from ITM Trading:
by Louis Heyward, Russia Insider:
A major endorsement from a very influential bureaucrat
In Russian finance, Sergey Gorkov is a very big deal.
Reputedly a former KGB officer, he was the number 2 at Russia’s biggest bank (Sberbank), and now runs Vneshekonombank (VEB), another huge government bank, whose Chairman of the Board is none other than the Prime Minister of Russia. The bank has a long history and reputation of being closest to the government, its pocket development bank, promoting government policies.
The 49 year old has a reputation of being one of the smarter, forward-looking bankers modernizing Russia’s finances. Americans may be familiar with his name because it came up in the RussiaGate hoax because of a meeting he had with Jared Kushner.
Speaking at Davos, Gorkov was obviously making a pre-planned statement, because he specially donned a black hoody with ‘Blockchain Heroes’ emblazoned across the front.
Gorkov spends a good 5 minutes lauding blockchain, explaining how Russia is ahead of the rest of the world primarily because a commitment has been made to this at the government level, and he stresses that the Russian government’s view on this differs greatly from other governments. He explains what the Russian government is doing to make Russia a leader in the field.
Very worthwhile to listen to what this man says. He speaks for the smart-money in Russia, and around the president.
Out of the world’s top five blockchain companies, three are Russian.
The following clip taken from Russian nightly news (with transcript below) details the significant economic growth this has in store for Russia.
Read More @ Russia-Insider.com
by Darius Shahtahmasebi, The Anti Media:
In an article published by the Financial Times on Monday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif laid out the country’s proposed framework for bringing stability to the Middle East region.
“Isis displayed the darkest depths of human evil,” Zarif wrote. “Yet it also provided an opportunity to come together to battle an existential threat. The co-operative relationships forged in this fight can usher in a new era. We need new approaches and new terminology to make sense of a world which is transitioning to a post-western global order. Here are two concepts to shape the emerging paradigm in west Asia: the idea of a strong region, and security networking, whereby small and large countries — even those with historical rivalries — contribute to stability.”
It appears that Iran’s significant contribution to ISIS’ defeat and demise — coupled with its new injection as a major player to be reckoned with in the Middle East — has given the country newfound confidence. Iran is using its battlefield success to propose a new vision for the Middle East — one that would allegedly include open dialogue and cooperation.
“The objective of a strong region — as opposed to a quest for hegemony and the exclusion of other actors — is rooted in recognising the need to respect the interest of all stakeholders. Any domineering effort by one country is not only inappropriate but essentially impossible: those who insist on following that path create instability. The arms race in our region is an instance of this kind of destructive rivalry: siphoning vital resources into the coffers of arms manufacturers has contributed nothing to achieving peace and security. Militarism has only served to fuel disastrous adventurism.” [emphasis added]
Whether or not Zarif is genuine, taking his words at face value suggests he is proposing that countries in the region come together to form common interests and fight common enemies rather than focusing squarely on their differences.
Right now, countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran view each other as regional arch-rivals, and the two are locked in a current power struggle for dominance over the Middle East. So, what is Iran proposing as a solution to these differences of opinion — and can stability be achieved?
According to Zarif:
“Most of the usual modes of forming alliances have also become obsolete. Given our interconnected world, the idea of collective security is now defunct, especially in the Persian Gulf, for one basic reason: it assumes commonality of interests. Security networking is Iran’s innovation to address issues that range from divergence of interests to power and size disparities. Its parameters are simple but effective: rather than trying to ignore conflicts of interests, it accepts differences. Equally, being premised on inclusivity, it acts as a firewall against the emergence of an oligarchy among big states and allows smaller states to participate. The rules of this new order are straightforward: common standards, most significantly the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, such as sovereign equality of states; refraining from the threat or use of force; peaceful resolution of conflicts; respect for the territorial integrity of states; non-intervention in the domestic affairs of states; and respect for self-determination within states.” [emphasis added]
The problem with this proposal, however, is that Saudi Arabia and its Western allies routinely accuse Iran of interfering in and destabilizing the region. In reality, these countries ignore their own destructive behavior while they point fingers at Iran as a scapegoat for their own failures.
