10/29/14

Permalink For 23rd time, U.N. nations urge end to U.S. embargo on Cuba

The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly for the 23rd time to condemn the decades-long U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, with many nations praising the island state for its response in fighting the deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa. In the 193-nation assembly, 188 countries voted for the nonbinding resolution, titled "Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba." As in previous years, the only countries that voted against the declaration were the United States and an ally, Israel. The Pacific island nations Palau, Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained. The voting result was identical to last year's.


Permalink Who and What Is Causing the Decline in Oil Prices, and Where Will It Lead?

RIA Novosti With oil hovering around the $80-85 per barrel mark, down nearly 30 percent from a high of over $115 in mid-June, media and expert analysis about the causes and consequences of the price decline has been extensive. We present another, Russia-informed perspective. [...] There are high hopes among Russian experts and by many in Russian society that unstable energy prices, combined with Western sanctions, may drive a revival of the country as a major industrial, agricultural and technological power. Some industries have already seen growth in recent months as a result of the government’s push for import substitution, while the president noted the need for a “true industrial breakthrough” in the coming years, which would reduce the country’s natural resource dependency.


Permalink CrossTalk: Ukraine's Free Fall

What was supposed to happen in Ukraine? Why has the Western media stopped talking about the blunders of the Ukrainian regime? Is Ukraine a failed state beyond repair? How long will Petro Poroshenko last as president of Ukraine? CrossTalking with Eric Kraus, Charles Bausman, and Alexander Mercouris.

Aljazeera America: Poroshenko claims victory in Ukraine presidential election


Permalink Half of Russians Want McDonalds Banned From Country: Poll

Almost half of the population in Russia have approved an idea to close all the McDonald's fast food restaurants in Russia, according to a poll conducted by VTSIOM, the leading and highly reliable Russian polling group. which released the results of the poll on Monday. The idea to close all the McDonald’s catering establishments has been more welcomed by the respondents who have never been to these restaurants, rather than regular visitors (53% against 44%, respectively). The main reason behind the suggested closure is that the food served at McDonald's is not tasty and is of poor nutrition value, said 41% of the respondents interviewed. 20% of the respondents said that the state should, above all, support Russia's own catering establishments. Nonetheless, almost every third out of ten respondents said that they are against shutting down the McDonald's restaurants.


10/28/14

Permalink Is the oil crash a secret US war on Russia?

Lower oil prices, reflected in falling petrol prices at the pump, have been a boon for Western consumers. Are they also a potent US weapon against Russia and Iran? That's the conclusion drawn by New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman, who says the US and Saudi Arabia, whether by accident or design, could be pumping Russia and Iran to brink of economic collapse. Despite turmoil in many of the world's oil-producing countries - Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria - prices are hitting lows not seen in years, Friedman writes. Analysts identify a number of possible reasons for the steep drop - increased US production, slowing economies in Europe and China and steady production from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec). Rather than look at the causes, however, Friedman says to look at the result - budget shortfalls in Russia and Iran - and what it means. Who benefits? He asks. The US wants its Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia to have more bite. Both the Saudis and the US are fighting a proxy war against Iran in Syria. "This is business, but it also has the feel of war by other means: oil," he writes. Paul Richter of the Los Angeles Times agrees that both Russia and Iran are starting to feel the squeeze of lower prices, although he doesn't go as far as Friedman in speculating about a secret war.


10/26/14

Permalink Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required

For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000. The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report. “How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?” The federal government does.


10/20/14

Permalink 113 Federal Reserve Staff Members Make $250,000 Annually

Just in case you need another reason to dislike the thieving Federal Reserve. From Reuters:

(Reuters) – The top 113 earners among staff at the Federal Reserve’s Washington headquarters make an average of $246,506 per year, excluding bonuses and other benefits – more than Fed Chair Janet Yellen and nearly double the normal top government rate.

Don’t worry Janet, once you leave, you can earn $250k per speech like your hero Banana Ben Bernanke.


