House Passes Tax-Reform Bill – 12 Republicans, All Democrats Vote Against

Here are the House Republicans who voted against the tax bill, which of course raises the question: With his NO vote, what secret message was Rohrabacher sending to Putin & Assange? pic.twitter.com/B66BY0uIZC
— Ira Goldman (@KDbyProxy) December 19, 2017

After more than six weeks of frenzied negotiations, the House of Representatives has passed the reconciled version of President Donald Trump’s tax plan, leaving only one major hurdle between Republicans and their biggest legislative accomplishment of the Trump era.
In a 227-203 vote, the House passed the tax plan over united Democratic opposition, as well as a flurry of ‘no’ votes from blue-state Republicans who spoke out against provisions in the bill that eliminate deductions for state and local taxesthat will disproportionately impact taxpayers in high-tax states like California and New York. Ultimately, 12 Republicans joined 191 Democrats in voting against the bill.
The vote followed an empassioned debate with Democrats – who labeled the bill the White House “tax scam” – slamming the bill as an attempt to establish a “permanent plutocracy.” Republicans countered that it would benefit all Americans, and evidence of its sanguine impact on the economy would emerge over the next year.
The contentious debate that preceded the vote was interrupted several times by protesters, including people who shouted “kill the bill, don’t kill us!” The Hill pointed out that one of the protesters was a woman in a wheelchair who said she relies on Medicaid and warned that the bill would “starve” the public.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.

What You’re Not Being Told About The Real Economy

The year 2000 was a transition year in a lot of ways. Though Y2K amounted to mild mass hysteria, people did have to get used to writing the date with 20 in front of the year rather than 19. It was a new millennium (depending on your view of Year 0) that seemed to have started off under the best possible terms.
Not only were stocks on fire at the outset, the economy was, too. The idea of this ‘new economy’ leading toward a permanent new plateau of low inflation growth, driven by the breathtaking productivity gains in telecommunications and computing, seemed quite real on the surface. US GDP advanced by more than 3% in 15 straight quarters from Q2 1996 through Q4 1999, averaging a sizzling 4.7% in those nearly four years of dot-com supremacy.
The labor market was clearly robust, too. In March 2000, the BLS estimates (current benchmarks) that total payrolls (Establishment Survey) rose by 468k from that February. That brought the 6-month average up to +303k, a record of expansion that also mystified economists for its lack of inflationary wage pressures. In any case, the late nineties had roared up to the doorstep of the 21st century.
We all know what happened in April 2000, as investors suddenly got cold feet about first the high flying NASDAQ. It wasn’t just stock prices and IPOs, of course, as it really meant one of the major economic themes of that age was in danger being undermined, if not thoroughly debunked. The new economy of the 21st century might not have been grounded so solidly in true economics (small ‘e’) as everyone thought (especially those running the Fed).

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 10, 2017.

Watch Live: Trump Makes “Major Statement”

Two days ago, President Trump tweeted that he would make a “major statement” upon his return from Asia. That time has come. Today at 3:30pmET, President Trump will let us all know… Is it war with North Korea? Rejoining TPP? Denouncing Roy Moore? Declaring victory over tax reform and healthcare repeal? Celebrating his relationship with China? Banning NYT and CNN? Admitting he really did collude with Putin?
Of course, there’s a lot happening in Washington right now, and Trump’s hinted-at announcement could be in reference to one of any number of issues. Will he deliver an update on the administration’s position regarding tax reform as two bills that differ in dramatic fashion wend through Congress? Perhaps some type of security announcement? Or the revelation that the US has finally entered into talks with North Korea after Trump adopted a notably softer tone toward his favorite Asian antagonist over the weekend?


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 15, 2017.

