$ES_F MOC SELL $650mil $$
$ES_F SPX moc implied imbal $1.3B for SALE $$
$ES_F 02:34:26 TRADINGDATA2: (bshepard) ESM moving the the favored direction of the imbalalce meter ... down $$
$ES_F 81% sell side $$
John_Monaco (13:41:50): 75% sell side on the close
One of the biggest lies our government tells us is that it wages the War on Drugs to keep us safe. More than 40 years after it was started, we know that it has been a colossally-expensive epic failure on its stated goals, was intentionally designed to further disenfranchise marginalized groups, and has become a full-fledged assault on our civil liberties.
Even with all the billions of tax dollars it spends each year, and all the flashy photo ops of seized drugs stacked on tables, the Drug Enforcement Agency only stops 1% of the illegal drug supply from being distributed in America, according to the video below. Not only is law enforcement pathetically inept at stemming the flow of drugs, they are active participants in the illicit drug trade at both the federal and local level:
- Documents Show CIA complicity in the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s
- DEA’s 12-year business arrangement with El Chapo’s Sinaloa drug cartel
- Florida Cops Laundered Millions For Drug Cartels, Failed To Make A Single Arrest
- 13 Current and Former North Carolina and Virginia Law Enforcement Officers Indicted for Drug Smuggling
- California Drug Cop Busted Smuggling $2 Million Worth of Marijuana
- Pennsylvania Police Officer Who Obtained Hundreds of Narcotic Pills from 19 Different Doctors Given Plea Deal for Probation
- Narcotics Unit Supervisor Charged with Stealing Drugs from Evidence Room in Ohio
That drug prohibition causes far more harm than it supposedly prevents would not even be a question of debate were it not for the fact that so many people’s livelihoods now depend on waging it. The ugly unspoken truth is that the War on Drugs is a massive jobs and funding program for law enforcement that is operated under the guise of saving people from the evils of substance abuse.
Everything we do is suspect, and everything we own is subject to seizure— take cash for an example. The saying used to be that “cash is king,’ however these days it’s “cash is criminal” since cash transactions and even withdrawing or carrying “large amounts,” basically more than a few dollars, of your own money is now considered an indication of criminal activity (see here). Section 31 U.S.C. 5103 states, “United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues,” so why does the government that prints that same money have such a problem with its citizens using it?
How Cash Became Criminal
Cash transactions are anonymous, so it is assumed that people who make cash transactions are trying to avoid leaving records of their activities. And if any aspect of your life is not a traceable, verifiable open book for the government, obviously you must be hiding something. Never mind that the case is often that people simply find using cash allows them to manage their finances more responsibly without risking overdraft or interest fees, or are making a purchase that requires cash, such as buying a used car, or that they simply do not have access to bank accounts due to low income or poor credit history.
According to the FDIC, “7.7 percent (1 in 13) of households in the United States were unbanked in 2013. This proportion represented approximately 16.7 million adults.” 20.0 percent of U.S. households, approximately 50.9 million adults, were underbanked in 2013, “meaning that they had a bank account but also used alternative financial services (AFS) outside of the banking system,” such as money orders, check cashing, remittances, payday loans, refund anticipation loans, rent-to-own services, pawn shops, or auto title loans.
The FDIC report also states “In many cases, financial life events, such as job loss, significant income loss or a new job, appear to be important reasons why households leave or enter the banking system.” The documentary Spent: Looking for Change, highlights the struggles of the unbanked and underbanked using the personal stories of several individuals.
While using cash out of preference or necessity is a perfectly legal activity, it is politically expedient for law enforcement agencies to pretend otherwise because they have incentives to do so. Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement agencies to take money, cars, houses, and other property that they suspect of being purchased with the proceeds from criminal activity or of being used in connection with criminal activity. The agencies then either keep or sell the property and use it or the proceeds for their own purposes. It’s such a huge cash cow for law enforcement that in 2014, the amount federal agencies netted through civil asset forfeiture, $5 billion, exceeded the amount Americans lost through burglaries, $3.5 billion. The actual amount seized is even higher than this, since this figure does not include the amounts taken by state and local law enforcement agencies.
Taking money from bad guys, sounds great, right? Oh, there’s a catch. Cops don’t have to actually prove you committed any crime. They don’t even have to charge you with one. You, on the other hand, need to go to court and jump through whatever hoops the government requires to prove your innocence and get your property back. See How police took $53,000 from a Christian band, an orphanage and a church for a recent example of how police use civil forfeiture to knowingly steal from innocent citizens who have no involvement in the drug trade.
