US equity futures were muted and flat on the last trading day of the month and quarter, fading a modest overnight gain as the underlying index headed for its first quarterly decline in two years on worries about surging inflation, hawkish monetary policy and an economic slowdown. Contracts on the S&P 500 were down 0.1% at 730 a.m. ET while Dow futures were little changed and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.2%, while European stocks fell, heading for the first quarterly decline since 2020. Asian equities retreated on lackluster Chinese PMI data and regulatory concerns. Treasuries held gains with the 10Y yield dropping to 2.31% (from 2.50% earlier this week when the 2s10s inverted) and the dollar ticked up against almost all G-10 peers. Fed watchers will be focused on the PCE deflator, which may have sped up in February.
The big overnight action was in oil, which plunged following the news late on Wednesday that the White House was (again) mulling a plan to release roughly a million barrels a day from reserves to combat crashing Democrat approval rating ahead of the midterms as a result of soaring gasoline prices coupled with supply shortages in response to US sanctions of Russia. The proposal, which includes 180 million barrels being freed over several months, may help the market rebalance this year but won't solve a structural deficit, Goldman said.
The reserve release news came just hours ahead of an OPEC+ supply meeting, where the cartel is expected to stick with its strategy of a modest output boost in May.
Equities globally are poised for their worst quarter since the early days of the pandemic on concerns about tightening monetary policy, red-hot inflation and a looming recession. While stocks remained resilient to the historic rout in bond markets this month, some strategists see little room for them to rally this year, partly as high costs threaten corporate profits. French inflation accelerated more than expected to reach another record, following unexpectedly high readings on Wednesday from Germany and Spain.
“Our base case now is for only modest upside for stocks,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, adding that he expects the S&P 500 to end the year at 4,700, about 2% higher than current levels. He also trimmed his estimate for global earnings growth to 8% from 10% for 2022.
“Aside from quarter-end considerations, oil is very much the center of attention,” Simon Ballard, chief economist at First Abu Dhabi Bank, wrote in a note to investors. Still, “all the usual suspects are still in play, keeping the market in check, including the specter of the Fed pursuing an aggressive path of monetary policy normalization over the coming months.”
Elsewhere, officials from Ukraine and Russia are set to resume talks via video conference on Friday, according to a Ukrainian negotiator, though there was no immediate confirmation from Moscow. Friday’s video discussions between Ukraine and Russia would follow in-person talks this week in Turkey that didn’t produce a short-term cease-fire or major progress toward a broader peace deal. Ukraine’s negotiator said the hope was to have enough agreed on paper in another week to be able to move toward a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Going back to the US market, shares in big U.S. energy companies slumped in premarket trading along with crude prices drop (Exxon Mobil -1.9% and Chevron -1.5% premarket, Occidental Petroleum -2.6%, Gran Tierra Energy -3.1%, Imperial Petroleum -3.8%, Camber Energy -4.3%). Bank stocks are also lower putting them on track to fall for a second straight day as the U.S. 10-year yield falls to 2.31%. Goldman Sachs warned that stagflation could make bank stocks less profitable. U.S.-listed Chinese stocks slipped in premarket trading as Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler dialed down prospects of an imminent deal to allow Chinese firms to keep trading on American exchanges. Russian equities advanced as the nation partly lifted the short-selling ban on local stocks on Thursday, removing one of the measures that helped limit the declines in the market after a record long shutdown. Other notable premarket movers include:
- Vipshop ADRs (VIPS US) rise 8.4% in premarket trading after the Chinese online retailer announces a $1b share buyback plan.
- Robinhood Markets (HOOD US) shares rise 1.4% in U.S. premarket trading, set to extend the previous day’s 24% gains after the online brokerage announced plans to expand the trading day by four hours, while Morgan Stanley begins coverage of the stock with an equal-weight rating.
- Energy companies decline in premarket trading as crude prices drop. The U.S. is considering tapping its reserves again in a potentially massive release aimed at managing inflation and supply shortages. Exxon Mobil (XOM US) -1.9%, Chevron -1.5% (CVX US).
- U.S.-listed Chinese stocks are heading for a lower open after Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler dialed down prospects of an imminent deal to allow Chinese firms to keep trading on American exchanges. Alibaba (BABA US) fell 1.7% in premarket, while its e-commerce rival JD.com (JD US) lost 2.8%.
- Advanced Micro Devices (AMD US) shares fall 1.3% in U.S. premarket trading, after the semiconductor maker is downgraded to equal- weight from overweight at Barclays, which says that the growth story “needs a pause.”.
- IZEA Worldwide (IZEA US) shares surge 27% in U.S. premarket trading after the influencer marketing company reported fourth-quarter earnings and saw total revenue increase 62% to a record of $10.3m.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 reversed initial gains and dropped 0.3%, the Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.2%, and other major indexes trade flat to slightly lower with retailers, telecoms and energy the worst performing sectors. Retail and telecom stocks led declines while utilities and insurance sectors outperformed. Some notable premarket movers:
- Brewin Dolphin shares rise as much as 62% and trade slightly below the agreed bid for the firm from RBC Wealth Management. The transaction, being carried out at a high premium, highlights the attractiveness of the U.K. wealth sector, analysts say.
- Orpea shares climb to their highest level in almost 2 months after Societe Generale says that allegations of mistreatment at its facilities are likely to have “limited” financial impact.
- Fresenius SE shares rise as much as 3.3% on news that the company’s Kabi intravenous drug unit has bought a majority stake in mAbxience SL and acquired Ivenix.
- Pernod Ricard shares rise as much as 2.6% as Citi says 3Q sales are likely to beat expectations, also lifting its which lifts EPS estimates and PT, as well as opening a positive catalyst watch.
- Tate & Lyle shares gain as much as 3.7% after saying it would buy Quantum Hi-Tech, a prebiotic dietary fiber business in China. The deal enhances Tate & Lyle’s portfolio, Goodbody says.
- Pearson shares rise as much as 3.5%, rebounding from Wednesday’s losses after private equity firm Apollo Global Management said it won’t make an offer for the education publisher.
Earlier in the session, Chinese data and regulatory concerns weighed on Asia stocks. China's NBS manufacturing PMI declined to 49.5 in March from 50.2 in February, missing estimates, likely due to Covid-related restrictions and geopolitical tensions. The output sub-index in the NBS manufacturing PMI survey fell by 0.9 points in March, and the new orders sub-index fell by 1.9 points. The NBS non-manufacturing PMI fell to 48.4 in March from 51.6 in February, also missing expectations, and entirely driven by the decline of services sector due to recent Covid outbreaks in multiple provinces. Separately, Bloomberg reported that Chinese authorities are considering a plan to raise several hundred billion yuan for a new fund to backstop troubled financial firms.
