Europe

Riot-Inspired Purchases During The Ferguson And 2011 England Unrest

It’s interesting- at least, for me- to see what sort of gear, supplies, and tools are being acquired while the protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, for another night. Yesterday, Kerry Picket reported on Breitbart.com:

The use of tear gas by Missouri law enforcement has caused a run on gas masks in the St. Louis area. Local residents, reporters, and video production crews are making last minute calls to places like Uncle Sam’s military surplus only to find out that gas masks, gas mask filters, and bullet proof vests are all sold out

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Picket added later in the piece that ear plugs, “bullet proof chest plates” for vests, and tactical vests are in demand as well.

The civil unrest looks to be spurring sales of certain personal safety products on Amazon.com as well. Charlie Spiering reported on the Breitbart website this morning:

As protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, gas mask sales are skyrocketing at Amazon.com. Sales of the online retailer’s most popular gas mask model have risen 434 percent in the past 24 hours…

Another popular gas mask sold on Amazon, the Israeli Civilian Gas Mask, has rocketed up the sales charts by 250 percent…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As I type this, that “most popular gas mask model”- the NBC 40mm NATO SGE 400/3 Anti-Riot Military Gas Mask Made In The USA- is running low (only 16 units left in stock), while sales are still up 63 percent over the past 24 hours.

As for the other popular gas mask- the Israeli Civilian Gas Mask with NBC NATO Filter and Drinking Hydration Tube- that’s also still up 58 percent.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Civilian Gas Mask w/ Nato Filter (no drinking hydration tube) has jumped ahead of the other two, racking up a 128 percent increase in sales over the past day last time I looked.

Compare all this to what the English were buying during their 2011 bout with civil strife. I blogged back on August 12, 2011:

Apparently, pots, pans, and rubber hoses just aren’t cutting it for some Brits on the front lines of the rioting and looting. Reuters’ Rosalba O’Brien reported yesterday:

Sales of baseball bats and batons have shot up more than 5,000 percent in the last 24 hours on Amazon’s British website, as London suffered its worst violent unrest in decades.

Seven of the top 10 ‘movers and shakers’ in Amazon’s sports and leisure list were baseball bats of various kinds, their sales since Monday rising between 1,756 percent and 5,149 percent.

A “military police telescopic baton”, described by the manufacturer as useful for “effective self-defence with extra reach”, was the 110th best selling item among Amazon’s sports and leisure customers, up from a ranking of 5,622 just 24 hours ago. Actual sale number of the items are not given.

A look at the Amazon UK site right now shows that the top “mover and shaker” in the “Sports & Leisure” category is a folding shovel by Gelert. This forged steel shovel has a serrated edge for sawing- or for seriously ruining the day of some threatening rioter/looter.

In the past twenty-four hours, the sales rank of this folding shovel has skyrocketed 283,300 percent from 2,834 to number one in the sports and leisure category.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

283,300 percent? While this Gelert folding shovel is still available on the Amazon UK site, I couldn’t find it on the U.S. counterpart. The closest folding shovel I saw on our Amazon looked to be the Wenzel Tri-Fold Shovel- although Amazon customers are raving about the similar-in-function US Military Original Issue E-Tool Entrenching Shovel.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Picket, Kerry. “Run On Gas Masks In Ferguson.” Breitbart.com. 18 Aug.2014. (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/08/18/Run-On-Gas-Masks-In-Ferguson). 19 Aug. 2014.

Spiering, Charlie. “Popular Gas Mask Sales Up 434 Percent On Amazon.” Breitbart.com. 19 Aug. 2014. (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/08/19/Popular-Gas-Mask-Sales-Up-434-Percent-On-Amazon). 19 Aug. 2014.

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Peter Schiff Bullish On Foreign Stocks, Gold, And Silver

Euro Pacific Capital CEO/Chief Global Strategist Peter Schiff appeared on the FOX Business show Countdown to the Closing Bell last Wednesday. Host Liz Claman asked Schiff, who correctly-predicted the housing market crash and 2008 economic crisis, about where he was investing these days. He replied:

Well, my strategy has been the same for quite some time because I understand the problems that underlie the U.S. economy, how the Federal Reserve is exacerbating them in the name of trying to solve them, and so I want to invest abroad. We still favor equities, but I look at international equities. I look at value. I look at good dividends. And I want to own companies that are not dependent on the consumer…

A map was subsequently displayed that showed “Peter’s Global Area Picks”- Australia, Chile, China, Denmark, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Singapore, and Sweden.

