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The Dow Jones Industrial Average: A Fata Morgana

This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.  Mr. Grommen was a teacher in mathematics and physics for eight years at...

Dow Jones and Nasdaq down sharply as US government shutdown looms

Dominic Rushe, Dan Roberts and Paul LewisThe GuardianSeptember 30, 2013 US stock markets fell sharply on...

JPM’s Tom Lee Announces His Dow Jones Industrial Average Price Target: 20,000

Back in July 2008, just before all hell broke loose and the S&P was trading in the upper 1,200s, everyone's favorite permabull, JPM strategist famously reiterated his S&P 500 price target for the end of 2012: 1450. Two months later Lehman file...

Dow Jones Closes Just Shy Of 5 Year High As Intel Beats EPS, Misses...

Stocks surged (apart from AAPL) gloriously out of their super-narrow recent range, driven by recycled JPY rumors and some potential 'give' by the Republicans, and the rest of the risk-on complex tracked higher with it. Treasury yields pinged back to h...

Son of Sally Jones ‘still alive’ after ‘White Widow’ killed in US drone —...

Published time: 15 Nov, 2017 13:01 Syrian sources claim the son of British jihadist Sally...

Pentagon looking into report ISIS ‘White Widow’ Sally Jones killed in US drone strike

Published time: 12 Oct, 2017 07:46 Edited time: 12 Oct, 2017 08:04 The Pentagon is...

Alex Jones Breaks Down The Zombie Madness of Black Friday

Infowars.comNovember 30, 2013 Alex Jones joins David Knight to speak about the zombification of the general public in regard to our consumerist culture and being...

Is This Why Rachel Maddow Attacks Alex Jones?

Infowars.comAugust 28, 2013 MSNBC, the haven for “progressives” and diehard Democrats, is in the toilet… again. “MSNBC...

Infowarrior breaks down why 2013 is The Year of Alex Jones

Infowars.comJune 2, 2013 This last May, the mainstream corporate collaborator media has been foaming at the...

Maddow’s Ratings Hit New Lows Following Attacks On Alex Jones

MSNBC only has 115,000 core demographic viewersSteve WatsonInfowars.comMay 30, 2013 MSNBC’s ratings are in...

Maddow Continues To Go After Alex Jones

Facts don’t matter to Maddow as her agenda entails mocking and ridiculing anyone who questions...

Puerto Rico and the Jones Act Conundrum

Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | CC by 2.0 When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, the whole transportation...

Trump battles Democrat lawmaker over content of condolence call to soldier’s widow — RT...

Donald Trump has become embroiled in a war of words with a Florida congresswoman over an...

Gov’t Crackdown Backfires

'He's Not Slowing Down': Sanders to Rip Trump, Push for Single Payer on Midwest...

As new polling data shows President Donald Trump's support flagging in several electorally crucial Midwest states, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is gearing up for...

CNN’s Van Jones calls Russia ‘nothing burger’ video ‘edited, right-wing propaganda’

After being secretly filmed by conservative organization Project Veritas, CNN political commentator Van Jones said his...

When ‘Mother Jones’ Wasn’t Russia-Bashing

The Russia hysteria sweeping America’s political-media world has spread to some progressive publications, like Mother Jones, that have forgotten the...

“Meltdown”: The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland Writes Jeremy Corbyn’s Obituary

In bygone years, defenders of the Guardian’s supposed ‘progressive’ credentials would typically cite the presence of Seumas Milne, Owen Jones and George Monbiot. The...

British ISIS recruiter Sally Jones on US drone ‘kill list’ but ‘using son as...

British punk rocker-turned-jihadi bride, Sally Jones, was placed on the Pentagon’s “high priority kill list”...

What the Shutdown of "Tent City" Jail Says About Grassroots Power

In Phoenix, Arizona, temperatures in the summer of 2016 reached a record high of 118 degrees. At least four deaths were attributed to the...

Dow jumps more than 150 points, ending longest losing streak since 2011

Published time: 29 Mar, 2017 00:27Edited time: 29 Mar, 2017 09:12 Rebounding from an historical eight-day decline,...

Maddow reveals Trump's 2005 tax return 1040 document

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has obtained an exclusive copy of President Donald Trump's tax returns from investigative...

'People don't give a rat's ass about Lewinsky': Bill Clinton sex scandals played down...

Emails released by WikiLeaks on Sunday reveal a discussion by Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta...

British ‘white widow’ reportedly training women jihadists to attack West

British ‘jihadist bride’ Sally Jones is reportedly heading a new wave of all-female Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) cells with their children in tow,...

Microsoft services to crack down on 'hate speech'

The end may be nigh for trolls on Skype and Xbox. Microsoft is launching a customer...

Trollbusters: Hack of Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones under DHS investigation

Department of Homeland Security officials are investigating the hack of comedian and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones’...

Keep Elites Accountable, But Don’t Dumb the Issues Down

Bruegel’s Tower of Babel. (Photo: rpi virtuell / Flickr) You know you’re a wonk when your nighttime reading is as thick as the latest Stephen...

50 Old-Fashioned Put-Downs

As Lesley M. M. Blume observes in Let’s Bring Back: The Lost Language Edition, while clothing fashions have a way of cycling in and...

Dow plunges 600+ points following historic Brexit vote

Investor panic over the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union has been felt across the Atlantic as well. The Dow, the S&P 500...

Ron Paul Interviews Rep. Walter Jones: A Champion of Peace

Ron Paul Interviews Rep. Walter Jones: A Champion of Peace Daniel McAdams, June 12, 2016 Some years ago, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)...

Ron Paul on Rep. Walter Jones – The Neocon Slayer

Ron Paul on Rep. Walter Jones – The Neocon Slayer Daniel McAdams, June 09, 2016 Bill Kristol of Neocon Central thought he had...

‘ENGLAND … BOOM’: British ISIS widow threatens London with summer terror attacks

British "jihadi bride" Sally Jones, also known as “Mrs Terror,” has taken to Twitter to...

Secret Armies, Shadow Wars, Silent Unaccountability

Headline: “Obama Embraces Special Operations Forces” Headline: “Did U.S. Forces Commit Atrocities in a Key...

2016 Market Meltdown: We Have Never Seen A Year Start Quite Like This…

Michael Snyder (RINF) - We are about three weeks into 2016, and we are witnessing things that we...

Bear Market: The Average U.S. Stock Is Already Down More Than 20 Percent

Michael Snyder (RINF) - The stock market is in far worse shape than we are being told. As you will see in this article, the...

UK: Resignations follow Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle by Corbyn

By Chris Marsden Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn never misses an opportunity to strengthen the right wing of his party by his political cowardice and overarching desire...
video

Video: Countdown to Paris: Are the Pledges to Cut Emissions Enough to Save the...

Andrew Jones and Chris Williams discuss the UN submissions from 130 countries and the road blocks to averting climate disaster. Via Youtube

This Is EXACTLY What The Early Phases Of A Market Meltdown Look Like

Michael Snyder (RINF) - There is so much confusion out there. On the days when the Dow goes...

Stock Market Crash 2015: The Dow Has Already Plummeted 2200 Points From The Peak

Michael Snyder (RINF) - Those that watched their stocks steadily increase in value for years are now seeing...

More signs of global downturn send stocks plunging again

By Andre Damon Global stock markets staged yet another selloff Tuesday following the release of negative economic data in the US and China and downbeat assessments...

During Every Market Crash There Are Big Ups, Big Downs And Giant Waves Of...

Michael Snyder (RINF) This is exactly the type of market behavior that we would expect to see during...

The Stock Market Will Start To Fall In July? The Dow Plummeted More Than...

By Michael Snyder (RINF) - Was last week a preview of things to come? There are quite a few people out there that believe that...
video

Video: Breakdown Of The Globalist Plan

Alex Jones breaks down how the globalists are moving on all fronts and what their end game is. Help us spread the word about...
video

Video: Armstrong Economics: Meltdown is Coming

Alex Jones talks with Martin Armstrong of Armstrong Economics about what he sees for the future and the coming collapse. Help us spread the...
video

Video: Guardian Journalist Breaks Down Midnight Raid By Bilderberg Police

Alex Jones talks with Guardian journalist Charlie Skelton about his experiences at Bilderberg 2015. Help us spread the word about the liberty movement, we're...

Police Shoot Black Lab Through Vehicle Window, Claim It Was ‘Lunging’ Pit Bull

An Idaho police officer who shot and killed a small black lab sitting inside a vehicle this week has been telling investigators that the...

The 17,000 Dow: Surging towards a disaster

Nick Beams The rise of Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average to an all-time high above 17,000 last week is another sign of the explosive...

Cover-Up Of West Coast Radiation Exposed — Alex Jones

By Susan Duclos

 


Many of us have been following the massively high levels of radiation on the West Coast of America, following the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, which crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, leading to multiple meltdowns and hundreds of tons of radioactive contaminated water being dumped into the Pacific Ocean, daily.

 In the video below, Alex Jones details efforts made to force the hand of the US government in monitoring these levels, leading to an arbitrary change into what was named as officially "safe" levels, and the report below highlights the cover up that has been underway, not just by the Japanese government but by governments along the West Coast as well.

Related: It’s Huge And Happening Now! A Lot Of People Are In A LOT Of Trouble ( Video And Charts)





Second video is a reminder of the radiation levels across the US from the related article linked above.




Cross posted at Before It's News


Alex Jones & Wolfgang Halbig: Sandy Hook Anomalies Discussed — Full Show

By Susan Duclos Below is the entire Alex Jones show for May 13, 2014, where Jones covers a variety of subjects and has some blockbuster guests, including Wolfgang W. Halbig, a former Florida State Trooper and Executive Director of the Nationa...

Police gun down 93-year-old woman in central Texas city

Kate Randall  RINF Alternative News A police officer fatally shot 93-year-old Pearlie Golden at her home in Central Texas on May 6. Officer Stephen Stem, who...

Bill Moyers Discussion Calls Out Our Unelected, “Deep State,” Shadow Government

Richard Clark  RINF Alternative News What follows here is a synopsis of a discussion between Bill Moyers and Mike Lofgren, a disillusioned government insider who now says in...

Dumbing America Down, Conservative Style

The Right wants us to think...

Bank Corruption Down Under

On 25 November Lawrence Tomlinson issued a report exposing yet another spectacular case of bank bastardry in the UK. Tomlinson had been commissioned by...

White House Gets Down and Dirty to Promote ObamaCare to Homosexuals

The White House appears to be getting down and dirty in an effort to convince members in one of its major constituencies – the...

Max Keiser Breaks Down Bitcoin

Infowars.comDecember 14, 2013 Alex and Max Keiser continue on the topic of rigged global markets and fiat currency vs bitcoin. This article was posted: Saturday,...

America: Afraid of Shadows in the Dark While Ignoring the Elephants in the Room

via What baffles the mind about the United States of America is that many of its citizens have been conditioned to fear shadows in...

CIA’s Global Shadow War: Hiring Private Mercenaries And Former Guantanamo Inmates

Hollywood Without the Happy Ending Call it the Jason Bourne strategy. Think of it as the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) plunge into Hollywood...

I Took Down the Man Who Posted a Hacked Topless Photo of My Daughter...

This is what happens when the...

Jeremy Scahill Attacks Alex Jones

By James F. Tracy

Progressive-left media icon Jeremy Scahill told a caller to C-SPAN’s Book TV that Austin Texas talk show host Alex Jones is a “lunatic” and a significant detriment to “real journalism that journalists are doing.”

Scahill was asked who he thought represented “the most legimate … form of journalism”–Jones or Amy Goodman. “[I have] to be very careful about choosing my words here,” Scahill cautioned. The writer then proceeded to call Jones an “absolute, die-hard lunatic, and to even mention him in the same sentence as Amy Goodman is an incredible insult to Amy Goodman [sic].” Scahill continued,

Alex Jones has forwarded some of the most outrageous, ridiculous conspiracy theories about how the world works. And whatever good he might be doing in what he does is completely overshadowed by the fact that he is pushing outright lies and propaganda on a regular basis and I think that it ultimately subverts the importance of real journalism that independent journalists are doing on a regular basis by giving the impression that everyone’s running around wearing a tin foil hat.

The progressive author’s outburst begs the question, What exactly is “real journalism”? What are the characteristics of “alternative media”? Who has a legitimate claim to that mantle? And, what broader interests do attacks like these serve? This arguably has far less to do with journalistic legitimacy and a sincere regard for truth than it does with the less-apparent forces that seek to define political debate–and division.

Scahill, the Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the foundation-funded Nation Institute, previously worked as a producer on Goodman’s Democracy Now! news program, also a major recipient of foundation funding. Scahill is also a frequent guest on corporate news outlet MSNBC.

Does money from philanthropic foundations predispose progressive media figures to cast aspersion on public gadflies who defy easy left/right categorization? Closely resembling typical attacks from the left, Scahill appears to have no option but to dismiss such alternative journalists and commentators as “conspiracy theorists,” or otherwise as wholly irrational. This renders such figures outside the parameters of what Scahill and his coterie perceive as legitimate debate. Nevermind the journalistic burden of proof that rightly accompanies such accusations.

My recent exchange facilitated by a “Facebook friend” with media critic Steve Rendall of the progressive media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) is illustrative of the vulnerability such individuals have when the conversation turns to the question of financing.

Rendall took issue with an article I wrote specifically addressing the relationship between foundation funding and the independence of news media professing to be “alternative” or “radical.” Rendall argued that I was not placing Noam Chomsky in proper context, which I viewed as a red herring to my original premise.

I proceeded to point out how FAIR was the recipient of $3.5 million in funding between 2007 and 2011, and that this should be made note of, particularly in light of my article’s subject matter. A portion of FAIR’s income stream came from major foundations, including Ford.

At the suggestion of FAIR’s funding, Rendall turned hostile, noting that if it were not for such foundation-funded entities the “US left would be nearly non-existent.”

I don’t hide who I am. Anyone who cares, can look me up. And FAIR is a 501c3, or not-for-profit organization. Our status and major donations are a matter of public record. So you can stop pretending like you’ve done some kind of deep sleuthing.

Most of our money comes from individual contributors, but we get some foundation money. I wish we got more. The US left would be nearly non-existent without non-profits like Pacifica, Democracy Now!, and many others. (My emphasis.)

But seriously James, Global Research? Really? What’s the matter, Infowars or Michael Ruppert didn’t have any “dirt” on FAIR?

Poorly-reasoned and even vitriolic remarks like Scahill’s and Rendall’s must be placed in a broader context. Are they really speaking to their readerships? Certainly to some degree, for many of their adherents see themselves as similarly partisan in terms of social justice and the environment-related issues.

Yet such statements are also no doubt directed toward parties outside the tent–those that provide them with the financial means to enact their projects–and perhaps even motivated by an intelligence community that has an established history in promoting such confusion and disinformation to thwart serious challenges to the political-economic status quo.

The greatest challenge to that status quo might be waged once those on the “left” and “right” move beyond their politics of imagined opinion and allegiance toward a common understanding of the oppressive forces arrayed against them.

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The 16,000 Dow: Recovery or Transfer of Wealth from the Majority of the Population...

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 16,000 for the first time ever Thursday, in the seventh consecutive week of gains. This feat was...

The 16,000 Dow

25 November 2013 The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 16,000 for the first time ever Thursday, in the seventh consecutive week of gains....

Dallas Police Assault Free Speech Activists, Punch Alex Jones

Cops incite violence during peaceful demonstration Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comNovember 22, 2013 Dallas Police violently assaulted free speech activists during the JFK 50th anniversary event, punching...

JFK Conspiracy: Did Secret Service Stand Down?

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Infowars.comNovember 22, 2013 Alex and the crew are covering the controlled media spectacle and censorship surrounding the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination....

Alex Jones Confronts Dallas Cops For Violating Free Speech!

Infowars.comNovember 21, 2013 Alex and protesters confront cops at the JFK truth rally in Dallas. Anthony Gucciardi breaks down the all out war launched against the...

Dow hits new record amid deepening world slump

By Andre Damon19 November 2013 The Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index broke 16,000 for the first time Monday before falling back slightly to...

Fiery Pro-Wrestler Smacks Down TSA

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Talk Nation Radio: Ann Jones on How the Wounded Return

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-ann-jones-on Ann Jones discusses her new book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars -- The Untold Story.  Jones is an independent journalist and photographer and t...

Shutting down Americans

Children who participate in Head Start programs affected by the government shutdown protesting their Head Start centers being shuddered

On a damp Friday morning 11 days into the government shutdown, a “few dozen” truckers took to the Capital Beltway in a demonstration with the Twitter hashtag #T2SDA (Truckers to Shut Down America). They wanted to tell lawmakers they were angry, launch an impeachment campaign against the president, and pressure Congress to end itself.

They were on a “ride for the Constitution,” protesting big government and yet the opinion polls were clear. In fact, the numbers were stunning. One after another, they showed that Americans opposed the shutdown and were hurting because of it. At that moment, according to those polls, nearly one in three Americans said they felt personally affected not by too much government, but by too little, by the sudden freeze in critical services.

In reality, that government shutdown was partial and selective. Paychecks, for example, kept flowing to the very lawmakers who most fervently supported it, while the plush congressional gym with its heated pool, paddleball courts, and flat-screen televisions remained open. That’s because “essential” services continued, even as “nonessential” ones ceased. And it turned out that whether the services you cared about were essential or not was a matter of just who got to do the defining. In that distinction between what was necessary and what wasn’t, it was easy enough to spot the values of the people’s representatives. And what we saw was gut-wrenching. Stomach-churning.

Prioritized above all else were, of course, “national security” activities, deemed beyond essential under the banner of “protecting life and property.” Surveillance at the National Security Agency, for instance, continued, uninterrupted, though it was liberated from its obviously nonessential and, even in the best-funded of times, minimal responsibility to disclose those activities under the Freedom of Information Act. Such disclosure was judged superfluous in a shutdown era, while spying on Americans (not to speak of Brazilians, Mexicans, Europeans, Indians, and others around the planet) was deemed indispensible.

Then there was the carefully orchestrated Special Operations Forces mission in Libya to capture a terror suspect off the streets of Tripoli in broad daylight, proving that in a shutdown period, the US military wasn’t about to shut off the lights. And don’t forget the nighttime landing of a Navy SEAL team in Somalia in an unsuccessful attempt to capture a different terrorist target. These activities were deemed essential to national survival, even though the chances of an American being killed in a terrorist attack are, at the moment, estimated at around one in 20 million. Remember that number, because we’ll come back to it.

Indeed, only for a brief moment did the shutdown reduce the gusher of taxpayer dollars, billions and billions of them, into the Pentagon’s coffers. After a couple days in which civilian Defense Department employees were furloughed, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that 90% of them could resume work because they “contribute to morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of service members.” This from the crew that, according to Foreign Policy, went on a jaw-dropping, morale-boosting $5 billion spending spree on the eve of the shutdown to exhaust any remaining cash from the closing fiscal year, buying spy satellites, drones, infrared cameras and, yes, a $9 million sparkling new gym for the Air Force Academy, replete with CrossFit space and a “television studio.”

Furloughing children

Then there were the nonessential activities.

In Arkansas, for instance, federal funds for infant formula to feed 2,000 at-risk newborn babies were in jeopardy, as were 85,000 meals for needy children in that state. Nutrition for low-income kids was considered nonessential even though one in four children in this country doesn’t have consistent access to nutritious food, and medical research makes it clear that improper nutrition stunts brain architecture in the young, forever affecting their ability to learn and interact socially. Things got so bad that a Texas couple dug into their own reserves to keep the program running in six states.

If children in need were “furloughed,” so were abused women. Across the country, domestic violence shelters struggled to provide services as federal funds were cut off. Some shelters raised spare change from their communities to keep the doors open. According to estimates, as many as six million women each year are victims of domestic violence. On average in this country, three women are murdered by an intimate partner every day.

But funding for domestic violence protection: nonessential.

Funds for early childhood education, too, were shut off. Seven thousand low-income kids from 11 states were turned away. Their “head start” was obviously less than essential, even though evidence shows that early education for at-risk children is the best way to help them catch up with their wealthier peers in cognition and adds to their odds of staying out of prison in later life.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) wasn’t accepting new patients because of the shutdown. Typically 200 new patients arrive every week for experimental treatment. On average around 30 of them are children, 10 of whom have cancer.

Cancer, in fact, is the leading cause of death among children ages one to 14. But treatment for them didn’t qualify as essential. Unlike fighting terrorism -- remember the less-likely-than-being-struck-by-lightning odds of one in 20 million -- treating kids with cancer didn’t make the cut as “protecting life and property.”

A father of two young girls in the town of Eliot, Maine, said to a National Priorities Project staffer in disbelief, “If even one kid can’t get cancer treatment, isn’t that enough to end the shutdown?”

Let this be the last time we find ourselves on the wrong side of that question. Because every day we as a nation allowed our lawmakers to keep the government closed was a day in which we as a people were complicit in replying "no."

Let this be the last time that a couple dozen Tea Party truckers are the only ones angry enough to take to the streets. The vast majority of Americans, whatever their anger when faced with pollsters or TV news interviewers, took this shutdown lying down, perhaps imagining -- incorrectly -- that they were powerless.

Let this be the last time we allow ourselves such lethargy. After all, there are 243 million Americans old enough to vote, which means 243 million ways to demand a government that serves the people instead of shutting them out. Keep in mind that in the office of every member of Congress is a staffer tracking constituent calls. And what those constituents say actually matters in how legislators vote. They know that a flood of angry telephone calls from their home districts means legions of angry constituents ready to turn out in the next election and possibly turn them out of office.

Shutting down Taxes

Americans, however, didn’t get angry enough to demand an end to the shutdown, perhaps at least in part because poisonous rhetoric had convinced many that the government was nothing more than a big, wasteful behemoth -- until, at least, it shut down on them. Think of these last weeks as a vivid lesson in reality, in the ways that every American is intimately connected to government services, whether by enjoying a safe food and water supply and Interstate highways, or through Meals on Wheels, cancer treatment, or tuition assistance for higher education, not to speak of Social Security checks and Medicare.

Deep in the politics of the shutdown lies another truth: that it was all about taxes -- about, to be more specific, the unwillingness of the Republicans to raise a penny of new tax revenue, even by closing egregious loopholes that give billions away to the richest Americans. Simply shutting down the tax break on capital gains and dividends (at $83 billion annually) would be more than enough to triple funding for Head Start, domestic violence protection, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, and cancer care at the NIH.

So let this be the last time we as a nation let our elected officials cut nutrition assistance for vulnerable children at the same moment that they protect deep tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations. And let’s call recent events in Washington just what they are: breathtaking greed paired with a callous lack of concern for the most vulnerable among us.

It’s time to create a roll of dishonor and call out the lawmakers who supported the shutdown, knowing just what was involved: Mark Meadows (North Carolina, 11th congressional district), Walter Jones (NC-3), Rodney Davis (IL-13), John Mica (FL-7), Daniel Webster (FL-10), Jim Gerlach (PA-6), Justin Amash (MI-3). And that’s just to start a list that seems never to end.

Such representatives obviously should not be reelected, but we need a long-haul strategy as well -- the unsexy yet necessary systemic set of changes that will ensure our government truly represents the people. Gerrymandered district lines must be redrawn fairly, which means that citizens in each state will have to wrest control over redistricting from biased political bodies. California has set the example. Then the big money must be pulled out of political campaigns, so that our politicians learn how to be something other than talented (and beholden) fundraisers.

Finally, we must build, person by person, an electorate that’s informed enough about how our government is supposed to work to fulfill its responsibility in this democracy: to ensure, that is, that it operates in the best interests of the broadest diversity of Americans.

Ahead will be long battles. They’ll take years. And it will be worth it if, in the end, we can give the right answer to that father who asked a question that should have been on everyone’s lips.

AHT/HJ

More Shutdowns Ahead as US Ruled by Casino Capitalism

The budget brinkmanship has cost the world's largest economy billions of dollars - as well as the trust of investors around the globe. And...

More Shutdowns Ahead as US Ruled by Casino Capitalism

The budget brinkmanship has cost the world's largest economy billions of dollars - as well as the trust of investors around the globe. And it also sparked calls to de-americanize the world economy. For more, RT talks to Pepe Escobar, Asia Times Online roving correspondent.

US President Barack Obama has signed legislation passed by Congress Wednesday to temporarily lift the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, averting the threat of default just hours before the October 17 deadline.

The legislation funds the government through to January 15 and lifts the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling until February 7. The White House budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, said she has issued a directive to all government employees to return to work.

The 16-day budget crisis has subtracted an estimated $24 billion in from the American economy and triggered a flurry of criticism from major foreign lenders and domestic business captains.

As promised, Obama signed the legislation shortly after it was passed in the House of Representatives.

As indicated before the US Senate vote, Republican House Speaker John Boehner did not block the fiscal deal from moving on, and it passed by a vote of 285-144 in the lower chamber.

The measure was supported by every Democratic member of the House, but was rejected by a sizeable portion of Boehner’s GOP caucus.

Conservative Republicans were nearly unanimous in their opposition to the plan, as the federal health care law – the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare – they so object to will go virtually unscathed after all.

The Senate approved the proposal by a vote of 81-18 earlier on Wednesday evening.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spent previous days constructing a deal as the House failed to come to an agreement on a proposal Tuesday.

“This compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs. It’s never easy for two sides to reach consensus. It’s really hard, sometimes harder than others. This time was really hard,” Reid said ahead of the vote. “The country came to the brink of a disaster. But in the end, political adversaries set aside their differences and disagreement to prevent that disaster."

Republicans Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio were among the 18 'nay' votes in the Senate.

"This is a terrible deal," said Senator Ted Cruz on the Senate floor before the vote. "This deal embodies everything about the Washington establishment that frustrates the American people."

President Obama said in a statement after the Senate vote that Washington must begin to gain back the trust of voters given that more confrontations on debt, governmental budgeting, and other issues await.

"Hopefully next time, it won't be in the eleventh hour. We've got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” Obama said.

The US Treasury’s authority to borrow money to pay down US debt obligations was scheduled to end Thursday, October 17. With no full spending bill from Congress, many government operations have been on hold since October 1.

The 16-day government shutdown has cost the US $1.7 billion per week in lost economic output, according to a study by IHS Global Insight, a Massachusetts-based research firm. The S&P ratings agency declared Wednesday the shutdown has subtracted $24 billion from the US economy, cutting 0.6 percent from the fourth quarter GDP growth.

Major US creditors like China - which holds $1.3 trillion in US Treasuries - have openly discussed “de-Americanizing” as the crises-hopping US government has become increasingly volatile to the world economy. China has introduced a so-called “haircut," or a discount, on the value of US Treasuries held as collateral against futures trades.

Developing and developed nations are equally concerned, and institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have issued several warnings.

Some US business leaders are too voicing their discontent with Washington’s political turmoil.

"Most CEOs I speak to in the United States say they're seeing a slowdown in business because of this," Laurence Fink, the CEO of giant asset manager BlackRock Inc, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

"I was on a conference call with many of them, and I heard across the board, a slowdown from the American consumer because of this narrative, so it's having an impact on our economy already – and it's going to have an impact on job creation at a time when we need more job creation," he added.

Upon news of a deal, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up by more than 200 points.

“Investors are relieved that it looks like we’re not going to go over the cliff,” Ben Hart, a research analyst at the Pennsylvania-based Haverford Trust Co., told Bloomberg News. “It takes the worst case scenario off the table.”

The Senate deal will provide back pay to furloughed government workers and will allow the US Treasury to pay US debt bills should Congress not come to an agreement on the ceiling by February 7.

In addition, the deal comes with an income verification requirement for anyone receiving health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

What Was “Essential” and What Wasn’t: The Government Shutdown in Perspective

On a damp Friday morning 11 days into the government shutdown, a “few dozen” truckers took to the Capital Beltway in a demonstration with...

What Was “Essential” and What Wasn’t: The Government Shutdown in Perspective

On a damp Friday morning 11 days into the government shutdown, a “few dozen” truckers took to the Capital Beltway in a demonstration with the Twitter hashtag #T2SDA (Truckers to Shut Down America).  They wanted to tell lawmakers they were angry, launch an impeachment campaign against the president, and pressure Congress to end itself.

They were on a “ride for the Constitution,” protesting big government and yet the opinion polls were clear.  In fact, the numbers were stunning.  One after another, they showed that Americans opposed the shutdown and were hurting because of it.  At that moment, according to those polls, nearly one in three Americans said they felt personally affected not by too much government, but by too little, by the sudden freeze in critical services.

In reality, that government shutdown was partial and selective. Paychecks, for example, kept flowing to the very lawmakers who most fervently supported it, while the plush congressional gym with its heated pool, paddleball courts, and flat-screen televisions remained open. That’s because “essential” services continued, even as “nonessential” ones ceased. And it turned out that whether the services you cared about were essential or not was a matter of just who got to do the defining.  In that distinction between what was necessary and what wasn’t, it was easy enough to spot the values of the people’s representatives. And what we saw was gut-wrenching. Stomach-churning.

