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Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

When I was a student at the University of Colorado, I regularly walked by the Dalton Trumbo memorial fountain which was named after the communist Stalin-sympathizing novelist and screenwriter. 

Once upon a time, the fountain had been simply known as "the fountain," but around 25 years ago, it was unnecessarily renamed after a controversial person. 

The reason for the renaming was the same as with any memorial or monument designed to honor a person or idea — to create an emotional connection and familiarity with the person or idea connected to the place; to communicate a certain view of history. 

The renaming of the fountain followed an earlier renaming controversy. One of the University's dorms, Nichols Hall, was named after a participant in the infamous Sand Creek Massacre. Even in its own time, the massacre had been denounced, earning condemnation from Indian fighters like Kit Carson. Not surprisingly, the dorm that bore Nichols's name was eventually renamed "Cheyenne Arapahoe" in honor of the Indian tribes whose members Nichols had helped attack.

As with the Trumbo fountain, the dorm's name was changed in order to send subtle messages — messages about what is valued, what is good, and what is bad. 

There's nothing inherently wrong with this, of course. The problem only arises when we begin to use taxpayer funded facilities and institutions to carry out these attempts at education. 

Thus, in a sense, when approaching the problem of government monuments and memorials, we  encounter the same problem we have with public schools. Whose values are going to be pushed, preserved, and exalted? And, who's going to be forced to pay for it? 

Ideology Changes Over Time 

This problem is further complicated by the fact that these views change over time.

Over time, the "good guys" can change as majority views shift, as new groups take over the machinery of government institutions, and as ideologies change. 

In 1961, when Nichols Hall was named, few people apparently cared much about the Sand Creek Massacre. 25 years later, however, views had changed considerably among both students and administrators. 

For a very obvious illustration of how these changes takes place, we need look no further than the schools. 

In the early days of public schooling — an institution founded by Christian nationalists to push their message — students were forced to read the King James Bible. Catholics were forced to pay taxes so schools could instruct students on how awful and dangerous Catholicism was. Immigrant families from Southern and Eastern Europe were forced to pay for schools that instructed their children on the inferiority of their non-Anglo ethnic groups.

A century later, things have changed considerably. Today, Anglo-Saxons are taught to hate themselves, and while Catholics are still despised (but for different reasons), they now are joined in their pariah status by most other Christian groups as well. Italians and Eastern Europeans who were once treated in public schools as subhuman are now reviled as members of the white oppressor class

Similar changes have taken place in art and in public monuments and memorials. 

Public Memorials Serve the Same Function as Public Schools 

But the principle remains the same, whether we're talking about public schools or public monuments: we're using public funds and facilities to "educate" the public about what's good and what's not. 

This has long been known by both the people who first erected today's aging monuments, and by the people who now want to tear them down. The leftist who support scrapping certain monuments actively seek to change public monuments and memorials to back up their own worldview because they recognize that it can make a difference in the public imagination. They're fine with forcing the taxpayers to support their own worldview, of course, and actively seek to use public lands, public spaces, public roads, and public buildings to subsidize their efforts. They already succeeded in doing this with public schools decades ago. 

The Answer: Privatize the Monuments

In a way, the combined effect of public memorials, monuments, streets, and buildings function to turn public spaces into a type of large open-air social studies class, reinforcing some views, while ignoring others. 

Libertarians have long noted the problem of public education: it's impossible to teach history in a value-neutral way, and thus public schools are likely to teach values that support the state and its agendas. Even some conservatives have finally caught on. 

To combat this problem, those who object to these elements within public schooling support homeschooling, private schooling, and private-sector alternatives that diminish the role of public institutions. 

Governmental public spaces offer the same problem as public schools. 

In both cases the answer is the same: minimize the role of government institutions in shaping public ideology, public attitudes, and the public's view of history. 

Rather than using publicly funded thoroughfares, parks, and buildings as a means of reinforcing public "education" and "shared history" as we do now, these government facilities should be stripped down to their most basic functions. Providing office space for administrative offices, providing streets for transport, and providing parks for recreation. (The last thing we need is a history lesson from the semi-illiterates on a typical city council.)

Some might argue that all these properties and facilities should be privatized themselves. That's fair enough, but as long as we're forced to live with these facilities, we need not also use them to "honor" politicians or whatever persons the current ruling class happens to find worthy of praise. 

The nostalgia lobby will react with horror to this proposition. "Why, you can't do that!" they'll complain. "We'll be robbed of our heritage and history." Even assuming these people could precisely define exactly who "we" is they still need to explain why public property is necessary to preserve this alleged heritage. 

After all, by this way of thinking, the preservation of one's culture and heritage relies on a subsidy from the taxpayers, and a nod of assent from government agencies. 

Preserving and Promoting Culture Through Private Action 

Once upon a time, however, people who actually valued their heritage did not sit around begging the government to protect it for them. Many were willing to actually take action and spend their own money on preserving the heritage that many now rather unconvincingly claim is so important to them.

A good example of the key role of private property in cases such as this can be seen in the work of the Catholic Church in the US — which has never enjoyed majority support from the population or from government institutions. If Catholics were to get their symbols and memorials in front of the public, they were going to have to build them on private property, and that's exactly what they did.

In Denver, for example, the Catholics of the early 20th century knew (correctly) that no public park or government building was going to erect any Catholic-themed art or memorials on their property. So, the Catholics proceeded to erect an enormous cathedral on a hilltop one block from the state capitol. The new cathedral was highly visible and provided easy access to religious ceremonies for the few Catholic politicians and officials who worked at the capitol. It provided meeting space. It contained stained-glass art created by German masters. Moreover, the new building served as a huge symbolic middle finger to the anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan which was growing in importance in Denver at the time.

So, did Church officials sit around whining about how there was no crucifix on the front lawn of the State Capitol? Did they demand that the taxpayers pay to maintain a central town plaza featuring a statue of Saint Peter? Some probably did. Those who made a difference, though, took action and acquired real estate in prominent places throughout the city. They put universities on that land, and cemeteries, and convents, and friaries, and schools, and even some memorials and statues. Today, next to the cathedral, on a busy street corner, is a large statue of a Catholic pope: John Paul II. It's on private property. It's seen by thousands every day. 

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Source. 

And why should the self-appointed protectors of American "traditional" values think they deserve anything different? Indeed, we'd all have been saved a lot of trouble if the organizations that demanded statues of Confederate generals everywhere had put them on private land instead of in public parks. We'd all be better off if the private owners of the Stone Mountain monument hadn't sold it to the State of Georgia because they were too cheap to maintain it themselves. 

In the past, had the purveyors of publicly-funded culture instead taken a principled and successful stand against using public lands and funds to push a certain view of history, no one would have to now waste his time sitting through city council meetings where politicians decide who deserves a statue, and who is to be thrown in the dustbin of history. Were we to quit using public parks as showcases for public indoctrination, we wouldn't have to worry about the Church of Satan erecting a monument in the "free speech area" of a public park — as they recently did near Minneapolis. 

The next time someone wants a statue of some politician, artist, or intellectual — whether they be communists, Confederates, or satanists — they ought to be told to buy a nice little plot of land somewhere — perhaps along a busy street or next to an important street corner in town — and put their statue there. 

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: August 18, 2017, 3:05 am

Federal Reserve officials are finally waking up to the fact that there’s something wrong with their inflation models. It only took them five years.

As Bloomberg points out, the minutes from the Fed’s July policy meeting, released yesterday, included a debate about whether the models that help the central bank set its inflation target are no longer functioning properly.

“Federal Reserve officials are looking under the hood of their most basic inflation models and starting to ask if something is wrong.

