• Merkel Offering To Pay One-Year’s Living Expenses If Refugees Leave Europe
    by Tyler Durden on 17/01/2019 at 10:00

    Authored by Martin Armstrong via ArmstrongEconomics.com, The latest in Germany is now Merkel, who offered cash to refugees to return home last November, has stepped up her game and offered to pay their living expenses for one year if they return home. Billboards are appearing all over Germany making this latest offer. Believe it or not, more than 20,000 refugees vanished when they were going to be deported. This illustrates that politicians should simply NOT be allowed to make unilateral decisions. In this case, Merkel’s decision has impacted ALL of Europe when the rest of Europe had NO opportunity to agree or vote on the issue. Chancellor Merkel’ poll rating internationally collapsed after her refusal to yield to Greece in the debt crisis. She allowed the Greek people to be strip-mined of assets to pay for their corrupt politicians. When she was being criticized by the world press for her obstinance with regard to Greece, she did a 180-degree turn and changed the subject from Greece to Syria. It all began when on July 15, 2015, Time Magazine wrote: “Berlin’s role as the enforcer in negotiations over Greece’s debt could cause lasting damage to Germany’s global image.” Merkel has kept her own poll people to make sure she turns and stays with the popular swings. When her image was tanking due to her policies in Greece, this is when, without a European vote, she flipped solely for her personal political career. The Washington Times wrote on September 10, 2015: “Angela Merkel welcomes refugees to Germany despite rising anti-immigrant movement.”  The entire refugee crisis was created by Merkel as a diversion because Germany was being viewed as the harsh enforcer of loans, which were structured to hide what Goldman Sachs had instituted to get Greece into the euro from the outset. The entire reason for the refugee crisis was simply the view of Merkel globally. She needed to reshape her image from the loan shark to the caring Mother Merkel. Europe is now paying the price because Merkel was simply concerned about her polls. The Refugee Crisis thus began with the peak in government on our model projected for October 1st, 2015 (2015.75). When Russia invaded Syria on the very day of the Economic Confidence Model, it signaled that Syria would be a focal point of this wave. The Refugee Crisis has been monumental ever since. […]

  • Global Economy Flashes Red As China Shipping Rates Collapse
    by Tyler Durden on 17/01/2019 at 09:15

    A dramatic and sudden slowdown in the rate at which numerous commodities are being shipped to China suggests slowing demand for raw materials in the world’s second-largest economy, and signals a wider economic slowdown globally looms. “Recent shipping data has turned negative with charter rates across all sectors notably weaker compared to late November levels,” Morgan Stanley analysts Fotis Giannakoulis, Qianlei Fan, and Max Yaras wrote. “While such moves are common, the synchronized decline may be a warning for Chinese commodity demand.” Morgan Stanley continues: During the last six weeks almost all shipping sectors have seen charter rates move lower, raising concerns about the health of underlying demand. The Baltic Dry Index is down 17% since mid-December (Exhibit 6) with all vessel types earning lower rates compared to a year ago despite the sharp drop in dry bulk supply growth. Meanwhile, data from China Customs show that iron ore imports shrunk by 3.2% in the last three months through November (Exhibit 7), while steel margins have recently turned negative. On the crude side, VLCC rates to Asia have also seen a notable decline, falling from $60 in November down to $30k currently (Exhibit 8) with crude flows to China showing signs of decelerating momentum. According to ClipperData, in 2018 crude flows to China remained strong, growing by 7.6%, but below the 10.1% growth rate seen in 2017. Over the last four weeks data shows further declines, although this is mostly attributed to the slowdown in supply due to the OPEC+ cuts, as well as delays at Chinese ports. On the gas side, spot LNG charter rates have also been weaker, dropping from $190k in November to $80k currently (Exhibit 10). While in percentage terms the drop in LNG shipping rates seems dramatic, the chartering market remains relatively tight with vessels still earning above mid-cycle levels. Of course, this data is just the latest in a long line of worrying news for the Chinese economy, but might just be the straw that breaks the ‘hope’ camels’ back. […]

  • Denmark: “In One Generation, Our Country Has Changed”
    by Tyler Durden on 17/01/2019 at 08:30