Claman also brought up precious metals in the discussion. Particularly, silver. From their exchange:

CLAMAN: Let’s put up the miners, because you feel that the miners now have an opportunity to really rise. Silver below $20 an ounce these days. That seems to me like a good buy because it’s so cheap.
SCHIFF: Well, it did get as high as $50 a couple of years ago. But it started the rally from below $4. So, we’re in a big bull market. We’ve been pausing for the last couple of years. But I think it’s the pause that’s going to refresh. I think what drove the metals market lower in 2013 was the false belief in a U.S. recovery, and the idea the Fed was through with QE, and that we were on the verge of a tightening cycle. None of that is true. We are slipping back into recession. Janet Yellen is going to launch an even bigger round of QE than what Bernanke launched. And this is going to be very bullish for gold and silver. But it’s not going to be bullish for the U.S. economy.


“Safeguarding Your Portfolio By Investing Abroad”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Profitable Assets, Professions In Germany’s Hyperinflation Of The 1920s

Since I started being concerned back in 2004 about the prospect of a U.S. financial crash, I’ve been interested in reading about the everyday lives of the people who lived through economic collapses.

Why? Because I believe there are valuable lessons to be learned for what I think is coming down the road for us here in America.

I haven’t really come across any good Great Depression accounts yet (if you know of one- shoot me over a suggestion). But the other night, I happened to stumble upon a rather lengthy article on the website of Der Spiegel (Germany) that provided a great deal of insight of what went on in Germany during their devastating bout with hyperinflation in the 1920s. Alexander Jung even went so far as to identify the financial “winners” and “losers” during that period of time. Jung wrote back on August 14, 2009:

The only objects of real value were tangible assets: diamonds and coins, antiques, pianos and art. The works of contemporary artists like Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee, Max Pechstein and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff were in especially high demand. And if you had foreign currency, you lived like a king

The stupid ones were those who had nest eggs: the thrifty, holders of government bonds, but primarily the country’s pensioners. In other words, those who received money without having to work for it, who lived on their pensions or the interest on their savings. Large sections of the middle classes saw themselves stripped of their assets, losing almost everything they had set aside for years. Banks, savings banks, and insurance companies suffered huge losses and were left with nothing but their paper money. As a result, they had to start the majority of their businesses from scratch in 1924.

By perverse contrast, the winners of the hyperinflation were those with massive debts; first and foremost the state, but also private individuals who had borrowed money to buy houses, construction land or farmland, and whose loans were slashed by the switch to the rentenmark.

Some industrialists made huge gains from the period of hyperinflation. Hugo Stinnes, whom Time magazine crowned “Germany’s new Kaiser,” built up an immense corporate empire comprising heavy industry, newspapers, ships and hotels — all based on a mountain of debt. As late as the summer of 1922, Stinnes was recommending that people continue capitalizing on “the weapon of inflation.” Indeed manufacturers and craftsmen in general profited from the crisis since they possessed plants and buildings — that is, tangible assets that outlived the currency switch.

Most farmers also did extremely well. “They had money to burn, and spent it willy-nilly,” writer Lion Feuchtwanger recalled. Some bought themselves entire stables of racehorses, others expensive cars. “Farmer Greindlberger drove from the grimy village street of Englschalking to Munich in an elegant limousine complete with a liveried chauffeur, while he himself was dressed in a brown velvet jacket and a green chamois-tufted hat,” Feuchtwanger wrote of the rural rich…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That last bit about farmers buying expensive cars reminds me of what “crash prophet” Jim Rogers has been telling anyone who will listen:

The farmers are going to be driving Lamborghinis and Maseratis.

Anyway, the quote doesn’t do the piece justice. I recommend you read the entire article on the Der Spiegel site here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Increased Screening Of U.S.-Bound Airline Passengers Over Terrorism Fear

I understand U.S.-bound airline passengers from some airports in Europe and the Middle East will now be subject to tougher security screening. From U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson in a press release posted today on the DHS website:

DHS continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security. As part of this ongoing process, I have directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States. We will work to ensure these necessary steps pose as few disruptions to travelers as possible…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So what’s the reason for the additional screening at overseas airports? Mike Levine and Pierre Thomas reported on the ABC News website this morning:

Earlier this year, U.S. officials learned that associates of the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria – the Al Nusrah Front – and radicals from other groups were teaming up with elements of the Yemen-based group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which built such innovative devices as the “underwear bomb” that ultimately failed to detonate in a plane over Detroit Christmas Day 2009.

Bolstered by more recent intelligence, U.S. analysts believe the “subset” of extreme terrorists in Syria could be looking to down a U.S.- or European-bound plane, with help from one of the thousands of Americans and other foreign fighters carrying U.S. and European passports who have joined Al Nusrah Front and other groups in the region.

While intelligence obtained by the U.S. government has not indicated a specific target or a specific timeline, one source called the threat “different and more disturbing than past aviation plots.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Back on December 2, 2013, I blogged that American and European Union passport-holding jihadists fighting in Syria were being scrutinized by the federal government as potential terrorists.

You can read that entire press release on the DHS website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Levine, Mike and Thomas, Pierre. “Airport Security Directives Likely Amid Syria Bomb Threat.” ABC News. 2 July 2014. (http://abcnews.go.com/International/airport-security-directives-stem-syria-bomb-threat/story?id=24391883). 2 July 2014.

