Goldman Sachs Group Inc is expected to pay $129.5 million to settle its portion of a lawsuit that accuses banks of rigging prices in the foreign exchange market, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the ma...
Post by Elite Forex Blog - Market Research & Analysis
Two of the world’s biggest currency-trading platforms plan to restrict a controversial industry practice in which banks can pull out of trades at the last moment if the market moves against them.
Thomson Reuters Corp. and BATS Global Markets Inc. will limit the practice, known as “last look,” on their platforms in coming weeks, in a move aimed at increasing transparency in the foreign-exchange market.
The change comes amid a broader shake-up of the trading industry prompted by concerns about traders’ efforts to manipulate a range of financial markets. Markets for precious metals, interest rates, stocks and currencies have all come under scrutiny from regulators in recent years because of allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Regulators in the U.K., the global hub for foreign-exchange trading, are expected to report next month on their own review into the supervision and transparency of some markets, including the foreign-exchange market. The so-called Fair and Effective Markets Review, or FEMR, specifically asked asset managers and other bank clients about their views on last look.
While some foreign-exchange platforms already don’t permit last look, it is still allowed on some large venues, including Hotspot, owned by BATS; and FXall, owned by Thomson Reuters. Hotspot and FXall account for about 25% of clients’ electronic forex trading, according to financial-industry consultants Greenwich Associates.
The last look practice is a legacy of over-the-phone currency trading, when traders would take a final check of the market before executing an order. It has survived even as foreign-exchange trading moved onto electronic platforms, leaving banks with the option to back out of an order after it was accepted by a client.
Thomson Reuters and BATS plan to tighten the time frame for canceling quotes and introduce a minimum acceptance rate banks have to respect.
Phil Weisberg, global head of foreign exchange at Thomson Reuters, said last look requires “more clarity.” Some clients don’t understand “the rules of engagement with the bank” and “are confused about trading protocols,” he added, referring to the exact conditions banks have to respect on the execution of each specific trade.
William Goodbody, head of FX at Hotspot, said, “Last look is a widely used practice in the industry. To make it work, it needs a clear set of guidelines.”
In June 2014, the U.K. Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority, the U.K.’s financial watchdog, launched the FEMR to consider ways to improve the supervision and transparency of some markets. FEMR findings, due to be released on June 10, are expected to establish rules on the execution of currency trades.
Foreign exchange is a highly unregulated market, compared to stock trading, as currencies aren’t traded on exchanges.
Banks’ foreign-exchange trading clients are likely to welcome the move to curb last look, said Kevin McPartland, a principal at Greenwich Associates.
“Giving market participants more visibility into where, how and with whom their orders are executed is a good thing,” Mr. McPartland said.
Javier Paz, a senior consultant at Aite Group, said last look echoes the equity-market practice of “spoofing,” an illegal strategy in which traders place orders they don’t intend to execute to move the market to their advantage.
But there are also some significant differences, he said. In spoofing, a trader places an offer to buy or sell, then cancels it quickly, whereas in last look, there’s always a client willing to execute one side of the trade, Mr. Paz said.
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The Justice Department has begun looking into a common practice in foreign-exchange markets that allows banks to back out of unfavorable trades at the last moment, a person briefed on the matter said.
Prosecutors, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission, have asked Barclays Plc for information related to its electronic-trading platform, which contains a program that allows traders to take a “last look” at an order before executing it, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the matter isn’t public.
Prosecutors’ interest in the last-look practice has grown out of a broader investigation into the manipulation of benchmarks and client orders in the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency market. The inquiries follow an investigative path laid out in recent months by Benjamin Lawsky, New York’s banking regulator.
Barclays said earlier Tuesday that it set aside an additional 750 million pounds ($1.2 billion) to cover the cost of settling the currency-rigging investigation, bringing its total expected cost to about 1.25 billion pounds.
The last-look option is a vestige of the early computer era when the time lag between an order being entered at one bank and confirmed at another was long enough to expose the market maker to unpredictable price fluctuations. As that lag tightened, banks retained the right to halt currency trades on a last-look basis.
Critics of the practice say it’s obsolete and can harm investors.
“Last look is a hangover from a technology problem that no longer exists, yet still allows traders to reject trades and re-quote orders to the disadvantage of clients,” David Mercer, chief executive of LMAX Exchange, a forex trading platform, said in a Feb. 20 statement.
BlackRock Inc. said last month that last looks can cause market participants to experience so-called phantom liquidity where prices that appear to be available suddenly disappear, in response to the Bank of England’s Fair and Effective Markets Review. Making completed trades available and transparent would make the market better, BlackRock said.
“These developments, would in our view, facilitate fairer outcomes for end investors and increase market effectiveness and efficiency,” BlackRock said.
It isn’t clear whether the Justice Department’s review of last-look practices will lead to a new front in its forex investigation. The SEC is exploring whether any elements of the practice violate disclosure laws, another person briefed on the matter said.
Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to comment on any inquiry specifically into last-look practices, as did Florence Harmon of the SEC.
Until now, regulators in the U.K., Switzerland and the U.S. have been primarily focused on manipulation of benchmark currency exchange rates by traders at some 30 global banks, with an emphasis on collusive behavior. The last-look review indicates that regulators and prosecutors are turning their focus to established practices that could make markets unfair.
The prosecutors’ request appears to bolster a line of inquiry opened up by Lawsky, superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, who said last month that he was looking into the practice.
In its annual report released Tuesday, Barclays said that various “regulatory and enforcement authorities,” including the Justice Department, SEC and Lawsky’s agency, “are investigating a range of issues associated with Foreign Exchange sales and trading, including electronic trading.” Kerrie Cohen, a spokeswoman for Barclays, declined to comment.
