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Snowden and The Onion reminds us how Obama arrived at his ISIS plan

Since it’s useless getting any truthiness from main stream media – especially when it comes to lots of people being killed by government-funded bullets and bombs everywhere – we’ll have to go straight to The Onion for an accurate summary of what the Nobel Peace Winner has in store for ISIS with his “Kill them all, let Allan sort it out” plan:

“The president recognizes that citizens may be uneasy about this operation, and that’s why he will use tonight’s speech to comfort the American public by reminding them that they have been through armed engagements without clear end dates or even concrete objectives plenty of times before, and that this case is no different.”

“The president’s message is clear: This will be just another one of our routine intractable engagements in the region—it’s going to be unending, it’s going to be expensive, and it’s going to affect our credibility within the international community. There will not be any surprises for folks to worry about.”

And as a gentle reminder of where the Peace Price Winner have successfully pulled off another protracted military conflict that will create more terrorists to psychologically bludgen the Amerikans with (but all is ok as long as petrodollar dominance is maintained), here’s a useful page from the NSA powerpoint slide, titled: Gambits of Deception. Yes, it is that easy.

Deception

The economics of online prostitution: a growing market in Singapore

With everything that’ve been put up in the local rags in the last couple of years, it would seem that the only way to displace the online prostitution scandal and the daily SMRT breakdowns from the front pages would be a NEW scandal that mashes up the two: e.g. “SMRT officers found performing oral sex on stranded passengers via glory holes in station toilets, in bid to improve survey results.” – fingers crossed, but so far no luck.

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about, boys and girls. We’re here to talk about the economics of online prostitution, to understand why the Internet has opened up non-traditional markets for the oldest profession in the world, and to state unequivocally that this is a business that will only grow – especially in Singapore. And to help us figure out why, we start with our venerable researchers at the Economist, who, for the preservation of our pristine and immortal souls, walked the beat at notorious red light districts across the world, to come up with the following article, which concluded:

“As paid-for sex becomes more readily and discreetly available online, more people will buy it. A greater awareness may develop that not all sex workers are the victims of exploitation. The very discretion—and the hidden nature of such prostitution—may also mean that the stigma persists. But, overall, sex workers will profit. The internet has disrupted many industries. The oldest one is no exception.”

Which probably explains why the red light business in the Little Red Dot won’t be going away any time soon, though it has seen significant transformation from new market entrants (e.g. from China, which corners the global market in the production of more Chinese people) displacing the livelihoods of the working ladies from our neighbours just across the Causeway. The Economist has also provided a helpful rate sheet for johns and punters looking for value added services, but may be worried about paying OTT.

According to the Economist, “a degree appears to raise earnings in the sex industry just as it does in the wider labour market” – which doesn’t really explain why the Singapore civil service, with its fixation on hiring degree holders, found quite a few department heads willing to pay for head from a non-degree holder.

The point here is that the working lady in question – who goes by the moniker “Chantelle” - had priced at the high end of SGD 500 – 750 (roughly USD400 -600) per session, compared to the other ladies working in the same stable. By referring to the useful charge sheet provided by the Economist, to justify such a price, she would have to provide the services equivalent to either two women, have multiple male civil servants ‘mentor’ her at the same time, or perform bukakke during each session. But since these facts did not come out (haha) during the court proceedings, nor was she a degree holder, we have to reluctantly conclude that the only reason why men would pay a massive premium for a service that is very transparently priced in a highly competitive industry, was that they KNEW she was underaged. We dismiss the notion that the civil servants in question wanted to taste the forbidden fruit of fucking a “local girl-next-door”, because they already had in fact fucked a local girl next door – in the form of their current wives.

The recent brouhaha demonstrates that prostitution is a rapidly growing business in Singapore, as highlighted in a recent paper put out by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy titled “Containing Commercial Sex to Designated Red Light Areas: An idea past its prime?“. Salient points from the paper include the following:

“The sex trade in Singapore is not only found in designated red light areas (DRAs) like Geylang.
Over the years, new areas widely regarded as ‘sleazy’ have popped up in previously residential
and commercial neighbourhoods like Joo Chiat and Duxton Hill.”

“Singapore represents an ‘El Dorado’ where they can make high earnings quickly, and they go to great lengths to enter the country…The spillover of the sex trade outside the DRAs’ sanctioned
brothels thus seems inevitable as long as a steady supply of foreign, unregulated sex workers
continue to enter the country.”

“Another reason for the proliferation of red-light areas outside of the DRAs could be that the latter
is unable to contain demand and supply… Using online forums and listings, prostitutes and pimps are able to reach out to an even wider pool of potential clients and employ screening methods to reduce the risk of discovery, all without requiring a physical ‘marketplace.”

