FROM SCRATCH NEWSWIRE

SCAVENGING THE INTERNET

Archive for November, 2008

MINISTRO DIZ QUE BRASIL NÃO TERÁ RECESSÃO (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008


29/11/2008 às 00:00:00 – Atualizado em 29/11/2008 às 00:22:31

PUBLISHED BY ‘PARANÁ ON LINE'(Brasil)

O ministro do BRAZIL'S PLANNING MINISTER PAULO BERNARDO (R) SPEAKS DURING A CONGRESSIONAL IN BRASILIA NOVEMBER 1, 2007Planejamento, Paulo Bernardo, afastou o risco de recessão no País por conta da crise na economia internacional. Durante um encontro com prefeitos eleitos de municípios da Região Metropolitana de Curitiba (RMC), realizado ontem, em Campo Largo, Bernardo afirmou ainda que o País deve crescer 4% em 2009.

“Temos feito um trabalho para traquilizar a economia. Enquanto países da Europa estão à beira da recessão, teremos crescimento”, afirmou Bernardo. O ministro ressaltou ainda que as operações de crédito, que segundo ele são vitais para a economia, devem normalizar e a taxa de juros deve diminuir.

O ministro, entretanto, admite que, considerando os impactos já evidentes da crise verificados em diversos setores da economia nacional, deverá haver um crescimento menor do que o esperado em 2008. Porém, para o próximo ano, Bernardo se mostra otimista.

“Ainda, se ficarmos olhando as coisas acontecerem, vamos crescer 2%. Mas vamos trabalhar para que alcancemos a meta de 4%”, diz. O otimismo do ministro se constitui também no campo da geração de empregos, que, segundo ele, deve fechar o ano com mais de 2 milhões de novas vagas.

Para Bernardo, os governos devem intensificar o contato e o apoio aos os empresários, o que poderia contribuir para tranqüilizar o mercado. O ministro, que também salientou a importância do relacionamento do governo federal com prefeitos para direcionar os recursos do PAC, informou que os recursos para investimentos em infra-estrutura para 2009 não sofrerão alterações.

Durante o almoço com os prefeitos, Bernardo ouviu relatos sobre a situação da infra-estrutura que, segundo eles, é fundamental para o desenvolvimento econômico das cidades. PAULO BERNARDO

O prefeito reeleito de Campo Largo, Edson Basso, confirmou que a economia do município deve registrar um crescimento, principalmente com o setor de cerâmicos.

Mesmo com parte significativa da produção do setor no município destinada à exportação, Basso acredita em resultados positivos para o próximo ano. “Esperamos um aumento da produção desse ano. Não sabemos, no entanto, o que vai acontecer em 2009, pois não sabemos a dimensão da crise”, comenta.

Os prefeitos também discutiram políticas de integração entre os municípios da RMC, bem como o quadro de sucessão para a presidência da Associação dos Municípios da Região Metropolitana de Curitiba (Assomec).

Para o prefeito de Fazenda Rio Grande e atual presidente da Assomec, Antônio Wandscheer, os municípios da RMC deveriam discutir ações para contornar a crise de forma integrada. “Temos que trabalhar com o pequeno e o médio produtor. O problema é que não se discute uma gestão metropolitana”, diz.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘PARANÁ ON LINE'(Brasil)

Posted in ÍNDICES DE EMPREGO, ÍNDICES ECONÔMICOS - BRASIL, BRASIL, CIDADES, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EXPANSÃO AGRÍCOLA, EXPANSÃO ECONÔMICA, EXPANSÃO INDUSTRIAL, INDÚSTRIAS, INTERNATIONAL, MINISTÉRIO DO PLANEJAMENTO, ORÇAMENTO E GESTÃO, O MERCADO DE TRABALHO - BRASIL, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, O PODER EXECUTIVO MUNICIPAL, O PODER LEGISLATIVO MUNICIPAL, ORÇAMENTO MUNICIPAL, OS PREFEITOS, OS TRABALHADORES, POLÍTICA REGIONAL, PR, VEREADORES | Leave a Comment »

BNDES LIBERA R$ 10 BILHÕES PARA CAPITAL DE GIRO (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

30/11/2008 às 08:30:02 – Atualizado em 30/11/2008 às 17:21:53

PUBLISHED BY ‘PARANÁ ON LINE'(Brasil)

Agência Estado

O Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) anuncia na segunda-feira (1º) uma linha de financiamento a capital de giro, com nova injeção de recursos de R$ 10 bilhões para o setor produtivo. Será mais uma medida do governo para tentar manter inalterado o nível de investimentos no País, apesar da crise. Do volume recorde de R$ 90 bilhões que o banco estima liberar este ano, pelo menos R$ 51,2 bilhões virão de reforços extras em seu caixa.

A escassez de recursos no mercado elevou a importância do banco estatal – principal veículo financiador das empresas nacionais – na economia. O BNDES aumentou sua participação no crédito à exportação para suprir a seca das Antecipações de Contratos de Crédito (ACCs); passou a oferecer empréstimo-ponte para garantir novos projetos; elevou sua participação em projetos industriais e se dispôs a entrar como debenturista ou acionista no capital de empresas em dificuldades.

“Vai haver um momento em que o governo, que orienta o banco, decidirá o que é mais conveniente: ou o BNDES fica restrito, atuando de forma mais segmentada e seletiva, ou aumenta o seu funding. Considerando a característica o longo prazo, é possível que o nível do banco tenha de ficar sistematicamente acima da capacidade atual”, disse o diretor financeiro do banco, Maurício Borges Lemos.

As informações são do jornal O Estado de S. Paulo.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘PARANÁ ON LINE'(Brasil)

Posted in BNDES, BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, EXPANSÃO ECONÔMICA, EXPANSÃO INDUSTRIAL, FLUXO DE CAPITAIS, O MERCADO FINANCEIRO, O PODER EXECUTIVO, ORÇAMENTO NACIONAL - BRASIL, SETOR EXPORTADOR | Leave a Comment »

POLÔNIA ADOTA PACOTE DE ESTÍMULO ECONÔMICO DE 24 BILHÕES DE EUROS (Poland)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

30/11/2008 às 15:20:14 – Atualizado em 30/11/2008 às 17:22:19

PUBLISHED BY ‘PARANÁ ON LINE'(Brasil)

Agência Estado

A Polônia adotou neste domingo (30) um pacote de estabilização e desenvolvimento econômico para 2009 e 2010 estimado em DONALD TUSK24 bilhões de euros para ajudar o país a enfrentar a crise financeira global, disse o primeiro-ministro Donald Tusk. Ao mesmo tempo, o ministro das Finanças, Jan Rostowski, informou que a previsão de crescimento econômico para 2009 foi reduzida para 3,7%, da estimativa anterior de expansão de 4,8%.

“Este é um programa de estabilização e desenvolvimento, porque a Polônia está na situação de um país que ainda está se desenvolvendo”, disse Tusk. “Felizmente, as conseqüências da crise global para a Polônia não são tão graves”, acrescentou. As informações são da agência Dow Jones.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘PARANÁ ON LINE'(Brasil)

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INTERNATIONAL, POLAND, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

MINISTÉRIO DO TRABALHO FLAGRA TRABALHO ESCRAVO NO PARANÁ (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

30/11/2008 às 00:00:00 – Atualizado em 30/11/2008 às 16:56:12

PUBLISHED BY ‘PARANÁ ON LINE'(Brasil)

MTE

Brasília – O Grupo Especial de Fiscalização Móvel do Ministério do Trabalho e Emprego (MTE) resgatou 39 trabalhadores em situação análoga a de escravo na atividade de reflorestamento nas regiões de Irati e Telêmaco Borba, municípios do centro-sul e Campos Gerais do Paraná, respectivamente. Outros 61 não estavam em situação considerada análoga a de escravo, mas foram terceirizados de forma irregular e, posteriormente, os empregadores procederam com os registros de acordo com a legislação.

No total, foram lavrados 108 autos de infração, 100 registros em Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social (CTPS) e pagas rescisões que somam cerca de R$ 170 mil. Toda ação – que teve inicio em 18 de novembro e terminou na última sexta-feira – foi acompanhada pela Polícia Rodoviária Federal (PRF) e o Ministério Público do Trabalho (MPT).

O Grupo Móvel flagrou inicialmente seis trabalhadores que trabalhavam na mineração de diamante, no leito do Rio Tibagi, no município de Telêmaco Borba. Havia várias irregularidades nas questões referentes à saúde e segurança do trabalho, como a submissão de mergulhador a condição de grave risco, pois utilizava uma mangueira de botijão de gás de cozinha para alimentar o mergulhador com o oxigênio.

Além disso, eles moravam na própria balsa e não havia local apropriado para refeição, nem instalações sanitárias e as instalações elétricas não atendiam à norma legal. Houve interdição de máquinas e equipamentos, como vasos de pressão, o que levou à suspensão do trabalho na balsa. O proprietário da empresa, que registrou a CTPS dos trabalhadores, está em processo de adequação às normas de segurança e saúde no trabalho estabelecidas pelo Grupo Móvel.

Em Irati, no centro-sul do Estado, a situação era mais grave, pois em três – das quatro empresas fiscalizadas no reflorestamento de pinus – foram encontradas situações de trabalho análogo ao de escravo. Na primeira delas, a fiscalização alcançou 54 trabalhadores, sendo sete em situação degradante, alojados em dois barracos de madeira sem água potável, luz, instalação sanitária, equipamento de proteção individual ou local apropriado para comer e dormir. Eles tomavam banho no córrego a quinze minutos de carro, local onde também pegavam água para beber.

“Todos tinham carteira assinada, mas a forma com que foram contratados caracterizava uma terceirização ilegal, por meio da figura do empreiteiro, que mascara o verdadeiro empregador e precariza a relação de trabalho”, disse o auditor fiscal do trabalho responsável pela ação, Guilherme José de Araújo Moreira. Ainda de acordo com ele, os sete trabalhadores em situação degradante foram retirados do local e receberam todos os direitos, inclusive rescisórios e retroativos. “O trabalho nas frentes de serviço continuará assim que o empregador se adeqüe às normas de segurança e saúde”, completa.

Situação semelhante foi detectada na atividade de reflorestamento na segunda empresa, onde 22 trabalhadores também foram encontrados em situação degradante na frente de trabalho, além de existir de forma evidente a figura do “gato” na contratação deles. “Um trabalhador foi flagrado aplicando agrotóxico com a mesma roupa que usava cotidianamente, ou seja, sem Equipamento de Proteção Individual”, destaca.

A ação motivou a retirada dos 22 trabalhadores com suas respectivas CTPS assinadas com data de admissão retroativa e com todos os direitos garantidos pela Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho (CLT). As verbas rescisórias foram pagas e houve a emissão de seguro-desemprego. Por dois dias houve interdição de máquinas e equipamentos, mas depois a empresa cumpriu as normas e houve o levantamento da interdição.

Na terceira empresa foram encontrados oito trabalhadores no reflorestamento e, embora não tenha sido considerado trabalho análogo ao de escravo, também havia a terceirização ilegal. Ao final, a empresa registrou os empregados com data retroativa, cumprindo as exigências da fiscalização. (MTE)

Denúncia foi anônima

Brasília – A decisão por fiscalizar a quarta empresa foi tomada após uma denúncia anônima. Ali, dez trabalhadores sem registro em carteira estavam sujeitos a todo tipo de desrespeito. “Retiramos 10 trabalhadores, que moravam em barracos de madeira, sendo um deles, chamado de gaiota (barraco de ripas de madeira e lona), na carroceria de um caminhão velho, e outro localizado ao lado de um curral, cheio de buracos, com fogareiro dentro dele”, descreve.

Nos dois últimos dias da ação, o Grupo Móvel flagrou uma situação de trabalho degradante envolvendo crianças no corte de cebola, na Vila de Caratuva, zona rural do município de Irati. “Dentre 40 trabalhadores, havia 12 menores laborando. A despeito das evasivas dos trabalhadores e menores, inclusive do proprietário, a equipe se ateve a evitar que as crianças continuassem laborando. Nenhuma criança usava equipamento de segurança e ainda utilizavam faca para cortar a cebola, uma das piores formas de trabalho, segundo legislação”, conta o coordenador da ação.

Havia, inclusive, uma criança de três e outra de cinco anos. “Nós levamos ao povoado três integrantes do Conselho Tutelar para que todos os esforços fossem efetuados objetivando que suas famílias não permitam que as crianças trabalhem. Iniciou-se, portanto, um trabalho visando à inclusão educacional das crianças e cadastramento em programas do governo”, disse, completando: “Aquela região é um foco de trabalho infantil, apesar do esforço do Ministério Publico do Trabalho na região. É como um câncer”, finaliza o auditor. (MTE)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘PARANÁ ON LINE'(Brasil)

Posted in AS INDÚSTRIAS DE MINERAÇÃO, ATIVIDADES CRIMINOSAS - BRASIL, BRASIL, CIDADANIA, CIDADES, COMBATE AO TRABALHO ESCRAVO E INFANTIL, COMBATE À DESIGUALDADE E À EXCLUSÃO - BRASIL, CRIMES EMPRESARIAIS, DIREITOS HUMANOS - BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, MINISTÉRIO DO TRABALHO E EMPREGO, O MERCADO DE TRABALHO - BRASIL, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, OS TRABALHADORES, POLÍTICA REGIONAL, PR | Leave a Comment »

INÍCIO DAS OBRAS DO EDIFÍCIO MAIS ALTO DA CHINA – O projeto completa o bairro “super alto” e exibe espaço público sustentável

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

28 de novembro de 2008 09:38

PUBLISHED BY ‘PR NEWSWIRE BRASIL’

XANGAI, China, 28 de novembro /PRNewswire-Asia/ – O Shanghai Tower, um edifício de 632 metros (2.074 pés) de altura projetado pela Gensler, empresa líder global em projetos de arquitetura, avança estratégias sustentáveis de projeto e oferece proeminência aos espaços públicos.

A Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co., Ltd. é a empresa que está desenvolvendo o projeto. Os engenheiros estruturais da Thornton Tomasetti, os engenheiros mecânicos, elétricos e de encanamentos da Cosentini Associates, bem como o Architectural Design and Research Institute (Instituto de Design e Pesquisa em Arquitetura) da Tongji University como o Local Design Institute (Instituto Local de Design) prestarão apoio à Gensler. A construção está prevista para ser concluída em 2014.

O Shanghai Tower está localizado na zona comercial e financeira de Luijiazui, uma área de Xangai que há 18 anos era uma área de terra cultivada. O bairro está posicionado para se tornar o primeiro bairro “super alto” da China, quando o Shanghai Tower foi construído para concluir um trio de torres que inclui o Jin Mao Tower e o Shanghai World Financial Center. Juntos, estes três edifícios criarão um novo ícone na vista de Xangai. Enquanto o projeto do Jin Mao Tower presta uma homenagem ao passado da China e o projeto do SWFC significa o recente crescimento econômico da China, o projeto do Shanghai Tower é o sinal do futuro da China. “Esta torre é símbolo de uma nação cujo futuro está repleto de oportunidades ilimitadas”, declarou Qingwei Kong, presidente da Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co., Ltd. “Com o Shanghai Tower comemoramos não apenas o sucesso econômico e a conexão cada vez maior da China à comunidade global, como também o compromisso da nossa empresa em desenvolver propriedades que demonstrem as realizações de projetos mais altos, nobres e distintos possíveis”.

O Shanghai Tower terá um espaço para escritórios de alta categoria, varejo, um hotel luxuoso e locais culturais. Os andares mais elevados terão o deck de observação ao ar livre mais alto do mundo. O edifício do pódio da torre contará com um local para varejo de alta categoria com um enorme espaço para eventos. As instalações subterrâneas incluem varejo, conexões ao metrô de Xangai e três andares de estacionamento. “Esperamos que o Shanghai Tower inspire novas idéias com relação ao quanto um edifício alto pode ser sustentável”, disse Art Gensler, FAIA, presidente do conselho da Gensler. “Unimos o perímetro da torre, de cima para baixo, aos espaços públicos e integramos um raciocínio estratégico ambiental em cada etapa. A torre é uma etapa que ganha vida através da presença das pessoas”.

Para mais informação, por favor, contatar:

Jasmine Chien Associada Sênior Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Shanghai Tel.: +86-21-2405-1604 Email: jasmine.chien@ogilvy.com

FONTE Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Xangai

BNED: NG

FONTE: PR NEWSWIRE LATIN AMERICA

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘PR NEWSWIRE BRASIL’

Posted in CHINA, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS | Leave a Comment »

PREÇO DA QUEROSENE DE AVIAÇÃO CAIRÁ QUASE 18% EM DEZEMBRO – Redução foi repassada por conta da redução do preço do petróleo no mercado internacional (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

28/11/2008 – 19h25min

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

O preço da querosene JET PLANE KEROSENEde aviação (QAV) terá uma redução de 17,8% a partir do dia 1º de dezembro, informou hoje o Sindicato Nacional das Empresas Aéreas (Snea). A redução foi repassada pela Petrobras por conta da redução do preço do barril do petróleo no mercado internacional nos últimos três meses. A Petrobras reajusta mensalmente os preços do QAV, nafta e óleo combustível, mas não divulga os indicadores do reajuste.

Segundo Snea, no ano as oscilações de preço do QAV acumulam queda de 3,71%, o que significa uma reviravolta para as empresas aéreas, que até agosto tinham uma alta acumulada de 37%. O Snea, no entanto, não informou se haverá redução no preço das passagens aéreas, já que o valor do combustível representa mais de 30% do custo das companhias. Segundo o sindicato, a decisão fica a cargo de cada empresa.

AE

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

Posted in A QUESTÃO ENERGÉTICA, AÉREO, ÍNDICE DE PREÇOS AO CONSUMIDOR - AMPLO (IPCA), ÍNDICE GERAL DE PREÇOS - DISP. INTERNA (IGP-DI), ÍNDICES ECONÔMICOS - BRASIL, BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, INDÚSTRIAS, INTERNATIONAL, O SETOR DOS TRANSPORTES | Leave a Comment »

IRGA: RS TEM 96,6% DE LAVOURAS SEMEADAS DE ARROZ – Resultado significa um aumento de 2,48% na safra atual (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

28/11/2008 – 19h55min

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

Na última semana de RICE CROPnovembro, a semeadura de arroz no Rio Grande do Sul totaliza 96,6% — 1,06 milhões de hectares em cultivo. Segundo o Instituto Riograndense do Arroz (Irga), este resultado significa um aumento de 2,48% na safra atual, em comparação com a do ano passado. Apesar da estiagem que preocupa os arrozeiros, é cedo para falar em prejuízos.

No que tange ao desenvolvimento das lavouras, até agora, os grãos em estágio de emergência já totalizam 328,1 mil hectares, compreendendo 31,2% de área plantada no Estado. As plantas mais desenvolvidas (vegetativo) já alcançam 729,4 mil ha (68,9%), contra 575,4 mil obtidos na semana passada.

Para o presidente do Irga, Maurício Miguel Fischer, a germinação das sementes passa por um momento arriscado, gerando despesas com energia, água e controle de invasoras para o produtor, que precisa banhar as lavouras:

— Com a falta de chuva, a emergência das sementes não se dá de forma parelha, gerando atraso nesta última etapa do plantio.

Conforme o último levantamento da instituição, apenas 11 municípios gaúchos já concluíram o plantio de arroz.

Mesmo com falta de chuvas abundantes no período, o RS aumentou em 19,8 mil hectares a extensão das áreas cultivadas de arroz. A partir deste sábado, deve voltar a chover no Estado.

As informações são do site do governo do Estado.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

Posted in AGRICULTURA, AGRONEGÓCIOS, BRASIL, COMÉRCIO - BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, EXPANSÃO AGRÍCOLA, POLÍTICA REGIONAL, RS, SETOR EXPORTADOR | Leave a Comment »

PAÍS CRESCERÁ EM 2009 QUASE O DOBRO DA MÉDIA DE 1999 A 2003, DIZ MEIRELLES – Apesar da crise econômica, presidente do BC está otimista (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

28/11/2008 – 23h21min

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

A previsão do Fundo Two weeks ago - Brazil's central bank chief Henrique Meirelles waves to journalists after attending a news conference in Sao Paulo November 10, 2008. Meirelles is attending a bimonthly meeting of the Bank for International Settlements in Sao Paulo - PHOTO - REUTERSMonetário Internacional (FMI) de crescimento de 3% para o Produto Interno Bruto (PIB — soma de toda a riqueza do país) do Brasil em 2009, foi analisada com otimismo pelo presidente do Banco Central (BC), Henrique Meirelles, nesta sexta-feira no encontro Crédito e Sistema Tributário, no Rio de Janeiro.

De acordo com Meirelles, mesmo na visão conservadora do FMI, o país vai crescer mais do que a previsão para a média mundial de 2% em 2009, e quase o dobro do crescimento médio, de 1,8%, registrado de 1999 a 2003, e mais do que a média de 2,1% observada de 1980 a 2003.

— Portanto, mesmo no momento, agora, de crise mundial gravíssima, a maior desde 1929, a visão do FMI é que nós vamos crescer 3%. Substancialmente acima da média mundial e da média do que o Brasil cresceu em 24 anos, de 1980 a 2003 — disse.

Crescimento sustentado

Meirelles reafirmou que o Brasil vem se preparando, há alguns anos, para ter um crescimento sustentado, sem subidas e descidas, “sair do padrão de arrancadas e freadas que teve durante muito tempo.

Dava um crescimento muito rápido e depois recessão, decrescia o PIB. Agora não, é uma crise. É séria. Tem uma desaceleração importante. Mas, mesmo um pessimista diz que (o crescimento) é 3%”, disse.

Apesar de considerar séria a crise financeira internacional, o presidente do BC afirmou que o país vai manter o seu crescimento sustentado “e, mais importante, retomando o crescimento a partir de 2010 em taxas maiores”. Para Meirelles, isso “significa que o Brasil não vai perder a sua trajetória de crescimento sustentado”.

Ele avaliou que o atual quadro da economia mundial não é agradável. Segundo ele, só com as Bolsas de Valores o mundo perdeu cerca de US$ 30 trilhões. E deixou claro que o Brasil não está imune à crise. Mas a está enfrentando “com rapidez e decisão, e mais fortalecido”.

Meirelles informou que na próxima segunda-feira, o presidente do Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES), Luciano Coutinho, vai detalhar o plano de crédito para capital de giro, da linha adicional de R$ 10 bilhões destinada a pessoas jurídicas, “onde a recuperação observada, em comparação a outubro, da ordem de 1,2%, foi muito tímida até agora”. Bem aquém da recuperação de crédito das pessoas físicas, de 14%, revelou Meirelles.

AGÊNCIA BRASIL

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

Posted in BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EXPANSÃO AGRÍCOLA, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INTERNATIONAL | Leave a Comment »

SUZUKI CORTARÁ 1,2 MIL POSTOS DE TRABALHO NA HUNGRIA – Produção diária será reduzida a partir de dezembro

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

29/11/2008 – 06h57min

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

A japonesa Suzuki Motor anunciou que no final de fevereiro cortará 1,2 mil empregos em sua fábrica da Hungria por causa da diminuição da demanda na Europa, segundo informou a agência local Kyodo.

Os postos de trabalho na fábrica húngara se reduzirão dos 5,6 mil atuais para 4,4 mil.

A partir de meados de dezembro, o fabricante japonês diminuirá a produção diária até produzir um total de 210 mil unidades anuais, ou seja, menos 90 mil veículos ao ano.

Em outubro, a companhia anunciou uma redução de sua previsão de lucro para o presente ano fiscal, que concluirá em março de 2009, em um 25,2%, para 60 bilhões de ienes (US$ 629 milhões).

EFE

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘ZERO HORA’ (Brasil)

Posted in AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, BANKING SYSTEMS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HUNGARY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, JAPAN, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, OUTSOURCING INDUSTRIES, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS | 1 Comment »

THE WEIMAR CHRONICLE – Chapter 6

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

by Alex de Jonge

INFLATION

The year 1923 has a special and dreadful connotation in German history, for it was the year of the great inflation. If defeat, abdication and revolution had begun to undermine the traditional values of German culture, then the inflation finished the process so completely that in the end there were no such values left. By November 1918 there were 184.8 marks to the pound. By late November 1923 there were 18,000,000,000,000. Although the mark was eventually "restored," and the period of inflation succeeded by a time of relative prosperity for many people, life for anyone who had lived through the lunatic year of 1923 could never be the same again.

Such a cataclysmic loss of a currency’s value can never be ascribed to a single cause. Once confidence goes, the process of decline is a self-feeding one. By late 1923 no one would hold German money one moment longer than it was really necessary. It was essential to convert it into something, some object, within minutes of receiving it, if one were not to see it lose all value in a world in which prices were being marked up by 20 percent every day.

If we go back beyond the immediate cause of hyperinflation—beyond a total lack of confidence in a currency that would consequently never "find its floor," however undervalued it might appear—we find that passive resistance in the Ruhr was a major factor. Effective loss of the entire Ruhr output weakened the mark disastrously, encouraging dealers to speculate against it, since the balance of payments was bound to show a vast deficit. Confidence in the currency could only begin to be restored when resistance ended late in 1923.

It has been the "patriotic" view that reparations were also a significant factor. Certainly they constituted a steady drain upon the nation’s resources, a drain for which it got no return. But reparations alone would not have brought about hyperinflation. There were still other causes. Sefton Delmer believes that the true explanation lay in Germany’s financing of the war. She had done so very largely on credit, and was thereafter obliged to run a gigantic deficit. There were other more immediate causes, such as a total incomprehension of the situation on the part of Havenstein, director of the Reichsbank. Failing to understand why the currency was falling, he was content to blame it upon forces beyond his control—reparations—and attempted to deal with the situation by stepping up the money supply!

The first British ambassador to the Weimar Republic, Lord d’Abernon, had no illusions about the economic plight of Germany. He observed in his diary that "German finance is dying beyond its means," 1 and no one seemed to know why. In the meantime, he noted:

Currency experts have a sad fate. During life they empty every room in which they hold forth, and death finds them in madhouses. Berlin has been deluged with these gentlemen for the last week and still survives; but the currency has gone to the devil.2

He saw the Reichsbank compounding its own mistakes:

In the whole course of history, no dog has run after its own tail with the speed of the Reichsbank. The discredit they throw on their own notes increases even faster than the volume of the notes in circulation. The effect is greater than the cause; the tail goes faster than the dog.3

By October 1923 it cost more to print a note than the note was worth. Nevertheless Havenstein mobilized all the printing resources that he could. Some of the presses of the Ullstein newspaper and publishing group were even commandeered by the mint and turned to the printing of money. Havenstein made regular announcements to the Reichstag to the effect that all was well since print capacity was increasing. By August 1923 he was able to print in a day a sum equivalent to two-thirds of the money in circulation. Needless to say, as an anti-inflationary policy, his measures failed.

In his documentary novel Success, Leon Feuchtwanger has suggested that inflation had less obvious and more sinister causes. Certainly it had its beneficiaries as well as its victims. Anyone living on a pension or on fixed-interest investments—the small and cautious investor—was wiped out. Savings disappeared overnight. Pensions, annuities, government stocks, debentures, the usual investments of a careful middle class, lost all value. In the meantime big business, and export business in particular, prospered. It was so easy to get a bank loan, use it to acquire assets, and repay the loan a few months later for a tiny proportion of the original. Factory owners and agriculturalists who had issued loan stock or raised gold mortgages on their properties saw themselves released from those obligations in the same way, paying them off with worthless currency on the principle that "mark equals mark." It would be rash to suggest, as Feuchtwanger hints, that the occupation of the Ruhr was planned by industrialists to create an inflation which could only be to their benefit. Yet we should remember that Stinnes, the multi-millionaire, had both predicted that occupation and ended up the owner of more than 1,500 enterprises. It should also be remembered that some businessmen had a distinctly strange view of the shareholder. He was regarded by many as a burdensome nuisance, a drag upon their enterprise. He was the enemy and they were quite happy to see him wiped out to their benefit. Inflation was their chance to smash him. Witness the behavior of a banker at a shareholders’ meeting at which it was suggested he should make a greater distribution of profit: "Why should I throw away my good money for the benefit of people whom I do not know?"4

The ingenious businessman had many ways of turning inflation to good account. Thus employees had to pay income tax weekly. Employers paid their tax yearly upon profits which were almost impossible to assess. They would exploit the situation of a smaller businessman, obliged to offer six to eight weeks of credit to keep his customers, by insisting on payment in cash. The delay between paying for the goods and reselling them eroded any profit the small man might make, while the big supplier prospered.5

Whether or not the industrialists actually caused inflation, their visible prosperity made them detested by an otherwise impoverished nation. Hugo Stinnes became an almost legendary embodiment of speculation and evil. Alec Swan remembers how hungry Germans would stare at prosperous fellow countrymen in fur coats, sullenly muttering "Fabrikbesitzer" (factory owner) at them. The term had become an insult and an expression of envy at one and the same time.

Hyperinflation created social chaos on an extraordinary scale. As soon as one was paid, one rushed off to the shops and bought absolutely anything in exchange for paper about to become worthless. If a woman had the misfortune to have a husband working away from home and sending money through the post, the money was virtually without value by the time it arrived. Workers were paid once, then twice, then five times a week with an ever-depreciating currency. By November 1923 real wages were down 25 percent compared with 1913, and envelopes were not big enough to accommodate all the stamps needed to mail them; the excess stamps were stuck to separate sheets affixed to the letter.6 Normal commercial transactions became virtually impossible. One luckless author received a sizable advance on a work only to find that within a week it was just enough to pay the postage on the manuscript. 7 By late 1923 it was not unusual to find 100,000 mark notes in the gutter, tossed there by contemptuous beggars at a time when $50 could buy a row of houses in Berlin’s smartest street.8

A Berlin couple who were about to celebrate their golden wedding received an official letter advising them that the mayor, in accordance with Prussian custom, would call and present them with a donation of money.

Next morning the mayor, accompanied by several aldermen in picturesque robes, arrived at the aged couple’s house, and solemnly handed over in the name of the Prussian State 1,000,000,000,000 marks or one halfpenny.9

The banks were flourishing, however. They found it necessary to build annexes and would regularly advertise for more staff, especially bookkeepers "good with zeros." Alec Swan knew a girl who worked in a bank in Bonn. She told him that it eventually became impossible to count out the enormous numbers of notes required for a "modest" withdrawal, and the banks had to reconcile themselves to issuing banknotes by their weight.

By the autumn of 1923 the currency had virtually broken down. Cities and even individual businesses would print their own notes, secured by food stocks, or even the objects the money was printed on. Notes were issued on leather, porcelain, even lace, with the idea that the object itself was guarantee of the value of the "coin."10 It was a view of the relationship between monetary and real value that took one back five hundred years. Germany had become a barter society; the Middle Ages had returned. Shoe factories would pay their workers in bonds for shoes, which were negotiable. Theaters carried signs advertising the cheapest seats for two eggs, the most expensive for a few ounces of butter which was the most negotiable of all commodities. It was so precious that the very rich, such as Stinnes, used to take a traveling butter dish with them when they put up at Berlin’s smartest hotel.11 A pound of butter attained "fantastic value." It could purchase a pair of boots, trousers made to measure, a portrait, a semester’s schooling, or even love. A young girl stayed out late one night while her parents waited up anxiously. When she came in at four in the morning, her mother prevented her father from taking a strap to her by showing him the pound of butter that she had "earned."12 Boots were also highly negotiable: "The immense paper value of a pair of boots renders it hazardous for the traveler to leave them outside the door of his bedroom at his hotel.". 13

Thieves grew more enterprising still in their search for a hedge against inflation.

Even the mailboxes are plundered for the sake of the stamps attached to the letters. Door handles and metal facings are torn from doors; telephone and telegraph wires are stolen wholesale and the lead removed from roofs.14

In Berlin all metal statues were removed from public places because they constituted too great a temptation to an ever-increasing number of thieves. One of the consequences of the soaring crime rate was a shortage of prison accommodation. Criminals given short sentences were released and told to reapply for admission in due course.15

It was always possible that one might discover an unexpected source of wealth. A Munich newspaperman was going through his attic when he came upon a set of partly gold dentures, once the property of his grandmother, long since dead. He was able to live royally upon the proceeds of the sale for several weeks.16

The period threw up other anomalies. Rents on old houses were fixed by law, while those on new ones were exorbitantly high. As a result in many parts of Germany housing was literally rationed. If one were fortunate enough to live in old rented property, one lived virtually free. The landlord, however, suffered dreadfully: to repair a window might cost him the equivalent of a whole month’s rent. Thus yet another of the traditional modes of safe investment, renting property, proved a disaster. Hitherto well-to-do middle-class families found it necessary to take in lodgers to make ends meet. The practice was so widespread that not to do so attracted unfavorable attention suggesting that one was a profiteer. Pearl S. Buck records the case of one family where the woman of the house reluctantly confessed to her husband that they would have to have a lodger. He greeted the news not with anger, but with a sigh of relief: the neighbors had begun to talk. Real property lost its value like everything else. Pearl Buck notes the case of a couple selling their house in order to marry their daughter in some kind of style. More telling is a famous song of inflation:

We are drinking away our grandma’s

Little capital

And her first and second mortgage too.17

As noted in the famous and highly intelligent paper the Weltbühne, the song picked out the difference between the "old" generation of grandparents who had scraped and saved carefully in order to acquire the security of a house, and the "new generation" for whom there could be no security any more, who "raided capital" or what was left of it, and were prepared to go to any lengths to enjoy themselves. Where their parents’ lives had been structured with certainties, the only certainty that they possessed was that saving was a form of madness.

Not all Germans suffered, of course. Late in 1923 Hugo Stinnes did what he could to alleviate the misery of his fellow countrymen by the magnanimous decision to double his tipping rate in view of the inflation.18 Along with rents, rail fares were also fixed and did not go up in proportion to inflation. Consequently, travel appeared absurdly cheap. Alec Swan recalls crossing Germany in the greatest style for a handful of copper coins. Yet even this was beyond the means of most Germans. A German train in 1923 would consist of several first-class carriages occupied entirely by comfortable foreigners, and a series of run-down third-class carriages crammed to bursting with impoverished and wretched Germans.

Although the shops were full of food, no one could afford it except foreigners. Germans often had to be content with food not normally thought of as fit for human consumption. In Hamburg there were riots when it was discovered that the local canning factory was using cats and rats for its preserved meats. Sausage factories also made much use of cat and horse meat.19 Moreover, as we shall see, some of the most famous mass murderers of the age used to preserve and sell the meat of their victims in a combination of savagery and an almost sexual obsession with food that mythologizes much of the darkness and the violence that were latent in the mood of Weimar.

If 1923 was a bad year for the Germans it was an annus mirabilis for foreigners. Inflation restored the sinking morale of the army of occupation ; small wonder when every private found himself a rich man overnight. In Cologne an English girl took lessons from the prima donna of the opera for sixpence a lesson. When she insisted that in future she pay a shilling, the prima donna wept with delight.20 Shopping became a way of life: "All through that autumn and winter whenever we felt hipped we went out and bought something. It was a relaxation limited at home, unlimited in the Rhineland.". 21

Germany was suddenly infested with foreigners. It has been suggested that the English actually sent their unemployed out and put them up in hotels because it was cheaper than paying out the dole.22 Alec Swan stayed with his family in a pension in Bonn. They had moved to Germany because life was so much cheaper there. The inmates of Swan’s pension were mostly foreigners of strange complexion, such as the Swede suffering from tertiary syphilis who would bombard heads of state with urgent telegrams. There was also an extremely fat German, christened Glaxo by the Swans. He was in the habit of helping himself to gigantic mounds of the spaghetti which formed the staple diet of the common table, saying apologetically, "My stomach, my stomach," with a hand upon the offending organ, as a form of explanation.

