This post was published at World Alternative Media
Authored by Tom Luongo,
For most of this year I’ve been wondering what would the spark that would set off a banking panic in the European Union.
I know, but what do I do for fun, right?
I’ve chronicled the political breakdown of the EU, from Brexit to Catalonia to Germany’s bitch-slapping Angela Merkel at the ballot box. All of these things have been open rebukes of EU leadership and it’s insane neoliberal push towards the destruction of national sovereignty and identity.
And what has propped up this slow train-wreck to this point has been the world’s financial markets inherent need to believe in the relative infallibility of its central bankers.
Because without competent people operating the levers of monetary policy, this whole thing loses confidence faster than you can say, ‘Bank run.’
The confluence of these things with the big changes happening politically here at home with President Trump are creating the environment for big trend changes to begin unfolding.
And, as always, you have to look to the sovereign bond and credit markets to see what’s coming.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Thu, 12/28/2017 –.
In August 1914, Europe’s major powers threw themselves into war with gleeful abandon. Germany, a rising power with vast aspirations, plowed across Belgium, seeking to checkmate France quickly before Russia could mobilize, thereby averting the prospect of a two-front war. Thousands of young Germans, anticipating a six-week conflict, boarded troop trains singing the optimistic refrain: ‘Ausflug nach Paris. Auf Widersehen auf dem Boulevard.’ (‘Excursion to Paris. See you again on the Boulevard.’)
The French were eager to avenge the loss of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany in 1870. The British government, leery of Germany’s growing power, mobilized hundreds of thousands of young men to ‘teach the Hun a lesson.’ Across the continent, writes British historian Simon Rees, ‘millions of servicemen, reservists and volunteers … rushed enthusiastically to the banners of war…. The atmosphere was one of holiday rather than conflict.’
Each side expected to be victorious by Christmas. But as December dawned, the antagonists found themselves mired along the Western Front – a static line of trenches running for hundreds of miles through France and Belgium. At some points along the Front, combatants were separated by less than 100 feet. Their crude redoubts were little more than large ditches scooped out of miry, whitish-gray soil. Ill-equipped for winter, soldiers slogged through brackish water that was too cold for human comfort, but too warm to freeze.
The unclaimed territory designated No Man’s Land was littered with the awful residue of war – expended ammunition and the lifeless bodies of those on whom the ammunition had been spent. The mortal remains of many slain soldiers could be found grotesquely woven into barbed wire fences. Villages and homes lay in ruins. Abandoned churches had been appropriated for use as military bases.
This post was published at Mises Canada on DECEMBER 27, 2017.
While the establishment may breathe a sigh of relief looking back at political developments and events in Europe – which was spared some of the supposedly “worst-case scenarios” including a Marine le Pen presidency, a Merkel loss and a Geert Wilders victory – in 2017, any victory laps will have to be indefinitely postponed because as Goldman writes in its “Top of Mind” peek at 2018, Europe’s nationalist and populist tide was just resting, and as Pascal Lamy, the former Chief of Staff to the President of the European Commission admitted earlier this year, “Euroskeptic politicians are largely following the pulse of domestic sentiment. The fact is that the public is less enthusiastic about Europe than it once was.”
Echoing the sentiment by the europhile, Goldman’s Allison Nathan writes that while the Euro area’s most immediate political risks – i.e., populist or euroskeptic parties winning key elections this year – did not materialize, these movements have continued to gain traction.
In the Dutch elections in March, the far-right Party for Freedom performed worse than polls had once predicted, but still increased its share of the vote relative to the 2012 elections. It remains the second-largest party in parliament. In France, concerns about the prospect of Marine Le Pen winning the presidency gave way to optimism over Emmanuel Macron’s reform agenda; nonetheless, Le Pen posted the best-ever showing for her party in a presidential race. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU-CSU retained the largest number of seats in the Bundestag, but the far-right Alternative fr Deutschland (AfD) entered it for the first time with 13% of the vote. And elsewhere in Europe, populist parties on various parts of the political spectrum performed well enough to participate in government coalitions; indeed, an anti-establishment candidate in the Czech Republic recently became prime minister Some other observations and lessons from recent European events in the twilight days of 2017:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.
“A period of tension ensued, for the Danish population in general and its Jewish citizens in particular. Danish policy sought to ensure its independence and neutrality by placating the neighboring Nazi regime. After Denmark was occupied by Germany following Operation Weserbung on April 9, 1940, the situation became increasingly precarious.
