Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Calpers Dives Deeper into High Risk Investments

The reason for this, beside the typical mix of corruption and de facto kickbacks, is that without high yields there will be no money to pay the upcoming tidal wave of public sector retirees. Calpers has an unusually high investment return target of 7.75 percent, and has increased its stakes in venture capital, hedge funds, and private equity. The situation is not pretty: it hit a peak value of $260 billion in October of 2007, fell to $160 billion, and now sits at around $200 billion.

The safest 'retirement' fund is Social Security, simply because almost everyone is vested. The more specialized a fund, the more it can separated from the concerns of the general population. Calpers retirement packages can presented as the benefits of sour DMV workers (never mind police and firefighters) - i.e., someone else, which makes it politically vulnerable to deep cuts in the coming years.

1"Laying on bets at America's biggest pension fund" - Reuters; Christie, Ablan, Henderson

Irish Labor is Too Expensive

Widely reported, but Dell is in the process of moving a manufacturing plant from Limerick to Poland. Labor costs are reportedly 2/3 rds lower.

The reaction of political leaders ? Irish deputy prime minister Mary Coughlan said 'the government hoped Dell would choose Ireland for future investment, reflecting the nation's ambition to become a European hub for research and development'.

This is only what every developed and semi-developed country in the world is planning. Not an original idea in their head.

1"EU approves Poland's €55m grant to Dell for Lodz plant" - Irish Times; Smyth
2"Dell Ditching Ireland For Poland" - Huff Po

Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Future As A Financial Colony ?

So Brad de Long believes.

But he issues a caveat: "Can anything stop this progression? Yes. A collapse of world economic growth—which would create a very dangerous and angry world. Or a sudden return to thrift on the part of American consumers — so that we can finance the industrialization of the rest of the world rather than having them finance our consumption. But neither is likely."

No Jobs bill, no restraint on credit card mendacity, and a tax on 'Cadillac' health plans. Persistent high unemployment, a debased dollar, and debt peonage will cripple the U.S. consumer and force global re-balancing. A slow motion crash of the world economy.

1"Our future as a financial colony" - The Week; de Long
2"An American Savings Glut" - previous post

Why Exactly Did Hu Have to Leave the G8 ?

Thinking about the Xinjiang riots, and his abrupt departure back to Beijing.

There is no way those riots posed any systemic threat to the authority of the state. However they could have served as a pretext for political intrigue within the CCP.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

CIA's In-Q-Tel Expands Influence

The CIA's venture capital fund is investing in another data crawling and monitoring operation. No details on the size of the investment.

This is as much about building relationships in Silicon Valley as it is getting information through a product. The CIA needs talent, and a lot of it is in the Valley. It's important to have a visible presence.

1"U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets" - Wired; Shachtman

The Biggest Bubble of Them All

China needs an “urgent” tightening of monetary policy to prevent the huge stimulus measures introduced this year from inflating stock and property bubbles, one of the country’s leading bankers has warned.

Qin Xiao – chairman of China Merchants Bank, the country’s sixth-biggest – says in Thursday’s Financial Times that the government should not be afraid of a “moderate slowdown” in the economy...

...Tomo Kinoshita, an economist at Nomura International, said in a report on Wednesday that China risked creating an asset bubble similar to Japan’s in the 1980s if it continued with aggressive lending at the same time as deregulating its financial markets.
1"Top China banker warns on asset bubbles" - Financial Times; Dyer


What will be the internal reaction when the bubble collapses ? (While also noting that bubbles can go on a very long time.)

This sentence from Qin Xiao's article is interesting, in light of Wu Jinglian's recent warning about the increasing power of centralization tendencies: "However, there is growing concern, especially in China, that the temporary stimulus programme might evolve into permanent government control of the economy".

2"China must keep its eyes fixed on the exit" - Financial Times, Qin Xiao
3"'Maoists' Gaining Influence in China's Government ?" - Previous Post

Friday, October 23, 2009

Asian Central Banks at a Crossroads

Matthew Brown and Patricia Lui write: "Asian central banks are running out of ammunition to fight their currencies’ biggest rally since 1998, paving the way for South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and India to help lead foreign-exchange performance next year".

