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Daily Archives: February 1, 2014

Celente Warns Of Coming Riots: “The Collapse Is Engulfing The World”

Celente Warns Of Coming Riots: “The Collapse Is Engulfing The World”.

riots-engulf-world

He accurately predicted the trends that have shaped the last decade. Ahead of the collapse of 2008 his Trends Journal newsletter issued a forecast that stock markets, which had just hit all time highs, would buckle in the first quarter of the year and that an unprecedented recession would blanket the global economy. He said the decline in  financial markets would then be followed by disillusionment in America’s political and economic systems, leading to the rise of a third-party and widespread protests across America. And while officials the country over tried to assuage fears in the populace, he cautioned that the middle class would continue to be destroyed through taxation, regulation and fiscal incompetence.

His foresight was 20/20.

Now, renowned trend forecaster Gerald Celente warns that, despite establishment claims of recovery and growth, things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Celente isn’t suggesting that a massive collapse is going to happen in the future.

He says we’re already in it – and it’s taking hold right before our eyes across the entirety of the globe:

This selloff in the emerging markets, with their currencies going down and their interest rates going up, it’s going to be disastrous and there are going to be riots everywhere…

So as the decline in their economies accelerates, you are going to see the civil unrest intensify.

If you want to know a business that will thrive in 2014, it may well beguillotines because these are ‘Off with their heads’ moments.

Meanwhile, they just passed laws in Spain to stop people from protesting.  But all the laws in the world do not feed starving people. All the laws in the world do not put roofs over people’s heads. 

That’s why you are going to see heads roll.

you can already see chaos engulfing the world as the Fed’s global financial scheme is collapsing.  This collapse is engulfing the entire world, from Russia, to South Africa, into China and emerging markets across the globe. 

Full Interview at King World News (also available in audio broadcast)
via Steve Quayle

Should protesters in the U.S. threaten the status quo in any way they will be dealt with like the people who took to the streets in the Ukraine, Egypt, Iran, and Greece.

In fact, a Federal court recently upheld Congressional legislation passed in 2012 that allowed the herding of protestors into so-called “free speech” zones, and to charge those who assemble at “official functions” designated as areas of “national significance” with federal crimes punishable by one year in prison.

Under that verbiage, that means a peaceful protest outside a candidate’s concession speech would be a federal offense…

Carefully controlled protests involving individuals who have been bused in by their respective political party or union leaders are often televised by the mainstream media in an effort to give Americans a false sense of freedom.

When these protests turn to uprising and riots because millions of people can no longer keep a roof over their heads or food in their bellies, you can bet that those involved will be dealt with swiftly and behind the cloak of terrorism secrecy laws like the National Defense Authorization Act which essentially gives the government the right to detain anyone, for any reason, for an indefinite amount of time.

But the real question here is, why would the government need laws like this?

Why would they be war-gaming and simulating economic collapse scenarios and civil unrest?

Why are they continuing to borrow trillions of dollars from foreign creditors and injecting the domestic economy with tens of billions of dollars on a monthly basis?

The only plausible answer, given the current economic climate in America and sentiment on Main Street, is that the authorities at the highest levels of our government know that something very bad could happen.

And they confirmed this in two letters issued by two different Treasury Secretaries over the last several years. Most recently, the Treasury department noted that failure to satiate our nation’s never ending appetite for debt would have a “catastrophic effect” on our economy:

Credit markets could freeze, the value of the dollar could plummet, US interest rates could skyrocket, the negative spillovers could reverberate around the world, and there might be a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.

Not only might the economic consequences of default be profound, but those consequences, including high interest rates, reduced investment, higher debt payments, and slow economic growth, could last for more than a generation…

The fall-out from our current economic climate is going to be unprecedented. For those who deny this is happening, understand that the above warning comes directly from our Treasury Department. They’re the money guys. And they are telling us what’s going to happen.

And be assured it won’t just be stock markets that drop precipitously.

What we’re talking about here is the collapse of the economy of the United States of America – the richest nation on Earth. 

The consequences will be devastating on every level and those of us on Main Street will be taking the brunt of the impact.

Imagine a situation where jobs continue to be shed by the hundreds of thousands every month without abatement. A situation where the price of basic essentials like energy and food rise without restraint. A situation where medical care is so expensive that average Americans will go bankrupt trying to pay for government mandated coverage. A situation where whatever money you do have in savings becomes worthless because our currency loses credibility around the world.

This is what’s happening right now.

The scary version: There is no way to turn this around. It’s just going to get progressively worse.

If you haven’t taken steps to prepare – to insulate yourself for an economic end of the world as we know it – then life for you and your family is going to be horrific.

This is the depression.

Argentina Scrambles To Raise $10 Billion, Avoid Reserve Collapse; BONARs Bidless | Zero Hedge

Argentina Scrambles To Raise $10 Billion, Avoid Reserve Collapse; BONARs Bidless | Zero Hedge.

A few days ago, in the aftermath of Argentina’s shocking devaluation announcement, we showed the one most important chart for the future of that country’s economy: the correlation between the value of the Arg Peso and the amount of Central Bank foreign reserves, both crashing. And as we predicted when we, before anyone else, started our countdown of Argentina’s reserves, once the number hits zero it’s game over for the Latin American country. Or rather, game over again, considering the number of times in the past Argentina has defaulted. Unfortunately over the past week, things for the Central Bank have gone from bad to worse and were capped overnight with the following headline:

  • ARGENTINE CENTRAL BANK SAYS RESERVES FELL $170M TO 28.1B TODAY

To summarize: Argentina has now burned through $2 billion in less than two weeks, the fastest outflow since 2006, and a trend which if sustained (and we see no reason why it would change), means it has just over half a year left of reserves projecting a linear decline. However, since the lower the amount of reserves, the faster the withdrawals will come, it is safe to predict that the endgame for Argentina will come far sooner, just as its suddenly crashing bonds seem to have realized.

Which is perhaps why, as Argentina’s La Nacion reports, the country is suddenly, and long overdue, scrambling to raise $10 billion to “counter the flight of capital” from the country.

 Alas, it just may be too late.

According to the website, Argentina’s economy minister Axel Kicillof secretly approached international banks, the same one he has been criticizing over the past months, with a simple request: please give me $10 billion. Alas, considering the country’s track record of “honoring” its debt repayment promises, not even promising the required interest rate of +? will do much to generate interest in this particular offer banks can not refuse. Or, rather, can and will.

From La Nacion, Google translated:

Nacion reporters say that the meeting was held in strictest confidence, just in the days before major upheaval in the exchange market. When asked about it, the Economy Ministry spokesman did not confirm nor denied the information, in ABA did not respond to calls from this newspaper.

 

It is imperative for Argentina to get the dollars that can counter the flight of capital, which in January alone cost the Central Bank (BCRA) U.S. $ 2.499 billion of its reserves. It was the biggest drop since 2006, when the country repaid its entire debt of more than U.S. $ 9 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 

The minister confided bankers requesting leave to look for dollars abroad, either by issuing new debt or through commercial credit lines that banks could get. Some entities, according to sources consulted by the NATION, and would have set to work to organize a tour to Kicillof investment to New York this month.

