Facing Triple-Dip Recession, France Set To Deploy US-Made Drones In West Africa

Take one serving of pre-triple dip recessionary France, add a dash of US-made drones, drop a pinch of Al Qaeda scapegoating and the now generic false flags, and let it all simmer in the latest global conflict in which the uninvited west has decided it is its moral role to intervene, and what you get is the latest hilarious development out of military superpower France, which is now preparing to unleash US drones in West Africa. The comedic possibilities one ends up with are countless.

From Reuters:

France will deploy its first U.S.-made unarmed surveillance drones to West Africa by the end of the year, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday, as it seeks to “eliminate all traces of al Qaeda”.

 

France’s military intervention in Mali in January exposed its shortage of surveillance drones suitable for modern warfare, forcing it to rely on the United States to provide French commanders with intelligence from drones based in neighbouring Niger.

 

Paris said in June it would buy 12 Reaper reconnaissance drones built by privately owned U.S. firm General Atomics to eventually replace its EADS-made Harfang drones.

 

Two drones that we have bought will be operational by the end of the year in Africa, in the Sahel. That is their main mission,” Le Drian told Europe 1 radio.

 

Niger gave permission in January for U.S. surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters in the region. Le Drian said pockets of militants remained in Mali, whom Paris would go after. They included veteran Islamist commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who claimed responsibility for attacks in Niger and on Algeria’s In Amenas gas plant earlier this year.

The humor does not end there:

“We have led successful counter-terrorism attacks in recent days and we will continue to act to eliminate all traces of al Qaeda,” he said. “These terrorist groups come and go, regroup and then disperse, so we need to follow them closely. This will be the role of our forces in 2014. There will be 1,000 soldiers in Mali whose main mission will be counter-terrorism.”

 

French forces killed 19 Islamist fighters during security operations in Mali’s northern region of Timbuktu earlier this month.

 

France intervened in Mali at the start of the year as Islamist forces, who seized control of the north in the confusion following a military coup in March 2012, pushed towards the capital Bamako.

 

Their advance lifted Mali to the forefront of U.S. and European security concerns, with fears the Islamists would turn the country into a base for international attacks.

Such pristine, unrequited nobility…

Of course, what was not mentioned anywhere, is that France, with its multi-decade high unemployment, is on the verge of a recession. And not just any recession, but a triple-dip, which would make it Europe’s first country to undergo a triple dip in the Eurozone’s history. So what is this socialist paradise to do? Why read chapter 1 of Keynes for Idiots of course: when in depression, start – or escalate – a war.

Q.E.D.


    



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The Multi-Pronged Mortgage Debacle Next Year (So Long, “Housing Recovery”)

Wolf Richter   www.testosteronepit.com   www.amazon.com/author/wolfrichter

The feverishly awaited taper announcement, after months of deafening Fed cacophony, is in the can. The Fed, unless it backtracks again, will cut its purchases of Treasuries and Mortgage Backed Securities by $10 billion in January, and possible every month until it’s done with its money-printing and paper buying binge. The program repressed mortgage rates and inflated the value of MBAs.

But mere talk of ending it has sent mortgage rates soaring – and mortgage applications plunging to the “lowest level in more than a dozen years,” lamented the Mortgage Bankers Association. The Refinance Index has crashed. The all-important Purchase Index is now 12% lower than last year.

People who need mortgages to buy homes – hence, not hedge funds, private equity firms, oligarchs, and other sundry investors – have been throttling back. Sales of existing homes slumped for the third month in a row in November, down 4.3%, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.9 million, 1.2% below last year – the first annual decline in over two years. It’s just getting too darn expensive. Home prices have soared over the last two years. And mortgage rates have soared since May. A toxic concoction.

The average contract rate for 30-year mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) rose to 4.62%, up from 3.59% in early May. Over a full percentage point. Just on taper talk – though the Fed has continued its bond-buying binge with relentless determination. Where will mortgage rates go when the Fed actually stops trying to repress them?

Interesting times.

Now comes part three of the debacle, after soaring home prices and mortgage rates. It was drowned out by the hullaballoo over the Fed’s taper announcement. It came from our favorite bailed-out, taxpayer-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that purchase mortgages from banks and then either keep them on their books or stuff them into MBAs that they sell with some guarantees. Biggest buyer? The Fed. It has been plowing $40 billion a month into them – to be reduced to $35 billion in January.