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What if Putin is Telling The Truth?
On April 26 Russia’s main national TV station, Rossiya 1, featured President Vladimir Putin in a documentary to the Russian people on the events of the recent period including the annexation of Crimea, the US coup d’etat in Ukraine, and the general state of relations with the United States and the EU. His words were frank. And in the middle of his remarks the Russian former KGB chief dropped a political bombshell that was known by Russian intelligence two decades ago.
Putin stated bluntly that in his view the West would only be content in having a Russia weak, suffering and begging from the West, something clearly the Russian character is not disposed to. Then a short way into his remarks, the Russian President stated for the first time publicly something that Russian intelligence has known for almost two decades but kept silent until now, most probably in hopes of an era of better normalized Russia-US relations.
Putin stated that the terror in Chechnya and in the Russian Caucasus in the early 1990’s was actively backed by the CIA and western Intelligence services to deliberately weaken Russia. He noted that the Russian FSB foreign intelligence had documentation of the US covert role without giving details.
What Putin, an intelligence professional of the highest order, only hinted at in his remarks, I have documented in detail from non-Russian sources. The report has enormous implications to reveal to the world the long-standing hidden agenda of influential circles in Washington to destroy Russia as a functioning sovereign state, an agenda which includes the neo-nazi coup d’etat in Ukraine and severe financial sanction warfare against Moscow. The following is drawn on my book, “The Lost Hegemon” to be published soon…
CIA’s Chechen Wars
Not long after the CIA and Saudi Intelligence-financed Mujahideen had devastated Afghanistan at the end of the 1980’s, forcing the exit of the Soviet Army in 1989, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself some months later, the CIA began to look at possible places in the collapsing Soviet Union where their trained “Afghan Arabs” could be redeployed to further destabilize Russian influence over the post-Soviet Eurasian space.
They were called Afghan Arabs because they had been recruited from ultraconservative Wahhabite Sunni Muslims from Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and elsewhere in the Arab world where the ultra-strict Wahhabite Islam was practiced. They were brought to Afghanistan in the early 1980’s by a Saudi CIA recruit who had been sent to Afghanistan named Osama bin Laden.
With the former Soviet Union in total chaos and disarray, George H.W. Bush’s Administration decided to “kick ‘em when they’re down,” a sad error. Washington redeployed their Afghan veteran terrorists to bring chaos and destabilize all of Central Asia, even into the Russian Federation itself, then in a deep and traumatic crisis during the economic collapse of the Yeltsin era.
In the early 1990s, Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton, had surveyed the offshore oil potentials of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and the entire Caspian Sea Basin. They estimated the region to be “another Saudi Arabia” worth several trillion dollars on today’s market. The US and UK were determined to keep that oil bonanza from Russian control by all means. The first target of Washington was to stage a coup in Azerbaijan against elected president Abulfaz Elchibey to install a President more friendly to a US-controlled Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, “the world’s most political pipeline,” bringing Baku oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey and the Mediterranean.
At that time, the only existing oil pipeline from Baku was a Soviet era Russian pipeline that ran through the Chechen capital, Grozny, taking Baku oil north via Russia’s Dagestan province, and across Chechenya to the Black Sea Russian port of Novorossiysk. The pipeline was the only competition and major obstacle to the very costly alternative route of Washington and the British and US oil majors.
President Bush Sr. gave his old friends at CIA the mandate to destroy that Russian Chechen pipeline and create such chaos in the Caucasus that no Western or Russian company would consider using the Grozny Russian oil pipeline.
Graham E. Fuller, an old colleague of Bush and former Deputy Director of the CIA National Council on Intelligence had been a key architect of the CIA Mujahideen strategy. Fuller described the CIA strategy in the Caucasus in the early 1990s: “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power.”6
The CIA used a dirty tricks veteran, General Richard Secord, for the operation. Secord created a CIA front company, MEGA Oil. Secord had been convicted in the 1980s for his central role in the CIA’s Iran-Contra illegal arms and drugs operations.
In 1991 Secord, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, landed in Baku and set up the CIA front company, MEGA Oil. He was a veteran of the CIA covert opium operations in Laos during the Vietnam War. In Azerbaijan, he setup an airline to secretly fly hundreds of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda Mujahideen from Afghanistan into Azerbaijan. By 1993, MEGA Oil had recruited and armed 2,000 Mujahideen, converting Baku into a base for Caucasus-wide Mujahideen terrorist operations.
General Secord’s covert Mujahideen operation in the Caucasus initiated the military coup that toppled elected president Abulfaz Elchibey that year and installed Heydar Aliyev, a more pliable US puppet. A secret Turkish intelligence report leaked to the Sunday Times of London confirmed that “two petrol giants, BP and Amoco, British and American respectively, which together form the AIOC (Azerbaijan International Oil Consortium), are behind the coup d’état.”
Saudi Intelligence head, Turki al-Faisal, arranged that his agent, Osama bin Laden, whom he had sent to Afghanistan at the start of the Afghan war in the early 1980s, would use his Afghan organization Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) to recruit “Afghan Arabs” for what was rapidly becoming a global Jihad. Bin Laden’s mercenaries were used as shock troops by the Pentagon and CIA to coordinate and support Muslim offensives not only Azerbaijan but also in Chechnya and, later, Bosnia.
Bin Laden brought in another Saudi, Ibn al-Khattab, to become Commander, or Emir of Jihadist Mujahideen in Chechnya (sic!) together with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev. No matter that Ibn al-Khattab was a Saudi Arab who spoke barely a word of Chechen, let alone, Russian. He knew what Russian soldiers looked like and how to kill them.
