Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Real Peak Complacency

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by John Rubino, Dollar Collapse:

Stocks are at record highs while volatility is at a record low. Which is another way of saying that investors aren’t as worried as they probably should be about the coming year.

That’s okay. Price corrections (with their attendant volatility spikes) are normal and natural ways for markets to teach overconfident investors a little humility. Think of them as the financial word’s forest fires, clearing out the underbrush of misconception, malinvestment, and hubris.

But there’s another area of Peak Complacency that is neither natural nor benign. And that’s cyberspace. Americans – and Europeans and Japanese – have moved most of their financial lives online just as hackers and other cyber-enemies get the upper hand. Recently:

  • Credit rating agency Equifax – apparently through its own incompetence – allowed hackers to access and presumably copy and sell “sensitive personal information” of 146 million Americans.
  • Online portal Yahoo upped the number of accounts that were hacked in 2013 to – get this — 3 billion.
  • The National Security Agency admitted that its state-of-the-art hacking tools were stolen by hackers and are now available for sale on the dark web.
  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) suffered more than 50 data breaches between January 2015 and December 2016, exposing “personally identifiable information (PII) of U.S. citizens.”

     

  • The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR database of corporate documents was hacked, leading to illegal insider trading that the SEC is still trying to unravel.

 

And then there’s bitcoin, where online exchanges are being hacked with apparent impunity and zero recourse for victims:

 

Cryptocurrencies: How hackers and fraudsters are causing chaos in the world of digital financial transactions

(Independent) – There have been at least three dozen heists of cryptocurrency exchanges since 2011 and more than 980,000 bitcoins stolen, worth about $4 billion.

 

Dan Wasyluk discovered the hard way that trading cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin happens in an online Wild West where sheriffs are largely absent.

Mr Wasyluk and his colleagues raised bitcoins for a new tech venture and lodged them in escrow at a company running a cryptocurrency exchange called Moolah. Just months later the exchange collapsed; the man behind it is now awaiting trial in Britain on fraud and money-laundering charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Wasyluk’s project lost 750 bitcoins, currently worth about $3m, and he believes he stands little chance of recovering any money.

“It really was kind of a kneecapping of the project,” said Mr Wasyluk of the collapse three years ago. “If you are starting an exchange and you lose clients’ money, you or your company should be 100 per cent accountable for that loss. And right now there is nothing like that in place.”

Cryptocurrencies were supposed to offer a secure, digital way to conduct financial transactions but they have been dogged by doubts. Concerns have largely focused on their astronomical gains in value and the likelihood of painful price crashes. Equally perilous, though, are the exchanges where virtual currencies are bought, sold and stored. These exchanges, which match buyers and sellers and sometimes hold traders’ funds, have become magnets for fraud and mires of technological dysfunction, posing an underappreciated risk to anyone who trades digital coins.

The obvious conclusion is that our bank, brokerage and bitcoin accounts aren’t safe from hackers and/or cyber-attacks that shut down settlement systems and power grids.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, for example, much of Puerto Rico is still without power, which means ATM machines aren’t working. See Puerto Rico is now a cash-only economy.

Read More @ DollarCollapse.com

Donald Trump: Warmonger-in-Chief

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by Antonius Aquinas, Acting Man:

Cryptic Pronouncements

If a world conflagration, God forbid, should break out during the Trump Administration, its genesis will not be too hard to discover: the thin-skinned, immature, shallow, doofus who currently resides in the Oval Office!

This past week, the Donald has continued his bellicose talk with both veiled and explicit threats against purported American adversaries throughout the world.  In a cryptic exchange with reporters during a dinner with military leaders, he quipped:

You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.  It could be the calm… before… the storm.*

A reporter asked if he meant Iran or Isis which the POTUS responded, “you’ll find out.”  Instead of threatening supposed overseas foes with nuclear annihilation, none of whom have taken any concrete military action against the US, why not go after someone who has actually compromised the country’s security, namely Hillary Rodham Clinton!

While some dismissed the comments as typical Trumpian bluster, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders added further ominous overtones when questioned saying they were “extremely serious.” Later in the week, Trump continued to threaten tiny North Korea, this time in not so veiled terms:

“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, making fools of U.S. negotiators.  Sorry, but only one thing will work”.**

If war erupts either on the Korean Peninsula or in any other part of the globe that the U.S has wantonly poked its nose into, it can be safely assured that neither Trump nor any of the other “military leaders,” with whom he recently had dinner with will be in the midst of hostilities as the bombs and bullets are being cast about.

No, these laptop bombers will be in safe quarters far away from enemy lines, giving orders, making speeches, and praising the troops, while Congress will be hurriedly passing more “defense” funding legislation further lining the pockets of the military industrial complex.