Asian stocks retreated after a two-day advance, as the U.S. securities regulator’s tough stance on a potential delisting of Chinese firms and weak China manufacturing data worried investors. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined as much as 0.8%, and was poised to finish its worst quarterly performance in two years, with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Tencent among the biggest drags. Benchmarks in Hong Kong and China underperformed regional peers. Japanese equities headed for a second day of declines while Australia stocks retreated after seven straight day of gains in response to a stimulatory federal budget. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s chief said Chinese firms need to fully comply with audit requirements in order to stay on American exchanges. Meantime, China’s manufacturing contracted in March, underscoring the growing toll of lockdowns. Investors are also watching how a tumble in oil prices can alleviate inflation risks and affect corporate earnings.
“If you look at the PMIs there’s an obvious explanation for why PMIs are weak, which is China pursuing zero-Covid strategy,” Kieran Calder, head of Asia Equity Research at Union Bancaire Privee, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “The reality of Covid-19 versus the response in China, the mismatch is too strong right now and I think that’s the biggest worry for us.” For the quarter, Asian stocks were poised for nearly a 7% loss, the worst performance since early 2020 when the emergence of the pandemic shocked investors. Investors had to grapple with a U.S. rate hike, a war in Ukraine and continued regulatory risks out of China, which caused huge volatility
Japanese equities fell for a second day following a rally in the yen. Electronics makers and banks were the biggest drags on the Topix, which fell 1.1%. Recruit and SoftBank were the largest contributors to a 0.7% loss in the Nikkei 225. The yen was little changed after gaining 1.6% against the dollar over the previous two sessions. Both key gauges still capped their first monthly gains of the year. The Nikkei 225 rose 4.9% in March, the most since November 2020, while the Topix climbed 3.2% on the month.
India’s benchmark equity index clocked its best monthly advance since August, as buying by local funds amid war-induced volatility supported sentiment. The S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.2% to 58,568.51 in Mumbai, trimming its gain for March to 4.1%. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also slipped 0.2% on Thursday. Stocks swung between gains and losses several times during the day ahead of the expiry of monthly derivative contracts Thursday. Institutional investors in India have bought $5 billion worth of shares this month, while foreign investors are set to extend their selling to a sixth consecutive month. Reliance Industries Ltd. was the biggest drag on the 30-share Sensex, which saw an equal number of shares closing up and down. Twelve of the 19 sectoral indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. gained, led by a gauge of telecom stocks. S&P BSE Healthcare Index was the worst performing sub-index. “Markets took a breather on a monthly expiry day and ended the last day of the financial year on a flat note,” said Ajit Mishra, vice president of research at Religare Broking Ltd. “We reiterate our positive yet cautious stance citing lingering geopolitical tension between Russia-Ukraine and its impact on the global markets.”
In rates, Treasuries extended this week’s rally with yields richer by up to 5bp across belly of the curve, which continues to outperform vs wings. Wider bull-steepening move grips bunds and gilts, as central-bank rate-hike premium is pared. Oil futures are sharply lower, weighing on energy stocks, following reports that Biden is considering a massive release of crude from U.S. reserves to fight inflation. The 10-year yield was around 2.31%, richer by ~4bp vs Wednesday’s close, underperforming bunds in the sector by ~4bp while keeping pace with gilts. Long-end swap spreads are sharply tighter, with 30- year dropping as low as -19.5bp.
Euro-area, bonds extended their advance as money markets pare central bank tightening wagers. French bonds underperformed bunds as EU-harmonized CPI rose 5.1% from a year ago in March -- the most since the data series began in 1997 -- and above the 4.9% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists. The belly of the German curve richened 6-7bps, leading gains. Peripheral spreads are mixed: Italy tightens, Portugal and Spain widen to core. Money markets trim rate hike pricing.
Japanese government bonds extended their advance as the central bank’s aggressive bond purchases this week reassured players that an excessive rise in yields won’t be tolerated. Yen was little changed in choppy trade. Bank of Japan’s offer to buy an unlimited amount of 10-year government bonds at fixed yields recorded no takeup, the central bank said.
In FX, Bloomberg dollar spot index snapped two days of losses after rebounding in early European session; the dollar advanced versus all of its Group-of-10 peers and commodity currencies were the worst performers. The euro gave up earlier gains after earlier touching a four-week high versus the greenback. Norway’s krone slumped by as much as 1.6% versus the greenback after the central bank announced a ramp-up of FX purchases on behalf of the government. The pound declined for a third day against the euro, touching its weakest level versus the common currency since Dec. 23. A report from the British Retail Consortium gave another glimpse into the cost-of-living crisis, showing prices in U.K. shops rose in March at the fastest annual pace since September 2011. Japan’s factory output eked out its first gain in three months in February, offering only a tepid sign of resilience amid fears the economy has slipped back into reverse. Production inched up 0.1% from the previous month. The Australian dollar declined against most of its Group-of-10 peers as oil prices tumbled on news that the Biden administration is weighing a massive release of crude from U.S. reserves. Sales of Aussie back into euro have seen option-related Australian dollar bids attached to large option strikes get filled, according to Asia-based currency traders
In commodities, crude futures hold Asia’s losses triggered by reports that the White House may make an announcement on the U.S. oil reserve release as soon as Thursday. WTI drops over $6.50 near $101.10. European natural gas faded an initial drop after Germany signaled Russia is softening its demand for ruble payments. Precious metals and much of the base metals complex traded heavy.
Looking to the day ahead now, data releases include German retail sales for February and unemployment for March, French and Italian CPI for March, and the Euro Area unemployment rate for February. From the US, there’s also February’s personal income and personal spending, the weekly initial jobless claims, and the MNI Chicago PMI for March. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB Vice President de Guindos, Chief Economist Lane, and New York Fed President Williams.
