Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 30 2011: The Impossible and the Inevitable

Howard Hollem Lone Star August 1942
"Women from all fields have joined the production army. Miss Grace Weaver, a civil service worker at the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas, and a schoolteacher before the war, is doing her part for victory along with her brother, who is a flying instructor in the Army. Miss Weaver paints the American insignia on repaired Navy plane wings"

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Ilargi: 39 airports, 850 ports, railways, motorways, sewage works, a couple of energy companies, banks, defence groups, thousands of acres of land for development, casinos and Greece's national lottery.

All these things are for sale in Greece. As part of the IMF/ECB/EU bailout deal Athens voted in this week, this wholesale firesale of what amounts to something close to an entire public economy, is supposed to bring in €50 billion ($72 billion). And what will Greece be left with afterwards? They’d better come up with something good, because estimates are that the firesale will fall short by some 75%. Kerin Hope, Ralph Atkins and Gill Plimmer in the Financial Times:
Greece faces 'fire sale' shortfall
The austerity measures call for an independent privatisation agency to be established within weeks to handle a programme of disposals, including the sale of strategic stakes in state- owned utilities and leases in state-owned property for tourist development. Independent research suggests, however, that Greece will struggle to raise much more than a quarter of the €50 billion it needs from the assets sales and privatisations unless it adds more prime land and cultural heritage to its sales list.

Only €13bn of assets are ready to sell, leaving a €37bn shortfall, says a study by the Privatisation Barometer, a Milan-based institute sponsored by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei and KPMG. This includes €6.6bn from offloading stakes in 15 listed groups and an "optimistic" €7bn from the sale of 70 unlisted groups, where the yields are more difficult to assess. "At this stage, no one really knows what Greece Inc is worth, but it’s clear that it will fall short," said Bernardo Bortolotti, a corporate finance professor at the University of Turin who produced the analysis.

Ilargi: Greece Inc. Put up for sale by a bunch of foreign governments and creditors and a government made up of domestic elites. Something here stinks. Did the IMF, ECB and EU really have no idea at all that the firesale sale profits would be far short of €50 billion? And if they did, which looks far more likely, what does that tell us? And what happens after that disppointing sale?

First, back to the reasons behind the expected firesale shortfall. Rupert Neate for the Guardian:
Debt-laden Greece finds no buyers in 'fire sale' of national assets
Nikos Stathopoulous, managing partner of BC Partners, which has invested more than €3.5bn in Greece, said investors are put off by bureaucracy, strong unions, corruption and a lack of transparency. "Even in the good times Greece is not a country that attracts investment. Foreign investors don't want to invest in a country where there is no flexibility in hiring and firing people," he said. "You don't want to invest in a country in which you wake up and a new law has been passed which totally undermines and destroys the value of the investment you've just made."

Stathopoulous said investors were finding it very hard to assess the risk of investing into Greece, which means assets "will be priced at lower than they are worth, lower than the Greek government, and even the European Union, expects". Aref Lahham, managing director and founding partner of Orion Capital Managers, said most private equity firms would not buy Greek assets because the "risks are too high". He added: "I think people will not buy those assets, that is the sad truth." [..]

Lahham said Greece's ambition to sell €15bn of assets by 2012 and the full €50bn by 2015 meant there was not enough time to carry out due diligence properly. "I simply do not believe the timescale. I'm afraid it is not going to happen within times - I'm afraid it is a fire sale."

Christodoulakis denied that the hastily arranged sell-off was a fire sale, preferring to describe it as a "professionally managed privatisation plan". "We may sell them cheaper than [during normal conditions] but we will devote the funds to buying back debt, that means we are going to buy it back when it is cheaper." When a fellow Greek interrupted to say the sell-off was "destroying our country", Christodoulakis said there was "no point crying over spilt milk" and told his countryman to "try and be optimistic".

Ilargi: Well, we stand corrected. It's not a fire sale, but a "professionally managed privatisation plan". Yeah, exactly. That's what stinks here. isn't it? That's where that familiar smell comes from. It has the fingerprints of the IMF all over it. All the way back to the economic warfare the institution initiated in South America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and everywhere it goes.

Greece has become the next chapter in Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. Some of the faces at the IMF may have changed, but the blueprints for these kinds of operations are still the same; if anything, they've become even more perfected. Teams of economic hitmen and henchmen are sent into a country to sell everything that isn't nailed down to the highest bidder, but for the lowest price.

In order to achieve the last bit, all you need to do is write an agreement that is one on one contingent on an unrealistically high estimate of a group of assets, make sure their sale falls short of that estimate, and send in the hitmen again. And then you rinse and repeat until everything has been sold off. In Greece's case, it's all transport infrastructure first, because you know nobody really wants it, hence the sale price will be much lower than what the agreement called for, and in subsequent auctions you pick up the Acropolis and other national treasures.

Meanwhile, you raise taxes as much as you can, and then come back to do it again, while the public sector is gutted, along with health care, education and all those useless non-profitable parts of a society that benefit the people instead of the banks. Talking about banks, do we all still realize that all this is done to pay off debts to international banks that in many if not most cases would not even exist anymore if not for the tax revenues paid by the people of Greece, the rest of Europe, the US etc.? Or have we come to believe in "the recovery", do we now think it's real?

The reason the stock markets are up after the Greek austerity vote is that the IMF has managed yet another step in yet another step financial coup, and this one inside the European Union, no less. That offers great prospects for other weaker parts of Europe. If they can do it in Greece, they can do it in Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy. Unless people in one of these countries say NO, and a lot louder than the Greeks have done.

These things are set-ups. They have nothing to do with saving countries or their economies. They are plans to do the exact opposite: rape and pillage entire economies for the benefit of financial institutions. Read The Shock Doctrine, if you haven't yet, or re-read it if you have, and the patterns become grindingly clear.

The Lex team at the Financial Times may have put it best: Greece is -being- required to "carry out the impossible in order to stave off the inevitable". And it's required to do that on purpose. Thing is, Greece is by no means the first country where the Milton Friedman Chicago School's predatory "economic theories" wreak havoc and spill untold amounts of blood in the streets. It is the first in Europe, though. They're getting ever closer to what has always been the ultimate goal: remake America in the vein of their cannibalistic insanity.

Jim Puplava sits down with Nicole Foss for an in-depth two-part interview on the challenges she sees coming our way

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James J Puplava CFP with Nicole M Foss, June 30, 2011

Nicole Foss joins Jim Puplava on Financial Sense Newshour in the first of a two-part interview to talk about peak oil, the next financial crash, and the challenges she sees coming our way.
Nicole is senior editor of The Automatic Earth, where she writes under the name Stoneleigh. She and her writing partner have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. The site integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and real politik in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what we can do about it.

Greece: reckoning postponed
by LEX - FT

The lights are still on in Athens. Greece’s parliament approved a proposal on Wednesday to pursue additional austerity and fiscal adjustment measures. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund can release €12bn of additional funding, enough to allow the government to repay debt maturing up to the end of August. The day of reckoning has been postponed.

The parliamentary vote was actually the second piece of good news on the Greek front this week. The first was that a French proposal to offer some private sector burden-sharing (with European banks reinvesting some maturing government bonds they hold in new, 30-year Greek paper) is gaining traction. If implemented, the proposal could see the potential cost to Europe’s banks of an eventual Greek default roughly halved from the widely accepted haircut figure of 70 per cent.

The French proposal is not policy, however, and will not amount to much if too few private sector investors sign up for it. And none of this week’s developments addresses the central issue of Greece’s insolvency. The success of Greece’s medium term fiscal strategy depends on an unlikely plan to sell €50bn of state assets. The government’s ability to implement the austerity measures must also be questioned: the vote in parliament was held to the sound of rioting and the smell of tear gas.

Throughout the eurozone crisis the EU has insisted that Greece carry out the impossible in order to stave off the inevitable. This approach cannot succeed indefinitely. Greece avoided an immediate and catastrophic default on Wednesday. But the problem of its enormous debt, and its inability realistically to finance itself for years to come, remain as intractable as ever. A default by Greece is likely regardless of what is done (or said). Policymakers and investors need to start planning for that uncomfortable fact.

Greece faces 'fire sale' shortfall
by Kerin Hope, Ralph Atkins and Gill Plimmer - Financial Times

George Provopoulos, the Bank of Greece governor, said the four-year austerity package to be voted on Wednesday by the Greek parliament puts too much emphasis on tax increases and not enough on spending cuts. Further questions have arisen, meanwhile, over sources of revenue for the state from its planned "fire sale" of assets – aiming to raise €50bn ($72bn) by 2015.

The austerity measures call for an independent privatisation agency to be established within weeks to handle a programme of disposals, including the sale of strategic stakes in state- owned utilities and leases in state-owned property for tourist development. Independent research suggests, however, that Greece will struggle to raise much more than a quarter of the €50 billion it needs from the assets sales and privatisations unless it adds more prime land and cultural heritage to its sales list.

Only €13bn of assets are ready to sell, leaving a €37bn shortfall, says a study by the Privatisation Barometer, a Milan-based institute sponsored by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei and KPMG. This includes €6.6bn from offloading stakes in 15 listed groups and an "optimistic" €7bn from the sale of 70 unlisted groups, where the yields are more difficult to assess. "At this stage, no one really knows what Greece Inc is worth, but it’s clear that it will fall short," said Bernardo Bortolotti, a corporate finance professor at the University of Turin who produced the analysis.

The Greek government has already privatised assets worth €25bn in banking, telecoms and energy since 1997, mostly in "salami-style" offerings of equity tranches in state-owned companies.

On Tuesday night, thousands of trade unionists gathered outside the parliament building on Syntagma Square, demanding withdrawal of the proposed privatisations. The Socialist government was struggling to rally dissident deputies with close ties to unions as debate on the measures continued ahead of the vote. Riot police used teargas against militants who attacked shops and set fire to rubbish bins in streets around the square as the unionists’ protest was breaking up.

A 48-hour walkout by public-sector workers shut down state-owned banks and government offices, city transport and most ferry services to the Aegean Islands. Work stoppages by air traffic controllers delayed dozens of international flights using Athens airport. The Indignant Citizens movement, running a Syntagma Square protest camp, asked supporters to stay in the streets throughout Tuesday and Wednesday.

Manolis, a civil engineering student, said: "This is the climax of a month-long protest against measures that are just too harsh for people to take ... We plan to be here nonstop." Theodoros Pangalos, deputy premier, said the next €12bn tranche from an international bail-out loan would not be disbursed unless parliament backed the new measures.

"If we don’t get the money, we face a terrible scenario ... a return to the drachma, with banks besieged by terrified crowds wanting to withdraw their savings," he said. "We will see tanks protecting banks because there won’t be enough police to do it."

Debt-laden Greece finds no buyers in 'fire sale' of national assets
by Rupert Neate - Guardian

While Greece erupted in protest again, representatives of the country's government were at Claridge's hotel trying to drum up international investors' interest in a "fire sale" of its national assets.

Up for sale are 39 airports, 850 ports, railways, motorways, sewage works, a couple of energy companies, banks, defence groups, thousands of acres of land for development, casinos and Greece's national lottery. George Christodoulakis, Greece's special secretary for asset restructuring and privatisations, said the sell-off would raise €50bn (£44bn) to help pay back the country's €110bn bailout debt.

The private equity bosses gathered in the hotel's ballroom for the parade of Greece's national treasures showed little interest in buying anything. Nikos Stathopoulous, managing partner of BC Partners, which has invested more than €3.5bn in Greece, said investors are put off by bureaucracy, strong unions, corruption and a lack of transparency. "Even in the good times Greece is not a country that attracts investment. Foreign investors don't want to invest in a country where there is no flexibility in hiring and firing people," he said. "You don't want to invest in a country in which you wake up and a new law has been passed which totally undermines and destroys the value of the investment you've just made."

Stathopoulous said investors were finding it very hard to assess the risk of investing into Greece, which means assets "will be priced at lower than they are worth, lower than the Greek government, and even the European Union, expects". Aref Lahham, managing director and founding partner of Orion Capital Managers, said most private equity firms would not buy Greek assets because the "risks are too high". He added: "I think people will not buy those assets, that is the sad truth."

Lahham said more than half of the assets up for sale comprises land for commercial or residential development, which is unattractive because of the difficulty of securing financing to build in Greece. His firm was attracted by the potential of Greek tourism but legislation made it difficult for foreign companies to develop the country's islands and beaches. "Greece is a fantastic tourism destination with very undeveloped infrastructure. There isn't a Four Seasons or a Shangri-La or a Peninsula or any of the major hotel chains in Greece," he said. "It's strange, they would love to be there and we would love to build it for them, but somehow regulations don't allow you to do so."

Lahham said Greece's ambition to sell €15bn of assets by 2012 and the full €50bn by 2015 meant there was not enough time to carry out due diligence properly. "I simply do not believe the timescale. I'm afraid it is not going to happen within times - I'm afraid it is a fire sale."

Christodoulakis denied that the hastily arranged sell-off was a fire sale, preferring to describe it as a "professionally managed privatisation plan". "We may sell them cheaper than [during normal conditions] but we will devote the funds to buying back debt, that means we are going to buy it back when it is cheaper." When a fellow Greek interrupted to say the sell-off was "destroying our country", Christodoulakis said there was "no point crying over spilt milk" and told his countryman to "try and be optimistic".

Greek government austerity measures
by BBC

The Greek parliament is debating the latest set of austerity measures, which it needs to pass to qualify for another payment under the bail-out from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The five-year plan was changed last week to allow for more money to be raised through tax increases and less money to be saved through spending cuts. The plan involves cutting 14.32bn euros ($20.50bn; £12.82bn) of public spending, while raising 14.09bn euros in taxes over five years. These are some of the austerity measures planned.

  • Taxes will increase by 2.32bn euros this year, with additional taxes of 3.38bn euros in 2012, 152m euros in 2013 and 699m euros in 2014.
  • A solidarity levy of between 1% and 5% of income will be levied on households to raise 1.38bn euros.
  • The tax-free threshold for income tax will be lowered from 12,000 to 8,000 euros.
  • There will be higher property taxes
  • VAT rates are to rise: the 19% rate will increase to 23%, 11% becomes 13%, and 5.5% will increase to 6.5%.
  • The VAT rate for restaurants and bars will rise to 23% from 13%.
  • Luxury levies will be introduced on yachts, pools and cars.
  • Some tax exemptions will be scrapped
  • Excise taxes on fuel, cigarettes and alcohol will rise by one third.
  • Special levies on profitable firms, high-value properties and people with high incomes will be introduced.

Public Sector Cuts
  • The public sector wage bill will be cut by 770m euros in 2011, 600m euros in 2012, 448m euros in 2013, 300m euros in 2014 and 71m euros in 2015.
  • Nominal public sector wages will be cut by 15%.
  • Wages of employees of state-owned enterprises will be cut by 30% and there will be a cap on wages and bonuses.
  • All temporary contracts for public sector workers will be terminated.
  • Only one in 10 civil servants retiring this year will be replaced and only one in 5 in coming years.

Spending Cuts
  • Defence spending will be cut by 200m euros in 2012, and by 333m euros each year from 2013 to 2015.
  • Health spending will be cut by 310m euros this year and a further 1.81bn euros in 2012-2015, mainly by lowering regulated prices for drugs.
  • Public investment will be cut by 850m euros this year.
  • Subsidies for local government will be reduced.
  • Education spending will be cut by closing or merging 1,976 schools.

Cutting Benefits
  • Social security will be cut by 1.09bn euros this year, 1.28bn euros in 2012, 1.03bn euros in 2013, 1.01bn euros in 2014 and 700m euros in 2015.
  • There will be more means-testing and some benefits will be cut.
  • The government hopes to collect more social security contributions by cracking down on evasion and undeclared work.
  • The statutory retirement age will be raised to 65, 40 years of work will be needed for a full pension and benefits will be linked more closely to lifetime contributions.

  • The government aims to raise 50bn euros from privatisations by 2015, including:
  • Selling stakes this year in the betting monopoly OPAP, the lender Hellenic Postbank, port operators Piraeus Port and Thessaloniki Port as well as Thessaloniki Water.
  • It has agreed to sell 10% of Hellenic Telecom to Deutsche Telekom for about 400m euros.
  • Next year, the government plans to sell stakes in Athens Water, refiner Hellenic Petroleum, electricity utility PPC, lender ATEbank as well as ports, airports, motorway concessions, state land and mining rights.
    It plans further sales to raise 7bn euros in 2013, 13bn euros in 2014 and 15bn euros in 2015.

