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The mainstream press is accusing Russia of being behind the release of information on the NSA's dirty hacking tools.
Washington’s Blog asked the highest-level NSA whistleblower in history, William Binney – the NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, who served as the senior technical director within the agency, who managed six thousand NSA employees, the 36-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency and the NSA’s best-ever analyst and code-breaker, who mapped out the Soviet command-and-control structure before anyone else knew how, and so predicted Soviet invasions before they happened (“in the 1970s, he decrypted the Soviet Union’s command system, which provided the US and its allies with real-time surveillance of all Soviet troop movements and Russian atomic weapons”) – what he thinks of such claims.
Binney told us:
The probability is that an insider provided the data.

I say this because the NSA net is a closed net that is continuously encrypted.  Which would mean, that if someone wanted to hack into the NSA network they would not only have to know weaknesses in the network/firewalls/tables and passwords but also be able to penetrate the encryption.

So, my bet is that it is an insider.  In my opinion, if the Russians had these files, they would use them not leak them or any part of them to the world.
Similarly, former NSA employee, producer for ABC’s World News Tonight, and long-time reporter on the NSA James Bamfordnotes:
If Russia had stolen the hacking tools, it would be senseless to publicize the theft, let alone put them up for sale. It would be like a safecracker stealing the combination to a bank vault and putting it on Facebook. Once revealed, companies and governments would patch their firewalls, just as the bank would change its combination.

A more logical explanation could also be insider theft. If that’s the case, it’s one more reason to question the usefulness of an agency that secretly collects private information on millions of Americans but can’t keep its most valuable data from being stolen, or as it appears in this case, being used against us.

***

The reasons given for laying the blame on Russia appear less convincing, however. “This is probably some Russian mind game, down to the bogus accent,” James A. Lewis, a computer expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, told the New York Times. Why the Russians would engage in such a mind game, he never explained.

Rather than the NSA hacking tools being snatched as a result of a sophisticated cyber operation by Russia or some other nation, it seems more likely that an employee stole them. Experts who have analyzed the files suspect that they date to October 2013, five months after Edward Snowden left his contractor position with the NSA and fled to Hong Kong carrying flash drives containing hundreds of thousands of pages of NSA documents.
So, if Snowden could not have stolen the hacking tools, there are indications that after he departed in May 2013, someone else did, possibly someone assigned to the agency’s highly sensitive Tailored Access Operations.

In December 2013, another highly secret NSA document quietly became public. It was a top secret TAO catalog of NSA hacking tools. Known as the Advanced Network Technology (ANT) catalog, it consisted of 50 pages of extensive pictures, diagrams and descriptions of tools for every kind of hack, mostly targeted at devices manufactured by U.S. companies, including Apple, Cisco, Dell and many others.

Like the hacking tools, the catalog used similar codenames.

***

In 2014, I spent three days in Moscow with Snowden for a magazine assignment and a PBS documentary. During our on-the-record conversations, he would not talk about the ANT catalog, perhaps not wanting to bring attention to another possible NSA whistleblower.

I was, however, given unrestricted access to his cache of documents. These included both the entire British, or GCHQ, files and the entire NSA files.

But going through this archive using a sophisticated digital search tool, I could not find a single reference to the ANT catalog. This confirmed for me that it had likely been released by a second leaker. And if that person could have downloaded and removed the catalog of hacking tools, it’s also likely he or she could have also downloaded and removed the digital tools now being leaked.
And Motherboard reports:
“My colleagues and I are fairly certain that this was no hack, or group for that matter,” the former NSA employee told Motherboard. “This ‘Shadow Brokers’ character is one guy, an insider employee.”

The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said that it’d be much easier for an insider to obtain the data that The Shadow Brokers put online rather than someone else, even Russia, remotely stealing it. He argued that “naming convention of the file directories, as well as some of the scripts in the dump are only accessible internally,” and that “there is no reason” for those files to be on a server someone could hack. He claimed that these sorts of files are on a physically separated network that doesn’t touch the internet; an air-gap.

***

“We are 99.9 percent sure that Russia has nothing to do with this and even though all this speculation is more sensational in the media, the insider theory should not be dismissed,” the source added. “We think it is the most plausible.”

***

Another former NSA source, who was contacted independently and spoke on condition of anonymity, said that “it’s plausible” that the leakers are actually a disgruntled insider, claiming that it’s easier to walk out of the NSA with a USB drive or a CD than hack its servers.

Michael Adams, an information security expert who served more than two decades in the US Special Operations Command, agreed that it’s a viable theory.

“It’s Snowden junior,” Adams told Motherboard. “Except he doesn’t want to end up in virtual prison in Russia. He’s smart enough to rip off shit, but also smart enough to be unidentifiable.”
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Well, it finally happened.  Mark your calendars for the year 2016 as 'the year' a real One World Currency has been announced.  But don't worry - as we explain in Splitting Pennies - Understanding Forex - MONEY DOESN'T EXIST.
How is it possible, you say - when we haven't heard about it in the news?  Let's start with the 'lead' story on this breaking event:
UBS, Deutsche Bank, Santander and BNY Mellon have partnered up to create a new digital currency to facilitate intra-bank settlements, the FT reports. The cryptocurrency will use blockchain technology underpinning the Bitcoin.
Why is this different than any other Bitcoin startup - there sure have been many.  Because these are the banks that control the global currency market, also known as AKA 'the cartel' according to court documents.  
Checkout some of the stories leading up into this climatic moment:
So why does any of this matter?  Central Banking policy has run the global economy into the ground.  Central Banks OWN $25 Trillion of Financial Assets.  $13 Trillion worth of Government Bonds in the world have NEGATIVE YIELDS.  The financial system as it is now, is on the path for implosion. 
Settlement Coin apparently is targeting 'back office settlement' to reduce costs which are about $80 Billion per year.  But why then does RT compare it with SDRs:
If implemented, the new cryptocurrency would be the first to be used officially between major financial institutions. The concept resembles the IMF’s Special Drawing Right (SDR), introduced in 1964. Based on a basket of currencies (the US dollar, euro, the Japanese yen, pound sterling and the soon to be joined Chinese yuan this October), it is used to supplement the IMF’s member countries’ official reserve. As of March 2016, 204.1 billion SDRs equivalent to about $285 billion had been created and allocated to countries.
Has the world gone mad, and people don't understand the difference between "Blockchain" and "Bitcoin" and "Cryptocurrency" and "US Dollars" ?  We have to note here, RT needs to hire some "Forex Experts" to consult with their authors on this topic.
To clarify, the big banks are working on multiple blockchain projects, as well - most of them have filed patents for their own crypto currencies, most notably, Citi: 
Citi Research released a 56-page report on bitcoin saying that it is not going to disrupt banks or credit card networks. It says there will be increased transaction costs for bitcoin to provide increased volume. As for the use of bitcoin in remittance payments, it says bitcoin’s advantage dissipates when the “last mile” cost of converting to fiat currency is considered. The report notes the growth of bitcoin mobile apps in developing countries but sees regulations rising that put them in question. It claims existing payment systems are generally efficient. The report also talks about Ripple and Ethereum as well as government-backed digital currencies. There is also an extensive summary of bitcoin’s legal status in different countries.
Once implemented, these banks have the means to quickly connect this new cryptocurrency "Settlement Coin" to their existing global network, as well as adding their own proprietary currencies such as "CitiCoin."
It will take some time before the cryptocurrency is even released, and still probably years before it's widely accepted.  What makes this week's announcement unique is that, for the first time the banks publicly announced they are making a new digital 'crypto currency' that isn't issued by a central bank, that can be implemented by them across and without borders, which is a perfect fit for a replacement of the US Dollar and other fiat currencies when they completely run out of QE steam.
But here's the real clincher, exposing this as a real One World Currency:
One of those resources is the real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system used by central banks (it's typically reserved for high-value transactions that need to be settled instantly), and the other is central bank-issued cash.  Using the Utility Settlement Coin (USC) unveiled today, the five-member consortium that has sprung up around the project aims to help central banks open-up access to these tools to more customers. If successful, USC has the potential to create entirely new business models built on instant settling and easy cash transfers.  In interview, Robert Sams, founder of London-based Clearmatics, said his firm initially worked with UBS to build the network, and that BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, ICAP and Santander are only just the first of many future members.  "Cash is a leg to almost every trade," said Sams, who previously worked for nine years as a derivatives trader with Sanctum FI, also in London. "In order to get most of the benefits of a distributed ledger in settlement, there has to be cash on a distributed ledger rail."  How transactions might be processed, and who will own the nodes, has also not been shared. But what we do know based on a statement from the company is that Clearmatics described the USC as "a series of cash assets" for currencies, including US dollars, euros, British pounds and Swiss francs.
For those who understand that it's monetary policy driving the value of currencies down, not supply and demand, there's no need to read between the lines - they spell it all out real simple.
For a quick primer for those who don't know, the Federal Reserve is the sole issuer of US Currency (not the US Mint, who prints notes and coins.)  The Federal Reserve is a private institution, owned by the banks.  It was previously thought that, the idea of a one world currency was preposterous, because, how would all countries agree on having a single central bank?  But here's the workaround - the Forex banks have a monopoly on the global monetary system.  So by forcing their central bank partners to use "Settlement Coin" in order to save on hefty settlement fees (and it will solve the problem of the recent SWIFT hacks as well - part of the plan??? )
A few scenarios here - one, the banks knew that if they didn't do it, some new players might do it.  Two, this plan was hatched long ago by some clandestine CIA op, starting with the release of Bitcoin, leading into the global one world cryptocurrency, all sponsored by Illuminati.  Three, central banks have legitimate concerns about security (such as because of recent hacks) and have no real way out of QE, they can't stop it and they can't continue it.  This is a parallel financial system in which assets can be transferred over to.
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As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture.
Five basic verities regarding the emerging redistribution of global political power and the violent political awakening in the Middle East are signaling the coming of a new global realignment.
The first of these verities is that the United States is still the world’s politically, economically, and militarily most powerful entity but, given complex geopolitical shifts in regional balances, it is no longer the globally imperial power. But neither is any other major power.
The second verity is that Russia is experiencing the latest convulsive phase of its imperial devolution. A painful process, Russia is not fatally precluded – if it acts wisely – from becoming eventually a leading European nation-state. However, currently it is pointlessly alienating some of its former subjects in the Islamic southwest of its once extensive empire, as well as Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia, not to mention the Baltic States.
The third verity is that China is rising steadily, if more slowly as of late, as America’s eventual coequal and likely rival; but for the time being it is careful not to pose an outright challenge to America. Militarily, it seems to be seeking a breakthrough in a new generation of weapons while patiently enhancing its still very limited naval power.
The fourth verity is that Europe is not now and is not likely to become a global power. But it can play a constructive role in taking the lead in regard to transnational threats to global wellbeing and even human survival. Additionally, Europe is politically and culturally aligned with and supportive of core U.S. interests in the Middle East, and European steadfastness within NATO is essential to an eventually constructive resolution of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
The fifth verity is that the currently violent political awakening among post-colonial Muslims is, in part, a belated reaction to their occasionally brutal suppression mostly by European powers. It fuses a delayed but deeply felt sense of injustice with a religious motivation that is unifying large numbers of Muslims against the outside world; but at the same time, because of historic sectarian schisms within Islam that have nothing to do with the West, the recent welling up of historical grievances is also divisive within Islam.
Taken together as a unified framework, these five verities tell us that the United States must take the lead in realigning the global power architecture in such a way that the violence erupting within and occasionally projected beyond the Muslim world—and in the future possibly from other parts of what used to be called the Third World—can be contained without destroying the global order. We can sketch this new architecture by elaborating briefly each of the five foregoing verities.
First, America can only be effective in dealing with the current Middle Eastern violence if it forges a coalition that involves, in varying degrees, also Russia and China. To enable such a coalition to take shape, Russia must first be discouraged from its reliance on the unilateral use of force against its own neighbors—notably Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic States—and China should be disabused of the idea that selfish passivity in the face of the rising regional crisis in the Middle East will prove to be politically and economically rewarding to its ambitions in the global arena. These shortsighted policy impulses need to be channeled into a more farsighted vision.
Second, Russia is becoming for the first time in its history a truly national state, a development that is as momentous as it is generally overlooked. The Czarist Empire, with its multinational but largely politically passive population, came to an end with World War I and the Bolshevik creation of an allegedly voluntary union of national republics (the USSR), with power resting effectively in Russian hands, took its place. The collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991 led to the sudden emergence of a predominantly Russian state as its successor, and to the transformation of the former Soviet Union’s non-Russian “republics” into formally independent states. These states are now consolidating their independence, and both the West and China—in different areas and different ways—are exploiting that new reality to Russia’s disadvantage. In the meantime, Russia’s own future depends on its ability to become a major and influential nation-state that is part of a unifying Europe. Not to do so could have dramatically negative consequences for Russia’s ability to withstand growing territorial-demographic pressure from China, which is increasingly inclined as its power grows to recall the “unequal” treaties Moscow imposed on Beijing in times past.
Third, China’s dramatic economic success requires enduring patience and the country’s awareness that political haste will make for social waste. The best political prospect for China in the near future is to become America’s principal partner in containing global chaos of the sort that is spreading outward (including to the northeast) from the Middle East. If it is not contained, it will contaminate Russia’s southern and eastern territories as well as the western portions of China. Closer relations between China and the new republics in Central Asia, the post-British Muslim states in Southwest Asia (notably Pakistan) and especially with Iran (given its strategic assets and economic significance), are the natural targets of Chinese regional geopolitical outreach. But they should also be targets of global Sino-American accommodation.
Fourth, tolerable stability will not return to the Middle East as long as local armed military formations can calculate that they can be simultaneously the beneficiaries of a territorial realignment while selectively abetting extreme violence. Their ability to act in a savage manner can only be contained by increasingly effective—but also selective—pressure derived from a base of U.S.-Russian-Chinese cooperation that, in turn, enhances the prospects for the responsible use of force by the region’s more established states (namely, Iran, Turkey, Israel, and Egypt). The latter should also be the recipients of more selective European support. Under normal circumstances, Saudi Arabia would be a significant player on that list, but the current inclination of the Saudi government still to foster Wahhabi fanaticism, even while engaged in ambitious domestic modernization efforts, raises grave doubts regarding Saudi Arabia’s ability to play a regionally significant constructive role.
Fifth, special attention should be focused on the non-Western world’s newly politically aroused masses. Long-repressed political memories are fueling in large part the sudden and very explosive awakening energized by Islamic extremists in the Middle East, but what is happening in the Middle East today may be just the beginning of a wider phenomenon to come out of Africa, Asia, and even among the pre-colonial peoples of the Western Hemisphere in the years ahead.
Periodic massacres of their not-so-distant ancestors by colonists and associated wealth-seekers largely from western Europe (countries that today are, still tentatively at least, most open to multiethnic cohabitation) resulted within the past two or so centuries in the slaughter of colonized peoples on a scale comparable to Nazi World War II crimes: literally involving hundreds of thousands and even millions of victims. Political self-assertion enhanced by delayed outrage and grief is a powerful force that is now surfacing, thirsting for revenge, not just in the Muslim Middle East but also very likely beyond.
Much of the data cannot be precisely established, but taken collectively, they are shocking. Let just a few examples suffice. In the 16th century, due largely to disease brought by Spanish explorers, the population of the native Aztec Empire in present-day Mexico declined from 25 million to approximately one million. Similarly, in North America, an estimated 90 percent of the native population died within the first five years of contact with European settlers, due primarily to diseases. In the 19th century, various wars and forced resettlements killed an additional 100,000. In India from 1857-1867, the British are suspected of killing up to one million civilians in reprisals stemming from the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The British East India Company’s use of Indian agriculture to grow opium then essentially forced on China resulted in the premature deaths of millions, not including the directly inflicted Chinese casualties of the First and Second Opium Wars. In the Congo, which was the personal holding of Belgian King Leopold II, 10-15 million people were killed between 1890 and 1910. In Vietnam, recent estimates suggest that between one and three million civilians were killed from 1955 to 1975.
As to the Muslim world in Russia’s Caucasus, from 1864 and 1867, 90 percent of the local Circassian population was forcibly relocated and between 300,000 and 1.5 million either starved to death or were killed. Between 1916 and 1918, tens of thousands of Muslims were killed when 300,000 Turkic Muslims were forced by Russian authorities through the mountains of Central Asia and into China. In Indonesia, between 1835 and 1840, the Dutch occupiers killed an estimated 300,000 civilians. In Algeria, following a 15-year civil war from 1830-1845, French brutality, famine, and disease killed 1.5 million Algerians, nearly half the population. In neighboring Libya, the Italians forced Cyrenaicans into concentration camps, where an estimated 80,000 to 500,000 died between 1927 and 1934.
More recently, in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 the Soviet Union is estimated to have killed around one million civilians; two decades later, the United States has killed 26,000 civilians during its 15-year war in Afghanistan. In Iraq, 165,000 civilians have been killed by the United States and its allies in the past 13 years. (The disparity between the reported number of deaths inflicted by European colonizers compared with the United States and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan may be due in part to the technological advances that have resulted in the more productive use of force and in part as well to a shift in the world’s normative climate.) Just as shocking as the scale of these atrocities is how quickly the West forgot about them.
In today’s postcolonial world, a new historical narrative is emerging. A profound resentment against the West and its colonial legacy in Muslim countries and beyond is being used to justify their sense of deprivation and denial of self-dignity. A stark example of the experience and attitudes of colonial peoples is well summarized by the Senegalese poet David Diop in “Vultures”:
In those days,When civilization kicked us in the faceThe vultures built in the shadow of their talonsThe blood stained monument of tutelage…
Given all this, a long and painful road toward an initially limited regional accommodation is the only viable option for the United States, Russia, China, and the pertinent Middle Eastern entities. For the United States, that will require patient persistence in forging cooperative relationships with some new partners (particularly Russia and China) as well as joint efforts with more established and historically rooted Muslim states (Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia if it can detach its foreign policy from Wahhabi extremism) in shaping a wider framework of regional stability. Our European allies, previously dominant in the region, can still be helpful in that regard.
A comprehensive U.S. pullout from the Muslim world favored by domestic isolationists, could give rise to new wars (for example, Israel vs. Iran, Saudi Arabia vs. Iran, a major Egyptian intervention in Libya) and would generate an even deeper crisis of confidence in America’s globally stabilizing role. In different but dramatically unpredictable ways, Russia and China could be the geopolitical beneficiaries of such a development even as global order itself becomes the more immediate geopolitical casualty. Last but not least, in such circumstances a divided and fearful Europe would see its current member states searching for patrons and competing with one another in alternative but separate arrangements among the more powerful trio.
Aconstructive U.S. policy must be patiently guided by a long-range vision. It must seek outcomes that promote the gradual realization in Russia (probably post-Putin) that its only place as an influential world power is ultimately within Europe. China’s increasing role in the Middle East should reflect the reciprocal American and Chinese realization that a growing U.S.-PRC partnership in coping with the Middle Eastern crisis is an historically significant test of their ability to shape and enhance together wider global stability.
The alternative to a constructive vision, and especially the quest for a one-sided militarily and ideologically imposed outcome, can only result in prolonged and self-destructive futility. For America, that could entail enduring conflict, fatigue, and conceivably even a demoralizing withdrawal to its pre-20th century isolationism. For Russia, it could mean major defeat, increasing the likelihood of subordination in some fashion to Chinese predominance. For China, it could portend war not only with the United States but also, perhaps separately, with either Japan or India or with both. And, in any case, a prolonged phase of sustained ethnic, quasi-religious wars pursued through the Middle East with self-righteous fanaticism would generate escalating bloodshed within and outside the region, and growing cruelty everywhere.
The fact is that there has never been a truly “dominant” global power until the emergence of America on the world scene. Imperial Great Britain came close to becoming one, but World War I and later World War II not only bankrupted it but also prompted the emergence of rival regional powers. The decisive new global reality was the appearance on the world scene of America as simultaneously the richest and militarily the most powerful player. During the latter part of the 20thcentury no other power even came close.
That era is now ending. While no state is likely in the near future to match America’s economic-financial superiority, new weapons systems could suddenly endow some countries with the means to commit suicide in a joint tit-for-tat embrace with the United States, or even to prevail. Without going into speculative detail, the sudden acquisition by some state of the capacity to render America militarily inferior would spell the end of America’s global role. The result would most probably be global chaos. And that is why it behooves the United States to fashion a policy in which at least one of the two potentially threatening states becomes a partner in the quest for regional and then wider global stability, and thus in containing the least predictable but potentially the most likely rival to overreach. Currently, the more likely to overreach is Russia, but in the longer run it could be China.
Since the next twenty years may well be the last phase of the more traditional and familiar political alignments with which we have grown comfortable, the response needs to be shaped now. During the rest of this century, humanity will also have to be increasingly preoccupied with survival as such on account of a confluence of environmental challenges. Those challenges can only be addressed responsibly and effectively in a setting of increased international accommodation. And that accommodation has to be based on a strategic vision that recognizes the urgent need for a new geopolitical framework.
*The author acknowledges the helpful contribution of his research assistant Paul Wasserman, and the scholarship on the subject of colonial brutality by Adam Hochschild, Richard Pierce, William Polk, and the Watson Institute at Brown University, among others.
Zbigniew Brzezinski is a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and was the National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977-81. He is the author, most recently, of Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power.

UBS, Deutsche Bank, Santander and BNY Mellon have partnered up to create a new digital currency to facilitate intra-bank settlements, the FT reports. The cryptocurrency will use blockchain technology underpinning the Bitcoin.
The banks are working with London-based blockchain startup Clearmatics, and the official launch is expected in 2018, according to the media.
“Today trading between banks and institutions is difficult, time-consuming and costly, which is why we all have big back offices. This is about streamlining it and making it more efficient,” Julio Faura, head of R&D and innovation at Santander told the FT.
All four banks are members of the 50-strong R3 consortium of financial institutions exploring ways of blockchain usage in the financial system.
“You need a form of digital cash on the distributed ledger in order to get maximum benefit from these technologies. What that allows us to do is to take away the time these processes take, such as waiting for payment to arrive. That frees up capital trapped during the process,” said Hyder Jaffrey, head of financial technology innovation at UBS.
According to a report by a consulting firm Oliver Wyman, the world spends up to $80 billion every year to clear and settle trades.
This post sponsored by LIQUID CLAIMS

With 85% of Wall Street telling Citi they expect a "dovish hike signal" from Yellen tomorrow, which means a polite request for another BTFD opportunity, even if as BofA says "expectations for a dovish Fed are coinciding with macro strength in the US (most obviously in housing & consumer spending) as well as highest level of wage inflation since Jan’10"...
... here is a quick reminder of where we currently stand from BofA's Michael Hartnett, from a brief note titled The Liquidity Supernova & the "Keynesian Put."
* * *
Risk assets are now supported by the new ”Keynesian Put”, the expectation that fiscal measures will be deployed to combat any renewed weakness in the economy/markets (independently of any larger political projects). But asset prices remain primarily supported by excess monetary abundance across the world:
  1. There have been 667 interest rate cuts by global central banks since Lehman;
  2. G7 central bank governors Yellen, Kuroda, Draghi, Carney & Poloz have been in their current posts for a collective 17 years, yet only one (Yellen in Dec’15) has actually hiked interest rates during this time;
  3. Central banks own $25tn of financial assets (a sum larger than GDP of US + Japan, and up $12tn since Lehman);
  4. There are currently $12.3tn of negative yielding global bonds (28% of total);
  5. There is currently $8tn of negative yielding sovereign debt (54% of total).
Do not expect any unwind of this $25 trillion in risk asset support to be unwound any time soon, or perhaps ever, or else...
The Crab Nebula supernova

YOUR POCKET GUIDE TO BE A FOREX GENIUS - SPLITTING PENNIES


A year-old technology firm wants to simplify currency markets by streamlining the way trading data is stored using blockchain-based technology.
Cobalt DL, a London-based firm created last year by former Traiana Inc. Chief Executive Officer Andy Coyne, announced Wednesday that it began beta testing on a distributed ledger network, which the firm hopes can cut post-trade costs and provide a singular database for foreign-exchange transactions. Set to launch in 2017, the network will create a single record for each trade.
“The execution in the FX markets over the last 10 years has really accelerated,” Coyne said. “If you’re not simplifying, if you’re not taking the opportunity to recreate the whole shared trade system, I think you’re missing an opportunity.”
The platform, according to a statement, is expected to save “billions of dollars” for market participants by avoiding things like charges for ticketing, staffing and licensing. Currently, many are burdened by having to maintain multiple systems and layers to maintain records, Coyne said.
The network will use blockchain concepts like encryption and digital signatures to create the unified system. Blockchain, the software that powers bitcoin, is a type of distributed database that’s being touted as a way to upend the financial industry.
Cobalt already has eight “leading institutional FX participants” signed on to use the system. The firm declined to specify the firms. The announcement comes 18 months after Coyne left Traiana, which was owned by ICAP Plc, an independent brokerage firm that provides a similar system.

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Deposit bail-in risks are slowly being realised in Ireland, after it emerged overnight that FBD, one of Ireland's largest insurance companies, have been moving cash out of Irish bank deposits and into bonds.
Revelations regarding deposit bail-in risks came in the wake of warnings of a new property crash centred on the housing market in Ireland. The former deputy governor of the Central Bank warned in an op-ed in a leading international financial publication, Project Syndicate, that Ireland is at risk of another housing market crash.
Insurer FBD has moved over €150 million out of the Irish banking system and into corporate and sovereign bonds over the past year. The move was prompted by low returns offered by bank deposits and the risks that deposit bail-in rules could see deposits confiscated.
FBD chief executive Fiona Muldoon told the Irish Independent that the "extremely low returns offered on term deposits by banks, coupled with fears that new bail-in rules introduced this year by the European Union could expose bank bondholders and depositors to bailing out a failed lender, meant it has shifted investments away from banks."
The new deposit bail-in mechanism is designed to protect banks and is touted as a way to prevent taxpayers being liable for bailing out collapsed lenders. It is believed that it leaves bank bondholders and deposit customers with more than €100,000 on deposit at risk of footing the bill.
There is a belief that bail-ins only relate to “the wealthy” and "rich" depositors as they will be imposed on those with deposits greater than national deposit guarantees. These deposit “guarantees” are generally the ‘big round’, arbitrary number of say €100,000, $250,000 and £75,000. These are not particularly large amounts and could amount to the entire life savings of a pensioner, a family or indeed it could be the entire capital of a small to medium size business enterprise.
An example of this is the UK where the deposit guarantee was arbitrarily, suddenly and with little fanfare quietly reduced from £100,000 to £75,000 just last year in July 2015.
Thus, it is important to note that the arbitrary round number in the various government deposit guarantees can be, and probably will be, reduced to a lower number – say the new round number of €50,000, £50,000 and $50,000 -  depending on the severity of the next banking crash.
In the event of bail-ins, governments and banks are likely to seek to impose deeper haircuts on creditors including depositors in order to bail-out and protect the failing banking system.
FBD's deposits with Irish banks were reduced from €451 million to €305 million in recent months. FBD made a €3.1m loss in the first half of the year.
As reported by the Irish Independent:
"As they mature, and as the bank bail-in rules come into play, it's no longer the case that for corporate investors depositing at a bank is risk free," she added.
"To be honest, the return is abysmal now. We've gone back to a more typical investment portfolio for an insurance company."
"You have to be paid for the risk you take," she added. "You might entertain the bail-in risk if you were being properly paid. But if you've a bank trying to charge you for leaving your money with them, you're not inclined to take any risk at all."
The recent bank stress tests showed that Irish banks are the most vulnerable in the EU in the event of another financial crisis.
Meanwhile, the risk of another property crash centred on the housing market has been warned of by a respected economist. Stefan Gerlach, who left the Central Bank of Ireland earlier this year to become Chief Economist at BSI Bank in Zurich, asked:
"Having endured the collapse of its housing market less than a decade ago, Ireland has lately been experiencing a blistering recovery in prices, which already have risen in Dublin by some 50% from the trough in 2010, is Ireland setting itself up for another devastating crash?”
Among the concerns he expresses in an article titled 'The Return of Ireland’s Housing Bubble' for the global finance think-tank Project Syndicate is that the Central Bank here is coming under undue pressure from the construction industry and politicians to relax the loan to value and loan to income ratios on mortgage lending it introduced last year.
He warns that while housing bubbles are easy to spot, there are a number of conflicts of interest that make it hard to take action as the market gets out of control as reported by Newstalk:
"The obvious question is why nobody stepped in before it was too late. The answer is simple: while the bubbles are inflating, many people benefit. With the construction sector thriving, unemployment falling, and banks lending freely, people are happy – and politicians like it that way."
"Many in Ireland might find that conclusion overly pessimistic. Maybe they are simply hoping that, this time, the luck of the Irish will hold. Perhaps it will, and this time really is different. But there isn’t much evidence of that," he concludes.
The 'Bail-in regime' is one of the greatest financial risks to investors, savers and indeed companies internationally today. Yet it remains the most poorly covered financial risk and is largely ignored by financial advisers, brokers and not surprisingly governments and banks.
The growing financial risk in all western countries has not been properly analysed. In a world already beset with huge deflationary pressures and still insolvent banks, the bail-in regime and confiscating deposits, especially from job creating companies, would be extremely deflationary and would likely contribute to severe recessions.
This is something we warned of when we first conducted our extensive research on the developing global bail-in regimes after the Cyprus bail-ins in 2013. Diversification of deposits remains vital and one important way to protect against a bail-in is owning physical gold. Taking delivery of gold coins and bars and owning bullion in allocated and segregated storage in the safest vaults in the world is a prudent way to protect against the deposit bail-in regime.
Gold and Silver Bullion - News and Commentary
Gold Prices (LBMA AM)
15Aug: USD 1,339.20, GBP 1,037.21 & EUR 1,198.85 per ounce
12Aug: USD 1,336.70, GBP 1,032.60 & EUR 1,199.02 per ounce
11Aug: USD 1,344.55, GBP 1,037.05 & EUR 1,206.06 per ounce
10Aug: USD 1,351.85, GBP 1,035.11 & EUR 1,209.23 per ounce
09Aug: USD 1,332.90, GBP 1,025.80 & EUR 1,201.74 per ounce
08Aug: USD 1,330.00, GBP 1,019.84 & EUR 1,198.86 per ounce
05Aug: USD 1,362.60, GBP 1,036.39 & EUR 1,222.53 per ounce
Silver Prices (LBMA)
15Aug: USD 19.90, GBP 15.40 & EUR 17.81 per ounce
12Aug: USD 19.87, GBP 15.33 & EUR 17.81 per ounce
11Aug: USD 20.21, GBP 15.56 & EUR 18.13 per ounce
10Aug: USD 20.34, GBP 15.55 & EUR 18.19 per ounce
09Aug: USD 19.70, GBP 15.18 & EUR 17.77 per ounce
08Aug: USD 19.66, GBP 15.04 & EUR 17.74 per ounce
05Aug: USD 20.22, GBP 15.36 & EUR 18.14 per ounce

Recent Market Updates
- Money "Madness" Negative Interest Rates Sees Gold Buying Surge
- Gold Investment Demand Reaches Record In First Half 2016 On “Perfect Storm”
- Peak Gold – Did Gold Production Peak in 2015?
- Financial Times: “Victory For Gold Bulls Is Only Just Beginning”
- Irish Banks Most Vulnerable In Stress Tests – Banking Contagion In EU Cometh
- Gold In Sterling 2.2% Higher After Bank Of England Cuts To 0.25% and Expands QE
- Silver Kangaroo Coins – Sales Surge To Over 10 Million
- Trump, Clinton, "Ugliest" Election Coming - Gold's "Summer Doldrums" Prior To Resumption of Bull Market
- Marc Faber: Invest 25% Of Investment Portfolios In Gold Bullion
- “Could Not Invent A More Bullish Story For Gold Bullion”
- Gold In Bull Market – “Every Reason For It To Continue” – Frisby In Money 
- Is Gold Set To Hit $1,500 Per Ounce?
- Why Italy’s bank crisis could be a ‘ticking time bomb’

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-15/deposit-bail-warning-ireland-bail-risk-uk-very-high

The Defense Department over the years has been notorious for its lax accounting practices. The Pentagon has never completed an audit of how they actually spend the trillions of dollars on wars, equipment, personnel, housing, healthcare and procurements.
An increasingly impatient Congress has demanded that the Army achieve “audit readiness” for the first time by Sept. 30, 2017, so that lawmakers can get a better handle on military spending. But Pentagon watchdogs think that may be mission impossible, and for good reason.
A Department of Defense inspector general’s report released last week offered a jaw-dropping insight into just how bad the military’s auditing system is.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the behemoth Indianapolis-based agency that provides finance and accounting services for the Pentagon’s civilian and military members, could not provide adequate documentation for $6.5 trillion worth of year-end adjustments to Army general fund transactions and data.
The DFAS has the sole responsibility for paying all DOD military and personnel, retirees and annuitants, along with Pentagon contractors and vendors. The agency is also in charge of electronic government initiatives, including within the Executive Office of the President, the Department of Energy and the Departing of Veterans Affairs.
There’s nothing in the new IG’s report to suggest that anyone has misplaced or absconded with large sums of money. Rather, the agency has done an incompetent job of providing written authorization for every one of their transactions – so-called “journal vouchers” that provide serial numbers, transaction dates and the amount of the expenditure.
In short, the DFAS has lagged far behind in providing the tracking information essential to performing an accurate audit of Pentagon spending and obligations, according to the IG’s report.
“Army and Defense Finance and Accounting Service Indianapolis personnel did not adequately support $2.8 trillion in third quarter adjustments and $6.5 trillion in year-end adjustments made to Army General Fund data during FY 2015 financial statement compilation,” wrote Lorin T. Venable, the assistant inspector general for financial management and reporting. “We conducted this audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.”
A further mystery is what happened to thousands of documents that should be on file but aren’t. The IG study found that DFAS “did not document or support why the Defense Departmental Reporting System . . . removed at least 16,513 of 1.3 million records during Q3 FY 2015. As a result, the data used to prepare the FY 2015 AGF third quarter and year-end financial statements were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail,” the IG’s report stated.
The long march-Pentagon audit chart
The troubling findings emerged from a wide-ranging audit of the capital funds and financial statements across the military services, including the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Army.
The problem is no secret to investigative reporter Scot Paltrow at Reuters, who exposed outrageous fraud and abuse in a three-part series in 2013 called, “Unaccountable.”
He wrote:
“For two decades, the U.S. military has been unable to submit to an audit, flouting federal law and concealing waste and fraud totaling billions of dollars.
Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.
Every month until she retired in 2011, she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio DFAS…. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s…. And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from.” 
The IG has cautioned in the past that journal voucher adjustments should comply with applicable regulations, which require adequate documentation for each transaction. The June 26 IG’s report made a number of requests and suggestions that DFAS officials and the Pentagon have agreed to go comply with.
The top suggestion is the most obvious one: that DFAS enforce “the applicable guidance” periodically issued by the Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller “regarding journal voucher category identification codes and metric reporting.”
“Until the Army and DFAS Indianapolis correct these control deficiencies, there is considerable risk that AGF financial statements will be materially misstated and the Army will not achieve audit readiness by the congressionally mandated deadline of September 30, 2017,” the report warned. 

The unexpectedly sharp antagonism between Turkey and the west accelerated today, and one day after NATO preemptivelyreminded Turkey that it is still a NATO alliance member and advising Ankara that "Turkey’s NATO membership is not in question",Turkey had some more choice words for its military allies. Cited by Reuters, Turkey foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish's NTV television on Thursday that the country "may seek other options outside NATO for defense industry cooperation, although its first option is always cooperation with its NATO allies." Translation: if Russia (and/or China) gives us a better "defensive" offer, we just may take it.
The sharply worded retort came on the same day that Turkey said it will resume airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria, and asked Russia to carry out joint operations against its “common enemy.”  Ankara halted strikes after the downing of a Russian plane by Turkish forces last year.
In the same interview, Cavusolgu said that Ankara “will again, in an active manner, with its planes take part in operations” against Islamic State targets. Cavusolgu also said that Ankara has called on Moscow to carry out joint operations against the “common enemy” of IS. "Let's fight against the terrorist group together, so that we can clear it out as soon as possible,"Cavusolgu said, adding that otherwise IS will continue to expand and spread into other countries.
To be sure, coming from the nation which directly engaged in oil trade with the Islamic State, this is at least a little ironic, however, what is notable is the significant pivot Turkey has made vis-a-vis military engagements, rotating not toward the US alliance, but toward the Kremlin.
"We will discuss all the details. We have always called on Russia to carry out anti-Daesh [IS] operations together," he said, adding that the proposal is still "on the table." The foreign minister went on to tout the benefits of closer cooperation between Turkey and Russia.
"Many countries are engaged in Syria actively. There could be mistakes," he said. "In order to prevent that, we need to put into practice the solidarity and cooperation [mechanism] between us including sharing of real-time intelligence."
The comments came just days after Turkish President Erdogan visited St. Petersburg for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the first meeting between the two leaders since the plane was downed.
But perhaps the most notable development was reported today by Turkey's Gunes newspaper, which said that as part of the discussion between Putin and Erdogan on Tuesday, the Turkish president suggested to abandon the US dollar in bilateral trade between Turkey and Russia, and instead to transact directly in lira and rubles. This would "benefit both Russia and Turkey", Erdogan allegedly said in his August 9 meeting in St Petersburg, adding that this would relieve the lira from the USD's upward pressure. The reason Erdogan is concerned about exchange rates is because recently Turkish inflation soared by nearly 8% Y/Y, and the recent devaluation of the TRY against the USD has only poured more oil on the fire.
Needless to say, such a bilateral agreement would further infuriate Turkey's European "friends", permanently halting Turkish accession into the customs union, in accordance with Austria's recent demands, and would in turn lead to a dissolution of the refugee agreement that is still keeping millions in refugees away from Europe in general and Germany, and Merkel's plunging popularity ratings, in particular. Which, incidentally, means that not only Erdogan, but now also Putin, holds key leverage over the career of Europe's most important politician.
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Forex trading is difficult; that is to say, opening a Forex account and trading based on price movements, fundamental factors, or market news - is almost impossible.  For this reason the majority of Forex traders rely on some signal system, algori...

