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Futures, Bitcoin And Brent Soar On Biden Transition, Yellen Return

Futures, Bitcoin And Brent Soar On Biden Transition, Yellen Return Tyler Durden Tue, 11/24/2020 - 08:02

Futures surged above 3,600, oil jumped to a six month high, and bitcoin traded just shy of its 2017 record on Tuesday as the formal process for Joe Biden to begin his transition burnished a November already boosted by COVID-19 vaccines.

Futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.7% in early European trading hours, trading around the "call wall" that is 3,600 and putting the 49-country MSCI world stocks index on course to set a new record high later. Dow futures jumped 1% in early trading, outperforming Nasdaq 100 futures as investors set up to again rotate out of the technology heavyweights that were seen as safe bets during the recession.

After weeks of legal challenges to the election results, U.S. General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy wrote to Biden on Monday informing him the formal handover process could begin. Minutes later, President Trump tweeted that he had told his team "do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols”, an indication he was moving towards a transition.

"Markets have been constrained by very high levels of uncertainty on the U.S. political front and around vaccines for weeks, so with those two going away investors are considering the prospect of a return to normality in 2021," said Emmanuel Cau, head of European equity strategy at Barclays.

Additionally, reports that Biden plans to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair and uberdove Janet Yellen to be the next Treasury Secretary further boosted U.S. stocks on expectations she would pursue "more conventional policies" than the outgoing Steven Mnuchin, according to Reuters which is bizarre because what it really means is that Yellen will buy stocks after the next 20% drop.

“Progress on developing and distributing a vaccine de-risks the path back to normal for oil markets,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at financial services firm Axi.

Finally, signs that a working COVID-19 vaccine could be available before the end of the year put the benchmark S&P 500 on course for its best November since 1980 and rekindled demand for cyclical sectors such as industrials and financials after a virus-led crash earlier this year. Energy stocks continued their storm higher on the back of higher oil prices.

Shares of Tesla Inc jumped 4.2% in premarket trading, putting the stock on track to hit $500 billion in market capitalization at the opening bell, and just shy of Berkshire's market cap.

European markets tracked gains in Asian and U.S. equities, with the broad-based STOXX 600 index climbing 0.6% led by energy stocks, while the Eurostoxx 50 rallied 1.2%; FTSE MIB jumped over 1.5% to outperform peers, while Italian 10Y bonds rallied to fresh record low yields. Oil & gas, autos and basic resources were the best performing sectors. Adding to the positive near-term tone in markets was better than expected economic news from Germany, where gross domestic product grew by a record 8.5% in the third quarter as household spending recovered. The reading marked an upward revision to an earlier flash estimate of 8.2% growth. The Ifo institute’s survey of business morale pointed to fears of a recession to come, however, as the business climate index fell to 90.7 from a downwardly revised 92.5 in October.

The operator of Germany's DAX index announced the biggest overhaul since the index’s inception in 1988. The number of members will increase to 40 from 30 and new quality criteria will be imposed on both existing and prospective members.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks also jumped with Asia-Pac shares ex-Japan ticking up 0.4%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was 1.26% stronger, touching its highest level in almost nine months, with energy stocks leading the pack there. Japan’s Nikkei jumped 2.5% to its highest level since May 1991 overnight, with energy, real estate and financial shares leading the advance.  Seoul’s Kospi was 0.6% higher as was Hong Kong’s Hang Seng which rose 0.4%. China blue-chips were an outlier however, edging down 0.6%, as investors booked profits following recent strong gains.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell by as much as 0.5% as sentiment remained constructive before recovering some of its losses; high-beta currencies extended gains as the dollar broadly fell after European stock markets opened higher, The euro advanced, yet failed to rise beyond $1.19. The pound rose for a third session, extending gains from Monday when it reached the highest in more than two months, on optimism for the prospect of a trade deal between the U.K. and European Union. Market positioning and sentiment in pound options suggest traders see a relatively low risk that the currency will sustain a move above its 2019 highs on a Brexit trade deal.

Elsewhere, the kiwi and Australian dollar both rallied by more than 1% versus the dollar in European hours; New Zealand’s dollar advanced to 70 cents per dollar for the first time in over two years, and the nation’s bond yields rose after the RBNZ said house prices, which have been storming higher this year, could be included in its inflation basket while Finance Minister Grant Robertson released a letter to the central bank expressing concerns over how low rates have stoked home prices, prompting the market to price out the possibility of negative borrowing costs.

In rates, Treasury futures were little changed in early U.S. trading. Yields remain  higher by more than 1bp at long end of the curve, 10-year around 0.87%; though still more than 10bp below its November high, 10-year yield had bearish moving-average cross, with 50-day exceeding 200-day for first time since January 2019. Another record 7-year note sale ($56BN) takes place at 1pm ET, and concludes this week’s Treasury auction cycle for holiday-shortened week. Three-month dollar Libor jumped 2.58bp, triggering a flood of sales in Dec20 eurodollar futures. Germany’s 10-year yield was up 1 basis point to -0.57% in early trade, while Bund curves also bear-steepened modestly, with peripheral spreads tightening with 10y BTP/Bund near 118bps.

In commodities, spurred on by the vaccine hopes oil reached levels not seen since March, before the coronavirus began to spread rapidly and decimated demand. Brent crude futures rose 45 cents, or 1%, to $46.51 a barrel to add to a more than 20% surge this month, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude added 46 cents, or 1.1%, to $43.52.

The rapid rise of Bitcoin continued this morning, passing $19,000 for the first time in three years, and just shy of its all time high just under $20,000. The rally has been accompanied by the usual collection of further price rises, with Tom Fitzpatrick, a strategist at Citigroup saying earlier this month the token could potentially reach as high as $318,000, while JPMorgan hinting at a price target above $160,000. There was less good news the traditional safe haven gold, which dropped for a second day to trade at $1,811 an ounce by 7:30 a.m. ET, while spot silver dropped over 1.5%. 

Investor attention will be on consumer confidence data for November due later in the day, although trading volumes are expected to be light in a week shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. We will also get the Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index, along with the FHFA’s house price index for September. Central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, the ECB’s Lane, Schnabel and Rehn, the Fed’s Bullard and Williams, and the BoE’s Haskel.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.7% to 3,602.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.7% to 391.43
  • MXAP up 1% to 191.45
  • MXAPJ up 0.4% to 632.41
  • Nikkei up 2.5% to 26,165.59
  • Topix up 2% to 1,762.40
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.4% to 26,588.20
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.3% to 3,402.82
  • Sensex up 1% to 44,494.55
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.3% to 6,644.07
  • Kospi up 0.6% to 2,617.76
  • Brent futures up 0.8% to $46.41/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.7% to $1,825.82
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.4% to 92.19
  • German 10Y yield rose 0.5 bps to -0.576%
  • Euro up 0.4% to $1.1883
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 0.9 bps to 0.513%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 1.0 bps to 0.061%

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • President-elect Joe Biden’s selection of Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary signals that he plans to act aggressively to revive the world’s biggest economy, putting a former Federal Reserve chair who’s not shied away from stimulus at the helm of his economic policy
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed England’s national lockdown will end next week, to be replaced by a tougher three-tier system of regional restrictions designed to last until spring next year
  • A German expectations gauge by the Ifo institute fell to 91.5 in November from 94.7 the previous month, a steeper drop than economists forecast. The outlook is particularly bad in services, where temporary business closures and rules affecting social activities erode profits and threaten bankruptcies
  • The EU is gearing up for its third sale of social bonds, capitalizing on huge investor interest in securities designed to finance the bloc’s economic recovery. The 15-year debt offering kicked off Tuesday, following sales earlier this year that attracted some of the largest orderbooks on record
  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is planning a European stock trading platform to ensure its clients can still buy and sell shares even without a post-Brexit agreement to allow dealing in London

A quick look at global markets courtesy of NewsSquawk

Asian equity markets were mostly positive as the region digested several bullish factors including ongoing vaccine hopes, strong US PMI data and reports that President-elect Biden is to pick former Fed Chair Yellen for Treasury Secretary. In addition, the General Services Administration informed Biden’s team that the transition can formally begin and President Trump’s recommendation for the GSA and his team to adhere to initial protocols, despite his continued legal challenge to the election, also stoked risk appetite. ASX 200 (+1.3%) was led higher by outperformance in energy and its largest-weighted financials sector, with sentiment also helped by preliminary trade data which mostly showed an improvement, as well as the reduced restrictions with Queensland set to reopen its border with New South Wales from December 1st. Nikkei 225 (+2.5%) surged at the open to print its best levels since May 1991 as it played catch up from yesterday’s holiday closure and with exporters cheering a weaker currency, while KOSPI (+0.5%) notched a fresh record high after stronger Consumer Confidence added to the recent encouraging trade data. Hang Seng (+0.4%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.3%) were less decisive after reports the White House was mulling new actions against China and a new alliance to retaliate against Chinese economic coercion, with the mood in Hong Kong also hindered by the announcement to further tighten social distancing rules and close more indoor entertainment venues. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lower with prices subdued by the outperformance in Japanese stocks and after the bear steepening in USTs, although the downside was cushioned by the BoJ’s presence in the market for over JPY 1.3tln of JGBs with 1yr-10yr maturities.

Top Asian News

  • York Capital to Spin Off $2.7 Billion Asia Hedge Fund Firm
  • Hong Kong to Close Bars, Nightclubs From Thursday Due to Virus
  • Negative Rate Bets Are Passe in New Zealand as No Cut View Grows

Major European bourses hold onto gains seen at the cash open (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.1%) as the mostly positive sentiment from the APAC region reverberated into the region, whilst Chinese markets lagged on idiosyncratic factors. Price action thus far has been somewhat contained across European cash/futures alongside US futures amid a lack of fresh catalysts for the complex in this holiday-shortened week. Amid quietened trade, it's worth pondering over potential future bullish/bearish catalysts that could materialise in the coming weeks/months, with upside risks including accelerated vaccine progress, larger fiscal support, fixed income outflows into equities whilst some desks also suggest US investors returning to European stocks amid more favourable EPS growth. Conversely, potential downside catalysts include renewed/re-imposition of lockdown measures, an adverse Brexit outcome and a snag in fiscal responses with eyes on the EU budget/recovery fund developments. Back to Europe, broad-based gains are seen across the most majors, whilst CAC 40 (+1.2%) narrowly outperforms as Total (+4.8%) is propelled by gains in crude prices alongside news that the giant is mulling a voluntary redundancy plan in France whilst also halting operations in its loss-making Donges refinery. Gains in Total also support the broader Oil & Gas sector which stands as the outperformer in the region for a second straight session this week. Delving deeper into sectors, the cyclical vs defensives bias is again experienced as Autos, Banks, Travel & Leisure, and Telecoms are some of the top performers, whilst Healthcare, Staples and Utilities reside as straddlers. The Travel & Leisure sectors sees renewed tailwinds on vaccine optimism alongside reports that England is to introduce new COVID-19 testing scheme for passengers arriving from high-risk countries that could reduce self-isolation by a week or more and passengers will not need to self isolate if they test negative. As such, Tui (+11%), Air France-KLM (+10.5%), Carnival (+10.2%), easyJet (+5.7%) and IAG (+5.0%) post firms gains. Elsewhere, despite the broader losses in Healthcare, Novartis (+0.4%) holds onto mild gains having had seen a firm open as the group announced the initiation of share buybacks of up to USD 2.5bln whilst emphasising confidence in future operations.

