Monday, January 27, 2014

Religious difference, not ideology, will fuel this century's epic battles

We must encourage education and tolerance if we are to bring about peace in the Middle East and the rest of the world
Typing on computer keyboard
Technology – so much the harbinger of opportunity – can also be used to disseminate lessons of hate and division. Photograph: Getty Images
The last weeks have seen a ghastly roll call of terror attacks in the obvious places: Syria, Libya, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Pakistan. Also suffering are places where we have only in recent years seen such violence: Nigeria, and in many parts of central Africa, in Russia and across central Asia, and in Burma, Thailand and the Philippines. We can either see all of these acts of killing as separate – produced by various political contexts – or we can start to see the clear common theme and start to produce a genuine global strategy to deal with it.
The fact is that, though of course there are individual grievances or reasons for the violence in each country, there is one thing self-evidently in common: the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion. It is a perversion of faith. But there is no doubt that those who commit the violence often do so by reference to their faith and the sectarian nature of the conflict is a sectarianism based on religion. There is no doubt either that this phenomenon is growing, not abating.
We have to be prepared to take the security measures necessary for our immediate protection. Since 9/11, the cost of those measures, and their burden, has been huge. However, security action alone, even military action, will not deal with the root cause. This extremism comes from a source. It is not innate. It is taught. It is taught sometimes in the formal education system; sometimes in the informal religious schools; sometimes in places of worship and it is promoted by a vast network of internet communications.
Technology, so much the harbinger of opportunity, can also be used by those who want to disseminate lessons of hate and division. Today's world is connected as never before. This has seen enormous advances. It means there is a kind of global conversation being conducted. This is exciting and often liberating. But it comes with the inevitable ability for those who want to get across a message that is extreme to do so. This has to be countered.
At present, our screens are dominated by the hideous slaughter in Syria. We have to hope that the peace negotiations succeed. But with more than 130,000 dead – and, on some accounts, the total is nearer 200,000 – millions displaced and the country in a state of disintegration, it is hard to see how there can be a lasting agreement for peace unless it is based on a clear recognition that the Syria arising from this has to be one in which all people are treated equally, regardless of which faith they practise or which part within a faith they belong to. That will never work while either a minority religious group rules the country whose majority has a different adherence, or where those fighting the regime have powerful elements that also want to rule on the basis of religious difference – and are prepared to use terrorism to get their way.
This is not just a matter of what any new constitution says. Democracy is not only a way of voting. It is a way of thinking. People have to feel equal, not just be regarded by the law as such. Such religious tolerance has to be taught and argued for. Those who oppose it have to be taken on and defeated not only by arms but by ideas.
All over the region, and including in Iraq, where exactly the same sectarianism threatens the right of the people to a democratic future, such a campaign has to be actively waged. It is one reason why the Middle East matters so much and why any attempt to disengage is so wrong and short-sighted. It is here in the centre of Islam that so many of the issues around how religion and politics coexist peacefully will be determined.
But this issue of extremism is not limited to Islam. There are also many examples the world over where Muslims are the victims of religiously motivated violence from those of other religious faiths.
So the challenge is clear. And it is one that could define the nature of peace and conflict in the first half of the 21st century. The battles of this century are less likely to be the product of extreme political ideology – like those of the 20th century – but they could easily be fought around the questions of cultural or religious difference.
The answer is to promote views that are open-minded and tolerant towards those who are different, and to fight the formal, informal and internet propagation of closed-minded intolerance. In the 21st century, education is a security issue.
For that reason, when I left office, and in part based on my experience post-9/11 of how countries whose people were freed from dictatorship have then had democratic aspirations thwarted by religious extremism, I established a foundation whose aim is to promote greater knowledge and understanding between people of different faiths. This is not a call to faith – it is a call to respect those of all faiths and not to allow faith to divide us but instead to embody the true values of compassion and humanity common to all faiths.
The foundation is now active in more than 20 countries, including some of those most affected by sectarianism, with a multimillion-pound budget, full-time and part-time staff, and expanding rapidly. We focus on practical programmes. The schools programme, accredited to the international GCSE and recognised by the international baccalaureate, uses video conferencing and online interaction to link classes of students from different countries across the world to learn about each other and to learn to live with each other.
There is a university programme, which we are building into a minor degree course, that began at Yale but is now in more than 20 universities, including in China and Latin America, where students study faith and globalisation – essentially the place of religion in modern society. And an action programme, pioneered in Sierra Leone but now being extended, where we help deliver the anti-malaria campaign of the UN by using the faith infrastructure of the churches and the mosques.
Later this year, in collaboration with Harvard Divinity School, we will launch a new website that will provide up-to-date analysis of what is happening in the field of religion and conflict; in-depth analysis of religion and its impact on countries where this is a major challenge; and basic facts about the religious make-up and trends in every country worldwide.
Evidently, we can reach only parts of the world and be a small part of fighting a huge problem. But the purpose is to change the policy of governments: to start to treat this issue of religious extremism as an issue that is about religion as well as politics, to go to the roots of where a false view of religion is being promulgated, and to make it a major item on the agenda of world leaders to combine effectively to combat it. This is a struggle that is only just beginning.
Comments will be opened later this morning

CNBC Art Cashin Predicting Up to 4 Currency Adjustments by Sunday

you made the case to both kelly and me a little over an hour agowhy we could see an ugly close here today. why? well, ordinarily friday is the best day of the week. shorts tend to cover going into a weekend, but this is different because today we’re worried about currencies, and nations use weekends to adjust their currencies. they usually do it on a sunday when no one around. so it triggers a run for cover in the meantime. they want to reduce their risk profile going into this for fear that one, two, or four medications may adjust their currency over the weekend. we’re talking about not specifically but some of thecountries that have been a concern this week, argentina. you can go back to some of the eastern european countries,maybe some of the asian names last time around that were aworry, art. is it discriminant or not? is there a sense of who or where to look? well, i think it is — the difficulty is the possibility of contagion, and you’re seeing a couple things. you saw the slowdown in china, the concern about their banking system, and we saw that spread through the copper and othercommodity areas. now, today it’s interesting. we are certainly getting a slam bang sell-off, but five stocks in the dow provide about 40% of the sell-off, and they are names like caterpillar and boeing and united technologies – the high dollar stocks.they’re not only the high dollar stocks, but this five are a group who do a lot of business with emerging markets. overseas, exactly. assuming we close below 1800 on the s&p, what does that mean? well, i think it means that the bulls are going to have to do a lot of work to get things back in order. that’s some serious damage. next week will be critical. you have the fed meeting. i lean on the side of at least very active discussion.they’re going to take a look at these markets and say should wemove further? janet yellin does not like disruption historically, so it will be interesting. it will be her maiden voyage, so to speak. we’ll find out what happens.