In 1943, the situation came to a head when Werner Best, the German plenipotentiary in Denmark ordered the arrest and deportation of all Danish Jews, scheduled to commence on October 1, which coincided with Rosh Hashanah. However, the Jewish community was given advance warning, and only 202 were arrested initially. As it turned out, 7,550 fled to Sweden, ferried across the resund strait. 500 Jews were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. In the course of their incarceration, Danish authorities often interceded on their behalf, as they did for other Danes in German custody, sending food.
Of the 500 Jews who were deported, approximately 50 died during deportation. Danes rescued the rest and they returned to Denmark in what was regarded as a patriotic duty against the Nazi occupation. Many of non-Jewish Danes protected their Jewish neighbors’ property and homes while they were gone.”
Lidegaard, Bo. Guarding Denmark’s Jewish Heritage, The New York Times, 26 February 2015
This post was published at Jesses Crossroads Cafe on 23 DECEMBER 2017.
Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review,
Poland, one of the most loyal EU members, was just stabbed in the back by Brussels after the bloc initiated punitive Article 7 proceedings against it, proving that Warsaw’s unwavering loyalty to the West was worthless this entire time and thus giving Poles a reason to reconsider whether it’s time that they attempted to restore their long-lost Great Power status in Europe.
Many Poles were shocked to hear that Brussels had begun the process to sanction their country, despite knowing in the back of their minds all along that this was a very probable scenario. The EU had been warning Poland for months now that it wouldn’t tolerate the ruling Law & Justice party’s (PiS) judicial reforms, labelling them as ‘anti-democratic’ in spite of the same envisioned changes already being in place in many Western European countries. All that PiS wants to do is make it so that judges are accountable to the people, not to one another, and break the backs of the communist-era clique that still controls the country’s courts. This is crucial in the modern context because PiS follows a EuroRealist ideology that aspires to improve Poland’s sovereign standing in the EU, a vision which is directly at odds with EU-hegemon Germany’s EuroLiberalism that instead wants all member states to be subservient to an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels.
EuroRealism vs. EuroLiberalism
The matter is an urgent one for Poland because PiS’ Civic Platform (PO) predecessors stacked the courts with their allies before leaving power after the ruling party won the first-ever post-communist electoral majority in the country’s history in 2015. PO’s former leader is the current President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and he and his organization are popularly regarded as Germany’s proxies in Poland. PiS, on the other hand, is allied with Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, with which it shares a strident belief in the conservative ideology of EuroRealism. It had long been the case that EuroLiberalism was on the ascent in Europe ever since the end of the Cold War, but the 2008 global economic recession and the 2015 Migrant Crisis sparked a grassroots movement all across Central and Eastern Europe which has seen the rapid rise of EuroRealism.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 23, 2017.
While the American press keeps pushing the class warfare along with the Democrats, outside the USA there is a major panic taking place on a grand scale. I have been called into meeting in Europe and even in Asia all deeply concerned about the loss of competition with the United States due to the Trump Tax Reform. Naturally, the American press would NEVER tell the truth how cutting the corporate tax rate will upset the powers that be around the globe.
A German study warns that its economy will be among the losers in the face of the Trump Tax Reform, which they warn will fuel the tax competition between America and Europe, but also the study leader, Christoph Spengel from the Economic Research Institute ZEW, came out and told Reuters:
‘In addition, competition between EU members for US investment will increase; Germany is the loser.’
This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 22, 2017.
My recent meetings in Brussels reveals some concern what happens when Merkel loses power? Schultz is calling for the complete federalization of Europe – the United States of Europe as he puts it. The power is starting to slip between their fingers and as Italy approaches its confrontation with the EU in the next elections, there too we see the Social Democratic ruling party PD is losing its support in the same manner as the SPD in Germany.
Now with only a few weeks before the expected dissolution of the Italian parliament before the new elections, the PD is already down to only a 23.4% approval rating. The Socialist agenda is losing around the world just as Hillary lost in the States as did Schultz in Germany.
This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 21, 2017.
No one else I know can muster as much deep experience and insight into the sprawling, incendiary world of geopolitics as my good friend George Friedman, founder and chairman of Geopolitical Futures; and in today’s Outside the Box – part 2 of my 8-part SIC Speaker Series – George brings all his powers to bear to issue quite a declamatory statement on the present and future of the European Union.
