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Horizon Bancorp to acquire 14 TCF National Bank branches in Michigan

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Category: blogSource: theflyonthewallMay 25th, 2021

Here"s Why You Should Hold Citizens Financial (CFG) Stock Now

While acquisitions to beef up the presence and strengthen the banking business will enhance Citizens Financial's (CFG) balance sheet, shirking margins and rising expenses are worrisome. Citizens Financial Group CFG has been making inorganic moves to diversify its presence and businesses. This is backed by the company’s decent liquidity position. However, continued cost escalations are limiting its bottom-line growth, while the low interest rate environment is affecting the net interest margin (NIM).In early September, the company clinched a definitive merger agreement with JMP Group LLC JMP in an all-cash transaction. This marks the company’s fourth purchase since May. The company also closed the acquisition of Willamette Management Associates, which is expected to amplify Citizens Financial’s corporate financial advisory competencies.As part of its depository acquisitions advance strategy, In July, Citizens Financial announced a definitive agreement to acquire Investors Bancorp, Inc., ISBC, and entered an agreement to acquire 80 East Coast branches and the national online deposit business from HSBC Bank U.S.A, N.A — the America subsidiary of the U.K.-based HSBC Holdings plc HSBC — in May. The acquisitions of Investors combined with HSBC create a strong franchise in the greater New York City and the Philadelphia Metro areas, and New Jersey by adding 234 branches. Apart from this, the move is expected to add $29 billion of deposits and $24 billion of loans, creating a strong foundation for revenue growth.The company’s organic growth measures also remain encouraging. Citizens Financial’s loans and deposits witnessed a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4% and 7.6%, respectively, over the last five years (2016-2020). We believe that it is well-positioned to grow further, backed by gradually improving the U.S. economy.Citizens Financial also remains on track for the execution of its revenue and efficiency initiatives. The most recent “Tapping Our Potential” (TOP) program — TOP 6 — is expected to deliver $400-$425 million in pre-tax run-rate benefit by 2021 end. Identifying better transformational efficiency opportunities, it is now developing the TOP 7 Program. These efforts are likely to result in expense savings and alleviate the bottom-line pressure.Shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have rallied 26.9% over the past six months compared with the industry’s growth of 15.2%.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research However, the company’s NIM has been shrinking due to the decline in the interest rates to the near-zero level in 2019 and 2020 in order to protect the economy from the coronavirus-led mayhem. Notably, the declining trend continued in the first six months of 2021. Despite decent loan demand, NIM is expected to continue being impacted in the near term due to the Federal Reserve’s accommodative policy stance.A significant portion of Citizens Financial’s loan portfolio comprises majorly commercial and real estate loans (72% of loans and leases and loans held for sale as of Jun 30, 2021). Such lack of diversification and high exposure can be risky for the company if the real estate sector weakens.Lastly, Citizens Financial’s non-interest expenses witnessed a CAGR of 4.5% over the last five years (2016-2020), with an increasing trend in the first six months of this year. Costs are likely to remain elevated due to investments in newer technologies and building fee income capabilities organically. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report JMP Group LLC (JMP): Free Stock Analysis Report Investors Bancorp, Inc. (ISBC): Free Stock Analysis Report HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC): Free Stock Analysis Report Citizens Financial Group, Inc. (CFG): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Rabobank: We"re In A Charlton Heston Movie, But Which One?

Rabobank: We're In A Charlton Heston Movie, But Which One? By Michael Every of Rabobank We're in a Charlton Heston movie: which one? A reference to Charlton Heston means I lose readers who, despite having the sum of human knowledge at their fingertips, don’t know much recent history. Yet we are all in a Heston movie regardless – we just don’t know which one yet. That’s because markets, who also have the sum of human knowledge at their fingertips, don’t know much recent history either. I will run through the news Heston-ally, and suggest what that means for the movie we are all in. Let’s start with the good news on Covid. Bad as it gets, we are not in 1971’s ‘The Omega Man’, about the last-survivor of a Sino-Soviet biological war. However, the Fed flagged QE tapering. Philip Marey expects a formal announcement in November, with the actual start in December. FOMC Chair Powell expects tapering to end around mid-2022, implying a $20bn reduction in QE per meeting. The Fed’s dot plot shifted upward and moved closer to a first rate hike in 2022, with the participants evenly split between zero and 1-2 hikes; after 2022, it’s a steady pace of 3 hikes per year. The economic projections suggest the FOMC is still confident inflation spikes will be over by Q4 2022 – despite a record 73 ships waiting at LA/LB ports. (For the full report, please see here.) The market reaction, after initial confusion, was short US yields up,…and longer yields down and USD up. Recall how Minsky debt dynamics work - the change in the change is what matters; recall how pyramid schemes work; and recall how each previous attempt to normalize away from QE in an economy stronger than it is now has worked out. Taper tantrum fears? Not in DM, because there is no sign of any strength – thus the flattening curve. But for EM, inflation, stagflation, and policy-error deflation all now stalk the land. (Brazil just hiked rates to 6.25%, as expected: see here for more). See the key scene of 1968’s ‘The Planet of the Apes’ – with a lag. In October we could also see both a US government shutdown and a debt default if the spending and debt bill approved by the House of Representatives yesterday does not pass the Senate. As Philip also notes, this is a game of chicken in which the Democrats try to force the Republicans to share the blame for suspending the debt limit in light of the midterm elections in 2022. He adds that this stand-off is completely unnecessary, and if the Republicans don’t blink, the Democrats can still raise the debt limit and adopt a spending patch through budget reconciliation. However, this will raise the internal pressure in the Democratic Party regarding Biden’s legislative agenda by adding another time constraint (see here). See the chariot race in 1959’s ‘Ben Hur’- but which charioteer is President Biden? “China’s Evergrande to be saved!” says Bloomberg, quoting someone else. “Saved” means being split into three firms and nationalized, with no indication of which investors get how much money back. Given today the struggling firm has to repay $83.5m to USD debt holders, who won’t want cement, unfinished flats, or a nudge-nudge-wink-wink, we shall soon find out. Few observers saw a direct risk of a Lehman moment, despite the dynamic referred to above at play, because there are no truly free actors in Chinese markets. However, this ‘salvation’ is in line with a “Marxification” of the economy. The implications for China and the world are something markets refuse to consider because it would give them indigestion. See the end of 1973’s ‘Soylent Green’ - when markets prefer to see the ‘soy’ and the ‘green’. Energy prices continue to soar, despite official assurances the authorities saw this coming, aren’t surprised, and have clear plans for what to do about it. UK energy firms are toppling, and European economies that were preaching the need for immediate shifts in climate policy are suddenly subsidizing fossil fuels again to prevent a looming 1970’s recessionary-style energy-price shock. Which means other people have to pay more instead. Russia is meanwhile laughing all the way to the bank. See 1976’s ‘The Two-Minute Warning’ - and if you are conversant in Cockney, see 1953’s ‘The Pony Express’. The Biden administration is reportedly to nominate Saule Omarova to run the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the bureau within the Treasury that charters, regulates, and supervises all national banks and thrift institutions and the federally licensed branches and agencies of foreign banks in the US. Omarova is a law professor who has criticized crypto, and advocates for the government to have a much larger role in banking. That comes after the SEC’s Gensler’s comments this week on stablecoins. See 1974’s ‘Earthquake’ or 1975’s imaginatively titled ‘Airport 1975’. US President Biden and French President Macron are attempting to build bridges burned over AUKUS. The French ambassador is now to return to DC, and Biden to come to Europe for talks next month. However, word on the street is that France, and French agriculture, now have the excuse to kick the planned Australia – EU FTA into the long grass even if the rest of the EU is in favour. The UK has also been sent scuttling from any thoughts of joining the USMCA. However, geopolitics leads and trade usually follows in today’s atmosphere. Japan’s outgoing PM Suga has also been exceptionally forthright, stating China’s rapidly growing military influence and unilateral changing of the status quo could present a risk to Japan. That’s ahead of a first in-person Quad meeting to be held on Friday at the White House. See 1976’s ‘The Last Hard Men’ (and for those who prefer fantasy to Western, see ‘“Orcs”, Elves/Hobbits, and Dragons’). In short, the overall market backdrop is perfect for Heston. Yes, the world has changed dramatically from the epoch where a card-carrying member of the NRA and the Republican Party could be a major Hollywood celebrity. But today is again epic; and gritty; and dystopian; with disease; and economic crises; energy crises; political crises; geopolitical crises; ideological crises; inflation; stagflation; and the backdrop of a shift in the global financial architecture. Not that this doesn’t mean most markets, and modern movies, don’t want to ignore it all and keep partying on as in 1992’s “Wayne’s World”, in which Heston also made a guest-appearance. Try doing that with less QE, less gas, less crypto, and more Marxism and geopolitical risks though. “It's been quite a ride. I loved every minute of it.” Charlton Heston (1923 - 2008) Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 10:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 23rd, 2021

JPMorgan (JPM) Buys College Financial Planning Platform Frank

JPMorgan (JPM) acquires the college financial planning platform, Frank. JPMorgan JPM has acquired the college financial planning platform, Frank. The acquisition adds to the many deals entered by the bank over the past few months in a bid to compete with technology firms.The entire business of Frank, including its Easy FAFSA, Classfinder College Course Marketplace, Scholarships & Employment tools, and Financial Education and Careers content, is being acquired by the bank.Serving more than five million students at more than 6,000 higher education institutions, Frank’s simple online portal allows students to apply for financial aid in minutes and enroll in its catalog of affordable online college courses.Jennifer Piepszak, co-CEO of JPMorgan, stated, “We want to build lifelong relationships with our customers. Frank offers a unique opportunity for deeper engagement with students. Together, we’ll be able to expand our capabilities for students and their families, helping them financially prepare for college and other major moments in their future.”The founder and CEO of Frank, Charlie Javice, said, “We launched Frank to make college more accessible for students and their families, and have already helped millions across the nation. We look forward to joining the Chase family to further this mission. Together, we can multiply our impact to help more students and their families achieve their financial goals and education dreams.”The buyout is expected to accelerate JPMorgan’s strong foundation with students, including products, content and guidance for students of all ages, with branches and ATMs on or in close proximity to more than 300 college campuses across the country.Our TakeOf late, JPMorgan has been undertaking several strategic buyouts. The company has been on an expansion spree for a long time now. In a bid to expand into the dining business, recently, JPMorgan agreed to acquire the popular restaurant recommendation website, The Infatuation. Also, it signed a deal with Volkswagen AG’s VWAGY subsidiary, Volkswagen Financial Services, in a bid to enter the automotive industry and bolster digital payment competencies.A few other notable buyouts in recent months include that of OpenInvest, a 40% stake in Brazil's C6 Bank and 55ip. The deals are expected to help boost JPMorgan’s fee income.Further, as part of its plan of establishing a banking presence in the U.K., JPMorgan acquired one of the largest robo advisory firms of the U.K., Nutmeg. Also, it has recently launched its long-planned digital retail bank Chase in the region.While the bank’s expansion in the U.K. will help it in capitalizing on the acceleration of the digital banking boom, it is expected to face tough competition from the large traditional banks like HSBC Holdings HSBC and Barclays BCS, which are looking to expand digital offerings.So far this year, shares of JPMorgan have gained 20.4% compared with 23.8% growth recorded by the industry.2 Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Currently, the company carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM): Free Stock Analysis Report Barclays PLC (BCS): Free Stock Analysis Report HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC): Free Stock Analysis Report Volkswagen AG (VWAGY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 22nd, 2021