Sources: Reuters, Greek Ministry of Finance Economic Policy Programme Newsletter

'Revolution is the only solution - in Greece nobody has a future'
by Damian Mac Con Uladh - Irish Times

Violence in Athens marred the start of an unprecedented 48-hour general strike in Greece, as the country’s MPs began a two-day debate on a fresh round of austerity measures yesterday. A total of 158 MPs have registered to speak in the debate ahead of tomorrow evening’s vote on a €28 billion austerity plan and €50 billion privatisation programme, the first of two knife-edge votes for Greek prime minister George Papandreou this week.

The second vote, on Thursday, concerns a law to implement the measures, which have sparked fury among the Greek public. Greeks will see their tax bill increase significantly under the new tax regime. A couple with two children and earning €20,000 a year, for example, will pay €840 more in taxes and levies – €640 of which represents income tax hikes and €200 the first payment in a three-year special levy that will be docked from salaries.

Property taxes are also set to increase, with the owners of houses worth more than €300,000 to pay a new €200 tax. Road duty is also to go up by 10 per cent. As the parliament argued over the new austerity programme, thousands of Greeks took to the streets of the capital in protest at the measures, following a call from the country’s private and public trade union federations.

"Everyone has to demonstrate because in Greece nobody has a future," said 37-year-old protester Elena Priovolou. "I think revolution is the only solution, not just in Greece but in the European Union," continued the unemployed film editor, who says she receives no state benefits.

The demonstrations remained generally peaceful until about 2pm, when scores of koukouloforoi, a Greek term for hooded rioters, began showering riot police with stones and bottles on Athens’s central Syntagma Square. Police lines responded with tear gas and, in cases, stones. Rioters, clad in gas masks and helmets, set dumpsters alight and rounded on a mobile telecommunications van which went up in flames. A number of journalists, cameramen and photographers were also confronted by the rioters, who also attacked peaceful demonstrators.

After night fell, thousands of peaceful demonstrators returned to Syntagma Square to chant insults at parliament, as they have done every night for more than a month. A large group listened to a concert in the centre of the square while, in the side streets, gangs of rioters continued to hurl rocks at police, who responded sporadically with tear gas. Mr Papandreou’s European counterparts have warned that the payment of the next €12 billion tranche under Greece’s existing bailout mechanism, as well as the setting up of a new bailout package worth €120 billion, is conditional on both pieces of legislation being passed.

"They must be approved if the next tranche of financial assistance is to be released," said EU economics and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn as the Greek debate got under way. "To those who speculate about other options, let me say this clearly: there is no Plan B to avoid default," he continued.

Although in recent days four MPs from Mr Papandreou’s ruling Socialist Pasok Party opposed the new austerity and privatisation measures, intense pressure has been brought on them to fall into line by Greece’s new finance minister Evangelos Venizelos. Yesterday, one of the wavering Pasok MPs indicated that he might vote for the package. Another, who objects to the partial privatisation of the country’s electricity company, hinted he may also return to the Pasok fold if the government makes some minor concessions.

Despite appeals from his European conservative counterparts and from Mr Papandreou, Antonis Samaras, the leader of the Conservative New Democracy party, is maintaining his opposition to the austerity legislation. However, due to the unbundling of the implementation law, to be passed on Thursday, into separate components, Mr Samaras’ party may vote for aspects that it agrees with, such as the privatisation of state-run industries.

Greek Relief May Be Short-Lived
by Richard Barley - Wall Street Journal

Global markets have dodged a bullet. Greece has voted "yes" to more austerity, paving the way for the disbursement of €12 billion ($17 billion) in bailout loans and avoiding a messy default. The vote in the end was relatively comfortable, with 155 Greek lawmakers in favor, including some who previously had vowed to vote against, and 138 against. But investors can't breathe easy yet. Greece still is a source of risk, and the global picture is gloomy.

For Greece, the focus will move to implementation, with another vote due on Thursday. Meanwhile, the French plan to roll over Greek debt falls far short of being a Brady-style solution for Greece and has yet to receive the ratings firms' blessings. Further negotiations with the euro zone and International Monetary Fund aren't likely to be easy. That might mean a continued twin shortfall on both Greek overhauls and funding.

At the same time, there is a body of evidence that the global economy is slowing. Chinese manufacturing is close to stagnating, the HSBC Purchasing Managers Index shows; even the purring motor of the German economy has shifted down a gear. Southern Europe is crawling along. In many developed countries, fiscal policy is being tightened to repair strained balance sheets. In many emerging economies, interest rates are rising to contain inflation. The Federal Reserve's second bond-purchase program, known as quantitative easing, is winding down, potentially removing support for risky assets as net Treasury bond supply picks up. The market now expects Fed policy to remain on hold well into 2012. The Bank of England has dropped hints of more quantitative easing.

Yet compared with the end of the first quarter, when the outlook for the global economy was brighter, many asset prices have remained resilient. The S&P 500-stock index is down just 1.9%, the Stoxx Europe 600 has fallen 3.5%. Corporate bond spreads in the U.S. and Europe are only modestly wider. The most obvious signs of tension from the Greek crisis may ease. The Swiss franc may fall against the euro; safe-haven German, U.S. and U.K. bond yields should rise; and yield spreads for Spanish and Italian bonds should compress. But until investors are sure that the slowdown in growth is just a soft patch rather than something more sinister, risk assets more broadly may struggle to make much headway.

German Banks Agree to Greek Aid Deal
by Ulrike Dauer and Patrick McGroarty - Wall Street Journal

Germany's major banks have agreed to take part in a new aid program for Greece by accepting longer maturities on some €2 billion ($2.9 billion) in bonds that currently fall due in 2014, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Thursday. The agreement, which follows a French plan reached last weekend, comes in time for euro-zone finance ministers discuss the aid program at a meeting in Brussels on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters alongside Deutsche Bank AG Chief Executive Josef Ackermann, Mr. Schäuble said German banks hold some €10 billion in Greek government bonds but about 55% of them aren't due to mature until after 2020. The smaller portion due by 2014, around €2 billion, would be the focus of this agreement, he said.

Mr. Schäuble said the agreement, based on a similar proposal put forward in France, would help euro-zone finance ministers determine the broad outlines of a new aid package for Greece. The so-called Eurogroup of euro-zone finance ministers meets Sunday in Brussels. Mr. Ackermann said he recognizes that banks and euro-zone governments need to cooperate on a "quantifiable, sustainable solution." "We are certain that Greece needs to be helped with further aid," he said.

Greece has €64 billion of bonds maturing by 2014. It will need more aid on top of the €110 billion program it received from its euro-zone partners and the International Monetary Fund to meet future commitments. Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders Thursday said that progress on talks between European governments and private-sector creditors is pushing forward a plan to solve Greece's most urgent debt problems. "We try in different capital cities to discuss with banks, insurance companies and pension funds to manage it on a voluntary basis," Mr. Reynders said in Paris. "We've seen some progress in the private sector."

Mr. Reynders also said that although it is possible that the Eurogroup meeting of euro-zone finance ministers on Sunday won't iron out all the plan's details, it may produced a go-ahead for the next tranche of Greek aid worth between €11 billion and €12 billion to be paid by mid-July.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet Thursday said it is in "Greece's interest" and in the interest of all of its neighbors to find a solution to the country's debt crisis. "I hope we can conduct this debate in a more serious way than hitherto," he said. He stressed that he is against any involvement of the private sector in a "debt action" for Greece that isn't purely voluntary. He said that adjustment for Greece "is the first priority," adding that privatization is important for the embattled Hellenic Republic.

ECB Governing Council Member Ewald Nowotny called the French proposal on private-sector involvement "a very, very interesting step for some countries." However he said it is important that there is a common European solution, adding that discussions were taking place.

Better Save Some of That Tear Gas for Portugal, Spain, Italy
by Mark Gongloff - Wall Street Journal

We’re all mesmerized — though apparently not the least bit bothered — today by the images of rioting in Greece as politicians there struggle to hammer out austerity plans that will get the country its next bit of methadone, er, bailout money.

But developments elsewhere in Europe threaten to steal the spotlight back from Greece ultimately and add to the degree of unhappiness. March Chandler at Brown Brothers Harriman reports, you decide:

First, note that Portugal’s Q1 budget deficit came in at 8.7% of GDP. This year’s target is 5.9% (2010=9.2%). New austerity measures will likely be forthcoming shortly. Recall that the old government collapsed when the opposition balked at the extreme austerity. The EU/IMF softened the terms under the aid package, but the new government now has to dust off those proposals that it previously blocked. This is a subtle example of the political instability that the IMF/EU plan seems to generate.

Second, political problems are coming to the fore in Spain. The minority Socialist government (seven seats shy) will need the opposition support for next year’s budget. The Catalan Party yesterday indicated it will not support the government’s budget. Neither will the main opposition party. The budget will not come up for a parliamentary vote until September. Even through Spanish law allows for a reversion to the previous year’s budget, tradition requires an election. The risk is that Prime Minister Zapatero does not complete his term that expires March 2012.

Moody’s has expressed concern about the regional fiscal slippage. The region’s account for 1/3 of the government spending and half of the public sector workers. Total debt regional debt was 11.4% of GDP in Q1 11 up from 10.8% in Q4 10. Austerity measures are not being shared equitably between the central government and the regions. The central bank warned a couple weeks ago that regional finances are worsening. Despite the passage of some labor reforms, the IMF has has urged Spain to accelerate its efforts to overhaul the economy.

Third, Italy is likely to announce additional austerity measures as early as tomorrow. S&P warned in May and Moody’s in June about the outlook for Italy’s credit worthiness. Prime Minister Berlusconi has had a number of setback already this year at the hands of the public, but his most pressing challenge is within his government. Coalition partner Northern League may not support the 2012 budget and appear to have increased pressure on Finance Minister Tremonti to resign.

Despite all of these warnings of future rioting in the streets and anxious vote-watching, peripheral bond spreads are narrower, and the euro is higher, today on Greek relief. That relief may not be long-lasting.

'EU more worried about Spain than Ireland'
by Brendan Keenan -

European leaders believe they can avoid a debt crisis in Ireland and Portugal, but are concerned that Greece could trigger problems in larger economies such as Spain, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said [Sunday]. His comments came as billionaire investor George Soros said the departure of Greece from the euro was "inevitable."

"The European authorities are more worried about countries like Spain than they are about Ireland and Portugal," Mr Noonan said on RTE radio. "The authorities I have spoken to believe they can prevent contagion spreading to Ireland and Portugal but they have some concerns about the bigger European countries, and they are going to draw the line there. "I presume they will bring other policy instruments forward as necessary."

Earlier, Mr Soros said it's "probably inevitable" that a mechanism will have to be put in place to allow weaker eurozone economies to exit the single currency. "We are on the verge of an economic collapse which starts, let's say, in Greece, but it could easily spread," Mr Soros said at a discussion in Vienna on whether liberal democracy is at risk in Europe.

"I think most of us actually agree that (Europe's crisis) is actually centred around the euro.'' He added: "The authorities are actually engaged in buying time. And yet time is working against them." European leaders have vowed to stave off a Greek default provided Prime Minister George Papandreou pushes through his €78bn reforms package.

Bank of Ireland cancels bond swap amid pensioner protests
by Harry Wilson - Telegraph

Bank of Ireland has been forced to cancel a bond exchange plan that would have seen investors receive just 20pc of their money back. In a statement yesterday, Bank of Ireland said it had withdrawn an exchange offer for £75m of bonds issued by its Bristol & West subsidiary because of "procedural difficulties" some holders were having.

Investors included many pensioners who were dismayed by the writedown they were being asked to take, and the offer had been due to face a legal challenge in the High Court today.
Albert Kempster, a 73-year-old farmer, branded the terms being offered "unfair" and had mounted a legal challenge against the bank's attempt to force a "haircut" on investors.
The court hearing has been postponed in the wake of the cancellation of the offer, however.
Bank of Ireland is 36pc- owned by the Irish state and is currently attempting to raise new money through a rights issue as well forcing through "haircuts" on its debt that are expected to free up €2.6bn (£2.3bn) in capital.

Just 12pc of the Bristol & West bondholders had accepted the exchange offer at the end of last week, compared with an overall acceptance level for its debt reduction plan of 74pc.
About 2,400 retail investors, including many pensioners, are affected by the offer.

Up to 15 EU banks to fail stress test
by Marc Jones and John O'Donnell - Reuters

Up to one in six European banks is set to fail an EU-wide financial health check, according to euro zone sources close to the stress-testing, as officials scramble to set up backstops for those at risk. The result, which the European Central Bank and others hope will persuade investors the European Union was finally coming clean about the extent of banks' problems, will pressure reluctant states to prop up lenders that cannot raise money.

Euro zone sources said the European Banking Authority was set to announce within weeks that 10-15 of 91 banks being scrutinized had failed, with casualties expected in Germany, Greece, Portugal and Spain. The checks will provide the first picture of the health of EU banks since a previous round a year ago was deemed too lax. In that round, Irish banks were all given a clean bill of health months before their difficulties drove the country to seek an international bailout.

The new checks will measure how well the core capital that banks rely on to absorb losses such as unpaid loans holds up when exposed to an economic dip or fall in property prices. They also gauge the impact on banks should government bonds they own, issued by states such as Greece, lose value. But the tests stop short of assessing the full impact of a country defaulting, including the likely resultant freeze in interbank lending.

In the drive for credibility, the EBA, which runs the tests and the ECB, which sets the economic scenarios, have pushed for more banks to fail than last year's seven. "How many do we expect to fail? I would say 10 to 15," said one senior euro zone central banking source.

The EBA wants the number of banks that do not pass the tests to be around that level to show the examinations were serious, said a second source, adding the authority did not want to push for more, for fear it could spark panic. "In order to demonstrate that it is credible, the EBA would need to show that the number of bank failures is significant, without being substantial," said the source. "A number in the teens is about right." A spokeswoman for the EBA said testing was still under way and declined to comment on speculation about the outcome.

Technical and Political
The tests are technical, as well as political. While the EBA and ECB want to show up the failures, national regulators want to stop their banks appearing on the list, concerned they would look incompetent for not having spotted problems themselves.

EU authorities want to expose laggard groups around the EU, said the second source, avoiding too many problems in weak countries, such as Spain, as that could prompt international lenders to shun the country and its banks. "They are going to find a way of preventing one center ... from sticking out," said the source. "If it were to be Spain, it would be very bad news. Failing German banks in a stress tests would be much safer."

The EBA, due to announce the results in mid-July to coincide with a meeting of EU finance ministers, also faces pressure from governments wanting to avoid flops that may force them to come up with financial support. One EU official said disagreement with Germany over how to apply the stress-test criteria had delayed the conclusion of the bank checks by some weeks, until July.

German regulators, who privately deny they upset the timetable by refusing to apply the criteria agreed, blame imprecise EBA templates and say the stress tests could be delayed again beyond the middle of July. "Every national regulator will be fighting for none of their banks to be on the list," said the source. "It is a mark of incompetence. It is a reputational issue and it is an issue of money."

High-level officials from European finance ministries are now working on how to help those given a failing grade. Andrea Enria, head of the EBA, last week called on governments to put plans in place to help banks that failed or were shown to be vulnerable.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the EBA said governments must not be slow to plug any capital holes exposed in the checks. "It is important that concrete and decisive actions by the banks and authorities are taken following the results, including ensuring that credible capital plans ... are taken to address deficiencies."

Although the EBA is insisting on the publication of each bank's sovereign debt holdings by maturity as well as size, it is ultimately the number of banks which fail that will establish the credibility of the checks. "If it was the same as last time when seven failed, next to nothing, then no one would believe it," said one source. "But you cannot fail 50, or the banking system would collapse."

US home prices drop 4% in April
by Shannon Bond - Financial TImes

The kick-off of spring buying helped support the US housing market in April, but home prices dropped 4 per cent from the same period a year earlier as falling sales and a weak labour market weighed on the sector. Meanwhile, US consumer confidence fell to a seven-month low as Americans worried about high unemployment.

