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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 12, 2009, 07:06:41 AM

correct me if im wrong, but the chart indicates the U.S will be over 10 trillion in the hole at the end of 10 years.  A couple questions;
1- the current numbers are based on recovery starting this year which gives the govt increasing tax revenue.  Most say recovery this year or even next year is unlikely.  How do those numbers look if the slide continues.
2- Based on the "borrowing .50 of every dollar spent".  who is going to lend the U.S 5 trillion additional dollar? considering the fed is buy u.s govt debt right now..............
3- what will happen to the U.S dollar if it is replaced as the reserve currency? what will this do to their buget projections.  The IMF is already issuing reserve notes that are not linked to the U.S dollar.


I have a feeling the that chart is the best case senario and that any of the above will cause escalating layoffs and job loss which will result in further borrowing for social programs, which will result in the printing of money, which will result in inflation.
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: May 10, 2009, 10:51:22 PM
Video and pics from russia's may 9th 2009 parade.  Comrade putin looks like he was having a good time.

http://ziza.ru/2009/04/30/repeticija...a_77_foto.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYtC1MdPvWY&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecanadiangunnutz%2Ecom%2Fforum%2Fshowthread%2Ephp%3Ft%3D348403&feature=player_embedded
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 10, 2009, 09:50:27 PM
That 17 billion does not even cover the extra 19 billion fanny mae is asking for.

http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2009/05/budget-cutting-101.html

WEDNESDAY, MAY 06, 2009

Budget-Cutting 101

How does the Obama Administration plan to save money? If you guessed "cutting defense," give yourself a gold star and move to the head of the budgetary class.

The Wall Street Journal reports that defense programs will absorb half of the $17 billion in planned cuts, which will be announced on Thursday. Some of the reductions have already been announced, including plans to halt production of the Air Force's F-22 stealth fighter.

The rest of the cuts will come from domestic programs, although it's unclear if the reductions will actually occur. As one administration official told the Journal, virtually all programs have a constituency, meaning that someone will fight the planned reductions.

Not that it really matters. The reductions are largely symbolic, as the WSJ explains:

Compared with the total $3.6 trillion spending plan for 2010, the proposed trims amount to one-half of 1%. Half the cuts would come from defense, especially Pentagon weapons programs already spelled out by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, such as trimming back the fleet of advanced F-22 fighter planes. The other half would come from programs that have strong support among progressive activists who cheered Mr. Obama's election. Programs targeted for elimination or consolidation include education and housing programs that Democratic aides said will have fierce advocates among traditionally Democratic constituencies.

Given that reality, it's not inconceivable that some of the domestic initiatives will be saved, forcing bean counters to look for more cuts in the defense budget. So the "50% share" for the Pentagon may well rise, as the administration looks for more ways to save money.

OMB Director Peter Orszag says the planned defense reductions include "all of those" outlined by Defense Secretary Bob Gates last month. Programs targeted for down-sizing (or elimination) include the C-17 transport, the airborne laser and the aforementioned F-22. Some analysts believe that the Air Force has been unfairly singled out for budget cuts, with ominous implications for the service and its airpower mission.

But those sorts of arguments don't get much traction. Just today, pollster Frank Luntz advised Republicans to avoid "principled arguments" in battling the White House on health care reform. Embrace the reform mantra, Luntz argued, and advocate efficiency and savings in the GOP plan.

If you can't get American voters to see the folly of socialized health care, then well-reasoned arguments supporting key defense programs stand absolutely no chance. Welcome to the ill-informed, indifferent U.S. electorate of the early 21st Century. The greatest of the "Great Unwashed." Just the kind of voters that Democrats love.
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 10, 2009, 07:34:39 PM
I just dont see how they can call bottom just yet;


Fannie Mae to Tap $19 Billion in Treasury Capital
May 8 (Bloomberg) -- Fannie Mae, operating under a federal conservatorship, asked the U.S. Treasury for a $19 billion capital investment and raised the possibility that its long-term survival may be dependent on continued government funding.
Fannie Mae, which took $15.2 billion in aid on March 31, cited the “unprecedented” housing market slump and government- mandated programs that are creating “conflicts in strategic and day-to-day decision making,” according to company filings today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aR_Lf2hl0TJU




California could be broke by July, state official warns
Adding to the fiscal woes, the Obama administration is threatening to pull $6.8 billion in stimulus funds from California in a dispute over an earlier state budget cut. (note: the govt is threatening to pull bail out money if cali CUTS social programs)
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-california-budget-crisis8-2009may08,0,7342537.story




"Ruminations on the Latest Unemployment Figures from the Bureau of Lies and Statistics"
The unemployment figures just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are totally cosmetic: We lost a whole lot more than 531,000 unemployed.

First, the "seasonal adjustment", which is a black box that can tweek me into looking like Dumbo the flying elephant. They're knocking off ±65,000 workers for no clearly discernible reason.

Second, notice that the Census Bureau hired 60,000 people last month. Those workers (by definition) are temporary, and are a net cost to the economy, as they will not be adding marginal utility to any economic sector, the census being merely a social expenditure.

Those two items alone turn 530,000 new unemployed into 655,000.




http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2009/05/guest-post-april-unemployment-figures.html






105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 10, 2009, 12:47:29 PM
So, here is my question.  If the economy is on the way to recovery why does the FDIC need a new office with 500+ new employees in Georgia whose specific task will be "to manage receiverships and to liquidate assets from failed financial institutions" ?  Keep in mind the office wont be up and running until sept which is still 5 months away and they will only be serving the south east.  what do they know that we dont?


FDIC to Open a Temporary Satellite Office, Jacksonville Office will Assist with  Bank Closings

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) today announced it will open a temporary satellite office in Jacksonville, Florida, to manage receiverships and to liquidate assets from failed financial institutions primarily located in the eastern states.

After conducting a competitive leasing acquisition process, the FDIC entered into a short-term agreement to lease space at 7777 Baymeadows Way in Jacksonville. The decision was based on mission needs and workload.

The new office will provide facilities for up to 500 nonpermanent staff and contractors. Staffing will be based on the workload needs of this office, based on the number of closings in the eastern states, the resulting number of receiverships, and the post-closing workload.

Throughout its history, the FDIC has used these offices to keep temporary asset resolution staff closer to the concentration of failed bank assets they oversee. As the work diminishes, the temporary satellite offices are closed.

The FDIC expects to gradually move into the space starting in mid-September 2009

http://www.fdic.gov/news/news/press/2009/pr09068.html
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 06, 2009, 06:14:13 AM


China has 'canceled US credit card': lawmaker
5 days ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) — China, wary of the troubled US economy, has already "canceled America's credit card" by cutting down purchases of debt, a US congressman said Thursday.

China has the world's largest foreign reserves, believed to be mostly in dollars, along with around 800 billion dollars in US Treasury bonds, more than any other country.

But Treasury Department data shows that investors in China have sharply curtailed their purchases of bonds in January and February.

Representative Mark Kirk, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and co-chair of a group of lawmakers promoting relations with Beijing, said China had "very legitimate" concerns about its investments.

"It would appear, quietly and with deference and politeness, that China has canceled America's credit card," Kirk told the Committee of 100, a Chinese-American group.

"I'm not sure too many people on Capitol Hill realize that this is now happening," he said.

The Republican lawmaker said that China was justified in concerns about returns from finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were bailed out by the US government due to the financial crisis.

Kirk said he was the first member of Congress to tour the Bureau of Public Debt, which trades bonds, and was alarmed at how much debt was being bought by the US Federal Reserve due to absence of foreign investors.

"There will come a time where the lack of Chinese participation may have a significant impact," Kirk said.

"We should track that, because up until last month they were the number one provider of currency to the United States and now they're gone."

With China's economy also hit by the global economic crisis, Premier Wen Jiabao has openly voiced concern about the status of his country's investments in the United States.

China has also floated replacing the dollar as the key international currency with a basket of units bringing in the euro, sterling and yen.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i4estRSYeFBIII9kezxnP4jgoGZQ
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: April 21, 2009, 12:22:27 PM
Next US terrorist attack - Juval Aviv recent NYC lecture & good advice on preparation

Juval Aviv was the Israeli Agent upon whom the movie Munich ' was based.He was Golda Meir's bodyguard.

She appointed him to track down and bring to justice the Palestinian terrorists who took the Israeli athletes hostage

and killed them during the Munich Olympic Games. In a lecture in New York City a few weeks ago, he shared information that EVERY American needs to know -- but that our government has not yet shared with us.

He predicted the London subway bombing on the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News, stating publicly that it would happen=2 0within a week. At the time, O'Reilly laughed and mocked him saying that in a week he wanted him back on the show. But, unfortunately, within a week the terrorist attack had occurred. Juval Aviv gave intelligence (via what he had gathered in Israel and the Middle East ) to the Bush Administration about 9/11 ,ONE MONTH before it occurred. His report specifically said they would use planes as bombs and target high profile buildings and monuments. Congress has since hired him as a security consultant.These are his future predictions:
The next terrorist attack on the U.S. will occur within the next few months. Forget hijacking airplanes, because he says terrorists will NEVER try and hijack a plane again as they know the people on board will never go down quietly again. Aviv believes our airport security is a joke -- that we have been reactionary rather than proactive in developing strategies that are

truly effective. For example:
(1) Our airport technology is outdated. We look for metal,and the new explosives are made of plastic.

(2) He talked about how some idiot tried to light his shoe on fire. Because of that, now everyone has to take off their
shoes. One group tried to bring aboard liquid explosives. Now we can't bring liquids on board. He says he's waiting for some suicidal maniac to pour liquid explosive on his underwear; at which point, security will have us all traveling naked! Every strategy we have is 'reactionary.'

(3) We only focus on security when people are heading to the gates. Aviv says that if a terrorist attack targets airports in the future, they will target busy times on the front end of the airport when/where people are checking in. It would be easy for someone to take two suitcases of explosives, walk up to a busy check-in line, ask a person next to them to watch their bags for a minute while they run to the restroom or get a drink, and then detonate the bags BEFORE security even gets involved. In Israel , security checks bags BEFORE people can even ENTER the airport. Aviv says the next terrorist attack here in America is imminent and will involve suicide bombers and non-suicide bombers in places where large groups of people congregate.
(i. e., Disneyland, Las Vegas casinos, big cities (New York,San Francisco, Chicago, etc.) and that it will also includeshopping malls, subways in rush hour, train stations, etc.,as well as rural America this time (Wyoming, Montana, etc.).

The attack will be characterized by simultaneous detonations around the country (terrorists like big impact), involving at least 5-8 cities, including rural areas. Aviv says terrorists won't need to use suicide bombers in many of the larger cities, because at places like the MGM Grand in Las Vegas , they can simply valet park a car loaded with explosives and walk away. Aviv says all of the above is well known in intelligence circles, but that our U. S. government does not want to 'alarm American citizens' with the facts. The world is quickly going to become 'a different place', and issues like 'global warming' and political correctness will become totally irrelevant. On an encouraging note, he says that Americans don't have to be concerned about being nuked. Aviv says the terrorists who want to destroy America will not use sophisticated weapons. They like to use suicide as a front-line approach. It's cheap, it's easy, it's effective; and they have an infinite abundance of young militants more than willing to 'meet their destiny'.

He also says the next level of terrorists, over which America should be most concerned, will not be coming from abroad. But will be, instead, 'homegrown' -- having attended and been educated in our own schools and universities right here in the U. S. He says to look for students' who frequently travel back and forth to the Middle East . These young terrorists will be most dangerous because they will know our language and will fully understand the habits of Americans; but that we Americans won't know/understand a thing about them. Aviv says that, as a people, Americans are unaware and uneducated about the terroristic threats we will, inevitably, face. America still has only have a handful of Arabic and Farsi speaking people in our intelligence networks, and Aviv says it is critical that we change that fact SOON.

So, what can America do to protect itself?From an intelligence perspective, Aviv says the U.S. needsto stop relying on satellites and technology for intelligence. We need to, instead, follow Israel 's, Ireland 's and England 's hands-on examples of human
intelligence, both from an infiltration perspective as well as to trust 'aware' citizens to help. We need to engage and educate ourselves as citizens; however, our U. S.government continues to treat us, its citizens, 'like babies'. Our government thinks we 'can't handle the truth' and are concerned that we'll panic if we understand the realities of terrorism. Aviv says this is a deadly mistake. Aviv recently created/executed a security test for our Congress, by placing an empty briefcase in five well-traveled spots in five major cities. The results? Not one person called 911 or sought a policeman to check it out.

In fact, in Chicago , someone tried to steal the briefcase! In comparison, Aviv says that citizens of Israel are so well 'trained' that
an unattended bag or package would be reported in seconds by citizen(s) who know to publicly shout, 'Unattended Bag!'
The area would be quickly & calmly cleared by the citizens themselves.But, unfortunately, America hasn't been yet 'hurtenough' by terrorism for their government to fully understand the need to educate its citizens or for the government to understand that it's their citizens who are, inevitably, the best first-line of defense against terrorism. Aviv also was concerned about the high number of children here in America who were in preschool and kindergarten after 9/11, who were 'lost' without parents being able to pick them up, and about our schools that had no plan in place to best care for the students until parents could get there. (In New York City , this was days, in some cases!) He stresses the importance of having a plan, that's agreed upon within your family, to respond to in the event of a terrorist emergency. He urges parents to contact their children's schools and demand that the schools, too, develop plans of actions, as they do in Israel .. Does your family know what to do if you can't contact one another by phone? Where would you gather in an emergency? He says we should all have a plan that is easy enough for even our youngest children to remember and follow. Aviv says that the U .. S. government has in force a plan that, in the event of another terrorist attack, will immediately cut-off Everyone's ability to use cell phones, blackberries, etc., as this is the preferred communication source used by terrorists and is often the way that their bombs are detonated. How will you communicate with your loved ones in the event you cannot speak? You need to have a plan.
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 19, 2009, 10:41:03 PM
Look at the birth rates of the nations that can possibly supply us with educated motivated workers.  Most are below sustaining levels.  The only places still exporting works are islamic third world rat holes.  After doing alot fo travelling over the last two years i think i have seen enough to say, we do not need anymore sudanese cab drivers or pakistanni baggage screeners.
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: April 19, 2009, 09:08:35 AM
U.S.: Palestinians need not recognize Israel as Jewish state before talks
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a condition for renewing peace talks is unacceptable to the United States, the State Department said during special envoy George Mitchell's visits over the weekend to Ramallah and Cairo.

