BRICS Against Washington Consensus

by Pepe Escobar, from Asia Times

The headline news is that this Tuesday in Fortaleza, northeast Brazil, the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) fights the (Neoliberal) World (Dis)Order via a new development bank and a reserve fund set up to offset financial crises.

The devil, of course, is in the details of how they’ll do it.

It’s been a long and winding road since Yekaterinburg in 2009, at their first summit, up to the BRICS’s long-awaited counterpunch against the Bretton Woods consensus – the IMF and the World Bank – as well as the Japan-dominated (but largely responding to US priorities) Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The BRICS Development Bank – with an initial US$50 billion in capital – will be not only BRICS-oriented, but invest in infrastructure projects and sustainable development on a global scale. The model is the Brazilian BNDES, which supports Brazilian companies investing across Latin America. In a few years, it will reach a financing capacity of up to $350 billion. With extra funding especially from Beijing and Moscow, the new institution could leave the World Bank in the dust. Compare access to real capital savings to US government’s printed green paper with no collateral.

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Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?

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from Naked Capitalism

HUDSON: The objective of IMF loans is to deindustrialize the economy. It is to force the economy–meaning the government when you say the economy–the government has to pay the IMF loan by privatizing whatever remains in the public domain. The Westerners want to buy the Ukrainian farmland. They want to buy the public utilities. They want to buy the roads. They want to buy the ports. And all of this is going to be sold at a very low price to the Westerners, and the price that the Westerners pay will be turned over to the Ukrainian government, that then will turn it back to the Ukraine. So whatever the West gives Ukraine will immediately be taken back.

Sommers: The problem with this idea that somehow by joining the E.U. everything is going to be good for the people of Ukraine is that what the Ukrainians are essentially seeing are the echoes of a social democratic past which is being euthanized in the European Union… structurally, it’s being destroyed… there are offshore gas fields just off offshore of Crimea. Exxon put in a rather substantial bid in for those. They are going to lose that.

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The US Housing Market is Still “Flat on its Back”

from Mike Whitney, CounterPunch

Get a load of this chart from DataQuick’s National Home Sales Snapshot. It’ll tell you everything need to know about housing.

As you can see, prices are flatlining or drifting lower while sales are sinking like a stone. That’s the whole ball of wax, isn’t it?

Sure, sales will increase in the spring (as they always do), but judging by the sharp dropoff in last year’s hottest markets, this could be the crappiest spring selling season since the crash.

Why?

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(Note: MSA=metropolitan statistical area)

Because prices are too high, rates are too high, “organic” demand is too weak, credit is too tight, and the pool of potential buyers has shrunk to the size of a walnut, that’s why.The banks have reduced the percentage of distressed homes (foreclosures and short sales) on the market to roughly 11 percent from 59 percent in 2009. Fewer distressed homes mean higher prices, but higher prices mean fewer sales. It’s a trade-off. The banks get their money, but the market goes to hell. That’s how it works. According to most estimates, there are roughly 4.5 million homes in some stage of foreclosure. That means that –at the present pace–we should get through this Housing Depression a few weeks before Judgment Day. But don’t hold me to that.

Did you catch this gem on Bloomberg last week? It’s about the big private equity guys exiting the market. Take a look:

“Blackstone Group LP is slowing its purchases of houses to rent amid soaring prices after a buying binge made it the biggest U.S. single-family home landlord. Blackstone’s acquisition pace has declined 70 percent from its peak last year, when the private equity firm was spending more than $100 million a week on properties, said Jonathan Gray, global head of real estate for the New York-based firm…” (Blackstone’s Home Buying Binge Ends as Prices Surge, Bloomberg)

Okay, so the speculators are getting out of housing. How’s that going to effect the market?

No one really knows yet, but it can’t be good, after all, all-cash deals amounted to nearly 50 percent of all homes sales in many of the hotter markets last year. That’s why prices went up even though the economy was still in the shitter, because the fatcats were loading up on cheap real estate. Now it looks like they’re headed for the hills. That’s NOT going to be good for sales.

Did you know that existing home sales have dropped for six months straight, dipping below trend to the same level they were at in 1998?

But how can that be, you ask, when everyone’s blabbing about the recovery? How can that be when the Fed has purchased more than $1.4 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and rates are a measly 4.5%? How can that be prices have been climbing higher for more than a year?