Are We On The Verge Of A Massive Emerging Markets Currency Collapse?

Currency Collapse
This time, the Federal Reserve has created a truly global problem.  A big chunk of the trillions of dollars that it pumped into the financial system over the past several years has flowed into emerging markets.  But now that the Fed has decided to begin “the taper”, investors see it as a sign to pull the “hot money” out of emerging markets as rapidly as possible.  This is causing currencies to collapse and interest rates to soar all over the planet.  Argentina, Turkey, South Africa, Ukraine, Chile, Indonesia, Venezuela, India, Brazil, Taiwan and Malaysia are just some of the emerging markets that have been hit hard so far.  In fact, last week emerging market currencies experienced the biggest decline that we have seen since the financial crisis of 2008.  And all of this chaos in emerging markets is seriously spooking Wall Street as well.  The Dow has fallen nearly 500 points over the last two trading sessions alone.  If the Federal Reserve opts to taper even more in the coming days, this currency crisis could rapidly turn into a complete and total currency collapse.
A lot of Americans have always assumed that the U.S. dollar would be the first currency to collapse when the next great financial crisis happens.  But actually, right now just the opposite is happening and it is causing chaos all over the planet.
For instance, just check out what is happening in Turkey according to a recent report in the New York Times
Turkey’s currency fell to a record low against the dollar on Friday, a drop that will hit the purchasing power of everyone in the country.
On a street corner in Istanbul, Yilmaz Gok, 51, said, “I’m a retiree making ends meet on a small pension and all I care about is a possible increase in prices.”
“I will need to cut further,” he said. “Maybe I should use my natural gas heater less.”
As inflation escalates and interest rates soar in these countries, ordinary citizens are going to feel the squeeze.  Just having enough money to purchase the basics is going to become more difficult.
And this is not just limited to a few countries.  What we are watching right now is truly a global phenomenon
“You’ve had a massive selloff in these emerging-market currencies,” Nick Xanders, a London-based equity strategist at BTIG Ltd., said by telephone. “Ruble, rupee, real, rand: they’ve all fallen and the main cause has been tapering. A lot of companies that have benefited from emerging-markets growth are now seeing it go the other way.”
So why is this happening?  Well, there are a number of factors involved of course.  However, as with so many of our other problems, the actions of the Federal Reserve are at the very heart of this crisis.  A recent USA Today article described how the Fed helped create this massive bubble in the emerging markets…
Emerging markets are the future growth engine of the global economy and an important source of profits for U.S. companies. These developing economies were both recipients and beneficiaries of massive cash inflows the past few years as investors sought out bigger returns fostered by injections of cheap cash from the Federal Reserve and other central bankers.
But now that the Fed has started to dial back its stimulus, many investors are yanking their cash out of emerging markets and bringing the cash back to more stable markets and economies, such as the U.S., hurting the developing nations in the process, explains Russ Koesterich, chief investment strategist at BlackRock.
“Emerging markets need the hot money but capital is exiting now,” says Koesterich. “What you have is people saying, ‘I don’t want to own emerging markets.’”
What we are potentially facing is the bursting of a financial bubble on a global scale.  Just check out what Egon von Greyerz, the founder of Matterhorn Asset Management in Switzerland, recently had to say…
If you take the Turkish lira, that plunged to new lows this week, and the Russian ruble is at the lowest level in 5 years. In South Africa, the rand is at the weakest since 2008. The currencies are also weak in Brazil and Mexico. But there are many other countries whose situation is extremely dire, like India, Indonesia, Hungary, Poland, the Ukraine, and Venezuela.
I’m mentioning these countries individually just to stress that this situation is extremely serious. It is also on a massive scale. In virtually all of these countries currencies are plunging and so are bonds, which is leading to much higher interest rates. And the cost of credit-default swaps in these countries is surgingdue to the increased credit risks.
And many smaller nations are being deeply affected already as well.
For example, most Americans cannot even find Liberia on a map, but right now the actions of our Federal Reserve have pushed the currency of that small nation to the verge of collapse
Liberia’s finance minister warned against panic today after being summoned to parliament to explain a crash in the value of Liberia’s currency against the US dollar.
“Let’s be careful about what we say about the economy. Inflation, ladies and gentlemen, is not out of control,” Amara Konneh told lawmakers, while adding that the government was “concerned” about the trend.
Closer to home, the Mexican peso tumbled quite a bit last week and is now beginning to show significant weakness.  If Mexico experiences a currency collapse, that would be a huge blow to the U.S. economy.
Like I said, this is something that is happening on a global scale.
If this continues, we will eventually see looting, violence, blackouts, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks in emerging markets all over the planet just like we are already witnessing in Argentina and Venezuela.
Hopefully something can be done to stop this from happening.  But once a bubble starts to burst, it is really difficult to try to hold it together.
Meanwhile, I find it to be very “interesting” that last week we witnessed the largest withdrawal from JPMorgan’s gold vault ever recorded.
Was someone anticipating something?
Once again, hopefully this crisis will be contained shortly.  But if the Fed announces that it has decided to taper some more, that is going to be a signal to investors that they should race for the exits and the crisis in the emerging markets will get a whole lot worse.
And if you listen carefully, global officials are telling us that is precisely what we should expect.  For example, consider the following statement from the finance minister of Mexico
“We expected this year to be a volatile year for EM as the Fed tapers,” Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said, adding that volatility “will happen throughout the year as tapering goes on”.
Yes indeed – it is looking like this is going to be a very volatile year.
I hope that you are ready for what is coming next.
Wheelbarrow of Money