- S&P 500 futures up 0.1% to 4,601.75
- STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 459.49
- MXAP down 0.7% to 180.37
- MXAPJ down 0.6% to 591.98
- Nikkei down 0.7% to 27,821.43
- Topix down 1.1% to 1,946.40
- Hang Seng Index down 1.1% to 21,996.85
- Shanghai Composite down 0.4% to 3,252.20
- Sensex down 0.2% to 58,590.32
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.2% to 7,499.59
- Kospi up 0.4% to 2,757.65
- German 10Y yield little changed at 0.62%
- Euro down 0.3% to $1.1130
- Brent Futures down 3.6% to $109.40/bbl
- Gold spot down 0.4% to $1,924.94
- U.S. Dollar Index up 0.24% to 98.03
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
- The Biden administration is weighing a plan to release roughly a million barrels of oil a day from U.S. reserves, for several months, to combat rising gasoline prices and supply shortages following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter
- Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is determined to stick with targeting long-term bond yields near zero, even as it leaves him increasingly at variance with global peers and propels a depreciating exchange rate
- The yen has taken a beating in recent weeks but technicals suggest that it may be on the road to a recovery. Japan’s currency may rebound to 116 per dollar in the coming months after sliding as low as 125.09 on Monday, the weakest in almost seven years, an analysis by Bloomberg shows
- Russian President Vladimir Putin said that European buyers could continue making gas payments in euros, according to a German readout of a call he had with Chancellor Olaf Scholz
- Russian government bondholders would be left with no viable path to recover their money if the country defaults, according to one of the top global lawyers in sovereign debt litigation
- Hungary kept its key interest rate unchanged after the forint staged the second-biggest emerging-market currency rally this week, relieving pressure on policy makers to deliver more monetary tightening
- China’s cabinet vowed to stabilize the economy and called on officials to avoid measures that harm market expectations as the government struggles to control Covid outbreaks across the country including in the financial center of Shanghai
- For the first time in more than a decade, China’s yield advantage over Treasuries may be erased. The yield spread between the benchmark bonds of the world’s two biggest debt markets has narrowed to around 40 basis points from 150 a year ago, well below the People’s Bank of China’s “comfortable” range
- Australia will invest more to find new buyers for its exports in an effort to ease trade dependence on China, its treasurer said, in the face of “economic coercion” from Beijing that shows little sign of abating
A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk
Asia=Pac stocks traded cautiously at month-end following the weak lead from the US due to increased Russia-Ukraine scepticism and as the region digested disappointing Chinese PMI data. ASX 200 was kept afloat by outperformance in the mining and materials industries although upside was capped as the tech sector suffered from profit-taking and with energy hit by a drop in oil prices. Nikkei 225 traded indecisively amid a choppy currency and after Industrial Production data missed forecasts. Hang Seng and were subdued following the weak Chinese PMI data and with the mood inShanghai Comp. stocks not helped by the US SEC chief casting doubt regarding an imminent deal to avert a delisting of Chinese stocks.
Top Asian News
- Thirteen-Hour Power Cuts Get Sri Lanka to Shorten Stock Trading
- Effissimo Would Tender Toshiba Shares in Event of Bain Bid
- BOJ Looks Ready for a Victory Lap With Yields on the Retreat
- BOJ Boosts Bond Buying in April-to-June Quarter
European equities (Eurostoxx 50 -0.3%) kicked the final trading session of the month off on the front foot before drifting towards the unchanged mark. Sectors in Europe exhibit a mostly positive tilt with airline names cheering the declines in the energy space as the Energy sector suffers. The biggest laggard in the region is the retail section following a disappointing Q1 update from H&M (-8%). Futures in the US are modestly firmer as the NQ (+0.5%) marginally outpaces the ES (+0.1%) with inflation set to continue to remain in focus today, with the release of US PCE metrics for March; core PCE is seen rising to 5.5% Y/Y
Top European News
- Iron Ore Futures Advance as Outlook for Demand Brightens
- Sorrell’s S4 Capital Audit Delay No Longer Down to Covid
- EU Commission Confirms Raids in Germany’s Natural Gas Sector
- Pearson Shares Rebound; Barclays Sees a ‘Resilient Business’
In FX, Dollar finds its feet as month, quarter and fiscal year end approach, albeit with a helping hand from others - DXY back on the 98.000 handle, narrowly. Commodity currencies reverse course alongside underlying prices, with crude crushed on reports of US SPR and IEA opening reserve taps - Usd-Cad rebounds through 1.2500 after sliding to new y-t-d low sub-1.2450 only yesterday. Yen choppy amidst residual repatriation flows and more BoJ action to cap JGB yields - Usd/Jpy circa 122.00 within a 122.45-121.35 range. Euro fades into 1.1200 vs Buck again as option expiries and tech resistance impinge, but Aussie may derive traction from expiry interest at 0.7500 - EURUSD now eyeing support at 1.1100 after tripping stops.
In commodities, WTI and Brent remain firmly on the backfoot in the wake of reports suggesting that the Biden administration is considering a 'massive' SPR release.
- The news has sent May’22 WTI and Jun’22 Brent to respective lows of USD 100.53/bbl and USD 107.39/bbl to leave them a few dollars above their weekly lows of USD 98.44/bbl and USD 102.19/bbl respectively.
- US President Biden's administration is considering a 'massive' release of oil to combat inflation and may release up to 1mln bpd for months from the strategic reserve in which the total release could be 180mln , according to Bloomberg.bbls
- Goldman Sachs says a potentially large SPR release would ease the situation but wouldn't resolve the structural deficit in the oil market. Says adjustments for SPR release, Iran supply delays would lower H2 22 Brent forecast by USD 15, to USD 120/bbl - still above market forwards.
- US President Biden will deliver remarks today at 13:30EDT/18:30BST regarding the administration's actions to reduce gas prices in the US, according to the White House. It was also reported that the US mulls permitting, according to Reuters sources.summertime sales of higher ethanol blends of gasoline to ease pump prices
- IEA called an emergency ministerial meeting for Friday, according to the Australian Energy Minister's office. It was later reported that , according to New Zealand'sIEA countries are to decide on a collective oil release Energy Minister's office
- OPEC+ JTC replaced IEA reports with Wood Mackenzie and Rystad Energy as secondary sources to assess crude oil output and conformity, according to sources cited by Reuters.
In fixed income, bonds on track to see out extremely bearish month, quarter and end to FY on a firmer note. Curves more even after wild swings between flattening, inversion and steepening.BoJ ramps efforts to maintain YCC via a mostly larger JGB buying remit for Q2.
US Event Calendar
- 08:30: March Initial Jobless Claims, est. 196,000, prior 187,000
- 08:30: Feb. Personal Income, est. 0.5%, prior 0%
- 08:30: Feb. Personal Spending, est. 0.5%, prior 2.1%; Real Personal Spending, est. -0.2%, prior 1.5%
- 08:30: Feb. PCE Deflator MoM, est. 0.6%, prior 0.6%; PCE Deflator YoY, est. 6.4%, prior 6.1%
- 08:30: Feb. PCE Core Deflator MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 0.5%; YoY, est. 5.5%, prior 5.2%
- 09:45: March MNI Chicago PMI, est. 57.0, prior 56.3
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
After a great deal of optimism in markets on Tuesday following the Russia-Ukraine negotiations in Turkey, the last 24 hours have proven to be much more negative as investor hopes for a de-escalation in Ukraine were dampened by more gloomy comments on the war from both sides. From Russia, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that they hadn’t seen a breakthrough in the talks, whilst Ukrainian President Zelensky said that “Russia is deploying new forces on our terrain to try to continue destroying us”, and NATO leaders continued to strike a sceptical tone. Indeed, it was reported by Dow Jones that the European Commission was considering new sanctions against additional Russian banks, and UK Prime Minister Johnson said that the UK was “looking at going up a gear” in its support to Ukraine. President Biden expressed similar sentiments, pledging $500 million of additional aid to Ukraine in a call with President Zelensky.