[read the rest, here]

Five years of Obama’s “recovery”

by Patrick Martin, WSWS

This week marks five years since the New York Stock Exchange hit its low point at the bottom of the financial crash that erupted with the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank. On March 6, 2009, Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its post-collapse low of 6,443. Three days later, on March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 hit its post-collapse low of 676.

Yesterday, at the close of stock trading for the week, the Dow Jones average closed at 16,452, up a colossal 10,000 points over five years, or 154 percent. The S&P 500 stood at 1,878, rising even faster than the Dow, gaining 170 percent over five years.

These are only the most striking of a barrage of numbers reported in recent weeks, demonstrating that for the US financial aristocracy, the Crash of 2008 has been used to engineer a historic redistribution of wealth.

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Soros Praises “Ukrainian renaissance” – He’s An Apologist for Neo-Nazi Violence and Brutal Repression

by Scott Creighton

[see updates at the end of this article]

“[N]obody who has read a business magazine in the last few years can be unaware that these days there really are investors who not only move money in anticipation of a currency crisis, but actually do their best to trigger that crisis for fun and profit. These new actors on the scene do not yet have a standard name; my proposed term is ‘Soroi’.” Paul Krugman 1999

You can’t make this stuff up. You just can’t.

Billionaire speculator and vulture capitalist George Soros (family changed their name from Schwartz in 1936) has penned an Op Ed praising the outcome of the recent IMF serving color revolution in the Ukraine. For a man who famously hates anti-Semitism, it seems rather odd that he would be aligning himself with the rise of the neo-Nazi nationalist parties in the Ukraine. But then again, Soros (Schwartz) has always been more about the money than he was about his religious identity.

That’s probably because money is his religion.

Not only is Mr. Soros (chosen name means “designated successor” or “next in line” in Hungarian) busily rewriting the history of this bloody conflict in his new Op Ed, he’s actually serving as an apologist for the neo-Nazi’s brutal violence which ultimately brought down the elected government of the country and now is positioning itself to wipe out what they consider to be enemies of the true Ukrainian state; Jews and other leftists.

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Ukraine’s Brown Revolution: Brought to you by your friends at the IMF

by Scott Creighton

Just a couple of quotes from recent articles to put all of this Ukrainian “democracy” into perspective for you.

  • Among the reasons Mr. Yanukovych turned away from signing political and trade accords with Europe in November was his unwillingness to carry out austerity measures and other reforms that the International Monetary Fund had demanded in exchange for a large assistance packageNew York Times
  • A $15 billion bailout package secured by Mr. Yanukovych from Russia in December has been suspended, and Ukraine is now hurtling toward default. New York Times
  • Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, the leader in Parliament of the Fatherland Party and a leading contender to serve as acting prime minister, pleaded with colleagues to swiftly reach an agreement on the designation of an interim government, which is needed to formally request emergency economic assistance from the International Monetary Fund. New York Times
  • The International Monetary Fund has made clear that it will demand austerity measures and other long-stalled economic changes in exchange for any assistance package. New York Times

As I have written in the past, the color revolution currently unfolding in Thailand was also brought to you by your friends at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as was the illegal Washington backed coup in Egypt.

 

A bankers’ plan for Detroit

from the WSWS

The proposal submitted late last week by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to the federal court overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy is a blueprint for a devastating attack on the working class of the city. The “plan of adjustment” would be better termed the “plan of destruction,” targeting pensions, health care and core public assets, including the world-renowned Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

Orr’s plan confirms the central premise of the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit held by the Socialist Equality Party on February 15: A crime is being perpetrated, one that is the product of a political conspiracy involving both big business parties and all the institutions of the state.

A New York Times article over the weekend compared, approvingly, what is taking place in Detroit to the restructuring of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Indeed, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina was used as an opportunity to depopulate sections of the city and go after basic social rights, including the handing over of public education to for-profit charter schools.

