Permalink ‘Enormous increase’ in global inequality: OECD

The sharp rise in income inequality across the world is one of the most worrying developments of the past 200 years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said on Thursday. In a flagship report tracking wellbeing in eight world regions over two centuries, the OECD noted that personal incomes had diverged in the last 30 years as GDP (gross domestic product) per head had risen. "It is hard not to notice the sharp increase in income inequality experienced by the vast majority of countries from the 1980s. There are very few exceptions to this," said OECD economists in the report. Income inequality, as measured by pre-tax household income across individuals within a country, declined in most Western countries from the end of the 19th century until about 1970, when it began to rise.

PressTV: The pay gap between CEOs and workers is much worse than you realize


Permalink Russia’s Federation Council unanimously ratifies Eurasian Economic Union Treaty

The Treaty on the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union was signed by the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on May 29, 2014 in Astana. The Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, unanimously ratified the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) on Wednesday. The Treaty on the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union was signed by the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on May 29, 2014 in Astana. The agreement is the basic document defining the accords between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan for creating the EEU for the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce and conducting coordinated, agreed or common policies in key sectors of the economy, such as energy, industry, agriculture and transport. The agreement stipulates the transition of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to the next stage of integration after the Customs Union and the common economic space. [...] A separate part of the agreement formulates the principles of forming the union’s budget, which will be made up of ruble contributions by the member states. The size of the contributions will be determined by the Higher Council. The Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union stipulates customs and technical regulation, foreign trade policies and measures to protect the internal market. The agreement envisages the transition to common customs tariffs. The agreement also stipulates the principles of coordinated macro-economic and foreign exchange policies, financial market regulation, interaction in the energy and transport sectors, the development of a common gas, oil, petroleum product, medicines and medical equipment market.


Permalink Revealed - the Troika threats to bankrupt Ireland

Senior European and European Central Bank (ECB) officials agreed to threaten Ireland with national bankruptcy if the government made any attempt to burn bondholders, the Sunday Independent can reveal. The threat was made at a high-level teleconference meeting, details of which have been revealed for the first time by the Central Bank governor, Dr Patrick Honohan. Mr Honohan, who famously told the nation Ireland would be entering the Troika bailout programme live on radio as government ministers were publicly denying it, also revealed he was kept out of loop about the meeting.In a new book about the late Brian Lenihan, Mr Honohan said he only found out about the meeting after the Troika delivered the ultimatum to Mr Lenihan on November 26, 2010.

Permalink "I Am Putting Everything In Goldman Sachs Because These Guys Can Do Whatever The Hell They Want"

Tyler Durden When we first covered the Carmen Segarra lawsuit alleging the capture of the NY Fed by Goldman Sachs back in October 2013, we didn't have much hope for justice to get done. We said that "while her allegations may be non-definitive, and her wrongful termination suit is ultimately dropped, there is hope this opens up an inquiry into the close relationship between Goldman and the NY Fed. Alas, since the judicial branch is also under the control of the two abovementioned entities, we very much doubt it." Sure enough, the lawsuit was dropped (and no inquiry was opened) but not before it became clear that the very judge in charge of the case, U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams, was herself conflicted, after it was revealed that her husband, Greg Andres, a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell, was representing Goldman in an advisory capacity. Curiously, before she assumed her current office in March 2013, back in 2008 Abrams returned to Davis Polk herself as Special Counsel for Pro Bono. She had previously worked at the firm from 1994 to 1998. For the full, and quite amazing, story of how the "Judge" steamrolled Segarra's objections reads this Reuters piece. As a result of this fiasco, some wondered just how far do Goldman's tentacles stretch not only at the money-printing (i.e., NY Fed) level, not only at the legislative level (see "With Cantor Down, Which Other Politicians Has Goldman Invested In?"), but at the judicial as well.


