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In one of the more bizarre press conferences ever given by the White House, President Barack Obama issued a strong statement of support for Sony Pictures’ decision to release what may be this year’s most controversial movie, “The Interview,” to select theatres on Christmas Day. Sony’s reversal of its December 17th statement in which it caved to threats issued by a computer hacking entity called the Guardians of Peace was applauded by Obama just a few hours later, further cementing an unusually close, and some might argue an inappropriate relationship between the President and the Hollywood albatross.
As has been widely reported, Sony has been weathering a public relations nightmare as alleged North Korean hackers broke into the multinational corporation’s networks, exposing email communications of its top executives and creating an embarrassing and awkward environment within the entertainment industry. The hackers threatened further attacks unless Sony cancelled its release of “The Interview,” a political satire starring the artistically limited Seth Rogen and the apparently underpaid James Franco as two government sponsored agents tasked with the daunting mission of assassinating North Korean dictator, Kim Jung Un. The subject matter of the movie in question, as well as web-based forensic analysis, led the Federal Bureau of Investigation to pin the blame on North Korean terrorism. President Obama later promised a “proportionate response” to the isolationist country, which coincidentally suffered two internet blackouts following the White House statement.
The unfortunate events that occurred to Sony reflect a relatively painless derivative of asymmetric warfare, a concept discussed in great detail by Jim Rickards. The technological advancement across multiple industries, particularly in computer and internet technologies, has allowed rogue nations, and even lone-wolf individuals, to amass enormous leverage towards nefarious operations. Any response leveled towards these agitators is bound to be asymmetric against the interests of the victimized party. What good is it to retaliate against an entity that has nothing to lose? Let’s face it…North Korea is already a shithole…there’s nothing that can be done to make that country any more shittier than that which has already been done to themselves.
The asymmetry also reflects the symbiotic nature of the global economic infrastructure. China, which has long been a staunch ally of North Korea, has shown signs of irritation with its neighbor, and for very good reason. Despite the touch rhetoric that is often exchanged between the East and West, globalization has created strange bedfellows. The Chinese are in no way beneficiaries of this latest international flare-up because, at the end of the day, somebody needs to buy cheap Chinese crap, and that somebody is usually American.
In financial news, the U.S. equities sector finished flat during a holiday shortened trading session on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 closing at 2,081, while the Dow Jones moved up slightly to a record 18,030 points. The precious metals complex had a tough week due to cash draw-downs, with gold closing at 1,175 while silver finished the session at 15.77. Palladium failed to build off of last week’s momentum, with the most recent session ending at 807 dollars. Finally, bitcoin appears to be in technical trouble as substantial selling pressure has denied multiple rally attempts, with the last trade coming in at 325 dollars.
And that will do it for this edition. Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next week!