M4 Support

Back to Square One in Egypt?

Posted July 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm


The Names Have Changed, But the Story is the Same
By Simon Black

[Editor's note: What follows is a letter that Simon Black
wrote from Egypt two years ago after the last 'revolution'.
The names have changed, but the story is the same.]

Originally published September 7, 2011 from Cairo, Egypt

Revolution. It’s a funny word when you think about it. In political terms, ‘revolution’ conjures images of heroes battling tyrants, of all-out forcible insurrection in the name of freedom and change.

From a celestial perspective, however, ‘revolution’ denotes one complete orbit of a planetary body around its center, as in the earth’s revolution around the sun. In other words, after a revolution, you end up right back where you started.

Same word, two completely different meanings– on one hand you have change, and on the other you have more of the same. This is exactly what has happened after Egypt’s revolution this year.

Sure, Hosni Mubarak is now standing trial after 3-decades of looting and pillaging his country’s wealth. For most Egyptians, this is viewed as a major victory; there is a feeling of intense optimism here on the streets of Cairo, and even though nothing is fundamentally different, expectations are high.

Mubarak was a symbol of tyranny, and a great deal of blood was shed to topple his regime. Unfortunately, Egyptians have essentially replaced one form of dictatorship with another.

There is now one person in charge of Egypt– military Supreme Commander Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

Continue reading…


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Senior member of the Rothschild family bets big against the Euro

Posted August 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm

by James Quinn

The member of the banking dynasty has taken the position through RIT Capital Partners, the £1.9bn investment trust of which he is executive chairman.

The fact that the former investment banker, a senior member of the Rothschild family, has taken such a view will be seen as a further negative for the currency.

The latest omen follows news in The Daily Telegraph late last week that the government of Finland is already preparing for the euro’s break-up.

Sources close to RIT suggested that the position was not a dogmatic negative view on the euro as a currency, but rather a realistic approach on a currency that remains relatively weak.

Lord Rothschild is not alone in seeing value in shorting – or selling down – the euro. At a conference organised by business news channel CNBC in July, Mary Callahan Erdoes, head of JPMorgan Asset Management, said “shorting the euro” when asked for her single best investment idea.

[ Details / Source: Above is our hand-picked KEY excerpt(s) from this full article: "Lord Rothschild takes £130m bet against the euro"]


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Time to start paying taxes on your online purchases

Posted July 19, 2012 at 4:19 pm

by William Sellers

It was good while it lasted, but if you’ve gotten used to not paying sales tax on your online purchases, prepare for change.  After a long fight, Amazon is now moving to settle the issue once and for all. 

With brick and mortar retailers losing out to online competitors and states estimating a loss of up to $11.5 billion in annual sales tax receipts, it’s not surprising to see Amazon bending, if from nothing more than simply being outnumbered. 

Currently Amazon collects sales tax in six states and eight more states are working through the details now.  Check out the map below to find out what to expect in your neck of the woods…


[ Source: Here Comes the Sales Tax: Reality Catches Up with Amazon.com ]


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Interest rates to remain LOW through late 2014

Posted April 25, 2012 at 11:41 pm

via Reuters

The Fed described the economy as expanding moderately, just as it did in March, and said the unemployment rate had declined but remains elevated.

Officials noted a pick up in inflation but said it was largely attributable to energy cost hikes that will affect price growth only temporarily.

Economic conditions “are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014,” the central bank said in its policy statement.

Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker again dissented against the decision, saying he believed rates would need to be raised before that time frame.

[ Details / Source: Above is our hand-picked KEY excerpt(s) from this full article: "Fed holds rates at record lows, notes some improvement in economy" ]


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Saving the Euro isn’t a popular quest

Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:40 am

Upcoming elections in France and elsewhere will likely show massive popular resistance to the austerity policies needed to save the common European currency

by Michael Sivy

Quite simply, in most of the countries that make up the euro zone, there is no longer a substantial majority willing to make the sacrifices needed to keep the euro currency system together.

This has always been true to some extent. Commentators have long talked about the euro zone’s “democratic deficit,” meaning Europe’s economic system is largely the creation of powerful political and business interests and lacks transparency, accountability and a broad popular mandate.

But up until now, support by the elites has been more than sufficient to keep the system intact.

Over the next few weeks, however, the elites are likely to start losing their grip. A number of key European countries are facing elections, and the political parties that support the euro are expected to fare.

The real problem is that as popular support for the euro diminishes across the political spectrum, governments will be less willing to take the aggressive and sometimes painful measures needed to keep the euro zone together.

[ Details / Source: Above is our hand-picked KEY excerpt(s) from this full article: "Democracy Could Destroy the Euro" ]


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Is gold still the canary in the FED’s coalmine

Posted February 7, 2012 at 1:56 am

by Jeff Macke

Unless you owned defensive stocks, 2012 has been an equal opportunity rally. Tech stocks, financials, cyclical names… just about any asset class that isn’t defensive has seen a sharp move higher this year. Both supporting and belying this observation is the price action in gold, typically a safe-haven asset that’s risen 10% so far in 2012.

