Egypt army launches widest offensive on Rafah in years

The Egyptian army launched the widest offensive on southern Sinai governorate of Rafah in five years last week, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported yesterday. Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said that the offensive had caused a wide wave of displacement as scores of families left their homes in the targeted areas towards cities in Al-Arish. Due to the heavy army bombardment, the families were unable to take their belongings. The tribal sources reported that heavy clashes took place between the Egyptian army and the armed militias believed to be from Wilayat Sinai, a militant group affiliated to Daesh. Medical sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the arbitrary shelling caused the death of 25 women and a child from the targeted areas. In addition, the sources said […]

Be Thankful for Price Gouging in Houston

Via The Daily Bell

Did the hotel crew need the rooms? No. They came to “cover” the storm.

But people fleeing Hurricane Harvey were in desperate need of hotel rooms. And the news crew was complaining about paying a high price.

The news team reported on the terrible incident of gouging. But they actually demonstrate exactly why prices need to go up when demand goes up.

I wonder if they decided to bunk up together and buy fewer rooms because of the high price. After all, that is the whole point of “gouging.”

When demand shoots through the roof, the reason prices need to go up is not simply business greed. Higher prices slow demand.

One family might choose to stay with their annoying inlaws instead of getting a room. Great, one more spot for someone who doesn’t have family in the area.

Another family with three kids might decide to book only one room instead of two. Again, this helps keep rooms available for other people in need. Yes, they will have to spend a bit more, but they will have a place to sleep.

The basic economics of supply and demand is apparently something neither this news crew, nor the Texas Attorney General’s office understand.

Hotels aren’t the only ones guilty of price gouging as Houston grapples with continued rainfall and flooding from Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful storm to hit Texas in more than 50 years. Over the weekend, more than 500 complaints of price gouging were lodged with the Texas attorney general’s office, according to CNBC—including $99 cases of bottled water, gas at $10 a gallon and hotels tripled or quadrupled in price.

“These are things you can’t do in Texas,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told CNBC in an interview Monday. “There are significant penalties if you price gouge in a crisis like this.”

Is this news team willfully ignorant, or actually that clueless? The Attorney General I’m sure just wants to get re-elected.

$100 cases of water means people only buy what they really need, thus leaving a case for the next person in dire need. Otherwise, why not stock up on ten cases of water? You may have six cases leftover at the end of the disaster, while twenty other people dehydrated or desperately drank contaminated water.

Let’s see, $10 per gallon gas? I better only fill up on four gallons to get me out of the area, to another gas station with normal prices. That means four times as many people have gas available to get out of the city, instead of people filling up their tanks like normal.

This is not rocket science. Yes, it can be frustrating and emotional if you are in the situation, but it actually benefits the people in the disaster. What is spending a few hundred extra dollars to avoid drowning, starving, dehydrating, or sleeping in the streets? I bet they spend $600 on a phone without the blink of an eye.

The compassionate thing to do is actually charge higher prices so that supply is spread across more people in need.

If the prices don’t go up, it is first come first serve. That means the lucky ones get all the supplies, and the late comers are left with nothing. Would you rather miss the chance to get a $5 pack of water, or have the opportunity to buy a $100 case of water?

Same goes for generators. When you find out power is going to be out for a week, you want to go out and buy a generator. But to run the air conditioner at the normal temperatures, while keeping the big screen TV on, and every light in the house, you need two generators.

What?! Generators now cost three times what they cost last week! I guess we will conserve electricity, and only cool the house to 75. We can buy the second generator after the situation blows over, and we will be prepared for next time.

But the news team, and the government encourages people to document the gouging and hold businesses legally accountable. Good job guys, you have ensured shortages for the late-comers.

They may be able to keep “honest” businesses in line with the threat of legal action, but haven’t they ever heard of ticket scalpers?

Someone will buy all the cases of water, and then price gouge on the black market instead of the legally accountable government controlled market. Why not buy up all the generators if you know they will be in low supply and high demand? Or are people not allowed to sell their own generators for a high price either?

Stores could limit customers to only buying one. But how do they stop a customer from sending their wife in to get the next one, then their son, brother, or some random guy in exchange for $20?

By the way, shout out to all the preppers who don’t need to buy $100 bottled water, and who already have their generators. They are probably saving the asses of people who were ridiculing them last week for their paranoid nature.

If hotels are gouging, then news crews are vultures. Aren’t they making money on the disaster as well?

We hope everyone in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey stays safe, and are able to acquire all the supplies they need.

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Bitcoin Soars To Record High $4,600

The prices of Bitcoin has exploded overnight, surging over 6% to a new record high above $4600 as demand from South Korea and Japan spurred more safe haven buying as gold and Treasury bond prices rose following North Korea’s most provocative missile launch yet.

