Friday, August 30, 2013

Asian shares mostly rise as Syria action on hold

By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian stocks rose and oil prices tumbled as a possible U.S. military strike on Syria appeared less likely, while the dollar remained not far from a three-week high against a basket of currencies after upbeat U.S. growth data.
While most regional emerging market currencies scratched out gains on Friday, the damage for the month was extensive as investors positioned for the U.S. Federal Reserve to begin tapering its asset-buying stimulus as early as next month.
European markets could feel the pinch of weaker heavyweight energy shares, but are expected to be little-changed at the open after rallying on Thursday.
Financial spreadbetters expect Britain's FTSE 100 (.FTSE) to open down 6 points, to up 2 points; Germany's DAX (.GDAXI) to open down 2 to 11 points, or 0.1 percent lower; and France's CAC 40 (.FCHI) to open down 3 points to flat.
U.S. intervention in Syria in response to what Western governments believe was President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons looked set to be delayed at least until United Nations investigators report back after leaving Syria on Saturday.
On Thursday, Britain's parliament rejected British participation in any military action against Syria, while China said there should be no rush to force U.N. Security Council action against Syria until the U.N. inspectors' investigation is complete.
But U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday that America will continue to seek out an international coalition to act together on Syria.
The dollar index (.DXY) was slightly lower at 81.916, after rising as high as 82.067 on Thursday, its highest level since August 5.
U.S. data overnight showed the U.S. economy grew at a quicker-than-expected annual pace of 2.5 percent in the second quarter. Combined with a fall in weekly jobless claims, this growth reinforced expectations that the Fed is gearing up to reduce its stimulus.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> finished up about 0.7 percent, managing a 0.1 percent weekly gain but a 1.3 percent monthly loss.
But Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock average (NIK:^9452) bucked the regional trend on Friday and gave up early gains, losing 0.5 percent and ending both the week and month with respective losses of about 2 percent despite government data that painted a brighter economic picture. Rising prices, falling unemployment, higher incomes and factory activity gathering momentum pointed to an ongoing recovery in the world's third-largest economy.
Against the perceived safe-haven Japanese yen, the dollar shed 0.2 percent to 98.13 yen, moving back toward a two-week low of 96.81 yen hit on trading platform EBS on Wednesday.
"If investors sell emerging countries' currencies and buy safe-haven yen, it will hurt Japan's exporters' shares, so we may have to brace for that possibility. Concerns on Syria have not faded completely, either," said Masanaga Kono, senior strategist at Amundi Japan.
The looming reduction of the Fed's quantitative easing has taken a toll on U.S. stocks, but emerging market currencies have borne the brunt.
The Indian rupee has tumbled more than 10 percent against the dollar so far this month, which would be its largest monthly depreciation ever if it ends around current levels, according to Thomson Reuters data. The rupee plunged to a record low earlier this week as policymakers scrambled for solutions.
The Indonesian rupiah has lost nearly 6 percent so far in August, which would be its biggest monthly fall since November 2008. On Thursday, Indonesia's central bank raised its main interest rates, the latest country forced to defend its currency as investors pulled out funds from emerging markets in search of safer destinations.
"The rate hikes are only a brief measure. Sentiment on the rupiah is really pessimistic, given the country's current account deficit and high inflation," said Yuna Park, a currency and bond analyst at Dongbu Securities in Seoul.
Brent crude prices fell 0.7 percent to $114.31 a barrel after spiking to a six-month high on Wednesday on fears that any foreign military action in Syria would destabilize the Middle East, which pumps a third of the world's oil, and would disrupt crude supply.
Gold eased 0.1 percent to around $1,406.29 an ounce, moving away from a 3-1/2 month high hit on Wednesday as fears over Syria prompted a flight to safety.
Copper prices added 0.5 percent at $7,185 a tonne (1.1023 ton), after sliding for a third day on Thursday and reaching their lowest price in almost three weeks due to the stronger dollar, concerns about Syria and slightly higher inventories. But they were still on track to mark their biggest monthly gain in nearly a year.
On Wall Street on Thursday, stocks ended higher in thin volume, taking back some lost ground after their worst daily decline since June earlier this week. Over the past two sessions, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) has gained about 0.5 percent, but remains down 1.5 percent for the week.
(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo and Jongwoo Cheon in Singapore; Editing by Eric Meijer)

Your tax dollars at work: Inside the United States’ $52.6B “black budget”

