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Russia’s inflation rate plunges to 2.8%; historic low

Alexander Mercouris

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This article first appeared on RussiaFeed

Russia’s current annualised rate of inflation has now been confirmed as 2.8% as of 9th October 2017, with price growth zero for the previous five successive weeks.

Inflation in Russia has over the course of 2017 fallen faster and further than anyone expected.  As the Russian Central Bank correctly says, price growth is likely to pick up in December (in Russia it invariably does).  However it is now all but inconceivable that it will be 4% for the whole year.  The Central Bank has itself now lowered its prediction to 3.2%.

For their part the international institutions have still not caught up with the pace of fall of price growth in Russia.  The international credit agencies and the IMF continue to predict annualised inflation for the whole year above 4%.  That is now all but inconceivable.

What some may find surprising about these latest inflation developments is that the institution which has been leading Russia’s fight against inflation – Russia’s Central Bank – is giving every sign of being far from happy at the runaway success of its own counter-inflation strategy.

The reason for that is that inflation’s continuing rapid fall is increasing pressure on the Central Bank to cut interest rates further and faster than it obviously wants to do.

The result has been a series of strange statements issuing from the Central Bank yesterday and today, which have claimed that the recent fall in inflation is temporary and is due to one off factors (basically the recent strengthening of the rouble and the better than expected harvest) leading and that price growth is likely to pick up in December.

Inflation however always picks up in Russia in December, whilst the recent strength of the rouble must be due in part at least to the Central Bank’s own high interest rate policies.

Real interest rates in Russia are now in fact at unprecedentedly high levels, because inflation in Russia is falling faster than the Central Bank is cutting interest rates.  They are now 5.7% as opposed to 5% at the start of the year.

Meanwhile of the predicted collapse of oil prices to $40 a barrel – predicted by year end both by the Russian government and by the Central Bank at the start of this year, and the basis of the Russian government’s budget calculations for the whole year – there is still no sign.  Brent crude is currently trading at $56 a barrel, whilst Urals crude is trading at $53 a barrel.

Perhaps the predicted oil collapse to $40 a barrel will still come – the lesson of the last three years is that accurate forecasts of oil price movements are all but impossible – but as of this moment that is starting to look less likely.

That the Central Bank is struggling to defend its interest rate policy in the face of the rapid inflation fall is shown by a curious claim today by Central Bank Nabiullina that inflation below 3% “does not diverge” from the Central Bank’s 4% target.  In reality it is a significant overshoot by any measure.

The one point the Central Bank has made over the past two days which is true is that the inflation perceptions/expectations of the Russian population are still much higher than the growth of actual prices in the shops would justify.

This is a notoriously difficult thing to measure, but data which has appeared over the last two days, and which is presumably based on polling, claims to show that Russians expect prices to rise by 9.7% this year as against the Central Bank’s prediction that they will in fact increase by just 3.2%.

High price growth expectations on the part of the population are unsurprising given Russia’s long history of double digit inflation extending all the way back to the USSR’s collapse.  It will inevitably take some time before the population’s perception of inflation adjusts to the reality of lower prices, all the more so as in 2015 the population experienced a further temporary spike of double digit inflation, which must still colour its expectations of where prices will be going in future.

In light of this it is perhaps understandable that the Central Bank – fearing possible demand for higher wages from a population anxious to compensate itself for higher prices which are not in fact coming – may be cautious about easing monetary policy too much.

Whether such caution justifies real interest rates of 5.7% is another matter.  On any measure real interest rates at this level seem to me far too high given existing economic conditions, even allowing for the possibility that – as I am coming increasingly to suspect – the Central Bank’s real inflation target is 2% not 4%.

At such high levels the primary effect of interest rates is not to increase savings or reduce inflation.  It is to lower the rate of economic growth, which could be higher in Russia than the Central Bank is making possible.

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Trump Rips Steele For Using “Low Ratings” CNN ‘Citizen Journalist’ Article As Dossier Source

Trump also ripped the late Arizona Senator John McCain on Sunday.

