You, Too, Armenia?

By Captain Blood - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Captain Blood – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Come on, give us a break, will you? Most of us are still digging out of news on France’s latest terror attack, the 28-pages released on Friday, and Turkey’s so-called coup. Couldn’t you wait until later this coming week?

Apparently not.

Reliable reports are even more scarce than for Turkey as Armenia is even more aggressive in its monitoring and policing of social media. What reports have emerged indicate an organized, armed hostage-taking event demanding the release of a political prisoner rather than a coup.

Persons identified as opposition sympathizers have been taken into custody; numbers taken by law enforcement or military are not available. Police snipers appear in photos.

Armenian media had not been reporting on the event and social media content is rather thin. Some Twitter accounts claim social media is not throttled, but these same accounts may be operated by government agents.

Latest reports indicate state forces are on standby, ‘pending orders for action‘.

Meanwhile, in Turkey...

The Turkish commander of Incirlik air base was taken into custody on charges of complicity with the insurgents — some reports say ‘detained’, others say ‘arrested’.

Roughly 24 hours ago, power had been cut to the air base and flights in and out suspended. The Turkish government suspected the base had been used for fueling so-called rebel aircraft. Flights for anti-ISIS efforts resumed a little over an hour ago.

Erdoğan’s government has now rounded up approximately 6000 on suspicion of complicity with the so-called coup. President Erdoğan is calling for the return of the death penalty. Application of the death penalty could halt Turkey’s accession to the EU as the death penalty is illegal under EU laws.

I won’t even get in to the weirdness of Erdoğan’s claims the coup was led by an ex-pat moderate cleric living in Pennsylvania’s Poconos. Or the empty gestures of UK’s new foreign secretary about the events in Turkey.

(Personally, I find it really hard to believe a conspiracy of ~6000 persons would be completely undetectable in advance.)

It’s nearly 2:00 a.m. local time in Tokyo. The Nikkei 225 opens in seven hours. Watch oil and natural gas prices. Who might benefit from all this volatility?

28 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    Turkey is a shambles. Under its Constitution, the military–not the elected civilian government–is given the role of protecting the government and the Constitution. The actual power of the military seems to be in decline over the last decade or so, under Erdogan. But Erdogan, we have unfortunately learned, is not the vessel into which we want to pour our hopes for a secular, democratic powerhouse in that part of the world. So, what to do? Do we support Democracy there? Do we put up with him and his ilk for the next number of decades, in fear of the alternatives? Do we foment our own coup and install someone we like, who likely will not last (a la Iran)? Or do we sit and watch, just trying to keep a lid on things?
    How many hundreds and hundreds of years did it take for Europe to stabilize into a continent of “civilized” nation states, after the fall of the Roman Empire?

  2. blueba says:

    I just don’t get the stock market post, the last item. Why is it worth mentioning that tomorrow morning in Japan it will be another business day and stock markets will be open as usual? Or that there will likely be volatility or that the stocks of transnational oil corporations could be effected? Is this Bloomberg? Are the readers here stock traders? How is this at all relevant to the lives of the people reading this blog (or any hoi polloi)?

    • bmaz says:

      First off, I care and find it interesting, and given the variety of people that read this blog regularly, I bet a lot of others do too. And I bet a LOT of them own stock and/or have genuine interests in the economic effects of domestic and foreign markets. It is really pretty important stuff.
      If you don’t, nobody really gives a shit because, you see, we write for ourselves here and cover what we think important and interesting without particular regard to what some johnny come lately mope wants or thinks. You want to control what is written, get your own blog. In the meantime, don’t be a whiny cad.

    • jo6pac says:

      I don’t own any stock but my pension fund does. I wouldn’t buy stocks if I could but I do read what’s going on in the market everyday because with what little money I have I like to know who going to F$$$ me next. I do own a car I drive once a week to town so if oil price go up I’ll make sure it’s full. I do own a little PM and like to follow them.

      I’m not sure what your going to do when Football season starts.

