Showing posts with label parteneriat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parteneriat. Show all posts

Monday, January 30, 2017

The templates for recent relationships between the American Head of State and the British Head of Government have not been inspiring. We had Mr Blair’s obsequiousness to Mr Clinton and Mr Bush; Mr Brown’s near-invisibility to Mr Obama; and the conspiracy of cynicism between Mr Cameron and Mr Obama that led to the disastrous (from Mr Cameron’s point of view) interference by the last president in our referendum campaign. Watching the press conference held by Mrs May and President Trump, it seemed this Prime Minister had, commendably, adopted a dignified approach of her own.  Indeed, I would go further: from what emerged, Mrs May seemed to have done a superb job in furthering British interests, and those of the West, in her meeting with Mr Trump. She should be congratulated. She acted precisely in accordance with the realities of our present politics. There was no fawning.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The AP and other media outlets reported earlier this week that emails sent internally to EPA staff mandated a temporary blackout on media releases and social media activity, as well as a freeze on contract approvals and grant awards.  Ericksen said Tuesday that the agency was preparing to greenlight nearly all of the $3.9 billion in pending contracts that were under review. Ericksen said he could not immediately provide details about roughly $100 million in distributions that will remain frozen.  The uncertainty about the contract and grant freeze coupled with the lack of information flowing from the agency since Trump took office have raised fears that states and other recipients could lose essential funding for drinking water protection, hazardous waste oversight and a host of other programs. The agency also took a potential first step Tuesday toward killing environmental rules completed as President Barack Obama's term wound down. At least 30 were targeted in the Federal Register for delayed implementation, including updated pollution rulings for several states, renewable fuel standards and limits on the amount of formaldehyde that can leach from wood products.  Jared Blumenfeld, who served until last year as EPA's regional administrator for California and the Pacific Northwest, compared what is happening to a "hostile takeover" in the corporate world.  "Ericksen and these other folks that have been brought in ... have basically put a hold on everything," said Blumenfeld, who regularly speaks with former colleagues still at the agency. "The level of mismanagement being exercised during this transition is startling and the impact on the public is alarming."  For example, he said EPA employees aren't clear whether they can direct contractors who handle all of California's Superfund sites. Some EPA employees have taken to their own social media accounts to say what's happening inside the agency, despite fears of retaliation.  "There's a strong sense of resistance," Blumenfeld said.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The International Accounting Standards Board® (the Board) today issued a new accounting Standard, called IFRS 16 Leases. It replaces accounting requirements introduced more than 30 years ago that are no longer considered fit for purpose and is a major revision of the way in which companies account for leases. Leasing provides an important and flexible source of financing for many companies. However, the old lease accounting Standard (IAS 17 Leases) makes it difficult for investors and others to get an accurate picture of a company’s lease assets and liabilities, particularly for industries such as the airline, retail and transport sectors.  Listed companies using IFRS Standards or US GAAP are estimated to have around US$3.3 trillion of lease commitments; over 85 per cent of which do not appear on their balance sheets*. That is because leases to date have been categorized as either ‘finance leases’ (which are reported on the balance sheet) or ‘operating leases’ (which are disclosed only in the notes to the financial statements).  This somewhat arbitrary distinction made it difficult for investors to compare companies. It also meant that investors and others had to estimate the effects of a company’s off balance sheet lease obligations, which in practice often led to overestimating the liabilities arising from those obligations. IFRS 16 solves this problem by requiring all leases to be reported on a company’s balance sheet as assets and liabilities.  Accompanying the Standard, the IASB has also published a separate Effects Analysis, which outlines the costs and benefits of the Standard. It clearly demonstrates the need for the Standard and that the benefits outweigh the costs.  The Board has given careful consideration to feedback received and has introduced several cost-saving measures for preparers, such as exempting ‘small ticket’ items as well as leases of 12 months or less. The publication of a separate Effects Analysis follows on from a report to the IFRS Foundation Trustees in November 2014 by the Effects Analysis Consultative Group. The Effects Analysis can be accessed here. A separate Project Summary, including an overview of the project history and how the Board has responded to stakeholders’ comments during the development of the Standard, can be found here. *Based on a sample of 30,000 listed companies using IFRS or US GAAP, over 14,000 companies disclose information about off balance sheet leases in their 2014 annual reports. The future payments for off balance sheet leases for those companies totalled US$2.9 trillion (on an undiscounted basis).

Sunday, January 10, 2016

For the second time this past week, Chinese stock markets shut early after its "circuit breaking" mechanism, that was introduced on January 1, was breached within the first 30 minutes of trading. This triggered a sharp fall in the Shanghai Composite index - 7pc.
