Meet Liu He – The Hyper-Interventionist Frontrunner To Lead China’s Central Bank

As the People’s Bank of China’s longtime leader Zhou Xiaochuan prepares for retirement in March, speculation about who Chinese leader Xi Jinping might choose to succeed him is mounting – and according to Reuters, a formerly dark horse candidate is now being viewed with increasing certainty as Xi’s likely pick. 

His name is Liu He, and he’s both a senior government bureaucrat and longtime friend of Xi. Insiders say Liu has leapfrogged two other candidates as part of the wide-ranging government reshuffle that has accompanied Xi’s elevation to supreme leader during November’s Congress.

If he is, in fact, chosen to succeed Zhou, Liu could become one of the  most powerful central-bank governors in modern Chinese history.

Liu may be in a position to become one of China’s most powerful economic and financial officials ever, as he is already top adviser to Xi on economic policy and is also expected to become vice premier overseeing the economy.

Liu would replace current PBOC chief, 70-year-old Zhou Xiaochuan, who is China’s longest-running head of the central bank, having taken the job in 2002. Zhou is expected to retire around the time of the annual session of parliament in March, sources previously told Reuters.

The change would be part of a wider government reshuffle following the 19th Communist Party Congress in October last year, during which Xi laid out his vision for China’s long-term development, and elevated his key allies.

Speculation has been rife for months over the choice of the next central bank governor. Xi will have the final say, and the sources noted that while Liu is clearly the frontrunner he is not yet certain to get the job.

Just before last October’s Congress, sources told Reuters that China’s banking regulator head Guo Shuqing and veteran banker Jiang Chaoliang were leading contenders for the PBOC job.

Not only would Liu – who was educated at Harvard and speaks fluent English – be responsible for running the central bank, Reuters  says he is also set to become one of China’s four vice premiers who would oversee the economy and financial sector.

Reuters sources previously said that Liu was in line to become one of China’s four vice premiers, and that he would oversee the economy and financial sector. Whether he might hold both positions concurrently is unclear. As Reuters points out, only Zhu Rongji in the early-1990s held both the posts of vice premier and central bank governor simultaneously. Zhu later went on to become China’s premier from 1998-2003.

PBOC

As Reuters points out, the PBOC is different from Western central banks in that it doesn’t have control over monetary policy – decisions on interest rates and the yuan are still governed by policies determined by the Party leadership. In a strategy that has repeatedly been employed by Chinese officials, Liu dangled the prospect of an open, internationalized economy in front of his audience at Davos last month, saying the country might soon roll out market-opening measures that would exceed “international expectations.”

But the next leader of the central bank will face tough challenges as he will have to walk a tightrope between ensuring economic stability and pushing reforms to rein in debt risks.

But perhaps most importantly of all, Liu has one key advantage over his rivals that, in addition to his friendship with and support of Xi Jinping, would probably aid his oversight of one of the world’s largest economies: He currently heads a government office in charge of preserving financial stability, and as a result almost undoubtedly had a hand in last night’s shocking news that Chinese regulators had decided to take control of Anbang Insurance – one of the country’s “big four” hyperleveraged conglomerates. That move was first announced by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.

He was also widely seen by political analysts as being behind the voice of an unnamed “authoritative person” who wrote in the People’s Daily, the party’s mouthpiece, in May 2016 warning about risks from the country’s debt-driven growth model.

Liu, like Zhou, stands out among Chinese bureaucrats because of his grey hair. Many top officials dye their hair jet-black.

Liu, who currently heads the General Office of the ruling Communist Party’s Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, is also set to become the head of the cabinet-level Financial Stability and Development Committee (FSDC), sources previously told Reuters.

He has been closely following Xi on regional tours and meetings with foreign leaders. When then-U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon visited Beijing in 2013, Xi introduced Liu as “very important to me”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The PBOC also recently shut down VIX trading, purportedly to halt market turbulence. Liu and Xi share a uniquely Chinese family history: that is, both their families were purged during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, and both their fathers were senior government officials.

“Without the reflection on the catastrophe of the Cultural Revolution, it is impossible for China to have today’s economic growth,” Liu said in an article published in 2017.

Amazingly, sources tell Reuters that Liu and Xi have been friendly since their teens, and have always kept in touch.

LA Has Criminalized Poverty By Making It Illegal To Sleep In Cars And RVs

Authored by John Vibes via The Mind Unleashed blog,

Raising rent prices and low wages have resulted in thousands of people across the city of Los Angeles becoming homeless, many of them now living in cars and RVs if they were able to keep it together that well.

According to the most recent counts by the KPCC, there are at least 7,000 people live in their cars in Los Angeles.

