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Rickards: “There Are Three Things Going On With Gold Right Now”

September 2, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Craig Wilson via Daily Reckoning blog,

Jim Rickards joined Kitco News and Daniela Cambone to discuss the latest news and analysis from gold markets, geopolitics and even bitcoin.  The Wall Street veteran took on the bigger picture facing metals investors and what could be just around the corner in a bubbling market.

Jim Rickards is the editor of Strategic Intelligence and is the New York Times best-selling author of The Road to Ruin. Rickards’ worked on Wall Street for decades and has advised the U.S intelligence community on international finance, trade and financial warfare.

When asked why certain geopolitical tensions have greater impacts on gold and hard assets than others Rickards remarked, “There are two things going on,

“… first is that the North Korean missile threat goes from high tension to back down again. This is a very serious threat and we are headed for war with North Korea. While I don’t know what it will take to not just get gold to go up but stocks and other sectors, ultimately markets are going to be impacted.”

 

People seem to have very short attention spans but that’s not how to think about it. It’s possible to see that Kim Jong-un is not deviating from his path to get nuclear weapons, the U.S will not allow it. There’s no middle ground there. It would be great if we could have diplomacy. I think we should also ratchet up sanctions on China. But I don’t see either of those happening.”

 

Don’t underestimate the extent to which gold is being impacted by hedge funds, leverage players, and others that are in the mix for the current high in gold. They don’t really care if it is gold, soybeans, etc. but it is simply another commodity. They receive a nice profit with tight profits, tight stops.”

 

“The bigger picture to look as here is that gold hit an interim low last December and has been grinding higher ever since.  Now gold is up over $200 an ounce and is one of the best performing assets in 2017. There’s a pattern of higher highs and shows a very positive occurrence.”

Gold and Weak Dollar Environment

The interviewer then shot back at Rickards asking whether the price and actions in the market always come back to the U.S dollar? The best-selling author and economist responded, “This all relates to currency wars. I think of gold by weight.”

When most people look at the cost of gold they relate it to the dollar. That gives the dollar a privilege to say that it is the way to count everything. It is also possible to count gold in euro, yen or even bitcoin. I think of gold as money. These are all just cross rates. When I see a higher dollar price for gold, I think of the dollar as being weaker. Likewise, if I see a lower price for gold it just shows that gold is constant and the dollar got stronger.”

 

There are three things going on right now in gold. There’s a fear trade, there’s technicals with supply shortages and ultimately a weaker dollar. If you want to know where the dollar price for gold is going, ask yourself where the dollar is headed. As the dollar gets weaker due to Federal Reserve Chair Yellen’s plan to tighten rates into weakness. We’re getting disinflation, not inflation and the desire from the Fed is a weaker dollar.”

When The Street’s Daniela Cambone prompted Rickards on the rally in gold and whether it would be rejuvenated he leveled,

I expect to see gold hit $5,000 and eventually to $10,000 an ounce. Maybe not tomorrow or a couple of years but that is the fundamental price of gold as money.

 

“In a recent conversation with legendary commodity investor Jim Rogers he indicated to me was, ‘nothing goes to that level without a 50% retracing before it resumes its path upwards.’ Moves happen very fast. The question is, what are the catalysts that could take it higher?”

Is Bitcoin Stealing Gold’s Thunder?

Speaking on catalysts and what could shake the gold market the interviewer then asked whether Bitcoin could have a significant impact. Rickards pushed back,

“Bitcoin is a very small market cap compared to gold. I don’t think it has much impact on gold and looks like a bubble right now.”

 

“As someone who has been around Wall Street a long time I’ve seen a lot of different tricks of the trade and frauds that come and go. I am seeing all of the various schemes in bitcoin right now. There’s good forensic evidence that there are people doing wash sales right now and the suckers don’t know they are getting sucked in. Gold is still the ultimate safe haven.

German Gold and ‘Weird’ Commodity Movements

Recently, Germany moved to reacquire its gold being held within the Federal Reserve system. Rickards latest analysis on the situation detailed that,

“In 2013 the central bank in Germany said it wanted its gold back from the UK, France and the US. Here’s the thing, Germany does not want all of its gold back.”

 

“As it is going through its election cycle, there are specific factions of the German government that are pushing to get German gold back to domestically being held. The German elections are in mid-September, it is not a coincidence that this happened just before that. It was to appease political dynamics as well as leasing development of gold.

Looking internally, the recent visit by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to the US Mint in Fort Knox stirred many commodity investor analysts. Rickards offered,

“I was shocked to see the visit. It is rare and only the third time that a Treasury Secretary has visited since the 1930’s.”

 

“The other thing that is strange about the visit is that the monetary elites don’t want to pay any attention to gold. Several years ago Fed Chair Bernanke was asked about gold and he replied that it is given attention because of tradition. The reason that this official visit matters now is that when gold is being given public attention by government leadership, it enhances the value of gold as a monetary asset. They don’t want the general public to pay attention to gold. The question is, why did he do it and tweet out the visit?”

Finally, speaking on the mounting complexity of issues facing the American government Rickards warned that gold could be well positioned for the remainder of Fall. Rickards sets up,

We’re coming up against a debt ceiling and budget train wreck. The US budget is at D-Day at the end of September. Separately, the Treasury is literally running out of cash. The government will have to raise the debt ceiling for the Treasury and it will need to, at the very least, pass a continuing resolution.”

