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UNILEVER WITHDRAWS FROM AN ISRAELI SETTLEMENT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

Sunday, November 30

UNILEVER PRESS RELEASE PUBLISHED BY ‘WINDOW INTO PALESTINE’

PRESS RELEASE – November 27th 2008

United Civilians for Peace (UCP) welcomes Unilever’s decision to divest from a factory based in an illegal Israeli settlement on the West Bank. This decision comes in a period in which UCP and Unilever Netherlands are engaged in a constructive dialogue about Unilever’s presence in Barkan. UCP and Unilever discussed the ethical considerations with regards to investment in settlements and Unilever’s responsibilities within the framework of Corporate Social Responsibility.

In 2006, a report by United Civilians for Peace concluded that the Anglo-Dutch multinational owns a 51% share in Beigel & Beigel, a pretzel and snacks factory. This factory is located in Barkan, an industrial zone in Ariel, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Last Wednesday, Unilever announced their decision to divest from Beigel & Beigel.

Since the publication of the report “Dutch economic links in support of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and/or Syrian territories” in 2006, UCP has advocated the departure of Unilever from the settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This resulted in a constructive dialogue with Unilever Netherlands and UCP research into the legal and ethical implications of Unilever’s investment in Beigel & Beigel.

The research document titled: “Improper Advantage: A Study of Unilever’s investment in an illegal Israeli settlement” concludes that:

– The land of the UNILEVER NETHERLANDSBarkan industrial zone was confiscated from surrounding Palestinian villages by a military order issued by the Israeli Defence Force issued in 1981, and declared “state land”. International Law prohibits the confiscation of occupied land not for military purposes.

– Because the factory is located in an illegal settlement, Unilever complies with violation of Palestinian human rights and the structural discrimination of Palestinian workers.

– Beigel & Beigel benefits from subsidies that are allocated by the Israeli government to the industrial zones in the settlements. Also, the factory has been guaranteed a state grant for a plan of expansion.

The report was available as of Friday November 28th.

UCP congratulates Unilever with their decision to divest. This important and constructive step shows that Unilever takes serious both the provisions of international law as well as its Corporate Social Responsibility. Israeli settlements form a major obstacle to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the industrial zones play an important economic role in maintaining these settlements.

Not for publication:

For more information and to request a copy of the report “Improper Advantage: A Study of Unilever’s investment in an illegal Israeli settlement”, please contact Merijn de Jong (United Civilians for Peace) +31(0)30-8801581 / +31(0)6-27249753 or merijn.de.jong@unitedcivilians.nl

The report is available as of Friday November 28th. (http://www.unitedcivilians.nl)

United Civilians for Peace (UCP) is a Dutch platform that strives for a just solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. UCP is a joint initiative of Oxfam Novib, Cordaid, ICCO and IKV Pax Christi.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘WINDOW INTO PALESTINE’

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INTERNATIONAL, ISRAEL, NETHERLANDS, PALESTINE, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

MORE SUBURBS, MORE CARS – THE RIGHT’S WAR ON REGULATORS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

December 1, 2008

by Alan Farago PUBLISHED BY ‘COUNTERPUNCH’

“Anatomy of a CARTOON BY FRED HUBNERMeltdown” in the recent edition of The New Yorker ((Dec 1, 2008) begins, “Some are born radical. Some are made radical. And some have radicalism thrust upon them.” The article goes on at length to explore the rapid evolution of the federal response to the financial crisis, through which formerly free market acolytes in the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve responded with the most sweeping federal intervention in US economic history. It occurs that the point about radicalism is largely missed.

The radicalism distilled through the last decade is the idea that government is the problem. It is an idea that hacked at the foundation of democracy; in the conduct of war, in the repression of individual freedom, in the safety of our air and water, and America’s standing in the world.

The idea that government is the problem is at the heart of the Republican Reformation that began in the 1994 Congressional mid-term elections and propelled Bush political fortunes in Tallahassee and Washington, DC. Its dominant strain defined Republican values; a cause for war against government lead by Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and conservative foundations that still supply bankrupt ideas as intellectual capital.

Then Florida Governor Jeb Bush articulated the cause for war in his 2003 inauguration address when he said: “There will be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society than if we can make these buildings around us empty of workers; as silent monuments to the time when government played a larger role than it deserved or THE REGULATORS - Stephen Kingcould adequately fill.”

The workers he meant to get rid of– the meaning was clear to the invited audience– were regulators. And, mainly, environmental regulators. The Bush assault against environmental regulations represented the high water mark for a Forty Year War; exhausting itself not through any act of environmentalism but because of the financial crisis, triggered by the suppression of regulations. Still, the war is visible most clearly in places like South Florida where the trampling of rules and intimidation of regulators goes on throughout local government without criticism or penalty.

Today General Motors Corp.’s board is meeting in Detroit to discuss a rescue plan to present to Congress that may determine, according to Bloomberg News, “if Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner can save the company and keep his job.” I wonder why the board of directors of GM should keep their jobs.

Among GM’s board of directors is Miami’s Armando Codina, who brought Jeb Bush into the real estate industry where he made his fortune and is one of George W. Bush’s strongest supporters. Codina joined the GM board in 2002. According to the GM website, Codina is also a board director of Merrill Lynch.

The fall of GM has its roots in a business model that no one dared to criticize beyond environmentalists who for decades pleaded with Congress and the states to clamp down on selling private ownership of cars and trucks by the pound of metal; the more pounds, the more profit for auto manufacturers, oil producers and gasoline distributers, and production home builders.

More suburbs, more cars. What this easy-to-grasp formula fails to capture is how fiscal stewardship of the largest publicly owned corporations used the mantra “government is the problem” to avoid regulation and spurn protections of the environment while encouraging the proliferation of unsustainable credit based on toxic derivatives; the undoing of Merrill and trillions of value now disappeared.

Today, the Wall Street Journal speculates on whether Rick Wagoner, GM chief, will be able to keep his job. Its fretting is directed to the legacy cost of pensions, healthcare, executive compensation and union agreements hammered out in times when even union leaders could ignore the peril of financial gerrymandering. If taxpayers bail out GM, its board of directors should be asked to leave by Congress, as should the boards of any publicly held that receive the blessing of free market economic ministers now turned radical government interventionists.