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Eric Holder: Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee Created To Combat ‘Homegrown’ Terrorists

Occasionally when I hear/see the word “Committee” used in reference to an ad hoc, high-level governmental entity, my thoughts drift to another time and place I’ve read about in the history books.

1793 France. And the Comité De Salut Public (Committee of Public Safety)

From the Encyclopaedia Brtiannica website:

The Committee of Public Safety was set up on April 6, 1793, during one of the crises of the Revolution, when France was beset by foreign and civil war. The new committee was to provide for the defense of the nation against its enemies, foreign and domestic…

I heard this morning that a mothballed committee at the federal level has just been resurrected. Timothy Phelps reported on the Los Angeles Times website yesterday morning:

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder, Jr. on Monday announced the creation of a task force within the Justice Department to combat an “escalating danger” from “homegrown” terrorists within the United States.

The task force will chiefly comprise leaders from the FBI, the Justice Department’s National Security Division and U.S. Attorneys. Called the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, it is a recreation of a task force formed by former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The task force fell into disuse after 9/11.

Though the original task force, which was little known, focused mainly on right-wing zealots, Holder’s version is aimed at U.S. citizens or visitors radicalized via the Internet

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

While I don’t dispute the threat posed by “homegrown” terrorists to public safety and the need for the federal government to keep on top of this matter, I also fear the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee could eventually go the way of the Committee of Public Safety, which under Maximilien François Marie Isidore Robespierre spearheaded the ensuing Reign of Terror in France.

Already there’s chatter across the Internet of DTEC being used against the “enemies” of the Obama administration.

Mikael Thalen wrote on Infowars.com earlier today:

In reality, Holder’s task force will undoubtedly focus on the Obama administration’s political enemies, mainly returning military veterans, conservatives and those who identify with the Tea Party. Such groups have been increasingly linked to terrorism by multiple federal agencies…

Undoubtedly? Let’s hope the targeting of political “enemies” isn’t the real intention behind resurrecting and giving life to DTEC.

All I know is this. If that Nevada rancher- Cliven Bundy- and others like him get designated “homegrown terrorists” in the coming days/weeks/months, I’ll get suspicious as to the real motives of the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee.

In the meantime, I’ll give the Committee the benefit of the doubt regarding their stated mission.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Phelps, Timothy M. “Holder announces task force on ‘homegrown’ terrorists.” Los Angeles Times. 2 Jun. 2014. (http://www.latimes.com/la-na-nn-holder-terrorism-task-force-20140601-story.html). 3 Jun. 2014.

Thalen, Mikael. “ Holder to Create ‘Homegrown’ Terrorism Task Force.” Infowars. 3 Jun. 2014. (http://www.infowars.com/holder-to-create-homegrown-terrorism-task-force/). 3 Jun. 2014.

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Sino-Russian Natural Gas Deal Blow To U.S. Dollar Supremacy?

“The Obama administration is playing down an increasingly warm relationship between its main global rivals, China and Russia, that it may have inadvertently encouraged.

U.S. officials maintain there is nothing to fear from the growing alliance between Moscow and Beijing, even as each throws its weight around in neighboring regions like Ukraine and the South China Sea and at international forums like the United Nations, where on Thursday they double-vetoed the latest in a series of Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Yet when coupled with growing cooperation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in other areas- notably, a new $400 billion natural gas deal and apparent agreement on the crisis in Ukraine- many believe Russia and China may now or may soon represent a powerful new alliance challenging not only the United States, but also the Western democratic tradition that the U.S. has championed globally…”

-Associated Press, May 23, 2014

You may have heard about that $400 billion natural gas deal that was just struck between China and Russia. Or maybe you didn’t, as I’ve noticed the mainstream media hasn’t really been talking about it too much. Most of the outlets that did neglected to talk about the potential ramifications for the U.S. dollar.

There were exceptions. From the BBC News website on May 22:

Some papers are also analysing the impact of the deal on the world currency market.

A commentary in the Beijing Youth Daily says the deal will probably encourage more countries to not trade in US dollars if China and Russia decide to switch to clearing payments in Russian roubles and the yuan.

“The world economy and finance will then embark on a process to get rid of the US dollar, and the dominance of the dollar will gradually lose its support. The US will then face more challenges in its ability to control global economics and politics,” it says…

From Liam Halligan on The Telegraph (UK) website yesterday:

The real danger, in my view, is rather more abstract — but deadly important nevertheless. If Russia’s “pivot to Asia” results in Moscow and Beijing trading oil between them in a currency other than the dollar, that will represent a major change in how the global economy operates and a marked loss of power for the US and its allies.

With the dollar as the world’s petrocurrency, it also remains the reserve currency of choice for central banks globally. As such, the US is currently able to borrow with “exorbitant privilege”, as it has for decades, simply printing money to pay off foreign creditors.