The slump in the stock market came as Chinese authorities guided the yuan lower - allowing it to decline by 0.5pc, its most since August, which resulted in a mass sell-off, otherwise known as Black Monday. Stocks should be valued based on the dividend yield not future earnings which never are realised. If debt had been priced correctly this manic stock market could have been easily controlled.  Any market in investments is inherently unstable due to the positive feedback at the heart of the trading. The problem is that unstable systems are very difficult to stabilise and often any atemps to do so can lead to further instability. The heart of the problem is that a price variation is reinforced by herd mentality. If the price goes up, then more people buy rather than fewer as would occur for most non investment items. The reverse is also true. This is worse when there is wider share ownership, as more investors act irrationally rather than based on reasoned consideration of company fundamentals. Possible other devices to consider are shorting, higher stamp duty, minimum length of share ownership, discouraging wider share ownership and price reinforcement. What is really needed is the investment equivalent of a car shock absorber combined with something that cuts or attenuated the positive feed back. My favourite is minimum length of share ownership. If a stock is subject to a speculative price hike then investors are less likely to put more in if they know that they cannot get it out in the short term. In short, short term investments are a contributory factor to price instability.  Having consulted the oracle, I get that ominous hexagram known as the Preponderance of the Great. Too much weight in the middle; all unbalanced, and clearly away from the Tao.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sixteen Romanian energy projects are included by the European Commission on the list of projects of common interest (PCI) to achieve the objectives of the Energy Union, according to the first annual report on this initiative. By including them on the list, projects are eligible for funding via Connecting Europe financing facility.  European Commissioner for Climate and Energy, Arias Cañete, said at the launch of the report: “A modern and reliable energy infrastructure is an essential element for the energy to circulate freely in Europe. All these projects will support the integration of energy markets, will diversify sources and supply routes and will end the isolation of some Member States. Our funds, invested in these projects, will serve the goal of providing to all Europeans clean energy at affordable prices.” Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President responsible for energy union, said: “After nine months, we can say with confidence that we did not strayed from the path to realize the Energy Union. My messages for 2016 are clear. First, the EU should continue to play a leading role in the transition to a low carbon economy. Second, this transition should be socially equitable and focused on the consumer. Third, geopolitical challenges that we faced this year will not disappear. Also, 2016 will be the year when we will establish a robust system of governance, ensuring predictability and transparency, the environment that investors need. In conclusion, 2016 will be a year of accomplishments!”

Friday, September 18, 2015

The European Central Bank (ECB) has cut its inflation and growth forecasts for 2015 and the next two years.  It expects inflation in the eurozone to remain "very low" for some years as threats to economic growth increase.  ECB president Mario Draghi said Europe's economic recovery would continue, "albeit at a somewhat weaker pace than expected".  The euro fell sharply as Mr Draghi also hinted that the bank could expand its stimulus programme if necessary.  He was speaking after the ECB kept its main interest rate on hold at 0.05%.  The ECB is now forecasting economic growth in the eurozone of 1.4% in 2015, down from 1.5%, and 1.7% in 2016, compared with its previous projection of 1.9%.   However, Mr Draghi said that risks to the outlook for economic growth and inflation had worsened since mid-August, when the latest projections were calculated.  "Lower commodity prices, a stronger euro, somewhat lower growth, have increased the risk to a sustainable path of inflation towards 2%," he told a news conference in Frankfurt.  The euro fell sharply following Mr Draghi's comments, dropping a cent against the dollar to $1.1127. He also admitted that inflation could turn negative in the coming months. The bank expected inflation to be 0.1% for 2015, rising to 1.5% in 2016 and 1.7% in 2017, dampened by lower energy prices.  The ECB made no change to its bond-buying programme, but Mr Draghi said it could be extended beyond its planned conclusion in September 2016 if necessary.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A great part of the European project is tainted with the fact that the Dutch, Belgians Luxembourgers do not like the Germans, the French do not like the Brits, nobody likes the Spanish etc.and so it goes on all over Europe. Suppose the big plan is to merge all the debt into one big pile and as one the then union explodes dissolving all monetary ties as no one will be able to untangle the debt pile. The result is a complete mess almost parity with one big nuclear bomb over the entire EU. Except the working man and woman wake up not to radiation sickness but to an empty bank account and little or no coherent government structure or judiciary to collect fresh debts such as utilities, etc. Begin day one...Germany is set on a collision course with Brussels' visions for deeper eurozone integration, by setting out its objections to greater financial risk-sharing in the single currency. Berlin is determined to break the toxic link between distressed banks and indebted governments, and will insist on new "bail-in" procedures to impose losses on private sector creditors in the event of another financial crisis. The eurozone has been thrown into turmoil since 2009, after the banking systems of Ireland, Spain, and Greece were rescued by taxpayer money, loading debt on to government balance sheets. As Europe's largest creditor nation, Germany wants senior bank bondholders and private sector depositors to take the hit when banking or government solvency is threatened.   The red lines have been laid out in a Germany finance ministry "non-paper" seen by the Financial Times. It will be presented by Wolfang Schaeuble at an informal gathering of European finance ministers in Luxembourg today. "The restructuring of banks without taxpayers’ money will function only if sufficient resources are available for a bail-in and if member states ensure that the bail-in is legally enforceable," said the paper.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Chinese government’s heavy handed efforts to contain recent stock market volatility – the latest move prohibits short-selling and sales by major shareholders – have seriously damaged its credibility. But China’s policy failures should come as no surprise. Policymakers there are far from the first to mismanage financial markets, currencies, and trade. Many European governments, for example, suffered humiliating losses defending currencies that were misaligned in the early 1990s.
