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Mnuchin Tells IMF He Expects A “Frank And Candid” Exchange Rate Analysis

zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Feb 21, 2017 3:41 PM

With the Trump administration having gone radio silent in recent weeks on the issue of currency manipulation and whether it sees the dollar, or other currencies, as under- or over-valued, there was a notable if vague update from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who spoke to the IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Tuesday and told her that he expects the IMF to provide “frank and candid” analysis of exchange rate policies.

There was no elaboration of what the apriori US stance was coming into the conversation.

The spokesperson said that in a phone call with Lagarde, Mnuchin also “noted the importance that the administration places on boosting economic growth and jobs in the United States, and looked forward to robust IMF economic policy advice on its member countries and tackling global imbalances.”

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Why We Could Be on the Verge of a Major Selloff

caseyresearch.com / Justin Spittler / February 21, 2017

It’s a seller’s market.

You might think that’s a misprint. After all, the Dow Jones Industrial Average just topped 20,000 for the first time ever. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are at record highs, too.

In short, greed is in the air. And that’s exactly why you should be nervous about U.S. stocks.

But don’t take our word for it. Take it from Warren Buffett, arguably the best investor of all time:

Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.

Today, we’re going to show you just how greedy investors have become. As you’ll see, now might be the perfect time to step aside and wait for the next big buying opportunity.

• The U.S. stock market has been abnormally calm…

As of today, the S&P 500 has gone 50 days without a 1% move. That’s the longest stretch without a big move since 1970.

But that’s not all.

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Day 121 – DynCorp Harvest, Killing Is Good Business, Part 3

George Webb, Published on Feb 21, 2017

ISIS Suicide Bomber Identified As Former Guantanamo Detainee

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zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Feb 21, 2017 3:20 PM

A photograph released by ISIS of a suicide bomber in Mosul has been confirmed as British ex-Guantanamo detainee Jamal Al-Harith, who, as we previously detailed, fled to Syria after his release.

U.S. officials have said that about 30 percent of released detainees are suspected to have returned to the battlefield, including at least 12 freed during the administration of President George W. Bush who went on to launch attacks that killed about a half-dozen Americans. The exact number remains classified.

In January we noted a jihadi from Britain who claims to be a former Guantanamo Bay detainee has fled to Syria where he is now fighting for Al Qaeda.

Al-Britani claims he ‘spent years’ at Guantanamo Bay, where more than 700 of the world’s most dangerous Islamic terrorists were imprisoned in the aftermath of 9/11.

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Gold and Silver Divergence Indicates an Unstable Market

johngaltfla.com / by John Galt / February 21, 2017 05:20 ET

Last week’s moves in gold and silver provided a divergent point in the precious metals markets as silver broke through a short term resistance point of $18 per oz., while gold struggled to continue it’s upward blitz.

First gold, which put on a show to start the week but then stalled at the $1240 level:

Unless gold can complete the move through the technically important $1280 level with improved volume to break the downtrend in participation for the metal, the price will probably roll over and retest the December 2016 lows.

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NEW RECORD HIGHS FOR THE MARKETS. Plus Gold & Silver Updates. By Gregory Mannarino

Gregory Mannarino, Published on Feb 21, 2017

SocGen: “The Average Stock Is Still 26% Down From Their All-Time Highs”

zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Feb 21, 2017 2:03 PM

With the S&P making new all time highs on a daily (and hourly) basis, and the VIX just why of all time lows, one has to look hard to find something that is amiss with the “market.” Which is precisely what SocGen’s Andrew Lapthorne did recently, and in his latest report he warns that global indices hitting all time highs is “disguising an underbelly of trouble.”

Laphtorne notes that global equity markets continue to move higher, with both the MSCI & FT World Indices hitting all-time highs last week and the S&P 500 specifically hitting a new closing high on Friday. So all would appear to be rosy in the equity market with the consensus promising higher EPS growth in 2017 and bond yields remaining reasonably well behaved despite higher headline rates of inflation and a very slightly more hawkish tone from the US Federal Reserve.

However, the SocGen strategist warns that if one scratches below the surface of these headline numbers and all is not as it seems.

First example: out of the 1,650 MSCI World stocks only 246 have hit a new all-time high this year.

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Stock Trading Alert: Positive Expectations As Investors Bet On More Uptrend

sunshineprofits.com / PAUL REJCZAK / FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Stock Trading Alert originally sent to subscribers on February 21, 2017, 6:56 AM.