Their options ? Appreciation and a collapse in export production, with a rise in unemployment. Or rapid inflation as "as they flood their economies with local currencies sold for foreign cash". This can also lead to the kind asset bubbles blowing up in coastal China.

There also might be the return of capital controls, such as Brazil recently implemented.

The simple answer would be to grow internal markets. But, as Jeffrey Frieden notes, "political economies dominated by powerful export interests face fundamental challenges to those interests, as their export orientation may no longer be sustainable".

1"Won Crushes Yen as Dollar Substitute in Asian Rally" -Bloomberg; Brown and Lui
2"The Political Economy of Recovery and Rebalancing" - Econbrowser, Jeffrey Frieden

A Capital Strike

Zero Hedge: "Total bank reserves with the Fed hit an all time high, surpassing $1 trillion, as banks continue to hoard cash. The amount of extra lending that could have taken place but didn't was $65 billion week over week, or a $130 billion increase in just the past month."

The disconnect in the M-C-M' formulation. There is no need reason for profit-seeking organizations to lend capital if there are few opportunities for profit. In a world market glutted with capacity, it might even take the liquidation of a country or region before 'opportunities' arise. Meanwhile millions are under and unemployed.

1"Excess Bank Reserves, Fed Balance Sheet Assets Skyrocket To Record High Levels" - Zero Hedge

Krugman Calls China, Goes All-In on Trade War

Nothing much to say. These tendencies are inevitable when capitalism goes into crisis.


"China has been keeping its currency pegged to the dollar — which means that a country with a huge trade surplus and a rapidly recovering economy, a country whose currency should be rising in value, is in effect engineering a large devaluation instead ....

The biggest victims, by the way, are probably workers in other poor countries. In normal times, I’d be among the first to reject claims that China is stealing other peoples’ jobs, but right now it’s the simple truth...

The point is that with the world economy still in a precarious state, beggar-thy-neighbor policies by major players can’t be tolerated. Something must be done about China’s currency."

So what does Mr. Krugman propose doing ???

1"The Chinese Disconnect" - NYT, Krugman

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Introducing the Sucre

The most fundamental philosophical challenge to capitalism, neo-liberalism, and Washington's dominance is coming not from Asia, but from Latin America.
The leftist Latin American ALBA trade bloc is scheduled Friday to approve measures that would replace US dollars with a new virtual currency for regional commerce, an official said here.

Bolivian Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade Pablo Guzman told reporters that members of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) "will replace the dollar in commercial exchanges" between members with the Unified Regional Compensation System, or sucre.

The new monetary system was adopted in principle at an ALBA summit in April by organization members, which include Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica, Saint Vincent, Antigua and Barbuda.

1"Leftist Latin American bloc to stop using dollars in trade" - AFP
2"Bolivia summit adopts new currency" - Al Jazeera
3"Alba Summit to Strengthen Regional Integration" - Cuban News Agency

Trichet Sweats

Jean-Claude Trichet, president of European Central Bank:
“We never had a grand plan to promote the international role of the euro,” he said.“We always said the contrary, we said we are not campaigning for the international use of the euro.”
"I trust that it is extremely important that the U.S authorities, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the Fed will pursue policies that are taking into account the fact that the strong dollar is in the interest of the United States of America, and I trust them to respond very clearly."
While Airbus pressures:
"At current levels, the situation is becoming very difficult for all industrial companies that have their costs in euros,” Airbus SAS Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier said in Paris on Oct. 8. “We can only appeal to monetary authorities to ensure currency stability."
No single country has the non-financial productive capacity to support the weight of a reserve currency. Yet breaking up the post-World War 2 order within the context of capitalism, means the collapse of globalization, destabilizing nation-state disputes, and possibly a replay of the events that led to world war. The gangsters in New York and Washington know this, and count on their weaker cousins to preserve the system, even as they drive the dollar into the ground.

