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The Virgin America brand will be dropped in 2019, Alaska Airlines announced Wednesday, three months after completing a $2.6-billion acquisition of the low-cost airline. Alaska Airlines had previously explored the idea of maintaining both brands. "While the Virgin America name is beloved to many, we concluded that to be successful on the West Coast we had to do so under one name -- for consistency and efficiency, and to allow us to continue to deliver low fares," Sangita Woerne, Alaska Alaska Airlines' vice president of marketing, said in a statement. Alaska said it would keep a number of Virgin amenities that have made it a favorite among fliers, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, music and its signature mood lighting. Since closing the sale, Alaska has announced routes to 21 new markets in its effort to be the dominant airline on the U.S. West Coast.
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North Korea has tested the patience of America for way too long, now that there is a new sheriff in town, President Trump, things may be different.
Ron Paul has some views on this too... Is North Korea about to launch an attack? Is it capable of being an existential threat to the US? Or is it possible that the threat is only made worse by continued US meddling in the dispute?
When a big story breaks while I'm at lunch, it can be a real pain in the ass. Instead of following it in real time, I have to rush around later trying to piece together what's happened. On the other hand, sometimes this is a blessing, because by the time I get to the story it's clearer what the real issue is. I think today is an example of the latter.
For starters, here's a nutshell summary of what happened. Devin Nunes, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, took the stage a few hours ago to declare himself "alarmed." He believes that some of Donald Trump's transition team might have been "incidentally" recorded during surveillance of foreign nationals. He won't say who. Nor will he say who the foreign nationals were, other than "not Russian." And as soon as he was done with his press conference, he trotted off to the White House to brief President Trump.
There are several problems here. First, Nunes didn't share any of this with Democrats on the committee. Second, incidental collection is both routine and inevitable in foreign surveillance. Congress has had ample opportunity to rein it in if they wanted to, and they never have. Third, if this was part of a criminal investigation, Nunes may have jeopardized it by going public. Fourth, the chair of the Intelligence Committee isn't supposed to be briefing the president on the status of an investigation into the president's activities.
This is plenty to embarrass the great state of California, from which Nunes hails. But for what it's worth, I don't think any of this is the biggest issue. This one is:
He claims to have gotten the information personally from an unspecified source, and had not yet met with FBI Director James Comey to review the raw intelligence intercepts he was provided. Why would he go public without first consulting spies to see if what he had was actually worth sharing with the public?
Oh. This is one of those deals where the Republican chair of a committee gets some information; releases a tiny snippet that makes Republicans look good; and then eventually is forced to release the entire transcript, which turns out to be nothing at all like the snippet. We've seen this gong show a dozen times in the past few years.
My advice: ignore everything Nunes said. He's obviously carrying water for Trump, hoping to drive headlines that vaguely suggest the Obama administration really was listening in on Trump's phone calls. I gather that he's succeeded on that score. For now, though, there's no telling what this raw intel really says. Eventually the intelligence community will provide analysis, and committee Democrats will get to see the transcripts too. Then we'll have a fighting chance of knowing whether it's important or not. In the meantime, everything Nunes said is literally worthless. He's not "probably right" or "probably wrong." He's nothing.
Live feed from SkyNews:
The moment that shots rang out...
— Yahoo UK News (@YahooNewsUK) March 22, 2017
Images show aftermath of terror attack on Westminster Bridge, where a vehicle mowed down several people pic.twitter.com/TxpDjWdaWr
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 22, 2017
A summary of the latest development from today's London terrorist attack, which has taken place on the one year anniversary of the March 2016 Brussels Massacre:
According to the UK's Mirror, the following is a photo of the moment the Parliament terror attack suspect is wheeled into an ambulance after being shot by police. The man, who was said to be "Asian, and middle-aged" in appearance, entered the grounds of the Houses of Parliament and stabbed a policeman just after 2.30pm this afternoon.
This is what is believed to be the series of events this afternoon where a knife attacker drove into pedestrians before he was shot
As the Daily Mail reports, a terror attacker brought carnage to central London today by mowing down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and attacking police with a knife in the grounds of the Houses of Parliament. At least 20 people are said to have been hit by a car on the bridge after a vehicle
described as a '4x4' drove into pedestrians and cyclists, with four people reportedly killed, including a police officer and the suspect.
The alleged vehicle that mowed down people
intruder, described by a witness as 'middle-aged and Asian', then managed to break into the grounds of the Parliament and stabbed a police officer before he was shot. An hour after the attack, paramedics removed one person from the scene after extensive CPR. Another body appeared to have been left on the ground covered by a red blanket.
A police officer was stabbed by the knifeman before he was shot by other officers.
Prime Minister Theresa May is said to have been bundled into a car by a plain-clothes police officer and driven quickly from the scene.
Scotland Yard said the attack, which comes a year to the day after the terrorist
atrocities in Brussels, is being treated 'as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise'.
Commons Leader David Lidington told MPs a 'police officer has been stabbed' and the 'alleged assailant was shot by armed police' following a 'serious' incident within the parliamentary estate.
Witness Jayne Wilkinson said: 'We were taking photos of Big Ben and we saw all the people running towards us, and then there was an Asian guy in about his 40s carrying a knife about seven or eight inches long. 'And then there were three shots fired, and then we crossed the road and looked over. The man was on the floor with blood.'
He had a lightweight jacket on, dark trousers and a shirt. He was running through those gates, towards Parliament, and the police were chasing him.'
Emergency teams were seen carrying out CPR inside the palace grounds in New Palace Yard
Her partner David Turner added: 'There was a stampede of people running out. You saw the people and you thought 'what the hell is going on'.'
Steve Voake, 55, was walking across the Westminster Bridge and saw at least two bodies lying on the road and one in the water.
'I saw a trainer lying in the road and when I looked more closely I saw that there were a couple of bodies the other side of the road,' he told the Press Association. 'And when I looked over the side there was another body lying in the water with blood all around it.'
An injured victim walks from the scene on Westminster Bridge where at least 10 people were reported knocked down
Mail journalist Quentin Letts saw the incident out of the window of a Commons office. He told the BBC: 'We heard this sound that sounded like a car crash… 'Then we saw a thick set man in black clothes come through the gates where people would normally drive cars 'This man had something in his hand. It looked like a stick. He was challenged by two policemen. The policeman fell down. 'We could see the man in black movinghis arm in a way that suggested he was either striking or stabbing.'
Kevin Schofield, the editor of PoliticsHome.com heard 'a very loud bang' from the press gallery inside the Houses of Parliament followed by lots of shouting and men running around. He initially thought it was a car crash but then he looked outside the window to a heavily-guarded area outside which is out of bounds to the public.
He told Sky News: 'Someone rushed through, attacked a policeman, a policeman went down, another policeman came and he was rescued. 'The man who had assaulted him got up and he appeared to be carrying either a knife or a gun. Then we heard gunfire, lots of gunfire, maybe five or six rounds. 'All I remember seeing is the man approaching the police officer probably with a knife and then there was gunfire.'
