Friday, December 26, 2014

We Are Now At Historic Extremes As We Head Into 2015

"As we head into the end of year, one thing has become clear:  World markets are now at historic extremes.  Below are three examples of how distorted things have become as a result of the unprecedented global money printing binge.
Here is just a small portion of Jason Goepfert’s internationally acclaimed work:  "The latest Optimism Index data for commodities shows that optimism dropped the most in the Swiss franc and Euro, both dropping further into excessive pessimism as the currencies sink against the dollar. They have been unable to mount any lasting rallies in spite of what has been several bouts of pessimism. The biggest increase in optimism occurred in the dollar, no surprise, which is staying strong in spite of near-historic levels of optimism (see chart below)."
5-Year Sentiment Chart Of The U.S. Dollar
KWN I 12:24:2014
King World News note:  With extreme optimism in the U.S. dollar, sentiment in gold and silver remains at historically depressed levels (see charts below).
5-Year Sentiment Chart Of Gold
KWN II 12:24:2014
5-Year Sentiment Chart Of Silver
KWN III 12:24:2014


Former White House Official Says U.S. Already At War With Russia & China

"Today a former White House official stunned King World News by saying the United States is already at war with China and Russia.  Former presidential adviser and member of the U.S. President's Working Group on Financial Markets, Dr. Philippa Malmgren, also discussed how and where this dangerous war is taking place and why the public is totally unaware of it up to now.
Eric King:  “Because you are friends with former defense ministers you are up to speed on geopolitics, but I kind of laughed because NATO was talking about creating a ‘Spearhead Force’ of 3,000 – 4,000 soldiers, and the United States said they are going to send 100 tanks to the Baltic States. (Laughter)”
Dr. Malmgren:  “Yes." (Laughter).
Eric King:  “The reason I’m laughing is because just one battle in World War II, the Battle of Kursk in Russia, involved 2,000,000 men, 6,000 tanks, and 4,000 aircraft.  I laugh because what does the West think it’s going to do by getting 3,000 – 4,000 men together and sending 100 tanks up against Russia? (Laughter).  It’s comical.”
Dr. Malmgren:  “I was commissioned to write a 90 page study.  That gets into this issue of how modern wars are conducted.  It isn’t with boots on the ground and tanks any more.  Increasingly these things (wars) are fought in cyberspace and we’ve seen that happen recently with North Korea.  Cyberwarfare and space is really where the action is…."


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"The Fed Is Heading For Another Catastrophe... Central Banking Has Lost Its Way" Stephen Roach Warns