 

Minutes from the July 25-26 Federal Open Market Committee meeting showed a revealing debate over why the economy isn’t producing more inflation in a time of easy financial conditions, tight labor markets and solid economic growth.

 

The central bank has missed its 2 percent price goal for most of the past five years. Still, a majority of FOMC participants favor further rate increases. The July minutes showed an intensifying debate over whether that is the right policy response.”

Some economists worry that if the Fed begins to publicly question their methods, it could ruin what little credibility the central bank has left.

“These minutes to me were troubling,” said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies LLC in New York. “They don’t have their confidence in their policy decisions; and they don’t have confidence that they can provide the right kind of guidance.”

Of course, Fed officials did everything in their power to communicate that these questions were being raised by a small minority on the FOMC, and didn’t represent anything resembling an official opinion.

“In several passages, the minutes asserted that “most” officials were sticking with a forecast that higher inflation would eventually show up. However, the debate over resource slack models and whether standard data sources were telling them the whole story also showed convictions about their forecast are fraying.”

As Bloomberg explains, prices have been resistant to any upward movement even as the US unemployment rate has fell to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent in July. The U.S. consumer price index rose 1.7 percent for the 12 months ending July, while the PCE price index, the Fed’s preferred measure, which is tied to consumption, rose 1.4 percent in June. Another gauge calculated by the Dallas Fed, which trims index outliers to highlight the underlying price trend, rose 1.7 percent for the 12 months ending June. That was the same as May, which was down from 1.74 percent in April.

A few officials pointed out what many investors have believed for years: That the Fed's inflation forecasting model is totally useless.

“The minutes said “a few” officials described resource slack models as “not particularly useful” while “most” thought the framework was valid.

 

Members also questioned whether there’s another theory that might better explain the inertia in prices.

 

The committee also pondered a number of theories as to why inflation wasn’t responding to tightening labor resources, such as “the possibility that slack may be better measured by labor market indicators other than unemployment.”

One notable economist described it as “a battle between data and theory.”

“It is a battle between data and theory,” said Ethan Harris, head of global economic research at Bank of America Corp. in New York.

But it almost doesn’t matter that the Fed’s vaunted inflation models no longer make any sense, because, the Fed is going to keep hiking no matter what now that the risks have struck the “appropriate balance” – at least that’s what one member of the leadership (probably Chairwoman Yellen) believes.   

“The minutes also included an unusual signal that someone - possibly a member of the committee’s leadership - saw additional rate increases as striking the “appropriate balance” on policy goals, dedicating two sentences to the views of “one participant.”

 

“That seems like an awful lot of air time as well as a very definitive answer coming from a mere ‘one participant’ - unless that single person happened to be someone really important - like, I don’t know, maybe the Chair?,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities in New York, wrote in a note to clients, referring to Janet Yellen.”

Maybe in whatever model they concoct to replace this one, the Fed should include a metric probably more relevant today than economists realize: The amount of time Americans’ spend on Instagram per day.
 

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: August 18, 2017, 2:40 am

We may have hit peak media crazy here. A prominent online news publication says, “Let's blow up Mt. Rushmore.” No, this is not al-Qaeda's "Inspire" magazine or the Islamic State's "Dabiq" propaganda publication - it's Brooklyn based Vice News.

On the same day a barbaric terror attack takes place in Barcelona, resulting in 13 deaths and 100 people injured, the popular liberal news org known for its edgy investigative approach and stylistic "cooler than thou" appeal to millennials tweeted out an article which advocates for blowing up Mount Rushmore. 

Vice initially titled the article, authored by Vice Senior Editor Wilbert L. Cooper, as follows:

After fierce online push back on a day there was a literal terror attack unfolding across the Atlantic, Vice hastily deleted the tweet and changed the article title to the toned down, Let's Get Rid of Mt. Rushmore - this time with an editor's note at the bottom of the page attempting to explain the change: 

Editor's note: The headline and URL of this story have been updated. We do not condone violence in any shape or form, and the use of "blow up" in the original headline as a rhetorical device was misguided and insensitive. We apologize for the error.

Rhetorical device? The content of the article still supports destroying America's most celebrated and iconic historic monument dedicated to American presidents. The author literally states he is "onboard" should there ever be "a serious push to blow up Rushmore":

With the president of the United States basically justifying neo-Nazism, it seems unthinkable that we will ever see a day when there is a serious push to blow up Rushmore and other monuments like it. But if that moment ever arrives, I suspect I'd be onboard.

Cooper further (not so) eloquently calls for leveling the whole place, and presumably all monuments devoted to past US "cults of personality" (as he calls them):

Demystifying the historical figures of the past, pulling them off the great mountain top back down to Earth where they shat, farted, spit, pissed, fucked, raped, murdered, died, and rotted seems like important business for this country. As long as we allow those men to be cults of personality who exist beyond reproach, we're never going to be able to see them for all of their good and all of their evil. 

Disturbingly, the call for leveling such monuments is contained in the conclusion of an article with repeat references equating President Trump with neo-Nazis:

Trump and his white supremacist cohorts believe the reverence some Americans have for these statues is simply respect for history, and that tearing them down is tantamount to ripping pages out of a textbook.

Timestamps. I should probably just take the rest of the day off. pic.twitter.com/jPJwauFf8z

— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) August 17, 2017

Ironically, the article does acknowledge the truthfulness of Trump's recent words that we are headed towards a dangerously iconoclastic slippery slope set to end in the demolishing of American history. But the Vice article at the outset essentially says... yes! Let's do just that:

Donald Trump says removing confederate statues is a slippery slope that could get out of control. Maybe he's right—would that be such a bad thing?

And if a private citizen said "let's blow up Mount Rushmore" and published an article which seriously explored destroying the site - an article which was clearly "pro" dynamiting the monument? It doesn't take much imagination to know who would come knocking if this were anything but a $5.7 billion news organization.

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: August 18, 2017, 2:23 am

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

It doesn’t take courage to denounce Nazism. Moreover, it appears many of the people incessantly proclaiming how anti-Nazi they are, happen to be the same folks who have the most to answer for when it comes to all sorts of transgressions against the world over the past couple of decades.

That said, I’ll give my my quick two cents on the Nazi, white supremacist hysteria currently being amplified by the corporate media.

The general proclivity to obsess about how one’s group, whether it be a nation, political tribe, or race/religion is superior to all others represents such a immature and unconscious way of seeing the world, it’s really is hard for me to believe so many people still see reality through such a lens. This type of thinking tends to attract very insecure people. People who cannot look at themselves individually and be proud of the person they see. As such, they scurry around looking for a group with an established superiority myth which they can then latch themselves onto in order to feel better about themselves.

The good news when it comes to Nazism/white supremacy, at least here in the U.S., is that most people appear to be at least conscious enough not to fall for the most basic and primal type of tribalism — i.e., finding a race-based superiority cult attractive. In contrast, the more nuanced superiority cults, such as those based on mindless nationalism or political identity, are far more entrenched here at home, and present a much greater danger to our future.

Before some of you lose it, I wrote “mindless” nationalism for a reason. I think it’s completely normal and healthy for everyone to love and appreciate their own national/regional culture, this is not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about the hordes of mindless automatons who simply fly the American flag and constantly profess their super-sized patriotism, while being completely unaware of the multitude of evil and anti-American actions being done both at home and abroad in their names. It doesn’t seem to matter to these type that their government is acting in total opposition to the Constitution they ostensibly claim to uphold. These people might be less shallow than an self-professed Nazi, but they are far more dangerous to decent, ethical Americans at home, and billions of innocent people abroad. Political party tribalists represent a similar threat, as I’ve discussed on many occasions.