Many of these people still maintain jobs and try to live the most fulfilled lives that they can, but they are constantly facing problems from authorities.

It is such a common issue that many churches have opened up their parking lots to people living out of their cars. For example, the New Beginnings Counseling Center opened up their parking lot for a “Safe Parking program,” which was intended to provide a safe and welcome parking place for people living out of their cars. Unfortunately, under new legislation passed in Los Angeles, programs like this will be illegal, because sleeping in cars and RVs have been entirely outlawed.

Under the new laws, it is illegal to sleep in a car or RV that is parked in a residentially zoned area from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Areas within one block of a park, daycare, or school are entirely off limits. Fines will range anywhere from $25 to $75 which is impossible to pay for most people in these situations.

In 2014, LA lawmakers attempted to pass a similar bill but it was shot down in a federal appeals court. The judge in the case ruled that the legislation was “broad enough to cover any driver in Los Angeles who eats food or transports personal belongings in his or her vehicle. Yet it appears to be applied only to the homeless.”

The policy is up for debate and reconsideration in July, where homeless advocates are expected to strongly protest for an appeal.

Policies like this can have disastrous consequences, in Canada where laws like this have been implemented for some time, one man racked up over $110,000 worth of fines for essentially being homeless.

Last year, The Mind Unleashed reported that the city of Seattle was planning to set up razor-wire fencing to keep homeless populations from camping. Then, earlier this year we reported that San Francisco was using Robots scare homeless people away from encampments and report them to police.

Not soon after that, the city of San Francisco spent $8,700 installing large boulders under overpasses to prevent homeless people from setting up camps. There were numerous homeless encampments in the area until they were recently forced out of the area, and now the City’s government is doing everything they can to keep the camps out of the area.

“There Was A Mistake Made” – FBI’s No. 2 Refuses To Provide Details On How Cruz Tips Were Fumbled

After admitting last week that “protocol was not followed” when at least two individuals called the FBI’s anonymous tip line to warn that Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old suspected of murdering 17 of his former classmates, the No. 2 FBI official said Thursday that he had visited the FBI’s call center this week as part of his review of why the tip wasn’t followed.

He also addressed, in the most detail yet, the mounting criticisms facing the bureau, according to the Washington Post.

The remarks followed NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch’s assertion that the FBI was primarily to blame for not preventing the shooting.

Shortly before Bowdich spoke Thursday, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre, who was speaking at the same event, said the FBI’s leaders had gone “rogue.”

FBI

Acting deputy director David Bowdich said he believes the biggest threat to the FBI is “losing the faith of the American people”

“Look, I don’t want to get into who says what, but I do want to project out to the public, is when I look through the prism of risk for our organization, I find the number one risk for our organization is losing the faith and confidence of the American people. Number one,” Bowdich said when asked about the criticism from the NRA and others.

FBI Director Christopher Wray – who was appointed by Trump – has come under fire, with several prominent Republicans, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott, calling for him to resign. President Trump has said the bureau’s handling of the matter was “not acceptable.”

Still, while Bowdich provided some details about his visit to the FBI call center, he offered no new insight into why or how the tip wasn’t followed up on. The FBI is actively investigating why the tip wasn’t passed on to its Miami field office.

Bowdich said Thursday that he had visited the call center Monday with a team and sat in on some calls. He called the center “a professional operation” but added: “Now let me be clear that there was a mistake made. We know that. But it is our job to make sure that we do everything in our power to ensure that does not happen again.”

Bowdich did not directly address a question about why the tip on Cruz was not passed to agents in the field, though he hinted that those in the call center might have made a judgment error.

“People make judgments out on the streets every day. Every now and then, those judgments may not have been the best judgment based on the information they had at the time,” Bowdich said.

Last year, the FBI received about 765,000 calls, in addition to about 750,000 Internet tips, and 9 out of 10 did not produce leads that could be followed. He said the bureau was going back through its “holdings”  to make sure there aren’t any other similar tips that have slipped through the cracks.

Wray has held on so far, and speculation is mounting that he might stay on to supervise the internal probe into why, exactly, these tips weren’t followed up on.

American Media’s ‘Big Bot’ Conspiracy Exposed

Authored by Daniel Greenfield via Sultan Knish blog,

Bots. Is there anything they can’t do?

The Internet Research Agency indictment accuses a troll bot farm of trying to influence the election in what the media claims is the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor. 9/11 need not apply.

Bots are everywhere.

