The End Of The (Petro)Dollar: What The Fed Doesn’t Want You To Know

Authored by Shaun Bradley via TheAntiMedia.org,

The United States’ ability to maintain its influence over the rest of the world has been slowly diminishing. Since the petrodollar was established in 1971, U.S. currency has monopolized international trade through oil deals with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and continuous military interventions. There is, however, growing opposition to the American standard, and it gained more support recently when several Gulf states suddenly blockaded Qatar, which they accused of funding terrorism.

Despite the mainstream narrative, there are several other reasons why Qatar is in the crosshairs. Over the past two years, it conducted over $86 billion worth of transactions in Chinese yuan and has signed other agreements with China that encourage further economic cooperation. Qatar also shares the world’s largest natural gas field with Iran, giving the two countries significant regional influence to expand their own trade deals.

Meanwhile, uncontrollable debt and political divisions in the United States are clear signs of vulnerability. The Chinese and Russians proactively set up alternative financial systems for countries looking to distance themselves from the Federal Reserve.  After the IMF accepted the yuan into its basket of reserve currencies in October of last year, investors and economists finally started to pay attention. The economic power held by the Federal Reserve has been key in financing the American empire, but geopolitical changes are happening fast. The United States’ reputation has been tarnished by decades of undeclared wars, mass surveillance, and catastrophic foreign policy.

One of America’s best remaining assets is its military strength, but it’s useless without a strong economy to fund it. Rival coalitions like the BRICS nations aren’t challenging the established order head on and are instead opting to undermine its financial support. Qatar is just the latest country to take steps to bypass the U.S. dollar. Russia made headlines in 2016 when they started accepting payments in yuan and took over as China’s largest oil partner, stealing a huge market share from Saudi Arabia in the process. Iran also dropped the dollar earlier this year in response to President Trump’s travel ban. As the tide continues to turn against the petrodollar, eventually even our allies will start to question what best serves their own interests.

Many E.U. member states are clashing with the unelected leadership in Brussels over immigration, terrorism, and austerity measures. If no solutions are found and things deteriorate, other countries could potentially follow the U.K.’s lead and vote to leave, as well. It is starting to become obvious that countries in Eastern Europe will look to the East to get the resources their economies need.

China, Russia, and India are all ahead of the curve and started stockpiling gold years ago. They recognize that hard assets will be the measure of true wealth in the near future — not fiat money. The historic hyperinflation that has occurred in these countries solidified the importance of precious metals in their monetary systems. Unfortunately, most Americans are ignorant of the past and will likely embrace more government bailouts and money printing when faced with the next recession. Even Fed officials have admitted that more quantitative easing is likely the only path going forward.

Several renowned investors have warned about this ongoing shift of economic power from West to East, but bureaucrats and central bankers refuse to admit how serious things could get. The impact on the average person could be devastating if they are not properly educated and prepared for the fallout.

Economist and author James Rickards summarized why China and Russia are so interested in acquiring precious metals:

“They are stuck with their dollars. They fear, rightly, that the US will inflate its way out of its $19 trillion mountain of debt. China’s solution is to buy gold. If dollar inflation emerges, China’s Treasury holdings will devalue, but the dollar price of its gold will soar. A large gold reserve is a prudent diversification.  Russia’s motives are geopolitical. Gold is the model 21st century weapon for financial wars.The US controls dollar payments systems and, with help from European allies, can eject adversaries from the international payments system called Swift. Gold is immune to such assaults. Physical gold in your custody cannot be hacked, erased, or frozen. Moving gold is a simple way for Russia to settle accounts without US interference.”

Mainstream pundits will continue to distract the public with the same optimistic talking points, but taking advantage of this calm before the storm is important. As this transition takes place, central bankers will sacrifice anything and everything to keep their Ponzi scheme going. Only individuals can take the initiative to protect themselves and be able to help others who won’t be as lucky. Those who embrace sound money and cryptocurrencies will thrive in this new competitive global economy, but if America fails to adapt, the same fiat system that gave it power will drag it into poverty.

