At Least 35 People Killed After Shooters Dressed As Santas Open Fire In Istanbul Nightclub – Live Feed

Live Feed from Istanbul courtesy of RT:

* * *

Turkey greeted the New Year with another tragedy after at least 35 people were killed and 40 wounded around 1:15 am local time, when gunmen dressed as Santas opened fire on New Year’s revelers at a nightclub in Istanbul on Sunday morning, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin told reporters.

 

Ambulances line up in front of the Reina nightclub in Istanbul, where a gun
attack took place during a New Year party.

The assailant shot a police officer and a civilian as he entered the Reina nightclub before opening fire at random inside according to Reuters. The club lies on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait in the Ortakoy district of Turkey’s most populous city.

 “A terrorist with a long-range weapon … brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Sahin told reporters at the scene.

Dozens of ambulances and police vehicles were dispatched to the club in Ortakoy, a cosmopolitan neighborhood nestled under one of three bridges crossing the Bosphorus, and home to clubs, restaurants and art galleries. Reina is one of Istanbul’s best-known nightclubs, popular with locals and tourists alike.

Sahin told local media that the assailants first killed the police officer, who was standing at the door of the club, and then went on a rampage inside, killing innocent civilians. A policeman and a civilian are reported to be among the two known casualties at the nightclub. There were two attackers involved, according to NTV, but conflicting reports also described a lone gunman.

The gunmen were dressed in Santa Claus outfits, wielding assault rifles, Turkish media said.

According to RT, one of the gunmen has reportedly hidden inside the club, while the whereabouts of the second one were not immediately clear. The number of casualties may rise, as local press estimates that between 500 and 600 people could have been in the club at the time of the attack, Mynet Haber reports.

Emergency crews have been evacuating injured people from the building as the police search for suspects. Some people jumped into the waters of the Bosphorus to save themselves and were being rescued by police.

A search and rescue operation for those who jumped in the water is being carried out by maritime police.

“Something For Nothing” All-Weather Funds Disappoint In Post-Election Era

Variously marketed as "all-weather", "all-season", or "bulletproof", the so-called "risk-parity" strategies of some of the world's largest hedge funds have been anything but 'stable' since the election as the combination of leverage and bond losses have crushed the gains from an exuberant equity market.

Promise people something for nothing and you are going to attract a lot of attention. Stumble in the process and the critics will be quick to pounce.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, the weeks since the election have been rough for one of the most polarizing investment strategies out there: risk parity.

The strategy – which simply put, involves using diversification – and sometimes borrowed money (leverage) – to find an (historically-optimized) balance between risk and return.

Bridgewater’s variant of this strategy, for example, has historically used borrowed money to invest about $1.50 for each dollar in assets, often putting the leverage in historically less-volatile bonds. The goal is stocklike returns with less volatility.

Problems occur when histroical relationships between asset-classes break down… just as they did during this year (when the historical norm of inversely correlated bond and stock prices reversed completely)…

The post-election rally in stocks and selloff in bonds hit these portfolios, embolding critics of the approach…

Bonds have been in a bull market for 35 years, so adding leverage would have produced strong returns for a modest increase in volatility, says Ben Inker of fund management firm GMO. He also argues that “volatility and risk are not the same.”

As WSJ concludes, the strategy has sharply underperformed both stocks and a traditional 60% stock 40% bond index fund offered by Vanguard since 1993.

Without the benefit of leverage, lower volatility equals lower returns. Even with it, though, there are occasional bumps in the road. For investors whose moods are as fickle as the weather, risk parity may involve more risk than reward.

Global Recession And Other Visions For 2017

Submitted by Economic Prism's MN Gordon via Acting-Man.com,

Conjuring Up Visions

Today’s a day for considering new hopes, new dreams, and new hallucinations.  The New Year is here, after all.  Now is the time to turn over a new leaf and start afresh. Naturally, 2017 will be the year you get exactly what’s coming to you. Both good and bad.  But what else will happen?

 

Image of a recently discarded vision…

 

 

Here we begin by closing our eyes and slowing our breath.  We let our mind role back into the gray matter of our brain.  We wait patiently for new neurological connections to open up.  Then, ever so subtly, visions of the year ahead come into focus.

Will stocks go up or down?  What about gold and Treasury bonds?  Will the economy expand or contract?  Are we fated for World War III?  Who will win the Super Bowl? These are the questions – and more – we intend to answer.

Obviously, conjuring up visions is more art than science.  But so is Fed monetary policy. Nonetheless, before we get to it we must first lean upon ancient Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu for a full disclaimer:

Those who have knowledge, don’t predict.  Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.

Hence, what follows comes from a place of zero knowledge.  We know nothing.  Still we sharpen our pencils and face our limitations.  What follows, for fun and for free, are several simple conjectures for the year ahead…

 

Global Recession

To start, the animal spirits and optimism that greeted Donald Trump’s election victory will flame out not long after inauguration day.  Without a major economic crisis, it will be near impossible to get substantial – $2 trillion deficit – spending approved by Congress.  Moreover, even if massive fiscal stimulus is approved it won’t make much of a lick to the economy for four quarters or more – if ever.

One lesson of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is that throwing money at infrastructure projects is more complex than commonly appreciated.  Shovel ready projects don’t exist.  In particular, shovel ready infrastructure projects that could generate significant growth in high paying jobs are hard to come by with just the inking of a stimulus bill.

 

The surplus shovels from the last batch of shovel-ready infrastructure projects are still in the process of being dumped…

 

No doubt, this lesson was quickly forgotten when the sky stopped falling just after the darkest days of the Great Recession.  So, too, it’ll be quickly remembered.  Soon enough, the realization that stimulus spending won’t provide an immediate lift to the economy will spread across Wall Street and the post-election stock market rally will reverse.

