Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Europe's Controlled Demolition, Greece Misses IMF Payment, Plunges Into Uncertainty, 75 Trillion Dollar Shadow Banking System In Danger





Europe's Controlled Demolition | Zero Hedge



I have plenty to say on the topic of this essay. But the most important thing I think is that I know the EU is blowing up itself by trying to exert far too much influence on the very member nations that made its existence possible. Brussels is a blind city. To see it blowing itself to smithereens makes me very happy.

The flipside is that it will take a lot of pain, and probably even the very wars the EU was originally founded to prevent, to figuratively burn it to the ground. But that, if you’ll allow me, is for another day:
Loads of good words published today on EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Greeks, and the crop gets creamier, there’s fake Nobles winners and all joining in, but this is not a new issue, guys, and the lot of you are quite late to the game.
Moreover, y’all Krugmans and Stiglitzes fully missed something that happened while Juncker was ‘speaking’ yesterdayJean-Claude changed the entire game in one brilliant move. 

What changed is that after Juncker’s speech, the discussion is no longer about data or numbers or facts anymore (but who understands that?), because he never mentioned them.
It’s instead now about fear and fight and flight and various other base instincts, you name them. And that’s not a coincidence. The reason he, and the EU as a whole, resort to this ‘message’ (and no, these guys’ spin teams are not stupid) is to a substantial extent that it’s simply all they have left.
Whatever they had to present in the way of numbers, data etc. has already been rejected by the Greek government 100 times. Since their data have since the start been diametrically opposed to what Syriza stands for and was elected on, which they knew, that should be no surprise, and indeed never was for the Troika.

I’ve written this story a hundred different times before already: the EU is an organization led by people with, let’s define this subtly and carefully, sociopathic traits (Antisocial Personality Disorder), simply because the EU structure self-selects for such people. As do all other supra-national organizations, and quite a few national ones too, but let’s stick with Brussels for now.

Many of you will say that you can’t say that kind of thing, you can’t call Juncker a sociopath. But the fact is, I can. Who can not say it are Tsipras and Varoufakis, not in public. But I wouldn’t even want to guess at the number of times they’ve done so in private. And it’s high time we lift the veil on this. We are being governed by sociopaths, and that’s by no means just a European thing.

And besides, in general it’s not something that we should refrain from talking about. The reason we do is, I bet you, is because we don’t know how to recognize the traits and characteristics. But in fact, that’s not hard. Just plucked this off the interwebs in 2 seconds flat:
Profile of the Sociopath
• Glibness and Superficial Charm.
• Manipulative and Conning.
• Never recognize rights of others, see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. …
• Grandiose Sense of Self. …
• Pathological Lying. …
• Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt. …
• Shallow Emotions. …
• Incapacity for Love, Compassion
• Need for Stimulation.

The main one for me is the lack on empathy, compassion. That got 1000s killed in Ukraine, and in the Mediterranean, and now in Greece. All deathly dramas Brussels could have prevented, and chose not to. In Brussels and Berlin, it’s more important that countries toe the line than that their citizens actually survive.

Europe has moved, at a very rapid clip, from a union of 28 different sovereign states, each with their own governments and political views and directions, to one where a top heavy bureaucratic structure, hand-puppeted on by a mere handful member states and systemic banks, dictate what each member state, both its politicians and its citizens, may do or not do. Or think. Electing a left wing government, for instance, equals asking for trouble.

There is no democracy left in Europe, people have no direct say anymore, there’s just a two-pronged dictatorship: there’s Merkel and Hollande, who in the Greek crisis have proven themselves to be mere tools to vested interests, and I’m being extremely kind now, and there’s Juncker and Tusk and Dieselflower, who are really just inconsequential sociopathic wankers that could at any moment be replaced by other hammers and screwdrivers.

Bullying sovereign nations gets old, fast. What you guys are at the moment doing to Greece, you won’t be able to repeat against Italy or Spain. They’ll have you for breakfast.
The EU, which is made up of 28 democratic and sovereign nations, is being run like some absolute kingdom, ostensibly led by a 24/7 drunk. How long do you think that can last?






Greece officially missed a payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and saw its bailout expire on Tuesday (30 June), capping a fortnight of tumultuous politics.
The developments leave Athens without international support for the first time since 2010 and facing a referendum that some EU politicians say will determine its future in the eurozone.
Greece is now in "arrears" on an €1.5 billion bill, the IMF said at midnight Brussels time - a status which sees the EU and Nato member join the ranks of Cuba and Zimbabwe.
Tuesday also saw the country's EU-IMF bailout run out despite last minute manouverings by the Greek government to get better terms from creditors.
Euro finance ministers are due to talk at 5.30pm Brussels time on Wednesday about the Greek PM’s, Alexis Tsipras’, last-minute call for a third rescue package.
His appeal is designed to help Greece make international repayments due in the coming two years and to restructure its overall debt pile. 
But the third bailout call was immediately rejected by creditors on Tuesday as coming too late.
“We won’t negotiate about anything new at all until a referendum, as planned, takes place,” said the German chancellor Angela Merkel. “This evening the programme expires.”
Merkel also plans to address the Bundestag at 1pm local time on Wednesday.
But despite her tough words, the events are a major political blow to the eurozone, whose foundation is based on the irrevocability of the single currency. They’re also a blow for the EU as a whole, which has been trying to find a solution to the Greece crisis for five years.
The left-wing Greek government and its creditors had been going back and forth since February on what reforms the country needs to carry out to get a €7.2 billion aid pay-out.
As the months slipped by and various deadlines came and went, the bad feeling between the two sides grew, reaching a climax at the end of last week when Tsipras unexpectedly called the referendum, saying his nation is being humiliated.
Eurozone finance ministers then rejected his call for a bailout extension until after the 5 July plebiscite. They also hit back at Tsipras in a display of blunt language rarely seen at leader level.
The situation leaves Greek people facing a vote on Sunday on the terms of a bailout which has already expired. 
France, Germany, and the European Commission have said that a No vote would amount to rejection of the euro - which could lead the country to exiting the single currency, despite uncertainty on the legal basis for such a move.
A Yes vote will not bring immediate relief either, however. 
Any new package would take time to negotiate and then be ratified by other eurozone parliaments. There is also the question of whether a new government would need to be elected, with Tsipras having indicated that he would step down in the event of a Yes.
The latest poll for EFSYN put the No camp ahead on 46 percent and the Yes on 37 percent with 17 percent undecided.







Keep an eye on the shadow banking system – it is about to be shaken to the core.  According to the Financial Stability Board, the size of the global shadow banking system has reached an astounding 75 trillion dollars.  It has approximately tripled in size since 2002.  In the U.S. alone, the size of the shadow banking system is approximately 24 trillion dollars.  At this point, shadow banking assets in the United States are even greater than those of conventional banks.  These shadow banks are largely unregulated, but governments around the world have been extremely hesitant to crack down on them because these nonbank lenders have helped fuel economic growth.  But in the end, we will all likely pay a very great price for allowing these exceedingly reckless financial institutions to run wild.


If you are not familiar with the “shadow banking system," the following is a pretty good definition from investing answers.com


The shadow banking system (or shadow financial system) is a network of financial institutions comprised of non-depository banks — e.g., investment banks, structured investment vehicles (SIVs), conduits, hedge funds, non-bank financial institutions and money market funds.
How it works/Example:
Shadow banking institutions generally serve as intermediaries between investors and borrowers, providing credit and capital for investors, institutional investors, and corporations, and profiting from fees and/or from the arbitrage in interest rates.
Because shadow banking institutions don’t receive traditional deposits like a depository bank, they have escaped most regulatory limits and laws imposed on the traditional banking system. Members are able to operate without being subject to regulatory oversight for unregulated activities. An example of an unregulated activity is a credit default swap (CDS).


These institutions are extremely dangerous because they are highly leveraged and they are behaving very recklessly.  They played a major role during the financial crisis of 2008, and even the New York Fed admits that shadow banking has “increased the fragility of the entire financial system”…

Over the past decade, shadow banking has become a truly worldwide phenomenon, and thus it is a major threat to the entire global financial system.  In China, shadow banking has been growing by leaps and bounds, but this has the authorities deeply concerned.  In fact, according to Bloomberg one top Chinese regulator has referred to shadow banking as a “Ponzi scheme”…

Their growth had caused the man who is now China’s top securities regulator to label the off-balance-sheet products a “Ponzi scheme,” because banks have to sell more each month to pay off those that are maturing.


And what happens to all Ponzi schemes eventually?
In the end, they always collapse.
And when this 75 trillion dollar Ponzi scheme collapses, the global devastation that it will cause will be absolutely unprecedented.
As far as shadow banking is concerned, everything is just fine as long as markets just keep going up and up and up.
But once they start falling, the whole system can start falling apart very rapidly.  Here is more from Bill Gross on what might cause a “run on the shadow banks” in the near future…
If stocks and bonds start crashing, which is precisely what I have projected will happen during the last half of 2015, the shadow banking system is going to come under an extreme amount of stress.  If the coming global financial crisis is even half as bad as I believe it is going to be, there is no way that the shadow banking system is going to hold up.




This July 4th, it would be useful to take a look at what we have lost, in terms of freedoms, and what we still stand to lose. Like some other institutions in America, the July 4th celebration of freedom has become something of an obligatory exercise of patriotic fervor. And given the developments of the last few years, it may now be relatively empty of meaning.

For the first time in US history, we  have a President who has created—and invoked — the executive privilege ofordering the murders of US citizens without due process. While this has only been exercised a few times (to our knowledge), most notably with the 2011 assassination by drone strike of US born Muslim cleric Anwar al -Awlaki and subsequently of his son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the precedent now exists. This is not a privilege generally granted to a President in a free society. In fact, it is an action that is more redolent of a dictator, a Hitler or a Pol Pot whose purges of not only “enemies of the state,” but also of whomever pissed off the dictator, became part of our collective awareness that we, as Americans, were very fortunate not to live under these sorts of rulers.
The media seems to have forgotten the lessons of history, as far as tracking the slide into tyranny. Certainly, we are not seeing any general forum of public discussion as to how to respond to this level of legalized attack.
The potential repercussions of this prerogative seized by President Obama await realization. In the meantime, certain other blips on the political radar point to possible future outcomes. One of these potential outcomes is the possibility of the deployment of drones against US citizens within the borders of the US.
In a widely circulated letter, written by former US Attorney General Eric Holder in response to an inquiry by US Senator Rand Paul, Holder admitted that such drone deployment could be lawful. Wrote Holder:
“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.
There is more evidence that  “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” have gone out the window. When The Guardian broke the story this past February that the Chicago police were using a “black site” to detain people in Illinois without processing them legally and without allowing the detainees the right to contact anyone on the outside world, those on the “human rights watch” felt a collective shiver. Subsequent revelations that a mini-“black site” was extant in Los Angeles County simply confirmed the perception that the erosion of rights has become a landslide.

Let’s get real, here. The US government has stockpiles of both chemical and biological weapons, and as far as “paper rights” go, the government has great latitude to use these against US citizens. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which the US is a party to, allows the discretion of the party nations to allow domestic law enforcement agencies to use these weapons against their own citizens.
According to the Biological Weapons Convention, the use of biological weapons is not so permitted. However, when the United States Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001, that permission was indeed self-dealt. In the now infamous Section 817, the Expansion of the Biological Weapons Statute, the US government gave itself immunity from violating its own biological weapons laws.
In addition, there has been a landslide of reports that directed energy weapons,which are classified as non-lethal, are being tested on US citizens, without consent.
It might be time to reassess the fourth of July celebrations. Rather than munching on hot dogs and downing a few Budweisers and cooing at the gorgeous pyrotechnics, it might be time instead to hold a wake. And after we have buried Lady Liberty, maybe we can get down to the serious work of figuring out what to do now.





The Turkish and Jordanian armies were reported on June 30 to be getting ready to cross into Syria for the first time since war engulfed that country in 2011, and set up security buffer zones. Both are impelled to fight ISIS, oppose the Assad regime and anxious to stem the flow of refugees, but there are also differences in their objectives and it is not clear if they are coordinated.

Turkey has prepared 18,000 troops to carve out a buffer zone in northern Syria and use its air force to impose a no-fly zone against Syrian flights. Middle East sources report that the Jordanian army is also on the ready to cross into southern Syria. Jordan and Israel are reported to be planning joint air cover and the creation of a parallel no-fly zone in the south.

These preparations prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to pledge his support for the Assad regime .On Monday, June 29, Putin summoned Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem to his Kremlin office from a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to tell him that Russia’s "policy to support Syria, the Syrian leadership and the Syrian people remains unchanged."

Putin has repeatedly warned Western governments against military intervention in the Syrian war or any attempt to oust Bashar Assad, warning that if foreign troops go into Syria, Moscow will respond in kind.

The Russians have not spelled out what action is contemplated, but they have options: they maintain naval and marine forces in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions able to reach Syria at short notice. South Russian air force bases are also close enough to interfere with no-fly zones being setup over Syria.

Possible outside military intervention in Syria was the dominant topic in the phone call the Russian president put through to President Barack Obama on June 26. The communiqu├ęs in Moscow and Washington both referred to the “dangerous situation” in Syria. The two presidents also discussed the prospects of the nuclear accord shaping up with Iran, and the two issues may have been linked. The White House later stated that President Obama had stressed the need for the world powers to hold to a united stand in the negotiations with Iran.

Sources in Ankara claim that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already given Turkish units their orders to go into Syria, although this is not confirmed. Others use the term “Western intervention” - suggesting that US and NATO are involved in the Turkish initiative. This may refer to US Air Force squadrons based in southern Turkey possibly providing air cover.

Western and Middle East sources report that the Jordanian plan entails a joint operation with Syrian rebel forces to carve out a security zone in southern Syria running from Jabal Druze and Suwayda in the east running west through the town of Deraa and up to the intersection of the Jordanian-Syrian-Israeli borders.

Fierce fighting has been raging in this part of Syria in recent days as the rebels battle Syrian-Hizballah forces in an attempt to push them out and capture southern Syria. So far they have not made it.

The never-ending refugee problem from Syria is a major headache for the two governments. Turkey hosts some two million refugees and Jordan more than a million and a half. Stemming this flow is not the least of the goals of their buffer zone plans.


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