The United States’ “black budget” for fiscal 2013 amounts to $52.6 billion (or $167 per American), and it details what The Washington Post calls a “bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny.”
According to a new front-page story on Thursday, the Post says that it now has the entire 178-page classified budget summary as supplied by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. This entire budget comprises the annual expenditures for the NSA, the CIA, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and other spy and military agencies.
With respect to the tech-focused highlights, the Post notes that the CIA and NSA “have launched aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as ‘offensive cyber operations.’”
Additionally, it appears there are far more potential leakers than we once thought. According to the Post’s reporting, the “NSA planned to investigate at least 4,000 possible insider threats in 2013, cases in which the agency suspected sensitive information may have been compromised by one of its own.”
Not surprisingly, the documents also apparently show that the United States has its eyes particularly on the international community’s two biggest pariahs: North Korea and Iran. The US intelligence community has “all but surrounded [North Korea] with surveillance platforms” and “new surveillance techniques and technologies have enabled analysts to identify suspected nuclear sites that had not been detected in satellite images [from Iran]”
Since Snowden leaked his set of documents to the Post, The Guardian, and others, there has been increasing attention focused on the vast surveillance network that captures a huge amount of digital communications. However, as Ars has pointed out previously, storing all that data for long periods of time is near-impossible—so the NSA has to resort to short-term capture and then selective searching and filtered storage.
The Post reports that of the NSA’s budget, it was “projected to spend $48.6 million on research projects to assist ‘coping with information overload,’ an occupational hazard as the volumes of intake have increased sharply from fiber optic cables and Silicon Valley Internet providers.”

s00per s33kr1t

But it’s not just the NSA getting in on the SIGINT (signal intelligence) game. As the Post reports:
Even the CIA devotes $1.7 billion, or nearly 12 percent of its budget, to technical collection efforts including a program called “CLANSIG” that former officials said is the agency’s more targeted version of the massive data collection operations of the NSA.
The CIA is pursuing tracking systems “that minimize or eliminate the need for physical access and enable deep concealment operations against hard targets.”
The agency has deployed new biometric sensors to confirm the identities and locations of al-Qaeda operatives. The system has been used in the CIA’s drone campaign.
The NSA is also planning high-risk covert missions, a lesser-known part of its work, to plant what it calls “tailored radio frequency solutions” in hostile territory—close-in sensors to intercept communications that do not pass through global networks.
Sadly, neither the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) newly created Twitter or Tumblr accounts have a response to the new document.
“The United States has made a considerable investment in the Intelligence Community since the terror attacks of 9/11, a time which includes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction technology, and asymmetric threats in such areas as cyber-warfare,” the ODNI’s director, James Clapper, told the Post.
“Our budgets are classified as they could provide insight for foreign intelligence services to discern our top national priorities, capabilities, and sources and methods that allow us to obtain information to counter threats,” he added.
The Post has created an interactive Web feature to better understand the black budget.

Detroit stopped issuing death, birth certificates after bankruptcy

Detroit’s funeral directors received this unusual text message last month. “FYI, city of Detroit can’t process death certificates because they have no paper and don’t have money to buy any.”
The message, from a fellow funeral director, was mostly true: The city did stop issuing certified copies of birth and death certificates on July 23, days after the July 18 bankruptcy filing. That day, a nervous paper vendor demanded cash — and the city wanted to do business as usual, on credit.
FYI: In bankrupt and frequently bizarre Detroit, dying is easy. It’s proving you are dead that’s hard.
Cutbacks in hours, balky vendors, and the news that Herman Kiefer Complex will close Oct. 1 are all affecting the city’s death and dying business. The city’s vital records department will close and Wayne County will assume responsibility for issuing birth and death certificates, according to Bill Nowling, spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
“Have you ever heard such a crock?” asked Wallace Williams, president of the Michigan Select Funeral Directors Association, when asked about the paper shortage. “They told us they ran out of paper and it might take five days to get some.” Williams, who texted his 20 or so funeral director members, says the potential impact of a death certificate shortage was dire.
Without certified copies of death certificates, families couldn’t access bank accounts, file insurance claims, or access probate court. The families are often struggling financially, grieving and frustrated by any bureaucratic delay. And although funeral homes provide copies as a service to families, they wind up taking the heat.
While funeral homes and hospitals could file birth and death certificates on July 23, the city requires a special embossed paper for certified copies. Because the forms are unique to each jurisdiction, the paper couldn’t be borrowed — although some funeral directors tried to lend paper to the records department.
“Employees (at the vital records department) were sitting outside because they didn’t have anything to do,” says the Rev. Gleo Wade, Stinson Funeral Home director, who drove to the vital records department that day to see what was going on. “I’ve never seen the employees just sitting outside like that before.”
Funeral directors and employees had never witnessed a death certificate system collapse, either. Funeral home officials say the department is already understaffed and stretched thin. “People don’t understand that families become very upset when they can’t get the certificate.”
Bill Nowling, spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, says the problem was short-lived, once the vendor was assured payment. It was the kind of scenario Orr knew could occur from the beginning of his tenure here. Calming nervous vendors — the ones whose services are needed as part of the city’s function — is a new skill set for city officials.
Not long after running out of death certificate paper, the county told funeral directors it would no longer release bodies from the Wayne County morgueon Sundays, explaining that Sunday was a slow day for funeral homes anyway. The medical examiner’s office is now closed on holidays, too, but will make exceptions for religions that require immediate burial.
Funeral directors are not pleased.“Back in the day, they’d release bodies all day long,” said Williams, the funeral director association president.
“Death doesn’t take any holidays,” he said. “Death happens every day of the week and especially on weekends.”

