Showing posts with label reuters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reuters. Show all posts

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The extraordinary public rebuke by the United States’ closest surveillance partner has revealed an emerging characteristic of Donald Trump’s White House: a willingness to antagonize even its allies instead of admitting error.  GCHQ, the UK surveillanceance mammoth intimately linked to the National Security Agency (NSA), has taken public exception to an allegation repeated from the White House podium that, if true, would probably shatter the Five Eyes intelligence alliance so dear to both Washington and London.  Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, credulously repeated on Thursday an account by a Fox News pundit, Andrew Napolitano, that GCHQ laundered surveillance on Trump at the behest of Barack Obama. Napolitano, who is in no position to actually know, made the allegation apparently to explain away the emerging consensus, even from senior Republicans on the intelligence committees, that there is no basis to Trump’s claim that Obama ordered that surveillance.  GCHQ practically never responds to stories about its operations. But the implications of this one are severe. There would be no way for the NSA and GCHQ, which are joined at the hip, to continue their partnership if GCHQ was willing to interfere in the US political process.  On Friday, 10 Downing Street said it had received assurances from the White House that it will not repeat the allegation, which suggests that the White House did not realize the implications of what it said. The context matters here. Spicer repeated Napolitano’s allegation for the same reason Napolitano made it: to defend Trump’s evidence-free assertion, on 4 March, that Obama had Trump’s team placed under surveillance.

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).