Prices of single-family houses in the 20 largest US cities sank 4 per cent from April 2010, the steepest drop since November 2009, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. The yearly fall was in line with expectations, following a 3.8 per cent decline in March. Prices in the spring and early summer of 2010 had been boosted by the government’s first-time homebuyers’ tax credit.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, prices were 0.1 per cent lower than in March, better than a forecast 0.2 per cent monthly dip, but it was the 10th straight month of price declines as the housing market continues to struggle amid a lacklustre recovery.

"The seasonally adjusted numbers show that much of the improvement reflects the beginning of the spring-summer home buying season. It is much too early to tell if this is a turning point or simply due to some warmer weather," said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P’s index committee. "For a real recovery we would need to see several months of increasing home prices, large enough to shift the annual momentum to the positive side."

New home sales have fallen 13.6 per cent from January to May, and last month the supply of new houses on the market fell to a record low. Meanwhile, the inventory of existing homes, many of which are prices at steep discounts, has continued to rise as banks work through a growing backlog of homes in foreclosure. The oversupply of distressed properties has been a drag on home values, discouraging many homeowners from selling and prompting American households to rein in consumption.

"It’s hard to sell when buyers have the leverage and foreclosures continue to create a gap between distressed sale prices and non-distressed sale prices," said Jonathan Basile, director of economics at Credit Suisse. "Homeowners’ unwillingness to sell remains high given the widespread declines in prices – 92 per cent of homeowners said it was a bad time to sell their home in May, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers."

Tuesday’s figures showed that prices fell over the year in 19 of the 20 cities, led by Minneapolis’s 11.1 per cent annual plunge. Washington was the only city where prices rose, climbing 4 per cent. On a monthly basis, unadjusted prices rose in 13 cities, led by Washington, but prices fell to new lows in Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami and Tampa.

Separately, the Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence fell again in June, dropping to 58.5 from May’s upwardly revised 61.7. Economists had predicted the reading would tick up to 61.0 from last month’s originally reported 60.8.

Rising pessimism was driven by a gloomier assessment of current conditions and a more negative short-term outlook, said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board. "Given the combination of uneasiness about the economic outlook and future earnings, consumers are likely to continue weighing their spending decisions quite carefully," she said.

Consumers’ evaluation of present conditions decreased to 37.6 from 39.3 in May, while expectations for the next six months fell to 72.4 from 76.7. More people said jobs were "hard to get," while fewer respondents said they expect more jobs in the months ahead. Consumers were also less optimistic that their incomes would grow in the second half of the year.

The drop in confidence in the labour market was likely a reflection of May’s grim non-farm payrolls report, Credit Suisse’s Jill Brown noted. Private-sector jobs grew by just 83,000 in May and the unemployment rate climbed to 9.1 per cent.

UK bank chief warns of wave of home repossessions if rates rise
by Jill Treanor - Guardian

Britain is facing a 'tsunami' of house repossessions as soon as interest rates start to rise, one of the country's leading bankers has warned. Richard Banks, the chief executive of UK Asset Resolution (UKAR), the body that runs the £80bn of mortgages bailed out by the taxpayer during the banking crisis, also said in an interview with the Guardian that the Labour government's pleas at the start of the crisis for lenders to keep families in their homes was forcing some homeowners further into debt.

In a warning that the industry may have been too lenient with some of its customers, he said he believed a policy of "tough love" would be fairer to people facing long-term difficulty in keeping up payments on loans taken out when house prices were at their peak and personal incomes on the rise. His warning came the day after the international bank regulator said the Bank of England, which has kept rates at 0.5% for more than two years, would have to raise rates shortly to curb inflation.

The Bank of International Settlements said the policy of the Bank of England, whose rate-setting committee is split over whether or not to increase borrowing costs, was "unsustainable". With 750,000 customers, UK Asset Resolution, set up to run the nationalised mortgages of Bradford & Bingley and parts of Northern Rock, is the country's fifth largest mortgage lender. But 23,000 of those mortgage holders are more than six months behind with payments and Banks admitted the projections for the number of people falling behind on payments could get "scary" if lenders did nothing to prepare for higher rates.

"You can see if you don't do something about it, you can see a tsunami," he said. "If you don't get into the hills you could get drowned by this. If you don't manage this properly it could get very messy."

He regards it is an industry-wide problem, albeit one that might be concentrated at UKAR as its customers include buy-to-let landlords and so-called self-certified borrowers – those without salaried income. UKAR, through three calls centres in Crossflatts, West Yorkshire, Gosforth, Newcastle, and Doxford, Sunderland, has begun cold-calling customers it believes are at risk of falling behind on payments in an attempt to keep their mortgage payments on schedule. The bank is also trying to tackle customers behind with payments for six months or more and at risk of repossession.

His concern about a surge in repossessions is partly the result of moves by the industry early in the 2008 crisis to grant so-called forbearance to help customers stay in homes by, for example, reducing monthly interest payments. "We as an industry, as a kneejerk reaction in the emergence of the crisis, and because the government asked us to be forbearing to customers in the hope it would all go away, we have been too lenient with some customers.

"It's a tough love approach," he said. "It's treating customers fairly, not nicely, because if you can't afford your mortgage you are only increasing your indebtedness. If we allow you to increase your indebtedness, that's not really fair to you."

This month the Council of Mortgage Lenders forecast a rise in repossessions from 40,000 this year to 45,000 next. This figure would still remain well below the 75,500 peak of 1991. The remarks by Banks follow a warning last week from the new regulator set up to spot financial risks in the system – the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) inside the Bank of England – that warned banks may be providing a "misleading picture of their financial health" if they were not making big enough provisions for borrowers in difficulty.

Forbearance has been brought into play in up to 12% of mortgages, the FPC said. It also noted that the most "vulnerable" households were concentrated in a few banks. It did not scrutinise UKAR but noted that the two other bailed-out banks, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, had the largest exposure to customers whose mortgages were bigger than their value of their homes.

Last month, the Financial Services Authority issued a guide to handling forbearance in which it warned: "Arrears and forbearance support provided with due care by firms has a beneficial impact for both the firm and the customer … However, where such support is provided without due care or any knowledge or understanding of the impacts, it has potentially adverse implications for the customer, for the firm's understanding of the risks inherent within its lending book, and in turn for the regulators and the market."

Bank of America nears $8.5 billion deal over mortgage-backed securities
by E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times

The proposed payment by Bank of America would settle claims by large investors including Pimco and BlackRock Inc.

In the latest blow from its takeover of Countrywide Financial Corp., Bank of America Corp. tentatively agreed to pay $8.5 billion to settle claims by large investors stung by losses on mortgage-related securities that Countrywide issued.

The final details of the agreement were still being worked out, according to a bank executive knowledgeable about the pending settlement but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

The 22 investors, including money-management giants Pacific Investment Management Co. of Newport Beach and BlackRock Inc. of New York, held $56 billion in bonds backed by loans from Countrywide, once the nation's largest home lender and an aggressive supplier of subprime and other high-risk mortgages.

"This transaction essentially takes all Countrywide's private-label mortgage-backed securities off the table," the executive said Tuesday. "It's considered to be a significant step forward in Bank of America putting the Countrywide issues behind us."

The pending settlement covers only mortgage-related securities issued by Countrywide and not those that BofA issued on its own.

BofA shares, which had lost 3 cents on the day, were up 12 cents at $10.94 in after-hours trading after word of the impending deal leaked. Some estimates of the bank's liability had been much higher than $8.5 billion.

"The Street will view this as a good number," said Paul Miller, an analyst with FBR Capital Markets.

Nearly all major mortgage issuers of that era bundled up most of their loans and sold them to private investors as well as to government-sponsored entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Fannie, Freddie and a host of institutional investors have demanded that the banks buy back many of the mortgage bonds, contending that the lenders understated the riskiness of the loans and mishandled troubled borrowers after the industry's meltdown beginning in 2007.

Bank of America agreed in January to pay Fannie and Freddie $2.8 billion to settle demands for buybacks of flawed home loans, in addition to some $3.5 billion in such payments it had already made to them.

The pending settlement would be the first with private mortgage bond investors, but it's unlikely to be the last. Among other big lenders with major exposure are Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chase had bought the remains of one of the most aggressive lenders, Washington Mutual Bank, after the Seattle-based thrift became the largest bank failure in history.

BofA, based in Charlotte, N.C., has struggled to put Countrywide's woes behind it since 2008 when it paid $2.5 billion in stock for the Calabasas-based mortgage specialist.

The bank settled securities-fraud accusations by some major Countrywide shareholders in August, but before the deal was finalized 33 plaintiffs — including the California Public Employees' Retirement System — dropped out to seek more money on their own.

And in April, BofA agreed to pay $1.1 billion to mortgage insurer Assured Guaranty Ltd. Other mortgage insurers are pressing claims to try to recover losses they sustained on Countrywide loans.

BofA is also among five major loan servicers negotiating with a coalition of state attorneys general and federal officials seeking damages and reforms following revelations that the lenders shortcut procedures and failed to follow laws while foreclosing on borrowers.

The damages under discussion in that case range from a total of $5 billion to more than $20 billion, according to people close to the negotiations.

US downgrade worries hang over Treasuries
by Michael Mackenzie - Financial Times

A $100bn hit for investors. That is the price being put on the unthinkable: a downgrade of US debt should Republicans and Democrats fail to strike a deal on America’s debt ceiling. Judging by the very low levels of Treasury bond yields, which move inversely to bond price, investors for now appear sanguine about the risk that the US could lose its coveted triple A rating.

Indeed, the world’s biggest and most liquid government bond market, at $10,000bn and growing, has a number of built-in attractions, in particular its reserve currency status, that suggest it could shrug aside the loss of its top rating. With investors fretting over Greece and other debt-laden eurozone members, the US bond market is once more a haven in times of trouble. Signs of weakening global and US growth are also helping boost the appeal of owning Treasury debt.

But, given that the US Treasury market has more than doubled from $4,500bn since 2007, and faces a "daunting" budget outlook according to the Congressional Budget Office, there is growing concern that Treasury debt is on the path to losing its triple A rating. This year, the ratio of US debt to the size of the US economy will approach 100 per cent. And just last week the CBO projected that, without significant policy changes that address an aging population and rising per capita healthcare costs, federal debt will reach nearly 200 per cent of gross domestic product by 2035.

Projections of large long term deficits moved rating agency Standard & Poor’s in April to revise its outlook on the US credit rating from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’. Now research from Standard & Poor’s Valuation and Risk Strategies, a research arm of S&P’s parent McGraw Hill, estimates that should US debt be downgraded, losses for investors owning Treasury paper could total $100bn.

Michael Thompson, managing director at S&P Valuation and Risk Strategies, says his team arrived at these findings by tracking average credit default swap rates for sovereign credits around the world to determine a range of interest rate fluctuations that could be expected if the US triple A rating was lowered. They then combined this rate movement data with bond duration data and total debt outstanding to determine the potential price drop.

Mr Thompson says if the US were downgraded to double A, CDS rates would increase 23.2 basis points and if it were downgraded to single A, CDS rates would increase 37.5 basis points. In turn, given that the 10-year note has a modified duration of approximately 8.5 years, its price would drop by 2 per cent and 3.2 per cent for ratings reductions to ‘AA’ and ‘A’, respectively.

Such calculations may be little more than an academic exercise, given the reserve currency status enjoyed by the US. Richard Gilhooly, strategist at TD Securities, says: "Regardless of what Moody’s and S&P say, the market still needs a benchmark and that’s the US. If the US becomes double A plus, that's the new triple A."

Japan is a case in point where ratings downgrades of government debt, for example, have not prevented yields staying very low, even if, unlike the US, most of that country’s outstanding debt is held domestically. By contrast, nearly half of US Treasuries is held by foreign investors as the US market sits at the centre of the global financial system and is viewed as a safe haven and extensively used as collateral by investors across markets.

Fidelio Tata, head of US interest rate strategy at Société Générale says: "Treasuries are so big and liquid as a market and investors have no other choice for a benchmark." He adds: "It’s more of an academic argument as to how a downgrade would affect the market."

A sovereign risk index developed by BlackRock ranks sovereign debt issuers according to the relative likelihood of default, devaluation or above-trend inflation. Based on their metrics, the US is currently ranked in the lower half of countries perceived as being stronger, behind China and Germany, but ahead of the UK, France and Japan.

While this suggests the odds of a downgrade are low, not all bond investors are so sanguine. Bill Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of Pimco, has been very vocal about the long term US fiscal position and has turned negative on US government debt.

The spectre of a downgrade could come a lot sooner than some think as Washington continues to wrangle over increasing the $14,300bn Federal debt ceiling ahead of an early August deadline.

Given that some $4,000bn of Treasury debt is used as collateral across the financial system, any delay in raising the debt ceiling could upset the vital infrastructure that supports daily trading across bonds. "Even a short suspension of payments on principal or interest on the Treasury’s debt obligations could cause severe disruptions in financial markets and the payments system," Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, said earlier this month.

There could be a significant impact on bond prices. JPMorgan polled 45 large clients recently for their views of how much the yield on 10-year notes would rise in the event of a missed coupon payment by the Treasury. The mean response was 37 basis points, but foreign investors expected a significantly larger initial increase than domestic investors at 55bp.

The bank estimates a 20 per cent reduction in Treasury holdings by foreign investors over a one year period would result in Treasury yields rising by 50bp to 60bp. These higher interest costs would increase annual deficits by $10bn in the short run, and by $75bn per year over time, only serving to make the US’s task of cutting its budget deficit even tougher.

U.S. Consumer Confidence Falls to Seven-Month Low
by Alex Kowalski and Jillian Berman - Bloomberg

Consumer confidence dropped to a seven-month low in June as Americans grew concerned about the outlook for jobs and wages. The Conference Board’s sentiment index decreased to 58.5 from a revised 61.7 in May that was higher than previously estimated, figures from the New York-based private research group showed today. Home prices fell in the year ended in April by the most in 17 months, another report showed.

Unemployment hovering around 9 percent, deterioration in the housing market and a drop in share prices may restrain Americans’ sentiment, raising the risk that the biggest part of the economy will stagnate. The Federal Reserve last week kept in place record monetary stimulus to help nurture the expansion through what it views is a "temporary" slowdown.

"We have a fairly weak economy with little to no job growth," said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. "With consumers so worried about their job prospects, I’m not so sure that we can count on demand picking up. The housing market is dead in the water."

Home values in 20 cities declined 4 percent in the 12 months to April, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index. From March to April, values fell 0.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, the smallest decline since July 2010. "Home prices are still easing, but the declines are not dramatic anymore," said Harm Bandholz, chief U.S. economist at Unicredit Group in New York, who correctly predicted the year- over-year drop. While month-to-month changes show "prices have basically bottomed and are moving sideways," he said "we’re a long way away from significant increases in house prices."

Stocks Rise
Stocks climbed on optimism that a deal can be reached to help Greece avoid defaulting on its debt. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 1.3 percent to 1,296.67 at the 4 p.m. close in New York. Treasuries slumped, pushing up the yield on the benchmark 10-year note to 3.03 percent from 2.93 percent late yesterday.

Economists predicted a June reading of 61, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Projections ranged from 55 to 66.7 in the survey of 69 economists. The index averaged 98 during the last economic expansion that ended in December 2007. The group’s measure of present conditions deceased to 37.6 from 39.3 in May. The measure of expectations for the next six months dropped to 72.4, the lowest since October, from 76.7.

Sentiment Figures
Today’s report parallels other data on consumer sentiment. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment fell to 71.8 in June from 74.3 in May. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index declined to minus 44.9 for the week ended June 19 from minus 44.0 the prior week. The percent of respondents in the Conference Board survey expecting more jobs to become available in the next six months slumped to 14.2 from 16.7 the previous month. The proportion expecting their incomes to decline rose to the highest since August.

Confidence declined in eight of nine U.S. regions, today’s report showed. Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, fell 0.1 percent in April and May after adjusting for changes in prices, a report yesterday from the Commerce Department showed. It was the first back-to-back decline since March and April 2009, when the economy was still in a recession.