 

The Treasury has a trick up its sleeve. In 1973, the gold on the books of the Treasury is officially valued at $42.22 per ounce. It would be possible to go mark it to the market just like a hedge fund does. The Treasury could raise the value to a raised price and that difference between $42.22 and the heightened amount would only require a certificate to the Fed for money.”

 

“That is all under the Gold Act of 1934. The move could open up hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air just by remarking gold. While I am not saying this is going to happen, it is an option that they have available.”

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Venezuela Headed For “Messiest Debt-Restructuring In History” Thanks To US Sanctions

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After being effectively shut out from global financial markets – a situation that was made more precarious by US sanctions prohibiting purchases of Venezuelan debt (unless you’re buying them off Goldman Sachs, should the bank’s asset-management arm desire to liquidate its $3 billion “hunger bond” position) – Venezuela is drawing ever-nearer to what the Financial Times describes as potentially the “messiest debt restructuring in history.”

So far, Venezuela has managed to forestall a default by stripping assets from its state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, commonly referred to as PVDSA, and shaking down local institutions of spare dollars – not to mention the explicit financial support of China and Russia. Recently, Rosneft, the largest Russian oil company, helped support its troubled ally, which enjoys the largest crude reserves in the world, by offering billions of dollars in advance payments for future crude supplies. Thanks to a deal brokered by deceased former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has for years been Rosneft’s largest foreign supplier of crude. Last year, the oil giant accepted a 49.9% stake in PVDSA’s US-based subsidiary, Citgo, as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

However, thanks to the US sanctions, which prohibit purchases of newly issued debt and existing bonds that have so far not been sold outside of Caracas, the country will once again need to innovate or risk sliding into bankruptcy. Making matters all the more urgent, the country recently suffered a loss in US courts after a judge ruled that Canadian miner Crystallex can seize Venezuelan money held in a custody account at Bank of New York Mellon to cover a $1.4 billion judgment awarded by a World Bank tribunal.

Crystallex’s victory could further embolden the country’s creditors, who collectively may be owed as much as $3.7 billion.

“Venezuela has been taken to the World Bank’s ICSID tribunal 43 times. Only Argentina has been subjected to more claims. Of these 24 are still pending, including claims from Anglo American, ConocoPhillips, Air Canada and Vestey. The Eurasia Group estimates that Venezuela owes a total of $3.7bn as a result of ICSID rulings, and Crystallex’s progress is likely to embolden other creditors.”

Adding to the country’s troubles, a major US clearing house has said it will stop settling some Venezuelan bonds, and Cantor Fitzgerald has stopped trading them altogether.

After months of rhetoric, the US – which for years maintained an uneasy business relationship with Venezuela, formerly South America’s wealthiest economy – has severed the country’s last tenuous ties to the global financial system…

“The message is that the US doesn’t want its financial system enabling the Venezuelan government in any way,” says Charles Blitzer, of Blitzer Consulting, who is a former International Monetary Fund official.  

…And with the Crystallex ruling compounding the country’s troubles, its government is being set up for a “slow burn” leading ultimately to financial insolvency as creditors root out and seize whatever foreign assets they can find.

“Crystallex is the camel’s toe under the tent,” says Mark Weidemaier, a law professor at the University of North Carolina. “It will be a slow burn, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see people use the courts to ferret out where Venezuela’s assets are . . . and break down the barriers between the government, PDVSA and other entities.”

Typically, in a sovereign bankruptcy, creditors negotiate some kind of debt relief and trade their old, defaulted bonds for less valuable new ones. However, US sanctions may preclude this as an option for Venezuela, as the FT explains.

“…such a debt exchange would fall foul of the US sanctions regime, precluding any US banks from arranging one and any US bondholders from tendering their debts. In practice, it would mean indefinite financial purgatory for Venezuela until the US administration decides to lift the prohibition.

 

“If these sanctions stay in place, then Venezuela cannot restructure and it goes into limbo,” says Edward Al-Hussainy, a senior analyst at Columbia Threadneedle.”

Since Venezuela’s economic crisis began four years ago, imports have fallen precipitously, leading to dire shortages of essentials like medicine and foodstuffs as the country’s currency depreciated to the point of worthlessness. Unless the country can find some way to circumvent the sanctions, it will be forced to decide between countenancing further import declines, or a disorderly default.

According to Torino Capital, a Latin American-focused investment bank, Venezuela could choose the latter.

“Torino Capital…argued that this might counter-intuitively make a restructuring less likely. ‘It is possible that, faced with this choice, Venezuelan authorities end up deciding that the negative effects of a disorderly default on PDVSA’s capacity to generate export revenue are worse than the contractionary effects of further import cuts,’ the bank wrote in a note to clients.”

To be sure, a default could still be years away. And investors, for one, aren’t worried. The country’s debt has been largely unperturbed by the recent developments: PDVSA bonds have largely traded sideways, despite the recent developments.

“In the near term the impact will probably be minimal. Given Venezuela’s messy finances, the country is in practice already shut out of the international bond market. And while Crystallex won a legal skirmish, it is far from winning the war. It is unclear how much money Venezuela holds at BNYM and it may still be protected by sovereign immunity. Underscoring the investor view that little has changed, Venezuela and PDVA’s bonds have largely traded sideways.”

Still, a default, whenever it arrives, could signal the last gasp of the country’s embattled government. The country’s foreign reserves have already fallen below $10 billion (though they received a boost following the Goldman deal…).

“If they default, they will be out of government within three months,” says Federico Kaune, head of emerging market debt at UBS Asset Management. “The calculation is that they’re either in government, in exile or jail.”

