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UPDATE: Russian economy continues to strengthen in October

The Russian economy continues its slow rebound from recession in October, though the pace of recovery continues to be held back by the Central Bank’s harsh counter inflation strategy.

Alexander Mercouris

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Russia’s economy continued to strengthen in October, with industrial output 5.8% higher than in September (the biggest rise since April) and inflation falling to an annual rate of 6.1% (below market expectations).  Inflation at the end of November will probably be below 6%.  Both manufacturing and services PMI were in positive territory 52.40 and 52.70 respectively).

Meanwhile Russia continues to be in line for a record grain harvest this year of around 106 million tonnes. 

This reflects an across the board strengthening of the Russia’s whole agriculture sector, which is growing at an annual rate of around 3%. 

The country in a few years has managed to become self-sufficient in pork and poultry where it was previously a big importer, and it should soon be self sufficient in beef as well, at which point it will have become entirely self-sufficient in all meat products.

The transformation in Russia’s agriculture sector has enabled the country to cut food imports by 10% this year from those of the previous year.  Russia this year for the first time in its history is set to overtake the US to become the world’s biggest exporter of wheat, and it has also become a net exporter of certain other food products such as chicken meat. 

The days when Russian consumers bought chicken legs imported from the US (known locally as “Bush’s legs”) are gone.  In the words of Russian Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Tkachev

“To compare, ten years ago food import exceeded export volumes four times, and now export volume is only 1.5 time lower than import volume. Export growth is due to the increased supply of wheat (by 32%) and sunflower oil (by 15%)”.

Tkachev has predicted that if government support for the agricultural sector remains at current levels, then by 2020 the value of the country’s food exports will equal that of its food imports. 

With Russian agri-businesses now investing heavily in increasing food and vegetable output (the main food products Russia is still importing), the country looks set in the 2020s to become a major food exporter, with Russian Prime Minister Medvedev predicting that food exports will soon become Russia’s second biggest foreign currency earner after energy exports.

Tkachev’s comment about the importance of government support being necessary to ensure the continued growth of Russia’s agricultural sector is undoubtedly what lies behind Putin’s gnomic comment of a few days ago that even if Western sanctions on Russia are lifted, Russia will drag its heels as long as it can before it lifts the retaliatory ban it imposed on food imports from the EU. 

RT reports Putin saying

“We really did it responsibly and, in fact, used the short-sighted decisions that had been applied in regard to our country by our so-called partners, who introduced the sanctions.”

(bold italics added)

In truth for Russia’s agricultural sector EU sanctions have been an unqualified boon, with the counter sanctions weaning the country off imports at a speed that seems to have surprised even the Russian government, whilst providing a major boost for domestic production.

Though the Russians doubtless will drag their heels on lifting the counter sanctions, my opinion is that the country’s agricultural sector has now gained sufficient critical mass that it will continue to grow rapidly even once sanctions are lifted.  Moreover by prohibiting the growth in Russia of GM foods the Russians authorities are helping this process along by successfully fostering the idea amongst many Russians that their own food is healthier and better than food imported from the West. 

With Russia now even successfully producing reasonable substitutes for expensive imported cheeses like Parmesan, the days when it was possible to write pieces about Russians lamenting the disappearance of imported cheese are all but gone.

It is conventional in the West to think of Russia as a land of boring food, of food queues and of food shortages, and this image of the country once contained much more than a grain of truth.  However when travelling to Russia today the impression on the contrary is of great variety in food and above all of abundance

As I have discussed many times previously, by far the single biggest constraint on growth is the Central Bank’s single minded focus on its counter inflation policy, which aims to bring the annual rate of inflation by the end of 2014 down to 4%.

What this has meant in practice is sky high real interest rates – the highest by far of any major economy – and falling real incomes, as short term growth is being sacrificed to bring down inflation. 