[read the rest, here]

Sudden Improvements in Egypt Suggest a Campaign to Undermine Morsi

(When big business wants a fascist dictatorship because it’s better for big business, they are willing to do whatever it takes to facilitate a speedy transition. They will lay off workers, close stores, strip shelves of product… whatever it takes to frustrate the public and help create an atmosphere for “CHANGE”. Kissinger famously said he had to make the economy of Chile scream because the people voted the wrong way when they elected Salvador Allende. “Revelations that President Richard Nixon had ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream” in Chile to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him,” prompted a major scandal in the mid-1970s” . We see the same thing happened in Egypt. Big business wants fascism because it puts them in charge and they will use whatever leverage they can in order to see it happen. Take for instance Wal Mart’s recent threat to the city of Washington where they promised to pull out all of their stores immediately if the “Living Wage” ordinance was passed. It’s a small example but a good one. Big business is at war with us right now while simultaneously depending on us, on the government’s collusion with them AGAINST us, to generate the massive profit margins they have become accustomed to. Any so-called “plan” to address the situation we are in that does NOT address this key aspect is not a plan, it’s a distraction. The Business Plot of 1934 is upon us once again and we need to understand it for what it is.)

from the New York Times

The streets seethe with protests and government ministers are on the run or in jail, but since the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi, life has somehow gotten better for many people across Egypt: Gas lines have disappeared, power cuts have stopped and the police have returned to the street.

The apparently miraculous end to the crippling energy shortages, and the re-emergence of the police, seems to show that the legions of personnel left in place after former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 played a significant role — intentionally or not — in undermining the overall quality of life under the Islamist administration of Mr. Morsi.

And as the interim government struggles to unite a divided nation, the Muslim Brotherhood and Mr. Morsi’s supporters say the sudden turnaround proves that their opponents conspired to make Mr. Morsi fail. Not only did police officers seem to disappear, but the state agencies responsible for providing electricity and ensuring gas supplies failed so fundamentally that gas lines and rolling blackouts fed widespread anger and frustration.

“This was preparing for the coup,” said Naser el-Farash, who served as the spokesman for the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade under Mr. Morsi. “Different circles in the state, from the storage facilities to the cars that transport petrol products to the gas stations, all participated in creating the crisis.”

Working behind the scenes, members of the old establishment, some of them close to Mr. Mubarak and the country’s top generals, also helped finance, advise and organize those determined to topple the Islamist leadership, including Naguib Sawiris, a billionaire and an outspoken foe of the Brotherhood; Tahani El-Gebali, a former judge on the Supreme Constitutional Court who is close to the ruling generals; and Shawki al-Sayed, a legal adviser to Ahmed Shafik, Mr. Mubarak’s last prime minister, who lost the presidential race to Mr. Morsi…

Mr. Sawiris, one of Egypt’s richest men and a titan of the old establishment, said Wednesday that he had supported an upstart group called “tamarrod,” Arabic for “rebellion,” that led a petition drive seeking Mr. Morsi’s ouster. He donated use of the nationwide offices and infrastructure of the political party he built, the Free Egyptians. He provided publicity through his popular television network and his major interest in Egypt’s largest private newspaper. He even commissioned the production of a popular music video that played heavily on his network.

Tamarrod did not even know it was me!” he said. “I am not ashamed of it.”

[read the rest, here]

(There’s your “real revolution”… bought, paid for, fabricated by the fascist businessmen of the Mubarak era (along with help from various U.S. NGOs of course). The climate of frustration was created by them, the failing state of Egypt was their gift to their country in order to bring back pure dictatorial fascism. There’s your “real revolution”)

Neoliberal Silverspooner Gina Rinehart Want’s a Northern Australia “Economic Zone” Where they Can Pay Workers < $2.00 a Day

by Scott Creighton

Africans want to work for less than two dollars per day because if they don’t we call them “extremists” and we shoot them in the face. We need Australians like that. A lot of them. I make 2 million dollars an hour. Suck on that. I’m rich cus I was smart and was born to a wealthy daddy who molested me when he got drunk. So let’s get the little darkies up north and make ‘em work for peanuts while we hold Roman orgies and build pyramids to our greatness” and artist’s impression of Gina Rinehart’s humanitarian video

Oh yeah. The billionaires are ready to bring the pain baby. We gotta compete on that all important Global Market! It’s globalization my friends and billionaires just can’t get enough of it. Race to the bottom for the useless eaters class!

