March 7, 2012
By Stephen Lendman
European/American austerity assures a 1% wealth grab at the expense of all others.
Prioritizing banker payments causes debt bondage, human misery, economic wreckage, and eventual collapse. What can’t go on forever, won’t. It’s not rocket science; it’s fact.
Economies thrive on productive economic growth. It includes public sector infrastructure investment in transportation, research and development, roads and bridges, education, healthcare, and other vital areas. Sacrificing it for bankers and other vulture investors causes Greek-type crises.
Financialization highlights “the great problem of our time,” says Michael Hudson. He defines is as “capitalizing every form of surplus income and pledging it for bank loans at the going interest rate, personal income over and above basic expenditures, corporate income over and above cash flow….and whatever government can collect in taxes over and above its outlay.”
Banker nirvana depends on securing all economic surplus as interest, says Hudson, or in hard times as bailouts. However, doing it “leaves nothing over for living standards and what (18th and 19th century) economists (called) human capital formation (training and education) required for labor productivity to rise.” Economies need it to thrive.
There’s also “no cash left over for corporations to invest in new tangible capital formation, and no government spending for infrastructure or other social and economic needs.”
Hudson talks about a financialization-caused economic/political “Dark Age,” “a form of neo-feudalism.” Industrial capitalism and people suffer to enrich financial oligarchs. Austerity becomes policy. Debt peonage and hard times follow. Jobs are cut, wages slashed, and living standards shrink. Prioritized banker demands sacrifice fundamental human needs.
February 17, 2012
By Tom Peck
With his long limbs and delicate gait, Lord Mandelson could no doubt manage a quite convincing turn in Thunderbirds.
He’d find Jeff Tracy most convivial: a billionaire astronaut with his own Pacific island, and now, it seems, he even has his own camera-shy friend to pull the strings.
According to the High Court, Nathaniel Rothschild, scion of the banking dynasty and friend of seemingly everyone in the spheres of finance, business and politics, is indeed “puppet master” to the Baron of Hartlepool and Foy.
The banker and Bullingdon boy has lost his libel case against the Daily Mail, which he sued for “substantial damages” over its account of his and Mr Mandelson’s extraordinary trip to Russia in January 2005.
Mr Rothschild claimed he was subjected to “sustained and unjustified” attacks in the May 2010 article, which portrayed him as a “puppet master”, dangling his friend Lord Mandelson in front of the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to ease the passage of colossal business deals.
Messrs Rothschild and Mandelson’s Russian trip would certainly have made entertaining viewing, but maybe not for Thunderbirds fans. Nobody needed rescuing, that’s for certain.
It began on Mr Rothschild’s private jet from the World Economic Forum in Davos to Moscow, where they met Mr Deripaska, the aluminium plant manager who became the richest oligarch of them all, and continued on Mr Deripaska’s private jet to his chalet in Siberia, where “to beat jet lag” they were whipped with birch leaves before plunging themselves into icy water – a traditional Siberian banya.
Less salacious, but seemingly more sordid, was an earlier dinner at Cantinetta Antinori, a fashionable Tuscan restaurant in Moscow. Mr Deripaska, the Mail had claimed, was dining with executives from the US aluminium giant Alcoa, negotiating a £250m deal to buy two of Mr Deripaska’s aluminium plants, at which a stumbling block was an EU import tariff on Russian aluminium. Enter Lord Mandelson, then a lowly Mister, but at the time the EU Trade Commissioner. The deal is done, costing several hundred British jobs, and the tariffs come down.
Mr Rothschild claimed the trip was “purely recreational”, and Associated Newspapers had to admit during litigation that it couldn’t be sure that Mr Mandelson had joined Mr Deripaska at dinner or whether aluminium tariffs were discussed, and in fact the deal had been struck before Mr Mandelson and Mr Rothschild arrived in Moscow. But for Mr Justice Tugenhadt, recreation it was not.
February 14, 2012
By Paul Craig Roberts
The United States government and its NATO puppets have been killing Muslim men, women and children for a decade in the name of bringing them democracy. But is the West itself a democracy?
Skeptics point out that President George W. Bush was put in office by the Supreme Court and that a number of other elections have been decided by electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail. Others note that elected officials represent the special interests that fund their campaigns and not the voters. The bailout of the banks arranged by Bush’s Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs chairman, Henry Paulson, and Washington’s failure to indict any banksters for the fraud that contributed to the financial crisis, are evidence in support of the view that the US government represents money and not the voters.
