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US And Israel Quietly Provide Military Support And Parts To Iran, Which In Turn Is Arming Syria | Zero Hedge

US And Israel Quietly Provide Military Support And Parts To Iran, Which In Turn Is Arming Syria | Zero Hedge.

Before the Ukraine, there was Syria. Before Syria, there was Iran. For over 30 years, Iran was the perpetual strawman of every attempt to escalate hostilities in the middle east. One only needs to recall that the original “red line” was not Obama’s but that of Israel’s PM Netanyahu referring to Iran’s nuclear program (which most likely was under the control of Stuxnet, and thus the NSA, more than it was Iran’s to begin with).

What is surprising in recent months, is how quickly in the aftermath of the Syrian failed escalation script from last summer, Iran quickly dropped off the axis of America’s worst enemies, and from the biggest bogeyman, has rapidly become a nation with which the US is eager to resume diplomatic and trade relations. Sure, Israel pretended to be angry about Iran’s ascent in the ranks of US foreign allies-to-be, and issued a few angry press releases, but that’s all it was – posturing, fit only for the front page of tabloids. It is what was happening behind the scenes that is noteworthy.

And what is happening behind the scenes is the same thing that happens every time the US (or Israel, or any other western nations) finds a surprising new ally: said ally proceeds to purchase military equipment from the US (or other western nations), using loans from the US (or other western nation banks).

Enter bizarre twist #1 – US companies selling military parts to none other than the formerly country non grata (at least until mid-2013): Iran. Reuters reports:

U.S. aerospace companies are seeking permission to sell airliner parts to Iran for the first time in three decades, in a key test of the temporary relief on sanctions given under talks to curtail Iran’s nuclear activities.

 

At least two leading manufacturers, Boeing and engine maker General Electric, have applied for export licenses in a six-month window agreed by Iran and six world powers in November, industry officials and other sources familiar with the matter said.

 

If approved, the sales would be the first acknowledged dealings between U.S. aerospace companies and Iran since the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis led to sanctions that were later broadened during the dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities.

 

A source familiar with the matter said that Boeing, the world’s biggest manufacturer of passenger jets, had also filed a request for permission to export parts to Iran.

 

Boeing declined to comment, referring questions to the U.S. State Department, which in turn referred queries to the U.S. Treasury. A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, which enforces international sanctions, declined to comment on specific license requests or applications.

Enter bizarre twist # 2 – “GE is doing it for the kids.”

A GE spokesman said his company had been asking since 2004 for permission to provide parts and maintenance for engines for safety reasons, without profiting from the scheme. GE, the world’s largest maker of jet engines by sales, refiled its request after the sanctions relief came into force, he added.

 

“We don’t want to make a penny on it. It’s entirely for flight safety,” Rick Kennedy said, adding that GE would donate any proceeds to charity.

But of course, because when one thinks suing the US to get tax refunds corporate generosity (if not bailouts), one thinks GE.

Enter bizarre twist # 3 – it is not only the US that is seeking to promptly capitalize on this “temporary” elimination of Iran sanctions. It is Iran’s perpetual nemesis, Israel, that is not only planning to supply weapons to Iran, but is already doing so. However, unlike the US which at least has clumsily stumbled upon a detente whose only purpose is logically to get Iran to buy Made in America weapons, with Israel the hypocrisy takes on a whole new meaning. Quote the Telegraph:

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, called for increased pressure on Iran to force it to abandon a programme that Israel regards as a front for building an atomic bomb and a threat to its existence.

 

Visiting the Golan Heights on Tuesday, he accused Iran of “arming those who are carrying out the slaughter” in neighbouring Syria.  “I would like to tell the world, today, as the talks between the major powers and Iran are being resumed, that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character. Iran is continuing to support the Assad regime, which is slaughtering its own people,” Mr Netanyahu said.

And this is where it gets embarrassing for Bibi: it was Israel that was arming Iran.

[A] court in Athens has told The Telegraph that parts appearing on an American list of forbidden military-grade materials had been shipped from Israel on two occasions, apparently destined for Iran.

 

The seized items comprised spare parts for military aircraft: a constant speed drive designed for the F-4 Phantom jet, and a voltage output sensor used in the F-14 Tomcat. The parts were confiscated by Greece’s financial crimes squad and were being sent to the US for investigation, court officials said.

 

 

Israeli arms dealers twice tried to send spare parts for fighter planes to Iran, The Telegraph has established, flouting an international arms embargo and openly contradicting the bitter enmity between the Jewish state and the Islamic regime.

 

The illegal shipments are now being investigated by the US Homeland Security Department after they were intercepted by authorities in Greece.

 

The shipments – one in Dec 2012 and the other last April – were sent by courier from the Israeli town of Binyamina-Givat Ada, near Haifa, via a company in Greece, the newspaper reported. The firm was later established to be a ghost company. Its contact number was said to belong to a British national in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, who could not be traced.

Was Mossad involved? But of course.

A blogger, Richard Silverstein pointed the finger at two possible culprits who he said were well-known arms dealers living in Binyamina-Givat Ada. The pair had come to the attention of Israeli and US authorities on suspicion of violating the arms embargo on Iran in the past, Silverstein wrote, but had never been charged or prosecuted. “There can be no doubt that they are colluding with Israeli intelligence,” he added.

For those who are not convinced, “The defence and foreign ministries in Israel declined to comment on the seizures, which were first revealed by Kathimerini, a Greek newspaper. 

Finally, tying it all together, is another report from Reuters. in which we learn that “as Syria’s war nears the start of its fourth year, Iran has stepped up support on the ground for President Bashar al-Assad, providing elite teams to gather intelligence and train troops, sources with knowledge of military movements say.