Still, China’s economy remains a source of significant uncertainty. Indeed, although the performance of China’s stock market and that of its real economy has not been closely correlated, a major slowdown is under way. That is a serious concern, occupying finance ministries, central banks, trading desks, and importers and exporters worldwide. China’s government believed it could engineer a soft landing in the transition from torrid double-digit economic growth, fuelled by exports and investments, to steady and balanced growth underpinned by domestic consumption, especially of services. And, in fact, it enacted some sensible policies and reforms. But rapid growth obscured many problems. For example, officials, seeking to secure promotions by achieving short-term economic targets, misallocated resources; basic industries such as steel and cement built up vast excess capacity; and bad loans accumulated on the balance sheets of banks and local governments.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The faceless money men invent billions of Euros at the press of a button to lend the the Greeks - when (not if) they default, real Greek assets - gold, mortgage books, land, will have to be handed over as "repayment" - good business if you can get it. The Greeks will not be allowed to default until the country is stripped bare of all assets. This is the monitory system we now operate - money as debt...Please note that the Germans have "tabled the idea of a second €5bn bridging loan in order to extend talks with Athens. " The idea being to show the German taxpayer that all non-EZ countries will be forced to subsidise what is a solely EZ problem in order to save the blushes of Frau Merkel, by once again using the EFSM. As per usual we will hear all sorts of nonsense about how they are protecting the UK taxpayers' money by... giving more of it to the EU. At what point will they realise that this is all they want the UK in the EU for, money and nothing else. All of the nonsense that Cameron et alia spout about the UK being at the heart of the EU is worthless, it is time to leave this fatally flawed institution.  How the supposedly left wing anti-Capitalist Greek government cannot see this I do not know. Defaulting is the Greeks' only hope - but they will not be allowed to.  The biggest victim of a cut in Greek defense spending wil be the German armaments industry who foisted their goods on the country in the first place. In fact the whole of German manufacturing will be affected by guts in Greek spending. Why don't the German banks just cut out the middle man and just buy German goods directly rather that go to the bother of lending the Greek government money which ot just gives to the population to buy German cars and then take a hair cut on the loans! It's a pretty old trick. Disguise the real problem by burying it inside a pile of bullshit.  It's fraud and if any euro country accepts the terms of this fairy story, they are guilty of financial deception.  This is such a shameless distortion of monetary discipline that the perpetrators can have no possible creditworthiness in the governance of the European Union, and if the Chinese wish to waste their currency on the Greek problem, more fool them  And they are no fools, so I don't believe the scaremongering put about by the Americans....The Greeks are playing another blinder here. The EU and their stupid qualified majority mechanism are poised to repeat their earlier blunders - again. Do they really think that Greece is ever going to be a successful eurozone member? Of course they don't, they just can't stomach the thought of the euro being reversible. Whatever they are doing for Greece it certainly isn't out of any sense of goodwill towards them.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"The United States is a nation-state with enough of a sense of shared political community to accept majoritarian democratic rule. Unlike the eurozone. Germany and France sharing a government? Hard to imagine. Germany and Greece? Impossible." An excellent point, but the writer seems to ignore the obvious conclusion: that a common currency cannot exist where political traditions and aims are so incompatibly diverse. The point about the US - constantly swept under the carpet - is that for all the foundation state freedoms, no single state (not even the southern Confederacy) was completely self-governing, racially and linguistically distinctive and hostile to its neighbours for any length of time - and certainly not for a millennium. It became a country dominated by the politics and philosophy of English liberalism and united colloquially by the English language.   The glaring exceptions were weeded out by the Louisiana Purchase and the wars with Mexico.  France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain (for example) are the five most unlikely candidates for political union imaginable.   The way Greece has been treated is treason. Treason against basic human rights, treason against the very reason of existence of the EU, treason against the fathers of Democracy as we (thought to) intend it, treason against any decent and modern view of society... I am not Greek, but I do sympathize for them. and if I will be burdened with £20 to help them pay their debts, well...better reason than pay £300 for a stroll to Parliament, is it?
