Princes of the Yen

In this outstanding documentary, loosely based on Professor Richard Werner‘s book with the same title, we can not only better understand the post WWII japanese economic history, but also comprehend how “independent” central banks were introduced in Asia, first in Japan with the legal modifications induced by the 1989-1990 japanese stock market crash and, later, with the 1997 Asian Crisis, also in the “tiger” economies of South East Asia.

The documentary convincingly argues and documents, that modern central banking serves purposes and objectives that often have very little to do with the welfare of their own nations and a lot to do with projects of economic and social engineering and financial colonization by western financial institutions, most of them based in America. The often perverse role played by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is compellingly explained.

One of the strengths of the documentary is to explain with precision how the transformation of the social and economic structures of whole countries, and of successful ones by the way, are planned years, in the case of Japan, decades, in advance, how are economic crisis artificially created and how, when crisis finally break out, “independent central banking” and fire sale of domestic assets to foreign investors are systematically imposed on nations that lose their economic independence…forever.

The documentary ends with a warning to Europeans about the true nature of Europe’s own “independent” central bank: the European Central Bank (ECB).

0,1% > 90%

The increase in inequality in the western world is a theme that is increasingly discussed. Occasionally you come into a statistic that in a very simple way explains the degree of inequality that has been “achieved”. The Economist publishes this chart where it is easily visible that the top 0.1% of the USA population in terms of wealth owns as many assets as the bottom 90%. As the chart ends in in 2013, you can safely assume that the situation is now worse (or “better”)?

“The authors examine the share of total wealth held by the bottom 90% of families relative to those at the very top. In the late 1920s the bottom 90% held just 16% of America’s wealth—considerably less than that held by the top 0.1%, which controlled a quarter of total wealth just before the crash of 1929. From the beginning of the Depression until well after the end of the second world war, the middle class’s share of total wealth rose steadily, thanks to collapsing wealth among richer households, broader equity ownership, middle-class income growth and rising rates of home-ownership. From the early 1980s, however, these trends have reversed. The top 0.1% (consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average) hold 22% of America’s wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak—and almost the same share as the bottom 90% of the population.

Fracking Fraud

In Shale Fraud Created by Wall Street, The Burning Platform (TBP) analyzes and exposes some key facts about the “fracking revolution” that are usually hidden from the public due to, according to TBP, the hype fostered by Wall Street. As Shale Bubble reports, “the Reality is that the so-called shale revolution is nothing more than a bubble, driven by record levels of drilling, speculative lease & flip practices on the part of shale energy companies, fee-driven promotion by the same investment banks that fomented the housing bubble, and by unsustainably low natural gas prices. Geological and economic constraints – not to mention the very serious environmental and health impacts of drilling – mean that shale gas and shale oil (tight oil) are far from the solution to our energy woes”. USA energy independence will certainly not come from fracking.

Excerpts:

KEY FINDINGS, SHALE GAS

      • High productivity shale gas plays are not ubiquitous: Just six plays account for 88% of total production.
      • Individual well decline rates range from 80-95% after 36 months in the top five U.S. plays.
      • Overall field declines require from 30-50% of production to be replaced annually with more drilling – roughly 7,200 new wells a year simply to maintain production.
      • Dry shale gas plays require $42 billion/year in capital investment to offset declines. This investment is not covered by sales: in 2012, U.S. shale gas generated just $33 billion, although some of the wells also produced liquids, which improved economics.

KEY FINDINGS, TIGHT OIL (SHALE OIL)

      • More than 80 percent of tight oil production is from two unique plays: the Bakken and the Eagle Ford.
      • Well decline rates are steep – between 81 and 90 percent in the first 24 months.
      • Overall field decline rates are such that 40 percent of production must be replaced annually to maintain production.
      • Together the Bakken and Eagle Ford plays may yield a little over 5 billion barrels – less than 10 months of U.S. consumption.

KEY FINDINGS, THE FINANCIAL PICTURE

    • Wall Street promoted the shale gas drilling frenzy which resulted in prices lower than the cost of production and thereby profited [enormously] from mergers & acquisitions and other transactional fees.
    • Industry is demonstrating reticence to engage in further shale investment, abandoning pipeline projects, IPOs and joint venture projects.
    • Shale gas has become one of the largest profit centers in some investment banks, in direct parallel with the decline of natural gas prices.
    • Due to extreme levels of debt, stated proved undeveloped reserves (PUDs) may have been out of compliance with SEC rules at some shale companies because of the threat of collateral default for some operators.