This further backing from Tehran, along with deliveries of munitions and equipment from Moscow, is helping to keep Assad in power at a time when neither his own forces nor opposition fighters have a decisive edge on the battlefield.

Assad’s forces have failed to capitalize fully on advances they made last summer with the help of Iran, his major backer in the region, and the Hezbollah fighters that Tehran backs and which have provided important battlefield support for Assad.

 

But the Syrian leader has drawn comfort from the withdrawal of the threat of U.S. bombing raids following a deal under which he has agreed to give up his chemical weapons.

 

Shi’te Iran has already spent billions of dollars propping up Assad in what has turned into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states. And while the presence of Iranian military personnel in Syria is not new, military experts believe Tehran has in recent months sent in more specialists to enable Assad to outlast his enemies at home and abroad.

 

Assad’s forces have failed to capitalize fully on advances they made last summer with the help of Iran, his major backer in the region, and the Hezbollah fighters that Tehran backs and which have provided important battlefield support for Assad.

 

But the Syrian leader has drawn comfort from the withdrawal of the threat of U.S. bombing raids following a deal under which he has agreed to give up his chemical weapons.

 

Shi’te Iran has already spent billions of dollars propping up Assad in what has turned into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states. And while the presence of Iranian military personnel in Syria is not new, military experts believe Tehran has in recent months sent in more specialists to enable Assad to outlast his enemies at home and abroad.

To summarize: in an act of complete disregard for the official diplomatic song and dance, both Israel and the US are now providing military support to Iran, which in turn is providing military support to Syria, which is also getting military support from Russia. And now, just to make things more interesting, the same labyrinth of “military support” is about to be unleashed in the Ukraine, whose western half is just as likely getting arms and military equipment (not to mention funding)from the West under the table, while Russia, whose main Black Sea port is in the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, is arming the Eastern part of the Ukraine.

What can possibly go wrong?

UK Tells Russia: Don’t Intervene In Ukraine

UK Tells Russia: Don’t Intervene In Ukraine.

Posted: 02/23/2014 6:09 am EST Updated: 02/23/2014 9:59 am EST


Main Entry Image


By Andrew Osborn

LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Britain warned Russia on Sunday against intervening in Ukraine’s “complex” crisis, saying London wanted to contribute to an international economic programme aimed at shoring up the “desperately difficult” situation of the Ukrainian economy.

In comments that may anger Moscow, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his government was in regular contact with the Russian government to try to persuade it that closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union should not worry it.

“If there’s an economic package, it will be important that Russia doesn’t do anything to undermine that economic package and is working in cooperation and support of it,” Hague told BBC TV.

When asked if he was worried that Russia might “send in the tanks” to defend the interests of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine, Hague warned against what he called “external duress” or Russian intervention.

“It would really not be in the interests of Russia to do any such thing. We have to keep up the communication with Russia as we are doing … so that the people of Ukraine can choose their own way forward. There are many dangers and uncertainties.”

Ukraine’s parliament voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday after three months of street protests, while his arch-rival Yulia Tymoshenko hailed opposition demonstrators as “heroes” in an emotional speech in Kiev after she was released from jail.

The crisis began as protests against Yanukovich’s decision to abandon a trade agreement with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia, which promised to lend Ukraine $15 billion euros. Ukraine needs the money — foreign investment inflows fell by almost half last year, to a net $2.86 billion from $4.13 billion in 2012 

Britain has so far assumed a lower profile on Ukraine than countries such as Germany and Poland, though Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin last Thursday about the situation there and Hague said he’d be talking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

Hague said the priority was to persuade Moscow that the fate of Ukraine – a country that was part of the Soviet Union and has been within Russia’s sphere of influence for decades – was not what he called “a zero-sum game” and that closer ties with the EU were not a bad thing.

“It’s in the interests of the people of Ukraine to be able to trade more freely with the EU. It’s the interests of the people of Russia for that to happen as well.”

He said he didn’t know what Russia’s “next reaction” would be, but he pushed the Ukrainian opposition to move urgently to form a government of national unity, agree arrangements for new elections, and to crack on with shoring up the economy.

“While all this has been happening, the Ukrainian economy is in a desperately difficult situation,” Hague said. “And they need an economic programme that the rest of us, through the International Monetary Fund and other institutions, can support so that they can stave of an even more serious economic situation.”

G-20 Agrees To Grow Global Economy By $2 Trillion, Has No Idea How To Actually Achieve It | Zero Hedge

G-20 Agrees To Grow Global Economy By $2 Trillion, Has No Idea How To Actually Achieve It | Zero Hedge.

Apparently all it takes to kick the world out of a secular recession and back into growth mode, is for several dozen finance ministers and central bankers to sit down and sign on the dotted line, agreeing it has to be done. That is the take home message from the just concluded latest G-20 meeting in Syndey, where said leaders agreed that it is time to finally grow the world economy by 2% over the next 5 years.

The final G-20 communiqué announced its member nations would take concrete action to increase investment and employment, among other reforms. “We will develop ambitious but realistic policies with the aim to lift our collective GDP by more than 2 percent above the trajectory implied by current policies over the coming 5 years,” the G20 statement said.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey, who hosted the meeting, sold the plan as a new day for cooperation in the G20.

“We are putting a number to it for the first time — putting a real number to what we are trying to achieve,” Hockey told a news conference. “We want to add over $2 trillion more in economic activity and tens of millions of new jobs.

