‘Mother of all bombs’ blasts ISIS… and the U.S. stock market

Attack on ISIS-Khorasan complex in Afghanistan spooks Wall Street’s traders big time as the long Easter holiday weekend approaches.

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U.S. MOAB ("Mother of All Bombs"). USAF photo via Air Force Times. Government image is in the public domain.

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2017 – “The Pentagon said Thursday that it had used the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal against ISIS, prompting questions about what exactly this weapon is,” CNBC reported just minutes ago. This is apparently the first time the weapon has been used by the U.S. military.

“Most of what is publicly available about the GBU-43,” the report continues, “comes from a 2008 article from the Eglin Air Force Base. The piece, which marked the five-year anniversary of the bomb, says that the GBU-43 weighs a massive 21,600 pounds. During testing, the weapon created a mushroom cloud that could be seen 20 miles away from the blast, according to the Air Force story.

“The original goal of the so-called MOAB — either standing for “Massive Ordinance Air Blast” or “Mother Of All Bombs,” depending on who you ask — was to act as a non-nuclear deterrent against former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein.”

The MOAB was apparently developed beginning some time in 2002 as a replacement device for the BLU-82, nicknamed the “Daisy Cutter,” as a bigger but “smarter,” GPS-enabled or –capable bomb. It is said to be the largest non-nuclear bomb that has ever been assembled, and its reported use occurred in an attack on a complex ISIS-Khorasan bunker located in Afghanistan.


The Air Force Times currently has further details on the mission. A video describing the weapon appears below.

Wall Street reacted predictably to the surprise news. Struggling to stay in the green in Thursday morning trading action, all three major averages were pancaked when news of the massive bomb attack hit the wires. At its worst point, the DJIA was off well over 100 points, followed by drops in the broader-based S&P 500 and the tech-heavy NASDAQ. The small-cap Russell 2000 index also took a substantial hit.

Currently, the Big Three averages have recovered somewhat, with the DJIA currently off 74.20 points (-0.36 percent), the S&P 500 down 7.03 (-0.30 percent) and the NASDAQ off 10.95 (-0.19 percent). The Russell 2000, however, is the worse for wear, off 12 points, a nearly 1 percent shellacking.

Although WTI crude is currently down 12 cents bbl., gold bugs are happy, as their favorite yellow metal is currently up $10.90 per troy ounce, a nearly 1 percent gain. Although gold has apparently been manipulated for years by major national banking interests, it appears to be serving one of its primary historical functions today, acting as a store of value during troubling political times, which today’s event tends to underscore.

That’s because, like last week’s U.S. Tomahawk attack on the Syrian airbase that supported the Assad government’s airdrop of sarin gas on civilian targets, today’s stunning attack on ISIS in Afghanistan is not only a “thing in itself”—as the Trump Administration attempts to fulfill the President’s campaign promise to obliterate ISIS. It’s also Message #2 for the lunatic North Korean regime, which is apparently about to conduct yet another nuclear test in defiance of both the U.S. but apparently China as well.

It is becoming clear that if China does not do something to cripple or eliminate the current North Korean regime, the U.S. has just communicated what it will likely do if Kim Jong-un follows through on his nuclear test threat. Indeed, that country’s current Dictator-for-Life is apparently evacuating a substantial portion of North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang, in anticipation of some kind of retaliatory attack, indicating he intends to go through with the alleged nuclear blast anyway.

Again, while this is speculation on our part, it makes sense. And it’s also likely what Wall Street traders are surmising as well, given the market’s behavior today, with the selling activity, already underway since mid-March, gathers in force, given the upcoming Good Friday trading holiday.

Non-religiously, the holiday means that if you want to get out of any positions today, you’ve got roughly an hour-and-a-half to sell during regular trading hours. The next “escape hatch” doesn’t come until Monday, April 17 at 9:30 a.m. ET.

It’s hard to second guess world events. Given the most recent “lone-wolf” ISIS-inspired attacks against civilians in Europe, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that these mass-murdering Islamofascists would love to bloody one or more U.S. cities on Easter Weekend. There could be something going on here we don’t yet know about.

But today’s message to North Korea via Afghanistan is also another reason for financial nervousness. It’s serious stuff, and highly unnerving. And yet, this has been a festering world problem since at least the Truman Administration, and perhaps it’s time to bring the North Korean issue to a close. T

Traders are probably fine with this in their own way. But today, many of them are choosing to sit this one out in cash bunkers until the smoke (or anticipated smoke) clears.

Meanwhile, we’ll try to give you at least one more report on this breaking story and its market implications at some point later today and later this weekend if events warrant.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17