The State Department released statements saying that the United States would continue to promote a two-state solution. In Ramallah, Mitchell met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mitchell's talks also seem to indicate that the United States does not accept Netanyahu's position that the renewal of negotiations should be postponed until the Iranian nuclear threat is removed.
While Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak has not spoken publicly on the issue, his associates said Saturday he is obligated to the party platform, which supports the establishment of a Palestinian state. The platform does not mention Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a precondition for establishing a Palestinian state.

Barak also reportedly opposes linking the renewal of the peace process with the Iranian threat and supports a regional peace agreement that includes dealing with that threat.

The demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people was raised for the first time about 18 months ago in talks between Israel and the United States ahead of the Annapolis Conference. Then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni demanded that the conference's closing statement mention a nation-state solution, a formulation meant to neutralize a Palestinian demand for refugees' right of return.

However, the Bush administration accepted the Palestinian objection that the issue should be subject to negotiation. The PLO leadership also told the United States that it supported unequivocally the Saudi peace initiative that includes a clause in favor of a just and agreed-on solution to the refugee problem in keeping with U.N. Resolution 194.

That resolution calls for the right of refugees to return at the earliest practicable date and compensation for those who choose not to return. The Arab League meeting last month appended a comment to its closing statement that its initiative does not include the right of return for refugees.

A few weeks before Yasser Arafat died in 2004, he told Haaretz that he understood that Israel is a Jewish state. However, he said on a number of occasions that official recognition by the PLO of this fact would hurt the status and feelings of the Palestinian minority in Israel. He said it was not the Palestinians' business to define the identity of another country.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1079213.html
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 19, 2009, 08:51:02 AM
The Baby Boomers

According to Wikipedia, "Influential authors William Strauss and Neil Howe label American Baby Boomers [as people born between the years] 1943 and 1960." This means that in 1980, the youngest boomer was 20, the oldest was 37 and the average was 28.5 (see table below).

 

Why is this important? Because the boomers are the largest single demographics cohort in history, and they have exerted many well-characterized influences on politics and social structure. I won't go into any of that here, but will instead focus on what I view as the underappreciated economic and financial impacts of the boomer crowd.

The relevant detail here is that a person's income begins at a level of zero, and (on average) rises steadily to a point before declining throughout old age back towards zero. Where is the peak of earnings?

Again from Wikipedia, "Two decades ago, the peak earning years were between 35 and 44. Now they occur ten years later. Twenty years ago, those in their peak earning years took home about twice as much as workers between the ages of 20 and 24. Now they earn more than three times as much."

So peak earnings lie between the ages of 35 to 55 over the period we are discussing (1978 onwards).

This means that in 1980, when stocks and bonds and housing all began their journey into the wild blue yonder, the oldest of the baby boomers were just entering their peak earning years. What might we predict to be the collective impact of a gigantic demographics bolus moving through its peak earning years?

Well, accumulating savings and investing in such things as stocks, bonds, and houses are both highly correlated with earning power. Extrapolating across an entire generational demographic bulge, we might readily defend the idea that rising asset prices were at least partially, if not largely, driven by the rising earning power of the boomers.

Now let's take another look at the 30-year stock chart with the boomers' peak earning years (loosely defined as the time when the middle range of the boomer demographic was between 35 and 50 years old) marked upon it:

 

Again, this might be a matter of correlation, not causation, but if the rise in stock prices witnessed over the late 1980s, 1990s and early 2000 timeframe was in large part due to a demographic bulge, then we could readily predict that stocks and bonds (and houses and everything else) will not be a sure-fire path to wealth in the future like they were in the past.

However, what goes up must come down. Those who save for retirement must also spend in retirement. So I invite you to consider the idea that our common experience with paper assets might be explained as a demographic dividend, as much as by the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve or the fact that ample oil reserves were available to supply the economic expansion.

If this thesis holds, then here's what we might predict:

Tailwind of boomer investment turns into headwind of disinvestment

As mentioned in the Crash Course (in Chapter 14 - Assets and Demographics), there seems to be a slight problem in the model where one generation sells off its assets to the generation behind them. When there are more sellers than buyers, prices fall, and when there are more buyers than sellers, prices rise. So I must ask the question, "What will happen when the boomers seek to unload their assets to fund their retirements?" It seems entirely likely that we could see more sellers than buyers for a while. I am anticipating that this will create a sustained headwind that will grind down asset prices until a more proportional relationship to production is struck.

The great illusion created by the demographically-driven rise in asset prices was the notion that one could park excess money in some form of paper or housing asset and "get wealthy" over time. For a while, it seemed so simple. Buy the right index fund and sit back and wait. Just buy a house and wait. Just pick the right stock and wait. That's all it took to ‘get rich.' Right?

But if you stop and think about it, this is really not possible, at least not in aggregate and certainly not over the long haul. It is a cheap, temporary illusion. Real wealth is created by people producing things. Once a company has sold stock through a primary offering, no new capital is "invested" in the company, by virtue of the fact that people are bidding up its stock in the secondary market. So all secondary stock-market purchases are really just bets on the prospects of the company to earn future money, not actual capital investment.

The impact of the failure to save

Real wealth comes from actual production. Somebody, somewhere, has to turn sand into a silicon wafer, and somebody else has to turn that into a semiconductor chip, which somebody else has to turn into a computer. That's creating value. Along the way, it is vital that the property, plant, and equipment of these manufacturers be refurbished and replaced as necessary. Unless we want to fund these investments from a steadily rising mountain of debt that will someday collapse on itself, the borrowings must come from savings.

When I look around, I see nation that has failed both to save and to properly maintain its core capital stock. The bridges in my town are all "D"-rated or lower, many towns still subsist on dial-up Internet access, and practically every public building is due for a retrofit. These are local anecdotes, so take them with a grain of salt, but that's what I see.

On a larger scale, it is certain that consuming more than one produces and failing to save (two sides of the same coin) are a sure path to the poorhouse. Since the late 1970s or early 1980s, the US has been living well beyond its means, consuming more than it produces. We call this "the trade deficit," which is simply the measure of what we export against what we import. Specifically, imports are subtracted from exports, and a negative number means, "You're consuming more than you produce!"

This next chart of the trade deficit is a bit old (it comes from a seminar I gave in 2007), and I certainly should update it, but it would tell the very same story: The US is on an aggressive path to the poorhouse. To fund all that excess consumption, the US made the strategy-poor decision to borrow the difference from foreigners, a decision which will either destroy the dollar at some point in the future or cede a form of economic veto power to our future competitors.

 

Along with this foreign borrowing came the migration of our actual sources of wealth generation (production) to offshore locations, which, when you think about it, was a necessary condition, because we were not saving enough to fund the required investments here at home anyway.

The bottom line of this story is that debt represents a claim on the future, and future cash flows cannot forever be borrowed. Eventually they must reflect actual production. That is, future wealth generation must be of sufficient size to support future debt servicing costs.

Because the US made the extremely odd conjoined decision to both fund its excess consumption with foreign borrowing and send a large proportion of its wealth generation offshore, a future consisting of a vastly diminished standard of living is about as much of a sure thing as one can find.

Frankly, I do not see any possible way for the debt promises (see the Debt-to-GDP chart) to be kept. I see a future of paper asset destruction that will bring future promises and future production back in line. I don't know all the wrinkles and details, but I am thinking that the next ten years will see the US's debt obligations shrink back to something less than 200% of GDP. Along with that, the portion of our GDP that was false, because it was inflated by excess deficit spending, will be shrinking. I think that $25 to $30 trillion of (current value) debt destruction lies along that path.

The stimulus package, as large as it is, is merely a down payment.

This means that you might need to completely rethink your views on "investing" and how assets behave, along with how you will secure and protect your wealth.

The notion that everyone can "become wealthy" through entirely passive investments in stocks and bonds is a deep-seated cultural belief that is constantly reinforced by a self-interested financial services industry. But we each might benefit by asking ourselves, "Does this makes sense?" And, if it does not, we must then ask, "What might the implications be?" Whatever answers might develop in your mind, I invite you to trust yourself and to research the matter further if you are not entirely comfortable with them.

What next?

My purpose in writing about the true source of material wealth and the impact of baby boomers on stocks, bonds, and housing prices is to prompt you to seriously consider the possibility that the economic activity of the last few decades is misleading.

It is this disconnect between "how things were" and "how things actually work" that led me to make serious changes to my life. It formed the basis for my deeply held belief that the next twenty years are going to be completely unlike the last twenty years.

If you are like me, your beliefs about "how things work" were shaped during an anomalous period which will not soon be replicated in our lifetimes - if ever. It comprised a unique combination of demographics, geopolitical circumstances, a politicized Federal Reserve, supportive energy supplies, and corporatized media better suited to reinforcing consumer beliefs than delivering essential context.

In my estimation, this marks the beginning of a great leveling of expectations between what we promised ourselves and what reality can deliver. We are in the opening stages of a grand play with many acts and even more plot twists.

I intend this piece to give you one more tool in your toolbox that you could use in your discussions with your financial advisor, spouse, friends, or with whomever you regularly discuss our future financial prospects.

The final act in this play, I suspect, will be the destruction of the dollar, along with many other fiat currencies, as stores of wealth. You still have time to begin maneuvering your wealth out of fiat (paper) currencies and into tangible expressions of wealth, but in my experience, most people won't, until and unless their beliefs are in alignment with the necessary actions. For most people, most especially me, sawing at the rope that anchors our beliefs in the past is a slow process, with progress being measured by the breaking of each individual strand.


http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/great-babu-boomer-asset-bubble/16648
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 18, 2009, 11:54:10 AM
A 'Copper Standard' for the world's currency system? (H/T Cat233)

"The next industrial revolution is going to be led by hybrid cars, and that needs copper. You can see the subtle way that China is moving into 30 or 40 countries with resources," he said.
The SRB has also been accumulating aluminium, zinc, nickel, and rarer metals such as titanium, indium (thin-film technology), rhodium (catalytic converters) and praseodymium (glass).

While it makes sense for China to take advantage of last year's commodity crash to restock cheaply, there is clearly more behind the move. "They are definitely buying metals to diversify out of US Treasuries and dollar holdings," said Jim Lennon, head of commodities at Macquarie Bank.

John Reade, metals chief at UBS, said Beijing may have a made strategic decision to stockpile metal as an alternative to foreign bonds. "We're very surprised by Chinese demand. They are buying much more copper than they will need this year. If this is strategic, there may be no effective limit on the purchases as China's pockets are deep."

Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank governor, piqued the interest of metal buffs last month by calling for a world currency modelled on the "Bancor", floated by John Maynard Keynes at Bretton Woods in 1944.

The Bancor was to be anchored on 30 commodities - a broader base than the Gold Standard, which had caused so much grief in the 1930s. Mr Zhou said such a currency would prevent the sort of "credit-based" excess that has brought the global finance to its knees.

If his thoughts reflect Communist Party thinking, it would explain the bizarre moves in commodity markets over recent weeks. Copper prices have surged 49pc this year to $4,925 a tonne despite estimates by the CRU copper group that world demand will fall 15pc to 20pc this year as construction wilts.

Analysts say "short covering" by funds betting on price falls has played a role. But the jump is largely due to Chinese imports, which reached a record 329,000 tonnes in February, and a further 375,000 tonnes in March. Chinese industrial demand cannot explain this. China has been badly hit by global recession. Its exports - almost half GDP - fell 17pc in March.

While Beijing's fiscal stimulus package and credit expansion has helped lift demand, China faces a property downturn of its own. One government adviser warned this week that house prices could fall 50pc.

One thing is clear: Beijing suspects that the US Federal Reserve is engineering a covert default on America's debt by printing money. Premier Wen Jiabao issued a blunt warning last month that China was tiring of US bonds. "We have lent a huge amount of money to the US, so of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets," he said.

This is slightly disingenuous. China has the world's largest reserves - $1.95 trillion, mostly in dollars - because it has been holding down the yuan to boost exports. This mercantilist strategy has reached its limits.

The beauty of recycling China's surplus into metals instead of US bonds is that it kills so many birds with one stone: it stops the yuan rising, without provoking complaints of currency manipulation by Washington; metals are easily stored in warehouses, unlike oil; the holdings are likely to rise in value over time since the earth's crust is gradually depleting its accessible ores. Above all, such a policy safeguards China's industrial revolution, while the West may one day face a supply crisis.

Beijing may yet buy gold as well, although it has not done so yet. The gold share of reserves has fallen to 1pc, far below the historic norm in Asia. But if a metal-based currency ever emerges to end the reign of fiat paper, it is just as likely to be a "Copper Standard" as a "Gold Standard".

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/5160120/A-Copper-Standard-for-the-worlds-currency-system.html

112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 16, 2009, 03:52:13 PM
A 'Copper Standard' for the world's currency system?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comme...
Hard money enthusiasts have long watched for signs that China is switching its foreign reserves from US Treasury bonds into gold bullion. They may have been eyeing the wrong metal.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 12:33PM BST 16 Apr 2009

China's State Reserves Bureau (SRB) has instead been buying copper and other industrial metals over recent months on a scale that appears to go beyond the usual rebuilding of stocks for commercial reasons.
Nobu Su, head of Taiwan's TMT group, which ships commodities to China, said Beijing is trying to extricate itself from dollar dependency as fast as it can.
"China has woken up. The West is a black hole with all this money being printed. The Chinese are buying raw materials because it is a much better way to use their $1.9 trillion of reserves. They get ten times the impact, and can cover their infrastructure for 50 years."
"The next industrial revolution is going to be led by hybrid cars, and that needs copper. You can see the subtle way that China is moving into 30 or 40 countries with resources," he said.
The SRB has also been accumulating aluminium, zinc, nickel, and rarer metals such as titanium, indium (thin-film technology), rhodium (catalytic converters) and praseodymium (glass).
While it makes sense for China to take advantage of last year's commodity crash to restock cheaply, there is clearly more behind the move. "They are definitely buying metals to diversify out of US Treasuries and dollar holdings," said Jim Lennon, head of commodities at Macquarie Bank.
John Reade, metals chief at UBS, said Beijing may have a made strategic decision to stockpile metal as an alternative to foreign bonds. "We're very surprised by Chinese demand. They are buying much more copper than they will need this year. If this is strategic, there may be no effective limit on the purchases as China's pockets are deep."
Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank governor, piqued the interest of metal buffs last month by calling for a world currency modelled on the "Bancor", floated by John Maynard Keynes at Bretton Woods in 1944.
The Bancor was to be anchored on 30 commodities - a broader base than the Gold Standard, which had caused so much grief in the 1930s. Mr Zhou said such a currency would prevent the sort of "credit-based" excess that has brought the global finance to its knees.
If his thoughts reflect Communist Party thinking, it would explain the bizarre moves in commodity markets over recent weeks. Copper prices have surged 49pc this year to $4,925 a tonne despite estimates by the CRU copper group that world demand will fall 15pc to 20pc this year as construction wilts.
Analysts say "short covering" by funds betting on price falls has played a role. But the jump is largely due to Chinese imports, which reached a record 329,000 tonnes in February, and a further 375,000 tonnes in March. Chinese industrial demand cannot explain this. China has been badly hit by global recession. Its exports - almost half GDP - fell 17pc in March.
While Beijing's fiscal stimulus package and credit expansion has helped lift demand, China faces a property downturn of its own. One government adviser warned this week that house prices could fall 50pc.
One thing is clear: Beijing suspects that the US Federal Reserve is engineering a covert default on America's debt by printing money. Premier Wen Jiabao issued a blunt warning last month that China was tiring of US bonds. "We have lent a huge amount of money to the US, so of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets," he said.
This is slightly disingenuous. China has the world's largest reserves - $1.95 trillion, mostly in dollars - because it has been holding down the yuan to boost exports. This mercantilist strategy has reached its limits.
The beauty of recycling China's surplus into metals instead of US bonds is that it kills so many birds with one stone: it stops the yuan rising, without provoking complaints of currency manipulation by Washington; metals are easily stored in warehouses, unlike oil; the holdings are likely to rise in value over time since the earth's crust is gradually depleting its accessible ores. Above all, such a policy safeguards China's industrial revolution, while the West may one day face a supply crisis.
Beijing may yet buy gold as well, although it has not done so yet. The gold share of reserves has fallen to 1pc, far below the historic norm in Asia. But if a metal-based currency ever emerges to end the reign of fiat paper, it is just as likely to be a "Copper Standard" as a "Gold Standard".
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 14, 2009, 10:46:43 AM
America is Being LootedTuesday, April 14, 2009, 9:20 am, by cmartenson
As cynical as I am, I just can’t keep up.

