Tuesday, October 31, 2017


News Links, November 1, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Big Oil Has Learned To Live With Lower Oil Prices
In an environment where central banks have crushed yields, investors have become so desperate for any yield they can get, no matter what the risks, that borrowers are totally taking advantage of this desperation.
Sears Holdings Exhausts its Last Credit Facility
It risks running out of money just before the holiday selling season.

## Airline death spiral ##
The Fat Years for U.S. Airlines Are Coming to an End
While summertime profits were fine, and travel demand remains robust, a number of airlines are facing higher bills from a variety of factors: labor contracts, significant airport renovation projects, technology spending, and fleet upgrades.

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
South Korea will buy more U.S. weapons, develop more advanced missiles and receive a more consistent presence of U.S. military nuclear weapons to defend against North Korea, according to agreements reached between top U.S. and South Korean military leaders that concluded in Seoul Saturday.
By shelving THAAD dispute, China hopes to counter US hard line
Bahrain Wants Qatar's GCC Membership Frozen
In a series of messages on Twitter, Al Khalifa said that Bahrain would not attend the next GCC meeting if Qatar is present, and criticized it for refusing to comply with the demands of the Saudi-led coalition that had imposed a blockade on Qatar.
Talk about meddling! How America Spreads Global Chaos
Beyond the well-publicized military build up on man-made islands in the South China Sea, China has built up its fleet of fighters to the extent that it operates a daily, aggressive campaign to contest airspace over the East China Sea, South China Sea and beyond, U.S. military officials here in the region said. China has also taken several other non-military steps that are viewed as attempts to make it much more difficult for the U.S. to operate there and defend allies in the future.

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Sacked Catalonia leader calls for opposition to Madrid's rule
IMF projects deficits of $320B for Mideast oil exporters
The Middle East's oil producers are bracing for continued pressure from lower oil prices, with the International Monetary Fund projecting cumulative budget deficits of $320 billion over the next five years.
Saudis Need $70 Oil To Break Even
Iran skips UN conference on nuclear energy in Abu Dhabi
President Donald Trump has scrapped environmental regulations and supported fossil-fuel production in the first year of his presidency. But if success of such policies is judged by the price of gasoline, there's little to show. By every measure of affordability, the cost of filling up has increased relative to the major economies of the world.

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Tech firms must do more on extremism: World Economic Forum
U.S. tech firms such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc should be more aggressive in tackling extremism and political misinformation if they want to avoid government action, a report from the World Economic Forum said on Monday.
EU may struggle to prove cyber attack links, warns expert
EU governments are reportedly planning to respond to cyber attacks as an act of war, but a cyber security expert says links to nation states may be hard to prove
Uranium-Gate: The Informant Cometh
This gets more bizarre by the minute. -- RF
Pentagon to Keep Afghan War 'Progress' Metrics Secret

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
NY Times Uncritically Says Fake News Debate Supports Chinese Style Censorship
Nothing surprising about this. The US already has a China-style one-party system, so why not China-style internet censorship? Then all US fake news will be government-approved. -- RF
"Suddenly I realised, wow, they actually hold so much power," she said. Facebook "can crush us just like that if they want to".
Superstorms are the least of NYC's worries. -- RF
The Americans who can't read
The US has more citizens who are illiterate - some 16 million people - than many of its developed counterparts.
Singapore Is Finding It Harder to Grow, Literally
In Singapore, sand is just as precious a resource as oil and water. Securing a steady supply is proving to be trickier these days.
This is a solution? It just lards more on top of something that's already unsustainable. -- RF
What Trump's Iran action means for Japan's energy interests
Post-sanctions, Japan expanded its interests in Iranian oil, as well as other sectors. If the nuclear deal is scuttled, don't expect Tokyo to acquiesce easily to a new sanctions regime
Unfortunately, as internet control tightens around the world, we'll see that China isn't an aberration, but rather a bellwether. -- RF
China tests new spy drones in near space 'death zone'
High-altitude unmanned vehicles tasked with military intelligence gathering can fit inside a shoebox and cost just a few hundred yuan
China's mangrove swamplands are disappearing at an alarming rate. These saltwater marshes, unique to tropical and subtropical areas such as southern China's Pearl River Delta, serve as spawning grounds for aquatic life, major stops for migratory birds and shields for coastlines. However, mangroves have grown expendable in land-scarce coastal regions as land reclamation became an easy path to higher tax revenue, economic growth and better livelihoods for locals.
Disruption to online and mobile services has become more of a problem for banks in recent years, as lenders cut branch networks and steer customers towards those digital platforms.
Benefit cuts main cause of surge in demand for children's services, warn council leaders
Local authorities say cuts to financial support for families such as housing benefit have seen demand for child protection services rise to levels they are unable to meet