And to think all it took was several dozen of politicians sitting down for 2 days in balny Syndey and agreeing. So over five years after the start of the second great depression the G-20 has finally agreed and decided it is time to grow the economy: supposedly the reason there was no such growth previously is because the G-20 never willed it…

There is only one problem: the G-20 has absolutely no idea how to actually achieve its goal of boosting global output by more than the world’s eighth largest economy Russia produces in a year. Nor does it have any measures to prod and punish any laggards from this most grand of central planning schemes. From Reuters:

There was no road map on how nations intend to get there or repercussions if they never arrive. The aim was to come up with the goal now, then have each country develop an action plan and a growth strategy for delivery at a November summit of G20 leaders in Brisbane.

 

“Each country will bring its own plan for economic growth,” said Hockey. “Each country has to do the heavy lifting.”

 

Agreeing on any goal is a step forward for the group that has failed in the past to agree on fiscal and current account targets. And it was a sea change from recent meetings where the debate was still on where their focus should lie: on growth or budget austerity.

So who is the mastermind behind this grand plan? Why the IMF of course: “The growth plan borrows wholesale from an IMF paper prepared for the Sydney meeting, which estimated that structural reforms would raise world economic output by about 0.5 percent per year over the next five years, boosting global output by $2.25 trillion.”

The same IMF whose “forecasts” can best be summarized in the following chart (which will be revised lower shortly to account for all the snow in the Northeast US):

 

Aside from this idiocy, the other topic under boondoggle discussion was the fate of the taper, and specifically how emerging markets will (continue to) suffer should the Fed continue to withdraw liquidity. Here, once again, the developed nations won out, leaving the EMs, and particularly India’s Raghuram Rajan – who has been pleading for far more coordination between central banks in a time of globla tightening – high and dry.

  • RBI’S RAJAN: POLICY TIGHTENING MUSTN’T UPSET GLOBAL ECONOMY
  • RAJAN SAYS INFLATION IS HURTING GROWTH
  • INDIA’S RAJAN SAYS BRINGING DOWN INFLATION BIGGEST CHALLENGE
  • RAJAN: DEVELOPED, EM NATIONS AGREE ON NEED TO CALIBRATE POLICY

What inflation? As for coordination, here is what the G-20 did agree on: whatever Yellen says, goes:

Financial markets had been wary of the possibility of friction between advanced and emerging economies, but nothing suggested the meeting would cause ripples on Monday. “The text of the communiqué indicates that the standard U.S. line that what is good for the core of the world economy is good for all seems to have won out,” said Huw McKay, a senior economist at Westpac, noting there was nothing that could be taken as “inflammatory” about recent volatility in markets.

 

There was a nod to concerns by emerging nations that the Federal Reserve consider the impact of its policy tapering, which has led to bouts of capital flight from some of the more vulnerable markets.

 

“All our central banks maintain their commitment that monetary policy settings will continue to be carefully calibrated and clearly communicated, in the context of ongoing exchange of information and being mindful of impacts on the global economy,” the communiqué read. There was never much expectation the Fed would consider actually slowing the pace of tapering, but its emerging peers had at least hoped for more cooperation on policy.

 

Hockey said there had been honest discussions among members on the impact of tapering and that newly installed Fed Chair Janet Yellen was “hugely impressive” when dealing with them.

Indeed, in the three weeks that Yellen has been Chairmanwoman, she has been truly hugely impressive. It’s the next three years that may be more problematic.

Ukraine May Or May Not Have A Crisis Deal As S&P Warns Of Sovereign Default | Zero Hedge

Ukraine May Or May Not Have A Crisis Deal As S&P Warns Of Sovereign Default | Zero Hedge.

Several hours ago, and a day after the latest truce lasted about a few minutes before the the shooting returned and resulted in the bloodiest day of Ukraine’s protests so far, there was hope that the situation in Ukraine may finally be getting resolved, when Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich announced plans for early elections in a series of concessions to his pro-European opponents. As Reuters reported earlier, Russian-backed Yanukovich, under pressure to quit from mass demonstrations in central Kiev, promised a national unity government and constitutional change to reduce his powers, as well as the presidential polls. He made the announcement in a statement on the presidential website without waiting for a signed agreement with opposition leaders after at least 77 people were killed in the worst violence since Ukraine became independent 22 years ago. This comes in the aftermath of S&P’s announcement overnight that the Ukraine will default in absence of favorable changes.

So is this the favorable change that everyone has been expecting. Nope.

First, it was Russia’s turn to remind everyone that it is Russia’s decision whether or not it will allow the nations that has the bulk of its European gas pipelines crossing its territory to leave its sphere of influence. To wit, Russia announced that it plans to wait before issuing additional financial support to Ukraine’s govt under $15b package, FinMin Anton Siluanov says in interview in Hong Kong, adding that Ukraine’s central bank may be wasting intl reserves defending hryvnia. Almos as if Russia would like the Ukraine to become insolvent and thus even more dependent on its good graces.

And then it was Europe’s turn. As WSJ reported, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters that “A lack of credibility will hang over all negotiations with Yanukovych’s participation. It seems the atmosphere in Kiev, especially after the death of so many people, may prompt the people in the Maidan to say: ‘We won’t discuss anything anymore with Yanukovych’.… The situation is changing so dramatically that this [deal] doesn’t necessarily need to be accepted by the Maidan, which considering thousands of people there make it the main reference point in Ukraine. … It’s too early for optimistic conclusions.”

He also said Poland’s efforts in Ukraine are an “investment in our security.” “It seems an increasing number of Poles understand that for a secure Poland an independent Ukraine is needed,” he said.

“It would be naive to assume Yanukovych has any good will—there’s nothing behind him but the wall. I don’t know anyone in the world who could say he trusts President Yanukovych. …

“I understand people in the Maidan who say ‘We don’t trust this man’ and that his departure is a condition for this deal. Those people need to be understood—bodies of people killed the other night are still there.