That sentence is a paraphrase of a quote by Lily Tomlin that reads, “No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up.”

I have long been a cynic of the bailouts and, unfortunately, I cannot detect even the slightest sliver of daylight between the prior and current administrations. The reason, I fear, is captured by this quote from Simon Johnson, the former Chief Economist at the IMF and current professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

The unfortunate conclusion here is that our system and processes are fully “captured” by a tangled web of interests that serve themselves over everything else. Your future, my future, and our future is being systematically ruined by a self-interested group of insiders that can no longer distinguish between their good and the common good.

Here’s the latest string of outrages from this week.

First it is vitally important that not just the absence of conflict of interest be present when big money is involved in policy decisions, but also the appearance of conflict. Our system of money is based on confidence (after all it is a Ponzi scheme) and therefore it is vital that our checks and balances assure that the public good is not abused by a few at the expense of the many.

In order for the average person to pull hard on the yoke of life, straining to earn their daily wage, that wage has to be worth something. What is money “worth” if some of us have to work to exhaustion to obtain it while a very small minority can literally conjure trillions out of thin air and distribute it amongst themselves?

Money is a social contract, especially fiat money, and abusing the trust inherent to making that money system work is the gravest of all possible errors. I am not exaggerating here.

This week I found out that even as Lawrence Summers, in his role as President of Harvard University, was excoriating professor Cornell West for shirking is professorial duties by making a spoken-word audio CD, he was himself moonlighting for a hedge fund and various Wall Street banks earning millions. Here’s Frank Rich in the NYT:

Lawrence Summers, the president’s chief economic adviser, made $5.2 million in 2008 from a hedge fund, D. E. Shaw, for a one-day-a-week job. He also earned $2.7 million in speaking fees from the likes of Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Those institutions are not merely the beneficiaries of taxpayers’ bailouts since the crash. They also benefited during the boom from government favors: the Wall Street deregulation that both Summers and Robert Rubin, his mentor and predecessor as Treasury secretary, championed in the Clinton administration.

This goes well beyond “the appearance of” a conflict of interest. If Summers were a judge he’d have to recuse himself from the case. Nearly $8 million in a few years from Wall Street is a conflict of interest.   A massive one. 

However, if smoking guns are more your thing, then this next bit of information from the same article will be to your liking:

Summers had done consulting work for another hedge fund, Taconic Capital Advisors, from 2004 to 2006, while still president of Harvard. He tried — and, mercifully, failed — to install the co-founder of Taconic in the job of running the TARP bailouts.

Think of the judgment of a person long in the public eye who has apparently learned nothing from their past scrapes with public perception who attempts to install a past patron in a plumb post involving public money being distributed to private, already wealthy recipients.

Think of the character of a person who can rationalize the act of publicly excoriating a professor for doing something that they are secretly doing themselves, but on a much grander scale.

That person is Lawrence Summers, the man chosen by the Obama team to coordinate the bailout efforts.

Rahm Emanuel, the current white house chief of staff, comes similarly burdened:

…the banking industry recently paid Rahm Emanuel $16 million for about two years of work. That investment was recently paid back when, as President Obama's chief of staff, Emanuel led the January campaign to release another $350 billion in bank bailout funds.

But it goes deeper than that. Rahm Emanuel also took what I consider to be a lot of money serving on the board of Freddie Mac, a company that is certain to cost the taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shake-up, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator.

One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Chicago's Rahm Emanuel—now chief of staff to President Barack Obama—who made at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort.

Before Timothy Geithner (“Turbo Tax Timmy” as he’s called in some circles) was appointed to the Treasury position, his career and connections were explored in depth in an excellent article in Portfolio.com by Gary Weiss:

After the Bear deal, the Fed wound up with $30 billion in collateral, mostly in the form of subprime-mortgage securities. Even Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman who served on the search committee that picked Geithner and who still holds him in high regard, has expressed queasiness about the way the deal was structured. In a speech to the Economic Club of New York, Volcker said the Fed took actions that “extend to the very edge of its lawful and implied powers, transcending certain long-embedded central-banking principles and practices.” Volcker later leavened this harsh assessment a bit, telling me that the Fed’s intervention “was a proper action, but it was extraordinary—something that’s never been done before, in terms of calling upon that emergency power. It tells you how seriously they took it.”

Still, misgivings about the deal are hard to ignore, no matter how catastrophic the consequences of not intervening might have been. It doesn’t help that the deal is teeming with connections that are sure to raise questions. Dimon is one of the three class-A directors of the board of the New York Fed, and its head is Stephen Friedman, a former Goldman Sachs chairman, who still sits on the investment bank’s board. The New York Fed’s board also includes Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, a firm that is another oft-rumored potential candidate for a bailout. Fuld is a class-B director, meaning that he is elected by member banks, astoundingly, to represent the public. (Friedman is also supposed to be looking out for you: He was “appointed by the board of governors to represent the public.”) Thus Geithner reports to a board that is composed of people who are not only under his purview but would also benefit from any potential bailouts. The structure of the New York Fed’s board bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the New York Stock Exchange in the bad old days, when member firms, regulated by the N.Y.S.E., were heavily represented on its board.

Even more intriguing is Geithner’s informal brain trust, loaded with Wall Street luminaries. Since coming to the Fed in November 2003—recruited by then-New York Fed chairman Pete Peterson, co-founder of the Blackstone Group—Geithner has learned the ways of the financial industry at the feet of some of its biggest legends. He was almost immediately taken under the wing of Gerald Corrigan, a gregarious former New York Fed chief who is now a managing director of Goldman Sachs. Corrigan describes his relationship with Geithner as close, and it has flourished since Geithner’s first days at the Fed. Another frequent adviser—“you don’t want those things to get too formal,” Corrigan notes—is also a preeminent banker, Merrill Lynch C.E.O. John Thain, a Goldman alumnus and former head of the N.Y.S.E.  Over the years, Thain has often talked to Geithner—“sometimes I talk to him multiple times a day,”

Given this extensive set of interconnections, you might think that he’d be careful to project the right image when stepping into the Treasury role but instead he saw fit to place a Goldman Sachs insider in the position as his top aide last January (before anybody was paying too much attention to all this insider self-dealing):

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner picked a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist as a top aide Tuesday, the same day he announced rules aimed at reducing the role of lobbyists in agency decisions.

Mark Patterson will serve as Geithner's chief of staff at Treasury, which oversees the government's $700 billion financial bailout program. Goldman Sachs received $10 billion of that money.

Just a few months later in March, when questioned about the appearance of conflict of interest, Geithner bristled at the suggestion:

"I am just asking the questions," Waters said, "because the talk is...that this small group of decision makers at the center of it is Goldman Sachs and that's what's causing a lot of the distrust, because people are thinking or believing that Goldman Sachs, because of the connections, have had a lot to do with the decisions that are being made."

Geithner took umbrage.

"I think it's deeply unfair to the people who are part of these decisions to suggest that they were making judgments that in their view were not in the best interest of the American people," Geithner said.

Apparently Mr. Geithner found it completely confusing why anybody would see anything at all wrong with a regular revolving door between positions of extreme financial power over public money and the firms set to benefit from public money.

To me, that is a sure sign that someone is too deeply embedded, too deeply conflicted, too detached from reality to even know where to draw the line. Timothy apparently cannot distinguish between the “best interest of the American people” and Goldman Sachs raking in billions of undeserved public dollars. To him, those are one and the same thing and that's a major reason why I have grave doubts that the bailouts will succeed.

Now let’s cross into the surreal. One of the more grossly mismanaged companies on the face of the planet, the one that will cost taxpayers close to a trillion dollars when all is said and done, is Fannie Mae, the Government Sponsored Enterprise, or GSE. Last night (Monday, April 14th, 2009) this came across my newswire:

7:30 [FNM] Fannie Mae Chief Executive Herb Allison to run TARP: WSJ

So who is it, do you suppose, that picked the CEO of Fannie Mae to run TARP? Could it be Summers and Geithner and Emanuel?

You bet. That’s the vetting team.

As far as I am concerned the CEO of Fannie Mae should be defending himself in court, not running a massive wealth redistribution program.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs reported strong earnings yesterday much of them based on the fact that Goldman Sachs received full payout from side bets it had made with AIG on which it should not have been paid a single dime. Goldman Sachs is a business run by grown-ups and knew that making bets on the unregulated OTC derivatives market did not come with any public guarantee. Nonetheless, Goldman was immediately bailed out, in full, on these side-bets by the Treasury Department.

The funny thing is, Goldman Sachs actually did the prudent thing and hedged their side bets with AIG (presumably by shorting AIG stock…that way, if AIG failed to pay off their side bets the stock price of AIG would slide thereby covering some of the losses for Goldman Sachs). So they were already "made whole" on these losses by their hedging activity.

So you might wonder how is it that a company that is not in danger of failing and has strong earnings and has prudently covered (or hedged) its bets comes to receive tens of billions of dollars of public money anyway?  How can this be?  More importantly, what does this tell us about the prospects for the bailout?

Here’s where we simply need to return to the opening quote:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

My cynicism stems from the fact that as I string together the dots comprising this entire bailout fiasco I can come to only one conclusion; our “public policy” is not being conducted in the interests of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Public policy appears to be in the grip of a very powerful and self-interested cabal that seemingly has no concern for the future or the health of this country and does not even see the need to be cautious enough to mask its efforts.

The fact that the bailout trajectory did not waver in the slightest while passing from the Bush to the Obama administrations indicates that the bailout is not a function of who’s in political power, it is a function of something else, of some other power.

I fear that Simon Johnson has nailed it; “[the] recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform.”

By continuing on our current path, using the same people who created the mess to clean up the mess, we are wasting time, we are wasting money and we are wasting opportunity.  Worse, we are risking the very sort of public backlash that has been thankfully missing from our cultural landscape for a long, long time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go jogging to see if I can catch up with my cynicism.

http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/america-being-looted/16444
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 13, 2009, 04:09:00 PM
Credit Crunch Will Lead to Oil Shock: Consultant

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The global financial crisis and collapse in the oil market have stalled vital investment in oil exploration and production and are likely soon to lead to a sharp spike in prices, an energy consultant and financier says.

Matt Simmons, founder of Houston-based investment bank Simmons & Co, argues the underlying rate of decline of the world's ageing oilfields is as much as 20 percent a year and only high levels of investment can reduce that to single digits.
With credit tight and oil prices almost $100 a barrel below their highs last year, oil companies are unable to sustain previous levels of spending and the result is falling production, he said in an interview on Thursday.
"We are three, six, maybe nine months away from a price shock. We are not talking about three to five years away -- it will be much sooner," Simmons told Reuters in London.
"These prices now are dangerously low. The lower prices fall, the less oil will be produced and the greater the chance of an oil spike," he said.

Oil prices hit record highs of almost $150 per barrel last July but have tumbled since then as the global economic downturn has cut energy consumption by consumers and companies alike.
Prices have rallied from lows below $35 a barrel in December to above $50 but remain well below what many oil companies and producing countries say they need to invest in new production.
Simmons is a proponent of the "peak oil" theory, and has argued for years that world oil output is in irreversible decline because oil industry infrastructure is getting too old.
He says the cost of rebuilding the oil industry is colossal: "The industry's asset base is beyond its original design life."
Twilight in the Desert
Simmons' 2005 best-seller "Twilight in the Desert, The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy," argued oil output from the Middle East's biggest supplier was reaching an apex and would soon decline, ending forever the era of cheap oil.
Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco and many other analysts strongly disagreed with that thesis, saying Simmons exaggerated the rate of decline of older oilfields.



Cambridge Energy Research Associates last year put the rate of decline of the world's oilfields at just 4-5 percent a year.
But Simmons' concerns over the impact of the credit crisis and the dramatic fall in oil prices are shared by many other, more conservative bodies, including the International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises 28 industrialized nations.
IEA Deputy Executive Director Richard Jones warned the oil market this week that so far as much as 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of new upstream capacity due to come on stream had been deferred for now due to lack of funds and low oil prices.
The IEA is also worried recent cuts in oil production by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in an attempt to bolster prices have left oil inventories dangerously low, leaving little room for maneuver when oil demand recovers.
Simmons says many OPEC oil producers will find it difficult to bring output back to previous levels once prices recover.
"When you have an old oilfield whose flow is being maintained by extremely high levels of investment and you reduce production, you rarely if ever get back to where it was."
Slideshow: Which Oil Nations Make Money?
Because of this and natural declines in output, oil use may not need to rise much before production fails to meet demand.
"Unless oil demand falls by 10 or 15 percent per annum, which it is not going to do, then we don't need to wait for oil demand to come back before we have a supply crunch," he said.
"Within a few months, we are going to realize our visible inventories are really tight -- squeaky tight -- and what would really be inconvenient is to see a recovery in the economy."
Copyright 2009 Reuters. Click for restrictions.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/29891917
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 01, 2009, 01:03:24 PM
Its a long read but gives the best explaination of whats going on...........