Eyewitness Rick Longley described the attack saying: 'We were just walking up to the station and there was a loud bang and a guy, someone, crashed a car and took some pedestrians out. 'They were just laying there and then the whole crowd just surged around the corner by the gates just opposite Big Ben. 'A guy came past my right shoulder with a big knife and just started plunging it into the policeman. I have never seen anything like that. I just can't believe what I just saw.'
After the incident, Radoslaw Sikorski posted a video to Twitter purporting to show people lying injured in the road on Westminster Bridge. Mr Sikorski, a senior fellow at Harvard's Centre for European Studies, wrote: 'A car on Westminster Bridge has just mowed down at least 5 people.'
People outside the palace could be seen running from the scene when the shots were heard. An eye witness said that a car was seen to mow down five people on Westminster Bridge. Police are then believed to have shot a man who tried to enter the Parliamentary Estate. The dramatic incident comes weeks after it was revealed that UK security services have foiled 13 potential attacks in less than four years, while counter-terrorism units are running more than 500 investigations at any time.
The official threat level for international terrorism has stood at severe, meaning an attack is 'highly likely', for more than two years. Liberal Democrat transport spokeswoman Baroness Randerson said countries seem to have been 'singled out based on religious beliefs'.
'Of course safety is paramount at all times and we all need to remain vigilant but this ban needs to be explained in detail,' she said.
* * *
— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) March 22, 2017
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 22, 2017
— David Sim (@davidsim) March 22, 2017
— KerstinWhatEver ???? (@Kerstinitsso) March 22, 2017
A car on Westminster Bridge has just mowed down at least 5 people. pic.twitter.com/tdCR9I0NgJ
— Rados?aw Sikorski (@sikorskiradek) March 22, 2017
A woman lies injured after a shooting incident on Westminster Bridge in London
Two people have reportedly been shot outside the U.K. parliament building in London, in a developing incident that may have taken place on the adjacent Westminster Bridge.
A parliamentary clerk told Reuters two people had been shot, but there was no official confirmation from the police. A Reuters photographer said he saw at least a dozen people injured on Westminster Bridge near the parliament building.
Reports said that a man was seen waving a knife and police said they treating the situation as a firearm incident.
* * *
Shots have been reportedly fired outside UK parliament in London, where two people have been reportedly shot outside the gates to parliament, Reuters and Bloomberg report with iTV adding that explosions heard outside British Parliament, the building on lockdown.
The Sun reports that a car mowed down a dozen pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.
According to SkyNews, waves of people' have been seen running from Parliament amid reports of gunfire, while Reuters adds that around six people are injured on Westminster Bridgeg.
As BBC adds, politicians and journalists have tweeted about hearing loud crashes outside the buildings, as witnesses said they saw people being treated for injuries.
Witnesses have reported seeing a man with a knife within the palace grounds.
A police officer has also told a BBC's political editor that someone has been shot outside Portcullis House.
Shots fired outside Parliament. Loud explosion then shooting. Man lying shot outside gates to Parliament. Gun shots outside, Frightening.
— Christopher Hope (@christopherhope) March 22, 2017
Reuters: BREAKING: Two people shot outside UK parliament, building in lock down - parliamentary official pic.twitter.com/77gW2yYYsz
— Ron Bourne (@Ron_Bourne) March 22, 2017
BREAKING: A car has driven into the railings of parliament. MPs panicking in the underground. pic.twitter.com/goQD2ctKce
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) March 22, 2017
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) March 22, 2017
— Alvaro (@varoc_) March 22, 2017
In 1988, a bank called Guardian Savings and Loan made financial history by issuing the first ever “subprime” mortgage bond.
The idea was revolutionary.
The bank essentially took all the mortgages they had loaned to borrowers with bad credit, and pooled everything together into a giant bond that they could then sell to other banks and investors.
The idea caught on, and pretty soon, everyone was doing it.
As Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera describe in their excellent history of the financial crisis (All the Devils are Here), the first subprime bubble hit in the 1990s.
Early subprime lenders like First Alliance Mortgage Company (FAMCO) had spent years making aggressive loans to people with bad credit, and eventually the consequences caught up with them.
FAMCO declared bankruptcy in 2000, and many of its competitors went bust as well.
Wall Street claimed that it had learned its lesson, and the government gave them all a slap on the wrist.
But it didn’t take very long for the madness to start again.
By 2002, banks were already loaning money to high-risk borrowers. And by 2005, all conservative lending standards had been abandoned.
Borrowers with pitiful credit and no job could borrow vast sums of money to buy a house without putting down a single penny.
It was madness.
By 2007, the total value of these subprime loans hit a whopping $1.3 trillion. Remember that number.
And of course, we know what happened the next year: the entire financial system came crashing down.
Duh. It turned out that making $1.3 trillion worth of idiotic loans wasn’t such a good idea.
By 2009, 50% of those subprime mortgages were “underwater”, meaning that borrowers owed more money on the mortgage than the home was worth.
In fact, delinquency rates for ALL mortgages across the country peaked at 11.5% in 2010, which only extended the crisis.
But hey, at least that’s never going to happen again.
Except… I was looking at some data the other day in a slightly different market: student loans.
Over the last decade or so, there’s been an absolute explosion in student loans, growing from $260 billion in 2004 to $1.31 trillion last year.
So, the total value of student loans in America today is LARGER than the total value of subprime loans at the peak of the financial bubble.
And just like the subprime mortgages, many student loans are in default.
According to the Fed’s most recent Household Debt and Credit Report, the student loan default rate is 11.2%, almost the same as the peak mortgage default rate in 2010.
This is particularly interesting because student loans essentially have no collateral.
Lenders make loans to students… but it’s not like the students have to pony up their iPhones as security.
That’s what made the subprime debacle so dangerous.
Millions of homes were underwater, so when borrowers didn’t pay, lenders didn’t have sufficient collateral to cover their loan exposure.
With student loans, there is no collateral. Lenders have no security to recoup their loans.
So when students don’t pay, someone is going to take a hit.
That ‘someone’ will likely be you.
That’s because hundreds of billions of dollars of these student loans are either owned or guaranteed by the United States government.
So as borrowers stop making payments, it’s the taxpayer who will suffer yet another massive loss.
Let’s be honest, though, there’s something seriously screwed up with this system.
Young people are pushed into this system by a society that places an irrationally high value on university degrees.
Kids are told for their entire lives that if they study hard to get into a good school, there will be a great career waiting for them.
For many young people this turned out to be a total lie.
In fact, Federal Reserve data once again show that, for at least 25% of college graduates, salaries are no higher than for people with just a high school diploma.
Racking up so much debt hardly seems worth it.
It seems bizarre to begin with that an 18-year old will know what s/he wants to do in life, to the point that they should take on $50,000 in debt for a piece of paper that might not even make them marketable.
What did any of us really know at age 18? And how many of us could have accurately predicted our life’s path?
And yet there’s an absurd amount of pressure to force young people into this system that heaps debt upon them.
If you’re a young person about to go down this path of debt, I’d suggest two alternatives:
1) Look overseas.
2) Seek mentorship.
The master-apprentice relationship worked well for thousands of years. And it’s so simple.
If you want to be successful, learn from successful people.