 Too far removed from the battlefield…
Too far removed from the battlefield…

Curtailing the Warmongers

The Warmonger-in-Chief, who has repeatedly bragged about America’s military prowess, had a chance to become a part of the organization he constantly gushes over during his youth at the time of the Vietnam War.  Yet, he escaped military service, due to the machinations of his father, because of a mysterious foot/toe malady.

All those who avoided being conscripted into America’s disastrous imperial exercise in Southeast Asia during those years, whether it was from phony medical conditions, escaping to Canada or beyond, or going to jail, they did so for justifiable reasons.

The war was immoral, since Vietnam had taken no hostile action against the US and what made it worse, the government drafted thousands of America’s youth to fight it.  It is reprehensible that those who got out of military service then are now at the forefront in advocating mass murder (war).

One resolution that would certainly curtail warmongering in the future would be that any legislator, president, cabinet officer, or ambassador who promotes military intervention abroad should be required to directly participate in field operations.  This would quickly put the brakes on threatening talk from the likes of Trump and his crazed UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley.

A country’s leadership personally conducting military operations has a long tradition in Western history.  During the era of the crusades, princes and kings led their retinues and forces into battle risking their own life and limb – such as the great Norman prince, Bohemond, whose courage, tenacity, and military acumen won the day for Christian forces at the battle of Antioch.

Read More @ Acting-Man.com

Science tells us this is all true

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by Simon Black, Sovereign Man:

On April 30, 1934, under pressure from Italian-American lobby groups, the United States Congress passed a law enshrining Columbus Day as a national holiday.

President Franklin Roosevelt quickly signed the bill into law, and the very first Columbus Day was celebrated in October of that year.

Undoubtedly people had a different view of the world back then… and a different set of values.

Few cared about the plight of the indigenous who were wiped out as a result of European conquest.

Even just a few decades ago when I was a kid in elementary school, I remember learning that ‘Columbus discovered America’. There was no discussion of genocide.

It wasn’t until I was a sophomore at West Point that I picked up Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States (and then Columbus’s own diaries) and started reading about the mass-extermination of entire tribes.

Columbus himself wrote about his first encounter with the extremely peaceful and welcoming Arawak Indians of the Bahama Islands:

“They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron… They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

And so he did.

“I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”

Columbus had already written back to his investors in Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, that the Caribbean islands possessed “great mines of gold.”

It was all lies. Columbus was desperately attempting to justify their investment.

In Haiti, Columbus ordered the natives to bring him all of their gold. But there was hardly an ounce of gold anywhere on the island. So Columbus had them slaughtered. Within two years, 250,000 were dead.

Now, this letter isn’t intended to rail against Columbus. Point is, I never learned any of this information in school. Decades ago, no one really did.

But today, people are starting to be aware of what Columbus did. And our values are vastly different today than they were in 1937. Or in 1492.

Decades ago… and certainly hundreds of years ago… the idea of a ‘superior race’ still prevailed, endowed by their creator with the right to subjugate all inferior races.

This readily-accepted belief was the pretext of slavery and genocide.

Even as recently as the early 1900s, there were entire fields of ‘science’ devoted to studying the technical differences among various races and drawing data-driven conclusions about superiority.

Phrenologists, for example, would take precise measurements of people’s skulls– the circumference of the head, the ratio of forehead to eyebrow measurements, etc.– and deduce the intellectual capacity and character traits of entire races.

Jews could not be trusted. Blacks and Asians were inferior. These assertions were based on ‘scientific evidence’, even in nations like Sweden, the United Kingdom, and United States.

Today we’re obviously more advanced than our ancestors were. We know that their science was complete bullshit, and our values are totally different.

There are entire movements now (particularly among university students) to remove statues, rename buildings, and re-designate holidays.

Frankly this is a pretty slippery slope. If we judge everyone throughout history based on our values today, we’ll never stop tearing down monuments.

Even someone as forward-thinking as Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. And that’s a LOT of elementary schools to rename.

Read More @ SovereignMan.com

How to Beat Cybercriminals at Their Own Game, Part I

by Justin Splitter, Casey Research:

Justin’s note: Over the next two days, I’m sharing a special interview that features Doug Casey and his colleagues on the latest crime wave that’s sweeping the globe.

Below, you’ll hear from John Hunt, an MD and coauthor with Doug of Speculator and Drug Lord, and Durk Pearson, bestselling author and former rocket scientist and aerospace physicist. They recently sat down with Doug to share their best tips on how to protect yourself against the growing cyber-threat.

I think you’ll find their ideas interesting and timely…

John: Equifax hacks, Russian hacks, and political hacks are all competing with the Kardashians for primetime news reports. Let’s focus on something that might actually matter to each of us and that we can do something about: our own personal cybersecurity.