With the fate of the Maduro regime hanging in the balance, we imagine Washington will do everything in its power to force Venezuela into bankruptcy, allowing the US to claim victory over yet another foreign adversary.
 

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Arkema Texas Plant Explodes Causing “Massive” Fire, “Black Smoke Fills The Air”

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

You can’t say they didn’t warn us: this afternoon, the VP of US manufacturing Daryl Roberts at French chemicals giant Arkema, said the company was on “high alert” as more fires could start at the doomed facility at any moment. Well, that moment took place around 6pm ET, when ABC Houston reported that the doomed Arkema plant has exploded, causing a “massive” fire and “sending dark, black smoke into the air.”

Wow. Chemical plant catches fire in Crosby, Texas. Take a look. #ABC13 #hounews pic.twitter.com/ZXT1MVKVHo

— Steve Campion (@SteveABC13) September 1, 2017

According to reports on the ground, light winds are not pushing into areas around the plant, but there is concern the smoke could injure others.

The smoke could be seen in the residential Newport area of Crosby, about 7 miles away. Harris County officials are advising residents who did not evacuate the 1.5-mile area around the plant to close their windows and turn off their air conditioning systems.

“You could call this a warning sign that more explosions or fires could
be coming soon,” Jeff Carr, a spokesman for Arkema, told the Houston
Chronicle.

Hazardous materials crews are headed to the scene.

Harris County Hazmat trucks have arrived and are moving into the evacuation zone. pic.twitter.com/fAYsnEBBCe

— Jacob Rascon (@Jacobnbc) September 1, 2017

Rachel Moreno at the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office said that the explosion was a result of the product inside the trailers reaching its combustion state, which is causing the black smoke. She said that residents should be safe if they adhere to the one-and-a-half mile evacuation zone, and advised those who are near the site to shelter in place, close all their windows and turn off their air conditioning.

Moreno said no change was made to the evacuation zone.

This is the second of nine trailers at the plant that has caught fire. The trailers each contain liquid organic peroxides, which needs to be cooled to a certain temperature, otherwise it will explode. Officials said that three of the nine trailers have lost power, according to KPRC.

At least 18 people have been injured since the first fire earlier in the week. One of the injured complained of a burning sensation in the eyes and throat and was still feeling the effects, days later.

As reported this afternoon, the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office has ordered residents within a one-and-a-half mile radius to evacuate the area. In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Arkema President and CEO Rich Rowe said he fully expects the remaining trailers to catch fire, adding the best course of action would be to let the trailers “burn out.”

“The only recourse is to let the eight containers burn out,” Rowe said, according to ABC News. “It’s 500,000 pounds of material; let that material burn out.”

As reported previously, plant officials said they expected the explosion and fire as chemicals began to heat up after the plant lost power during this week’s flood. There are nine containers with 500,000 pounds of material inside. One of the containers already burned.

Earlier this week, officials evacuated workers and residents within a 1.5-mile radius from the plant after flooding which the company says could lead to a massive fire or explosion. On Thursday morning, members of the media were not let within a 2-mile perimeter of the plant as authorities investigated the incident, while nearby residents were briefly advised to shelter-in-place.

The plant makes organic peroxides, some that need to be constantly refrigerated. When they aren’t, they become volatile.

Friday’s fire was the second fire and explosion after a much smaller one erupted Monday.

The plant’s record with state and federal regulators isn’t stellar either, something the plant’s president acknowledged in a phone conference Friday. “We’re not perfect,” said Arkema CEO Richard Rennard. “We’re doing our very best and and will continue to work to get better.”

While the company has refused to give the full breakdown of chemicals stored on location, it has warned that it has around 500,000 pounds of peroxides on the site, all of which are expected to burn.

The company also published a list of the toxic chemicals stored at the doomed facility on its web site, reposted below.

  • 2-ETHYLHEXANOYL CHLORIDE DISTILLED
  • ACETIC ACID 84%
  • ACETONE
  • AROMATIC 100
  • BENZOYL CHLORIDE
  • CAUSTIC POTASH 45%
  • CAUSTIC SODA 50%
  • CUMENE HYDROPEROXIDE
  • CUMENE HYDROPEROXIDE
  • DIMETHYL HEXADIENE
  • DIMETHYL HEXANEDIOL DH-S
  • EPSOM SALTS
  • HEXANE
  • HYDROGEN PEROXIDE 70%
  • ISOAMYLENE
  • ISOAMYLENE
  • ISOBUTYLENE     ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL
  • MINERAL OIL, WHITE
  • MINERAL SPIRITS ODORLESS
  • MONOSODIUM PHOSPHATE
  • NEODECANOYL CHLORIDE >=98.0% UNDISTILLED
  • PIVALOYL CHLORIDE 95-100%
  • PROPYLENE GLYCOL
  • SODIUM BICARBONATE
  • SODIUM CARBONATE ANHYDROUS LIGHT
  • SODIUM SULFATE ANHYDROUS
  • SODIUM SULFITE ANHYDROUS
  • SULFUR DIOXIDE
  • SULFURIC ACID 93% REAGENT ACS
  • T-BUTYL HYDROPEROXIDE 70%

All of these substances are now expected to burn down, many in volatile, explosive fashion, in the coming days.

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The Growing Threat Of The Police State

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Nick Giambruno via InternationalMan.com,

 

Doug Casey, Jeff Thomas, and Nick Giambruno recently discussed a critical topic – the rise of a police state in the former “free” world.