To find oneself suddenly wealthy in the midst of tremendous hardship proved rather unsettling. Inflation corrupted foreigners almost as much as the Germans. The English in Cologne could think of nothing else.

They talked with sparkling eyes and a heightened color, in the banks, the streets, the shops, the restaurants, any public place, with Germans standing around gazing at them.

Scruples were on the whok overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of wealth and purchasing power beyond one’s dreams.23

As Alec Swan put it:

You felt yourself superior to the others, and at the same time you realized that it was not quite justified. When we went to Bellingshausen, which was a sort of wine place near Königswinter, we would start drinking in the afternoon. I would always order champagne and my Dutch friend would shake his head in disapproval. We’d have two ice buckets: he with some Rhine wine and me with German champagne. It was really rather ridiculous for a chap of my age to drink champagne on his own.

Being as wealthy as that was an extraordinary feeling, although there were many things you couldn’t get in Germany. It was impossible to buy a decent hat, for instance. But you could have any food you wanted if you could pay for it. I haven’t eaten anything like as well as that in my life. I used to go to the Königshalle (that was the big café in Bonn) at eleven o’clock in the morning for a Frühschoppen and a Bergmann’s Stückchen, a large piece of toast with fresh shrimps and mayonnaise. For a German that would have been quite impossible.

I paid two million marks for a glass of beer. You changed as little money as you could every day. No, one did not feel guilty, one felt it was perfectly normal, a gift from the gods. Of course there was hatred in the air, and I dare say a lot of resentment against foreigners, but we never noticed it. They were still beaten, you see, a bit under and occupied.

My mother did buy meat for three or four German families. I remember I bought an air gun, and, when I grew tired of it, I gave it to my German teacher’s son, with some pellets. Some time later the woman came to me in tears saying the boy had run out of pellets, and they could not afford to buy any more.

On another occasion Swan, all of twenty-two at the time, took the head of the Leipzig book fair out for a meal and looked on incredulously as the elderly and eminent bookseller cast dignity to the winds and started to eat as if he had not had a meal in months.

Stories of money changing and currency speculation are legion. Bureaux de change were to be found in every shop, apartment block, hairdresser’s, tobacconist’s. An Englishman named Sandford Griffith remembers having to visit a number of cities in the Ruhr which had local currencies. He stopped at a dealer’s to change some money, but when he produced a pound note the dealer was so overcome by such wealth that he simply waved a hand at his stock of currency and invited the astonished Englishman to help himself.24 Foreigners acquired antiques and objets de valeur at rock-bottom prices. A favorite trick was to buy in the morning with a down payment, saying that one would fetch the rest of the money from the bank. By waiting until the new exchange rate had come out at noon before changing one’s money into marks, an extra profit could be made on the amount that the mark had fallen since the day before.25

The population responded to the foreign onslaught with a double pricing system. Shops would make their prices up for foreigners. It would cost a tourist 200 marks to visit Potsdam, when it cost a German 25. Some shops simply declined to sell to foreigners at all.26 In Berlin a Schlemmsteuer, or tax on gluttony, was appended to all meals taken in luxury restaurants.27

Foreign embassies were also major beneficiaries of inflation, giving lavish banquets for virtually nothing. Indeed the Weltbühne noted with great resentment the presence of foreign legations of nations so insignificant that they would never hitherto have dreamed of being represented in Germany.28 The spectacle of foreigners of all nations, living grotesquely well and eating beyond their fill in the middle of an impoverished and starving Germany did not encourage the Germans to rally to the causes of pacificism and internationalism. The apparent reason for their inflation was there for all to see, occupying the Ruhr.

The surface manifestations of inflation were unnerving enough, but its effect upon behavior, values and morals were to reach very deep indeed, persisting for years after the stabilization of the mark, right up to the moment when Hitler came to power. The middle class—civil servants, professional men, academics—which had stood for stability, social respectability, cultural continuity, and constituted a conservative and restraining influence was wiped out. A French author met a threadbare and dignified old couple in spotless but well-worn prewar clothes in a cafe. They ordered two clear soups and one beer, eating as if they were famished. He struck up a conversation with the man, who spoke excellent French and had known Paris before the war. "Monsieur," the man replied, when asked his profession, "I used to be a retired professor, but we are beggars now.".29

There was a general feeling that an old and decent society was being destroyed. If the year 1918 had removed that society’s political traditions and its national pride, 1923 was disposing of its financial substructure. In response, people grew either listless or hysterical. A German woman told Pearl Buck that a whole generation simply lost its taste for life—a taste that would only be restored to them by the Nazis. Family bonds melted away. A friend of Swan, a most respectable German whose father was a civil servant on the railways, simply left home and roamed the country with a band. It was a typical 1923 case history. Young men born between 1900 and 1905 who had grown up expecting to inherit a place in the sun from their well-to-do parents suddenly found they had nothing. From imperial officer to bank clerk became a "normal" progression. Such disinherited young men naturally gravitated toward the illegal right-wing organizations and other extremist groups. Inflation had destroyed savings, self-assurance, a belief in the value of hard work, morality and sheer human decency. Young people felt that they had no prospects and no hope. All around them they could see nothing but worried faces. "When they are crying even a gay laughter seems impossible . . . and all around it was the same . . . quite different from the days of revolution when we had hoped things would be better.".30

Traditional middle-class morality disappeared overnight. People of good family co-habited and had illegitimate children. The impossibility of making a marriage economically secure apparently led to a disappearance of marriage itself.31 Germany in 1923 was a hundred years away from those stable middle-class values that Thomas Mann depicted in The Magic Mountain, set in a period scarcely ten years before. Pearl Buck wrote that "Love was old-fashioned, sex was modern. It was the Nazis who restored the ‘right to love’ in their propaganda.".32

Paradoxically, the inflation that destroyed traditional German values was also largely responsible for the creation of that new, decadent and dissolute generation that put Berlin on the cosmopolitan pleasure seeker’s map, and has kept it or its image there ever since. It was no coincidence that 1923 was the year that the Hotel Adlon first hired gigolos, professional male dancers, to entertain lady clients at so much per dance. It was also a period when prostitution boomed. A Frenchman accustomed enough to the spectacle of Montmartre was unable to believe his eyes when he beheld the open corruption of Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse.33 Klaus Mann remembers:

Some of them looked like fierce Amazons strutting in high boots made of green glossy leather. One of them brandished a supple cane and leered at me as I passed by. "Good evening, madame" I said. She whispered in my ear: "Want to be my slave? Costs only six billion and a cigarette. A bargain. Come along, honey.".

. . . Some of those who looked most handsome and elegant were actually boys in disguise. It seemed incredible considering the sovereign grace with which they displayed their saucy coats and hats. I wondered if they might be wearing little silks under their exquisite gowns; must look funny I thought … a boy’s body with pink lace-trimmed skirt.34

Commercial sex in Berlin was not well organized and was considered by connoisseurs to be inferior to that of Budapest, which had the best red-light district in Europe. But in Berlin there was no longer any clear-cut distinction between the red-light district and the rest of town, between professional and amateur. The booted Amazons were streetwalkers who jostled for business in competition with school children. Hans Fallada has painted the following portrait of a shop girl:

Pepa Ledig was at twenty-two no longer a blank page. She had ripened, not in a peaceful atmosphere, but during the war, postwar and inflation. Only too soon she knew what it meant when a gentleman customer in her bootshop touched her lap significantly with his toe. Sometimes she nodded . . . 35

Stefan Zweig gives us another glimpse of inflationary Berlin:

Along the entire Kurfürstendamm powdered and rouged young men sauntered, and they were not all professionals; every schoolboy wanted to earn some money, and in the dimly lit bars one might see government officials and men of the world of finance tenderly courting drunken sailors without shame. . . .

At the pervert balls of Berlin, hundreds of men dressed as women, and hundreds of women as men danced under the benevolent eyes of the police…. Young girls bragged proudly of their perversion. To be sixteen and still under suspicion of virginity would have been considered a disgrace in any school in Berlin at the time.36

Another visitor was struck by what he referred to as Berlin’s "pathological" mood:

Nowhere in Europe was the disease of sex so violent as in Germany. A sense of decency and hypocrisy made the rest of Europe suppress or hide its more uncommon manifestations. But the Germans, with their vitality and their lack of a sense of form, let their emotions run riot. Sex was one of the few pleasures left to them. . . .

In the East End of Berlin there was a large Diele (dancing cafe) in which from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. you could watch shopkeepers, clerks and policemen of mature age dance together. They treated one another with an affectionate mateyness; the evening brought them their only recreation among congenial people. Politically most of them were conservative; with the exception of sex they subscribed to all the conventions of their caste. In fact, they almost represented the normal element of German sex life.

… There was a well-known Diele frequented almost entirely by foreigners of both sexes. The entertainment was provided by native boys between 14 and 18. Often a boy. would depart with one of the guests and return alone a couple of hours later. Most of the boys looked undernourished…. Many of them had to spend the rest of the night in a railway station, a public park, or under the arch of a bridge.37

Inflation made Germany break with her past by wiping out the local equivalent of the Forsytes. It also reinforced the postwar generation’s appetite for invention, innovation and compulsive pleasure seeking, while making them bitterly aware of their own rootlessness. It is not surprising that cocaine was very much in vogue in those years. The drug was peddled openly in restaurants by the hat-check girls, and formed an integral part of the social life of Berlin.

Inflation was also taken as evidence that the old order was morally and practically bankrupt. Capitalism had failed to guarantee the security of its citizens. It had benefited speculators, hustlers, con men and factory owners. It had spawned Hugo Stinnes, but had done nothing for the common good. The need for an alternative system appeared universally self-evident, and until one came along the thing to do was to enjoy oneself, drink away grandma’s capital, or exchange one’s clothes for cocaine: a dinner jacket got you four grams, a morning coat eight.38

Inflation and the despair that it created also acted as the catalyst of aggression. It was at this time that anti-Semitism began to appear in Berlin. An attractive German lady remembers walking through a prosperous suburb with a Jewish friend when someone called to her in the street, "Why do you go around with a Jew ? Get yourself a good German man." In one sense she found it understandable. The ordinary German was very slow to adjust to the special situation of inflation, and in 1923 anyone who was not very quick on their feet soon went under. Jews were better at economic survival in such situations than were other Germans—so much so, she says, that by the end of inflation they had become terribly conspicuous. All the expensive restaurants, all the best theater seats, appeared to be filled by Jews who had survived or even improved their position.

One can imagine that Germans who had lost their own status might have resented the spectacle. One old conservative I spoke to added a second reason for the rise of anti-Semitism in a Prussian society which had traditionally been quite free of it. The arguments advanced are his own, and tell us something of his prejudices. He believes that the Weimar Republic was too liberal with regard to immigration from the East, admitting thousands of Jews from Galicia and the old pale of settlement, persons who, in his words, were "Asiatics, not Jews." They found themselves in a strange anonymous town, free of all the ethical restraints imposed by life in a small community where their families had lived for several generations. They tended therefore to abandon all morality as they stepped out of their own homes, morality being strictly a family affair. They would sail as close to the wind as the law would allow, for they had no good will, or neighborly esteem to lose. The gentleman in question is convinced that their mode of doing business during the inflation did a great deal to create or aggravate more generalized anti-Semitic feelings.

Yet precisely these immigrants were to prove a mainstay of the republic. An old Berlin Jew who had spent some time in prewar Auschwitz told me that it was just these Eastern Jews who offered the most active and effective resistance to National Socialism. They were activists where native Berliners, Jew and Gentile alike, were more inclined to remain on the sidelines.

Certainly the period saw a rise in pro-National Socialist feelings. The first Nazi that Professor Reiff knew personally was a schoolboy in his last year. The young man’s father, a small civil servant, had just lost everything through inflation, and as a result his son joined the party. Pearl Buck records the views of an antimonarchical businessman worried by inflation, who said of the Nazis: "They are still young men and act foolishly, but they will grow up. If they will only drop Ludendorff and his kind, maybe someday I’ll give them a chance.".39

For many people, who felt that they had lost all zest for a life rendered colorless by war and poverty, who
could see that they lived in a world in which Schieber won and decent folk lost, a new ideology combining patriotism and socialist anticapitalism seemed to be the only viable alternative to a totally unacceptable state of financial chaos and capitalist laissez-faire. The shock of inflation had made people mistrustful of the past, immensely suspicious of the present, and pathetically ready to have hopes for the future. It was perfectly clear to them that new solutions were needed, equally clear that until such solutions should appear they could put their trust in nothing except the validity of their own sensations.

The mood of the inflationary period is summed up by Stefan Zweig. It is a mood that endured well beyond inflation itself to become the mood of the Weimar age, a blend of pleasure seeking, sexual and political extremism, and a yearning for strange gods.

It was an epoch of high ecstasy and ugly scheming, a singular mixture of unrest and fanaticism. Every extravagant idea that was not subject to regulation reaped a golden harvest: theosophy, occultism, yogism and Paracelcism. Anything that gave hope of newer and greater thrills, anything in the way of narcotics, morphine, cocaine, heroin found a tremendous market; on the stage incest and parricide, in politics communism and fascism constituted the most favored themes.40

It was indeed a time for the revaluation of all (devalued) values.

The mood of 1923 persisted long after inflation ended, which is why the manner of its ending is offered here as a postscript, for nothing was restored but the currency.

Restoration of confidence was only possible when passive resistance in the Ruhr ended in the autumn of 1923. At the same time, the Reichsbank appointed Hjalmar Schacht to deal with inflation. He was an extremely able man with a clear grasp of essentials. He realized that his main problem was to restore confidence both within and without Germany, and to try to prevent people from spending money as soon as it came into their hands. He established a new currency, based on the notional sum total of Germany’s agricultural wealth, the Roggen-Mark (rye mark). This had the effect of restoring psychological confidence in the currency. He combined the move with a gigantic bear trap laid by the Reichsbank to catch the speculators who would regularly build up huge short positions in marks, in the almost certain expectation that the mark would continue to fall against the dollar: i.e., they sold marks they hadn’t got, knowing that they could buy them for a fraction of their present value when the time came to meet the demand. When the mark stopped falling, thanks to the Reichsbank’s engineering, they had to rush to close their positions, and were forced to buy marks which had actually begun to go up. Many speculators lost the entire fortunes which they had built up over the year.

Schacht’s measures sufficed to stop the rot, but in the period between the ordnance declaring the new currency and the appearance of the first notes, there was an interim of pure chaos in which, as Lord d’Abernon noted, "four kinds of paper money and five kinds of stable value currency were in use. On November 20,1923,1 dollar =4.2 gold marks =4.2 trillion paper marks. But by December the currency was stable." The last November issue of the weekly Berliner Ulustrirter Zeitung cost a billion marks, the first December issue 20 pfennigs. Confidence seemed to have been restored overnight. Germany could breathe again.

There were those, however, who could not accept that the old certainties were lost, as this sad little postscript will prove. In the old days the highest denomination printed had been the brown thousand-mark note which had a prestigious, almost magic significance. Many people among the older generation found it impossible to accept that its value was now gone forever. The notes were seen as the symbol of the golden age of stability before inflation, and it was the touching hope of many that one day they would be restored to full value. In the meantime they were hoarded and even collected. They could be bought in the Munich flea market for five marks a million. That there was still a demand for them at all is proof of the belief that one day the Reichsbank would honor its pledge and exchange paper for gold. Weimar’s electoral system of proportional representation encouraged the proliferation of small political parties, of which there were many. But without a doubt, the strangest and saddest political party of them all was the "Party for the Revaluation of the Thousand-Mark Note.".

 

FOOTNOTES

Chapter 6 – INFLATION

1 d’Abernon, vol. II, p. 23
2 Ibid, p. 22
3 Ibid, p. 24
4 Bonn, p. 2 78
5 Buck, p. 143
6 Ludecke, p. 148
7 Zweig.p. 237
8 Ibid, loc. cit.
9 Daily Express, February 24, 1923
10 Ostwald,p. 63
11 Adlon.p. 99
12 Ostwald,p. 130
13 Clark, p. 11
14 Ibid, loc. cit.
15 Ibid, p. 12
16 Schonberger, p. 155
17 Ostwald.p. 181
18 Adlon.p. 98
19 Ostwald, pp. 84-5
20 Tynan.p. 132
21 Ibid, p. 157
22 Zweig.p. 223
23 Tynan.p. 157
24 Lochner, p. 102
25 Ibid, p. 103
26 Got, p. 67
27 Ibid, p. 57
28 Weltbuhne,
November 1922
29 Beraud.p. 82
30 Buck, p. 163
31 Ibid, p. 141
32 Ibid, loc. cit.
33 Beraud.p. 22
34 Mann, p. 77
35 Fallada, Wolf, Among Wolves, p. 15
36 Zweig.p.238
37 Landauer, pp. 77-80
38 Got, p. 53
39 Buck, p. 232
40 Zweig.p.238

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DEPRESSION, DEUTSCHMARK (Germany), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, GERMANY, HISTORY, HYPERINFLATION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INFLATION, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

THE KILLING WINDS – THE MENACE OF BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

Chapter 2

by Jeanne McDermott (Arbor House – 1987 – Hardback – 322 pages – ISBN 0877958963)

HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

“Armis Bella Non Venenis Geri” (War is waged with weapons, not with poisons). — Roman condemnation of well poisoning

Identical copies of the BIOCHEMICAL WARFAREtreaty banning biological weapons reside in Moscow, London, and at the mammoth State Department building in Washington, D.C. The United States stores its treaties in a dim, almost shabby room, behind a massive, electronically controlled bank vault door, filled with scores of musty manila folders crammed together on rows of gray metal shelves. Here, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction is nothing special, just one of thousands of international agreements on everything from wheat to whaling, seabeds to outer space.

Genevieve Bell has been the treaty librarian since 1969, the year Nixon renounced biological weapons. Dressed in a green corduroy suit and a green blouse for Saint Patrick’s Day, she welcomes the infrequent visitor. In the age of instant Xerox, few people care to see the originals anymore. “It’s not too often at all that I bring out the Biological Weapons Convention,” she says. “If a party wants to see it, yes, sure, we have an obligation to show it. But I can’t say I’ve had many requests.”

The Biological Weapons Convention, or BWC, as it is usually abbreviated, has the feel of a noteworthy and honorable modern document. It is bound with a simple, blue leather, folio-size cover; typed on creamy, gold-edged paper; decorated with a delicate red and blue ink border; held together with a red, white, and blue ribbon that threads through punched holes in the paper and binder.

The treaty itself is written in five languages: English, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Russian, and followed by thirty-five pages of official and often ornate signatures. To date, over a hundred countries have signed the Biological Weapons Convention, the most recent being China, which the State Department welcomed with a small ceremony.

The text of the treaty has fifteen articles, but the first and second express the heart of the agreement. The first says:

Each State Party to this convention undertakes never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain 1) microbial or other biological agents or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; 2) weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.

The second article reads:

Each State Party to this Convention undertakes to destroy or to divert to peaceful purposes, as soon as possible, but no later than nine months after the entry into force of the Convention, all agents, toxins, weapons, equipment and means of delivery specified in Article I of the Convention, which are in its possession or under its jurisdiction or control.

The treaty specifically bans biological weapons, those made Ayith disease-causing germs such as anthrax, and toxin weapons, those made with poisons produced by living organisms such as botulinum. It does not ban chemical weapons, those made with synthetic chemicals such as nerve gas. (Another treaty, the Geneva Protocol, bans the use but not the production or stockpiling of chemical weapons.) Despite the differences in their legal status, chemical and biological weapons are often lumped together, abbreviated in discussions within military circles as CBW. What the weapons have in common is the fact that they are invisible killers that travel through the air.

For historians, as well as students of arms control, the Biological Weapons Convention represents a daring landmark and a milestone in detente. It was the first treaty, and remains the only one in existence, to ban outright an entire class of weapons, prohibiting not only the use, but also the manufacture and stockpiling of the weapons. No other arms control treaty has aimed to be so comprehensive or ambitious, and in the last few years, no other treaty has found itself at the center of so much controversy. With the passage of time, the State Department retires some international agreements to the National Archives, simply to make room for newcomers. But those treaties that provoke accusations and counteraccusations — such as the Biological Weapons Convention—stay inside the vault.

The Biological Weapons Convention bans one of the oldest and least respected forms of warfare—the use of poison and disease. Since Greco-Roman times, poisons have figured not so much as weapons of war but as tools for assassination. Although the use and preparation of poison was a shrouded, clandestine art, it seems clear that the Greeks and Romans knew about the toxic qualities of hemlock, hellebore, rhubarb, the castor bean, and the amanita mushroom. In the imperial courts, professional poisoners tried to outsmart the cup bearers and food tasters, and often succeeded, the best-known example being Agrippina, who is thought to have poisoned her husband, the Roman emperor Claudius. Some historians claim that Pope Alexander poisoned his way to power, that during the Italian Renaissance, the powerful Borgias picked off their rivals with poison, and that the plotting in the courts of Louis XIV and the Russian czars involved tainted potions.

Until the invention of the microscope and the germ theory of disease, diseases could not be spread in the sophisticated ways that poison was. One technique was to dump a corpse in the enemy’s well or water supply. But then, as now, the attacker ran the risk that the disease would strike his own troops.

Possibly the earliest, and one of the few, recorded accounts of biological warfare took place in the spring of 1346 when the Mongols laid seige to Kaffa, a walled city on the Crimean coast. After three unsuccessful years in which their own soldiers were dying of the plague, the Mongols tried something new. According to an eyewitness, “The Tatars, fatigued by such a plague and pestiferous disease, stupefied and amazed, and observing themselves dying without hope of health, ordered cadavers placed on their hurling machines and thrown into the city of Kaffa so that by means of these intolerable passengers, the defenders died widely. Thus there were projected mountains of dead, nor could the Christians hide or flee or be freed from such a disaster.” While Kaffa filled with plague, some of the survivors fled, carrying the disease with them to Constantinople, Venice, Genoa, and other European ports. Within three years, the Black Death (spread by less heinous activities as well) swept Europe, killing a quarter of the population.

In another often recounted case, the British commander-in-chief in the American colonies, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, set out to destroy the American Indians with disease after an Indian rebellion in 1763. “You will do well to try to innoculate the Indians by means of blankets,” Amherst told his subordinates, “as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” At his request, two blankets and a handkerchief from a smallpox hospital were given as presents to an Ohio tribe. A few months later, smallpox broke out, and, lacking immunity, the Indians were ravaged by disease.

By the twentieth century, disease ceased to be explained by mysterious miasmas or elemental imbalances of humors. Microscopic organisms—bacteria, fungi, and viruses—were gradually identified as the culprits, isolated, cultured, and studied. At the same time, the molecules responsible for the toxicity of so many plants ANTHRAX SPORESand animals were extracted, concentrated, and purified by methods more reliable than making incantations under a full moon. During World War II, scientists around the world began to devise ways to incorporate invisible germs and poisons into conventional military hardware.

To the modern soldier, the various types of biological weapons developed since then do not look like anything very special. In fact, they look like conventional weapons—a bomb dropped from an airplane, a canister and shell fired from a rocket launcher or howitzer, a missile, a drone, and even bullets. The weapons are designed to be hurled, fired, or dropped. The weapons can also be in the form of a spray, spread by a low-flying airplane like a crop-dusting pesticide. While the bomb and the spray tank became standards, a few unusual efforts also emerged—like long-range balloons carrying feathers infected with anticrop spores, bombs filled with disease-carrying insects, and a deadly aerosol spray can shaped like a whisky hip flask.

What distinguishes one biological weapon from another is not so much the hardware but the fillings, which contain the ANTHRAX THRU AN ELECTRONIC MICROSCOPEdeadliest organisms nature ever concocted, all too small to be seen with the naked eye. Some are bacteria and fungi, living creatures only one cell big. Others are viruses, even tinier, ephemeral entities on the threshold of life, made of chunks of DNA, which replicate only by invading and taking over a cell. And finally, some are toxins, the poisonous molecules secreted by plants and microbes, sprayed by insects, or injected by snakes to destroy their own enemies.

In nature, the microbes, viruses, and toxins that cause disease are everywhere, lurking in the soil, the water, the air, your food. Physicians battle these primordial public enemies daily, trying to prevent their growth, treating those people who fall prey. The creation of a biological weapon, in fact, begins with the knowledge gained by doctors of medicine in the process of treating disease. Instead of applying that knowledge to save life, the practice of medicine is perverted, turned inside out, upside down, in violation of the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.

From the enormous roster of the world’s diseases and toxins, which grows each year as new diseases evolve or are discovered, almost all have been considered as potential biological weapons. But many have not been seriously studied because they are not hardy, swift-acting, reliably infective, or easily spread through the air—qualities that a weapon designer wants. From 1943, when the United States launched its biological weapons program, until 1969, it experimented with the following human and animal diseases and toxins: anthrax, botulinum, brucellosis, chikungunya, cholera, coccidiosis, dengue, dysentery, food poisoning toxin, influenza, melioidosis, plague, psittacosis, Q-fever, Red Tide poison, Rift Valley Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Russian spring-summer encephalitis, shigellosis, smallpox, tularemia, typhoid, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and yellow fever.

It also experimented with the following crop diseases: wheat rust, rice blast, tobacco mosaic, corn stunt, potato yellow dwarf, Fiji disease (which attacks sugar cane), hoja blanca (which attacks rice), rice blight, corn blight, sugar cane wilt, coffee rust, maize rust, rice brown-spot disease, late blight of potato, powdery mildew of cereals, stripe rust of cereals.

Of all the countries in ANTHRAXthe world, only the United States admitted to amassing a stockpile of biological weapons, and when the Biological Weapons Convention was signed, only the United States publicly destroyed its arsenal. It had had an active biological warfare program for twenty-five years and had produced and/or standardized ten different biological and toxin weapons, selecting them for a constellation of practical characteristics. The list included:

Anthrax: The renowned bacteriologist Robert Koch first cultured the single-celled bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, in 1877, which under the microscope looks like a football. It lives in the soil in many parts of the world, where it forms an almost indestructible spore resistant to disinfectants, rapid freezing and thawing, even boiling. Anthrax infects goats, sheep, horses, cattle, elephants, hippos, and many other animals, including people. If you touch the spores, the bacterium can enter through a wound in the skin and form a small lesion or pustule that eventually turns coal black. (Anthrax is from the Greek word for coal.) Fever, chills, malaise, nausea, and vomiting follow. Even without adequate treatment, almost everyone recovers.

While the cutaneous form of anthrax is the most common today, in nineteenth-century England the inhalation form of anthrax was widespread. It was known as wool-sorter’s disease because factory workers fell sick after reaching into bins full of wool and shaking the wool out. The motion unleased a cloud of anthrax spores into the air which the workers then inhaled. Within two to three days, they died from suffocation, the result of a toxin released by the anthrax bacterium.

The spores clung not only to sheep wool but to many other animal products as well. A vaccuum cleaner assembler caught it from revolving horsehair brushes, a man who cut piano keys from an elephant’s tusk, and a tourist from a hide-covered bongo drum brought back from a Caribbean vacation. If untreated, the inhalation form of anthrax kills almost everyone exposed to it. While anthrax remains a negligible livestock concern in this country, cases of inhalation anthrax have all but disappeared since the passage of stricter sanitation laws. The military concentrated on the inhalation form of anthrax as a weapon, particularly during World War II. But the spore is so indestructible that once unleashed it permanently contaminates an area, denying it to both defender and attacker. Despite these drawbacks, the United States continues to view anthrax as a potential biological weapon.

Botulinum: Botulinum is a toxin that takes its name from the Latin word for sausage because it was first identified in 1793 when thirteen people in a small German town fell sick after eating the same sausage. The bacterium, which secretes the toxin, was isolated a hundred years later when band members in a small Belgian town fell sick after eating a ham. Shaped like a stout rod, Clostridiwn botulinum commonly and harmlessly grows in the oxygen-free surface layers of the soil, particularly in California, and for reasBACTERIAons unclear, produces botulinum, the most potent neurotoxin known. The microbe only causes problems in improperly canned or cooked food, of which a mere nibble can kill. The toxin takes effect within twelve to seventy-two hours, leaving the victim headachy, dizzy, and (if the dose is sufficient) ultimately dead from respiratory paralysis. About a hundred people succumb to botulinum each year worldwide, and of these 30 percent die. The U. S. Army produced twenty-thousand botulinum-tipped bullets and also planned to spread the toxin as an aerosol until it became clear that sunlight degrades it and destroys its potency.

Brucellosis: Found in wild animals like antelope, reindeer, caribou, and hares, brucellosis was a common livestock disease in the United States until eradication programs began in the 1960s. Today, this country has about one hundred-fifty cases each year, mostly among abattoir workers, farmers, and veterinarians who are exposed to the blood of the infected animals. The disease is caused by several strains of the Brucella bacterium. After a four- or five-day incubation period, the infected person has a low-grade fever, and a tired, rundown feeling that gets progressively worse. Over the next two to three months, he or she loses weight, feels depressed, and suffers an intermittent fever. Once diagnosed, brucellosis is treated with tetracycline. Explored by the army as a weapon in the early days of the program, it was dropped in the 1950s in favor of diseases that act and incapacitate more quickly and more uniformly.

Q-fever: Q-fever is short for query fever. When first discovered among abattoir workers in Queensland, Australia, no one BOTULISMknew what it was. The disease hits suddenly, triggering severe headache, stiff neck, chills, sweats, and a lack of appetite, like a severe case of the flu. Within seven to ten days, it subsides. Nobel laureate F. McFarlane Burnet isolated the cause, a single-celled microbe that changes from the shape of a rod to that of a bead, and named it Coxiella burnetii. C. burnetii is highly infective and very persistent, able to survive in sheep’s wool for seven to nine months. It spreads by aerosol, ticks, mice, bedbugs, and fleas. In Italy, the passage of a flock of sheep through a narrow street was enough to start an infection. Employees at a commercial laundry caught it from handling the unsterilized clothes of lab workers who studied it. Only one to ten microbes are needed to infect. Q-fever strikes sheep, goats, and cattle worldwide, but the infection often escapes notice in both animals and people. Doctors in the United States see one hundred to two hundred cases a year in people, but suspect that a milder form is more common and probably mistaken for the flu. For the military, Q-fever was attractive because it is stable, infective, and quick to act. The army continues to research it today.

Saxitoxin: Throughout many of the world’s oceans, single-celled plankton called dinoflagellates bloom in the summer months, tinging the water red, creating what coast-dwellers call Red Tide. Clams, mussels, oysters, and other filter-feeding bivalves eat the dinoflagellates. People eat the molluscs and occasionally die as the result of ten or more deadly and paralyzing toxins, including the extraordinarily powerful saxi-toxin, produced by the dinoflagellates. In 1974, there were 1,600 cases worldwide of paralytic shellfish poisoning and 300 deaths. Death, when it occurs, takes place within thirty minutes after the meal, as the lips, tongue and face start to burn and tingle. As the feeling spreads to the legs and arms, paralysis sets in. The throat closes up. Until the respiratory muscles cease all movement and suffocation occurs, the victim stays calm and conscious. There is no specific antidote. In the 1950s and 1960s, Detrick scientists prepared over 30 grams of shellfish toxin by harvesting, collecting, and grinding up a vast number of Alaskan butter clams and other shellfish. The toxin was used in the suicide pill carried by Francis Gary Powers, the pilot who flew the secret U-2 plane over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Staphylococcus YERSINIA PESTISenterotoxin: Staphylococcus is a ubiquitous, beach ball-shaped bacterium that comes in many strains. Some are harmless and some, like those that cause toxic shock syndrome and food poisoning, are not. The food-poisoning strain wreaks havoc by secreting an enterotoxin. Although the organism is killed by normal cooking temperatures, it can multiply very rapidly, producing enough toxin to make you sick in two to three hours. Severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea hit within half an hour to four hours after eating and last for one to two days. The CIA chose the toxin for its immediate and fierce action and stockpiled a form resistant to the chlorine in city water supplies. Since the freeze dried form of the toxin is stable and can be stored for up to a year, the military planned to spray it over large areas.

Tularemia: Tularemia resembles the plague. Discovered in Tu-lare County, California, in 1911, tularemia is carried by squirrels, rabbits, field voles, mice, shrews, and ticks. The disease exists in all countries north of the equator. In Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, it occurs most frequently during rabbit-hunting season. Caused by the bacterium Pasteurella tularensis, it strikes two to seven days after exposure—usually in the course of skinning the rabbit. The victim starts to feel achey, with chills and a fever as high as 105 ° F. If inhaled, which happens infrequently in nature but would be the case in a biological war, it causes a cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. If untreated, 5 to 8 percent of the people who get tularemia die. For inhalatory tularemia, as many as 40 percent may die. Doctors treat it with antibiotics, but the U.S. military developed a strain of tularemia that was resistant to streptomycin. There are 250 to 300 cases in the United States each year. At the time of the arsenal’s destruction, the government had a large stockpile of tularemia and considered it a useful weapon.

Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE): VEE is a mosquito-borne virus first found in horses in Venezuela, and later across South and Central America, including Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. In 1970, the mosquito harboring VEE crossed over the Rio Grande River into Texas, but the feared spread of the disease was contained by eradicating the insect. Within twenty-four hours of injection, the virus produces a headache and fever from which most recover in three days. The virus spreads to the nervous system in 10 percent of the cases and is fatal in 1 percent. The United States was increasing its stockpiles of VEE in the late 1960s.

Yellow fever: Yellow fever is a disease with a notorious legacy, responsible for killing the slaves on the slave ships and probably for destroying the crew and passengers of the legendary Flying Dutchman. It is caused by a virus carried by mosquitoes found in a belt just above and below the equator. It strikes three to six days after the mosquito bite, with a fever and often liver damage, which brings on a yellow color—hence the name. As part of an “entomological warfare” program started in the early 1950s, Detrick labs produced half a million mosquitoes a month, and in tests, planes dropped infected mosquitoes over a residential area in Georgia and Florida. In addition to yellow fever-infected mosquitoes, Detrick grew mosquitoes infected with malaria and dengue; fleas infected with plague; ticks infected with tularemia; flies infected with cholera, anthrax, and dysentery. By the late 1960s, yellow fever was not considered a weapon of choice.

The United States also stockpiled two anticrop diseases:

Wheat rust: In April of each year, the Romans held a ceremony, sacrificing a red dog to keep the gods from unleashing the YERSINIA PESTISred rust disease on their wheat crop. Like fire, the rust streaks the leaves and stems, sometimes even reddening the soil. Once it takes hold, the rust can destroy more crop in less time than any other disease. It is caused by a fungus, Puccinia graminis, which forms a tough, windblown spore that grows under humid conditions. Rust can kill the plant outright or shrivel and stunt it.

Rice blast: Caused by the fungus Piricularia oryzae, rice blast also spreads as a windblown spore, growing under humid conditions. If it attacks during an early stage of the plant’s growth, the plant fails to produce rice. Some American planners considered dropping rice blast on Vietnamese rice paddies during the war but the plan was never approved by senior officials. It would have proved difficult to implement since the Vietnamese planted so many different strains, each becoming susceptible at slightly different times.