      Go to hell 9er owners and Go Raiders.

  3. Rayne says:

    earlofhuntingdon (2:54) — There’s the empty object which is Johnson, and now there’s the empty gestures of a new FS. Probably should have made a distinction that his flailing is his inaugural attempt at pretending statesmanship.

    blueba (2:57) — Come on now, work a little harder about volatility and its impact on the market and politics and their interrelationship. It’s not just the military-industrial complex which benefits from social upheaval.

    Say you’re a member of the ruling class of a country with a massive sovereign wealth fund, and you might also have some large holdings of your own as do the rest of your cohort. Let’s say the single largest export your country produces has plummeted in value over the last two years. But the interesting thing about your key export is that it jumps up in value every time there’s obvious instability near production points or important transit points.

    And let’s say your sovereign wealth is large enough to buy multiple small countries. What do you do with that much cash to ensure increasing returns?

    Quietly (covertly?) promote instability, short while it’s calm, sell while it’s volatile. Presto, you’ve made back all the losses on your country’s largest export over the last two years.

    If you can’t understand this concept, I can’t help you. And yes, it’s absolutely germane to political instability across most of what was the Ottoman Empire let alone the South China Sea.

    Further, I will bet a majority of readers of this site own stock or funds in their investment or retirement accounts. They also rely on gasoline for transportation, natural gas for heating/cooking. They may notice this the first time they pump gas into their car or pay their power bill. This stuff affects their wallet directly. It certainly affects mine.

    • bloopie2 says:

      “This stuff affects their wallet directly. It certainly affects mine.” So, what should they do differently, tomorrow, if they see the markets or the commodity prices going up or down? I note that with all the horrid crap going down in the world these last few weeks, the stock indices are at Record Highs. Are you complaining about that? Do we need more revolutions, to make you richer?

      • bloopie2 says:

        Anyone who is invested in stocks (making themselves into owners not employees so don’t bother sounding Progressive) is Profiting from all that has gone on recently. Do you feel good about that?

        • John Casper says:

          “Anyone who is invested in stocks (making themselves into owners not employees so don’t bother sounding Progressive) is Profiting from all that has gone on recently. Do you feel good about that?”
          Sounds like you do care about the markets.
          1. Have you seen, “The Big Short?” If not, you can get it on Netflix, or see all, or some of the best scenes on youtube.
          2. If you’re not interested in a topic, it’s ok not to comment that every time.
          3. AFAIK, relatively little of current trading is done on public markets such as the NYSE. That’s why those markets are more important than ever. They are what little window we have into the elites–private equity funds–, who control the main-stream-media.
          4. The markets are an international language. Would invite you to consider that Rayne’s moral, accessible, and technical summaries of their movements–provided at no charge– are rare. You can find shorts–dumpers– and longs–pumpers– on Twitter. Many are paid by hedge funds and private equity groups to bilk retail investors.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Yep, yep, yep. Been going on since before the railroad magnates made millions from selling watered stock. Personally, I don’t believe that the existence of Stanford or Vanderbilt makes up for that. The Tulip and South Seas bubbles predated the railroads. What is unheard of is that the Depression – and corporate fears it might lead to greater democracy, which might increase claims on their property and the ways in which they accumulate it – allowed FDR to create the SEC and to impose the most basic requirements for truthtelling on issuers of stock. Corporations have been fighting to rid themselves of rules limiting their profit-taking since they were imposed.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Good point, Rayne, and look how the stocks flipped out over Brexit even though precisely nothing with actual effect (as opposed to political posturing) had occurred.

      So, no doubt more than a few brokers saw Brexit as an accumulation opportunity.

      For many years Turkey was a military dictatorship precisely for the purposes of remaining secular. Erdogan over the years has clearly demonstrated he doesn’t follow the lead of Kemal Ataturk.

  4. bloopie2 says:

    “Watch oil and natural gas prices. Who might benefit from all this volatility?” That sounds just like what a Wall Street Analyst would be saying. You have let yourself in for this one.