Cops and prosecutors also intimidate people into giving up their property by threatening to pursue criminal charges if they try get it back.From Taken, New Yorker Magazine’s investigation into one Texas town’s massively corrupt civil asset forfeiture program:
“The eye-opening event was pulling those files,” Guillory told me. One of the first cases that caught his attention was titled State of Texas vs. One Gold Crucifix. The police had confiscated a simple gold cross that a woman wore around her neck after pulling her over for a minor traffic violation. No contraband was reported, no criminal charges were filed, and no traffic ticket was issued. That’s how it went in dozens more cases involving cash, cars, and jewelry. A number of files contained slips of paper of a sort he’d never seen before. These were roadside property waivers, improvised by the district attorney, which threatened criminal charges unless drivers agreed to hand over valuables.
Law enforcement agencies say this is a vital tactic for battling drug kingpins and vast criminal enterprises, but the typical value of property seized tends to be low, victimizing citizens who usually have the least resources, and the least ability to fight back.
The Institute for Justice, an organization at the forefront of the battle against abusive forfeiture practices, “was able to obtain property-level forfeiture data for 2012 from 10 states, allowing median property values to be calculated. In those states, the median value of forfeited property ranged from $451 in Minnesota to $2,048 in Utah, not much more than an American’s average annual cell phone bill.”
Meanwhile what happens to the criminal masterminds who actually are involved in nefarious activities on a grand scale? They get a slap on the wrist. From the Rolling Stone article,Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke:
[Assistant Attorney General] Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who’s ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a“record” financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.
The banks’ laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC’s Mexican branches and “deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows.”
The article continues:
Even more shocking, the Justice Department’s response to learning about all of this was to do exactly the same thing that the HSBC executives did in the first place to get themselves in trouble – they took money to look the other way.
And not only did they sell out to drug dealers, they sold out cheap. You’ll hear bragging this week by the Obama administration that they wrested a record penalty from HSBC, but it’s a joke. Some of the penalties involved will literally make you laugh out loud. This is from Breuer’s announcement:
As a result of the government’s investigation, HSBC has . . . “clawed back” deferred compensation bonuses given to some of its most senior U.S. anti-money laundering and compliance officers, and agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior officials during the five-year period of the deferred prosecution agreement.
Wow. So the executives who spent a decade laundering billions of dollars will have to partially defer their bonuses during the five-year deferred prosecution agreement? Are you fucking kidding me? That’s the punishment? The government’s negotiators couldn’t hold firm on forcing HSBC officials to completely wait to receive their ill-gotten bonuses? They had to settle on making them “partially” wait? Every honest prosecutor in America has to be puking his guts out at such bargaining tactics. What was the Justice Department’s opening offer – asking executives to restrict their Caribbean vacation time to nine weeks a year?
However there is some good news! Last year Montana and New Mexico passed reform measures that require a criminal conviction before assets can be stolen by state agents, and Nebraska just did, too. Of course, several cities in New Mexico refuse to abide by the law andare now being sued by the Institute for Justice as a result, but it’s still progress, right? Also, the Department of Justice announced last year that it was drastically scaling back its equitable-sharing program, which state and local agencies have used to undermine local ordinances restricting forfeiture activities. Well, the impact wasn’t really as big as they first made it out to be, and that doesn’t matter anyway because DOJ already reinstated the program last month.
Is it possible to time the market cycle to capture big gains?
Like many controversial topics in investing, there is no real professional consensus on market timing. Academics claim that it’s not possible, while traders and chartists swear by the idea.
That said, as VisualCapitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, one thing that everyone can probably agree on is that markets are cyclical and that securities do have recurring chart patterns. They aren’t predictable all of the time, but learning the fundamentals around market cycles can only help an investor in furthering their understanding of how things work.
The following infographic explains the four important phases of market trends, based on the methodology of the famous stock market authority Richard Wyckoff. The theory is: the better an investor can identify these phases of the market cycle, the more profits can be made on the ride upwards of a buying opportunity.Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist
Here are the descriptions of each major phase of the market cycle:
Accumulation: Occurs after a drop in prices. Process of buyers gaining control from sellers which leads to markup.
Markup: Bullish phase of a stock’s life is defined by higher highs and higher lows. This is where you want to get long on breakouts and after short-term pullbacks. Rallies are “innocent until proven guilty”.
Distribution: Occurs after a prolonged price advance. Sellers gain control of prices, which leads to decline.
Decline: Bearish phase of a stock’s life. This is where you want to be short, so look to sell short fresh breakdowns after minor rallies have exhausted themselves. Rally attempts are “guilty until proven innocent”.
The basic strategy is to pay close attention during the accumulation and distribution phases as the market shifts from buyers to sellers, or vice versa. Then, by recognizing the markup and decline phases, an investor can be appropriately long or short to make solid returns.
Original graphic by: AlphaTrends
Helicopter money may be on the horizon, but if Deutsche Bank has its way, there is at least one intermediate step.