Permalink How Goldman Controls The New York Fed: 47.5 Hours Of "The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes" Explain

Tyler Durden I don't want to spoil the revelations of "This American Life": It's far better to hear the actual sounds on the radio, as so much of the meaning of the piece is in the tones of the voices -- and, especially, in the breathtaking wussiness of the people at the Fed charged with regulating Goldman Sachs. But once you have listened to it -- as when you were faced with the newly unignorable truth of what actually happened to that NFL running back's fiancee in that elevator -- consider the following:

1. You sort of knew that the regulators were more or less controlled by the banks. Now you know.
2. The only reason you know is that one woman, Carmen Segarra, has been brave enough to fight the system. She has paid a great price to inform us all of the obvious. She has lost her job, undermined her career, and will no doubt also endure a lifetime of lawsuits and slander.

So what are you going to do about it? At this moment the Fed is probably telling itself that, like the financial crisis, this, too, will blow over. It shouldn't.


Permalink Mistral-Class Ship Built for Russia Sets Sail

The Mistral-class helicopter carrier Vladivostok, carrying the first crew of some 200 Russian sailors, has finished a series of tests early Monday morning. The Vladivistok set off from the French port of Saint-Nazaire for sea trials on September 13, and is scheduled to go to sea again on Tuesday with its second crew on board, according to a RIA Novosti source. The $1.2 billion contract for the manufacture of the Mistral-class ships between French ship builder DCNS and Russia's state-run arms trade intermediary Rosoboronexport was signed in June 2011. The first carrier, the Vladivostok is to be deployed by the Russian Navy in 2014, while the second ship, the Sevastopol, will arrive in 2015.


Permalink Europe unlikely to cut Russia off SWIFT — VTB bank CEO

The European Parliament called on the European Union on Thursday to consider cutting Russia off the SWIFT inter-bank financial message system. The European Union will not cut Russia off the SWIFT inter-bank financial system, Andrei Kostin, the chief executive officer VTB Group, Russia's second largest bank, said on Friday. "I think this is not going to happen. I would have called it an act of direct aggression against Russia's financial system with all subsequent consequences. This is a very tough measure," Kostin said at an international investment forum in Sochi.


Permalink Obama uses Ebola crisis to “surge” 3,000 troops into West Africa

Bill Van Auken ["Never letting a good crisis go to waste:"] The Obama administration and the Pentagon have announced the “surge” of 3,000 US troops into West Africa, ostensibly in response to the escalating spread of the Ebola virus in the region. The militarized response to the deadly epidemic has underscored Washington’s increasingly heavy reliance on its residual military superiority in what has become a second “scramble for Africa,” pitting the US against China in a struggle for control of the continent’s markets and resources.

Permalink Forty five million in poverty in the US

Andre Damon Forty-five million people are living in poverty in the United States, according to figures released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. The 2013 Income and Poverty in the United States report found that the number of people in poverty remained at a record high last year, while the income of a typical household remained stagnant. According to the Census figures, the median household income in the US has fallen 8 percent since 2007. The continuing prevalence of mass poverty and the stagnation of the incomes of working people are an expression of the fact that the so-called economic “recovery” touted by the Obama administration is a recovery only for the financial elite: corporate profits hit a record in the year covered by the report, while stock values increased by a third that year, fueled by the Federal Reserve’s money printing operations. The White House praised the report, saying that it showed that “key indicators of poverty and family income improved.” In reality, the report is yet another confirmation of the fact that there has been no real improvement in the living conditions of working people.


Permalink Ukraine, EU to sign association agreement

Ukraine is set to approve an association agreement with the European Union, while Kiev plans to offer limited self-rule to parts of the country’s volatile eastern regions. Lawmakers in the Ukrainian and European parliaments are due to sign the 1,200-page political and economic association agreement during a live video conference later on Tuesday. President Petro Poroshenko has said the pact would enter into force as of November 1; however, the two sides will delay the application of the trade rules until 2016.

The Australian: EU, Ukraine, Russia reach deal on EU-Ukraine association agreement [September 13, 2014]
EU Propaganda: Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area
Chris Marsden Ukraine’s EU Association Agreement a prelude to further bloodshed [28 June 2014]
Pål Steigan Går det mot deling av Ukraina?


