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S&P Futures Jittery, Nasdaq Surge Continues Ahead Of Fed Decision

S&P Futures Jittery, Nasdaq Surge Continues Ahead Of Fed Decision



S&P Futures Jittery, Nasdaq Surge Continues Ahead Of Fed Decision Tyler Durden Wed, 06/10/2020 - 08:13

For the second night in a row, US equity futures peaked overnight then slumped around the time Europe opened, sliding along European stocks as investors were spooked by a grim economic forecast by the OECD (it is unclear why bad news isn't good news in this case) ahead of what is expected to be another very dovish statement by the Fed, which pushed the dollar to the most oversold level since 2007.

The Fed will publish its first economic projections since the coronavirus pandemic set off a recession in February that ended a decade-long expansion. Investors will also look for any hints on yield curve control measures amid a recent surge in U.S. Treasury yields.  Investors will be looking for reassurance on the central bank’s willingness to keep providing extraordinary support for the economy. Policy makers may also comment on potentially targeting yields for some Treasury maturities. Markets are balancing that with the OECD’s assessment that the economic hit from the pandemic may be deeper than anticipated.

The Fed is also expected to mark the first step away from a complete focus on crisis prevention towards more traditional goals of providing accommodation to support the recovery. As part of this, economists expect that the Fed will announce an open-ended QE program consistent with monthly Treasury purchases of between $65bn and $85bn, while the statement should slightly enhance the commitment to keep rates low by stating that the FOMC will keep rates at current levels until the economy is “close to achieving the Fed’s dual mandate goals of full employment and price stability”.

“Markets have been cautious before the Fed meeting and technical indicators are stretched after the recent powerful rally,” Credit Agricole strategist Jean-Francois Paren wrote in a client note. “For now, it sounds like yield-curve control is the necessary condition for markets to further rally, but it may not be sufficient by itself as it also highlights the fragility of the system we are now living in.”

Some speculate that the Fed may even step in to tame the insane retail investor froth that has gripped the market, but we find that unlikely.

Prospects of even more Fed stimulus, together with optimism about a rebound in the economy, have driven stocks higher in recent weeks, with the Nasdaq notching a record closing high for the second straight session on Tuesday and the S&P 500 ending about 5% below its all-time peak. Of course, the untouchable Nasdaq 100 futures traded in the green all morning, with Apple, Facebook and all rising about 0.5% in premarket trading. Meanwhile as the momentum-to-value rotation reverses, oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron dropped about 1.5% each, as oil prices weakened after a rise in U.S. crude inventories raised concerns of oversupply. AMC Entertainment Holdings rose about 4% after the world’s largest theater operator said it expected to reopen its theaters globally in July.

Shortly after 5am ET, Europe's STOXX 600 Europe turned negative after climbing as much as 0.9% earlier, with travel and leisure and automakers leading losses among sectors. The Index dropped 0.1%, poised for the third consecutive session of declines. Sub-index tracking travel and leisure shares falls 1.3%, automakers down 1%. On the opposite end, personal and household goods advance 0.6%.

Earlier in the session,  Asian stocks gained, led by health care and communications, after rising in the last session. Markets in the region were mixed, with Taiwan's Taiex Index and India's S&P BSE Sensex Index rising, and Jakarta Composite and Shanghai Composite falling. The Topix declined 0.2%, with Land Co and Besterra falling the most. The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.4%, with Shanghai Fengyuzhu Culture and Technology Co Ltd and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise posting the biggest slides.

In rates, Treasury futures traded near highs of the day in early US session as stock futures pare gains; the long end was leading, continuing this week’s bull-flattening trend ahead of the FOMC decision, with futures volume about 60% of the 5-day average. Yields are lower by 1bp to 3bp across the curve with 2s10s flatter by 2bp, 5s30s by 0.5bp; 10-year yields richer by 3bp at 0.795%, with bunds cheaper by 2bp ahead of expected syndicated 30- and 20-year deals from Germany and Finland.

