Sunday, January 31, 2016

SWEDISH CIVIL WAR ERUPTS: Crowds of Masked Men Hunt and Beat Up Non-Swedes, Muslim Refugees

SWEDISH CIVIL WAR ERUPTS: Crowds of Masked Men Hunt and Beat Up Non-Swedes, Muslim Refugees

Dozens of masked man went on an anti-immigrant rampage in Stockholm in an apparent retaliation for the stabbing death of a young Swedish woman at a refugee center earlier this week, local media reported.
The crowd of some 40 to 50 people went on a violent spree on Friday night at around 9 p.m. local time in and around the Swedish capital’s main railroad station, according to the Aftonbladet daily. They were beating up anyone who didn’t look like ethnic Swede. The attackers were wearing black balaclavas and armbands, the video obtained by the tabloid showed.
“They came from Drottninggatan [Stockholm’s main shopping street] and walked down toward the square and began to turn on immigrants,” a witness is cited by The Local. “I saw maybe three people who got beaten. I was quite scared so I left.”
The rampage followed a rally of some 200 people, who protested the presence of refugees in the North European country, reports Aftonbladet. They were handing out leaflets saying “Enough now”.
“They were scattering leaflets which had the intention to incite people to carry out crimes,” Stockholm police confirmed in a statement on its website.
The call was apparently referring to the death of Alexandra Mehzer, a 22-year-old aid worker, who was stabbed to death on Monday in a center for underage unaccompanied refugees in southern Sweden. A 15-year-old asylum-seeker born in Nigeria is suspected of the killing.
The leaflets reportedly accused police of failing to deal with immigrants-related crimes on protect the Swedish society.
“But we refuse to accept the repeated assaults and harassment against Swedish women,” the leaflets said as cited by the Daily Mail. “We refuse to accept the destruction of our once to safe society. When our political leadership and police show more sympathy for murderers than for their victims, there are no longer any excuses to let it happen without protest.”
Police made several arrests, according to Aftonbladet. The attacks are linked to football gangs and far-right groups. Still city authorities have not yet confirmed any immigrants had been assaulted.
The Swedish Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group, claimed the attack. In a statement issued after the incident they said they “cleaned up criminal immigrants from North Africa that are housed in the area around the Central Station”.
“These criminal immigrants have robbed and molested Swedes for a long time… Police have clearly shown that they lack the means to stave off their rampage, and we now see no other alternative than to ourselves hand out the punishments they deserve,” reads the text of a leaflet published on the group’s website.
European countries are gripped by a wave of rising xenophobia as hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa flooded Europe. The EU is split on how to deal with the crisis. Advocates of keeping the doors open are facing increasingly strong opposition as public opinions are swayed against them by the cost of hosting the immigrants and social problems like crimes committed by the newcomers and their failure to adopt liberal European rules.
In some countries more violent anti-immigration activists have been targeting houses meant to become refugee centers with arson attacks, but cases of direct violence between refugees and local residents like the one in Stockholm are relatively rare.

Friday, January 29, 2016

How Healthy IS Our Economy? Durable Goods Orders a Worrisome Sign

How Healthy IS Our Economy? Durable Goods Orders a Worrisome Sign

Mike Larson | Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Market Roundup
16,069.64 (+125.18)
1,893.36 (+10.41)
4,506.68 (+38.51)
10-YR Yield
1.99% (-0.02)
$1,114.30 (-$1.50)
$33.65 (+$1.35)

Just how healthy IS the U.S. economy? Some officials and economists, including those at the Federal Reserve, point to relatively healthy job growth as an indicator of strength. That’s why Janet Yellen & Co. chose to stand rather than panic yesterday, and left the door open to future rate hikes despite recent market turmoil.