Futures Bounce On Evergrande Reprieve With Fed Looming

Futures Bounce On Evergrande Reprieve With Fed Looming Despite today's looming hawkish FOMC meeting in which Powell is widely expected to unveil that tapering is set to begin as soon as November and where the Fed's dot plot may signal one rate hike in 2022, futures climbed as investor concerns over China's Evergrande eased after the property developer negotiated a domestic bond payment deal. Commodities rallied while the dollar was steady. Contracts on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 flipped from losses to gains as China’s central bank boosted liquidity when it injected a gross 120BN in yuan, the most since January... ... and investors mulled a vaguely-worded statement from the troubled developer about an interest payment.  S&P 500 E-minis were up 23.0 points, or 0.53%, at 7:30 a.m. ET. Dow E-minis were up 199 points, or 0.60%, and Nasdaq 100 E-minis were up 44.00 points, or 0.29%. Among individual stocks, Fedex fell 5.8% after the delivery company cut its profit outlook on higher costs and stalled growth in shipments. Morgan Stanley says it sees the company’s 1Q issues getting “tougher from here.” Commodity-linked oil and metal stocks led gains in premarket trade, while a slight rise in Treasury yields supported major banks. However, most sectors were nursing steep losses in recent sessions. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers: Adobe (ADBE US) down 3.1% after 3Q update disappointed the high expectations of investors, though the broader picture still looks solid, Morgan Stanley said in a note Freeport McMoRan (FCX US), Cleveland- Cliffs (CLF US), Alcoa (AA US) and U.S. Steel (X US) up 2%-3% premarket, following the path of global peers as iron ore prices in China rallied Aethlon Medical (AEMD US) and Exela Technologies (XELAU US) advance along with other retail traders’ favorites in the U.S. premarket session. Aethlon jumps 21%; Exela up 8.3% Other so-called meme stocks also rise: ContextLogic +1%; Clover Health +0.9%; Naked Brand +0.9%; AMC +0.5% ReWalk Robotics slumps 18% in U.S. premarket trading, a day after nearly doubling in value Stitch Fix (SFIX US) rises 15.7% in light volume after the personal styling company’s 4Q profit and sales blew past analysts’ expectations Hyatt Hotels (H US) seen opening lower after the company launches a seven-million-share stock offering Summit Therapeutics (SMMT US) shares fell as much as 17% in Tuesday extended trading after it said the FDA doesn’t agree with the change to the primary endpoint that has been implemented in the ongoing Phase III Ri-CoDIFy studies when combining the studies Marin Software (MRIN US) surged more than 75% Tuesday postmarket after signing a new revenue-sharing agreement with Google to develop its enterprise technology platforms and software products The S&P 500 had fallen for 10 of the past 12 sessions since hitting a record high, as fears of an Evergrande default exacerbated seasonally weak trends and saw investors pull out of stocks trading at lofty valuations. The Nasdaq fell the least among its peers in recent sessions, as investors pivoted back into big technology names that had proven resilient through the pandemic. Focus now turns to the Fed's decision, due at 2 p.m. ET where officials are expected to signal a start to scaling down monthly bond purchases (see our preview here).  The Fed meeting comes after a period of market volatility stoked by Evergrande’s woes. China’s wider property-sector curbs are also feeding into concerns about a slowdown in the economic recovery from the pandemic. “Chair Jerome Powell could hint at the tapering approaching shortly,” said Sébastien Barbé, a strategist at Credit Agricole CIB. “However, given the current uncertainty factors (China property market, Covid, pace of global slowdown), the Fed should remain cautious when it comes to withdrawing liquidity support.” Meanwhile, confirming what Ray Dalio said that the taper will just bring more QE, Governing Council member Madis Muller said the  European Central Bank may boost its regular asset purchases once the pandemic-era emergency stimulus comes to an end. “Dovish signals could unwind some of the greenback’s gains while offering relief to stock markets,” Han Tan, chief market analyst at Exinity Group, wrote in emailed comments. A “hawkish shift would jolt markets, potentially pushing Treasury yields and the dollar past the upper bound of recent ranges, while gold and equities would sell off hunting down the next levels of support.” China avoided a major selloff as trading resumed following a holiday, after the country’s central bank boosted its injection of short-term cash into the financial system. MSCI’s Asia-Pacific index declined for a third day, dragged lower by Japan. Stocks were also higher in Europe. Basic resources - which bounced from a seven month low - and energy were among the leading gainers in the Stoxx Europe 600 index as commodity prices steadied after Beijing moved to contain fears of a spiraling debt crisis. Entain Plc rose more than 7%, extending Tuesday’s gain as it confirmed it received a takeover proposal from DraftKings Inc. Peer Flutter Entertainment Plc climbed after settling a legal dispute.  Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Entain shares jump as much as 11% after DraftKings Inc. offered to acquire the U.K. gambling company for about $22.4 billion. Vivendi rises as much as 3.1% in Paris, after Tuesday’s spinoff of Universal Music Group. Legrand climbs as much as 2.1% after Exane BNP Paribas upgrades to outperform and raises PT to a Street-high of EU135. Orpea shares falls as much as 2.9%, after delivering 1H results that Jefferies (buy) says were a “touch” below consensus. Bechtle slides as much as 5.1% after Metzler downgrades to hold from buy, saying persistent supply chain problems seem to be weighing on growth. Sopra Steria drops as much as 4.1% after Stifel initiates coverage with a sell, citing caution on company’s M&A strategy Despite the Evergrande announcement, Asian stocks headed for their longest losing streak in more than a month amid continued China-related concerns, with traders also eying policy decisions from major central banks. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 0.7% in its third day of declines, with TSMC and Keyence the biggest drags. China’s CSI 300 tumbled as much as 1.9% as the local market reopened following a two-day holiday. However, the gauge came off lows after an Evergrande unit said it will make a bond interest payment and as China’s central bank boosted liquidity.  Taiwan’s equity benchmark led losses in Asia on Wednesday, dragged by TSMC after a two-day holiday, while markets in Hong Kong and South Korea were closed. Key stock gauges in Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam rose “A liquidity injection from the People’s Bank of China accompanied the Evergrande announcement, which only served to bolster sentiment further,” according to DailyFX’s Thomas Westwater and Daniel Dubrovsky. “For now, it appears that market-wide contagion risk linked to a potential Evergrande collapse is off the table.” Japanese equities fell for a second day amid global concern over China’s real-estate sector, as the Bank of Japan held its key stimulus tools in place while flagging pressures on the economy. Electronics makers were the biggest drag on the Topix, which declined 1%. Daikin and Fanuc were the largest contributors to a 0.7% loss in the Nikkei 225. The BOJ had been expected to maintain its policy levers ahead of next week’s key ruling party election. Traders are keenly awaiting the Federal Reserve’s decision due later for clues on the U.S. central banks plan for tapering stimulus. “Markets for some time have been convinced that the BOJ has reached the end of the line on normalization and will remain in a holding pattern on policy until at least April 2023 when Governor Kuroda is scheduled to leave,” UOB economist Alvin Liew wrote in a note. “Attention for the BOJ will now likely shift to dealing with the long-term climate change issues.” In the despotic lockdown regime that is Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3% to close at 7,296.90, reversing an early decline in a rally led by mining and energy stocks. Banks closed lower for the fourth day in a row. Champion Iron was among the top performers after it was upgraded at Citi. IAG was among the worst performers after an earthquake caused damage to buildings in Melbourne. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3% to 13,215.80 In FX, commodity currencies rallied as concerns about China Evergrande Group’s debt troubles eased as China’s central bank boosted liquidity and investors reviewed a statement from the troubled developer about an interest payment. Overnight implied volatility on the pound climbed to the highest since March ahead of Bank of England’s meeting on Thursday. The British pound weakened after Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warnedthat people should prepare for longer-term high energy prices amid a natural-gas shortage that sent power costs soaring. Several U.K. power firms have stopped taking in new clients as small energy suppliers struggle to meet their previous commitments to sell supplies at lower prices. Overnight volatility in the euro rises above 10% for the first time since July ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision announcement. The Aussie jumped as much as 0.5% as iron-ore prices rebounded. Spot surged through option-related selling at 0.7240 before topping out near 0.7265 strikes expiring Wednesday, according to Asia- based FX traders.  Elsewhere, the yen weakened and commodity-linked currencies such as the Australian dollar pushed higher. In rates, the dollar weakened against most of its Group-of-10 peers. Treasury futures were under modest pressure in early U.S. trading, leaving yields cheaper by ~1.5bp from belly to long-end of the curve. The 10-year yield was at ~1.336% steepening the 2s10s curve by ~1bp as the front-end was little changed. Improved risk appetite weighed; with stock futures have recovering much of Tuesday’s losses as Evergrande concerns subside. Focal point for Wednesday’s session is FOMC rate decision at 2pm ET.   FOMC is expected to suggest it will start scaling back asset purchases later this year, while its quarterly summary of economic projections reveals policy makers’ expectations for the fed funds target in coming years in the dot-plot update; eurodollar positions have emerged recently that anticipate a hawkish shift Bitcoin dropped briefly below $40,000 for the first time since August amid rising criticism from regulators, before rallying as the mood in global markets improved. In commodities, Iron ore halted its collapse and metals steadied. Oil advanced for a second day. Bitcoin slid below $40,000 for the first time since early August before rebounding back above $42,000.   To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the aforementioned Federal Reserve decision and Chair Powell’s subsequent press conference. Otherwise on the data side, we’ll get US existing home sales for August, and the European Commission’s advance consumer confidence reading for the Euro Area in September. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.4% to 4,362.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.5% to 461.19 MXAP down 0.7% to 199.29 MXAPJ down 0.4% to 638.39 Nikkei down 0.7% to 29,639.40 Topix down 1.0% to 2,043.55 Hang Seng Index up 0.5% to 24,221.54 Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,628.49 Sensex little changed at 59,046.84 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% to 7,296.94 Kospi up 0.3% to 3,140.51 Brent Futures up 1.5% to $75.47/bbl Gold spot up 0.0% to $1,775.15 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 93.26 German 10Y yield rose 0.6 bps to -0.319% Euro little changed at $1.1725 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg What would it take to knock the U.S. recovery off course and send Federal Reserve policy makers back to the drawing board? Not much — and there are plenty of candidates to deliver the blow The European Central Bank will discuss boosting its regular asset purchases once the pandemic-era emergency stimulus comes to an end, but any such increase is uncertain, Governing Council member Madis Muller said Investors seeking hints about how Beijing plans to deal with China Evergrande Group’s debt crisis are training their cross hairs on the central bank’s liquidity management A quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded mixed as caution lingered ahead of upcoming risk events including the FOMC, with participants also digesting the latest Evergrande developments and China’s return to the market from the Mid-Autumn Festival. ASX 200 (+0.3%) was positive with the index led higher by the energy sector after a rebound in oil prices and as tech also outperformed, but with gains capped by weakness in the largest-weighted financials sector including Westpac which was forced to scrap the sale of its Pacific businesses after failing to secure regulatory approval. Nikkei 225 (-0.7%) was subdued amid the lack of fireworks from the BoJ announcement to keep policy settings unchanged and ahead of the upcoming holiday closure with the index only briefly supported by favourable currency outflows. Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) was initially pressured on return from the long-weekend and with Hong Kong markets closed, but pared losses with risk appetite supported by news that Evergrande’s main unit Hengda Real Estate will make coupon payments due tomorrow, although other sources noted this is referring to the onshore bond payments valued around USD 36mln and that there was no mention of the offshore bond payments valued at USD 83.5mln which are also due tomorrow. Meanwhile, the PBoC facilitated liquidity through a CNY 120bln injection and provided no surprises in keeping its 1-year and 5-year Loan Prime Rates unchanged for the 17th consecutive month at 3.85% and 4.65%, respectively. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat amid the absence of any major surprises from the BoJ policy announcement and following the choppy trade in T-notes which were briefly pressured in a knee-jerk reaction to the news that Evergrande’s unit will satisfy its coupon obligations tomorrow, but then faded most of the losses as cautiousness prevailed. Top Asian News Gold Steady as Traders Await Outcome of Fed Policy Meeting Evergrande Filing on Yuan Bond Interest Leaves Analysts Guessing Singapore Category E COE Price Rises to Highest Since April 2014 Asian Stocks Fall for Third Day as Focus Turns to Central Banks European equities (Stoxx 600 +0.5%) trade on a firmer footing in the wake of an encouraging APAC handover. Focus overnight was on the return of Chinese participants from the Mid-Autumn Festival and news that Evergrande’s main unit, Hengda Real Estate will make coupon payments due tomorrow; however, we await indication as to whether they will meet Thursday’s offshore payment deadline as well. Furthermore, the PBoC facilitated liquidity through a CNY 120bln injection whilst keeping its 1-year and 5-year Loan Prime Rates unchanged (as expected). Note, despite gaining yesterday and today, thus far, the Stoxx 600 is still lower to the tune of 0.7% on the week. Stateside, futures are also trading on a firmer footing ahead of today’s FOMC policy announcement, at which, market participants will be eyeing any clues for when the taper will begin and digesting the latest dot plot forecasts. Furthermore, the US House voted to pass the bill to fund the government through to December 3rd and suspend the debt limit to end-2022, although this will likely be blocked by Senate Republicans. Back to Europe, sectors are mostly firmer with outperformance in Basic Resources and Oil & Gas amid upside in the metals and energy complex. Elsewhere, Travel & Leisure is faring well amid further upside in Entain (+6.1%) with the Co. noting it rejected an earlier approach from DraftKings at GBP 25/shr with the new offer standing at GBP 28/shr. Additionally for the sector, Flutter Entertainment (+4.1%) are trading higher after settling the legal dispute between the Co. and Commonwealth of Kentucky. Elsewhere, in terms of deal flow, Iliad announced that it is to acquire UPC Poland for around USD 1.8bln. Top European News Energy Cost Spike Gets on EU Ministers’ Green Deal Agenda Travel Startup HomeToGo Gains in Frankfurt Debut After SPAC Deal London Stock Exchange to Shut Down CurveGlobal Exchange EU Banks Expected to Add Capital for Climate Risk, EBA Says In FX, trade remains volatile as this week’s deluge of global Central Bank policy meetings continues to unfold amidst fluctuations in broad risk sentiment from relatively pronounced aversion at various stages to a measured and cautious pick-up in appetite more recently. Hence, the tide is currently turning in favour of activity, cyclical and commodity currencies, albeit tentatively in the run up to the Fed, with the Kiwi and Aussie trying to regroup on the 0.7000 handle and 0.7350 axis against their US counterpart, and the latter also striving to shrug off negative domestic impulses like a further decline below zero in Westpac’s leading index and an earthquake near Melbourne. Next up for Nzd/Usd and Aud/Usd, beyond the FOMC, trade data and preliminary PMIs respectively. DXY/CHF/EUR/CAD - Notwithstanding the overall improvement in market tone noted above, or another major change in mood and direction, the Dollar index appears to have found a base just ahead of 93.000 and ceiling a similar distance away from 93.500, as it meanders inside those extremes awaiting US existing home sales that are scheduled for release before the main Fed events (policy statement, SEP and post-meeting press conference from chair Powell). Indeed, the Franc, Euro and Loonie have all recoiled into tighter bands vs the Greenback, between 0.9250-26, 1.1739-17 and 1.2831-1.2770, but with the former still retaining an underlying bid more evident in the Eur/Chf cross that is consolidating under 1.0850 and will undoubtedly be acknowledged by the SNB tomorrow. Meanwhile, Eur/Usd has hardly reacted to latest ECB commentary from Muller underpinning that the APP is likely to be boosted once the PEPP envelope is closed, though Usd/Cad is eyeing a firm rebound in oil prices in conjunction with hefty option expiry interest at the 1.2750 strike (1.8 bn) that may prevent the headline pair from revisiting w-t-d lows not far beneath the half round number. GBP/JPY - The major laggards, as Sterling slips slightly further beneath 1.3650 against the Buck to a fresh weekly low and Eur/Gbp rebounds from circa 0.8574 to top 0.8600 on FOMC day and T-1 to super BoE Thursday. Elsewhere, the Yen has lost momentum after peaking around 109.12 and still not garnering sufficient impetus to test 109.00 via an unchanged BoJ in terms of all policy settings and guidance, as Governor Kuroda trotted out the no hesitation to loosen the reins if required line for the umpteenth time. However, Usd/Jpy is holding around 109.61 and some distance from 1.1 bn option expiries rolling off between 109.85-110.00 at the NY cut. SCANDI/EM - Brent’s revival to Usd 75.50+/brl from sub-Usd 73.50 only yesterday has given the Nok another fillip pending confirmation of a Norges Bank hike tomorrow, while the Zar has regained some poise with the aid of firmer than forecast SA headline and core CPI alongside a degree of retracement following Wednesday’s breakdown of talks on a pay deal for engineering workers that prompted the union to call a strike from early October. Similarly, the Cnh and Cny by default have regrouped amidst reports that the CCP is finalising details to restructure Evergrande into 3 separate entities under a plan that will see the Chinese Government take control. In commodities, WTI and Brent are firmer this morning though once again fresh newsflow for the complex has been relatively slim and largely consisting of gas-related commentary; as such, the benchmarks are taking their cue from the broader risk tone (see equity section). The improvement in sentiment today has brought WTI and Brent back in proximity to being unchanged on the week so far as a whole; however, the complex will be dictated directly by the EIA weekly inventory first and then indirectly, but perhaps more pertinently, by today’s FOMC. On the weekly inventories, last nights private release was a larger than expected draw for the headline and distillate components, though the Cushing draw was beneath expectations; for today, consensus is a headline draw pf 2.44mln. Moving to metals where the return of China has seen a resurgence for base metals with LME copper posting upside of nearly 3.0%, for instance. Albeit there is no fresh newsflow for the complex as such, so it remains to be seen how lasting this resurgence will be. Finally, spot gold and silver are firmer but with the magnitude once again favouring silver over the yellow metal. US Event Calendar 10am: Aug. Existing Home Sales MoM, est. -1.7%, prior 2.0% 2pm: Sept. FOMC Rate Decision (Lower Boun, est. 0%, prior 0% DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap All eyes firmly on China this morning as it reopens following a 2-day holiday. As expected the indices there have opened lower but the scale of the declines are being softened by the PBoC increasing its short term cash injections into the economy. They’ve added a net CNY 90bn into the system. On Evergrande, we’ve also seen some positive headlines as the property developers’ main unit Hengda Real Estate Group has said that it will make coupon payment for an onshore bond tomorrow. However, the exchange filing said that the interest payment “has been resolved via negotiations with bondholders off the clearing house”. This is all a bit vague and doesn’t mention the dollar bond at this stage. Meanwhile, Bloomberg has reported that Chinese authorities have begun to lay the groundwork for a potential restructuring that could be one of the country’s biggest, assembling accounting and legal experts to examine the finances of the group. All this follows news from Bloomberg yesterday that Evergrande missed interest payments that had been due on Monday to at least two banks. In terms of markets the CSI (-1.11%), Shanghai Comp (-0.29%) and Shenzhen Comp (-0.53%) are all lower but have pared back deeper losses from the open. We did a flash poll in the CoTD yesterday (link here) and after over 700 responses in a couple of hours we found only 8% who we thought Evergrande would still be impacting financial markets significantly in a month’s time. 24% thought it would be slightly impacting. The other 68% thought limited or no impact. So the world is relatively relaxed about contagion risk for now. The bigger risk might be the knock on impact of weaker Chinese growth. So that’s one to watch even if you’re sanguine on the systemic threat. Craig Nicol in my credit team did a good note yesterday (link here) looking at the contagion risk to the broader HY market. I thought he summed it up nicely as to why we all need to care one way or another in saying that “Evergrande is the largest corporate, in the largest sector, of the second largest economy in the world”. For context AT&T is the largest corporate borrower in the US market and VW the largest in Europe. Turning back to other Asian markets now and the Nikkei (-0.65%) is down but the Hang Seng (+0.51%) and Asx (+0.58%) are up. South Korean markets continue to remain closed for a holiday. Elsewhere, yields on 10y USTs are trading flattish while futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.10% and those on the Stoxx 50 are up +0.21%. Crude oil prices are also up c.+1% this morning. In other news, the Bank of Japan policy announcement overnight was a non-event as the central bank maintained its yield curve target while keeping the policy rate and asset purchases plan unchanged. The central bank also unveiled more details of its green lending program and said that it would immediately start accepting applications and would begin making the loans in December. The relatively calm Asian session follows a stabilisation in markets yesterday following their rout on Monday as investors looked forward to the outcome of the Fed’s meeting later today. That said, it was hardly a resounding performance, with the S&P 500 unable to hold on to its intraday gains and ending just worse than unchanged after the -1.70% decline the previous day as investors remained vigilant as to the array of risks that continue to pile up on the horizon. One of these is in US politics and legislators seem no closer to resolving the various issues surrounding a potential government shutdown at the end of the month, along with a potential debt ceiling crisis in October, which is another flashing alert on the dashboard for investors that’s further contributing to weaker sentiment right now. Looking ahead now, today’s main highlight will be the latest Federal Reserve decision along with Chair Powell’s subsequent press conference, with the policy decision out at 19:00 London time. Markets have been on edge for any clues about when the Fed might begin to taper asset purchases, but concern about tapering actually being announced at this meeting has dissipated over recent weeks, particularly after the most recent nonfarm payrolls in August came in at just +235k, and the monthly CPI print also came in beneath consensus expectations for the first time since November. In terms of what to expect, our US economists write in their preview (link here) that they see the statement adopting Chair Powell’s language that a reduction in the pace of asset purchases is appropriate “this year”, so long as the economy remains on track. They see Powell maintaining optionality about the exact timing of that announcement, but they think that the message will effectively be that the bar to pushing the announcement beyond November is relatively high in the absence of any material downside surprises. This meeting also sees the release of the FOMC’s latest economic projections and the dot plot, where they expect there’ll be an upward drift in the dots that raises the number of rate hikes in 2023 to 3, followed by another 3 increases in 2024. Back to yesterday, and as mentioned US equity markets fell for a second straight day after being unable to hold on to earlier gains, with the S&P 500 slightly lower (-0.08%). High-growth industries outperformed with biotech (+0.38%) and semiconductors (+0.18%) leading the NASDAQ (+0.22%) slightly higher, however the Dow Jones (-0.15%) also struggled. Europe saw a much stronger performance though as much of the US decline came after Europe had closed. The STOXX 600 gained +1.00% to erase most of Monday’s losses, with almost every sector in the index ending the day in positive territory. With risk sentiment improving for much of the day yesterday, US Treasuries sold off slightly and by the close of trade yields on 10yr Treasuries were up +1.2bps to 1.3226%, thanks to a +1.8bps increase in real yields. However, sovereign bonds in Europe told a different story as yields on 10yr bunds (-0.3bps), OATs (-0.3bps) and BTPs (-1.9bps) moved lower. Other safe havens including gold (+0.59%) and silver (+1.02%) also benefited, but this wasn’t reflected across commodities more broadly, with Bloomberg’s Commodity Spot Index (-0.30%) losing ground for a 4th consecutive session. Democratic Party leaders plan to vote on the Senate-approved $500bn bipartisan infrastructure bill next Monday, even with no resolution to the $3.5tr budget reconciliation measure that encompasses the remainder of the Biden Administration’s economic agenda. Democrats continue to work on the reconciliation measure but have turned their attention to the debt ceiling and government funding bills.Congress has fewer than two weeks before the current budget expires – on Oct 1 – to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. Republicans yesterday noted that the Democrats could raise the ceiling on their own through the reconciliation process, with many saying that they would not be offering their support to any funding bill. Democrats continue to push for a bipartisan bill to raise the debt ceiling, pointing to their votes during the Trump administration. If Democrats are forced to tie the debt ceiling and funding bills to budget reconciliation, it could limit how much of the $3.5 trillion bill survives the last minute negotiations between progressives and moderates. More to come over the next 10 days. Staying on the US, there was an important announcement in President Biden’s speech at the UN General Assembly, as he said that he would work with Congress to double US funding to poorer nations to deal with climate change. That comes as UK Prime Minister Johnson (with the UK hosting the COP26 summit in less than 6 weeks’ time) has been lobbying other world leaders to find the $100bn per year that developed economies pledged by 2020 to support developing countries as they reduce their emissions and deal with climate change. In Germany, there are just 4 days to go now until the federal election, and a Forsa poll out yesterday showed a slight narrowing in the race, with the centre-left SPD remaining on 25%, but the CDU/CSU gained a point on last week to 22%, which puts them within the +/- 2.5 point margin of error. That narrowing has been seen in Politico’s Poll of Polls as well, with the race having tightened from a 5-point SPD lead over the CDU/CSU last week to a 3-point one now. Turning to the pandemic, Johnson & Johnson reported that their booster shot given 8 weeks after the first offered 100% protection against severe disease, 94% protection against symptomatic Covid in the US, and 75% against symptomatic Covid globally. Speaking of boosters, Bloomberg reported that the FDA was expected to decide as soon as today on a recommendation for Pfizer’s booster vaccine. That follows an FDA advisory panel rejecting a booster for all adults last Friday, restricting the recommendation to those over-65 and other high-risk categories. Staying with the US and vaccines, President Biden announced that the US was ordering 500mn doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be exported to the rest of the world. On the data front, there were some strong US housing releases for August, with housing starts up by an annualised 1.615m (vs. 1.55m expected), and building permits up by 1.728m (vs. 1.6m expected). Separately, the OECD released their Interim Economic Outlook, which saw them upgrade their inflation expectations for the G20 this year to +3.7% (up +0.2ppts from May) and for 2022 to +3.9% (up +0.5ppts from May). Their global growth forecast saw little change at +5.7% in 2021 (down a tenth) and +4.5% for 2022 (up a tenth). To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the aforementioned Federal Reserve decision and Chair Powell’s subsequent press conference. Otherwise on the data side, we’ll get US existing home sales for August, and the European Commission’s advance consumer confidence reading for the Euro Area in September. Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 08:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 22nd, 2021

Houston-area bank buys more branches in Texas

Conroe-based Spirit of Texas Bancshares Inc. (Nasdaq: STXB), the holding company for Spirit of Texas Bank, is making another acquisition. The bank agreed to acquire four branch offices from Simmons Bank, a subsidiary of Arkansas-based Simmons Fir.....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsDec 23rd, 2019

Bar Harbor Bankshares to acquire 8 Maine bank branches

See the rest of the story here. Theflyonthewall.com provides the latest financial news as it breaks. Known as a leader in market intelligence, The Fl.....»»

Category: blogSource: theflyonthewallJul 8th, 2019

$66B banking merger would create new national financial powerhouse

BB&T Corp. — which has more than a dozen branches and millions of dollars of deposits in Austin — plans to merge with SunTrust in to create the nation's sixth-largest bank......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsFeb 7th, 2019

Central Bank Digital Currencies: A Future of Surveillance And Control

Central Bank Digital Currencies: A Future of Surveillance And Control Submitted by Ronan Manly, BullionStar.com One of the most potentially far-reaching trends in the financial landscape right now is the imminent roll-out of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and the parallel attacks which central bankers are waging on private digital currencies and tokens as they tee up the launch of their CBDCs. First some clarifications. While the majority of central bank issued currencies (fiat currencies) in existence around the world are already in digital form, a fiat currency held in digital form is not the same as a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). What is a CBDC? A CBDC generally refers to electronic or virtual central bank (fiat) money that is created in the form of digital tokens or account balances which are digital claims on the central bank. CBDCs will be issued by central banks and will be legal tender. Many CBDCs that are being researched and developed employ Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), with the recording of transactions on a blockchain.  However unlike private cryptocurrencies which use a permissionless and open design, CBDCs that use DLT will use permissioned variants (deciding who has access to the network and who can view and update records in the ledger). See here for a discussion of permissionless vs permissioned blockchains. CBDCs - The antithesis to decentralized private cryptocurrencies and tokens Critically, as the name suggests, CBDCs will be centralized and governed by the issuing authority (i.e. a central bank). So, in their design and structure, CBDCs can be viewed as the very antithesis to decentralized private cryptocurrencies and tokens. Central banks have already working on two types of CBDCs, ‘wholesale’ digital tokens that would have access restricted to banks and financial entities to be used for activities like interbank payments and wholesale market transactions, and ‘general purpose’ (retail) CBDC for the general public to be used in retail transactions. It is this ‘general purpose’ CBDC which most people are referring to when they discuss central bank digital currencies, and it is these ‘general purpose’ CBDCs that will be most important to watch when  central banks and governments begin to attempt their roll-outs to distribute CBDCs to billions of people across the world either through account-based CBDCs or ‘digital cash’ tokens. As you can guess, account-based CBDCs will be tied to user identities and Digital IDs, and straight off the bat they allow for total surveillance by the State and torpedo any chance of anonymity. For this reason, they are already a favourite among central banks. Given that CBDCs will be centralized ledgers and can be programmable, the ‘digital cash’ token option is not much better in terms of privacy and freedom. The Bank for International Settlements - The Dark Tower of Basel Many central banks will probably opt for a hybrid model of both account-based and token based digital cash. As an example, Canada, the one time liberal democracy, perhaps illustrates the account-based vs token based choices best, where Canada’s central bank, the Bank of Canada, in it’s design documentation for CBDCs shows that at the end of the day, it's about surveillance and control, saying that: “anonymous token-based options would be allowable for smaller payments, while account-based access would be required for larger purchases.” Central banks are also experimenting with various models for distribution of CBDCs to the masses, including using private commercial banks and payment providers who will intermediate on the central banks’ behalf, and also direct distribution of payments by a central bank to a population. Either way, you can see that CBDCs greatly facilitate the statists to advance their Orwellian plans for Universal Basic Income (UBI) and dependency on the state.    Accelerating rollout CBDCs are not just a buzzword or a hazy innovation that may appear sometime in the distant future. They are actively being developed now, and in widespread fashion. In January 2020, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) issued the results of a survey on CBDCs that it had conducted in the second half of 2019, and to which 66 central banks had responded. Strikingly, 10% of central bank respondents (which represented a fifth of the world’s population) said that they were likely to issue a ‘general purpose’ CBDC (for the general public) in the near future (within the next 3 years). Another 20% of central bank respondents said they would likely issue a ‘general purpose’ CBDC in the medium term (within 6 years). In August 2020, the BIS published a comprehensive working paper on CBDCs titled “Rise of the central bank digital currencies: drivers, approaches and technologies” one part of which analysed the BIS database of central banker speeches and found that between December 2013 and May 2020, there had been 138 central banker speeches mentioning CBDCs, with a dramatic increase in CBDC related speeches since 2016, a timeframe which coincided with central banks launching research projects on CBDCs. The same BIS report also highlighted that, (totally coincidentally) the Covid-19 'pandemic'  "accelerated work on CBDCs in some jurisdictions."  BIS slide on CBDC global project status - August 2021. Source. Fast forward to right now, and on the website of the globalist Atlantic Council (headquartered in Washington D.C.), there is an interesting Central Bank Digital Currency Tracker which lists all the countries that have either launched or piloted a CBDC or are developing or researching a CBDC. Here we find that 5 central banks have already launched a CBDC, 14 have a CBDC in pilot, 16 have a CBDC in development, and another 32 central banks are at the research stage with their CBDC. That makes 67 central banks (countries in total). While the 5 currency areas that have already launched a CBDC are all islands in the Caribbean, the central banks at the pilot stage include heavy weights such as China, South Korea, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Sweden.   Those at the development stage include the central banks of Canada, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, France and Nigeria. Those at the research stage include the central banks of the US, UK, Australia, Norway, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. So as you can see, this is not some theoretical issue. Centrally controlled digital currencies are coming down the pipe in a big way, and some will be appearing, if not imminently, then very soon. And given the ease with which governments have imposed lockdowns and restrictions on their compliant populations during 2020 and 2021, it is not hard to envisage that these same pliable masses will be easily influenced to embrace CBDCs as being in their 'best interests'. BIS Switzerland - The Usual Suspect    In fact, one third of the entire BIS annual report 2021 is focused on CBDCs in a section titled “CBDCs: an opportunity for the monetary system”. Here, the BIS predictably trumpets the benefits of introducing central bank issued centralized digital currencies while at the same time attempting to undermine private cryptocurrencies. The BIS wording reveals the fact that central banks are in panic over the competitive threat of private cryptos and have accelerated the development of CBDCs partially due to this fear, with the BIS stating that: “Central bank interest in CBDCs comes at a critical time. Several recent developments have placed a number of potential innovations involving digital currencies high on the agenda. The first of these is the growing attention received by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies; the second is the debate on stablecoins; and the third is the entry of large technology firms (big techs) into payment services and financial services more generally.” The BIS then attempts to dismiss each of these 3 threats: Cryptocurrencies, claims the BIS “are speculative assets rather than money, and in many cases are used to facilitate money laundering, ransomware attacks and other financial crimes”. Bitcoin comes in for some special mention with the BIS saying that “Bitcoin in particular has few redeeming public interest attributes when also considering its wasteful energy footprint’. Stablecoins, says the BIS “attempt to import credibility by being backed by real currencies” that are “ultimately only an appendage to the conventional monetary system and not a game changer.” The entry of large tech firms that dominate social networks, search, messaging, and e-commerce into the realm of financial services and payments provision infrastructure seems to especially bother the BIS, and it spins it’s criticism into the argument that although these platforms have large network affects, this creates “further concentration” in the market for payments. The irony is not lost on the fact that it’s the BIS, as the central bank of central banks and one of the most concentrated power centres in the world, that is criticizing others’ “concentration” of power.   Throughout this CBDC pitch, the BIS report refers at numerous points that digital currencies should be “in the public interest”, which really means that digital currencies should be controlled by the BIS and its central bank members, as well as perpetuate their centralized monetary power structure. The BIS even has the gall to claim that CBDCs should respect privacy rights, when in fact the whole architecture, rationale and design of central bank digital currencies will allow central banks and national authorities to invade totally on privacy rights.  But sometimes the BIS let's it's guard down, and reveals it's authoritarian plans for CBDCs. A case in point is a recent interview with Agustín Carstens general manager of the BIS, where he chillingly said:  "We don’t know who’s using a $100 bill today and we don’t know who’s using a 1,000 peso bill today. The key difference with the CBDC is the central bank will have absolute control on the rules and regulations that will determine the use of that expression of central bank liability, and also we will have the technology to enforce that.” See video segment below for Carstens' remarks: Singing from the Same Song Sheet With the BIS is Basel Switzerland as the conductor and orchestrator, it's not surprising that central bank governors and country heads are now singing from the same song sheet, the song being ‘private digital currencies bad, central bank digital currencies good’. Earlier this month (September 2021) at a banking conference in Stockholm, the governor of Sweden’s central bank (Riksbank), Stefan Ingves, commented that ‘private money usually collapses sooner or later’, while conveniently failing to mention the hundreds of government and central bank issued paper currencies that have collapsed throughout history due to overprinting, depreciation and hyperinflation. Nor did Ingves mention Voltaire’s famous quote that “Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value - zero”. Ingves, whose country is one of the leaders in promoting a cashless society, also took a derogatory swipe at Bitcoin saying “sure, you can get rich by trading in bitcoin, but it’s comparable to trading in stamps.” All the while the Riksbank is pushing ahead with it’s central bank digital currency, called the e-krona, a CBDC which uses distributed ledger technology, and which the Swedish central bank is currently testing in conjunction with Handelsbanken, one of Sweden’s largest retail banks. In the same week as Ingves’s comments in Sweden, the governor of Mexico’s central bank, Alejandro Diaz de Leon, was also taking a shot at private cryptocurrencies and for good measure he also put the boot into precious metals. Diaz de Leon said that Bitcoin is more like a method of barter than ‘evolved’ fiat money, and continued “in our times, money has evolved to be fiat money issued by central banks. Bitcoin is more like a dimension of precious metals than daily legal tender.” That comment, which attacks two birds with one stone (crypto and precious metals), will definitely please his central bank governor colleagues at thee BIS, and may even earn Diaz de Leon a nomination as the next BIS general manager, to succeed his fellow countryman Agustín Carstens.    Speaking of the BIS, Benoit Coeure, head of the BIS Innovation Hub, also gave a WEF style speech about CBDCs in early September, acknowledging the convenient catalyst of the covid 'pandemic', and the accelerated development of CBDCs by central banks:  "the world is not returning to the old normal. Payments are a case in point. The pandemic has accelerated a longer-running move to digital .... the world's central banks are stepping up efforts to prepare the ground for digital cash – central bank digital currency (CBDC): "A CBDC's goal is ultimately to preserve the best elements of our current systems while still allowing a safe space for tomorrow's innovation. To do so, central banks have to act while the current system is still in place – and to act now." Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also recently joined in the attack on private digital currencies, while simultaneously promoting Turkey’s CBDC. At an event on 18 September, the Turkish president stated that:  “we have absolutely no intention of embracing cryptocurrencies” “on the contrary, we have a separate war, a separate fight against them. We would never lend support to [cryptocurrencies]. Because we will move forward with our own currency that has its own identity.” PBOC SAYS ALL CRYPTO-RELATED TRANSACTIONS ARE ILLEGAL So the digital yuan is a complete disaster eh? — zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 24, 2021 China: Digital Yuan - An Ominous Blueprint  A huge red flag over CBDCs and user privacy is that these central bank digital currencies are programmable, as details on China’s ‘Digital Yuan’ already show. For example, the Digital Yuan can be programmed to be activated on a certain date, programmed to expire on a certain date, programmed to be only valid for certain purchases, and ominously, programmed to be only available to citizens who meet certain pre-conditions. As a potential blueprint for other CBDCs, people across the world need to sit up and take notice, because the issuing authorities of these CBDCs coming down the pipe can therefore decide who gets access to CBDCs, what they can transact using those currencies, and how long the purchasing power remains valid. Central Banks can thus influence and control the behaviour of the recipients of this centralised digital cash,  as well as exclude those who they want to penalize or who don’t comply with the State's rules or parameters. And right on cue as this article was just published, Chinese authorities have now announced (on 24 September)  a total ban on all cryptocurrency transactions. Except of course, it's upcoming authoritarian Digital Yuan.    The future according to WEF's Klaus Schwab and his Elite private banker handlers Conclusion - Slavery or Monetary Freedom Although central banks will claim that they are introducing CBDCs for reasons such as improving payments efficiency, boosting financial inclusion for the unbanked and tackling illicit transactions, their real motivations, as always, are for surveillance and control. Surveillance of a population via complete visibility into financial transaction flow and user identities, and centralized control of the money supply within a cashless financial system. Think China’s social credit system on a global dystopian scale, where vax passes evolve into digital IDs and digital IDs link to CBDC issuance and use. In fact, the entire coercion around implementing vaccine passports and digital IDs looks to be a pre-planned stepping stone for the roll-out of central bank digital currencies and global social credit systems. The timing of the accelerated emergence of CBDCs may partially be an attempt by central banks to outflank the numerous private cryptocurrencies, tokens and decentralized finance ecosystems that have emerged and that are a threat to the power of the centralized banking system at whose apex sits the BIS. But it would be naïve to think that central banks that knew in advance about the initiation of a‘WEF’ global technocratic and corpocratic takeover that would begin in 2020, are not now orchestrating the rollout of CBDCs as part of a long-term global agenda, that agenda being the global socialist Agenda 2030, and a future in which, according to the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) “You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy”. BIS and central bank attacks against private cryptocurrencies are to be expected. After all, the same central banks and the BIS have waged a very long war against physical gold and silver. And precious metals have been money since 4000 B.C.. With the launch of CBDCs by central banks and their elitist private banking controllers, that war looks set to intensify. So, do you want a future of monetary freedom, or a future of perpetual slavery to central banker CBDCs?  If you want monetary freedom, then ownership of physical precious metals and private and anonymous digital currencies are now some of the only ways to counter and protect against the ominous CBDC plans which the BIS and its central bank members are intent with imminently rolling out. *  *  * This article originally appeared on the BullionStar.com website under the same title "Central Bank Digital Currencies – A Future of Surveillance and Control" Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 15:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt11 hr. 0 min. ago