1"Trichet Says U.S. Must Pursue ‘Strong Dollar’ Policy" - Bloomberg
2"ECB's Trichet: strong dollar comments important"- Forbes

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bernanke Warms to IMF-Style Shock Therapy For the U.S.

"Ben Bernanke said on Monday that it was "extraordinarily urgent" that the US and Asia adopt policies that prevent a revival of global economic imbalances as the financial crisis ebbs.

The Federal Reserve chairman warned that global imbalances -- the big gaps between national saving, consumption and investment rates reflected in large trade deficits and surpluses -- had helped cause the crisis and needed to be corrected." - CNN

Debasing the U.S. dollar is not primarily about increasing U.S. exports; much of these jobs are not coming back , as much because of technology as cheap overseas labor.

A larger reason for dollar debasement is to weaken the U.S. consumer and force a change in the trade balance by reducing consumption. The faction of the U.S. ruling class currently in power feels to much has been given away.

This is another reason why there is no significant jobs program in the offing, high unemployment will depress wages - helping a few domestic manufacturing industries, but also crippling consumption.

Bernanke also added"“The United States must increase its national saving rate,” he said. “The most effective way to accomplish this goal is by establishing a sustainable fiscal trajectory, anchored by a clear commitment to substantially reduce federal deficits over time.”-NYT

Again, crippling the U.S. consumer and debilitating the U.S. worker by cutting entitlements and public resources.

The general tone of Bernanke's speech was one of a genteel gangster.

1"Bernanke warns on imbalance risks with Asia" - CNN
2"Bernanke Calls for Action on Trade Gap" -WSJ
Bernanke cautions on risks from imbalances" - UK Times
Asia Said to Be Leading the Globe Out of Crisis"-NYT

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rebalancing Underway

And the U.S. government is forcing the rebalancing by debasing the dollar. Debasement is crushing imports and tightening the spending of the U.S. consumer. This could lead to destabilizing devaluation turf battles in East Asia, and a Germany that can't export its way out of recession. Meanwhile, foreign reserve holdings of dollar denominated assets will be worth less.

And good luck going to SDR's when most of the world is fighting tooth and nail for market share.

Export oriented countries will eventually - after depleting their reserves in one fashion or another - reap the whirlwind of any long term trade collapse. And it does look like the collapse is long lasting.
In another sign of how deep the global recession has become, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Friday reported their worst combined import statistics for September in nine years...

The port of Los Angeles received 309,078 containers packed with imported goods in September, representing a decline of 16% from the same month last year and 27% from September 2006, L.A.'s best month ever for imports. Long Beach received 224,924 import containers in September, a drop of 19% from a year earlier and 32% from September 2007, the port's best September ever.
1 "Imports dive at ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach" - LA Times

Republicans Blocking Unemployment Insurance Extension

Sometimes there is a real difference between the parties.

Though - the perpetual whine about filibusters reveals the inherent weakness in the Democrats. There are fairly established ways to get around filibusters, and their theoretical possibility never stopped Bush II.

Because of the actions of two Republican senators, every day this month 7,000 jobless workers have lost their unemployment insurance (UI) coverage. Each day these two Republicans continue to stand in the way of Senate passage of a UI extension, 7,000 more workers will run out of benefits.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has tried twice to bring the UI measure to a vote on the Senate floor. First Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), then Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) blocked action.

Re: Kyl, Arizona is one of the worst hit states in the recession.

1"Kyl and Hatch Block Unemployment Aid for Tens of Thousands of America’s Jobless" - AFL-CIO

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Going Pro

To many college coaches are selfish when it comes to the future of their star players. Compare the fates of three top-line college quarterbacks from 2008. Mark Sanchez pissed off Pete Carroll when he decided to go pro; Carroll couched it as concern for his player, but it was more likely because it left him stuck with a freshman starting quarterback. Nine months later, and Sanchez is a multi-millionaire who has achieved early success as a starter for the New York Jets. Meanwhile two of his counterparts - Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow - have suffered serious injuries which potentially damaged their long-term health, career, and ability to make some money in a game with a very short lifespan. Bradford had to leave another game early this weekend, after aggravating a shoulder injury that occurred during a sack. As the reigning Heisman trophy winner, Bradford would certainly have been a Top 5 selection in the draft of 2009. Tebow would probably not have gone as high, but as a former Heisman and 'National Championship' winner, he had nothing left to prove in college. Concussions can destroy a career, not to mention quality of life. One recalls the multiple concussion of Steve Young, another scrambling quarterback. We can only hope Tebow's recent concussion is a one time event.