Chechnya then was traditionally a predominantly Sufi society, a mild apolitical branch of Islam. Yet the increasing infiltration of the well-financed and well-trained US-sponsored Mujahideen terrorists preaching Jihad or Holy War against Russians transformed the initially reformist Chechen resistance movement. They spread al-Qaeda’s hardline Islamist ideology across the Caucasus. Under Secord’s guidance, Mujahideen terrorist operations had also quickly extended into neighboring Dagestan and Chechnya, turning Baku into a shipping point for Afghan heroin to the Chechen mafia.
From the mid-1990s, bin Laden paid Chechen guerrilla leaders Shamil Basayev and Omar ibn al-Khattab the handsome sum of several million dollars per month, a King’s fortune in economically desolate Chechnya in the 1990s, enabling them to sideline the moderate Chechen majority.21 US intelligence remained deeply involved in the Chechen conflict until the end of the 1990s. According to Yossef Bodansky, then Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in “yet another anti-Russian jihad, seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces.”
Bodansky revealed the entire CIA Caucasus strategy in detail in his report, stating that US Government officials participated in,
“a formal meeting in Azerbaijan in December 1999 in which specific programs for the training and equipping of Mujahideen from the Caucasus, Central/South Asia and the Arab world were discussed and agreed upon, culminating in Washington’s tacit encouragement of both Muslim allies (mainly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and US ‘private security companies’. . . to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in the spring of 2000 and sustain the ensuing Jihad for a long time…Islamist Jihad in the Caucasus as a way to deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism.”
The most intense phase of the Chechen wars wound down in 2000 only after heavy Russian military action defeated the Islamists. It was a pyrrhic victory, costing a massive toll in human life and destruction of entire cities. The exact death toll from the CIA-instigated Chechen conflict is unknown. Unofficial estimates ranged from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or missing, mostly civilians. Russian casualties were near 11,000 according to the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers.
The Anglo-American oil majors and the CIA’s operatives were happy. They had what they wanted: their Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan oil pipeline, bypassing Russia’s Grozny pipeline.
The Chechen Jihadists, under the Islamic command of Shamil Basayev, continued guerrilla attacks in and outside Chechnya. The CIA had refocused into the Caucasus.
Basayev’s Saudi Connection
Basayev was a key part of the CIA’s Global Jihad. In 1992, he met Saudi terrorist Ibn al-Khattag in Azerbaijan. From Azerbaijan, Ibn al-Khattab brought Basayev to Afghanistan to meet al-Khattab’s ally, fellow-Saudi Osama bin Laden. Ibn al-Khattab’s role was to recruit Chechen Muslims willing to wage Jihad against Russian forces in Chechnya on behalf of the covert CIA strategy of destabilizing post-Soviet Russia and securing British-US control over Caspian energy.
Once back in Chechnya, Basayev and al-Khattab created the International Islamic Brigade (IIB) with Saudi Intelligence money, approved by the CIA and coordinated through the liaison of Saudi Washington Ambassador and Bush family intimate Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Bandar, Saudi Washington Ambassador for more than two decades, was so intimate with the Bush family that George W. Bush referred to the playboy Saudi Ambassador as “Bandar Bush,” a kind of honorary family member.
Basayev and al-Khattab imported fighters from the Saudi fanatical Wahhabite strain of Sunni Islam into Chechnya. Ibn al-Khattab commanded what were called the “Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya,” his own private army of Arabs, Turks, and other foreign fighters. He was also commissioned to set up paramilitary training camps in the Caucasus Mountains of Chechnya that trained Chechens and Muslims from the North Caucasian Russian republics and from Central Asia.
The Saudi and CIA-financed Islamic International Brigade was responsible not only for terror in Chechnya. They carried out the October 2002 Moscow Dubrovka Theatre hostage seizure and the gruesome September 2004 Beslan school massacre. In 2010, the UN Security Council published the following report on al-Khattab and Basayev’s International Islamic Brigade:
Islamic International Brigade (IIB) was listed on 4 March 2003. . . as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” Al-Qaida. . . The Islamic International Brigade (IIB) was founded and led by Shamil Salmanovich Basayev (deceased) and is linked to the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM). . . and the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR). . .On the evening of 23 October 2002, members of IIB, RSRSBCM and SPIR operated jointly to seize over 800 hostages at Moscow’s Podshipnikov Zavod (Dubrovka) Theater.In October 1999, emissaries of Basayev and Al-Khattab traveled to Usama bin Laden’s home base in the Afghan province of Kandahar, where Bin Laden agreed to provide substantial military assistance and financial aid, including by making arrangements to send to Chechnya several hundred fighters to fight against Russian troops and perpetrate acts of terrorism. Later that year, Bin Laden sent substantial amounts of money to Basayev, Movsar Barayev (leader of SPIR) and Al-Khattab, which was to be used exclusively for training gunmen, recruiting mercenaries and buying ammunition.
The Afghan-Caucasus Al Qaeda “terrorist railway,” financed by Saudi intelligence, had two goals. One was a Saudi goal to spread fanatical Wahhabite Jihad into the Central Asian region of the former Soviet Union. The second was the CIA’s agenda of destabilizing a then-collapsing post-Soviet Russian Federation.
On September 1, 2004, armed terrorists from Basayev and al-Khattab’s IIB took more than 1,100 people as hostages in a siege that included 777 children, and forced them into School Number One (SNO) in Beslan in North Ossetia, the autonomous republic in the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation near to the Georgia border.
On the third day of the hostage crisis, as explosions were heard inside the school, FSB and other elite Russian troops stormed the building. In the end, at least 334 hostages were killed, including 186 children, with a significant number of people injured and reported missing. It became clear afterward that the Russian forces had handled the intervention poorly.