Durk: Computer security is a lot more important than most people realize. Absent precautions, it’s like if you had a stack of $100 bills and left it on the sidewalk in front of your house. If someone happens to stroll through your neighborhood, he can just pick them up.

Likewise, most people have no computer defenses at all. You have more than $100 bills in that computer. You have your future money too, and your credit.

But you can become resistant to this. It’s not an impossible task. Remember the old story? You don’t have to run faster than the bear. You just have to run faster than the other guy. And that is surprisingly simple.

John: So what do you advise that everyone should do now?

Durk: First know that if you live in a gated residential community, you have a very low chance of being robbed. But the internet is as if everyone lives in Watts in the 1960s, or South Chicago now.

John: You have to build your gates and walls.

Durk: Right. Now, you don’t have to be a perfectly hard target. There is no such thing as a perfectly hard target. The CIA got hacked for a lot of their extremely dangerous hacking tools which are now out in the public domain. If the CIA can get hacked, believe me you can get hacked too.

On the other hand, all you have to do is make yourself a much harder target than the value of what people can get out of you and you’re going to be left alone. They’re going to move on to somebody else who isn’t as tough. Which is most everybody.

John: Why are some of the phishing scams so blatantly stupid? Like a Craigslist price of $2,307 for a 2013 BMW. It’s obvious to anyone.

Durk: “Oh gee, I’m a Nigerian prince and I want to move $50 million to America and I’ll give you half of it if you help me.” Why are people trying a scam that’s so stupidly obvious?

The answer is very simple: These are competent and professional fraudsters. If somebody falls for the Nigerian prince thing, then they’ll be stupid enough to give the fraudsters their Social Security number, their bank account number, and their password.

With the Nigerian prince scam, the fraudsters get rid of the 99{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of the people that aren’t that stupid right away.

John: Ah. The more inane the fraud pitch is, the better the fraudsters target their market to the stupid. Doug, what’s your definition of stupidity again?

Doug: Stupidity, like intelligence, comes in a number of flavors. The most common definition of stupidity is “of low intelligence” – but that’s rather circular, like saying “slow” means “not very fast.”

I like to define “stupid” as the ability to see the immediate and direct consequences of actions, but the inability to see the delayed and indirect consequences.

Like most criminals, black-hat hackers never see the long-term consequences – like being hunted, being held in contempt by most of society, and probably landing in jail. Or indirect consequences – like destroying their self-respect. Among other things.

An even better definition of stupidity, applicable both to those who respond to the Nigerian prince scam as well as the Nigerian Prince himself, is “an unwitting tendency towards self-destruction.”

Even when criminals score high on IQ tests, they still fit this definition. So while computer criminals are undoubtedly smarter than street criminals, they’re still rather stupid in very important ways.

Durk: It’s relatively easy to protect yourself from being financially harmed in a hack.

The first rule here is, don’t let a million different companies have your credit card number. Almost every company is perfectly willing to deal with a debit card rather than a credit card. If you keep a small amount of spending money in a debit card account, then that’s the most you can lose. And if it’s not your fault, you’re probably going to be made good.

Second, you use encrypted wire transfers with your bank to make deposits. You see that little padlock up on the address line on your browser that says https rather than http? That’s an encrypted link.

Just make sure that you or your browser entered your bank’s internet URL. Don’t click on an email link that appears to have come from your bank, because it may be a fraudulent phishing email that takes you to a URL with an https connection and a padlock that is NOT really your bank but sure looks exactly like your bank’s internet page and likely will have a confusingly similar URL!

Read More @ CaseyResearch.com

The Market’s Got It Wrong

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by Jim Rickards, Daily Reckoning:

Janet Yellen’s mantra is, “It’s transitory!”

That’s Yellen’s typical response to a long litany of data that shows the U.S. is in the grip of a powerful disinflationary trend that may lead to outright deflation — a central banker’s worst nightmare.

The Fed has a publicly announced 2{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} inflation goal, which they consider to be price stability. In fact, 2{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} inflation cuts the purchasing power of the dollar by 75{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} in the course of an average lifetime. The Fed would tell you to ignore that.

Why 2{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} inflation is considered “price stability” is a subject for another day. For now, let’s just accept the Fed’s definition and see how the Fed responds from a policy perspective.

The Fed carves out food and energy prices from inflation. That gets to something called “core” inflation.

The Fed’s preferred metric is calculated monthly by the U.S. Commerce Department as the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) deflator. The Fed’s preferred interval is monthly data compared to the same month one year earlier, or “year-over-year,” YOY.

With a 2{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} target for PCE core YOY, what’s the actual time series of data? Here it is:

  • December 2016: 1.9{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}
  • January 2017: 1.9{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}
  • February 2017: 1.9{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}
  • March 2017: 1.6{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}
  • April 2017: 1.6{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}
  • May 2017: 1.5{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}
  • June 2017: 1.5{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}
  • July 2017: 1.4{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}
  • August 2017: 1.3{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}

An objective analyst would give the Fed credit for coming close to their target in late 2016. This is precisely why the Fed embarked on a path of rate hikes. The Fed raised interest rates in December 2016, March 2017 and June 2017.

