Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Friday, 01 April 2022.
- Farmers ditch corn for soy while fertilizers spike
- China manufacturing slows down at alarming pace
- Army brigade ready for war in Europe “within one week”
- Congressman tries to revoke security clearances
- Early Warning
- Far Left Activity Rollup & Outlook
FARMERS DITCH CORN FOR SOY WHILE FERTILIZERS SPIKE: American farmers are transitioning to crops that require less fertilizer to grow. A Bloomberg survey found that farmers intend to plant about 2 million more acres of soybeans this year with a corresponding 2 million acre decrease in corn. The Green Markets North American Fertilizer Price Index is up 43% since the Russian invasion and up 233% to $1,270 per ton since the start of the 2021 growing season. (Analyst Comment: Rising fertilizer prices caused by increases in the price of precursor materials as well as export restrictions by China and Russia on fertilizer shipments to “unfriendly” countries will likely cause food shortages and general havoc in agricultural markets this year. – M.M.)
CHINA MANUFACTURING SLOWS DOWN AT ALARMING PACE: China’s factories are experiencing the heaviest decrease in manufacturing activity in two years. The slowdown is being driven by COVID lockdowns in its major manufacturing and transportation hubs and from declining orders due to the Russia/Ukraine conflict in Europe. The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 48.1 last month, down from 50.4 in the previous month. A reading of 50 in the index separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. This is the steepest decline since February 2020. A sub-index for new orders also declined at the sharpest rate since February 2020, when the first wave of coronavirus cases hit Wuhan. (AC: Chinese health officials announced today that the COVID lockdown in Shanghai will now be extended indefinitely. The sharp decrease in manufacturing activity and orders will likely impact China’s economy well into 2024. – M.M.)
ARMY BRIGADE READY FOR WAR IN EUROPE “WITHIN ONE WEEK”: Sen. Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), questioned General Tod Wolters, Commander European Command, on the effectiveness of Army Prepositioned Stocks in support of U.S. Forces deployment to Europe in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gen Wolters replied that the Army Prepositioned Stocks were critical to being able to move a U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team into theater and have them ready for operations within one week. (AC: Prepositioned stocks of heavy equipment, such as tanks, armored fighting vehicles, and trucks, have been in the Army and Marines inventory for decades. The equipment is normally held at forward facilities or staged on large roll-on-roll-off ships to enable quick delivery to potential conflict zones. In this case, the 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) of the 3rd Infantry Division (ID) deployed to Germany and began live-fire training in less than one week. The 3rd BCT/4thID was also ordered to Europe on March 23rd. – M.M.)
CONGRESSMAN TRIES TO REVOKE SECURITY CLEARANCES: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced a resolution to remove security clearances from officials who “lied” about Hunter Biden’s laptop. More than 50 national security and defense officials signed a joint letter calling the scandal “likely Russian disinformation.” Subsequent investigations by law enforcement are ongoing, but multiple media outlets now corroborate the information. (AC: The national security officials, including former Secretaries of Defense and Directors of Central Intelligence, signed the letter during the 2020 election’s “October Surprise.” Revoking their clearances may not be possible, but their public credibility is now in question. Current and former U.S. officials’ stance further indicts the legitimacy and capability of the national government. – D.M.)
This week’s High Side briefings: Today’s Early Warning Roundtable discussion features sustainable food growing expert David the Good.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE EXPANDS 1/6 INVESTIGATION: The Department of Justice has decided to expand the investigation of the Jan 6th Capitol breach to include the “Save America” rally that occurred prior to the Capitol breach. Prosecutors are seeking multiple records and documents related to the rally, including text messages and emails, as well as potential communications between individuals regarding the logistics of the event. (AC: The DOJ continues its persecution of protestors and event planners in an effort to keep the myth of “insurrection” alive in the run-up to the 2022 mid-term elections. – M.M.)
TREASURY DEPARTMENT EVALUATING CYBERTERRORISM INSURANCE: The U.S. Department of Treasury (USDT) is inquiring about best courses of action on cyber terrorism. The USDT published the notice seeking comments within 45 days, and inputs are requested to propose changes to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program for cyber related losses coming from terrorist acts under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. (AC: Administration cyber officials have been warning about the growing exposure in the cyber domain in the U.S. Officials are trying to get ahead of a 9/11 level cyber event, and large-scale preparation in the executive and legislative indicate the belief that such an event is a serious possibility. – D.F.)
BIDEN TO USE DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT FOR RARE EARTH DEPENDENCY: The White House stated yesterday that President Biden would invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to secure the use of supplies of rare earth minerals necessary for electric vehicles and batteries. The invoking DPA would be used to mitigate Chinese control of the mineral market for green energy. The DPA would allow the Administration to compel companies to prioritize government purchases and allow loans and grants to boost manufacturing – D.F.
JUDGE SAYS FLORIDA LAW VIOLATES VOTING RIGHTS ACT: U.S. District Court Judge Walker ruled portions of Florida’s new voting law violate the Voting Rights Act. The Judge said under the law, limits on drop boxes for absentee ballots disproportionately affected black voters. Governor DeSantis said the state would appeal the “judicial equivalent of pounding the table.” (AC: Lawsuits against state voting rules remain an effective pathway to swaying elections. At a minimum, calling into question the legitimacy of every voting law reduces faith in the political process. – D.M.)
