Xi Has $3.65 Trillion Fiscal War Chest to Counter Trump Tariffs

Xi Has $3.65 Trillion Fiscal War Chest to Counter Trump Tariffs (Source Bloomberg)

Beijing’s main defense against trade-war fallout this year is more likely to come from the finance ministry than the central bank, no matter what President Donald Trump says. If tariffs begin to really hurt China’s growth this year, there’s plenty of direct fiscal firepower left to stoke the economy before the People’s Bank of China would have to cut interest rates, according to an analysis of government spending by Bloomberg. Data released Wednesday showed an across-the-board slowdown in April. Central and local authorities in China have at least 25.1 trillion yuan ($3.65 trillion) unspent in their budgets this year, data compiled using official budget plans show. That’s two trillion yuan more than the ammunition China had in the same period last year — and about equivalent to the entire annual output of Germany. “Chinese leaders will be able to better utilize different kinds of policy tools than their U.S. counterparts if the trade war persists, and that’s where China’s confidence comes from,” said Serena Zhou, an economist at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd in Hong Kong. “From monetary policy and fiscal policy to the dominant role of the state-owned enterprises, China’s control on the economy is obviously stronger than the U.S.,” she said.

China and Russia are waging a “shadow war” against U.S. and we’re not fighting back, author says

China and Russia are waging a “shadow war” against U.S. and we’re not fighting back, author says(Source cbsnews.com) President Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Japan next month amid an escalation of what author and national security expert Jim Sciutto calls a new type of warfare. His new book, “The Shadow War: Inside Russia’s and China’s Secret Operations to Defeat America,” highlights tactics he says both countries use to attack the U.S. and its allies, but fall below the threshold of starting a shooting war. Sciutto told “CBS This Morning” that the U.S. isn’t doing enough about it. “It’s a war they’re waging, Russia and China are waging on the U.S., and we’re not fighting back. “I think Americans are aware of some of the fronts of the war, certainly election interference, which continues, but they’re not aware of others … Russia and China have both put weapons in space: Lasers, kamikaze satellites. Kidnapper satellites. China has developed a satellite that can grab other satellites out of orbit. These are satellites we depend on for the way we live every day of our lives, GPS, et cetera, but also the military does, crucially.”

Sciutto, a CNN national security correspondent and anchor, also highlighted a “new great game” playing out under the waves with submarines.

“Submarines are quieter, they’re getting closer to U.S. shores. That’s a way to project nuclear power without warning right up to the U.S. homeland – multi-front war,” he said.

China, Sciutto said, is trying to surpass the U.S. as a world superpower – and they’re not shy about it. It’s something they’ve made clear in both public speeches as well as in national security documents.

FARMAGEDDON LOOMS: ONLY 30% OF US CORN FIELDS HAVE BEEN PLANTED, 5 YEAR AVERAGE

FARMAGEDDON LOOMS: ONLY 30% OF US CORN FIELDS HAVE BEEN PLANTED, 5 YEAR AVERAGE IS 66%(Source Zero Hedge)

2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry.  Thanks to endless rain and unprecedented flooding, fields all over the middle part of the country are absolutely soaked right now, and this has prevented many farmers from getting their crops in the ground.  I knew that this was a problem, but when I heard that only 30 percent of U.S. corn fields had been planted as of Sunday, I had a really hard time believing it.  But it turns out that number is 1005 accurate.  And at this point corn farmers are up against a wall because crop insurance final planting dates have either already passed or are coming up very quickly.  In addition, for every day after May 15th that corn is not in the ground, farmers lose approximately 2% of their yield.  Unfortunately, more rain is on the way, and it looks like thousands of corn farmers will not be able to plant corn at all this year.  It is no exaggeration to say that what we are facing is a true national catastrophe.