The banks love this system because they get the fat fees from originating the mortgage without having to absorb the risks. The GSEs and the Fed run the show. Banks are involved just enough to cream profits off the transaction. It’s not exactly the paragon of a free market.

But there are some efforts underway to encourage private capital to play a larger role. So last week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that it would impose a 10 basis-point increase (1/10th of 1 percentage point) in guaranty fees that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge banks. And now Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have announced that they would revamp their risk-based matrix of fees that they charge lenders.

Lenders roll these fees into the mortgage, which drives up monthly payments. The change will hit borrowers with a so-so credit score who cannot come up with a down payment of at least 20% – hence the majority of all borrowers – the hardest.

“What had been an exercise by regulators to systematically attract private capital into the mortgage market has now turned into an attempt to shock private capital back into the system,” explained Mortgage Bankers Association CEO David Stevens. “The timing of this could not be worse, especially with the Qualified Mortgage Rule, which is already tightening credit, going into effect in January.”

And with mortgage rates already jumping.

Based on the Mortgage Bankers Association’s analysis, guarantee fees – Loan Level Price Adjustments, they’re called – could increase by 0.75 to 1.5 percentage points for borrowers stuck in so-so credit-score purgatory.

“As a result, a borrower with a 730 FICO score making a 10% down payment will pay an LLPA of 2.25% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan, up from today’s fee of 0.75%,” the Mortgage Bankers Association pointed out. “These increases are in addition to the 10 basis point ongoing guarantee fee increase. The estimated net impact on this borrower would be a 50 basis point increase in the interest rate costing borrowers thousands over the life of the loan.”

Half a percentage point! On top of the full percentage point that mortgage rates have already increased, on top of any increase in mortgage rates that might occur as a result of the Fed’s withdrawal from binging on MBAs. That’s the first hint of what might happen when a subsidized industry as housing is being encouraged to try to stand on its own wobbly feet.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, which represents banks that have gotten fat by creaming off profits from this subsidized process, is now aggressively lobbying against the change. They want neither the Fed nor the taxpayer to abandon them.

It was a “dangerous and misguided” approach, Stevens said. “These fee increases could have a negative effect on the fragile housing recovery and could harm the very potential home buyers and borrowers that the housing market needs to sustain that recovery.”

Of course, home buyers only have to pay the fees if they want to get the lower mortgage rates that these government guarantees make possible. If they don’t want to pay the fees, they can always pay an even higher rate for a mortgage that is not guaranteed by the GSEs. In either case, owning a home is in the process of getting much more expensive.

Hard-pressed consumers are hitting a wall. So, something will have to give: either mortgage rates (if the Fed were to backtrack) or home sales and eventually prices. And that would be the end of the “housing recovery.”

These hard-pressed consumers are already showing their teeth. Discount retailer Loehmann’s did what other retailers – and a large number of other junk-rated companies – will do once the Fed allows a sense of reality into the markets: it filed for bankruptcy. Read…. Junk-Debt Time Bomb: Ticking Till The Fed’s Money Dries Up


    



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Fed's Economic Projections – Myth Vs. Reality (Dec 2013)

Submitted by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management,

 


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/Wg-f98O2mIg/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Fed’s Economic Projections – Myth Vs. Reality (Dec 2013)

Submitted by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management,

 


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/Wg-f98O2mIg/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Steve Chapman on Excusing Abuses of Power

If you’re part of the U.S. national security apparatus and you
torture someone to death during an interrogation, you can rest
easy. Two administrations have furnished get-out-of-jail-free cards
absolving you of responsibility for your crime. But if you’re part
of that same U.S. national security apparatus and divulge to the
American people information about government activities that are
unauthorized, illegal, and quite possibly unconstitutional, you
should expect no such mercy. Commit crimes on behalf of the
government? OK. Reveal secret abuses committed by the government?
You must be joking. Steve Chapman says the government’s reaction to
Snowden’s revelations perfectly demonstrates the Washington rule:
Abuse power, and you’ll be protected by those with power. Expose
abuse, and you’re on your own.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/19/steve-chapman-on-excusing-abuses-of-powe
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Los Angeles Gets Gun Grabby in Domestic Violence Cases

"Question No. 4: Have you stopped beating your wife?"At a press conference
yesterday, Los Angeles city officials announced that they’re going
to get grabby about guns owned by defendants in domestic violence
cases. Or rather, as grabby as the law apparently already allows
them to be.

