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The leaders of the lower chambers of parliament of Germany, Italy, France, and Luxembourg have called for a European “Federal Union” in an open letter published in Italian newspaper La Stampa on Sunday.
In the letter, four representatives of EU governments – Claude Bartolone of the French National Assembly, Laura Boldrini of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Norbert Lammert of the German Bundestag, and Mars Di Bartolomeo of the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies – say that closer cooperation is essential for dealing with problems that no one EU state can tackle on its own, such as immigration, terrorism, and climate change. As RT notes, the letter’s authors also warn that the European integration project is currently more at risk than ever before, with high unemployment and immigration problems driving populist and nationalist movements. The EU must also come to grips with the fact that, last June, the United Kingdom decided to leave the union after holding a national referendum, aka Brexit, becoming the first member nation to opt out of the bloc.
In less than a month, on March 17 next, we Presidents of the national parliaments of the EU we will meet in Rome, how will the representatives of governments, for the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty from which it began: our Union.
But it is plain for all that recurrence requires much more than just a historical commemoration. Birthday comes the most critical stage ever crossed by the European project.
endoftheamericandream.com / By Michael Snyder / February 26th, 2017
Is the United States about to plunge into an apocalyptic nightmare from which it may never recover? During the Obama era conservatives often warned of such scenarios, but now things have completely shifted. At the moment, conservatives are generally more optimistic than they have been in many years, but quite a few liberals are warning that the Trump years could have absolutely disastrous consequences for this country. They are concerned that Trump’s policies could burst the giant debt bubble that we have been living in and trigger economic collapse, they are concerned that widespread civil unrest could soon erupt in our cities, they are concerned that our rapidly deteriorating environment and major natural disasters could soon kill millions, and they are also concerned that faltering relationships with other nations could lead us into World War III.
Of course leftists are generally wrong about just about everything, but in this case they might be exactly correct.
The truth is that our world is becoming increasingly unstable with each passing week, and this time around it is conservatives that are guilty of reckless optimism.
Just because Donald Trump has been elected does not mean that everything around us is going to be transformed into some sort of utopia. Anyone that is guilty of this kind of thinking is simply delusional.
The “No” side won, with 2,001,926 (55.3%) voting against independence and 1,617,989 (44.7%) voting in favour. The turnout of 84.6% was the highest recorded for an election or referendum in the United Kingdom since the introduction of universal suffrage.
zerohedge.com / by Jeffrey Tucker / Feb 26, 2017 9
For some 15 years, airport security has become steadily more invasive. There are ever more checkpoints, ever more requests for documents as you make your way from the airport entrance to the airplane. Passengers adapt to the new changes as they come. But my latest flight to Mexico, originating in Atlanta, presented all passengers with something I had never seen before.
We had already been through boarding pass checks, passport checks, scanners, and pat downs. At the gate, each passenger had already had their tickets scanned and we were all walking on the jet bridge to board. It’s at this point that most people assume that it is all done: finally we can enjoy some sense of normalcy.
This time was different. Halfway down the jetbridge, there was a new layer of security. Two US Marshals, heavily armed and dressed in dystopian-style black regalia, stood next to an upright machine with a glowing green eye. Every passenger, one by one, was told to step on a mat and look into the green scanner. It was scanning our eyes and matching that scan with the passport, which was also scanned (yet again).
Like everyone else, I complied. What was my choice? I guess I could have turned back at the point, decline to take the flight I had paid for, but it would be unclear what would then happen. After standing there for perhaps 8 seconds, the machine gave the go signal and I boarded.
Globalization has fallen into disrepute. More and more people are rejecting it outright as unfair and as a source of all sorts of evil — including economic crises and migration.
This kind of blanket condemnation of globalization however is a huge problem. The reason for this becomes apparent if one considers the fact that globalization has two dimensions, an economic and a political one.
Economic globalization is synonymous with the cross-border division of labor. Today, no country produces solely to satisfy its own needs, but instead also for producers and consumers in other countries. And each country makes what it knows best, relatively speaking.
Economic globalization, with free trade being a natural component, increases productivity. Without it, the poverty on this planet would not have been reduced to the extent it has been over the past decades.