With China now the world’s biggest oil importer and the US increasingly stressing domestic production, the days of dollar-priced energy, and therefore dollar-dominance, look numbered. Beijing has recently struck numerous agreements with major trading partners such as Brazil that bypass the dollar. Moscow and Beijing have also set up rouble-yuan swap facilities that push the greenback out of the picture.

If Russia and China now decide to drop dollar energy pricing totally, America’s reserve currency status could unravel fast, seriously undermining the US Treasury market and causing a world of pain for the West. This won’t happen tomorrow or next year. It’s unlikely even by 2020. But by announcing this deal, Russia and China turned the screw half a twist more…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Then there’s this from Max Keiser, an American filmmaker and host of the Keiser Report, a financial show on RT. From The Washington Times website earlier today:

He said the $400 billion, 30-year deal will further the strategic goals of Moscow and Beijing to diminish the status of the U.S. dollar by conducting world trade in critical commodities such as oil and gas using other currencies.

Russia is the world’s biggest producer of commodities such as crude oil, gold and titanium. China is the world’s biggest consumer of these commodities.

Both countries have chafed for years at having to conduct purchases and sales in dollars, as is customary worldwide. The gas deal announced in Beijing on Wednesday would be the first major commodities contract to be settled in Russian rubles and Chinese yuan rather than dollars.

“This means the U.S. dollar’s days as the world reserve currency are numbered,” said Mr. Keiser, noting that Russia and China have been investing heavily in gold.

Many analysts question whether Moscow and Beijing can succeed in displacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. If that happens, however, it likely would usher in a period of global financial instability and force Americans to pay much more for the massive amounts of imported energy, Mr. Keiser said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit- the research and analysis division of The Economist Group, the sister company to The Economist newspaper- on May 22, it has been reported payments for the gas will be made in Chinese yuan rather than U.S. dollars.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“China media: Russia gas deal.” BBC News. 22 May 2014. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-27514395). 25 May 2014.

Halligan, Liam. “Russia-China gas deal could ignite a shift in global trading.” The Telegraph. 24 May. 2014. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/liamhalligan/10854595/Russia-China-gas-deal-could-ignite-a-shift-in-global-trading.html). 25 May 2014.

Hill, Patrice. “Russia’s Putin gains strategic victory with Chinese natural gas deal.” The Washington Times. 25 May 2014. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/25/russias-putin-gains-strategic-victory-with-chinese/). 25 My 2014.

“The Sino-Russian gas deal.” Economist Intelligence Unit. 22 May 2014. (http://www.eiu.com/industry/article/431836627/the-sino-russian-gas-deal/2014-05-22) 25 May 2014.

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Al-Qaeda Poised To Strike U.S.?

“Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al-Qaeda has been decimated…”

-U.S. President Barack Obama, while campaigning in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on November 1, 2012

Not only is Al-Qaeda alive and well according to some former Pentagon officials and counter-terrorism analysts who just appeared before Congress, but there’s even chatter of the Muslim extremists possibly striking the “homeland” not too far off in the distance. Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent, reported on the TV news station’s website Wednesday:

A series of al Qaeda-based threats to attack American and Western targets in Europe, as well as threats to launch attacks inside the United States, has caused significant concern inside the U.S. intelligence community, CNN has learned…

U.S. officials as well as analysts have long said they believe al Qaeda is focused on attacking outside the United States because of the difficulty in penetrating U.S. homeland security. But these latest threat streams suggest domestic U.S. targets also continue to be looked at by al Qaeda.

Worry No. 1: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

One of the biggest concerns right now remains efforts by Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack inside Yemen, in Europe and inside the United States

While it’s believed AQAP is mainly focused on targeting inside of Yemen, officials say an attempt to attack inside the United States or to recruit others to carry out such an attack cannot be ruled out.

Worry No. 2: Core group in Pakistan

Separately, still another official confirms to CNN that the core al Qaeda group in Pakistan is also seeking to place operatives in places to attack U.S. targets overseas and domestically

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

On the topic of “core” Al-Qaeda, Rob Crilly reported on the website of The Telegraph (UK) Wednesday:

Al-Qaeda is not a spent force in Afghanistan and is using a shadow army to hide its true strength, according to testimony presented by former Pentagon officials and counter-terrorism analysts to a US Congressional committee.

Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said Osama bin Laden’s heirs had successfully hidden their strength as they spread their influence throughout the Middle East.

As a result, Afghanistan risks becoming a terrorist haven once again when Nato-led combat troops leave the country this year.

His evidence contradicts repeated claims that the movement had been “decimated” – particularly in Afghanistan – and Barack Obama’s public assessment earlier this year that its current leaders were junior varsity basketball players dressed up as superstars of the NBA after replacing senior commanders killed in drone strikes or other actions.

“Part of the reason these assessments have been flawed is that al-Qaeda has a ‘deep bench’ to draw from, both from within its own organisation and allied groups,” said Mr Joscelyn, pointing out the secrecy of the movement’s structure and personnel.