## US ##
The Bitter Irony about Today's "Real Disposable Income"
In the data today on personal income and outlays for September was a hefty shot of reality that many Americans have been feeling in their wallets on a daily basis: On a personal level, per individual, or "per capita," the disposable income adjusted for inflation looks lousy. In fact, it declined in September and has been declining since May.
"Relying on consumer savings to move the economy forward is not going to last for long," said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

Sunday, October 29, 2017


News Links, October 30, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
Jeff Bezos is now the richest man in the world with $90 billion
NAFTA Effect: Global Manufacturers Bet on Dirt-Cheap Mexico
That wages have remained so low for so long is not by accident; it's by design.
Border control procedures were also a persistent annoyance for passengers, something IATA says could be solved through the increased use of biometric data.  Passengers are warming to that idea as well – Over 82% want to use a 'digital passport' and 64% would be happy for biometrics to be used as the form of identification.
Be careful what you wish for. -- RF

## Fault lines/flashpoints/powder kegs/military/war drums ##
Forces in Iraq, Syria will need U.S. help long after ISIS is gone, top commander says
Just the other day Tillerson said, "Any foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home," but obviously he did not include US fighters. -- RF
Papua New Guinea tells Australia it must resettle refugees unwilling to stay

## Global unrest/mob rule/angry people/torches and pitchforks ##
Disappointing Output Betrays Exxon, Chevron Profit Victories
Exxon churned out the equivalent of 3.97 million barrels a day, short of the 4-million average estimate from analysts. Chevron's tally was 2.717 million barrels a day, underperforming its 2.777-million average estimate. In both cases, the figures rattled investors, even as the U.S. oil giants easily beat estimates on their overall earnings.
You still have to wonder what exactly Trump meant by those tweets. Did he mean that US oil companies should have loaded up all Iraq's oil in tankers and taken it away? Or that the US was supposed to militarily occupy Iraq's oil fields?  -- RF

## Environment/health ##
More than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world's waters each and every year, according to the nonprofit network Plastic Oceans. That trash causes the death of more than 100,000 marine animals and one million seabirds every year, the United Nations reported. Should this trend continue, plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean by the year 2050.
Science Says: Jack Frost nipping at your nose ever later
Making more humans is a problem, not a solution. -- RF

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
Facebook denies 'listening' to conversations
A Facebook executive has denied the social network uses a device's microphone to listen to what users are saying and then send them relevant ads.
Russian state-owned television station RT says Twitter had pushed it to spend millions on advertising ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The Democratic Money Behind Russia-gate
The two sources that originated the allegations claiming that Russia meddled in the 2016 election — without providing convincing evidence — were both paid for by the Democratic National Committee, and in one instance also by the Clinton campaign: the Steele dossier and the CrowdStrike analysis of the DNC servers.

