Financial sources feeds

Republicans were unable to resolve existing differences about the healthcare bill after a Wednesday late-night meeting which ended with no deal, despite President Donald Trump’s demands that they keep trying. Party members also met with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price behind closed doors on Wednesday night to try to reach an agreement on a plan to undo former Democratic President Barack Obama's signature legislation, popularly known as Obamacare, according to Reuters.

The meetings were part of an abrupt shift in strategy by Trump, who is threatening to keep lawmakers in Washington during their August recess if they don’t reach an agreement on health care after the CBO said a straight repeal of Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured by 32 million by 2026, while doubling insurance premiums in 10 years (it was unclear how much higher premiums would rise if Obamacare remains). Additionally, the CBO predicts that the bill would increase insurance premiums, with the average premium increasing by about 25% in 2018 alone. Previously, Trump said he was ready to “let Obamacare fail” and then work with Democrats on a new system after the old one collapses.

Earlier, Trump had gathered 49 Republican senators for a White House lunch to try to smooth over growing dissent from a handful of the party's conservatives and moderates. He ended up castigating them for failing to agree on how to dismantle Obamacare. However, according to Reuters, conservative and moderate lawmakers are nowhere near a compromise on how to replace Obamacare.

"We still have some issues that divide us," said Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative who has proposed letting insurers offer cheaper bare-bones plans that do not comply with Obamacare regulations.

Republicans attending the late meeting sent their staff away to talk frankly with reporters. Senator John Kennedy said everyone was negotiating in good faith but he added he did not know if they would reach agreement. Almost all the other senators rushed off after the meeting without comment. Sen. John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, was of course absent, adding to Trump's challenges as he needs every healthcare vote he can get.

“As it was getting underway, the nearly two dozen Republican senators were shaken by news that their colleague, veteran Senator John McCain, had been diagnosed with brain cancer.

 

McCain's absence from the Senate makes the job of passing a healthcare bill more difficult because leaders need every Republican vote they can get.”

Democrats were swift to highlight the CBO's assessment, while Republicans remained silent.

"President Trump and Republicans have repeatedly promised to lower premiums and increase coverage, yet each proposal they offer would do the opposite," Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer said in a statement.

Insurers and hospitals have lobbied against a repeal, saying the limbo would increase uncertainty and their costs.

"CBO projects half the country would have no insurers in the individual market by 2020 under the new repeal bill. That's a true death spiral," tweeted Larry Levitt, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a healthcare research group.

As discussed on Monday, moderate Republican Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Shelley Moore Capito said they oppose McConnell's plan for a repeal that would take effect in two years, thus dooming the idea. All three attended the lunch with Trump. With Democrats united in opposition to repeal, McConnell can only lose two votes from the Republicans' 52-48 majority in the 100-seat Senate to pass the legislation.

Party fractures also emerged in the House of Representatives. The chamber passed a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare in May, but on Wednesday, the House Freedom Caucus, the Republican Party's conservative wing, filed a petition to vote on a straight repeal.

"The House passed an Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill we are proud of and we hope the Senate will take similar action," said House Speaker Paul Ryan's spokeswoman, AshLee Strong,

Meanwhile, opponents of repeal protested throughout Senate buildings on Wednesday afternoon, leading to 155 arrests, police said. Demonstrators returned in the evening to yell as senators arrived for the meeting. That may not be necessary: the Trump administration is running out of options - it can't gather the votes for straight repeal, and every new proposal is either eviscerated by the conservatives, or the moderates. Unless Republicans can devise the mother of all compromise bills, it's going to be a very boring August.
 

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: July 20, 2017, 12:04 pm

While nobody was expecting much from the ECB's policy statement this morning, with all eyes on Draghi's press conference in 45 minutes, judging by the disappointed market reaction to what were largely canned remarks by the ECB which sent the EURUSD in kneejerk reaction lower, positioning is indeed stretched and unless Draghi comes out with hawkish bazookas blazing, the EURUSD may slide bigly.

Back to the ECB's decision, it announced that it kept both its rates and QE unchanged, with QE expected to run at €60BN per month until end of December or beyond if needed, “and in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim.” The ECB said it was also ready to extend QE “in terms of size and/or duration” if economic outlook worsens or financial conditions “become inconsistent with further progress towards a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation.”

On rates, the central bank expects these to stay at present levels “well past” QE horizon

  • Main refinancing rate unchanged at 0.00%
  • Deposit facility rate unchanged at -0.40%
  • Marginal lending rate unchanged at 0.25%

Full statement below:

At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively. The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases.

 

Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, the Governing Council confirms that the net asset purchases, at the current monthly pace of €60 billion, are intended to run until the end of December 2017, or beyond, if necessary, and in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim. The net purchases are made alongside reinvestments of the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the asset purchase programme. If the outlook becomes less favourable, or if financial conditions become inconsistent with further progress towards a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation, the Governing Council stands ready to increase the programme in terms of size and/or duration.

The market's kneejerk reaction: dovish statement, with EURUSD sliding to session lows and 10Y bund yields tumbling.

So ahead of Draghi's press conference, here are two cheat sheats on what to expect from his remarks:

From ING

And from Citi:

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: July 20, 2017, 11:53 am

Millennials Can Punt On Bitcoin, Own Gold and Silver For Long Term

 - Bitcoin volatility shows not currency or safe haven but speculation
- Volatility still very high in bitcoin and crypto currencies (see charts)

- Bitcoin fell 25% over weekend; Recent high of $3,000 fell to below $1,900
- Bitcoin least volatile of cryptos, around 75% annualised volatility
- Gold much more stable at just 10% annualised volatility
- Bitcoin volatility against USD about 5-7 times vol of traditional forex trading
- Cryptos remain subject to huge speculation with little fundamental analysis
- Despite major differences many crypto currencies correlated, mimic one another
- Extreme hype - bitcoin expert bets will eat own body part on national television
- Millennials can punt on bitcoin, should also own gold and silver for long term
- Cryptos mere 'babies' when compared to time tested gold and silver

BTC in US Dollars - 1 Year (Source: Coindesk)

Editor: Mark O'Byrne

Crypto volatility and hype shows immaturity remains

The joy about working in precious metals is that for part of the weekend you can switch off.

There is a precious time when markets are closed and you don’t have to worry about market movements and what might be happening. You check back in on Sunday afternoon/evening and can delight in the markets starting to wake up for the week ahead. This isn’t the case in cryptocurrencies.

This weekend crypto-currency market participants got a wake-up call as to what 24/7/365 market trading really means. They watched the price of bitcoin plummet around 10% on Sunday morning (EST) alone. This contributed to bitcoin's overall fall of 25% since last Thursday and into the weekend. Other crypto currencies fell by more.


BTC Versus Gold Volatility (Source: Buybitcoinworldwide.com)

The volatility is so bad that if you are one of the few with a bitcoin app that allows you to actually spend your bitcoin then you might have found yourself paying for a brunch that was a hell of a lot more expensive than when you originally sat down to order it. You then might have noticed as you left the cafe that the currency was in full recovery mode and that brunch needn’t have been so expensive after all.

Just over one month ago bitcoin was flirting with $3,000, appearing on the front pages of financial magazines and Google saw record searches for ‘Bitcoin.’ On Sunday’s crash the price reached $1,863 but as I write this early Thursday morning (BST) it’s at $2,351.

What is this volatility all about and how can cryptocurrency proponents claim that this new money will change the world when its price behaviour can barely manage to guarantee we’ll be able to afford breakfast?

It seems the market cannot decide if this is a store of value or just of little value?

Volatility - what does it mean and does it matter?

Bitcoin remains the least volatile of the cryptocurrencies mainly thanks to its time-served, adoption rates and that it has the highest liquidity. But, we are still talking about a currency which was $600 around a year ago and is now close to $2,400. Even diehard bitcoin fans have to admit that we are in a speculative boom phase. This applies to all cryptocurrencies, not just bitcoin.

If the last two decades have taught us anything about investments it is that speculative boom phases in technology are ones which should be approached with caution. No one knows what the speculation phase says about future valuations or how the product (and its market) will mature.

Currently we are in a speculative phase which will soon have to either sit down and shut-up or stand-up and show how this hyped market is going to move from proof-of-concept, significant investments and use-case scenarios through to in-use case scenarios and people actually using cryptocurrencies.

At the moment, the majority of traders are either disinclined to learn more about what the future of these cryptos could be or they are just profit-seeking. This created spikes and huge volatility.

All cryptocurrencies are volatile but the speculation which creates the volatility is not only profit-seeking but also quite uninformed. You can tell this in the way that the three major/most popular currencies track one another.

BTC in US Dollars - 3 Months (Source: Coindesk)

Bitcoin, Ripple and Ethereum are significantly different cryptocurrencies, yet they have closely tracked each other recently. Ripple (unlike Ethereum and bitcoin) is largely a privately held currency focused on the interbank transfer market.

Ethereum is basically a ‘smart’ system which is robust and already widely adopted for complex data-sharing systems. It has been embraced by the banks. Indeed, thirty big banks, tech giants, and other corporations—including J.P. Morgan Chase, Microsoft, and Intel—are uniting to build business-ready versions of the software behind Ethereum and it's decentralised computing network based on digital currency.

And finally, bitcoin which whilst it might be the first one and therefore has high adoption rates and greater stability, it is also the one with the least features. More recently bitcoin has been traced by Dash and XMR, also different in offering to bitcoin.

The fact that these vastly different cryptocurrencies are mirroring each other suggests that we are still in the phase of the market where the majority of traders lump as ‘cryptocurrencies’ and are failing to see the difference. And, even if they are seeing the difference they are perhaps hedging their bets as to which one will ‘make it’.

They could all ‘make it’ given their different capabilities and applications. At the same time, there is likely to be massive "creative destruction" in this space and there is the risk of failure - especially in the altcoin space.

Of course, it is likely that bitcoin’s volatility will slow over time. Currently its annualized volatility is 75 percent (gold’s is 10%) but that could improve when one considers gold’s was as high as 90% in the 1970s as the US abandoned the gold standard and stagflation badly impacted western economies an investors.

Therefore, we should not dismiss cryptos but we should approach them with caution and be careful not to declare it as the new ‘gold standard’ of investments.

Are digital currencies replacing gold?

One of the longest surviving myths about bitcoin is that it is competing with gold. Since bitcoin once again caught the attention of the mainstream its competition with gold has proven to be quite the clickbait for those looking to offer comment on the cryptocurrency.

This week Fundstrat's Tom Lee dubbed bitcoin the ‘new gold’ (yawn) and claimed that ‘Cryptocurrencies are cannibalizing demand for gold.’ This may not appear to be the case when we look at recent gold demand figures in countries such as India, but will it impact long term?

Aswath Damodaran, professor of finance at the New York University Stern School of Business, told CNBC, that it may well do. He believes gold is going out of fashion thanks to the likes of bitcoin:

"Cryptocurrencies have taken the role of gold at least for younger investors because they don't trust paper currencies.”

But how can they trust bitcoins? Or any cryptocurrency for that matter? Damodaran believes they will trust them because they no longer trust paper currencies. The issue with paper fiat currencies (now digital fiat currencies) is that they have a history of failing and the fiat system we currently operate on is relatively new. So, why are bitcoins (or another digital cryptocurrency) suddenly going to save the day?

The World Gold Council’s John Reade, chief market strategist and head of research (and former managing partner at Paulson & Co.) recently spoke about how millennials need to look beyond the current performance of gold and instead to the long-term:

“Millennials are an interesting case study; they are going to be working and investing a long time so you need to think about more than just the short term ... Gold is a great diversifier for a portfolio but it is more than that. It is a source of returns that is commiserate with equities over the last 10, 20 years.”

It is vital millennials consider the performance of an asset over a long-period of time, as they are just starting to build their portfolios and need to prepare for the next 20, 30, 40 years or more.

Whilst bitcoin (and Ripple, Ethereum etc) may have some years behind them, they are mere 'babies' when compared to time tested gold and silver. Not to mention that the time they have accrued has only shown volatility, with investors taking one of the biggest punts of their lives.

Conclusion - we’re not down on bitcoin, just on hype

This isn’t to say that bitcoin etc have no future and are not worth allocating a very small amount of a portfolio to. Instead we return to the point of view we have long maintained - gold and bitcoin are complementary assets, not competing ones.

Cryptocurrencies are for real and some will evolve and survive and thrive.  Which one, or which handful, are for keeps who knows. Only time will tell.

Where the price will go from here, we’re unsure and that’s no bad sign given the volatility.

We’re certainly not as confident as John McAfee who is so sure the price will hit $550,000 within three years that he has bet his own manhood on it. No matter what you think of bitcoin you have to agree that it will take a rally of monumental proportions to protect the the virility of Mr McAfee.

Like any new tech investment, investors should approach with caution. It’s no bad thing to take a punt on something you believe will bring long-term value and gains whilst insuring you have some financial insurance in the form of gold and silver as well.

This is how many investors should look at gold and bitcoin. Bitcoin is the child with great potential and it might help fund your retirement if you’re lucky, but you can’t guarantee it won’t go off the rails. So best make sure you’re still saving on your own and stocking up on some time-proven physical gold and silver.

 

News and Commentary

Gold extends its streak of gains to four sessions by a hair (MarketWatch.com)

Stocks Rise to Record; BOJ Holds Policy Before ECB (Bloomberg.com)

Asian markets post gains as BOJ stays pat (MarketWatch.com)

Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq close at records with push from better-than-expected earnings (CNBC.com)

Gold steady ahead of central bank meetings (Reuters.com)

Australian gold exports to Hong Kong and China. Source SRSRocco Report

Trump's Russia troubles could mean it's time to buy gold (BusinessInsider.com)

Brodsky: This Is A Red Flag Warning (ZeroHedge.com)

McWilliams: Central bankers behind curve and risk doing "untold damage" (DavidMCWilliams.ie)

Australia Exports Record Amount Of Gold To China (SRSRoccoReport.com)

European stocks higher as investors focus on ECB and Draghi (CNBC.com)

Gold Prices (LBMA AM)

20 Jul: USD 1,236.55, GBP 953.63 & EUR 1,075.06 per ounce
19 Jul: USD 1,239.85, GBP 950.84 & EUR 1,074.83 per ounce
18 Jul: USD 1,237.10, GBP 949.47 & EUR 1,071.82 per ounce
17 Jul: USD 1,229.85, GBP 940.71 & EUR 1,074.03 per ounce
14 Jul: USD 1,218.95, GBP 940.54 & EUR 1,067.92 per ounce
13 Jul: USD 1,221.40, GBP 944.51 & EUR 1,071.05 per ounce
12 Jul: USD 1,219.40, GBP 947.60 & EUR 1,064.29 per ounce

Silver Prices (LBMA)

20 Jul: USD 16.18, GBP 12.50 & EUR 14.07 per ounce
19 Jul: USD 16.23, GBP 12.44 & EUR 14.08 per ounce
18 Jul: USD 16.17, GBP 12.41 & EUR 13.99 per ounce
17 Jul: USD 16.07, GBP 12.30 & EUR 14.02 per ounce
14 Jul: USD 15.71, GBP 12.11 & EUR 13.76 per ounce
13 Jul: USD 15.95, GBP 12.34 & EUR 14.00 per ounce
12 Jul: USD 15.83, GBP 12.31 & EUR 13.82 per ounce


Recent Market Updates

- “Time To Position In Gold Is Right Now” says Jim Rickards
- Bloomberg Silver Price Survey – Median 12 Month Forecast Of $20
- “Bigger Systemic Risk” Now Than 2008 – Bank of England
- “Financial Crisis” Coming By End Of 2018 – Prepare Urgently
- Video – “Gold Should Probably Be $5000” – CME Chairman
- India Gold Imports Surge To 5 Year High – 220 Tons In May Alone
- “Silver’s Plunge Is Nearing Completion”
- China, Russia Alliance Deepens Against American Overstretch
- Silver Prices Bounce Higher After Futures Manipulated 7% Lower In Minute
- Precious Metals Are “Best Defence” Against Bail-ins In Economic Crisis
- Buy Gold Near $1,200 “As Insurance” – UBS Wealth
- UK House Prices ‘On Brink’ Of Massive 40% Collapse
- Gold Up 8% In First Half 2017; Builds On 8.5% Gain In 2016

 
"It is important to note that all portfolios under all conditions actually perform better with exposure to gold and silver" - David Morgan

 

In the short video above, David Morgan, the Silver Guru, speaks briefly about the importance of owning silver bullion coins and bars as financial insurance in an uncertain world. He speaks about GoldCore Secure Storage and how he recommends GoldCore's ultra secure allocated and segregated gold, silver, platinum and palladium bullion storage (Zurich, London, Singapore and Hong Kong) to his retail and high net worth clients.

Author: GoldCore
Posted: July 20, 2017, 11:44 am
  • Futures flat as investors await earnings deluge (Reuters)
  • Investors Brace for Clues on ECB’s Tapering Plans (WSJ)
  • When Will the ECB Pull Its Trillions From the Markets? (BBG)
  • Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions (NYT)
  • Trump Urges GOP to Seek Agreement on Health Measure (WSJ)
  • The GOP Failed to Replace the ACA. Can Congress Fix What’s Wrong? (BBG)
  • Senator McCain diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer (Reuters)
  • Low Earners Are Making the Biggest Gains for the First Time in Years (WSJ)
  • Russia says in talks with U.S. to create cyber security working group (Reuters)
  • France Says ‘We Want Our Money Back’ as Brexit Talks Crawl On (BBG)
  • After Mosul, Islamic State digs in for guerrilla warfare (Reuters)
  • Here’s Why Yellen’s Fed Cares About America’s Opioid Epidemic (BBG)
  • Deutsche Bank Preparing for Hard Brexit, CEO Cryan Tells Employees (BBG)
  • Germany takes aim at Turkish tourism as rights row escalates (Reuters)
  • S&P 500's Biggest Pension Plans Face $382 Billion Funding Gap (BBG)
  • Any Greek market foray should be first step to full return: government spokesman (Reuters)
  • Loophole Closed: Hedge-Fund Managers Prepare Huge Tax Checks (WSJ)
  • Israel faces mounting Palestinian anger over holy site metal detectors (Reuters)

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

- U.S. President Trump issued a rallying cry for Republican senators to come together behind their struggling health bill, telling them they were close to a deal and shouldn't leave town for their summer break without one. on.wsj.com/2uajsyI

- Republican Senator John McCain, who has been out this week recovering from surgery, has been diagnosed with a type of brain cancer known as a glioblastoma, his office disclosed on Wednesday. on.wsj.com/2uaiLp7

- Three top Trump campaign aides - Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr - are expected to speak with Senate committees next week as part of the congressional inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. on.wsj.com/2uaBwce

- The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the Trump administration's plans to keep many refugees from entering the U.S., but blocked the White House from sweeping travel restrictions on extended families of American residents, a second compromise action by the justices in the hot-button case. on.wsj.com/2uatK1N

- Univision Communications Inc, the owner of the dominant Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S., has been fielding interest from potential bidders after the media company's initial public offering was delayed, according to people familiar with the matter. on.wsj.com/2u9Y9xo

- Jana Partners, the activist hedge fund whose push to shake-up Whole Foods Market helped prompt Amazon.com to buy the natural grocer, has sold its stake in the company. on.wsj.com/2u9PX01

- Charter carrier Dynamic International Airways LLC, which offers charter flights to regional cities in China, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday to stabilize its business. on.wsj.com/2uadrlR

 

FT

Canadian utility Hydro One Ltd said on Wednesday that it has agreed to buy U.S. energy company Avista Corp for $5.3 billion in an all-cash transaction.

Theresa May called on the BBC to pay men and women equally after the corporation published the names of its 96 stars paid more than 150,000 pounds a year, exposing a wide gap between male and female broadcasters.

The chief executive of Akzo Nobel NV, the Dutch paint maker, has resigned with immediate effect on health grounds just weeks after fending off a 27-billion-euro takeover attempt.

A private equity consortium has made a second attempt at buying Stada, Germany's largest maker of generic drugs, with an improved 4.1 billion euros offer.