In other words, Argentina will be meeting Goldman shortly. So, in the aftermath of the Denmark Dong affair, we can probably expect another government “overhaul” in a few months, mediated by everyone’s favorite vampire squid who is about to make Argentina an offer it can’t refuse. Or maybe even Goldman won’t touch this any more:

The order of Kicillof, noted the sources, was debated this week between ABA bankers. Although they pledged to work in private they also recognized that it will be difficult in the current context for Argentina to access fresh funding at a reasonable rate of interest and, especially, in the amounts the Government needs, somewhere around U.S. $ 10,000 million.

It gets worse:

In addition, they assert, although the Government intends to solve their conflicts with the Paris Club and Repsol, the devaluation of 18.6% recorded in January, the highest in the last 12 years,quite complicated negotiations, and that sowed new doubts about the ability to repay debt Argentina.

Yes, well, losing 20% of your investment “gains” overnight due to an arbitrary decision by the government does kinda make one want to invest in said government for a bit to quite a bit. As for the inflationary panic that has already gripped the country, and which we already commented on, well – it’s only just begun.

Still, all of the above is largely expected, and was perfectly predictable by anyone not caught up in overconsumption of hopium pills, or having their head stuck in the sand of denial. The one thing wedid learn is something which will soon make the front pages of all serious media publications around the globe.

After sharp declines in recent weeks, a sovereign dollar bond Bonar 17 yielded 16.2% yesterday…. Several weeks ago Kicillof announced his intentions to return to the debt markets. The National Social Security Administration (Anses) began in early January to sell their bonds in the market Bonar 18 to contain the escalation of the “dollar bag” on one hand, but also to begin to make a curve in the medium term rates.

Curious what the BONAR is?  Courtesy of this handy glossary of Argentine financial terms and acronyms, we now know that it is the formal name of an Argentina dollar-denominated bond issued under domestic law. Or, as in the case of Greece, precisely the instrument that will quite soon be crammed down due to non-existent covenant protection for creditors.

In other words, in a worst case for Argentina scenario, watch as hundreds of millions of BONARs suddenly deflate to nothing in a bidless market.

Elected Despotism | Judicial Watch

Elected Despotism | Judicial Watch.

On Tuesday night, January 28, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address. After experiencing the shenanigans over the last five years, nothing said in the speech surprised me. I saw the same defiance and arrogance – the same disregard for the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution – that have characterized the Obama years from day one.

But when I read through the media’s post-game analysis, I could not help but think: What speech were they watching!?

Consider The Hill newspaper, which commended the president for his “genial tone” and for “praising” some of his “long-time foes.” The speech was “less partisan and pointed than many expected,” The Hill reported.

Yes, Obama tossed out a few bones to the Republican leadership. But does this indicate a policy shift toward reason and respect for the rule of law? No, it does not.

And does it really matter if the president uses his polite words when he describes how he is going to continue to completely undermine the U.S. Constitution? Not to most Americans.

As The Hill described: “Obama promised to unleash a torrent of new executive actions.” In the president’s own words [Emphasis added]:

“What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you.”

“But America does not stand still — and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Americans want: for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations.”

All this follows President Obama’s thinly veiled threat issued earlier this month prior to a cabinet meeting: “I have a pen and I have a phone,” the president said, noting that he would not wait for Congress to act.

(By the way, that “year of action” sounds like a Marxist revolutionary dog whistle to me.)

Perhaps the best spin on the president’s imperialistic speech came from Politico:  “Obama didn’t entirely ignore Congress.” [Emphasis added.]

Oh, well that’s a comfort.

Folks, do you see the emptiness in President Obama’s expressed willingness to “work with Congress?” What kind of negotiation can there be when the president has stated that he will act unilaterally if he doesn’t get his way?

And “genial tone” notwithstanding, we don’t have to pay much attention to what Barack Obama says anymore, except to ascertain threats to the Constitution and the rule of law. After an endless stream of broken promises, he has no credibility left. We simply must look at what Barack Obama has done.

Let’s take just one example: Congress, with the full support of the American people, rebuffed the president’s illegal alien amnesty legislative initiatives. After attempts to “work with Congress” failed, Obama implemented amnesty via executive fiat.  Sure, he dressed it up in bureaucratic-speak, “selective deportation,” “deferred action,” etc., but at the end of the day, illegal aliens were allowed to stay in the country despite living here in defiance of the law, some of them dangerous criminals.

Then stealth amnesty became official Obama policy. And now it might just become the law of the land, if press reports about the Republican Party’s plans to cave on the issue are to be believed.

Here’s another example:  On January 16 alone, President Obama signed 23 executive orders designed, as Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), stated to “poke holes in the Second Amendment.”  Reuter’s called it the “biggest gun control push in generations.” And Congress had no say in the matter.

This is the “Chicago Way.” And we are about to see it run rampant in Washington over the next three years on every issue under the sun. That’s the message I get from the president’s speech and the president’s “executive actions.”

When it comes to encapsulating the danger Barack Obama and the Chicago Way represents to our country and our way of life, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) put it best in an opinion column he penned for The Wall Street Journal:  “Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat.”  (This is a worthwhile read, so take a look if you have the time.)

Let me close with this. The president has called for a “year of action.” So let’s give him what he’s asking for.  Let’s not simply complain about the corruption and lawlessness. Let’s take every single action we can to confront the Obama threat to our Constitution. You see, this is what I love so much about the work we do at Judicial Watch.  We refuse to serve as spectators to the country’s demise under this president, or any president. We take action.  We file lawsuits. We investigate. We publicize the results of our work. In a word, we are relentless.

Will you join us in our pursuit of justice against Obama corruption?  Please click here if that’s a yes!

Judicial Watch Challenges Obama Administration’s Attack on Religious Freedom with High Court Brief

The monstrosity that is Obamacare is offensive for too many reasons to count. I’ve detailed many of them in this space. From the mandate to purchase insurance, to the taxpayer dollars used to fund Obamacare propaganda, to the numerous times the president has rewritten his own law in furtherance of his political interests – and in defiance, I might add, of the limits to his power as articulated in the U.S. Constitution.

But among all of these offenses, one that many Americans find most objectionable is the provision of the law that requires employers to provide contraceptive and abortifacient services for women – a provision that is now under consideration by the nation’s High Court. Judicial Watch jumped into the legal fray this week by filing a Supreme Court amicus curiae brief.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court ruled just days ago that a group of Colorado nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, could have a temporary reprieve from the contraception mandate while they fight the law in court. But what if you are a for-profit company that also objects to contraception due to religious beliefs? No such luck. This administration thinks business owners aren’t protected by the First Amendment.

And that’s what happened to Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain with 588 stores nationwide as well as an online presence. The beliefs of this company are clear: life begins at conception. And yet, under Obamacare, this company would be forced to provide contraception and abortifacients in violation of these religious beliefs.

This flagrant violation of religious freedom is the reason the company is fighting the law in court, reaching all the way to the Supreme Court. (Fox News reports that there are at least 40 other lawsuits from other companies challenging the law.)

And it’s the reason why we are right there with them.

As JW makes clear in its Supreme Court brief, the Obama administration is in clear violation of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which, in accordance with the First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion, prohibits the federal government from substantially burdening religious exercise without compelling justification.

