Category - Economics Forum

Russia Launches Own ‘SWIFT’ Service, Links Up 91 Credit Institutions

Almost 91 of Russia’s credit institutions have been incorporated into a newly launched Russian domestic ‘SWIFT’ analogous.

Sputnik News, By Ekaterina Blinova, February 13

Almost 91 domestic credit institutions have been incorporated into the new Russian financial system, the analogous of SWIFT, an international banking network.

The new service, will allow Russian banks to communicate seamlessly through the Central Bank of Russia. It should be noted that Russia’s Central Bank initiated the development of the country’s own messaging system in response to repeated threats voiced by Moscow’s Western partners to disconnect Russia from SWIFT.

SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is a Belgium-based international organization that provides services and a standardized environment for global banking communicating that allows financial institutions to send and receive messages about their transactions.

Joining the global interbank system in 1989, Russia has become one of the most active users of SWIFT globally, sending hundreds of thousands of messages per day. In general, SWIFT provides a secure communication network for more than ten thousands of financial institutions around the world, approving transactions of trillions of US dollars.

Via Ian Welsh: Russia Creates Its Own Payment System

If You Had Told Me This Appeared on The Federalist Website….

…I would have laughed in your face. But it did:

Why abandon K-Street, and acknowledge, then reject, the Big Business perception of the GOP? They’ve had the Republican Party’s back for some time, right? In the past, the largest companies favored one party over the other because they understood a pro-capitalist, low-regulation government benefits them.

However, in recent years, especially since the 2007-2008 recession, many have turned to viewing government as a revenue source, a competition crusher, an error-eraser, and a partner in padding their bottom line. Their interest in cheap labor, bailouts, and selectively-favorable legislation has led to a flood of dollars into the Democrat Party, or into political action committees (PACs) that attempt to move Republican congressional votes away from their bases’ expectations, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s push for amnesty. Meanwhile, a mix of bad deals and worse legislation left taxpayers and shareholders on the hook for trillions, millions lost their homes and jobs, and the senators and corporate heads responsible are laughing all the way to the bailed-out bank.

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Hey, Remember How VW Wanted to Open More Factories in the United States?

And remember how they supported unions, the (informed) workers supported unions, and hell, most of America wanted to see those plants opening up here because, jobs? And it was only a small handful of conservative morons who were all Socialism!!!!!, which of course neglects the fact that the same “socialism” was expanding production into America?

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Are We Underestimating America’s Fracking Boom?

Check Out Sasol’s Energy Complex in Lake Charles, La.

The Wall Street Journal, By Dennis Berman, May 27

Start with exotic Nazi technology, take a detour with South African apartheidists, and add a bit role for Iranian imams. What you have is—what else? —one of the most improbable and important American business stories of the past decade.

It’s the tale of a company called Sasol, the former South African state oil company, which is embarking on what could be the single-largest foreign investment project in U.S. history.

Sasol is building a 3,034-acre energy complex near a bayou in Lake Charles, La. Tapping into cheap, fracked natural gas as well as the pipeline and shipping infrastructure along the Gulf Coast, Sasol plans to spend as much as $21 billion there.

It is expensive, elaborate and dirty work. Sasol plans to reduce, or “crack,” the gas into ethylene, a raw chemical used in plastics, paints and food packaging. It also plans to convert the gas into high-quality diesel and other fuels, using a process once advanced by Nazi scientists to power Panzer tanks. The state of Louisiana is even kicking in $2 billion of incentives to make it happen.

[…]

So let’s put it this way: We are building a Qatar on the Bayou. From whole cloth, companies are laying new cities of fertilizer plants, boron manufacturers, methanol terminals, polymer plants, ammonia factories and paper-finishing facilities. In computer renderings, the Sasol site looks like a fearsome, steel-fitted Angkor Wat.


Sasol upbeat as projects come on stream

The Citizen, By Sasha Planting, June 10

Standard and Poor’s, the credit ratings agency, has revised its outlook on energy and chemical company Sasol from negative to stable meaning that its foreign currency credit rating by S&P is now BBB/Stable/A-2.