Outside of isolated sabotage incidents, biological and toxin weapons have seen remarkably little use in the twentieth century, or rather, remarkably little use that everyone can agree on. No one disputes that the Japanese used germ warfare against the Chinese during World War II. But opinions are divided on two notorious and widely publicized incidents. Did the United States wage germ warfare against North Korea and China during the Korean War? Did the Laotians and Cambo-dians use Soviet-made toxin weapons in Southeast Asia in the late 1970s and early 1980s?

Pound for pound, and penny for penny, biological weapons excel in packing the deadliest punch of any weapon. According to an army field manual written in 1966, a single fighter plane spraying a lethal biological agent could cause 50 percent mortality over an area of 300 square miles; that is, it could kill half the people in a city the size of Dallas or New York. That is ten times the area that would be devastated by the same amount of nerve gas.

Biological weapons come relatively cheap. A panel of experts told the United Nations in 1969 that in a large-scale operation against a civilian population, casualties might cost $2,000 per square kilometer for conventional weapons; $800 for nuclear; $600 for nerve gas; $1 for biological weapons. For the price, one gets a brutally versatile weapon. Biological weapons can be weapons of mass destruction, capable of wiping out huge civilian centers; they can blight a country’s breadbasket while leaving the industrial infrastructure intact; they can be sprayed on people ill-equipped to defend themselves in order to drive them off the land; they can be spread in unconventional ways—on the wings of birds, through infected ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, flies, and tourists. They are, however, most uniquely suited to sabotage, terrorism, and covert operations since they are invisible, small enough to carry in a pocket, and, without careful monitoring, can be indistinguishable from natural occurrences.

Why, then, did President Richard Nixon, a political realist who approached foreign policy as if it were a chess game, give up such a good thing? The reason is simple: Biological weapons provoke far more trouble than they are worth. In the modern theater of geopolitics, their very attributes create horrendous liabilities. Consider this fact: biological weapons are so cheap and powerful that they have been dubbed “the poor man’s atomic bomb.” By condoning and furthering the development of biological weapons, the United States created an arms race that would only hurt it in the long run.

The United States is a rich and powerful country, one of the richest and most powerful in the world. One way it maintains military superiority is by spending money on the development and stockpiling of weapons. Very few countries are wealthy enough to keep up. It is in the best interest of the United States and the other superpowers to keep war expensive. The more expensive it is, the fewer countries that can pose threats. It was, therefore, not in the best interest of the United States to develop a cheap and powerful weapon like biological weapons. That was the fundamental logic behind Nixon’s decision.

Other factors contributed to the American renunciation of biological weapons. There is no credible defense against TULAREMIAan all-out biological attack. No devices will even give reliable advance warning. Even if such devices existed, what steps could be taken? People can be vaccinated against some diseases, but these work only if taken weeks before the attack. Even then, experts doubt their protective value against the onslaught of aerosol germs in a biological weapon, or that an attacker would choose a weapon for which the country had prepared an effective vaccine. Gas masks would help, but few civilians have their own. Lacking genetic resistance to a particular disease, crops and livestock are defenseless.

In 1969, the U.S. military was reluctant but willing to give up biological weapons. Troop commanders had never heartily approved of them, in part because they had a disreputable air that never quite fit the military’s self-image of what an honorable warrior should be asked to do. For battlefield operations, the advocates of biological weapons never proved them superior to conventional or even chemical weapons.

A host of practical problems bedeviled biological weapons. They did not behave in a straightforward way. In the field, commanders found them too complicated, too demanding, too quirky. They spread like killing winds. For each disease, the symptoms, incubation, duration, and treatment varied. Coupled with the way the vagaries of the wind, temperature, and terrain influenced the weapon’s stealthy drift, the commander had a lot of variables to juggle and few guarantees. Although the army subjected biological weapons to hundreds of tests, it never had enough data—for the obvious ethical reasons—on what real weapons do to real people. What good is a weapon that you can’t test? In the end, the military decided it wasn’t good enough to keep.

In 1969, three years before the two superpowers signed the Biological Weapons Convention, the United States gave up BW, as biological weapons are usually abbreviated, altogether. Nixon renounced not only biological weapons but also toxin weapons, which occupy a gray area, somewhere between biological and chemical weapons. Although the two had been developed in tandem at Fort Detrick, the U.S. center for biological warfare research in Frederick, Maryland, toxins behave more like chemical weapons on the battlefield. The only difference between a toxin and a chemical weapon is that one is synthesized by nature and the other concocted by man. Both are inert molecules, acting in minutes to hours, and toxic in micrograms or milligrams, not picograms like biological (or germ) weapons. By contrast, germ weapons are living creatures that grow and multiply, taking their toll in days.

Nixon did not renounce chemical weapons, nor did the subsequent international ban include them. Chemical weapons are deployed like biological weapons—in bombs, from spray tanks—but instead of spreading live organisms, they disperse toxic chemicals, such as nerve gas, tear gas, herbicides (like Agent Orange), mustard gas, and other harassing and incapacitating chemicals. The United States, the Soviets, and now a number of other countries continue to stockpile chemical weapons, and the Iraqis are currently using them in their war against Iran. The Reagan administration lobbied hard to build a new generation of nerve gas weapons, but the Congress consistently blocked appropriations for that purpose until September 1986, when Congress finally gave its okay.

While it is illegal to produce and use biological weapons, it is not illegal to produce chemical weapons. (It is illegal to use them.) Chemical weapons remain a legal component of the world’s stockpiles in part because they are not as cheap, potentially powerful, nor as unpredictable as their biological counterparts. They draw on a longer, more successful tradition within the military, and have a more powerful constituency than biological weapons. After all, they had been used in World War I and the Vietnam War, with arguable success. They have also served a useful function as a deterrent: the United States could give up biological weapons with an easy conscience because it could always retaliate with chemical weapons.

But chemical weapons also raise a prickly question from an arms control perspective. How can you distinguish between industrial chemicals and chemicals of war? What if you ban one but not the other? Since World War II, the creation of insecticides and nerve gases have marched hand in hand. Gerhard Schrader, a German scientist working at I. G. Farben, discovered an organophosphorus compound in 1936 that killed insects in seconds. Under a law that decreed that any industrial invention with military potential should be shared with the Wehrmacht, Schrader’s finding led to the development of nerve gases. Today, a plant that produces the pesticides ma-lathion or parathion could be used to produce nerve gas.

Many other chemicals are Jess toxic, but just as lethal and widespread as organophosphate pesticides. When a 1984 The Living Weapon - As America's germ warfare program expanded during the Cold War, scientists began to conduct their own covert tests on human volunteers. The United States continued the development and stockpiling of biological weapons until President Nixon terminated the program in 1969. This American Experience production examines the international race to develop biological weapons in the 1940s and 1950s, revealing the scientific and technical challenges scientists faced and the moral dilemmas posed by their eventual success.accident at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, released methylisocyanate into the air, five thousand people died. In a magazine interview, the Bhopal mayor said, “I can say that I have seen chemical warfare. Everything so quiet. Goats, cats, whole families—father, mother, children—all lying silent and still. And every structure totally intact. I hope never again to see it.”

When the Biological Weapons Convention officially went into effect in 1975, it left the impression that every trace or consideration of biological weapons utterly disappeared from the world’s military establishments. That was not the case. By keeping chemical weapons legal, military establishments maintained an institutional infrastructure familiar with the equipment, training, doctrine, and insidious action of invisible weapons. While the United States burned its germs and toxins, scrapped its weapon hardware, dismantled and converted its mass production facilities, it retained the books, reports, studies, and test data accumulated over the twenty-five-year existence of the biological-warfare program. According to one Pentagon official, it would take the United States (or any other country that dismantled its full-fledged offensive program) two to three years to get back into the biological weapons business IF the president of the United States renounced the treaty.

As allowed by treaty, research continues around the world. The systematic study of nasty germs and toxins has not stopped. In the United States, it takes place on a largely unclassified basis and in the name of defense. Fifteen years after the renunciation, the list of germs and toxins studied at Fort Detrick bears little resemblance to those studied in 1969. These new agents have been identified, grown, studied, analyzed, assessed, evaluated, and, if Dugway builds the BL-4 lab, will be tested. But they have not been developed into weapons, that is, mass produced or loaded into hardware—two steps that would clearly violate the treaty.

Since the Reagan administration took office in 1980, the budgets for both biological and chemical weapons have skyrocketed. Compared with the cost of building an F-16 fighter plane, the budgets dedicated to the subject of biological warfare still look small, but it is important to bear in mind that biological research costs relatively little. In 1987, the total budget for biological warfare defense was $71.2 million. Compare that with what was spent on research and development at Fort Detrick at the height of the Vietnam War in 1969. Then, it was $19.4 million—or if you adjust for inflation, $55.6 million. In other words, the United States is spending more on BW research than it did when it had an offensive program.

What this jump in budgets means is that the military is again talking about biological warfare. “Up until three or four years ago, we weren’t talking on the subject [of biological weapons] at all,” says Major Dick Ziegler, a Pentagon spokesman. According to the Department of Defense, the Dugway lab is essential for preparing a defense against the mounting Soviet threat. The Pentagon and the Reagan administration point to a mysterious outbreak of anthrax in Sverdlovsk and to Yellow Rain in Southeast Asia as evidence of the Soviet’s disregard for and violation of the treaty.

In conservative circles throughout the nation, the two events are already taken as proof that the Biological Weapons Convention has failed. Like the clock in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the treaty is an anachronism, some say, out of step with the times. But others vehemently disagree with that conclusion. They stress that the evidence for treaty violations at Sverdlovsk is open to question and that cited for Yellow Rain has failed to stand up to scrutiny.

Posted in CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ENVIRONMENT, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HEALTH SAFETY, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE UNITED NATIONS, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

US MILITARY CHEM-BIO WARFARE EXPOSURES WEBSITE UNVEILED

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

by Justin Palk – Frederick – News-Post

Posted by Meryl Nass, M.D. at 10:18 AM

From World War II through 1975, thousands of service members and veterans were potentially exposed to chemical or biological weapons as subjects or observers of tests carried out by the Department of Defense.

The department unveiled a new website Monday to provide information about what happened during those tests.

The data on the site is broadly grouped into three sections: chemical agent tests during World War II; chemical and biological agent tests of Project 112 and its naval component, Shipboard Hazard and Defense or Project SHAD; and Cold War-era chemical and biological weapons testing.

The site provides details about specific incidents, such as the release of mustard agent in the Italian port of Bari in 1943 when a U.S. ship carrying the agent to use in response to theoretical German gas attacks was destroyed during a German air raid on the port.

Overview sections give broad outlines of what types of testing were performed at what points in history.

The biological warfare research at Fort Detrick and the Operation Whitecoat disease immunity experiments are listed under the Cold War section of the site, as are Dugway Proving Ground and Edgewood Arsenal, both sites where chemical weapons research was done.

The site does not list the names of service members who might have been exposed to chemical or biological agents. It does, however, include contact information veterans can use to seek help in verifying any potential exposure they may have had, or to provide information they may have about tests the Defense Department conducted.

For information, visit fhp.osd.mil/CBexposures/index.jsp

CLICK HERE FOR THE ARTICLE AS POSTED IN FREDERICK’S WEB SITE

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘Anthrax Vaccine – posts by Meryl Nass, M.D.’

Posted in CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

JAZEERA AIRWAYS WITNESSES RAPID EXPANSION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 29, 2008

Published: November 27, 2008, 23:27

PUBLISHED BY ‘GULF NEWS’ (Dubai)

by Nadia Saleem, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Jazeera JAZEERA AIRWAYSAirways, a Kuwait-based airline launched in 2004, is witnessing rapid expansion despite the rest of the world suffering a liquidity crunch and the aviation business running into turbulence worldwide.

The only Gulf airline that uses two Gulf airports as hubs – Dubai and Kuwait City – has more than doubled its capital in the past three years to $77 million.

In 2005, the airline carried 39,000 passengers and is now at 1.2 million, with ambitious aims to boost that figure to 8.5 million in four years. The company’s profits at the end of 2007 were $8.4 million.

The airline is set to become one of the largest operators of A320 aircraft in the coming years as it plans to add 36 planes by 2012 and to fly to 59 new destination in and around the Middle East.

The airline has carried 665,000 passengers to Dubai, who have spent $180 million (Dh662 million) on hotels and transport.

Earlier this week in Dubai, the airline added its seventh aircraft to its fleet. Jazeera’s new acquisition marks the first time a non-UAE carrier has taken delivery of an aircraft in Dubai.

Jazeera’s chairman and chief executive officer Marwan Boodai recently spoke to Gulf News in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:

Gulf News: What has been the impact of the credit crisis on your expansion plans?

Marwan Boodai: We in the Middle East are completely immune to the international credit crisis but in general, the GCC [Gulf Co-operation Council] in particular, our governments and our economies are based on solid ground. We are oil-driven economies, so that will help us to weather these big storms.

As far as Jazeera Airways is concerned, our business model is based is connecting the dots within the Middle East. So in a way, we are not affected by international traffic. So far, and with our forecast, there is no slowdown within the Middle East. People are going back and forth within the region for business, or leisure or going back home. So that is the domain we are focusing on.

What is the significance of the airline being a low cost carrier at this time?

We chose a model to provide value for money. So passengers will be travelling more frequently. That is how we discriminate the market.

By consolidating our fleet and stabilising it with only one model, the A320, we have reduced out costs by a large amount, which we pass on to our passengers. In the current economic situation, more and more people are cautious of what they spend. Yet they need to travel because it is not more a luxury, it is a necessity.

What they are looking at is should they travel on luxury carriers or airlines with affordable prices, like ours.

With the dropping oil prices, what ripple effects is your airline witnessing in terms of costs and number of passengers?

The sharp drop helps the airline industry in general and our model in particular because fuel cost is almost one third of what we used to pay a month ago. That helps to boost our balancesheet. We managed to run the business profitably when the oil was at Dh140. With the prices now dropping, we will be able to add a lot more passengers.

Have the prices impacted your expansion plans?

Not really. Because our main focus in acquisition is just growing integrally year-by-year. This growth has always been there. Any airline that stands for acquisition of aircraft has to be affected by the market’s ability to extend financing. Jazeera has been running on a solid financial footing.

Not only have we managed to create a sister company called Sahaab Leasing to support this growth, but international banks have once again, at this very critical junction, reaffirmed their vote of confidence and extended even more financing to us. And we haven’t even tapped the market in the Middle East for financing.

Will you need to do so in future?

We are now looking at competitive financing. Cash is available worldwide and particularly in the GCC countries. We are looking for more innovative and cost-effective ways of financing. The GCC is going to be our focus for that.

In line with that direction, do you plans to be listed on the financial markets in the UAE?

Our original plan was to be listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange because we are a Kuwaiti-based company. The plan was to be listed in Dubai’s market in the fourth quarter of this year. Now with the international turmoil, we don’t think it is the right time to jump into a second listing. We are going to watching the market very closely and carefully. But there is no doubt in our minds that one day we will be listed on Dubai stock exchange.

What is the time frame for that? Is it totally dependant on how the market performs?

Exactly. It’s really not in our control. However, we believe that this market is going to have a boost. Dubai’s economy is solid. If you look at the airline stocks worldwide, even in the states, in the last couple of weeks, the best performers were airline stocks. We don’t have many airline stocks in the Middle East; there is only a handful. Dubai stock exchange is very appealing, because being listed here will give us international exposure.

How is flyDubai, the emirate’s first low-cost carrier, going to affect you?

I don’t want to just say that the market is big. But flyDubai is targeting a different segment. With 737s, high density, etc, it is a totally different market from what we are serving. They are more focussed on the Indian subcontinent and labour traffic. We are more focused on the middle-class group, on families and business travel. We feel that business travellers will be increasingly choosing Jazeera, rather than the high-end of the market.

Is there any change that you are witnessing from the government of Dubai on this?

Not really. Dubai is so open. If you look at other airports, other markets in the world.

Here for instance, one city cannot survive with one airline. There has to be competition, more airlines that add value to the economy. Dubai government realises that very well. And that is why we are here today.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘GULF NEWS’ (Dubai)

Posted in AIR TRANSPORT INDUSTRY, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, TRANSPORT INDUSTRIES | Leave a Comment »

DOHA TALKS MAKE HEADWAY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 29, 2008

Nov 28, 2008 1:19 PM

PUBLISHED BY ‘TVNZ’ (New Zealand)

Talks to unstick the Doha Flag Raising Ceremony The United Nations flag is raised outside the Doha Sheraton Convention Centre, as representatives of the Government of Qatar turn over the facilities to United Nations authorities in preparation for the opening of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus. Representing the Government of Qatar - Mohamed Abdullah Al-Rumaihi Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs -  Representing the United Nations - Shaaban M. Shaaban Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management - Sha Zukang Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairsworld trade round have made some headway, ambassadors to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said on Thursday.

New Zealand ambassador Crawford Falconer, who chairs the WTO negotiations on agricultural products, said that countries have begun to budge from their positions in the wake of a high-level political push for an agreement.

“I have seen some material change, but not all the things I would like to have seen have happened,” he told reporters after an evening meeting at the WTO’s Geneva headquarters.

US President George Bush and other leaders have been pushing for a breakthrough in the seven-year-old WTO talks as a means to bolster the troubled global economy.

A new WTO agreement would cut subsidies and tariffs on a wide range of traded goods and cross-border services, prying open food, fuel, transportation and other markets and therefore encouraging global economic activity.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy has been looking for signs of movement in technical talks between diplomats before inviting trade ministers to Geneva to hammer out a deal in agricultural and manufactured goods – the two main areas of the Doha accord.

Talks earlier on Thursday skated over sensitive issues such as the levels of US subsidies on cotton, and a controversial facility to let poor countries shield subsistence farmers during crises, envoys said.

“We had more positive discussions than we had before,” Brazil’s WTO ambassador Roberto Azevedo said of those talks.

A dispute about the “special safeguard mechanism” for farmers caused a meeting of ministers in July to fail, with India squaring off against the United States and other countries who said the facility could actually close off existing markets instead of opening up new ones.

Azevedo told journalists that in Thursday’s talks on that mechanism “there wasn’t exactly convergence or agreement, but there was no clear-cut rejection.”

“You learn in these negotiations to read between the lines,” he said. “There was certainly more engagement, more interaction than there was before.”

Diplomats that a ministerial meeting next month could start around December 13, though no dates are expected to be set until Sunday or later.

Estimates of the benefits of the WTO accord vary widely. A recent study from the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute said more than $US1 trillion of trade was at stake.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘TVNZ’ (New Zealand)

Posted in AGRICULTURE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, G20, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, NEW ZEALAND, QATAR, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION | Leave a Comment »

UNCERTAINTIES BEDEVIL PLANS TO KEEP WORLD TRADE FLOWING

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 29, 2008

28/11/2008 1:00:00 AM

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE CANBERRA TIMES’ (Australia)

Trading nations around the world are saying the right things about preventing a surge of protectionism that would choke Pakistani investors monitor the index at Karachi Stock Exchangeglobal trade when it needs to be boosted to help pull economies out of their slump. But amid fears of a deepening recession stretching beyond 2009, will governments act in conformity with their promises?

Leaders of the 21 economies in APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, hit the right notes when they issued a statement during their summit in Lima, Peru, last weekend. To counter calls to shield countries and industries from competition by restricting imports, the APEC leaders, who oversee half the world’s economic activity, said that in the next 12 months they would not raise new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, impose new export restrictions, or implement measures inconsistent with the World Trade Organisation, including those that stimulate exports.

This was an endorsement of the free trade section of a declaration issued by the summit of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies in Washington on November 15. The G20 accounts for about 90 per cent of global economic activity and 80 per cent of trade. Australia, Canada, China, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the US are members of both APEC and the G20. So the combined words of leaders of these two groups should carry weight.

Yet two days after Russia’s President, Dmitry Medvedev, put his name to the G20 declaration, his Deputy Finance Minister, Dmitry Pankin, announced that Moscow would raise tariffs on imported cars to protect Russian producers.

Russia has also announced a general review of trade agreements that may lead to a further increase in import duties and a cut in quotas for allowable imports. Russia says these measures were planned in advance of the G20 meeting. ”No one said that anyone should scrap existing barriers or go back on existing decisions,” Mr Pankin explained.

China, which is anxious to help exporters hit by falling demand in the US and Europe, took a somewhat different tack. Three days before the G20 summit it raised export tax rebates paid on more than 3700 types of goods almost 28 per cent of the total sold overseas. Yet China has a huge trade surplus and has been criticised by economists who argue that the export sector receives too much favorable treatment from the government, which should instead stimulate domestic demand.

So far there has been no reneging on APEC and G20 free trade pledges. But these are early days. It will take resolute national leadership and continuing international consultation to resist protectionism as economic woes get worse and cries for help by affected industries become louder.

Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy, a free-trade think-tank in Brussels, is concerned that the APEC and G20 pledges still leave scope for countries to impose anti-dumping duties on imports deemed to be below the cost of production, and to provide emergency state aid to politically sensitive industries. Indeed, he says that such measures are supplanting permanent import tariffs as the main method of protectionism and were not covered by either the APEC or G20 statements.

Still, APEC went somewhat further than the G20 in supporting an early resumption of WTO negotiations to liberalise international trade. These negotiations collapsed last July after seven years because of disagreements between the US and India, backed by China, over the extent to which agriculture in developing countries should be shielded from foreign competition.

China’s President Hu Jintao said in Lima that Beijing believed reviving the WTO talks and bringing them to a successful conclusion should be a top priority. APEC leaders directed their trade ministers to meet in Geneva next month to try to advance the WTO negotiations. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said a successful outcome would be a ”huge shot in the arm for the global economy” and to confidence.

If the world trade deal stalls again, there is another option for Pacific Rim nations. They could forge a trans-Pacific free trade agreement. The Bush Administration in the US, Australia and Peru announced recently that they would join Brunei, China, New Zealand and Singapore in talks to try to build the core of a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific. The first round of negotiations will be held in March in Singapore.

However, the Obama factor is looming over all these issues. Barack Obama, the US President-elect who takes office in January, outlined a potentially protectionist agenda during the election campaign. He said he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico and a pending bilateral deal with South Korea, rebalance economic ties with China to reduce the huge US trade deficit, challenge unfair trade in the WTO and elsewhere, and discourage US companies from outsourcing work to countries such as India and the Philippines.

If Obama, backed by a Democratic majority in Congress, takes up these cudgels, the prospects of success in both the WTO and trans-Pacific trade liberalisation negotiations will recede while the likelihood of a slide into wider tit-for-tat protectionism will increase.

The International Chamber of Commerce pointed out recently that parallels are being drawn between the financial and economic crisis of today and the Great Depression of the 1930s. ”Almost 80 years ago, many nations reacted to the Great Depression by raising border tariffs and ended up making matters worse for themselves included. Beggar-my-neighbour protectionism ended up beggaring everyone. That is one of the most unambiguous lessons of the 1930s,” the chamber said.

Obama and the leaders of other major economies and trading nations should bear this in mind as they consider policies for 2009 and beyond.

The writer, a former Asia editor of the International Herald Tribune, is a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of South-East Asian Studies in Singapore.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE CANBERRA TIMES’ (Australia)

Posted in AGRICULTURE, AUSTRALIA, BANKING SYSTEMS, CANADA, CENTRAL BANKS, CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL MARKETS, G20, INDONESIA, INTERNATIONAL, JAPAN, MEXICO, PERU, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RUSSIA, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, USA, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION | Leave a Comment »

THE PLANET IS NOW SO VANDALISED THAT ONLY TOTAL ENERGY RENEWAL CAN SAVE US – It may be too late. But without radical action, we will be the generation that saved the banks and let the biosphere collapse

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 29, 2008

Tuesday November 25 2008 00.01 GMT

by George Monbiot – guardian.co.uk

The Guardian

GEORGE MONBIOT

George Bush is behaving like a furious defaulter whose home is about to be repossessed. Smashing the porcelain, ripping the doors off their hinges, he is determined that there will be nothing worth owning by the time the bastards kick him out. His midnight regulations, opening America’s wilderness to logging and mining, trashing pollution controls, tearing up conservation laws, will do almost as much damage in the last 60 days of his presidency as he achieved in the foregoing 3,000.

His backers – among them the nastiest pollutocrats in America – are calling in their favours. But this last binge of vandalism is also the Bush presidency reduced to its essentials. Destruction is not an accidental product of its ideology. Destruction is the ideology. Neoconservatism is power Alaska North Slope - Photo Date - Spring 1949expressed by showing that you can reduce any part of the world to rubble.

If it is too late to prevent runaway climate change, the Bush team must carry much of the blame. His wilful trashing of the Middle Climate – the interlude of benign temperatures which allowed human civilisation to flourish – makes the mass murder he engineered in Iraq only the second of his crimes against humanity. Bush has waged his war on science with the same obtuse determination with which he has waged his war on terror.

Is it too late? To say so is to make it true. To suggest there is nothing that can be done is to ensure that nothing is done. But even a resolute optimist like me finds hope ever harder to summon. A new summary of the science published since last year’s Intergovernmental Panel report suggests that – almost a century ahead of schedule – the critical climate processes might have begun.

Just a year ago the Intergovernmental Panel warned that the Arctic’s “late-summer sea ice is projected to disappear almost completely towards the end of the 21st century … in some models.” But, as the new report by the Public Interest Research Centre (Pirc) shows, climate scientists are now predicting the end of late-summer sea ice within three to seven years. The trajectory of current melting plummets through the graphs like a meteorite falling to earth.

Forget the sodding polar bears: this is about all of us. As the ice disappears, the region becomes darker, which means that it absorbs more heat. A recent paper published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that the extra warming caused by disappearing sea ice penetrates 1,000 miles inland, covering almost the entire region of continuous permafrost. Arctic permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the entire global atmosphere. It remains safe for as long as the ground stays frozen. But the melting has begun. Methane gushers are now gassing out of some places with such force that they keep the water open in Arctic lakes through the winter.

The effects of melting permafrost are not incorporated in any global climate models. Runaway warming in the Arctic alone could flip the entire planet into a new climatic state. The Middle Climate could collapse faster and sooner than the grimmest forecasts proposed.

Barack Obama’s speech to the US climate summit last week was an astonishing development. It shows that, in this respect at least, there really is a prospect of profound political change in America. But while he described a workable plan for dealing with the problem perceived by the Earth Summit of 1992, the measures he proposes are hopelessly out of date. The science has moved on. The events the Earth Summit and the Kyoto process were supposed to have prevented are already beginning. Thanks to the wrecking tactics of Bush the elder, Clinton (and Gore) and Bush the younger, steady, sensible programmes of the kind that Obama proposes are now irrelevant. As the Pirc report suggests, the years of sabotage and procrastination have left us with only one remaining shot: a crash programme of total energy replacement.

A paper by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research shows that if we are to give ourselves a roughly even chance of preventing more than two degrees of warming, global emissions from energy must peak by 2015 and decline by between 6% and 8% per year from 2020 to 2040, leading to a complete decarbonisation of the global economy soon after 2050. Even this programme would work only if some optimistic assumptions about the response of the biosphere hold true. Delivering a high chance of preventing two degrees of warming would mean cutting global emissions by more than 8% a year.

Is this possible? Is this acceptable? The Tyndall paper points out that annual emission cuts greater than 1% have “been associated only with economic recession or upheaval”. When the Soviet Union collapsed, emissions fell by some 5% a year. But you can answer these questions only by considering the alternatives. The trajectory both Barack Obama and Gordon Brown have proposed – an 80% cut by 2050 – means reducing emissions by an average of 2% a year. This programme, the figures in the Tyndall paper suggest, is likely to commit the world to at least four or five degrees of warming, which means the likely collapse of human civilisation across much of the planet. Is this acceptable?

The costs of a total energy replacement and conservation plan would be astronomical, the speed improbable. But the governments of the rich nations have already deployed a scheme like this for another purpose. A survey by the broadcasting network CNBC suggests that the US federal government has now spent $4.2 trillion in response to the financial crisis, more than the total spending on the second world war when adjusted for inflation. Do we want to be remembered as the generation that saved the banks and let the biosphere collapse?

This approach is challenged by the American thinker Sharon Astyk. In an interesting new essay, she points out that replacing the world’s energy infrastructure involves “an enormous front-load of fossil fuels”, which are required to manufacture wind turbines, electric cars, new grid connections, insulation and all the rest. This could push us past the climate tipping point. Instead, she proposes, we must ask people “to make short term, radical sacrifices”, cutting our energy consumption by 50%, with little technological assistance, in five years.

There are two problems: the first is that all previous attempts show that relying on voluntary abstinence does not work. The second is that a 10% annual cut in energy consumption while the infrastructure remains mostly unchanged means a 10% annual cut in total consumption: a deeper depression than the modern world has ever experienced. No political system – even an absolute monarchy – could survive an economic collapse on this scale.

She is right about the risks of a technological green new deal, but these are risks we have to take. Astyk’s proposals travel far into the realm of wishful thinking. Even the technological new deal I favour inhabits the distant margins of possibility.

Can we do it? Search me. Reviewing the new evidence, I have to admit that we might have left it too late. But there is another question I can answer more easily. Can we afford not to try? No, we can’t.

monbiot.com

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

Posted in ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA | 1 Comment »

PATRICE LUMUMBA – STORIA DELLE RIVOLUZIONI DEL XX SECOLO

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 29, 2008

– Romano Ledda

A cura di Roberto Bonchio

(1624, 1625, 1626, 1627)

Mentre nell’ África occidentale si assisteva ad una pioggia di indipendenze conquistate o concessé (il 1° ottobre dei 1960 fu la volta della Nigeria), esplose nell’estate del 1960 la questione congolese. Il Congo « belga » fu tra gli ultimi paesi ad arrivare alla rivendicazione dell’indipendenza, e ad avere un movimento nazionalista. Il sistema coloniale belga si era sempre vantato di aver saputo chiudere le sue colonie in una « gabbia felice », senza problemi. In realtà dentro quella gabbia c’era il razzismo, la miséria, l’assenza di ogni diritto umano, misti ad un ottuso paternalismo.

Congo: documenti sulla barbarie colonialista. Nel sue celebre pamphlet Il soliloquio de re Leopoldo, Mark Twain denunció in termini durissimi ed estremamente efficaci, ciò che si nascondeva nella “opoera di civilizzazione” belga.

Privato di ogni libertà política e religiosa (Simon Kimbangu era congolese), il popolo congolese aveva trovato la sua prima forma di solidarietà contro i dominatori in associazioni culturali, sindacali o di mutuo soccorso, la cui attività, ovviamente, non poteva andare oltre i limiti dei próprio gruppo etnico-tribale nel primo caso, e oltre l’assistenza reciproca, nel secondo. La prima rivendicazione sostanzialmente política di una emancipazione dai belgi, venne próprio da una associazione costituita per lo « sviluppo della língua kikongo, l’Associazione dei Bakongo (ABAKO). Solo nel 1958 cominciarono a profilarsi movimenti a carattere político, le cui origini però rimasero per lo piú etniche o tribali. Le prime richieste furono timide. Il 26 agosto del 1958 diciannove dirigenti nazionalisti chiesero « un piano a lunga scadenza di sviluppo político ed economico che abbia come fine l’indipendenza». Ma la realtà di tutto il continente dove va accelerare i tempi. L’indipendenza guineana, e la conferenza panafricana di Accra del dicembre 1958, scossero profundamente tutta l’Africa nera, e l’eco varcò anche le rigide barriere che i belgi avevano inalzato intorno ai Congo. Un partito, il primo a carattere nazionale, con dichiarati intenti antitribali — il Movimento nazionale congolese (MNC), fondato da Patrice Lumumba — raccolse immediatamente la parola d’ordine dell’ indipendenza totale, e subito.

Leopoldville, 7 gennaio 1959. I congolesi manifestano per l’indipendenza. I fortissimi interessi colonialisti determinati dalle notevoli risorse minerarie di cui il Congo disponeva (soprattutto nel Katanga) e tra lê quali erano l’oro, l’argento, il rame, l’uranio, fecero si che Ia via per l’indipendenza di questo paese fosse piú lunga e difficile che per altri.

Nel gennaio dei 1959 i belgi iniziarono la repressione. Il 4, nel corso di un comizio di Lumumba, la polizia sparò uccidendo 42 congolesi e ferendone 257. Il 12 gennaio l’ABAKO venne sciolta, e i suoi dirigenti esiliati. Fino ai giugno una serie di incidenti insanguinarono le strade di tutte le più importanti città del Congo, finché il governo di Bruxelles non si decise ad aprire trattative. Ma gli ultras belgi del Congo, e soprattutto l’Union Minière, respinsero ogni possibilità di accordo, su qualsiasi base. Nel settembre e nel’ottobre si ebbero così la stragi di Kitona (40 morti e 180 feriti) e di Stanleyville (30 morti e 100 feriti), mentre sanguinosi incidenti scoppiavano un po’ dappertutto: a Matadi (6 morti e 30 feriti), a Luluaburg ( 7 morti e 22 feriti) e cosi via. Il 31 ottobre Lumumba venne arrestato.

Un morto per lê vie di Elisabethville durante gli scontri per lê manifestazioni indipendentiste dei 1960; paracadutisti befgi pattugliano lê strade delia città; un manifestante ferito, arrestato da un poliziotto.

Tuttavia la situazione si era fatta insostenibile per il Belgio. La pressione internazionale, l’inquietitudine dilagante nella colonia indussero il governo belga a modificare atteggiamento e a tentare una operazione di tipo neocoloniale: concedere una indipendenza fittizia, che non intaccasse nulla del potere belga sulle favolose ricchezze congolesi. Dopo una «tavola rotonda» tenutasi a Bruxelles (20 gennaio-20 febbraio 1960), cui partecipò anche Lumumba, portatovi direttamente dal carcere, venne deciso di indire delle elezioni generali per un Parlalamento nazionale che avrebbe proclamato subito la indipendenza. Il 22 maggio esse ebbero luogo, e diedero una vistosa vittoria al MNC, nonostante la violenta campagna fatta dai belgi a favore di partiti e gruppi politici, ch’essi stessi avevano ispirato e costituito, con loro agenti. A elezioni avvenute fu tentato di tutto per impedire che Lumumba assumesse la carica di capo del nuovo governo congolese. Ma il Parlamento gli diede l’incarico, il 22 giugno, a grande maggioranza.

Patrice Lumumba viene nominato capo del nuovo governo congolese il 20 giugno 1960.

Il 30 giugno fu proclamata l’indipendenza. Re Baldovino, personalmente, si reco a Leopoldville, per pronunciarvi un discorso in parte minaccioso, in parte colmo di paternalismo, che nella sostanza diceva: la vostra indipendenza la dovete a noi e alia nostra opera civilizzatrice, e noi resteremo ancora qui, perche voi avete ancora bisogno di essere guidati.

Patrice Lumumba circondato dai giornalisti

Per i congolesi rispose Lumumba. Il suo fu un discorso nobile, appassionato: « Noi siamo fieri — egli disse — fin nell’intimo della nostra anima, di aver condotto una lotta che è stata di lacrime, di sangue e di fuoco, perche era una lotta nobile e giusta, necessária per mettere fine al’umiliante schiavitú che ci era stata imposta con la forza. Questa è stata la nostra sorte in ottanta anni di regime coloniale e le nostre ferite sono troppo fresche e troppo dolorose perche noi possiamo cancellarle dalla memoria. Come potremo dimenticare che abbiamo conosciuto il lavoro spossante in cambio di salari che non ci permettevano di placare la nostra fame, di vestire e abitare con dignità, di allevare i nostri bambini come esseri che ci erano cari? Noi che abbiamo conosciuto le ironie, gli insulti, le frustate, che dovevamo subire dalla mattina alla será, perche eravamo negri? Chi dimenticherà che al negro si dava del tunon come ad un amico, ma solo perche il lei era riservato ai bianchi? Noi che abbiamo visto le nostre terré saccheggiate, con documenti falsamente legali perche fondati sul diritto dei piú forte?». Al re che gli ayeva parlato di civilizzazione, Lumumba elencò le sofferenze, gli orrori dei razzismo, la violenza della repressione. E aggiunse: « Ora il nostro caro paese è nelle mani dei suoi figli. Noi veglieremo perche queste nostre terre diano i loro beni ai loro figli. II nostro governo nazionale e popolare sara la salvezza dei paese». E infine affermò: «L’indipendenza congolese è un passo decisivo verso la liberazione del continente africano ».

