Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Today's Links

"Unless immediate and concrete steps are taken by Russia to deescalate tensions, the effect on US-Russian relations and on Russia's international standing will be profound," US Secretary of State "two-faced" John Kerry

1---A Man In Debt Demolishes His House And Drops It In Front Of The Bank, rf

In the end of 2013 a man from Lovech-Bulgaria who could not afford to pay the mortgage for his house gave his last penny to demolish it right before the banksters took it away.
The land that the house was built on was not included in the mortgage so the family decided to destroy the house and give it to its new owner.

The remains of the building were loaded on a big truck and moved to the central district office of the bank in the city of Teteven, where the contract for the mortgage was signed.
The man who was in debt to the bank and his whole family entered the office and started crying and begging for mercy, but the director said that they can’t make exceptions and the family had a week to vacant the house.
Imagine the director’s face after the family got out of the office and his precious new house was unloaded in front of the bank’s main entrance…

That’s how we should all deal with the banksters.

2---Carmakers Say Sales Were Sluggish in Chilly February, NYT

Automakers sold 1.2 million vehicles in February, the same as February last year, for an annualized rate of 15.34 million and below the 16 million vehicles the industry expects to sell this year.
After a winter of lackluster sales, automakers remain optimistic that they will recoup lost winter sales in March and April, but some analysts say it remains an open question.

“We’ve had two bad months, three if you count December,” said George Magliano, an analyst with IHS Automotive. “Inventory has been building, and the industry is gearing up for a big incentive war. So it’s going to take more than one month,” he said, to make up for weak performance.

3---Obama has ignored the fundamental collapse of the black American family, Guardian
(author pushes standard neoliberal reforms. Garbage)

‘My Brother’s Keeper’? How about keeping up with history and getting to the root of the problem?...

What Obama conveniently left out of his narrow narrative is the root cause of the problems facing not just young black men but the American black family today: 72% of all black babies are born out of wedlock. Think about that: it’s an anomaly for black children to be born to parents who are married. And that’s where the overwhelming crime and economic malaise begins, among the 13% of the US population that is black.

Worse still, there is a direct correlation between kids born out of wedlock and higher rates of crime. According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Law and Economics, kids grow into adults who turn to crime precisely because of a lack of educational opportunities and parenting. And that is exactly the pathology being born out in the black race.
Over 50% of homicide victims are black, according to a 2014 study conducted by the Violence Policy Center, which characterizes the rate as epidemic. According to Justice Department data from 1980-2008, “blacks were six times more likely than whites to be homicide victims and seven times more likely than whites to commit homicides”. More than half of all federal prisoners are black.
More blacks go through “stop and frisk” in New York City because more blacks are committing more crimes in the city – last year, blacks made up 74% of shooting victims, 74% of shooting suspects and 70% of shooting arrestees....

Obama could also work to establish so-called Enterprise Zones, long championed by Republican Jack Kemp, which give tax credits to businesses operating in inner cities and hiring people who live there as a way to reduce crime and poverty. Most importantly, Obama could start supporting – rather than fighting – school voucher programs, which undeniably help blacks escape poverty and crime

4---Contracts to buy US homes barely budged in January, yahoo

5---Envy or Rage?, Krugman

case in point: this article by Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute. Brooks is deeply worried about changing popular attitudes toward wealth:
According to Pew, the percentage of Americans who feel that “most people who want to get ahead” can do so through hard work has dropped by 14 points since about 2000. As recently as 2007, Gallup found that 70 percent were satisfied with their opportunities to get ahead by working hard; only 29 percent were dissatisfied. Today, that gap has shrunk to 54 percent satisfied, and 45 percent dissatisfied. In just a few years, we have gone from seeing our economy as a real meritocracy to viewing it as something closer to a coin flip.
And how does he see this sea-change in attitudes? Why, it must be about growing envy of the rich, which is a terrible thing.
But the polling data don’t say anything about envy: when people say that they have lost their belief that hard work will be rewarded, they aren’t saying that they are envious of the rich; they’re saying that they have lost their belief that hard work will be rewarded. To the extent that people have negative feelings about the one percent, the emotion involved isn’t envy — it’s anger, which isn’t at all the same thing. Envy is when you have negative feelings about rich because of what they have; anger is when you have negative feelings about the rich because of what they do...

Or what about the remarkable fact that since the crisis, profits have soared, while workers’ incomes have stagnated?
People aren’t envious, they’re angry — and with good reason

6---January Spending Was Driven by Health Care, dean baker

7---Mortgage overall originations are at their lowest levels since 2010., down 60% year over year, yahoo

loan originations declined to their lowest point since Nov 2008, down 60% y-o-y

Today, the Data and Analytics division of Black Knight Financial Services (formerly the LPS Data & Analytics division) released its November Mortgage Monitor Report, which found that loans originated in 2013 are proving to be the best-performing mortgages on record. In addition, while overall originations are at their lowest levels since 2010...

The November data also showed that the population of "refinancible" mortgages has decreased by about 4 million loans since the end of 2012. Today, just 5.9 million loans meet broad-based refinance criteria, including loan-to-value ratios of 80 percent or less; credit scores of 720 or higher; current payment status; and interest rates higher than the prevailing interest rate....

