America’s Election Meddling Would Indeed Justify Other Countries Retaliating In Kind

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

There is still no clear proof that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 US elections in any meaningful way. Which is weird, because Russia and every other country on earth would be perfectly justified in doing so.

Like every single hotly publicized Russiagate “bombshell” that has broken since this nonsense began, Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian social media trolls was paraded around as proof of something hugely significant (an “act of war” in this case), but on closer examination turns out to be empty. The always excellent ‘Moon of Alabama’ recently made a solid argument that has also been advanced by Russiagate skeptics like TYT’s Michael Tracey and Max Blumenthal of The Real News, pointing out that there is in fact no evidence that the troll farming operation was an attempt to manipulate the US election, nor indeed that it had any ties to the Russian government at all, nor indeed that it was anything other than a crafty Russian civilian’s money making scheme.

The notion that a few Russian trolls committed a “conspiracy to defraud the United States” by “sowing discord” with a bunch of wildly contradictory posts endorsing all different ideologies sounds completely ridiculous in a country whose mainstream media spends all its time actively creating political division anyway, but when you look at it as a civilian operation to attract social media followers to sock puppet accounts with the goal of selling promoted posts for profit, it makes perfect sense. James Corbett of The Corbett Report has a great video about how absolutely bizarre it is that public dialogue is ignoring the fact that these trolls overwhelmingly used mainstream media like the Washington Post in their shares instead of outlets like RT and Infowars. As a scheme to acquire followers, it makes perfect sense. As a scheme to subvert America, it’s nonsensical.

There is currently no evidence that the Russian government interfered in the US election. But it is worth pointing out that if they did they had every right to.

“Whataboutism” is the word of the day. At some point it was decreed by the internet forum gods that adding “-ism” to a description of something that someone is doing makes for a devastating argument in and of itself, and people have hastened to use this tactic as a bludgeon to silence anyone who points out the extremely obvious and significant fact that America interferes in elections more than any other government on earth.

“Okay, so America isn’t perfect and we’ve meddled a few times,” the argument goes. “So what? You’re saying just because we’ve done it that makes it okay for Russia to do it?”

Actually, yes. Of course it does. Clearly. That isn’t a “whataboutism”, it’s an observation that is completely devastating to the mainstream Russia narrative. If it’s okay for the CIA to continuously interfere in the elections of other countries up to and including modern times, it is okay for other countries to interfere in theirs. Only in the most warped American supremacist reality tunnel is that not abundantly obvious.

Every country on earth is absolutely entitled to interfere in America’s elections. America is responsible for the overwhelming majority of election interferences around the world in modern times, including an interference in Russia’s elections in the nineties that was so brazen they made a Hollywood movie about it, so clearly an environment has been created wherein the United States has declared that this is acceptable.

It amazes me that more people aren’t willing to call this like it is. No, it would not be wrong for Russia to interfere in America’s elections. Yes, what America did to Russia absolutely would make a proportionate retaliation okay. Of course it would.

Imagine this:

A guy in a cowboy hat runs into a bar and starts punching people. Most of them just rub their sore jaws and hunch over their drinks hoping to avoid any trouble, but one guy in a fur cap sets down his vodka and shoves the man in the cowboy hat.

The man in the cowboy hat begins shrieking like a little girl. All his friends rush to his side to comfort him and begin angrily shaking their fists at the man in the fur cap.

“Hey, he punched me!” says the man in the fur cap.

“That’s a whataboutism!” sobs the man in the cowboy hat.

Can you imagine anything more ridiculous?

Seriously, how do people think this is a thing? How does anyone think it’s legitimate to respond to my article about a former CIA Director openly admitting that the US still to this day interferes with elections around the world babbling about “whataboutisms”? What a doofy, indefensible monkey wrench to throw into the gears of political discourse.

Yes, obviously by asserting that it is acceptable for the CIA to meddle in other countries’ elections, the US has created an environment where that sort of thing is acceptable. If Americans just want to embrace their American supremacist bigotry and say “Yeah we can do that to you but you can’t do it to us cuz we have big guns and we said so,” that’s at least a logically consistent position. Crying like little bitches and behaving as though they’ve been victimized by some egregious immorality is not.

Channel 4 News reported on the research of the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Don Levin back in November, writing the following:

Dov Levin, an academic from the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University, has calculated the vast scale of election interventions by both the US and Russia.

According to his research, there were 117 “partisan electoral interventions” between 1946 and 2000. That’s around one of every nine competitive elections held since Second World War.

The majority of these – almost 70 per cent – were cases of US interference. And these are not all from the Cold War era; 21 such interventions took place between 1990 and 2000, of which 18 were by the US.