Alan Farago writes on the environment and politics from Coral Gables, Florida

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PUBLISHED BY ‘COUNTERPUNCH’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, DOLLAR (USA), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, 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 »

O JAPÃO DEIXOU O BRASIL A VER NAVIOS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

01/12/2008 14:36

PUBLISHED BY ‘BLOG OF ZÉ DIRCEU’ (Brasil)

José Dirceupor José Dirceu

A TV digital completa, amanhã, um ano de funcionamento no Brasil. Nesse um ano seu sinal só chegou, por enquanto, a cinco capitais, mas a promessa é de que até 2016, dentro de mais 8 anos, portanto, estará em todo o Brasil.

Há um ano, em meio a muitas pressões, acirrada disputa de americanos, europeus e asiáticos e intensa polêmica que cercava a opção que o Brasil faria, o país escolheu o padrão japonês, mediante a solene promessa dos vencedores de que instalariam aqui uma fábrica de semicondutores que, além de suprir o mercado, absorveria mão de obra de forma intensiva, tanto direta, quanto pela cadeia de produção de componentes.

Agora, passado um ano, é o caso de se repetir uma expressão comum no interior brasileiro, a que “perguntar não ofende”, e fazer a clássica e elementar indagação: cadê a fábrica de semicondutores que os japoneses iam implantar no Brasil, parte do pacote acertado com eles pelo país ter optado pelo padrão japonês?

Nada, até agora nenhum tijolo, nenhum bloco de pré-molddado da prometida fábrica. Pelo contrário, os japoneses já anunciaram oficialmente que não a implantarão aqui. Como ficamos? Nenhuma cobrança, nenhuma providência vai ser adotada?

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BLOG OF ZÉ DIRCEU’ (Brasil)

Posted in A INDÚSTRIA DA COMUNICAÇÃO, BRASIL, CIDADANIA, COMÉRCIO - BRASIL, DEFESA DO CONSUMIDOR - BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, INDÚSTRIA DE ELETRO-ELETRÔNICOS, INDÚSTRIAS, INTERNATIONAL, JAPAN, MINISTÉRIO DAS COMUNICAÇÕES, O MERCADO IMPORTADOR, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, OS MEIOS DE COMUNICAÇÃO - BRASIL, POLÍTICA EXTERNA - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES COMERCIAIS INTERNACIONAIS - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES DIPLOMÁTICAS - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES INTERNACIONAIS - BRASIL | Leave a Comment »

“OOPS, WE MEANT $7 TRILLION!” – WHAT HANK AND BEN ARE UP TO AND HOW THEY PLAN TO PAY FOR IT ALL (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

November 30th, 2008

by Ellen Brown PUBLISHED BY ‘WEB OF DEBT’

“We make money the old fashioned way. We print it.” – Art Rolnick, Chief Economist for the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank

The $700 billion that was arm-twisted from Congress by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in October was evidently just the OPScamel’s nose under the tent. According to a November 24 Bloomberg report, the Paulson/Bernanke team is now prepared to pay $7.76 trillion to rescue the financial system.[1] Prepared to pay how? Congress has not raised its debt ceiling to anywhere near that level; but the approval of Congress, which originally voted down the controversial $700 billion bailout, is apparently no longer necessary. The door has been opened, and the Treasury Secretary and Fed Chairman feel they can now pledge whatever they want. Perhaps they are inching up a zero at a time just to see what the public’s tolerance is for unrepayable debt. The new sum – $7.76 trillion – represents $25,000 for every citizen in the country, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year; yet it’s not clear that a mere half of our net worth will rescue the financial system. One bankrupt bank after another has been bailed out with public money, in a futile effort to prevent a collapse of a massive multi-trillion dollar derivatives pyramid created by the banks.[2] But according to the Comptroller of the Currency, U.S. commercial banks now carry over $180 trillion in derivatives on their books. The public is liable to be bankrupted before this mess is resolved.

On top of the $700 billion initially extorted from Congress, an additional $2 trillion in loans and commitments has already been made by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury. Yet that wall of money has not kept the imperiled banks from collapsing. Citigroup was one of the nine lucky recipients of Paulson’s largesse in October, when he set out to recapitalize the banks by trading dollars for shares. The bank received $25 billion from the Treasury; yet this handout was insufficient to keep its stock from dropping below $4 a share. Citigroup was then bailed out by the Treasury to the tune of another $20 billion, along with a commitment to guarantee $306 billion in toxic assets on its books. That equals half the $700 billion bailout, just for one bank; yet Citigroup’s books, which sport derivative bets of $37 trillion, won’t look much better than before.

Meanwhile, commentators are scratching their heads over where the money is supposed to come from to pay for all this. Congress hasn’t approved these multi-trillion dollar sums, and the Federal Reserve doesn’t HANK PAULSONshow them on its books. Some clues to this mystery came on November 25, when according to The New York Times:

“In the first of two new actions . . . , the Treasury and the Fed said they would create a $200 billion program to lend money against securities backed by car loans, student loans, credit card debt and even small-business loans. The Treasury would contribute $20 billion to the so-called Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility and assume responsibility for any losses up to $20 billion. The Federal Reserve would lend the new entity as much as $180 billion. The new facility would then lend money at low rates to companies that post collateral based on securities backed by consumer debt or business loans.”[3]

It appears that the $20 billion in Treasury money will be serving as the “reserves” to create $200 billion in credit on the books of the Fed and its network of banks. Ten to one is the reserve requirement established by the Federal Reserve for private bank lending under the “fractional reserve” system. The New York Fed has now deleted its earlier discussion of this process from its website, but as it explained the money-creating process in 2004:

“Reserve requirements . . . are computed as percentages of deposits that banks must hold as vault cash or on deposit at a Federal Reserve Bank. . . . As of June 2004, the reserve requirement was 10% on transaction deposits [deposits immediately available to depositors]. . . . If the reserve requirement is 10%, for example, a bank that receives a $100 deposit may lend out $90 of that deposit. If the borrower then writes a check to someone who deposits the $90, the bank receiving that deposit can lend out $81. As the process continues, the banking system can expand the initial deposit of $100 into a maximum of $1,000 of money ($100+$90+81+$72.90+ . . . =$1,000).”[4]

In a revealing booklet called “Modern Money Mechanics,” the Chicago Federal Reserve detailed how fractional reserve lending allows money to “expand.” The booklet is now out of print, perhaps because it revealed too much; but it is still available on the Internet. On page 11 of the booklet is a helpful chart (above), which shows that the original deposit is not actually “lent” but remains in the bank throughout the expansion process. What is lent is an additional sum created on the bank’s books valued at 90 percent of the original deposit. Then another sum is lent that is 90 percent of the second deposit, and so forth, until the total sum generated is 10 times the original deposit, with tidy sums collected in interest at each step along the way.