“Bots Are Trying to Help Populists Win Italy’s Election,” claims Bloomberg. “Russian Bots Are Using 2016 Tactics to Hijack the Gun Debate,” shrieks Vanity Fair. ABC spins that bots are trying to make Black Panther look bad. “Rampaging Twitter ‘bots’ bred in Suffolk farmhouse,” the London Times asserts.

This media madness might make you think that bots are some sort of new and advanced technology. But you can see them in the comments and they’ve been around forever. Automated programs that log into social media accounts are not a new technology. Internet users of a bygone era remember seeing them in chat rooms and on bulletin boards without ever rampaging around Suffolk farmhouses.

Bots have become a convenient media scapegoat. The new formula is “Bots + Thing We Disagree With = Proof We’re Right”. That’s why there are stories claiming that Russian bots are tweeting against gun control or Islamic migration. And it explains the “Russian Bots Rigged the Election for Trump” meme.

Bots are an informational technique. Media spin reverse engineers the technique to discredit the idea. Not only is that a fallacy, but bots just piggyback on popular trends to gain influence. Russian bots don’t tweet about gun control because they care about guns, but because they get retweeted. The same was true of the bots promoting Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. There are a million brands doing the same thing with bots and influencers. But that’s okay because they push politically correct messages.

And that’s the bot double standard.

When Russian bots and trolls push Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders or Dakota Access Pipeline protests, their programmed actions don’t reflect on leftist causes, organizations and politicians. But the revelation that Russian bots and trolls tweeted about the Bill of Rights, Islamic migration or Trump is spun by the media into a conspiracy that indicts the ideas and discredits the previous election.

The latest example of the Big Bot Conspiracy is a bizarre Newsweek article by Nina Burleigh blaming Senator Franken’s problems on bots. Some might have thought that Franken had been forced to resign for groping women across America. But according to Burleigh, it was the fault of the Japanese bots.

The feminist activist was already infamous for putting her allegiance to Democrats ahead of sisterhood.

“I would be happy to give him a b_____ just to thank him for keeping abortion legal,” Nina Burleigh had said of Bill Clinton. “I think American women should be lining up with their Presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude.” Now Burleigh has brought her kneepads to the raided offices of Newsweek.

Nina Burleigh’s article blames Franken’s problems on “fake news sites, an army of Twitter bots and other cyber tricks”. The Democrat Senator’s original accuser is dismissed as a “Hooters pinup girl and lad-mag model”. So there was either nothing wrong with groping her or no reason to believe her.

That’s what leftists denounce as ‘slut-shaming’, but, as with Bill Clinton, it’s okay when Democrats do it.

Burleigh mentions the “release of a picture of a Tweeden and Franken” (editors are one of the casualties of Newsweek’s troubles), but neglects to mention that it’s a picture of Franken groping Tweeden. None of the other many accusers rate a mention from this feminist Franken activist.

There was the feminist choir member and book editor who accused Franken of groping her at the Women’s Political Caucus. It’s really hard to write her off as a “right-wing plant” or a “lad-mag model”.

Especially since she then voted for Senator Franken.

Another accuser was groped at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and claimed that Franken wanted to join her in the bathroom. Nina Burleigh would have probably told her to go along and bring her senatorial kneepads in gratitude for his support of Planned Parenthood.

A Democrat congressional aide remembers Franken trying to give her an open mouth kiss while he was still a radio host with Air America. “It’s my right as an entertainer,” she recalls Franken telling her.

An Army vet on a USO tour described being groped by Franken during the Iraq War. “When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast.”

Jezebel, a hard left feminist site, offered an account from a liberal “former elected official in New England” who remembers Franken trying to plant a “wet, open-mouthed kiss” on her, on stage.

Instead of addressing the many accounts of Franken’s liberal accusers who supported him and, many of whom indicated they didn’t want him to quit, Burleigh, like most Frankentruthers from Tom Arnold to Richard Silverstein, smears Leeann Tweeden while ignoring Franken’s numerous other accusers.

After silencing the women who came out against Franken, Nina Burleigh surreally claims that the Franken accusations had served to “silence the testimonies of eight former female staffers who defended the Minnesota Democrat”.

Presenting testimonies from the few women you didn’t grope is not considered a compelling argument.

But instead of talking about any of this, Burleigh talks about bots. A “bot army” made the Franken accusations go viral. And then there was “a developer named Atsufumi Otsuka” who “registered a web domain in Japan” that hosted “Japanese-registered fake-news sites”. But, “by November 17, the trending of ‘Al Franken’ was officially also a Russian intelligence operation.”

The Japanese and the Russians had teamed up against the Minnesota groper. This wasn’t just worse than Pearl Harbor. It was WW2 and the Cold War combined in one hashtag.