Thursday, December 3, 2015

There are three parallels between the Eurozone and the migration crises: the hybrid nature of European governance structures that are little prepared to face up to major external challenges; the preeminence of Germany as a key player; and the important role of a peripheral country – Greece – as a conduit for an external challenge that is becoming an internal crisis.  These issues will determine whether and how the EU will overcome the refugee crisis. They are also, all the same, the areas in which the EU’s capacities have been most stretched by the Eurozone crisis.  First, much as the Eurozone, Schengen reflects the willingness of EU member-states to cooperate in an area that touches upon the core of national sovereignty (border control), but without fully delegating decision-making and legislative and regulatory initiatives to a supranational agency (like the Commission in ‘first pillar’ policies). While the involvement of the Commission can be significant, political impetus requires intergovernmental agreement while effective implementation relies on national policies, in border control as much as macroeconomic policy. This makes both structures slow in responding to external challenges.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Federal Reserve isn't owned by the United States government it's an international business cartel, a privately owned business that generates over 80 billion dollars a year. More money than any company in America. They say that their objective is to reduce inflation, however, the lower interest is, the more people end up going bankrupt after retirement. When you have more bankruptcy, the banks are required to borrow more money from the federal reserve, increasing their profit margin. It seems to only logical that our monetary system should be controlled by a government agency rather than a privately owned business whose prime objective is to make money, and has financial motivation to cause bankruptcy and financial collapse....Markets have been manipulated for thirty years by and for the insiders, creating the too big to fail banks. Data is manipulated by the insiders, the regulators and government to demonstrate that all is well-nothing to see here. The last decade has seen nil interest rates and successive rounds of Quantitave Easing in an attempt to avoid deflation. This policy has totally failed. This leaves only painful policy options going forward. Orthodox economics which ignores the effect of money and debt on economics prescribes minus interest rates and counterfeit currencies. People who understand macro economics have identified the effects of debt, and understand that creating more debt is not a solution. World Debt is at 285% of GDP. Much of it is worthless and will never be paid back-so the action has to be write it off. Starting now...We know rates can't go up by more than 1% due to the quantum of personal debt in existence and the thin layer of surplus cash available for consumption every month.  More than 1% rate rise will signal defaults spiking. Any rise in rate will signal a slowdown in lending which is correlated highly with growth. This is a debt trap. Any inflation and monetary policy has nowhere to go. This is why there is a hang-up on whether to raise rates by 0.25%. Inflation watchers on one side (hawks) and growth seekers (doves). Frankly it's not worth bothering with, as the economy is stagnant at the zero lower bound whilst we operate in an environment of low growth capitalism. To solve the conundrum debt needs to see material reduction to create surplus cash flow, or wages need to increase - neither of which appear on the economic horizon within market fundamentalism.  Radical solutions would be debt jubilee with new controls on bank creation of endogenous money, regulate bank business models, and control spending / consumption to maintain 2% inflation, or increase wages significantly (with investors/ equity taking the hit - a move away from the conception of financial control and shareholder value to a stakeholder model) and drive a demand side response to deliver 'real' economic growth, not zero sum games we see today in stocks and real estate.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I'm pretty sure people in the EU would agree to take genuine refugees, but as it is, Europe is being raided by hordes of economic migrants along with various terrorists, gangsters and thugs, because no one bothers to be checking who those hundreds of thousands and  millions of predominantly young, fit, angry men, flooding Europe are. While there are millions on the way pushing and kicking their way into the EU, the politicians are, like hypnotized rabbits in the middle of the road - instead of running - staring into the lights of fast approaching truck. There are "speculations" that there might be a few ISIS terrorists who sneaked in in disguise along with the "refugees". DISGUISE?!!! Why would they need to use a disguise, do they have ISIS (or other radical group) sign burned on their forehead? All they need to do is put away their machine gun and machete (for a while. You can be certain they will get it back soon. Very soon). As it is, there are already several thousands (if not many more) of those people nesting in Europe. There is a very dark cloud hanging over the Europeans and the thought that we will be begging Russia for military help very soon, is not that far fetched....Merkel should be immediately arrested and tried for endangering the lives of millions of Europeans... There are only two ways this will turn out:
1. Merkel and her EU sidekicks will be successful in forcing tens of millions (or more: yes, that is certainly what it will be) pf Muslims down the throats of every EU country against the will of a big majority of Europeans right across the continent - and they will succeed in their objective of destroying a sense of national identity across all EU countries, thereby clearing the way for their top priority objective: a single European state, under German control.
2. The flooding of Europe with vast millions of Muslims, to act as Germany and the EU's Trojan horse to destroy national identity across Europe, will cause so much fury and resentment among Europeans that there will be a rebellion against the German dictatorship over Europe: nationalist leaders will take power in several EU countries like France - and the EU will collapse.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Federal Reserve declined to raise interest rates from their record low of near-zero on Thursday, citing concerns that the still fragile world economy may “restrain economic activity” and further drag down already low inflation.  While some economists had expected a rate rise – the first since 2006 – recent stock market turmoil in China and fears that a slowdown in the world’s second largest economy could dampen the global economy appear to have put off the decision for now.  Janet Yellen, the Fed chair, said the central bank had maintained the federal funds rate at 0-0.25% – where it has been since the 2008 financial crisis – because of “heightened concerns” about a sharp slowdown in China and lower-than-desired inflation.  She said the US recovery from “the great recession” meant that there was an argument to be made for increasing rates – and the bank’s poliycmakers had that argument today – but in the end they still needed more evidence that there was a sustained global recovery. The Federal Reserve was not expected to pull the trigger on an interest rate rise until next year in the wake of a global stock market sell-off triggered by economic turmoil in China.  The US central bank held fire on its first rates rise in more than nine years as it admitted on Thursday night that “uncertainties abroad” had made it more risky to tighten policy.  A slump in equities over the past month, sparked by fears over the strength of China’s economy, “may restrain economic activity”, it warned. The Fed’s policymakers said that this could put “downward pressure on inflation in the near term”.   “We’ve long expected some slowing in Chinese growth over time, as they rebalance their economy,” Fed chair Janet Yellen said. “The question is whether there might be the risk of a more abrupt slowdown than we expect.”   Yippeee! Free money forever. It always works, printing, borrowing, spending. Every time. Everywhere. No fear. Borrow away. Low or no interest. I'll have to check, but I believe I posted on the day that QE1 was launched that once you start down the road of 'Stimulating' the economy with ZIRP and QE it is impossible to stop. However - and this is the kicker - just like the Weimar experience, by the time the 'Serious people' come to accept that their clever, clever schemes are not working, it is too late.
Rudy von Havenstein wasn't stupid, he didn't look at the hyperinflation of the mark and do nothing because he was dumb. He did it because for a long time his policies produced no significant inflation and indeed appeared to be working. By the time his folly became clear he could not stop without triggering an immediate collapse.  Seems familiar, somehow.