The November 25 New York Times article continued:

“The Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., made it clear that the new lending facility was just a ‘starting point’ BEN BERNANKEand could be expanded to many other kinds of debt, like commercial mortgage-backed securities. . . . It was the first time that the Fed and the Treasury have stepped in to finance consumer debt. The $200 billion program comes close to being a government bank.”

A government bank that makes credit available to all qualified borrowers is not a bad idea. It would seem to be a more useful idea than manipulating interest rates, the conventional tool used by the Federal Reserve to regulate the money supply. When Paul Volcker raised interest rates to 20% in 1980, he bankrupted much of the Third World; and when Alan Greenspan lowered the short-term interest rate to 1% in 2001, he precipitated the housing and derivatives bubbles that are bankrupting the U.S. today. A government-owned bank that put credit into the economy in an open, accountable and impartial way could be just what the doctor ordered. The problem is, the Federal Reserve isn’t government-owned (it is owned by a consortium of private banks[5]); and it is not distributing the public credit openly and impartially. The Fed has kept the recipients of its largesse largely secret (something Bloomberg News is currently suing about under the Freedom of Information Act[6]). However, it is clearly favoring its banking cronies over consumers.

Note that the “consumer debt” the Fed is now supposedly financing does not consist of loans directly to consumers. The loans are to lenders holding consumer debt (“companies that post collateral based on securities backed by consumer debt or business loans”). Like with subprime mortgages, lenders have pushed credit cards and student loans onto anyone who would take them, because the lenders had no intention of keeping those risky loans on their books. They intended to package them up as “securities” and sell them to investors. But the investors are catching onto this scam and are no longer buying; so the Fed is stepping in to underwrite the debt, advancing “credit” created on its books with accounting entries. When these loans are not paid back, we the taxpayers pick up the tab, either directly or through the “hidden tax” of inflation. The benefit goes to the lenders, who get off scot-free for their risky ventures, while the people bear the risk and pick up the losses.

If these investments are too risky for investors, they should also be too risky for the “government bank.” We don’t need more consumer debt to keep the economy going. We need more wages and salaries, and that means more jobs. Rather than propping up the “finance” industry (the business of money making money), the Fed should be furnishing low-interest loans directly to businesses, state and local governments and other qualified members of the producing economy.

Watching the Paulson/Bernanke bailout scenario unfold is a bit like watching the end of the Charlton Heston movie El Cid, where the Spaniards prop up their dead general on his horse and charge the Moors, giving the illusion that the champion is still alive and leading them. In this case, what they are propping up are not national heroes but banking pretenders who are not only unnecessary but have established their incompetence at managing the banking business. Congress could avoid this costly masquerade by either nationalizing the Federal Reserve or setting up its own publicly-owned lending facility, one that created credit on its books just as private banks do now and made it available openly, impartially, and at modest interest rates to all qualified borrowers. Unqualified borrowers should be denied, and that includes insolvent private banks, which should be put into FDIC receivership, had their books washed clean in bankruptcy, and reorganized as truly “national” banks advancing the “full faith and credit of the United States” for the benefit of the people of the United States.

Ellen Brown, J.D., developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her eleven books include the bestselling Nature’s Pharmacy, co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker, and Forbidden Medicine. Her websites are http://www.webofdebt.com and http://www.ellenbrown.com.

[1] Mark Pittman, Bob Ivry, “U.S. Pledges $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit,” Bloomberg.com (November 25, 2008).

[2] See Ellen Brown, “It’s the Derivatives, Stupid! Why Fannie, Freddie and AIG All Had to Be Bailed Out,” http://www.webofdebt.com (September 18, 2008).

[3] Edmund Andrews, “U.S. Details $800 Billion Loan Plans,” New York Times (November 26, 2008).

[4] Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “Reserve Requirements,” http://www.ny.frb.org/aboutthefed/fedpoint/fed45.html (June 2004).

[5] See Ellen Brown, “The Fed Now Owns the World’s Largest Insurance Company – But Who Owns the Fed?”, http://www.webofdebt.com (October 7, 2008).

[6] Mark Pittman, et al., “Fed Denies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose,” Bloomberg.com (November 10, 2008).

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PUBLISHED BY ‘WEB OF DEBT’

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

DETERMINATION OF THE DECEMBER 2007 PEAK IN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

PUBLISHED BY THE ‘NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH’ (USA)

The Business Cycle National Bureau of Economic ResearchDating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met by conference call on Friday, November 28. The committee maintains a chronology of the beginning and ending dates (months and quarters) of U.S. recessions. The committee determined that a peak in economic activity occurred in the U.S. economy in December 2007. The peak marks the end of the expansion that began in November 2001 and the beginning of a recession. The expansion lasted 73 months; the previous expansion of the 1990s lasted 120 months.

A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in production, employment, real income, and other indicators. A recession begins when the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends when the economy reaches its trough. Between trough and peak, the economy is in an expansion.

Because a recession is a broad contraction of the economy, not confined to one sector, the committee emphasizes economy-wide measures of economic activity. The committee believes that domestic production and employment are the primary conceptual measures of economic activity.

The committee views the payroll employment measure, which is based on a large survey of employers, as the most reliable comprehensive estimate of employment. This series reached a peak in December 2007 and has declined every month since then.

The committee believes that the two most reliable comprehensive estimates of aggregate domestic production are normally the quarterly estimate of real Gross Domestic Product and the quarterly estimate of real Gross Domestic Income, both produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In concept, the two should be the same, because sales of products generate income for producers and workers equal to the value of the sales. However, because the measurement on the product and income sides proceeds somewhat independently, the two actual measures differ by a statistical discrepancy. The product-side estimates fell slightly in 2007Q4, rose slightly in 2008Q1, rose again in 2008Q2, and fell slightly in 2008Q3. The income-side estimates reached their peak in 2007Q3, fell slightly in 2007Q4 and 2008Q1, rose slightly in 2008Q2 to a level below its peak in 2007Q3, and fell again in 2008Q3. Thus, the currently available estimates of quarterly aggregate real domestic production do not speak clearly about the date of a peak in activity.

