Month: August 2017

Moody’s: Australian covered bond credit quality robust despite housing market risks

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The latest from Moody’s on Australia, Headlines via Reuters:

Aside from the credit questions this: “very high, rising household indebtedness”
is a concern for the RBA insofar as it is weighing on household spending and therefore, perhaps, economic growth.         

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China’s Xi pledges to properly address differences with S.Korea — Xinhua

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Author: 
Reuters
Thu, 2017-08-24 05:06
ID: 
1503541714678478300

BEIJING: China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to make concerted efforts with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in to address differences between the two countries properly, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.
“Xi made the remarks in a congratulatory message sent to Moon on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-South Korea diplomatic relations,” Xinhua said.
Development of China-South Korea relations makes a positive contribution to regional peace and development, Xinhua cited Xi as saying. The news agency did not provide further details.
South Korea and the United States agreed to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in response to the growing missile threat from North Korea.
However, the move has angered China, which says the system’s powerful radar will look deep into its territory and undermine regional security.
China has pressured South Korean businesses through boycotts and bans, such as ending Chinese group tours to South Korea and closing most of South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group’s Lotte Mart retail stores in China.
Moon has also pushed China, North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, to do more to rein in Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons programs.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and dozens of missile tests since the beginning of last year, significantly raising tension on the heavily militarised Korean peninsula and in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. Two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July resulted in a new round of tougher global sanctions.

Main category: 
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China-US train plan chugs along

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How ’bout this for an early wrap? “The dollar inched higher on Thursday”

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I’ll post the Asia session wrap a little later, but Reuters are on it already:
In brief:
– The dollar inched higher on Thursday, paring some of the losses it suffered after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested a shutdown of the government was possible…

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Bezos Vs Putin – Who Will Be The First Trillionaire?

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Authored by James Durso via TheHill.com,

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the one of the world’s richest men, and he may become the first trillionaire. But some think Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alleged $200 billion fortune surpasses Bezos’ paltry $90 billion. Who is really #1?

It depends how you count.

First, the numbers are dodgy.

Putin critic Bill Browder, once Russia’s largest foreign investor, says Putin has a $200 billion fortune (compared to Russia’s $1.6 trillion GDP). Browder was ejected from Russia in 2005 after being designated a “threat to national security” and said of his activism, “I was not going after his [Putin’s] enemies, I was going after his [Putin’s] own financial interests.”

He hasn’t produced any proof of the $200 billion other than his “belief,” but his humiliating ejection from Russia and the death in prison of hi­s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, might be related.

Second, no one manages $200 billion by themselves. If Putin “had” $200 billion he would demand it be managed well, and that means managed as a portfolio. A portfolio similar in size to Putin’s is Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway with a total equity of $283 billion. What do you do with $283 billion? You buy things like a railroad or large, visible positions in the airline sector. (And after all that, Buffet still has $100 billion in cash left over.) Managing all that money requires lawyers and financial specialists who are world-class at managing money and keeping their mouths shut. Forever.

The claim that Putin is richest man in the world rests on the assumption that he has front men managing his money. How easy is to do that and not be noticed? Well, for comparison, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud of Saudi Arabia is worth $17.8 billion. But according to The Economist, “his sums don’t add up,” in part because he could be fronting for others members of the Saudi royal family. We can infer from this that Putin would need a herd of billionaires to do his bidding as his alleged fortune is almost 12 times larger than Alwaleed’s, while he has managed to maintain more secrecy than any Saudi royal.

You have to go back in Russian history to know how Putin manages his assets.

Back one hundred years in fact, to the reign of Czar Nicholas II when the wealth of the Romanovs was estimated to be $45 billion (in 1917 dollars) and it was “impossible to separate Czar Nicholas II’s wealth from the state’s.” Putin probably has a few billion somewhere just to oil the wheels, but who needs bank accounts when the assets of the state are yours?

Like all politicians, Putin probably considers himself immortal. But he also probably remembers what happened to the families of Soviet officials who were purged: if they were lucky they survived their sentence to the Gulag. Which brings us to Putin’s friends and their children, the Kremlin juniors.