1 "Pete Carroll: Mark Sanchez should have stayed at USC" - LA Times
2"Oklahoma's Sam Bradford Shows Us Why High Picks Should Take the Money" - Bleacher Report
3"Tests to determine Tebow's return" - ESPN
4"Bradford re-injures throwing shoulder" - ESPN
5"Carroll embarrasses himself, Sanchez during press conference" - Sports Illustrated.com

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Obama to Add 45,000 More Troops in Afghanistan ?

The Uk Telegraph leaked this. We will see if it's true.

---The US is expected to announce a significant surge of up to 45,000 extra troops for Afghanistan after Gordon Brown said that 500 more British troops would be sent to the country....Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said: "I don't want to put words in the mouths of the Americans but I am fairly confident of the way it is going to come out."---

Also, apparently the BBC: "The BBC said the U.S. troop increase "could exceed 40,000," but it provided no source for the information."

1"United States to send 'up to 45,000 more troops to Afghanistan'" - UK Telegraph
2 "Obama and aides debate options for Afghanistan"- AP

About Those Co-ops

Only rarely are they related to egalitarianism or 'socialism'. As with non-profits, it's often about dodging taxes.

The AP is a major Co-op:

"AP operates as a not-for-profit cooperative with more than 4,000 employees working in more than 240 worldwide bureaus. AP is owned by its 1,500 U.S. daily newspaper members. They elect a board of directors that directs the cooperative."

Looking at the board of directors, I have a feeling there is not a lot of imagining about "Another World is Possible".

1 AP Facts and Figures
2 AP Board of Directors

Argentina May Default Again

Argentina will be forced to default by 2011 unless the government reaches an accord with investors holding $20 billion of bonds kept out of the last restructuring offer, Stone Harbor Investment Partners says.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is negotiating terms of an agreement, which the government needs to regain access to international capital markets that it lost after stopping payments on $95 billion of debt in 2001. Since then, Argentina has relied on local markets and loans from Venezuela to meet financing needs, and seized about $24 billion of pension fund assets last year to compensate for falling tax revenue.

This again highlights the importance of the failed coup of Hugo Chavez in 2002. Venezuela's ability and desire to float loans all over South America has put a very tangible crimp in the power of the United States. This is a very good thing, given the long and sordid past that the U.S. has in the region.

However, there are limits to what a rather smallish Venezuelan economy can loan. But through it one can see the potential for a Latin American Fund, or a Developing Nations Fund, as a counterpoint to finance sources dominated by the United States or Europe.

1"Argentina May Default Without Debt Accord"- Bloomberg
2 "Obama Advisor (Larry Summers) Suggests Argentina Won't Get IMF Money -Report" - Dow Jones NewsWires

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Military is Flush With Recruits

Aided by a bleak job market, the U.S. military met all of its recruitment goals in the past year for the first time since it became an all-volunteer force in 1973, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Military services have been stretched thin by conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, giving added weight to recruitment efforts as President Barack Obama considers sending another 40,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan next year.

The United States already has 67,000 troops in Afghanistan and about 119,000 in Iraq.

I wonder if unemployed musicians are rushing to join the Armed Services bands, as well.

1"Bleak U.S. job market boosts military recruitment" - Reuters
2 U.S. Army Band Job Openings

'Foreign Banks In US Won't See Status Quo Return'

William Dudley, New York Fed President, in a recent speech to the Institute of International Bankers:
Dudley said that reform of financial oversight would benefit from a few key changes. He said rules that helped show the true level of risk faced by banks would be good, as would rules that helped preserve bank capital in times of stress.