Other series considered by the committee—including real personal income less transfer payments, real manufacturing and wholesale-retail trade sales, industrial production, and employment estimates based on the household survey—all reached peaks between November 2007 and June 2008.

The committee determined that the decline in economic activity in 2008 met the standard for a recession, as set forth in the second paragraph of this document. All evidence other than the ambiguous movements of the quarterly product-side measure of domestic production confirmed that conclusion. Many of these indicators, including monthly data on the largest component of GDP, consumption, have declined sharply in recent months.

The committee’s primary role is to maintain a monthly chronology of the business cycle. For this purpose, the committee mainly relies on monthly indicators. It also considers quarterly indicators and maintains a quarterly chronology. In its deliberations, the committee relied on a number of monthly and quarterly economic indicators published by government agencies. The Appendix to this announcement lists these indicators and their sources. The Appendix also describes the calculations required to reproduce the series that the NBER committee examined in its deliberations.

The Month of the Peak

The committee identified December 2007 as the peak month, after determining that the subsequent decline in economic activity was large enough to qualify as a recession.

Payroll employment, the number of filled jobs in the economy based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ large survey of employers, reached a peak in December 2007 and has declined in every month since then. An alternative measure of employment, measured by the BLS’s household survey, reached a peak in November 2007, declined early in 2008, expanded temporarily in April to a level below its November 2007 peak, and has declined in every month since April 2008. For a discussion of the difference between payroll and household survey employment measures, see Mary Bowler and Teresa L. Morisi, “Understanding the Employment Measures from the CPS and CES Surveys,” Monthly Labor Review, February 2006, pp. 23–38.

The committee uses real personal income less transfer payments from the Bureau of Economic Analysis as a monthly measure of output. The deduction of transfer payments places the data closer to the desired measure, real gross domestic income. To adjust personal income less transfer payments from nominal to real terms (that is, to remove the effects of price changes), the committee uses the deflator for gross domestic product. Because this deflator is only available quarterly, the committee interpolates the published series to approximate a monthly price index for GDP. The resulting monthly measure of real personal income less transfers is an imperfect measure of monthly real output because of definitional differences between personal income less transfers and gross national income and because we use the interpolated price index. Our measure of real personal income less transfers peaked in December 2007, displayed a zig-zag pattern from then until June 2008 at levels slightly below the December 2007 peak, and has generally declined since June.

Real manufacturing and wholesale-retail trade sales from the Census Department is another monthly indicator of output. It is an imperfect measure of the production of goods and services for at least three reasons. First, it covers only goods and not services. Second, it does not deduct the sales of imported goods. Because the real value of imports declined substantially over the relevant period, the measure understates the growth of output. Third, the government does not publish a price index corresponding to the coverage of the measure. The committee uses the same interpolated GDP deflator as discussed above. Real manufacturing and wholesale-retail trade sales reached a well-defined peak in June 2008.

The last monthly measure of production is the Federal Reserve Board’s index of industrial production. This measure has quite restricted coverage—it includes manufacturing, mining, and utilities but excludes all services and government. Industrial production peaked in January 2008, fell through May 2008, rose slightly in June and July, and then fell substantially from July to September. It rose somewhat in October with the resumption of oil production disturbed by hurricanes in the previous month. The October value of the industrial production index remained a substantial 4.7 percent below its value in January 2008.

The committee noted that the behavior of the quarterly estimates of aggregate production was not inconsistent with a peak in late 2007. The income-side estimate of output reached its peak in the third quarter of 2007. The product-side estimate reached a temporary peak in the same quarter, but rose to a higher level in the second quarter of 2008.

The Quarter of the Peak

The committee determined that the peak quarter of economic activity was the fourth quarter of 2007. When the monthly peak occurs in the last month of a quarter, the NBER’s long-standing procedures dates the quarterly peak either in the quarter containing the monthly peak or in the subsequent quarter. Thus, the committee could have dated the quarterly peak in 2008Q1 if it had determined that economic activity was higher in that quarter than in 2007Q4. However, the committee determined that this was not the case. Most notably, both payroll employment and the income-side estimate of domestic production were lower in 2008Q1 than in 2007Q4, and the product-side estimate of domestic production was only slightly higher. The committee found that the peak quarter was the one containing the peak month, 2007Q4.

Further Comments

Although the indicators described above are the most important measures considered by the NBER in developing its business cycle chronology, there is no fixed rule about which other measures may contribute information to the process in any particular episode.

Committee members are: Robert Hall, Stanford University (chair); Martin Feldstein, Harvard University and NBER President Emeritus; Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard University; Robert Gordon, Northwestern University; James Poterba, MIT and NBER President; David Romer, University of California, Berkeley; and Victor Zarnowitz, the Conference Board. Christina Romer of the University of California, Berkeley, resigned from the committee on November 25, 2008, and did not participate in its deliberations of November 28.

For more information, see the FAQs below and also see http://www.nber.org/cycles.html.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH’ (USA)

Posted in COMMERCE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA | Leave a Comment »

“AMERICA FIRST”

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

PUBLISHED BY TIME CAPSULE/1940 – Times Magazine (1968)

PAGE 23

Last CARTOON BY DR. SEUSSJune, a Yale law student named Robert Douglas Stuart Jr. deplored Yale University President Charles Seymour’s espousal of open aid to the Allies, believing it would lead the U.S. into war. Furthermore, he thought Seymour’s views were not those of the student body and got up a poll showing 3-to-l on his side. General Robert E. Wood (chairman of Sears, Roebuck) heard of the Yale-man’s activities, asked Stuart to visit him. Out of their conversation grew the America First Committee.

Last week General Wood’s committee had 60,000 members, eleven local chapters and an organization drive that was going like a house afire. In Washington, national committee members included such strange company as socially conscientious Kathryn Lewis (daughter of John L.) and socially conspicuous Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Just what the organization was after remained obscure: it was easier to see what it was against. And what the committee was against was getting the U.S. into the war. General Wood last week adduced some further arguments to the National Association of Manufacturers’ meeting in Manhattan:

1) Germany cannot invade America even if Britain falls.