Top European News

  • Johnson Ends England’s Lockdown But Hits Regions With New Rules
  • Germany’s DAX to Get Bigger, Stricter After Wirecard Fiasco
  • Germany’s Business Outlook Worsens After Short-Lived Rebound

In FX, the Kiwi is cresting 0.7000 vs its US counterpart in wake of considerably better than forecast NZ deficit and debt outturns for the 2019/20 fiscal year and assertions from Finance Minister Robertson that house prices may be included in the RBNZ policy remit pending consultations. However, Aud/Nzd has rebounded from 1.0475 overnight lows as the Aussie corrects higher and Aud/Usd breaches 0.7350 on the way to circa 0.7365 amidst stops and technical buying after mixed trade data and relatively innocuous comments from RBA Deputy Governor Debelle. Conversely, and only in part due to the exertions of the Antipodeans, Monday’s recovery momentum has all but reversed for the Buck as the index recoils further through 92.500 to 92.138. To recap, the DXY only just survived a test of 92.000 yesterday before rebounding sharply following robust Markit PMIs that appeared to spark a stop-fuelled short squeeze and perhaps some early month end positioning given Thanksgiving at the end of this week and an early close on Thursday when the spot date for currency markets if November 30.

  • CAD/EUR/GBP - All taking advantage of the Greenback’s fall from grace, with the Loonie back within striking distance of 1.3000 with assistance from strong oil prices rather than remarks from BoC Assistant Governor Gravelle who underlined a willingness to restart QE and reopen liquidity facilities if widespread stress in the financial system reappears. Similarly, the Euro has regrouped to reclaim 1.1850+ status irrespective of a somewhat divergent German Ifo survey against expectations and the Pound is eyeing 1.3400 again on the back of Brexit deal hopes underpinned by reports that the 2 sides could be on the cusp of a trade agreement.
  • JPY/CHF - Not quite so eager or able to recoup declines vs the Dollar on overall risk considerations, as the Yen hovers below 104.00 and Franc under 0.9100 in the run up to Swiss investor sentiment on Wednesday.
  • EM/PM - The Lira has wiped out even more of its post-CBRT gains to revisit sub-8.0000 lows with little help from a deterioration in Turkish manufacturing confidence or the Banking Watchdog preannouncing that it will terminate calculating assert requirement ratios for banks from year end. Elsewhere, Gold is also struggling to arrest its relapse towards Usd 1800/oz having suffered stop losses on a break beneath Usd 1850 and several tech levels. However, crude and commodity currencies are doing well to the extent that the Rouble and Rand have not been adversely impacted by the worsening COVID-19 situation of SARB noting that SA’s finances are a source of concern.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures continue on the upward trajectory seen overnight as the key themes for the complex (i.e. expectations for OPEC cut extension alongside vaccine optimism) continue to feed into prices, with WTI Jan back above USD 43.50/bbl (vs. low USD 42.82/bbl) and Brent around USD 46.50/bbl (vs. low 45.89/bbl). The widening of the WTI-Brent arb reflects expectations surrounding the OPEC/OPEC+ confab at month-end, although it is worth noting that a number of technical meetings will occur prior to this, including the OPEC economic board to meet tomorrow and Thursday, whilst OPEC/Non-OPEC experts will convene on Friday, according to EnergyIntel. On that note, it's also worth flagging some scepticism across participants that the recent crude price rally could translate to several oil producers being reluctant to roll over cuts, albeit this in itself could increase the risk of another price war. Elsewhere, precious metals continue to trend lower despite a softer Dollar, but more-so in lockstep with the constructive risk appetite, with spot gold inching closer towards USD 1800/oz (vs. high 1839/oz) to the downside ahead of its 200 DMA around 1796/oz, whilst spot silver continues to lose ground below USD 23.50/oz (vs. high 23.63/oz). Finally, copper prices are bolstered by Dollar weakness and risk sentiment.

US Event Calendar

  • 9am: FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. 0.8%, prior 1.5%
  • 9am: House Price Purchase Index QoQ, prior 0.8%
  • 9am: S&P CoreLogic CS 20- City MoM SA, est. 0.7%, prior 0.47%; CS 20-City YoY NSA, est. 5.3%, prior 5.18%
  • 10am: Conf. Board Consumer Confidence, est. 97.9, prior 100.9;Present Situation, prior 104.6;Expectations, prior 98.4
  • 10am: Richmond Fed Manufact. Index, est. 20, prior 29

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

At last! Golf will be back on again from the middle of next week here in England. Ever since Bryson DeChambeau returned from lockdown 1 with a huge increase in muscles in an attempt to hit the golf ball further I’ve been doing a weights and core strength program for absolutely no other reason than to hit the golf ball further. Then 3 weeks ago I started a speed training program. It’s based around the same concept as HIT (high intensity training) training or interval training where you incorporate sprinting into your fitness training in order to get quicker even for long distance training. This speed training involves swinging 3 different weighted sticks as fast as you possibly can in different ways over a period of 10 minutes three times a week. I even bought a speed gun to measure it. I have absolutely no idea whether it will work. All I know is that my wife thinks I’m crazy and obsessed and that I’ve now got back spasms again!

Speed of execution will now be the key for vaccines as for the third Monday in a row we had important news from a leading candidate. This time it was the one from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, where interim trial data from the Phase III trials found it to be 70.4% effective when combining the data from the two dosing regimens. Though this is below the figures for the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines we already have trial data for, one of the dose regimens in which there was a halved first dose and a standard second dose had a higher efficacy of 90%, which is much closer to the other two. And in further good news, this vaccine only needs to be stored at a fridge temperature of 2-8C, unlike the other two which require the far lower transportation and storage temperatures of around -70C for Pfizer/BioNTech and -20C for Moderna, so that’s another positive when it comes to distribution, particularly for EM countries. See our CoTD yesterday here for how the G10 could see herd immunity by mid-year. A reminder that if you want CoTD in your email every day around U.K. lunchtime email jim-reid.thematicresearch@db.com.

In spite of the good news, global equity markets struggled to build on the initial good news even if there continued to be rotation into cyclicals. By the close, the S&P 500 was up +0.56% with the NASDAQ up a lesser +0.22% as some of the biggest components in the index including Apple (-2.97%), Netflix (-2.38%) and Alphabet (-0.50%) saw notable declines. Interestingly the equal weight S&P 500 index was up a very healthy +1.48% and thus further illustrating the continued post vaccine theme away from the mega-caps. In Europe, the STOXX 600 fell from an intraday high of +0.86% shortly after the open to close -0.20% lower. One notable bright spot on both sides of the Atlantic were energy stocks thanks to the rise in oil prices. Brent crude was up another +2.45% yesterday to close at a post-pandemic high of $46.06/bbl. Banks were the other common winner with European banks up +1.67% while their US counterparts gained +2.50% as the reflation trade continues.

Core sovereign bonds sold off yesterday, with yields on 10yr Treasuries (+2.9bps), bunds (+0.2bps) and gilts (+1.6bps) all moving higher. They weren’t the only safe havens to struggle, as gold prices fell -1.77% to a 4-month low of $1,838/oz. That said, it was yet another record day for 10yr BTPs, with yields falling to an all-time low of 0.62%.

Moving on to US politics and overnight the General Services Administration acknowledged Joe Biden as the apparent winner of the presidential election with Mr Trump calling on his agencies to cooperate with this transition. However he said that he would continue to contest the outcome of the election. This triggering of a formal transition process is boding well for risk assets though with S&P 500 futures up +0.80% while yields on 10y USTs are up +1.1bps to 0.866%. Asian markets are also making advances this morning with the Nikkei (+2.52%) higher as it reopened post a holiday while the Hang Seng (+0.13%), Kospi (+0.46%) and ASX (+1.26%) are also up. The Shanghai Comp (-0.17%) is trading down. In FX, the New Zealand dollar is up +0.64% after an overnight letter from Finance Minister Grant Robertson to the central bank expressed concerns over how low rates have stoked home prices. Elsewhere, gold prices are down -0.66% while oil prices are up a further c. 1%.

Staying with US politics, yesterday we began to get news of some US cabinet nominations and other appointees from President-elect Biden. One headline that seemed to help US equity prices was news that President-elect Biden is planning to nominate former Fed Chair Janet Yellen to serve as his Treasury Secretary. The S&P rose +0.45% in the c.15 minutes after the story hit later in the session. She had been viewed as one of the front runners for the position and is likely to be welcomed by both wings of the Democratic party. She is also likely to try to closely align fiscal and monetary policy, which could mean quickly reversing the decision of current Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to shutter the Fed facilities that we highlighted last week.

The president-elect’s other announcements pulled heavily from his time as Vice President. His team announced plans to nominate Avril Haines to be Director of National Intelligence and Alejandro Mayorkas to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Haines was a White House Deputy National Security Advisor under President Obama, while Mayorkas led the US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency during that time as well. Linda Thomas-Greenfield will be nominated as the US ambassador to the UN, after she spent nearly four decades at the State Department and served as assistant secretary for African affairs – a post she left shortly into the Trump administration. Lastly, former Secretary of State John Kerry is slated to return as President-elect Biden’s “Climate Czar” to work in an inter-agency role. The move signals that the incoming administration is going to put far more emphasis on the issue going forward.

Meanwhile in the UK with the year-end Brexit transition deadline approaching, the Times Radio’s chief political commentator reiterated a Telegraph story from the previous night that a phone call, or possibly even a face-to-face meeting, would be set up between Prime Minister Johnson and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen later this week.

Staying with the U.K., yesterday PM Johnson announced that the second lockdown in England would end on December 2 and would instead be replaced by a return to the system of three regional tiers but with likely stricter tiers than before. The government hasn’t actually said which region will be in which tier yet. The government said that they’re seeking to allow more social contact over Christmas, but haven’t yet announced details on what that will mean. Today we can expect another address from French President Macron on the latest changes to lockdown rules.

The main data release yesterday came from the flash PMIs, where all the European countries saw their composite PMIs decline from their October levels. The Euro Area composite PMI fell to 45.1 (vs. 45.6 expected), which puts it back below the 50-mark that separates expansion from contraction for the first time since June, while the composite PMI in France sunk to an even-lower 39.9 (vs. 42.0 expected). Germany held up relatively better at 52.0 (vs. 50.5 expected), though this was also its lowest since June, and the UK slumped back below 50, albeit with a stronger-than-expected 47.4 reading (vs. 42.5 expected). The US was the exception to this pattern, and the composite PMI actually rose to 57.9.

This came even as US Covid-19 hospitalisations hit their highest levels since April 9, with over 12% of hospital beds filled with Covid-19 patients across the country. The Governor of North Carolina issued an order extending the state’s mask mandate and kept restrictions in place until December 11. Meanwhile New York State is a reopening an emergency centre on Staten Island where hospital capacity is strained. The issues across the US highlight how while the vaccine offers much promise for normalisations by the summer, the intervening months could see the economy strained further. Across the other side of world despite still low number of new infections, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Lam has said that the city will shutter more indoor entertainment venues to control the spread of the virus. Hong Kong reported 63 new cases yesterday. In Japan, Osaka city will ask some bars and restaurants in its nightlife districts to close at 9pm for 15 days starting Friday while the country is also temporarily suspending a campaign to spur domestic travel.

To the day ahead now, and the data highlights include the Ifo business climate indicator from Germany for November. From the US, we’ll also get the Conference Board’s consumer confidence indicator for November, the Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index, along with the FHFA’s house price index for September. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, the ECB’s Lane, Schnabel and Rehn, the Fed’s Bullard and Williams, and the BoE’s Haskel.

Space Race 2.0: China Launches "Historic" Mission To Moon To Collect Rocks From Unvisited Area

Space Race 2.0: China Launches "Historic" Mission To Moon To Collect Rocks From Unvisited Area Tyler Durden Tue, 11/24/2020 - 04:15

It what could mark the beginning of another era of "space races", China has officially launched an unmanned spacecraft to the moon with plans of bringing back lunar rocks. It marks the first attempt by any nation to retrieve rocks from the moon since the 1970s. On Monday, Reuters confirmed the launch:

CHINA LAUNCHES ROCKET CARRYING PROBE IN HISTORIC MISSION TO MOON- RTRS

China's probe, the Chang'e-5, sets off with the goal of China learning more about the moon's origin and formation. If China succeeds, they will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the moon - behind the U.S. and Soviet Union, according to CNN.