U.S. Justice Department Gives State Police, Newtown $2.5M

The Sandy Hook security cash cow:
U.S. Justice Department Gives State Police, Newtown $2.5M
28 Aug 2013 Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday that the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance will give $2.5 million in funding to the Connecticut State Police and local law enforcement for their response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The Town of Newtown will receive $602,293 for police officers’ time during the past school year (Dec. 14, 2012 through June 2013) to respond to the shooting, provide public protection services afterward, and to monitor local schools. The State of Connecticut will receive $663,444 for State Police troopers’ overtime to assist Newtown police with tactical response and law enforcement activities… The Town of Monroe, which gave a vacant elementary school to the Newtown community to use as the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, will receive $882,812 for police officers’ time to secure and monitor the new school.

US banks earn record $42.2B in 2nd quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. banks earned more from April through June than during any quarter on record, aided by a steep drop in losses from bad loans.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says the banking industry earned $42.2 billion in the second quarter, up 23 percent from the second quarter of 2012. About 54 percent of U.S. banks reported improved earnings from a year earlier.
Banks' losses on loans tumbled 30.7 percent from a year earlier to $14.2 billion, the lowest in six years. And bank lending increased 1 percent from the first quarter. Greater lending helps boost consumer and business spending, leading to more jobs and faster economic growth.
Still, the report shows that the largest banks continue to drive the industry's profits while smaller institutions have struggled. Banks with assets exceeding $10 billion make up only 1.5 percent of U.S. banks. Yet they accounted for about 82 percent of the industry's earnings in the April-June quarter.
Those banks include Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. Most have recovered with help from federal bailout money and record-low borrowing rates.
Overall, FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said the second-quarter results "show a continuation of the recovery in the banking industry."
One concern is the recent spike in interest rates. Rates have risen since Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated this spring that the Federal Reserve could slow its bond purchases later this year, if the economy continues to show improvement. The bond purchases have kept long-term interest rates low.
Higher interest rates could have mixed impact on banks. On one hand, they make it more expensive for banks to borrow. But they also enable banks to charge more for loans.
"It's a tricky balance to strike," Gruenberg said at a news conference.
Losses on loans fell to the lowest level since the third quarter of 2007. Home equity loans showed the greatest declines in losses.
Another sign of the industry's health is that fewer banks are at risk of failure. The number of banks on the FDIC's "problem" list fell to 553 as of June 30 from 612 in the first quarter.
And so far this year, only 20 banks have failed. That follows 51 closures last year, 92 in 2011 and 157 in 2010. The 2010 closures were the most in one year since the height of the savings and loan crisis in 1992.
The FDIC is backed by the government, and its deposits are guaranteed up to $250,000 per account. Apart from its deposit insurance fund, the agency also has tens of billions in loss reserves.

Dollar Collapse and WW3 : Does an Invasion of Syria Signal a U.S. Dollar Collapse?

In today’s video, Fabian Calvo of AMTV discusses whether an invasion of syria signals a US dollar collapse.
Dollar Collapse and WW3 HAS BEGUN !!! WATCH THIS !

Guess What: You are an UNSECURED Creditor! Your Money Is Not Safe In The Big Banks from a Confiscating Government

“The plans for confiscation have been developed. They have been approved, and are awaiting the next crisis.”
by PTS
You know how frustrating it is when you experience a computer crash: you have the potential to lose family pictures, email lists, a college term paper, and videos taken on vacation. All of that information, GONE, forever, in the blink of an eye, if you did not back them up. But the same thing can happen to wealth, as especially illustrated by the NASDAQ outage of last week, except that your computer-hosted wealth can not be backed up.

But how many people understand that? How many people in your circle of influence realize that all of their wealth is nothing but a bunch of 1?s and Zeros floating around in some bank’s computer system, which could be wiped out in a nanosecond?
The real frightening thing is that wealth can be lost, not due to a computer glitch or technical hiccup, but by design. This video makes the scary point that plans are already in place to rob the citizens of the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and the EU in the exact same way as bank depositors awoke one March 25th, 2013 morning in Cyprus to realize that up to 60% of their wealth had evaporated overnight. Of course, the big banksters made sure that their money was safe out of Dodge before that happened. Cyprus, as this video says, was the “test run” for the rest of us. Could it happen here? Read More…

War is a Racket by Smedley Butler

JPMorgan Bribery Probe Said to Expand as Spreadsheet Found

Dawn Kopecki
August 29, 2013
A probe of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s hiring practices in China has uncovered red flags across Asia, including an internal spreadsheet that linked appointments to specific deals pursued by the bank, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The Justice Department has joined the Securities and Exchange Commission in examining whether JPMorgan hired people so that their family members in government and elsewhere would steer business to the firm, possibly violating bribery laws, said one of the people, all of whom asked to not be named because the inquiry isn’t public. The bank has opened an internal investigation that has flagged more than 200 hires for review, said two people with knowledge of the examination, results of which JPMorgan is sharing with regulators.
The scrutiny began in Hong Kong and has now expanded to countries across Asia, looking at interns as well as full-time workers, two people said. The employees include influential politicians’ family members who worked in JPMorgan’s investment bank, as well as relatives of asset-management clients, the people said. Wall Street firms have long enlisted people whose pedigree and connections can win business, a practice that doesn’t necessarily violate the law.