If Americans don’t like election meddling, they need to demand that their government stops doing it. As long as it remains the very worst offender in that department, the US is entitled to nothing other than the entire world meddling in its elections.

I shouldn’t even have to say this. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

Duh.

Why The Market’s Most Important Correlation Has Flipped

Two days before the February 5 volmageddon, and before everyone became an overnight expert on inverse VIX ETFs, CTAs an risk parity funds, we showed two chart which we explicitly said presaged a turning point for markets, vol-targeting funds, and hinted at an imminent risk-parity tantrum.

The first showed the unmistakable correlation shift between 10Y yields and the S&P, which we said is “considerably worrisome for investors.”

Meanwhile, we also showed that the bond-equity correlation, which has been predominantly negative since the Lehman crisis, had started creeping up towards positive territory. Specifically, we said that “the 90-day correlation between stock (SPY) and bond (TLT) markets has surged ominously in the last few weeks.”

Three weeks later, Bank of America – in response to “many interest rate questions from investors” – published a 50 page report which looks at the relationship between rising rates and stocks to conclude, after tortured and convoluted logic and several goalseeked examples, that rising rates are not bad for stocks.

Actually, they are, and here is the simplest reason why in just 9 words: “Every market crash has been preceded by Fed tightening.

Still, BofA did have some interesting observations on the long-term historical relationship and rolling 3 year correlation between the S&P and 10Y yields, to wit:

Over the past 64 years, stocks have exhibited a weak and inconsistent correlation with interest rates (-11%).

Over this period, the correlation has seen a wide range from -63% to 75%. The relationship was generally negative for most of the 1960s through the 1990s (higher yields bad for stocks), a period during which the average level of rates was 7.5%. But since the turn of the century, the relationship was generally positive (higher yields good for stocks) a period during which the average level of rates was 3%. The relationship with rates and stock returns peaked about five years ago, but has remained positive and has been trending higher since the recent trough of 13% in late 2015 (Chart 2).

And now it’s flipped again… and it’s not the only one: as the following bloombergchart show, the 6-month rolling correlation between stocks and the dollar, which was also positive for the past 4 years, has turned sharply negative.

 

So why is this (or rather these) most critical market correlation inverting as yields creep ever higher? Overnight, Blackrock’s Russ Koesterich gave an elegant explanation, highlighting three things: i) the reversal in the correlation sign, ii) the nonlinear relationship between the two key asset classes, and iii) the relative interest rate.

First, why the correlation turns negative:

Financial theory does suggest that equity valuations, i.e. the price you pay for a dollar of earnings, should drop as the interest rate used to discount that earning rises. Empirical evidence supports this. A simple linear regression of stock multiples versus interest rates demonstrates that over the very long term, rates and market multiples are negatively correlated. Since 1954, for every one percentage point increase in 10-year Treasury yields the price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) on the S&P 500 contracts by approximately 0.70 points.

Another way of showing this is the following chart from BofA which shows the impact of the change in the real risk free rate on S&P fair value. The higher rate, the lower the S&P, or as BofA explains, “every 50bp increase in the normalized real risk-free rate reduces the fair value of the S&P 500 by roughly 6-8%”

To offset the gloomy message some – like Blackrock – try to extrapolate a non-linear relationship between yields and multiples:

However, if you allow for a more complex expression of the relationship, things look somewhat different. Rather than a straight line, a better description of the relationship between rates and multiples is nonlinear, i.e. the relationship changes depending on the level of rates. Allowing for this nuance, interest rates explain nearly 30% of the variation in S&P 500 earnings multiples (see the accompanying chart).

Finally, there is the special case of low rates: here again is Kosterich:

Rates and multiples are more likely to rise in tandem when interest rates are rising from unusually low levels, as is the case today. Under these circumstances, faster growth is treated as a positive as it alleviates recession and deflation fears. In addition, faster nominal growth is also associated with faster earnings growth.

Unfortunately, there is a caveat. Rates and valuations can rise together—to a point. At some point the negative relationship between rates and valuations reasserts itself. In other words, at a certain level higher bond yields create real competition for stocks, particularly dividend stocks, and put downward pressure on multiples.

What that point is, is of course the $64 trillion question: while some have suggested 2.75%, some 3.0% the latest and greatest estimation of this inflection point came from Credit Suisse this week, which calculated that the day of reckoning for stocks will take place just as the 10Y yield hits 3.50%.

Of course, by the time the 10Y actually does hit 3.5% it will be far too late as anticipating traders will have been busy frontrunning this event… and selling; it explains why the closer we get to 3.00%… or 3.50%, the greater the divergence between the 10Y and the S&P, and why the higher yields go, the more negative the correlation, until it eventually snaps back when stocks finally capitulate and the next crash hits.