Similarly, the Fed’s efforts to ‘normalize’ interest rates will be tabled.  The economy simply can’t afford higher rates.  This isn’t Trump’s fault, of course.  He’s been handed a badly damaged economy.

Quite frankly, there’s really no way to fix it.  Decades of economic degradation are irreversible.  Adding new debt based stimulus will only further the overall divergence between debt and GDP.

Specifically, the debt will grow larger while GDP slouches forward.  On top of that, larger deficits will eventually ignite a level of consumer price inflation that hasn’t dramatically flared up since the early 1980s.  A scenario of slow growth and rising consumer price inflation will emerge at some point.

But first something else must come to pass.  By mid-year it will become all too apparent that the global economy, including the United States, Europe, China, and Japan, are in a full blown recession.

The Fed will quickly return to zero interest rate policy.  Ten Year Treasury yields will again slip below 2 percent as investors blindly plow their capital back into the ‘safest investment in the world’ at precisely the most dangerous time.

The S&P 500, presently near its all-time high, will rapidly descend to 1,200.  And, only then, when fear has reached its extreme, will Congress be ready to go along with Trump’s massive fiscal spending program.

 

The interesting Wile E. Coyote moment of blissful weightlessness shortly after passing the all time high…

 

Other Visions for 2017

That’s when things will go really haywire.  By then the effects of infrastructure stimulus will be considered too slow to save the economy from itself.  Calls for a direct economic jolt will be made by Larry Summers as he lobbies to replace Janet Yellen as Fed Head.

Direct monetization of the debt in the form of ‘tax rebate checks’ will be mailed out to every working age citizen whether they have a taxable income or not.  Alas, any temporary boost to the economy these efforts encourage will be overwhelmed by rising price inflation… and higher interest rates.

The strong dollar trend will also reverse in earnest by the second quarter.  About this time gold will once again glitter.  Consequently, the first three months of the year will be a fantastic time to accumulate and add to your physical gold hoard.  By mid-April gold will be back above $1,350 per ounce.

Indeed, the coming year will be one of great distress.  As the global economy slips and slides into recession, world politicians will look to distract blame from their own bungles.  They’ll seize any diversion afforded to them to channel the discontents of their masses.  They’ll blunder outward in search of a new mission and greater purpose for their young and idle.

Global factions are on a collision course for war.  We wish this weren’t so.  But, unfortunately, ongoing territorial disputes between China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea will continue to escalate.

Likewise, ancient territorial disagreements between Japan and China over the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea will deepen.  These disputes, and a burgeoning arms race, could provide the perfect diversion for China and Japan as their debt fueled economies unravel.

On a high note, we start the New Year hopeful that a lasting ceasefire has been reached in the proxy Syria war – in spite of the failings of the United Nations and the Obama administration.  In addition, there are numerous other reasons for optimism as we enter 2017.

For example, right now, in cities across the globe, brilliant minds at the fringe of scientific propriety are but one experiment away from the big energy breakthrough humanity’s been waiting more than 45-years for.  Unfettered by academic zealotry, this new scientific discovery will not come from a leading research or government institution.

Like all great discoveries in our time, it will come from a small team of eccentrics operating out of a garage on a shoestring budget. What we mean is, in the words of the late Gordon MacKenzie:

“Orville Wright did not have a pilot’s license.”

 

What is this? Flying without a license?  Obviously, the pre-world war age must have been pure chaos… not enough regulations, as Ben Bernanke would say!

 

Lastly, the Dallas Cowboys will win the Super Bowl.

 

The best part of the Dallas Cowboys. In late 2015 the team became the most valuable sports team in the world, surpassing Real Madrid – with its estimated net worth reaching $4 bn.

Happy New Year!

Narrative Smashed By Stats – “Most Americans” Did Not Vote For Hillary Clinton

Submitted by Salil Mehta via Statistical Ideas blog,

Happy New Year!  As we wrap up another successful year of the statistics blog (now with >50k followers), we would be remiss not to recognize some nice friends who are still feeling disappointed over the outcome of the recent U.S. election.  It is worth exploring a little more about the election results, based on the most updated voting records.  Particularly as the Democrats have pivoted the tête-à-tête from recount and FBI director Comey, to popular vote and Russian president Putin. 

What does it mean to now imply that "most Americans" voted for Democratic ideals, given the results (looked at through the prism of a popular vote tabulation) showed Hillary Clinton won by only a couple percent? 

It turns out that this sort of conclusion is false, and instead it leads to one party presuming to hold a mighty moral high-ground from their ¼ voting share? 

From a peak in 2008, now through 2016, those not caring to vote (in white below) continuously rose to 45% (from 43%).  This is a higher voter apathy than in virtually all other advanced countries.  And frankly, it is the largest American segment of 114m (up from 99m).  Last-minute undecideds (including me) rose.

Additionally, the voting share for the popular vote "winner" (in blue below) fell to 48% (from 53%), or as a portion of the entire eligible population (as opposed to as a portion of voters) it fell to 26% (from 30%).  So on net, even as the population grew, a small fraction voted (and within that an even smaller fraction voted for the popular vote "winner").  This results in Hillary Clinton not epitomizing the views of "most Americans" even if she "won the popular vote", but rather supported by only 66 million Americans (down from 70 million who voted for Barack Obama in 2008).

I'm with her?  Observe their share of the pie, below!  Democrats have simply seen a continuously dwindling moral-standing to speak for all Americans, even as the population has grown in the past 8 years.