“Al-Qaeda is constantly in the process of recruiting new talent as well.”

Other witnesses gave similar evidence to the House of Representatives subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade on Tuesday.

David Sedney, former deputy assistant defence secretary, said focusing on the core al-Qaeda leadership missed the bigger strategic picture, which showed the group as decentralised.

“My view is that al-Qaeda, despite our tactical counter-terrorism successes, continues to be a major strategic threat to the United States and its allies,” he said. “Tomorrow, al-Qaeda will be an even greater threat because of its ongoing evolutions.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

One of these days, I’m convinced Al-Qaeda, an affiliate, or sympathizer(s) is going to launch another attack inside the United States.

It would be a real shame if the U.S. counter-terrorism apparatus underestimates the threat posed by present-day Al-Qaeda.

To think of this jihadist movement as “decimated” may be committing a huge strategic blunder that could come back to haunt America down the road.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Starr, Barbara. “Stream of al Qaeda threats has U.S. intelligence concerned.” CNN.com. 21 May 2014. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/20/us/al-qaeda-threats-intelligence/). 23 May 2014.

Crilly, Rob. “Al-Qaeda ‘not defeated’ in Afghanistan.” The Telegraph. 21 May 2014. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/10846151/Al-Qaeda-not-defeated-in-Afghanistan.html). 23 May 2014.

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What Jim Rogers Is Buying In China, Russia These Days

Investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers recently appeared on the Yahoo! Finance show The Daily Ticker. Host Lauren Lyster asked the former investing partner of George Soros about China and Russia. Rogers shared the following with viewers in a segment published yesterday:

Chinese Stocks

I am not buying much in China. I am buying a little bit. They still have a big debt problem, which worries me a lot. But, I have started buying because they had a big conference in November where they said, “This is what we’re going to spend our money on in the next twenty years.” Now, Ms. Lyster- they’ve got more money than I do. And they’re smarter than I am. And if they’re going to put a lot of money into some sectors of the Chinese economy, I am too. And, they said we’re going to open up the economy more and more- especially in finance. So I started putting a little more into financial companies. And more important, they said, “When there’s a situation where we’re not quite sure what to do, we’re going to let the market decide- such as health care….”

So, I’m finding optimism. I haven’t bought shares since 2008- November of 2008. But I’m starting to buy in a small way again.

Russian Stocks

I did buy during Crimea. I woke up and said, “I’ve got to do something now because this is really collapsing.” So I bought more when they marched into Crimea or whatever it was they did. But no- I’m looking right now. But if I weren’t talking to you, I’d probably be buying more.

Russian Ruble

I’m not buying the ruble so much naked. Not naked. But, I might. I might. You’re supposed to buy when there’s blood in the streets… Russia- there’s blood in the streets. Figuratively.


“Jim Rogers: Forget U.S. markets, I’m buying Chinese and Russian stocks”
Yahoo! Finance Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Russia To Attack Petrodollar?

Here’s another story that’s not getting much attention this week:

Russia threatening to replace U.S. dollar-denominated transactions for their exports

Gleb Stolyarov reported on Reuters.com this morning:

Russia, keen to dodge threatened Western sanctions on its companies over the Ukraine crisis, said on Wednesday it was looking at ways for major state-owned exporters such as energy giants to be paid in roubles.

The idea of major exporters being paid in roubles rather than dollars has been gaining ground in recent weeks in response to sanctions imposed by the West on officials and companies over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and an uprising in Ukraine’s east.

“There are certain risks, but we are preparing a mechanism, we are working on it,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters during a visit to Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So exports would be paid for in rubles rather than dollars. So what?

Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog highlighted what could be at stake. Snyder wrote yesterday:

This would essentially be like slamming an economic fist into our nose.

You see, Russia is not just a small player when it comes to trading oil and natural gas. The truth is that Russia is the largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest exporter of oil in the world.

If Russia starts asking for payment in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, that will essentially end the monopoly of the petrodollar

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Snyder continued:

So why is the petrodollar so important?

Well, it creates a tremendous amount of demand for the U.S. dollar all over the globe. Since everyone has needed it to trade with one another, that has created an endless global appetite for the currency. That has kept the value of the dollar artificially high, and it has enabled us to import trillions of dollars of super cheap products from other countries. If other nations stopped using the dollar to trade with one another, the value of the dollar would plummet dramatically and we would have to pay much, much more for the trinkets that we buy at the dollar store and Wal-Mart.