[…]

Notably, in February this year the company commissioned its ethylene tetramerisation project in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The plant, the first commercial plant of its kind in the world, beneficiates [huh – nice one…] ethylene into products that are used in the manufacture of plastics that require elasticity and strength.

Sasol is also moving forward with plans for its huge ethane cracker and gas-to-liquids (GTL) facilities in Southwest Louisiana.

With an estimated total cost of between $16-$21 billion (R171.2 billion-R224.7 billion), these projects mark the largest single manufacturing investment in the history of Louisiana, and one of the largest foreign direct investment manufacturing projects in the US.

It’s obvious that Mr. Jindal has what it takes to be … The Next President of the United States!

Bad Economic News

This statistic is less of a surprise than it appears:

Thanksgiving night shopping looked like a new family tradition this year as stores opened earlier and consumers took advantage of the extra time to spread out their Black Friday shopping.

The Thursday-through-Sunday tally, though, was less buying overall, according to data from several firms.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined brought in an estimated $12.3 billion in sales, according to shopping analytics firm ShopperTrak. Thanksgiving Day traffic grew 27% as nearly one-third of shoppers headed to stores on the holiday, according to the National Retail Federation. Many retailers opened earlier than ever, some at 5 or 6 p.m. Kmart opened at 6 a.m.

“Probably the most interesting is the amount of energy the consumer put into Thursday shopping,” says Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak. “The retailers did a good job getting them up from the dinner table and into stores.”

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Pope Francis – Marxist in Disguise?

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

It is not surprising that Rush Limbaugh, spiritual leader of the Republican Party – the man who determines Republican ideology and who enforces obedience to orthodoxy within the party – now finds Pope Francis a “Marxist”.  Pope Francis, spiritual leader to over one billion Catholics, has issued a direct assault on the Rush Limbaugh’s of this world, their paymasters in the business and financial community, and their political lackeys such as Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, Stephen Harper, David Cameron, Shinzo Abe, Tony Abbott, and Li Keqiang.  “I ask God to give us more politicians capable of sincere, effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots – and not simply the appearances – of the evils in our world!”  Francis put an exclamation point at the end of that sentence, and he could have said “give us just one politician” rather than “more politicians”, because it is clear when you read his pastoral exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospels), that none of the men or women in positions of power over today’s global economy qualifies as a healer of anything or anybody.

Political leaders come and go, but men like Rush Limbaugh seem to linger forever.  What is it about Pope Francis that makes Limbaugh see shades of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao?  Could it possibly be criticisms such as these:

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Austerity: It doesn’t work, which makes it the PERFECT solution for those addicted to magical thinking

liberal-pIn a time of challenge and adversity, It’s human nature to want to hunker down. Some of us might even want to dig a hole, crawl into it, pull the covers over our head, and wait for trouble to roll on by. Self-preservation is perhaps the most basic human instinct…but that desire to protect ourselves and those people and things we hold dear can on occasion lead us astray.

So it is with the debate over the budget deficit. If you listen to those on the Right, Job One (besides obstructing anything and everything Barack Obama stands for) is reducing the deficit. As they see it, the deficit is the ticking time bomb that we’re handing future generations. Failing to balance the federal budget now means that our children will be paying for our sins…and besides, what family or business could be run on deficit spending? AUSTERITY!! is the battle cry, and, so the argument goes, we can’t possibly hope to pull ourselves out of the current economic slowdown until we get our fiscal house in order.

Those of us on the Left don’t necessarily downplay the importance of the deficit, and indeed many are fully in favor of reducing it. They simply don’t see reducing the deficit as the Prime Directive, the thing that needs to be done before anything else. Of greater importance in their estimation is investing in education, infrastructure, health care…the things that government is supposed to do, and things that create large numbers of well-paying jobs. As you might imagine, this is the side of the fence I come down on…and for some very good reasons.
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