Here is a video mash-up of a few of the highlights of her little discussion which I also put below. You can see from it, she is all upset that the fortune she inherited being the only  child of a billionaire Ayn Rand caricature is about to stop growing at the growth rate she sees as potentially just waiting in Northern Australia… once their government gets off their lazy asses and makes slave labor legal again.

“Africans will work for less than $2 a day!? You hear that? We gotta get us some of that shit! We need like a trade zone or something. You know, like they got in Haiti?!”

“Just think of all those savages sitting around in the north getting drunk and cashing dole checks. Think of each one as a little, hairy, foul-smelling, thick-lipped ATM machine and we got the only cash cards!”

“We can do it! We just have to learn from our apartheid and zionist brothers!”

“Get rid of those regulations! Get rid of all that environmental protection crap! Get rid of those taxes! Kill off the bleeding heart “ebil leftists” with drones and let’s make some damn money! and oh yeah, small business blah blah blah… liberty… blah blah blah… death tax… blah blah blah.” Gina Rinehart (sorta)

She wants to turn the Indigenous Australians living in the northern parts of the country into slaves! yippie! Hell, her daddy once talked about “rounding ‘em up” and sterilizing them by putting stuff in their water supply while another guy talked about “civilizing the savages” on national television

Kinda makes Little Orphan Gina look like Mother Teresa by comparison, don’t it?

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The “Lawless” Liberty Reserve Scandal – Big Banking is Organized Crime Sanctioned and Protected by the State

by Scott Creighton

  • HSBC failed to monitor $670 billion in wire transfers and $9.4 billion in cash
  • (Wachovia) sanctioned for failing to apply the proper anti-laundering strictures to the transfer of $378.4bn
  • Historians estimate that in the 1920s, 99 of every 100 Franklin County residents were in some way involved in the illegal liquor trade. The bootleggers became involved with gangsters from Chicago and other major cities, and some local law enforcement officials (and especially federal agents) were part of the criminal activities and killing of competitors

From the New York Times to little Dvorak Blog, the interwebs are all talking about the “largest international money-laundering prosecution in history”: the Liberty Reserve.

The charges are that throughout it’s history (Liberty Reserve was set up in 2006 by Arthur Budovsky in Costa Rica after the feds shut down his other exchange GoldAge) Liberty Reserve did around $6 billion in transactions, all of which they now add together to get the total amount of “laundered money” (read the court documents, here)

Overall, from 2006 to 2013, Liberty Reserve processed an estimated 55 million separate financial transactions and is believed to have laundered more than 6 billion (U.S.) in criminal proceedsU.S. V Liberty Reserve et al Indictment, page 4

The indictment states that by the end, Liberty Reserve was doing 1.5 billion in transactions a year. They certainly didn’t start off that way, it took time to build up to that amount of traffic. They were operating for 6 or 7 years, so it’s reasonable to assume the $6 billion number is their total transaction amount over the entire course of their business operation.

Part of the magic trick that Justice uses is the start off with the premise that the business was set up to cater to illegal transactions and those who wish to launder their ill-gotten gains so to speak. Think of it as a poor man’s Swiss bank account.  Therefore they are claiming that all of those 55 million transactions were criminal transactions.

“Because virtually all of Liberty Reserve’s business derived from suspected criminal activity, the scope of the defendant’s unlawful conduct is staggering” U.S. V Liberty Reserve et al Indictment, page 3

This is an obvious fallacy.

So why pump this case up and why prosecute these men when other drug laundering schemes are so much larger? The answer to that lies in the standard operation procedure of the Justice Department these days: protect the big banks at all costs, especially from competition. Especially from homegrown competition.

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Neoliberal Terrorism Decimates Distracted Nation While the Terrorists Write the Laws

by Scott Creighton

While we are distracted by little pressure-cooker bombs, shaking in our boots over internet radicalized extremists, the real terrorists are skimming off the entire wealth of the nation into their pockets, one city at a time. And while we worry about cointelpro ops breathlessly hypothesizing about “weather weapons” making tornadoes, the financial oligarchs are writing more legislation in order to enable them to do commit even more terrorism against us and our future generations.

It’s reality of the absurd and there’s just no other way of looking at it.