Buying Plans
Fewer respondents in the Conference Board’s survey indicated they were planning to buy cars, homes or major appliances in the next six months. Weak employment gains may be keeping consumers out of stores. Employers added 54,000 jobs in May, the slowest pace in eight months, according to June 3 Labor Department figures.

Fed officials cut their projections for economic growth this year and raised their estimates for the jobless rate after their June 21-22 meeting, noting that "the damping effect of higher food and energy prices on consumer purchasing power and spending" contributed to the slowdown. Gasoline prices retreated to $3.55 on June 27 from an almost three-year high of $3.99 high on May 4, according to figures from AAA, the largest auto club. The decline may free up some income for consumers to spend on other goods and services.

The Conference Board’s report showed 38 percent of respondents, the most March 2009, expected stocks to decline in the next year. Rick Dreiling, chairman and chief executive officer of Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dollar General Corp., said he expects continued unemployment to weigh on consumer confidence. The largest U.S. dollar-store chain posted a first-quarter profit on June 1 that fell short of analysts’ estimates.

"We are remaining cautious as unemployment, and just as importantly, underemployment, gas prices, food inflation and the general uncertainties of the economic outlook continue to challenge customers," Dreiling said on a June 1 call with analysts.


Alexander Ac said...

And the pyramid falls further on:

Biggest school strikes since 1980s as doubts grow on pension reform

UK energy balance is deteriotating further with the decline in the North Sea oil production...


bluebird said...

"If they can do it in Greece, they can do it in Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy."

But, can the 'fire sales' be done in those countries before the global Ponzi bubble implodes?

Or would they prefer the global Ponzi bubble to implode very soon, and then do the 'fire sales'?
(seems like this would enhance the Shock Doctrine effect!)

Greenpa said...

God what a mess. My heart goes out to the people of Greece. And.

I don't see how it can avoid turning into a bloody mess, and then the politicians will be telling us "hey, no use crying over spilled blood."

Minnesota is likely to shut down tomorrow. I have this picture in my head of Murphy running around with a maniacal grin, and a shovel full of shit, crying 'Somebody find me more fans!"

Anonymous said...

Ilargi said:

"Greece has become the next chapter in Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. Some of the faces at the IMF may have changed, but the blueprints for these kinds of operations are still the same; if anything, they've become even more perfected. Teams of economic hitmen and henchmen are sent into a country to sell everything that isn't nailed down to the highest bidder, but for the lowest price."

Well said!

Disaster capitalism in action! The same fate awaits public services/benefits in the USA. It's just a matter of time...

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

I wasn't entirely convinced when Miss Sara N. Dipity pointed my mouse at Fred's bookmark that what I found there was all that germaine to our topic. But then the topic changed. As I ponder it further and under the influence of Fred's popular Mexican drink. I'm thinkin' his essay on hornets does offer an insight worth pondering about matters of direct import to humans.
Thoughts on Hornets

Now, add up all hornetary behavior, including a lot we haven’t touched on—communication between hornets, caring for the young, and so on—and ask how much more complex, if at all, is the behavior of whales, who have brains you could sleep in.

Hornets? I think the little monsters know, within the limits of their world, exactly what they are doing. I am not so sanguine about humans.

NZSanctuary said...

Not sure if this was posted yesterday: Fort Calhoun completely flooded

scandia said...

@ Ilargi, there was a report from a Greek journalist in the square that makes it damned difficult to say No. He reported smelling the residue of unknown chemicals as well as tear gas, that people were going to hospital because they couldn't breath. He suggested a chemical was released into the crowd that causes asphyxiation.
Takes evil to a new level.
Crowds of protesters are a perfect laboratory to test out some new " product " from Big Pharma.
What counter strategy is there to balance chemical warfare by the state against its citizens?

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

The Jungle Jimmy Papers: Chapter 2

The Jungle Jimmy Papers

Chapter 3

The next morning looked like a perfect day for a hike. After a quick run into town to restock the booze shelf, I grabbed the map and started off down the trail toward the woods. The map didn't show any trails, but the landmarks shown on it helped me pick the correct forks. Beyond the woods, I came across tire tracks and followed them to Obamaville. I actually favored the name Goldman Glen. I climbed to the top of a nearby knoll and I took a seat on a small boulder where I was partially concealed from view by a small tree. I wanted to scout the encampment before attempting to circle around it to reach the scrub brush beyond. It was there I hoped I would find some more papers that might have been snagged.

It certainly looked like pictures I had seen of tent villages such as the Great Depression Era Hoovervilles. There were a couple of crude structures assembled out of scrap materials. The inhabitants were going about the routine chores associated with living in the great outdoors. One camper in particular caught my attention. Even my aging eyes could see that she was young and beautiful. As I pondered why such a woman would be out here, I realized with a start that she had noticed me and was striding purposefully in my direction. I was relieved to see that none of the men in the camp were tagging along. I had spotted some big dudes among them.

She stopped a short distance from the knoll, but close enough to communicate in a normal voice. I could then see that she wasn't quite as young as I first thought, but still very easy to on the eyes. She looked me over for a moment while I tried to avoid looking either scared or ashamed. You don't look much like one of them. Are you some kind of scout or just a voyeur? It took me a moment to get my stuff together. I'm just a useless old boozer wasting his time looking for some knowledge. I don't know who those people might be that you think I don't look like, nobody sent me and I'm sorry that my admiration of your loveliness might have caused you to think me a voyeur.

A hint of a smile broke on her face for just a moment. What kind of knowledge would you be expecting to find out here? Oh, I was hoping I might find some papers over there in that brush. Her expression suddenly turned cold. What kind of papers? I gave her a condensed version of the events that had brought me here. So, a hobo gave you papers he said were lost here during the recovery of a debt bomb. It struck me as odd that she had said that without a hint of irony. You say you're a boozer. Yes, one of my blogging friends calls me a boozerphile. You didn't happen to bring any along did you? I do have a pint of Tullamore Dew in my pack. As you can see there is no cocktail lounge out here. It's been awhile since I've had a drink. If you are of a mind to share, come on down here and walk back to my tent with me.

I scurried down off the knoll and as we turned toward the tents I introduced myself. My name's Megan, she replied, call me Meg. We made some meaningless small talk as we walked. She entered her tent and emerged with a couple of coffee mugs and a pitcher of water. I pulled out the Dew and handed it to her. She poured a shot and a splash of water in each mug. I watched her take a sip and took my joy from the smile on her face. She took another sip as did I.

Now about those papers, do you have very many of them? Oh, it's a stack about an inch maybe an inch and a quarter thick. It sounds like you know something about them. Until a few days ago, I worked for that bank. The guy who lost those papers doesn't work there anymore either. I think he may be dead. I took a long pull on my drink and thought what the hell have I gotten myself into. Were you involved in it?
Somewhat. Among other things I prepared that batch of papers for Dylan.

Shamba said...

I'm horrified at the possibilities of Greece selling cultural heritages! Taking the Parthenon apart and shipping it to some plutocrats' private garden. I don't have a smiley face icon bad enough for that ...

Like if we had to sell the Statue of Liberty and Yellowstone park.. I don't think someone could dig up the bubbling colored earth "paint pots" and haul them away ....

Re: Puplava interviews with Stoneleigh. Nice summaries of what the TAE message is.

peace, shamba

Anonymous said...

Its really quite sad to see the country that gave us Hercules to be plundered by some effete bankers and their fraudulent contracts.

Josh said...

Last time I checked, Chile and Brazil were the apex of the emerging economies.

Hell, Chile has already arrived.

So much for the shock doctrine.

Josh said...

Cheryl's up >4% this week.

Impecable timing!

Yet again!!

Josh said...

Privatization is Bad.....

According to who exactly?

Efficiency is what Greece needs. Not a bunch of pencil pushing, coffee-breaking, water-cooler-yammering, government employees.

Asleep at the job and still collecting pay.

Yup, that'll work.

The IMF/EU are doing Greece a big favor by shaking the dead wood from the tree.

Archie said...

"What counter strategy is there to balance chemical warfare by the state against its citizens?"


Indeed, that is really the question that most of us have to ask. What does it take for each or any of us to realize what is truly going down?

Can civil disobedience even be employed today without excessive state reaction? And if it cannot, how does anyone retreat to some island of self-sufficient impartiality?

I must admit, this is the one perplexing area of Stoneleigh's writings that I continue to have doubts about. I can see no way out other than the path of violence. It will either be incrementally imposed harshly by the elitists or it will entail some sort of violent revolt from the proles.

Violence is violence, no matter that it be called "austerity". What would you do tomorrow, if you were a Greek Indignado?

You might want to give that some thought because it is likely that at some point in the future, you will be in EXACTLY the same position.

Starcade said...

The only reason we don't see the riots in Minnesota is that a judge forced the state to pay welfare -- but for about 20 minutes on Wednesday, according to the FOX station in the Twin Cities, it looked as if payments would stop.

Closest we've come yet to the riots.

Starcade said...

Archie: I don't believe non-violence against the state can be practiced without a violent response anymore.

For one simple reason:

If you believe in balancing the US Federal budget without significant revenue raises, you must then (fairly quickly) also believe that 60-100M people need to leave the US citizenry tout suite.

And that ain't happening without civil war.

Alfred said...

Are the ATMs still spitting-out cash in Athens?


Would they without austerity?


Hmmm, let's see, needed austerity or lose your life savings.

That's the choice and it's not a tough one.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

I am surprised to see that the Sock Puppetorium has opened for business a little earlier than usual this evening. BBLB should take a listen to his namesake's song if he's gonna go makin' eyes at Cheryl. Who I suppose might be in the next cubicle. She does claim to be married. :)
Bad Bad Leroy Brown

Alfred said...

Thought experiment:

Turn back the clock 20 years.

Evil banksters never notice Greece. What would be the living standards today without 20 years of lending?

How about 33% of current living standards.

So who exactly screwed who again?

20 years of fun and you never have to say your sorry?

Alfred said...

Let's make it personal:

What would your life be like today without the banksters lending your living standard into existence?


Archie said...


I agree 100%! Can't see any other way out of the conundrum we are in. I'm looking around for the re-emergence of the weather underground or the Black Panthers or some such revolutionary group.

As an aside, I have to ask where you have been? OTOH, glad to see you are still breathing amongst us.

Mike Tanis said...

I just don't understand the problem with the Greeks. If they don't like the enforced IMF austerity they can simply default. They would remain in charge of both their destiny and their country.

Alfred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred said...

@ El G,

Would you still be collecting your monthly Social Security check without the help of the banksters?

Alfred said...

I couldn't support you without their help.

el gallinazo said...


Perhaps we should call them The Night Crawlers.

scrofulous said...

If Greece were to default on their debt they would become world class financial pariahs and who would deal with them then?

But then, if they went from there and backed a New Drachma with the tons of gold they have, I guess the answer would be that almost anyone would deal with them.

NZSanctuary said...

Thankfully most nuke plants are still running and supplying electricity needed to make people's lives comfortable . . . God forbid if we shut them all down over a few little hiccups . . . and never mind the fact that in 10 years or 20 years or 50 years we'll have more melting down and fewer and fewer resources available to contend with the catastrophes. Gotta keep the TVs running NOW.

That is essentially the pro-austerity argument, but on a financial scale and a shorter time frame. Well done for revealing your moronic, sell-out attitude, banksters.

el gallinazo said...

Metanis said...
I just don't understand the problem with the Greeks.

Not much too understand. Same problem as in the USA. The Banksters have bribed the political class so they do not respond to either the needs or the will of the populace.

Josh said...


Blame yourself-- blame your dreams.

You want:

1) Safe Food,
2) Clean Water

That alone is unrealistic for
1 Earth and 7 billion people, and we haven't even gotten to desires like "Respect".

Impossible dreams:

Bankers merely offer Ambien and an alarm clock. You do the rest.

You want to blame somebody?

Buy yourself a hairshirt.

Mercury4 said...

@ Bad Bad Leroy Brown

I guess when the devil comes to the U.S. to collect his due too you'll be cool with that?

gylangirl said...

There's not enough money in existence to pay off all the loans. Poor management in the banks led to this. In real capitalism, there would be transparent accounts, the banks would fail sooner than later, the management would be prosecuted and sued for fraud. But we dont have capitalism, we have somthing else. The frauds become gangsters preying upon the general population, destroying the social fabric.

It is time for a reset. It is time for an across the board debt jubilee.

p01 said...

This capitalism is as real as it gets. The communism, too, was/is as real as it gets. Can't get more real than this. It's here, in meatspace, before our eyes to see and to feel the pain. Now if we talk about ideologies, those are not real, just words on paper. How some would have wanted it to be.

They don't call if a clusterfsck for nothing :)

scandia said...

You ae missing the point which is PREDATORY lending.
As for Chile and Brazil, the multinationals are already estabished there, those countries will be picked clean and abandonned like other markets. And the aftermath will include environmental devastation.
I attended a meeting recently concerning the application to build a megaquarry by a Boston Hedge Fund at Melancthon, just north of Toronto. I won't go into the details here but someone asked the Melancthon resident, Carl Cosack, where the money was coming from. He said he didn't know as he didn't have time yet to follow the money. A woman in the audience jumped up saying she had been following the money. So far she has traced it through Highland Company to a few other numbered companies to Brazil. Also one of the board members of Highland company is a close buddy of the premier of Ontario. Hm-m. There is more.
Mr. Cosack, being a farmer of goodwill, made the trip to Hamilton to deliver some environmental data to the president. Highland Company has some impressive letterhead showing it's King St, Hamilton address. Poor Mr Cosack drove up and down King St. several times looking for the offices of Highland company. He did find them. They are the UPS outlet on King St. Suite 234 is actually a mail box at UPS.
Will the Ontario gov't decide to grant a license to a company operating out of a UPS mailbox? Not if I can help it!!!

p01 said...

From the "Dumbfscks in charge" Dept.:
These strikes are wrong at a time when negotiations are going on.
In case you missed the point, play back the video again.

scandia said...

Re Joe Bageant...I just can't yet bring myself to delete his site so checked in there this morning.

Whoa... a video of Joe singin and pickin unleashed another flow of grieving tears.
The number of subscribers to Joe's site is increasing!
One often hears of the " arc of history". The arc of Joe's love reached aroung the world in a most personal manner.Touched my heart and I am the better for it.

p01 said...

Thank you. I usually don't go raving "about no public go-damn figure", they all have their go-damn hidden agendas, but Joe seems to have been the real deal.

Let's hope this is not his eulogy. It usually is.

p01 said...

Egypt Revolt 2.0.
...also in talks, the head of Coca-Cola Middle East. Now about those sugar rushes...doesn't sound that crazy anymore, does it?

seychelles said...

From the most recent Elliott Wave Financial Forecast:

"As in all Greek tragedies, negative forces will inevitably prevail."

Greenpa said...

Forwhatitsworth dept: in my opinion; Bad bad etc is a trained and pretty sophisticated paid astroturfer. Paid by whom would be the question.

There are many indications, and it's too hot. I'll just go with one; his last post on "blame yourself" - is very sophisticated indeed. And effective generally; and very rarely invoked in these discussions.

Cheryl is of course another, 98%er. Most likely, photo notwithstanding, he's an Ex CIA type, or wannabe; not terribly well paid; sitting in a cubicle with his beer gut to keep him company.

Extremely possibly, they are the same person, of course.

If you answer them- they'll happily take up your time, and ours, until doomsday. If they consistently get no reactions; they will have to tell their Owner/trainer, and they'll be moved elsewhere, where the fish still bite.

el gallinazo said...

Please don't feed the trolls.

Cheryl, BBLB, and EB are almost undoubtedly the same person having made an appearance, in Cheryl's case, reappearance, together. Of course this is now a moderated site and their comments could be removed, but that would probably give them incentive. Better to let the commentariat see and evaluate this pond scum for what it is. Fortunately, they are operating on a low cognitive level and it is not even tempting to "engage" them.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

@ scandia

I can also state without reservation that Joe had a significant effect on my thinking about life and what to do with it. As long as his site stays up I will continue to visit it. He was and will always be the Real Deal.

BTW, I will confess since you took note of it that like Joe my self characterization in the debt bomb series is mostly literary affectation. I do enjoy a drink or sometimes two just about everyday, but my days as a real boozer are far behind me now.

el gallinazo said...