But for the male readers of this trashy blog, you knew that already, didn’t you? 

 

US goes full retard on Syria, adopts “Kill them all, and let Allah sort them out” policy

Everything you need to know about the US “strategy” in Syria (and the Middle East in general) is contained in the following paragraph below. According to AP:

In an effort to avoid unintentionally strengthening the Syrian government, the White House could seek to balance strikes against the Islamic State with attacks on Assad regime targets.

That, in a nutshell, is the US policy on full retard, given that ISIS was funded by the US BFFs Qatar and Saudi as part of the ongoing drama of the thousand year old schism between Shias and Sunnis (Think “Game of Thrones”, but with fewer naked tits and more Youtube beheadings.). From the Daily Beast:

“Gulf donors support ISIS, the Syrian branch of al Qaeda called the al Nusrah Front, and other Islamic groups fighting on the ground in Syria because they feel an obligation to protect Sunnis suffering under the atrocities of the Assad regime.”

Best of all, ISIS wouldn’t be the well-oiled machine that we know today, if it wasn’t for “US boots not really on the ground” cough CIA cough giving the jihadists-formerly-known-as-Al-Nusra the coaching, guidance and mentoring they needed to kick Assad’s ass, and kicking it cold-war style. From Washington Post:

“The cold-war style of warfare involves the use of proxies. Obama is using the Syrian opposition as his proxies to punish Assad. By sending aid — both lethal and non-lethal — Obama tells the world that he stands behind the Syrian opposition movement. In 2012 Obama recognized the legitimacy of the Syrian opposition in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters.”

At that point in time, when someone pointed out that a significant proportion of Syrian opposition forces were actually goat-raping whack jobs, John Kerry had this to say:

“I just don’t agree that a majority are al Qaeda and the bad guys. That’s not true. There are about 70,000 to 100,000 oppositionists … Maybe 15 percent to 25 percent might be in one group or another who are what we would deem to be bad guys.”

After having some time to digest that gem of a statement from none other than the Sec of State himself, we now fast forward to today.  Chuck Hagel – who may feel that the US military complex needs some QE of their own – now had this to say about ISIS:

“They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else…they are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of … military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we’ve seen.”

Now that the US’ baby is “all grown up”, what plans do the West have in dealing with the threat which they created, nurtured, encouraged and co-funded? Why, give the sheep a good dose of insomnia by telling them that - at any moment now – ISIS will come into their suburban homes and butt-fuck their kids while they are asleep on their IKEA bunkbeds. Cue David Cameron, Poodle-in-chief:

“The people in that regime, as well as trying to take territory, are also planning to attack us here at home in the United Kingdom.”

In a nutshell:

 

We pity the fool who has to listen to this garbage

Courtesy of the Motley Fool, here’s a useful glossary of terms your financial advisors will use on you in the attempt to a) sound financially hip, b) blame someone else for losing your money, and c) get you to churn.

“They don’t have any debt except for a mortgage and student loans.”

OK. And I’m vegan except for bacon-wrapped steak.

“Earnings were positive before one-time charges.”

This is Wall Street’s equivalent of, “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

“Earnings missed estimates.”

No. Earnings don’t miss estimates; estimates miss earnings. No one ever says “the weather missed estimates.” They blame the weatherman for getting it wrong. Finance is the only industry where people blame their poor forecasting skills on reality.

“Earnings met expectations, but analysts were looking for a beat.”

If you’re expecting earnings to beat expectations, you don’t know what the word “expectations” means.

“It’s a Ponzi scheme.”

The number of things called Ponzi schemes that are actually Ponzi schemes rounds to zero. It’s become a synonym for “thing I disagree with.”

“The [thing not going perfectly] crisis.”

Boy who cried wolf, meet analyst who called crisis.

“He predicted the market crash in 2008.”

He also predicted a crash in 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001, 1998, 1997, 1995, 1992, 1989, 1984, 1971…

“More buyers than sellers.”

This is the equivalent of saying someone has more mothers than fathers. There’s one buyer and one seller for every trade. Every single one.

“Stocks suffer their biggest drop since September.”

You know September was only six weeks ago, right?

“We’re cautiously optimistic.”

You’re also an oxymoron.

[Guy on TV]: “It’s time to [buy/sell] stocks.”

Who is this advice for? A 20-year-old with 60 years of investing in front of him, or a 82-year-old widow who needs money for a nursing home? Doesn’t that make a difference?

“We’re neutral on this stock.”

Stop it. You don’t deserve a paycheck for that.

“There’s minimal downside on this stock.”

Some lessons have to be learned the hard way.

“We’re trying to maximize returns and minimize risks.”