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.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Market growth means in fact INFLATION !!!!!

"An estimated $4 trillion has been wiped off the value of Chinese equities in just three weeks earlier this year, although they are still higher than they were this time a year ago."  China's stock markets swung wildly on Wednesday as the authorities battled to restore investor confidence.  Shares on China’s main market - the Shanghai Composite - ended the day 1.2pc higher having earlier plunged by as much as 5pc. 
The recovery late in the day was apparently due to state-backed companies gobbling up shares as trading drew to a close.  A turbulent day on the markets reflected concerns that the housing market could be overheating, and that Beijing might stop propping up equity prices. They have been doing so for weeks. Not only the Chinese though, Swiss, UK and USA. There are NO markets anymore; there is NO price discovery anymore and how can you quantify risk in a market that is so distorted. This will not end nicely. They already tried this back in 1929 and they never altered the trend then. If you don't read history you are condemned to repeat it...Remind me what percentage growth is the American economy growing at & how much overseas owned debt does it have & how much are American stocks over-valued by & how much has the dollar been devalued over a similar period of time?...Some experts had been expecting China to boost exports in a bid to shore up growth. Beijing's decision to weaken the Yuan - also known as the renminbi - last week appeared to support this view, as a weaker currency should make China's exports cheaper. However, the Commerce Ministry appeared to quash this theory on Wednesday by saying that China’s exports could continue falling in the months to come. Analysts at Barclays expect that China’s moves will just be the first steps in a larger depreciation of the Yuan, which they expect to fall by 6pc against the dollar by the end of the year. The devaluation added to concerns that the world’s second-largest economy is in a more fragile state than official numbers reveal. Chinese officials are targeting economic growth of 7pc this year, though many China watchers estimate that growth is far more tepid than Beijing’s GDP numbers would suggest. Fears of a “hard landing” for Chinese growth have plagued stocks the world over.
 

