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05 February 2017

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Babak Makkinejad

All:

The Chronology

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/04/politics/iran-us-tensions-timeline/

wisedupearly

Fox says "The Iranian-backed suicide attack targeting a Saudi frigate off the coast of Yemen on Monday may have been meant for an American warship, two defense officials told Fox News."
"In the audio heard on the video, a voice narrating the attack shouts in Arabic, "Allahu akbar [God is great], death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory for Islam."
well there you go, proof positive, better than WMD is a faceless voice screaming just what the neocons want to hear.
"U.S. defense analysts believe those behind the attack either thought the bomber was striking an American warship (except for the flags etc etc) or that this was a “dress rehearsal” similar to the attack on the USS Cole (except that blowing yourself up is not dress a rehearsal), according to one official."
Our defense analysts are so sharp its amazing.
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/01/31/exclusive-pentagon-believes-attack-on-saudi-frigate-meant-for-us-warship.html

b

An attack on Iran would be a much bigger screw-up than the attack on Iraq. Iran can block everything in the ME should it want to do so. U.S. troops are in extremely vulnerable position in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and in their bases in the Gulf states. Not even the Bush gang was crazy enough to try it. I believe we will see a lot of bluster but no action. (Mattis said "no change in U.S. poser in the Gulf")

Netanyahoo
Israel's Mossad chief, national security adviser secretly met with Trump officials for second time
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.769583

Russia/Ukraine

The phonecall between Trump and Poroshenko must have been a blast. The readout of the call is a groaner.
https://twitter.com/MegaSimarmata/status/828040843504152576

Trump knows well that his DC enemies, McCain/Graham/Biden, incited Poroshenko to start the recent miniwar with the separatists. He told Poro, more or less, that he is now screwed, will get no support against Russia and may well better leave.
A day before the phonecall Trump allegedly met Timoshenko who (again) wants Poroshenko's seat. She works only for her self-interest, is bribable, and has proven that she can make deals with the Russian. Certainly not the best for Ukraine but anything will be better than the Galician nazis under influence of Washington's neocons.

Trump and the bankers - is there a difference on the issue from to Obama and Hillary? I don't see any. Schumer and other Clintonits will welcome such legislation.

Rocketrepreneur

Pat,

Interesting analysis as always!

Re: Iran, I worry that those who think Trump was genuinely opposed to war in the Middle East are going to end up being "rode hard and put away wet" as I think the idiom goes. I hope the Iranians find some common sense soon, because otherwise things are going to get messy in a hurry in the Middle East. At least it sounds like Mattis, in spite of my worries, is actually acting as a little bit of a damper on the rest of the Iran hawks. Still a really scary situation. A war with Iran isn't going to stay contained for long.

Re: Dodd-Frank. There probably are elements of Dodd-Frank that in hindsight are either ineffective or even counterproductive. But a) fixing legislation is Congress's job, not the POTUS's, and b) the timing here might be really poor. As a friend of mine pointed out over lunch yesterday, because of all the money pumped into the system via Quantitative Easing, the stock market is currently trading at a P/E ratio 2x the historic average. And we've been longer since a recession than the typical inter-recession average. Which suggests there's a good chance for a downturn soon, regardless of what Trump does. But if it say started crashing next week, everyone is going to blame it on Trump repealing or gutting Dodd-Frank, regardless of what the real cause was. So even if you think Dodd-Frank was bad, now might not be the best time to try and ram through Executive Order-driven reforms.

~Jon

Nuff Sed

Reposting my response to the Iran issue on MoA:

Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States

Indeed, Iran building defensive measures is a very hostile action to US interests, how dare they? :)
Trump is simply blustering to satisfy neocons and zionists, some non-essential unilateral sanctions is the "best" they can do.

As for US war on Iran, I can assure you it wont happen. US neither can afford it nor would be capable of winning, Iran's asymmetric capabilities is one of the best in the World and specifically tuned to repel USrael's attack and make them pay. US military knows, so does IDF, and while they can keep on dreaming of "real man goes to Tehran", but in real life they arent suicidal and will block any such attempt.

Posted by: Harry | Feb 5, 2017 4:37:26 AM | 85

Agree with Harry @85. In addition to the asymmetrical capabilities deterrent, there is the highly advanced missile deterrent. The fact is that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And the entire Western economic system with its multi-trillion dollsar derivatives bubble is just that. It cannot withstand a severe shock to the system, which is what a single Noor missile aimed at the Ra's Tanura deep water port complex would be; the port of exit for most of Saudi's 10 mbd of crude. A single missile would put that out of operation for months. That is why Cheyney and Rummy were overruled back in the day by the NYSE.

Posted by: Nuff Sed | February 05, 2017 at 05:05 AM

That Sed, I hasten to add that the above logic does not take into account irrational factors and unknown unknowns. Nuff Sed.