2) The U.S. can and will do business with the Nazis even if necessary to cartelize the trade.

3) If the U.S. convoys British shipping, that act “is sure to put us in the conflict.”

Posted in FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, GERMANY, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), USA, USA HUMOR, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

STORIA DELLE RIVOLUZIONI DEL XX SECOLO – LA RIVOLTA DEI MAU-MAU (Kenya)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

Romano Ledda – A cura di Roberto Bonchio

(1628, 1629)

Mentre l’Africa nera Nairobi. Ottobre 1952. Mau-mau arrestati dalla polizia inglese. I Mau-mau erano una setta segreta a sfondo nazionalistico-religioso costituitasi nel Kenya tra le populazioni Kikuyu, attorno al 1948; un campo di concentramento; un villagio, presunta centrale dei Mau-mau, dato alle fiamme dalle trupe inglesioccidentale ed equatoriale raggiunse l’indipendenza entro l’anno 1960, quella orientale, per lo piú a dominazione inglese, dovette attendere piú a lungo. Qui infatti ai consueti meccanismi di sfruttamento coloniale, si aggiungeva in generale la presenza di massicce immigrazioni bianche, che costituirono (e costituiscono ancora oggi nella Rhodesia dei sud e, sia puré con caratteristiche storiche diverse, nel Sud África) un forte ostacolo alia stessa política neocoloniale del’Inghilterra. Fu questa presenza di bianchi, che si era-no impadroniti delle terre migliori, ricacciando gli africani su quelle sterili, a provocare quella che forse è l’unica grande rivolta contadina del’Africa nera: la guerra che i Mau-mau condussero per tre anni contro il coloni bianchi dei Kenya.

La rivolta dei Mau-mau esplose con primitiva violenza nel 1952. Da trent’anni gli africani chiedevano terre migliori, la fine della discriminazione razziale, e il superamento di condizioni di vita che avevano dei bestiale. Come risposta ebbero un rigurgito di violenza e di crudeltà razziali. La rivolta partita dal gruppo étnico Kikuyu fu la legittima reazione al regime instaurato dai coloni. Essa colpi con durezza lê ricche fattorie degli « altipiani bianchi », rispose a colpo su colpo, porto dovunque il terrore, anche per quel suo carattere primitivo che circondava ogni azione di rappresaglia o di attacco contro i « signori bianchi », dei rituali magici delia tradizione tribale. Ma che non si trattasse di semplici bande criminali, come è stato troppo spesso detto, bensì di un movimento con profonde radici tra i contadini poveri dei Kenya, è dimostrato dal fatto che ci vollero ben tre anni per reprimere la rivolta. Fu una delle repressioni più brutali della storia coloniale. Si ripeterono qui le violenze, gli arbitri, le crudeltà dei francesi in Algeria. Jomo Kenyatta, presunto capo delia rivolta, venne arrestato confinato a tempo indefinito. Migliaia di kikuyu vennero massacrati, i villaggi incendiati, intere tribù ricacciate nelle foreste. Ma quando la rivolta fu alfine domata, il volto dei Kenya era ormai cambiato, e iniziò un processo « costituzionale » verso l’indipenza, ottenuta il 12 dicembre 1963. II partito di Kenyatta, il Kenya African National Union (KA-NU) assunse la direzione dei paese.

Prima dei Kenya, era divenuto indipendente, il 9 dicembre 1961, il Tanganika. E qui maturò uno dei regimi più avanzati dell’África nera, che ebbe ai suo centro il Tankanika African National Union (TANU), fondato nel 1954 da Julius Nyerere, attualmente presidente della Tanzania. Anche nel Tanganika il carattere nazionale, non tribale, dei partito fu determinante nell’orientare il paese verso programmi sociali ed economici, ispirati ad un nazionalismo progressista con elementi di socialismo. Un secondo elemento influi, però, in modo rilevante nella radicalizzazione degli orientamenti del TANU. Il 12 gennaio 1964 scoppiò una rivoluzione popolare nella vicina isola di Zanzibar. L’isola, che aveva ottenuto l’indipendenza nel dicembre 1963, era dominata dal sultano Ben Abdullah, sostenuto dagli inglesi, e rappresentante la minoranza araba delia popolazione. Il partito Umma, diretto da Mohammed Babu, a base prevalentemente contadina, si impadroni dei potere con una insurrezione armata, e il 18 gennaio proclamo la repubblica popolare di Zanzibar. Nell’aprile dello stesso anno, iniziarono le trattative tra il governo di Nyerere e quello di Zanzibar per la costituzione di un único Stato. In breve l’accordo fu raggiunto e il 25 aprile 1964 sorse la repubblica di Tanzania, con un orientamento político generale che si richiama esplicitamente al socialismo. L’accesso all’indipendenza dei possedimenti inglesi deli’África orientale si compì con una certa rapidità: il 9 ottobre 1962 divenne indipendente l’Uganda, il 6 luglio 1964 il Nyassaland, col nome di Malawi, il 24 ottobre 1964 la Rhodesia dei Nord, col nome di Zâmbia.

Posted in AFRICA, ENGLAND, FOREIGN POLICIES, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, KENYA, UNITED KINGDOM, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

MANAGING RISK IN AN UNSTABLE WORLD

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

Monday, December 1, 200

by Michael Barone – (*) – PUBLISHED BY ‘THE WASHINGTON TIMES’ (USA)

How can we reduce risk for individuals? That’s a natural question when a financial crisis has vaporized trillions of dollars of personal wealth in residential real estate and financial instruments. The problem is, when you try to reduce risk for individuals too much, you end up making things much riskier.

Case in point: The financial system over the last decade. Our current difficulties arose from “the idea,” as Nicole Gelinas describes it in the New York Post, “that any loan, bond or other bank asset could be sliced up and turned into an instantly liquid, priceable and tradable security, with all its risks engineered away.” The securitization of mortgages seemed to reduce risk for everyone – for the lender (who avoided risk of nonpayment by selling the mortgage), for the borrower (who got the mortgage at a lower rate than otherwise) and for the purchaser (because all those mortgages couldn’t got belly up at once, could they?).

The problem was that the risk models were based on the experience of only the last seven years or so, and that both the Clinton and Bush administrations and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac encouraged the granting of mortgages to borrowers who were, by previous standards, uncreditworthy.

