Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Is North Korea Showing the Emperor is Naked?


by Pepe Escobar, Sputnik News:

Amid the thick fog of (rhetorical) war between Washington and Pyongyang, it’s still possible to detect some fascinating writing on the (unbuilt) wall.

A case can be made that President Trump is using North Korea to kick the 24/7 Russia-gate narrative out of the US news cycle. It’s certainly working. After all, in Exceptionalistan weltanschauung, the prospect of war and its possible rewards certainly trumps hazy accusations of Russian hacking and election interference.

Capitol Hill would never even consider an attempt to impeach a president — on top if it surrounded by generals — while American geopolitical primacy is in danger. Besides, Congress has already made it explicit Trump does not even need permission to bomb North Korea.

So, according to this working hypothesis, if Robert Mueller finds anything seriously damaging to the Trump brand, the president might actually consider a bomb North Korea/wag the dog operation.

Meanwhile, anybody paying attention to what Edward Snowden has disclosed in detail knows hackers of all persuasions are fine tuned to all Mueller-related IT systems and cell phone communications. They will know what Team Mueller has managed to find on Trump in real time — and plan their contingencies accordingly.

As for the rhetorical war itself, a US intel source used to thinking outside the Beltway box points to the crucial variable, South Korea; “South Korea will not maintain its alliance with the US the day they believe that the US will attack North Korea to protect itself at the expense of the death of thirty million people in South Korea. South Korea is in secret talks with China for a major security treaty because of the US position that they will bomb North Korea in their own defense irrespective of the destruction of South Korea which the US would regard as most unfortunate.”

Don’t expect to read about these secret Beijing-Seoul talks on Western corporate media. And that’s only part of the equation. The source adds, “there are secret talks between Germany and Russia over the US joint sanctions against those two nations and a realignment of the German position back to the Bismarckian Ostpolitik of a new Reinsurance Treaty with Russia.”

Assuming these secret negotiations bear fruit, the consequences will be nothing short of cataclysmic; “The European and Asian security systems of the United States may be about to collapse due to the turmoil in Washington which is unhinging all of the United States alliances. As Congress undermines Donald Trump, the United States is presently jeopardizing all its major strategic relationships.”

Seoul Framed as “Collateral Damage”

Meanwhile, serious questions remain over North Korea’s true military capabilities. As an independent Asia intel source familiar with the Korean peninsula observes, “submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) as well as land-based nuclear missiles are available on the black market, so North Korea would have no trouble acquiring them. North Korea knows that if they do not have a nuclear deterrent capacity they could be subject to a similar destruction that occurred with Iraq and Libya. In addition, the irresponsible threats against North Korea by [US Secretary of State] Tillerson, who should retire to his fishing haunts, could do grave damage to the US, for if North Korea believes the US will strike they will not wait as Saddam Hussein, having learned their lesson from that, but they will strike first.”

So the real issue, once again, is whether Pyongyang already is in possession of SLBMs as well as land-based nuclear capacity, acquired through the black market. The Asia intel source adds, “North Korea presently has twenty Romeo class submarines which, according to Heritage expert Bruce Klingner, have the capacity to carry nuclear SLBMs. These Romeo class submarines have a range of 9,000 miles and the distance from Pyongyang to New York City is 6,783 miles. These submarines could be refueled, for instance, in Cuba, Therefore, it is not inconceivable to find a North Korean submarine offshore New York City equipped with a ballistic nuclear missile in a showdown at the O.K. Corral with Washington D.C.”

US Think Tankland is developing a creepy consensus when it comes to North Korea. Every analyst worth his paycheck knows that North Korea’s nuclear program sites are widely dispersed and ultra-reinforced; everyone also knows that devastating North Korea artillery is concentrated near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) within striking distance of Seoul. Still, this is all being spun as part of an aseptic narrative where the US is “extremely reluctant” to bomb.

It’s obviously hard for CIA types to publicly acknowledge that Pyongyang is — successfully — creating the framework for a new brand of negotiation with the US as well as with South Korea, China and Russia. Any rational, non-Dr. Strangelove intellect knows there is no military solution to this drama. North Korea is already a de facto nuclear power — and diplomacy will have to take it into account.

Neocon/neoliberalcon War Party/CIA types though bet on — what else — war. And fast — before the much-hyped point of no return when Pyongyang acquires a deliverable nuclear weapon. That’s where, predictably, most factions of the deep state converge with Trump. And that’s the stuff of all sorts of chilling scenarios, pointing once again to Washington having no qualms sacrificing its South Korean “ally”.