"Authored by Stephen Roach, originally posted At MarketWatch via Project Syndicate,
America’s Federal Reserve is headed down a familiar — and highly dangerous — path. Steeped in denial of its past mistakes, the Fed is pursuing the same incremental approach that helped set the stage for the financial crisis of 2008-2009. The consequences could be similarly catastrophic.
Consider the December meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, where discussions of raising the benchmark federal funds rate were couched in adjectives, rather than explicit actions.
In line with prior forward guidance that the policy rate would be kept near zero for a “considerable” amount of time after the Fed stopped purchasing long-term assets in October, the FOMC declared that it can now afford to be “patient” in waiting for the right conditions to raise the rate. Add to that Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s declaration that at least a couple more FOMC meetings would need to take place before any such “lift-off” occurs, and the Fed seems to be telegraphing a protracted journey on the road to policy normalization.
This bears an eerie resemblance to the script of 2004-2006, when the Fed’s incremental approach led to the near-fatal mistake of condoning mounting excesses in financial markets and the real economy. After pushing the federal funds rate to a 45-year low of 1% following the collapse of the equity bubble of the early 2000s, the Fed delayed policy normalization for an inordinately long period. And when it finally began to raise the benchmark rate, it did so excruciatingly slowly.
In the 24 months from June 2004, the FOMC raised the federal funds rate from 1% to 5.25% in 17 increments of 25 basis points each. Meanwhile, housing and credit bubbles were rapidly expanding, fueling excessive household consumption, a sharp drop in personal savings, and a record current-account deficit —imbalances that set the stage for the meltdown that was soon to follow.
The Fed, of course, has absolved itself of any blame in setting up the U.S. and the global economy for the Great Crisis. It was not monetary policy’s fault, argued both former Fed Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke; if anything, they insisted, a lack of regulatory oversight was the culprit.
This argument has proved convincing in policy and political circles, leading officials to focus on a new approach centered on so-called macro-prudential tools, including capital requirements and leverage ratios, to curb excessive risk-taking by banks. While this approach has some merit, it is incomplete, as it fails to address the egregious mispricing of risk brought about by an overly accommodative monetary policy and the historically low interest rates that it generated.
In this sense, the Fed’s incrementalism of 2004-2006 was a policy blunder of epic proportions.
The Fed seems poised to make a similar — and possibly even more serious — misstep in the current environment. For starters, given ongoing concerns about post-crisis vulnerabilities and deflation risk, today’s Fed seems likely to find any excuse to prolong its incremental normalization, taking a slower pace than it adopted a decade ago.
More important, the Fed’s $4.5 trillion balance sheet has since grown more than fivefold. Though the Fed has stopped purchasing new assets, it has shown no inclination to scale back its outsize holdings. Meanwhile it has passed the quantitative-easing baton to the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank, both of which will create even more liquidity at a time of record-low interest rates.
In these days of froth, the persistence of extraordinary policy accommodation in a financial system flooded with liquidity poses a great danger. Indeed, that could well be the lesson of recent equity- and currency-market volatility and, of course, plummeting oil prices.
With so much dry kindling, it will not take much to spark the next conflagration.
Central banking has lost its way. Trapped in a post-crisis quagmire of zero interest rates and swollen balance sheets, the world’s major central banks do not have an effective strategy for regaining control over financial markets or the real economies that they are supposed to manage. Policy levers — both benchmark interest rates and central banks’ balance sheets — remain at their emergency settings, even though the emergency ended long ago.
While this approach has succeeded in boosting financial markets, it has failed to cure bruised and battered developed economies, which remain mired in subpar recoveries and plagued with deflationary risks. Moreover, the longer central banks promote financial-market froth, the more dependent their economies become on these precarious markets and the weaker the incentives for politicians and fiscal authorities to address the need for balance-sheet repair and structural reform..."


Forget The Propaganda, Things Will Quickly Unravel As We Enter 2015

"Today a man who has been involved in the financial markets for 50 years warned King World News that things will quickly deteriorate as we enter 2015.  John Embry, who is business partners with billionaire Eric Sprott, discussed the endless propaganda coming out of the mainstream media and also spoke about the action in gold, silver and other key markets.
John Embry:  "There is no real price discovery going on in any markets any more — it’s all being so wildly manipulated.  And there is so much misinformation coming out of the mainstream media….

"Here is one classic example: An individual from CIBC World Markets said, ‘There’s global demand for high yielding, high quality assets, and the only one that’s in the game is the U.S. bond.  People continue to undervalue it.’
I think this will be seen in the fullness of time as one of the most absurd statements ever recorded.  The U.S. is by far the world’s largest debtor, and the fact that it still retains its world reserve currency status is the primary reason that its paper retains any value whatsoever at this point.
So what we’re faced with right now is this recurring propaganda that is being reported in the United States that the U.S. economy is growing strongly and that job creation is robust.  What utter rubbish.  Everything is being falsified to keep this myth alive and keep the U.S. dollar and the bond market afloat..."


Will This Organization Seize Control Of The World?

"Today an acclaimed money manager warned King World News about an organization that is setting up to seize control of most of the world's population.  He also spoke about what this will mean for people and how they can protect themselves ahead of this coming shift in power.
Stephen Leeb:  “Obviously we have seen some wild trading in the Russian ruble.  It didn’t surprise me at all that the Chinese have stepped in and said they would help stabilize the Russian ruble because that’s what I’ve been talking about for some time on your network — a strong alliance between China and Russia.  In fact, the alliance between Russia and China is strong and growing stronger.  So the Chinese will make investments in Russia, arrange swaps, etc….

