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King Salman receives Iraqi PM in Riyadh

October 22, 2017 rbksa 0
Author: 
Arab News
Sun, 2017-10-22 05:09
ID: 
1508627416683775100

RIYADH: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi arrived in Riyadh on Saturday in a visit aimed at further enhancing strategic ties.
King Salman received the prime minister and his accompanying delegation at the king’s palace, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
Abadi is to take part in a meeting on Sunday to establish a joint Saudi-Iraqi coordination council aimed at boosting cooperation.
US State Secretary Rex Tillerson, who arrived also on Saturday, is to take part in the meeting, officials said.
Abadi’s visit to Saudi Arabia is the second this year since Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir visited Baghdad in February, the first such visit by a top Saudi official since 1991.
After former dictator Saddam Hussein’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Riyadh severed relations with Baghdad and closed its border posts with its northern neighbor.
Ties remained strained even after Saddam’s ouster in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, since when successive Shiite-dominated governments in Baghdad have stayed close to Tehran.
Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with Saudi Arabia as both countries suffer from a protracted oil slump. Saudi Arabia is also seeking to counter Iranian influence in Iraq.
Abadi’s visit coincides with Saudi Energy Minister Khaled Al-Falih’s high profile visit to Baghdad where he called for the strengthening of economic relations to boost oil prices.
(With AFP)

Main category: 
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Iraqi sanctions will not punish Kurdish people, says Al-Abadi

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Weekly Fundamentals – Geopolitics and Fall in US Rigs Sustained Oil’s Rally

October 22, 2017 Oil N' Gold 0

Driven by geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and helped by further decline in US inventory and oil rig counts, oil prices clung onto gains last week. Both crude oil benchmarks rallied to the highest levels in the middle of the week but then retre…

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5 former presidents appear together for hurricane relief

October 22, 2017 rbksa 0
Author: 
The Associated Press
Sun, 2017-10-22 03:00
ID: 
1508635058926422900

AUSTIN, Texas: The five living former presidents appeared together for the first time since 2013 on Saturday at a concert to raise money for victims of devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and Republicans George H.W. and George W. Bush gathered on stage in College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, putting aside politics to try to unite the country after the storms.
Texas A&M is home to the presidential library of the elder Bush. At 93, he has a form of Parkinson’s disease and appeared in a wheelchair at the event. His wife Barbara and George W. Bush’s wife Laura Bush were in the audience.
The concert features the country music band Alabama, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer ‘Soul Man’ Sam Moore, gospel legend Yolanda Adams and Texas musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.
The appeal backed by the ex-presidents has raised $31 million since it began on Sept. 7, said Jim McGrath, spokesman for George H.W. Bush.
Earlier on Saturday, President Donald Trump recorded a video greeting that avoids his past criticism of the former presidents and called them “some of America’s finest public servants.”
“This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and devotion to one another,” Trump said in the message.
The last time the five were together was in 2013, when Obama was still in office, at the dedication of George W. Bush’s presidential library in Dallas.
There is precedent for former presidents joining forces for post-disaster fundraising. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton raised money together after the 2004 South Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina the next year. Clinton and George W. Bush combined to seek donations after Haiti’s 2011 earthquake.
“It’s certainly a triple, if not a home run, every time,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “Presidents have the most powerful and prolific fundraising base of any politician in the world. When they send out a call for help, especially on something that’s not political, they can rake in big money.”
Amid criticism that his administration was initially slow to aid storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, Trump accused island leaders of “poor leadership,” and later tweeted that, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes” while saying that Federal Emergency Management Agency, first-responders and military personnel wouldn’t be able to stay there forever.
But Rottinghaus said those attending Saturday’s concert were always going to be viewed more favorably since polling consistently shows that “any ex-president is seen as less polarizing than the current president.”
“They can’t get away from the politics of the moment,” he said of current White House occupants. “Ex-presidents are able to step back and be seen as the nation’s grandfather.”
Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas’ Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 25, eventually unleashing historic flooding in Houston and killing more than 80 people. Shortly thereafter, all five ex-presidents appeared in a commercial for a fundraising effort known as “One America Appeal.” In it, George W. Bush says, “People are hurting down here.” His father, George H.W. Bush, then replies, “We love you, Texas.”
A website accepting donations, OneAmericaAppeal.org, was created with 100 percent of proceeds pledged to hurricane relief.
Hurricane Irma subsequently hit Florida and Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, while both affected the US Virgin Islands.