The chart below is taken from a presentation given by Janet Yellen on September 26, 2017. The black horizontal line is the Fed’s 2{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} inflation target. The blue line represents actual PCE inflation; the red line represents PCE “core” inflation with food and energy prices removed, (the Fed’s preferred method). The downward trajectory of the red line should be disturbing to the Fed, but is routinely dismissed as “transitory.”

What happened next?

To answer that question, bear in mind that monetary policy works with a lag. That insight is one of Milton Friedman’s few economic contributions that has stood the test of time.

The Fed has been tightening in fits and starts since Bernanke’s “taper talk” in May 2013. This has resulted a consistent pattern in which Fed tightening slows the economy, then the Fed flips to ease, and the economy picks up steam, which leads to another round of tightening, and another slowdown.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

The Fed’s late 2016, early 2017 tightening cycle has now come home to roost. In the latest nine-month time series, shown above in the table and chart, inflation was flat or down in every month, and dropped a total of 0.6{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}.

Read More @ DailyReckoning.com

GOLD AND SILVER ADVANCE: GOLD UP $8.00 AND SILVER IS UP 23 CENTS

by Harvey Organ, Harvey Organ Blog:

COMEX GOLD OPEN INTEREST FALLS BY OVER 2,000 CONTRACTS BUT SILVER DOES THE REVERSE AS SILVER LONGS REFUSE TO BUDGE/TRUMP IN A SHOUTING MATCH WITH BOB CORKER WHICH WILL SEAL THE DEATH OF TAX REFORM/TRUMP HINTS AT WAR WITH NORTH KOREA/TOMORROW IS A BIG DAY FOR CATALONIA SPAIN/RELATIONS BETWEEN THE USA AND TURKEY AT AN ALL TIME LOW WITH ARRESTS WITH RESPECT TO EMBASSY OFFICIALS FROM BOTH COUNTRIES

GOLD: $1282.50 UP   $8.00

Silver: $16.93UP 23 CENT(S)

Closing access prices:

Gold $1284.80

silver: $16.98

SHANGHAI GOLD FIX:  FIRST FIX  10 15 PM EST  (2:15 SHANGHAI LOCAL TIME)

SECOND FIX:  2:15 AM EST  (6:15 SHANGHAI LOCAL TIME)

SHANGHAI FIRST GOLD FIX: $1300.79 DOLLARS PER OZ

NY PRICE OF GOLD AT EXACT SAME TIME:  $1281.60

PREMIUM FIRST FIX:  $19.19 (premiums getting larger)

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SECOND SHANGHAI GOLD FIX: $1300.79

NY GOLD PRICE AT THE EXACT SAME TIME: $1282.30

Premium of Shanghai 2nd fix/NY:$19.49 (PREMIUMS GETTING LARGER)  

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LONDON FIRST GOLD FIX:  5:30 am est  $1282.15

NY PRICING AT THE EXACT SAME TIME: $1281.90

LONDON SECOND GOLD FIX  10 AM: $1278.75

NY PRICING AT THE EXACT SAME TIME. 1279.90

For comex gold:

OCTOBER/

NOTICES FILINGS TODAY FOR OCT CONTRACT MONTH: 0 NOTICE(S) FORnilOZ.

TOTAL NOTICES SO FAR: 2329 FOR 232,900 OZ  (7.241TONNES)

For silver:

OCTOBER

 

 5 NOTICES FILED TODAY FOR

 

25,000  OZ/

Total number of notices filed so far this month: 390 for 1,950,000 oz

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

 

end

Let us have a look at the data for today

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In silver, the total open interest SURPRISINGLY ROSE BY A STRONG  1979 contracts from  184,165UP TO 186,144   WITH RESPECT TO FRIDAY’S TRADING (UP10 CENTS).  THE CROOKS TRIED TO COVER AS MUCH OF THEIR SILVER SHORTS AS POSSIBLE YESTERDAY BUT IT LOOKS LIKE THEY HAD NO SUCCESS..SO THEY TRIED ANOTHER RAID ON FRIDAY BUT THEIR PLAN WAS FOILED WITH THE NEWS THAT NORTH KOREA WAS PLANNING ANOTHER LONG RANGE MISSILE CAPABLE OF HITTING THE WEST COAST OF THE USA.

RESULT: A GOOD SIZED RISE IN OI COMEXWITH THE  10 CENT PRICE RISE AND CONSTANT TORMENT. IT SURE LOOKS LIKE OUR BANKERS FAILED AGAIN IN THEIR ATTEMPT TO COVER MUCH OF THEIR MASSIVE SILVER SHORTFALL SO ANOTHER RAID WAS ORCHESTRATED FRIDAY MORNING BUT THAT FAILED AS WELL ON THE NORTH KOREAN NEWS.