The Washington propaganda machine, from Radio Free Europe to The New York Times and CNN, wasted no time demonizing Putin and Russia for their bad handling of the Beslan crisis rather than focus on the links of Basayev to Al Qaeda and Saudi intelligence. That would have brought the world’s attention to the intimate relations between the family of then US President George W. Bush and the Saudi billionaire bin Laden family.
On September 1, 2001, just ten days before the day of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, Saudi Intelligence head US-educated Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, who had directed Saudi Intelligence since 1977, including through the entire Osama bin Laden Mujahideen operation in Afghanistan and into the Caucasus, abruptly and inexplicably resigned, just days after having accepted a new term as intelligence head from his King. He gave no explanation. He was quickly reposted to London, away from Washington.
The record of the bin Laden-Bush family intimate ties was buried, in fact entirely deleted on “national security” (sic!) grounds in the official US Commission Report on 911. The Saudi background of fourteen of the nineteen alleged 911 terrorists in New York and Washington was also deleted from the US Government’s final 911 Commission report, released only in July 2004 by the Bush Administration, almost three years after the events.
Basayev claimed credit for having sent the terrorists to Beslan. His demands had included the complete independence of Chechnya from Russia, something that would have given Washington and the Pentagon an enormous strategic dagger in the southern underbelly of the Russian Federation.
By late 2004, in the aftermath of the tragic Beslan drama, President Vladimir Putin reportedly ordered a secret search and destroy mission by Russian intelligence to hunt and kill key leaders of the Caucasus Mujahideen of Basayev. Al-Khattab had been killed in 2002. The Russian security forces soon discovered that most of the Chechen Afghan Arab terrorists had fled. They had gotten safe haven in Turkey, a NATO member; in Azerbaijan, by then almost a NATO Member; or in Germany, a NATO Member; or in Dubai–one of the closest US Allies in the Arab States, and Qatar-another very close US ally. In other words, the Chechen terrorists were given NATO safe haven.
From the first sudden, and quite dramatic, appearance of the fanatical Islamic group known as ISIS which was largely unheard of until a year ago, on the world's stage and which promptly replaced the worn out and tired al Qaeda as the world's terrorist bogeyman, we suggested that the "straight to beheading YouTube clip" purpose behind the Saudi Arabia-funded Islamic State was a simple one: use the Jihadists as the vehicle of choice to achieve a political goal: depose of Syria's president Assad, who for years has stood in the way of a critical Qatari natural gas pipeline, one which could dethrone Russia as Europe's dominant - and belligerent - source of energy, reaching an interim climax with the unsuccessful Mediterranean Sea military build up of 2013, which nearly resulted in quasi-world war.
The narrative and the plotline were so transparent, even Russia saw right through them. Recall from September of last year:
If the West bombs Islamic State militants in Syria without consulting Damascus, LiveLeak reports that the anti-ISIS alliance may use the occasion to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad’s forces, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Clearly comprehending that Obama's new strategy against ISIS in Syria is all about pushing the Qatar pipeline through (as was the impetus behind the 2013 intervention push), Russia is pushing back noting that the it is using ISIS as a pretext for bombing Syrian government forces and warning that "such a development would lead to a huge escalation of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa."
But it's one thing to speculate; it's something entirely different to have hard proof.
And while speculation was rife that just like the CIA-funded al Qaeda had been used as a facade by the US to achieve its own geopolitical and national interests over the past two decades, so ISIS was nothing more than al Qaeda 2.0, there was no actual evidence of just this.
That may all have changed now when a declassified secret US government document obtained by the public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.
According to investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed in Medium, the "leaked document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of the strategy, but described this outcome as a strategic opportunity to “isolate the Syrian regime.”
And not just that: as we reported last week, now that ISIS is running around the middle east, cutting people's heads of in 1080p quality and Hollywood-quality (perhaps literally) video, the US has a credible justification to sell billions worth of modern, sophisticated weapons in the region in order to "modernize" and "replenish" the weapons of such US allies as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iraq.
But that the US military-industrial complex is a winner every time war breaks out anywhere in the world (usually with the assistance of the CIA) is clear to everyone by now. What wasn't clear is just how the US predetermined the current course of events in the middle east.
Now, thanks to the following declassified report, we have a far better understanding of not only how current events in the middle east came to be, but what America's puppermaster role leading up to it all, was.
From Nafeez Ahmed: Secret Pentagon report reveals West saw ISIS as strategic asset Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion', originally posted in Medium.
The revelations contradict the official line of Western government on their policies in Syria, and raise disturbing questions about secret Western support for violent extremists abroad, while using the burgeoning threat of terror to justify excessive mass surveillance and crackdowns on civil liberties at home.
Among the batch of documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a federal lawsuit, released earlier this week, is a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document then classified as “secret,” dated 12th August 2012.
The DIA provides military intelligence in support of planners, policymakers and operations for the US Department of Defense and intelligence community.
So far, media reporting has focused on the evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold to rebels in Syria.
Some outlets have reported the US intelligence community’s internal prediction of the rise of ISIS. Yet none have accurately acknowledged the disturbing details exposing how the West knowingly fostered a sectarian, al-Qaeda-driven rebellion in Syria.
Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer, said:
“Given the political leanings of the organisation that obtained these documents, it’s unsurprising that the main emphasis given to them thus far has been an attempt to embarrass Hilary Clinton regarding what was known about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012. However, the documents also contain far less publicized revelations that raise vitally important questions of the West’s governments and media in their support of Syria’s rebellion.”
The West’s Islamists
The newly declassified DIA document from 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies.
Noting that “the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” the document states that “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,” while Russia, China and Iran “support the [Assad] regime.”
