Banks Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Standard Bank and a unit of chemical producer BASF conspired to manipulate platinum and palladium prices, according to a US lawsuit filed this week. ● The class-action suit, filed Tuesday in New York, said the four defendants shared nonpublic information about client purchases and sale orders to manipulate prices for their benefit and to the detriment of plaintiffs. This illegal sharing of information "gave them the ability to execute trades... in advance of those (price) movements," the complaint said. "This unlawful behaviour allowed Defendants to reap substantial profits, while non-insiders, which include Plaintiffs and members of the Class, were injured." The plaintiff, Modern Settings, a US maker of jewelry and other metal products, alleges it lost value on "tens of thousands of transactions" due to the conspiracy, the complaint said. Investors in the commodities "lost millions of dollars as a result of this conduct," said Labaton Sucharow, the firm representing the plaintiffs, in a statement.
Ukraine is teetering on the edge of collapse, but the West is "sleepwalking" in its response to the impending crisis, say observers. ● The West has made a catalogue of errors since Ukraine's fateful decision to turn its back on Russia, to which Moscow responded by launching a proxy war that has made Kyiv's already dire economic situation worse. The EU's Association Agreement with Kyiv, which commits Ukraine to moving closer to Europe, has not come with enough financial support to re-boot the economy. "There is a currently a major hole in the Western financing package for Ukraine of somewhere in the order of $10bn for the next six months," says Tim Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank. The Institute of International Finance (IFF), a global financial industry group, was also in Kyiv last week and came to pretty much the same conclusion. Despite a recent ceasefire with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv will suffer a "double-digit recession this year", the IFF said in a report.
We noted in 2010 that the American Dream – the possibility of a “rags to riches” success story – has moved abroad … since social mobility in the U.S. is much lower than in many other developed nations. (And we pointed out that conservatives are as disturbed as liberals by the collapse of social mobility in modern America.) A paper published last year by University of Ottawa economics professor Miles Corak tells us exactly where the American Dream has gone … to Scandinavia. Denmark, Norway and Finland have the most social mobility (and Sweden is not that far behind). On the other hand, the UK, Italy and America have the least social mobility. [...] Norway is arguably the world’s most prosperous country. Denmark is 3rd; Sweden is 6th; and Finland is 8th … but the U.S. has dropped down to 10th place.
The sum is comprised of the €1.2 billion the contract is worth and a compensation of €800 million for each of the ships. ● If France doesn't deliver Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, the penalty may ammount to €3 billion, the Le Parisien newspaper reported Wednesday. The sum is comprised of the €1.2 billion the contract is worth and a compensation of €800 million for each of the ships. No official confirmation has been yet received. Earlier, French media estimated the compensation at €10 billion. On Tuesday French President Francois Hollande said the current situation in Ukraine does not allow Paris to hand over the first Mistral helicopter carrier to Russia. Russian deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov told TASS on Tuesday Russia will be acting strictly in line with the contract and file a lawsuit if the ship is not delivered.
In a word - Ukraine is in big trouble... Kiev’s foreign reserves plunged last month by a whopping 23.2 per cent to a paltry $12.6 billion. By the end of the year it will be even messier. Kiev’s gotta pay a $3.1 billion gas bill to Gazprom, or else...The central bank will have to sell more foreign currency to support the hryvnia. And there are MORE hefty gas bills as General Winter advances. Is the austerity-devastated EU lending them at least one euro? Of course not. It’s up to the IMF, who now OWNS Ukraine. Yet there will only be “emergency funding” if Kiev applies that good ol’ “structural adjustment” – as in turning the overwhelming mass of Ukrainians into beggars for life. These are the facts. The rest is rubbish.
● Western media reports of the summit are an embarrassing travesty
● Far from isolated, Putin was embraced by the great majority of heads of state
● Idea that he left early, upset over criticism is total, complete, sheer, bloody rot - a new low for western media who alleged this in chorus
● EU leaders tried to browbeat Putin - Putin told them to take a few laps in the Brisbane river, and explained to them yet again, correctly, that it is he, in fact, who holds the strong cards in Ukraine, and that the EU had better get its act together
● As before, the EU has no idea what to do about the Ukraine mess
● The clinically obtuse Mr. Obama managed to insult China
US sanctions violate the very system they created. ● Sanctions levied against Russia are against the norms of international trade and the core principles of the G20, as they can only be introduced via the United Nations, Putin said. Sanctions are “against WTO principles and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the GATT. The United States itself created that organization at a certain point. Now it is crudely violating its principles,” Putin explained.
Interconnected economy: What hurts us hurts you ● Sanctions against Russia have targeted the finance, energy and weaponry sectors of the economy. Russia’s retaliatory sanctions to ban agricultural imports are having a colossal ripple effect on jobs, social sectors, and growth. This is especially pertinent to Europe, which is feeling the squeeze of the agricultural export ban to Russia, one its biggest markets. “Everyone must understand that the global economy and finance these days are exceptionally dependent on each other,” Putin said. Germany’s economic growth is an example of financial blowback from sanctions with Russia.
“Ordinary people lost enormous amounts of money” when JP Morgan Chase sold millions in faulty loans – and taxpayers still paid a big chunk of its billion-dollar settlement with the government, investigative journalist Matt Taibbi told RT. ● In recent story published in Rolling Stone, Taibbi detailed how a former JP Morgan employee Alayne Fleischmann helped the Justice Department in its investigation against the bank. Eventually, a $9 billion settlement was reached. However, that agreement did not require the bank to admit guilt for fraud – and it all came about to keep the information Fleischmann divulged from surfacing. Speaking with Thom Hartmann on RT’s ‘The Big Picture’, Taibbi said that Fleischmann, a deal manager at the company, criticized JP Morgan’s banking practices when she realized that the normal procedures on due diligence and compliance on loans were not being handled in the usual way. These loans were to be packed into securities and re-sold to investors (pension funds, hedge funds, insurance companies), but the due diligence department wasn’t forthcoming with information, and deal managers were told not to send emails with their inquiries. As a result of JP Morgan’s decision to sell these loans despite knowing they were defective, Taibbi said Americans suffered dramatically.