How Economists and Policymakers Murdered Our Economy — Paul Craig Roberts

How Economists and Policymakers Murdered Our Economy
Paul Craig Roberts
The economy has been debilitated by the offshoring of middle class jobs for the benefit of corporate profits and by the Federal Reserve’s policy of Quantitative Easing in order to support a few oversized banks that the government protects from market discipline. Not only does QE distort bond and stock markets, it threatens the value of the dollar and has resulted in manipulation of the gold price. See
When US corporations send jobs offshore, the GDP, consumer income, tax base, and careers associated with the jobs go abroad with the jobs. Corporations gain the additional profits at large costs to the economy in terms of less employment, less economic growth, reduced state, local and federal tax revenues, wider deficits, and impairments of social services.
When policymakers permitted banks to become independent of market discipline, they made the banks an unresolved burden on the economy. Authorities have provided no honest report on the condition of the banks. It remains to be seen if the Federal Reserve can create enough money to monetize enough debt to rescue the banks without collapsing the US dollar. It would have been far cheaper to let the banks fail and be reorganized.
US policymakers and their echo chamber in the economics profession have let the country down badly. They claimed that there was a “New Economy” to take the place of the “old economy” jobs that were moved offshore. As I have pointed out for a decade, US jobs statistics show no sign of the promised “New Economy.”
The same policymakers and economists who told us that “markets are self-regulating” and that the financial sector could safely be deregulated also confused jobs offshoring with free trade. Hyped “studies” were put together designed to prove that jobs offshoring was good for the US economy. It is difficult to fathom how such destructive errors could consistently be made by policymakers and economists for more than a decade. Were these mistakes or cover for a narrow and selfish agenda?
In June, 2009 happy talk appeared about “the recovery,” now 4.5 years old. As John Williams ( has made clear, “the recovery” is entirely the artifact of the understated measure of inflation used to deflate nominal GDP. By under-measuring inflation, the government can show low, but positive, rates of real GDP growth. No other indicator supports the claim of economic recovery.
John Williams writes that consumer inflation, if properly measured, is running around 9%, far above the 2% figure that is the Fed’s target and more in line with what consumers are actually experiencing. We have just had a 6.5% annual increase in the cost of a postage stamp.
The Fed’s target inflation rate is said to be low, but Simon Black points out that the result of a lifetime of 2% annual inflation is the loss of 75% of the purchasing power of the currency. He uses the cost of sending a postcard to illustrate the decline in the purchasing power of median household income today compared to 1951. That year it cost one cent to send a post card. As household income was $4,237, the household could send 423,700 postcards. Today the comparable income figure is $51,017. As it costs 34 cents to send one postcard, today’s household can only afford to send 150,050 postcards. Nominal income rose 12 times, and the cost of sending a postcard rose 34 times.
Just as the American people know that there is more inflation than is reported, they know that there is no recovery. The Gallup Poll reported this month that only 28% of Americans are satisfied with the economy.
From hard experience, Americans have also caught on that “free trade agreements” are nothing but vehicles for moving their jobs abroad. The latest effort by the corporations to loot and defraud the public is known as the “Trans-Pacific Partnership.” “Fast-tracking” the bill allowed the corporations to write the bill in secret without congressional input. Some research shows that 90% of Americans will suffer income losses under TPP, while wealth becomes even more concentrated at the top.
TPP affects every aspect of our lives from what we eat to the Internet to the environment. According to Kevin Zeese in Alternet, “the leak of the [TPP] Intellectual Property Chapter revealed that it created a path to patent everything imaginable, including plants and animals, to turn everything into a commodity for profit.”
The secretly drafted TPP also creates authority for the executive branch to change existing US law to make the laws that were not passed in secret compatible with the secretly written trade bill. Buy American requirements and any attempt to curtail jobs offshoring would become illegal “restraints on trade.”
If the House and Senate are willing to turn over their legislative function to the executive branch, they might as well abolish themselves.
The financial media has been helping the Federal Reserve and the banks to cover up festering problems with rosy hype, but realization that there are serious unresolved problems might be spreading. Last week interest rates on 30-day T-bills turned negative. That means people were paying more for a bond than it would return at maturity. Dave Kranzler sees this as a sign of rising uncertainty about banks. Reminiscent of the Cyprus banks’ limits on withdrawals, last Friday (January 24) the BBC reported that the large UK bank HSBC is preventing customers from withdrawing cash from their accounts in excess of several thousand pounds.
If and when uncertainty spreads to the dollar, the real crisis will arrive, likely followed by high inflation, exchange controls, pension confiscations, and resurrected illegality of owning gold and silver. Capitalist greed aided and abetted by economists and policymakers will have destroyed America.
About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
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Bank Run Fears: Customers Being Forced to Provide Evidence For Why They Need Cash