Here’s how the Los Angeles Daily News
described it
:

A new way to deal with those accused of domestic violence was
unveiled Wednesday, with the City Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles
Police Department seeking to remove guns from those accused of
abuse.

“Once someone is arrested for domestic abuse, the LAPD will
inform my office, and we will take steps to remove their guns,”
City Attorney Mike Feuer said at a City Hall news conference. “Each
week in the United States, nine women are killed by handguns. We
can do better than that.”

Feuer said the new prosecution protocol developed by his office
with advocacy groups over the past six months is designed to reduce
the possibility of further violence.

Under current law, those accused of domestic violence are
prohibited from owning a weapon. Violators could face additional
criminal charges.

There’s some awkwardness in the newspaper’s reporting. This
isn’t actually a new way of dealing with domestic violence and the
description of “current law” is a bit misleading. The story gives
readers the impression that simply being accused of domestic
violence is enough to get your guns taken away. Here’s how the Los
Angeles Police Department lists the regulations
connected to gun possession and domestic violence cases:

12028.5 PC Family Violence/Firearms Seizure

The police at the scene of family violence, involving a threat
to human life or physical assault, may take temporary custody of
any firearm or deadly weapon in plain sight or by consensual search
for the protection of the peace officer or other persons present.
The police may retain the weapons up to 72 hours unless the weapons
were seized as evidence or for an additional crime.

12021(g) PC Restrictions on Firearm
Possession

Persons subject to a restraining order may not obtain, receive,
purchase or otherwise acquire a firearm.

The person must know they are subject to the restraining order
and the restraining order must contain in bold print that they are
prohibited from receiving or purchasing or attempting to receive or
purchase a firearm, and the penalties. (This does not apply if a
firearm is received as part of a community property
settlement).

6389 PC Relinquishment Of Firearms

Prohibits person subject to a Domestic Violence protective order
from owning or possessing a firearm while protective order is in
effect.

Exemption may be granted if a firearm is a necessary condition
of employment. A person may possess only during scheduled work
hours and during travel to and from work.

So, the gun grabbing only applies if a judge rules that a
protective order is justified and only lasts for the duration of
the order. The Daily News reporting makes it appear like
the city attorney’s office is going beyond the bounds of the law
and snatching guns on the basis of just accusations, but the Los
Angeles affiliate of CBS is a little bit
more specific
in their reporting. What the city says will
happen is that the city attorney’s office and the LAPD are going to
communicate better on domestic violence cases, so that if a judge
does issue a protective order, the city will respond and actually
enforce the existing laws and prosecute those who try to bypass
it.

Obviously “Wait, this isn’t as bad as you think it is!” should
not be taken as an endorsement of these laws. The discussion of the
abuse of women seems to conflate the use of a weapon with the
existence of the abuse itself, like the gun is somehow a factor in
causing the violence and not a tool the abuser selects. Even as the
city announces this effort to step up enforcement of these laws,
they also noted that domestic violence cases in Los Angeles are
actually down.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/19/los-angeles-gets-gun-grabby-in-domestic
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The Legend of the Chicago Welfare Queen

In “stump speech after stump speech,” Josh Levin
writes
in Slate, Ronald Reagan “regaled his supporters
with the story of an Illinois woman whose feats of deception were
too amazing to be believed.”

For the record, the song predates the speeches.“In Chicago, they found a woman who
holds the record,” the former California governor declared at a
campaign rally in January 1976. “She used 80 names, 30 addresses,
15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security,
veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands,
as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running
$150,000 a year.” As soon as he quoted that dollar amount, the
crowd gasped.

Four decades later, Reagan’s soliloquies on welfare fraud are often
remembered as shameless demagoguery. Many accounts report that
Reagan coined the term “welfare queen,” and that this woman in
Chicago was a fictional character. In 2007, the New York Times’
Paul Krugman wrote that “the bogus story of the Cadillac-driving
welfare queen [was] a gross exaggeration of a minor case of welfare
fraud.”