‘Real Jobs’

The SEC will hunt for evidence showing “these weren’t real jobs, that they were only there because their father or mother were important public officials,” said Dan Hurson, a former U.S. prosecutor and SEC lawyer who runs his own Washington practice. “If the public official requested the job for the child, that would be a strong indication to the company that the official was seeking and receiving something of value.”
The government hasn’t accused JPMorgan or its executives of wrongdoing in connection with the hiring inquiry.
“We are fully cooperating with regulators,” Mark Kornblau, a company spokesman, said in an interview. Michael Passman, a spokesman at the Justice Department, and John Nester at the SEC declined to comment.
“This is an example of the difficulties foreign firms face in doing business in China,” David Marshall, a Singapore-based banking analyst at CreditSights Inc., wrote in an e-mailed response to questions today. “The problem for the foreign firms is that local practices may be different from — and at times in conflict with — the legal and ethical rules under which they are required to operate.”

Linking Decisions

JPMorgan, which has been in the Asia-Pacific region for about 140 years, has a presence in 16 countries in the region including AustraliaJapanSouth Korea, China, Singapore,ThailandBangladesh and India.
The spreadsheet, which links some hiring decisions to specific transactions pursued by the bank, may be viewed by regulators as evidence that JPMorgan added people in exchange for business, according to one person with knowledge of the review.
The bank has hired law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, one of the people said. It also has enlisted King & Wood Mallesons and Herbert Smith Freehills, The Lawyer reported last week, citing unidentified people close to the matter. Paul Weiss is handling the U.S. probe, according to the publication.

U.K. Laws

The company is also examining its hiring practices in Europe and elsewhere, two of the people said. The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars companies from making payments or providing anything of value to government officials to win business. The U.K.’s Bribery Act enacted in 2011 imposes a broader ban on payments that entice anyone to improperly carry out their duties.
The Serious Fraud Office, which enforces U.K. laws targeting fraud, bribery and corruption, isn’t currently investigating JPMorgan’s hiring practices for signs of bribery, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
JPMorgan, led by Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, 57, is contending with criminal investigations of its energy-trading and mortgage-backed securities operations. The firm also faces U.S. probes of its anti-money-laundering safeguards, foreclosures, credit-card collections, and $6.2 billion in losses last year on botched derivatives bets by a U.K. trader known as the London Whale.

Dimon’s Push

The company has made bolstering internal controls and regulatory compliance its priority this year, Dimon told investors in April. Shannon Warren was appointed in January to lead a new companywide oversight and control group.
“We’ve taken some of our best people and we’ve given them command-and-control authority, we’ve staffed them up, and we’re going to fix every single last” problem, Dimon told investors at a June conference.
The bank made a reference to an SEC investigation of its personnel in a quarterly filing on Aug. 7, saying the regulator had asked for information about the “employment of certain former employees in Hong Kong and its business relationships with certain clients.”
The SEC requests have focused on two people in China whose parents have leadership roles at a state-controlled financial company and a railway, the New York Times reported Aug. 17, citing a U.S. government document it had reviewed.
After each appointment, the bank got assignments from firms connected to the new hires’ parents, according to the newspaper. The government document and public records don’t indicate that the employees helped JPMorgan secure the business or that the workers were unqualified, the newspaper said.

Doom & Gloom: ‘Unemployment bad to worse’, over 200 million people unemployed globally and no end in sight for the recession, massive social drama ahead?

With over 200 million people unemployed globally and no end in sight for the recession, the need for jobs has never been greater. Youth unemployment has reached critical levels and threatens to destabilize many countries. What can be done to create more jobs and kick-start the global economy? Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the ILO, joins Oksana to consider these issues.

Watch the full program here:

Peter Schiff & Jim Rogers – Dont Bet Against Gold! The Price Will Only Go Up! Prepare For A Full-Scale Market Mess!

Peter Schiff – Dont Bet Against Gold! The Price Will Only Go Up! You Won’t Win!, economy 2014, 2013 economic collapse, dollar crisis, gold price,
Jim Rogers – Gold Going Much Much Higher – Prepare For Market Panic

“when this artificial sea of liquidity ends we’re gonna see panic in a lot of markets, including in the US, including in West developed markets.”
Aug. 28 – Potential conflict in Syria and the scaling back of Fed stimulus point to a full-scale market ”mess,” says investor Jim Rogers, with the countries running trade deficits likely to be hardest hit.