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Via Zerohedge


President Trump ripped Christopher Steele after it was revealed that the former British spy used a ‘citizen journalist’ article from CNN’s now-defunct ‘iReports’ website as part of his research.

“Christopher Steele backed up his Democrat & Crooked Hillary paid for Fake & Unverified Dossier with information he got from “send in watchers” of low ratings CNN. This is the info that got us the Witch Hunt!”

Of note, it was actually Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos telling Australian diplomat Alexander Downer that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton which reportedly launched the “Witch Hunt.” That said, let’s also remember that it was Maltese professor and self-professed member of the Clinton Foundation, Joseph Mifsud, who told Papadopoulos of the supposed Russian intel in the first place. Some have referred to it as an entrapment scheme.

CNN iReport?

Steele made the awkward revelation during a deposition last year in a case involving Russian entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, who claims his companies Webzilla and XBT Holdings were defamed by Steele after the dossier was published by BuzzFeed.

Steele was asked during the deposition how he verified allegations about Gubarev’s companies and whether he found “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla,” according to the newly released transcripts of the deposition.

“We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport,” Steele said. –Fox News

CNN iReport, which is long gone, was clearly disclaimed as a “user-generated site,” warning that “the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked or screened before they post.”

As Fox notes, even the site’s banner included the slogan “Unedited. Unfiltered. News.” and made clear that users who submit content do not work for CNN.

Except super-spy Steele apparently missed that fact, or didn’t care, as part of his ‘extensive’ research…

“Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the internet?” an examiner asked Steele.

“No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has [sic] some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site,” Steele replied.

Trump rips McCain

Trump also ripped the late Arizona Senator John McCain (R) on Sunday, tweeting that it was “just proven in court papers” that “last in his class” McCain sent Steele’s dossier to media outlets in the hopes that they would print it prior to the 2016 US election.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted: “Spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier “is unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain.” Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel. He had far worse “stains” than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!”

In response Meghan McCain fired back with her own Tweet, saying “no one will ever love you the way they loved my father.”

Which is interesting, because it seems that McCain was generally disliked – particularly by Democrats – until he came out against Trump.

After Trump’s Sunday tweet, McCain replied “My father lives rent free in your head.”

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The Surrealism of the Information War

It is money that shapes the global mainstream discourse in television, radio, newspapers and social media.

Gilbert Mercier

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Authored by Gilbert Mercier, via News Junkie Post…


The flow of knowledge and information is commonly considered the main vector of humanity’s progress through history. One would think that in our era, which is rightly called the time of the information super-highway, the sheer mass of information available to all humans, anywhere at any given time, would have exponentially increased our understanding of our world and each other. This is, however, not the case. As a matter of fact, paradoxically, one can easily argue that an overload of information has made the majority of people not more but less knowledgeable, less critical, more isolated, and more alienated from themselves and each other. The control and manipulation of narrative in the era of the information war has created a universal malaise that reaches even basic human issues such as masculine-feminine identities.

Well-compensated propagandists package information and ideas like products for mass consumption. The advance of technology was supposed to free mankind; instead it has created invisible chains. The fact of being constantly wired is an assault on our free will and cognitive functions, which behavioral information warriors study and harvest, to put them in giant blenders where all comes out inoffensive and predictable. The goal is to turn the rich and diverse human experience into a tasteless and colorless intellectual mush, and then make it palatable with artificial additives. Foie gras is considered a French gastronomic delicacy. It is nevertheless a form of cultural perversity. In the process, the geese are force-fed, to provoke a cirrhosis of their liver. In many ways, the gatekeepers of mainstream information use the same force feeding technique with people’s brains.

Unless people tightly lock themselves mentally into the delusions of dogmas, either religious or ideological, and seek comfort in a universe of magical thinking, the truth is never an absolute. This being said, in order to allow an acceptable level of conviviality in human society, thinkers should seek truth in the subjective reality while knowing that the holy grail of pure truth is the ultimate lie. If one would be so naive or foolish enough to think he has found the absolute truth, looking at it would be like staring straight into the sun at midday, without shields and with eyes wide open, for a full hour. In the process, the believer of absolute truth would go blind.

