Happy Birthday

Wed, Oct 8, 2014 - 6:34am

WARNING: This piece is a shameless attempt to distract you from the world of precious metals, finance, economics and geopolitics to draw attention to a ‘strictly human interest’ story. Please do not make ANY decisions, let alone investment ones, based on the information presented. This is purely for entertainment purposes.

Politicians and governments garner favor, popularity and support from their constituents in different ways.

Some favor populist measures, such as tax breaks or benefit ‘giveaways’ to citizenry, subsidies and social entitlements – be they cash transfers or fuel/food price controls. Thus it has been since at least the days of Rome (and erudite readers can no doubt point to much earlier instances), when panem et circenses (bread and circuses) became a part of everyday parlance.

When such measures prove inadequate to generate sufficient fervor due to, say, overwhelmingly deteriorating economic conditions, or when civil liberties and human rights are being systematically curtailed, or when war is deemed necessary (or all three of the above), the specter of an external, powerful enemy and its act of outrageous aggression and villainy almost magically materialize EVERY SINGLE TIME. Some 'fringe' students of history may even point to incidents where acts of sabotage and violence may have in fact been either carried out or 'gently encouraged to happen' by agents of various government actors. This in turn justifies not only immediate and extensive government (re)action -- but a mechanism by which this can be done to the cheering on by at least a tacit majority of the population.

But in the end, both of the above avenues are rather costly. Social benefits cost taxpayer money, wars cost lots of money AND taxpayer lives (though numerically this latter has gone through a deflationary bias in recent decades, at least on the Western side). Wars mean that energy supplies must be expended, geopolitical power must be put at risk. Even via close central planning and policies of total spectrum of dominance, wars introduce elements of chance and unintended or at least poorly controlled consequences. It is a great and mighty tool in the toolbox of the ruling bodies, but ultimately a resort for special, truly deserving occasions.

The method for influencing popular opinion with the greatest ROI, great scalability (to a limit), lowest cost of entry, fewest distortions of economic systems (unless so desired, of course) and lowest ratio of unintended consequences: pure, uncut and mainlined propaganda. This of course must also be liberally applied as part of BOTH avenues above, and so remains a constant garnish (some might even say determinant) of public discourse about the performance and likeability of governments.

One of the original tomes on the topic is a surprisingly short read, and its opening and closing paragraphs may sound chilling to some:

Page 1: “THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.”

Last page: “Undoubtedly the public is becoming aware of the methods which are being used to mold its opinions and habits. If the public is better informed about the processes of its own life, it will be so much the more receptive to reasonable appeals to its own interests. No matter how sophisticated, how cynical the public may become about publicity methods, it must respond to the basic appeals, because it will always need food, crave amusement, long for beauty, respond to leadership.

If the public becomes more intelligent in its commercial demands, commercial firms will meet the new standards. If it becomes weary of the old methods used to persuade it to accept a given idea or commodity, its leaders will present their appeals more intelligently.

Propaganda will never die out. Intelligent men must realize that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help to bring order out of chaos.” Edward Bernays: Propaganda (1928)

So it is with this lengthy preamble that I present to you what it looks like when efforts to sway the populace are executed with the most stringent care taken to safeguard shareholder return on investment in deploying funds. С Днем Рождения , товарищ Путин. Happy Birthday, Comrade.

"С Днем Рождения, Президент России" - поют "ХИТрюшки"

While most of the photos below are from (aka George Malets?) -- (please take a moment to peruse the author's blog, many more can be found there), the story was also covered in Radio Free Europe, ABC News and even the WashPo -- along with any number of media outlets decrying the sheer cult of personality on display. Putinwear and iPutin at the GUM: "GUM always was and remains the greatest country’s store."

The 12 Labors of Putin and other neoclassical pop-art, as envisioned in a collection put on display by (impromptu) curator Mikhail Antonov:

Slaying the Terrrrrist of Nemea, fighting the Hydra of Western Sanctions (note the flag on the head already severed), and vanquishing the Stymphalian Birds of Syria:

Herding the SinoRussian Relations of Geryon

Taming the Cretan Bull of Crimea

But all that is really just a warm-up. Perusing the media, one may notice that lots of great impromptu events seem to have popped up across the nation. While a few folks may have had a chance to visit an art gallery near the Kremlin, presumably many more passed by this bridge in Moscow:

A huge banner depicting U.S. President Barack Obama wearing a T-shirt wishing Russia's President Vladimir Putin a happy birthday, hangs on a bridge in Moscow, October 7, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/NEWS AGENCY RIDUS

Not to mention these fine, spontaneous expressions of civic gratitude in cities across Russia:

Russia: These 7 cities graffitied 'THANKS' to Putin on his 62nd bday

“The graffiti on the facades of apartment buildings spell out the words: Sovereignty, Memory, Arctic, Strength, History, Safety, and Olympics. The first letters of these words (Suveritet, Pamyat', Arktika, Sila, Istoria, Besopasnost, and Olimpiada) also form the word thanks (spasibo) in Russian. Altogether they appeared on walls in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok, Irkutsk, Kaliningrad, and Sevastopol.