Banks that are seen as "systemically important," or too big to fail, should have higher capital standards, Dudley said. He added that the "development of efficient forms of capital" that could turn debt securities into equity in times of trouble would be welcome, as well.
The emphasis on 'higher capital standards' is a form of U.S protectionism, as U.S. banks have been given unrestricted access to the spigot of free money, via Fed money laundering. European banks do not have this political or economic ability, so their respective countries have focused more on pay and bonus reform.

As the Guardian summarized recently :
European nations are lukewarm about a US demand that banks should be better capitalised, complaining that American institutions have benefitted from vast government injections of funds.

European nations, meanwhile, intend to push for a cap on bankers' pay, seen as a contributing factor to reckless risk-taking which prompted the credit crunch.
European banks, especially from the Continent, will see their U.S. operations squeezed if capitalization regulations come to the fore.

1 "Financial meltdown tops agenda as G20 summit convenes in Pittsburgh" - UK Guardian
2"Fed's Dudley: Foreign Banks In US Won't See Status Quo Return" - WSJ

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Andy Xie: The Original Dr. Doom ?

He doesn't find much to be happy about in China's current money lending and printing spree:

"When something seems too good to be true, it is. World trade — the engine of global growth — has collapsed. Employment is still contracting throughout the world. There are no realistic scenarios for the global economy to regain high and sustainable growth.

China is an export-driven economy. Bank lending can support the economy for a short time, however, stocks are as expensive as during the heydays of the last bubble. Like all previous bubbles, this one, too, will burst."


Combine a collapse of China's asset bubbles with the resurgence of 'Maoist'/Centralization tendencies within the Politburo, and there is very plausible scenario in which China retreats from Western globalization. This could be accompanied by a push for a trade and currency bloc, encompassing the historic Chinese sphere of influence in South East Asia.

1"Here We Go Again" - Andy Xie

Gold Reserves

Italy clocks in at #4 with 2697 tons, China at # 6 with 1159 tons.

The top 5 are the U.S., Germany, the IMF, Italy and France. Hapless Great Britain sold off half their reserves and isn't in the top 15.

There are some good reasons beyond tradition that the Barbarous Relic still has value. One is, you can't counterfeit gold. Fiat currencies are increasingly easy to do so.

1"The World's Biggest Gold Reserves" - CNBC

Monday, October 12, 2009

Job Training: Hairdresser or Math Teacher ?

The 'Workplace Investment Act' allows people on unemployment to take approved classes in designated high-need areas, and still receive their benefits. In California, there are just a few Math-related programs in the entire state.

Versus scores of Hairdresser-related programs.

(first of three pages)

To have kids learn math, the State needs math teachers, of which there are a dramatic shortage right now. That requires training a large pool of adults to teach the subject. Otherwise, promises to rebuild the education system around 'hard science' are mostly just bullshit.

1 "Eligible Training Provider List - Occupation Search, Workplace Investment Act" - Employment Development Department, California

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Export Oriented Countries Are Still Very Vulnerable

Andy Xie writes: "The big change that happened is a rapid increase in the U.S. household savings rate. It happened much more quickly than I expected and has the potential to change the global economy."

Given that there has been no shift to a consumption model in either East Asia or Germany, the hibernation of the U.S consumer is still a major issue extant in the world economy.

If a country cannot consume what it produces, it is ultimately reliant on the 'kindness of strangers' to support domestic employment. Not a good idea in a world of nation states and stagnant growth.

Climate Talks Failing

The latest round of UN climate talks in Bangkok has ended with deep divisions over the shape of a new global treaty.

Developing countries want an extension of the Kyoto Protocol; but developed nations are arguing for a completely new agreement.

Poorer countries and environment groups accuse the west of lacking ambition.

There are now only five negotiating days left until the opening of the UN summit in Copenhagen

What a failure of international governance. There are clear solutions to a clear problem, but it looks like nothing substantial will be done. The nation state was once a progressive force in human history, but now it is a parochial as the fiefdom. But an unelected world government representing bankers, i.e. Brussels-on-Steroids, is equally unappetizing.