Banks Warn London Facing Brexit “Point Of No Return”

During his trip to London this week, US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, wasn’t only defending revelations in the Paradise Papers that he’d invested in a shipping company with ties to the Putin family. He also attended a ‘closed-door meeting’ with executives from JPMorgan, Goldman, HSBC and other banks. The meeting took place over lunch in the exclusive St James’s District (hedge fund land these days) at Wiltons restaurant. Wiltons, if you’re not familiar with it, started as an oyster stand in 1742 before developing a clientele of English aristocrats and foreign dignitaries and latterly, bankers. Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond novels and bon vivant, listed it as one of his top 10 restaurants in the 1950s.
During lunch, the banks warned Ross that time is running out for the UK government. The failure to provide clarity on Brexit means that they will be forced to start moving jobs out of London. According to the FT:
A group of large financial institutions with big London operations, led by Wall Street’s pre-eminent banks, have told the US commerce secretary that Britain’s unstable government and slow progress in Brexit planning may force them to start moving thousands of jobs out of City in the near future. The warnings came on Friday during a closed-door meeting between executives from the banks, which included JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and HSBC, and Wilbur Ross during the US commerce secretary’s visit to London, according to people briefed on the discussions.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 8, 2017.

Russian Content May Have Reached 126 Million Facebook Users, There Is Just One Catch

One month ago, the media world and political punditry was in a furore after Facebook revealed that some 470 alleged Russian troll accounts had paid Facebook a whopping $100,000 to purchase 3,000 advertisements potentially influencing the outcome of the election (even though many of the ads “showed support for Clinton” and only half ran before the actual election). The furore did not last long: gradually the story fizzled, before becoming a watercooler joke that Russia had managed to buy the outcome of the US presidential election for a whopping 100 grand – which would make Vladimir Putin not only a propaganda genius of the highest order, but the best damn advertising mastermind to ever live, generating the highest ad IRR in history. One can only imagine what insidious, civilzation-ending thoughts he could implant in America’s fragile, feeble minds for $1 million, or gasp… 10 million dollars (about 1% of what Hillary spent).
So, eager to keep the “Russia interfered in US elections” meme going (not to be confused with what the Washington Post one year ago titled “The long history of the U. S. interfering with elections elsewhere“), tomorrow Facebook’s general counsel, Colin Stretch , together with his peers from Google and Twitter, will will sit before the Senate judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism and try to fascinate the public with some far bigger numbers, while hopefully also pitching the vast reach Facebook and other social media have. To do that, Facebook will say that it estimates that a grand total of 126 million people may have seen content posted by Russian-backed accounts over more than two years that, as the WSJ puts it, “sought to disrupt American society”, according to a prepared copy of the remarks obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
How is this number different from the far smaller number quoted previously when referring only to the Russian trolls’ alleged ad outreach? Because this time, Facebook will count virtually every post created by these alleged Russian troll farms as direct form of propaganda: as the WSJ explains, tomorrow’s definition of “reach” will include such content as “free posts and events listings.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 30, 2017.

Russia Buys 34 Tonnes Of Gold In September

– Russia adds 1.1 million ounces to reserves in ongoing diversification from USD
– 34 ton addition brings Russia’s Central Bank holdings to 1,779t; 6th highest
– Russia’s gold reserves are at highest point in Putin’s 17-year reign
– Russia’s central bank will buy gold for its reserves on the Moscow Exchange
– Russia recognises gold’s role as independent currency and safe haven
Editor: Mark O’Byrne
Prior to World War I Russia held the world’s third largest gold reserves, behind America and France. In the subsequent Russian Revolution, civil war and the rise of communism, they dropped down the table of nations with large gold reserves and the U. S. became the largest holder of national gold reserves.
In recent years, since 2007, an increasingly powerful and assertive Russia has worked hard to reprise its place in the world’s top gold reserve rankings, quadrupling its purchases in the period to June this year.
A 34 ton purchase of gold (1.1 million ounce) in September has put Russia firmly back in the golden spotlight. The country now holds 1,779 tons of gold, placing it sixth in the world and just behind China.

This post was published at Gold Core on October 27, 2017.