Against this backdrop, oil prices rose again for the first time this week, with Brent Crude up +2.92% to $113.45/bbl, but there’s been a sharp turnaround overnight on the back of news that the US are planning a major release from their reserves, with Bloomberg reporting it would be a million barrels a day over several months. Biden is due to speak about efforts to lower prices at 1:30pm Eastern, so all eyes will be on that, and overnight we’ve seen Brent Crude prices come down by -4.54% to $108.30/bbl, more than reversing their gains from the previous session. However, European natural gas (+9.77%) rose for a third consecutive session to €118.97/MWh, which is its highest closing level in nearly 3 weeks. That occurred amidst a continued dispute about Russian gas payments, which President Putin wants paid for in rubles, but which multiple European countries have rejected as a breach of contract. In response, Germany’s economy minister Robert Habeck activated the “early warning phase” of an emergency law, which could eventually lead to gas rationing if supplies fall short.
With Russia’s invasion having lasted for over 5 weeks now, we’re increasingly seeing the impact reflected in the official inflation numbers, and yesterday’s releases out of Europe gave fresh life to the bond selloff. In terms of the numbers, German inflation rose to +7.6% in March on the EU-harmonised measure, which was up from +5.5% back in February and some way above the +6.8% reading expected by the consensus. It was the same story in Spain, where inflation rose to +9.8% (up from +7.6% in February), which will heighten interest in tomorrow’s flash release for the entire Euro Area. In turn, that’s led to growing expectations of ECB rate hikes this year, with a total of 63bps being priced in by the December meeting, which is the most we’ve seen to date. On top of that, more than 30bps are even being priced in by the September meeting, which surpasses their pre-invasion peak.
Given the strong inflation numbers and the prospect of a more aggressive ECB, European bonds sold off across most of the continent, with yields on 10yr bunds (+1.3bps), OATs (+2.3bps) and BTPs (+1.3bps) all hitting fresh multi-year highs. Furthermore, the 2yr German yield (+5.6bps) closed in positive territory for the first time since 2014, having briefly got there on an intraday basis during the previous session. Unsurprisingly, the latest rise in yields was driven by higher inflation breakevens rather than real rates, and the 10yr German breakeven surged another +6.0bps to 2.71%, its highest level in data available back to 2009, whilst the Italian breakeven rose +4.0bps to 2.53%, its highest level since 2008.
Even as European bonds were selling off once again, it was the reverse story in the United States, where Treasuries recovered somewhat yesterday as we come to the end of one of their worst quarterly performances in decades. Yields on 10yr Treasuries fell -4.6bps to 2.35%, whilst yield curves remained incredibly flat; the 2s10s curve steepened marginally by +1.3bps to 3.6bps, avoiding another inversion, and this morning is up another +0.3bps to 3.9bps.
In terms of other developments this morning, Asian equity markets have followed Wall Street’s lead overnight with the Nikkei (-0.18%), Hang Seng (-0.59%), Shanghai Composite (-0.14%), CSI (-0.26%) all losing ground, though the Kospi (+0.54%) is the exception to this pattern. The weakness in Asian gauges has come amidst declines in the PMI data, with China’s manufacturing PMI down to 49.5, and the non-manufacturing PMI down to 48.4. For reference, that’s the first time that both readings have been below the 50-mark that separates expansion from contraction since February 2020, and comes as multiple cities are undergoing further lockdowns in response to the current Covid outbreak. Additionally, a slide in Chinese tech stocks is weighing on sentiment after the US Securities and Exchange Commission added Hong Kong listed Baidu Inc. to its long list of companies potentially facing delisting from US exchanges. Outside of Asia, stock futures in the US and Europe are pointing to a more positive start, with contracts on the S&P 500 (+0.28%), Nasdaq (+0.56%) and DAX (+0.59%) all trading higher.
Those equity declines overnight in Asia follow a broader decline in risk appetite yesterday given the more negative geopolitical developments, and both the S&P 500 (-0.63%) and Europe’s STOXX 600 (-0.41%) unwound some of their gains from the previous day. More cyclical industries underperformed in general, whilst the German DAX (-1.45%) also put in a weaker performance relative to the other main European indices. The VIX Index of volatility (+0.43pts) also ticked up to 19.33pts, after closing at to its lowest level since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Tuesday.
In France, we’re now just 10 days away from the first round of the presidential election, and there are continued signs of a narrowing in the polls, albeit with President Macron still in the lead. In terms of yesterday’s polls (from Opinionway, Harris, Ipsos, Ifop and Elabe), all of them pointed to a repeat of the second-round contest from 2017, with the first-round polling putting President Macron in first place followed by Marine Le Pen in second. That said, they’re also implying a noticeably tighter result in the second round than Macron’s 66%-34% victory against Le Pen in 2017. Looking through the numbers, the second round estimates ranged from a 55%-45% Macron victory (from Opinionway and Ipsos), to a 52.5%-47.5% Macron victory (from Elabe).
Finally on yesterday’s other data, the ADP’s report of private payrolls from the US showed growth of +455k in March (vs. +450k expected). That comes ahead of tomorrow’s jobs report, where our US economists are expecting nonfarm payrolls to have grown by +400k, with the unemployment rate ticking down to a post-pandemic low of 3.7%.
To the day ahead now, and data releases include German retail sales for February and unemployment for March, French and Italian CPI for March, and the Euro Area unemployment rate for February. From the US, there’s also February’s personal income and personal spending, the weekly initial jobless claims, and the MNI Chicago PMI for March. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB Vice President de Guindos, Chief Economist Lane, and New York Fed President Williams.
Escobar: Russia-China Partnership Defangs US Empire
Escobar: Russia-China Partnership Defangs US Empire
Authored by Pepe Escobar,
China’s State Council has released a crucial policy paper…
China’s State Council has released a crucial policy paper titled 'A Global Community of Shared Future: China’s Proposals and Actions' that should be read as a detailed, comprehensive road map for a peaceful, multipolar future.
That is if the hegemon - of course faithful to its configuration as War Inc. - does not drag the world into the abyss of a hybrid-turned-hot war with incandescent consequences.
In sync with the ever-evolving Russia-China strategic partnership, the white paper notes how “President Xi Jinping first raised the vision of a global community of shared future when addressing the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 2013.”
That was ten years ago, when the New Silk Roads – or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) - was launched: that became the overarching foreign policy concept of the Xi era. The Belt and Road Forum next month in Beijing will celebrate the 10th anniversary of BRI, and relaunch a series of BRI projects.
“Community of Shared Future” is a concept virtually ignored across the collective West – and in several cases lost in translation across the East. The white paper’s ambition is to introduce “the theoretical base, practice and development of a global community of shared future.”
