Friday, April 12, 2013

Today's links

1---Banks Resorting to Old Tricks to Reduce Capital Levels, naked capitalism
Banks are back to their same old tricks

2---Big Banks Attempt Secret Coup Against Cheap Loans, washingtons blog
The effort to torpedo public banking

3---Wells Fargo 401(k) Loans Jump 28% as Older Workers Borrow, Bloomberg
More signs of desperation in the land of opportunity

4---Nukes--The only deterrent to US aggression?, RT

I suppose there is another game being played because the US is ramping up its military facilities in Southeast Asia and obviously it’s foreseeable that China will become a super power. And Kim Jong Un said one month ago, and repeatedly, “we don’t want war. We want to talk…” America left the non-proliferation treaty. Britain isn’t obeying by the spirit of the non-proliferation treaty of which it’s a signatory....

let’s all remember that North Korea is a militarized society and any bombs it sends to South Korea in highly urban populations will kill lots of people. As for any retaliation against North Korea – well, the United States bombed most of it in the 1950s and they have underground tunnels. The effect on North Korea in any bombing campaign will not be nearly as bad as that on the South.
RT: Is there an argument to be made that North Korean regime is justified thinking that nuclear weapons are the best chance they've got of staying in power?
AR: This 21st century has proven time and time again that nuclear weapons are perhaps the only deterrent against the United States and NATO warfare. Libya will hang in the imaginations of many developing world leaders because it proved – because of course Gaddafi got rid of his nuclear weapon program – people are going to want WMD. That seems to be what NATO countries have catalyzed after Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and other interventions that resulted in the loss of so many lives.

5----Billions of US tax dollars potentially funding Afghan terrorism – report, RT

The report, titled ‘Contracting with the Enemy’ and published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), draws attention to the mismanagement of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) funds.
According to the document, such oversights mean that “millions of contracting dollars could be diverted to forces seeking to harm US Military and civilian personnel and derail the multi-billion dollar reconstruction effort.”
Last year, the US invested around $1.7 million and awarded 9,733 contracts in Afghanistan; it is unclear how much of this may have been diverted to the insurgency.

6---Heroin production in Afghanistan increased 40 times since NATO began its ‘War on Terror’ in 2001, the head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service stated, adding that more than 1million people have died from Afghan heroin since then., RT

7---Audit: Pentagon Gave Afghan Contracts to Terrorists, antiwar

8---Budget Deficit Is Shrinking – a Lot, WSJ

The federal budget deficit: It’s shrinking.
Lost in the chatter about President Barack Obama’s behind-schedule delivery of his annual budget was this word from the U.S. Treasury: The federal deficit for the first six months of the fiscal year (October 2012-March 2013) was $600 billion, a whole lot less than the $779 billion recorded for the same months of the previous year. Revenues are running 12.5% ahead of last year; outlays are running 2.5% below last year.

What’s going on? The economy is getting better, and that means more wages and profits to tax and less spending on programs such as unemployment compensation. Meanwhile, Congress and the president have raised taxes — both income and payroll taxes — and put some caps on spending.

The deficit,” economists at Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients, “is likely to decline substantially further in the next two to three years… Sequestration has barely started to show up in the outlay data, and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for high-income earners is likely to reduce tax refunds and boost [tax payments] in early 2014.”
Although inflation-adjusted growth has been a sluggish 2% to 2.5% since the recession official ended in mid-2009, the Goldman economists noted, “this has been enough to generate a sizeable improvement in tax receipts, over and above the more recent impact of higher tax rates.”
Indeed, the Obama White House worries that the deficit is — brace yourself — coming down too fast. Its budget is seeking to slow the shrinking a bit to avoid putting the fiscal brakes on a still slow-growing economy

The Federal Reserve seems to share that concern. The latest minutes of the Fed’s policy committee, released Wednesday, report that Fed policymakers around the table “thought that fiscal policy was exerting significant near-term restraint on the economy”

The Fed staff economic forecast, the minutes said, sees “somewhat more fiscal policy restraint” than contemplated, which was offset by a brighter outlook for domestic energy production and rising stock and house prices, which are making Americans wealthier and, thus, more willing to spend. The staff cautioned that the risks to the economy are on the downside for two reasons: Europe (no surprise there) and “the possibility of a more severe tightening of fiscal policy.”
Goldman economists, though, see the world a bit differently.

As the U.S. economy perks up and the reported budget deficits shrink, there will be less pressure on Washington for fiscal belt-tightening. As a result, what economists call “the fiscal drag” on the economy (the negative effect of higher taxes and lower spending) will ease in the coming years. For that reason, Goldman sees the pace of growth quickening from an annual rate of about 2% today to between 3% and 3.5% in 2014.

9----Obama issues new threat to North Korea, wsws

10---Retail Sales in U.S. Dropped in March by Most in Nine Months, Bloomberg

11---Detroit workers, youth denounce emergency manager, wsws

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