“CNN Caught Cold” In Undercover Sting – Producer Admits Russia Fake News Story Pushed For Ratings

Update: President Trump has noted the series of CNN 'Fake News' stories once again…

*  *  *

Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

The investigative journalists at Project Veritas have done it again! Known for their undercover sting operations, such as the one which exposed the DNC's highly organized network of professional agitators sent to disrupt Trump rallies, voter fraud, or the undercover operation which led to the arrests of Antifa thugs planning to disrupt an the inauguration "deploraball" event.

This time, the organization led by James O'Keefe has infiltrated CNN

 

A PV journalist covertly filmed a candid discussion with CNN [health] producer John Bonifield, where the "Very Fake News" network employee admitted that the whole Russia story against President Trump is nothing more than a ratings grab by CNN's CEO Jeff Zucker – based on the fact that most of CNN's liberal audience wants to see the President go down in flames.

Bonifield also admitted that he hasn't seen any evidence of President Trump committing a crime.

John Bonifield: Even if Russia was trying to swing an election, we try to swing their elections, our CIA is doing shit all the time, we're out there trying to manipulate governments.

 

I haven't seen any good enough evidence to show that the President committed a crime.

 

I know a lot of people don't like him and they'd like to see him get kicked out of office…. but that's a lot different than he actually did something that can get him kicked out of office.

Russia is for ratings!

PV Journalist: Why is CNN constantly like "Russia this, Russia that?"

 

Bonifield: Because it's ratings. Our ratings are incredible right now.

 

My boss, I shouldn't say this, my boss yesterday we were having a discussion about this dental shoot and he was like I just want you to know what we're up against here. Just to give you some context, President Trump pulled out of the climate accords. For a day and a half we covered the climate accords. And the CEO of CNN [Jeff Zucker] said in our internal meeting, he said good job everybody covering the climate accords, but we're done with it. Let's get back to Russia.

 

But all the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school, you're just like, that's adorable. That's adorable. This is a business.

True feelings about Russia…

John Bonifield was asked directly what he thinks about Russia… and responded with what many on the right have been saying for months; If it was something really good, it would have already leaked:

PV Journalist: But honestly, you think the whole Russia shit is just bullshit?

 

Bonifield: Could be bullshit. I mean, it's mostly bullshit right now. Like, we don't have any giant proof. Then they say, "well there's still an investigation going on." I don't know, if they were finding something we would know about it. They way these leaks happen, they would leak it. They'd leak. If it was something really good, it'd leak.

 

I just feel like they don't really have it but they want to keep digging. And so I think the President is probably right to say, like "look, you are witch hunting me. You have no smoking gun, you have no real proof."

Watch:

  

 

UPDATE: Full video here:

  

 

Quants Haven’t Made Human Investors Obsolete Just Yet

We are already unquestionably living in the era of the quantitative fund: Not only are quant funds receiving a larger percentage of new investor money than their discretionary peers, but as JPM Morgan’s head quant noted earlier this month, passive and quantitative funds now account for about 60% of equity assets, compared with less than 30% a decade ago.

Indeed, the chart below confirms what JPM already revealed: "for now, systematic traders are the dominating force in markets."

But while the asset-management space is increasingly looking like a “quant’s world”, with carbon-based traders looking increasingly anachronistic, a handful of fund managers are aggressively pushing back against the notion that human investors are headed toward obsolescence.

At least that’s what a quartet of money managers have posited in recent weeks, according to Bloomberg.

“Winton, a $30.6 billion hedge fund that’s used algorithms to trade for two decades, told clients that people must still make the big decisions. Michael Hintze, who runs another major fund, said computer models can spot market anomalies but rarely provide answers. Jordi Visser, investment chief at a third firm, said humans still have the upper hand when it comes to recognizing patterns. Billionaire bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach said he’s betting people will prevail."

“Despite the immense power of modern computing, it is neither advisable — nor even possible — to dispense with humans entirely,” Winton, founded by David Harding, who earned a degree in theoretical physics before going into finance, wrote in its letter to clients this month.”

These fund managers are not alone in their belief in the essentiality of human reasoning: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he isn’t worried about artificial intelligence taking American’s jobs. Never mind that his remarks arrived on the same day as a PWC report which showed that more than a third of U.S. jobs could be at "high risk" of automation by the early 2030s, a percentage that’s greater than in Britain, Germany and Japan.