That being said, Zarif suggests that the reason for this instability is rooted in a “dialogue deficit.” Opening up such a dialogue could help countries understand that all nations have “similar concerns, fears, aspirations and hopes” and that this dialogue should replace the rampant propaganda that has plagued the region.
Read More @ TheAntiMedia.com
by Paul Craig Roberts, Paul Craig Roberts:
The Republicans’ delay in releasing the summary of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russiagate investigation is giving weight to the presstitutes’ claim that the report is not being released, because it is a hack attempt at a Trump coverup that is not believable. Only Republicans are stupid enough to put themselves in such a situation.
Readers ask me why the summary memo is not released if it is real. There must be some reasons besides the stupidity of Republicans. Yes, that is so. Among the many reasons that might be blocking release are:
1) Republicans are very national security conscious. They don’t want to provide precedents for the release of classified information.
2) Many Republican congressional districts host installations of the military/security complex. Upsetting a large employer and directing campaign financing to a challenger is a big consideration.
3) The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney regime was a neoconservative regime. One consequence is that Republicans are influenced by neoconservatives who stress the alleged “Russian threat.”
4) The Israel Lobby can unseat any member of the House and Senate. The Israel Lobby is allied with the neoconservatives and this alliance intends to keep the US militarily active against perceived threats to Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East and against Russia, which supports Syria and Iran, countries perceived as threats by Israel.
5) Many Republicans are themselves invested in false Russiagate allegations against Trump and would like to replace him with Pence. Other Republicans believe that Trump is undermining Washington’s expensively-purchased foreign alliances and, thereby, undermining US power.
Many Americans do not seem to understand what is at stake. What America is confronted with is a coup conspiracy organized by top officials of the Obama Justice Department, FBI, CIA, the Hillary DNC, and the presstitute media to overturn the result of a democratic election and remove the president from office. The basis of the coup is a fake dossier purchased for money that consists of unsupported allegations against Trump and that was used to obtain warrants from the FISA count to spy on Trump and various associates hoping to find something that can be used against Trump. Regardless, the false allegations could be fed to the CIA’s media assets and used to create a scandal requiring a special prosecutor to investigate Russiagate. Once the investigation was under way, the presstitutes kept the scandal alive hoping to convince enough Americans that Trump must have done something—“where there is smoke, there is fire”—that justifies his removal. It worked against Richard Nixon, but not against Ronald Reagan, and Trump is no Reagan.
If the highest reaches of the police state agencies can get away with an attempted or successful coup against the president of the United States, then that is the complete end of democracy and all accountability in government. The House, Senate, and judiciary will become as powerless as the Roman senate under the caesars. We will live under a dictatorship ruled by police state agencies.
Many Americans say they don’t need the House Intelligence Report, because they don’t believe the Russiagate BS in the first place. They miss the point. They need the report, because those responsible for this attempt at a coup must be identified, charged, and prosecuted for their act of high treason.
This is not minor stuff. This goes to the heart of whether any form of liberty will exist. We all know that the ability of the people to hold government accountable is not assured by democracy. However, there is no prospect of holding government accountable if it is a police state, a road that the US has been going down for some time. The audacious coup attempt against President Trump is our opportunity to stop the momentum to a police state.
Despite my recent postings, many people do not understand that the somewhat redacted FISA court document that has been declassified and released and explained by myself, William Binney, and former US Attorney Joe di Genova (see: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/01/22/here-are-all-the-facts-about-russiagate/ ) contains admissions by the FBI and DOJ that they improperly spied and obtained warrants from the court under false pretenses. In other words, we have it on the authority of the FISA court itself that the FBI and DOJ have admitted to the court their transgressions. When Department of Justice (sic) congressional liaison Stephen Boyd says the DOJ is “unaware of any wrongdoing,” he is lying through his teeth. The DOJ has already confessed its wrongdoing to the FISA court.