LOBBYISTS TAKE DOWN BIDEN LABOR NOMINEE: Lobbyists from the International Franchise Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, National Restaurant Association, and others worked to defeat Labor Department nominee David Weil’s Senate confirmation. Weil constructed disruptive Obama-era overtime rules and advocated for previously defeated labor laws. (AC: The business community lobby focused on “educating” Sens. Manchin (D-WV), Cinema (D-AZ), and Kelly (D-AZ) on Weil’s history. The Senate’s narrow rejection of this Obama-era official is an exception in Biden’s administration, otherwise full of familiar faces. – D.M.)
POSTAL SERVICE’S ILLEGAL INTELLIGENCE OP: The U.S. Postal Service’s Internet Covert Operations Program operated beyond its legal authorities. An Inspector General report found 28% of the investigations had no “postal nexus.” Open source tools used by the unit include: cryptocurrency blockchain analysis, internet protocol (IP) addresses gathering, facial recognition tools, and monitoring social media scraping. – D.M.
CENTRAL FLORIDA WINS HYPERSONIC GRANT: The University of Central Florida won a $500,000 grant to track hypersonic vehicles up to Mach 15 (or 11,509 mph). The modeling and simulation capability is designed to overcome the Pentagon’s struggle in detecting and mitigating hypersonic threats. – D.M.
PENTAGON NEGOTIATES AIR DEFENSE TO UKRAINE: The Pentagon is working with Slovakia to replace the S-300 systems bound for Ukraine. Slovakia is willing to ship more air defense assets to Ukraine if the U.S. provides a suitable replacement. Defense officials said they’re identifying requirements for future sales. (AC: The U.S. IM-SHORAD is a potential replacement, offering modernized detection and interdiction. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is likely to drive more European nations to adopt modern equipment while offloading existing stores in conflict zones like Ukraine. – D.M.)
TRANSCOM SEALIFT MODERNIZATION TOP PRIORITY: The U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) Commander, General Ovost, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that recapitalization of the sealift fleet is TRANSCOM’s top priority. The need comes from 70% of government-owned surge sealift ships’ service lives ending in 10 years. (AC: The priority comes from the DOD’s Pacific pivot. TRANSCOM assessment indicates current infrastructure is insufficient with high concentration forces in the Indo-Pacific region. Sealift modernization is deemed to enable TRANSCOM’s “diverse and disperse” strategy for redundancy and resiliency. – D.F.)
BIDEN OMITS “NO FIRST USE” IN NUCLEAR REVIEW: President Biden has omitted “no first use” of nuclear weapons in his 2022 Nuclear Posture Review. The policy diverges from previous candidacy claims to keep nuclear use as a responsive tool. The review states that the U.S. will consider use of nuclear weapons in “extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.” This statement upkeeps the U.S. nuclear policy of “flexible deterrence.” – D.F.
CHINA REJECTS CALLS FOR REMOVING RUSSIA FROM G20: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has rejected calls for Russia to be expelled from the Group of 20, saying the bloc should not be split. “No one has the power to divide the G20,” Wang said in a meeting with visiting Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi on Thursday. Indonesia currently holds the rotating chair of the G20 economic forum. (AC: China continues to support Russia in minimizing western sanctions and attempts to isolate it in global trade and financial networks. Expect ripple effects from the sanctions regimes that may inadvertently result in multiple reserve currencies, financial networks, and international payment systems. – M.M.)
CONGRESS WANTS TO EXPAND EU: Congressional researchers recommend lawmakers take advantage of “strong bipartisan support” for expanding the European Union (EU). Citing the war in Ukraine, the EU agreed to assess Ukraine’s membership application. (AC: The West may “settle” for Ukraine joining the EU. While it doesn’t offer the same military protections as NATO, economic and governance guidelines would reduce Russia’s ability to undermine an independent Ukraine. – D.M.)
BIDEN REAUTHORIZES EMERGENCY CYBERPOWER: President Biden extended Executive Orders 13694 and 13757, which declare a national cyber emergency and allow sanctions against malicious cyber actors, for an additional year. This reauthorization comes as foreign cyber activities disrupt U.S. networks and businesses on a persistent basis. (AC: This reauthorization could precede renewed sanctions against Russian cyber actors, in particular. – D.M.)
WARREN CALLS TO REGULATE TRILLIONS IN PRIVATE EQUITY: Senators Warren (D-MA) and Whitehouse (D-RI) sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission to change private equity oversight regulations. Warren says $11 trillion is exempt from anti-money laundering and counter-threat finance reporting requirements, threatening national security. (AC: National security investigatory authorities could be used to assist the IRS in valuing assets under President Biden’s “billionaire tax.” Attempts to move money into protected holdings or accounts may run afoul of anti-laundering rules, potentially exposing asset holders to criminal charges as well as increased taxation. – D.M.)