My Manhattan Project

I have been called the devil by strangers and "the Facilitator" by friends. It's not uncommon for people, when I tell them what I used to do, to ask if I feel guilty. I do, somewhat, and it nags at me. When I put it out of mind, it inevitably resurfaces, like a shipwreck at low tide. It's been eight years since I compiled a program, but the last one lived on, becoming the industry standard that seeded itself into every investment bank in the world.

I wrote the software that turned mortgages into bonds.

Because of the news, you probably know more about this than you ever wanted to. The packaging of heterogeneous home mortgages into uniform securities that can be accurately priced and exchanged has been singled out by many critics as one of the root causes of the mess we're in. I don't completely disagree. But in my view, and of course I'm inescapably biased, there's nothing inherently flawed about securitization. Done correctly and conservatively, it increases the efficiency with which banks can loan money and tailor risks to the needs of investors. Once upon a time, this seemed like a very good idea, and it might well again, provided banks don't resume writing mortgages to people who can't afford them. Here's one thing that's definitely true: The software proved to be more sophisticated than the people who used it, and that has caused the whole world a lot of problems.

http://nymag.com/news/business/55687/
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 01, 2009, 07:49:54 AM
Is this really such a bad thing? I kind of like the idea of having a standard based on a basket of currencies.  As a Canadian it will not effect my country to move to a new standard other then offer more stability.


Russia backs return to Gold Standard to solve financial crisis 

Arkady Dvorkevich, the Kremlin's chief economic adviser, said Russia would favour the inclusion of gold bullion in the basket-weighting of a new world currency based on Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund.
Chinese and Russian leaders both plan to open debate on an SDR-based reserve currency as an alternative to the US dollar at the G20 summit in London this week, although the world may not yet be ready for such a radical proposal. 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/g20-summit/5072484/Russia-backs-return-to-Gold-Standard-to-solve-financial-crisis.html




Russia, China cooperate on new currency proposals: 

Russia and China are coordinating proposals on a new global currency that could replace the US dollar as a reserve currency to prevent a repeat of the global economic crisis, the Kremlin said on Monday.
"We have received proposals from our colleagues in China, detailed proposals," President Dmitry Medvedev's top economic adviser Arkady Dvorkovich said. "Our positions are very similar.
"We have similar positions on the development of the international financial architecture," he told reporters.
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.7e6cab4fec704a0fdd135ecdac00673b.9c1&show_article=1

117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: April 01, 2009, 07:39:40 AM
If Nato had balls they would tell the Russians they dont trust them and thats why we need the shield. Why should we trust Russia? The Russians are opening a sea port in Syria, bases in the Arctic, Bomber bases in Cuba and Venezuala (while asking us to stay out of Eastern Europe), are helping Iran develop Nukes and shielding them from sanctions and action by the UN.  If i were calling the shots i would ramp up oil production and drive oil down to $25 a barrel, even if it means subsdizing Saudi.  I would build the missle shield and form joint bases with Canada in the arctic.  I would also park a couple nuke subs off the coast of russia and let them know we can also play that game.  I would also help Israel get their new gas discoveries to market in europe as quickly as possible.  Within a couple years Russia could be cut off at the knees and be left bankrupt.  Lets see them fund terror or threaten a war with $25 per barrel oil and their natural gas sales halved.  Iran is the tool with which the middle east could be alligned against Russia. 
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 09, 2009, 12:42:38 PM
Chinese political advisors propose making yuan an int'l currency
www.chinaview.cn  2009-03-07 20:18:22  Print


NPC, CPPCC Annual Sessions 2009
Special Report: Global Financial Crisis

BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhua) -- China should speed up reforming its financial system to make the yuan an international currency, said political advisors Saturday.
"A significant inspiration to draw from the global financial crisis is that we must play an active role in the reconstruction of the international financial order," said Peter Kwong Ching Woo, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Wharf (Holdings) Limited.
The key to financial reform is to make the yuan an international currency, said Woo in a speech to the Second Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body.
That means using the Chinese currency to settle international trade payments, allowing the yuan freely convertible on the capital account and making it an international reserve currency, he said.
China's yuan, or Renminbi, can be freely convertible on the current account but not on the capital account, preventing it from being a reserve currency or a choice in international trade settlement.
China has announced trial programs to settle trade in the yuan, a move analysts say will facilitate foreign trade as Chinese exporters might face losses if they continue to be paid in the U.S. dollar. The dollar's exchange rate has become more volatile since the global financial crisis.
Economists say the move will increase the acceptance of the currency in Asia, which will help it become an international currency in the long run.
The status of the yuan as an international currency will benefit China by giving it a bigger say in world financial issues and reducing the reliance of its huge foreign reserves on the U.S. dollar, some analysts say.
Other analysts argue a fully convertible yuan will hurt China as it would allow massive capital outflow during a financial crisis.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities remain cautious.
It's possible that the global financial crisis will facilitate the process of making the yuan internationally accepted, but there's no need to push for that, Yi Gang, vice central bank governor, told Xinhua earlier this month.
That process should be conducive to all sides, he said.
Xu Shanda, former vice director of the State Administration of Taxation and a CPPCC National Committee member, urged for faster paces in making the yuan an international currency as a way of increasing national wealth.
He said the United States and the European Union have obtained hefty royalties from the international use of their currencies while China has become the biggest source of that income.
A royalty, or seignior age, results from the difference between the cost of printing currency and the face value of the money.
"China's loss due to royalty payment has far exceeded the benefit of not making the yuan an international currency," he said in a speech to the annual session of the CPPCC National Committee, without elaborating. China's State Council, or Cabinet, said last December it would allow the yuan to be used for settlement between the country's two economic powerhouses -- Guangdong Province and the Yangtze River Delta -- and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao. Meanwhile, exporters in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Yunnan Province will be allowed to use Renminbi to settle trade payments with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members.
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 09, 2009, 11:31:44 AM
Its a good thing Obama isnt going to raise taxes........."not one cent"..............  Talk about the biggest liar and most corrupt cabinet ever, and still the people are drinking it up.


New air fees part of President Obama's 2010 budget proposal
By: Michael Fabey
March 06, 2009
President Obama’s first budget proposal boosts funding to offset security costs throughout the transportation system and includes more money to improve the national airspace.

But the proposal also has raised an outcry because the administration plans to fund later security measures by raising airline passenger fees and starting new, direct user fees to replace current aviation taxes.

The administration earned some nods from travel pundits by proposing a five-year, $5 billion grant program for high-speed rail development and requesting about $800 million to help modernize the country’s air traffic control system.

The plan also includes an unknown amount of NASA money for research to "increase airspace capacity and mobility, enhance aviation safety and improve aircraft performance while reducing noise, emissions and fuel consumption," budget documents say.

The budget proposal, for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, slates an additional $55 million for the Transportation Department’s small-community air service programs to "fulfill current program requirements."

Finally, the spending plan identifies $64 million "to modernize the infrastructure used to vet travelers and workers. These funds will strengthen screening in order to reduce the risk of potential terrorism or other unlawful activities that threaten the nation’s transportation system."

Two changes in tax strategy that would directly affect airline passengers are an increase in the security fee assessed for passengers, now about $5 per roundtrip, and the repeal of some existing airline ticket taxes with "direct user charges," which would be imposed directly on airlines and other aircraft operators.

Critics pan user tax

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) questioned the need to shift from excise taxes to user fees.

The spending plan provides scant additional details on what kind of increases or overall amounts the administration has in mind for either fee proposal. But the budget does note that the current security fee "only captures 36% of the cost of aviation security."

By increasing the security fee, the administration says it can raise enough money to "cover a majority of the estimated costs of passenger and baggage screening."

Kate Hanni, executive director of FlyersRights.org, said, "It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow for airline passengers to have to pay nearly three times more money to be treated as callously as they are by TSA."

The Air Transport Association said it would oppose any security fee increase, as it has done in previous administrations. The ATA said it is the government’s responsibility to fund and operate security procedures.

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives also opposed the security-fee increase.

"The Obama administration is attempting to fund the lion’s share of airport security through a user tax, primarily paid by corporations commissioning business travel or leisure travelers spending limited personal funds for a vacation," said ACTE Executive Director Susan Gurley.

"When terrorists or other criminals target an airliner or an airport, they are not attacking an industry nor a user group, but the nation," said Gurley. "The nation has an obligation to protect itself and this asset. Airport security should be paid for from the general tax fund."

If the government’s looking for a new funding font for security costs, Gurley suggested using the $400 million slated to build and $200 million to furnish the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security headquarters.

It’s a bit more complicated than that, said Vaughn Cordle of AirlineForecasts.

The way the Obama budget is structured — in concert with the administration’s economic stimulus package — the funding gap between the operational needs of the different departments, such as transportation and federal money sources, will widen and deepen as the next decade starts, Cordle said.

At the same time, he said, Obama will be looking for ways to reduce the deficit.

"The airline industry could look like a cash cow with higher taxes and fees," he said. At that point, he added, "Fares will have to go up and the industry will need to shrink even more."

His advice to fill in that financial gap: Downsize the air traffic control workforce, which would be one of the benefits of the system’s modernization.

http://www.travelweekly.com/article3_ektid190648.aspx

120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: March 09, 2009, 08:28:15 AM
It might be possible to turn the Arab world against Iran, in the near future they may be begging Nato to disarm Iran. 


Morocco severs relations with Iran

RABAT, Morocco – Morocco cut off diplomatic relations with Iran on Friday, accusing Tehran in a rare public spat of trying to spread Shia Islam in this Sunni Arab kingdom.

The tensions were compounded by recent Iranian comments toward Sunni-led Bahrain that have raised hackles in the Arab world, Morocco's Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry accused largely Shiite Iran's Embassy in Rabat of trying to "alter the religious fundamentals of the kingdom" and threaten Morocco's religious unity.

The ministry, in a statement, called Iran's actions "intolerable interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom."

Iranian officials could not immediately be reached for comment after Morocco's Friday night announcement.

The Moroccan press has repeatedly accused the Iranian Embassy of proselytism in recent years. The Iranian ambassador denied the charges as recently as last week.

There are officially no Shiite Muslims in this North African kingdom, which is more than 99 percent Sunni, with the remainder of the population Jewish or Christian.

King Mohamed VI is the "commander of the believers" in the country, and the Foreign Ministry's statement equated attacking Moroccan religious unity to challenging the monarch.

Many Arab states have grown frustrated with Iran's hard-line leadership in recent years.

Morocco's move could be "a sign that Arab states are prepared to take a much tougher stand against Iran," Anthony Cordesman, a Middle-East analyst at the Washington-based Center for International and Strategic Studies, said by telephone. Or at least states "not directly threatened by it."

While small Mideast states are trying to soothe their relations with Iran because of the country's traction around the Persian Gulf, Morocco on the Atlantic coast is far from the tensions.

"It's almost as if we're seeing a polarization of the Arab world," Cordesman said.

Moderate states and U.S. allies like Morocco, Egypt or Saudi Arabia are increasingly irked by Iran's hard-line leadership, and worried by the political clout Tehran is gaining through the successes of the Shia or even Sunni groups it backs in Iraq, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Morocco's king entertains strong ties with other Arab sovereigns, including Bahrain's sultan, whose legitimacy was recently questioned by Iran.

Morocco offered its "full support for the unity and territorial integrity of the brotherly Kingdom of Bahrain," according to a Foreign Ministry statement last week. "Morocco is astonished by the odd treatment the kingdom has been subject to by Iranian authorities," the ministry said after a prominent Iranian figure made comments last month perceived as a threat to Bahrain's sovereignty.

The Gulf kingdom of Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni elite, but its Shiite majority has close ties to Iran, which holds longtime claims to the island.

Bahrain's foreign minister was in Iran last week trying to ease the tensions.

Morocco's relations with Tehran were previously cut in the early 1980s, shortly after Shiite clerics took power in the Iranian Revolution and Morocco hosted the exiled shah. Iran retaliated by supporting the Polisario independence movement in the Western Sahara, which Morocco annexed in 1975.

___

Associated Press Writer Hassan Alaoui contributed to this report.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090306/ap_on_re_af/af_morocco_iran_4

121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: March 09, 2009, 08:18:42 AM

Yadlin: 'Iran crossed nuclear tech threshold'

Mar. 8, 2009
Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST
In a chilling indication that Iran's arms program is advancing steadily, Israel acknowledged for the first time that Teheran had mastered the technology to make a nuclear bomb on the same day that the Iranians announced they had successfully tested a new air-to-surface missile.

Iran has "crossed the technological threshold," and its attainment of nuclear military capability is now a matter of "incorporating the goal of producing an atomic bomb into its strategy," OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the cabinet on Sunday.

"Iran is continuing to amass hundreds of kilograms of low-enriched uranium, and it hopes to exploit the dialogue with the West and Washington to advance toward the production of an atomic bomb," he said.

Yadlin said the Islamic republic hoped to use the expected dialogue with the Obama administration to buy time to procure the amount of high-enriched uranium needed to build a bomb.

"Iran's plan for the continuation of its nuclear program while simultaneously holding talks with the new administration in Washington is being received with caution in the Middle East," the intelligence chief said. "The moderates are worried that this approach will come at their expense and will be used by the radical axis to continue to carry out terror activities and rearm. In contrast, those in the radical axis are saying that despite the change in the Americans' stance, they will continue to act against them."

Yadlin's assessment brought him into line with a similar assessment made last week by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said Teheran had enough fissile material to build a bomb now.

But in an indication of just how subjective the question of Iran's progress toward a bomb has become, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates took issue with Mullen, saying the Iranians were not "close to a weapon at this point."

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency also said last week that it had been mistaken in earlier reports and now had evidence that Iran had enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

Yadlin's rather dramatic statement was not made in public, but was part of the security briefing he gave at Sunday's cabinet meeting. One government official said that the point of releasing the information now seemed to be to impress upon the international community the urgency of the matter.

"He wanted to ring the alarm bells, to make it clear that everyone understood that Iran was continuing with its enrichment," the official said.

The official pointed out that Yadlin had used the phrase "mastered the technology" in regards to Iran, not that it had reached a "point of no return."

Israel made a decision a few years ago not to talk anymore about a "point of no return," since that implied that Iran could not be stopped - an impression the Iranians were keen on making, but which Israel did not want to play into, the official said.

Even though the Iranians have apparently mastered the technology for creating a nuclear weapon, it has still not done so and is probably still a couple of years away from that, he said. Consequently, Teheran could still be stopped.

The Iranians were clearly overcoming certain technological issues, and it was a matter of time before they would be able to enrich the uranium needed for a weapon, the official said.