The goal of the mission to collect 4.5 pounds of samples in a previously untouched area called Oceanus Procellarum, or "Ocean of Storms". The U.S. Apollo missions had previously landed 12 astronauts and brought back a total of 842 pounds of rocks and soil. The Soviet Union's Luna missions had brought 6 ounces of samples in the 70s.

Both countries visited different areas of the moon than the Chinese aspire to visit.  

Source: CNN

James Head, a planetary scientist at Brown University, said: "The Apollo-Luna sample zone of the moon, while critical to our understanding, was undertaken in an area that comprises far less than half the lunar surface."

Once it's on the moon, the probe will deploy two vehicles and a lander will drill into the ground. Samples of the moon's surface will then lift off to another module in orbit. Eventually, they will make their way back to Earth in a return capsule. 

China has visited the moon with probes in 2013 and 2019. The country says it has plans to establish a "robotic base station" on the moon within the next decade. It plans on doing so using its Chang'e 6, Chang'e 7 and Chang'e 8 missions. 

The country has also publicly said it has aspirations of getting samples from Mars before 2030. 

'The Germans' Are Back!

'The Germans' Are Back! Tyler Durden Tue, 11/24/2020 - 03:30

Authored (mostly satirically) by CJ Hopkins via The Consent Factory,

Break out the Wagner, folks … the Germans are back! No, not the warm, fuzzy, pussified, peace-loving, post-war Germans … the Germans! You know the ones I mean. The “I didn’t know where the trains were going” Germans. The “I was just following orders” Germans. The other Germans.

Yeah … those Germans.

In case you missed it, on November 18, the German parliament passed a law, the so-called “Infection Protection Act” (“Das Infektionsschutzgesetz” in German) formally granting the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wants under the guise of protecting the public health. The government has been doing this anyway — ordering lockdowns, curfews, travel bans, banning demonstrations, raiding homes and businesses, ordering everyone to wear medical masks, harassing and arresting dissidents, etc. — but now it has been “legitimized” by the Bundestag, enshrined into law, and presumably stamped with one of those intricate official stamps that German bureaucrats like to stamp things with.

Now, this “Infection Protection Act,” which was rushed through the parliament, is not in any way comparable to the “Enabling Act of 1933,” which formally granted the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wanted under the guise of remedying the distress of the people. Yes, I realize that sounds quite similar, but, according to the government and the German media, there is no absolutely equivalence whatsoever, and anyone who suggests there is is “a far-right AfD extremist,” “a neo-Nazi conspiracy theorist,” or “an anti-vax esotericist,” or whatever.

As the Protection Act was being legitimized (i.e., the current one, not the one in 1933), tens of thousands of anti-totalitarian protesters gathered in the streets, many of them carrying copies of the Grundgesetz (i.e., the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany), which the parliament had just abrogated. They were met by thousands of riot police, who declared the demonstration “illegal” (because many of the protesters were not wearing masks), beat up and arrestede hundreds of them, and then hosed down the rest with water cannons.

The German media — which are totally objective, and not at all like Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda in the Nazi era — dutifully reminded the German public that these protesters were all “Corona Deniers,” “far-right extremists,” “conspiracy theorists,” “anti-vaxxers,” “neo-Nazis,” and so on, so they probably got what they deserved. Also, a spokesperson for the Berlin police (who bear absolutely no resemblance to the Gestapo, or the Stasi, or any other notorious official-ideology-enforcing goons) pointed out that their water cannons were only being used to “irrigate” the protesters (i.e., not being aimed directly at them) because there were so many “Corona Denier” children in their ranks.

According to the government, the German media, the intelligentsia, and, basically, anyone in public life who wants to remain there, these “Corona Deniers” are becoming a problem. They are spreading baseless “conspiracy theories” that are threatening the public health and causing distress to the German people (e.g., that the vast majority of those infected suffer only mild to moderate flu symptoms or, more commonly, no symptoms at all, and that over 99.7% survive). They are walking around without medical-looking masks, which is making a mockery of the government and media’s efforts to convince the public that they are under attack by an apocalyptic plague. They are posting scientific facts on the Internet. They are staging these protests and otherwise challenging the government’s right to declare a “health emergency,” suspend the German constitution indefinitely, and rule society by decree and force.

Despite the German government and media’s efforts to demonize anyone not obediently parroting the official “New Normal” narrative as a “dangerous neo-Nazi Corona Denier,” the “Corona Denialism” movement is growing, not just in Germany, but all throughout Europe. Clearly, the time is coming for Germany to take stronger measures against this threat. The health of the Vater … uh, the nation, is at stake! Fortunately, this “Infection Protection Act” will provide the government with the authority it needs to conceive and carry out some kind of … well, you know, solution. Allowing these degenerate anti-social deviants to run around challenging the German government’s absolute power is not an option, not in a time of national health emergency! These “Nazi-sympathizing Corona Deniers” must be rooted out and dealt with, mercilessly!

I’m not privy to the details, of course, but, it being Germany, I imagine some sort of Special Task Force has been set up to efficiently deal with the “Corona Denier Problem.” Steps are clearly already being taken. Alternative media outlets are being deplatformed (because, according the media, they are “Querfront magazines”). In April, a well-known dissident lawyer was forcibly committed to a psychiatric ward (but the authorities and the media assured us that it had nothing to do with her dissident views, or with the lawsuits she was filing against the government; she just coincidentally became completely paranoid)Heavily-armed police are arresting YouTubers (although it isn’t clear exactly what for, as the authorities have released no details and the mainstream media is not reporting it).

In the run-up to the 29 August demonstration, at which the government granted some neo-Nazis de-facto permission to “storm the Reichstag,” so that the media could film it and discredit the real protest, one German politician went so far as to call for “Corona Deniers” to be deported … presumably on trains, somewhere to the east.

But seriously, I don’t mean to pick on the Germans. I love the Germans. I live in Germany. And they’re hardly the only ones implementing the new pathologized totalitarianism.

It’s just that, given their not-too-distant history, it is rather depressing, and more than a little frightening, to watch as Germany is once again transformed into a totalitarian state, where the police are hunting down the mask-less on the streets, raiding restaurants, bars, and people’s homes, where goose-stepping little Good German citizens are peering into the windows of Yoga studios to see if they are violating “social distancing rules,” where I can’t take a walk or shop for groceries without being surrounded by hostile, glaring, sometimes verbally-abusive Germans, who are infuriated that I’m not wearing a mask, and otherwise mindlessly following orders, and who robotically remind me, “Es ist Pflicht! Es ist Pflicht!”

Yes, I am fully aware that it is “Pflicht.” If I had any doubt as to whether it was “Pflicht,” the Berlin Senat cleared that up when they commissioned and ran this charming advert instructing me to fuck myself if I don’t want to follow their “Corona orders” and profess my belief in their new Big Lie.

And OK, before the Literalist Society starts flooding me with outraged emails, no, I’m not calling these Germans “Nazis.” I am calling them “totalitarians.” Which, at this point, given everything we know, if you’re still pretending that this coronavirus in any way warrants the increasingly ridiculous “emergency measures” we are being subjected to, I’m sorry, but that is what you are.

You may not believe that is what you are … totalitarians never do, not until it is far too late.

It functions like a cult, totalitarianism. It creeps up on you, little by little, little lie by little lie, accommodation by accommodation, rationalization by rationalization … until one day you find yourself taking orders from some twisted little narcissistic nihilist on a mission to remake the entire world. You don’t surrender to it all at once. You do it over the course of weeks and months. Imperceptibly, it becomes your reality.

You do not recognize that you are in it, because everything you see is part of it, and everyone you know is in it … except for the others, who are not part of it. The “deniers.” The “deviants.” The “foreigners.” The “strangers.” The “Covidiots.” The “virus spreaders.”

See, although the narratives and symbols may change, totalitarianism is totalitarianism. It doesn’t really matter which uniform it wears, or which language it speaks … it is the same abomination. It is an idol, a simulacrum of the hubris of man, formed from the clay of the minds of the masses by megalomaniacal spiritual cripples who want to exterminate what they cannot control. And what they want to control is always everything. Everything that reminds them of their weakness and their shame. You. Me. Society. The world. Laughter. Love. Honor. Faith. The past. The future. Life. Death. Everything that will not obey them.

Unfortunately, once this kind of thing gets started, and reaches the stage we are currently experiencing, more often than not, it does not stop, not until cities lie in ruins or fields are littered with human skulls. It might us take ten or twelve years to get there, but, make no mistake, that’s where we’re headed, where totalitarianism is always headed … if you don’t believe me, just ask the Germans.

Pakistani Minister For Human Rights Compares Emmanuel Macron To Nazi Germany

Pakistani Minister For Human Rights Compares Emmanuel Macron To Nazi Germany Tyler Durden Tue, 11/24/2020 - 02:45

Pakistani Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari has likened Emmanuel Macron's administration to Nazi Germany after the French prime minister insisted Muslim leaders in France agree to a “charter of republican values”.

The policy idea was put forth to "discourage radicalism", according to RT. But Mazari didn't take well to the suggested idea and instead accused Macron of "treating his country’s Muslim population like Jews in Nazi Germany". 

Mazari wrote on Twitter: “Macron is doing to Muslims what the Nazis did to the Jews - Muslim children will get ID numbers (other children won't) just as Jews were forced to wear the yellow star on their clothing for identification.” 

The French Foreign Minister responded, calling the remarks "deeply shocking and insulting" and "blatant lies." The French Embassy in Pakistan called Mazari's comments "Fake news and false accusation."

The comments come after legislation submitted by Macron that would give children an ID number to ensure that they are attending school. The proposed legislation would apply to all children in the country, however, not just Muslims. British Labour MP Zarah Sultana also spoke out against the "frightening direction" of Macron's ideas. 

Last week Macron also proposed a package of measures and bills - along with an ultimatum to the French Council of the Muslim Faith - giving them 15 days to work with the government to try and crack down on radicalism. 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has decried Macron's plans, saying he is trying to “dictate the principles of the Islamic faith,” and calling him “hypocritical and dangerous.” 

 

 

Armenia Is Trolling Russia

Armenia Is Trolling Russia Tyler Durden Tue, 11/24/2020 - 02:00

Submitted by SouthFront.org,

As of November 23, the Russian peacekeeping force has finished its deployment in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, that included the sending 1960 personnel and 552 units of equipment. The total number of observation posts currently kept by Russian forces in the region is 23. At the same time, planes of the Russian Aerospace Forces have not halted their flights to Armenia. They are currently involved in the deployment of additional equipment and civil defense and disaster response specialists that will participate in the humanitarian aid campaign in Karabakh.

While the Azerbaijani side insists that it would demine and restore all territories that it is gaining under the peace deal, the area to which the Azerbaijani military will have no access to will remain within the zone of the responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers and the authorities of the self-proclaimed Armenian Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Another factor is the return of displaced persons. Since November 14, over 9,000 civilians have returned to their homes under the protection of the Russian military. Most of the activities needed to avoid an acute humanitarian crisis are now being conducted with direct involvement or under the supervision of the peacekeepers.

Meanwhile, the Armenian government, led by Nikol ‘The Basement’ Pashinyan that is openly cracking down on opposition to its rule with force and threats of jail terms, continues demonstrating its brilliant skills in undermining the Armenian regional position and destroying the already weakened partnership with the only guarantor of its statehood and security.