Others take a completely opposite tack, saying the risk of recession is rising fast. The junk bond market is signaling a greater than 40% chance of a contraction, according to a recent Bloomberg story. Some Wall Street economists peg the risk at a still-elevated, but less-certain 20%.
That’s where today’s durable goods figures come in. They weren’t just weak. They were putrid. Overall orders plunged 5.1% in December, the most in 16 months and far worse than the 0.7% decline predicted by economists.
012816_1857_HowHealthyI1.jpg Orders for durable goods tanked in December.
A key measure of core business spending — non-defense capital goods orders ex-aircraft — tanked 4.3%. Economists were looking for a drop of only 0.2%. The year-over-year decline was the worst going all the way back to 2009, when the economy was last emerging from recession.
The blame lies with a number of factors — the strong dollar, weak overseas demand for U.S. goods, the meltdown in energy spending, soaring inventories that need to be whittled down, and more. But the result is clear: Economic growth estimates are falling fast.
As a matter of fact, the “GDPNow” model put together by the Atlanta Fed is now estimating fourth-quarter growth of only 1%. That’s far below the mid-2% range expected as recently as November. Some economists warned after today’s numbers came out that the U.S. might not have grown at all in late 2015.
“Some economists warned that the U.S. might not have grown at all in late 2015.”
Personally, I think this is just the latest worrisome signal in a long list of them. It doesn’t bode well for large manufacturing firms, nor does it suggest corporate executives are confident in future growth. So keep that in mind when deciding whether to ramp up … or dial back … the risk level in your own portfolio. You know which approach I advocate.
Now, it’s your turn to weigh in. Are you worried about the signal from this durable goods report? Or are you encouraged by the recent jobs figures? Do you think we can ride out a manufacturing downturn thanks to strength in services and other sectors of our economy? Or are we tumbling toward recession? Let me hear about it in the comment section below.
Our Readers Speak
The latest, greatest Federal Reserve meeting is now behind us — but you had plenty of important things to say about Janet Yellen’s comments yesterday, as well as the Fed’s impact on markets overall.
Reader Frebon said: “It seems that ‘Don’t fight the Fed’ has no merit anymore. They seem clueless and don’t have any more bullets in their arsenal. That goes for Europe as well. It seems we are on a slippery slope, and perhaps the only way out is for the central banks to get out of the way and let rates normalize so Capitalism can prevail.”
Reader Gordon added: “The thing that really surprised me in the latest Fedspeak is that the Fed made no effort to ‘talk down’ the strong dollar. She is still enticing rich people from other countries to buy the dollar or export them into the U.S.
“Does she think the inflow of foreign money into dollars or American stocks will maybe prop up a sick stock market due to poor earnings by American companies, and also stuff some of the financial holes in the Good Ship America? By sucking up so much foreign currency into the U.S., it destabilizes other countries — but then we now live in a global community where in reality, it’s still every country for itself.”
Reader D.D. said: “It’s simply absurd that the Fed needs to constantly monitor markets because of a 25-basis-point increase. If our economy can’t sustain because of nonexistent rates, we are in huge trouble. Fact is, the Fed created massive dislocations of capital over the past six years, and now they have live with rebalancing volatility.”
When it comes to the Fed influencing (or not being able to influence) the economy, Reader Greg S. said: “In my Ph.D. program, I was taught about Phillips IS-LM curves. Monetary policy can’t stimulate an economy, so even this pearl of wisdom from politicians is a lie. Janet is shooting blanks. The best the Fed can do won’t help now.”
And finally, Reader J.L. offered this warning — Fed or no Fed: “World economies have never had more debts than right now in their entire histories. That can’t possibly be good. Governments can kick the can down the road only so far. At some point, the stuff will hit the proverbial fan. I believe that time is approaching, though I hope I am wrong.”
I appreciate all the comments. My firm belief is that central banks have lost control of asset prices because investors now have solid, concrete proof that QE, negative interest rates, and other CB policies don’t work. If they were effective in fighting off the global economic downturn, we wouldn’t need more and more rounds of them every few months.
Now, we’re also getting more and more evidence the U.S. economy is catching the global flu. That’s a recipe for stock market pain, and a key reason why I continue to recommend a very cautious investing approach.
Other Developments of the Day
BulletWill Apple (AAPL) be forced to go “down market” in a bid to recharge smartphone growth? That’s the focus of this Wall Street Journal story, which discusses the benefits and drawbacks of that approach. The company has long been known for focusing only on the high end of the market. Its iPhones sold for an average price of $691 in the most recent quarter.
BulletFacebook (FB) investors sure “liked” what they heard from the company late yesterday. The social-networking firm’s fourth-quarter earnings surged to $1.56 billion, or 79 cents per share excluding items. That handily beat estimates of 68 cents, as did sales of $5.84 billion.
Marketers are spending like mad to get in front of customers using mobile devices to access Facebook and Instagram. The company is also pushing more aggressively overseas.
BulletI continue to read stories with vague rumors that OPEC and non-OPEC nations will get together, sing “Kumbaya,” and cut oil production to prop up prices. Oil prices staged a rally earlier today on the back of those rumors.
But the New York Times had a lengthy piece today about the Saudi strategy, and suggested the Middle-Eastern nation has no plans to cut production because it would end up just ceding market share to other countries. So be careful chasing bounces here.
BulletThe Bank of Japan will be the last major world central bank to weigh in on policy plans tomorrow. It’s unclear if it will launch even more QE, or start buying new kinds of assets — even though none of the past rounds has accomplished anything useful.
But one major threat to the “Abenomics” policies in Japan emerged overnight. Economy minister Akira Amari resigned amid allegations that he accepted bribes, potentially putting more pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s regime and reform plans.
So what do you think of Facebook’s strong results, or a possible move by Apple to produce lower-end phones? How about Saudi Arabia’s ongoing resistance to production cuts? And do you think the BOJ will have any more success than the European Central Bank or U.S. Federal Reserve in propping up markets or the economy with QE? Share your thoughts below.
Until next time,
Mike Larson
Mike Larson Mike Larson graduated from Boston University with a B.S. degree in Journalism and a B.A. degree in English in 1998, and went to work for There, he learned the mortgage and interest rates markets inside and out. Mike then joined Weiss Research in 2001. He is the editor of Safe Money Report. He is often quoted by the Washington Post, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswires, Orlando Sentinel, Palm Beach Post and Sun-Sentinel, and he has appeared on CNN, Bloomberg Television and CNBC.
The investment strategy and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of any other editor at Weiss Research or the company as a whole.