    • bmaz says:

      Are you kidding me?? The prices of commodities, and especially oil and gas, affects every person alive in one way or another, and knowing who and what is manipulating them, and who benefits therefrom, is very helpful to understanding the world at any moment. Jeebus. Rayne didn’t “let herself in” for anything. Get a grip.

      • bloopie2 says:

        okay, so it affects me. So what? What should I do differently today, or tomorrow? Lots of things “affect” me, but there’s really nothing I can do about them. Please advise. Should I not go to work tomorrow” Should I not feed the dogs dinner? Please advise.

        • bmaz says:

          Do whatever you want. Or do nothing. Whatever. What seems dubious as hell is the blatant whining you and blueba are engaging in regarding the fact some of us are discussing it, whether the host of the post or commenters. If it doesn’t affect you, fine; the rest of us will get along without you on this subject. Silly carping doesn’t add much and isn’t very polite to the people who host this gig.

  5. wayoutwest says:

    What everyone should know by now is that these incidents of instability don’t have much lasting effect on commodity/oil or stock prices. Since the BREXIT scare the stock market has re-inflated to record highs and oil price has fallen. The speculators can use these incidents to skim some profits but how long can the Fed continue to inflate this artificial bubble?

    The Great Recession continues worldwide and there is no end in sight while the Fed pumps money to the already wealthy to keep the stock market inflated with paper wealth to hide the reality of long term stagnation from the rubes who believe their paper wealth will be there when they need it as real wealth.

  6. Rayne says:

    bloopie2 — I’m going to make an argument here you may not like, brace yourself.

    There’s nothing wrong with capitalism. It’s corruption which is the problem.

    Capitalism means a risk-taker makes a gamble: that an idea they have to meet a market need may or may not be rewarded by profit above what it costs them to serve the market.

    It’s the farmer risking the weather, investing his labor, in growing a crop his neighbors buy. If he bets wrong (grows a crop when there’s a glut of it or the weather damages much of it) he bears the loss.

    He distributes the risk by participating in the market — selling the anticipation of the crop as futures, or selling shares to spread the risk of ownership — so he doesn’t end up bearing the entire loss OR can take his profits earlier.

    Where in that equation is the immoral and unethical? It’s the governance regulating this process where things go completely askew. We want no one to go hungry so we write crop guarantees, and then regulate the crop’s production to ensure food security and safety. But who has an interest in how these assurances are written besides the consumers and the producers? Can they manipulate these relatively basic functions in a way that sucks value out of the simple market conversation between the farmer and his buyer, while offering very little to nothing in return? That’s where the problem exists.

    Reduce risks to growers to ensure they remain in business from season to season? Of course.
    Reduce risks to the ultimate consumer of the crop, so they are able to buy the next season? Certainly.
    Ensure the entire market chain makes a profit along the way? Nope. There still needs to be risk in the chain to communicate production levels. And nobody along the way should be absolutely guaranteed a profit without adding value and taking risk.

    Where do our elected representatives fit in this equation? Whose interests are they serving? Are they adding or extracting value from this process? What about the other players in this chain, like the commodities brokers and investment bankers?

    We’re not asking some fundamental questions about the contributions of third parties. Our lack of comprehension and education allows value extraction without any returns to the persons taking risks at the farthest ends of the market chain, while out of sight of the producer and consumer. The fact that you don’t understand the place that investors have is an example of that weakness.

    I note the market’s response to political instability related to oil and gas because it affects the consumer in more than one way — at their immediate pocketbook, in their future through their retirement savings, and their overall well-being by increasing economic and political risks to them as individuals and citizens of an exposed nation-state. Political instability can be gamed to ensure profits to those who bear no risk of production or consumption. The gaming of the market is the corruption of the market conversation.