Ghostship

First surprise of the week:
"President Donald J. Trump Will Continue to Enforce Executive Order Protecting the Rights of the LGBTQ Community in the Workplace"
....The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/31/president-donald-j-trump-will-continue-enforce-executive-order
Most of the column inches expended on this if you can find them refer to how Ivanka and her husband are responsible for this, but I'm not so sure.
Second surprise of the week:
OO’Reilly then challenged Trump, calling the Russian president “a killer.”
Trump shrugged the comment off, saying: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country is so innocent?”

https://www.rt.com/usa/376357-trump-putin-interview-killer/

I doubt there will be war with Iran, there are more important things that Trump wants to do and he saw how expensive and damaging to the United States the invasion and occupation of Iraq was, and Iran has three times the population and is not flat, I think that Trump has gathered Neo-cons inside the tent so that they're pissing out but he also has them on a short leash so they can bluster all they want but I doubt they'll get what they want. Trump is definitely not Bush and Pence is not Cheney, and if Trump wants to defeat ISIS which seems to be his first foreign policy objective, he doesn't want the Iranians pissing near his tent but on ISIS and their backers and supporters. So, no, I can't see him ever going to Tehran in this presidency.

LondonBob

Frank-Dodd was overkill, sensible reform is entirely possible. Anyway the financial crisis was more an outcome of too low interest rates and of course the CRA pushing government backed mortgages to minorities unable to afford them. We will see the what is proposed.

Russians need to have a word in the ear of the Iranians, I don't get the impression they are helping themselves.

Harry

The Bill O'Reilly interview was fascinating. On the banksters, it seems to me the system won't survive the next period of abuse. Banksters are never long term players. Partnerships are long term, publicly listed investment banks practically beg to be looted. I doubt Trump understands this. Expect another period of looting and then a collapse.

Vic

I'm not sure why this administration is investing so much time and effort into middle eastern affairs.

For the first time in decades America is nearly energy independent. The only reason that we sucked up to the arabs in the first place was the 1973 oil embargo. It demonstrated in no uncertain terms that were were then totally dependent upon foreign oil. Suddenly, the middle east (actually its oil) became a "vital national interest" (our national survival depended on it).

Now that area is no longer a vital national interest, it has nothing that we need and it is located in an out of the way location that can be by passed and ignored. The terrorism coming from that region can be contained away from American shores.

National treasure and resources wasted in the wars in the desert can now be used else where. We might even want to recombine CENTCOM with EUCOM because the middle east is still a vital interest to europe (and especially to China, good luck with that!). We are not the world's policemen, let europe try to deal with the arabs.

The middle east has been a cesspool for American Presidents. If Trump is smart he will not touch that area with a ten foot pole. It is no longer important.

Vic

Babak Makkinejad

Last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday there was a multinational (US, France, UK, etc.) naval exercises in the Persian Gulf simulating attacks on Iran.

On Wednesday, the French Foreign Minister was in Tehran, trying to reassure Iranian leaders about JCOPA.

They probably listened to him politely and went about making their own decisions - regardless.

kooshy

I don’t think Iranians will back out, other than reciprocate US’ actions. Theater of this potential war will be from Afghanistan borders of Tajikistan/China to the Mediterranean Sea, Russian border to north and Persian gulf to south, a low cost local supplied proxies against a classic highly expensive supplied and operated military force.

Marcus

So it was more the government give-away to minorities and the bad fortune of low interests rates that caused the financial crisis? Nothing about credit agencies AAA rating the financial wizards creation of toxic alphabet soup?

"High risk, opaque, and extremely complex financial products such as collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps have been among the key causes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Regulators, buyers, and even many issuers of these investor or capital market products (as distinct from consumer products) did not understand how they worked in calm times, much less in times of extreme market stress. Not only have these products helped cause the crisis but they have also made the crisis extremely difficult to resolve. In response, building on the analogy of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a number of analysts have proposed a requirement that financial products be approved by a government regulatory authority the Financial Stability and Product Safety Aministration (FSPSA), before they can be marketed."http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.370.921&rep=rep1&type=pdf

This consumer will opt for more government oversight rather than trusting the financial wizards again.

b

"God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam." is the inscription on the Houthi flag. They shout that all the time when something good happens like when they blow up a Saudi tank. It has nothing to do with the intended target of the attack.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houthis#Flag_and_slogan

eakens

Perhaps Trump wants to get re-elected and knows he can't go that if the market takes a crap late into his first term...