To summarize, Nazism has become almost as discredited as slavery within the minds of most humans. Meaning, it’s such a patently grotesque, childish and unconscious ideology, it can and will only attract very small pockets of people. In fact, given the rampant corruption, wealth inequality and societal decay we’re experiencing in these United States, I’m somewhat encouraged that the movement is as small and insignificant as it is. Of course, I could be wrong about all of this (we’ll have to see how things unfold if the empire collapses chaotically), but that’s how I see it at the moment. Should that ever change, of course I will fight Nazism, or anything similar with all my energy. In contrast, I think other forms of mindless tribalism, political and nationalistic, are far more likely to cause major disasters in the years ahead.

If I’m right about what I wrote above, why is the corporate media acting so hysterically in response to this small collection of hateful misfits? Let me share a few tweets I wrote yesterday to start the conversations.

 

Two things corporate media consistently does.
1) Scare people
2) Convince them to give up liberties to fight the enemy du jour.

— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) August 16, 2017

You can probably tell where I’m going with this. Namely, a lot of really terrible people are trying to reinvent themselves by hyping up the Nazi threat. I’ve discussed this dangerous phenomenon in recent posts, but it’s important enough to keep hammering home. The examples are pretty much everywhere you look. Here’s a particularly shameless example I came across earlier today:

 

Sarah’s not exaggerating. Here’s the exact quote Madeline Albright made on 60 Minutes:

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

 

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.

 

60 Minutes (5/12/96)

Lesson number one. Don’t let terrible people get away with moral preening about some relatively insignificant Nazi threat when these are the very same people who have run this country and much of the world into the toilet bowl.

Lesson number two. Don’t allow authoritarians to manipulate your emotions about white supremacy (or any other threat for that matter) as an excuse to take away cherished civil liberties. These types have been selling us on giving away our rights since 9/11, and they continue to use any threat they can to take away those that remain. Free speech is the holy grail for tyrants, and anyone who suggests we give up speech to protect ourselves presents a threat to us all. I came across two examples of this today in the normal course of my reading.

First, an attorney who works for UCLA named K-Sue Park, wrote an op-ed published in The New York Times titled, The A.C.L.U. Needs to Rethink Free Speech. It’s one of the most incoherent, authoritarian pieces I’ve read in a while and, although a painful read, you should definitely check it out. It doesn’t take much logic to recognize that her call for the government to decide which speech is acceptable and which is not, is actually far more dangerous to society than a few hundred Nazis getting together in Virginia, irrespective of the terrible loss of life.

Another example of this authoritarian impulse was penned by Leonid Bershidsky in his Bloomberg article, Facebook and Twitter Are Too Big to Allow Fake Users. To be fair, this article was written before the Charlottesville attack, so I would not characterize him as using the attack to push this narrative, but it’s a wildly dangerous view nonetheless. He writes:

Social networks should be obliged to ban anonymous accounts. If they refuse to do so voluntarily, government regulators should force the issue.

This is a completely unhinged response to the problems of “trolling, fake news and cyberbullying,” which he identifies. It’s the equivalent of taking a nuclear bomb to a knife fight. As someone who spends a great deal of time on Twitter, I can tell you that some of the most insightful and humorous accounts I follow are anonymous. This makes total sense because most people have jobs, and people with jobs can be easily fired or ostracized. Not because they’re writing pro-Nazi tweets, but because everything is essentially political these days, and if your boss happens to be a member of a different political tribe, it could affect your career. Did we already forget what happened to James Damore?

If social media companies suddenly banned anonymous accounts, the entire internet and discourse on it would instantly become 90% less interesting, creative and dynamic. Much of the promise of the web would be crippled by such a policy, and humanity would be far worse off for it.

Such a policy would crush political speech online, and limit it largely to those who create political content professionally. I could see why people in power would want to do this, but I can’t grasp how anyone else could be so naive to support such a agenda.

As Patrick Chovanec (who lived and worked in China), so insightfully tweeted:

I think internet anonymity has big downsides. But forcing "real name registration" is something China's government does to suppress dissent. https://t.co/AEr3H7C4To

— Patrick Chovanec (@prchovanec) August 17, 2017

Ultimately, we need to recognize that fear is our biggest enemy. The corporate media tries to keep us in a constant state of fear, because it’s in a state of fear where we are most vulnerable and hence easily manipulated. Don’t succumb to fear. Stand strong, be courageous and don’t every give up liberties because some pundit tells you it’s what you need to do to fight whatever enemy they happen to be hyping at the moment.

Finally, let’s finish with a classic clip from the late Bill Hicks, who I consider to be an American prophet. He said it much better than I ever could.

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: August 18, 2017, 2:15 am

Low wages, mounting student debt and rising rents in the trendy urban centers where millennials prefer to live leave young people with little to spend on luxuries like an iPhone, or tickets to Fyre Festival pt. II. So, since millennials can’t seem to buy anything outright, payment companies are partnering with businesses to offer financing options for goods that, in the past, would’ve gone straight on the credit card, according to MarketWatch.

With interest rates ranging from 0% to 30%, compared with the average rate of 17% on credit cards, millennials are increasingly financing purchases from airplane tickets to luxury bedsheets with loans from payment companies like PayPal and Affirm. Indeed, millennials' seeming inability to pay for anything outright has caused revolving debt in the US to balloon past $1 trillion.

Millennials want luxury sheets, Peloton exercise bikes and music festival tickets, but they don’t always have enough cash or a desire to put them on a credit card. So they are turning to an even more expensive method of payment: financing. In recent years, payment companies including PayPal, Affirm and Bread have created installment plans for retailers that give consumers the option to finance the weirdest purchases over time.”

PayPal works with retailers to offer financing to consumers, who typically use it to pay for a range of goods, from guitars to luxury handbags. If borrowers don’t pay down their balance within an agreed-upon timeframe, they could see interest rates on the purchase rise as high as 20% APR.

“PayPal offers two types of credit, both as part of a program called PayPal Credit. One option is to wait six months without paying anything, and no interest on purchases over $99 from select retailers. The other option is an installment payment plan called Easy Payments: Consumers pay interest at an APR of 19.99% if they don’t first pay off their balance within the term they select.

 

Before shoppers are approved for either product, PayPal does a hard credit inquiry, which can result in a few points docked from consumers’ scores, temporarily. But once approved, PayPal doesn’t need to do a second one for future products. Consumers finance luxury handbags, guitars from Dave’s Guitars, pots and pans from Sur La Table and blenders from Vitamix, said Dana Warren, PayPal’s senior director of merchant distribution for PayPal Credit.”

Holly Hacker, Vitamix’s director of direct sales and customer experience, told MarketWatch that if you can’t afford one of their blenders, don’t buy one. But would young single people buy a nearly $500 blender if they couldn't finance it?

“Vitamix blenders start at $450, an easier purchase for higher-income households, but “out of range” for some who are younger, said Holly Hacker, Vitamix’s director of direct sales and customer experience.

 

Shoppers have also financed items including Cartier bracelets, worth $5,000 to $6,000 and Chanel wallets, worth about $1,700 to $1,900 from Linda’s Stuff, a luxury consignment website run by Linda Lightman, the company’s founder and CEO.”

Of course, personal-finance experts say consumers should avoid financing “discretionary” purchases like the examples mentioned above.

“However, personal-finance experts typically warn against making purchases, even on a financing plan, that consumers can’t afford. “You want to avoid financing these types of discretionary purchases,” said Nick Clements, the co-founder of personal-finance company MagnifyMoney, who previously worked in the credit-card industry. “If you’re looking for a way to finance discretionary purchases, look at your budget and ask yourself the hard question: Why.’”

