All posts by hollyhood

Mnuchin Tells IMF He Expects A "Frank And Candid" Exchange Rate Analysis

With the Trump administration having gone radio silent in recent weeks on the issue of currency manipulation and whether it sees the dollar, or other currencies, as under- or over-valued, there was a notable if vague update from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who spoke to the IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Tuesday and told her that he expects the IMF to provide “frank and candid” analysis of exchange rate policies.

There was no elaboration of what the apriori US stance was coming into the conversation.

The spokesperson said that in a phone call with Lagarde, Mnuchin also “noted the importance that the administration places on boosting economic growth and jobs in the United States, and looked forward to robust IMF economic policy advice on its member countries and tackling global imbalances.”

The readout from the a Treasury Spokesperson of Secretary Mnuchin’s Call with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde is below:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke by phone today with Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


In his conversation with Madame Lagarde, Secretary Mnuchin welcomed the key role the IMF plays in promoting global economic growth and stability and in preventing and responding to economic crisis.  He noted the importance the Administration places on boosting economic growth and jobs in the United States, and looked forward to robust IMF economic policy advice on its member countries and tackling global imbalances.  Secretary Mnuchin also underscored his expectation that the IMF provide frank and candid analysis of the exchange rate policies of IMF member countries.

Needless to say, a full transcript of the conversation would have been far more useful for all those wondering if the dollar is set to continue its recent growth spurt or if Mnuchin hinted that Trump would be happier with a lower dollar going forward.

Source: Zero Hedge

ISIS Suicide Bomber Identified As Former Guantanamo Detainee

A photograph released by ISIS of a suicide bomber in Mosul has been confirmed as British ex-Guantanamo detainee Jamal Al-Harith, who, as we previously detailed, fled to Syria after his release.

U.S. officials have said that about 30 percent of released detainees are suspected to have returned to the battlefield, including at least 12 freed during the administration of President George W. Bush who went on to launch attacks that killed about a half-dozen Americans. The exact number remains classified.


In January we noted a jihadi from Britain who claims to be a former Guantanamo Bay detainee has fled to Syria where he is now fighting for Al Qaeda.

Al-Britani claims he ‘spent years’ at Guantanamo Bay, where more than 700 of the world’s most dangerous Islamic terrorists were imprisoned in the aftermath of 9/11.


In an online magazine for fanatics, he writes: ‘Sitting in the blessed land of al-Shaam [Greater Syria], reflecting on those weeks and days spent behind bars, I thank Allah for releasing me and providing me with the opportunity of carrying out jihad in his path again.’


Al-Britani is the second British ex-Guantanamo detainee known to have fled to Syria to join jihadi groups. In October, it was reported that Muslim convert Jamal al-Harith, from Manchester, had fled to Syria to join Islamic State (IS).



At the time, he was reportedly fighting near Aleppo.


Al-Britani, who claims to be in his 30s, says he was in Afghanistan when the US-led coalition invaded the country in 2001.


He claims that he was based in the Tora Bora mountains when US troops arrived hunting for then Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden. Al-Britani and ten others were ordered to cross into Pakistan, where locals would help them travel to Lahore.

And now, as Channel4 reports, a family member and another independent source have confirmed to Channel 4 News that the picture, released by Islamic State,  is that of Jamal Al-Harith, born Ronald Fiddler, of Manchester.

An Isis statement claimed a man they named as Abu Zakariya al-Britani carried out a suicide attack near the Iraqi city of Mosul, and released an image and video of him in what they described as an “explosives-laden truck”.


Al-Harith’s family say that while he had traveled to an Islamic State group-controlled area, he would not have carried out such an attack.


His release from American detention was secured in 2004 by then-Home Secretary David Blunkett, who said at the time: “I think you’ll find that no one who has returned in the announcement today will actually pose a threat to the security of the British people.”

Perhaps most stunning, after he was detained in Afghanistan on suspicion of being an al-Qaeda fighter, he maintained he had been on a religious holiday in Pakistan immediately before the invasion, and the UK Government paid him compensation for his time in detention, reported to be £1 million.

As WaPo notes, the Obama administration has repatriated or resettled 179 prisoners, cutting the population from 242 when Bush left office. At its peak, the detention center housed more than 700 prisoners.

Source: Zero Hedge

A History Of The US Stock Market From 1899 To 2017 In Three Charts

This year’s edition of the Credit Suisse Global Investment Returns Yearbook is out, and as every other year, it remains full of curious and interesting trivia about the market’s composition and return performance over the past year.

While there are numerous fascinating observations – we encourage readers to peruse the full presentation at their leisure – below we present three charts highlighting the dramatic transformation of the US stock market starting in 1899 and continuing through today, showcasing its relative domination of all global equity markets, the relative sizes of world markets, and how significantly the equity composition has changed over the past 117 years.

Some brief observations from Credit Suisse:

Early in the 20th century, the US equity market overtook the UK and has since then been the world’s dominant stock market, although at the end of the 1980s Japan was very briefly the world’s largest market. At its peak, at start-1990, Japan accounted for almost 45% of the world index, compared with around 30% for the USA. Subsequently, as the right panel of Chart 1 attests, Japan’s weighting fell to just 8.4%, reflecting its extremely poor stock market performance since then. Our 23 countries accounted for 98% of world equity market capitalization at the start of 1900, and today they still represent some 91% of the investable universe.


Some thoughts on the market’s “Great Transformation” from Credit Suisse:

At the beginning of 1900 – the start date of our global returns database – virtually no one had driven a car, made a phone call, used an electric light, heard recorded music, or seen a movie; no one had flown in an aircraft, listened to the radio, watched TV, used a computer, sent an email, or used a smartphone. There were no x-rays, body scans, DNA tests, or transplants, and no one had taken an antibiotic; as a result, many would die young.


Mankind has enjoyed a wave of transformative innovation dating from the Industrial Revolution, continuing through the Golden Age of Invention in the late 19th century, and extending into today’s information revolution. This has given rise to entire new industries: electricity and power generation, automobiles, aerospace, airlines, telecommunications, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, computers, information technology, and media and entertainment. Meanwhile, makers of horse-drawn carriages and wagons, canal boats, steam locomotives, candles, and matches have seen their industries decline. There have been profound changes in what is produced, how it is made, and the way in which people live and work.


These changes can be seen in the shifting composition of the firms listed on world stock markets. Chart 2 shows the industrial composition of listed companies in the USA and the UK. The upper two pie charts show the position at the beginning of 1900, while the lower two show the beginning of 2017. Markets at the start of the 20th century were dominated by railroads, which accounted for 63% of US stock market value and almost 50% of UK value. More than a century later, railroads declined almost to the point of stock market extinction, representing less than 1% of the US market and close to zero in the UK market.


Of the US firms listed in 1900, more than 80% of their value was in industries that are today small or extinct; the UK figure is 65%. Besides railroads, other industries that have declined precipitously are textiles, iron, coal, and steel. These industries still exist, but have moved to lower-cost locations in the emerging world. Yet similarities between 1900 and 2017 are also apparent. The banking and insurance industries continue to be important. Similarly, such industries as food, beverages (including alcohol), tobacco, and utilities were present in 1900 just as they are today. And, in the UK, quoted mining companies were important in 1900 just as they are in London today.


But even industries that initially seem similar have often altered radically. For example, compare telegraphy in 1900 with smartphones in 2016. Both were high-tech at the time. Or contrast other transport in 1900 – shipping lines, trams, and docks – with their modern counterparts, airlines, buses, and trucking. Similarly, within industrials, the 1900 list of companies includes the world’s then-largest candle maker and the world’s largest manufacturer of matches. 


Another statistic that stands out from Chart 2 is the high proportion of today’s companies that come from industries that were small or non-existent in 1900, 62% by value for the USA and 47% for the UK. The largest industries in 2017 are technology (in the USA, but not the UK), oil and gas, banking, healthcare, the catch-all group of other industrials, mining (for the UK, but not the USA), telecommunications, insurance, and retail. Of these, oil and gas, technology, and healthcare (including pharmaceuticals and biotechnology) were almost totally absent in 1900. Telecoms and media, at least as we know them now, are also new industries.


Our analysis relates only to exchange-listed businesses. Some industries existed throughout the period, but were not always listed. For example, there were many retailers in 1900, but apart from the major department stores, these were often small, local outlets rather than national and global retail chains like Walmart or Tesco. Similarly, in 1900, a higher proportion of manufacturing firms were family owned and unlisted. In the UK and other countries, nationalization has also caused entire industries – railroads, utilities, telecoms, steel, airlines, and airports – to be delisted, often to be re-privatized at a later date. We included listed railroads, for example, while omitting highways that remain largely state-owned. The evolving composition of the corporate sector highlights the importance of avoiding survivorship bias within a stock market index, as well as across indexes.


In the 2015 Yearbook, we looked at long-run industry returns in the USA and UK since 1900, and asked whether investors should focus on new industries and shun the old, declining sectors. We showed that both new and old industries can reward as well as disappoint. It all depends on whether stock prices correctly embed expectations. For example, we noted above that, in stock market terms, railroads were the ultimate declining industry in the USA in the period since 1900. Yet, over the last 117 years, railroad stocks have beaten the US market, and outperformed both trucking stocks and airlines since these industries emerged in the 1920s and 1930s. Indeed, the research in the 2015 Yearbook indicated that, if anything, investors may have placed too high an initial value on new technologies, overvaluing the new, and undervaluing the old. We showed that an industry value rotation strategy helped lean against this tendency, and historically had generated superior returns.

Finally, a self-explanatory chart of the evolution of equity markets, and how the US has dominated throughout the past 117 years:

Full presentation below:

Source: Zero Hedge

Milo Yiannopoulos Resigns From Breitbart News

After earlier in the day, Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow said we can expect to learn later today whether the site will retain alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos after video surfaced of the writer justifying sex between adult men and minors, many expected that a resignation was inevitable.  On Breitbart’s radio show this morning, Marlow and Breitbart Washington editor Matt Boyle both described Yiannopoulos’ comments as “not defensible.”

Fast forward a few hours when moments ago Milo’s sudden fall from grace was complete, with his announcement that he is resigning from Breitbart News.

His press release is below:

Milo Yiannopoulos Resigns From Breitbart News Network


New York, NY — February 21, 2017 — Today, Milo Yiannopoulos, Senior Editor at Breitbart News, announced his resignation from the company.


“Breitbart News has stood by me when others caved. They have allowed me to carry conservative and libertarian ideas to communities that would otherwise never have heard them. They have been a significant factor in my success. I’m grateful for that freedom and for the friendships I forged there.


I would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues’ important reporting, so today I am resigning from Breitbart, effective immediately. This decision is mine alone.


When your friends have done right by you, you do right by them. For me, now, that means stepping aside so my colleagues at Breitbart can get back to the great work they do.”

Yiannopoulos will hold a snap press conference in New York City at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Source: Zero Hedge

Alan Greenspan is Now a Gold Bug? Say What?

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Alan Greenspan is Now a Gold Bug? Say What?

Written by Nathan McDonald (CLICK HERE FOR ORIGINAL)



Is 2017 even real? What kind of weird, fantastical twilight zone have we entered into? The world has been turned upside down and I will continue to point out the bizarre and unusual things that continue to be said and acted upon as we go forward. If past results are any future indication, then things are going to get a whole lot weirder.

Alan Greenspan, the “Maestro” of fiat money and one of the most prolific fiat money printers that the world has ever seen has entered into this bizarre alternative reality and is yes, now once again a gold bug!

To those of you who know your history, you will remember the following, written by Alan Greenspan in 1966:


“Under a gold standard, the amount of credit that an economy can support is determined by the economy’s tangible assets, since every credit instrument is ultimately a claim on some tangible asset. But government bonds are not backed by tangible wealth, only by the government’s promise to pay out of future tax revenues, and cannot easily be absorbed by the financial markets. A large volume of new government bonds can be sold to the public only at progressively higher interest rates. Thus, government deficit spending under a gold standard is severely limited. The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit.”

This common sense statement, which was just a part of Alan Greenspan’s larger work titled “Gold and Economic Freedom “, would be brought up over and over again during his tenure as the head of the Federal Reserve.

It would be pointed to time and time again, to showcase just how far he had gotten away from common sense and to highlight that once upon a time, Alan Greenspan didn’t just believe in money printing to infinity, he actually once believed in reality-based economics!

It appears, that either he has once again found “religion”, or he was just full of it during his time at the FED and was only pandering to Wall Street, attempting to appease them. He did this likely for his own profit, as he is once again returning to his past beliefs.

In a recent statement he had to following to say:

“Investment in gold now is insurance. It’s not for short-term gain, but for long-term protection.
Today, going back on to the gold standard would be perceived as an act of desperation. But if the gold standard were in place today, we would not have reached the situation in which we now find ourselves.”


This comes on the heels of a previous statement he made in 2014, which was dismissed by many at the time, but now proves that he truly does believe in this ideology given his recent doubling down:

“Intrinsic currencies like gold and silver are acceptable without a third party guarantee. Gold serves a very important place in monetary reserves…


Why did Central Banks put money into an asset which has no rate of return, but cost of storage and insurance and everything else like that – why are they doing that? If you look at the data, with very few exceptions, all of the developed countries have gold reserves. Why?”


So there you have it. Alan Greenspan, one of the biggest money printers of all time, has grown a conscience. Sadly for him, it’s a little too late for redemption. Perhaps he doesn’t want to go down as one of the most sadistic money printers of all time.

Perhaps he would now like to correct the error of his ways and return back to the sound common sense principles his young self once believed in. For that, we praise him, but this will never erase the reckless actions of his past, of which the true damage is yet to come. The greatest collapse of our modern times is on its way.




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Alan Greenspan is Now a Gold Bug? Say What?

Written by Nathan McDonald (CLICK HERE FOR ORIGINAL)

Source: Zero Hedge

CSX To Fire Over 20% Of Management-Level Employees

Earlier today, the WSJ reported that railroad giant CSX Corp, currently embroiled in a protracted activist investor fight, said that Michael Ward, its chairman and CEO will retire in May as railroad veteran Hunter Harrison and an activist investor try to shake up the company and grab the top spot. Harrison, a railroad veteran who unexpectedly announced his early departure from Canadian Pacific Railway in January foregoing tens of millions in potential bonuses, has been working with Paul Hilal of the Mantle Ridge activist fund, to become the company’s next chief executive. Last week, the WSJ reported that CSX privately offered the chief executive position to the 72-year-old Harrison, but negotiations broke down when Hilal refused to back away from some compensation and governance demands.

CSX Chairman and CEO Michael Ward, far left, is retiring from his positions at CSX effective May 31

However, in a separate report today, it appears that CSX is already preparing for full concessions, and as First Coast News reported earlier in the day, CSX employees learned Tuesday that the company will be eliminating about 1,000 management-level positions, out of a total 4,500 . The majority of cuts will be in Jacksonville, Florida, where CSX is based

The layoffs will include positions both in the field and at company headquarters, the company told employees in an e-mail.  Impacted employees will be notified in mid-to-late March, the e-mail says.  The spokesperson for the company, Gary Sease, says the layoffs are due to an “involuntary separation program.” Currently, there are more than 2,500 management employees in Jacksonville.


The announcement came on the same day that the company announced the retirement of CEO/Chairman Michael Ward and president Clarence Gooden, effective at the end of May, effectively leaving the company without operation guidance. 

The company said it was discussing the CEO positions with Hunter Harrison, a former head of Canadian Pacific Railway, who is backed by Mantle Ridge that owns nearly five percent of CSX’s stock.  Harrison is known in the railway business as a turnaround specialist who improves companies bottom lines by reducing workforce.

While CSX said the retirements are not “intended to preempt or otherwise affect any discussions” CSX is having with Harrison and Mantle Ridge, they certainly will achieved the desired effect of dramatically “streamlining” the company.

The e-mail says the company will implement a program to give impacted employees enhanced severance pay and pension benefits, along with outplacement services.  The company also plans to implement a voluntary separation program. 

CSX also said that Fredrik Eliasson, its current chief sales and marketing officer, has been named president, cementing that two of its top executives won’t be staying, regardless of whether a deal is struck.  CSX said it has been considering the changes announced Tuesday for more than a year, and that the appointment of Mr. Eliasson isn’t intended to “pre-empt or otherwise affect” discussions CSX is having with Mr. Harrison.

CSX employs nearly 36,000 people in the eastern U.S. in their railway, real estate and technology operations. The company is one of downtown Jacksonville’s largest employers.

Source: Zero Hedge