The 7-page DIA document states that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the precursor to the ‘Islamic State in Iraq,’ (ISI) which became the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,’ “supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media.”
The formerly secret Pentagon report notes that the “rise of the insurgency in Syria” has increasingly taken a “sectarian direction,” attracting diverse support from Sunni “religious and tribal powers” across the region.
In a section titled ‘The Future Assumptions of the Crisis,’ the DIA report predicts that while Assad’s regime will survive, retaining control over Syrian territory, the crisis will continue to escalate “into proxy war.”
The document also recommends the creation of “safe havens under international sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya when Benghazi was chosen as the command centre for the temporary government.”
In Libya, anti-Gaddafi rebels, most of whom were al-Qaeda affiliated militias, were protected by NATO ‘safe havens’ (aka ‘no fly zones’).
‘Supporting powers want’ ISIS entity
In a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”
Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar)”:
“… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.”
The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”
Further on, the document reveals that Pentagon analysts were acutely aware of the dire risks of this strategy, yet ploughed ahead anyway.
The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, it says, would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.” Last summer, ISIS conquered Mosul in Iraq, and just this month has also taken control of Ramadi.
Such a quasi-state entity will provide:
“… a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of territory.”
The 2012 DIA document is an Intelligence Information Report (IIR), not a “finally evaluated intelligence” assessment, but its contents are vetted before distribution. The report was circulated throughout the US intelligence community, including to the State Department, Central Command, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, FBI, among other agencies.
In response to my questions about the strategy, the British government simply denied the Pentagon report’s startling revelations of deliberate Western sponsorship of violent extremists in Syria. A British Foreign Office spokesperson said:
“AQ and ISIL are proscribed terrorist organisations. The UK opposes all forms of terrorism. AQ, ISIL, and their affiliates pose a direct threat to the UK’s national security. We are part of a military and political coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and are working with international partners to counter the threat from AQ and other terrorist groups in that region. In Syria we have always supported those moderate opposition groups who oppose the tyranny of Assad and the brutality of the extremists.”
The DIA did not respond to request for comment.
Strategic asset for regime-change
Security analyst Shoebridge, however, who has tracked Western support for Islamist terrorists in Syria since the beginning of the war, pointed out that the secret Pentagon intelligence report exposes fatal contradictions at the heart of official pronunciations:
“Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.”
According to Brad Hoff, a former US Marine who served during the early years of the Iraq War and as a 9/11 first responder at the Marine Corps Headquarters in Battalion Quantico from 2000 to 2004, the just released Pentagon report for the first time provides stunning affirmation that:
“US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.”
Hoff, who is managing editor of Levant Report — ?an online publication run by Texas-based educators who have direct experience of the Middle East?—?points out that the DIA document “matter-of-factly” states that the rise of such an extremist Salafist political entity in the region offers a “tool for regime change in Syria.”
The DIA intelligence report shows, he said, that the rise of ISIS only became possible in the context of the Syrian insurgency?—?“there is no mention of US troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State’s rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits.” The report demonstrates that:
“The establishment of a ‘Salafist Principality’ in Eastern Syria is ‘exactly’ what the external powers supporting the opposition want (identified as ‘the West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey’) in order to weaken the Assad government.”
The rise of a Salafist quasi-state entity that might expand into Iraq, and fracture that country, was therefore clearly foreseen by US intelligence as likely?—?but nevertheless strategically useful?—?blowback from the West’s commitment to “isolating Syria.”
Critics of the US-led strategy in the region have repeatedly raised questions about the role of coalition allies in intentionally providing extensive support to Islamist terrorist groups in the drive to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria.
The conventional wisdom is that the US government did not retain sufficient oversight on the funding to anti-Assad rebel groups, which was supposed to be monitored and vetted to ensure that only ‘moderate’ groups were supported.
However, the newly declassified Pentagon report proves unambiguously that years before ISIS launched its concerted offensive against Iraq, the US intelligence community was fully aware that Islamist militants constituted the core of Syria’s sectarian insurgency.
Despite that, the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq.
As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion”?—?namely, the emergence of ISIS?—?“but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.’”
Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer who blew the whistle in the 1990s on MI6 funding of al-Qaeda to assassinate Libya’s former leader Colonel Gaddafi, similarly said of the revelations:
“This is no surprise to me. Within individual countries there are always multiple intelligence agencies with competing agendas.”
She explained that MI6’s Libya operation in 1996, which resulted in the deaths of innocent people, “happened at precisely the time when MI5 was setting up a new section to investigate al-Qaeda.”
This strategy was repeated on a grand scale in the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, said Machon, where the CIA and MI6 were:
“… supporting the very same Libyan groups, resulting in a failed state, mass murder, displacement and anarchy. So the idea that elements of the American military-security complex have enabled the development of ISIS after their failed attempt to get NATO to once again ‘intervene’ is part of an established pattern. And they remain indifferent to the sheer scale of human suffering that is unleashed as a result of such game-playing.”
Divide and rule
Several US government officials have conceded that their closest allies in the anti-ISIS coalition were funding violent extremist Islamist groups that became integral to ISIS.
US Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, admitted last year that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey had funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Islamist rebels in Syria that metamorphosed into ISIS.
But he did not admit what this internal Pentagon document demonstrates?—?that the entire covert strategy was sanctioned and supervisedby the US, Britain, France, Israel and other Western powers.
The strategy appears to fit a policy scenario identified by a recent US Army-commissioned RAND Corp report.
The report, published four years before the DIA document, called for the US “to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.”
The US would need to contain “Iranian power and influence” in the Gulf by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.” Simultaneously, the US must maintain “a strong strategic relationship with the Iraqi Shiite government” despite its Iran alliance.