Saudi-Iranian Rivalry and Conflict: Shia Province as Casus Belli?

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email: for feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentary, Yang Razali Kassim. 

No. 022/2016 dated 29 January 2016
Saudi-Iranian Rivalry and Conflict:
Shia Province as Casus Belli?
By Ahmed Salah Hashim


The diplomatic tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran and the ratcheting of their rivalry in the Middle East reflect the long-standing schism between Shia and Sunni Saudis. Could this internal Saudi conflict lead to war with Iran?


THE HEIGHTENED diplomatic tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran following the execution of Saudi dissident Shia cleric Nimr al Nimr raises the prospect of conflict between the two rivals in the Middle East which are already at loggerheads over their respective Sunni and Shia affiliations. The roots of this conflict trace back to before the founding of the Saudi kingdom.

For many years the Middle East has been a battleground for inter-communal warfare between Sunni Salafi militants and the Shia communities outside Iran, who are located in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen and Oman as well as Iraq.   

Saudi Shias of the Eastern Province

The Shias constitute 15 percent of the Saudi population of 29 million. Most of them live in the oil-rich Eastern Province but are politically marginalised and have not benefited from the country’s oil wealth in any significant way, even though a number of Shias have risen to prominence in the economic and commercial sectors. The Sauds discriminated against Shias because the Wahhabi religious scholars who cofounded the kingdom, viewed them as deviants from Islam. In the 18th and 19th centuries Saudi Shias were subject to raids and mini-pogroms.

The grievances of the Shias are long-standing as is the sensitivity of the Saudis. The Shias began to mobilise and engage in political activism in the 1950s and 1960s. Initially, radical Arab nationalism and Communist ideas made headway among the marginalised Shia youth in the Eastern Province, southern Iraq, Kuwait, and Bahrain. Secular radicalism alarmed the governments and the Shia clerics in those countries. The clerics sought to wean the youth back from secular ideologies.

The Shia-Sunni divide deepened in the 1970s when Saudi Shias studying in Najaf followed the teachings of Iraqi Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr and those of the Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Both men called for the clerics to exercise direct political power and not simply act as advisors to the powers that be. While Al Sadr was executed by Saddam Hussein for ‘sedition’ in April 1980, Khomeini succeeded in accomplishing the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Many Saudi Shia clerics departed for Qom, where they formed Tajamu Ulama al-Hijaz and then later Hezbollah al-Hijaz, which emerged with a military wing.

Almost concurrently with the occupation of the Grand Mosque of Mecca by Sunni millenarian rebels led by Juhayman al-Utaybi in 1979, thousands of Shias in the Eastern Province clashed with the Saudi National Guard. The rebels adopted the name Islamic Revolution Organization in the Arabian Peninsula. The rebels who survived sought refuge in Iran. 

In 1987, over 400 people, most of them Iranian pilgrims were killed in a stampede outside the Grand Mosque in Mecca during the Hajj. Saudi-Iranian relations worsened and subversive actions were launched against Saudi personnel and interests by Hezbollah al-Hijaz, the Soldiers of Justice and the Holy War Organisation in the Hijaz.

The Emergence of Nimr al-Nimr

In 2009, clashes occurred between Shia and Sunni pilgrims at the al Baqui cemetery in Medina and the little known  Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, emerged as the Shia voice of protest. Nimr delivered sermons calling for Shia-majority areas to secede from the kingdom and establish a state based on the Iranian system of governance. The sermons were regarded as seditious and Nimr went into hiding.

In 2011 Riyadh’s relief at having been spared the violence of the Arab Spring, which broke out in several countries, was somewhat tempered  by violence in the Eastern Province  by disgruntled Shias excited by the changes occurring in the Arab world. Al-Awamiyah, the second largest town in the province, was the epicentre of the violence.

Nimr, who came from Awamiyah, attained a political following and Riyadh feared his transformation into a revolutionary leader. Nimr’s revolutionary potential proved appealing to young men who disdained the pragmatic conservatism of the traditional community leaders. Nimr was eventually discovered and arrested.

In 2015, the state implemented laws to punish anyone who promotes sectarian hatred and authorities detained Sunnis for posting video clips expressing hostility toward the Shia. Along with the carrot came the stick. On 2 January 2016, Nimr was executed, together with 44 other Saudis, both Sunni and Shia, all indicted and convicted on charges of promoting terrorism. The fallout from this execution continues to reverberate, but will it lead to war?

Proxy Wars and Subversion

Much of the inter-communal conflict between Sunni Salafi militants and the Shia communities has taken the shape of a proxy war between two of the most powerful countries in the Middle East - Saudi Arabia and Iran. Would Iran up the ante by direct subversion in Eastern Province? Or would Saudi Arabia expand its war against Yemeni Houthis to Iran’s economic interests in the Gulf? While Iran has the capabilities to do so it is not clear that it intends such action at the moment.

Iran is coming out from the cold with the P5+1 nuclear agreement and is determined not to allow the Saudis to derail that by polemics about Iranian state-sponsored terrorism. Iran would only instigate problems in Eastern Province if the bilateral situation between the two countries worsens.