In addition, since the U.S. dollar is essentially the de facto global currency, this has also increased demand for our debt. Major exporting nations such as China and Saudi Arabia end up with giant piles of our dollars. Instead of just letting them sit there and do nothing, those nations often reinvest their dollars into securities that can rapidly be changed back into dollars if needed. One of the most popular ways to do this has been to invest those dollars in U.S. Treasuries. This has driven down interest rates on U.S. debt over the years and has enabled the U.S. government to borrow trillions upon trillions of dollars for next to nothing…

So if Russia really does pull the trigger on a “de-dollarization” strategy, that would be huge – especially if the rest of the planet started following their lead…

So would the rest of the planet follow Russia’s lead? Consider the following from the website for The Voice of Russia, the Russian government’s international radio broadcasting service. Valentin Mândrăşescu reported yesterday:

Of course, the success of Moscow’s campaign to switch its trading to rubles or other regional currencies will depend on the willingness of its trading partners to get rid of the dollar. Sources cited by Politonline.ru mentioned two countries who would be willing to support Russia: Iran and China. Given that Vladimir Putin will visit Beijing on May 20, it can be speculated that the gas and oil contracts that are going to be signed between Russia and China will be denominated in rubles and yuan, not dollars

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Stay tuned. This could get ugly.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Stolyarov, Gleb. “UPDATE 2-Russia, wary of sanctions, wants exporters to be paid in roubles.” Reuters.com. 14 May 2014. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/14/russia-exports-rouble-idUSL6N0O01RI20140514). 14 May 2014.

Snyder, Michael. “De-Dollarization: Russia Is On The Verge Of Dealing A Massive Blow To The Petrodollar.” The Economic Collapse. 13 May 2014. (http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/de-dollarization-russia-is-on-the-verge-of-dealing-a-massive-blow-to-the-petrodollar). 14 May 2014.

Mândrăşescu, Valentin. “Russia strives to exclude the dollar from energy trading.” 13 May 2014. (http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_05_13/Russia-strives-to-exclude-the-dollar-from-energy-trading-5138/). 14 May 2014.

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Marc Faber: ‘Next Step’ Is For Stocks, Bonds To ‘Go Down At The Same Time’

Swiss-born investment advisor/fund manager Marc Faber, who became famous for advising clients to get out of the U.S. stock market one week before the October 1987 crash and for predicting the 2008 global financial crisis, was on the phone with CNBC’s Squawk Box yesterday morning. Dr. Faber warned viewers:

I don’t think that the economy is recovering at all. We have in emerging economies a slowdown, export growth is non-existent, and now- and I have been writing about this now for the last two years- we have geopolitical problems A, in Ukraine and B, in East China Sea…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report added this about stocks and bonds:

Since the beginning of the year, the stock market has basically done nothing… but long-term bonds are up 12 percent in terms of total return. Now I believe the next step will be that both stocks and bonds will go down at the same time

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Dr. Doom’s big bear parade”
CNBC Video

So what does “Doctor Doom” recommend then?:

I don’t see any assets that are terribly attractive. Now, the most under-appreciated asset is cash. Nobody likes cash. Now, on cash, for the next 10 years you will earn precisely zero. In fact, you will lose money, because Mrs. Yellen- she’s a money printer like all the others- and she will make sure that the dollar continues to depreciate in real terms. For the next 6 months, maybe cash is the most attractive… For the next 6 months, opportunities will come along all the time

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Faber: Cash most underappreciated asset”
CNBC Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Status Of West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System

The other week, I was pondering my options for “Resource Of The Week” on Survival And Prosperity.

Considering all the recent headlines about earthquakes, I decided I would look for some sort of earthquake early warning notification system for those living and working on the West Coast.

The best I could do was the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Notification Service (ENS), “a free service that sends you automated notification emails when earthquakes happen in your area.”

A noble effort, but basically, no earthquake early warning system in place then.

What a shame, considering the warnings of numerous experts about the inevitability of a major trembler striking the West Coast of the United States down the road.

The foundation for such a system is being laid, however. From Tiffany Wilson on the wesbite of San Francisco ABC affiliate Channel 7 yesterday:

UC Berkeley has been working for years to build an earthquake warning system on the West Coast. The same kind of system that helped prevent Mexico’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Friday from landing a bigger punch than it did.

California still doesn’t have one of these systems in place. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that mandates California build one of these systems, however that bill did not include anything about funding

Right now, the UC Berkeley Seismological Lab has a test version of what the earthquake warning system would look like.

The system would send an alert to your cellphone, giving you precious seconds to find safety.

[UC Berkeley Seismological Lab spokesperson Jennifer] Strauss says it would cost about $82 million up front to build and $12 million annually to maintain…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Wilson also added in her piece that Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and Romania have “similar or advanced warning systems” in place already.

In fact, viewers of one Mexico City TV program got to see the system work during last week’s quake:


“Así sintieron el sismo en Foro TV”
YouTube Video

I really hope some sort of earthquake early warning notification system is funded and operational before the U.S. West Coast suffers significant loss of life, limb, and property from a major shake.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Wilson, Tiffany. “UC Berkeley working to build earthquake warning system.” ABC 7. 21 Apr. 2014. (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/east_bay&id=9511499). 22 Apr. 2014.