If you want to be great at something, find someone who’s already great at it and learn from them.
And if you’re not sure, find someone who you respect admire… someone whose activities and values excite you… and make yourself indispensable to that person
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the lawmaker overseeing one of the main investigations of the Trump-Russia scandal, went rogue on Wednesday when he told reporters that a source had provided him information that indicates that the US intelligence community collected intelligence on Trump associates—possibly Donald Trump himself—in the course of authorized surveillance aimed at other targets. Nunes, who chairs the House intelligence committee, said this happened during the transition period and was unrelated Russia's meddling in the 2016 campaign or to Trump associates' connections to Russia. Without revealing any real evidence of wrongdoing, Nunes suggested that something amiss had occurred when the identity of these Trump-related people were noted in reports disseminated in intelligence channels.
Nunes' theatrical press conferences—not one but two!—indicated he was perhaps more concerned about politics than national security and the protection of civil liberties. At his first presser, held in the Capitol, Nunes described the materials he had been given as "normal incidental collection" and "all legally collected foreign intelligence." Nonetheless, he said, he was "alarmed" by the fact that some of the Trump associates had been "unmasked" in the reports. ("Incidental collection" refers to Americans whose communications are monitored not because they are the target of the surveillance, but because the person they are communicating with is the target. The identities of these non-targeted Americans generally are supposed to remain hidden in intelligence reports, but there are rules that allow their identities to be unmasked in such reports when that provides needed context.)
Still, Nunes said he was rushing to the White House—without even having spoken to the Democratic members of his committee about this—to brief Trump immediately. "They need to see it," Nunes told reporters before he dashed off to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
But when asked whether Trump was specifically and intentionally targeted—a sensational claim that would bolster Trump's widely debunked March 4 tweets accusing former President Barack Obama of "wire tapping"—Nunes said he wasn't sure. In fact, nothing Nunes said would back up Trump's tweets. He was referring to legally authorized surveillance conducted under a court order that targeted a foreign intelligence source but that happened to also pick up Americans—not an uncommon occurrence.
At his White House press conference—following his meeting with Trump—a reporter asked, "But just to clarify, this is not intentional spying on Donald Trump?"
"I have no idea," Nunes replied. "We won't know that until we get to the bottom of: Did people ask for the unmasking of additional names within the president-elect's transition team?"
This was a disingenuous response. Nunes had earlier acknowledged he was only referring to officially authorized surveillance, which could not be ordered by a president. (There's a whole process through which the FBI and other intelligence agencies go to a special court to receive permission to conduct surveillance.) Yet here was Nunes slyly hinting that well, just maybe, this would back up Trump's fact-free charge. This was the tell. If he were only concerned with the unmasking of Americans caught up in incidental collection, Nunes could have instructed his committee staff to examine the matter and worked with Democrats on the committee on how best to handle the matter. Instead, he ran to the White House to share his information with the fellow who is the subject of an investigation Nunes is overseeing. Nunes was pulling a political stunt to provide Trump some cover.
And Trump took the cover. After Nunes' briefing, the president told reporters that he felt "somewhat" vindicated by what Nunes reported to the public on Wednesday. "I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found." The revelations, though, don't vindicate Trump at all; he accused President Obama of directing the phones in Trump Tower to be tapped in October. Nunes' new information refers to incidental collection after the election. Trump compared the situation to "Nixon/Watergate," and called Obama a "Bad (or sick) guy!" Nunes made clear the surveillance was legal. Trump suggested Obama had somehow broken the law.
Adding to the political nature of what Nunes did is the fact that he didn't consult with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House committee, before he briefed Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, reporters (twice), and the White House.
"I'm going to be meeting with Mr. Schiff at some point to talk about where we go with this investigation," Nunes told reporters when the issue came up after he briefed the president. "I had to brief the speaker first, then I had to talk to the CIA director, the NSA director, and I'm waiting to talk to the FBI director…Then I went and talked to all of you…and then I voted, and then I said I was coming here to brief the president, and then I'll be glad to talk to others later."
Schiff issued a statement Wednesday afternoon slamming Nunes' actions.
"This information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been," Schiff said. "Indeed it appears that committee members only learned about this when [Nunes] discussed the matter this afternoon with the press. [Nunes] also shared this information with the White House before providing it to the committee, another profound irregularity, given that the matter is currently under investigation. I have expressed my grave concerns with [Nunes] that a credible investigation cannot be conducted this way."
Schiff added that Nunes told him that most of the names within the intelligence reports were, in fact, masked, "but that he could still figure out the probable identity of the parties." This means that the intelligence agencies followed the law, Schiff said, and "moreover, the unmasking of a US Person's name is fully appropriate when it is necessary to understand the context of collected foreign intelligence information."
Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.), accused Nunes of leaking classified information.
Senate Intel Cmte member Ron Wyden says Nunes may have revealed classified info today. pic.twitter.com/kT9VZ52rqY— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 22, 2017
Jeremy Bash, who formerly served as chief counsel for the Democrats on the committee, said Wednesday that what Nunes did was unprecedented and very concerning.
"I don't think in the 40 years of the committee's existence, since the post-Watergate-era reforms, with the Church and Pike committees that emerged from those scandals, I have never heard of a chairman of an oversight committee going to brief the president of the United States about concerns he has about things he's read in intelligence reports," Bash told MSNBC Wednesday afternoon. "The job of the committee is to do oversight of the executive branch, not to bring them into their investigation or tip them off to things they may be looking at. I've got to believe that other members of the committee are horrified at what they just witnessed."
Ex-House Intel counsel: Nunes briefing Trump is a “breakdown in the entire oversight process,” other committee members likely “horrified” pic.twitter.com/aRn8dB3Ia6— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 22, 2017
President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort will host the opening reception Wednesday evening for a conference where a recently bankrupt coal company will be a guest of honor. The annual Distressed Investing Summit will bestow one of its "Restructuring Deal of the Year" awards to Arch Coal for clearing $5 billion in debt after it filed for bankruptcy in 2016.
"They emerged from bankruptcy in 2016 after shedding huge amount of debt, obligations to workers, and environmental cleanup," Sierra Club's Beyond Coal director Mary Anne Hitt says. "When a company is in bankruptcy, you don’t have a lot of leverage in there with all the lawyers and stakeholders. To have them feted at Mar-a-Lago as a turnaround is salt in the wound for workers and people representing the public interest."
The summit, hosted by financial company The M&A Advisor, has held its opening cocktail reception at Mar-a-Lago for the past two years, ever since Trump emerged as a serious contender for president. In its invitation email, M&A Advisor names Arch Coal as one of its winners alongside a number of other firms, including energy companies Alpha Natural Resources, Midstates Petroleum Company, and Venoco, an oil and gas development company.
Here's how the invitation describes Mar-a-Lago, "the new Winter White House":
The agenda for roundtables that are held at a nearby hotel reads like a laundry list of Trump's campaign themes: "Making America Great Again," "Informing and Silencing The Media," and the "Art of Dealmaking: Getting Deals Done In The New Economic Order."