Regarding the "hooded, violent anarchists" in Athens. Please be aware that these guys are usually police or army, or occasionally paid paramilitary Blackwater types. They are hooded so they can't be recognized by the peaceful protesters, not the so-called authorities who know exactly who they are as they cut their pay stubs. Every time, around the globe, that a crafty reporter has followed them away from the demonstration center, they always report to a military center or a police building. Psy Ops 101.

el gallinazo said...

One should feel pity for the poor Fed. They can't unload the garbage now that they bought in our name (illegally) to prop up the TBTF. Let us hope that it doesn't create an abscess in their balance sheet.

Greenpa said...

Another unforeseen problem for a nuclear power plant:

"Both reactors at the Torness nuclear power station have been shut down after huge numbers of jellyfish were found in the sea water entering the plant."

There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your School of Risk Management, Horatio.

el gallinazo said...

DSK released from house arrest and has his bail money returned.

Case is "near collapse" due to the maid having lied on her application for asylum many years ago.

My probable take:

The rape was probably real and not a set-up and the cartel decided that it posed an excellent opportunity to dump DSK at the IMF as well as short circuit his probable rise to the presidency of France. Now that we have Mission Accomplished, it makes no sense and sets a bad example to have one of their fellow Bilderberg elite undergoing a criminal prosecution as if he were just another sheep.


Aren't jellyfish solids like 90% nutritious protein? Could they run them through the plant, schmush them, add a little red dye #40 and artificial strawberry flavor, and sell it as a glow in the dark jam for kids? I figure that it could compete with irradiated, reprocessed Japanese human excrement as a delectable food source.

Greenpa said...

You'll be astonished to learn that your takes on the rape and the jelly potential are pretty near identical to mine.

Greenpa said...

For those constantly fretting about population growth, India has come up with a new idea:

"They are encouraging men and women to volunteer for sterilisation, and in return are offering a car and other prizes for those who come forward.

"Among the rewards on offer is the Indian-made Tata Nano - the world's cheapest car."

Presumably, the idea is these hair dressers and telephone sanitizers will not only not have children, they'll also increase the death rate on the highways.

Greenpa said...

Silver is down $1.06 at the moment; corn up 10¢. Weird.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

Nathan Martin dug up this chart at the Fed showing the Small Time Deposits component of M2. This would represent some of the wealth of the smaller dogs. Hmmm, that's SOME recovery we have going here.
Small Time Deposits

ghpacific said...

What's with all the 'E' powers? EHMs (Economic Hit Men), EFMs (Emergency Financial Managers) and now ESF (Economic Stabilization Fund)
And I thought E was for entertainment. Silly rabbit.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

I have to confess that I really don't understand the dynamic at work here with regard to the attention I've been getting from Sara N. Dipity. But, once again the informative works of others have appeared on my screen as if directed by some unseen info wrangler.

These stories taken together tend, to my way of thinking, to justify Fred's lack of sanguinity as to humankind knowing what it is doing. They also paint a rather stark picture of the dark side of what the banksters have done for us. For, by and large these things would not be possible or at least be much less dangerous without them.
Nuclear Fiddling, While Los Alamos Burns

Divine Hunger

Libya's Neighbors Prepare for NATO's Boots

Capital is a Fickle Lover

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

@ ghpacific

Yeah, E and i must be the two most abused letters in the alphabet.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

Charles Hugh Smith smites the banksters and their accomplices with something more painful than the jawbone of an ass.
The Three Ds: Delegitimization, Definancialization, Deglobalization

p01 said...

Three more Ds.Deficits;Debt;Demographics.

scandia said...

@IMN...hey come on over for drinks! I need a double after a day at Canada Day celebrations in the park talking to the public about " issues". One man was vibrating with emotion , described me as a traitor to Canada, the best country/system on earth. Yikes!
Remember Ash's words, " Perfect is the enemy of good." Joe knew that, lived that.

Ashvin said...


If the Greeks back their new curreny with gold, their economy will collapse into deflationary rubble. If not, the drachma will be devalued into toilet paper. What's a world without predicaments?

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

@ scandia

Thanks for the invitation. Would be quite happy to join you if it were a bit more convenient to do so. The news here hasn't been so great today either. I will be drifting into our local food & drink establishment in a couple of hours. I will hoist a drink in your general direction.

ogardener said...

Blogger Greenpa said...

Silver is down $1.06 at the moment; corn up 10¢. Weird.

Well, you can't eat silver unless you're one of those colloidal silver aficionados.

VK said...

One of the more curious, atleast to myself, and interesting aspects of the current economic & political malaise has been the breakdown in institutions, the gutting of checks and balances on the levers of power. 

So what gives? Why are these institutions not functioning in the manner they are supposed to? 

Surely these institutions are composed of mostly decent, kind & compassionate people. So why are the outcomes so broken? 

Is it a result of some sort of moral decay?

Maybe due to lower quality of energy throughput through the system?

Feelings of entitlement, no responsibility and wanting things done easily?

Why are the same, tired, toxic ideas repeated & promulgated? 

So many questions to ponder. 

VK said...


The real economy is so bad even the trolls in comments suck.

Is that all you got Evil Bankster?

The bulls were much better & more convincing in 2009 and early '10. Now? They really have no standing just lots of money printing backing their rulers used to calculate stock prices.

Bullcase dependent on Lulu, CMG & NFLX and record increases in food stamp usage.

Lol. (Or not).

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

VK said...
Surely these institutions are composed of mostly decent, kind & compassionate people. So why are the outcomes so broken?

Handsome Grandson, you are substantially right that most of the people working in these institutions are as you describe them. But, back in my time we used to talk about what we called the septic tank theory of management. The biggest turds always rise to the top. That is also largely true. Being turds, they do have a rather slippery hold on a moral code. Or should I just say they can be bought or cowed as may seem more effective. If it weren't for the decent, kind and compassionate underlings, things would be hosed up even worse than they are.

Anonymous said...

@Evil Banker,

societies don't need banks to lend money into existence. we are on to your criminal treason of bribing public officials into following your treasonous plans.

nations can create their own money without the need for debt or bankers.

we don't *need* criminal debt pushers to create jobs any more than we need criminal drug pushers to create jobs.

speaking of jobs, get a real one.

your master at the top won't have any more use for you once they really pull the plug.

troll on...

PS - we also know the fed's LEGAL mandate is to keep credit in line with GDP growth and that they broke that law for over 25 years by taking debt parabolic.

criminals do what criminals do - they commit crimes. they can't help themselves.

yes, the people fell for the scam the same way a child is tricked into the vehicle of a kidnapper - look at all these goodies... low interest rates kiddy...

society has no business living they way it has lived and that will end.

but the criminals who foisted an eternal usury Ponzi scheme upon society as a covert act of treason...

well, that's for another board.

Anonymous said...

re: small time deposits...

could this mean that the little guy is cashing out of the banking system and getting their cash out of the system?

if so, could we be looking at a currency exchange?

Nassim said...

I recently arrived in Vancouver, after an unplanned stay in Manila. Vancouver is a nice place. Cannabis openly on sale in city centre near a noisy rock band on this Canada Day. :)

I had a look at the local paper Average home price to rise 13 per cent to $571,000 in B.C. this year.

Especially intriguing is that ... the average price in the Greater Vancouver area rose 26 per cent in May compared to May 2010, but that the benchmark price -the price of a typical home in the region -rose only about five per cent over the same period

If this is indeed the case, then the huge house I am staying at in West Vancouver must have gone up by 50%.

Bank has huge notice Get ahead. Get in debt.

The fireworks started a moment ago and we have grand view of the bay through the huge windows. Kids are very excited. Still nothing from Snuffy. Birthday tomorrow. Getting older, but no wiser.

SecularAnimist said...

""Why are the same, tired, toxic ideas repeated & promulgated? ""

They don't know what else to do. Patterns of behavior are hard to break. All our social institutions are invalid. So, they will just look worse and worse as time goes on.

The modern world-system originated around 1500. In parts of western Europe, a long-term crisis of feudalism gave way to technological innovation and the rise of market institutions. Globalization was the apex of this world system.

All systems are historical – that’s true for physical and chemical systems, biological systems, and social systems. They all have lives: they come into existence at a certain point, they survive according to certain rules, and then they move far from equilibrium and can’t survive anymore. Our system has moved far from equilibrium.

Now the world system is in a structural/systemic crises, in its final stage, once more -we are approaching a transition akin to that of the neolithic/industrial revolutions and eventually a new system will arise. A new world order. This time around things will happen much much faster. It took the neolithic revolution several thousand years to take over the globe, the industrial revolution took just a few hundred and this next one will take just a few decades. Speed of information transfer is the key to rates of change. History seems to actually moves faster, in a kind of telescoping nature for epochal change. Most of us will get to witness the destruction of this old world system and the birth of a new in our lifetime.

The question is what is next?

Ruben said...

Hey Nassim,

We just watched the Vancouver and West Van fireworks from our deck. Going to the States tomorrow for a reunion, so we'll get the July 4th in Salt Lake City. I trust there will be very few drunken hooligans.

scandia said...

SecularAnimist said, " All systems are historical. That's true for physical,chemical,biological systems and social systems...and then they move from equalibrium and can't survive anymore."
Here we are back on the " arc of history". Pity that the study of History is no longer a required credit in many educational systems.
Your comment caused me to wonder about belief systems. They seem pretty hard nuts to crack with phenomenal staying power. Would appreciate your thoughts on belief systems.How is it they survive the booms and busts, the rise and fall of empires?
Yesterday in dicussion with a fellow citizen of my town I failed to notice he was becoming agitated/emotional. ( We were both wearing sunglasses. New rule. No serious discussion wearing sunglasses.) Anyway his chest expanded with pride that our society is very complex, his proof of its worth. I said we had crossed the line. We do not have the capability to manage the complexity we have created. He took that very personally,a personal criticism. His proud chest exhibited heavy breathing, as one threatened.

bluebird said...

Perhaps it is the July 4th holiday weekend, but I got to thinking when the democracy form of government actually began. Was it in 1776 with the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution?

It almost seems as though Democracy, major industry, and the supply of cheap oil and energy, seem to go hand-in-hand together.
And once the glut of oil and energy decline, then so will Democracy decline.

Mike Tanis said...

@SA "The question is what is next?

I expect years of "nearly the same" here in USA.

Look at the DJIA this past week. Investors are voting for "more of the same".

Look at Obama's approval rating. The fact he still maintains around 50% means "more of the same".

Look at the fact that Romney remains the favorite for the Republican nomination. Yet another vote for "more of the same".

China may prop up the EU's weak sisters resulting in "more of the same".

Energy deposits continue to be discovered that are cushioning the effect of peak oil, thus "more of the same".

While unemployment remains nearly 10% that also means that 90% of the people have some source of income, thus "more of the same".

Well over 50% of the population considers a 3 minute news break at the top of the hour plenty of information to form their opinions thus "more of the same".

We are like the Hollywood car chase scene where we careen from one near miss to another. It seems we maintain just enough collective intelligence to avoid the crash.

I don't see a real doomsday event on the horizon except for those which cannot be forecast such as a sudden new incredibly lethal virus outbreak.

But then, maybe I'm just trying to convince myself?

jal said...

@ Nassim

It looks like you got here just in time to enjoy a week of sunshine. I hope you get a chance to head up the valley.

SecularAnimist said...

""I don't see a real doomsday event on the horizon except for those which cannot be forecast such as a sudden new incredibly lethal virus outbreak.""

Not sure how you came up with "doomsday" from my post. There was no "doomsday" when feudalism collapsed. These things take time.

It's a structural crisis-(political/economic/cultural). A world system at the end of it's evolutionary sequence.

As with all systems they, collapse - no need to get all eschatological.

Things just don't happen over night.

The good thing is; this is not the work of an intelligent, mature species. This is the selfish, ego-satisfying behavior of a child.

""But then, maybe I'm just trying to convince myself?""

Doomsday proselytizers seem to be the flip side to people in denial.

Arnold Toynbee wrote about the dynamics of "civilization" decay.

""He argues that in this environment, people resort to archaism (idealization of the past), futurism (idealization of the future), detachment (removal of oneself from the realities of a decaying world), and transcendence (meeting the challenges of the decaying civilization with new insight, as a Prophet). He argues that those who Transcend during a period of social decay give birth to a new Church with new and stronger spiritual insights, around which a subsequent civilization may begin to form after the old has died.
Toynbee's use of the word 'church' refers to the collective spiritual bond of a common worship, or the same unity found in some kind of social order.""


Biologique Earl said...

Blogger scandia said...

@ Ilargi, there was a report from a Greek journalist in the square that makes it damned difficult to say No. He reported smelling the residue of unknown chemicals as well as tear gas, that people were going to hospital because they couldn't breath. He suggested a chemical was released into the crowd that causes asphyxiation.

The likely tear gas used in Greece was CS gas.

2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, known as CS gas was discovered by two Americans, Ben Corson and Roger Stoughton, at Middlebury College in 1928.

The chemical reacts with moisture on the skin and in the eyes, causing a burning sensation and the immediate forceful and uncontrollable shutting of the eyes. Effects usually include tears streaming from the eyes, coughing, running nose full of mucus, burning in the nose and throat areas, disorientation, dizziness and restricted breathing. It will also burn the skin where sweaty and or sunburned. In highly concentrated doses it can also induce severe coughing and vomiting. Almost all of the immediate effects wear off in a matter of minutes.

TOXICITY: Although described as a non-lethal weapon for crowd control, many studies have raised doubts about this classification. As well as creating severe pulmonary damage, CS can also significantly damage the heart and liver.

When CS is metabolized, cyanide can be detected in human tissue.[9] According to the United States Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, CS emits "very toxic fumes" when heated to decomposition, and at specified concentrations CS gas is an immediate danger to life and health. They also state that those exposed to CS gas should seek medical attention immediately.

CS gas has been and is still routinely used by Greek riot police (MAT) in order to quell student and labor protests, as well as riots by hooligans. In some cases gas had expired for more than thirty years. The legality and safety of the use of CS by policemen has been challenged both by people within Greece and the European Union. See:

I have often stated that the US has a long history of violent repression of any who challenge the norm.

For examples where CS gas was used under conditions not recommended because of danger of life-threatening toxicity See the violent attacks on students in Berkeley, California during the Bloody Thursday Event:

and The Waco siege which left 84 people dead:

Finally, the reported odor of unknown chemicals could originate in gas grenades that use high heat to disperse the normally solid CS as a gas. The high heat may well be decomposing CS into other products with a different odor and effect.

Keep in mind that people with even a very small tendancy to asthmatic attacks may have much more violent reactions including extreme difficulty breathing.

SecularAnimist said...

""How is it they survive the booms and busts, the rise and fall of empires?""

Yeah, *some seem to be very sticky.

Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung argue common archetypal manifestations fulfill a psychological need. Jung made argument that; ""these archetypal symbols are psychological projections of the collective unconscious, the need of the human mind faced with the overwhelming specter of imminent mortality to fashion eternal symbols of human resurrection married to the god's victory over the shadowy domain of death, a spiritual transcendence of the physical underworld to the numinous realm of eternal spirit, logos, the human and the divine united in a transcendent marriage of cycles of life, death, and infinite revitalization. This is the role of the dying/reborn god.""

"He took that very personally,a personal criticism."

People identify with the "system". It sustains them, so it's understandable. Also, people feel like you are criticizing their behavior and, in some sense, you are. It's very much intertwined with the psyche in mysterious ways - people's identity connection to the collective.

Ashvin said...

Scandia said... "Anyway his chest expanded with pride that our society is very complex, his proof of its worth. I said we had crossed the line."

People use "complexity" to make so many different erroneous arguments, it's really sad... almost all of those arguments end up being some way of supporting the status quo and predicting some as of yet unknown level of "technological innovation" in the future to marginalize problems existing within the status quo in the here and now (except Ray Kurzweil, who is quite clear about when the "technological singularity" will occur...).

I think SA was spot on with his analysis of the evolutionary adaptive cycle of systems over historical time as applied to human systems, and our "belief systems" are merely outgrowths of our social, cultural and political systems, which are outgrowths of our biological and economic systems. In many ways, they actually have the least "staying power" at the collective level in a complex system, but that may depend on what scale they were formed.

