Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Asian shares hit 2013 lows, Nikkei volatile on BOJ jitters

By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares hit fresh 2013 lows and Japanese stocks had another volatile session on Wednesday, extending a broad rout in global equities, as the lack of new steps from the Bank of Japan to quell tumult in the domestic bond market and lingering fears of a softening of U.S. stimulus unnerved investors.
European stock markets are likely to fall, with financial spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100 (.FTSE), Paris's CAC-40 (.FCHI) and Frankfurt's DAX (.GDAXI) will open down 0.5 percent. A 0.2 percent rise in U.S. stock futures, however, suggested a stable start on Wall Street. (.L)(.EU)(.N)
The BOJ's move came amid mounting concern that central bank support for markets was turning more cautious, sparked by persistent speculation about the U.S. Federal Reserve toning down its strong stimulus commitment later in the year.
These concerns continued to buffet markets and led to a massive selloff in global equities and commodities overnight, although the dollar recouped some of Tuesday's sharp losses against the yen.
The dollar was trading up 0.9 percent at 96.89 yen after falling more than 2 percent to a low of 95.59 yen overnight. The dollar hit a two-month low of 94.975 on Friday, having just seen a 4-1/2-year peak of 103.74 yen last month.
The possibility of a shift in the Fed's current policy, even if such a move wasn't imminent, has rattled markets in recent weeks as the Fed's aggressive bond-buying plan has been a major driving force behind the recent rally in global risk assets.
"There appeared to be some heightened anxiety levels across Asian markets today as traders contemplate a world without additional economic stimulus," said Tim Waterer, senior trader at CMC Markets in Sydney.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> fell 0.4 percent to a 6-1/2-month low, extending losses into the sixth straight session, the longest losing streak since March last year.
Australian shares (.AXJO) fell 0.9 percent to a five-month low while South Korean shares (.KS11) ended down 0.6 percent. Markets in China and Hong Kong are closed for holidays.
"Market reactions of late underscore the liquidity risk -- bond buying schemes are reducing liquidity in bond markets and overshooting prices," said Takeo Okuhara, fund manager at Daiwa SB Investments. "Markets have long been too complacent with central bank support."
Japan's Nikkei stock average (.N225) closed down 0.2 percent in a volatile session which saw the benchmark tumble as much as 2.4 percent earlier. The Nikkei is down about 17 percent from a 5-1/2-year high scaled last month. (.T)
The BOJ on Tuesday held off from taking additional steps to curb bond market volatility, arguing that bond markets had stabilized. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said that the central bank will consider fresh measures if borrowing costs spike again in the future.
The lack of new action, following an unprecedented bond-buying program launched in April, disappointed some investors who were expecting the central bank to extend the maximum duration of cheap fixed-rate funds as a way to reduce volatility in the bond market.
Markets have been on edge even before the latest BOJ decision rippled through asset markets. Volatility in global financial markets had heightened in recent weeks on the Fed stimulus jitters, worries over slowing growth in China, a deep slump in Europe, and shaky Japanese bonds and stocks which threatened to undercut the BOJ's stimulus moves.
Sentiment towards Japan has also been hit recently as investors began to wind down their excessive expectations for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pro-growth policies, suspecting that Abe might be holding off from announcing harsher structural reforms needed to invigorate Japan until after an election in July.
Since mid-November when expectations began building for Abe, who became prime minister in December, to pursue bold reflationary steps to pull Japan out of deep deflation, the dollar rose 30 percent against the yen and the Nikkei surged almost 80 percent to their respective peaks in May.
"Markets have yet to find a new focus that replaces the trading betting on Abe, which appears to be closing out. The next focus is not Japan, maybe the Fed, but in the absence of clear fresh factors, each asset may be undergoing position adjustments under the current volatile conditions," said Hiroshi Maeba, head of FX trading Japan for UBS in Tokyo.
The prospect of the Fed withdrawing some of its funds from markets pressured emerging currencies, prompting Indonesia's central bank to say it was ready to ensure large supplies of dollars to the market to support the weakening rupiah.
The idea of less bond buying has also been behind a recent spike in U.S. Treasury yields to their highest in more than a year.
Commodities were also weaker, with London copper easing 0.2 percent to $7,047.75 a metric ton (1.1023 tons), hovering near a six-week low.
U.S. crude futures slipped 0.9 percent to $94.54 a barrel and Brent fell 0.6 percent to $102.30. (O/R)
Spot gold extended declines into a second session, easing 0.3 percent to $1,374.50 an ounce, as investors weighed the risk of the Fed curbing its stimulus program. (GOL/)
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Carlyle seeks to raise upto $4 billion for property fund: WSJ

(Reuters) - Private equity firm Carlyle Group (CG.O) is preparing to launch a U.S. real estate fund and hopes to raise as much as $4 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
If successful, the fund would be one of the largest new property funds any firm has raised since the financial crisis, the Journal said.
Rivals Blackstone Group LP (BX.N), TPG Capital Management LP (TPG.UL) and KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) already have funds to tap into the real estate market. Blackstone has more than $54 billion of property assets under management.
"We believed in the inherent value of the investments we were making despite the noise in the market," Robert Stuckey, head of Carlyle's U.S. real estate group, told the Journal. He declined to discuss the new fundraising.
In June, Crown Acquisitions and real estate investment firm Highgate agreed to buy from Carlyle a 27-story glass and steel office and retail tower at 650 Madison Avenue for about $1.3 billion.
Carlyle, which has about $176 billion in assets under management, could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular U.S. business hours.
(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; editing by Patrick Graham)