## Propaganda/censorship/fake news/alternative facts ##
Facebook is effectively sowing disinformation by kowtowing to foreign regimes and censoring atrocities such as ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. In the name of repressing fake news and hate speech, Facebook is probably suppressing far more information than Americans realize.
Hillary Clinton Keeps Pointing Fingers
Because of the failure of the corporate press to report fully on Hillary Clinton's policy failures throughout her career, it was difficult for voters to perceive how dangerous her presidency might have been, although many Democratic voters bolted to Bernie Sanders and enough Americans voted against her last November to give Donald Trump his narrow Electoral College victory.
Guardians of the Magnitsky Myth
In pursuit of Russia-gate, the U.S. mainstream media embraces any attack on Russia and works to ensure that Americans don't hear the other side of the story, as with the Magnitsky myth.

## Systemic breakdown/collapse/unsustainability ##
What Could Pop The Everything Bubble?
As central bank policies are increasingly fingered by the mainstream as the source of soaring wealth-income inequality, policies supporting credit/asset bubbles will either be limited or cut off, and at that point all the credit/asset bubbles will pop.
Subaru chief says improper inspections may date back decades
Automaker set to recall up to 400,000 vehicles in Japan
Could drone that can deliver cargo to islets in South China Sea secure presence in disputed waters?
Unmanned aerial vehicle could take military supplies from Hainan Island to the Paracels in an hour, and can land and take off using a dirt track or field
Politicians admitting that overpopulation is a problem? I'm shocked! Of course, the reason they dare to bring it up in this instance is to tie the problem in with immigration. Nevertheless, (human) overpopulation is real. -- RF
Heathrow investigates after security and anti-terror data found on USB stick
Heathrow officials are investigating after a USB stick containing confidential data – including the exact route the Queen takes to the airport – was reportedly found in the street.
'Excessive' green taxes are forcing up fuel bills, official review finds

## US ##
Don't Call the Cops If You're Autistic, Deaf, Mentally Ill, Disabled or Old
Life in the American police state is an endless series of don'ts delivered at the end of a loaded gun.
But it's a big mistake to believe that Trump is unique in this respect. Even a cursory look at the deeds and behavior of the world's leaders, past and present, reveals rampant unhinged, depraved, and childish behavior. Trump is awful, but don't fall prey to the simple-minded and naive belief that if Trump is replaced with someone else, the situation will "get better." -- RF
A new analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center adds new disaster relief spending and the costs of GOP tax-cut plans to earlier projections from the Congressional Budget Office. Its conclusion: The deficit could reach $1 trillion as early as 2019 – four years earlier than the CBO calculated in January.
However, its unfunded liability climbed to $73.4 billion at the end of fiscal 2017 from $71.4 billion in the prior year because the state's pension contribution continued to fall below actuarially required levels.

And finally...

Thursday, October 26, 2017


News Links, October 27, 2017

## Global Ponzi meltdown/House of Cards/global cooling/deflationary collapse ##
China's Silk Road Cuts Through Some of the World's Most Corrupt Countries
60% of Belt and Road nations have junk status or not rated
The EU Just Did the Big Banks a Massive Favor
The European Union's executive arm, the European Commission, made a lot of bank executives very happy this Tuesday by abandoning its multi-year pledge to break-up too-big-to-fail lenders.
Worldwide Debt More Than Triple Economic Output as Central Bank Shift Looms
Worldwide debt has risen to a record $226 trillion (£170.4 trillion) - more than three times global annual economic output - and firms in more countries are struggling to service loans, a study shows, just as key central banks prepare to end super-cheap credit policies.