For example, our beliefs about the nature of life itself and the origin of the universe (religion) are harder to shake than our beliefs about what economic models are appropriate to use, but the latter probably has more staying power than our beliefs about what's socially acceptable and what specific political ideology is correct. All of them, however, evolve to support the broader human system of organization over time (i.e. industrial/financial capitalism most recently).

On a side note, I swear that the TAE commentariat can read my mind...this is maybe the third or fourth time it has happened. I've been pondering the nature and evolution of "institutions" all week, and started writing about them some yesterday. Good stuff.

SecularAnimist said...

""and our "belief systems" are merely outgrowths of our social, cultural and political systems, which are outgrowths of our biological and economic systems""

In the modern world - the powers of mass communication reinforce these beliefs from "those who know best". In kind of an experimental petri-dish called society. It is artificial construct of reality.

Patterns of behavior are encouraged to support the economic system. It's these patterns of behavior that we are trying to replicate across the whole world and are pushing our physical systems to the brink.

Social experience shapes the details of brain psychology, the infants brain is made to fit into the culture in which it was born. Six month old’s can hear and make every sound in virtually every human language, the very physical existence of neurons to the tune of 50% are naturally forced to commit pre-programmed cell suicide to fit into the larger framework of the cultural pattern. Babies, one or two years old that see another infant hurt, or hear it crying, do not merely ape the child’s distress, they share it empathetically.

Children cram their powers of perception into a conformist mold, connecting their attention to what others see. Perceptions become the slaves of social commands – it has been proven that children will come to accept and like food that they have disliked previously by putting them into a situation of peer pressure with other children for a period of time, as an example.

Words are the ultimate repository of the herd influence. What we perceive with words is influenced through generations of men, women, families, tribes, and nations – insights, value judgments, ignorance and beliefs are communicated through words. Word’s literally carry the impact of either life or death in many instances.

Now, there are both harmless manifestations of cultural inculcation and those which are collectively influenced in order to drive a mass of humanity under the direction and control of the few to our detriment. People need to make these distinctions, rather than thinking they are at some smorgasbord where people objectively make their own “choices.”

bosuncookie said...

On the rise and fall of complex systems, the theory was expounded 2,500 years ago:

When there is this, that is.
With the arising of this, that arises.
When this is not, neither is that.
With the cessation of this, that ceases.

It's the fundamental Buddhist concept of Dependent co-arising or pattica sammuppada. All phenomena arise due to a set of conditions and causes. A particular phenomenon persists due to a set of conditions and causes. As the conditions and causes change or cease, so does the phenomenon change or cease.

The Buddhist and Deep Ecologist Joanna Macy has explored the connection between the Buddhist concept of dependent origination and general systems theory in her book, "
Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory
." Hard slogging, particularly if you are not familiar with Buddhist concepts, but it is well worth the effort. I return to it time and again.

el gallinazo said...

bosuncookie said...

Thanks for bringing up Joanna Macy and Ecological Buddhism. One of the things I love about her is that she has a certain fearlessness of spirit. She can look the devil straight in the eye and not make up bullshit highfalutin ways that we can escape our self imposed predicament or deny the reality of it. She just says that sunsets can be just as beautiful as sunrises, and that you just do the best that you can and let the chips fall where they may. I liked this interview with her in particular.

scandia said...

@Robert, boy you know a lot about CS gas. thanks for taking the time to inform us.

@SecularAnimist,Ash and bosuncookie...much food for thought in your comments on systems and beliefs.
bosuncookie, your " with the cessation of this,that ceases" I am wondering about patterns and that it is useful,even hopeful to end a pattern.The converse would be true of course.

el gallinazo said...

Mish praises Ohio's privatization of it's prisons. Perhaps he would also praise it if Lords Blankfein and Dimon also purchased the courts. Oh, they did already? Every once in a while I think Mish has a lick of sense but then he dashes it with this fascist, crony capitalist crap.

p01 said...

Explosion at Tricastin nuclear plant(in french). Seems there's just a transformer explosion...but who knows anymore.
FB? Tout va bien?

Franny said...

Ron Paul is a genius! But why stop at the Fed burning the treasury bonds it already owns? Why not have the fed buy all the government's debt and burn it. For that matter, what's to stop the Fed from buying every debt on the planet and burning it?

Anonymous said...

Apologies for somewhat trivialising the tone of the discussion but have any of you geezers/geezas got an explanation for the sudden rise in equities and commodities by about 5% in as many days despite the universally grim news?

According to Tyler Durden on Zerohedge it is due to the imminent end of QE2: bonds are set to take a nose-dive so people are switching to these other investments. However, as one of the comments to his posting mentions, equities and commodities are being propped up by QE2, so this all seems completely insane.

Could this just be an indication of the High Frequency Trading robots finally taking over, rendering human judgement in the markets obselete?

seychelles said...

SA said

"Children cram their powers of perception into a conformist mold..."

Except for the infrequent aberrant ones who eventually age into beings like power commentariatists on TAE.

p01 said...

Video of Cairo clashes. Not many videos of revolt v2.0 on the internets.

Alexander Ac said...

What is this???

Russia rescues Bank of Moscow in record bail-out

That is supposed to be funny?

Patrick said...

Greenpa and El Gall

FWIW I think DSK was set up. All the information coming out about the woman suggests that she's a lumpen rounder working the edges of the system. No worse than her 'victim' of course. DSK, like Eliot Spitzer and many powerful men, was known to have certain peccadilloes concerning lust and sex. So when he, DSK, began to wander off the reservation and muse about forgiving debts and other heresies like possibly unseating Sarkozy (a neoliberal fav), it became time for him to wake up and smell the TATP.
No point leaving these things to chance encounter. (Spitzer OTOH could be counted on to visit pros regularly so spying was all that was necessary.)

People identify with the "system". It sustains them, so it's understandable. Also, people feel like you are criticizing their behavior and, in some sense, you are. It's very much intertwined with the psyche in mysterious ways - people's identity connection to the collective.

Sec... identity itself is a distributed entity. Some people understand this and use it to control people. So for instance our identity is made up of all the things we call ourselves, 'Marines, Americans, Good 'ole boys, men, women, mother, child, queers, Real Madriders, etc. When you strip away the collective, what are you left with? Nothing I would argue, we are the sum of our collective, i.e. distributed identities. Only a thought, I'm a thinker.

Gravity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skip Breakfast said...

Hm, Charles Hugh Smith has always advocated a deflationary collapse, but his latest sounds awfully hyper-inflationary to me. If he had a comment section, I'd post my question there, but I figure most of you probably read Charles Hugh Smith anyhow. So is he referring to the period AFTER the deflationary collapse? Or has he changed his mind?

Gravity said...

Congress may believe impeachment procedures remain voluntary and optional. But alas, an incurred charge of treason against congress, as committed by the POTUS engaged in unauthorised warmaking [against congress' will], must be resolved by impeachment. Failure to impeach shall render [the whole of] congress impeachable for treason against itself under the same charge of unauthorised warmaking.

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them..."

Unauthorised warmaking is precisely levying war against the United States, and specifically impeachable because it is an act of treason.
Were congress now to fail in their proper duty and not commence immediate impeachment procedures of the POTUS for this action, said charge of treason by unauthorised warmaking must be placed on them as well.

scandia said...

@Gravity, If it turns out both the President and Congress have committed an impeachable offence then who can file impeachment charges? I don't think a citizen's arrest would be heard by the courts?

scandia said...

@ Patrick, I have thought that the point of meditation is to strip away the distributed identities, leaving something other than nothing? The " authentic self " might refer to that state of being.
As well I would think consciousness precludes that there is nothing. Nothing would be impossible.

ogardener said...

I found this article informative and interesting. Restoring A Ruined Earth: The Heroic Mission of Thomas Berry

On my way to becoming more ecozoic.

Ralph T. said...

I would have to agree with Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney when he stated (last fall) "While asset prices can rise or fall, debt endures".

Japan had a historic credit bubble which burst around 1990.

The following is a link to a long term chart of the Nikkei 225. Since 1990 it is down by approximately 75%.

The following quote is taken from an article in the New York Times which was written on Oct. 16, 2010:

"OSAKA, Japan — Like many members of Japan’s middle class, Masato Y. enjoyed a level of affluence two decades ago that was the envy of the world. Masato, a small-business owner, bought a $500,000 condominium, vacationed in Hawaii and drove a late-model Mercedes.

But his living standards slowly crumbled along with Japan’s overall economy. First, he was forced to reduce trips abroad and then eliminate them. Then he traded the Mercedes for a cheaper domestic model. Last year, he sold his condo — for a third of what he paid for it, and for less than what he still owed on the mortgage he took out 17 years ago."

The following is a quote from an article on the CNBC web site (written on June 14. 2010) which is entitled "US Housing Crisis Is Now Worse Than Great Depression":

"It's official: The housing crisis that began in 2006 and has recently entered a double dip is now worse than the Great Depression.

Prices have fallen some 33 percent since the market began its collapse, greater than the 31 percent fall that began in the late 1920s and culminated in the early 1930s, according to Case-Shiller data."

"Then there is the issue of underwater homeowners—those who owe more than their house is worth—representing another 23 percent of homeowners who cannot leave or are in danger of mortgage default."

lautturi said...

Quite disturbing info about Fukushima events in March... Uncomfortable story about TEPCO plunders, cover-ups etc. - you name it. Go here.

Anonymous said...

>>""Why are the same, tired, toxic ideas repeated & promulgated? ""

They don't know what else to do. <<

i disagree. whooops, i bailed out my campaign contributors and now work for one for $1 million a year (tony blair).

whoops, more money to me.

whooops, less money for you.

whoops, we bombed a nation with resources our campaign contributors' front corporations lust after.

they aren't stupid, they are criminals playing stupid in the hopes that their con can go on without the people waking up.



they lie, cheat and steal because society is ignorant of history and extremely gullible.

it is as obvious as the sun rising tomorrow, but i think only a few people can emotionally handle the reality.

ps - watched "they live" today. check it out on netfix "watch now." very relevant to the world we live in today.

Patrick said...

Scandia, I agree meditation (can) strips away distributed identities but does it leave the 'authentic self?' Excellent question. I'm sure one could have great debates on what constitutes the authentic self. Steven Pinker argues that we have multiple selves, depending on who or what is in the drivers seat at any given moment. I lean towards his view.

Anonymous said...


or why not add "or spend 25 years to lif ein prison" at the end of sectioin 2A of the Federal Reserve Act.

Ron Paul doesn't touch this, nor does anyone else pulling the levers of power.

SecularAnimist said...

""they aren't stupid, they are criminals playing stupid in the hopes that their con can go on without the people waking up.""

Sure, it's no different from history. They've been conning the majority forever. Though, the criminality does seem to have metastasized a bit. But, the times, they are a changin

Hubristic delusion is par for the course

Personally, I don't they think they could be doing a better job at keeping the economy from collapsing into a smoking ruin. They look pretty smart to me. Given the future of economic prospects. If people internalizing that, it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You can't fix this economy, only keep it propped up and stumbling along.

Only after disaster can we be resurrected

el gallinazo said...


I wrote that comment when only the news about false statements regarding her amnesty application was out. With the release of all the other information, I must change my opinion and agree with you that the whole thing was a political set-up and the sex consensual for payment. Just look at the history of Christine Lagarde - a super scumbag. CEO of the world's biggest law firm writing international derivative swaps with 3500 Chicago shysters under her (Baker & McKenzie). What a nightmare. The irony may be that DSK may yet be the next president of France. Can't make this shit up.

Skip Breakfast

CHS has always been somewhat agnostic on the HI-HD issue, though he usually leans toward HD. I&S maintain that when the avalanche really gets going, it will be beyond the power of the central banks to HI. If you take the position that the CB's **could** HI, then it comes down to a political decision whether they want to. This boils down to whether it is in the best interest of their masters. FOFOA says yes, but I don't think so myself. Most hyperinflationistas say they will do it because of political pressure. I disagree with this. I feel that the MOTU have their storm troopers in place and don't give a rats ass about prole politics. I am reaching the point that I would give even odds (if I were a betting man) that **an event** will postpone the 2012 elections (even though Lincoln held them in 1864 and expected to lose).

Anonymous said...


the problem, as i see it, is that the following conditions will exist after the collapse:

1. society will be impoverished.
2. the big finance capital assets in government will turn over the nation's common wealth over to the big finance capital.
3. big finance capital will control the wealth, the government and the commons. oh, and that includes the police state they are erecting all over.

so, how again will the common person end up "resurrected" after the disaster hits?

the numbers i crunch reveal dark times ahead where the RMaHs have all the power and the citizenry is powerless and prone.

how many times in history has that turned out well for the citizenry?

that's easy.


and no, i don't think this time will be different.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

skilo said...
the problem, as i see it, is that the following conditions will exist after the collapse:

1. society will be impoverished.
2. the big finance capital assets in government will turn over the nation's common wealth over to the big finance capital.
3. big finance capital will control the wealth, the government and the commons. oh, and that includes the police state they are erecting all over.

Are you not aware that these are the currently existing conditions? Though I'm not entirely sure what you mean by number 2. Big finance does own and control almost everything. And screwing it up royally, which is why there will be collapse.

Hopefully, you have noticed that almost all of Big Finance's capital is in the form of outstanding debts. The QE's are attempts to pump new debts into the system to replace collapsing debts. The new debts won't hold up any better. Big Finance is a Dead Dysfunction Walking.

My post-collapse condition list looks more like this.

1. Not only society, but practically all individuals are impoverished.
2. Governmental services including policing will be sparsely available and extremely corrupt.
3. Chairman Mao's observation on the source of power will enjoy increased respect.
4. Grass fed beef will be deemed a delicacy.
5. Hardly anyone will bother you about having a few chickens in the backyard. But if they do, a small bribe or a gunfight will settle the matter.
6. The Sheriff of Nothingham or whatever your burgh will be called will assign you an occupation.

I'm sure I don't have it exactly right, but that should be pretty close.

@ el g

I don't understand why you think the MOTU would ever want to postpone an election. The best thing they have going for them is the near universal Usan belief that we live in the best and freest country in the world. There's no danger anyone they can't control will ever be elected.

Biologique Earl said...

Blogger scandia said...

@Robert, boy you know a lot about CS gas. thanks for taking the time to inform us.


I once worked on synthesizing molecules that would reactivate acetylcholinesterase that had been inhibited by nerve poisons. Some of the tear gases have a potential to attach to a sulfhydryl group on acetylcholinesterase - ie act as a nerve poison.

Blackbird said...


Learn this word.

Understand its implications.

Blackbird said...

Told you so.

Last weekend I told you to buy...Now!

Result: 6% gain in 5 days.

Not a bad weeks work.

For those interested in more timing calls, let me know.

I'm starting a subscription service that will guarantee to make you smile.

Biologique Earl said...

Blogger Cheryl said...


Learn this word.

Understand its implications.


EHPITA, empty headed pain in the ass.

Learn these words.

Understand their implications.

Blackbird said...

Wouldn't you agree:

1) That the bear case has made you sad.

2) Lost you money

3) Caused needless worry

Get back on your feet again.

Approach life with confidence and a pearly white smile.

I'll show you how.

Biologique Earl said...

Blogger Cheryl said: I'm starting a subscription service that will guarantee to make you smile.

Soon you will need to buy a fishing license to fish here. Will you buy one? Oh of course you will because your backers have unending funds to spend.

Blackbird said...

I know the markets.

They've treated me and my husband very well.

We're about to close on a seaside vacation home.

I'm willing to impart SOME of my knowledge. But not for free.

Blackbird said...

With my methods:

You too could be closing on a vacation home in sunny beautiful breathtaking and spiritually uplifting La Joalla, CA

The cool salty Pacific breeze does wonders for your soul, and your outlook.

Follow me. Who knows, we could end up being neighbors?

lautturi said...

Lee Farkas sold rotten mortgages to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae already since 2002. Official decision was not worry but buy the crap. Mr Farkas was caught selling the same mortgages to both FMs etc. several times. People who are kind-of without wet pants seem to have serious insomnia about the issues. Farkas goes to prison for 30 years - but what about government officials? Go here.

Blackbird said...