So eliminating risk ended up creating huge risk for everyone – so huge that just about no one, even the Treasury armed with $700 billion – wants to purchase the securitized mortgages in bank portfolios.

Or take another case recently in the news. The United Auto Workers, a forward-thinking union, wanted to eliminate the risk for its members of retiring without comfortable pensions and entirely free medical care. So they negotiated contracts with what we used to call the Big Three U.S. auto companies that guaranteed UAW retirees big pensions and free medical care for life.

But that assumed the companies could always fund those benefits. If, as now seems possible, the Detroit Three go bankrupt, those pensions will be replaced by limited government pensions and those free retiree health benefits will vanish altogether. Eliminating risk turned out to be very risky.

That is my answer to those, like Yale Professor Jacob Hacker, who advocate public policies to reduce risk for individuals. In his book “The Great Risk Shift,” Mr. Hacker argues that the move over the last 25 years from defined-benefit pensions (in which an employer pays into a pension fund) to defined-contribution pensions (in which an employer pays into every employee’s personal investment account) makes life unbearably risky for ordinary people. And to be sure, almost everyone’s 401(k) account has shrunk over the last three months.

But are those people worse off than Detroit Three retirees? Their 401(k)s may rise in the years ahead. The Detroit Three pensions are at risk of being permanently slashed.

My own sense is that ordinary Americans are more resilient than some theorists think. They form and act upon what Milton Friedman called the permanent-income theory and Franco Modigliani called the life-cycle theory – that is, they develop a pretty good idea of their long-term earning capacity and their ability to accumulate wealth, and spend accordingly.

They may shift these expectations in a crunch, and may be doing so now, as purportedly risk-free financial products and corporate pensions are revealed as hugely risky. But through thick and thin they’re constantly calibrating and recalibrating how much risk they should take. And while some people make bad decisions, all those decisions put together seem to have proved less risky than Fannie Mae’s securitized mortgages or the UAW’s retiree health care benefits.

There are good arguments for safety net programs like Social Security, which eliminate severe downside risk – or at least eliminate it if Social Security has a sound long-range financing scheme, which it may not. Curiously, most current policymakers seem more concerned about the risks of climate change, about which there is much uncertainty, than the risks of Social Security collapse, about which the numbers seem much more certain.

My larger point is that eliminating risk entirely is an impossibility, and mitigating risk intelligently means not only maintaining sensible safety nets but, more importantly, stoking the engines of economic growth.

Happily, President-elect Obama’s top economic appointees seem to have a similar understanding. A capitalist economic system, which enables risk-taking through intelligently structured and regulated financial markets, has been proven by history to be, as Winston Churchill might have put it, the most risky system except for all those other economic systems ever devised.

Let’s try it again, this time keeping a gimlet eye on those who tell us they have schemes that can eliminate risk altogether.

(*) – Michael Barone is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE WASHINGTON TIMES’ (USA)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 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 | Leave a Comment »

AP IMPACT: US DILUTED LOAN RULES BEFORE CRASH – Bush administration rejected tougher mortgage rules in 2005

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

12-01-2008

by Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press Writer – PUBLISHED BY ‘YAHOO NEWS’

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.

“Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories,” California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job.

Bowing to aggressive lobbying — along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK — regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way.

“These mortgages have been considered more safe and sound for portfolio lenders than many fixed rate mortgages,” David Schneider, home loan president of Washington Mutual, told federal regulators in early 2006. Two years later, WaMu became the largest bank failure in U.S. history.

The administration’s blind eye to the impending crisis is emblematic of its governing philosophy, which trusted market forces and discounted the value of government intervention in the economy. Its belief ironically has ushered in the most massive government intervention since the 1930s.

Many of the banks that fought to undermine the proposals by some regulators are now either out of business or accepting billions in federal aid to recover from a mortgage crisis they insisted would never come. Many executives remain in high-paying jobs, even after their assurances were proved false.

In 2005, faced with ominous signs the housing market was in jeopardy, bank regulators proposed new guidelines for banks writing risky loans. Today, in the midst of the worst housing recession in a generation, the proposal reads like a list of what-ifs:

_Regulators told bankers exotic mortgages were often inappropriate for buyers with bad credit.

_Banks would have been required to increase efforts to verify that buyers actually had jobs and could afford houses.

_Regulators proposed a cap on risky mortgages so a string of defaults wouldn’t be crippling.

_Banks that bundled and sold mortgages were told to be sure investors knew exactly what they were buying.

_Regulators urged banks to help buyers make responsible decisions and clearly advise them that interest rates might skyrocket and huge payments might be due sooner than expected.

Those proposals all were stripped from the final rules. None required congressional approval or the president’s signature.

“In hindsight, it was spot on,” said Jeffrey Brown, a former top official at the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, one of the first agencies to raise concerns about risky lending.

Federal regulators were especially concerned about mortgages known as “option ARMs,” which allow borrowers to make payments so low that mortgage debt actually increases every month. But banking executives accused the government of overreacting.

Bankers said such loans might be risky when approved with no money down or without ensuring buyers have jobs but such risk could be managed without government intervention.

“An open market will mean that different institutions will develop different methodologies for achieving this goal,” Joseph Polizzotto, counsel to now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers, told U.S. regulators in a March 2006.

Countrywide Financial Corp., at the time the nation’s largest mortgage lender, agreed. The proposal “appears excessive and will inhibit future innovation in the marketplace,” said Mary Jane Seebach, managing director of public affairs.

One of the most contested rules said that before banks purchase mortgages from brokers, they should verify the process to ensure buyers could afford their homes. Some bankers now blame much of the housing crisis on brokers who wrote fraudulent, predatory loans. But in 2006, banks said they shouldn’t have to double-check the brokers.

“It is not our role to be the regulator for the third-party lenders,” wrote Ruthann Melbourne, chief risk officer of IndyMac Bank.

California-based IndyMac also criticized regulators for not recognizing the track record of interest-only loans and option ARMs, which accounted for 70 percent of IndyMac’s 2005 mortgage portfolio. This summer, the government seized IndyMac and will pay an estimated $9 billion to ensure customers don’t lose their deposits.

Last week, Downey Savings joined the growing list of failed banks. The problem: About 52 percent of its mortgage portfolio was tied up in risky option ARMs, which in 2006 Downey insisted were safe — maybe even safer than traditional 30-year mortgages.