“But in order not to jeopardize this effort, in spite of myself I’m saying: ‘President Yanukovych should be at the table.’”

It was unclear as of this moment whether Yanukovich was at the table but what is clear is the following:

  • UKRAINE PACT SIGNING DELAYED, WSJ SAYS, CITING DIPLOMATS
  • GERMAN, POLISH MINISTERS RETURN TO MEETING W/UKRAINE PRESIDENT

Did they take him out?

And some more details from Dow Jones:

  • Signing of Anticrisis Pact in Ukraine Delayed — Diplomats and Officials
  • Ukraine Opposition Leaders, EU Diplomats in Talks With Protesters on Pact Terms
  • Polish PM Tusk: Some Protesters Seeking Immediate Yanukovych Resignation
  • Poland’s Tusk: “There’s Nothing Behind (Yanukovych) but the Wall”
  • Poland’s Tusk: “In Spite of Myself, I’m Saying Yanukovych Should Be at the Table”

In other words, no deal, as the confusion and escalation will go on, until either a CIA-installed, pro-Western puppet government is installed (with the aid of said West of course – see Victoria Nuland leaked phone conversation), or until the Ukraine taps out and demands unconditional help from Putin.

At this point there does not appear to be a middle ground.

Ukrainian lawmakers scuffle in the country’s Parliament after the speaker
delayed debate on a resolution to reduce the powers of President Viktor
Yanukovych.
 – Reuters

 

Ukraine Region Declares Independence Sending Dollar Bonds To Record Low; Russian Ruble Tumbles To 5 Year Low | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Region Declares Independence Sending Dollar Bonds To Record Low; Russian Ruble Tumbles To 5 Year Low | Zero Hedge.

The events in the Ukraine continue to deteriorate. Moments ago Lawmakers in Ukraine’s Lviv region, declared independence after backers evicted appointed governor overnight. Lviv’s parliament formed executive committee with department heads in Governor Oleh Salo’s administration that will take over functions of regional government, Oksana Dmetryv, a spokeswoman for Speaker Petro Kolodiy, said today by phone from Lviv. Protesters also seized headquarters of security services in Lviv, a region of 2.5 million people bordering Poland. Elsewhere, there were reports of more military vehicles crossing through Kiev: if there are any more Molotov Cocktail video follow ups we will be sure to capture them.

Still, to expect president Yanukovich (or Putin) to just sit there and let the country be torn apart by secessionists is naive. As Reuters reportrs, Yanukovich accused pro-European opposition leaders on Wednesday of trying to seize power by force after at least 26 people died in the worst violence since the former Soviet republic gained independence. European Union leaders said they were urgently preparing targeted sanctions against those responsible for a crackdown on protesters who have been occupying central Kiev for almost three months since Yanukovich spurned a far-reaching trade deal with the EU and accepted a $15-billion Russian bailout.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman insisted the Kremlin was sticking to a policy of not intervening in Ukraine, although his point man has called for action to crush the protests. The Kremlin said Putin and Yanukovich spoke by telephone overnight, calling the events an attempted coup. Moscow announced the resumption of stalled aid to Kiev on Monday with a $2-million cash injection hours before the crackdown began.

So far, however, the implicit Russian backing of the Ukraine as is is not doing much as both the Ukraine Dollar short-bonds due June 2014 have fallen more than 2 points to a record low of 94.25 according to Tradeweb, while the Russian Ruble has just tumbled to its lowest levels against the dollar since 2009.

The market is finally starting to notice, and realize that nothing in the Ukraine is contained, and the consequences form a prolonged civil war would be dire for everyone involved. Which, as is the case in every proxy war, just happens to be everyone.

China’s Liquidity Bubble Hits A Record: China Banks Issue 50% More Loans Than Fed And BOJ QE Combined | Zero Hedge

China’s Liquidity Bubble Hits A Record: China Banks Issue 50% More Loans Than Fed And BOJ QE Combined | Zero Hedge.

Overnight the PBOC released the latest Chinese bank loan and liquidity data for the month of January. Those who have been following our recent series on Chinese liquidity injections will know that when it comes to the real source of global liquidity, it is China that is the true unprecedented juggernaut, putting both the Fed and the BOJ’s puny QE programs to shame (see “Chart Of The Day: How China’s Stunning $15 Trillion In New Liquidity Blew Bernanke’s QE Out Of The Water“, “Some Stunning Perspective: China Money Creation Blows US And Japan Out Of The Water“). And January’s data was simply the final exclamation mark in a decade-long series in which China’s prosperity has been simply the result of an exponentially increasing amount of loan and liquidity creation by the Chinese semi-national and government backstopped financial system.

Here are the numbers:

Total Chinese loan creation in January was CNY 1.32 trillion, or $218 billion. While January traditionally sees a pick up in loan creation (and demand), the 174% increase in bank loans from December was an unprecedented number, was above the CNY 1.1 trillion, and CNY 250 billion more than a year ago. More notably, this was the largest monthly bank loan injection since January 2010. The last time China scrambled to inject massive amounts of bank loans was in late 2008 and early 2009 when the world was ending, and it was China’s money that stabilized the global financial system far more so than the Fed’s whose QE 1 did not begin in earnest until March 2009.

The far broader monetary aggregate, Total Social Financing, which is the most encompassing calculation of credit and liquidity created in China in any one month, rose to CNY 2.58 trillion. This was more than double the December’s $1.23 trillion, and beat last January’s CNY 2.545 trillion. In fact, this month’s broad liquidity creation was the largest monthly amount in China’s history!