Recent events in Greece and Italy have created more skepticism of the West’s claim to be democratic.
Two elected European prime ministers, George Papandreou of Greece and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, were forced to resign over the sovereign debt issue. Not even Berlusconi, a billionaire who continues to lead the largest Italian political party, could stand up to the pressure brought by private bankers and unelected European Union officials.
Papandreou lasted only 10 days after announcing on October 31, 2011, that he would let the Greek voters decide in a referendum whether or not to accept the austerity being imposed on the Greek people from the outside. Austerity is the price charged by the EU for lending the Greek government the money to pay to the banks. In other words, the question was austerity or default. However, the question was decided without the participation of the Greek people.
Consequently, Greeks have taken to the streets. The conditions accompanying the latest tranche of the bailout have again brought large numbers of Greeks into the streets of Athens and other cities. Citizens are protesting a 20% cut both in the minimum wage and in pensions larger than 12,000 euros ($15,800) annually and more cuts in public sector jobs. Greek taxes were raised 2.3 billion euros last year and are scheduled to rise another 3.4 billion euros in 2013. The austerity is being imposed despite Greece’s unemployment rate of 21% overall and 48% for those under the age of 25.
One interpretation is that the banks, which were careless in their loans to governments, are forcing the people to save the banks from the consequences of their bad decisions.
Another interpretation is that the European Union is using the sovereign debt crisis to extend its power and control over the individual member states of the EU.
February 6, 2012
By Kurt Nimmo
Not only was Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray to the misnamed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) unconstitutional, but the newly minted federal leviathan itself is in direct violation of Constitution, specifically the Tenth Amendment.
In January, Obama thumbed his nose at Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution. It states that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint” officers to the government.
But as Ron Paul notes in the above video, the new agency – founded under the Federal Reserve dominated Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – is itself an unconstitutional monster that will further degrade the financial health of the country.
Cordray will act as a czar answerable not to the American people, but his masters at the Federal Reserve. Like an EU or Soviet era committee, the CFPB will be run by unelected commissars who will exercise extraordinary power. The agency is part of the Federal Reserve and its budget is not subject to congressional control or oversight.
February 1, 2012
By Robin Emmott
Euro zone unemployment has risen to its highest level since before the euro was introduced, data showed on Tuesday, a day after EU leaders promised to focus on creating millions of new jobs to try to kickstart Europe’s floundering economy.
Joblessness among the 17 countries sharing the single currency rose to 10.4 percent in December, on a par with an upwardly revised November figure, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat said in its release of seasonally-adjusted data.
It was the highest rate since June 1998, before the euro was introduced in 1999.
“We’re looking at a further increase over the coming months, so that is worrying,” said Martin van Vliet, an economist at ING. “Look at Greece, where unemployment is some 20 percent, and it is 23 percent in Spain. At a certain point this could lead to political unrest.”
After two years of debt crisis and budget austerity, the number of Europeans out of work has risen to 16.5 million people, with another 20,000 people without a job in December from the month before.
At a summit on Monday, Europe’s leaders tried to shift the debate from fighting the debt crisis to reviving growth in a bloc that produces 16 percent of global economic output.
They are looking to deploy up to 82 billion euros of unspent funds from the EU’s 2007-2013 budget in an attempt to boost employment. But most economists expect scant progress while the euro zone’s high debtors are compelled to persist with harsh austerity programs under a new ‘fiscal compact’.
January 31, 2012
An EU embargo on oil imports from Iran may push world oil prices to $150 per barrel, the head of Iran’s state oil company said on Sunday.
“It seems that we will witness prices from $120 to $150 in the future,” Ahmad Qalehbani, head of the National Iranian Oil Company, said in an interview with IRNA news agency.
The EU voted on Monday to ban oil imports from Iran. The move came after the Islamic Republic announced earlier this month that it had launched a nuclear enrichment program at a well-protected underground facility near the holy Shia city of Qom.
The program envisages enriching uranium to the 20-percent level, which can easily be turned into fissile warhead material.
The embargo is set to come into force in summer but Iran has said it may cut crude oil shipments to Europe early.
January 30, 2012
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
A report for the Kiel Institute for the World Economy said Portugal would have to run a primary budget surplus of over 11pc of GDP a year to prevent debt dynamics spiralling out of control, even in a benign scenario of 2pc annual growth.