So now back to my friends who are still feeling sour over the Presidential election and looking for relief.  I feel a particular sense of responsibility since my polling probability research was read by millions and continuously solicited/shared by one party, and always properly showed Donald Trump had much stronger odds (~3x) versus what MSM polls or Nate Silver were "scientifically" suggesting.  It is worth noting something here at year-end: it's an acutely individual loss, to not see that there are so many tremendous and long-term opportunities we get to enjoy, just living in a great nation such as the United States.  We get most things right, most of the time.  We get to argue about politics and not worry about a knock on our door in the middle of the night.

The rest of the world has already moved on, as they should.  They really never cared as much about you, or your candidate (just as ½ of our own country doesn't, per above).  That was mainstream media noise that fooled you.  And having worked for many years, in and out of Washington, we can assure you that well over 90% of people have issues so much larger than who was or will be in the White House.  Yet it's captivating, nonetheless, the amount of attention spent in social circles defying this actuality, and presuming moral high-ground by  falsely twisting statistics to suit private needs.  By setting some simple statistics straight, we honestly hope 2017 ushers in a new era of knowledge, contentment and worldly views, as we leave the disparaging partisan choke-hold of the 2016 elections behind.

Tesla Sued Over Model X “Spontaneous Acceleration”

Is Tesla having the worst year ever?  Over the course of 2016, we’ve written frequently about Tesla’s many setbacks including several auto-pilot related crashes, hackers taking control of moving vehicles, egregious levels of cash burn and a very controversial merger with SolarCity.

Now, as 2016 draws to a close, Tesla once again finds itself in the spotlight as a Model X owner has filed a lawsuit alleging that his electric SUV suddenly accelerated while being parked, causing it to crash through the garage of his home and into his living room, injuring the driver and a passenger.

In the lawsuit filed Friday in California, Ji Chang Son said that one night in September, he was slowly pulling into his driveway as his garage door opened when the car suddenly sped forward.  Unfortunately for Tesla, the lawsuit seeks class action status noting at least seven other complaints from owners of similar incidents.  Per CBC News:

“The vehicle spontaneously began to accelerate at full power, jerking forward and crashing through the interior wall of the garage, destroying several wooden support beams in the wall and a steel sewer pipe, among other things, and coming to rest in plaintiffs’ living room,” the lawsuit said.

 

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, seeks class-action status. It cites seven other complaints registered in a database compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) dealing with sudden acceleration.

Musk

 

Not surprisingly, after conducting a “thorough investigation,” Tesla concluded that their cars are still extremely awesome and therefore any malfunction in operation was certainly due to user error.

Tesla said in a statement that it had “conducted a thorough investigation” of the claims made by Son.

 

“The evidence, including data from the car, conclusively shows that the crash was the result of Mr. Son pressing the accelerator pedal all the way to 100 per cent,” a Tesla spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

 

Tesla said it has various ways to protect against pedal misapplication, including using its autopilot sensors to distinguish between erroneous pedal application and normal cases.

Of course, the only question now is how many “plumes of smoke” have to be discovered before Tesla investors start to worry that there might actually be a fire?

TSLA

Euronomics Decomposing, Raise a Glass of Cheer!

This article by David Haggith was first published on The Great Recession Blog: 

By ECB - European Central Bank (Flickr.com) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Europeans must have been delighted to discover that one thing is working as well as it has since the start of the Great Recession. Behemoth banks that are failing are still able to pay their Christmas bonuses to their top executives and give nice dividends to their shareholders thanks to Super Mario Draghi. 

Keeping up the tradition of central bankers looking out for other bankers, Mario Draghi, chief of the European Central Bank “agreed to lower the minimum capital requirements for Deutsche Bank on Tuesday, ‘giving the lender more leeway to structure bonus payments and dividends.’” (Zero Hedge).

Thank God for that, huh? The needs of the stockholders and top execs have been taken care of before one of the world’s oldest megabanks falls on everyone else. While Deutsche Bank’s stocks sit at all-time lows after it has been required to pay $8 billion in fines, at least the golden parachutes are in top condition.

 

Italy surrenders to Germany

 

Meanwhile, the world’s oldest bank in Italy got nationalized for Christmas so that the losses of capitalists — many of whom exist outside of Italy — could all be socialized to the people of Italy. However, when the People’s Republic of Italy became the new owner of the bank, they found out the hole in the bank’s core was bigger than they thought. (Surprise.)

The ECB now estimates the hole to be 8.8 billion euros, rather than the 5 billion of additional capital they formerly believed it needed. That’s a 75% increase in the bank’s capital shortfall that took place from November through December. What a sleigh ride!

Turns out that all the talk of nationalizing the bank caused depositors to rapidly withdraw funds (who woulda thought?), creating something of a black hole in the bank’s core. Lingering depositors don’t need to worry, though, because the Italian parliament has assured them that all Italians are equally on the hook for the bank’s losses by guaranteeing a 20-billion euro fund to stabilize any Italian banks that are too big to fail.

In Monte’s case, the Italian government will invest 6.3 billion euros of this fund into filling the growing hole, and the rest will be squeezed out of bond-holders. (Of course, that news is bound to send even the lingerers running if they know what’s good for them, but obviously they don’t, or they wouldn’t still have been there when all this went down, as warnings have been evident for a couple of years.)

Gee, whatever happened to bail-ins putting the bank’s salvation primarily in the hands of share-holders, bond-holders and major depositors? Look’s like the government still believes general taxpayers should front the biggest wad. So, you’ll be glad to know that, even in Italy, the principles of saving too-big-to-fail banks at the start of the Great Recession are still largely in play. The costs of failing capitalists shall be largely socialized upon the poorer parts of the population because their citizens have happily allowed banks to remain too big to fail.