Monday, June 22, 2015

EU council chief Donald Tusk has left his meeting with Mr Tsipras and given a short statement to reporters.  Here's what he had to say: "I have called this summit because time is running out, not only for Greece but all of us. We only have one week before the current programme expires. This means the lets-wait-and-see strategy must end.  "It is my responsibility to ensure we respect all taxpayers in all a countries. If they hadn't borne the burden of austerity, they wouldn't be able to help Greece today.  " I am absolutely convinced that the blame game leads nowhere. I want all cards on the table. This doesn't mean negotiating technical details, but to end the political gambling. Since I called this informal meeting, some promising things have happened, including today's talks. And the latest Greek prosposals are the first real proposals in many weeks, although they still need an assessment from the institutions.  "We must avoid the worst case scenario, which means an incontrollable, chaotic Greixdent." ...George Saravelos of Deutsche Bank highlights that the only thing keeping Greece in the euro is the ECB.   The central bank moved to raise its ceiling on emergency funds today by a further €1.3bn as the country is in the throes of a bank run. Saravelos now thinks the ECB will now be called upon every day to hike its liquidity limit to prevent a banking collapse. But, in order for that to happen, European leaders need to provide some positive signs out of tonight's series of meetings.  Some insights:  Written acknowledgment of progress is likely to be required to maintain ongoing ECB financing of Greek banks, with the central bank approving an additional increase in ELA provision to the Greek banking system this morning given accelerating deposit outflows. Given the scale of deposit outflows and ECB discomfort with rising exposure, ELA approval is likely to take place on a daily basis over the course of the week depending on the evolution of talks.  If progress is achieved over the course of the day, the Euro leaders summit is likely to open discussions for post-programme arrangements, though press reports that a parallel discussion around a "plan B" of a breakdown in talks is also possible.  The Euro leaders summit is likely to address some of the parameters for a third programme, inclusive of the potential for debt relief. We would expect a re-affirmation of the November Eurogroup 2012 commitments on the latter to be the most likely outcome.  Nothing is likely to be finalized unless a full staff-level agreement has been reached between Greece and its creditors over the next few days. There will be a second (and likely last) opportunity for Greece to be discussed at the Euro-area leaders level in Thursday/Friday’s EU leaders’ summit.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Greece's finance minister has ramped up the political stakes in his country's debt drama, by personally telling President Barack Obama to push eurozone creditors over his country's bail-out crisis. In an 12-minute exchange with the President on the sidelines of an event marking Greek Independence day, Mr Varoufakis is reported to have repeated his desire for the US leader to influence events.   Mr Obama is reported to have responded by urging flexibility from both parties.  
Greece's Leftist government has looked to the White House to play the role of honest broker in protracted negotiations with its international creditors. Following Syriza's election in January, the President called for an end to harmful austerity policies and the introduction of a "growth strategy in order for them to pay off their debts to eliminate some of their deficits.” ...  Hopes of a deal before a meeting of the eurozone's finance ministers on April 24 have rapidly faded as both sides show no signs of bridging their differences over Greece's cash-for-reforms bail-out extension.   "In the absence of a deal in the next few weeks, the government might not be able to avoid default, which – we fear – would likely raise the risk of Grexit," said Reinhard Cluse at UBS.  The situation has become increasingly critical as Greece's public funds dwindle and the government faces a near €1bn IMF bill in the first two weeks of May. IMF managing director Christine Lagarde repeated that she would not countenance any delay in payment to the Fund.  “We will do everything we can so lending to the Fund remains the safest lending route any debtor can adopt. That is my determination” said Ms Lagarde. ...  Unfortunately for the Greeks, this is not Obama's call to make here. The Euro Zone is left to its own faltering accord. Quite sometime ago, Greece was thrown out of the Markets, and there is very little anyone can do to get Greece back in with all of this airing their dirty laudry infighting. Calmer heads did not prevail after the Greeks elected this Syriza government. Austerity and internal deflation have political consequence. The EU wont work with Syriza, but an overwhelming majority of Greeks approve of them. Would not be at all surprised if we see a Grexident soon. Only then will all of the self appointed experts report what really went wrong here, just like with Lehman. Heads will roll after the fact. Not Obama's call to make. His advice? Play nice guys. Geithner shook his head in disbelief at how this matter was handled quite sometime ago as well. Little good anyone can do the Greeks now. This situation calls for Greek self help. No not the Troika's prescription. Sorry to say, there is no way around declaring insolvency, rebooting, and starting over.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Report UE - The central question in the report is that of forced loans the Nazi occupiers extorted from the Greek central bank beginning in 1941. Should requests for repayment of those loans be classified as reparation demands -- demands that may have been forfeited with the Two-Plus-Four Treaty of 1990? Or is it a genuine loan that must be paid back? The expert commission analyzed contracts and agreements from the time of the occupation as well as receipts, remittance slips and bank statements.  They found that the forced loans do not fit into the category of classical war reparations. The commission calculated the outstanding German "debt" to the Greek central bank and came to a total sum of $12.8 billion as of December 2014, which would amount to about €11 billion.  As such, at issue between Germany and Greece is no longer just the question as to whether the 115 million deutsche marks paid to the Greek government from 1961 onwards for its peoples' suffering during the occupation sufficed as legal compensation for the massacres like those in the villages of Distomo and Kalavrita. Now the key issue is whether the successor to the German Reich, the Federal Republic of Germany, is responsible for paying back loans extorted by the Nazi occupiers. There's some evidence to indicate that this may be the case.  In terms of the amount of the loan debt, the Greek auditors have come to almost the same findings as those of the Nazis' bookkeepers shortly before the end of the war. Hitler's auditors estimated 26 days before the war's end that the "outstanding debt" the Reich owed to Greece at 476 million Reichsmarks.  Auditors in Athens calculated an "open credit line" for the same period of time of around $213 million. They assumed a dollar exchange rate to the Reichsmark of 2:1 and applied an interest escalation clause accepted by the German occupiers that would result in a value of more than €11 billion today.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned Friday of an alarming lack of progress in talks on Greece's bailout, as Germany raised the spectre of a tumultuous Greek exit from the euro.
Juncker was meeting Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the hard-left Syriza party who came to power in January, just days after Tsipras renewed a demand that powerful Germany repay debts from its Nazi past.  "I am not satisfied by the developments in the recent weeks," Juncker said before talks began with Greece's 40-year-old premier and amid acute concern that Greek coffers could run empty at any moment.  "I don't think we have made sufficient progress, but we will try to push in the direction of a successful conclusion of the issues we have to deal with."  Greece won a four-month extension of its EU-IMF bailout in February -- despite Tsipras initially saying he wanted to abandon austerity and have a completely new arrangement -- but it will not get any of the cash until new reforms are approved by its eurozone partners.  But frustrations with the Greek government are mounting with its 18 fellow eurozone members after Athens this week renewed the claim to Germany for World War II debts seen as outlandish by its partners.  Greece's harshest critic, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, warned that with all the time wasted, a disorderly "Grexident" that could push Athens out of the euro could not be excluded.  "To the extent that Greece is solely responsible and decides what is to happen, and we don't know exactly what Greek leaders are doing, we can't exclude it," Schaeuble told Austrian broadcaster ORF.   A German finance ministry spokeswoman later rowed back on Schaeuble's comments, stressing that "we do not want Greece to leave."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