Not everyone agrees that Arch Coal's 2016 bankruptcy deal warrants celebration. During the bankruptcy proceedings, environmental opposition forced the company to abandon its proposal that taxpayers should foot the entire bill to clean up its abandoned mines. The company also laid off hundreds of its miners that same year.
In the years before bankruptcy, United Mine Workers of America complained that Arch Coal moved 40 percent of its employees' health care coverage to Patriot Coal, a volatile offshoot company. When Patriot went under, those health benefits were at risk and continue to be because of Arch Coal's bankruptcy. Patriot and Arch Coal are only two examples of a larger problem. The union shop has been pressing Congress for a long-term solution for 22,000 miners' benefits in jeopardy because of coal bankruptcies—an issue that won't go away no matter what happens to federal environmental regulations.
The idea that the coal industry can recover is a cherished narrative for Trump. Earlier this week, at a campaign-style rally in Kentucky, the president claimed that he will "save our coal industry" and put miners back to work with executive orders that are expected any day. Trump likes to blame "terrible job-killing" regulations, but there are other pressures beyond federal regulation driving coal out of business, namely competitive natural gas.
Nonetheless, on Wednesday evening, a coal turnaround will be celebrated. Even though it might only be, as the Sierra Club's Hitt notes, "one of many of the alternative facts they like to celebrate at Mar-a-Lago."
Normal 0 false false false EN-CA X-NONE X-NONE Normal 0 false false false EN-CA X-NONE X-NONEHow Solid are Canada’s Big Banks? - Peter Diekmeyer
The World Economic Forum consistently ranks Canada’s banks among the world’s safest. Competent regulators have overseen stress tests, tightened lending standards and delinquency rates are low. Demographics are good and the country’s diversified economy is backed by a treasure of oil, wood, gold and other natural resources.
So the experts say.
Institutional investors, relying on the work of Jeremy Rudin, Canada’s chief bank regulator, agree. In fact Canadian financials accounted for 35.5% of the market capitalization of the benchmark exchange (NBF February).
However this façade hides major uncertainties. Key concerns stand out, which if unaddressed, could spark solvency and liquidity issues in one or more of Canada’s Big Six banks.
The fragilities can be seen in an IMF report, which calculated that Canada’s financial sector accounted for a stunning 500% of GDP in 2012. Today, the assets of the Big Six banks alone are more than double the size of the country’s economy.
Each (RBC, CIBC, Scotiabank, BMO, TD and National Bank) have been designated “systemically important,” which in turn, due to sheer size and interconnectedness, suggests that they are almost certainly “too big to fail.” That means the collapse of any one Big Bank, would threaten to trigger systemic implosion.
More ominously, if Canada’s financial system, arguably the world’s best, is riddled with pores, what does that say about the US, the UK, and Japan? Let alone Italy and Spain?
Yet signs of fragility are everywhere. Consider:
Complacency following “secret” $114 billion bailout
A quick review of key metrics suggests Canada’s banking sector, which, on the surface, largely escaped the 2008 financial crisis, has thus learned little from it.
As David Macdonald, demonstrated, in a paper for the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, Canada’s Big Banks benefitted from nearly $114 billion in cash, liquidity and other bailout help, from both local and US sources following the financial crisis.
“Three of Canada’s banks – CIBC, BMO, and Scotiabank – were at some point under water,” Macdonald writes. “With government support exceeding the value of the company.”
Sadly, details were largely kept secret Macdonald says, hidden in footnotes and legalese, where even the term “bailout” was shunned. Reforms that could have strengthened the system were thus avoided and the Canadian public remains largely unaware of the dangers.
(A Canadian Bankers Association spokesperson denied that any Canadian bank was bailed out or was in danger of failing, but conceded that the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (“Canada’s Fannie Mae”) bought up $69 billion worth of assets and that the Bank of Canada advanced additional liquidity funding).
“Canada’s Fannie Mae” piles on risk amidst residential real estate bubble
In March, the Economist magazine calculated that Canadian residential housing is 112% overvalued relative to rents and 46% overvalued relative to incomes. Even Canadian bank economists, enablers of previous excesses, now describe average Toronto prices, which surged 23% last year to CAD $727,000, as a bubble.
Canadian banks have lent into much of the excesses and “Canada’s Fannie Mae” (the CMHC) has guaranteed more than $500 billion in mortgages; almost as much as the US GSEs did relative to GDP, prior to the 2008 crisis.
Canadian banks have never seen a major real estate implosion
Because Canadian real estate prices never collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis to the degree they did in the US and the UK (let alone Japan), regulators, investors and analysts are totally unprepared for any such eventuality.
As noted above, there are no indications that any Canadian regulatory body such as OSFI or any financial institution has had a Japan style scenario gamed out by independent risk experts. This even though some Canadian demographic trends, particularly with regards to workforce aging and retirements for the coming decade are roughly similar to what Japan’s were, at the peak of its bubble.
Canadians are in record debt
Worse, Canadians are in debt up to their eyeballs. According to Statistics Canada the ratio of household credit market debt (this excludes government, financial and business debts) reached a record 166.9% of disposable income in the third quarter of 2016. That was up from 166.4% in the second quarter.
Inflated asset prices currently keep those debts under the rug. However asset price levels are temporary; debts linger.
Wolves are in charge of the henhouse
Another dangerous sign stems from the fact that all key stakeholders that facilitated the 2008 bubbles and ensuing crisis, escaped unnoticed. That means the wolves remain in charge of the henhouse.
For example as Macdonald notes in his paper, Gordon Nixon, CEO of RBC, Canada’s largest bank during the crisis, took in CAD $9.6 million in compensation in 2008, and $12.1 million in 2009.
Canadian bank CEOs and directors now figure that they’ll be bailed out and collect their bonuses, no matter what risks they take.
Bank CEOs aren’t alone in escaping blame for running the system into the ground in 2008. Most Canadians wouldn’t recognize David Dodge either, though as governor of the Bank of Canada, he fostered the easy-money policies which facilitated the debt and asset bubbles that led to the ensuing troubles.
OSFI: financial sector “group think” stress tests
Another key threat to Canada’s financial system relates to the “group think” that pervades top officials, which leads them to err simultaneously.
This is evident in the stress tests that various regulators (the IMF, OSFI, the BOC) have conducted or overseen on the big banks, which remain riddled with holes.
Shorn of business cycle theorists, the stress tests only considered scenarios based on Canada’s history dating back to the 1980s. This despite the fact that eight years of unconventional monetary policy suggests that there are high risks that Western economics are in the midst of a 1930s-style liquidity trap.
As if that were not enough, the stress tests only considered Canadian economic performance. But the first question a doctor will ask is what ailments there are in your family history. Canada’s family (the G-7) includes Japan. An obvious stress test scenario would have looked at Japanese metrics during the past two decades.
Worse, regulators allowed the banks themselves, to conduct the key bottom-up stress testing, rather than outsourcing the job to independent consultants. That’s like asking a drunk to check the inventory list in the wine closet, to make sure everything is still there. Finally, the stress tests appear to have omitted any probability of freezing up of key counterparties, as occurred with AIG during the 2008 crisis. What would happen if there was a 1% default in the notional value of the $1 quadrillion global derivatives market?  (a $10 trillion loss) We don’t know.