Terming the Department of Health & Human Service’s (HHS) mandate an “unprecedented grab for power,” the Judicial Watch’s amicusbrief argues:

The challenged regulation … is not simply the consequence of poor political choices; it is the product of a dangerous entanglement of Congress and an Executive agency that ultimately tramples on religious liberties.

In an unprecedented grab for power, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has not only unilaterally authored, enacted, and changed the contraceptive mandate, but it now seeks to redefine a separate act of Congress – the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – to preserve its power grab. This simply cannot stand.

We also argue that the owners of Hobby Lobby and other businesses should not have to choose between “fidelity to [their] faith or the imposition of unimaginable fines.” The brief also reminds the Court of James Madison’s words in the Federalist Papers:  “an elective despotism was not the government we fought for.”

JW hopes the Supreme Court upholds the lower court ruling in this case. In June 2013, Hobby Lobby won a victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, resulting in the Obama administration petitioning the Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court agreed to review the Hobby Lobby case in November, and is expected to begin hearing oral arguments in March with a ruling by late June.

Here’s a statement I offered to the press in connection with the filing of our brief:

What is at stake in this case is the First Amendment right to religious freedom. It is a pivotal battle in the Obama administration’s War on Religion. This Obama assault, through Obamacare, on the Christian Church is without modern precedent. To force Americans to violate their consciences or lose their livelihoods must be met with strenuous resistance by the Supreme Court. James Madison’s warning against “elective despotism” could not be more apt in describing the crisis caused by this Obama administration anti-Christian policy.

Now as this case works towards ultimate resolution in June, members of Congress are also weighing in with dueling briefs.  This week 19 Democratic Senators filed a brief “arguing that ‘secular’ businesses should not be exempt from the mandate,” reports Fox News. (We’ve already countered that argument.)

Some Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have a different view: “The ability to practice the faith we choose is one of our great constitutional rights. The Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate stomps on that right,” Sen. David Vitter said in a statement as he joined Ted Cruz, R-Texas; John Cornyn, R-Texas; and Mike Lee, R-Utah in filing a brief of their own.

Folks, this threat to our God-given liberties is happening because lawless leftists in the Obama administration have seized control of our healthcare, leaving personal health decisions in the hands of Washington politicians and bureaucratic committees.

The Supreme Court should rule by June.

Judicial Watch Fights Cover-Up of “Air Obama” Taxpayer-Funded Vacations

I close this week with more news from Judicial Watch’s investigation of “Air Obama.”

Many Americans have been forced to put their own vacation plans on hold due to a sputtering economy.  A recent Harris poll indicated that 34% of Americans have held back on travel because they are worried about the bleak economic outlook.

But the sacrifices of the American people notwithstanding, the First Family seems to have no trouble asking taxpayers to foot the bill for their lavish vacations. I’ve documented some of these trips in previous Weekly Updates, most recently just last week, when I reported that a JW investigation showed that Obama/Biden President’s Day vacations cost taxpayers $295,437.

This week, I report to you that JW has amped up its investigations of “Air Obama,” filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Defense to obtain records detailing the amount of government funds spent on seven separate lavish trips taken by Barack Obama and the Obama family throughout 2013.

The Secret Service Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, pursuant to a series of FOIA requests from June to August 2013, seeksinformation from the Secret Service about “the use of U.S. Government funds to provide security and other services” to:

  • “First Lady Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, and any companions on a June 2013 trip to Ireland.”
  • “President Barack Obama and any companions on a June – July 2013 trip to Africa.”
  • “First Lady Michelle Obama and any companions on a Summer 2012 trip to London, England for the Olympics.”
  • “President Barack Obama and any companions on a December 2012 trip to Honolulu, Hawaii.”
  • “President Barack Obama and any companions on an August 2013 trip to California.”
  • “President Barack Obama and any companions on an August 2013 trip to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.”

The Secret Service failed to substantively respond to these FOIA requests, and has effectively shut down Judicial Watch’s inquiries about First Family travel.

On January 13, Judicial Watch filed a separate FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense seeking further “records concerningFirst Lady Michelle Obama’s June 2013 trip to Ireland.”

Let’s take these trips one by one to cover what we know so far according to press reports.

  • With the Ireland trip, after a brief stop in Belfast, where the President was taking part in a G-8 summit, the First Lady departed on her own, apparently aboard Air Force Two, for her side trip to Dublin. According to WashingtonDossier.comthough the White House claimed the trip was for diplomatic purposes the itinerary showed, “She and her daughters will visit the Trinity College library to explore President Obama’s Irish family roots, attend a performance by the world-famous Riverdance troupe, and visit the Wicklow Mountains national forest.”
  • In a June, 2013, article, on Michelle Obama’s trip to Ireland, the Washington Times reported, “The cost of the two-day trip in Ireland and Northern Ireland has been estimated at around $5 million. U.S. taxpayers pay the cost of the first family’s travel.” The Times reported that the First Lady stayed at a $3,300-per-night hotel suite in Dublin and enjoyed a “typical Irish lunch” with U2 frontman Bono.”
  • In June, 2013 Fox News reported that the President Obama’s July trip to Africa “with the first family tagging along,” was projected to cost taxpayers an estimated $100 million. According to a confidential planning document obtained by the Washington Post, “Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bullet­proof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts, giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace, so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close.”
  • According to Examiner.com , on First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2012 trip to the London Olympics, she “was seen taking shopping sprees through London and sporting a $6,800 jacket to a reception, on a trip paid with taxpayer funds.” In January, 2012, Judicial Watch obtained records from the Department of Defense revealing that the Obama’s 2009 trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, in a failed effort to secure the 2016 Olympics for the city of Chicago, cost in excess of $467,175.
  • Barack Obama’s vacations to Honolulu, Hawaii, have been estimated by the Hawaii Reporterto cost the taxpayers an annual average of $4 million. But, according to WashingtonDossier.com, the 2012 Hawaii vacation may have cost even more: “This year, Obama returned from Hawaii to complete a deal on the Fiscal Cliff and then jetted back to Honolulu, where he is now engaged in Part 2 of his vacation. The second roundtrip flight added about $3.24 million to the tab this time, bringing the cost of the 2012-1013 vacation to well over $7 million.” The White House has failed to provide exact figures.
  • While the total cost of Barack Obama’s August, 2013 trip to California, where he appeared on The Tonight Show, is still being withheld, the Washington Timesreported, “At $180,000 per flight hour to operate the presidential aircraft, the trip cost taxpayers more than $1.8 million just for the flying time to California and back. That doesn’t include two 50-minute flights in California on Marine One, the presidential helicopter; or the cost of lodging dozens of White House staffers and Secret Service agents overnight, or the cost of 20-vehicle motorcades at the various stops.”
  • In August, 2013, the Obama family vacationed in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where, according to U.S. News & World Report, “At a time when many more cash-strapped Americans are stuck at home instead of vacationing at the beach, President Obama next week will lead an entourage of several dozens to exclusive Martha’s Vineyard island at a cost of millions to taxpayers.”

No wonder these records have been so difficult to come by! These trips are an utter embarrassment for certain, but this is no reason to withhold information from the American people. Quite the contrary. The more shameful the behavior the greater the need for transparency. But that’s not what we’re seeing out of this administration.