Shame on all European politicians...but...hey! Where the REAL POLITICIANS are...? all gone fishing, I guess...only profiting gangsters remained...that's why the likes of SNP and UKIP are taking spaces...So, indeed, shame on all of us that defend a society based on money.
I am not Labour, but...welcome Corbyn! You may be able to bring back some common sense here!

Monday, July 27, 2015

European Union officials are bracing themselves for the possibility that Greece’s negotiations with its lenders will not be concluded in time for Athens to receive funding to pay a 3.5-billion-euro bond held by the European Central Bank on August 20, meaning a second bridge loan could be needed.
Greece received an initial loan of 7.16 billion euros last week to meet another maturing bond held by the ECB and repay some 2 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund. It had been hoped that a third bailout could be agreed in time for Greece to receive funding before the next ECB-held bond is due on August 20 but some officials believe that talks may not be completed before the beginning of December. Greece’s total funding needs for August stand at around 5 billion euros as another payment to the IMF is also due next month. A European official who wished to remain anonymous told Kathimerini that the European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM) may be tapped again next month – as it was last week – to provide bridge financing to the government until a third bailout has been agreed and approved by Greece’s Parliament, as well as others in the eurozone.
In Brussels, European Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Wednesday he is hoping the bailout deal can be signed by mid-August, while accepting that Greece has to meet a “punishing” schedule. “After months of deadlock, we are now making swift progress on the implementation of the euro summit agreement,” said the commissioner.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Greece’s public debt is 180pc of GDP. The loans are in a currency that the country does not control. It is therefore foreign currency debt. The IMF knows that Greece cannot possibly pay this down by draconian austerity – the policy already implemented for five years with such self-defeating effects – and the longer it pretends otherwise, the more its authority drains away. It is has pushed for debt relief behind closed doors but only half-heartedly, unwilling to confront the EMU creditor powers head on. Objectively, it is acting as an imperialist lackey – as Greek Marxists might say.  Indeed, it has brought about the worst possible outcome. The Fund’s man on the ground in Athens – Poul Thomsen – has pushed the austerity agenda with a curious passion that shocks even officials in the European Commission, pussy cats by comparison. This would be justifiable (sort of) if the other side of the usual IMF bargain were available: debt relief and devaluation. This how IMF programmes normally work: impose tough reforms but also wipe the slate clean on debt and restore crippled countries to external viability.  It is a very successful formula. On the rare occasion when the IMF goes wrong it is usually because it tries to prop up a fixed-exchange rate long past its sell-by date.  All of this went out of the window in Greece. The IMF enforced brute liquidation without compensating stimulus or relief. It claimed that its policies would lead to a 2.6pc contraction of GDP in 2010 followed by brisk recovery.  What in fact happened was six years of depression, a deflationary spiral, a 26pc fall in GDP, 60pc youth unemployment, mass exodus of the young and the brightest, chronic hysteresis that will blight Greece’s prospects for a decade to come, and to cap it all the debt ratio exploded because of the mathematical – and predictable – denominator effect of shrinking nominal GDP.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Excerpt from TOWER OF BASEL: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank that Runs the World by Adam LeBor ... : The world’s most exclusive club has eighteen members. They gather every other month on a Sunday evening at 7 p.m. in conference room E in a circular tower block whose tinted windows overlook the central Basel railway station. Their discussion lasts for one hour, perhaps an hour and a half. Some of those present bring a colleague with them, but the aides rarely speak during this most confidential of conclaves. The meeting closes, the aides leave, and those remaining retire for dinner in the dining room on the eighteenth floor, rightly confident that the food and the wine will be superb. The meal, which continues until 11 p.m. or midnight, is where the real work is done. The protocol and hospitality, honed for more than eight decades, are faultless. Anything said at the dining table, it is understood, is not to be repeated elsewhere.  As a result of allegations that the BIS had helped the Germans loot assets from occupied countries during World War II, the Bretton Woods Conference recommended the "liquidation of the Bank for International Settlements at the earliest possible moment".[6] This resulted in the BIS being the subject of a disagreement between the non-governmental U.S. and British delegations. The liquidation of the bank was supported by other European delegates, as well as the United States (including Harry Dexter White, Secretary of the Treasury, and Henry Morgenthau),[7] but opposed by John Maynard Keynes, head of the British delegation.