BRICS To Protect Itself From The U.S. Federal Reserve
BRICS countries are building a joint line of defense in the event of new sharp fluctuations in global financial markets. The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa may announce the creation of a reserve pool of $ 100 billion during the G20 summit. This was stated by the Deputy Minister of Finance of China Zhu Guanyao. And the deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China Yi Gang made it clear that in Beijing the strongest impact on global financial stability is expected from the United States. Namely – the intention of the Federal Reserve to stop providing liquidity to buy debt obligations. Read more:

Iran puts West in 'Check' with Omani Gas Deal

The Iranian government announced this week it secured a long-term natural gas agreement with its maritime neighbors in Oman. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed to lead the country as a moderate when he was sworn in to office in early August.  The Iranian Oil Ministry vowed to move the country's oil and natural gas industries closer to the international community and the gas deal with Oman was touted as a breakthrough in a deal first discussed in 2007. Officials there vowed to move quickly on infrastructure developments. Either Iran is trying to show it's serious about engagement or its just window dressing as usual for the Islamic republic.
Iran holds the second-largest deposits of natural gas reserves in the world and most of those reserves haven't been developed. Its offshore South Pars gas field is considered one of the largest in the world, giving Iran the claim to the No. 3 spot in terms of natural gas production. Sanctions have curtailed some developments, though even the U.S. Energy Department said it expects Iranian natural gas production to increase in the years to come.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said a natural gas deal was signed with his Omani counterpart Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy during a recent visit to Tehran by high-ranking figures from Muscat. Zanganeh said the government would work quickly on determining the length and route for an undersea natural gas pipeline to Oman. He told the Oil Ministry's news service, Shana, he was tasked with picking an Iranian consultant to start examining the technical and economic issues of the pipeline soon. His Omani counterpart said both sides were "very keen" on the project.
Zanganeh said he was eager to do more to ensure Iran's oil can get to the international oil markets as well. He said the Rouhani administration is facing a wide-range of challenges "but we have to try out best to increase oil exports."
Western sanctions on Iran are designed to starve the government of export revenue it could use to finance its nuclear program, which the government maintains is for peaceful purposes. Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator, stuck to the mantra that Iran is entitled to nuclear research program but has suggested he was ready to continue working with European negotiators.
His oil minister stressed the Iranian energy sector was open to any consumer or country willing to invest in the country.
"There is no limitation to that effect and we will open once more the country’s market and potentials to win their cooperation in the new phase of the petroleum industry development," he said.
The visit to Iran by Omani delegates was considered a rare event in some circles. The United States counts Oman as a long-time ally and imports some of its crude oil. The U.S. State Department said the traditional market for oil field supplies and services in Oman should continue to develop. That means Iran would be walking, more or less, into western turf with its natural gas ambitions. Speculation surfaced during bilateral talks in Tehran that Omani delegates were carrying a U.S. message with them, though Iranian officials shrugged off the suggestion.
Two rounds of nuclear negotiations in the waning months of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration resulted in few, if any, breakthroughs. The United States was accused of acting like "a jerk" in its reception of the Rouhani administration and, with the 2016 campaign right around the corner, the situation is unlikely to change. The ball seems to be therefore in Rouhani's court -- either he's serious about leading the country out of isolation or he's playing the game just well enough to let his adversaries think they're winning.

SUPER-SIZED STRIKE! Fast-Food Strikes Expand Across U.S. to 50 Cities

National fast-food wage protests kick off in New York
NEW YORK — Beginning a day of protests that organizers say will spread to 50 cities and 1,000 stores across the country, a crowd of chanting workers gathered Thursday morning at a McDonald’sin midtown Manhattan to call for higher wages and the chance to join a union.
About 500 people, including workers, activists, religious leaders, news crews and local politicians, gathered outside the McDonald’s on Fifth Avenue. The protesters chanted “Si Se Puede” (“Yes, We Can”) and “Hey, hey, ho, ho $7.25 has got to go,” holding signs saying “On Strike: Can’t Survive on $7.25,” referring to the federal minimum wage.
The protesters plan to spread out to other stores throughout New York during the day. Protests are also expected in Los Angeles, Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., and other cities.,0,5191267.story
Fast-Food Strikes Expand Across U.S. to 50 Cities
Fast-food workers in 50 U.S. cities plan to walk off the job today in an attempt to ratchet up pressure on McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) and Wendy’s Co. to raise wages.
Protests that began in New York last year are spreading to cities including BostonChicago, Denver, San Diego and Indianapolis, according to the Service Employees International Union, which is advising the strikers. About 200 workers showed up at the two-story Rock N Roll McDonald’s store in Chicago’s River North neighborhood this morning chanting: “Hey hey, ho ho, poverty wages gotta go!”