Not to mention what Bloomberg described as “a crescendo of warnings from the likes of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and software billionaire Bill Gates that big data and machine learning may unleash a wave of automation on the US.”

Doubleline Capital’s Gundlach said he doesn’t believe in machine’s taking over finance. His advice for beating them? “Work hard.”

Jeff Gundlach

Winton said that while some tasks, like recurring calculations for assessing risk and vetting trading algorithms for anomalies, might be outsourced to computers. Most investment decisions at the fund will still need to be vetted by humans.

“Winton wrote in its letter, there are big tasks at hedge funds ripe for automation, such as performing large-scale, recurring calculations for assessing risk across portfolios. But according to the firm, whose 450 employees include astrophysicists and other scientists, computers are far from ready to make investing decisions independently. Instead, people will be running software at every stage of the process.

 

Winton managers design and choose algorithms that are ultimately approved or rejected by its investment board. And while computers are better suited to handle early stages of checking data, once anomalies are flagged, humans are better at cross-referencing the irregularities against other sources to draw conclusions, the London-based firm said.”

 

“The notion that human involvement in investment management should, or even could, be fully automated is wide of the mark,” Winton, which returned 1.3 percent this year through May on its main fund, wrote in the letter.”

To be sure, none of this will stop the biggest banks – and at least one fund – from trying to automate as many tasks as possible, from aspects of underwriting, to asset management, to legal tasks.

“Billionaire trader Steven Cohen is experimenting with ways to automate his best money managers. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is developing systems to eliminate hundreds of hours of human labor in initial public offerings. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is using machine-learning techniques to take over work from lawyers. (Its CEO, Jamie Dimon, said in an interview published Monday that people are massively overreacting to the threat of technology.)”

But even the automation of low-level tasks could threaten at least one crucial aspect of the hedge-fund industry: The exorbitant fees charged by most managers.

“Hedge fund managers, for example, traditionally charged clients 2 percent of assets and 20 percent of profits. It’s harder to justify if automated platforms can achieve decent results without a big bite. Such has been the case with index funds.”

Some fund managers are also skeptical of backtesting – the process of trying to determine the efficacy of a trading algorithm by checking it against historical data. Successful traders will find ways to incorporate technology into their processes without relying on it alone to drive investment decisions, one fund manager said.

“The industry’s survivors will be the ones who imbibe technology into their processes, Visser said. The trick is to use a combination of human judgment and models, “while artificial intelligence tries to catch up to the power of the brain,” he said.”

And while some quant-driven strategies have certainly proven successful at sniffing out market anomalies, successful investors still need to grasp the basics.

"Hintze at CQS, a $14 billion hedge fund based in London, concedes that quant-driven strategies are here to stay, and that they’re good at taking advantage of anomalies in markets. While engineering and mathematics are intriguing, successful investing is based on an understanding of fundamentals, technicals and investor sentiment, he said."

The Most Dangerous Fake News Of All Is Peddled By The Corporate Media

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

This is not the sort of thing you see in a confident, brave, and civilized nation, it’s the sort of stuff you’d expect to see toward the end. It’s the stuff of craven war-mongers, of dishonest cowards, of a totally deranged and very dangerous media. The signs are everywhere; imperial decline is set to accelerate rapidly in the coming years.

 

– From the April post: Prepare for Impact – This is the Beginning of the End for U.S. Empire

Fake news, propaganda and garbage information is everywhere and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. That being said, the key thing to understand is fake news from obscure websites you’ve never heard of is not what represents the real, global danger of rampant dishonest information. The real danger of fake news is the stuff that’s consistently being vomited onto the pages of “respectable,” billionaire-owned corporate media.

Obscure blogs and independent thinkers such as myself aren’t influencing foreign policy, domestic policy or anything that really matters (look around you). While alternative media did indeed play a monumental role in the election of Donald Trump, how much really changed when it comes to the true power centers?

Not much, not much at all. Goldman Sachs and Wall Street are more in control than ever before, and neocons and other assorted interventionists seem to be running foreign policy.

All of this reminds me of the famous saying, “if voting made any difference, they’d make it illegal.” Indeed, the time has come for all of us to own up to the very real and present danger of corporate media, which seemingly exists to provide public relations for oligarchs and the foreign policy establishment. Not that this should be surprising, you’d have to be the most naive creature on earth to think newspapers owned by billionaires are going to tell the public the truth. Indeed, I made the following observation earlier today on Twitter.