Should bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran deteriorate further, one scenario would be for Iran  to revive Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia (AQAP), which would give it far more reach to cause mayhem for the Saudi dynasty than just relying on agitating the Shia minority in the Eastern Province.

A deliberately calculated ‘hot war’ between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not likely. Firstly, there will be constraints imposed by the bigger powers. They would most likely move quickly to put an end to it. Secondly, both the kingdom and the Islamic republic recognise that there are uncertainties associated with war; these uncertainties will negatively impact the tenuous conditions within both countries.

Saudi Arabia is mired in a quagmire of its own making in Yemen. Iran solidly hews to Ayatollah Khomeini’s dictum expressed in 1987: that maslahat-e-dawla – the interests of the state -- supersede everything else including religion and promotion of revolutionary ideology.

Ahmed Salah Hashim is Associate Professor of Strategic Studies in the Military Studies Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Click HERE to read this commentary online.

Is Pax Americana coming to an end?

Is Pax Americana coming to an end?

By Perry Diaz
US-flag-and-eagleFor more than a quarter of a century, the United States enjoyed the distinction of being the sole superpower in a unipolar world order after the Soviet Union imploded in a day.   This was when then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev resigned on December 25, 1991 and dissolved the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). What followed was a period that came to be known as “Pax Americana” – American Peace – or “New World Order” as the U.S.’s critics called it. Indeed, it was a world order that was built upon America’s military, economic, and diplomatic power, which provides geopolitical stability in a globalized economic system. As a consequence, America became the world’s peacekeeper – or policeman.
But one thing was sure then: the specter of nuclear war was gone. But not anymore. Today, with the emergence of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping who are challenging America’s geopolitical preeminence and military supremacy, the “Doomsday Clock” is once again ticking closer to midnight. Yes, never before had our small troubled planet been closer to nuclear annihilation than today.
Vladimir-Putin-and-Xi-Jinping-toast-May-2014In my article, “New World Disorder” (March 26, 2013), I wrote: “Upon his ascension to the presidency, Xi’s first venture outside China was to visit his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. At their summit in Kremlin last March 22, the two leaders agreed to form a ‘strategic partnership’ to advance their countries’ interests. They affirmed their mutual support for each country’s geostrategic and territorial interests, which include territorial disputes.
“At a joint press conference, Xi told the media: ‘China’s friendship with Russia guarantees strategic balance and peace in the world.’ But what he presumably meant to say was that the new China-Russia military-economic alliance would be so formidable that it would establish a new world order never seen before. In Xi’s mind, only a China-Russia military-economic alliance could stop the United States’ ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy.”
Russia-China axis
Russia-China-mapThree years after the ascendancy of Putin and Xi in their respective countries, the world is indeed in disorder. Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. And recently, Putin deployed Russian fighter jets to Syria to defend the regime of Bashar al-Assad against Syrian rebels in a bloody civil war.
Meanwhile, Xi didn’t waste any time in taking possession of the Scarborough Shoal and reclaiming seven reefs in the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea and building artificial islands on them. Satellite photos show runways and harbors that could be used to deploy military aircraft and warships; thus, militarizing the South China Sea, which China is claiming as having “indisputable sovereignty” over it. China could then impose an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around those artificial islands. If China gets away with this, she’d be in a position to project power in the South China Sea and turn it into “Lake Beijing.”
Djibouti-to-Suez-CanalBut China isn’t limiting her military reach to the South China Sea. She is also setting her sight towards the Indian Ocean… and beyond. Recently, China signed an agreement with Djibouti, which would give China her first offshore military base. With Djibouti strategically located at the mouth of Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a narrow chokepoint that connects the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal, China would be able to safeguard her maritime interests in the African continent and the Middle East.
Wake-up call
Carrier-battle-group.6A report prepared by the think-tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said: “Challenges like the U.S.’s deteriorating ties with Russia, China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and North Korea’s continued belligerence were shifting US military calculations.” It also said the U.S. needs to expand her military presence in the Asia-Pacific “to balance the shift in military power there.” The report, which was commissioned by the U.S. Congress, calls on the Obama administration “to station more nuclear attack submarines and littoral combat ships, bolster regional missile defense systems and negotiate for the US air force to be deployed at more airfields in the region.”
The report concluded: “If China’s economic, military and geopolitical influence continues to rise at even a modest pace… the world will witness the largest shift in the global distribution of power since the rise of the US in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”
China is indeed rising and as she continues to rise, her appetite to gobble up territories has become more voracious. And for a good reason: With a burgeoning population – she just adopted a two-child policy (from a one-child policy) — she needs more food to feed them and more oil to keep the state machinery going. Thus, she has to go beyond her present domain to look for food and oil to replenish what she lacks at home.
Pax Pacifica
Barack Obama towers over Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.
Barack Obama towers over Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.
It is apparent that the Indo-Asia-Pacific region would be the arena for the coming geopolitical battleground with a Russia-China axis vying for dominance. The U.S.’s Pax Americana is certainly on the decline but this doesn’t mean that the U.S. would disintegrate just like the Soviet Union 25 years ago. What we’re seeing is the emergence of a multipolar world order, where power is distributed among the three “great powers” today: U.S., Russia, and China. But like anything else in global politics, there is always one dominant player over the others, which begs the question: Who would be the dominant power of this new world order?
If the current geopolitical games were making any sense, the U.S. would clearly be the preeminent power in a multipolar world order. With the 28-member country North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) still serving as the structural backbone of the American superpower, the U.S. is forming other alliances around the world. In the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. is forging a quadrilateral strategic alliance with Japan, Australia, and India.
The Japan-India-Australia-Hawaii "security diamond"
The Japan-India-Australia-Hawaii “security diamond”
In 2012, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrote a piece titled “Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond,” saying: “I envisage a strategy whereby Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. state of Hawaii form a ‘diamond’ to safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the western Pacific.”
With a U.S.-Japan alliance and a U.S.-Australia alliance already in place, the U.S. is working closely with India to form a strategic alliance that would protect India’s underbelly – the Indian Ocean, which India considers her “lake” – from Chinese intrusion. In addition, the U.S. has also defense treaties with South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Singapore. And together with her alliances with Japan and Australia, an impenetrable line of defense along the First Island Chain is formed; thus, containing China to the confines of the South China Sea.
Indeed, it’s just a matter of time before the Indo-Asia-Pacific region becomes the hegemony of that “security diamond.” And while China has gained some foothold in the South China Sea, it would remain open to international navigation.
At the end of the day, while Pax Americana might be coming to an end, Pax Pacifica would replace it, an era of relative peace in a multipolar world order.