The "Great Game" Moves On

The 'Great Game' Moves On Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Following America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, her focus has switched to the Pacific with the establishment of a joint Australian and UK naval partnership. The founder of modern geopolitical theory, Halford Mackinder, had something to say about this in his last paper, written for the Council on Foreign Relations in 1943. Mackinder anticipated this development, though the actors and their roles at that time were different. In particular, he foresaw the economic emergence of China and India and the importance of the Pacific region. This article discusses the current situation in Mackinder’s context, taking in the consequences of green energy, the importance of trade in the Pacific region, and China’s current deflationary strategy relative to that of declining western powers aggressively pursuing asset inflation. There is little doubt that the world is rebalancing as Mackinder described nearly eighty years ago. To appreciate it we must look beyond the West’s current economic and monetary difficulties and the loss of its hegemony over Asia, and particularly note the improving conditions of the Asia’s most populous nations. Introduction Following NATO’s defeat in the heart of Asia, and with Afghanistan now under the Taliban’s rule, the Chinese/Russian axis now controls the Asian continental mass. Asian nations not directly related to its joint hegemony (not being members, associates, or dialog partners of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) are increasingly dependent upon it for trade and technology. Sub-Saharan Africa is in its sphere of influence. The reality for America is that the total population in or associated with the SCO is 57% of the world population. And America’s grip on its European allies is slipping. NATO itself has become less relevant, with Turkey drawn towards the rival Asian axis, and its EU members are compromised through trading and energy links with Russia and China. Furthermore, France is pushing the EU towards establishing its own army independent of US-led NATO — quite what its role will be, other than political puffery for France is a mystery. It is against this background that three of the Five Eyes intelligence partnership have formed AUKUS – standing for Australia, UK, and US — and its first agreement is to give Australia a nuclear submarine capability to strengthen the partnership’s naval power in the Pacific. Other capabilities, chiefly aimed at containing the Chinese threat to Taiwan and other allies in the Pacific Ocean, will surely emerge in due course. The other two Five Eyes, Canada and New Zealand, appear to be less keen to confront China. But perhaps they will also have less obvious roles in due course beyond pure intelligence gathering. The US, under President Trump, had failed to contain China’s increasing economic dominance and its rapidly developing technological challenge to American supremacy. Trump’s one success was to peel off the UK from its Cameron/Osbourne policy of strengthening trade and financial ties with China by threatening the UK’s important role in its intelligence partnership with the US. For the UK, the challenge came at a critical time. Brexit had happened, and the UK needed global partners for its future trade and geopolitical strategies, the latter needed to cement its re-emergence onto the world stage following Brexit. Trump held out the carrot of a fast-tracked US/UK trade deal. The Swiss alternative of neutrality in international affairs is not in the UK’s DNA, so realistically the decision was a no-brainer: the UK had to recommit itself entirely to the Anglo-Saxon Five-Eyes partnership with the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and turn its back on China. But gathering intelligence and building naval power in the Pacific won’t defeat the Chinese. All simulations show that the US, with or without AUKUS, cannot win a military conflict against China. But AUKUS is not a formal model on NATO lines which commits its members by treaty to aggression against a common enemy. While Taiwan remains a specific problem, the objective is almost certainly to discourage China from territorial expansion and protect and give other Pacific nations on the Asian periphery the security to be independent from the SCO behemoth. The trade benefits of closer relationships with these independent nations are also an additional reason for the UK to join the CPTPP — the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It qualifies for membership through its sovereignty over the Pitcairn Islands. And that is why China has also applied to join. Therefore, AUKUS’s importance is in the signal sent to China and the whole Pacific region, following the abandonment of land-based operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The maritime threat to China is a line which must not be crossed. We are entering a new era in the Great Game, where the objective has changed from dominance to containment. Having lost its position of ultimate control in the Eurasian land mass America has selected its partners to retain control over the high seas. And the UK has found a new geopolitical purpose, re-establishing a global role now that it is independent from the EU. The French cannot join the CPTPP being bound into the common trade policies of the EU. Seeing the British escape the strictures of the EU and rapidly obtain more global influence than France could dream of has touched a raw nerve. Mackinder vindicated The father of geopolitics, Halford Mackinder, is frequently quoted and his theories are still relevant to the current situation. Much has been written about Mackinder’s prophecies. His concept of the World Island was first mentioned in his 1904 presentation to the Royal Geographic Society in London: “a pivot state, resulting in its expansion over the marginal lands of Euro-Asia”. In 1943 he updated his views in an article for the Council on Foreign Relations, adding to his heartland theory. Written during the Second World War, his commentary reflected the combatants and their positions at that time. But despite this, he made a perceptive comment relative to the situation today and AUKUS: “Were the Chinese for instance organised by the Japanese to overthrow the Russian Empire and conquer its territory they might constitute the yellow peril to the world’s freedom just because they would add an oceanic frontage to the resources of the great continent.” When Mackinder wrote his article the Japanese had already invaded Manchuria, but their subsequent defeat removed them from an active geopolitical role, and in place of a Soviet defeat China has entered a peaceful partnership with Russia that extends to all its old Central Asian soviet satellites. It is the focus on the ocean frontage that matters, upon which the maritime silk road depends. The article brings into play another aspect mentioned by Mackinder, and that is the Heartland’s tremendous natural resources, “…including enough coal in the Kuznetsk and Krasnoyarsk basins capable of supplying the requirements of the whole world for 300 years”. And: “In 1938 Russia produced more of the following food stuffs than any other country in the world: wheat, barley, oats, rye, and sugar beets. More manganese was produced in Russia than in any other country. It was bracketed with United States in the first place as regards iron and it stood second place in production of petroleum”. Through its partnership with Russia all these latent resources are available to the Chinese and Russian partnership. And the real potential for industrialisation, held back by communism and now by Russian corruption, has barely commenced. After presciently noting that one day the Sahara may become the trap for capturing direct power from the sun (foreseeing solar panels), Mackinder’s article ended on an optimistic note: “A thousand million people of ancient oriental civilisation inhabit the monsoon lands of India and China [today 3 billion, including Pakistan]. They must grow to prosperity in the same years in which Germany and Japan are being tamed to civilisation. They will then balance that other thousand million who live between the Missouri and the Yenisei [i.e., Central and Eastern America, Britain, Europe and Russia beyond the Urals]. A balanced globe of human beings and happy because balanced and thus free.” Both China and now India are rapidly industrialising, becoming part of a balanced globe of humanity. While the West tries to hang on to what it has got rather than progressing, China and India along with all of under-developed Asia are moving rapidly in the direction of individual freedom of economic choice and improvements in living conditions, to which Mackinder was referring. Obviously, there is some way for this process yet to go, displacing western hegemony in the process. America particularly has found the political challenges of change difficult, with its deep state unable to come to terms easily with the implications for its military and economic power. We must hope that Mackinder was right, and the shift of economic power is best to be regarded as the pains of geopolitical evolution rather than conditions for escalating conflict. But in pursuing its green agenda and eschewing carbon fuels, the West is unwittingly handing a gift to Mackinder’s Heartland, because despite diplomatic noises to the contrary China, India and all the SCO membership will continue to use cheap coal, gas, and oil which Asia has in abundance while Western manufacturers are forced by their governments to use expensive and less reliable green energy. Green obsessions and global trade Meanwhile, the West has gone green-crazy. Banning fossil fuels without there being adequate replacements must be a new definition of insanity, for which the current fuel crises in Europe attest. With over 95% of European logistics currently being shifted by diesel power, switching to battery power or hydrogen by 2030 by banning sales of new internal combustion engine vehicles is a hostage to fortune. While it is hardly mentioned, presumably the Western powers think that by banning carbon fuels they will take the wind out of Russia’s energy quasi-monopoly, because including gas Russia is the largest exporter of fossil fuels in the world. Instead, the West is creating an energy shortage for itself, a point driven home by Gazprom withholding gas flows through its pipelines to Europe, thereby driving up Europe’s energy costs sharply and ensuring a far more severe energy crisis this winter. Even if Russia turns on the taps tomorrow, there is insufficient gas storage in reserve for the winter months. And Europe and the UK have got ahead of themselves by decommissioning coal and gas-fired electricity. In the UK, a massive undersea gas storage facility off the Yorkshire coast has been closed, leaving precious little national storage capacity. As we have seen with the post-covid supply chain chaos, energy problems will not only become acute this winter, but are likely to persist through much of next year. And even that assumes Russia relents and moderates its energy stance to European customers. By way of contrast, though its partnership with Russia China is gifted unlimited access to all carbon fuels. She is still building coal-fired electricity power stations at an extraordinary rate — according to a BBC report there are 61 new ones being commissioned. A further 51 outside China are planned. As a sop to the West China has only said she won’t finance any more outside her territory. And India relies on coal for over two-thirds of its electrical energy. While Europe and America through their green obsessions are denying themselves the availability and technologies that go with carbon fuels, the Russian/Chinese axis will continue to reap the full benefits. The West’s response is likely to be to decry Chinese pollution and its contribution to global warming, but realistically there is little it can do. Demand for Chinese-manufactured goods will continue because China now has a quasi-monopoly on global manufacturing for export. In the unlikely event western consumers become avid savers while their governments continue to run massive budget deficits, their trade deficits will rise even more, allowing Chinese exporters to increase prices for consumers and intermediate goods without losing export sales. While there is nothing it can do about China’s production methods, AUKUS members will undoubtedly lean on other exporting CPTPP members to comply with global green policies. But they will be competing with China, and while they may pay lip service to the climate change agenda, in practice they are unlikely to implement it without holding out for unrealistic subsidies from the western nations driving the climate change agenda. Under current circumstances, it seems unlikely that China’s CPTPP application will lead to membership, given the CPTPP requirement for China’s central government to relinquish ownership of its SOEs and to permit the free flow of data across its borders. In any event, China is focused on developing its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement with ratification signed so far by China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. It will come into effect when ratified by ten out of the fifteen signatories, likely to be in the first half of 2022, and in terms of population will be two and a half times the size of the EU and the US/Mexico/Canada (USMCA) trade agreements combined. With four out of five of the signatories being American allies, RCEP demonstrates that the AUKUS defence partnership is an entirely separate issue from trade. While the US may not like it, if RCEP goes ahead freer trade will almost certainly undermine a belligerent stance in due course. Despite hiccups, the progression of trade dealing in the Pacific region promises to prove Mackinder right about the prospect of a more balanced world. All being well and guaranteed by a balance of naval capabilities between AUKUS and China, a free-trading Pacific region will render the European and American trade protectionist policies an anachronism. But the threat is now from another direction: financial instability, with western nations pulling in one direction and China in another. Since the Lehman collapse and the ensuing financial crisis, China has been careful to prevent financial bubbles. Figure 1 shows that the Shanghai Composite Index has risen 82% since 2008, while the S&P500 rose 430%. While the US has seen financial asset values driven by a combination of QE and investor speculation, these factors are absent and discouraged in China. Government debt to GDP is about half that of the US. It is true that industrial debt is high, like that of the US. But the difference is that in China debt is more productive while in America there has been a growing preponderance of debt zombies, only kept solvent by zero interest rate policies. China’s policy of ensuring that the expansion of bank credit is invested in production and not speculation differs fundamentally from the US approach, which is to deliberately inflate financial assets to perpetuate a wealth effect. China avoids the destabilising potential of speculative flows unwinding because it lays the economy open to the possibility that America will use financial instability to undermine China’s economy. In a speech to the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee in April 2015, Major-General Qiao Liang, the People’s Liberation Army strategist, identified a cycle of dollar weakness against other currencies followed by strength, which first inflated debt in foreign countries and then bankrupted them. Qiao argued it was a deliberate American policy and would be used against China. In his words, it was time for America to “harvest” China. Drawing on Chinese intelligence reports, in early 2014 he was made aware of American involvement in the “Occupy Central” movement in Hong Kong. After several delays, the Fed announced the end of QE the following September which drove the dollar higher, and “Occupy Central” protests broke out the following month. To Qiao the two events were connected. By undermining the dollar/yuan rate and provoking riots, the Americans had tried to crash China’s economy. Within six months the Shanghai stock market began to collapse with the SSE Composite Index falling from 5,160 to 3,050 between June and September 2015. One cannot know for certain if Qiao’s analysis was correct, but one can understand the Chinese leadership’s continued caution based upon it. For this and other reasons, the Chinese leadership is extremely wary of having dollar liabilities and the accumulation of unproductive, speculative money in the economy. It justifies their strict exchange control regime, whereby dollars are not permitted to circulate in China, and all inward capital flows are turned into yuan by the PBOC. Furthermore, domestic monetary policy appears deliberately different from that of America and other western nations. While everyone else has been inflating their way through covid, China has been restricting domestic credit expansion and curtailing shadow banking. The discount rate is held up at 2.9% with market rates slightly lower at 2.2%, and the only reason it is that low is because alternative dollar rates are at zero and EU and Japanese rates are negative. It is this restrictive monetary policy that has led to the current crisis in property developers, with the very public difficulties of Evergrande. Far from being a surprise event, with cautious monetary policies it could have been easily foreseen. Moreover, the government has a sensible policy of not rescuing private sector businesses in trouble, though it is likely to take steps to limit financial contagion. In their glass houses, Western critics continually throw stones at China. But at least her policy makers have attempted to avoid contributing to the global inflation cycle. With prices beginning to rise at an accelerating pace in western currencies, a new global financial crash is in the making. China and her SCO cohort would be adversely affected, but not to the same extent. The fruits of China’s policies of restricting credit expansion are showing in the commodity prices she pays, which in her own currency have increased by ten per cent less than for dollar-based competition, judging by the exchange rate movements since the Fed reduced its funds rate to the zero bound and instigated monthly QE of $120bn on 19-23 March 2020 (see Figure 2). And while both currencies have moved broadly sideways since January, there is little doubt that the fundamentals point to an even stronger yuan and weaker dollar. The domestic benefits of a relatively stronger yuan outweigh the margin compression suffered by China’s exporters. It is worth noting that as well as moderating credit demand, China is attempting to increase domestic consumer spending at the expense of the savings rate, so consumer demand will begin to matter more than exports to producers. It is in line with a long-term objective of China becoming less dependent on exports, and exporters will benefit from domestic sales growth instead. Furthermore, with China dominating global exports of intermediate and consumer goods and while western budget deficits are increasing and leading to yet greater trade deficits, Chinese exporters should be able to secure higher prices anyway. There can be little doubt that the budget deficits financed by monetary inflation in America, the EU, Japan and the UK, plus central bank stimulus packages are now undermining the purchasing power of all the major currencies. The consequences for their purchasing powers are now becoming apparent and attempts to calm markets and consumers by describing them as transient cuts little ice. In terms of their purchasing powers, these currencies are now in a race to the bottom. Not only are the costs of production rising sharply, but following a brief pause of three months, commodity and energy prices look set to rise sharply. Figure 3 shows the Invesco commodity tracker, which having almost doubled since March 2020 now appears to be attempting a break out on the upside. Since global competitiveness is no longer a priority, China would be sensible to let its yuan exchange rate rise against western currencies to help keep a lid on domestic prices and costs. It is, after all, a savings driven economy, with the sustainable characteristics of a strong currency relative to the dollar. Conclusions Having failed in their land-based military objectives, America’s undeclared tariff and financial wars against China are also coming to an end, to be replaced by a policy of maritime containment through the AUKUS partnership. Attempts to stem strategic losses in Asia have now ended with the withdrawal from Afghanistan and from other interventions.The change in geopolitical policy is not yet widely appreciated. But the parlous state of US finances, dollar market bubbles, persistent and increasing price inflation and the inevitability of interest rate increases will make a policy backstop of maritime containment the only geostrategic option left to America. By pursuing more cautious monetary policies, China is less exposed to the inevitable consequences of global monetary inflation. While yuan currency rates are managed instead of set by markets, it is now in China’s interest to see a stronger yuan to contain domestic price and cost inflation. Even though fiat currencies could be destroyed by imploding asset bubbles, these factors contribute to a set of circumstances that appear to lead to a more peaceable outcome for the world than appeared likely before America and NATO withdrew from Afghanistan. There’s many a slip between cup and lip; but it was an outcome forecast by Halford Mackinder nearly eighty years ago. Let us hope he was right. Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 08:10.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nyt18 hr. 0 min. ago

Why Is Gold Not Rising?