This Is What a Chinese Nuclear War Against America Would Look Like

This Is What a Chinese Nuclear War Against America Would Look Like (Source The National Interest)

Let’s hope that these are just academic discussions in the Chinese context and do not reflect actual weapons under development. When one reads enough Chinese naval literature, diagrams of multi-axial cruise missile saturation attacks against aircraft carrier groups may begin to seem normal. However, one particular graphic from the October 2015 issue  of the naval journal Naval & Merchant Ships. stands out as both unusual and singularly disturbing. It purports to map the impact of a Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strike by twenty nuclear-armed rockets against the United States. Targets include the biggest cities on the East and West Coasts, as well as in the Midwest, as one would expect. Giant radiation plumes cover much of the country and the estimate in the caption holds that the strike “would yield perhaps 50 million people killed”. The map below that graphic on the same page illustrates the optimal aim point for a hit on New York City with a “blast wave” that vaporizes all of Manhattan and well beyond.

Rabbits, sharks, whales, and bees — species are threatened with extinction in New England (Source bostonglobe.com) Scientists sounded the alarm on the sad state and frightening future of the natural world in a report saying extinction looms for more than 1 million species of plants and animals worldwide. There are endangered species in our own backyard, here in New England. Biologists at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, maintain a detailed online database of threatened species, known as the “Red List.” So far they’ve only studied a small fraction of the Earth’s 8 million species. But already, they’ve found more than 27,000 species are threatened with extinction out of nearly 100,000 examined in depth. In New England, there are eight “critically-endangered” species, including a type of turtle, two kinds of bees, as well as several trees and other plants. More turtles, including the wood turtle, and bees are on the list of 18 “endangered” species in our region, along with the North Atlantic right whale, a species of mussel, a type of beetle, a type of bat, and two types of fish called skates, which resemble stingrays. Another 33 species that can be found in New England are considered “vulnerable,” including types of sharks, the New England cottontail rabbit, the American horseshoe crab, and a species of seahorse. And then there are 37 more species in our region that are considered “near threatened” — more sharks, skates, fish, turtles, bats, plants, fungi, mussels, and a type of snail.

N. Korea fires 2 suspected missiles in possible new warning

N. Korea fires 2 suspected missiles in possible new warning (Source Associated Press)

North Korea fired two suspected short-range missiles toward the sea on Thursday, South Korean officials said, its second weapons launch in five days and a possible warning that nuclear disarmament talks with Washington could be in danger.

The latest launches came as U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun visited South Korea, and hours after the North described its firing of rocket artillery and an apparent short-range ballistic missile on Saturday as a regular and defensive military exercise. North Korea also ridiculed South Korea for criticizing those launches. U.S. President Donald Trump said he was not happy about North Korea’s recent military tests. Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday that “we’re looking” at the situation “very seriously right now.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged North Korea to refrain from actions that could impede diplomacy. In an interview with the KBS television network, Moon also said Seoul will explore various options to help revive the talks, including providing food aid to the North and pushing for his fourth summit with Kim.

‘We are shooting ourselves in the foot’: Business groups, farmers urge Trump not to slap new tariffs on China

‘We are shooting ourselves in the foot’: Business groups, farmers urge Trump not to slap new tariffs on China (Source usatoday.com)

Businesses support the administration’s efforts to secure “a meaningful trade deal” with China, “and we want to see concessions from China to remedy its unfair trade practices,” French said.

But, “we remain concerned that we are shooting ourselves in the foot by big new taxes on Americans,” he said. The U.S. and China have been negotiating for months and appeared close to striking a new trade deal, but the Trump administration accused the Chinese of backing out of some of its commitments, prompting Trump to issue his threat on Sunday.

Trump said he would increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%. He also threatened a 25% tariff on an additional $325 billion of imported goods. China threatened to retaliate by slapping tariffs on U.S. goods if Trump follows through with his threat. The tariffs could result in 2.1 million job losses and cost the average American family $2,300 if they remain in place for up to three years, said Laura Baughman, president of The Trade Partnership, an economic analysis firm based in Washington.