Prioritized above all else were, of course, “national security” activities, deemed beyond essential under the banner of “protecting life and property.”  Surveillance at the National Security Agency, for instance, continued, uninterrupted, though it was liberated from its obviously nonessential and, even in the best-funded of times, minimal responsibility to disclose those activities under the Freedom of Information Act.  Such disclosure was judged superfluous in a shutdown era, while spying on Americans (not to speak of Brazilians, Mexicans, Europeans, Indians, and others around the planet) was deemed indispensible.

Then there was the carefully orchestrated Special Operations Forces mission in Libya to capture a terror suspect off the streets of Tripoli in broad daylight, proving that in a shutdown period, the U.S. military wasn’t about to shut off the lights. And don’t forget the nighttime landing of a Navy SEAL team in Somalia in an unsuccessful attempt to capture a different terrorist target. These activities were deemed essential to national survival, even though the chances of an American being killed in a terrorist attack are, at the moment, estimated at around one in 20 million. Remember that number, because we’ll come back to it.

Indeed, only for a brief moment did the shutdown reduce the gusher of taxpayer dollars, billions and billions of them, into the Pentagon’s coffers. After a couple days in which civilian Defense Department employees were furloughed, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that 90% of them could resume work because they “contribute to morale, well-being, capabilities, and readiness of service members.” This from the crew that, according to Foreign Policy, went on a jaw-dropping, morale-boosting $5 billion spending spree on the eve of the shutdown to exhaust any remaining cash from the closing fiscal year, buying spy satellites, drones, infrared cameras and, yes, a $9 million sparkling new gym for the Air Force Academy, replete with CrossFit space and a “television studio.”

Furloughing Children

Then there were the nonessential activities.

In Arkansas, for instance, federal funds for infant formula to feed 2,000 at-risk newborn babies were in jeopardy, as were 85,000 meals for needy children in that state. Nutrition for low-income kids was considered nonessential even though one in four children in this country doesn’t have consistent access to nutritious food, and medical research makes it clear that improper nutrition stunts brain architecture in the young, forever affecting their ability to learn and interact socially. Things got so bad that a Texas couple dug into their own reserves to keep the program running in six states.

If children in need were “furloughed,” so were abused women. Across the country, domestic violence shelters struggled to provide services as federal funds were cut off. Some shelters raised spare change from their communities to keep the doors open. According to estimates, as many as six million women each year are victims of domestic violence. On average in this country, three women are murdered by an intimate partner every day.

But funding for domestic violence protection: nonessential.

Funds for early childhood education, too, were shut off. Seven thousand low-income kids from 11 states were turned away. Their “head start” was obviously less than essential, even though evidence shows that early education for at-risk children is the best way to help them catch up with their wealthier peers in cognition and adds to their odds of staying out of prison in later life.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) wasn’t accepting new patients because of the shutdown. Typically 200 new patients arrive every week for experimental treatment. On average around 30 of them are children, 10 of whom have cancer.

Cancer, in fact, is the leading cause of death among children ages one to 14.  But treatment for them didn’t qualify as essential. Unlike fighting terrorism -- remember the less-likely-than-being-struck-by-lightning odds of one in 20 million -- treating kids with cancer didn’t make the cut as “protecting life and property.”

A father of two young girls in the town of Eliot, Maine, said to a National Priorities Project staffer in disbelief, “If even one kid can’t get cancer treatment, isn’t that enough to end the shutdown?”

Let this be the last time we find ourselves on the wrong side of that question. Because every day we as a nation allowed our lawmakers to keep the government closed was a day in which we as a people were complicit in replying "no."

Let this be the last time that a couple dozen Tea Party truckers are the only ones angry enough to take to the streets. The vast majority of Americans, whatever their anger when faced with pollsters or TV news interviewers, took this shutdown lying down, perhaps imagining -- incorrectly -- that they were powerless.

Let this be the last time we allow ourselves such lethargy. After all, there are 243 million Americans old enough to vote, which means 243 million ways to demand a government that serves the people instead of shutting them out.  Keep in mind that in the office of every member of Congress is a staffer tracking constituent calls. And what those constituents say actually matters in how legislators vote. They know that a flood of angry telephone calls from their home districts means legions of angry constituents ready to turn out in the next election and possibly turn them out of office.

Shutting Down Taxes

Americans, however, didn’t get angry enough to demand an end to the shutdown, perhaps at least in part because poisonous rhetoric had convinced many that the government was nothing more than a big, wasteful behemoth -- until, at least, it shut down on them. Think of these last weeks as a vivid lesson in reality, in the ways that every American is intimately connected to government services, whether by enjoying a safe food and water supply and Interstate highways, or through Meals on Wheels, cancer treatment, or tuition assistance for higher education, not to speak of Social Security checks and Medicare.

Deep in the politics of the shutdown lies another truth: that it was all about taxes -- about, to be more specific, the unwillingness of the Republicans to raise a penny of new tax revenue, even by closing egregious loopholes that give billions away to the richest Americans.  Simply shutting down the tax break on capital gains and dividends (at $83 billion annually) would be more than enough to triple funding for Head Start, domestic violence protection, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, and cancer care at the NIH.

So let this be the last time we as a nation let our elected officials cut nutrition assistance for vulnerable children at the same moment that they protect deep tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations. And let’s call recent events in Washington just what they are: breathtaking greed paired with a callous lack of concern for the most vulnerable among us.

It’s time to create a roll of dishonor and call out the lawmakers who supported the shutdown, knowing just what was involved: Mark Meadows (North Carolina, 11th congressional district), Walter Jones (NC-3), Rodney Davis (IL-13), John Mica (FL-7), Daniel Webster (FL-10), Jim Gerlach (PA-6), Justin Amash (MI-3). And that’s just to start a list that seems never to end.

Such representatives obviously should not be reelected, but we need a long-haul strategy as well -- the unsexy yet necessary systemic set of changes that will ensure our government truly represents the people. Gerrymandered district lines must be redrawn fairly, which means that citizens in each state will have to wrest control over redistricting from biased political bodies. California has set the example. Then the big money must be pulled out of political campaigns, so that our politicians learn how to be something other than talented (and beholden) fundraisers.

Finally, we must build, person by person, an electorate that’s informed enough about how our government is supposed to work to fulfill its responsibility in this democracy: to ensure, that is, that it operates in the best interests of the broadest diversity of Americans.

Ahead will be long battles. They’ll take years. And it will be worth it if, in the end, we can give the right answer to that father who asked a question that should have been on everyone’s lips.

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Men Who Kick Down Doors and the War Against Women

Picture this.  A man, armored in tattoos, bursts into a living room not his own.  He confronts an enemy.  He barks orders.  He throws that enemy into a chair. Then against a wall.  He plants himself in the middle of the room, feet widespread, fists clenched, muscles straining, face contorted in a scream of rage.  The tendons in his neck are taut with the intensity of his terrifying performance.  He chases the enemy to the next room, stopping escape with a quick grab and thrust and body block that pins the enemy, bent back, against a counter. He shouts more orders: his enemy can go with him to the basement for a “private talk,” or be beaten to a pulp right here. Then he wraps his fingers around the neck of his enemy and begins to choke her.A US Marine kicks in a locked door during a search of the village of Khabargho, Afghanistan in this photo from 2004. (Source: Wikimedia commons)

No, that invader isn’t an American soldier leading a night raid on an Afghan village, nor is the enemy an anonymous Afghan householder.  This combat warrior is just a guy in Ohio named Shane. He’s doing what so many men find exhilarating: disciplining his girlfriend with a heavy dose of the violence we render harmless by calling it “domestic.”

It’s easy to figure out from a few basic facts that Shane is a skilled predator.  Why else does a 31-year-old man lavish attention on a pretty 19-year-old with two children (ages four and two, the latter an equally pretty and potentially targeted little female)?  And what more vulnerable girlfriend could he find than this one, named Maggie: a neglected young woman, still a teenager, who for two years had been raising her kids on her own while her husband fought a war in Afghanistan?  That war had broken the family apart, leaving Maggie with no financial support and more alone than ever.

But the way Shane assaulted Maggie, he might just as well have been a night-raiding soldier terrorizing an Afghan civilian family in pursuit of some dangerous Talib, real or imagined.  For all we know, Maggie’s estranged husband/soldier might have acted in the same way in some Afghan living room and not only been paid but also honored for it.  The basic behavior is quite alike: an overwhelming display of superior force. The tactics: shock and awe.  The goal: to control the behavior, the very life, of the designated target.  The mind set: a sense of entitlement when it comes to determining the fate of a subhuman creature.  The dark side: the fear and brutal rage of a scared loser who inflicts his miserable self on others.

As for that designated enemy, just as American exceptionalism asserts the superiority of the United States over all other countries and cultures on Earth, and even over the laws that govern international relations, misogyny -- which seems to inform so much in the United States these days, from military boot camp to the Oscars to full frontal political assaults on a woman’s right to control her own body -- assures even the most pathetic guys like Shane of their innate superiority over some “thing” usually addressed with multiple obscenities.

When tyranny and violence are practiced on a grand scale in foreign lands, the practice also intensifies at home.

Since 9/11, the further militarization of our already militarized culture has reached new levels.  Official America, as embodied in our political system and national security state, now seems to be thoroughly masculine, paranoid, quarrelsome, secretive, greedy, aggressive, and violent.  Readers familiar with “domestic violence” will recognize those traits as equally descriptive of the average American wife beater: scared but angry and aggressive, and feeling absolutely entitled to control something, whether it’s just a woman, or a small wretched country like Afghanistan.

Connecting the Dots

It was John Stuart Mill, writing in the nineteenth century, who connected the dots between “domestic” and international violence.  But he didn’t use our absurdly gender-neutral, pale gray term “domestic violence.”  He called it “wife torture” or  “atrocity,” and he recognized that torture and atrocity are much the same, no matter where they take place -- whether today in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Wardak Province, Afghanistan, or a bedroom or basement in Ohio.  Arguing in 1869 against the subjection of women, Mill wrote that the Englishman’s habit of household tyranny and “wife torture” established the pattern and practice for his foreign policy.  The tyrant at home becomes the tyrant at war.  Home is the training ground for the big games played overseas.

Mill believed that, in early times, strong men had used force to enslave women and the majority of their fellow men.  By the nineteenth century, however, the “law of the strongest” seemed to him to have been “abandoned” -- in England at least -- “as the regulating principle of the world’s affairs.”  Slavery had been renounced.  Only in the household did it continue to be practiced, though wives were no longer openly enslaved but merely “subjected” to their husbands.  This subjection, Mill said, was the last vestige of the archaic “law of the strongest,” and must inevitably fade away as reasonable men recognized its barbarity and injustice.  Of his own time, he wrote that “nobody professes” the law of the strongest, and “as regards most of the relations between human beings, nobody is permitted to practice it.”

Well, even a feminist may not be right about everything.  Times often change for the worse, and rarely has the law of the strongest been more popular than it is in the United States today. Routinely now we hear congressmen declare that the U.S. is the greatest nation in the world because it is the greatest military power in history, just as presidents now regularly insist that the U.S. military is “the finest fighting force in the history of the world.”  Never mind that it rarely wins a war.  Few here question that primitive standard -- the law of the strongest -- as the measure of this America’s dwindling “civilization.”

The War Against Women

Mill, however, was right about the larger point: that tyranny at home is the model for tyranny abroad.  What he perhaps didn’t see was the perfect reciprocity of the relationship that perpetuates the law of the strongest both in the home and far away.

When tyranny and violence are practiced on a grand scale in foreign lands, the practice also intensifies at home.  As American militarism went into overdrive after 9/11, it validated violence against women here, where Republicans held up reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (first passed in 1994), and celebrities who publicly assaulted their girlfriends faced no consequences other than a deluge of sympathetic girl-fan tweets.

America’s invasions abroad also validated violence within the U.S. military itself.  An estimated 19,000 women soldiers were sexually assaulted in 2011; and an unknown number have been murdered by fellow soldiers who were, in many cases, their husbands or boyfriends.  A great deal of violence against women in the military, from rape to murder, has been documented, only to be casually covered up by the chain of command.

Violence against civilian women here at home, on the other hand, may not be reported or tallied at all, so the full extent of it escapes notice. Men prefer to maintain the historical fiction that violence in the home is a private matter, properly and legally concealed behind a “curtain.” In this way is male impunity and tyranny maintained. 

Women cling to a fiction of our own: that we are much more “equal” than we are.  Instead of confronting male violence, we still prefer to lay the blame for it on individual women and girls who fall victim to it -- as if they had volunteered. But then, how to explain the dissonant fact that at least one of every three female American soldiers is sexually assaulted by a male “superior”? Surely that’s not what American women had in mind when they signed up for the Marines or for Air Force flight training.  In fact, lots of teenage girls volunteer for the military precisely to escape violence and sexual abuse in their childhood homes or streets.

Don’t get me wrong, military men are neither alone nor out of the ordinary in terrorizing women.  The broader American war against women has intensified on many fronts here at home, right along with our wars abroad. Those foreign wars have killed uncounted thousands of civilians, many of them women and children, which could make the private battles of domestic warriors like Shane here in the U.S. seem puny by comparison.  But it would be a mistake to underestimate the firepower of the Shanes of our American world. The statistics tell us that a legal handgun has been the most popular means of dispatching a wife, but when it comes to girlfriends, guys really get off on beating them to death.

Some 3,073 people were killed in the terrorist attacks on the United States on 9/11. Between that day and June 6, 2012, 6,488 U.S. soldiers were killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing the death toll for America’s war on terror at home and abroad to 9,561.  During the same period, 11,766 women were murdered in the United States by their husbands or boyfriends, both military and civilian.  The greater number of women killed here at home is a measure of the scope and the furious intensity of the war against women, a war that threatens to continue long after the misconceived war on terror is history.

Getting the Picture

Think about Shane, standing there in a nondescript living room in Ohio screaming his head off like a little child who wants what he wants when he wants it.  Reportedly, he was trying to be a good guy and make a career as a singer in a Christian rock band.  But like the combat soldier in a foreign war who is modeled after him, he uses violence to hold his life together and accomplish his mission.

We know about Shane only because there happened to be a photographer on the scene.  Sara Naomi Lewkowicz had chosen to document the story of Shane and his girlfriend Maggie out of sympathy for his situation as an ex-con, recently released from prison yet not free of the stigma attached to a man who had done time. Then, one night, there he was in the living room throwing Maggie around, and Lewkowicz did what any good combat photographer would do as a witness to history: she kept shooting. That action alone was a kind of intervention and may have saved Maggie’s life.

In the midst of the violence, Lewkowicz also dared to snatch from Shane’s pocket her own cell phone, which he had borrowed earlier.  It’s unclear whether she passed the phone to someone else or made the 911 call herself. The police arrested Shane, and a smart policewoman told Maggie: “You know, he’s not going to stop. They never stop. They usually stop when they kill you.”

Maggie did the right thing.  She gave the police a statement.  Shane is back in prison.  And Lewkowicz’s remarkable photographs were posted online on February 27th at Time magazine’s website feature Lightbox under the heading  “Photographer As Witness: A Portrait of Domestic Violence.”

The photos are remarkable because the photographer is very good and the subject of her attention is so rarely caught on camera.  Unlike warfare covered in Iraq and Afghanistan by embedded combat photographers, wife torture takes place mostly behind closed doors, unannounced and unrecorded.  The first photographs of wife torture to appear in the U.S. were Donna Ferrato’s now iconic images of violence against women at home.

Like Lewkowicz, Ferrato came upon wife torture by chance; she was documenting a marriage in 1980 when the happy husband chose to beat up his wife. Yet so reluctant were photo editors to pull aside the curtain of domestic privacy that even after Ferrato became a Life photographer in 1984, pursuing the same subject, nobody, including Life, wanted to publish the shocking images she produced.

In 1986, six years after she witnessed that first assault, some of her photographs of violence against women in the home were published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and brought her the 1987 Robert F. Kennedy journalism award “for outstanding coverage of the problems of the disadvantaged.”  In 1991, Aperture, the publisher of distinguished photography books, brought out Ferrato’s eye-opening body of work as Living with the Enemy (for which I wrote an introduction). Since then, the photos have been widely reproduced. Time used a Ferrato image on its cover in 1994, when the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson briefly drew attention to what the magazine called “the epidemic of domestic abuse” and Lightbox featured a small retrospective of her domestic violence work on June 27, 2012.

Ferrato herself started a foundation, offering her work to women’s groups across the country to exhibit at fundraisers for local shelters and services.  Those photo exhibitions also helped raise consciousness across America and certainly contributed to smarter, less misogynistic police procedures of the kind that put Shane back in jail.

Ferrato’s photos were incontrovertible evidence of the violence in our homes, rarely acknowledged and never before so plainly seen.  Yet until February 27th, when with Ferrato’s help, Sara Naomi Lewkowicz’s photos were posted on Lightbox only two months after they were taken, Ferrato’s photos were all we had.  We needed more.  So there was every reason for Lewkowicz’s work to be greeted with acclaim by photographers and women everywhere.

Instead, in more than 1,700 comments posted at Lightbox, photographer Lewkowicz was mainly castigated for things like not dropping her camera and taking care to get Maggie’s  distraught two-year-old daughter out of the room or singlehandedly stopping the assault.  (Need it be said that stopping combat is not the job of combat photographers?) When Maggie refused, Shane began grabbing her by the face and neck, choking her. "You can either get beat up here, or we can go talk alone," he said. "Your choice." (Photo: Sara Naomi Lewkowicz)

Maggie, the victim of this felonious assault, was also mercilessly denounced: for going out with Shane in the first place, for failing to foresee his violence, for “cheating” on her already estranged husband fighting in Afghanistan, and inexplicably for being a “perpetrator.”  Reviewing the commentary for the Columbia Journalism Review, Jina Moore concluded, “[T]here’s one thing all the critics seem to agree on: The only adult in the house not responsible for the violence is the man committing it.”

They Only Stop When They Kill You

Viewers of these photographs -- photos that accurately reflect the daily violence so many women face -- seem to find it easy to ignore, or even praise, the raging man behind it all.  So, too, do so many find it convenient to ignore the violence that America’s warriors abroad inflict under orders on a mass scale upon women and children in war zones.

The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had the effect of displacing millions from their homes within the country or driving them into exile in foreign lands. Rates of rape and atrocity were staggering, as I learned firsthand when in 2008-2009 I spent time in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon talking with Iraqi refugees. In addition, those women who remain in Iraq now live under the rule of conservative Islamists, heavily influenced by Iran. Under the former secular regime, Iraqi women were considered the most advanced in the Arab world; today, they say they have been set back a century.

In Afghanistan, too, while Americans take credit for putting women back in the workplace and girls in school, untold thousands of women and children have been displaced internally, many to makeshift camps on the outskirts of Kabul where 17 children froze to death last January. The U.N. reported 2,754 civilian deaths and 4,805 civilian injuries as a result of the war in 2012, the majority of them women and children.  In a country without a state capable of counting bodies, these are undoubtedly significant undercounts. A U.N. official said, “It is the tragic reality that most Afghan women and girls were killed or injured while engaging in their everyday activities.” Thousands of women in Afghan cities have been forced into survival sex, as were Iraqi women who fled as refugees to Beirut and particularly Damascus.

That’s what male violence is meant to do to women.  The enemy.  War itself is a kind of screaming tattooed man, standing in the middle of a room -- or another country -- asserting the law of the strongest. It’s like a reset button on history that almost invariably ensures women will find themselves subjected to men in ever more terrible ways.  It’s one more thing that, to a certain kind of man, makes going to war, like good old-fashioned wife torture, so exciting and so much fun.

© 2013 Ann Jones

Ann Jones

Ann Jones, writer and photographer, is the author of seven previous books, including War Is Not Over When It's Over, Kabul in Winter, Women Who Kill, and Next Time She'll Be Dead. Since 2001, Jones has worked with women in conflict and post-conflict zones, principally Afghanistan, and reported on their concerns. An authority on violence against women, she has served as a gender adviser to the United Nations. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times and The Nation. For more information, visit her website.

Market Buzz: Eurozone GDP woes bring everyone down

AFP Photo / Spencer Platt

AFP Photo / Spencer Platt

News of another consecutive contraction in Europe for Q4 2012 depressed major indices around the world on Thursday, as investors grow increasingly doubtful about a recovery in 2013.

The eurozone’s GDP contracted 0.9% year-on-year during the last quarter of 2012, while most expected it to lose only 0.7%. “This fall turned out to be a maximum one since 1Q 2009, when the world financial crisis was at its full swing. Given this the perspective, a further recovery in 2013 becomes more uncertain,” Investcafe analyst Darya Pichugina wrote in an email.

In quarter-on-quarter terms, the eurozone GDP shrank 0.6% in Q4 2012, marking the third consecutive quarter of declining growth.

Russian stocks ended Thursday trading in the red. The RTS lost 1.51% to 1,588.31 and the MICEX was down 1.22% to 1,519.22.

The contraction in Europe’s biggest economies such as Germany and France “acted as a reminder that no one is immune to the eurozone debt crisis,” said Angus Campbell, head of market analysis at Capital Spreads.

Germany’s GDP fell 0.6% quarter-on-quarter Q4 2012, but in annual terms the economy grew 0.4%. In France, the GDP was down 0.3% both from the last quarter and from a year earlier.

European markets finished broadly lower on Thursday, with shares in Germany leading the slide. The DAX lost 1.05%, while France's CAC 40 fell 0.78% and London's FTSE 100 slipped 0.50%.

On Wall Street, major indices traded mixed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.1%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq grew 0.1%.

Better-than-expected figures from the US labor market almost lost their allure in the wake of the disappointing news from Europe. The Labor Department reported that the number of people in the US filing for first-time unemployment claims fell by 27,000 to 341,000 in the most recent week. Economists had predicted 365,000 claims.

Japanese shares are lower today as the Nikkei 225 fell 1.60%. Stock markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai are closed.

Ben Emlyn-Jones Live At New Horizons

A live lecture by anti-NWO blogger and radio show host Ben Emlyn-Jones at the New Horizons conference at St Annes, Lancashire on the 4th of February 2013. Entitled: Truth and Drugs don’t Go Together.

FilmSuck: Why America’s Great Filmmaking Tradition Went Down the Drain

It boils down to snobbery.

January 24, 2013  |  

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The following is an excerpt from the new e-book FilmSuck USA by Eileen Jones (Amazon Digital Services, Inc 2013).

That loud sucking noise you hear is American cinema going down the drain. We've been listening to that slow slurping gurgle for a long time now, and are used to it. Still, sometimes you might wonder how American cinema, which was once the best in the world, wound up circling the drain with a mournful glugging sound for years and years and years. And you might also wonder how much longer it can go on like this, before the Final Suck occurs and we're looking at nothing but empty drainpipe.

It'll never happen, you might say. That'd be like saying America's going to shut down its space program, and let other people take over, like the Russians and the Chinese and the Indians and any random jerk-off billionaire looking for an expensive hobby. Oh, wait...yeah. That already happened, didn't it?

Anyway, I have a few ideas about how it all went to hell.

Film As Work

It’s useful to note that American film was initially forged as a working-class entertainment form, generally by workers, for workers, and that this was not, in itself, a bad legacy for our national cinema. In fact, it took shape in an optimal way, making increasingly astute use of the sensational power of moving images cut together. Ours was always recognized in other filmmaking nations as a hot contender for Best Cinema, even before the period of Hollywood’s world-dominance began.

But ironically, in the USA, the world’s most boastful democracy, our basic disdain for the rabble has infected our thinking about American film from the word Go.

Unlike many European national cinemas that from the first displayed their propensity toward cinema-as-art and were embraced as such by their citizenry, early American cinema was regarded as a crude lower-class entertainment form, cranked out for profit, loved by the masses, despised by the elite. Early theaters for projected films were vaudeville houses running movie shorts between live acts catering to the hoi polloi, who liked to see dog acts and plate spinners and dance teams and slapstick comedy skits all mixed up together.

Converted-storefront “nickelodeons” exploded as the most popular entertainment venue because they were the cheapest. Virtually everyone, even the poorest, could afford to pony up a nickel to see amazing ghostlike images of ourselves walk out of a factory door at the end of a workday, deboard a train, eat breakfast, play cards, run, jump, box, kiss, dance the hoochy-koochy, and eventually, act out exciting fictional plots.

The men who got into the early, unregulated movie business on the ground floor were tough working-class guys themselves, often immigrants, looking for any kind of a break. The reason so many major Hollywood studio heads wound up being Jewish is because in the early days of cinema, Jews were kept out of most “respectable” businesses and had to stick to hardscrabble trades in marginalized industries. Famous examples: Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM Studios, born Lazer Meir, Russian immigrant, Jewish, former junk salesman; Samuel Goldwyn, head of the Samuel Goldwyn Studio, born Samuel Goldfish, Polish immigrant, Jewish, former glove salesman; Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, second-generation immigrant of German-Jewish extraction, former streetcar conductor and sheet music promoter; and the Warner Brothers of Warner Brothers Studio, Jack, Harry, Sam, Albert, born Jacob, Hirsch, Schmuel, and Aaron Wonsal, second-generation immigrants of Polish-Jewish extraction, former shoe repairmen, bicycle shopkeepers, grocers, whatever they could get.

Up through the 1910s, the upper classes and the guardians of culture tended to disparage the movies. Aspiring actors, writers, and directors seeking careers on the “legitimate stage” avoided working in movies unless they needed fast cash, in which case they sometimes worked under pseudonyms, so as not to damage their reputations. Early film critics—usually theater critics forced to cover the movies as well—held their noses while they typed complaints about the execrable mess of the movies, and urged more coherent narratives in the mode of the theatrical “well-made play.” Cultural reformers fretted about the deleterious moral effects of the movies. Not just their content—which always tended toward the violent, rowdy, and sensational—but also their mode of presentation—close-quarters seating, lights turned off, disreputable locales.

The assumption tended to be that, under cover of darkness, every working class girl was liable to get pregnant at the movies, and every immigrant boy was liable to impregnate someone or steal something or knife somebody. In short, unless prompt steps were taken, the popularity of movies would drive the working classes, always so inclined toward degeneracy, straight into the arms of Satan.

According to this thinking, lower-class children, especially, required saving, because they seemed to love movies with an all-consuming love, and also because, with early intervention, they had the capacity to become “civilized” and move up in class someday. As Richard Butsch argues in The Making of American Audiences: From Stage to Television 1750 – 1990:

Former IRS Director on Shadowy NonProfits: Investigate and Prosecute Them

501c4-donations-to-PACs.jpeg

For those of you who have been following my series on how non-profits are abused to finance right wing agendas, campaigns and elections, this is a good sign. Mother Jones reports that former IRS director Marcus Owens has called for a bright-light focus on them.

"The government's going to have to investigate them and prosecute them," says Marcus Owens, who ran the IRS' tax-exempt division for a decade and is now a lawyer in private practice. "In order to maintain the integrity of the process, they're going to be forced to take action."

In their initial applications seeking tax-exempt status under a particular provision of the tax code, section 501(c)(4), dozens of political non-profits told the IRS their political spending would be limited or, in some cases, non-existent. (Otherwise, they wouldn't qualify for this advantageous tax status, which allows them to take foreign donationsand hide the identities of their funders.) But ProPublica reported that many of those groups have spent big on politics. In 2008, for instance, the Iowa-based American Future Fund assured the IRS on its tax-exempt application that it would spend "no" money to influence elections; the same day the group mailed its application, it released a web adhailing then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and went on to spend $8 million on politicking in the 2010 elections. Americans for Responsible Leadership, an Arizona-based nonprofit, was more bold: It told the taxman it would engage in zero political work. It then spent $5.2 million backing Mitt Romney.

Regular readers know I've been banging this drum for a very long time. In recent days, I've written about Americans for Job Security, American Commitment, and the American Action Network. I have several other reports in the pipeline about even more organizations because every time one is uncovered, four more pop up.

These organizations do not simply exist to function as conduits for elections. They exist to guide large sums of money into unaccountable silos to fight against candidates and issues on a state by state basis. No issue is too small for billionaires to take up, and the real beneficiaries are the consultants, media buyers and fundraisers who are paid millions to push the message out.

Millions in, garbage out. Yes, investigate and prosecute would seem to be a no-brainer. Ironically, the only 501c4 who has had their status denied is Emerge America, a group that recruits and trains Democratic candidates. Funding for Emerge America is a drop in the bucket compared to the millions that have flowed through these nonprofits on the right-wing side. Ironically, what cost Emerge America their exemption was the truth, which they told on their application for exemption.

Conversely, right wing organizations put a lot of nonsense and lies in their applications, get approval, and the IRS never spends another moment on them. Here's an example of the crap they say:

XYZ Committee, Inc is a social welfare organization dedicated to educating and informing American citizens, in an in-depth manner, about free market principles and policies and about the importance of working together to encourage opinion leaders and public officials to support ideas, programs and policies that promote the concept of a free market.

XYZ Committee, Inc. will work to inform the general public about various public policy issues...and will promote the concept of a free market as the appropriate solution.

[...]

XYZ Committee, Inc does not plan to produce its own publications or advertisements at this time, but XYZ does intend to help other organizations plan for and create campaigns that will best communicate the policies and principles of a free market to the general public.

That particular organization received approval three months after they filed their application.