The Obama administration is in cover-up mode on the costs of the Obamas’ travel. The Secret Service has, in contemptuous violation of law, simply stopped answering our FOIA inquiries. It seems that our “king” does not want taxpayers to know how much he’s spending on his unnecessary travel.

It’s been this way from the very beginning. JW began investigating these Obama trips dating back to the newly minted First Couple’s “date night” in New York. We’ve had to scratch and claw to get the records. And thanks to the diligence of our investigation and legal teams, we’ve been more successful than anyone else exposing these trip costs.

Click here to see for yourself all that we’ve uncovered.

But now the Obama administration, evidently tired of being called out on the Obamas’ excesses, is trying to shut down our inquiries by violating the Freedom of Information Act.

Now the Obama gang is going to have to answer to the courts.

Until next week…

Why turning a buck isn’t easy anymore for oil’s biggest players | Jeff Rubin

Why turning a buck isn’t easy anymore for oil’s biggest players | Jeff Rubin.

Posted by Jeff Rubin on January 27th, 2014

Judging by pump prices, Canadian drivers might think oil companies were rolling in profits that only move higher. Lately, though, the big boys in the global oil industry are finding that earning a buck isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Royal Dutch Shell, for instance, just announced that fourth quarter earnings would fall woefully short of expectations. The Anglo-Dutch energy giant warned its quarterly profits will be down 70 percent from a year earlier. Full year earnings, meanwhile, are expected to be a little more than half of what they were the previous year.

The news hasn’t been much cheerier for Shell’s fellow Big Oil stalwarts. Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, saw profits fall by more than 50 percent in the second quarter to their lowest level in more than three years. Chevron and Total, likewise, are warning the market to expect lower earnings when fourth quarter results are released.

What makes such poor performance especially disconcerting to investors is that it’s taking place within the context of historically high oil prices. The price of Brent crude has been trading in the triple digit range for three years running, while WTI hasn’t been far off. But even with the aid of high oil prices, the supermajors haven’t offered investors any returns to write home about. Since 2009, the share prices of the world’s top five publicly traded oil and gas companies have posted less than a fifth of the gains of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The reason for such stagnant market performance comes down to the cost of both discovering new oil reserves and getting it out of the ground. According to the International Energy Agency’s 2013 World Energy Outlook, global exploration spending has increased by 180 percent since 2000, while global oil supplies have risen by only 14 percent. That’s a pretty low batting average.

Shell’s quest for new reserves has seen it pump billions into money-devouring plays such as its Athabasca Oil Sands Project in northern Alberta and the Kashagan oilfield, a deeply troubled project in Kazakhstan. It’s even tried deep water drilling in the high Arctic. That attempt ended when the stormy waters of the Chukchi Sea crippled its Kulluk drilling platform, forcing the company to pull up stakes.

Investors can’t simply count on ever rising oil prices to justify Shell’s lavish spending on quixotic drilling adventures around the world. Prices are no longer soaring ahead like they were prior to the last recession, when heady global economic growth was pushing energy prices to record highs.

Costs, however, are another matter. As exploration spending spirals higher, investors are seeing more reasons to lighten up on oil stocks. Wherever oil producers go in the world these days, they’re running into costs that are reaching all-time highs. Shell’s costs to find and develop oil fields, for instance, have tripled since 2003. What’s worse, when the company does notch a significant discovery, such as Kashagan, production seems to be delayed, whether due to the tricky nature of the geology, politics, or both.

Shell ramped up capital spending last year by 50 percent to a staggering $44 billion. Oil analysts are basically unanimous now in saying the company needs to rein in spending if it hopes to provide better returns to shareholders.

Big Oil is discovering that blindly chasing production growth through developing ever more costly reserves isn’t contributing to the bottom line. Maybe that’s a message Canada’s oil sands producers need to be listening to as well.

Today’s Peasant Movement – Sophisticated, Threatened, and Our Best Hope for Survival  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

Today’s Peasant Movement – Sophisticated, Threatened, and Our Best Hope for Survival  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards.

(Image: La Via Campesina)The term peasant often conjures up images of medieval serfs out of touch with the ways of the world around them. Such thinking is out of date. Today, peasants proudly and powerfully put forward effective strategies to feed the planet and limit the damages wrought by industrial agriculture. What’s more, they understand the connections between complex trade and economic systems, champion the rights of women, and even stand up for the rights of gay men and lesbians.

These are not your great ancestors’ peasants.

“A peasant is a scientist. The amount and quality of knowledge we have been developing and practicing for centuries is highly useful and appropriate,” said Maxwell Munetsi, a farmer from Zimbabwe and a member of the Via Campesina.

“Unlike agribusiness, peasants do not treat food as a commodity for speculation profiting out of hunger. They do not patent nature for profit, keeping it out of the hands of the common man and woman. They share their knowledge and seeds, so everyone can have food to eat.”

The Via Campesina is perhaps the largest social movement in the world, consisting of more than 250 million farmers and small producers from over 70 nations. At the top of the Via’s agenda is supporting peasant agriculture, which in today’s era of globalization also means seeking agrarian reform, challenging neoliberalism and corporate-friendly trade agreements, and working to stop climate disruption.

“Peasant organizations today – from Haiti to Brazil to Mali to Indonesia – are tremendously sophisticated in their political analysis, not just their impressive knowledge of seeds, natural pesticides and fertilizers and sustainable agricultural practices,” says Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director of Grassroots International.

“In fact,” Aziz continues, “the methods used by peasant farmers out-produce the far more destructive and costly practices of industrial agriculture. They can grow more food, at less cost, and actually help cool the planet. Meanwhile the massive plantations planted with seeds from Monsanto and other agrochemical giants and flooded with toxics produce less food, create more greenhouse gases and literally are making the farmers, consumers and planet sick.”

A global assessment spearheaded by the United Nations and including the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Program agree. Their 2008 report (the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, or IAASTD for short) concludes that small-scale agriculture produces more food at less cost to the farmer and the environment than does industrial agriculture.

The conclusion of the IAASTD Report comes as no surprise to Carlos Hernriquez. When a member of UNOSJO (the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca, a Grassroots International partner) first reached out to Carlos, he was unconvinced.

“UNOSJO told us we did not have to rely on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. I was hesitant, thinking that buying fertilizers was a faster way to get results,” Carlos said. “I was hesitant for two years, until 2004 when I was motivated to make the organic fertilizer. In 2005, for the first time, I used the organiic fertilizer [in a small plot of land].”

Seeing is believing – and soon Carlos switched completely to agroecological methods that included heirloom seeds, natural fertilizers and pesticides, and intercropping. All of those techniques rely on the farmers’ knowledge. To succeed, farmers need to learn new and sustainable methods, share their knowledge, adapt to changing climate conditions, and maneuver politically at a time when global policies favor massive corporate agriculture and chemical giants.

The change in Carlos’ life is profound. Now he and his family have healthy food to eat and to sell at local farmers’ markets, they can afford to send all their children to school, and he is eager to share his expertise with others.

