Friday, March 3, 2017

Today's Links

“I have a question: is it rock bottom, which the US media has reached, or is there an even greater depth for them to dive?  The things that the US media affords itself to report are just an attempt at… a total disinformation of the public in America and worldwide,” Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova,

"The election of Trump marks a new stage in the social counter-revolution initiated under Obama, the aim of which has been to massively enrich the financial oligarchy through the impoverishment of workers, the dismantling of social services, and the elimination or non-enforcement of financial, environmental, occupational health, and other business regulations." Nick Beams

1--The Fed Is Preparing $1 Trillion In QE For The Next Recession: Deutsche

the Fed may not be able to provide enough accommodation by only cutting its policy rate. Just as in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the Fed may have to turn to another round of QE to support the economy during the next recession.

(This proves many things: The Fed will not be able to wind down its balance sheet. The markets will remain permanently distorted by cash injections. The Wall Street banks are not reformable.
 And, finally, the banks are still insolvent, welfare cases that pose a threat to the economy and the country.)

2--Trumped up expectations-- all headed south--Personal income and spending, Construction spending, Light vehicle sales, Trade, GPD

3--More soft data:  Pending home sales, Durable goods orders, Dallas Fed, Bank loans

4--Atlanta Fed cuts U.S. first-quarter GDP growth view to 1.8 percent

5--Obama Ordered Abuse Of Intelligence To Sabotage Trump Policies

In its last months the Obama administration ordered the intelligence agencies to collect and distribute information of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. This to prevent any change by the Trump administration of the hostile policy towards Russia that the Obama administration instituted. The intent was also gives the intelligence services blackmail material to prevent any changes in their undue, freewheeling independence.

The above is reported in a rather short New York Times piece published yesterday

6--7 in 10 say Trump speech boosted optimism

"President Donald Trump's first address to Congress received largely positive reviews from viewers, with 57% who tuned in saying they had a very positive reaction to the speech, according to a new CNN/ORC poll of speech-watchers.

Nearly 7-in-10 who watched said the President's proposed policies would move the country in the right direction and almost two-thirds said the president has the right priorities for the country. Overall, about 7-in-10 said the speech made them feel more optimistic about the direction of the country....

On specific issues, Trump scored the highest marks for his proposed policies on the economy, with 72% saying those went in the right direction. Almost as many, 70%, said the same about his terrorism proposals. Slightly fewer, but still a majority, felt his policies on taxes (64%), immigration (62%) or health care (61%) were heading in the right direction.

Ideologically, about two-thirds saw Trump's speech as about right, while roughly on-quarter (26%) pegged it as too conservative. Just 8% said it wasn't conservative enough."
(7-in-10 speech-watchers say Trump boosted optimism", CNN)

7-- "A CBS News/YouGov poll found 82% of respondents said Trump came across as very ‘presidential.’

Of those who watched the speech and responded to the poll, 61%  had a ‘very positive’ response.
The President gained support for his policy plans among viewers: Interviewed before and after the address, they came away from it more positive on his ideas for the economy, immigration, terrorism, crime and Obamacare....

Reacting to the president’s description of the economy as he took office, Republicans and independents think he did inherit a bad economy, while three in four Democrats think the president took over an economy that was already improving." ("President Trump gets high approval ratings for speech to Congress", News 3)

8--Turkey prepares for military escalation in the Middle East

Hoping to shift US policy under Trump, Ankara now claims that several thousand FSA fighters, supported by Turkish advisors and air power, are ready to engage in a joint operation with Washington to take Raqqa, providing the Kurds are sidelined.
It is unclear whether Trump will accept Ankara’s proposal to replace the Kurdish-dominated SDF with Turkish-backed FSA forces. The alternatives are stark, however: a negative reply will further alienate Ankara, while a positive one would improve US-Turkish relations at the expense of Turkish-Russian relations....
At the Munich security conference on February 19, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Iran, Russia’s largest ally in the region, was “trying to create two Shiite states in Syria and Iraq... Iran wants to make Syria and Iraq Shiite… This is very dangerous. It must be stopped.” Less than a week before, Erdogan had accused Iran of trying to partition Iraq and Syria.