Main category: 
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Hurricane Nate makes landfall at mouth of Mississippi River
Google to use balloons to provide hurricane-hit Puerto Rico cellular service

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(22 OCTOBER 2017)The week ahead: Eyes on central bank policies

October 22, 2017 MQL5: Traders' Blogs 0

The wait is (likely) over: on Thursday the European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to announce the tapering of its asset purchases.
CIO expects it to reduce monthly purchase volumes to EUR 30bn from next January to September, and then keep its balance …

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(22 OCTOBER 2017)Thought of the week: What is a bubble?

October 22, 2017 MQL5: Traders' Blogs 0

In financial terms the word “bubble” is like the word “recession”; often used, but lacking a proper definition.
A bubble is more than a market trading above fundamental value. Fundamental models are rarely very precise. Prices above fundamental value a…

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Xi’s Roadmap To The Chinese Dream

October 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

China’s Belt and Road Initiative – the New Silk Road – will spark the country’s development and turn the dream into reality…

It all starts with Hong Kong as a major BRI financing hub.

Now that President Xi Jinping has been duly elevated to the Chinese Communist Party pantheon in the rarified company of Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory, the world will have plenty of time to digest the meaning of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.”

Xi himself, in his 3½-hour speech at the start of the 19th Party Congress, pointed to a rather simplified “socialist democracy” – extolling its virtues as the only counter-model to Western liberal democracy. Economically, the debate remains open on whether this walks and talks more like “neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics”.

All the milestones for China in the immediate future have been set.

  • “Moderately prosperous society” by 2020.
  • Basically modernized nation by 2035.
  • Rich and powerful socialist nation by 2050.

Xi himself, since 2013, has encapsulated the process in one mantra; the “Chinese dream”. The dream must become reality in a little over three decades. The inexorable modernization drive unleashed by Deng’s reforms has lasted a little less than four decades. Recent history tell us there’s no reason to believe phase 2 of this seismic Sino-Renaissance won’t be fulfilled.

Xi emphasized, “the dreams of the Chinese people and those of other peoples around the world are closely linked. The realization of the Chinese dream will not be possible without a peaceful international environment and a stable international order.”

He mentioned only briefly the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as having “created a favorable environment for the country’s overall development”. He didn’t dwell on BRI’s ambition and extraordinary scope, as he does in every major international summit as well as in Davos earlier this year.

But still it was implicit that to arrive at what Xi defines as a “community of common destiny for mankind”, BRI is China’s ultimate tool. BRI, a geopolitical/geoeconomic game-changer, is in fact Xi’s – and China’s – organizing foreign policy concept and driver up to 2050.

Xi has clearly understood that global leadership implies being a top provider, mostly to the global South, of connectivity, infrastructure financing, comprehensive technical assistance, construction hardware and myriad other trappings of “modernization”.

It does not hurt that this trade/commerce/investment onslaught helps to internationalize the yuan.

It’s easy to forget that BRI, an unparalleled multinational connectivity drive set to economically link all points Asia to Europe and Africa, was announced only three years ago, in Astana (Central Asia) and Jakarta (Southeast Asia).

What was originally known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road were endorsed by the Third Plenum of the 18th CCP Central Committee in November 2013. Only after the release of an official document, “Visions and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Roads”, in March 2015, the whole project was finally named BRI.

According to the official Chinese timeline, we’re only at the start of phase 2. Phase 1, from 2013 to 2016, was “mobilization”. “Planning”, from 2016 to 2021, is barely on (and that explains why few major projects are online). “Implementation” is supposed to start in 2021, one year before Xi’s new term expires, and go all the way to 2049.

The horizon thus is 2050, coinciding with Xi’s “rich and powerful socialist nation” dream. There’s simply no other comprehensive, inclusive, far-reaching, financially solid development program on the global market. Certainly not India’s Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC).

Have BRI, will travel

It starts with Hong Kong. When Xi said, “We will continue to support Hong Kong and Macau in integrating their own development into the overall development of the country”, he meant Hong Kong configured as a major BRI financing hub – its new role after a recent past of business facilitator between China and the West.