In early 2013 the country of Cyprus locked down private banking accounts and restricted access to depositor funds. It was the first widely documented instance of a “bail-in,” as bank officials and European regulators determined that bad loans taken on by the banks were now the responsibility of the banks’ customers. This led to a country-wide confiscation of 10% or more of all customer funds. In the heat of the Cyprian financial panic banks limited cash withdrawals to around $300 and ramped up security to prevent angry Cypriots from breaking down the doors.
What happened in Cyprus was big news all over the world, but within a few news cycles, once European and American officials assured the people it was a limited-scope event, the general population swept potential fears under the rug. No one really reported on the fact that the European Union quickly instituted new regulatory policies that would force bail-ins across the entire continent should such a crisis take hold again. Likewise, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke assured Americans that the crisis in Cyprus and Europe posed no risk to the US financial system, citing FDIC insurance for U.S. bank depositors as the safety net that would prevent a similar situation in the United States.
The United States, Europe, China and all of the world’s developed economies are, if officials are to be believed, completely immune to what happened in Cyprus. The current belief by the best and brightest is that these countries are simply too big to ever be faced with a total collapse of their banking systems.
But what if they were wrong? What if private debt reached such obscene levels that the loans taken on by lenders could never be repaid? What if a country like China, which holds trillions of dollars in cash reserves and has modern central banking regulations, did face such a problem?
Couldn’t happen, right?
It turns out, that’s exactly what is happening right now, as Chinese banks struggle to cope with nearly $23 trillion worth of potentially bad loans. Yes, that’s Trillion, with a “T.” The Chinese, it appears, have mimicked the exact set of circumstances that led to the 2008 crisis in America. Remember all of those empty cities and malls in China – they housed no people or shopping venues, yet cost billions of dollars to develop? It looks like all those bridges to nowhere are catching up with the Chinese. And the panic has begun, as evidenced by capital controls and restrictive withdrawal policies now being implemented by one of the largest banks in the world all across China.
Want to know how a bank run starts? Look no further:
 HSBC is imposing restrictions on large cash withdrawals raising a number of red flags. The BBC reports that some HSBC customers have been prevented from withdrawing large amounts of cash because they could not provide evidence of why they wanted it. HSBC admitted it has not informed customers of the change in policy, which was implemented in November for their own good: “We ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual… the reason being we have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimise the opportunity for financial crime.” As one customer responded: “you shouldn’t have to explain to your bank why you want that money. It’s not theirs, it’s yours.”
“When we presented them with the withdrawal slip, they declined to give us the money because we could not provide them with a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for. They wanted a letter from the person involved.”
Mr Cotton says the staff refused to tell him how much he could have: “So I wrote out a few slips. I said, ‘Can I have £5,000?’ They said no. I said, ‘Can I have £4,000?’ They said no. And then I wrote one out for £3,000 and they said, ‘OK, we’ll give you that.’ “
He asked if he could return later that day to withdraw another £3,000, but he was told he could not do the same thing twice in one day.

Mr Cotton cannot understand HSBC’s attitude: “I’ve been banking in that bank for 28 years. They all know me in there. You shouldn’t have to explain to your bank why you want that money. It’s not theirs, it’s yours.”
Via: Zero Hedge
As in China, the debt party in the United States has returned in force. We are now very close to the same levels of personal and commercial debt as we saw prior to the crash of ’08, but rather than being concerned the experts say don’t fight it, embrace it.
But as is the case in China, the debt party will soon be coming to an end in the United States as tens of millions of Americans see their wealth and jobs wiped out. Like the people of China who took on loans they can’t repay, Americans are under the gun. And in the near future, the same credit problems that gripped the world before will do so again. And this time we’ll be footing the bill directly from our bank accounts (rather than the Federal Reserve’s printing presses).
We may not yet have official regulatory or bank policies for restricting cash withdrawals here in the USA, but just try to head to your local bank and withdraw $5000 or $10,000 and see what happens. You will invariably be met with stares from bank employees and questions about your intentions and why you need that much cash.
We’ve already seen how fast they can lock down the entire banking system. It’ll only take a push of a button and everything you think you have in your personal bank account could be seized.
But then again, as Ben Bernanke has said previously, there is no risk to the financial system. Moreover, the FDIC has insured your money, so if something does go wrong with the American banking system, all of your losses are totally covered by the roughly $50 billion in FDIC reserves. That should be plenty of money to handle the $9 trillion in US-based domestic customer deposits, plus the $300 trillion in derivatives bets made by the banks.
So, no need to worry, because the government’s got your back (and they would NEVER think of using your deposited funds to offset any bank losses).
But even though it is impossible to conceive that such a thing might happen we recommend preparing for it just in case. We know FEMA will be there to provide emergency cash, food and recovery tents. But in the off chance the credit system locks up again, ATM’s are limited to minimal withdrawals, and the banks do seize your money you might want to have some food, supplies, gold, and reserve cash on hand.
We realize such a thing could never happen – not in the world’s most developed and richest economy. Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, government officials and TV pundits say it can’t. So, these extra supplies would be just for fun and entertainment – something to show friends and family when they come over so you can have a laugh about all these crazy Doomsday scenarios.

Criticism of the super-rich is like the Holocaust, says super-yacht owning Silicon Valley billionaire in WSJ article that has sparked ridicule

  • Thomas Perkins, 82, wrote of the 'parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its [San Francisco's] war on its "one per cent"
  • Referenced the protests against Google buses and tech workers driving up the cost of living 
  • Perkins is worth $8billion and built a superyacht worth $150m
By Daily Mail Reporter

A California multimillionaire has attracted ridicule after the Wall Street Journal published his letter comparing criticism of super-rich Americans to the Holocaust.
Venture capitalist Thomas Perkins, who is thought to be worth around $8billion, wrote to the paper  from San Francisco, where a class war is currently brewing over rich tech employees who are driving up the city's cost of living.
He opened his letter to the paper: 'Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its "one percent," namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the "rich.'
Mr Perkins describing the hatred attracted by Google workers in San Francisco and an incident in which his former wife author Danielle Steele was branded a 'snob' in the San Francisco Chronicle in a row over the height of her hedge.
He then added: 'This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent "progressive" radicalism unthinkable now?'
Kristallnacht translates as 'The night of broken glass' and refers to coordinated attacks on Jews in Germany on November 9 1938, as authorities looke on and did nothing.
Superyacht: Mr Perkins commissioned the $150m yacht Maltese Falcon which he later sold
Superyacht: Mr Perkins commissioned the $150m yacht Maltese Falcon which he later sold

Mr Perkins, 82, was educated at MIT before gaining an MBA from Harvard. He founded Venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 1973 and has served as a director on boards of companies including Compaq.
He recently spent $150million building a super yacht called Maltese Falcon and lives on a 60th floor, 5,500ft penthouse overlooking San Francisco Bay.
Comparisons: Mr Perkins referenced the Kristallnacht attacks on Jews in Germany in 1938
Comparisons: Mr Perkins referenced the Kristallnacht attacks on Jews in Germany in 1938

Protests: Mr Perkins also discusses the protests in San Francisco against Google buses and tech workers driving up the area's cost of living
Protests: Mr Perkins also discusses the protests in San Francisco against Google buses and tech workers driving up the area's cost of living
Before that, he was a general manager credited with building Hewlett Packard into the huge company it is known as today and started a successful laser company based on his own invention.