Read More @ SputnikNews.com

Gold is being recognized as money again by Central Banks

by Alex Deluce, Gold Telegraph:

Central banks seem to be in the news a lot. But does anyone actually know what their function is? Central banks control money, pure and simple. They determine a country’s money reserves (the amount of currency regular banks keep in their vaults), interest rates, and they print money, which invariably affects the rate of inflation. Every time you make a loan payment, the central bank has determined the interest.

Not All Hard Assets Are Created Equal – Jeff Nielson

by Jeff Nielson, Sprott Money:

A familiar refrain in many previous commentaries is that fiat currencies – especially Western fiat currencies – are fundamentally worthless . These currencies are backed by nothing, the definition of a fiat currency.

Typically, these currencies have been borrowed into existence. This makes such notes de facto IOU’s of our governments. However, Western governments are bankrupt. Their currency IOU’s are just as void of value as their bonds. Compounding this fundamental worthlessness, these Western currencies (especially the U.S. dollar) have been conjured into existence in unprecedented quantities in recent years.

Denominated in these worthless currencies, the “price” of any hard asset is effectively infinite. Why have the exchange rates of these various forms of worthless paper not already priced in this worthlessness?

There is a general answer and a specific to this question. The general answer goes as follows. The plunge of a currency to worthlessness is almost always “a confidence event”. What does this mean?

It means that such fiat currencies almost always become worthless from a fundamental perspective well before the official exchange rate descends to zero. The reason for this is quite simple.

A currency that has been in use for a significant period of time acquires the faith of the population that uses it. Few members of any population have the economic savvy to understand when a currency has become worthless from a monetary standpoint. Thus there is a honeymoon period.

A currency continues to have a relatively normal exchange rate even after it is fundamentally worthless because it still enjoys the confidence of that population. At some point (generally when the currency becomes even more extremely diluted), the population realizes that their currency has been debauched.

The paper loses the confidence of that population, and the descent in the exchange rate to near-zero quickly follows. We are currently in this “honeymoon period” with Western fiat currencies. They are fundamentally worthless, but very few people are aware of this.

There is also a second, specific reason why these various forms of worthless paper have not already begun their final death-spiral. The banking crime syndicate, better known as the One Bank , uses this paper to fund its criminal operations.

It has a very, very strong motive to delay this final death spiral. It has two powerful tools that it uses to extend this delay: propaganda and currency manipulation .

The propaganda is as constant as it is absurd. The central bankers (and their media lackeys) pretend there is no connection between the increase in supply of these currencies and the decrease in their value – the basic fundamentals of supply and demand.

In the fantasy world of Western central banks, the concept of dilution essentially does not exist. The laughable propaganda goes as follows.

With their reckless money-printing, these central bank charlatans are “trying” to create inflation (i.e. reduce the value of these currencies) but supposedly failing to do so. It’s the equivalent of a magical lemonade stand, where no matter how much water is added to the lemonade it cannot be diluted – it remains as strong as ever.

The other tool that the banking crime syndicate uses to delay the end of, in particular, the U.S. dollar is currency manipulation. The Big Bank tentacles of the One Bank have been criminally convicted of manipulating all of the world’s currencies.

With a potent propaganda machine, near-omnipotence in manipulating markets, and no meaningful law enforcement, the One Bank has added extra years to the life of its fraudulent fiat currencies. But their days are numbered.

What then?

All hard assets would have an effective “price” of infinity denominated in the various forms of this worthless paper. In that scenario, readers have asked: why should they be giving preference (now) to holding gold and silver?

It is because all of these hard assets are not equal. They are not equal in absolute value. Perhaps more importantly, as the bankers have manipulated most of our markets, prices have become severely skewed. The relative value of various hard assets has become even more unequal.

In terms of absolute value, gold and silver are “precious” metals. Silver, in fact, is even more aesthetically brilliant than gold. This means that when the fiat paper goes to zero, these are assets which (historically) are always valued highly.

However, the real reason why people should gravitate towards these assets is relative value. Many readers know that in monetary terms, gold and silver are “canaries in the coal mine”. They are supposed to alert us to precisely the sort of currency debauchment that has swept the Western world.

As a further means of delaying the end of this fraudulent paper, the One Bank has made the price suppression of precious metals one of its overriding obsessions. The price of gold has been held to a small fraction of its real value in order to make the bankers’ fiat paper appear to have retained its worth.

The price of silver has been suppressed even more ruthlessly. In real dollars, it was driven to a 600-year low, and has effectively remained at that level. Compare the relative value of these hard assets with real estate.