(See Lendman on Boyd’s claim that releasing the memo would harm national security and ongoing investigations. This is always the claim made when government has to cover up its crimes. http://stephenlendman.org/2018/01/memo-detailing-russiagate-abuses-names-high-level-us-officials/)
Read More @ PaulCraigRoberts.org
by Makia Freeman, The Sleuth Journal:
War with Iran is the best way to describe what is happening right now with the recent Iranian protests. Yes, the Iranian people have legitimate gripes (especially economic) with the theocratic government there, which is hardly a bastion of freedom. However, there can be no doubt that these protests are orchestrated by the same meddlesome US-Israeli axis (and you can add the UK in there too) which has been the driving force behind all Middle Eastern wars for at least 50 years. These protests are merely the latest manifestation of a continuous and incessant Anglo-Zionist policy of targeting Iran. They may ignite further conflict, or they may be quelled, but either way, you will make more sense of them by understanding the long and deep history of US, Israeli and UK interference in Iran. Right after Trump assumed office at the start of 2017, he made his intention clear that he wanted war with Iran. These protests are yet another way in which the US-Israeli-UK axis is showing it wants war with Iran – and will go to any lengths to get it.
When news of the 2018 Iranian protests first broke on January 1st, some were struck by the odd assortment of protest cries. The Iranian protestors were reported to be complaining about all sorts of things:
“Death to the dictator” (an apparent reference to Ayatollah Khamenei)
“Death to Rouhani” (the current Iranian president)
“I give my life for Iran, not Gaza, not Lebanon”
“We are of Aryaee [Aryan] race, we don’t worship Arabs”
The big clue among these protest cries is this next one, where the “protestors” were said to have shouted:
“No to Gaza, no to Lebanon, no to Palestine, no to Syria”
It is perfectly understandable for some Iranian people to be complaining about the price of eggs. It is also understandable for them to be expressing dissatisfaction with their leaders. But since when do average people on the street – especially those in dire financial straits – start taking an active interest in the foreign policy of their nation? Do you really think an average poor Iranian cares enough to critique his nation’s foreign policy of defending Syria against ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc. when he’s just trying to feed his family? That doesn’t even come close to passing the smell test. Besides, Iran is widely esteemed for having had the intelligence and strength to intervene in Syria (alongside Russia) and stave off the coalition of mercenaries, “moderate” terrorists, Wahhabis, takfiris and other fighters – all funded and trained by the US, Israel, UK, Saudi Arabia, the GCC, NATO and other nations – who would surely have set their sights on Iran had they been successful in toppling Bashar Al Assad. Why on Earth would an average Iranian protest his country’s skilled intervention in Syria? Or protest that Iran cares too much about the Palestinians (fellow Muslims) in Gaza?
Israel, on the other hand, has been loudly complaining for years about Iran’s involvement in propping up Hamas (Palestine), Hezbollah (Lebanon), Syria, Yemen and other places, so these “Iranian protests” constitute a perfect Zionist wishlist for the region. Just a coincidence, I’m sure …
Like many other countries in the world, Iran has been a victim of foreign meddling by the Anglo-American Empire. In a sad but watershed moment in its history, its democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadegh was overthrown in 1953 due to a CIA coup, after he made moves to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later to become BP) had been making a killing taking Iranian oil for British use, and only paying 16% of their profits back to Iran. Once the Shah was installed, along with a new PM who was sympathetic to the British and Americans, the Iranians lived under authoritarian rule until the 1979 Islamic Revolution. As Eric Margolis writes:
“The 1953 coup went perfectly. Mossadegh was ousted with backing from the Army and Savak. Iran’s oil remained safe in western hands. The successful Iran uprising became the template for future ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Russia, Poland, and Romania.
Iran’s new Islamic Republic was deemed a dire threat to Western and Israeli strategic and military interests (think Saudi Arabia). The very idea that the Islamic Republic would follow the tenets of Islam and share oil wealth with the needy was anathema to London and Washington. Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, ran Iran’s dreaded, brutal secret police, Savak. The crooked royal family looted the nation and stored their swag in California.”
During the 1980s, Iran was consistently the target of US ire. First there was the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis which affected the outcome of the US presidential election. Then, during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, started when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Iran, the US decided to arm Iraq against Iran. Iraq ultimately lost that war and then the US turned against them too.
Read More @ TheSleuthJournal.com
by Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Wall St On Parade:
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin opened his mouth at the base of the snow-covered mountains of Davos, Switzerland yesterday during the World Economic Forum and sent an instant chill through currency markets around the world. After Mnuchin made the highly inappropriate remark that a weak dollar would be good for U.S. trade prospects, the U.S. Dollar plunged to a three-year low.