Analysis: Emerging market crunch may cause Fed to think twice

By Mike Dolan
LONDON (Reuters) - If currency turbulence in emerging markets escalates into full-scale investor flight, the Federal Reserve may have a fresh headache in deciding when to slow its dollar printing policy.
Given all the obvious influences on Fed policy - domestic inflation, jobless youths, long-term unemployment, stuttering credit creation or banking stability - gyrations on markets from Turkey to South Africa or South Korea may seem tangential.
But an enmeshing of the United States and the economies of the developing world since the turn of the century means the link between U.S. monetary policy and currency runs on the other side of the world could be tighter than many assume.
Another financial shock now in emerging economies that use vast holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds as capital insurance buffers could complicate a Fed exit from quantitative easing.
"As with so many previous emerging crises, although the Fed often triggers the withdrawal, it's then forced to turn more accommodative by default as a result of the fallout," said Simon Derrick, strategist at Bank of New York Mellon.
To avert the sort of protracted and devastating investment freeze they suffered in the late 1990s, economies across Asia and around the globe have built up huge hard-cash buffers as protection against future 'sudden stops' in foreign financing.
Over the past decade, emerging economies have absorbed trillions of dollars of western investment seeking higher growth and yields, while China's historic emergence into the world economy has helped fuel a commodities "supercycle".
In buying up the incoming dollars, euros and other hard currency to prevent a rapid appreciation of their own local currencies, emerging central banks have amassed some $7.2 trillion in reserves. That mirrors the estimated $8 trillion of private capital flows to emerging markets since 2004.
The International Monetary Fund estimates more than 60 percent of that total is held in greenbacks, putting dollar holdings at about $4.4 trillion. At least 80 percent of that - some $3.5 trillion - is banked in top-rated U.S. bonds, mostly Treasuries, IMF surveys suggest.
On those broad calculations, China alone holds about $1.6 trillion of U.S. bonds, while the rest is spread far and wide across Asia to Russia, the Middle East and Latin America.
This seemingly stable set-up was dubbed "Bretton Woods II" by Deutsche Bank economists 10 years ago, while former U.S. Treasury chief Larry Summers dubbed it "mutually assured financial destruction" a few years later.
But aside from a relatively brief stress-related financial heart attack that boosted the U.S. dollar briefly in 2008/09, these buffers have not really been tested.
If the sudden and steep emerging currency sell-off against the dollar - which on Fed indices has reversed their surge early this year in just three weeks - were to snowball, there is every chance these reserves will need to be sold to stabilize markets.
Any rundown of currency reserves may also require the sale of Treasuries, potentially steepening the rise in long-term U.S. interest rates, boosting the dollar and compounding the shock.
Could the Fed tolerate that? Back in the 1990s, then-Fed chief Alan Greenspan reversed a 1997 interest rate rise that some blamed for pushing emerging markets over the edge, cutting three times in 1998 as the crisis deepened - even though there was little material impact on the U.S. economy and the Wall St stock bubble continued inflating.
Might his successor Ben Bernanke do likewise - or at least act to tamp down talk of slowing QE for fear of a growth-sapping surge in U.S. Treasury yields?
There are several question marks over this sketch of events. Emerging economies may not be as fast to run down reserves without the fixed currency pegs of the 1990s, instead allowing more flexible exchange rate regimes to take the heat and enjoying a competitive boost from better terms of trade.
Outgoing Russian central bank chief Sergei Ignatyev said only last week: "The key is that our exchange rate is almost floating and close to free float."
That said, Russia, like Poland, was forced to run down between a fifth and a third of its entire reserves during the worst of the credit crisis in 2008/09.
Others reckon the very existence of hefty reserve buffers in many emerging countries will be sufficient to forestall capital flight. Deutsche Bank's Markus Jaeger points out that China, Korea and Russia run small current account surpluses and have short-term debts of less than 50 percent of reserves.
What's more, the Fed may feel the U.S. economy is strong enough to absorb some hit from sharply higher yields and push ahead regardless.
But emerging market crises are notorious for taking on a life of their own - mostly due to investor fear of illiquidity and the ability to sell securities at fair prices. That forces many to pre-emptively protect themselves by exiting early.
If that happens, the potential panic will likely require some response at home - or eventually in Washington.
(Editing by Catherine Evans)

Peter Schiff: Rising Interest Rates Achilles' Heel of US Economy

Top 3 Current Global Targets For Anglo-American Destabilization

Brandon Turbeville
Activist Post

In keeping with the obvious Anglo-American assault on Syria, destabilization efforts disguised as popular movements against national governments are once again popping up in all corners of the world.

Although the thinly disguised destabilization campaign known as the Arab Spring was largely confined to the Middle East, the latest push by Western-backed intelligence agencies, governments, militaries, and NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) is now taking on global form. Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Malaysia all seem to be caught in the crosshairs of the Anglo-American elite and the destabilization tactics of NGOs, Foundations, and popular uprisings that end (and sometimes begin) with violence. From the Middle East and South America to Africa and Asia, the Anglo-American empire is marching forward with a drastic enlargement of covertly conquered territory, putting the Western world on an inevitable and intentional collision course with both Russia and China.

One need only take a brief look at the unfolding events in Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Malaysia in order to see the hands of Western militaries and intelligence working behind the scenes; even though some operate more out in the open than others. This article will briefly examine the situation of the latter three countries.


In addition to the aforementioned NATO-backed crisis in Syria, there exists the continuing effort to shake up and remold the regime in Venezuela.

Under the leadership of former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela was a stalwart source of resistance to the plans of the Anglo-Americans for years, particularly since the George W. Bush administration and, like the imperialist policies the Venezuelan government was initially responding to, continued through the Obama administration.

Likewise, for just as long, both Chavez’ government and the current Venezuelan administration has been the target of US/NATO-backed destabilization efforts, covert operations, and political pressure.

Although Venezuela and the United States are held together by joint business interests involving petroleum exports and imports, this fact has done nothing to soften the tension between the two governments. Venezuela is, after all, the biggest supplier of petroleum to the United States. In turn, the United States is Venezuela’s biggest customer.

Nevertheless, both countries have been without ambassadors since 2010 due to Chavez’ rejection of the nomination of Larry Palmer by the Obama administration and Washington’s subsequent dismissal of the Venezuelan ambassador in response. Furthermore, the imperialist US sanctions regarding countries, banks, businesses, and individuals that do business with Iran were applied to the Venezuelan state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), in May 2011 after the US State Department claimed that PDVSA delivered two cargo shipments of refined petroleum products worth approximately $50 million to Iran between the months of December and March 2010-2011.

In addition, as NewsMax reports,
The U.S. also imposed penalties on Venezuela's Military Industries Co. for violating the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act by selling or buying sensitive equipment and technology related to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missile systems.
Even more so, Chavez’ government, in 2002, was briefly overthrown as a result of a coup largely supported by the United States. Although Chavez was able to regain control of the Presidency and the government within a mere 48 hours, such an affront to Venezuelan sovereignty and personal power is not likely to be forgotten by the Venezuelan government. In turn, the fact that the United States is ready and willing to back opposition leaders capable of storming the capitol and taking power is not likely to be forgotten by individuals seeking to do so.

This was precisely the attempt made by the United States and Anglo-American networks during the last Presidential election when Chavez was still alive and campaigning for another term against Western agent Henrique Capriles Radonski who openly stated his favoritism toward dismantling many of the social programs developed by Chavez.

Whatever one may have thought about Chavez or the Venezuelan government, it was clear enough that the Radonski campaign was a tentacle of Western intelligence and NGO networks.

As Lee Brown of Venezuela Analysis wrote at the time,
However there are obvious concerns that this fits neatly with the objectives of those within the right-wing opposition in Venezuela who are planning for the non-recognition of the coming elections if, as expected, Hugo Chavez wins. With the polls showing strong leads for Hugo Chavez, a campaign is already underway by sections of the right-wing opposition coalition to present any electoral defeat as being down to Chavez-led fraud. This has seen baseless attacks on the independent National Electoral Council (CNE,) which has overseen all of Venezuelans’ elections described as free and fair by a range of international observers. The opposition has announced plans to place tens of thousands of ‘witnesses’ at polling stations on election day and then, illegally to release its own results ahead of the official results in a clear bid to discredit them. These plans have sharpened fears that opposition-led disruptions and destabilisation will follow their defeat. This could easily meet Duddy’s condition of 'an outbreak of violence and/or interruption of democracy'.
The “Duddy” that Brown makes mention of in his quote is a reference to Patrick Duddy, the former Ambassador to Venezuela, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations in a paper entitled “Political Unrest in Venezuela.” In this paper, Duddy provided a clear list of possible military, financial, and political contingency measures to be taken after the October 7 elections were held, essentially giving voice to a variety of opportunities which could be seized upon in order to foment the appearance of a popular uprising in the event of a Radonski defeat. The paper, in short, was a manual of suggestions for the implementation of a coup against the wishes of the Venezuelan people.

In the end, Radonski was defeated and the immediate public rioting that Duddy and the Anglo-American networks hoped for did not take shape. However, the destabilization effort that Duddy and the CFR called for in Duddy’s paper is beginning to take shape in Chavez’ absence.