Maybe the depositors were all withdrawing their money to buy Christmas presents, so Italy will be saved by a Santa Clause rally. (It is no more wishful than thinking these banks will not ultimately pull down their governments. This was, after all, the bank’s third bailout. Keep bailing.)

Italy is the eighth-largest economy in the world, third-largest in Europe, and its GDP per capita hasn’t grown since the Great Recession. It has issued the third-largest amount of sovereign bonds in the world to survive its relentlessly unfolding debt catastrophe, with many of its debts being held by banks and central banks outside of Italy.

On top of that, eighteen percent of all bank loans in Italy are bad debt that has been carried on the books since the Great Recession. Italian banks don’t write off this long-term bad debt because they have less than 50% of the capital they need in order to cover it. So, they pretend their customers will all win the Italian Liralicious Lotto and pay up. Since GDP per capita is actually sinking, the ability of each customer to ever pay one of these debts off is ever diminishing. The Super Mario jackpot better pay off real soon.

No wonder Italians took a big step toward their own euro exit on December 4th. Back when they had their own currency, they could, at least, try to inflate their way out of trouble. They could lower the lira’s value in order to draw trade away from Germany and toward Italian products. Now they socialize debts away from German (and other non-Italian) bond owners and bank holders toward the Italian populace.

 

Owed to Grecians earning less

 

Meanwhile in Greece, people have started rejecting their own inheritances in order to save themselves. At this point in the Greek crisis, so much real estate is underwater that it is worth less than it is worth. You don’t even want to inherit it for free because you cannot sell it for enough to pay off its debt if you accept it.

With incomes falling (unemployment is at 23%) and taxes rising (particularly property tax) to meet Eurozone austerity requirements, old people have heaped mortgages onto their properties to make it through their declining years. To receive an inheritance from your parents is to receive their bundled debts.

Thirty-two percent of all property loans in Greece are now delinquent. So much for the ultimate safe haven. So many properties in foreclosure sales drives down the price, making the next round worse. So, beware of dead Greeks bearing gifts if they are willing them to you. Gift recipients are lining up in government cues to decline their inheritance. Wealth destruction via real estate.

But Europe has this solved. If everything goes well with Greece, the Greek’s condition is expected to resolve back to a normal economy in just fifty years! The Greek debt burden is about 177% of its entire Gross Domestic Product; compare that to the US now at a paltry 100%. Europe calculates the Greek’s situation will improve by 20% come the year 2060. Do you think maybe these people are debt slaves for life? I think they were better off under Rome in AD Zero than under Germany.

Germany is helping out, after requiring some rather Spartan austerity, by proposing that all of Europe send its refugees goose-stepping toward Greece in order to save the northern states of Europe from those social and financial burdens. That ought to stomp out the tiny nation, which can’t even look out for its own welfare. Greece already has bottled up huge amounts of resentment against both Europe and its own government. Germany seems blindly determined to use its immigration policies to destroy its own European union. “Here, feed our poor and wandering masses while you Greeks lick the bottoms of our boots for nourishment.”

Not sure who’s doing the math over there, but it doesn’t add up to success.

 

And now for a Bilderberg Bonanza:

 

(In case you are stunningly new to the world of conspiracy theories, the uber-elite one-percenters meet at the Hotel Bilderberg once a year to control the world through sub committees like the Illuminati … or something like that. Anyway, they’re really rich, and they suck.)

The hacker group Anonymous seized control of the Bilderberg website today, posting the following message as the site’s new home page:

 

…Dear Bilderberg mEmBers, From NoW(), each OnE of you have 1 year (365 days) to truly work in faVor of HumaNs and not youR private interests…. MiNd the cuRrent situation: We conTrol your expensive connected cars, we control your connecteD house security devices, we control your daughter laptop, we control your wife’s mobile, we tape YoUR seCret meetings, we reAD your emaiLs, we control your faVoriTe eScort girl smartWatch, we ARe inside your beLoved banks and we Are reading YoUr assets  You wont be safe anywhere near electricity anyMore  We WiLL watch yOu, from NoW on you got to WoRk for Us, Humanity, the People

 

They had other choice words, too; but I don’t know if I recommend going to their site to check it out because who knows what it does to your computer while you’re there, but the link is provided for the brave of heart. I did and lived to tell about it. Maybe I’ll find out otherwise when a certain date clicks by.

It’s getting harder for the globalists to feel safe in their dark-paneled, smoke filled hotel meeting rooms, high in the citadels of Germany, Switzerland, or down inhabiting the swampy Netherlands and other such heady retreats … and this is why they want to control the internet.

 

The Christmas present from Fundamentalist Islam

 

Subsequent to the Christmas bombing in Berlin, Europe is proposing tighter restrictions on the movement of cash and precious metals. (This is one more reason that gold is not necessarily a safe haven in any nation because stringent controls were placed on gold in the US during the Great Depression, too. It happens; so, diversify.)

The European Commission says that tighter controls will help shut down funding for militant operations on the continent. I’m not sure how that will stop a guy from driving a truck into a crowd in Berlin, but maybe it will keep him from getting money for fuel. I think it is more likely that any excuse will do when bankers see people fleeing their proprietary product (money) for generic gold and need to find reasons to slow down the gold traffic. Probably more concerned about that than they are thinking this plan will slow down truck traffic in crowded streets.

Of course, that’s also why central banks own so much of the yellow stuff they hate — so they can throw it off as ballast whenever there is a run on banks in order to try to kill the price of gold and scare people away from it. Why else would they keep so much of something they say is a poor investment, other than to control the only competition in town to their monopoly?