In FX, the dollar resumed its recent decline, dropping to the most oversold level since 2007. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell to a three-month low and the greenback slumped against all of its Group-of-10 peers ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting.

The euro resumed its March toward $1.14; the Bund curve bull flattened modestly as bunds underperformed Treasuries. The pound continued its lengthy ascent over the dollar thanks to a broad improvement in risk sentiment and plans to raise the pace of reopening the U.K. economy, while short-covering pushed it to modest gains on the euro. The Aussie rose and the yen was set for its biggest three- day gain since March against the dollar into the FOMC meeting.

WTI and Brent futures remain subdued in early mid-week trade as sentiment across the market erodes alongside a number of bearish narratives for the complex. Yesterday’s EIA STEO report cut 2020 world oil demand growth forecast by 120k BPD to 8.34mln BPD but noted it sees US crude output declining 670k BPD (vs. Prev. 540k BPD) this year. In-fitting with the global 2020 contraction viewpoint, OECD forecasts a 2020 contraction of 6.0%, whilst the scenario with a second wave sees global GDP -11.5%. Elsewhere, the weekly Private Inventory data also proved to add to the bearish bias with the headline having printed a surprise build of 8.4mln barrels vs.

Looking at the day ahead, the highlight is the aforementioned Fed decision. Otherwise, data releases include the US CPI reading for May and French industrial production for April. We’ll also hear from the ECB’s de Guindos, Schnabel, Muller and Knot, while the OECD will also be publishing their Economic Outlook.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 3,221.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.6% to 371.62
  • MXAP up 0.4% to 162.10
  • MXAPJ up 0.5% to 521.14
  • Nikkei up 0.2% to 23,124.95
  • Topix down 0.2% to 1,624.71
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.03% to 25,049.73
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.4% to 2,943.75
  • Sensex up 0.7% to 34,183.19
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.06% to 6,148.43
  • Kospi up 0.3% to 2,195.69
  • German 10Y yield fell 1.0 bps to -0.319%
  • Euro up 0.3% to $1.1372
  • Brent Futures down 1.6% to $40.52/bbl
  • Italian 10Y yield rose 13.8 bps to 1.372%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 0.9 bps to 0.646%
  • Brent Futures down 1.6% to $40.52/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,720.21
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.3% to 96.08

Top Overnight News

  • Investors are waiting to see if Fed officials discuss a possible return to the 1940s-era policy of yield-curve control
  • The top U.S. specilaist in infectious diseases called the coronavirus pandemic his “worst nightmare” and warned that the deadly outbreak is far from over
  • The ECB’s first three-month dollar swap allotment for $75.8 billion is set to mature on Thursday, making Wednesday’s operation the time to rollover. This accounts for over half of the total outstanding ECB swap lines
  • U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is being asked by members of the ruling Conservative party to take decades to pay off the record debt the country is racking up as it tries to weather the coronavirus pandemic
  • The global iron ore market may flip to a deficit if a virus-driven mine halt in Brazil persists and prices are now “on a knife edge,” UBS Group AG said in a warning that reflects a rising tide of concern over the suspension’s potential implications. Futures held above $100 a ton
  • China’s factory deflation deepened in May and consumer price gains slowed, signaling that the recovery isn’t yet strong enough to produce inflation pressures

Asian equity markets traded somewhat indecisively after the mostly negative lead from global peers amid cautiousness heading into the FOMC, which saw all major indices on Wall St stall aside from the Nasdaq as tech resilience boosted it briefly above the historic 10K milestone. ASX 200 (+0.1) declined at the open with Australia dragged by weakness in financials and energy but with the losses gradually pared amid gains in defensives and improved consumer sentiment, while Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) was also initially pressured due to a firmer currency and larger than expected contraction in Machine Orders before staging a rebound to take back the 23K level. Hang Seng (U/C) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.4%) were varied with Hong Kong lifted at the open after the government’s bailout of Cathay Pacific which saw the airline’s shares take-off at the open, while the mainland lagged from the get-go as participants digested a somewhat tepid PBoC liquidity operation and softer than expected Chinese inflation data. Furthermore, tensions also lingered in the background as the Global Times suggested China could restrict the use of Qualcomm chips in government entities and key sectors related to national security, while it may also conduct anti-monopoly investigations and impose tariffs on US firms. Finally, 10yr JGBs were choppy around 152.00 amid similar indecision seen in the regional stock markets and with prices failing to benefit from today’s Rinban announcement in which the BoJ were present in the market for JPY 800bln of JGBs heavily concentrated in the belly.

