Friday, February 6, 2015

Today's Links

1--ECB’s Is NOT Stimulating Economy – Its a Bank Bailout, Martin Armstrong

2--Syriza vs. the Troika, Jack Rasmus, CP

The core problem with the Greek debt issue is that Greece’s current 317 billion Euro government debt is unsustainable and effectively condemns Greece and its people to a state of perpetual economic depression for decades to come should it remain in place. At 317 billion, the Greek government debt is nearly twice the GDP of Greece — officially 177 percent. No matter that 270 billion (85 percent) of the 317 billion euros are owed directly to the Troika itself — i.e. official agencies that could, if they wanted, write off much of the debt. No matter that Syriza’s position is that its demand for one-third write off does not include the 24 billion owed to the IMF and another 54 billion owed to the ECB, but is targeting the 142 billion Greece owes to the European Commission and its European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) fund.  And no matter that, even as Greek-Troika negotiations begin, the European Commission is approving debt write-offs for Croatia while refusing to do so for Greece...

Then there’s another “economic front” that has the Euro bankers and Eurocrats currently on the defensive: that’s the growing movement within the Eurozone for not only a reversal of austerity programs, but for a new initiative for government infrastructure investing. The country bastions of the Eurobankers — i.e. Germany and Netherlands — have attempted to co-opt this movement for more government investment by proposing what is called the “Juncker Plan” — i.e. a token limited government program of government spending...

If the Troika and Europe’s leaders recognize that the old Troika formula of more austerity in exchange for more debt is an economic dead end, and that Greece may well exit the Euro if it insists on continuing that old formula, then that recognition will mark the beginning of the end for austerity in Europe.
But if they don’t, and they continue to adhere to that dead-end policy, it will set Europe on a path of not only a Greece exit from the Eurozone, but an eventual collapse of the Euro itself. And that will mean even more massive losses for investors, and an almost assured descent by Europe into a deep and sustained recession

3--Greece Still Defiant After ECB Mugging, NC

how can he rule out a Grexit entirely? What if the Greeks were to start printing drachmas as a contingency? How would the Troika react to prudent measures in the case of worse-case outcomes, given what various observers, such our own Jim Haygood to Peter Dorman, see as an incompetent or malicious effort by the ECB to make the Greek bank run worse? The bigger Greece’s use of the ELA, the more it becomes a sticking point with Germany.

4--Brent oil soars 20% in rollercoaster week, RT

5--Putin peace plan is basis of Hollande-Merkel initiative on Ukraine, RT

However, both Kerry’s and Yatsenyuk’s statements contradict last week’s statement by Ukraine’s military chief of staff Viktor Muzhenko.

We are not militarily engaged with any regular forces of the Russian federation,” he said.

Moscow has asked in vain for evidence of it being militarily involved in the conflict and has blamed the West for making unfounded accusations.

6--NATO arms in Ukraine, RT
The Russian NATO envoy believes “there is a bulk of evidence that Western-made arms are being used in Ukraine,” mentioning lethal munitions such as NATO standard artillery shells.
“We expect the OSCE mission [in Ukraine] to deliver its opinion on the matter.”
Ukraine has openly received millions of dollars worth of non-lethal military goods from Western countries, including body armor, NATO standard helmets, hundreds of thousands of food rations, barbed wire, optics etc. 

7--Global debt surges to $200 trillion, RT

Global debt has soared by $57 trillion since the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2007, with the debt to GDP ratio jumping to 400 percent in Japan. This raises questions about financial stability and poses a threat of another crisis.
“After the 2008 financial crisis and the longest and deepest global recession since World War II, it was widely expected that the world’s economies would deleverage. It has not happened. Instead, debt continues to grow in nearly all countries, in both absolute terms and relative to GDP. This creates fresh risks in some countries and limits growth prospects in many,” according to new research carried out by consultants McKinsey in 47 countries.

The amount of world debt reached $199 trillion at the end of 2014, with the growth rate exceeding the pace of global economic expansion and the debt to GDP ratio increased from 269 to 286 percent.
“Higher levels of debt pose questions about financial stability and whether some countries face the risk of a crisis.” ...

China is one of the key concerns as debt there has skyrocketed almost quadrupling, from $7.4 trillion in 2007 to $28.2 trillion in mid-2014. The debt-to-GDP ratio reached 282 percent comparing to 269 percent of the US. Although total Chinese debt is still manageable, experts are concerned with worrisome levels of debt in the property sector and the rapid expansion of shadow banking.
“China’s total debt, as a percentage of GDP, now exceeds that of the United States.”

8--Responsibility for the immense dangers facing the world population lies primarily with the United States, Germany, and all the NATO powers. The current crisis was provoked by the decision of Washington and Berlin to organize the coup last year, installing a right-wing government lacking any popular support, through a putsch led by pro-Nazi, anti-Russian forces such as the Right Sector militia.

Russian officials have also stated that if Washington arms Kiev for a large-scale offensive in east Ukraine, the Russian army will intervene to prevent Kiev from massacring the separatists, which could lead to a major land war in Europe and possibly a world war involving nuclear-armed powers....

There are also conflicts within the United States itself. Republican Senator John McCain gathered a bipartisan group of 12 US senators yesterday on Capitol Hill and announced that if the White House does not arm Kiev, they would draft legislation requiring the US government to do so.
Kerry indicated that the Obama administration would make this decision sometime next week, following a visit from Merkel to Washington. The EU is also set to consider new sanctions against Russia next week.

9--Saudi Arabia, 9/11 and the “war on terror, wsws

There is every reason to believe that nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered on September 11, 2001 with the tacit or active complicity of sections of the US military-intelligence apparatus. The CIA, FBI and other agencies took no action to disrupt the operations of the terrorists, even though many of the individuals involved were known to US security agencies and several were under active surveillance as they planned and executed the simultaneous hijacking of four US jetliners....