Dall’alto in basso, da sinistra a destra: Moise Ciombe, Puomo politico congolese ai servizio dei colonialisti belgi, che capeggiò la sedizione dei Katanga; l’ultima foto di Patrice Lumumba, poço prima dei suo assassínio (febbraio 1961); patrioti congolesi catturati dai mercenari; un aspeito dei villaggio di Ituri dopo uno scontro.

Non solo i belgi, ma tutte le potenze imperialiste si irrigidirono. Un Congo veramente indipendente, non disposto a subire una indipendenza fittizia poteva diventare, col suo immenso potenziale di ricchezze, un fatto assolutamente dirompente nel processo di decolonizzazione del’Africa nera. Il film degli avvenimenti si fece a questo punto incalzante e drammatico: il 7 luglio i paras belgi invasero il Congo, l’11 luglio il Katanga proclamo la secessione, il 17 luglio intervenne l’ONU che fiancheggiò e sostenne l’attacco alia giovane repubblica congolese, il 5 settembre Lumumba venne destituito con un colpo di Stato dei presidente della repubblica Kasavubu e dei generale Mobutu. Non basto, però, aver liquidato la punta piú avanzata dei nazionalismo congolese. La popolarità di Lumumba era tale, la sua influenza ancora così grande (il 14 dicembre a Stanleyville si era costituito un governo lumumbista), che occorreva colpire ancora piú duramente. Nel dicembre Lumumba venne trasferito nella fortezza di Thysville. Dopo due mesi di dura prigionia venne portato nel Katanga, e il 14 febbraio assassinato con due compagni di lotta. Pochi giorni prima aveva scritto alla moglie Pauline: «Non siamo soli. L’Africa, l’Asia e i popoli liberi e liberati di tutti gli angoli del mondo si troveranno sempre a fianco del milioni di congolesi che non cesseranno la lotta se non il giorno in cui non ci saranno piú colonizzatori né mercenari nel loro paese ». E durante la dura prigionia aveva detto: « Se mi uccideranno sarà un bianco che avrà armato la mano di un negro ». E cosi accadde. Il primo grande martire dei risorgimento africano venne assassinato da africani (Ciombe e Munongo), su ordine di una coalizione imperialista che trovo complici tutte le principali potenze coloniali.

Posted in BELGIUM, CONGO, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE UNITED NATIONS, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

SER ÍNDIO É SER BRASIL …

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 29, 2008

27/11/2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘ÍNDIOS ON LINE’ (Brasil)

puhuy pataxó hãhãhãe - 27/11/2008)

Ser índio é ser igual
E ser diferente.
Ser índio é ter coragem de lutar
e com a luta unir seu povo.

Ser índio é ter orgulho de sua identidade
e com ela fortalecer sua cultura.
Ser índio é tornar mais forte o seu povo
e reviver a sua inteligência.

Ser índio é não ter aquilo que não gosta
e ter aquilo que lhe pertence.
Ser índio é cuidar da mãe terra
e preservar a natureza.

Ser índio é ser amigo nos dias de sol
e de chuva.
Ser índio é ter consigo a liberdade
e fazer valer a sua capacidade.

Ser índio é viver em comunidade.
Ser índio é gostar da verdade.
Ser índio é lutar pela igualdade.
Ser índio é sorrir e chorar com os que amam
o próximo com ternura e sinceridade.

(Autor: puhuy pataxó hãhãhãe – 27/11/2008)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘ÍNDIOS ON LINE’ (Brasil)

Posted in A QUESTÃO AGRÁRIA, A QUESTÃO ÉTNICA, BRASIL, CIDADANIA, COMBATE À DESIGUALDADE E À EXCLUSÃO - BRASIL, DEFESA DO MEIO AMBIENTE - BRASIL, DIREITOS HUMANOS - BRASIL, LITERATURE, O MOVIMENTO DOS POVOS NATIVOS | Leave a Comment »

RUSSIAN ANALYST PREDICTS DECLINE AND BREAKUP OF U.S.

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

19:31 – 24/ 11/ 2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘RIA NOVOSTI’ (Russia)

MOSCOW, November 24 (RIA Novosti) – A leading Russian political analyst has said the economic turmoil in the United States has confirmed his long-held view that the country is heading for collapse, and will divide into separate parts.

Professor Igor Panarin said in an interview with the respected daily Izvestia published on Monday: “The dollar is not secured by anything. The country’s foreign debt has grown like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt. By 1998, when I first made my prediction, it had exceeded $2 trillion. Now it is more than 11 trillion. This is a pyramid that can only collapse.”

The paper said Panarin’s dire predictions for the U.S. economy, initially made at an international conference in Australia 10 years ago at a time when the economy appeared strong, have been given more credence by this year’s events.

When asked when the U.S. economy would collapse, Panarin said: “It is already collapsing. Due to the financial crisis, three of the largest and oldest five banks on Wall Street have already ceased to exist, and two are barely surviving. Their losses are the biggest in history. Now what we will see is a change in the regulatory system on a global financial scale: America will no longer be the world’s financial regulator.”

When asked who would replace the U.S. in regulating world markets, he said: “Two countries could assume this role: China, with its vast reserves, and Russia, which could play the role of a regulator in Eurasia.”

Asked why he expected the U.S. to break up into separate parts, he said: “A whole range of reasons. Firstly, the financial problems in the U.S. will get worse. Millions of citizens there have lost their savings. Prices and unemployment are on the rise. General Motors and Ford are on the verge of collapse, and this means that whole cities will be left without work. Governors are already insistently demanding money from the federal center. Dissatisfaction is growing, and at the moment it is only being held back by the elections and the hope that Obama can work miracles. But by spring, it will be clear that there are no miracles.”

He also cited the “vulnerable political setup”, “lack of unified national laws”, and “divisions among the elite, which have become clear in these crisis conditions.”

He predicted that the U.S. will break up into six parts – the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.

He even suggested that “we could claim Alaska – it was only granted on lease, after all.”

On the fate of the U.S. dollar, he said: “In 2006 a secret agreement was reached between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. on a common Amero currency as a new monetary unit. This could signal preparations to replace the dollar. The one-hundred dollar bills that have flooded the world could be simply frozen. Under the pretext, let’s say, that terrorists are forging them and they need to be checked.”

When asked how Russia should react to his vision of the future, Panarin said: “Develop the ruble as a regional currency. Create a fully functioning oil exchange, trading in rubles… We must break HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA .... I GUESS THIS FELLA HAS BEEN WATCHING TOO MANY HOLLYWOOD PRODUCTIONSthe strings tying us to the financial Titanic, which in my view will soon sink.”

(*) – Panarin, 60, is a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has authored several books on information warfare.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘RIA NOVOSTI’ (Russia)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ELECTIONS 2008 - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, USA | Leave a Comment »

ECONOMY GROWS BY 7.6% IN Q2 (India)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

Saturday, 29 November 2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE STATESMAN’ (India)

SNS & PTI

NEW DELHI, Nov. 28: Powered by construction and services, the Indian economy notched a reasonable growth rate of 7.6 per cent in the second quarter of the current fiscal.

However, experts said the latest numbers do not mean that the global financial crisis would not impact India in a big way. “We would see moderation in the second half (October-March 2009) as momentum in services sector will peter out especially in transport and hotels,” said Mr DK Joshi, economist with Crisil, a ratings and advisory firm. He now expects the Indian economy to post a growth rate of 6- 6.5 per cent in the second half of current fiscal.

Though quarterly GDP growth was the lowest since the last quarter of 2004, it was better than expected by many analysts, despite poor growth in manufacturing, agriculture and mining.

The Prime Minister’s economic panel member M Govinda Rao said: “It is better than expected, but in the second half there will be definitely a slowdown in manufacturing and services. I expect overall GDP figure to be at seven per cent this fiscal.”
Compared with the year-ago period, the Indian economy seemed to be slowing as the growth was 9.3 per cent in the second quarter of the previous fiscal, but it was expected to moderate as a consequence of the global financial crisis and other domestic factors.

For the first half of this fiscal, the economy expanded at 7.8 per cent, compared with the 9.3 per cent last fiscal. This is much in line with official expectations of 7-8 per cent growth for this fiscal, but quite higher than projected by many others.
Construction grew at 9.7 per cent, which is fairly good, even though it is slower than the 11.8 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year.

All major segments in the services sector recorded high growth, though slower than in the second quarter of the fiscal 2007-08.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE STATESMAN’ (India)

Posted in AGRICULTURE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, INDIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, MINING INDUSTRIES, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, THE WORK MARKET, TRANSPORT INDUSTRIES | Leave a Comment »

ROMANIAN VOTERS MAY TURN TO EX-COMMUNISTS ON ECONOMIC CONCERNS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

November 28, 2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘BLOOMBERG’

by Adam Brown and Irina Savu

Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) – The Romanian Social Democrats, led by former communists, may win the most votes in Nov. 30 parliamentary elections by promising increased social benefits as the global financial crisis threatens job losses and economic stagnation.

Support for the Social Democrats rose to 35 percent in the last opinion poll before the vote from 25 percent in September, overtaking the Liberal Democrats, who had 32 percent. In third place was the governing Liberal Party, with 21 percent.

After years of economic boom, Romanians are seeking to prolong the good times and shelter from the worst of the global crisis as emerging markets are buffeted by tumbling stock prices and falling currencies. The Social Democrats, aspiring to power after four years in opposition, risk exacerbating financial instability by increasing social spending in the second-poorest country in the European Union, economists warn.

“The Social Democrats are benefiting from the instability of the global crisis but that’s what we don’t need right now,” Nicolaie Alexandru-Chidesciuc, a senior economist for ING Bank Romania in Bucharest. “We really need a government that can say ‘we need to cut back spending’ and promote fiscal responsibility. The Social Democrats are the very last party that would do it.”

The INSOMAR poll of 12,494 people between Nov. 21 and Nov. 23 showed voter support for the Liberal Democrats, who back President Traian Basescu, has fallen from 39.4 percent in September while support for the governing Liberals has risen from 19.9 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 1.5 percent.

Hungarian Minority

It also showed the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, favored by the 1.4 million-member ethnic minority in the nation of 22 million, had 5 percent support. The nationalist New Generation Party, led by soccer financier Gigi Becali, scored 3 percent.

Though all parties promise to boost spending and shield the country from the global crisis, none is likely to gain a majority, meaning they must seek alliances to form a government. In 2004 elections, that process lasted until Dec. 28 and ended with the appointment of the Liberal Calin Tariceanu as prime minister, excluding the Social Democrats from government.

Alliances forged in Parliament are likely to shape the policy of the future government more than party platforms, said Alina Mungiu-Pippidi at the Romanian Academic Society in Bucharest.

“Controversy is likely to start on Dec. 1, after the elections,” she said. “They have to start talks to form a coalition government and they will have trouble finding any prime minister that they can agree on.”

Coalition Talks

Social Democrat leader Mircea Geoana, 50, a former foreign minister and ambassador to Washington, told foreign reporters on Nov. 14 that he will negotiate with any party to form a majority coalition and return to power.

“Everything is on the table,” he said. “If we get 40 percent of the vote, though, we will be in a much better position to form an alliance than if we get 25 percent.”

Mihaela Lazar, a 34-year-old clerk in a cable and wire shop that earns her $335 a month, has yet to decide if Geoana should lead the nation. Still, her town of Targoviste, where declining demand forced steelmaker Mechel Targoviste SA to lower production this month, may support the return of the Social Democrats, especially among pensioners.

“The older people trust them because they governed the country for a long time and they think they helped raise pensions,” said Lazar, pacing the unheated shop to stay warm.

Economic Focus

Elections in 2004 were focused on graft in the nation rated by Transparency International as the most corrupt in the EU. In the only televised debate between the three main candidates for prime minister, held on Nov. 26, none mentioned corruption, focusing instead on growth, multiannual budgets and potential finance ministers.

Increased wealth associated with EU membership is tangible as cranes bristle on the skylines of Romania’s major cities. Foreign trips, including many who had never been on an airplane, jumped an annual 21 percent in the first nine months of the year. New cars clog streets and imports more than doubled since the last ballot.

Soaring foreign investment, annual net wage increases of as much as 30 percent and a lending boom have spurred shop openings by retailers such as Carrefour SA, Ikea and Starbucks Corp. and driven real estate prices up as much as 10-fold.

Economists say Romanians may have to give up some of those gains as the international financial crisis translates into higher unemployment, factory closures, a weaker local currency, credit rating downgrades and a sharp slowdown in lending.

Spreading Layoffs

Companies including carmaker Dacia SA, food processor Kraft Romania SA and steel manufacturer Arcelor Mittal Romania have announced cutbacks or layoffs totaling 4,000 in October alone and many of their suppliers have said they will fire workers as well.

Gabriel Pana, a 50-year-old technician who earns $410 a month at the Russian-owned Targoviste steel plant, said he is bucking the trend to the Social Democrats and will cast his vote for the Liberal Democrats because the local politicians are younger and Romanian politics “need fresh views.”

“Geoana’s popularity has improved, but nothing else has changed,” Pana said as he closed the plant’s rusty gate behind him and started his walk home. “The promises are too many and too big, you have to be blind not to notice there’s nothing much they can do.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Brown in Bucharest at abrown23@bloomberg.net;

Last Updated: November 27, 2008 17:00 EST

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘BLOOMBERG’

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INTERNATIONAL, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, ROMANIA, THE WORK MARKET | Leave a Comment »

SPENDING ON AGRICULTURE UP 80 PERCENT: GOVERNMENT (India)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

28 Nov 2008, 1650 hrs IST, IANS

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ECONOMIC TIMES’ (India)

CHANDIGARH: The government has invested around Rs.250 billion this year in agriculture sector, 80 INDIAN LABOURER - Getty Imagespercent higher than the total agricultural spending last year, and is also encouraging enhanced private participation in the sector, a senior official said Friday.

“This year the government’s investment in agriculture is 80 percent higher if we compare it with last year. It’s over Rs.25,000 crore (Rs.250 billion),” Agriculture Secretary T. Nanda Kumar, who is here to attend the Agro Tech-2008 fair, told reporters.

“Various food park schemes have been announced all over the country and we are targeting an overall growth of four percent in each segment related to agriculture here,” Nanda said.

The biennial four-day agro technology and business fair, ‘Agro Tech-2008’, opened here Friday with INDIAN BOY WORKING ON MUSTARD CROP - Getty Imagesthe theme ‘Enhancing Technology and Business in Agriculture’.

“Green revolution was a revolutionary development. Now we need to bring second green revolution, but that is not possible with traditional farming. Here private companies have to play a big role, and our farmers have to adopt new technologies and know-how,” Nanda said.

Nanda admitted that cotton and rice production per hectare in India is almost half of that in China.

“Over the last few years, gradually our yield has decreased due to our failure to adopt the changing trends. Nonetheless, with the present scenario and pace of development, I am sure that we will have INDIA - Mature wheat-headsrecord production,” he added.

The Agro Tech-2008 is spread over an area of 5,960 square metres with 204 stalls, and the authorities here are expecting over 15,000 farmers from states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to visit the event.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ECONOMIC TIMES’ (India)

Posted in AGRICULTURE, BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FARMING SUBSIDIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INDIA, INTERNATIONAL, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

FULL EMPLOYMENT AND INFLATION (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

4:00 p11…4:00 p11

PUBLISHED BY ‘SHAMCHER BEORSE.WordPress’

From the Appendix to Every Willing Hand’, Shamcher’s book advocating full employment for all which is particularly JOBSrelevant today.

A concluding word about inflation. If full employment were, as so often alleged, bound to generate inflation, amending the Employment Act to give it real teeth might have little point. But two recent developments have brought that gloomy thesis into the most serious question — first, the ample demonstration that inflation now tends to occur even without full employment, and second, the not unrelated shift of informed public opinion into favoring an incomes policy of some kind to help maintain price stability. Thus full employment need no longer carry such burdens as do not, properly speaking, belong to it.

More than that, however, it is here submitted that a program of guaranteed full employment along the lines suggested would not only not feed inflation but actually be the best cure for inflation. This is asserted for two reasons in combination. First, the ceilings on employment and on consumer spending that would be imposed under this approach would choke off upward demand spirals almost entirely. That is the built-in “mechanical” aspect. It would limit “demand pull” directly, as already emphasized, and indirectly it would also moderate the wage-demand side of the “cost push” by holding down the prices that make up the worker’s cost of living. Second, there is the psychological point that cannot BUILDERSbe proved but that should appeal to common sense-a point that would arise from the very fact of the government’s readiness to commit itself in this unprecedented way. An agreement on the part of the government to assure a total market adequate for business prosperity, and to assure continuous full employment for labor, should be enough to persuade business and labor leaders to agree to abide by some reasonable set of price and wage guidelines.

Those who blame inflation on the incurable wickedness of Big Business or Big Labor or both often seem unaware of how far the behavior of both has been caused by the malfunctioning of our economy — its cyclical instability combined with secular weakness — the inevitability of which is precisely what needs to be denied. Once the government stood ready to assure continuously adequate total demand for products and for workers, (1) all businesses would have more chance to spread their overhead costs and hold prices down; (2) management in areas of administered pricing could logically give up planning for extra profits in boom times to cushion losses in future slumps; and (3) union leaders would feel less NO JOBSpressure to demand extreme hourly wage rates on the one hand, or annual pay guarantees on the other, to fortify their members against the return of unemployment.

To put this in context — as these words are being written, the country is deep in President Nixon’s economic Phase II. Whether this experiment with a Wage Board and a Price Commission will, be followed soon by selective permanent legal controls or by some other incomes policy is impossible to say. But what the government commitments proposed in this article would in any case contribute, when it comes to resolving the ultimate hard-core part of the “cost push” phenomenon, is to open the door as wide as possible to achieving essential results by voluntary cooperation.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘SHAMCHER BEORSE.WordPress’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, USA | Leave a Comment »

LA CRISIS MONETARIA ESPAÑOLA DE 1937

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

Capítulo II

por José Miguel Santacreu Soler

PLANTEAMIENTO GENERAL DE LA CRISIS MONETARIA REPUBLICANA

I. FACTORES DE LA CRISIS

Los problemas en los que desembocó la crisis monetaria (1) padecida por la España republicana durante la guerra civil no fueron fruto exclusivo de la coyuntura bélica, sino de ciertos factores cuya incidencia fue simultánea y ampliamente extendida. Cabe reconocer que el conflicto bélico quitó la tapadera a algunos de estos factores que ya palpitaban desde hacía algún tiempo; pero de ahí a privilegiar sólo el factor guerra en la crisis va mucho, como demostraremos a continuación.

El sistema monetario español

Las pesetas y sus múltiplos y divisores impresos o acuñados que circulaban presentaban, en 1936 y antes, deficiencias tales como un exacerbado dualismo y una incoherente variedad ideológica que exigía un cambio.

Eran fruto de un sistema monetario que nació allá por el año 1868 (2). Desde el 19 de octubre de ese año —fecha del decreto en que se adoptó definitivamente el sistema decimal para las monedas españolas según las normas de la Unión Monetaria Latina, fijando la PESETA dividida en cien céntimos como unidad monetaria (3) y aceptando el bimetalismo que se frustró con el súbito encarecimiento del oro (4)— se desarrollaron una serie de acuñaciones de piezas en oro con valores de 100, 25, 20 y 10 pesetas respectivamente; en plata de 5, 2, 1, 0,50 y 0,20 pesetas, y en cobre de 10, 5, 2 y 1 céntimos, a las que se añadieron los 25 céntimos de cupro-níquel tras el decreto del 9 de enero de 1925 (5). Su curso legal se mantuvo hasta la guerra civil, 193611939, con pequeñas alteraciones en las monedas de oro y 0,20 pesetas (6). Junto a estas piezas metálicas circulaban los billetes emitidos por el Banco de España, desde que éste lograra el privilegio de único emisor en 1874, con valores de 1.000, 500, 100, 50 y 25 pesetas. Los citados billetes sólo eran una promesa de pago y debían de estar respaldados por una cobertura metálica extraída, en parte, de las acuñaciones mencionadas. A partir de 1898 las cifras de los billetes en circulación se independizaron de la cuantía del capital del Banco de España, aunque siguió conservándose la existencia de una cobertura metálica, si bien con menores exigencias y cantidades proporcionales (7).

Entre 1873 y 1883 se abandonó el patrón oro, al que no se volvió jamás, y se consagró el patrón fiduciario, predominando las monedas de plata y los billetes. No fue esta medida fruto de una política monetaria deliberada sino que más bien no había otro remedio; prueba de ello son los continuos esfuerzos por retornar al patrón oro. El gobierno se preocupaba más de mantener el prestigio de su moneda que de utilizarla, devaluándola, para fomentar las exportaciones (8).

El hecho es que, pese a abandonar el patrón oro, éste siguió acuñándose y circulando entre los españoles (9) hasta su definitiva desaparición de hecho hacia 1914 (10). Desaparición que no causó graves problemas a nivel cotidiano ya que venían realizándose emisiones de billetes con valores de 100, 50 y 25 pesetas que paliaron la carencia de las piezas de oro.

No obstante, en 1917 el oro dejó de fluir a los Estados Unidos y se inició una pequeña corriente hacia España (11), pero no se pudo regresar a él como patrón y moneda corriente, lo que soñara Primo de Rivera (12).

En el plano internacional, la cuestión del oro parece ser que pasó a un segundo término ante las nuevas concepciones monetarias (13). En los EE.UU. de los años 1930 unos cuantos economistas defendían un dólar utilitario, una moneda cuyo valor se fundase en un poder adquisitivo constante y no en su contenido en oro (14).

De otro lado, los gobiernos de los países desarrollados habían abandonado o estaban abandonando la moneda-mercancía en favor de una moneda-signo que se ajustase mejor alas nuevas circunstancias y exigencias económicas. En concreto, Estados Unidos entre 1921 y 1935 (15) y Francia entre 1921 y 1939 (16), por ejemplo, eliminaron o minimizaron la plata en circulación sustituyéndola por otros metales o reduciendo su ley.

A la contra, aunque no sea del todo correcto establecer comparaciones entre países de distintos niveles de desarrollo, resulta significativo matizar que la República Española del siglo XX no sólo continuaba usando la plata como moneda corriente sino que uno de sus gobiernos emitía pesetas con ese metal fechadas en 1933-34 (17).

Así, la oferta de moneda impresa y acuñada para la circulación en julio de 1936 estaba compuesta por los billetes del Banco de España, que en teoría seguían siendo una promesa de pago difícil de cobrar. Su cuantía era como sigue:

VALOR N.i DE PIEZAS
1.000 pesetas …….. 3.646.000
500 pesetas …….. 1.602.000
100 pesetas …….. 32.000.000
50 pesetas …….. 18.640.000
25 pesetas …….. 17.780.000 (18)
   

Y por las monedas metálicas del Ministerio de Hacienda, que teóricamente eran los puntales del sistema. Su cuantía disponible era:

VALOR METAL N.° DE PIEZAS
5 pesetas Plata 210.437.486
2 pesetas Plata 78.159.769
1 peseta Plata 111.544.106
50 céntimos Plata 33.600.196
25 céntimos Cupro-níquel 32.000.099
10 céntimos Cobre 324.708.553
5 céntimos Cobre 444.701.481
2 céntimos Cobre 138.368.865
1 céntimo Cobre 1.090.169.399(19)

Naturalmente, toda esta moneda metálica no estaba en constante circulación. De la cuantía disponible citada hay que descontar la reserva en plata que poseía el Banco de España, las piezas atesoradas por los particulares que no confiaban en los bancos de depósito y, al estallar la guerra, el reparto de dichas piezas entre las dos zonas del conflicto, las fugas al extranjero, las destrucciones, etcétera.

Lo que sí que queda claro es que al empezar la guerra el curso de moneda legal estaba compuesto por una serie de piezas que manifestaban una incoherente variedad ideológica. En el bolsillo de los ciudadanos —julio de 1936— coincidían tanto las acuñaciones de la I República como las de los reyes Amadeo de Saboya, Alfonso XII y Alfonso XIII, junto a las escasas tiradas de la II República (20). La coexistencia de estas acuñaciones chocaba con las líneas ideológicas en el poder y mermaba, tal vez, psicológicamente, parte de la soberanía del Estado republicano, concediendo mayor importancia a la plata de los duros y demás que a sus representaciones figurativas y leyendas.

De otro lado, dicho curso legal denotaba un exacertado dualismo. La moneda en circulación era de dos tipos, los cuales se complementaban y suplían. Por una parte estaba la larga serie de billetes del Banco de España, cuyo valor no bajaba de las 25 pesetas, respaldados por una cobertura metálica en la que basaban su fiabilidad. Jurídicamente sólo eran simples cheques al portador con funciones similares a la moneda metálica del Ministerio de Hacienda. Junto a estos billetes circulaban las piezas metálicas del citado Ministerio; es decir, la moneda real por excelencia. El valor superior que alcanzaban éstas no sobrepasaba las 5 pesetas y basaban su fiabilidad en el peso y ley del metal que contenían, además del carácter legal que les confería el Estado. En ocasiones, ellas desempeñaban una parte del papel de cobertura metálica que precisaban los billetes del Banco de España (21).

Gente anterior a julio de 1936 que criticase el sistema, la labor del Banco de España, el centralismo monopolista de las emisiones, la política monetaria, etcétera y propusiese alternativas, viables o no, la hubo. Son de destacar J. Sarda, J. Tallada o J. A. Vandellós y sus múltiples publicaciones en el Boletín del Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas de Barcelona, la Veu de Cataluña, el Sol, España Sanearía… (22).

Con todo, el gobierno no dejó, según le concedía la Constitución vigente, de tener el privilegio de dominar el sistema monetario y emitir la moneda fiduciaria (23). Además de poseer desde 1931, sirviéndose del Centro Oficial de Contratación de Moneda creado en agosto de 1930, el control absoluto de las operaciones con moneda extranjera —decreto del 29 de mayo— (24). El Estado era prácticamente dueño y señor de la moneda para usarla como quisiese.

En conclusión, quiero recalcar que en julio de 1936 circulaban conjuntamente dentro del territorio español una moneda-signo, los billetes del Banco de España que no podía emitir valores fraccionarios, y una moneda-mercancía, las piezas metálicas del Ministerio de Hacienda que monopolizaban los valores fraccionarios. Ello sería uno de los factores determinantes de la crisis de moneda divisionaria que padeció la España republicana a lo largo de 1937, como veremos más adelante.

La plata de las monedas divisionarias

La plata no era lo suficientemente estable como para servir de moneda fraccionaria en unos tiempos inflacionistas de papel y de anormalidades económicas, políticas y humanas. Por momentos, el metal de la moneda superaba su valor nominal y un duro valía más de cinco pesetas. Estas piezas acuñadas con valores de 5, 2, 1 y 0,50 pesetas, respectivamente, eran un campo abandonado para la especulación y el agiotismo. Ya lo habían demostrado con anterioridad.

En 1898 el atesoramiento de moneda de plata de 5 pesetas, inducido por el pánico ante la pérdida de las colonias y la desafortunada guerra con los EE.UU., junto a las operaciones especulativas aprovechando la caída de los cambios, hizo que dicha moneda escasease en la calle. Por ello, el Consejo del Banco de España —con carácter reservado— tuvo que preparar una emisión de billetes de cinco pesetas para sustituir a esta moneda de plata.

En cierto modo era un antecedente de los certificados de plata republicanos de 5 y 10 pesetas que luego estudiaremos.

Pero como en 1899 cambió la situación, se emitieron monedas de plata y la política restrictiva de Villaverde tuvo sus frutos; no sólo no se pusieron en circulación los billetes sino que en octubre de 1903 se quemaron (25).

En 1914 la elevación del precio de la plata y la necesidad de aumentar la cobertura de este metal inmovilizado en las cajas del Banco de España, movieron a su Consejo a preparar —con carácter reservado— de nuevo una emisión de billetes de cinco pesetas, en previsión de que dejara de circular la plata. Pero como la situación quedó conjurada y el Banco aumentó sus existencias de plata, los temores se desvanecieron a la par que estos billetes (26).

En 1935 la pérdida del poder adquisitivo de la peseta, unido al aumento de precio de la plata, hizo renacer el temor de que las monedas de 5 pesetas desapareciesen de la circulación al ser desmonetizadas buscando beneficiarse con el metal.

Ello volvió a suscitar el tema de los billetes de cinco pesetas. Hubo en esta ocasión unas negociaciones entre el Banco de España y el Ministerio de Hacienda que convinieron que no se trataría de billetes emitidos por el Banco de España sino de «certificados» que suplirían circunstancialmente las monedas acuñadas del Estado. Los gastos de impresión los sufragaría el gobierno y el Banco se encargaría de tramitarla. Los certificados estarían respaldados por un depósito de plata en la Caja del Banco. Sus valores serían de 5 y 10 pesetas respectivamente. En breve se imprimieron 120.000.000 de ejemplares de 5 pesetas y 70.000.000 de 10 pesetas No obstante dichos certificados aún tardarían en ponerse en circulación ya que no lo hicieron hasta octubre de 1936, iniciada la guerra civil (27).

Era evidente que la plata llevaba el mismo camino que el oro. Este desapareció de la circulación hacia 1914 y había dejado de ser patrón monetario en 1883. Diversos países desarrollados, tales como EE.UU. o Francia, entre los años veinte y treinta del siglo XX estaban abandonando o minimizando la plata para acuñar sus monedas y buscaban buenos sustitutos fiduciarios. A la contra, el gobierno republicano no quería o no podía hacerlo, tal vez porque aún confiaba en otros remedios.

El proyecto de emisión de los certificados de plata era un provisional —o solapado— intento: ¡certificados de plata, no sustitutos de ella! Fue a mitad de marzo de 1937, ya tarde y con una incipiente crisis monetaria, cuando el gobierno de aquel momento reconoció las nuevas necesidades:

«… el Gobierno… ha resuelto que las mayores necesidades de moneda divisionaria que el mercado acusa sean atendidas, como han hecho otros países para piezas de semejante valor, por medio de la acuñación de una moneda que, poseyendo para el público todas las garantías y prerrogativas de cualquier otra moneda de curso legal, cumpla las condiciones técnicas requeridas. El metal que, según informe competente, sirve mejor para el caso es un bronce de aluminio de las características que se establecen… y que son análogas a las del metal empleado en Francia con el mismo fin.» (28)

Lógicamente esto que acabo de plantear es adelantar acontecimientos posteriores. Nosotros estamos analizando en estos momentos la situación concreta de julio de 1936, nada más. En esa fecha las monedas metálicas del sistema monetario español presentaban importantes deficiencias que denotaban una situación absurda en una etapa de inflación. La plata no podía mantenerse como moneda.

Antoni Turró, cuando habla de la guerra civil, dice que era una temeridad y un lujo impropio de un país en guerra mantener el patrón de plata en su moneda, máximo si se tiene en cuenta la necesidad que tenía el gobierno republicano de unas buenas reservas a fin de mantener su crédito siempre dudoso en un conflicto bélico (29).

«La inflación hace que las personas previsoras o temerosas se pregunten si conviene guardar el dinero o los signos que lo representan, o es mejor cambiarlos por artículos o bienes tangibles antes de que los precios sigan subiendo.» (30)

Durante la guerra civil la elección era sencilla para los españoles. Las monedas de plata convenía guardarlas como reserva de valor. Se trataba de unas monedas-objeto-mercancía que por su materia y peso podían sobrevivir al proceso inflacionista de papel y mantener un poder adquisitivo real. Los billetes convenía emplearlos como medio de pago para adquirir con ellos mercancías o monedas de plata. Se trataba de unas monedas-signo altamente fiduciarias que habían perdido su convertibilidad en plata y su estabilidad como poder de compra, a la par que era muy difícil que sobreviviesen al proceso inflacionista.

Si la gente se inclinaba por la elección que acabo de describir —de hecho lo hizo— se produciría un fenómeno lógico: La plata desaparecería de la circulación, y con ella los valores fraccionarios de las monedas. El papel se intensificaría como medio de pago y circulación, pero como su valor más bajo no descendería de las 25 pesetas se interrumpirían o dificultarían las compras y ventas de productos cuyo valor no se ajustase al nominal que representaba el juego de los diversos billetes. El sistema monetario tropezaría con una grave crisis.

Junto a esto, y en circunstancias en las que la moneda legal estaba perdiendo su fiabilidad, la plata se convertiría —de hecho lo hizo— en una excelente divisa, por lo que aún eran más los motivos que la impulsaban a abandonar su ejercicio como moneda corriente.

En junio de 1937, unos consejeros denunciaban ante el Consejo Municipal de Alicante que se realizaban compras de artículos en el extranjero pagados con monedas de plata (31). Mas aún, el gobierno recurrió a ella para financiar parte de sus compras de armamentos, etcétera. En 1938 vendió a los EE.UU. 1.225.000 kilos de plata equivalentes a 245 millones de pesetas —16.000 dólares—, además de otras ventas a Francia (32).

Todavía hay más. Si el lector ha recapacitado un poco se habrá percatado de que cuando las autoridades pertinentes o el Banco de España se preparaban para enfrentarse a la posible desaparición de la plata amonedada, más adelante reincidiremos en ello, sólo pensaron en las monedas de duro, las cinco pesetas. ¿Qué sucede?, ¿las piezas de 2, 1 y 0,50 pesetas no eran también de plata? Ahí está otra de las claves de la crisis de moneda fraccionaria durante el año 1937 en la España republicana.

Al iniciarse la guerra uno de los primeros síntomas de la misma, de la especulación y el agiotismo fue la progresiva desaparición de las monedas de plata. Primero los duros, después las 2, 1 y 0,50 pesetas nos dice R. Abellá (33).

El oro y los billetes del Banco de España

El oro y los billetes del Banco de España fueron un excelente medio de financiación de guerra, tanto a nivel interno —los billetes— como externo —el oro.

Tuñón y García-Nieto (34) opinan que la financiación interna de los gastos de guerra republicanos está expresada en los avances hechos al Tesoro por el Banco de España desde el comienzo de las hostilidades. Si hasta abril de 1938 aparece una suma de nuevos billetes, expresión de ese avance, de 3.812,76 millones de pesetas; la liquidación posterior final dio un saldo, según Sarda, de 12.754 millones de pesetas.

La financiación exterior, atendiendo a los mismos autores, estuvo determinada fundamentalmente por la utilización de las reservas de oro en aleación depositado cu la URSS —510 toneladas, unos 500 millones de dólares de la época—. Este oro sirvió para pagar los suministros soviéticos y para, transformado en divisas, colocarlo cu el Banco de París, desde donde el gobierno de la República hizo compras de armamentos en diversos países.

Estos autores siguen diciendo además que entre julio de 1936 y enero de 1937 fueron enviados a Francia 510 millones de pesetas oro, el 26,5% del oro amonedado y en barras existente en reserva en el Banco de España (35).