Year after year of near-zero interest rates has fueled real estate bubbles of unprecedented proportions across major urban centers. In relative terms, real estate has never been more expensive. Real estate is theworst place to attempt to shelter our wealth as we flee the bankers’ paper currencies.

Various other classes of hard assets fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Almost all commodities are at relatively depressed levels. Soaring commodity prices are a secondary warning of imminent hyperinflation, so the bankers have suppressed most commodity markets.

This may confuse the issue in the minds of some. If all commodities are suppressed, then any commodity becomes a suitable haven for our wealth as we flee fiat currencies. Not so.

Read More @ SprottMoney.com

Rob Kirby – Precious Metals Price Suppression Continues

by Kerry Lutz, Financial Survival Network:

Rob Kirby returns… While the powers that be’s control over gold and silver has diminished they still manage to exert undue influence over the market. Gold hit $1550 and silver was heading towards $20. This state of affairs could not be allowed to continue. On a given day da Boyz still have the power to bring the market down. But the affects are only limited, lasting for just a few days. The canary in the coal mine has come back to life. And that’s a good thing.

Click HERE to Listen

Evidence That The U.S. Economy Could Be Plunging Into A Very Deep Recession Is Rapidly Mounting

by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:

Not since 2008 have we seen so much bad economic data come rolling in all at the same time.  Even without a war with Iran, which by the way is looking increasingly likely with each passing day, it definitely appears that the U.S. economy is steamrolling toward recession territory.  The employment numbers for last month were abysmal, global trade has collapsed to the lowest level that we have seen since the last recession, and manufacturing numbers just keep getting worse and worse.  In fact, the New York Fed’s Empire State manufacturing index just suffered the worst one month decline in history

Fed’s Janet Yellen: Stock Market Bubble Not Seen as Major Risk Factor

by Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Wall St On Parade:

The outgoing Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, held her last press conference yesterday following the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to hike the Feds Fund rate by one-quarter percentage point, bringing its target range to 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 percent.

Given the growing reports from market watchers that the stock market has entered the bubble stage and could pose a serious threat to the health of the economy should the bubble burst, CNBC’s Steve Liesman asked Yellen during the press conference if there are “concerns at the Fed about current market valuations.”

Yellen gave a response which may doom her from a respected place in history. She stated:

“So let me start Steve with the stock market generally. Of course the stock market has gone up a great deal this year and we have in recent months characterized the general level of asset valuations as elevated. What that reflects is simply the assessment that looking at price-earnings ratios and comparable metrics for other assets other than equities we see ratios that are in the high end of historical ranges. And so that’s worth pointing out.

“But economists are not great at knowing what appropriate valuations are. We don’t have a terrific record. And the fact that those valuations are high doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily overvalued.

“We are in a – I’ve mentioned this in my opening statement and we’ve talked about this repeatedly – likely a low interest rate environment, lower than we’ve had in past decades. If that turns out to be the case, that’s a factor that supports higher valuations.

“We’re enjoying solid economic growth with low inflation and the risks in the global economy look more balanced than they have in many years.

“So I think what we need to, and are trying to think through, is if there were an adjustment in asset valuations in the stock market, what impact would that have on the economy and would it provoke financial stability concerns.

“And, I think when we look at other indicators of financial stability risks, there’s nothing flashing red there or possibly even orange.

“We have a much more resilient, stronger banking system and we’re not seeing worrisome buildup in leverage or credit growth at excessive levels. So, this is something that the FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] pays attention to, but if you ask me is this a significant factor shaping monetary policy now, while it’s on the list of risks it’s not a major factor.”

Yellen makes at least one unassailable admission in this statement: her economist predecessors at the Fed certainly “don’t have a terrific record” in calling out bubbles – Alan Greenspan being the worst offender.

After presiding over the worst subprime mortgage and derivatives bubble in history on the belief that Wall Street was fully capable of policing itself, former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan had this to say at a House Oversight Committee hearing on October 23, 2008 after his blunder had helped usher in the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression:

“So the problem here is something which looked to be a very solid edifice. And, indeed, a critical pillar to market competition and free markets, did break down. And I think that, as I said, shocked me. I still do not fully understand why it happened and, obviously, to the extent that I figure out where it happened and why, I will change my views. If the facts change, I will change.”

In the same hearing, Henry Waxman, the Chair of the Committee, had no problem understanding “why it happened.” It was, plain and simple, regulatory capture. Waxman explained:

“In each case, corporate excess and greed enriched company executives at enormous cost to shareholders and our economy. In each case, these abuses could have been prevented if Federal regulators had paid more attention and intervened with responsible regulations…

“For too long, the prevailing attitude in Washington has been that the market always knows best. The Federal Reserve had the authority to stop the irresponsible lending practices that fueled the subprime mortgage market, but its long-time chairman, Alan Greenspan, rejected pleas that he intervene. The SEC had the authority to insist on tighter standards for credit rating agencies, but it did nothing, despite urging from Congress.

“The Treasury Department could have led the charge for responsible oversight of financial derivatives. Instead, it joined the opposition. The list of regulatory mistakes and misjudgments is long, and the cost to taxpayers and our economy is staggering.

Read More @ WallStOnParade.com

“It Belongs To The People, Not The Bankers” – Italy Moves To Seize Gold From Central Bank

from ZeroHedge:

Two weeks ago, somewhat out of the blue, ECB President Mario Draghi issued an odd statement confirming that the European Central Bank needs to approve any operation in the foreign reserves of euro zone countries, including gold and large foreign currency holdings.

“The ECB shall approve both the operations in foreign reserve assets remaining with the NCBs (national central banks)…and Member States’ transactions with their foreign exchange working balances above a certain threshold,”

“The purpose of this competence is to ensure consistency with the exchange rate and monetary policy of the Union.”

Fall of the Great Pumpkin


by James Howard Kunstler, Kunstler:

Welcome to the witching month when America’s entropy-fueled death-wish expresses itself with as much Halloween jollity and merriment as the old Christmas spirit of yore. The outdoor displays alone approach a Babylonian scale, thanks to the plastics factories of China. I saw a half-life-size T-Rex skeleton for sale at a garden shop last week surrounded by an entire crew of moldering corpse Pirates of the Caribbean in full costume ho-ho-ho-ing among the jack-o-lanterns. What homeowner in this sore-beset floundering economy of three-job gig-workers can shell out four thousand bucks to decorate his lawn like the set of a zombie movie?

The overnight news sure took on that Halloween tang as the nation woke up to what is probably now confirmed to be a national record for a civilian mad-shooter incident. So far, fifty-eight dead and over 500 hundred injured in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest Festival (Nine up in fatalities from last year’s Florida Pulse nightclub massacre, and way more injured this time).

The incident will live in infamy for maybe a day and a half in the US media. Stand by today as there will be calls far and wide, by persons masquerading as political leaders, for measures to make sure something like this never happens again. That’s rich, isn’t it? Meanwhile, the same six a.m. headlines declared that S &P futures were up in the overnight markets. Nothing can faze this mad bull, apparently. Except maybe the $90 trillion combined derivatives books of CitiBank, JP Morgan, and Goldman Sachs, who have gone back whole hog into manufacturing the same kind of hallucinatory collateralized debt obligations (giant sacks of non-performing loans) that gave Wall Street a heart attack in the fall of 2008.

Europe’s quaint doings must seem dull compared to the suicidal potlatch of life in the USA, but, believe me, it’s a big deal when the Spanish authorities start cracking the heads of Catalonian grandmothers for nothing more than casting a ballot. The video scenes of mayhem at the Barcelona polls looked like something out of the 1968 Prague uprising. And now that the Catalonia secession referendum passed with a 90 percent “yes” vote, it’s hard to imagine that a good deal more violent mischief will not follow. So far, the European Union stands dumbly on the sidelines. (For details, read the excellent Roel Ilargi Meijer column on today’s TheAutomaticEarth.)

Next in the cavalcade of October traumas: the USA versus the nuclear weapons ambitions of North Korea. This has been ramping up all year, of course, but it looks to be headed for a climax now that the Golden Golem of Greatness is at the helm. Truly astounding, though, is America’s new method for conducting the most sensitive matters of foreign policy. The day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared that his office was in contact with North Korean officials, the Secretary’s boss, You-Know-Who, tweeted out: “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”

Could this possibly be a cleverly orchestrated good cop / bad cop effort to bamboozle Kim Jung-un? Or is the US government just completely dysfunctional? Or maybe something else is afoot. Under normal circumstances, Mr. Tillerson would just resign after such a gross insult, but we must suppose that a patriotic sense of duty compels him to remain in office in case the need suddenly arises in this witching month to run over Mr. Trump with the 25th amendment — the clause in the constitution that allows a consensus of a pretty small number of national political leaders to toss out a sitting president on the grounds of derangement and incompetence. Stay tuned on that one.

Read More @ Kunstler.com