Carlos and other peasant farmers are part of a movement for food sovereignty – the right of peoples and communities to control the seeds they plant and the food they grow and consume in an ecologically sustainable and culturally appropriate way. This is the central concept of peasant agriculture, and it offers the potential to boost our global food system and protect the planet from climate disruption.

“Not only do peasant farmers feed communities, they also cool the planet and protect Mother Nature,” explains Via Campesina a statement on International Peasant Day last year saying. “Unlike agribusiness, peasants do not treat food as a commodity for speculation profiting out of hunger. They do not patent nature for profit, keeping it out of the hands of the common man and woman. They share their knowledge and seeds, so everyone can have food to eat.”

Food is central to our culture and our civilization, which is precisely the analysis that the small producers – farmers, fishers and foresters – of the Via Campesina bring. As long as corporations control the food system in order to produce short-term profit, our collective lives are in danger. Systems of injustice that uphold the corporate food system include trade agreements, water privatization schemes, land grabs and gender inequality. These are the connections that peasants like Carlos see every day.

For instance, more than 60 percent of the world’s farmers are women, yet women cannot own land in many nations. To confront this institutional violence against women, as well as domestic violence, the Via launched the Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women in 2008. The movement conducted trainings at the grassroots and also required co-gender leadership at all levels, including the highest level.  Farmers are also calling for a dismantling of the World Trade Organization and its manipulation of food commodity structures.

The success of peasants means success for all of us, because they are leading the way in feeding the world, counteracting greenhouse gas emissions and other environmentally toxic poisons, conserving water and biodiversity and expanding social and economic justice. The peasant movement chant of “Globalize the struggle, globalize the hope” is a roadmap toward a sustainable, dignified future.

Common Dreams

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Ron Paul Goes Off The Grid…With Jesse Ventura!

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Ron Paul Goes Off The Grid…With Jesse Ventura!.

written by rpi staff
friday january 31, 2014
RP Jesse VenturaRPI Chairman Ron Paul joins Jesse Ventura for a segment of Ventura’s edgy “Off the Grid” broadcast. Dr. Paul discusses President Obama’s State of the Union speech — and particularly the president’s threat to expand his use of executive orders if Congress does not back the president’s agenda.

“What will Congress do about it,” asks Dr. Paul of the president’s threat. “Do you think the Republican leadership, the John Boehners of the world will stand up to him?”

Ron Paul explains that his mission is not as a politician, but as an educator. And thanks to Gov. Ventura fo mentioning Dr. Paul’s educational arm, the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity!

Watch the whole interview:

State Department Releases Flawed Keystone XL Final Environmental Review In Super Bowl Friday Trash Dump | DeSmogBlog

State Department Releases Flawed Keystone XL Final Environmental Review In Super Bowl Friday Trash Dump | DeSmogBlog.

The State Department has released theFinal Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed northern leg of the controversial and long-embattled TransCanada Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

In a familiar “Friday trash dump” — a move many expected the Obama administration to shun — John Kerry’s State Department chose to “carefully stage-manage the report’s release” on Super Bowl Friday when most Americans are switching focus to football instead of political scandals. **See bottom of this post for breaking analysis**

Anticipating the report’s release, insiders who had been briefed on the review told Bloomberg News the SEIS — not a formal decision by the State Department on the permitting of the pipeline, but rather another step in the department’s information gathering — “will probably disappoint environmental groups and opponents of the Keystone pipeline.”

And, indeed, the new report reads: “Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.”

This reiterates one of the earlier draft’s most heavily criticized conclusions that the pipeline is “unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands,” and thus avoids a comprehensive assessment of those climate impacts.

In June 2013, President Obama said in a speech announcing his Climate Action Plan at Georgetown University that he would only approve the permit if it was proven that “this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”

The final environmental review is being released on the heels of damning revelations about the close ties between the Canadian pipeline builder, TransCanada and Environmental Resources Management (ERM). ERM was hired by the State Department to conduct the environmental review.

According to documents obtained by the Sierra Club via Freedom of Information Act requests, TransCanada actually recommended ERM to conduct the study, and claimed, falsely, that the two companies had not worked together before.

Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica did not mince words in his reaction to the State Department’s new report, telling the National Journal, “The State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline is a farce. Since the beginning of the assessment, the oil industry has had a direct pipeline into the agency.”

ERM Group: A History Tied to API

Over the past two years, DeSmogBlog has published a number of articles documenting controversial projects — in Peru, the Caspian SeaDelaware and Alaska — that the ERM Group has approved. In each case the projects have been permitted and have eventually resulted in spills or severe environmental damage.

ERM Group is a dues-paying member of the American Petroleum Institute, which has spent over $22 million lobbying on behalf of Keystone XL.

Timing of the Release

The Final SEIS also precedes a heavily anticipated State Department Inspector General’s report addressing these potential conflicts-of-interest between TransCanada, ERM and the State Department, as has been covered here onDeSmogBlog. It also occurs on a Friday afternoon before the Super Bowl, with attention of much of the American public diverted.

Environmental groups and opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline were surprised by the timing and suddenness of the report’s release. The surprise was not shared by supporters of the pipeline.

For days, industry reps have been claiming that the SEIS would be released this week. The loudest voice was that of Jack Gerard, chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute (API), who speaking to Reuters last week said, “It’s our expectation it will be released next week,” citing sources within the administration.

ERM Group is a dues-paying member of API. Of this clear conflict and the timing of the release, Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International wrote:

Jack Gerard was apparently briefed by “sources within the Administration” on the timing and content of the report.  Before the environmental community.  Before Congress.  Before anyone else.

If that doesn’t prove once and for all what a corrupt process this has been, I don’t know what will.  The oil industry, which has had this process rigged since the word go, are the first to know, because of their cozy and corrupt role in this process.

Green Groups Respond

Jim Murphy of National Wildlife Federation asked this of the decision before the State Department:

The question going into the State Department’s final environmental impact statement is this: Who will State listen to? Will State reverse course after listening to the Environmental Protection Agency experts who criticized the first draft as ‘inadequate‘ and the second draft as ‘insufficient’ on climate impacts, oil spill risks, and threats to water resources? Will it listen to Goldman Sachs, who called Keystone XL key to expanding tar sands production and all the carbon pollution that goes along with it?

What about Canada’s own government or the oil industry, which has repeatedly said Keystone XL is needed to realize tar sands growth plans that Canada projects will cause its own carbon emissions tosoar 38% by 2030? Or will State stand by the oil industry consultants it hired to write that first draft currently being investigated forconflicts of interest?

350.org also immediately issued a statement:

During the State of the Union, President Obama said he wanted to be able to look into the eyes of his children’s children and say he did everything he could to confront the climate crisis. How exactly does he plan on explaining to his grandchildren how building a 800,000 barrel a day tar sands pipeline like Keystone XL helped solve climate change? The twisted logic in the State Department’s environmental assessment might provide some political cover in DC, but it will be small comfort for future generations who have the bear the impacts of the climate crisis.

Over 76,000 citizens have pledged an oath of civil disobedience if Keystone XL gets the final green-light from President Obama. Though that decision will probably not be made for months.

Green Groups Take Action

In anticipation of the report’s release, a diverse coalition of 16 environmental organizations sent a petition to Secretary of State John Kerry, insisting that the scope of the environmental review is far too narrow and that an entirely new review is necessary.