After Chavez’s death and the subsequent campaign between Nicolás Maduro and Radonski, the vote count returned a much smaller margin of victory for Maduro than Chavez had enjoyed. Radonski, predictably, refused to concede defeat and claimed that the elections had been rigged.

Thus, while the internal debate surrounding the election results intensifies inside Venezuela, Radonski has recently traveled to Colombia to meet President Juan Manuel Santos, a staunch ally of the United States. The visit is largely seen as an attempt to shore up international support for his planned coup.

Indeed, Radonski is quite confident that the Maduro government will fall and that he will be placed as leader. "I think this government, in the current conditions of illegitimacy added to a deep economic crisis it's showing no intention of addressing, is going to cave in," Capriles said.

As a result, Maduro has responded to Radonski with accusations that he is nothing more than a destabilization agent for “right wing” actors who wish to overthrow the leftist government. Tensions both inside and outside the country are rising with diplomatic ties being “re-examined” between Venezuela and Colombia as a result of the Radonski PR move as well as growing pro-Radonski supporters now demonstrating in the streets. Violent clashes between protesters and the government have resulted in at least three deaths in recent weeks.

Anyone who has observed the Syrian situation in recent years can clearly see a parallel between that of Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Malaysia in the sense that NGO groups, Western media, intelligence, and State Department related organizations initially create or nurture an “opposition” party based on real, exaggerated, or entirely imagined concerns which is then thrust into the streets with claims of oppression, violence, stolen elections, and human rights violations. The country is then thrown into disarray when protests are stoked further and the government responds. Eventually, the introduction of violence on the part of the protestors threatens to either grind the country to a standstill (as in Egypt) or plunge it into a civil war (as in Syria).


An example of a nation with numerous legitimate complaints against their current government –economics, social policy, and civil and human rights – Zimbabwe has also recently come under the fiery eye of Western imperialists as of late.

To be sure, such interest in Zimbabwe never truly abated since the days of British control, but the fact that Robert Mugabe has now outlived his usefulness to the Anglo-American establishment is becoming clearer by the day.

As Eric Draitser of Stop Imperialism writes,
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) led by current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is no mere opposition party. Rather, they are the Zimbabwean face of neoliberal capitalism and continued subservience to corporate-imperial power. Although Tsvangirai’s party shrouds itself in the flag of anti-corruption and “sustainable development”, the truth is that these are merely the rhetorical cover for rolling back the gains made by the people of Zimbabwe under the leadership of Mugabe and ZANU-PF.
While the “gains made by the people of Zimbabwe” are highly debatable, it is quite true that Tsvangirai is nothing more than an agent of the Anglo-Americans.

For instance, Wikileaks revealed in a leaked cable in 2010 that “Tsvangirai collaborated with President Obama and the US establishment against the interests of Zimbabwe and the people.”
As reported by, Tsvangirai travelled to Washington, D.C. in 2009 in order to ask for the continuation of sanctions against his own country. (Tsvangirai is part of a power-sharing government with Robert Mugabe and was at the time of the meeting.)
TalkZimbabwe wrote,
A RECENT missive from whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks, makes the shocking revelation that the MDC-T leader and prime minister in the inclusive Government used a state trip to call for the maintenance of sanctions against Zimbabwe. 
Morgan Tsvangirai visited the US president, Barack Obama, and met at the White House on 12 June, 2009. 
The trip, which was sanctioned by the State, was meant to be bring the two governments diplomatically closer together, but Mr Tsvangirai used the trip to ask the US to maintain sanctions against Zimbabwe for “retaining leverage” against Zanu-PF. 
This was revealed in a letter written to Mr Obama by the MDC-T leader on 29 December, 2009 and published in a cable by WikiLeaks this week. 
Mr Tsvangirai said that sanctions can be used to “sustain momentum when it comes”. 
During his trip, Mr Tsvangirai hoodwinked Zimbabweans arguing that Zimbabwe has made progress and that he was working well with President Mugabe and that they enjoyed a functional, working relationship, while secretly calling on the US to retain the illegal and ruinous sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, Obama flatly refused to meet with members of the Zanu-PF but met with members of both of the two different MDC factions.

TalkZimbabwe continues,
Mr Tsvangirai at the time travelled with a State contingent that included tourism minister, Walter Mzembi, from Zanu-PF whom President Obama refused to meet although he met other ministers from the two MDC factions. 
The WikiLeaks cable also reveals that Mr Tsvangirai was also talking to US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, about the sanctions, which he prefers to call “restrictive measures”. 
Ambassador Ray has in the past denied that he takes sides in the Zimbabwean conflict and says the US is a neutral party in the country’s politics. 
Mr Tsvangirai’s secret letter also reveals that the US has been directly supporting his office – an allegation that the MDC-T has in the past denied. He also reveals that the US President was “personally” giving support to the MDC-T party. 
“Your support for my office has also been invaluable and I look forward to this continuing,” writes Mr Tsvangirai in a letter to President Obama. 
Zanu-PF Politburo member and former Zimbabwean Minister of Information, Professor Jonathan Moyo has in the recent past written extensively about how the US is funding parallel government structures in the country and the MDC-T party has denied this. This letter now puts paid to MDC-T refusals that the US has been funding parallel structures in the inclusive Government. 
In the secret letter Mr Tsvangirai also thanks US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who he sent his “warm thanks”. 
Mr Tsvangirai also reveals that South African President Jacob Zuma has had “secret dialogue” with President Obama over Zimbabwe. 
Professor Moyo has criticised the mediation role of President Zuma and his spokesperson Lindiwe Zulu alleging that they are not impartial in their mediation role in Zimbabwe. 
Mr Tsvangirai wrote: “The role played by SADC, in general, and the mediator President Jacob Zuma, in particular, is greatly appreciated.” 
He added: “I know that you have personally played a crucial role in helping this to happen, and I encourage you to continue your crucial dialogue with President Zuma.”
Yet, while this situation is bad enough, especially considering that the people of Zimbabwe will be the only ones who feel the actual ramifications of such bargaining tools, evidence also points clearly toward the control over the entire MDC-T party itself by the American CIA.

As the Zimbabwe Herald reported on May 13, 2013 in its article “Zimbabwe: Three CIA Agents For MDC-T Indaba,”
MDC-T has reportedly invited three Central Intelligence Agency agents to attend its policy conference set for this Friday as part of last ditch efforts to formulate an appealing election manifesto ahead of the impending harmonised polls. 
. . . . . 
The Herald is reliably informed that the three CIA agents were also behind MDC-T's security policy document which is expected to be tabled at Friday's meeting. 
In the document titled "Policy Discussion Papers - Security Sector Cluster: 1. Defence and National Security 2. Home Affairs", MDC-T announces plans to fire all serving security chiefs with a Zanla or Zipra background and hire what it termed senior police staff from Western countries to instil "professionalism" in the force should it attain power. 
It is understood that the US spies were expected to arrive sometime this week to work on the policy document that would be launched at the close of the national policy conference. 
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora confirmed the invitation of foreigners although he refused to divulge their countries of origin. 
Mr Mwonzora preferred to call the foreign delegates "observers".
The Herald also quoted Mwonzora as saying, “To perfect the document, there are three CIA members who have been invited under the banner of foreign observers.”

