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I want to reach a larger audience and I need your help. Thanks.
"You are not supposed to "believe" in science. That is what separates science from religion and politics!" -- Michael Rivero
As unrealized losses piled up, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) gradually, then suddenly became insolvent, followed by the collapse of Signature Bank and people beginning to wake up to issues pervading our financial system. Modern day bank runs, though digital, can force banks to sell reserve assets at a loss, inevitably leading to insolvency.
As Balaji Srinivasan has pointed out, what was once considered the gold standard for risk-free reserve assets is now on the precipice of a potential new banking crisis. Is this the end of the U.S. treasury as we know it?
If nothing else, the events over the weekend — from SVB’s failure to issues with other financial institutions to alarming intervention by the government — demonstrate just how fragile the system has become, underscoring its dependence upon money printing even as it is being undone by the low-yield, low-interest-rate environment that was caused by the printing in the first place. The dichotomy is stark, but there are lessons to be learned.
YOU CAN’T TAPER A PONZI: WHY THE LEGACY BANKING SYSTEM IS RIPE FOR FAILURE
The way the banking system works is, essentially, banks take your deposits and lend them out at higher interest rates than they pay you. They often keep reserves in U.S. treasury bonds, among other things, and everything seems to work until it doesn’t.
On Thursday the New York Times ran yet another report about Saudi Arabia’s entry into an “Abraham Accord,” but if only certain conditions could be met. It quoted longtime Israel lobby heavyweight Martin Indyk and reported on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s think tank the Washington Institute for Near East Policy “expert” delegation’s visit to Riyadh to finalize a deal. Then on Friday explosive news broke that China had successfully concluded a secret peace agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The plan aims to restore diplomatic relations by reopening embassies within two months. They also agree to restart their April 2001 Security Cooperation. Also back on the front burner is a 1998 General Agreement covering economic, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports and youth ties. It is well worth reading the entire statement.
As it often does, the New York Times quickly updated its March 9 story in an attempt not to look foolish having given too much credence to Israel lobby guidance.
On Sunday afternoon, September 14, 2008, hundreds of employees of the financial giant Lehman Brothers walked into the bank’s headquarters at 745 Seventh Avenue in New York City to clear out their offices and desks.
Lehman was hours away from declaring bankruptcy. And its collapse the next day triggered the worst economic and financial devastation since the Great Depression.
The S&P 500 fell by roughly 50%. Unemployment soared. And more than 100 other banks failed over the subsequent 12 months. It was a total disaster.
These bank, it turned out, had been using their depositors’ money to buy up special mortgage bonds. But these bonds were so risky that they eventually became known as “toxic securities” or “toxic assets”.
These toxic assets were bundles of risky, no-money-down mortgages given to sub-prime “NINJAs”, i.e. borrowers with No Income, No Job, no Assets who had a history of NOT paying their bills.
When the economy was doing well in 2006 and 2007, banks earned record profits from their toxic assets.
But when economic conditions started to worsen in 2008, those toxic assets plunged in value… and dozens of banks got wiped out.
Now here we go again.
Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The report, which cited people familiar with the matter, said Xi is also planning to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week and will likely hold his talk with Zelensky following his trip to Russia.
The report indicates Xi is looking to mediate between the two sides and comes after Beijing released a 12-point peace plan for the conflict in Ukraine that focuses on calling for a pause in fighting and a resumption of peace talks.
Zelensky expressed openness to China’s proposal, but it was dismissed by President Biden and other US officials. Biden rejected altogether the idea of China mediating an end to the war that wouldn’t solely benefit Russia.
A senior Ukrainian government official told The Washington Post that Kyiv doesn’t have the resources to pull off a big counteroffensive in the coming months as Ukraine is lacking skilled troops, munitions, and other equipment.
“If you have more resources, you more actively attack,” said the official, who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity. “If you have fewer resources, you defend more. We’re going to defend. That’s why if you ask me personally, I don’t believe in a big counteroffensive for us. I’d like to believe in it, but I’m looking at the resources and asking, ‘With what?’ Maybe we’ll have some localized breakthroughs.”