The RAND report confirmed that the “divide and rule” strategy was already being deployed “to create divisions in the jihadist camp. Today in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level.”
The report observed that the US was forming “temporary alliances” with al-Qaeda affiliated “nationalist insurgent groups” that have fought the US for four years in the form of “weapons and cash.” Although these nationalists “have cooperated with al-Qaeda against US forces,” they are now being supported to exploit “the common threat that al-Qaeda now poses to both parties.”
The 2012 DIA document, however, further shows that while sponsoring purportedly former al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq to counter al-Qaeda,Western governments were simultaneously arming al-Qaeda insurgents in Syria.
The revelation from an internal US intelligence document that the very US-led coalition supposedly fighting ‘Islamic State’ today, knowingly created ISIS in the first place, raises troubling questions about recent government efforts to justify the expansion of state anti-terror powers.
In the wake of the rise of ISIS, intrusive new measures to combat extremism including mass surveillance, the Orwellian ‘prevent duty’ and even plans to enable government censorship of broadcasters, are being pursued on both sides of the Atlantic, much of which disproportionately targets activists, journalists and ethnic minorities, especially Muslims.
Yet the new Pentagon report reveals that, contrary to Western government claims, the primary cause of the threat comes from their own deeply misguided policies of secretly sponsoring Islamist terrorism for dubious geopolitical purposes.
Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award, known as the ‘Alternative Pulitzer Prize’, for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work, and was selected in the Evening Standard’s ‘Power 1,000’ most globally influential Londoners.
Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the scifi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.
Presented with little comment, aside to ask - how many 'people' went to jail for this?
MAY 20, 2015 DISCLOSURE NOTICE
The purpose of this notice is to disclose certain practices of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and its affiliates (together, “JPMorgan Chase” or the “Firm”) when it acted as a dealer, on a principal basis, in the spot foreign exchange (“FX”) markets. We want to ensure that there are no ambiguities or misunderstandings regarding those practices.
The purpose of this notice is to disclose certain practices of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and its affiliates (together, “JPMorgan Chase” or the “Firm”) when it acted as a dealer, on a principal basis, in the spot foreign exchange (“FX”) markets. We want to ensure that there are no ambiguities or misunderstandings regarding those practices.
To begin, conduct by certain individuals has fallen short of the Firm’s expectations. The conduct underlying the criminal antitrust charge by the Department of Justice is unacceptable. Moreover, as described in our November 2014 settlement with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority relating to our spot FX business, in certain instances during the period 2008 to 2013, certain employees intentionally disclosed information relating to the identity of clients or the nature of clients’ activities to third parties in order to generate revenue for the Firm. This also was contrary to the Firm’s policies, unacceptable, and wrong. The Firm does not tolerate such conduct and already has committed significant resources in strengthening its controls surrounding our FX business.
The Firm has engaged in other practices on occasion, including:
- We added markup to price quotes using hand signals and/or other internal arrangements or communications. Specifically, when obtaining price quotes for bids or offers from the Firm, certain clients requested to be placed on open telephone lines, meaning the client could hear pricing not only from a salesperson, but also from the trader who would be executing the client’s order. In certain instances, certain of our salespeople used hand signals to indicate to the trader to add markup to the price being quoted to the client on the open telephone line, so as to avoid informing the client listening on the phone of the markup and/or the amount of the markup. For example, prior to agreement between the client and the Firm to transact for the purchase of €100, a salesperson would, in certain instances, indicate with hand signals that the trader should add two pips of markup in providing a specific price to the client (e.g., a EURUSD rate of 1.1202, rather than 1.1200) in order to earn the Firm markup in connection with the prospective transaction.
- We have, without informing clients, worked limit orders at levels (i.e., prices) better than the limit order price so that we would earn a spread or markup in connection with our execution of such orders. This practice could have impacted clients in the following ways: (1) clients’ limit orders would be filled at a time later than when the Firm could have obtained currency in the market at the limit orders’ prices, and (2) clients’ limit orders would not be filled at all, even though the Firm had or could have obtained currency in the market at the limit orders’ prices. For example, if we accepted an order to purchase €100 at a limit of 1.1200 EURUSD, we might choose to try to purchase the currency at a EURUSD rate of 1.1199 or better so that, when we sought in turn to fill the client’s order at the order price (i.e., 1.1200), we would make a spread or markup of 1 pip or better on the transaction. If the Firm were unable to obtain the currency at the 1.1199 price, the clients’ order may not be filled as a result of our choice to make this spread or markup.
- We made decisions not to fill clients’ limit orders at all, or to fill them only in part, in order to profit from a spread or markup in connection with our execution of such orders. For example, if we accepted a limit order to purchase €100 at a EURUSD rate of 1.1200, we would in certain instances only partially fill the order (e.g., €70) even when we had obtained (or might have been able to obtain) the full €100 at a EURUSD rate of 1.1200 or better in the marketplace. We did so because of other anticipated client demand, liquidity, a decision by the Firm to keep inventory at a more advantageous price to the Firm, or for other reasons. In doing so, we did not inform our clients as to our reasons for not filling the entirety of their orders.
* * *
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Barclays Plc (BARC.L) pleaded guilty to a U.S. criminal charge and was fined $2.4 billion (1.5 billion pounds) by U.S. and British authorities on Wednesday for manipulating foreign exchange rates.The British bank also agreed to fire eight employees as ...
Per a CFTC release, in the period between Jan 2007 and Jun 2012, Barclays "attempted on many occasions to manipulate and made false reports" relating to the USD ISDAFIX.
Apart from payment of the penalty, Barclays is also required to cease and desist from further violations as charged, and undertake remedial actions as specified and to improve internal controls.