The youth educational project, Net, organised the art events. “

A fanshop even opened in New York, apparently -- making the phenomenon truly global:

USA: 'Putin the Peacemaker' t-shirts go on sale in NYC

“Julius Kasinskis, owner of the 'Peacemaker Shop' (English): "It's all about the idea of people portraying Putin as a different person. And my idea of him is totally different of what I hear as common knowledge, especially in the United States. "

But the TRUE Pièce de résistance was (at least to me) truly remarkable. As a matter of fact, it was the primary reason for wasting your time with such a fluff piece of a post in the first place. I am literally left speechless, and would invite readers to propose analogies for similar celebrations that were (or SHOULD HAVE BEEN) held for imperial political leaders who so successfully and humanely pacified earlier 'tensions' in distant provinces, and brought prosperity to the grateful inhabitants of said lands.

(from Instagram account of the former anti-Russian guerilla-leader turned Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov)

100,000 People Attend Putin Birthday Parade in Grozny (more pictures here and here)

В центре Грозного прошло многотысячное шествие в честь дня рождения Владимира Путина

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Birthdays are naturally occurring opportunities to fortify and enhance the popular image of beloved leaders. I, for one, gladly welcome the fact that our wise and benevolent overlords/puppets statesmen have now grown to “present their appeals more intelligently”.

“CBS White House reporter Mark Knoller is the unofficial but widely trusted chronicler of data on presidential travels and other day-to-day White House goings-on, so we turned to his calculations.

On Aug. 8, 2014, Knoller tweeted that Obama had taken 19 vacations totaling 125 days so far while in office. Those numbers have risen a bit due to the Martha’s Vineyard vacation, but that’s still many fewer than George W. Bush’s 65 combined trips to his Texas ranch and his parents’ home in Kennebunkport, Maine, which totaled 407 days at the same point in his presidency.” Tampa Bay Times - PolitiFact

“The visit to the forests of the Siberian taiga will be the first time in more than 15 years that nature-lover Mr. Putin has taken a vacation on his birthday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state news agency TASS.” – WSJ

About the Author


Green Lantern
Oct 8, 2014 - 6:38am

First.Good morning.  Will


Good morning.

Will comment on the article after the completion of the Lunar Eclipse - Blood Moon

Oct 8, 2014 - 6:47am
Oct 8, 2014 - 7:24am

Russians attacked in Moscow for wearing 'Western' symbols

Alexandra Boyarskaya (L) complained of being verbally abused and spat on during the Moscow marathon

An outpouring of Russian patriotism has accompanied the war in Ukraine and Russian support for the rebels fighting the Kiev government's forces in the east.

In some cases, Russian antagonism towards the Kiev authorities and the West has spilled on to the streets. And Muscovites themselves have been the target.

Journalist Anna Ratafyeva was travelling on the Moscow metro when she was slapped in the face by an elderly woman who didn't like the picture of cartoon character Snoopy waving a Union Jack on the front of her sweatshirt.

The incident happened in September, Ms Ratafyeva wrote on her Facebook page.

"(The woman) approached me, called me 'an American whore' and slapped me in the face. Welcome to the new reality," she wrote.

Anna Ratafyeva's decision to wear a union jack Snoopy sweatshirt prompted an unprovoked attack

That new reality involves a Russian ban on many food imports from the European Union and the US, in response to Western sanctions imposed on Russia for its actions in the Ukrainian crisis.

Another unpleasant incident emerged during the annual Moscow marathon on 21 September.

One of the runners, Alexandra Boyarskaya, was wearing a T-shirt in the yellow and blue colours of Ukrainian flag and carrying the word "Ukraine". When she stopped during the race for a drink, she was attacked.

A woman leapt from the cheering crowd, knocked the cup from Ms Boyarskaya's hands, spat in her face and shouted: "You bastard! Go back to your country. You dishonour my city and have no right to run in our marathon!"

Ms Boyarskaya told the BBC that she was very surprised by such a violent reaction as she had not meant to make any political statement with the shirt.

Moscow marathon director Dmitry Tarasov told the BBC that the organisers were not aware of the incident. There were runners competing from 61 countries, including Ukraine, he added.

"We don't divide athletes by countries. We have friends in Ukraine ourselves. And there were many Ukrainians among the competitors with two of them among the winners," Mr Tarasov said.

An estimated 20,000 people protested in Moscow last month, calling for the conflict in eastern Ukraine to end

A smaller march was held in support of the self-declared rebel republics of Donetsk and Luhansk

Moscow's police department says there have been no reported incidents of harassment or attacks "related to foreign symbols", and suggests this may be because such cases are not widespread.