 In ounces, the OI is still represented by just UNDER 1 BILLION oz i.e.  0.931 BILLION TO BE EXACT or 133{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of annual global silver production (ex Russia & ex China).

FOR THE NEW FRONT OCT MONTH/ THEY FILED: 5 NOTICE(S) FOR 25,000OZ OF SILVER.

In gold, the open interest FELL BY A  MUCH LARGER THAN EXPECTED 2,591 CONTRACTS DESPITE THERISE in price of gold ($1.60 ) .  The new OI for the gold complex rests at 514,151. OUR BANKER FRIENDS WERE MILDLY SUCCESSFUL IN COVERING SOME OF THEIR GOLD SHORTS. THE BANKERS WERE REACHING FOR CAPITULATION ON FRIDAY BY CAUSING ANOTHER HUGE RAID ON GOLD AND SILVER BUT THAT WAS FOILED ON NEWS THAT NORTH KOREA WAS PLANNING ANOTHER LONG RANGE MISSILE LAUNCH.

 

Result: A GOOD SIZED DECREASE IN OI WITH THE RISE IN PRICE IN GOLD ($1.40) 

we had: 0 notice(s) filed upon for NIL oz of gold.

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With respect to our two criminal funds, the GLD and the SLV:

GLD:   

Tonight , ANOTHER BIG CHANGE  in gold inventory at the GLD/ this time A DEPOSIT OF 4.43 TONNES

Inventory rests tonight: 858.45 tonnes.

SLV

Today:  ANOTHER BIG change in inventory: ANOTHER DEPOSIT OF 1.227 MILLION OZ

INVENTORY RESTS AT 326.898 MILLION OZ

 

end

.

First, here is an outline of what will be discussed tonight:

1. Today, we had the open interest in silver ROSE BY2102 contracts from 184,165UP TO 186,144(AND now A LITTLE CLOSER TO THE NEW COMEX RECORD SET ON FRIDAY/APRIL 21/2017 AT 234,787) . IT  SEEMS THAT  OUR BANKERS WERE AGAIN UNSUCCESSFUL IN COVERING THEIR SILVER SHORTS. OUR BANKER’S ATTEMPTED RAID ON FRIDAY WAS ABORTED ONNEWS THAT NORTH KOREA WAS PLANNING A MISSILE LAUNCH CAPABLE OF HITTING THE WEST COAST OF THE USA AND THAT PUT AN END TO THE WHACKING.

RESULT:  A GOOD SIZED INCREASE IN SILVER OI  AT THE COMEX WITH THE TINY RISE IN PRICE OF 10 CENTS WITH RESPECT TO FRIDAY’S TRADING. OUR BANKER FRIENDS WERE UNSUCCESSFUL IN THEIR ATTEMPT TO COVER ANY OF OUR SILVER SHORTS AS THEIRRAID WAS ABORTED ON THE KOREAN NEWS.

(report Harvey)

.

2.a) The Shanghai and London gold fix report

(Harvey)

 

2 b) Gold/silver trading overnight Europe, Goldcore

(Mark O’Byrne/zerohedge

and in NY:  Bloomberg

3. ASIAN AFFAIRS

i)Late SUNDAY night/MONDAY morning: Shanghai closed up 25.43 points or .76{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} /Hang Sang CLOSED down 131.45 pts or .46{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} / The Nikkei closed /Australia’s all ordinaires CLOSED UP 0.48{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528}/Chinese yuan (ONSHORE) closed upat 6.6240/Oil DOWN to 49,46 dollars per barrel for WTI and 55.54 for Brent. Stocks in Europe OPENED GREEN EXCEPT FTSE .  ONSHORE YUAN CLOSED UP AGAINST THE DOLLAR AT 6.6240. OFFSHORE YUAN CLOSED STRONGER TO THE ONSHORE YUAN AT 6.6197 AND BOTH YUANS ARE STRONGER AGAINST THE DOLLAR. CHINA IS VERY HAPPY TODAY

Read More @ HarveyOrganBlog.com

Another Major Disaster Hits The U.S. – A Massive ‘Firestorm’ Is Burning Tens Of Thousands Of Acres In Northern California

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By Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:

The nation is still reeling from a series of major disasters in recent weeks, and now another one has hit us.  At this moment, an enormous “firestorm” is consuming tens of thousands of acres in eight counties in northern California. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph are rapidly driving 15 large wildfires across Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Nevada, Calaveras and Butte counties, and the devastation that is taking place is being described as “like Armageddon”.  Ultimately, it looks like this is going to be one of the worst months for wildfires in the history of the state, and all of this comes on the heels of Hurricane HarveyHurricane Irma and the Las Vegas shooting.  Ever since late August, it seems like all hell has broken loose in America.

