Category - Globalization

Why Is The U.S. Desperate To OK Slavery In Malaysia?

Huffington Post, By Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Ryan Grim & Laura Barron-Lopez, May 26

Washington – On Friday night, in an impressive display of dysfunction, the U.S. Senate approved a controversial trade bill with a provision that the White House, Senate leadership and the author of the language himself wanted taken out.

The provision, which bars countries that engage in slavery from being part of major trade deals with the U.S., was written by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). At the insistence of the White House, Menendez agreed to modify his language to say that as long as a country is taking “concrete” steps toward reducing human trafficking and forced labor, it can be part of a trade deal. Under the original language, the country that would be excluded from the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership pact is Malaysia.

But because the Senate is the Senate, it was unable to swap out the original language for the modification. (The chamber needed unanimous consent to make the legislative move, and an unknown senator or senators objected.) So the trade promotion authority bill that passed Friday includes the strong anti-slavery language, which the House will now work to take out to ensure that Malaysia (and, potentially, other countries in the future) can be part of the deal.

Observers are left with a deeper question: Why, in the year 2015, is the White House teaming up with Republican leaders essentially to defend the practice of slavery?

[…]

But Malaysia also borders what is effectively China’s jugular vein: the Strait of Malacca.

Via Naked Capitalism: America’s First Black President Throwing Slaves Under the Bus on TPP

Today’s Victory Day celebrations in Moscow mark a turning point in Russian history

Vineyard of the Saker, May 9

Today is truly a historical day. For the first time ever, the West has boycotted the Victory Day Parade in Moscow and, also for the first time ever, Chinese forces have marched on the Beautiful Square, (“Red” square is a mistranslation – the “Red Square” ought be called the “Beautiful Square”) with the Russians. I believe that this is a profoundly symbolic shift and one which makes perfectly good sense.

[…]

Both Russians and Americans are quite aware of what is at stake and neither side can back down. On one hand, if the US/NATO/EU prevail, they will have succeeded in breaking the Russian “back” and Russia will rapidly be submitted. Should that happen, all the BRICS countries will soon follow, including China. On the other hand, if Russia prevails in the Ukraine, then the US grip on the EU will soon be weakened and, possibly, lost altogether and the entire world will see that the Empire is crumbling. Should that happen, the entire international financial system will escape from the AngloZionst control and liquidate the petrodollar. The consequences of such a collapse will be felt worldwide.

The presence of Xi Jinpin next to Putin on this historic day, the participation of the Chinese military in the parade and the presence of PLA Navy ships alongside the Russian Black Sea Fleet, is a direct and powerful message to the world: in this titanic struggle, China is fully throwing her weight behind Russia.

[Sidebar: Notice on the photo of Xi and Putin that there is one more absolutely crucial figure sitting next to the war veteran: Nursultan Nazarbaev, the President of Kazakhstan. The crucial role this man has played to shape today’s world has not been recognized, but with time I am sure it will. Long before Putin, it was Nazarbaev who did everything in his power to prevent the breakup of the Soviet Union, the creation and strengthening of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union. I would note that Putin has, on several occasions, expressed his deep admiration for, and gratitude to, Nazarbaev whom he has explicitly described as the “father” of the new Eurasian union.]

This is the “new Russia” – one literally flanked by her two allies, China and Kazakhstan. It is hard to over-estimate the importance of this event: for the first time in 400 years Russia has finally fully turned her face to her natural ecosphere – the East.

The “War on Cash” in 10 Spine-Chilling Quotes

Wolf Street / Naked Capitalism, By Don Quijones, April 27

The war on cash is escalating. As Mises’ Jo Salerno reports, the latest combatant to join the fray is JP Morgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., which recently enacted a policy restricting the use of cash in selected markets; bans cash payments for credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans; and disallows the storage of “any cash or coins” in safe deposit boxes. In other words, the war has moved on from one of words to actions.