Hong Kong’s got what it takes; convertible currency; total capital mobility; rule of law; no tax on interest, dividends and capital gains; total access to China’s capital market/savings; and last but not least, Beijing’s support.

Enter the dream of myriad financing packages (public-private; equity-debt; short-long term bonds). Hong Kong’s BRI role will be of the Total Package international financial center (venture capital; private equity; flotation of stocks and bonds; investment banking; mergers and acquisitions; reinsurance) interlinked with the Greater Bay Area – the 11 cities (including Guangzhou and Shenzhen) of the Pearl River Delta (light/heavy manufacturing; hi-tech venture capitalists, start-ups, investors; top research universities).

That ties up with Xi’s emphasis on innovation; “We will strengthen basic research in applied sciences, launch major national science and technology projects, and prioritize innovation in key generic technologies, cutting-edge frontier technologies, modern engineering technologies, and disruptive technologies.”

The integration of the Greater Bay Area is bound to inspire, fuel, and in some cases even mould some of BRI’s key projects. The Eurasian Land Bridge from Xinjiang to Western Russia (China and Kazakhstan are actively turbo-charging their joint free trade zone at Khorgos). The China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. The connection of the Central Asian “stans” to West Asia – Iran and Turkey. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) from Xinjiang all the way to Gwadar in the Arabian Sea – capable of sparking an “economic revolution” according to Islamabad. The China-Indochina corridor from Kunming to Singapore. The Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor (assuming India does not boycott it). The Maritime Silk Road from coastal southeast China all the way to the Mediterranean, from Piraeus to Venice.

Yiwu-London freight trains, Shanghai-Tehran freight trains, the Turkmenistan to Xinjiang gas pipeline – these are all facts on the ground. Along the way, the technologies and tools of infrastructure connectivity – applied to high-speed rail networks, power plants, solar farms, motorways, bridges, ports, pipelines – will be closely linked with financing by the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the security-economic cooperation imperatives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to build the new Eurasia from Shanghai to Rotterdam. Or, to evoke Vladimir Putin’s original vision, even before BRI was launched, “from Lisbon to Vladivostok”.

Xi did not spell it out, but Beijing will do everything to stay as independent as possible from the Western Central Bank system, with the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) to be avoided in as many trade deals as possible to the benefit of yuan-based transactions or outright barter. The petrodollar will be increasingly bypassed (it’s already happening between China and Iran, and Beijing sooner rather than later will demand it from Saudi Arabia.)

The end result, by 2050, will be, barring inevitable, complex glitches, an integrated market of 4.5 billion people mostly using local currencies for bilateral and multilateral trade, or a basket of currencies (yuan-ruble-rial-yen-rupee).

Xi has laid China’s cards – as well as the road map – on the table. As far as the Chinese Dream is concerned, it’s now clear; Have BRI, Will Travel.

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Forget ISIS, “Government Corruption” Tops Americans’ Biggest Fears

October 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

As Americans gear up to celebrate Halloween at the end of October, a recent survey has revealed the fears that really keep people up at night.

The Chapman University Survey of American Fears polled 1,207 U.S. adults on their levels of fear across 80 different categories.

As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, like last year, corruption of government officials came top in 2017, with 74.5 percent of U.S. adults saying it makes them “afraid” or “very afraid”.

Infographic: Americans' Top Fears Of 2017  | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

The unrest and uncertainty of Donald Trump’s presidency has had a significant influence on this year’s ranking.

With the U.S. health system still engulfed by chaos, 55.3 percent of respondents are fearful of the American Healthcare Act/Trumpcare. The president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords has also had an impact with 48 percent afraid of global warming and climate change and 44.9 percent fearful of air pollution.

The threat of war between the U.S. and North Korea is also starting to touch a nerve. 48.4 percent of Americans fear U.S. involvement in another world war while 47.5 percent are afraid the regime in Pyongyang will use nuclear weapons.

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Mauldin: “Investors Ignore What May Be The Biggest Policy Error In History”

October 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Submitted by John Mauldin

My good friend Peter Boockvar recently shared a chart with me. The University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers have been tracking consumers and their expectations about the direction of the stock market over the next year. We are now at an all-time high in the expectation that the stock market will go up.