“Researchers have found that each bot account had 30 to 60 followers, all Japanese. The first follower for each account was either Japanese or Russian,” Burleigh breathlessly relates.

Now that the Russian and Japanese bots had teamed up, all hope for humanity was lost.

Burleigh’s article has more international locations than a Tom Clancy novel. It also completely ignores the question of whether Franken groped his victims to discuss the bots who tweeted about it.

That’s not accidental. Burleigh doesn’t want to talk about whether Franken is guilty; she wants to write a progressive thriller in which international bots caused the problem by talking about it. And if it can be shown that bots amplified a scandal, then the facts somehow no longer matter. In the same way that if it can be shown that bots amplified Trump’s message, the 2016 election results were illegitimate.

But shooting the messenger bot doesn’t tell us anything the truth of the inconvenient message.

Since the election, these types of articles are everywhere. They rely on the work of “researchers” who are usually partisan activists, often amateurs with no actual technical training, to spread conspiracy theories. These conspiracy theories confuse correlation and causation. If a foreign bot retweets Trump, he works for the bot’s masters. If a bot tweets any conservative story, it’s a right-wing global bot plot.

Anyone who knows anything about how the internet works knows that this is nonsense.

Bots imitate to amplify. In this comments section, a bot will show up sooner or later, it will copy a comment that someone else made and post it in order to get likes so that it resembles a real account. For every stupid bot telling you how much it makes by working online, there’s a smarter bot leaving legitimate comments to blend in. And so bots tweet, comment and chat about everything popular.

If there’s a trending topic, the bots will quickly show up. And everyone uses them.

Rachel Maddow feeds the left’s appetite for bot conspiracy nonsense. But in 2013, MSNBC personalities, including Maddow, were being promoted by Chinese bots. Does that mean Maddow is a Chinese spy?

Bots are ads that pretend to be people. Tracking how they’re deployed can be interesting, but it’s dangerous to read too much into that.

Correlating bots with narratives isn’t actually causation.

The bot paranoia is being used to delegitimize real stories and candidates. If you can connect bots to a point of view you don’t like, then no one really believes it. Link it to a candidate you don’t like and he was never really elected. Hook it up to a serial predator in the Senate and you can ignore his victims.

But if you believe that, then MSNBC must be a Chinese informational warfare operations.

Misconduct, Manipulation, Or Malfeasance? – US Regulators Begin Probe Of VIX Funds

Ten days after the reality of “rampant manipulation” in VIX was exposed yet again, perhaps because this time the market went down, US regulators are reportedly escalating their investigations into whether any wrongdoing occurred within VIX ETPs.

Following previous reports that The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) was scrutinizing whether traders placed bets on S&P 500 options in order to influence prices for VIX futures, and a whistleblower’s detailed explanation of how easy it is to spoof VIX’s tail to wag the market’s dog; Bloomberg reports that The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission have been conducting a broad review of trading since Feb. 5, when volatility spiked and investors lost billions of dollars, several people familiar with the matter said.

As a reminder, according to his letter, the whistleblower blames this VIX manipulation as the driver of last week’s volatility complex collapse:

“We contend that the liquidation of the VIX ETPs last week was not due solely to flaws in the design of these products, but instead was driven largely by a rampant manipulation of the VIX index,”

And, Bloomberg notes that after the losses, SEC officials reached out to Credit Suisse, a person with direct knowledge of the conversations said. Neither Credit Suisse nor ProShares have been accused of any wrongdoing. The regulators’ examinations are at an early stage and won’t necessarily lead to sanctions or new rules.

As another reminder, in May of last year we academic confirmation of the rigged nature the US equity market’s volatility complex, when a scientific study found “systemic VIX auction settlement manipulation.”

Two University of Texas at Austin finance professors found “large transient deviations in VIX prices” around the morning auction, “consistent with market manipulation.”

​Griffin and Shams calculate that “the size of VIX futures with open interest at settlement is on average 5.7 times the size SPX options traded at settlement, and it is 7.3 times for VIX options that are in-the-money at settlement.”

*  *  *

Bloomberg concludes that there is no indication thus far that specific companies, including Credit Suisse, are being probed, and an SEC spokesman declined to comment, while CFTC officials didn’t respond to requests for comment; but with losses now piling up, allegations of market manipulation are getting more attention and government watchdogs face questions about why small-time investors were permitted to buy such products in the first place.

While we certainly won’t be holding out breath for any regulatory crackdown on these products (as they are the mothers’ milk of the stock market), it is at least a positive that there is finally some scrutiny on the volatility complex (that may, just may, prompt some retail investors to be at least a little less willing to pile all their investments into the short-vol trade once again).

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