Briefly: In our opinion, speculative short positions are favored (with stop-loss at 2,410, and profit target at 2,200, S&P 500 index).

Our intraday outlook is now bearish, and our short-term outlook is bearish. Our medium-term outlook remains neutral, following S&P 500 index breakout above last year’s all-time high:

Intraday outlook (next 24 hours): bearish
Short-term outlook (next 1-2 weeks): bearish
Medium-term outlook (next 1-3 months): neutral
Long-term outlook (next year): neutral

The main U.S. stock market indexes were mixed between 0.0% and +0.4% on Friday, extending their short-term consolidation along new record highs, as investors reacted to quarterly earnings, economic data releases, among others. The S&P 500 index remained close to its Thursday’s new all-time high of 2,351.31. The Dow Jones Industrial Average continued to trade above the level of 20,600, and the technology Nasdaq Composite Index reached its new record high above the level of 5,800. All three major indexes trade along their record highs. Will the market extend its year-long medium-term uptrend even further before some more meaningful downward correction? The nearest important level of support of the S&P 500 index is at around 2,320, marked by last Monday’s daily gap up of 2,319.23-2,321.42. The next support level is at around 2,300-2,310, marked by previous level of resistance and Friday’s daily gap up of 2,311.08-2,311.10. We can see some short-term volatility following three-month-long rally off last year’s November low at around 2,100. Is this a topping pattern before downward reversal? The uptrend accelerates, and it looks like a blow-off top pattern accompanied by some buying frenzy. The S&P 500 index trades above its medium-term upward trend line, as we can see on the daily chart:

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Day 121 – DynCorp Harvest, Killing Is Good Business, Part 2

George Webb, Published on Feb 21, 2017

Is A Trump-Putin Detente Dead?

zerohedge.com / by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org / Feb 21, 2017 1:40 PM

Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that he read the nation and the world better than his rivals.

He saw the surging power of American nationalism at home, and of ethnonationalism in Europe. And he embraced Brexit.

While our bipartisan establishment worships diversity, Trump saw Middle America recoiling from the demographic change brought about by Third World invasions. And he promised to curb them.

While our corporatists burn incense at the shrine of the global economy, Trump went to visit the working-class casualties. And those forgotten Americans in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, responded.

And while Bush II and President Obama plunged us into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Trump saw that his countrymen wanted to be rid of the endless wars, and start putting America first.

He offered a new foreign policy. Mitt Romney notwithstanding, said Trump, Putin’s Russia is not “our number one geopolitical foe.”

Moreover, that 67-year-old NATO alliance that commits us to go to war to defend two dozen nations, not one of whom contributes the same share of GDP as do we to national defense, is “obsolete.”

Many of these folks are freeloaders, said Trump. He hopes to work with Russia against our real enemies, al-Qaida and ISIS.

This was the agenda Americans voted for. But what raises doubt about whether Trump can follow through on his commitments is the size and virulence of the anti-Trump forces in this city.

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Lobbyists vs. Lobbyists in Tax Code Revamp: Six Reasons a BAT is a Bad Idea

mishtalk.com / Mike “Mish” Shedlock / February 21, 2017

The battle of exporters vs. importers heated up today as a consortium of 16 exporters including GE, Caterpillar, Dow, and Pfizer fired off a Letter to Congress Backing a Levy on Importers.

The heads of GE, Boeing, and other large corporations have warned that the US may not have another opportunity to revamp its tax code for 30 years if it misses out on a chance to do so now amid uproar over a proposed import tax.

In a letter to Congress, 16 chief executives from exporters including Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, and Pfizer issued their strongest statements of support yet for the import tax, which retailers, oil refiners, and other importers are fighting to kill.

“If we miss this chance to fundamentally reshape the tax code, it might take another 30 years before we have another chance to try,” the chief executives write in a letter to be sent on Tuesday.

The lobbying war between importers and exporters — whose products would go untaxed if shipped overseas under the plan — has already slowed the writing of legislation and prompted some senators to come out against the House plan.

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U.S. Colleges Continue to Get Ripped Off by Hedge Funds

libertyblitzkrieg.com / Michael Krieger

This post covers a theme I’ve discussed on many occasions over the past several years, namely how “alternative asset managers” are making enormous sums of money by ripping off public pensions as well as college endowments. Send this to anyone who naively tells you we live in a meritocracy. The sad truth of the matter, is we operate within an economy which incentivizes all of the worst types of behavior, where people can earn millions of dollars a year while failing.