Here are ten quotes that should chill the spine of any individual who cherishes his or her freedom and anonymity:

1. Kenneth Rogoff (from the intro to his paper The Costs and Benefits to Phasing Out Paper Currency):

Despite advances in transactions technologies, paper currency still constitutes a notable percentage of the money supply in most countries… Yet, it has important drawbacks. First, it can help facilitate activity in the underground (tax-evading) and illegal economy. Second, its existence creates the artifact of the zero bound on the nominal interest rate.

In other words, cash (not money) is the source of all evil and must be destroyed because governments can’t trace its every movement, and it represents a limiting factor on central banks’ ability to continue their insane negative-interest-rate experiment.

Leading House Democrat Will Oppose TPP Fast Track

The Nation, By George Zornick, April 14

As legislation to fast-track congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership gets ready to finally make its debut in Congress this week, a top Democratic member of the House announced he would oppose the bill.

Representative Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, wrote in a letter to Representative Sandy Levin, the ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee, that he would oppose fast-track authority, also known as Trade Promotion Authority or TPA. The letter was obtained by The Nation and its authenticity was confirmed by an aide to Van Hollen.

Van Hollen opposed a previous iteration of fast-track legislation last year, as did most other top Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But so far, many of those Democrats (including Van Hollen) had not yet announced a position on the new TPA legislation being hammered out by Senators Ron Wyden, Orrin Hatch, and Representative Paul Ryan. (Levin opted out of those talks, and believes Congress should see at least the outline of a trade deal before taking up legislation to fast-track its approval.) Pelosi still remains publicly undecided.

If Van Hollen—a visible member of the Democratic caucus and ranking member of a major committee—ultimately supported the Wyden-Hatch-Ryan bill, it would have been a signal that House Democrats were ready to go along with the Obama administration’s trade agenda. But in his letter, Van Hollen wrote “it is clear that many [of my concerns] will not be included in a revised TPA.”

Hullabaloo: “Fast Track” For TPP To Be Introduced This Week
Down With Tyranny!: A Vote in April on Fast Track & TPP?

US anger at Britain joining Chinese-led investment bank AIIB

US statement says of UK membership that it is ‘worried about a trend of constant accommodation’ of China, in a rare public breach in the special relationship.

The Guardian, By Nicholas Watt, Paul Lewis & Tania Branigan, March 12

The White House has issued a pointed statement declaring it hopes and expects the UK will use its influence to ensure that high standards of governance are upheld in a new Chinese-led investment bank that Britain is to join.

In a rare public breach in the special relationship, the White House signalled its unease at Britain’s decision to become a founder member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) by raising concerns about whether the new body would meet the standards of the World Bank.

The $50bn (£33.5bn) bank, which is designed to provide infrastructure funds to the Asia-Pacific region, is viewed with great suspicion by Washington officials, who see it as a rival to the World Bank. They believe Beijing will use the bank to extend its soft power in the region.

The White House statement reads: “This is the UK’s sovereign decision. We hope and expect that the UK will use its voice to push for adoption of high standards.”

Deflation Swamps Switzerland

originally posted Jan 17

Shocking!  Unprecedented!  Unfair!  These were some of the politer adjectives used by financial experts to describe this week’s decision by the Swiss National Bank to abandon its currency peg to the euro.  As is often the case with major central bank decisions involving currencies, the public finds it very hard to understand what is happening or why it matters.  In Switzerland’s case, the situation was made even more confusing by the central bank lowering its overnight money rate to negative 0.75%.  This means you have to pay interest to the central bank for the privilege of lending them your money, an act that strikes many as contrary to the laws of nature.  Doesn’t the lender always earn interest, and the borrower always pay?  Not in the topsy-turvy world of deflation, which is the strange financial anti-matter world that Switzerland now inhabits.  The Swiss no doubt are asking themselves how they have found themselves in such a situation.  We would all do well to ask the same question, because deflation is the most important financial reality facing the world today. Read More

LEAKED: Secret Negotiations to Let Big Brother Go Global

The ugly ramifications of the Trade in Services Act (TiSA)

Wolf Street, By Don Quijones, December 25

Much has been written, at least in the alternative media, about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), two multilateral trade treaties being negotiated between the representatives of dozens of national governments and armies of corporate lawyers and lobbyists (on which you can read more here, here and here). However, much less is known about the decidedly more secretive Trade in Services Act (TiSA), which involves more countries than either of the other two.