Why Is Gold Not Rising? Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com, Many are asking why gold is not rising, as just about every other commodity makes new highs in the backdrop of inflationary tailwinds. That’s a very fair question. Some are even saying gold is dead, a silly and “barbarous” old relic of ancient times, ancient math and ancient common sense. Needless to say, we beg to differ, not because we are Swiss-based gold bugs, but simply…well… let’s explain. Current Price vs. Current and Future Roles For those who see history and math as guides rather than “barbarous” and outdated disciplines, their convictions regarding gold’s role, and even price trajectory, do not wane or rise simply due to the paper price of gold. To some extent, and despite Basel 3, gold remains openly manipulated by a handful of central and bullion banks who are terrified of gold’s shine for no other reason than it embarrasses currencies (and mad monetary experiments) falling deeper into discredit. But we track the movement of physical gold every day, and can say with blunt clarity that the paper trade in gold has zero to do with the those otherwise “barbarous” forces of the actual supply and demand of this precious metal. Zero. In short, the paper price of gold has become a fiction accepted as reality, which is not surprising in a financial landscape (i.e., historically over-valued stocks, negative yielding bonds and central bankers allergic to transparency) which defies every measure of honest price discovery or basic capitalism. As for the never-ending gold vs. BTC debate, it would be wrong to say Bitcoin hasn’t taken (or continue to take) some market share away from gold, but at less than $1 trillion, BTC is not going to destroy gold’s $10T market share. In short, the current gold price is a less important topic than its current and future role as historical insurance against mathematically-failing financial and economic systems around the globe. That said, we are not apologists for the falling gold prices, nor do we doubt that by the end of this decade, gold will price well above $4000 per ounce and greatly reward informed investors playing the long game rather than putting green. More on that later. Gold’s Three Roles For now, let’s consider gold’s historical role as a hedge against: 1) recession risk; 2) market volatility risk; and 3) inflation/currency risk. 1. Recession Hedging As for recessions, gold is like an emotional and mathematical barometer testing the temperature of over-heated monetary expansion. As such, it moves higher even before policy makers add more inevitable “stimulus” (i.e., mouse-click fiat currencies) into the system. By the time policy makers officially announce a recession, it’s far too late for most investors to react. Fortunately, gold acts more quickly, anticipating monetary expansion even before the money printers start churning. Long before the “COVID recession” of 2020, for example, the writing was already on the wall that markets and central bankers were getting desperate. By late 2019, debt levels were off the charts, liquidity was drying up, the repo markets were drinking hundreds of billions of Fed dollars per month and an un-official QE to the tune of $60 billion per month was in full-swing. Then came COVID in March. Markets and GDP were tanking and gold was already on course to see (in dollar terms) a 25% rise in 2020, after a 19% rise in 2019. In short, as a recession hedge, gold was ahead of the central bankers in protecting investors. By the way, the Fed’s record for calling recessions and warning investors is 0 for 10… 2. Hedging Market Volatility We all remember March of 2020, when markets puked and gold fell along with it, primarily sold-off as a liquidity source for players facing margin costs which they were forced to pay off with gold holdings. As in 2008 and 2009, gold initially followed the stock ship below the waterline—though not nearly as far as BTC… But as mentioned above, gold reacted quickly, anticipating the money printing (and hence dollar debasement) to come, rising steadily for the rest of that fiscal year. Of course, stocks rose as well, thanks to the unbelievable and historically unprecedented money creation witnessed in 2020—more QE in less than a year than all of the combined QE1-QE4 and “Operation Twist” which we saw from 2009-2015. But thankfully, gold doesn’t just follow stock markets, it hedges them, as the past shows and the future will once again confirm. Such monetary stimulus creates what von Mises would call a “crack-up boom,” and near-term such liquidity is just wonderful for stocks and bonds. As we’ve written elsewhere, COVID—and the policy measures which followed– literally saved the securities bubble and made this “boom” even bigger. But the “boom”-to-volatility to sequence to come from such risk assets reaching price levels which have absolutely nothing to do with valuation will be infinitely more painful (“crack-up”) down the road for those assets than for gold the moment when, not if, this horrific financial system implodes under its own and historically un-matched weight. In short, gold will zig when the markets zag. The anti-gold crowd, of course, will smirk and hug their bonds, reminding us all that gold is a yield-less relic while forgetting to confess that the “no yield” of gold is ironically preferrable to over $19 trillion worth of negative yielding sovereign bonds… 3. Hedging Inflation & Currency Risk Which brings us to the big question of the day, why is gold not rising when it should be ripping as a hedge against what is clearly an inflationary new normal? Fair question. We are asking this ourselves, as real rates (the ideal setting for gold) fall deeper into negative depths with each new day… …as inflation, as well as inflation expectations, are on the objective rise: Last year, for example, gold saw this inflation coming and thus its rising, double-digit price moves reflected the same. But this year, with real rates still diving and inflation rising, gold is showing single single-digit losses rather than gains. What gives? The Market Still Believes the “Transitory” Meme Our ultimate opinion boils down to this: We think the market still believes the central bank myth (i.e., propaganda) that the current inflation is indeed, only “transitory.” We’ve written ad nauseum as to why inflation is anything but “transitory,” yet we can nevertheless respect the deflationists’ argument. The Deflationists The deflation camp, for example, rightly argues that recessionary forces, if left alone, are inherently deflationist, and the signs of economic (rather than market) declines are everywhere. But the key mistake which such deflation (or dis-inflation) narratives make is that these natural forces have not, nor will be, “left alone.” In other words, deflationists are somehow ignoring the monetary and fiscal elephant in the room. That is, more, not less, unnatural monetary and fiscal liquidity is entering the system at historically unprecedented levels, levels that are more than enough to quash such otherwise natural deflationary forces. Stated even more plainly, moderation at the fiscal and monetary level died long ago. Simple Realism—Inflation as Necessity Rather than Debate Central banks are desperate to reach higher inflation to inflate their way out of debt without admitting the same. This is nothing new for fork-tongued policy makers who once “targeted” 2% inflation as a ceiling, but are now effectively “allowing” 2% inflation as the new floor. Just as Nixon said the closing of the gold window was “transitory” in 1971, or as Bernanke promised that QE would be transitory in 2009, the current lie from on high about “transitory inflation” is no less a lie in 2021 as those other lies were in 1971 or 2009. Again, we all just kina know this, right? Furthermore, we just need to be realists rather than dreamers to see the inflation reality now and ahead. Central bankers, for example, may be dishonest, but they aren’t entirely stupid, just desperate and realistic. In the U.S., for example, a staggering as well as openly embarrassing $28.5 trillion public (i.e., national) debt level quickly limits one’s options at the White House or the Eccles Building. Not Many Options Other than Inflation In this realistic light, let’s consider their options. Policy makers have four tools to address such debt, namely: raise taxes, cut spending, declare bankruptcy, or devalue their currencies through inflation. The first two are already in play in the U.S., namely political efforts to raise taxes and ‘talk’ of cutting spending, both politically difficult options. Taking bankruptcy off the table, leaves devaluing the U.S. Dollar as the favored option, which is achieved by deliberately taking real interest rates to extreme negative levels. Allowing inflation to run while keeping rates low reduces the number of dollars needed to repay the debt. This hurts regular folks, but as we’ve said so many times, the Fed is not interested in regular folks. In other words, by decreasing the value of the U.S. Dollar, the U.S. is effectively paying off its current debt with devalued money. There are no permission slips needed from Congress, nor taxpayers. Given such realism, let us be repeatedly blunt and clear: Unlike gold not rising, inflation is not, nor will it be, “transitory.” Instead, deliberate inflation is an inherently and deliberately necessary tool used by the same anti-heroes who put us in this debt hole. More Fed-Speak, Less Honesty This means the Fed will come up with whatever excuses, words, phrases and lies to justify being more dovish despite publicly flirting with hawkish talk about a Fed taper. Already, Powell is taking the Fed way beyond its mandate and talking about social and environmental activism, as these are nice phrases to justify, you guessed it: More money creation and more (not “transitory”) inflation. As for me, hearing Powell talk about “labor market inequality” after the Fed has spent years making the top 1% richer at the expense of an increasingly poorer bottom-90% is so rich in hypocrisy that it makes the eyes water. In this opaque light, the notion of “Fed independence” is a complete and utter fiction. Instead, the Fed is slowly crossing the line into becoming the direct financier to the entire nation—and the only way it can do this is via monetary expansion and deliberate (as well as much higher) inflation, which is a tax on the poor and bullet to the heart of the U.S. Dollar. Period. Full stop. It’s All About Debt Again, this all comes realistically back to debt. When there’s too much unpayable debt (be it at the zombified corporate level or the embarrassed national level), rising rates becomes fatal. The Fed has learned since 2018 that even a slight rise in rates kills the debt-saturated markets whose capital gains taxes are about all that Uncle Sam can declare as income in a nation whose GDP was sold to China years ago. And yet… and yet… the markets somehow wish to believe the fantasy (and Fed-speak) that inflation is only “transitory.” What’s Ahead? We strongly think differently. As blunt realists, we see the Fed perhaps raising rates nominally, but when adjusted by openly deliberate (yet openly denied) inflation, real rates will fall deeper as inflation rises higher. This is because the simple reality (and choice) of nations with their backs against a debt wall is always the pursuit of inflation by design, not deflation. As I recently wrote, nothing is real anymore, and all taboos are broken. The Fed, through QE and/or the Repurchase Program, will print more money as fiscal policy rises alongside—a veritable double-whammy for more “liquidity” to come. This, of course, is crazy and ends badly. The Fed, along with the White House, have tried since Greenspan to outlaw natural market forces and needed austerity in order to bloat markets, keep their jobs or win re-election. Since we can never grow or default (?) our way out of the greatest debt hole in our history, the realistic playbook ahead is negative real rates—i.e., inflation rising higher and faster than repressed Treasury yields. Once this becomes obvious rather than “debated,” gold will rise along side the money supply to levels well above it’s current, yet admittedly, low price. Slowly, but surely, the $19 trillion in negative-yielding sovereign bonds will see outflows from that discredited asset and hence inflows into the “barbarous” asset: Gold. For now, we are patient realists rather than apologists, as the market seemingly continues to price gold for only “transitory” inflation. But once inflationary reality rises above the current “transitory” fantasy, gold will not only surge in price, but serve its far more important role of hedging against undeniable inflation and the equally undeniable (i.e., destructive) impact such inflation will have on global currencies in general and the U.S. Dollar in particular. Gold: Biding Its Time Despite such signposts from math, history and Real Politik, gold is currently under attack for not “doing enough,” despite two years of double-digit rises. Gold investors, however, are not greedy, they are patient, and they hold this physical rather than paper asset for the long game, as previously described. And as for that long game, the inflation ahead, as well destruction of the currency in your pocket today and tomorrow, means today’s gold price is not nearly as relevant an issue as gold’s role in protecting far-sighted investors from what’s ahead. In the end, gold’s primary role is acting as insurance for a global financial and currency system already burning to the ground. But for those naturally asking about price, forecasting and models, as any who worked in a bank know, such models are as complex as they are useless. We keep things simpler and humbler. By just tracking monetary growth rates with certain regressions, a realistic price target for gold based upon inevitable monetary expansion suggests gold at well past $4000 by the end of this decade. That may or may not seem sexy enough for those chasing returns today, but when those returns convert into losses too hard to imagine as markets reach new highs, we must genuinely remind you that even with Fed “support,” all bubbles do the same thing: “Pop.” We are not here to tell you when, as no one can. We are simply suggesting you prepare, rather than react. Tyler Durden Sat, 09/25/2021 - 10:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 25th, 2021

The Island of Death: Visiting the gulag where my grandfather was tortured, but didn"t officially exist

My grandfather was held at Bulgaria's most notorious gulag. This summer, I saw it for the first time. A Belene survivor crosses the bridge across the Danube that connects the town of Belene and Persin island in 2015. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images) This summer, Tana Ganeva traveled to Belene, Bulgaria's most notorious prison camp, where her grandfather was held in the 1950s. Bulgaria has effectively buried the history of its Communist-era gulags, where thousands were starved, tortured, and killed. Ganeva's grandfather attempted to escape Bulgaria four times, before making it to California. See more stories on Insider's business page. The island of Persin is a bird-watcher's paradise. Set on the Danube River, which divides Bulgaria and Romania, it's a nature park covered in wetlands and home to hundreds of rare bird species: the spoonbill, the pygmy cormorant, the corncrake, as well as herons, eagles, storks, and pelicans. Amid the natural beauty, it's jarring to consider that this was the location of a concentration camp where thousands of Bulgarian political prisoners were brutalized and killed from 1949 to 1953 - and in some cases for years after that. Though it's officially known as Belene after the quiet Bulgarian village that sits 750 feet away on the mainland, old-timers here call it by another name: the Island of Death.My stepgrandfather, Georgi Tutunjiev, was sent here at age 24 and spent four years and three months interred at Belene after someone (he suspected his ex-wife) told the authorities of his plan to escape the country. In his notebooks - he had planned to write a memoir about Belene but never did before he died in 2011 at 87 - he remembered the place as "brutal facilities for re-education," where he'd endured "indescribable physical and psychological abuse." He finally managed to escape Bulgaria in 1966 and settle with my grandma in California. In 1989, my parents and I left Bulgaria and joined my grandparents in California, thanks to the family-reunification policy. While many survivors of trauma shut down, my grandfather never stopped talking about the gulag. He seemed to have an unending loop of stories about Belene. For my immediate family, it could be exhausting, and we were alarmed to discover his extensive gun collection, which my grandmother gamely dismissed as a coping mechanism. But guests who came to the house were often riveted by his dark tales, which he mixed with his sense of humor. "Jeko! The Communistie shot you!" he'd shout at his terrier mix, and the dog would sprawl on his back, playing dead. An aerial view of Persin island. The gulag was known as Belene, after the nearby town. Tsvetomir Nikolaev I've come to the town of Belene on a brutally hot day in August for a tour of the Island of Death. I meet Nedyalka Toncheva, who works for the Belene Island Foundation, a nonprofit that organizes tours of the island, close to the bank of the Danube.We cross a rickety water bridge on foot and then jump aboard a Jeep driven by a 24-year-old Belene native named Peter. Toncheva, who is 35, is passionate and knowledgeable about the island's flora and fauna. Every few minutes, she tells Peter to stop the car to point out a roosting stork or a water eagle. She talks about her plans to make Persin a tourist destination comparable to Borovets, a ski resort with luxury hotels in the Rila mountains; or Koprivchitsa, a living museum honoring the Bulgarian rebels who mounted an uprising in 1876 against the Ottoman Empire.In the three decades since the fall of communism, Bulgaria has effectively buried the history of its many gulags, which operated mostly in the 1950s during the early, and most violent, days of Communist rule in the country. In Belene itself, many lower-level guards came from the village and a former mayor was also the gulag's first superintendent. It's not surprising that the village doesn't advertise its history.After 1989, survivors who had been forced to sign documents promising to never talk about the camps started speaking out. For a brief time, they became the subjects of documentaries and newspaper profiles. But soon, the consensus was that it was better to move on. An interior minister tasked with investigating the camps instead secretly ordered a purge of thousands of pages of documents - 40% of the government record. While Bulgaria's defeat of the Ottomans is central to the national identity, and much is made of the fact that Bulgaria saved its Jews during the Holocaust, the memory of the Communist era is more fraught. Georgi Tutunjiev, the author's grandfather, in around 1977. Tana Ganeva Peculiar for a tour, most of our stops lead us to what's not left of the camp. The shacks where prisoners slept have been razed - there's no trace of them.At the entrance, in what is now an open field, an inscription says, "To be human is to have dignity." From inside the camp - what would have been visible to the internees - the engraving says, "If the enemy doesn't surrender, he is destroyed." But no one I've talked to knows whether it's the original or has been recreated. There are a few abandoned, falling-apart buildings, but those were built in 1959, six years after the camp's official (but not real) closing, when it was converted into a prison, in part to kill rumors that it had operated as a secret gulag. Todor Zhivkov, the Communist premier who took power in 1954 and stayed on until 1989, reopened it in the 1980s to detain Muslims who refused to take on Slavic names in place of their own - a disastrous bid to assimilate them. I ask Toncheva whether there's a list of everyone who was held in the camp. I'm thinking of my grandfather and wondering whether there's any documentation. She tells me everyone who comes here for the camp asks the same question."There's no way to know, no list," Toncheva says, apologetic. "There's almost no proof the camp even existed."'Perfectly calculated by Satan himself'The first contingent of 300 men arrived at the Belene camp in the summer of 1949, five years after the 1944 Communist coup. My grandfather, then 24, arrived that first winter. A camp for women was founded on an adjacent island soon after.It was modeled after Josef Stalin's gulags in Siberia. Most of the prisoners had been dragged from their homes by the military police and sent here without trial. (Estimates vary, but 20,000 to 40,000 people were thought to be murdered by the Bulgarian Communist Party.) Even Stalin eventually warned them to scale down the killing of prominent oppositional figures or risk creating martyrs.The first wave of prisoners had to hack through the unpopulated island and build small shacks that were so crowded the prisoners didn't have room to lie down. In his history of the camp, Borislav Skotchev wrote that the island was dotted with towers manned by guards with machine guns. A survivor of Belene during a commemoration ceremony in 2015. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images) The men held here included the former leader of the Social Democrats, Orthodox priests (many in their 70s), and the mayor of Bulgaria's capital, Sofia. Tsveti Ivanov, the editor of the newspaper Svoboden Narod, or Free People, was sent to Belene after serving 10 months in prison. He was beaten so brutally that he got tetanus from his wounds and died in the compound. Much of what we know about the place comes from survivors' memoirs. They were fed a thin soup, sometimes with a handful of beans thrown in. Their bread ration - moldy or stale when it made its way to them - was small, and could be withheld by the guards as punishment. Sometimes they got tea. My grandfather told me that, in the winter, both the soup and the tea were given to them already frozen.When Toncheva takes us on a brief walk to go look at storks, the ground gives off wet heat, and brambles and thorns claw at us, as if the island is alive and doesn't want us there. I think of the people who had to work days and nights, in sweltering summers, devoured by mosquitoes. It's unbelievable that anyone survived.An internal CIA document described the grim situation of starving prisoners. "A frequent sight is that of a prisoner eating raw green leaves and roots," it said. "To be caught doing this, however, would result in 10 days in detention in a dungeon for such an offense." The lucky ones got packages from family, though those were often taken by guards. Many had little choice but to choke down the rotting carcasses of wild cats, killed and skinned for their fur by the villagers, or pick through horse dung for undigested barley. According to a CIA information report from March 13, 1952, during one brutal winter 30 prisoners died of cold or starvation."It was an Inferno circle, perfectly calculated by Satan himself," Liliana Pirinchiva, one of the female survivors of Belene, wrote in her memoir. "We were reduced to skeletons." A group of Bulgarian anarchists. Tsvetana Dzhermanova Then there were the guards, who brought an especially sadistic approach to their work. Some would chase packs of prisoners on horseback, letting their rifles off "as if we were a flock of sheep," wrote Stefan Botchev, a survivor. When he got a severe case of scabies, the mites burrowing into his skin, he was locked up in a shed alone because the guards didn't want him to infect the cows. He recalled seeing a beating so severe that a prisoner's spine was broken, turning him into a "reptile crawling on the ground."Kouni Genchev Kounev, the chairman of the Bulgarian Youth Agrarian Union who also survived Belene, recalled one especially brutal punishment, in which the guards would pull back a prisoner's head and strike him in the trachea. They called it the "sword stroke."Years later, Krum Horozov, a survivor, would draw water colors of the camp from memory - it's virtually the only visual documentation that exists. In 2011, six years before his death, Horozov wrote: "And when we die, which will be soon, who will remember what happened on that island in the 1950s, and will they know that people were sent there without a trial and sentence?"Lilia Topouzova, a historian in Toronto who writes about the history and the memory of the camps, recalls meeting Horozov at an academic conference; he was trying to give away copies of his drawings of Belene to university students, but they avoided him as if he were a pesky street vendor.The CricketAt 93, Tsvetana Dzhermanova is the last known survivor of the women's camp, which was known as Shturets, or Cricket. We're sitting outside her home in the mountain village of Leskovets, and she's talking so fast I wonder how she manages to breathe.She smiles and laughs a lot, and she reminds me of my grandfather, who also spoke with the speed of a motorboat, frantic to tell his story."I promised to outlive the Communistie, and here I am!" she boasts. (My grandfather also took an understandable delight at outliving the Communistie. "I survived the Communistie, but I won't survive old age," he once told me, when I was 25 and had no idea about either.) Tsvetana Dzhermanova. Tsvetana Dzhermanova Dzhermanova was an anarchist in the 1950s, and still is today. "That's my personal ideology," she says. "I'm not sure humans are evolved enough to make either anarchism or socialism work the way they should, but for me, anarchism is it. Because I value freedom, family, friendship, and love."When she first heard about anarchism as a teenager, she asked her mother what it meant. "Anarchists are the people all regimes persecute," her mother had replied. That sold her. Dzhermanova joined a village group. She had no designs on power (detesting it) and mostly spent her time reading anarchist literature and working on a community vegetable garden. She estimates that 800 anarchists from the town were swept up in a night and sent to the gulags."We sang songs while we worked," Dzhermanova tells me. "That helped." Last spring the sprightly nonagenarian made the three-hour trip to Belene to speak with a group of students about the camps. "They had no idea about this. They were really surprised," she says. "No one had ever talked to them about it, and they don't learn about it in school."'Out of Fashion'Toncheva and our driver, Peter, walk through a falling-down building that was constructed in 1959, in part to hide evidence of the camp. It's covered in bird shit. Plant life is taking over its rotted remnants, and old decayed furniture has been abandoned here and there. We talk about how nobody talks about the camp.Peter tells us that despite having spent almost his entire life roughly 750 feet from Persin, in Belene village, he learned about the camp only two weeks earlier, when Toncheva hired him as a driver for her tours."To think they only gave them bread and water, and made them work so hard," he says, shaking his head in disbelief. A crumbling building built on the site of Belene. Stoyan Nenov/Reuters As far as Toncheva knows, no one from her family was held here, but she remembers asking her grandmother about the island when she was a teenager and again after reading the memoirs of survivors. "Shhh. Don't talk so much about this," her grandmother would say. "You don't want to bring trouble."There are rumors of a mass grave near Persin. Mikhail Mikailev, the head of the Belene Island Foundation, wants to find it. But money for the equipment required to find and dig up the remains eludes this two-person staff.Unlike Peter and Toncheva, my parents, who were born in the mid-1950s and grew up in Bulgaria, tell me that in the 1970s and 1980s, all their friends in Sofia knew about Belene. "We all heard the stories," my mother says.But for the authorities, maintaining official denial was worth murder.In 1969, the celebrated Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov defected to the West, where he wrote about the regime's abuses. In one essay, Markov described traveling on a boat down the Danube and approaching Belene. "I remembered how, feet dangling over the edge of the boat, a youth with a guitar once sang a strange song: Danube, white river, how quiet you flow / Danube, black river, what anguish you know." A view of Persin island. Tsvetomir Nikolaev On a rainy afternoon in London, a man jabbed the tip of his umbrella into Markov's leg. Later, Markov noticed what looked like a small bug bite but didn't think much of it. A few days later he was dead, most likely poisoned by the Bulgarian secret service.Before my visit to Belene, I met Topouzova, the historian, over Zoom to talk about the erasure of the camps in Bulgaria's consciousness. While former generals wrote best-sellers, the owner of a prominent bookstore dismissed any interest in survivors' memoirs - they were "out of fashion," he had told her.It was gaslighting in its purest form. And it showed how we're all so prone to the "just world" fallacy, a phenomenon where if something is too horribly unjust, the human brain just kind of moves on. It's not all that hard to bury inconvenient truths."It turned out that aging men and women with fragmented memories of bygone violence did not make for the faces of change," Topouzova wrote in a recent paper titled "On Silence and History" for the American Historical Association. "The interned were rendered nonexistent - their experiences and memories fated to vanish along with the files." A pile of stonesNations define themselves by their monuments. The memorial in downtown Manhattan demands that we never forget the victims of 9/11. In the past few years, American activists have torn Confederate statues from their perches, signaling a break with the passive acceptance of the history of slavery. Yet grappling with unpleasant history isn't easy. It was only in 2018 when a museum honoring the Black victims of lynching opened in Alabama. The 1619 Project, which posits that the history of the United States is rooted in slavery, has spurred a massive backlash. School districts have banned children's books about Rosa Parks. Vaunted democracies are as likely to try to bury inconvenient truths as former communist states. At an exhibition in Sofia in 2009, Belene survivors look at images of the gulag's victims. Stoyan Nenov/Reuters In Bulgaria, there are monuments everywhere. From the smallest village to Sofia, the heroes of Bulgaria's uprising against the Ottoman Empire are eternalized in stone. In Plovdiv, a giant sculpture overlooks Bulgaria's second-largest city that honors "Alyosha," an everyman Soviet soldier who helped "liberate" Bulgaria in the 1940s - even though many Bulgarians see that period as Soviet imperialism, much like the Ottoman Empire's 500 years of occupation.The victims of Belene and the other camps have no such honor. The Belene foundation does the best it can. They helped organize an art exhibit, where Korozov's pencil drawings were tacked onto the walls of the decaying structures that had been erected to mask evidence of the gulag. A man places photos of famous victims of Soviet policy in front of the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2014. Hristo Vladev/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images There is one modest monument on the island. It's an abstract stone structure, and you'd have no idea what it was if you didn't already know the history. The original idea was to build a monument that listed the names of all the known internees, something like the Vietnam wall on the Mall in Washington. But the survivors and their families who pooled their resources to build it ran out of money, and no one, including the Bulgarian government, stepped in to help. (The survivors also hoped to open a museum and to recreate the shacks where they were held, but that hasn't happened either.)My grandfather's escape Dzhermanova, the 93-year-old anarchist - and eternal optimist, apparently - has hope that younger people will dig up the buried history.As for my grandfather, his ex-wife (or whoever it was who betrayed him to the authorities) was right that he wanted to escape Bulgaria.After his release from Belene in 1953, that resolve was so much stronger. "After 4 years and three months in the Island of Death, I became determined to go to my real home: America," he explained in his notebooks. The author with her grandfather and grandmother, Tsvetana Tutunjieva. Tana Ganeva As he detailed it, it would take four harrowing attempts. Soon after his release from Belene, he managed to make it into Yugoslavia during a "sabor" - a temporary loosening of borders so family and friends in the two countries could see each other. But he got caught and was thrown into a Yugoslavian jail.From there, he organized an inmate breakout after bribing the guard dog, Jeko, with his dinner. But he and the other prisoners were caught in the woods, and the Yugoslavian authorities gave them up to the Bulgarian authorities in exchange for 10 cows. "They weren't even very good cows - scrawny," he wrote.Several years later, he tried to cross Bulgaria's mountainous border into Greece, but he was caught once again.Finally, he made it into Austria and then Germany by clinging to the underside of a freight train. And then on to California, where he gave his new dog a familiar name: Jeko.Tana Ganeva writes about policing, prisons and criminal justice. She's currently working on a book about escapees from the Soviet bloc. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 25th, 2021

