Tag Archives: Iran

Bits and Pieces – 20171130, Thursday

WWIII: In case you weren’t sure China appears to have taken sides: China To Deploy Elite Troops In Syria To Fight Alongside Assad’s Army.

Climate: For the record: Health Officials Warn: 40,000 Could Die As Britain Hit With 3 Week Long Arctic Cold.

Bits and Pieces: George Friedman gives a succinct overview of Iran’s geopolitical position in the Middle-East, along with US blunders: Iran Reshapes the Middle East.

Canada Corner: The Financial Stability Board (FSB) has released their 2017 list of global systemically important banks (G-SIBs) and a new addition is the Royal Bank of Canada. Wikipedia defines a systemically important financial institution (SIFI) as a bank, insurance company, or other financial institution whose failure might trigger a financial crisis. The Basel III accord specifically targets SIFIs by requiring increased bank capital reserves as capital surcharges. The table published by the FSB lists 5 levels of additional capital requirement with the Royal Bank being in the lowest or 1% level.

Of note in the Wikipedia article is the statement: Virtually every Systemically Important Financial Institution operates at the top level as a holding company made up of numerous subsidiaries. Should a SIFI default and particularly a savings bank, this would allow for an orderly structured dissolution of the SIFI in a manner that subsidiaries that have deposits and other financial assets of the general population might be kept operational with assets intact while other subsidiaries are wound up to satisfy creditors. The intent would be to avoid bail-ins of depositors although politicians might be bought off lobbied effectively to go the bail-in route to protect wealthy investors.

The US Federal Reserve examined the adequacy of Basil III provisions for systemic protection in the face of a financial crisis: Are Basel’s Capital Surcharges for Global Systemically Important Banks Too Small?. The assessment of an adequate capital reserve is complex, is probably SIFI-dependent and the Basel III requirements are likely far short of what is necessary to preserve some, if not all, of the 30 SIBs in the event of a global financial system collapse. Since the SIBs known as the “too big to fail” banks are bigger now than in the 2008 financial crisis, the next global crisis will likely be unstoppable. The interconnected nature of the global financial system guarantees the entire house of cards will come down.

We may see one (RBC) or two of the major Canadian banks fail but all may go down due to inter-dependencies. Those banks with the highest international exposure may be the most at risk from a global systemic crisis. I have commented earlier how the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) has capital sufficient to ensure less than 1% of the deposit base, so your money may be at risk.

The general recommendation by smart asset managers and authors is to  invest part of your capital in hard assets like precious metals and (farm) land. The wealthier are investing in fine art, antiques and precious stones. These will remain when money is totally devalued.

As a final note I would recommend cryptocurrencies only as a speculation in the same class as Dutch tulip bulbs were at one time. I read a reference in the past week to some fellow who lost his hard drive (in an unspecified manner) with the cryptographic keys to his 7500 Bitcoins which are now part of the estimated 4 million lost forever. At around $11,000 a coin currently that has to hurt.

Bits and Pieces – 20171117, Friday

Commentary: In Bits and Pieces – 20170731, Monday, I discussed why Bitcoin can’t be considered to be a currency. Martin Armstrong, in discussion of the “petrodllar” (Is the Dollar Really a Petrodollar anymore?), lists its key features:

  1. it can be used worldwide without permission from the USA as is the case with the Japanese yen;
  2. it is a single currency with a single federal debt market where BIG money can park – that is not the case for the Euro, Ruble, or Yuan.

Bits and Pieces – 20171112, Sunday

Commentary: A common theme that my wife and I discuss is the general we encounter incompetence on a daily basis. As an example, when we moved, our bank provided new cheques as requested but they coded them for a dormant and empty savings account. It came to my attention when the first cheque bounced. It cost me several hours and some momentary anxiety to fix the bank’s error, apologize to people that I had sent cheques to, pursue reimbursement of NSF fees both for myself and my vendors, etc. I left a bank official wondering how they issued cheques on an account that had no chequing privileges.