With the government now committed for the next three years to a policy of fiscal consolidation aimed at extinguishing the budget deficit by 2020, there is no countervailing fiscal stimulus to offset the Central Bank’s emphasis on inflation reduction, which is why growth is slow.  The result is that even as the country exits recession living standards continue to fall, a fact which however  as I have discussed previously – is something which the Central Bank almost certainly privately welcomes because it increases the economy’s competitiveness and reduces inflation by depressing demand, even as it prevents the economy from growing.

At some point however interest rates will fall as inflation falls to the Central Bank’s target, and with Central Bank Chair Nabiullina predicting that the remaining foreign debt owed by Russian banks will have been paid off by the end of 2017 conditions in the economy for a return to higher sustained growth (around 4% per annum) in the 2020s are being put in place.  If oil prices recover more quickly, then of course growth might even come sooner though as a consequence of the deliberate policy of the government the importance of the oil price to the state of the economy is diminishing.

In the meantime the fall in investment is levelling off, the exchange rate of the rouble has stabilised, and foreign direct investment in the Russian economy in anticipation of its future expansion is growing again.

This is the state of the Russian economy today.  In some areas such as agriculture the results of government policy are already bearing fruit.  In others such as industry and manufacturing it remains very much a work in progress.  However talk of the economy being a basket case or in any sort of crisis is nonsense.

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“Foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx): Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails was hacked by foreign actor, and it was not Russia.

Alex Christoforou

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A stunning revelation that hardly anyone in the mainstream media is covering.

Fox News gave Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) the opportunity to explain what was going on during his questioning of Peter Strzok, when the the Texas Congressman stated that a “foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Aside from this segment on Fox News, this story is not getting any coverage, and we know why. It destroys the entire ‘Russia hacked Hillary’ narrative.

Gohmert states that this evidence is irrefutable and shows that a foreign actor, not connected to Russia in any way, intercepted and distributed Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails.

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Via Zerohedge

As we sift through the ashes of Thursday’s dumpster-fire Congressional hearing with still employed FBI agent Peter Strzok, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller plucked out a key exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) and Strzok which revealed a yet-unknown bombshell about the Clinton email case.

Nearly all of Hillary Clinton’s emails on her homebrew server went to a foreign entity that isn’t Russia. When this was discovered by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), IG Chuck McCullough sent his investigator Frank Ruckner and an attorney to notify Strzok along with three other people about the “anomaly.”

Four separate attempts were also made to notify DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to brief him on the massive security breach, however Horowitz “never returned the call.” Recall that Horowitz concluded last month that despite Strzok’s extreme bias towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump – none of it translated to Strzok’s work at the FBI.

In other words; Strzok, while investigating Clinton’s email server, completely ignored the fact that most of Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity – while IG Horowitz simply didn’t want to know about it.

Daily Caller reports…

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found an “anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list,” Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a hearing with FBI official Peter Strzok.

Gohmert continued..

“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

Strzok admitted to meeting with Ruckner but said he couldn’t remember the “specific” content of their discussion.

“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.”

According to Zerohedge “Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call,” Gohmert said – and Horowitz wouldn’t return the call.

And while Peter Strzok couldn’t remember the specifics of his meeting with the IG about the giant “foreign entity” bombshell, he texted this to his mistress Lisa Page when the IG discovered the “(C)” classification on several of Clinton’s emails – something the FBI overlooked:

“Holy cow … if the FBI missed this, what else was missed? … Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this.”

Via Zerohedge

In November of 2017, IG McCullough – an Obama appointee – revealed to Fox News that he received pushback when he tried to tell former DNI James Clapper about the foreign entity which had Clinton’s emails and other anomalies.

Instead of being embraced for trying to expose an illegal act, seven senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) wrote a letter accusing him of politicizing the issue.

“It’s absolutely irrelevant whether something is marked classified, it is the character of the information,” he said. Fox News reports…

McCullough said that from that point forward, he received only criticism and an “adversarial posture” from Congress when he tried to rectify the situation.