Big Pharma’s War On Our Children: 1 Million Kids Under Age 6 On Psychiatric Drugs

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

In the United States, there are one million children under the age of six on psychiatric drugs. This number is particularly disturbing, considering the horrifying side effects and ineffectiveness of a good number of these types of harmful drugs.

One in six Americans overall regularly take some type of medication in this category. However, children are now being swept up in Big Pharma’s desire to make money, not improve health. Mental health watchdog group Citizens Commission on Human Rights is drawing attention to the concerning fact that more than a million kids younger than six in our nation are currently taking these psychiatric drugs.

According to Natural News, around half of these children are four to five years old and an incredible 274,804 of them are younger than a year old. That’s right: babies are being given psychiatric drugs. The number rises for toddlers aged two to three, with 370,778 kids in this category taking psychiatric drugs overall. If this isn’t horrifying to you, congratulations on your brainwashing.

Data from IMS Health shows that the drug situation only gets worse as kids get older, with 4,130,340 kids aged 6 to 12 taking some type of psychiatric drug.

You might be forgiven for assuming that most of these statistics are made up by kids taking ADHD drugs given how common that approach seems to be nowadays, but it really only accounts for a small portion of it, with 1,422 of those younger than a year old and just over 181,000 of those aged four to five taking ADHD drugs. –Natural News

The biggest category of psychotic drugs given to children appears to be anti-anxiety drugs. Just over 227,132 babies under one-year-old and nearly 248,000 of those aged four to five take these medications. Again, babies are being given mind-altering drugs before their first birthday. But the news just gets worse from there. Experts believe these estimates are far too low and the real numbers are actually much higher, due in part to the tendency for some doctors to hand out psychiatric medications for “off-label” uses. This risky practice entails giving out a drug to treat something that it is not indicated for, and the long-term effects of such an approach are completely unknown.

When adults choose to take psychiatric medication, it may be ill-advised in many cases, but it is still their choice to make. Children, on the other hand, lack the cognition to fully understand the lifelong impact of such a choice, and this essentially amounts to forced medication. We already know that many doctors have a financial incentive to get young people to start taking these drugs, but why are their parents so willing to get on board? Many of them are also taking psychiatric medications, of course. In fact, it has practically become a way of life in our nation and many people think of these meds as harmless.

The side effects of these drugs are nothing to scoff at, however, with antianxiety, antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs linked to heart attacks, psychosis, suicidal ideation, diabetes, stroke, mania and sudden death. As if that weren’t bad enough, there’s also the fact that many of the high-profile public shootings in recent years were perpetrated by young people on such drugs, so not only do kids have the risk of dying when they take these meds, but they could also take out a whole classroom or movie theater with them. –Natural News

Is this a war on our children perpetrated by Big Pharma and condoned by the government? Maybe. Nothing seems impossible anymore.

H/T [Natural News, Mike Adams The Health Ranger]

China’s “AIG” Moment Arrives: Beijing Bails Out “Systemically Important” Anbang, Chairman Removed

In November of last year, we set forth the four candidates that would trigger China’s downfall and expose the Potemkin village economy as nothing but a facade…

It might be Anbang – the acquisitive insurance behemoth – see “Anbang Just Became A ‘Systemic Risk’: Revenues Crash As Its Chairman Is “Detained”

It might be China Evergrande – the developer of “ghost” properties and described by J Capital’s, Anne Stevenson-Yang as “the biggest pyramid scheme the world has yet seen” – see “Stevenson-Yang Warns ‘China Is About To Hit A Wall”.

It might be HNA. The highly-leveraged Chinese conglomerate, which has been on an overseas acquisition binge, is paying more for a 363-day dollar loan than serial defaulter, Argentina, paid on a 100-year loan earlier this year.

Or It might be Dalian Wanda, which established itself building and operating commercial property, luxury hotels, culture and tourism, and department stores. While the company has its roots in property and infrastructure, it recently begun to push in a bold new direction: investing in all six of Hollywood’s major studios.

And now we know

A day after banning VIX, it appears China has finally reached its “Minsky Moment,” or in the case of echoing America’s demise, its “AIG Moment.”

According to the China Insurance Regulatory Commission website, China regulators to take control of Anbang Insurance from Feb. 23, 2018 to Feb. 22, 2019.

Additionally, former Chairman Wu Xiaohui (who, as a reminder, is married to Deng Xiaoping’s granddaughter, and was in talks with Jared Kushner for stake in 666 Fifth Ave) will be removed and prosecuted for alleged economic crime.

China’s insurance regulator said Anbang violated insurance rules in fund use, according to the statement.