1 "UN climate talks split on treaty" - BBC News
2 "The Post World War 2 Order is Tottering" - Blended Purple

Friday, October 9, 2009

Asian Exporters Turf Battles

Another reason to be dubious of the 'Asian Century'. Nearly all the countries (excepting India) are currently export dependent, in that they produce far more then they consume. This can easily lead to currency wars and competitive devaluations, which is largely what yesterday's dollar move was about.

As the Financial Times reported :

"Asian central banks intervened heavily in the currency markets on Thursday to stem the rise of their currencies against the US dollar amid fears that their exports could be losing ground to China, reports the FT."

This reveals an underlying tension in Asia - and that is, China is not especially popular, nor is the Chinese merchant class. It's why many countries in the region agree with the counterweight of an American economic and military presence. It's also a large reason why U.S. / India nuclear pact was signed.

1 "Asia steps in to support dollar" - FT/Alphaville
1 "Asian banks move to prop up the dollar" - UK Times
3 "The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal" - Council on Foreign Relations
Previous Posts: 4"Export Oriented Countries Still Very Vulnerable"

Iran Isn't Buying The Peace Prize Stuff

Gas rations are cut in half, as the country stockpiles in the eventuality of a Western blockade.
Iran plans to nearly halve the amount of gasoline that motorists can buy at a heavily subsidised price, state television reported on Thursday, in what could be a politically controversial proposal.
Nor should they (buy the Peace Prize stuff):
The Pentagon said a giant "bunker buster" bomb will be ready within months, adding a powerful weapon to the US arsenal amid tensions over Iran's nuclear program.

The 30,000-pound massive ordnance penetrator (MOP) is designed to knock out fortified sites buried deep underground, like those used by Iran and North Korea to protect its nuclear work.

1 "Iran plans to cut subsidised gasoline supply: report" - Reuters
2 "US 'bunker buster' bomb to be ready soon: Pentagon" - AFP

Nobel Peace Prize Officially Meaningless

This is preposterous. And how exactly does it square with what is going on in Afghanistan ?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The End of the Dollar ?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard recently wrote:

"Clearly this is more than a dollar problem. It is a mismatch between the old guard – US, Europe, Japan – and the new powers that require stronger currencies to reflect their dynamism and growing wealth. The longer this goes on, the more havoc it will cause to the global economy.

The new order may look like the 1920s, with four or five global currencies as regional anchors – the yuan, rupee, euro, real – and the dollar first among equals but not hegemon."

Without an international reserve currency or a dominant global power to 'enforce' peace, the competing forces of nation-state capitalism would ruthlessly work to undermine and destabilize their competitors - in the worst case scenario, leading to another global war.

But despite furtive meetings between the Gulf States, France, China and Brazil - the chances of these countries agreeing on anything substantial is practically nil. Ultimately, the only possible competitor to the dollar is an economic region that can match the United States both militarily and economically. No one is on the horizon now, and so the Fed is able to devalue the dollar without eroding the power of Wall Street. This type of devaluation is bound to end up causing damage to economic rivals. An inordinately strong Euro damages German exports, as a strong Yen damages Japanese (ask Toyota). In China, dollar devaluation to a pegged yuan means a ballooning bubble in real estate that dwarfs California circa 2005.

Of all the post-World War 2 institutions, dollar dominance seems the strongest at this point.

1 "China calls time on dollar hegemony" - UK Telegraph

Some CIA Facebook Tinfoil

This article, from 1999, is one source of the story:
The CIA is opening a venture capital business targeting emerging technologies -- and has hired a well-known Silicon Valley executive to run the operation.

Two people figure prominently in the article, Gilman Louie and Jim Breyer. Louie was hired by the CIA to manage the venture capital fund, named In-Q-It, while Breyer was used to buttress Louie's credentials in the context of the article. Both men served on the board of the National Capital Venture Association where, judging by the article, they developed a strong friendship or working relationship. Breyer also managed a VC fund named Accel Partners that went on to put 12 million dollars of seed money into Facebook.

The direct links are pretty weak. What seems clear is that the CIA made connections with a young generation of Silicon Valley venture capitalists at the end of the 1990's. How those connections have and will be utilized remains shrouded in secrecy.