Don’t believe me? Read the following excerpts from a recently published piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education, How Colleges Lost Billions to Hedge Funds in 2016:

peculiar thing happened in 2016. While the Dow Jones industrial average grew by more than 13 percent, college endowments saw nearly a negative 2 percent rate of return. The worst endowment performance took place at the nation’s wealthiest private institutions. Harvard’s endowment alone shrank by $2 billion, a 5-percent decline. Out of the 40 biggest endowments, 35 declined in value.

What’s going on here?

A key factor is poor performance by the hedge-fund gurus that institutions have increasingly paid to manage their investment portfolios. Colleges have reason to be angry because hedge funds charge high fees even when they lose money. Colleges and universities spent an estimated $2.5 billion on fees for hedge funds in 2015 alone. They paid an estimated 60 cents to hedge funds for every dollar in investment returns between 2009 and 2015, according to a report by the Strong Economy for All Coalition. These fees helped each of the top five U.S. hedge-fund managers earn more than $1 billion in 2015 despite mixed performance.

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New DHS Memos Reveal That Almost Anyone Living In The US Illegally Is Now Subject To Deportation

zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Feb 21, 2017 1:20 PM

The Department of Homeland Security released on Tuesday documents translating President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and border security into policy, providing details on how it will prosecute undocumented immigrants and criminal immigrants, repealing nearly all of the Obama administration’s guidances, and bringing a major shift in the way the agency enforces the nation’s immigration laws.

As the WSJ notes, “almost everybody living in the U.S. illegally is now subject to deportation, and more undocumented arrivals at the southern border would be jailed or sent back to Mexico to await a hearing rather than released into the U.S.” according to the new guidance.

“The Department no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” the enforcement memo says. “Department personnel have full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom an immigration officer has probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws.”

Secretary John Kelly’s two memos expand raids and the definition of criminal aliens, while diminishing sanctuary areas and enlisting local law enforcement to execute federal immigration policy.

The memos still outline priority groups, starting with serious criminals. But the priorities are much broader and include people charged with crimes who haven’t been convicted, people guilty only of immigration-related crimes such as using false documents, and anybody who an immigration officer believes is a risk to public safety.

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Primary Budget Balances in EMU

marctomarket.com / by Marc Chandler / Feb 21, 2017

With the official creditors on their way back shortly to Athens, there is a sense that a repeat of 2015 crisis can be avoided. There is a collective sigh of relief. The generic two-year yield was pushing around 10% in the last couple of weeks and now is at 8.16%, the new low for the month. The generic 10-year yield reached 8.1% at the end of last week and is now 7.22%, also new lows for February.

To be sure, Greece is not getting another tranche of aid, but it doesn’t really need it until closer to July when a large debt servicing bill comes due. Still, there is appears to be a window of opportunity, and several European finance minister wants to shift the focus from budget cuts to structural reforms. The tax system, pensions, and the labor market are the focus of such efforts.

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Trump’s Nuclear Option for the Media: No More Press Conferences

garynorth.com / Gary North / February 21, 2017

I had specific suggestions for Trump on how to run his press conferences. Obviously, he did not take my suggestion seriously. I doubt that he ever saw this.

In a recent tweet, he identified the media as the enemy of the American people. That threw down the gauntlet.

The media are surely enemies of Trump. He can never get them to be anything except completely opposed to him and his presidency. They have shown that there is no trace of neutrality in the media. Those of us who knew that back in the 1950’s can point to this as confirmation. Trump now has received the memo.

Why should Trump ever hold another press conference? Why should he have a press secretary? Why should he give the media the time of day?

The media needs news. Presidents have provided low-cost, easy-access news ever since Teddy Roosevelt began the tradition in 1901. It has always favored the Left.

In the past, the Presidents have tried to put their spin on particular stories. They have done this by letting reporters have access to them. But there will be no positive spin for Trump or his policies. The media are 100% on attack mode. So, he can get no positive spin through them.

Why should he seek to get any spin at all? He doesn’t need the media. The media are opposed to him, and he can never win them back. Why should he show up at a press conference? What benefit is this going to give him?

What good is a press secretary? Why should a President allow some salaried employee to speak on behalf of the presidency? The President should speak for the President. Nobody else should.

