Series Preview: The Global Drop in Oil Prices | Stratfor:
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Friday, October 31, 2014
Everyone today is Halloween. Where we live in Pacifica we probably get 2-3 "trick or treaters." I think back to Halloween of 1960. I was in 6th grade. My teacher was this short and stocky woman named Mrs. Margaret Hall. She was and is one of the most wonderful positive influences in my life. Aside from being a great teacher and a great person, her biggest claim to fame was that the movie actress Martha Hyer had been one of her students. Mrs. Hall set very high standards for conduct and academic performance. She had not patience with lazy and unproductive people.If a student was observed not working, she would write them up for being "idle." She would repeatedly remind us that the proper way to pronounce Halloween was Halla'en. I still remember her and that odd pronunciation of Halloween 54 years later. Those of you out there who are teachers, please note, if you are good your students will remember you and love you decades later.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Jack's South America: Argetina Seeks Its Own Shale Boom: Home World Companies Energy Financials Health Industrials Luxury 360 Media Retail & Consumer Tech Telecoms Transport B...
Jack's South America: A Venezuelan Becomes An American World Series Hero...: Pablo Sandoval From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Pablo Sandoval Sandoval in a game on September 3, 2013 against the Sa...
Akin to Porcupines Mating
|by Nick Giambruno, Senior Editor | October 29, 2014|
That was how the slow and careful rapprochement between Russia and China has been described by Eric Margolis, one of my favorite geopolitical writers.
US shenanigans in Eastern Europe and the East China Sea—fomenting so-called colored revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia (both on Russia’s periphery) and egging on China’s neighbors to make aggressive territorial claims—have pushed the Russian bear and Chinese dragon together. In May, the two uneasy neighbors reached a de facto alliance represented by a 20-year, $400 billion deal for Russia to supply China with natural gas.
A Russia/China alliance shifts the Earth’s geopolitical axis. Historians may look back at the energy deal as the moment the post-Cold War era and the US’s singular position came to an end. The Russia/China team is now a consequential economic and military counterweight to the US. It will operate as an attractant for every country and every faction that for any reason resents the US’s giant footprint in world affairs.
For example… Russia is making strides in assembling a massive new trading bloc known as the Eurasian Union. When it opens for business onof next year, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan will be a barrier-free market with 170 million people and a GDP of $2.7 trillion. Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan likely will join in the near future, which would expand the Eurasian Union to 217 million people and a GDP of $2.8 trillion.
In the military and security realm, there’s the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an intergovernmental security organization shared by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan will join in September 2014.
The two organizations add up to exactly what Zbigniew Brzezinski and other American geostrategists feared the most—the emergence of a power bloc in Eurasia that could stand up to the West.
And it’s certainly not for lack of trying that the US failed in preventing this. It was just outplayed and outmaneuvered at every turn by Vladimir Putin.
Love him or love to hate him, Putin is one smart, tough, ruthless SOB. He’s not the kind of opponent I would want to have. The point of all this should be that regardless of Russia’s troubles at the moment, the country is not going to blow away.
Brzezinski’s concern about an emerging Eurasian power is one of the reasons the US has tried to knock Ukraine out of the Russian orbit. Absorbing Ukraine into NATO would further the goal of isolating Russia, and that is exactly what the US attempted to do—however clumsily.
We’re not referees charged with deciding which political players are good guys and which are bad guys. As potential crisis investors, what we want to know about Russia is its staying power, which we rate as high. The portrait of Putin as a Hitler or a crazy man leading his country toward disaster—the picture you get from the mainstream media and from many politicians—is suitable only for propaganda posters.
As things stand now, the effort appears to have backfired on the US. Putin likely will walk away with de facto control of all the militarily and economically strategic parts of eastern Ukraine, while the US/NATO will end up with the bankrupt western parts—like a Greece on steroids. It seems Russia will emerge from the Ukraine crisis stronger.
In the end, Russia’s economic and geopolitical cooperation with China and other non-Western Eurasian powers means that whatever happens in the West, it has real and arguably more attractive alternatives.
This is exactly why the current negative sentiment and cheap valuations of Russian stocks makes them an excellent speculation. This is just what Doug Casey and I are looking for in Crisis Speculator.
Baron Rothschild may have been an unsavory character in many ways, but he was absolutely correct when he stated that, “The time to buy is when blood is in the streets.”
This statement perfectly captures the essence of speculating in crisis markets.