Despite repeated calls by watchdog organizations to look into the activities of Crossroads GPS and allied entities, nothing happens. Via the Mother Jones article:

Tax experts like Owens, Hill, and Tobin aren't the only ones prodding the IRS to take action. Campaign finance watchdogs have hounded the agency for years for not investigating and punishing politically active nonprofits. In a letter dated January 2, lawyers with the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, two groups that favor more regulation of political money, urged the IRS to officially deny tax-exempt status to Rove's Crossroads GPS. (The group's application is technically still pending.)

"Crossroads GPS served as little more than a campaign operation in 2012," the lawyers wrote.

Collegio, the Crossroads spokesman, has dismissed the letter as "the 25th identical letter that the partisans and ideologues at the Campaign Legal Center have sent to the IRS, and it doesn't merit anyone’s attention."

Well, yes. It absolutely merits attention. But it never seems to get any.

I will volunteer my time to the IRS to assist in the audit process of these organizations, if it would help get this done. If they allow these organizations to serve as money laundering operations for campaigns and elections, do you suppose there might be money laundering occurring in other contexts?

Get on it, IRS.

State and Local Prosecutors Can Take Down Bush

By David Swanson | Former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's new book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder" is not just a particularly good...

BREAKING: 3D printable gun ordered to shut down by government

Defense Distributed is complying, DefCad.org has gone dark Adan SalazarInfowars.comMay 9, 2013 On the Thusday, May 9 edition of the Alex Jones Show, 3D printing guru...

Activist Professor Denis Rancourt’s Judicial Lynching

Activist Professor Denis Rancourt's Judicial Lynching

by Stephen Lendman

Rancourt reflects academia's best, most competent, most responsible and bravest. He has two blog sites. Visit them for updated information.

Activist Teacher and U of O Watch provide updates. They explain what most people can't imagine. 

What happened to Rancourt can happen to anyone responsibly challenging what's too deplorable to accept.

Injustice defines Western societies. Canada marches in lockstep with Washington. 

Rogue state ruthlessness defines both countries. Imperial priorities matter most. Inviolable laws don't matter. Nor judicial fairness. 

Rancourt is a distinguished University of Ottawa (U of O) professor. He's tenured. He's a recognized physics and environmental science expert.

Students loved him. He's a "phenomenal teacher," they said. He didn't teach to the test like in America.

He prioritized learning. He inspired academic achievement. He supports fundamental human and civil rights.

Political activism caused his dismissal. University of Ottawa's campus isn't safe. President Allan Rock is a former Canadian politician. 

He runs U of O like his private fiefdom. Like a police state. He's unprincipledly hard right. He ignores fundamental Canadian law doing so.

Academic freedom doesn't matter. Or free thought, opinion or expression. U of O is a hotbed of fascist extremism. It's inhospitable to learning.

U of O Law Professor Joanne St. Lewis colluded with Rock. She did so against Rancourt. 

She sued him unjustifiably. She wants $1 million. She irresponsibly charged racism.

It related to his legitimate blog site comments. He called St. Lewis a "house negro." He cited Malcolm X. He first used the term.

A 2011 Statement of Claim (SOC) against Rancourt said:

"The Defendant's conduct and actions are reprehensible insulting, high-handed, spiteful, and outrageous." 

"Such conduct warrants condemnation by this Court by means of an award of punitive damages." 

It spuriously claimed "(t)he Defendant defamed Professor St. Lewis in furtherance of his personal animosity towards President Allan Rock and the University of Ottawa which terminated him as a Professor."

U of O pays all St. Lewis legal fees. Doing so smacks of collusion. It violates Rancourt's Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For over three years, he's battled for justice so far denied. One-on-one against St. Lewis is one thing.

Against U of O maliciousness another. Against courts piling on something else entirely. Against systemic injustice matters most.

Cynthia McKinney is special. She's extraordinary. She's an exception that proves the rule. She's a true profile in courage. 

She supports right over wrong. She does it courageously. She's a committed human/civil rights champion.

She was Georgia's House of Representatives first African American member.

She represented Georgia's 11th district. She did so from January 1993 - January 2003. 

She was 2008 Green Party presidential candidate. She's close to receiving her doctorate.

She supports judicial fairness. She wants Rancourt given no less. She's involved helping him get what he's so far denied.

He was fired for doing the right thing. Over three years of battling judicially followed. It's not east challenging systemic injustice.

McKinney circulated a petition. It protests Ontario Superior Court Judge Michel Z. Charbonneau's judicial lynching.

Rancourt is his own legal defense. He taught himself law to do so. During his opening jury statement, Charbonneau silenced him. 

He did so reprehensibly. He acted extrajudicially. He took the law into his own hands. He twisted it irresponsibly.

He prohibited Rancourt's fundamental right to speak. He violated Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It's a constitutional bill of rights. It states:

"Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association."

Article 7 assures "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person and the right not to be deprived thereof in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."

Academic and speech freedoms are inviolable. So is the right to a fair and just legal defense. America denies them. So does Canada.

Doing so reflects police state injustice. Charbonneau is more hanging than real judge. He shames the office he holds.

He has no legitimacy whatever. Rancourt walked out of court in disgust. He explained why, saying:

"On May 16, 2014, at 10:00 AM, in courtroom #36 of the Ottawa Courthouse of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, I walked out from the trial in which I am being sued, and in which I was representing myself without a lawyer." 

"The trial is continuing in my absence, before a Jury of my peers." He continued, adding:

"Your Honour, the law foresees that I must be free to advance the very serious charge of “reasonable apprehension of bias."

"It is very difficult for me to make this intervention. Give me five minutes because I must present the new evidence."

"During my motion of May 7, 2014, asking that Your Honour recuse himself, Your Honour's decision was silent on the central point that I had made that Your Honour's decisions in this action could affect the reputation of the University of Ottawa and affect the monetary value of its scholarships, to which Your Honour donates money regularly and annually." 

"Then, on the first day of trial, Monday May 12 of this week, we did a motion in the afternoon, a so-called 'Voir Dire,' with detailed facta." 

"Mr. Dearden (plaintiff's lawyer) brought the motion with a factum of 32 pages served on May 9 and accompanied by a book of authorities of 347 pages." 

"His motion was to eliminate my defence called 'Litigation by proxy contrary to the Charter.' "

"I answered with a factum of May 9 containing 14 pages and accompanied by a book of authorities of 342 pages." 

"I argued in detail that, in fact, my defense was a defence of abuse of process having three branches, with one branch being the 'Jameel' defence based on a 2005 decision of the England and Wales Court of Appeal: Dow Jones Inc. v. Jameel, and I pointed to paragraphs 68 to 71 of my 'Statement of Defence' as pleading this Jameel defence." 

"The decision of this Court (of Your Honour) was pronounced on May 14 regarding the said motion or Voir Dire: The paragraphs 61 to 67 of the Statement of Defence were struck." 

"Paragraphs 68 to 71 remained intact, as did my Jameel defence."

"Then, on May 15, yesterday, during my Opening Statement, the Court allowed Mr. Dearden to interrupt me when I was explaining my Jameel defence to the Jury." 

"And Your Honour, off the cuff, struck and forbade my Jameel defence despite my protest, and despite the fact of not having done so when Your Honour should have done so if you had had that intension."

"It has been more than three years that I have been fighting for procedural justice in this action - and my 'Statement of Claim' is struck, cut into pieces, before my eyes during my Opening Statement, in contradiction with the considered decision of May 14 of Your Honour."

"This would give nightmares to Kafka himself."

"To my eyes, we are no longer in Canada - and we can no longer claim to have a system of justice in this action before you Your Honour."

"I am outraged by this gag order imposed in a manner that is apparently arbitrary, which does not allow me to be heard and to 'have my day in court.' "

"I have pleaded 'abuse of process' at every step and now, at trial itself, I don't even have the right to say that the University of Ottawa is entirely financing the plaintiff or the right to use the Jameel defense that applies to situations where the defendant advances a lack of actual damage to reputation, that’s 'actual' damage, and to 'reputation,' not some other kind of damage."

"I was very disturbed by these incomprehensible events, and I have been deeply perturbed all day yesterday; confused also, as a self-represented litigant." 

"This morning I inform the Court that I can no longer participate in such a process." 

"Therefore, I'm leaving this unjust process. You will take the decisions in my absence. It's over for me: I’m leaving."

McKinney represents Rancourt's fight for justice. He deserves universal support. He's battling Canadian injustice singlehandedly. 

He's doing it on a shoestring. He performed courageously. He accomplished what few others would dare.

He's a true justice champion. He's a modern-day Don Quixote. He's battling an entire judicial system. He's entitled to fair proceedings. 

A "judge cannot be or appear to be biased," said McKinney. Each side deserves due process. Fairness requires defendants knowing charges against them.

Defenses available must be be permitted. "(A)fter more than three years of legal procedures," said McKinney, "Charbonneau summarily denied Rancourt's opening jury statement."

His main defense. Without justification. Without legal basis. With unconscionable bias. One-sidedly supporting his opponent.

Perhaps unprecedented or close to it. Doing so was outrageously egregious. It reflected hanging court injustice. It has no legal standing.

Under Canadian law, Rancourt's trial continues without him.

Prior to trial, he asked formerly involved Regional Senior Judge Charles Hackland to appoint a case judge with no U of O connection.

Charbonneau is an alumnus. He's an endowment fund contributor. His university connection disqualifies him. 

He's unfit to serve. He's judge, jury and executioner.

Rancourt formally petitioned him to recuse himself. He refused to do so. He acted irresponsibly.

"Help defend justice," Mckinney urged. Sign the attached petition. It tells national, provincial and regional Canadian chief justices to halt trial proceedings.

Start over. Under a new judge. With no U of O ties. Under scrupulously free, fair and open proceedings. 

With both sides treated justly. With due process respected. With jurors given all relevant information. 

With them able to decide responsibly. With justice prevailing. With assuring it above all else.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

No Joy to the World This Christmas

No Joy to the World This Christmas

by Stephen Lendman

How can there be with wars raging out-of control! Who's celebrating while mass slaughter and destruction persist?

No Christmas cheer this year for billions. No Feliz Navidad. No happy holiday. No Wise Men spreading good will. 

No silent, holy night. No decking the halls. No herald angels singing. None heard on high. 

No coming all ye faithful. No telling it on the mountain. No merry gentlemen resting. No peace on earth coming upon a midnight clear.

No most wonderful time of the year. No having yourself a merry little Christmas. No holly jolly one. No wishing you one in times of war, injustice and human suffering. Imagine them on an unprecedented scale. 

No frosty the snowman fun. No winter wonderland. No jingle bells joy. No auld lang syne.

No Christmas 2014 to remember. No Santa on his sleigh. None coming to town. No gifts for billions. 

No peace with war winds raging. None with growing global human misery. America is Scrooge writ large. It's the Grinch that stole Christmas.

Scoundrel media editors claim otherwise. They support the worst of all possible worlds. They pretend aggressive wars are liberating ones. 

They claim nations are destroyed to free them. They call imperial dominance democracy.

They glorify wars in the name of peace. Humanitarian intervention and responsibility to protect (R2P) mask ravaging one country after another. Mass slaughter and destruction reflect it. 

They call plunder economic development. They pretend Christmas 2014 reflects peace and good on earth. 

They ignore what matters most. They turn a blind eye to America's imperial savagery. Unprecedented human misery reflects it. 

It persists globally. They sweep it under the rug. They air brush it from history. They ignore reality. Hypocrisy and indifference substitute.

New York Times editors headlined "This Day of Good Cheer." They called it "the most joyous and the most richly seasonal."

"Christmas can seem, somehow, outside the sequence of the ordinary year," they said. 

How can it be when billions endure poverty, unemployment, hunger and homelessness? Millions more suffer the scourge of war. 

Festiveness doesn't top their agenda. Survival matters most. Christmas is no different from other days. It's not a day off from human misery. It doesn't stop mass slaughter and destruction.

Not according to New York Times editors. It's "a day of good cheer," they said. It "comes to life on just this one holiday." 

It's "enough to be here today," they claim. How can it be when unprecedented human misery overwhelms it?

Washington Post editors headlined "The Christmas story, still captivating the world."

A decades earlier radio program was called "The Greatest Story Ever Told." It related biblical narratives. It was popular at the time. It inspired a Hollywood film by the same name.

One Bible story remained popular, said WaPo editors. It's "a tale of universal appeal." It's "a story of love and triumph over adversity and also of humility, of the good to be found in the most modest of circumstances."

It reflects the spirit of Francis of Assisi, they said. He preached "reverence for all living things." He created the first manger creche.

His "living Christmas story was taken up in many towns and villages." They created their own manger scenes. They reflect the seasonal spirit.

"Their basic appeal lay in their warmth, humanity and simplicity." It's an "enduring reflection of...'comfort and joy,' " said WaPo editors.

For whom they didn't explain. For billions it doesn't exist. Human misery is their daily reality. WaPo editors substituted illusion for unconscionable human suffering.

Chicago Tribune editors headlined "As Christmas dawns." They published the same Christmas day editorial since 1988. 

Perhaps they have no original thoughts. Maybe they don't care about what's most important. They asked:

"What is this day, this Christmas, that dawns with a chorus of joy? What river of love and magic speeds the message from that moment of wonder in Bethlehem across the cold darkness of centuries long forgotten?" 

"How does it warm us this morning as we awaken in a world the Wise Men could scarcely imagine to a radiance that once each year makes it all just a little bit better?"

For whom, Tribune editors didn't say. For America's 1%, it never was better. For most others, it's lump of coal harshness. 

Joy didn't arrive Christmas morning. It won't appear later in the day. Or the next one. Or throughout the holiday season. 

It's absent throughout the year. So is the "Prince of Peace." No "(s)ing(ing) out the praises of Christmas... (No) sing(ing) them in shouts and whispers."

Tribune editors support the worst of imperial harshness. They deplore peace and good will. They claim otherwise.

They hypocritically said "remember…the pain of others...the Christmas joy of sharing out humanity."

"We are our brothers' and our sisters' keepers...Rejoice in the accumulated sights and sounds of the season that fill us this Christmas Day."

..."(W)e praise this day, this Christmas, that dawns with a chorus of joy."

Tell it to Chicago's homeless. Imagine sleeping outside in sub-freezing temperatures. Imagine having to beg for nickels, dimes and quarters. Imagine needing them to buy bare bones food.

Imagine having nowhere to go when sick. Imagine no one able to change things caring. Imagine suffering out of sight and mind.

In July 2013, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimated around 116,000 affected Chicagoans.

It's 10% higher than year ago numbers. It includes nearly 19,000 students. Around 98% are children of color. An estimated 20% have disabilities and development delays.

On December 13, the US Conference of Mayors Hunger 2013 Homelessness Survey said Chicago homelessness increased 11.4% year-over-year.

Perhaps Tribune editors didn't notice. Maybe they don't care.

Los Angeles Times editors headlined " 'Miracles' of 2013: Some of our favorites."

Christians annually commemorate Christ's birth. LA Times editors call it "one of the central miracles of the New Testament."

No peace and good will miracles arrived Christmas morning 2013. Expect none throughout the holiday season for billions worldwide.

None appeared throughout 2013. Expect none next year. LA Times editors turned a blind eye to what's most important. They ignored Obama's war on humanity. They said nothing about global human suffering.

They focused on trivia. They highlighted NASA's Voyager 1 mission. It's "ventur(ing) out of our solar system." It's "a singular achievement in humanity's quest for knowledge," they said.

How about waging peace, not war. What about alleviating human misery. What about prioritizing right over wrong? How about replacing dismissiveness with caring.

Times editors expressed angst about not intervening directly against Syria. They said eliminating its chemical weapons may "solidify" Assad's hold on power.

They called Republicans and Democrats "compromis(ing)" on 2014's budget "amazing." Both parties agreed on deeper lump of coal harshness for millions.

They gave bankers, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and America's super-rich virtually everything they wanted. 

They're waging war on social justice. Perhaps Times editors didn't notice. Maybe they don't care.

They discussed a meteor "the size of a small building." It "hurtled toward Russia...in February." It crashed near Chelyabinsk in Siberia. Miraculously it didn't kill anyone, they said.

Imagine calling temporarily switching off LA billboards a 2013 highlight. They called ending city mayoral debates another one.

They claim Washington began negotiating with Iran in good faith. They ignored Obama breaching Geneva terms straightaway. His notion of good faith is none at all.

Times editors' 2013 highlights are ill-chosen. Why is LA's Museum of Contemporary Art quadrupling its endowment more important than millions of city residents struggling to get by?

Why is a so-called "layaway Santa" initiative? An anonymous benefactor is involved. He visits stores. He pays for toys parents had on layaway. He does it in LA County.

What about sheltering its homeless. How about feeding its hungry. What about employing county residents without jobs. How about giving underemployed Angelinos better ones.

What about freeing lawlessly imprisoned county inmates. What about doing so much more to relieve area human misery. 

Why is it ignored? Why is it allowed to fester? Why is it permitted to deepen each year? 

Why don't city and county officials change things? Why do they do nothing? Why don't Times editors hold them accountable? Why not on Christmas day? Why not throughout the year?

Wall Street Journal editors did Tribune counterparts one better. They've run the same Christmas day editorial since 1949. 

Vermont Royster (1914 - 1996) wrote it. He was WSJ's editorial page editor from 1958 to 1971. 

He headlined "In Hoc Anno Domini (in this year of our lord)." He discussed ancient Rome. "There was oppression," he said.

He highlighted Rome's "tax gatherer." It took "grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people."

There was "persecution" and "enslavement...Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's."

"…Paul of Tarsus...spoke to his brethren." His words would be remembered. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

Royster won two Pulitzer Prizes. His editorials and other writing reflected lump of coal harshness. He deplored social justice.

Dow Jones & Company began publishing the WSJ in July 1889. In  August 2007, Rupert Murdoch bought it. 

Throughout its history, hard right opinion shut out progressive fairness. Under Murdoch, it does so more than ever.

Royster championed free markets over fair ones. So do current Journal editors. They believe whatever government does, business does better so let it.

They want every one left on their own sink or swim. They believe whatever is good for business is good for America. 

They support corporate and super-rich privilege over social justice. Power and profits matter most of all.

What would Jesus say today? What would he think about today's America? What would he do? 

How would he address ideological extremism? What would he say about neoliberal harshness? How would he contest destructive dark forces?

He preached nonviolent resistance. He lived it. He taught it. He deplored injustice. He urged "go(ing) the second mile." He said "love your enemies. (D)o good to those who persecute you."

He spread revolutionary ideas. He opposed exploitive imperial harshness. Today he'd preach peace, equity and justice. He'd oppose war. He'd resist it.

Doing the right thing is its own reward. Doing it every day matters most. Imagine if everyone felt this way. Imagine a world at peace.

Imagine wars consigned to the dustbin of history. Imagine loving thy neighbor having real meaning. Imagine doing unto others responsibly. 

Imagine a world fit to live in. Imagine it with liberty and justice for all. Imagine it on Christmas. Imagine it throughout the year.

John Donne was a poet, lawyer and cleric. "No man is an island," he said. We're all part of humanity.

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." 

"(N)ever send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."

It does so most in times of war. It bears repeating. It doesn't take time off for Christmas. It doesn't do it throughout the holiday season. Mass killing and destruction have lives of their own.

Hemingway's novel discussed "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Its background was the Spanish civil war. In times of all wars, it tolls for thee.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/joy-world-christmas/

UK Orders WSJ To Withold Names Of Implicated LIBOR Manipulators After Story Already Hits...

In what is a staggering example of not only state meddling in the affairs of the "free press", but worse, sheer state idiocy, yesterday the WSJ posted an article on its website revealing that as many as 24 co-conspirators would be exposed shortly in the ongoing Libor manipulation scandal and divulging the names of various individuals on this list. What promptly followed was truly bizarre. As the WSJ reports shortly after posting the article, "a British judge ordered the Journal and David Enrich, the newspaper's European banking editor, to comply with a request by the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office prohibiting the newspaper from publishing names of individuals not yet made public in the government's ongoing investigation into alleged manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor." This happened at 7:18 pm London time, after the original WSJ article had already hit the Internet.

The WSJ added that "The order, which applies to publication in England and Wales, also demanded that the Journal remove "any existing Internet publication" divulging the details. It threatened Mr. Enrich and "any third party" with penalties including a fine, imprisonment and asset seizure."

As a result, the media organization decided to comply with this gross example state censorship, and now in the place of the article, one could find the following note:

... but not before protesting vocally.

The article said the government was preparing to name roughly two dozen traders and brokers, adding that prosecutors were still finalizing their plans and that the list could change, citing people familiar with the process. Inclusion on the list doesn't represent a formal accusation of wrongdoing and doesn't mean the individuals will be charged with crimes.

"This injunction is a serious affront to press freedom," said Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Journal. "We have been left with no choice but to remove the previously published story from WSJ.com and to withhold publication from the print edition of The Wall Street Journal Europe. However, we will continue to vigorously fight the injunction in the coming days."

Yet it is not the censorship that is most shocking here, but the way the UK's SFO went about scrubbing the trail. Because while the European version of the newspaper may have retracted the article from today's print edition, the piece was still in the US version. Furthermore, since the original WSJ article hit the net before it was pulled, it was promptly picked up and reforwarded by either robotic or manned resyndicators of the WSJ. One such example was ValueWalk which took down the salient details that the SFO is so concerned about:

Among those who could be name are several of Hayes’ former coworkers at both Citigroup Inc and UBS AG. Michael Pieri, who was Hayes’ boss while he worked at UBS, was fired by the bank and moved to Australia. Hayes’ former assistant at UBS, Mirhat Alykulov, could also be on the list. Sources said he has been cooperating with investigators from the U.S.

Another name which could be on the SFO’s list is Christopher Cecere, who was Hayes’ boss while he worked in Citigroup’s Tokyo operations. Cecere resigned from his position at Citigroup around the same time Hayes was fired. Other people who could be on the list are ex HSBC Holdings plc trader Luke Madden, former JPMorgan Chase & Co. employee Paul Glands, and former Rabobank employee Paul Robson.

And, of course, the full list is in today's US print edition of the WSJ. Which begs the question: aside from matter of state censorship and free press intervention, what exactly did the UK hope to achieve here? After all, a cursory one minute search would reveal all the names hidden, but now the extra buzz generated by UK's attempt to quash the story, merely made it that much more interesting to all, and whereas some may have skipped it - after all who really cares about Libor manipulation anymore considering the entire market is openly manipulated by the Fed now - now everyone will focus on the names that were purposefully withheld.

Sheer statist stupidity.

The letter sent to the WSJ is below:

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Corporations Rake in Record Profits, Yet Pay Half...

In today's On the News segment: After yesterday's landmark challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the pro-equality crowd is hopeful; corporations rake in record profits and pay half as much in taxes as they did just a few decades ago; the Senate will begin voting on gun-control legislation next month; at least 6.2 million children have at least one unemployed parent; and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. After yesterday's landmark challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the pro-equality crowd is hopeful that the Supreme Court will strike down the discriminatory law. During the oral arguments, the majority of the Justices seemed ready to strike down DOMAs key provision, which denies same-sex couples the right to all the federal benefits of marriage. The liberal justices expressed obvious concerns over DOMA's impact on same-sex couples, and the usual swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, seemed to conclude that the law infringed on state's rights to define gay marriage. The Court's most conservative justice, Antonin Scalia, expressed frustration at the President and the Attorney General for refusing to defend the law. The most notable moment of yesterday's arguments came from Chief Justice John Roberts, when he attempted to make the case that the “gay lobby” was too politically powerful to warrant constitutional protection. Roberts suggested that lawmakers are “falling all over themselves” to legalize gay marriage, as if to imply the LGBT community doesn't meet the “heightened scrutiny” requirement to be considered a protected class. But the fact is, more than 30 states in our nation have laws on the books barring same-sex marriage. LGBT families still have a long fight ahead to achieve full equality. The Supreme Court is expected to issue their ruling on DOMA, and Tuesday's Prop 8 case, later this year. Let's hope they strike down both discriminatory laws, and pave the way for same-sex couples to marry in every state in our nation. 

In screwed news... As corporations rake in record profits, they're paying half as much in corporate taxes as they did just a few decades ago. A recent analysis by the Washington Post found that in the 1960's and 1970's, federal taxes of major U.S. corporations represented 25 to 50 percent of worldwide profits. However, today 22 of the 30 companies in Dow Jones Industrial Average are benefiting from effective tax rates that are 10 points lower. Despite the Republican talking point that the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, most of these major corporations utilize off-shore tax havens to stash away huge profits. These corporations use our roads, waterways, electric girds, and environmental resources to generate their historic profits, yet we're letting them get away with paying virtually nothing for that privilege. It's time to end the tax breaks for companies that ship jobs – and profits – overseas.

In the best of the rest of the news...

Next month, the Senate will begin voting on gun-control legislation, and advocates of stricter gun laws are out reminding legislators that it's time for real reform. Today, gun-control groups are staging a “National Day to Demand Action,” which will include more than 140 public events in 29 different states throughout our country. Mayors Against Illegal Guns will also be running a $12 million television ad campaign this week, to target senators in 13 states who have yet to voice their support for new gun control regulations. The Washington Post reports that today, President Obama held a press conference with mothers who support gun restrictions, and yesterday, Vice President Biden took part in a conference call with gun-control activists. On that call, the Vice President said “I think we're on the verge of getting a serious, thorough, universal background check system in place, and it will save lives.” It appears the gun-lobby may finally be losing it's grip on Congress, and we may finally see some real gun-control reform. It's about time.

Even before Republican austerity measures took effect, one out six children in our nation were already impacted by unemployment. According to a new study from First Focus and the Urban Institute, at least 6.2 million children have at least one unemployed parent, and a staggering 12.1 million kids live in homes with a parent who is underemployed. In 2012, the average weekly unemployment benefit was only $299, and the sequester cuts that amount by almost 10%. So, families struggling to survive now find life even more difficult to afford. As The Think Progress Blog points out, the effect of an unemployed parent can have long-term consequences for children. These kids will likely have lower math scores and poor attendance records, and they will be more likely to fall into poverty later in life. Children our are future – and that's more than a cliché. It's the truth. They are the people who will be running our country someday. There are many reasons we need to put a stop to the Republican austerity, and the devastating effect it has on our children should be reason number one. 

And finally… Video game lovers have a new reason to attend minor-league baseball games in Pennsylvania. That's because the men's urinals at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs' Coca-Cola Park will soon feature the world's only, truly hands-free video game. Video screens mounted above the urinals in the park bathrooms challenge players to “steer” along a snowmobile course, and try to hit cartoon penguins along the way. The game is aimed at increasing men's awareness of prostate health, and features messages throughout the game reminding men to get a prostate exam. The new games will be available for use when the IronPigs' season starts next week. The team spokesman, Jon Schaffer, said they bought the restroom entertainment from a UK company, called Captive Media. He said, “They told us with certainty that it's not in any other sports venue in the world.” The games are already in use in bars in the United Kingdom, but the IronPigs will be the first to offer “p-controlled” video games in the U.S. The games will likely be a hit with men in the ball park, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them in more venues before long. Soon, men everywhere will have a new excuse for why they spend extra time in the bathroom.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, March 28, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news. 

Environmental Crisis in the Amazon due to Oil Contamination. Peru Declares State of Emergency

The Peruvian government has declared an environmental state of emergency after finding elevated levels of lead, barium, and chromium in the Pastaza River in the Amazon jungle, reports the Associated Press. Indigenous peoples in the area have been complaining for decades of widespread contamination from oil drilling, but this is the first time the Peruvian government has acknowledged their concerns. Currently 84 percent of the Peruvian Amazon is covered by potential oil blocs, leading to conflict with indigenous people and environmental degradation.

The Peruvian Environment Minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, said that Pluspetrol, which has operated the oil bloc in question—1 AB—since 2001, would be liable for cleaning up the pollution. But the minister also noted that Occidental Petroleum, which operated the bloc from 1971-2001, had not been environmentally responsible in its operations either.

River in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
River in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
The news comes shortly after Peru set forth its first environmental standards for soil pollution, which the government claims is what led to the announcement of the state of emergency. For the first time Peruvian experts had standards by which to measure contamination in the Pastaza River bed.

Pluspetrol now has 90 days to clean up the Pastaza River and mitigate risk to the local Quichua and Ashuar peoples.

Peru has 659,937 square kilometers of its Amazon rainforest (84 percent) under actual and potential oil and gas development, an area larger than Afghanistan. Not surprisingly—given the scale—many of the oil blocs cover indigenous lands and protected areas. Such concessions not only imperil indigenous groups and the forest itself, but also many tribes that live in voluntary isolation who are especially susceptible to disease.

Meanwhile oil companies are complaining that Peru’s regulatory process is stifling the development of the country’s oil fields. Dow Jones Newswires reports that 16 oil companies have come together to lobby the Peruvian government on increasing oil production.

In 2009 conflict between oil development and indigenous rights erupted in violence. A clash between protestors and government police lead to the deaths of 23 police officers and at 10 indigenous protestors. Indigenous groups have since accused the government police of hiding protesters bodies in order to hide the scale of the violence.