Truth be told, it’s way beyond bizarre, it’s downright terrifying. Note that most major newspapers could barely catch their breath from demonizing Trump during his first three months, yet suddenly saw him as a heroic figure as soon as he lobbed a few bombs at Assad. This is like giving a puppy a treat for peeing on a wee wee pad. The corporate press is literally training Trump to wage as much imperial war as possible. It’s crucial to understand that Trump, or any other administration really, can only do so much on the interventionist war front as the corporate press permits and pushes. Unfortunately, the corporate press is always pushing for war.

Today provided yet another example of how the “respectable” oligarch-owned press unquestionably repeats government propaganda when it comes to foreign policy. Two days after Seymour Hersh blew a hole in the fairytale account of Assad using chemical weapons in April, and merely a few hours after Sean Spicer started conditioning the public for more war with evidence-free claims that another chemical attack was imminent, here’s how the New York Times covered the April attack.

Naturally, you have the photo of the hurt child to pull at your heartstrings underneath which is written, “after a nerve agent was used in an attack in April.” Of course, there is no proof that a nerve agent was used in the attack; in fact, there seems to be increasing proof that there wasn’t. Yet, that doesn’t stop The New York Times from doing it again and again later in the piece.

WASHINGTON — American officials have seen chemical weapons activity at a Syrian air base that was used in the spring nerve gas attack on rebel-held territory, the Defense Department said on Tuesday, scrambling to explain what prompted a White House statement a day earlier that Syria would “pay a heavy price” if it carried out another one.

 

Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that what looked like active preparations for a chemical attack were seen at Al Shayrat airfield, which was struck in April by American cruise missiles two days after the Syrian government dropped bombs loaded with toxic chemicals in northern Syria. Another Defense Department official said that an aircraft shelter at Al Shayrat that had been hit by an American Tomahawk missile was being used for the preparation.

 

The United States and other world powers have accused Mr. Assad’s forces of repeatedly using chemical weapons to subdue rebels seeking to topple his government. Chemical attacks killed more than 1,000 people near Damascus in 2013 and dozens more in northern Syria in April of this year.

The paper consistently states non-facts as facts in order to push a particular narrative. Meanwhile, here’s some of what Seymour Hersh reported in German newspaper Die Welt over the weekend:

The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives. Details of the attack,  including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.

 

Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president’s determination to ignore the evidence. “None of this makes any sense,” one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. “We KNOW that there was no chemical attack … the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real intel and know the truth … I guess it didn’t matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.”

 

The Execute Order governing U.S. military operations in theater, which was issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  provide instructions that demarcate the relationship between the American and Russian forces operating in Syria. “It’s like an ops order – ‘Here’s what you are authorized to do,’” the adviser said. “We do not share operational control with the Russians. We don’t do combined operations with them, or activities directly in support of one of their operations.  But coordination is permitted. We keep each other apprised of what’s happening and within this package is the mutual exchange of intelligence.  If we get a hot tip that could help the Russians do their mission, that’s coordination; and the Russians do the same for us. When we get a hot tip about a command and control facility,” the adviser added, referring to the target in Khan Sheikhoun, “we do what we can to help them act on it.” “This was not a chemical weapons strike,” the adviser said. “That’s a fairy tale. If so, everyone involved in transferring, loading and arming the weapon – you’ve got to make it appear like a regular 500-pound conventional bomb – would be wearing Hazmat protective clothing in case of a leak. There would be very little chance of survival without such gear. Military grade sarin includes additives designed to increase toxicity and lethality. Every batch that comes out is maximized for death. That is why it is made. It is odorless and invisible and death can come within a minute. No cloud. Why produce a weapon that people can run away from?”