Putin’s closest friends from St. Petersburg, such as Gennady Timchenko and Yuri Kovalchuk, the largest shareholder in Bank Rossiya, are reputed to be some of the sources of Putin’s wealth. As such, they were sanctioned by the U.S. in the wake of Russia’s seizure of Crimea but will likely stand firm because they believe in Putin and they know what happened to those in the first generation of oligarchs who wavered.

Nikolai Shamalov is a Putin friend and co-founder with Putin and others of The Ozero (Lake) Cooperative, a development near St. Petersburg. (As Putin friends go, you don’t get closer than an Ozero owner.) His two sons, Yury and Kiril, went on to important positions in state-influenced companies, and Kiril married Putin’s daughter Katerina at a resort owned by Yuri Kovalchuk. The couple is reportedly worth $2 billion.

Russia’s first post-Soviet ruling class may expire peacefully with substantial assets in the hands of their children. Do they have more money than Bezos? It’s hard to tell, but it doesn’t matter if you have the power.

As he shuffles off this mortal coil, the unrepentant Chekist will smile knowing he beat them all.

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Pence vows US will not allow ‘collapse of Venezuela’

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Author: 
AFP
Thu, 2017-08-24 04:48
ID: 
1503539831778365900

MIAMI: US Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday vowed the US would not allow “the collapse of Venezuela,” saying such an event would “endanger” countries in the wider region.
“The collapse of Venezuela will endanger all who call the Western Hemisphere home,” Pence said in remarks delivered before some 600 people at a Catholic church in Doral, the heart of Miami’s Venezuelan community.
“We cannot and will not let that happen,” he said, adding that “working with our allies in the Latin American region, the US will confront and overcome all who dare to threaten our wellbeing.”
He emphasized that Venezuela’s “collapse” would “drive more illegal drug trafficking with its murderous consequences” — a notion his boss President Donald Trump has also pushed.
The vice president gave his speech just back from his tour last week of Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama. Venezuela was among the key issues discussed.
The country has spiraled into political and economic chaos, threatening regional stability. Clashes between protesters and police this year have left 125 people dead, according to prosecutors.
In Miami Pence did not raise the specter of military action, which Trump has evoked.
Pence insisted that the US would not make decisions unilaterally: “America first does not mean America alone.”
US Senator Marco Rubio and Florida Governor Rick Scott also spoke, reiterating their pledge to ban companies in the southeastern state from doing business with Venezuelan firms.
According to 2015 census data, some 273,000 Venezuelans live in the United States — nearly half of them in Florida, and most in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

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Watchdog Group Files FOIA Request For Mnuchin’s Flight Logs After Wife’s Instagram Spat

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Steve Mnuchin’s bombshell of a ‘trophy wife’, Scottish actress Louise Linton, is about to learn that there are consequences for snarky, condescending social media rants…well, for Republicans and their immediate family anyway. 

Apparently Linton’s now-infamous Instagram post yesterday responding to a social media troll has sparked the interest of a watchdog group called Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) who has now filed a FOIA request for all of Steve Mnuchin’s travel records.  Among other things, CREW seems to be alleging that Mnuchin and Linton planned their usage of a government plane around this week’s eclipse.

Per CREW‘s website, the FOIA request seeks the following:

CREW requests:

 

1.  copies of all records concerning authorization for and the costs of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s use of a government plane to travel to Lexington, Kentucky on Monday, August 21, accompanied by his wife Louise Linton.

2.  copies of all records concerning authorization for and the costs of Secretary Mnuchin’s use of a government plane for any purpose since his appointment as Treasury Secretary.

 

On August 21, 2017, Secretary Mnuchin and his wife Louise Linton travelled to Lexington, Kentucky, purportedly for the Secretary to present remarks along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at a luncheon sponsored by the Louisville chamber of commerce, Greater Louisville Inc. Afterward, Secretary Mnuchin and his wife “headed to Fort Know…to tour the bullion reserve at the Army post and view the eclipse.”