Top Asian News

  • Indonesian Stocks Slump Most in Five Weeks on Pandemic Concern
  • Architect of Japan’s Virus Strategy Sees Flaw in West’s Approach
  • China Protests Japan’s Plan For a G-7 Statement on Hong Kong

European equities have given up earlier gains and fall deeper into negative territory [Euro Stoxx 50 -0.8%] as stocks market failed to sustain the mostly positive APAC lead as players take some chips off the table ahead of some key risk events including the latest FOMC decision (full preview available on the newsquawk research suite) alongside the Eurogroup meeting later this week. News-flow has been light for the session but nonetheless bourses broadly post mild losses. Sectors are mostly in negative territory with more of an anti-cyclical bias and thus pointing to a more risk averse session. The detailed breakdown paints a picture in a similar vein and sees Travel & Leisure underperforming the region. In terms of individual movers, Spanish giant Inditex (+2.8%) erased earlier earning-induced downside of around 3% amid a jump in online sales. Commerzbank (+0.3%) holds its head above water but has waned off prior highs of c.3% which initially emanated from reports its second largest shareholder Cerberus (5% holding) demanded a fix-up of the group’s board. Shares thereafter drifted lower in tandem with yields. Elsewhere, Julius Baer (-1.5%) extended on losses amid reports the firm is facing another enforcement proceeding by FINMA over proper anti-money-laundering procedures.

Top European News

  • Swedes Finally Learn Who Shot Their Prime Minister Olof Palme
  • Frankie and Benny’s Owner to Close About 125 Restaurants
  • KKR Considers Minority Investment in Italy’s Open Fiber: MF

In FX, the Dollar continues to depreciate amidst increasingly bearish price action as the index falls further from early June recovery highs in a declining pattern of daily ranges. Indeed, after a couple of attempts to revisit 97.000+ post-NFP peaks, the DXY has faded on each occasion, and the latest effort to bounce fell short of 96.500 to leave the index precarious above the round number below and eyeing the FOMC for fresh direction. However, Fed expectations do not suggest much in the way of a reprieve for the Greenback even though the aforementioned US jobs data was encouraging in terms of hopes for a relatively speedy rebound from the deep COVID-19 depths of unemployment, with the economic outlook still shrouded in uncertainty and hardly helped by violent protests or renewed global trade tensions. From a technical perspective, nearest support for the DXY comes in at 95.914 (March 11 low), while resistance remains at 97.069 (Monday’s apex) and the current range is 96.460-057.

  • NZD/CHF/AUD - All vying for top G10 ranking, with the Kiwi firmly back above 0.6500 and not far from Tuesday’s best, while the Aussie is testing 0.7000 amidst reports of bids under the big figure from exporters and leverage accounts. Elsewhere, the Franc has forged more gains towards 0.9450 and 1.0750 vs the Euro, albeit still not cleanly or convincingly through the 200 DMA as the single currency maintains its bullish momentum against the Buck.
  • JPY/GBP/EUR/CAD - The next best majors in descending order, with Usd/Jpy extending its marked retreat from circa 109.85 last Friday through more apparent supports, including the 30 DMA (107.54) to expose the only real downside chart level left before 107.00, at 107.09 (May 29 reaction low). Similarly, if Cable can sustain a break above Fib resistance around 1.2778 then 1.2800 beckons ahead of 1.2849 (March 12 high) and a more meaningful technical trendline at 1.2860, while Eur/Usd is inching closer to its post-NFP pinnacle (1.1384), but may find 1.1400 protected by decent option expiry interest between 1.1390-95 (1.2 bn). Turning to Usd/Cad, 1.3400 is still proving pivotal as crude prices consolidate off post-OPEC+ peaks and the pair looks to US CPI data before the Fed for additional impetus in the absence of anything scheduled on the Canadian front.
  • SCANDI/EM - Waning risk sentiment and softer oil has thwarted another sub-10.5000 Eur/Nok move aided by firmer than expected Norwegian inflation metrics, while Eur/Sek has bounced from just shy of 10.4100 following further declines in Swedish household consumption and awaiting commentary from Riksbank Governor Ingves. Conversely, ongoing Dollar weakness has kept the HKMA active in defence of the currency peg and the Turkish Lira has derived traction from closer FX position monitoring by the CBRT rather than a fall in the jobless rate.