4 B-52s deploying to Middle East amid threat of “possible attack”

4 B-52s deploying to Middle East amid threat of “possible attack” (Source cbsnews.com)

Four B-52 bombers are being deployed to the Middle East in response to what administration officials said earlier this week are threats of a possible attack by Iran or allied fighters on American troops in the region. White House national security adviser John Bolton said that the U.S. was deploying a bomber task force and the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the U.S. Central Command region, an area that includes the Middle East. Bolton said the movement was in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.” He didn’t provide details, but said the U.S. wants to send a “clear and unmistakable” message to Iran that “unrelenting force” would meet any attack on U.S. interests or those of its allies. “The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” he said.

Central Banks Are Ditching the Dollar for Gold

Central Banks Are Ditching the Dollar for Gold (Source Bloomberg) First-quarter gold purchases by central banks, led by Russia and China, were the highest in six years as countries diversify their assets away from the U.S. dollar. Global gold reserves rose 145.5 tons in the first quarter, a 68 percent increase from a year earlier, the World Gold Council said Thursday in a report. Russia remains the largest buyer as the nation reduces its U.S. Treasury holdings as part of a de-dollarization drive. “We’ve seen a continuation of the strong demand from central banks,” said Alistair Hewitt, head of market intelligence at the World Gold Council. “We’re expecting another good year for central bank purchases, although I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they are to match the level seen in 2018.” As well as regular buyers such as Kazakhstan and Turkey, the first quarter also saw Ecuador adding to its reserves for the first time since 2014, plus sizable purchases by Qatar and Colombia, the council said. The buyers are dominated by countries looking to reduce their dollar dependency, and are typically nations with a lower share of reserves in gold than Western European countries.

Venezuela thrust to forefront of US-Russia clashes

Venezuela thrust to forefront of US-Russia clashes(Source Associated Press) The crisis in Venezuela has been thrust to the top of a list of long-simmering spats between the United States and Russia, with both sides entrenched in diametrically opposed positions from which they are unwilling to retreat. Russia’s support for embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is refusing to cede power to U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, is just the latest of issues that have split Washington and Moscow. The dispute comes as relations between the Cold War foes have already been riven by Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, its military intervention on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad, its 2014 annexation of Crimea and continued backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine. And, even as President Donald Trump seeks better ties with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, his subordinates are stepping up criticism of Russia on these issues with a recent particular focus on Venezuela. Russia and Venezuela have a political, military and economic alliance that was cemented between Putin and the late President Hugo Chavez. The Russians have provided the South American nation with substantial assistance, including an air defense system and help circumventing U.S. sanctions on their oil industry, but insist the extent of their support has been exaggerated by American officials. Since the beginning of the week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton have repeatedly denounced Russia, along with Cuba, for aiding Maduro, whose re-election last year is viewed by the U.S. and more than 50 other nations as illegitimate because of fraud.

Putin signs off new law allowing Russia to cut off its internet from the rest of the world.

Putin signs off new law allowing Russia to cut off its internet from the rest of the world and paving the way for increased censorship (Source dailymail.co.uk) President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a ‘sovereign internet’ bill which will allow Russian authorities to isolate the country’s internet, a move decried by rights groups. Russian lawmakers insist the new law is necessary to ensure the security of Russia‘s online networks but critics say the vaguely worded bill gives new censorship powers to government monitors. The text of the law will not come into effect until November. The measures include creating technology to monitor internet routing and to steer Russian internet traffic away from foreign servers, ostensibly to prevent a foreign country from shutting it down.

The authors of the initiative say Russia must ensure the security of its networks after US President Donald Trump unveiled a new American cybersecurity strategy last year that said Russia had carried out cyber attacks with impunity.

Thousands of people recently rallied in Russia against this and other bills that critics say aim to restrict information and communication online.

Separately, Putin in March signed controversial laws that allow courts to fine and briefly jail people for showing disrespect towards authorities, and block media for publishing ‘fake news’.  

The laws are part of an ongoing Kremlin clampdown on media and internet freedoms that has seen people jailed for sharing humorous memes.