Economics and the Twin Horsemen of the New Apocalypse

What is the purpose of the economy?

When you get down to it, this is the question of our time.

How we answer it determines whether we will be able to sustain civilization as we know it beyond the mid-century.

Yet most of economics concerns itself with what an economy does, not what its goal is or ought to be.  For example, much of economic policy can be summed up in the words of Harvard economist, Dani Rodrick, who distilled economic development down to the a three word mantra, "stabilize, privatize and liberalize."

To what end? That question isn’t even considered. The implicit assumptions, of course, are maximizing economic growth and creating more wealth. 

These two unexamined assumptions are the twin horsemen of the new apocalypse.

People generally have a sense of what is meant by growth, but the concept of what constitutes wealth is a bit more elusive.  Most definitions offered by economists can be represented by a statement like this: those material things which are produced by labor, can satisfy human wants, and must have an exchange value.  Note that money – or currency – is not wealth in this definition.  But, the exchange value we use to measure wealth is money.

Whether that growth is distributed fairly and whether it exceeds the capacity of the environment to sustain, is either assumed away by the Invisible Hand, or dismissed disdainfully by economists as the province of philosophers and other soft academics in squishy social disciplines.

In fact, many economists—schooled by the most popular text in the discipline, Paul Samuelson’s Economics, or one of its many newer incarnations—take pride in saying that their discipline is non-normative—that is, amoral.  Not immoral, but operating outside the context of values, ethics and morality. 

Moreover, because the discipline is intent on being a quantitative science, economics as a field discarded the essence of what an economy should be about in exchange for the ability to “hide in thickets of algebra” as Joan Robinson put it.  A classic example of Whitehead’s Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness, in which the abstract ideal is treated as the tangible reality.

For the last 50 years we’ve been steering our national economy, as well as international economic policy, by this amoral, future blind, compass.  No other discipline dominates political theory and practice as much as economics. 

Which goes a long way toward explaining exactly why our economy is so unjust and our ecosystem is in imminent danger of collapsing.

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz captured this failure when he said:

We always want to keep in mind what the function, the purpose, of the economy is. […] the purpose of an economy is not producing GDP. It is increasing the welfare of citizens, and it is increasing the welfare of most citizens. And the American economic system has failed, and failed very badly.  

Let’s examine the two assumptions: 1) the purpose of an economy is to create more wealth and 2) wealth is measured by currency.

As Robert Costanza pointed out, the annual value of just 17 ecosystem services  (PDF) exceeds the value of the entire human economy, yet that value is treated as an externality – that is, these services are not even priced in the market.  So our definition of “wealth” leaves out debts that exceed the entire income stream from the human economy.

And Costanza’s work was done before we had a good understanding the extent of climate change and the enormous costs it imposes upon us.

So in essence, we are liquidating the real basis of wealth, natural capital, and counting it as wealth creation.  So much for wealth.

Now, let’s look at currency.  As Chris Martenson puts it, money is not wealth, it is merely a claim on wealth.  But it can grow indefinitely while the world is finite.  So we end up with a claim on wealth that far exceeds any available wealth.  Which is debt. 

If the function of an economy is merely wealth creation, then we need to redefine wealth, or it is self-terminating.  Oh, and it will take us along for the ride. 

We can see the bow wave of this destruction with climate change, ocean acidity, accumulated toxins, depleted resources. 

The real purpose of an economy has to be something much different that what we use to formulate policy.  Joseph Stiglitz’ purpose—increasing the welfare of most citizens—had it half right.  A billboard spotted in Johannesburg, South Africa during the World Summit on Sustainable Development probably made as good a statement on the appropriate goal of the economy as any:  “Enough for everyone, forever.”

An economy designed around this goal would look completely different than today’s “Everything for a few, right now,” economy does.

It would steward ecosystem services and resources using taxes, subsidies, tariffs, and property rights.  The idea of distributional equity would not be a blasphemy, but a pragmatic response to the natural tendency of capital to get concentrated in the hands of the few, and a recognition that a market economy can’t function without generalized prosperity.

Co-ops and employee-owned companies would be the most common ownership model; CEOs wouldn’t get 800 times the minimum wage.  There’d be no Bill Gates making some $218,000 and hour.  Fossil fuels would be heavily taxed, and the revenue they generated would help fund a low cost transition to a carbon-free economy.

The daily business report would feature an index based on environmental health and resource stocks, not the Dow Jones Index of paper stocks.

But we’re not likely to see such an economy.  Both major parties are busy trying to maximize paper currency at the expense of natural capital—the source of real wealth.

John Atcheson

John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, an eco-thriller and Book One of a Trilogy centered on global warming. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News and other major newspapers. Atcheson’s book reviews are featured on Climateprogess.org.

The Long Hot Summer of 2013

I spent a couple of nights last week on the lookout for a cloud of rising smoke. From the chimney at the Vatican? No, thank you -- there were already thousands of journalists around the globe fixated on the ancient mystical wizardry in St. Peter's Square. I was a lot more concerned that black smoke was going to rise from the damp, raw streets of East Flatbush, in a corner of Brooklyn many blocks removed from the high-tech glitz of that borough's new Barclays Center. Night after night, hundreds of young people -- most from the neighborhood -- marched on their local police station house because they wanted answers to a simple question.

Why was a 16-year-old boy named Kimani Gray shot seven times by the New York cops -- three times in the back?

Of course, I had to follow the waves of Brooklyn protest -- which teetered for a time on the brink of a riot -- by way of Twitter, since the mainstream media gave very slight, and usually belated, coverage to the doings in East Flatbush. I guess issues of law and order, civil rights and civil unrest, and the right to assemble on a major street right here in the United States can't really compete with the nearly 2000-year-old rituals of wrinkled men with their bright robes and their white smoke.

Still, I couldn't help but think that -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- there's something happening here. Maybe it was because East Flatbush wasn't the only place in America where unusual things were taking place -- the scattered shrieks of regular people who've been pushed to the edge. As the protests in Brooklyn dragged on, I heard the annual budget speech from the mayor of Philadelphia drowned out and finally shut down by the voice of angry blue-collar municipal workers, frustrated that City Hall will no longer listen to them. Just a couple of weeks ago and about 10 blocks away, so many Philly teens, parents and teachers were so upset at the knee-jerk closing of 23 neighborhood public schools that they filled the expanse of Broad Street as they tried to flood the room where the vote was taking place.

There were 19 people arrested at the Philly school shutdown; about 45 arrested in various encounters and scuffles with the NYPD in Brooklyn. All of these events were treated by the media as a total out-of-left-field shock -- as if a spaceship had landed from Mars and deposited these mad-as-hell aliens on the hardscrabble streets of the inner city. And if you haven't been paying attention, you'd indeed think these scattered events had nothing to do with each other. But to the contrary, the same river of bruised blood runs through all of them -- people who are at long last tired of the drumbeat of disrespect.

grayriot.jpg

Yes, there's the daily harassment of stop-and-frisk, the yearly push for just one more wage cut or pension givebacks even as CEO pay -- and that of top governmental aides -- never seems to stop going up, or thebillionaire-funded death of the dream of educational opportunity for all. But the real reason we're at the snapping point is even more simple than that.

It keeps coming back to a famous quote that I saw pinging around the Internet a lot last week after it was repeated by the city councilman for East Flatbush, Jumanne Williams, at a hearing. It was uttered by Dr. Martin Luther King in a famous address known as "The Other America" speech. He delivered it a couple of times, including outside of Detroit just months after that city had erupted in flames. The civil rights leader re-affirmed his lifelong commitment to non-violent solutions, but he added this:

I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.

Dr. King was murdered exactly three weeks to the day later.

Flash forward 45 years later, and there are many conditions in American society that need to be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots, arguably more than there were in Dr. King's time -- obscene income inequalitystagnant wages, record levels of long-term unemployment, a diminished watchdog media, failing urban schools, militarized police departments and civil rights abuses from rampant spying to a crackdown on public-serving whistleblowers to targeted assassinations.

It's reached the point where people are straining to be heard over the drone of our all-encompassingkleptocracy. It almost broke loose once, in 2011, with the realization that both political parties were selling out the middle-class in a phony debt crisis, and then the world was stunned by the out-of-nowhere Occupy movement -- thousands of unheard struggling to find their own language. That movement faltered for a variety of reasons, including the risen-again hope that democracy in 2012 could redress the people's grievances.

I think those hopes may have crossed a Rubicon, then crashed and burned for good earlier this month when the Dow Jones hit an all-time record, corporate profits swelled -- and not a dime of it trickled down to the American worker, who has watched nearly every dollar of income growth in recent years accumulate to the 1 Percent.

Into this tinderbox walked the 16-year-old Brooklyn kid named Kimani Gray. Those seven police gunshots later, his short life was over. The naysayers were quick to point to Kimani's flirtation with the gangs of East Flatbush and several arrests, and the allegation by police -- fiercely disputed by eyewitnesses -- that he had a gun and pointed it at the plainclothes officers, to dismiss both the value of his life and the cries of the protesters.  But the community deserves answers that it's not getting about what really happened 10 nights ago, as well as the dubious track record of the officers involved.

And New York City officials are doing everyone a huge disservice when they pretend that this is about one kid, and not the daily beatdown of disrespect from programs like stop-and-frisk, which has made it difficult for thousands of young, law-abiding blacks and Latinos to walk down a sidewalk without having to justify their very existence. Today, the courts in the nation's largest city are dealing with a massive class-action lawsuitover the alleged abuses of this policy.

The bottom line is, if it wasn't Kimani Gray, it would have been somebody else.

But no one ever sees it coming. That was the case in Philadelphia, suffering from years of benign and sometimes not-so-benign neglect of public schools and a multi-million-dollar push from the usual suspect of hedge funders, profit-seekers and  to boost charter schools and destroy public education as we know it. The co-conspirators tried (and largely succeeded) to rush through a large-scale scale shutdown of neighborhood schools, but the people formerly known as the unheard did raise of a hell of a ruckus. And they're probably just getting started.

These things don't happen in a vacuum. At the height of the schools crisis, someone emailed me a remarkable document that had been prepared by the Broad Foundation of billionaire Los Angeles "do-gooder" Eli Broad, who wages war on inner-city public education even as his foundation, not so ironically, has trained most of our top urban superintendents.(Now Broad wants to take over the L.A. Times, too -- God help us.) It's an 83-page guide "School Closure Guide" that was published in 2009 to guide presumably Broad-trained superintendents on a step by step method to implement mass closures of public schools in already distressed communities -- exactly what's happening now in Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere.

But Broad's minions must act quickly and smartly...before the voices of the unheard become too loud.

But here's the thing: Unheard voices are like water -- they are going to find the path of least resistance. Unless our leaders finally start listening, a trickle in Brooklyn, a leak in Philly, and suddenly there's a full-blown flood. (If you don't understand the oceanography, ask the folks down in New Orleans, another battered American community.)

When we look back on the long hot summer of 2013, and we will, I pray that we'll think of it as a few balmy days on a beach or in the mountains with family and friends after a season of coming together, of finally tackling our root problems from rising inequality to falling civil liberties.

But I worry terribly that it will be the other kind.

Will Bunch is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and senior political writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He blogs at Attytood.com.

Why are Unionization Rates at Historic Low?

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Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics last week reported on the numbers of workers in unions. Let's just back up a step first. In 1955, 35 percent of workers were in unions. Most of those were private-sector workers. Well, last week's report says that private-sector workers were down as low as 6.6 percent. Thirty-five percent of public-sector workers are unionized, for an overall rate of 11.3. One more time: 1955, overall rate of unionization 35 percent; last week, 11.3 percent.Now, in that same week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average on the stock market broke 14,000 for the first time in five years—the market's at a historic high.Now joining us to talk about all of this is Stephanie Luce. She's an associate professor of labor studies at the Murphy Institute School for Professional Studies at the City University of New York. She's the author of Fighting for a Living Wage and coauthor, The Living Wage: Building a Fair Economy and The Measure of Fairness. She joins us from New York. In fact, she's in Brooklyn. Thanks for joining us, Stephanie.PROF. STEPHANIE LUCE, LABOR STUDIES, THE MURPHY INSTITUTE, CUNY: Thanks for having me.JAY: So let's focus on the main number here, which is from 35 percent in '55 down to 11 and change now. That's a rather drastic decrease. Why do you think this is happening?LUCE: Well, I think, you know, this steady decrease has been going on for several decades. And for a while, the number of workers in unions was going up as an absolute number, but the density was falling. And now density is falling as well. And I think really you can kind of divide this into different categories of explanations. One of the explanations is that unions themselves are to blame. They were slow to recognize a changing global economy. They were resistant to immigrant workers belonging to unions. They were not innovative in their organizing strategies and not aggressive about corporate globalization. But on the other hand, there's a lot of external forces, too, which is that employers have really been on the offensive against unions in the last 30 years and have in fact changed laws, changed regulations, and even broke—you know, they've—breaking laws as a way to fight unions and keep unions out of the workplace. So we see weak labor law, weakly enforced labor law, but also changing global rules and regulations around workers' rights.JAY: Well, let's start with some of the internal factors first, and then we'll go to external. I mean, it seems to me one of the internal factors is that the leaders of many of the major unions get paid very, very well. I mean, some of them are in the $200,000, $300,000 mark, plus they get all this expense accounts. You can often run into, you know, leaders of major unions eating steaks, you know, $40, $50 steaks and such for lunch. And I've seen it. This isn't just some stereotype. And, frankly, it's, you know, their argument as well: people that run businesses, you know, live this way; why shouldn't the leaders of workers live like this? But that's exactly the point is they started living and thinking like people that run businesses.LUCE: Right. Yeah. There's no doubt that we've had bureaucratization and some corruption and a greater hierarchy within the labor movement. That certainly is a problem. There are a lot of unions that are not really democratically run. They don't really involve their members. You know. And I think that for some people to say, well, that should suggest that we don't need unions or unions are outdated, I often say, well, that's also true in Congress. We see a lot of members of Congress, you know, engaging in corruption and not so democratic. But we're not necessarily calling to abolish Congress, right? We're calling for reform and revitalizing to make it more democratic and more engaging. And I think the same is true of unions, which is that, you know, unions' leaders have had faults, but I'm not ready to give up on them as institutions. I think they still represent one of the only chances that workers have for a democratic voice in the workplace.JAY: Well, one of the numbers in a recent blog you wrote I think is important, which is, the average union member earns 27 percent more than the average nonunion member. So, I mean, I think that shows that, you know, whatever the weaknesses of our unions are, they're still rather—it's a hell of a lot better being in one than not being in one. But in some ways has that not also been part of the problem, which is, for, you know, post World War II there was a kind of a gravy train, especially for the upper tier of workers, like autoworkers and workers in transportation and critical sectors of the economy, where they got very significant wage gains—it wasn't just the union leaders; many of the workers were doing very well. It wasn't unusual to, you know, have a couple of cars and know you could afford university and all the rest. But they didn't give a damn about all the unorganized workers and some of the other sectors of the economy. They kind of were just looking after their own people. And then one day they look around and they find out, oh-oh, we're next.LUCE: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think on the first part is that, yes, unions led to, you know, workers getting a decent income and having some stability, maybe buy a home and send their kids to college. I don't know that we want to—I don't know that I would critique that as too high, because I think workers were getting a share of what they were producing.But on the second point, you're right: they should have been aggressively trying to organize more workers, getting nonunion workers into unions, keeping ahead of what's going on in the economy in terms of changing industries and sectors. And I think not enough of them did that. I wouldn't say no one was doing that, but certainly not enough. And they for the most part, you know, got lazy and behind the trend and didn't keep up with where the economy was going.JAY: Yeah. I mean, I think it's important. There are some unions that are actively organizing and a few unions that are quite militant about their own members and reaching out to others. But I would say the majority have not been—although now that they're being targeted, I mean, maybe you could see a kind of turning point with Reagan and the air traffic controllers. Since that point, sort of the guns have been pointed at some of these stronger American unions. Again, before we get to external factors, let's talk a little bit about the politics of this. I mean, part of the issue is, when there's been Democratic Party governments, either at state levels and nationally, the unions don't seem to have used the clout they used to have to get legislation that might have made it easier to organize unions. And now that they're so weak, they don't have much clout.LUCE: Yeah. And, in fact, even going back to when they were stronger, in the 1970s, we had, you know, Jimmy Carter in office, and we—the Democrats controlled everything, and yet unions were not able to win major labor law reform. So I think that the Democrats have really not been the friend of labor that unions might think that they are. It's not that union leaders are all stupid, but they also realize that they don't have a real exit strategy in this political system, so they've aligned themselves with the Democrats, and for the most part that's been a losing strategy.I think that it didn't work so well even in the '70s when they were strong, and today, as you just said, it certainly is not a way to win any major reform. I think that unions have to seriously rethink their allegiance to the Democratic Party. If it's not realistic to start their own party, they could at least think about withholding their contributions in terms of money and time that they give to electing Democrats over and over again who turn around and sometimes stab them in the back.JAY: This number stands out for me, that unionized workers make 27 percent more than nonunionized workers. Why isn't that fact better known? Like, instead of spending all these millions of dollars of union money promoting the Democratic Party, why don't they spend millions of dollars promoting the fact that unionized workers make more than nonunionized workers? 'Cause I don't think most nonunionized workers know that.LUCE: Well, I think, you know, it's not just wages. They're actually much more likely than nonunion workers to receive health insurance, pension, paid days off, and job security. And a union contract is one of the only ways that workers have to gain any kind of job security in our employment-at-will system. I think there's a little bit of a double-edged sword there, which is, sometimes by promoting that union workers do better, they're afraid that they make themselves more of a target from employers. Like, if they highlight how much, you know, they provide to workers, then does that in fact make unions a greater target? I think that's a mistake, because they already are a target. Employers certainly know this themselves. You know. And another interesting point, though, that I want to highlight is it's not just that—union members make more money than nonunion members, but a lot of research suggests that by having greater union density actually brings up the economy as a whole. So it's good for even nonunion workers when there's greater union density. Some research by Bruce Western at Princeton, he estimates that about 20 to 33 percent of the growth in inequality in this country is because of the falling union density, and he says that what unions did is create a general sense, a norm of equity, a general sense of wage fairness. And what unions do is also reduced inequality between workers. They actually reduced discrimination, for example, between male and female workers or between white and black workers. So there are lots of positive benefits of unions that help not just workers but the economy as a whole.JAY: There's quite a deep-seated feeling, though, amongst unorganized workers that organized, unionized workers, higher-paid unionized workers, is pushing work outside the country, and they blame the unionized workers.It's interesting. We covered a strike in Sudbury, Canada, which—the dynamic here is similar, although unionization rates in Canada are still somewhat higher than in the United States. But this is essentially a one-industry town, a nickel mining town. The nickel miners spend all their money in the town. It's because they've been highly paid that the town does relatively well. They go on strike. And I think—you know, I can't give a scientific take on this, but a majority of ordinary people in the town we talked to were actually blaming the workers for wanting to be highly paid even though they're the spending money in the town, because the company's threatening to go get the nickel somewhere else in the world—which is kind of funny, 'cause obviously, you know, they wanted that nickel. But this division between organized and unorganized workers, I don't see the unions actively fighting it, 'cause even in Sudbury the union wasn't doing that much public relations work to make people understand why that's good for the town.LUCE: Well, I do think some unions are trying. Some unions are active in things like living-wage campaigns and labor-community coalitions to help, you know, low-end workers. But I think, you know, you're right that they need to do a better job of explaining what's going on. I mean, what's interesting is a lot of the drop in unionization in the last year was not because—you know, some of it's jobs moving overseas, but a lot of it is in the public sector. These are not jobs that are moving overseas. This is just, you know, governors attacking workers' rights to form unions. Another huge drop in unionization over the last several decades was in construction. Again, these are not because the employer's moving those jobs to China. These are the same jobs, they're staying here in the United States, but they're being converted to nonunion jobs. So I think you're right. We need a better story and understanding of what's going on in the economy, and that it's not just an inevitable result of globalization that, you know, unions are going to die off.JAY: Yeah. The one words or letters that we have not heard from President Obama during the last presidential election—we haven't heard anything now that he's been inaugurated—was EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act. This was supposed to be the grand bargain, if you want, with the unions, that President Obama's going to reform labor legislation. And not a whisper of it now.LUCE: Right. Right. And I'm not surprised, because I didn't ever believe that Obama was just going to come in and sign this sweeping labor law reform that, as I said, Jimmy Carter and the Democrats didn't do in the 1970s. I don't think we're going to see any kind of widescale reform like that without massive social protest. I think the unions were grossly mistaken to think they were going to get something in through backdoor channeling, lobbying, or whatever it might be instead of having, you know, massive sit-downs or, you know, people marching in the streets or other forms of social protest. And I feel Obama himself even kind of made that comment when he was first elected. But the unions really didn't pursue that avenue.JAY: Right. Well, thanks for joining us, Stephanie.LUCE: Thank you so much.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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Market Buzz: Numbers game

RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok

RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok

Thursday trading is expected to be intense: Russian stocks likely to grow amid positive signs from Asia and the rising price of crude, while later in the day statistics will run the show.

­On Wednesday, Russian indices were in a bullish mood amid a positive economic background and growing oil prices. Europe’s January manufacturing statistics were published during the day, reporting an increase of 0.7%, significantly higher than market players had expected. As a result, Russian indices ended the day in positive territory, with the MICEX adding 1.7% up to 1,537.90 and the RTS growing 1.9% to 1,612.70.

Thursday will also see the release of some important news: The eurozone’s GDP for Q4 2012 and the entire last year are going to be published, as well as the GDPs of most individual eurozone countries. It is expected that in October through December of 2012, the economies of eurozone countries shrank 0.4% – up from a 0.1% contraction in the previous quarter – losing 0.7% over the year. Greek unemployment data for November is also expected, though it likely won’t bring any good news.

US stocks finished an uninspired day of trading Wednesday amid slowing retail sales and slightly upbeat earnings reports, resulting in the Dow Jones declining 0.3%, the S&P 500 rising 0.1% and the Nasdaq growing 0.3%. On Thursday, US stocks will react sharply to the forthcoming employment data. Initial unemployment claims are likely to continue their downward trend and decline 6,000 to 360,000, with official statistics to be published later in the day. Fresh data on natural gas reserves is also expected on Thursday.

Asian stocks traded in the black amid new Japanese GDP data, which decreased 0.4% in Q4 2012 compared to 3.8% in Q3. Despite expectations that the GDP figures would improve, the reaction was generally positive, and growth was also given a potential boost by decisions by the Bank of Japan on key interest rates. 

Oil prices continued to climb upwards after Wednesday’s data on US oil reserves, which saw significantly lower than expected growth. Brent closed at $118, and will likely grow on Thursday, supporting Russian stocks.

Thoughts on the Great Rotation

Reports indicating that Americans have invested more in equity funds here in 2013 than they did all last year have given rise to talk of the "Great Rotation".  The idea is that Americans are selling fixed income investments bought during the financial crisis and now buying shares. 

We are less sanguine.  There is a third asset class that needs to be integrated into the analysis:  cash.  After surveying the data and various reports, it looks to us that the flows into equities is not coming out of fixed income but rather money market funds and deposits. 

At the end of last year, perhaps spooked by the pending fiscal cliff and policy paralysis, many investors boosted cash (money market and deposits) holdings.  One estimate had cash holdings rising by about $350 bln in the Nov-Dec period and about $165 bln has flowed since the start of the year. 

Through last week, equity funds (counting ETFs) saw an inflow of around $70 bln (compared with $23 bln in all of 2012).  The $30 bln inflows being reported by bond funds is a major argument against the "Great Rotation", though this is a bit off the pace seen last year ($40 bln inflows during the same period). 

Drilling down a bit deeper may offer greater insight into what investor are doing.  Of the $70 bln that went into equity funds (and ETFs), about 40% went international/global funds, which is more than half they took in all last year.  Among bonds, about 40% also went to emerging markets, which is roughly tracking last year's record pace.

Lipper reported that in the week ending Feb 6, equity funds (mutual funds and ETFs) saw $6.1 bln in new inflows.  It was the seventh consecutive week of inflows.  Of this sum, $2 bln as in ETFs.  However, Lipper notes that the SPDR S&P 500 ETF fell from top position the previous week to last on the back of $3 bln of redemptions.  The iShares Russell 2000 index was on top with $700 mln inflow, followed by ishares Dow Jones Real Estate ETF, which took in $600 mln. 

Traditional open-ended equity mutual funds saw inflows of $4.1 bln.  According to Lipper data, the 5-week inflow of almost $25 bln is the largest inflow for such a period since the beginning of Q2 2000.  Domestic funds, led by large cap, drew $1.1 bln.  Global and international funds reported inflows of $3.1 bln.  Emerging market funds saw $1.8 bln inflows.  Lipper notes this was the fifth consecutive week that emerging market funds drew more than $1 bln.

Many Asian bourses have reported strong inflows (greater than last year) thus far this year.  In terms of the biggest gain from the year ago period, investors have bought almost $1.1 bln of Indonesian shares, which represents.  In terms of dollar amount, Japan of course is the largest bourse and in play, given the yen's weakness.  Foreigners have bought about $14.1 bln of Japanese shares this year, which is 135% above the year ago pace.  India is also a large beneficiary of foreign purchases.  The $7.6 bln that has flows in represents a 725 increase from a year ago. 

On the other side, South Korea is a significant exception.  Foreign investors have sold about $1.5 bln of Korean equities.  The appreciation of the won against the yen appears to have contributed to the profit-taking.  Taiwan and Thailand have seen inflows ($1.6 bln and $22 mln respectively), but are well off last year's pace.

That said, we note that the Korea's Kospi appears to have bottomed at the second half of last week.  The 2.5% bounce has brought it to a trend line drawn off the Jan 3 and Jan 23 highs.    The next target is near 1985 (closed near 1976 today). Longer-term, a recovery could see 2040-2050.   The technical condition looks favorable as the RSI has turned higher and the MACDs are crossing.

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Market Buzz: Looking for positive stats from Europe and the US

AFP Photo / Daniel Roland

AFP Photo / Daniel Roland

Investors in Russia are expected to remain positive on Wednesday, with analysts expecting solid manufacturing data from Europe and retail figures from the US.

“… One should expect a minor growth of Russian shares at the start of trading, as well as significant dynamics after important macro statistics from Europe and the USA comes,” Investcafe analyst Grigoriy Birg wrote in an e-mail.

On Tuesday, Russia's key indices finished in the black: The RTS rose 0.03% to 1,582.35 and the MICEX went up 0.23% to 1,515.49.

Among important data set to be released on Wednesday are the figures for December industrial production in the eurozone, with month-to-month dynamics largely expected to show a 0.2% growth. “However, after a November 0.3% contraction this should support the markets,” Birg explained.

The US is also scheduled to produce its January retail sales figures, not including car sales. “Any information, proving growth of consumer demand in the US will cause positive investor reaction,” Birg said.

US stocks finished trading mixed on Tuesday. The Dow edged closer to a record high, underpinned by strong earnings from beauty products direct seller Avon, and luxury clothing and accessories seller Michael Kors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 47.46 points to 14,018.70. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up 2.42 points to 1,519.43. The tech-laden Nasdaq composite index fell 5.51 points to 3,186.49.

The Obama Administration made it clear that the Democrats were ready to produce a game plan to escape the 'fiscal cliff,' including a combination of higher taxes and lower government spending.

“Overall, a systematic approach to resolving the problem of an excessive budget deficit and state debt is better than the alternative of an automatic $1.2trln spending cuts in the US, which could lead to catastrophic economic aftermath not just in the US but in the world,” Birg said.

European markets finished higher on Tuesday, with shares in France leading the region. The CAC 40 was up 0.99%, while London's FTSE 100 gained 0.98% and Germany's DAX added 0.35%.

Japanese shares are lower today as the Nikkei 225 fell 1.10%. Stock markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai are closed at this time.

Market Buzz: Looking for reference points

Russian traders are likely to be indecisive on Tuesday, as no significant news is expected that could change current economic trends.

­“Taking into account Monday’s decline, today we can expect that Russian stocks will show slight growth in the beginning, but later they can return to negative figures,” Yulia Voitovich from Investcafe said.

With no significant developments on Monday, the main indices in Moscow flipped between positive and negative territory, finishing in the red by the end of the day. The MICEX lost 0.26% and the RTS was down 0.51%. Severstal and Gazprom were among the companies that took the biggest losses.

The Russian Central Bank is holding a meeting on key interest rates on Tuesday, but no changes are expected to be made. Despite calls from both politicians and businesses, interest rates in Russia will remain high as the Central Bank fights inflation.

Deputy CEO of the Central Bank of Russia Aleksey Ulyukaev said in Davos in January that there was no point using monetary stimulation to boost the economy, as the current level of growth more or less matched the economy's potential – cutting rates would therefore produce few economic benefits.

The rates will stay unchanged, and the government statements are just a message to manufacturers and companies to support their optimism,” Natalia Orlova, chief economist at Alfa-Bank, told Finmarket earlier.

The main US stock indices ended the Monday session slightly in the red. The Dow Jones declined 0.16%, while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ fell just 0.06%.