 

NYT

- Facebook is working on a new tool that could help drive subscriptions to news organizations that publish articles directly on the online service. The tool would be added to Facebook's Instant Articles product, which allows publishers to post news articles that can be read within Facebook. nyti.ms/2tJ6eXK

- Jana Partners disclosed in a regulatory filing on Wednesday that it sold off its roughly 8.2 percent stake in Whole Foods in June. Jana got rid of the bulk of its stake on Tuesday. nyti.ms/2tJ1JfU

- Banking regulators are reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Donald Trump's businesses through Deutsche Bank's private wealth management unit, which caters to an ultrarich clients. nyti.ms/2tIZOrU

- Citigroup is taking a step toward reducing its dependence on London and will open a second trading hub in Frankfurt. The bank has had an operation in Frankfurt for decades, but it would expand its business there with this latest decision. nyti.ms/2tIZWaS

 

Canada

The Globe and Mail

** Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd plans to start construction on its C$7.4 billion Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion on time despite unceasing opposition. tgam.ca/2uF8vrm

** Oaktree Capital Management has filed complaints with securities regulators in Ontario and Quebec to address some of its concerns about Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc's proposed takeover of Tembec Inc, saying there are disturbing questions about the role of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd in the deal. tgam.ca/2vF5Hb3

** Finance Minister Bill Morneau released proposals this week to close loopholes that are increasingly in use by high-income Canadians to lower their tax bills through the use of private corporations. tgam.ca/2tKcpea

National Post

** Ontario-based Hydro One Ltd, has struck a deal to purchase Avista Corp, a regulated electric and gas utilities holding company that has operations in U.S. northeast and Alaska, for C$6.7 billion. bit.ly/2uBXPdt

** According to data from Statistics Canada, from 2008 to 2016 electricity prices in Ontario grew by 71 per cent compared to 34 per cent average growth across Canada. This means Ontario's electricity price increases were more than double the national average. bit.ly/2tKdG58

Britain

The Times

GlaxoSmithKline Plc is selling its Horlicks business in Britain and has abandoned a planned 350 million pounds ($455.88 million) investment in Cumbria as part of a wide-ranging restructuring of its business. bit.ly/2gLCskb

The water industry has been plunged into uncertainty after the head of Ofwat announced that she is leaving the regulator to join BT Group Plc. In an announcement that shocked an industry that is just starting its next cycle of negotiations on water charges, Cathryn Ross said that she would depart at the end of the year. bit.ly/2gLMJgn

The Guardian

TopShop is getting its first male boss in 18 years with the appointment of Burberry Group Plc's executive Paul Price. bit.ly/2gLONER

U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley has chosen Frankfurt as the site of its post-Brexit EU hub in a move that could put 200 jobs in the City of London under threat. bit.ly/2gLOw4T

The Telegraph

German regulators will be assessing the suitability of Deutsche Boerse AG's management team in light of insider trading allegations made against the German exchange's chief executive. bit.ly/2gLFpBj

Activist investor Elliott Management has slammed BHP Billiton's plans to develop a giant potash mine in Canada, warning it could be as "disastrous" as its foray into U.S. shale. bit.ly/2gLNIx5

Sky News

Mercedes-Benz is recalling hundreds of thousands of cars in the UK for a software update to reduce their nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. bit.ly/2gLCMiT

Tony Hayward, the former BP Plc chief executive, is to sever his ties to a Russian-backed venture which has struggled to gain British and American government approval to buy oil and gas assets. bit.ly/2gLIbq8

The Independent

Millions of workers will have to work an extra year before retiring after the Government announced plans to extend the retirement age to 68. ind.pn/2gLHdKl

 

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: July 20, 2017, 11:40 am

The Kremlin responded to media reports that President Donald Trump held a second “secret” meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit, saying it has prompted “astonishment” in Moscow and displays a “lack of understanding” while confirming the two did chat informally over dinner.  "The use of such notion as "undisclosed" or "secret" meeting causes absolute astonishment and lack of understanding" Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state TV, Channel One.

Peskov said there was only one meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the summit and it was officially announced; and that Putin and Trump “repeatedly exchanged their opinions during the [summit].”

When asked about the nature of the G20 dinner chat, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters: "There was no secret second meeting. The two men had chatted informally over dinner", said Peskov, and had discussed adoption. Putin’s spokesman also said “there were no undisclosed or secret meeting” adding that such claims are “absurd.” Peskov also said that the existence of such reports in the MSM demonstrates the “unhealthy attitude” of the US establishment towards Russia.

“Presenting something like this as a meeting that could be kept secret from anybody is a manifestation of… schizophrenia,” he said.

His words were echoed by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, who said any meeting between any US and Russian official is immediately presented in the US media as something “criminal.” "It appears that the very fact of a contact [of any US official] with the Russian officials turns into a sort of a criminal [act],” Ryabkov told Channel One’s Sixty Minutes program.

"Every leader has the right to communicate with whoever he or she wants in a way he or she see fit.” Ryabkov added that “there are dozens of various contacts [between the world leaders] that are not being recorded.”

The Russian also suggested that the whole story about the alleged ‘secret’ meeting is nothing but an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the US president.

“Those, who raise an issue in such a way, are working on undermining the authority of President Trump and creating additional difficulties for him,” Ryabkov said.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump also lashed out at what he called “sick” media reports about his alleged “secret” meeting with Putin at a state dinner during the G20 summit in Germany. “The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!” he said in one of his Tweets.

As a reminder, the first report about the alleged "secret meeting" was provided by Eurasia's Ian Bremmer, who has been openly critical of Trump on twitter over the past year. In a newsletter to group clients, Bremmer reportedly said the meeting began "halfway" into the dinner and lasted "roughly an hour." While it is unclear which "anonymous" world leader source he relied on, Bremmer said there was no one else within earshot at the time, meaning that the conversation must have been private. Predictably, Bremmer’s report prompted media speculation on the content of the ‘private’ Trump-Putin dinner chat.

Ovenright, Trump told the New York Times that the informal conversation he had with Putin was mostly about "pleasantries."

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: July 20, 2017, 11:17 am

The relentless risk levitation continued overnight, as global shares extended their stretch of consecutive record highs on Thursday for a 10th day after a cautious BOJ lifted Asian stocks to a decade high with a dovish announcement that offered no surprises, while pushing back Kuroda's 2% inflation target to 2020, the 6th consecutive delay. With all eyes on the ECB in just over an hour, US equity futures are in the green, following solid gains around the globe. European stocks extended their biggest gain in a week while Asian equities maintained their rally. Microsoft, Blackstone, Philip Morris and Ebay are among companies reporting earnings. Initial jobless claims data due.

Traders - so mostly algos - are riding a global risk "high" in stocks as Asia's and then Europe's early 0.4 percent gains ensured MSCI's 47-country All World index was up for a 10th straight session. This is the longest winning streak in global stocks since February 2015 and shows little sign of fatigue even as bond yields edged modestly higher again. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.3 percent as of 9:53 a.m. in London.  The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.5 percent to near the highest in a month. The MSCI Emerging Market Index fell 0.1 percent, the first retreat in almost two weeks. The VIX index closed below 10 for a record fifth consecutive day. Appropriately, Bloomberg dubbed the move a "no-vol" nirvana, in which stocks and bonds keep rallying as volatility evaporates.

The overnight focus was on the Japanese central bank's decision to push back its ambitious inflation target again, sending the yean weaker to 112.4 per dollar. Attention now shifts to whether ECB head Mario Draghi will give a hint later that it plans to wind down its 60 billion-euro-a-month stimulus program. As previewed earlier, the most likely outcome is that Draghi will follow in Kuroda's footsteps and not rock the boat. The risk, if any, is that Draghi does not come out sounding hawkish enough, which could prompt a big drop in the Euro which has been soaring in recent weeks on expectations the ECB will begin tightening policy soon. 

"They are going to try and not upset markets," said Nick Gartside, international Chief Investment Officer of fixed income at JP Morgan Asset Management. "I think the real action is going to be the September meeting. That is when we probably get a little bit of news on tapering."

A cheat sheet of what to expect from the ECB is below.

The euro is up almost 10% so far this year but and was a shade lower at $1.1507 ahead of Draghi's post-meeting news conference, having hit a 14-month high of $1.1583 on Tuesday.

"It may be as we approach "1.20, which is realistic let's be honest, that it generates a little more alarm for the ECB," Gartside added.

European bourses followed markets from Tokyo to Sydney higher, and the MSCI All-Country World Index traded at a record high. With the Bank of Japan delaying the time-frame for reaching its inflation target -- a sign its stimulus is in place for a while to come, attention turns to the European Central Bank’s meeting for clues on policy paths. Oil held onto gains as stockpiles decreased. The U.S. dollar strengthened for a second day after hitting a 10-month low Tuesday, though it was still down for the week.

After the BOJ failed to inspire any volatility, traders are now left with Mario Draghi who speaks at 8:30am ET. Like the BOJ, the ECB is forecast to keep policy on hold Thursday. A report that the bank has been examining options for asset purchases does add to speculation that Mario Draghi will concede time is approaching to adjust the bond-buying program as the economic recovery expands.

In global macro, the Yen was weaker after the BOJ failed to deliver even a trace of hawkishness, sending the Nikkei 0.6% higher. The Aussie dollar slipped on profit taking after initially nearing 80 cents on solid jobs data; The Yuan weakened against the dollar for a second day after the PBOC added a net 60 billion yuan in repos on top of reported liquidity injection via banks on Wednesday. Dalian iron ore futures flat.

Elsewhere in currencies, the euro fell 0.1 percent to $1.1506, still close to a 14 month high. The British pound fell 0.1 percent to $1.3005, the weakest in a week. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index climbed 0.3 percent, the biggest increase in more than two weeks. The Japanese yen sank 0.3 percent to 112.34 per dollar, the largest decrease in almost two weeks.

In commodities, gold sank 0.3 percent to $1,238.03 an ounce, the largest decrease in almost two weeks. WTI crude fell less than 0.05% to $47.11 a barrel. The Bloomberg Commodity Index decreased 0.1%, the largest fall in a week.

In rates, the yield on 10-year Treasuries fell less than one basis point to 2.27 percent. Germany’s 10-year yield rose one basis point to 0.55 percent, the first advance in a week. Britain’s 10-year yield rose two basis points to 1.212 percent. Southern European government bonds underperformed better-rated peers having closed the gap with Germany to the tightest level in months in recent days. Italian, Portuguese and Spanish government bonds are seen as the biggest beneficiaries of the central bank's ultra-loose monetary policy stance of the past few years, and some worry that the market is not fully reflecting the increased risk these countries now face if the ECB moves towards tighter policy. "We have seen very little impact on peripheral spreads since Sintra but this could change very rapidly in a short period of time if the messaging is a bit too hawkish today," said DZ Bank strategist Daniel Lenz.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.1% to 2,473.50
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 386.88
  • MXAP up 0.01% to 158.97
  • MXAPJ down 0.04% to 524.69
  • Nikkei up 0.6% to 20,144.59
  • Topix up 0.7% to 1,633.01
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.3% to 26,740.21
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,244.87
  • Sensex down 0.2% to 31,881.42
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.5% to 5,761.45
  • Kospi up 0.5% to 2,441.84
  • German 10Y yield rose 0.6 bps to 0.548%
  • Euro down 0.1% to 1.1504 per US$
  • Italian 10Y yield unchanged at 1.899%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 1.2 bps to 1.571%
  • Brent Futures down 0.1% to $49.64/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,238.00
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.2% to 94.98

Top News

  • BOJ keeps stimulus unchanged; pushes back 2% inflation goal timing to fiscal 2019; raises assessment of economy to ’expanding moderately’
  • Draghi Moves On From Sintra as ECB Refines Stimulus Message
  • BofA Said to Halt Transactions With HNA Amid Debt Concerns
  • McCain Diagnosed With Brain Cancer After Procedure for Clot
  • South Africa Regulator Seeks Further Information on DuPont, Dow
  • Goldman Partners Mark End of Era as Stock Holding Drops Below 5%
  • Blackstone Is Said to Raise $3b in First Asia PE Fund: Reuters
  • Japan June trade balance 439.9b yen vs 488.0b yen estimate
  • Australia June jobs 14k vs 15k est; unemployment rate 5.6% vs 5.6% est; full-time jobs 62k; participation rate 65.0% vs 54.9% est
  • China, U.S. agree on cooperation to cut trade deficit: Ministry
  • PBOC said to have injected liquidity via some banks on Wednesday
  • German June tax revenue down 6.5% on repayments, ’lively’ 2Q upswing
  • Deutsche Bank Expects DOJ Subpoenas Over Russia Probe: Guardian

Asia equity markets carried over the momentum from the US, where all three majors closed in the green with the energy sector outperforming on the back of a larger than expected draw in DoE crude oil inventories. ASX 200 (+0.6%) outperformed on the back of the upside seen in oil markets, as well as a strong performance from Financial names, while Nikkei 225 (+0.6%) benefitted from a softening JPY, although the currency breaking above the 112.00 handle. Elsewhere, Shanghai Comp. (+0.25%) and Hang Seng (+0.2%) conformed to the upbeat tone, with the former lagged following a lacklustre CNY 60b1n liquidity injection by the PBoC. Finally, 10yr JGBs traded lower amid the global risk-on conditions, with underperformance in the long end leading to steepening of the yield curve.

  • Top Asian News
  • BOJ Keeps Easing Unchanged as It Pushes Back Inflation Goal
  • Steel Rebar in Shanghai Tanks 5% From 2013 High as Buyers Wary
  • Kuroda: People Won’t Lose Trust in BOJ Because Forecasts Missed
  • Aussie Yield Retreats From Job-Data High Ahead of RBA Speech
  • Global Steelmaker Recovery on Show as Posco’s Profit Jumps
  • Yaskawa Electric Raises Forecasts After 1Q Profit Beat
  • Foreign Insurers Are Said to Plan $2 Billion of Malaysia Deals
  • Kuroda: Current Monetary Policy Is Sustainable, Flexible

European bourses trade in the green, as earnings continue to dictate play. A dovish BoJ has helped with the flow in equities, however full focus does remain on the ECB. 9/10 Stoxx 600 sectors trade in the green, with utilities in the red, evident of the risk on tone. The FTSE was also unfazed by the stela UK Retail Sales beat. Fixed Income markets do trade subdued however, with many arguing that the risk is to the downside for Gilts. Gilts were in focus as we approached the latest UK data, Retail Sales, beat on all accounts, however, could not spark any selling into Gilts, as Draghi approaches

Top European News

  • France Says ‘We Want Our Money Back’ as Brexit Talks Wrap Up
  • Danske Bank CFO Says Writebacks Can’t Continue in Normal Cycle
  • London’s Super-Prime Housing Slump Spreads to Luxury Properties
  • EasyJet Falls; ‘Good News, But Not Good Enough’: Analysts
  • Sports Direct Ends Four-Year CFO Wait as Ashley Plugs Key Gap
  • SAP Lifts Sales Outlook, Buying Back Stock on Cloud Growth
  • Zooplus Drops; Kepler Says Weak 2Q, Investment Case Unchanged

In currencies, FX markets have been subdued since the open, as much of the volatility was seen from JPY and AUD overnight. European FX traders did await the UK Retail sales beating across the board, aiding cable in retaking the 1.30 handle. EUR/GBP saw a dip lower; however, closer attention will be on the ECB later this afternoon. GBP has not seen all bullish news this morning, with comments from Fox stating that the UK can still survive with no Brexit deal, once again intruding the possibility of a 'hard brexit.'

In commodities, precious metals trade lower, evident of the risk tone that has been seen in recent trade, as Gold, Silver and Platinum all trade in the red. Elsewhere, Oil trades subdued following the unexpected draw yesterday, yet has contained around yesterday's high, with WTI firmly above 47.00/bbl.

Looking at the day ahead, the ECB rate decision and Draghi press conference around lunchtime will be the key focus. In the US, initial jobless claims numbers (est: 245K) and the Philadelphia Fed Business survey will be out. US earnings seasons remains a focus, with Microsoft, eBay, Visa, American Airlines, Alliance Data systems, PPG Industries and Philip Morris schedule to report

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, est. 245,000, prior 247,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.95m, prior 1.95m
  • 8:30am: Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook, est. 23, prior 27.6
  • 9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, prior 47; Economic Expectations, prior 52
  • 10am: Leading Index, est. 0.4%, prior 0.3%

DB"s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

If you're a parent and got any advice for what to do when the "terrible twos" hit then I'd appreciate it. After being a wonderful mild mannered, mischievous little girl, 22-month old Maisie has suddenly over the last two weeks tried to stamp her independence. The good news is that she hasn't yet fully rebelled and found a wayward boyfriend, demanded her ears pierced or got a tattoo but in a short space of time has decided that she won't sit in her high chair for dinner, will run away when it's time to have her nappy changed (or teeth cleaned) and will go feral when taken up for her nightly bath. Bedtimes have also suddenly got more difficult with a lot of crying from nowhere. With only around 6 weeks until the birth of the twins I'm hoping this is just a phase!! So what's the only thing that calms her down... yes the TV. Bad parenting habits are beginning to creep in. I can now see how sometimes it easier to do the wrong thing and give in!

We'll all be glued to the TV this afternoon as today sees the last main scheduled macro event before the summer slow season well and truly kicks in. In saying that I'm sure I'm tempting fate but if Mr Draghi doesn't surprise it feels that after his press conference today (1.30pm BST) it may be relatively quiet on the macro front until the Jackson Hole Symposium on August 24th-26th. The Bank of England meeting in two weeks is surely less interesting post this week's inflation figure so all eyes on the ECB. The Fed rate decision next week could bring further details on the balance sheet discussion but is also unlikely to be a meeting with a big surprise. Within the ECB the battle is perhaps between Draghi and the rest of the

council as the President was certainly more hawkish in Sintra on June 27th than he was when he spoke for the committee at the last meeting on June 8th. This power balance will be judged by the strength of the signal at the press conference. According to our economists, the more that Draghi’s new “confidence, persistence, prudence” mantra makes it into the press statement, the more confident the market will be about the Council converging to Draghi’s more constructive view. DB expect the President to open the door to a September decision on QE without any pre-commitment.

With that in mind we thought it would be interesting to quickly recap how European assets have performed since Sintra. Unsurprisingly the most eyecatching are the moves in European govies. Front and centre is the move for Bunds where 10y yields have shot up 29.7bps to 0.540%. Similar maturity OATs are 20.4bps higher at 0.799% while Dutch yields are up 21.6bps to 0.661%. The range is a little wider in the periphery but the same theme applies. In Portugal yields are 13.3bps higher while Spain and Italy have seen moves of 18.7bps and 29.8bps, respectively. Meanwhile the Euro has rallied nearly 3% and recently broke through 1.150 versus the Dollar for the first time since May last year. In equity land the Stoxx 600 is down -0.83% in total return terms however this translates to a +2.13% gain when converted into Dollars given the  strength of the Euro. The same applies for the DAX (-2.50% and +0.41%) while the FTSE MIB (+2.27% and +5.32%) has outperformed. Most notable however has been the moves for European Banks which have clearly benefited from the underlying rate move. The Stoxx 600 banks sector is +4.35% in Euro terms and +7.46% in USD terms.

So we’ll wait to see what today’s message brings. Before we get there though we’ve already had the outcome from one central bank meeting this morning, that being the BoJ. As expected, there were no changes to policy. The policy balance rate was held at -0.100% and 10y JGB yields will continue to be targeted at around 0.000%. Notably, while the BoJ has raised its assessment of the economy (noting that growth will continue above potential through fiscal 2018), the inflation outlook was revised lower. The BoJ has delayed its target for inflation reaching 2% to around fiscal 2019. The BoJ previously delayed its target for inflation back in November last year to fiscal 2018. Inflation forecasts for this year and next were also revised lower. The Yen (-0.10%) is a shade weaker post the headlines while JGBs are little changed.

Staying with Japan briefly, our economists have noted that the Abe government’s approval rating has dropped below 40% with a Jiji press survey putting his rating at 30%. Our team highlight that a rating in the 30s is viewed as a caution signal for an administration’s viability and a drop into the 20s could be terminal. The team hold the view however that there are no opposition parties with sufficient public backing to run a government. Nonetheless its one to keep an eye on. Elsewhere in Asia this morning, most equity markets have climbed with the Nikkei (+0.36%), Hang Seng (+0.20%), Shanghai Comp (+0.16%), Kospi (+0.08%) and ASX (+0.56%) all nudging higher.

Back to yesterday. Despite there being fairly minimal newsflow to feed off, it was on the whole a relatively positive day for risk assets. Another leg higher for Oil (WTI +1.55% to just over $47/bbl and matching the highs from earlier this month) as well as a better than expected earnings report from Morgan Stanley appeared to be enough to drive markets higher. The S&P 500 (+0.54%) finished up for the 10th time in the last 13 sessions with all sectors finishing a bit stronger. The recent rally and bounceback for tech stocks is certainly catching the eye though. The S&P 500 IT index last night surpassed its dotcom peak from 17 years ago to close at an all-time high. The Nasdaq (+0.64%) also turned in another record high and is now up 5% from the lows earlier this month. The Dow was up +0.31% with  the underperformance driven by some disappointing IBM earnings, however the index did still close at a new record high.