The Wikileaks revelations also included cables sent by former Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, who wrote the following:
Our policy is working and it’s helping drive changes here. What is required is simply the grit, determination and focus to see this through. Then, when the changes finally come we must be ready to move quickly to help consolidate the new dispensation 
. . . . . 
He [Mr. Tsvangirai] is the indispensable element for regime change, but possibly an albatross around their necks once in power.
Dell also wrote that “food and fuel shortages were to be used as a tool for regime change.” In comparison to the CFR’s Patrick Duddy paper on Venezuela, consider also that the notorious Anglo-American propaganda outfit run by George Soros known as the International Crisis Group has recently released its own report entitled, “Zimbabwe: Election Scenarios,” in which it suggests possibilities of violence and social disintegration surrounding the elections. One need only glance at the report to see the alarmingly similar tone of language to that of the Duddy paper.

It says,
If the impasse on election reforms persists, the vote may be rescheduled. Political leaders recognise that to proceed when the risk of large-scale violence is high and when parties and SADC disagree over what constitutes an acceptable threshold for credible elections would be dangerous. Faced with divisions that threaten their performance in the polls, ZANU-PF and MDC-T may back postponement. 
A military takeover is unlikely, not least because of uncertainty about the political allegiance of the rank and file, probable regional censure and international isolation. However, allegations of the army’s bias and complicity in human rights violations raise concerns it may seek to influence the election outcome. It may also present itself as a stabilising force if inter- and intra-party relations deteriorate further.
Interestingly enough, the paper also goes on to discuss “red lines” concerning the upcoming vote. It says,
The pervasive fear of violence and actual intimidation contradicts rhetorical commitments to peace. A reasonably free vote is still possible, but so too are deferred or disputed polls, or even a military intervention. The international community seems ready to back the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which must work with GPA partners to define and enforce “red lines” for a credible vote…That the elections are likely to be tense and see some violence and intimidation is clear; what is not yet clear is the nature of the violence, its extent, and the response it will generate. [emphasis added]
Eric Draitser of Stop Imperialism, when analyzing the ICG report, thus concurs with my previous statement that violence surrounding real, perceived, or even outright fabricated election fraud is a typical tool of the Anglo-American networks seeking to destabilize what they deem to be “rogue” nations, i.e. nations not completely obedient to their immediate dictates.

Draitser writes,
However, even a cursory examination of recent similar episodes in Venezuela, Iran, and elsewhere shows that “disputed elections” are the favorite tool of subversion by the imperial powers which use NGOs such as the International Crisis Group as their unofficial mouthpieces. When the ICG speaks, it is with the voice of US intelligence and the ruling class. 
If the experience of Venezuela is any indication, we are likely to see violence in the streets should MDC-T lose the election, particularly if the margin of victory is small. As with Capriles and the US-funded opposition in Venezuela, the creation of violence in the streets is merely a trick employed for the purposes of destabilizing the government in a time of transition, with the goal of creating enough chaos to delegitimize the rule of the victors. And so, ZANU-PF and the Zimbabwean people must remain vigilant as the country heads into these all-important elections.

Interestingly enough, Malaysia also finds itself in the crosshairs of a Western-backed campaign of destabilization. Much like the situation in Venezuela, the attempt is clearly to install a Western puppet president and, much like Syria, that puppet is one which has been attached at the hip with Western NGO’s and think tanks as well as one who has lived largely outside of the country since his own removal from politics.

In the case of Malaysia, that puppet is Anwar Ibrahim.

It should be noted that, like Henrique Capriles Radonski of Venezuela, Ibrahim was soundly defeated by the popular vote in the recent general elections even despite the fact that Ibrahim was heavily supported by Western NGOs, governments, and media. Regardless of the election results, however, Ibrahim and his coalition are now calling for street protests that themselves could easily turn violent as we have seen both in Venezuela and the entirety of the Western-controlled “Arab Spring.”

Indeed, the stated purpose of the street protests is to topple the current government with speakers at a recent forum attended by “opposition” groups calling for the government to be removed by force.
NOTE* (Please see Tony Cartalucci’s excellent article, “US Prepares to Overthrow Malaysian Government” for a run down on these events.)

As Free Malaysia Today reported,
Pro-Pakatan Rakyat groups have vowed to overthrow the Barisan Nasional government this year through a massive street rally. 
Speakers at a forum held yesterday unanimously agreed that waiting for five years until the next general election was too long, and vowed to overthrow BN this year through “force”. 
. . . . . 
Electoral watchdog group Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Hishamuddin Rais pointed out that it was useless to take their unhappiness to the courts as he claimed the justice system was being controlled by the government. 
“That is why we must take to the streets. We have to come out. What Najib likes is wrong, and what he doesn’t like is what we have to do,” he said. 
“We will mobilise a big group and rally on the streets. This is not a threat, this is a promise,” he stressed.
It should be noted that the figurehead of the “opposition” in Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, was Chairman of the Development Committee of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in 1998 as well as a lecturer at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Ibrahim was also a consultant to the World Bank. Ibrahim was also the President of the UNESCO General Conference.

In addition, Ibrahim has been closely associated with the Neo-Con destabilization organ known as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). For instance, he was a panelist at the NED’s “Democracy Award” and a panelist at an NED donation ceremony.

In another interesting coalescence of facts, the Bersih 2.0 “electoral watchdog” allegedly “observing” and analyzing the rising tensions in Malaysia is itself funded by the US State Department. By continuous claims of fraudulent elections and obstacles to peaceful settlement, Bersih is intentionally fueling the fire to collapse the current government in order to install Ibrahim as puppet leader and usher in a new era of imperialist domination over Malaysia.

Bersih’s own links to the NED are clear enough. According to the Malaysia Insider, Bersih leader Ambiga Sreenevassan "...admitted to Bersih receiving some money from two US organisations — the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Open Society Institute (OSI) — for other projects, which she stressed were unrelated to the July 9 march." The NDI is, of course, nothing more than a subsidiary of the NED.

Cartalucci reports that clear evidence of both funding and training being provided to Bersih by the NDI was present on the NDI’s own website at one point until the NDI removed it.

Cartalucci states, “A visit to the NDI website revealed indeed that funding and training had been provided by the US organization - before NDI took down the information and replaced it with a more benign version purged entirely of any mention of Bersih. For funding Ambiga claims is innocuous, the NDI's rushed obfuscation of any ties to her organization suggests something far more sinister at play.”
There is, indeed, something much more sinister at play. However, Bersih is not the only “election monitor” funded and directed by NGOs such as the NED. Merdeka Center for Opinion Research is yet another organization that is funded by the NED and thus by the US State Department itself.
With this in mind, Cartalucci states,
Without a doubt, this premeditated sedition aimed at Malaysia's ruling government has been designed, funded, and directed from Washington on behalf of Wall Street and London, not by the Malaysian people on behalf of Malaysia's best interests. 
The street protests conducted by Bersih have all the hallmarks of US-backed "color revolutions," and this recent attempt to overturn election results that do not favor an overt US-proxy, foreshadows the same destructive, divisive, violent, and regressive unrest that has plagued Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria after US-engineered uprisings have left each in turn destabilized, failed states overrun by extremists, dictators, and traitors many times worse than the governments activists sought to overthrow. 
And with Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria in hindsight, will Malaysians fall into this same familiar trap? Whatever discontent Malaysians may have with the current government, it is all but assured Bersih and US-proxy candidate Anwar Ibrahim will compound perceived injustices while compromising Malaysia's political, social, and economic stability, and begin channeling Malaysia's resources and energy toward foreign interests and designs,particularly those involving the encirclement and containment of China.
As Syria begins to mop up the psychotic death squads that have been wreaking havoc on the Middle Eastern nation for the last two years, talk is now turning to direct military intervention. Yet, at the same time, the Anglo-American empire is expanding its assault in the third world, marching forward across, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

This march, no doubt, will place North America and Europe (meaning the Western world) directly on a collision course with Russia and China in the visible future.

