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ISIS Drawing More U.S. Soldiers Back to Iraq

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Money and Markets
YOUR BEST SOURCE FOR THE UNBIASED MARKET COMMENTARY YOU WON’T GET FROM WALL STREET
You can also access this issue on our website.
ISIS Gains Drawing More U.S. Soldiers Back to Iraq
MARKET ROUNDUP
Dow +236.36 to 18,000.40
S&P 500 +25.05 to 2,105.20
Nasdaq +62.82 to 5,076.69
10-YR Yield +0.061 to 2.478%
Gold +7.60 to $1,185.20
Crude Oil +$1. 09 to $61.23

By Mike Larson

I said last month that our Middle East policy was in tatters. Now, the proof is in the pudding: Persistent ISIS gains are drawing more U.S. soldiers back to Iraq.

Multiple media reports say the U.S. will send hundreds of additional American troops to Iraq to serve as trainers and planners for the floundering Iraqi forces. Some 400-500 more soldiers will join the roughly 3,000 we already have there in coming weeks. A new American base will also be established to support their efforts.

The goal? To get the Iraqis ready to retake the key cities of Ramadi and Mosul. ISIS took over Mosul in 2014, and overran Ramadi weeks ago in a crushing blow that cost hundreds of lives.

The latest Iraqi gambit will put more American troops in harm’s way. But critics say that even the fresh influx won’t be enough. They want our forces staged closer to the front so they can spot and call in airstrikes, and want them backed up by more American military hardware, such as Apache attack helicopters.

More U.S. troops are to help train Iraqi troops in the fight against ISIS.

The problem is that Iraq’s army has proven time and again that it isn’t up to the task of fighting ISIS. Not only that, but the terrorist group continues to press its attacks in Iraq, Syria, and North Africa. The New York Times just reported the group’s forces in Libya took over more territory, while its fighters in Iraq attacked a council office less than 40 miles from Baghdad.

I wish I could see a way out of this quagmire. But I just can’t. It’s not like peace is breaking out elsewhere in the region, either. The Saudis continue to bomb Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen, while those rebels reportedly fired a longer-range Scud missile into Saudi territory recently. Patriot missiles managed to shoot it down, but the attack is just the latest escalation in a region that can ill-afford it.

So be sure you keep an eye on the latest conflicts, and on ways to protect your wealth from them. We’ll provide guidance at every step along the way here in Money and Markets.

“It’s not like peace is breaking out elsewhere in the region, either.”

Let me know your thoughts on this important topic, too. Will additional American troops succeed in rolling back ISIS gains? Or are they too little, too late? What should we do, if not send more advisers?

What about the Saudis? Are they going to be able to fight off the threat from Shiite rebels in Yemen, or Shiite-led Iran? Here’s the website link where you can weigh in.

Our Readers Speak

There’s no question interest rates are on the rise. The only question being debated at the website is whether the move will last.

Reader Mike P. said the initial bond market selloff could turn into something worse if investors start to panic. His take: “Some of the major financial management firms are calling the sudden rise of long-term bond yields a ‘technical’ move. It is the result of speculators attempting to unwind positions in long-term securities, all at the same time, causing a liquidity problem.

“It still remains to be seen how retail bond investors will behave as they see the Net Asset Value of their bond funds begin to decline. At a minimum, anyone invested in bonds should be in an actively managed fund, preferably a Closed End Fund.”

Reader Ron W. also weighed in on the emotional tone to the selling, but argued that it can’t persist in the face of still-lackluster economic growth. His view: “Is it based in reality or fear? Current ‘emotion’ says rates are going up soon. While the case is increasing, I still do not believe that the facts justify the economy heating up sufficiently to cause an actual rate increase.

“Wages are still not increasing, and under-employment is still high. Rates should go up when wages are increasing beyond 2% per year. Then we have a heated economy. Remember, wage increases raise prices both in cost and demand. No wage increase, no inflation.”

Finally, Reader Steven added this observation on the interaction of interest rates and key rate-sensitive industries, like real estate:

“Things could become very ‘interest’-ing if the market moves and leaves the Fed standing on the proverbial street corner. Watch what will happen to real estate if the 2.5% ceiling is broken. Selling prices will decline to the extent that the increased interest takes more of the monthly payment that buyers are presently able to afford.”

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I believe the interest rate surge is being driven by a combination of factors: Fears of a Fed-driven “Bloody Wednesday” event in the near future … a modest improvement in the global economic outlook … and panic selling in the radically, stupidly overvalued global sovereign bond market.

Remember all those people who were buying European government bonds at NEGATIVE yields not too long ago? Yeah, that was pure genius! I called it a massive bubble, and I’m not surprised in the least that it’s starting to burst. And I continue to urge you to take steps to protect yourself.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any more thoughts on interest rates over at the website. Here’s the link.

Other Developments of the Day

BulletHere’s one possible reason why rates are rising: The Pimco Total Return Fund has been dumping government bonds like mad! The $107-billion bond fund is the second-largest in the world, and it dumped two-thirds of its U.S. government bond holdings in May.

BulletSquabbling in Europe is continuing between European creditor nations and Greece. The Greeks are reportedly holding out in hopes of getting more debt relief at the last minute. But European politicians are claiming that strategy will backfire because they’re fed up and unwilling to dole out more eleventh-hour goodies. We shall see.

BulletTerrorists in Egypt tried to launch their own attacks at the ancient city and tourist site of Luxor. Three assailants attempted to get through security there, but were thwarted in the process by security personnel. One detonated his explosives, killing himself, while another was shot dead.

BulletWho will get the 2026 World Cup? Who knows! FIFA is suspending the bidding process for that tournament in the wake of its widening corruption scandal. No word yet on whether Russia or Qatar will get stripped of the intervening tournaments in 2018 and 2022.

So what do you think about the ongoing Greek debt tragedy? The latest terrorist attacks in Egypt? Any of the other stories I’ve covered? Let me know at the website, which you can access here.

Until next time,

Mike Larson

(P.S. Don’t miss the third video in Dr. Martin Weiss’ Q&A video series! Click here to tune in and learn his thoughts on the economy and investment market.)

Mike Larson
Mike Larson graduated from Boston University with a B.S. degree in Journalism and a B.A. degree in English in 1998, and went to work for Bankrate.com. There, he learned the mortgage and interest rates markets inside and out. Mike then joined Weiss Research in 2001. He is the editor of Safe Money Report. He is often quoted by the Washington Post, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswires, Orlando Sentinel, Palm Beach Post and Sun-Sentinel, and he has appeared on CNN, Bloomberg Television and CNBC.
The investment strategy and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of any other editor at Weiss Research or the company as a whole.

For more information and archived issues, visit www.moneyandmarkets.com.

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