Citing the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, the groups threaten legal action if the environmental review doesn’t consider the cumulative impact of related projects, like the Keystone XL and the proposed Alberta Clipper expansion.

The groups write:

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that an EIS consider the cumulative impacts of the proposed federal agency action. Cumulative impacts are defined as: “the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions.”…

The Keystone XL DSEIS fails to address the cumulative effects of Keystone XL and Alberta Clipper, especially the growth-inducing effects that the combined 1.3 million bpd of additional pipeline capacity would have on the rate of tar sands extraction in Canada.

The groups signing the petition include: Sierra Club, Bold Nebraska, Center for Biological Diversity, For Love of Water, Friends of the Earth, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,  Labor Network for Sustainability, Michigan Environmental Council, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, Michigan Land Use Institute, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, Rainforest Action Network and 350.org.

“The State Department will open a 30-day comment period on Feb. 5, and the agencies will have 90 days to weigh in,” The Washington Post explained. “After a decision is issued other agencies have 15 days to object, and if one does, the president must decide whether or not to issue the permit.”

DeSmogBlog will continue to feature in-depth analysis of the Keystone FEIS and responses from energy, climate and policy experts.

**UPDATES WILL BE ADDED BELOW AS ANALYSIS ROLLS IN**

BusinessWeek points to this section on the paltry job creation: Once constructed, Keystone XL “will support only 50 U.S. jobs–35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) tweets his reaction (see full statement):

Ben Jervey contributed reporting to this article.

Image credit: Kris Krug.

The Great Lakes Go Dry: How One-Fifth Of The World’s Fresh Water Is Dwindling Away

The Great Lakes Go Dry: How One-Fifth Of The World’s Fresh Water Is Dwindling Away.

by Joanna M. Foster, originally published by Climate Progress  | TODAY

The frozen opalescent lake and thin, gray sky fade together into white light where the horizon should be. Tall, skeletal grasses shiver on the beach in a wind that makes any sliver of exposed skin burn. The Arni J. Richter, an icebreaking ferry, is about to pull away from Northport Pier for its second and final trip of the day to Washington Island. It’s loaded with food and fuel for the more than 700 hardy residents who call the remote island, just north of Door County peninsula in Wisconsin, home.

People have lived on Washington Island for over 160 years. They’re proud of their tight-knit community and their Icelandic heritage. But life on the island is threatened. For the past 15 years, islanders have watched Lake Michigan slowly disappear. Last January, the lake hit a record low, 29 inches below the long-term average as measured since 1918. The Richter Ferry was just inches away from grounding in some spots along its increasingly treacherous six-mile route to the island.

The Great Lakes, which contain one-fifth of the world’s above-ground fresh water supply, are sometimes referred to as America’s “northern coast.” As communities along the rest of the nation’s shorelines brace for rising waters brought by climate change, however, and spend billions on replacing sand swept out to sea in storms, the communities of the Great Lakes find themselves with more and more sand and less and less water.

“The island depends on the ferry for everything,” said Hoyt Purinton, President and Captain of the Washington Island Ferry Line and great grandson of the ferry’s first captain. “If the ferry can’t get to the island, the island won’t survive. Even if you could find another way to get food and fuel over there, if there’s no easy way for tourists to make the trip, the fragile island economy dies and the community and culture goes with it.”

As the lake retreats, some people blame the Army Corps of Engineers for dredging projects that widen channels leading out of Lake Michigan. Others wonder if the watershed can no longer support the 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada who now rely on the lakes for their drinking water.

Increasingly, scientists believe that climate change is driving the warming waters and setting up a new regime in the Great Lakes that may lead to lower lake levels and a permanently altered shoreline.

Ever since the 1990s, Lake Michigan has been predominantly below its long-term water level average, and trending downwards. Water levels plummeted precipitously in the late 1990s, after a strong El Niño event warmed up the waters.

“That event drastically increased water temperatures,” explained Drew Gronewold, a physical scientist at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory(GLERL). “Over the course of just one year, water temperatures went up by 2.5 degrees Celsius. That’s huge. And the cycle is reinforcing; one really warm year led to more than a decade of dropping lake levels.”

Grelickville, Traverse City, MI - Low WaterGrelickville, Traverse City, MI – Low Water

CREDIT: NOAA

As the lake warms, it’s changing the water levels, as well. Most evaporation on the Great Lakes occurs in the fall when the lake is still warm from the summer, but the air has turned cold and dry. When the water is warmer than usual, the peak evaporation season begins earlier and lasts longer into the early winter. Warmer water also leads to less ice formation and fewer days of ice cover.

Ice cover also impacts lake levels. It prevents evaporation from the lakes during the winter and for as long as it lasts into the spring. And it affects how warm the water will be that year, and thus the rate of evaporation — the more ice cover, the colder the water stays into the summer and fall, leading to less evaporation. The reverse is also true — less ice cover will lead to warmer water and more evaporation.

“The 1998 El Niño gave us a taste of what we can expect to see on the Great Lakes in a changing climate,” said Don Scavia, Co-Director of the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA). “The El Niño-driven warmer temperatures are a surrogate for what the future climate might be. The lower lake levels during that time may be a signal of what might be happening under longer term climate change.”

In other words, last winter’s record low lake levels are a glimpse of what a warmer climate in the region would do to the lakes — a glimpse that so far has lasted 15 years, set off by one hot summer.

At Newport State Park, one of five state parks in Door County, the vanishing water has changed the shoreline dramatically. The beach, once a wide expanse of silky mustard-colored sand that on a hot summer day would be crawling with a hundred sunscreen-smeared tourists, is now covered in tall reeds, marsh grasses, mud and exposed rocks sheathed in slick green slime. There is no inviting sand, just a marshland down to the water’s edge and the water is clogged with tangled clumps of matted algae like something pulled out of a shower drain.

“I used to constantly get complaints about the appearance of the beach,” said park manager Michelle Hefty. “I’ve been confronted about the grasses encroaching onto the sand and berated about the quantity of insects near the water. It just doesn’t look like that postcard perfect beach anymore.”

Financially, Newport has struggled to keep afloat as tourists seek more manicured picnic spots.

“We’ve had the same budget for the past decade,” said Hefty. “But our costs keep on going up with the increasing price of gas and electricity, while our revenue is shrinking with fewer numbers of visitors.”

Tourism is big business on the Door County peninsula and surrounding islands. According to the Door County Visitors Bureau, tourists pumped $289 million into the local economy in 2012 and supported 2,498 jobs.

State funding only accounts for about 20 percent of the park’s budget; 80 percent of management expenses are supposed to be provided for by park sticker sales and campsite fees.

“We’ve cut back wherever we can,” stressed Hefty. “We don’t plough unless we absolutely have to, we groom the cross-country ski trails less often to save on gas, we turn the thermometer down in the office and pile on the sweaters, but we’re barely breaking even.”

 

 

 

 

According to Jim Sarkis, founder and principal broker at Sarkis & Associates Realtors, waterfront property values in Door County are also taking a hit — declining by 30 to 35 percent over the last five years.