By exposing both the ramifications of such action and the true nature of what the majority of the Western public believes to be a mass movement of oppressed peoples against their tyrannical governments, the notion that the Western nations are supporting freedom fighters in the third world, it may then be possible to break the false narrative of the threat of “al-qaeda” terrorism that has functioned as the basis for every police state measure put in place since 2001.

Trader Alert: The Market Will Be Very Volatile And Choppy For Several Months

BRIAN BELSKI: Big Investors Aren’t Ready For What Could Be Coming Next
BMO Capital’s Brian Belski has increasingly sounded alarms as the stock market blew past his once-bullish targets.

In his latest note to clients, Belski reiterates his thesis that the big investors are only buying into this rally now because they’ve been missing out.
He believes this will only make things worse for everyone else should things turn south in a big way.
“[W]e continue to believe that most institutional investors are not prepared for a potential period of market weakness,” wrote Belski. “Therefore, we believe investors should prepare for more back-and-forth action this summer — not just up and not just down — as the market sifts through what is likely to be choppy fundamental and economic data in the coming months.”
Read more:
Morici to Moneynews: Growth ‘Will Be Weaker’ Despite Jobs Burst 
“The economy is slowing down a bit,” Morici told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.
“If you look at average jobs growth over the last three months or so, it seems as though we’ve come down a little bit. Not to an alarming pace, but second-quarter growth will be weaker,” he said.
Cash Home Sales, Flipping, Offer More Signs of Housing Bubble; Housing Insanity Stage 2
Chinese Lending Slows As Concerns Of A Credit Crisis Loom
Could this be good for China’s financial health?
The latest lending data out of China missed expectations.
New outstanding loans fell to 667 billion yuan, from 793 billion yuan in April. This was also short expectations of 815 billion yuan.
Outstanding loans were up 14.5% in May, down from 14.9% in April.
Total social financing (TSF) — financing available to the economy from the financial sector — fell to 1.190 trillion yuan, down from 1.747 trillion yuan in April. This was shy of expectations for 1.6 trillion yuan. TSF eased to 22.1% in May, from 22.3% the previous month.
Meanwhile, M2, a broad measure of money supply, was up 15.8% in May, down from 16.1% in April.
“These lower than expected credit data will likely trigger market concerns about monetary tightening when economic momentum stays weak,” wrote Bank of America’s Ting Lu.
China Data Dump: Moderation by No Stimulus Response
The biggest surprise was in the bank lending data.  New yuan loans extended in May slowed to 667.4 bln from 792.9 bln in April. The Bloomberg consensus anticipated CNY850 bln in new loans.  Aggregate social financing, the broadest measures, picking up at least parts of the shadow banking sector, slowed to CNY1.19 trillion from CNY1.75 trillion.  The consensus was for CNY1.6 trillion.
Signs point to a slowing of capital inflows into China.  Our point is that an important part of those inflows are not from foreign investors, but from Chinese investors themselves.  The yuan balances in local banks is understood to be a gauge of these capital inflows.  They were CNY294 bln (almost $50 bln) in April and appear to have slowed almost two-thirds in May.
China’s Latest Economic Data Dump Stunk
First, industrial production climbed 9.2% on the year, slightly below expectations for a 9.4% rise. Industrial production in May was led by heavy industries, with steel products up 11.3% year-over-year (YoY), up from 8.1% in April. Auto production slowed to 15.7%, from 18.3%, according to Bank of America’s Ting Lu.
Second, fixed asset investment (FAI) was up 19.9% on the year, and year-to-date FAI was up 20.4% on the slightly below expectations for a 20.5% gain. Remember FAI is a good gauge of a country’s investment activity.
A breakdown of FAI activity showed that manufacturing FAI eased to 16.5%, from 17.9% because of “sluggish” external demand. Railway FAI slowed significantly to 24.2% YoY, from 62% in April. But year-to-date railway FAI was up 24.5%, compared with -41.6% last year for the same period. Planned investment, which is a leading indicator of FAI eased to 15.4%, from 17.9%. And finally, property FAI fell to 19.4%, from 23.2% the previous month.
For the month of May, Lu writes that the 2.9% fall in producer prices could cause real FAI to rise a bit.
Third, retail sales climbed 12.9% on the year, in line with expectations. Industries impacted by the government’s crackdown on corruption, like the restaurant industry saw revenue rise 9.2%, from 7.9% in April. Gold and jewelry sales were up 38.4% because of weakness in gold prices.
Read more:
The ECB’s “Unlimited, Open-Ended” Bond Purchase Program Gets A €524 Billion Limit

One year ago, the ECB faced with an imminent collapse of the house of peripheral cards literally made up a bazooka: one so big and loud the market had no choice but to assume Draghi and company were not joking and actually knew what they were doing – it was the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT), the successor to the SMP program, which was unique in that it was open-ended and unlimited. It was literally, “the kitchen sink” conceived to put a halt to the relentless selling which last July sent peripheral bond yields to record wides by instilling the fear of god, or in this case his monetary messenger on earth, Mario Draghi into the hearts of bond sellers.
Unfortunately, like everything else in Europe, this was merely the latest ad hoc made up rescue mechanism, and which as Mario Draghi reiterated on Thursday, still has no legal term sheet (but one is coming out “shortly”, as he said in March and every time before that).
However, as we got closer to June 11/12, the date when the German Constitutional Court will conduct a public hearing on the various challenges to the ESM and OMT, the ECB would have no choice but to disclose more details about the real terms of the OMT to assure smooth passage of the OMT, and not to jeopardize the tenuous balance in Europe where things are once again going bump in the night with bond yields suddenly blowing wider on fears the Japanese bond carry trade is set to unwind. And if the validity and credibility of the OMT is also suddenly questioned, then Europe will go right back to imploding right before our eyes all over again.
The first such notable detail comes courtesy of the FAZ this morning, which reports that “in fear of the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court, the European Central Bank (ECB) has revealed for the first time the boundaries of their controversial bond buying program… ECB President Mario Draghi announced last year, if necessary, that unlimited government bonds of distressed euro countries would be monetized to save the euro. Meanwhile, however, the central bank has limited this program to a maximum volume of €524 billion and also communicated this to the court.” This is the maximum allowable purchases of Spanish, Italian, Irish and Portuguese bonds.

Japan’s Ruling LDP Party Joins JGBi Market In Fears that “Abenomics Could Fail”
With JPY back around 98 and the Nikkei 225 indicating further advances, perhaps the fears in the market are mis-represented – at least that’s what the other Goldman desk would have you believe.
But, as The Japan Times reports, even glorious leader Abe’s own LDP party are beginning to voice concerns that all this fluff is – well – just that. As we outlined here, the market is already concerned, domestic funds were very unwilling to partake of the exuberance – since they know the limitations of QE in their 20-year balance sheet recession environment – and as Goldman notes, the fact that the JGBi expected inflation level - a now symbolic indicator of policy success since Kuroda quoted it -  is now suddenly moving counter to its previous extended trend could possibly indicate the markets’ early signal questioning the credibility of the BOJ policy.
The recent stock price collapse, Lower House LDP lawmakers noted “shows the market expects little (of Abenomics).” The sky-high approval ratings (and business confidence) for the Abe Cabinet have been bolstered by the resurgence of the benchmark Nikkei since ‘Abe(g)nomics began. The stock market’s downturn, therefore, has created a sense of crisis among some members of the ruling LDP, and while they are likely to give the nod to Abe’s 3rd arrow growth strategy, many are pushing for significant fiscal expansion because “Abenomics could fail.”
MAULDIN: I’m So Sure Japan Is Screwed That I’m Converting My Mortgage Into Yen
Read more:
Greenspan: QE Tapering Needs to ‘Get Moving’ Regardless of Economy 
The Federal Reserve must taper its program of purchasing $85 billion in assets each month whether or not the U.S. economy is strong enough to handle it, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan asserts.