On November 21, a high-ranking Russian delegation, including Prime Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, visited Armenia and Azerbaijan holding a series of meetings with the leadership of both countries on the current situation in the region and the settlement of the Karabakh question. Accepting the high-ranking Russian delegation, the Armenian side ‘accidentally’ forgot to put out the Russian flag.

Such a position of Armenia towards its only real ally in the region that has just rescued Armenian forces from total annihilation in the war with Azerbaijan for Nagorno-Karabakh is at least surprising. In the worst case scenario, it just demonstrates that the government led by the Western puppet is rock solid in its anti-Armenian policy could easily lead to the full destruction of the country’s statehood.

It is interesting to note that the Armenian Foreign Ministry claimed that the absence of the Russian flags is completely fine and this is an ordinary practice for Yerevan. However, the fact that the Russian flag appeared on photos after media drew attention to the incident and that demonstrates that the original situation was not so okay because it revealed the real aim of the current Armenian government.

The Russian visit to Baku expectedly led to no diplomatic scandals of such kind and Azerbaijan is now preparing to take control of another district that Armenian forces should hand over to it under the reached deal. On November 25, Azerbaijani troops are set to enter Kalbajar District. The Armenian leaders are reaping the benefits of its destructive policies of the previous years.

Will Trump Release The Files Exposing The Cunning Plot To Kill Kennedy?

Will Trump Release The Files Exposing The Cunning Plot To Kill Kennedy? Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 23:40

Authored by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

With President Trump’s critics decrying his lack of respect for America’s democratic system by his refusal to concede to Joe Biden, now would be a good time to remind such critics of one dark-side aspect of America’s much-vaunted democratic system - the national-security’s state’s violent regime-change operation in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

From the beginning, the official story has been that a lone-nut communist ex-U.S. Marine, with no apparent motive, assassinated the president. Nothing to see here, folks, time to move on - U.S, officials said. Just a plain old ordinary murder case.

If anyone murders a federal official, you can be assured of one thing: the feds will do everything they can to ensure that everyone involved in the crime is brought to justice. It’s like when someone kills a cop. The entire police force mobilizes to capture, arrest, and prosecute everyone involved in killing the cop. The phenomenon is even more pronounced at the federal level, especially given the overwhelming power of the federal government

Yet, the exact opposite occurred in the Kennedy assassination. The entire effort immediately became to pin the crime solely on a communist ex-U.S. Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald and to shut down any aggressive investigation into whether others were involved in the crime.

What’s up with that? That’s not the way we would expect federal officials to handle the assassination of any federal official, especially the president of the United States. We would expect them to do everything — even torture a suspect — in order to capture and arrest everyone who may have participated in the crime.

For example, just three days after the assassination and after Oswald himself had been murdered, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach sent out a memo stating,

“The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial.”

How in the world could he be so certain that Oswald was the assassin and that he had no confederates? Why would he want to shut down the investigation so soon? Does that sound like a normal federal official who is confronted with the assassination of a president?

The answer to this riddle lies in the brilliantly cunning scheme of the U.S. national-security establishment to ensure that the investigation into Kennedy’s assassination would be shut down immediately and, therefore, not lead to the U.S. national-security establishment.

The assassination itself had all the earmarks of a classic military ambush, one in which shooters were firing from both the front and back of the president. It is a virtual certainty that responsibility for the ambush lay with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been waging a vicious war against Kennedy practically since the time he assumed office. (See FFF’s book JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s.)

While the JCS were experts at preparing military-style ambushes, they lacked the intellectual capability of devising the overall plot and cover-up, given its high level of cunning and sophistication. That responsibility undoubtedly lay with the CIA, whose top officials were brilliant graduates of Ivy League Schools. Moreover, practically from its inception the CIA was specializing in the art of state-sponsored assassinations and in how to conceal the CIA’s role in them.

To ensure that the role of the Pentagon and the CIA in the Kennedy assassination would be kept secret, they had to figure out a way to shut down the investigation from the start. Their plan worked brilliantly. While the normal thing would have been all out investigations into the murder, in this particular murder the state of Texas and U.S. officials did the exact opposite. They settled for simply pinning the crime on Oswald, the purported lone nut communist ex-U.S. Marine.

Here is how they pulled it off.

As the years have passed, it has become increasingly clear that Oswald was a government operative, most likely for military intelligence or maybe the CIA and the FBI as well. His job was to portray himself as a communist, which would enable him to infiltrate not only domestic communist and socialist organizations but also communist countries, such as Cuba and the Soviet Union.

After all, how many communist Marines have you ever heard of? The Marines would be a good place to recruit people for intelligence roles. Oswald learned fluent Russian while in the military. How does an enlisted man do that, without the assistance of the military’s language schools? When he returned from the Soviet Union after supposedly trying to defect and after promising that he was going to give up secret information he had acquired in the military, no federal grand jury or congressional investigation was launched into his conduct, even though this was the height of the Cold War.

Thus, Oswald would make the perfect patsy. He could be stationed wherever his superiors instructed. And he would have all the earmarks of a communist, which would immediately prejudice Americans at the height of the Cold War.

But simply framing Oswald wouldn’t have been enough to shut down the investigation. An aggressive investigation would undoubtedly be able to pierce through the pat nature of the frame-up. They needed something more.

If you’re going to frame someone who is supposedly firing from the rear, then doesn’t it make sense that you would have shots being fired only from the rear? Why would they frame a guy who is supposedly firing from the rear by having shots fired from the front?

That’s where the sheer brilliance of this particular regime-change operation came into play. The plan was much more cunning than even the successful regime-change operations and assassinations that took place prior to the one against Kennedy — i.e., Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Cuba from 1959-1963, and the Congo in 1961.

There is now virtually no doubt that Kennedy was hit by two shots fired from the front. Immediately after Kennedy was declared dead, the treating physicians at Parkland Hospital described the neck wound as a wound of entry. They also said that Kennedy had a massive, orange-sized wound in the back of his head. Nurses at Parkland said the same things. Two FBI agents said they saw the big exit-sized wound. Secret Service agent Clint Hill saw it. Navy photography expert Saundra Spencer told the ARRB in the 1990s that she developed the JFK autopsy photos on a top-secret basis on the weekend of the assassination and that they depicted a big exit-sized wound in the back of JFK’s head. A bone fragment from the back of the president’s head was found in Dealey Plaza after the assassination. That is just part of the overwhelming evidence that establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the shot that hit Kennedy in the head came from the front.

Okay, if you’ve got a shooter firing from the back and he’s a communist, and if you have other shooters firing from the front, then they have to be working together. So, who would the shooters be who were firing from the front? The logical inference is that they had to be communist cohorts of Oswald.

That’s what Oswald’s supposed visits to the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico just before the assassination were all about —making it look like Oswald was acting in concert with the Soviet and Cuban communists to kill Kennedy.

If the assassination was part of the Soviet Union’s supposed quest to conquer the world, retaliation would mean World War III, which almost surely would have meant nuclear war, which was the biggest fear among the American people in 1963.

But why not retaliate in some way? Would U.S. officials at the height of the Cold War hesitate to retaliate for the communist killing of a U.S. president, simply because they were scared of nuclear war? Not a chance! In fact, throughout Kennedy’s term in office the Pentagon and the CIA were champing at the bit to attack Cuba and go to war with the Soviet Union.

But here’s the catch: How do you take action that is going to destroy the world when it was your side that started the assassination game in the first place? Remember: It was the CIA that started the assassination game by partnering with the Mafia to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Thus, Lyndon Johnson, the CIA, and the JCS had the perfect excuse to shut down the investigation and pin the crime only on Oswald: If they instead retaliated, it would be all-out nuclear war based on an assassination game that the U.S. had started.

In fact, when Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade alleged from the start that Oswald was part of a communist conspiracy, Johnson told him to shut it down for fear that Wade might inadvertently start World War III.

Moreover, when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren initially declined Johnson’s invitation to serve on what ultimately became the Warren Commission, Johnson appealed to his sense of patriotism by alluding to the importance of avoiding a nuclear war. Johnson used the same argument on Senator Richard Russell Jr.

From the start, the Warren Commission proceedings were shrouded in “national-security” state secrecy, including a top-secret meeting of the commissioners to discuss information they had received that Oswald was an intelligence agent. When Warren was asked if the American people would be able to see all the evidence, Warren responded yes, but not in your lifetime.

Does that make any sense? If the assassination was, in fact, committed by some lone nut, then what would “national security” and state secrecy have to do with it?

That’s undoubtedly how they induced the three military pathologists to conduct a fraudulent autopsy — by telling them that they had to hide the fact that shots had been fired from the front in order to ensure that there was no all-out nuclear war. That’s how we ended up with a fraudulent autopsy. (See my books The Kennedy Autopsy and The Kennedy Autopsy 2.)

Thus, the plan entailed operating at two levels: One level involved what some call the World War III cover story. It entailed shutting down the investigation, as well as a fraudulent autopsy, to prevent nuclear war. The other level involved showing the American people that their president had been killed by only one person, a supposed lone nut communist former Marine.

Obviously, secrecy and obedience to orders were essential for the plan to succeed. That was why the autopsy was taken out of the hands of civilian officials and given to the military. With the military, people could be ordered to participate in the fraudulent autopsy and could be forced to keep everything they did and witnessed secret.

That’s why Navy photography expert Saundra Spencer kept her secret for some 30 years. She had been told that her development of the JFK autopsy photos was a classified operation. Military people follow orders and keep classified information secret. Imagine if Spencer had told her story suggesting a fraudulent autopsy in the week following the assassination.

Gradually, as the years have passed, the incriminating puzzle has come together. The big avalanche of secret information came out in the 1990s as part of the work done by the Assassination Records Review Board.

Of course, there are still missing pieces to the puzzle, many of which are undoubtedly among the records that the CIA and national-security establishment are still keeping secret. But enough circumstantial evidence has come to light to enable people to see the contours of one of the most cunning and successful assassination plots in history.

*  *  *

It’s time to release all of the official assassination records of the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, and all other federal agencies. The national-security rationale for continued secrecy is ludicrous and baseless. The only reason for continued secrecy is that the national-security establishment knows that the records will fill in more pieces to its November 22, 1963, regime-change operation.

In the 1990s, the JFK Records Collection Act gave federal agencies another 25 years to release their assassination-related records, based on the ridiculous claim of “national security.” That period of time expired early in Trump’s administration. After promising to release the files, Trump surrendered to the CIA’s demands for more secrecy, extending the time for secrecy until October 2021.

But we all know what’s going to happen in 2021. The CIA is going to tell President Biden that national security requires more years of secrecy and Biden is going to defer to the CIA.

Time’s up. Amidst all the hoopla over whether Trump is behaving disrespectfully of America’s democratic system, how about ordering the release of the estimated 15,000 records of the CIA and the federal agencies that are still being kept secret from the American people? After all, it’s pretty hard to reconcile regime-change and cover up with America’s much-vaunted democratic system, isn’t it?

President Trump — Do the right thing. Order the National Archives to release those long-secret assassination records to the American people now. Who cares if the CIA, the Pentagon, and other federal agencies get upset?

The Great Relocation: Americans Are Relocating By The Millions Because They Can Feel What Is Coming

The Great Relocation: Americans Are Relocating By The Millions Because They Can Feel What Is Coming Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 22:40

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

This is a really odd time to be having a “housing boom”.  We are in the middle of the worst public health crisis in 100 years, endless civil unrest has been ravaging many of our largest cities, and we are experiencing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  But even though more than 70 million Americans have filed new claims for unemployment benefits this year, home sales are absolutely rocking.  How in the world is this possible?