Affirm, another financing company, says the most common type of purchase they help finance is travel, followed by home wares and apparel. That fits with millennials' penchant for valuing experiences like travel over physical goods. And what happens when a consumer doesn’t pay? Affirm takes a writeoff and sells the debt to a collections agency, then disqualifies the borrower from their service. With millennials showing.

Most millennials came of age during a period when interest rates were at rock bottom. But now that interest rates are slowly moving higher, will young people stop relying on debt to fund everyday purchases? Or will they slowly see their balances creep higher as they find it increasingly difficult to pay down what they owe, causing aggregate debt levels to soar?
 

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: August 18, 2017, 1:50 am

Update: The police force for Spain’s Catalonia region says its troopers shot and killed four suspects and wounded a fifth in a resort town south of Barcelona to “respond to a terrorist attack.” The regional police said in a tweet that they are investigating whether the Cambrils suspects were wearing explosive vests. Its officers planned to carry out several controlled explosions. The force says it is working on the theory that the Cambrils suspects were linked to the Barcelona attack, as well as to a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed.

Subsequently, the police said the fifth suspect shot in the resort town of Cambrils has died and six civilians have been injured. Police earlier Friday morning had said four suspects had been killed in the town south of Barcelona during a police operation to “respond to a terrorist attack.”

* * *

Spanish police have shot and killed four people while carrying out an operation in response to what was reportedly another terrorist attack in a town south of Barcelon .

The regional police for the Catalonia region said on Twitter early on Friday that officers are in Cambrils, a seaside resort town about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Barcelona, where they are dealing with a "possible terror attack."

L'operatiu policial a #Cambrils provoca retencions a vies properes a a #Tarragona #AP7
DEMANEM PACIÈNCIA DAVANT SITUACIÓ EXCEPCIONAL

— EmergènciesCatalunya (@emergenciescat) August 18, 2017

Videos capturing the shooting and the immediate aftermath were distributed on twitter:

#Cambrils terroristas abatidos. pic.twitter.com/K1kYwVtdn7

— alejandro ruiz (@alexruiz300) August 18, 2017

#Cambrils ni tranquilo puedes estar.. pic.twitter.com/KV9Ckhim3M

— Nick LG (@NickLG13) August 18, 2017

The military operation was announced around midnight local time, when the Catalonia emergency service tweeted: "IF YOU'RE NOW IN £Cambrils avoid going out. Stay home, stay safe. Police operation ongoing."

The service urged people in the town not to go out on the streets.

IF YOU'RE NOW IN #Cambrils avoid going out. Stay home, stay safe. Police operation ongoing

— EmergènciesCatalunya (@emergenciescat) August 17, 2017

As AP reports citing Spain's RTVE, regional police troopers killed four people and injured another seven. The broadcaster added that the police suspected they were planning an attack in Cambrils just hours after a van swerved onto a pedestrian promenade in Barcelona, killing 13.

It also adds that according to police sources, "the terrorists carried explosives attached to the body." The broadcaster said the suspects tried to carry out a similar attack to the one in Barcelona.

Which begs the question: has Spain become the focal point of another suicide bombing terrorist cell?

Developing.

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: August 18, 2017, 1:40 am

A Missouri state senator, Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City), has landed herself in a bit of hot water with with the U.S. Secret Service today after posting, then deleting, a comment on Facebook which read, "I hope Trump is assassinated!" 

Unfortunately, as Chappelle-Nadal should have learned at this point in her life, the internet never forgets and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch managed to get their hands on the post:

 

Asked about the comment, Chappelle-Nadal later told the Post-Dispatch that she was just "frustrated" and didn't really mean it.

"I didn't mean what I put up. Absolutely not. I was very frustrated.  Things have got to change."

That said, and again a lesson Chappelle-Nadal probably should have learned at this point in her life, the Secret Service tends to take threats on the life of the President seriously and has already confirmed they're investigating the situation.

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating a Facebook post from Missouri state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, in which she stated: "I hope Trump is assassinated!"

 

The U.S. Secret Service's St. Louis field office "is looking into this," the office confirmed.

 

Kristina Schmidt, special agent in charge, told the Post-Dispatch that "hypothetically" in such investigations, agents try to "determine intent, to determine if there was a violation of federal law. If there is, then we refer it to the U.S. Attorney."

 

"Our primary goal is to determine if there is intent and meaning behind it," Schmidt said.

Meanwhile, Chappelle-Nadal told the Post-Dispatch that her comment was posted in response to "concerns that I am hearing from residents of St. Louis."

In an interview, Chappelle-Nadal said her comment stemmed from frustration over the events in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, in which a white supremacist protester allegedly rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman.

 

"I put that up on my personal Facebook and I should not have," Chappelle-Nadal said. "It was in response to the concerns that I am hearing from residents of St. Louis. I have deleted it, and it should have been deleted, but there is something way more important that we should be talking about."

 

Chappelle-Nadal said that in the wake of Charlottesville, "there are people who are afraid of white supremacists, there are people who are having nightmares. there are people who are afraid of going out in the streets. It's worse than even Ferguson."

So, if we understand the logic flow correctly, Chappelle-Nadal apparently figured that killing President Trump would rid the world of hate groups and simultaneously address all of the concerns of her constituents in St. Louis?

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: August 18, 2017, 1:00 am

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

Today’s complacent markets are faced with a number of potentially destabilizing shocks.

Any one of them could potentially lead to another financial crisis. And the next crisis could see draconian measures by governments that most people are not prepared for today.

You’ll see what I mean in a moment.

But first, what are the catalysts that possibly trigger the next financial crisis?

First off, a debt ceiling crisis is just over a month away. If the ceiling isn’t raised by Sept. 29, the federal government is likely to default on at least some of its bills.

 

If a deal isn’t reached, it could rock markets and possibly trigger a major recession.

 

Given Washington’s current political paralysis and intense partisan infighting surrounding President Trump, it’s far from certain that a deal will be reached.

 

Second, despite some official comments over the weekend downplaying the odds of a war with North Korea, a shooting war remains a very real possibility.

 

North Korea’s Kim is determined to acquire nuclear weapons that can threaten the lower 48 U.S. states, and Trump is equally determined to prevent that from happening.

 

Third, a trade war between the U.S. and China seems imminent.

 

Trump has backed off his campaign pledges to label China a currency manipulator and an unequal trading partner.

 

But Trump (and Bannon most recently) have made it clear that they are in an "economic war" against China for who will be hegemon 25 years from now.

 

China would likely retaliate, and that could ultimately result in a 10–20% “maxi-devaluation” of the yuan, perhaps by early next year.

 

That would likely cause a stock market rout. Since China devalued in August 2015, markets fell hundreds of points in single sessions. And that was a much smaller devaluation, less than 2%.

And if markets collapse from either of these scenarios — which is entirely possible — governments will move dramatically to contain the damage.

In my book The Road to Ruin, I discuss a phenomenon called “ice-nine.” The name is taken from a novel, Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut.

In the novel, a scientist invents a molecule he calls ice-nine, which is like water but with two differences. The melting temperature is 114.4 degrees Fahrenheit (meaning it’s frozen at room temperature), and whenever ice-nine comes in contact with water, the water turns to ice-nine and freezes.

The ice-nine is kept in three vials. The plot revolves around the potential release of ice-nine into water, which would eventually freeze the rivers and oceans and end all life on Earth. Cat’s Cradle is darkly comedic, and I highly recommend it.

I used ice-nine in my book as a metaphor for financial contagion.