From the very outset, political globalization has nothing to do with economic globalization. It aims to direct and determine all relations between people on the various continents by way of authoritarian rule. The decision about what is being produced and consumed as well as where and at what time isn’t to be found by the free market, the division of labor and free trade, but instead by an ideological-political creative force.
marctomarket.com / by Marc Chandler / February 27, 2017
The late recovery in US equities before the weekend did little good for Asian markets. Nearly all the Asian equity markets moved lower, led by the 1.0% decline in Japan’s Topix. It was the third successive loss for the Topix, which is the long losing streak of the year so far. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.6%, further pushing it off the 17-month high seen last week.
European bourses are mixed, with shares in Italy and Germany moving higher, but not sufficiently to offset the other markets, leaving the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 off 0.2%. In late morning turnover, information technology and materials are leading the gainers, while real estate and telecoms are the largest drags. News that Italy’s Intesa will not be purchasing Generali is helping lift the Italian banking sector which declined in four of last week’s five sessions. The FTSE Italia All-Share Banks Index is up 2.4%, recouping the pre-weekend loss.
Bond markets are mostly firmer. The benchmark 10-year JGB yield is off two bp to yield less than four basis points. German bunds are flat to slightly lower, while other EMU member yields are off 3-5 bp. This is allowing the spreads to narrow a bit. US 10-year yields had approached 2.30% before the weekend. It is now 2.33%. As we have noted the correlation on of the percent change of the dollar and interest rate spreads (10-year vs. Japan and 2-year vs.Germany) continues to be robust.
President Trump’s crackdown in illegal immigration means more wall-building, more ICE agents, and a notably bigger budget for the border patrol program. As the following chart shows, that would be an extreme departure from the stagnant spending on our nation’s borders by President Obama.
As Statista’s Dyfed Loesche notes, the overall enacted budget for the U.S. Border Patrol program has risen steadily since the 1990s… until 2011 – when President Obama appeared to kill any further spending…
Of course this budget entails spending for patrolling on all national borders. But it is perhaps noteworthy that the number of deportations plunged under president Obama…Under President Obama, the peak was reached in 2012 when almost 410,000 illegal immigrants were deported but it dipped in 2013, falling to 368,644.
armstrongeconomics.com / by Martin Armstrong / Feb 27, 2017
I have warned that 2015.75 was the peak in government and the two many industries that government subsidizes has created the decay within our American society reducing disposable income – healthcare and education. Degrees I have warned are really worthless. About 60% of graduates cannot find employment in the degree they have paid for. Both education and healthcare have become the greatest violation of consumer laws to date, and nobody does anything about it. Hospitals are growing trying to put out of business the private local general practitioner aided by the lawyers driving up legal claims enticing people to file suits as if this is a lottery or casino to get rich quick.
In a remarkable – for its honesty and frankness – statement on the intellectual rot within America’s Ivory Towers,Stanford University Provost John Etchemendy lay bare the challenges that higher education face in the coming, increasingly divisive, years.
The Threat From Within
Universities are a fundamental force of good in the world. At their best, they mine knowledge and understanding, wisdom and insight, and then freely distribute these treasures to society at large. Theirs is not a monopoly on this undertaking, but in the concentration of effort and single-mindedness of purpose, they are truly unique institutions. If Aristotle is right that what defines a human is rationality, then they are the most distinctive, perhaps the pinnacle, of human endeavors.
I share this thought to remind us all why we do what we do – why we care so much about Stanford and what it represents. But I also say it to voice a concern. Universities are under attack, both from outside and from within.
The threat from outside is apparent. Potential cuts in federal funding would diminish our research enterprise and our ability to fund graduate education. Taxing endowments would limit the support we can give to faculty and the services we can provide our students. Indiscriminate travel restrictions would impede the free exchange of ideas and scholars. All of these threats have intensified in recent years – and recent months have given them a reality that is hard to ignore.
theeconomiccollapseblog.com / By Michael Snyder, on February 26th, 2017
J.C. Penney and Family Christian Stores are the latest retail giants to announce widespread store closings. As you will see below, J.C. Penney plans to close between 130 and 140 stores, and Family Christian is closing all of their 240 stores. In recent months the stock market has been absolutely soaring, and so most people have simply assumed that the “real economy” must be doing well. But that is not the case at all. In fact, the retail apocalypse that I have been documenting for quite some time appears to be gaining momentum.
theorganicprepper.ca / Daisy Luther / February 26, 2017
Survival Saturday (or in this case, Survival Sunday) is a round-up of the week’s news and resources for folks who are interested in being prepared.