His comments comparing criticism of the rich to the Nazis persecution of the Jews that resulted in six million deaths have attracted ridicule from many.
Kaili Joy Gray wrote on the Wonkette blog: 'The parallel of Nazi Germany and some people getting kind of annoyed by the tech bro dudes is exactly ZERO.'
Author and New York Times writer Steven Greenhouse tweeted: 'As someone who lost numerous relatives to the Nazi gas chambers, I find statements like this revolting & inexplicable.'

Gold And Silver – Chart Reading More Accurately Depicts Fundamentals/Technicals.

Is there a difference between fundamental analysis v technical analysis?  A qualified yes.
How so qualified?  We do not speak for others, not even from the “technical” camp for
there is a distinct difference between strict technical analysis and “reading” a chart based
solely on price and volume.
We are not fundamentalists, at all, with emphasis on at all.  Nor are we technicians, as
most technical analysts, [TA], are.  TA rely upon a few or several technical tools as a means
of interpreting the markets, such as moving averages, [even used by fundamentalists, to a
degree], RSI, Bollinger Bands, MACD, trend lines, overbought/oversold indicators, etc, etc.
What we use exclusively is a combination of price and volume and read within the context
of the prevailing trend, for whatever time frame, monthly down to intra day.  The range of
a bar tells the ease, or lack of market movement.  The location of the close says  who won
the battle between buyers and sellers.  When volume is added into the mix, the market
begins to take on life, of sorts, that fleshes out the actual ebb and flow of the tug-o-war
between the opposing forces of supply and demand.
Fundamentals are an attempt to discover and measure the factors of supply and demand.
The biggest problem with any such analysis is one of timing.  There is none.  The other
issue is the degree of awareness of 
which fundamentals are the biggest drivers; some may
not be known or even recognized, leaving any such analysis incomplete.
Admittedly, we know nothing about fundamentals, by choice.  What we know of them is
that they are fully incorporated into the charts by those who know what they know and
ultimately make a decision to act upon that knowledge.  That action gets translated into
price and volume
.  It matters not if it is widely known information, insider information,
market manipulation, what have you.  It 
has to show up in executed price and be a part of
total volume.  Once information enters the market in price and volume,  it is a 
“got ya”
As to the more commonly recognized technical analysis, every tool is a derivative of
price and volume.  We simply choose to focus on the purity of the information in its
original format.  Derived technical tools are all attempts to impose past tense market
information onto the present tense in an effort to “predict” the future tense.
It is absurd for anyone to “predict” any future market action, especially the ones that
when price is going to rally or decline, and those that show a chart depicting the
future course the market 
will take.  Please stop, or at least review your own results.
The future has not yet happened.  There are aspects about the market of which we are
Anything can happen, at any time.  Every trade potential is a unique event.
Markets may appear similar, but the players in the current market are very different
than the ones from a similar past situation.  
How price will develop into the future isunknown and cannot be known in advance.
The market is based on probabilities, outcomes that are likely to occur, and howeverlikely they are to occur, no one can know how they will unfold.  You have a history from
the past two years of endless 
predictions on where the prices of gold and silver would be.
We have not kept a scorecard on the silliness of how wrong so much respected talent, and
lesser, varying degrees of not so much talent that have totally missed the mark.
Where do we stand in the overall picture?  We thought gold and silver would be higher,
and we have advocated the purchase of the 
physical metals, for reasons explained, but we
not advocated trading gold and/or silver from the long side, [save a few short-term
trades that were qualified as to why].  The 
only reason why the futures markets were
shunned  from the long side was for the simple reading of the charts: 
the trend has been
The primary reason for owning the physical has been as a form of asset protection, and
that has not worked well for the past few years as the value of silver and gold have been
on the decline.  Go beyond just the past few years, however, and the value of the PMs have
done very well.
Have other asset classes performed better?  Absolutely!  It then becomes a matter of
personal choice if one wants to own PMs, stocks, real estate, 
Bitcoin, even fiat currency.
Some assets will always outperform other assets.  Gold and silver happen to be in a class
of their own, with a proven history, not always as the best protection, at times,  but proven
consistently, over time.  They have no third-party counter-risk, and they are perhaps the
most recognized 
and widely accepted assets around the world, bar none.
As to the current charts, we are starting to see some subtle changes in market behavior.
The trend remains down, and we are not making a 
prediction that the trend will change
next week, next month, or whenever.  
It does not matter.  [Now we are referring to the
paper futures market].
The sole purpose for trading futures is to increase one’s capital of  fiat-based assets.  There
is always risk of loss, as many know.  For us, and for those who want to grow their capital,
the best time to make a market commitment is 
with the trend.  There is no reason to be
long in a declining market, and the number of profitable longs in either gold or silver has
been very small over the past few years, a handful of bottom-pickers.
As an aside, re bottom-pickers, there is almost nothing worse than being right for the
wrong reason.  It leads to bad habits of trying to replicate the lucky event.  Luck always
runs out.
When the trend turns up, there will be ample opportunity to be positioned from the
long side with a lower risk and a higher probability of a profitable outcome, but never
guaranteed.  There is no need to guess.  There is no need to predict.  Let the market take
its course, and 
then follow its confirmed direction
Will you catch the bottom?  No.  [Care to guess how may have tried and succeeded in
the past few years?] If you can consistently catch profitable trades, 
with the trend as it
develops for at least many months and more, does that not make plain common sense?
Price is knocking on the down trend door in gold, but that does not mean it is knocking
that door down.  It takes 
time to turn a trend.  We show gold testing a small 50% range.
There are two higher half-way points that price has yet to approach, so despite a decent
rally, last week, the trend has not turned.  How gold corrects lower over the next week or
two may well provide some important trend information.
Given how no one knows how the market will correct, it is best to wait and see what the
market reveals, first.
GC W 25 Jan 14
The daily shows in detail why gold was expected, [not predicted], to run into resistance at
the 1260 – 1270 area.  Always think of support or resistance as a 
price area and not just an
absolute number.  Thursday’s wide range, high volume bar was likely a combination of
short covering and maybe some new buying.  What will be key to watch is 
how price
retraces this last rally effort.
If the market intends to go higher, the next correction will have smaller ranges and lighter
volume, indicating less selling pressure.  If price corrects on increased volume and wider
ranges with weak closes lower, then the down trend will remain intact.
Let the market declare itself.
GC D 25 Jan 14
A Tale of Two Metals.  Silver acts differently than gold.  It is clear that the trend remains
lower with no sign of buyers taking control.  A picture of 1,000 words to which we need not
As an aside, how does one reconcile this chart with the fundamentals?  Everyone claims
the fundamentals for silver are ultra-bullish.  Does the chart match?
SI W 25 Jan 14
Silver has work to do to turn the trend around.  Looking at the daily chart, in some ways it
would not take much effort to end the down trend.
There are no guarantees that physical silver and gold will continue to be available at
current prices, maybe not even at any price until it adjusts to a higher level.   That is the
risk everyone who want to buy coins and bars takes, while waiting or trying to get a
better price or simply trying to outguess the market.
Everyone knows the vaults for physical-by-the-tonne are like Old Mother Hubbard’s
cupboards, and the premium for higher amounts of gold, to the extent any is
available, continues to grow.  No one knows when the available supply for physical-
by-the-ounce will also tighten.  
Anything can happen.
SI D 25 Jan 14