The EU is also proposing stricter controls on the movement of Bitcoin funds. The new rules will allow seizure of funds, including gold, wherever “there are suspicions of criminal activity.” It’s unclear whether suspicion also requires a warrant, or just (that’s a lot of money, and I think you look funny or you had a drink with a bad guy).

While the European Commission solves its immigrant-created catastrophes with golden rules, widespread unrest is becoming the norm due to the over-exuberant globalists’ drive to soak up unscreened Muslim refuges that are not integrating well into European society. They are almost entirely unemployed and sucking up social welfare that those unemployed Greeks and Italians could sure use. That has got to be a short-fused bomb.

While the news is bad all over Europe, it’s not going so well for the globalists in the new year either! In light of extenuating circumstances, who could ask for anything more? The serfs are up, and the sooner they set sail from the Eurozone and its globalist control, the sooner they can have a real economy back. So, raise a cup of cheer; the New Year is here!

 

And now, for some lighthearted New Year’s fun, here are my favorite Putin-Obama cartoons.

2016 Greatest Hits: Presenting The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year

One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2015, we admitted that it was difficult to find a coherent theme of the key events that shook the world, and which you, our readers, found most interesting and notable:

  • 2015 was year in which class warfare in the US approached unprecedented levels with antagonism between races, genders, ethnicities, ideologies, age groups and incomes all approaching peak levels, and spilling over, literally, on the street as the US public was inundated with daily reports of mass shootings, of trigger-happy policemen, of petulant students demanding conformity, of a president demanding the population hand over even more constitutional rights, of a nation torn in the most volatile presidential race yet.
  • it was a year of rising, and in many cases, brutal intraday volatility, of ever more flash crashes across virtually all asset classes, of pain for anyone who was not invested in the five largest companies, and overall a year of change and losses for those hoping the Fed would “have their back” no matter what;
  • it was a year in which the S&P declined for the first time since the financial crisis, as a result of the first Fed rate hike in a decade and concerns about the sustainability of China’s numerous asset bubbles, the devaluation of the Yuan and the viability of China’s numerous insolvent public and private enterprises and banks.
  • it was a year in which the geopolitical situation outside of the U.S. got decidedly worse, with the Syrian global proxy war resulting in the first instance of a NATO nation attacking and taking down a Russian fighter jet in decades, but more importantly, in a historic refugee crisis that will alter the face of Europe for years to come, as well as unleashing a wave of terrorist events which are likely just beginning, as governments across the globe seek to exploit the crisis for their own selfish reasons.
  • In summary, 2015 was a year of confused flux and of dramatic change: change which was largely amorphous and chaotic but which we said would crystallize over 2016, “in unpredictable and, sadly, violent ways.”

It did indeed, because when looking back at the past year, 2016 provided much needed closure to many of the themes and narratives that emerged in 2015, and earlier, most of which played out in the political arena, where for the first time in decades the established status quo was shaken to its core when two completely unexpected events took place, first Brexit, then the election of Donald Trump, setting the stage for a dramatic revulsion from widely all accepted norms and principles.

As we had warned for years, the vast if silent majority, feeling snubbed and neglected by the political oligarchy and the world’s central bankers, decided to take the power back which they did within the confines of the democratic process, sending the establishment reeling, by rejecting years of legacy narratives, first by voting to divorce the UK from Europe, and then to replace decades of a failed, and flawed, political regime in the US with something… different.

It remains to be seen if these changes will be successful and bear fruit, or if they will be a change for the worse. However, the simple reality is that people had enough and wanted change. This, in the words of the established media, was called “populism”, and the transformation process which allowed it to take place was maligned under the umbrella definition of “fake news.” More on that later.

It wasn’t just political upheaval that marked 2016: in the financial realm, markets first were jarred, then hailed the gradual shift in legacy sentiment, as the primary driver behind the global economy morphed from one of central-bank directed monetary policy – 2016 was the year in which $14 trillion in global debt hit record negative yields when central banks seemingly went all in to inject record stimulus into the markets if not so much the economy  – to what many now expect will be a reflation, and fiscal-stimulus driven economy.

On of the biggest questions facing 2017 is whether this transition will actually take place, and how smooth such a handover will be; for now optimism and hope prevail.

2016 also demonstrated how dominant the political narrative has become when it comes to finance and capital markets. For all those lamenting that relentless coverage of politics (which sadly also includes every tweet from Donald Trump: for those who are unaware, we would like to inform you that 2017 will be the year when domestic and foreign policy takes place on Twitter) and why finance appears to have taken a secondary role, and why the political “narrative” has taken a dominant role for financial analysts, the past year showed vividly why that is the case. After all, it was a historic U-turn in conventional wisdom in the early hours of November 9, that sent the S&P soaring, and allowed the US market to close nearly 10% higher on the year from what until two month earlier was shaping up as another wash out in stocks. The reason: the narrative surrounding the Trump victory – a political event – went from cataclysmic to optimistic in the span of mere hours.

And speaking of market performance in the past year, it is delightfully ironic that despite the experts having predicted the outcomes of every key event incorrectly (who can forget the prevailing calls for doom and gloom should Brexit take place or Trump defeat Hillary), the US stock market actually closed almost exactly where consensus said one year ago it would close, or as Bloomberg notes, while they got everything else wrong, the accuracy of US equity strategists predicting the annual gain of 9.5% is unprecedented in Bloomberg data going back to 2000.

How did they get it so right? Simple: central banks openly warned that any selling following watershed political events is no longer acceptable (who can possibly forget the ECB pledging to bailout the market in case of a Brexit). Sure enough, markets took the hint, and after taking 65 days to recover all losses from the August 2015 China devaluation, it took the S&P only 5 days to recover the post-Brexit losses, it took only 16 hours to regain the sharp, limit-down drop after the Trump election, and stunningly, just 9 hours to recover the entire loss from the Italian referendum outcome which, too, was a vote against establishment politics.