Be Careful With the VIX Signal

Smoke And Mirrors Running Out — Depression to Follow

Those who believe the economy is recovering are ignorant of the facts. Other than the Great Depression no US recovery (and I don’t believe we are in a recovery) taken longer. Eventually it may take more than a decade like the 1930s. Or perhaps it will be like Japan which is in its third decade of “recovery.”
Politics and Economics
The truth is that our economy is spent, exhausted and filled with misallocations and distortions made much worse by government interventions. There is no recovery, nor will there be one until a massive purge (usually referred to as a depression) occurs. This event will result in bankruptcies that release scarce, misallocated physical capital from unproductive and unwanted areas to places where it is needed and can be utilized efficiently.
Rather than allow this pre-condition to an economic recovery and a growing, efficient economy, politicians want to prevent it. They use smoke, mirrors and propaganda (lies) to hide the reality of our sick economy. Their obfuscations continue, but the effective life is limited.
What politicians do to the country beyond their term in office means nothing to them. Their concern is only for themselves and the short-term that exists between elections. As a result they rob from the future to hide the true conditions of the present. Those still unborn will be paying for their criminal economic charade.

World from Berlin: Prism Spying 'Attacks Basic Civil Rights'

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Zoom
The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
The world has been scandalized to learn about Prism, the broad data surveillance program used by the US at home and abroad. German commentators say that both Berlin and Brussels must defend Europe from this invasion of privacy.

Revelations about a far-reaching intelligence program in the United States leaked last week aren't just causing problems for President Barack Obama at home. While American citizens are left wondering whether their privacy has been violated by the Internet and phone surveillance, officials abroad are expressing serious concerns too.
Germany, which has particularly strict data privacy laws, is reportedly one of the most heavily monitored countries in the surveillance program, and Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger demanded an explanation on Tuesday. "The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored," she wrote in an editorial for SPIEGEL ONLINE. "For that reason, openness and clarification by the US administration itself should be paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table." Merkel To Address Issue with Obama
The day before, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the German leader would discuss the matter with President Obama when he makes his first state visit to Berlin as president later this month. Obama has defended the spying program as a "modest encroachment" on privacy.
German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner has also called for "clear answers" from the companies implicated in the government document leak, and the Green Party demanded an immediate investigation by the German government.
"Total surveillance of all German citizens by the NSA is completely disproportionate," Volker Beck, secretary of the Green Party group in parliament, said on Monday.
Strong Reaction from Europe
European politicians are also worried about the surveillance, which the European Parliament planned to debate on Tuesday. Officials in Brussels reportedly plan to discuss the matter with US diplomats at a trans-Atlantic ministerial meeting later this week in Dublin.
"It would be unacceptable and would need swift action from the EU if indeed the US National Security Agency were processing European data without permission," Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian member of the European Parliament and a leader in the Alde group of liberal parties, told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
At issue is a large-scale, top-secret program, codenamed Prism, undertaken by the National Security Agency (NSA), an American foreign intelligence agency. It tracks suspicious messages from outside the United States that are transmitted through American providers such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Skype, including emails, phone numbers, videos, photos and other forms of online communication.
Details of the program were leaked by Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee who worked as a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton at the NSA. There he had access to the documents about the counterterrorism surveillance, which he gave to the Guardian and Washington Post before going into hiding in Hong Kong, where he revealed his identity on Sunday. US authorities are now reviewing whether Snowden can be prosecuted for what some politicians there have called a treasonous act.
The scandal has revealed state surveillance of a previously unimaginable scope by the US both at home and abroad, the latter of which is of particular concern to German commentators on Tuesday.
Center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
"It may be that US citizens can defend themselves under the US Constitution. But that doesn't apply to foreigners. Facebook users in Germany have as little protection from the US Constitution as those in Afghanistan. Germany is the country in Europe whose telephone and Internet communications are being spied on the most intensely by the US. ... But even the best rulings from Germany's high court are useless because the majority of the Internet's architecture is located in the US. As a consequence, US authorities have the power of access, and this is stronger than basic German rights."
"The NSA case shows the expansiveness of preventive security state logic. Those who want to prevent crimes and terrorism -- whatever the cost -- can never know enough, and will always try to find out more in the name of security. Under the reign of terrorism, the legal system is changing. To track down the 'bad guys,' the entire population is being spied on with sophisticated methods in which intelligence agencies, police and possibly private networks are all cooperating. The US is a pioneer in introducing an infrastructure of surveillance."
"The only good thing about the NSA spying is that it exposes the principle tenet of domestic security that has been used to justify the rebuilding of the security system since Sept. 11, 2001: That those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear. This is simply a stupid idea."
Left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes:
"The chancellor's spokesman Steffen Seibert has now officially announced that Merkel will question Obama when he visits about the apparent systematic spying, particularly of German Internet users, by US intelligence. This is the least that citizens should expect. But more than that, the issue here is the protection of the federal government from total surveillance by a foreign state, no matter how friendly it may be."
"Germany has strict privacy laws -- even if many people now flaunt their data in a practically exhibitionist fashion on social networks. But that is their choice, after all. The federal government must explain what they intend to do about the immoderate and unwarranted clandestine surveillance of its citizens by American intelligence agencies. And whether the German services know about and possibly use this illegally acquired knowledge."
Left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes:
"Basic civil rights around the world, which are taken for granted far too naively in Western democracies, are being placed under attack by state 'security architecture' such as the US spying program Prism. In Germany -- where the relatively recent examples of two totalitarian state systems mean that the consequences of state monitoring in the private sector are still in living memory -- three things must result from this: clarification of the situation, defense and self-protection."
"It is right that the opposition has called for a radical review by the governmnent. But it is already foreseeable that the questions about what German intelligence knew will be rejected under the usual pretexts. The most popular argument is that the government best decides alone what kind of surveillance doesn't harm the public. Obama makes a similar argument about the need for monitoring measures by his intelligence agencies. But the German government shouldn't make the same argument. It may sound utopian, but it would be appropriate to offer fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden political asylum in Germany."
Conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
"Whether it's with Facebook, Google, Yahoo or Microsoft -- user confidence has been shaken. According to statements made by the source of the revelations, Snowden, all users should be asking whether they themselves, and especially their personal data, are in good hands with these companies." "For years, German Internet providers have complained among themselves about the tough data protection laws to which they are subject in the European Union. At the same time, they looked enviously at their American counterparts, who are obviously subject to very flexible data protection rules. But these days could be over now. European providers should take advantage of their data protection requirements as a unique selling point."
"But not all consumers are responsible enough to consciously choose services with strict privacy policies -- many are far too complacent for that. And herein lies a challenge for European policy, which should reconsider agreements with the US such as the 'Safe Harbor' data protection program in light of recent events. It says that European companies can transfer personal data from their own customers to America without hesitation -- because until now the country was considered safe. Even if customers are not affected by the current scandal, this much is clear: America is no longer quite as secure as a secure data port."
-- Kristen Allen