Nick Giambruno: In my experience, the US has some of the most aggressive police in the world. I first noticed this when I started traveling many years ago.

I’ve also noticed that law-abiding citizens are more likely to encounter the police in the US. Both of these trends are accelerating.

What happened to “the boys in blue”—the friendly cop on the beat that everyone knew personally and trusted?

Doug Casey: The fact is that police forces throughout the US have been militarized. Every little town has a SWAT team, sometimes with armored personnel carriers. All of the Praetorian style agencies on the federal level—the FBI, CIA, NSA, and over a dozen others like them—have become very aggressive. Every single day in the US, there are scores of confiscations of people’s bank accounts, and dozens having their doors broken down in the wee hours of the night. The ethos in the US really seems to be changing right before our very eyes, and I think it’s quite disturbing. It’s a harbinger, I’m afraid, of what’s to come.

Jeff Thomas: Yes, this change has certainly been more prevalent in the US than elsewhere. And I don’t doubt that the black combat uniforms are intentional. Psychologically, combat gear is very threatening. It serves only one purpose—aggression. And blue is the color of officialdom, whilst black is the color of death. This, to me, was a very conscious change—maximum intimidation.

Nick Giambruno: Police training has also changed. The War on (some) Drugs and the so-called War on Terror have turbocharged police militarization. What are your thoughts?

Doug Casey: As a general rule, police are no longer trained as “peace officers.” They’re trained to be, and view themselves, as “law enforcement officers.” This is a very different thing. The police are a bigger threat to your property and your liberty, not to mention your life, than actual criminals. 

I started writing about the militarization of American police back in the 1990s, when it started happening in earnest. And it’s very disturbing, because the way a solider deals with the enemy is necessarily quite different from the way the police are supposed to deal with citizens.

The US has these numerous continuing wars around the world, so they wind up with lots of spare military equipment. And what to do with it? They bring it home and give it to the police because they think it might be helpful. And then, driving APCs and wearing body armor, the police get the wrong idea.

Furthermore, all the military vets—many of whom have extra Y chromosomes, as do most police generally—like the idea of wearing a uniform and like the idea of carrying a gun and giving and taking orders. They’re preferred hires for police forces. But they shouldn’t be, because you inevitably pick up bad habits, and inappropriate skills, hanging out in a war zone.

Jeff Thomas: Yes, this is very clear. Not long ago, I saw a training video where recruits were lined up, being drilled—punching their fists in the air, shouting in unison, “I have the power! I have the power,” over and over. This is the antithesis of the helpful neighborhood cop. It’s unquestionably Gestapo training and it’s borne out on the street. Police in the US, especially younger, recently-trained police, see the public as a threatening enemy and behave accordingly.

Nick Giambruno: So, what comes next?

Doug Casey: All these things compound upon the other. It’s a very bad trend. I see no reason why that trend is going to turn around. In fact, I expect it to accelerate, especially as the economy turns downhill and people become more restless and the Deep State feels that the plebs have to be kept under control. So, yeah, it’s a trend that’s been accelerating for several decades. And it’s going to keep accelerating until some type of a crisis blows it all up.

Jeff Thomas: The US government has consciously created a police state. Historically, whenever governments have done this, it was because they planned increased controls that they thought might incite rebellion. So the police state is created in advance to demonstrate that opposition to greater controls would be futile. We can therefore surmise that the controls that are on the way in the US are likely to be far more oppressive than at present.

Nick Giambruno: We’ve all travelled extensively. In fact, each of us currently lives abroad.

In your experience, do other countries have the same ultra-aggressive police?

Jeff Thomas: Certainly, every country now has riot police, but in many countries, they’re only trotted out in an emergency. I tend to rate countries based upon the ongoing presence of police in riot gear. The more prevalent they are, the less likely I am to want to spend a lot of time there. In the two countries where I spend most of my time, the cop on the beat doesn’t even wear a side arm.

Doug Casey: Here in Argentina, as blowback to the excesses of the military government 30 years back, the police and military are reviled or simply ignored by the public, relegated to a far more appropriate role as night watchmen. There is a very limited and nonthreatening police presence.

The average Argentine despises both the army and the police. This is a very good thing compared to, say, a country like Chile, where they actually love their army and police.

Jeff Thomas: Here’s an interesting point—I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Cuba over the years. This is a country that’s been characterized by the US government as oppressive in the extreme. But, even back in the early 90’s, I found the police there were, generally speaking, quite peaceable and even helpful. They carried pistols, but they could be talked to like anyone else. That’s still true today. It’s possible that, even today, if you yelled, “Kill Raul,” you might be escorted off to the hoosegow, but otherwise, you feel safe around the police. I can’t say the same about New York, Paris, or London. There, you feel… unease in the presence of police.

Nick Giambruno: The US has many vague, overly broad laws criminalizing mundane activities. It’s impossible for anyone to comply 100% of the time.

Many people think only major crimes like robbery and murder are felonies. But that isn’t true. Politicians have criminalized many ordinary activities through an ever-expanding mountain of laws and regulations.

It’s not that hard to commit a felony. Many victimless “crimes” are felonies.

A study by civil liberty lawyer Harvey Silverglate found that the average American inadvertently commits three felonies a day.

Today, there are thousands of federal crimes. The number is constantly increasing.

It brings to mind the words of the great Roman historian Tacitus: “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”

On that note, civil asset forfeiture is one of the most corrupting practices. It allows government agencies to grab private property without warning… then dare you to prove they’ve made a mistake.