This Week in the News
This week on Survival Sunday, we’ll talk about the three Rs of the week. Radiation, Racism, and the horror-movie style Return of Hillary Rodham Clinton. As well, we’ll talk about preparedness in the face of the climate of incivility affecting America and I’ll share links to some other articles of interest.
What Is Causing the Mysterious Radiation Spike Across Europe?
Iodine-131 is a manmade radioactive material, and it is mysteriously creeping across the European continent toward the UK. Although a spike was initially discovered in Norway in January, authorities only announced it a few days ago after it had spread. (source)
Alarmingly, no one knows where it came from. Here are a handful of theories:
One of the first theories to crop up, was that perhaps the Russians had conducted some kind of illegal nuclear test. But if that were the case, then the Iodine-131 would be accompanied by other radioactive materials. In any case, it’s widely believed that the radiation really is coming from somewhere in eastern Europe, given that the way it has spread is remarkably similar to the radioactive plum that was emitted from Chernobyl.
In yet another ironic twist, the process (including random phone checks overseen by White House lawyers) by which Sean Spicer is cracking down on leaks from The White House has been leaked to Politico.
The push to snuff out leaks to the press comes after a week in which President Donald Trump expressed growing frustration with the media and the unauthorized sharing of information by individuals in his administration, and as was leaked to Politico…
Last week, after Spicer became aware that information had leaked out of a planning meeting with about a dozen of his communications staffers, he reconvened the group in his office to express his frustration over the number of private conversations and meetings that were showing up in unflattering news stories, according to sources in the room.
Los Angeles has a road network 42,720 miles long and it’s jammed with traffic. According to TomTom’s 2017 Traffic Index, LA commuters have to endure the worst traffic congestion levels of any U.S. city. Last year, they spent 44 minutes of extra travel time bumper to bumper every day, adding up to 170 hours throughout the year.
johngaltfla.com / by John Galt / February 26, 2017 20:55 ET
It has come to my attention that there are large swathes of the #NeverTrump movement who have moved from their staunch principled positions into a sphere of irrational berating of those who not only disagree with their viewpoints, but also now act like liberals as they demand you follow their lead. This display of purse clutching and pouting by the #NeverTrump forces is making the defeat they suffered in the Republican primaries and in November not only absurd, but somewhat pathetic because now the efforts are no longer grounded in principles, but bitter personal grudges which are apparent in the tone of their attacks.
The running themes promoted in the last five weeks are something like this:
We have to learn to hold hands with our Marxist enemies, oh, okay, we’ll just call them liberals or “the left” and leave it at that, and do whatever we can together to stop the tyranny of “The Donald” because after all, he’s primed to become a dictator.
America is doomed. President Trump is going to lead us to World War III because the Bilderberg Group will co-opt him and turn him into one of those alien zombies controlled by the bees from the X-Files, hence his family and money is protected forever as he randomly launches ICBM’s against other nations around the world. This is known as the “I can’t sell my survivalist goods and gold on my website conspiracy theory” theory.
Another Trump nominee for a critical government role has decided to withdraw. After two prior Trump nominees, Army Secretary choice Vincent Viola and Labor nominee Andy Puzder, both removed themselves from consideration for their appointed role in recent weeks citing insurmountable opposition or conflicts, moments ago financier Philip Bilden, a senior advisor at HarbourVest Asia and President Trump’s pick to lead the Navy, was said to become the third Trump appointee to withdraw his nomination.
“Philip Bilden has informed me that he has come to the difficult decision to withdraw from consideration to be secretary of the Navy,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement Sunday evening. He added that “this was a personal decision driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests.”
Bilden’s vast financial holdings, many of which he earned in Hong Kong, would have made it difficult for him to survive the scrutiny of the Office of Government Ethics, USNI News reported.