President Barack Obama is again pushing international leaders to finalize the trans-Pacific trade deal between 12 countries that would eradicate tariffs and regulations, but critics say the secretive negotiations have been a boon only to corporations. ● Leaders of the countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal at this week’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings have not set a timetable for settling the pact, but the Obama administration is optimistic that by end of his eight-day visit to Asia a deal can be reached. If finalized, it would eliminate tariffs on goods and services and change regulations for labor, government procurement, state-owned enterprises, intellectual property and environmental protections. The deal would also enhance the United States’ presence in Asia, something the White House has wanted to do ever since President Obama was first inaugurated.
PressTV: US promoting military agenda in Pacific: Dennis Etler
SputnikNews (RIA Novosti): Putin, Obama Spoke Several Times in Beijing, Discussed Bilateral Relations
Stephen Lendman ■ Obama at APEC
Violent clashes broke out in Belgium as more than 100,000 protesters marched in Brussels against the government’s austerity measures. Police deployed water cannon as dockworkers, metalworkers and students took to the streets. ● The violence flared up at the end of an otherwise peaceful protest, with tear gas deployed as some radical demonstrators hurled objects at riot police and launched attacks with the barriers against the officials. Some set off colored smoke flares. At least 14 people were taken to hospital following the violence, according to national daily HLN.be. The Belgian government which assumed power just a month ago has caused unrest with promises to raise the retirement age, cancel a wage rise in line with inflation and cut health and social security benefits - moves that undermine the country's welfare state. People supporting the march have said that the austerity cuts only target workers while unfairly letting businesses off the hook. The government is intending, through the cuts, to save some 11 billion euros ($13.8 billion). “The signal is clear. People are angry, livid. This government's policies are totally unbalanced,” ACV union chief Marc Leemans told Reuters.
The most important thing to remember about economic sanctions is that they are used by a nation against another to achieve political, not financial goals. Thus America's use of sanctions on countries like Iraq, Iran, Syria, and now Russia are all intended to put pressures on those nations to force them to capitulate to U.S. will. But for the first time in decades, U.S. sanctions against another nation have been met with unforeseen consequences. And on Oct. 31, the victim of this collateral damage is choosing to not go after the originator of the economic 'weapons of mass destruction', but after the one country that the sanctions were intended to be primarily focused upon. In a formal complaint made on the last day of October to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Union is seeking assistance from the global institution to intervene against Russian tariffs placed upon EU products, and try to reverse the effects of retaliatory sanctions put upon them for standing with the U.S. in their proxy war against the Eurasian state.
Tomas Hirst ■ Last week, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's deputy prime minister in charge of the defence industry and prominent nationalist, released a letter on Twitter purportedly from French arms industry company DCNS regarding the sale of the Mistral class ships. The letter states that the handover ceremony of the Vladivostok would take place on 14 November in Saint-Nazaire and includes:
• Signing of the transfer of ownership and delivery act.
• Hoisting of the Russian Federation colours.
• A military ceremony on the flight deck.
You might have thought that this would be the end of the saga. The invitation to the ceremony had gone out, and been made public. Yves Destefanis, a project director responsible for delivering the Mistral helicopter carrier to Russia, may even have had similar thoughts. Instead, Destefanis lost his job after Michel Sapin, the French Finance Minister, reasserted that the "conditions today have not been met to deliver the Mistral". So where are we now? Frankly, we have no idea. The EU and the US are going to continue to pressure France to hold onto the ships. France is going to continue to claim that it's allowed to sell them but do nothing about it. Russia is going to get increasingly angry that they've paid for them, are technically allowed to receive them and yet are having to view their ship from afar. And the Vladivostok is going to extend its quiet stay in Saint-Nazaire.
According to [a] Russian website, 48 of top 200 Russian billionares are Jewish; Putin aide lashes out at ‘Nazi report.’ Close to one quarter of the 200 richest people in Russia are Jewish, according to a report by Russian banking website lanta.ru, which gives the 48 Jews on the list a combined net worth of $132.9 billion. The report also analyzed the nationality of each of the 200 billionaires, finding that just 89 – less than half – were ethnic Russians, even though they make up 81% percent of the population in Russia.
Michael Sauga ■ Six years after the Lehman disaster, the industrialized world is suffering from Japan Syndrome. Growth is minimal, another crash may be brewing and the gulf between rich and poor continues to widen. Can the global economy reinvent itself? || A new buzzword is circulating in the world's convention centers and auditoriums. It can be heard at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund. Bankers sprinkle it into the presentations; politicians use it leave an impression on discussion panels. The buzzword is "inclusion" and it refers to a trait that Western industrialized nations seem to be on the verge of losing: the ability to allow as many layers of society as possible to benefit from economic advancement and participate in political life.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree according to which a $100 discount will apply on export tariffs if the price for 1,000 cubic meters of gas supplies to Ukraine is $333.3 and more. "The signed decree prescribes, on a temporary basis until March 31, 2015, a special procedure for calculating the rates of export tariffs depending on the level of the contract price for the natural gas delivered from the territory of the Russian Federation to the territory of Ukraine," the decree said. According to the document, a discount of $100 will apply if the price for 1,000 cubic meters of gas stands at $333.3 and more. Should the price be less than $333.3, the discount will form only 30 percent of the price. "The current decree shall apply to the legal relations arising from November 1, 2014," the decree added.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?”
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.
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