"The idea behind Yadlin's statement was to shake people up, to show that the Iranians were still making progress," the official speculated.

Two weeks ago, Iran's nuclear chief, Vice President Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, announced that 6,000 centrifuges were now operating at the enrichment facility in Natanz. He said Teheran hoped to install more than 50,000 centrifuges there over the next five years.

With the amount of centrifuges it is using in the enrichment process, Iran could add about 100 kg. of uranium to its stockpile each month, or even more, considering that it is setting up additional ready-to-go centrifuges every day.

Even 100 kg. would give it an estimated low-enriched uranium stockpile of just over 1,100 kg. - the minimum experts believe is required to yield the 25 kg. of highly enriched weapons-grade uranium needed to build a bomb. But unless the Iranians have a nuclear facility that is completely hidden from the world's view, the international community would know when Teheran began to create the high-grade uranium needed for a nuclear weapon, because it would have to kick the IAEA inspectors out of the country to do so.

Reuters, meanwhile, quoted Iran's Fars News Agency on Sunday as saying the Islamic republic had test-fired a new air-to-surface missile, in the country's latest display of military power. According to the report, the missile - produced domestically and with a range of 110 km. - was designed for use by military aircraft against naval targets.

"Now these jet fighters have acquired a new capability in confronting threats," Reuters quoted the semi-official news agency as saying.

The missile has a far shorter range than the surface-to-surface Shihab and is believed to be meant to disrupt sea traffic in the strategic Straits of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's oil must travel.
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: March 09, 2009, 07:06:24 AM
OF COURSE IT IS!

But may I suggest that the discussion here should be more about the actual strategies being pursued, their merits, their alternatives, etc.?

For example, the merits vel non of Russia being a supply line for us to Afg, what are the alternatives?  What about the idea of persuading Russia to work with us against Iranian nukes instead of for them?  Should we seek the collapse of Pak?  Should we be in Afpakia? etc etc

I think Russia is going to take advantage of Obama being in office the same way an obnoxious 7 years old tests their baby siitter.  When the Oval office is again occupied by someone with integrity who actually loves the concept of America, Russia will already be accustomed to having the run of the house.  That will result in conflict.
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 08, 2009, 06:37:22 PM
China sees recovery; rich countries sink deeper



ZHOU XIN AND SIMON RABINOVITCH

Reuters

March 6, 2009 at 6:27 AM EST

BEIJING — China served glum markets a dose of optimism on Friday, saying its economy was recovering and promising more swift action to absorb the shock of the global financial crisis and deepening recession in rich nations.

Top Chinese officials said substantial fiscal and monetary stimulus was breathing life back into the world's third-biggest economy hit by crumbling exports, suggesting Beijing saw no need to boost the existing investment plan of nearly $600-billion (U.S.).

“The economic figures are stabilizing and recovering, which demonstrates that the policies have begun to show an impact,” central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan told a news conference during the National People's Congress.

China's optimism was not expected to be shared by the world's largest economy later on Friday, with forecasters expecting grim numbers when the key U.S. February payrolls report is released.
China sees economic recovery
Related Articles



The Globe and Mail

Mr. Zhou said China had learned the lesson from other countries that a sluggish response to the crisis delayed the restoration of confidence.

“We must err on the side of being quick and decisive.”

Mr. Zhou was speaking a day after Premier Wen Jiabao said China would ramp up deficit spending this year to hit its target of 8 per cent growth, even though he failed to announce an increase to the two-year stimulus plan that financial markets had hoped for.

Beijing's quiet confidence stands in contrast with increasingly gloomy predictions for the United States, the euro zone, Japan, Britain and other industrial nations, all mired in the most severe downturns in decades.

A top International Monetary Fund official said the world's developed economies were suffering the deepest slump since World War Two and warned the downturn could last into next year.

“The emerging consensus is that it looks as if the downturn in the advanced economies will run through this year and into next year,” IMF first deputy managing director John Lipsky told the Daily Mail newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Federal Reserve and a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, sought to dispel the gloom, saying the U.S. economy may join China and start recovering before the end of this year.

Mr. Lacker told CNBC television that the plunge in discretionary spending may have run its course and could “give people some confidence that we've almost seen the worst of it”.

But an onslaught of grim economic data and corporate reports was deepening market pessimism about the U.S. biggest economy.

On Thursday, auditors for General Motors, once the world's top carmaker, voiced doubts whether it could survive without declaring bankruptcy, pushing its shares down more than 15 per cent and Wall Street stocks to 12-year lows.

Asian stocks also fell, unsettled by GM's troubles and lingering fears of more turmoil in the financial sector. Tokyo's Nikkei average closed down 3.5 per cent at a four-month low.

“I'm worried about America and the place where we can place our hopes now is China,” said Yoku Ihara, manager at Retela Crea Securities.

Hopes that China may boost its stimulus plan sparked a brief rally in global stocks earlier this week.

But the latest assurances from Beijing and suggestions that they still had plenty of ammunition to support the economy failed to cheer up investors ahead of the U.S. February payrolls report, the key gauge of the U.S. economy's health.

Economists in a Reuters poll forecast that job losses likely jumped to 648,000 last month, driving the unemployment rate to a 25-year high of 7.9 per cent.

The report comes a day after the European Central Bank and the Bank of England slashed interest rates to record lows to arrest a deepening slide in the European economy.

The BoE also pledged £75-billion ($106-billion) of newly created money to buy government bonds and pump funds into the struggling economy, embarking on an scheme known as quantitative easing.

Unprecedented in Britain, it was tried by Japan with limited success at the beginning of the decade.

In Japan, where the central bank has already driven interest rates close to zero, media reported that the authorities were considering tripling to $30-billion a scheme offering low-interest loans and cash injections to firms in trouble.
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 08, 2009, 06:33:01 PM
Lloyds Cedes Control to Government, Insures Assets

March 7 (Bloomberg) -- Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Britain's biggest mortgage lender, will cede control to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government in return for state guarantees covering 260 billion pounds ($367 billion) of risky assets.
The government's stake will rise to as much as 75 percent, making Lloyds the fourth U.K. bank to slip into state control since the run on Northern Rock Plc in September 2007. Brown is using that leverage to force banks to increase lending to homeowners and businesses and spur an economy that is facing its worst recession since World War II.

"In order to get British banks lending again the government needed to take them over," said Simon Willis, an analyst at NCB Stockbrokers Ltd. in London, who has a "sell" rating on Lloyds stock. "It is likely to be at least three of four years before the banks return to the private sector."

Lloyds will pay more for asset protection than Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, the first lender to enter the program, because of the deteriorating quality of loans acquired when it bought HBOS Plc in a government-brokered deal. London-based Lloyds will pay 15.6 billion pounds, or 5.2 percent of the insured assets, in the form of non-voting shares, the bank said in a statement. RBS last month paid 2 percent.

About 83 percent of the assets Lloyds is insuring came from HBOS, the bank said.

The HBOS loan book "is more toxic than anyone ever dreamed," said Alan Beaney, who helps manage $2 billion, including Lloyds stock, at Principal Investment Management in Sevenoaks, England. "As a Lloyds shareholder you are very annoyed because you had a bank that did not need the government very much and now you have inherited a rubbish bank."
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aUuK.B52o350&refer=home





Washington plans for big bank failure

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- The government is bracing for a big bank failure.
A bill introduced in Congress would give the FDIC, the agency that stands behind Americans' bank deposits, temporary authority to borrow as much as $500 billion from the government to shore up the deposit insurance fund.

The bill -- the Depositor Protection Act of 2009, backed by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn. and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho -- wouldn't change the status of individual bank accounts, which through the end of this year are insured up to $250,000.

http://money.cnn.com/2009/03/06/news/dodd.fdic.fortune/index.htm?cnn=yes





125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 27, 2009, 10:28:02 PM
http://kudlowsmoneypolitics.blogspot.com/

An Interview with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
What follows below is the transcript of my interview with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on last night's show. Mr. Harper is a trained economist and quite an impressive statesman. Our northern neighbors are lucky to have him at the helm. We covered a wide range of key topics including the ailing banking system, risks of protectionism, oil sands and autos. As you'll see below, Mr. Harper offered some very wise observations and insight.

LARRY KUDLOW: All right. We are honored to welcome Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the program. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER: It's nice to be here, Larry.

KUDLOW: Let me begin with an interesting subject here, banking. Everybody's talking about banking. The Canadian banks appear to be in much better shape than the American banks. They have fewer toxic assets. Their losses aren't nearly as bad. No one's talking about bankruptcy up there. I want to learn from our northern cousins. What can you tell us? Why are Canadian banks looking better than our banks?

HARPER: Well first of all I can tell you, it is true. We have, I think, the only banks in the western world where we’re not looking at bailouts or anything like that.

KUDLOW: No TARP money sir, if I’m not mistaken? No TARP money?

HARPER: We haven’t got any TARP money. We’ve gone in and done some market transactions with our banks to improve liquidity. But I think the reasons are really complex, Larry. You know, first of all, our banks are private. We don’t have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac equivalent mucking around in the system.

KUDLOW: Is that a lesson right there Prime Minister?

HARPER: Well, I think my observation is those are institutions with a difficult private/public mix. And sometimes private/ public mixes have benefits and sometimes they have the worst of both worlds. We don’t have anything like that. We do have though, a strong system of regulation, and activist regulators, who go and meet with the sector. But they’re macro, prudential kind of regulations. They don’t try and micromanage banks’ decisions. We try and establish good oversight and transparency.

KUDLOW: Do you have leverage and borrowing ratios that might have been enforced? Because that’s clearly one of the breakdowns here in the states?

HARPER: Well, we do have leverage ratios. What’s ironic is that our own banks had not actually achieved those ratios. They were actually working under them. Part of what we…

KUDLOW: They were under leveraged?

HARPER: They were under leveraged.

KUDLOW: Wait, wait. Canadian banks were under leveraged?

HARPER: Under what they could have been.

KUDLOW: I didn’t know there was such a thing on this entire planet earth.

HARPER: Well I think part of what we have done is through the system of regulation we’ve had, we’ve encouraged a fairly cautious culture in the banks. For example, our banks, when they sign mortgages, largely hold those mortgages rather than trading them. So they have a lot more interest in the underlying quality of those mortgages. And we avoided the sub-prime kind of problem.

KUDLOW: Did I hear you at your final news conference with President Obama last week -- you turned down, or your government or the regulators turned down a merger from one of the large Canadian banks. Is “too big to fail” solved in part by not letting them get so big? Is that a model that needs to be more regulated?

HARPER: Well I think the truth is we already have a highly concentrated sector. We have only six major banks that have most of the market. We have only three major insurance firms. And the banks also generally control the major brokerages. So obviously, to go any farther in terms of concentration without opening up the Canadian market itself would be a highly controversial decision.

KUDLOW: I want to ask you another economic question. You’re in a recession, but really, it just began. Your unemployment rate is a little bit less than the United States. Your stock market has been hit bad, as hard as our stock market, so it’s been very poor. However, from a little bit of research, the top federal personal tax rate in Canada, if I have this right, is 29 percent. Ours is 35. Mr. Obama says he’s going to push it up to 40, back pre-Bush. Is that true, 29 percent?

HARPER: Well in fairness it’s 29 percent, but there is a provincial tax put on top of that.

KUDLOW: Well we have that too.

HARPER: I think our combined income tax rate is still higher than yours.

KUDLOW: Really? How high are the provincial?

HARPER: At the highest, they’re about half, my recollection is about half of what the federal would be. On top of that they kick in at a much lower level of income. Ours kick in at about $130,000. Obviously, looking into the future, when we have a bit more fiscal room, that is something we would like to tackle. We’re bringing the corporate rate down. Our corporate tax rates will be the lowest in the G7 in the few years.

KUDLOW: Nineteen percent, is that correct? Nineteen percent?

HARPER: I think it’s down to 18 and a half, or 18.

KUDLOW: Wow. We’re at 35 percent.

HARPER: It’ll be at 15 percent in 2012. So we’ll have the lowest in the G7.

KUDLOW: Looking ahead to try to get through this banking mess, and try to get out of this most difficult recession, given the fact that Canadian banks have had a good performance, and given the fact that your tax rates—what advice would you give the United States from your perch?

HARPER: You know Larry, I’ve been asked that several times today, and unfortunately a lot of my advice would be don’t get into this mess in the first place. These are not easy things to deal with. You know, obviously we’ve got a drop in activity like you’ve got here. That’s why we’ve got a stimulus package. We don’t have a banking mess. We don’t have a mortgage mess. The truth of the matter is the president’s administration is going to look at a lot of polices, I know a lot of polices you don’t like, because a lot of them do have very serious long-run dangers. But the fact of the matter is they’ve got to do some things now that stop the continuing drop in economic activity. And the short term is going to drive a lot of decisions, for better or worse.

KUDLOW: Well if Canada is lowering its tax burdens, wouldn’t that be a reasonable example to your friends in the south?

HARPER: Well let me be clear though. When we lowered our tax burdens—and we did this in our first stimulus package over a year ago—we did that knowing we could lower our tax burdens while keeping our structural budget surplus in the long term. We could afford those tax cuts without going into deficit, immediately or in the long term. We’ve now done a second stimulus that is spending. It is short term. We’ll come out of it and we’ll go back into surplus. But we believe strongly in Canada, there’s a strong consensus, that we should keep our budget in a surplus position structurally in the long term. So we will only cut taxes if we are sure that is affordable.

KUDLOW: All right. And these tax rates, particularly the business tax rates, that’s law?

HARPER: That’s law.

KUDLOW: 19 percent or 18 percent, that’s done?

HARPER: Those are all legislated and they’ll come in.

KUDLOW: All right, let me move on quickly. Energy and climate change. The Canadian oil sands. We’ve had all the major CEOs on this program several times. Canada is our biggest importer, our biggest source. Now, problem. The Obama administration—Carol Browner—his top energy person who was up at the conference you just completed, they are against the Canadian oil sands because of the carbon emissions issue. Some states like California may actually try to stop the importation of energy and oil from the Canadian sands. What can you tell us? How is this going to be resolved?

HARPER: Well first of all, let me be clear about the importation of oil sands oil. Regardless of what any legislature does, the United States will be importing this oil. Because there is absolutely no doubt if you look at the supply and demand pattern into the future, the United States is going to need Canadian oil. It is the one secure, growing, market-based source of energy that the United States has. So there will be no choice but to import oil sands. We…

KUDLOW: Well you say that. But that’s an economic decision. But what about the political, legislative route? Did you talk to President Obama about that? His whole campaign, and as I said, he’s got Carol Browner running this from the White House; he’s got people all over his administration totally hostile to the oil sands because of the carbon problem.