George’s argument can be summarized as ‘the center cannot hold.’ With Brexiteers on its western front and unruly right-wingers on its eastern wing in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, the EU is sore beset. But as George notes, the center is quietly debating whether that might not be a good thing:
There has been some talk in the central region of either creating a separate union consisting of Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, or creating a bloc within the existing bloc. The point would be for these countries to stop being responsible for countries not ready to operate at the center’s level of performance. It would mean that southern Europe, with its economic problems, and Eastern Europe, with its distinctly different political culture, could go their own way.
That is what I would call a desperate conversation. Far from ever achieving a ‘United States of Europe,’ the EU members will be lucky (or maybe not so much) if they can retain their economic union. George agrees, and he has concluded that dissolution is inevitable:
This post was published at Mauldin Economics on DECEMBER 20, 2017.
Perhaps it is recency bias playing its tricks, but Treasury and Bund yields curves are steepening dramatically for the second day in a row, this time dragged higher by comments on longer-term issuance plans from Germany.
As always, German and US yield curves are moving in sync with a notable steepening again – the biggest 2-day steepening since Trump was elected.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.
A fundamental requirement for lasting peace and prosperity is to reject government by coercive monopolies such as we have had for all of human history. How anyone can expect a government invested with a monopoly on violence to restrain itself from bullying people whenever it can get away with it is difficult to understand. Most people apparently refuse to explore alternatives to statism and hope their particular government doesn’t go the way of Zimbabwe or Venezuela – or Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.
As I’ve detailed in my book The Fall of Tyranny, The Rise of Liberty we have two strong trends working in our favor: the inevitable blowup of state finances, coupled with the exponential growth of digital technologies. The result of these forces – state bankruptcy and exponential tech growth – will put individuals and voluntary associations front and center in everyday life.
Recently, and paradoxically, mankind’s number one futurist Ray Kurzweil has predicted that nation states will become the horse and buggy of our future, while assuring the world a universal basic income (UBI) will emerge from the sick beds of declining states. Come again? Kurzweil and his billionaire pal Mark Zuckerberg, who’s also touting a UBI and saying ‘People like me should pay for it,’ ought to look more closely at their positions.
The exponential pace of technology is evolving into a merger of humans with their technology as miniaturization on an atomic scale enables an enhancement or replacement of our biological substrate. As Kurzweil notes in The Singularity is Near, ‘all of these technologies quickly become so inexpensive as to become almost free.’ Humans enhanced with nanotech won’t need a UBI even if states were able to provide it.
This post was published at GoldSeek on Sunday, 17 December 2017.
First it was the Chinese, now it’s the Europeans, as the rest of the world is suddenly very unhappy with the prospect of US tax reform (or maybe it is an unexpectedly strong US economy). As we discussed yesterday, with the historic Trump tax reforms on the verge of passage and the Fed’s dot plot signalling another 7-8 rate hikes (soon to be revised much lower), China is nervous that the capital outflows, which it thought it had bottled up, might be about to return. China is preparing a contingency plan which includes ‘higher interest rates, tighter capital controls and more-frequent currency intervention to keep money at home and support the yuan’.
Amusingly, the Wall Street Journal quoted a Chinese official who described Washington’s tax plan as a ‘gray rhino’. The latter is a combination of an ‘elephant in the room’ and a ‘black swan’, i.e. a high probability threat which people should see coming, but don’t. The focal point of China’s fears is the Yuan, which the authorities have spent so much time and effort stabilising during the last two years. Speaking to the WSJ, the Chinese official sounded a warning: ‘We’ll likely have some tough battles in the first quarter.’
Switching to Europe and five European finance ministers have sent a letter criticising the US for undermining the ‘rules of the game’ and international trade. Notwithstanding Brexit, the signatories included the UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, as well as his counterparts in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Essentially, the European nations are warning the US that it risks starting a trade dispute.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.
U. S. equity index futures pointed to early gains and fresh record highs, following Asian markets higher, as European shares were mixed and oil was little changed, although it is unclear if anyone noticed with bitcoin stealing the spotlight, after futures of the cryptocurrency began trading on Cboe Global Markets.