“The Chinese also said that if Russia continues to have troubles they will take it before the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization).  I had never even heard of that organization.  It turns out that SCO has been around for over a decade in its current form.  SCO consists of 6 countries — the two biggest being Russia and China.
SCO is looking to add another 4 or 5 ‘observer’ countries to the organization.  India is one of these observer countries.  When India joins, this organization will account for over 50 percent of the world’s population.  Also, when you look at the purchasing power parity this growing organization will represent, it will be incredibly large in terms of scale.
So SCO will be a big, strong, global organization that already engages in mutual military exercises.  The organization also engages in major infrastructure funding throughout Eurasia.  This really is China trying to get hold of Eurasia, part of Eastern Europe, and eventually the world.  The interesting thing is that the Germans have been silent when it comes to SCO.
But what makes SCO even more interesting is that this organization has already formed an affiliation with the BRICs and South Africa.  So Brazil and South Africa are also included in this organization.  Again, this means that you will have more than 50 percent of the world’s population under a single umbrella of control and working together.
What was one of the first things that the BRICs and SCO did together?  They established a national bank and they funded it.  And their avowed goals, they are not even keeping it a secret, is to have a currency that is separate from the U.S. dollar.
Eric, we’ve talked at length about all the gold going from West to East and certainly that is ongoing as China, Russia, and India (its people) continue to buy gold.  And you have to remember that the Chinese now import more goods into Saudi Arabia than the United States.  So China’s relationship with the entire Eastern part of the world is becoming stronger and stronger.
Also, China’s capacity for renewable energy already exceeds that of the United States.  In fact, China’s capacity is twice that of the United States, Germany, and Spain combined.  That’s remarkable.  This latest deal between Obama and Xi entirely favors China because the Chinese don’t have to do anything until 2029.  But the Chinese have already done it.  China hides its strengths from the world, particularly the West.
Now, as people already know, Russia is a major oil producer.  Most of their oil production comes out of western Siberia.  A lot of the estimates say that the oil reserves in eastern Siberia could be well over 150 billion barrels.  Well, what do the Russians lack to cultivate this oil?  Money.  What do the Chinese have more of than anybody else?  Money.
So with the Chinese investing in a very big way into Russia, the Chinese are positioning themselves to control most of the commodities in the world either directly or indirectly.  In contrast, the United States will have very little to show for itself unless we wake up.  So sadly all the power is shifting to the East and this is a real tragedy to watch as it unfolds.
As I mentioned earlier, the gold is flowing East.  Well, so goes the gold, so goes the world’s reserve currency status and power.  This means the world currency of the future will be controlled by the Chinese in the next year or two.  This also means you better own gold and silver ahead of this coming transition.  And you better own silver especially because silver has that dual role to play both as a monetary metal and as an industrial metal.
These two metals are going to go far higher than anyone can imagine as this transition unfolds.  So gold and silver will soar as the Chinese and SCO take control of most of the world, and now is the time to buy while they are still cheap.  Sadly, this is all you can do as the West collapses is protect yourself and your familly.”


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Top Asian Hedge Fund Manager Predicts Banner Year For Gold In 2015

"Stocks surged while oil and gold gave up early gains after the decision by the Fed to drop the "Considerable time" pledge on interest rates.  King World News reached out to one of the top hedge fund managers in Asia to get his take on what has transpired and what to expect in 2015.

Eric King:  "Bill, what should people expect to see as we head into the end of this year and what about 2015?"
William Kaye:  “My thoughts are that we are headed for a close that would be targeted below the close in 2013.  At the end of last year gold closed just above $1,200.  It certainly appears there is a desire by Western central planners to see gold finish this year below that number.

They will then run headlines in the mainstream media that gold continues to be in a bear market.   So the trading itself will be volatile but what I will be looking for is real difficulty in getting gold in size.  In other words the kind of size in physical gold that you need to satisfy sovereign orders and the mega wealthy….

The Hong Kong hedge fund manager went on to precict a banner year for the gold market:  "As we see geopolitical tensions intensify, this would portend a flight to safety.  Also, countries such as Russia, who feel they are being encircled, as well as wealthy individuals who, responding to the geopolitical uncertainty, will want to increase their exposure to the ultimate safe haven asset — gold.
So I think gold will be very well bid as we get into 2015 as the geopolitical as well as the market tensions intensify.  We will also see increased volatility which should be very negative for equity markets.   
But for the time being gold is leaving the vaults in the West and quickly being sent where it is needed so that the acute shortages or strains in the system are not allowed to intensify, and for the moment have even decreased a bit.
But I think when gold starts to move and there are shortages in the system it will be very hard to project how high the price of gold will rise.  One of the interesting features about gold is that once it starts to develop a new leg of this secular bull market — the climax leg — it will start to build on its own momentum.
Gold is one of those asset classes that begins to excite new bidders as it builds on its own momentum.  Part of the problem gold has had in starting any kind of sustainable rally since 2011 is that any rallies have been nipped in the bud and gold has been unable to establish any kind of sustainable momentum..."