According to DB's Dominic Konstam, now that the benefits QE "have run their course", it is time for the next, and far more drastic step: "the ECB and BoJ should move more strongly toward penalizing savings via negative retail deposit rates or perhaps wealth taxes. With this stick would also come a carrot – for example, negative mortgage rates."
Here is the big picture unveiling of what is coming next from Deutsche Bank's Dominic Konstam, who is also buying the Treasury long end hand over fist:
- The G3 central banks all stood pat, continuing the move away from the beggar-thy-neighbor paradigm. However, the adverse market reaction to the BoJ’s inaction suggests that the benefits of QE (or QQE) in its present form might have run their course.
- It is becoming increasingly clear to us that the level of yields at which credit expansion in Europe and Japan will pick up in earnest is probably negative, and substantially so. Therefore, the ECB and BoJ should move more strongly toward penalizing savings via negative retail deposit rates or perhaps wealth taxes. With this stick would also come a carrot – for example, negative mortgage rates.
- Until then, bank NIM compression will continue to drive elevated demand for dollar-denominated assets, which manifests itself in suppressed UST term premia and wide cross-currency bases.
- What this means for the US is that policy rates and longer bond yields are unlikely to go up until global growth accelerates materially. Until such time, it is critical for the Fed to continue to relent, allowing real yields to keep falling while breakevens rise and nominal yields remain roughly static.
- If the Fed were to turn hawkish, there is perhaps even less scope for long-end yields to rise as breakevens would likely collapse on policy error fears.
Some of the troubling detail:
QE as implemented in major economies since the crisis has operated through two shocks: a demand shock whereby real yields are forced lower through lower nominal yields and static – or even falling – breakevens, and a shock to inflation expectations, whereby real yields ultimately continue to fall but due to rising BEI and static to lower nominal yields. In the case of the Anglo-Saxon economies, the demand shock quickly gave way to the shock (higher) to inflation expectations and actually allowed nominal yields to rise, if fleetingly.
The second shock, to inflation expectations, has thus far remained stubbornly elusive in Europe and more so in Japan, and ephemeral in the Anglo-Saxon economies. That said, this dynamic appears to have re-emerged in the US post Fed relent and has been an important driver of the recovery in risk assets and, more generally, the easing of financial conditions.
This week’s BoJ announcement disappointed, and as a result the yen appreciated sharply. This outcome does not bode well for the future efficacy of QE, at least while that is the primary policy tool in use. Breakevens have been drifting lower and real yields have been drifting higher since last summer. In other words, financial conditions in Japan are tightening, suggesting the need for more stimulus. However, the BoJ already holds a significant proportion of the assets that would be available for purchase, and the gains from additional QE activity – higher breakevens, lower real yields, and a weaker yen – are likely on the margin to be fleeting. It appears that the markets doubt the BoJ’s willingness or ability to carry on with larger and broader asset purchases, or worse yet they do not believe that such asset purchases will have their desired stimulative effect
Further QE should be viewed as an experiment in real time, where the point of inquiry is the level of real or nominal yields at which credit will begin to expand more strongly with loan-to-deposit ratios increasing. What seems increasingly clear to us is that this level is likely at negative yields, and probably substantially so. If this is true, it would suggest to us that the equilibrium level of rates in the economy is probably negative. This in turn would strongly suggest a significant re-think to short-rate policy. In this case, central banks should move more strongly toward penalizing savings, rather than just the institutions that “house” those savings – the banks. This would mean allowing significantly negative retail deposit rates or perhaps even wealth taxes. With this stick would also come a carrot – one example being that while deposit rates penalize savings (the whole point), banks might also pay borrowers to buy houses via negative mortgage rates.
In short, the real central bank panic is about to be unleashed; who will suffer? Why everyone else. And should wealth taxes really be imminent, we foresee a lot of "boating incidents" in the immediate future.
Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced that he would take command of all of China’s armed forces, including the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Xi is already chairman of the Central Military Commission that oversees the army. He is now taking a more direct role as head of the new Joint Operations Command Center, which puts him in operational command of the PLA in times of war.
The new title in all likelihood means little in terms of actual command, but it has tremendous political significance. Officially, the Chinese are reforming their military, which is logical (read why here). The roots of this change, however, lie in China’s economic crisis and the need to preserve the regime.
The regime no longer delivers on its promises
Mao Zedong founded China as a moral project: to create a country ruled by communism. After Mao’s death, the project was replaced by another: to modernize the Chinese economy and create prosperity.
The leadership in the new regime rotated in an orderly fashion, and government after government oversaw the generation of increasing wealth.
Mao justified the regime as a dream (or nightmare, depending on how you view Maoism), while his successors promised prosperity, and they delivered.
There is occasional talk that China will somehow return to a period of rapid growth and increasing wealth. But the vast outflow of money (some in the hands of private individuals, some taken from government coffers and informally privatized) is the short explanation for why China has reached a new normal.