The official said Ukraine doesn’t have “the people or weapons” to pull off a counteroffensive. “And you know the ratio: When you’re on the offensive, you lose twice or three times as many people. We can’t afford to lose that many people,” the official said.
On March 18 protesters will gather at the White House to call for an end to Joe Biden’s cruel proxy war. "Cruel" is the operative word, because the war cynically uses Ukrainians as cannon fodder to weaken Russia and bring about regime change.
We should all be there – or at one of the 5 sister demonstrations in other cities listed here.
The March 18 Rally is organized by a variety of progressive organizations, including ANSWER Coalition, Black Alliance for Peace, Code Pink , The People’s Forum and UNAC (United National Antiwar Coalition). (A more complete list may be found here.)
Only a month ago on February 19, the first national demonstration to oppose the US proxy against Russia in Ukraine broke the ice and drew thousands to Washington under the banner of Rage Against the War Machine. It was organized by the leftist Peoples Party and the Libertarian Party to organize an anti-interventionist movement across the entire political spectrum. Continuing its effort for the broadest possible antiwar movement, Rage Against the War Machine has also called for joining the March 18 demonstration. Everyone in; nobody out!
Comments from both Washington and Beijing have suddenly become much more pointed and aggressive in recent days, with talk about hot war now being discussed as not just a real possibility but in many cases as a probability. Let's have a look at some of the most significant recent developments.
Beijing comments on US encirclement
The Chinese government has finally broken from its usual restrained commentary on the way the empire has been aggressively encircling the PRC with war machinery in ways that Washington would never permit itself to be encircled and waging economic warfare that it itself would never tolerate.
"Western countries—led by the U.S.—have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression against us, bringing unprecedentedly severe challenges to our country’s development," President Xi Jinping said in a speech last week.
China's new Foreign Minister Qin Gang followed up on Xi's comments the next day with a warning of “conflict and confrontation” should US aggressions and encirclement continue.
Middle East and North African countries remained among the world’s largest global arms importers in 2022, despite global attention on arms shipments to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, according to a report published on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
“Even as arms transfers have declined globally, those to Europe have risen sharply due to the tensions between Russia and most other European states,” said Pieter D Wezeman, senior researcher with the Sipri arms transfers programme, according to a Sipri press statement.
“Arms imports to East Asia have increased and those to the Middle East remain at a high level,” Wezeman said.
The oldest Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail was released on Monday after serving beyond a 17-year sentence for arms smuggling, an advocacy group and his son have said.
Fuad Shubaki, 83, was released from Ashkelon prison and is "on his way to Ramallah" in the occupied West Bank, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoner's Club said, which was confirmed by Shubaki's son Hazem.
Shubaki, a senior member of the Fatah movement, was arrested by Palestinian security forces in 2002 at the height of the second intifada, or uprising.
When New Delhi stripped Indian-administered Kashmir of its limited autonomy in 2019, the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government defended the move, claiming it will wipe out a decades-old armed rebellion in the disputed region.
Three years later, the same government is reviving a civilian militia, called the Village Defence Guards (VDGs), in the region’s southern Jammu area.
The White House budget is calling for more troops with next year’s budget, but that hoped-for result, as administration budgets are, is tempered by the reality that low national unemployment and a shrinking pool of young people interested in serving means it’s harder and harder to recruit.
The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2024 budget is calling for 2,074,000 men and women in uniform, according to documents released Monday. That number is 13,334 fewer than it was authorized for last year, but 12,355 more than the Defense Department estimates are currently serving, reflecting a recent recruiting and retention environment that has shown some gaps.
The U.S. Air Force's 2024 Fiscal Year budget request includes plans to divest 310 aircraft, while acquiring just 95 new ones. The service is looking to make substantial new investments in next-generation capabilities and argues that it needs to keep retiring old platforms to free up resources in support of these critical modernization efforts.
The total proposed Fiscal Year 2024 budget for the Department of the Air Force, which includes the U.S. Space Force, is 215.1 billion, excluding so-called "pass-through" funding. Ahead of the formal budget rollout today, the service had also provided additional details at a briefing at the Pentagon last Friday at which The War Zone was in attendance.
The Sunni Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Shia Republic of Iran have agreed – in a China brokered deal – to re-establish diplomatic relations within the coming two months.
Question is, will this new Riyadh-Tehran diplomacy bring an end to the horrendously atrocious war in Yemen? The worst killing and maiming of a most impoverished people in the last hundred years. Maybe this was a key objective of China’s in bringing these two countries back together.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries broke down in January 2016, when Iran’s Foreign Minister claimed that Saudi warplanes had “deliberately” targeted Iran’s Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital city.
As a precursor to that event, on 2 January 2016, the Saudi Government executed 47 people throughout Saudi cities, one of them was a prominent Shia scholar. Iranian protesters about the execution ransacked and set ablaze the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.
This prompted the Saudi Sunni Foreign Minister to cut diplomatic ties with Shia enemy Iran. In hindsight and knowing what we know today, this rather harsh action by the Saudis, smells like provoked and directed by the powers that be – the US and the UK; those who also are the principal arms suppliers to Riyadh for their war against Yemen.
The Riyadh-Tehran conflict is, in fact, a triangular conflict involving Yemen in the first degree.
The banks rebounded in premarket trading this morning with shares rising up to 50 percent after dramatic slides yesterday that sparked contagion fears over the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
Regional banks that suffered in yesterday's bloodbath were heading toward the green. First Republic Bank leapt as much as 51 percent in premarket action after a record 62 percent drop. PacWest climbed 40 percent and Western Alliance rose 22 percent.
The Big Four of trillion-dollar banks were all trending higher. Bank of America was ticking over 3.6 percent, Citigroup moved north of 2.5 percent, JP Morgan Chase hiked 1.9 percent and Wells Fargo made a 3.2 percent stride to the good.
The Treasury Department has agreed to let House Oversight Committee members review suspicious activity reports pertaining to President Biden’s family, panel Chairman James Comer announced Tuesday.
The records submitted by banks to the US government may contain new bombshells on the first family’s murky foreign income and the millions reaped by first son Hunter Biden and first brother James Biden in countries where their powerful relative held sway.
“After two months of dragging their feet, the Treasury Department is finally providing us with access to the suspicious activity reports for the Biden family and their associates’ business transactions,” Comer (R-Ky.) said.
“It should never have taken us threatening to hold a hearing and conduct a transcribed interview with an official under the penalty of perjury for Treasury to finally accommodate part of our request.”
Democrats and their progressive allies are vastly expanding their unprecedented efforts, begun in 2020, to use private money to influence and run public elections.
Supported by groups with more than $1 billion at their disposal, according to public records, these partisan groups are working with state and local boards to influence functions that have long been the domain of government or political parties.
Registering and turning out voters - once handled primarily by political parties – and design of election office websites and mail-in ballots are being handed over to those same nonprofits, which oare staffed by progressive activists that include former Democratic Party advocates, organized labor adherents and community organizers.
Republicans have opposed such efforts, passing legislation in 24 states since 2020 curbing the private financing of elections. But the GOP does not have a comparable, boots-on-the-ground effort to influence election boards and workers, and the private-funding bans haven’t proved absolute in some states.
I am frequently asked: why are the government agencies still pushing COVID-19 vaccination after there have been calls in the US Senate and all around the world to pull them off the market for lack of safety and efficacy?
In a March 10, 2023 letter from FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, MD, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, to Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, MD, PhD, the agencies give their rationale. While Walensky does not have a compelling academic track record, her FDA counterpart Califf has been considered a staunch advocate of randomized trials and a hawk on safety of cardiovascular drugs over his career which was notable for building the Duke Clinical Research Institute, one of the most impressive academic research organizations in the world.
Here are 10 assertions that Califf and Walensky make to Ladapo and Americans on why the COVID-19 vaccines should be “pushed.”
Former Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, slammed the IMF for callously unleashing riots on nations the IMF is dealing with; he pointed out that the riots are written into the IMF plan to force Nations to agree with the average 111 conditions laid down by the IMF, that destroys a country’s democracy and independence.
Having captured political power in Sri Lanka on the back of a CIA instigated jockstrap-insurrection that delivered the country to the jaws of the IMF, there are ominous signs that the Americans are now hatching the classic IMF-riot to consolidate their triumph and create a climate to induct Quad military forces into the island; American occupation of Sri Lanka would then be a fait accompli.
The IMF (one of the two global money lenders purposefully favoured with the monopoly and authority to lend to world governments, from Bretton Wood days) controls Sri Lanka’s Executive, the Administration, and the Legislature.
The words attributed to Amschel Rothschild are perhaps relevant here; he reportedly said, I care not who makes a country’s laws; any fool can do it. Give me control of that country’s money supply and I shall rule that country.”
Moody’s Investors Service placed First Republic Bank and five other US lenders on review for downgrade, the latest sign of concern over the health of regional financial firms following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
Western Alliance Bancorp., Intrust Financial Corp., UMB Financial Corp., Zions Bancorp. and Comerica Inc. were the other lenders put on review by Moody’s. The credit rating company cited concerns over the lenders’ reliance on uninsured deposit funding and unrealized losses in their asset portfolios.
Digital media company BuzzFeed swung to a fourth-quarter loss on reduced overall revenues and a non-cash goodwill impairment charge.
BuzzFeed brought in $134.6 million in overall revenues during the fourth quarter. The digital media company ended the quarter with $106 million in net losses, compared to a year-earlier profit of $41.5 million.
During the latest quarter, BuzzFeed posted a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $102.3 million, in part due to a steep decline in the value of the company’s stock price in December 2022.
Credit Suisse shares fell five percent to an all-time low in early trading on Tuesday after the bank confirmed material weaknesses and an $8billion loss in 2022, just hours after a financial expert claimed it would be the next institution to fall following SVB.
Last night, Robert Kiyosaki - a metals investor and author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad who accurately predicted the 2008 fall of Lehman Brothers - warned during an appearance on Fox Business, that 'the problem' is the bond market, and that Credit Suisse - the eighth largest investment bank in the world- was most vulnerable.
'My prediction, I called Lehman Brothers years ago, and I think the next bank to go is Credit Suisse because the bond market is crashing. The bond market is much bigger than the stock market. The Fed is up and they're the firemen and the arson,' he said.
In case you missed President Bribem’s speech today let me provide you with my assessment of its key points. I learned three things: That the financial system is on the point of collapse; that the bank will be bailed out with taxpayer money + the printing press; that those responsible for the collapse will as always get away scot free, bonuses in pocket. What did Bribem say to make me draw these conclusions?
That the financial system is on the point of collapse: Bribem “Americans can have confidence that the banking system is safe. Your deposits will be there when you need them.”
That the bank will be bailed out with taxpayer money + the printing press: Bribem “No losses will be borne by the taxpayers. They [investors] knowingly took a risk, and when the risk didn’t pay off, investors lose their money”
Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, the leader of Turkey's Republican People's Party (CHP), has emerged as the main challenger to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in elections scheduled for May 14. Kilicdaroglu hopes to deprive Erdogan of a third term as he grapples with the country's economic crisis and the fallout from last February's devastating earthquakes.
Turkey's presidential campaign officially kicked off on March 10 and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is running for a third mandate, now knows who his main opponent is.
Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, 74, a bookish former bureaucrat, is often described by observers as Erdogan’s polar opposite. He was chosen by the Table of Six, an alliance of the six main opposition parties, after weeks of negotiations and debates.
"Today, we are very close to overthrowing the tyrant's throne," Kiliçdaroglu said the day after his nomination.
"Together, we will end this madness,” he added.
Mark Zuckerberg is expected to slash thousands of jobs on Wednesday as Meta comes down hard on 'projects that aren't performing'.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, is reportedly preparing to make thousands of cuts to its policy, marketing and communications teams in particular, only months after laying off 11,000 staff in November.