So far at least 1,500 structures have been destroyed, at least 20,000 people have been evacuated and at least 73,000 acres have been burned.  The smell of smoke has reached San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco, and California Governor Jerry Brown has officially declared a state of emergency.

If these wildfires were just consuming isolated parts of northern California, this wouldn’t be such a big story.  The reason why this crisis is getting so much attention from the national media is because some of these fires are raging “unchecked through high-end resorts, grocery stores and tree-lined neighborhoods”

More than a dozen wildfires whipped by powerful winds swept through California wine country Monday, destroying at least 1,500 homes and businesses and sending thousands fleeing as flames raged unchecked through high-end resorts, grocery stores and tree-lined neighborhoods.

As he fled through the ember-stewn streets of his neighborhood in Santa Rosa, Jeff Okrepkie knew it was probably the last time he would see his home of the past five years standing.

His worst fears were confirmed Monday morning, when a friend sent him a photo of what was left: a smoldering heap of burnt metal and debris.

Could you imagine how helpless you would feel if you were forced to evacuate and you knew that your home and everything that you owned was about to be consumed by fire?

That is what thousands of northern Californians are facing right now.  In fact, many are getting out with so little time to spare that they can literally feel the heat from the flames as they drive away

“It was an inferno like you’ve never seen before,” said Marian Williams, who caravanned with neighbors before dawn as one of the wildfires reached the vineyards and ridges at her small Sonoma County town of Kenwood.

Ms Williams could feel the heat of her fire through the car as she fled. “Trees were on fire like torches,” she said.

At this point, Santa Rosa appears to be getting hit worse than just about anywhere else.

According to Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott, one major neighborhood within the city has already been completely destroyed

When winds pushed the Tubbs fire into Santa Rosa on Sunday night, it created “a firestorm within a city,” Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott said.

“It’s fair to say it’s been destroyed,” Pimlot said of Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood. Hotels, a big box store and a high school burned as the flames danced around the 101 Freeway.

“Late last night starting around 10 o’clock you had 50-60 mph winds that surfaced — really across the whole northern half of the state,” he said. “Every spark is going to ignite.”

Authorities are telling us that the big box store that was destroyed was a Kmart, and the hotel that was burned to the ground was a Hilton.  But even more disturbing was what happened to Journey’s End retirement community

In Santa Rosa, the fire gutted a Hilton hotel and flattened the Journey’s End retirement community, a trailer park not far from the freeway that crosses the city. Most of the trailers were leveled, leaving a smoldering debris field of household appliances, filing cabinets and the charred personal effects of more than 100 residents. Pieces of ash fell like snowflake flurries, and a pall of white smoke across the city blotted out the sun.

Insurance will cover the Kmart and the Hilton, but it is probably fair to say that a lot of the people living in that trailer park did not have adequate coverage.

Sadly, many of them will now be forced to start over with essentially nothing.

Read More @ TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com

Media Pushes Narrative Vegas Gunman “Loved Conspiracy Theories,” Questioned 9/11

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by Matt Agorist, Activist Post:

As police frantically continue to find a motive for the Las Vegas murderer, both sides of the political spectrum — equally as frantic — search for anything that ties him to their political foes. Now it appears that there is a new narrative surfacing from multiple outlets that Stephen Paddock was a conspiracy theorist who thought 9/11 was an inside job.

Rest assured, if police had any evidence linking this murderous psychopath to an extreme right, extreme left, or terrorist group, this would’ve been made public by now. We have seen an unprecedented length of time go by, not only without surveillance footage but with no hints as to why Paddock shot into a crowd of 22,000 innocent people. However, it looks like this may start to change.

According to the Daily Mail, a prostitute who Paddock hired repeatedly has allegedly come forward with some rather nefarious claims.

A Las Vegas prostitute who was hired by murderer Stephen Paddock has spoken out about their ‘violent’ sex sessions and how he bragged about having ‘bad blood’.

The woman, who spoke anonymously, said she would spend hours drinking and gambling in Sin City with Paddock, who she described as ‘paranoid’ and ‘obsessive’.

If he hit a winning streak, he would take her back to his room for ‘really aggressive and violent sex’ including living out rape fantasies, she said.

While violent rape fantasies from a mass murderer surely fit the bill, the idea that questioning the official government story on 9/11 is somehow an indication that someone may go on a killing spree is as asinine as it is dangerous. However, this is what’s happening right now in the media.

The 27-year-old woman said Paddock, 64, would often rant about conspiracy theories including how 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government.

After failing to tie Paddock to the left, right, and ISIS, the media is now reaching out to tie him to those who question the government.