If the rule is “follow the insiders,” the insiders are saying that getting money out of China is a priority. The story is more complex, of course. If a regime justifies itself by delivering prosperity, and it stops delivering, the regime is in trouble.
China’s problem can no longer be considered primarily economic. That train has left. The economic reality is locked in and will remain in place for a long time.
China is now in the throes of a political challenge
The coastal region will grow at a much slower rate than before, if at all. People who came from the interior for jobs will have to return to the interior.
The interior—a vast and impoverished region—is the population heartland of China. Over 60 percent of China’s population lives there. But the coast is the country’s economic heartland, and that dichotomy defines China’s political problem.
Xi must satisfy both regions, which won’t be easy. The interior wants money for jobs, economic development, and ultimately increased consumption. The only place to get this money from is the coastal region, which obviously does not want to make the transfer.
The coast is economically tied to the United States and Europe, not to the interior. It wants to maintain those links. But the interior is where the majority of Chinese live, and it was the foundation of the Chinese revolution and the regime.
Xi is frightened that the interior will destabilize the regime under economic pressure and that he will lose control over the coastal region, as happened in the 19th century.
These are distant yet rational fears. Xi’s mission is to ensure that the Communist Party keeps China under control. His primary challenge is the inequality among classes and regions that the post-Mao economic surge created.
Xi must have control over the wealthy
The Communist Party came to rule China by exploiting that inequality. If the party can’t solve the problem it has created, it must at least try to control it.
The first step toward control was to impose a dictatorship on the to prevent the emergence of any organized resistance. Today, further liberalization is out of the question, and suppressing any elements that demand it is essential.
The regime also wants to assert control over private assets. Such control is essential if money will be used to quell unhappiness in the interior, and the vast anti-corruption purge is designed to achieve this.
The campaign is not so much aimed at suppressing corruption, although doing so has its uses. Rather, it is designed to intimidate all those who have accumulated wealth. This class must be brought under the control of the party to prevent it from using its wealth to control the party.
The mission set out by Deng Xioping was to “enrich yourself.” Now the fear is that the wealthy have gone too far. The somewhat random and unpredictable purges are intended to frighten the rich.
One result is capital flight, and that is a problem. But the goal is to make wealth subordinate to political power, not the other way around. Otherwise, the party becomes fundamentally weak.
The People’s Liberation Army is the guarantor
Wealth is part of the equation, but in the end, the People’s Liberation Army is the key. It is the ultimate guarantor of the regime in two ways.
First, it has the power to crush opposition, as it did in Tiananmen Square. Second, the children of peasants fill its ranks, and they see enlistment as a path to upward mobility. Taken together, its makeup and power can guarantee the communist regime’s survival.
On the other hand, the PLA is also capable of undermining the regime. Its enormous size might enable it to subvert the party’s power throughout the country.
The party and the PLA had a clear alignment in the past. Now that bond is less certain. The PLA’s officer corps has gotten deeply involved in enriching themselves. The PLA was directly involved in PLA-owned enterprises.
The enterprises have been reduced, but the PLA leadership is still intertwined with Chinese business—either directly or through relatives. The PLA’s size and influence mean that its officers’ interests are torn between the party and the wealthy, which is now under attack.
The regime, however, is reducing PLA’s massive size, which makes good military sense. It also makes political sense. This allows Xi to eliminate those involved in what is now termed corruption, to confiscate their wealth, and to intimidate others.
This purge is similar to those going on in many institutional bureaucracies in China, except that the size and importance of the PLA outstrips all other institutions. A smaller and reconfigured PLA will pose less of a threat to the regime, even if its military efficiency increases.
This transition is dangerous for the party and for Xi. The writing is on the wall for many in the army who have accumulated wealth, but restructuring will take several years.
The PLA will have to be tightly controlled. That is why Xi set up a Discipline Inspection Commission in January specifically for the PLA, answerable directly to the Central Military Commission.
This is also why Xi has taken direct control of military operations. He or his trusted advisors will have direct access to plans and operations. The PLA will come under Xi’s direct supervision.
Any broad conspiracy that includes the PLA will be readily detected. You can’t hide the kinds of troop movements that would pose an existential threat to the regime.
The PLA is the center of gravity of the regime, and if Xi loses control of it, he could lose control of everything. Xi would never have appointed himself head of the Joint Operations Command Center if he hadn’t felt the move absolutely necessary.
He moved to take control of the PLA’s operations to ensure that he could preserve the regime. He put a very different gloss on the action, positioning it as an expansion of his power… and it was.
But it was an expansion compelled by the regime’s insecurity. At first glance, his move should succeed. But there are so many complex and competing interests involved that when Xi pushes on some, others could come loose.
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