At least until now, that is. Thanks to a leaked document jointly published by the Associated Whistleblowing Press and Filtrala, the potential ramifications of the treaty being hashed out behind hermetically sealed doors in Geneva are finally seeping out into the public arena.
Read More

Obama hopes to enlist GOP in push for trade pact, despite Democratic resistance

Washington Post, By David Nakamura, December 26

President Obama is preparing a major push on a vast free trade zone that seeks to enlist Republicans as partners and test his premise that Washington can still find common ground on major initiatives.

It also will test his willingness to buck his own party in pursuit of a legacy-burnishing achievement. Already, fellow Democrats are accusing him of abandoning past promises on trade and potentially undermining his domestic priority of reducing income inequality.

The dynamic, as the White House plots strategy for the new year when the GOP has full control of Congress, has scrambled traditional political alliances. In recent weeks, Obama has rallied the business community behind his trade agenda, while leading Capitol Hill progressives, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have raised objections and labor and environmental groups have mounted a public relations campaign against it.

The administration is moving aggressively in hopes of wrapping up negotiations by the middle of next year on a 12-nation free-trade pact in the Asia Pacific before the politics become even more daunting ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for the administration,” said Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), a pro-trade Democrat viewed by the administration as a key ally. “They need to get out and educate members and address the concerns they might have. I’ve been advising colleagues who are skeptical and not supportive of trade to at least engage in conversations and feedback.”

Keep an Eye on the Yen

Global financial crises have a tendency to spring upon the world unsuspected, especially if the foreign exchange markets are involved, since they tie all global markets together (equities, bonds, commodities, derivatives).  That’s why it is necessary to keep one eye fixed for the moment on the yen.

The yen was trading around Yen 100/$ in October.  On Halloween, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda surprised the financial markets with a massive expansion of the central bank’s Quantitative Easing program.  The Japanese central bank is now using QE to buy up every new bond that the Ministry of Finance is issuing.  This constitutes 100% monetization of Japanese debt by its own government, a situation which is unprecedented in modern finance among major industrialized countries.  The foreign exchange markets reacted poorly to this announcement, on that same day driving the yen down to Yen 110/$.  Today it has now crossed the Yen 120/$ threshold, meaning several things.  It is cheaper to buy yen – for every dollar spent, you now get 20 more yen than a few months ago.

This is great news for Japanese exporters, because their products are now 20% cheaper merely because of an exchange rate change.   But the flip side of this is that Japan is exporting its deflation problem (which has persisted for over 20 years now), by forcing its competitors to lower their prices by 20%.  This is a real problem for American and European manufacturers, who can’t afford such a hit to their revenue, but it is devastating for the Chinese export machine, since “Made in China” is the mainstay of the Chinese economy.  China can quietly or not so quietly protest to the Japanese government, but much more likely, China can allow its currency to devalue in order to restore its competitiveness.  This is how currency wars start, and currency wars have been the most frequent source of global financial crises in the past 30 years.

Japan will be under terrific pressure to halt the slide in its currency – but here’s the nub of the problem: Japan is out of tools to defend itself financially.

Read More

Just When You Thought QE Had Ended

New Japanese head guy, wants to rearm and provoke China.  A real genius!

(originally posted Oct 31)
This week the Federal Reserve put an end to their fourth round of Quantitative Easing, having exploded their balance sheet from $800 billion at the start of QE, to over $3 trillion today. Everyone thought that the financial markets would now have to live without the monetary dope that has been fueling euphoria in stock markets in the U.S. and elsewhere. Everyone was wrong. In a completely unexpected move, the Bank of Japan announced it was expanding its Quantitative Easing program from 70 trillion yen to 80 trillion yen, bringing its monetary base to the equivalent of $750 billion. The purpose of all this liquidity? The Bank of Japan is desperately trying to achieve its target of 2% price inflation. Read More

3bb1012ca7881a903f6bb688401857a5453d3be4