Huge investment returns have been made throughout history where astute investors took advantage of the semi-hidden opportunities wrapped in an outward cloak of apparent danger in crisis markets.
Doug and I aren’t just blindly running toward disasters. We’re looking for hated markets with cheap valuations that, critically, have an identifiable catalyst. Russia fits the bill perfectly, and that leads us to our latest investment recommendation in Crisis Speculator. It’s a solid Russian company selling at a steep discount and is easily accessible to US investors (and no, it’s not Gazprom).
We believe it will be a profitable financial adventure. If you want to join the party, be sure to check out Crisis Speculator.
Until next time,
Questions or comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5.5 Million Americans Eye Giving Up US Citizenship, Survey Reveals (Forbes)
73% of Americans abroad are tempted to give up their U.S. passports, reveals a new survey by deVere Group, an independent financial advisory organization. There are an estimated 7.6 million Americans living overseas. At 73%, that’s approximately 5,548,000 Americans weighing handing in U.S. passports.
If all those considering renouncing followed through, it would be the biggest spike ever in renunciations. Already, Federal Register data reveals renunciations spiked by 39% shortly after FATCA—the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act—came into effect. FATCA is the culprit, says the survey, which is based on 400 expatriates.
73% have considered or are considering renouncing. 16% said they would not consider it, and 11% don’t know. Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of deVere Group, comments: “It is alarming that nearly three quarters of Americans abroad said that they are going to or have thought about giving up their U.S. citizenship.”
"Nationality, especially for an expatriate, is an incredibly important part of one's identity and typically it's a very emotional issue too. It is our experience that most Americans are extremely saddened at the prospect of giving up their U.S. citizenship to avoid the harsh implications of a new and utterly flawed tax law," said Green.
"However, it should come as little surprise that such a high number are prepared to do so because FATCA's reporting requirements are excessively onerous, burdensome and expensive. Also many non-U.S. banks and other financial institutions will no longer work with Americans which can make living outside the U.S. achingly complicated."
To address this topic we’ve prepared for International Man readers a free report called The American Expatriation Guide—How to Divorce the US Government. This report will guide you through the process of renunciation in amazing detail. To get a copy, simply log in to the International Man site and then go to the Free Guides & Resources section to download the PDF.
The worst law most Americans have never heard of.
FATCA Envy Spreads Across Hemisphere (Forbes)
The South American nation of Colombia does not have its own version of FATCA, but its government wishes it did. That’s evident from its current tussle with neighbor Panama. The root of the problem between the two nations is FATCA-style reporting of bank data, or the lack thereof. Colombia wants it badly; Panama wants nothing to do with it.
Panama City boasts a thriving financial center, one of the largest in Latin America. Together with the Canal Zone it accounts for most of the country’s GDP. One reason for the Panamanian banking sector’s success is ring-fencing. This policy attracts capital flow from wealthy foreign investors all over the world. Banks in Panama don’t collect information on accounts held by nonresident depositors, so there is no information to share with tax collectors in other countries.[FATCA alters that policy, but only for U.S. accountholders.]
Colombian law requires taxpayers to fully disclose bank deposit income regardless of where it was earned. But If a Colombian taxpayer failed to report his or her income from a Panamanian bank, the tax authorities would be very unlikely to detect the omission because of Panama’s lack of reporting. For practical purposes, the offshore account would remain a secret known only to the bank and the accountholder. Taxable income is thus concealed from Colombia’s revenue body with minimal risk.
Recently, Colombian officials asked their Panamanian counterparts to sign a bilateral tax information exchange agreement, known as a TIEA. The TIEA would have been reciprocal in nature, meaning it would oblige each signatory nation to collect and share bank information about the other nation’s residents. Panama said “no, thanks.” It has little to gain from a TIEA with Colombia.
Colombia retaliated by threatening to tag its northern neighbor with a “tax haven” designation. That legal status would trigger punitive taxes on all money transfers into Panama. It would also inflict reputational damage on Panama’s entire financial system, which could have a chilling effect on foreign investment.
It’s well known that tax laws have unintended consequences. Could one of FATCA’s ripple effects be the inclination of other countries to mimic its outcome? What cash-strapped government wouldn’t seek parallel treatment when its citizens put money offshore, particularly if banks have already implemented mechanisms to gather the relevant data? This may prove to be FATCA’s true legacy. For better or worse, FATCA envy could be here to stay.