Bilden, who built his career in Hong Kong with the investment firm HarbourVest, was a surprise pick for the Navy post but had been Mattis’ preferred candidate. Yet like billionaire investment banker Vincent Viola, who withdrew his nomination to be secretary of the Army earlier this month, Bilden ran into too many challenges during a review by the Office of Government Ethics to avoid potential conflicts of interest, the sources said.
EM FX ended last week on a soft note despite lower US rates. The dollar regained some traction that it lost over the course of the week, when markets pushed out Fed tightening beyond March. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin also seemed to push out fiscal stimulus. There is a full slate of Fed speakers this week, and Wednesday sees the release of the Fed’s Beige book that was prepared for the March 15 FOMC meeting.
Idiosyncratic events helped EM last week too, as MXN was boosted by the FX hedging plan and signs of thawing US-Mexico relations. Looking ahead, China gives us its first glimpse of the mainland economy in February. EM trade and inflation data for February will also start to be reported, with stronger growth and rising price pressures making a case for monetary tightening this year in Asia and EMEA.
Mexico reports January trade Monday, with a deficit of -$2.92 expected. Exports have risen y/y for two straight months now, driven by both petroleum and manufacturing. Imports have also risen y/y for two straight months now, driven mostly by intermediate goods. Consumer and capital goods imports are contracting still. Banco de Mexico releases its quarterly inflation report Wednesday.
In response to a FOIA request the US Mint has finally released reports drafted from 1993 through 2008 related to the physical audits of the US official gold reserves. However, the documents released are incomplete and reveal the audit procedures have not been executed proficiently. Moreover, because the Mint could not honor its promises in full the costs ($3,144.96 US dollars) of the FOIA request have been refunded.
Thanks to my readers that donated to the crowdfunding campaign I’ve been able to force the US Mint through a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request to hand over documents related to the physical audits of the US official gold reserves stored at the Mint; also referred to as Deep Storage gold. Although the PDF-package digitally sent to me is redacted, incomplete, includes pages copied twice and materials I didn’t ask for, it’s the closest thing that I’ve ever seen to physical audit documentation of gold at Fort Knox and the other Mint depositories drafted in between 1993 and 2008.
What is worrying is that the reports now in my possession reveal the audit procedures have not competently been executed. Combine that with the fact the documents are incomplete and redacted, and the result is suspicion of fraud. In this blog post we’ll have a first critical look at the reports and the problems to be found within.
Warren Buffett released his annual letter over the weekend, in which he praised Jack Bogle as his “hero” for promoting index investing. The irony is that investors would have been better off buying Berkshire shares. Over the last 10 years, Berkshire stock is up 139% while the S&P 500 is up 71%. The real question is why Buffett just doesn’t tout his own stock rather than promote index investing. He tries to explain himself:
“Charlie and I prefer to see Berkshire shares sell in a fairly narrow range around intrinsic value, neither wishing them to sell at an unwarranted high price – it’s no fun having owners who are disappointed with their purchases – nor one too low.”
Buffett is doing something every skilled salesman does: managing expectations. Buffett’s own performance is compared against the S&P 500, and what better way to win that game than by putting a floor under the Berkshire price with the promise of share buybacks and then putting a ceiling on the stock by promoting index investing? The real secret is Buffett is talking his book by not talking it: Rather than tell investors to buy Berkshire at any price, he tells people to invest passively through an index, which leads to the very market inefficiencies that he profits from.
A former White House Budget Director has warned that the U.S. Treasury could run out of money by June 2017, sparking riots and civil unrest across America.
According to an interview with David Stockman, a controversial deal made between former Speaker of the House John Boehner and former President Barack Obama in 2015, will result in the “mother of all debt ceiling crises,” by the summer of 2017 which will see a giant “fiscal bloodbath” for Americans.
zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Feb 26, 2017 6:33 PM
As recently as two weeks ago, a repeat Scottish independent referendum seemed improbable.
As Reuters reported on February 10, according to a senior British minister, Britain saw no need for a second Scottish independence referendum and the devolved Scottish government should focus on improving the economy and tacking domestic issues rather than “flirting with secession.”