Permalink CrossTalk: Sanctions in action

When the blame game turns into sanctions wars. With no the political crisis in Ukraine far from over, the West and Russia trade sanctions against the other. Which side is more vulnerable? Which side can endure the most pain? CrossTalking with Liam Halligan, Art Franczek and Mitch Feierstein.


Permalink Handels-Krieg gegen Russland: Der große Verrat von Angela Merkel an ihrem Volk

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten Die Sanktionen gegen Russland werden nicht die treffen, die sie beschließen oder verhindern hätten können: Politiker, Verbände, die IHK, die öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender – sie alle leben von Steuergeldern oder Zwangsgebühren und brauchen keine Konsequenzen zu fürchten. Daher heulen sie, ohne nachzudenken, mit den Wölfen. Bezahlen müssen Unternehmen, Arbeitnehmer und Steuerzahler. Was die Bundesregierung und die EU betreiben, ist Machtmissbrauch im großen Stil. Das ist Verrat am eigenen Volk. Diese gänzlich verantwortungslose „Politik“ zerstört nicht nur, wie Christoph Leitl gesagt hat, das Verhältnis zu Russland. Sie zersetzt die Demokratie in Europa. Sie zerstört Werte, die von den Europäern mit ihren eigenen Händen geschaffen wurden. Sie kastriert die Wirtschaft in einem ohnehin schon knallharten, globalen Wettbewerb. Wenn die Regierungen der EU und die ihnen angeschlossenen, willfährigen Institutionen auf diesem Weg weitermachen, wird das Jahr 2014 auch ohne „heißen“ Krieg als ein ganz finsteres in die Geschichte Deutschlands und Europas eingehen. [H/T: Steigan Blogger]

Gabor Steingart The West on the wrong path/Der Irrweg des Westens (Ложный путь Запада)

Permalink Condoleezza Rice: We need to stop Putin. The United States will supply oil and gas to Europe

Letting the cat out of the bag: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Condoleezza Rice) in an interview with German channel N24 on sanctions against Russia in connection with the situation in Ukraine. 16 May 2014.

DWN: Putin zieht den nächsten Joker: Russland kann Staats-Pleite der Ukraine auslösen

RT.com: Lavrov Says Russia Not Losing Battle With US for Influence in Europe || Although the Unites States are trying to do their best to disrupt the economic relations between the EU and Russia, Russia is not losing the battle for influence in Europe, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday. "There is a big battle going on," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russian TVC channel. "The United States want to use the current situation in order to separate Europe from Russia economy-wise and bargain the most favorable conditions for themselves in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the creation of a transatlantic trade and investment partnership." The Russian foreign minister said that such talks have been going for several years. "Europe has been persistent enough in defending its interests. According to the Europeans, the United States wanted to gain unfair profit. Now, however, these [US] efforts have intensified, including through the attempt to force Europe to purchase the American liquefied natural gas at prices that cannot be competitive with the price of the Russian gas. This was definitely motivated by economic interest. Still, geopolitical calculations play a huge role, a key one," the minister said. Answering the question on whether Russia is losing Europe to the United States, the Russian Foreign Minister said, "I think not."


Permalink New EU Sanctions on Russia Come Into Force

The European Union announced in its Official Journal Friday it was imposing a new round of sanctions on Russia, including those targeting the country’s major defense and energy companies. The EU barred three major Russian oil companies (Rosneft, Transneft, GazpromNeft) and three major defense companies (Oboronprom, United Aircraft Corporation and Uralvagonzavod) from seeking finance on European capital markets. The union also banned sales of dual-technology equipment to nine Russian defense companies, including the Kalashnikov Concern, Russia’s largest producer of automatic and sniper combat arms. A total of 24 people, including senior Russian lawmakers and the leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, were added to the list of individuals facing EU travel bans and asset freezes.