The fact that bureaucrats who looked away during the buildup to the 2008 financial crisis, weren’t reprimanded, will have major implications going forward. That’s because Jeremy Rudin, head of OSFI, the organization most closely charged with overseeing Big Bank stability, was one of those bureaucrats.
Rudin’s story is instructive, because it mirrors that of almost all key Canadian financial sector regulatory officials.
Rudin (according to his official biography) spent the pre-2008 crisis years, in increasing positions of responsibility in Canada’s finance ministry, which culminated in an assistant deputy minister posting. As insiders know, ADM is a crucial position, which gave Rudin, if he did his job well, better access to information and contacts than even his bosses had.
Yet during his years at the heart of the action, Rubin either saw no unusual risks building up, or he reported none.
(This on its own is stunning as there were clear warnings, well in advance, to anyone who was paying attention, from a slew of prognosticators (ranging from Robert Prechter, to Ian Gordon, Peter Schiff, Douglas Noland, Henry Liu and many others) of severe impending risks).
In either case, the chances that Mr. Rudin would identify systemic risks in Canada’s financial system if they existed today, or would forcefully report them to the public in a way they understood, are slim.
Worse, OSFI junior officials likely would not either.
In fact no Canadian regulatory official is allowed to speak to the press, without prior approval from the top. The career of any insider who forcefully publicly expressed doubts about sector solvency, liquidity or risk concerns, would essentially be over.
(OSFI spokesperson declined to comment on Mr. Rudin’s record prior to joining the organization).
Canadian bank accounting structures are lax, complex and opaque
Almost unnoticed during the 2008 financial crisis, was that Big Four audit firms all happily signed the financial statements of global big banks, including those in Canada, which only months later proved to be insolvent.
Nothing was said, because most Canadians, even seasoned investors and analysts, have little knowledge of the technical accounting standards, that govern the banks. That’s not surprising, because Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, the body that regulates the profession, keeps key information about those standards and how their audits are conducted behind a paywall. This makes it particularly difficult for the public to monitor its performance.
(A CPA Canada spokesperson declined to comment regarding the cost of a hard copy of one of its handbooks, referring questions to its online store, but said that to maintain regular, timely access to the changes would cost $145 a year ($1,450 for ten years + tax)).
Auditors can’t be sued for incompetence.
Furthermore, as Al Rosen of Accountability Research tirelessly points out, Canadian auditors essentially can’t be sued for incompetence. Their focus is thus naturally on maximizing audit fees and drumming up ancillary revenues from their clients; while presumably doing as little actual verification work as possible.
As such, there is a strong temptation to overlook fraud, error or incompetence.
New IFRS 9 standards may be worse than previous rules
New IFRS 9 accounting standards, which are currently being implemented throughout the Canadian financial sector, to address deficiencies identified in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, appear to be more of the same.
In fact in some key areas, notably the flexibility the new rules give managers to value loan impairments, the regulations are dangerous. Because these days accountants often use flexibility to make things look better than they really are.
Worse, because IFRS 9 rules give the appearance of addressing the issue of misstatements, while not actually doing so, they will almost certainly do more harm than good.
The reasonable investor can draw only one conclusion: bank financial statements are highly unreliable at best. And if they were wrong, no one would tell you.
Regulatory silos, amidst complexity and opacity
The biggest and most worrying challenge is that Canadian financial sector stakeholders have erected a variety of complex regulatory and information bodies; but none has clear overall authority and power to maintain system stability.
All have evolved into solid silos, which have little clue what the other organizations are doing. For example it is unclear whether economists at the Bank of Canada have internal access to the skills needed to comprehend a 200-page bank financial statement or to analyze a derivatives book.
The upshot is that likely not one Canadian financial regulator in a 100 can provide a decent global-macro assessment of system stability. Obvious steps, proposed by outsiders have been ignored, or deemed superfluous.
(Eg. A Glass-Steagall style break-up of the big banks, cleaning up Canada’s auditing industry, running regular stress tests conducted by independent consultants, using Japan-style scenarios, banning derivatives trading or tightening system credit).
One way to understand why regulatory safeguards are so faulty, is to assess bank auditors and regulators the same way they look at banks: as interest groups, whose main goal is to extract rents, fees, jobs and promotions from the system.
The key interest of the regulators in such a scenario, would be to foster maximum growth among the financial institutions they feed on. Surprisingly, judging from the aftermath of the previous financial crisis, regulators might well benefit from a recurrence, particularly if the institutions were once again bailed out with taxpayer funds.
OSFI, CMHC, the BOC, ratings agencies and the CPA Canada, are perennially engaged in power grabs, for more staff, budgets and bigger salaries.
A new financial crisis, would enable them to point the finger at each other, and to demand more laws, regulations and bigger budgets, to set things right. They’d likely get much of what they ask for.
In short, none have any interest in rocking the boat.
To a man, their risk experts missed the boat during the 2008 financial crisis.
None, based on research done for this article, will sound the whistle, before the next one occurs.
That said, the seasoned investor faces challenges. Just because a crisis is inevitable by no means implies that it is imminent.
The overwhelming support that Canada’s big banks get from regulators, auditors, rating agencies and analysts (including those outside the country), suggests that an investor’s base case scenario would give them the benefit of the doubt, and to set aside a blogger’s meanderings.
Maybe Canadian banks are among the world’s best.
Maybe the financial system would remain stable if one went under.
Nevertheless, there is plenty of room for doubt.
Furthermore, the evident risks in the Canadian financial system, suggest that a decent review of those in other G-7 nations is clearly in order.
It also suggests that there a good case for hedging one’s investment bets … and preparing for the worst.
 All data is in Canadian dollars.
 The $1 quadrillion estimate, is a guess of the roughest sort. The true size of the global derivatives market is hard to estimate. This in turn dramatically highlights the risks it encompasses. The BIS put the notional derivative OTC value at $544 billion at the end of 2016. [www.bis.org] . However much of the trading is done outside the exchanges.
The Director of The FBI has managed to do what many have failed to do - bring a desperately divided nation together. James Comey is unpopular across the political spectrum, according to a new poll that finds voters have a negative opinion of Comey by a more than two-to-one margin.
As The Hill reports, according to data from a Harvard-Harris Poll survey of registered voters provided exclusively to The Hill, only 17 percent have a favorable view of Comey, compared to 35 percent who have a negative view of him.
Forty-one percent of Democrats have an unfavorable view of Comey, with only 12 percent saying they view him positively.
Comey is almost at break-even among Republicans, with 26 percent viewing him positively and 27 percent viewing him negatively.
Among independents, Comey has an overall negative rating, with 17 percent holding a positive view compared to 36 percent with a negative view of the FBI director.
Harvard-Harris Poll co-director Mark Penn said, "Comey’s ratings, which are two-to-one negative, suggest a crisis of confidence in his leadership as top law enforcement officer."
That could change for the worse, as the Harvard-Harris Poll survey was conducted prior Comey’s testimony on Monday before the House Intelligence Committee that frustrated many Republicans. Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) lamented that Comey had cast “a big, gray cloud” over the Trump administration.