Well, this phenomenon is actually quite easy to explain.  As our society comes apart at the seams all around us, vast numbers of Americans are seeking greener pastures.  According to ABC News, the chaotic events of 2020 have caused “millions of Americans” to relocate.  In New York City alone, more than 300,000 former residents have permanently moved to new addresses.

We have never seen anything quite like this before, and it is anticipated that this trend will continue into 2021.  Even though most Americans don’t know exactly what is ahead, I think that on some level many of them can feel what is coming, and they are getting out of the big cities while they still can.

So even though we are literally in the midst of a horrifying economic depression, homes are selling like hotcakes right now

Home sales rose again in October, at their highest pace in 14 years, according to the National Association of Realtors.

But a record low inventory of available homes and a greater number of luxury homes sold have pushed the median home price up to a record $313,000, almost 16% more than a year ago.

With so many interested buyers and such little inventory, it has definitely become a seller’s market

At the current pace of sales, it would take just 2.5 months to clear the existing inventory — a record low.

If you want to sell your home, now is a really good time to do so.

But then good luck finding a new place.

This incredible surge in demand for housing has also fueled a tremendous boom in housing starts

Single-family starts experienced continued gains in October, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau. Single-family construction is up 8.6% year-to-date, with notable gains in 2020 for the Midwest and other lower-density markets.

The pace of single-family starts in October was the highest production rate since the spring of 2007.

So even though so many other sectors of the economy are deeply hurting at the moment, those that build homes are loving life right now.

Real estate websites are also doing extremely well.  In particular, “Zillow surfing” has become a new national pastime

Zillow usage has climbed since March, with online visitors to for-sale listings up more than 50 percent year-over-year in the early months of the pandemic.

People bond over listings on Discord servers, group chats and “Zillow Twitter,” and their obsession has made many strange and obscure listings go viral. Curbed, a website covering city life, real estate and design, recently started a column called My Week in Zillow Saves, in which people (myself included) share the homes they’ve admired on the site.

If you can believe it, “Zillow surfing” has become “especially popular among teenagers”

Zillow surfing is especially popular among teenagers. A TikTok meme over the summer consisted of users talking about knowing where the bathrooms were in their friend’s or crush’s house before ever visiting it because they had toured all of their classmates’ homes on Zillow. Many young people have extensive lists of saved homes and discuss and share listings with friends.

When life is miserable, people like to daydream about something better, and “Zillow surfing” allows them to do that.

Personally, I have been hearing from so many people that have either recently relocated or that would like to move.  So many that I know are feeling an urgency like never before, because they sense that really dark times are fast approaching.

Interestingly, one of the most important things that people look at when they are thinking of relocating is the political orientation of an area.  In fact, one recent survey found that 42 percent of Americans “would be hesitant to move to an area where most people have political views different from their own”…

Forty-two percent of U.S. residents would be hesitant to move to an area where most people have political views different from their own, up from 32% in June, according to a new report from Redfin (redfin.com), the technology-powered real estate brokerage. That’s the highest share since 2017, when Redfin began posing this question to survey respondents.

Increasingly, Democrats are moving to “blue states” and conservatives are moving to “red states”.

Could this potentially have some very serious implications down the road?

I don’t know.  I am just asking the question.

For other Americans, leaving the country entirely seems like a promising option

Americans are leaving the country or seeking foreign visas in record numbers, according to immigration lawyers and expatriate organizations, during an oppressive year of political violence, racial strife and an uncontrolled pandemic that has kept families locked in their homes for months – with no clear end in sight.

As the economic suffering in the U.S. intensifies, the number of people wanting to leave will almost certainly go even higher.

With each passing day, more new restrictions are being put in place to try to control the COVID pandemic, and these new restrictions are going to make our ongoing economic depression a whole lot worse.

Already, it has become clear that another huge wave of economic pain is upon us.

The Greater Los Angeles Food Bank says that demand is up 145 percent compared to last year, and the other day people waited in absolutely massive lines for up to 12 hours at a food bank in Texas just to get some food.

Other Americans are stockpiling huge quantities of toilet paper and other supplies in anticipation of a very difficult winter.

No matter what happens with the election, things are about to get really crazy in this country.

Whatever you need to do to get prepared for what is ahead, I would do it as soon as possible.

The clock is ticking, and it appears that our day of reckoning is nearly here.

*  *  *

Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

TikTok-Mansions-For-Top-Influencers Company Goes Public

TikTok-Mansions-For-Top-Influencers Company Goes Public Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 22:20

"Strike while the iron is hot," the 15th-century proverb from the Medieval Times states. That's what one New Jersey-based real estate firm that provides TikTok influencers with mansions has done through an unusual reverse takeover deal to go public. 

On Nov. 12, West of Hudson Group Inc., the sole owner of "The Clubhouse," a real estate portfolio of mansions in Southern California that houses top social media influencers with an estimated follower base of 90 million, was acquired by a shell company, Tongji Healthcare Group, Inc.

Subject to FINRA's approval, "Tongji Healthcare Group, Inc." will change its name to "Clubhouse Media Group, Inc." 

Called a "content house," The Clubhouse operates a network of mansions with social media influencers living rent-free. There's a catch - these influencers must give up a certain amount of revenues they collect from making videos about products. 

 

Content houses have been an emerging trend in Los Angeles over the last year. Companies that run these unique properties, like The Clubhouse, are exploring options for sustainable business models. We're surprised The Clubhouse didn't excite the market with a special purpose acquisition company deal...

The Clubhouse is a network of three social media content creation houses (Clubhouse BH, Clubhouse Europe, and Not a Content House) that has received substantial press from top media organizations. 

Clubhouse BH

Clubhouse Europe

Not a Content House

Heading to the capital markets may be part of a broader strategy, but like any penny stock, the name of the game is to launch a promotion for the pump as company insiders liquidate their positions in the dump. The Clubhouse could find a flurry of 10-year old hedge fund managers on Robinhood that would purchase shares. 

... maybe these influencers will pump the stock? 

What a bizarro world for capital markets as tens of millions of Americans face food and housing insecurity

Cooperate With China Or World War 3: Kissinger

Cooperate With China Or World War 3: Kissinger Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 22:00

Authored by Gordon Chang via The Gatestone Institute,

"I would think we need first of all a dialogue with the Chinese leadership in which we are defining what we're attempting to prevent and in which the two leaders agree that whatever other conflicts they have they will not resort to military conflict," Henry Kissinger told Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait on November 16 at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum.

"Unless there is some basis for some cooperative action, the world will slide into a catastrophe comparable to World War I."

Of course no one wants war of any type with China, but in a little over 14 minutes Kissinger managed to totally misinterpret Chinese history, support Beijing's most important foreign policy goal, and give deeply misguided advice to Joe Biden. Kissinger has evidently learned nothing from years of dangerous Chinese behavior, which is partly the result of his policy formulations.

We start with history, because Kissinger was once an accomplished historian and his incorrect opinions on China today appear to flow from his unsupportable views of the Chinese past. He makes the case that Americans cannot understand Beijing's insecurity.

"Americans have had a history of relatively uninterrupted success," he noted.

"The Chinese have had a very long history of repeated crises. America has had the good fortune of being free of immediate dangers. Chinese have usually been surrounded by countries that have had designs on their unity."

Even if his comments were true, no country now threatens China. China, in fact, has not faced any credible external threat to its unity for more than seven decades. The Communist Party dwells on history, such as the so-called "Century of Humiliation," the subject of ruler Xi Jinping's National Day speech last October, because that telling of history suits the needs of today's insecure regime.

China's troubled past, in short, is an excuse. What, after all, is it in history that justifies present-day Chinese aggression against India, Bhutan and Nepal, or its designs on Tajikistan, the Philippines and Malaysia?

Moreover, what justification is there for the Communist Party's declaration of a "people's war" on the United States in May of last year?

China is aggressive and militant at this moment because of the nature of its communist regime, which is quickly driving the country back to one-man rule and totalitarianism. Xi Jinping, the one man in China's system, is now propagating the audacious concept of tianxia, that "all under heaven" owe allegiance to Beijing.

There are, unfortunately, some points in history when dialogue makes matters worse because hardline leaders perceive others' desire to talk as a sign of weakness.

In any event, dialogue assumes that Chinese leaders can compromise, which at this point is a dubious proposition. For instance, Beijing last compromised a territorial claim in 2011 — with Tajikistan, when it took Tajik territory — but now is trying to reopen the settlement to grab even more. Since then, Beijing has added new claims — to the South China Sea — and has laid the groundwork for additional ones, especially over Japan's Ryukyu chain.

The absence of Chinese goodwill leaves America a last resort: deterrence.

Kissinger, often cited as a deterrence expert, is now not a fan of it. When Micklethwait asked him whether he favored the notion of Biden advisors that democracies should unite in a coalition, the 97-year-old "grand consigliere of American diplomacy" — the Financial Times's description — was noncommittal. "I think democracies should cooperate wherever their convictions allow it or dictate it," he replied. "I think a coalition aimed at a particular country is unwise, but a coalition to prevent dangers is necessary where the occasion requires it." In Kissinger-speak, that is a "no" to international cooperation against Beijing.

Given what could be happening inside Communist Party political circles, there may now be no way to avoid war with a militant Chinese state. Yet whether peace is possible or not, it should be clear to Kissinger that the approach he has supported, and which has been adopted by every American president since President Nixon went to China in 1972, has contributed to Chinese aggressiveness. Kissinger, by urging conciliation when Beijing has made clear it cannot be appeased, has helped produced today's grave situation.

Let us remember that Kissinger has always been intimidated by large communist states. He advocated détente in the early 1970s when he assumed there was no way to prevail over the Soviet Union. Reagan, after refusing to accept the USSR as a given, proved him dead wrong.

And Kissinger is dead wrong now.

"Trump has a more confrontational method of negotiation than you can apply indefinitely," Kissinger told Micklethwait, appearing to speak to Joe Biden. That, James Fanell, the noted Swiss-based China strategist told Gatestone, is "an unambiguous declaration of Dr. Kissinger's defeatism."

As Fanell, a former director of Intelligence and Information Operations of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said, Kissinger believes the U.S. "cannot compete with the People's Republic of China."

America, however, is far stronger than China's regime and has allies, which China, other than North Korea, does not. Moreover, the U.S. is knitting together a formidable coalition — the Quad with Australia, India, and Japan — giving Washington the ability to continue to confront Beijing on every front. The Chinese state is no match for nations, both near and far, it seems determined to antagonize.

What is the best indication that Kissinger is wrong?

Beijing at the moment is waging a concerted propaganda campaign to push his views as widely as possible. When your enemy wants you to do something, it is almost always not in your interest.

Kissinger essentially said the choice for America is cooperation or war, a narrative he has propagated in recent interviews. Yet repetition will not make his false dichotomy so. Countries can, between these two extremes, choose confrontation and deterrence. World War II in Europe, for example, started because Britain and France chose not to confront the Third Reich when doing so — in 1936 during the attempted remilitarization of the Rhineland — would have ended the German military threat.

Micklethwait started out the interview by asking about the Congress of Vienna, the subject of Kissinger's A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-22.

"Whenever peace—conceived as the avoidance of war—has been the primary objective of a power or a group of powers, the international system has been at the mercy of the most ruthless member of the international community," he wrote. "Whenever the international order has acknowledged that certain principles could not be compromised even for the sake of peace, stability based on an equilibrium of forces was at least conceivable."

Kissinger ducked the question and, for some reason, is now suggesting the United States put itself at the mercy of the world's most ruthless regime.

Tech Adviser Primed For "Major Role" In Biden Admin Recently Authored Book Denouncing Section 230

Tech Adviser Primed For "Major Role" In Biden Admin Recently Authored Book Denouncing Section 230 Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 21:40

The frontrunner to be Joe Biden's technology adviser is seen as someone who would likely pave the way to more technology regulation. And among that regulation could be a roll back of the coveted Section 230, which big tech companies have been hiding behind while selectively censoring their users in the name of wokeness. 