## Cut, baby, cut! ##
Sainsbury's ups supermarket stakes with 2,000 job cut strategy
As part of a £500 million cost-cutting plan, supermarket giant Sainsbury's has announced that it will give 2,000 staff their marching orders.
Wells Fargo Layoffs in 2017: 762 Job Cuts So Far, Wells Fargo Call Center Hit the Hardest
Why Nokia Is Cutting Jobs in France
AAPA: Extra security costs are high
New extra security rules that the US and some other countries are imposing on all inbound foreign flights are causing significant hassle for passengers, airlines and airports and are costly to implement.
U.S. Deepwater Offshore Oil Industry Trainwreck Approaching
The U.S. Deepwater Offshore Oil Industry is a trainwreck in the making.  The low oil price continues to sack an industry which was booming just a few short years ago.  The days of spending billions of dollars to find and produce some of the most technically challenging deep-water oil deposits may be coming to an end sooner then the market realizes.
Massive Graphite Shortage Looms over Electric Car Future
Spot prices for graphite electrodes have spiked over 300 percent since January, hitting up to a whopping $35,000 per tonne as graphite supplies dry up for a metal that is of crucial importance to the lithium batteries that form the backbone of the electric car boom.
100% renewables: 'wishful thinking' or an imperative goal?
The myth of a nuclear-free Austria
Fuel Crisis Exposes Kazakhstan's Energy Contradictions
For the past month, lack of gasoline, price increases, and public discontent highlighted Kazakhstan's infrastructural and institutional impasse.
The oil majors are reaping the benefits of deep cost cuts, but they're still not doing quite enough. The target: being able to fully fund dividends and investments at $40, or even $30 a barrel, according to BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley.
So, still more cost cutting is needed. But as we've seen, spending on exploration and development has already fallen far below the reserve replacement rate. The promise of further spending cuts doesn't sound very encouraging. -- RF
ConocoPhillips' Profit Beats Estimates, But Budget Cut 10%
ConocoPhillips, the largest U.S. independent oil producer, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, helped by rising crude prices, although it slashed its capital budget by 10 percent to further cut costs.
BNEF shines light on China's solar curtailment problem
Approximately 56.2 TWh of solar and wind generation was curtailed in China last year, underscoring how excessive investment and an oversupply of electricity pose an ongoing threat to renewables development, according to newly released research.
As Lithium Booms, Some Analysts Sound Note Of Caution

## Got food? ##
Agriculture sector expects job-loss bloodbath, with 50,000 possibly out of work (South Africa)
The Western Cape's drought is not only expected to see enormous job losses — with an expected R40m loss in wages — but a rise in prices for some fruit and veg too

## Intelligence/security/internet/cyberwar ##
What Did Hillary Clinton Know?
With the disclosure that Hillary Clinton's campaign helped pay for the original Russia-gate allegations against Donald Trump, a new question arises: what did Clinton know and when did she know it?
NYT Laments 'Forever Wars' Its Editorials Helped Create
Corporate media have a long history of lamenting wars they themselves helped sell the American public, but it's rare so many wars and so much hypocrisy are distilled into one editorial.
NYT's Assault on Press Freedom
The New York Times, which once postured as the champion of a free press, now is seeking crackdowns on news that the public gets from the Internet under the guise of combatting "Russian propaganda."
Getting the Left to Embrace US 'Exceptionalism'
Neocons have deftly used the Left's hatred of President Trump and the demonizing of Russia to lure liberals and progressives into an interventionist mindset to defend "American exceptionalism."
Pentagon will be hard-pressed to keep fighter flying, GAO says
This is a textbook example of declining marginal return and the cost of complexity, which are factors which bring down societies and civilizations. Each incremental technological advance requires greater inputs, thus the colossal expense. And the final product is so complex that it's a challenge just to make it work. -- RF
Japan's Shoko Chukin owns up to rampant doctoring of loan documents
Chief of state-backed lender to step down, staff faces punishment
Abe to tell CEOs of his 'wish' to see 3% wage increase
Fifth year in a row that prime minister has asked business leaders for salary help
Bill to restrain warrantless searches of Americans introduced to Senate, House
Bipartisan groups in the Senate and House of Representatives introduced legislation Tuesday that seeks to restrain government agencies' surveillance powers on American citizens.
Rising Rents Are Pushing More Tenants Past the Breaking Point
Rents have increased rapidly across U.S. housing markets as the share of renting households has risen faster than the number of new units. Now, in a survey published Thursday by an apartment-listing service, nearly one in five respondents reports struggling to make the monthly payments.

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