Where finance and media intersect with reality

In the Blind Spot (Blockchain, NATO, renminbi)

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Economics, markets, finance etc…

  • Spanish newspaper estimates the current rise in EURIBOR will make the average mortgage to rise by €1,200 annually.
  • Credit Suisse was found guilty and fined for involvement in money laundering related to a Bulgarian drug gang. Switzerland’s criminal court found the bank didn’t do enough to prevent the Bulgarians from extracting profits from their European cocaine trafficking operations.
  • Jim Cramer is now a sell indicator.
  • Ark’s Cathie Wood says the US recession has already begun.
  • Nutmeg’s poor profitability may be an indicator of stress to come for the automated money managing sector.
  • Airbnb has permanently banned guests from organising parties and events.
  • The BIS has set up a Renminbi liquidity arrangement.

    This is an important development in the internationalisation of the renminbi. When dollar liquidity was challenged in 2008, one of the most significant central bank responses to stabilise the system was the Fed’s provision of FX swap lines to other central banks. The fact the BIS and the PBOC are pre-empting any potential renminbi shock by creating a liquidity fund implies, however, that there is reticence to the idea of the PBOC engaging in similar FX swap transactions. The use of a pre-committed buffer fund to the contrary allows for a fully “sterilised” liquidity solution. This is important during an inflationary cycle. Flooding the system with freshly printed renminbi (a la the Fed’s response of 2008) could risk doing more damage than good in such an environment. The fund also allows the PBOC to come to the rescue of the renminbi zone without necessarily having to load up on dollar collateral directly itself. – IK

Events in the horn:

  • Sudan’s army has shelled a disputed border region with Ethiopia. This comes amid reports that Sudan has launched an offensive into the historically contested border region of al-Fashaga, technically in Ethiopian territory. This follows an alleged killing of seven Sudanese soldiers by Ethiopian troops.

Energy crisis:

  • Inventories in the American Strategic Petroleum Reserve dropped to 497.9 million barrels, the lowest amount of oil held in this reserve since 1986, as Biden releases these reserves in an attempt to cushion rising oil prices. Estimates state there are only around 25 days of continuous oil supply left as a result.
  • Dutch farmers bring cows to parliament to protest nitrogen cuts.
  • California unveils a brilliant plan to combat inflation; sending ‘inflation relief’ stimulus checks of $1,050 to millions of families in the state.

    Californian authorities have clearly never read ‘When Money Dies’ – IK.

Watch this space:

  • NASA launches CAPSTONE satellite, whose plan is to chart a new, cost-efficient path to travel to the moon. It signals one of the first stages of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to put a human outpost, named Gateway, in lunar orbit – and eventually colonise the moon.
  • SpaceX launches the fourth of five orbital ‘shells’, satellite groupings in particular orbits, of its 4408-satellite Starlink constellation.

Security operations:

  • Syria’s heating up, everyone. According to sources cited by Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), who monitor Idlib, HTS, al-Nusra’s successor organisation (formerly al Qaeda in Syria), announced it was gearing up to clear out rivals with a ‘security operation’ in the Idlib province. This announcement came just before the US reported it had eliminated a more directly linked target to al-Qaeda in Idlib.

    The wheat-rich region of Idlib was conquered by Syrian rebels around 2013, the offensive being led mainly by al-Nusra and other jihadist shock troops – with just enough moderate rebels to continue to receive TOW-guided missiles from Uncle Sam.

    Though the province was meant as a launching pad for operations into Western Syria, a largely undamaged region in the brutal civil war, after these offensives failed, it has remained a cesspit of shady Western or Gulf-funded proxy jihadist militias. Notably, it was the place where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sought refuge and was finally killed by US Special Forces.

    It’s ironic to see an al-Qaeda offshoot (a charge HTS vigorously denies) deploying Western defence lingo, this move being called an ‘anti-jihadist campaign’ and a ‘security operation’.

    Such an attempt at consolidating power by HTS could be being driven by Turkey. This is because these militias play key roles in Turkey’s security; Turkey expertly mixes quasi-jihadist militias as skirmishers before the spearhead of professional troops,  armoured, and aerial units in its offensives in Syria for example.

    Perhaps a deterioration of the security situation in Idlib could also provide a casus belli for Ankara to enter the region even further, alongside its potential (read: probable) offensives into YPG/SDF enclaves Manbij and Tal Rifaat. Only time will tell. – DGG.

  • Turkey drops veto to Finland and Sweden’s path to NATO membership.

    But only because the two countries have effectively given into Turkey’s demands. This includes lifting a restriction on selling weapons to Turkey, as well as intensifying work on allowing Turkish extradition requests of Kurdish militants, among other security considerations.

    The most important part of the deal will be revealed with actions; it is critical to keep an eye on a potential Syrian operation by Turkey.

    Unlike previous operations, and as highlighted in the previous Blind Spot Wrap, this potential offensive could intensify the political re-alignment of the YPG/SDF closer to the Assad government, potentially in exchange for an autonomous region. – DGG.

Blockchain is still a thing:

  • North Korean funding is being threatened by the crypto crash.
  • The Blind Spot gives evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology committee on blockchain. You can watch the whole meeting here.

Dodgy LinkedIn adverts?

  • While we were producing this week’s Blind Spot Wrap, we were hit by the latest incarnation of a dodgy LinkedIn ad that took us to this copycat fake website:

    The scam’s link pathway is interesting. The first link directs users from Linkedin to a fake Mirror website, which bears a fake story about an automated trading platform. Clicking on either the direct link or the LinkedIn page sends a PC to an actual Mirror story about Elon Musk, but on an unrelated topic – presumably to give an impression of further authenticity.The app being promoted promises some fantastic returns; “I’ve gone up $303.21 profits in just eight minutes!”. Elon Musk seems to absolutely love it;

    “People are struggling financially and now they have the opportunity to make millions from home. It’s unbelievable!”

    These scams first appeared during Covid but are clearly getting more sophisticated.

    The details are getting ever curiouser too. CBE Consultants, who appear to be linked to the message (whether wittingly or unwittingly we do not know), claim they are a building, planning and design company offering 3D walkthroughs, elevations, structural designs (and more!). Their LinkedIn page claims they’re based on the ground floor of the Hafez (also called the Bismillah Electronics) building in Faridpur in Bangladesh. They also have a Facebook page. However, there’s also an allegedly separate interior design’s office on the first floor,  which redirects to Zimaflat Interiors (call now at 01312 312 009) – yet another real estate company. The Bismillah Electronics building is clearly very long real estate companies – DGG.

     

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