As of now, the President-elect's top technology adviser, Bruce Reed, could wind up playing a key role for the Biden administration in dealing with how big tech companies are regulated. Reed is expected to "take a major role" in Biden's administration, according to a Reuters report.

He had formerly helped negotiate with tech companies over the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act, which is being seen as a potential precursor for a national privacy law. 

Even more interesting, however, is the fact that Reed also helped write a chapter in a book a month ago that denounces Section 230, which makes it impossible to sue internet companies over the content of user postings. 

He wrote: “If they sell ads that run alongside harmful content, they should be considered complicit in the harm. If their algorithms promote harmful content, they should be held accountable for helping redress the harm. In the long run, the only real way to moderate content is to moderate the business model.”

Reed's resume includes working as Biden's Chief of Staff from 2011 to 2013 while he was Vice President. He also served "as president of the Broad Foundation, a major Los Angeles philanthropic organization, and then as an adviser to Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective in Palo Alto, California," according to Reuters. 

He also helped smooth the waters with tech companies during the California privacy campaign. Tech companies had initially been resistant to the change until Reed was able to compromise with Apple on the bill's language. Other companies then fell in line. 

Alastair Mactaggart, the real estate developer who masterminded the ballot initiative, said: “He understands that there needs to be good regulation. He wants to get something done. He wasn’t an ideologue who would take his toys and go home if it wasn’t perfect.”

We have a feeling the battle over Section 230 could wind up necessitating slightly more negotiation. We hope Reed is up to the task...

"They Think You're Stupid!"

"They Think You're Stupid!" Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 21:20

Authored by Andrea Widburg via AmericanThinker.com,

Yesterday, I expended considerable time and effort to write about "The Great Reset," a leftist movement that imagines a brave new leftist world built around climate purity and socialist economic principles, with wise elites governing the masses.  If I'd waited a day, I could have just shown you Paul Joseph Watson's latest video - "They think you're stupid" - which covers "The Great Reset" and the "Great Cover-Up about the Great Reset."

If you're debating whether to spend time to watch the video (at the end of this post), let me tell you a bit about it.  Watson doesn't stop with just the Great Reset that I'd described.  Along the way, Watson torches just about everything that the elites are raining down on the masses, all courtesy of the extremely beneficial Wuhan virus.

Sure, the virus killed people (although I think it's clear that, at least in America, mortality numbers have been inflated for political ends).  But for the left, the virus has been an extraordinary blessing, allowing leftists to exert unimagined control over people, enrich themselves, and shift large sections of America into the government dependency category.

Watson hasn't missed the fact that, while we're being locked down and bankrupted, the rich are behaving just as they always do.  Masks?  Pfeh!  Masks are for the little people.  The same goes for social distancing.

And why shouldn't our elites shut down religious holidays and the consolations of worship?  For them, the fact that Judaism and Christianity give a strong moral fabric to Western society is an inconvenience.  Of course, it's different when it comes to leftist rallies.  Americans need those — or at least that's what the world's elite are telling us.

Watson spares a moment to remind us that the leaders reveling in the benefits flowing to them from the Wuhan virus are becoming increasingly punitive as to those people who protest the loss of their rapidly diminishing liberties.  You'd better be creative if you want to hug Granny, because the government thinks it's a bad idea.

Meanwhile, the media, both at home and abroad, no longer make any effort to investigate the powerful or to learn more about events around the world.  Whether in America, England, or elsewhere, the media exist solely as propaganda arms for the globalist elites.  Even ostensibly conservative institutions, whether Fox News or activist groups, are getting in on the act.

Watson wraps up by reminding the "resistance" that they too were used by the monoparty elites.  The Biden administration, should it come to pass, is every bit as committed to corporatism as any other modern administration (except for Trump's, of course).

What's clear is that this New Age socialism is not Karl Marx's socialism.  Marx envisioned the world's exploited workers breaking down national barriers and uniting to create a world defined by common ownership of the means of production for the benefit of the people.  In this scenario, it's the elite — the educated and the plutocrats — who get re-educated or executed.  This vision has failed everywhere it's been tried and this failure has always been accompanied by endless pain and death.

What we're experiencing now is Woodrow Wilson's socialism: Wilson's shtick was that the elite (i.e., the rich and educated) should rule the world.  The elite would use their superior knowledge and intelligence to improve the lives of the little people in ways beyond the people's abilities and imaginations.  (It's always about re-imagining things.)

One of the early progressives' "superior" ideas was eugenics.  Blacks were inferior, although they were useful for doing the elite's dirty work.  Mostly, though, abortion and breeding programs would purify the nation.  The Nazis found Wilsonian Progressives inspirational.

Wilson also came up with the "bass-ackwards" idea that America should never use her military for something as crass as her own defense.  Instead, the American people should expend their blood and gold to "make the world safe for Democracy."  The Obama administration embraced this notion under the rubric of U.N. ambassador Samantha Power's "Responsibility to Protect."

Watson's video may make you see red, but it's worth watching.  As always, his videos come with a language warning.

California Exodus: Silicon Valley Legend Keith Rabois Leaving 'Massively Improperly Run' San Francisco

California Exodus: Silicon Valley Legend Keith Rabois Leaving 'Massively Improperly Run' San Francisco Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 21:00

Silicon Valley tech legend Keith Rabois is leaving San Francisco and "moving immediately" to Florida, adding to the list of tech heavyweights who have left the Bay Area.

"I think San Francisco is just so massively improperly run and managed that it's impossible to stay here," said Rabois, an early executive at PayPal, Square, Linkedin, Yelp who has been a Bay Area resident of two decades, telling Forbes that many in his social circles are leaving as well.

"COVID sort of masks this stuff. It's not quite as obvious where people are moving to and if they've actually moved since everybody's working remotely."

Rabois is one of many Bay Area forsakers. His planned departure follows the flight of Peter Thiel, Rabois's old Stanford buddy and PayPal partner, to Los Angeles in 2018. (Rabois joined Thiel's venture capital firm Founder's Fund last year.) In a much-read IPO prospectus this year, Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir, a PayPal spinout and Rabois investment, also said he was relocating the company to Colorado after laying into the Valley's tech firms, calling them unpatriotic for pooh-poohing military contracts. And Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, where Rabois worked as chief operating officer for three years, planned to move to Africa before the pandemic struck. -Forbes

An August "Suburban Market Report" by Zillow revealed that home prices in San Francisco had fallen 4.9% year-over-year, while inventory had jumped 96% during the same period as a flood of new listings hit the market. Zillow noted that they aren't seeing the same trend in cities such as Miami, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. or Seattle.

"It may be tempting to credit the city of San Francisco’s inventory boom to the advent of remote work that came with the pandemic, but one only has to look at to San Jose to question that narrative," Zillow economist Josh Clark told SFGATE, adding "The San Jose metro, which like the city of S.F. is dominated by tech workers, has not seen a similar rise. Two things that could drive the difference are San Francisco’s density and its smaller share of family households."

Ghislaine Maxwell In Quarantine After Covid Breakout In Her Unit

Ghislaine Maxwell In Quarantine After Covid Breakout In Her Unit Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 20:40

To keep him quiet, Jeffrey Epstein was "suicided" last summer. A little over a year later, Ghislaine Maxwell may get the covid treatment.

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York reported on Monday that Epstein's girlfriend and madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, who faces criminal charges of sex trafficking and is being held in a federal lockup in Brooklyn, is in quarantine after a staffer working in her area of pre-trial lockup in the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) contracted the coronavirus, the Law & Crime blog reported. Maxwell herself has tested negative and is not exhibiting symptoms, for now.

The Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, Photo: AP

"Last week, a staff member who was assigned to work in the area of the MDC where the defendant is housed tested positive for COVID-19," Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey wrote in a two-page letter. "In response, the MDC implemented the same quarantine protocols that apply whenever an inmate has potentially been exposed to the virus. Specifically, on November 18, 2020, the defendant was tested for COVID-19 using a rapid test, which was negative. That same day, the defendant was placed in quarantine."

"As with any other quarantined inmate, the defendant will remain in quarantine for fourteen days, at which point she will be tested again for COVID-19,” the letter went on. “If that test is negative, she will then be released from quarantine. To date, the defendant has not exhibited any symptoms of COVID-19."

The Bureau of Prisons reports that Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center currently has six active COVID-19 cases among staff and one inmate infection. Maxwell is awaiting trial there following her federal indictment for allegedly grooming underaged girls for sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein and his powerful friends. Epstein was found dead in a different prison — Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center — in August 2019, after he reportedly killed himself.

Since Ghislaine remains the last surviving link to exposing an underworld of powerful and connected pedophiles, jailhouse authorities in Brooklyn are reportedly taking no chances to avoid the same fate as Epstein's accused confederate, although if indeed Epstein did not kill himself, Ghislaine's days are likely numbered.

"During her time in quarantine, the defendant will be housed in the same cell where she was already housed before she was placed in quarantine, and medical staff and psychology staff will continue to check on the defendant every day," the letter states.

Still, since allowances must be made for her pre-trial preparations, Ghislaine - who has been held without bail since her July arrest - will have ample opportunities to catch the virus before her day in court.

"Like all other MDC inmates in quarantine, the defendant will be permitted out of her cell three days per week for thirty minutes,” prosecutors wrote. “During that time, the defendant may shower, make personal phone calls, and use the CorrLinks email system. In addition, the defendant will continue to be permitted to make legal calls every day for up to three hours per day. These calls will take place in a room where the defendant is alone and where no MDC staff can hear her communications with counsel."

Maxwell’s attorneys did not respond to a different press inquiry earlier today, in response to the release of deposition excerpts by Epstein’s former house manager John Alessi who testified that Maxwell “constantly” took photographs of topless girls brought to his boss’s pool.

The worker, John Alessi, told lawyers for one of Maxwell’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, in a June 2016 deposition that Maxwell had a "high-tech" camera and was constantly taking photographs by the money manager’s pool of European and American girls, most of whom were topless.

Maxwell, who was Epstein’s girlfriend and close aide, kept the photographs in an album on her desk, said Alessi, who said he last spoke to Epstein in 2014. A partial transcript of the deposition was unsealed in federal court in New York after failed efforts by the former socialite to keep it secret.

 

"Why I'm Hopeful About 2021, But..."

"Why I'm Hopeful About 2021, But..." Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 19:20

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

What we need is not a return to the corrupt, tottering kleptocracy of 2019, but a re-democratization of capital, agency and money.

I'm hopeful about 2021, and no, it's not because of the vaccines or the end of lockdowns or anything related to Covid. The status quo is cheering the fantasy that we'll soon return to the debt-soaked glory days of 2019 when everything was peachy.

The problem with this "brand" of magical thinking is that stripped of self-serving PR, the world of 2019 was an autocratic kleptocracy stripmining the planet to enrich the few at the expense of the many. Viewed through this lens, what's hopeful isn't returning to an autocratic kleptocracy but moving beyond it.

The most hopeful thing in my mind is that the Status Quo is devolving from its internal contradictions and excesses. Here's the status quo in a nutshell:

  • The solution to too much debt is more debt.

  • The solution to autocratic elites hogging wealth and power is to give the elites more wealth and power.

And so on: every status quo "solution" boils down to doing more of what's failed spectacularly because it serves the interests of the few at the top of the wealth-power pyramid.

The Great Reset is a perfect example of this insanity: now that we've destroyed the planet with our private jets, greed and corruption, give us even more power over you.

The status quo is a perverse, intensely destructive system with powerful incentives for predation, exploitation, fraud and complicity. That's the world of 2019; do we really want to go back to that? And even if we could, how long would it last? Another year or two? And at what cost to social cohesion and the planet?