First A.I. ETF Claims It Can Replace An Army Of Research Analysts

‘Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over.’
From Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
As if MiFID II wasn’t bad enough, now this ‘EquBot AI Technology with Watson has the ability to mimic an army of equity research analysts working around the clock, 365 days a year, while removing human error and bias from the process.’ That is the claim of Chida Khatua, the ETF’s CEO. Unlike the existing algos used by quant funds, A. I. the ability to learn from its mistakes without further requiring programming.
This week, EquBot LLC, in partnership with ETF Managers Group (ETFMG) launched the world’s first ETF powered by artificial intelligence, the AI Powered Equity ETF (NYSE Arca: AIEQ). According to Business Wire, the new ETF uses ‘cognitive and big data processing abilities of IBM Watson to analyze U. S.-listed investment opportunities’.
For those in the dark as far as ‘Watson’ is concerned, it’s Wiki entry notes ‘Watson is a question answering (QA) computing system that IBM built to apply advanced natural language processing, information retrieval, knowledge representation, automated reasoning, and machine learning technologies to the field of open domain question answering. Watson was named after IBM’s first CEO, industrialist Thomas J. Watson. The computer system was specifically developed to answer questions on the quiz show Jeopardy! and, in 2011, the Watson computer system competed on Jeopardy! against former winners Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings winning the first place prize of $1 million. Watson had access to 200 million pages of structured and unstructured content consuming four terabytes of disk storage…but was not connected to the Internet during the game. For each clue, Watson’s three most probable responses were displayed on the television screen. Watson consistently outperformed its human opponents on the game’s signaling device, but had trouble in a few categories, notably those having short clues containing only a few words.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 21, 2017.

SWOT Analysis: Macroeconomic Backdrop Remains Positive for Precious Metals, says Metals Focus

Strengths
The best performing precious metal for the week was silver up 1.07 percent. Precious metals rallied to mid-day highs on Friday as it was rumored North Korea will test a missile this weekend that is capable of reaching the U. S. West Coast. Gold traders and analysts surveyed by Bloomberg on Thursday were equally split between bulls and bears this week, reports Bloomberg, after saying gold prices will go down three weeks in a row. According to data released by the Perth Mint this week, gold coin and minted bar sales increased to 46,415 ounces in September. This is up from sales of 23,130 ounces in August. In the week ended September 28, inflows into U. S.-listed commodity ETFs totaled $644 million, reports Bloomberg, a 27-percent expansion. Precious-metals funds had $782 million of gains, the article continues, compared with $589 million the week prior. Since Vladimir Putin went on a geopolitical offensive in the Ukraine in 2014, gold had its first annual gain in four years in 2016, writes Bloomberg, and is now on track for another gain in 2017. In addition, the Bank of Russia has more than doubled the pace of gold purchases, accounting for 38 percent of all gold purchased by central banks in the second quarter alone. According to the World Gold Council, this brings the share of bullion in Russia’s international reserves to the highest of Putin’s 17 years in power, the article continues.

This post was published at GoldSeek on Monday, 9 October 2017.

Schuble: Another Financial Crisis Is Coming Due To Spiraling Global Debt, “New Bubbles”

Following the disappointing for Angela Merkel and her CDU German election results, which propelled the populist AfD into Germany’s political establishment with 92 members of parliament, the first casualty was Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schuble, who in a few days will relinquish his long-held post and move on to the ceremonial role of Bundestag president. As part of his farewell tour, Schuble – like so many other former members of the establishment- took a parting shot at the system he helped create and warned that “spiraling levels of global debt and liquidity”, as well as “new bubbles” present a major risk to the world economy.
Speaking to the FT, the Europhile beloved in Germany for successfully steering one of the world’s largest economies for the past eight years, and who nearly led to Grexit in the summer of 2005, said there was a danger of ‘new bubbles’ forming due to the trillions of dollars that central banks have pumped into markets. Confirming another fear widely propagated by the Putin propaganda alternative media, Schuble also warned of risks to stability in the eurozone, particularly those posed by bank balance sheets burdened by the post-crisis legacy of non-performing loans, something we have warned about since 2012, and an issue which remains largely unresolved.
A strong advocate of fiscal rectitude and debt reduction, Mr Schuble dominated Europe’s policy response to the eurozone debt crisis and has been vilified in countries such as Greece as an architect of austerity. But he will mainly be remembered as the most ardently pro-European politician in German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet, skilled at selling the benefits of the euro and of deeper European integration to an often sceptical German public.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 8, 2017.