Unlike everyone else, who are just dying to set their money ablaze.

“Shares fell after the company lowered guidance.”

Guys, they just proved their guidance can be wrong. Why are you taking this new one seriously?

“Our bullish case is conservative.”

Then it’s not a bullish case. It’s a conservative case. Those words mean opposite things.

“We look where others don’t.”

This is said by so many investors that it has to be untrue most of the time.

“Is [X] the next black swan?”

Nassim Taleb’s blood pressure rises every time someone says this. You can’t predict black swans. That’s what makes them dangerous.

“We’re waiting for more certainty.”

Good call. Like in 1929, 1999 and 2007, when everyone knew exactly what the future looked like. Can’t wait!

“The Dow is down 50 points as investors react to news of [X].”

Stop it, you’re just making stuff up. “Stocks are down and no one knows why” is the only honest headline in this category.

“Investment guru [insert name] says stocks are [insert forecast].”

Go to Morningstar.com. Look up that guru’s track record against their benchmark. More often than not, their career performance lags an index fund. Stop calling them gurus.

“We’re constructive on the market.”

I have no idea what that means. I don’t think you do, either.

“[Noun] [verb] bubble.”

(That’s a sarcastic observation from investor Eddy Elfenbein.)

“Investors are fleeing the market.”

Every stock is owned by someone all the time.

“We expect more volatility.”

There has never been a time when this was not the case. Let me guess, you also expect more winters?

“This is a strong buy.”

What do I do with this? Click the mouse harder when placing the order in my brokerage account?

“He was tired of throwing his money away renting, so he bought a house.”

He knows a mortgage is renting money from a bank, right?

“This is a cyclical bull market in a secular bear.”

Vapid nonsense.

SGX: It’s ok to ramp up a scam stock, but not ok to short it. (Except if you’re an institution)

The recent news that “Singapore bourse probes short-selling in Blumont, Asiasons” shows up the addled priorities of SGX yet again.

According to actions of the professional barn door closers at SGX (for the uninformed, a profit-making listed firm that also pretends to act as a market regulator for its own clients in Singapore) – it’s fine and dandy for syndicates to ramp up Blumont by 3980% in a year; to goose Asiasons’ price by 197% in just nineteen days; and to pump LionGold by 50% in a month; never mind that Blumont and Asiasons was going for 500 times and 600 times earnings before last Friday’s clusterfuck, while LionGold didn’t even have profits to speak of in last fiscal year, yet justified a market value of S$1.42b on last Thursday. (And yes, dear auntie, Asiasons and Blumont qualify for CPFIS – so your retirement money is in good hands, just not yours).

Being fashionably late to the action as usual, SGX suspended the stocks on Friday, basically waving the “GANG BANG OPPORTUNITY” flag to the punters on our local virtual equivalent of Geylang Lorong 20. And shock and awe, said gang bang did actually occur, though some of the gang-banging – most likely by institutional sellers, since we’d like to see retail aunties try shorting any stock in SGX via POEMS - may have happened during the period which our regulator had designated as “no rape allowed” period. So we will wait to see if anyone – anyone at all – will be hauled up to answer for first blood. We’re not holding our breath.

UPDATE: Liongold says no deal with Minera after all. Nothing to see here.

Shorting India – the smart money play for 2014?

Watching an EM enthusiast like Stephen Roach suddenly short one of his old favourite plays, India, is a little bit unsettling. To sum up his feelings:

This government has done very little in the way of meaningful economic reforms… it’s still a rigid, bureaucratic society with inadequate infrastructure, insufficient savings and I think this crisis is a real wake up call for India optimists like myself…[Recession is] definitely possible . I hope that’s not the case and it’s not my forecast, but I wouldn’t rule it out with a plunging currency creating the need for monetary tightening that would take a toll on the real economy.

Then we have yet another old EM enthusiast, Jimmy Rogers himself, saying:

Look at India. India is hopelessly managed and finally the wolf is now at the door. I do not know what Indian politicians are going to do, as they keep trying to blame everybody in sight except admitting their problems.

Apparently, “fundamentals” are the problem, never mind that – during the great talking-up of India’s potential by the bankers in the early 2000s – the same problems have plagued the country for decades, perhaps generations. We only hear what we want to hear – and since all the megaphones at that time were shouting “Buy EM”.

Quite a lot is expected of Raghuram Rajan, the person who was appointed to single-handedly fix the problem caused by several generations of economic mismanagement. Rajan shoulders Obama-esque expectations coming into the job, and will be expected to be thrown under the bus within half a year, since in India, politics tend to triumph economic policy.

We will await the next turn in the cycle when the sell-siders start talking up India’s potential – probably immediately after the street riots over onion prices have died down.