If regulators freeze money market funds in a crisis, depositors will take money from banks. The regulators will then close the banks, but investors will sell stocks and force the exchanges to close and so on.

Eventually, the entire financial system will be frozen solid and investors will have no access to their money.

Some of my readers were skeptical of this scenario. But I researched it carefully and provided solid evidence that this plan is already in place — it’s just not well understood. But the ice-nine plan is now being put into practice.

Consider a recent Reuters article that admitted elites would likely shut down the entire system when the next financial crisis strikes.

The article claimed that the EU is considering actions that would temporarily prevent people from withdrawing money from banks to prevent bank runs.

“The desire is to prevent a bank run, so that when a bank is in a critical situation it is not pushed over the edge,” said one source.

Very few people are aware of these developments. They get a brief mention in the media, if they get mentioned at all. But people could be in for a shock when they try to get their money out of the bank during the next financial crisis.

Think of it as a war on currency or a war on money. Even the skeptics can see how the entire financial system will be frozen solid in the next crisis.

The only solution is to have physical gold, silver and bank notes in private storage. The sooner you put your personal ice-nine protection plan in place, the safer you’ll be.

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: August 18, 2017, 12:35 am

The walls may be closing in on Debbie Wasserman Schultz after her former IT aide, the one who was arrested by the FBI at Dulles airport last month while trying to flee the country to Pakistan via Qatar, has officially been indicted by a grand jury on four counts including bank fraud and making false statements.

As Fox News points out, the charges include Awan's wife Hina Alvi and are tied to allegations that the pair conspired to make false statements on applications for home equity lines of credit and then sent the proceeds of those loans to individuals in Pakistan.

Imran Awan, a former IT aide for Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was indicted Thursday on four counts including bank fraud and making false statements.

 

The grand jury decision in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia comes roughly a month after Awan was arrested at Dulles airport in Virginia trying to board a plane to Pakistan, where his family is from.

 

The indictment also includes his wife Hina Alvi.

 

The indictment itself, which merely represents formal charges and is not a finding of guilt, addresses separate allegations that Awan and his wife engaged in a conspiracy to obtain home equity lines of credit from the Congressional Federal Credit Union by giving false information about two properties – and then sending the proceeds to individuals in Pakistan.

So why is the real estate angle important?  As we noted previously, title companies, unlike individuals, can wire large sums of money to international bank accounts without arousing the suspicions of federal investigators.

Title companies can wire large sums abroad without attracting the suspicion Imran did at the bank, and with Hina — the nominal sole owner of each of the houses — residing in that country, it would be natural to send the proceeds to her.

 

In addition to the three houses sold or slated to be sold since June 20, Imran’s lawyer, Chris Gowen, told The New York Times that the $283,000 wire in January was preceded by other similar transfers to Pakistan. “Gowen said the transfer represented the latest payment by his client for a piece of property he was buying in the country,” The Times reported.

 

Gowen would not tell TheDCNF whether the proceeds of the $360,000 June 20 home sale were wired to Pakistan, nor where the income from the two upcoming sales would go. The office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia declined to comment on whether it would block the disbursements.

 

The value of the known homes that have been sold since November or are currently being sold is $1.8 million. There is also the $283,000 January wire transfer from the Congressional bank, in addition to previous wires of unknown amounts that Imran’s lawyer acknowledged.

 

Since Imran’s lawyer said the January wire of nearly $300,000 was the latest in a series of wires, the transfers may have been about moving money from the $4 million in House payments or other sources.

Debbie

 

As background, Imran was first employed in 2004 by former Democrat Rep. Robert Wexler (FL) as an “information technology director”, before he began working in Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office in 2005.

The family was paid extremely well, with Imran Awan being paid nearly $2 million working as an IT support staffer for House Democrats since 2004. Abid Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, were each paid more than $1 million working for House Democrats. In total, since 2003, the family has collected nearly $5 million.

In total, Imran's firm was employed by 31 Democrats in Congress, some of whom held extremely sensitive positions on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile, as we noted before, it is still unclear whether the bank fraud charges are just a placeholder for other charges that are yet to come. 

While details are scarce, media reports have alleged that Awan and his brothers potentially ran a procurement scheme in which they bought equipment, then overcharged various House members that employed their IT firm.  Meanwhile, some congressional technology aides have alleged that the Awan’s were blackmailing representatives based on the contents of their emails and files, due to the fact that these representatives have displayed unwavering and intense loyalty towards the former aides.

Of course, one of the most intriguing parts of the Awan narrative has continued to be why former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz decided to keep him on her taxpayer-funded payroll right up until his arrest and whether that decision had anything to do with the whole DNC / Hillary email scandals that erupted last summer.

Perhaps we are finally getting closer to an answer...

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: August 18, 2017, 12:10 am

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

With a Republican in the White House, the anti-gun-control lobby smells a bit of blood in the water. Now is the time, they suggest, to pass national gun-licensing reciprocity laws forcing gun-restrictive states to recognize permits issued by gun-permissive states.

Writing in The Hill, Tim Schmidt sums it up:

It is time for there to be national reciprocity for concealed carry permits, instead of the patchwork of laws governing reciprocity that vary by state. Virginia, where the [recent shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise] happened, has reciprocity for some states’ concealed carry permits, but if members would have brought their guns back and forth from D.C., they would have been breaking the law. It should never be a crime to be responsibly prepared to defend yourself in any possible situation.

 

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) have introduced the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which would allow legal gun owners and concealed carry permit holders nationwide to responsibly arm themselves no matter where they are. 

The way this is phrased sounds nice and totally unobjectionable: this bill sounds like it's just saying people should be left alone. 

The problem, however, is that the drive for mandated reciprocity is essentially a drive to increase federal involvement and federal control in the realm of gun policy. 

Schmidt is right in the sense that, of course it should never be a crime to defend one's self. The question remains however: should the federal government be the agency that guarantees that right? Should the feds have the power to overturn state and local laws that limit gun ownership?

This issue can be addressed from both a legal and Constitutional standpoint, and from a general philosophical decentralist view. 

The Constitutionalist View

Suzanne Sherman at the Tenth Amendment Center has already weighed in against the idea on Constitutional grounds, based on two main arguments: 

1. Reciprocity laws are compacts made among the states, and are not imposed by the federal government.

 

2. The Bill of Rights Doesn't apply to the states. 

On the first matter, Sherman notes that the proposed legislation would impose reciprocity on the states. This, Sherman notes, is a departure from what we usually mean by reciprocity, which denotes compacts that two or more states have voluntarily entered into. 

Sherman writes:

Many advocates of forced National Reciprocity point to the “Full Faith and Credit Clause” found in Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution. Such application is likewise problematic because it deviates from the original intent of the clause, lifted directly from the Articles of Confederation without any change to its meaning. This clause, as ratified, simply ensured citizens in one state could own land or property in another with the full rights of a citizen of that state. It in no way implied that one state had to recognize the institutions or licensing of another state. Driver’s licenses are acceptable for passing through various states, but it is, like CCW licensing, by mutual assent of the states. In other words, there is no federal statute mandating that one state must honor another state’s driver’s licenses.

In other words, the sort of "reciprocity" imagined by the backers of nationwide forced reciprocity is a new kind of reciprocity that substitutes federal policy for decentralized state-level policy. 

The enormous downside to this is that it federalizes what has long been recognized as largely the domain of state and local governments. Further federalizing gun policy may look like a fine idea right now, but as Sherman notes, it only takes a couple of new anti-gun appointments to the Supreme Court for the whole idea to blow up in the faces of pro-gun advocates. It's far more prudent, Sherman contends, to work against any increase in federal involvement in gun policy. 