"Immunity As A Service" - The Snake-Oil Salesmen & The COVID-Zero Con

"Immunity As A Service" - The Snake-Oil Salesmen & The COVID-Zero Con Authored by Julius Ruechel via Julius Ruechel.com, The Snake-Oil Salesmen and the COVID-Zero Con: A Classic Bait-And-Switch for a Lifetime of Booster Shots (Immunity as a Service) If a plumber with a lifetime of experience were to tell you that water runs uphill, you would know he is lying and that the lie is not accidental. It is a lie with a purpose. If you can also demonstrate that the plumber knows in advance that the product he is promoting with that lie is snake oil, you have evidence for a deliberate con. And once you understand what's really inside that bottle of snake oil, you will begin to understand the purpose of the con. One of the most common reasons given for mass COVID vaccinations is the idea that if we reach herd immunity through vaccination, we can starve the virus out of existence and get our lives back. It's the COVID-Zero strategy or some variant of it. By now it is abundantly clear from the epidemiological data that the vaccinated are able to both catch and spread the disease. Clearly vaccination isn't going to make this virus disappear. Only a mind that has lost its grasp on reality can fail to see how ridiculous all this has become.  But a tour through pre-COVID science demonstrates that, from day one, long before you and I had even heard of this virus, it was 100% inevitable and 100% predictable that these vaccines would never be capable of eradicating this coronavirus and would never lead to any kind of lasting herd immunity. Even worse, lockdowns and mass vaccination have created a dangerous set of circumstances that interferes with our immune system's ability to protect us against other respiratory viruses. They also risk driving the evolution of this virus towards mutations that are more dangerous to both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated alike. Lockdowns, mass vaccinations, and mass booster shots were never capable of delivering on any of the promises that were made to the public.  And yet, vaccination has been successfully used to control measles and even to eradicate smallpox. So, why not COVID? Immunity is immunity, and a virus is a virus is a virus, right? Wrong! Reality is far more complicated... and more interesting. This Deep Dive exposes why, from day one, the promise of COVID-Zero can only ever have been a deliberately dishonest shell game designed to prey on a lack of public understanding of how our immune systems work and on how most respiratory viruses differ from other viruses that we routinely vaccinate against. We have been sold a fantasy designed to rope us into a pharmaceutical dependency as a deceitful trade-off for access to our lives. Variant by variant. For as long as the public is willing to go along for the ride.  Exposing this story does not require incriminating emails or whistleblower testimony. The story tells itself by diving into the long-established science that every single virologist, immunologist, evolutionary biologist, vaccine developer, and public health official had access to long before COVID began. As is so often the case, the devil is hidden in the details. As this story unfolds it will become clear that the one-two punch of lockdowns and the promise of vaccines as an exit strategy began as a cynical marketing ploy to coerce us into a never-ending regimen of annual booster shots intentionally designed to replace the natural "antivirus security updates" against respiratory viruses that come from hugs and handshakes and from children laughing together at school. We are being played for fools.  This is not to say that there aren't plenty of other opportunists taking advantage of this crisis to pursue other agendas and to tip society into a full-blown police state. One thing quickly morphs into another. But this essay demonstrates that never-ending boosters were the initial motive for this global social-engineering shell game ― the subscription-based business model, adapted for the pharmaceutical industry. "Immunity as a service".  So, let's dive into the fascinating world of immune systems, viruses, and vaccines, layer by layer, to dispel the myths and false expectations that have been created by deceitful public health officials, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and media manipulators. What emerges as the lies are peeled apart is both surprising and more than a little alarming. “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” - Sherlock Homes”  - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Table of Contents:     Viral Reservoirs: The Fantasy of Eradication     SARS: The Exception to the Rule?     Fast Mutations: The Fantasy of Control through Herd Immunity     Blind Faith in Central Planning: The Fantasy of Timely Doses     Spiked: The Fantasy of Preventing Infection     Antibodies, B-Cells, and T-Cells: Why Immunity to Respiratory Viruses Fades So Quickly     Manufacturing Dangerous Variants: Virus Mutations Under Lockdown Conditions — Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu     Leaky Vaccines, Antibody-Dependent Enhancement, and the Marek Effect     Anti-Virus Security Updates: Cross-Reactive Immunity Through Repeated Exposure     The Not-So-Novel Novel Virus: The Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Outbreak Proved We Have Cross-Reactive Immunity     Mother Knows Best: Vitamin D, Playing in Puddles, and Sweaters     The Paradox: Why COVID-Zero Makes People More Vulnerable to Other Viruses     Introducing Immunity as a Service - A Subscription-Based Business Model for the Pharmaceutical Industry (It was always about the money!)     The Path Forward: Neutralizing the Threat and Bullet-Proofing Society to Prevent This Ever Happening Again. *  *  * Viral Reservoirs: The Fantasy of Eradication Eradication of a killer virus sounds like a noble goal. In some cases it is, such as in the case of the smallpox virus. By 1980 we stopped vaccinating against smallpox because, thanks to widespread immunization, we starved the virus of available hosts for so long that it died out. No-one will need to risk their life on the side effects of a smallpox vaccination ever again because the virus is gone. It is a public health success story. Polio will hopefully be next ― we're getting close.  But smallpox is one of only two viruses (along with rinderpest) that have been eradicated thanks to vaccination. Very few diseases meet the necessary criteria. Eradication is hard and only appropriate for very specific families of viruses. Smallpox made sense for eradication because it was a uniquely human virus ― there was no animal reservoir. By contrast, most respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 (a.k.a. COVID) come from animal reservoirs: swine, birds, bats, etc. As long as there are bats in caves, birds in ponds, pigs in mud baths, and deer living in forests, respiratory viruses are only controllable through individual immunity, but it is not possible to eradicate them. There will always be a near-identical cousin brewing in the wings. Even the current strain of COVID is already cheerfully jumping onwards across species boundaries. According to both National Geographic and Nature magazine, 40% of wild deer tested positive for COVID antibodies in a study conducted in Michigan, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. It has also been documented in wild mink and has already made the species jump to other captive animals including dogs, cats, otters, leopards, tigers, and gorillas. A lot of viruses are not fussy. They happily adapt to new opportunities. Specialists, like smallpox, eventually go extinct. Generalists, like most respiratory viruses, never run out of hosts to keep the infection cycle going, forever. As long as we share this planet with other animals, it is extremely deceitful to give anyone the impression that we can pursue any scorched earth policy that can put this genie back in the bottle. With an outbreak on this global scale, it was clear that we were always going to have to live with this virus. There are over 200 other endemic respiratory viruses that cause colds and flus, many of which circulate freely between humans and other animals. Now there are 201. They will be with us forever, whether we like it or not. SARS: The Exception to the Rule? This all sounds well and good, but the original SARS virus did disappear, with public health measures like contact tracing and strict quarantine measures taking the credit. However, SARS was the exception to the rule. When it made the species jump to humans, it was so poorly adapted to its new human hosts that it had terrible difficulty spreading. This very poor level of adaptation gave SARS a rather unique combination of properties: SARS was extremely difficult to catch (it was never very contagious) SARS made people extremely sick. SARS did not have pre-symptomatic spread. These three conditions made the SARS outbreak easy to control through contact tracing and through the quarantine of symptomatic individuals. SARS therefore never reached the point where it circulated widely among asymptomatic community members.  By contrast, by January/February of 2020 it was clear from experiences in China, Italy, and the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship (more on that story later) that the unique combination of conditions that made SARS controllable were not going to be the case with COVID. COVID was quite contagious (its rapid spread showed that COVID was already well adapted to spreading easily among its new human hosts), most people would have mild or no symptoms from COVID (making containment impossible), and that it was spreading by aerosols produced by both symptomatic and pre-symptomatic people (making contact tracing a joke). In other words, it was clear by January/February 2020 that this pandemic would follow the normal rules of a readily transmissible respiratory epidemic, which cannot be reined in the way SARS was. Thus, by January/February of 2020, giving the public the impression that the SARS experience could be replicated for COVID was a deliberate lie - this genie was never going back inside the bottle. Fast Mutations: The Fantasy of Control through Herd Immunity Once a reasonably contagious respiratory virus begins circulating widely in a community, herd immunity can never be maintained for very long. RNA respiratory viruses (such as influenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinoviruses, and coronaviruses) all mutate extremely fast compared to viruses like smallpox, measles, or polio. Understanding the difference between something like measles and a virus like COVID is key to understanding the con that is being perpetrated by our health institutions. Bear with me here, I promise not to get too technical. All viruses survive by creating copies of themselves. And there are always a lot of "imperfect copies" — mutations — produced by the copying process itself. Among RNA respiratory viruses these mutations stack up so quickly that there is rapid genetic drift, which continually produces new strains. Variants are normal. Variants are expected. Variants make it virtually impossible to build the impenetrable wall of long-lasting herd immunity required to starve these respiratory viruses out of existence. That's one of several reasons why flu vaccines don't provide long-lasting immunity and have to be repeated annually ― our immune system constantly needs to be updated to keep pace with the inevitable evolution of countless unnamed "variants."  This never-ending conveyor belt of mutations means that everyone's immunity to COVID was always only going to be temporary and only offer partial cross-reactive protection against future re-infections. Thus, from day one, COVID vaccination was always doomed to the same fate as the flu vaccine ― a lifelong regimen of annual booster shots to try to keep pace with "variants" for those unwilling to expose themselves to the risk of a natural infection. And the hope that by the time the vaccines (and their booster shots) roll off the production line, they won't already be out of date when confronted by the current generation of virus mutations.  Genetic drift caused by mutations is much slower in viruses like measles, polio, or smallpox, which is why herd immunity can be used to control these other viruses (or even eradicate them as in the case of smallpox or polio). The reason the common respiratory viruses have such rapid genetic drift compared to these other viruses has much less to do with how many errors are produced during the copying process and much more to do with how many of those "imperfect" copies are actually able to survive and produce more copies.  A simple virus with an uncomplicated attack strategy for taking over host cells can tolerate a lot more mutations than a complex virus with a complicated attack strategy. Complexity and specialization put limits on how many of those imperfect copies have a chance at becoming successful mutations. Simple machinery doesn't break down as easily if there is an imperfection in the mechanical parts. Complicated high-tech machinery will simply not work if there are even minor flaws in precision parts. For example, before a virus can hijack the DNA of a host cell to begin making copies of itself, the virus needs to unlock the cell wall to gain entry. Cellular walls are made of proteins and are coated by sugars; viruses need to find a way to create a doorway through that protein wall. A virus like influenza uses a very simple strategy to get inside ― it locks onto one of the sugars on the outside of the cell wall in order to piggyback a ride as the sugar is absorbed into the cell (cells use sugar as their energy source). It's such a simple strategy that it allows the influenza virus to go through lots of mutations without losing its ability to gain entry to the cell. Influenza's simplicity makes it very adaptable and allows many different types of mutations to thrive as long as they all use the same piggyback entry strategy to get inside host cells. By contrast, something like the measles virus uses a highly specialized and very complicated strategy to gain entry to a host cell. It relies on very specialized surface proteins to break open a doorway into the host cell. It's a very rigid and complex system that doesn't leave a lot of room for errors in the copying process. Even minor mutations to the measles virus will cause changes to its surface proteins, leaving it unable to gain access to a host cell to make more copies of itself. Thus, even if there are lots of mutations, those mutations are almost all evolutionary dead ends, thus preventing genetic drift. That's one of several reasons why both a natural infection and vaccination against measles creates lifetime immunity ― immunity lasts because new variations don't change much over time.  Most RNA respiratory viruses have a high rate of genetic drift because they all rely on relatively simple attack strategies to gain entry to host cells. This allows mutations to stack up quickly without becoming evolutionary dead ends because they avoid the evolutionary trap of complexity.  Coronaviruses use a different strategy than influenza to gain access to host cells. They have proteins on the virus surface (the infamous S-spike protein, the same one that is mimicked by the vaccine injection), which latches onto a receptor on the cell surface (the ACE2 receptor) ― a kind of key to unlock the door. This attack strategy is a little bit more complicated than the system used by influenza, which is probably why genetic drift in coronaviruses is slightly slower than in influenza, but it is still a much much simpler and much less specialized system than the one used by measles. Coronaviruses, like other respiratory viruses, are therefore constantly producing a never-ending conveyor belt of "variants" that make long-lasting herd immunity impossible. Variants are normal. The alarm raised by our public health authorities about "variants" and the feigned compassion of pharmaceutical companies as they rush to develop fresh boosters capable of fighting variants is a charade, much like expressing surprise about the sun rising in the East. Once you got immunity to smallpox, measles, or polio, you had full protection for a few decades and were protected against severe illness or death for the rest of your life. But for fast-mutating respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses, within a few months they are sufficiently different that your previously acquired immunity will only ever offer partial protection against your next exposure. The fast rate of mutation ensures that you never catch the exact same cold or flu twice, just their closely related constantly evolving cousins. What keeps you from feeling the full brunt of each new infection is cross-reactive immunity, which is another part of the story of how you are being conned, which I will come back to shortly.  Blind Faith in Central Planning: The Fantasy of Timely Doses But let's pretend for a moment that a miraculous vaccine could be developed that could give us all 100% sterilizing immunity today. The length of time it takes to manufacture and ship 8 billion doses (and then make vaccination appointments for 8 billion people) ensures that by the time the last person gets their last dose, the never-ending conveyor belt of mutations will have already rendered the vaccine partially ineffective. True sterilizing immunity simply won't ever happen with coronaviruses. The logistics of rolling out vaccines to 8 billion people meant that none of our vaccine makers or public health authorities ever could have genuinely believed that vaccines would create lasting herd immunity against COVID. So, for a multitude of reasons, it was a deliberate lie to give the public the impression that if enough people take the vaccine, it would create lasting herd immunity. It was 100% certain, from day one, that by the time the last dose is administered, the rapid evolution of the virus would ensure that it would already be time to start thinking about booster shots. Exactly like the flu shot. Exactly the opposite of a measles vaccine. Vaccines against respiratory viruses can never provide anything more than a temporary cross-reactive immunity "update" ― they are merely a synthetic replacement for your annual natural exposure to the smorgasbord of cold and flu viruses. Immunity as a service, imposed on society by trickery. The only question was always, how long between booster shots? Weeks, months, years?  Feeling conned yet? Spiked: The Fantasy of Preventing Infection The current crop of COVID vaccines was never designed to provide sterilizing immunity - that's not how they work. They are merely a tool designed to teach the immune system to attack the S-spike protein, thereby priming the immune system to reduce the severity of infection in preparation for your inevitable future encounter with the real virus. They were never capable of preventing infection, nor of preventing spread. They were merely designed to reduce your chance of being hospitalized or dying if you are infected. As former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who is on Pfizer’s board, said: "the original premise behind these vaccines were [sic] that they would substantially reduce the risk of death and severe disease and hospitalization. And that was the data that came out of the initial clinical trials.” Every first-year medical student knows that you cannot get herd immunity from a vaccine that does not stop infection.  In other words, by their design, these vaccines can neither stop you from catching an infection nor stop you from transmitting the infection to someone else. They were never capable of creating herd immunity. They were designed to protect individuals against severe outcomes if they choose to take them - a tool to provide temporary focused protection for the vulnerable, just like the flu vaccine. Pushing for mass vaccination was a con from day one. And the idea of using vaccine passports to separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated was also a con from day one. The only impact these vaccine passports have on the pandemic is as a coercive tool to get you to roll up your sleeve. Nothing more. Antibodies, B-Cells, and T-Cells: Why Immunity to Respiratory Viruses Fades So Quickly There are multiple interconnected parts to why immunity to COVID, or any other respiratory virus, is always only temporary. Not only is the virus constantly mutating but immunity itself fades over time, not unlike the way our brains start forgetting how to do complicated math problems unless they keep practicing. This is true for both immunity acquired through natural infection and immunity acquired through vaccination. Our immune systems have a kind of immunological memory ― basically, how long does your immune system remember how to launch an attack against a specific kind of threat. That memory fades over time. For some vaccines, like diphtheria and tetanus, that immunological memory fades very slowly. The measles vaccine protects for life. But for others, like the flu vaccine, that immunological memory fades very quickly. On average, the flu vaccine is only about 40% effective to begin with. And it begins to fade almost immediately after vaccination. By about 150 days (5 months), it reaches zero. Fading immunity after flu shot (Science, April 18th, 2019) The solution to this strange phenomenon lies in the different types of immune system responses that are triggered by a vaccine (or by exposure to the real thing through a natural infection). This has big implications for coronavirus vaccines, but I'll get to that in a moment. First a little background information... A good analogy is to think of our immune system like a medieval army. The first layer of protection began with generalists - guys armed with clubs that would take a swing at everything - they were good for keeping robbers and brigands at bay and for conducting small skirmishes. But if the attack was bigger, then these generalists were quickly overwhelmed, serving as arrow fodder to blunt the attack on the more specialized troops coming up behind them. Spearmen, swordsmen, archers, cavalry, catapult operators, siege tower engineers, and so on. Each additional layer of defense has a more expensive kit and takes ever greater amounts of time to train (an English longbowman took years to build up the necessary skill and strength to become effective). The more specialized a troop is, the more you want to hold them back from the fight unless it's absolutely necessary because they are expensive to train, expensive to deploy, and make a bigger mess when they fight that needs to be cleaned up afterwards. Always keep your powder dry. Send in the arrow fodder first and slowly ramp up your efforts from there. Our immune system relies on a similar kind of layered system of defense. In addition to various non-specific rapid response layers that take out the brigands, like natural killer cells, macrophages, mast cells, and so on, we also have many adaptive (specialized) layers of antibodies (i.e. IgA, IgG, IgM immunoglobulin) and various types of highly specialized white blood cells, like B-cells and T-cells. Some antibodies are released by regular B-cells. Others are released by blood plasma. Then there are memory B-cells, which are capable of remembering previous threats and creating new antibodies long after the original antibodies fade away. And there are various types of T-cells (again with various degrees of immunological memory), like natural killer T-cells, killer T-cells, and helper T-cells, all of which play various roles in detecting and neutralizing invaders. In short, the greater the threat, the more troops are called into the fight. This is clearly a gross oversimplification of all the different interconnected parts of our immune system, but the point is that a mild infection doesn't trigger as many layers whereas a severe infection enlists the help of deeper layers, which are slower to respond but are much more specialized in their attack capabilities. And if those deeper adaptive layers get involved, they are capable of retaining a memory of the threat in order to be able to mount a quicker attack if a repeat attack is recognized in the future. That's why someone who was infected by the dangerous Spanish Flu in 1918 might still have measurable T-cell immunity a century later but the mild bout of winter flu you had a couple of years ago might not have triggered T-cell immunity, even though both may have been caused by versions of the same H1N1 influenza virus. As a rule of thumb, the broader the immune response, the longer immunological memory will last. Antibodies fade in a matter of months, whereas B-cell and T-cell immunity can last a lifetime. Another rule of thumb is that a higher viral load puts more strain on your immune defenses, thus overwhelming the rapid response layers and forcing the immune system to enlist the deeper adaptive layers. That's why nursing homes and hospitals are more dangerous places for vulnerable people than backyard barbeques. That's why feedlot cattle are more vulnerable to viral diseases than cattle on pasture. Viral load matters a lot to how easily the generalist layers are overwhelmed and how much effort your immune system has to make to neutralize a threat. Where the infection happens in the body also matters. For example, an infection in the upper respiratory tract triggers much less involvement from your adaptive immune system than when it reaches your lungs. Part of this is because your upper respiratory tract is already heavily preloaded with large numbers of generalist immunological cells that are designed to attack germs as they enter, which is why most colds and flus never make it deeper into the lungs. The guys with the clubs are capable of handling most of the threats that try to make through the gate. Most of the specialized troops hold back unless they are needed. Catching a dangerous disease like measles produces lifetime immunity because an infection triggers all the deep layers that will retain a memory of how to fight off future encounters with the virus. So does the measles vaccine. Catching a cold or mild flu generally does not.  From an evolutionary point of view, this actually makes a lot of sense. Why waste valuable resources developing long-lasting immunity (i.e. training archers and building catapults) to defend against a virus that did not put you in mortal danger. A far better evolutionary strategy is to evolve a narrower generalist immune response to mild infections (i.e. most cold and flu viruses), which fades quickly once the threat is conquered, but invest in deep long-term broad-based immunity to dangerous infections, which lasts a very long time in case that threat is ever spotted on the horizon again. Considering the huge number of threats our immune systems face, this strategy avoids the trap of spreading immunological memory too thin. Our immunological memory resources are not limitless - long-term survival requires prioritizing our immunological resources. The take-home lesson is that vaccines will, at best, only last as long as immunity acquired through natural infection and will often fade much faster because the vaccine is often only able to trigger a partial immune response compared to the actual infection. So, if the disease itself doesn't produce a broad-based immune response leading to long-lasting immunity, neither will the vaccine. And in most cases, immunity acquired through vaccination will begin to fade much sooner than immunity acquired through a natural infection. Every vaccine maker and public health official knows this despite bizarrely claiming that the COVID vaccines (based on re-creating the S-protein spike instead of using a whole virus) would somehow become the exception to the rule. That was a lie, and they knew it from day one. That should set your alarm bells ringing at full throttle. So, with this little bit of background knowledge under our belts, let's look at what our public health officials and vaccine makers would have known in advance about coronaviruses and coronavirus vaccines when they told us back in the early Spring of 2020 that COVID vaccines were the path back to normality. From a 2003 study [my emphasis]: "Until SARS appeared, human coronaviruses were known as the cause of 15–30% of colds... Colds are generally mild, self-limited infections, and significant increases in neutralizing antibody titer are found in nasal secretions and serum after infection. Nevertheless, some unlucky individuals can be reinfected with the same coronavirus soon after recovery and get symptoms again." In other words, the coronaviruses involved in colds (there were four human coronaviruses before SARS, MERS, and COVID) all trigger such a weak immune response that they do not lead to any long-lasting immunity whatsoever. And why would they if, for most of us, the threat is so minimal that the generalists are perfectly capable of neutralizing the attack. We also know that immunity against coronaviruses is not durable in other animals either. As any farmer knows well, cycles of reinfection with coronaviruses are the rule rather than the exception among their livestock (for example, coronaviruses are a common cause of pneumonia and various types of diarrheal diseases like scours, shipping fever, and winter dysentery in cattle). Annual farm vaccination schedules are therefore designed accordingly. The lack of long-term immunity to coronaviruses is well documented in veterinary research among cattle, poultry, deer, water buffalo, etc. Furthermore, although animal coronavirus vaccines have been on the market for many years, it is well known that "none are completely efficacious in animals". So, like the fading flu vaccine profile I showed you earlier, none of the animal coronavirus vaccines are capable of providing sterilizing immunity (none were capable of stopping 100% of infections, without which you can never achieve herd immunity) and the partial immunity they offered is well known to fade rather quickly. What about immunity to COVID's close cousin, the deadly SARS coronavirus, which had an 11% case fatality rate during the 2003 outbreak? From a 2007 study: "SARS-specific antibodies were maintained for an average of 2 years... SARS patients might be susceptible to reinfection >3 years after initial exposure."  (Bear in mind that, as with all diseases, re-infection does not mean you are necessarily going to get full-blown SARS; fading immunity after a natural infection tends to offer at least some level of partial protection against severe outcomes for a considerable amount of time after you can already be reinfected and spread it to others - more on that later.) And what about MERS, the deadliest coronavirus to date, which made the jump from camels in 2012 and had a fatality rate of around 35%? It triggered the broadest immune response (due to its severity) and also appears to trigger the longest lasting immunity as a result (> 6yrs) Thus, to pretend that there was any chance that herd immunity to COVID would be anything but short-lived was dishonest at best. For most people, immunity was always going to fade quickly. Just like what happens after most other respiratory virus infections. By February 2020, the epidemiological data showed clearly that for most people COVID was a mild coronavirus (nowhere near as severe than SARS or MERS), so it was virtually a certainty that even the immunity from a natural infection would fade within months, not years. It was also a certainty that vaccination was therefore, at best, only ever going to provide partial protection and that this protection would be temporary, lasting on the order of months. This is a case of false and misleading advertising if there ever was one. If I can allow my farming roots to shine through for a moment, I'd like to explain the implications of what was known about animal coronaviruses vaccines. Baby calves are often vaccinated against bovine coronaviral diarrhea shortly after birth if they are born in the spring mud and slush season, but not if they are born in midsummer on lush pastures where the risk of infection is lower. Likewise, bovine coronavirus vaccines are used to protect cattle before they face stressful conditions during shipping, in a feedlot, or in winter feed pens. Animal coronavirus vaccines are thus used as tools to provide a temporary boost in immunity, in very specific conditions, and only for very specific vulnerable categories of animals. After everything I've laid out so far in this text, the targeted use of bovine coronavirus vaccines should surprise no-one. Pretending that our human coronavirus vaccines would be different was nonsense.  The only rational reason why the WHO and public health officials would withhold all that contextual information from the public as they rolled out lockdowns and held forth vaccines as an exit strategy was to whip the public into irrational fear in order to be able to make a dishonest case for mass vaccination when they should have, at most, been focused on providing focused vaccination of the most vulnerable only. That deception was the Trojan Horse to introduce endless mass booster shots as immunity inevitably fades and as new variants replace old ones.  Now, as all the inevitable limitations and problems with these vaccines become apparent (i.e. fading of vaccine-induced immunity, vaccines proving to only be partially effective, the rise of new variants, and the vaccinated population demonstrably catching and spreading the virus ― a.k.a. the leaky vaccine phenomenon), the surprise that our health authorities are showing simply isn't credible. As I have shown you, all this was 100% to be expected. They intentionally weaponized fear and false expectations to unleash a fraudulent bait-and-switch racket of global proportions. Immunity on demand, forever. Manufacturing Dangerous Variants: Virus Mutations Under Lockdown Conditions — Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu At this point you may be wondering, if there is no lasting immunity from infection or vaccination, then are public health officials right to roll out booster shots to protect us from severe outcomes even if their dishonest methods to get us to accept them were unethical? Do we need a lifetime regimen of booster shots to keep us safe from a beast to which we cannot develop durable long-term immunity? The short answer is no.  Contrary to what you might think, the rapid evolution of RNA respiratory viruses actually has several important benefits for us as their involuntary hosts, which protects us without the benefit of broad lifelong immunity. One of those benefits has to do with the natural evolution of the virus towards less dangerous variants. The other is the cross-reactive immunity that comes from frequent re-exposure to closely related "cousins". I'm going to peel apart both of these topics in order to show you the remarkable system that nature designed to keep us safe... and to show you how the policies being forced on us by our public health authorities are knowingly interfering with this system. They are creating a dangerous situation that increases our risk to other respiratory viruses (not just to COVID) and may even push the COVID virus to evolve to become more dangerous to both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated. There are growing signs that this nightmare scenario has already begun.  “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."  - President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Let's start with the evolutionary pressures that normally drive viruses towards becoming less dangerous over time. A virus depends on its host to spread it. A lively host is more useful than a bedridden or dead one because a lively host can spread the virus further and will still be around to catch future mutations. Viruses risk becoming evolutionary dead ends if they kill or immobilize their hosts. Plagues came, killed, and then were starved out of existence because their surviving hosts had all acquired herd immunity. Colds come and go every year because their hosts are lively, easily spread the viruses around, and never acquire long-lasting immunity so that last year's hosts can also serve as next year's hosts ― only those who have weak immune systems have much to worry about. In other words, under normal conditions, mutations that are more contagious but less deadly have a survival advantage over less contagious and more deadly variations. From the virus' point of view, the evolutionary golden mean is reached when it can easily infect as many hosts as possible without reducing their mobility and without triggering long-term immunity in most of their hosts. That's the ticket to setting up a sustainable cycle of reinfection, forever. Viruses with slow genetic drift and highly specialized reproductive strategies, like polio or measles, can take centuries or longer to become less deadly and more contagious; some may never reach the relatively harmless status of a cold or mild flu virus (by harmless I mean harmless to the majority of the population despite being extremely dangerous to those with weak or compromised immune systems). But for viruses with fast genetic drift, like respiratory viruses, even a few months can make a dramatic difference. Rapid genetic drift is one of the reasons why the Spanish Flu stopped being a monster disease, but polio and measles haven't. And anyone with training in virology or immunology understands this!  We often speak of evolutionary pressure as though it forces an organism to adapt. In reality, a simple organism like a virus is utterly blind to its environment — all it does is blindly produce genetic copies of itself. "Evolutionary pressure" is actually just a fancy way of saying that environmental conditions will determine which of those millions of copies survives long enough to produce even more copies of itself.  A human adapts to its environment by altering its behaviour (that's one type of adaptation). But the behaviour of a single viral particle never changes. A virus "adapts" over time because some genetic copies with one set of mutations survive and spread faster than other copies with a different set of mutations. Adaptation in viruses has to be seen exclusively through the lens of changes from one generation of virus to the next based on which mutations have a competitive edge over others. And that competitive edge will vary depending on the kinds of environmental conditions a virus encounters. So, fear mongering about the Delta variant being even more contagious leaves out the fact that this is exactly what you would expect as a respiratory virus adapts to its new host species. We would expect new variants to be more contagious but less deadly as the virus fades to become just like the other 200+ respiratory viruses that cause common colds and flus.  That's also why the decision to lock down the healthy population is so sinister. Lockdowns, border closures, and social distancing rules reduced spread among the healthy population, thus creating a situation where mutations produced among the healthy would become sufficiently rare that they might be outnumbered by mutations circulating among the bedridden. Mutations circulating among the healthy are, by definition, going to be the least dangerous mutations since they did not make their hosts s.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 25th, 2021