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Real Crisis Will Be North of $100 Trillion

"The 2008 crash was a warm up.

Many investors think that the markets could never have a crash again. They think that the 2008 meltdown was a one in 100 years crisis.

They are wrong.

The 2008 Crisis was a stock and investment bank crisis. But it was not THE Crisis. THE Crisis concerns the biggest bubble in financial history: the epic Bond bubble…

If you need proof that bonds are in a truly epic bubble… one that will implode the financial system when it breaks… consider that half of ALL government bonds in the world currently yield less than 1%.

What is clear is that the world has become addicted to central bank stimulus. Bank of America said 56pc of global GDP is currently supported by zero interest rates, and so are 83pc of the free-floating equities on global bourses. Half of all government bonds in the world yield less that 1pc. Roughly 1.4bn people are experiencing negative rates in one form or another.

These are astonishing figures, evidence of a 1930s-style depression, albeit one that is still contained. Nobody knows what will happen as the Fed tries to break out of the stimulus trap, including Fed officials themselves.

Why are yields this low?

Because, by holdings interest rates at zero or even negative, global Central Banks have forced investors to pile into bonds in search of yield (stocks are too risky for many of the largest pools of capital).

When investors pile into bonds, bonds rally, which drives yields lower. This has been reinforced by the fact that Central Banks have been engaging in or promising QE (buying Government debt) consistently for the last five years. So investors have been front-running the Fed and other Central Banks.

After all… if you know a Central Bank will buy your bond at a price that is higher from where the market prices it… you effectively know there is a “bigger fool” waiting in the wings.

The end result?

The bond bubble today is over $100 trillion. When you include the derivatives that trade based on bondsit’s more like $500 TRILLION. And it’s growing by trillions of dollars every month (the US issued $1 trillion in new debt in the last 8 weeks alone)..."


Russia Contagion Spreads To European Banks : French SocGen, Austrian Raiffeisen Plummet

"We recently noted the rise of counterparty risks in the financial system due to oil prices dropping (and leveraged derivative exposures) but as the Russia situation has deteriorated so dramatically this week, a renewed focus on bank exposures has sent stocks reeling (and credit risk soaring) among many European (and US) banks. As Bloomberg reports, Raiffeisen Bank International and Societe Generale, the European banks with most at stake in Russia, led European lenders lower. Raiffeisen fell as much as 10.3% to 11.40 euros in Vienna, the lowest level since it went public in 2005. Societe Generale dropped as much as 7.3% to 31.85 euros, hitting the lowest intraday level since August 2013. CDS markets for both also exploded with Raffeisen risk at 27 month highs. As one analyst noted, "There remains a huge amount of uncertainty at this juncture, but the key point is that there are no benign scenarios." While not on the same scale, US bank risk has also widened signicantly in recent weeks (despite equity strength).
Credity risk is surging..."