    Authored by Judith Bergman via The Gatestone Institute, The decision to send the criminal inhabitants of the asylum center to the uninhabited island of Lindholm caused great relief in Bording — an element the international press appears to have missed. Clearly, the right of law-abiding citizens to live in peace does not count for much on the scale of international moral outrage. Significantly, the outraged international press did not offer any answers to the legitimate question of what governments are supposed to do with hardened criminal asylum seekers, who pose a genuine threat to their surroundings and have been sentenced to deportation, but cannot be deported from the country because of international human rights obligations. The problem is far from a uniquely Danish one: virtually all European countries have signed international human rights conventions that leave them with the same dilemma. The country did not just “change”. Danish politicians, with their policies, changed it. In his recent New Year’s speech, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen mentioned that Muslim parallel societies constitute a problem and that immigrants must learn to put secular values over religious ones. He just did not say how he planned to address all that. Pictured: Rasmussen in October 2018. (Photo by Rune Hellestad/Getty Images) Denmark made international headlines in late November 2018, when the Danish government announced a plan to send certain asylum seekers to the small, uninhabited island of Lindholm. The international outrage was intensified when it came to light that the island currently houses a research center for contagious animal diseases; that the ferry which the asylum seekers will be able to take to the mainland during the day (it does not operate in the evening) is named “Virus”; and that the asylum center will be accompanied by a constant police presence on the island. The group of asylum seekers meant to live in Lindholm consists of criminals of various sorts, including those who have been sentenced to be deported from Denmark, those who are considered a security threat to Denmark, and so-called “foreign warriors”. The asylum seekers, however, cannot be deported to their country of origin, either because those countries do not adhere to human rights conventions, (which Denmark has signed and by which it is therefore obligated) that prohibit the use of torture, so-called inhumane treatment and the death sentence, or simply because the country of origin refuses to take them back. The island will undergo a comprehensive renovation, estimated to take nearly three years and to cost Danish taxpayers approximately 759 million Danish kroner (approximately $116 million). Until the renovation is completed, this group of asylum seekers will remain at their current housing facility, an asylum center known as Kærshovedgård, 6 kilometers from the nearest town of Bording. Kærshovedgård, a former prison, was established as an asylum center in 2016. In the two and a half years since, police have filed 85 charges of violence, threats of violence, vandalism, shoplifting, and drug-related crimes against the inhabitants of the asylum center. The manager of the local supermarket in Bording called the presence of the asylum center “a living hell on earth”. The decision to send the criminal inhabitants of the asylum center to the uninhabited island of Lindholm caused great relief in Bording — an element the international press appears to have missed. Clearly, the right of law-abiding citizens to live in peace does not count for much on the scale of international moral outrage. Now, however, neighbors of Lindholm in the tiny town of Kalvehave on the mainland have voiced their fearsregarding the establishment of the asylum center on Lindholm, which they see as merely moving the problem from one area to another. Some inhabitants are talking about putting up cameras, fences, barbed wire and even acquiring gun permits. Significantly, the outraged international press did not offer any answers to the legitimate question of what governments are supposed to do with hardened criminal asylum seekers, who pose a genuine threat to their surroundings and have been sentenced to deportation, but cannot be deported from the country because of international human rights obligations. The problem is far from a uniquely Danish one: virtually all European countries have signed international human rights conventions that leave them with the same dilemma. The prospect of inadvertently attracting more foreigners who may prove to be either criminals or security threats, however, did not dissuade Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen from signing the UN’s Global Migration Compact in December 2018, despite opposition to the initiative in his own government. It was even claimed that computer “bots” had generated the popular opposition against the Compact on the internet. The more likely reason for opposition to the UN Compact is that more Danes have come to acknowledge that migration has led to a number of grave problems in Denmark. One such problem is the presence of Muslim parallel societies in major Danish cities, a situation that Danish documentary filmmakers already documented in 2016 in an undercover investigation, with hidden cameras, into claims that imams are working towards keeping parallel societies for Muslims within Denmark. Since then, things have not improved. In February 2018, for example, Danish television station TV2 News visited Vollsmose, a neighborhood in Denmark’s third largest city, Odense, where Muslim parallel societies are prevalent. The television crew spoke to young Somali women in a café, where men and women sit in separate areas. 