In Europe,  the UK's FTSE100 went up 0.21%, the German DAX slid 0.24% and the CAC40 rose 0.56%.

The UK and Switzerland's Consumer Price Index (CPI) for January are set to be released on Tuesday, with a slight decline expected from last month figures, at 0.3% and 0.5% respectively. The UK will also release its Producer Price Index (PPI) for January, which is likely to rise 0.9%.

At Monday’s euro group meeting it was decided that conducting a speedy, independent audit of how banks in Cyprus were implementing anti-money-laundering laws might be on the table before a decision is made on providing an aid package.

Asia's main stocks are trading in black, with the Hang Seng growing 0.16%, the Nikkei adding 2.39% and the Shanghai Composite going up 0.57%.

Mariano Rajoy’s Mindblowing Defense: “It Is All Untrue, Except For Some Things”

In case there was any doubt that the European circus could get any more ridiculous, here comes Spain's uber-unpopular Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, already embroiled in a massive kickback political scandal, with a quote that just blows everyone away: "I repeat what I said Saturday: everything that has been said about me and my colleagues in the party is untrue, except for some things that have been published by some media outlets." And scene as your frontal lobe explodes.

From El Pais:

Answering reporters’ questions for the first time since details emerged late last week about an alleged slush fund his Popular Party (PP) controlled, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Monday in Berlin that all the information that has been published by the media “is untrue — except for some things.”

The somewhat confusing statement came during a question-and-answer session Rajoy held alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel following their meeting to discuss Spain’s economy and the reforms being carried out by his government.

“I repeat what I said Saturday: everything that has been said about me and my colleagues in the party is untrue, except for some things that have been published by some media outlets,” the 57-year-old prime minister said.

The conservative leader did not clarify what things he believes are false, nor did he answer a Spanish reporter’s question as to who he or his party plan on suing for alleging that many officials, including himself, were given bonuses from a secret fund on top of their regular salaries.

...

On Saturday, Rajoy appeared before the cameras to refute the allegations, but reporters were kept in a separate room and not allowed to ask the prime minister any questions.

A visibly upset Merkel had to respond on two occasions to questions about the ongoing corruption cases in Spain, including an uncomfortable mention about illegal financing in her conservative Christian Democratic Union in 1999, when Helmut Kohl was leader. At one point she tried to avoid answering a reporter’s question on whether she was concerned about Spanish corruption.

“What is important is the relationship between the two governments,” she said.

Meanwhile, more PP officials have come forward to acknowledge the information contained in Bárcenas’ bookkeeping. Santiago Abascal, a former PP member of the provincial parliament in Álava, whose name appears as receiving two million pesetas [about 12,000 euros] in 1999, said he asked the party for the money after his business was attacked by terrorists. “I told the party that I couldn’t make ends meet and they gave me two million pesetas,” he said.

Luckily, while it is governed by pathological liars, Spain would never lie about its Services PMI number, the key reason for the overnight 100 pips and Dow Jones futures move higher.

The best news: Europe is truly "fixed", if only in the football game context.

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It’s Deja Vu, All Over Again: This Time Is… Completely The Same

It was the deep of winter... CNBC was talking about "animal spirits", had just touted "the best January in 14 years", was quoting Raymond James' Jeff Saut as saying that "The market "is amazingly resilient, and is no longer overbought" and desperately doing everything it could to get retail back into stocks, and was succeeding: retail inflows into stocks were surging and seemed unstoppable... The Chicago PMI had just printed at its highest level in decades... the VIX was dropping fast... Stocks were soaring... Bonds were sliding... NYSE margin debt had just risen to the highest level since 2008... A few brief months earlier the Fed had unleased a new, massive round of unsterilized bond buying...  Bank of America was blaring about the "great rotation" for stocks, and yes - just shortly prior "global currency warfare" had broken out. Name the year?

If you said 2013, you would be right. And wrong.

Because the right answer is... 2011.

That's right: with institutional and trader memories so short, everyone has (again) forgotten that it truly is deja vu, all over again.

To wit:

Stock performance in the winter of 2011 and the winter of 2013:

Bond performance in the winter of 2011 and the winter of 2013:

NYSE margin debt - euphoria and leverage upon leverage was contagious... in January 2011 and January 2013:

Fund Flows into equities were unstoppable. Yes - that was 7 consecutive weeks of major equity inflows into stocks... back in January 2011.

CNBC: Monday 31, 2011:

Stocks End Up; Dow's Best January in 14 Years

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 68.23 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at about 11891.93, after falling 1.4 percent on Friday. For the month, the Dow gained 314.42 points or 2.72 percent, its best January performance since 1997 and its first January gain in four years.

The market "is amazingly resilient," Jeffrey Saut, chief market strategist at Raymond James, told CNBC.com. "After what happened on Friday you would have expected a second shoe to fall."

But, Saut said, the markets had been due for a correction for sometime, and had been indicating one was on the way. After the sell-off, however, the market is no longer "overbought," he said.

Saut remains bullish and one of his favored sectors are banks, which he had not bought for 10 years until last November. Since then, banks, as measured by the Financial Select SPDR Fund , have risen more than the S&P 500 on a relative basis.

"I think that is extraordinarily positive for the equity markets and the economy," he said.

The great rotation was rotating... and rotating... and rotating:

Currency war had just broken out... in late 2010

"An “international currency war” has broken out, according to Guido Mantega, Brazil’s finance minister, as governments around the globe compete to lower their exchange rates to boost competitiveness." Welcome to the new frontline. It is being played out at every 500x levered FX trade station. No prisoners are taken as those wounded are immediately shot. And the incursions have now entered stocks and bonds. Trading any assets is now retaliation against a central bank somewhere (most typically at Liberty 33 or at the Marriner Eccles building) which is engaged in open warfare against the world's middle class. And yes, the Brazil Central Bank earlier announced that it was heading unto the breach, buying yet more dollars for 1.7094 reais at auction, and has bought as much as $1 billion USD each day for the past two weeks, putting the Japanese intervention from two weeks ago to shame.

The economy was "recovering" and yet the Fed just announced it would inject $75 billion into the market each month:

To promote a stronger pace of economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate, the Committee decided today to expand its holdings of securities. The Committee will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings. In addition, the Committee intends to purchase a further $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities by the end of the second quarter of 2011, a pace of about $75 billion per month. The Committee will regularly review the pace of its securities purchases and the overall size of the asset-purchase program in light of incoming information and will adjust the program as needed to best foster maximum employment and price stability.

So why is 2013 nothing but a verbatim, carbon copy of 2011?

Simple: between the Fed, the propaganda of "great rotations" and "massive" inflows into stocks, despite the endless decoupling of fundamentals with the market, all that the status quo was desperate to accomplish was to push the responsibility of keeping the market afloat away from the Fed and on the shoulders of retail investors.

What the Fed did not realize then, and does not realize now, is that the US consumer no longer has the disposable cash to push stocks any higher because while to some 1% of the economy the wealth is indeed tied to stocks, for the balance unless the economy, the jobs, the wages and all those other conventional things that determine inbound cash pick up as well, which they did not in 2011 and they certainly have not in 2013, the US consumer simply will not be able to pick up where the Fed leave off.

Which is why the Fed failed in 2011. It will fail again this time. But yes, the market is higher now than it was in 2011, why? Here's why.

Finally, how did the market close in 2011? Flat.

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Case-Shiller Home Price Index Posts Second Consecutive Monthly Decline, Average Home Prices Back To...

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index is unique among other economic data indicators for recommending that analysts focus solely on its Non-seasonal adjusted data series, as this is what the report uses in its own headline figures. It adds that "for analytical purposes, S&P Dow Jones Indices publishes a seasonally adjusted data set covered in the headline indices" - a far cry from the BLS, whose Arima X 12 models are the basis of the data "moves" on a monthly basis: moves which are based not so much in the underlying data but on the seasonal adjustment and fudging the government employees apply to it. And it is the unadjusted Case Shiller data that showed that in November, the 20 City Composite index posted its second consecutive monthly price decline in a row. Yes: on a year over year basis home prices did rise some 5.5%, but on the other hand, "average home prices across the United States are back to their autumn 2003 levels for both the 10-City and 20-City Composites." And while the price decline into the year end is somewhat seasonal, it certainly does not fit with all the other economic data released by the government showing a housing picture so bright not even the tiniest drops in prices were allowed.

And in what is the biggest paradox for homebuyers in New York, Case Shiller reported that of the 20 cities tracked, home prices rose everywhere... except New York, yet oddly enough it is in NY that the uber-wealthy from China and Russia come to park their money and buy any $50 million + available duplex, triplex and quadruplex regardless of price, and where the bubble at the ultra expensive end of the market is raging like never before (not to mention the record December Hamptons real estate prices).

Perhaps just as importantly, the bubble is back in the west:

In the 12 months ended in November, prices rose in 19 of the 20 cities and fell in New York. In 19 cities prices rose faster in the 12 months to November than in the 12 months to October; Cleveland prices rose at the same pace in both time periods. Phoenix led with the fastest price rise – up 22.8% in 12 months as it posted its seventh consecutive month of double-digit annual returns.

Keeping it real, Vegas - the biggest housing bubble pop in history, saw home prices rise 10% Y/Y, while Detroit was up 11.9%. One word (Un)sustainable.

But maybe this time it is different.

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Market Buzz: Waiting with bated breath ahead of jobs reports

RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok

RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok

Global investors are currently holding off on making any drastic moves as they await a series of labor reports later this week.

"People are reluctant to pull the trigger one way or the other until we get more clarity," J.J. Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade, told CNN Money.

A Federal Reserve meeting scheduled for this week may also serve as another motivating factor for investors, Liliya Brueva of Investcafe added.

On Monday, Russian stocks closed on a positive note: The RTS rose 1.03% to 1,635.50 and the MICEX moved up 1.22%to finish at 1,562.93.

“Our [Russian] trading received a growth impulse from the positive news from China, where industrial companies have registered increased income for the fourth consecutive month,” Brueva explained.

Industrial earnings in China surged 20.4% in Q4 after negative growth over the first three quarters, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.

Trading on Wall Street was mixed on Monday: The Dow Jones declined 0.1% and the S&P 500 lost 0.2%, while the Nasdaq added 0.1%.

Earlier gains on US floors, which hit new five-year highs on the back of strong corporate earnings, were hampered by “some conflicting economic data showing worse than expected pending home sales data, which came after some strong durable goods data that had initially given markets a bit of a boost,” explained Angus Campbell, head of market analysis for Capital Spreads.

The Census Bureau reported that orders for durable goods rose 4.6% in December, an increase over the 1.6% growth forecast by economists. The index of pending home sales also fell 4.3% during the same period; the index is based on the number of hosing contracts signed in a month, but does not measure actual closings.

European stocks closed mixed on Monday: The FTSE 100 gained 0.16%, the CAC 40 rose 0.07% and the DAX lost 0.32%.

Asian markets also finished mixed: The Shanghai Composite added more than 2%, closing at its highest level since June, while the Nikkei lost about 1%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong also traded slightly higher.

Market Buzz: US ‘stats of the nation’ drive bourses

Russian investors are expected to be looking overseas, where the US stats are set to be a major newsmaker during the entire week. On Monday the world’s biggest economy will release its December durables figures.

“During the day Russian floors will be mostly focusing on an overall news environment and the way foreign investors behave,” according to Yulia Voitovich, an analyst at Investcafe.

As for the US durable report, analysts expect a 1.8% month-to-month increase of the December figure. “Excess of the actual reading above the expected could support the world stock indicators,” she added.

And given positive closure of Friday trading in the US and mostly in Asia, Russian stocks may also open higher on Monday, Voitovich said.

Domestic markets were positive on Friday. The RTS added 0.01% to 1, 618.84 and the MICEX was up 0.88% to 1,618.84.

Asian stocks are mostly up in early Monday trading, with Shanghai Composite going up 1.5%, Hang Seng rising 0.51% and just Nikkei going down 0.08%.

In Wall Street news, the most anticipated block of unemployment data is set to be released on Friday. The Labor Department releases its first monthly employment report for 2013.

Overall, unemployment is now one of the key economic issues the US authorities target. So far the unemployment rate has remained above and beyond a desirable figure. Last year it held steady at about 7.8%, while 6.5% serves is the target.

Stocks in the US ended last week on a positive note, with the Dow Jones adding 1.8%, the S&P rising 1.1% and Nasdaq going up 0.5%.

European markets finished broadly higher on Friday, where Germany leads the region. The DAX was up 1.42% while France's CAC 40 added 0.69% and London's FTSE 100 rose 0.31%.

Market Buzz: No stimulus for growth

John Moore / Getty Images / AFP

John Moore / Getty Images / AFP

Russian markets are expected to open in the red following a rather controversial trading day on Thursday. Both key Russian indices dropped, with the RTS lowering by 0.04% and the MICEX sliding by 0.24%.

Friday’s trading will greatly depend on external moving factors as no major corporate news is expected in Russia. It’s most likely the market will show slight correction due to lack of significant reasons for the growth, which, however, may appear at the beginning of next week.

European markets finished mostly higher on Thursday. The FTSE 100 was up 1.09%, while France's CAC 40 is up 0.70% and Germany's DAX was up 0.53%.

North American markets finished mixed to lower. The Dow Jones rose by 0.33%, while the S&P 500 closed unchanged.

The US market will also depend on the statistics coming throughout the day. Real estate market data is expected to arrive with predicted increase in new homes sales to grow from 377,000 in November to 388,000 in December. However, investor sentiment will largely depend on the issuing of annual corporate reports. Consumer companies are expected to share their data, including a much-anticipated report from P&G.

Asian markets are mixed. The Nikkei 225 is trading 2.28% higher, while the Hang Seng is leading the Shanghai Composite lower. They are down 0.32% and 0.22% respectively.

Market Buzz: Russia looks outwards

Reuters/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Reuters/Jose Manuel Ribeiro

Russian indices are expected to grow further on Thursday following a successful trading day earlier. The RTS grew by 1.3% and the MICEX gained 0.8%.

­The majority of Russian blue chips were also on the rise with Norilsk Nickel in the lead with +1%, Sberbank, Gazprom and Lukoil stocks rose 0.95%, 0.55% and 0.09% respectively.

No major corporate events are expected today in Russia and stocks will primarily focus on foreign colleagues when determining the motion vector for the day.

European stock exchanges closed in the mix on Wednesday. The FTSE 100 gained 0.30% and the DAX rose 0.15%, the CAC 40 lost 0.40%.

Markets in Asia are also in mixed territory. The Nikkei 225 is higher by 0.81%, while the Shanghai Composite is leading the Hang Seng lower. They are down 0.17% and 0.16% respectively.

North American stocks showed positive trading with the Dow Jones gaining 0.49%, the S&P rising by 0.15% and the NASDAQ climbing up by 0.33%. American indices gained support from the ongoing season of annual corporate reports. Data posted by Google, IBM and McDonalds came in higher than expected, which stimulated the trading of some indices. Miscrosoft, Starbucks and Xerox are expected to deliver their reports later today. Also the US is to publish unemployment index and oil reserve data on Thursday.

“Return = Cash + Beta + Alpha”: An Inside Look At The World’s Biggest...

Some time ago when we looked at the the performance of the world's largest and best returning hedge fund, Ray Dalio's Bridgewater (split roughly evenly between his Pure Alpha and All Weather strategies), it had some $138 billion in assets. This number subsequently rose by $4 billion to $142 billion a week ago, however one thing remained the same: on a dollar for dollar basis, it is still the best performing and largest hedge fund of the past 20 years (assuming of course, JPM's $350 billion AUM Whale office has finally been "beached" and its positions unwound), and one which also has a remarkably low standard deviation of returns to boast. This is known to most people.

What is less known, however, is that the two funds that comprise the entity known as "Bridgewater" serve two distinct purposes: while the Pure Alpha fund is, as its name implies, a chaser of alpha, or the 'tactical', active return component of an investment, the All Weather fund has a simple "beta isolate and capture" premise, and seeks to generate a modestly better return than the market using a mixture of equity and bonds investments and leverage.

Ironically, as we foretold back in 2009, in the age of ZIRP, virtually every "actively managed" hedge fund would soon become not more than a massively levered beta chaser however charging an "alpha" fund's 2 and 20 fee structure. At least Ray Dalio is honest about where the return comes from without hiding behind meaningless concepts and lugubrious econospeak drollery. Courtesy of "The All Weather Story: How Bridgewater created the All Weather investment strategy, the foundation of the "risk parity" movement" everyone else can learn that answer too.

And while we absolutely agree with Dalio that "there is a way of looking at things that overly complicates things in a desire to be overly precise and easily lose sight of the important basic ingredients that are making those things up" (they need those Econ PhDs for something), we certainly don't agree with Bob Prince's assessment that the entire world is merely a "machine" which can be understood, in terms of its cause-effect linkages.

While this may be true in simple two actor environments, and in theoretical, textbook markets, it is certainly not the case in a enviornment filled with irrational actors, who respond in times of crises - so vritually all market inflection points - with their feelings, instincts, phobias and gut reactions, than with anything resembling logic and reason. And especially not in times of "New Normal" central planning.

Then again, it is Prince and Dalio who are multi-billionaires and run a $125 billion hedge fund, so perhaps they are on to something...

The annotated presentation of how one half of Bridgewater's bread and butter operates:

And the unabridged:

The All Weather Story

How Bridgewater associates created the all weather investment strategy, the foundation of the ‘risk parity’ movement

President Richard Nixon sat in the Oval Office staring into a television camera and addressed the nation: “I directed Secretary Connelly to suspend temporarily the convertibility of the dollar into gold.” After 27 years of relative monetary stability, the United States was breaking from the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates that had tied the dollar’s value to gold.

Ray Dalio, fresh out of college, was then a clerk on the New York Stock Exchange. Watching Nixon’s speech in his apartment, he tried to fathom the implications. Paper money derived its value from being a claim on gold. Now those claims wouldn't be honored. The next morning he walked on to the chaotic floor of the NYSE expecting stocks to plummet. Instead the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose almost 4% and gold shot higher in what was later dubbed the “Nixon rally.” Ray had heard Nixon’s announcement but misunderstood its implications.

This event transformed Ray’s thinking about markets. Nothing like it had ever happened to him before, so it came as a shock. He quickly realized he couldn’t trust his own experience: anyone’s lifetime is too narrow a perspective. So he began to study the cause-effect linkages at work in the dollar devaluation and subsequent market pop. He discovered the Bretton Woods breakup was one of many seemingly unique occurrences that, in truth, are more infrequent than unprecedented. A broader perspective revealed that currency devaluations had occurred many times throughout history and across countries, and were the result of the same essential dynamics playing out under different circumstances. Ray dedicated himself to understanding what he would in time call the ‘economic machine’: the timeless and universal relationships that both explain economic outcomes and repeat throughout history.

Ray is now in his 60s. He founded Bridgewater Associates four years after the Nixon speech. Reflecting back on that incident, Ray said, “that was a lesson for me. I developed a modus operandi to expect surprises. I learned not to let my experiences dominate my thinking; I could go beyond my experiences to see how the machine works."

Ray realized he could understand the economic machine by breaking down economies and markets into their component pieces, and studying the relationships of these pieces through time. This type of thinking is central to All Weather. For instance, any market move can be broken down into a few key components. Markets move based on shifts in conditions relative to the conditions that are priced in. This is the definition of a surprise. The greater the discrepancy, the larger the surprise. That explained the Nixon rally. When countries have too much debt and their lenders won’t lend them more, they are squeezed. They, in this case the US, invariably print money to relieve the squeeze. The unexpected wave of new money cheapens its value and alleviates the pressure from tight monetary conditions sending stocks and gold higher. What Ray observed was 'another one of those' - a shift in conditions relative to what people had expected.

The principles behind All Weather relate to answering a deceptively straight-forward question explored by Ray with co-Chief Investment Officer Bob Prince and other early colleagues at Bridgewater - what kind of investment portfolio would you hold that would perform well across all environments, be it a devaluation or something completely different?

After decades of study Ray, Bob, Greg Jensen, Dan Bernstein and others at Bridgewater created an investment strategy structured to be indifferent to shifts in discounted economic conditions. Launched in 1996, All Weather was originally created for Ray’s trust assets. It is predicated on the notion that asset classes react in understandable ways based on the relationship of their cash flows to the economic environment. By balancing assets based on these structural characteristics the impact of economic surprises can be minimized. Market participants might be surprised by inflation shifts or a growth bust and All Weather would chug along, providing attractive, relatively stable returns. The strategy was and is passive; in other words, this was the best portfolio Ray and his close associates could build without any requirement to predict future conditions. Today the All Weather strategy and the concepts behind it are fundamentally changing how the biggest capital pools in the world manage money. What began as a series of questions has blossomed into a movement. This article tells the story of how All Weather came into being. It recounts how a series of conversations hardened into principles that are the foundation of a coherent and practical investment philosophy.

A Discovery Process

Ray founded Bridgewater in 1975 in his New York City brownstone apartment. At the time, he actively traded commodities, currencies and credit markets. His initial business was providing risk consulting to corporate clients as well as offering a daily written market commentary titled Bridgewater Daily Observations that is still produced. The competitive edge was creative, quality analysis.

Among his clients were McDonalds and one of the country’s largest chicken producers. McDonalds was about to come out with Chicken McNuggets and was concerned that chicken prices might rise, forcing them to choose between raising their menu prices or having their profit margins squeezed. They wanted to hedge but there was no viable chicken futures market. Chicken producers wouldn’t agree to sell at a fixed price because they were worried that their costs would go up and they would then take a loss on their supply contracts. After some thought, Ray went to the largest producer with an idea. A chicken is nothing more than the price of the chick (which is cheap), corn, and soymeal. The corn and soymeal prices were the volatile costs the chicken producer needed to worry about. Ray suggested combining the two into a synthetic future that would effectively hedge the producer’s exposure to price fluctuations, allowing them to quote a fixed price to McDonalds. The poultry producer closed the deal and McDonald’s introduced the McNugget in 1983.

This early work reflected a truth. Any return stream can be broken down into its component parts and analyzed more accurately by first examining the drivers of those individual parts. The price of poultry depends on the price of corn and soymeal. The price of a nominal bond can be broken down into a real yield and an inflation component. A corporate bond is a nominal bond plus a credit spread. This way of thinking laid the groundwork for constructing All Weather. If assets can be broken down into different component parts and then summed up to a whole, so too could a portfolio.

Portfolio Building Blocks

In time, Ray and Bob set their sights on managing liabilities, not merely advising on what to do with them. For any asset there is a corresponding liability and, relative to asset management, liability management appeared to be an underserved market. There was a long education process to convey the value proposition to a corporate treasurer, however. To do so, Ray, Bob and others would write a “Risk Management Plan.” These were tailored analyses that generally followed three steps; a) identify the risk neutral position for the corporation b) design a hedging program to reach that exposure and c) actively manage around that exposure, hiring Bridgewater and paying them based on performance around this neutral position. Over time this approach had Ray, Bob and others managing $700 million in corporate liabilities.

The evolution to managing assets occurred in 1987. The World Bank pension fund had been following Bridgewater‘s research. On the basis of this research and Bridgewater's track record managing liabilities, they opened a $5 million bond account. Given the decade plus of experience managing liabilities, Bridgewater approached the asset portfolio in the same way. The bond benchmark was the risk neutral position; the active management was the value added, or alpha, gained from deviating from the benchmark. The two are completely separate.

This is an important insight. While there are thousands of investment products, there are only three moving parts in any of them. Consider buying a conventional mutual fund. The investment may be marketed as a ‘large cap growth fund.’ The reality is that the return of that product, or any product, is a function of a) the return on cash b) the excess return of a market (beta) above the cash rate and c) the ‘tilts’ or manager stock selection (alpha). The mutual fund blurs the distinction between the moving parts, which makes it hard to accurately assess the attributes of any one part or the whole. In summary:

return = cash + beta + alpha

Many people, perhaps most, don’t look at investment returns from this perspective and as a result miss a lot. The cash rate is after all controlled by a central bank, not the investor, and can move up or down significantly. In the US after peaking above 15% in the 1980s, cash rates are now zero. Stocks and bonds price relative to and in excess of cash rates. A 10-year bond yield of 2% is low relative to history but high relative to 0% cash rates. What is unusual about the recent environment is the price of cash, not the pricing of assets relative to cash.

The characteristics of betas and alphas are distinct. Betas are few in number and cheap to obtain. Alphas (i.e. a trading strategy) are unlimited and expensive. The most important difference is the expected return. Betas in aggregate and over time outperform cash. There are few ‘sure things’ in investing. That betas rise over time relative to cash is one of them. Once one strips out the return of cash and betas, alpha is a zero sum game. If you buy and I sell, only one of us can be right. The key for most investors is fixing their beta asset allocation, not trading the market well. The trick is to figure out what proportion of stocks, bonds and commodities to hold such that a static portfolio is reliable. That is the question (‘what kind of investment portfolio would you hold that would perform well across all environments”) Ray, Bob, Dan and others were trying to answer. The first step was to separate out the beta from cash and alpha.

Balancing and Risk-adjusting Assets

By this time Bridgewater had decamped from Manhattan to rural Connecticut, eventually ending up in Westport. Now that Bridgewater was managing pension assets, other pension funds began exploring Bridgewater’s capabilities. Among those for whom Bridgewater provided advice was Rusty Olson, the CIO of a large US-based consumer goods manufacturer pension plan. Rusty asked what Bridgewater thought about his plan of using long duration zero coupon bonds in the pension portfolio. Ray gave a quick answer on the spot, suggesting it was a great idea but that they should use futures to implement it so that they could create any duration they desired. Ray said he would get back to Rusty with a more fully fleshed out idea. The brainstorming happened on a Friday. Merely getting asked the question was a coup. Not that long ago Bridgewater had been a niche investment adviser and at the time it had very little money under management. Now an iconic CIO was asking their counsel. Ray, Bob, Dan and a few other Bridgewater employees at the time worked all weekend to get Rusty an answer on how to do this best.

Step one in the pension analysis was breaking down this manufacturer’s pension portfolio into the three key components described above (cash or the risk free position, beta, and alpha). The typical institutional portfolio had (and still has) roughly 60% of its dollars invested in equities and as a result almost all of its risk. The rest of the money was invested in government bonds as well as a few other small investments, which are not as volatile as the stocks. This is the type of asset allocation many investors held at the time and remains the basic advice many investors still adhere to. Rusty was an innovative thinker and had begun deviating from conventional wisdom by trying to construct a high-returning portfolio out of uncorrelated returns, while maintaining a high commitment to equities. Rusty was struggling with what to do about nominal zero coupon government bonds. He thought they had too low a return to justify a place in his portfolio and were cash intensive, yet, at the same time, he correctly feared his portfolio was vulnerable in a deflationary economic contraction. So he had begun a program to protect his portfolio using long duration treasury bonds, which used much less cash than normal bonds. He wondered what Bridgewater could add to this approach.

Bridgewater's response documented two key ideas that would later reappear in All Weather – environmental bias and risk balancing assets. Ray, Bob and others knew that holding equities made an investor vulnerable to an economic contraction, particularly a deflationary one. The Great Depression was the classic example of this. Stocks were decimated. It was also true as Rusty suspected that nominal government bonds provided excellent protection in these environments. The goal was an asset allocation that didn’t rely on predicting when the deflationary shift would occur but would provide balance nonetheless.

The 1990 memo to Rusty put it this way, “Bonds will perform best during times of disinflationary recession, stocks will perform best during periods of … growth, and cash will be the most attractive when money is tight.” Translation: all asset classes have environmental biases. They do well in certain environments and poorly in others. As a result, owning the traditional, equity heavy portfolio is akin to taking a huge bet on stocks and, at a more fundamental level, that growth will be above expectations.

The second key idea stemmed from their work helping corporations hedge unwanted balance sheet exposures. Ray, Bob, Dan and others always thought first about risk. If the risks didn’t offset, the client would be exposed. Due to his equity holdings Rusty was exposed to the risk that growth in the economy would be less than discounted by the market. To 'hedge' this risk, the equities needed to be paired with another asset class that also had a positive expected return (i.e. a beta) but would rise when equities fell and do so in a roughly similar magnitude to the decline in the stocks. The Bridgewater memo agreed that Rusty should hedge this risk with long duration bonds that would have roughly the same risk as his stocks. Quoting from the study: “low-risk/low-return assets can be converted into high-risk/high-return assets.” Translation: when viewed in terms of return per unit of risk, all assets are more or less the same. Investing in bonds, when risk-adjusted to stock-like risk, didn’t require an investor to sacrifice return in the service of diversification. This made sense. Investors should basically be compensated in proportion to the risk they take on: the more risk, the higher the reward.

As a result of this work, Ray wrote Rusty, “I think your approach to managing the overall portfolio makes sense. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I think it makes more sense than any strategy I have seen employed by any other plan sponsor.” The long duration bonds, or futures equivalents, would make the portfolio roughly balanced to surprises in economic growth while not giving up return. Bridgewater began managing Rusty’s bond portfolio and also overlaid their own alpha (this portfolio became their first ‘alpha overlay’ account).