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Direct Bid Surges In Strong 2 Year Auction, Bid To Cover Highest Since August

zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Feb 21, 2017 1:16 PM

One look at the repo market ahead of today’s $26 billion auction of 2Y paper explains why with the When Issued trading at 1.235% at 1pm, the auction stopped through by 0.5 bps, printing at 1.230% – the reason was familiar: with the OTR issue trading negative in repo, it suggested there were quite high odds of a squeeze into the auction, and the headline print confirmed as much.

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“There is No Market, Only Trump.”

gainspainscapital.com / Graham Summers / 

Those who lived through the ‘80s will undoubtedly remember the famous scene from the original Ghostbusters in which Bill Muray’s character goes to see Sigourney Weaver.

Unbeknownst to Murray, Weaver’s character has been possessed by a demonic spirit. And every time he states to her, “I want to talk to Dana” (the name of Weaver’s character in the movie), she responds, “There is no Dana, only ZUL!!!”

Today’s market is a bit like this, with stocks having been complete and utterly possessed by President Donald Trump.

In the last month, it’s become absolutely CLEAR that Trumps’ fiscal stimulus, tax proposals, and even Obamacare Repeal will not be passed soon… if at all.

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Bloomberg News Admits The Fed Manipulates Gold

investmentresearchdynamics.com / Dave Kranzler / 

“Yellen Can’t Halt Trump Gold Rally That Funds Bet Against” – That was the headline in a Bloomberg news report that was released on Sunday afternoon. There’s a lot going on in that headline – none of it accurate except for the fact that gold is moving higher despite the efforts of western Central Banks to cap the price.

The basic premise of the report is that gold is moving higher in defiance of the Fed’s apparent move to raise interest rates. Reading through the report reveals even more misleading and completely false information than is conveyed by the headline. Here’s a link if you want to read the article:  Bloomberg/Yellen/Gold.

The headline itself and the article content are both highly problematic, riddled with disinformation and completely inaccurate assertions.  Anyone actually who might have read the article and trusted the content has been taken down to “ground zero” intellectually.  Propaganda for the ignorant.  I will be reviewing several ways in which the article content is inaccurate, if not intentionally fraudulent, in the upcoming issue of the Mining Stock Journal.

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Hedge Fund Liquidity Plunges To “Danger Zone” For US Stocks

zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Feb 21, 2017 1:00 PM

Simply put, the massively overcrowded hedge fund herding into US equities has created a crisis situation. With liquidity levels at record lows, the market will be unable to smoothly absorb any concerted selling pressure from large money managers.

“When hedge funds get spooked about something and they all delever, there are going to be small pockets that get disproportionately hurt,” Altshuller said.

“Certain stocks are down 20, 40 percent with no apparent reason. Others catch the fear bug and start selling.”

There’s safety in numbers, Bloomberg’s Lu Wang notes, until a stampede starts. That’s the theory underlying a study of hedge fund holdings by Novus Partners Inc., which sought to calculate how easily the market could absorb concerted selling by large money managers. Using an analysis that turns mainly on how much volume is occurring in stocks favored by professional speculators, Novus says liquidity is at an all-time low.

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Trump’s New Immigration Order Calls For Mass Deportations into Mexico

ibankcoin.com /  / Feb 21, 2017 

The details are sketchy, but the new Trump order will call for plans to deport up to 11 million illegal immigrants, even those who aren’t Mexican, but transported into the United States via Mexico.

To do this, the United States would need to inform the Mexican government of our plans, which have been met with fierce resistance in the Mexican senate.

One Senator, Zoe Robledo, ironically, said Mexico shouldn’t accept because the influx of migrants into Mexico would put a lot of pressure on the Mexican population. Is he serious?

“This is an enormous mistake that Mexico shouldn’t accept,” Senator Zoe Robledo said by telephone.

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WGC on Gold Demand in 2016

sunshineprofits.com / ARKADIUSZ SIEROŃ / FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Earlier this month, the World Gold Council (WGC) published a new edition of its annual report on gold demand. What does Gold Demand Trends Full Year 2016 say about the demand for gold in 2016?