Tehran responded sharply. On February, 20, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi declared: “We are acting patiently, but there is a limit to that… We hope that such statements are not made again. If our Turkish friends continue with this attitude, we will not remain silent,” he said.
Afterwards, the Turkey-Iran Business Forum, which executives from at least 100 Turkish firms were scheduled to attend on February 25 in Tehran, was postponed.

Ankara has long complained of Tehran’s intervention in the Syrian war and its growing influence in Iraq. The conflict between Turkey and Iran over Iraq and Syria, however, did not keep Ankara from aligning with Russia and Iran during ostensible peace talks on Syria in Astana.
The row between Ankara and Tehran has intensified since the new US administration placed Iran on its target list

9--What is the probability that Trump's agenda gets passed?

there is no question that the Trump agenda is something that’s making stock investors confident, that’s leading them to believe that after-tax profits, which is what matters if you’re a stock investor, are going to be on the rise in the years ahead.

Some of the math is pretty simple. If you’re a bank and you can — your capital requirements gets dropped, if you’re a military contractor and your military spending gets increased, that is going to go straight to your bottom line. Lower taxes, good for the bottom line. That’s all good for stocks.
So, there’s no question that’s part of the Trump agenda. Now, that said, most of those policies haven’t actually happened yet. So there is still the question of, will the Trump administration deliver the things that Wall Street is now expecting?...

Is this big corporate income tax cut that the president says he wants to see, is that really going to happen? How soon will it happen? How big will it be?
On the regulatory front, how much of the shift away from regulation really will be things that benefit corporate America? How much — is there going to be new infrastructure spending? He wants a trillion dollars. Is that actually going to happen? Congress isn’t so sure.
So seeing if some of these things go from an idea on a chalkboard to actual legislation, actual policy, that’s the big question right now.

10--Been there- done that;  Trump agenda fuels an orgy of speculation

since his election victory, more than $3 trillion has been added to share values. The driving force of this process is not the prospect of a genuine revival of the US economy—growth continues to trend below 2 percent—but rests on the belief that the administration is going to scrap legal and administrative constraints on profit-making.

In short, the type of economic and financial arrangements that have characterised Trump’s business career, based on speculation, swindling, low wages, and business malfeasance, are now going to hold even greater sway in the American economy as a whole.
This perspective has been articulated by Trump’s chief strategist, the fascistic ideologue and economic nationalist Stephen Bannon, who has insisted on the scrapping of what he calls the “administrative state.”
The Snap IPO is an expression of this general process. This is a company which makes nothing, which has very few employees and whose valuation is based on the belief that it is a vehicle through which money will simply be able to beget more money via financial operations.....

The Snap IPO took place in the midst of a market surge that began with the election of Donald Trump four months ago. Since Election Day, the market has risen by 15 percent and on Wednesday the Dow Jones index hit a new record high of 21,000 after passing the 20,000 mark on January 25....

Trump’s declaration in his address to Congress that crumbling infrastructure will be replaced by new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways, “gleaming” across the land. Rather, it is grounded on the understanding that at the centre of the $1 trillion so-called infrastructure program will be tax concessions and write-offs for major firms....

The election of Trump marks a new stage in the social counter-revolution initiated under Obama, the aim of which has been to massively enrich the financial oligarchy through the impoverishment of workers, the dismantling of social services, and the elimination or non-enforcement of financial, environmental, occupational health, and other business regulations.
Shares of Snap Inc., the maker of the Snapchat messaging app, surged 44 percent Thursday after its initial public offering (IPO). The firm, which has a miniscule number of employees, has never turned a profit and lost $514.6 million last year, is now valued higher than the retailing giant Target, which employs over 300,000 people....

The fact that Snap Inc. has warned that it may never turn a profit did not prevent a rush for the stock. Speculators salivated not so much on the prospect that Snapchat’s 158 million users, sending more than 2.5 billion images and messages every day and concentrated in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic, could be a lucrative source of revenue. Rather, the stampede was motivated by the very short-term prospect, measured in minutes or even seconds, that there were huge immediate gains to be made on a rise in its share value


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