Permalink Britons suffer 'unprecedented' fall in real wages

The average worker saw a 8pc decline in real wages between 2008 and 2013, says NIESR. British workers have suffered an “unprecedented” decline in real wages over the past six years, with the average employee £2,000 worse off since the financial crisis hit, according to new research. “The scale of the real wage falls is historically unprecedented, certainly in the past 50 years where broadly comparable records exist,” said Paul Gregg, Stephen Machin and Mariña Fernández Salgado, the authors of the report. Official data this month showed that workers experienced a 7.6pc fall in real wages over the past six years. However, the research published by NIESR revealed that young workers, among the hardest hit by the downturn, also saw the biggest decline over the period, with pay falling by 14pc between 2008 and 2013. [Hat Tip: Steigan Blogger]

Evening Standard: Occupy London protesters start week long demonstration in Parliament Square
Michael Roberts UK: the agony and the ecstasy


10/15/14

Permalink Warning: Stocks Will Collapse by 50%

It is only a matter of time before the stock market plunges by 50% or more, according to several reputable experts. We have no right to be surprised by a severe and imminent stock market crash,” explains Mark Spitznagel, a hedge fund manager who is notorious for his hugely profitable billion-dollar bet on the 2008 crisis. “In fact, we must absolutely expect it." Unfortunately Spitznagel isn’t alone. “We are in a gigantic financial asset bubble,” warns Swiss adviser and fund manager Marc Faber. “It could burst any day.” Faber doesn’t hesitate to put the blame squarely on President Obama’s big-government policies and the Federal Reserve’s risky low-rate policies, which, he says, “penalize the income earners, the savers who save, your parents — why should your parents be forced to speculate in stocks and in real estate and everything under the sun?”


10/14/14

Permalink Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth, says report

Credit Suisse study shows inequality accelerating, with NGOs saying it shows economic recovery ‘skewed towards wealthy’. The richest 1% of the world’s population are getting wealthier, owning more than 48% of global wealth, according to a report published on Tuesday which warned growing inequality could be a trigger for recession. According to the Credit Suisse global wealth report (pdf), a person needs just $3,650 – including the value of equity in their home – to be among the wealthiest half of world citizens. However, more than $77,000 is required to be a member of the top 10% of global wealth holders, and $798,000 to belong to the top 1%. “Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1% of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest decile hold 87% of the world’s wealth, and the top percentile alone account for 48.2% of global assets,” said the annual report, now in its fifth year. The report, which calculates that total global wealth has grown to a new record – $263tn, more than twice the $117tn calculated for 2000 – found that the UK was the only country in the G7 to have recorded rising inequality in the 21st century.


Permalink Kazakhstan’s president ratifies Eurasian Economic Union treaty

The treaty has now been ratified by presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a law on Tuesday on ratifying the treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union, a Russia-led three-member bloc seen as an alternative to the EU. “The head of state has signed the law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On ratification of the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty,” the presidential press service said in a statement. The text of the law is to be published in local newspapers, the statement reads. Russia ratified the treaty on October 3. Nearly a week later, on October 9, the law on ratifying the treaty was adopted by the Belarusian parliament. On the same day, the document was signed by the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko. The Eurasian Economic Union Treaty was signed by the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus on May 29, 2014. The treaty provides for free movement of commodity, services, capital and labor force within the union. It also envisages that the three countries coordinate or pursue common policy in certain economic sectors.


Permalink Storm clouds gather over world economy

Nick Beams The annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings concluded in Washington over the weekend in the midst of a deepening economic and financial crisis, with no prospect of a recovery in the world economy. The euro zone seems set to enter its third recession since the global financial crisis erupted in 2008, and there are fears that the policies being pursued by the world’s major central banks are creating the conditions for another crash.


Permalink Bluff

xymphora "Exclusive: Privately, Saudis tell oil market- get used to lower prices" This is bluff (perhaps a manic phase of Prince Bandar's mental illness). The Saudis can't afford to do this - they need big revenues to fund their own social programs or face the revolution they fear, and they certainly don't benefit by wrecking OPEC. It may just be a warning to the Americans to get with the Saudi plan for Syria (the Americans need the high oil price numbers to keep the fracking illusion going, an illusion that creates the phony economic numbers that keep up the deception that the US isn't in severe economic difficulties), a plan which at least the Pentagon seems to be resisting (the Pentagon has been choosing bombing targets which appear to be helping the Syrian government).