Now the subject of the lead article in Sunday's NYTimes

Is my timing perfect or what?

Read it and learn it. You'll be sorry if you don't

SecularAnimist said...

"so, how again will the common person end up "resurrected" after the disaster hits? "

It all depends on how long it take the people to through off the rules of capital - and capital reproduction at all costs. Which they will eventually, it's just a matter of how much time and how much turbulence comes before it happens.

I'd say in 40 years it will be all gone. Hopefully sooner. The current form of government, financial institutions, Wage labor, etc. They will all be gone in a few decades - washed away with the flow of history. Because, really, it is based on a world view that is 2-300 years old. Our current scientific understanding has moved on from then.

We get the excitement of living at the tail-end of global capitalism and all that it entails - until a new belief system, institutions and social order arises. In fact, we get to influence it.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

CHS occasionally disappoints, but his posting for the 4th seems well thought out.
July 4, 2011: The Cycle of Dependency and the Atrophy of Self-Reliance

Rome offers us a plausible model for the devolution of the Savior State. While a sudden collapse similar to the Soviet Union is always possible, I suspect the U.S. Central State will devolve in parallel with the ancient Roman Empire: as the Empire's costs exceeded the surplus generated by its remaining taxpayers, it issued flurries of edicts to the far-flung provinces, demanding more treasure and imposing ever more regulations.

The edicts from Rome were simply ignored. In Yeats' phrase, the falcon no longer heard the falconer. Enforcement is expensive, and if the gains reaped by costly enforcement are marginal or negative, then soon the issuers of the edicts ignore them, too.

Does this sound anything like MENA dictators ignoring Imperial edicts to vacate? Al Maliki refusing to request the continued occupation of Iraq? Turkey refusing to let the Empire invade Iraq from their territory? Germany refusing to bomb Libya? ...

el gallinazo said...

Cheryl said...

Follow me. Who knows, we could end up being neighbors?


Rather live next to the bride of Frankenstein :-) Sure you have your avatar right?

scandia said...

@IMN...the line from Yeats, " The falcon no longer hears the falconer." is powerful.

@ Lautturi, re the Fukushima disaster I was visiting in Oman with my son when it happened. I recall our conclusion at the time was the best possible response from gov't/Tepco is transparency. Guess they couldn't hear us:)
And the nuclear industry does not yet consider transparency as an option.

@El G, the privatization of the incarceration complex is a dark page in human history!!!!!!
I like Mish a lot and am sadden that he supports it.

seychelles said...

Cheryl said:

You too could be closing on a vacation home in sunny beautiful breathtaking and spiritually uplifting La Joalla, CA

This is a new gated Muslim subdivision of LaJolla, CA named LaJoallah. Cheryl spells phonetically but is apparently better with the numbers.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...


The privatized incarceration of publicly convicted persons seems like another indication of the accelerating collapse of what CHS calls the "Savior State." IMHO, it is a logical step in the direction of the private dispensing of "justice" as the general rule.

The wheel continues to turn and in a few more degrees I think we can expect the fulfillment of the demise of the collective might makes right paradigm and a return to the individual and mob might makes right way of life.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

@ seychelles

Wouldn't that be Al Joallah?

Poor thing may be dyslexic as well.

Greenpa said...

Patrick said...
"Greenpa and El Gall

FWIW I think DSK was set up."

I will grant you that your scenario is not in the least unlikely-

El Gallinuzo: "With the release of all the other information..."

ooo. :-)

So, you're still following the Kabuki of Mainstream Media "Information"? How quaint.


Seriously, you have to know that the time between arrest and release could so easily have been spent in forging appropriate documents and finding (buying) "sources", and arranging appropriate blackmail, bribes and other leverages to apply to the prosecutors and arresting officers. He wouldn't even need real money, just a couple million would do it. Easy peasey.

I tend to stick with the original assessment; ie that the rape and report were real; based on just one thing at this point: 99 times out of 10, when a woman reports a rape- she's telling the truth. And we know, historically, that 98 times out of 10, her reputation will then be destroyed by the poor man who was victimized by that scheming woman.

Granted, the set-up scenario is very possible. At this point, we won't ever know. A couple million bucks can alter reality very very easily. And we know he's got that; and the motivations needed.

seychelles said...



jal said...

There are wise people everywhere. Even on the market ticker.

At my age, I got an answer for everything, although it might not be the right answer. hehehe

The problem is that nobody want my wisdom. :-(

True capitalism is taking your profit and putting it into productive assets, not stock market and real estate bubbles.

... once an economy becomes financialized as the entire world has, money is used, not for capital investment, but for attempting to game the system for financial value.

We are buying and selling what already exists. Financializing what already exists. The whole status quo is to keep the bubble game going, the leverage game and the debt game itself.
No more is there real capital investment, only financial investment. The beat goes on for only one purpose, to count dollars and not to build economic welfare. We are stuck on an expressway with no exits. The whole game is debt.

Fiddling the money supply can pull in suckers who think that pushing paper around can fix problems.

Money is the score system, It should not be a game.

Cheryl is proof of why the system must change.


Phlogiston Água de Beber said...


There's kabuki and then there's KABUKI. There are a number of very plausible scenarios. In some of them DSK is barely an actor at all.

The Empire has many balls in the air. It is curious that DSK is arrested and demonized just in time to get him off his perch at the IMF before Greece has to worked over. But, then exonerated in time to be a threat to Sarko who is pressing Brazil very hard to buy the Rafale fighter instead of the Empire's own Super Hornet.

On that issue, one wonders if Sweden's willingness to violate its neutrality to bomb Libya might be a pitiful attempt to gain a little Imperial forebearance for its attempt to sell Dilma its Gripen fighter.

Politics, especially imperial politics is a very dirty business. Very very dirty when there is big money involved.

Ashvin said...

"Social experience shapes the details of brain psychology, the infants brain is made to fit into the culture in which it was born."

I agree that our social environment greatly influences our so-called biological instincts at a very early age. It seems to me, though, that the baseline of what is possible starts at the biological systems level, and then is progressively constrained by overlaying systems, with one of the first being our system of economic organization, which is very much intertwined with our social organization.

In line with the concept of "dependent origination" that bonuscookie mentioned. I imagine this process started with some of the earliest and most fundamental scales of our Universe, such as quantum decoherence of superimposed wave functions. Or perhaps the separation of fundamental forces and dimensions soon after the birth of our Universe. It brings us diversity and specialization, but also the illusion of "freedom", as possibilities of outcomes become more and more dependent on each other.

SecularAnimist said...

" It seems to me, though, that the baseline of what is possible starts at the biological systems level, and then is progressively constrained by overlaying systems,"

Sure, also perception of the biological systems plays a huge role with this self-aware species as well.

Biospheric interactions are supremely cooperative. This is empirical. In fact, recent trends in evolutionary biology show that cooperation, not competition is the driver of evolution. See Lynn Margulis's, Carl Sagan's first wife, "Endosymbiotic theory". Well it's not recent, it's 50 years old. But it takes time for scientific understanding to reach the general population.

Our conception of ourselves as an "ego in a bag of skin" is mostly a myth. The basis of epigenetics which postulates that DNA expression is controlled from outside our "bag of skin" by environmental stresses. Which is why the Human Genome Project was so anticlimactic. Also, the entities we consider separate "things" are merely processes of the whole. Which has become broadly accepted in the biophysical sciences.

So you have a different narrative emerging than that of battle field earth between a bunch of disconnected individuals creating "progress" and genetic determinism creating behavior. Those are old outdated concepts embedded in economics and our institutions. The US was founded on the notion of libertarian economics and social darwinism. Two bitterly resisted ideas. Even though libertarianism has had a recent resurgence in popularity.

Even studies in human motivation are completely opposite than what neoclassical economists thought and think. See Dan Pink's TED talk on the science of motivation. Not to mention modern economics complete inverted view of reality that the environment is a subset of the economy rather than the other way around.

Many studies have been done on "economic growth", where up to a point - like when people get *access* to the fruits of industrial civilization it increases happiness, then beyond that it becomes a pathology of commodity fetishization, over consumption and waste. The US's mental and physical health has been on decline for 50 years. So not only does it drive environmental degradation, it also becomes a mental illness(one that is encouraged to keep an economic system from collapsing)

So, everywhere you look, we have a confusion of how we think we operate and what promotes, for lack of better words, health and progress. These confusions are embedded in our economic model and social institutions designed to support it and ultimately, should be rectified.
The Mass Psychology of Capitalism[...snip...]"[T]he indicators of disintegration and social pathology are
everywhere. Rates of clinical depression have increased considerably since 1950.
IJE Advance Access originally published online on November 22, 2005
International Journal of Epidemiology 2006 35(2):252-258;
Is modern Western culture a health hazard?
National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health,

"The cultures of societies are underestimated determinants of their population health and well-being. This is as true of modern Western culture, including its defining qualities of materialism and individualism, as it is of other cultures. This paper draws on evidence from a range of disciplines to argue that materialism and individualism are detrimental to health and well-being through their impacts on psychosocial factors such as personal control and social support."

Nassim said...

... banks will somehow continue to keep the mortgages, which they have now cut by up to half, at par on their books following some brand new, thoroughly senseless announcement by the FASB which says banks can mark anything to whatever price they chose in perpetuity.

Banks Commence Wholesale, Unsolicited Mortgage-Debt Forgiveness

Going to Whistler for 2 days tomorrow. Should be fun.

Anonymous said...


>>Are you not aware that these are the currently existing conditions?<<

yes and no. yes, they have immense control now. no, they don't have all the power and control they want, so they continue to aggregate **more** power and control.

it is a sliding scale - and it ain't sliding in the direction positive for society and the slide is accelerating.

>>Though I'm not entirely sure what you mean by number 2. Big finance does own and control almost everything.<<

then why sell off their own assets in greece to themselves? oh, b/c they don't own them yet. the roads, the rain water (yeah, look into what these criminals did in bolivia), the water, the airports, the publicly owned parks, etc...

while they own a lot right now, they don't own all they want and they always want **more**.

>>And screwing it up royally, which is why there will be collapse.<<

whoops, more assets for me, less for you.

whoops, more lawless anarchy for me, less liberty for you.

they are screwing things up a like fox.

if they were actually screwing things up economically, they would be hurting themselves and their power would be decreasing.

nope, their plan is progressing quite nicely.

they are aggregating more and more wealth and the proles haven't even awaken to their program.




el gallinazo said...

Webster Tarpley reports from Tripoli on this week's Guns & Butter. Webster makes his hatred of NATO abundantly clear, but he is very bright and well informed. With all the BS we are getting, his report will come to many, even here, as a real eye opener.

One thing Tarpley makes quite clear is that that smiling buffoon, Obama, joins the questionable company of Henry Kissinger as a world class Nobel Peace Prize winning war criminal. I heard that Barry only beat out Dick Cheney by a couple of votes in Stockholm. Probably be the Dick's turn for the Nobel Peace Prize next year.

Anyway, one really has to listen to Tarpley's report. By the way, I find his economic hyper Keynesian solutions to the economic crisis as absurd, but that is another kettle of fish.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

@ skilo

I guess nobody, especially not this Nobody, can stop you from applying linear analysis to parabolic functions, but it isn't going to work out well. Big Finance issuance of credit to Big Speculation has indeed gone parabolic. That never ends well as Stoneleigh clearly presents in her Century of Challenges. Half of the Big Dogs are setting up to royally screw the other half. That cannot possibly end well.

Pyramidal financialization of existing depreciating and depleting assets is the Tantō knife with which the Finance Dogs will commit Seppuku. Their power is psychological. It depends on the little dogs maintaining allegiance to an inspiring edifice. Not financing the continuous embellishment of that edifice will result in it appearing pathetic and not worthy of allegiance. That is the night the Long Knives come out.

The Finance Dogs will suddenly find they own nothing and barbarians are at the gates. Their day is over. Happened before, will happen again. The wheel turns, nothing lasts forever. The Finance Dogs have had their few centuries in the Sun. They are about to fall off the wheel into a place where they have no mojo at all. Naturally, they are fighting tooth and nail to avoid that fate. Fate will get the last laugh.

Don't forget what Chairman Mao said came from the barrel of a gun. Finance mostly relies on the psychological power of officially dispensed barrels. Barbarians tend to favor kinetic power.

Here's a musical expression of how I feel about it. I Wouldn't Want to be Like You by The Alan Parsons Project

el gallinazo said...


Regarding the DSK scam. Well, I guess we will never really know the truth. That is how these things are designed. Was the $10k from Sarko or DSK's boyz? Was it just a down payment? Did she really complete the cleaning of an additional room after her rape and before she reported it. A truly tangled web. If DSK does become the next president of France, I bet Sarko and Lagarde will not be his guests of honor in any event. A vacation at Riker's can breed hard feelings, especially for a caviar socialist with a billion dollar heiress wife.


Agree with everything you wrote in your last comment. David Rockefeller is the acknowledged CEO of the MOTU. I can't bring myself to read his memoirs, but he is pretty much on the record as their plan was to put the planet under a world government run by bankers and subservient technocrats. It is really hard to figure if things are really running according to plan. Is the current financial crisis part of their pre-manufactured disaster capitalism, or is the thing blowing up in their faces and they are trying to pull solutions out their collectives asses a la never let a crisis go to waste? Very hard to figure. One thing we can be sure of - that Rockefeller intensionally sold the people of the USA down the drain. They try to manipulate the sheeple with patriotism, but the only thing they care about is power. We can be sure that for the moment, things are going to get a lot worse for the bottom 95% and if they don't like it they can go to a FEMA camp in the southwest or eat a bullet. The only bright light is that human society is built on chaos theory, and maybe some butterfly in Brazil will bollix up Rockefeller's plans.

Ashvin said...

Skilo said... "the rain water (yeah, look into what these criminals did in bolivia)"

I just watched a really good movie about that called "Even the Rain". It's about filmmakers who go to Bolivia to make a film about the imperialistic exploits of Columbus against Native Americans, but one of their main stars is simultaneously protesting the imperialistic exploits of global corporations trying to privatize Bolivian water sources including rainwater. It doesn't go into too much detail, but very well made.

el gallinazo said...

Since La Jolla means "the jewel" in Spanish, perhaps the proper name for Cheryl's luxurious Moslem gated community should be:


Guess we will have to wait for Nassim to weigh in on this.

Greenpa said...

A fairly mind-boggling story, from NYT business:

It's a report on CEO pay; none too complimentary:

"Brace yourself.

"The final figures show that the median pay for top executives at 200 big companies last year was $10.8 million. That works out to a 23 percent gain from 2009."

There's quite a bit of adjunct information; graphs and statistical specifics; which I figure the graph nymphos here will appreciate.

It's so outrageous on so many levels I'm mostly just shaking my head, not in disbelief, but in stasis.

In parallel, WAPO has an above average story on "the origins of the 'welfare state'". Worth a look, too.

el gallinazo said...


Regarding CHS's latest post.

First, let me express my opinion, contrary to CHS's, that the fall of the USA empire will resemble the Soviet Union far more than Rome. Modern light speed communication and sonic transportation have catalyzed the rate of developments.

CHS touches on free bread and circuses of ancient Rome and suggests that this would lead to hyperinflation referring to bread costing $1000 a loaf.

I think that the truncheon will replace the loaf of bread in the USA within the next 18 months as the primary form of motivation. As to circuses, one only need watch the 24 hour news cycle and the duopoly.

I have heard that Rome primarily devalued its currency by mixing its gold and silver coins with copper. Tainter probably goes into detail on this, and I know that Stoneleigh and VK have studied Tainter in detail. So, what part did the implosion of credit in Rome lead to inflation or deflation and what part did the debasing of its coins lead to it? I would find this very interesting if not totally relevant to today's predicament.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

RE: Privatizing rain water.

And what you get in response is Evo Morales. That is not the end of it. I'm not saying the banksters and privatizers are done today. But their end is coming and far sooner than they like. They practice a travesty of a mockery of a sham. Their ill gotten gains will have to be defended by violence. Once their mercenaries realize what the game is, they will recognize the value of taking it for themselves.