Full-year gold demand amounted to 4,309 tons, which means a 2 percent jump. That upward move was driven by inflows of 532 tons to ETFs. It means that global demand for gold-backed ETFs and similar products was the highest since 2009. On the other hand, central bank demand was the lowest since 2010, while jewelry demand marked a 7-year low, confirming that consumers are price takers, not price setters, therefore they do not drive the price of gold, which is shaped by investment demand. Technology demand declined again, while the total supply grew 5 percent, due to surge in recycling. What is, however, the most important is that investment demand was up 70 percent, as 2016 saw an unprecedented degree of political and market uncertainty. But after three successive quarters of ETF inflows, the outcome of the U.S. presidential election triggered outflows in the last quarter of 2016. Gold started 2017 on a bright note, but we have to wait yet to see whether gold ETFs regain their luster this year.

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Homeland Security Staff Suddenly “Locked Out” Of Computer Networks

zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Feb 21, 2017 12:45 PM

Questions are being raised about the possibility of a cyber-attack after Reuters reports several sources confirm U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees in the Washington area were unable to access some agency computer networks this morning.

It was not immediately clear how widespread the issue was or how significantly it affected daily functions at DHS, a large government agency whose responsibilities include immigration services, border security and cyber defense.

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French Bond Yield Climbs to 4-Year High vs. German Bund

financialsense.com / GARY DORSCH / 02/21/2017

On February 7th, France’s Finance chief Michel Sapin, trying to stem the rise in French borrowing costs in recent weeks, on uncertainty regarding the outcome of the upcoming French election, warned traders who were betting against the Euro and betting a on victory by Marine Le Pen, – they are guaranteed to lose a lot of money. “Those who, in good faith or by speculation, bet against France because they think Le Pen can win are not only wrong, but I’ll be frank: they will lose a lot of money. I don’t know where the government bonds yield spread will be by April, maybe higher, but you’ll have a very, very quick drop after the presidentials,” he said.

Uncertainty about the outcome of the election, taking place in two rounds on April 23 and May 7, has lifted the premium that investors demand for holding 10-year French bonds over German Bunds to +75-basis points last week, its highest for almost four years. Sapin, a French political veteran, said some investors didn’t seem to understand the French electoral system, which he said would guarantee anyone facing Le Pen in May’s runoff an easy victory with about 60% to 70% of votes. “That’s the reason why Marine Le Pen will never be elected in France,” he told a group of European journalists.

Even though Le Pen looks certain to reach the head-to-head second round, all opinion polls show she will be soundly beaten by whoever she faces, with independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, currently in top poll position to defeat her. Sapin said observers were wrong to draw parallels with Britain’s decision to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s election in the US, which had both caught markets off guard. “Saying: ‘since we were wrong once, wrong twice, we’re wrong on Le Pen’ is to not understand anything about France.”

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FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER, CONVICTED PEDOPHILE, AND POS DENNIS HASTERT SUING HIS VICTIM FOR ‘BREACH OF SILENCE’

thedailysheeple.com / 

When Pizzagate made its way to headlines around the world, many dismissed it as fake news, with no basis in reality. Whether or not the details alleged in Pizzagate are valid or not, it doesn’t detract from the reality that pedophilia is a real thing that does involve members holding the highest office in the US government. Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is living proof. Once third in line to ascend to the presidency, Hastert was outed for raping children in 2015.

One of his victims, who has only been identified as ‘Individual A’ in court documents, was illegally paid off to stay quiet. It was this payoff that eventually led to his having to explain the payment, which ultimately led to his outing as a pedophile. After his outing as a child molester, Hastert was indicted and pleaded guilty to various charges surrounding the molestation of multiple individuals. He avoided long term jail time, because the system is inherently corrupt. Hastert stated he took the plea agreement to avoid an embarrassing trial.

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Bitcoin Soars Above $1100, Near Record Highs As Chinese Bypass Crackdown

zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / Feb 21, 2017 12:31 PM

Despite concerted efforts by authorities to crackdown on capital outflows – specifically through virtual currencies – prices for Bitcoin are soaring as the Chinese find way around regulatory controls. Bitcoin just topped $1100 – near record highs – as Chinese traders shift their action off regulated-exchanges to local peer-to-peer marketplaces.

China’s central bank has stepped up oversight of bitcoin exchanges this year, leading major trading platforms to impose halts on withdrawals and other checks to appease the regulator. But, as Quartz reports, Chinese traders aren’t playing along—they are apparently flocking to peer-to-peer marketplaces to continue buying and selling bitcoin.

As Yuan trading on bitcoin exchanges has plummeted…

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