RT.com: US extends Russia sanctions, targets biggest lender Sberbank & gas giant Gazprom
Itar-Tass: Rosneft, Transneft, Gazprom Neft on new EU sanctions list
RT.com: Moscow on sanctions: ‘EU unwilling to see Russia’s efforts on Ukraine’

Permalink U.S. Billionaires Political Power Index

Darrell West's U.S. Billionaires Political Power Index is a ranking of the top U.S. billionaires in terms of overall political power. There are a number of existing rankings that rate the net worth of billionaires, but no one has assessed their overall political influence. In his forthcoming Brookings Institution Press book, Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust, Darrell West examines the political use of great wealth, including campaign expenditures, activism through nonprofit organizations and foundations, holding public office, media ownership, policy thought leadership, and behind the scenes influence.


Permalink Ukraine Takes Another $1.39 Billion From International Monetary Fund — $3 Billion In Imf Cash Already Sent Offshore

John Helmer Insiders Suspected In Heist, Getaway Drivers Claim Alibi || Bank robbers of the manual, stick-up type have a reputation for a sense of a humour. That may be a comfort to them, because they usually get caught. Bank robbers of the International Monetary Fund type lack even a sense of irony, because they expect not to be caught, and never are. In the bank- robbing profession also, the driver of the get-away car is usually the least talented, the witless one who doesn’t see the gag, especially not when he or she is the butt of jokes from the rest of the gang. This week, when Alexander Shlapak, the Ukrainian Minister of Finance, helped himself to $1.39 billion, the second tranche of the IMF’s Ukraine Stand-By Agreement of $17.1 billion, he illustrated the ministry’s Facebook announcement in Kiev with a picture showing an anonymous figure carrying a cheap briefcase away from the IMF headquarters as the Fund’s front-door sign is partially covered up by the Ukrainian flag. Counting the first tranche of $3.1 billion Shlapak took away on May 5, the cover-up is currently blowing at $4.5 billion. Another $1.39 billion had been scheduled for the taking in October. But that has been delayed and doubled to $2.8 billion for payout by December 15.

PEU Report: USAID to Help Young Biden: The Burisma File
Michael Hudson Losing Credibility: The IMF’s New Cold War Loan to Ukraine
Tyler Durden Biden’s Son a Director in Shale Gas Firm Set to Drill in East Ukraine

Permalink Human failure to recognize, reject, and remember evil: essential topic for 99%

Around 1969 as a young boy, I looked-up the definition of the word, evil. I found something like, “Preference and actions for one’s own material wealth over the well-being of others.” I’ve always remembered that definition as the one that made the most sense. I’ve never found it again in more modern dictionaries. Today, considering our human condition, we observe:

• A nexus of evil among “leading” families in government, money, and corporate media who provably lie for unlawful wars (here, here, here, here), rapacious economics (here, here, here, here), and who use corporate media to “cover” these crimes while speaking to us never above a pre-teen level.
• Public inability to clearly recognize this evil, take action to stop it, and remember these acts define our “leaders.”
• A growing number of Americans recognizing our Emperor’s New Clothes status, willingness to speak and act, and retention that our “leaders” really do seem to act for evil.


Permalink Israel Steals Gaza’s Offshore Natural Gas: $15 Billion Deal with Jordan

Julie Lévesque While Gazans suffer from daily power shutdowns, Israel is signing an important deal to sell gas to Jordan, gas which, researchers say, was stolen from Palestinians. || In addition to confiscating Palestine’s energy resources, Israel has destroyed Gaza’s only power station in its latest military offensive. The Middle East Monitor reported September 4, 2014 that a Memorandum of Understanding ”is due to be signed between Israel and Jordan in the reservoir of Leviathan to export Israeli natural gas to Jordan during the next 15 years with a total value of $15 billion”. (Jordan to buy $15bn of Israeli gas, Middle East Monitor, September 4, 2014.) Israel’s first natural gas export deal will also be signed by “the Leviathan field partner Noble Energy Inc. on behalf of itself and its partners Delek Group Ltd. units Avner Oil and Gas LP and Delek Drilling Limited Partnership and Ratio Oil Exploration (1992) LP.” (Leviathan partners signing $15b Jordanian gas deal, Globes, Israel business news, on September 3, 2014) We may recall that in the wake of the Israeli bombing and invasion under Operation Cast Lead, “Palestinian gas fields were de facto confiscated by Israel in derogation of international law”.