“I expected to be embraced and protected,” he said, adding that a Hill staffer “chided” him for failing to consider the “political consequences” of the information he was blowing the whistle on.

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Donald Trump plays good cop and bad cop with a weak Theresa May (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 55.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK was momentous, not for its substance, but rather for its sheer entertainment value.

Trump started his trip to the United Kingdom blasting Theresa May for her inability to negotiate a proper Brexit deal with the EU.  Trump ended his visit holding hands with the UK Prime Minister during a press conference where the most ‘special relationship’ between the two allies was once again reaffirmed.

Protests saw giant Trump “baby balloons” fly over London’s city center, as Trump played was his own good cop and bad cop to the UK PM, outside London at the Chequers…often times leaving May’s head spinning.

Even as Trump has left London, he remains front and center in the mind of Theresa May, who has now stated that Trump advised her to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Brexit.

Trump had mentioned to reporters on Friday at a joint press conference with Theresa May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”

Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.” May added…

“What the president also said at that press conference was `Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.”‘

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize what was a state visit like no other, as Trump trolled the UK PM from beginning to end, and left London knowing that he got the better of a weakened British Prime Minister, who may not survive in office past next week.

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Via CNBC

It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant. The revelation came after explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday — just as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner — Trump said the British leader’s approach likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”

He also praised May’s rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign secretary to protest May’s Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a “great prime minister.”

The comments shocked many in Britain — even May’s opponents — and threatened to undermine May’s already fragile hold on power. Her Conservative government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.

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Deep State poster boy Peter Strzok gives bizarre testimony that goes viral (Video)

The face of the Deep State.

Alex Christoforou

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If you were not convinced that the Deep State exists, then look no further than Peter Strzok’s bizarre, yet revealing, congressional testimony, showcasing the arrogance and smugness of a powerful FBI agent who worked diligently to push a fake Trump-Russia narrative onto the American public.

Via Zerohedge

While Peter Strzok’s marathon Congressional testimony was full of bickering, chaos and drama – mostly between members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees – a clip of the disgraced FBI agent’s seemingly giddy reaction after answering a question is creeping people out.

Some have suggested that Strzok’s reaction was “Duper’s delight” – a hidden smirk that slips out at an inappropriate moment when a liar celebrates a successful manipulation.

Watching Peter Strzok, its hard, if not impossible to believe that this man is not a psychopath, who hated Trump so much that he was willing to forward a collusion story that has cost American taxpayers millions, and torn American society apart.

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The video clip even had Donald Trump Jr retweeting it, as he labeled Strzok “the creepiest person in America.”

Via RT

One particular moment from Peter Strzok’s raucous congressional hearing left Twitter users confounded and disturbed, even prompting Donald Trump Jr to label the FBI agent “the creepiest person in America.”

Strzok faced the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Thursday to answer questions about his conduct during the 2016 investigations into Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The lengthy hearing quickly descended into a partisan shouting match, as Republicans and Democrats interrupted each other’s questions, heckling or applauding Strzok.

Strzok’s peculiar reaction to one question caught the eye of viewers and many took to Twitter to confirm that their eyes weren’t deceiving them.

Strzok’s facial expressions were also noticed by the congressmen in the room and prompted one of the most dramatic moments of the hearing when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) accused Strzok of outright lying.

“I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk; how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page,” Gohmert told Strzok, referring to the agent’s extramarital affair with his former colleague Lisa Page, with whom he exchanged anti-Trump text messages. Gohmert’s comment sparked vociferous objections from Democrats.

The hearing evoked a significant reaction, with many describing it as a farce. Former New York mayor and current attorney to US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, labelled it a “disgrace” and said it “taints the entire Mueller witch hunt.”

“President Trump is being investigated by people who possess pathological hatred for him. All the results of the investigation are ‘fruit of the poison tree’ and should be dismissed,” he added.

Democrats seemed to agree with that sentiment, as California Congressman Ted Lieu said it was “a stupid and ridiculous hearing.”

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