The shoes I think you really have to worry about licking aren't guccis. The David I think is worth keeping an eye on isn't Rockefeller, it's Betrayus (my kingdom for a strikeout tag) er I mean Petraeus. That dude has gone awfully far on such modest, but ultimately meaningful accomplishments.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

@ el g

Yes, we have faster communication, but we also have a few other things unknown to the Romans. Derivatives, "Reprofiling", Brady bonds, nuclear weapons, letters of credit, currency swaps. Damn I wonder how many weapons of mass deception do we have? These things maybe act to slow it down a little. I agree it will not take hundreds of years. Heck, we might somehow last almost another decade. Can't see it going beyond that though.

I don't read what he said as necessarily implying the so called social safety net will lead to hyperinflation of the currency. Merely, that it might. He seems more certain that shortfalls in goods production will lead to extreme poverty and death when the lying bastard statisticians continue to produce a phony CPI inflation of 0%. Does it really matter though? In the end, Imperial Doom is Imperial Doom.

Ashvin said...


I pretty much agree with your point, and that was basically my argument in the series I wrote entitled "The Math is Different at the Top". The view from that vantage point becomes much more foggy when all of our inter-related crises coalesce within relatively short time spans. It's easy to decipher the equation that guides their decisions, but more difficult (even somewhat impossible) to anticipate the variables they are leaving out, but are sure to be significant factors. Financial and environmental warfare is nothing new to them, but the scale/scope of those crises at this point in time most certainly is.

el gallinazo said...

Greece Welcomes Its New European Overlords - Juncker Warns "The Sovereignty Of Greece Will Be Massively Limited"


Agree with you that Betrayus is one of the most dangerous men in the USA though of course he would have to sell his soul (if he had one) to that "other David" to exercise that danger. But his timing might be off. The country might not be prepped for him by 2012 and may not remember him by 2016. On the other hand, he need not be elected as chancellor, but who would be the Hindenburg to appoint him?

As to military careers, it's hard to figure. Hitler never rose above lance corporal while Napoleon made general by the age of 24.

Perhaps a Trump - Betrayus ticket with Trump mysteriously dying under the scalpel while undergoing a hair transplant.

ben said...

skilo, thanks for the john carpenter 'they live' tip. great, endless fight scene in the alley: 'just put the sunglasses on, man.' i can relate to that - trying to wake-up people, tooth and nail. but after listening to this great, partial mel fabregas interview with neil kramer, i'm done with that. neil's right - it's not cool. or maybe it's just this rally's gone on too long.

and for those of you who missed it, here must be taibbi's inspiration for the titling of The Vampire Squid (from part 4 of dean henderson's series on the oligarchy):

“The real menace to our republic is the invisible government which, like a giant octopus, sprawls its slimy length over our city, state and nation. At the head is a small group of banking houses, generally referred to as the international bankers”.
- NYC mayor john hylan, 1922.

ben said...

sorry, working link to the neil kramer interview

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

el g,

Try focusing your attention on the Barbarian General Ricimer who though disqualified, as a non-Roman, to be Emperor, effectively ruled the remains of the Western Empire just before its final days.

I guess if I wanted to get a shot at ruling the empire without having to risk election results or expose myself to lots of public duties, I'd probably want to be head of the CIA.

scandia said...

@Secular Animist, I just googled Lynn Margulis. Fascinating life she's had. I sense she and Stoneleigh are cut from the same cloth.
Amazing that Margulis attended the University of Chicogo at age 14 because "she wanted to and they let me in". Which brings me to " desire " and wondering what role desire has in evolution. Perhaps Dan Pink touches on that in motivation ? I'll check-out his Ted talk.
Thanks for all your very trippy postings.

Supergravity said...

"If it turns out both the President and Congress have committed an impeachable offence then who can file impeachment charges? I don't think a citizen's arrest would be heard by the courts?"

Members of congress who are rendered impeachable for not impeaching the POTUS [for treason against congress by unauthorised warmaking], must be individually impeached by the authority of members of congress who are not rendered impeachable, or, if there are none remaining, citizen´s arrest of the whole of congress may be employable in the unlikely case it is [ruled to be] lawful to so arrest active members of congress [within the district of columbia] for a high crime [or criminal dereliction of duty] commited by function of office.

The charge of recursive treason should then solely apply to those individual members of congress who by lawful device of legislation impede impeachment of the POTUS for unauthorised warmaking, whereas simultaneous impeachment procedures of the POTUS and similarly charged members of congress [for dereliction of duty in impeachment of the POTUS [for treason against congress] resulting in recursive treason against congress], must then be commenced by remaining members of congress as principal proponents of impeachment [by distinction of lawful device].

Failure to do so would render said principal proponents themselves impeachable for dereliction of duty [for not impeaching members of congress for unauthorised warmaking [by not impeaching the POTUS for same]], yet while remaining in office until they impeach themselves for such dereliction, these members do remain lawfully obligated to commence unobstructed impeachment procedures against the POTUS to avoid similar impeachability for treason by unauthorised warmaking.

Frank said...

@IMN, we're nowhere near that far along. Counting from WWII we seem to be zipping along at 3-5x Roman speed.

I put us somewhere around Diocletian. We're still 50 years (our speed) from Ricimer, by which time even the Blankfeins of Rome were doing their best to keep TS away from TF.

Also, don't forget that even after Ricimer, Aureolanus (Arthur that would be) and Syragius kept fighting.

scandia said...

@Supergravity, I don't know anything about the process in congress. I am assuming if 51% vote against impeachment then the remaining 49% have no other recourse.

scandia said...

@Secular Animist, Just watched that Dan Pink video on motivation. I wasn't so impressed as he comes across as a Tony Robbins clone with ADD. I prefer the approach of someone like Gabor Mate and his ideas on how the brain is wired, how access to the motivational centre in the brain can be impaired. Pink seemed to be missing the spirit of compassion which I like to see in conjunction with science.Maybe that quality shows up when he gets to purpose?
But what the heck, that's just me having preference.

SecularAnimist said...

""we're nowhere near that far along. Counting from WWII we seem to be zipping along at 3-5x Roman speed.""

Rome is not a perfect example. While the US does exhibit similar characteristics of the old empire model. The capitalist world economy differed from earlier empire systems because it was not a single political unit. Empires depended upon a system of government which, through commercial monopolies combined with the use of force, directed the flow of economic goods from the periphery to the center. Empires maintained specific political boundaries, within which they maintained control through an extensive bureaucracy and a standing army. The techniques of modern capitalism enabled the modern world economy, unlike earlier attempts, to extend beyond the political boundaries of any one empire

Now, primarily the US and it's military/intelligence mechanism have forced most political entities around the globe into this arrangement and is the core. Often times, with grievously immoral, underhanded, fraudulent and criminal actions under a policy of neo-liberal exploitation that has occasioned massive theft, political intrigue and election-tampering, coups, propping-up of corrupt dictators and brutal autocrats, blackmail, false-flag operations, assassinations and death-squads, institutionalized terrorism, IMF/WTO/World Bank-imposed privatization and 'restructuring' and subsidized agricultural exports that have displaced huge numbers of small farmers, 'drug-war' skullduggery and forced de-funding of critical social services and public infrastructure .

But, it still differs as it has become a universal world system. Obviously, with a few hold outs.

SecularAnimist said...

""Just watched that Dan Pink video on motivation. I wasn't so impressed as he comes across as a Tony Robbins clone with ADD""

LOL. It's not about him personally. It's about the information regarding monetary incentive and motivation. That it's really only motivation for manuel labor. Once you get into innovation and creation it actually has an inverse effect. Peoples main motivation in creation is mastery - not money or competition.

Nassim said...

Guess we will have to wait for Nassim to weigh in on this.

Your translation is quite correct, but Google Translate cuts out the definitive article ("al").

I tried another translator, this one does not cut it out but does not join it properly either.

I guess this article says it all:
Does Automatic Arabic Translation Ever Work?

Supergravity said...

The remaining 49% would have no other recourse than to also impeach the 51% who would not impeach the POTUS for treason against congress, for dereliction of duty resulting in recursive treason against congress, whereas a house voting against itself cannot stand, and whereas the act of voting against presidential impeachment [for an act of treason against congress by unauthorised warmaking] is rendered a criminally impeachable offense of treason by dereliction for such members of congress.
Maybe the courts must clarify discrepancies of accountability in the proper procedure for removing the majority of congress in such cases.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

@ scandia

Are you playing Sancho Panza to Don Quixote er I mean Supergravity while he tilts at his windmills?

According to various sources (I must be fairly bored to even bother looking it up) there is no basis for impeachment of Congresspersons, it was unsuccessfully attempted once, nor even a possibility of Recall Elections. Congress can expel its own members and that is pretty much it.

Charging the POTUS with treason probably wouldn't fly because he did not order the Protectorate of Pentagonia to make war on the United States of America. That damnable War Powers Act does seem to give POTUS the authority to make war on any other country. POTUS failure to tell Congress why the war is justified might be a misdemeanor, but that calculation is well beyond my meager legal knowledge.

In any event, if we were to accept Gallinazo's interpretation of the power structure, then nobody gets impeached unless King David says it's OK.

@ el g

Since it is thought, at least by some, that the CIA is fundamentally the enforcement arm of the Financial Mafia, then it seems likely that Betrayus already has King David's approval. No?

el gallinazo said...


I am afraid you might be on to something there. As Bush the Evil Elder (as opposed to Bush the Dolt) demonstrated, the directorship of the CIA is a viable course to the virtual throne despite the delay caused by Reagan's unexpected animal vitality.

Phlogiston Água de Beber said...

el gallinazo,

My actual proposition is that the POTUS is, at least most of the time, basically a figurehead. POTUS gets to announce the decisions, but I think it's pretty clear that someone else usually writes them down.

For the running of the Empire, there is hardly any better position from which to write them than DCIA. Any fool can be King. It takes a fair amount of cunning to be Kingmaker.

Anonymous said...

>>Ron Paul is a genius! But why stop at the Fed burning the treasury bonds it already owns? Why not have the fed buy all the government's debt and burn it. For that matter, what's to stop the Fed from buying every debt on the planet and burning it?<<

why don't sharks break their teeth off?

why don't wasps get rid of their stingers?

money is debt. debt is money.

debt money ponzinomics was designed to systematically asset strip society and transfer wealth to the group who created/control the system.

guess what?

the same people who control the debt money ponzinomics system are the same ones who control the fed.

predator vs prey is at its absolute worst when the prey has no idea they are being preyed upon.

i agree with Stoneleigh that the prey has some major culpability here, too. but they are still the prey and the predators are still the predators that use the prey's greed in order to capture their prey.

Anonymous said...


check out "the corporation" for free on, if you haven't already. it is an excellent documentary - and the first place i heard about privatized rain water.

i also learned the news has no legal obligation to not purposefully falsify the "news."

it is an excellent documentary.

@el g,

>>Is the current financial crisis part of their pre-manufactured disaster capitalism, or is the thing blowing up in their faces and they are trying to pull solutions out their collectives asses a la never let a crisis go to waste? Very hard to figure.<<

nothing is exact, but the plan is pretty close to schedule.

1. sun tzu said that actual fighting wars should be ended quickly lest the nation go bankrupt. in 2003, the oligarchs started an "never ending war ion terror." this meant their goal was to drive america into national bankruptcy. yes, they have all read the art of war, too. they know this - but hope the masses do not.
2. bankruptcy reform was put through in 2005. that meant they knew the bubble was about to pop and they needed the legislation to help enslave the serfs.
3. i do not believe it is an accident that this crisis was engineered just before the baby boomers were set to retire en masse and stake their claim on social security.

so, yeah, i think they are basically on schedule - at least in a general sense.

Anonymous said...


the ad hominem is pretty much useless. it also appears to have biased you and led you to impute ideas to me that i don't hold and never advocated.

you seem to conclude that i've excluded a military coup take over of the current powers that be.

i have not excluded that outcome at all. or an outcome i can't even imagine.

what i did say is that history sends a very clear message - these situations almost always, if not always, end up very badly for society. not just economically, but from a government that steps on the necks of its citizens in an often brutal, vicious way.

that outcome actually adds an exclamation point to my original point - that We, The People have to work to get control of our government or else we are at grave risk, PREPARED OR NOT.

having said that, division of labor isn't bad - if TAE wants to be a preparation only site, that's great and they have my full respect and full support in their efforts.

in my view though, if the people don't take some kind of action and find a way to control their government then the "prepared for" future looks pretty dim, too.

i'm not particularly interested in who's in the boot that is on my neck, just that some tyrant has their boot on my neck - and the neck of my community, my nation and other nation's around the world.

and yes, i know they wield tremendous control today. i never said otherwise. they've wielded tremendous power and control for a long, long time, but they haven't been groping children's genitals at airports until recently and they haven't promoted extending that program to malls and other place until recently - and that's just the tip of the marginal tyranny "iceberg."

it **is** getting worse and at an accelerating rate.

Anonymous said...


@ p01
About Tricastin, it would appear to be a minor incident, however the press has been stressing the fact that the power station is old and not ageing well.

@ El G
About DSK, my immediate reaction was that he could well be the next president. Imagine, a Frenchman going through the U.S. justice system and coming out clean ?!? There will be parades.

The Right is being VERY cautious in its comments. Sarko is invisible.

I loved a title in Le Monde yesterday stating that Martine Aubry will maintain her candidature. That pretty much says it all. It will be an interesting summer for many reasons.

By the way, did you know that Aubry is the daughter of Jacques Delors? Talk about not having learned much at her father's knee.


Biologique Earl said...

OpenID skilo said... IMN,

in my view though, if the people don't take some kind of action and find a way to control their government then the "prepared for" future looks pretty dim, too.

I agree entirely.


Alexander Ac said...

I do not know if this link was mentioned previously - but Global Property Guide is highly recommended for assessing the global housing bubble,



SecularAnimist said...

"""i do not believe it is an accident that this crisis was engineered just before the baby boomers were set to retire en masse and stake their claim on social security.""

Of course, it was right on the doorstep to peak oil as well. And Bernanke is an expert in the Great Depression and wrote papers on oil shocks as well.

Yep, looks like a managed demolition of an economy that would have run into systemic changing problems regardless.

This is the kind of "crises" that spreads the blame all around.

In other words, it's the only politically feasible way to get the west to decrease their consumption while allowing the ruling class to keep their privileged position.

There was a guardian story not to long ago about the Bush admin pressuring the IEA about

SecularAnimist said...

""We, The People have to work to get control of our government or else we are at grave risk, PREPARED OR NOT.""

Right, "prepared" boils down to narrow, short-term thinking while broad institutional changes need to be made. This has zero chance to happen from voting.

""i'm not particularly interested in who's in the boot that is on my neck, just that some tyrant has their boot on my neck - and the neck of my community, my nation and other nation's around the world.""

This is a systemic issue. The fact that the ruling class games the system with impunity is inconsequential. It's not anything new.

To quote Joe Bageant:

"But in the big picture it will not change the way the top lizards in global politics, money and war have done business since the feudal age — which is to say with arrogant disregard for the rest of us. Theirs is an ancient system of human dominance that only shifts names and methodologies over the centuries. Two years from now, little will have changed in the old, old story of the powerful few over the powerless many. In this overarching drama, Obama, Hillary and Julian Assange are passing players. Watching the sweaty, fetid machinations of our overlords with such passionate involvement only keeps us from seeing the big picture — that they are the players and we are the pawns."

scandia said...

@SecularAnimist, the claims that Dan Pink presents on motivation need further/deeper support. Did he do the research himself?Somehow I don't think so.
I would like to know how the participants in the challenges were selected.For instance was the right prefrontal lobe of each participate in equal state of health, equally developed?
Was a needs assessment completed? If I needed food or next months rent money I'd jump through hoops for a carrot.Were the participants male of female? Sames age or all ages? Who was challenged would influence the results. His claim that the " true facts " are universal is questionable.
As for Dan Pink himself I formed a quick conclusion as in the speed of light scanning of his face, his body, his scruffy shoes and decided he is a snake oil salesman.
His opening story of his failed career as a lawyer is an old con to establish rapport through sympathy. Not the usual kind of person given a platform at Ted talks.Judging by his career success his style works in the boardroom! LOL indeed.

Alexander Ac said...

Will Stewart: American Dystopian Future,

worth to look,


Ilargi said...

New post up.

Serfdom Day