    IMO, the massive risks and costs — not just in purely economic terms — of oil and gas demand we leave production and consumption of them behind. I hold a rather small amount stock in a gas pipeline company here in the U.S. which I will sell as soon as I find a decent exit point (probably coincident with a kid graduating from college, whose tuition I paid for through investments). I refuse to buy anything else related to fossil fuels. I am watching for entry points into alternative energy stocks because I believe this is where we need to direct investment for our future.

    Literally, my future since my next investments won’t be to pay for my kids’ college but my own retirement. Calling it ‘eating my own dogfood’ — I’m going to live on what I believe.

    Oh, and two more points for you to ponder: 1) Corruption can and does exist in other economic systems, like communism and socialism. How do countries ensure corruption is prevented or eliminated from these economic systems? 2) Would you rather only conservatives bore the risk of investing in products instead of liberals? What would a future look like where only conservatives decided what goods would be made?

  7. Rayne says:

    Rugger9 (11;48) — I don’t personally think the market was off base to depreciate the pound once the Brexit vote became clear. I think there was a steep overreaction, but the market has reasonable concerns about the value of the pound because part of the UK’s overall business value came from a reduction in costs+risks to do business with the EU.

    There have been many reports of government letters sent to non-UK citizens working in the UK — like the banking industry — telling them they will have to leave. This increases the risk to do business in the UK as brainpower providing a competitive edge leaves. There has to be a markdown on the UK’s value for this reason. The fluctuation of the pound’s value is the means by which the market negotiates that discount.

  8. bevin says:

    “There have been many reports of government letters sent to non-UK citizens working in the UK — like the banking industry…”
    Have there?
    What would ‘government letters’ be?

    • John Casper says:

      Doesn’t mention, “government letters,” but it’s consistent Rayne’s takeaway.

      “Some in the industry are contemplating leaving Europe altogether.
      ‘We are getting more resumes every day from London,’ said Matthew Hoyle, who runs a financial services headhunting firm in Hong Kong. ‘I don’t think many people in London are very keen to move to Paris, Frankfurt … English is a problem there and it’s really very different from London.'”

  9. wayoutwest says:

    The stock market is up slightly and oil price is down so my earlier observation seems to be accurate. When this stock bubble collapses it won’t be because of some manipulation of an international incident but because the big players decide to escape with their bubble gains leaving the rubes holding an empty gas bag.

    There are still short term gains to be made investing in Chinese sweatshops and other capitalist enterprises but even those gambles are showing the negative effects of the Great and continuing Recession. Some of the oil boosters are even talking about oil prices never recovering because we have reached the end of growth.

    • John Casper says:

      The second graph at 6:03 last night beginning with “The Great Recession…,” was succinct and accurate.
      You wrote, “The stock market is up slightly and oil price is down so my earlier observation seems to be accurate.”
      1. You’re taking not even one full day of trading data to confirm your “observation?” 1.2 Do you predict the direction of crude and the S&P (or whatever exchange you use) every day?
      You wrote, “What everyone should know by now is that these incidents of instability don’t have much lasting effect on commodity/oil or stock prices.”
      2. Does your analysis include closing the Straits of Hormuz? 2.1 What about a Shiite revolt in the Saudi oil fields? 2.2 What about a collapse in China’s credit markets? 2.3 If, “everyone,” knows how stable, “commodity/oil or stock prices,” are, why is gold headed north? 2.4 Does “everyone,” have access to high frequency trading platforms, so they can exit their positions before, “everyone,” else?
      You wrote, “The speculators can use these incidents to skim some profits but how long can the Fed continue to inflate this artificial bubble?”
      3. Do you mean using the FDIC to insure the credit default swaps that undergird the hedges on the price of oil? 3.1 Or, did you mean something else?
      You wrote, “There are still short term gains to be made investing in Chinese sweatshops and other capitalist enterprises but even those gambles are showing the negative effects of the Great and continuing Recession.”
      4. How does a retail investor invest in, “Chinese sweatshops” for, “short term gains?” Please be specific. 4.1 What, “other capitalist enterprises,” yield these, “short term gains?” Please be specific.

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