This Shocking Admission Has Just Rocked The Gold Market

"“Here is the key quote for the move to close down the gold business: ‘Gunvor executives decided to abandon the precious metals trading business partly because of difficulties in finding steady supplies of gold where the origin could be well documented.’
It is of course hard to identify gold’s origin when central banks are surreptitiously involved in the gold market, and when central planners work hard at keeping their activity secret. Central planners always want to work behind closed doors. The reason they give for this desire for secrecy is just plain silly.
Central planners claim that secrecy is essential so that markets are not disrupted, which is not only misleading but totally spurious. The disruption to the market process that arises from the interventions of central planners is far worse than that would occur by disclosing to the public what they are doing and when they are doing it, which actually explains the real reason for their secrecy. 
They know their (central bank) interventions are self-serving. Their actions are not beneficial to the general public. These interventions are solely aimed at perpetuating the grip over the economy held by central planners.
They are of course assisted in this task by the big banks, those that are supposedly too-big-to-fail no matter how badly they are managed or how corrupt they are. These banks are not allowed to fail because the central planners need these banks to facilitate the interventions of central planners, particularly in the gold market.
Only a select number of bullion banks acting as agents for governments know the name of the central banks that are the the true source of physical metal passing through the system as gold flows from Western central banks to Asia. Central planners are selling the family jewels.
What’s worse, they are trying to do it in secret, so that even a big commodity house does not know where the gold bars are coming from.
So here we have a big trading house leaving the market because they cannot establish identity of bars, and therefore do not want to be held accountable and accused of money laundering. But these bars are not held by oligarchs. The oligarchs are buyers of gold, not sellers. The selling comes from the central planners, and today is a case in point.
There is a concerted effort underway to get back gold back $1200. Can the central planners force gold back below $1200 again? We will see soon enough, but any physical gold they are putting into the market is immediately getting scooped up at these highly discounted and manipulated prices, with much of it being shipped to Asia. So go the gold, so goes the power. The West is only succeeding in destroying itself.”


Monday, December 15, 2014

Repatriation Contagion: Austria May Recall 225 Tons of Gold From BOE, is France Next?


China Causing Massive Worry For Gold Shorts But Watch Silver

"Today an acclaimed money manager told King World News that China is causing massive worry for the gold shorts, but also said investors need to keep an eye on silver because it’s headed to triple-digits.  Stephen Leeb also discussed the fact that gold is heading back into the world monetary system..."


Is The Madness Of The Elites Pushing The World To The Brink?

"On the heels of continued chaos around the globe and with many stock markets seeing dramatically increased volatility, today a 40-year market veteran sent King World News a powerful piece that answers the ominous question: Is the madness of the elites pushing the world to the brink?  Below is what Robert Fitzwilson, founder of The Portola Group, had to say in this exclusive piece for King World News..."


Legend Says Despite Recent Weakness, Gold Price Set To Soar

"Today a legend who was recently asked by the Chinese government to give a speech to government officials in China told King World News that despite the recent weakness, the gold market may be set up for a massive surge to the upside.  John Ing, who has been in the business for 43 years, also spoke about what catalysts will send the gold price soaring as well as a big surprise for the mining sector.

Ing:  “It’s the classic tug-of-war between the physical market and the paper market.  And I believe, Eric, that the dramatic turnaround in gold about ten days ago was a classic short squeeze....

“When the Swiss vote was rejected, as many of us expected, Hong Kong and some of the hedge funds sold short on that Sunday night (Monday morning Asian trading).  Well, Monday they came in and there was a scramble for physical gold.  That caused the shorts to be on the wrong side and thus we had a major bottom for gold.

The action to date in the face of the oil price collapsing to a 5-year low is raising the thought of, ‘Here we go again, even as there is stress in the financial markets.’  A lot of our banks are big derivative players.  They have been perennially on the wrong side of the market and they are definitely on the wrong side in the collapse in oil.

So the oil shock and credit contagion as well as the currency war that we’ve talked about are all contributing to the positive action in gold.  $1,260 is a level that I am watching because if gold can break above that level before Christmas, my anticipation is that we will start to see moves of more than $100 in the price of gold.

Also, the beneficial aspect of the lower oil price for the gold industry is enormous.  Oil is the number one input cost in the mining sector and the price has collapsed.  The latest quarterly earnings from the mining sector showed a lot of them got their ‘all-in’ costs under control.  Well, the major part of those costs are energy related.

What is now happening is the crash in oil prices is going to have a tremendously beneficial impact on some of these gold producers.  Even for those who have hedged oil costs, they will still see the positive impact in 2015.  Regardless, this will be a huge savings for the gold industry.

For example, Barrick Gold spent something like $1.5 billion for energy alone last year.  Well, in 2010 that number was around $1 billion.  So the lower energy costs will amount to a massive savings for the producers across the board.  This is something that the mining industry has not talked about but we will start seeing the positive impact of this in the first quarter.  This bodes extremely well for the mining sector, which has already been tightening their belts.  So this could not come at a better time for the producers.”


Friday, December 12, 2014

Putin: nuclear deals set Russia, India on new course for partnership

"NEW DELHI, December 11. /TASS/. Long-term partnership between Russia and India lies ahead in the wake of major deals in nuclear engineering, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Thursday.