HARPER: Well, and look, we believe there is also, there is a carbon problem there, Larry. And we’re prepared to work to reduce the carbon footprint of the oil sands. But as President Obama himself said, when he talked about the oil sands, he also talked about coal-fired electricity in the United States. Carbon emissions from coal-fired electricity in the United States are 40X the emission of the oil sands. So we’ll take care of, we’ll work on that problem, just as we expect the United States to be working on the problem of coal-fired electricity.

KUDLOW: But you don’t think the flow of your exports of the oil sands will be stopped? You don’t think that flow will be stopped because of the environmental, climate change considerations?

HARPER: I think that policy—any policy like that—is completely unrealistic. If you look at American needs for energy and where Americans can get supply at a reasonable price, it’s completely unrealistic. But it doesn’t mean that we will shirk our environmental responsibilities. We are making significant investments, carbon capture and storage, and other things, that your government is also doing. And we will do what we can to reduce the carbon footprint. But there should be no illusion that economic reality will hit those environmental polices pretty hard when one goes to implement them.

KUDLOW: One can only hope on that point. As I understand it, your latest fiscal package actually lowered import barriers in a number of places which you believe helps Canada and helps the rest of the world. Now the Unites States stimulus package raises import barriers with a “Buy America” provision for iron and steel and other infrastructure materials. Did you talk to President Obama? How’s this going to be resolved? You’re going one way, they’re going another.

HARPER: Look, we certainly raised our concerns. And as you know that provision was modified in the Senate to insure that they would conform with all existing trade obligations. There are trade provisions that allow you to have preferences in government procurement. But we think it’s very important, if we’re going to kickstart this global economy, that administrations around the world avoid turning stimulus packages into protectionism. Because if you try and stimulate a national economy at the expense of the global economy, we’re going to make the whole situation worse around the world. I think–my conversations with the president—I am quite convinced he understands that, he understands how serious it is to avoid a protectionist drift in this present economic climate.

KUDLOW: All right, last one Prime Minister. You have up in Canada if I’m not mistaken about a fifth of the General Motors/UAW workforce. You have given them some money as we have. How much money are you going to be prepared to give? They’re going to come back for much more in the next tranche, I guess at the end of March. How much money will you and the taxpayers of Canada be prepared to give?

HARPER: Well Larry we haven’t decided that. We’re doing due diligence on these guys. They’ve submitted our plans. We’re going to watch what’s being done in the United States. I mean, we’re under no illusion about why we’re doing this. The United States is engaged in a politically-directed restructuring of the industry. We came to the conclusion, whether one is for it or against it, that we have to put our skin in the game…

KUDLOW: And if I may, politically-directed, as opposed to let’s say, bankruptcy directed.

HARPER: Right, right. Absolutely. We came to the conclusion that if we don’t put our 20 percent skin in the game, we’re going to end up with an industry that’s restructured out of Canada entirely. We know it’s going to be a smaller industry in the future. There are some very difficult decisions that are going to have to be made. I hope both of our governments are willing to impose those decisions on all of the participants, on all of the players. Because that’s the only way we’re going to make sure…

KUDLOW: You’re kind of stuck, you’re kind of stuck. If we throw money at them you’re going to have to throw more money at them. Is that what you’re saying?

HARPER: I think if we’re not in the game the industry will be restructured out of Canada. And it’s frankly too important an industry to Canada. It’s probably close to 10 percent of our GDP that depends on that industry. A huge percentage in the province of Ontario, our industrial heartland. But we as governments, both Canadian and American governments, we have to make the industry, all of the players in the industry, make the difficult decisions necessary to make those sustainable companies.

KUDLOW: All right. Prime Minster, thank you very much.

HARPER: Thank you Larry.

KUDLOW: I really appreciate it. You’re terrific to come on.

HARPER: I appreciate it.

KUDLOW: All right, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: February 25, 2009, 07:51:10 PM
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Steyn on Britain and Europe - THE NEXT STAGE

from National Review

The other day I found myself wondering when the conversion rate would become an avalanche. To Islam, I mean. If you’ve been following recent developments in the Netherlands, you’ll know that Geert Wilders, a Dutch Member of Parliament, is to be put on trial for offending Muslims. “Look at what you’re doing,” the sardonic Brit Pat Condell pointed out. “You’re prosecuting a man who is under 24-hour protection from attack by violent Muslims. Yet he’s the criminal for expressing an opinion.”

Quite. But, while Europe has a high degree of tolerance for intolerant imams, it won’t tolerate anyone pointing out that intolerance. It is not necessary for Minheer Wilders to be either jailed or forced into exile to conclude that the Netherlands, like many of its neighbors, has already conceded the key point - that Muslims now have the exclusive right to set the parameters of public debate on Islam. And, given that they don’t regard it as debatable at all, that means that the remorseless Islamization of Europe will continue and accelerate while the deWildered political establishment stands mute.

When I talk like that, I’m assumed to be nuts – or, to use the preferred term, “alarmist” (The Economist et al). Brian Barrington, a Dublin blogger, recently concluded a review of my book by asking:

Is Mark Steyn a scaremongering fool indulging in Islamophobic fantasies..?

Answer: yes he is.

Here’s a 2008 headline from Le Figaro re demographic trends in Brussels:

La capitale européenne sera musulmane dans vingt ans.

For those who haven’t taken up President Obama’s urgings to learn another language, that’s French for “Nothing to see here, folks.”

Now here’s a 2009 headline from The Times :of London

Muslim Population ‘Rising 10 Times Faster Than Rest Of Society’.

A little bit harder for that one to get lost in translation. According to the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics, the greatest number of “Christians” (whatever that means in a contemporary Anglican context) is to be found among the over-70s, and the largest number of Muslims is in the cohort aged four and under. Which is Britain’s past and which Britain’s future? No need to ask a “scaremongering fool”. In a land where the head of state is also Supreme Governor of the established church, a quarter of all public elementary schools in England are what are known as “Church of England schools”. In practice, they cannot teach Christianity because many of them, especially in the inner cities, are now overwhelmingly Muslim. In the Blackburn and Dewsbury C-of-E schools, every single pupil is Muslim. At others, the retreating Christian community can still muster up to one per cent of the enrolment. In Bradford, the Church is building a new school for what will be an entirely Muslim student body. “Demographics change,” says the Venerable Peter Ballard, Archdeacon of Lancaster. “There was certainly a Christian population there at one time and, who knows, 20 years from now the Christians might be back.”

Not in 20 years. According to official statistics, of “white British Christian” households 16 per cent have two or more dependent children; among the UK’s “Pakistani Muslim” households, the figure is 50 per cent; “Bangladeshi Muslims”, 58 per cent. The British Government “sustainable development chair” (whatever that is) Sir Jonathon Porritt has just announced that he thinks parents are being “environmentally irresponsible” if they have more than two children.

That 16 per cent will listen to the sustainable baronet. The 58 per cent will fill the void.

So Britain and Europe are becoming more Muslim. The only question is how much more, how fast. And in that respect I think the only thing I got wrong in America Alone is that I was insufficiently “alarmist”. I’ll bet that “la capitale européenne sera musulmane” a lot sooner than 20 years.

Islam is not a race: As The Times reported, “Experts said that the increase was attributable to immigration, a higher birthrate and conversions to Islam.” That last category is the next stage. Like many readers, I’ve been enjoying Robert Ferrigno’s Prayers For The Assassin trilogy, set in an Islamic Republic of America a decade or three hence, while being just a wee bit skeptical about the premise – that a nuclear catastrophe would prompt millions of Americans to convert to Islam. But in Europe? There’s no need for nukes, just the quiet, remorseless daily reality.

In the next few years, Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rotterdam will become majority Muslim. Let’s say you work in an office in those cities: One day they install a Muslim prayer room, and a few folks head off at the designated time, while the rest of you get on with what passes for work in the EU. A couple of years go by, and it’s now a few more folks scooting off to the prayer room. Then it’s a majority. And the ones who don’t are beginning to feel a bit awkward about being left behind.

What do you do? The future showed up a lot sooner than you thought. If you were a fundamentalist Christian like those wackjob Yanks, signing on to Islam might (pace Mr Ferrigno) cause you some discomfort. But, if you’re the average post-Christian Eurosecularist, what’s the big deal? Who wants to be the last guy sitting in the office sharpening his pencil during morning prayers?

Funny how quickly it all happened. There was the woman on reception, but she retired. And the guy in personnel who used to say, sotto voce, that Geert Wilders had a point. But he emigrated the year after Wilders did.





127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 23, 2009, 08:06:15 PM
Dr Paul to Introduce Legislation to Audit the Federal Reserve
Good news indeed - could the audit lead to an investigation under the ominous RICO laws? The private Federal Reserve cabal holds a monopoly to issue our currency and to secretly (behind closed doors) control our monetary policy - no wonder we're bankrupt!

Any nation that outsources its most important financial power and responsibility to private banks relinquishes its sovereignty; effectively becoming a client state. A blatant conflict of interests exists; they are choosing who is saved first - the people or the banks. They are THE bankers that are being saved and not surprisingly, we're paying the bill.

It's encouraging to finally see someone step forward to try and end the madness.

The Federal Reserve controls the flow of money and credit in our economy because Congress has abdicated its responsibility over the nation's currency. This process therefore occurs centrally, and almost completely outside the system of checks and balances. Because of legal tender laws, people are left with no real choice, except to build their lives and futures around this monopoly currency, vulnerable to powerful central bankers. The Founding Fathers intended only gold and silver to be used as currency, however, inch by inch over the decades, this country has backed away from this important restraint. Our money today has no link whatsoever to gold or silver. For many reasons, this is extremely dangerous, and has a lot to do with the boom and bust cycles that have resulted in the crisis in which we find ourselves today.

The Fed is now pledging to reveal to the public more about its economic predictions, and calls this greater transparency. This is little more than window-dressing, at best, utterly useless at worst. Many analysts, especially those familiar with the Austrian school of economics, saw the current economic crisis coming years ago when the Federal Reserve was still telling the American people their policies were as good as gold. So while it might be nice to know what fantasy-infused outlook the Fed has on the economy, I am much more interested in what they are doing as a result of their faulty, haphazard interpretation of data. For instance, what arrangements do they have with other foreign central banks? What the Fed does on that front could very well affect or undermine foreign policy, or even contribute to starting a war.

We also need to know the source and destination of funds provided through the Fed's emergency funding facilities. Information such as this will provide a more accurate and complete picture of the true cost of these endless bailouts and spending packages, and could very likely affect the decisions being made in Congress. But with so much of the Fed's business cloaked in secrecy, these latest initiatives will not even scratch the surface of the Fed's opaque operations. People are demanding answers and explanations for our economic malaise, and we should settle for nothing less than the whole truth on monetary policy.

The first step is to pass legislation I will soon introduce requiring an audit of the Federal Reserve so we can at least get an accurate picture of what is happening with our money. If this audit reveals what I suspect, and Congress has finally had enough, they can also pass my legislation to abolish the Federal Reserve and put control of the economy's lifeblood, the currency, back where it Constitutionally belongs. If Congress refuses to do these two things, the very least they could do is repeal legal tender laws and allow people to choose a different currency in which to operate. If the Fed refuses to open its books to an audit, and Congress refuses to demand this, the people should not be subject to the whims of this secretive and incompetent organization.

Dr. Ron Paul
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: February 22, 2009, 03:04:08 PM
What are your thoughts on this?  Looks like the U.S is going to have a registration system more restrictive then Canada's.

Text of H.R.45 as Introduced in House
Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009


http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h45/text
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 21, 2009, 09:10:04 PM



The New International Barter System by courtesy of the Russia and China.

http://www.financialsense.com/fsu/editorials/willie/2009/0219.html



Putin: Post-US World Blueprint
by Jim Willie, CB. Editor, Hat Trick Letter | February 19, 2009
Print
PROLOGUE & AFTERMATH

The World Economic Forum took place in Davos Switzerland last week. The global picture enabled a nice snapshot of sentiment, fault for the crisis, blame doled out, the vacuum of leadership, the perks for blunderers in a country club setting (instead of prison), and warnings on a potential situation that could spiral out of control. Amidst all the finger pointing, surprisingly little blame was given to themselves, the corporate chieftains in attendance. Let’s be clear! The Davos Forum was a funeral wake, and Putin rode in on a white horse to announce there is a new sheriff in town!! Davos afforded a unique opportunity for Russian self-styled leader Vladimir Putin to storm the forum stage and to steal the show. Putin presented a basic Blueprint for what should be called ‘The Post-US World’ as the United States and United Kingdom have lost the mantle of leadership and control. They lost it from failed economic policy, wrecked banking systems, fraud-ridden bond markets, corrupted debt ratings agencies, abuse of IMF & World Bank, and the severe backfire of economies that depended upon housing bubbles. Inflation turned on its haughty financial engineers! Nations with insolvent banks, insolvent households, corporations in liquidation, economies in near collapse, they tend not to be good owners and custodians of the global reserve currency!!!

Davos provided a flashpoint for a profound change in global leadership. The whimpering US-UK-EU bankers have been shamed. Then after the finger pointing, insults, hand wringing, and gut wrenching, Putin rode in on a white horse carrying a banner. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao provided the confirmation to what Putin laid out, like a second of a formal motion. Wen Jiabao proceeded from the Davos stage to four European capitals to seal the new path and its legitimacy. The barter system has been launched in quiet, while the Western press continues not to comprehend a ruptured status quo limping along. It cannot; it will not; the transition is on. Not only will the USDollar not provide the global highway for all to travel, but new barter systems will be dominant soon in working around the commodity price systems dominated by the US-UK corrupt price discovery systems. The other painful consequence to the new system soon taking root is that the global commodity supply routes will bypass the US destinations, enough to create mammoth shortages. Such is the fate of a nation thrust to the Third World. Its people and its leaders still do not realize it, as denial is ensconced in hope. The US credit supply has already been severed and cut almost completely off. Reliance upon the printing press to finance its own debts is a primary trait of a Third World nation, a shocking fact soon to be recognized.