What are your thoughts?

Doug Casey: You can be accused of almost anything by the government and have your assets seized without due process. Every year there are billions of dollars that are seized by various government entities, including local police departments, who get to keep a percentage of the proceeds, so this is a very corrupting thing.

People forget that when the US was founded there were only three federal crimes, and they are listed in the Constitution: treason, counterfeiting, and piracy. Now it’s estimated there are over 5,000 federal crimes, and that number is constantly increasing. This is very disturbing. It’s becoming Kafkaesque.

All the repressive aspects of government—civil forfeitures are just one—have been growing and compounding for years. It’s not a conspiracy; it’s the natural progression of all living organisms. They all want to grow, exert more control on their environments, and become more powerful. The problem is that government has unusual powers, and no longer seems to have many limits. So you can expect this trend to accelerate.

I saw the other day the government steals more from the American people through confiscations than is lost outright to robberies and muggings. It’s been reported that in 2015 civil forfeitures exceeded the amount stolen by all robbers. It’s quite amazing and disturbing.

Whenever a police department confiscates things under these laws, they get to keep some percentage. It varies but can be 10, 20, 30, 50 percent of what’s confiscated, and they love it because the money goes to the local police department in question. They can use it for buying fun cop toys, or for buying further educational benefits, or whatever, for themselves. So, they’re profiting from this stuff as directly as the criminals do that steal things from citizens. It’s a total disaster.

Jeff Thomas: Yes, the US police now have the legal authority to become the modern version of the highwayman of old. But, today, it’s done with the assistance of a badge. Any authority can seize all your possessions, including the contents of your bank account, and simply absorb the proceeds into the department—legally. Although it can theoretically be contested, no one who’s just had all his money confiscated is going to be able to hire a lawyer. And this is no small-time scam. The take nationwide for civil asset forfeiture annually exceeds the total amount taken in burglaries by badgeless criminals.

Nick Giambruno: That brings us to the big question. Where will things go from here?

I doubt the police will tone down their current policies and practices. So, what will the police state look like in a few years?

Doug Casey: As I said earlier, the trend is accelerating. And the entire country is now polarized. Even more than it was in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It’s not just a difference of opinion; it’s a clash of worldviews. It’s increasingly impossible, even dangerous, for leftists and rightists, Trumpers and anti-Trumpers, to discuss politics. It’s—as hard as it may be to confront—the kind of atmosphere that precedes a civil war. I expect lots of violent confrontations between antagonistic groups in the years to come. The State will necessarily increase its police powers to deal with the problem. Perhaps they’ll even set up some new agency to deal with civil disturbances. And—like the TSA and every other national agency—it will become part of the firmament. And will find reasons for getting more money and power.

Jeff Thomas: I believe that, at some point, they’ll stage a series of false-flag events in which multiple killings will take place in public places in several states at roughly the same time. Maybe a church social in North Carolina, a daycare center in Chicago, a hospital in Nevada, and so on. The theme would be ordinary gathering places that everyone takes for granted as being safe. The attacks would be blamed on “domestic terrorists” and would be diverse enough to convince Americans that nowhere is safe from domestic terrorism and the government “has to do something.” After that, authorities will take action nationwide “to protect the public.” They’ll be above the law, and invasions will be considered unfortunate but necessary by the populace. It will be introduced as a “temporary emergency measure” but will become permanent. The US will be the leader in this policy, but the trend will be echoed in the EU and possibly elsewhere.

Nick Giambruno: Of course, someone living in the US or EU should plan to leave before that happens.

Jeff Thomas: Yes, that word, “before,” is the key word—one that many, many people overlook. Countless people have said, “Well, if it gets really bad, I’ll leave my home country for greener pastures.” Historically, this has proven to be a grave mistake. Once conditions are getting really serious, it often becomes illegal to exit without written permission. Additionally, if an exodus does begin, those countries that previously accepted expatriates suddenly pull in the welcome mat and lock the immigration doors. The time to implement an exit plan is prior to the implementation of intolerable controls. As to the US, that warning bell has already been rung.

Doug Casey: The most important first step is to get out of the danger zone.

Let’s list the steps, in order of importance.

  1. Establish a financial account in a second country and transfer assets to it, immediately.

  2. Purchase a crib in a suitable third country, somewhere you might enjoy whether in good times or bad.

  3. Get moving toward an alternative citizenship in a fourth country; you don’t want to be stuck geographically, and you don’t want to live like a refugee.

  4. Keep your eyes open for business and investment opportunities in those four countries, plus the other 225; you’ll greatly increase your perspective and your chances of success.

Where to go? In general, I would suggest you look most seriously at countries whose governments aren’t overly cozy with the US and whose people maintain an inbred suspicion of the police, the military, and the fiscal authorities. These criteria tilt the scales against past favorites like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK.

And one more piece of sage advice: stop thinking like your neighbors, which is to say stop thinking and acting like a serf. Most people—although they can be perfectly affable and even seem sensible—have the attitudes of medieval peasants that objected to going further than a day’s round-trip from their hut, for fear the stories of dragons that live over the hill might be true. 

I’m not saying that you’ll make your fortune and find happiness by venturing out. But you’ll greatly increase your odds of doing so, greatly increase your security, and, I suspect, have a much more interesting time.