Is a New Real Estate Crisis Looming?

Is a New Real Estate Crisis Looming?

Mike Larson | Friday, January 29, 2016 at 7:30 am
Mike Larson
The real estate crash that began in 2006 is one of the most painful economic crises this nation has ever faced. Housing collapsed first, followed by commercial real estate — and the financial system was pushed to the brink of a full-scale meltdown.
I’m very glad I warned readers of the Safe Money Report well in advance of that crisis, and helped them avoid the crushing fallout. Now, I’m worried we could be facing yet another day of reckoning.
In a nutshell, too much cheap, easy money has flooded into the commercial real estate (CRE) market. That has pushed valuations to astronomical highs, property yields to rock-bottom lows, and CRE lending to dangerously aggressive levels. As the credit cycle turns and easy money drains back out, investors who overextended themselves in the sector are going to get hammered.
Too much cheap, easy money has flooded into the commercial real estate market.
We’re also going to see additional, potentially very hefty losses among banks with too much exposure to CRE. That will put additional stress on a sector that’s already struggling, not to mention the markets as a whole. Regulators are so worried, they warned the entire banking industry in December to back off and take steps to insulate themselves from future losses.
What’s behind these concerns? Just consider the following:
* A benchmark commercial property index rose 10% in value last year — even as junk bonds tanked, credit indices tightened up significantly, and many sectors of the stock market struggled. Can that divergence really persist for long? I’m skeptical.
* CRE values are so inflated, they have now eclipsed the credit mania peak from 2007 by around 16%. Select, high-profile properties in major metropolitan markets like New York City are as much as 60% more expensive now than they were back then. If the economy is slowing, it will drive vacancy rates higher, rent growth lower, and make those valuations look patently ridiculous.
* CRE transaction volume surged 26% last year to $546 billion. That’s just shy of the 2007 credit mania peak. M&A among publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) more than doubled between 2014 and 2015 — hitting a record high. We all know what happened after 2007 in real estate, so this M&A/purchase mania is another red flag.
Lastly, foreign capital and sovereign wealth fund money dog-piled into CRE in the past 12-18 months. I hate to say it, but foreign money has a history of being “dumb money” in real estate. You probably remember how Japanese buyers overpaid for real estate in California, New York, and elsewhere in the late 1980s and early 1990s … then took a huge bath when that bubble popped.
With commodities, foreign currencies, and foreign economies slumping, today’s foreign buyers are going to have less capital and fewer reserves to commit to future purchases. Some will have to liquidate, and the pressure will only grow the weaker the global economic picture gets.
So keep a close eye on REIT shares, and the underlying CRE market. I believe this could be the next major market story — and that there will be steps you can take to both protect your wealth and to profit from the trend.
Until next time,
Mike Larson
P.S. Kathy Lien and Boris Schlossberg have prepared a special three-part presentation. Its called “Three Shocking Forecasts for 2016.”
The three presentations will be hosted by Larry Edelson, Mike Burnick and yours truly!
It contains vital information to help make 2016 a very profitable year.
Click this link to get all the information, and to register.
Mike Larson Mike Larson graduated from Boston University with a B.S. degree in Journalism and a B.A. degree in English in 1998, and went to work for There, he learned the mortgage and interest rates markets inside and out. Mike then joined Weiss Research in 2001. He is the editor of Safe Money Report. He is often quoted by the Washington Post, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswires, Orlando Sentinel, Palm Beach Post and Sun-Sentinel, and he has appeared on CNN, Bloomberg Television and CNBC.
The investment strategy and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of any other editor at Weiss Research or the company as a whole.