It is important to note that most people who question the State do so out of a desire to prevent death, not foster it. People who questioned the narrative of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq did so because they wanted to prevent a war in which many would die. However, they were labeled as kooks and conspiracy theorists by the establishment—despite being proven right years later.

This is nothing new.

In fact, in spite having no real reason to go after ‘conspiracy theorists’, the government has a long history of infiltrating groups and labeling those who question the status quo as a threat. It even has a name: PATCON, short for “Patriot Conspiracy.”

Indeed, much of the police state which has risen up around the country is in response to the essentially non-existent threat from those who want to expose the crimes of the State who are labeled as extremist groups. YouTube and Google have even gotten in on the action and have moved to censor evidence of US war crimes and historical footage of war.

Read More @ ActivistPost.com

Why Would Saudi King Visit Russia

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by Petr Lvov, New Eastern Outlook:

Last week Moscow was visited by Saudi ruler Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud accompanied by an entourage of a hundred people carried out in order to hold meetings with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Several rounds of negotiations were held with the Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, the Minister of Energy along with the head of the sovereign foundation of the Kingdom who is in charge of Riyadh’s overseas investments. From the beginning it was clear as to why the Saudi king would decide to come to Moscow for the first time since 1926. Only two matters are of any importance to Riyadh today: Iran and its policies in the region and collective oil pricing. Everything else is treated as secondary concerns by Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis do fear Tehran, since they believe that Shia influence is growing across the region, as the Islamic Republic of Iran implements a plan to create a Shia arc that would unite Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia that is home to a Shia minority. Riyadh is truly concerned about the close bilateral relations that exist between Russia and Iran, especially in the field of military cooperation. For over a decade Riyadh has been trying to persuade Moscow to cut all military ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran in exchange for massive purchases of arms that were allegedly to be made by Saudi Arabia in Russia. When Moscow supported anti-Iranian sanctions within the UN framework in 2010 and refused to fulfill its obligation to deliver S-300 anti-air systems to the armed forces of Iran, Saudi Arabia failed to fulfill its own obligations. Predictably, there’s been no other investments from Saudi Arabia in other areas of the Russian economy.

In 2013, Russia was visited by the head of Saudi special services, Prince Bandar who promised President Putin to “neutralize” all terrorist threats during the Sochi Olympics and authorize the purchase of Russian weapons in Saudi Arabia, along with investing billions of dollars in the Russian economy. In exchange he wanted Russia to abandon its support of Iran, especially in Syria. Regardless, Russia’s south still saw an abrupt increase in terrorist attacks.

The development of economic ties with Saudi Arabia has been lobbied for by the Russian Direct Investment Fund under Vneshekonombank, which was created to attract investments from the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf (GCC). For six years, its head would travel across the six GCC member states, but all he was able to receive were empty promises from a number of officials, including those from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait. And it was not until early 2017 that Russia’s standing with the GCC states began to improve, primarily due to the agreement on the regulation of oil prices between Moscow and Riyadh that was struck within the OPEC framework. A big role in this was played by Russia’s Minister of Energy Alexander Novak who eventually helped arrange King Salman’s possible visit to Moscow. The visit was also triggered by an internal crisis within the GCC which broke out last June. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and a number of Arab countries abruptly broke all ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and extremism. The defeat that foreign-sponsored militants suffered in Syria has also played a role in this visit, as did the failures of the Saudi military coalition in Yemen, where the Iranian-backed Houthis have managed to organize fierce resistance. All of these factors continue draining Saudi Arabia’s treasury.

US President Trump stopped Riyadh from staging a coup d’etat in Doha, forcing Riyadh to play the Russian card yet again. Yet still, no serious analyst can believe that Saudi Arabia, whose security depends on the US, would seek any serious cooperation with Moscow. Washington has been keen to bring down Putin and the political order he represents at any cost, and it’s unlikely that it will allow Russia’s economy to be buoyed by financial investments from Saudi Arabia.

The strategic task of Saudi Arabia is the maximum isolation of Iran, which means that Riaydh is engaged in yet another attempt to lure Russian leaders with generous promises in attempts to achieve some sort of distance between Moscow and Tehran. To achieve this goal, the Saudis are ready for an enormous bluff. Most likely, they do not need Russian anti-air systems, which the Saudi king promised to purchase. But if the purchases may allow Saudi Arabia to achieve its main task – why wouldn’t they buy the S-400 systems? Moreover, the Saudis can also agree to a Russian zone of influence in Syria if Iranian elements are to be forced out of this state completely.