In commodities, WTI and Brent futures remain subdued in early mid-week trade as sentiment across the market erodes alongside a number of bearish narratives for the complex. Yesterday’s EIA STEO report cut 2020 world oil demand growth forecast by 120k BPD to 8.34mln BPD but noted it sees US crude output declining 670k BPD (vs. Prev. 540k BPD) this year. In-fitting with the global 2020 contraction viewpoint, OECD forecasts a 2020 contraction of 6.0%, whilst the scenario with a second wave sees global GDP -11.5%. Elsewhere, the weekly Private Inventory data also proved to add to the bearish bias with the headline having printed a surprise build of 8.4mln barrels vs. Expectations for a draw of 1.7mln. Meanwhile in Libya, production at the El-Sharara oil field (300k BPD) was reportedly shut-off again and the NOC later confirmed the continuation of a force majeure at the Sharara oil field. WTI July extends losses below USD 38/bbl (vs. high) and Brent August moves in tandem below USD 40.50/bbl (vs. high) as traders await the weekly EIA inventory data ahead of the FOMC rate decision. In terms of metals, spot gold ekes mild gains amid the risk-reversal from the APAC session coupled with a softer USD, but price action remains somewhat muted in anticipation of the Fed policy decision. Copper prices are underpinned by a weaker USD despite the deteriorating sentiment – Shanghai copper rose to near 20-week highs amid strong demand from China. Dalian iron meanwhile failed to benefit from the China demand as rising shipments from miners pressure prices.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: US CPI Ex Food and Energy MoM, est. 0.0%, prior -0.4%; CPI Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 1.3%, prior 1.4%
  • 8:30am: US CPI MoM, est. 0.0%, prior -0.8%; 8:30am: US CPI YoY, est. 0.3%, prior 0.3%
  • 8:30am: Real Avg Hourly Earning YoY, prior 7.5%; Real Avg Weekly Earnings YoY, prior 6.9%
  • 2pm: Monthly Budget Statement, est. $544.0b deficit, prior $207.8b deficit
  • 2pm: FOMC Rate Decision

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Today’s glance into my mundane world involves nearly being driven mad working from home by a radio station I discovered about 6 weeks ago. It’s an internet only one called “acoustic chill” and plays really nice mellow music to work along to on my Sonos. They don’t have adverts but every hour have a trailer that points you to their twitter page. I’ve got a sense of their potential audience by seeing they have 18 followers (including me). However late morning yesterday one of their songs got stuck and repeated the chorus line over and over again. It was very irritating. To cut a long story short I spent the afternoon repeatedly switching over and then back again to see if it was fixed. By the time I’d logged off at 7pm a small snippet of the chorus had been on a loop for over 7 hours. I suspect I may have been the only person in the world listening but it drove me crazy. Anyway, hopefully this morning it will be fixed and by mentioning the station I can at least double their audience.