31-year-old Hibo Abdulahi, who came to Denmark when she was ten years old, said the reason for the self-imposed gender-segregation is that “Those are our rules. Yes, our law… That is Islamic law, men and women do not sit together”. The reporter asked her if that meant that he was not allowed to sit in the women’s section of the café. “Yes, you can sit here, because you are a white person, so you probably don’t know any better”. Hibo Abdulahi apparently did not consider the café part of a Muslim parallel society: “The café follows Danish law… This is our culture which we lack and miss a little. What is wrong with that? I simply do not understand why we have to become so integrated. Does that mean we should put away all our culture and be completely Danish? I’ve had enough now. I am very integrated, I have many Danish friends, take it easy, let us have something to ourselves”. Another way Denmark’s landscape has changed is in the increased presence of mosques. “The minaret is first and foremost a symbol”, according to the Turkish Cultural Association, which is behind the building of a Turkish mosque in Århus, Denmark’s second largest city. The mosque’s minaret, a 24-meter-high construction, is visible to visitors to the city when approaching it from the motorway. Turkey has been extremely active in ramping up its activities in Denmark, apparently as part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan of strengthening Islam in the West. Denmark already has around 30 Turkish mosques out of approximately 170 mosques in total as of end of 2017. In 2006, there were 115 mosques in all of Denmark — an increase of nearly 50% in little more than a decade. A recent government study, “Analysis of children of descendants with a non-Western background”, shows that there continue to be huge problems with assimilating immigrants into Danish society. According to the study, third-generation immigrants — the second generation to be born in Denmark — still do not get better grades in school than their parents did, nor do more of them finish higher education or find employment. As of January 2018, there were 24,200 third-generation immigrants in Denmark, of whom 92% had a non-Western background. Of those with a non-Western background, 41% were of Turkish descent, and 21% were of Pakistani descent. Today, there are roughly 500,000 immigrants and descendants of immigrants in Denmark. The cost to the Danish state is 33 billion Danish kroner per year ($5 billion or 4.4 billion euros), according to the Danish Ministry of Finance. It is estimated that in 2060 there will be nearly 900,000 immigrants and descendants of immigrants in Denmark, according to Denmark’s official statistical bureau, Danmark’s Statistik. Denmark currently has a total population of 5.8 million people. If the lack of integration persists in the next generation of descendants of immigrants, Denmark is looking at a significant societal problem to which no one appears to have a solution. Least of all, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. In his New Year’s speech, he said that things are “going well” in Denmark. He did not mention the study about the descendants of non-Western immigrants, or that the Danish government has no significant answers to the many questions that the existence of Muslim parallel societies poses — although he did mention that Muslim parallel societies constitute a problem and that immigrants must learn to put secular values over religious ones. He just did not say how he planned to address all that. “When I was in high school, he also said, “there were around 50,000 people with a non-Western background in Denmark. Today, there are almost half a million. In one generation, our country has changed”. The country did not just “change”. Danish politicians, with their policies, changed it. Rasmussen also mentioned the recent brutal rape and beheading by ISIS terrorists of two young Scandinavian women, one of whom was Danish, hiking in Morocco: “We all react with disgust and sorrow. But we must also react by standing for what we believe. Freedom and equality of men. We must fight for our values…. It is not enough to have tough policies, police and border controls. It requires close European cooperation, development aid, diplomacy and increased investments in our defense. We must stand for our free societies”. Danes might be excused for thinking that their prime minister, who recently joined the UN Global Migration Compact, which encourages more migration, comes across as less than sincere. […]