Texas Gov. Rick Perry launches ad campaign to poach jobs from New York, Connecticut

New York Post – by BETH DEFALCO
ALBANY — Them’s fightin’ words!
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is looking to lasso some East Coast business for his low-tax Lone Star State with a new $1 million ad campaign and trip next week to the Big Apple and Connecticut.
Perry has already begun airing ads on NY1 ahead of his June 16 visit.  
“Texas is calling. Your opportunity awaits,” Perry says at the end of the spot, which is filled with testimonials from Texas workers.
The ad buy, paid for by a public-private organization controlled by the governor, features two 30-second spots which are also slated to run on ESPN, CNN and other cable channels in the tristate area for a week, according to a statement from Perry’s office.
The visit follows previous excursions to California and Illinois, where Perry also urged business owners there to relocate to Texas, the second-most-populous state.
The commercials feature Texans “from all walks of life — from small-business owners and doctors, to top researchers and filmmakers,” Perry said.
While here, Republican Perry — who ran for president in 2012 and may do so again in 2016 — will meet with business leaders in the firearms, pharmaceutical and financial industries to tell them about the lower taxes and costs of living in Texas.
New York businesses already know everywhere else is cheaper. The state ranks dead last in sales-tax climate, according to the non-profit Tax Foundation, while Texas breaks the Top 10.
Texas has no personal income tax, while New York levies a personal income tax ranging from 4 percent to 8.8 percent.
“The main challenge for Texas will be figuring what to leave out of the commercial,” said E.J. McMahon, of the Manhattan Institute. “How will they condense all those advantages into 30-second spots?”
McMahon joked that Perry won’t need a very creative ad agency, but said that the greatest advantages come not from relocating individual businesses, but from businesses branching out and opening facilities in new states.
In February, Perry began running ads in California and Illinois, trying to lure people with promises of fewer regulations, lower taxes and less red tape.
His Web site compares the cost of doing business in Texas with those in New York, Connecticut, Illinois and California.
Some of New York’s newest regulations are already making it hard for businesses. Gun manufacturers in New York may be even more eager than other businesses to move following Gov. Cuomo’s tough new gun-control laws passed in January.
Dayton T. Brown Inc., which has tested weapons, armor and other equipment for the military, government agencies and businesses, for decades on Long Island, has said that at least one gun manufacturer won’t ship weapons to it out of fear of breaking the new law against assault weapons.
The New York law has exemptions for manufacturers but not weapon testers.
Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown quipped that Perry’s ads created “barely a fart,” saying they had no impact on the Golden State’s business economy.

Conservatives Pop the Bubbly: Obama Nominates America’s Biggest Walmart Enthusiast as Chief Economic Advisor

On June 10, 2013, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Jason Furman to become the next Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. This is a big-time, highly influential post. So what kind of economist is Furman?
One who thinks Walmart is the best thing since sliced bread.
For Furman, Walmart is nothing short of a miracle for America’s poor and working class folks. For him, progressives should be cheering the firm: he even wrote a 16-page paper entitled: ” Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story,” which was posted on the Center for American Progress website. Here’s a sample of Furmanomics:
“By acting in the interests of its shareholders, Wal-Mart has innovated and expanded competition, resulting in huge benefits for the American middle class and even proportionately larger benefits for moderate-income Americans.”
Furman has championed the company’s low prices as a big boost to lower-income folks, and views WalMart jobs as good opportunities, never mind the low wages. In 2006, Jason Furman wrote a letter to author Barbara Erhenreich, published on Slate, in which he extolled the Walmart business model:
A range of studies has found that Wal-Mart’s prices are 8 percent to 39 percent below the prices of its competitors. The single most careful economic study, co-authored by the well-respected MIT economist Jerry Hausman, found that grocery sales by Wal-Mart and other big-box stores made consumers better off to the tune of 25 percent of food consumption. That doesn’t mean much for those of us in the top fifth of the income distribution—we spend only about 3.5 percent of our income on food at home and, at least in my case, most of that shopping is done at high-priced supermarkets like Whole Foods. But that’s a huge savings for households in the bottom quintile, which, on average, spend 26 percent of their income on food. In fact, it is equivalent to a 6.5 percent boost in household income—unless the family lives in New York City or one of the other places that have successfully kept Wal-Mart and its ilk away.”
In Furman’s view, “the US productivity miracle and the emergence of Wal-Mart-style retailing are virtually synonymous.”
For the man who will have President Obama’s ear on vital matters like, well, jobs, the evidence of whether Walmart’s wages and benefits are substandard is “murky.”  And he doesn’t much care for those who question WalMart’s approach: In the 2006 dialogue with Erhenreich on Slate, he upbraided activists who had pushed the firm to increase wages and offer better benefits:
“The collateral damage from these efforts to get Wal-Mart to raise its wages and benefits is way too enormous and damaging to working people and the economy more broadly for me to sit by idly and sing ‘Kum-Ba-Ya’ in the interests of progressive harmony.”
Unsurprisingly, most progressives do not share Furman’s rosy view of Walmart. As activist and philanthropist Leo Hindery, Jr. wrote in his article “ WalMart’s Giant Sucking Sound,” the company’s business model has been detrimental to the American economy and sucks the vitality our of our communities.
Progressives may be unhappy about Obama’s choice, but conservatives are tickled pink. Over at the American Enterprise Institute, home to the country’s most fervent free market fundamentalists, no less than eleven economists have announced their support for the Jason Furman nomination: “We are pleased that President Obama … nominated … Furman …Although we often disagree with the administration’s policies and differ with Jason on a number of issues, we respect him as a superb analytical economist. If the Senate confirms his nomination to be the president’s chief economic adviser, we are confident that he will serve the president and the nation with distinction.”
This article originally appeared on: AlterNet

Detroit pension funds adviser to pay $3.1 million to settle SEC case

A Florida businessman has agreed to pay nearly $3.1 million to settle claims that he secretly stole millions of dollars from a City of Detroit pension fund to buy two shopping malls in California, according to a court filing today by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The SEC announced the settlement on the same day it filed a civil lawsuit against Chauncey Mayfield and several others, alleging that in 2008, Mayfield stole $3.1 million in pension funds that “could have provided a year of benefits for more than 100 retired police officers, firefighters and surviving spouses and children.” But Mayfield, a former investment adviser to two City of Detroit pension funds and founder of MayfieldGentry Realty Advisers, didn’t do it alone, the SEC said.
Four other MayfieldGentry officials at his firm helped him cover it up, the SEC said:
■Blair Ackman, 42, of Livonia, chief financial officer.
■Marsha Bass, 59, of Bloomfield Hills, chief operating officer.
■W. Emery Matthews, 40, of Detroit, former chief investment officer.
■Alicia Diaz, 50, of Grosse Pointe, former general counsel, executive vice president and chief compliance officer.
None have been charged with any crimes. They are only defendants in a civil lawsuit.
According to the SEC, the four executives gradually became aware of Mayfield’s theft and devised a plan to secretly repay the pension fund by cutting costs at the firm and selling the two malls. But MayfieldGentry could not raise enough capital to put the stolen amount back into the pension fund.
Mayfield’s Washington, D.C., attorney, A. Scott Bolden, would only say, “Chauncey Mayfield is pleased to have put the DOJ (Department of Justice) matter and the SEC matter behind him as he continues to move forward with his life, which is his ultimate goal.”
In mentioning the DOJ, Bolden was referring to Mayfield’s other brush with the law.
In February, Mayfield, 56, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., pleaded guilty to conspiring with former Detroit Treasurer Jeffrey Beasley to pay him bribes in exchange for new business.
Beasley, a former fraternity brother of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, is facing criminal charges on accusations of taking bribes in exchange for approving more than $200 million in pension fund investments.