The five key points include building partnerships “in which countries treat each other as equals”; a fair and just security environment; “inclusive development”; inter-civilization exchanges; and “an ecosystem that puts Mother Nature and green development first," as Xi detailed at the 2015 UN General Assembly.
The white paper forcefully debunks the “Thucydides Trap” fallacy: “There is no iron law that dictates that a rising power will inevitably seek hegemony. This assumption represents typical hegemonic thinking and is grounded in memories of catastrophic wars between hegemonic powers in the past.”
While criticizing the “zero-sum game” to which “certain countries” still cling to, China completely aligns with the Global South/global majority, as in “the common interests of all peoples around the world. When the world thrives, China thrives, and vice versa.”
Well, that’s not exactly the “rules-based international order” in play.
It’s All About Harmony
When it comes to building a new system of international relations, China prioritizes “extensive consultation” among equals and “the principle of sovereign equality” that “runs through the UN Charter.” History and realpolitik, though, dictate that some countries are more equal than others.
This white paper comes from the political leadership of a civilization-state. Thus it naturally promotes the “increase of inter-civilization exchanges to promote harmony” while elegantly remarking how a “fine traditional culture epitomizes the essence of the Chinese civilization.”
Here we see a delicate blend of Taoism and Confucianism, where harmony – praised as “the core concept of Chinese culture” - is extrapolated to the concept of “harmony within diversity”: and that is exactly the basis for embracing cultural diversity.
In terms of promoting a dialogue of civilizations, these paragraphs are particularly relevant:
“The concept of a global community of shared future reflects the common interests of all civilizations – peace, development, unity, coexistence, and win-win cooperation. A Russian proverb holds, 'Together we can weather the storm.'
"The Swiss-German writer Hermann Hesse proposed, 'Serve not war and destruction, but peace and reconciliation.' A German proverb reads, 'An individual’s effort is addition; a team’s effort is multiplication.' An African proverb states, 'One single pillar is not sufficient to build a house.' An Arabian proverb asserts, 'If you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk together.'
"Mexican poet Alfonso Reyes wrote, 'The only way to be profitably national is to be generously universal.' An Indonesian proverb says, 'Sugarcane and lemongrass grow in dense clumps.' A Mongolian proverb concludes, 'Neighbors are connected at heart and share a common destiny.' All the above narratives manifest the profound cultural and intellectual essence of the world.”
BRI Caravan Rolls On
Chinese diplomacy has been very vocal on the need to develop a “new type of economic globalization” and engage in “peaceful development” and true multilateralism.
And that brings us inevitably to the BRI, which the white paper defines as “a vivid example of building a global community of shared future, and a global public good and cooperation platform provided by China to the world.”
Of course, for the hegemon and its collective West vassals, BRI is nothing but a massive debt trap mechanism unleashed by “autocrat China”.
The white paper notes, factually, how “more than three-quarters of countries in the world and over 30 international organizations” had joined the BRI, and refers to the sprawling, ever-expanding connectivity framework of six corridors, six routes, an array of ports, pipelines and cyberspace connectivity, among others via the New Eurasian Land Bridge, the China-Europe Railway Express (a “steel camel fleet”) and the New Land-Sea Trade Corridor crisscrossing Eurasia.
A serious problem may involve China’s Global Development Initiative, whose fundamental aim, according to Beijing, is “to accelerate the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Well, this agenda has been designed by the self-described Davos elites and conceptualized way back in 1992 by Rockefeller protégé Maurice Strong. Its inbuilt wet dream is to enforce the Great Reset – complete with a nonsensical zero-carbon green agenda.
Better Listen to Medvedev’s Warning
The hegemon is already preparing the next stages of its hybrid war against China – even as it remains buried deep down into a de facto proxy hot war against Russia in Ukraine.
Russian strategic policy, in essence, completely aligns with the Chinese white paper, proposing a Greater Eurasian Partnership, a concerted drive towards multipolarity, and the primacy of the Global South/global majority in forging a new system of international relations.
But the Straussian neocon psychos in charge of the hegemon’s foreign policy keep raising the stakes. So it’s no wonder that after the recent attack on the HQ of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, a new National Security Council report leads to an ominous warning by Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev:
“NATO has turned into an openly fascist bloc similar to Hitler’s Axis, only bigger (...) It looks like Russia is being left with little choice other than a direct conflict with NATO (...) The result would be much heavier losses for humanity than in 1945."
The Russian Ministry of Defense, meanwhile, has revealed that Ukraine has suffered a staggering 83,000 battlefield deaths since the start of the - failed - counteroffensive four months ago.
And Defense Minister Shoigu all but gave away the game in terms of the long-term strategy, when he said, “the consistent implementation of measures and activity plans until 2025 will allow us to achieve our goals."
So the SMO will not be rounded up before 2025 – incidentally, much later than the next US presidential election. After all, Moscow’s ultimate aim is de-NATOization.
Faced with a cosmic NATO humiliation on the battlefield, the Biden combo has no way out: even if it declared a unilateral ceasefire to re-weaponize Kiev’s forces for a new counteroffensive in the spring/summer of 2024, the war would keep rumbling on all the way to the presidential election.
There’s absolutely no way some sharp intellect in the Beltway would read the Chinese white paper and be “infected” by the concept of harmony. Under the yoke of Straussian neocon psychos, there are zero prospects for a détente with Russia – not to mention Russia-China.
Both the Chinese and Russian leaderships know quite well how the Ray McGovern-defined MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex) works.
The kinetic aspect of MICIMATT is all about protection of the global interests of big US banks, investment/hedge funds and multinational corporations. It’s not a coincidence that MICIMATT monster Lockheed-Martin is mostly owned by Vanguard, BlackRock and State Street. NATO is essentially a mafia protection racket controlled by the US and the UK that has nothing to do with “defending” Europe from the “Russian threat."
The actual MICIMATT and its NATO extension’s wet dream is to weaken and dismember Russia to control its immense natural resources.
War Against the New 'Axis of Evil'
NATO’s incoming graphic humiliation in Ukraine is now compounded with the inexorable rise of BRICS 11 – which embodies a lethal threat to the hegemon’s geoeconomics. There’s next to nothing the MICIMATT can do about that short of nuclear war – except turbo-charging multiple instances of Hybrid War, color revolutions and assorted divide-and-rule schemes. What’s at stake is no less than a complete implosion of neoliberalism.
The Russia-China strategic partnership of true sovereigns has been coordinating full-time.
Strategic patience is the norm. The white paper reveals the magnanimous facet of the number one economy in the world by PPP: that’s China’s response to the infantile notion of “de-risking”.
China is “de-risking” geopolitically when it comes to not falling for serial provocations by the Hegemon, while Russia exercises Taoist-style control to not risk a kinetic war.