 

The target was struck at 6:55 a.m. on April 4, just before midnight in Washington. A Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) by the U.S. military later determined that the heat and force of the 500-pound Syrian bomb triggered  a series of secondary explosions that could have generated a huge toxic cloud that began to spread over the town, formed by the release of the fertilizers, disinfectants and other goods stored in the basement, its effect magnified by the dense morning air, which trapped the fumes close to the ground. According to intelligence estimates, the senior adviser said, the strike itself killed up to four jihadist leaders, and an unknown number of drivers and security aides. There is no confirmed count of the number of civilians killed by the poisonous gases that were released by the secondary explosions, although opposition activists reported that there were more than 80 dead, and outlets such as CNN have put the figure as high as 92. A team from Médecins Sans Frontières, treating victims from Khan Sheikhoun at a clinic 60 miles to the north, reported that “eight patients showed symptoms – including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation – which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds.” MSF also visited other hospitals that had received victims and found that patients there “smelled of bleach, suggesting that they had been exposed to chlorine.” In other words, evidence suggested that there was more than one chemical responsible for the symptoms observed, which would not have been the case if the Syrian Air Force – as opposition activists insisted – had dropped a sarin bomb, which has no percussive or ignition power to trigger secondary explosions. The range of symptoms is, however, consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals, including chlorine and the organophosphates used in many fertilizers, which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin.

Given the reporting of a journalist with decades of history calling out government b.s., you’d think the New York Times would at least mention Hersh’s reporting in their article. Nope, not a peep.

The Atlantic does a similar thing. Here are a few excerpts from its Syria piece this morning. Let’s start with the title.

“Another” chemical attack. Meanwhile, it looks like the last one never even happened, yet does The Atlantic mention the report authored by Sy Hersh two days earlier? Of course not, but it does continue to repeat the fake news claim of an April chemical weapons attack over and over.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer released a statement Monday night accusing the Syrian government of potentially engaging in preparations for another chemical weapons attack. While the statement offered minimal details, it argued that a future attack “would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.” On April 4, a government-led chemical attack in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province resulted in the deaths of more than 80 civilians. According to Spicer, the Syrian government’s latest preparations closely resemble those carried out prior to April 4.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

If indeed enacted, a new chemical weapons attack could have reverberating consequences throughout the international community. In response to April’s attack, the U.S. launched 59 tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base—the nation’s first military operation against an Arab government since President Obama’s intervention in Libya in 2011. At the time, the administration referred to the strike as a “one-off” occurrence intended to deter future chemical attacks. But, in the wake of the operation, administration officials reported that President Trump had been deeply troubled by graphic images of Syrian children struggling to breathe. “No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” Trump said while announcing the strike.

The nation’s first military operation against an Arab government since President Obama’s intervention in Libya in 2011.”

Since that went so well, we may as well do it again.

Meanwhile, do you know anything about David G. Bradley, the man who owns Atlantic Media? I didn’t think so. Here’s a brief snippet mentioning him from a 2010 Daily Beast article about D.C. “richest power players.”

Far more visible is well-heeled entrepreneur and Atlantic Media publisher David G. Bradley, who owns The National Journal, The Atlantic, and Hotline. In 1979, a 26-year-old Bradley founded the Research Council of Washington. Over the years he zeroed in on health care and finance, and in 1997 he sold the company for more than $300 million. He is known for hosting monthly ultra-exclusive off-the-record dinners—a Valhalla of insiders, top journalists, foreign leaders, and White House officials—in his glass-enclosed office at the Watergate. “It’s a joy for me,” Bradley has said. “I launched it for the romance of it. It’s more book club than it is clubhouse.”

I’ll let you make your own determination as to whether or not this sort of thing is likely to lead to hard-hitting, power challenging journalism. Sounds like a bunch of elitists stroking each other to me.

Which brings me to the main point. The major newspapers do not hold power to account. They aren’t working for the public interest, and you can see the results all around us. With government, corporate oligarchs and the media entirely aligned against the best interests of the population at large, the situation looks very bleak. The imperial train wreck appears unstoppable.

 

Chinese Satellite Data Hint At Ominous Manufacturing Slowdown

Chinese factory activity contracted last month for the first time in nearly a year when the Caixin PMI dipped below 50, the threshold for growth. And now, early indicators for the month of June – including one satellite-based measure – suggest that there’s more pain ahead for the manufacturing sector in the world’s second-largest economy.