Permalink Medvedev: Russia Could Close Airspace If West Brings New Sanctions

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia could close its airspace to Western carriers if new European sanctions target Russia's oil and gas companies or impose additional financing restrictions. "I hoped that our partners would be smarter," Medvedev told business daily Vedomosti in an interview published Monday. "If there are sanctions related to the energy sector, or further restrictions on Russia's financial sector, we will have to respond asymmetrically." An expansion to European Union sanctions, expected to be implemented Tuesday, would ban three of Russia's main oil companies — Gazprom Neft, Transneft and Rosneft — from raising money on European capital markets for longer than 30 days, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing documents detailing the measures. The expansion to EU sanctions introduced in July would also limit the time of fund-raising to 30 days, down from the previous 90 days, for five state-run banks, including Sberbank and VTB, the report said.

RIA Novosti: Medvedev: Energy, Finance Sanctions Against Russia May Provoke 'Asymmetric Response'

Permalink UK pound falls as Scot supporters take lead in poll

The British Sterling has dropped to its lowest rate in nearly 10 months following an opinion poll showing supporters of Scottish independence in the lead. The pound fell by nearly 1 percent to 1.6 dollars on Monday, when trading opened in Asian markets, hitting the lowest level since last November. In addition, the pound fell sharply against the Japanese yen to 169.68, the lowest level in over three months and against the euro to 80.1 pence per euro. Meanwhile, experts believe that the sterling could fall up to 10 percent if Scotland votes to break away from the UK due to uncertainty about what will happen to the currency. The sell-off came in reaction to the Sunday results of a YouGov poll, which revealed that that 51 percent of Scots supported independence compared to the 49 percent who opposed it.


Permalink 50mn Americans suffer from hunger

Critics and anti-poverty advocates are questioning the so-called economic recovery as a USDA study published Wednesday revealed that while the nation's wealthiest enjoyed record gains, nearly 50 million Americans continue to struggled with food insecurity in 2013. According to the government figures, while a majority of people who were not always able to afford food last year were adults, 16 million children also went hungry at times, with 360,000 households reporting that their kids skipped meals or did not eat for an entire day because there was not enough money. [...] Overall, food insecurity is 35 percent higher than in 2007, before the recession began. In 2013, the average food-secure household spent 30 percent more on food than the average food-insecure household of the same size.

Permalink Icahn, Soros, Druckenmiller, And Now Zell: The Billionaires Are All Quietly Preparing For The Plunge

"The stock market is at an all-time, but economic activity is not at an all-time," explains billionaire investor Sam Zell to CNBC this morning, adding that, "every company that's missed has missed on the revenue side, which is a reflection that there's a demand issue; and when you got a demand issue it's hard to imagine the stock market at an all-time high." Zell said he is being very cautious adding to stocks and cutting some positions because "I don't remember any time in my career where there have been as many wildcards floating out there that have the potential to be very significant and alter people's thinking." Zell also discussed his view on Obama's Fed encouraging disparity and on tax inversions, but concludes, rather ominously, "this is the first time I ever remember where having cash isn't such a terrible thing." Zell's calls should not be shocking following George Soros. Stan Druckenmiller, and Carl Icahn's warnings that there is trouble ahead.


Permalink France govt. under criticism over policies on unemployed

The French government has come under heavy criticism after the country’s labor minister said job seekers need to be punished if they are found to be committing frauds on the state aid. On Tuesday, France’s Labour Minister François Rebsamen called on the public employment offices called Pole Emploi to crack down on benefit claimants “abusing the system". “I’m asking Pole Emploi to strengthen its controls to make sure that people are indeed looking for work. At some point, there needs to be a penalty.” He has been criticized by many who believe the problem is not the unemployed but the unemployment. “Rebsamen’s comments are scandalous and indecent,” said Jean-Francois Kieffer, a senior CGT labour union official on Tuesday. “This is not the solution,” Frances' Minister for State Reform Thierry Mandon said. “Punishing jobseekers is not the way to solve the fundamental problem of unemployment. The focus should be on creating jobs,” Mandon added.