Still, what Medvedev just said carries the implication that the hegemon on desperation row could even be tempted to launch WWIII against, in fact, a new “axis of evil” of three BRICS nations – Russia, China and Iran.
Secretary of the [Russian] National Security Council Nikolai Patrushev could not have been more crystal clear:
“In its attempts to maintain its dominance, the West itself destroyed the tools that worked better for it than the military machine. These are freedom of movement of goods and services, transport and logistics corridors, a unified system of payments, global division of labor and value chains. As a result, Westerners are shutting themselves off from the rest of the world at a rapid pace.”
If only they could join the community of shared future – hopefully on a later, non-nuclear, date.
“More Deceit”: Gaetz Rages Over McCarthy-Ukraine Side Deal To Pass Stopgap
"More Deceit": Gaetz Rages Over McCarthy-Ukraine Side Deal To Pass Stopgap
Update (2155ET): Following the Senate’s passage of the Continuing…
Update (2155ET): Following the Senate's passage of the Continuing Resolution, Rep. Matt Gaetz took to Twitter, where he was enraged over a side deal made between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the Democrats for Ukraine funding, which Gaetz says he "didn't tell House Republicans" about until after the vote.
Gaetz was responding to Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman, who related a message from House Democratic leadership.
"When the House returns, we expect Speaker McCarthy to advance a bill to the House Floor for an up-or-down vote that supports Ukraine, consistent with his commitment to making sure that Vladimir Putin, Russia and authoritarianism are defeated. We must stand with the Ukrainian people until victory is won."
Nine Senate Republicans voted against the bill; Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) and J.D Vance (R-Ohio).
* * *
Update (2109ET): The Senate has voted 88-9 to pass the House's Continuing Resolution stopgap funding bill, which stripped out funds for Ukraine, includes $16 billion for disaster relief, and will keep the US government running for another 45 days.
Among the Senate "Yea" votes was Michael Bennet (D-CO), who was absolutely flipping his lid over the lack of Ukraine funding earlier in the day.
The bill, which passed the House earlier in the day by a bipartisan vote of 335-91, was passed with just three hours to go before a shutdown.
Just before the vote, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) vowed to keep fighting for more US taxpayer dollars for Ukraine, saying that he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have "agreed to continue fighting for more economic and security aid for Ukraine."
"We support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereignty against Putin’s aggression," said Schumer - to which McConnell said he's "confident" that the Senate can pass more "urgent assistance to Ukraine later this year. But let's be clear," that the "alternative," a shutdown, "would not just pause our progress on these important priorities, it would actually set them back."
Schumer: “McConnell and I have agreed to continue fighting for more economic and security aid for Ukraine.”— Greg Price (@greg_price11) October 1, 2023
* * *
Update (1755ET): After an afternoon of theatrics from Rep. Jamal Bowman (D-NY), it appears that the stopgap legislation to keep the government running through November 17 will now pass at the 11th hour.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the bill to keep the government funded past 12:01 Sunday includes $16 billion in disaster relief, but does not include Ukraine funds.
The House voted 335-91 for the funding measure, which includes $16 billion in disaster relief but omits aid for Ukraine. It also excludes border-security measures sought by Republicans. The margin exceeded the two-thirds majority needed to clear the bill through the House, which considered the legislation under special procedures requiring a supermajority of votes. All but one Democrat voted in favor of the measure, while nearly half of Republicans voted against it. -WSJ
While White House officials say President Biden supports the measure, the Senate has reportedly been lax in quickly taking up the measure late Saturday, raising the possibility of further malarkey.
* * *
(Update 1655ET): So let's get this straight. In the home stretch of negotiations over the House's GOP stopgap bill - while Democrats were actively trying to stall the vote so they could actually read it - a widely reported phenomenon, Rep. Jamal Bowman (D-NY) pulls the fire extinguisher.
His excuse is that he wasn't actually trying to stall the the vote, and that he's essentially an idiot...
"Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote. The Congressman regrets any confusion," said a spokesperson.
Yes. Because this happens all the time.
MSNBC breathlessly repeats the Simple Jack defense.
Yasmin Vossoughian, with a straight face, reports on the fire alarm pulling "'Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote, the congressman regrets any confusion,' just to clarify some things on that." pic.twitter.com/8TbAk5ni71— Alex Christy (@alexchristy17) September 30, 2023
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy capitalized on the incident, comparing Bowman to a January 6th insurrectionist.
New: McCarthy compares Bowman to J6ers who were charged with ‘obstruction’ pic.twitter.com/VYEHYMW2Z5— Jack Poso ???????? (@JackPosobiec) September 30, 2023
I'm about to flush the toilet. pic.twitter.com/jCTsXzt2vP— Rep. Mike Collins (@RepMikeCollins) September 30, 2023
As we noted below... Bowman used to be a public school principal before he was elected to Congress, who rallied against standardized testing, at a private school he founded that has a 27% literacy rate, so... maybe?
Then again, he would be no stranger to fire drills, no?
???? Congressman Bowman regularly brags about his years as a teacher and principal. He's from a state that requires TWELVE fire drills per school year.— Ginny Gentles (@ginnygentles) September 30, 2023
The man knows exactly how fire alarms work. https://t.co/d7XWGoe2K7 pic.twitter.com/smWPceXRk1
* * *
House before the House finally approved a 'clean' stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown (which has since been sent to the Senate for consideration before the midnight funding deadline), Socialist Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) was caught pulling the fire alarm in a House office building Saturday in order to try and delay a vote on ta House GOP stopgap spending bill.
???????????? BREAKING: Insurrectionist Democrat Rep. Jamaal Bowman has been CAUGHT ON-CAMERA pulling the Capitol fire alarm seconds before critical vote to keep government open.— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) September 30, 2023
Violation of 1512(c)(2) obstruction of an official proceeding.
ARREST & Prosecute Rep. Bowman IMMEDIATELY! pic.twitter.com/3m883RB88A
The incident in the Cannon Building was caught on camera and confirmed by several witnesses, Politico reports.
"This is the United States Congress, not a New York City high school. To pull the fire alarm to disrupt proceedings when we are trying to draft legislation to AVERT A SHUTDOWN is pathetic…even for members of the socialist squad," Staten Island GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
BREAKING: Capitol police release photo of Jamaal Bowman pulling the fire alarm. pic.twitter.com/XpUoEu9lU4— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 30, 2023
"Rep Jamaal Bowman pulled a fire alarm in Cannon this morning," House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil wrote on X. "An investigation into why it was pulled is underway."
NEWS: Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) was caught on camera pulling the Cannon fire alarm ahead of this motion to adjourn vote as Dems tried to delay the CR vote, multiple sources tell me.— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) September 30, 2023
We have reached out to him for comment - we haven't viewed footage ourselves.
