been organized by the Turkish government working in league with the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front in order to blame it on Assad and provide a means for the Obama administration to override popular opposition to another US war in the Middle East and launch military action in Syria.
There is, needless to say, no sign within the US and other western media of the kind of moral outrage and “humanitarian concern” evinced over the Russian bombing of Aleppo or the fabricated charges of Syrian government gas attacks over the recent crimes carried out against the people of western Aleppo. Rather, the New York Times Saturday wrote approvingly that “A coalition of Syrian insurgent groups said it had begun a major offensive on Friday to break the months-long siege of eastern parts of Aleppo.”

The Times went on to advance an alibi for the fact that the forces backed by the US against the Assad government are led by Al Qaeda. “The rebels argue that they cannot afford to shun any potential allies while they are under fire, including well-armed and motivated jihadists, without more robust aid from their international backers,” the report stated, providing an argument for the CIA and the Pentagon pouring more heavy weaponry and anti-aircraft missiles into the hands of Al Qaeda

10--Selloff in global bond markets

There are two main reasons for the bond sell-off. The first is the expectation of a December interest rise by the US Federal Reserve, coupled with uncertainty over the future of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) quantitative easing (QE) program of bond purchases. The second is signs that inflation may be moving upward, which tends to depress bond prices. This is because bonds pay a fixed income and rising prices reduce the income stream and lower the value of the principal in real terms in the future.

Peter Chatwell, head of rates strategy at Mizuho International in London, told Bloomberg: “The premise of the selloff so far was higher inflation and uncertainty on what the ECB is going to do next and particularly about how the next leg of quantitative easing would look.”

(a weaker dollar after EU QE ends?) The ECB has said it will announce the future of its QE program, under which it purchases €80 billion worth of bonds per month, at the next meeting of its governing council in December. At present the program is due to end in March 2017. While an immediate cut-off appears unlikely, the ECB may decide to “taper” its purchases in the same way that the Fed did when it withdrew from bond purchases. Any move to extend the program without any indication of when it would start to be wound back would increase opposition from German financial authorities, who have been critical of the policy from the outset...

As the Wall Street Journal noted, the “weak point” for bonds is that their “previous superstrong performance … makes them unusually vulnerable.”

This means that relatively small movements can have a large effect. A rise in the rate of inflation, for example, from 1 percent to 2 percent would not have major consequences in the real economy. But it would have a significant impact on financial markets if it were matched by the same rise in yields.

According to an article published by Dow Jones, it has been estimated that such an increase would reduce the value of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Global Broad Market Index, which measures global bond prices, by 6.9 percent, that is, a loss of about $3.36 trillion.

Such calculations throw a spotlight on the explosive contradictions at the very centre of the monetary policies pursued by the major central banks in the eight years since the financial crisis.

The stated aim of their agenda has been to lift the real economy. However, rather than produce any tangible boost—investment, for example, remains well below pre-2008 trends in all the major economies—the most significant effect has been to create a bubble in both equity and bond markets. Consequently, if interest rates do start to rise, either because of an increase in inflation or an uptick in economic growth—the stated aim of QE measures—there is the risk of a major crisis as a result of massive losses incurred in finance markets.

Moreover, there is a significant difference between the situation today and that of eight years ago. In 2008 the central banks stood outside the financial markets. Today they are major players and would therefore be directly involved in any market meltdown

11--Hillary's number one contributor? Wall Street

12--Hillary Clinton is Wall Street’s preferred candidate: Financial execs pouring millions into her campaign to defeat Trump

Wall Street has raised $23 million for Clinton, reports the WSJ. Many who backed Rubio and Bush now support Hillary

It’s official: Hillary Clinton is the preferred presidential candidate of Wall Street.

As it looks more and more like the 2016 presidential election will be between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Wall Street is making it clear which side it’s on.
Wall Street has raised nearly $23 million for Clinton this election. At least $4.2 million from Wall Street has gone into Clinton’s presidential campaign, and another $18.7 million has gone to the super PAC backing her, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday


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