“To conclude that ‘nontraditional’ equates to higher risk does not appropriately balance risk and compensating factors of these products,” said Lillian Gavin, the bank’s chief credit officer.

At least some regulators didn’t buy it. The comptroller of the currency, John C. Dugan, was among the first to sound the alarm in mid-2005. Speaking to a consumer advocacy group, Dugan painted a troublesome picture of option-ARM lending. Many buyers, particularly those with bad credit, would soon be unable to afford their payments, he said. And if housing prices declined, homeowners wouldn’t even be able to sell their way out of the mess.

It sounded simple, but “people kind of looked at us regulators as old-fashioned,” said Brown, the agency’s former deputy comptroller.

Diane Casey-Landry, of the American Bankers Association, said the industry feared a two-tiered system in which banks had to follow rules that mortgage brokers did not. She said opposition was based on the banks’ best information.

“You’re looking at a decline in real estate values that was never contemplated,” she said.

Some saw problems coming. Community groups and even some in the mortgage business, like Welch, warned regulators not to ease their rules.

“We expect to see a huge increase in defaults, delinquencies and foreclosures as a result of the over selling of these products,” Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, wrote to regulators in 2006. The group advocates on housing and banking issues for low-income and minority residents.

The government’s banking agencies spent nearly a year debating the rules, which required unanimous agreement among the OCC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Reserve, and the Office of Thrift Supervision — agencies that sometimes don’t agree.

The Fed, for instance, was reluctant under Alan Greenspan to heavily regulate lending. Similarly, the Office of Thrift Supervision, an arm of the Treasury Department that regulated many in the subprime mortgage market, worried that restricting certain mortgages would hurt banks and consumers.

Grovetta Gardineer, OTS managing director for corporate and international activities, said the 2005 proposal “attempted to send an alarm bell that these products are bad.” After hearing from banks, she said, regulators were persuaded that the loans themselves were not problematic as long as banks managed the risk. She disputes the notion that the rules were weakened.

In the past year, with Congress scrambling to stanch the bleeding in the financial industry, regulators have tightened rules on risky mortgages.

Congress is considering further tightening, including some of the same proposals abandoned years ago.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘YAHOO NEWS’

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

ASSETS OF ARAB BANKS SET TO REACH $2 TRILLION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

Sunday 30 November 2008 (02 Dhul Hijjah 1429)

by Mahmood Rafique – PUBLISHED BY ‘ARAB NEWS'(Saudi Arabia)

MANAMA: The consolidated assets of the Arab banks are set to reach $2 trillion with a projected net profit of $40 Kuwaiti traders follow the dealings of Kuwait's Stock Exchange in Kuwait Citybillion by the year-end, a senior official at the Union of Arab Banks, announced.

Adnan Ahmad Yousef, chairman of Union of Arab Banks, who attended the 2nd Arab-Greek Economic Forum last week in Athens, said that despite the economic upheaval, Arab banks would witness 15 percent annual growth in 2009.

Adnan, who is also chairman and chief executive of the Manama-headquartered AlBaraka Banking Group (ABG), said that the rapid growth of Arab banks had made them one of the most rapidly growing segments within the global banking system. “The balance sheet of Arab banks increased significantly in 2007 rising to $1.69 trillion, an increase of 30 percent over 2006. Our banking sector is made up of 470 institutions forming 267 commercial banks, 45 Islamic banks, 52 investment and national banks, 49 specialized banks and 57 foreign banks,” he said.

This sector, he said, employed more than 370,000 employees scattered across some 15,000 branches around the world. The sector plays a great role in the Arab economy, where it finances production, trade and investment. “It is also considered an essential partner in enhancing economic and social development, and laying the solid grounds of our economy that is always aimed at constant growth and the availability of credit between different Arab economies,” he said.

“As for Islamic finance the number of Islamic banks and institutions operating today in more than 75 countries in five continents is almost 300. Over 120 Islamic banks or 40 percent based in the Arab world and mainly in the GCC and their total assets reached more than $520 billion,” he added.

The Arab banking industry, he said, has shown a sustained growth and development and more Arab banks are making it to the list of the top 1,000 banks. By the end of 2007, 80 Arab banks were on the list, when nine of them made it for the first time.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘ARAB NEWS'(Saudi Arabia)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISLAM, ISLAMIC BANKS, ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK, KUWAIT, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

ASIAN MARKETS MIXED ON OUTLOOK FOR CHINA, US

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

1 Dec 2008, 1220 hrs IST, AGENCIES

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ECONOMIC TIMES’ (India)

SEOUL, South Korea: Asian stock markets were mixed on Monday as investors digested signs that the U.S. holiday shopping season got off to a tepid start over the key Thanksgiving weekend.

While Japan’s market fell, stocks in Hong Kong and mainland China rose on expectations of further measures by the Chinese government to boost the economy after last month’s big interest rate cut and multibillion dollar stimulus package.

“These are the appetizers of a full meal, “said Winson Fong, managing director at SG Asset Management in Hong Kong, which overseas about $3 billion in equities in Asia, referring to those earlier measures. “It’s not the end.”

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 297 points, or 2.1 per cent, to 14,185.8, continuing its rally from last week, when it rose nearly 10 per cent. China’s Shanghai Composite index was up 0.4 per cent to 1,879.66.

India’s benchmark Sensex index also rose, climbing 2.4 per cent to 9,305.94, reflecting at least some investor confidence in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, where the stock exchange is located, that left at least 174 people dead.

Stocks in Australia, Singapore and South Korea also fell. Early reports from the U.S. showed modest gains in retail sales on Black Friday, the traditional start of the American holiday shopping season, but business appeared to fall off during the remainder of the weekend, considered one of the most important of the year for U.S. retailers. Also, sales gains seemed to come at the expense of profits as companies slashed prices to lure shoppers.

‘We don’t know if it’s driven by sales or if U.S. consumers are getting their confidence back,’ said Fong.

Investors around the world are paying close attention to the weekend sales figures for clues on the strength of the American economy, a vital export market.

According to preliminary figures released Saturday by ShopperTrak RCT, a research firm that tracks total retail sales at more than 50,000 outlets, sales rose 3 per cent to $10.6 billion on Friday from the same day a year ago. A more complete sales picture of how the Thanksgiving shopping weekend fared won’t be known until Thursday when the nation’s retailers report November same-store sales, or sales at stores opened at least a year.