Meanwhile, an opinion poll published in early February showed support for Scottish independence rose after PM Theresa May proposed making a clean break with the European Union, stoking speculation that Scotland could demand another secession vote. Such a move would present yet another major challenge for the ruling Conservative party as a demand for a second independence referendum from Scotland’s devolved government would throw the United Kingdom into a constitutional crisis just as PM May seeks to negotiate the terms of the Brexit divorce with the EU’s 27 other members.
May had repeatedly said she does not believe there is any need for a second independence vote in Scotland as 55.3% of Scots voted to stay in a 2014 referendum. In that vote, 44.7% of Scots voted for independence.
news.goldseek.com / By David Haggith / 26 February 2017
As we enter 2017, housing bubbles are showing signs of bursting all over the world. I know I’ve been promising I would lay out the economic headwinds for 2017, but 2017’s headwinds are building so fast and furious that I’m having to break that promised article out into several articles, as I’m accumulating material faster than I have time to cover.
I’m going to start with the housing bubbles that are now extremely evident in the US, Canada and Australia, noting that housing is also insane in its own weird way in China again and in many other parts of the world. The point I want to make is that, with housing bubbles now at the peak of popping in several parts of the world, this coming housing market collapse could make the US housing market crash of 2007-2009 look like the warm-up act, and housing is just one area of the global economy that is showing signs of high peril.
A 2017 housing bubble collapse in the US may be in the cards
As I wrote in “The Inevitability of Economic Collapse,” the whole US economy is a house of cards, but particularly the US housing economy where we have done everything we possibly can to pile up a potential housing collapse as precariously as we did last time around just so we can watch it all fall down again.
The hard push to get back to where we were in 2006 has been on for about seven years. In the past few months, housing has been on its fastest tear in the US with the number of new permits being issued for construction in 2017 particularly leaping up like a spring lamb, and that’s with prices that are now generally higher than they were at their peak in 2006. We are showing all the same evidence of an irrational market that we showed going into the Great Recession:
That peak was only attained because of lax credit, which made an expanding number of purchases possible after prices went beyond what people could afford. Since wages in real terms (having only recently started to rise in a few industries) are not any better than they were back in the housing crash of ’07-’09 , today’s higher prices are actually less sustainable without dangerously lax loan terms than they were back then.
On the heels of another record breaking week for the Dow, legend Art Cashin just issued a dire warning.
Eric King: “When you look at the stock market, Art, we keep hitting one record high after another on the Dow. As the market continues to melt-up, do you sometimes step back and say, ‘I’ve seen this movie before and it doesn’t always have a good ending?’”
Art Cashin: “Well, it’s funny you say that. I wrote in my comments yesterday about the fact that the Dow being up nine consecutive record closes has only happened five times since 1897. And in virtually all of those cases it didn’t end well. It didn’t end badly immediately after the streak was broken but a year or so later there were problems. The most recent time we’ve seen it they had 12 records in a row in early 1987, (laughter) and we all have some scars from what happened later in 1987. It also happened in 1929.
King World News note: Here is the brief written portion that Cashin is referring to:
zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Feb 26, 2017 6:08 PM
Not only is the Trump rally over, but stocks are the last to get the memo. That’s the current market summary according to DoubleLine’s Jeff Gundlach who told Reuters that “there is a stealth flight to safety going on.”
Among key indicators, Gundlach pointed to German Bunds and especially Schatz (2Yr), noting that “German bond yields are leading the way down,” adding that “Gold is rising.” He also warned that “speculators remain massively short bonds and the market is going to squeeze them out.”
As we showed last Friday, the yield on German Schatz plunged to a record -0.96%. Earlier that day, Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid said “I’ve no idea why Bunds are rallying so hard at the moment.”
"Anyone who claims to stand for free markets, free trade, and limited government but who attempts to defend the existence or importance of the Federal Reserve or central banking is a liar. Either you support free markets and freedom of pricing or you support central bank price-fixing and creeping socialism. There is no third way or middle road — socialism and the free market are mutually incompatible. A little bit of socialism in the form of price-fixing is like a little bit of gangrene, if left unchecked it will eventually infect and kill the whole." - Paul-Martin Foss via The Mises Institute