The problem with this habituation that “no news can ever again be bad news” is that it is no longer clear what the market may or may not have priced in, absent hope and expectations of central bank intervention to arrest any future selling episodes; central bank intervention which in 2016 hit all time highs and numerically amounted to over $15 trillion in cumulative liquidity injections. However, with a major shift now taking place away from monetary and toward fiscal policy, the “assumption of hope” will surely be tested in 2017.

Another assumption that will be tested in the coming year is whether “China no longer matters” for US markets, something which was certainly not the case last year. Back in 2015, US futures would swoon the moment the PBOC announced even a modest drop in the Yuan. On the other hand, in 2016, US equities could care less what Beijing did, how bad NPLs among Chinese banks rose, how pervasive corporate defaults in China became, or what the future held for China, and its $35 trillion in financial assets. We have a nagging suspicion that whether or not the US manages to avoid a recession in 2017, and the business cycle is now so long in the tooth, the current expansion is will be the third longest in US history on the day of Trump’s inauguration in three weeks.

However, should the most powerful trend of 2016 (and prior years) persist and it most likely will, far fewer hedge funds will be there to trade this “assumption” – 2016 was the year in which active managers saw the biggest outflows in assets under management since the financial crisis, as investors grew so disenchanted with the “2 and 20 model”, they pulled their money out of the underperforming asset class and dumped it into ETFs and other, cheaper alternatives.

Still, while many themes, both in the political and financial realm, did get needed closure, dramatic changes in 2016 persisted, and which will continue to manifest themselves in dramatic, often violent and unexpected ways – from terrorism in Europe, to “populist” upheavals around the developed world, to unprecedented capital flight out of China. Perhaps these non-stop changes is the reason why 2016 was an absolute record year for Zero Hedge: not only did we have our first 100 million page view month, but just two days ago we crossed 3 billion cumulative page views since inception, just over two years after hitting our first 1 billion pageview milestone.

As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website – which has never seen one dollar of outside funding and has never spent one dollar on marketing – a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine.  Which also brings us to another amusing topic: that of fake news, and something we – and others who do not comply with the established narrative – have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, we find it a dangerous development, and very slippery slope, that the entire developed world – certainly the US with Obama’s recent passage of the “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act” into law – is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, is internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from “dangerous, fake information.” 

Needless to say, Trump should overturn this blatant attack on the First Amendment, and let people decide for themselves what is and isn’t fake news. If anything, it is the conventional, mainstream media, most of which is owned by a handful of corporations with extensive ties to the government, that demonstrated on numerous occasions in 2016 that it is the primary creator and distributor of “fake news.”

In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to accelerate in the coming year, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2016 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch out of fear of repercussions, which in turn allowed the alternative media to find a key entry point, and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which the public relations arm for a certain presidential campaign refused to do, in the process earnings itself the derogatory “fake news” condemnation.

We are grateful that our readers have realized it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn’t “fake news.”

Before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, 7-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year.