Most people, however, have opted not to go to police, choosing instead to take their complaints to social media.


Oct 8, 2014 - 7:38am

India's gold imports in September at $4 billion

India imported about $4 billion worth of gold bullion in September, said two leading industry sources. In terms of volume, the shipments would amount to about 100 tonnes, one of the people said. This is slightly less than what was imported in June after the government renewed the licenses of premier and star trading houses, they said.

On May 22, the Reserve Bank of India lifted a ban on premier and star trading houses importing gold, which was imposed almost a year ago in light of a burgeoning current account deficit.

A decline in gold prices to Rs 26,000 per 10 gm levels from above Rs 27,000 led jewellers to replenish stocks ahead of the festive season.

Demand in the October-December quarter tends to rise because of the festive season and the onset of the wedding season, which runs through May.


Oct 8, 2014 - 7:41am

Tension escalates in Kashmir as India, Pakistan exchange shells

NEW DELHI, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- Tension has flared up along the international border and line-of-control between Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmiri regions, as India reported renewed firing and shelling duels with Pakistan Wednesday.

Meanwhile, India has ruled out any meeting with Pakistan until firing at the border stops, said local media.

At least two people were killed on the Indian side of the dividing lines in Kashmir, while over 20 were injured from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning due to shelling by Pakistani forces, said Indian military and police.

The week-long confrontation in Kashmir risks escalating into a small-scale war and the scrapping of a 2003 ceasefire agreement between New Delhi and Islamabad, said analysts.

Indian forces have been asked to retaliate strongly to every Pakistani "provocation" on the border, local TV channel Times Now has reported quoting sources.

In the latest shelling by Pakistani forces at the border, two women have been killed and 11 people have been injured as Pakistani troops targeted 50 security outposts and dozens of hamlets with mortar shells overnight along the entire 192-km international border in Kashmir, said the TV channel.

Both sides have been accusing each other of violating the truce and over two dozen people, mostly civilians were killed over the past few days in the firing and shelling.

India said its forces killed 15 civilians on the other side of the border on Tuesday. Eighteen militants were also killed by Indian forces after they allegedly infiltrated into the Indian side of Kashmir Tuesday, according to security forces.

Pakistan Rangers, the border forces of Pakistan in Kashmir, shelled border outposts (BoPs) and villages in Samba and Kathua for the first time Tuesday night along with Jammu district, while India was retaliating with heavy fires, said the Indian military.


Mr. Fix
Oct 8, 2014 - 7:50am

Happy birthday Vladimir Putin!

I have total respect for those wishing to take on the Western banking cartel, it is the only fight worth having.


Oct 8, 2014 - 7:56am

Hajj Pilgrims spend SR2.2b on gifts

  • Saudi Gazette - Pilgrims browsing for a gift in a gold shop. — Courtesy photo

Pilgrims this year have spent an estimate of SR2.2 billion on gifts [3.75 Saudi riyal =$1 US], with SR1,500 being the average spending of a pilgrim, according to Ibrahim Batarji, chairman of the Industrial Committee, Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"How much a pilgrims spends on gifts depends on his economic condition and the living standards back in his home country," Batarji said, estimating that the actual average can range between SR1,300-SR1,600.

Batarji noted that the constant hike in prices and the depreciation of some currencies in the Arab and Muslim worlds should be taken into consideration when conducting such estimates.

The majority of pilgrims love to buy their loved ones rosaries, prayer rugs, white clothes, and jewelry. The reason why the spending is not as high as the previous years can be attributed to the lower number of pilgrims who came for Haj this year, who are estimated to be around two million.

Abdulhakim Al-Saadi, businessman who owns several shops, said pilgrims love to buy their gifts in Makkah, Madinah, and Jeddah while some pilgrims like to purchase gifts at Mina.

Russian products, in particular, attract pilgrims because they are of high quality compared with Chinese products, usually low-quality.

Abdulaziz Obaid, businessman, said pilgrims tend to buy gold in Makkah and Jeddah because they trust jewelers in these cities. About 10-15 percent of gifts bought by pilgrims is gold.

Oct 8, 2014 - 8:15am

Brent Oil hits new low below $91 on weak demand forecasts

LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Brent crude oil dipped below $91 a barrel on Wednesday to its lowest since June 2012 as lower economic growth forecasts prompted concerns about global oil demand at a time of abundant supply.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration cut its global demand forecast for 2014 by 1.24 million barrels on Tuesday, and trimmed its Brent crude price forecast for 2015.

Brent for November was down 85 cents at $91.26 by 1100 GMT, after hitting $90.76 earlier in the session, its lowest since June 2012. U.S. crude fell 85 cents to $88.00 a barrel.