Bits and Pieces – 20171020, Friday

 

Commentary: After publishing my last commentary, Bits and Pieces – 20171013, Friday, I came across this video by Gordon T. Long: UnderTheLens – 09 21 17 – OCTOBER – Coming “Nationalization” of Markets. It subsumes my comments with the exception of the scenario of how the Fed might take over the US stock market. In the 26 minutes, he does a much more thorough job of documenting how central banks globally are the dominant players in many capital markets such as sovereign bonds, and are rapidly becoming the dominant players in stock markets.

In the case of stocks, where their “printed money” has gone is a puzzle. If they print a billion dollars and buy a billion worth of equities in the market, the money goes into the accounts of the sellers. What do the sellers do with it? Do they use it to ‘walk the market higher’ isolating the new money in the market or do they take it out and move it into the economy causing inflationary pressures?

Already, in some sovereign bond markets, there is a liquidity problem, Investment funds and pension funds have traditionally used sovereign bonds as a a stable, low-risk component of their portfolios. These institutions are finding that they can’t get the bonds they require because the governments are mopping them up. The other problem is that these are not free markets and proper risk and price discovery simply can’t happen. Given the global history of sovereign defaults, particularly by the top economies, a zero interest or negative rate sovereign bond is simply not pricing in the real, if small, risk of a sovereign default. With central bank taking over ownership in these markets the risk of default is rising because so far, current monetary policy is proving to be a one way street.

Bits and Pieces – 20161212, Monday

What We’re Reading Today

Commentary: The Democrat strategy may be emerging. A coordination disinformation campaign to blame Russia for influencing and actively intervening (hacking) in the electoral process to discredit Hillary, for the purpose of swaying electoral college votes from Trump to Hillary. Here’s a good summary:

and this would explain: Clinton Campaign, Top Democrats Call For Intel Briefing, Commission Ahead Of Electoral College Vote. This is a true Charlie Brown moment where Lucy (the MSM and Democratic establishment) is holding the football (believe the CIA report) for Charlie (the public).

On the topic: FBI Disputes CIA’s “Fuzzy And Ambiguous” Claims That Russia Sought To Influence Presidential Election.

Climate: Trump, if inaugerated, may issue in a more balanced approach to the politics and economics of climate science: Shifting sands of the climate debate.

Bits and Pieces: One more apple cart for Trump to upset: Iran Warns Of “World War, The Destruction Of Israel”, If Trump Tears Up Nuclear Pact. When Trump won, I was greatly relieved, putting my nuclear preparedness on the back burner. Unfortunately Trump seems to have turned the back burner on low with China, but Iran would advance it to medium. If he decides to continue the recent re-engagement that Obama has created in Syria and adopt Hillary’s playbook of a no-fly zone, them it moves to high.

On another note: Trump’s Wisconsin Victory Confirmed – Gained Net 162 Votes In Statewide Recount. Way to go Jill!

Are we setting up for an executive pardon: Hillary Begs For Benghazi Lawsuit Dismissal While Plaintiffs Blast “Special Favors” For “Political Elite”? But this one’s not going so well: xPA Judge Denies Recount And Blasts Stein’s “Suspicions Of Hacking” That “Border On Irrational”.

I guess that any car left on the street overnight in Detroit will now be legally drivable: Michigan Legalizes Car Sales With No Steering Wheel or Brake Pedal.

The Middle East: A Simmer Or a Rolling Boil?

This morning we decided that it is time to put together a current view of the Middle East centered on ISIS. To this end, we link several very comprehensive articles but with little commentary of our own other than a bit of glue between the pieces.