A reading published by San Francisco-based SpaceKnow Inc. which uses commercial satellite imagery to monitor activity across thousands of industrial sites signaled deterioration in the country’s manufacturing sector for the first time since August. The gauge, known as the China Satellite Manufacturing Index, fell to 49.6, below the 50 break-even level. The index incorporates satellite data from thousands of industrial sites across China.

Satellite imagery has often proved eerily presceint in the recent past: In the US, satellite data analyzing activity in retailers' parking lots pointed to significant activity weakness at core US retail locations, even as sentiment indicators were suggesting an uptick in sales following the election.

Meanwhile, small- and medium-sized enterprises showed the lowest level of confidence in 16 months, and conditions in the steel business remained lackluster, according to Bloomberg.

Some other indicators have been slightly more sanguine: sales-manager sentiment stayed positive, and outlook of financial experts recovered.

Still, data suggest that output in China’s economy slowed during the second quarter after a strong start to the year, with investment slowing, some credit becoming tighter and signs that curbs on the country’s property market are starting to have an impact.

Should growth continue to slow, China’s leaders would find themselves in an awkward position, with the country’s twice-a-decade leadership transition expected to occur this fall when the 19th Party Congress convenes to appoint its new senior leadership. It’s widely believed that China’s President Xi Jinping will begin serving his second five-year term.

Another gauge, Standard Chartered Plc’s Small and Medium Enterprise Confidence Index slumped to a 16-month low at 54.7 – a sign that smaller companies are finding it harder to obtain credit as regulators move to damp financial risks. A sub-gauge of lending fell below 50, signaling deterioration, for the first time on record.

These data show that Chinese banks are growing reluctant to lend to small Chinese companies, preferring larger, more established peers, this leaves those companies in line to feel the brunt of the People’s Bank of China’s monetary tightening, as the central bank tries to ease the market off of its dependence on repeated liquidity injections.

“Although the central bank will likely provide sufficient liquidity to avoid a liquidity crunch, banks may still prefer lending to bigger rather than smaller companies amid tighter liquidity conditions,” according to Standard Chartered's Kelvin Lau and Hunter Chan.

That could be the spark that ignites China’s “Minsky moment” – the financial cataclysm that Kyle Bass and other perma-china-bears have been waiting for when China’s overleveraged market crumbles to dust – might finally be in the offing. Indeed, though China's markets have been relatively calm recently, the PBOC's attempts to tighten liquidity have sparked some instability in recent months. Back in March, the central bank had to engage in mini bailouts when a jump in interbank rates caused some small regional lenders to default on their interbank loans after money market rates shot higher. Meanwhile, China's weakening credit impulse should give any China bulls pause.

In one ominous sign, Hong Kong microcap stocks crashed overnight after a rumor that local exchanges might force all “zombie companies “ to delist triggered a wave of margin calls. The selloff triggered worries about stability in the country’s equity market, which has seen a series of spectacular crashes in individual names this year, despite the broader Hang Seng benchmark’s strong performance.

Compounding worries for investors is a report published by Caixin a few weeks ago saying that two dozen Chinese companies asked their employees to buy their stock, promising to cover their losses – a transparent attempt at pumping up the price to fend off collateral calls on stock-backed loans.

What's more, in a fantastic expose from earlier this month, Reuters reported on how Chinese firms' "rehypothecating" collateral between two and three borrowers, suggesting that billions, or maybe even trillions, of dollars' worth of loans are based on so-called ghost collateral, leaving them effectively unsecured.

Meanwhile, the S&P Global Platts China Steel Sentiment Index remained at a lackluster level — 38.12 out of 100 points. The gauge is based on a survey of about 75 to 90 China-based market participants including traders and steel mills.

"Market participants do not expect any great improvement over the coming month," Paul Bartholomew, a senior managing editor at S&P Global Platts in Melbourne, wrote in a release. "Confidence in the export market has evaporated after two stronger months, as overseas customers are wary about buying when the price direction is so unclear.”

In addition to the ominous economic indicators, political tensions are worsening, too. Two weeks after Trump's ominous China “tried and failed” to contain North Korea tweet, the leaders of the two global powers appear to be getting closer to the default relationship that many expected after the election – that is to say, a hostile one. The Trump report follows last night's news that the United States plans to place China on its global list of worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor, a step that according to Reuters could aggravate tensions with Beijing.