A Teeny-Weeny Bit Of Taper, And Look What Happened

All heck broke loose in equities, after an already iffy start of the year, and Friday’s hair-raising plunge across the board left the Dow down 3.7% for the week. They got clobbered worldwide: in Asia, except China, in Europe – with German’s DAX down 3.6% for the week and Spain’s IBEX 35 down 5.7%.
And emerging markets, oh my! Equities plummeted. And outright bloodletting took over the currency markets. The Turkish lira dove, though the central bank tried to prop it up. Argentina, which is desperately lacking dollar reserves and might not be able to service its dollar bonds, simply threw in the towel and let the peso devalue, rather than blow more dollars that it didn’t have on slowing down the fall. BOOM – 13% of whatever wealth was tied up in the peso has evaporated.
“Global emerging markets are now trading in full-blown panic mode,” explained Benoit Anne, global head of emerging-market strategy at Société Générale in London.
A teeny-weeny bit of taper, and look what happened.
Now Wall Street is lining up at the Fed, whining! And the media are diligently reporting that “the jittery financial markets” might or would or at least should cause the Fed to revert to the halcyon days of full-blown no-room-for-doubt QE Infinity. They want the Fed to get on it, and pronto, and do so with redoubled efforts.
Doesn’t the Fed get it?
“Given how poorly equity and currency markets have traded this week, Janet Yellen has the ‘perfect excuse’ to delay tapering at next week’s Fed meeting,” the Wall Street Journaldutifully quoted Tom di Galoma, co-head of fixed-income rates trading at ED&F Man Capital. “She is very careful about disruptions.”
These “disruptions” being losses of any kind.
Mega gains based on printing money out of nothing have become the norm. Everybody has gotten used to them. Wall Street players have gotten immensely rich off them. No one can imagine a different scenario. Nothing else is apparently allowed to happen.
Forget the corporate revenue and earnings debacle. Forget the employment quagmire, the lack of corporate investment in anything other than their own shares, the lousy shopping season, the layoffs in retail and tech. Forget the sky-high stock prices, the IPO bubble, the distortions and mal-investments. So long as the Fed prints enough money, asset prices will go up. And that’s the only bet left, apparently.
Good grief, how far as a nation, as investors, as traders, as risk-takers have we fallen, under the Fed’s noble tutelage that consists of doling out free money? Now these “risk-takers” cling to the Fed’s sullied apron like little children and beg for their livelihood.
Statistically speaking, the Fed’s heroic actions conquered the Great Recession years ago. The economy has been growing at a measurable clip, statistically speaking, with the unemployment rate inching lower over the years, though again, that’s just statistically speaking. But most Americans, struggling to make ends meet in the real economy far from the hoopla, hype, and buzz of Wall Street or Silicon Valley, have a more accurate answer. Read…. A Very Unfinished Recession, For Most Americans

Bank of America Investigated for Front Running

Reuters is Reporting:

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission have both held investigations into whether Bank of America (BAC) engaged in improper trading by doing its own futures trades ahead of executing large orders for clients, according to a regulatory filing.
The June 2013 disclosure, which Reuters recently reviewed on a website run by the securities industry regulator FINRA, sheds light on the basis for a warning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on January 8.
The warning, in the form of an intelligence bulletin to regulators and security officers at financial services firms, said that the FBI suspected swaps traders at an unnamed U.S. bank and an unnamed Canadian bank may have been involved in market manipulation and front running of orders from U.S. government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC).
Reuters has since learned that Bank of America’s trading practices regarding Fannie and Freddie are the subject of probes, and that the investigations are ongoing.
Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin declined comment when asked abut the investigations.
The disclosure on the FINRA site doesn’t specifically accuse Bank of America of any wrongdoing.
It says: “We understand that the (U.S. Attorney’s Office) is investigating whether it was proper for the swaps desk to execute futures trades prior to the desk’s execution of block future trades on behalf of counterparties.”

New property tax could leave Greeks homeless

In Greece hundreds of thousands of homeowners are struggling to pay a new property tax. The tax is one of many introduced by the government, as it tries to balance its crisis-ravaged budget. But the tax could force some people out of their homes.