Panama responded by threatening to deport Colombian workers, repatriate Colombian criminals from Panamanian jails, and impose travel restrictions on Colombians attempting to enter the country. It’s also considering a 300 percent increase in tariffs on goods imported from Colombia. Panama might also cancel a cross-border electricity sharing agreement.
This is precisely what FATCA was for, to pave the way for a global version (otherwise known as GATCA, more on that here).
How many other Western executives who dare to help Russia bypass sanctions—and turn it into an energy powerhouse—will die under suspicious circumstances?
GATCA Meeting in Berlin (AFP)
The finance ministers of around 50 countries meet in Berlin on Wednesday to sign a deal they hope will put an end to banking secrecy.
The forum, set up under the auspices of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union, brings together representatives of more than 120 countries.
The finance ministers are scheduled to sign on Wednesday a Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement, which will designate which institution in each country is responsible for transferring tax data to other member states.
An international movement to end banking secrecy has gathered momentum in recent years, particularly following the enactment in the United States of its 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA.
GATCA is expected to be up and running in 2018.
Record Number of Americans Renouncing Citizenship Because of Overseas Tax Burdens (ABC)
Frustration over taxes is as American as apple pie, but some U.S. citizens are becoming so overwhelmed by the Internal Revenue Service that they’ve decided to stop being Americans altogether.
There’s also the problem of so-called “accidental Americans,” who were born in the United States but have lived most of their lives in Canada. American tax law mandates that citizens pay U.S. taxes regardless of the country in which they reside, meaning that in the last five years, when the U.S. government started cracking down on foreign tax evaders, many Canadians born in the U.S. realized for the first time that they might owe the IRS back taxes.
Among them was one man who was born in the U.S. but was brought to Canada right after birth, who insisted on anonymity because he is still in the process of renouncing his American citizenship – which he didn’t even realize he had until, on a 2011 trip south of the US-Canada border, he was told he needed an American passport in order to re-enter the United States.
“I don’t break any laws,” he said. “It’s an accident of birth.”
We recently had the chance to speak with one of these “accidental Americans.” It’s a shocking story that you should know about it. Article link is here.
Straws in the Wind
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...
"Inflation is the fiscal complement of statism and arbitrary government. It is a cog in the complex of policies and institutions which gradually lead toward totalitarianism."
~Ludwig von Mises
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014
JacksMars: NASA Expresses Confidence In Orbital Sciences: Last updated: October 29, 2014 12:06 pm Rocket explosion: Nasa expresses confidence in Orbital Sciences Robert Wright in New York ...
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
JacksMars: The Space Review: Review: Here Be Dragons: The Space Review: Review: Here Be Dragons : 'via Blog this'
Monday, October 27, 2014
Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: What Do Seven Billion People Do? Top 10 Mega-Cities by Population 2014 vs. 2030 Estimate
Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: What Do Seven Billion People Do? Top 10 Mega-Cities by Population 2014 vs. 2030 Estimate:
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Sunday, October 26, 2014
In 1998-1999 I was a male client of a very elite dating agency. I shall mention no names. The high-income ladies paid $5,000 each to meet eligible men. There was such a shortage of over-40 males that my $5,000 fee was waived. I met one wonderful lady who was vice-president of a prestigous investment bank. We hit it off and it looked great except she earned $250,000 per year and I earned less than 20% of that income. The income disparity was "a deal killer."
The owner also owned another company that specialized in setting up very affluent older men with women in their 20's looking for "sugar daddies" to care for them. Obviously I was too poor to qualify for this company. But my imagination ran wild thinking about what happened there.
I opened up San Francisco magazine's latest issue. Lo and behold they had a great article: "I'm Rich You're Hot The Cold Mathematics of Sugar Daddy Dating." It's a great work of journalism and quite enlightening.
Obviously poorer younger women seek to interact with much older and affluent men. The men are looking for beautiful and exciting much younger women. It matters little to them that they have to pay for this companionship.
The women profiled in the article range from upscale sex workers to con women and really broke younger women desperately seeking financial help. According to the article sex did not happen as often that one would imagine.
Now all of my fantasies of long ago have met the hard realities of what really happens.
San Francisco magazine you scored a home run with this article!
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Thursday, October 23, 2014
My friends and loved ones 66 years ago today I came into this world. I was premature by a month and a half.My survival prospects were not good.
One intrepid young doctor named Harold Ross worked on me all night long and saved my life.