  • Russia To Overtake Germany As World’s Fifth-Largest Economy
    by Tyler Durden on 17/01/2019 at 07:45

    The Russian economy is apparently more durable than many Western politicians imagined. Despite years of international sanctions and low oil prices have dragged on Russia’s economy, which pushed the Russian economy into a recession during 2015, UK-based global bank Standard Chartered predicted in a report published this week that Russia will overtake Germany as the world’s fifth largest economy, possibly as early as next year, according to RT. In a report outlining its projections for the global economy through 2030, StanChart projected that China would overtake the US a the world’s largest economy as explosive growth in Asia will eventually see some of the Continent’s largest economies unseat Western economies in the top rankings. By 2030, the bank expects seven of the world’s ten largest economies will be Asian economies. Using a combination of PPP-inflected exchange rates and nominal GDP growth, the bank ranked the top five economies as China, the US, India, Japan, and Russia. Rounding out the top 10 countries will include Germany, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, and the UK. “By 2020, a majority of the world population will be classified as middle class. Asia will lead the increase in middle-class populations even as middle classes stagnate in the West,” said Standard Chartered researcher Madhur Jha. StanChart aren’t the only ones who are optimistic about Russia’s prospects. The World Bank said in its economic outlook that it expects GDP growth in Russia to accelerate to 1.8% in 2020 and 2021, compared with 1.6% last year. It attributed this growth largely to “relatively low and stable inflation and increased oil production.” The IMF has also raised its forecast for Russia’s GDP growth in 2019 to 1.8%, with the fund anticipating that the impact of rising oil prices would outweigh the impact of sanctions. Though when it comes to Russia’s overtaking of Germany, a slowing in the economic growth engine of Europe is also partly to blame. Germany slowed sharply in 2018, growing by 1.5%, its slowest rate since 2013. And data released during the fourth quarter raised fears that Germany may have experienced a second straight quarterly contraction in Q4, raising anxieties about a possible recession. But with the Russian economy ascendant again despite looming threats of more sanctions tied to the attack on former intelligence agent Sergei Skripal, one can’t help but wonder whether the media will point out that the economic rival is also Putin’s fault. […]