Finally we note that a plurality of voters - 40 percent - say Congress is spending too much time on Russia and Trump’s wiretapping claims.
The city of Philadelphia cancelled its largest Cinco de Mayo event, El Carnaval de Puebla, because current conditions in the country supposedly weren’t favorable toward immigrants, especially illegal ones living in fear of a nationwide crackdown spurred by President Donald Trump.
US President Donald Trump’s nuclear advisor says Washington will honor the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six major world powers, including the United States.
Christopher Ford, the White House National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counter-proliferation, made the remarks during a conference in Washington, DC on Tuesday.
|(Natural News) An exciting medical breakthrough published in the science journal Oncotarget has discovered the astonishing ability of concentrated vitamin C to halt the growth of cancer tumor stem cells. The study, conducted at the University of Salford in Manchester — (see full text of the study at this link) — tested the impact on...|
It seems Devin Nunes has struck a chord given the level of rhetoric roaring out of Democrat HQ tonight. After briefing The White House on the fact that Trump was "incidentally surveilled" along with his team - somewhat vindicating the President's tweets - the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that he has "grave concerns" over Nunes 'impartiality" and Democratic leader Pelosi exclaimed his comments were an "act of desperation and diversion" in a statement.
Trump says he feels “somewhat” vindicated by Nunes: “I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found”. pic.twitter.com/PwuEaICG2q
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 22, 2017
As The Hill reports, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) criticized Nunes for his surprise announcement earlier in the day that he had seen intelligence intercepts that showed authorities had incidentally gathered information on members of the Trump transition team during investigations that the chairman said were not related to Russia.
"If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been," Schiff said in a statement that criticized Nunes for a "profound irregularity" in how he had handled the situation.
"The Chairman also shared this information with the White House before providing it to the committee, another profound irregularity, given that the matter is currently under investigation. I have expressed my grave concerns with the Chairman that a credible investigation cannot be conducted this way," he said.
Of course MSNB was more than happy to host Schiff to explain how Nunes is a "White House surrogate"...
Schiff: Nunes has to decide if he's an independent investigation chair or a White House surrogate; Trump's claims as baseless today as y'day pic.twitter.com/h7NuIQeM59
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 22, 2017
And to raise doubts about his independence...
Schiff says what Nunes did throws the committee into doubt; says this makes a profound case for an independent commission pic.twitter.com/wnSuwJOhzB
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 22, 2017
And even better, to deny Clapper, Comey, and everyone else's admissins that there is no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion and claim that he has new evidence - "I can't go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now"...
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 22, 2017
"This afternoon, Chairman Devin Nunes announced he had some form of intercepts revealing that lawfully gathered intelligence on foreign officials included information on U.S. Persons, potentially including those associated with President Trump or the President himself. If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been. Indeed, it appears that committee members only learned about this when the Chairman discussed the matter this afternoon with the press. The Chairman also shared this information with the White House before providing it to the committee, another profound irregularity, given that the matter is currently under investigation. I have expressed my grave concerns with the Chairman that a credible investigation cannot be conducted this way.
"As to the substance of what the Chairman has alleged, if the information was lawfully gathered intelligence on foreign officials, that would mean that U.S. persons would not have been the subject of surveillance. In my conversation late this afternoon, the Chairman informed me that most of the names in the intercepted communications were in fact masked, but that he could still figure outthe probable identity of the parties. Again, this does not indicate that there wasany flaw in the procedures followed by the intelligence agencies. Moreover, the the probable identity of the parties. Again, this does not indicate that there wasany flaw in the procedures followed by the intelligence agencies. Moreover, the any flaw in the procedures followed by the intelligence agencies. Moreover, the unmasking of a U.S. Person's name is fully appropriate when it is necessary to understand the context of collected foreign intelligence information.
"Because the committee has still not been provided the intercepts in the possession of the Chairman, it is impossible to evaluate the Chairman's claims.
It certainly does not suggest -- in any way -- that the President was wiretapped by certainly does not suggest -- in any way -- that the President was wiretapped by his predecessor."
Then Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi chimed in with the following statement:
Pelosi Statement on Intelligence Chairman Nunes' Meeting with President Trump
Washington, D.C. — Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released this statement after Chairman Nunes' comments to the press following his meeting with President Trump at the White House:
"The unprecedented comments of Chairman Nunes are an act of diversion and desperation. The Chairman's highly irregular conduct with the White House raises serious questions about his impartiality, especially given his history as part of the Trump Transition team. Abandoning any pretense of bipartisanship, Chairman Nunes raced to the White House and to the press to perpetuate the Trump Administration's misinformation campaign.
"The unmasking of legally intercepted intelligence is often appropriate and necessary to understand the context of foreign intelligence information. Chairman Nunes' actions are disrespectful of Ranking Member Schiff and the bipartisan membership of the Intel Committee. Republicans are grasping at straws because the FBI Director confirmed that President Obama did not wiretap President Trump, and affirmed an investigation of coordination between the Russians and individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign in the election.
"Chairman Nunes is deeply compromised, and he cannot possibly lead an honest investigation. Congress must create a comprehensive, independent, bipartisan commission to expose the full truth of the Trump-Russia connection."
And finally, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday pushed back on revelations from the panel's Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), saying his claims of incidental U.S. surveillance of members of President Trump's transition team were "trumped up."
"If, in fact, this took place, it was incidental and it was done through what is legally allowed by the CIA when they are surveilling foreign persons," Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said during an appearance on MSNBC.
"This could be a lot of theater – it looks very trumped up to me – but we'll have to wait and see," she added.
Seems like Mr. Nunes - who we are sure will be discovered to have had contact with some Russian official or other very soon - has hit a nerve, smashing yet another leg out from under the 1-legged stool of the Democrat narrative.
It is yet another reminder that the federal government’s various law enforcement agencies continue to conduct warrantless mass surveillance on millions of innocent Americans. If Trump’s irritated by having his personal privacy violated, perhaps he should lead a charger to reinvigorate the nation’s 4th Amendment.
This is huge news, and thank God it is vindicating President Trump in his saying he was surveilled.
President Trump has slammed global warming as an elaborate hoax and forced the United Nations to stop making it compulsory for nations to contribute funding to global climate change programs.
Two rate hikes since last year have weakened the dollar. Why is that, and what’s ahead for dollar, currencies & gold? And while we are at it, we’ll chime in on what may be in store for the stock market...
The chart above shows the S&P 500, the price of gold and the U.S. dollar index since the beginning of 2016. The year 2016 started with a rout in the equity markets which was soon forgotten, allowing the multi-year bull market to continue. After last November’s election we have had the onset of what some refer to as the Trump rally. Volatility in the stock market has come down to what may be historic lows. Of late, many trading days appear to start on a down note, although late day rallies (possibly due to retail money flowing into index funds) are quite common.