EU - Observer -- Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has put the painful question of German war reparations back on the table, saying his country was never paid for the infrastructural damage inflicted in World War II.  In a highly emotive speech before parliament on Tuesday (10 March), peppered with references to Nazism, the Third Reich, and the Holocaust, Tsipras said Berlin had an "unfulfilled moral, as well as material historic debt".  He acknowledged that Germany paid 115 million deutschmarks (€59 million) to Greece in 1960, but said this went only to individual victims of Nazis and did not compensate for the "destruction" of the country.   "This agreement, however, provided compensation only for the victims of the Nazis in Greece and not for the damages inflicted on the country itself," he said.  "And of course it did not relate either to the obligatory occupational loan or the claims for damages due to war crimes as a consequence of the nearly total destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the economy’s disintegration during the war and the occupation".  He accused Berlin, which has long said it has honored its war obligations, of using "legal technicalities" to get around paying.  "They see the mote in their brother's eye but not the beam in their own," he added, quoting a passage from the Bible, and speaking of a "moralistic tone" in Europe in an apparent allusion to Berlin's statements on Greece.  He also said that a parliament committee on "claiming the German debts owed to Greece" is to be reconstituted and upgraded and that his government will offer "political and legal assistance" so that its efforts "bear fruit". The motion to re-establish the committee was then backed unanimously by parliament late on Tuesday.  For his part, Nikos Paraskevopoulos, the Greek justice minister took the rhetoric a stage further on Wednesday by saying that German property in Greece could be seized as compensation.  He said he is "ready to approve" a Greek Supreme Court ruling in 2000, which ordered Germany to pay around €28 million to the relatives of 218 civilians in the village of Distomo, massacred by Nazi forces in 1944. The ruling said that assets such as property could be seized as compensation.  "The law states that the minister must give the order for the Supreme Court ruling to be carried out ... I am ready to give that order," he told Antenna TV, reports AFP.  The Greek statements come after weeks of uneasy relations between Berlin and Athens since the Greek far-left/nationalist coalition government came to power in late January.  Tsipras' first move as PM was to vist a memorial honoring  Greek resistance fighters killed by the Nazis in 1944 - a symbolic gesture that did not go unnoticed in Berlin.  Since then, the Greek government has sought to make good on its election promises to restructure its debt and to end EU-imposed austerity.  But tough negotiations with its creditors have seen it win only small concessions, such as renaming the hated Troika (representing its three international creditors) as "the institutions".   Contrary to what it wanted, the government was forced to extend an existing bailout - by four months - and is currently trying to reach a deal on which reforms it needs to carry out to get the next tranche of cash.  Germany is at the forefront of those saying Athens must stick to its prior commitments on reforms. Rhetoric between the two countries has turned nasty on several occasions since Athens' first bailout in 2010, with Greece - wracked by high unemployment and low growth - viewing Germany as too single-minded on austerity and with Germany seeing Greece as slow to undertake major changes.  The current talk from Athens is much harder than anything before, however.  It comes amid criticism of Tsipras by his own, hardline backbenchers, who expect him to deliver more of his campaign pledges.   Tsipras' defense minister Panos Kammenos, from the nationalist party in the coalition, also recently threatened to "flood" Europe with migrants if Greece does not get a debt deal.  "If they [the Eurogroup, a body which oversees eurozone governance] strike us, we will strike them. We will give to migrants from everywhere the documents they need to travel in the Schengen area [the EU's passport free zone], so that the human wave could go straight to Berlin."