Anyone who knew in advance that Mnuchin was going to make such a comment could have cleaned up in currency trades yesterday. Two U.S. banks (JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup) and two foreign banks (Barclays and RBS) were charged with felony counts on May 20, 2015 for their roles in rigging foreign currency markets. Mnuchin is a former 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs and should have known better than to make such a remark at an event covered by 500 journalists from around the world.
After being roasted by the media on Wednesday for his imprudent statement that “Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities,” Mnuchin sought to walk it back in a forum sponsored by CNBC this morning in Davos. During that forum he said: “In the longer term, we fundamentally believe in the strength of the dollar.”
There are important reasons that it is considered bad form for a sitting U.S. Treasury Secretary or sitting U.S. President to comment on the trading level of the U.S. Dollar. While a cheaper Dollar is good for U.S. exporters because it makes their products more competitively priced in foreign markets, a cheaper dollar is decidedly not good for U.S. consumers who have to pay more for imports from foreign countries with a stronger currency. (Go to the apparel department of any department store in the U.S. and try to find an item of clothing made in the U.S. and you’ll see what we mean. Or go to Lowes or Home Depot and try to find a lighting fixture made in the U.S.; or go to an electronics store and check the ratio of foreign made goods to U.S. made goods. You’ll quickly get the picture.)
Purchases made by consumers in the U.S. represent approximately two-thirds of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A steadily weakening dollar presents a hardship to the working class of America where the bulk of their income goes to the necessities of life. As the dollar weakens those costs increase while wages stagnate.
These increased consumer costs lead to rising inflation which could force the hand of the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than currently anticipated. This could cause the stock market to fall, delivering another blow to the working class as their 401(k) savings for retirement would take a hit.
Then there is the matter of the trillions of dollars that foreigners have invested in businesses and real estate in the U.S. If they made those investments when the U.S. Dollar was strong and try to repatriate their funds back to their foreign jurisdiction by selling these assets when the U.S. Dollar is weak, that could deliver significant losses to these investors. The same concept applies to foreign central banks who hold trillions of dollars in U.S. Treasury Securities.
For all of these reasons, previous U.S. administrations have prudently kept their mouths shut on the appropriate trading levels for the U.S. Dollar.
Mnuchin seems to invite controversy whenever he steps in front of a camera – particularly when it’s with his wife, the actress Louise Linton. In August of last year, as Hurricane Harvey left families homeless in Texas, Louise Linton was bragging about the designer clothes on her back as she disembarked from a U.S. chartered plane with her husband. In an on-line post, Linton touted her #hermes, #valentino, #roulandmouret, and #tomfordsunnies attire. When a female reader responded in a post: “glad we could pay for your little getaway,” Linton lectured her in a subsequent post for being “adorably out of touch.” Linton then proceeded to brag about how much more in taxes Linton and her husband pay. (Linton apologized after the story went viral and erased her Instagram post.)
Read More @ WallStOnParade.com
by Alex Christoforou, The Duran:
In a recent article for The Duran I wrote of how the economic situation in Ukraine appeared once more to be deteriorating, with economic statistics apparently being distorted to conceal the extent of the rise in inflation, making the claimed figure of 2% GDP growth in 2017 improbable.
In a further sign of a deteriorating economic situation, recent reports from Ukraine speak of rolling electric power blackouts in some regions, suggesting growing energy shortages as the price of oil hikes.
In a symptom of how bad the situation has become, the Ukrainian government has quietly dropped its sanctions prohibiting coal imports from Russia, indicating that Ukraine is being forced to turn to Russia for imports of coal in light of the gathering energy crisis.
In this situation, as Paul Goncharoff has recently pointed out, the decision of the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal to force Ukraine to resume gas purchases from Gazprom actually helps Ukraine, since the gas Gazprom is able to supply Ukraine is actually cheaper than the gas Ukraine has up to now for political reasons been buying in Europe.
A further sign that economic pressures are causing a certain return to economic rationality in Ukraine is shown by a recent report from Interfax that Ukraine wants negotiations with Moscow to secure the transit of Russian gas to Europe across Ukraine
Ukraine is ready to discuss future transit of Russian gas following the ruling on their gas contract dispute from the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Naftogaz Ukrainy chief Andriy Kobolev told Interfax during “Ukrainian Breakfast” at Davos.