According to Bowman spox Emma Simon, "Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote. The Congressman regrets any confusion."
In other words, he's claiming to be too stupid to have known what he did - and don't believe your lying eyes!
Needless to say, the memes are already flying.
Meanwhile, the House cleared the 'clean' stopgap bill without funding for Ukraine or the border, by a vote of 335-91. One Democrat and 90 Republicans voted against the measure.
* * *
Update: (1335ET): With a government shutdown just hours away, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has turned to Democrats for help passing a temporary bill, after House Freedom Caucus members dug their heels in over no funds for Ukraine.
"What I am asking, Republicans and Democrats alike, put your partisanship away," said McCarthy. "Focus on the American public."
McCarthy needs a two-thirds majority to pass their Continuing Resolution (CR), which would require a significant number of Democrats - who have strongly supported more Ukraine aid - to cross the aisle.
The House GOP bill would be a 'clean' Continuing Resolution, which won't include Ukraine funding or border assistance.
"We will put a clean funding stopgap on the floor to keep government open for 45 days for the House and Senate to get their work done," said McCarthy following a meeting. "We will also, knowing what had transpired through the summer, the disasters in Florida, the horrendous fire in Hawaii, and also the disasters in California and Vermont. We will put the supplemental portion that the president asked for in disaster there too."
"Keeping the government open while we continue to do our work to end the wasteful spending and the wokeism and most important, secure our border," McCarthy said.
If the bill does not pass, Republicans plan to bring up several measures to mitigate the effects of a government shutdown, multiple members said.
Those include bills to continue paying service members and extending authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration and National Flood Insurance Program, both of which are also set to expire at midnight unless Congress takes action. Republicans are also examining measures to continue pay for border patrol agents. -The Hill
The Democrats, meanwhile, have been using parliamentary tactics to slow down the vote so they can more carefully read the GOP proposal.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), one of the key holdouts in the House, called McCarthy's bipartisan appeal "disappointing," and said that McCarthy's speakership is "on tenuous ground."
When asked what his next move will be, Gaetz said "I guess we'll have to see how the vote goes."
According to Goldman, there's a 90% probability of a shutdown before the Oct. 1 deadline.
That said, there will be three upcoming catalysts in the next few weeks that may result in passage.
1) All members of the US military are due to be paid on Oct. 13, and a missed pay date would have serious political ramifications; there is a good chance the House will vote to reopen before or shortly after that date;
2) A few House Republicans have said they might bring a “motion to vacate” that would remove McCarthy as Speaker unless a majority of the House supports him. Whatever the outcome of such a vote, getting past it could set the stage for a reopening;
3) There are procedural moves (a “discharge petition” is the most frequently discussed) that Democrats can make to pass an extension of spending authority in the House over Speaker McCarthy’s objections. However, this would require support from at least 5 House Republicans (assuming that all Democrats sign on). This will not help avoid a shutdown, but could come into play over the next two weeks, as political pressure to reopen grows (particularly when combined with the first point on military pay).
In light of the above, Goldman doesn't expect this to last more than 2-3 weeks, and that the Oct. 13 military pay date will become a focal point in the timeline.
* * *
Update (2157ET): It looks like the Senate isn't willing to strip Ukraine funds from the continuing resolution. In a Friday night tweet, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that the "misguided Senate bill has no path forward and is dead on arrival."
After meeting with House Republicans this evening, it’s clear the misguided Senate bill has no path forward and is dead on arrival.— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) September 30, 2023
The House will continue to work around the clock to keep government open and prioritize the needs of the American people.
Meanwhile, according to Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman and Josh Bresnahan, McCarthy is floating a CR that would last until Nov. 17 at FY2023 funding levels, which would not include border funds or Ukraine funding.
* * *
In an 11th hour Hail Mary in the hopes of averting a government shutdown, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced that the only way the House will pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through October is to drop Ukraine funding.
"I think if we had a clean one without Ukraine on it, we could probably be able to move that through," McCarthy told CNN's Manu Raju.
The comment comes hours after McCarthy lost a game of chicken with the House Freedom Caucus, failing to pass a CR which left McCarthy will few options to try and avert a shutdown in less than 36 hours. McCarthy was hoping that the House bill's border security provisions would win over enough holdouts to pass.
Meanwhile, the White House slammed the failed bill over the 'elimination of 12,000 FBI agents,' and 'almost 1,000 ATF agents.'
White House budget director:— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 29, 2023
Republicans’ bill “would eliminate 12,000 FBI agents, almost 1,000 ATF agents!” pic.twitter.com/y5ymbTIDYM
Of note, House Republicans on Thursday narrowly passed the annual defense spending bill, but only after they removed $300 million in Ukraine aid from the legislation (which then cleared in a separate vote because a bunch of Democrats then voted).
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who failed twice last week to advance the bill to the floor, finally locked down enough Republican votes to pass the bill after the House stripped $300 million to arm Ukraine from the text.
The separate bill carved out to allocate those funds for Kyiv passed Thursday in a 311-117 blowout bipartisan vote. Republicans had won a close procedural vote earlier in the day to separate the Ukraine money from the Pentagon bill, a move meant to flip a handful of GOP holdouts. -Politico
Democrats framed the optics as Kremlin-friendly, with House Armed Services ranking Democrat Adam Smith saying "The Russians are good at propaganda... It will be played as America backing off of its commitment for Ukraine."
Republicans responded that by carving Ukraine out of the defense bill, it allows opponents of either measure (Ukraine aid or the defense bill) to voice their opinions on each independently.
"Why don’t we make sure this gets through? I mean, I’m just mystified that this is somehow a problem," said House Rules Chair Tom Cole (R-OK), according to Politico. "We guarantee you something you want is going to pass the House and you’re upset about it."
And now, McCarthy says there's no way to avert a government shutdown unless the House, and the Senate, agree to nix Ukraine aid from the 30-day stopgap.
Fire and Brimstone...
On Friday, White House top economic adviser Lael Brainard said that a shutdown would pose an "unnecessary risk" to what he described as a resilient economy with moderating inflation.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen then chimed in, warning that all of Bidenomics could be negatively impacted.
"The failure of House Republicans to act responsibly would hurt American families and cause economic headwinds that could undermine the progress we’re making," Yellen said from Port of Savannah, Georgia, adding "A shutdown would impact many key government functions from loans to farmers and small businesses, to food and workplace safety inspections, to Head Start programs for children.
"And it could delay major infrastructure improvements."
Goldman has predicted that a shutdown will last 2-3 weeks, and that a 'quick reopening looks unlikely as political positions become more deeply entrenched.' Instead, as political pressure to reopen the government builds, pay dates for active-duty military (Oct. 13 and Nov. 1) will become key dates to pay attention to.