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eurozone finance ministers have approved reform proposals submitted by Greece as a condition for extending its bailout by four months, officials say.  The Eurogroup said it had agreed to begin national procedures - parliamentary votes in several states to give the deal final approval.   The measures proposed by Greece include combating tax evasion and tackling the smuggling of fuel and tobacco.  The European Commission said earlier they were a "valid starting point".   Eurozone finance ministers - known as the Eurogroup - then held a conference call before giving their backing to the Greek proposals.  "We call on the Greek authorities to further develop and broaden the list of reform measures, based on the current arrangement, in close co-ordination with the institutions," the Eurogroup said in a statement.  The agreement had "averted an immediate crisis", said European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici.   "It does not mean we approve those reforms, it means the approach is serious enough for further discussion," he added.  'Lack of clear assurances' .  However, International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Christine Lagarde was quoted as expressing reservations about the reform proposals.  "In some areas like combating tax evasion and corruption I am encouraged by what appears to be a stronger resolve on the part of the new authorities in Athens," she wrote in a letter to the Eurogroup.  "In quite a few areas, however, including perhaps the most important ones, the letter is not conveying clear assurances that the government intends to undertake the reforms envisaged."

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 annum.it 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. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Greeks were screwed to save the banks, now the banks are free, they are being screwed to save EU taxpayers and the debt just keeps on growing, how anyone thinks this makes sense I do not know....Grexit is inevitable. The only question is when, and how?  Many imagine Grexit will mean be a return to the Drachma and cheap holidays in Greece and maybe even cheap property to buy in Greece.  The reality will be very different.  You cant wind the clock back to the nineties (some DT journalists think you can!).  Most likely scenario is a semi-orderly/disorderly retreat from the Euro.  Starting this weekend with drastic capital controls to prevent a run on Greek banks next week , in the run up to the 28 Feb deadline.  Followed by either a cut in Govt spending (unlikely) or IOU’s and delayed payments for /salaries /pensions/ contracts from the Greek govt.(more likely)
Reason being the Greek Govt budget is already at -12% at end of last year - they are bankrupt  and this is set to go higher - Greek taxpayers aren’t paying their taxes …they are stuffing their spare Euros in offshore accounts or under the mattress, plus the social spending promised by Syriza– rehiring public employees, pensions at 50, free energy for some (the ones who voted for them).   The introduction of capital transfer controls and IOU’s by Greek Govt will be de facto exit from Euro , although officially Greece wont leave the Euro and cant be kicked out… instead a dual currency economy will exist.   You will still pay for your holiday in Greece this year in Euros… nothing will change for those parts of the Greek economy which are productive and competitive. Likewise real assets like property will keep their Euro value.   A situation much like Cambodia for example – a third world country but with a competitive tourist industry. Tourists pay in Dollars and get dollars from ATM’s , but every time they pay with foreign currency they get their small change in local currency …ending up with a pile of useless local currency at the end of the holiday.
Unproductive parts of the Greek economy – public employees, pensioners, unemployed and the poor will have to use local, depreciating currency on a hand to mouth basis, like all banana republic currencies.  But if you are a Brit- look on the bright side - the depreciation in the Euro , primarily due  to this Greek fiasco, will result in holidays being 10-15% cheaper in2015 , as compared to 2014….