The Bill of Rights Was Never Meant to Apply to the States 

Sherman's second point is one that Constitutionalists and decentralists have made for years. Namely, that the Bill of Rights is properly understood as a document that limits the federal government, not state governments. 

Sherman writes: 

When he introduced the proposal for a Bill of Rights to Congress, Madison wanted some of the provisions to be made applicable against the states. He argued that was where liberty would be most likely threatened. Again, he was defeated unanimously. The Bill of Rights was never understood to be applicable against the states. There is absolutely no historical evidence of the Bill of Rights being made enforceable against the states. Even nationalist John Marshall, in the 1833 case Barron v. Baltimore, was forced to admit this when he said that the first ten “amendments contain no expression indicating an intention to apply them to the state governments. This court cannot so apply them."

 

...It was not until 1925, in the case of Gitlow vs New York, that the Supreme Court magically “found” the authority to apply the Bill of Rights against the states supposedly hidden away in the 14th Amendment..."

Sensing that things are going their way, it has become fashionable for some gun-freedom advocates to push for more federal control over state and local gun laws. One example is the recent case of Mcdonald vs. the City of Chicago which finally declared that the Second Amendment — like other portions of the Bill of Rights — applies to the states. Nevertheless, by pushing for more federal control in this case, gun-rights advocates are only pushing for more federal control over the states.

Even those who have no particular affinity for the current American Constitution have noted this as well. 

Lew Rockwell writes: 

[T]he purpose of the Bill of Rights was to state very clearly and plainly what the Federal Government may not do. That's why they were attached to the Constitution. The states, under the influence of skeptics of the Constitution's limits on the central power, insisted that the restrictions on the government be spelled out. The Bill of Rights did not provide a mandate for what the Federal Government may do. You can argue all you want about the 14th amendment and due process. But a reading that says it magically transforms the whole Bill of Rights to mean the exact opposite of its original intent is pure fantasy.

In other words, appealing to the 2nd Amendment as a means of limiting state and local gun laws is based on newly invented federal powers that have no basis in legal or historical facts around the Constitution as written. Thus, it is ironic that many conservatives — who often fancy themselves to be "strict constructionists" and "local control" people — have suddenly made peace with the idea of using the Bill of Rights to boss state governments around. 

The Decentralist View

The Constitutional arguments are all well and good, but the US Constitution should never be viewed as the final word on any matter. The current constitution has always gone much too far in terms of centralizing political power in the United States, and the United States should never have been anything more than a loose military alliance and customs union. It's no more necessary that the federal government regulate gun laws than it is necessary to define marriage or prohibit prayer at school sporting events.

In fact, gun policy, like abortion policy, wage policy, land-use policy, and everything else, should be relentlessly decentralized. 

In his article "What We Mean by Decentralization," Lew Rockwell explains the various reasons why decentralization is a mroe effective check on power than handing everything over to a Supreme Court or other federal "protectors" or rights. 

Rockwell lists five reasons for this:

First, under decentralization, jurisdictions must compete for residents and capital, which provides some incentive for greater degrees of freedom...

 

Second, localism internalizes corruption so that it can be more easily spotted and uprooted....

 

Third, tyranny on the local level minimizes damage to the same extent that macro-tyranny maximizes it....

 

Fourth, no government can be trusted to use the power to intervene wisely...

 

Fifth, a plurality of governmental forms—a "vertical separation of powers," ... prevents the central government from accumulating power. Lower governments are rightly jealous of their jurisdiction, and resist... 

Also key to this equation is the fact that decentralization offers a multitude of choices between different regimes in the face of government restrictions and persecution. If only one huge government has been granted the power to protect rights, to where will one go when the government fails to do its prescribed task? On the other hand, when a wide variety of smaller governments are charged with protecting rights, the failure by one regime is not nearly as catastrophic since the offending regime can be far more easily avoided through emigration and boycott than can a large centralized regime. 

Thus, it might sound nice to put the federal government in charge of protecting gun rights, but the potential downside is immense given that federal policy can change easily, and then be imposed nationwide. 

This isn't to say that small, decentralized government are a cure-all either. Ideology always plays an important role, and in a world where the majority wants all private citizens disarmed — well, that will happen regardless of what level of decentralization exists.

However, if what we desire is a governmental landscape that offers more choices for residents and more limitations on state power, decentralization is the proper path, and handing over gun policy to federal "protectors" is a terrible idea.

 