Let me end by reminding you what Rick Blaine, Bogart’s character in Casablanca, had to say in only a slightly different context. Appropriately, Rick was an early but also an archetypical international man. Let’s just imagine he’s talking about what will happen if you don’t effectively internationalize yourself, now. He said: “You may not regret it now, but you’ll regret it soon. And for the rest of your life.”

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Palladium Suddenly Spikes To 16-Year Highs

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Amid hope for reinvigorated auto production (after Hurricane Harvey’s destruction) and yesterday’s escalation in US-Russia tensions (Russia being the world’s largest producer), spot Palladium is spiking today, hitting its highest since record highs in January 2001.

While the entire gamut of industrial and precious metals have been rising recently (the latter on the back of Chinese demand hype), Palladium prices exploded today out of nowhere (biggest jump in 7 months).

 

Pushing the precious metal to its highest in 16 years…

 

There appear to be a few catalysts for the recent trend and today’s spike…

1. China’s commodity panic-buying trend

There just appears to be blind panic-buying momentum from China in any and every industrial metal and along with gold prices surging amid North Korea and debt ceiling drama, we suspect Palladium is catching a bid on the back of that.

2. Renewed hopes for growth in the auto sector

As Bloomberg notes, approximately 67 percent of palladium produced is used in catalytic converters, which convert up to 90 percent of the harmful gases in automobile exhaust to less noxious substances. Global auto sales, up 4 percent for the year, are driven by a global increase in SUV sales, the ongoing shift from diesel to gasoline engines in Europe (diesel engines alternatively use platinum), and tightening emission legislation.

 

Sales of autos fueled by petroleum have been particularly strong in China and India. According to Jeffrey Christian, managing partner of CPM Group, car sales in China have been “borrowed” from future years through the offering of rebates and tax cuts. In the first half of the year, auto sales in China rose 4.3 percent, to 13.4 million units, from a year earlier.

 

US Auto sales just collapsed though…

 

 

ZH: And the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey is prompting companies like Ford to discuss increasing production once again.

3. Tighter supply due to Russian sanctions

Russia is the world’s largest supplier…

 

Source

 

Bloomberg notes that on Aug. 2, Congress passed a bill approving new sanctions on Russia in response to its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as its human rights violations, annexation of Crimea, and military operations in eastern Ukraine. The measure substantially reduces the president’s power to waive or ease certain sanctions without congressional approval.

 

The bill lists 12 types of sanctions that can be imposed on people and entities that, for example, conduct “significant” transactions with Russian defense and intelligence agencies and invest or facilitate the investment of $10 million or more in the privatization of any state-owned asset that unfairly benefits government officials or their associates.

 

So far, Russia has been able to maintain stable palladium supplies in the face of international political issues. Yet since 2014, a bloc of nations — including Switzerland, Japan, Australia and Canada, as well as the European Union — has imposed sanctions against Russia.

 

Norilsk Nickel, a public joint stock company, is the world’s leading producer of palladium and nickel. Its key shareholders are two powerful Russian oligarchs: Vladimir Potanin’s Interros and Oleg Deripaska’s Rusal. Each reportedly owns more than 25 percent of shares. Interros Group is one of the largest private investment companies in Russia. Deripaska has close ties to President Vladimir Putin and a connection to the American political consultant Paul Manafort, whom Deripaska employed from at least 2005 to 2009.

 

Norilsk Nickel reported that its palladium production fell 2 percent in the first half of the year from a year earlier, to almost 1.3 million metric tons. CPM’s Christian indicated that Norilsk’s stockpiling in the first quarter likely contributed to the tight market in May and June.

 

Although markets are fairly balanced, showing a small surplus, Norilsk said palladium consumption is expected to reach an all-time high of 10.8 million ounces, and is forecasting a deficit this year of more than 1 million ounces.

 

ZH: And additionally yesterday saw an escalation in tensions between US and Russia as the state department ordered the San Francisco consulate closed… prompting angry responses from Moscow – and perhaps retaliation.

*  *  *

We suspect the latter two are the most critical factors for today’s spike.

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“Yes, Google Uses Its Power to Quash Ideas It Doesn’t Like – I Know Because It Happened To Me”

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Kashmir Hill via Gizmodo.com,

The story in the New York Times this week was unsettling: The New America Foundation, a major think tank, was getting rid of one of its teams of scholars, the Open Markets group. New America had warned its leader Barry Lynn that he was “imperiling the institution,” the Times reported, after he and his group had repeatedly criticized Google, a major funder of the think tank, for its market dominance.

The criticism of Google had culminated in Lynn posting a statement to the think tank’s website “applauding” the European Commission’s decision to slap the company with a record-breaking $2.7 billion fine for privileging its price-comparison service over others in search results. That post was briefly taken down, then republished. Soon afterward, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the head of New America, told Lynn that his group had to leave the foundation for failing to abide by “institutional norms of transparency and collegiality.”

Google denied any role in Lynn’s firing, and Slaughter tweeted that the “facts are largely right, but quotes are taken way out of context and interpretation is wrong.”

Despite the conflicting story lines, the underlying premise felt familiar to me:

Six years ago, I was pressured to unpublish a critical piece about Google’s monopolistic practices after the company got upset about it. In my case, the post stayed unpublished.

I was working for Forbes at the time, and was new to my job. In addition to writing and reporting, I helped run social media there, so I got pulled into a meeting with Google salespeople about Google’s then-new social network, Plus.

The Google salespeople were encouraging Forbes to add Plus’s “+1″ social buttons to articles on the site, alongside the Facebook Like button and the Reddit share button. They said it was important to do because the Plus recommendations would be a factor in search results—a crucial source of traffic to publishers.