Friday, February 20, 2015

A possible Greek exit from the euro zone is not, obviously, a new concern. Three years ago, it looked like a realistic possibility until Berlin became convinced that the risks of contagion for other euro-zone countries was too great. But since then, the situation has changed dramatically. Both Greece and the euro zone are in better shape than they were in 2012 and would be better prepared to handle a Grexit.   Still, Greece's departure from the common currency union would almost certainly be more problematic than Schäuble has made it sound. Josef Ackermann, the former head of Deutsche Bank who led the debt haircut negotiations in 2012 on behalf of Greece's private creditors, continues to believe that a Greek exit "is still a very risky proposition. It would very probably lead to bank insolvencies and enormous social costs in Greece."
Euro-zone countries may have established a functioning bailout fund and made progress on a banking union scheme, but a Greek exit could attract speculators. "International investors would quickly begin asking which country might fall next," Ackermann believes. Markets could gain the impression that the currency union is a club that countries could join or leave as they liked.
Speculators could begin testing just how durable the rest of the euro zone really is and focus on countries like Portugal, Spain or Italy. "Their interest rates would increase drastically, which would thwart the policies of ECB head Mario Draghi, who would like to prevent exactly that," says Jochen Felsenheimer, CEO of the investment firm Xaia.
Greece's departure would also be just as expensive for the remaining euro-zone member states as a debt haircut because Athens would hardly be in a position to fulfill its financial obligations. Its currency would be drastically devalued and its economy would be threatened with collapse.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The European Central Bank head Mario Draghi is expected to make good on his promise to “do whatever it takes” to save the deflating euro and sagging economy and introduce US-style quantitative easing to the tune of €500 billion in bond purchases. The sovereign bond purchases could inject €550 billion ($650 billion), according to a survey of economist by Bloomberg News. The bank meets Thursday and will make a rate decision announcement at 13:45 CET in Frankfurt, which will be followed by a news conference at 14:30 CET.  A non-standard monetary policy to purchase bonds and asset-backed securities is likely to be announced, and will include sovereign debt purchases, but not gold. It is very similar to the US stimulus scheme to ease the money supply. Declining prices and low growth have brought the EU economy, and its currency, to a sluggish stasis. Record low interest rates of 0.05 percent haven’t boosted the economy, either. This extra cash liquidity measure in the banking system will be instead of the current support program known as “suspending sterilization,” which amounted to about €175 billion in weekly fund extractions from EU banks over the last 4 years. This money won’t disappear, but will stay in the banks, and possibly be leant out, thus stimulating growth.   Germany has been against the stimulus, as it believes it could further agitate highly-indebted EU countries, and the German authorities have argued the bond buying program is illegal. Under EU law it is illegal to finance governments and debt. However, the ECB is allowed to buy government bonds in the secondary market and the move wouldn’t be in violation of any eurozone law. At December’s meeting, the ECB Governing Council said it will reassess the monetary stimulus package “early next year.”