Where do stocks go from here? Of late, we have heard outspoken money manager Jeff Gundlach suggests that bear markets only happen if the economy turns down; and that his indicators suggest that there’s no recession in sight. We agree that bear markets are more commonly associated with recessions, but with due respect to Mr. Gundlach, the October 1987 crash is a notable exception. The 1987 crash was an environment that suffered mostly from valuations that had gotten too high; an environment where nothing could possibly go wrong: the concept of “portfolio insurance” was en vogue at the time. Without going into detail of how portfolio insurance worked, let it be said that it relied on market liquidity. The market took a serious nosedive when the linkage between the S&P futures markets and their underlying stocks broke down.
Imention these as I see many parallels to 1987, including what I would call an outsized reliance on market liquidity ensuring that this bull market continues its rise without being disrupted by a flash crash or some a type of crash awaiting to get a label. Mind you, it’s extraordinarily difficult to get the timing right on a crash; that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t prepare for the risk.Bonds...
If I don’t like stocks, what about bonds. While short-term rates have been moving higher, longer-term rates have been trading in a narrow trading range for quite some time, frustrating both bulls and bears. Bonds are often said to perform well when stock prices plunge, but don’t count on it: first, even the historic correlation is not stable. But more importantly, when we talk with investors, many of them have been reaching for yield. We see sophisticated investors, including institutional investors, provide direct lending services to a variety of groups. What they all have in common is that yields are higher than what you would get in a traditional bond investment. While the pitches for those investments are compelling, it doesn’t change the fact that high yield investments, in our analysis, tend to be more correlated with risk assets, i.e. with equities, especially in an equity bear market. Differently said: don’t call yourself diversified if your portfolio consists of stocks and high yielding junk bonds. I gather that readers investing in such bonds think it doesn’t affect them; let me try to caution them that some master-limited partnership investments in the oil sector didn’t work out so well, either.Gold...
I have argued for some time that the main competitor to the price of gold is cash that pays a high real rate of return. That is, if investors get compensated for holding cash, they may not have the need for a brick that has no income and costs a bit to hold.
After the election, we believe the price of gold came down as the market priced in higher real interest rates in anticipation of lower regulations. We indicated that this euphoria will cede to realism, meaning that regulations might not be cut quite as much. We also suggested that any fiscal stimulus on the backdrop of low employment may be inflationary. That is, expectations of higher real rates might be replaced with expectations of higher nominal rates; net, bonds might not change all that much, but the price of gold may well rise in that environment.
Add the Fed to the picture, having raised rates twice now since the election. We have argued that the Fed is and continues to be 'behind the curve,' i.e. is raising rates more slowly than inflationary pressures are building. We believe the Fed is petrified that they might have to go down back to QE when the next recession comes and, as a result, has been very slow in raising rates. Indeed, we believe the Fed will only raise rates if the market delivers a rate hike on a silver platter, i.e. the markets are “behaving” (no taper tantrum). As such, let me make this prediction: if the S&P 500 is up 20% from current levels this October, odds are we will get more rate hikes than are currently priced in; conversely, if the S&P 500 is down 20% from current levels this October, odds are we will get fewer rate hikes than are currently priced in. If you are rolling your eyes that this isn’t too ingenious, I would like to remind readers that this isn’t supposed to be the yard stick the Fed should be using. We believe the Fed is a hostage of the market. Paraphrasing a former Fed official who shall remain unnamed, he indicated to me that the Fed wouldn’t care how the S&P reacts to an FOMC decision, unless, they created a bubble.The Dollar...
What about the greenback? The dollar index (DXY) was up four years in a row. Year-to-date, however, the index is down despite the recent rate hikes. It shows that everything is relative to what is priced in already. A key reason we believe the dollar may have seen its peak is because of the Fed’s unwillingness to get ‘ahead of the curve’. Not with Janet Yellen, at least. Her term as Chair is running out next January; we wouldn’t be surprised if she is replaced with Kevin Warsh. He was a Fed governor during the financial crisis; he has since published a variety of OpEds, criticizing the Fed. He has also been on one of President Trump’s economic round tables. If he indeed succeeds Yellen (there are other names being mentioned; we just happen to think that at this stage, he best fits the profile of what Trump may be looking for), he has indicated that the reason why Fed officials are appointed for many years is so they don’t have to worry how markets react to policy decisions. That’s a stoic attitude, but reality (called “deteriorating financial conditions”) may well change his mind should he become Fed Chair and try to raise rates more aggressively.
Aside from real interest rates, when it comes to the dollar, it is worth paying attention to trade policy. So-called experts had predicted a 20% surge in the dollar based on the “border adjustment tax” in the GOP House tax plan. Except that surge hasn’t happened. Maybe the plan is dead. Maybe the plan’s market impact will be different. Our take is: if you introduce barriers to trade, we believe currencies of countries with current account deficits tend to suffer. The greenback qualifies, and the recent decline coincides with more protectionist talk coming from the Trump administration.The Sterling...
Talking about the greenback, there’s always another currency at the other side of the trade. The sterling is one of those currencies that has suffered as trade barriers have been raised (a “Brexit” is akin to increasing trade barriers); the Brits also have a current account deficit. And we think those trade barriers will become ever more apparent as the odds of the UK and the EU coming to a prudent trade agreement appear rather dim. We come to that assessment because of the EU’s institutional setup requiring unanimity for new trade deals on the one hand, but a hard deadline on the other hand to leave the EU once Article 50 (the ‘exit’ article) is triggered.
What gets us really negative about the sterling, though, is their fiscal situation. Sure, there may well be a short squeeze at some point because others don’t like the currency but medium to long-term, we believe the Brits may well go down what we call the “Italian road.” That is, we believe they’ll finance substantial deficits with monetary policy that’s too loose, leading to a currency that will cascade lower over time. That’s because we don’t see how the Brits can finance their budgets. When the Brits had their austerity budgets, their finances had moved from what we would call horrible to bad. Now they may well drift back to horrible as government spending increases to cushion the blow from Brexit.The Euro...
What about the currency investors love to hate? Let me remind readers that everything is relative to what is being priced in. The euro has done well year to date because, we believe investors are increasingly realizing that the lows in rates may have been reached. The dollar started to surge at the first talk of tapering, even as the first actual rate hike was far, far, off. Similarly, the euro may well start appreciating well before rates will actually go up again in the Eurozone.
Recently, European Central Bank (ECB) head Draghi gave an upbeat presentation at a press conference, suggesting (and I’m putting words into his mouth here) we shouldn’t be overly worried about the various upcoming risk events (Dutch election at the time; the French election, etc.), as there isn’t much as we can do about them anyway; and if something bad were to happen, well, he’ll do whatever it takes. Then the Dutch rejected populism. Then the rumor came up that the ECB may hike rates before ending the purchases of securities; this rumor was given credence as the Austrian ECB member of the governing counsel suggested that there are many different rates and, yes, some could be raised before the bond purchases are done.
Separately, we believe the euro has increasingly become a so-called funding currency. Amongst others because rates are so low, speculators are borrowing in euros to buy higher yielding assets. If we have a risk off event, e.g. a sharper decline in stocks, those speculators might have to reduce their bets and, as part of that, buy back the euro. Short covering may not lead to sustainable rallies in the euro, but it’s a piece of the puzzle worth watching.EM currencies...