A more humane, sustainable world lies beyond the Status Quo. The problem is those reaping the immense rewards of the privileged insiders will fight any reform tooth and nail, so the only real way to advance the interests of the common good is for the rigged, rotten, corrupt, unsustainable status quo to crumble to dust.

I know many smart, well-informed people expect the worst once the Status Quo (the Savior State and its kleptocratic banking / corporatocracy partners) devolves, and there is abundant evidence of the ugliness of human nature under duress.

But we should temper this Id ugliness with the stronger impulses of community and compassion. If greed and rapaciousness were the dominant forces within human nature, then the species would have either died out at its own hand or been limited to small savage populations kept in check by the predation of neighboring groups, none of which could expand much because inner conflict would limit their ability to grow.

The remarkable success of humanity as a species is not simply the result of a big brain, opposable thumbs, year-round sex or even language; it is ultimately the result of social and cultural associations that act as a "network" for storing knowledge and relationships-- what we call intellectual and social capital.

I have devoted significant portions of my books--

--to an explanation of how community, sustainability, the public good and self-reliance have all atrophied under the relentless expansion of the autocratic Corporate-State kleptocracy.

The social capital and "return on investment" earned from investing time and energy in community and other social networks has been replaced by a check from the Central State--an MMT/UBI (Universal Basic Income) transfer payment that surely beats the troublesome work of investing in community in terms of risk and return.

The net result of the Savior State dominating society and the economy is the rise of a pathological mindset of entitlement and resentment--the two are simply two sides of the same coin. You cannot separate them.

Once self-reliance has been lost, so too has self-confidence been lost, and the Savior State dependent--individual and corporation alike--soon distrusts their ability to function in an open market.

This is a truly sad, self-destructive state of affairs, and deeply, tragically ironic. The calls for "help" quickly lead to dependence on the Savior State and corporate monopolies, and that dependence quickly breeds complicity and silence in the face of repression and predation by the State and its corporate partners.

In a very real sense, citizens relinquish their citizenship along with their self-reliance and self-worth once they accept dependence on the State. Citizenship in the original Greek concept was not simply the granting of rights to do as one pleased; it also demanded a commitment to serve the interests of the many via personal sacrifice.

I often mention that the U.S. has much to learn from so-called Third World countries that are poorer in resources and credit. In many of these countries, the government is the police, the school and the infrastructure of roadways and energy. Many of these countries are systemically corrupt, and the State is the engine and enforcer of corruption.

Rather than something to be embraced and lobbied, involvement with the State is something to be avoided as a risk. As a result, people depend on their social capital and community for sustenance, support, work and connections.

This is not altruism, it is mutually beneficial.

Once a community dissolves into atomized individuals who each get a payment from the Central State, then they no longer need each other. Rather, other dependents on the State are viewed as competitors for the State's resources.

These atomized, isolated individuals have a perverse relationship with the State and what remains of the community around them: lacking the self-worth earned from work or engagement/investment in a community, then their only outlet for self-identity is consumption: what they wear, eat, drink, etc. as consumers. This lack of purpose and meaning is destructive to well-being; we all want to be needed and valued by our circle and society.

This dependence on the State and corporate monopolies also serves the State's goal, which is a passive, compliant populace of dependents, and distracted, passive workers who enrich the owners of corporations with their labor and pay their taxes to the state. This dependence on the State and a hollow consumerism are ontologically bound: each feeds the other.

The era of debt-based consumption as the engine of "growth" and "prosperity" is coming to an end. Adding debt no longer creates growth; it actually takes away from the economy by expanding debt service (interest payments).

The vast majority of developed-world people have had the basics of life since the late 1960s -- transport, food, shelter and utilities. The "growth" since then depended on cheap, abundant oil and a consumerist mentality in which one constantly re-defines one's identity not from social investments in the shared community but from consumption of corporate goods and services funded by credit.

Not coincidentally, this dominance of consumption as the only metric for "growth" (as opposed to, say, productive activity) has been paralleled by the dominance of the Central State.

The end of credit-based consumption will be a very positive development, as will the devolution of the Savior State. The Savior State is like cheap oil--both are at their peaks and are starting their inevitable slide down the S-curve. The world they created was not as positive for human fulfillment and happiness as we have been told.

Indeed, study after study has found that people with the basics for life, a higher purpose that requires sacrifice and a tight-knit community are far and away happier than isolated, atomized, insecure consumers, regardless of their wealth and consumption.

This potential to re-humanize and re-democratize our economy and society is why I am hopeful. What we need is not a return to the corrupt, tottering kleptocracy of 2019, but a re-democratization of capital, agency and money. 

More on that later this week...

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

 

Bitcoin's Gut Check: The Time Of Crisis As The Moment Of Truth

Bitcoin's Gut Check: The Time Of Crisis As The Moment Of Truth Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 18:40

Authored by Marc Bernegger via CoinTelegraph.com,

If Bitcoin weathers the current financial storm, our monetary system will be on the brink of dramatic changes or even a revolution.

image courtesy of CoinTelegraph

We are at a turning point in history. The coming months will show how institutional investors will react in the medium term to the countless rescue packages in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. One thing is certain: States and central banks have been hard-pressed for solutions. Moreover, it looks like their efforts have been exhausted already at the start. Should investors end up losing faith in the measures taken, the consequences would be far more dramatic than a short-term stock market crash.

No one can foresee today what our future monetary system will look like, but the history of money has been marked sometimes by radical system changes. Today’s historical interventions in the free market are unparalleled, especially given their magnitude, and will no doubt in hindsight be seen as the beginning of the end of our current monetary system with its fiat currencies “made out of nothing.”

Is Bitcoin (BTC) “digital gold” and a “safe haven” currency? Yes, now more than ever before.

Bitcoin was created in 2008 in response to the financial crisis­, and the present-day chaos on the global financial markets is the first major test of its ability to assert itself as an alternative and a new asset class. However, when liquidity is needed, as it is now, everything is sold, especially risky assets. John Bollinger, the creator of the so-called Bollinger Band, a technical indicator for price developments, rightly noted that in times of crisis, investors will “sell whatever they can sell,” and only after assets have been turned into cash is an investment made in crisis-proof assets — e.g., gold.

Flee toward “hard money”

In contrast to state-run monetary watchdogs who have been trying to safeguard “a continuously functioning market” by pumping in “avalanches” of money (and not just since the coronavirus outbreak), the pricing of Bitcoin is regulated without any intermediary interference and is solely based on supply and demand. There is also a cap to the number of Bitcoins that can be created — 21 million — and this means that in contrast to traditional fiat currency, no new Bitcoins can be arbitrarily printed. 

New Bitcoins are “mined” in the same way that other commodities are — e.g., gold — but through a complex and clearly defined process. No one is able to alter the number of newly generated Bitcoins.

It will be a clear advantage for our traditional monetary system to have alternatives to fall back on in the likely event of hyperinflation. “Creative instruments,” such as helicopter money and similar interventionist measures, are not possible in the same way with Bitcoin, and neither governments, (central) banks nor other institutions are able to manipulate and/or change the parameters of this new decentralized asset class. 

Since the hegemonic power of the United States has been also weakening, the topic of reserve currency will at some point be on the table. Already today, it is foreseeable that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will compete with digital currencies issued by state governments. 

Is Bitcoin a “global digital currency?” This might sound like science fiction, but it is actually not that unfounded.

Meanwhile, institutional investors have started to see the attraction of crypto assets. However, in times of crisis, they are often quick to withdraw their capital from risky investments, and Bitcoin is still classified as such by the majority.

Personally, I am convinced that Bitcoin, as well as other digital assets, can only benefit from the current developments and their dramatic long-term consequences.

Trump Tells GSA To Allow Biden Transition To Proceed "In The Best Interest Of Our Country"

Trump Tells GSA To Allow Biden Transition To Proceed "In The Best Interest Of Our Country" Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 18:29

In what is the closest words yet to a concession, President Trump agreed to let GSA proceed with the Biden administration transition. In a pair of tweets, Trump noted:

"I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA."

Trump added that while the election litigation battle continues...

"Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!"

... He will allow the transition to proceed:

"Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same."

As a gentle reminder, this is NOT what happened in 2000 Bush vs Gore...

After Vice President Al Gore conceded the presidential election to Texas Gov. George W. Bush Wednesday night, General Services Administration chief David Barram announced that GSA would release transition funds and provide office space to the Bush transition team.

The 2000 Presidential Transition Act, passed in October, allocates more than $5 million for the transition and expands GSA's role in it. GSA will publish a transition directory with information on each agency, and will help arrange briefings and furnish appointees with information on topics such as ethics and financial disclosure regulations. GSA's transition office is at 1800 G Street NW in Washington.

Republican lawmakers had criticized Barram's decision to withhold transition funds pending Gore's challenge to election results in Florida. Last week, Rep. Steve Horn, R-Calif., chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology, held hearings on the issue. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., then introduced a bill that would've required GSA to support the Bush transition.

Barram had said he would not release the funds until an "apparent successful candidate" had been determined, as mandated in the Presidential Transition Act of 1963. The Transition Act requires GSA to provide federal money, office space and other logistical support to the incoming and outgoing administrations.

Trump's tweets follow a letter from Emily Murphy (see below), the General Services Administration chief, in which she told Biden that "because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, I have determined that you may access the post-election resources and services described in Section 3 of the Act upon request," which includes some $6.3 million in funding and other government resources, as well as access to current agency officials and briefing books.

The biggest change now is that the Biden transition team will be able to flood federal agencies with officials focused on preparing the way for his administration. They will have access to agency staff and briefing books assembled earlier this year.

Until today's GSA letter, the Biden transition team had worked informally to establish a new administration, including assembling a coronavirus task force and consulting with public health officials outside of the federal government, mimicking the approach former Vice President Dick Cheney took during the disputed 2000 election.

In the letter, Murphy also said that she had received "threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely." She added that she was not “directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official” into the making or timing of a decision on the presidential transition.

The full letter from the GSA's Murphy details what she has gone through and what steps take place next... (emphasis ours)

Dear Mr. Biden:

As the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, I have the ability under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, to make certain post-election resources and services available to assist in the event of a presidential transition. See 3 U.S.C. § 102 note (the "Act"). I take this role seriously and, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you.

I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right. Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination. I did, however, receive threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely. Even in the face of thousands of threats, I always remained committed to upholding the law.

Contrary to media reports and insinuations, my decision was not made out of fear or favoritism. Instead, I strongly believe that the statute requires that the GSA Administrator ascertain, not impose, the apparent president-elect. Unfortunately, the statute provides no procedures or standards for this process, so I looked to precedent from prior elections involving legal challenges and incomplete counts. GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable or justified. These are issues that the Constitution, federal laws, and state laws leave to the election certification process and decisions by courts of competent jurisdiction. I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process. I strongly urge Congress to consider amendments to the Act.

As you know, the GSA Administrator does not pick or certify the winner of a presidential election. Instead, the GSA Administrator's role under the Act is extremely narrow: to make resources and services available in connection with a presidential transition. As stated, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, I have determined that you may access the post-election resources and services described in I have determined that you may access the post-election resources and services described in Section 3 of the Act upon request. The actual winner of the presidential election will be determined by the electoral process detailed in the Constitution.

Section 7 of the Act and Public Law 116-159, dated October 1, 2020, which provides continuing appropriations until December 11, 2020, makes $6,300,000 available to you to carry out the provisions of Section 3 of the Act. In addition, $1,000,000 is authorized, pursuant to Public Law 116-159, to provide appointee orientation sessions and a transition directory. I remind you that Section 6 of the Act imposes reporting requirements on you as a condition for receiving services and funds from GSA.