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While Ebola Grabs The Headlines, Coronavirus Makes A Comeback In The Middle East

While I’ve been blogging about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (121 dead last last I heard), I’ve noticed a different virus that I’ve talked about before is making a comeback further east. Deema Almashabi and Oliver Staley reported earlier today on Bloomberg.com:

The government of Saudi Arabia is trying to reassure its citizens that the most recent outbreak of a respiratory virus isn’t a cause for alarm following 16 new cases, including two deaths, reported in the last nine days.

The Saudi health ministry sent text messages through local carriers yesterday asking the country’s 30 million residents to check its website, call a free hotline and check its official Twitter account for updates on the coronavirus, which causes Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome or MERS…

Almost 230 people are known to have been infected since the virus emerged in Saudi Arabia two years ago, and 92 of them have died, according to the World Health Organization. Much about the disease and how it’s transmitted is still unknown…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The first time I discussed the coronavirus on Survival And Prosperity, the attention hadn’t yet focused on the Middle East. Rather, it was on Europe. I blogged on February 18, 2013:

Novel coronavirus (NCoV). A SARS-like virus I’ve been hearing more of recently. And of particular concern to the World Health Organization (WHO). From a February 16 posting on the “Disease Outbreak News” section of their website:

The United Kingdom (UK) has informed WHO of another confirmed case of infection with the novel coronavirus (NCoV). This is the third case confirmed in the country this month and is in the same family cluster as the two recently confirmed cases.

The latest confirmed case does not have recent travel history outside the UK. The case is recovering from mild respiratory illness and is currently well.

The confirmation with NCoV in this case with no recent travel history indicates that infection was acquired in the UK. Although this new case offers further indications of person-to-person transmission, no sustained person-to-person transmission has been identified

As of 16 February 2013, WHO has been informed of a total of 12 confirmed cases of human infection with NCoV, including five deaths…

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied.

WHO continues to closely monitor the situation.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

12 confirmed cases of this new coronavirus. 5 deaths.

The vibe I’m getting from public health circles is that human-to-human transmission of NCoV is pretty difficult, so there’s not much worry of a pandemic at this point in time.

Still, like the WHO suggested in their bulletin, it’s something worth keeping an eye on. People infected with the novel coronavirus have developed acute respiratory illness with symptoms of shortness of breath, cough, and pneumonia. There are no specific treatments for the illnesses caused by the virus.

By last summer, the coronavirus that now had a foothold in the Middle East was being called MERS, or MERS-CoV on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Coronavirus/Novel coronavirus/MERS/MERS-CoV- something to keep an eye out for in addition to Ebola.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Almashabi, Deema and Staley, Oliver. “Saudi Arabia Seeks to Ease Concerns After New MERS Cases.” Bloomberg.com. 15 Apr. 2014. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-15/saudi-arabia-seeks-to-ease-concerns-after-new-mers-cases.html). 15 Apr. 2014.

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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 Africa, Europe, Health, Middle East No Comments

U.S. Security Experts Wary Of American Fighters Returning From Syrian Civil War

Back on December 2, I blogged:

I suspect it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. homeland is attacked once again by Al-Qaeda (major operation), an affiliate, or sympathizers.

Complicating matters is the potential for radicalized Americans and European Union member state passport-carrying jihadists fighting in Syria’s civil war soon being part of this fray…

These radicalized foreign fighters were the focus of a piece that appeared on the International Business Times (UK) website Sunday. Tom Porter reported:

Experts have warned that a terrorist attack by jihadists returning radicalised from the war in Syria is “inevitable”.

It is believed that hundreds of British citizens have fought in the three-year Syrian conflict, with many taking up arms for Islamist groups.

Some have posted videos online, boasting of their exploits.

There are growing fears among security services that returning fighters with combat experience are poised to launch terrorist attacks in the UK. The Telegraph reports that around 250 Syria veterans may be back in the country.

Ahead of a discussion on Syrian fighters at Chatham House this week, Raffaello Pantucci, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, spoke of the growing danger.

“It seems almost inevitable that some sort of a threat back to the UK will come off the battlefield in Syria, something supported by the fact that security services in the UK believe they have already disrupted at least one plot with links to Syria,” he told the Independent on Sunday.

Last year, security forces are reported to have foiled a Mumbai-style plot, involving killing civilians with guns in central London, which involved Syria veterans

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Even though Porter talked about the U.K., Syrian Civil War veterans who fought alongside Islamists will also be returning to the United States.

And U.S. security experts are wary of them.

Henry Austin and Charlene Gubash reported on the NBC News website back on February 15:

Foreign fighters returning home to the U.S., Britain and other countries after honing their skills in Syria’s civil war are posing a “nightmare for security services,” experts and officials say.

About 11,000 people have crossed into Syria seeking to help topple President Bashar Assad’s regime – including about 60 who are believed to have traveled from America. However, many have now been left disillusioned by bitter infighting between rival rebel groups and some have given up their weapons and returned to the West.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month said that the U.S. government was “very focused” on the issue of militants returning to the country.