This comes as part of Zuckerberg's 'year of efficiency', cutting functions and features deemed non-essential as the company looks to rein in its finances and prioritize new offerings.
As startups race to integrate AI into their products, they are running into a major roadblock: spiraling costs, caused by the immense computing power required to process AI queries.
CNBC reports on one startup, video game company Latitude, which found itself paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a month to process millions of AI requests from users: at least as much as its expenses for human employees.
Researchers have discovered why breast cancer cells that have spread to the lungs may wake up following years of sleep and form incurable tumours.
Around 44,000 Brits and 210,000 Americans are diagnosed with the most common type of breast cancer — oestrogen receptor positive (ER+) — every year.
These patients remain at risk of their cancer recurring in another part of their body for decades after their initial diagnosis, even after successful treatment.
Now, experts have discovered the mechanism that triggers this cancer 'time bomb' in the lungs — one of the most common places the cancer can spread to.
And an existing cancer drug can slow the growth of these secondary tumours, their study on mice suggests.
Silicon Valley Bank's new CEO emailed customers to tell them it's 'business as usual' despite the 'extremely challenging' past few days - as employees were left asking how their former bosses could make 'absolutely idiotic' errors of judgement.
Tim Mayopoulos was named as the new chief executive officer on Monday morning, after the government fired the existing managers including boss Greg Becker.
'Silicon Valley Bank, N.A. is open and conducting business as usual,' wrote Mayopolous, in an email to all clients sent on Monday afternoon.
A week ago an interesting story surfaced briefly in the news about how the developing Republican presidential candidate bids by Nikki Haley and others had been attacked over the past eleven months by possibly as many as hundreds of thousands of false automated personas, referred to in the trade as “bots,” on Twitter and other internet based social media. Interestingly, the activity was discovered and shared with Associated Press by an Israeli internet security company called Cyabra, which also claimed that the “bots” generation seem to have originated in three separate networks of false Twitter accounts. The accounts appear to have been created in the United States and it is believed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications are increasingly being used to create completely lifelike fake personas, extremely difficult for security filters and censors to detect.
The article claimed that those thousands of electronically generated non-persons had been programmed to disparage Haley and Ron DeSantis and others, often using “fake news” or alleged leaks of embarrassing personal information, while also praising the virtues of Donald Trump. The apparent intention was to build popular support for Trump by exploiting the social media sites’ algorithms to reach a large audience at the expense of the other possible GOP candidates. There are also concerns among some Republicans that the effort to give life to the Trump campaign by materially impacting on online political discussion might possibly be orchestrated and paid for by major outside interests that could actually be either foreign or criminal. Of course, as the operation has been exposed by an Israeli company, the possibility exists that the story is itself at least in part a false flag to plausibly deny any involvement by the Jewish state if that were to be demonstrable.
After the 9/11 attacks, terrorism became the ultimate entitlement program for America’s political elite. Whether it is illegally spying on Americans or blowing Somali dissidents to smithereens, invoking terrorism justifies any attack favored by for Washington policymakers. But the disastrous results of granting politicians a blank check should have been undeniable almost 60 years ago.
Back in the 1960s, terrorism was what the communists did. Antiterrorist moral fervor and ideological blinders propelled the U.S. into its biggest foreign policy blunder since World War Two.
As the French Foreign Legion struggled to reconquer Vietnam in the wake of World War II, the U.S. government constantly embellished the storyline to demonize the communist opposition. A CIA operative provided materials for a massive bomb that ripped through a main square in Saigon in 1952. A Life magazine photographer was waiting on the scene, and his resulting snap appeared with a caption blaming the carnage on Viet Minh Communists. The New York Times headlined its report: “Reds’ Time Bombs Rip Saigon Center.” The bombing was touted as “one of the most spectacular and destructive single incidents in the long history of revolutionary terrorism” committed by “agents here of the Vietminh.” The press coverage boosted public support for U.S. government aid to the French army fighting the Communists.