Si el oro y los billetes fueron en la práctica un excelente medio de financiación, supusieron un duro golpe para la moneda acuñada e impresa del sistema monetario español.

El decreto del Ministerio de Hacienda del 3 de octubre de 1936 (36) regulaba y exigía a los españoles que entregasen todo el oro amonedado o en pasta que poseyesen. Otro decreto del 10 de octubre amplió el plazo concedido para la entrega (37). A partir de estos momentos las Gacetas están llenas de decretos y órdenes que encauzan la recogida de dicho metal (38).

La recogida de oro era una manera de sugerir a los ciudadanos que, comparado con el papel o los depósitos bancarios, tenía una significación mucho mayor. A partir de entonces el oro parecería siempre mejor, algo que convenía guardar prudentemente (39). Y junto a él, por mimetismo, la plata.

“El 25 de octubre de 1936 se embarcó en Cartagena, con rumbo a Odesa, siete mil ochocientas cajas llenas de oro, amonedado o en barras, oro que constituía parte de las reservas del Banco de España”.

La financiación exterior, atendiendo a los mismos autores, estuvo determinada fundamentalmente por la utilización de las reservas de oro en aleación depositado en la URSS —510 toneladas, unos 500 millones de dólares de la época—. Este oro sirvió para pagar los suministros soviéticos y para, transformado en divisas, colocarlo en el Banco de París, desde donde el gobierno de la República hizo compras de armamentos en diversos países.

Estos autores siguen diciendo además que entre julio de 1936 y enero de 1937 fueron enviados a Francia 510 millones de pesetas oro, el 26,5% del oro amonedado y en barras existente en reserva en el Banco de España (35).

Si el oro y los billetes fueron en la práctica un excelente medio de financiación, supusieron un duro golpe para la moneda acuñada e impresa del sistema monetario español.

El decreto del Ministerio de Hacienda del 3 de octubre de 1936 (36) regulaba y exigía a los españoles que entregasen todo el oro amonedado o en pasta que poseyesen. Otro decreto del 10 de octubre amplió el plazo concedido para la entrega (37). A partir de estos momentos las Gacetas están llenas de decretos y órdenes que encauzan la recogida de dicho metal (38).

La recogida de oro era una manera de sugerir a los ciudadanos que, comparado con el papel o los depósitos bancarios, tenía una significación mucho mayor. A partir de entonces el oro parecería siempre mejor, algo que convenía guardar prudentemente (39). Y junto a él, por mimetismo, la plata.

“El 25 de octubre de 1936 se embarcó en Cartagena, con rumbo a Odesa, siete mil ochocientas cajas llenas de oro, amonedado o en barras, oro que constituía parte de las reservas del Banco de España”.

“La consecuencia económica más grave de la entrega a la U.R.S.S. —opina Ricardo de la Cierva— del oro español es que la República hipotecó por adelantado sus posibilidades de dependencia exterior.” (40)

Pero lo peor del hecho es que la credibilidad financiera del gobierno quedaba en entredicho y el público en general podía desconfiar, pese a que en enero de 1937 el gobierno desmintiese que se había depositado dicho oro en el extranjero, aunque tuvo que reconocer que efectuó pagos con él (41).

Sea como fuere, la salida del oro influyó, y mucho, en la crisis monetaria; pero no tanto como lo haría la excesiva inflación de billetes —ello no va en contra de que algunos políticos opinen que el billete sin valor respaldado es un excelente medio para financiar revoluciones, como decía B. Franklin.

Para Tuñón y García-Nieto (42) el Banco de España, sin modificar su estatuto legal, en la práctica, se convirtió en un organismo dirigido y controlado por el Ministerio de Hacienda. Esto fue lo que permitió al gobierno movilizar los depósitos de oro como instrumento principal de financiación de la guerra y hacer frente a la inflación, en la que uno de los factores que influyó fue la depreciación de la peseta, provocada también por la bolsa extranjera.

¿Hacer frente a la inflación? No debió de ser un buen medio. De una parte se gastaban el oro que ya no podría avalar a unos billetes en constante devaluación, de otra entregaban a los españoles cantidades crecientes de billetes sin ninguna cobertura metálica, que incrementaban el papel circulante, para financiar la guerra en el interior. Todo ello creaba inflación de papel.

Para comprobarlo basta ver los cuadros que reproduce Ángel Viñas en la obra de urbión sobre la guerra civil. En el cuadro 23 sobre la oferta monetaria y la población (43) se puede seguir el incremento, ininterrumpido y de fuerte ritmo, de la cantidad de billetes en circulación, junto al descenso de la población sobre la que podían ejercer como medios de pago legales. Y el cuadro 26 que se ocupa de los precios medios mensuales de las dos pesetas españolas en el mercado de París (44) permite comparar la depreciación constante de la peseta republicana con el paralelo aumento de la inflación del papel —visto en el cuadro 23 citado.

Llegó a tal punto dicha inflación que en la zona republicana no era dinero contante y sonante lo que faltaba, aunque lo de sonante se utiliza en sentido figurado, pues las monedas metálicas desaparecieron y fueron sustituidas por redondeles de cartulina o papeles. Lo que escaseaba era qué comprar con las pesetas. En la mayoría de las ciudades, a medida que avanzaba la guerra, los escaparates quedaban vacíos. Casi nadie deseaba vender a cambio de unos billetes depreciados, con los cuales poco podía comprarse —la serpiente se mordía la cola—, y más cuando se sabía que, de ganar Franco, aquellos billetes perderían su valor. Todos eran de series nuevas puestos en circulación después de julio de 1936 (45).

Y si nadie quería esos billetes, fruto de la política financiera del gobierno, los tenedores de plata no iban a dar sus monedas a cambio.

La política financiero-monetaria del gobierno aún intensificó más la crisis del sistema monetario. No sólo perdía credibilidad y buena parte de la cobertura de los billetes con la fuga del oro, también supermultiplicaba la innación de un papel nada fiable. Papel —los billetes— que no podía ser utilizado para pequeñas transacciones porque su fracción menor, antes de 1938 y después de que se pusiesen en circulación los certificados de plata proyectados en 1935, no descendía de las 5 pesetas. De forma que dichos billetes no sólo eran una moneda devaluada sino que daban la razón a los acaparadores de plata acuñada fraccionaria y contribuirían a que éstos incrementasen las tesorizaciones. Y para colmo de colmos, repito, aquellos papeles no servían como moneda fraccionaria. La crisis de medios de pago divisionarios en 1937 era inevitable.

El Ministerio de Hacienda

Excusándose en la intención de eliminar del mercado la moneda de la monarquía, sustituyéndola por otra de nuevo cuño fiel al ideal republicano y con una estructura que se adaptase mejor a las nuevas necesidades del intercambio económico, y alegando que técnicamente la Casa de la Moneda no estaba preparada para acuñar con rapidez la cantidad requerida para la vida cotidiana, el Ministerio de Hacienda, el 13 de octubre de 1936, decretó lo siguiente:

«Artículo 1°. A partir del día 17 de Octubre, el Banco de España entregará provisionalmente certificados plata de cinco y diez pesetas en sustitución de la actual moneda de plata, teniendo tales certificados el mismo poder liberatorio de la actual moneda de cinco pesetas.

Artículo 2°. El Banco guardará en sus Cajas la cantidad de plata amonedada equivalente a los certificados que ponga en circulación, sin perjuicio de conservar también la plata amonedada equivalente a los certificados que ponga en circulación, sin perjuicio de conservar también la plata necesaria para el cumplimiento de lo preceptuado por la base segunda del artículo 1° de la vigente ley de Ordenación bancaria.

Artículo 3°. El Ministerio de Hacienda procederá con la mayor rapidez al estudio y ejecución de la nueva ley monetaria para acuñar la nueva moneda republicana de plata de cinco y diez pesetas que ha de sustituir en su día a los certificados plata puestos ahora provisionalmente en circulación. Oportunamente se publicará la fecha a partir de la cual la actual moneda de plata dejará de ser moneda legal.» (46)

De otro lado, en el territorio rebelde se procedió al estampillado de los billetes del Banco de España que habían quedado en su zona al estallar el conflicto armado con el fin de darles un curso legal dentro de su jurisdicción. Ello fue buena excusa para que el Ministerio de Hacienda republicano los anulase rápidamente. El 29 de noviembre de 1936 decretaba:

«Artículo primero. Queda prohibida la tenencia y circulación de los billetes del Banco de España alterados por estampillas facciosas y no estarán, por lo tanto, garantizados por las reservas oro del Banco de España…

Artículo Tercero. El Banco de España no admitirá en sus cajas los billetes estampillados.» (47)

En el ecuador de 1936-1937 se daba el hecho de que en determinadas sucursales del Banco de España se disponía de los saldos de las cuentas de crédito por medio de vales o pagarés, que se libraban por cantidad fija en papel impreso estampado con el reconocimiento de la sucursal de la existencia de saldo, con lo que se creaba una circulación semejante a los billetes del Banco de España. Como ello iba en contra de las normas de la ley de Ordenación Bancada, el Ministerio dispuso la siguiente orden:

«Que el Banco de España, en sus distintas Sucursales o Agencias, se abstenga en absoluto de autorizar con su firma vales, pagarés o talones de esta especie, destinados a circular como billetes; limitándose a abonar directamente o por compensación los cheques que se le presenten contra cuentas de créditos abiertas y siempre que lo hubieran sido de conformidad con las prescripciones de los Estatutos y Reglamentos de ese Banco de España. Valencia, 14 de Enero de 1937.» (48)

sirviéndose del Comisario general de Banca y del Gobernador del Banco de España que firmaron dicha orden.

El 16 de enero de 1937, a fin de lograr cumplida ejecución del decreto del 13 de octubre de 1936 que dispuso la circulación de los certificados plata, el Ministerio de Hacienda ordenó que los bancos, cajas de ahorro y toda clase de centros y establecimientos públicos, cumplieran con la máxima diligencia lo prevenido en la regla tercera de la orden ministerial del 15 de octubre de 1936 relativa al cambio de las existencias de plata en monedas de cinco pesetas por certificados plata y que, periódicamente, a cada quincena entregasen en el Banco de España, para su canje, las existencias de plata gruesa que pudieran haber recogido. Se exigía además que todos los centros oficiales y entidades bancarias efectuasen preferentemente sus pagos con certificados de plata (49).

El 22 de febrero del mismo año el Ministerio aún amplió más el campo de acción de los susodichos certificados decretando:

«El Banco de España queda autorizado para entregar certificados de plata a cambio o en lugar de la moneda divisionaria de plata. Cuando así se haga una cantidad de plata divisionaria de igual valor nominal que los certificados será retirada de la circulación.» (50)

Está suficientemente claro como para excedernos en comentarios. El Ministerio utilizaba la moneda. De un lado eliminaba los billetes llamados facciosos y se apuntaba una excusa para poner en circulación nuevos billetes, algunos de los que ayudaron a financiar la guerra en el interior (51) creando, a su vez, una galopante inflación de papel. De otro luchaba por impedir que los particulares sustituyesen la moneda estatal con vales o pagarés; pero lo único que logró fue perder el control de esos vales y pagarés que se buscaron otros bancos, que no fuesen el de España o sus sucursales, o constituyeron depósitos propios para avalarse. Así se vieron favorecidas las emisiones de bonos de entidades de naturaleza no crediticia y dificultadas las de esa naturaleza (52).

Sin embargo, lo más significativo con relación a la crisis de moneda divisionaria durante 1937 fueron los certificados de plata —unos insignificante papeles—. Con ellos el Ministerio compró plata gruesa para tenerla dispuesta en sus arcas, recuérdese que también se sirvió de dicho metal para financiar la guerra en el exterior. Así empezó a cambiarse tímidamente la moneda de un sistema basado en la plata y las coberturas metálicas por otra eminentemente fiduciaria, aunque en un principio se pensase en volver a hacer las emisiones con el referido metal, proyecto que las circunstancias o una política consciente —no lo sabemos— impidieron.

Dichos certificados difícilmente podían sustituir a las piezas de plata de la monarquía anterior puesto que sus valores eran sólo de 10 y 5 pesetas respectivamente. Para lograrlo hubieran tenido que reconocer que el sistema databa de 1868, que el sistema también contenía pequeñas monedas de plata y no sólo las de plata gruesa y que la plata pequeña republicana acuñada en circulación poseía una materialidad idéntica a la de los duros que también requería el cambio; cambio que no fue previsto por el decreto del 13 de octubre de 1936 o que, si lo fue, no lo explicitaron en el texto que publicó la Gaceta correspondiente.

¿Acaso las monedas de plata de dos, una y media pesetas de la monarquía no merecían la atención del Ministerio de Hacienda por su reducido peso? ¿O es que la emisión de certificados de plata sólo pretendía ser un mínimo intento de arrebatar a la moneda metálica parte de sus atribuciones en favor del papel?

Lo único que se puede afirmar con alguna certeza —porque lo he visto en mis abuelos y la gente coetánea— es que el duro de plata tenía más valor e importancia que cinco monedas de peseta o diez de cincueta céntimos del mismo metal. Es evidente que los hombres del gobierno cayeron en esta concepción. A los mismos sólo les preocupaba la plata gruesa —el duro— (53), las demás piezas del sistema carecían de importancia. ¿Quién tenía en la mente la idea de que a alguien le pudiese interesar la escasa plata que llevaban las piezas de 2, 1 y 0,50 pesetas?; ¿qué son los 10, 5 ó 2,5 gramos de plata de 835 milésimas comparados con los 25 gramos de plata de 900 milésimas del duro? (54). No hay duda de que si estas monedas de baja ley y reducido peso están junto a un duro, cualquiera lo prefiere a ellas. Esto es lo que hizo el Ministerio. ¿Pero qué sucede si el duro no está? Que la plata de las otras monedas de poco peso y baja ley se vuelve apetecible y más valiosa que un certificado de dudosa estabilidad (55). «¿Cómo voy a darle monedas de plata a este señor/a que me trae un papel que no puedo canjear por un duro?», se preguntarían los tenedores de monedas de plata. En breve llegaría la especulación y el agiotismo. A consecuencia de este fenómeno, que los economistas describen como ley de Gresham, la moneda mala expulsó a la buena.

Lo que en un principio, tal vez, fue un medio para paliar la posible ocultación de la plata, recoger plata gruesa y sustituir las monedas de cinco pesetas monárquicas —hablo de los certificados de plata—, a la postre se convirtió en una causa de ocultación de dicho metal que cada vez se vería menos y, a partir de febrero de 1937, en un importante elemento inflacionista. Lo peor es que no ofrecieron una alternativa viable y completa, aunque cabe reconocer que en las circunstancias bélicas que se vivían los impedimentos eran abundantes. Por otra parte los certificados de plata de 5 y 10 pesetas procedían de un proyecto anterior a la guerra, por lo que sus deficiencias se permitían un amplio margen de justificación heredada; el Ministerio de Hacienda de octubre de 1936 sólo culminó el viejo proyecto. Lo cierto es que en 1938 se pusieron en circulación certificados de 2, 1 y 0,50 pesetas, fruto ya de las necesidades impuestas por los acontecimientos (56). Pero entre 1936 y 1938 media un año, un año de problemas monetarios.

Ahora me pregunto: ¿Aciertan aquellos que echan toda la culpa de la ocultación de la moneda divisionaria y su consiguiente desaparición del circuito monetario a los particulares y elementos fascistas? (57). No niego que éstos tuvieran su papel, pero quiero resaltar que las enormes fauces del Ministerio de Hacienda también tragaron lo suyo, con unos medios mucho más poderosos que los particulares, el ciudadano corriente, y que no ofreció, dicho Ministerio, una alternativa válida hasta 1938.

II. CRISIS Y SOLUCIONES DURANTE 1937

La crisis llegó. Para los autores que han estudiado zonas desconectadas del poder central desde el principio ésta se manifestó ya en 1936 (58). Para nosotros, que estudiamos el caso concreto de la provincia de Alicante, los problemas monetarios no se detectan hasta 1937.

J. M. Bricall (59) dice que la inflación y el deterioro de los mecanismos monetarios no fue más que una faceta de la «sotragada» —sacudida— general de la sociedad que se produjo —guerra y revolución—. La circulación monetaria normal se vio perturbada por un proceso de tesorización de ciertos medios de pago y por el encarecimiento natural de la circulación a través del sistema bancario, causado especialmente por la retirada inicial de depósitos y por las limitaciones que el poder público impuso a esta circulación. Como consecuencia de estos dos fenómenos la moneda fraccionaria desapareció y la aceptación del sistema monetario presentó unas connotaciones específicas: tesorización de ciertos activos líquidos, circulación elevada de otros y ausencia de moneda fraccionaria, etcétera. Todo ello hablando, naturalmente, de Cataluña.

Estudiando también Cataluña, A. Turró (60) afirma que la alteración de las circunstancias económicas como consecuencia inmediata de la guerra afectó en proporciones extraordinarias el ritmo normal de la actividad financiera, derivándose, entre otras cosas, una gran escasez de moneda fraccionaria puesto que ya desde los primeros meses del conflicto se observó un intenso atesoramiento de las monedas de plata por parte de particulares que, influenciados por el incierto resultado de una guerra que preveían larga y el posible naufragio de muchos valores materiales, creían que la plata podría convertirse en la seguridad de su porvenir, hecho que motivó la regular desaparición de estas monedas; atesoramiento que fueron incapaces de evitar e impedir los numerosos decretos que prohibían y castigaban el mencionado acaparamiento. Que cabe señalar que el mismo gobierno contribuyó a esta total desaparición del numerario de plata retirando de la circulación todas las monedas que ingresaban en sus arcas, plata que necesitaba para sus compras de material en el extranjero. Y de otro lado, el Ministerio de Hacienda, por los motivos que sean, no pudo o no supo cumplir con lo que tenía que ser su obligación: dotar al territorio republicano de moneda legal divisonaria del Banco de España. Ello provocó una grave perturbación en la vida económica de cada día ya que se hizo imposible poder devolver cambio o ajustar ningún pago debido a la falta de moneda pequeña.

Rafael Abellá (61), al ocuparse del desconcierto económico de la España republicana, dice que la desaparición de la plata se manifestó muy temprano. En el transcurso del mismo verano de 1936, apenas pasado un mes del alzamiento de julio, la moneda de curso legal al estallar la guerra empezó a ocultarse. Aquello fue el principio de unas dificultades provocadas por la carencia de moneda fraccionaria, de peseta y de calderilla con que efectuar las devoluciones de los cambios. Las medidas conminatorias, las más graves amenazas proferidas contra el atesoramiento, no surtieron efecto apreciable. La plata, el cupro-níquel y el cobre se convirtieron en metales preciosos que aseguraban a sus poseedores contra cualquier contingencia. Y la contingencia que vivía la zona republicana en aquellos momentos era la de las incautaciones, requisas, emisiones de vales, una conmoción económica cuyo resultado no podía ser más que la alarma. El papel podía verse privado de valor, pero el metal sería siempre reconocido. De otro lado, el gobierno tuvo que enfrentarse a muchos pagos, circunstancia que inició la espiral del proceso inflacionista. La posesión de la plata tuvo que restringirse. La emisión de papel se hizo necesaria.

Abellá se sirve de un romance, «Traiga usted dinero suelto», de Antonio Agraz, poeta libertario, para manifestar los problemas del vivir cotidiano ante esa situación. Dicho poema narra las peripecias de una vieja, madre de un combatiente que le manda su soldada, la cual sale a la calle con el billete que le ha enviado su hijo. No puede subir al metro o al tranvía porque no hay cambio. Andando llega a la tienda y se pone en la cola. Cuando le llega su turno el vendedor le dice que no puede comprar nada si no lleva monedas de plata o cobre. La vieja vuelve a casa llorando y le escribe a su hijo pidiéndole que mande perras gordas o plata, no billetes.

Lo que sí que queda claro con el testimonio de estos tres autores es que la crisis existió.

En mi opinión, ésta no fue fruto exclusivo de la guerra que, no sólo dejó al descubierto viejas realidades monetarias, sino que protagonizó numerosas destrucciones, escasez de productos de primera necesidad —ello aumentaba los precios y limitaba el poder adquisitivo del dinero legal—, inseguridad económica —la gente buscaba su futuro atesorando plata, oro…—, saqueos, robos, nuevas responsabilidades y sistemas organizativos casi revolucionarios, etcétera (62); o de la tan citada acaparación, la cual no fue más que un indicador de la crisis que, no contento con revelar la crisis, también la provocó y agravó: fue una especie de desencadenante, culminación del proceso y advertencia de que se requerían cambios para enfrentarse a los problemas; o de la crisis económica que arrastraba el país (63), la cual intensificó las dificultades y mermó algunas de las posibles salidas del caos en que cayeron las cuestiones monetarias durante la guerra civil en la zona republicana. Creo que la crisis llegó como resultado de a interacción de estos tres factores citados junto a los que hemos estado viendo en el apartado I del presente capítulo: Un sistema monetario con deficiencias, la inestabilidad de la plata de las monedas y lo que ello supuso, la fuga del oro y la inflación de papel moneda, la actuación del Ministerio de Hacienda y, como más adelante comprobaremos, la insuficiencia técnica de la Casa de la Moneda que retrasó la solución estatal de un aspecto concreto de la crisis: la carencia de moneda fraccionaria.

Todas estas circunstancias mencionadas se tradujeron en inflación del dinero y carencia de moneda fraccionaria. Nació el problema de los intercambios cotidianos, de la compra, del transporte… y, el pez que se muerde la cola —para nosotros la crisis monetaria—, el círculo vicioso de los problemas dinerarios desembocó en la interrupción del comercio al por menor.

Era preciso encontrar soluciones. Los mecanismos naturales de la economía y del intercambio asomaban la cabeza. El agiotismo se imponía. Y el espíritu del reducido poder local asoló los municipios y gobiernos regionales que, ante la pasividad estatal, para enfrentarse a la crisis crearon su propia moneda con una circulación limitada a sus respectivas jurisdicciones.

Los primeros en notar la crisis fueron los comerciantes, los cuales se veían imposibilitados para devolver cambios, de forma que en lugar de moneda divisionaria entregaban vales o abonos. El sistema era fácil y productivo porque mucha gente no se presentaba al reembolso y los vales se convertían en beneficios (64).

Al poco tiempo, y favorecidos por la fragmentación del poder republicano y la dispersión de los poderes públicos, los organismos regionales, Ayuntamientos, Consejos Municipales, sindicatos, comités políticos, colectividades obreras, unidades militares, cooperativas, economatos y empresas industriales lanzaron sus propios bonos. Más de 2.000 entidades con cerca de 7.000 billetes diferentes, sin contar a los comerciantes individuales (65).

A lo largo de 1937 la zona republicana se convirtió en un muestrario de piezas convencionales que «tuvieron la virtualidad de solventar las más imperiosas necesidades del subsistir en una sociedad que seguía ajustada a las transacciones dinerarias como patrón y vehículo adquisitivo». Pero la pérdida del sentido reverencial del dinero fue espeluznante. La puesta en circulación de esta serie de vales locales tuvo enorme transcendencia sobre las ideas y la vida de los españoles a quienes tqfcó comprar, vender y traficar con dichos bonos. «La desacralización del dinero hizo perder todo aprecio hacia él» (66).

Hablando de las monedas municipales catalanas, Tarradellas, en el prólogo de la obra de Turró (67), dice que las emisiones municipales, reclamadas sobre todo por la necesidad de hacer frente a la desaparición de la moneda fraccionaria, también tuvieron posibles incidencias sobre los ingresos municipales (68).

De otra parte, también se solucionó la crisis —cabe pensar si fue una solución o un resultado de ella— regresando a los niveles ancestrales del intercambio:

«El trueque sustituyó en todas partes a una moneda en la que nadie creía». (69)

¿Hasta qué punto el trueque sustituyó a la moneda fraccionaria que faltaba? ¿En realidad, el trueque no tiende a eliminar la moneda? Aquí sólo podemos hablar de la provincia de Alicante, puesto que se ha estudiado científicamente. En ésta hubo dos tipos de trueque. Uno puro, que elimina la moneda, y otro que no es trueque propiamente sino el uso de una moneda-mercancía representada por el tabaco, los cigarrillos o las cerillas. Se trató de una mercancía que actuó como equivalente general y tendió a sustituir a la moneda fraccionaria.

Soluciones estatales

Junto a la persecución de los acaparadores de monedas de plata y oro (70) el gobierno intentó emitir moneda fraccionaria con precarios resultados. El 19 de marzo de 1937 (71) el Ministerio de Hacienda decretó que:

«Las nuevas necesidades monetarias que han sido consecuencia de la guerra y de la distribución más igualitaria de la riqueza nacional obligan constantemente al Gobierno a adoptar medidas que atiendan a esas necesidades. Entre ellas descuella en primer término la mayor demanda de monedas divisionarias de una y dos pesetas, por efecto de una circulación más rápida y extensa y un número más considerable de pequeñas transacciones impuesto por las condiciones en que ahora se desarrolla el comercio al detall.

No sería prudente en las circunstancias actuales ampliar la acuñación de moneda de plata, aprovechando las abundantes existencias de este metal en las cajas del Banco Nacional, plata que podría ser exportada subrepticiamente, sustrayéndose así, en forma clandestina, recursos positivos al país, los cuales hoy deben ponerse en su totalidad bajo el absoluto control de las autoridades para los fines nacionales. Por esa causa, el Gobierno, debidamente asesorado por elementos técnicos competentes, ha resuelto» (72)

se emitiese la moneda que las necesidades del mercado requería y que ésta se acuñase sobre un metal análogo al empleado en Francia para el mismo fin.

El primero de los artículos del decreto autorizaba al gobierno para que emitiese cien millones de pesetas de monedas de una y de dos pesetas de bronce de aluminio. El segundo regulaba el peso, forma, tipos y tamaños de las monedas. El tercero establecía su circulación en concurrencia con la plata. El cuarto especificaba que las operaciones de acuñación las llevaría a cabo la Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre, además de indicar la forma de liquidar los gastos, etcétera.

En abril de ese mismo año Mundo Obrero preguntaba:

«¿Cuándo circularán en Madrid las nuevas monedas de peseta?»

Y algún tiempo más tarde repetía:

«¿A dónde han ido a parar las pesetas de nueva acuñación? En Madrid sólo las hemos visto como una curiosidad numismática.» (73)

Lo cierto es que en agosto de 1937 la Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre se vio obligada a comprar maquinaria moderna porque la suya ya no servía (74).

Las monedas de 2 pesetas en metal nunca aparecieron y las de peseta no circularon hasta 1938. Lo cual quiere decir que durante 1937 la moneda fraccionaria en la zona republicana dependió de la improvisación artesanal de los particulares y de la iniciativa de los poderes públicos locales o regionales de la retaguardia.

NOTAS

(1) En el apartado II veremos la crisis.

(2) Vid. FERNÁNDEZ, C. «La creación de la peseta en la evolución del sistema monetario de 1847.» en ANES Ensayos sobre la economía española a mediados del s. XIX. Madrid 1970.

(3) GIL PARRES, O. Historia universal de la moneda. Madrid 1974. p. 221.

(4) VICENS VIVES, J. Historia de España y América social y económica, t. V Barcelona 1977. p. 103.

(5) VICENTI, J.A. La peseta. Madrid 1976. pp. 5-75.

(6) Cfr. GIL PARRES, O. o.c. p. 221.

(7) BANCO DE ESPAÑA Los Billetes del Banco de España. Madrid 1979. pp. 121 y ss.

(8) TORTELLA, G. «La economía española 1830-1900» en TUÑÓN, M. Historia de España, t. VIII Barcelona 1981. pp. 124-129.

(9) Vid. GASTAN & GAYÓN Las Monedas Hispano Musulmanas y Cristianas 711-1981. Madrid 1980. pp. 1136 y ss.

(10) GIL PARRES, O. o.c. p. 221.

(11) GALBRAITH, J.K. El dinero. Barcelona 1983. pp. 168-169.

(12) V1CENS VIVES, J. o.c. p. 105.

(13) VILAR, P. Oro y moneda en la historia 1450-1920. Barcelona 1981. p. 51.

(14) GALBRAITH, J.K. o.c. p. 236.

(15) YEOMAN, R.S. A guide book of United States coins. Wisconsin 1969. p. 12.

(16) THIMONIER, A. Encyclopédie des Monnaies et Billets de France. Clermont-Ferrand. pp. 338-342. (1981).

(17) VICENTI, J.A. o.c. p. 78.

(18) BANCO DE ESPAÑA o.c. p. 279.

(19) Cantidades tomadas de CASTÁN & CAYÓN o.c. pp. 1120 y ss. y CALICÓ, F.X. «La numismática de la guerra civil española» en La guerra civil española. Exposición itinerante del Ministerio de Cultura. Madrid 1980. p. 64.

(20) Vid. TURRÓ, A. Elpaper moneda cátala 1936-1939. Barcelona 1982. p. 14.

(21) Vid. CALICÓ, F.X. o.c. pp. 63-70.

(22) BRICALL, J.M. Política económica de la Generalitat 1936-1939 t. II «el sistema financer». Barcelona 1979. pp. varias.

(23) TURRÓ, A. o.c. p. 19.

(24) TAMAMES, R. Introducción a la economía española. Madrid 1980. pp. 282-283.

(25) BANCO DE ESPAÑA o.c. pp. 196-197.

(26) Ibídem. p. 235.

(27) Ibídem. pp. 274-277.

(28) Decreto del Ministerio de Hacienda 19-111-1937. Gaceta de la República, 20-JII-1937.

(29) TURRO, A. o.c. p. 15.

(30) GALBRAITH, J.K. o.c. p. 183.

(31) A.M. de Alicante. Libro de Actas de sesiones municipales, s.o. 10-VI-1937.

(32) Datos de TUÑÓN & GARCÍA-NIETO, M.a C. «La guerra civil» en TUÑÓN de LARA, M. Historia de España, t. IX Labor. Barcelona, p. 439.

(33) ABELLÁ, R. «La pesadilla diaria de las dos Españas» en La guerra civil española. URBION t. 11 Madrid 1983. p. 50.

(34) TUÑÓN & GARCÍA NIETO, M.a C. o.c. p. 439.

(35) Para profundizar más en el tema vid. por ejemplo: SARDA, J. «El Banco de España, 1931-1962» en El Banco de España. Una historia económica. Madrid 1970; VIÑAS, A. El oro español en la guerra civil. Madrid 1976 y El oro de Moscú. Barcelona 1979.

(36) Gaceta de Madrid. 4-X-1936.

(37) Ibídem. ll-X-1936.

(38) Gacetas de la República. 7-1-1937, 14-11-1937, 16-111-1937…

(39) Palabras tomadas de GALBRAITH, J.k. o.c. p. 167.

(40) DE LA CIERVA, R. Historia ilustrada de la guerra civil española. Barcelona 1977. pp. 380-381.

(41) Humanidad. (Alcoy) 20-1-1937. p. 3.

(42) TUÑÓN & GARCÍA-NIETO, M.a C. o.c. p. 296.

(43) Un sondeo de los datos que aporta el cuadro 23 para la zona republicana: SUMAS DE CUENTAS CORRIENTES Y BILLETES EN CIRCULACIÓN (millones depts.) 1937, enero: 9.505,8, mayo: 11.520, septiembre: 14.269; 1938, enero: 17.456,8, mayo: 20.336,8, septiembre: 23.697; 1939, enero: 27.533,8. POBLACIÓN (millones de hab.); 1937, enero: 12,5, mayo: 11,8, septiembre: 11,1; 1938, enero: 10,5, mayo: 10,2, septiembre: 9,9; 1939, enero: 7,1. En VIÑAS, A. «Breve bosquejo económico» en URBIÓN o.c. t. 9 p. 124.

(44) Un sondeo de los datos que aporta el cuadro 26 para la zona republicana: Francos por 100 pts. 1937, enero: 86,35, mayo: 72,49, septiembre: 52,04; 1938, enero: 32,20, mayo: 23,20, septiembre: 16,49: 1939, enero: 6,28. En ibidem. p. 127.

(45) Ibidem. 116.

(46) Gaceta de Madrid. 15-X-1936. Recuérdese que estos certificados de papel ya los hemos visto líneas atrás y que su proyecto data de 1935.

(47) Ibídem. 2-XII-1936.

(48) Gaceta de la República. 15-1-1937.

(49) Ibídem. 19-1-1937.

(50) Ibídem. 23-11-1937.

(51) Los milicianos y los soldados del Ejército Popular eran los mejor pagados de su tiempo: diez pesetas por día en mano. VIÑAS, A. o. c. URBIÓN. t. 9 p. 116.

(52) En Cataluña la proliferación de entidades de naturaleza no crediticia que emitieron moneda fue enorme. BRICALL, J. M. o. c. pp. 10 y 280-294. En la provincia de Alicante también, como veremos.

(53) Recuérdese que la expresión plata gruesa ha sido sacada de los decretos y órdenes del Ministerio.

(54) Para la ley y peso de las monedas vid. VICENTI, J. A. o. c. pp. 20-65.

(55) Una explicación del problema de la moneda fraccionaria durante 1937 podría identificarse con la lucha entre una moneda-mercancía-plata revaluada y una moneda-signo-papel devaluada, ni más ni menos la ruptura del equilibrio que habían intentado mantener ambas monedas durante más de 60 años. Ello nos lleva a plantearnos si la crisis monetaria de 1937 fue coyuntural simplemente o estructural. Lo cierto es que el sistema monetario que giraba en torno a la plata se derrumbaría ¿Nacería uno nuevo, acorde con los momentos?

56) Estas emisiones las estudiaremos en el capítulo IV.

(57) Las manifestaciones que acusan a los particulares y elementos fascistas son frecuentes tanto en la prensa como en las actas de las sesiones municipales de los diversos municipales alicantinos estudiados aquí.

(58) Un ejemplo muy claro de estos planteamientos en CONDE, I. «Billete de cincuenta pesetas, emitido en Gijón, en Septiembre de 1937» en Actas del Primer Congreso Nacional de Numismática. Zaragoza 12-16 diciembre de 1972.

(59) BRICALL, J. M. o. c. pp. 29, 26 y 9.

(60) TURRÓ, A. o. c. pp. 18-19.

(61) ABELLÁ, R. La vida cotidiana durante la guerra civil, España Republicana. Barcelona 1975. pp. 319-324.

(62) Para lo que protagonizó la guerra vid. por ejemplo ABELLÁ, R.: La vida cotidiana… o. c. y TUÑÓN & GARCÍA-NIETO: o. c.

(63) Para la situación económica vid. por ejemplo TUÑÓN; M.: La España del siglo XX. t. II Barcelona, edición de 1981. pp. 365-390. y VICENS VIVES: o. c. t. V pp. 247-283.

(64) Vid. CALICÓ, F. X. o. c. p. 65.

(65) BANCO DE ESPAÑA o. c. p. 348 y BRICALL, J. M. o. c. pp. 280-286.

(66) Cfs. ABELLÁ, R. La vida cotidiana… o. c. pp. 326 y 324.

(67) TURRÓ, A. o. c. p. 7.

(68) Los lectores se habrán percatado de que no menciono las emisiones del Banco de España de Bilbao o de Santander, ni las de la Generalitat de Cataluña. Ello es así porque estas emisiones no están directamente relacionadas con el problema de la crisis de la moneda fraccionaria ni del poder adquisitivo de la moneda estatal, las mismas son resultado de la guerra y de unas exigencias políticas.

(69) DE LA CIERVA, R. o. c. p. 378.

(70) En el capítulo siguiente estudiaremos con brevedad dicha persecución en la provincia de Alicante.