Norbert M Salamon

President Trump owes his alliance to the flyover country, an area of USA opposed to war [for they have higher % of armed force participation than Hillary Country - eg Frisco], so there will not be a war with Iran, with Russia or with China nor with anyone else, but Isis and relations.

turcopolier

NMS

This would not be a ground war involving many of Trump's constituents and the war party enthusiasts like Flynn and Harvey are not concerned with Iranian casualties. pl

Serge

Completely unrelated, but here is a fascinating ANNA article from today(in russian)detailing how reporters and soldiers were targeted by an ISIS drone in deir ezzor. Apparently the drone accurately disabled their vehicle, hurting noone, then came back for a second round and injured an officer. There is a noticeable uptick in ISIS propaganda related to drone warfare,notably in mosul, in in the past month. This is the first instance to my knowledge of the technology being used in syria
http://www.anna-news.info/%D0%B2-%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%B9%D1%80-%D1%8D%D0%B7-%D0%B7%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%B5-%D0%BE%D0%B1%D1%81%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%BB%D1%8F%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D1%81%D1%8A%D0%B5%D0%BC%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%8F-%D0%B3%D1%80/

Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang, SST;
IMO Iran is being targeted at the behest of izzies who fear the Hezbollah and its (mostly Iranian supplied) rocket forces. Would taking out Iran would neutralize this threat? Perhaps not before Hezbollah uses what it has. Another angle is the Russian position. W/o a grand bargain w/ Putin, an attack on Iran would probably not achieve desired aims. Could such a deal be successfully negotiated? Would Ukraine-where the ukronazis are now using ballistic missiles against population centers- be part of the bargain?
Perilous times for the world.
Ishmael Zechariah

Jack

Sir

Wall St's heads I win, tails you lose proposition can easily be managed with a simple rule that officers and directors have their personal net worth in first loss position.

Dodd-Frank is an excellent example of DC sausage. Complex legislation with loopholes designed for TBTF. Since its enactment the TBTF have got bigger while the number of regional & community banks have shrunk. As other correspondents have noted the TBTF have paid billions in fines for everything from price fixing to money laundering and outright consumer fraud in between. They epitomize the two-tier application of the law. One for the privileged and one for everyone else.

Trump was always going to be friendly towards them due to his Manhattan RE business ties. But no different than Hillary or our past presidents.

Rocketpreuner is correct that the stock market is rather expensive in terms of certain metrics. On a Price/Sales ratio being more expensive than 2000. Valuation however provides no timing value. This time however it is not obvious where the next financial crisis will come from, unlike the previous episode when it was rather apparent the leveraged mortgage finance and products structured around that would unravel. The next crisis of that magnitude, IMO, will be when a market runs away from central banks. And they are unable to control it as their credibility of unlimited balance sheet has been shot. Markets I keep an eye out are sovereign debt and currency.

FB Ali

Flynn and Harvey "are not concerned with Iranian casualties", but I hope they have some awareness of what the whole ME blowing up might mean for the US (as b and Nuff Sed have written above).

A US air and sea attack on Iran will not just mean war between the two countries, but will destabilize the whole area. US troops (and HQs) in the area will be targetted and severely affected, as will US interests there.

The best hope is that Trump will stick to his policy of concentrating on the US and not getting involved in foreign adventures.

Jackrabbit

Dodd-Frank made TBTF worse.

Regulatory barriers support entrenched incumbents.

And Dodd-Frank didn't end bailouts. Instead of govt bailouts, D-F allows for bail-ins via measures authorized by the Financial Stability Oversight Counsel.

<> <> <> <> <>

Not surprising that D-F was created by the Wall Street-friendly Obama Administration (don't forget Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's "foaming the runway for the banks").

Cold War Zoomie

"This would not be a ground war involving many of Trump's constituents..."

I'm still wondering about Hadi Al-Amiri in Iraq. One might guess that he could mobilize the popular anger against Trump's EO after we are no longer needed in Mosul even though Haider al-Abadi chose not to enforce the nonbinding retaliation passed by parliament.

But then there's this...

"PM Abadi stated during a press conference that U.S. President Donald Trump assured Iraq of his support 'at all levels' and that the Trump Administration promised to 'double U.S. support for Iraq, not just continue it.'"

http://www.css.ethz.ch/en/services/digital-library/articles/article.html/d710a611-6d68-471e-ba9e-779f419d9135

Yes, it's from the ISW crowd but one thing I've learned here at SST is to evaluate the content regardless of the source!

robt willmann

Ghostship,

Here is the video of Trump with Bill O'Reilly when Trump replies to B.O.'s statement that Putin is a killer--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDdkpKm_xsA

B.O.: Putin's a killer. Trump: Lot of killers. Got a lot of killers. Why [What], you think our country's so innocent?

steve

The CRA accounted for less than 7% of loans. The large, large majority of loans that went bad were higher priced loans than the CRA would cause.

They are also pushing to do away with the fiduciary rule. Now your financial adviser can put his interests ahead of yours, legally. Poor Bernie Madoff should have waited until Trump was in office.

Steve

steve

Trying to emulate Libya? That worked well.

Steve

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