For anyone who is neither blind nor fully color blind, the distinction between a red object and a green one is not only instantaneous but also unquestionable. The difference between green and red is not open to interpretation or debate. It is in the rare realm of tangible facts.

Staying in the field of the color spectrum: all hues of green in the natural world are a secondary color that can be obtained by mixing the primary colors yellow and blue. Green can be argued endlessly to contain more yellow than blue, or vice versa, as well as a fraction of black, white, or brown to alter the shades and tones. In nature or on an artist’s palette, there are countless shades of green and our perception of these shades, while it can be analyzed and quantified scientifically, is largely subjective.

Colors, just like words, have an emotional impact. Hospital walls and other medical facilities are often painted in light tones of greenish-blue, for their soothing effect on people. Bright red has the opposite impact. It is used to attract maximum attention either from traffic lights, bull fights or firetrucks. And so greens are the calming hues of nature and relaxation, whereas reds are synonymous with alarm, blood, excitement, and sometimes the anger and urgency of an adrenaline rush, as illustrated by the popular expression “seeing red.”

The near-infinite range of the color spectrum is similar to the countless narratives expressed by languages. In linguistics, words and their clumsy or astute associations are used to convey information or emotions. Like colors, words carry messages, fragments of information that impact people differently and cannot be objectively quantified. It’s all “in the eye of the beholder.”

One can make an analogy between the false notion of an absolute truth and the vanishing point in a perspective drawing. A vanishing point is an optical illusion, just like the concept of pure truth is a cognitive illusion. In our surreal predicament of fake-news for some, which are true-news for others, it is as if we have moved into an absurd and nightmarish three-dimensional drawing with a multitude of vanishing points designed by the generals of the global information wars.

The people who conduct the information war are numerous. They can be the global media moguls like Rupert Murdoch; the journalists employed by corporate entities or governments; the policymakers who build a considerable influence within countless so-called think-tanks; the elected politicians and their cohorts of advisers and lobbyists; the super-rich businessmen, philanthropists in their own eyes, such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Bob Mercer, George Soros and Pierre Omidyar, who want to impact world affairs; and even show-business celebrities. All have deep pockets and want maximum impact in the fight to shape the discourse and steer public opinion, often globally, in the directions that suit their specific needs.

Unless they are ideologues, the information warriors are mercenaries. Therefore it is money that shapes the global mainstream discourse in television, radio, newspapers and social media. Independent or dissident narratives are generally squashed by a lack of public exposure. The money talks and writes as the viewer-readers, hypnotized by a multitude of screens, become mere consumers to be sold, convinced, or subliminally seduced into a specific mindset. The job of the information warriors is to observe, condition, and predict behaviors. In this massive brainwash of the public, big money is at the same time the washing machine and laundry detergent.

Gates and Soros openly sponsor the prime fake-left publication, The Guardian; Bezos owns The Washington Post; and the Murdoch press empire’s crown jewel is Fox News. Other information warriors who claim to know the truth are on the fringe, at least in appearance. This is the case for media provocateur Alex Jones, who has claimed in court to be a performance artist, but who is nonetheless adulated by millions worldwide and treated like a Guru of truthful information. Jones runs, with his trademark manic energy, the raucous populist far-right conspiracy-theory laced Infowars. Mercer’s money gave birth to the populist far-right site Breitbart. Meanwhile Omidyar sponsors the soft-left, so-called progressive publication, The Intercept. All these lead information warriors want to take as many people as will follow them to their own vanishing points, on a journey towards their illusionary truth.

In their confusion and thirst for truth, people get caught like flies on tasty propaganda glue. The intricate labyrinths built by the information warriors prevent the real discourse, which should be about how to survive the imminent systemic collapse of global capitalism. It cannot be otherwise when global corporate imperialism itself controls the discourse worldwide. Hypnotized by a myriad of vanishing points, humans might be on a course to vanish.


Editor’s NotesGilbert Mercier is the author of The Orwellian Empire. Composites one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and ten by Ube; composite eight by Jared Rodriguez; lithograph nine from the archive of Monceau.

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