This sounded like a news story to me. Google’s dominance in search and news give it tremendous power over publishers. By tying search results to the use of Plus, Google was using that muscle to force people to promote its social network.

I asked the Google people if I understood correctly: If a publisher didn’t put a +1 button on the page, its search results would suffer? The answer was yes.

After the meeting, I approached Google’s public relations team as a reporter, told them I’d been in the meeting, and asked if I understood correctly. The press office confirmed it, though they preferred to say the Plus button “influences the ranking.” They didn’t deny what their sales people told me: If you don’t feature the +1 button, your stories will be harder to find with Google.

With that, I published a story headlined, “Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Suffers,” that included bits of conversation from the meeting.

The Google guys explained how the new recommendation system will be a factor in search. “Universally, or just among Google Plus friends?” I asked. ‘Universal’ was the answer. “So if Forbes doesn’t put +1 buttons on its pages, it will suffer in search rankings?” I asked. Google guy says he wouldn’t phrase it that way, but basically yes.

(An internet marketing group scraped the story after it was published and a version can still be found here.)

Google promptly flipped out. This was in 2011, around the same time that a congressional antitrust committee was looking into whether the company was abusing its powers.

Google never challenged the accuracy of the reporting. Instead, a Google spokesperson told me that I needed to unpublish the story because the meeting had been confidential, and the information discussed there had been subject to a non-disclosure agreement between Google and Forbes. (I had signed no such agreement, hadn’t been told the meeting was confidential, and had identified myself as a journalist.)

It escalated quickly from there. I was told by my higher-ups at Forbes that Google representatives called them saying that the article was problematic and had to come down. The implication was that it might have consequences for Forbes, a troubling possibility given how much traffic came through Google searches and Google News.

I thought it was an important story, but I didn’t want to cause problems for my employer. And if the other participants in the meeting had in fact been covered by an NDA, I could understand why Google would object to the story.

Given that I’d gone to the Google PR team before publishing, and it was already out in the world, I felt it made more sense to keep the story up. Ultimately, though, after continued pressure from my bosses, I took the piece down—a decision I will always regret. Forbes declined comment about this.

But the most disturbing part of the experience was what came next: Somehow, very quickly, search results stopped showing the original story at all. As I recall it—and although it has been six years, this episode was seared into my memory—a cached version remained shortly after the post was unpublished, but it was soon scrubbed from Google search results. That was unusual; websites captured by Google’s crawler did not tend to vanish that quickly. And unpublished stories still tend to show up in search results as a headline. Scraped versions could still be found, but the traces of my original story vanished. It’s possible that Forbes, and not Google, was responsible for scrubbing the cache, but I frankly doubt that anyone at Forbes had the technical know-how to do it, as other articles deleted from the site tend to remain available through Google.

Deliberately manipulating search results to eliminate references to a story that Google doesn’t like would be an extraordinary, almost dystopian abuse of the company’s power over information on the internet.

I don’t have any hard evidence to prove that that’s what Google did in this instance, but it’s part of why this episode has haunted me for years: The story Google didn’t want people to read swiftly became impossible to find through Google.

Google wouldn’t address whether it deliberately deep-sixed search results related to the story. Asked to comment, a Google spokesperson sent a statement saying that Forbes removed the story because it was “not reported responsibly,” an apparent reference to the claim that the meeting was covered by a non-disclosure agreement. Again, I identified myself as a journalist and signed no such agreement before attending.

People who paid close attention to the search industry noticed the piece’s disappearance and wrote about it, wondering why it disappeared. Those pieces, at least, are still findable today.

As for how effective the strategy was, Google’s dominance in other industries didn’t really pan out for Plus. Six years later, the social network is a ghost town and Google has basically given up on it. But back when Google still thought it could compete with Facebook on social, it was willing to play hardball to promote the network.

Google started out as a company dedicated to ensuring the best access to information possible, but as it’s grown into one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world, its priorities have changed. Even as it fights against ordinary people who want their personal histories removed from the web, the company has an incentive to suppress information about itself.

Google said it never urged New America to fire Lynn and his team. But an entity as powerful as Google doesn’t have to issue ultimatums. It can just nudge organizations and get them to act as it wants, given the influence it wields.

Lynn and the rest of the team that left New America Foundation plan to establish a new nonprofit to continue their work. For now, they’ve launched a website called “Citizens Against Monopoly” that tells their story. It says that “Google’s attempts to shut down think tanks, journalists, and public interest advocates researching and writing about the dangers of concentrated private power must end.”

It’s safe to say they won’t be receiving funding from Google.

*  *  *

Update, September 1, 1:55 p.m.: Yesterday, we asked Google’s communications team for a response to this story. Initially, after reviewing contemporaneous internal Google emails about the Forbes story, two PR reps told us there was no way to know whether Google was responsible for deleting the cache and issued a short statement saying only that Forbes took down my story because it was “not reported responsibly.”

This morning, Google’s vice president of global communications, Rob Shilkin, emailed me to say definitively what two of his colleagues wouldn’t: “We had nothing to do with removing the article from the cache.” When I asked Shilkin how he came to that conclusion, he said it was based on old internal Google email threads. Since his colleagues had old email threads about the issue but never denied that Google took down the cache, I asked Shilkin if I could see the threads myself. He declined. His entire email, which he agreed to publish, is below.