Circling the Wagons

We have have made a conscious decision to circle the wagons. We see a high probability of

  1. a stock market correction of 30-50% if not an outright crash;
  2. a recession that will rival or surpass the 2007 recession which some argue has never ended;
  3. a world war with the US and western nations on one side and Russia and China on the other side either individually but more likely together, and Canada will do whatever the US wants in this situation;
  4. social revolution in many of the states currently in crisis including France, Spain, Italy, Eastern European countries, Latin American countries and Southeast Asia countries; North Korea will attack South Korea even if a larger Pacific conflict doesn’t erupt;
  5. there will be widespread social discord in countries that don’t experience revolution and the US in particular will use unprecedented suppression of its population, possibly ending the republic;
  6. the Sunni/Shiite divide will come to the brink of nuclear war as Iran builds the bomb and Saudi Arabia repatriates the nuclear weapons that it has paid Pakistan to develop for it;
  7. a global financial crisis of a size never seen before including multiple currency collapses and sovereign defaults;
  8. central banks and governments will be largely powerless to stop an economic collapse because they’ve spent all their ammunition already;
  9. and watch the drought in California produce massive food price inflation if the rains don’t come this year.

Some of these conditions are already underway in countries like Argentina, France, Greece, Spain, Ukraine, Venezuela, and most of the Mideast. We expect a major global event from this list to occur this year and certainly by next year. Since we are globally connected as never before, one event will trigger a cascade through others.

Israelis, Saudis and the Iranian Agreement

Stratfor

By George Friedman

A deal between Iran and the P-5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) was reached Saturday night. The Iranians agreed to certain limitations on their nuclear program while the P-5+1 agreed to remove certain economic sanctions. The next negotiation, scheduled for six months from now depending on both sides’ adherence to the current agreement, will seek a more permanent resolution. The key players in this were the United States and Iran. The mere fact that the U.S. secretary of state would meet openly with the Iranian foreign minister would have been difficult to imagine a few months ago, and unthinkable at the beginning of the Islamic republic.

Obama Has Secured His Legacy …

… as the most inept and disastrous president in American history.

In terms of domestic policy, Obamacare continues to unfold as a colossal socialist blunder. Never mind that the implementation has been a total screw-up and that initial projections of enrollment are out by an order of magnitude or more. Never mind that it has created structural damage to the employment  situation where tens of thousands of jobs have been deleted or changed from full-time to part-time (read Mike Shedlock: Jobs vs. Employment Analysis Suggests Huge Obamacare Impact (And Way Less Job Growth than Anyone Thinks)

It is the ongoing personal cost hidden in millions of little stories of people who have lost all coverage (such as: Latest Obamacare Glitch: One-Third of Enrollees May Not Get Insurance) or are paying multiples of what they previously paid for less coverage. Watch for massive fraud arising from phony insurers and lost personal identification information (read: No security ever built into Obamacare site: Hacker). A major negative transformation is taking place in the American healthcare system, one which will take years to fully emerge – if it survives at all.

U.S. and Iranian Realities

By George Friedman

U.S. President Barack Obama called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week in the first such conversation in the 34 years since the establishment of the Islamic Republic. The phone call followed tweets and public statements on both sides indicating a willingness to talk. Though far from an accommodation between the two countries, there are reasons to take this opening seriously — not only because it is occurring at such a high level, but also because there is now a geopolitical logic to these moves. Many things could go wrong, and given that this is the Middle East, the odds of failure are high. But Iran is weak and the United States is avoiding conflict, and there are worse bases for a deal.

Iran’s Surge

Though the Iranians are now in a weak strategic position, they had been on the offensive since 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq. They welcomed the invasion; Saddam Hussein had been a mortal enemy of Iran ever since the 1980-1989 Iran-Iraq War. The destruction of his regime was satisfying in itself, but it also opened the door to a dramatic shift in Iran’s national security situation.

Iraq was Iran’s primary threat after the collapse of the Soviet Union because it was the only direction from which an attack might come. A pro-Iranian or even neutral Iraq would guarantee Iranian national security. The American invasion created a power vacuum in Iraq that the U.S. Army could not fill. The Iranians anticipated this, supporting pro-Iranian elements among the Shia prior to 2003 and shaping them into significant militias after 2003. With the United States engaged in a war against Sunni insurgents, the Shia, already a majority, moved to fill the void.

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