Le Monde: Les « sans-dents» immédiatement récupérés par les militants de tout bord || Tous des «sans-dents». L'expression que François Hollande emploierait pour désigner les pauvres, selon son ex-compagne Valérie Trierweiler, semble appelée à connaître le même succès que le «casse-toi pauv'con» de son prédécesseur [Nicolas Sarkozy]. Sur les réseaux sociaux, plusieurs groupes militants, de gauche comme de droite, ont immédiatement saisi le potentiel de la phrase et s'en sont emparés avec une rapidité qui force l'admiration. Quelques heures à peine après les premiers extraits de l'ouvrage de Mme Trierweiler, on comptait déjà au moins deux mouvements distincts.


Permalink Organized Labor in America Today

Stephen Lendman Labor Day once had meaning. Workers had reason to celebrate hard won rights. No longer. More on this below. The day is commemorated on the first Monday of September. It's been so since 1882. In June 1894, it became a federal holiday. It was when workers had few rights. Management controlled things. Labor was systematically exploited. It took many years of organizing, taking to the streets, going on strike, boycotting management, battling police and National Guard forces, and paying with blood and lives to win rights. They included an eight-hour day, a living wage, employer-paid benefits, and passage of the 1935 landmark Wagner Act. It established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It guaranteed labor the right to bargain collectively on equal terms with management. It did so for the first time. Erosion followed. War on working Americans decimated organized labor. Hard won rights were lost. [Image © David Dees]

Paul Craig Roberts The labor unions provided the Democratic Party with a financial base in labor that served as a countervailing power to the Republican base in manufacturing and finance. Whether it was a plot or unintended consequence, jobs offshoring wrecked the industrial and manufacturing unions and destroyed the Democrats’ independent financial base. The two-party system that had maintained a reasonable balance was transformed into a one-party system in which both parties were dependent on the same monied interests and thus answered to the same masters. The consequence was the demise of the middle class and rise of the One Percent. Today the US has the most unequally distributed income and wealth of all developed economies and one of the worst in the entire world. Few Americans other than the One Percent have a stake in the American economic and political system. The imbalance in the distribution of income and wealth cannot be corrected through the tax system. Globalism is a scheme for impoverishing First World labor and taking power and influence from the hands of the many and putting them in the hands of the few. The champions of globalism are the champions of America’s destruction.


Permalink Gazprom Begins Accepting Payment For Oil In Ruble, Yuan

The Nail In The Petrodollar Coffin: Gazprom Begins Accepting Payment For Oil In Ruble, Yuan Several months ago, when Russia announced the much anticipated "Holy Grail" energy deal with China, some were disappointed that despite this symbolic agreement meant to break the petrodollar's stranglehold on the rest of the world, neither Russia nor China announced payment terms to be in anything but dollars. In doing so they admitted that while both nations are eager to move away from a US Dollar reserve currency, neither is yet able to provide an alternative. This changed in late June when first Gazprom's CFO announced the gas giant was ready to settle China contracts in Yuan or Rubles, and at the same time the People's Bank of China announced that its Assistant Governor Jin Qi and Russian central bank Deputy Chairman Dmitry Skobelkin held a meeting in which they discussed cooperating on project and trade financing using local currencies. The meeting discussed cooperation in bank card, insurance and financial supervision sectors. And yet, while both sides declared their operational readiness and eagerness to bypass the dollar entirely, such plans remained purely in the arena of monetary foreplay and the long awaited first shot across the Petrodollar bow was absent. Until now.

Investment Watch: Petro Dollar is dying quickly! The dollar collapse is close at hand!

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