The Market Ignores Monetary Uncertainty

It is simply mind-boggling to couple that chart with the chart of the VIX shorts (I wrote about the VIX craze in this this issue of Thoughts from the Frontline).

Peter writes:

Bullish stock market sentiment has gotten extreme again, according to Investors Intelligence. Bulls rose 2.9 pts to 60.4 after being below 50 one month ago. Bears sunk to just 15.1 from 17 last week. That’s the least amount since May 2015. The spread between the two is the most since March, and II said, “The bull count reenters the ‘danger zone’ at 60% and higher. That calls for defensive measures.” What we’ve seen this year the last few times bulls got to 60+ was a period of stall and consolidation. When the bull/bear spread last peaked in March, stocks chopped around for 2 months. Stocks then resumed its rally when bulls got back around 50. Expect another repeat.

Only a few weeks ago the CNN Fear & Greed Index topped out at 98. It has since retreated from such extreme greed levels to merely high measures of greed. Understand, the CNN index is not a sentiment index; it uses seven market indicators that show how investors are actually investing. I actually find it quite useful to look at every now and then.

The chart below, which Doug Kass found on Zero Hedge, pretty much says it all. Economic policy uncertainty is at an all-time high, yet uncertainty about the future of the markets is at an all-time low.

Why This Is Happening Now

At the end of his email blitz, which had loaded me up on data, Dougie sent me this summary:

  • At the root of my concern is that the Bull Market in Complacency has been stimulated by:
  • the excess liquidity provided by the world’s central bankers,
  • serving up a virtuous cycle of fund inflows into ever more popular ETFs (passive investors) that buy not when stocks are cheap but when inflows are readily flowing,
  • the dominance of risk parity and volatility trending, who worship at the altar of price momentum brought on by those ETFs (and are also agnostic to “value,” balance sheets,” income statements),
  • the reduced role of active investors like hedge funds – the slack is picked up by ETFs and Quant strategies,
  • creating an almost systemic “buy the dip” mentality and conditioning.
  • when coupled with precarious positioning by speculators and market participants:
  • who have profited from shorting volatility and have gotten so one-sided (by shorting VIX and VXX futures) that any quick market sell off will likely be exacerbated, much like portfolio insurance’s role in a previous large drawdown,
  • which in turn will force leveraged risk parity portfolios to de-risk (and reducing the chance of fast turn back up in the markets),
  • and could lead to an end of the virtuous cycle – if ETFs start to sell, who is left to buy?

On the Brink of the Largest Policy Error

The chart above, which shows the growing uncertainty over the future direction of monetary policy, is both terrifying and enlightening. The Federal Reserve, and indeed the ECB and the Bank of Japan, went to great lengths to assure us that the massive amounts of QE that they pushed into the market would help turn the markets and the economy around.

Now they are telling us that as they take that money back off the table, they will have no effect on the markets. And all the data that I just presented above tells us that investors are simply shrugging their shoulders at what is roughly called “quantitative tightening,” or QT.

I simply don’t buy the notion that QE could have had such an effect on the markets and housing prices while QT will have no impact at all.

In the 1930s, the Federal Reserve grew its balance sheet significantly. Then they simply left it alone, the economy grew, and the balance sheet became a nonfactor in the following decades. I don’t know why today’s Fed couldn’t do the same thing.

There really is no inflation to speak of, except asset price inflation, and nobody really worries about that. We all want our stocks and home prices to go up, so there’s no real reason for the central bank to lean against inflationary fears; and raising rates and doing QT at the same time seems to me to be taking a little more risk than necessary.

And they’re doing it in the midst of the greatest bull market in complacency to emerge in my lifetime.

Do they think that taking literally trillions of dollars off their balance sheet over the next few years is not going to have a reverse effect on asset prices? Or at least some effect? Is it really worth the risk? Remember the TV show Hill Street Blues? Sergeant Phil Esterhaus would end his daily briefing, as he sent the policemen out on their patrols, with the words, “Let’s be careful out there.”

* * *

Sharp macroeconomic analysis, big market calls, and shrewd predictions are all in a week’s work for visionary thinker and acclaimed financial expert John Mauldin. Since 2001, investors have turned to his Thoughts from the Frontline to be informed about what’s really going on in the economy. Join hundreds of thousands of readers, and get it free in your inbox every week.

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