In addition, they think a shutdown could subtract 0.2pp from Q4 GDP growth for each week it lasts (adding the same to 1Q2024, assuming it's over by then).
What's more, all data releases from federal agencies would be postponed until after the government reopens.
More via Goldman:
What are the odds the government shuts down?
A shutdown this year has looked likely for several months, and we now think the odds have risen to 90%. The most likely scenario in our view is that funding will lapse after Sep. 30, leading to a shutdown starting Oct. 1. That said, a short-term extension cannot be entirely ruled out. In the event that Congress avoids a shutdown starting Oct. 1, we would still expect a shutdown at some point later in Q4.
While there is likely sufficient support in both chambers of Congress to pass a short-term extension of funding—this is known as a “continuing resolution” (CR)—that is “clean” with no other provisions attached, the majority of that support would come from Democrats. The Senate is considering a CR that includes aid for disaster relief and Ukraine. House Republican leaders are under political pressure to pass a CR that includes Republican policy priorities that can pass with mainly or exclusively Republican support. At the moment, neither chamber looks likely to pass the other chamber's CR.
The outlook seemed bleak ahead of the debt limit deadline earlier this year, but Congress resolved it in time; why shouldn’t we expect a last-minute deal once again?
The smaller economic hit from a shutdown puts less pressure on Republican leaders to override the objections of some in their party to reach a deal. Ahead of the debt limit deadline earlier this year, Republican leaders reached a deal over the objections of some in their party because the potential hit to the economy from an impasse would have been unpredictable and severe, and even lawmakers most strongly opposed to a compromise agreed that the debt limit must be raised. By contrast, the economic hit from a shutdown would be smaller and more predictable, as there have already been two protracted shutdowns over the last decade. While most lawmakers on both sides of the aisle would prefer to avoid a shutdown, both sides appear more willing to take the chance it occurs.
* * *
A Climate Of Fear
A Climate Of Fear
Authored by James Gorrie via The Epoch Times,
The medical, media, and political elites’ focus has shifted from facts…
The medical, media, and political elites’ focus has shifted from facts to fomenting and magnifying fear.
In Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address in 1933, the new president told a nation in the depths of the Great Depression that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Those words were true and rightfully spoken at that time. Roosevelt knew that fear is a powerful emotion that limits our ability to reason, act wisely, and work together. It’s also an emotion that’s contagious and not easily diminished or dissipated.
The Power of Fear to Fragment Society
Unfortunately, Roosevelt’s words are even more applicable today.
On a personal level, decisions made under the emotional duress of fear are rarely the best ones and often the worst. Fear can bring out the best in us, but can often bring out the worst. That’s more likely to occur the more fragmented a society becomes. Fear among different groups of people creates an us-versus-them context in the minds of individuals, or even an “every-man-for-himself” attitude, which pits one group against another or even each of us against each other.
Now elevate that sense of fear to the level of the national electorate. A people or a nation that's paralyzed with fear makes rash decisions based on their fears of what could happen, not necessarily what the current situation truly is. When that happens, a society can quickly degenerate, where our base instincts determine our behavior in a law-of-the-jungle social environment.
Roosevelt knew this, as do our leaders today. The difference is that today, rather than seeking to dispel fear, our political and media elites create it, expand it, and revel in it. Rather than promote hope and strength of character in us, in a Roosevelt- or even a Reagan-like fashion, they traffic in fear and its fellow traveler social division in order to fragment our society.
It’s the old but effective divide-and-conquer strategy, and sadly, it works far too well. The mechanism for divide and conquer is the constant drumbeat of the Big Lie, which is also a tried and true method for controlling society. It was first practiced and perfected by Joseph Goebbels in Nazi Germany using the mass media, but has been successfully used by the USSR and every other communist and dictatorial regime in the world since the 1930s.
Social Media Is Magnitudes More Powerful Than Legacy Media
The difference today is the massive and pervasive presence of social media. Its reach and social saturation throughout society are magnitudes greater than have ever been possible before. What’s more, our political and media elites create and exaggerate fear without even mentioning the word. “Fear” is driven into our collective psyches under the guise of our government keeping us “safe,” while demonizing anyone who challenges that narrative.
The repetition by the media and the pharmaceutical industry of how to stay safe from COVID-19 always involves more drugs and less freedom. That’s by design. The elites that run society know that once enough of our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and others with whom we interact become more fearful than rational, they’re easily manipulated and divided into confrontational groups.
Does that sound like a conspiracy theory?
Yes, it probably does, but it’s also how the Stasi, the East German security agency, turned virtually every neighbor into an informant. The result was that people were fearful of doing anything that could be construed as being against the communist East German government. In light of what we’ve been through the last three years—and what looks to be on the horizon—the conspiracy theory accusation has lost its sting.
From Conspiracy Theory to Fact
Recall, for example, how those who received the COVID-19 vaccine turned against those who remained unvaccinated. The contrast and social division couldn’t have been clearer or more deliberate. Vaccinated people were characterized by the media and government agency spokespeople as selfless, smarter, and better human beings than those who refused the vaccine.
On the flip side, the “anti-vaxxers,” as they came to be called, were publicly derided by the medical, pharmaceutical, media, and government elites. They were accused of being low-intelligence conspiracy theory nuts who wouldn’t or couldn’t “follow the science,” even when they followed the science from experts such as Robert Malone, one of the inventors of the mRNA technology, and other medical doctors in Europe and Asia, including former Pfizer Vice President Dr. Michael Yeadon, all of whom were de-platformed from mainstream media and social media.
In fact, any “alternative” remedy to the experimental and highly dangerous mRNA vaccines, such as ivermectin, was summarily dismissed, even though nations that used ivermectin had the lowest mortality rates. As noted above, many media personalities and even medical experts with contrary opinions were silenced, shamed, and shunted into professional oblivion, being substituted by compliant replacements. That practice continues to this day, with Russell Brand being the latest example of being de-monetized by YouTube.
In light of vaccine injuries and deaths, and the staggering profits that vaccines have delivered to the pharmaceutical industry, the number of people who believe the mainstream media, the government, and in the vaccines, is much smaller today than three years ago.
Conspiracy theory narratives have become conspiracy facts.
The Endgame of Fear
So, what’s the endgame of promoting and enforcing a climate of fear throughout society?
It’s simple. Fearful people are far more compliant and, therefore, are easily controlled, pacified, monitored, and dehumanized. Next thing you know, we’ll all be eating bugs and liking it.
The antidote to fear, of course, is freedom and access to real and contrary information so that each person can make up his or her own mind. The encouragement, enablement, and empowerment of private individuals to exercise informed judgment about their health and their livelihoods are also part of the solution. A vibrant, thinking, and active society of informed individuals isn't nearly as vulnerable to the polarizing climate of fear our elites are foisting upon us.
In short, to live in fear is to live in bondage.
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