USD ISDAFIX is a global benchmark, used for setting values of interest rate swaps, and used as a valuation tool for a number of financial products. CFTC's finding stated that during the aforementioned period Barclays was engaged in executing interest rate swap spread transactions in such a manner so as to influence the published USD ISDAFIX and derive benefits in its derivatives positions. Further, the UK based banking giant tried to manipulate USD ISDAFIX through its employees by providing false and misleading USD ISDAFIX submissions.
Also, Barclays announced the settlement over the prolonged industry-wide probe into the foreign exchange market manipulation. The regulators involved were CFTC, the New York State Department of Financial Services, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the UK Financial Conduct Authority. The company pleaded guilty for violating an US anti-trust law.
Separately, per a Bloomberg report, Barclays failed in its attempt to dismiss a lawsuit by U.S. regulators for alleged manipulation of trades on electricity contracts. Per the court ruling, "the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has alleged both a sufficient factual and legal basis to support its claim of manipulation." The lawsuit claims $488 million in fines.
We remain encouraged by Barclays' efforts in gradually resolving its legal issues. Also, the recent settlements are not likely to impact its financials in the upcoming quarters as these are covered by the company's existing provisions.
The National Bank of Ukraine is raising its benchmark interest rate to 30 percent from 19.5 percent, the biggest increase in 15 years. It reflects the bank’s attempt to save the collapsing economy from hyperinflation that some estimate at 272 percent.
The new refinancing rate becomes effective from Wednesday, Ukraine’s National Bank said Tuesday.
This is the second rate increase this year, as the bank raised it in February to 19.5 percent from 14 percent.
The decision was taken because the bank saw the "threat of inflation had risen strongly due to negative consequences from currency market panic," the National Bank chief Valeriya Gontareva said in a media briefing.
The bank also kept in place the requirement for companies to sell about 75 percent of their foreign currency earnings, which is also hoped, will stabilize the hryvnia. Gontareva hopes it will return the currency to a level of 20-22 to the US dollar "quickly".
The domestic currency, the hryvnia, has lost about 70 percent since the start of the Maidan unrest a year ago. On Tuesday it was trading at 26 hryvnia to the Dollar, while a year ago a greenback bought 8 hryvnia.
This is pushing up inflation, with official numbers showing prices are rising by 28.5 percent in annual terms. However, separate research by Johns Hopkins professor Steve Hanke suggests the real inflation rate is 272 percent, the world’s highest, and well above Venezuela’s 127 percent rate
Ukraine and China have signed a currency swap agreement worth $2.4 billion, according to the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). Ukraine expects it will relieve pressure on its currency which has lost above 40 percent against the US dollar in a year.
The three year agreement was signed in Shanghai by the governor of the National Bank of Ukraine(NBU) Valeria Gontareva and the governor of the People's Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan, according to NBU’s press release published on Friday.
Ukraine will provide some 54 billion hryvnia and China 15 billion yuan within the swap line.
"This agreement is extremely important for our countries, being strategic partners, and will promote the economic development of both countries. The funds received under the agreement may be used to finance commercial operations and direct investments between the two countries,” Gontareva said.
The practical implementation of currency swap arrangements will cut the demand of importers for foreign currency, which will lower the pressure on the hryvnia exchange rate and help stabilize the situation in the domestic money market, she added.
The hryvnia has lost about 44 percent since last May standing at 20.9 against the US dollar on May 15.
The agreement will come into effect in June when the previous agreement, concluded in 2012 expires. It will enable companies from both countries to use national currencies for export-import operations and to conduct settlements in national currencies without involving the currencies of other countries.
Ukraine’s economy is currently facing tough times; the country’s foreign debt totaled $72.9 billion at the beginning of 2015. Ukraine’s National Bank reserves have fallen dangerously below $5.5 billion in March, and the national currency, the hryvnia, has lost more than half its value in 2015.
Ukraine and China agreed on economic and technical cooperation worth $8 million in January. Ukraine’s exports to China reached $2.7 billion last year while import amounted to $5.4 billion.
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China and Russia have taken the lead in establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), seen as a rival organisation to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which are dominated by the United States with Europe and Japan.
These banks do business at the behest of the old Bretton Woods order. The AIIB will dance to China and Russia's tune instead.
The geopolitical importance was immediately evident from the US's negative reaction to the UK's announcement this week that it would join the AIIB. And very shortly afterwards France, Germany and Italy also defied the US and announced they might join. In the Pacific region, one of America's closest allies, Australia, says she is considering joining too along with New Zealand. The list of US allies seeking to join is growing. From a geopolitical point of view China and Russia have completely outmanoeuvred the US, splitting both NATO and America's Pacific alliances right down the middle.
This is much more important than political commentators generally realise. We must appreciate that anything China does is planned well in advance. Here is the relevant sequence of events:
• In 2002 China and Russia formally adopted the founding charter for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, an economic bloc that today contains about 35% of the world's population, which will become more than 50% when India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia join, which is their stated intention. Russia has the resources and China the manufacturing power to develop the largest internal market ever seen.
• In October 2013 George Osborne was effectively summoned to Beijing because China wanted London to be the base to develop renminbi-denominated financial instruments. London has served China well, with the UK Government even issuing the first renminbi-denominated foreign (to China) government bond. The renminbi is now on the way to being a fully-fledged international currency.
• The establishment of an infrastructure bank, the AIIB, will ensure the lead funding is available for the rapid development of road, rail, electric and electronic communications throughout the SCO, ensuring equally rapid economic development of the whole of the Asian continent. It could amount to the equivalent of several trillion dollars over time.