(71) Gaceta de la República. 20-111-1937.

(72) El resto de la introducción del decreto ya se ha reproducido en el texto de la nota (28) del presente capítulo.

(73) Vid. ABELL^, R. La vida cotidiana… o. c. p. 320.

(74) Gaceta de la República. 7-VIII-1937.

Posted in CURRENCIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL, SPAIN | Leave a Comment »

INTERVIEW – HARI SHANKAR SINGHANIA – PRESIDENT, JK ORGANISATION – ‘FISCAL STIMULUS THE NEED OF THE HOUR’

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

27 Nov 2008, 0425 hrs IST, ET Bureau

Before the financial crisis broke out, it was generally believed that corporates were in the pink of HARI SHANKAR SINGHANIAfinancial health. As the credit and liquidity crunch has intensified, the vulnerabilities have come tumbling out. Hari Shankar Singhania, President, JK Organisation, discusses with ET the financial crisis and its implication.

Much of India’s current economic problems relate to the external sector — exports, rupee depreciation and capital inflows. Should it cause a panic ?

To a great extent the current economic turmoil is a fall-out of global economic crisis, which in turn is the outcome of US subprime crisis. However, what had began as financial crisis is now a crisis in the real economy affecting growth outlook of all major economies of the world and India is no exception.

Contrary to what was believed earlier, Indian economy is not immune from developments in the global economies. There is no panic but there is no denying that lot of uncertainties have been created with HARI SHANKAR SINGHANIAsharp reduction in GDP and industrial growth rates, steep and continuing fall in stock prices, erosion of export growth and depreciation of rupee. All these are creating crisis of confidence.

Before the crisis, the general impression was that corporate balance sheets were very strong. What has gone wrong ?

You are right when you say corporate balance sheets were generally strong. I will say that the crisis has not eroded the intrinsic strength of the Indian corporates and we have to distinguish between the intrinsic strength of a company and its balance sheet.

The latter primarily reflects the arithmetic of corporate results, which, in turn, is influenced by the business scenario. The former is a reflection of competitiveness, and entrepreneurial acumen which we have. What has gone wrong is that as the current economic environment is impacting the revenue side of the balance sheet, the expenditure side continues to be impacted by several exogenous factors that are beyond the control of the companies, i.e., high interest cost, rising cost of raw materials, Inauguration of the exhibition seen in the photo L to R Mr. Hari Shankar Singhania, Chairman J K Corp., Dr. Raman Singh, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Mr. S. Jagadeesan, Jt. Sec. Ministry of Industry & Commerce, Mr. Parmod Jain, President, IARPMA and Mr. M L Wadhwa, Tafcon watching the ceremonyetc.

If the Indian economy is expected to grow at over 7% in 2008-09 and at least 6% in 2009-10, why has the outlook for corporate capex deteriorated ?

We have to recognise that there has been a sharp decline in our GDP growth from 9.6% in 2006-07 to 9% in 2007-08 and 7% (or less) is expected in 2008-09, which means a growth loss of over 26%. Further, there is uncertainty about the growth outlook.

Capex plans are always related to expectations of growth. So, it is natural they will get affected. Further, the non-availability and high cost of finance are affecting the availability of resources and viability of capital expenditure.

Can cheaper credit alone solve India’s problem, given that there is limited room for a further fiscal stimulus ?

While cheaper credit alone is not the answer to the problem, cheaper credit will go a long way in Inaugural Function seen on the dias L to R Mr. M L Wadhwa, Tafcon, Mr. Raji Philip, CMD, HPCL, Mr. Parmod Jain, President, IARPMA, Hari Shankar Singhania, Chairman, J K Corp., Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister for Power, Govt. of India, Dr. Raman Singh, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Mr. S. Jagadeesan, Jt. Sec. Ministry of Industry & Commerce, Mr. N. Gopalaratnam, CMD, Seshasayee Paper & Mr. Jaideep Chitlangia, Vice President, IARPMArecovering confidence.

I think that there is considerable room for further fiscal stimulus. We can certainly come with a sustainable fiscal stimulus package. Sometimes you need to reallocate expenditure and/or reprioritise the expenditure in favour of such activities that are likely to give you immediate result. What we need is allocative efficiency.

What more can the government do to boost consumption demand and spur investments ?

Need for a stimulus package at this stage cannot be over emphasised. This is important in order to halt the current slowdown and putting the economy back on the rails. For this, it is necessary that goods and services are made cheaper and affordable.

Towards this end, reduction of excise duty is essential. Second, in certain sectors which are exposed to the threat of cheaper imports, government should increase the import duty by suitable margins. Third, the incidence of service tax should be brought down by at least 1.5 percentage point.

Fourth, government should reintroduce investment allowance to improve cash flows of the companies Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister for Power, Govt. of India releasing the Inpaper Directory, seen in the photo L- R Mr. Hari Shankar Singhania, Dr. Raman Singhand stimulate investments. Fifth, banks be asked to reduce the PLR at least by 1-1.5 percentage point. Sixth, bring down the interest rate on housing loan to the pre-crisis level.

Last but not the least, expenditure on infrastructure development, including housing, must be raised very substantially. Existing ongoing projects should be implemented on a war-footing. What is necessary is quick and timely action and implementation, for which I suggest a sort of war room be created in the Prime Minister’s Office.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ECONOMIC TIMES’ (India)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INDIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

CHAGOS ISLANDS – STEALING A NATION – THE CORRUPTION THAT MAKES UNPEOPLE OF AN ENTIRE NATION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

28/11/2008

CHAGOS ISLANDS – STEALING A NATION – by John Pilger

CLICK HERE FOR A HIGH DEFINITION VERSION OF THE ENTIRE VIDEO

1 –

2 –

3 –

4 –

5 –

6 –

The native islanders of the Chagos archipelago were forcibly removed from the CHAGOS' FLAGislands by the British Government at that time to make way for an American military airbase during the Cold War. They were forgotten about and left to wither in poverty in the slums of Mauritius. They have been fighting to be allowed to return home ever since, and despite the British courts ruling in favour of this the Government has managed to block that decision, and the Chagossians remain in their enforced purgatory to this day.

STEALING A NATION (John Pilger, 2004) is an extraordinary film about the plight of people of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean – secretly and brutally expelled from their homeland by British governments in the late 1960s CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGOand early 1970s, to make way for an American military base. The base, on the main island of Diego Garcia, was a launch pad for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Stealing a Nation has won both the Royal Television Society’s top award as Britain’s best documentary in 2004-5, and a ‘Chris Award’ at the Columbus International Film and Video Festival. A brochure of the film is available at http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/guides/stealguide.pdf. On April 8, 2008, the Chagos Islanders have launched a national Campaign for Resettlement of their islands – go to www.letthemreturn.com. For more information and updates on the plight of the Chagossians, visit the website of the UK Chagos Support Association at www.chagossupport.org.uk.

Other references and articles on the story are as listed below: CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO

http://www.chagos.org/home.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politic…

Islanders who wait in vain for justice and a paradise lost
Evicted from their tropical idyll in a military deal, victorious in three legal hearings, they now face another battle to be allowed home – From The Times – November 9, 2007

THE CORRUPTION THAT MAKES UNPEOPLE OF AN ENTIRE NATION

27 Nov 2008

In his column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the latest chapter in theCHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO extraordinary story of the ‘mass kidnapping’ of the people of the Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean, British citizens expelled from their homeland to make way for an American military base. On 22 October, Britain’s highest court of appeal, the Law Lords, demonstrated how British power words at its apex by handing down a transparently political judgement that dismissed the Magna Carta and banned an entire nation from ever going home.

I went to the Houses of Parliament on 22 October to join a disconsolate group of shivering people who had arrived from a faraway tropical place and were being prevented from entering the Public Gallery to hear their fate. This was not headline news; the BBC reporter seemed almost CHAGOS REFUGEES PROTESTING IN LONDONembarrassed. Crimes of such magnitude are not news when they are ours, and neither is injustice or corruption at the apex of British power.

Lizette Talatte was there, her tiny frail self swallowed by the cavernous stone grey of Westminster Hall. I first saw her in a Colonial Office film from the 1950s which described her homeland, the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, as a paradise long settled by people “born and brought up in conditions most tranquil and benign”. Lizette was then 14 years old. She remembers the producer saying to her and her friends, “Keep smiling, girls!”. When we met in Mauritius, four years ago, she said: “We didn’t need to be told to smile. I was a happy child, because my roots were deep in Diego Garcia. My great-grandmother was born there, and I made six children there. Maybe only the English can make a film that showed we were an established community, then deny their own evidence and invent the lie that we were transient workers.”CHAGOS REFUGEES PROTESTING - STANDING IN FRONT OF THE ROYAL COURT OF JUSTICE IN LONDON

During the 1960s and 1970s British governments, Labour and Tory, tricked and expelled the entire population of the Chagos Archipelago, more than 2,000 British citizens, so that Diego Garcia could be given to the United States as the site for a military base. It was an act of mass kidnapping carried out in high secrecy. As unclassified official files now show, Foreign Office officials conspired to lie, coaching each other to “maintain” and “argue” the “fiction” that the Chagossians existed only as a “floating population”. On 28 July 1965, a senior Foreign Office official, T C D Jerrom, wrote to the British representative at the United Nations, instructing him to lie to the General Assembly that the Chagos Archipelago was “uninhabited when the United Kingdom government first acquired it”. Nine years later, the Ministry of Defence went further, lying CHAGOS REFUGEES PROTESTING - Louis Olivier Bancoult, (2nd L) Chairman of the Chagos Refugees Group, holds his grandson Julien aloft outside The High Court in central London, 23 May 2007. Families expelled from the Chagos Islands by the British Government to make way for the Diego Garcia US airbase won their legal battle to return home Wednesday. The decision upholds two previous rulings in favour of the islanders, granting them rights of abodethat “there is nothing in our files about inhabitants [of the Chagos] or about an evacuation”.

“To get us out of our homes,” Lizette told me, “they spread rumours we would be bombed, then they turned on our dogs. The American soldiers who had arrived to build the base backed several of their big vehicles against a brick shed, and hundreds of dogs were rounded up and imprisoned there, and they gassed them through a tube from the trucks’ exhaust. You could hear them crying. Then they burned them on a pyre, many still alive.”

Lizette and her family were finally forced on to a rusting freighter and made to lie on a cargo of bird fertiliser during a voyage, through stormy seas, to the slums of Port Louis, Mauritius. Within A demonstrator demanding her return to the Chagos Islands in the Diego Garcia archipelago shouts during a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London October 22, 2008. Britain's highest court ruled in favour of the British government on Wednesday, blocking the return of hundreds of Chagos Island people to their homes in the south Indian Ocean after nearly 40 years of exile. The decision by the House of Lords ends a years-long battle to secure the Chagos Islanders the right to return to their archipelago, from where they were forcibly removed in the 1960s and '70s to make way for an American airbase on Diego Garcia.months, she had lost Jollice, aged eight, and Regis, aged ten months. “They died of sadness,” she said. “The eight-year-old had seen the horror of what had happened to the dogs. The doctor said he could not treat sadness.”

Since 2000, no fewer than nine high court judgments have described these British government actions as “illegal”, “outrageous” and “repugnant”. One ruling cited Magna Carta, which says no free man can be sent into exile. In desperation, the Blair government used the royal prerogative – the divine right of kings – to circumvent the courts and parliament and to ban the islanders from even visiting the Chagos. When this, too, was overturned by the high court, the government was rescued by the law lords, of whom a majority of one (three to two) found for the government in a scandalously inept, political manner. In the weasel, almost flippant words of LordChagos Islanders look on while Louis Olivier Bancoult (R), Chairman of the Chagos Refugees Group, addresses the media outside The High Court in central London, 23 May 2007. Families expelled from the Chagos Islands by the British Government to make way for the Diego Garcia US airbase won their legal battle to return home Wednesday. The decision upholds two previous rulings in favour of the islanders, granting them rights of abode Hoffmann, “the rightof abode is a creature of the law. The law gives it and the law takes it away.” Forget Magna Carta. Human rights are in the gift of three stooges doing the dirty work of a government, itself lawless.

As the official files show, the Chagos conspiracy and cover-up involved three prime ministers and 13 cabinet ministers, including those who approved “the plan”. But elite corruption is unspeakable in Britain. I know of no work of serious scholarship on this crime against humanity. The honourable exception is the work of the historian Mark Curtis, who describes the Chagossians as “unpeople”.

The reason for this silence is ideological. Courtier commentators and media historians obstruct our CHAGOS ISLANDERS IN FORCED EXILE - Dervillie Permal and his wifeview of the recent past, ensuring, as Harold Pinter pointed out in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, that while the “systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought” in Stalinist Russia were well known in the west, the great state crimes of western governments “have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented”.

Typically, the pop historian Tristram Hunt writes in the Observer (23 November): “Nestling in the slipstream of American hegemony served us well in the 20th century. The bonds of culture, religion, language and ideology ensured Britain a postwarLouis Olivier Bancoult, Chairman of the Chagos Refugees Group, celebrates outside The High Court in central London, 23 May 2007. The High Court on Wednesday upheld a ruling letting families return to their Indian Ocean island homes, from where they were forced out 30 years ago to make way for a US military base. The Court of Appeal backed a High Court ruling in May last year that allowed the families to return to the Chagos Islands, except for Diego Garcia, a launchpad for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Britain expelled some 2,000 people from the Chagos Islands, 500 kilometres (310 miles) south of the Maldives, to Mauritius and the Seychelles in the 1960s and 1970s, allowing it to lease Diego Garcia to Washington for 50 years economic bailout, a nuclear deterrent and the continuing ability to ‘punch above our weight’ on the world stage. Thanks to US patronage, our story of decolonisation was for us a relatively painless affair…”

Not a word of this drivel hints at the transatlantic elite’s Cold War paranoia, which put us all in mortal danger, or the rapacious Anglo-American wars that continue to claim untold lives. As part of the “bonds” that allow us to “punch above our weight”, the US gave Britain a derisory $14m discount off the price of Polaris nuclear missiles in exchange for the Chagos Islands, whose “painless decolonisation” was etched on Lizette Talatte’s face the other day. Never forget, Lord Hoffmann, that she, too, will die of sadness.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘JOHN PILGER’S WEB SITE’

Posted in CORRUPTION, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ENGLAND, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRELAND, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATIVE PEOPLES, SCOTLAND, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED KINGDOM, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

$800 BILLION MORE, BUT WILL AMERICA’S HOMEOWNERS SEE A DIME ???

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

November 27, 2008

This past short week was remarkable. The Government, lead by General Paulson, promised to cover more than $300 billion of liabilities of Citigroup. Thus, once again, demonstrating that those controlling America’s money, are protected from their own stupidity and risky behavior. Those who had bought C stock last Friday almost doubled their money by betting on Paulson. After he screwed Lehman bondholders and the buyers of the Fannie and Freddie preferred shares, this guru is being smart by not trusting in the benevolence of irrational leadership!!!

General Paulson on Tuesday announced an $800 Billion plan to add capital to the consumer finance markets, student loans, auto loans and small businesses. Once again, it only benefits those finance companies that took risk during the economic expansion, who are looking for someone to buy assets they no longer wish to own!! Sir Paulson’s rational was that by selling these assets, these financiers will begin to lend again. Most others, including this humble writer, believe that they will behave like the banks under TARP. They will take the money, and not take any risks with it. They will hold it, or use it for bonuses, or to buy companies of friends, or buy Treasury bills and bonds, or FDIC guaranteed issuances from other financial institutions.

To assume they would use this money for lending, would be like the Sir Paulson’s team buying a home on the verge of foreclosure, and assuming that the seller would take the proceeds and use it to buy a new real estate investment.

President Elect Obama has promised new spending and infrastructure projects to jump start the economy. I do not know any bridge builders, airport construction workers , or road builders, so I do not know anyone who will benefit directly. Hopefully , those wearing ties to work, and those in the manufacturing sector will benefit as well.

In these times, with all the volatility, risks, threats and uncertainty, we must all stop and say THANKS for all the good we have, for our families and friends, for health and our prosperity, irregardless of how limited it may seem at the moment!!!!

Give Thanks, have faith, and strive to make the world better, without taking unneeded risks.

Have a great day!!!!

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘Guru@moneyassistant.org’s’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

GOVT SEES GOOD ’09 FOR COCO PRODUCTION (Philippines)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

First Posted 03:43:00 11/27/2008

by Amy R. Remo – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Philippine coconut production will likely expand 11 percent to 2.77 million metric tons in copra terms in 2009 from an estimated 2.5 million this year, thanks largely to a salt fertilization program, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) said Wednesday.

The program involves fertilizing farms with two kilograms of salt per tree per year for three years to increase yield by at least 25 percent, PCA Deputy Administrator Arturo Liquete said at a news briefing.

The method increases the thickness of coconut meat and the number of nuts harvested, and is also credited for making coconut trees resistant to drought, pests and diseases, he said.

Liquate said that if all programs of the PCA would be put in place this year, coconut production could reach 3.2 million metric tons in 2009, given the farms’ recovery from typhoon devastation in late 2006 and infestation by the invasive beetle (Brontispa longgisima gestro), which damaged seedlings and mature trees.

The increase in coconut production would boost coconut oil exports to as much as one million metric tons in 2009, from an estimated 850,000 this year, and 886,561 million in 2007, he added.

The Philippines is the world’s biggest supplier of coconut oil, exporting 80 percent of its output.

“There’s a slow buying this year across export products due partly to the global recession,” Liquete said.

The United Coconut Associations of the Philippines earlier said the sector would likely miss its target volume for coconut oil exports this year because of “over-expectation of the recovery of local coconut production.”

The group said that while the coconut sector did not recover as fast as expected, the export figure this year would still exceed last year’s level.

Edited by INQUIRER.net

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILIPPINE BUSINESS INQUIRER’

Posted in AGRICULTURE, COCONUT OIL, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FERTILIZERS, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INTERNATIONAL, PHILIPPINES, RECESSION | Leave a Comment »

MELTDOWN FAR FROM OVER, NEW MORTGAGE CRISIS LOOMS (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Thu Nov 27, 1:17 pm ET

by Matt Apuzzo – Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The full scope of the housing meltdown isn’t clear and already there are ominous signs of a new crisis — one that could turn out the lights on malls, hotels and storefronts nationwide.

Even as the holiday shopping season begins in full swing, the same events poisoning the housing market are now at work on commercial properties, and the bad news is trickling in. Malls from Michigan to Georgia are entering foreclosure.

Hotels in Tucson, Ariz., and Hilton Head, S.C., also are about to default on their mortgages.

That pace is expected to quicken. The number of late payments and defaults will double, if not triple, by the end of next year, according to analysts from Fitch Ratings Ltd., which evaluates companies’ credit.

“We’re probably in the first inning of the commercial mortgage problem,” said Scott Tross, a real estate lawyer with Herrick Feinstein in New Jersey.

That’s bad news for more than just property owners. When businesses go dark, employees lose jobs. Towns lose tax revenue. School budgets and social services feel the pinch.

Companies have survived plenty of downturns, but economists see this one playing out like never before. In the past, when businesses hit rough patches, owners negotiated with banks or refinanced their loans.

But many banks no longer hold the loans they made. Over the past decade, banks have increasingly bundled mortgages and sold them to investors. Pension funds, insurance companies, and hedge funds bought the seemingly safe securities and are now bracing for losses that could ripple through the financial system.

“It’s a toxic drug and nobody knows how bad it’s going to be,” said Paul Miller, an analyst with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, who was among the first to sound alarm bells in the residential market.

Unlike home mortgages, businesses don’t pay their loans over 30 years. Commercial mortgages are usually written for five, seven or 10 years with big payments due at the end. About $20 billion will be due next year, covering everything from office and condo complexes to hotels and malls.

The retail outlook is particularly bad. Circuit City and Linens ‘n Things have sought bankruptcy protection. Home Depot, Sears, Ann Taylor and Foot Locker are closing stores.

Those retailers typically were paying rent that was expected to cover mortgage payments. When those $20 billion in mortgages come due next year — 2010 and 2011 totals are projected to be even higher — many property owners won’t have the money.

Some will survive, but those property owners whose loans required little money up front will have less incentive to weather the storm.

Refinancing formerly was an option, but many properties are worth less than when they were purchased. And since investors no longer want to buy commercial mortgages, banks are reluctant to write new loans to refinance those facing foreclosure.

California, New York, Texas and Florida — states with a high concentration of mortgages in the securities market, according to Fitch — are particularly vulnerable. Texas and Florida are already seeing increased delinquencies and defaults, as are Michigan, Tennessee and Georgia.

The worst-case scenario goes something like this: With banks unwilling to refinance, a shopping center goes into foreclosure. Nobody can buy the mall because banks won’t write mortgages as long as investors won’t purchase them.

“Credit markets have seized up,” corporate securities lawyer Michael Gambro said. “People are not willing to take risks. They’re not buying anything.”

That drives down investments already on the books. Insurance companies are seeing their stock prices fall on fears they are too invested in commercial mortgages.

“The system has never been tested for a deep recession,” said Ken Rosen, a real estate hedge fund manager and University of California at Berkeley professor of real estate economics.

One hope was that the U.S. would use some of the $700 billion financial bailout to buy shaky investments from banks and insurance companies. That was the original plan. But Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has issued a stunning turnabout, saying the U.S. no longer planned to buy troubled securities. For those watching the wave of commercial defaults about to crest, the announcement was poorly received.

“He’s created havoc in the marketplace by changing the rules,” Rosen said. “It was the stupidest statement on Earth.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering another option that might ease the crisis, one that would change accounting rules so banks don’t have to declare huge losses whenever the market declines.

But the only surefire remedy is for the economy to stabilize, for businesses to start expanding and for investors to trust the market again. Until then, Tross said, “There’s going to be a lot of pain going forward.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘YAHOO NEWS’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA | Leave a Comment »

BANANA FIGHT THREATENS DOHA DEAL – Deals in the Doha global trade talks next month are at risk if the European Union fails to settle a long-running banana dispute

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

November 27, 2008

by Alonso Soto in Quito, Ecuador

Article from: Reuters

Ecuador, the world’s top banana exporter, said it would not agree to agricultural accords in the Doha talks after the World Trade Organisation upheld a ruling against the EU in the lung-running “banana wars” pitting Brussels against the United States and Latin American producers.

“Unfortunately, our country will not agree to the consensus to settle the agriculture terms of the (Doha) round … if this problem is not properly resolved by then,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

A top government official told Reuters later that Latin American banana producers were demanding that the EU lower import tariffs on the fruit, beginning with a series of cuts starting next year.

The official, who asked not to be identified, said the EU should eventually cut its current duty of €176 ($349) per tonne of bananas to €114 ($226) in eight years.

Latin American states came close to securing a deal with the EU during a WTO ministerial meeting in July, but Brussels walked away from the deal when the broad Doha negotiations fell apart.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE AUSTRALIAN’ (USA)

Posted in 'DOHA TALKS', AGRICULTURE, BELGIUM, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMY, ECUADOR, FRUITS AND FRESH VEGETABLES, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LATIN AMERICA, THE EUROPEAN UNION, USA, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION | Leave a Comment »

AT LEAST YOU’VE GOT OPTIONS …

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Last update: November 27, 2008 – 11:02 AM

by Seth Freeman – (*)

LOS ANGELES – Please listen carefully, as this menu has changed. HOLD THE MENU ... I JUST WANT A GLASS OF WATER

For English, press or say “one.” Para espaqol, oprima o diga “dos.” For all other languages, press or say “three.”

One.

Thank you for your interest in our service. If this is a true spiritual emergency, please hang up and dial the number on the upper left-hand corner of the mailing label of your last solicitation. Otherwise, please stay on the line and your prayers will be answered in the order in which they were received.

All right, let’s get started. For prayers of repentance, press or say “two.” For prayers of supplication, press or say “three.” For prayers of forgiveness, press or say “four.” For prayers of serenity, press or say “five.” For all other prayers, press or say “six.”

I guess … er … supplic — three. Three.

I think you said “two.” Is this correct?

No.

I think you said “no.” Is this correct?

Yes.

OK, let’s try that again. For prayers of repentance, press or say “two.” For prayers of supplication, press or say “three.” For prayers —

Three.

— of forgiveness —

Three!

— say “four.” For prayers of serenity, press or say “five.” For all other prayers, press or say “six.”

Three.

I think you said, “Three.” Is this correct?

Yes. Correct. Yes.

All right. Let me see if I can help you. Please say the category for which you are supplicating. For example, if you are praying for help with a personal life problem, say “problem.” If you are praying for a material object like a new Lexus, say “car.”

Uh …

I’m sorry. I didn’t understand your answer. Please repeat your answer slowly and clearly.

It’s hard to describe. Things no longer make … sense …

I think you said “vengeance.” Is this correct?

No.

Good, because vengeance is mine. Please repeat your answer slowly and clearly.

Prob. Lem.

I think you said “problem.” Is this correct?

Yes. Correct.

Thank you. Let me connect you to that department.

Hold music: Pachelbel, “Canon in D” — tenor sax version (Kenny G) …

Please stay on the line. Your prayer is important to us. Your wait time is approximately seven minutes.

Hold music …

We’re sorry you are still on hold. We appreciate your patience and look forward to being of service.

Hold music …

Thank you for holding. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please state the problem for which you would like help. For example, if you would like help healing someone who is sick, you could say “illness.” If you would like help in making a woman who barely knows that you exist become interested in you romantically, you could say “wingman.”

No more menus.

I’m sorry. I didn’t understand your answer. Please state the problem for which you would like help.

I want help without having to go through six levels of options.

I think you said you would like help with sexual dysfunction. Is this correct?

No.

I think you said “no.” Is this correct?

Yes.

OK, please restate your problem. Speak slowly and clearly —

I’m sick of these menus.

I think you said you would like help curing a sickness. Is this correct?

No, no, these menus are driving me crazy.

I think you said you would like help dealing with a mental illness. Is this correct?

No. No, no!

I’m having difficulty understanding the problem for which you are seeking help. Please state your problem slowly and clearly.

My problem is … I … forgot why I called.

I think you said you no longer recall your problem. Is this correct?

I guess. I don’t know. Yes.

Excellent. We are pleased to have been of service. How else can we provide you with a wonderful day?

(*) – Seth Freeman is a writer for television. He wrote this article for the Los Angeles Times.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘STAR TRIBUNE’ (USA)

Posted in ECONOMY, RELIGIONS, USA, USA HUMOR | Leave a Comment »

PRESIDENT OF UNITED ARAB EMIRATES DOWNPLAYS IMPACT OF FALLING OIL PRICES AHEAD OF OPEC MEETING (Dubai)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Last update: November 26, 2008 – 6:36 AM

Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The president of the United Arab Emirates is Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) holds a bilateral meeting with Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahya, President of the United Arab Emirates, at the Royal Guest Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabiadownplaying concerns about falling oil prices ahead of an emergency OPEC meeting later this week.

The Emirates is one of the world’s top oil producers.

Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan says fluctuations in the price of crude are nothing new. He says the Gulf nation has lived through periods were prices were below where they are today.

The sheik spoke in an interview with Egypt’s influential Al Ahram newspaper. The Emirates state news agency WAM on Wednesday provided a transcript of the interview.

Khalifa says the Emirates is “closely monitoring” oil market dynamics and working with partners in OPEC “to face any negative impacts on the stability of world markets.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘STAR TRIBUNE’ (USA)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DUBAI, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INTERNATIONAL, OPEC, PETROL, RECESSION, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | Leave a Comment »

CHINA SIGNS GREEK PORT DEAL

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Nov 26, 2008 6:38 AM

Chinese President Hu Jintao vowed to increase maritime investment in GREEK PROTESTERS - ReutersGreece after the signing of a 3.4 billion euro deal to run the country’s largest port, despite protests from dockers.

Hu and Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis witnessed the signing of the contract by state-controlled China Ocean Shipping Company (Cosco) to operate the container port of Piraeus (OLP) for 35 years, part of Greece’s privatisation agenda.

“Our priorities are to widen our economic cooperation … to strengthen maritime cooperation and investments,” the Chinese leader told journalists, during a three-day state visit.

Greece controls one fifth of the world’s merchant fleet. Its ship owners have profited from a huge boom in demand for iron ore, oil and grain from China in recent years, and they are the largest clients for Chinese shipbuilding yards.

Until a collapse in freight rates earlier this year, the boom helped Greece’s economy grow by 4% a year for a decade.

“The agreement between OLP and Cosco signals a new important chapter,” said Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. “Greek ports can become transit points for Chinese goods to the EU and southeast Europe, as well as the Mediterranean.”

Several hundred dockworkers, carrying a banner reading “Cosco Go Home” and waving black flags, marched past the Greek parliament before the signing, saying the deal would mean job losses and tougher labour conditions.

“They must not sell the ports. OLP is a profitable business … it doesn’t make sense,” said Manolis Gemeliaris, 54, an engineer at the port. “When Cosco comes, we will lose our jobs.”

The Chinese company has insisted that it will create 1,000 new jobs at the port for Greek workers and more than double its capacity by 2015.

Hu, who toured the ancient temples of the Acropolis in central Athens with his wife, has insisted during his visit that China’s economy is still experiencing “significant growth” and he would cooperate with international efforts to tackle the global economic downturn.

However, the World Bank said in a report published Tuesday that China’s economic growth would slow to 7.5% next year, its lowest rate since 1990, despite a 4 trillion yuan ($US586 billion) stimulus package.

Despite the opposition of Greece’s restive unions, the conservative government is pressing ahead with privatisations and has put loss-making Olympic Airlines on the block.

The ruling New Democracy party, whose parliamentary majority was cut to one seat this month by the expulsion of a rebel deputy, has fallen behind in opinion polls for the first time since winning power in 2004 amid discontent at its economic policies. Many analysts expect an early election next year, ahead of a 2011 deadline.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘TVNZ’ (New Zealand)

Posted in CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, GRAINS, GREECE, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRON ORE, MARITIME, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, PETROL, SHIPYARD INDUSTRIES, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRANSPORT INDUSTRIES, WORLD BANK | Leave a Comment »

PLAN TO SELL 51PC SHARES OF NPCC APPROVED (Pakistan)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

November 27, 2008 Thursday Ziqa’ad 28, 1429

by Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, Nov 26: The board of Privatisation Commission (PC) on TARBELA DAM - PAKISTANWednesday approved a plan for holding an open bidding for the acquisition 51 per cent shares of National Power Construction Company (NPCC).

The meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Privatisation Syed Naveed Qamar gave the go-ahead for the bidding of NPCC together with management control on “as is where is” basis.

An official statement issued here said the PC board also formulated its recommendations for the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) prior to announcing the bidding schedule for NPCC.

The parties pre-qualified for taking part in the bidding of the NPCC include Pak Elektron Limited (PEL), ICC (Pvt) Limited, Al-Tuwairqi Steel Mills, Karachi, Saudi Cable Company Limited, KSA, JS PE Management, Karachi, Alfanar Construction Company, KSA and Zad Investment Company.

The meeting was informed that the signing ceremony for the share purchase agreement of Hazara Phosphate Fertilisers (Pvt) Limited (HPFL) is being scheduled for Nov 28 at the Privatisation Commission secretariat after receiving the remaining payment and it will be handed over to the successful buyer.

The meeting also reviewed the status and progress of various ongoing and upcoming transactions.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

Posted in COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, PAKISTAN, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

WATER SHORTAGE AFFECTS WHEAT SOWING IN SINDH (Pakistan)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

November 27, 2008 Thursday Ziqa’ad 28, 1429

by Muzaffar Qureshi

KARACHI, Nov 26: Water shortage, especially in lower Sindh, is adversely affecting wheat sowing, which in other areas has started in full swing.

An official of the Sindh agriculture department confirmed on Wednesday that water shortage is the main problem in wheat sowing which has become a sensitive cash crop in view of the looming food shortage worldwide.

The areas affected by water shortage are: Hyderabad, Thatta, Badin, Matiari, Nawabshah and Naushero Feroze.

Growers complained that the fields situated at the tail-end of water canals were suffering most, and President of Sindh Abadgar Board Majeed Nizamani feared that the wheat target for year 2008-09 would not be achieved if water shortage was not tackled. The growers said that there was no real shortage of water, which has been created by mismanagement in water distribution and corruption in the irrigation department.

The water is supplied to influential and big growers offering incentives to the irrigation staff, they alleged.

Explaining the distribution network in the province, Nizamani said that the water available at the Guddu Barrage irrigates about eight million acres of land on both sides of the barrage through four major canals on the left side and three on the right side. The distribution network comprises about 210 water channels.

He said that the water shortage during the current wheat crop has been estimated at 35 per cent which means that out of four weeks, there will be no water supply to the farms for one week. However, he said that if judicious distribution of the available water is made, wheat target could be achieved.

Mr Nizamani said that otherwise factors, such as availability of phosphate and urea fertilizers, etc., were favourable for a bumper crop.

More land will be available for wheat sowing this year as growers of edible oil crop, who are not keen to grow sunflower in view of declining prices of edible oil in the world market, will instead contribute their land for wheat sowing.

Similarly, he said that if sugarcane is lifted by the sugar mills earlier, more land could be made available for wheat cultivation.

The government has fixed wheat cultivation area in Sindh this year at 2.5 million acres while the production target is 25 million tons.

Another leading wheat grower pointed to the corruption, which has reached its climax in the irrigation department.

The officials of the department are so powerful that the agriculture ministry finds itself helpless in dealing with the department.

He called for proper management of cultivation of various crops as is managed in Australia where the government fixed the land units for sowing of a particular crop, which is decided after assessing the domestic requirements.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

Posted in AGRICULTURE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CORRUPTION, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FERTILIZERS, INTERNATIONAL, PAKISTAN, SUNFLOWER, WATER, WHEAT | Leave a Comment »

SHOOTING AN ELEPHANT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

1920 – 1940

THE COLLECTED ESSAYS, JOURNALISM AND LETTERS OF GEORGE ORWELL – Vol. 1

AN AGE LIKE THIS

Pages 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272

88. Shooting an Elephant

GEORGE ORWELL In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people – the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me. I was sub-divisional police officer of the town, and in an aimless, petty kind of way anti- European feeling was very bitter. No one had the guts to raise a riot, but if a European woman went through the bazaars alone somebody would probably spit betel juice over her dress. As a police officer I was an obvious target and was baited whenever it seemed safe to do so. When a nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee (another Burman) looked the other way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter. This happened more than once. In the end the sneering yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves. The young Buddhist priests were the worst of all. There were several thousands of them in the town and none of them seemed to have anything to do except stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans.

All this was perplexing and upsetting. For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better. Theoretically – and secretly, of course – I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear. In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters. The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been flogged with bamboos – all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt. But I could get nothing into perspective. I was young and ill educated and I had had to think out my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East. I did not even know that the British Empire is dying, still less did I know that it is a great deal better than the younger empires that are going to supplant it. All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible. With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo- Indian official, if you can catch him off duty.

One day something happened which in a roundabout way was enlightening, [t was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than t had had before of the real nature of imperialism – the real motives for which despotic governments act. Early one morning the sub-inspector at a police station the other end of the town rang me up on the phone and said that an elephant was ravaging the bazaar. Would I please come and do something about it? I did not know what I could do, but I wanted to see what was happening and I got on to a pony and started out. I took my rifle, an old .44 Winchester and much too small to kill an elephant, but I thought the noise might be useful in terrorem. Various Burmans stopped me on the way and told me about the elephant’s doings. It was not, of course, a wild elephant, but a tame one which had gone ‘must’. It had been chained up as tame elephants always are when their attack of ‘must’ is due, but on the previous night it had broken its chain and escaped. Its mahout, the only person who could manage it when it was in that state, had set out in pursuit, but he had taken the wrong direction and was now twelve hours’ journey away, and in the morning the elephant had suddenly reappeared in the town. The Burmese population had no weapons and were quite helpless against it. It had already destroyed somebody’s bamboo hut, killed a cow and raided some fruit-stalls and devoured the stock; also it had met the municipal rubbish van, and, when the driver jumped out and took to his heels, had turned the van over and inflicted violence upon it.