 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bauerndemonstrationen gegen EU-Gipfel in Brüssel 19.12.2014
Demonstrators gathered in Brussels to rally againist painful austerity measures and the upcoming TTIP trade deal. Protestors managed to shut down one of the European capital's busiest districts. Tractors rolled into central Brussels Friday as more than a thousand people protested European Union economic policy and a planned free trade deal with the United States. The demonstrations brought together farmers, trade unionists and environmentalists, who burned bales of hay and an effigy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, long considered the driving force behind Europe's policy of reducing social programs in order to curb government debt. The protest was meant to coincide with the final day of the EU year-end summit, but the talks between European leaders wrapped up a day early. The police cordoned off the whole of Brussels' EU quarter, causing early morning chaos in one of the city's busiest districts.
Turning people in merchandise - "Merry Christmas and Happy Austerity," read one banner the protestors hung outside the European Council building. The D19-20 Alliance, which organized the demonstration, represents not only Belgian organizations but French, Dutch, and German ones as well. People came from all four countries to voice their outrage at "policies that do not work and keep accentuating inequalities," one of the organizers told German news service dpa.
The D19-20 Alliance denounces austerity as a means by which the government makes workers pay for the financial crisis and allows for a roll-back of important social programs forged over generations, like free medical care. The Alliance is worried that the upcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement between the EU and the US, will increase these inequalities and give American businesses too much power over European governments to the detriment of their citizens. Rudy Janssens, a senior official with Belgian socialist union CGSP, said the TTIP will turn people into "merchandise” and medical patients into customers.
At the summit, EU leaders reaffirmed their commitment to signing the TTIP by the end of 2015, ushering in the largest free trade agreement in the world.
es/tj (AFP, dpa)

Friday, December 19, 2014

In an ideal world Europe should do one of two things. Either move toward full political union and effectively ditch the nation state, with a main central EU wide government based in Brussels, major pan european parties that seek a mandate there and from which the ELECTED leaders of the EU are drawn. Just writing it down shows how impossible that is going to be.  Alternatively, Ditch the EU and retain the nation state and national parliaments and abolish the euro. This is enormously difficult and would cause immense short term damage and disruption but has a good chance in the middle term of reaching a situation with autonomous freely trading economies and currencies and one could rely on market mechanisms to restabilise the EU economy. EU states could continue to function as a political semi- entity (shared econ development, shared foreign policy, shared defense) if they wished with the commission coordinating this effort. Hopefully eventually the EU could get back to the dynamic entity that it was prior to the euro.   This view, it seems to me is only somewhat further along the road that the Cameroons want to progress. But the UK will be a be bystander because the tories have been such willful and inconstant EU players. And I don't know why we bother to send anyone from UK.   The reality is that we are going to get some awful Kludge which won't address the underlying issues and will try further to ride roughshod over democracy and inflict yet more austerity onto the unwilling , a road which will lead sooner or later to EU breakup...   It’s funny how history repeats itself. The inconclusive general election in 2010 took place when the economy appeared to be on the mend and against the backdrop of a crisis in the eurozone prompted by Greece. As things stand, we could be in for a repeat performance in May 2015.  Be in no doubt, what’s happening in Europe matters to Britain. The eurozone is perhaps one crisis and one deep recession away from splintering. The more TV pictures of rioting on the streets of Athens or general strikes in Italy between now and the election, the better support for Nigel Farage’s UK Independence party will hold up.  Stronger support for Ukip will encourage the Conservatives to adopt a more Eurosceptic approach, hardening their stance on the concessions required for them to continue supporting Britain’s membership of the EU. Meanwhile, a permanently weak eurozone economy will push Britain’s trade balance into the red. The economic debate in the current parliament has been about sorting out the budget deficit; the debate in the next parliament will also be about sorting out the current account deficit.  Let’s start with Greece, which was where the eurozone crisis began all those years ago. The French statesman Talleyrand once said of the Bourbons that they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. The same applies to the bunch of incompetents in Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt responsible for pushing Greece towards economic and political meltdown.