“We did have a bubble in gold, the bubble popped and we’re now trying to reflate,” says Richard Suttmeir of valuengine.com”

He says that the recent upward trend isn’t as much a return to gold’s past glories but rather a bounce to be sold. For Suttmeier the end of gold’s rally is neigh. He puts the monthly resistance level at $1,836, a relatively minor 6% above current levels, and says a return to levels over $1,900 are a thing of the past.

Naturally gold bugs would disagree, pointing to seemingly endless dollar printing by our government and troubles in Europe as reasons gold will never go out of style as a safe haven. In addition, despite gold’s extended pause, the barbaric metal long-term uptrend support held beautifully towards the end of last year.

None of which is enough to convince Suttmeier to rethink his position. As he sees it, the dollar is going to continue to move higher, almost despite the best efforts of the Fed as there’s simply no where else for global investors to go.

It’s the “best house in a lousy neighborhood” theory of currency investing. If Suttmeier is right, a strong dollar will buy [continue]…


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Most US debt is owned by US investors, not foreigners

Posted January 31, 2012 at 11:41 pm

by Lara Hoffmans

Did you know the US is about to raise the debt ceiling? For the 105th time?

Seems odd another increase is quietly pending since the penultimate increase (that’s right, there was one after that) in August last was preceded by a solid two months of political histrionics, name-calling and hyperbole.

Then S&P downgraded the US! Not because of our ability to pay, mind, which no one debated. But because, according to S&P’s own stated reasoning, of said histrionics, hyperbole, etc. (And after that, US federal interest rates largely fell. Evidently, the market didn’t think much of S&P’s opinion on this matter.)

Though a firestorm could always kick up, the lack of one thus far suggests that neither party finds it politically expedient at this particular point in time (providing further evidence the debt ceiling is an arbitrary, politically motivated marker).

What’s more, it seems politicians’ here-today, gone-tomorrow righteous indignation over debt ceiling raises is tied to some basic misunderstanding about [continue]…


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Is Germany strong-arming Greece?

Posted January 29, 2012 at 11:58 pm

by Joshua Brown

In April 1941, Germany turned its firepower on Southern Europe after its Axis ally Italy was repulsed by the Greek army.  There was a blitzkrieg (called Operation Barbarossa) and a three year occupation along with some major league violence between the Germans and Greeks.  This was no quiet submission.

The aftermath of Nazi occupation was complicated — a civil war in which Greek communists lost to Greeks who were German sympathizers and collaborators during the war. 

What was very uncomplicated was the fact that over 300,000 citizens of Athens died of starvation under the German regime.  This while tens of thousands of other Greeks died in the course of reprisals and uprisings around the country.

It’s an ugly chapter from an ugly century and when wounds so severe have been inflicted, they can easily be reopened – even after the passage of decades.

And so against this backdrop I ask you to consider the latest “idea” coming from German parliament to impose their will on Greece and its citizenry [continue]…


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The Euro: probably not a relic anytime soon

Posted December 1, 2011 at 1:47 am

by Fisher Investments Editorial Staff

Since Greece’s debt-figure fudging first came to light in October 2009, Europe—and specifically, the eurozone—has garnered tremendous media and investor attention.

Along the way, a major source of concern has been the common currency’s future. Today, headlines continue nearly daily regarding the euro’s viability. Above all else, many speculate a sudden, disorderly breakup of the euro is on the horizon.

But as we’ve written, our view is a sudden abandonment of the euro isn’t a likely outcome in the here and now. Let’s review and explore essentially two concepts:

(1) Why a quick end to the euro would likely be problematic, and (2) why that isn’t likely in the immediate future.

Assuming we can agree a return to the barter system is off the table, if the euro is abandoned, something must fill the void—seemingly, national currencies.

If this scenario did occur, it’s likely 15 or 16 of the eurozone’s 17 member nations would be seeking to replace the euro with a lower-valued currency—the probable exception being Germany (and possibly France).

For the majority of these countries, the likelihood is the euro, a currency individuals and businesses use daily and have confidence in the purchasing power of, would be replaced with a question (not German) mark. Assuming a government can effectively enact such a switch is quite a stretch.

Contracts, loans and other matters currently denominated in euros would likely have to be rejiggered—no small matter for eurozone corporations, individuals and other business and government entities.

And there are other issues [continue]…


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The richest, fattest nation on earth

Posted November 29, 2011 at 3:19 am

With maids, nannies, and cooks, many Qataris sit in their air-conditioned villas all day getting fatter and ignoring serious health problems

via The Atlantic

Qatar is a tiny country with a big problem.

This Connecticut-sized nation, sticking out like a loose tooth in the Persian Gulf, is one of the most obese nations in the world, with residents fatter, on average, than even those of the United States, which often takes the cake in such competitions.

According to recent studies, roughly half of adults and a third of children in Qatar are obese, and almost 17 percent of the native population suffers from diabetes.

By comparison, about a third of Americans are obese, and eight percent are diabetic. Qatar also has very high rates of birth defects and genetic disorders — problems that, along with the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, have worsened in recent decades, according to local and international health experts.

So what’s going wrong in little Qatar? [continue]…


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