The non-union workers are demanding the right to organize and wages of $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum of $7.25. They now make $9 an hour on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By simultaneously targeting the largest chains, including Yum! Brand Inc.’s Taco Bell and KFC, Subway and Burger King Worldwide Inc. (BKW), organizers want to force a sector-wide response.
“What the workers are trying to do is hold the corporations accountable,” said Mary Kay Henry, SEIU president.
SOUTHFIELD (WWJ/AP) - A local McDonald’s restaurant was forced to close after its employees walked out and hundreds gathered outside to protest for higher wages.
The restaurant on 8 Mile and Lahser roads along the Detroit/Southfield city line was just one location locally where fast food workers are participating in a nationwide “walkout for better wages.”
Going off track: Subway franchisees decry deep discounts as hospital-bound CEO struggles to right course
This summer wasn’t the best time for Subway sandwich shops — the world’s largest restaurant chain — to stumble.
Founder and owner Fred DeLuca — the driving force and vision behind the Milford, Conn., chain’s growth into a 40,000-unit chain — is in a Connecticut hospital getting treatment for leukemia and, he has told associates, is awaiting a bone marrow transplant.
Still, the 65-year-old billionaire businessman is directing the chain’s operations from a hospital bed.
The hands-on owner is still in daily contact with regional managers trying to find new ways to reverse the sales decline, a Subway development agent told The Post

The Only Reason the Markets Are Rallying Today

by Phoenix Capital Research

The market is rallying today on August performance gaming. The talking heads will claim this move has something to do with fundamentals, but the reality is that the move up yesterday and today consists of fund managers doing whatever they can to end this month with their holdings as high as possible. Nothing else.

This is obvious in that volume is too low (the lowest since 1997) and there are simply too many awful things happening in the world to warrant any kind of bullishness. Indeed, if you believe war is good for the markets, consider the recent moves in Northrup Grumman and Raytheon: both of them weapons manufacturers.

Shouldn’t these companies be spiking higher now that the war drums are beating?

Behind this backdrop of things getting “better,” things are in fact getting worse for the markets. The primary driver or stock prices since 2009 has been liquidity from the world’s Central Banks.

That era is now ending.

China has said it sees no need for future Government stimulus. Japan’s Abenomics is failing miserably with July retail sales dropping -0.3% (compared to the 0.1% growth that was expected). Angela Merkel of Germany has said that Greece shouldn’t have been allowed in the Euro. The latest GDP print in the US further bolsters arguments that the Fed should taper its QE programs.

None of these are positive for the markets which are back in bubble mode.
The liquidity faucet for the markets is closing. Few investors have taken note but the Central banks are already moving to take them system off of life support.

We’ll see how that goes.

If you have not taken steps to prepare for a market collapse, we have a FREE Special Report that outlines how to prepare your portfolio. To pick up a copy, swing by:

Best Regards
Graham Summers

Jackson Hole Conclave: Central Bankers Plan Global Theft, Massive Pain

Source: New American

The annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this past week (August 22-24), sponsored by the Federal Reserve, elicited a collective yawn from the establishment media. Since Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had announced earlier that he would not be attending — the first time in 24 years a Fed chairman has missed the annual confab — most media reports downplayed the significance of the conference and focused on speculation over how soon the Fed might begin its announced “tapering” program (Will it be in September, December, or January?), and by how much (Will it be a reduction of $10 billion/month, or $15 billion, or $20 billion?). An even bigger diversion was the speculation over the anticipated departure of Bernanke from the Fed and who his replacement is likely to be — with Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers leading the short list of candidates.
No Watchdogs Allowed; Only Fed-friendly Media Lapdogs Admitted
However, with the global economy teetering on the brink and the world’s central bankers engaged, along with their commercial bank partners, in vastly expanding their powers and robbing their customers and taxpayers of trillions of dollars, it is easy to see why they would welcome the diversionary coverage provided by the dozen selected reporters (from Fox, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP, New York Times, Bloomberg, et al) who were admitted to the conference.
The Fed conference roster lists these privileged lapdogs as official “Media Attendees”:
Binyamin Appelbaum, correspondent, the New York Times
Peter Barnes, senior Washington correspondent, Fox Business Network
Steven K. Beckner, senior correspondent,  Market News International
Martin Crutsinger, correspondent, the Associated Press
Pedro da Costa, correspondent, Reuters
Robin B. Harding, U.S. economics editor, Financial Times
Nell Henderson, correspondent, the Wall Street Journal
Steve Liesman, senior economics reporter, CNBC
Victoria McGrane, correspondent, Dow Jones Newswires
Michael McKee, economics editor, Bloomberg TV
Neil Irwin, columnist, the Washington Post
Josh Zumbrun, reporter, Bloomberg News 
“They’re going to take money wherever they can”
Famed investor/author and commodities tycoon Jim Rogers, however, sounded a very different tune from the “nothing new happening, don’t worry, all is well” theme that underscored the MSM treatment of the secretive banker huddle in Wyoming, at the ranch/conference center developed by John D. Rockefeller early in the last century.
According to Rogers, the “be happy” message is camouflaging the fact that “They’re going to take money wherever they can. … They’re going to take our bank accounts and retirement accounts.”
The “they” he refers to are the central bankers and their Insider commercial banker colleagues — and national governments, which serve as the collection agencies for the bankers. “This is the first time in recorded history all the banks are printing money at the same time. … This is the first time we’ve had massive debasement, and it’s going to end very badly no matter what they say,” Rogers said in a remote video interview with Greg Hunter of
“Whether they keep printing or stop printing money globally, it is going to end badly,” Rogers continued. “Banks are not going to be lending.  Financial markets are going to go down.  Currency markets are going to be in great turmoil.  It’s not going to be any fun.”  And if the money printing continues, Rogers says, “You’ve got bubble in some sectors, you have inflation, and then you have interest rates going up… and it’s a mess because printing money is artificial.  It’s never worked.”  As the economy slows down, Rogers predicts, “They’re going to take money wherever they can. … They’re going to take our bank accounts and retirement accounts.”  Rogers concludes by saying, “We’ve had perilous times, and it’s going to get worse. … It’s coming, be worried, be careful.”
Again, the “they” that Rogers is warning about taking your savings account, your pension, and your 401K are the very same members of the global theft cartel — banking and government Insiders — that the MSM lapdogs are holding up as the saviors of the global economic system.
IMF’s Lagarde: Central Banks are “Heroes” of Financial Crisis  
A condition of a journalist’s admission to the Fed’s highly prized soiree, it seems, is that he/she agree to function as a Fed propagandist, dutifully retailing the official narrative that central bankers are engaged in a great heroic effort to “stabilize” the faltering world economy, and that they deserve our unalloyed gratitude.
This was a major theme of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who told the assembled notables:
In many respects, central banks have been the heroes of the global financial crisis. Compared with conventional monetary policy, the unconventional monetary policies of the past few years have been bolder in ambition and larger in scale. These exceptional actions helped the world pull back from the precipice of another Great Depression.
“The challenge for today’s generation of policymakers is to rethink and reimagine how to get our economies back to work,” said Lagarde. “One of the most striking aspects of that has been the willingness of central banks in advanced economies to ‘dive into the deep end’ of the policymaking pool.”
Even more striking has been the supine servility with which the U.S. Congress and other national legislative bodies and executives have accepted these criminal usurpations of power by the central banks.
As Lagarde, Bernanke and their ilk “rethink and reimagine” the world, it is one in which they are totally unencumbered by constitutional, legal, and moral limits; they are at complete liberty to ‘dive into the deep end’ of the policymaking pool and craft whatever world they wish. Thus, Bernanke and his Fed colleagues simply decide on their own to begin “buying” $85 billion Treasury securities and mortgage backed securities (MBS) a month — with counterfeit money they’ve spun out of thin air. And, together with their global banking confreres, they shift hundreds of billions and even trillions of dollars into bailouts for European and U.S. banks.
Madame Lagarde, of course, is at the center of the ongoing global effort to “supersize” the IMF, that is, transforming it into a global Federal Reserve, but with even greater powers and completely unaccountable to Congress or any national government (seehere, and here). As we reported last year, in a January 23, 2012 speech to the German Council on Foreign Relations, Lagarde called for the major member nations to pony up a trillion-dollar “firewall” slush fund for the IMF.
In addition to the many Federal Reserve officials and central bankers, this year’s Jackson Hole affair included the usual complement of insider economists and academics. Among those in attendance were:
Fahad Abdullah Almubarak, governor, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency
Erdem Basçi, governor, Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey
Charles R. Bean, deputy governor, Bank of England
Marek Belka, president, National Bank of Poland
Alan S. Blinder, professor, Princeton University
Josef Bonnici, governor, Central Bank of Malta
Claudio Borio, deputy head of Monetary and Economic Department, Bank for International Settlements
Lael Brainard, under secretary for International Affairs, U.S. Department of the Treasury
James B. Bullard, president and chief executive officer, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Marco Buti, director general, European Commission
Agustín Carstens, governor, Bank of Mexico
Stephen Cecchetti, economic adviser, Bank for International Settlements
Norman Chan, chief executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority
Terrence J. Checki, executive vice president, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Luc Coene, governor, National Bank of Belgium
Susan M. Collins, dean and professor, University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy
Carlos da Silva Costa, governor, Bank of Portugal
Panicos O. Demetriades, governor, Central Bank of Cyprus
John Duca, vice president and senior policy advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
William C. Dudley, president, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Barry Eichengreen, professor, University of California, Berkeley
Martin Feldstein, professor of economics, Harvard University
Stanley Fischer, former governor, Bank of Israel
Donald L. Kohn, senior fellow, Brookings Institution
Arvind Krishnamurthy, professor, Northwestern University
Randall Kroszner, professor, University of Chicago
Alan Krueger, professor, Princeton University
Haruhiko Kuroda, governor, Bank of Japan
Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund
Sabine Lautenschlaeger, deputy president, Deutsche Bundesbank
John Taylor, professor, Stanford University
Linda Tesar, professor, University of Michigan
Christian Thimann, counsel to the Executive Board, European Central Bank
Prasarn Trairatvorakul, governor, Bank of Thailand
José Darío Uribe Escobar, governor, Central Bank of Colombia
Rodrigo Vergara, governor, Central Bank of Chile
Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, professor, University of California, Berkeley
Christopher J. Waller, senior vice president and director of research, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Meredith Whitney, chief executive officer, Meredith Whitney Advisory Group, LLC
Janet Yellen, vice chairman, board of governors, Federal Reserve System
Kei-Mu Yi, senior vice president and director of research, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Shenghui Zhang, chief representative, U.S. Office of the Peoples Bank of China
(For a complete official list of the conference attendees see here.)