  • In 20th place, with over 713,000 views, was a shocking development from an otherwise quiet Friday afternoon in mid-July, when the world was gripped by news of a Turkish coup attempt, the first in decades, which subsequently crumbled due to its comically underprepared nature, prompting many to speculate that the entire event had been “faked”; the outcome further cemented Erdogan’s role as Turkey’s undisputed, authoritarian ruler. In the months since, Turkey has emerged as a key strategic player in the Middle East, pivoting from a US/NATO sphere of influence to one dominated by Russia and Putin, a flourshing relationship which not even the recent assassination of a Russian ambassador in Ankara appears able to derail.
  • In 19the place, with 731,917 page views, was an article which demonstrated what some dubbed “Scenes From The Apocalypse”, or the destructive impact of Mass Immigration On The Streets Of France. With immigration having rapidly become the one social force with greatest impact and upheaval across Europe as a result of Angela Merkel’s “open door” policy, which in 2015 warmly greeted over 1 million mostly Syrian refugees in Europe, only for this “noble” act to lead to dramatic consequences, including the deadliest terrorist attacks to befall both France and Germany in the past year, we anticipate that the adverse impact of mass refugees piling into Europe will continue, and likely lead to more “surprises” in Europe’s busy political calendar in 2017.
  • In 18th place, read over 760,000 times, was an article which initially brought upon us the ire of the mainstream press, yet which in retorspect proved to be completely accurate. In late October, we reported that due to gross oversampling, polls such as those by Reuters and WaPo were misleading, and that the lead suggested for Hillary Clinton, in many cases as wide as double digits, was invalid. Indeed, this was partially confirmed by ABC/Wapo who, as we noted, “Effectively Admitted To Poll Tampering As Hillary’s “Lead” Shrinks To 2-Points.” Just days later the entire nation discovered precisely just how much poll tampering there was when Donald Trump won the election with a landslide in the Electoral College, and all those “experts” who were relying on polls and predicted that Hillary’s chances of winning the election were as high as 95%, were forced to explain how they could have gotten the outcome so very wrong.
  • In 17th place, with over 761,000 page views, was another article which while widely ignored by the mainstream media for various obvious reasons, fascinated much of America when as part of the Podesta email dump one month before the end of the presidential race, we learned how a top DOJ official Peter Kadzik Was Exposed Colluding With The Clinton Campaign. It was troubling stories like these, and not the “hacking of the elections by the Russians”, that contributed to Hillary’s loss, as the public was for the first time ever granted exclusive front row seats into the corruption and cronyism inherent between the government’s “impartial” agencies and the political uber-class. And those, such as this website, who dared to cover these stories and as a result would never be invited to John Podesta dinners with members of the press, got branded as “fake news” for having the temerity to expose such relationships.
  • Incidentally, speaking of “fake news” and collusion between the mainstream media, the government and its various agencies, in 16 place was our article in which we quoted a Top German Journalist who Admitted that it is the Mainstream Media who is the true source of fake news, stating ont he record that “We All Lie For The CIA.” While few in the mainstream dared to cover his statement, we are delighted that at least 790,000 of our readers learned the truth about how news for “popular consumption” is created. Incidentally, the “fake news” witch hunt is nothing new, and has been around for decades, even long before Operation Mockingbird first brought the world’s attention to just how partial and biased the US press really is.
  • No Top 20 list of 2016 articles would be complete without a story on what was the second biggest surprise of the year, namely the Brexit vote, which while predicted by most as unlikely to happen, not only took place but was won by a substantial majority. Over 800,000 stunned raders and market participants read our report on Brexit, “It’s All Over As “Leave” Wins Brexit Referendum: Markets Everywhere Are Crashing“, and while Brexit indeed won, the market crash promptly turned into a surge as Brexit became a catalyst for even more central bank intervention, leading the BOE to cut rates even more and engage in even more aggressive QE. The ultimate outcome: the UK stock market closed 2016 at all time highs.
  • In 14th spot was another glimpse of the internal workings of the Clinton family courtesy of the Podesta leaks, which led to article which was barely covered by the mainstream and yet more than 853,000 readers were fascinated to read that Teneo head Doug Band Accused Chelsea Of Using Clinton Foundation Money To Pay For Her Wedding. The allegation that the Clinton foundation was abusing donor money was one of the reasons why Pay to Play became such a dominant topic in the last days of the presidential campaign, one not even the Mainstream could evade. Ultimately, the public’s eagerness to see disappointment on the face of Clinton foundation donors is likely one of the reasons why Trump was the unexpected winner of the presidential election.
  • In 13th spot in an article that came out just days after Trump “shockingly” won the election, one which laid out the policy goals the president-elect, among which: “Building That Wall”, End “War On Coal”, Repeal Obamacare, Dismantle Dodd-Frank. Perhaps the reason why over 865,000 readers found this article interesting is that there was so little attention focused on actual policy issues during a presidential campaign that was marked more by mudslinging than any actual constructive discussions between the two candidates. While some have likened Trump’s policies to those envisions by Ronald Reagan, others remain skeptical. For now, the market has given the proposed Trump policies the benefit of the doubt, although that may soon change if some or all of this proposal fail to get the required congressional backing, or if Trump himself backs away from his promises.
  • In 12th spot is a post describing an amusing interlude which followed Trump’s presidential victory, namely when the “Greens” Jill Stein sought a recount in several key battleground states in hopes of swinging the election for Hillary. She failed, when not only did the votes not change, and in some cases actually swung in Trump’s favor, but in other cities, such as Detroit evidence emerged that vote tampering had actually happened to assist Clinton’s campaign as some Republicans had alleged. That however did not matter, as Stein had already collected millions from naive democrats, something we described in “The Mysterious Case Of Jill Stein’s Surging Recount Costs” and which was read by over 865,000 readers. Since much of the raised cash remains unspent, one wonders just how much money in Stein’s bank account is there courtesy of those gullible enough to believe that the Green Party candidate could on her own swing the vote in Hillary’s favor.
  • One of the recurring topics during the presidential campaign was the issue of Hillary Clinton’s ailing health. We first touched upon this topic in August with “Is Something Wrong With Hillary: Bizarre Behavior, Seizure Allegations Raise Doubts About Her Health”, an article that quickly became one of our Top 10 most read post of the year with over 1.41 million reads. While much fo the susbequent reports on the issue were pure speculation, Hillary did not help her cause when one month later in New York, she was caught on camera fainting during a “medical episode” while visiting Ground Zero for a September 11 ceremony, an article which became our 11th most read post of the year. As questions about her health persisted, some speculated that it was Hillary’s questionable health that may have impacted her chances of winning the election.
  • Taking a break from the 2016 election, one of the Top 10 posts of 2016 reminded our readers of the rapidly deteriorating relations between the US police force, those tasked with preserving and protecting the peace, and various members of said population, mostly minorities and African Americans, a conflict which came to a head during 2016, when some declared “open season” for US police officers, many of whom were killed in various assaults across US cities. The reverse was sadly also true as we reported in our “Breakdown Of US Citizens Killed By Cops In 2016“, an article which was read over 1.153 million times. Sadly, the rising violence between police officers and American citizens does not appear to be moderating, and we are afraid we will see much more of this in the coming year.
  • While it is unclear how much of an impact it had, when Wikileaks Announced in late October It was Launching “Phase Three” Of Its Election Coverage, it was read over 1.172 million times, becoming the 9th most popular article of the year, confirming that one of the biggest players of the presidential election was neither Donald nor Hillary but Wikileaks, an organization which the Trump administration has accused of working on behalf of the Kremlin and has helped Trump win the election.  To be sure, many of the revelations gleaned from Wikileaks provided an intimate look inside the corruption and cronyism at the highest levels of US politics, and while one can debate their motives, for better or worse Wikileaks certainly played a major role in the election.
  • One name that made the most frequent appearances among the Top 10 articles of 2016, was that of Clinton’s former campaign manager, John Podesta, and also the person many accuse of being directly responsible for Hillary’s loss as a result of his leaked emails exposing the most unprecedented, and unpleasant, details of the US political process and how it was being corrupted almost on a daily basis by the Clinton clan. Indeed, among the Top 10 we see such articles as Podesta To Mills: “We Are Going To Have To Dump All Those Emails” with 1.182 million page views, “John Podesta’s Best Friend At The DOJ Will Be In Charge Of The DOJ’s Probe Into Huma Abedin Emails” with over 1.228 million reads, and “The Smoking Gun: Cheryl Mills Tells Podesta “We Need To Clean This Up – Obama Has Emails From Her“” which was read on over 1.26 million occasions. It was the mainstream media’s unwillingness to cover the Podesta emails that was the main reason why the legacy press accused most of those who did cover the Podesta leaks as engaging in “fake news.” Instead, the reality is that the Podesta emails revealed a side of American politics never seen before, and showed that far from blaming Comey, or the Russians, Clinton’s loss was the result of her own actions. That said, we doubt Clinton or anyone close to her, will ever take responsibility for her failure to win America’s next president, and the blame game will continue.
  • Rounding out the bottom four posts of the year, was a curious question which emerged when police tried to identify the culprit behind anti-Trump riots across various cities. Indeed, our article asking “Who Is Behind The Riots? Charlotte Police Says 70% Of Arrested Protesters Had Out Of State IDs” was read nearly 1.5 million times. Subsequent revelations only confirmed that it was entities associated with George Soros that were among the organizers and primary sources of funding behind various protests meant to appear spontaneous, yet were anything but. Ultimately, the fact that even Soros was unable to prevent a Trump presidency is one of the few reasons why we have a modicum of hope that things under Trump may be different.
  • The third most read article of 2016, with 1.72 million page views, was a post which “Exposed the Playbook For Rigging Polls Through “Oversamples” courtesy of yet another leaked Podesta email. While it was initially mocked, the final outcome of the election confirmed that indeed the Democrats were not only too reliant on oversamples, but as a result of the fake narrative of Hillary’s lead, many potential voters simply decided not to come out and cast a vote at all due to the rampant hubris in the press that Clinton’s victory was absolutely guaranteed. Had poll manipulation not been such a prevalent phenomenon – and as a reminder virtually every single poll showed Hillary ahead of Trump, with polling “experts” predicting that Clinton’s victory chances were about 95% or more – the outcome of the result could have been vastly different if over confidence in her victory had not been so prevalent.
  • The second most read article of the year, with almost 1.8 million reads, was the stunning last minute revelation that the “FBI Found “Tens Of Thousands Of Emails” Belonging To Huma Abedin On Weiner’s Laptop.” To be sure, the FBI’s “intervention” in the home stretch, when Comey infamously reopened the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s email server only to close it days before the election, was the one event most Democrats said cost Hillary the election; the same FBI which several months earlier cleared Clinton of all wrongdoing despite Comey virtually admitting that no reasonable person who have engaged in the actions that the former SecState did without criminal consequences. To many, the FBI’s last minute intervention was the result of a turf war both within the FBI, and between various US government agencies such as the DOJ. It is unclear what the current state of the FBI’s probe into the Clinton Family foundation is as of this moment.
  • Surprisingly, coming in at the top spot with over 9.4 million reads, was an article that went viral, yet had little (directly) to do with the election, and everything to do with the disenchantment felt by the largest US generation, the Millennials. The article “Harsh Realities Of Life Millennials Need To Understand” resonated with so many perhaps because in addition to all the polarities within US society, that between the baby boomers (and the Gen-X and Yers to a lesser extent), and the Millennials, is shaping up as one of the biggest conflicts over the coming years, as millions of America’s wealthiest are set to retire, while those who have the worst job prospects, with few assets to their name, are poised to work for many decades to come in an economy whose growth path has declined substantially in recent decades. Keep a close eye on this particular generational conflict over the coming year as its fallout could have great consequences for the US economy in every aspect of society, from demographics, to economics, to finance.
  • And while it was not the most popular, or most read post of the year, the one article among the Top 10 we found most disturbing, was the recent news that “Obama Quietly Signs The “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act” Into Law,” in the process giving a green light to launch a legal crackdown against any and all distributors of information that the government finds offensive, or not in compliance with the accepted narrative. Meant to serve as a legal basis to shutter any “propaganda” fake news internet portals, it is likely that the government will simply use this to muzzle any website that an unaccountable group of bureaucrats deems to be responsible for stirring up populism through the red herring that is “fake news.” While we are hopeful that the Trump administration will undo this law in the coming year, we sadly have our doubts.