Putin spoke as he reviewed contracts confirmed to build a second line of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant and a draft of other joint ventures.
The sides have agreed to build more than 20 nuclear power units in India, and cooperate in joint uranium production, nuclear waste disposal and construction of other nuclear facilities designed by Russia.
“We are paving the way for long-term, true and mutually beneficial cooperation,” Putin said, noting the creation of a new industry for the country..."


$550 Billion Energy Junk Bond Bubble Busts; "Whac-A-Mole" Distortions in Multiple Markets

"The energy junk bond bubble has finally popped. Falling crude prices were the catalyst. Junk bonds of Energy XXI Ltd. plunged to 64 cents on the dollar from 106.3 cents since September. They now yield over 27%. Energy XXI Ltd. raised over $2 billion.

Energy production is extremely capital intense, and often accompanied by negative free cash flow.

Recently I have been getting numerous cold-calls, nearly all of them energy related. These companies need money, and snake-oil salesmen attempt to get it for them.   

Energy investment added to GDP since 2010, with $550 billion in bond and loan offerings. Energy will now have a negative impact on GDP as funding dries up. And if oil prices do not head back up, expect outright defaults, and lots of them. This is what happens when bubbles burst..."

Will This Disaster Be The Catalyst For $10,000 Gold?

"With continued unprecedented trading action across the globe, today King World News spoke with the man who recently had a fireside chat with billionaire Frank Giustra.  On the heels of his recent meeting with Giustra, he discussed a nightmare scenario that he expects will be the catalyst for global panic and $10,000 gold.

Egon on Greyerz:  “Eric, we have a world of record low or even negative interest rates and of record debts.  This combination of high debts and low interest rates breaks every economic law that exists.  We must not believe that this situation will be allowed to last for another 5 years because we will see interest rates at 20 percent in most countries...."


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Israel ‘completely responsible’ for death of Palestinian minister – PA government

"Thousands of people gathered at the funeral of the Palestinian minister, who died shortly after Israeli-Palestinian clashes on Wednesday. The parties to the conflict came up with contradictory reports after his autopsy.
As thousands of Palestinians mourned 55-year-old Ziad Abu Ein, a senior official, in Ramallah, there were clashes with the Israeli police around the West Bank.

Ehab Bessaiso, a spokesman for the autonomous government gave a press conference on Thursday. According to AFP, he said: “After the results of the autopsy, the Palestinian government holds Israel completely responsible for the death of Ziad Abu Ein.”


Asian demand for crude to drive switch to renminbi

"The increasing demand for crude in Asian countries such as China was enough reason for the region to prepare to pay for trade in the Chinese currency renminbi (RMB), an HSBC official said.
Georges Elhedery, HSBC head, Global Banking and Markets (Mena), noted that the region was slow to adopt RMB since trade between the Middle East and China was still highly dependent on the greenback.
“The Middle East has been slow in adopting RMB but we’re starting to see a shift in the region towards the Chinese currency,” Elhedery told Gulf Times in a meeting with reporters at the HSBC offices in Doha.

He explained that minimal oil and gas exports to the West have made the region dependent on Eastern buyers such as South Korea, Japan, and China, which was critical in setting the international price of crude.
Elhedery stressed that the income of the region from energy reserves depended on China’s economic performance. “Considering how China fares would also be reflected soon in their currency as it becomes free-floating,” the HSBC official said..."


U.S. army may station tanks in Eastern Europe

"The U.S. Army plans to deploy about 150 tanks and armored vehicles to NATO countries next year and some of the heavy armor may be stationed in Eastern Europe, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, Commander of U.S. Army Europe, said on Tuesday.
The move is part of a U.S. effort dubbed “Operation Atlantic Resolve” in the Baltic states and Poland to reassure allies anxious about a resurgent Russia, with American troops deploying for several months at a time to conduct joint exercises.
Nearly 50 armored vehicles are already in place and another 100 “M1 Abrams” tanks and “Bradley” fighting vehicles will be pre-positioned in Germany and possibly elsewhere for the U.S. troops conducting drills with NATO partners, Hodges told AFP in a phone interview from Estonia.
“The troops will come over and train, and they’ll go back. The equipment will stay behind,” Hodges said..."