Since the autumn, the regular macro-economic reports and gold & currency reports have been accompanied by frequent reports on the crisis for unique coverage. The Crisis Update this month also covers Obama’s Opening Opus, not at all a promising start. He has surrounded himself with yet more Elite insiders who are in part responsible for the current failure and who are likely to continue the welfare raids for the Elite. The Crisis Update also covers many aspects of the Martial Law Threat. Those who think ‘Never in America’ need to catch up with what is happening, preparations being made, anecdotes from the field, hints of revolt from the states, and the dire straights that states find themselves, like in California. The martial law threat comes from economic disintegration more than anything else.
HOSPICE FOR US$, LAUNCH FOR GOLD

The USDollar is essentially dead, the Davos Forum its funeral wake. It is enjoying a physical erection in the medical morgue, a rise in a death dance ceremony. US leaders refuse to accept the reality. They desperately need its continuation for assistance in funding the USGovt monstrous deficits. Western leaders struggle to admit the reality. Russian leaders, Chinese leaders, and Arab leaders (more quietly) openly admit the reality. Read the billboards, as the Davos Forum offered an entire row of them to observe. THE BEST STRESS METER IS NOW GOLD. Notice how gold rose all through the Davos Forum gathering. Nothing was solved. The Putin Blueprint for the ‘Post-US World’ shook up the currency markets, as gold reacted. The gold price is breaking out in all major currencies, except in USDollar terms. It just hit a new euro high.

A cherished contact with deep global experience had some very strong words about Davos and the Putin Blueprint. He made additional comments about the Wen trip across major European capitals. In an important message, he said, “Read in between the lines of Putin’s speech and you find all the hints you want. The Chinese and Russians are burying the US alive. The Japanese, Germans, and Gulf States keep a very low profile for the moment. The decisions have been made: wait for 2010. They will use the unfolding chaos to introduce the new currency basket and trade rules… There is a brand new system being designed that will borrow from the past and apply 21st century tools for barter / counter trade / excess capacity etc. An Exchange Platform will cut out the banks altogether… [Chinese Premier] Wen delivered his speech in Davos and went straight to Berlin where they put the final touch on the new world currency basket, sponsored by Berlin-Moscow-Beijing-Tokyo-Riyadh. Moscow and Berlin already have a massive counter trade / barter trade agreement in place, and Beijing was eager to joint that platform as well.” The new global currencies are planned for launch in January 2010. They will be launched amidst growing chaos. Events up to that time will be tumultuous.

The gold price has completed an important U-shaped reversal. Its low of 710 and top at 980 indicate a target of 1250 next. Notice the crossovers of the crucial moving average series. Both the 50-day MA and 100-day MA have run above the 200-day MA, very bullish. Technical chart traders use them to direct traffic flow. The cyclicals are aligned with strength. The fundamentals could not be better for gold than at any time in a few decades. All major governments are ruining their currencies in a desperate attempt to avoid economic collapse after bank system insolvency has rendered their nations hostage to dangerous accommodative monetary policies. All major currencies are now at risk simultaneously. The gold price breakout over 1000 again could come when the Dow Jones Industrial Index and the S&P500 index each breach critical support. They have been dancing at that support for days. The USEconomic field has become a swamp, and it is sinking. It should sink the US stock market.

The USDollar should not be the true focus of attention. Paradoxically, as it dies a horrible death, its reserve currency status ensures it might be last to crumble. All other currencies are at risk, except perhaps the Japanese yen. The focus of attention should be directed to gold & silver. The pundits, anchors, and supposed experts believe that the rise in the gold price means that price inflation is an imminent but hidden threat. THEY ARE SO WRONG. The threat is of a collapsed global financial foundation, complete with rising chaos from no current viable alternative, as the Untied States finds itself tossed into a dungeon. The process is slow, but the pace is accelerating. The signpost in the dungeon is marked ‘Third World’ with full shame. The charges will go without trial, as the marketplace is brutal. But bank ruin, institutional corruption, exported bond fraud, permission of counterfeit rings, protection of crime syndicates, and abused global reserve currency custodial responsibility lie at the core. Most scrutiny of charges will be conducted much later, when too late, in an examination of the wreckage.
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 21, 2009, 09:01:59 PM
Swiss party wants to punish U.S. for UBS probe
Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:53am EST
Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssFinancialServicesAndRealEstateNews/idUSTHO15017420090221




ZURICH, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) called on Saturday for retaliation against the United States over a U.S. tax probe into the country's biggest bank UBS that threatens prized banking secrecy.

The populist SVP, the country's biggest party, said Switzerland should not take in any detainees from the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which the Swiss government said last month it could consider to help shut the camp down.

Switzerland should also reconsider its policy of representing the United States in countries where it has no diplomatic presence, the parliamentary SVP said in a statement.

The SVP said gold stored by the Swiss National Bank in the United States should be repatriated and Switzerland should ban the sale of U.S. funds in the country to protect Swiss investors after the failure of U.S. regulators.

The SVP has one minister in the seven-member Swiss government which is made up of the biggest four parties, but its populist policies have shaken up usually consensual Swiss politics.

The comments came after UBS agreed on Wednesday to pay a fine of $780 million and to disclose about 250 names of U.S. clients it said had committed tax fraud to settle U.S. criminal charges that it had helped rich Americans dodge taxes.

U.S. tax authorities said on Thursday they were still pursuing a civil case against UBS seeking access to thousands more names of U.S. citizens it says are hiding about $14.8 billion in assets in secret Swiss bank accounts. [ID:nN19534438]

The SVP also said it would call for an urgent debate in parliament on ways to protect Swiss banking secrecy from "further foreign blackmail". (Reporting by Emma Thomasson)
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 21, 2009, 02:30:46 PM
Up until a couple weeks ago i thought things would begin to pick up.  Im starting to have my doubts. Up until last week aerospace/defense manufacturing was still humming along.

IATA chief sees huge drop in plane deliveries for 2009
Both Boeing and rival Airbus could deliver fewer than half the planes they are scheduled to produce this year as a global credit crunch makes it impossible for customers to secure billions of dollars in needed financing. Giovanni Bisignani, CEO of the International Air Transport Association, made the grim assessment on Thursday, saying it was based on his private conversations with airline CEOs. As if to confirm Bisignani's outlook, Airbus announced Thursday it would trim production of its narrow-body A320 by two planes per month, beginning in October. FlightGlobal.com/Air Transport Intelligence (2/20) , The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) (2/20)


I used to make fun of a friend for reading this guys blog, i almost ran out of tinfoil pictures.


http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/daily-digest-feb-21/13675

Daily Digest - Feb 21Saturday, February 21, 2009, 9:57 am, by Davos
  • Volcker "Mother of all Financial Crisis"
  • Crisis of "Credit"
    • Breaking a Barrier to Lending (Proposed Solution to Shadow Banking)
    • Soros, No Bottom, More Severe Than During the Great Depression
      • Economic collapse severity intensifying
      • Get Ready for Mass Retail Closings
        • Gone in 60 Days: Citi and Bank of America Won't Live to See May
        • Trade Surplus
          • Hypo Real Estate: 600 billion in off-balance sheet assets
          • Economic Trends in U.S. Health Care
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 21, 2009, 02:16:32 PM
cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/21/clinton.china.asia/index.html


"Human rights cannot interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises," Clinton said in talks with China's foreign minister.

It would seem,  Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness no longer applies.
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 20, 2009, 08:56:26 AM
For the love of all that is good and holy.......... please keep your trash in your side of the border.  Why the heck did obama meet with the opposition party while on his visit to Canada?  Its like he was trying to make our Conservative PM look like a clown.  I kinda like having a PM that loves freedom, he is in the final stages of dismantling our gun registry.  The last thing we need now is obama encouraging the liberal socialists to topple our sitting govt.


http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNew...hub=TopStories

Liberal Leader Ignatieff gets 30 minutes with Obama
Updated Thu. Feb. 19 2009 7:39 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff got the 30 minutes he wanted with President Barack Obama Thursday.

Ignatieff said that "serious business" was accomplished in his meeting with Obama, and they spoke about hot topic issues such as Afghanistan and U.S. trade protectionism.

It is protocol for foreign dignitaries to meet with the Official Opposition when they visit Canada.

Ignatieff told CTV News that Obama expressed his concern about Afghanistan, and thought the mission was "drifting."

The Liberal leader hinted that his party may not insist that Canada honour its pledge to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 2011.

He said a 2011 withdrawal is his party's "current" position but said if Obama convinced Prime Minister Stephen Harper to stay longer, he would cross that bridge when it happens.

Obama said he did not press Harper to extend the Afghan mission.

However, Ignatieff said he thought the most interesting part of his conversation with Obama was regarding the president's attempts to work with Republicans in Washington.

"I said to him that one of the things that inspires me about him is that he's trying to get above partisanship and reach across the aisle," Ignatieff said.

Bob Rae, Liberal MP for Toronto-Centre and one of Canada's most well-known politicians, seemed as excited about Obama's visit as ordinary Canadians were.

Rae, who attended the meeting, said he was "struck by how down to earth" Obama was and said that president made eye-contact with everyone.

"I think it's fair to say that we were charmed by Obama. It's hard not to be," Rae said.

Ignatieff seemed equally smitten by the charismatic American, calling Obama a "political genius."

The Liberal leader, who graduated from Harvard and later taught there, noted that Harvard-alum Obama and he had mutual friends.

"He was even kind enough to say he read a few of my books," Ignatieff, a prolific author, said.




after reading this, two words come to mind.......... "circle jerk"
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 17, 2009, 10:07:53 AM
A detailed list of the "stimulus" hahahahaha.  Good luck.
http://www.propublica.org/special/the-stimulus-plan-a-detailed-list-of-spending
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 15, 2009, 09:12:45 AM
Fox News is reporting that the UN is now lobbying the US for a portion of the stimulus money.  Anyone wanna bet that Obama had a provision added to the stimulus that gives the UN some cash?Huh
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 08, 2009, 04:48:17 PM
stimulus break down...... The US is screwed and with it the rest of the western world.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_dZJ6SFB1ecE/SY8OJA4kmOI/AAAAAAAAAsA/aDRzmZJNvc0/s1600-h/wash.png
137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 07, 2009, 06:28:26 PM
This is an Excerpt from the book "The Fourth turning"
 
   
  America feels like it’s unraveling.

Though we live in an era of relative peace and comfort, we have settled into a mood of pessimism about the long-term future, fearful that our superpower nation is somehow rotting from within.

Neither an epic victory over Communism nor an extended upswing of the business cycle can buoy our public spirit.  The Cold War and New Deal struggles are plainly over, but we are of no mind to bask in their successes.  The America of today feels worse, in its fundamentals, than the one many of us remember from youth, a society presided over by those of supposedly lesser consciousness.  Wherever we look, from L.A. to D.C., from Oklahoma City to Sun City, we see paths to a foreboding future.  We yearn for civic character but satisfy ourselves with symbolic gestures and celebrity circuses.  We perceive no greatness in our leaders, a new meanness in ourselves.  Small wonder that each new election brings a new jolt, its aftermath a new disappointment.
 


Gray Champions
 
   
 
 Back to
Excerpts
 
  One afternoon in April 1689, as the American colonies boiled with rumors that King James II was about to strip them of their liberties, the King’s hand-picked governor of New England, Sir Edmund Andros, marched his troops menacingly through Boston.  His purpose was to crush any thought of colonial self-rule.  To everyone present, the future looked grim.

Just at that moment, seemingly from nowhere, there appeared on the streets “the figure of an ancient man” with “the eye, the face, the attitude of command.”  His manner “combining the leader and the saint,” the old man planted himself directly in the path of the approaching British soldiers and demanded that they stop.  “The solemn, yet warlike peal of that voice, fit either to rule a host in the battlefield or be raised to God in prayer, were irresistible.  At the old man’s word and outstretched arm, the roll of the drum was hushed at once, and the advancing line stood still.”  Inspired by this single act of defiance, the people of Boston roused their courage and acted.  Within the day, Andros was deposed and jailed, the liberty of Boston saved, and the corner turned on the colonial Glorious Revolution.

“Who was this Gray Champion?” Nathaniel Hawthorne asked near the end of this story in his Twice-Told Tales.  No one knew, except that he had once been among the fire-hearted young Puritans who had first settled New England more than a half century earlier.  Later that evening, just before the old priest-warrior disappeared, the townspeople saw him embracing the 85-year-old Simon Bradstreet, a kindred spirit and one of the few original Puritans still alive.  Would the Gray Champion ever return?  “I have heard,” added Hawthorne, “that whenever the descendants of the Puritans are to show the spirit of their sires, the old man appears again.”
 






The Eternal Return

On the earthen floors of their rounded hogans, Navajo artists sift colored sand to depict the four seasons of life and time.  Their ancestors have been doing this for centuries.  They draw these sand circles in a counter-clockwise progression, one quadrant at a time, with decorative icons for the challenges of each age and season.  When they near the end of the fourth season, they stop the circle, leaving a small gap just to the right of its top.  This signifies the moment of death and rebirth, what the Hellenics called ekpyrosis.  By Navajo custom, this moment can be provided (and the circle closed) only by God, never by mortal man.  All the artist can do is rub out the painting, in reverse seasonal order, after which a new circle can be begun.  Thus, in the Navajo tradition, does seasonal time stage its eternal return.

Like most traditional peoples, the Navaho accept not just the circularity of life, but also its perpetuity.  Each generation knows its ancestors have drawn similar circles in the sand—and each expects its heirs to keep drawing them.  The Navaho ritually reenact the past while anticipating the future.  Thus do they transcend time.

Modern societies too often reject circles for straight lines between starts and finishes.  Believers in linear progress, we feel the need to keep moving forward.  The more we endeavor to defeat nature, the more profoundly we land at the mercy of its deeper rhythms.  Unlike the Navajo, we cannot withstand the temptation to try closing the circle ourselves and in the manner of our own liking.  Yet we cannot avoid history’s last quadrant.  We cannot avoid the Fourth Turning, nor its ekpyrosis.  Whether we welcome him or not, the Gray Champion will command our duty and sacrifice at a moment of Crisis.  Whether we prepare wisely or not, we will complete the Millennial Saeculum.  The epoch that began with V.J.-Day will reach a natural climax—and come to an end.
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: February 07, 2009, 01:31:27 PM
Canada's Conservative PM is about to take another shot at killing off atleast part of our gun registry.  A couple years ago he killed off all user fees for us and refunded any money a gun owner had spent due to the registry system.
I got a check back for just under $500, which i used to buy a new gun.  I think Canada has the only federal govt right now taking steps towards improving the rights of gun owners.  If the registry is killed off, even for a week there will be alot of "canoe accidents" up here.............


Harper says gun registry debate near
Posted By THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Miramichi region of New Brunswick will not lose a single federal job if and when the government does away with the long gun registry, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.

Harper told reporters during a whirlwind visit to Miramichi that local gun registry jobs are safe, despite his goal of eliminating the program.

More than 200 people work at the Miramichi firearms registry where the main processing centre is located.

Harper said a debate on the registry will happen in the near future, but jobs will not be lost.

"The Conservative party for a long time now has been committed to the abolition of the long gun registry, we are very clear about that," Harper said while visiting a hockey rink.