If there is anything we can do to assist you, please contact Ms. Mary D. Gibed, the Federal Transition Coordinator.

So, 'ascertainment' has not been reached but presumably, "democracy" is "safe" once again.

Leveraged Finance at Full Throttle

Leveraged Finance at Full Throttle Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 18:25 Real Vision editor Jack Farley hosts Tyler Neville of Real Vision for a spirited debate about the fate of risk assets. Tyler makes the case that U.S. equities have a lot more room to run, basing his case on tight credit spreads and the Federal Reserve’s ever-expanding balance sheet. Tyler incorporates market breadth as well as venture capital funding to argue that the punch bowl may never be removed. Jack challenges Tyler’s bullish thesis, asking Tyler about the upcoming expiration of the Fed’s emergency lending programs and the possibility that the holiday season will accelerate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Jack and Tyler then explore the future of so-called “zombie companies,” whose liabilities have swelled to over $1.2 trillion. In the intro, Real Vision's Haley Draznin analyzes the promising developments of a coronavirus vaccine, how it impacts the markets, and why some sectors will benefit a lot more than others. For charts from Tyler as well as Jack, click here: https://rvtv.io/2URRNAH

Pennsylvania Governor Bans Alcohol Sales On The Day Before Thanksgiving

Pennsylvania Governor Bans Alcohol Sales On The Day Before Thanksgiving Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 18:20

Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is tapping into his state's Quaker roots to deliver an economy-sized dose of Thanksgiving disappointment. In an effort to avert a coronavirus-inspired lockdown, the governor said Monday that he would ban alcohol sales in the state on the day before Thanksgiving via executive order.

Bars and restaurants should stop selling alcohol starting at 1700ET on Wednesday until 0800ET Thanksgiving morning. Since Thanksgiving is typically "the biggest day for drinking", the governor hopes the mandate could help slow the spread of the virus.

So, for the millions of Americans who ignored the CDC's warnings and traveled home for the holidays anyway, the traditional pre-Thanksgiving tradition of hooking up with an old high school classmate while out at the ol' stomping ground bars on the night before Thanksgiving will be - like pretty much everything else in 2020 - ruined, in Pennsylvania and many other states.

Because while alcohol sales can legally continue in New York and New Jersey, those states have curfews in place or other restrictions to stop bars from opening to patrons this holiday season.

"This is an advisory," Wolf said. "All Pennsylvanians, in order to stay safe, ought to stay home. It is vital that every single Pennsylvanian takes these mitigation steps seriously."

The ban on alcohol sales follows orders to limit holiday gatherings to members of one's immediate family or household. The governor warned that all of these restrictions would help the state avoid "greater strain" on its health-care system, which is more vulnerable in rural parts of the vast Keystone state.

"As our hospitals and health care system are facing greater strain, we need to redouble our efforts to keep people safe," Wolf said in a statement. "If our health care system is compromised, it isn’t only COVID-19 patients who will suffer. If we run out of hospital beds, or if hospital staff are over-worked to the breaking point, care will suffer for every patient – including those who need emergency care for illnesses, accidents, or chronic conditions unrelated to COVID-19."

To be sure, many Pennsylvanians had probably grown weary of Wolf's aggressive restrictions even before this latest executive order.

They'll have their chance to get their revenge at the polls some day. But for now, at least the Steelers game is still on.

Propaganda, Election Fraud, & The Death Of Journalism

Propaganda, Election Fraud, & The Death Of Journalism Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 18:00

Authored by Frank Miele via RealClearPolitics.com,

Easy question: Is it illegal to steal an election or not?

You would have to assume that it is no big deal based on the response to claims of widespread fraud in the contest between President Trump and Joe Biden. Big Media says the evidence just doesn’t exist, and most Americans seem to be lost in a blue haze of blind acceptance that whatever they are told by the talking heads on TV must be true.

This kind of unthinking obedience to authority is a frightening harbinger of an America that is no longer a nation of laws, but rather a nation of edicts. You can already see that unfolding in the sheep-like acceptance of COVID-19 restrictions that blatantly ignore the Constitution. But if you dare do your own independent assessment of facts -- whether regarding the efficacy of mask use in preventing spread of coronavirus or regarding the security of electronic voting -- you will quickly come to a different conclusion than that which is approved by Big Tech, Big Media and Big Money.

Unfortunately, most people don’t take the time to do their own research. They simply believe whatever is told to them. For those in thrall to the establishment media, that means they believe that Trump’s allegations of election fraud are “baseless.” Remember, the media made that declaration within hours of the election, long before any evidence had been presented in a court of law and before analysis had begun on the raw vote totals. Once that narrative was established, it didn’t matter how many affidavits were presented, how many witnesses came forward, or how much analysis suggested that the vote count may have been manipulated. The jury of the American people had already been tainted by Big Media to believe the narrative that Trump is a sore loser.

Don’t forget, the mainstream media -- in the interests of public enlightenment (now known as wokeness) -- have spent the past four years reporting as fact that the duly elected president of the United States is a liar, a tax cheat, a Russian puppet, and a racist. In other words, he is a con man who never should have been anywhere near the Oval Office in the first place. So why would anyone now believe his claims that Democrats used phony mail ballots, vote-counting software and foreign manipulation to steal the election? Most of the media is pretending that there is not even a real story to report in what, if true, would be one of the gravest constitutional crises in the history of our republic.

As Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said in his press conference Thursday, “The coverage of this has been almost as dishonest as the scheme itself. The American people are entitled to know this,” he warned the press. “You don’t have a right to keep it from them. You don’t have a right to lie about it.”

But, the newsrooms at CNN and MSNBC are keeping it from the public. They refused to even carry Giuliani’s press conference laying out the evidence of election fraud. As for Fox News, they covered it, and then put a reporter on the air to say the claims were “simply not true” or “baseless.” Clearly, we are not going to get the truth from the media. Has there been even one reporter for a mainstream outlet such as the Washington Post asking questions about the vulnerability of electronic voting systems to hacking or manipulation? Is any news organization demanding that the Justice Department or FBI get to the bottom of the story?

The loss of a free and neutral press means that democracy cannot work even if its elections were completely above board. The capacity of the people to self-govern is dependent on their access to true and accurate information. Sadly, the opposite principle applies as well. When journalism abandons objectivity in favor of an agenda, then the people are in the position of cattle being led to slaughter.

Thomas Jefferson described the abuses of a free press in 1814 in a letter to his friend Walter Jones:

“I deplore … the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity and the mendacious spirit of those who write for them… These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information and a curb on our functionaries, they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief… This has, in a great degree, been produced by the violence and malignity of party spirit.”

Ouch! Take that, New York Times! Take that, CNN!

Of course, it is just such a malign “party spirit” that informs almost all mainstream journalism in the Age of Trump -- a spirit that is visible in the hostility towards Trump himself, but also in the accommodation towards Democrats such as Joe Biden. Last Monday’s Biden press conference was a stunning abdication of responsibility by the media for its much-vaunted role of “speaking truth to power” — or at least asking tough questions.

Three of the first four queries were merely anti-Trump questions asked in a new way. Instead of asking Trump “How do you justify your unprecedented attempt to obstruct and delay a smooth transfer of power?” the reporters merely asked Biden what he thought about Trump's “unprecedented attempt” blah blah blah. Then the next three questions were about COVID, which after six months of campaigning, even Sleepy Joe Biden could answer with his eyes closed.

Isn’t the media going to hold Biden accountable just like they claimed to hold Trump accountable? Why not ask about the curious patterns of vote counting in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia that make millions of people think Biden tried to steal the election? Shouldn’t he be asked to support a full investigation to prove his victory was legitimate? How about a question about whether Hunter Biden will come out of hiding now that the election is over? How about asking the “president-in-waiting” to condemn the BLM and antifa violence that sent several innocent Trump supporters to the hospital two weeks ago?

How about our celebrity journalists celebrate their own crucial role as defenders of democracy? If they don’t want to “render themselves useless,” they need to swear allegiance to facts, wherever they lead, and not to one party. Or as Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana put it more indelicately, “They have to be equal opportunity assholes.”

But they aren’t — and sooner or later the American people will get tired of being manipulated. Journalism is supposed to give an honest account of the facts so that people can make up their own minds what they believe to be true. Propaganda, on the other hand, is a dishonest attempt to persuade people not to examine the facts for themselves. Journalism starts with facts and allows people to reach their own conclusion. Propaganda starts with a conclusion and manipulates people into accepting it as fact. You can decide for yourself whether what we have today is journalism or propaganda. 

But the bottom line is this: Whether or not Donald Trump can prove his case in court should be irrelevant to the job of the press. What honest reporters ought to recognize is the significance of the allegation itself, the historical nature of the crime being alleged, and the importance to the future of our republic that the case must be heard.

Too bad there are so few honest reporters left.

Central Banks To Add Liquidity Worth 0.66% Of Global GDP On Average Every Month In 2021

Central Banks To Add Liquidity Worth 0.66% Of Global GDP On Average Every Month In 2021 Tyler Durden Mon, 11/23/2020 - 17:41

Earlier today we explained why Morgan Stanley's chief equity strategist Michael Wilson voiced concerns about the continuation of the "overcooked" equity rally, expecting a drawdown into year end for the simple reason that "both fiscal and now monetary policy have become reactive rather than proactive. For markets, that becomes the itch that needs to be scratched--i.e. market pressure is necessary and likely to get Congress and/or the Fed to act."

And yet, once the coming period of volatility is over, Morgan Stanley sees the bull market continuing with the S&P expected to rise another 10% over the next 12 months.

Why? The answer is simple, and is the same one explaining the market's rally over the past decade: the unprecedented liquidity injection by central banks since 2009.

As Morgan Stanley's chief rates strategist Matthew Hornbach wrote in a note this morning, while conceding that "unforeseen obstacles to a buoyant risk environment will arise" he said that "current central bank policies are aimed at softening those blows, and will be effective at doing so." Indeed, as Hornback predicts, "not only will central bank balance sheets continue to expand", with the Morgan Stanley  strategist expecting G4 central bank balance sheets to hit just why of $30 trillion in two years, up from $25 trillion currently...

... but additionally "very few central banks will be raising policy rates in 2021, and a few will be cutting them further."

While it was once seen in poor form to assign a bullish thesis to central bank liquidity and intervention, those days are long gone as Hornbach shows:

Back to Liquidity

An important feature of 2021 will be the liquidity underlying economic growth. Why is liquidity important to macro markets? It both greases the wheels of transactional finance and changes the opportunity set available to investors. When it comes to liquidity, our focus is on both "narrow" and "broad" measures, as defined by Goodfriend (2000). And we expect both types of liquidity to expand in 2021.

Liquidity will come from continued central bank QE...

Central bank purchases of private sector assets (government bonds, corporate bonds, agency MBS) feature heavily in both types of liquidity injection. Exhibit 7 shows our monthly QE projections for the 8 central banks we think will be active in 2021.

We expect these 8 combined to remove US$304 billion of securities ($238 billion of which will be government bonds), on average, from private markets every month in 2021. Unsurprisingly, the Fed and the ECB will remove the most securities each month, in US dollar terms (see Exhibit 8).

In total, these 8 central banks are expected to add liquidity worth 0.66% of annual nominal GDP, on average, every month in 2021. "That is a rapid pace of global liquidity injection, the likes of which we haven't seen outside of 2020" Hornbach casually inserts.

While these are staggering numbers, consider that the IIF now sees total global debt rising from $277 trillion at the end of 2020 to a grotesque $360 trillion by 2030, over $85 trillion from current levels.

And in a world in which helicopter money is the norm as government debt is now actively monetized by central banks to enable MMT, we expect the real central bank balance sheet number to be drastically higher than Morgan Stanley's forecast.

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