At the same time the VIX, for the fifth day in a row, closed below 10 (at 9.79) which is the longest such run since data started getting collated in 1990. Meanwhile closer to home European equity markets firmed up with the Stoxx 600 closing +0.77% ahead of the ECB. In bond land 10y Treasury yields were just 1.1bps higher at 2.270% while Bunds 1.0bp lower.

Away from markets, developments in and around Washington continue to bubble away in the background. Last night the CBO announced that a repeal of Obamacare without replacement would result in 32 million more people being uninsured over 10 years, which is 10 million more than the previous Senate Republican bill. A vote next week is still being talked about with Republican senators supposedly scrambling behind the scenes to come to some form of consensus however it still feels like most have moved on to other policies. On that note, Politico ran an article last night suggesting that Trump is targeting a corporate tax rate ‘in the 20s’ which is being talked about as a more realistic goal for the administration after previously pledging in their campaign to slash the rate to 15%. So it will be interesting to see if there are any further stories on that front.

Staying with the US, the US / China trade talks got off to a slightly tense start yesterday, with US Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross noting the $309bn trade deficit as “…if this were just the natural product of free market forces, we could understand it, but it’s not…”. Shortly after, both the US and China cancelled their press conference scheduled for the end of the day, originally expected to discuss the outcomes of the trade negotiations.

Before we look at today’s calendar, we wrap up with other data releases from yesterday. In US, both the June housing starts and building permits data were slightly better than expectations. After three consecutive months of decline, US housing starts rebounded to be up 2.1% yoy to 1,215k. Permits were also stronger, rising 5.1% yoy to 1,254k. The MBA’s new purchase mortgage applications index rose 1.1% last week and was up 6.0% yoy.

Looking at the day ahead now, in UK, the June retail sales figures are due, with YoY (ex-auto and fuel) expected to be 2.5% as per Bloomberg consensus. The ECB rate decision and Draghi press conference around lunchtime will however by the key focus. Over in the US, initial jobless claims numbers (est: 245K) and the Philadelphia Fed Business survey will be out. US earnings seasons remains a focus, with Microsoft, eBay, Visa, American Airlines, Alliance Data systems, PPG Industries and Philip Morris schedule to report

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: July 20, 2017, 10:47 am

Looking at today's main event, the much anticipated ECB announcement in which Draghi may (or may not) announce a hawkish shift to the cental bank's policies and/or reveal the bank's tapering plans, Citi (whose titled we borrowed) gives the 30 second summary, and says that the market seems quite split on whether the ECB will remove the asset purchase program easing bias, but thinks that there’s room for mild disappointment. After all, it says, this meeting is just a warm up for the September meeting (and Jackson Hole). CitiFX Strategist Josh O’Byrne points out that the biggest market fear at the moment appears to be long positioning and "this risks morphing into FOMO for the next leg higher." For the press conference, Citi expects Draghi to slightly tweak some of the language from Sintra to lean a little bit more towards the dovish side.

The bank's expectations are summarized in the following handy cheat sheet:

From UBS, here is a big picture menu of ECB policy choices for normalization:

Another snap preview comes courtesy of SocGen which says that questions on possible exit scenarios should dominate the press conference.

While acknowledging the strength of the economy, Draghi is likely to counter any ideas of an imminent and rapid path towards ending QE, instead urging patience with the still-subdued inflation outlook. We maintain our call for an announcement in September of a six-month extension of the APP into 2018 at €40bn/month, followed by data-dependent quarterly reductions. Meanwhile, we expect the euro area consumer confidence indicator to stabilise as historically high levels (SGe 1.3%) in July. Elsewhere, in the UK, we look for only a modest bounce in retail sales in June.

* * *

With the intros out of the way, Below is an extensive preview of what to expect, courtesy of RanSquawk

ECB Preview: Rate Decision due at 1245BST/0645CDT and Press Conference at 1330BST/0730CDT

  • All rates and the current pace of asset purchases are expected to be left unchanged.
  • There is a slight chance the ECB may adjust guidance on asset purchases following recent source reports.
  • Draghi may reiterate his most recent comments made at the Sintra Forum in his press conference.

RATE/ASSET PURCHASE EXPECTATIONS

  • DEPOSIT RATE: Forecast to remain unchanged at -0.40%. The rate was last adjusted in March 2016, when it was cut by 10bps.
  • REFI RATE: Forecast to remain unchanged at 0.00%. The rate was last adjusted in March 2016, when it was cut by 5bps.
  • MARGINAL RATE: Forecast to remain unchanged at 0.25%. The rate was last adjusted in March 2016, when it was cut by 5bps.
  • ASSET PURCHASES: Forecast to maintain the pace of asset purchases at EUR 60bln per month until December 2017. Last December, the ECB reduced the size of purchases by EUR 20bln per month, and extended the purchase horizon by nine months.

CURRENT ECB FORWARD GUIDANCE

  • RATES: “The Governing Council stated that the key ECB interest rates are to remain at present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases.” (ECB statement, 8/Jun)
  • ASSET PURCHASES: “Net asset purchases, at the monthly pace of EUR 60bln, are intended to run until the end of December 2017, or beyond, if necessary, and in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim.” (ECB statement, 8/Jun)
  • GROWTH: “Risks to the growth outlook are now broadly balanced” (ECB statement, 8/Jun)
  • INFLATION: “Headline inflation has been recovering from the very low levels seen in 2016… Measures of underlying inflation remain low and are expected to rise only gradually over the medium term, supported by our monetary policy measures, the expected continuing economic recovery and the corresponding gradual absorption of slack.” (ECB statement, 27/Apr). Draghi (27/ Jun): “the threat of deflation is gone and reflationary forces are at play”.

AREAS OF DISCUSSION

ASSET PURCHASES: Speculation has been rife that the central bank will tweak its forward guidance with regards to its asset purchases. Citing sources, Reuters reported that the ECB may only drop part of its easing bias, leaving the reference to either the size or duration of QE in place.

Separately, sources cited by Bloomberg have reportedly said that the ECB is drawing up plans to wind down QE, and policymakers will consider these proposals in the autumn, hinting at a September announcement. 

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch look for the ECB to tweak its language: “We expect the ECB this week to toughen their language marginally, by removing the easing bias on QE, while insisting on the need for prudence and a persistent monetary stimulus,” BAML writes, “Sintra was not just about sending a hawkish message, it was also about expressing a healthy degree of unease at the pace of inflation normalisation and hinting that the end of QE did not mean fast normalisation in policy rates.”

INFLATION: It is likely that Draghi will cite weak inflation pressures within the Euro area in his Q&A. The ECB President has argued that loose policy is still warranted to ensure that inflation dynamics become durable and self-sustaining.

And inflation is still too low for the ECB’s comfort, Oxford Economics says, writing that a stronger euro and lower oil prices are negative developments for the euro area inflation profile.

“Although the ECB has raised its growth forecasts since the end of 2016, it has not increased its core CPI inflation forecast,” OxEco points out, “encouragingly, core inflation increased to 1.1% in June, the highest rate since 2013.”

"While Draghi noted at Sintra that the core inflation measure may understate underlying inflation, it is worth noting that a headline inflation overshoot over the next year and a half is unlikely due to the weak outlook for energy and food inflation."

EUR: Within the press conference there could also be talk about the EUR’s recent rally since the June meeting; the EUR now trades well above the central bank’s 1.08 assumption used in its June economic projections, and has risen approximately 2% on a trade weighted basis since June.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs note that the appreciation in the currency would be less welcome at the ECB since it could weigh on inflation pressures, especially so given the weakness in crude prices. “We do not think that Draghi would want to encourage further near-term currency appreciation and/or higher long-term rates,” Goldman says, “yet we do not expect Draghi to try to unwind the market re-pricing since the Sintra speech.”

As such, Draghi may proceed with caution, emphasising that any normalisation would likely be a gradual process, and this may be enough to put a lid on further EUR appreciation, some argue.

MARKET REACTION

In terms of the rate decision itself, little market reaction is expected, so focus will be placed onto the statement from the ECB. President Draghi is largely expected to reiterate his recent comments made at the Sintra conference last month, consequently gearing up for a policy reassessment in September with the ECB Council likely to temper some of the hawkish expectations over immediate policy tightening.

Some analysts suggest that EUR might be met with some downward pressure if the central bank doesn’t give too much away, leading to EUR to pare some of its recent rally observed over the past couple of weeks.

Additionally, there is a speculation following sources reports that the ECB might drop part of its bias over the size or duration of QE, and in doing so, this could potentially lead to upside in EUR and bond yields.

RECENT COMMENTARY

ECB SOURCES:

  • ECB drawing up stimulus plans for policymakers to consider when they return after the August break --Bloomberg (18/Jul)
  • ECB wary of putting end-date on QE, likely to seek flexibility in eventual cuts to programme --Rtrs (14/Jul)
  • ECB to announce winding down of bond purchases in Sept --WSJ (13/Jul)
  • Some ECB policymakers spooked by market turbulence, some cautious about lifting QE easing bias in July, ECB might only drop part of bias leaving reference to either size or duration of QE --Rtrs (3/Jul)
  • Markets did not take note of the caveats in Draghi's Sintra speech, comments intended to prepare market for decision on stimulus later this year without making commitment, ECB can be patient with inflation, can live with it taking longer to rise to targets --Rtrs (28/Jun)

INFLATION:

  • ECB’s Villeroy: ECB has removed deflation risks (19/Jul)
  • ECB's Praet: Inflation will take a long time to get back to target, 'process of reflation is a long one' (8/Jul)
  • ECB's Weidmann: Deflation risks are now distant (7/Jul)
  • ECB's Weidmann: Inflation expected to end 2017 somewhat lower due to falls in crude prices (6/Jul)
  • ECB's Praet: Adverse scenarios for inflation outlook look less likely, deflation risks have largely vanished (6/Jul)
  • ECB's Nowotny: Inflation targeting should contain a certain degree of flexibility (5/Jul)
  • ECB's Praet: Scenario for future inflation remains contingent on easy financing conditions (4/Jul)
  • ECB's Praet: Inflation remains volatile, prices pressures continue to be subdued (4/Jul)
  • ECB's Praet: Anchoring rate expectations is a key condition for asset purchases to deliver accommodative policy (4/Jul)
  • ECB's Draghi: Deflationary forces have been replaced by reflationary ones (27/Jun)
  • ECB's Draghi: Considerable monetary accommodation still required for inflation dynamics to become durable and self-sustaining (27/Jun)
  • ECB's Draghi: Inflationary dynamics more muted than one would expected, but factors weighing on inflation are temporary that the ECB can look through (27/Jun)
  • ECB's Hansson: Can't expect a quick transmission from monetary policy to inflation (14/Jun)
  • ECB's Smets: Better growth should stoke inflation pressures, but we aren't seeing this now (13/Jun)

QE/TAPER:

  • ECB’s Villeroy: Accommodative policy still required (19/Jul)
  • ECB's Rimsevics sees bond purchases for another 'couple of years' (13/Jul)
  • ECB's Praet: Better growth will reinforce ECB's accommodation (8/Jul)
  • ECB's Weidmann: Normalisation isn't a 'full brake', it's an easing off the accelerator (7/Jul)
  • ECB's Villeroy: Nominal rates will rise in line with the recovery (6/Jul)
  • ECB's Praet: ECB's mission is not yet completed (4/Jul)
  • ECB's Lautenschlaeger: Imperative that policy be normalised as soon as po ssible (30/Jun)
  • ECB's Weidmann: Expansive policy still needed, but can disagree about the level of accommodation (29/Jul)
  • ECB's Draghi: Normalisation will be gradual (27/Jun)
  • ECB's Weidmann: QE extension was not discussed at the June meeting (25/Jun)
  • ECB's Weidmann: Withdrawal of stimulus should be considered if economy develops as expected, ECB shouldn't change self-imposed QE limits (25/Jun)

RECOVERY:

  • ECB's Coeure: The recovery has arrived, but it's unwise to let our guard down because the recovery is cyclical (7/Jul)
  • ECB's Weidmann: Ongoing recovery raises the prospect of a normalisation of monetary policy (6/Jul)
  • ECB's Weidmann: Pace of normalisation depends on progress of inflation (6/Jul)
  • ECB's Praet: Solid upswing continues to broaden across sectors and across countries (6/Jul)
  • ECB's Praet: Economic recovery seems to have gathered momentum (6/Jul)
  • ECB's Villeroy: Non-standard policy is not eternal (6/Jul)
  • ECB's Coeure: Recovery increasingly broad-based, an encouraging development (30/Jun)
  • ECB's Draghi: All signs now point to a strenghtening and broadening of the recovery (27/Jun)

FX/MARKETS:

  • ECB’s Coeure: Currency depreciation is a side-effect of policy and neither its main transmission channel, nor its objective (11/Jul)
  • ECB’s Coeure: QE effect on exchange rates is, by and large, not fundamentally different from conventional policy (11/Jul)
  • ECB’s Coeure: Steepening at long-end of the yield curve reflects market expectations that future growth will be solid (5/Jul)
  • ECB's Coeure: International role of the euro currency has declined over the alst year, but its role as a reserve currency has increased (5/Jul)
  • ECB's Coeure: Recent market volatility has not been significant (5/Jul

Finally, some charts from UBS:

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: July 20, 2017, 9:48 am

Just days after John McCain had a blood clot removed above his left eye, late on Wednesday his office announced that McCain has a brain tumor associated with the removed blood clot. In a statement doctors revealed that McCain has been diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer. The statement says the 80-year-old senator and his family are reviewing further treatment, including a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.

The tumor was revealed after surgery to remove blood clot, with the statement noting that "scanning done since the procedure (a minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision) shows that the tissue of concern was completely resected by imaging criteria."

Doctors say that "the Senator's doctors say he is recovering from his surgery 'amazingly well' and his underlying health is excellent."

Full statement below:

STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE OF SENATOR JOHN McCAIN

 

"On Friday, July 14, Sen. John McCain underwent a procedure to remove a blood clot from above his left eye at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix. Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot.

 

"Scanning done since the procedure (a minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision) shows that the tissue of concern was completely resected by imaging criteria.

 

"The Senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team. Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.

 

"The Senator's doctors say he is recovering from his surgery 'amazingly well' and his underlying health is excellent."

 

The office of Senator John McCain also released the following statement:

 

"Senator McCain appreciates the outpouring of support he has received over the last few days. He is in good spirits as he continues to recover at home with his family in Arizona. He is grateful to the doctors and staff at Mayo Clinic for their outstanding care, and is confident that any future treatment will be effective. Further consultations with Senator McCain's Mayo Clinic care team will indicate when he will return to the United States Senate."

McCain has previously overcome cancer. He revealed in 2008 during his presidential campaign that he had four malignant melanomas removed in surgeries in 1993, 2000 and 2002.

His daughter, Meghan McCain, she said that "the news of my father's illness has affected every one of us in the McCain family. My grandmother, mother, brothers, sister and I have all endured the shock of the news and now we live with the anxiety about what comes next."

Statement regarding my father @SenJohnMcCain: pic.twitter.com/SMte9Hkwkq

— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) July 20, 2017

Mitch McConnell also commented on the diagnosis, saying that McCain "never shied from a fight…he will face this challenge with the same extraordinary courage that has characterized his life"

McConnell: McCain "never shied from a fight…he will face this challenge with the same extraordinary courage that has characterized his life" pic.twitter.com/CndqEiy60j

— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) July 20, 2017

And former President Obama said "McCain was as tough as they come."

John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I've ever known. Cancer doesn't know what it's up against. Give it hell, John.

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 20, 2017

Finally President Trump issued a statement: Senator John McCain has always been a fighter. Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family. Get well soon.

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: July 20, 2017, 9:31 am

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

The  Unemployment Rate in Greece is down to 21.7% in April from a record 27.9% in July of 2013 and a record low of 7.3% in May of 2008.

Despite the falling rate, the percentage of those unemployed seeking jobs abroad has risen from 11% in 2015 to 33% this year.

The message seems to be “get me the hell out of here”.
 

The Greek Reporter notes Brain Drain Gathers Pace as One in Three Greeks Looks for a Job Abroad.

According to the annual survey by the firm Adecco titled “Employability in Greece,” the brain drain phenomenon has been increasing over the last three years.

 

In 2015 only about 11% of unemployed respondents said that they were actively looking for a job abroad. This figure increased to 28% in 2016 and reached 33% this year.

 

The responses show that the unemployed have different reasons to seek work abroad. Whereas in 2005, the main reason was the prospect of a better wage, in 2016 and 2017 the main reason given were better career opportunities.

 

The study conducted for the third year running, in collaboration with polling company LMG, was based on a sample of 903 people from the age of 18 to 67.

 

According to other findings, 37% of respondents say that they have been out of the labor market for at least 12 months.

Unemployment vs Wanting a Job

More than 1 out of 4 (28%) are out of the labor market, a higher rate compared with the previous two years.

In Greece, as in the US and elsewhere, there is a difference between wanting a job but not having one, and being officially unemployed.

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: July 20, 2017, 9:00 am

KeepTalkingGreece.com reports that Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos sent a sharp worded message to his Turkish counter Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following a series of provocations accompanying his tour to the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea.

“The brave do not provoke,” President Pavlopoulos told Greek soldiers safeguarding the remote island of Ai Stratis. “Provocations, especially provocations without a reason, are characteristic signs of  weakness and insecurity.”

 

“What history and our ancestors taught us is “Molon Labe”, Pavlopoulos added citing the famous quote of Spartan King Leonidas I.

Molon labe (Greek: ????? ???? mol?n lavé), meaning “come and take [them]”, is a classical expression of defiance. According to Plutarch, Xerxes, king of Persia, demanded that the Spartans surrender their weapons and King Leonidas I responded with this phrase.

This occurred after, as KeepTalkingGreece reports, two times in two consecutive days, Turks harassed the helicopter carrying Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on a tour visiting several remote islands and islets in the eastern Aegean Sea.

While Pavlopoulos’ helicopter was heading to islet Panagia, pilots received warning calls and threats from the Turkish armed forces. The Turks claimed the Greeks that they were flying in Turkish Flight Information Region. The Greek delegation ignored the Turkish warnings and the President landed safe in Panagia.

A day earlier, the Turkish armed forces called the Greek helicopters nearing the island of Rhodes to leave the area as “they were flying in a demilitarized zone” where such flights are forbidden.  The Greek pilots did not respond to the callings from the Turkish side.

A little later, the Turkish side called on the pilots of Shinook to leave the area as they were flying inside “the Turkish FIR.” On board were President Pavlopoulos, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos as well as the military leadership of the country.

In one incident, the military helicopters transporting Pavlopoulos suffered radio interference from Turkey.

Wednesday morning, a pair of Turkish F4 fighter jets entered the Athens Flight Information Region at 10 a.m. between Lesvos and Lemnos and flew over the Fournoi islets at 8,900 feet.

The Greek President told soldiers while visiting the island of Lemnos...

“There are no grey zones in the Aegean, neither disputes that move between absurdity and ridiculing,”

The president underlined that soldiers in remote areas safeguard the Greek borders that are also borders of the European Union and this according to the International Law.

“You are brave fighters and respond to provocations with Molon Labe!,” Pavlopoulos urged the members of the Greek Armed Forces.