"At the same time, you can be absolutely clear that we understand the economic challenges of this region, and there will be no loss of federal employment in the Miramichi area as a cost of (cutting the program)."

Introduced by the Liberals a decade ago, the long gun registry was supposed to cost $2 million a year but has ended up costing more than $1 billion so far.

The Conservatives introduced a bill in 2006 to abolish the registry, but it had no support from the other parties. Unable to do away with the registry altogether, the government instead announced a series of fee waivers and amnesties to take away the program's punch.

Rifle and shotgun owners who are legally licensed to own guns do not have to comply with registration requirements until May.

"The firearms centre here (in Miramichi) does more than just the long gun registry," Harper said. "There are other aspects of gun control that this government has every aspect of maintaining."
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 06, 2009, 07:00:14 PM
Quote
If "giving" everyone a government job is so great, then why not "give" everyone a free house and a million dollars as well?

Funny, I've actually considered that before. I certainly wouldn't complain... wink

And I love the past tense of HUSS post. Two weeks in and the administration is already part of the past, due to a bill that hasn't been passed.

Growing govt is an answer looking for a question.  Any one willing to accept a free house and million dollars they didn't work for is a free loader, its that attitude that caused the housing bubble, credit bubble and every other bubble.  People do not want to work hard, they want hand outs.  I made fun of my friends who parroted "my home is my investment, its the new world we can spend out way into prosperity".  Now when i mock them I'm the only one laughing.
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 06, 2009, 06:50:29 PM
Quote
Downright scary with a POTUS who shows scant understanding of things military

Speaking of lacking eloquence...where was Bush's deep military knowledge?

Bush didn't surround himself with retards and pacifists....ie Obama's pick to head up the CIA, the guy is a mindless puppet.
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 06, 2009, 06:23:14 PM
CCP,

They seem hopefull that Netenyahu will reverse the damage done to Israels integrity via the peace process.  One of them made the comment that Obama can choke on it.
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 06, 2009, 04:52:26 PM
My comopany does alot of business in Israel.  In talking to several contacts today i said "you guys must be happy to have Rahm in the white house".  Never in my life have i ever heard the F-Bomb dropped so many times, nor have i heard a man compared to poop in so many ways,  the camp david accords came up several times, im under the impression that they felt it was a bad deal for Israel......... i dont think they like him.  Our partner who runs our Israeli office told me after that he knows Rahm personally and has a national reputation of being a weasle who will sell Israel down the river for the right price.
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 06, 2009, 04:44:29 PM
It's dark, gusty and rainy here at the beach, but I haven't lost my optimism. I'd recommend reading Jonah Goldberg's recent column about how Obama's overreach has been a fortunate mistake for those of us who believe in free markets and limited government. Some excerpts (and note the weather analogy at the end):

The stimulus bill was a bridge too far, an overplayed hand, ten pounds of manure in a five-pound bag. The legislation’s primary duty was never to stimulate the economy, but to stimulate the growth of government, the scope of the state.

By spending hundreds of billions on things that have absolutely nothing to do with providing an immediate stimulus for the economy, Democrats hoped to make a down payment on their dream government. The billions for student aid, expanded welfare and health-care benefits, and bailouts for profligate state governments; the hundreds of millions for better museums and prettier government buildings; and the millions for smoking-cessation programs and bee insurance aren’t just items on crapulent Democrats’ wish list. The budget bloating was deliberate.

The economic crisis was almost too good to be true. Like FDR and Lyndon Johnson, Obama was poised to act on Rahm’s Rule of Crisis Exploitation in a way that would not only guarantee a newer New Deal and an even greater Great Society, but would also receive bipartisan approval. That’s why Obama wanted so much GOP support—so as to ratify the left turn to European-style social democracy, particularly when voters cottoned on to the con.

Obama and his party were undone by their hubris. There was just too much muchness in the bill.

There is still probably bipartisan support for a stimulus bill, but only for a measure intended to stimulate our market-based economy rather than one that hastens its Swedenization.

Obama’s presidency has many victories ahead of it, and Democrats still run the show. But the perfect storm of liberalism has dissipated to mere scattered showers.

http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 05, 2009, 05:45:39 PM
Is the Honeymoon Over?
Share Post   PrintFebruary 5, 2009 Posted by John at 3:28 PM

Or is it just a lovers' quarrel? It's too early to tell, but things are already getting testy at Robert Gibbs' press conferences. Today one of the White House reporters [UPDATE: Jake Tapper, I believe; who, to be fair, has never been an Obama groupie] asked Gibbs about the waivers that the Office of Management and Budget gives to some cabinet and other appointees to release them from ethics constraints to which President Obama claims to be committed:

QUESTION: Robert, two questions. One's a housekeeping one. In the name of the transparency that you and the president herald so much, is there any way we could get the copies of the waivers that the OMB issues to allow certain cabinet posts or deputy posts...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: I'll check.

QUESTION: ... free of the ethics constraints that you put up? And, also, the disclosure forms that your nominees put out that go to the Office of Government Ethics, that somehow they're not able to e- mail or, you know, put on the Web, is there any way we can get copies of those?

GIBBS: Yes, I will check. I don't -- I don't know how those forms are distributed.

QUESTION: Just based on listening to the president's rhetoric, I'm sure it's something he'd want to do.

GIBBS: Well...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) question is...

GIBBS: Knowing of your crystal clarity on his opinion, I'll certainly check.

QUESTION: He doesn't believe in transparency?

GIBBS: Did you have another more pertinent question?

QUESTION: I think that's pretty -- I think it's fairly pertinent, your cabinet nominees and whether or not they pay their taxes and whether or not they have speaking fees with all sorts of industries they're suppose to regulate. I think that's fairly pertinent. You don't?

GIBBS: Obviously I do. And obviously the -- the president does.
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 05, 2009, 05:43:42 PM
Huss:

Sorry to be anal again, but wouldn't that post about China be better in the China thread?   cheesy



on its own, of course.  But with in the context of the other articles it leads me to beleive that there are those out there that are attempting to tie all these events together into a super crisis in an effort to push a whole new system on us all.
146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 05, 2009, 05:09:12 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOyyRhJRsy8

The British government faces an excruciating choice. It cannot let Royal Bank of Scotland and its fellow mega-banks go to the wall. Yet it risks being swamped by the massive foreign debts of these lenders if it takes on their dollar, euro and yen exposure by opting for full nationalisation. Britain has foreign reserves of under $61bn dollars (£43.7bn), less than Malaysia or Thailand. The foreign liabilities of the UK banks are $4.4 trillion – or twice annual GDP – according to the Bank of England. The mismatch is perilous.It is why sterling has crashed 10 cents from $1.49 to $1.39 against the dollar in two days. The markets have given their verdict on Gordon Brown’s latest effort to “save the world”.If Britain walked away from UK banks’ $4.4 trillion of foreign liabilities – worth eight times Lehman Brothers – it would destroy the credibility of the City and take the whole world into deeper depression.

“The UK cannot go down that route because it would set off an asset price death spiral,” said Marc Ostwald, a bond expert at Monument Securities. “The Western banking system is already on life support. That would turn it off altogether.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/article5559773.ece

Jim Rogers: 'Sell any sterling you might have. It's finished'

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/jim-rogers-sell-any-sterling-you-might-have-its-finished-1452384.html

They don’t know what they’re doing, do they? I am of the opinion they know exactly what they are doing! With every step taken by the Government as it tries frantically to prop up the British banking system, this central truth becomes ever more obvious.Yesterday marked a new low for all involved, even by the standards of this crisis.

Britons woke to news of the enormity of the fresh horrors in store. Despite all the sophistry and outdated boom-era terminology from experts, I think a far greater number of people than is imagined grasp at root what is happening here. If this is the way to implement a new world order, then it will be born from this economic catastrophe.
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 05, 2009, 03:53:56 PM



http://www.startribune.com/nation/39123382.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUUsZ

China declares emergency in areas where drought threatens crops; 4 million lack drinking water

Associated Press

Last update: February 5, 2009 - 4:13 AM


BEIJING - China declared an emergency Thursday in eight provinces suffering a serious drought that has left nearly 4 million people without proper drinking water and is threatening millions of acres of crops.

The Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief posted a notice on its Web site declaring the situation a level-two emergency on the country's four-level scale. It called it a drought "rarely seen in history."

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao had ordered all-out efforts to fight the drought at a Cabinet meeting Thursday. It said the government had allocated 400 million yuan ($58.5 million) for relief work.

China suffers from an uneven distribution of its water resources. Weather patterns in the arid north and flood-prone south cost the government tens of millions of dollars in lost productivity each year.

The latest drought began in November and has affected 24 million acres (9.73 million hectares) of crops, one-third of them seriously, Xinhua said. Most of the hardest-hit provinces were in northern China, with several in the east.

In recent days, news broadcasts have shown dry, cracked farm fields and crops withering in the ground.

Almost half of the wheat-growing areas in the eight provinces — Hebei, Shanxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong, Shaanxi and Gansu — were threatened, Xinhua said, while nearly 4 million people lacked proper drinking water.

The official China Daily newspaper, citing meteorological authorities in Henan, said it was the worst drought in Henan since 1951 and that the province, a major supplier of winter wheat, had gone 105 consecutive days without rain.

But some relief may be in sight. Weather forecasts call for rain and snow in some of the stricken areas beginning Saturday.
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 05, 2009, 03:50:23 PM
There seems to be a massive push for global unity and the redistribution of wealth.



Fisheries Collapse Imperils Developing Nations’ Food, Jobs

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=az0dHysHjvPs&refer=latin_america

By Jeremy van Loon and Alex Emery

Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- The risk of fisheries collapsing in Peru, the world’s largest fishmeal producer, and developing nations such as Senegal that depend on fish for both food and jobs means economic hardship as climate change threatens fishing grounds.

About 33 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia are “highly vulnerable” to rising ocean temperatures, changes in river flows and less precipitation, said Allison Perry of the World Fish Center, who co-wrote a study that looked at the economic risks to fisheries in countries affected by changing weather.

The world’s poorest countries are less able to adapt to these changes because they lack the financial resources to replace a food source and an industry that contributes more to economic activity than in wealthier nations. “Many of these countries are simply not in a position to adapt and implement measures,” Perry said.

Peru exports mainly to China, Spain and the U.S. The South American nation boosted fishing exports last year by 23 percent to a record $2.4 billion, including $1.4 billion in fishmeal. While anchovy is its main export, Peru has been working to diversify into frozen, fresh and canned fish exports, including squid and shrimp.

Fishing is Peru’s fourth-biggest export earner after mining, oil and gas with about 145,000 people out of a population of 28 million making a living off the industry, government data shows.

Senegal, a country with a per capita gross domestic product of about $1,000, relies on its fishery for a fifth of its exports. At the same time, fish provides 43 percent of the animal protein for the average Senegalese, Perry said in an interview.

The bleaching of coral reefs, home to many species of tropical fish, rising temperatures in lakes and less precipitation are harming both freshwater and marine fisheries worldwide, she said.

Atlantic Sturgeon’s Extinction

Fisheries are already suffering from over-exploitation of fish stocks with the extinction of the Atlantic sturgeon in the U.S.’s Chesapeake Bay. While the impact of climate change on fisheries will be more severe in higher latitudes, it is poorer countries closer to the equator that are less prepared to cope, Perry said.

More than half of the world’s fisheries are exploited beyond their harvest capacity, threatening to reduce fish stocks to dangerous levels, the UN’s Environment Program said. About 2.6 billion people’s main source of protein comes from fish, UNEP said.

Global warming and climate change put additional stresses on fishing grounds and may destroy commercial fisheries in the coming years as ocean currents are disrupted and seas become more acidic, UNEP reported last year. Oceans are absorbing rising levels of carbon dioxide, raising their acidity levels, while global warming increases surface temperatures. Both harm fish populations.
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 05, 2009, 03:46:35 PM
Go through and read the comments, its sad how many people are willing to give up their freedom to a larger govt in exchange for the perception of safety.


Is Britain running out of food? Is GM the only answer to reports of future food shortages in Britain, or would some sensible belt-tightening fix the problem?
Comments (14) 
GM crops: a controversial answer to food shortages. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

An end to cheap food and the likelihood of food crises hitting Britain unless we reform the agricultural sector, is the print media's take on the long-awaited report on food security from think-tank Chatham House, published yesterday.

But - predictably - it isn't as simple as that. The shock headline that Britain now imports 51% of its food doesn't actually say much about our self-sufficiency, or our ability to deal with a severe food crisis (and indeed, the report's authors say they have not predicted any such fate for Britain). We buy in food, but we export a lot too. Scotland turns 60% of its wheat into whisky - but that's not a bad thing for the food economy or for human happiness.

When it comes to meeting our food needs (see DEFRA's statistics) we are in fact a much healthier 60% self-sufficient, and if you look at foodstuffs which it is possible to produce in Britain that figure rises to 73%. These figures are higher now than in almost any decade in the 20th century.

There's no doubt that globally prices will continue to rise, and that food shortages are one of the grave, interlinked challenges that face us this century, but it really isn't as dire in Britain as it is in, say, parts of Africa. Is this report proof that we have to rush and embrace GM, as the Observer's science editor Robin McKie suggests?

Our food economy looks far less healthy than it could because of our demands for exotica (salad all year round, cheap fruit from the tropics, protein from the other side of the planet) and our fabulous capacity for waste. 30% of our food is thrown away according to the government's WRAP project - largely by supermarkets and food processors, but also by individuals, as Tony Naylor's piece for this blog today demonstrates. Sort these out and in this country we would be more capable of feeding ourselves.

And there may lie the most interesting potential solution: one of the Chatham House report's most striking statistics concerns the dire state of our agricultural economy, with 63% of our farms unable to make "good" profit margins. Who's to blame? The reports doesn't directly finger the big retailers, but it does point out the undesirability of having 4 companies control 75% of food retail and continually strive to drive down farm-gate prices.

This chimes with a piece in this month's Prospect magazine, where the right-wing thinker Phillip Blond's prescription for a radical "red Tory" manifesto includes breaking up Tesco for the good of consumers, producers, high streets and jobs.

So - is a Britain self-sufficient in food possible, or even desirable? Could you cut out Chilean asparagus and New Zealand lamb? How about bananas? A lot of poorer countries need to sell fresh food to us. Would you be prepared to pay more for your food if it guaranteed getting British farming back on its feet? And is GM really the answer?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2009/feb/03/chatham-house-britain-food-shortage
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 05, 2009, 03:37:26 PM
http://www.cnbc.com/id/29032370
 
"This recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse," Obama wrote in the op-ed titled, "The Action Americans Need."   
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