I suspect the Fed will have a bigger audience today at the conclusion of their FOMC meeting and let’s hope they aren’t as stuck as acoustic chill radio. In their preview, our US economists write (link here) that they expect today’s meeting to mark the first step away from a complete focus on crisis prevention towards more traditional goals of providing accommodation to support the recovery. As part of this, they expect that the Fed will announce an open-ended QE program consistent with monthly Treasury purchases of between $65bn and $85bn, while the statement should slightly enhance the commitment to keep rates low by stating that the FOMC will keep rates at current levels until the economy is “close to achieving the Fed’s dual mandate goals of full employment and price stability”.

In terms of what else to look out for, the return of the quarterly Summary of Economic Projections will be a key highlight. This wasn’t released in March because of the difficulties in forecasting as the pandemic took hold. It will have the FOMC’s range of views on the path forward for growth, inflation and unemployment. In terms of the dot plot, our economists expect that all participants will project the fed funds target range to remain at its current level through 2021. Beyond that, a few may see lift-off in 2022 but they think the median dot will still be at current levels through the end of the forecast horizon in 2022.

Ahead of the Fed, there was an unwinding of investor risk appetite yesterday and a reversal of the recent catch-up trade that has been dominating over the last 1-2 weeks. By the end of the session, the S&P 500 was down -0.78%, its biggest setback in nearly 3 weeks, while the VIX index of volatility was up +1.76pts to a one-week high. This was in spite of tech stocks outperforming after a week or so of lagging, with the NASDAQ advancing +0.29% to reach a new record high. In fact, Information Technology and Communication Services (headlined by Google, Netflix and Facebook) were the only US sectors positive yesterday. Over in Europe, equities lagged behind the US after a good recent run, with the STOXX 600 down -1.22%. Banks certainly didn’t help, as the STOXX Banks index ended a run of 11 gains in the last 12 sessions to fall by -3.78%.

EU finance ministers met yesterday over video conference at the annual meeting of the EIB Board of Governors. While there was little new information, the meeting did highlight the differing viewpoints that will be negotiated at the European Council meeting later this month. The ministers discussed the overall size of the additional stimulus needed for the bloc, as well as what percent of those funds would be grants vs. loans. The other key topic discussed was whether conditions may be placed on the funds, and what they would be. German Finance Minister Scholz indicated that a €500bn fund would be a good outcome (note that the Commission has proposed €750bn), which would appear disappointing. The original Merkel-Macron announced plan was for €500bn, but it was fully in the form of grants, which is likely a non-starter.

Earlier in the day, Bloomberg reported that EU leaders could hold an emergency summit on the recovery fund on July 9-10. That would be in addition to an already planned European Council video conference on June 19 to discuss the matter. Meanwhile the Austrian finance minister said in a statement that the recovery fund’s size and shape wasn’t acceptable for the country.

Against this backdrop, sovereign debt sold off in Europe yesterday, with yields on 10yr bunds up +1.0bp, as the spread of Italian (+8.7bps) and Spanish (+7.9bps) 10yr yields over bunds saw a noticeable widening. Safe havens outperformed yesterday as equities pulled back, with the Japanese yen (+0.62% vs. USD) and the Swiss franc (+0.72%) the top two G10 currencies yesterday. This trend was seen elsewhere, with gold rallying by +0.99% and yields on 10yr treasuries falling by -5.0bps.

In terms of how Asia is trading this morning, it’s been another fairly mixed session with the Nikkei flat, and Shanghai Comp (-0.50%) down and the Hang Seng (+0.15%) and Kospi (+0.11%) both posting modest gains. Meanwhile, futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.46%. Elsewhere, WTI oil prices are down -1.87% overnight after a report from the American Petroleum Institute said that the US crude stockpiles rose by 8.42 million barrels last week. If confirmed by the EIA this would be the largest build since end of April. In terms of overnight data releases China’s May CPI printed at +2.4% yoy (vs. +2.7% yoy expected) while PPI came in at -3.7% yoy (vs. -3.3% yoy expected).