Fearing that the BIS would be dissolved by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Keynes went to Morgenthau hoping to prevent the dissolution, or have it postponed, but the next day the dissolution of the BIS was approved. However, the liquidation of the bank was never actually undertaken.[8] In April 1945, the new U.S. president Harry S. Truman and the British government suspended the dissolution, and the decision to liquidate the BIS was officially reversed in 1948.[9]
One strongly suspects that Roosevelt was assassinated because of this. Cui Bono. Ditto Kennedy, who opposed the Federal Reserve, an unconstitutional abomination, with his famous executive order 11110. Again that was quietly forgotten about after the events in Dallas. One must always analyse subsequent events to understand who benefited from these atrocities... The BIS has the right to communicate in code and to send and receive correspondence in bags covered by the same protection as embassies, meaning they cannot be opened. The BIS is exempt from Swiss taxes. Its employees do not have to pay income tax on their salaries, which are usually generous, designed to compete with the private sector. The general man- ager’s salary in 2011 was 763,930 Swiss francs, while head of departments were paid 587,640 per annum, plus generous allowances. The bank’s extraordinary legal privileges also extend to its staff and directors. Senior managers enjoy a special status, similar to that of diplomats, while carrying out their duties in Switzerland, which means their bags cannot be searched (unless there is evidence of a blatant criminal act), and their papers are inviolable. The central bank governors traveling to Basel for the bimonthly meetings enjoy the same status while in Switzerland. All bank officials are immune under Swiss law, for life, for all the acts carried out during the discharge of their duties. The bank is a popular place to work and not just because of the salaries. Around six hundred staff come from over fifty countries. The atmosphere is multi-national and cosmopolitan, albeit very Swiss, emphasizing the bank’s hierarchy. Like many of those working for the UN or the IMF, some of the staff of the BIS, especially senior management, are driven by a sense of mission, that they are working for a higher, even celestial purpose and so are immune from normal considerations of accountability and transparency....The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), is the bank for central banks. Its current members [ZH: as of 2013] include Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve; Sir Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England; Mario Draghi, of the European Central Bank; Zhou Xiaochuan of the Bank of China; and the central bank governors of Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Canada, India, and Brazil. Jaime Caruana, a former governor of the Bank of Spain, the BIS’s general manager, joins them.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gold Rush ??? -A few years ago annual production was 13,000,0000 ozs,it is now 10,000,000 ozs worldwide,although figures for Russia and China are vague and possibly unreliable.We do know,however,that they do not export in any volume that which they do mine.  I have a friend ,a board member ,of a company ,that produces 1,000,000 ozs per s no secret that they have enough ore above ground for about two years production,they are ,at the moment,not mining.  Now,onto consumption,prefaced by the admission that I reside in Thailand,and I am speaking as I see the situation here and indeed the surrounding countries of S.E.Asia.  The general population buy gold to keep for weddings and the rainy day syndrome.They do not buy as an investment or for trading,the spread is too great.  The Chinese will,if the coming year is thought to be unfavourable.  India,the largest consumer, placed tax on imports a couple of years ago of  (I believe) 5%.  My question to my self at the time was answered by an Indian who was trying to come to an agreement with the company mentioned above,to no avail of course,when he reminded me of our conversation of sometime before,years in fact,when he predicted that middle class Hindu brides,say five or ten million every year,would swallow world production.  The presumption I now have confirmed to myself is that most markets are manipulated,you and I will be allowed to gamble in shares bonds and propery,because they are our decisions and will be our fault.The underpinning we used to enjoy fifteen years ago ,is no more.Good luck and God bless you all ... $1000 dollars of gold stuffed under the mattress a hundred years ago would be more valuable today than $1000 in cash stuffed under the same mattress, so people saying pieces of paper issued by a central bank are a better bet than gold are clearly talking nonsense, how are those Hapsburg thalers, Reich marks or Czarist rubles doing these days?  But, and it is a huge but, gold only retains its value in a civilized society, it is spectacularly useless when society breaks down a fact about which many gold buyers seem to be completely unaware. How the heck do you think gold coins will save your neck when the Morlocks are coming over the garden fence?  The mere fact of owning gold will mark you out for immediate attack. The first time you go to the market to buy your bag of rice with a gold sovereign is the moment your fate is sealed.  Historically Jews and other persecuted groups kept their wealth in gold as they figured it was their passport when the crisis came, all it meant was that the bad guys knew to strip them naked and steal their clothes and luggage after chasing them out while the peasants ransacked their homes looking for the secret stash.  Think of those caches of gold dug up by archeologists, which we are told were hidden to keep it safe from the Vikings and ask yourself how much use all that gold was to its original owner. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Searching for support and "handouts" (from the US) as usual ...