But the woman did exist, Levin writes, and while she certainly
wasn’t a typical welfare chisler‎, let alone a typical welfare
client, Reagan’s descriptions of her scams were mostly accurate
accounts of her activities. Yet there was much more to her criminal
career than the case that made her infamous in the ’70s:
kidnappings, con games, maybe murder. Levin’s
story
about her life reads like an epic Gothic saga in which
half a dozen villains turn out to be the same shape-shifting
monster; every time you think it couldn’t possibly get weirder, it
does.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/19/the-legend-of-the-chicago-welfare-queen
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The MinotEur Labyrinth: What Europe's "Bank Resolution" Looks Like In One Chart

Late last night, European Union finance ministers agreed on a new system to centralize control of failing euro-zone lenders – a so-called “bank resolution mechanism” – in the hope that it will stop expensive banking crises from ruining the finances of entire countries.As WSJ reports, “”Taxpayers will no longer foot the bill when banks make mistakes and face crises, ending the era of massive bailouts,” according to Michel Barnier, the EU’s internal market commissioner.” Sadly, Mr. Barnier is incorrect, for two main reasons.

First, in Europe the link between a bank and its sovereign has never been tighter courtesy of ever rising holdings of host sovereign debt by a bank in question (subsequently repoed with the ECB for cash) currently at recordh high levels across the periphery, which means a major bank failure will always result in taxpayer impairment.

Second… well, instead of describing it, we will instead simply show graphically courtesy of the FT just what the “streamlined” bureaucratic process for achieve bank “resolution” in Europe looks like.

In a word (or two) – good luck.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/e7QSYy-1QIk/story01.htm Tyler Durden

The MinotEur Labyrinth: What Europe’s “Bank Resolution” Looks Like In One Chart

Late last night, European Union finance ministers agreed on a new system to centralize control of failing euro-zone lenders – a so-called “bank resolution mechanism” – in the hope that it will stop expensive banking crises from ruining the finances of entire countries.As WSJ reports, “”Taxpayers will no longer foot the bill when banks make mistakes and face crises, ending the era of massive bailouts,” according to Michel Barnier, the EU’s internal market commissioner.” Sadly, Mr. Barnier is incorrect, for two main reasons.

First, in Europe the link between a bank and its sovereign has never been tighter courtesy of ever rising holdings of host sovereign debt by a bank in question (subsequently repoed with the ECB for cash) currently at recordh high levels across the periphery, which means a major bank failure will always result in taxpayer impairment.

Second… well, instead of describing it, we will instead simply show graphically courtesy of the FT just what the “streamlined” bureaucratic process for achieve bank “resolution” in Europe looks like.

In a word (or two) – good luck.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/e7QSYy-1QIk/story01.htm Tyler Durden

China Also Tapers, Forced To Promptly Bail Out Money Markets

Overnight we warned that short-to-medium-term money market rates had spiked to record highs (1-Year rate-swaps over 5.06%) and that the PBOC was bravely standing firm on its (lack of) liquidity injections… that didn’t last long. Despite the PBOC’s veiled ongoing attempts to ‘taper’ its own liquidity provisions, as MNI noted, echoes of the June liquidity crunch were heard again in the Chinese money market Thursday and authorities moved to extend trading amid a surge in rates which quiet injections of funding by the People’s Bank of China failed to stem. Jitters in the Chinese interbank market since the PBOC tried to force deleveraging in June highlights the nervousness of an overstretched banking system that is reliant on the central bank’s largesse to ensure stable operations. 

 

Via MNI,

Trading in the interbank market was extended by a half hour, traders said, citing a notice from the China Foreign Exchange Trade System, something which hasn’t happened since money market rates hit record levels back in June.

 

The PBOC admitted after the close, via its official microblog, that it used Short-term Liquidity Obligations (SLO) to add funding to the market. The bank didn’t specify when it added the funds but, in another direct echo of the June panic, the PBOC said it is prepared to add more.

 

We will continue to provide liquidity support via SLOs to qualified financial institutions if necessary, depending on the progress of fiscal spending,” the bank said, adding that liquidity conditions are volatile because of seasonal factors.

 

 

Some traders expect a degree of calm to return once Christmas and the January 1 holiday have passed and liquidity returns to the system.

But the Chinese New Year comes soon after that, beginning at the end of the month, and the authorities have signaled they intend to wean China’s notoriously mismatched financial system off its addiction to credit creation over the longer-term, indicating that rates will remain volatile in the weeks and months ahead.

This is a problem – and this is why the banks are terrified – Goldman’s projection of Chinese debt to GDP through 2014 and 2015 is incredible…

 

and problematic as corporate bond yields surge higher… (with repo only maintained by government largesse)

 

It seems clear that the Chinese banks’ PBOC taper tantrum will not allow the central bank to withdraw painlessly.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/3BEmmarm57c/story01.htm Tyler Durden