“Of course, it’s impossible to tease out how much of that decline is because of the lower lake levels and how much of that is just a reflection of the recession and the struggles of the U.S. housing market in general,” said Sarkis, who has been a realtor in Door County for 37 years.

There are some clues, however. Ten years ago, a small private dock would add around $150,000 to the value of a waterfront home. Today, the added value is nothing. That’s because across the county docks which once stood in several feet of water, now appear suspended in the air, legs out of water, sometimes reaching out across nothing but sand and tall grasses.

“The value of those docks was the water around them,” said Sarkis. “Now that that’s gone, they’re really not much more than an elevated bench. If you own a boat, you’ll have to rent a slip in a harbor where they’re dredging.”

Sarkis explained that more and more the phrase “water view” is more appropriate than “waterfront.”

“People can still enjoy the sunsets, even if the water isn’t exactly lapping at their back door,” said Sarkis. “But I have definitely taken clients to properties and had people jokingly say ‘I thought you were showing us a waterfront property’ as they walk the two hundred, maybe four hundred feet down to where the water now sits.”

Grelickville, Traverse City , MI - Low WaterGrelickville, Traverse City , MI – Low Water

CREDIT: NOAA

The winter of 2013-2014 is shaping up to be very different from what the Great Lakes have become accustomed to over the last 15 years. Thanks to the polar air drifting down from Canada, Lake Michigan saw some of its earliest ice in years. Scientists are predicting that if the ice lasts, the lake level could go up by as much as a foot this year. And the colder water could be setting up the lakes for a couple years of recovery.

“The good news is that while in some ways there is a lot of inertia in the Great Lakes system, there is also a lot of interannual variation in the water levels,” said GLISA’s Scavia. “The Great Lakes probably have some time to prepare for the lower lake levels we suspect will come in the future. The key is to use the time, not hope that problem has gone away.”

While this winter’s cold will buy some time for the Great Lakes, scientists emphasize that many concerns and unanswered questions remain. One of the great unknowns in the story of water levels on the Great Lakes is how precipitation patterns will change in the years to come. Some models suggest that precipitation is actually expected to increase, which may help to offset declines caused by increased evaporation.

“The general consensus right now, looking at a broad range of models that have been developed for the Great Lakes, is that there is a big range of variability, but there appears to be a decreasing trend in water levels over the next century,” said Gronewold.

One well-studied aspect of changing precipitation patterns in the Great Lakes is the increasing frequency and severity of spring storms. These powerful downpours, which occur around the same time as farms are being prepared for planting, mean that vast amounts of phosphorus are being washed into the lakes, leading to toxic algae blooms and massive dead zones.

“We’ve seen this mostly on Lake Erie so far,” explained Scavia. “But the problem is starting to be seen in Lake Michigan, as well, and we should expect it to get worse.”

Back at Northport Pier where the Washington Island Ferry loads, a massive dredging project is underway to alleviate some of the stress on the boats and communities that depend on their regular arrival. Work began in September to deepen and widen the half mile channel that leads into Detroit Harbor where the ferry docks on the island. The project will cost about $7 million, $5.2 million of which is being provided by Wisconsin’s Harbor Assistance Program. Washington Island is responsible for the rest of the expenses which will be made up for by removing the dredged sediments.

The project will deepen the channel by three feet to bring it to a total of 17 feet below the low water line, widen the channel by 20 feet and remove 134,500 cubic yards of sediment.

Despite the temporary respite this winter, ferry boat captain Purinton remains concerned about the long-term changes he’s observing on the lake. “I hope people don’t look at the last nine months of cold weather and stop planning for low lake levels,” he said. “That would be a huge mistake. This is the first what I like to call ‘real’ winter that we’ve had in years and years. I think what’s happening now is the anomaly, not the years before.”

Why is the Federal Reserve Tapering the Gold Market? | Global Research

Why is the Federal Reserve Tapering the Gold Market? | Global Research.

 

On January 17, 2014, we explained “The Hows and Whys of Gold Price Manipulation.”

Naked Gold Shorts: The Inside Story of Gold Price Manipulation By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts and David Kranzler,

In former times, the rise in the gold price was held down by central banks selling gold or leasing gold to bullion dealers who sold the gold. The supply added in this way to the market absorbed some of the demand, thus holding down the rise in the gold price.

As the supply of physical gold on hand diminished, increasingly recourse was taken to selling gold short in the paper futures market. We illustrated a recent episode in our article. Below we illustrate the uncovered short-selling that took the gold price down today (January 30, 2014).

When the Comex trading floor opened January 30 at 8:20AM NY time, the price of gold inexplicably plunged $17 over the next 30 minutes. The price plunge was triggered when sell orders flooded the Comex trading floor. Over the course of the previous 23 hours of trading, an average of 202 gold contracts per minute had traded. But starting at the 8:20AM Comex, there were four 1-minute windows of trading here’s what happened:

8:21AM: 1766 contracts sold
8:22AM: 5172 contracts sold
8:31AM: 3242 contracts sold
8:47AM: 3515 contracts sold

 

image

 

Over those four minutes of trading, an average of 3,424 contracts per minute traded, or 17 times the average per minute volume of the previous 23 hours, including yesterday’s Comex trading session.

The yellow arrow indicates when the Comex floor opened for gold futures trading. There was not any news events or related market events that would have triggered a sell-off like this in gold. If an entity holding many contracts wanted to sell down its position, it would accomplish this by slowly feeding its position to the market over the course of the entire trading day in order to avoid disturbing the price or “telegraphing” its intent to sell to the market.

Instead, today’s selling was designed to flood the Comex trading floor with a high volume of sell orders in rapid succession in order to drive the price of gold as low as possible before buyers stepped in.

The reason for this is two-fold: Driving down the price of gold assists the Fed in its efforts to support the dollar, and the Comex is running out of physical gold available to be delivered to those who decide to take delivery of gold instead of cash settlement.

The February gold contract is subject to delivery starting on January 31st. As of January 29th, 2 days before the delivery period starts, there were 2,223,000 ounces of gold futures open against 375,000 ounces of gold available to be to be delivered. The primary banks who trade Comex gold (JP Morgan, HSBC, Bank Nova Scotia) are the primary entities who are short those Comex contracts.

Typically toward the end of a delivery month, these banks drive the price of gold lower for the purpose of coercing holders of the contracts to sell. This avoids the problem of having a shortage of gold available to deliver to the entities who decide to take delivery. With an enormous amount of physical gold moving from the western bank vaults to the large Asian buyers of gold, the Comex ultimately does not have enough gold to honor delivery obligations should the day arrive when a fifth or a fourth of the contracts are presented for delivery. Prior to a delivery period or due date on the contracts, manipulation is used to drive the Comex price of gold as low as possible in order to induce enough selling to avoid a possible default on gold delivery.

Following the taper announcement on January 29, the gold price rose $14 to $1270, and the Dow Jones Index dropped 100 points, closing down 74 points from its trading level at the time the tapering was announced. These reactions might have surprised the Fed, leading to the stock market support and gold price suppression on January 30.

Manipulation of the gold price is a foregone conclusion. The question is: why is the Fed tapering?