Author: Tyler Durden
Posted: August 17, 2017, 11:45 pm

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

We all know that the majority of people don’t know FX (Foreign Exchange) so this topic should come as no surprise.  However, it’s important for traders and investors to understand how the US banks are ripping off their clients, and the only reason they do it is because clients allow them, because they don’t understand how they’re being scammed.  What we are talking about is the retail deliverable foreign exchange market.  Deliverable currencies is FX that is ‘deliverable’ to a foreign recipient, for example if you want to pay up front for a hotel in France you’ve booked in advance for your summer vacation.  It’s not only retail but for the example here it is – someone walking into a branch and asking to make a foreign payment.  We’ll use Bank of America as the example, let’s look at their FX rates from their website, available here:  https://www.bankofamerica.com/foreign-exchange/exchange-rates.go
So here’s the first line of defense to this scam, which it can be fairly called (we will explain).  Only one side of the spread is displayed – this will depend when you are ‘buying’ or ‘selling’ but they will NEVER be displayed on the same time or on the same screen (then, normally intelligent people may be able to deduce they were being fleeced like a sheep).  Let’s calculate the total spread based on the above rates using simple FX math for the 2 currencies chosen for this example, Euro and Yen.
FX is quoted EUR/USD that means 1 EUR = 1.1820 USD – the spot FX spread is about 1.1820 / 1.1822 according to LCG Brokers from Fortress Capital; but the market is closed now (it’s Saturday, day of rest in FX).  Now if we want to calculate the inverse price, for EUR/USD using Bank of America’s tool, we need to use the 1/x (reciprocal) function seen on most common calculators.  So if EUR/USD is 1.12 the inverse (reciprocal) is .89.  If we use the same ‘spread’ to convert 1 USD = x Euro then we subtract 1.1820 – 1.12 = .062 or 620 pips.  .062 doesn’t sound like much of a spread, but if you look in % terms it’s 5.54% of the price.  If we add the same amount of pips (or percent, however you calculate) to the other side of the spread, it would be 1.244 – for a total spread of 1240 pips.  Common spot trading spreads can run as high as 2 or 3 pips for the real shady FX brokers from Asia or aggressive IBs.  1240 pip spread is laughable.  Now of course these customers are PAYING in foreign currency not TRADING foreign currency it would be impossible to trade over 1240 pip spreads – but this is the reality for these poor retail victims.  1240 pips is substantial if you’re sending more than $50 – so now let’s look at the shocking examples.  At these prices, if you sent 100,000 to Europe, that would be about $5,540 in spread.  Where does this $5k magically disappear to?  The markets?  No – it is booked as a profit on the bank’s balance sheet.  Recently we (Elite E Services, Inc.) sent a wire payment like this for $5,000 and the banker had the audacity to say that if Bank A (not Bank of America, we won’t reveal the name) did the FX conversion we’d save $10 on the wire payment fee!  We calculated that would have been $350 in payment to Bank A to save $10.
Now the critical thing for US readers to understand, this is a uniquely American practice which happens only inside the borders of USA.  If you are in virtually any other country, whether it be UK, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Switzerland – you’re going to get rates on such transfers which are HIGH but probably something like 50 pips maybe 100 pips in extreme cases.  If you do transfers more than 100,000 that can go down to as low as 25 pips.  So how can the banks get away with it in USA?  They are simply taxing people’s stupidity, because there are alternatives.  Companies like Fortress Capital offer deliverable payment services by using payment processors like Commonwealth Foreign Exchange to get the same foreign rates and save customers up to 90% on transfers.  But they require an application and would not open an account for a single individual customer (it’s mostly for corporates who do regular transfers).  Then of course there’s Currencies Direct who has offices in USA, and a number of other companies.
But the fact is that the banks have people by the short and curlies, there are not really many or any choices when you need to do a single transfer – and banks are making a small fortune from this.  Could this be considered a Monopoly?  Anti-trust issues?
They settled huge claims and have since reduced the spread (whereas now it’s 5.5% it used to be 7% – 8% !!) and companies like American Express (AMEX) no longer charge a ‘foreign exchange fee’ – that’s right, on top of this horrendous spread many providers used to charge a 1% or 2% ‘fee’ on top of this!  Outrageous!
The sad thing is that most in the retail market, even small retail customers with little or no investment accounts understand stock trading.  Forex is not so complex as it is sometimes presented by the banks – I’m sure they do this intentionally, they aren’t stupid.. This profit center is good for them and costs them nothing, it’s a risk-less profit that no one can complain about because ‘hey, it’s Forex.’
This is not the ONLY way the big banks are banking off people’s FX stupidity, but it’s the most petty way, and the most widespread.  Millions and millions of dollars of such transactions take place on a daily basis and the banks are happy to keep things like this.
Posted: August 12, 2017, 5:31 pm
(GLOBALINTELHUB.COM) -- Dover, DE 8/8/2017 -- Global Intel Hub exclusive interview -- Elite E Services sat down with Mike Connor, Principal and Senior AP of Alpha Z Advisors, LLC – a trading advisor offering alternative investments based on strategies incorporating research on price anomalies, behavioral biases and institutional practices. In November of last year, Alpha Z Advisors LLC was ranked #1 Options Strategies Category by Barclay Hedge, a service that tracks funds’ strategies. So we wanted to learn more about on the Alpha Z Advisors strategy, as we have always supported options as a great way to not only hedge investments but also provide additional alpha to any portfolio. Also, futures options are generally traded on regulated exchanges – unlike FX which are mostly traded over the counter (OTC).
Who is Mike Connor?
Professional risk manager and former member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, who has more than 40 years’ experience in the futures and options industry.
What is the story behind Alpha Z Advisors?
Professor William Ziemba started Alpha Z Advisors, LLC with trading capital from friends and family. The initial investors were individuals he knew from the academic world in addition to a few referrals from the initial investors. The fund has grown in size from trading profits from the initial capital without attracting new investors.
How has the performance been?
2015 had great performance, more than 100% return, but it probably will never happen again due to a management decision to reduce initial margin to equity risk.
Why has it been so consistent?
The fund primarily trades options based on CME’s S&P 500 E-mini contract. Trading centers around the extreme prices of puts on the E-mini contract. The big money in trading options is made from being long, but returns are inconsistent (but the risk is usually very well controlled). The consistent money is made by being short options, but it comes with risk, and to stay in the game the risk has to be controlled.
How do you control the risk?
By properly hedging the positions either with other options or a futures position, and by margin to equity control. Short (selling) options positions are no different than an insurance company policies – you are selling price insurance. Like any insurance company, we’re going to have occasional disasters, like Katrina – but they should be manageable. Over a long time horizon, well managed market disasters should not prevent us from continuing to perform. We have had our share of ups and downs, and fortunately we have been able to survive all drawdowns. Good risk control and position sizing are the most important factors in any trading campaign.
What factors may impact the strategies’ performance?
Implied Volatility. Volatility is opportunity, but left unchecked it can be a horrible threat.
Considering the results, why do you think there’s not larger AUM?
Until recently we have not solicited publicly. This is our first concentrated effort at soliciting investors. In addition, we put together a minimum account size so high ($250K for the managed account, $100K for the fund). Our account size should eliminate many potential investors. We are looking for sophisticated investors that can take a part of their portfolio and take greater risk for a higher return.
How can investors ‘prove’ that the performance is ‘real’ – is there an institutional My FX Book ? There’s been a lot of CTA frauds that were real CTAs but used fake performance to lure investors – what assurances can we offer them about Alpha Z?
All the accounts – all the funds’ assets – all the performance results are compiled every month by an independent CPA firm. The statements themselves can be verified by the FCM.
Positions are manually stress-tested intra-day.
What makes Alpha Z Advisors LLC different than other CTAs?
I’m not sure if that’s the case, we have a very professional trading plan. You can go to Amazon and buy books published by our founder Dr. William Ziemba, actually he’s published more than 50 books on statistical abnormalities and opportunities in the stock market. It certainly does not mean we cannot lose, or have losing open positions – we are going to have losing positions there is no way around it. But overall, if we can control the risk and keep margin to equity at a reasonable level we should be able to survive during the bad times. We have, I think, enough excess margin to sit through a significant rise in implied volatility and still survive, if the positions and margin to equity can be properly controlled. Like any market position whether it is options or futures an unexpected giant gap opening is always a threat to open market position’s stability.
What makes the strategy different?
Trades are well positioned and I believe are market entry timing is very good. Our exposure is laid out over a broad time horizon (we don’t trade in nearby month, for example). If futures were a bullseye, you’d have to hit the target almost dead center to make a profit, with options, you can just hit the wall and still make a profit – of course, only with properly controlled risk and other parameters. I do not know how other CTA’s manage their positions and stress test their market risk, but I am confident our process is robust. What we do is not magic, it’s simply neutralizing the risk as much as possible, and there is a number of ways we accomplish that. It is all about understanding what the options can do if they move against you, and how you can respond adverse market activity.
The execution is done by a professional service. One way we keep our costs down other than accounting, is to try and soft dollar expenses through a soft dollar basis.
Customers are free to choose any brokerage house they want that clears at the CME. If customers do not have any preference, we are happy to set them up with our preferred FCM.
For more information contact:
Mike Connor
312-470-6260
Or visit www.alphazadvisors.com
This article/interview is for information/educational purposes only and is privileged, confidential and proprietary. This article/interview is NOT an offer to sell or a solicitation of any investment products or other financial product or services, is NOT an official confirmation of any transaction, or an official statement. Past performance is not indicative of future results. There is a substantial high and unlimited level of risk of loss in trading commodity futures, options, options writing, equities and off-exchange foreign currency products; such trading is not suitable for all investors.  Investors should only invest money they can afford to lose.