As mentioned at the top DB has recently become bearish on the dollar and on a related theme one of our FX Strategists, Robin Winkler, put out a report yesterday (link here ) highlighting the lack a of holistic reopening plan across US regions and how this could raise risks of a prolonged infection period. The analysis uses Rt, the effective transmission rate, to judge whether a second wave is imminent. If Rt is above 1, cases can grow exponentially, while when below 1, cases fall and the virus is suppressed. When aggregating state-level Rt estimates up to the national level, reopening since mid-April caused a fairly linear rise in the effective transmission rate with a 0.02 rise in Rt for every 10% reopened. That beta implies that a full reopening of the country from -25% mobility back to normal would take Rt to nearly 1.00, using Google mobility data. The problem with this analysis is that not all states are average, indeed some larger states like Texas and California have transmission rates far closer to 1 already, making their reopening more risky. 40% of the country may be able to get back to normal currently, mostly rural and lower infected regions, while the rest of the country would need to retain some degree of lockdown until transmission rates fall lower. Coordination would help with this issue, but this is unlikely during an election year as the issue of lockdowns has become partisan. According to transmission rates a coordinated response would likely reopen states that voted Democrat in the last Presidential election rather than Republican, and so the federal government may be less inclined to orchestrate. One of the best predictors of any given state's return from lockdown today is how the state voted in the 2016 election. Given the inability to close state borders, a lack of coordination means that reopening plans for some states may be drawn out for longer or alternatively open those states up to a second wave. See the full report for more.

In terms of yesterday’s data, the number of US job openings in April fell to a lower-than-expected 5.046m (vs. 5.750m expected), which is the lowest number since December 2014. Meanwhile the quits rate, which is the number who are voluntarily leaving their job as a share of the labour force, fell to a 9-year low of 1.4%. However, the NFIB small business optimism index for May did rise to 94.4 (vs. 92.5 expected). In German data, April exports fell by -25.0% month/month (vs. -15.6% expected and -11.7% last month), and down -31.1% on a year/year basis. This was the largest one month change in the data series going back to 1950. Finally, there was a slight positive revision to the Euro Area’s economic contraction in Q1, with the decline revised down to -3.6% (vs. -3.8% previously).

To the day ahead now with the aforementioned Federal Reserve decision and Chair Powell’s subsequent press conference likely to be the highlight. Otherwise, data releases include the US CPI reading for May and French industrial production for April. We’ll also hear from the ECB’s de Guindos, Schnabel, Muller and Knot, while the OECD will also be publishing their Economic Outlook.

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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…



Escobar: Russia-China Partnership Defangs US Empire

Authored by Pepe Escobar,

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.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 23:30

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“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…



"More Deceit": Gaetz Rages Over McCarthy-Ukraine Side Deal To Pass Stopgap

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."

*  *  *

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.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy capitalized on the incident, comparing Bowman to a January 6th insurrectionist.

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?

*  *  *

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.

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.

"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."

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!

Granted, 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...

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."

What's next?

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."

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.'

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.

*  *  *

Stay tuned...

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 17:57

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These Are The World’s Top Diamond-Mining Countries, By Carats & Value

These Are The World’s Top Diamond-Mining Countries, By Carats & Value

Only 22 countries in the world engage in rough diamond production…



These Are The World's Top Diamond-Mining Countries, By Carats & Value

Only 22 countries in the world engage in rough diamond production - also known as uncut, raw or natural diamonds - mining for them from deposits within their territories.

This chart, by Visual Capitalist's Pallavi Rao and Sam Parker illustrates the leaders in rough diamond production by weight and value. It uses data from Kimberly Process (an international certification organization) along with estimates by Dr. Ashok Damarupurshad, a precious metals and diamond specialist in South Africa.

ℹ️ Carat is the unit of measurement for the physical weight of diamonds. One carat equals 0.200 grams, which means it takes over 2,265 carats to equal 1 pound.

Rough Diamond Production, By Weight

Russia takes the top spot as the world’s largest rough diamond producer, mining close to 42 million carats in 2022, well ahead of its peers.

Russia’s large lead over second-place Botswana (24.8 million carats) and third-ranked Canada (16.2 million carats) indicates that the country’s diamond production is circumventing sanctions due to the difficulties in tracing a diamond’s origin.