“In view of the fact that Anbang Group acts in violation of the provisions of the Insurance Law and may seriously endanger the solvency of the company, in order to maintain the normal operation of the Anbang Group and protect the legitimate rights and interests of insurance consumers, CIRC decided in accordance with Article 144 of the Insurance Law of the People’s Republic of China to take over Anbang Group,” stated the announcement.

The conglomerate has almost 2 trillion yuan ($316 billion) in assets and owns businesses spanning life and non-life insurance, asset management, financial leasing and banking, according to its website.

As we detailed in June of lat year, while largely ignored on the list of potential Chinese risk factors, Anbang’s troubles could soon become systemic.

In early May, Chinese insurance regulators ordered Anbang to stop selling two investment products. One, they said, was improperly marketed as long-term insurance while a crucial application for the other lacked an actuary’s signature. By that point, Anbang was already in trouble. Questions about Anbang’s financial strength had begun circulating on social media in China in March and April, as Chinese officials publicly raised questions about sales of wealth management products by some insurers.

If the drop in revenue is steep enough, Anbang could eventually be forced to liquidate assets. A big factor will be what happens with its existing policies and investment products, which comprise China’s shadow banking system. As the NYT adds, Anbang’s annual report provides little information on the monthly tempo at which its previously issued investments are maturing. The company might need to pay them out if they are not rolled over into further investments with the company. The company’s policies do have very stiff penalties on early redemption to discourage holders from turning them in early for cash. Anbang could raise money by selling some of its investments, but that could take time.

Additionally, the conglomerate, which over the past 3 years was nothing short of the world’s most aggressive “roll up” has been an active investor in Western hedge funds, in addition to making outright acquisitions of overseas companies. And those terms tend to impose severe limits on Anbang’s ability to ask for its money back quickly. That said, a firesale of Anbang assets, which include the Waldorf Astoria, should be a fascinating event.

The biggest risk from a potential unwind of Anbang, however, is the fate of its billions in  WMP “assets” and whether any troubles at the insurer lead to investor impairment, and a potential run on China’s $8.5 billion “shadow bank” considered by many as the Achilles heel of China’s massively overlevered financial system.

All of which explains why Chinese regulators have finally stepped in, removed and prosecuted Wu, and bailed out the beleagured behemoth with a capital injection aimed at restructuring the organization.

Illegal operations at Anbang could have “seriously endangered” the company’s solvency abilities, prompting the government to take control of the insurer, according to the statement.

Additionally, as Bloomberg reports, China Banking Regulatory Commission told several banks to continue providing working capital to HNA Group (another massively systemically dangerous Chinese conglomerate) and not to accelerate loans, Risk Event-Driven and Distress Intelligence reports, citing two unidentified people.

The instruction was sent to some banks in the form of so-called “window guidance”, or informal administrative advice.

China Development Bank, Export-Import Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank and China Citic Bank were reportedly among those that were told to support the company.

As a reminder, President Xi Jinping and his top economic deputies have vowed to make controlling financial risks their priority, a pledge renewed at the Communist Party’s twice-a-decade leadership congress last year.

Japan Erects Huge New Roof Above Crippled Fukushima Reactor

In what the Japanese press heralds as an important step to safely removing all the radioactive material left inside the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant’s ruined reactors, the Japanese utility in charge of cleaning up the site has finished installing a roof over reactor No. 3.

The work started last August to set up a dome-shaped cover. It is part of preparations for removing nuclear fuel from the reactor’s storage pool. A total of 566 spent and unused fuel units remain in the storage pool of the No. 3 reactor.

On Wednesday, workers installed the last part of the cover, which is 17 meters high and 22 meters wide, and weighs 55 tons.

Tepco, which ran the plant and also criminally lied and obscured the full extent of the radioactive leakage caused by the disaster, is scrambling to accomplish as much as possible ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Cleanup of the power plant’s crippled reactors – which experienced meltdowns when a tsunami thrashed the Japanese coast back in 2011 – is expected to take decades.

More recently, Tepco has been criticized for draining what it described as “harmless” radioactive material into the water near the plant – sparking outraged local fishermen to fight back.

Last year, the Japanese government started cutting benefits for people who were forced to flee their homes and possessions because of the disaster.  This has forced some people to move back to the exclusion zone for the first time since the initial evacuation. Photos of the area depict a nightmarish ghost town overrun by radioactive wild boars.

it is unclear what the true radiation level is in the zone, as none of the government’s data are reliable or credible.

Which is why – while modest – adding a roof on top of the Fukushima sarcophagus is welcome news for the locals as it will then allow Tepco to remove hundreds of units of nuclear fuel from the reactor’s storage pool, which will begin this fall. The other reactors will be treated afterward.

The roof will prevent radiation from spreading, while also protecting the plant from wind.

Tepco says it’s still working to remove rubble from the ruined reactors.

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