Typewriter Salvation

Typrewriter

Armstrong Economics and The Guardian both report of the latest breakthrough in anti-eavesdropping, anti-NSA technology: the typewriter. Depending on how old you are, you might not even have seen, much less used, one. Well, it is a device that allows you to type letters, documents, in a non-electronic environment, the way it was done well into the 1960s, a device that, until the NSA finds an AI-based way to detect subtle changes in air pressure caused by fingers typing a continent away might be the best solution for those that need to share sensitive written information and who, at the same time value privacy, an endangered species, unfortunately.

The Bundestag is leading the way:

“The head of the Bundestag’s parliamentary inquiry into NSA activity in Germany said in an interview with the Morgenmagazin TV programme that he and his colleagues were seriously thinking of ditching email completely.”

“Asked “Are you considering typewriters” by the interviewer on Monday night, the Christian Democrat politician Patrick Sensburg said: “As a matter of fact, we have – and not electronic models either”. “Really?” the surprised interviewer checked. “Yes, no joke,” Sensburg responded.”

Typewriters in,  America’s prestige out.

 

 

Smedley Butler revisited

 

 

According to Wikipedia “Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler is well known for having later become an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences, as well as exposing the Business Plot, a purported plan to overthrow the U.S. government.” In 1935 he published a book that with the title “War is a racket” defended the thesis that the USA waged wars with the main purpose of protecting Wall Street and corporate America.

SmartKnowledgeU has produced a modern version of the same thesis expressed in a simple map that requires little comment.

 

Dark Belgian Chocolate

In his  article, Who Is The New Secret Buyer Of U.S. Debt?, Brandon Smith tries to solve one of the mysteries of recent events in financial markets: the enormous increase in US Treasury Bonds reserves held by Belgium. As you can appreciate in the chart above, Belgium has, in a few months, increased its reserves of US Treasury Bonds by more than 70%. This, for a country like Belgium, does not make any sense and it is suspected that those bonds belong to somebody else. Mr. Smith floats the theory that the real buyers of US Bonds would be the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), as part of a long term plan to displace the US Dollar and introduce the IMFs Special Drawing Rights (SDR) as the New World Order’s new global currency. Of course, he cannot prove his case, but the article is interesting nevertheless.

Breakfast inflation

One of the least discussed and at the same time most important aspects of this economic crisis is the discrepancy between official inflation measures used by the FED, the Consumer Price Index( CPI) and, specially, Personal Consumer Expenditures (PCE), and the real inflation experienced by real people. One example of this last real inflation is the cost of a breakfast as measured by the Breakfast Beverage Index, that is at its highest level in 2 years. If you want to learn more about how inflation is mismeasured and misrepresented in the USA, visit Shadowstats.

Source: Bloomberg

All guns, not much butter

When thinking about the USA it is easy to fall for the idea that it is the wealthiest country in the world and that it would be difficult for people to hunger there. Reality is different. As the article published by Zerohedge illustrates, 21% of the USA population can’t afford food. In contrast, the USA accounts for 42% of the world’s military spending. Guns, but not much butter.military_spending_big.png

 

 

 

Brave New 1984

Zerohedge publishes a review of the 2 most well known dystopian books of the twentieth century, Brave New World from Aldous Huxley, published in 1932 and 1984 from George Orwell, published in 1949. The article by Zerohedge extensively quotes 2 previous articles, “Orwell, Huxley and the Emerging Totalitarianism” by Emmet Scott and  “2011: A Brave New Dystopia” by Chris Hedges. Chris Hedges appears most insightful when he states that “It turns out that Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.”

Some excerpts:

“The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.”

“We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from “Brave New World” to “1984.” The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled. “

“The corporate state does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader. It is defined by the anonymity and facelessness of the corporation. Corporations, who hire attractive spokespeople like Barack Obama, control the uses of science, technology, education and mass communication. They control the messages in movies and television. And, as in “Brave New World,” they use these tools of communication to bolster tyranny. Our systems of mass communication, as Wolin writes, “block out, eliminate whatever might introduce qualification, ambiguity, or dialogue, anything that might weaken or complicate the holistic force of their creation, to its total impression.””