Maduro Visits Putin, Proposes Global Oil Trade In Rubles, Yuan

Three weeks after the US imposed financial sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to cripple its economy and choke the Maduro regime, which in turn prompted Caracas to announce it would no longer receive or send payments in dollars, and that those who wished to trade Venezuelan crude would have to do so in Chinese Yuan, today during an energy summit held in Moscow, Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro proposed to expand his own personal blockade of the US, by proposing that all oil producing countries discuss creating a currency basket for trading crude and refined products. One which is no longer reliant on the (petro)dollar.
‘Developing a new mechanism of controlling the oil market is necessary,’ Maduro said on Wednesday at the Russian Energy Forum, being held in Moscow this week.
Quoted by RT, Maduro also blamed trade in crude oil paper futures as having an adverse impact on the oil market, which has undermined attempts by OPEC to stabilize prices. To counteract such “speculation”, Maduro proposed an alternative currency basket, one which is based not on the world’s reserve currency but includes the yuan, ruble, and other currencies, and which will mitigate the alleged adverse impact of futures trading.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.

Russian Gold Reserves Hit Putin-Era High, Buying Frenzy Accelerates

Amid a creeping global de-dollarization, Vladimir Putin appears to be the one leading the charge from the precious metal perspective.
As Bloomberg’s Yuliya Fedorinova and Olga Tanas report, the Bank of Russia has more than doubled the pace of gold purchases, bringing the share of bullion in its international reserves to the highest of Putin’s 17 years in power, according to World Gold Council data.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

Russia Gold Rush Sees Record Reserves For Putin Era

Russia Gold Rush Sees Record Reserves For Putin Era
by Yuliya Fedorinova of Bloomberg via Irish Indepedent
Vladimir Putin is doing his part to keep the upswing in gold alive.
Since the Russian president went on a geopolitical offensive in Ukraine in 2014, the haven asset had its first annual gain in four years in 2016 and is on track for another in 2017.
***
A beneficiary of economic and political perils from North Korea to Brexit, it’s among the top-performing commodities this year.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Russia has more than doubled the pace of gold purchases, bringing the share of bullion in its international reserves to the highest of Mr Putin’s 17 years in power, according to World Gold Council data.
In the second quarter alone, it accounted for 38pc of all gold purchased by central banks.

This post was published at Gold Core on October 2, 2017.

Gold Up, Markets Fatigued As War Talk Boils Over

North Korea threatens to reduce the U. S. to ‘ashes and darkness’ Markets becoming used to ongoing provocations from North Korea Russia and China continue to support watered down versions of sanctions on Kim’s regime Both NATO and Russia running war games on one another’s borders Putin says Russia will ‘give a suitable response’ to NATOs threatening behaviour Gold set to climb as fears over economy and war will drive safe haven demand This year North Korea has launched a dozen missiles. With the latest one it has threatened the U. S. with ‘ashes and darkness’ as Kim believes it ‘should be beaten to death like a rabid dog.’
Russia and China continue to support watered down sanctions on the isolated country. Both have made it clear that they will not tolerate a war on their borders.

This post was published at Gold Core on September 15, 2017.

Russia Eyes New Sources of Revenue Amid Low Oil Prices

Low global energy prices have been a strain on the finances of many oil producers, but they’ve hit Russia particularly hard. Oil and gas accounted for 43% of Russia’s government revenue in 2015 and this figure was expected to drop to 36% in 2016, according to the World Bank. But this declining percentage doesn’t mean the government has become less dependent on energy; it’s simply a reflection of low energy prices.
And with its financial resources dwindling, Russia’s ability to defend against both external and internal threats will be severely tested. After all, the country will be hard pressed to find the cash needed to fund its defense and social welfare programs with declining revenue from one of its most important industries. As a result, the government will have to find new ways to raise revenue.
One option is reforming the personal income tax system. President Vladimir Putin has given some indications that he’s considering changing the current flat income tax rate to a progressive system. Another proposal, which is now being reviewed by Alexei Kudrin, an economic adviser to the president, is to raise the personal income tax rate from 13% to 17%.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on SEPTEMBER 11, 2017.