Stocks in Thailand rose, led by energy stocks, amid hopes that the country’s political crisis will be resolved soon. Anti-government protesters have occupied Bangkok’s two main airports for nearly a week, cutting off air freight, stranding tourists and causing millions of dollars in lost sales. The benchmark SET index was up 0.8 per cent at 405.09.

In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average lost 123.34 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 8,388.93, retreating after advancing 7.6 per cent last week. Investors sold exporters as the yen strengthened, which erodes exporters’ overseas earnings.

‘Despite a rise on Wall Street last Friday, sentiment was downbeat as investors were bracing for weak U.S. manufacturing data due out later in the day,’ said Kazuhiro Takahashi, an equity strategist at Daiwa Securities SMBC Co. Ltd., referring to the Institute for Supply Management’s report for November.

Wall Street advanced for a fifth straight session Friday, the first time the Dow Jone industrial average to accomplish that feat since July 2007. For the week, the Dow climbed 9.7 per cent for the week and the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index jumped 12 per cent.

U.S. stock futures were down, suggesting Wall Street would open lower Monday. Dow futures were up 59 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 8,763, and S&P futures were up 6.8 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 888.5.

Oil prices fell to near $53 a barrel after OPEC declined to cut production at an informal meeting in Cairo on Saturday. Light, sweet crude for January delivery was down $1.13 to $53.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Singapore.

In currencies, the dollar declined to 95.22 yen from 95.48 yen in New York late Friday. The euro was little changed at $1.2685.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ECONOMIC TIMES’ (India)

Posted in CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CONSUMERS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENERGY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HONG KONG, INTERNATIONAL, OPEC, PETROL, SOUTH KOREA, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, USA | Leave a Comment »

SEM ÁGUA, ÍNDIOS VÃO FECHAR RODOVIA – Alguns poços que restaram na aldeia estão secando, deixando as famílias indígenas preocupadas (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

29.Nov.2008

por Flávio Verão – PUBLISHED BY ‘O PROGRESSO’ (MT – Brasil)

DOURADOS – Sem uma A BORORÓúnica gota d’água nas torneiras das centenas de casas da Aldeia Bororó, indígenas prometem fechar rodovias. O problema se arrasta há pelo menos dois meses, desde então, as poucas famílias que têm poço no fundo do quintal ainda consegue matar a sede. Mas isto está com os dias contados porque muitas fontes secaram e a disputa pela água, nos poucos locais que ainda resta, contribui ainda mais para agravar o problema.

O PROGRESSO relatou, na quarta-feira, que muitas famílias caminham grandes trechos em busca até de água suja para poder realizar os afazeres de rotina: cozinhar, tomar banho, lavar roupa. E todo esse desconforto fez surgiu problemas de saúde, como a diarréia. “Meus filhos sofrem com fortes dores de barriga e com freqüência tenho que levá-los ao médico que não agüentam mais nem olhar para as crianças”, disse a indígena Rosimara Batista, mãe de três filhos.

Os índios denunciam que procuraram várias vezes os representantes da Funasa e Funai para reclamar da falta d’água, mas a única resposta que “davam a nós era de que estávamos mentindo”, diz o indígena Everton Garcia.

Preocupados com a situação, várias famílias se reuniram ontem na aldeia para discutir ações pacíficas antes de tomar qualquer medida. “Não queremos fechar rodovias, mas se as autoridades que se dizem competentes e que trabalham pelos povos indígenas não tomarem nenhuma atitude teremos que protestar”, reitera Everton.

Ao lado de um único poço que restou para atender mais de dez famílias, havia vários indígenas que estavam preocupados PAULINHO BORORÓporque a pouca água que restava vinha muito suja, com mau cheiro e ainda parecia que estava acabando. “Tínhamos um outro poço que secou e agora só temos esse que está com os dias contados”, afirma Rosimara Batista.

Os indígenas alegam que o problema da escassez de água se estende há pelo menos um ano, quando iniciou o “racionamento”. A água chegava às casas em períodos pré-determinados, mas, com o passar do tempo, foi se tornando ainda mais escassa até chegar ao ponto de cessar.

E todo esse problema já prejudicou o ano letivo das crianças. “Eu não vou mandar meu filho para a escola sem tomar banho. Várias crianças aqui na aldeia vão estudar somente quando está de roupa limpa e banho tomado”, disse Everton Garcia.

Como alternativa ele disse que as famílias utilizam um córrego próximo das residências para lavar as roupas e tomar banho. “Como são muitas as pessoas que utilizam o local, mais de 300, a disputa acaba sendo acirrada. E o pior de tudo isso é que a água do córrego é lamacenta, causa coceira e as roupas ficam com mau cheiro”, frisa Everton.

Quando a Funasa implantou caixas d’águas para abastecer a aldeia pediu para que todas as famílias aterrassem os poços como garantia de que eles teriam água nas torneiras. “Sorte nossa é que teve pessoas que não FOTO ANTIGA DOS BORORÓSfizeram isso. Se todos tivessem confiados nessa proposta estaríamos agora tomando água lameada do córrego”, indagou o indígena Valdemar Vieira.

A Aldeia Bororó é dividida em quatro “bairros”, sendo que a escassez de água está prejudicando apenas dois deles, o Agostinho e o Taleu.

FUNASA

O problema da Aldeia Bororó vem persistindo há muito tempo e, segundo o coordenador regional da Funasa, Flávio Brito, o órgão já estava ciente desses problemas. “Temos uma equipe técnica que está no local fazendo vistoria há dez dias. Sabemos desses problemas”, disse ele, que na segunda-feira estará acompanhando o trabalho de perto junto com o engenheiro da Funasa.

“Queremos resolver essa situação o mais rápido possível até porque não é toda a aldeia que está faltando água”. O coordenador da Funasa ainda disse que esse problema é resultado de um projeto errado feito há nove anos. “Nesse levantamento estamos identificando o porquê falta água nesses dois bairros. Pode ser vazamento na tubulação ou então a quantidade de água não está sendo suficiente para abastecer todas as casas”, explicou, dizendo que se for necessário a Funasa irá fazer uma outra caixa d’água para atender os indígenas.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘O PROGRESSO'(MT – Brasil)

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