 

Here is what Reuters had to say about the overnight data:

January’s lending surge aside, China’s central bank has consistently signaled in recent months that it wants to temper credit growth to slow a rapid rise in debt levels across the economy.

 

It has focused in particular on keeping short-term interest rates elevated to force banks to stop lending to speculators or high-risk borrowers.

 

Analysts polled by Reuters in January said they expect China’s economy to grow 7.4 per cent this year, an enviable performance for a major economy, but still the worst for China in 14 years. The economy grew 7.7 per cent last year.

Here’s the problem: one can’t put the January lending surge aside, as it came at a time when for the second time in six months the PBOC tried to taper, only to be forced to not only bail out its money markets, but is on the verge of a bankruptcy tsunami involving its shadow banking products, the first of which it also bailed out despite repeated warnings this time it means business and would let it die. In this context, the January number is precisely what it appears: the bank’s logical response to a liquidity crunch as the Chinese regime finds itself in the same spot that the Fed has been in for the past 5 years – it must keep the monetary spice flowing, or else the party is over. And just like the Fed, and now the BOJ, so too does China not want to deal with the fall out if all it takes to created yet another quarter of increasingly subpar economic growth is another record of funny money conceived out of thin air.

The only problem is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to hide all the pieces of funny money, most of which result in bad and otherwise impaired loans, under the rug. And just to show the problem in its context, here is how China’s banks created some 50% more in bank loans in January than the QE credit money created by both the Fed and the BOJ combined.

And finally, here is China’s nearly half a trillion in total liquidity added to the system in just one month (some deleveraging, right?) looks compared to the Fed and the BOJ’s much maligned and unprecedented uncovnentional monetary policy.

Government Lays Groundwork To Confiscate Your 401k and IRA: “This Is Happening”

Government Lays Groundwork To Confiscate Your 401k and IRA: “This Is Happening”.

Mac Slavo
February 13th, 2014
SHTFplan.com

uncle-sam-retirement

This morning Reuters obtained a leaked proposal disclosing that European Union officials are looking for new and innovative ways to fund their immense debt levels. As noted by Zero Hedge, they’re no longer turning exclusively to central bankers to simply print more money as needed. Because last year’s bank bail-in forcing the confiscation of funds from average depositors in Cyprus worked so well, EU regulators and bankers have determined that they’ll use a similar method to fund their future endeavors.

In a nutshell, and in Reuters’ own words, “the savings of the European Union’s 500 million citizens could be used to fund long-term investments to boost the economy and help plug the gap left by banks since the financial crisis, an EU document says.”

The solution? “The Commission will ask the bloc’s insurance watchdog in the second half of this year for advice on a possible draft law “to mobilize more personal pension savings for long-term financing”, the document said.”

Mobilize, once again, is a more palatable word than, say, confiscate.

This is what happens when governments run out of money.

But if you think this is limited to just Europe, then consider the words of President Barack Obama in his recent State of the Union address.

For all intents and purposes, a similar groundwork is being laid right here in America.

They’ve already taken over the health care industry… why not nationalize our retirement savings while they’re at it?

(Reprinted with permission from Sovereign Man. You can read the full analysis here.)

This is basically the offer that the President of the United States floated last night.

And like an unctuously overgeled used car salesman, he actually pitched Americans on loaning their retirement savings to the US government with a straight face, guaranteeing “a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. . .”

This is his new “MyRA” program. And the aim is simple– dupe unwitting Americans to plow their retirement savings into the US government’s shrinking coffers.

We’ve been talking about this for years. I have personally written since 2009 that the US government would one day push US citizens into the ‘safety and security’ of US Treasuries.

Back in 2009, almost everyone else thought I was nuts for even suggesting something so sacrilegious about the US government and financial system.

But the day has arrived. And POTUS stated almost VERBATIM what I have been writing for years.

The government is flat broke.Even by their own assessment, the US government’s “net worth” is NEGATIVE 16 trillion. That’s as of the end of 2012 (the 2013 numbers aren’t out yet). But the trend is actually worsening.

In 2009, the government’s net worth was negative $11.45 trillion. By 2010, it had dropped to minus $13.47 trillion. By 2011, minus $14.78 trillion. And by 2012, minus $16.1 trillion.

Here’s the thing: according to the IRS, there is well over $5 trillion in US individual retirement accounts. For a government as bankrupt as Uncle Sam is, $5 trillion is irresistible.

They need that money. They need YOUR money. And this MyRA program is the critical first step to corralling your hard earned retirement funds.

At our event here in Chile last year, Jim Rogers nailed this right on the head when he and Ron Paul told our audience that the government would try to take your retirement funds:

I don’t know how much more clear I can be: this is happening. This is exactly what bankrupt governments do. And it’s time to give serious, serious consideration to shipping your retirement funds overseas before they take yours.

As former Congressman Ron Paul notes, the government will stop at nothing.

“They’ll use force and they’ll use intimidation and they’ll use guns, because you can’t challenge the State and you can’t challenge the State’s so-called right to control the money,” warns Paul. “It’s already indicated that they will confiscate funds and they will [confiscate] pension funds.”

This didn’t just happen over night. The move to make this reality has been going on for quite some time. The first time it was mentioned publicly in any official capacity was at a 2010 Congressional hearing:

Democrats in the Senate on Thursday held a recess hearing covering a taxpayer bailout of union pensions and a plan to seize private 401(k) plans to more “fairly” distribute taxpayer-funded pensions to everyone.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee heard from hand-picked witnesses advocating the infamous “Guaranteed Retirement Account” (GRA) authored by Theresa Guilarducci.