Escobar Exposes Real BRICS Bombshell: Putin’s “Fair Multipolar World” Where Oil Trade Bypasses The Dollar

Putin reveals ‘fair multipolar world’ concept in which oil contracts could bypass the US dollar and be traded with oil, yuan and gold…
The annual BRICS summit in Xiamen – where President Xi Jinping was once mayor – could not intervene in a more incandescent geopolitical context.
Once again, it’s essential to keep in mind that the current core of BRICS is ‘RC’; the Russia-China strategic partnership. So in the Korean peninsula chessboard, RC context – with both nations sharing borders with the DPRK – is primordial.
***
Beijing has imposed a definitive veto on war – of which the Pentagon is very much aware.
Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, although planned way in advance, happened only three days after two nuclear-capable US B-1B strategic bombers conducted their own ‘test’ alongside four F-35Bs and a few Japanese F-15s.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 6, 2017.

“Fake News” Exposed: Louise Mensch Duped By Hoaxer

The woman who has been widely credited with the creation of the ‘liberal conspiracy theory’ has – finally and definitively – been proven a fraud. According to the Guardian, Louise Mensch and her writing partner Claude Taylor published ‘bogus’ allegations about President Donald Trump that had been fed to them by a hoaxer who claimed to work for New York Attorney General (and longtime Trump antagonist) Eric Schneiderman.
Mensch, a former British MP who moved to the US with her American husband a few years back to found the now-defunct Rupert Murdoch-backed conservative news website Heat Street, has garnered a large following (she has some 300,000 followers on Twitter) thanks to her ‘scoops’ about the Russia investigation. Her “exclusives” have included patently false “stories” like her claim that the FBI had issued a sealed indictment for the president. She once suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin had Breitbart News founder Andrew Breitbart murdered to clear the way for Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, allowing Bannon to guide Trump to electoral victory – an assertion for which she was resoundingly mocked.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 29, 2017.

AUGUST 24/TWO HUGE WHACKS ON GOLD AND SILVER TODAY BUT OUR PRECIOUS METALS ARE STILL RESILIENT: GOLD DOWN ONLY $2.15 AND SILVER DOWN 9 CENTS/GREECE HIT WITH A HUGE INFLUX OF MIGRANTS FROM TURKEY/…

GOLD: $1286.85 DOW $2.15
Silver: $16.98 DOWN 9 CENTS
Closing access prices:
Gold $1290.40
silver: $17.08
SHANGHAI GOLD FIX: FIRST FIX 10 15 PM EST (2:15 SHANGHAI LOCAL TIME)
SECOND FIX: 2:15 AM EST (6:15 SHANGHAI LOCAL TIME)
SHANGHAI FIRST GOLD FIX: $1294.05 DOLLARS PER OZ
NY PRICE OF GOLD AT EXACT SAME TIME: $1287.80
PREMIUM FIRST FIX: $6.25
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SECOND SHANGHAI GOLD FIX: $1293.21
NY GOLD PRICE AT THE EXACT SAME TIME: $1289.60
Premium of Shanghai 2nd fix/NY:$3.61
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LONDON FIRST GOLD FIX: 5:30 am est $1285.90
NY PRICING AT THE EXACT SAME TIME: $1286.20
LONDON SECOND GOLD FIX 10 AM: $1289.00
NY PRICING AT THE EXACT SAME TIME. $1289.10
For comex gold:
AUGUST/
NOTICES FILINGS TODAY FOR APRIL CONTRACT MONTH: 0 NOTICE(S) FOR NIL OZ.
TOTAL NOTICES SO FAR: 4584 FOR 458,400 OZ (14.258 TONNES)
For silver:
AUGUST
28 NOTICES FILED TODAY FOR
140,000 OZ/
Total number of notices filed so far this month: 1132 for 5,600,000 oz

This post was published at Harvey Organ Blog on August 24, 2017.