Here’s a quick breakdown of rough diamond production in the world.

Rank Country Rough Diamond
Production (Carats)
1 ???????? Russia 41,923,910
2 ???????? Botswana 24,752,967
3 ???????? Canada 16,249,218
4 ???????? DRC 9,908,998
5 ???????? South Africa 9,660,233
6 ???????? Angola 8,763,309
7 ???????? Zimbabwe 4,461,450
8 ???????? Namibia 2,054,227
9 ???????? Lesotho 727,737
10 ???????? Sierra Leone 688,970
11 ???????? Tanzania 375,533
12 ???????? Brazil 158,420
13 ???????? Guinea 128,771
14 ???????? Central
African Republic
15 ???????? Guyana 83,382
16 ???????? Ghana 82,500
17 ???????? Liberia 52,165
18 ???????? Cote D'Ivoire 3,904
19 ???????? Republic of Congo 3,534
20 ???????? Cameroon 2,431
21 ???????? Venezuela 1,665
22 ???????? Mali 92
  Total 120,201,460

Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated.

As with most other resources, (oil, gold, uranium), rough diamond production is distributed unequally. The top 10 rough diamond producing countries by weight account for 99.2% of all rough diamonds mined in 2022.

Diamond Mining, by Country

However, higher carat mined doesn’t necessarily mean better value for the diamond. Other factors like the cut, color, and clarity also influence a diamond’s value.

Here’s a quick breakdown of diamond production by value (USD) in 2022.

Rank Country Rough Diamond
Value (USD)
1 ???????? Botswana $4,975M
2 ???????? Russia $3,553M
3 ???????? Angola $1,965M
4 ???????? Canada $1,877M
5 ???????? South Africa $1,538M
6 ???????? Namibia $1,234M
7 ???????? Zimbabwe $424M
8 ???????? Lesotho $314M
9 ???????? Sierra Leone $143M
10 ???????? Tanzania $110M
11 ???????? DRC $65M
12 ???????? Brazil $30M
13 ???????? Liberia $18M
14 ???????? Central
African Republic
15 ???????? Guyana $14M
16 ???????? Guinea $6M
17 ???????? Ghana $3M
18 ???????? Cameroon $0.25M
19 ???????? Republic of Congo $0.20M
20 ???????? Cote D'Ivoire $0.16M
21 ???????? Venezuela $0.10M
22 ???????? Mali $0.06M
  Total $16,290M

Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated. Furthermore, numbers have been rounded and may not sum to the total.

Thus, even though Botswana only produced 59% of Russia’s diamond weight in 2022, it had a trade value of nearly $5 billion, approximately 1.5 times higher than Russia’s for the same year.

Another example is Angola, which is ranked 6th in diamond production, but 3rd in diamond value.

Both countries (as well as South Africa, Canada, and Namibia) produce gem-quality rough diamonds versus countries like Russia and the DRC whose diamonds are produced mainly for industrial use.

Which Regions Produce the Most Diamonds in 2022?

Unsurprisingly, Africa is the largest rough diamond producing region, accounting for 51% of output by weight, and 66% by value.

Rank Region Share of Rough
Diamond Production (%)
Share of Rough
Diamond Value (%)
1 Africa 51.4% 66.4%
2 Europe 34.9% 32.9%
3 North America 13.5% 52.8%
4 South America 0.2% 2.4%

However diamond mining in Africa is a relatively recent phenomenon, fewer than 200 years old. Diamonds had been discovered—and prized—as far back as 2,000 years ago in India, later on spreading west to Egyptian pharaohs and the Roman Empire.

By the start of the 20th century, diamond production on a large scale took off: first in South Africa, and decades later in other African countries. In fact between 1889–1959, Africa produced 98% of the world’s diamonds.

And in the latter half of the 20th century, the term blood diamond evolved from diamonds mined in African conflict zones used to finance insurgency or crime.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/30/2023 - 20:15

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