Balancing Growth and Inflation

Over time these discrete discoveries - breaking a portfolio into its parts, recognizing environmental biases, risk adjusting asset classes – began to harden into principles, concepts that could be applied over and over again. Running these portfolios in real time, particularly through economic shocks ranging from stock market crashes to banking crises to emerging market blow ups reinforced a confidence in the principles. Yet, there were a few additional insights that would come before All Weather would grow into a mature concept. A key step was framing growth and inflation as the environmental drivers that mattered and mapping asset classes to these environments.

Ray, Bob and their other close associates knew stocks and bonds could offset each other in growth shocks, such as they had mapped out for Rusty. They also knew there were other environments that hurt both stocks and bonds, such as rising inflation. That was obvious because they lived through these shifts. For a 1970s style environment it was much better to hold commodities than it was to hold stocks and nominal bonds. This notion was rattling around in conversations and became fully formed for Bob in a simple experiment.

Since the invention of the PC early Bridgewater employees had utilized technology to collect and chart data and process decision rules. They called these rules 'indicators.' These were the ‘timeless and universal’ linkages Ray had set out to understand in the 1970s. A PC was a big step up in efficiency from a slide rule or an HP hand-held calculator and graphs plotted by hand with colored pencils, which was what they used early on. Bob was fiddling around with a new computer program, Microsoft Excel. Microsoft had released the first windows based version of it in 1987. With these tools Bob began playing around to see how shifting asset weights would impact portfolio returns. He found that the best performing portfolio was 'balanced' to inflation surprises. This made some sense coming after the inflationary 1970s and the dis-inflationary 1980s. It also held true for more extreme shocks, like the 1920s German hyperinflation or the US Depression. Bob shared his discovery with Ray. “I showed it to Ray and he goes, ‘that makes sense,’” Bob recalled years later. “Then he goes, ‘But it really should go beyond that, it should really also be balanced to growth.’”

This was classic Bridgewater. Though the ‘data’ indicated one thing (to balance assets via inflation sensitivity) common sense suggested another. The message - don’t blindly follow the data. Ray proceeded to sketch out the four boxes diagram below as a way of describing the range of economic environments any investor has faced in the past or might face in the future. The key was to put equal risk on each scenario to achieve balance. Investors are always discounting future conditions and they have equal odds of being right about any one scenario.

This diagram tied key principles together and became a template for All Weather. Much as a portfolio can be boiled down to three key drivers, economic scenarios can be broken down to four. There are all sorts of surprises in markets, but the general pattern of surprises follows this framework, because the value of any investment is primarily determined by the volume of economic activity (growth) and its pricing (inflation). Surprises impact markets due to changes in one or both of those factors. Think about any stress scenario and it ends up putting a portfolio in one or two of these sectors unexpectedly. The 1970’s oil shocks, the disinflation of the 1980’s or the growth disappointments post 2000 were all shifts in the environment relative to expectations. This framework captured them all. More importantly, it captured future, yet unknown surprises. There were many economic surprises after Bridgewater started running All Weather, and they were different from the surprises that preceded the strategy but the strategy weathered them all. The framework is built for surprises in general, not specific surprises, the very issue Ray had been wrestling with at the outset.

Initially the four box framework was used to explain alpha diversification with prospective clients. The framework explained the concept in such an intuitive and clear way that it became the starting point of their conversations. To be sure, at this time the focus of the key Bridgewater personnel was on alpha, not beta. To do so, Ray, Bob and Dan were obsessed with identifying and articulating timeless and universal tactical decision-making rules across most liquid financial markets. The tactical strategy that resulted from this work, Pure Alpha, was launched in 1991, years before All Weather came into being.

The final ingredient: inflation-linked bonds

If Bridgewater is the pioneer of risk parity, it is also true the firm played a critical role in the acceptance of inflation-linked bonds in institutional portfolios. Inflation-linked bonds play an important role in All Weather. The concept of a security whose principal value is tied to inflation dates to at least the 18th century but in the early 1990s inflation-linked bonds were not playing a significant role in institutional portfolios. Like the other discoveries along the way, this one came out of a conversation, or a series of them. A US foundation came to Bridgewater with a question: how could they consistently achieve a 5% real return? By law the foundation had to spend 5% of its money every year, so for it to keep operating in perpetuity it had to generate a 5% real return.

Going back to the building blocks of a given portfolio, the client’s “risk-free position” was no longer cash, but rather a portfolio that provided a real return. Inflation-linked bonds, bonds that pay out some real return plus actual inflation, would ‘guarantee’ this 5% hurdle, as long as one could find bonds paying 5% real coupons. The main problem, however, was that there weren’t any of these bonds in the US at the time. They were issued widely in the UK, Australia, Canada and a few other countries. As currency and bond managers, Ray, Bob and Dan knew how to hedge a bond portfolio back to dollars, eliminating the currency impact. The three of them sought to construct a global inflation-linked bond portfolio and hedge it back to the US dollar as a solution for the endowment. At the time, global real yields were around 4% so a little bit of leverage had to be applied to the inflation linked bonds to reach the endowment’s target.

Through their work for the foundation it became clear inflation-linked bonds were a viable, underutilized asset class relative to their structural correlation benefits. Inflation-linked bonds do well in environments of rising inflation, whereas stocks and nominal government bonds do not. As a result, the bonds filled a diversification gap that existed (and continues to exist) in the conventional portfolio. Most investors do not hold any assets that perform well when inflation surprises to the upside outside of commodities, which tend to comprise a tiny fraction of their overall portfolio. From the environmental perspective Bridgewater established, inflation-linked bonds helped balance out both boxes and other asset classes in a way no other asset class could (inflation-linked bonds are also negatively correlated to commodities relative to growth, an added benefit). Unsurprisingly, when the US Treasury decided to issue inflation-linked bonds, officials came to Bridgewater to seek advice on how to structure the securities. Bridgewater’s recommendations in 1997 led to TIPS being designed as they now are.
25 years in the making:

The All Weather Strategy

The fully formed All Weather emerged in 1996 as Ray, Bob and by this point the third CIO, Greg Jensen, who had joined Bridgewater out of college, sought to distill decades of learning into a single portfolio. The impetus was Ray's desire to put together a family trust and create an asset allocation mix that he believed would prove reliable long after he was gone. The accumulation and compounding of the investment principles Bridgewater had discovered, while hedging McNuggets, helping Rusty balance his portfolio, or managing inflation-linked bonds, came together into a real portfolio. The ultimate asset allocation mapped asset classes onto the environmental boxes framework, as shown in the diagram below.

Bridgewater had learned to map asset classes to the environments through study. They also knew that all the asset classes in the boxes would rise over time. This is how a capitalist system works. A central bank creates money, and then those who have good uses for the money borrow it and use it to achieve a higher return. These securities by and large come in two forms: equity (ownership) and bonds (loans). As a result, the boxes don’t offset each other entirely; the net return of the assets in aggregate are positive over time relative to cash. The environmental exposures cancel each other out, which leaves just the risk premium to collect.

Ray described creating the portfolio “like inventing a plane that’s never flown before.” It looked right, but would it fly? He started running a pilot with his assets, and it was someone’s part-time job to rebalance the portfolio from time to time. The portfolio flew the way Bridgewater expected, but it remained purely for Ray’s trusts. All Weather was never envisaged as a product. It was profound enough that no one was doing it but at the same time so straightforward that anyone could seemingly do it for themselves. While US equities were in the early stages of the tech bubble, Ray and others began propounding the concepts of balance, initially to rather indifferent interest.

The crash of 2000 changed that. With the bursting of the bubble came the realization that equities were by no means a “sure thing.” The tech bubble implosion shifted the mindset of the average investor, reminiscent of the disruptions of Bretton Woods, the oil shocks and the 1987 stock market crash. Many money managers began shifting towards alpha (tactical bets) as a way to cope with what they perceived as a now-unstable stock market.

Early Investors

Around that time, Bob began talking with Britt Harris, then CIO of a major corporate pension fund, which was a client of Bridgewater’s. Bob and Britt knew each other from coaching their children together and their children’s’ common nursery school. Britt called Bob up one Sunday and asked about inflation-linked bonds and how they would fit into an investment portfolio. Bob told Britt, “Let me tell you what I would do if I were in your shoes.” The portfolio he described and they built for Britt’s pension plan – as you might expect – was All Weather. It was so unorthodox that Britt insisted on a massive due diligence process, which further helped codify the principles underlying the All Weather approach. As Bob recounts, “Britt said, ’when the regulators come and ask me the question, I want to be able to pull the book off the shelf and show them all the work we did to show that this makes sense.’” The pension fund started with a $200mm allocation.

The second large client to adopt the All Weather approach was a major automobile company. They had just issued pension obligation bonds because they were severely underfunded in the aftermath of the 2001 stock market crash. The CIO wanted to manage this “new money” from the bond issuance in a “new way.” The CIO sent out perhaps 30 letters to the top institutional money managers in the world and ended up hiring five to manage his “new money”; Bridgewater was one of them.

Ray, Bob and Greg advised this company to build a portfolio based on principles the CIO could use for the entire fund: find the best asset allocation, find the best alpha, and then combine the two in such a way so as to reflect your relative confidence in each. The eventual total portfolio ended up being a roughly 70/30 split between beta and alpha (All Weather and Pure Alpha, Bridgewater’s actively-traded portfolio). The novelty was the All Weather component. It was slowly becoming apparent that some of their clients were recognizing the benefits of environmental balance and diversification and would be willing to hire Bridgewater to implement this for them.

To be sure, there was still resistance to the All Weather concepts. Peer risk dissuaded some investors for fear that they wouldn’t track their benchmark or peer group. The idea of leverage also raised questions. Some were wholly unfamiliar with the concepts of financial engineering and therefore were initially uncomfortable with derivative instruments (e.g., futures and swaps). And last, there was a big question over where exactly All Weather would fit in or who would own the profit and loss. However, after nearly a decade of poor performance and the credit crises of 2008, investors were hungry for an alternative. A clever consultant adopted the term “Risk Parity” and created an asset allocation bucket thereby opening the floodgates to strategies that one way or another seek to balance risks in a portfolio.

Gradually objections surrounding All Weather eased. As investors grew accustomed to looking at leverage in a less black-and-white way – “no leverage is good and any leverage is bad” – many have come to understand that a moderately-levered, highly-diversified portfolio is less risky than an unleveraged, un-diversified portfolio. Leverage is an implementation tool. If you can’t predict the future with much certainty and you don’t know which particular economic conditions will unfold, then it seems reasonable to hold a mix of assets that can perform well across all different types of economic environments. Leverage helps make the impact of the asset classes similar.2

The Elegant Solution

Fast forward to today. There is no limit to how the All Weather principles of balance can be applied and over time could perhaps contribute to a more stable financial system. One of the largest Canadian pension plans adopted All Weather as the benchmark for their entire plan. Other organizations have completely revamped their structure into alpha and beta teams. Some are introducing these concepts into defined contribution plans as an investment choice. A recent survey indicated most institutional investors are familiar with the concept and 25% are using it in their portfolio, though that of course means the vast majority of investors aren’t yet using what is effectively new technology.

All Weather grew out of Bridgewater’s effort to make sense of the world, to hold the portfolio today that will do reasonably well 20 years from now even if no one can predict what form of growth and inflation will prevail. When investing over the long run, all you can have confidence in is that (1) holding assets should provide a return above cash, and (2) asset volatility will be largely driven by how economic conditions unfold relative to current expectations (as well as how these expectations change). That’s it. Anything else (asset class returns, correlations, or even precise volatilities) is an attempt to predict the future. In essence, All Weather can be sketched out on a napkin. It is as simple as holding four different portfolios each with the same risk, each of which does well in a particular environment: when (1) inflation rises, (2) inflation falls, (3) growth rises, and (4) growth falls relative to expectations.

Overconfidence often pushes people to tinker with things they do not deeply understand, leading them to over-complicate, over-engineer, and over-optimize. All Weather is built very intentionally to not be that way. With the All Weather approach to investing, Bridgewater instead accepts the fact that they don’t know what the future holds, and thus choose to invest in balance for the long-run. Often Bridgewater people are asked at a cocktail party or a family gathering what to invest in. They don’t delve into the active alpha portfolio. That wouldn’t be useful anyway – the portfolio moves around. What the average person needs is a good, reliable asset allocation they can hold for the long-run. Bridgewater’s answer is All Weather, the result of three decades of learning how to invest in the face of uncertainty. Ray's trust assets remain invested in All Weather.

1. As an example, if you invest $10 in the S&P 500 and $10 in US bonds, the portfolio risk is dominated by the S&P because it is much riskier than the bonds. If instead you invest $5 in the S&P and $15 in 10 year bonds the portfolio is much more balanced, though with a lower return. Invest $5 and $15 in the manner described and add a bit of leverage and the portfolio has the same return as the stocks but less risk.

Your rating: None

Market Buzz: Looking for an upside

(Reuters / Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

(Reuters / Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Russian markets are most likely to open with slight decline after finishing in negative territory on Tuesday.

­Both Russian indices closed in the red, with the RTS dropping 0.7% and the MICEX sliding down 0.8%.

European markets finished lower as well on Tuesday, despite some good news being released. Germany posted its Zew Indicator of Economic sentiment, which came in higher than expected, and eurozone finance ministers approved the next tranche of emergency aid for Greece. The DAX is down 0.68%, France's CAC 40 is lower by 0.59% and London's FTSE 100 is lower by 0.03%.

North American stocks closed in mixed territory with the Dow Jones and the S&P gaining 0.5% and 0.4% respectively, with the NASDAQ dropping 0.1%.

Asian markets are trading low today with all the key indices in red territory. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is down 0.2%, Japan’s Nikkei is sliding more than 1% and China’s Shanghai Composite is lower by 0.4%.

Brent crude oil is reduced to $ 112.1 this morning, after it overcame a price of $ 112.5 per barrel on the previous day’s trading. An improved macroeconomic situation in Europe, as well as expectations of growth in US oil and petroleum reserves supports the price.

These Should be on Your Radar Screen

The US dollar begins the week mostly firmer.  The notable exception is the Japanese yen, which has seen some position adjustment ahead of the outcome of the BOJ meeting tomorrow.  In Asia, and Europe thus far, the dollar has found support near its five day moving average and the 38.2% retracement of its latest leg up (from Jan 16), both of which come in near JPY89.30.  The recovery of the yen took a toll on Japanese stocks.  The Nikkei lost 1.5% and posted an outside down day (trading on both sides of Friday's ranges and finishing below Friday's low).

The euro has been confined to an exception narrow range of about 15 ticks on either side of $1.3315.  A break of support in the $1.3260-80 area would lend credence to our argument that a top of some import is being carved out, with a potential double top at $1.34.   Sterling saw follow through selling on top of the pre-weekend losses.  The euro traded at 10-month highs against sterling above GBP0.8400, but is reversing lower near midday in London.  A modest bounce in cable seen in the European morning ran out of steam near $1.5900, which likely now marks the upper end of the new range.

Equity markets are mixed, with the MSCI Asia-Pacific seeing a 0.2% decline, dragged down by Japanese shares, and to a lesser extent Taiwan, Korea and Malaysia.  European bourses are higher with the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 advancing almost 0.5%, led by utilities, basic materials and technology.  While the US market is closed today, before the weekend the three main gauges, Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 closed at 5-year highs.  This week's earnings feature technology giants Apple, Google, IBM, and United Technologies.

There was a potentially important development in the US fiscal drama.  Some Republicans in the House of Representatives are proposing a three-month extension on the debt ceiling to give more time to negotiate a long-term deal.  It is not yet immediately clear if the measure has sufficient Republican support--remember Bohener's Plan B?--or if Obama will agree to it, after having the lack of interest in a short-term fix.  Still it shows some fluidity of the situation and should ease what little concern that had really been that the US would default.

In a very tight election in Lower Saxony, the real winner, regardless of the formation of the new state government is the Free Democrat Party, and by extension German Chancellor Merkel.  Merkel's CDU party depends on a coalition with the FDP, but over the past year, the FDP has been trounced in most state elections.  The conventional view that the national election later with year would result in another grand coalition was predicated on the inability of the FDP to deliver.  Some feared it would not even meet the 5% threshold to secure parliamentary membership.  In Lower Saxony, the FDP defied expectations and received almost 10% of the vote, more than twice what the opinion polls suggested.  Yet, FDP party head and Economics Minister Roesler offered to resign and threw his support toward Bruederle, the head of the party's parliament caucus, who is regarded as more dynamic and with some hope he can revive the party's fortunes.  A formal leadership decision in May.    The SPD and Greens eked out a surprise victory, but  Steinbrueck, the SPD candidate for Chancellor,  apologized for his gaffes in the national campaign, which may have cost the SPD votes in the local contest.     

The most anticipated event of the week is tomorrow's conclusion of the BOJ meeting.  The pressure on the BOJ from the new Abe government is widely recognized and with its recent economy assessment, in which most regions were downgraded, the BOJ cannot be content either.  There is, therefore, little doubt the BOJ will take action.  However, the impact of some of the measures that have been discussed like open-ended QE or a 2% inflation goal is questionable.  What does open-ended QE mean when the BOJ has increased the amount of assets it is buying repeatedly ?  How is a 2% inflation goal credible when it has failed to achieve its 1% goal?    Similarly, a cut in the interest paid on reserves is possible, but it is not clear how that would be inflationary or stimulative.   Our fundamental and technical analysis warns that the market is vulnerable to disappointment or a "sell the rumor buy the fact" type of activity. There has been some position adjustment today as the dollar still has not been able to sustain a move above JPY90. In terms of intent, the imagery we still think apropos is blowing (hot) air underneath the (yen's) parachute to increase the likelihood of a soft landing and reduce the antagonism that its strategy engenders.  

There are two aspects of the technical condition of that are worth underscoring.  First, we think there was significant deterioration of the major foreign currencies, with sterling convincingly violating a 7-month uptrend line, the dramatic weakness of the Swiss franc, and new multi-week lows for the Australian and Canadian dollars.  The euro has fared best, but technically appears vulnerable.  Second, we note that implied volatility in the currency markets has trended higher in recent weeks. Before the weekend, 3-month euro vol reached its highest level since Oct.  It reached a low in late Nov near 6.4% and now is near 8.6%.  3-month yen vol is at its highest level since Sept 2011 near 11.2%.  On the eve of the election announcement in mid-Nov, it was near 7%, having bottomed a month earlier near 6.55%.  Sterling vol is at its highest level in four months near 7.3%.  It bottomed in middle of last month near 5.25%.

The euro area finance minister meet today.  Cyprus aid package is not ready and it won't be for at least a couple more months.  Greece is progressing towards another tranche amid fresh call from the IMF than even if the country stays on track, it will need another 9 bln euros of assistance (perhaps in the form of further official sector concessions, Merkel has hinted in the latter years of its current program).  There may also be some discussion of Spain.  Perhaps the one notable action from the Eurogroup is that Juncker who has been the leader, with mixed reviews, including last week's gaffe about the euro, is stepping down.  His likely replacement, the new Dutch Finance Minister Dijsselbloem, has been widely tipped.  

A more pressing issue for investors is the implication of the repayment of LTRO funds by the banks starting next week.  Speculation that it would tighten financial conditions saw euribor yields rise sharply.    ECB's Coeure tried to calm market anxiety by indicating that he did not expect an impact on Eonia from the settlement.    The implied yield of the  March 13 Euribor futures contract has been trending higher since early December. The backing up in money market rates in Europe did not coincide with a stronger euro. We anticipate some stabilization in euribor in the days ahead, awaiting indications of the size of the repayments.  Forecasts generally seem to range between 100-200 bln euros of the roughly trillion euros outstanding.

In addition, we draw your attention to the following events and data:  Australia's Q4 CPI on Tuesday could sway expectations for the RBA meeting in early February.  Presently there is about a 40% chance of a 25 bp rate cut discounted.  Although the headline pace of inflation likely accelerated, the core rate appears stable and has not been an obstacle to easier RBA policy.  The release of the BOE minutes will likely reaffirm market expectations that a resumption of QE is not imminent, even though the economy appears to have contracted in Q4 (first estimate released on Friday, Jan 25).  Europe reports the flash PMI readings in Thurs.   A critical issue is if Germany, which appears to have contracted in Q4, is in a recession (as defined by two consecutive quarters of contracting GDP (though note that technically, a recession in the US is determined by National Bureau of Economic Research and it uses a broader definition).   I

In emerging markets, we note that the tone of Mexico's central bank statement was more dovish than expected before the weekend.    It effectively removed any lingering threat of a hike, though we do not expect a rate cut either.  Israel goes to the polls and barring a significant surprise, we do not expect much of a market reaction, though note that the dollar has found bids ahead of 1-year lows near ILS3.70.   Three emerging market central banks meet this week, Turkey, the Philippines and South Africa.   The only action we expect is a 25 bp rate cut by South Africa.  The rand has been the weakest since the start of the year, losing 4.5% against the dollar, but many have their sights on the ZAR9.0, the high from October and again in November.

Your rating: None

Market Buzz: A rather laid-back Monday

No sudden moves are expected today on the markets as investors worldwide will mainly focus on general news background.

­Russian markets are expected to open in the red despite having closed in positive territory on Friday. Two key Russian indices finished in the green, with the RTS gaining 1.14% and the MICEX up 1.10%.

Asian markets are higher today as Chinese and Hong Kong shares show gains. The Shanghai Composite is up 0.23% and the Hang Seng rose 0.01%. The Nikkei 225 is closed for a holiday.

Oil prices slid on Monday, with Brent losing 0.27% and Light down 0.34%.

“Weak dynamics in Asian markets and a decline in world oil prices traditionally affect Russian stock exchanges, so I expect Russian indices to open with losse,” Yulia Voytovich of Investcafe explained.

However, European markets traded mixed. The FTSE 100 gained 0.36%, while the DAX dropped 0.43% and the CAC 40 lost 0.07%.

North and South American stocks also failed to show positive dynamics, but managed to finish mainly in green. The Dow Jones and the S&P 500 gained 0.39% and 0.34%, respectively, while the NASDAQ slid 0.04%.

“Today will not bring much in macroeconomic statistics, so no sudden moves on the markets are expected. Investors worldwide will mainly focus on general news background,” Voytovich said.

Boehner To Obama: “No Budget, No Pay”

And the game continues as Speaker Boehner appears to be kicking the can across the corridor to the Senate (and implicitly the Democrats) as he quite specifically advises them that with no budget, there is no talk of debt-ceiling extensions. The principle is simple, he notes, "no budget, no pay." As Dow Jones reports, the 'compromise' deal is that the House will propose a three-month extension of the debt-ceiling in exchange for a budget (i.e. spending cuts from the Senate) - which of course is all but impossible given the years of inability to pass a budget anyway. Check to Obama (though we know the response)...

Following are excerpts of House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) closing remarks as at the House Republican members retreat today, as prepared:

“Before there is any long-term debt limit increase, a budget should be passed that cuts spending. The Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to pass a budget for four years.  That is a shameful run that needs to end, this year.

“We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem.  The principle is simple: no budget, no pay. ...

“A long-term increase in the debt limit that is not preceded by meaningful and responsible reductions in government spending might avert a default, but it would also invite a downgrade of our nation’s credit that damages our economy, hurts families and small businesses, and destroys jobs.”

Via Dow Jones:

  • DJN - DJ U.S. HOUSE TO SEEK THREE-MONTH EXTENSION OF DEBT CEILING
  • DJN - DJ U.S. REP CANTOR: IF HOUSE AND SENATE DON'T PASS BUDGET IN 3 MONTHS LAWMAKERS WON'T GET PAID

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Frontrunning: January 18

  • Foreign Hostages Die in Algeria’s Battle With Terrorists (Bloomberg)
  • The latest bank to soon join the currency wars: McCafferty Says BOE Must Keep Open Mind on New Policy Tools (Bloomberg)
  • US debt talks complicated by timing (FT)
  • BOJ eyes open-ended asset buying, agrees new inflation goal (Reuters)
  • AmEx Says U.S. Card Income Fell 42% as Loss Provisions Increased (BBG)
  • Call to raise age for US’s Medicare (FT)
  • Obama Promise to Raise Middle Class Living Already Seen in Peril (BBG)
  • China Exits Slowdown as Quarterly Growth Tops Forecasts (BBG) - actually, as new Politburo says to make it appear that way
  • Britain to drift out of European Union without reforms (Reuters)
  • Republicans weigh interim debt-limit hike (FT)
  • Abe's aide says Japan shouldn't fret if yen falls to 100 vs dlr (Reuters) ... and it was 90 just a few days ago
  • PBOC May Seek More Liquidity Operations (Dow Jones)

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* Former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong told the world Thursday
evening that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win seven Tour de
France titles.

* Algeria's military launched a raid on Thursday
to free about 40 foreigners held by militants at a remote natural-gas
complex, leaving some hostages dead, surprising and angering several
governments and putting leaders across the world at a loss to determine
the fate of their citizens.

* In his final days as U.S. Treasury
secretary, Timothy Geithner reflected on the financial crisis and the
response he helped craft, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Among other things, he said the government's rescue of the financial
system was doomed to be unpopular.

* In approving Boeing Co's
787 Deamliner to start carrying passengers in 2011, the Federal Aviation
Administration relied extensively on data generated by Boeing that
indicated the plane's advanced lithium-ion battery systems -- never used
before on a big jetliner -- featured redundant safeguards that were
essentially foolproof.

* Rio Tinto Chief Executive Tom Albanese
agreed to step down on Thursday, the latest in a string of leaders
toppled by shifting fortunes at the world's biggest mining companies.

*
Quarterly earnings reports released on Thursday underscore the
lingering illnesses afflicting some of the largest, best-known U.S.
banks and the comparatively ruddy health of some smaller regional
lenders.

* Sony Corp has reached a deal to sell its U.S.
headquarters at 550 Madison Avenue for $1.1 billion, the company said on
Thursday, a strong price that shows how investors are bidding
aggressively for top Manhattan properties.

* Toyota Motor Corp
has settled what was to be the first in a group of hundreds of pending
wrongful death and injury lawsuits involving sudden, unintended
acceleration by Toyota vehicles.

FT

In a drive for transparency, authorities in the Cayman Islands are planning on creating a public database of funds domiciled in the British territory for the first time.

Videogames seller Game Group is interested in acquiring stores from collapsed music retailer HMV, the CEO said.
 
As their mega-merger continues to go through regulatory clearance, Glencore and Xstrata are set to extend the deadline for the deal for a third time.

The British banking industry wants a deadline of May 2014 to be imposed for claims from customers who say they were mis-sold payment protection insurance, says one senior executive.

Barclays is considering whether it should recoup some or all of the 290 million pounds it was fined for Libor-rate rigging from the bonuses it is due to pay investment bankers in 2012.

NYT

* Hours after Algerian forces raided a gas facility, there was still no official word on the number of hostages freed, killed or still held by their Islamist kidnappers.

* In a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong admitted to using banned substances but did not say how he did it or who helped him.

Thomas Weisel, who bankrolled Lance Armstrong through seven Tour de France wins, said in his first public comment on the matter that he never personally saw an instance of doping on the team.

* Most banks have recovered from the recent financial collapse, but two companies, Bank of America and Citigroup have reported continuing effects on earnings.

* AT&T warned that it would take a fourth-quarter charge of about $10 billion because of bigger-than-expected pension obligations.

* The Chinese economy picked up steam during the last few months of 2012, closely watched data from Beijing on Friday confirmed. But at the same time the figures underlined the view that the pace of future growth is likely to remain well below that seen in recent years.

* E*Trade Financial named Paul Idzik, a former executive at Barclays, as its new chief, ending a five-month search for a new leader.

* Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has sold shares in itself at $19 apiece, a person briefed on the matter said, reaping about $446.5 million in proceeds.

Canada

CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL

--The State Electricity Regulatory Commission of China (SERC) said China's power consumption could reach above 9 percent in 2013 from 5.5 percent in 2012.

CHINA DAILY (www.chinadaily.com.cn)

--Fears over intellectual property lawsuits by foreign train technology companies will not derail exports of Chinese bullet trains, Vice Minister of Science and Technology Cao Jianlin said in an interview, dismissing copycat claims by Japan's Kawasaki as "nonsense."

--A former Japanese leader visited a memorial site to victims of Japanese wartime aggression, but analysts were quick to reject ay suggestion that Tokyo will change its policies toward China.

PEOPLE'S DAILY

--China's Railway Ministry said investment in railway could hit 650 billion yuan and that it will set a National Railway Development Fund as soon as possible.

China

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

* Two class action lawsuits were filed against the federal government in Canada after the human resources and skills development department lost a portable hard drive containing personal information about more than half a million people who took out student loans.

The department said last week the device contained data on 583,000 Canada Student Loans Program borrowers from 2000 to 2006.

* The federal ethics commissioner wants to talk to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty about his letter to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) after it was revealed that he wrote to the arm's-length broadcast regulator in support of a constituent's bid for a radio licence.

Reports in the business section:

* More Canadians went online to do their Christmas shopping this year, according to a new report by MasterCard Advisors.

Canadian consumers spent C$2.8 billion ($2.84 billion) shopping online in December, up 26 percent over the previous year and representing about 6.6 per cent of the month's total retail sales.