German Chancellor (Merkel) arrives in Washington late  this sunday for upcoming  meetings with President Obama that start Monday..."We think it's wise to have an (...) accord tied to achievements and bench marks,"  = this is a funny statement though.  Anyway,  here's what they will talk about ( this is the "public agenda" - background talks about further economic support from the FED not made public by neither of the participants - Germany needs help for sure):
"One of the most pressing issues is the crisis in Ukraine," said Peter Wittig, Germany's ambassador to Washington. "All of us are concerned this is a spiraling military conflict. We want to explore the diplomatic options."  Merkel's visit comes as Obama considers providing modern weapons to Ukraine, which has been losing territory in the country's eastern regions to pro-Russian separatists armed with tanks and personnel carriers sporting Russia's most advanced armor.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Saturday asked Western leaders at the Munich Security Conference to push for a quick cease-fire and defensive weapons capable of countering the separatists' armored assaults... Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed Friday during a meeting in Moscow to draft a peace plan for Ukraine based on ideas proposed by Putin and Poroshenko, but previous agreements have fallen apart even as the conflict has resulted in more than 5,300 dead in Ukraine.  Merkel has opposed sending weapons to Ukraine. On Saturday, she said she "cannot imagine any situation in which improved equipment for the Ukrainian army leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes he will lose militarily," according to the Associated Press.  Wittig, who briefed reporters in Washington in advance of Merkel's visit, said that if the West delivered weapons to Ukraine, "Moscow would probably reciprocate" by providing separatists with more weapons.  "How far are we willing to escalate that military spiral? I'm not sure that we are," Wittig said.
Finally, the two leaders will discuss a thorny trade pact, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would unite the economies of the USA and the 28-nations of the European Union. The deal would eliminate most trade barriers for many products and financial services.
Backers say it could produce free-market prosperity, but the negotiations have also been controversial because the pact would increase competition. Greece's new leftist ruling party, Syriza, has said it opposes the plan.
Obama and Merkel will also discuss a training center Germany is setting up in Erbil, in Kurdish-controlled Iraq, to train and provide arms to Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting against the Islamic State, which has seized territory in Iraq and Syria. Merkel will also discuss German interest in pursuing other tracks of destabilizing the militant group, including counter-financing and supporting messages that de-legitimize the group's claims that its actions, including the murder by fire last month of a captured Jordanian pilot, are backed by Muslim religious ideals.
Source - USA Today

Sunday, January 18, 2015

....and a lot of BS - since the "FED" pumped trillions of dollars in the Bundesbank in the last 3 years

Germany has balanced its budget for the first time in more than 40 years, and pressed eurozone partners to follow its austere example rather than try to stimulate their stagnant economies with borrowing or central bank money-printing.   Berlin had aimed to achieve the so-called "schwarze Null" (zero deficit) this year, but strong tax revenues and lower debt service costs due to rock-bottom interest rates helped it meet the goal a year early in 2014, the finance ministry said.   It is the first time Germany has balanced its budget since 1969 .  Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has rebuffed calls from EU partners, led by France and Italy, and international organizations such as the IMF and the OECD to spend some of the fiscal windfall on growth-promoting public investment.   Germany's announcement came nine days before the European Central Bank (ECB) may decide to launch large-scale purchases of eurozone government bonds in an effort to boost growth and avert deflation in the 19-nation currency area. The European Commission set out detailed rules on Tuesday for a planned €315bn investment programme over the next three years, involving no new public money in deference to German objections.  Public investment and structural reforms could win limited leeway for countries breaking EU budget rules, it said. That reduces the likelihood of tough penalties on France or Italy, the eurozone's second and third largest economies, when their fiscal plans are reviewed again in March.   Countries that put capital into a proposed European Fund for Strategic Investment would not be penalized if it tips them over the EU's deficit limit of 3pc of gross domestic product. However, those that already have an deficit in excess of the ceiling would win no indulgence.  The mood of self-congratulation in Berlin over the balanced budget made any easing of fiscal policy seem unlikely, even though the German economy is expected to slow this year. 
Far from using the leeway to invest more in creaking public infrastructure or cut taxes to stimulate weak domestic demand, politicians in Ms Merkel's conservative CDU party said the government should now focus on paying down the country's debt.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

No one in Brussels or other EU capitals is surprised to learn that Jean-Claude Juncker’s Luxembourg was, and is, a tax haven. And no one doubts that the new president of the European commission, a crafty survivor whose political longevity is peerless in Europe, knew enough about the vast tax avoidance schemes practised there, even if he did not bother to master all the fine print.
