Category - The Markets

TPP talks make progress but no deal on Pacific trade

BBC, August 1

Negotiators from 12 Pacific nations have finished a week of talks without agreement on a regional trade deal.

But the US trade representative Michael Froman said ministers were more confident than ever that a deal on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership was within reach.

He said it would support jobs and economic growth.

Among the sticking points were issues relating to the automobile sector and access to dairy markets.

No date has been set for the next round of talks.

Defiant Varoufakis Says He’ll Quit If Greeks Endorse Austerity

Bloomberg Business, By Matthew Campbell & Guy Johnson, July 2

Yanis Varoufakis said Greece won’t “extend and pretend” that it can pay its debts, vowing to quit as finance minister if voters don’t support him in Sunday’s referendum.

With banks shuttered and Greece’s economy hobbled by capital controls, Varoufakis said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Athens that he would “rather cut my arm off” than sign a deal that fails to restructure Greece’s debt. The 54-year-old economics professor said he “will not” continue in his post if Greece endorses austerity in the plebiscite.

The minister’s comments illustrate the gulf between Greece’s government, which swept into office on a wave of discontent about budget cuts, and the creditors who are threatening to push it out of the euro. European governments led by Germany have condemned last weekend’s decision by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to pull out of talks and call a snap referendum on the conditions for financial aid. Polls suggest it’s too close to call.

“Maybe we’ll change the configuration of the government”

“We desperately want to stay in the euro,” Varoufakis said. “We are going to win on Sunday.”

Short video interview with Varoufakis at the link.

Via Zero Hedge: Varoufakis Will Resign If Referendum Passes, Says Would Rather “Cut Off Arm” Than Sign

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 Trans-Pacific Partnership: Toward Absolutist Capitalism

Naked Capitalism, By Lambert Strether, April 20

There are many excellent arguments against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), two of which — local zoning over-rides, and loss of national sovereignty — I’ll briefly review as stepping stones to the main topic of the post: Absolutist Capitalism, for which I make two claims:

1) The TPP implies a form of absolute rule, a tyranny as James Madison would have understood the term, and

2) The TPP enshrines capitalization as a principle of jurisprudence.

Zoning over-rides and lost of national sovereignty may seem controversial to the political class, but these two last points may seem controversial even to NC readers. However, I hope to show both points follow easily from the arguments with which we are already familiar. Both flow from the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, of which I will now give two examples. more

MoJo Explicator: Here’s What You Need to Know About the Trade Deal Dividing the Left

IMF tells regulators to brace for global ‘liquidity shock’

Financial engineering that preceded the last two financial crises is back, International Monetary Fund warns

The Telegraph, By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, April 15

An illusion of liquidity has beguiled financial markets across the world and spawned some of the worst excesses seen on Wall Street in modern times, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

Investors are borrowing money to buy shares on the US stockmarket at a torrid pace and are resorting to the same sorts of financial engineering that preceded the last two financial crises.

“Margin debt as a percentage of market capitalisation remains higher than it was during the late-1990s stock market bubble. The increasing use of margin debt is occurring in an environment of declining liquidity,” said the IMF in its Global Financial Stability Report.

“Lower market liquidity and higher market leverage in the US system increase the risk of minor shocks being propagated and amplified into sharp price corrections,” it said.
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Thousands in Germany protest against Europe-U.S. trade deal

Reuters, By Noah Barkin, April 18

Berlin – Thousands of people marched in Berlin, Munich and other German cities on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they fear will erode food, labor and environmental standards.

Opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is particularly high in Germany, in part due to rising anti-American sentiment linked to revelations of U.S. spying and fears of digital domination by firms like Google.

A recent YouGov poll showed that 43 percent of Germans believe TTIP would be bad for the country, compared to 26 percent who see it as positive.

The level of resistance has taken Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and German industry by surprise, and they are now scrambling to reverse the tide and save a deal which proponents say could add $100 billion in annual economic output on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sputnik News: Some 22,000 Participated in Anti-TTIP Protests Across Austria – Organizers

Thousands march in evening protest in downtown Montreal

Police quickly declared the demonstration illegal, arrests made

CBC, March 24

Thousands of protesters hit the streets of downtown Montreal Tuesday night as part of student protests against the province’s austerity measures.

Crowds gathered at Parc Émilie-Gamelin at 9 p.m. before marching along the downtown streets.

Police quickly declared the protest illegal, saying an itinerary of the route was not provided, and began making arrests.

CTV News: Montreal students protest for second night, police disperse crowds

France is Europe’s ‘big problem’, warns Mario Monti

Gallic nation threatens to blow Europe’s Franco-German axis apart, warns former Italian prime minister.

The Telegraph, By Szu Ping Chan, March 21

France has become Europe’s “big problem”, according to the former prime minister of Italy, who warned that anti-Brussels sentiment and the rise of populist parties in the Gallic nation threatened to blow the bloc’s Franco-German axis apart.

Mario Monti – who was dubbed “Super Mario” for saving the country from collapse at the height of the eurozone debt crisis – said France’s “unease” with the single currency had already created tensions between Europe’s two largest economies.

“In the last few years we have seen France receding in terms of actual economic performance, in terms of complying with all the European rules, and above all in terms of its domestic public opinion – which is turning more and more against Europe,” he told The Telegraph.

Overdue Justice for Ferguson, Missouri

For related articles by Numerian on the Ferguson racial crisis, see America’s Police on Trial, and The Cycle of Fear in Ferguson, Missouri, both posted on the jehoshuathebook.com website.
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The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division has released its report on the causes behind the civil disturbances last year in Ferguson, Missouri.  This is a long overdue contribution to the national discussion on race and municipal policing strategies and tactics.  During last year’s protests in Ferguson, several reporters wrote about what appeared to be a side issue: the propensity of the Ferguson city authorities to use the police force and the municipal court as a money-raising mechanism, which relied on harassment to enforce its fines and penalties liberally bestowed upon the African-American population of Ferguson.  This side issue turns out to be the main focus of the Department of Justice report. The report turns attention away from Officer Darren Wilson, who was exonerated by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations, based on what the FBI learned about the shooting of Michael Brown.  The evidence suggests that Officer Wilson was responding reasonably to a threat to his life.  The attention instead turns to the municipal practices in Ferguson which pressured the police department to harass African-Americans as a matter of routine.  City authorities put no constraints on police behavior, and had no concern for community safety standards.  Instead, the police department, and the municipal court system, were turned into profit centers, with business-like monthly targets for revenue generation.  Here is what the report reveals:

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