Flow™ Hive Full Reveal

EU Refugee Crisis: Stop Illegal Wars, Don’t Blame The Victims

EU Refugee Crisis: Stop Illegal Wars, Don’t Blame The Victims
By Finian Cunningham
January 28, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "RT" -  Europe is on a dangerous, slippery slope of increasing xenophobia and racism engendered by the influx of refugees. Denmark’s new confiscation law is a sign of the brooding, baleful climate.
But the real answer to the problem is dealing with Europe’s support for Washington’s criminal wars. In other words, citizens of Europe should be addressing the root cause of the problem, not reacting to the symptoms. We should be shaming the villains, not blaming the victims.
We should be demanding legal sanctions and prosecution of government leaders over what are gross violations of international law.
European governments stand accused of war crimes, yet we allow them to get away with mass murder. Then when we incur secondary problems such as the massive displacement of refugees from wars and conflicts – that our governments have fomented – we illogically and cravenly focus on blaming the victims of our governments’ criminality.
Part of the public shaming of the villains would involve holding those European members of the US-led NATO military alliance accountable to international law. Individual government and military leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against peace. The inculpating evidence is out there. The fact that European governments have waged dubious overseas wars – with impunity – is the real shame and root of the problem.
Wars in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine, as well as drone assassinations in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, plus covert military operations in Mali, Niger and Ivory Coast have all involved complicity of European member states. Britain and France in particular have been most prominent in carrying out US-led NATO military interventions, both overt and covert, as in Libya and Syria, respectively.
The countless millions of people displaced across Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa are a direct result of European militarism in conjunction with that of Washington. Even the French intervention in Mali and Central Africa Republic are questionable under international law. Both were launched without United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Over the past five years, Libya perhaps represents the most egregious case of illegal war conducted by NATO and its European members, including Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy in addition to Britain and France. Along with the US, these countries violated a UN mandate to bomb Africa’s most prosperous and stable country into a bloody shambles. Thousands of civilians were killed in the seven-month US-EU blitzkrieg, culminating in the brutal murder of leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya was ransacked into a failed state, over-run by illegally armed extremist groups, and it was European governments who authored the descent into barbarism. Where are the calls for justice for these atrocious crimes in so-called civilized, law-abiding, Nobel-prize-winning Europe?
Yet last week, American and European military chiefs were calling for even more military intervention in Libya and Syria. This declaration of military intervention – regardless of its stated purpose of “fighting terrorism” – is in itself an act of illegal aggression under international law; according to respected war crimes lawyer Christopher Black, speaking to this author. So, where was the public outrage and calls for prosecution over this flagrant bout of more criminality by our European governments and their American ally?
Even where countries have not been directly hit by NATO’s military, such as Eritrea, Sudan and Cameroon, refugees coming from such places are doing so largely because of the lawless gateway-to-Europe that Libya was turned into by NATO’s destruction.
This week we see the Danish parliament voting into law measures which allow its police to confiscate assets of asylum-seekers worth more than $1,400. The move has caused international controversy out of concern that the Danish authorities are infringing on human rights.
The Danish law is only one in a litany of grim signs that Europe is becoming an increasingly hostile place towards refugees. Countries like Hungary, Slovenia, Poland and Austria are closing their borders. Even formerly more open Germany and Sweden are restricting the intake of refugees and sending many back to where they came from.
On one hand, it is understandable that residents in different countries are alarmed by the surge in the numbers of foreign nationals. Especially when the foreigners are visibly different in color, dress and religious practice. Let’s cut to the chase. Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East are of concern for many Europeans.
The spate of sex assaults in German and Swedish cities allegedly carried out by “Arab-looking young men” has fueled a popular backlash. But there is a danger of hysterical over-reaction that feeds political interests of racist groups. A French magazine cartoon depicting the little Syrian boy who died from drowning as a grown-up sex attacker is a despicably irresponsible incitement.
So too is tarring refugees as “terrorist sympathizers”. Following the jihadist terror attacks in Paris on November 13, there has been a dramatic rise in anti-Muslim hate assaults reported in Britain and France. The Paris terrorists may have infiltrated with the droves of Syrian refugees into Europe. But surely the real focus should be on why and how these jihadists went to Syria in the first place. And why are millions of people being displaced from that country.
This week it was also reported that asylum-seekers in Britain are being forced to wear brightly colored wristbands in order for them to qualify for food handouts. The visible form of identity has led to the wearers being abused on the streets, according to the Guardian newspaper.
Previously, asylum-seekers in the British town of Middlesbrough had their house doors painted red by a local authority. Again, the discrimination led to attacks by racist thugs.
Whether officially or unofficially, Europe is becoming a racist, xenophobic fortress. Given the continent’s own history of war, displacement, fascism and genocidal persecution it should be deeply troubling that it is once again on a slippery slope to such nihilistic mentality. It is doubling worrying when we hear apologists for hard-line measures against refugees talking about “preserving European blood and culture.” Given Europe’s millennia of migrations, what “pure blood” is there to talk of apart from malign mythical notions?
To compare Europe to a sinking boat overloaded with teeming migrants is also asinine and irresponsible. Europe’s intake of one million refugees last year amounts to 0.2 per cent of its total 500 million population. Denmark’s intake of 21,300 asylum-seekers last year constitutes less than 0.4 per cent of its national population.
Europe’s refugee “crisis” is turning into an irrational, xenophobic panic that is not justified by facts. It is misleading people into dangerous political territory of persecution, racist discrimination and ultimately fascist societies that infringe on all our rights as citizens.
But far more importantly, the misplaced hysteria over refugees is a distraction from the real issue. Which is that European states are complicit in illegal wars of aggression and covert regime-change interventions.
Political leaders like Britain’s David Cameron and France’s Francois Hollande, as well as Nicolas Sarkozy before him should be prosecuted in an international court for crimes against peace. European citizens not holding their rogue governments to account is the real problem.