The question is whether Juncker, a little more than a month into a five-year term as head of the EU executive, can weather the storm and credibly perform a poacher-turned-gamekeeper role of setting up an EU regime to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance.  There are few leaders in Europe who understand the workings of the EU as well as the former prime minister of Luxembourg. With the exception of Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, Juncker is the only leader left who took part in the negotiation of the Maastricht treaty more than 20 years ago which dealt with the impact on the EU of German reunification and the process to create the euro.  He has been attending EU summits uninterruptedly for 20 years. No one at the summit table can boast that record. He knows everyone. He has friends everywhere. A fixer, a mediator between France and Germany (needed right now as much as ever); the consummate EU insider, he also knows where the EU’s skeletons are buried.  Asked about the impact of the Luxleaks on Juncker’s credibility and the authority of the new commission, the commission vice-president, Jyrki Katainen, squirmed and left the room. “I trust him,” he told the Guardian. “I’m not in a position to give any advice … We have to focus on what the president has done by himself and not done.”  Last March, the EU’s centre-right leaders, including the paramount leader, Angela Merkel of Germany, met in Dublin and backed Juncker to become the next commission chief after he was unseated last year as Luxembourg’s prime minister.  They will not make life difficult for him now. For them, mayhem at the top of the commission would seriously destabilise an EU desperately trying to come up with policies to drag Europe out of years of crisis, while anti-EU populists give the leaders a hard time across the continent. The consensus on not rocking the Juncker boat was evident in the European parliament last month. The far-right populists, led by Nigel Farage of Britain’s Ukip, Marine Le Pen of France’s Front National and the Five Star movement mavericks of Italy’s Beppe Grillo, tabled a vote of no confidence in Juncker.  Everyone else held their noses. Even Juncker critics on the left refused to back the motion, while the mainstream Christian and social democrats, and liberals all solidly supported the president.  Juncker took the entire 28-strong commission to the parliament, defended himself after the first round of Luxembourg leaks, and walked away unharmed. Besides, in the endless turf wars waged between rival EU institutions in Brussels, the parliament views Juncker as “its” commission chief – it played a key role in getting him the job in the first place – and will not challenge him too severely.  If there is pressure on Juncker, it will come not from the EU political elite, but from the media in the form of further revelations. Officials and diplomats say his fate will hinge on how compelling the evidence against him is. But the competition department of the commission he heads is also investigating Luxembourg on the grounds that some of the “comfort letters”, tax rulings, and avoidance strategies agreed by his then administration amounted to state aid in breach of EU competition rules. The cases of Fiat and Amazon are being investigated, while Skype may have to be added to what seems certain to become a long, and lengthening list.
Juncker insists his position at the head of the commission will not impair the credibility and impartiality of its investigation.  Rather than jeopardise his position, the political elites in Germany and France and elsewhere will exploit the Juncker scandal to push an agenda bringing more transparency to tax arrangements to counter “tax-dumping” between EU governments.
Juncker claims to be a champion of such moves, suggesting either a Damascene conversion to the cause or a calculation that his political future depends on being seen to be a born-again proponent of fair taxation.  For the moment at least, Juncker looks tarnished by the disclosures, but not really in fear for his job. Although he is free to resign, he cannot be removed as an individual. The entire European commission would have to go, felled by a vote of no confidence in the European parliament. This is a remote prospect at the moment. And for this to happen, national leaders, chief among them Merkel, would have to signal that Juncker’s time is up and then press their allies in the parliament into organising the commission’s collapse. No one in Brussels at present is talking in such terms.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Authorities in France’s second-largest city have come under fire for issuing its homeless with ID cards that detail their health issues.  Human rights groups and government ministers have slammed the “yellow triangle cards”, comparing them to the Nazi-era Star of David that was sewn onto Jewish people’s clothes during the Holocaust.  “This is scandalous, it’s stigmatizing,” Christophe Louis, president of the homeless charity Collectif Morts de la Rue, told The Local.   “Wearing something that shows the whole world what illnesses you have is not only discriminating but it also breaches all medical confidentiality,” he said, adding that the symbolism in the design of the card is outrageous.  “Being identified by either a star or a triangle is horrific,” he said.  French human rights group La Ligue des droits de l’Homme said it was troubled by the resemblance “of this card and the yellow star that the Jews had to wear during World War II.” President François Hollande’s government in Paris has also reacted sharply to the initiative.  “I’m shocked. Forcing homeless people to carry a yellow triangle indicating the illnesses they might have is outrageous. You don’t point the finger at the poorest,” Social Affairs Minister Marisol told French daily Le Parisien in an interview published Thursday.  “You don’t write their illnesses on their clothes. Medical confidentiality, in particular, is a fundamental right. I want this local initiative to be stopped,” she said.  The card, an initiative Marseille's Town Hall and social services, identifies the person with his or her photo, name and date of birth.   It also specifies whether the person has any illnesses or allergies. The front of the card is adorned with a yellow triangle.  In their defence authorities say the purpose is to help health workers quickly come to the aid of a homeless person who has fallen ill or is in need of aid.  Over 100 of the identifications have been distributed already.  On Wednesday, about 100 activists and homeless people protested against the initiative outside the city’s town hall.   