Walmart To Lay Off 2,300 Sam's Club Employees

Walmart plans to lay off roughly 2,300 employees of Sam's Club, the retail giant's membership-only club, CNBC reported via Twitter Friday. A large number of those getting laid off will be assistant managers at stores with weak sales, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Sam's Club on its own is the eighth largest retailer in the country, according to the company's website. More from the Associated Press:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is eliminating 2,300 workers at its Sam's Club division as it reduces the ranks of middle managers in a bid to be more nimble. The layoffs, which cut 2 percent of the membership club's employee count of about 116,000, mark the largest since 2010 when the Sam's Club unit laid off 10,000 workers as it moved to outsource food demonstrations at its stores.
Bill Durling, a spokesman at Sam's Club, says that a little less than half of the cuts were aimed at salaried assistant managers. It is also eliminating some hourly workers.
The cuts come as Sam's Club strives to compete with Costco Wholesale Corp. and online players like's Prime membership service.
Wal-Mart is based in Bentonville, Ark.

Contagion Spreads in Emerging Markets as Crises Grow

The worst selloff in emerging-market currencies in five years is beginning to reveal the extent of the fallout from the Federal Reserve’s tapering of monetary stimulus, compounded by political and financial instability.
The Turkish lira plunged to a record and South Africa’s rand fell yesterday to a level weaker than 11 per dollar for the first time since 2008. Argentine policy makers devalued the peso by reducing support in the foreign-exchange market, allowing the currency to drop the most in 12 years to an unprecedented low.
Investors are losing confidence in some of the biggest developing nations, extending the currency-market rout triggered last year when the Fed first signaled it would scale back stimulus. While Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were the engines of global growth following the financial crisis in 2008, emerging markets now pose a threat to world financial stability.
“The current environment is potentially very toxic for emerging markets,” Eamon Aghdasi, a strategist at Societe Generale SA in New York, said in a phone interview yesterday. “You have two very troubling things: uncertainty about the Fed policy, combined with concerns about growth, particularly in China. It’s difficult to justify that it’s time to go out and buy emerging markets at the moment.”

Global Declines

Developing-nation currencies sold off after a report from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics indicated yesterday that China’s manufacturing may contract for the first time in six months, adding to concern that growth is losing momentum.
The declines were part of a broader slide in global markets today, with stocks in Asia, Europe and the U.S. tumbling. Yields on 10-year German bunds slipped to an 11-week low, while the yen, considered by investors as a haven, rose versus all 16 major counterparts tracked by Bloomberg.
Currencies of commodity-exporting countries that depend on Chinese demand sank, with the rand plunging 0.9 percent, following yesterday’s 1.1 percent decline. Brazil’s real fell 0.1 percent while Chile’s peso sank 0.3 percent after decreasing 1.2 percent yesterday.
Argentina’s peso fell 12 percent yesterday, marking its biggest decline since a devaluation in 2002. It sank an additional 1.5 percent today to 8.0014 per dollar. The central bank pared dollar sales aimed at propping up the peso to preserve international reserves that have fallen to a seven-year low. Today the central bank said it would lift two-year-old currency controls and allow the purchase of dollars for savings starting next week. The peso traded at around 13 per dollar in the black market yesterday.

Venezuela Reserves

In Venezuela, the government devalued its currency for airline tickets and incoming foreign direct investment on Jan. 22. International reserves are at a 10-year low.
The Turkish central bank’s first unscheduled intervention in more than two years wasn’t enough to stop the lira from setting a record low today. Investors are speculating the central bank’s efforts to prop up the lira by burning through foreign-exchange reserves will prove futile without raising interest rates.
The lira plunged to a record 2.336 per dollar and also declined to an all-time intraday low of 3.2069 per euro. Turkey’s central bank refrained from raising benchmark rates this week, fueling concern that it will be difficult to finance current-account deficits.
Turkey holds about $33 billion in foreign reserves, excluding deposits from commercial banks, only enough to cover 1 1/2 months of imports, according to Citigroup Inc.

‘Bad Storm’

“It’s a bad storm,” Neil Azous, the founder of Rareview Macro LLC, a Stamford, Connecticut-based advisory and research firm, said in a phone interview yesterday. “Their net foreign-exchange reserves are dwindling pretty fast. They’re definitely in the danger zone. If you’re a money manager, the responsible action is to take some measures to reduce risk.”
The International Monetary Fund predicts that the growth advantage of emerging markets over advanced economies will shrink this year to the smallest since 2001. The Washington-based group kept its expansion forecast for developing countries this year at 5.1 percent on Jan. 21, while raising the outlook for advanced economies to 2.2 percent, from the 2 percent estimated in October.
China is struggling to contain $4.8 trillion in shadow-banking debt, raising concern about the growth outlook for a country that buys everything from Chile’s copper to Brazil’s iron ore. A corruption investigation is embroiling Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s cabinet, while deadly protests in Ukraine and Thailand are eroding confidence in the political stability of developing nations.

‘Gradual Erosion’

“The gradual erosion of sentiment for the EMs, owing to the perception that several EM economies or countries are ‘on the brink,’ simply made the run on reserves in Argentina and the poor China data the ‘straws that broke the camel’s back’,” Thierry Albert Wizman, a strategist at Macquarie Group Ltd. in New York, wrote in an e-mail to clients yesterday.
A Bloomberg customized gauge tracking 20 emerging-market currencies fell 0.4 percent to 89.8 today, the lowest level since April 2009. The index has tumbled 9.7 percent over the past 12 months, bigger than any annual decline since it slid 15 percent in 2008.

Fatal Protests

Ukraine’s hryvnia has slumped as Parliament planned to hold an emergency session after anti-government protests led to fatalities this week. The currency fell as low as 8.48 per dollar, the weakest since 2009, before reversing losses to gain 0.1 to 8.435 per dollar.
South Africa’s rand tumbled as much as 1.8 percent to 11.1949 per dollar today on concern a strike at the world’s biggest platinum mines would dent the country’s exports.
The selloff in emerging-market currencies started in May, when the Fed signaled it may pare the monthly asset purchases that had helped fuel investment in developing nations. Yields on U.S. Treasuries rose in response.
“In an environment of rising U.S. rates, the market is quickly finding out who has been swimming naked,” Dirk Willer, a Latin America strategist at Citigroup, the second-largest currency trader, wrote in a client note. He said it’s “not unreasonable” for the Argentine peso to fall to 14 per dollar.