NATIONAL POST

* Three Quebec City teens have been arrested over charges of planning a shootout at their high school.

The three teens, two boys aged 14 and 15 and a 16 year old girl, who have pleaded not guilty, face charges of conspiracy to commit murder and will remain detained until a bail hearing on Monday.

FINANCIAL POST

* The blowout in price between Alberta's heavy oil and the North American benchmark price is a "longer term issue" with no quick fix, Alberta Investment Management Corp (AIMCo) CEO Leo de Bever said.

Fly On The Wall 7:00 Market Snapshot

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

Amazon.com (AMZN) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at Pacific Crest
Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Credit Suisse (CS) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley
Expeditors (EXPD) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Fabrinet (FN) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Las Vegas Sands (LVS) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Movado (MOV) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup
Netflix (NFLX) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital
Qlik Technologies (QLIK) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
Research in Motion (RIMM) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies
Tyson Foods (TSN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital
Wynn Resorts (WYNN) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo

Downgrades

Alterra Capital (ALTE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Sterne Agee
Ball Corp. (BLL) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies
CSX (CSX) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Capital One (COF) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney Capital
Carrizo Oil & Gas (CRZO) downgraded to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse
Clarcor (CLC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William Blair
Finisar (FNSR) downgraded to Underperform from Hold at Jefferies
MGM Resorts (MGM) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Wells Fargo
NetSuite (N) downgraded to Neutral from Conviction Buy at Goldman
Ultimate Software (ULTI) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Visa (V) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at RW Baird
Westamerica (WABC) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital

Initiations

Geron (GERN) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Halcon Resources (HK) initiated with a Hold at Stifel Nicolaus
Harry Winston (HWD) initiated with a Buy at Nomura
Inovio Pharma (INO) initiated with an Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) initiated with a Buy at Janney Capital
Marathon Oil (MRO) initiated with a Buy at Stifel Nicolaus
Oncothyreon (ONTY) initiated with an Underweight at Piper Jaffray
Threshold Pharmaceuticals (THLD) initiated with a Neutral at Piper Jaffray
Tronox (TROX) initiated with a Buy at B. Riley Caris
Ziopharm (ZIOP) initiated with a Neutral at Piper Jaffray

HOT STOCKS

GE (GE) on target to achieve dougle-digit earnings growth in 2013
Said outlook for developed markets remain uncertain
Sees growth in China, resource rich countries
Weiss family raised American Greetings (AM) offer to $17.50 from $17.18 per share
Moody's changed Rite Aid (RAD) outlook to positive from stable
Schlumberger (SLB) said global macroeconomic environment remains uncertain
Sees 2013 global oil demand similar to 2012
Liberty Media (LMCA) bought 50M shares of Sirius XM (SIRI), control above 50%
Intel (INTC) ”excited about strong pipeline of products coming to market”
Sees little growth in wireless in 2013
Capital One (COF) sees average quarterly revenue levels in 2013 like Q412
Sees reduction in loan balances in 2013
Sony Corporation of America (SNE) sold 550 Madison Avenue building for $1.1B
AZZ Inc. (AZZ) sees FY14 margins remaining strong
ONEOK Partners (OKS) announced $465M-$500M project investments through 2015
NuPathe's (PATH) Zecuity approved by FDA

EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:
General Electric (GE), Schlumberger (SLB), Xilinx (XLNX), Bank Mutual (BKMU), Intel (INTC), Wintrust Financial (WTFC)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:
Matthews (MATW), People's United (PBCT), Capital One (COF)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:
Wipro (WIT), Associated Banc-Corp (ASBC), American Express (AXP)

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

GE (GE) is the world's top producer of aircraft engines and medical-imaging equipment, but as far as its profits are concerned, it’s very much a bank. GE Capital is expected to account for nearly half the company's 2012 profit, the Wall Street Journal reports
Dell’s (DELL) potential $23B leveraged buyout could also be the deal that finally gets the leveraged-buyout machine going again, showering financiers in fees and potentially yielding big returns for investors, the Wall Street Journal reports
Americans are more confident in the future and are increasingly striking out to set up their own homes, a move that is helping propel the housing recovery, Reuters reports
When U.S. natural gas producers release their 2012 annual reports, many companies may have to significantly reduce a key indicator of their financial health: reserves. The SEC
requires companies to calculate and report year-end oil and gas reserves using 12-month average prices, Reuters reports
With the worst flu outbreak since 2009 gripping the U.S., vaccine makers (GSK, AZN) are determined to do better next season. They’re developing powerful vaccines that hold the promise of cutting incidences of flu by the thousands, Bloomberg reports
Franklin Templeton Investments (BEN) reduced its holdings of Apple (AAPL) last year to 4.2% from 7% in 2011 on concern the maker of the iPhone lacks a strategy to sell cheaper smartphones in emerging markets such as China and India, Bloomberg reports

SYNDICATE

CyrusOne (CONE) 16.5M share IPO priced at $19.00
Northern Tier (NTI) Energy 10.7M share Secondary priced at $24.46
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) 23.529M share IPO priced at $19.00
SunCoke Energy (SXCP) 13.5M share IPO priced at $19.00
Trius Therapeutics (TSRX) files to sell common stock

Your rating: None

Market Buzz: Small gains expected worldwide as positive signs emerge

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.(AFP Photo / Stephen Chernin)

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.(AFP Photo / Stephen Chernin)

Russian indices are expected to make slight gains on Friday after macroeconomic data from the US and China inspired investors the previous day.

­

“[The] Friday trading session in Russia is most likely to show a mild growth. Given positive dynamics in Asian floors and a close of US trading in the ‘green zone,’ one could expect Russian markets to open in the black, with falling oil prices still pressing the indices,” Darya Pichugina of Investcafe wrote in an email.

On Thursday, both key Russian indices finished trading in positive territory. The RTS rose 0.91% to 1,585.44 and the MICEX was up 0.59% to 1,523.74. This upbeat sentiment came mostly on the back of positive statistics from the US, Pichugina added.

Despite the upbeat macroeconomic data from China and the US, as well the military conflict currently raging in north Africa, oil prices are declining: Brent lost 0.14% and the WTI dropped 0.32%, Pichugina said.

China reported better-than-expected economic growth for Q4 2012, with its GDP rising 7.9% during the period compared to a 7.4% growth in the previous quarter.

The number of new homes being built in the US in December rose sharply, according to official figures. Investors were also cheered by good news in the job market, where first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low last week. The declining number of unemployment claims sowed hopes that the world’s largest economy is gaining traction, CNN Money reported, quoting Chief Market Strategist Doug Roberts of Channel Capital Research.

Corporate earnings in the US offered a mixed picture, with Bank of America posting quarterly earnings slightly better that analysts had expected, while Citigroup fell short of expectations.

Asian markets have generally risen today, with Japanese shares leading the region. The Nikkei 225 is up 2.46%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.75% and China's Shanghai Composite went up 0.56%.

The Dow Jones, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all rose more than 0.6%, with the S&P 500 closing at a five-year high.

European markets finished higher on Thursday with shares in France leading the region. The CAC 40 is up 0.96%, while Germany's DAX is up 0.58% and London's FTSE 100 is up 0.46%.

Market Buzz: Protracted uncertainty prevails

AFP Photo / Yoshikazu Tsuno

AFP Photo / Yoshikazu Tsuno

Global floors remain sluggish as traders register disappointment with the World Bank’s forecast of weaker-than-expected economic growth in 2013, and as US debt ceiling negotiations draw nearer.

Russian indices are expected to produce another day of slow trading on Thursday, as uncertainty prevails on international floors, according to Darya Pichugina of Investcafe. Russian stocks traded mixed Wednesday, with the RTS declining 0.34% to 1,571.15, and the MICEX rising 0.12% to 1,516.67.

Asian floors also began Thursday trading with mixed sentiments: The Nikkei has gained 0.15% and the Shanghai Composite has gone down 0.78%, Pichugina added.

The debate over the US debt ceiling is heating up as Washington is expected to reach its borrowing limit in February. Should the country fail to resolve the issue, the world’s largest economy could default, Fed chief Ben Bernanke and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have warned.

The debt ceiling is expected to dominate investor attention after the reporting period in the US concludes, J.J. Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade, told CNN Money.

"We may have a bit of a pause after earnings season ends and we head into debt ceiling negotiations," Kinahan said. "That's when you might see people start to hold back. For now, people are trading earnings as if it's a normal market."

The World Bank report was another point of concern for investors, as the Washington-based bank projected that the world economy would expand 2.4% in 2013, down from a June forecast of 3%, after growing 2.3% in 2012. The lowered expectations are due largely to austerity measures, high unemployment and low business confidence weighing down economies in developed nations, the World Bank said.

“Doubts have been growing that the strength in equities can be sustained as fears of the outlook for the global economy re-emerged after the World Bank downgraded its forecast for global GDP leading to some investors banking recent profits,” Angus Campbell, Head of Market Analysis at Capital Spreads, wrote in an email.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones fell 0.2% on Wednesday, with Boeing leading the decline. The S&P 500 closed almost flat, while the Nasdaq gained 0.2%. Boeing shares fell 3.4% as its ‘Dreamliner’ jet continued to disappoint. Two Japanese airlines grounded their fleets of the 787 aircraft after one of All Nippon Airways' Dreamliners had to make an emergency landing.

European markets traded mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The CAC 40 gained 0.30% and the DAX rose 0.20%, while the FTSE 100 lost 0.22%.


Two 787 Fleets Grounded, As Well As Overnight Optimism

Those who went long Boeing in the last few days on hopes the "smoking battery" issue had been resolved, especially following Ray LaHood comment's he would fly the Dreamliner, which is rapidly becoming the Nightmareliner for Boeing, anytime anywhere, are about to be grounded, as is the entire 787 fleet of All Nippon Airlines and Japan Airlines following yet another incident forcing an emergency Dreamliner landing. This happened after ANA "alarms indicated smoke in the forward area of the plane, which houses batteries and other equipment, the airline said, and there was a "burning-like smell" in the cockpit and parts of the cabin. The plane landed at Takamatsu airport in western Japan, where the 129 passengers were evacuated using the plane's emergency chutes. The plane also carried eight crew members. ANA said that the exact cause was still undetermined. The event was designated as a "serious incident" by Japan's transport ministry, setting off an immediate investigation by the Japan Transport Safety Board, which dispatched a team to the scene." The result - a 4% drop in the stock so far premarket, and if any more airlines are to ground their fleet the implications for the backlog could be devastating, it will only get far worse for both the company and the Dow Jones average, of which it is part.

Elsewhere, as we already reported, Germany cut its 2013 growth outlook to 0.4%, down from 0.7% in 2012. However, while Juncker yesterday launched the first shot of verbal intervention in an attempt to keep German exports strong, today ECB's Nowotny confirmed that the confusion in Europe is as prevalent as ever, following remarks that the "panic in markets over the EUR is over, and the exchange rate is not a matter of major concern", which pushed the EURUSD higher by some 50 pips. While these remarks directly negated Juncker's, they also made sure that the export-growth driven Germany's recession is here to stay as every yard higher in the EURUSD means, several German GDP ends up several ticks lower. Pick your poison.

In other news the earnings season revs up a gear today as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs kick off the reporting season for the US investment banks (before US market open). This should set the tone for the rest of the banking sector who report over the following few days including Bank of America and Citigroup tomorrow and Morgan Stanley on Friday. For the record, the market is expecting EPS of $1.22 and $3.66 for JPM and GS respectively. Importantly though, in recent months Q4 expectations themselves have been raised by around 7% and 18% for JPM and GS respectively, according to Bloomberg data. Indeed, expectations for the broader financial sector as a whole are high, with the financials industry sector rallying more than 13% since the lows in mid-November (vs a 8.7% gain for the broader S&P500).

Deutsche Bank's recap continues: In terms of yesterday’s US session, it was a day of two halves as a weaker-than-expected Empire Manufacturing print (-7.8 vs 0.0 expected) and another 3% drop in Apple set the scene for a weak open. From there, the S&P500 managed a 0.6% intraday rally to close with a gain of 0.11%, taking the benchmark to a new postfinancial crisis high of 1472. Driving the rally was a better than expected retail sales number (+0.5% vs +0.2% expected) which as our US economists point out, came amidst a recent spate of weaker consumer sentiment indicators including the UofMichigan (72.9 Dec vs. 82.6 Oct) and Conference board surveys (65.1 Dec vs. 73.1 Oct). Indeed retail stocks (+0.75%) outperformed on the day led by JC Penney (+3.4%), Tiffany’s (+3.3%) and Macy’s (+2.2%) – helping to offset another weak day for telecoms (-0.9%) and technology stocks (-0.6%). While on the topic of technology, Apple had its second consecutive day of +3% losses. Its stock price closed below $500/share for the first time since February 10th 2012 and is now about 31% below the all-time peak of $702 reached in mid-September 2012.

Across the Atlantic, the head of Fitch’s sovereign ratings team reiterated that another last minute US budget deal isn't consistent with a AAA rating, and the "self inflicted crisis" will put into question the predictability and reliability of US fiscal policy. The agency also said that the risks of the UK losing its AAA rating are increasing, adding that the Treasury's Autumn Statement that it would miss its 2015-16 target to start cutting the level of net debt had weakened the Treasury's "credibility".

In an interview in the FT, PM Rajoy said that his government’s reform programme will begin to bear fruit in the form of an economic recovery later this  year, and will “come through very clearly in 2014”. Rajoy also called for expansionist policies from countries that could afford it, probably referring to Germany. Mr Rajoy also insisted that Spain was right not to request aid from the ECB last year - and ruled out any such move for the time being. Mr Rajoy suggested he would only consider OMT in the event of fresh market turmoil. "The option is there, and it would be absurd to rule it out for all time," the PM said. (FT) Turning to overnight markets, most Asian markets are trading with a weaker tone paced by losses on the Hang Seng (-0.22%) and Shanghai Composite (-0.56%).

The Nikkei (-2%) is underperforming broader regional markets, despite better than expected November machine orders (+3.9%mom vs +0.3% expected), partly driven by profit taking following four straight sessions of gains. The JPY is continuing to strengthen across the board following comments on the newswires from the LDP’s Secretary General that a weaker JPY may be of concern for some industries. Staying in Japan, the Nikkei reported that the Abe government will present successors to BoJ Governor Shirakawa and his two deputies around February 15th.

In other interesting headlines, the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker said that Euro’s recent rise against major currencies had resulted in an exchange rate that was “dangerously high”. The comment drove a late selloff in EURUSD (-0.57%) yesterday, although it remains about 1.7% higher than before the ECB’s meeting last Thursday. On the topic of central banks, Boston Fed President Rosengren said that the Fed could enlarge asset purchases if it were to become necessary. He highlighted that the Fed would want to see about a 0.5ppt drop in unemployment before it would begin to decide whether to halt purchases.

Turning to the day ahead, the German government is expected to publish its annual economic report that is reported to revise down the country’s 2013 growth estimate to 0.5% from a previous estimate of 1% (Reuters). Eurozone CPI, Italian trade data for November and a German 10yr bund auction are the other highlights of today’s European calendar. In the US, December CPI, industrial production, the Fed’s beige book and the NAHB housing market index are the main data releases. But all eyes will be on the JPM and GS results which are due at 12 noon and 12:30pm London time respectively.

Your rating: None

Market Buzz: No major moves as world awaits US corporate earnings reports

AFP Photo / Stephen Chernin

AFP Photo / Stephen Chernin

Global investors are expected to hold off on major action until corporate reports from the US give an indication of the state of the world’s largest economy. Uncertainty around the US debt ceiling has added to an overall market malaise.

“In the near future they expect quarterly reports of American banks to be released, with their success now likely to become the only notable growth stimulus. And so far a Russian market seems to freeze up pending developments on global floors,” Liliya Brueva of Investcafe wrote in an email to RT.

Russian stocks closed mixed after Tuesday’s session: The RTS lost 0.86% to end at 1,576.54, and the MICEX climbed 0.11% to 1,516.92.

International investors generally held off on big moves until a clearer picture emerges of US corporate profits. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase will report their results Wednesday, while Intel, Bank of America and General Electric are due later in the week.

The unresolved issue of raising the US debt ceiling is another source of investor uncertainty. Fed chief Ben Bernanke and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner offered sharp commentaries on the issue; Geithner argued that unless the debt ceiling is raised, the US may default on its debts as early as the end of February, Brueva said.

“If you thought the US fiscal cliff worries were over think again, as markets were shrouded in more uncertainty about the outcome of future negotiations in respect of the US debt ceiling,” said Angus Campbell, head of market analysis at Capital Spreads.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed up between 0.1% and 0.2% on Tuesday. The Nasdaq dipped 0.2%.

Asian markets also traded mixed: Japan's Nikkei advanced 0.7% after being closed Monday for a holiday, the Shanghai Composite added 0.6% and the Hang Seng declined 0.1%.

European markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The FTSE 100 gained 0.15%, while the DAX led the CAC 40 lower, falling 0.69% and 0.29% respectively.

Market Buzz: Apple and the Fed in the limelight

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.(AFP Photo / Stephen Chernin)

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.(AFP Photo / Stephen Chernin)

Russian markets are expected to react sharply to comments by US Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, while gains in China are likely to boost indices.

­Russian indices moved higher Monday, supported by strong corporate results in the retail and resource sectors. The MICEX and the RTS both jumped 1.2%.

European stock markets closed in the red Monday as investors awaited a speech by US Fed Chief Ben Bernanke on the country’s monetary policy. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.4% and the German DAX 30 rose 0.2%, led by gains of chemicals group BASF SE. The French CAC 40 rose 0.1%, supported by banking.

US stocks closed mostly lower on Monday after Apple announced a cut in iPhone production. Bernanke’s pledge that the Fed’s easing policy has a low risk of inflation also failed to cheer investors. The Dow Jones itched 0.1%, the S&P 500 shed less than 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.3%. Shares of Apple fell 3.6% in a $17bn selloff after the WSJ reported that LCD panel producers cut output for Apple amid slower-than-expected global sales of the iPhone 5.

Asian stocks traded mixed Tuesday, supported by Japanese gains on the weaker yen; losses by Apple also hit the tech sector. Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.7% to its highest level since the end of April 2010. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index shed 0.3% and the Shanghai Composite added 0.4%, extending gains on speculation that mainland China would open stock markets to foreign investors. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.3%, and South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.9%.

Market Buzz: ECB and China fail to stir things up

RT Photo / Irina Vaseivitskaya

RT Photo / Irina Vaseivitskaya

Russian stocks are expected to open slightly higher on Friday amid driving oil prices, but mixed statistics from China would cap the indices.

­Russian indices showed mixed picture Thursday in low-volume trading with the MICEX shed 0.3% and the RTS itched 0.2%.

European stocks traded mixed Thursday as the European Central Bank and the Bank of England both left monetary policy unchanged, while successful debt auctions in Spain and Italy supported the indices. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.3%. France’s CAC 40 shed 0.4% and Germany’s DAX 30 lost 0.2%, while Italy’s FTSE MIB gained 0.7% and Spain’s IBEX 35 index  rose 0.2%.

US stocks rose on Thursday after December exports data from China beat expectations, bolstering investor sentiment. The Dow Jones gained 0.6%, the S&P 500 added 0.8% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.5%.

Asian stocks mostly moved lower Friday after data showed an increase in Chinese inflation. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.1%, erasing early gains of 0.2%, while the Shanghai Composite declined 0.5% consumer prices’ data slightly exceeded consensus estimates. South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.5%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index gave up 0.15%.But Japan’s Nikkei Stock added 1.5% supported by the tech sector and a weaker yen.

Market Buzz: Russia back in the ranks

(Reuters / Brendan McDermid)

(Reuters / Brendan McDermid)

Russian stocks, back to normal trading schedule after New Year holidays, are expected to be looking westward for good news. That’s after the country’s key indices went up on Tuesday, upbeat about developments over the ‘fiscal cliff’ issue.

The November index for industrial production in Germany will become the most important market driver on Wednesday, Grigory Birg of Investcafe told RT via email. The indicator lost 2.6% in October, with a further decline likely to have a negative impact on a share market.

Tuesday marked the first working day for Russian floors in 2013 after a 10–day pause for traditional New Year celebrations. Both the RTS and the MICEX had a good start to the year, rising 3.22% and 2.72% respectively. This is because the floors were winning back the news that the US has so far managed to escape the fiscal cliff.

In the early hours of 2013, US politicians finally agreed a deal on tax and spending, stipulating raising income tax for individuals making $400,000 and coupling earning $450,000 from 35% to 39.6%, as well as permanently extending Bush-era tax cuts for those earning less than $400,000 annually.

On top of that, the legislation proposes a one-year extension on unemployment insurance benefits, which are about to expire for 2 million people. The bill doesn’t include any cuts to entitlement programs such as social security or Medicare. It also does not tackle the issue of raising the debt ceiling from the current limit of $16.4 trillion, which the US is about to cross. At present, the US national debt stands at $16.438 trillion.

In the US, the stocks were in the red for the second consecutive day on Tuesday. That’s at a time when aluminum giant Alcoa opened a reporting season for corporate America with better-than-expected quarterly results. The company reported sales of $5.9 billion in Q4, above analysts' estimates of a drop to $5.6 billion. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq closed down between 0.2% and 0.4%, bouncing back from steeper declines ahead of the close.

European markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The CAC 40 gained 0.03%, while the DAX led the FTSE 100 lower. They fell 0.48% and 0.18% respectively.

Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday. The Nikkei 225 was up 0.89% while the Hang Seng gained 0.36% and the Shanghai Composite lost 0.03%.

Market Buzz: Russia back in the ranks

(Reuters / Brendan McDermid)

(Reuters / Brendan McDermid)

Russian stocks, back to normal trading schedule after New Year holidays, are expected to be looking westward for good news. That’s after the country’s key indices went up on Tuesday, upbeat about developments over the ‘fiscal cliff’ issue.

The November index for industrial production in Germany will become the most important market driver on Wednesday, Grigory Birg of Investcafe told RT via email. The indicator lost 2.6% in October, with a further decline likely to have a negative impact on a share market.

Tuesday marked the first working day for Russian floors in 2013 after a 10–day pause for traditional New Year celebrations. Both the RTS and the MICEX had a good start to the year, rising 3.22% and 2.72% respectively. This is because the floors were winning back the news that the US has so far managed to escape the fiscal cliff.

In the early hours of 2013, US politicians finally agreed a deal on tax and spending, stipulating raising income tax for individuals making $400,000 and coupling earning $450,000 from 35% to 39.6%, as well as permanently extending Bush-era tax cuts for those earning less than $400,000 annually.

On top of that, the legislation proposes a one-year extension on unemployment insurance benefits, which are about to expire for 2 million people. The bill doesn’t include any cuts to entitlement programs such as social security or Medicare. It also does not tackle the issue of raising the debt ceiling from the current limit of $16.4 trillion, which the US is about to cross. At present, the US national debt stands at $16.438 trillion.

In the US, the stocks were in the red for the second consecutive day on Tuesday. That’s at a time when aluminum giant Alcoa opened a reporting season for corporate America with better-than-expected quarterly results. The company reported sales of $5.9 billion in Q4, above analysts' estimates of a drop to $5.6 billion. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq closed down between 0.2% and 0.4%, bouncing back from steeper declines ahead of the close.

European markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The CAC 40 gained 0.03%, while the DAX led the FTSE 100 lower. They fell 0.48% and 0.18% respectively.

Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday. The Nikkei 225 was up 0.89% while the Hang Seng gained 0.36% and the Shanghai Composite lost 0.03%.

Where have All the Profits Gone?




Mid September marked the fourth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, widely viewed as the final trigger of the global economic collapse, a shock that remains the dominant factor in global economic life. Friday, October 19 brought a dramatic drop in US equity values, caused, commentators speculate, by dismal reports of US corporate earnings. The most observant of these commentators did not fail to point out that Friday was also the twenty-fifth anniversary of the largest US one-day percentage drop in stock values. The fact that such an anniversary came to mind reflects a general and widespread fear that more economic turbulence is forthcoming.

The growing gloom overshadows the glowing September report of retail sales released earlier in the week. Despite stagnant or slipping incomes, the US consumer turned to the credit card to boost purchases at retail stores, online, and in restaurants. Signs of an improving housing market also fueled optimism.

Opinions change quickly. A week earlier---Tuesday, October 9---the International Monetary Fund released its World Economic Report. While raising fears of a global downturn, the report cut the probability of a US recession by nearly a quarter from its April forecast!

Taken together, the sentiments of the last two weeks demonstrate widespread confusion and uncertainty.

Big Problems, Little Ideas

Most of the conversation about the global economy, about capitalism, is shaped by ideological bias, academic dogma, distorted history and wishful thinking.

The global economy has never “recovered” from the shock of 2008. Nor does it teeter on the edge of another recession. In fact, it is fully in the grip of a profound systemic crisis, a crisis that has no certain conclusion. In this regard, the crisis is very much like its antecedent in the 1930s. The popular picture of The Great Depression as a massive collapse followed by the New Deal recovery is myth. Instead, like our current economic fortunes, it was like climbing a metaphorical grease pole— repeatedly advancing a few feet and then slipping down. Serious students of the Great Depression understand that its “solution” was World War II, with its state-driven, planned, military “socialism.”

Of course war itself is no solution, but the organized, collective, and social effort that capitalism only countenances for violence and aggressionis a solution. Similarly, the success of the People’s Republic of China in sidestepping the harsh edges of the 2008 collapse is due to the remaining features of socialism—public ownership of banks, state enterprises, and economic planning. Never mind that much of the PRC leadership hopes to jettison these features, the advantages are there for all to see. Yet few see.

Distorted history begets foolish theory. The two ideological poles that dominate economic discussion—classical liberalism and Keynesianism—both owe their claimed legitimacy to favored, but mistaken views of the source and solution to the Great Depression. While expressions of these poles are found across the political policy spectrum, classical liberalism—often called neo-liberalism—is generally associated with the political right. 

Political liberals and the left, on the other hand, often advocate for the analyses and prescriptions of the school associated with the views of John Maynard Keynes.

Since classical liberalism has been the dominant economic philosophy governing the global economy for many decades, common sense would dictate that, after four years of economic chaos and general immiseration, neo-liberalism would be in disrepute. But thanks to the tenacity of ruling elites and the profound dogmatism of their intellectual lackeys, the market fetish of neo-liberalism still reigns outside of Latin America and a few other outliers. 

But Keynesianism—broadly understood as central government intervention in markets—enjoys a growing advocacy, particularly with liberals, leftists, and, sadly, “Marxists.” Centrist Keynesians advocate intervention in markets from the supply side, most often through credit mechanisms and tax cuts that encourage investment and corporate confidence. Liberal and left interventionists argue for stimulating economic recovery and stability by generating consumption and expanding demand from government-funded projects or government-funded jobs.

The panic of 2008 turned most policy makers toward flirtation with supply-side intervention and generally meager demand-based stimulus, a fact that liberal Keynesians like Paul Krugman are fond of pointing out. Only China adopted a full-blown demand-oriented stimulus program. Yet that tact also brought a host of new contradictions in its wake.

Austerity versus Growth

Pundits like Krugman and politicians like Francois Hollande posture the theoretical divide as one between austerity and growth, a choice between rational growth stimulation and the irrationality of shrinking government spending to reduce debt. In an idealized classless world, this point would be well taken—austerity is an enemy of growth. However, it is naïve and misleading to fantasize such a world.

In our era of global capitalism, the idea of cutting government spending and lowering taxes makes all the sense in the world to the ownership class. The resultant transfer of value counts as a significant element in restoring profit growth and expanding accumulation. In a real sense, the popular and apt anti-austerity slogan-- “we will not pay for your crisis”-- tells only half the story. The other half should be “we will not pay for your recovery.”

In the end, it is profit that determines the success and failure of the capitalist system. Accumulation of economic surplus—the value remaining after the bills are paid--is the engine of capitalism, necessary for its motion and its trajectory. The dramatic drop in the Dow Jones industrial stock averages resulting from poor earnings this past Friday only underscores this point. Those who see consumption as the critical element in growth and recovery should recognize that this loss of momentum is independent of, as well as more decisive than, the September report of strong retail demand. 

The Tendency of the Falling Rate of Profit

The central role of profit, its growth and momentum in understanding capitalism and its recurrent structural crises has been overshadowed, even among most Marxists, by the infection of left thought with Keynes’ crisis theory. Theories of crisis that rest on underconsumption, overproduction, or imbalances reflect this infection and reduce political economy to the study of business cycles and avoidable and terminable economic hiccups—consumption can be expanded, production can be regulated, and balance can be restored. These are the assumptions of social democratic theory and what divides it from revolutionary Marxism.

Marx saw crisis as fundamentally embedded in capitalism’s structure. Processes in the capitalist mode of production unerringly bring on crises. And he locates the most basic of these processes is the mechanism of accumulation, a process that tends to restrain the growth of the rate of profit.

While it is good to see a rebirth of interest in and advocacy of Marx's law of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall, most of its worthy supporters remain needlessly confined to Marx’s expository formulae that serve well in revealing the anatomy of capitalism, but less so in exposing its disorders.