In a nutshell, under the GRA system government would seize private 401(k) accounts, setting up an additional 5% mandatory payroll tax to dole out a “fair” pension to everyone using that confiscated money coupled with the mandated contributions.  This would, of course, be a sister government ponzi scheme working in tandem with Social Security, the primary purpose being to give big government politicians additional taxpayer funds to raid to pay for their out-of-control spending.

You’d think that such an idea would be immediately dismissed by the American public, but it has only gained steam since, as evidenced by a 2012 hearing held at the U.S. Labor Department:

The hearing, held in the Labor Department’s main auditorium, was monitored by NSC staff and featured a line up of left-wing activists including one representative of the AFL-CIO who advocated for more government regulation over private retirement accounts and even the establishment of government-sponsored annuities that would take the place of 401k plans.

“This hearing was set up to explore why Americans are not saving as much for their retirement as they could,” explains National Seniors Council National Director Robert Crone, “However, it is clear that this is the first step towards a government takeover. It feels just like the beginning of the debate over health care and we all know how that ended up.

Such “reforms” would effectively end private retirement accounts in America, Crone warns.

A few years ago the government of the United States of America nationalized nearly 1/6th of our economy when they took over the health care system with forced mandates. In the process they essentially took control of $1.6 trillion in yearly industry revenues.

But that’s nothing compared to private savings. The total amount of retirement assets in America, including 401k, IRA and savings accounts is around $21 trillion. With our national debt coincidentally approaching the same, the government sees big money and potentially a way out of our country’s fiscal disaster.

This will start voluntarily with the MyRA and other state-sponsored programs. But when not enough Americans are making it their patriotic duty to turn over their funds to their government, they’ll mandate compliance with the stroke of a pen just as they did with thePatient Affordable Care Act.

And just like Obamacare it will be enforced by the barrel of a gun. Failure to comply will mean confiscation without recourse and prison time.

All they need now is a trigger.

And that trigger will likely come in the form of another stock market collapse. Wipe out Americans’ in a stock market crash and scare the heck out of them with more economic bad news, and millions of our countrymen will be all too willing to hand it over to Uncle Sam. Panic is a powerful motivator and what better way to get people on board than by threatening them with squalor and destitution in their old age if they don’t go along with it?

Government officials have been actively working to make this a reality for years. The Europeans are doing the same.

You can put your head in the sand or cover your ears and pretend this is not happening, but that won’t change the outcome.

They will take everything they can get their hands on.

It Begins… Another High-Yield Chinese Shadow Banking Trust Defaults | Zero Hedge

It Begins… Another High-Yield Chinese Shadow Banking Trust Defaults | Zero Hedge.

While the eyes of the world were focused on the now infamous “Credit Equals Gold #1” Chinese wealth management product – it’s imminent default and last-minute bailout by ‘investors’ unknown – thecoal industry in China continued to collapse (as we noted here). We noted at the time how bailing out current high-yield product investors would merely amplify the problems down the line and it seems that Chinese authorities have heard that message. As Reuters reports, a high-yield investment product backed by a loan to a debt-ridden coal company failed to repay investors when it matured last Friday, state media reported on Wednesday.

Via Reuters,

A high-yield investment product backed by a loan to a debt-ridden coal company failed to repay investors when it matured last Friday, state media reported on Wednesday, in the latest sign of financial stress in China’s shadow bank sector.

It matured on Feb. 7, but CCB passed on an announcement from Jilin Trust saying ‘We currently can’t be certain when (Liansheng) funds will be returned,'” the official Shanghai Securities News quoted an unnamed investor in the trust product as saying.

Though the maturity date has already passed, producing a technical default, Jilin Trust appears to be working to recover investor funds.

“Restructuring isn’t bankruptcy. As far as we know, there is no problem with the firm’s assets. The firm is in negotiations with investors,” the paper quoted an unnamed Jilin Trust official as saying.

Backed by China’s 2nd largest lender China Construction Bank (note we discussed the largest shadow-bank here), the product is as follows:

The fourth tranche of Jilin Trust’s product is name “Songhua River #77 Shanxi Opulent Blessing Project” raised 289 million yuan from investors in February 2012, promising a 9.8% yield – we will see if this technical default results in actual losses for investors.

backed by a coal-industry loan to Shanxi Liansheng Energy Co Ltd…

Shares of China’s biggest listed coal producers have dropped to their lowest valuations on record as falling fuel prices make it harder to repay debt.

China’s coal industry is “dead,” said Laban Yu, a Jefferies Group LLC analyst in Hong Kong with an underperform rating on all three stocks. “There are 10,000 producers in China. A lot of them are taking on debt. It gets harder and harder to service debts when coal prices keep falling.

and the risk of more defaults is not going away – in fact will onkly get worse in the next 3 months!!

For those who have forgotten, below is a quick schematic of what a WMP looks like:

As Michael PettisJim ChanosZero Hedge (numerous times), and now George Soros have explained. Simply put –

“There is an unresolved self-contradiction in China’s current policies: restarting the furnaces also reignites exponential debt growth, which cannot be sustained for much longer than a couple of years.”

The “eerie resemblances” – as Soros previously noted – to the US in 2008 have profound consequences for China and the world – nowhere is that more dangerously exposed (just as in the US) than in the Chinese shadow banking sector as explained above.

The bottom-line is that China seems to be testing the reaction of markets to small ‘technical’ defaults (such as this one)…

Technical defaults caused by repayment delays have occurred before, but market watchers say that China’s shadow bank sector is still waiting for a precedent-setting default in which investors are forced to absorb substantial losses.

Such an event could shatter the widespread assumption that even high-yielding investments carry an implicit guarantee from state banks. But Jilin Trust is apparently still looking for ways to recover investors’ funds.