Moon of Alabama Saudis Dump Oil To Increase Leverage Over U.S. Middle East Policies
Reuters: Privately, Saudis tell oil market: get used to lower prices


10/13/14

Permalink Privately, Saudis tell oil market: get used to lower prices

Saudi Arabia is quietly telling oil market participants that Riyadh is comfortable with markedly lower oil prices for an extended period, a sharp shift in policy that may be aimed at slowing the expansion of rival producers including those in the U.S. shale patch. Some OPEC members including Venezuela are clamoring for urgent production cuts to push global oil prices back up above $100 a barrel. But Saudi officials have telegraphed a different message in private meetings with oil market investors and analysts recently: the kingdom, OPEC’s largest producer, is ready to accept oil prices below $90 per barrel, and perhaps down to $80, for as long as a year or two, according to people who have been briefed on the recent conversations.

DWN: USA wollen Putin mit niedrigem Öl-Preis in die Knie zwingen


Permalink USA wollen Putin mit niedrigem Öl-Preis in die Knie zwingen

Auf Drängen der USA hat Saudi-Arabien seine Öl-Produktion massiv ausgeweitet. Dies hat entscheidend dazu beigetragen, dass der Ölpreis seit Juni um rund 20 Prozent eingebrochen ist. Der Preisverfall schadet vor allem Russland, das den Großteil seiner Staatseinnahmen aus dem Export von Öl und Gas bezieht. Sollte Saudi-Arabien den Öl-Krieg fortsetzen, droht Putin erstmals ein deutliches Staatsdefizit. Saudi-Arabien hat seine Ölproduktion zuletzt massiv erhöht und dadurch zu dem Verfall des Ölpreises um rund 20 Prozent beigetragen. Grund dafür ist offenbar eine strategische Zusammenarbeit mit den USA, die Russland durch einen Ölkrieg in die Knie zwingen wollen. [...] Saudi-Arabien wird den Ölpreis drücken, um politischen Druck auf den Iran und Russland auszuüben, zitiert die türkische Nachrichtenagentur Anadolu den Präsidenten des Zentrums für Saudi-arabische Ölpolitik und Strategische Aussichten, Rashid Abanmy.

Anadolu Agency: Saudi Arabia to pressure Russia, Iran with price of oil


10/11/14

Permalink Iran, Russia planning to establish joint bank

Iran and Russia plan to establish a joint bank as an effort to multiply bilateral trade and bypass sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s banking sector. Head of the Iran-Russia Joint Chamber of Commerce Asadollah Asgaroladi said that Tehran and Moscow are studying the possibilities of opening a new chapter in trade relations that could break the domination of Western currencies over bilateral exchanges. “Since Russian banks fear the implications of working with Iran due to sanctions, we want to establish the joint Iran-Russia bank with the help of our central banks and private sectors,” Asgaroladi said. “Such a bank would be able to exchange money between the two sides using rials and rubles and put aside dollars, euros and pounds,” he added. Unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran’s banking sector by the US and the European Union over Tehran’s nuclear energy program and the recent Western bans against Russia over Ukraine have prompted the two countries’ trade officials to boost economic cooperation.


10/09/14

Permalink Not Just The Largest Economy – Here Are 26 Other Ways China Has Surpassed America

In terms of purchasing power, China now has the largest economy on the entire planet, but that is not the only area where China has surpassed the United States. China also accounts for more total global trade than the U.S. does, China consumes more energy than the U.S. does, and China now manufactures more goods than the U.S. does. In other words, the era of American economic dominance is rapidly ending. Global economic power is making a dramatic shift to the east, and that is going to have huge implications for our future. We already owe the Chinese well over a trillion dollars, and as our economic infrastructure crumbles we are feverishly borrowing even more money in a desperate attempt to prop up our falling standard of living. We can’t seem to match the work ethic, inventiveness and determination of China and other Asian nations and it is showing. If we continue down this path, what will the future look like for future generations of Americans?