Valley National Bank to acquire Bank Leumi USA in $1.1B deal

Wayne, New Jersey-based Valley has 12 branches across South Florida......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsSep 24th, 2021

Valley National (VLY) Agrees to Buy Bank Leumi USA for $1.15B

Valley National (VLY) signs a deal to acquire Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.'s U.S. banking arm for $1.15 billion. In an effort to diversify revenues, Valley National Bancorp VLY has signed a deal to acquire Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.’s U.S. banking arm — Bank Leumi USA — for $1.15 billion. The closing of the deal is expected by late first quarter or early second-quarter 2022.With the acquisition, Valley National will be able to broaden its commercial product offerings, and expand its technology and venture capital banking business, thereby, solidifying its position as a top-tier, relationship-focused commercial bank. The pro-forma company, which will be formed as a result of the merger, will be the 29th largest publicly traded U.S. bank by assets.Bank Leumi, which provides full-service relationship banking for middle-market commercial clients and private banking services for high net-worth individuals, had $8.4 billion worth of total assets and $5.4 billion of gross loans as of Jun 30, 2021. It has a strategically distributed network as it operates five commercial offices in New York, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Chicago, and Miami.Notably, this May, Bloomberg reported that Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M. was planning to sell the unit as part of an investment agreement with two minority shareholders — Endicott Group and MSD Capital LP. At that time, people familiar with the matter stated that Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M. could get approximately $1 billion for the unit.Terms of the Deal and Financial ImpactPer the agreement, Bank Leumi shareholders will receive 3.8025 shares of Valley National’s common stock along with $5.08 in cash (subject to specified adjustments) for each of their shares held. Once the deal is complete, Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M. will own more than 14% of Valley National’s common stock.The transaction is expected to be 7% accretive to Valley National’s earnings (on a fully phased-in basis) in 2023. A 1% dilution to tangible book value is projected, which will be earned back in nearly a year.At close, the deal is expected to be effectively neutral to Valley National’s tangible common equity to tangible asset ratio.Notably, Valley National and Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M. have also entered an agreement providing for an ongoing business relationship, including loan participations and customer referrals, which will enable Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M. to expand its activity in the United States.Effective as of and contingent upon the merger, Valley National will add two directors designated by Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M. to its board of directors. Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M. has agreed to a four-year lock-up with respect to the shares of Valley National’s common stock to be issued in the transaction, with 25% of the shares being released from the lock-up on each anniversary of closing. In fact, following the closure, Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M. will be subject to customary voting and standstill agreements.Management CommentsValley National’s chairman, president & CEO, Ira Robbins, stated, “We are extremely excited about the combination with Bank Leumi and the diverse growth opportunities that we expect the partnership will bring. Bank Leumi’s unique deposit verticals, including the technology and venture capital business, will continue the significant funding improvement that we have driven over the last few years. On the lending side, Bank Leumi will add diversification into niche C&I segments and new geographies including in California and Illinois.”Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.’s CEO, Hanan Friedman, said, “For Leumi, this is a strategic move designed to deepen and expand our exposure to the U.S. The merger will provide Leumi significant and unprecedented presence and market access for an Israeli bank in the U.S. This is positive news for our commercial and technology customers, who will enjoy a wider range of product offerings and the capabilities of a top and prosperous U.S. bank.”Our TakeSimilar to other mid-sized banks like Independent Bank Corp. INDB, F.N.B. Corporation FNB and BancorpSouth BXS, Valley National has been taking inorganic expansion plans to diversify its revenue mix amid the low interest rate environment. In June, it announced an all-stock agreement to acquire The Westchester Bank Holding Corporation.Further, Valley National is leveraging digital technology and has launched its online bank — Valley Direct. This will help the company in reaching beyond its current footprint in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Alabama.So far this year, shares of Valley National have gained 32.3% compared with 30.3% growth recorded by the industry. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Currently, Valley National carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report BancorpSouth Bank (BXS): Free Stock Analysis Report F.N.B. Corporation (FNB): Free Stock Analysis Report Valley National Bancorp (VLY): Free Stock Analysis Report Independent Bank Corp. (INDB): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

China Bans Cryptocurrency Trading, Bitcoin and Ethereum Dive

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) banned cryptocurrency trading on Friday, declaring that all activities related to this type of asset –from payments and trading to advertising– are now illegal. Bitcoin and ethereum dived 8% and 11% on the announcement, respectively. Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Cryptocurrency Trading Banned “Overseas virtual currency […] The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) banned cryptocurrency trading on Friday, declaring that all activities related to this type of asset –from payments and trading to advertising– are now illegal. Bitcoin and ethereum dived 8% and 11% on the announcement, respectively. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Cryptocurrency Trading Banned “Overseas virtual currency exchanges that use the internet to offer services to domestic residents is also considered illegal financial activity,” the PBOC said, according to a CNBC translation. Reuters reports that the regulator’s move was rooted in the premise that these assets entail a threat to national stability due to speculation. George Zarya, CEO of Bequant crypto exchange in London, was quoted as saying: “China has been known to go to extremes with either very assertive statements and prosecutions to complete radio silence.” "This time the point was made very clear that China will not support cryptocurrency market development as it goes against its policies of tightening up control over capital flow and big tech.” The decision to ban cryptocurrency trading prohibits financial institutions, payment companies, and internet firms from facilitating trade or opening cryptocurrency accounts, as well as their promotion and advertising. The regulator will also strengthen the monitoring of these activities. Shockwaves “The Chinese regulators have always been extreme in their views and these comments are not new,” said Vijay Ayyar, head of Asia Pacific at digital currency exchange Luno. “They have said these things many times in the past. But the reaction is interesting purely because we are anyway in a slightly nervous environment for crypto with the recent SEC comments and overall macro environment with the Evergrande news. So any comments of this nature will cause a selloff in risky assets.” The measure also means that all transactions related to cryptocurrencies, including services provided by foreign platforms to national residents, are illegal. China has cranked the pressure on the industry amid heightened concern about the risks of fraud, money laundering, and the excessive energy use in crypto mining. The nation's economic planning agency had said it was urgent to root out crypto mining to meet carbon emissions targets. In the meantime, the PBOC is preparing its own digital currency as the Asian giant is set to spearhead the issuing of the world’s first digital currency by a central bank. The country has already tested a virtual version of the yuan in various provinces. Updated on Sep 24, 2021, 10:16 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkSep 24th, 2021

Bank Stock Roundup: Expansion Plans of USB, JPM, C & Asset Cap on WFC in Focus

Business expansion efforts and solid economic growth will keep aiding major banks like Citi (C), JPMorgan (JPM) & U.S. Bancorp (USB). Wells Fargo (WFC) continues to face lawmakers' ire over its mishandling of business practices. Over the past five trading sessions, the performance of major bank stocks depicted an optimistic stance. At the end of the two-day FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve hinted at tapering its bond-buying program “soon” which many have interpreted as their next meeting in November.This symbolic tightening of monetary policy was cheered by investors as this goes on to signal that the central bank is confident of economic recovery and won't let inflation get too high. Thus, yields on both 10-year and 30-year Treasury bonds have risen over the past week despite continued concerns over the increase in cases due to the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. The rate on the 10-year Treasury bond stands at 1.44% while that for the 30-year Treasury bond is 1.95%.Thus, the steepening yield curve, as well as expectation of solid economic growth, will benefit major banks’ net interest margins amid a low interest rate environment. Though the Fed kept the short-term rates unchanged this time, there has been increasing expectations of a rate hike as soon as in the second half of 2022.This, in turn, will support major banks’ top-line growth. With banks’ financials directly tied to the health of the economy, investors are now expecting improved profitability for major banks in the quarters ahead.Now talking about bank-specific developments, the key theme during the past five trading sessions was business expansion (domestic and international). As major banks face revenue growth challenges owing to low rates and muted loan demand, they are undertaking measures to further diversify operations and fuel top-line growth through opportunistic buyouts.Another major news that dominated bank investors’ sentiments was Wells Fargo’s WFC persistent issue related to the $1.95-billion asset cap. The Fed Chair Jerome Powell noted that the central bank is closely watching the remedial efforts by the bank to mend its "widespread and pervasive" problems. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research(Read: Bank Stock Roundup for the Week Ending Aug 13, 2021)Important Developments of the Week1. U.S. Bancorp USB has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire MUFG Union Bank’s core retail banking operations from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group for a cash-and-stock transaction valued at $8 billion, in a bid to boost its presence on the West Coast. The deal, expected to close in the first half of 2022, will fortify the company’s presence in California, Washington, and Oregon.2. JPMorgan JPM has acquired the college financial planning platform, Frank. The entire business of Frank, including its Easy FAFSA, Classfinder College Course Marketplace, Scholarships & Employment tools, and Financial Education and Careers content, is being acquired. The acquisition adds to the many deals inked by the bank over the past few months in a bid to compete with technology firms.3. JPMorgan has launched its digital retail bank Chase in the U.K. As planned, currently a smartphone app has been launched, which offers only current accounts. However, eventually, JPMorgan intends to provide savings as well as current accounts along with a wide range of banking services and loan products through the digital-only bank.4. In order to help the bank trim costs and streamline its post-trade processes, Citigroup C recently entered into a a strategic partnership with Snowflake to reassess and reform the processes across financial services transactions. Snowflake’s Financial Services Data Cloud aids firms to boost their top-line growth and steer innovation while alleviating any risk.5. Wells Fargo’s looming $1.95-billion asset cap is likely to stay put “until the firm has comprehensively fixed its problems,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in the September FOMC press conference when asked about Senator Warren’s letter last week that urged the Fed to break up the Wall Street biggie.6. JPMorgan has increased its regular quarterly dividend. The bank announced a dividend of $1 per share, representing a hike of 11.1% from the prior payout. JPMorgan has a track record of increasing its dividends since 2011. From paying 5 cents a share as the quarterly dividend during the 2008 financial crisis, the company has come a long way in terms of capital strength.Price PerformanceHere is how the seven major stocks performed: Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchOver the past five trading days, both Capital One and U.S. Bancorp recorded maximum gains, with their shares rallying 4% each. Also, shares of both Wells Fargo and Bank of America have gained 2.9% during the same period.Over the past six months, shares of Capital One and Wells Fargo have jumped 37% and 25.8%, respectively, while PNC Financial has gained 15.8%.What’s Next?Over the next five trading days, unless there is any change in the macroeconomic/global situation, the major bank stocks are likely to perform in a similar fashion. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Wells Fargo & Company (WFC): Free Stock Analysis Report JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM): Free Stock Analysis Report Citigroup Inc. (C): Free Stock Analysis Report U.S. Bancorp (USB): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Valley National (VLY) Moves 6.9% Higher: Will This Strength Last?