GUAM DEFENSE SET AS BLUEPRINT FOR PROTECTING U.S. CITIES: Vice Admiral John A. Hill, Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), stated the new Guam defense system would inform how homeland defense addresses adversary missile threats. Key characteristics would produce 360-degree coverage built around existing technologies, such as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot missile system. (AC: The 2018 National Defense Strategy stated the undeniability that the U.S. Homeland is no longer a sanctuary from attack. Hypersonic cruise missile tests from China and ballistic missile tests from North Korea complicate homeland defense. This blueprint for Guam’s defense isn’t scheduled to be operational until 2026. – D.F.)
IMF: RUSSIAN SANCTIONS THREATEN USD DOMINANCE: Gita Gopinath, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), warned that sanctions against Russia, which included the freezing of USD assets, would result in blocs of countries resorting to other trade currencies. “The dollar would remain the major global currency even in that landscape, but fragmentation at a smaller level is certainly quite possible,” she said. Despite the “slow-moving process” of de-dollarization, “the dollar’s dominance will stay for a while,” Gopinath said. (AC: This concept is nothing new, however, the IMF openly discussing this trend could accelerate the shift. – M.S.)
RECESSION & UNCERTAINTY: According to a model released by Goldman Sachs, there is almost no chance of a recession in the next 12 months. The model shows that 2023 has a 38% probability of recession. Goldman has touted that depending on the situation in Ukraine, the future remains extremely uncertain. The 2Y-10Y yield curve inverted this morning in Asia for the second time, only hours apart. A key economic indicator of recession, some experts dismiss the yield curve as a viable tool to predict recession because this time is different. Jeff Gundlach says that the yield curve is still a vital indicator despite what anyone on Wall Street is pushing. (AC: Recessions have historically come two years after a sustained 2Y-10Y inversion. This would be in line with Goldman’s expectations of an increased chance in 2023 but suggests that we will, with greater certainty, have a recession in 2024. – T.W.)
LOW INTENSITY CONFLICT INTSUM
Far Left Activity Rollup & Outlook
Activity: Far left activists and supporters plan a “Trans Day of Visibility” rally and march on 31 March. The march will support transgender youth, free gender affirming healthcare, end of transphobia in schools, and the decommodification of housing to end homelessness in transgender youth.
Location: Shemanski Park, Portland, OR
Time: 1700 PST; Thursday, 31 MAR
Gales Creek, Oregon
Activity: Shuten Defensive Group, a far left group composed of military veterans, will conduct a Pistol 101 Class for AAPI/BIPOC/Latinx/LGBTQIA+ . Shuten Defensive Group regularly provides training for Antifa and black lives matter supporters, even providing training for free to those who can not afford the class. Shuten Defensive Group conducts classes on a private range, and the location is not provided until you sign up for the class.
Location: Gales Creek, OR
Time: 0900 PST; Sunday, 03 APR
Activity: Autonomy Recovery has coordinated a self defense class on ground defense for the beginner and intermediate skill levels. The class is intended to train supporters on how to defend themselves on the ground and to be able to get off the ground in the event of an attack.
Location: NE 33rd Avenue and US Grant Place Portland, OR 97212
Time: 1200 PST; Sunday, 03 APR
Brooklyn, New York
Activity: Brooklyn Eviction Defense requests support by neighbors and volunteers to assist a local tenant, RoseMarie, from being evicted by her landlord. Brooklyn Eviction Defense regularly uses mob tactics to resist eviction of tenants.
Location: E 42nd St and Lenox Rd Brooklyn, NY 11203
Time: 1230 EST; Thursday, 31 MAR
Activity: Atlanta Resistance Medics, a far left organization who supports Antifa and BLM, coordinates a first aid training for protestors in Atlanta. The training will focus on head/spine/heat/cold injuries and to practice protest medic scenarios.
Location: Belvedere Park, Atlanta, GA
Time: 2000 EST; Sunday, 03 APR
Activity: Arm Your Friends in coordination with Rhinox Solutions plan a range day to focus on zeroing, Handgun and Carbine assessment, transition drills, and communication. The planning is provided for far left activists to include antifa, black lives matter and their allies. Training will be provided on a private range, will be released to participants upon registering for the class.
Location: Louisville, KY
Time: 1300 EST; Saturday, 02 APR
West Palm Beach, Florida
Activity: Florida Youth Liberation Front (FLAYLF) plans to march against “modern slavery in the fields”. The rally is targeting a Wendys in West Palm Beach FLA to demand that they guarantee there is not any slavery in their supply chain.
Location: Bradley Park, Palm Beach, FL 33480
Time: 1130 EST; Saturday, 02 APR
New York, New York
Activity: Vocal New York is demanding that Mayor Adams cease breaking up homeless encampments. A rally will take place at city hall park to “stop the sweeps, and create single haven safe spaces now”.
Location: Broadway &, Chambers St, New York, NY 10007
Time: 1145 EST; Friday, 01 APR
— END REPORT
M.S. indicates analyst commentary from Mike Shelby
D.M. indicates analyst commentary from Dustin Mascorro
T.W. indicates analyst commentary from Troy Watson
M.M. indicates analyst commentary from Max Morton
D.F. indicates analyst commentary from Dan Fleming