Nick Beams IMF report records global economic breakdown


Permalink Sahra Wagenknecht: „Unheimliche Komplizenschaft zwischen Deutschland und den USA“

Sahra Wagenknecht von der Links-Partei geht mit der extrem an die USA angebundenen deutschen Außenpolitik hart ins Gericht: Merkel und Steinmeier hätten einen Wirtschaftskrieg gegen Russland mitgetragen, der vor allem der europäischen und deutschen Wirtschaft schadet. Sie fordert das sofortige Ende der Sanktionen gegen Russland, das Ende der Unterstützung einer Regierung in Kiew, in der bis heute Faschisten sitzen, und eine restlose Aufklärung des Abschusses von Flug MH17.


10/08/14

Permalink IMF: China overtakes US as world’s largest economy

The International Monetary Fund says China has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest economy, according to a report. The IMF estimates that the size of the US economy is $17.4 trillion, while the Chinese economy comes in at $17.6 trillion, Business Insider reports. China’s share of the global economy is 16.48 percent, while the United States accounts for 16.28 percent, the IMF said Tuesday as part of its outlook for the world economic growth. These figures are adjusted for the relative costs of living in both countries, known as "purchasing power parity." As recently as 2005, the Chinese economy was less than half the size of the US economy. Moreover, the IMF projects that China’s economy will be 20 percent bigger than that of the US by 2019.

Business Insider: China Just Overtook The US As The World's Largest Economy


10/06/14

Permalink Biden's Speech Might Backfire on Washington: Former Assistant Secretary of Treasury

Speech of the US Vice President Joe Biden can backfire on Washington, as it embarrasses the European Union members and demonstrates the US has intimidated them, Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, believes.

"One of the possible consequences is that his speech embarrasses European governments by showing that Europe is Washington's vassal," Roberts told RIA Novosti on Friday. "The other is that by pressing Europeans to act against their own interests, Washington might have been too much of a bully and hurt its future influence in Europe."

US Vice President said Thursday that the United States and US President Barack Obama, in particular, had forced the European Union members to "take economic hits to impose cost" on Russia.

PressTV: Biden’s remarks on Syria about allies are ‘disingenuous’: Scott Rickard || “With Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, claiming that the US is some sort of victim to their allies with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and others that are directly involved in this international crime against Syria over the past four years, is really disingenuous. It is unbelievable how terribly wrong and [this is] completely – I would say completely -- criminal of Joe Biden to try to exonerate the United States,” Rickard said. “But in fact he is very much aware that the United States has been directly involved both financially and clandestine through operations with the CIA, and French and British intelligence, as well as Turkish and Jordanian intelligence and Saudi intelligence,” he added.

Patrick Martin Biden’s admission: US allies armed ISIS
RT.com: "Humbled Biden" apologizes to UAE after accusing it of terrorism funding


Permalink Wealth of richest 400 Americans surges to $2.29 trillion

The wealthiest 400 people in the United States had their combined net worth grow thirteen percent to $2.29 trillion this year, amidst a surging stock market and record corporate profits. The figures come from the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, compiled every year since 1982 by the American business magazine of the same name. As Forbes noted last week, the net worth of these 400 individuals is “about the same as the gross domestic product of Brazil, a country of 200 million people.” The average net worth of the Forbes 400 hit $5.7 billion, up by $700 million over the past year. The new figures of wealth in America were generally buried in the media.


10/03/14

Permalink .01% poverty-murder a million children monthly: that’s 1,000 miles of 4-lane freeway traffic

Carl Herman Consensus among leading organizations is that ending poverty would require an investment from developed nations of just 0.7% of their GNI (gross national income), with a total 10-year cost of between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. Current US wars since 9/11 have a long-term cost now between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. This means that the US alone could have ended global poverty just since 9/11 for half the cost for their wars (also for perspective, 11 days of ongoing war cost would pay all tuition for US public college students). The .01% hide $21 trillion to $32 trillion in offshore tax havens, with the top seven US banks hiding over $10 trillion. These hidden hoards would end poverty on ~10 to 42 Earths.

Paul Craig Roberts Poverty Report Contradicts GDP Claims || Washington has been conducting needless wars abroad for 93 percent of the 21st century at a cost of trillions of dollars. More trillions have been wasted bailing out banks that deregulation permitted to become “too big to fail.” During the past seven years, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and their homes, and food stamp rolls have reached record numbers. These hurting Americans have been ignored by policy-makers in Washington. Clearly, government in America is focused on something different from a healthy economy and the well being of citizens. We call it democracy, but it’s not.