The question is – doe s the PBOC really think that desparate borrowers will stop borrowing – and contract the size of the shadow-banking system reining in the out of control credit creation (and its subprime-like consequences)…

As we previously noted,

…borrowers are facing rising pressures for loan repayments in an environment of overcapacity and unprofitable investments. Unable to generate cash to service their loans, they have to turn to the shadow-banking sector for credit and avoid default. The result is an explosive growth of the size of the shadow-banking sector (now conservatively estimated to account for 20-30 percent of GDP).

Understandably, the PBOC does not look upon the shadow banking sector favorably. Since shadow-banking sector gets its short-term liquidity mainly through interbanking loans, the PBOC thought that it could put a painful squeeze on this sector through reducing liquidity. Apparently, the PBOC underestimated the effects of its measure. Largely because Chinese borrowers tend to cross-guarantee each other’s debt, squeezing even a relatively small number of borrowers could produce a cascade of default. The reaction in the credit market was thus almost instant and frightening. Borrowers facing imminent default are willing to borrow at any rate while banks with money are unwilling to loan it out no matter how attractive the terms are.

Should this situation continue, China’s real economy would suffer a nasty shock. Chain default would produce a paralyzing effect on economic activities even though there is no run on the banks. Clearly, this is not a prospect the CCP’s top leadership relishes.

So the PBOC’s efforts are merely exacerbating the situation for the worst companies…

However, this just hit the wire…

  • *CHINA BANS BOND TRADE BETWEEN PROPRIETARY, WMP ACCOUNTS

Which sounds ominously like the PBOC won;t allow banks to bail their own WMP investors out and take the risky crap back on their off-balance-sheet books… i.e. The PBOC wants real defaults… not ‘technical’ defaults

Europe Considers Wholesale Savings Confiscation, Enforced Redistribution | Zero Hedge

Europe Considers Wholesale Savings Confiscation, Enforced Redistribution | Zero Hedge.

At first we thought Reuters had been punk’d in its article titled “EU executive sees personal savings used to plug long-term financing gap” which disclosed the latest leaked proposal by the European Commission, but after several hours without a retraction, we realized that the story is sadly true. Sadly, because everything that we warned about in “There May Be Only Painful Ways Out Of The Crisis” back in September of 2011, and everything that the depositors and citizens of Cyprus had to live through, seems on the verge of going continental. In a nutshell, and in Reuters’ own words, “the savings of the European Union’s 500 million citizens could be used to fund long-term investments to boost the economy and help plug the gap left by banks since the financial crisis, an EU document says.” What is left unsaid is that the “usage” will be on a purely involuntary basis, at the discretion of the “union”, and can thus best be described as confiscation.

The source of this stunner is a document seen be Reuters, which describes how the EU is looking for ways to “wean” the 28-country bloc from its heavy reliance on bank financing and find other means of funding small companies, infrastructure projects and other investment. So as Europe finally admits that the ECB has failed to unclog its broken monetary pipelines for the past five years – something we highlight every month (most recently in No Waking From Draghi’s Monetary Nightmare: Eurozone Credit Creation Tumbles To New All Time Low), the commissions report finally admits that “the economic and financial crisis has impaired the ability of the financial sector to channel funds to the real economy, in particular long-term investment.”

The solution? “The Commission will ask the bloc’s insurance watchdog in the second half of this year for advice on a possible draft law “to mobilize more personal pension savings for long-term financing”, the document said.”

Mobilize, once again, is a more palatable word than, say, confiscate.

And yet this is precisely what Europe is contemplating:

Banks have complained they are hindered from lending to the economy by post-crisis rules forcing them to hold much larger safety cushions of capital and liquidity.

The document said the “appropriateness” of the EU capital and liquidity rules for long-term financing will be reviewed over the next two years, a process likely to be scrutinized in the United States and elsewhere to head off any risk of EU banks gaining an unfair advantage.

But wait: there’s more!

Inspired by the recently introduced “no risk, guaranteed return” collectivized savings instrument in the US better known as MyRA, Europe will also complete a study by the end of this year on thefeasibility of introducing an EU savings account, open to individuals whose funds could be pooled and invested in small companies.

Because when corporations refuse to invest money in Capex, who will invest? Why you, dear Europeans. Whether you like it or not.

But wait, there is still more!

Additionally, Europe is seeking to restore the primary reason why Europe’s banks are as insolvent as they are: securitizations, which the persuasive salesmen and sexy saleswomen of Goldman et al sold to idiot European bankers, who in turn invested the money or widows and orphans only to see all of it disappear.

It is also seeking to revive the securitization market, which pools loans like mortgages into bonds that banks can sell to raise funding for themselves or companies. The market was tarnished by the financial crisis when bonds linked to U.S. home loans began defaulting in 2007, sparking the broader global markets meltdown over the ensuing two years.

The document says the Commission will “take into account possible future increases in the liquidity of a number of securitization products” when it comes to finalizing a new rule on what assets banks can place in their new liquidity buffers. This signals a possible loosening of the definition of eligible assets from the bloc’s banking watchdog.

Because there is nothing quite like securitizing feta cheese-backed securities and selling it to a whole new batch of widows and orphans.

And topping it all off is a proposal to address a global change in accounting principles that will make sure that an accurate representation of any bank’s balance sheet becomes a distant memory:

More controversially, the Commission will consider whether the use of fair value or pricing assets at the going rate in a new globally agreed accounting rule “is appropriate, in particular regarding long-term investing business models”.