One intrepid young doctor named Harold Ross worked on me all night long and saved my life.
When I would come home to see my mother, she would smile. Then she would bury her face in both of her hands and remain silent for a moment. When she looked up she would always utter the words: "Son it's a miracle that you're still alive."
At this special moment I stop and gives thanks to God for allowing me to stay on this earth for 66 years and to have the wonderful gifts that I have been given. I think about those close to me who did not make it this far including four friends who died in the Vietnam war.
If you were the house right now, I would take you to the dining room. Elena jokes that it looks like an African museum. On the dining table you would find a thick and transparent picture frame. Inside the frame is a $10,000,000 Zimbabwe dollar note. Elena gave it to me as my birthday gift. It's actual monetary value is $50.00 US, at best.
It is a treasure to me. It symbolizes the special 44-year relationship that I have had with this small and often troubled African country just north of South Africa.
I was first introduced to Zimbabwe when I was an undergraduate at Tulane University in 1970. One of our neighbors in the married student's dorm was a man named Mutizwa Chirunga. He was older than me and a graduate student. He was an articulate and intelligent man. He spoke English with a beautiful British accent. He would spend hours talking to me about his native country. He taught me much about his culture and values. I began to see how native people in African countries resented the colonialism imposed on them by European countries.
Mutizwa's wife Jackie gave birth to a son. He was also named Mutizwa. When the little baby had its christening ceremony, my first wife and I were the only Europeans invited to a ceremony attended by Africans living in New Orleans. We were touched and honored.
In 1971 I said goodbye to Mutizwa and Jackie as I left Tulane to go to the US Navy. I never saw him again. I later found out that he had died at age 62 of cancer in 2004.
I never forgot all of his tales of his native country. In September of 1981, I drove across the South African border and found myself in Zimbabwe. It was not as Mutizwa had described it. I saw no jungles. It was all high veld or high plains. I did not see any improvement of the life of the African population after Robert Mugabe had come to power. I drove through the country side and ended up in Harare. It was an educational experience for me. I boarded a flight for Frankfurt,Germany. I did not see Africa again for nine years.
When I returned to live in South Africa, I ran into many people who had fled Zimbabwe to avoid the rule of Robert Mugabwe. I even dated a beautiful woman originally from Zimbabwe.
I left South Africa in December of 1994. My next contact with Zimbabwe was during the time that I was international sales manager for Telewave, Inc. I sold some products to Zimbabwe. Our South African representative, Mike Daykin was also from Zimbabwe. During my time at Telewave l also developed a wonderful friendship with Zimbabwean Mandy Findlater. I also developed a wonderful friendship with Zimbabwean Andrew Field and former Zimbabwe soldier Tim Bax.
Ten years ago I opened a modest brokerage account with a company in Johannesburg, Imara SP Reid. It has been a wonderful business relationship that prospers to this day. It is an investment company started in 1938. It is basically a Zimbabwe company. I have built wonderful relationships at this company including Guy Algeo, Cameron Horsfall, Rajeev Sokur, and Warwick Lucas.
In one of Zimbabwe's presidential elections, it appeared that Robert Mugabe was going to be voted out of office and replace by Morgan Tsvangarai. Elena and I made a substantial investment in the Zimbabwe stock exchange. Sadly for us, Robert Mugabe won reelection because a third-party candidate had taken votes away from Morgan Tsvangarai.
Hyper inflation racked Zimbawe. At one point our account there was worth tens of billions of Zimbabwe dollars. I would joke with Elena that it was the only time in her life that she was a billionaire.Then the whole market crashed. It appeared for a while that we had lost our entire investment. Then some sanity returned and we recovered 60% of our investment. Our money was sent back to Johannesburg. The skilled investment management of the Imara team recovered our loss.
Zimbabwe eventually gave up on the Zimbabwe dollar as currency. Now all business is done in US dollars and South African Rands.
For the longest time I have wanted one of those big-denomination Zimbabwe dollars. Elena got lucky and found one for me in Sedona, Arizona of all places. A man from Zimbabwe named Gedion Nyanhongo supplied it to her. Elena thank you for a wonderful birthday present that touched my heart. Zimbabwe thank you for being a part of my life for 44 years and making my life richer!
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: McDonald's Vows Fresh Thinking After Net Income Declines 30%; Mish Offers Some Advice
Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: McDonald's Vows Fresh Thinking After Net Income Declines 30%; Mish Offers Some Advice:
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