“Based on our work and the work of our international partners, we know individuals from the U.S., Canada and Europe are traveling to Syria to fight in the conflict,” he added.

Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow at London’s Royal United Services Institute think tank, said recent history shows that “battlefields that have Sunni jihadist ideology have produced some sort of a threat.”

“It’s not true to say that all of those returning from Syria will come back and be a terrorist threat,” Pantucci added. “Perhaps a couple of them will, which makes it a nightmare for security services to track.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Some suspect Muslim extremists have been trying hard to recruit Western Caucasian members for some time now to use in terrorist operations against the United States and its allies in the “War On Terror.”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Porter, Tom. “Experts Warn of ‘Inevitable’ UK Terror Attack By Returning Syria Jihadis.” International Business Times. 6 Apr. 2014. (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/experts-warn-inevitable-uk-terror-attack-by-returning-syria-jihadis-1443631). 7 Apr. 2014.

Austin, Henry and Gubash, Charlene. “Syria’s American-Born Rebels Pose National Security ‘Nightmare’.” NBC News. 15 Feb. 2014. (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/syrias-american-born-rebels-pose-national-security-nightmare-n29451). 7 Apr. 2014.

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Resource Of The Week: StartPage Private Search Engine

I don’t know about you, but I’m incredibly concerned about privacy going extinct in America.

Not that I engage in any criminal activity. I just tend to be a private person by nature.

And I think anything that can be done to reinforce and strengthen whatever privacy citizens still have left in the United States is a terrific thing.

Now let me take a selflie.

Enter StartPage, billed as “the world’s most private search engine.”

From their “About” page:

StartPage protects your privacy!

StartPage does not collect or share any personal information!

StartPage offers you Web results from Google- the world’s most popular search engine.

When you search with StartPage the Web results are generated by Google. This offers you the search results and search features you may have grown accustomed to.

A Unique Combination

On StartPage the privacy of Ixquick is combined with the Web search results from Google. The combination of these two features is what makes StartPage so special.

You can continue using the Web results from the world’s most popular search engine but now under the privacy protection of Ixquick, the world’s most private search engine…

At the bottom of the search engine’s home page there’s a box proclaiming:

Take a deep breath. You’re safe here.

Click here to learn the top 10 ways StartPage protects your privacy.

The “top 10 ways” include:

1. StartPage doesn’t store your IP address, use tracking cookies, or make a record of your searches…

2. StartPage protects you from NSA surveillance and spying…

3. StartPage gives you 100% real Google results in complete privacy…

4. StartPage is a Dutch company, so it is not under US jurisdiction…

5. StartPage offers a free proxy with every search…

6. StartPage is third-party certified for privacy…

7. StartPage has been doing privacy longer than anyone else – since way before privacy was “cool”…

8. When it comes to security, StartPage runs the tightest ship on the Internet…

9. StartPage breaks you free of the search engine “Filter Bubble”…

10. By using StartPage, you send a powerful pro-privacy message in the marketplace…

I’ve been using StartPage for a while now ever since my girlfriend introduced it to me some time back. It’s very good.

The only issue I have with the search engine is that it doesn’t seem to bring up as many results as Google does.

Still, it’s a lot more private.

Give StartPage a try here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Link added to “Resources” page)

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Jim Rogers: ‘This Is The Time To Buy Russia’

Investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers has been bullish on Russia for some time now. In fact, by the time I first blogged about his optimism for the country back in February 2013, he had already invested there.

Despite the recent crisis in the Crimea and subsequent sell-off of Russian assets by international investors, the former investing partner of George Soros hasn’t changed his mind about the former Communist nation. Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Daniel Bases reported on the Reuters website Sunday:

“Russia’s stock market right now is one of the cheapest in the world, and probably one of the most hated,” said investor and commodities guru Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, in Singapore. “This is the time to buy Russia.”

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

Chavez-Dreyfuss and Bases added later in the piece:

Rogers, who has been investing in Russia for the last 1-1/2 years, said he bought Russian stocks last week. He said if more sanctions are imposed and the equities market declines further, there would be more buying opportunities in Russia.

Rogers said he is looking for non-energy companies – a tall order considering the RTS Index of 51 leading Russian companies is heavily skewed toward energy (58 percent of the index) and basic materials (13 percent)…

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

In January 2013, the Singapore-based investor identified Russia as one market holding the best prospects for investors. Next month, Rogers made it known he had bought Russian bonds and currency. By September, he revealed he had also bought Russian ETFs, but explained:

I don’t want to buy their oil and gas plays because I own enough oil and gas. I’m looking for other kinds of companies in Russia.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Source:

Chavez-Dreyfuss, Gertrude and Bases, Daniel. “Analysis: Russia sell-off spurs hunt for bargains.” Reuters.com. 30 Mar. 2014. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/30/us-emergingmarkets-russia-investing-anal-idUSBREA2T03720140330). 31 Mar. 2014.

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