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“Wall Street’s Favorite Democrat” Looks to Deregulate Derivatives Even More

by Scott Creighton

Former Goldman Sachs executive and current national finance chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called “Wall Street’s Favorite Democrat” by Bloomberg, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), is pushing a new bit of legislation to make it easier for Wall Street and Goldman Sachs to make piles of money setting up the next financial catastrophe just like they did back when they got Clinton to repeal Glass-Steagall.

The bill would “allow banks to keep commodity and equity derivatives in federally insured units,” Politico reported on Wednesday, meaning that banks would no longer be forced to spin off their trading desks. It would weaken Dodd-Frank’s “push out” provision, otherwise known as the Prohibition Against Federal Government Bailouts of Swaps Entities, which bars federal assistance from being provided to any swaps entity.

Himes, who was recently named the national finance chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is a former executive at Goldman Sachs, where he was a vice president.” Huffington Post

Jim, like President Obama, was born to do the “good work” of neoliberalizing America and Europe. His daddy worked for the Ford Foundation and UNICEF  in Lima Peru. His father worked under the presidency of Fernando Belaúnde who was particularly favored by the U.S. at the time because he basically handed over the nationalized oil industry to Standard Oil. Belaunde was forced to resign under threat of military coup in late 1968 and the new government did horrendous things like started a land reform program giving land back to the people and nationalized the oil industry again. They were also setting up  deals coming closer to Cuba and the Soviet Union. Eventually the Good old U.S. of A got their man back in the saddle again in 1980.

As you can see, a very similar path to greatness that our Glorious Leader had. Born to the Ford Foundation and neoliberalized dictators in far away lands and he ends up running things in the Democratic party. Small world for these oligarchs ain’t it?

Globalist Jesus Worshiped at Golden Globes While the “Other’ CIA Film Received It’s Award

by Scott Creighton

Globalist Jesus slipped out on stage at the Golden Globes yesterday and the idol worship and false praise rang out loud and clear from all those Hollywood elites who were afraid to be seen not rejoicing in his splendor. His background didn’t matter, his brutal corporate history didn’t matter, his lies and betrayal of his wife and the honor of his office didn’t matter. All that matters is the fact that he is as rich as the ancient dictators of old and the fact that his fascist fingers grip power with the help of Hollywood’s new team of acclaimed writers: the Central Intelligence Agency.

It was a despicable display of Orwellian servitude by a group of soulless, talentless hacks risen to the ranks of what is laughably called “the A-List” simply because they will bow to their new morally bankrupt neo-liberal god-king.

globalist jesus

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Fiscal Cliff = Economic Terrorism says U.S. Senator

by Scott Creighton

We’ve seen this before: the economic powers that be went to congress and the MSM back in late 2008 and threatened Armageddon if we didn’t give them what they wanted: our money. They effectively held the economy of the United States hostage and threatened to pull the trigger if they weren’t paid $780 billion in cash. Turns out, the fed gave them far more than that in secret backdoor loans, but the story is still the same; we were subjected to economic terrorism in which our leaders, the same leaders who boasted they will never give into terrorist threats, caved in immediately and went on a PR campaign pushing the TARP bailout package like their lives depended on it.

Now we have the same thing happening. The “fiscal cliff” boogeyman is the same as the “Ruskies” of old or the “turrurrrurrists’ of today. It’s terrorism pure and simple.

When you threaten people with the fear of death, starvation and chaos in order to advance a change in either the political  (like we did to Libya and currently are doing to Syria and Iran) or economic structure of a nation, that is defined as “Terrorism” and that is exactly what is being done to us right now.

Who says so? Some conspiracy theorist whack-job wing-nutter?

No. A seated U.S. senator from Iowa said that.

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Obama Meets his Prestitute Megaphonies to Prep “Fiscal Cliff” Compromise Propaganda

by Scott Creighton

Barack Obama has every intention of betraying his base… once again, this time on the subject of crippling “austerity” measures (read as “IMF structural reform package”) that will be “needed” to avoid the ever looming mythical fiscal cliff. So he called a special meeting with some of the left-wing propaganda peddlers to have a little off-the-record meeting at the White House. The idea is to get the talking points directly to the megaphonies so there’s no communication divide while at the same time expressing to them their personal importance to the administration, capitalizing on their feelings of entitlement in order to ensure they will strive their hardest to convince their audiences that something that is in their worst interest is actually in their best interests. To lie to their fans for the president and his neoliberal agenda in other words.

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