1 "CIA starts 'fun' high-tech fund" - ZD Net UK

World Bank Running Low on Cash

In times of crisis, nation states look inward first, and protect themselves first.

The Bank, whose job it is to support low-income countries, has had to hand out so much cash in the wake of the financial crisis that it faces a shortfall in what it can spare for new projects within 12 months.

“By the middle of next year we will face serious constraints,” said its president Robert Zoellick, as he launched a major campaign to persuade rich nations to pour more money into the Washington-based institution.

He conceded that such a task was likely to be extremely difficult, given the difficulties facing countries in the wake of the developed world’s biggest recession since the Second World War.

1 "World Bank could 'run out of money' within 12 months" - The UK Telegraph

Maersk Line to Cut 10 % of Labor Force

No signs of a strong or permanent rebound in international trade.

Danish conglomerate AP Moller Maersk AS's container division, Maersk Line, is cutting 2,000-3,000 jobs from its 25,000 global workforce as part of a new strategy to turn the business around and return it to sustainable profitability.

1 "Moller's Maersk Line to cut 2,000-3,000 jobs in reorganisation" - AP

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Japan Will Take Over the World

I grew up hearing this mantra in high school, much as teachers and students are lectured about the 'threat' of China today. But a lot can change in 20 years, whether it be from 1989 to 2009, or 2009 to 2029.



And 2009:
Sept. 29 -- Japan’s consumer prices fell the most in at least 38 years in August, heightening the risk that prolonged deflation may hamper the country’s recovery from its deepest postwar recession.

Oct. 2 -- Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest automaker, is “grasping for salvation” as it predicts a second straight annual loss, President Akio Toyoda said.

“We have to listen to our customers and make better cars,” Toyoda said in a speech to journalists in Tokyo today. The 53-year-old grandson of Toyota’s founder became president of the Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker in June.

The automaker is one step away from “capitulation to irrelevance or death,” Toyoda said, citing a study of how companies fail. Toyota has forecast a record loss of 450 billion yen ($5 billion) in the year ending March after the worldwide recession pummeled car demand.

1 "Toyota Says Company Is ‘Grasping for Salvation’" - Bloomberg
2"Japan’s Deflation Deepens as Prices Fall Record 2.4%" - Bloomberg
3 "Japanese Buy New York Cachet With Deal for Rockefeller Center" - New York Times, 1989

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Collaborators Feeling Uneasy in Iraq

There was once a swagger to the scotch-swilling, insurgent-fighting Raed Sabah. He was known as Sheik Raed to his sycophants. Tribesmen who relied on his largess called him the same. So did his fighters, who joined the Americans and helped crush the insurgency in Anbar province.

Sabah still likes his scotch -- Johnnie Walker Black, with Red Bull on the rocks -- but these days, as the Americans withdraw from western Iraq, he has lost his swagger. His neighbors now deride him as an American stooge; they have nicknamed his alley "The Street of the Lackeys."

These guys are pawns in the Great Game. Look what happened to the Shia, after the West abandoned support for their uprising at the end of the 1st Gulf War. It's about tactics and Divide and Rule - abandonment should not come as a surprise to anyone.

1 "In Iraq's Anbar, a deep sense of abandonment" - MSNBC

Palin, NOW, and Letterman

Two quotes regarding Letterman's jokes about Palin's daughters.

"Comedians in search of a laugh should really know better than to snicker about men having sex with teenage girls or young women half their age."


"No wonder young girls especially have such low self-esteem in America when we think it's funny for a so-called comedian to get away with such a remark as he did. "

One quote was from the respected National Organization of Woman. One was from designated country-rube/ village idiot Sarah Palin. Hard to tell the difference in their actual substance.

Anyone in the real world who was sleeping with multiple subordinates would be fired. That would be the case even for senior management. Is it so hard for Letterman to find dates outside of work ?

1 "Palin was right about Letterman" - KC Star
2 "Letterman Haunted by the Ghosts of Monica Lewinsky Jokes Past" - Gawker