In early trading, European stocks struggled for traction, failing to capitalize on gains for their Asian counterparts after another record close in the U. S. on Friday. On Friday, the S&P 500 index gained 0.6% to a new record after the U. S. added more jobs than forecast in November and the unemployment rate held at an almost 17-year low. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 reclaimed a 26-year high as stocks in Tokyo closed higher although amid tepid volumes. Equities also gained in Hong Kong and China. Most European bonds rose and the euro climbed. Sterling slipped as some of the promises made to clinch a breakthrough Brexit deal last week started to fray.
‘Strong jobs U. S. data is giving investors reason to buy equities,’ said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank Inc. ‘The better-than-expected jobs number supports the outlook that there is a synchronized global economic upturn led by the U. S.”
The dollar drifted and Treasuries steadied as investor focus turned from US jobs to this week’s central bank meetings. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index pared early gains as losses for telecom and utilities shares offset gains for miners and banks. Tech stocks were again pressured, with Dialog Semiconductor -4.1%, AMS -1.9%, and Temenos -1.7% all sliding. Volume on the Stoxx 600 was about 17% lower than 30-day average at this time of day, with trading especially thin in Germany and France.
The dollar dipped 0.1 percent to 93.801 against a basket of major currencies, pulling away from a two-week high hit on Friday.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.
The rationale for creating WeWork, the eco-friendly serviced workspace provider, was simple as co-founder Adam Neumann explained to the New York Daily News.
‘During the economic crises, there were these empty buildings and these people freelancing or starting companies. I knew there was a way to match the two. What separates us, though, is community.’ It wasn’t a bad idea since the company was recently valued at $20 billion. The first WeWork location was established in New York’s fashionable SoHo district (above) in 2010. Only four years later, Wikipedia notes that WeWork was the ‘fastest growing lessee of new office space in New York’. The company currently manages office space in 23 cities across the United States and in 21 other countries including China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, France, Germany and the UK.
WeWork’s growth has been little short of stratospheric, and investors have included heavyweight financial names such as JP Morgan. T. Rowe Price, Goldman, Wellington Management and Softbank. As Bloomberg reports, WeWork is about to repeat its success in New York and other cities by becoming the largest private lessee of office space in London. However, some old-school property developers are predicting that WeWork’s break-neck expansion is ill-timed.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 8, 2017.
Apparently German government officials have finally woken up to the realization that it’s utterly ridiculous to use tax revenue generated primarily from middle and low-income households to fund subsidy payments to rich people buying $100,000 luxury sports cars. As Business Standard notes this morning, the German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Controls announced that it will no longer subsidize the Tesla Model S as it can not be delivered in a configuration that meets the 60,000 euro price limit.
A German government agency has removed Tesla’s Model S from the list of electric cars eligible for subsidies because it is not available in a version that falls within a 60,000 euro ($71,448) price limit. Tesla customers could not order the Model S without extra features that pushed the price of the car above the limit, a spokesman for the German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Controls (BAFA) said on Friday.
German magazine Auto Bild had reported that BAFA was looking into the issue and could take Tesla off the eligibility list.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 1, 2017.
Once France was one of ‘the great powers’, dominating Europe and parts of the world in terms of culture and economy. The country’s demise started after the Second World War, though it still played a key role in the creation of the European Union and the euro, which was to prevent Germany from subjugating the rest of the continent.
However, this strategy has failed and Berlin has become Europe’s capital, with France’s importance ever dwindling.
France’s population is slowly being substituted for by people from Africa. Renaud Camus calls it the ‘grand replacement’. Paris, once a European, then a global is slowly turning into an African metropolis. If French elites, whose influence in Europe is fading, want to remain a world power, they can only opt for Africa. Qaddafi, the king of the kings, became a threat to France’s interests on the continent. It were not the Americans that pushed for Qaddafi’s replacement but the French elites.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 1, 2017.
US equity futures continued their push higher into record territory overnight (ES +0.1%), and the VIX is 1.5% lower and back under 10, after yesterday’s blistering surge in US stocks which jumped 1%, the most since Sept. 11, following Powell’s deregulation promise, ahead of today’s 2nd estimate of U. S. Q3 GDP which is expected to be revised up. U. S. Senate Budget Committee sent the tax bull to the full chamber to vote, and on Wednesday Senators are expected to vote to begin debating the bill. It wasn’t just the S&P: MSCI’s all-country world index was at yet another record peak after all four major Wall Street indexes notched up new highs on Tuesday. Finally, completing the trifecta of records, and the biggest mover of the overnight session by far, was bitcoin which topped $10,000 in a buying frenzy which saw it go from $9,000 to $10,000 in one day, and which is on its way to rising above $11,000 just hours later.