The Burmese sub-inspector and some Indian constables were waiting for me in the quarter where the elephant had been seen. It was a very poor quarter, a labyrinth of squalid bamboo huts, thatched with palm-leaf, winding all over a steep hillside. I remember that it was a cloudy stuffy morning at the beginning of the rains. We began questioning the people as to where the elephant had gone, and, as usual, failed to get any definite information. That is invariably the case in the East; a story always sounds clear enough at a distance, but the nearer you get to the scene of events the vaguer it becomes. Some of the people said that the elephant had gone in one direction, some said that he had gone in another, some professed not even to have heard of any elephant. I had almost made up my mind that the whole story was a pack of lies, when we heard yells a little distance away. There was a loud, scandalized cry of ‘Go away, child! Go away this instant!’ and an old woman with a switch in her hand came round the corner of a hut, violently shooing away a crowd of naked children. Some more women followed, clicking their tongues and exclaiming; evidently there was something there that the children ought not to have seen. I rounded the hut and saw a man’s dead body sprawling in the mud. He was an Indian, a black Dravidian coolie, almost naked, and he could not have been dead many minutes. The people said that the elephant had come suddenly upon him round the corner of the hut, caught him with its trunk, put its foot on his back and ground him into the earth. This was the rainy season and the ground was soft, and his face had scored a trench a foot deep and a couple of yards long. He was lying on his belly with arms crucified and head sharply twisted to one side. His face was coated with mud, the eyes wide open, the teeth bared and grinning with an expression of unendurable agony. (Never tell me, by the way, that the dead look peaceful. Most of the corpses I have seen looked devilish.) The friction of the great beast’s foot had stripped the skin from his back as neatly as one skins a rabbit. As soon as I saw the dead man I sent an orderly to a friend’s house near by to borrow an elephant rifle. I had already sent back the pony, not wanting it to go mad with fright and throw me if it smelled the elephant.

The orderly came back in a few minutes with a rifle and five cartridges, and meanwhile some Burmans had arrived and told us that the elephant was in the paddy fields below, only a few hundred yards away. As I started forward practically the whole population of the quarter flocked out of their houses and followed me. They had seen the rifle and were all shouting excitedly that I was going to shoot the elephant. They had not shown much interest in the elephant when he was merely ravaging their homes, but it was different now that he was going to be shot. It was bit of fun to them, as it would be to an English crowd; besides, they wanted the meat. It made me vaguely uneasy. I had no intention of shooting the elephant – I had merely sent for the rifle to defend myself if necessary – and it is always unnerving to have a crowd following you. I marched down the hill, looking and feeling a fool, with the rifle over my shoulder and an ever-growing army of people jostling at my heels. At the bottom when you got away from the huts there was a metalled road and beyond that a miry waste of paddy fields a thousand yards across, not yet ploughed but soggy from the first rains and dotted with coarse grass. The elephant was standing eighty yards from the road, his left side towards us. He took not the slightest notice of the crowd’s approach. He was tearing up bunches of grass, beating them against his knees to clean them and stuffing them into his mouth.

I had halted on the road. As soon as I saw the elephant I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him. It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant – it is comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery – and obviously one ought not to do it if it can possibly be avoided. And at that distance, peacefully eating, the elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow. I thought then and I think now that his attack of ‘must’ was already passing off; in which case he would merely wander harmlessly about until the mahout came back and caught him. Moreover, I did not in the least want to shoot him. I decided that I would watch him for a little while to make sure that he did not turn savage again, and then go home.

But at that moment I glanced round at the crowd that had followed me. It was an immense crowd, two thousand at the least and growing every minute. It blocked the road for a long distance on either side. I looked at the sea of yellow faces above the garish clothes – faces all happy and excited over this bit of fun, all certain that the elephant was going to be shot. They were watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a trick. They did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching. And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all. The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly. And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man’s dominion in the East. Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd – seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his \ life in trying to impress the ‘natives’ and so in every crisis he has got to do what the ‘natives’ expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. I had got to shoot the elephant. I had committed myself to doing it when I sent for the rifle. A sahib has got to act like a sahib; he has got to appear resolute, to know his own mind and do definite things. To come all that way, rifle in hand, with two thousand people marching at my heels, and then to trail feebly away, having done nothing – no, that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at.

But I did not want to shoot the elephant. I watched him beating his bunch of grass against his knees, with that preoccupied grandmotherly air that elephants have. It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him. At that age I was not squeamish about killing animals, but I had never shot an elephant and never wanted to. (Somehow it always seems worse to kill a lar^e animal.) Besides, there was the beast’s owner to be considered. Alive, the elephant was worth at least a hundred pounds; dead, he would only be worth the value of his tusks – five pounds, possibly. But I had got to act quickly. I turned to some experienced-looking Burmans who had been there when we arrived, and asked them how the elephant had been behaving. They all said the same thing: he took no notice of you if you left him alone, but he might charge if you went too close to him.

It was perfectly clear to me what I ought to do. I ought to walk up to within, say, twenty-five yards of the elephant and test his behaviour. If he charged I could shoot, if he took no notice of me it would be safe to leave him until the mahout came back. But also I knew that I was going to do no such thing. I was a poor shot with a rifle and the ground was soft mud into which one would sink at every step. If the elephant charged and I missed him, I should have about as much chance as a toad under a steam-roller. But even then I was not thinking particularly of my own skin, only the watchful yellow faces behind. For at that moment, with the crowd watching me, I was not afraid in the ordinary sense, as I would have been if I had been alone. A white man mustn’t be frightened in front of ‘natives’; and so, in general, he isn’t frightened. The sole thought in my mind was that if anything went wrong those two thousand Burmans would see me pursued, caught, trampled on and reduced to a grinning corpse like that Indian up the hill. And if that happened it was quite probable that some of them would laugh. That would never do. There was only one alternative. I shoved the cartridges into the magazine and lay down on the road to get a better aim.

The crowd grew very still, and a deep, low, happy sigh, as of people who see the theatre curtain go up at last, breathed from innumerable throats. They were going to have their bit of fun after all. The rifle was a beautiful German thing with cross- hair sights. I did not then know that in shooting an elephant one should shoot to cut an imaginary bar running from ear-hole to ear-hole. I ought therefore, as the elephant was sideways on, to have aimed straight at his ear-hole; actually I aimed several inches in front of this, thinking the brain would be further forward.

When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the kick – one never does when a shot goes home – but I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd. In that instant, in too short a time, one would have thought, even for the bullet to get there, a mysterious, terrible change had come over the elephant. He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old, as though the frightful impact of the bullet had paralysed him without knocking him down. At last, after what seemed a long time – it might have been five seconds, I dare say – he sagged flabbily to his knees. His mouth slobbered. An enormous senility seemed to have settled upon him. One could have imagined him thousands of years old. I fired again into the same spot. At the second shot he did not collapse but climbed with desperate slowness to his feet and stood weakly upright, with legs sagging and head drooping. I fired a third time. That was the shot that did for him. You could see the agony of it jolt his whole body and knock the last remnant of strength from his legs. But in falling he seemed for a moment to rise, for as his hind legs collapsed beneath him he seemed to tower upwards like a huge rock toppling, his trunk reaching skyward like a tree. He trumpeted, for the first and only time. And then down he came, his belly towards me, with a crash that seemed to shake the ground even where I lay.

I got up. The Burmans were already racing past me across the mud. It was obvious that the elephant would never rise again, but he was not dead. He was breathing very rhythmically with long rattling gasps, his great mound of a side painfully rising and falling. His mouth was wide open – I could see far down into caverns of pale pink throat. I waited a long time for him to die, but his breathing did not weaken. Finally I fired my two remaining shots into the spot where I thought his heart must be. The thick blood welled out of him like red velvet, but still he did not die. His body did not even jerk when the shots hit him, the tortured breathing continued without a pause. He was dying, very slowly and in great agony, but in some world remote from me where not even a bullet could damage him further. I felt that 1 had got to put an end to that dreadful noise. It seemed dreadful to see the great beast lying there, powerless to move and yet powerless to die. and not even to be able to finish him. [ sent back for my small rifle and poured shot after shot into his heart and down his throat. They seemed to make no impression. The tortured gasps continued as steadily as the ticking of a clock.

In the end I could not stand it any longer and went away. [ heard later that it took him half an hour to die. Burmans were arriving with dahs and baskets even before I left, and I was told they had stripped his body almost to the bones by the afternoon.

Afterwards, of course, there were endless discussions about the shooting of the elephant. The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing. Besides, legally I had done the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog, if its owner fails to control it. Among the Europeans opinion was divided. The older men said I was right, the younger men said it was a damn shame to shoot an elephant for killing a coolie, because an elephant was worth more than any damn Coringhee coolie. And afterwards I was very glad that the coolie had been killed; it put me legally in the right and it gave me a sufficient pretext for shooting the elephant. I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool.

New Writing, No. 2, Autumn 1936; Penguin New Writing, No. 1, [November] 1940; broadcast in the B.B.C. Home Service, 12 October 1948; .S.E.; O.R.; C.E.

Posted in ASIA, ENGLAND, ENVIRONMENT, FOREIGN POLICIES, HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LITERATURE, UNITED KINGDOM | Leave a Comment »

AFRICA’S CHINESE CONNECTION AND THE DOWNTURN (South Africa)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Posted to the web on: 27 November 2008

by Greg Mills – (*)

YOU know that it’s a globalised world when the man in front of you on the flight from Hong Kong THE GREAT WALLto Beijing starts a conversation, across several rows of seats, about the fast-bowling merits of Dale Steyn versus those of Morne Morkel — in Afrikaans.

Yet this very phenomenon — of an increasingly integrated world of trade, technology, skills and capital — is not only seen to be under threat due to the global economic crisis, but in the eyes of some is the cause of the crisis.

But that’s not how China sees things, in spite of some loss of export markets because of the credit crunch.

The formula for global economic growth has, over the past two decades , in simple terms, comprised western consumption of cheap Asian goods fuelled by access to cheap credit produced in turn by high Asian savings.

The cheapness of Asian goods relates to their productivity, which is related once again to the number of workers that are joining the global economy — 20-million annually from China’s rural to urban areas, at the last estimate.

Once in the cities they produce (up to three times) more and save more.

The downturn in demand for manufactured goods is likely to hit China hard — just as it has depressed commodity prices, the third leg of the western consumption-Asian thrift formula.

The supply of African oil and minerals has driven up continental growth rates, of course, and radically changed the level of external interest in African affairs.

China has been in part responsible for “globalising” Africa.

In doing so, it has certainly shown African prospects in a different light to the one shone by western firms and governments.

This relationship is represented in a plethora of statistics: In 1980, China’s share of world trade was less than 1%. By 2003 it had risen to 6%, where exports make up one-third of China’s gross domestic product. In 1980 China’s exports were worth less than $20bn. Last year, they exceeded $1-trillion. Such trade largely involves China’s processing of raw materials and the assembly of parts.

China’s trade with Africa has dramatically increased from $11bn in 2000 to $56bn in 2006 and $73bn last year, much of the increase due to oil.

Beijing has an African trade target of $100bn by 2010.

The second-largest global energy importer behind the US, China imported more than 6-million barrels of oil per day in 2006. This figure is expected to double in the next 15 years.

With only half of its energy needs now supplied by domestic sources, Angola has become China’s largest suppler of oil, while Sudan and Nigeria are important investment partners.

China today receives about one-third of its oil imports from Africa, comprising just less than 10% of the continent’s total oil exports. By comparison, the US purchased one-third of a percent of Africa’s total oil exports in 2006.

By 2006, more than 800 Chinese state-owned enterprises were active in Africa, with Chinese firms investing more than $6bn in 900 projects. The following year, China invested $4,5bn in African infrastructure projects alone.

Yet current figures put the downturn in manufacturing order books by more than 50% worldwide. China’s third-quarter growth has dipped to 9% from 12% last year. A loss of markets and growth, potentially compounded by rising labour costs depressing productivity, is a spectre that no Chinese politician fancies.

Beijing believes it will cope with the credit crisis by focusing on substituting its internal market for those lost overseas. Hence the announcement of a $586bn infrastructure stimulus package.

For example, the Chinese government has committed, in the short-term, an extra R1-trillion to railway infrastructure. That will buy a lot of steel, and much else, at current prices.

For this reason, for the moment, China aims to continue with its strategy to secure raw materials from Africa at source, in so doing managing the prospect of input price inflation.

This offers further prospects to African businesses with an appetite for partnership in exploiting the long-term trend of increasing global flows of capital to emerging markets.

But despite its strategy to beef up internal demand, China retains a big stake in globalisation.

Without sizeable external markets it cannot provide for its citizens, with all the economic fallout and political instability that would denote.

For experience teaches that large numbers of job seekers cannot be absorbed by government, or to satisfy local demand. For China, as in Africa, if they cannot find a place for themselves in the global economy, many will not be able to find a place at all.

(*) – Dr Mills heads the Brenthurst Foundation and has been researching in China.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘BUSINESS DAY’ (South Africa)

Posted in CENTRAL BANKS, CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FUELS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, METALS, METALS INDUSTRY, MINING INDUSTRIES, PETROL, RAILWAY TRANSPORT, RECESSION, SOUTH AFRICA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, TRANSPORT INDUSTRIES | Leave a Comment »

VENEZUELA, RUSSIA SAY OIL PRICES MUST STABILISE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Posted to the web on: 27 November 2008

Sapa-AP

CARACAS – Venezuela will support Opec oil production cuts until prices increase, Oil Minister Venezuela's Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez speaks with the media in Caracas, Feb. 8, 2008Rafael Ramirez said yesterday.

During a visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, he said Venezuela will support Opec production cuts of 1-million-barrels per day at Opec’s upcoming meeting on Saturday. But if new cuts are not enough to increase prices, “we will keep cutting until the market stabilises,” he said.

President Hugo Chavez has said he’s proposing Opec countries consider setting a price range for oil to stabilise the global market.

“Let’s look for a band between $80 and $100; we’re thinking about that,” Chavez said Monday.

“We think that price would be a fair price for oil.” Venezuela is a founding member of Opec, which cut production by 1,5-million-barrels per day last month to boost prices.

While Russia is not an Opec member, Chavez has often spoken of the necessity to strengthen relations between Opec and Russia. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev did not respond directly when asked if he would support Chavez’s price band, but said Russia wants “just and stable” oil prices.

“These don’t need to be really low or really high” he said through an interpreter. In Nymex trading, prices for light, sweet crude for January delivery rose slightly to settle at $54,44 a barrel yesterday. Oil prices have recently fallen to a third of their July value.

Among other things, yesterday’s prices were affected by speculation that Russia – one the world’s largest crude producers – may join Opec in output cuts, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said in New Delhi on Tuesday, Press Trust of India news agency reported.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘BUSINESS DAY’ (South Africa)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, FOREIGN POLICIES, FUELS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, OPEC, PETROL, RECESSION, REFINERIES - PETROL/BIOFUELS, RUSSIA, VENEZUELA | Leave a Comment »

FOUR NEW REPORTS REVEAL BATTERED ECONOMY (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Nov 26, 2008 1:54 PM (18 hrs ago)

by Martin Crtsinger, AP

WASHINGTON (Map, News) – The government released a quartet of reports Wednesday that paint a bleak picture of the nation’s economy: Jobless claims remain at recessionary levels, Americans cut back on their spending by the largest amount since the 2001 terrorist attacks, orders to U.S. factories plummeted and new-home sales fell to the lowest level in nearly 18 years.

The Labor Department reported that initial requests for unemployment benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 529,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised figure of 543,000. But claims remain at recessionary levels. The four-week average, which smooths out fluctuations, rose to 518,000, its highest level since January 1983, when the economy was emerging from a steep recession.

One minor bright spot showed the number of people continuing to claim unemployment insurance dropped unexpectedly to 3.96 million, from the previous week’s 4.02 million, which was the highest level in 25 years. The labor market has grown by about half since 1983.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that consumer spending plunged by 1 percent in October, even worse than the 0.9 percent decline that had been expected. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of total economic activity.

Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods also plunged last month by the largest amount in two years. Orders for durable goods dropped by 6.2 percent, more than double the decline economists expected. The Commerce Department report showed widespread declines throughout manufacturing led by decreases in autos and airplanes.

The department also reported that new-home sales decreased 5.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 433,000 homes, the lowest level since January 1991, another period when the country was undergoing a steep housing downturn.

The median price of a new home sold in October fell to $218,000, down 7 percent from a year ago, and the lowest since September 2004.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 50 points in early afternoon trading Wednesday.

With the economy showing further signs that it is headed into a steep swoon, the administration and the Federal Reserve rolled out two new programs Tuesday that would provide up to $800 billion in an effort to get more loans flowing in such critical areas as mortgage lending, credit cards, auto loans and small business loans.

Credit markets liked the new efforts, but private economists said the new moves were not likely Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appears on a television as a trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday Nov. 25, 2008 - AP Photo - Richard Drewto be the last changes in the government’s vast rescue program, which has already undergone significant alterations since it was passed by Congress on Oct. 3.

Analysts believe more work will need to be done because of their expectations that the economy’s vital signs will continue to worsen as the country slips into what many believe could be the worst recession since the early 1980s.

The unemployment rate has hit a 14-year high of 6.5 percent, putting pressure on personal incomes. The government reported Tuesday that the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, shrank at an annual rate of 0.5 percent in the July-September quarter, reflecting the fact that consumer spending fell at the fastest pace in 28 years.

Nariman Behravesh, an economist at IHS Global Insight, said he was expecting GDP to shrink at a 4 percent rate in the current quarter, reflecting the battering consumers are taking from the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. He predicted that the economy would remain in recession through the first half of next year.

“We are in the early stages of one of the worst recessions in the postwar period, even factoring in a massive stimulus program,” Behravesh.

To revive the economy, President-elect Barack Obama has said a top priority will be working with Congress to enact a stimulus package with the goal of creating 2.5 million new jobs over the next two years. Analysts believe such an effort will require spending between $500 billion to $700 billion, a figure that would be on top of all the money being spent to stabilize the financial system.

In the latest efforts to stabilize the financial system, the Federal Reserve announced Tuesday that it will buy $200 billion in securities backed by different types of debt including credit card loans, auto loans, student loans and loans to small businesses. That market essentially froze in October. These types of loans as a result have become harder to obtain and have carried higher interest rates

The Fed also announced that it will spend $500 billion to buy mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and another $100 billion to directly purchase mortgages held by Fannie, Freddie and the Federal Home Loan Banks.

This would greatly expand an initial modest effort announced in September with the goal of creating increased demand for mortgage-related assets. The hope is that this will drive down the price of mortgages and make home loans more available.

Analysts predict the Fed program could send mortgage rates down by as much as one-half to a full percentage point in coming months, helping to spur demand in the beleaguered housing market, which is suffering its worst downturn in decades.

The latest federal moves raised U.S. commitments to contain the financial crisis to nearly $7 trillion – though no one thinks the government will actually spend anything like that figure.

In the case of the Federal Reserve, the amount covers huge loans that financial institutions will have to pay back. In the case of the Treasury rescue effort, the government will at some point sell the stock it owns back to the banks, presumably when the banking system is doing better and the stock will be worth more.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘EXAMINER.COM’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CONSUMERS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

ASSAULT ON THE AMERICAN WORKER

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

24 November, 2008

Posted by lobotero

The events of the past few days have made clear that a proposed $25 billion bailout of the US Businesses in California are lining up to oppose a bill, introduced by Assembly member Fiona Ma, requiring paid sick leave for workersBig Three auto companies is being used to intensify the ruling class offensive against auto workers and the American working class as a whole.

In an entirely cynical manner, the media and politicians of both parties are issuing pseudo-populist denunciations of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler while seizing on the near-collapse of the companies as an opening to rip up union contracts and destroy workers’ pensions, health benefits, wages and working conditions. This is to be the centerpiece of a ruthless restructuring of the industry, involving the closure of more factories and the destruction of tens of thousands more jobs. The aim is to provide, in the form of a far smaller and more highly exploitative industry, a source of profitable investment for Wall Street bankers and speculators.

The destruction of auto jobs and gutting of all that remains of the gains won by generations of auto workers since the mass sit-down strikes of the 1930s will be used as a precedent for similar attacks on workers in every sector of the economy and every part of the country. As with the Chrysler bailout of 1979-80, but on a far broader and even more brutal scale, mass unemployment will be used as a weapon to bludgeon the working class.

Whether through the bankruptcy courts or a bailout bill conditioned on unprecedented concessions — which the United Auto Workers (UAW) will accept and help impose — the workers are to be forced to labor for near-poverty wages and be stripped of basic health and retirement benefits.

President-Elect Barack Obama, for his part, has solidarized himself with demands for sweeping contract concessions, declaring that any auto bailout be contingent on the industry’s future “viability.” Among his chief economic advisers is Paul Volcker, the former Wall Street banker who was appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve by Democratic President Jimmy Cater and engineered a massive rise in unemployment, which was used to break the power of the unions and undermine the resistance of the working class to layoffs and wage cuts. The Chrysler bailout was carried out during his tenure at the Fed.

There is only one way to save the workers from the assaults they are sure to face. And that is?

There is only one policy that can defend the interests of auto workers and the working class as a whole. That is a socialist policy of nationalizing the auto industry and transforming it into a publicly owned enterprise under the democratic control of working people. This must be carried out in conjunction with the nationalization of the banks under public control, so that economic life can be based on the principle of production for human need, not private profit.

The design, engineering and manufacture of automobiles involve tens of millions of people around the world and vast natural, financial and human resources. The only way to guarantee decent living standards for all workers and to end destructive national competition is to unite auto workers internationally on the basis of a socialist program.

I know Irene…not what you want to hear, but put yourself in the place of an autoworker….what would you do to preserve your job?

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘LOBOTERO’S INFO INK’

Posted in AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

LIST OF TROUBLED BANKS GROWS BY 50 PERCENT (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Published: Nov 26, 2008 12:30 AM – Modified: Nov 26, 2008 02:05 AM

The Associated Press

NEW YORK – The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday that the list of banks it considers FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair cites 'profound problems.'to be in trouble shot up nearly 50 percent to 171 during the third quarter.

The 171 banks on the FDIC’s “problem list” encompass only about 2 percent of the nearly 8,500 FDIC-insured institutions. “We’ve had profound problems in our financial markets that are taking a rising toll on the real economy,” said FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair.

The FDIC said total assets held by troubled institutions climbed from $78.3 billion to $115.6 billion — a figure that suggests that the nation’s top 20 banks aren’t on the list. The FDIC does not reveal the names of the institutions it deems troubled.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEWS & OBSERVER’ (USA)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, USA | Leave a Comment »

CHINA SHARES UP AS ROAD-BUILDING PLANS REVEALED

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Published: Nov 26, 2008 03:44 AM

The Associated Press

SHANGHAI, China – China’s shares edged up Wednesday for the first time in five sessions, led by In July 7, 2008 photo, an investor looks at a stock price board at a private securities' company in Shanghai, China. Chinese shares fell sharply Friday, Aug. 8, 2008, on heavy selling of airlines and other market heavyweights, as investors and analysts puzzled over why expectations of a rally linked to the Beijing Olympic games never materialized. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index sank 4.5 percent, or 122.81 points, to 2,605.16. The Shenzhen Composite Index of China's smaller, second market dropped 5.6 percent to 74transportation and steel stocks after the government announced road-building plans under a stimulus package.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended up 0.5 percent, or 9.17 points, to close at 1897.88. The Shenzhen Composite Index for China’s smaller second exchange rose 0.6 percent to 535 points.

Trading was thin, reflecting the market’s search for direction after a rally – prompted by Beijing’s Nov. 9 announcement of its stimulus package – faded, analysts said.

“If the policies become clearer, the euphoria could continue,” said Huang Xiangbin, an analyst for Cinda Securities.

Stocks in toll road operators and steel makers rose after the Ministry of Transport said it would spend 1 trillion yuan ($146 billion) on building highways and rural roads as part of the stimulus.

The package is meant to help shield China from the global downturn by pumping money into the economy through higher spending on construction, tax cuts and aid to the poor.

Guangxi Wuzhou Communications Ltd. advanced by the daily limit of 10 percent to 4.62 yuan, while Jiangxi Ganyue Expressway Co. jumped 2.9 percent to 8.15 yuan.

Steel stocks rose after iron ore supplier BHP Billiton Ltd. dropped its bid for rival Rio Tinto Group, which eased concerns that a tie-up would give the mining group too much leverage to raise prices.

Baoshan Iron & Steel Ltd., China’s biggest steel maker, gained 3.9 percent to 5.02 yuan. Anshan Iron and Steel Group rose 6 percent to 7.1 yuan.

Real estate stocks rose on expectations of a possible interest rate cut, despite comments by a central bank deputy governor who said the current level is appropriate.

China Vanke Ltd., the country’s biggest developer, climbed 3.7 percent to 6.8 yuan, and rival Poly Real Estate Group rose 2.6 percent to 17.38 yuan.

In currency markets, China’s yuan weakened to 6.8282 to the U.S. dollar in over-the-counter trading around 0800 GMT, down from Tuesday’s close of 6.8220.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEWS & OBSERVER’ (USA)

Posted in CHINA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, MACROECONOMY, ROAD TRANSPORT, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, TRANSPORT INDUSTRIES | Leave a Comment »

BAILOUTS: $7 TRILLION AND RISING – Every day brings more news about the government’s efforts to fix the economy. Here is how the plans are taking shape

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Last Updated: November 26, 2008: 3:29 PM ET

by David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The U.S. government is now willing to spend more than $7 trillion BURNING DOLLARS AND WASTING MONEY WITH THE BAILOUT PLANSto help rescue the economy. That’s about $23,000 for every American, and more than half of U.S. annual gross domestic product.

It’s a staggering and unprecedented amount of money. The last time the government went on a spending spree to cure a crisis was in the late 1980s and 1990s during the savings and loan crisis. But the $160 billion ($237 billion in today’s dollars) it spent then comes nowhere close to what’s being spent now.

But it may not be as bad as it seems: A substantial portion of that $7 trillion is investment, the government hasn’t spent close to the total allotment yet, and the taxpayer may come out on top in the end.

“It’s a lot of money, but it’s not like it’s out the door, never to be seen again,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “A lot will be lost, but we’re not going to lose anywhere close to $7 trillion.”

The government has invested about $3 trillion of the total allotment, and it has already received much of that investment back. For instance, the Fed has gotten back about $1.2 trillion of the $1.6 trillion it has lent banks in its ongoing Term Auction Facility.

The government collects interest on its loans and when it takes an equity stake in a company or takes hold of an asset-backed security, those holdings could mature in value over the duration of the government’s possession of them.

“At the end of the day, it’s an expensive plan, but the government had to step in,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia. “It’s a difficult thing to estimate, but the government could sell the assets at a decent price once the market’s better.”

Furthermore, some of the $7 trillion will likely never be spent. The government can spend up to $1.4 trillion in purchases of short-term business debt under the Fed’s Commercial Paper Funding Facility, but so far it has spent just $270 billion on the program.

Pessimists say the government is spending too much, putting taxpayer dollars at risk. Some say, that for all the government has spent, the results don’t match the actions.

But optimists argue that much of the bailout serves as a guardrail, preventing the financial system from falling into a total collapse. And most economists argue that the cost of not acting would be far greater.

“We’re doing this to prevent a financial collapse,” said Baker. “Not acting would be much worse, because the financial system would grind to a halt.”

More bailout measures still may be coming, as economists say the serious problems facing financial institutions have not yet subsided.

“More banks will likely fail, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the FDIC has to go to Congress to get recapitalized,” said Baker. “There’s lots more bad debt that has yet to show up.”

There’s also a growing chorus of voices outside of Treasury to spread bailout money around.

The recent struggles of GM (GM, Fortune 500), Ford (F, Fortune 500) and Chrysler have built momentum for a bailout of the U.S. auto industry. Automakers have until Dec. 2 to submit proposals for how they would use – and pay back – $25 billion of government funding. The Bush administration has said it does not want a Detroit bailout to come from TARP funds.

Some government officials like FDIC Chair Sheila Bair have called for TARP money to be used to guarantee mortgages backed by private lenders to encourage them to restructure loans to troubled homeowners.

And President-elect Barack Obama has stated his support for another economic stimulus package in the form of tax rebates to consumers, states and municipalities. Economists believe the bill will cost about $500 billion. The proposal has gained traction in Congress, with hopes that consumer spending and aid to governments will help boost the economy.

Here is how the government has thus far invested billions of dollars to rescue banks, companies, consumers and their homes.

SAVING WALL STREET

The government has taken these steps to aid financial institutions.

Term-auction facility: $1.6 trillion in loans to banks so far in exchange for otherwise unwanted collateral. The Fed increased its monthly auction limit to $300 billion in October, up from $20 billion when the Fed began the program.

Dollar swap lines: Unlimited dollars to 13 foreign central banks to provide liquidity to foreign financial institutions. The Fed lifted its cap after raising it to $620 billion in October from $24 billion in December.

Bear Stearns: $29 billion in a special lending facility to guarantee potential losses on its portfolio. With the lending facility, JPMorgan was able to step in to save Bear from bankruptcy.

Lending to banks: $70 billion lent on average every day to investment banks, after facility opened to non-commercial banks for first time in March. $92 billion a day to commercial banks.

Cash injections: $250 billion allocated to banks from $700 billion rescue package in exchange for equity stake in the financial institutions in the form of senior preferred shares.

Citigroup: $300 billion in troubled asset guarantees and $45 billion in cash-injections to prevent fourth-largest bank from failing.

Fed rate cuts: Down to 1% in October 2008, from 5.25% in September 2007.

SAVING MAIN STREET

Consumers are benefiting from the government’s actions in recent months.

Stimulus checks: $100 billion in stimulus checks made their way to 140 million tax filers to boost consumer spending and help grow the economy.

Unemployment benefits: $8 billion toward an expansion of unemployment benefits, to 39 weeks from 26 weeks. Some states must now offer 39-week benefits after an extension act was passed in November.

Bank takeovers: $15.5 billion drawn down so far from the FDIC’s deposit insurance fund after 22 bank failures in 2008.

Rehab foreclosed homes: $4 billion to states and municipalities in assistance to buy up and rehabilitate foreclosed properties.

Student loan guarantees: $9 billion so far in government purchases of student loans from private lenders. Higher borrowing costs made student loans unprofitable for a number of lenders, many of whom stopped issuing the loans.

Money-market guarantees: $50 billion in insurance for money-market funds. The Fed then began to lend an unlimited amount of money to finance banks’ purchases of debt from money-market funds. The Fed then agreed to purchase up to $69 billion in money-market debt directly. In October, the Fed said it would loan up to $600 billion directly to money-market funds, which was extended for six months in November.

Housing rescue: $300 billion approved for insurance of new 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages for at-risk borrowers. The bill includes $16 billion in tax credits for first-time home buyers. But lenders have been slow to sign on.

Deposit insurance: $250,000 in insurance for interest-bearing accounts, up from $100,000. The FDIC also issued unlimited guarantees on non-interest- bearing accounts and newly issued unsecured bank debt.

Consumer loans: $800 billion extended to consumer loan-backed securities, including $200 billion for assets backed by credit cards and car loans and $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities. The Fed will also buy $100 billion of Fannie Mae and Freddie debt to try to make loans cheaper.

SAVING CORPORATE AMERICA

Uncle Sam has intervened to help companies in the following ways.

Business stimulus: $68 billion in tax breaks to corporations to help loosen the stranglehold on businesses trying to finance daily operating expenses.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac: $200 billion to bail out the mortgage finance giants. Federal officials assumed control of the firms and the $5 trillion in home loans they back.

AIG: $152.5 billion restructured bailout, including a direct investment through preferred shares, a easier terms on a $60 billion loan, and new facilities meant to take on the companies exposure to credit-default swaps.

Automakers: $25 billion in low-interest loans to speed the industry’s transition to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Commercial paper facility: $271 billion in corporate debt purchased so far by the Fed since its so-called Commercial Paper Funding Facility opened. The Fed allocated $1.4 trillion for the program.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘CNN’

Posted in AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, CONSUMERS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

AUTO INDUSTRY BAILOUT CONUNDRUM (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

20 November 2008 at 12:20 pm

by muddledblog

The political tides keep changing for and against providing the auto industry with government loans to keep them from bankruptcy. The U.S. auto industry thinks that a $25 Billion no strings attached loan should be enough to solve their problems. Personally, I doubt it. It has become fairly apparent that the U.S. auto industry has been badly managed and bloated and that they will need to get even more money to keep themselves from bankruptcy in the future. There are two options, use bankruptcy to allow the companies to reorganize or give them loans and hope they figure out how to be competitive in a global market place. None of these seem to be good options. One of the first things to go in bankruptcy would be the pension and health care benefits of their retirees which seems unfair. Further, the more profitable sections are likely to be auctioned off leaving a company with very little to compete with. On the other hand, the loans are also unlikely to result in a competitive company. The issue is that these companies have way too much liabilities in their union contracts, pension and health care benefits for retirees, and contracts with dealerships to be able to become competitive without some sort of renegotiation of those liabilities.

What I find interesting is that if the government passed a universal single payer health care insurance system, then the one of the major liabilities that prevents the U.S. auto industry, in fact the U.S. manufacturing industry as a whole, from being globally competitive would be removed. I wonder just how much it would cost compared to just giving out billions of dollars in loans. Sure our taxes would go up, but so would our pay checks since our employers would no longer have to pay huge health insurance premiums.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘MUDDLED BLOG’

Posted in AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

MEDIDAS GARANTEM LIQUIDEZ PARA QUE BANCOS CONTINUEM A EMPRESTAR (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

26 de Novembro de 2008

Na edição de hoje, o Em Questão apresenta o segundo tema da série “Enfrentando a crise global”, em que aborda as medidas tomadas para fornecer liquidez no mercado interbancário nacional e destravar o crédito.

No Brasil, apesar de os bancos não apresentarem problemas de solvência, foi sentido o reflexo da falta de crédito mundial. Como a edição de ontem do Em Questão mostrou, a crise mundial levou à contração do crédito em todo o mercado financeiro. A quebra de bancos e as perdas bilionárias anunciadas por instituições financeiras dos Estados Unidos e de países da União Européia difundiram um clima de incerteza por todo o mundo. Com isto, as outras instituições deixassem de emprestar, levando ao encarecimento do crédito.

Para enfrentar este quadro, as principais mudanças aconteceram na regulamentação do compulsório (depósito que os bancos são obrigados a recolher ao Banco Central) com o objetivo de aumentar os recursos em circulação. Até o dia 18 de novembro, o Banco Central estima que o mercado interbancário foi irrigado com R$ 85 bilhões.