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: July 20, 2017, 8:30 am

NFA News Releases

March 6, Chicago—National Futures Association (NFA) has permanently barred Redding, Calif. commodity trading advisor Samico Worldwide Markets, Inc. (Samico) and its principal and sole associated person, Thomas Gasparini, from membership and from acting as a principal of an NFA Member.
Posted: March 7, 2017, 4:59 am

Elite Forex Blog - Market Research & Analysis

(GLOBALINTELHUB.COM) Dover, DE — 7/18/2017 — Hidden in plain site, as the Trump administration finally released something of substance regarding the so called promised “Trade Negotiation” we see FX take center stage in the global drama unfolding.  As noted on a Zero Hedge article:
The much anticipated document (press release and link to full document) released by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the Trump administration aimed to reduce the U.S. trade deficit by improving access for U.S. goods exported to Canada and Mexico and contained the list of negotiating objectives for talks that are expected to begin in one month. Topping Trump’s list is a “simple” objective: “improve the U.S. trade balance and reduce the trade deficit with Nafta countries.” Among other things the document makes the unexpected assertion that no country should manipulate currency exchange to gain an unfair competitive advantage,which according to Citi’s economists was the only notable surprise in the entire document: That line of focus centers on FX: “Through an appropriate mechanism, ensure that the Nafta countries avoid manipulating exchange rates in order to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage.”  ..While Canada and Mexico are not formally considered currency manipulators by the US Treasury, the reference in the list of objectives will likely set a template for future trade deals such as the pending negotiation to modify a 5 year old free trade deal with South Korea, a country in far greater risk of being branded a currency manipulator as it sits on the Treasury’s monitoring list for possible signs of currency manipulation.
As we have explained in previous articles and in our book Splitting Pennies – Trade is FX.  Tariffs can discourage trade, but so can a high price – effectively they are the same thing.  Conversely, a cheap price encourages trade.  This is why Japan has logically and rationally destroyed the value of its own currency in order to boost trade, in their case – exports – because Japan is not only a net exporter, they are a near 100% OEM manufacturer.
But it’s not clear that whoever wrote this document understands FX – every currency is currently a ‘manipulator’ – including Japan, and the US Federal Reserve Bank.  In fact, the global FX market has become a race to the bottom, with each currency competing with each other who can go down more, faster.  It’s a race into oblivion.  Contrary to what you may read in the current doom journalism popular online, the global financial collapse is happening right before our eyes – over a long time horizon.  The big mistake that many economists, analysts, and investors have made in the ‘doom and gloom’ crowd is that they all expected a ‘date’ or a ‘time’ when everything would ‘collapse’ – they didn’t think that it can happen over a period of 50 years.  We are in the demise, it’s happening right before our eyes.
Today someone asked me if Bitcoin can really be 500,000 – and why not?  My answer was that, it isn’t that Bitcoin is going UP it’s that the value of the US Dollar is going DOWN.  So if Bitcoin is 500,000 – that property in the hamptons that’s listed for $150 Million, it will be listed for $15 Billion, or why not $1 Trillion.  There is no limit to the amount of money the Federal Reserve can create – but there is a limited amount of Bitcoin.  Those who have lived in exSSR countries or Russia for example, understand how quickly money can be worthless.  Quantitative Easing is itself a global ‘reset’ if you understand how it works, and it happens over a long timeframe.
So where is one to invest, to protect from the deteriorating value of FX?  Bitcoin is by itself not a solution and by no means even something that should be part of any portfolio, it’s a test of the new world order’s global currency payments and monetary control system, whatever you want to call it – and it’s very volatile – just as it goes up 100% it can go down 90%.  The answer is that even with Bitcoin – the point is to TRADE it not INVEST in it.  Let’s dissect FX to understand this.  Take a look at this Daily EUR/USD chart going back 3 years:
eur usd
The EUR/USD goes up, it goes down.  There’s an election in France, an election in the US.  It’s practically one currency.  But the ECB has a similar QE program that’s destroying the value of the Euro as well.  So the way to protect yourself here is to ‘trade’ this.  For example, take a look at a snapshot from 2016 of Magic FX Strategy, that has returned on average 1.5% per month for the last 4 years:
magic
This is not a solicitation of this particular strategy, simply it provides a good example of how to ‘trade’ FX for a consistent profit, to combat inflation.  Investing in CDs and other interest rate products are not going to give you the 15%+ per year needed to stay ahead of the Fed.  This is the game of hot potato that Elite bankers have designed that’s built into the modern electronic financial system.  The stock market is great unless there’s a down year, but still just barely keeps you ahead of the game (if you stick to the traditional blue chips, industrials, utilities, etc) and certainly is not going to give you the 15% – 30% per year returns needed to really grow your portfolio.  30% + is the magic number Elite portfolios target (ironically, it’s about a 2x allocation to Magic FX strategy, in line with the natural fluctuations of the FX market, using reasonable, modest leverage).
If you’re not making 15% + per year inflation is eating you away.  So where can you invest and get 15% with reasonable risk?  The answer is practically no where in the markets, maybe in the private equity world, complex real estate, and other special situations but clearly there is no vanilla answer like “Buy Gold” or “Buy Bitcoin” as there may have been post 9/11.  This will be more and more true as QE matures, because QE is distorting asset prices in complex ways.  This is the ‘trap’ which has been set.  Not only does it cull the herd, as the Elite like to do every 20 years or so, it forces investors into a situation where they have to take more risk – if they don’t, their assets will ultimately be eaten away by inflation.  They have to play the game because if they sit on the sidelines they will lose out.  Of course it’s not fair – but that is the nature of the global capitalist financial system, at the moment, and it’s not going to change in our lifetime, so one can understand it and master it, or be the victim of it, SIMPLE!
And in the case of FX it’s not so complex to understand.  Let’s look quickly at the last currency of investment, the Swiss Franc.
Here’s a historical chart of CHF/USD (usually it’s quoted USD/CHF which is the inverse – opposite)
Investors in Swiss Francs over this period – which includes Americans just sending their money to Switzerland, enjoyed a 400%+ return over the 40 year period, non-compounded, without considering interest (just FX).  The small blip in the 80s when this investment declined was due to the US Dollars aggressive double digit interest rates, but that ended in 1986 when Swissie just took off and never looked back.  That was until the post 2008 world, where Switzerland became the target of a number of investigations by hungry US agencies looking for someone to blame and money to pay for damage done by the credit crisis, including the IRS, FBI, and DOJ in general, but there were a number of other US interests interested in financially ‘toppling’ the Gnomes of Zurich – namely, by closing the only way out of QE.  The Swiss Franc (CHF) was really the only currency that had any value, it was 40% backed by Gold, and upheld by a 1,000 + year banking tradition, a stable economy, and banking privacy laws.
In order to solidify the US Dollar as the primary world’s reserve currency, that had to be smashed.  So they did it in a number of ways, including but not limited to activating assets there such as corrupt central bankers (which really was a non-issue) and squeezing the Gnomes back into submission.  So the conclusion to this drama is now the CHF previously being the only real currency to invest in for the long term and forget about it, is now a central bank manipulated currency that is subject to SNB interventions, caps, trading ranges, and other direct central bank manipulation (like all other currencies).
So the reason for that story is simply that there is no where to just ‘invest’ your money and forget about it anymore (there was, such as the example of the Swiss Franc).  The good news though, FX is a traders market.  If investors are not too greedy, there’s a number of strategies in FX that can return the 15% + needed to beat inflation and possibly even grow.  Magic FX is certainly not the only strategy in the world with such low-volatility and consistent returns.  But due to the recent Dodd-Frank regulations such strategies are only available to ECP investors, which is a step above being accredited – basically you need to be liquid for $10 Million.  Oh, and to make fighting inflation really fun for the retail US investor, you aren’t allowed to hedge (no buying and selling of the same currency) and you must exit your positions in the same order in which you entered them (FIFO) and you have reduced leverage.  Basically, the Fed is creating pressure forcing the hand of investors to trade to stay ahead of the game, and the regulators are making it difficult (and in fact, more risky) to trade.  With US rules it’s a miracle any US retail investor can be profitable.  The rules have really turned FX into the casino that people are afraid of, because they are literally telling you when to exit your trades (FIFO).
In conclusion – FX is a real traders market.  It’s better than stocks, bonds, options, futures, etc.  Now with the influx of Cryptocurrencies FX is about to get even more interesting.  By trading FX successfully, or finding a manager who can do it for you – it’s the only way to fight inflation, to at least maintain the value of your hard earned dollars.  As we mentioned earlier in the article, there are of course other methods such as private equity and niche businesses (such as lawyers selling rights to settlements) that can generate the 30% + needed to grow a portfolio – but it’s not available publicly, in the markets.  But FX is there – it’s there for the taking – and it’s not going away anytime soon.
Posted: July 19, 2017, 2:31 am
David Siegel had a problem. For years, the American entrepreneur had been working on an idea: an open-source platform, called Pillar, which would allow people to remain in control of their personal information by piggybacking on the blockchain — a digital decentralised ledger underpinning cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
But when Siegel pitched his company Twenty Thirty to venture capital firms, he was met with blank looks. Investors weren’t interested in Pillar, and Siegel couldn’t get funding to build it.
After months of rejections, Siegel decided do something different: instead of phoning just another investor, he resolved to get help from future users.

On 15 July, he is going to sell 560 million “tokens” — digital units of payment that will be necessary to use Pillar, once it’s ready — in exchange for ether, an up-and-coming cryptocurrency exchanged on public blockchain Ethereum. His target is the equivalent of $50 million; if that sounds like a lot, be aware that Pillar’s “token pre-sale”, some days ago, raised $4 million worth of Ethereum’s currency, ether — in 34 minutes.

“I couldn’t raise any money for Twenty Thirty from investors, because they didn't get what we were doing; now we have ordinary people hammering our email about Pillar,” Siegel says. “These people really want to fund this open source project.”

Siegel’s fund-raising model is called Initial Coin Offering, or ICO — and you might have heard of it, as it is the latest big thing in the frenzied world of cryptocurrencies.
An ICO’s functioning is simple: a team with an idea, but short of funds, use blockchain technology to issue a certain amount of digital tokens (aka “coins”) sold in an auction to people paying in ether, Bitcoin or, seldom, regular money like dollars or pounds.
Apart from rare cases, tokens’ only ostensible function is allowing their holders to use the platform that issued them: they could be used, for instance, to buy storage space on a Dropbox-style service, or converted into special objects on a gaming platform. They are the equivalent of coupons for a supermarket under construction.
But tokens often grow into mini-currencies in their own right: they are traded for cryptocurrency or fiat on blockchain marketplaces, and the more successful their related project grows, the more valuable its tokens become. This dynamic is inevitably attracting a great deal of speculation.

The mechanism has been around for a while — the first instance was MasterCoin in 2013, followed in 2014 by Ethereum’s first ether sale, and more recently by the ill-fated autonomous VC firm The DAO — but it really surged over the first half of 2017. Tens of projects have amassed millions of dollar within days, hours, or seconds, with superstars such as blockchain architecture firms EOS and Tezos soaring over $150 million and $200 million. In June, bitcoin news website Coindesk announced that funds raised through ICOs had overcome VC money as the first source of investment in the blockchain sector in 2017. “Tokens” might sound like Monopoly money, but their impact on the real world is growing by the day.

The question is: why? Ask people in the field and they tend to reflect two main narratives, one optimistic, the other decidedly sceptical.

The positive one is that ICOs are a new, smart way to finance projects that struggle to get VC’s backing.

Etienne Brunet, an investment executive at FinTech VC firm Illuminate Financial, points to investors’ recent interest in private blockchains (members-only ledgers banks and financial institutions are experimenting with) as the root cause for ICOs. “In 2016 it was very hard to raise funding unless you were doing private blockchains,” he says. “So, all the people trying to build open source projects for the public blockchain had to find a new way to get funds.”
The way Burke sees it, ICOs are finally lowering the barriers to entry for technology investment, as whoever has some cryptocurrency can join the party; more than that, coins’ speculative potential is allowing open-source projects to raise more funds than ever before.
“The point is that now, for the first time ever, open-source initiatives can be profitable for investors,” he says. “Previously, they were relying upon donations and they were inherently unprofitable — people would just do them for an ethical goal. Now there is a financial incentive for people to participate.”
There is a stick-it-to-the-man undertone behind this take on ICO: the idea that smart, independent teams are raking in millions from the anarchic crypto-crowd to take on blindsided VCs and bank-loving private blockchainers. And increasingly, ICOs are being used by companies outside of the blockchain field, such as messaging service Kik, which portrayed its upcoming ICO as a last-ditch attempt to compete with juggernauts such as Facebook.
Still, Burke admits that, while this is the direction he sees ICOs evolving over the next few months and years, the current state of affairs is far from optimal.
“Most of the projects which have launched ICOs are poorly designed and won't scale,” he says. “But I look past that: I still think we have the ability to kick-start this new economy.”
That brings us to the second narrative, which portrays the ICO frenzy as a massive speculation game, or worse.
ICOs might have lowered barriers to entry, but most token sales are dominated by a handful of large investors —“whales” in crypto parlance — snarfing up almost all the cake. In the $35 million ICO for Brave, a browser created by Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich, only 130 people bought coins — and half of them were purchased by just five buyers.
Although most projects specify — risibly— that tokens are “not for speculation”, token speculation is at the core of ICO’s success at raising so much money so quickly. Big crypto owners are throwing money at token sales hoping that coin value will increase in the short run, diversifying their crypto portfolio in the process.
“The point is: if you have $200 million worth of bitcoin or ether, what should you do?” Illuminate’s Brunet says.
The side effect is that millions are going to entities which, apart from tokens and a project outline — crypto parlance: “white paper” — have very little to offer. Take for example “Useless Ethereum Token”, a parody initiative which still managed to raise $40,000 in funding. Or, for a grimmer story, look at OneCoin: a Ponzi scheme which had amassed over $350 million before being busted by the Indian police.

Some of the more obvious security problems are being addressed by the crypto community at large: it has been recommended that funds from ICO be locked in an escrow mechanism — giving access only to limited sums after milestones have been reached — in order to prevent crypto heists. And Ethereum’s wunderkind guru Vitalik Buterin has turned to game theory to suggest some tips for designing fairer ICO auctions, such as as splitting them up in smaller, spaced out sales over time.

The elephant in the room, has to do with financial regulation: with tokens being auctioned, traded, and speculated on as if they were securities, should we regard them and regulate them as securities? (The fact that ICO is even phonetically reminiscent of IPO, or initial public offering, is hardly a coincidence.)In most countries, the answer would be no: if something is not formally a security, it won’t be treated as such. But that is different in the US, whose security regulation extends to “investment contracts” — defined in a landmark case (centered on an orange orchard in Florida) as investments made with an “expectation of profits.”

Whether that applies to tokens— bizarre entities that have a sort of intrinsic value (as theoretical payment units) but are also being flipped around like stocks, is anybody’s guess. Right now, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has been silent on the matter, explains Peter Van Valkenburgh, a researcher at blockchain-focussed think tank Coin Center.

“SEC’s default position is ‘we're proceeding cautiously because, while we are worried about investor protection, we're not certain this is within our purview, and we don't want to stifle innovation’,” he says. “There's no indication that anything is gonna happen in the very short term.”
For the time being, ICO’s real challenge is whether it can thrive without being a pain in the side for the blockchain ecosystem itself. ICOs are likely behind the recent spike in the value of ether — with investors buying the cryptocurrency in order to take part in token sales; ICOs might also be behind ether’s sudden 30 percent drop in value, as many ether-loaded projects are converting their ICO-generated ether into fiat currency to pay their staff.
And the Ethereum network itself — which less than one year ago went through a traumatic restructuring following the collapse of The DAO — is being put under strain by the ICO onslaught, as relentless, massive volume of transactions generated by token sales commandeer the ledger’s computing power.
But that is not necessarily a bad thing, Van Valkenburgh says. “It could be a way to battle-harden the network: there have been issues with transaction delays and scaling because of the popularity of ICOs put strain on the network,” he says. “But if the blockchain has to grow, ICOs are a good way to test the infrastructure.”

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-initial-coin-offering-ico-token-sale