Citigroup Sees Gold at $3,500/oz; Silver Jumping to $100/oz

by GoldCore
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,406.25, EUR 1,059.96 and GBP 906.79 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,425.50, EUR 1,066.03 and GBP 919.91 per ounce.
Gold rose $0.20 or 0.014% yesterday, closing at $1,415.70/oz. Silver ceded some its previous gains and closed down $0.17 or 0.7%, closing at $24.29. Platinum gained $9.45/oz to $1,531.20.

Gold fell from a three month high, its first fall in six days on profit taking after the likelihood of U.S. military strikes on Syria, at least in the short term, diminished. Prices rallied to $1,433.83 yesterday, the highest since May 14, partly due to concern about military action and the risk that it may lead to a deeper, more protracted Middle Eastern war.
Geopolitical risk, emanating from the Middle East in particular, has been underestimated for some time. Since the alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21, oil has risen sharply and gold has received a safe haven bid.
Gold and oil began rising in after hours trading on the day of the incident and since then gold is up 3.9% and oil is up 5.5% (see chart). From $103.52 per barrel to $109.25 per barrel (NYMEX crude) and from $1,355/oz to $1,408/oz today.
Gold and oil are often correlated particularly when there are sharp movements up in oil prices as was seen in the 1970s and in the period from January 2002 to July 2008 when NYMEX crude oil prices rose from less than $20 a barrel to over $140 a barrel.
An escalation of the crisis in the Middle East and the real possibility that Iran and Israel could become embroiled in the conflict means that there is again the possibility of oil rising to new record highs, with an attendant rise in gold prices.

NYMEX Crude Oil – Generic 1st ‘CL’ Future – (Bloomberg)

There are also growing concerns that the recent poor U.S. economic data and geopolitical uncertainty will lead to the Federal Reserve not slowing stimulus or ‘tapering.’ A continuation of cheap money policies will be bullish for gold.
Another positive factor for the gold market is the very delicate situation regardingpeak gold and supply from South Africa.
In what could be described as a provocative move, gold mining companies in South Africa are considering locking out workers. The aggressive move is being considered if labour unions fail to accept a revised pay offer.
The four unions in the gold industry have until 12 p.m. local time today to accept an offer from the chamber, which represents gold mining companies, to increase the wages of some categories of workers by 6.5%. Workers in the automotive, construction and aviation industries are already on strike to demand pay increases in excess of the considerable inflation rate of 6.3% in July.
The chance of a South African gold strike is ‘highly likely’ said Solidarity Union General Secretary Gideon du Plessis, in a speech in Johannesburg.

Citigroup Sees Gold at $3,500/oz; Silver Jumping to $100/oz
Respected Citigroup strategist Tom Fitzpatrick said in a telephone interview from New York with Bloomberg that gold and silver should surge in the coming years as the precious metals continue to benefit from the easy monetary policies adopted by central banks.
Fitzpatrick, who has a good track record, said that gold has put in a low for the year and will rise to about $1,500-$1,525/oz this year. A gain of over 6.3% from today’s prices.
He said that silver is in a strong uptrend and will likely outperform gold as the gold silver ratio will drop from its current level at 58.1.
Separately, in an interview with King World News’ Eric King, Fitzpatrick elaborated on why he believes gold could reach $US3,500:
“So we believe we are back into that track where gold is the hard currency of choice, and we expect for this trend to accelerate going forward. We still believe that in the next couple of years we will be looking at a gold price of around $US3,500.“
“As the gold/silver ratio plummets near 30, this would also suggest a silver price above $US100.”

Silver in USD – 10 Years, Weekly (Bloomberg)

Despite the recent gains, gold remains down 16% this year and this is leading to contrarian buyers buying gold at what they still see as discount prices.
Gold appears to have bottomed in June and is rising due primarily to strong physical demand for jewelry, coins and bars globally.
Gold is heading for a second monthly gain which is very important technically and from a momentum perspective.

SYRIA STRIKE READY: The Perfect Storm For World War 3

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