Buying Opportunities

The recent weakness has created buying opportunities for some emerging markets with stronger economic prospects, according to Marcela Meirelles, a Latin America sovereign strategist at TCW Group Inc.
“This selloff will create eventually good buying opportunities of those EM credits with strong fundamentals and there is still no shortage of them around the world,” Meirelles said in an e-mailed reply to questions.
HSBC recommends clients buy the Mexican peso against the Chilean peso, saying Mexico’s currency will benefit from expansion in the U.S. as efforts to open up the energy industry to outside investment boost its southern neighbor’s long-term growth potential.
While differentiation is important, the end of China’s “investment and export boom” may still put emerging-market currencies on a declining trend, according to Morgan Stanley.
“We continue to see the risks surrounding China’s macro trajectory as having a negative impact on EM,” Rashique Rahman, the New York-based co-head of foreign-exchange and emerging-market strategy at Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note yesterday. “As capital costs rise and investment slows, commodity prices should come under pressure, boding poorly for economies linked to China’s old growth model.”

Brazil’s Real

Morgan Stanley has a “reduce” rating on emerging-market currencies, while recommending selling the Russian ruble against the dollar.
Brazil’s real fell to a five-month low of 2.4327 per dollar today and has lost 28 percent over the past two years. Brazil should return to the policies of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to boost growth, tame rising consumer prices and attract foreign investment, Pacific Investment Management Co. said yesterday.
“Valuations are attractive, but unless an effective policy mix is restored, the outlook for order in Brazil’s financial markets is less certain,” Michael Gomez, the co-head of emerging markets, said in a report published on the fund’s website yesterday.
Pimco Chief Investment Officer Bill Gross said last week that Brazil was no longer a preferred market. The comment came more than a decade after the firm bought the country’s bonds as they plunged before presidential elections in 2002, a bet that proved prescient.
“The market is punishing those countries with bad policies and politics,” Bhanu Baweja, the head of emerging-market cross-asset strategy at UBS AG, said by phone from London. “There isn’t panic, but we are not finished yet. There’s no reason to buy emerging for now.”

Greg Hunter: America’s Trust in Mainstream Media is Down Since Financial Crisis

Wall St for Main St interviewed Greg Hunter, who is the Publisher and Creator of In this intense podcast, we discussed the culture of the mainstream media and why over 70% of American no longer trust the mainstream media. Also, we discuss the rise of Alternative media and how it impact journalism and news going forward. Plus much more!
Check out Greg’s web site at
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HSBC imposes restrictions on large cash withdrawals

Some HSBC customers have been prevented from withdrawing large amounts of cash because they could not provide evidence of why they wanted it, the BBC has learnt.
Listeners have told Radio 4's Money Box they were stopped from withdrawing amounts ranging from £5,000 to £10,000.
HSBC admitted it has not informed customers of the change in policy, which was implemented in November.
The bank says it has now changed its guidance to staff.
New rules Stephen Cotton went to his local HSBC branch this month to withdraw £7,000 from his instant access savings account to pay back a loan from his mother.
A year before, he had withdrawn a larger sum in cash from HSBC without a problem.
But this time it was different, as he told Money Box: "When we presented them with the withdrawal slip, they declined to give us the money because we could not provide them with a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for. They wanted a letter from the person involved."
Mr Cotton says the staff refused to tell him how much he could have: "So I wrote out a few slips. I said, 'Can I have £5,000?' They said no. I said, 'Can I have £4,000?' They said no. And then I wrote one out for £3,000 and they said, 'OK, we'll give you that.' "
He asked if he could return later that day to withdraw another £3,000, but he was told he could not do the same thing twice in one day.

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As this was not a change to the Terms and Conditions of your bank account we had no need to pre-notify customers of the change”
HSBC customer letter
He wrote to complain to HSBC about the new rules and also that he had not been informed of any change.
The bank said it did not have to tell him. "As this was not a change to the Terms and Conditions of your bank account, we had no need to pre-notify customers of the change," HSBC wrote.
Frustrated customers Mr Cotton cannot understand HSBC's attitude: "I've been banking in that bank for 28 years. They all know me in there. You shouldn't have to explain to your bank why you want that money. It's not theirs, it's yours."
Peter from Wiltshire, who wanted his surname withheld, had a similar experience.
He wanted to take out £10 000 cash from HSBC, some to pay to his sons and some to fund his long-haul travel plans.
Peter phoned up the day before to give HSBC notice and everything seemed to be fine.
The next day he got a call from his local branch asking him to pay his sons via a bank payment and to provide booking receipts for his holidays. Peter did not have any booking receipts to show.
The following day he spoke to HSBC again and this time, having examined his account, it said he could withdraw the £10,000.
Belinda Bell is another customer who was initially denied her cash, in her case to pay her builder. She told Money Box she had to provide the builder's quote.
Customer protection HSBC has said that following customer feedback, it was changing its policy: "We ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual and out of keeping with the normal running of their account. Since last November, in some instances we may have also asked these customers to show us evidence of what the cash is required for."
"The reason being we have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimise the opportunity for financial crime. However, following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals, and on its own, failure to show evidence is not a reason to refuse a withdrawal. We are writing to apologise to any customer who has been given incorrect information and inconvenienced."

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In a sense your money becomes pocket money and the bank becomes your parent”
Douglas Carswell MP for Clacton
Money Box asked other banks what their policy is on large cash withdrawals.
They all said they reserved the right to ask questions about large cash withdrawals.
But none of them said they would require evidence of what the money was being used for before paying out.
Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, is alarmed by the new HSBC policy: "All these regulations which have been imposed on banks allow enormous interpretation. It basically infantilises the customer. In a sense your money becomes pocket money and the bank becomes your parent."
But Eric Leenders, head of retail at the British Bankers Association, said banks were sensible to ask questions of their customers: "I can understand it's frustrating for customers. But if you are making the occasional large cash withdrawal, the bank wants to make sure it's the right way to make the payment."
Money Box is broadcast on Saturdays at 12:00 BST on BBC Radio 4 and repeated on Sundays at 21:00 BST. You can listen again via the BBC iPlayer or by downloading Money Box podcast.
What has your experience been of trying to withdraw a large sum of cash from your bank? Let us know your views.