Posted: July 17, 2017, 12:16 am
(GLOBALINTELHUB.COM) 6/12/17 — Bitcoin has surged to all time highs, urging us to compose this article on a hot trending topic that we’ve wanted to compose for a long time.  Our parent company, Elite E Services, is primarily a FX algorithm development company – so we get asked about Bitcoin quite a bit.  Life is a deteriorating asset so let’s get right down to it.  Who created Bitcoin, and why?  Before we get started just a quick note to all those that haven’t read Splitting Pennies – which is a great primer for those interested in Bitcoin and where it will go next.
The creator of Bitcoin is officially a name, “Satoshi Nakamoto” – very few people believe that it was a single male from Japan.  For more detailed analysis about who is Satoshi Nakamoto see this article and the official Wikipedia entry.  In the early days of Bitcoin development this name is associated with original key-creation and communications on message boards, and then the project was officially handed over to others at which point this Satoshi character never appeared again (Although from time to time someone will come forward saying they are the real Satoshi Nakamoto, and then have their posts deleted).
Bitcoin could very well be the ‘one world currency’ that conspiracy theorists have been talking about for some time.  It’s a kill five birds with one stone solution – not only is Bitcoin an ideal one world currency, it allows law enforcement a perfect record of all transactions on the network.  It states very clearly on bitcoin.org (the official site) in big letters “Bitcoin is not anonymous” :
Some effort is required to protect your privacy with Bitcoin. All Bitcoin transactions are stored publicly and permanently on the network, which means anyone can see the balance and transactions of any Bitcoin address. However, the identity of the user behind an address remains unknown until information is revealed during a purchase or in other circumstances. This is one reason why Bitcoin addresses should only be used once. Always remember that it is your responsibility to adopt good practices in order to protect your privacy. Read more about protecting your privacy.
Another advantage of Bitcoin is the problem of Quantitative Easing – the Fed (and thus, nearly all central banks in the world) have painted themselves in a corner, metaphorically speaking.  QE ‘solved’ the credit crisis, but QE itself does not have a solution.  Currently all currencies are in a race to zero – competing with who can print more money faster.  Central Bankers who are in systemic analysis, their economic advisors, know this.  They know that the Fiat money system is doomed, all what you can read online is true (just sensationalized) – it’s a debt based system based on nothing.  That system was created, originally in the early 1900’s and refined during Breton Woods followed by the Nixon shock (This is all explained well in Splitting Pennies).  In the early 1900’s – there was no internet!  It is a very archaic system that needs to be replaced, by something modern, electronic, based on encryption.  Bitcoin!  It’s a currency based on ‘bits’ – but most importantly, Bitcoin is not the ‘one world currency’ per se, but laying the framework for larger cryptocurrency projects.  In the case of central banks, who control the global monetary system, that would manifest in ‘Settlement Coin’ :
Two resources available almost exclusively to central banks could soon be opened up to additional users as a result of a new digital currency project designed by a little-known startup and Swiss bank UBS.  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.
In case you didn’t read Splitting Pennies or don’t already know, the NSA/CIA often works for big corporate clients, just as it has become a cliche that the Iraq war was about big oil, the lesser known hand in global politics is the banking sector.  In other words, Bitcoin may have very well been ‘suggested’ or ‘sponsored’ by a banker, group of banks, or financial services firm.  But the NSA (as we surmise) was the company that got the job done.  And probably, if it was in fact ‘suggested’ or ‘sponsored’ by a private bank, they would have been waiting in the wings to develop their own Bitcoin related systems or as in the above “Settlement Coin.”  So the NSA made Bitcoin – so what?
It isn’t really important who or why created Bitcoin as the how – and the how is open source, so experts have dug through the code bit by bit (pun intended).  If the who or why isn’t important – why did we write an article about it?
The FX markets currently represent the exchange between ‘major’ and ‘minor’ currencies.  In the future, why not too they will include ‘cryptocurrencies’ – we’re already seeing the BTC/EUR pair popup on obscure brokers.  When BTC/USD and BTC/EUR are available at major FX banks and brokers, we can say – from a global FX perspective, that Bitcoin has ‘arrived.’  Many of us remember the days when the synthetic “Euro” currency was a new artificial creation that was being adopted, although the Euro project is thousands of degrees larger than the Bitcoin project.  But unlike the Euro, Bitcoin is being adopted at a near exponential rate by demand (Many merchants resisted the switch to Euros claiming it was eating into their profit margins and they were right!).
And to answer the question as to why Elite E Services is not actively involved in Bitcoin  the answer is that previously, you can’t trade Bitcoin.  Now we’re starting to see obscure brokers offering BTC/EUR but the liquidity is sparse and spreads are wacky – that will all change.  When we can trade BTC/USD just like EUR/USD you can bet that EES and a host of other algorithmic FX traders will be all over it!  It will be an interesting trade for sure, especially with all the volatility, the cross ‘pairs’ – and new cryptocurrencies.  For the record, for brokers- there’s not much difference adding a new symbol (currency pair) in MT4 they just need liquidity, which has been difficult to find.
So there’s really nothing revolutionary about Bitcoin, it’s just a logical use of technology in finance considering a plethora of problems faced by any central bank who creates currency.  And there are some interesting caveats to Bitcoin as compared to major currencies; Bitcoin is a closed system (there are finite Bitcoin) – this alone could make such currencies ‘anti-inflationary’ and at the least, hold their value (the value of the USD continues to deteriorate slowly over time as new M3 introduced into the system.)  But we need to pay
Another thing that Bitcoin has done is set the stage for a cryptocurrency race; even Google is investing in Bitcoin alternatives:
Google Ventures and China-based IDG Capital Partners are the second group of tech investors in two months to place a bet on OpenCoin, the company behind the currently-in-beta Ripple open-source payments protocol.  OpenCoin announced today that it had closed an additional round of funding — the amount wasn’t specified — with Google Ventures and IDG Capital Partners. (Hat tip to GigaOM for the news.)  Last month, OpenCoin wrapped up an earlier angel round of funding from another high-profile group of technology VCs: Andreessen Horowitz, FF Angel IV, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Vast Ventures and the Bitcoin Opportunity Fund.
Here’s some interesting theories about who or whom is Satoshi:
A corporate conglomerate   
Some researchers proposed that the name ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ was derived from a combination of tech companies consisting of Samsung, Toshiba, Nakayama, and Motorola. The notion that the name was a pseudonym is clearly true and it is doubtful they reside in Japan given the numerous forum posts with a distinctly English dialect.
Craig Steven Wright
This Australian entrepreneur claims to be the Bitcoin creator and provided proof.  But soon after, his offices were raided by the tax authorities on ‘an unrelated matter’
Soon after these stories were published, authorities in Australia raided the home of Mr Wright. The Australian Taxation Office said the raid was linked to a long-running investigation into tax payments rather than Bitcoin.
Questioned about this raid, Mr Wright said he was cooperating fully with the ATO.
“We have lawyers negotiating with them over how much I have to pay,” he said.
Other potential creators
Nick Szabo, and many others, have been suggested as potential Satoshi – but all have denied it:
The New Yorker published a piece pointing at two possible Satoshis, one of whom seemed particularly plausible: a cryptography graduate student from Trinity College, Dublin, who had gone on to work in currency-trading software for a bank and published a paper on peer-to-peer technology. The other was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, Vili Lehdonvirta. Both made denials.
Fast Company highlighted an encryption patent application filed by three researchers – Charles Bry, Neal King and Vladimir Oks­man – and a circumstantial link involving textual analysis of it and the Satoshi paper which found the phrase “…computationally impractical to reverse” in both. Again, it was flatly denied.
THE WINNER: It was the NSA
The NSA has the capability, the motive, and the operational capacity – they have teams of cryptographers, the biggest fastest supercomputers in the world, and they see the need.  Whether instructed by their friends at the Fed, in cooperation with their owners (i.e. Illuminati banking families), or as part of a DARPA project – is not clear and will never be known (unless a whistleblower comes forward).  In fact, the NSA employs some of the best mathematicians and cryptographers in the world.  Few know about their work because it’s a secret, and this isn’t the kind of job you leave to start your own cryptography company.
But the real smoking Gun, aside from the huge amount of circumstantial evidence and lack of a credible alternative, is the 1996 paper authored by NSA “HOW TO MAKE A MINT: THE CRYPTOGRAPHY OF ANONYMOUS ELECTRONIC CASH” available here.
The NSA was one of the first organizations to describe a Bitcoin-like system. About twelve years before Satoshi Nakamoto published his legendary white paper to the Metzdowd.com cryptography mailing list, a group of NSA information security researchers published a paper entitled How to Make a Mint: the Cryptography of Anonymous Electronic Cash in two prominent places, the first being an MIT mailing list and the second being much more prominent, The American Law Review (Vol. 46, Issue 4 ).
The paper outlines a system very much like Bitcoin in which secure financial transactions are possible through the use of a decentralized network the researchers refer informally to as a Bank. They list four things as indispensable in their proposed network: privacy, user identification (protection against impersonation), message integrity (protection against tampering/substitution of transaction information – that is, protection against double-spending), and nonrepudiation (protection against later denial of a transaction – a blockchain!).
“We will assume throughout the remainder of this paper that some authentication infrastructure is in place, providing the four security features.” (Section 1.2)
It is evident that SHA-256, the algorithm Satoshi used to secure Bitcoin, was not available because it came about in 2001. However, SHA-1 would have been available to them, having been published in 1993.
Why would the NSA want to do this?  One simple reason: Control.  
As we explain in Splitting Pennies – the primary means the US dominates the world is through economic policy, although backed by bombs.  And the critical support of the US Dollar is primarily, the military.  The connection between the military and the US Dollar system is intertwined inextricably.  There are thousands of great examples only one of them being how Iraq switched to the Euro right before the Army’s invasion. 
In October 2000 Iraq insisted on dumping the US dollar – ‘the currency of the enemy’ – for the more multilateral euro.  The changeover was announced on almost exactly the same day that the euro reached its lowest ebb, buying just $0.82, and the G7 Finance Ministers were forced to bail out the currency. On Friday the euro had reached $1.08, up 30 per cent from that time.
Almost all of Iraq’s oil exports under the United Nations oil-for-food programme have been paid in euros since 2001. Around 26 billion euros (£17.4bn) has been paid for 3.3 billion barrels of oil into an escrow account in New York.  The Iraqi account, held at BNP Paribas, has also been earning a higher rate of interest in euros than it would have in dollars.
The point here is there are a lot of different types of control.  The NSA monitors and collects literally all electronic communications; internet, phone calls, everything.  They listen in even to encrypted voice calls with high powered microphones, devices like cellphones equipped with recording devices (See original “Clipper” chip).  It’s very difficult to communicate on planet Earth in private, without the NSA listening.  So it is only logical that they would also want complete control of the financial system, including records of all electronic transactions, which Bitcoin provides.
Could there be an ‘additional’ security layer baked into the Blockchain that is undetectable, that allows the NSA to see more information about transactions, such as network location data?  It wouldn’t be so far fetched, considering their past work, such as Xerox copy machines that kept a record of all copies made (this is going back to the 70’s, now it’s common).  Of course security experts will point to the fact that this layer remains invisible, but if this does exist – of course it would be hidden.
More to the point about the success of Bitcoin – its design is very solid, robust, manageable – this is not the work of a student.  Of course logically, the NSA employs individuals, and ultimately it is the work of mathematicians, programmers, and cryptographers – but if we deduce the most likely group capable, willing, and motivated to embark on such a project, the NSA is the most likely suspect.  Universities, on the other hand, didn’t product white papers like this from 1996.
Another question is that if it was the NSA, why didn’t they go through more trouble concealing their identity?  I mean, the internet is rife with theories that it was in fact the NSA/CIA and “Satoshi Nakamoto” means in Japanese “Central Intelligence” – well there are a few answers for this, but to be congruent with our argument, it fits their profile.
Claims that the NSA created Bitcoin have actually been flung around for years. People have questioned why it uses the SHA-256 hash function, which was designed by the NSA and published by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). The fact that the NSA is tied to SHA-256 leads some to assume it’s created a backdoor to the hash function that no one has ever identified, which allows it to spy on Bitcoin users.
“If you assume that the NSA did something to SHA-256, which no outside researcher has detected, what you get is the ability, with credible and detectable action, they would be able to forge transactions. The really scary thing is somebody finds a way to find collisions in SHA-256 really fast without brute-forcing it or using lots of hardware and then they take control of the network,” cryptography researcher Matthew D. Green of Johns Hopkins University said in a previous interview.
Then there’s the question of “Satoshi Nakamoto” – if it was in fact the NSA, why not just claim ownership of it?  Why all the cloak and dagger?  And most importantly, if Satoshi Nakamoto is a real person, and not a group that wants to remain secret – WHY NOT come forward and claim your nearly $3 Billion worth of Bitcoin (based on current prices).
The CIA Project, a group dedicated to unearthing all of the government’s secret projects and making them public, hasreleased a video claiming Bitcoin is actually the brainchild of the US National Security Agency.
The video entitled CIA Project Bitcoin: Is Bitcoin a CIA or NSA project? claims that there is a lot of compelling evidences that proves that the NSA is behind Bitcoin. One of the main pieces of evidence has to do with the name of the mysterious man, woman or group behind the creation of Bitcoin, “Satoshi Nakamoto”.
According to the CIA Project, Satoshi Nakamoto means “Central Intelligence” in Japanese. Doing a quick web search, you’ll find out that Satoshi is usually a name given for baby boys which means “clear thinking, quick witted, wise,” while Nakamoto is a Japanese surname which means ‘central origin’ or ‘(one who lives) in the middle’ as people with this surname are found mostly in the Ryukyu islands which is strongly associated with the Ryūkyū Kingdom, a highly centralized kingdom that originated from the Okinawa Islands. So combining Nakamoto and Satoshi can be loosely interpreted as “Central Intelligence”.
Is it so really hard to believe?  This is from an organization that until the Snowden leaks, secretly recorded nearly all internet traffic on the network level by splicing fiber optic cables.  They even have a deep-sea splicing mission that will cut undersea cables and install intercept devices.  Making Bitcoin wouldn’t even be a big priority at NSA.
Certainly, anonymity is one of the biggest myths about Bitcoin. In fact, there has never been a more easily traceable method of payment. Every single transaction is recorded and retained permanently in the public “blockchain”.  The idea that the NSA would create an anarchic, peer-to-peer crypto-currency in the hope that it would be adopted for nefarious industries and become easy to track would have been a lot more difficult to believe before the recent leaks by Edward Snowden and the revelation that billions of phone calls had been intercepted by the US security services. We are now in a world where we now know that the NSA was tracking the pornography habits of Islamic “radicalisers” in order to discredit them and making deals with some of the world’s largest internet firms to insert backdoors into their systems.
And we’re not the only ones who believe this, in Russia they ‘know’ this to be true without sifting through all the evidence.
Nonetheless, Svintsov’s remarks count as some of the more extreme to emanate from the discussion. Svintsov told Russian broadcast news agency REGNUM:All these cryptocurrencies [were] created by US intelligence agencies just to finance terrorism and revolutions.Svintsov reportedly went on to explain how cryptocurrencies have started to become a payment method for consumer spending, and cited reports that terrorist organisations are seeking to use the technology for illicit means.
Let’s elaborate on what is ‘control’ as far as the NSA is concerned.  Bitcoin is like the prime mover.  All future cryptocurrencies, no matter how snazzy or functional – will never have the same original keys as Bitcoin.  It created a self-sustained, self-feeding bubble – and all that followed.  It enabled law enforcement to collect a host of criminals on a network called “Silk Road” and who knows what other operations that happened behind the scenes.  Because of pesky ‘domestic’ laws, the NSA doesn’t control the internet in foreign countries.  But by providing a ‘cool’ currency as a tool, they can collect information from around the globe and like Facebook, users provide this information voluntarily.  It’s the same strategy they use like putting the listening device in the chips at the manufacturing level, which saves them the trouble of wiretapping, electronic eavesdropping, and other risky methods that can fail or be blocked.  It’s impossible to stop a cellphone from listening to you, for example (well not 100%, but you have to physically rewire the device).  Bitcoin is the same strategy on a financial level – by using Bitcoin you’re giving up your private transactional information.  By itself, it would not identify you per se (as the blockchain is ‘anonymous’ but the transactions are there in the public register, so combined with other information, which the NSA has a LOT OF – they can triangulate their information more precisely.
That’s one problem solved with Bitcoin – another being the economic problem of QE (although with a Bitcoin market cap of $44 Billion, that’s just another day at the Fed buying MBS) – and finally, it squashes the idea of sovereignty although in a very, very, very subtle way.  You see, a country IS a currency.  Until now, currency has always been tied to national sovereignty (although the Fed is private, USA only has one currency, the US Dollar, which is exclusively American).  Bitcoin is a super-national currency, or really – the world’s first one world currency.
Of course, this is all great praise for the DOD which seems to have a 50 year plan – but after tens of trillions spent we’d hope that they’d be able to do something better than catching terrorists (which mostly are artificial terrorists).
Posted: June 13, 2017, 4:50 pm
(GLOBALINTELHUB.COM) – 6/9/2017 For those who are not drooling on their lazy-boy high on Prozac and Lays (both strong brands) know that the world is not as seen on TV.  But even in TV, on shows such as "White Collar" - the strange relationship between the 'police' and the 'bandits' can be seen and understood.  The differences in many cases between a career Special Agent and cat burglar can be thin circumstantial nuances; and they often 'flip' sides, most notably in the case we all know about Frank Abagnale, now a successful security and fraud consultant, working with the FBI to detect serious financial fraud.  Let's take a step back for a moment; the "FBI" hires mostly accountants, and they pursue a number of crimes but most notably financial fraud.  They serve as the police for the CFTC, the SEC, for extreme enforcement actions, as well as investigating a number of issues - from their website:
Our Priorities
Protect the United States from terrorist attack
Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage
Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes
Combat public corruption at all levels
Protect civil rights
Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises
Combat major white-collar crime
Combat significant violent crime
Our People & Leadership
The FBI employs 35,000 people, including special agents and support professionals such as intelligence analysts, language specialists, scientists, and information technology specialists. Learn how you can join us at FBIJobs.gov. For details on our executives and organizational structure, see our Leadership & Structure webpage.
What should stick out to readers in an environment where a potentially politicized and corrupt FBI (at least, the leadership) is the "Combat public corruption at all levels" - and going back to the age old regulatory paradox, 'who watches the watchers' let's take a look at the old dog who made the FBI what it is today; J. Edgar Hoover.
In case you have not, and are interested in this topic, take a weekend and read this must read book about the FBI: J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets - why bother reading about a figure who is long gone and has no surviving heirs?  Because in order to understand where we are today, with the situation with the FBI and Trump, we need to understand where we came from.  Certainly the FBI has transformed since 1972; however the power, scope, size, methods, political leanings, and other elements of the FBI still remain as established by Hoover.
Let's dismantle some of the false images many have about the FBI.  The FBI doesn't 'solve crimes' as on popular TV shows like "CSI" - although they do have excellent forensics labs, this rarely (but sometimes) leads to a conviction.  Primarily, the FBI relies on informants, "Confidential Informants" (CIs), tips, and 'turning' - a technique popularized by Hoover and used to this day.  Global Intel Hub interviewed several anonymous sources to confirm this information.  Here's how it works.  The FBI will arrest a petty low level criminal and get him to 'turn' on his boss; they will threaten him with life in prison, maybe poke his eyes a little or something, and get him to become a witness in court.  Also they will want a full blueprint of the organization - and in exchange they will get into the Witness Protection Program - yes this program really exists and there are literally thousands of people in this program:
As of 2013, 8,500 witnesses and 9,900 family members have been protected by the U.S. Marshals Service since 1971.
But before entering WITSEC, which is an endgame, the FBI can use informants for years.  CIs can be bank employees (i.e. Wall St.), mafia agents, corporate executives .. basically anyone.  Take a look at the case of CI gone bad:
For 30 years, DeVecchio was one of the FBI 's most important mob busters.
DeVecchio was Scarpa's handler, and Scarpa was more than an ordinary stool pigeon -- he had also allegedly served as muscle for the FBI when the bureau needed some extra legal assistance in making difficult cases. As a result, he was allegedly accorded special, sometimes questionable, favors, including tips on coming indictments that allowed Scarpa's associates to skip town in advance. But, in aiding his informant to commit murder, prosecutors now allege that DeVecchio went too far in protecting his valuable mob asset. Law enforcement sources say DeVecchio may have also enriched himself in the process.
Yes, you read correctly - for 30 years, "DeVecchio" was a CI that gave the FBI information about mob activities.  A useful asset, but the underlying conclusion is simple - the FBI doesn't 'solve' crimes.   With the recent testimony of James Comey, a lawyer by trade, all of this needs to be taken into consideration.  How has the FBI and its internal politics & policies affected significant events in American history; JFK, 911, the credit crisis, and others?
Another strategy which now is no secret used by Hoover, was obtaining secret information by trickery or surveillance, and then using it to blackmail the target to get them to do what they want.  Hoover supposedly kept dossiers on over 10,000 americans; however long the list is - the method was simple.  Get the dirt on the target then use it to manipulate them.  If you think this is fanciful; again - read this book  J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets.
The point is that, there's no way to know for sure what's going on inside the FBI today.  The reason we need to look at Hoover's FBI is because now that he's long gone, and there's even been a DiCaprio film about him, we can see a bigger picture of what was really going on in the FBI at that time.
So it should be no surprise, that an FBI director, would be meddling in domestic politics - whether it be in elections or by dealing with sitting Presidents.  Everyone was scared of Hoover, even US Presidents both before and after they were elected.  Now, clearly this was a unique individual who built the FBI in his own image during a unique period in history - there will never be another Hoover.  But all this history about the FBI should be noted, following to today's FBI that literally is 'creating' terrorists right here in the USA:
WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. has significantly increased its use of stings in terrorism cases, employing agents and informants to pose as jihadists, bomb makers, gun dealers or online “friends” in hundreds of investigations into Americans suspected of supporting the Islamic State, records and interviews show.
Undercover operations, once seen as a last resort, are now used in about two of every three prosecutions involving people suspected of supporting the Islamic State, a sharp rise in the span of just two years, according to a New York Times analysis. Charges have been brought against nearly 90 Americans believed to be linked to the group.
The increase in the number of these secret operations, which put operatives in the middle of purported plots, has come with little public or congressional scrutiny, and the stings rely on F.B.I. guidelines that predate the rise of the Islamic State.
While F.B.I. officials say they are careful to avoid illegally entrapping suspects, their undercover operatives are far from bystanders. In recent investigations from Florida to California, agents have helped people suspected of being extremists acquire weapons, scope out bombing targets and find the best routes to Syria to join the Islamic State, records show.
Here's how it works.  The FBI 'suspects' someone may be an extremist (they are Muslim, or at least look like).  They pose as another Muslim and start to engage in a conversation about making a 'plot' such as a 'bomb' - but at the last moment, arrest the entrapped individual.  This accomplishes a few things, one - they can make a long list of cases 'solved' that would have otherwise become terrorist attacks (they are working hard for their 8 Billion budget).  Two, it scares the population that the threat of terrorism is 'real' (when in reality, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be attacked by a terrorist).  This is reinforced by the media 'terrorism terrorism terrorism'.
The paradoxical question here is - left to their own would these potential 'terrorists' have committed any acts of terror, or not?  Of course, foiling a crime before it happens is always ideal.  But at what point does entrapment become 'encouragement' - we're not talking about drug dealing here, terrorism is a serious thing (people can be killed).
But defense lawyers, Muslim leaders and civil liberties advocates say that F.B.I. operatives coax suspects into saying and doing things that they might not otherwise do — the essence of entrapment.“They’re manufacturing terrorism cases,” said Michael German, a former undercover agent with the F.B.I. who researches national security law at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. In many of the recent prosecutions, he said, “these people are five steps away from being a danger to the United States.”
The American Mafia, once seen as one of the most popularized 'threats' has been on the wane, as most of them have moved from petty crimes to legitimate businesses (or semi-legit) .. An organization like the FBI needs terrorists and other artificial 'threats' to justify 35,000 + employees, just as the military and other parts of the DOD need "Russia" to act as a looming potential threat to justify trillions in military spending.  (Anyone with mild room temperature IQ knows Russia, China, Iran, North Korea all working together pose no real threat to USA militarily, economically, or culturally).
Bear this in mind next time the news media tries to distract viewers from real news - Comey is not news.  It's irrelevant.  Trump's reaction, irrelevant.  Remember, the entire "Russia Investigation" never existed, it was all a liberal conspiracy created or to use their term 'fake news' in order to destroy Trump and use it in Illuminati style 'killing two birds with one stone' as a prelude to war and specifically to build a pipeline through Syria as the next "Iraq" to plunder, with project Ukraine a failure the virus needs to expand into untapped resources to colonize, and Trump simply stood in the way of that policy.  The FBI being a critical component of the giant global octopus with hands everywhere, needed to jump in with their own tune to play in the melody.
For a detailed breakdown of how the global system works in reality (not 'as seen on TV') checkout Splitting Pennies - Understanding Forex
Order stuff online - save money, save time - enjoy your life!  @ www.pleaseorderit.com
Posted: June 10, 2017, 6:26 pm
FX is quite literally, a rigged game.  Not like the stock market, well not exactly.  FX has been, a game of 'how many numbers am I holding behind my back?' and the guess is always wrong!  As we explain in Splitting Pennies Understanding Forex - FX is rigged.  But that doesn't mean there isn't opportunity!  One just needs to understand it.
French bank BNP Paribas was fined $350 million by the New York State Department of
Financial Services
 for lax oversight in its foreign-exchange business that
allowed “nearly unfettered misconduct” by more than a dozen employees involved
in exchange rate manipulation, officials announced Wednesday.



From 2007 through 2013, a trader on the bank’s New York desk, identified in the
consent order as Jason Katz, ran a number of schemes with more than a dozen
BNPP traders and salespeople on key foreign exchange trading desks to
manipulate prices and spreads in several currencies, including the South
African rand, Hungarian forint and Turkish lira, officials said.



He called his group of traders a "cartel" and they communicated in a
chat room called "ZAR Domination," a reference to the rand’s trading
symbol, according to the consent order. The group would push up the price of
the illiquid rand during New York business hours when the South African market
was closed, moving the currency in whichever way they chose, and thus
depressing competition, officials said.



Katz also enlisted colleagues at other banks to widen spreads for orders in
rands, increasing bank profits and limiting competition at the customer’
expense, the order says. Some of the traders engaged in illegal coordination
and shared confidential customer information, officials said. As part of a
cooperation agreement with prosecutors, Katz pled guilty in Manhattan federal court in
January to one count of conspiracy to restrain trade in violation of the
Sherman Act.



“Participants in the foreign exchange market rely on a transparent and fair
market to ensure competitive prices for their trades for all participants,”
Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said in a statement. “Here the
bank paid little or no attention to the supervision of its foreign exchange
trading business, allowing BNPP traders and others to violate New York state
law over the course of many years and repeatedly abused the trust of their
customers."



BNP Paribas, which employs nearly 190,000 people and has total assets of more
than €2.1 trillion (approximately $2.36 trillion), said in a statement that the
$350 million fine will be covered by existing provisions. It said it had
implemented a group-wide remediation initiative and cooperated fully in the
investigation.



“The conduct which led to this settlement occurred during the period from 2007
to 2013. Since this time, BNP Paribas has proactively implemented extensive
measures to strengthen its systems of control and compliance,” the bank said in
its statement. “The group has increased resources and staff dedicated to these
functions, conducted extensive staff training and launched a new code of
conduct which applies to all staff.”



Three BNPP employees were fired, seven more resigned and several others were
disciplined for misconduct or supervisory shortcomings in relation to the
probe, the order says.



Katz’s attorney, Michael Tremonte of 
Sher Tremonte LLP, did not respond Wednesday to a call seeking
comment.
But really, what's another $350 Million in the grand scheme of things for BNP?  Just another day's profits in the FX market.
This probe isn't new; regulators have been looking into FX rigging for years.  And practically, the fine won't make any customers whole - it will just shore up the coffers for the NY State department of financial services.  With inflation out of control, they need the money.  
For a detailed breakdown of this virtual monopoly 'they' have on the global financial system, checkout Splitting Pennies Understanding Forex.
Posted: May 25, 2017, 11:49 pm
NEW YORK -- Wherever there are British expats with money, there’s a DeVere Group office not far away. And in many of those places, the company’s aggressive sales tactics or high fees have drawn the attention of regulators.
Now the financial advisory firm, which says it has attracted $12 billion in assets, including more than $500 million in the US, is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to five former employees informed of the probe by management before they left. About half of the salesmen in DeVere’s New York office have quit or been fired in recent weeks, they say.
Among the irregularities, according to the former employees: The firm for years charged upfront commissions on some investments, even though its SEC registration didn’t allow such fees. Three of the former employees, all of whom asked for anonymity out of fear of retaliation, said some salesmen had cocaine and other drugs delivered to fuel their high-pressure cold-calling. The former employees said the SEC probe concerns compliance issues and has intensified in recent months.
George Prior, a spokesman for DeVere, dismissed questions about the probe and the allegations of former employees, saying he wouldn’t discuss “unsubstantiated rumours or speculation”. Judy Burns, a spokeswoman for the SEC, declined to comment.
“A high quality, results-driven service for our clients is always at the forefront of the firm’s focus,” Mr Prior said in an email, adding that the company was conducting a “strategic review”.
‘Massive Opportunity’
Nigel Green, a British stockbroker, started DeVere in Hong Kong about 15 years ago. He previously had worked at offshore brokerage Britex International, which ran into trouble when a high-yield fund it had been selling stopped paying investors, according to reports in the Financial Times. DeVere bought Britex in 2002, International Money Marketing reported.
Mr Green expanded to the Middle East and Europe, and then to Shanghai, Tokyo, Thailand and Africa, according to promotional videos posted on YouTube. DeVere says it now has 80,000 clients in more than 100 countries.
“When I went abroad, I was really shocked, it was a massive opportunity,” Mr Green said in a video posted on YouTube in 2016. “Today people want international advice.”
Mr Prior, the spokesman for Mr Green, declined to make him available for an interview.
Attractive Pitch
DeVere opened its US outpost in 2012. It hired mainly young British men to pitch their countrymen on the tax benefits of moving their pensions overseas. Former employees say they spent most of their time cold-calling and sending messages on LinkedIn.
The salesmen had an attractive pitch. Under British law, some workers who had retirement savings in the UK could move them overseas and avoid taxes they’d have to pay when they withdrew the money.
There were a lot of fees. In addition to an annual management fee, DeVere would charge a fee on the pension transfer that could be as high as 7%, spread over several years, three former employees said. Clients who transferred pensions would have to decide how to invest the money, giving DeVere salesmen another chance to earn fees.
Among the investments DeVere sold in the US were structured notes from banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, according to the former employees. These investments, a form of derivatives, are a way to bet on the stock market. One Goldman note offered an 11% return if three indexes all went up by a designated date. DeVere received a 4% upfront commission, the former employees said.
Collecting Commissions
Because DeVere registered with the SEC as an investment adviser, not as a brokerage, its employees aren’t allowed to collect commissions.
“If you receive transaction-based commissions then you need to be registered as a broker-dealer,” said Seth Taube, a former SEC enforcement official who’s now a lawyer at Baker Botts LLP in New York.
DeVere didn’t respond to questions about commissions. In 2014, Benjamin Alderson, then head of the New York office, told International Adviser about SEC regulations: “You cannot be anything but squeaky clean or it will show.”
Andrew Williams, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, said the bank terminated its distribution relationships with DeVere last year, declining to say why. Mark Lake, a Morgan Stanley spokesman, declined to comment.
Zip Line
DeVere employees who did well made a lot of money. The firm had about 50 US salesmen at its peak, and the top tier made more than $500,000 a year, former employees said. The best performers were invited to DeVere’s Christmas party in London. At the 2015 event at the Grosvenor Hotel, Mr Green, DeVere’s founder, descended to the stage on a zip line amid fireworks, and the former lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls performed, the employees said.
Mr Green, a trim and diminutive man, visited New York every few months. An employee would be assigned to bring a kettlebell to his hotel room for his morning workouts. Some former salesmen said he reminded them of the sinister nuclear-plant owner Mr Burns from “The Simpsons”.
Three of the former employees said they would drink booze out of paper cups during the day when Mr Green wasn’t watching. Younger guys were sent downstairs to buy drugs from delivery men. Most of the misbehaviour stopped around 2015, the former employees said. Salesmen who worked at DeVere more recently said they hadn’t seen anything untoward.
In 2015, one of DeVere’s few female employees sued for sexual harassment, saying salesmen made vulgar and racist comments about her husband, a black professional football player. The New York Post published a story about the lawsuit with the headline “I worked in real-life ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ den: NFL player’s wife”. Mr Prior, the DeVere spokesman, said at the time that the allegations were “false and incredulous”. The case was settled out of court, though the former employee, Philippa Okoye, has since filed a second lawsuit alleging she wasn’t paid.
Singapore Sanction
DeVere has a history of run-ins with regulators. In 2008, a Singapore subsidiary was fined for using unlicensed advisers and selling insurance products outside its licence mandate, according to a statement by the city-state’s regulator. The firm closed the office that year.
In Hong Kong, a former DeVere subsidiary was fined HK$3.1 million ($398,000) last year for breaches including using unlicensed advisers and failing to hand over information to a local regulator. Mr Green had already acquired another firm, Acuma Hong Kong Ltd., and he uses that brand in the city now instead of DeVere.
DeVere is on a list of firms published by Japan’s regulator that aren’t authorised to solicit investors. It was on a similar list in Thailand, though it isn’t anymore. Its UK subsidiary stopped providing some pension advice this year amid a regulatory review. DeVere has blamed some problems on scammers using its name.
South Africa’s Financial Services Board is also investigating DeVere, according to Nokuthula Mtungwa, a spokeswoman for the agency. Ross Pennell, a former manager of DeVere’s Cape Town office who said he’s been contacted by the regulator, said the probe concerned fees and disclosures. He said clients weren’t told about some of the commissions they were paying or that some investments locked up their money for years.
“In my experience, DeVere was sometimes more focussed on making sales than actually giving proper financial advice,” Mr Pennell said in an interview.
After leaving DeVere in 2014, Mr Pennell sued the company over an unpaid bonus and other money he says he was owed. He said he then received threatening anonymous phone calls, and a mobile phone message with what appeared to be surveillance photographs of his wife and children. He reported the threats to South African police, who determined there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue the matter. A judge ruled in favour of Pennell in the pay dispute this month, but DeVere is appealing.
Pension Warning
An SEC investigation may not be the biggest threat to offshore advisers like DeVere: In March, the UK government imposed a 25% tax on some pensions transferred overseas. The UK Financial Conduct Authority also posted a warning on its website in January about the risks of pension transfers, such as advisers who recommend high-risk investments or scams.
DeVere said in a May 13 press release that its strategic review will involve a corporate restructuring and should be completed by the end of the month. The company sold its Bahamas operation to its managers and has been busy this year setting up new businesses. It got an investment-banking licence from Mauritius, an island east of Madagascar, opened a private bank on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and started a “global e-money app” that it says will rival traditional banks.
“Banking as we have known it until now is finished,” Mr Green said in an April 10 press release announcing the app.
Posted: May 25, 2017, 12:09 pm
Every now and again we at Elite E Services stumble upon business models in the course of our operation that are sometimes interesting but alarming at the same time - in this case, timeshare fraud.  After having our head held under water by combination of ugly circumstances (tough regulation making business impossible but at the same time losing millions to Forex fraudsters which ironically the regulations failed to stop); we are sensitive on fraud - especially that which does not appear to be on the surface!  And as markets evolve, so do fraud models.. 
SAN DIEGO – Jeffrey Spanier, a 51-year-old former owner of Amerifund Capital Finance, LLC located in Boca Raton, Florida, was convicted by a federal jury today for his role in an elaborate stock-loan fraud scheme in which executives and shareholders of publicly traded corporations collectively lost over $100 million when the stock they pledged as collateral for loans was immediately sold in order to fund the loans.
Why this is a good example though - this fraud was perpetrated at the highest levels.  Victims of this fraud included the who's who of Wall St., corporate executivies, ultra high net worth individuals, and even Bono (
This may have to be a multi-part series as we uncover this new type of fraud which may be the next big 'securities fraud' as what we are looking at - appears to be unregistered securities.  Let's start with a short history of what a timeshare is and how we got where we are.  
Long ago, before the dinosaurs, the Johnson family wanted to share their lake cottage with the Smith family for the summer, and asked them to kick in for the repairs of the old dock.  Or something like that.  And then it became a business - of course starting from the infamous Fort Frauderdale, Florida (during this time Boca Raton was still a swamp, inhabitied only by IBM and some Japanese..)
The first timeshare in the United States was started in 1974 by Caribbean International Corporation (CIC), based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It offered what it called a 25-year vacation license rather than ownership. The company owned two other resorts the vacation license holder could alternate their vacation weeks with: one in St. Croix and one in St. Thomas; both in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands properties began their timeshare sales in 1973 with owners Hillie Meyers, Don Saunders, and Arthur Zimand.
How we got to where we are today follows the same path of all industries; fuelled by Fed policy of cheap money, an expanding real estate market, retiring rich baby boomers, and all the other favorable demographics.  But what insiders in this industry learned quickly was that, they were really selling the dream.  It was possible to sell the nothing, the artificiality.  "Real" estate is just that - it's real.  Timeshare owners don't really 'own' anything, if you read the agreements - it's a contract to pay, an obligation - in perpetuity.  Every time share contract is different but in no case is there actual ownership of 'real estate' - you may own the 'rights' to a 'membership' but if it cannot be 'sold' then what kind of ownership is that really?  What they learned was that the profit here was all in the sizzle, not in the steak - and if they could enhance the sizzle to be 99% and serve Grade B flank steak, they'd have a winning model to become very rich, which was borderline legal.  While the timeshare industry itself is 'legal' and in some states there are 'regulations' - many of the tactics they use, contracts they offer, are illegal.  Many of the 'salespeople' they hire, have criminal records for financial fraud.  In fact, the FTC currently has hundreds of criminal investigations against timeshare companies, timeshare resale scams, timeshare fraud, and related illegal activities.  Similar to how the Forex fraud we saw had nothing to do with Forex, many of these frauds have nothing to do with timeshares.  People are so desperate to sell their obligations, when a scammer calling from Mexico says he can 'resell' your timeshare (which is practically impossible) hopeful victims wire thousands of dollars to the foreign bank account with little respute.  Doesn't sound like a lot of money for a scam, but - multiplied by the 10 Million timeshare owners out there, this can add up to millions of dollars for the fraudsters.
When you 'buy' a timeshare 'contract' it's sort of like a debt, you are obligated to pay and if you die, your children will inherit the payments.  Sounds a lot like a bond!  Yes, these are unregistered securities.  The 'exchange' as they call it, RCI, is an unregistered exchange.  There are issues with the SEC, the CFTC, the states, and possibly even anti-trust issues.  Some of these issues are starting to be talked about in the financial media:
Summary
  • Analysts upgrading HGV are not considering the 'dark side' of this industry.
  • Potential liabilities can spring up anytime that can change this tune.
  • Angry customers complain, which can soon become lawsuits, with deleterious consequences.
About half of the big timeshare companies are public companies, so here's where the biggest issues lie.  Because public companies are required to follow rules such as disclosure rules that don't apply to private companies.  So this may be where we see the first complaints.
Really what it comes down to, is a broken model.  Not all timeshares are frauds - but in an inflationary environment, is such a model - fraud removed - profitable anymore?  It's like the Series 7 stockbroker, who used to charge a percent of the trade - now anyone can place their own trade for $9.99 or less whilst sitting in their bathrobe petting their cat.  The timeshare model is a broken bricks and mortar model from the past, it's dead like the shopping mall is dead, just like Amazon is killing retail stores, new upstarts that remain to be seen (still do not exist) will cannabalize this rotten model.  In the meantime, there's a lot to be decided in court.
Even according to industry 'official' statistics, about 17% of timeshare owners are not happy.  Although Diamond is now private and bigger companies have 'cleaned up' their act, reports of false imprisonment, fraud by trickery, misleading sales statements, and outright refusals to comply with customers requests, and just a few of the things still going on.. just read sites like this Consumer Reports (RCI): 
We see no reason to sign up for RCI except to give the company money. We are new members who tried to use RCI for the first time. We wanted to visit El Dorado Suites, Riviera Maya, using our exchange. Through RCI, we have to pay a $399 fee for a mandatory 7-day visit. RCI requires we also pay a $2500 "Mandatory all inclusive" fee for the El Dorado. So that's the cost of our RCI membership, plus a $399 fee, plus a $2500 all-inclusive fee. Curious, we logged into El Dorado's home page and found we could sign up for the exact same vacation, not using RCI, for a total cost of $2200, also all-inclusive. So the all-inclusive fee alone is more than the actual cost of staying at the El Dorado Suites, without having ever met an RCI salesperson.

...

I have been with RCI approx 12yrs. My previous issues have been the fact that they charge for unused points... Live and learn. My complaint is that I had to cancel a reservation. It's unfortunate but situations do arise and plans have to get changed. I cancelled 5-days prior to my check-in date. RCI WILL NEITHER REFUND NOR CREDIT my charge of $99.00! They say they have a 24-hour 'grace period'. I feel this is a major RIP-OFF to consumers and extremely bad business practice. I have contacted them by email, customer service and 'blabbering' supervisor. I was told "they have to keep the lights on" in order to provide their service. Well, RCI, my lights need to be on as well!! BUYER BEWARE.
You get the idea.  One can spend a weekend reading these, it does make more interesting reading than outright financial fraud, but eventually it will make you want to vomit.  You can't call this a business model - you have to call it 'fraud' or 'scam' because it's like that.  If normal companies operated like this, they'd be shut down.  Imagine walking into Wal Mart and instead of their 'no questions asked' return policy they argued with you and told you there was a 'grace period' or some such nonsense, there would be riots, boycotts - Wal Mart would be no more.  90% of business operates like that.  The only exception is software sales because practically, once you 'download' the software you can copy it and there's no way to prove that you didn't.  Other than that - and some other rare exceptions, you can't lock people in a room for 8 hours without their permission.  Readers - this is a time-bomb waiting to explode!  How can we profit from it?  Short the stocks; (HGV) (WYN) (VAC) et al   
If you own a timeshare and want out, there are only a few lawfirms who are actually law firms who can do this for you, like this one Fortis Law Group PLC.  There are also hundreds of scam companies claiming to be 'timeshare resale experts' who even have 'licenses' to do this - but beware - this is a scam too!  This industry is filled with fraud from one end of the business cycle to the other.  It can only be explained by George Carlin, with this clip:

We know what we have to do.  Let's get working!
Posted: May 22, 2017, 6:07 pm

Summary

Analysts upgrading HGV are not considering the 'dark side' of this industry.
Potential liabilities can spring up anytime that can change this tune.
Angry customers complain, which can soon become lawsuits, with deleterious consequences.
There's no dispute that Hilton Grand Vacations Inc (NYSE:HGV) has been doing well over the past few weeks. But, and it's a big but, most of this buying has been fueled by analyst reports, such as this one:
Nomura reiterated their buy rating on shares of Hilton Grand Vacations Inc in a research note published on Friday morning. The brokerage currently has a $43.00 price target on the stock.
We all know how this goes; a huge Wall St. bank has to unload a fund position so they ask their buddies in the analysis department to publish a buy or hold rating on the issue which they know will be good for a few points. Of course it doesn't always happen that way, but the conflict and potential for conflicts should not be ignored by investors. Many investors already don't pay attention to what the analysts say, or else Seeking Alpha wouldn't be so popular!
Posted: May 15, 2017, 9:50 pm
It was an odd transaction from the outset: $14 million, double the going rate, for a 31-acre plot of flat, undeveloped land just west of Chicago. In the nine months since, the curious use of the space has only added to the intrigue. A single, nondescript pole with two antennas was erected by a row of shrubs. Some supporting equipment was rolled in. That’s it.
But those aren’t ordinary antennas. And the buyer of the property isn’t your typical land investor. It’s an affiliate of a company called Jump Trading LLC, a legendary and secretive trading firm that’s a major player in some of the most important financial markets. Just across the street, it turns out, lies the data center for CME Group Inc., the world’s biggest futures exchange. By placing its antennas so close to CME’s servers, Jump may be trying to shave maybe a microsecond -- one-millionth of a second -- off its reaction time, potentially enough to separate a winning from a losing bid in trading that takes place at almost the speed of light.
It’s the latest, and perhaps boldest, salvo in an escalating war that’s being waged to stay competitive in the high-speed trading business. The war is one of proximity -- to see who can get data in and out of CME the quickest. A company called McKay Brothers LLC recently won approval to build the tallest microwave tower in the area while another, Webline Holdings LLC, has installed microwave dishes on a utility pole just outside the data center.
“It tells you how valuable being just a little bit faster is,” said Michael Goldstein, a finance professor at Babson College in Babson Park, Massachusetts. “People say seconds matter. This is microseconds matter.”

Platform Shoes

Traders have long fought ferociously to gain an edge, even to the point of wearing ultra-high platform shoes to stand out in the era when they shouted and waved their hands to execute an order. The dubious fashion was mercifully ended in 2000 by CME’s predecessor, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which cited a rash of injuries in banning shoes with soles higher than 2 inches.
The battle for speed was later waged over fiber-optic cable and then, within the past decade, microwave technology, which can convey data in nearly half the time.
Jump Trading declined to comment, but in Aurora it appears that it, too, was reacting to competitors in the latest round of jockeying. In October 2015, McKay Brothers, a company that sells access to its microwave network to high-speed traders, leased land diagonal to the CME data center, under the name Pierce Broadband LLC, according to DuPage County property records.
Last month, the county gave McKay approval to erect a 350-foot high microwave tower that could be 600 feet closer to the data center than its current location, records show. Two trading firms, IMC BV and Tower Research Capital LLC, own minority stakes in McKay. Co-founder Stephane Tyc said his firm may never build the tower but it would be part of the firm’s continual efforts to speed transmission time. 

Utility Pole

Then there’s Webline Holdings. In November 2015, it was granted a license to operate microwave equipment on a utility pole just outside the data center, according to Federal Communications Commission records. Webline has licenses for a microwave network stretching from Aurora to Carteret, New Jersey, where Nasdaq Inc.’s data center is located. Messages left for Webline were not returned.
Last year, the Jump Trading affiliate World Class Wireless purchased the 31-acre lot for $14 million, according to county records. “They paid probably twice as much as it’s worth,” said David Friedland, an executive director in commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield’s Rosemont, Illinois, office. “I don’t see anyone else paying close to that price.”
The license for the transmission dishes is held by a joint venture between World Class and a unit of KCG Holdings Inc., a trading firm that Virtu Financial Inc. is acquiring.

Fiber Cable

It’s unclear which firm is now closest to CME servers. Trading data first leaves CME computers via fiber cable, and then to nearby antennas that send it by microwave to other towers until it reaches New Jersey, where all the major U.S. stock exchanges house their computers. The moves in Aurora are intended to reduce the time that the data is conveyed through cable.
Sending data back and forth between the U.S. Midwest and East Coast allows high-frequency traders to profit from price differences for related assets, including S&P 500 Index futures in Illinois and stock prices in New Jersey. Those money-making opportunities often last only tiny fractions of a second.
There may be a simple way to avoid the skirmishing among traders. A microwave tower could be installed on the roof of the CME data center to eliminate the need for jockeying around the site. The exchange is indeed looking at allowing roof access, along with CyrusOne Inc., the company that bought the data center last year, CME said in a statement. Traders being traders, however, they may continue to battle, this time for the most advantageous position on the microwave tower itself.
“We are confident the CME can provide an alternate and better solution which offers a level playing field to all participants," said McKay’s Tyc.
Posted: May 13, 2017, 2:47 pm
Forex is the most simple market in the world.  As we explain in our book Splitting Pennies - Forex is the underpinning of the world's financial system.  Although it is also the least understood market, there's nothing 'sophisticated' about FX.  Take a dollar, exchange it for a euro.  The rate changes - exchange it back.  Simple!  Trading money.
There is no '2 day settlement' in Forex, a custodian, there's no Reg D, no Reg NMS - there's no HFT front running your orders, there's no 'order types' - there's no exchange rules (because there's no exchange).  Actually, when you strip away the complexities of most markets like securities, bonds, real estate, commodities, FX is many times over the most simple market.  
Understandably, the securities market is the most widely promoted to investors because of the potential for making high returns from participating in corporate ownership (and thus ownership of profits).  But securities are a derivative.  Investors don't really own the companies - they own the shares.  And actually to be technical, they don't own the shares too - they are controlled by a huge custodian DTCC.  The securities, bond, and futures markets are the core of modern capitalism.  But they aren't a necessity, they are an abstration and thus - have complex rules.  Or to say differently - the banking system needs the real economy - the real economy doesn't need the banking system.
How do these abstract markets drive inflation?  Here's how.  QE doesn't directly go into the economy.  However, by keeping interest rates low, both in real terms and buy the Fed's various asset purchase programs - it means money has never been cheaper.  With cheap money, it's easy for i-banks to borrow at zero or near zero rates, invest in any index at 2x or 4x leverage and get their 20% - 40% per year with virtually no risk (that is, no seen risk - there is huge tail risk that one day the market will collapse, which it will for sure, like the big bubble that it is.)  
The 'stock markets' have become so intertwined with the real economy, they have made themselves a necessity.  Like a virus that has taken over a host, now it would be practically impossible to kill the market without affecting the overall economy.  All of this has become so complicated, with so many involved parties - it has become a giant spider web.
On the topic of the Fed and their direct stock market alleged manipulation, consider the following.  The Fed is owned by the member banks.  The Fed gives it's QE to the member banks, almost all of which are now publicly traded companies.  Here's where the paper trail begins for the 'conspiracy crowd' about the Fed being owned by nefarious 13 families:  Public disclosure rules mean that anyone can lookup what's going on at Bank of America (BAC).  Hiding significant information at public companies is very difficult, and becoming more and more difficult with the digitization of records, communications, and basically all aspects of business, which by the way is all 'doubled' and recorded on a network level by ATT (T) another public company - and stored in an NSA database.  America Inc. is technically a corporation and the states such as South Carolina are more like countries (hence the name 'states') - although you can't buy and sell shares of America Inc. you sort of can, it's called immigration - citizens of USA are sort of like shareholders.  And there's a short side too, record numbers of US Citizens are giving up their citizenship.  So, does the Fed manipulate the stock market?  It's not a fair question, because Fed ownership and operations are completely intertwined with the stock market.  During the time when the Fed was created, America was just passing the wildcat banking era, where there were thousands of private banks.  Do not confuse 'private banking' with a 'privately owned bank' - private banking is discreet services for rich people who may want to hide their assets or not let others know how rich they are.  Privately owned banks are nearly non-existant in the USA today, for a number of reasons - mostly caused by generational wealth transfer and generally a trend towards the institutionalization of assets.  What does that mean?  It means that 100 years ago, things were in YOUR name, if you were JP Morgan or Andrew Carnegie.  Today, it's all in tax havens, the Carnegie foundation, trust funds, and almost nothing is in YOUR name.  That includes banks, which are mostly publicly traded and thus, publicly owned.  The individual has become obsolete.  
So all these tendencies, make the market so complicated it's even confusing to describe.  

All this drama created by Nixon is really in the eye of the beholder - this idea of 'economic collapse' is a fantasy promulgated by religious types in armaggedon style packaging, as if the Earth will explode and burn in a big singularity event.  The reality is that 'economic collapse' is happening every day, simply that only some of us notice it.  
Forex simply guages the tides as they ebb and flow, EUR/USD rate changes, but not really that much.  Brexit gave us a 9% move which is huge for FX but not really statistically significant in the grand scheme of things.
Take a look at EUR/GBP for last 10 years:
forex
This is a monthly chart.  You can see why FX is not interesting for the general public.  But it takes a lot less time to understand FX than the stock markets.  FX is simple.
As we head into a potential complete meltdown of the Euro, and tomorrow's NFP, we're heading into an event that may change the face of FX forever.
Dear Trader,
With the upcoming second round of the French Presidential Election this weekend, we require that your account balance plus any open profit or loss covers at least 3% of the total notional exposure across all EUR crosses and EUR Equity Index CFDs by 4pm (UK time) Friday, 5th May 2017. Where the cover is lower than 3%, we may reduce your positions to increase the cover on your account before the market close.
Exit polls will be released prior to the market open on Sunday, 7th May 2017 and there is increased risk of wide spreads and large price gaps on the market open and through the night. Please ensure you are comfortable with the exposure on your open positions leading into the market close on Friday, 5th May 2017.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Client Services by calling +44 20 3192 XXXX or emailing XXXXXX.
FX and CFDs are leveraged products that can result in losses exceeding your deposit. They are not suitable for everyone so please ensure you fully understand the risks involved.
Kind regards
LMAX Exchange
Client Services Team
Posted: May 5, 2017, 11:31 am
Is Canada a 'real' country?  What is a 'real' country anyway?  Is a 'country' defined by ethnic lines, borders, corporations, or what the United Nations says?  Is Kosovo a country?  Some say yes, some do not agree:
Kosovo, self-declared independent country in the Balkans region of Europe. Although the United States and most members of the European Union (EU) recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, Serbia, Russia, and a significant number of other countries—including several EU members—did not.
Well Canada is lucky to have self-declared itself as a country during a period where many breakaway regions and colonies became countries (let's not get into the debate about USA because America Inc. is an artificial country, actually it is a corporation).  But the point here is that, as we explain in Splitting Pennies - Understanding Forex - A COUNTRY IS A CURRENCY.  Yes, this means that Germany, Italy, and others - have given up their sovereignty for the chance to participate in the Euro.  This point is one of the main reason nationalists throughout the European Union rally for its demise.   
But what about Canada?  One of the ex-colonial British states which still is part of the 'commonwealth' Canada enjoys the best of both worlds - independence but protection from two big brothers; USA and the UK.  And at least for the time being, Canada is really a real country, at least more than EU nation states are.  Canada is not part of a 'super state' although a 'super alliance' called the Commonwealth is similar, London doesn't directly control Canada's monetary supply (vis a vis the currency) so for now, Canada is really an independent country.
Take a look at recent FX activity in the 'loonie' USD/CAD pair:
usd cad
For those new to FX, the above chart shows USD vs. CAD which means that the US Dollar is UP against the Canadian dollar.  This area of 1.36 has been a top at least for 2017 and the latter part of 2016; a break here could signify a bull run where there's no further technical resistance until the Jan 2015 high of 1.47.
The loonie as the CAD is called (because of the bird, not because of lunatics in Canada) is considered a commodity currency due to oil and other resources up there.  Another reason that it's time the US just annexed Canada and made it the 51st state (much better than Puerto Rico, me thinks).  Here's a list of reasons the US should invade Canada as explained in a previous article exclusively on ZH by Global Intel Hub.
What's the FX trade here?  Simple; place limit orders above and below the several day range; whichever way USD/CAD breaks out (up or down) it will break hard, as Canada struggles to establish its own identity as a real G8 Currency.
usd cad break up

Of course, if you're in one of the 50% of publicly listed companies that doesn't hedge FX (don't see=don't exist), this is a potential risk if you do business in or with Canada (and thus have CAD exposure).  
If all this is confusing, you can always invest in futures strategies and forget it.
For a detailed play by play breakdown of how to trade such an event; checkout Fortress Capital Trading Academy, or Splitting Pennies the Book.
Posted: April 27, 2017, 3:31 pm




Visit Global Intel Hub @ www.globalintelhub.com
Posted: April 10, 2017, 1:37 am
It's never been easier to open a Forex account with only a few clicks, mobile friendly @ www.openforexaccount.com 

We're testing this new UI for conversions & response rates.  Test us with only $1 at Oanda - (you must choose USA when asked).  Site built using Instapage @ Vector Informatics.


Posted: March 15, 2017, 8:41 pm
(GLOBALINTELHUB) — 3/11/17 —
The news, even the ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative news’ has been reduced to the bottom of the Maslow pyramid, personalizing things while dismantling the small amount of journalistic integrity that existed.  The only next lower step is name calling “you are stupid-head, poopy face” or throwing food.  Liberals are angry that Trump won, Trump supporters are angry that liberals are so angry, blacks are angry because one of their own is out; women are angry because a “Man” is President, what’s next?  When will protests and holidays be labelled as big “Pity Parties” where protestors gather with psychologists and beat cotton dummies with rubber bats, all while wearing protective gear, monitored by ‘government specialists’ – I can see it now.  It’s an extension of the ‘cry rooms’ from Universities; sections of major cities can be closed for these ‘necessary events’ where angry people will get out their feelings in a controlled setting without damaging real property or getting themselves arrested.  You think it’s a big joke, do you – checkout these startups offering services to ‘break things’ for a fee:  The Smash Shack;  Anger Room – Relieve Stress & Anxiety | Anger Room™ | “Nothing You Expect, Everything You Deserve”
Where is national coverage of these businesses – these guys need to get on Shark Tank there’s a national need here.  Parts of Detroit can be used for a mass destruction in controlled ‘riots’ like they did for the Zombie apocalypse trend.
Unfortunately it seems, that’s just about all the unenlightened uneducated masses are good for, so you can’t fault the globalists too much for trying to turn them into good worker consumer zombies.
There’s a lot happening in the ‘backoffice’ of America, Inc. that we’re seeing the surface of the big iceberg such as the Vault7 revelations, and more goodies to come.  We’re still catching up to previous data dumps such as the CIA releasing electronic access to a huge amount of records previously not online. CIAs role in financial markets EXPOSED by documents release.
What impact all this will have is unclear – what is clear is that we’re on the precipice of a major paradigm shift, that from an ‘old model’ to a ‘new model’ speaking from the perspective of systems theory, which is really the best objective perspective.  Robots are simply the catalyst ushering in the paradigm shift.  The idea of ‘manufacturing jobs’ is widely misunderstood by luddites that populate the mainstream – they will have us believe that the idea of a resurgence in US manufacturing is a bad move, i.e. we’re building the wrong economy, and reverting back to a 50s style system.  But this just shows the lack of understanding on their part, the world has changed in the last 10 years, checkout this clip from leftist Bloomberg: Trump’s Plan to Bring Back Manufacturing Isn’t Crazy – Bloomberg View
 But there are plenty of other reasons to want to bring supply chains back to the U.S. High-value-added manufacturing — robot factories pumping out goods — creates jobs for Americans in other ways. As economist Enrico Moretti explains in his book “The New Geography of Jobs,” high-tech manufacturing creates higher-paying service-sector jobs in a local area. The dollars that come into a town with a robot factory get spent on doctors and waiters and personal trainers, and the money circulates throughout the community, leaving everyone better off.
from another article:
Moretti demonstrates that there really are two Americas — one that’s healthy, rich and growing, and a second that’s increasingly being left behind. The two nations-within-a-nation are divided not so much by region or race or religion, but by the kinds of industries they support. Those cities and towns that are home to innovative industries — information technology, pharmaceuticals, advanced manufacturing and the like — are wealthier, healthier and safer, while the places without these industries are steadily declining.
Checkout this chart “Vanishing Blue Collars”:
The book fails to mention the fact that there were ALWAYS two Americas, USA was founded by a group of rich white male slaveowners who said all men are created equal.  But the demographic trend away from manual labor exploitation is exemplified well, although the point here is not about booming tech centers vs. rural economic deserts – it’s about the changing world and how robots really are replacing mundane tasks.  Those without skills in I.T. or computers will be left unemployed or on the dole chronically.  This is why – ahem – Republicans – ahem – you can never ever touch the welfare state, it’s about a class of technologically redundant workers, white or black or latino all the same.  You can’t take away food stamps, medicaid, and other programs – these people are not going to be the innovators of tomorrow, and without food they’ll simply riot and cause trouble – better keep them fat and happy and watching TV popping pills.  Seriously.  And the good news – money can easily be printed and given to them at a very low cost (about .01 per $100 electronically).
Robots are better, robots don’t make mistakes, robots can go places man can’t go (like inside Volcanoes, deep under the sea, and so on).  Don’t forget about software robots, that we speak about when talking about trading.  Algorithmic trading is far superior to human trading – 10 years from now will anyone ‘trade’ their own account?  Or they will just ‘trade’ robots – buy and sell various algorithms that work well.
The point here is that what we are seeing is not a political trend at all.  The Clinton ‘pay for play’ model of politics is outdated, they are cave-men banging there clubs and grunting around a fire.  While Trump doesn’t represent technology per se, he represents business – and as traders know, the market itself has an intelligence, maybe the markets are the first form of Aritificial Intelligence.  So what’s going on is that the demographic shift is allowing a pro-business and thus pro-technology shift which will allow business and technology to thrive.  In fact, the idea of ‘politics’ is outdated too – why can’t all this be organized online – like the markets?  Because the 10% of the population that doesn’t have computers?  The good news is like the market, we’ve been proven, that intelligence finally wins; because what is unnatural cannot continue – if your car has no gas, you’ll stop driving.  Physics is really simple.
What’s happening is a massive paradigm shift into a new paradigm where the ‘old model’ is being transitioned to a ‘new model’ – this is seen in business, politics, medicine, education, construction, engineering, and basically all fields.  The CIA was a product of World War 2, as eloquently explained here on Zero Hedge by Dr. Steve Pieczenik, the CIA was a byproduct of World War 2 and was created by real spies that had a real purpose, and it served its purpose well – against a real enemy (Hitler).  (Of course, the CIA was created after the war but it was based on the spy network that fought Nazi Germany).  Dr. Pieczenik notes intelligently that the current generation of Rockefellers, and would be world dictators are not interested in world domination or one world government plans created by their parents and grandparents.  The CIA, sort of died when its founders died; and the new generation turned it into something else – instead of serving the purpose for which it was originally intended, it was used to further special interests, build the business of the military industrial complex, and most recently influence domestic political elections.  It’s just another example of this old model vs. new model paradigm shift – it’s become outdated, it should be closed.
The idea of a ‘spy agency’ needs to be re-evaluated in the context of modern society, where there are cameras everywhere and instantaneous global communications that are all recorded by NSA.  Maybe a new, modern agency will be a team of trained analysts and ‘hackers’ commissioned for good purposes, such as monitoring electronic communications for crimes, terrorism, violent acts, and other behaviors to be stopped.  In any case, whatever it looks like – one thing is clear – it will be run by robots, not humans.
Posted: March 13, 2017, 2:42 am

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Posted: March 3, 2017, 3:15 am
The world is not as we think.  We are taught one thing, but it is far from the truth.  Meanwhile, we must pay fees, taxes, and work harder for more and more money – because money is always worth less and less.  The only way out from this rabbit hole, is through knowledge and education.  Splitting Pennies is the conversation starter for this new paradigm we're moving into on this planet.


I’ve been in the Forex business for 15 years, and in that time I’ve learned about the extremes surrounding the most important market in the world.  Forex literally determines the value of every book sold in the world, every financial transaction – yet the majority know very little about it.  Splitting Pennies is an entertaining introduction to the mechanism how Forex works, history of money, and education about monetary policy from Forex perspective.  The work itself is not groundbreaking – but if it was understood by the masses, it would literally increase financial literacy, and increase the standard of living.  Whether readers are financial professionals, teachers, the average consumer, business people, politicians, or students; Splitting Pennies will change the way you think about money in a positive way. 

Sincerely,

Joe Gelet

Elite E Services


To checkout Splitting Pennies - visit www.splittingpennies.com 
Posted: February 17, 2017, 2:20 pm
Economist-mathematician Nassim Nicholas Taleb contends that there is a global riot against pseudo-experts
After predicting the 2008 economic crisis, the Brexit vote, the U.S. presidential election and other events correctly, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the Incerto series on global uncertainties, which includes The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, is seen as something of a maverick and an oracle. Equally, the economist-mathematician has been criticised for advocating a “dumbing down” of the economic system, and his reasoning for U.S. President Donald Trump and global populist movements. In an interview in Jaipur, Taleb explains why he thinks the world is seeing a “global riot against pseudo-experts”.
I’d like to start by asking about your next book, Skin in the Game, the fifth of the Incerto series. You do something unusual with your books: before you launch, you put chapters out on your website. Why is that?
Putting my work online motivates me to go deeper into a subject. I put it online and it gives some structure to my thought. The only way to judge a book is by something called the Lindy effect, and that is its survival. My books have survived. I noticed that The Black Swan did well because it was picked up early online, long before the launch. I also prefer social media to interviews in the mainstream media as many journalists don’t do their research, and ‘zeitgeist’ updates [Top Ten lists] pass for journalism.
The media is not one organisation or a monolithic entity.
Well, I’m talking about the United States where I get more credible news from the social media than the mainstream media. But I am very impressed with the Indian media that seems to present both sides of the story. In the U.S., you only get either the official, bureaucratic or the academic side of the story.
In Skin in the Game, you seem to build on theories from The Black Swan that give a sense of foreboding about the world economy. Do you see another crisis coming?
Oh, absolutely! The last crisis [2008] hasn’t ended yet because they just delayed it. [Barack] Obama is an actor. He looks good, he raises good children, he is respectable. But he didn’t fix the economic system, he put novocaine [local anaesthetic] in the system. He delayed the problem by working with the bankers whom he should have prosecuted. And now we have double the deficit, adjusted for GDP, to create six million jobs, with a massive debt and the system isn’t cured. We retained zero interest rates, and that hasn’t helped. Basically we shifted the problem from the private corporates to the government in the U.S. So, the system remains very fragile.
You say Obama put novocaine in the system. How will the Trump administration be able to address this?
Of course. The whole mandate he got was because he understood the economic problems. People don’t realise that Obama created inequalities when he distorted the system. You can only get rich if you have assets. What Trump is doing is put some kind of business sense in the system. You don’t have to be a genius to see what’s wrong. Instead of Trump being elected, if you went to the local souk [bazaar] in Aleppo and brought one of the retail shop owners, he would do the same thing Trump is doing. Like making a call to Boeing and asking why are we paying so much.
You’re seen as something of an oracle, given that you saw the 2008 economic crash coming, you predicted the Brexit vote, the outcome of the Syrian crisis. You said the Islamic State would benefit if Bashar al-Assad was pushed out and you predicted Trump’s win. How do you explain it?
Not the Islamic State, but al-Qaeda at the time, and I said the U.S. administration was helping fund them. See, you have to have courage to say things others don’t. I was lucky financially in life, that I didn’t need to work for a living and can spend all my time thinking. When Trump was running for election, I said what he says makes sense to a grocery store owner. Because the grocery guy can say Trump is wrong because he can see where he is wrong. But with Obama, he can’t understand what he’s saying, so the grocery man doesn’t know where he is wrong.
Is it a choice between dumbing down versus over-intellectualisation, then?
Exactly. Trump never ran for archbishop, so you never saw anything in his behaviour that was saintly, and that was fine. Whereas Obama behaved like the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was going to do good but people didn’t feel their lives were better. As I said, if it was a shopkeeper from Aleppo, or a grocery store owner in Mumbai, people would have liked them as much as Trump. What he says makes common sense, asking why are we paying so much for this rubbish or why do we need these complex taxes, or why do we want lobbyists. You can call Trump’s plain-speaking what you like. But the way intellectuals treat people who don’t agree with them isn’t good either. I remember I had an academic friend who supported Brexit, and he said he knew what it meant to be a leper in the U.K. It was the same with supporting Trump in the U.S.
But there were valid reasons for people to be worried about Trump too.
Well, if you’re a businessman, for example, what Trump said didn’t bother you. The intellectual class of no more than 2,00,000 people in the U.S. don’t represent everyone upset with Trump. The real problem is the ‘faux-expert problem’, one who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and assumes he knows what people think. An electrician doesn’t have that problem.
Is the election of Trump part of a global phenomena? You have commented on the similarity to the election of Narendra Modi in India.
Well, with Trump, Modi, Brexit, and now France, there are some similar problems in those countries. What you are hearing is people getting fed up with the ruling class. This is not fascism. It has nothing to do with fascism. It has to do with the faux-experts problem and a world with too many experts. If we had a different elite, we may not see the same problem.
There are other similarities, to quote from studies of populist movements worldwide: these leaders are majoritarian, they build on resentment, they use social media for direct access to their voters, and they can take radical decisions.
I often say that a mathematician thinks in numbers, a lawyer in laws, and an idiot thinks in words. These words don’t amount to anything. I think you have to draw the conclusion that there is a global riot against pseudo-experts. I saw it with Brexit, and Nigel Farage [leader of the U.K. Independence Party], who was a trader for 15 years, said the problem with the government was that none of them had ever had a proper job. Being a bureaucrat is not a proper job.
As a businessperson, you have a point about experts and pseudo-experts who you say are ‘left-wing’. How do you explain the other parts to the phenomenon that aren’t economic: the xenophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, etc.?
I don’t understand how a left-wing person can defend Salafism, or religious extremism. In a democracy, you can allow people to have any view, but they can’t come with a message to destroy democracy. Why should people who come to the West come with a message to finish the West? This is where the discourse goes haywire. So in Yemen, the [Saudi] intervention is good, but the intervention [by Russia] in Aleppo shouldn’t be allowed. I don’t think Trump was racist when he said Mexican criminals shouldn’t be allowed into the U.S.; he was targeting criminals. If you are Naziphobic, you are not against Germans. If I oppose Salafism, I am not an Islamophobe. Obama also deported Mexicans and refused to accept immigrants.
Is anti-globalisation a part of this sentiment?
I am not anti-globalisation, but I am against big global corporations. One of the reasons is what they cost. Today, every project sees cost overruns because these projects have to factor in global risks as well. In nature there is an ‘island effect’. The number of species on an island drops significantly when you go to the mainland. Similarly, when you open up your small economies, you lose some of your ethnicity or diversity. Artisans are being killed by globalisation. Think of the effect on so many artists who have been put out of work while people are buying wrinkle-free shirts and cheap mobile phones. I’m a localist. The problem is globalisation comes through large global corporates that are predatory, and so we want to counter its ill-effects.
Where do you see the world moving now? Further right, or will it revert to the centre?
I don’t think it will go left or right, and I don’t know about the short term. But I think in the long term, the world can only survive if it lives like nature does. Many smaller units of governance, and a collection of super islands with some separation, quick decision-making, and visible implementation. Lots of Switzerlands, that’s what we need. What we need is not leaders, we don’t need them. We just need someone at the top who doesn’t mess the system up.
Posted: February 7, 2017, 9:53 pm
NFA bars New York retail foreign exchange dealer Forex Capital Markets, LLC and its principals Dror Niv, William Ahdout and Ornit Niv from membership
February 6, Chicago—National Futures Association (NFA) has barred New York retail foreign exchange dealer Forex Capital Markets, LLC (FXCM) from membership. NFA also barred FXCM principals Dror NivWilliam Ahdout, and Ornit Niv from membership and from acting as a principal of an NFA Member.
The Decision, issued by NFA's Business Conduct Committee (BCC), is based on a Complaint issued by the BCC and a settlement offer submitted by FXCM, Dror Niv, Ahdout and Ornit Niv. The BCC found that FXCM, Dror Niv and Ahdout engaged in numerous deceptive and abusive execution activities that were designed to benefit FXCM, to the detriment of its customers. The BCC also found that FXCM and Dror Niv provided misleading information to NFA. Finally, as a result of a number of significant supervisory failures, the BCC found that FXCM, Dror Niv, Ahdout and Ornit Niv failed to adequately supervise the firm and its employees.
FXCM has had a long history of disciplinary actions involving, among other things, deceptive and abusive execution practices to benefit FXCM to the detriment of its customers. NFA's BCC has authorized four prior Complaints against FXCM. In 2011, FXCM was charged with engaging in asymmetrical price slippage practices and ordered to pay a $2 million monetary sanction and not engage in the types of deceptive and abusive practices detailed in NFA's 2017 Complaint. More information regarding FXCM's disciplinary record is available by using NFA's BASIC system, which is accessible through NFA's website.
The 2017 Decision will become effective on February 21, 2017, and FXCM will withdraw from NFA membership within 15 days of February 21, unless this 15 day period is extended by the BCC.
NFA thanks the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for its assistance.

Posted: February 7, 2017, 3:02 am
Pension Funds represent the retirement accounts for basically 99% of the working class.  Because they don't have many choices, unlike Ultra High Net Worth Individuals.  Global Pension Assets stand at a staggering $35 Trillion according to Willis Towers Watson:

  • At the end of 2015, total pension assets were estimated at USD 35.4 trillion, which represents a decrease of 0.5% compared to USD 35.6 trillion at the end of 2014
  • Pension assets relative to GDP reached 80% in 2015, which represents a decrease of 4% from the 2014 ratio of 84%
  • The largest pension markets are the US, UK and Japan with 62%, 9% and 8% of total pension assets in the study, respectively

USD 35.4 Trillion is a lot of assets, no matter how you look at it.  In any systemic analysis we often forget about such huge pools of capital.  Mostly, these assets are sitting in stocks and bonds, some real estate - all traditional.  They don't invest in alternatives (because of regulatory rules, mostly).  
In what may be the most stunning move in the asset management space in years, the WSJ reports that Harvard University’s endowment, which manages just shy of $36 billion, will undergo a "radical overhaul" in the way the world’s wealthiest school invests its money by outsourcing management of most of its assets and lay off roughly half the staff in the process.
According to the WSJ, about half of the 230 employees at Harvard Management Company will leave as part of a sweeping change by the university’s new endowment chief, N.P. “Narv” Narvekar. This means that the endowment will shut down its internal hedge funds and let go traders by the middle of the year. Additionally, the internal team in charge of direct real-estate investments is expected to spin out into an independent entity that Harvard is expected to invest with. Only management of Harvard’s natural resources portfolio and passively managed exchange-traded funds will remain in house.
Many fund managers and traders often scratch their heads at how something can be possible, when there is an apparent sea of consistent strategies offering moderate, if not conservative, returns (like 20% per year.)
But such funds like Harvard and Calpers are rife with politics, and staffed with people that generally don't understand markets.  Of course there are exceptions - but having a $30 Billion loss without any hedging in place - well, that's really unprofessional, to say the least.
Of course, once again, who suffers?  It's not going to be the Pension managers, or the hedge funds they 'outsourced' to manage the funds - it's the beneficiaries - working people.  Retirement plans, pension plans - can blow up.  Or in the best case, as is the case now, they can dwindle down so poorly to the point that retirees get only a fraction of what they are expecting.
There's really no solution to this problem, except for working people to stand up to their pension managers - which they do from time to time, but the Pension Funds are staffed with a political Chinese Wall of staffers with 'quick answers' to shut down their inquiries.  
With the renovations Trump is doing to the system of American Government - is the public pension system next?  Harvard's move may be a sign of things to come.  And it needs reform, losing $30 Billion like Calpers is at best, shameful.  At worst, illegal.
Posted: January 28, 2017, 8:45 pm

Summary

Blockchain to revolutionize financial services.
Overstock's competitors are very successful, now Overstock has an edge.
Company is moving fast and furious in disruptive tech.
Overstock.com appears to be one of the many overlooked tech stocks that is extremely undervalued. As we said in an article last year, based on several key business elements, we believe (NASDAQ:OSTK) is a value buy and a long term play. While day to day operations, earnings, and other variables keep this stock off the radar of most investors, there can be a day that puts Overstock.com on the map - which can happen any day. It can be a news release related to a blockchain related order, or a new contract where Overstock.com is supplying the technology to a huge vendor.
Here's one reason why we believe this company is overlooked. Even in December, when the company received exposure on equities.com, the description failed to mention blockchain or overstock.com's other tech assets:
Overstock.com Inc is an online retailer offering closeout and discount brand and non-brand name merchandise, including bed-and-bath goods, home décor, kitchenware, watches, jewelry, electronics and computers, apparel, and designer accessories.
Overstock.com Inc. is based out of Salt Lake City, UT and has some 1,900 employees. Its CEO is Patrick M. Byrne.
It is true, that Overstock.com's core business is, and has been, online retailing. But Overstock.com isn't likely to take over Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) anytime soon. But Overstock.com has diversified into so much more than online retailing. Blockchain and related technologies, are no doubt going to be the game changer technology in financial services in the coming decade.
See a recent release about Overstock.com's blockchain technology:
Overstock.com, Inc. (OSTK) has reached a new milestone in its efforts to bring Wall Street and bitcoin pioneered crypto-revolution closer. The world's first trading portal for the exchange of securities on blockchain technology is ready and has been built by Overtstock.com's majority-owned fintech subsidiary t0. Overstock.com recently announced approval of a non-transferable rights offering by its board of directors which allows its stockholders of record to purchase shares of its preferred stock, including preferred shares to be issued and traded exclusively on a registered alternative trading system using the t0 issuance and trading platform.
Like much disruptive technology, it's hard to see which company will be 'the one' that leads the herd in tech that most agree will be a dominating factor in the future of an industry. For every Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) there's a hundreds perhaps thousands of failures. But Overstock.com has a track record of success, and isn't any neophyte when it comes to the markets.
Posted: January 13, 2017, 3:20 pm
(GLOBALINTELHUB) – There’s been a lot of discussion lately on the ‘internets’ (The internet is a medium which was invented by Al Gore and named ‘internets’ by George Bush) about CIA mind control, and CIA propaganda techniques being heavily used in the campaign to deceive the public about Russian ‘hacking’ and to create false enemies like ‘terrorists’ such as the alleged mind controlled shooter (shooter admits he was ‘mind controlled’ by intelligence agency, eyewitness claims there were at least three other “sleepers,” shooters, with high-powered rifles shooting into crowd » Intellihub):
 Santiago, who was arrested in January and waiting to stand trial in March on criminal charges, recently showed up to an F.B.I. office in Anchorage unannounced seeking help.
Santiago told the F.B.I. he thought he was being mind controlled, possibly by the U.S. government or the C.I.A. and admitted hearing voices, which Santiago said told him to study “extremist materials on the Internet,” the New York Times reports.
This is no surprise as those following this topic for years know that this is a common method used by the CIA originally developed during the 60’s most notably but not exclusively through a program known as MK Ultra.  You can read more about this in this book: Virtual Government: CIA Mind Control Operations in America.
The fact is that the CIA, as a branch of America, Inc. is simply the arm of a business.  It’s a subversive division of a huge corporate enterprise called America, Inc. which has turned everything into a business, even politics.  Health care is a ‘business’ now and even there is something called the ‘restaurant industry’ – where people used to cook now even that has been outsourced to corporate America Inc.  The CIA and it’s games are no different – they are simply a well funded group that protects American business interests at home and abroad (with a flat world, who is to say there are not reasons the CIA needs to operate domestically, for example terrorist cells in Florida, foreign owned corporations which is nearly 50% of all US corporations… )
We explain the connection between the CIA and the markets in our book Splitting Pennies.  The CIA works for the banks.  Banking, is simply the most profitable business in America.  There are nearly 10,000 banks in USA.  In previous times, the CIA worked for other corporations such as The United Fruit company, ending in a coup in Guatemala in 1954.  It’s not a conspiracy, it’s not a secret, it’s just business.  The connection between the CIA and America Inc. is fairly simple, it’s explicit, obvious, and useful for American business.  Now, the modus operandi is the information war – the war for your mind – which is largely fought on the battlefield of the internet.  So the CIA backed Facebook, Google, and other data-collecting internet ventures through their VC arm (ironically, the only non-profit VC fund in Silicon Valley) In-q-tel.  Of course, early stage investment comes with one condition – management has to sign an NDA that protects ‘classified’ investors CIA, NSA, etc.  And their other condition – to provide them with ‘data’ as they request it.
Those in financial services know quite well how quickly the FBI can shut down your offices, and most financial professionals are given training about Patriot Act compliance and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) training always includes the humorous ‘terrorist identification training’ – bankers are supposed to ask their clients if they are terrorists, and report any suspicious activity to FinCen.  The reality of these programs is they do not stop any terrorist financing they only stop Americans with dogs with strange names like “Dash” and serve as a potential threat to ‘fake news sites’ (anyone can be reported as a terrorist, without any evidence – and because of new rules you are guilty until proven innocent).  Fortunately this power isn’t being used YET but it exists, and it’s there.  They’re still using the planting child porn trick which seems to work well because how can you prove that you didn’t plant it, everyone who actually is a pedophile hides the fact that he is.
The CIA was a business from day one, but it has rapidly evolved and changed with the times.  It’s first several significant clients were Oil Sheik states, leading to the extremely economically positive Nixon US Dollar / Petro Dollar deal currently supporting the US Dollar today; opening up the seizure of huge assets in Latin and Central America for US and UK corporations; and in the last 20 years the creation of a new generation of vassal states like Ukraine, Libya, Iraq, and the final attempt at Syria which is a huge failure.  Now, the CIA has simply shifted to adapt to the new world, their focus is now the information war, mostly on behalf of their banking clients, but also the information war can be used to create “Arab Spring” or even to fake a hacked election as we’re seeing now with this Wag the Dog style campaign.  A major difference in the CIA’s project “Russian Hacked the Elections” and other campaigns is this is one of the first large domestic, politicized campaigns.  Few Americans would critisize the agency for working hard for the taxpayer getting that Oil we are so thirsty for, or for helping US companies plunder foreign assets.  We have big appetites and as a net importer we need the spice to flow.
But here they may have crossed the line, getting themselves involved in domestic politics is an obvious conflict of interest and interesting abuse of power (as the Democrats still hold the keys to the kingdom for another few days).  Trump says he’s going to revamp the intelligence aparatus – we’ll see what happens when he’s in the Oval Office.
If you’re an ECP / QEP or from another country checkout these great investment strategies from Fortress Capital CTA & RIA.  Due to the wacky Dodd-Frank regulations half of Wall St. can only offer their services to non-US citizens, and billionaires.  
Posted: January 7, 2017, 6:45 pm
Posted: January 7, 2017, 12:06 am
2016 was a bad year for hedge funds, pension funds, and university endowments.  In fact, the last several years have been horrible.  But until now, there haven’t been many alternatives.  Hedge Funds became popular for investors who wanted to achieve more than the 4% or 6% offered by traditional managed investments like mutual funds.  Although their history evolved from the idea of ‘hedging’ the market (hedge funds could sell AND buy, can you imagine?) this quickly evolved into an asset class where managers employed strategies based on mathematics in order to achieve above than average and above than expected returns.  And some private funds such as Renaissance do very well year in and year out – continued to this day.  But the majority suffer from strategy fatigue, and failure to bring in a new generation of ‘quants’ that can do anything more than copy, paste, and cold call.  If we skip all the Soros bashing about how he manipulates politics (which, on the surface, is not a bad investing strategy if you have the money to do it, and to control both sides – this is a Rothschild invention not a Soros invention) – the Soros family of funds outperformed their peers by a significant multiple.  These funds were trading the markets, unlike what some may want us to believe.  Some of their policies to ‘influence’ foreign markets (historically, from the 80s) may have been seen as unethical – and it may be.  But the returns have always been spectacular.  We’ll see soon if Robert can continue the family legacy of great returns – it looks like – yes he can!  
But the few examples of extraordinary funds with consistent returns like Renaissance, they’re an anomaly.  The industry in general has suffered from poor returns, which when combined with the standard 2/20 fee model – can be disastrous for investors’ confidence.  Bloomberg ran a story recently with verbage such as "The year Big Money ditched Hedge Funds:
“There has been a massive blowback from public pension funds and private endowments,’’ said Craig Effron, who co-founded his Scoggin Capital Management nearly 30 years ago. An investor told him recently that many chief investment officers are so fed up that they would prefer to entrust their cash to a trader who charged no management fee, over one who did, even if they expected the latter to make them more money.
Public retirement plans from Kentucky to New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island have decided to pull money from hedge funds. So did a state university in Maryland and other endowments. MetLife Inc. and other insurers followed suit. Money-losing firms were forced to reduce their fees. Client withdrawals ($53 billion in the last four quarters) drove some managers out of business, including veteran Richard Perry, who until recently had managed one of the longest-standing and better-performing firms.
It's not surprising that investors - especially institutional investors, are abandoning such strategies.  As they say in trading, 'you're only as good as your last trade.'  According to Barclay Hedge Fund Data, 2016 is a little better than 2015, but not much:
4.89% is a good return, but it's not much better than you can acheive with traditional mutual funds or tax free munis.  Certainly it's not a compelling reason to drain your IRA from the markets and invest with hedge funds.  But, this is just an average, there are strategies out there that overperform this index, such as this one.
The California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) is about to report the world’s largest public employee pension suffered an actuarial investment loss of $30.8 billion last year.
CalPERS manages the defined pension plan investments and record keeping for 3,007 California state and local government entities. The pension plan is also responsible for paying the pension benefits to 611,078 retirees and will eventually be responsible for paying retirement benefits to another 868,713 active and 335,908 inactive government workers.
Despite Governor Jerry Brown last summer demanding CalPERS immediately “lower its investment risk and volatility of returns” by reducing its “assumed” annual investment return from 7.5 percent to 6.5 percent, the CalPERS board voted 7- 3 on November 15, 2015 only to slowly reduce the investment return expectation over the next decade.
Practically, the slow death of the hedge fund industry is merely a milestone in its evolution.  Just like robotic strategies are now replacing traditional managers with a suit and tie, the structure of investments is evolving, too.  Hedge Funds aren't going to go away anytime soon, but how they are structured, how the fees are charged, and the strategies that they use, will rapidly change in 2017.  For example, some strategies such as managed accounts have a fee structure that charges only a percentage of profit, called 'performance fee' - with no other fees.  See one example the Magic FX strategy, for QEP/ECP US investors only - which charges a 30% performance fee from the profit.  In this model, if the strategy doesn't perform for investors, there is no fee.  This type of pay for performance model has been around for years, but will become more useful in a climate of diminishing returns and investors angry at paying fees for getting no results or even losing money.  It really is crazy, why investors should pay managers millions of dollars for losing money - it just shows how programmed investors are by traditional media, as we explain in Splitting Pennies the book.
While clients have only pulled a net 2 percent of assets so far, Tony James, the president at Blackstone Group, the largest investor in hedge funds, predicted in May that the industry would shrink by roughly a quarter over the next year. Hedge fund closures (782 in the first nine months) are on track to be the most since 2008, and startups (576) the fewest.
Any manager still standing applauds a smaller industry. Less money under management means fewer crowded trades and more chances to find the elusive alpha. Interest rates on the rise in the U.S., while still near zero or negative in the rest of the world, should also help. The Trump presidency, which promises less regulation, more infrastructure spending and the potential return of prop trading by banks, could also be a boon.
Where will the assets go?  The alternative investment industry is large - institutional funds, pension funds, hedge funds, are but a small part.  According to Barclay Hedge, there are 342 Billion in Managed Futures:
And, although the change from Q2 to Q3 of 2016 is a small percentage of @ $9 Billion, it is a positive figure, and shows that managed futures is one place funds are flowing into.  CTAs, CPOs, and other types of managed investments that have a track record should all benefit from the poor performance of traditional managers, especially those which don't charge a management fee.  But in any scenario, investors only started to loathe the management fees when performance suffered.  When performance is good - who doesn't mind paying for it?
And finally - it may shed light on the still standing FX manager industry.  While these hedge funds have suffered volatile returns, losses, and fee congestion - some FX managers have continued to perform year in and year out with the use of complex algorithms, that work in FX but not in other markets.  Now may be the time for institutional investors to take another look at such algorithmic FX strategies.
Here's a list of books to add to your bookshelf to enlighten yourself.
Posted: January 2, 2017, 12:03 am