U.S. crude stocks climbed by 5.1 million barrels to 360 million in the week to Oct. 3, according to an inventory report on Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute (API). This was much larger than the build of 1.5 million barrels expected by analysts polled by Reuters.

"The inventory build-up means it will be difficult for prices to rise even when demand increases in the winter," said Chauhan.

Investors awaited official inventory data from the EIA, due to be released at 1430 GMT.

"A drop below $90 is possible for Brent," said Carsten Fritsch, senior oil and commodities analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. "At that point, we could see stop-loss orders triggered and some follow-up selling."


Visit the FAQ page to learn how to track your last read comment, add images, embed videos, tweets, and animated gifs, and more.

Oct 8, 2014 - 8:17am

How Convenient ...

From GATA ...

Financial Times: Banks plan to write off derivatives when a counterparty fails


Oct 8, 2014 - 8:23am

Subscribe or login to read all comments.


Donate Shop

Get Your Subscriber Benefits

Private iTunes feed for all TF Metals Report podcasts, and access to Vault member forum discussions!

Key Economic Events Week of 4/6

4/8 2:00 ET March FOMC minutes
4/9 8:30 ET Producer Price Index
4/10 8:30 ET Consumer Price Index

Key Economic Events Week of 3/30

3/31 9:45 ET Chicago PMI
4/1 8:15 ET ADP Employment
4/1 9:45 ET Markit manu PMI
4/1 10:00 ET ISM manu PMI
4/2 10:00 ET Factory Orders
4/3 8:30 ET BLSBS
4/3 9:45 ET Market service PMI
4/3 10:00 ET ISM service PMI

Key Economic Events Week of 3/23

3/24 9:45 ET Markit flash PMIs
3/25 8:30 ET Durable Goods
3/26 8:30 ET Weekly jobless claims
3/27 8:30 ET Personal Inc and Spending

Key Economic Events Week of 3/9

(as if these actually matter)
3/11 8:30 ET CPI
3/12 8:30 ET weekly jobless claims
3/12 8:30 ET PPI
3/13 8:30 ET Import Price Index

Key Economic Events Week of 3/2

3/2 9:45 ET Markit Manu PMI
3/2 10:00 ET ISM Manu PMI
3/2 10:00 ET Construction Spending
3/4 8:15 ET ADP employment
3/4 9:45 ET Markit Service PMI
3/4 10:00 ET ISM Services PMI
3/5 8:30 ET Productivity & Unit Labor Costs
3/5 10:00 ET Factory Orders
3/6 8:30 ET BLSBS
3/6 10:00 ET Wholesale Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 2/24

2/25 9:00 ET Case-Shiller home prices
2/26 10:00 ET New home sales
2/27 8:30 ET Q4 GDP second guess
2/27 8:30 ET Durable Goods
2/27 11:30 ET Goon Evans speech
2/28 8:30 ET Pers Income and Spending
2/28 8:30 ET Core Inflation
2/28 9:45 ET Chicago PMI

Key Economic Events Week of 2/17

2/18 8:30 ET Empire St Manu Idx
2/19 8:30 ET Producer Price Idx
2/19 8:30 ET Housing Starts & Bldg Perms
2/19 2:00 ET January FOMC minutes
2/20 8:30 ET Philly Fed
2/21 Fed Goons all day at Chicago Conf.
2/21 9:45 ET Markit flash Feb PMIs

Key Economic Events Week of 2/10

2/11 10:00 ET Job Openings
2/11 10:00 ET CGP Hump-Hawk House
2/12 10:00 ET CGP Hump-Hawk Senate
2/13 8:30 ET CPI
2/14 8:30 ET Retail Sales
2/14 9:15 ET Cap Ute & Ind Prod
2/14 10:00 ET Business Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 2/3

2/4 10:00 ET Factory Orders
2/5 8:15 ET ADP Employment
2/5 9:45 ET Markit Service PMI
2/5 10:00 ET ISM Service PMI
2/6 8:30 ET Productivity & Unit Labor Costs
2/7 8:30 ET BLSBS
2/7 10:00 ET Wholesale Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 1/27

1/28 8:30 ET Durable Goods
1/28 10:00 ET Consumer Confidence
1/29 10:00 ET Pending Home Sales
1/29 2:00 pm ET FOMC Fedlines
1/29 2:30 pm ET Powell presser
1/30 8:30 ET Q4 GDP first guess
1/31 8:30 ET Pers Inc and Spending
1/31 9:45 ET Chicago PMI
2/2 10:00 pm ET Chiefs win SB LIV

Recent Comments

by b72s, 1 min 35 sec ago
by nm 156, 1 min 57 sec ago
by GoldHermit, 3 min 25 sec ago
by Underdawg, 5 min 25 sec ago
by Blackwatersailor, 11 min 57 sec ago