To summarize: forced savings “mobilization”, the introduction of a collective and involuntary CapEx funding “savings” account, the return and expansion of securitization, and finally, tying it all together, is a change to accounting rules that will make the entire inevitable catastrophe smells like roses until it all comes crashing down.

So, aside from all this, Europe is “fixed.”

The only remaining question is: why leak this now? Perhaps it’s simply because the reallocation of “cash on the savings account sidelines” in the aftermath of the Cyprus deposit confiscation, into risk assets was not foreceful enough? What better way to give it a much needed boost than to leak that everyone’s cash savings are suddenly fair game in Europe’s next great wealth redistribution strategy.

Angela Merkel Furious At Nuland’s “Fuck The EU” Comments | Zero Hedge

Angela Merkel Furious At Nuland’s “Fuck The EU” Comments | Zero Hedge.

A few short months after Putin cornered the US state department into a disastrous foreign relations dead end with the false flag Syrian escalation which achieved none of the predetermined nat-gas-to-Europe pipeline ambitions, instead alieanting the US from both staunch allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, the Russian president has just managed to inflict yet more pain on US foreign policy this time by infuriating (even more) a core US ally in Europe – Angela Merkel. Just two days after the phone recording of Victoria Nuland emerged in which she not only made it explicitly clear it was the US who was the puppetmaster behind the Ukranian opposition with the traditional CIA tractics as was expected all along, but also explained just how the US freels toward the EU with the now infamous “Fuck the EU” comment, Angela Merkel called the obscene remark “absolutely unacceptable.”

And then, Nuland not knowing when to stop, proceeded to insert foot in mouth just a little deeper: “”I am not going to comment on private diplomatic conversations. But it was pretty impressive tradecraft. The audio was extremely clear,” she told reporters during a visit to Kiev.”

At least she indirectly complemented Putin on being smart enough to not only intercept what appears to have been an unencrypted phone call, but to release it at just the right time as the entire world’s attention turns to Russia and by extension, the Ukraine.

Because in retrospect Putin does deserve praise: having won the Ukraine over Europe’s cries of horror, he has also managed, in the past year, to alienate the US from Israel, Saudi Arabia and now, Germany. And all this without saying a single word, let along firing a shot.

So now that we know the apriori winner, the loser has no choice but to engage major damage control, which is borderline delusional. From Reuters:

[Nuland] said she did not foresee damage to relations with opposition leaders, saying they “know exactly where we stand in respect of a non-violent solution to the problem.”

 

Of relations with Russia, she said Washington and Moscow had “very deep, very broad and complex” discussions on a range of international issues including Iran and “frank and comradely discussions” on Ukraine.

 

U.S. officials did not deny the authenticity of the recording and said Nuland apologized to EU colleagues for the comment.

 

Angela Merkel, already furious with Washington for several months over reports that U.S. officials bugged her own phone, found Nuland’s remarks “totally unacceptable”, a spokeswoman for the German chancellor said.

Yet, it’s one thing to delude oneself that the US is still the undisputed world’s superpower, it is far worse to express the kind of hubris that Nuland did, when she communicated and discussedconfidential US geopolitical strategy on an unencrypted phone line – traditionally a fireable offense, if not worse.

In Washington, U.S. officials said Nuland and Pyatt apparently used unencrypted cellphones, which are easy to monitor. The officials said smart phones issued to State Department officials had data encryption but not voice encryption.

 

In Nuland’s call, apparently recorded about 12 days ago when Ukrainian opposition leaders were considering an offer from Yanukovich to join his cabinet, she suggested that one of three leading figures might accept a post but two others should stay out. In the end, all three rejected the offer.

The biggest loser here, however, continues to be the Ukraine, whose people are facing a cold winter without assurances they will have Russian nat gas, and a government that is a chess piece in an ongoing power play between Europe and Russia, now that the CIA has taken a back seat. Incidentally, Russia made it quite clear that it demands Ukraine’s full allegiance and as Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov told reporters overnight, Russia  would withold its second loan payment to the troubled nation unless the Ukraine, which owes a “not insignificant” sum for natgas, makes the payment.

In other words, just like Greece has become a money “tolling” intermediary for the ECB and German banks, in which Europe pretends to bail out the crushed country when in reality it is just funding debt payments to its own banks, so the Ukraine has now become an intermediary, in which loan payments from Russia go to pay… Russia’s Gazprom. And in the process Russia pulls the Ukraine from the European sphere of influence and back into that of the New Normal USSR.

Game, set, match Putin. Again.

But wait, there’s more. Because Putin, unsatisfied with simple making a mockery of the US State Department, decided to rub it in some more. The Hill reports:

Rising animosity between the former Cold War powers was on full display Friday when Russia chose a former figure skater who tweeted out a racially charged picture of President Obama for the symbolic lighting of the Olympic cauldron.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin hoped hosting the first Games since the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which the U.S. boycotted, would showcase a “new Russia” emerging from the ashes of the Soviet Union as he enters his 15th year in power.

 

Instead the U.S. and its western allies have consistently painted the picture of a corrupt autocracy.

 

The media’s focus on the persecution of gays in Russia, terrorism and Russia’s lackluster infrastructure – many hotels don’t have potable water even though the Games are estimated to have cost more than $50 billion, the most ever – have further infuriated the Kremlin.

 

“I understand how the press here works. They need hot issues in order to be read, to have high circulation,” Sergey Kislyak, Putin’s envoy to Washington, told The Washington Diplomat last month.

That’s ok – as long as the US population can keep itself distracted from the sheer implosion of US standing internationally by looking at tweeted images of decrepit toilets and busted Sochi plumbing from a self-indulgent US press corps, and continue feeling good about itself, then all is well. After all, that’s just what Putin wants.

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