In macro, the dollar steadies as interbank traders and hedge funds fade its rally this week; today’s major event will be testimony by outgoing Fed chair Janet Yellen after Powell said there is no sign of an overheating economy; the euro has rallied on strong German regional inflation while pound surges on Brexit bill deal news; yields on 10-year gilts climb amid broad bond weakness; stocks rise while commodities trade mixed.
In Asia, equity markets were mixed for a bulk of the session as the early euphoria from the rally in US somewhat petered out as China woes persisted (recovered in the latter stages of trade). ASX 200 (+0.5%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.5%) traded higher. Korea’s KOSPI was cautious following the missile launch from North Korea, while Shanghai Comp. (+0.1%) and Hang Seng (+-0.2%) initially remained dampened on continued deleveraging and regulatory concerns before paring losses into the latter stages of trade. Notably, China’s PPT emerged again with Chinese stock markets rallied in late trade, with the CSI 300 Index of mainly large-cap stocks paring a drop of as much as 1.3% to close 0.1% lower. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.1%, swinging up from a 0.8% loss, with property and materials companies among the biggest gainers on the mainland. The Shanghai Stock Exchange Property Index surged 3.8%, the most since August 2016. The Shenzhen Composite Index was little changed, after a 1.2% decline, while the ChiNext gauge retreated 0.4%, paring a 1.5% loss. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index was little changed as of 3 p.m. local time, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index fell 0.3%Stocks in Europe gained, following equities from the U. S. to Asia higher as optimism over U. S. tax reform and euro-area economic growth overshadowed concerns about North Korea’s latest missile launch. The Stoxx 600 gained 0.8%, reaching a one-week high and testing its 50-DMA. Germany’s DAX, France’s CAC, Milan and Madrid were all up between 0.5 and 0.7% and MSCI’s all-country world index was at yet another record peak after all four major Wall Street indexes notched up new highs on Tuesday. ‘It seems to me markets are still trading on the theory that the glass is half full,’ said fund manager Hermes’ chief economist Neil Williams.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 29, 2017.
Blain’s Morning Porridge – November 27th 2017, submitted by Bill Blain of Mint Partners
Germany – not solved and likely to prove an even larger problem..
‘El castillo, le torre yo soy, le espada que guarda el caudal.
Another massive shopping day – Cyber Monday. Let’s see if the declining footprint into US malls confirms the end of retail and tomorrow belongs to Amazon, Ebay and Tencent? Suspect so… (Personally, I’m furious as I bought a new evening suit recently and picked it up Friday to discover even a proper West-end tailor was having a ‘black Friday sale’. I won’t be going back there again!)
Looks like I got Germany wrong.
My predictions Angela Merkel would find herself trapped into a difficult minority or a convention defying second election look increasing unlikely as she is now threshing out a ‘Grand Coalition’ CDU deal with the SDP. My ‘bad’. The membership of both parties apparently support it. I read a single member of her own party who dared to call for her resignation was subsequently booed down by the mob of enthusiastic Merkelistas.
The market is welcoming the news as far more positive for Germany than the earlier Jamaica Coalition, and positive for Europe as a reinvigorated Merkel will re-engage with Macron’s France to solve Europe’s many problems with sprinklings of German good-fairy dust.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 27, 2017.
Authord by Alastair Crooke via The Automatic Earth blog,
Robert Kagan first called attention to the fact that America would need to awake from its ‘dream’ a decade ago in End of Dreams: The Return of History, and would have to manage the rise of ‘other’ powers, (some greater than others), with adroitness, if it were to avoid a bad road-crash as emerging competitors clashed with the waning dominant power.
This meant that the US no longer would be able to assert its will everywhere, and on everything – and would have to give ground – especially to China and Russia. ‘There’s going to have to be some very painful horse trading’, historian Sir Max Hastings suggests, adding that its pain will be none the less traumatic, since – like Germany after WW1 – America, does not feel itself defeated: Quite the converse, it sees itself having emerged from the Cold War wholly vindicated: in terms of its societal, governmental and capitalist models.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 25, 2017.