The countries that are applying to join the AIIB realise that they have to be members to access what will eventually become the largest single market in the world. America is being frozen out, the consequence of her belligerence over Ukraine and the exercise of her hegemonic power through the dollar. America's allies in South East Asia are going with or will go with the new AIIB, and in Europe commercial interests are driving America's NATO partners away from her, turning the Ukraine from a common cause into a festering liability.
The more one thinks about it, the creation of the AIIB is a masterstroke of tactical genius. The outstanding issue now is China and Russia will need to come up with a credible plan to make their currencies a slam-dunk replacement for the dollar. We know that gold may be involved because the SCO members have been accumulating bullion; but before we get there China must manage a deliberate deflation of her credit bubble, which will be a delicate and dangerous task.
Unlike the welfare-driven economies in the west, China has sufficient political authority and internal control to survive a rapid deflation of bank credit. When this inevitably happens the economic consequences for the west will be very serious. Japan and the Eurozone are already facing economic dislocation, and despite over-optimistic employment numbers, the US economy is faltering as well. The last thing America and the dollar needs is a deflationary shock from China.
The silver lining for us all is a peace dividend: it is becoming less likely that America will persist with a call to arms, because support from her allies is melting away leaving her on her own.
The global de-dollarization trend continues as it appears the UK’s move to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Development Bank has indeed shown other US “allies” that spurning Washington’s advice is actually acceptable and concerns about the institution’s “standards” may simply be a diversion aimed at undermining China’s attempt to exercise more influence in its own backyard. Here’s more from the NY Times:
Ignoring direct pleas from the Obama administration, Europe’s biggest economies have declared their desire to become founding members of a new Chinese-led Asian investment bank that the United States views as a rival to the World Bank and other institutions set up at the height of American power after World War II.The announcement on Tuesday by Germany, France and Italy that they would follow Britain and join the Chinese-led venture delivered a stinging rebuke to Washington from some of its closest allies. It also called into question whether the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which grew out of a multination conference in Bretton Woods, N.H., in 1944 and established an economic pecking order that lasted 70 years, will find their influence diminished.The announcement by Germany, Europe’s largest economy, came only six days after Secretary of State John Kerry asked his German counterpart, Frank Walter-Steinmeier, to resist the Chinese overtures until the Chinese agreed to a number of conditions about transparency and governing of the new entity. But Germany came to the same conclusion that Britain did: China is such a large export and investment market for it that it cannot afford to stay on the sidelines.
South Korea, another US ally that the Obama administration has not-so-subtly lobbied to stay out of the AIIB for the time being, is reportedly reconsidering a bid to join and although reports that Seoul had already committed to the venture appear to have been a bit premature, the country will make a decision this month and is expected to discuss specifics this weekend at a meeting with Chinese and Japanese officials. Here’s FT:
The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea will meet in Seoul this weekend for the first time in three years, in an effort to calm tensions in the region.The trio have strong economic ties but frosty relations. International angst about this state of affairs among the regional superpowers has been further piqued by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a Chinese-led initiative sparking alarm in Washington and proving divisive elsewhere.
Meanwhile, even Europe’s own “magical fairyland” is taking the plunge. Via Bloomberg:
China welcomes Luxembourg’s application to be a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China’s finance ministry says in a statement on website.
Buy the Rumor, Sell the NewsAll those bemoaning what rate hikes could potentially portend for the US Dollar need to get a grip, the rate hikes are already priced in. That`s how markets work, buy the rumor and sell the news or ...
Plunge Protection Exposed: Bank Of Japan Stepped In A Stunning 143 Times To Buy Stocks, Prevent Drop
Since 2010, The Bank of Japan has 'openly' - no conspiracy theory here - been a buyer of Japanese stock ETFs. Their bravado increased as the years passed and Abe pressured them from their independence to 'show' that his policies were working to the point that in September 2014, The BoJ bought a record amount of Japanese stock ETFstaking its holdings to over 1.5% of the entire market cap, surpassing Nippon Life as the largest individual holder of Japanese stocks. However, as WSJ reports, The BoJ has now gone full intervention-tard - buying Japanese stocks on 76% of the days when the market opened lower.
The Bank of Japan’s aggressive purchasing of stock funds has helped Japanese shares climb to multiyear highs in recent months. But some within the central bank are growing uncomfortable about the fast-paced rally and the bank’s own role in fueling it.Since Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda took office in March 2013 and introduced monetary easing of what he called a “different dimension,” the central bank has sharply increased its buying of baskets of stocks known as exchange-traded funds. By directly underpinning the market, officials have tried to encourage private investors to follow suit and put more money in stocks in the hope of stimulating the economy and increasing inflation.During the past two years, the central bank entered the stock market roughly once every three days, picking up a total of ¥2.8 trillion ($23 billion) of ETFs that track Japan’s major stock indexes, according to Bank of Japan records. That distinguishes it from the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, both of which have bought bonds to pump up the economy but haven’t directly bought stocks.Analysts say the bank’s action has been a significant driver of Japan’s stock-market rally in recent months, combined with hefty purchases by the $1.1 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund. Their buying has often countered selling pressure from individuals in the market and made up for a weaker appetite among foreign investors.
The central bank has stepped in mostly when market sentiment was weak. Three-quarters of the central bank’s buying occurred on days when the benchmark Topix index opened lower, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of BOJ data.
So much for independence...
BOJ officials used to be cautious about purchasing ETFs, worried that it could distort market activities and put the central bank’s own financial health at risk. But under pressure from politicians following the global financial crisis, the bank changed its stance in late 2010.“We led the cows to water, but they didn’t drink it, even though we told them it tasted good,” Miyako Suda, who was a board member then, wrote in a 2014 book discussing monetary easing at that time. “So we thought we should drink it ourselves, showing them it was tasty.”