 

The requested records would shed light on the justification for Secretary Mnuchin’s use of a government plane, rather than a commercial flight, for a trip that seems to have been planned around the solar eclipse and to enable the Secretary to secure a viewpoint in the path of the eclipse’s totality. At a time of expected deep cuts to the federal budget, the taxpayers have a significant interest in learning the extent to which Secretary Mnuchin has used government planes for travel in lieu of commercial planes, and the justification for that use.

And here is the full FOIA request:

 

Sorry, Louise…snark and beauty may have their career benefits in Hollywood but in Washington D.C., particularly when you’re a member of a Republican administration completely hated by the Deep State, they only serve to increase the size of the target on your back.

* * *

For those who missed it, below is our post from yesterday on Linton’s Instagram rant…complete with our thorough ‘research’ on her career ‘accomplishments.’

As was always likely, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s wife Louise Linton has been forced to apologize for her Marie Antionette moment… A short and to the point statement read…

“I apologize for my post on social media yesterday as well as my response. It was inappropriate and highly insensitive.”

We are sure that will satiate the twitter hordes that just got confirmation of everything they believed about ‘the elites’.

*  *  *

As we detailed earlier, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s 36-year-old (he’s 52 btw) trophy wife Louise Linton has landed herself in a bit of hot water this morning after an epic social media rant against a taxpayer who took issue with one of her Instagram posts.

Apparently @jennimiller29 didn’t appreciate Linton hastagging her entire expensive wardrobe (including #rolandmouret, #tomford, #hermesscarf, and #valnetinorockstudheels) while traveling on a taxpayer funded private plane, during her husband’s trip to “check” if the gold at Fort Knox is still there, which prompted the following snarky comment:

“Glad we could pay for your little getaway.”

Let them eat cake: 2017 in your face editionhttps://t.co/jcTc4UqkK3 pic.twitter.com/KbkcF47bnJ

— Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) August 22, 2017

And while most folks have learned to simply ignore the social media trolls, Linton apparently has not…which is great news for everyone else because it prompted the following epic rant in reply:

“Cute! Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch. Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message [sic], one filled with wisdom and hunanity [sic] would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!”

Louise Linton, wife of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, just turned her Instagram private after posting this (h/t @skenigsberg) pic.twitter.com/beakVnAhhu

— Margarita Noriega (@margarita) August 22, 2017

Others quickly chimed in: “Quite the populist hashtags on Louise Linton’s Instagram (Mnuchin’s wife), following her taxpayer-funded day trip to Kentucky,” joked Matt McDermott, a pollster and Associate Director at Whitman Insight Strategies.

“Curiously this Instagram post is no longer available. F–king hedge funders,” wrote one Twitter user. “Louise Linton is a hideous person, growing fat off of our tax dollars,” another said.

At one point during the evening, someone even went so far as to change Linton’s Wikipedia page to reflect her IG comment. “Never forget she posted this on Instagram,” the page read as of 10:30 p.m.

Alas, in the end, it seems that only the President is permitted to post outlandish social media rants as Linton’s post has since been deleted and her account turned private.

Finally, since we know this is the only reason you clicked on this post anyway…here you go:

Linton

Link for Linton’s Maxim photoshoot

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Amnesty International: Civilians under greater threat as Raqqa fight intensifies

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Amnesty International said on Thursday a US-led coalition campaign to oust Daesh from Syria’s Raqqa had killed hundreds of civilians, and those remaining face greater risk as the fight intensifies in its final stages. The rights group also said Russia-backed Syrian government forces had carried out indiscriminate attacks against civilians, reported to have included cluster and barrel bombs, in a separate campaign against the militants south of Raqqa city. “Civilians are … trapped in the city, under fire from all sides,” Amnesty said in a report. It said the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes Arab and Kurdish militias, must take more care as they battle for the city’s central districts. Read More: Is Donald Trump to Raqqa and Mosul […]

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Brexit papers – UK plans ‘unprecedented alignment’ with EU over data sharing

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All this week the UK government is releasing Brexit papers (I posted on this here: )
UK’s “Department for Exiting the EU” (srsly) to publish 5 papers this week
Today’s (Thursday) paper will outline how data will be protected and exchanged with the EU, and which “reflects the unprecedented alignment between British and European law,” according to

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