Saturday, July 11, 2015

More links

1---BRICS nations launch new bank, currency pool, DW

Leaders of BRICS emerging nations have managed to present a unified front at a summit in Russia, expressing concern over the world economy. They also finally launched two of the group's largest initiatives to date.
The development bank would start lending next year to finance large-scale infrastructure projects, according to Putin. The bank's initial starting capital of $50 billion would eventually be doubled within the next few years.
"The New (Development) Bank will help finance joint, large-scale projects in transport and energy infrastructure, [as well as] industrial development," Putin said.
Obstacles to growth
The BRICS countries make up 40 percent of the world's population and account for about a fifth of global economic output. But their attempts to provide a counterweight to Western-dominated financing have been complicated in recent years.

2---US changes terms of  Iran deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif complained Friday that the US and its European allies have hardened their bargaining stance in the last two days. “Unfortunately we have seen changes in position and excessive demands,” said Zarif. He also complained that the US, Britain, France, and Germany have adopted different “red lines.”
The previous evening an unnamed senior Iranian negotiator had told western media that the US has backtracked on recent bargaining commitments. “We’ve been seeing changes of positions, particularly since last night,” he claimed, then added, “It can go either way: It can be a small glitch … or a major setback.”...

Under the “framework agreement” Iran accepted at Lausanne, Switzerland on April 2, Tehran made sweeping concessions to US imperialism. These included agreeing to either dismantle or roll back and cap key parts of its civil nuclear program for 10 years, and in some cases 15, and to submit to the most intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection regime ever devised.
The talks on translating this framework into a final “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” on Iran’s nuclear program have stalled over differences about when and to what extent the punishing sanctions against Iran will be lifted, under what conditions IAEA inspectors will have access to Iranian military sites, and demands for an open-ended investigation into Iran’s previous nuclear research, with Tehran legally obligated to “come clean” on all the “possible military dimensions” of its nuclear program....

One of the reasons the Obama administration has been pressing for a deal with Tehran is that it recognizes it cannot long pursue confrontation with Russia and China while relying on their support to uphold the sanctions against Iran.
Another—even more important consideration—is that Obama and Kerry want to prevent Iran from drawing closer to Moscow and Beijing, which, in response to the military-strategic offensive that the US is mounting against them, have become much more tightly allied over the past 18 months......

The US determination to maintain the arms embargo against Iran is tied to its continuing plans—nuclear deal or not—for expanding military intervention in the Middle East, including overthrowing Syria’s government, a close ally of Tehran, and waging war against Iran itself, so as to ensure continued US domination of the world’s most important oil-exporting region.
Only last week, Dempsey had boasted about the US military’s ability to permanently eliminate Iran’s nuclear program and otherwise subjugate it. He noted that the Pentagon has multiple and “layered” war plans and options when it comes to Iran, with the new mega bomb specifically developed to eliminate underground Iran’s nuclear facilities, the massive ordnance penetrator, just “one of them.”

3---Syriza’s betrayal of the Greek working class

With consummate cynicism, Syriza leader and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has sought to present this direct repudiation of the will of the Greek people as a triumph of democracy. In fact, the outcome entirely confirms the initial assessment of the World Socialist Web Site that the decision to call the vote was “a reactionary fraud, designed to lend a veneer of democratic legitimacy to the looting of Greece by the banks.”...

The events in Greece are a major strategic experience of the international working class. They have clearly exposed the role of Syriza and similar pseudo-left parties around the world, rooted in the affluent middle class and schooled in postmodernism. According to the professors and parliamentarians who lead these organizations, the era of the class struggle and Marxism is over.
In fact, the working class is getting a ferocious education on the realities of capitalism as revealed by Marxism: the ruthlessness of the ruling class, the domination of finance capital, the irreconcilable conflict between the interests of workers and capitalists....

No one can claim that the outcome in Greece is the result of a refusal of the working class to fight: the workers voted “no” on EU austerity and mobilized large sections of the youth and the middle class behind them. The central obstacle that emerged to the working class in Greece was the reactionary role of Syriza...

Trotsky described very well the role of apologists for Syriza today when he wrote: “This impotent philosophy, which seeks to reconcile defeats as a necessary link in the chain of cosmic developments, is completely incapable of posing and refuses to pose the question of such concrete factors as programs, parties, personalities that were the organizers of defeat. This philosophy of fatalism and prostration is diametrically opposed to Marxism as the theory of revolutionary action.”

4---Bill Black: LIBOR – History’s Largest Financial Crime that the WSJ and NYT Would Like You to Forget

I read a BBC story about the LIBOR criminal trial in the UK and was going to write to criticize its woeful analytics. In preparation I checked the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to see how they reported the devastating testimony in the trial. I could not, however, find any coverage in my electronic searches and viewing their web pages.
To review the bidding, the LIBOR bid rigging cartel was the largest cartel in history, manipulating the prices of an estimated $300+ trillion in assets. That is a figure considerably larger than the world’s combined GDP. Here are typical statements by the Department of Justice (DOJ) about the LIBOR cartel.

“For years, employees at Deutsche Bank illegally manipulated interest rates around the globe – including LIBORs for U.S. Dollar, Yen, Swiss Franc and Pound Sterling, as well as EURIBOR – in the hopes of fraudulently moving the market to generate profits for their traders at the expense of the bank’s counterparties,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Deutsche Bank is the sixth major financial institution that has admitted its misconduct in this wide-ranging criminal investigation, and today’s criminal resolution represents the largest penalty to date in the LIBOR investigation.”
“Deutsche Bank secretly conspired with its competitors to rig the benchmark interest rates at the heart of the global financial system,” said Assistant Attorney General Baer.  “Deutsche Bank’s misconduct not only harmed its unsuspecting counterparties, it undermined the integrity and the competitiveness of financial markets everywhere.”
Until recently, I called the LIBOR cartels the largest in history by at least three orders of magnitude. The rigging of foreign exchange (FX) “markets,” however, is so large that that I now have to say that they represent the two largest cartels in history by roughly three orders of magnitude.

5---America’s Losing Russia Strategy, leslie gelb

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