Yet at the center of the entire “war on terror” is a monumental and brazen lie, the claim that 19 hijackers plotted and carried out a major attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., without anyone in the vast US military-intelligence apparatus being aware of what they were preparing. The latest revelations about the Saudi role in 9/11 are another blow against this web of fabrication and cover-up

The legal papers filed with the federal district court included Moussaoui’s deposition, but much more, including allegations of Saudi complicity in 9/11 from such pillars of the Washington establishment as former senator Robert Graham of Florida. He wrote, “I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia.”

Graham is in a position to know. He chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2002 when it produced a lengthy report on the 9/11 attacks. This included a 28-page section on Saudi support to the 9/11 hijackers that was classified and suppressed by the Bush administration, an act of censorship that was endorsed and continued by the Obama administration. Senator Graham, who favors the release of this material, wrote, “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier.”
The evidence of Saudi complicity in the 9/11 attacks is a devastating exposure of the fraudulent nature of the “war on terror,” the axis of US national security policy for more than 13 years.

10--Chechen leader blames US & Western intel for Islamic State terrorists, RT

Ramzan Kadyrov has accused the US and other Western nations of “spawning” the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group in order to incite hatred towards Muslims all over the world.

Today, no one doubts the fact that this group has been spawned by America and other Western countries in order to spark hatred of Islam in the hearts of people all over the planet, to stop the process of mass conversion to Islam,” the head of the Chechen Republic wrote on his Instagram page.
Kadyrov also suggested the West was backing IS in order to distract public attention from numerous problems in the Middle East, in the hope of destroying Islamic nations from inside. ...

Prior to this the Chechen leader had told reporters that he possessed information that the IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been recruited to work for the US personally by General David Petraeus, the former director of the CIA, and former commander of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. At that time, Kadyrov claimed the Islamic State “was acting on orders from the West and Europe.”
Last year, a veteran Russian intelligence officer also suggested the West had played a crucial role in the birth of the Islamic State group. “There are some grounds to suspect American and British special services might support the Islamic extremists in order to target the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation,” Lieutenant-General Nikolai Pushkaryov, formerly of the Central Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff, said in an interview with RIA-Novosti

11---Just How Dead Is the Private-Label MBS Market? , credit slips

12--The Afghanistan War Is Still Raging—but This Time It's Being Waged by Contractors, Nation

But after digging into the contractors involved and the circumstances behind their untimely deaths, it's apparent that the US-led war against the Taliban is still in full swing, and that Americans—along with many Afghans—will continue to die.
"If you define combat mission as only having large numbers of US combat troops in the field, doing patrols, and engaging the Taliban, then, yes, it is coming to an end," says David Isenberg, a Navy veteran and author who has been researching private security and military contractors since the early 1990s. "But if you define it as continuing to attack and degrade those you consider hostile, via drone or Special Forces or CIA paramilitaries, all of which are supported by contractors, then not so much."

Exploiting Afghanistan's Mineral Resources
True to its imperial name, Praetorian is also involved in a major Pentagon project to convince US and foreign investors and mining companies to develop Afghanistan's extensive mineral wealth.
The program, run by a Department of Defense Task Force for Business Stability Operations with the US Army's Corp of Engineers, was first described by New York Times reporter James Risen in 2010. At the time, Afghan officials estimated that their deposits of copper, gold, lithium and other minerals could be worth as much as $3 trillion.

13--ECB cancels soft treatment of Greek debt in warning to Athens -Paul Mason

The deal Germany wants was signalled in a leaked negotiating paper: the total reversal of the elected Greek government’s policy of cancelling austerity, even down to detail about ending reforms to the structure of ministries. The move caught Greek negotiators in Berlin off guard. Syriza sources were last night puzzled as to whether it was a move by the ECB to pressure the politicians to find a solution, or pressure on them to comply. -

As I have repeatedly blogged, on the basis of well authoritative briefings, the Greek radical left party Syriza does not want to be in power unless it can make significant reforms to the welfare, pension and privatisation programme imposed by 2012. As everybody stares over the abyss it’s worth spelling out what that is: not immediate euro exit. If the ECB triggers a bank run in Greece, the government would likely resort to capital controls and seek bilateral funding outside the euro system. The Greek constitution also allows it simply to hand power back to the shattered, pro-Brussels centrist parties and let them self-destruct some more. -

14--USD rally continues, cnbc

"The U.S. dollar rally from the May 2014 lows has extended to achieve gains of over 20 percent, representing the most significant dollar rally since the 2008/2009 rebound," said Hans Redeker, head of global foreign exchange strategy at Morgan Stanley.

"U.S data has been somewhat soft recently, while there are signs of reflation and green shoots in Europe. This differential could drive investors to take profit on some of their long USD holdings. Given stretched positioning, this should drive a tactical U.S. dollar selloff. However, we believe
U.S. dollar weakness will be short-lived, and followed by a resumption of the bull cycle," he said.
Morgan Stanley have cut their U.S. dollar long exposure temporarily as a result of the potential for the correction and awaiting more "advantageous levels and conditions to reinstate medium-to longer-term bullish strategies."
"The dollar bull run could take a pause for breath and the danger now is that a broader correction could ensue squeezing what is a very crowded trade," senior analyst at currency broker FxPro, Angus Campbell. ...

"The U.S. dollar has continued to correct modestly lower in the Asian trading session giving back some of its strong gains from last month. This reversal in the U.S. dollar has coincided with a rebound in the price of crude oil, and recent evidence that the U.S. economy has lost some upward momentum," said Lee Hardman, a foreign-exchange strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

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