Yet the intuition behind Marx’s law is easily grasped. When unmediated by the encroachment of working class forces, the capitalists’ accumulation of surplus results in the extreme concentration of wealth, a concentration that reduces the opportunities to gather the expected return in the next and each successive cycle. Whether restrained by the physical limitations of workers, the potential length of the work day, diminished return on physical investment, rapacious competition, super-inflated investment reserves, or the myriad other possible forces or factors, the rate of profit is under constant and persistent duress.

Leading up to the 2007 economic slowdown that presaged the 2008 collapse, the enormous pool of capital available for profitable investment was acknowledged by all reporters. Its sheer volume alone depressed interest and profit rates in the face of limited productive investment opportunities. The desperate search for a rate of return drove investors toward riskier and riskier ventures that generated the financial collapse which has been well documented. It was the pressure on profits—an expression of the tendency—that drove the investor class to a lemming-like indulgence in arcane financial wizardry.

The neglect of Marx’s tendential law since the popularity of Keynes and underconsumption/overproduction crisis theories has retarded Marxist and Communist understanding of capitalist crisis while bolstering reformist policies within the Communist movement. Happily, there is a renewed interest in Marx’s law, though a full and satisfactory understanding of its application to and operation within contemporary capitalism is yet to be given.

At any rate, the decline of earnings now emerging in the latest financial news indicates that counter-crisis and counter-tendency measures are now exhausted in the US. Despite the euphoria of rising consumption spending and housing sales, the profit-driven engine of US capitalism is slowing, likely allowing the US economy to drift closer to the whirlpool already drowning the European economies.

Tough times are ahead, but a fertile period to plant the seeds of socialism. 

Zoltan Zigedy


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Andre Damon This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. The US Commerce Department said Friday that gross domestic product, the broadest...

Ukraine Prepares 250,000 Graves for Its Soldiers

Eric Zuesse On December 10th, the office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko drew up plans for a huge graveyard to accommodate 250,000 corpses for its...

No Economy For Americans

Paul Craig Roberts RINF Alternative News The Dow Jones stock average closed Friday at 17,137, despite the fact that the payroll jobs report was a measly...

The Seven Year Cycle Of Economic Crashes That Everyone Is Talking About

Michael Snyder RINF Alternative News Large numbers of people believe that an economic crash is coming next year based on a seven year cycle of economic...

New stock market crash, a pattern?

By Wim Grommen Mr. Grommen was a teacher in mathematics and physics for eight years at secondary schools. The last 15 years he studied transitions,...

US markets in biggest fall for six months

Nick Beams World stock markets will be a focus of attention this week following significant falls on Wall Street last week. The question increasingly being...

Fox owner Murdoch wants to buy CNN parent company too

The media empire administered by billionaire Rupert Murdoch would have grown exponentially had Time Warner Inc. accepted an impressive offer last month to be...

US economic output tumbled by 2.9 percent in the first quarter

Andre Damon The US economy contracted at a 2.9 percent annual rate in the first three months of this year, the sharpest quarterly fall in...

US economic growth grinds to a halt in first quarter

Andre Damon RINF Alternative News The US economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.1 percent in the first quarter of this year, according...

The U.S. Dollar: Currency Masquerading as Money

Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD People consider Federal Reserve notes, U.S. dollars, to be real money. This includes their digital equivalent in bank and credit...

This Is No Recovery, This Is a Bubble — And It Will Burst

Ha-Joon Chang  RINF Alternative News According to the stock market, the UK economy is in a boom. Not just any old boom, but a historic one....

US Fed Chair Janet Yellen reassures Wall Street on easy money policy

Andre Damon  RINF Alternative News US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reassured Wall Street in her first congressional testimony Tuesday that the Fed would continue its...

Why is the Federal Reserve Tapering the Gold Market?

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts and David Kranzler  RINF Alternative News In former times, the rise in the gold price was held down by central banks selling gold or...

Why is the Fed tapering?

Why is the Fed tapering? Paul Craig Roberts and Dave Kranzler On January 17, 2014, we explained “The Hows and Whys of Gold Price Manipulation.” http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/01/17/hows-whys-gold-price-manipulation/ In former times, the rise in the gold price was held down by central…

The post Why is the Fed tapering? appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Is This the Big One? The New Wave of Financial Instability

Mike Whitney  RINF Alternative News Global stocks were hammered on Friday for a second straight day on news of a slowdown in China and turbulence in...

Now, More Than Ever, Time to Audit the Fed

QE3 or no QE3? For the past year – and especially over the past several months – central bankers, mortgage bankers, financial analysts, business...

Now, More Than Ever, Time to Audit the Fed

QE3 or no QE3? For the past year – and especially over the past several months – central bankers, mortgage bankers, financial analysts, business...

Snyder: “There Is Intense Competition For Virtually All Kinds Of Jobs”

(Pictured: Thousands await their turn at a New York City job fair. Scenes like this are common across the entire country, where job applicants...

Employment Recovery? 1,600 Workers Apply For Just 36 Jobs At An Ice Cream Plant...

Michael SnyderEconomic CollapseJanuary 8, 2014 The stock market may be soaring to unprecedented heights, but things...

Senate confirms Janet Yellen as Fed Chair

Move signifies continued free money...

Wall Street Sings While Americans Sob: Happy New Year One and All

(Photo: Zoonabar/ cc via Flickr)Bankers on Wall Street rang in the final hours of 2013 with gains unseen in almost twenty years. However, for...

The 1% laughs last, as WS wins again

Five years after wrecking our economy, the big banks are back. Here's why we need real government regulations. September 15 marked five years since the...

A Cruel Christmas Gift: Jobless Benefits Cut Off for 1.3 Million Americans

Extended unemployment benefits will end today for 1.3 million Americans, just three days after Christmas. The cruel cutoff of income for the long-term jobless...

Let Them Eat Feral Creatures!

Marie Antoinette, the legendary French queen, upon learning that the peasants were starving for lack of bread, supposedly declared, “Let them eat cake.” ...

Let Them Eat Feral Creatures!

Marie Antoinette, the legendary French queen, upon learning that the peasants were starving for lack of bread, supposedly declared, “Let them eat cake.” ...

Manipulations Rule The Markets – Paul Craig Roberts

Manipulations Rule The Markets Paul Craig Roberts The Federal Reserve’s announcement on December 18 that beginning in January its monthly purchases of mortgage-backed financial instruments and US Treasury bonds would each be cut by $5 billion is puzzling, as is the financial press’s account of the market’s response. The Federal Reserve conveys a contradictory message.…

The post Manipulations Rule The Markets — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Age of Crushing Anxiety: How the Bottom Fell Out in America

How economic security was destroyed.

Did Someone Say “Crash”?

Guess who's investing in America's future? Nobody, that's who. Just check out this excerpt from an article by Rex Nutting at Marketwatch and you'll see what...

The Perfect Storm is Coming For Gold: “Economics Will Crush the Very People Who...

If you have been investing in gold and silver since the crash of global stock markets in 2008 or before, you've seen some pretty...

Is The Perfect Storm Coming For Gold?

Zero HedgeDecember 16, 2013 Due to western central bank price manipulation, the mining sector is in critical condition, the supply line is all but halted,...

Volcker rule gives free pass for Wall Street speculation

By Barry Grey13 December 2013 The so-called “Volcker rule,” adopted Tuesday by the main US bank regulatory agencies, is being hailed by the Obama...

The Occult On Wall Street: The Art Of Financial Astrology

The Telegraph claims that a surprising number of mainstream investment bankers make decisions based on astrology. Can you envision this growing into a quasi-religious...

US stocks surge after jobs report

AFPDecember 6, 2013 US stocks surged Friday after a better-than-expected labor report showed solid job creation in November and boosted prospects that the Federal Reserve...

Stunning Chart: Today’s Stock Market is Eerily Reminiscent of 1929…

With the Holiday shopping season off to a slow start according to preliminary retail sales numbers and with the stock market sitting near all...

Stunnning Chart: Today’s Stock Market is Eerily Reminiscent of 1929…

With the Holiday shopping season off to a slow start according to preliminary retail sales numbers and with the stock market sitting near all...

The Stock Market Bubble

Wall Street is buzzing, and it's all about bubbles. In fact, according to Google Trends, interest in the term “stock bubble” was higher in...

Drop in holiday sales reflects US social crisis

By Andre Damon 3 December 2013 US retail sales over the Thanksgiving weekend dropped for the first time in seven years, reflecting the impact of falling...

U.S. stocks end lower, but post solid monthly gains

Victor Reklaitismarketwatch.comNovember 29, 2013 U.S. stocks closed mostly lower on Friday, pulling back from Wednesday's record levels, but still achieved gains for the week and...

The Real Black Friday

Black Friday shares its namesake with an event that occurred on Tuesday, October 29, 1929 Kurt Nimmo Black Friday opened with a predictable boom that resounded...

Thanksgiving in America — Shocking Poverty and New Records for the Stock Market

This year's Thanksgiving holiday, coming more than five years after the Wall Street crash, highlights the devastating impact of mass unemployment and budget cuts...

Thanksgiving in America

28 November 2013 This year's Thanksgiving holiday, coming more than five years after the Wall Street crash, highlights the devastating impact of mass unemployment...

Christmas Time on Wall Street

Remember how Quantitative Easing was going to “get the banks lending again”? Well, it hasn't worked that way. In fact, after 4 years of zero...

Iran deal boosts US stocks futures

The gains for US stock futures on Monday put the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 on route to continue their recent...

Why Chris Christie Is Edging Past Hillary Clinton for President

On November 13th, the Quinnipiac Poll bannered “Christie, Clinton Tied in 2016 White House Race. … Dems Lose 9-Point Edge to Tie GOP in...

Stocks Drop With Treasuries, Gold as Fed Discusses Taper, EU Bank Mulls Negative Deposit...

Bloomberg November 20, 2013 The Standard & Poor's 500 Index headed for its first three-day slump since September and Treasuries slid as the Federal Reserve indicated...

Nominee to head US Federal Reserve reassures Wall Street in Senate testimony

By Andre Damon15 November 2013 Janet Yellen, President Obama's nominee to replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board early next year,...

The Slacker Torturer

A report released last Monday indicating that U.S. military doctors designed, enabled and engaged in the torture of detainees during both the Bush and...

Economic Coup d’Etat: Debt and Deficit as Shock Therapy

When Naomi Klein published her ground-breaking book The Shock Doctrine (2007), which compellingly demonstrated how neoliberal policy makers take advantage of overwhelming crisis times...

Debt and Deficit as Shock Therapy

When Naomi Klein published her ground-breaking book The Shock Doctrine (2007), which compellingly demonstrated how neoliberal policy makers take advantage of overwhelming crisis times...

RINFORMATION

USA Topics 9/11 Agenda 21 Assassinations Banks Bush, George Jr Boston Bombings Bohemian Grove CIA Cointelpro Corruption DARPA Democrats Disinformation Congress Drones Eugenics FBI Federal Reserve Guantanamo HAARP ...

Top ten American CEOs take home over $100 million each

By Andre Damon24 October 2013 The top ten highest-paid CEOs in the United States each received $100 million in 2012, according to a survey...

Wall Street cheers weak jobs report

Stocks climbed on Wall Street Tuesday following a weaker than expected jobs report. The Wall Street cheers a weaker than expected jobs report as renewed...

“Reopening the Federal Government”: Debt Default Deal Sets the Stage for Intensified Assault on...

The bill passed by Congress late Wednesday reopening the federal government and temporarily lifting the debt ceiling establishes the modus operandi for a bipartisan...

Debt Ceiling Impasse in the US Senate. Stripping US Bonds of their AAA Rating?...

Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, leaders of the Democratic majority and Republican minority in the US Senate, restarted negotiations late Tuesday with the...

US stumbles closer to debt default

Congress has stumbled closer to the precipice of US default as House Republicans withdrew their latest bill to raise the debt ceiling and reopen...

US stocks fall as debt deadline looms

US stock index futures sank on Monday.US stock index futures fell on Monday after the last ongoing talks to avert US default broke up...

US stocks fall as debt deadline looms

US stock index futures sank on Monday.US stock index futures fell on Monday after the last ongoing talks to avert US default broke up...

The United States of Inequality

The United States of Inequality by Stephen Lendman Shutting down government irresponsibly doesn't work. Nor does money printing madness for the wrong reasons. Former Reagan administration Office...

The United States of Inequality

The United States of Inequalityby Stephen LendmanShutting down government irresponsibly doesn't work. Nor does money printing madness for the wrong reasons. Former Reagan administration Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman calls...

Stocks sink as D.C. budget paralysis continues

AFPOct. 8, 2013 US stocks, led by the tech-rich Nasdaq, tumbled Tuesday as a Washington budget...

A Reprieve From Climate Doom

When I first saw the September 17 Wall Street Journal headline, “A Reprieve from Climate Doom: A forthcoming report dials back the alarm on...

Debt doomsayer: Treasury forecasts ‘back to 2008 recession or worse’ if US defaults

The US government default caused by the ongoing budget standoff in the Congress could have a "catastrophic” effect on the country's economy, which would...

US stocks suffer broad losses

A specialist looks at a screen at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013.Stocks fell broadly...

Congressional Republicans Violate Their Oath of Office

Like “Git 'er done,” Americans should be yelling at Republicans in Congress: “Do yer job!” That's because Republicans are shirking their sworn duty by...

US stock markets drop sharply

US stocks drop amid fears of govt. shutdown Monitors above the S&P 100 Stock Index Options (OEX) pit at the Chicago Board Options Exchange...

Quantitative Easing Announcement Triggers Buying Frenzy: Bernanke’s Head Fake Sends Stocks Soaring

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke shocked the world on September 18 when he announced there would be no change in the Fed's $85 billion-per-month...

Bad Government Policy Has Created the Worst Inequality On Record … And It’s Destroying...

It's Not an Accident … It's Policy America is experiencing unprecedented inequality. And a who's who of prominent economists (and investors) say that inequality is...

Crushing the Middle Class

The Federal Reserve presently lends money at a lower rate than anytime in history. In fact, the rate at which the Fed lends money...

Fed “taper” decision points to deepening financial crisis

23 September 2013 ...

Market anxieties turn to debt ceiling

How Congress and President Barack Obama deal with the debt ceiling is likely to determine market volatility for the rest of the year. Now that...

Quantitative Easing Worked For The Weimar Republic For A Little While Too

There is a reason why every fiat currency in the history of the world has eventually failed. At some point, those issuing fiat...

Bernanke head fake pushes stocks up

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke shocked the world on Wednesday when he announced there would be no change in the Fed™s $85 billion-per-month asset purchase...

Bernanke’s Head Fake Sends Stocks Soaring

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke shocked the world on Wednesday when he announced there would be no change in the Fed's $85 billion-per-month asset purchase...

Wall Street celebrates Fed decision to maintain pace of money-printing

Dow, S&P hit record highs ...

Is The Fed Ready To Cut America’s Fiat Life Support?

It is undeniable that America is thoroughly addicted to fiat stimulus. Every aspect of our economy, from stocks, to bonds, to banks, and by...

Syria the final push for WWIII

Syria the final push for WWIII As you all know I have stopped writing articles in my blog in order to focus on more important work in joining a team of very dedicated people who want to rid this world of the New World Order and its associated scum. I am also working on a […]

US stocks fall as drums of war beaten

US stocks declined on Friday after US Secretary of State John Kerry outlined Washingtonâ„¢s case for taking military action against Syria. In a nationally televised...

Jackson Hole Conclave: Central Bankers Plan Global Theft, Massive Pain

The annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this past week (August 22-24), sponsored by the Federal Reserve, elicited a collective yawn...

European stocks fall over Syria tension

European stocks have fallen sharply amid the escalating rhetoric of war against Syria over allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. On Tuesday,...

US stocks sink on Syria, debt limit

Worries of a US-led military intervention in Syria sent US stocks lower on opening Tuesday. The reaction came after US Secretary of State John...

Stocks and Bonds Are Plunging

Kaitlyn Kiernan and Min ZengWall Street JournalAugust 15, 2013 Stock and bond prices tumbled after stronger-than-expected...

BlackBerry, Vical, Steinway, Alliance One, Zoltek

online.wsj.comAugust 12, 2013 U.S. stocks traded mixed Monday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average recently lost...

Dr. Doom Warns Of Major Market Crash This Fall: “20 Percent, Maybe More”

He made the crash call ahead of the 2008 crash, and predicted the market turn-around in 2009 to the...

Dismal jobs report exposes claims of US recovery

  As Dow hits new record ...

Get Ready For The Next Great Stock Market Exodus

In the years 2006 and 2007, the underlying stability of the global economy and the U.S. credit base in particular was experiencing intense scrutiny...

Bernanke’s 180

Well, that didn’t take long, did it? It’s been less than a month since tough-talking Ben Bernanke threatened to pull the rug out from under...

Why Stocks Rise on Bad News

Now there’s something you don’t see every day. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that the world’s biggest economy grew at a...

Dr. Doom: “A Lot Of Problems Are Coming… Revolution… Social Strife…”

Mac SlavoSHTFPlan.comJune 25, 2013 Famed economist and investment guru Dr. Marc Faber of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report weighs...

Markets Tumble After Fed Chair Bernanke Predicts the End of Quantitative Easing

Stock and commodities markets went into a two-day slide after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that the United States would end so-called “quantitative...

Dr. Doom: “A Lot Of Problems Are Coming… Revolution… Social Strife…”

Famed economist and investment guru Dr. Marc Faber of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report weighs in on global happenings. He predicted the collapse of...

Dr. Doom: “A Lot Of Problems Are Coming… Revolution… Social Strife…”

Famed economist and investment guru Dr. Marc Faber of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report weighs in on global happenings. He predicted the collapse of...

Markets Tumble After Fed Chair Bernanke Predicts the End of Quantitative Easing

Stock and commodities markets went into a two-day slide after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that the United States would end so-called “quantitative...

The Big Plunge

Normally, stocks don’t fall off a cliff unless the economic data suddenly turns south or there are signs of an emerging crisis, like a...

Price of Gold Plunged, Panic Deepens on World Financial Markets

Global stocks plunged Thursday in the biggest one-day sell-off so far this year, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the US central bank...

Panic deepens on world financial markets

  By ...

Global markets fall on news from Fed

A US trader checks a screen in a booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on June 20, 2013.Global markets have...

Stocks Slide as Bernanke Announces More QE Infinity

JeeYeon Parkcnbc.comJune 19, 2013 Stocks accelerated their selloff in the final hour of trading to end...

Market Buzz: US Fed’s policy meeting to set course

Russian floors opened Monday with gains on mixed sentiment on the foreign markets and anticipation of signals from the US. ...

Market Buzz: Rebound on US news

On Thursday most global stocks stepped into the bear market territory. Selloffs are likely to continue on Friday, however much will depend on the...

Market Buzz: Falls on negative economic news backdrop

Russian floors started off Tuesday lower on negative international outlook. A lower close on Wall Street, falling oil and weaker performance in Asia influenced...

S&P raises U.S. credit outlook from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’

Robert SchroederMarketWatchJune 10, 2013 Citing the strength of the U.S. economy and the dollar’s standing in...

The Collapse of the Hourly Wage

“If we care about building a fast growing economy that provides opportunity for every American, then we must enact policies that build it from...

Market Buzz: World stocks rally following upbeat data from US

Russian floors started off Monday trading higher, following gains on Wall Street on Friday after the government released better-than-expected jobs data. ...

Market Buzz: Investors look to US for end-of-week updates

Russian stocks opened Friday in positive territory in anticipation of a batch of important data from the US as the week comes to a...

Global Stock Sell-off amidst Signs of Deepening Slump

Global stock markets plunged Wednesday following the release of negative economic indicators pointing to a deepening slump in the United States, Europe and Asia...

Market Buzz: Pessimism prevails as key economies disappoint

Russian stocks are expected to trade lower on Thursday due to negative sentiments on major floors worldwide, including weak data on US private jobs...

Slowing Economy Confirmed

A report on the U.S. job market from Automatic Data Processing (ADP) on Wednesday morning surprised economists once again by coming in substantially below...

Slowing Economy Confirmed

A report on the U.S. job market from Automatic Data Processing (ADP) on Wednesday morning surprised economists once again by coming in substantially below...

Market Buzz: Investors look to EU and US for drivers

Following losses on US floors and negative sentiment in Asia, Russian stocks started off Wednesday in the red. Later in the day, investors will...

Market Buzz: Concerns escalate over slow China growth, US mfg data

Russian stocks started off Tuesday in positive territory following a high close on Wall Street. ...

Manufacturing Discourse

The following article is the second and final installment of an investigative report that demonstrates why billions of dollars are pumped by corporate interests...

Computers can't hear you scream when stocks collapse

<!--Max Keiser-->Max Keiser, the host of RT's ‘Keiser Report,’ is a former stockbroker, the inventor of virtual specialist technology and co-founder of the Hollywood...

Computers can't hear you scream when stocks collapse

<!--Max Keiser-->Max Keiser, the host of RT's ‘Keiser Report,’ is a former stockbroker, the inventor of virtual specialist technology and co-founder of the Hollywood...

Market Buzz: Starting summer lower

Russian stocks start the week lower, on a moderately negative international outlook. Investors will be looking at the US for drivers in the second...

Market Buzz: Starting summer lower

Russian stocks start the week lower, on a moderately negative international outlook. Investors will be looking at the US for drivers in the second...

Truthdigger of the Week: Jeremy Hammond

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/truthdigger_of_the_week_jeremy_hammond_20130601/ Posted on Jun 1, 2013 ...

Market Buzz: Slow start awaiting numbers, gains to follow

Investors around the world are set to receive abundant statistics on which to reflect on Friday, but Russian stocks are expected to show slow...

Market Buzz: Focus on global growth, US Fed plans

On Thursday analysts expect Russian floors to open with moderate gains as buybacks of the biggest Wednesday losers occur. However with negative international sentiment...

Market Buzz: Focus on global growth, US Fed plans

On Thursday analysts expect Russian floors to open with moderate gains as buybacks of the biggest Wednesday losers occur. However with negative international sentiment...

Market Buzz: Cheered by resumed trade in US and UK

Waiting for the macroeconomic news to follow later on Wednesday from the West, Russian floors have opened neutrally, slightly up. ...

The Public Pillorying of Apple for Legally Reducing Tax Burden

Last week’s show trial of Apple Computer on Capitol Hill ended up being more of an indictment of the Republican Party than of allegedly...

The Public Pillorying of Apple for Legally Reducing Tax Burden

Last week’s show trial of Apple Computer on Capitol Hill ended up being more of an indictment of the Republican Party than of allegedly...

Market Buzz: No movement as US, UK floors closed for holiday

Last week’s losses on Russian floors are expected to continue on Monday. Still, Russian stocks opened higher despite the neutral international outlook and lack...

Market Buzz: Panic cooling as week ends

Investors expect Russian stocks to bounce back slightly on Friday, with floors opening the day in the black. ...

Is America’s Economy Being Sovietized?

The foundation of the Soviet model of trade and investment was centralization under the guise of “universal public ownership”. The entire goal of communism...

Is America’s Economy Being Sovietized?

Brandon SmithAlt MarketMay 22, 2013 The foundation of the Soviet model of trade and investment was...

Market Buzz: World waiting to see if US Fed will end stimulus

Russian floors started off Wednesday’s session in the black following positive performance on Wall Street. Investors expect upward momentum to prevail during the day,...

7 Things About The Mainstream Media That They Do Not Want You To Know

Have you ever wondered who controls the mainstream media? In America today, we are more “connected” than ever.

Market Buzz: Little news, little change

Russian floors opened mixed on Tuesday on a relatively neutral international outlook. Investors expect no big macroeconomic news on May 21, and stocks will...

Financial bubbles creating conditions for new crash

  21 May 2013 ...

Market Buzz: American consumerism drives Euro and Asian floors

Positive US consumer data drove up European stocks, while Asian shares almost reached a five-year high and the yen made a marked comeback. ...

Market Buzz: Crude recovery could bump Russian floors

Russian stocks continued their slump, falling a fifth consecutive day as crude oil declined. The rouble strengthened against the dollar, closing at 31.34, and...

Market Buzz: Japan’s GDP wows and gold hits 9-yr low

Despite other emerging markets performing well, Russian markets hit their lowest close in two weeks. Rosneft fell and the ruble weakened against the dollar...

Market Buzz: Japan’s GDP wows and gold hits 9-yr low

Despite other emerging markets performing well, Russian markets hit their lowest close in two weeks. Rosneft fell and the ruble weakened against the dollar...

Market Buzz: Record low yen and record high Nikkei to dictate floors

Russian markets declined for the fourth day in New York as oil slid and the Finance Ministry announced the Kremlin is considering a plan...

Market Buzz: Awaiting US import and eurozone industrial data

Russian markets declined the most in two weeks as crude oil, which accounts for about half of export revenue, retreated on decreased output. The MICEX...

Market Buzz: Chinese macro data to drive floors

With little news expected from Europe and the US on Monday, macroeconomic data from China is expected to be the main driver of global...

50 Years of No Real Economic Progress

by Bill BonnerBill Bonner's Diary Recently by Bill Bonner: The End of the Road Public life bumbles along under a combination of false pretenses...

Revealed: Why Bankers Continue To Get Away With Fraud

Speaking on BCFM Drive Time with host Tony Gosling, the former financial editor of the Scottish Sunday Herald, Ian Fraser, revealed how senior bankers avoid prosecution while getting away with committing fraud on a massive scale for decades.

2007 Deja Vu As Goldman Sees $150 Oil By The Summer

While Brent closed 2012 at around its average closing price for the year, suggesting some stability, rolling a front-month contract garnered returns over 10% underscoring Jeff Currie's (Goldman's chief commodity strategist) note that money can still b...

US bails out Citigroup and prepares to give trillions more to banks

By Barry Grey | The government bailout of Citigroup marks a new stage in the utilization of the public treasury to rescue Wall Street...

Lendman: The Wages of Sin

By Stephen Lendman - RINF | “Reaping the whirlwind” for money manager and market strategist Jeremy Grantham in his latest no-nonsense commentary. Worlds different...

The Election-Industrial Complex

By Walter Smolarek | As the seemingly endless period of political campaigning in the United States will soon draw to a close, we on the...

The October Surprise: Global Panic

By Stephen Lendman - RINF | Since 9/11, the notion of an October surprise has been around. The idea going something like this. Another...

Banks dictate conditions of US financial bailout

By Alex Lantier | The 936 point rise on the US stock market yesterday was the American ruling elite’s initial verdict on the extraordinarily...

The Wall Street crisis and the failure of American capitalism

By Barry Grey | The end of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, two of the largest Wall Street investment banks, one week after the...

Murdoch accused as top US editor resigns

By Andrew Clark - The Guardian | Four months after buying the Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch has been accused by a special independent committee of...

Lies, Damn Lies and the Murdock Empire

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News For Big Media, truth is a scare commodity and in times of war it's the first casualty, or as esteemed...

Current financial crisis was topic of Bilderberg 2006

The current financial crisis that has happened due to the Sub prime mortgage crisis was a main topic at Bilderberg 2006 in Ottowa. The green...

Ian Brown – Illegal Attacks

(Feat. Sinead O'connor) So what the fuck is this UK Gunnin’ with this US of A In Iraq and Iran and in Afghanistan Does...

How Far Will the Crash Go and What Do we Do Now?

The “Crash of 2007-8” is underway By Richard C. Cook The immediate triggers are being described quite well: the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market;...

Trump calls for suspension of NFL player who stood for Mexican, but not US,...

US President Donald Trump has called for the NFL to suspend Marshawn Lynch. The Oakland Raiders...

Who they are, what they did & their bids for parole — RT US...

In the 1960s, infamous cult leader Charles Manson had established such a hold over his drug-fueled...

Cult survivor recalls brainwashing, blackmail & mass suicide (AUDIO) — RT US News

Sprung from a church in 1950s Indiana, the People’s Temple was hailed by its charismatic founder...

Participants in 2014 Ukrainian coup confess

Eric Zuesse The overthrow of the democratically elected President of Ukraine in February 2014 was one of the most important geostrategic occurrences during the past...

Sacked Welsh Labour minister Carl Sargeant died by hanging — RT UK News

Published time: 13 Nov, 2017 15:36 An inquest into the death of the Welsh Assembly...

Why Robert Mueller Was Selected to Be the Special Prosecutor

Eric Zuesse It all began with the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers apartment complex in the Saudi city of Khobar, which killed 19 U.S....

What have sleazy MPs been accused of in Westminster ‘sex pest’ scandal? — RT...

The Westminster ‘sex pest’ scandal will “clear out” sleazy behavior in Westminster, Home Secretary Amber...

Moore Accuser a Democrat Activist

NBC News’ Breezy Whitewash of White Supremacist Group

by Adam Johnson Screengrab from NBC profile (11/2/17) of the racist, misogynist Proud Boys organization. As FAIR noted last year, the rise of Trump has lead...

The Year Since Trump’s Election, as Explained by Bad Pizza

(Photo: Raja Sambasivan) I would like to take a moment, here on this calamitous anniversary, to contemplate the political and cultural impact of bad pizza...