“Portugal’s debt is unsustainable. That is the only possible conclusion,” said David Bencek, the co-author, warning that no country can achieve a primary budget surplus above 5pc for long.
“We won’t know what the trigger will be but once there is a decision on Greece people are going to start looking closely and realise that Portugal is the same position as Greece was a year ago.”
Yields on Portugal’s five-year bonds surged on Thursday to a record 18.9pc, reflecting fears that the country will need a second rescue from the EU-ECB-IMF Troika. Three-year yields hit 21pc.
Antonio Saraiva, head of the Confederation of Portuguese Industry, said the first loan package of €78bn (£65bn) did not acknowledge the vast liabilities of public companies, which have been shut out of global capital markets.
“What is lacking is €30bn. I think we will need a mix of more funds and longer terms to be negotiated with the Troika,” he told Reuters.
As Portugal nears the brink, a chorus of voices exhorted Europe to stop bickering over ideology and grasp the nettle at long last. “It is necessary to bring out the bazooka immediately, before the gunpowder gets wet,” said Mexican president Felipe Calderon.
Mr Calderon said the G20 bloc will have to chip in to ensure that the crisis does not engulf Italy and Spain. “The failure of a containment strategy will mean not only the potential implosion of the euro, but an economic crisis with devastating consequences for the rest of the world. This is a task for all of us in the G-20,” he said.
Olli Rehn, the EU’s economics commissioner, said EU bodies may have to absorb some losses on Greek bonds if Greece’s debt is to stay below the target level of 120pc of GDP by 2020. “There is likely to be some increased need of official sector funding, but not anything dramatic,” he said.
You will not believe what the drug companies get away with! KT explains what Big Pharma is doing to get their drugs to the mass market. Plus, Jon Rappoport stops by to blow the whistle on government corruption and media lies!
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January 11, 2012
By Anthony Gucciardi
Biotech giant Monsanto has been genetically modifying the world’s food supply and subsequently breeding environmental devastation for years, but leaked documents now reveal that Monsanto has also deeply infiltrated the United States government. With leaked reports revealing how U.S. diplomats are actually working for Monsanto to push their agenda along with other key government officials, Monsanto’s grasp on international politics has never been clearer.
Amazingly, the information reveals that the massive corporation is also intensely involved in the passing and regulations concerning the very GM ingredients they are responsible for. In fact, the information released by WikiLeaks reveals just how much power Monsanto has thanks to key positions within the United States government and elsewhere. Not only was it exposed that the U.S. is threatening nations who oppose Monsanto with military-style trade wars, but that many U.S. diplomats actually work directly for Monsanto.
In 2007 it was requested that specific nations inside the European Union be punished for not supporting the expansion of Monsanto’s GMO crops. The request for such measures to be taken was made by Craig Stapleton, the United States ambassador to France and partner to George W. Bush. Despite mounting evidence linking Monsanto’s GM corn to organ damage and environmental devastation, the ambassador plainly calls for ‘target retaliation’ against those not supporting the GM crop. In the leaked documents, Stapleton states:
“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices.”
The undying support of key players within the U.S. towards Monsanto is undeniably made clear not only in this release, but in the legislative decisions taken by organizations such as the FDA and USDA. Legislative decisions such as allowing Monsanto’s synthetic hormone Posilac (rBGH) to be injected into U.S. cows despite being banned in 27 countries. How did Monsanto pull this off?
December 8, 2011
By Ian Traynor
The European commission could be empowered to impose austerity measures on eurozone countries that are being bailed out, usurping the functions of government in countries such as Greece, Ireland, or Portugal.
Bailed-out countries could also be stripped of their voting rights in the European Union, under radical proposals that have been circulating at the highest level in Brussels before this week’s crucial EU summit on the sovereign debt crisis.
A confidential paper for EU leaders by the EU council president, Herman Van Rompuy, who will chair the summit on Thursday and Friday, said eurobonds or the pooling of eurozone debt would be a powerful tool in resolving the crisis, despite fierce German resistance to the idea.
It called for “more intrusive control of national budgetary policies by the EU” and laid out various options for enforcing fiscal discipline supra-nationally.
The two-page paper, obtained by the Guardian, formed the basis for discussions on an interim report tabled by Van Rompuy, the European commission and the Eurogroup of countries that have adopted the euro, which is to be debated on Wednesday among senior officials in an attempt to build a consensus ahead of the summit.