Hi Kashmir

 

I wanted to clear the air on this. We have always enjoyed working respectfully with you and are sad to hear that you’ve carried this since 2011. I’m sorry about how this went down, and wanted to give you the tick-tock from our end.

 

From our perspective, this was a disagreement over whether a meeting was held under NDA. As you know, you attended a Forbes business meeting with the Google sales team, which was presenting on the (then) new +1 button. It didn’t strike our sales team as unusual that someone from Forbes’ editorial was in the meeting because they’d often attend these types of meetings – Editorial is often involved in a publication’s social strategy.

 

However, like most of our client meetings that discuss new features, it was held under an NDA (it sounds like Forbes didn’t inform you of this before you attended and had we known you were going to report on the meeting, we would have raised that concern).

 

Our sales team called their fellow attendees of the meeting from Forbes to express surprise that the article was based on a meeting held under NDA. I understand that one of our PR reps raised this concern to you, and then your editor. I understand that our PR rep asked that the piece come down from Forbes’ website, as it was reporting on a confidential business meeting.

 

Your editor agreed – he told our PR rep that the article was being removed because it involved reporting on an NDA meeting. As for the Google cache, it’s trivial for a website owner to request its cache to be cleared (see here). I assume this is what happened because we had nothing to do with removing the article from the cache. I hope our team has enough credibility, among those who work with us, that you know that we couldn’t and wouldn’t engage in this type of behavior – never have, never will.

 

You have long held our and the tech industry’s feet to the fire on privacy issues. And you have written (more than) a few critical stories about Google+ and many other things Google-related 🙂 To my knowledge, never have we had any issues like this, with even the most critical story. On this one piece, there seems to have been an unfortunate misunderstanding over whether all the attendees at a meeting believed they were under an NDA.

 

I won’t pretend to love how you shared your concern about this incident but – after a stiff drink – I’m glad you raised it. I hope that in the intervening six years, we’ve re-earned your trust. And if not, we’ll keep trying.

 

Regards

Rob

 

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Eclipsegate Is Back: Treasury Inspector General Opens Probe Into Mnuchin’s Use Of Government Plane

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Ever since President Trump moved into the White House there has been only one redeeming thing to emerge from the Deep State’s relentless pursuit of something, anything, that could bring down his administration…namely, their recent obsession with this woman, Scottish actress and wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Louise Linton.

Linton

 

For those who glossed over this particular storyline, Linton sparked an ‘international crisis’ just a couple of weeks ago when she made the mistake of responding to a social media troll on Instragram who took issue with Linton posting pictures of herself disembarking from a private, taxpayer-funded, private plane.  Here was Linton’s snarky retort:

“Cute! Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch. Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message [sic], one filled with wisdom and hunanity [sic] would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!”

Louise Linton, wife of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, just turned her Instagram private after posting this (h/t @skenigsberg) pic.twitter.com/beakVnAhhu

— Margarita Noriega (@margarita) August 22, 2017

 

Not surprisingly, the message provided all the ammunition the Left needed to open a whole new front in their war against the Trump admin.  And, to our complete shock, within hours an ‘independent’ watchdog group called Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility filed a FOIA request for all of Steve Mnuchin’s travel records based on allegations that he may have inappropriately utilized a government plane just to get a closer look at the eclipse. 

 

Now, you may have thought the whole scandal was put to rest when the Washington Post reported that Mnuchin and his wife viewed the eclipse from the roof of Fort Knox, where they were attending official meetings along with Senate leader Mitch McConnell, and not from the comfort of a government plane…

It turns out that Mnuchin did view the eclipse while he was in Kentucky, and from an extraordinary place: Just outside the path of totality, from the roof of the nation’s fabled Fort Knox, atop nearly $200 billion in American gold.

 

But Treasury officials said Thursday that the trip was planned explicitly around “official government travel,” rejecting the idea that the Fort Knox visit and the appearance at a luncheon for the local chamber of commerce were mere cover. They said the luncheon appearance had been planned for early August but was delayed when McConnell postponed the Senate’s recess, an account confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Louisville chamber, Alison Brotzge-Elder.

…something that could have been easily verified with a quick peak at Mitch McConnell’s Facebook page (notice the glasses in McConnell’s hand)…

But if you thought the Deep State would give up that easily then you drastically underestimate their resolve to get to the bottom of ‘Eclipsegate2017’…it’s not as if this is some minor issue like Hillary’s missing emails.

All of which brings us to the present and today’s announcement from the Treasury Department’s inspector general that an all new inquiry has now been opened to, once again, investigate precisely where Steve Mnuchin was standing during the eclipse last month.  Per The Hill:

“We are reviewing the circumstances of the Secretary’s August 21 flight … to determine whether all applicable travel, ethics, and appropriation laws and policies were observed,” counsel Rich Delmar said in a statement to The Washington Post on Thursday.

 

“When our review is complete, we will advise the appropriate officials, in accordance with the Inspector General Act and established procedures,” Delmar continued.

Of course, we suspect it’s only a matter of time until this very serious matter is transferred to Special Counsel Mueller who should probably start his investigation here: Linton’s Maxim photoshoot.

Finally, since we know this is the only reason you clicked on this post anyway…here you go.  Happy Friday.

Linton

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Is The CIA Writing Legislation For The U.S. Congress?

September 1, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
Today I want to highlight a troubling bill moving through Congress that seems inspired by a thuggish, authoritarian speech given earlier this year by CIA head Mike Pompeo.

I found that speech so di…

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