  • Top 10 Reasons Not To Love NATO
    by Tyler Durden on 17/01/2019 at 07:00

    Authored by David Swanson, The New York Times loves NATO, but should you? Judging by comments in social media and the real world, millions of people in the United States have gone from having little or no opinion on NATO, or from opposing NATO as the world’s biggest military force responsible for disastrous wars in places like Afghanistan (for Democrats) or Libya (for Republicans), to believing NATO to be a tremendous force for good in the world. I believe this notion to be propped up by a series of misconceptions that stand in dire need of correction. 1. NATO is not a war-legalizing body, quite the opposite. NATO, like the United Nations, is an international institution that has something or other to do with war, but transferring the UN’s claimed authority to legalize a war to NATO has no support whatsoever in reality. The crime of attacking another nation maintains an absolutely unaltered legal status whether or not NATO is involved. Yet NATO is used within the U.S. and by other NATO members as cover to wage wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable. This misconception is not the only way in which NATO works against the rule of law. Placing a primarily-U.S. war under the banner of NATO also helps to prevent Congressional oversight of that war. Placing nuclear weapons in “non-nuclear” nations, in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, is also excused with the claim that the nations are NATO members (so what?). And NATO, of course, assigns nations the responsibility to go to war if other nations go to war — a responsibility that requires them to be prepared for war, with all the damage such preparation does. 2. NATO is not a defensive institution. According to the New York Times, NATO has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is an article of faith, based on the unsubstantiated belief that Soviet and Russian aggression toward NATO members has existed for 70 years and that NATO has deterred it rather than provoked it. In violation of a promise made, NATO has expanded eastward, right up to the border of Russia, and installed missiles there. Russia has not done the reverse. The Soviet Union has, of course, ended. NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic, bombing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has added a partnership with Colombia, abandoning all pretense of its purpose being in the North Atlantic. No NATO member has been attacked or credibly threatened with attack, apart from small-scale non-state blowback from NATO’s wars of aggression. 3. Trump is not trying to destroy NATO. Donald Trump, as a candidate and as U.S. President, has wondered aloud and even promised all kinds of things and, in many cases, the exact opposite as well. When it comes to actions, Trump has not taken any actions to limit or end or withdraw from NATO. He has demanded that NATO members buy more weapons, which is of course a horrible idea. Even in the realm of rhetoric, when European officials have discussed creating a European military, independent of the United States, Trump has replied by demanding that they instead support NATO. 4. If Trump were trying to destroy NATO, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Trump has claimed to want to destroy lots of things, good and bad. Should I support NAFTA or corporate media or the Cold War or the F35 or anything at all, simply because some negative comment about it escapes Trump’s mouth? Should I cheer for every abuse ever committed by the CIA or the FBI because they investigate Trump? Should I long for hostility between nuclear-armed governments because Democrats claim Trump is a Russian agent? When Trump defies Russia to expand NATO, or to withdraw from a disarmament treaty or from an agreement with Iran, or to ship weapons to Ukraine, or to try to block Russian energy deals in Europe, or to oppose Russian initiatives on banning cyber-war or weapons in space, should I cheer for such consistent defiance of Trump’s Russian master, and do so simply because Russia is, so implausibly, his so-inept master? Or should I form my own opinion of things, including of NATO? 5. Trump is not working for, and was not elected by, Russia.According to the New York Times, “Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said.” But are anonymous “American officials” really needed to acquire Russia’s openly expressed opinion that NATO is a threatening military alliance that has moved weapons and troops to states on Russia’s border? And has anyone produced the slightest documentation of the Russian government’s aims in an activity it has never admitted to, namely “meddling in American elections,” — an activity the United States has of course openly admitted to in regard to Russian elections? We have yet to see any evidence that Russia stole or otherwise acquired any of the Democratic Party emails that documented that party’s rigging of its primary elections in favor of Clinton over Sanders, or even any claim that the tiny amount of weird Facebook ads purchased by Russians could possibly have influenced the outcome of anything. Supposedly Trump is even serving Russia by demanding that Turkey not attack Kurds. But is using non-military means to discourage Turkish war-making necessarily the worst thing? Would it be if your favorite party or politician did it? If Trump encouraged a Turkish war, would that also be a bad thing because Trump did it, or would it be a bad thing for substantive reasons? 6. If Trump were elected by and working for Russia, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Imagine if Boris Yeltsin were indebted to the United States and ended the Soviet Union. Would that tell us whether ending the Soviet Union was a good thing, or whether the Soviet Union was obsolete for serious reasons? If Trump were a Russian pawn and began reversing all of his policies on Russia to match that status, including restoring his support for the INF Treaty and engaging in major disarmament negotiations, and we ended up with a world of dramatically reduced military spending and nuclear armaments, with the possibility of all dying in a nuclear apocalypse significantly lowered, would that too simply be a bad thing because Trump? 7. Russia is not a military threat to the world. That Russia would cheer NATO’s demise tells us nothing about whether we should cheer too. Numerous individuals and entities who indisputably helped to put Trump in the White House would dramatically oppose and others support NATO’s demise. We can’t go by their opinions either, since they don’t all agree. We really are obliged to think for ourselves. Russia is a heavily armed militarized nation that commits the crime of war not infrequently. Russia is a top weapons supplier to the world. All of that should be denounced for what it is, not because of who Russia is or who Trump is. But Russia spends a tiny fraction of what the United States does on militarism. Russia has been reducing its military spending each year, while the United States has been increasing its military spending. U.S. annual increases have sometimes exceeded Russia’s entire military budget. The United States has bombed nine nations in the past year, Russia one. The United States has troops in 175 nations, Russia in 3. Gallup and Pew find populations around the world viewing the United States, not Russia, as the top threat to peace in the world. Russia has asked to join NATO and the EU and been rejected, NATO members placing more value on Russia as an enemy. Anonymous U.S. military officials describe the current cold war as driven by weapons profits. Those profits are massive, and NATO now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing on the globe. 8. Crimea has not been seized. According to the New York Times, “American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.” Again we have an anonymous claim as to a goal of a government in committing an action that never occurred. We can be fairly certain such things are simply made up. The vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia is commonly called the Seizure of Crimea. This infamous seizure is hard to grasp. It involved a grand total of zero casualties. The vote itself has never been re-done. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single believer in the Seizure of Crimea has ever advocated for re-doing the vote. Coincidentally, polling has repeatedly found the people of Crimea to be happy with their vote. I’ve not seen any written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence in Crimea. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 4 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result. Of course, a U.S.-backed coup had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea — just like a Honduran immigrant — was voting to secede from a coup government, by no means an action consistently frowned upon by the United States. 9. NATO is not an engaged alternative to isolationism. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world. A nonviolent, cooperative, treaty-joining, law-enforcing alternative to the imperialism-or-isolationism trap is no more difficult to think of or to act on than treating drug addiction or crime or poverty as reason to help people rather than to punish them. The opposite of bombing people is not ignoring them. The opposite of bombing people is embracing them. By the standards of the U.S. communications corporations Switzerland must be the most isolationist land because it doesn’t join in bombing anyone. The fact that it supports the rule of law and global cooperation, and hosts gatherings of nations seeking to work together is simply not relevant. 10. April 4 belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr., not militarism. War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. A growing coalition is calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures. Instead of celebrating NATO’s 70thanniversary, we’re celebrating peace on April 4, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech against war on April 4, 1967, as well as his assassination on April 4, 1968. […]

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