Shame the villains, don’t blame the victims. If we don’t stand up to lawless tyranny, then we are its next victims.
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

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CrossTalk on Syria: US - Russia standoff

Is the Zika virus more dangerous than Ebola? It could infect millions very fast, says WHO. It is now ravaging Brazil and Latin America. Cases are now in the US.

Subject: Re: Is the Zika virus more dangerous than Ebola? It could infect millions very fast, says WHO. It is now ravaging Brazil and Latin America. Cases are now in the US.

It's another hoax:

Is the dreaded Zika virus another giant scam?
by Jon Rappoport
January 28, 2016
(To read about Jon's mega-collection, Power Outside The Matrix, click here.)
Hysteria sells and...

It's hysteria time again.  Let me run it down for you.

This is the word: The dreaded Zika virus!  Watch out!  It's carried by mosquitos!  It can cause birth defects---babies are born with very small heads and impaired brains!

Here are a few scare headlines that were running on Drudge as of 1/26:

"Brazil sends 200,000 soldiers to stop spread of Zika."

"Stay away from Rio if you're pregnant."

"'Losing battle' against mosquito."

"Virus threatening two continents."

Want more hysteria?  The Daily Mail indicates pregnant women are being warned not to travel to 22 countries in Latin America and Africa.  Several Zika cases are being reported in Italy, the UK, and Spain.

Then we have this from the Washington Post ("As Zika virus spreads, El Salvador asks women not to get pregnant until 2018," 1/22, with italics added):

"The rapid spread of the Zika virus has prompted Latin American governments to urge women not to get pregnant for up to two years, an extraordinary precaution aimed at avoiding birth defects believed to be linked to the mosquito-borne illness.

"...a potentially culture-shaping phenomenon in which the populations of several nations have been asked to delay procreation. The World Health Organization says at least 20 countries or territories in the region, including Barbados and Bolivia, Guadeloupe and Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Panama, have registered transmission of the virus."

So we now have governments warning women not to get pregnant.  A new form of depopulation.  Don't get pregnant.  If you do, and a mosquito bites you, you could give birth to a severely damaged child. Not only that, we have massive advisories against travel, for pregnant women.  And 200,000 soldiers in Brazil, the site of the upcoming Olympics, are going door to door and distributing information about this new "plague."  Are the soldiers also telling men and women not to have sex?  Who knows?

So let's take a little side trip to Scam City and examine the science behind the Zika virus and the assertion that it is causing birth defects.

Before a virus can be said to cause disease, a few procedures need to occur.  First, the virus must be proved to exist.  It has to be isolated from a human carrier as diseased tissue, and then that tissue has to be put under an electron microscope, where many, many (Zika) viruses can be seen.  Second, tests have to be run on many suspected human cases, and these tests have to reveal very large amounts of Zika in the body.  That's your basic starter kit for deciding that a virus might be causing actual human disease.

In examining the published literature on Zika, so far I see no reports of diseased-tissue removal from a human, followed by electron microscope photos revealing large amounts of Zika.

As far as diagnostic tests on suspected human cases are concerned, I see, as usual, two major types of testing: antibody, and PCR.  I'll briefly review the egregious flaws in these tests.

Antibodies are immune-system scouts which identify invaders in the body.  The antibodies ID these villains so other elements of the immune system can repel and destroy them.  When a test shows that antibodies geared to a specific virus/villain (like Zika) are present in the body, it means the body has contacted that Zika virus---if the test was done well and didn't come up with a falsely-positive result.  False positives are frequent. But more disastrously, proving the body had contact with a specific virus says absolutely nothing about whether the patient is sick or will get sick.  In fact, before 1985, a positive antibody test was generally taken to be a good sign: the body's immune system had encountered and overcome the invader.  After 1985, the "science" was turned upside down: a positive test meant the person was sick or going to get sick.  And that meant, of course, more (false) diagnoses of disease and more profit from treatments.  In announced "epidemics," health agencies can falsely inflate the numbers of cases to the moon.

The PCR is a very sophisticated and tricky test to run.  It is prone to errors.  It takes a tiny, tiny amount of material assumed to be a fragment of a virus, and it amplifies (blows up) that fragment so it can be observed.  The first problem with the test is: did technicians indeed choose a tiny sample that actually is a piece of the virus in question?  Or is it simply a bit of genetic debris?  The second problem is: the test, despite claims to the contrary, says nothing reliable about the amount of virus (like Zika) that is in the patient's body.  Why is this important?  Because you need a great deal of virus in the body to begin to say it is causing disease.  A very small amount is trivial.