For its part Marseille Town Hall has been outraged by the criticism it has endured by issuing “the card that saves lives”.   In a statement given to The Local, one of Marseille’s deputy mayors Xavier Mery said: “I’m appalled by the absurd controversy surrounding this help card distributed by the SAMU (social medical emergency services)   "[The reaction] not only questions the necessity of a scheme for homeless people but also the commitment of the city, the SAMU and volunteers to come to the aid of those who need it the most”.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Internationally renowned Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko has donated 1m roubles (£12,000; $19,000) to a theatre in rebel-held eastern Ukraine and posed with a rebel flag. Netrebko said her gift to the Donetsk opera and ballet theatre was "a step to support art where it is needed now".   Russian Channel 5 TV showed her giving the cheque to Oleg Tsarev, a leader of the armed separatists in Donetsk.   Russian government support for the rebels has been denounced by the West.  The famous soprano made her donation in St Petersburg, where she is a star of the Mariinsky Theatre. She said performers in Donetsk were struggling on with their art despite the freezing cold.  Other top names in Russian culture have also voiced support for President Vladimir Putin's stance on Ukraine, notably the government's annexation of Crimea and support for the pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk.  The Russian celebrities backing the Kremlin over Ukraine include variety singer Iosif Kobzon, film director Nikita Mikhalkov, conductor Valery Gergiev and viola virtuoso Yuri Bashmet. ...  The European Union has amended sanctions against Russia’s biggest lenders like Sberbank and VTB on long-term financing, and eased some sanctions on the oil industry. The EU says Russia’s biggest lenders - Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank and Rosselkhozbank - will now be allowed access to long –term financing should the solvency of their European subsidiaries be at risk.   The announcement released Friday refers to “loans that have a specific and documented objective to provide emergency funding to meet solvency and liquidity criteria for legal persons established in the Union, whose proprietary rights are owned for more than 50 percent by any entity referred to in Annex III [Russian banks – Ed.].” The EU has also specified the terms and conditions on which it can lift the ban on providing equipment for oil exploration.   Its supply is still banned to Russia itself, or the exclusive economic zone and offshore territories. However, EU said it may “grant an authorization where the sale, supply, transfer or export of the items is necessary for the urgent prevention or mitigation of an event likely to have a serious and significant impact on human health and safety or the environment.”  This basically clarifies the position of the latest set of EU sanctions. The notion of “Arctic oil exploration” means the embargo is applied to oil exploration on the offshore Arctic. “Deep water exploration” means any operation extracting oil carried out deeper than 150 meters below the surface.  The sanctions target the finance, energy and defense sectors. In July 2014 the EU issued a “sectoral list” which includes Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) and Vnesheconombank. The lenders were cut off from long-term (over 30 days) international financing.  The EU has banned three Russian energy companies Rosneft, Gazpromneft and Transneft from raising long-term debt on European capital markets. It has also halted services Russia needs to explore oil and gas in the Arctic, deep sea and shale extraction projects.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Everyone came to realize that efforts to deepen Ukraine's ties with the EU had failed. But no one at the time was fully aware of the consequences the failure would have: that it would lead to one of the world's biggest crises since the end of the Cold War; that it would result in the redrawing of European borders; and that it would bring the Continent to the brink of war. It was the moment Europe lost Russia.  For Ukraine, the failure in Vilnius resulted in disaster. Since its independence in 1991, Ukraine has strived to orient itself towards the EU while at the same time taking pains to ensure that those actions don't damage its relations with Moscow. The choice between West and East, which both Brussels and Moscow have forced Kiev to make, has had devastating consequences for the fragile country.  But the impact of that fateful evening in Vilnius goes far beyond Ukraine's borders. Some 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and almost 70 years after the end of World War II, Europe is once again divided. The estrangement between the Russians and the Europeans is growing with Moscow and the West more inimical toward each other today than during the final phase of the Cold War. It's a reality that many in Europe have long sought to ignore. The story of the run-up to Vilnius is one filled with errors in judgment, misunderstandings, failures and blind spots. It is a chronicle of foreign policy failure foretold -- on all sides. Russia underestimated the will of Ukrainians to steer their country toward the EU and was overly confident in its use of its political power over Kiev as a leverage.  For its part, the EU had negotiated a nearly 1,000-page treaty, but officials in Brussels hadn't paid close enough attention to the realities of those power politics. Even in Berlin, officials for too long didn't take Russian concerns -- about the encroachment of NATO and the EU into Eastern Europe -- seriously enough. The idea that Moscow might be prepared to use force to prevent a further expansion of the Western sphere of influence didn't seem to register with anyone.
With the special role it plays and the special responsibility it has for Europe, the meltdown also represented a failure for Germany. Foreign policy has long been considered one of Chancellor Angela Merkel's greatest strengths, but even she ignored the warning signs. Merkel has proven herself over the years to be a deft mediator who can defuse tensions or work out concrete solutions. But crisis management alone is not enough for good foreign policy. Missing in this crisis was a wider view and the ability to recognize a conflict taking shape on the horizon. Instead, officials in Berlin seemed to believe that because nobody wanted conflict, it wouldn't materialize.
Merkel did say at the summit that, "The EU and Germany have to talk to Russia. The Cold War is over." But the insight came too late.