“The façade is crumbling. And as more and more people realize that they have been used and robbed, we will move swiftly from Huxley’s “Brave New World” to Orwell’s “1984.” The public, at some point, will have to face some very unpleasant truths. The good-paying jobs are not coming back. The largest deficits in human history mean that we are trapped in a debt peonage system that will be used by the corporate state to eradicate the last vestiges of social protection for citizens, including Social Security. The state has devolved from a capitalist democracy to neo-feudalism. And when these truths become apparent, anger will replace the corporate-imposed cheerful conformity. The bleakness of our post-industrial pockets, where some 40 million Americans live in a state of poverty and tens of millions in a category called “near poverty,” coupled with the lack of credit to save families from foreclosures, bank repossessions and bankruptcy from medical bills, means that inverted totalitarianism will no longer work.”

“The noose is tightening. The era of amusement is being replaced by the era of repression. “

Arrogance, Hubris and Evil

The leaked phone conversation today between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and the Estonian foreign affairs minister Urmas Paet, where the estonian minister stated that “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” gives credence to the article from Dr. Paul Craig Roberts about the crisis in the Ukraine that we excerpt below.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is an American economist. He served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and was noted as a co-founder of Reaganomics. He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service. He has testified before congressional committees on 30 occasions on issues of economic policy.

He has recently published in his blog a series of articles (this, this and this) where he defends the position that what stands behind the “revolution” in the Ukraine is the purpose of the USA and the “West” of controlling that country, with the ultimate goal of weakening Russia on the way to targeting China. As he says, “Only three countries stand in the way of Washington’s hegemony over the world, Russia, China, and Iran.”

“Neocons and the Ukraine Coup” by Robert Parry and “US a full partner in Ukraine debacle” by Stephen Kinzer are also interesting articles defending the same thesis, but here we’ll just excerpt some paragraphs from Dr. Paul Craig Roberts’  “Washington’s Arrogance, Hubris, and Evil Have Set the Stage for War”:

The excerpts:

“As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn pointed out, it was folly for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to transfer historic provinces of Russia into Ukraine. At the time it seemed to the Soviet leadership like a good thing to do. Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union and had been ruled by Russia since the 18th century. Adding Russian territory to Ukraine served to water down the nazi elements in western Ukraine that had fought for Hitler during World War 2. Perhaps another factor in the enlargement of Ukraine was the fact of Khrushchev’s Ukrainian heritage.”

“Regardless, it did not matter until the Soviet Union and then the former Russian empire itself fell apart. Under Washington’s pressure, Ukraine became a separate country retaining the Russian provinces, but Russia retained its Black Sea naval base in Crimea.”

“Washington tried, but failed, to take Ukraine in 2004 with the Washington-financed “Orange Revolution.” According to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, since this failure Washington has “invested” $5 billion in Ukraine in order to foment agitation for EU membership for Ukraine. EU membership would open Ukraine to looting by Western bankers and corporations, but Washington’s main goal is to establish US missile bases on Russia’s border with Ukraine and to deprive Russia of its Black Sea naval base and military industries in eastern Ukraine. EU membership for Ukraine means NATO membership.”

Washington wants missile bases in Ukraine in order to degrade Russia’s nuclear deterrent, thus reducing Russia’s ability to resist US hegemony. Only three countries stand in the way of Washington’s hegemony over the world, Russia, China, and Iran.”

“Russia has been slow to react to the many years of Washington’s provocations, hoping for some sign of good sense and good will to emerge in the West. Instead, Russia has experienced rising demonization from Washington and European capitals and foaming at the mouth vicious denunciations by the West’s media whores. The bulk of the American and European populations are being brainwashed to see the problem that Washington’s meddling has caused in Ukraine to be Russia’s fault.”

“Note the absurdity of the situation. Kiev has been taken over by ultra-nationalist neo-nazis. A band of ultra-nationalist thugs is the last thing the European Union wants or needs as a member state.”

Everyone needs to understand that Washington is lying about Ukraine just as Washington lied about Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, just as Washington lied about Iranian nukes, just as Washington lied about Syrian president Assad using chemical weapons, just as Washington lied about Afghanistan, Libya, NSA spying, torture. What hasn’t Washington lied about?

“Washington is comprised of three elements: Arrogance, Hubris, and Evil. There is nothing else there.”