Valley National (VLY) was a big mover last session on higher-than-average trading volume. The latest trend in earnings estimate revisions might not help the stock continue moving higher in the near term. Valley National (VLY) shares rallied 6.9% in the last trading session to close at $12.90. This move can be attributable to notable volume with a higher number of shares being traded than in a typical session. This compares to the stock's 9.3% loss over the past four weeks.The increase in investor optimism can be attributed to the announcement of the merger deal. In an effort to diversify revenues, Valley National signed a deal to acquire Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M.’s U.S. banking arm – Bank Leumi USA for $1.15 billion. Closing of the deal is expected by late first quarter or early second quarter of 2022.The transaction is expected to be 7% accretive to Valley National’s earnings (on a fully-phased in basis) in 2023. With the acquisition, Valley National will be able to broaden its commercial product offerings, and also expand its technology and venture capital banking business, thereby solidifying its position as a top-tier, relationship-focused commercial bank.This holding company for Valley National Bank is expected to post quarterly earnings of $0.30 per share in its upcoming report, which represents a year-over-year change of +20%. Revenues are expected to be $340.16 million, up 2.4% from the year-ago quarter.While earnings and revenue growth expectations are important in evaluating the potential strength in a stock, empirical research shows a strong correlation between trends in earnings estimate revisions and near-term stock price movements.For Valley National, the consensus EPS estimate for the quarter has remained unchanged over the last 30 days. And a stock's price usually doesn't keep moving higher in the absence of any trend in earnings estimate revisions. So, make sure to keep an eye on VLY going forward to see if this recent jump can turn into more strength down the road.The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank 3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks here >>>> Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Valley National Bancorp (VLY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Futures Slide Alongside Cryptocurrencies Amid China Crackdown

Futures Slide Alongside Cryptocurrencies Amid China Crackdown US futures and European stocks fell amid ongoing nerves over the Evergrande default, while cryptocurrency-linked stocks tumbled after the Chinese central bank said such transactions are illegal. Sovereign bond yields fluctuated after an earlier selloff fueled by the prospect of tighter monetary policy. At 745am ET, S&P 500 e-minis were down 19.5 points, or 0.43%, Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 88.75 points, or 0.58% and Dow e-minis were down 112 points, or 0.33%. In the biggest overnight news, Evergrande offshore creditors remain in limbo and still haven't received their coupon payment effectively starting the 30-day grace period, while also in China, the State Planner issued a notice on the crackdown of cryptocurrency mining, will strictly prohibit financing for new crypto mining projects and strengthen energy consumption controls of new crypto mining projects. Subsequently, the PBoC issued a notice to further prevent and dispose of the risks from speculating on cryptocurrencies, to strengthen monitoring of risks from crypto trading and such activities are illegal. The news sent the crypto space tumbling as much as 8% while cryptocurrency-exposed stocks slumped in U.S. premarket trading. Marathon Digital (MARA) drops 6.5%, Bit Digital (BTBT) declines 4.7%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT) -5.9%, Coinbase -2.8%. Big banks including JPMorgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp slipped about 0.5%, while oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp were down 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively, in premarket trading.Mega-cap FAAMG tech giants fell between 0.5% and 0.6%. Nike shed 4.6% after the sportswear maker cut its fiscal 2022 sales expectations and warned of delays during the holiday shopping season. Several analysts lowered their price targets on the maker of sports apparel and sneakers after the company cut its FY revenue growth guidance to mid-single- digits. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: Helbiz (HLBZ) falls 10% after the micromobility company filed with the SEC for the sale of as many as 11m shares by stockholders. Focus Universal (FCUV), an online marketing company that’s been a favorite of retail traders, surged 26% in premarket trading after the stock was cited on Stocktwits in recent days. Vail Resorts (MTN) falls 2.7% in postmarket trading after its full-year forecasts for Ebitda and net income missed at the midpoint. GlycoMimetics (GLYC) jumps 15% postmarket after announcing that efficacy and safety data from a Phase 1/2 study of uproleselan in patients with acute myeloid leukemia were published in the journal Blood on Sept. 16. VTV Therapeutics (VTVT) surges 30% after company says its HPP737 psoriasis treatment showed favorable safety and tolerability profile in a multiple ascending dose study. Fears about a sooner-than-expected tapering amid signs of stalling U.S. economic growth and concerns over a spillover from China Evergrande’s default had rattled investors in September, putting the benchmark S&P 500 index on course to snap a seven-month winning streak. Elaine Stokes, a portfolio manager at Loomis Sayles & Co., told Bloomberg Television, adding that “what they did is tell us that they feel really good about the economy.” While the bond selloff vindicated Treasury bears who argue yields are too low to reflect fundamentals, others see limits to how high they can go. “We’d expected bond yields to go higher, given the macro situation where growth is still very strong,” Sylvia Sheng, global multi-asset strategist with JPMorgan Asset Management, said on Bloomberg Television. “But we do stress that is a modest view, because we think that upside to yields is still limited from here given that central banks including the Fed are still buying bonds.” Still, Wall Street’s main indexes rallied in the past two session and are set for small weekly gains. European equities dipped at the open but trade off worst levels, with the Euro Stoxx 50 sliding as much as 1.1% before climbing off the lows. France's CAC underperformed at the margin. Retail, financial services are the weakest performers. EQT AB, Europe’s biggest listed private equity firm, fell as much as 8.1% after Sweden’s financial watchdog opened an investigation into suspected market abuse. Here are some of the other biggest European movers today: SMCP shares surge as much as 9.9%, advancing for a 9th session in 10, amid continued hopes the financial troubles of its top shareholder will ultimately lead to a sale TeamViewer climbs much as 4.2% after Bankhaus Metzler initiated coverage with a buy rating, citing the company’s above-market growth AstraZeneca gains as much as 3.6% after its Lynparza drug met the primary endpoint in a prostate cancer trial Darktrace drops as much as 9.2%, paring the stock’s rally over the past few weeks, as a technical pattern triggered a sell signal Adidas and Puma fall as much as 4% and 2.9%, respectively, after U.S. rival Nike’s “large cut” to FY sales guidance, which Jefferies said would “likely hurt” shares of European peers Earlier in the session, Asian stocks rose for a second day, led by rallies in Japan and Taiwan, following U.S. peers higher amid optimism over the Federal Reserve’s bullish economic outlook and fading concerns over widespread contagion from Evergrande. Stocks were muted in China and Hong Kong. India’s S&P BSE Sensex topped the 60,000 level for the first time on Friday on optimism that speedier vaccinations will improve demand for businesses in Asia’s third-largest economy. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained as much as 0.7%, with TSMC and Sony the biggest boosts. That trimmed the regional benchmark’s loss for the week to about 1%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 2.1%, reopening after a holiday, pushing its advance for September to 7.7%, the best among major global gauges. The Asian regional benchmark pared its gain as Hong Kong stocks fell sharply in late afternoon trading amid continued uncertainty, with Evergrande giving no sign of making an interest payment that was due Thursday. Among key upcoming events is the leadership election for Japan’s ruling party next week, which will likely determine the country’s next prime minister. “Investor concerns over the Evergrande issue have retreated a bit for now,” said Hajime Sakai, chief fund manager at Mito Securities Co. in Tokyo. “But investors will have to keep downside risk in the corner of their minds.” Indian stocks rose, pushing the Sensex above 60,000 for the first time ever. Key gauges fell in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, while the Thai market was closed for a holiday. Treasuries are higher as U.S. trading day begins after rebounding from weekly lows reached during Asia session, adding to Thursday’s losses. The 10-year yield was down 1bp at ~1.42%, just above the 100-DMA breached on Thursday for the first time in three months; it climbed to 1.449% during Asia session, highest since July 6, and remains 5.2bp higher on the week, its fifth straight weekly increase. Several Fed speakers are slated, first since Wednesday’s FOMC commentary set forth a possible taper timeline.  Bunds and gilts recover off cheapest levels, curves bear steepening. USTs bull steepen, richening 1.5bps from the 10y point out. Peripheral spreads are wider. BTP spreads widen 2-3bps to Bunds. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index climbed back from a one-week low as concern about possible contagion from Evergrande added to buying of the greenback based on the Federal Reserve tapering timeline signaled on Wednesday. NZD, AUD and CAD sit at the bottom of the G-10 scoreboard. ZAR and TRY are the weakest in EM FX. The pound fell after its rally on Thursday as investors looked ahead to BOE Governor Andrew Bailey’s sPeech next week about a possible interest-rate hike. Traders are betting that in a contest to raise borrowing costs first, the Bank of England will be the runaway winner over the Federal Reserve. The New Zealand and Aussie dollars led declines among Group-of-10 peers. The euro was trading flat, with a week full of events failing “to generate any clear directional move,” said ING analysts Francesco Pesole and Chris Turner. German IFO sentiment indeces will “provide extra indications about the area’s sentiment as  businesses faced a combination of delta variant concerns and lingering supply disruptions”. The Norwegian krone is the best performing currency among G10 peers this week, with Thursday’s announcement from the Norges Bank offering support In commodities, crude futures hold a narrow range up around best levels for the week. WTI stalls near $73.40, Brent near $77.50. Spot gold extends Asia’s gains, adding $12 on the session to trade near $1,755/oz. Base metals are mixed, LME nickel and aluminum drop ~1%, LME tin outperforms with a 2.8% rally. Bitcoin dips after the PBOC says all crypto-related transactions are illegal. Looking to the day ahead now, we’ll hear from Fed Chair Powell, Vice Chair Clarida and the Fed’s Mester, Bowman, George and Bostic, as well as the ECB’s Lane and Elderson, and the BoE’s Tenreyro. Finally, a summit of the Quad Leaders will be held at the White House, including President Biden, and the Prime Ministers of Australia, India and Japan. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.3% to 4,423.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.7% to 464.18 German 10Y yield fell 8.5 bps to -0.236% Euro little changed at $1.1737 MXAP up 0.4% to 201.25 MXAPJ down 0.5% to 643.20 Nikkei up 2.1% to 30,248.81 Topix up 2.3% to 2,090.75 Hang Seng Index down 1.3% to 24,192.16 Shanghai Composite down 0.8% to 3,613.07 Sensex up 0.2% to 60,031.83 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4% to 7,342.60 Kospi little changed at 3,125.24 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $77.57/bbl Gold spot up 0.7% to $1,755.38 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 93.14 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg China Evergrande Group’s unusual silence about a dollar-bond interest payment that was due Thursday has put a focus on what might happen during a 30-day grace period. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s inflation target is increasingly out of step with international counterparts and fails to account for structural changes in the country’s economy over the past 30 years, Westpac Banking Corp.’s Bill Evans said. With central banks from Washington to London this week signaling more alarm over faster inflation, the ultra-stimulative path of the euro zone and some of its neighbors appears lonelier than ever. China’s central bank continued to pump liquidity into the financial system on Friday as policy makers sought to avoid contagion stemming from China Evergrande Group spreading to domestic markets. A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded mixed with the region failing to fully sustain the impetus from the positive performance across global counterparts after the silence from Evergrande and lack of coupon payments for its offshore bonds, stirred uncertainty for the company. ASX 200 (-0.4%) was negative as underperformance in mining names and real estate overshadowed the advances in tech and resilience in financials from the higher yield environment. Nikkei 225 (+2.1%) was the biggest gainer overnight as it played catch up to the prior day’s recovery on return from the Autumnal Equinox holiday in Japan and with exporters cheering the recent risk-conducive currency flows, while KOSPI (-0.1%) was lacklustre amid the record daily COVID-19 infections and after North Korea deemed that it was premature to declare that the Korean War was over. Hang Seng (-1.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.8%) were indecisive after further liquidity efforts by the PBoC were offset by concerns surrounding Evergrande after the Co. failed to make coupon payments due yesterday for offshore bonds but has a 30-day grace period with the Co. remaining quiet on the issue. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lower on spillover selling from global counterparts including the declines in T-notes as the US 10yr yield breached 1.40% for the first time since early-July with the pressure in bonds also stemming from across the Atlantic following a more hawkish BoE, while the presence of the BoJ in the market today for over JPY 1.3tln of government bonds with 1yr-10yr maturities did very little to spur prices. Top Asian News Rivals for Prime Minister Battle on Social Media: Japan Election Asian Stocks Rise for Second Day, Led by Gains in Japan, Taiwan Hong Kong Stocks Still Wagged by Evergrande Tail Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Tech Index Extends Decline to More Than 2% European equities (Stoxx 600 -0.9%) are trading on the back foot in the final trading session of the week amid further advances in global bond yields and a mixed APAC handover. Overnight, saw gains for the Nikkei 225 of 2.1% with the index aided by favourable currency flows, whilst Chinese markets lagged (Shanghai Comp. -0.8%, Hang Seng -1.6%) with further liquidity efforts by the PBoC offset by concerns surrounding Evergrande after the Co. failed to make coupon payments due yesterday for offshore bonds. As context, despite the losses in Europe today, the Stoxx 600 is still higher by some 1.2% on the week. Stateside, futures are also on a softer footing with the ES down by 0.4% ahead of a busy Fed speaker schedule. Back to Europe, sectors are lower across the board with Retail and Personal & Household Goods lagging peers. The former has been hampered by losses in Adidas (-3.0%) following after hours earnings from Nike (-4.2% pre-market) which saw the Co. cut its revenue guidance amid supply chain woes. AstraZeneca (+2.1%) sits at the top of the FTSE 100 after announcing that the Lynparza PROpel trial met its primary endpoint. Daimler’s (+0.1%) Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will take a 33% stake in a battery cell manufacturing JV with Total and Stellantis. EQT (-6.5%) sits at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after the Swedish FSA announced it will open an investigation into the Co. Top European News EQT Investigated by Sweden’s FSA Over Suspected Market Abuse Gazprom Says Claims of Gas Under-supply to Europe Are ‘Absurd’ German Sept. Ifo Business Confidence 98.8; Est. 99 German Business Index at Five-Month Low in Pre-Election Verdict In FX, the rot seems to have stopped for the Buck in terms of its sharp and marked fall from grace amidst post-FOMC reflection and re-positioning in the financial markets on Thursday. Indeed, the Dollar index has regained some poise to hover above the 93.000 level having recoiled from 93.526 to 92.977 over the course of yesterday’s hectic session that saw the DXY register a marginal new w-t-d high and low at either end of the spectrum. Pre-weekend short covering and consolidation may be giving the Greenback a lift, while the risk backdrop is also less upbeat ahead of a raft of Fed speakers flanking US new home sales data. Elsewhere, the Euro remains relatively sidelined and contained against the Buck with little independent inspiration from the latest German Ifo survey as the business climate deteriorated broadly in line with consensus and current conditions were worse than forecast, but business expectations were better than anticipated. Hence, Eur/Usd is still stuck in a rut and only briefly/fractionally outside 1.1750-00 parameters for the entire week, thus far, as hefty option expiry interest continues to keep the headline pair in check. However, there is significantly less support or gravitational pull at the round number today compared to Thursday as ‘only’ 1.3 bn rolls off vs 4.1 bn, and any upside breach could be capped by 1.1 bn between 1.1765-85. CAD/NZD/AUD - Some payback for the non-US Dollars following their revival, with the Loonie waning from 1.2650+ peaks ahead of Canadian budget balances, though still underpinned by crude as WTI hovers around Usd 73.50/brl and not far from decent option expiries (from 1.2655-50 and 1.2625-30 in 1.4 bn each). Similarly, the Kiwi has faded after climbing to within single digits of 0.7100 in wake of NZ trade data overnight revealing a much wider deficit as exports slowed and imports rose, while the Aussie loses grip of the 0.7300 handle and skirts 1.1 bn option expiries at 0.7275. CHF/GBP/JPY - The Franc is fairly flat and restrained following a dovish SNB policy review that left in lagging somewhat yesterday, with Usd/Chf and Eur/Chf straddling 0.9250 and 1.0850 respectively, in contrast to Sterling that is paring some hawkish BoE momentum, as Cable retreats to retest bids circa 1.3700 and Eur/Gbp bounces from sub-0.8550. Elsewhere, the Yen has not been able to fend off further downside through 110.00 even though Japanese participants have returned to the fray after the Autumn Equinox holiday and reports suggest some COVID-19 restrictions may be lifted in 13 prefectures on a trial basis. SCANDI/EM/PM/CRYPTO - A slight change in the pecking order in Scandi-land as the Nok loses some post-Norges Bank hike impetus and the Sek unwinds a bit of its underperformance, but EM currencies are bearing the brunt of the aforementioned downturn in risk sentiment and firmer Usd, with the Zar hit harder than other as Gold is clings to Usd 1750/oz and Try down to deeper post-CBRT rate cut lows after mixed manufacturing sentiment and cap u readings. Meanwhile, Bitcoin is being shackled by the latest Chinese crackdown on mining and efforts to limit risks from what it describes as unlawful speculative crypto currency trading. In commodities, WTI and Brent are set the conclude the week in the green with gains in excess of 2% for WTI at the time of writing; in-spite of the pressure seen in the complex on Monday and the first-half of Tuesday, where a sub USD 69.50/bbl low was printed. Fresh newsflow has, once again, been limited for the complex and continues to focus on the gas situation. More broadly, no update as of yet on the Evergrande interest payment and by all accounts we appear to have entered the 30-day grace period for this and, assuming catalysts remain slim, updates on this will may well dictate the state-of-play. Schedule wise, the session ahead eyes significant amounts of central bank commentary but from a crude perspective the weekly Baker Hughes rig count will draw attention. On the weather front, Storm Sam has been upgraded to a Hurricane and is expected to rapidly intensify but currently remains someway into the mid-Atlantic. Moving to metals, LME copper is pivoting the unchanged mark after a mixed APAC lead while attention is on Glencore’s CSA copper mine, which it has received an offer for; the site in 2020 produced circa. 46k/T of copper which is typically exported to Asia smelters. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver are firmer but have been very contained and remain well-within overnight ranges thus far. Which sees the yellow metal holding just above the USD 1750/oz mark after a brief foray below the level after the US-close. US Event Calendar 10am: Aug. New Home Sales MoM, est. 1.0%, prior 1.0% 10am: Aug. New Home Sales, est. 715,000, prior 708,000 Central Bank Speakers 8:45am: Fed’s Mester Discusses the Economic Outlook 10am: Powell, Clarida and Bowman Host Fed Listens Event 10:05am: Fed’s George Discusses Economic Outlook 12pm: Fed’s Bostic Discusses Equitable Community Development DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap WFH today is a bonus as it’s time for the annual ritual at home where the latest, sleekest, shiniest iPhone model arrives in the post and i sheepishly try to justify to my wife when I get home why I need an incremental upgrade. This year to save me from the Spanish Inquisition I’m going to intercept the courier and keep quiet. Problem is that such speed at intercepting the delivery will be logistically challenging as I remain on crutches (5 weeks to go) and can’t grip properly with my left hand due to an ongoing trapped nerve. I’m very glad I’m not a racehorse. Although hopefully I can be put out to pasture in front of the Ryder Cup this weekend. The big news of the last 24 hours has been a galloping global yield rise worthy of the finest thoroughbred. A hawkish Fed meeting, with the dots increasing and the end of QE potentially accelerated, didn’t quite have the ability to move markets but the global dam finally broke yesterday with Norway being the highest profile developed country to raise rates this cycle (expected), but more importantly a Bank of England meeting that saw the market reappraise rate hikes. Looking at the specific moves, yields on 10yr Treasuries were up +13.0bps to 1.430% in their biggest daily increase since 25 February, as both higher real rates (+7.9bps) and inflation breakevens (+4.9bps) drove the advance. US 10yr yields had been trading in a c.10bp range for the last month before breaking out higher, though they have been trending higher since dropping as far as 1.17% back in early-August. US 30yr yields rose +13.2bps, which was the biggest one day move in long dated yields since March 17 2020, which was at the onset of the pandemic and just days after the Fed announced it would be starting the current round of QE. The large selloff in US bonds saw the yield curve steepen and the long-end give back roughly half of the FOMC flattening from the day before. The 5y30y curve steepened 3.4bps for a two day move of -3.3bps. However the 2y10y curve steepened +10.5bps, completely reversing the prior day’s flattening (-4.2bps) and leaving the spread at 116bp, the steepest level since first week of July. 10yr gilt yields saw nearly as strong a move (+10.8bps) with those on shorter-dated 2yr gilts (+10.7bps) hitting their highest level (0.386%) since the pandemic began.That came on the back of the BoE’s latest policy decision, which pointed in a hawkish direction, building on the comment in the August statement that “some modest tightening of monetary policy over the forecast period is likely to be necessary” by saying that “some developments during the intervening period appear to have strengthened that case”. The statement pointed out that the rise in gas prices since August represented an upside risks to their inflation projections from next April, and the MPC’s vote also saw 2 members (up from 1 in August) vote to dial back QE. See DB’s Sanjay Raja’s revised rate hike forecasts here. We now expect a 15bps hike in February. The generalised move saw yields in other European countries rise as well, with those on 10yr bunds (+6.6bps), OATs (+6.5bps) and BTPs (+5.7bps) all seeing big moves higher with 10yr bunds seeing their biggest climb since late-February and back to early-July levels as -0.258%. The yield rise didn’t stop equity indices recovering further from Monday’s rout, with the S&P 500 up +1.21% as the index marked its best performance in over 2 months, and its best 2-day performance since May. Despite the mood at the end of the weekend, the S&P now starts Friday in positive territory for the week. The rally yesterday was led by cyclicals for a second straight day with higher commodity prices driving outsized gains for energy (+3.41%) and materials (+1.39%) stocks, and the aforementioned higher yields causing banks (+3.37%) and diversified financials (+2.35%) to outperform. The reopening trade was the other main beneficiary as airlines rose +2.99% and consumer services, which include hotel and cruiseline companies, gained +1.92%. In Europe, the STOXX 600 (+0.93%) witnessed a similarly strong performance, with index led by banks (+2.16%). As a testament to the breadth of yesterday’s rally, the travel and leisure sector (+0.04%) was the worst performing sector on this side of the Atlantic even while registering a small gain and lagging its US counterparts. Before we get onto some of yesterday’s other events, it’s worth noting that this is actually the last EMR before the German election on Sunday, which has long been signposted as one of the more interesting macro events on the 2021 calendar, the results of which will play a key role in not just domestic, but also EU policy. And with Chancellor Merkel stepping down after four terms in office, this means that the country will soon be under new management irrespective of who forms a government afterwards. It’s been a volatile campaign in many respects, with Chancellor Merkel’s CDU/CSU, the Greens and the centre-left SPD all having been in the lead at various points over the last six months. But for the last month Politico’s Poll of Polls has shown the SPD consistently ahead, with their tracker currently putting them on 25%, ahead of the CDU/CSU on 22% and the Greens on 16%. However the latest poll from Forschungsgruppe Wahlen yesterday suggested a tighter race with the SPD at 25, the CDU/CSU at 23% and the Greens at 16.5%. If the actual results are in line with the recent averages, it would certainly mark a sea change in German politics, as it would be the first time that the SPD have won the popular vote since the 2002 election. Furthermore, it would be the CDU/CSU’s worst ever result, and mark the first time in post-war Germany that the two main parties have failed to win a majority of the vote between them, which mirrors the erosion of the traditional big parties in the rest of continental Europe. For the Greens, 15% would be their best ever score, and exceed the 9% they got back in 2017 that left them in 6th place, but it would also be a disappointment relative to their high hopes back in the spring, when they were briefly polling in the mid-20s after Annalena Baerbock was selected as their Chancellor candidate. In terms of when to expect results, the polls close at 17:00 London time, with initial exit polls released immediately afterwards. However, unlike the UK, where a new majority government can immediately come to power the day after the election, the use of proportional representation in Germany means that it could potentially be weeks or months before a new government is formed. Indeed, after the last election in September 2017, it wasn’t until March 2018 that the new grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and the SPD took office, after attempts to reach a “Jamaica” coalition between the CDU/CSU, the FDP and the Greens was unsuccessful. In the meantime, the existing government will act as a caretaker administration. On the policy implications, it will of course depend on what sort of government is actually formed, but our research colleagues in Frankfurt have produced a comprehensive slidepack (link here) running through what the different parties want across a range of policies, and what the likely coalitions would mean for Germany. They also put out another note yesterday (link here) where they point out that there’s still much to play for, with the SPD’s lead inside the margin of error and with an unusually high share of yet undecided voters. Moving on to Asia and markets are mostly higher with the Nikkei (+2.04%), CSI (+0.53%) and India’s Nifty (+0.52%) up while the Hang Seng (-0.03%), Shanghai Comp (-0.07%) and Kospi (-0.10%) have all made small moves lower. Meanwhile, the Evergrande group missed its dollar bond coupon payment yesterday and so far there has been no communication from the group on this. They have a 30-day grace period to make the payment before any event of default can be declared. This follows instructions from China’s Financial regulators yesterday in which they urged the group to take all measures possible to avoid a near-term default on dollar bonds while focusing on completing unfinished properties and repaying individual investors. Yields on Australia and New Zealand’s 10y sovereign bonds are up +14.5bps and +11.3bps respectively this morning after yesterday’s move from their western counterparts. Yields on 10y USTs are also up a further +1.1bps to 1.443%. Elsewhere, futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.04% while those on the Stoxx 50 are down -0.10%. In terms of overnight data, Japan’s August CPI printed at -0.4% yoy (vs. -0.3% yoy expected) while core was unchanged in line with expectations. We also received Japan’s flash PMIs with the services reading at 47.4 (vs. 42.9 last month) while the manufacturing reading came in at 51.2 (vs. 52.7 last month). In pandemic related news, Jiji reported that Japan is planning to conduct trials of easing Covid restrictions, with 13 prefectures indicating they’d like to participate. This is likely contributing to the outperformance of the Nikkei this morning. Back to yesterday now, and one of the main highlights came from the flash PMIs, which showed a continued deceleration in growth momentum across Europe and the US, and also underwhelmed relative to expectations. Running through the headline numbers, the Euro Area composite PMI fell to 56.1 (vs. 58.5 expected), which is the lowest figure since April, as both the manufacturing (58.7 vs 60.3 expected) and services (56.3 vs. 58.5 expected) came in beneath expectations. Over in the US, the composite PMI fell to 54.5 in its 4th consecutive decline, as the index hit its lowest level in a year, while the UK’s composite PMI at 54.1 (vs. 54.6 expected) was the lowest since February when the country was still in a nationwide lockdown. Risk assets seemed unperturbed by the readings, and commodities actually took another leg higher as they rebounded from their losses at the start of the week. The Bloomberg Commodity Spot index rose +1.12% as Brent crude oil (+1.39%) closed at $77.25/bbl, which marked its highest closing level since late 2018, while WTI (+1.07%) rose to $73.30/bbl, so still a bit beneath its recent peak in July. However that is a decent rebound of roughly $11/bbl since its recent low just over a month ago. Elsewhere, gold (-1.44%) took a knock amidst the sharp move higher in yields, while European natural gas prices subsidised for a third day running, with futures now down -8.5% from their intraday peak on Tuesday, although they’re still up by +71.3% since the start of August. US negotiations regarding the upcoming funding bill and raising the debt ceiling are ongoing, with House Speaker Pelosi saying that the former, also called a continuing resolution, will pass “both houses by September 30,” and fund the government through the first part of the fiscal year, starting October 1. Treasury Secretary Yellen has said the US will likely breach the debt ceiling sometime in the next month if Congress does not increase the level, and because Republicans are unwilling to vote to raise the ceiling, Democrats will have to use the once-a-fiscal-year tool of budget reconciliation to do so. However Democrats, are also using that process for the $3.5 trillion dollar economic plan that makes up the bulk of the Biden agenda, and have not been able to get full party support yet. During a joint press conference with Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Schumer said that Democrats have a “framework” to pay for the Biden Economic agenda, which would imply that the broad outline of a deal was reached between the House, Senate and the White House. However, no specifics were mentioned yesterday. With Democrats looking to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill early next week, negotiations today and this weekend on the potential reconciliation package will be vital. Looking at yesterday’s other data, the weekly initial jobless claims from the US for the week through September 18 unexpectedly rose to 351k (vs. 320k expected), which is the second week running they’ve come in above expectations. Separately, the Chicago Fed’s national activity index fell to 0.29 in August (vs. 0.50 expected), and the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing activity index also fell more than expected to 22 in September (vs. 25 expected). To the day ahead now, and data highlights include the Ifo’s business climate indicator from Germany for September, along with Italian consumer confidence for September and US new home sales for August. From central banks, we’ll hear from Fed Chair Powell, Vice Chair Clarida and the Fed’s Mester, Bowman, George and Bostic, as well as the ECB’s Lane and Elderson, and the BoE’s Tenreyro. Finally, a summit of the Quad Leaders will be held at the White House, including President Biden, and the Prime Ministers of Australia, India and Japan. Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 08:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