Daniel Patrick Welch/PressTV: US is not a democracy, but a ‘firmly entrenched oligarchy’
Washington Post: The middle class is poorer today than it was in 1989


Permalink Swiss Demand Global Gold Recall despite Central Bankers - Charles Goyette

In a word association game, If I said Switzerland, you might say cheese or chocolate or maybe the alps. But another common item everyone associates with the Swiss is their money. Their banks. Their currency. Soon, that currency could change in a big way. This November, a Swiss Gold Referendum is going to a vote, and the repercussions, one way or the other, could cast a shadow of uncertainty on the US dollar. Nearly one-third of the Swiss Franc used to be guaranteed by gold reserves, not it’s less than 8 percent. If this vote goes through, the Swiss will be forced to raise the gold reserve back up to 20 percent. Joining us today is radio host Charles Goyette. He and Congressman Ron Paul have talked about central banks at great length on his radio show. Today, we’d like to get HIS input on the Swiss Gold Referendum. [Hat Tip: The People's Voice]


Permalink Why Norway is the best place in the world to grow old

Norway is the best country in which to grow old, according to new research – while Britain does not make it into the top ten. It is a country famed for its long dark winter nights and high cost of living – but Norway should also, thanks to a new survey, be recognised as the best place in which to grow old. Its citizens benefit from decades-old policies designed to provide financial security in old age, plus an efficient public transport system, a strong sense of security and a high level of employment among senior citizens. “It’s a combination of good management of natural resources coupled with planning ahead,” said Gustavo Toshiaki, an economist and global ageing specialist based in Norway. “They have identified the issues and are dealing with them.” Research from HelpAge International, released on Wednesday to coincide with the UN International Day of Older Persons, showed that Norway had the highest global level of well-being for people over 60. The London-based charity created its second annual index of 96 countries, and ranked countries on economic security, health, access to public transport and societal inclusion. Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and Germany completed the top five – while Britain was 11th. The UK performed well in the social environment category, being ranked third overall. But it was positioned only 23rd for education and employment – behind Bolivia, Estonia and the Philippines. Britain also performed badly in the health category, placed at 27th – two places behind the US. Japan was the best country for elderly health care, while Costa Rica, Chile, Greece and Colombia also performed better than the UK. Of all the nations in the index, Afghanistan ranked last – and the bottom ten countries were all in Sub-Saharan Africa or the Middle East.


Permalink The Geopolitics of World War III

The real reason Russia and Syria are being targeted right now. || Contrary to popular belief, the conduct of nations on the international stage is almost never driven by moral considerations, but rather by a shadowy cocktail of money and geopolitics. As such, when you see the mouthpieces of the ruling class begin to demonize a foreign country, the first question in your mind should always be "what is actually at stake here?"
For some time now Russia, China, Iran, and Syria have been in the cross hairs. Once you understand why, the events unfolding in the world right now will make much more sense. The U.S. dollar is a unique currency. In fact its current design and its relationship to geopolitics is unlike any other in history. Though it has been the world reserve currency since 1944, this is not what makes it unique. Many currencies have held the reserve status off and on over the centuries, but what makes the dollar unique is the fact that since the early 1970s it has been, with a few notable exceptions, the only currency used to buy and sell oil on the global market.
Prior to 1971 the U.S. dollar was bound to the gold standard, at least officially. According to the IMF, by 1966, foreign central banks held $14 billion U.S. dollars, however the United States had only $3.2 billion in gold allocated to cover foreign holdings. Translation: the Federal Reserve was printing more money than it could actually back. The result was rampant inflation and a general flight from the dollar.
In 1971 in what later came to be called the "Nixon Shock" President Nixon removed the dollar from the gold standard completely. At this point the dollar became a pure debt based currency. With debt based currencies money is literally loaned into existence. Approximately 70% of the money in circulation is created by ordinary banks which are allowed to loan out more than they actually have in their accounts. The rest is created by the Federal Reserve which loans money that they don't have, mostly to government. Kind of like writing hot checks, except it's legal, for banks. This practice which is referred to as fractional reserve banking is supposedly regulated by the Federal Reserve, an institution which just happens to be owned and controlled by a conglomerate of banks, and no agency or branch of government regulates the Federal Reserve.


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