Compulsório – A primeira medida, anunciada no dia 24 de setembro, adiou o recolhimento do compulsório em títulos federais sobre Depósitos Interfinanceiros captados de sociedades de arrendamento mercantil (leasing). O que liberou R$ 8 bilhões de liquidez no mercado interbancário. As outras medidas ampliaram, primeiramente, de R$100 milhões para R$ 300 milhões e depois de R$ 300 milhões para R$ 1 bilhão o valor a ser deduzido pelas instituições financeiras do cálculo da exigibilidade adicional sobre depósitos a prazo, depósitos de poupança e recursos à vista, liberando outros R$ 8 bilhões. E ampliação de R$ 300 milhões para R$ 700 milhões e, posteriormente, de R$ 700 milhões para R$ 2 bilhões o valor a ser deduzido pelas instituições financeiras do cálculo do recolhimento compulsório de depósitos a prazo, feito em títulos públicos, liberando R$ 13,1 bilhões de liquidez.

Além disso, foram reduzidas de 8% para 5% as alíquotas usadas para o cálculo da exigibilidade adicional sobre depósitos à vista e depósitos a prazo das instituições financeiras, permitindo a liberação de R$ 16,9 bilhões. E redução da alíquota de exigibilidade do recolhimento compulsório sobre recursos à vista de 45% para 42%, com impacto estimado de R$ 3,6 bilhões; e do recolhimento compulsório sobre os depósitos à vista para instituições financeiras que adiantarem contribuições mensais ao Fundo Garantidor de Crédito (entidade privada que garante os depósitos bancários no Brasil).

Foi dada ainda permissão para que as instituições financeiras possam deduzir do cumprimento de exigibilidade de recolhimento compulsórios de depósitos interfinanceiros, os valores de operações de aquisição de moeda estrangeira junto ao Banco Central, com volume liberado estimado de até R$ 20 bilhões.

Compra de carteiras – No início de outubro, foi dada autorização para instituições financeiras abaterem do recolhimento compulsório sobre depósitos a prazo (cuja alíquota é de 15%) o valor de aquisição de operações de crédito de outras instituições financeiras com patrimônio de referência de até R$ 7 bilhões. E o valor da dedução é limitado até 70% do total do compulsório sobre depósitos a prazo. Tal medida tem impacto estimado na liquidez de R$ 29,5 bilhões.

Outra mudança importante, que pode direcionar mais recursos para operações de compra de carteira e de outros ativos, foi feita na forma de recolhimento do compulsório sobre depósitos a prazo: antes da medida, o recolhimento era feito 100% em títulos públicos (com remuneração) e, a partir do dia 14 de novembro, passou a ser feito 30% em títulos públicos e 70% em espécie, sem remuneração.

Editado pela Secretaria de Comunicação Social da Presidência da República
Nº 733a – Brasília

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘EM QUESTÃO’ (Brasil)

Posted in A PRESIDÊNCIA, BANCO CENTRAL - BRASIL, BRASIL, COMÉRCIO - BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, FLUXO DE CAPITAIS, O MERCADO FINANCEIRO, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, O SISTEMA BANCÁRIO - BRASIL, RECEITA FEDERAL - BRASIL | Leave a Comment »

WEAPONS COME SECOND (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Middle East – Nov 27, 2008

by Frida Berrigan

Even saddled with a two-front, budget-busting war and a collapsing economy, Barack Obama may THE PENTAGON FROM WITHINbe able to accomplish a lot as president. With a friendly Congress and a relieved world, he could make short work of some of the most egregious overreaches of the George W Bush White House – from Guantanamo to those presidential signing statements. For all the rolling up of sleeves and “everything is going to change” exuberance, however, taking on the Pentagon, with its mega-budget and its mega-power, may be the hardest task he faces.

The mega-Pentagon

Under Bush, military spending increased by about 60%, and that’s not including spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Eight years ago, as Bush prepared to enter the Oval Office, military spending totaled just over US$300 billion. When Obama sets foot in that same office, military spending will total roughly $541 billion, including the Pentagon’s basic budget and nuclear warhead work in the Department of Energy.

And remember, that’s before the “war on terror” enters the picture. The Pentagon now estimates that military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost at least $170 billion in 2009, pushing total military spending for Obama’s first year to about $711 billion (a number that is mind-bogglingly large and at the same time a relatively conservative estimate that does not, for example, include intelligence funding, veterans’ care, or other security costs).

With such numbers, it’s no surprise that the United States is, by a multiple of nearly six, the biggest military spender in the world. (China’s military budget, the closest competitor, comes in at a “mere” $120 billion.) Still, it can be startling to confront the simple fact that the US alone accounts for nearly half of all global military spending – to be as exact as possible in such a murky area, 48% according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. That’s more than what the next 45 nations together spend on their militaries on an annual basis.

Again, keep in mind that war spending for 2009 comes on top of the estimated $864 billion that lawmakers have, since 2001, appropriated for the Iraq war and occupation, ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, and other activities associated with the “war on terror”. In fact, according to an October 2008 report by the Congressional Research Service, total war spending, quite apart from the regular military budget, is already at $922 billion and quickly closing in on the trillion dollar mark.

Common sense cuts?

Years late, and with budgets everywhere bleeding red, some in Congress and elsewhere are finally raising questions about whether this level of spending makes any sense. Unfortunately, the questions are not coming from the inner circle of the president-elect.

Democratic Representative Barney Frank drew the ire and consternation of hardline Republicans and military hawks when, in October, he suggested that Congress should consider cutting defense spending by a quarter. That would mean shaving $177 billion, leaving $534 billion for the US defense and war budget and maintaining a significant distance – $413 billion to be exact – between United States and our next “peer competitor”. Frank told a Massachusetts newspaper editorial board that, in the context of a struggling economy, the Pentagon will have to start choosing among its many weapons programs. “We don’t need all these fancy new weapons,” he told the staff of the New Bedford Standard Times. Obama did not back him up on that.

Even chairman of the House Appropriations Sub-committee on Defense, Democrat John Murtha, a Congressman who never saw a weapons program he didn’t want to buy, warned of tough choices on the horizon. While he did not put a number on it, in a recent interview he did say: “The next president is going to be forced to decrease defense spending in order to respond to neglected domestic priorities. Because of this, the Defense Department is going to have to make tough budget decisions involving trade-offs between personnel, procurement and future weapons spending.”

And now, Obama is hearing a similar message from the Defense Business Board, established in 2001 by secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld to give advice to the Pentagon. A few weeks ago, in briefing papers prepared for president-elect Obama’s transition team, the board, hardly an outfit unfriendly to the Pentagon, argued that some of the Defense Department’s big weapons projects needed to be scrapped as the US entered a “period of fiscal constraint in a tough economy”. While not listing the programs they considered knife-worthy, the board did assert that “business as usual is no longer an option”.

Desperate defense

Meanwhile, defense executives and industry analysts are predicting the worst. Boeing chief executive officer Jim McNerney wrote in a “note” to employees, “No one really yet knows when or to what extent defense spending could be affected, but it’s unrealistic to think there won’t be some measure of impact.” Michael Farage, Sikorsky’s director of air force programs, was even more colorful: “With the economy in the proverbial pooper, defense budgets can only go down.”

Kevin G Kroger, president of a company making oil filters for army trucks, offered a typical reaction: “There’s a lot of uncertainty out there. We’re not sure where the budgets are going and what’s going to get funded. It leaves us nervous.”

It’s no surprise that, despite eight years of glut financing via the “war on terror”, weapons manufacturers, like the automotive Big Three, are now looking for their own bailout. For them, however, it should probably be thought of as a bail-up, an assurance of yet more good times. Even though in recent years their companies have enjoyed strong stock prices, have seen major increases in Pentagon contracts, and are still looking at boom-time foreign weapons sales, expect them to push hard for a bottom-line guarantee via their holy grail – a military budget pegged to the gross domestic product (GDP).

“We advocate 4% of the GDP as a floor for defense spending. No question that has to be front and center for any new president’s agenda,” says Marion Blakey, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group representing companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

Listening to defense industry figures talk, you could get the impression that the Pentagon’s larder was empty and that the pinching of pennies and tightening of belts was well underway. While the cuts suggested by the Defense Business Board report got a lot of attention, the Pentagon is already quietly laying the groundwork to lock the future Obama administration into a possibly slightly scaled-down version of the over-the-top military spending of the Bush years.

Business as usual?

At the beginning of October, the Pentagon’s latest five-year projection of budget needs was revealed in the Congressional Quarterly. These preliminary figures – the full request should be released sometime next month – indicate that the Pentagon’s starting point in its bargaining with the new administration and Congress comes down to one word: more.

The estimates project $450 billion more in spending over those five years than previously suggested figures. Take fiscal year 2010: the Pentagon is evidently calling for a military budget of $584 billion, an increase of $57 billion over what they informed Bush and Congress they would need just a few months ago.

Unfortunately, when it comes to military spending and defense, the record is reasonably clear – Obama is not about to go toe-to-toe with the military-industrial-complex.

On the campaign trail, his stump speech included this applause-ready line suggesting that the costs of the war in Iraq are taking away from important domestic priorities: “If we’re spending $10 billion a month [in Iraq] over the next four or five years, that’s $10 billion a month we’re not using to rebuild the US, or drawing down our national debt, or making sure that families have health care.”

But the “surge” that Obama wants to shift from Iraq to Afghanistan is unlikely to be a bargain. In addition, he has repeatedly argued for a spike in defense spending to “reset” a military force worn out by war. He has also called for the expansion of the size of the army and the marines. On that point, he is in complete agreement with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. [1]

They even use the same numbers, suggesting that the army should be augmented by 65,000 new recruits and the marines by 27,000. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these manpower increases alone would add about $10 billion a year – that same campaign trail $10 billion – to the Pentagon budget over a five-year period.

The word from Wall Street? In a report entitled “Early Thoughts on Obama and Defense”, a Morgan Stanley researcher wrote on November 5, “As we understand it, Obama has been advised and agrees that there is no peace dividend … In addition, we believe, based on discussions with industry sources that Obama has agreed not to cut the defense budget at least until the first 18 months of his term as the national security situation becomes better understood.”

In other words: Don’t worry about it. Obama is not about to hand the secretary of defense a box of brownie mix and order him to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.

Smarter, not more, military spending

Sooner rather than later, the new administration will need to think seriously about how to spend smarter – and significantly less – on the military. Our nose-diving economy simply will no longer support ever-climbing defense budgets.

The good news is that the Obama administration won’t have to figure it all out alone. The contributors to Foreign Policy In Focus’s new Unified Security Budget have done a lot of the heavy lifting to demonstrate that some of the choices that need to be made really aren’t so tough. The report makes the case for reductions in military spending on outdated or unproven weapons systems totaling $61 billion. The argument is simple and straightforward: these expensive systems don’t keep us safe. Some were designed for a geopolitical moment that is long gone – like the F-22 meant to counter a Soviet plane that was never built. Others, like the ballistic missile defense program, are clearly meant only to perpetuate insecurity and provoke proliferation.

To cut the military budget more deeply, however, means more than canceling useless, high-tech weapons systems. It means taking on something fundamental and far-reaching: America’s place in the world. It means coming to grips with how we garrison the planet, with how we use our military to project influence and power anywhere in the world, with our attitudes towards international treaties and agreements, with our vast passels of real estate in foreign lands, and, of course, with our economic and political relationships with clients and competitors.

As a candidate, Obama stirred our imagination through his calls for a “new era of international cooperation”. The United States cannot, however, cooperate with other nations from atop our shining Green Zone on the hill; we cannot cooperate as the world’s sole superpower, policeman, cowboy, hyperpower, or whatever the imperial nom du jour turns out to be. Bottom line: we cannot genuinely and effectively cooperate while spending more on what we like to call “security” than the next 45 nations combined.

A new era in Pentagon spending would have to begin with a recognition that enduring security is not attained by threat or fiat, nor is it bought with staggering billions of dollars. It is built with other nations. Weapons come second.

Note

1. According to media reports on Wednesday, Gates on Tuesday night accepted Obama’s offer to remain as defense secretary.

Frida Berrigan is a senior program associate at the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative (ASI). She is a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus and a contributing editor at In These Times. In early December, ASI will release “Weapons at War 2008: Beyond the Bush Legacy”, co-authored by Berrigan and William D Hartung, an examination of US weapons sales and military aid to developing nations, conflict zones and nations where human rights are not safeguarded. Email berrigan@newamerica.net if you would like a copy of the executive summary.

(Copyright 2008 Frida Berrigan.)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘ASIA TIMES’ (Hong Kong)

Posted in AL QAEDA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE WORK MARKET, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

OCEANS’ ACIDITY THREATENING CORAL AND MUSSEL SURVIVAL (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

4:00AM Wednesday Nov 26, 2008

by Steve Connor

Rising carbon dioxide levels are increasing acidity in the oceans faster than scientists thought, Species such as the threadfin butterfly fish will suffer if coral dies off - Photo - NZ Heraldposing a greater threat to shell-forming creatures such as coral and mussels.

An eight-year project in the Pacific has found that rising marine acid levels will challenge many organisms, because their shell-making chemistry is critically dependent on a less acidic, more alkaline environment.

The study monitored seawater pH levels at the northeast Pacific island of Tatoosh off Washington state in the United States.

Timothy Wootton, from Chicago University, said scientists found that acidity levels rose at more than 10 times the rate predicted by computer models designed to study the link between atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and ocean acidity.

Atmospheric CO2 levels have increased by about 100 parts per million since the start of the industrial revolution and are now at their highest point in at least 650,000 years.

About a third of man-made CO2 emissions has dissolved into the oceans.

As CO2 dissolves in seawater, it forms carbonic acid, which lowers the ocean’s alkalinity and pH level, making it more acidic.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted last year that most coral reefs would disappear by the century’s end because of rising temperatures and ocean acidity.

However, this latest study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the rate of ocean acidification may be far higher than the rate used by the IPCC scientists in their assessment of future prospects for shell-forming marine creatures such as corals.

Professor Wootton said: “An alarming surprise is how rapidly pH has declined over the study period … These data point to the urgency of obtaining a globally extensive set of ocean pH data through time, and suggest that our understanding of ocean pH may be incomplete.

“The results showed that variation on ocean pH through time was most strongly associated with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, which supports the prediction that increasing release of CO2 to the atmosphere leads to ocean acidification.”

The study was unusual in that it looked at acidity in the ocean’s intertidal region, inhabited by shell-forming creatures such as barnacles and mussels. Professor Wootton said there was a shortage of data on ocean acidification, especially in non-tropical regions, which this study addressed.

“Our study reveals the strongest negative impacts of declining pH are on several species of particular importance in large calcifying mussels and goose barnacles.

“This finding illustrates several reasons why the effects of declining ocean pH are of general concern, as these species create critical habitats for other coastal species, are important players in coastal nutrient processing, and reflect the more general risks to shellfish harvesting.”

– INDEPENDENT

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD’

Posted in ENVIRONMENT, USA | 1 Comment »

KANSAS FEEDYARDS SEE SHARP DECLINE IN CATTLE (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Posted on Tue, Nov. 25, 2008

by Roxana Hegeman – The Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. – At a time when the consumer appetite for beef is waning amid the economic downturn, the number of cattle going into feedlots in Kansas and across the nation also has taken a steep dive.

The latest cattle-on-feed statistics come at a time of high input costs for fattening the beef and deep losses for the nation’s cattle-feeding industry.

On Monday, the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported that the state had 2.23 million head of cattle in its large feedyards as of Nov. 1. That number is down 8 percent from the same month a year ago, but up 3 percent from last month.

Cattlemen during October also placed 15 percent fewer cattle on feed, meaning the available slaughter supply will remain tight in the coming months. The number of animals leaving the feedyard for slaughter was down 12 percent in October, compared with the same month last year in Kansas.

At Hitch II feeders, assistant manager Dale Nicodemus said the feedyard near Garden City is running at less than three-fourths full. The feedyard has a capacity of 45,000 head.

“At this time of year that is significant. Most of the time we are jammed full at this time of the year,” Nicodemus said.

Some of the smaller feedyards , those with a capacity of fewer than 1,000 head of cattle , are empty and for sale, he said.

“Normally we are very full this time of year. The fall run was very small this year , almost nonexistent,” Nicodemus said.

He blamed the smaller numbers of cattle coming into the yard in part to a wetter year in Kansas that has allowed cattle to remain on grazing longer and to drought conditions elsewhere that have forced producers to cut the size of their herds.

The Kansas numbers were reflective of trends nationwide.

The U.S. inventory of cattle and calves on feed totaled 11 million head on Nov. 1, down 7 percent from the same month last year. Placements nationwide during October were down nearly 11 percent below 2007 to 2.44 million cattle, while the number of animals leaving the feedyard for slaughter were down 3 percent from last year to 1.81 million cattle.

While cattle supplies have tightened a little more than the industry was expecting before the report came out, the big story remains what is happening to the demand side, said James Mintert, a Kansas State University economist.

Industry experts say the economic downturn may continue to affect the demand for beef, particularly more expensive cuts such as tenderloin, as cash-strapped consumers turn to cheaper cuts or to chicken or pork.

Prices for tenderloin at the beginning of July were running about the same as a year ago. Two weeks ago, they were 28 percent to 32 percent below last year. They recovered slightly in the past week and are now running about 12 percent to 13 percent below a year ago.

“That is indicative at the wholesale level of buyers backing away from high-valued cuts because they were concerned about their ability to market to consumers in an environment where everybody is worried about their income, everybody is worried about what is happening to their asset values,” Mintert said.

Those cattle industry concerns also are reflected in the futures market. Since Labor Day, live cattle futures have dropped $20 a hundredweight because of concerns about domestic and export demand, Mintert said.

“We hope that demand can rebound when the economy starts to grow again,” said Todd Domer, spokesman for the Kansas Livestock Association. “Nobody knows when and if we’ve reached bottom yet.”

***

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) , North Dakota’s Mill and Elevator reported a $12 million loss during July, August and September, which its manager said was the largest quarterly loss in the 86-year history of the state-owned mill.

Vance Taylor, the mill’s general manager, blamed the loss on large price swings for hard red spring wheat last spring, along with turbulence in the futures markets , which the mill has used to limit its financial risks , and a decline in flour demand.

In its last budget year, which ended June 30, the mill lost $821,607. It was the flour mill’s first annual loss since 1994.

William Wilson, a North Dakota State University economics professor, told the state Industrial Commission on Monday that grain market volatility is likely to continue for three to five years.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS’ (USA)

Posted in CATTLE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, USA | Leave a Comment »

ANALYSTS’ PICKS: RELIANCE INDUSTRIES – MERRILL LYNCH RETAINS ‘BUY’ RATING ON RELIANCE INDUSTRIES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 26, 2008

24 Nov 2008, 0552 hrs IST, ET Bureau

RESEARCH: MERRILL LYNCH

RATING: BUY

CMP: Rs 1,127

MERRILL Lynch has retained it ‘buy’ rating on Reliance Industries (RIL). Its refining margin has consistently been higher than the benchmark Singapore complex refining margin. Analyses suggests RIL’s superior refining margin is due to its ability to refine heavier crude than Dubai. Compared to the last refining downturn, RIL is set to benefit more in FY10-FY 11E from its ability to refine heavier crude.

Reliance Petroleum’s (RPL) refinery, which is expected to start operations soon, can process even heavier crude than RIL and has a superior product slate. The average discount of Arab heavy to Dubai since FY01 is $2.4/bbl. The discount has sustained at over $5/bbl even in the past six weeks, despite the slump in oil prices.

Merrill Lynch estimates RPL’s refining margin at $12.9/bbl if it were to operate in Q3 FY09, vis-à-vis Singapore margin of $7.3/bbl. It will produce more gasoline than RIL. Gasoline cracks have always been at a premium to naphtha and LPG cracks. Merrill Lynch feels that a weakening in diesel and gasoline cracks is the main risk to RPL attaining such high margins when it begins operations.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ECONOMIC TIMES’ (India)

Posted in COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, FINANCIAL MARKETS, GASOLINE, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, PETROL, REFINERIES - PETROL/BIOFUELS, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

MINING BILL WOULD TRIM EPA POWER – Pollution variances might be up to ODNR – A new bill would strip the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency of its power to limit water pollution from coal mines (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 3:07 AM

by Spencer Hunt

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

The bill, to be introduced in the Ohio Senate this week, would transfer the EPA’s authority to grant coal companies permits to pollute water and to fill streams to mining officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

It also would give mining regulators a six-month deadline to approve or deny new mine plans. Sen. Timothy Grendell, R-Chesterland, sponsored the bill and said the EPA and Natural Resources officials often take years to review coal companies’ plans. That puts Ohio at risk of losing new mines and jobs to coal states such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“We’re placing coal-mining jobs in jeopardy,” he said. “I’m confident the Department of Natural Resources can be a good steward of the environment and also make the right decisions to keep the coal-mining industry a viable part of Ohio’s economy.”

Grendell said his bill is similar to a 2001 state law that transferred Ohio EPA regulatory powers over large livestock farms to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Environmentalists said they believe the bill actually is meant to help one mining company, Murray Energy Corp., build a 1.85 billion-gallon coal slurry pond in Belmont County.

The EPA denied the permit.

“This is about one dissatisfied customer,” said Jack Shaner, lobbyist with the Ohio Environmental Council. “Unfortunately, this (bill) will open a door for all coal companies and their permits.”

Murray Energy wants to dam Casey Run, a 2-mile-long stream in Belmont County, to replace an old slurry pond that dates to the 1970s. The Casey Run site would hold as much as 1.85 billion gallons of wastewater from two washing plants.

In April, the EPA said the coal slurry would threaten nearby Captina Creek, home to the endangered eastern hellbender salamander.

The company is appealing and has said that without the lagoon, it would have to close two mines and lay off about 1,000 workers.

Rob Murray, a Murray Energy vice president, said in an e-mailed statement that the bill “has absolutely nothing to do with the Casey Run issue.”

Mike Carey, director of the Ohio Coal Association, said mining companies need a one-stop shop to quickly get the permits they need to open new mines.

“This is something we’ve been talking about for years,” Carey said.

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Fazekas said the agency eliminated a backlog of permit requests in September and now handles mining company permit requests within six months.

shunt@dispatch.com

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’ (USA)

Posted in COAL, ECONOMY - USA, ENVIRONMENT, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, MINING INDUSTRIES, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, USA | 1 Comment »

LOCKED OUT (UK)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 26, 2008

Wednesday November 26 2008 00.01 GMT

Editorial guardian.co.uk

The Guardian

This financial crisis began with housing, and any hope of its ending must lie with housing. That THE HOUSING MARKETdoes not just mean house prices finding some kind of bottom, but also would-be homeowners being able to get fairly priced mortgages, and securing a more stable supply of new homes. Consumers naturally focus on the prices quoted by estate agents, but yesterday both the government and the Bank of England were more worried about getting banks to lend. That is a big question in need of an urgent answer, but it is only one part of the housing puzzle. Until all the bits are solved, this boom and bust will be repeated over and over again.

Just how important is housing? Consider this. Politicians have spent the past couple of days arguing over the government’s £21bn boost to the economy. That is a big number, but it is dwarfed by what is going on in the mortgage market. There, last year’s net total of £108bn of new home loans has shrunk to around £40bn this year and could fall below zero next year. What was a hundred-billion-pound business will shrink to nearly nothing. No wonder Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, told MPs yesterday that getting banks to lend “was more important than anything else at present”. Without that, he warned, “a steep recession” beckoned.

How to end the mortgage drought? Alistair Darling appointed Sir James Crosby, the former head of HBOS, to suggest ideas. His final report was published on Monday and went (understandably) underreported, but its recommendations are eye-popping. In the summer he was equivocal about government intervention; this time he is emphatic. He suggests that Mr Darling should help get the banks themselves greater access to finance that can then be passed on to would-be homebuyers. At the bubble’s peak nearly two-thirds of mortgage lending came not from deposits, but via money markets – which are nearly frozen. The Crosby report suggests that the government should auction its services as a guarantor to banks seeking to tap into financial markets. In return, the government must require that the funds go into new mortgages.

Like so much else the government has done over the past weeks, this a big, bold gamble – and Mr Darling is right to take it. True, matters have not been helped by the government’s arm’s-length management of the part-nationalised banks, when what is needed is much more hands-on direction of lending. But banks are themselves struggling to raise money to lend. This scheme could help ease the problem and Mr Darling is right to adopt it.

Still, there is a vast chasm between a technical scheme drawn up by a financier and a policy taken up by a government. That difference can be summed up in one word: vision. The short-term priority must be to allow the property bubble to deflate in as orderly a fashion as possible so as not to send further shocks through an already traumatised economy. But over the longer term, house prices must come down and orgiastic lending and wild property speculation must be curbed.

The challenge for Mr Darling is to manage this transition. What he must not do is restore the housing market to some kind of health, only for it all to soar away again. That means ministers changing their minds on what housing is for. Gordon Brown has long believed that as many people as possible should own their homes: “a home-owning, asset-owning, property-owning democracy” was his slogan. But housing is a public good: having enough houses at fair prices ultimately matters to any society that needs teachers and nurses. To turn property into a private asset is to court bubbles, buy-to-let madness and supply problems. This financial crisis has raised many questions over where the boundary between public and private interest should lie. The housing bubble is no different.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘LIBERTY STREET’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INTERNATIONAL, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, UNITED KINGDOM | Leave a Comment »

CABRISAS: LA ECONOMÍA NO PODÍA SEGUIR FUNCIONANDO COMO UN CASINO – Cabrisas en su participación en la cumbre del Alba, resaltó la incapacidad de los países de Europa y Estados Unidos de contribuir con las solicitudes de los organismos internacionales, para la ayuda de los países en vía de desarrollo, pero ”en pocos días fue capaz de invertir más de 30 millones de millones para salvar a los banqueros”

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 26, 2008

TeleSur – Hace: 01 hora

El primer vicepresidente del Consejo de Ministros de Cuba, Ricardo Cabrisas indicó con relación a El primer vicepresidente del Consejo de Ministros de Cuba, Ricardo Cabrisasla crisis económica mundial que “la economía no puede seguir funcionando como un casino”.

Según Cabrisas el sistema económico funcionaba “para el beneficio de unos pocos especuladores y el sufrimiento para el 80 por ciento de la población del planeta”.

Las declaraciones fueron emitidas durante su participación en la reunión de los países del ALBA que se realiza este miércoles en la capital de Venezuela y donde se realiza un debate para buscar la respuesta de esta organización regional a la crisis financiera mundial.

Sobre la crisis destacó que “se trata de la crisis del orden económico mundial injusto, sin equidad alguna, sobre el cual se apoya en buena medida el orden social y político más injusto de nuestra época”

Asímismo indicó que esta crisis no es la repetición de otras anteriores, “ni siquiera de aquella que, en los años 30 del siglo 20, se conoció como la gran depresión, en la actualidad la crisis económica se acompaña de otros variados rostros de crisis, como la energética, la alimentaria, ecológica y por supuesta la social”

Cabrisas explicó que “La crisis actual tiene lugar cuando la globalización de la economía mundial es más extensa e intensa que nunca antes.”

Calificó la crisis como un reto a la capacidad de los humanos: “Ésta va más allá del neoliberalismo y de la crisis misma, para convertirse en un reto a la capacidad de los humanos para salvar la especie – mediante la construcción de un mundo mejor que éste – de las recurrentes y devastadoras crisis económicas, de la suicida destrucción del medio ambiente, de la guerra global del exterminio”.

De igual manera denunció que “el plan de rescate del Gobierno de Bush y el plan de rescate europeo priorizan el de los especuladores y banqueros que fueron declarados fracasados por el mercado. En pocos días han destinado unos tres millones de millones de dólares para salvar la estructura especulativa fracasada, pero durante décadas no fueron capaces como grupo de cumplir siquiera el compromiso contraído de destinar el 0,7 por ciento del Producto Interno Bruto para la ayuda oficial del desarrollo”.

” Y el país más rico de todos retrocedió en los años del gobierno de Bush hasta apenas el 0,2 por ciento en pocos días han destinado unos tres millones de millones de dolares para salvar la estructura especulativa fracasada pero durante décadas” enfatizó el Cabrisas.

De igual manera denunció la falta de cooperación económica para atender los reclamos de la FAO en el intento de mejorar la producción agrícola en el tercer mundo.

“Ni fueron capaces de reunir entre todos 20 mil millones para cumplir con el programa de educación para todos de la UNESCO o apenas 10 mil millones para resolver los problemas de salud reproductivas de las mujeres de los países pobres solicitada por la OMS”, destacó

Enfatizó que el reto requiere de un amplio y bien preparado debate, con la participación de todos los países sin exclusiones, el sistema monetario internacional surgido en Breton Woods “basado en el papel privilegiado del dólar de EE.UU es un factor central en el nudo de contradicciones de la actual crisis económica”

En cuanto a los conflictos que mantiene EE.UU. reflexionó: “Hacer fabulosos gastos militares sin aumentar impuestos es como una aspiradora que absorbe alrededor de tres mil millones de dólares diarios del resto del mundo para sostener sus déficit y consumismo”.

Realzó el papel de los países miembros del ALBA y su propuesta a la crisis, “hemos optado por una formula avanzada de relación basada en la solidaridad, en la cooperación, en las ventajas compartidas y en la sensibilidad para encontrar solución a la deuda social acumulada en contra de los pueblos”.

“La más importante contribución de América Latina y los países del caribe pueden hacer a la comprensión de la naturaleza de esta crisis global y reducir su impacto es la efectiva integración regional no basada en el lucro del mercado no atrapada por la especulación financiera no diseñada para que los países de menor desarrollo queden rezagados”.

El vicepresidente cubano, Ricardo Cabrisas, relató que ” Durante casi 50 años, sucesivos gobiernos norteamericanos intentaron ahogar a la Revolución Cubana imponiéndole el bloqueo económico más largo, intenso y con mayor desproporción de fuerzas entre el bloqueador y el bloqueado que registre la historia. Pretendieron imponerle al pueblo cubano una situación económica tan severa que lo asfixiara y obligara a rendirse”.

Destacó la contribución de Cuba en base a su dura experiencia por el bloqueo económico ejercido por Estados Unidos contra la Isla “nuestra modesta experiencia de resistencia y creación y nuestra sincera voluntad de trabajar por el ALBA y por una América Latina y el Caribe integrados y unidos”.

TeleSUR / fc / PLL

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘TeleSur’ (Venezuela)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, CUBA, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

FOR A BETTER FINANCIAL ORDER – Chinese leaders and scholars suggest reforms to strengthen the international financial system

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 26, 2008

November-26-2008 NO. 48 NOV. 27, 2008

by Ding Ying

As the international financial crisis plunges many countries into economic turmoil, China’s relatively stable economic growth is reassuring to the international community.

As a result, the world is paying more and more attention to China’s opinions about the ongoing crisis and possible solutions. Chinese leaders and economists recently made a series of suggestions for reforming the current international financial system.

China’s efforts

Chinese President Hu Jintao participated in the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy held on November 15 in Washington, D.C., where he delivered a speech calling for international cooperation to get through this “difficult moment.”

In his speech, Hu clearly stated the Chinese stance on international financial reform. “Reform of the international financial system should aim at establishing a new international financial order that is fair, just, inclusive and orderly and fostering an institutional environment conducive to sound global economic development,” he said.

The Chinese Government has taken many measures to safeguard economic development and financial stability. After the crisis began, China made timely adjustments to its policies and strengthened macroeconomic regulation, Hu said. These adjustments included lowering the bank required reserve ratio, lowering interest rates and easing corporate tax burdens. Hu also promised to play a “constructive role” in restoring the international financial system and suggested four key reforms: increased international cooperation in financial supervision, reform of international financial organizations, increased regional financial cooperation and diversification of the international monetary system.

As the world’s most populous developing country, China would make an important contribution to international financial stability and world economic growth simply by maintaining steady economic growth, the president said. Several days before the summit, China announced a 4-trillion-yuan ($586 billion) economic stimulus plan. Observers believe that the plan, which concentrates on stimulating domestic consumption in China, may restore confidence in world economic development.

In a November 16 Xinhua report, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi outlined five achievements that came from Hu’s participation in the financial summit. First, he met with other G-20 leaders to discuss the root causes of the financial crisis and possible solutions and reforms, which they described in a joint statement. Second, Hu introduced measures the Chinese Government has taken to safeguard economic growth and financial stability. Third, he helped guide the direction of international financial reform. Fourth, Hu called for international efforts to help developing countries. Finally, Hu promoted China’s bilateral relationships with several countries by meeting with their leaders during the summit.

Cooperation, not competition

Chinese economists also had opinions on the current world economic situation. They provided suggestions for reforming the international financial system and maintaining economic and financial stability in China.

Zhang Ming, a researcher from the Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in World Affairs on November 16 that there were resemblances between the current international economic and financial situation and the Great Depression. The U.S. dollar has been greatly weakened by the subprime mortgage crisis, but the euro is struggling as well. “The supreme financial structure is on the edge of collapse,” he said.

The countries affected by the crisis have two options, Zhang said. One is to unite and cope with the crisis together by building new international financial and monetary systems, which could cushion the U.S. dollar’s fall. The other is for each country to look out for itself, which might cause discord and competition among the largest economies and lead the dollar system to collapse completely.

“The latter way further undermines the global economic and financial order. Then a new crisis, or even wars, will break out,” said Zhang, arguing the world must join hands to deal with the current financial crisis.

Regarding international monetary reform, independent economist Xiang Songzuo said in Elite Reference on November 16 that there is little possibility the International Monetary Fund will be recast as the world’s central bank. Instead, the crisis might cause new regional currencies to emerge. “Influential currencies, like the euro, yen and the renminbi, can play an important role in stabilizing regional economies,” he said.

Su Jingxiang from the Center for Globalization Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said in People’s Daily that since the financial sector is the weak point of the Asian economy, Asian countries must enhance both regional and global cooperation. He said that based on the foreign reserves held by China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN members, Asia could become a leader in international financial fields. “Only through strengthened cooperation can China protect its interests well and perform its function better in the international cooperative system,” Su said.

“China’s top priority is to deal with the crisis with caution and run its own business well,” said Xiang Lanxin, an observer of world affairs, in Global Times. Xiang urged China to promote domestic demand over exports in its response to the crisis. Massive exports could push other countries into trade protectionism and make China a target of international criticism.

Highlights of the G-20 Financial Summit

Leaders attending the G-20 financial summit agreed on an action plan to combat the current financial crisis on November 15 in Washington, D.C. After discussing the reasons behind the current crisis, the leaders issued a statement pledging to “enhance our cooperation and work together to restore global growth and achieve needed reforms in the world’s financial systems.”

The leaders agreed that the current financial system has vulnerabilities such as weak underwriting standards, unsound risk management practices, increasingly complex and opaque financial products, and consequent excessive leverage.

Further, inconsistent and insufficiently coordinated macroeconomic policies, inadequate structural reforms and unsustainable global macroeconomic outcomes are the combined elements that resulted in the current financial crisis.

The leaders stressed that free market principles, including the rule of law, respect for private property, open trade and investment, competitive markets, and efficient, well-regulated financial systems, are essential to economic growth.

They vowed to take “strong and significant actions” to reform current financial systems, stimulate their economies, provide liquidity, strengthen the capital of financial institutions, protect savings and deposits, address regulatory deficiencies, unfreeze credit markets and ensure that international financial institutions can provide critical support to the global economy.

The plan is based on five principles: strengthening transparency and accountability, enhancing sound regulation, promoting integrity in financial markets, reinforcing international cooperation and reforming international financial institutions. The principles have been broken down into immediate and medium-term actions to be taken by March 31, 2009.

The leaders also agreed to meet again by April 30, 2009, to review the plan’s implementation.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘BEIJING REVIEW’ (China)

Posted in CHINA, DOLLAR (USA), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, G20, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »