Thursday, May 26, 2022

Grand Bargain Update: As Stakes Rise in Syria So Does the Fake News

by Tom Luongo, Tom Luongo:

The hardest part of this job is the predictability of it.  Syria’s ‘civil war’ is nearly over.  As forces gather to begin ridding Idlib province of Al-Qaeda and other ‘rebel’ factions, the posturing and rhetoric become more overblown.

Israel and the U.S. need to make a show of force here to prove to the world they are still in some measure of control over Syria’s fate.  That manifests itself as threats from senior U.S. officials, like Crazy John Bolton, to President Bashar al-Assad to not use chemical weapons again.

The Russians pre-empted this narrative by imploring the U.S. to simply stay out of the way in Idlib and the problem of Al-Qaeda in Syria will be over soon.  It worked well in Dara’a just a few weeks ago.

Russia’s Plans for a “Fire Escape” Currency

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by Byron King, Daily Reckoning:

It may be a new year, but Russia makes no secret of its long-term dissatisfaction with U.S. politics, the dollar and, by extension, U.S. monetary hegemony in the world.

Russia has been under U.S./Western economic sanctions for over three years. Meanwhile, oil prices have been “lower for longer,” as the saying goes, due to global competition for market share from U.S. fracking. The overall impact of these phenomena has been costly to the Russian economy.

Still, Russia has persevered through all manner of external economic roadblocks. The Russian view is sanguine, and that, as time passes, the dollar is in trouble, for a lengthy list of reasons.

Indeed, Russia’s strategic intent is clear…

To escape the constraints and political risks of a dollar-denominated world. In fact, Russian leaders are forming a new currency arrangement that will allow them to do exactly that.

My partner Jim Rickards and I call this new phenomenon Russia’s “fire escape” currency. It’s coming down the line, and smart investors can profit from it.

First though, you need to understand the Russian view of the dollar.

At the highest levels of Russian governance, officials are deeply concerned with what they perceive as U.S. political meddling and bullying, based on the dollar.

Western economic sanctions are part of this. The U.S. and Western partners have blocked all manner of trade in goods and services with Russia, and extended the blockage to many Russian export items as well.

Plus, Russia chafes under restrictions on transferring funds via the international SWIFT system (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). There are many other issues related to the dollar, as well. Far too many to list here.

But, it’s fair to say that Russian policymakers hold profound distrust and resentment towards how the U.S. has, in their view, abused the status of the dollar as the predominant international reserve currency.

As far back as 2011, at a major conference in Russia, Vladimir Putin said, “They (USA) are living beyond their means and shifting a part of the weight of their problems to the world economy… They (USA) are living like parasites off the global economy and their monopoly of the dollar.”

Unsurprisingly, since 2011, Russia has pushed back against dollar-hegemony. Among other things, Russia has accumulated a large amount of gold.

In fact, in the past six years, Russia has more than doubled its official, publicly-acknowledged, state holdings of gold, as this chart makes clear.

Russia has broadcast news of this gold buildup to the entire world. Russian policymakers want people to know about the gold stash.

For example, according to a recent article in Russia’s Sputnik News, Russia’s monetary policy has the Kremlin’s central bank “Stacking Bullion Bricks Like There Is No Tomorrow.”

Many Russians regard those gold bricks as a “strategic reserve” for the country. That’s because Russian culture is imbued with a deep-seated military viewpoint, formed over many centuries of warfare between that nation and its external enemies and invaders.

So, Russians see physical gold as a critical substance, held back and out of normal usage, in case of need during an emergency.

Read More @ DailyReckoning.com

John Rubino – No Relief for Developing Country Currencies

by Kerry Lutz, Financial Survival Network:

John Rubino is back for another Monday… It’s always good to be the king, as a wise philosopher one stated. And being the king of currencies is no exception. The US Dollar is rolling along and crushing every currency in its path. But how long can it go on? Looks like there’s really life in the mining space once again, with Barrick’s acquisition of Randgold.reserve currency!

Click HERE to Listen

Trump Halts Aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras as Flood of Migrants Overwhelms Border Patrol

by John Hayward, Breitbart:

President Donald Trump on Friday night halted all direct foreign aid to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, fulfilling a longstanding threat to end payments to so-called “Northern Triangle” countries if they failed to halt migrant caravans headed for the United States.

“At the secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the President’s direction and ending FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle. We will be engaging Congress as part of this process,” a State Department spokesperson said on Saturday.

IRAN, RUSSIA, CHINA, AND THE SILK ROAD

by Joseph P. Farrell, Giza Death Star:

This has been one of those weeks in which news events have overtaken my original intentions for articles to blog about. And this is one of those cases, as E.G. brought this article from Zero Hedge to my attention:

Declassified: The Sino-Russian Masterplan To End U.S. Dominance In Middle East

In yesterday’s New’s and and Views from the Nefarium, I outlined a high octane speculation scenario concerning the recent attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf. There’s no question that attacks occurred. The real question is, who actually did it and how was it actually done? Iran, as the US is claiming? Or is this a false flag? Was it a mine? or as the Japanese ship’s crew maintains, something that flew into the ship?

The Trump Administration Is Warning That The U.S. Economy May Not Grow At All During The First Quarter Of 2019

by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:

This government shutdown is really starting to take a toll on the U.S. economy.  On Wednesday, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers made an absolutely stunning admission.  We all knew that the global economy was slowing down, and we all knew that U.S. economic activity was beginning to sputter, but up until this week the Trump administration had always insisted that we are not heading for a recession.  Well, all of that changed on Wednesday when Kevin Hassett publicly admitted that we could end up with zero GDP growth during the first quarter of 2019

Now ‘Russian Nuclear Weapon Exercises’ Are Made Up To Beat War Drum

by Paul Gallagher, LaRouche Organization:

The din of war in the trans-Atlantic media, the drumbeat of “Russian attack and invasion,” has now reached a crescendo. Can there still be some Leonard Bernstein of London who will raise the orchestra of the intelligence services to a still louder pitch, until American and European publics actually believe that a Russian military invasion of Ukraine is underway? Will some stiff-necked journalists continue to demand actual evidence?

‘Playing part in anti-Tehran policy?’ UK marines seize ship with alleged Iranian crude for Syria

from RT:

Iran has summoned the British ambassador after the seizure of a supertanker that was allegedly carrying crude to fuel-starved Syria in defiance of EU sanctions. It comes as the US is trying to stifle Iranian oil trade to zero.

The MT Grace 1, a 300,000-ton Very Large Crude Carrier, was detained in a raid conducted by the British Royal Navy Marines and Gibraltar law enforcement on Thursday morning. The government of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, said the ship was detained for allegedly violating EU sanctions on Syria.

Denmark Launches COVID-19 Passports to Ease Foreign Travel

from Sputnik News:

The downloadable sheet includes information in Danish, English and French and is intended for use abroad.

Denmark’s government has launched coronavirus passports, which all adult residents can freely download from the national health website, TV2 reported.

The idea is to use the passports when travelling abroad as a token of their health and safety.

GOLD RISES BY $5.75 TO $1193.20 AND WITHIN ONE DOLLAR OF ITS 10 DAY MOVING AVERAGE

by Harvey Organ, Harvey Organ Blog:

SILVER IS UP 2 CENTS TO $14.78//MICROSOFT DISCOVERS A HACKING ATTEMPT BY RUSSIANS AGAINST CONSERVATIVE INTERESTS AGAINST TRUMP/USA TREASURY RESPONDS ANGRILY TO THIS/RUSSIA ABANDONS ITS BOND AUCTION DUE TO LACK OF BIDS AS INTEREST RATES RISE IN RUSSIA/EMERGING MARKETS STILL IN TURMOIL AS THE BRAZILIAN REAL BREAKS 4:1 /COHEN IS SET TO PLEAD GUILTY AND NOW WE MUST WATCH WHAT HE DOES WITH RESPECT TO TRUMP/JULIAN ASSANGE’S MOTHER TWEETS THAT IT WAS MARC RICH THAT DOWNLOADED INFORMATION OF THE DNC TO WIKILEAKS

Real Motive Behind Saudi Purge Emerges: $800 Billion In Confiscated Assets

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from ZeroHedge:

From the very beginning, there was something off about Sunday’s unprecedented countercoup purge unleashed by Mohammad bin Salman on alleged political enemies, including some of Saudi Arabia’s richest and most powerful royals and government officials: it was just too brazen to be a simple “power consolidation” move; in fact most commentators were shocked by the sheer audacity, with one question outstanding: why take such a huge gamble? After all, there was little chatter of an imminent coup threat against either the senile Saudi King or the crown prince, MbS, and a crackdown of such proportions would only boost animosity against the current ruling royals further.

Things gradually started to make sense when it emerged that some $33 billion in oligarch net worth was “at risk” among just the 4 wealthiest arrested Saudis, which included the media-friendly prince Alwaleed.

One day later, a Reuters source reported that in a just as dramatic expansion of the original crackdown, bank accounts of over 1,200 individuals had been frozen, a number which was growing by the minute. Commenting on this land cashgrab, we rhetorically asked “So when could the confiscatory process end? As we jokingly suggested yesterday, the ruling Saudi royal family has realized that not only can it crush any potential dissent by arresting dozens of potential coup-plotters, it can also replenish the country’s foreign reserves, which in the past 3 years have declined by over $250 billion, by confiscating some or all of their generous wealth, which is in the tens if not hundreds of billions. If MbS continues going down the list, he just may recoup a substantial enough amount to what it makes a difference on the sovereign account.”

Then an article overnight from the WSJ confirmed that fundamentally, the purge may be nothing more than a forced extortion scheme, as the Saudi government – already suffering from soaring budget deficits, sliding oil revenues and plunging reserves – was “aiming to confiscate cash and other assets worth as much as $800 billion in its broadening crackdown on alleged corruption among the kingdom’s elite.

As we reported yesterday, the WSJ writes that the country’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, said late Tuesday that it has frozen the bank accounts of “persons of interest” and said the move is “in response to the Attorney General’s request pending the legal cases against them.” But what is more notable, is that while we first suggested – jokingly – on Monday that the ulterior Saudi motive would be to simply “nationalize” the net worth of some of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest individuals, now the WSJ confirms that this is precisely the case, and what’s more notably is that the amount in question is absolutely staggering: nearly 2x Saudi Arabia’s total foreign reserves!

As the WSJ alleges, “the crackdown could also help replenish state coffers. The government has said that assets accumulated through corruption will become state property, and people familiar with the matter say the government estimates the value of assets it can reclaim at up to 3 trillion Saudi riyal, or $800 billion.”

While much of that money remains abroad – and invested in various assets from bonds to stocks to precious metals and real estate – which will complicate efforts to reclaim it, even a portion of that amount would help shore up Saudi Arabia’s finances.

A prolonged period of low oil prices forced the government to borrow money on the international bond market and to draw extensively from the country’s foreign reserves, which dropped from $730 billion at their peak in 2014 to $487.6 billion in August, the latest available government data.

Read More @ ZeroHedge.com