Emerging market (EM) currencies tend to be proxies for risk assets, i.e. they tend to do just fine when times are good, but in the case of severe selloffs, our analysis shows they also tend to suffer. We don't think they are as vulnerable as they have been at other times when investors have been chasing yield (remember, in EM markets, higher yielding bonds tend to be available), but any investors exposed to them should keep those risks in mind in the context of an overall portfolio allocation.Make your portfolio great again...
Before you contemplate how to rebalance your portfolio, think about how institutional investors might be rebalancing their portfolio. U.S. markets have been outperforming, the dollar has been rising. As such, we would think institutional investors might shift assets overseas to rebalance their portfolios, thereby favoring international equities and putting downward pressure on the dollar.
As you might have gathered, I believe most investors are over-exposed to US equities. Equities have performed so well that it’s difficult to get anyone to listen to this concern. And that’s exactly the type of environment that is a fertile ground for bubbles.
The Labour Party caucus unanimously elected Jacinda Ardern on March 7 as the party’s new deputy leader, following the resignation of long-standing MP and deputy Annette King.
The 37-year-old entered parliament as a young “list” MP—i.e., without an electorate—in 2008. Ardern’s promotion to deputy leader follows her victory in a February 25 by-election in the west Auckland electorate of Mount Albert. With a general election due in September, the ruling National Party, along with the right-wing NZ First and ACT parties, declared it a “safe” Labour seat and did not contest the election.
The main candidates for the French election have been surrounded by corruption scandals since they set out on the campaign trail.
|(Natural News) Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of a number of GOP lawmakers opposed to the American Health Care Act, has predicted there won’t be enough votes to pass it, causing it to be withdrawn and forcing Republican leaders to start over. The AHCA is the bill touted by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and...|
Rania Khalek, an independent journalist who has been blacklisted for her recent reports on Syria, joins Mnar Muhawesh on ‘Behind the Headline’ to discuss the silencing of journalists who oppose the mainstream media’s pro-war agenda.
In the wake of the terror attacks in England, France, Germany and elsewhere, can we finally admit that the war on terror is an utter and complete failure?
|(Natural News) President Donald J. Trump has signed legislation aimed at funding the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in what may become a down payment on a future manned mission to Mars. As reported by The Hill, the bill’s authors and sponsors – including Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla. – were...|
House Intelligence Chairman Representative Devin Nunes said Wednesday that on "numerous occasions" the intelligence community "incidentally collected intelligence" from Trump's transition team.
|(Natural News) Over 150 million people in the United States currently have dental amalgam fillings (loaded with mercury) in their mouth – which are toxic to the body. At the same time, the occurrence of chronic degenerative diseases has never been higher, with the Centers for Disease Control estimating that over 117 million Americans suffer...|
As tensions between the U.S and North Korea continue to escalate, with the most recent provocation coming from Kim Jong Un last night, the Wall Street Journal has just reported that Federal prosecutors are building potential cases that would accuse North Korea of directing the theft of $81 million from Bangladesh’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last year.
The charges, if filed, would target alleged Chinese middlemen who prosecutors believed help North Korea orchestrate the theft, the people said.
The current cases being pursued may not include charges against North Korean officials, but would likely implicate North Korea, people close to the process said—with the U.S. accusing a foreign government of orchestrating one of the biggest bank robberies of modern times.
Richard Ledgett, the deputy director of the National Security Agency, said he was “optimistic about the truth of that,” when asked about reports of a connection between the two cybercrimes. “If that linkage is true, that means a nation-state is robbing banks. That is a big deal; it’s different,” he said on Tuesday during a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute.
Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury authorities are considering sanctions against the alleged middlemen, an approach the U.S. is increasingly using to go after suspected criminals who are unlikely to fall into U.S. custody.
For those who missed our coverage, roughly a year ago we wrote about extensively about this incident in which a group of hackers used Swift, the interbank messaging system, to steal nearly $100 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh being held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Here's a recap:
For those who missed the story, you can review it in all its James Bond-ish glory in the four posts linked below, but here is a brief summary of what happened to the $81 million: 1) it was transferred to four accounts at the Jupiter Street, Makati City, branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) in the Philippines, 2) $470,000 in cash went into the branch manager's trunk and the rest went to a possibly forged (but possibly not) account registered to one William Go, 3) the money was transferred to an FX broker called Philrem, 4) $50 million was split between two casinos and the remaining $31 was delivered to a "Weikang Xu" in cash.
From there, the trail goes cold.
- Plot Thickens In New York Fed Heist As $30 Million In Cash Said Delivered To Mystery Chinese Man
- The Incredible Story Of How Hackers Stole $100 Million From The New York Fed
- Chinese Hackers Break Into NY Fed, Steal $100 Million From Bangladesh Central Bank
- Mystery Of New York Fed Robbery Has Central Banks Asking Who's Next
Per the WSJ, the hackers behind the Bangladesh heist were likely a part of the same group that hacked Sony back in 2014.
Private security researchers have traced the Bangladesh heist to a hacking group known as Lazarus, which they say was also behind the Sony hack. In 2014, the FBI blamed North Korea for the Sony breach.
“The whole security community has said that the attack tools and techniques used in Sony are the same ones used in Bangladesh,” said Eric Chien, an engineer with security vendor Symantec Corp.
All that said, as always, one must maintain a healthy dose of skepticism when drawing conclusions on issues where pure speculation and conflicting interests can conspire to morph circumstantial evidence into undeniable 'fact'. As even the WSJ notes, there remains a view among some federal officials that the evidence doesn’t prove beyond a doubt that North Korea was behind the Bangladesh theft. Moreover, others believe the hackers who carried out the Bangladesh heist may have appropriated, tweaked or repurposed the malicious code that the U.S. government made public after the Sony hack—which wouldn’t necessarily indicate they are linked to North Korea.
America’s healthcare system will only be fixed when a critical mass of people rejects the philosophical and economic fallacies justifying government-run healthcare. Those of us who know the truth must continue to work to spread the ideas of and grow the movement for, liberty.
The media and Wall Street got all excited when the Dow Jones industrial average hit 20,000 earlier this year — and justifiably so.
But why not give the same sort of attention to the US federal debt, which will slip past $20 trillion later this year or in early 2018.
The symmetry of these two numbers is just too precious to ignore.
There should not be gun-control laws anymore than there should be shovel-control laws or broom-control laws. Guns should be treated as commodities just like bananas, apples, and oranges. It is what you do with a gun that is important, not that you buy, sell, or own one.
If the investigation of Russiagate turns up no link between Trump and the pilfered emails, Democrats will have egg all over their faces. And the Democratic base will have to face a painful truth. Vladimir Putin did not steal this election. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lost it. Donald Trump won it fair and square. He is not an “illegitimate” president. There will be no impeachment. They were deceived and misled by their own leaders and media. They bought into a Big Lie.
Dianne looks so confused and angry at his impartialness.
Mexico’s state oil company, Pemex, is a perfect example of the ongoing collapse in the global oil industry. Falling oil prices and declining production are putting severe pressure on the company’s financial balance sheet. It has been four long years since Pemex posted a small profit. However, since 2012, Pemex has suffered huge annual losses while its long term debt has exploded.
Rockefeller, Morgan, and war.