If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you’ve been missing out on some good stuff. With the brith of our third daughter a couple of months ago, it’s been increasingly hard for me to find the time to sit down and write longer posts, so I’ve been putting more and more content on Twitter. Last Friday, Brent Johnson of Santiago Capital, asked me to provide additional thoughts on my recent turn to being far more bullish gold. Normally I would’ve written it in a piece, but being pressed for time I put together a Twitter thread.
There are 32 posts in there and I suggest you read the whole thing. More important than the thread itself; however, was the unprecedented and totally surprising response I received. As I explain in the tweets, I intentionally avoided talking about markets for nearly half a decade for a variety of reasons, and so I was blindsided by the enthusiastic and exceptionally positive response. It led me to do quite a bit of soul-searching, and ultimately convinced me that the time is ripe for me to start commenting about financial markets again. Not only because I think we’re at or very close to a major inflection point, but because people want to hear it.
from Liberty Blitzkrieg http://bit.ly/2FonET6
2018 was a slog, and the more I mention this to friends, the more I realize a lot of other people feel the same way. It wasn’t a bad or terrible year for us, but at the same time nothing came easy. Anything we tried to accomplish came with all sorts of unexpected pitfalls and hurdles, and in many cases success seemed hopeless until the very last moment when things finally came together reasonably well. Stuff that had to get done got done, but not without struggle and headache.
The highlight of the year was the birth of our third child, something that will forever color 2018 positively despite other challenges. Although I knew three kids in three years would be tough, the reality of the situation has been more difficult than I imagined.I forgot just how constantly attached to a newborn a mother is, a reality that’s left me largely in charge of the toddlers.
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U.S. to Withdraw All American Troops in Syria, Official Says (AP)
Officials: Pentagon Planning Troop Pullout from Afghanistan (AP)
As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants (Must read, this company is a train-wreck, The New York Times)
U.S. Sportswear Traced to Factory in China’s Internment Camps (Read this and share, AP)
Google’s Secret China Project “Effectively Ended” After Internal Confrontation (The Intercept)
The Stock Market Is on Pace for Its Worst December Since the Great Depression (CNBC)
Inside the Temple of Covert Propaganda: The Integrity Initiative and the UK’s Scandalous Information War (Important read, Grayzone Project)
America’s Technology and Sanctions War Will End, by Bifurcating the Global Economy (Strategic Culture Foundation)
We Know How Trump’s War Game Ends (Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone)
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from Liberty Blitzkrieg http://bit.ly/2GD8Jqw
The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power—as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged.
– From Graham Allison’s article: The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?
For the past two years, my geopolitical assumption has been that the Trump administration would more or less continue along with the reckless, shortsighted, and disastrous neocon/neoliberal interventionist foreign policy of the past two decades focused on undeclared regime change and proxy wars across the world, especially the Middle East. Given his strange obsession with Iran, I figured he’d start a conflict there and that this conflict would end up a bigger disaster than Iraq.
I assumed this mistake would coincide with continued massive deficits, a unwieldy debt load and most likely a recession. In turn, I believed this would lead to an embarrassing and chaotic unraveling of the U.S. empire. At that point, other nations like China would opportunistically take advantage of the huge power vacuum left over. Based on a variety of events over the past few months, I’m no longer convinced this is how it’s going to unfold.
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Johnson & Johnson Knew for Decades That Asbestos Lurked in Its Baby Powder (Reuters)
Every Moment of Every Day, Mobile Phone Apps Collect Detailed Location Data. (Totally out of control, The New York Times)
Australia’s Horrific New Encryption Law Likely to Obliterate Its Tech Scene (The Next Web)
Amazon’s Disturbing Plan to Add Face Surveillance to Your Front Door (ALCU)
Bitcoin is a Decentralized Organism (Mycelium) (This is one of the most enjoyable and informative articles I’ve read all year, by Brandon Quittem)
Joe Rogan Experience #1035 – Paul Stamets (If you liked the above article, you’ll love this, YouTube)
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When it comes to the relationship of U.S. citizens to the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D.C., there’s no indication that anything remotely resembling self-government is happening. Rather, the relationship is far more like that of a servant to a master.
From the October post: Americans are Stuck in Abusive Relationships with Power
The gilets jaunes, or “yellow vests” protests, emerged seemingly out of nowhere about a month ago and have in a few short weeks shaken the French political power structure to its core. Just yesterday, the exceedingly unpopular President Macron cried uncle and offered a series of concessions to the protesters. Many commentators have come to the simplistic and erroneous conclusion that violence works, but it wasn’t the burning cars or streets filled with tear gas that really scared Macron and the people around him. It was something much deeper than that.
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Although I haven’t paid close attention to Beto O’Rourke, he’s been on my radar for a couple of years after noticing certain media outlets had anointed him a “rising Democratic star.” One of my principle rules of political analysis is whenever you hear mass media proclaim an obscure politician a “rising star,” it typically means that individual has been deemed acceptable by the entrenched oligarchy and is being groomed as a promising puppet.
In fact, the first time O’Rourke came into my news orbit it felt like I was being sold a box of cereal by Madison Avenue. After reading an illuminating article by Ziad Jilliani earlier today in Current Affairs, it appears my intuition was correct.
The first paragraph tells you a lot about what the sorts of people who like Beto, like about him.
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France Fuel Protests: Tear Gas Fired in Clashes in Paris (BBC)
Google Shut out Privacy and Security Teams from Secret China Project (Must read. Google is so dirty, The Intercept)
How a Future Trump Cabinet Member Gave a Serial Sex Abuser the Deal of a Lifetime (Infuriating, Miami Herald)
Marriott’s Starwood Database Hacked, 500 Million May Be Affected (Reuters)
It is Possible Paul Manafort Visited Julian Assange. If True, There Should Be Ample Video and Other Evidence Showing This. (More fake news from mass media, The Intercept)
Who Will Fix Facebook? (Matt Taibbi on internet banning/deplatforming, Rolling Stone)
How Bigoted ‘Backsliding’ in Saudi Textbooks Belies MBS’ Reformist Credentials (Must read on what’s being taught in Saudi schools, Al-Monitor)
Two Decades After 9/11, Militants Have Only Multiplied (Well done everyone, The New York Times)
U.K. and Ecuador Conspire to Deliver Julian Assange to U.S. Authorities (TruthDig)
Parliament Seizes Cache of Facebook Internal Papers (The Guardian)
Amazon and Lockheed Martin Announce Partnership (The creepiness factor of Amazon continues to rise, Digital Journal)
Has the United States Been Fighting the Wrong War in the Middle East? (The Nation)
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WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
– From Major General Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket
The following story’s been on my radar for a while, but it wasn’t until I read the fictional-sounding article published in The Nation yesterday that I finally turned my focus on the issue.
To give you a sense of what’s going on when it comes to the unimaginable levels of waste, secrecy and probable fraud occurring at the U.S. Department of Defense, check out the first couple of paragraphs from this must read article:
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