Biden Security Adviser Jake Sullivan Tied To Alleged 2016 Clinton Scheme To Co-Opt CIA/FBI To Tar Trump

Biden Security Adviser Jake Sullivan Tied To Alleged 2016 Clinton Scheme To Co-Opt CIA/FBI To Tar Trump Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClearInvestigations.com, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan figures prominently in a grand jury investigation run by Special Counsel John Durham into an alleged 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign scheme to use both the FBI and CIA to tar Donald Trump as a colluder with Russia, according to people familiar with the criminal probe, which they say has broadened into a conspiracy case. Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as Clinton campaign adviser for the 2016 election. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File Sullivan is facing scrutiny, sources say, over potentially false statements he made about his involvement in the effort, which continued after the election and into 2017. As a senior foreign policy adviser to Clinton, Sullivan spearheaded what was known inside her campaign as a “confidential project” to link Trump to the Kremlin through dubious email-server records provided to the agencies, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Last week, Michael A. Sussmann, a partner in Perkins Coie, a law firm representing the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of making false statements to the FBI about his clients and their motives behind planting the rumor, at the highest levels of the FBI, of a secret Trump-Russia server. After a months-long investigation, the FBI found no merit to the rumor. The grand jury indicated in its lengthy indictment that several people were involved in the alleged conspiracy to mislead the FBI and trigger an investigation of the Republican presidential candidate -- including Sullivan, who was described by his campaign position but not identified by name. The Clinton campaign project, these sources say, also involved compiling a "digital dossier” on several Trump campaign officials – including Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Carter Page. This effort exploited highly sensitive, nonpublic Internet data related to their personal email communications and web-browsing, known as Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses. Alleged targets: Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page. YouTube/CNN/FNC/RCP To mine the data, the Clinton campaign enlisted a team of Beltway computer contractors as well as university researchers with security clearance who often collaborate with the FBI and the intelligence community. They worked from a five-page campaign document called the "Trump Associates List." The tech group also pulled logs purportedly from servers for a Russian bank and Trump Tower, and the campaign provided the data to the FBI on two thumb drives, along with three “white papers” that claimed the data indicated the Trump campaign was secretly communicating with Moscow through a server in Trump Tower and the Alfa Bank in Russia. Based on the material, the FBI opened at least one investigation, adding to several others it had already initiated targeting the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016. Michael Sussmann: Indicted former Clinton campaign lawyer allegedly coordinated with Jake Sullivan on dubious materials provided to the FBI and media. perkinscoie.com The indictment states that Sussmann, as well as the cyber experts recruited for the operation, "coordinated with representatives and agents of the Clinton campaign with regard to the data and written materials that Sussmann gave to the FBI and the media." One of those campaign agents was Sullivan, according to emails Durham obtained. On Sept. 15, 2016 – just four days before Sussmann handed off the materials to the FBI – Marc Elias, his law partner and fellow Democratic Party operative, "exchanged emails with the Clinton campaign’s foreign policy adviser concerning the Russian bank allegations," as well as with other top campaign officials, the indictment states. The sources close to the case confirmed the "foreign policy adviser" referenced by title is Sullivan. They say he was briefed on the development of the opposition-research materials tying Trump to Alfa Bank, and was aware of the participants in the project. These included the Washington opposition-research group Fusion GPS, which worked for the Clinton campaign as a paid agent and helped gather dirt on Alfa Bank and draft the materials Elias discussed with Sullivan, the materials Sussmann would later submit to the FBI. Fusion researchers were in regular contact with both Sussmann and Elias about the project in the summer and fall of 2016. Sullivan also personally met with Elias, who briefed him on Fusion's opposition research, according to the sources. Sullivan maintained in congressional testimony in December 2017 that he didn’t know of Fusion’s involvement in the Alfa Bank opposition research. In the same closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, he also denied knowing anything about Fusion in 2016 or who was conducting the opposition research for the campaign. "Marc [Elias] ... would occasionally give us updates on the opposition research they were conducting, but I didn't know what the nature of that effort was – inside effort, outside effort, who was funding it, who was doing it, anything like that," Sullivan stated under oath. Jake Sullivan's December 2017 House testimony may put him in perjury jeopardy.  House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Sullivan also testified he didn’t know that Perkins Coie, the law firm where Elias and Sussmann were partners, was working for the Clinton campaign until October 2017, when it was reported in the media as part of stories revealing the campaign's contract with Fusion, which also produced the so-called Steele dossier. Sullivan maintained he didn’t even know that the politically prominent Elias worked for Perkins Coie, a well-known Democratic law firm. Major media stories from 2016 routinely identified Elias as "general counsel for the Clinton campaign" and a "partner at Perkins Coie." "To be honest with you, Marc wears a tremendous number of hats, so I wasn’t sure who he was representing," Sullivan testified. "I sort of thought he was, you know, just talking to us as, you know, a fellow traveler in this — in this campaign effort." Although he acknowledged knowing Elias and his partner were marshaling opposition researchers for a campaign project targeting Trump, Sullivan insisted, "They didn’t do something with it." In truth, they used the research to instigate a full-blown investigation at the FBI and seed a number of stories in the Washington media, which Elias discussed in emails. Marc Elias: Prominent Democrat lawyer allegedly also coordinated with Sullivan. Sullivan would later plead ignorance under oath about Elias's role. Perkins Coie Lying to Congress is a felony. Though the offense is rarely prosecuted, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller won convictions of two of Trump’s associates on charges of that very offense. An attorney for Sullivan did not respond to questions, while a spokeswoman for the National Security Council declined comment. After the 2016 election, Sullivan continued to participate in the anti-Trump effort, which enlisted no fewer than three Internet companies and two university computer researchers, who persisted in exploiting nonpublic Internet data to conjure up “derogatory information on Trump" and his associates, according to the indictment.Prosecutors say the operation ran through at least February 2017, when Sullivan met with another central figure in the plot to plant the anti-Trump smear at the FBI. But now the goal was to compel agents to continue investigating the false rumors in the wake of the election, thereby keeping Trump's presidency under an ethical cloud. Daniel Jones: One of the lead figures in helping resurrect the Trump-Russia collusion narrative after Trump's election, Jones coordinated with Sullivan in hatching the effort. McCain Institute/YouTube On Feb. 10, 2017, Sullivan huddled with two Fusion operatives and their partner Daniel Jones, a former FBI analyst and Democratic staffer on the Hill, to hatch the post-election plan to resurrect rumors Trump was a tool of the Kremlin. As RealClearInvestigations first reported, the meeting, which lasted about an hour and took place in a Washington office building, also included former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The group discussed raising money to finance a multimillion-dollar opposition research project headed by Jones to target the new president. In effect, Jones’ operation would replace the Clinton campaign’s operation, continuing the effort to undermine Trump. It’s not clear if Sussmann attended the Feb. 10 meeting, but he was apparently still involved in the operation, along with his crew of data miners. The day before the meeting attended by Sullivan, Sussmann paid a visit to the CIA’s Langley headquarters to peddle the disinformation about the secret server – this time to top officials there, according to the sources familiar with Durham's investigation. During a roughly 90-minute meeting, Sussmann provided two officials at the intelligence headquarters “updated” documents and data he'd provided the FBI before the election, RealClearInvestigations has learned exclusively. Then, on March 28, 2017, Jones met with the FBI to pass on supposedly fresh leads he and the cyber researchers had learned about the Alfa Bank server and Trump, and the FBI looked into the new leads after having closed its investigation a month earlier. That same month, FBI Director James Comey publicly announced the bureau was investigating possible “coordination" between Moscow and the newly sworn-in president's campaign. Despite the renewed push by Jones, the FBI debunked the tip of a nefarious Russian back channel. Agents learned the email server in question wasn’t even controlled by the Trump Organization. "It wasn’t true," Mueller confirmed in 2019 testimony. It turns out that the supposed “secret server" was housed in the small Pennsylvania town of Lititz, and not  Trump Tower in New York City, and it was operated by a marketing firm based in Florida called Cendyn that routinely blasts out emails promoting multiple hotel chains. Simply put, the third-party server sent spam to Alfa Bank employees who used Trump hotels. The bank had maintained a New York office since 2001. “The FBI’s investigation revealed that the email server at issue was not owned or operated by the Trump Organization but, rather, had been administrated by a mass-marketing email company that sent advertisements for Trump hotels and hundreds of other clients,” Durham wrote in his indictment. Nonetheless, Jones and Sullivan kept promoting the canard as true. Democrat Senators Mark Warner and Ron Wyden: Conduits for TDIP's Trump-Russia material. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik With help from Sullivan and Podesta in 2017, Jones launched a nonprofit group called The Democracy Integrity Project, which raised some $7 million mainly from Silicon Valley tech executives. TDIP hired computer researchers, as well as Fusion opposition researchers and Christopher Steele, the British author of the now-discredited Steele dossier, to “prove” the rumors in the dossier. As they sought new dirt on Trump, they fed their information to media outlets, leading Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee (namely Sens. Mark Warner and Ron Wyden), and the FBI. Jones previously worked on the Senate intelligence panel, which had launched a major investigation of Trump and Russia, and he provided a pipeline of information for the committee, according to the sources. As RCI first reported, Jones emailed a daily news bulletin known as "TDIP Research" to prominent Beltway journalists to keep the Trump-Russia “collusion” rumor-mill going, including the debunked rumor about the "secret server." Durham has subpoenaed Jones to testify before his grand jury hearing the case, along with computer experts and researchers recruited by Sussmann for the Clinton campaign project, persons close to the investigation said. Attempts to reach Jones for comment were unsuccessful. In a statement, Durham said his investigation "is ongoing." Special Counsel John Durham: Lengthy single count "speaking" indictment of Sussmann suggests a broader conspiracy case in the works. AP Indictments for a single-count process crime such as making a false statement normally run a page or two. But Durham’s filing charging Sussmann spans 27 pages and is packed with detail. FBI veterans say the 40-year prosecutor used the indictment to outline a broader conspiracy case he’s building that invokes several other federal statutes. "That is what we call a 'speaking indictment,' meaning it is far more detailed than is required for a simple indictment under [federal statute] 1001,” which outlaws making false statements and representations to federal investigators, former assistant FBI Director Chris Swecker said in an interview with RealClearInvestigations. "It is damning,” he added. “And I see it as a placeholder for additional indictments, such as government grant and contract fraud, computer intrusion, the Privacy Act and other laws against dissemination of personally identifiable information, and mail fraud and wire fraud – not to mention conspiracy to commit those offenses." Chris Swecker: The Sussmann indictment "is damning," and "I definitely see more to come," says the ex-top FBI investigator. Miller & Martin "I definitely see more [indictments] to come,” emphasized Swecker, who knows Durham personally and worked with him on prior investigations. The sources close to the case said former FBI general counsel James Baker, who accepted the sketchy materials from Sussmann and passed them on to agents for investigation, is cooperating with Durham’s investigation, along with former FBI counterintelligence chief Bill Priestap, who has provided prosecutors contemporaneous notes about what led the bureau to open an investigation into the allegations Trump used Alfa Bank as a conduit between his campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin to steal the election. According to the sources, Durham also has found evidence Sussmann misled the CIA, another front in the scandal being reported here for the first time. In December 2016, the sources say Sussmann phoned the general counsel at the agency and told her the same story about the supposed secret server – at the same time the CIA was compiling a national intelligence report that accused Putin of meddling in the election to help Trump win. Sussmann told Caroline Krass, then the agency’s top attorney, that he had information that may help her with a review President Obama had ordered of all intelligence related to the election and Russia, known as the Intelligence Community Assessment. The review ended up including an annex with several unfounded and since-debunked allegations against Trump developed by the Clinton campaign. It’s not clear if the two-page annex, which claimed the allegations were “consistent with the judgments in this assessment,” included the Alfa Bank canard. Before it was made public, several sections had been redacted. But after Sussmann conveyed the information to Krass, an Obama appointee, she told him she would consider it for the intelligence review of Russian interference, which tracks with Sussmann’s 2017 closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. (Krass’ name is blacked out in the declassified transcript, but sources familiar with Sussmann's testimony confirmed that he identified her as his CIA contact.) Caroline Krass: Michael Sussmann also gave  Trump-Russia material to this CIA lawyer. CIA/Wikipedia “We’re interested,” said Krass, who left the agency several months later. "We’re doing this review and I’ll speak to someone here.” It’s not known if Sussmann failed to inform the top CIA lawyer that he was working on behalf of the Clinton campaign, as he’s alleged to have done at the FBI. Attempts to reach Krass, who now serves as Biden’s top lawyer at the Pentagon, were unsuccessful. But in his return trip to the CIA after the election, Sussmann “stated falsely – as he previously had stated to the FBI general counsel – that he was ‘not representing a particular client,’ " according to the Durham indictment, which cites a contemporaneous memo drafted by two agency officials with whom Sussmann met that memorializes their meeting. (The document refers to the CIA by the pseudonym “Agency-2.” Sources confirm Agency-2 is the CIA.) Remarkably, the CIA did not ask for the source of Sussmann’s walk-in tip, including where he got several data files he gave the agency. The FBI exhibited a similar lack of curiosity when Sussmann told it about the false Trump/Alfa Bank connection. Attempts to reach Sussmann to get his side to the additional CIA allegations leveled by Durham were unsuccessful. The 57-year-old attorney pleaded not guilty to a single felony count and was released on a $100,000 bond Friday. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.The prominent Washington lawyer quietly resigned from Perkins Coie, which has scrubbed all references to him from its website. And late last month, as rumors of the indictment swirled, the powerhouse law firm divested its entire Political Law Group formerly headed by Marc Elias – who commissioned the Steele dossier. Elias, who worked closely with Sussmann on the Trump-Alfa Bank project, also is no longer employed by the firm. Jake Sullivan’s Golf Cart Rounds In late July 2016, during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the CIA picked up Russian chatter about a Clinton foreign policy adviser who was trying to develop allegations to “vilify" Trump. The intercepts said Clinton herself had approved a “plan" to “stir up a scandal” against Trump by tying him to Putin. According to hand-written notes, then-CIA chief John Brennan warned President Obama that Moscow had intercepted information about the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump.” That summer, Brennan had personally briefed Democrats, including then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on the Alfa Bank-Trump server rumors, according to congressional reports. Reid fired off a letter to Comey demanding that the FBI do more to investigate Trump's ties to Russia. During that convention, Sullivan drove a golf cart from one TV-network news tent in the parking lot to another, pitching producers and anchors a story that Trump was conspiring with Putin to steal the election. CNN, ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News, as well as Chris Wallace of Fox News, all gave him airtime to spin the Clinton campaign’s unfounded theories. Sullivan also gave off-camera background briefings to reporters. "We were on a mission," Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri later admitted in a Washington Post column. “We wanted to raise the alarm." Then, on the eve of the election, Sullivan claimed in a written campaign statement that Trump and the Russians had set up a “secret hotline” through Alfa Bank, and he suggested “federal authorities” were investigating “this direct connection between Trump and Russia.” He portrayed the shocking discovery as the work of independent experts — “computer scientists” — without disclosing their attachment to the campaign. “This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow,” Sullivan claimed. Clinton teed up his statement in an Oct. 31, 2016, tweet, which quickly went viral. Also that day, Clinton tweeted, “It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia,” while attaching a meme that read: “Donald Trump has a secret server. It was set up to communicate privately with a Putin-tied Russian bank called Alfa Bank.” The Clinton campaign played up the bogus Trump-Alfa Bank story on the eve of the 2016 election. Twitter/@HillaryClinton It’s not immediately apparent if then-Vice President Joe Biden was briefed about the Alfa Bank tale or other Trump-Russia rumors and investigations. Biden has never been questioned about his own role in the investigation of Trump. However, it was the former vice president who introduced the idea of prosecuting Trump’s national security adviser appointee, Gen. Flynn, under the Logan Act of 1799, a dead-letter statute that prohibits private citizens from interfering in U.S. foreign policy and which hasn’t been used to prosecute anyone in modern times. According to notes taken by then-FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, who attended a Jan. 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting with Obama and Biden, in which Trump, Flynn and Russia were discussed, Biden raised the idea: “VP: Logan Act,” the notes read. Although he’s not an attorney, Sullivan has argued in congressional testimony and elsewhere that Flynn violated the Logan Act, raising suspicions he may have put the idea in Biden’s head. Sullivan had advised the vice president before joining the Clinton campaign. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 22:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 23rd, 2021

Unbiased, Mobility-Enabling, Open, Global Network: How Crypto Enables Economic Freedom

Unbiased, Mobility-Enabling, Open, Global Network: How Crypto Enables Economic Freedom Authored by Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, The following is an internal memo that I shared with Coinbase employees this week and would also like to share publicly to help people see how we’re working toward our mission of increasing economic freedom in the world. Tl;dr: Our core thesis is that greater adoption and usage of cryptocurrency will increase economic freedom in the world, because crypto solves many of the shortcomings of the current financial system that hinder economic freedom. Team, Every quarter at our company All Hands, we review our Mission (what we’re trying to achieve) and our Strategy (how we’re going to get there). One question I often hear from employees is: “How does cryptocurrency create more economic freedom in the world?” This is a great question, so I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you. First, a refresher: Economic freedom is a composite measure of 12 factors. It quantifies the rights of people to control their own labor and property in each country and globally. Economic freedom varies dramatically across the world, and while our economy is increasingly global, the government of any single country has significant control over the financial and economic freedoms of its people. Low economic freedom in a given country isn’t always due to malicious activity (e.g, fraud, oppression, etc) — it’s often due to mismanagement (poor monetary and fiscal policy) or simply bad infrastructure. Crypto and economic freedom The question to ask is: How can we build a global economy where anyone with an internet connection can participate, where property rights are enforced, and where money preserves its value? Crypto is the solution. Crypto can’t directly improve every facet of economic freedom (e.g., tax policies and government spending), but it can improve most of the underlying drivers (see below). Read more about each of the factors here. Why is crypto so uniquely positioned to increase economic freedom? Because it has these inherent properties: Crypto is an open, global network Crypto networks are open, removing the barriers of borders. It allows every person in the world to transact on shared networks, in the same way they communicate on a shared network (the internet). More importantly these networks themselves are not controlled by governments that can use their monetary systems to hinder economic freedom (and prosperity). This design principle leads to more open markets and increases trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, and monetary freedom. Crypto enforces property rights Property rights allow people to save their income, grow their wealth, and plan for the long term because they know the fruits of their labor are safe from unfair seizure or theft. Before crypto, your confidence in property rights was a function of the trust you had in your government and its respect for the rule of law. With crypto, anyone can acquire and grow their wealth without intervention from trusted 3rd parties like a government or a bank, or fear that their wealth could easily be seized. Property rights are also about the ability to enter contractual agreements. In some areas around the world, a contract has little value, because you can’t be confident in its enforcement. Smart contracts move enforcement from the courts to the blockchain, enabling gains from specialization and commercial exchange. Crypto is unbiased Crypto networks are often pseudonymous (or even anonymous). They don’t care where you live, what your race or gender is, or who you voted for in the last election. Unlike the current financial system they are inherently open and unbiased. Anyone with an internet connection can create a wallet, get paid in crypto, spend in crypto and accrue wealth in crypto. Service providers like Coinbase do have compliance programs as required by law, but we don’t control access to all crypto and we don’t own the network. Anyone can access crypto networks through other providers if we make a bad decision, or are forced into bad regulation. In addition, self custody wallets like Coinbase Wallet provide an ever greater degree of freedom when it comes to financial inclusion. Crypto enables mobility As I mentioned above, there are important components of economic freedom that cryptocurrency can’t directly benefit (e.g., government integrity, tax policies, fiscal health, etc.). However, cryptocurrency does provide the conditions for mobility by reducing switching costs, allowing people to both accrue wealth and bring it across borders. Cryptocurrency is the ultimate embodiment of the power of the individual, by significantly reducing the barriers to emigration / exit, and thus increasing economic freedom. Conclusion As you can see, cryptocurrency can impact many of the factors that lead to more economic freedom. It can both help build better-functioning economies in countries with less economic freedom, and make it easier to emigrate to a better life. This is why our core thesis as a company is that greater adoption and usage of cryptocurrency will increase economic freedom in the world. Technology is the longest lever we can pull to improve the human condition. At its core, cryptocurrency is a technology breakthrough that allows us to build a more free and open financial system that enables the rights of people to control their own labor and property. It is the best tool that exists to advance our mission of increasing economic freedom in the world. What does this mean for Coinbase? Crypto is in many ways still nascent. It’s still hard to use, crypto networks are plagued with scaling challenges, and the economy built on top of crypto infrastructure is in its early days. Our strategy and roadmap is geared towards solving these challenges: We’re focused on building easy-to-use products that abstract away the complexity of blockchains, and we’re building the primitives of a functioning financial system. We still have a long way to go, but the future is bright. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/23/2021 - 20:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 23rd, 2021