- While many believe the shift in government leaders in 2017 will bring us back to better times, one can never be too sure. As my father always said, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” These are still uncertain times, and as Jeremiah Johnson emphasizes in this article – with that uncertainty, we must continue to be ever vigilant in our preparedness endeavors.
- ReadyNutrition Fans, this piece is an important exhortation to you – a sort of plea, if you will – to not lose your focus in preparations and your readiness-stance during these times. With the Dow-Jones Industrial skyrocketing, the Christmas Holidays in full gear, Donald J. Trump about to be inaugurated, and the glow of a new patriotic dawn, everything seems OK, right? Wrong. This is not alarmist, but pragmatic. We cannot allow a burst of patriotic positive fervor to dull the perception of the last 8 years.
- Losing our focus is what allowed those 8 years in the first place.
Read more at:2017 May Go Dark, Prepare During The Calm: “A Storm is Coming”
- Vladimir the merciful?
- Following this morning’s reports that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would recommend to Russian President Vladimir Putin a retaliation in kind, and expel 35 American diplomats, saying that “we cannot leave such acts unanswered. Reciprocity is part of diplomatic law” with Putin spokesman Peskov adding that “there is no doubt that Russia’s adequate and mirror response will make Washington officials feel very uncomfortable as well”, it was ultimately up to Putin to decide how to respond to the US.
- Which he did on Friday morning, when in a stunning reversal, the Russian leader took the high road, rejected the Lavrov proposal, and in a statement posted by the Kremlin said that Russia won’t expel any Americans in retaliation to US moves, in a brutal demonstration of just how irrelevant Obama’s 11th hour decision is for US-Russian relations.
Read more at:Putin Stunner: “We Will Not Expel Anyone; We Refuse To Sink To Obama’s Level”
- The world has gotten so used to ultra-low interest rates that even economists and money managers seem to be shocked by what happens when rates start creeping back towards normal levels.
- Some of the mini-bubbles that formed in an essentially free-money environment are now starting to leak. Notably:
- US Housing
While the action in this sector is nothing like the raging mania of the 2000s, prices in many hot US markets are at all-time highs, while affordability is at or near an all-time low. And now rising
- mortgage rates are beginning to bite.
- Pending Home Sales Reflect “Dispirited” Buyers.
- (Mortgage News) – Pending sales, which were widely expected to make a good showing in November, pulled back sharply instead. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) said its Pending Home Sales Index…
Read more at:Three Mini-Bubbles Are Bursting
- With Obama vacating the White House in just over three weeks, the outgoing president is seemingly eager to make relations between the US and Russia as untenable as possible in his last days on the job (or as the Russian foreign ministry put it, “after him the deluge” comparing Obama to a certain French monarch) and ignoring today’s warning that Russia would immediately respond to any sanctions by the White House, Obama is expected to announce a series of “retaliatory” measure against Russia for “meddling in the US election” as soon as Thursday, CNN reports .
- As we detailed previously, the delay in sanctions against Russia had resulted from Obama’s inability to take unilateral actions under current laws. While Obama previously signed an executive order that would allow him to freeze the US assets of people overseas who have engaged in cyber acts, it only applies to actions that have threatened U.S. national security or financial stability.
Read more at:Obama To Announce “Retaliation” Measures Against Russia As Early As Tomorrow
- In the latest snub of president Obama and the US State Department, on Wednesday Turkey and Russia reached an agreement for a ceasefire in Syria, Turkey’s foreign minister said, and according to Anadolu News Agency, will aim to put it into effect by midnight. Anadolu, citing sources, said the two countries have reached a consensus that will be presented to participants in the conflict on expanding the ceasefire that was established in Aleppo earlier this month.
- There may be a hurdle however: Ankara would not budge on its opposition to President Bashar al-Assad staying in power. The comments by Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday appeared to signal a tentative advance in talks aimed at reaching a truce, but the insistence that Assad must go will do little to smooth negotiations with Russia, his biggest backer.
- Not content with isolating the US, Russia, Iran and Turkey also made a mockery of the UN when they said last week they were ready to help broker a peace deal after holding talks in Moscow where they adopted a declaration setting out the principles any agreement should adhere to. Arrangements for the talks, which would not include the United States and be distinct from separate intermittent U.N.-brokered negotiations…
Read more at:Russia, Turkey Agree On Syria Ceasefire Plan, Snub Washington
- For months we’ve been warning that soaring auto sales represent nothing more than the latest bubble created courtesy of low interest rates, deteriorating lending standards in the form of stretched maturities and weaker credit profiles, and an insatiable demand for auto securitizations from yield-thirsty pension funds which wall street is happily trying to meet (see here, here and here).
- Of course, with subprime auto ABS issuance soaring past 2006 levels last year…
- ..and total outstanding auto loans up 34% over the previous peak set back in 2005, it’s not that difficult to understand our concern.
- Meanwhile, as Craig Kennison of Baird’s Consumer Leisure Group points out, the “Deplorable Economy” (i.e. demand for big-ticket discretionary goods like RV’s, boats and 4-wheelers) may also be getting “ahead of itself” despite the expectation of lower taxes rates from the Trump administration.
Read more at:Is The “Deplorable Economy” Flashing Warning Signs About Overall Economic Growth Prospects?
- First, it was China which lodged a protest against the US defense bill, which was signed by Barack Obama late on Friday and which, among other things, contained a provision to establish as US “ministry of truth” and media propaganda. On Sunday, China lodged “stern representations” with the United States after Obama signed the NDAA into law which suggests a plan to conduct high-level military exchanges with self-ruled Taiwan. Part of the $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act “expresses the sense of Congress that (the U.S. Department of Defense) should conduct a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan“.
- In other words, it appears the Trump team is not the only one jeopardising the “One China” policy: as Reuters adds, in a statement late Sunday, China’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a protest with the United States over the Taiwan content of the act and expressed its strong opposition. Taiwan is Chinese territory and purely an internal matter, the ministry said.
Read more at:Russia Warns Any Attempt By Obama To Arm Syrian Rebels Will Be Seen As A “Hostile Act”