China opens second land port in Nepal to boost trade with South Asia

"In a major boost for bilateral trade between China and Nepal, a second cross-border trading route has come into operation in Tibet, allowing the communist trading giant to expand its trade with South Asia.

China yesterday officially opened the Gyirong Port on the Rasuwagadhi border in Nepal, the second land route for bilateral trade, state-run media reported.

“It will further help both sides facilitate bilateral trade and boost tourism and cooperation,” said Zhang Hongbo, Deputy Party chief of Xigaze prefecture in the Tibetautonomous region, where the port is located.

For long, the Tatopani border served as the sole trade route between China and Nepal.

“Operation of the port means a solid foundation for China to build the South Asia trading area and it will help to promote trade between China and South Asian countries in the near future,” said Su Yuanming, director of the Port Administrative Office of Tibet..."


The Pentagon Is Considering Redeploying Nuclear Missiles In Europe To Counter Putin

"The Pentagon is considering the re-deployment of nuclear cruise missiles in Europe in response to a new Russian cruise missile that the United States has charged violates a 1987 nuclear treaty, a senior Pentagon official told Congress on Wednesday.
Brian P. McKeon, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said US cruise missile deployments are among a range of options being considered if Russian fails to return to compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty..."


These 7 Men Owned The Company Linked To CIA Torture

"Reverse-Engineering Torture
Most of the owners of Mitchell, Jessen & Associates previously worked with the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program, which trains American service members to survive and resist interrogation by enemy forces. In this program, they worked with soldiers who survived being captured and abused in foreign countries. The SERE trainers studied the effects of this torture. They also engaged in role-playing scenarios in which they taught soldiers to face these techniques. 
Participation in the SERE program gave the owners of Mitchell, Jessen & Associates firsthand experience in identifying which torture techniques were most effective and the psychology behind them. The CIA later reverse-engineered these tactics to use on terrorism suspects at so-called black sites placed in foreign countries outside of US legal jurisdiction, because the practices employed during these "enhanced" interrogations were clearly prohibited by US law.
In 2011, Truthout obtained a series of handwritten notes it said were written by Dr. John Bruce Jessen, who Business Insider has learned was the president of Mitchell, Jessen & Associates. In these notes, written during his time working at the SERE program, Jessen described what he referred to as the "psychological aspects of detention."
CIA JessenCIAA diagram showing conflicting psychological pressures on a prisoner, included in a paper written by Dr. Bruce Jessen.
Jessen's notes described how torture could be effective and gave US soldiers strategies to withstand abuse. He warned detainers would "manipulate and control your external environment almost at will." These notes outlined some of the same strategies CIA interrogators would later use on terrorism suspects at black sites, where the Senate report said detainees were subjected to loud rock music and severe cold temperatures..."


Charts Show 28 Seriously Troubled Mega-Banks: 24 of them in Europe

"I have been saying for years that European banks are in far worse shape than US banks. We can now show that in chart form thanks to Ophir Gottlieb, CEO of Capital Market Labs.

Let's start with a visualization of the day: Worldwide Mega Cap Banks: Is Europe in Crisis? 
 If we take all of the banks in the world with market caps larger than $25 billion USD and then plot them with total assets on the x-axis and non-performing loans as a percentage of total loans, ALL of the top eleven are in Europe.

Click on any chart in this post for a sharper image.

Severe European Bank Crisis

Ophir Gottlieb expanded on the European bank crisis idea in this guest MarketWatch post yesterday: Opinion: European banks are Stuck in a Severe Crisis
 Big banks in Europe are riskier than anywhere else in the world.

They have higher non-performing loans, greater asset shrinkage, larger losses and higher debt-to-equity ratios. And European banks are bracing for even worse loan losses.

It’s the combination of those characteristics that lead to a crisis, and the eurozone essentially is in one today. 
Non-performing loans over total loans

There are 200 banks in the world with market values of more than $5 billion, 48 of which are in Europe. The chart below plots non-performing loans over total loans on the y-axis and market capitalization (or value) on the x-axis for that population of banks.

If we take the population of world banks greater than $5 billion in market capitalization and select those with non-performing loans over total loans that are greater than 5% (worse than the Bank of America/Countrywide/Merrill Lynch combination), we are left with 24 banks. Twenty-one of those are in Europe.


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