Heavy volume taking Bitcoin higher…

 

We note that the big volume spike in Bitcoin struck as US equity markets opened and panic-buyer bid tech stocks…

 

The cryptocurrency landscape is a little more mixed but Ether is gaining…

 

This mornig’s rally has pushed the cryptocurrency market cap over $160 billion for the first time.

 

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2 arrested after raping, killing mentally ill minor in Morocco

Two individuals were arrested last week on suspicion of raping a mentally ill minor, causing her death. The victim’s body was discovered on Monday last week in front of the Moulay Baghdad cemetery in the city of Zeghanghane in the Nador province. Local authorities in Nador arrested the two people for “their alleged involvement in a case of luring a minor girl, not assisting someone in danger, and the concealment of the corpse of the victim,” according to a statement from the Directorate General of National Security (DGSN). According to the authority’s investigation, the individuals aged 22 and 23, took the victim to a discreet location where they allegedly raped her before “she was seized with a discomfort which caused […]

Home Prices In 80% Of US Cities Grow Twice Faster Than Wages… And Then There’s Seattle

According to the latest BLS data, average hourly wages for all US workers rose 2.5% relative to the previous year, well below the Fed’s “target” of 3.5-4.5%, as countless economists are unable to explain how 4.3% unemployment, and “no slack” in the eco…

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How To Play The Gold Break-Out In Fixed Income Markets

While Jeff Gundlach’s favorite chart continues to diverge, as Treasury yields tumble (10Y at 2.08 lows today) and despite gold’s surge, copper’s keeping up…

Knowledge Leaders Capital blog’s Steven Vannelli takes a look at how to value gold and how to leverage the gold breakout into fixed income markets.

Today gold is trading over $1,325, the highest since November 9, 2016.

The breakdown in the USD Index last week was a good signal telegraphing the short-term breakout in gold.

Gold is notoriously difficult to value, but we have found one relationship that seems to consistently work. In the Flow of Funds, we can distill the aggregate value of land in the US by the household sector.

We subtract the nominal value of household real estate from the replacement cost of structures to arrive at the land value of US household real estate. The value of land in the US held by the household sector—a similar asset to gold that doesn’t yield anything per se—tends to lead the value of gold by about five years. Given the increase in land values in recent years, gold should be finding a more solid footing and trending up for the next few years.

In addition to buying gold, gold stocks are always another way to play an increase in gold prices.

A couple other ideas in the fixed income realm are: 1) longer-dated TIPS in the US, 2) Australian bonds, 3) Canadian bonds, and 4) longer-dated fed funds futures.

A move in gold back to $1,350 should correspond to a 40bps move down in 30-year TIPS, which with a duration of around 25 years, would correspond to a 10% increase in price.

Australian bonds, represented by the JP Morgan Government Bond Index, in USD, should also have a good response to higher gold prices.

Same idea when we look at Canadian bonds.

December 2019 Federal Funds futures began trading in January of this year. Rates implied in the December 2019 Fed Funds futures contract have fallen from a high of 2.1% in March to 1.54% currently. So, prices have risen from 97.9 to 98.46 since March.

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57 human rights groups call for UN inquiry in to Yemen

Fifty-seven human rights groups have demanded that a United Nations inquiry takes place on abuses in Yemen, Human Rights Watch reported. The human rights groups called upon the UN Human Rights Council to create an independent inquiry to document the abuses by all parties to the Yemen war. A joint letter mentioned the dire humanitarian crisis and famine amid a civil war. Some 5,110 civilians have been killed since March 2015 and at least 8,719 wounded in the civil war, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Human Rights Council shouldn’t fold to pressure 3rd time. #HRC36 should ensure #YemenInquiryNow https://t.co/2mC8uEAjnO — Philippe Bolopion (@Bolopion) August 29, 2017 The call for an inquiry comes off […]

Somalia: 10 civilians killed in US-Somalia raid

Ten civilians were killed during a United States and Somalia Special Forces raid last week according to locals, UPI reported yesterday. The raid was conducted on a village near Bariire in search for Al-Shabaab fighters associated with Al-Qaeda. US Africa Command are still conducting a post-raid investigation into the incident. The attack went on to kill innocent farmers working on their field. Garowe Online named the farmers as: Ali Aden Ahmed, Abdifitah Yusuf Abdi, Juruum Mohamud Yusuf, Saney Jama Warsame, Ali Abdi Ibrahim, Abdulkadir Abdullahi Dirie, Isack Ali Harun, Mohamud Talasow Abdi, Hussein Khamis Moalim Abdi and Mohamud Mohamed Abdi. “We are aware of the civilian casualty allegations near Bariire, Somalia. We take any allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and […]