The U.S. government finally heard Madoff whistleblower Harry Markopolos loud and clear.
Markopolos, and his whistle-blower group Associates Against FX Insider Trading, were key players in a $530 million settlement announced Wednesday against State Street Bank and Trust Company for allegedly cheating several government bodies on the pricing of their foreign exchange transactions. Markopolos declined to comment.
In a joint announcement on Wednesday the DOJ, SEC, and DOL said that State StreetSTT, +2.67%   will pay $382.4 million, including $155 million to the Department of Justice, $167.4 million to the SEC and at least $60 million to pension plan clients to settle allegations that it deceived some securities custody clients on when it priced foreign currency exchange transactions. The alleged misconduct took place from 1998 to 2009.
The bank also agreed to pay $147.6 million to settle private class action lawsuits filed by bank customers alleging similar misconduct, the Justice Department said.
Markopolos’ group filed its largest forex case originally in California, on behalf of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. That suit was settled last November. Additional cases filed via False Claims Act whistleblower statutes in Virginia, Florida, New York State and Washington state have also already settled. Markopolos and his group have already been paid for their whistleblower efforts based on those settlements.
The payouts conclude almost all of the investigations State Street has faced since 2009, when Markopolos filed the California lawsuit. Associates Against FX Insider Trading and Markopolos are not named in the latest State Street settlement announcements, but Markopolos has previously acknowledged his involvement in the case.
State Street safeguards clients’ securities as part of its custody business and offers indirect foreign currency exchange trading when clients buy and sell foreign currencies as needed to settle transactions, such as interest and principal payments from foreign bond issuers.
State Street admitted in its settlement with the DOJ that it generally did not price FX transactions at prevailing interbank market rates, contrary to what it told certain custody clients. State Street admitted that FX transactions were marked-up or marked-down from the prevailing interbank rate.
State Street allegedly misrepresented to custody clients that it provided “best execution” on FX transactions, that it guaranteed the most competitive rates available on FX transactions and that it priced FX transactions based on a variety of factors. Instead prices were largely driven by hidden mark-ups that maximized State Street’s profits.
Markopolos has also filed a whistleblower claim in the SEC case. It may be at least two more years before that payout occurs based on similar cases.
A State Street Bank spokeswoman said that the negotiated settlement agreements are expected to resolve, subject to the courts’ final approval, the pending litigation and regulatory matters in the United States related to its indirect foreign exchange business.
“Each agreement depends upon certification, for settlement purposes, of a class of State Street’s custody customers that executed indirect foreign exchange transactions with State Street between 1998 and 2009, and final approval by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts of the settlement agreement between State Street and the class,” she said. “Matters of this nature can drain both time and resources; so where possible and appropriate we feel it is in our and our clients’ best interests to pursue settlements. Our previously established reserve will be sufficient to cover all costs associated with these agreements.”
Since the lawsuits were filed the foreign exchange markets have gone from an opaque, manual quote market to a fully electronic market where real-time quotes and historical information is available to institutional and retail customers. Every major bank that acts as a forex dealer has its own quoting and execution platform and multi-dealer platforms have sprung up that offer competitive quoting on worldwide currencies.
Checking on rates in advance or verifying after the fact was very difficult to do in the past. Calling around for competitive rates opened a customer up to potential front-running of the trade by other dealers.
He and other whistle-blowers filed a similar case against Bank of New York Mellon Corp. BK, -0.25%   in Massachusetts. A lawsuit filed on behalf of the New York City pension funds by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in 2011 against Bank of New York Mellon Corp for allegedly shortchanging the funds in foreign currency exchange transactions is still pending.
The New York City BONY Mellon suit is the last open forex case for the Markopolos group.
The SEC has already fined Bank of New York Mellon $30 million in June for misleading certain of its custodial clients about pricing when executing standing instructions for foreign currency transactions.
Markopolos spent years on Bernie Madoff’s trail and tried to warn regulators about the fraud, but he was largely ignored. It’s a frustrating experience he documented in his book, No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller.

SummaryThere's an unlikely, but possible scenario in Britain, where politicians would not enact article 50.If Britain doesn't Brexit - what would happen? A GBP reversal?Confusion exists about where politicians stand on this issue.Something not talked a...

Forex is a Monopoly, controlled by a small 'cartel' of big banks.  That's changing, and changing fast - as a number of non-bank FX participants are replacing the traditional 'big 12.'  As we explain in Splitting Pennies - the fact remain...

A historic event took place moments ago when Mark Johnson, the global head of cash FX at HSBC was arrested at JFK airport for his role in a "conspiracy to rig currency benchmarks", and specifically for frontrunning customer orders. He is the first person charged by the US in the ongoing FX rigging probe.
As Bloomberg reports, a "senior manager at HSBC Holdings Plc was arrested in New York for his role in a conspiracy to rig currency benchmarks, according to two people familiar with the matter, becoming the first person to be charged in the Justice Department’s three-year investigation into foreign-exchange rigging at global banks."
From Johnson's bio:
Johnson is global head of foreign exchange cash trading at HSBC, based in London. Prior to joining HSBC in 2010, he was founding managing partner and chief investment officer at Johnson Stewart Partners. Before that, he was global head of trading at Deutsche Bank.
More details:
Mark Johnson, HSBC’s global head of foreign exchange cash trading in London, was taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport Tuesday and is scheduled to appear before a judge in federal court in Brooklyn Wednesday morning, said the people, who asked not to be named because the case hasn’t been made public. He’s charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the people said.

According to Bloomberg, Johnson’s arrest comes more than a year after five global banks pleaded guilty to charges related to the rigging of currency benchmarks. HSBC, which wasn’t part of those criminal cases, in November 2014 agreed to pay $618 million in penalties to U.S. and British regulators to resolve currency manipulation allegations. HSBC, which still faces investigations by the Justice Department and other authorities for the conduct, has set aside $1.3 billion for possible settlements, according to an August filing.

Rob Sherman, an HSBC spokesman, and Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to comment.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve banned former UBS Group AG trader Matthew Gardiner from the banking industry for life for his role rigging currency benchmarks.  Gardiner used electronic chat rooms, with names including The Cartel and The Mafia, to facilitate the rigging of foreign-exchange benchmarks and to disclose confidential customer information to traders at other banks, the Fed said in astatement Tuesday. That matter is separate from the one involving Johnson, the people said.
Recall that DOJ unwillingness to prosecute HSBC was the ultimate catalyst that prompted former AG Eric Holder to admit thatsome banks are "too big to prosecute." Perhaps with this arrest things are slowly starting to change.
Now, if frontrunning clients is officially an arrest-worthy offense, we can't wait for the DOJ to unleash a crackdown on criminal HFT algos whose only purpose in "life" is to do just that.

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