Gold In Euros, Yen And Aussie Dollars May Outperform

by GoldCore

Today’s AM fix was USD 1,369.50, EUR 1,031.10 and GBP 880.93 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,376.75, EUR 1,041.89 and GBP 887.37 per ounce.
Gold rose $6.70 or 0.49% yesterday to $1,385.40/oz and silver surged to a high of $22.083 and finished with a gain of 1.58%.

Gold has fallen another 1% today despite weakness in Asian and European stock markets prior to an important decision by the German constitutional court about the legality of the ECB’s debt monetisation.
Technically, gold looks vulnerable of a fall back to test support at $1,343/oz and a breach of these levels could see  gold test support at the $1,300/oz level.

Gold in USD, 90 Days – (Bloomberg)

Global financial markets have been under pressure since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said last month that the Fed could decide to scale back buying at the next few meetings if the U.S. economy showed continued signs of strengthening.
However, much of the data and the fundamentals suggest that the U.S. is on the verge of a sharp recession. Therefore the Federal Reserve is unlikely to revert to conventional monetary policies anytime soon.

Global Money Supply Narrow YOY Growth – (Bloomberg)

Rising interest rates will be negative for most markets but not for gold which is correlated with interest rates as was seen in the 1970’s. During that decade, gold prices rose as interest rates rose and peaked as interest rates peaked.
Gold is vulnerable to rising interest rates towards the end of the interest rate tightening cycle when positive real interest rates are evident.
The surge in physical demand in Asia, seen in April after the unusual price plunge, has cooled off.
The drop set off a mad rush for bullion in India, China and Asia that pushed premiums higher amid a supply crunch. Dealers in Singapore confirmed to Reuters that demand for gold bars had eased and gold bars and coins were easier to obtain.
Meanwhile, holdings in SPDR Gold Trust ticked higher and the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund said its holdings rose 0.3% to 1,009.85 tonnes on Monday.
Gold priced in yen, euros or Australian dollars may outperform bullion priced in U.S. dollars in the coming months due to the financial and economic challenges facing Japan, the Eurozone and Australia according to Bloomberg Industries.
A pledge to double the size of the Bank of Japan’s balance sheet has already seen the yen fall sharply versus all major currencies and gold.

Actions by the ECB to potentially boost monetary stimulus amid weakness in the region have not led to material weakness in the euro yet.
A bursting property bubble, weakness in iron ore and coal prices in addition to lower benchmark rates have led to declines in the Aussie dollar in recent days and further weakness in the Aussie dollar is very likely – especially versus gold.

Global Money Supply YOY Growth – (Bloomberg)

However, financial and economic conditions in the UK and U.S. are not much better materially than those in the EU, Japan and Australia. Indeed the total debt levels, both public and private, are of a scale that may result in financial dislocations and will result in further currency debasement in the coming months.

Cross Currency Table – (Bloomberg)

Money supply in the U.S. continues to rise rapidly making the U.S. vulnerable to rising interest rates especially given the national debt has surged to nearly $16.75 trillion and the U.S. has unfunded liabilities of between $50 trillion and $100 trillion.
Contrary to some extremely optimistic analysis, the U.S. and Eurozone debt crisis is far from over and this is yet another interlude of calm before coming debt storms.

Gold Falls to 3-Week Low with “Talk of Slowing QE” Weighing on Markets

London Gold Market Report
from Ben Traynor, BullionVault
Tuesday 11 June 2013, 07:00 EDT

Gold Falls to 3-Week Low with “Talk of Slowing QE” Weighing on Markets

SPOT GOLD fell to three week lows below $1370 an ounce Tuesday, as stocks and commodities also fell amid ongoing speculation over when the US Federal Reserve might begin reducing the size of its quantitative easing program.

“Gold remains bearish while trading below the $1424 current June high,” reckons Commerzbank senior technical analyst Axel Rudolph.

Gold exchange traded funds tracked by Bloomberg saw their gold bullion holdings fall by 6.1 tonnes yesterday, although the world’s largest gold E.T.F. SPDR Gold Trust (ticker GLD) added metal for only the sixth day this year, raising its holdings by 2.7 tonnes to 1009.8 tonnes.

Silver meantime dropped back below $21.60 an ounce, falling towards three-week lo0ws touched yesterday.

Major European stock markets were down nearly 1.5% by Tuesday, after losses in Asia that followed the Bank of Japan’s decision to leave its QE program unchanged.

“Upbeat sentiment over the US economic outlook continues to feed concerns of increasing US yields and an easing pace to [quantitative easing],” says VTB Capital analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov.

“Volumes in Asia will be subdued due to holidays in China,” he adds, referring to tomorrow’s Dragon Boat Festival.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s raised its outlook for its AA+ US credit rating from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’ Monday.

“We do not see material risks to our favorable view of the flexibility and efficacy of US monetary policy,” said a statement from S&P.

A stable outlook implies the chance of a downgrade in the rating is less than one-in-three.

“The last time the rating agency moved to downgrade US credit in August of 2011, the markets were sent into a tizzy with equities plunging and gold soaring to a record high of $1920 an ounce a month later,” says a note from Ed Meir, metals analyst at brokerage INTL FCStone.

“However, this time around, the move by S&P did not cause much of a stir, as investors seemed to be more focused on erratic growth patterns evident across most industrialized economies, coupled with growing uncertainties with respect to what the Federal Reserve is going to do with regard to its stimulus program.”

So-called ‘Fed tapering’ – the potential reduction in the size of the Fed’s asset purchase from the current $85 billion a month – “is a big issue” former World Bank president Robert Zoellick said Tuesday.

“The question,” said Zoellick, “will be, as the Fed eventually moves away from the monetary easing policies, what will be the effect of [withdrawing]the wall of money that’s moved around the world?”

“[US] Labor market conditions have improved since last summer, suggesting the [Federal Open Market] Committee could slow the pace of purchases,” James Bullard, president of Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, which is not an FOMC member this year, said Monday.

“But surprisingly low inflation readings may mean the Committee can maintain its aggressive program over a longer time frame.”

The Bank of Japan meantime left its main policy interest rate on hold at 0.1% Tuesday, while reiterating its quantitative easing commitment to grow the monetary base by an annual up to 70 trillion Yen ($720 billion).

UK industrial production meantime fell by 0.6% in the year to April, according to official figures published this morning, while manufacturing production, a subset of industrial production, down 0.5% over the same period.

Over in Europe, Germany’s Constitutional Court today began hearing testimony on the European Central Bank’s Outright Monetary Transactions program, by which the ECB has pledged to buy the debt of distressed sovereigns on the secondary market to mitigate borrowing costs.

Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann, who has publicly criticized OMT, is expected to testify at the hearing, which has been added to an existing case before the Court over whether the European Stability Mechanism rescue fund breaches Germany’s constitution.

Weidmann’s fellow German Joerg Asmussen, who sits on the ECB’s Executive Board, is also expected to appear, as is finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

Ben Traynor