With these two useless tests in tow---the antibody and the PCR---researchers and doctors don't have a meaningful clue about whether a patient is ill as a result of Zika infection.  All case-number reports are suspect, to say the very least.

Therefore, attributing very serious problems to Zika on a worldwide basis is insupportable and speculative.  It isn't science.

And to make the leap to claiming the virus is causing pregnant women to give birth to babies with very small heads and impaired brains is absurd.        

Who benefits from this Zika "science"?  Certainly, the people who are releasing genetically engineered (GE) mosquitos as a form of disease-prevention.  The big honcho is a company named Oxitec.  So far, the GE mosquitos are being used to curtail dengue fever in Brazil, Malaysia, and the Cayman Islands.  Florida is next up on the agenda.  But with Zika coming on strong in the press as a "mosquito-carried plague," how long will it be before special bugs are modified to save the planet from this new threat...

Just a few problems with the GE mosquitos, though.

A town in Brazil has reported continuing elevated levels of dengue fever since the GE (genetically engineered) mosquitoes have been introduced to combat that disease.

The scientific hypothesis is: the trickster GE bugs (males) will impregnate natural females, but no actual next generation will occur beyond the larval stage.  However, this plummeting birth rate in mosquitoes is the only "proof" that the grand experiment is safe.  No long-term health studies have been done---this is a mirror of what happened when GMO crops were introduced: no science, just bland assurances.

Needless to say, without extensive lab testing, there is no way to tell what these GE mosquitoes are actually harboring, in addition to what researchers claim.  That's a major red flag.

Wherever these GE mosquitoes have been introduced, or are about to be introduced, the human populations have not been consulted for their permission.  It's all being done by government and corporate edict.  It's human experimentation on a grand scale.

There are concerns that, if indeed the dengue-carrying mosquitos are actually wiped out, the vacuum may be filled by another dengue carrier, the Asian Tiger Mosquito---which breeds much faster.

Other than that, everything is perfect.  Let's have a big parade and welcome genetically-engineered mosquitos to planet Earth.

Back to the Zika virus: what actually is causing mothers to give birth to babies with very small heads and impaired brains?  If this is indeed a fairly recent phenomenon, I would start with a deep and very specific investigation of the genetically engineered mosquitos that were recently released in Brazil to decimate the dengue-fever mosquitos.

Then I would pay attention to a report like this (Rio Times, 5/5/15, "Brazil Shown to Be Largest Global Consumer of Pesticides"):

"The use of pesticides in Brazil grew by more than 162 percent from 2000 to 2012, according to the latest report by the Brazilian Association of Collective Health (ABRASCO), making the country the number one consumer of pesticides in the world. According to the entity, the Brazilian agriculture sector purchased more than 823,000 tons of pesticides in 2012."

"The ABRASCO report, titled 'An Alert of the Impacts of Pesticides on Health', was released last week in Rio de Janeiro. The report includes scientific studies including data from the National Cancer Institute that shows a direct link between the use of pesticides and health problems."

A quote inside the report:

"Not only are we using more [pesticides] but we are using more powerful, stronger pesticides. We have been forced to import pesticides which were not even allowed in Brazil to combat pests which attacked GM soybean and cotton plants..."

"...22 of the fifty main active ingredients used in pesticides in Brazil today have been banned in most other countries. "

How about an in-depth investigation, on the ground, probing the connection between these pesticides and birth defects?

Or is it better, for the chosen few, to use a virus as a false cover story, in order to explain away horrendous damage from what amounts to chemical warfare?

****Try this study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives on July 1, 2011: "Urinary Biomarkers of Prenatal Atrazine Exposure..."  Here is a quote referring to what is now being called a prime Zika effect:

"The presence versus absence of quantifiable levels of [the pesticide] atrazine or a specific atrazine metabolite was associated with fetal growth restriction... and small head circumference... Head circumference was also inversely associated with the presence of the herbicide metolachlor."

Getting the picture?

Of course, both Atrazine and metolachlor pesticides are used in Brazil.  Why is this connection to birth defects being overlooked?  If this is still a serious question, in this day and age, and if the answers aren't obvious, the questioner just arrived from Pluto.

I have walked the path of making these connections since 1987.  The covert op is played exactly like the old shell game.  Look here, don't look there.  This is important, that means nothing.

Tons and tons and tons of various pesticides and other poisonous chemicals...but forget that, it's all because of a virus.

"A virus" is the best false cover story ever invented. 
You can find this article and more at
Jon Rappoport

On Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 2:13 PM, Ericksanjuan <> wrote:

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:
From: Cesar Torres Date: 28 January 2016 at 10:34:14 PM GMT+8
To: Wfa <>,  worldwide-filipino-alliance <>,  FilAm Forum <>,  UP Alumni <>,
Cc: Global Filipinos <>,  moonglowplanet <>,  "" <>
Subject: Is the Zika virus more dangerous than Ebola? It could infect millions very fast, says WHO. It is now ravaging Brazil and Latin America. Cases are now in the US.