With all that behind us, what is in store for 2017?

We don’t know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don’t try despite endless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of everything: we leave the predicting to the “smartest people in the room” who year after year have been dead wrong, and never more so than in 2016, a year that may have destroyed the reputation of the conventional media and the professional “polling” and “strategist” class for ever. We merely observe, try to find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly sad world, and then write about it.

We do know, however, that after $15 trillion in liquidity has been conjured out of thin air by the world’s central banks, and the tens of trillions of credit money created (and misallocated) by China – a country which was the world’s growth dynamo for the past three decades and which is now rapidly slowing down – the entire world is floating on an ocean of excess money, which for one more year has succeeded in masking just how ugly the truth beneath the calm surface is. Now, with the Fed hiking and as the global growth dynamics shifts from monetary to fiscal policy, as the liquidity tide starts to come out, those swimming naked will finally be exposed, especially if as we expect, the handoff from monetary to fiscal policy is far more volatile than what the market currently prices in. The question we have: how far will the tide be allowed to recede before central banks step in again?

We are confident, however, this in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens then is anyone’s guess. But, as we have promised – and delivered – every year for the past eight, we will be there to document every aspect of it.

Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2017, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life; we bid farewell to 2016 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day – on most occasions doing so with a cynical smile – helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that the system is reduced to (ab)using each and every day just to keep the grand tragicomedy going for at least one more day.