The official reason is that the recovery is now strong enough not to need the stimulus. There are two problems with the official explanation. One is that the purpose of QE has always been to support the prices of the debt-related derivatives on the balance sheets of the banks too big to fail. The other is that the Fed has enough economists and statisticians to know that the recovery is a statistical artifact of deflating GDP with an understated measure of inflation. No other indicator–employment, labor force participation, real median family income, real retail sales, or new construction–indicates economic recovery. Moreover, if in fact the economy has been in recovery since June 2009, after 4.5 years of recovery it is time for a new recession.

One possible explanation for the tapering is that the Fed has created enough new dollars with which to purchase the worst part of the banks’ balance sheet problems and transfer them to the Fed’s balance sheet, while in other ways enhancing the banks’ profits. With the job done, the Fed can slowly back off.

The problem with this explanation is that the liquidity that the Fed has created found its way into the stock and bond markets and into emerging economies. Curtailing the flow of liquidity crashes the markets, bringing on a new financial crisis.

We offer two explanations for the tapering. One is technical, and one is strategic.

First the technical explanation. The Fed’s bond purchases and the banks’ interest rate swap derivatives have made a dent in the supply of Treasuries. With income tax payments starting to flow in, fewer Treasuries are being issued to put pressure on interest rates. This permits the Fed to make a show of doing the right thing and reduce bond purchases. As a weakening economy becomes apparent as the year progresses, calls for the Fed to support the economy will permit the Fed to broaden the array of instruments that it purchases.

A strategic explanation for tapering is that the growth of US debt and money creation is causing the world to turn a jaundiced eye toward the US dollar and toward its role as world reserve currency.

Currently the Russian Duma is discussing legislation that would eliminate the dollar’s use and presence in Russia. Other countries are moving away from the dollar. Recently the Nigerian central bank reduced its dollar reserves and increased its holdings of Chinese yuan. Zimbabwe, which was using the US dollar as its own currency, switched to Chinese yuan. The former chief economist of the World Bank recently called for terminating the use of the dollar as world reserve currency. He said that “the dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crises.” Moreover, the Federal Reserve is very much aware of the flight away from the dollar into gold, because it is this flight that causes the Fed to manipulate the gold price in order to hold it down and in order to be able to free up gold for delivery.

The Fed knows that the ability of the US to pay its bills in its own currency is the reason it can stand its large trade imbalance and is the basis for US power. If the dollar loses the reserve currency role, the US becomes just another country with balance of payments and currency problems and an inability to sell its bonds in order to finance its budget deficits.

In other words, perhaps the Fed understands that a dollar crisis is a bigger crisis than a bank crisis and that its bailout of the banks is undermining the dollar. The question is: will the Fed let the banks go in order to save the dollar?

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy.

Dave Kranzler traded high yield bonds for Bankers Trust for a decade. As a co-founder and principal of Golden Returns Capital LLC, he manages the Precious Metals Opportunity Fund.

THE OLIGARCH STORYLINE IS GROWING OLD AND TIRED « The Burning Platform

THE OLIGARCH STORYLINE IS GROWING OLD AND TIRED « The Burning Platform.

The headline from the MSM this morning was that consumer spending was really strong in December after a fantastic November.

Consumer spending rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% last month, the Commerce Department said. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.2% gain. The advance in December follows an upwardly revised 0.6% increase in November. The pace of spending in the last two months of the year marked the strongest back-to-back gain since the first two months of 2012.

The lead into this story makes it sound like the consumer is healthy and doing fantastic. You have to go over to Zero Hedge to find a chart that says it all.

 

Does this chart show a healthy consumer? It shows me we’ve entered a world of pain. Buried in the propaganda spewed by the corporate legacy media is the FACT that real disposable income FELL in December. The consumer had to delve into their dwindling savings to create that STRONG spending in December and November. The savings rate was 5.1% in September and plummeted to 3.9% by December. Last December the savings rate was 8.7%.

Do the oligarchs realize their propaganda doesn’t pass the smell test? They desperately want the ignorant masses to believe consumer spending was strong in November and December. We know for a fact that retail sales absolutely sucked in November and December from the Commerce Dept report from two weeks ago. Sales declined at auto dealerships, furniture retailers, electronics stores, and home stores. We know for a fact that virtually every large retailer in the country has reported dreadful sales and profit results for their Christmas season. Wal-Mart issued a profit warning today. Target issued one two weeks ago. Macys, Sears, and JC Penney are closing stores.

A critical thinking individual might wonder how consumer spending could be really strong if every major retailer is reporting horrific results. Luckily for the oligarchs, critical thinking is a skill not used too much in this country. Edward Bernays’ students of propaganda in the government and MSM know this and utilize our ignorance to the max.

The MSM story mentioned that the increase is being driven by spending on services. Now we are getting to the truth. The average American is ramping up their consumption in Obamacare premiums, utility bills, tolls, sewer fees, and the myriad of other government driven costs. The average American is dipping into their savings to pay for the massive Obamacare premium increases. I guess that doesn’t make a good headline on Marketwatch.com.

Going to the actual data reveals a few more interesting tidbits about the strong consumer:

  • Total personal income, before inflation, in December was 1% below last year.
  • Total wages, before inflation, were up by a whole .6%.
  • No need to worry. Government entitlement transfers soared by $53 billion over the last year.
  • Bernanke did his part by making sure senior citizens and savers didn’t earn one nickle more than last year in interest.
  • You’ll be happy to know that even though wages barely budged, the government syphoned  off an additional $100 Billion of your money in taxes versus last December.
  • Disposable income was 2% lower than last December, before inflation.
  • Americans spent $400 billion more this December than last December by drawing down savings and borrowing. They didn’t spend this at retailers. They borrowed for 7 years to essentially rent new cars, paid more for food, energy, rent, tuition, and Obamacare premiums.

Does this present a picture of a strong consumer? My favorite piece of data from the government website is at the very bottom. It is Real per capita disposable income. It takes into consideration inflation and the fact that the US population grows by 2.2 million people per year. This info paints the real picture of the American consumer.

The real disposable personal income per person in this country was $36,877 in December. It was $38,170 last December. That is a 3.4% decline. And remember, that is using the hugely understated CPI. Now for the really good stuff. The real disposable personal income per person was $37,584 in May of 2008. We are now almost six years later and disposable income per person in this country is still lower than it was in 2008.

Obama proclaimed all the great things he had accomplished in his five years in office. If unemployment has plummeted and the economy is booming at 4%, how can this be so? It can’t. You’ve been fed a fake storyline. It’s like the American Dream. You have to be asleep to believe it.

And anyone peddling the storyline that 2014 will be better is a knave or a fool – or works for CNBC. Over 1.2 million people just got booted off  the long-term unemployment rolls. The SNAP program will be doling out $5 billion less of your tax dollars in 2014. The stock market appears to be a tad shakey. Obamacare premium increases will be pounding those employed. Small businesses will not be hiring. Retailers are firing thousands of employees. Energy prices will set new records. Droughts in the West will result in higher food prices. Home prices will fall as home sales stagnate.

Sounds like a recipe for a great 2014. The storyline has been played out. The people don’t believe anything the oligarchs say. We have been lost in a blizzard of lies, but we can see the truth off in the distance if we look hard enough.

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