8---US hypocrisy over ‘Russian aggression’ in Ukraine, RT

In order to maintain enough momentum to oust Yanukovich, Ukraine’s opposition leaders relied on allies in the radical camp such as fascist groups like Svoboda, Trizub, and the Right Sector. These organizations espouse ethnic hatred against Jews and Russians and promote neo-Nazi ideals. The foot soldiers of these movements laid the groundwork for the putsch by occupying the Maidan [Independence Square], storming government offices, and attacking riot police with Molotov cocktails, firearms, and other lethal weapons.

Members of these far-right groups have been integrated in so-called ‘self-defense forces’ that now patrol Kiev and other major cities, and have been seen wearing symbols that include the Celtic cross, which has replaced the swastika for many modern white-power groups, the wolf-hook SS insignia, and other occult symbols associated with the Third Reich. In his capacity as prime minister, Yatsenyuk has relinquished control of Ukraine’s national security forces to the heads of these radical organizations, who have openly used threatening and bigoted language to incite ethnic hostility, in addition to calls for Russians and Jews to be either destroyed or expelled from Ukraine....

Residents of the Crimea will take part in a referendum on March 30 to reevaluate the status of the peninsula, and the outcome is widely expected to result in the region seeking greater autonomy from Ukraine with a move towards federalism. If Russian authorities feel that all possibilities for dialogue have been exhausted, and a peacekeeping mission must be launched in earnest, there is every indication that Moscow will act within international law and show maximum restraint. Just as radical forces have become empowered as a result of western policy elsewhere, the result of the illegitimate putsch in Kiev is that those countries who claim to defend the post-World War II international order have empowered forces that sympathize with, and seek to propagate, fanatical prejudice and extremism, on the false notion that such radical groups will move aside peacefully to allow nominal western-aligned moderates and neoliberals to rule. It hasn’t worked elsewhere, and it won’t work in Ukraine.

9---Europe depends on Gazprom,  Testosterone Pit

Europe depends on Gazprom. Germany gets 35% of its gas from it. Germany is Russia’s biggest client. It has long had a “strategic partnership” with Russia, as then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called it. He vigorously promoted a Russian-German pipeline project across the Baltic Sea and called Putin a “flawless democrat” in November 2004. Several days after leaving office in 2005, he joined the board of directors of the Baltic Sea pipeline joint venture, whose other owner was Gazprom. And he became an advisor to Putin.

In turn, Russia is a major trading partner for the sacrosanct German exporters, ranging from cookie-maker Bahlsen to industrial giant and high-speed train maker Siemens. No one in Germany is allowed to get in their way.
But it’s not just Germany. The EU is Russia’s largest trading partner and largest foreign investor, according to the European Commission. And Russia is the EU’s third largest trading partner. The EU exports mostly machinery, transportation equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural products. And it imports mostly oil, gas, coal, and uranium. No Russia, no energy.

Russia and the EU, particularly Germany, are economically joined at the hip. Broad sanctions against entire industries would backfire – as Gazprom made sure to remind everyone with its ever so subtle comment that it was “still thinking about” its delivery contracts with the Ukraine. What if it suddenly started “thinking about” its delivery contracts with Germany?
Yet Gazprom is dependent on these sales and cannot afford to shut off that business. Just the unspoken idea of it caused its stock to drop 14% on Monday.

10---Tune Out the War Party!, Pat Buchanan

What is the U.S. vital interest in Crimea? Zero. From Catherine the Great to Khrushchev, the peninsula belonged to Russia. The people of Crimea are 60 percent ethnic Russians.
And should Crimea vote to secede from Ukraine, upon what moral ground would we stand to deny them the right, when we bombed Serbia for 78 days to bring about the secession of Kosovo?...

After he won the competition for Ukraine to join his customs union, by bumping a timid EU out of the game with $15 billion cash offer plus subsidized oil and gas to Kiev, he saw his victory stolen.
Crowds formed in Maidan Square, set up barricades, battled police with clubs and Molotov cocktails, forced the elected president Viktor Yanukovych into one capitulation after another, and then overthrew him, ran him out of the country, impeached him, seized parliament, downgraded the Russian language, and declared Ukraine part of Europe.

11--Distorting Russia, Stephen Cohen, Nation

  • Loan originations declined to the lowest point since Nov. 2008 (down 60% Y/Y)
  • Property sales remained relatively strong (total year 2013 was up 8.4% from 2012), supported by increased cash purchases (which accounted for more than 40% of Q4 sales)
  • HARP origination volume has declined significantly (down 70% Y/Y), with fewer existing loans now eligible for the program: approx. 709K vs. 2.3M in Jan. 2013
  • Home equity lending in 2013 was up 26% vs. 2012, but it's still down over 90% from 2006
  • HELOC performance in recent vintages is pristine (delinquency rates on HELOCs originated over the past 4 years have averaged just 0.1%), but new problem loan rates continue to rise for older lines that have begun to amortize (up 27% Y/Y)

  • Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/#bL3dEeEArIfi9zZ3.99

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