Saudi investments in the Russian economy is a part of the same attempts to lure Russia into turning its back on Tehran. The Saudi treasury is almost empty at this point and Riyadh still has to buy 100 billion dollars worth of arms as its officials promised to PresidentTrump during his visit to Saudi Arabia last summer. As of now, Riyadh promises to buy 3 billion dollars worth of weapons in Russia. If we are to compare this number with 110 billion dollars worth of US arms, one can notice that Saudi Arabia is planning to buy 30 times more weapons from US manufacturers. Similarly, while 10 billion dollars are allegedly to be invested in the Russian economy, Saudi Arabia is investing more that a trillion dollars in the US economy.

Read More @ Journal-NEO.org

The Consent of the Conned

by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds:

Every single line item in our entire Bernie Madoff scam of a system is cooked.

My theme this week is The Great Unraveling, by which I mean the unraveling of our social-political-economic system of hierarchical, centralized power. Let’s start by looking at how the basis of governance has transmogrified from consent of the governed to consent of the conned.

In effect, our leadership leads by lying. As we know, when it gets serious, you have to lie to preserve the perquisites and power of those atop the wealth-power pyramid, and well, it’s serious all the time now, so lies are the default setting of the entire status quo.

But all too many of us are willing to accept the lies because they’re what we want to hear.

As any competent con-man knows, you can only con those who want to be conned. You can only scam the marks who want to believe that what’s obviously too good to be true is in fact true.

The story of scams such as Bernie Madoff’s isn’t that canny Bernie victimized helpless wealthy people; the untold story is that all those “victims” wanted to believe that something that was obviously too good to be true–incredibly high returns, logged month after month and year after year like clockwork–was in fact true because their greed made them more than just vulnerable to being scammed–they wanted to be bamboozled by Bernie.

Victims of scams naturally deny their own culpability. It’s extremely uncomfortable to admit that greed didn’t just blind us to a patently impossible yield; we wanted to be conned because it felt so wonderful to believe we richly deserved unearned wealth.

All wealth is “earned” to those doing the skimming. The greatest con machine of all time, Wall Street, judiciously refers to every skim and scam as “earnings.”

And so the “victims” blame our lying leaders for telling them what they want to hear. You see how the webs of self-interest reinforce each other: those atop the wealth-power pyramid secure their position by lying persuasively enough to gain The Consent of the Conned–those who give their consent to a visibly corrupt and unsustainable status quo because that status quo is promising to provide too good to be true goodies.

In other words, the lies are constantly compounding: the leadership lies to themselves– we have to lie to keep everything glued together for the good of the people–when their real motivation is to keep the system glued together because the system gives them wealth and power.

If we can be honest for a moment, we might admit that representational democracy encourages leaders to issue too good to be true promises because those promises win votes.

Those on the bottom of the wealth-power pyramid accept the too good to be true assurances because that’s exactly want we want to hear: that we all deserve a piece of the unearned wealth that, like Bernie Madoff’s painfully impossible scam, flows in permanent abundance via some sort of financial magic.

The books are cooked, people; we embrace a gigantic too good to be trueBernie Madoff scam of a system because it’s what we want to believe and what we want to hear. Then, when the whole phantom-wealth con collapses in a heap, we quickly pull on the tattered cloak of victimhood: we were promised, we were lied to, we trusted our leaders to lead us wisely, and so on, as if the con wasn’t obvious to anyone who was skeptical of too good to be true claims.

Now that the whole Bernie Madoff scam of a system is unraveling, two self-reinforcing dynamics are in play: our leadership, elected and unelected alike, are doubling down on the lies because there is no alternative–TINA. What does a liar gain by confessing the whole prosperity thing is illusory, and darn it, we can only spend what we produce in real-world surplus? Short answer: nothing, because that’s not going to win elections or gain the consent of the governed.

So lies are piled on lies to the point of absurdity. But just as Bernie Madoff’s wealthy marks ignored the warnings of the skeptical and mounting evidence that they were being conned, the electorate wants to believe the magical thinking is real, and so they accept the latest statistical flim-flammery as “proof” that the con is not a con.

Once again, we worship the Goddess TINA–there is no alternative. Just as our leaders are now trapped in their web of lies and false assurances, the governed are also trapped in the con because it’s too painful and unnerving to admit we’ve willingly bought into a complete con: we’re too smart to be conned, we protest; look, it’s not a con, the GDP is growing and unemployment is low–and so on.

Bernie Madoff’s marks made the same defensive protests: it can’t be a con, look at my statement: the monthly “earnings” keep pouring in.

The books are cooked, folks, at every level of our Bernie Madoff scam of a system: the federal books are cooked; state, county and city books are cooked; corporate books are cooked; the statistical metrics are all cooked; the projections are cooked, and the estimates are cooked.

Every single line item in our entire Bernie Madoff scam of a system is cooked.Wanting to believe a con is true doesn’t make it true. The power of a con rests in our great desire to believe that what’s too good to be true is magically true. It isn’t, but it feel so reassuring and, well, deserved for it to be true.

Read More @ OfTwoMinds.com