http://globalintelhub.com/alpha-advisors-offers-alternative-options-investing/
Posted: August 8, 2017, 7:32 pm
It was over three years ago, back in May 2014, when we wrote "How Bots Manipulated The Price Of Bitcoin Through "Massive Fraudulent Trading Activity" At MtGox" in which we first demonstrated one of the more striking observed "bot-driven" bitcoin manipulation schemes, in this case related to the infamous collapse of the now defunct Mt.Gox bitcoin exchnage.
As we wrote at the time, a number of traders began noticing suspicious behavior on Mt. Gox. Basically, a random number between 10 and 20 bitcoin would be bought every 5-10 minutes, non-stop, for at least a month on end until the end of January, by what appeared to be two algos, named later as "Willy" and "Markis." Each time, (1) an account was created, (2) the account spent some very exact amount of USD to market-buy coins ($2.5mm was most common), (3) a new account was created very shortly after. Repeat. In total, a staggering ~$112 million was spent to buy close to 270,000 BTC – the bulk of which was bought in November.
"So if you were wondering how Bitcoin suddenly appreciated in value by a factor of 10 within the span of one month, well, this is why. Not Chinese investors, not the Silkroad bust – these events may have contributed, but they certainly were not the main reason. But who did it? and why?"
Of course, in the end this alleged manipulation did not help Mt.Gox which eventually collapsed in what has been the biggest case of cryptocoin fraud in history.
We bring up this particular blast from the past, because in the latest case of bitcoin market abuse - with Bitcoin trading at all time highs above $3,000 - Cointelegraph reports of rumors swirling about a trader "with nearly unlimited funds who is manipulating the Bitcoin markets." This trader, nicknamed "Spoofy," received his "nom de guerre" because of his efforts to “spoof” the market, primarily on Bitfinex.
Of course, spoofing is what Navinder Sarao pled guilty of last year, when regulators inexplicably changed their story, and instead of blaming a Waddell and Reed sell order for the May 2010 flash crash, decided to scapegoat the young trader who allegedly crashed the market due to his relentless spoofing of E-mini futures (and also making $40 million in the process of spoofing stock futures for over five years).
It now appears that a spoofer has once again emerged, only this time in Bitcoin.
For those unfamiliar, spoofing is simple: it is the illegal practice of placing a large buy order just below other buy orders, or a large sell order just above other sell orders, then cancelling if it appears that the order is about to be hit or lifted. The idea is to make traders think that somebody with deep pockets is getting ready to buy or sell, in hopes of moving the market. If traders see a sell order of 2000 Bitcoin they may rush to panic sell before the whale crashes the price. And vice versa on the bid-side.
As an example of Spoofy's trading pattern, here is a breakdown of a typical "trade" by the mysterious entity as noted by BitCrypto'ed who first spotted the irregular activity: Spoofy is a regular trader (or a group of traders) who engages in the following practices:
  • Places large bids ($2 million and up) for Bitcoin, usually just under a smaller bid order, only to remove them once someone starts to sell. These orders usually have a lifetime of minutes, or sometimes as short as 5–10 seconds to manipulate the price up (more common)
  • Places large asks ($2 million and up), for Bitcoin when he wants the price to go down, or stop going up (less common)
  • Occasionally ‘Spoofy’ will allow orders deep in the orderbooks to remain for a few hours, usually $50–$100 below the current price. For example, during the recovery above $2,000, he had roughly 4,000 BTC of false orders in the $1,900 range that were unlikely to execute, and ultimately were never executed.
As noted above, spoofing is actually illegal - as ultimately the trader has no intention of ever executing the publicized trade - but as Bitcoin markets are largely unregulated, it’s a very common practice.
What is unusual in this case is the nearly unlimited bankroll that Spoofy has at his disposal: He regularly places orders approaching $60 million.
Even more unusual is that, as cointelegraph reports, most of Spoofy’s activity occurs on a single exchange: Bitfinex. This exchange came under fire earlier this spring when Wells Fargo cut off their banking ties. As a result, it’s virtually impossible to deposit fiat on Bitfinex without going through intermediaries.
Yet unlike most Bitfinex traders, Spoofy appears to have special privileges, and has massive sums of both fiat and Bitcoin at his disposal on that exchange, likely one of the only traders who does.
* * *
In addition to spoofing, "Spoofy" also engages in wash trading, or effectively trading with himself. As BitCrypto’ed points out in a recent blog post:
“Spoofy makes the price go up when he wants it to go up, and Spoofy makes the price go down when he wants it to go down, and he’s got the coin… both USD, and Bitcoin, of course, to pull it off, and with impunity on Bitfinex.”
The BitCrypto’ed blog also describes Spoofy’s wash trades, when he trades with himself by either selling into his own buy orders or vice versa. Wash trading at high volumes can induce a frenzy of buying or selling, as other traders respond to the high trading volume. Spoofy can execute wash trades at very low cost, about $1,000 per million dollars of volume.
A single entity (entity could be a trader, or a group of traders), single handedly wash traded 24,000 Bitcoins in shorts. In order to do this, you would need to have at least 24,000 BTC on Bitfinex and the USD to buy them with.
When Bitfinex announced its plan to distribute Bitcoin Cash, it initially planned to distribute Bitcoin Cash to holders of short positions. Immediately following that announcement, a single trader short sold tens of thousands of Bitcoin all at once. It’s likely this trader was Spoofy himself, hoping to acquire as much Bitcoin Cash as possible.
The large number of shorts on Bitfinex also led many to believe that an epic short squeeze was coming, and many Bitcoin traders purchase coins in expectation of this. Suddenly, he “claimed” all of his own shorts, closing them using his own Bitcoin. The number of shorts dropped drastically, yet without affecting the price at all.
Bifinex itself admitted the manipulation on August 2, one day after the fork:
“After the methodology announcement on July 27th, several accounts began large-scale manipulation tactics in an attempt to obtain BCH tokens at the expense of exchange longs and lenders on the platform, causing the distribution coefficient to artificially plummet.

We have determined that this kind of manipulation?—?including wash trading and self-funding shorts?—?is in violation of Bitfinex’s terms of service. Those who intended to take unfair advantage of the circumstances surrounding the BCH distribution at the expense of other users have been sanctioned accordingly.”
Interestingly, BitCrypto'ed claims that Spoofy isn’t limited to just Bitcoin, and that shortly after this ‘trader’ was ‘sanctioned’ by Bitfinex, another interesting thing happened: ETCBTC shorts immediately disappeared on August 1.

Here we can see how the ETCBTC shorts simply vanished, from 60,000 ETC short, to a low of 93 ETC. But let’s not just look at ETCBTC, what about ETCUSD?

 

A giant middle finger. Notice the dramatic increase and decrease in longs with no effect on price.

I'm not sure what to make of these, but it calls into question the legitimacy of this data. The point I’m trying to make by showing the ETCBTC/ETCUSD margin pairs also engaging in very funny business at the same exact time, how are we supposed to know that the BTCUSD longs on Bitfinex are not also subject to this manipulation?

ETCBTC Shorts = Clear evidence of manipulation
ETCUSD Longs =Clear evidence of manipulation
BTCUSD Shorts = Clear evidence of manipulation (and admitted by Bitfinex)
BTCUSD Longs = BTCUSD Longs in terms of USD, has never been higher in Bitfinex’s history. See the green line.

It's not just Bitfinex: Spoofy’s activity also drives crypto prices on other exchanges, as arbitrage takes place. Because BItcoin is so thinly traded, a single large “whale” can potentially move the entire market.
Just like in US stock markets where HFTs find instant price arbitrage opportunities, with the help of extensive spoofing, the same takes place in bitcoin exchange.
People underestimate how much exchanges follow each other. Manipulation on one exchange will affect prices on other exchanges. You have traders that watch all of the exchanges and if one exchange starts to pull ahead, they too buy on cheaper exchanges.

You don’t just have people, but you also have bots that will do the same thing, so price reactions can be immediate.
Just like equities. And while Spoofy is certainly exercising outsized control over the Bitcoin price, it is uncertain how much of an affect this is having across all the markets. The price is currently rising, having finally surmounted the $3,000 barrier. The only problem? Nobody knows how much of this increase is organic and sustainable, and how much is due to the market manipulation of Spoofy and others.
Finally, nobody knows who he is:  The identity of Spoofy remains a mystery. He may be i) a single trader, ii) a large OTC trading firm or group of colluding traders, iii) or even the Bitfinex management themselves. He sometimes seeks to drop Bitcoin price, and sometimes acts to increase it. One thing is certain: one single trader seems to have a "central bank"-like impact on the entire crypto market.
Posted: August 7, 2017, 1:36 am
(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