The government and Energy and Coal Industry Ministry might represent Ukraine at those talks, Kobolev said.
“Naftogaz is ready, but there is one nuance. The government wants to engage in these talks. Therefore, there is the likelihood that [Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr] Kistion will go to the transit talks together with [Energy and Coal Industry Minister Ihor] Nasalyk,” he said.
Earlier, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Energy Union Maros Sefcovic invited Russia and Ukraine to discuss with each other future transit of Russian gas through Ukraine following the Stockholm arbitration ruling.
Russia supplied 94 billion cubic meters of gas to the EU through Ukraine last year, witnessing to the importance of this transit route in future.
“I think this can well be considered an achievement, and the massive gas volumes signal that this transit route is very important for Gazprom (MOEX: GAZP) as the supplier, for Ukraine as the transiter, and for the EU as the consumer. I will discuss with him [Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko] how we will operate after the Stockholm arbitration ruling in order to create a constructive atmosphere in order to be convinced that this transit route will remain an important route for supplies to Europe, that will be sufficient up to 2019,” he said.
Note the heavy lobbying for these talks by the European Commission, which is politically committed to preserving Ukraine’s role as a gas transit state.
Whether the Russians will be prepared to agree to allow Ukraine to remain a gas transit state notwithstanding the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal’s decision to uphold the provisions of Gazprom’s gas supply contracts with Ukraine’s Naftogaz – which Ukraine had disputed – is another matter.
With project financing for Nord Stream 2 now in place and with construction of Turk Stream already underway there seems no obvious reason why the Russians should continue to transit gas across Ukraine once the present contracts expire.
Having said this, the mere fact that the Ukrainians now say that they are prepared to discuss future gas transit arrangements with Moscow at a government level – suggesting that they are prepared to provide interstate treaty guarantees in order to ensure the safety of Russian gas transiting to Europe – is a sign of the pressure they are now under. Whether the Russians would accept these guarantees given how little trust they have in Ukraine is of course another matter.
However the single clearest sign of the growing economic pressure in Ukraine is that Ukraine’s Central Bank – just placed by President Poroshenko under new leadership – has today hiked its key lending rate to 16%.
Here is Interfax’s report about this
The National Bank of Ukraine has decided to hike its key policy rate to 16% per annum, effective from January 26, the NBU said in a press release.
“The tighter monetary policy will help decrease the inflation and bring it back to the target range in the middle of 2019,” the NBU said.
“In 2017, headline inflation reached 13.7%, exceeding the target of 8% ± 2 pp set for the National Bank of Ukraine in the Monetary Policy Guidelines for 2017 and Medium Term,” it said.
“Inflation sped up to 12.4% compared to 2016, mainly due to factors on which monetary policy tools have only a limited effect. In particular, acceleration of inflation was mainly driven by a decrease in the supply of some foods resulting from the unfavorable weather conditions seen in the first half of last year, the unstable situation in animal breeding, and a rise in the global prices of, and demand for, Ukrainian foods, mainly meat and dairy products,” the NBU said.
“An increase in production costs, especially labor costs, and fast recovery of consumer demand also contributed to the growth of prices,” it said.
“In addition, the end of last year saw an increase in hryvnia exchange rate fluctuations and a noticeable easing in fiscal policy, thanks to, among other things, sharp increase in pension payments and budgetary spending being unevenly distributed over the year. This increased underlying inflationary pressure, as evidenced by a rise in core inflation, to 9.5% in December, and high inflation expectations. As a consequence, the deviation of inflation rate from the target was larger than the NBU anticipated in its October 2017 Inflation Report,” it said.
This is the NBU’s third rate hike in almost as many months: the rate went up from 12.5% to 13.5% in October 2017 and was raised to 14.5% in December. The NBU had lowered the rate prior to that.
This surge in interest rates – with the key lending rate rising from 12.5% to 16% in three stages over just three months – may be a further sign that the official inflation rate of 13.7% in 2017 is too low, and that the true inflation rate in 2017 was higher, and was really 16-17% as various Russian commentators are speculating.
Read More @ TheDuran.com