The Spirit of Davos

Jon Stewart, of The Daily Show fame, glimpses and parses, assisted by an “All Access Badge” , the Spirit of Davos. Enjoy and do not miss the end of the clip, where Samantha Bee reports right from the “Panel of Emerging Economies” where “the leaders at the World Economic Forum are laser focused on making this a fairer and more equal planet”

Reverse Robin Hood explained

In this article published by Zerohedge we can find a cogent explanation of the present process of wealth redistribution from poor to rich, a phenomenon felt everywhere. Whether this process is an intended one, a sort of conspiracy, or just “collateral damage” of unsound monetary and economic policies, is for the reader to decide. This is, in words of Stanley Druckenmiller, one of the most successful hedge fund managers, “the biggest redistribution of wealth from the middle class and poor to the rich ever”. Don’t miss the charts, they are self explanatory. As a summary, the aim of achieving this wealth redistribution is achieved thru several mechanisms:

A – “the rich hold assets, the poor have debt”

B – QE has resulted in a loss of purchasing power for the US dollar. Faced with this problem, consumers in the middle class are taking on more non-housing debt in order to maintain the same standard of living. In addition, the US government – which continues to run a deficit year after year – continues to accumulate debt. Due to these facts, total debt outstanding – aka credit market instruments for all sectors – is at all time highs. More debt means more interest payments and lower savings rates. These trends do not bode well for the middle class consumer.

C – On the other hand, QE has been great for the rich. QE has inflated the prices of assets such as property, bonds, stocks, and non-home real estate.

D – Taxes as a percentage of real disposable income have more than doubled since 1980. This trend has not been kind to the bottom 90%.

E – Median household income has been in a downtrend since the late 90s.

F – The entitlement problem is only going to get worse as more baby boomers leave the work force. Future generations will have to pay for the debt that the old and rich continue to take on.

In conclusion, QE, taxes, income disparity, and entitlements are contributing to “the biggest redistribution of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich ever” If things continue the way they are going, then millennials and future generations will pay the price:

Mr. Draghi & the “european banking union”

ECB on collision course with Germany on banking union @ Financial Times

Financial Times publishes this article about the reluctance of Germany to the intent of the ECB to get total supervisory and resolution control over all banks in the eurozone. The so-called “european banking union” plans seek to place eurozone banks under the overarching supervision of the ECB, followed by the creation of a bank resolution scheme for the bloc and, eventually, a common deposit scheme.

“In the 32-page opinion to EU institutions in Brussels, the ECB said the new agency, known as the single resolution mechanism, should be “strong and independent” with clear, unitary powers to force failing banks to either recapitalize or shut down.”

“The stance puts Mario Draghi, ECB president, in direct conflict with Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, who has repeatedly said the EU’s new bank bailout system should instead start as a “network” of national authorities because EU treaties do not allow for a single decision maker for all of Europe.”

“Differences between Brussels and Berlin over the way forward for a new EU bank executioner – which many officials believe is the biggest shift in sovereignty for the eurozone since the creation of the single currency itself – has slowed progress towards banking union to a crawl.”

Mr. Draghi’s haste in trying to get total control of the european banking system, something well beyond what was envisioned both in the intentions and the written law of the EU and ECB treaties, is another, perhaps the definitive, step towards protecting the banking industry from accountability and democratic (even if very mild and imperfect at present) control.

Germany’s reluctance is very logical, since once the ECB gets supervisory and resolution authority over all banks in the eurozone, it will have all the tools to perpetuate a “dual economy”, with a financial sector that not only finances itself at rates (basically zero) that have nothing to do with the rates at which citizens and small and mid enterprises have to finance themselves (if at all), but whose supervision would be in “friendly hands”. Friendly hands to them, banks, but unfriendly to citizens, whose savings are being constantly debased by a zero-interest-rate-policy that increasingly looks no longer like a temporary fixture but as a permanent feature of a new neo-feudal financial architecture.

It is a pity that such aspects are seldom mentioned when discussing the implications of the innocently named “european banking union”. One would hope that Germany would stand firm (even if partially for selfish reasons), but fear it will not. The “european banking union” is not a positive development for those who believe in a democratic Europe and a restrained and accountable financial sector.

Prescient George Carlin

Many of us have spent time in the USA, a country for which we have harbored kind thoughts and fond memories. But in the age of the NSA spying even on the closest allies, in the age of american drones killing civilians in a routine fashion, in the age where Wall Street and its tool, the Federal Reserve, have induced, first, a global financial crisis and, then, are intent on destroying whatever is left of the middle class thru a gigantic reverse Robin Hood transfer of wealth via zero interest rates and QE, in the age where the USA has the highest debt levels in its history (except peak of WWII) and does not plan to do anything to stop abusing the “exorbitant privilege” of having the, so far, world’s reserve currency, in the age where the USA involves itself in, or even promotes, uncountable wars, declared or not, for purposes that nothing have to do with national security, terrorist menace, justice, or the betterment of the life of its own citizens, in this age…there are many that believe that the America they once knew, either never existed (very likely), or is long gone.

Why has the country, once assumed to be the “land of the free”, changed so much? Or has it? Perhaps what is today visible to many was once only visible to a few. One of them is the already deceased comedian and author George Carlin, who, in this video, filmed in 2005, analyzes the “American Dream”. In 2013 it is not only not dated but insightful and prescient.

TYReads about NDAA “program 1033”

A hidden process, perhaps related to the rising inequality in american society, is discussed by The Guardian in America’s police are looking more and more like the military where it explores how, quietly, America’s government is militarizing it’s own homeland, expecting perhaps, widespread civil unrest. Some excerpts:

“A little-known Pentagon program has been quietly militarizing American police forces for years.”

“In the fine print of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1997, the “1033 program” was born. It allows the Defense Department to donate surplus military equipment to local police forces.”

“Though the program’s existed since the 1990s, it has expanded greatly in recent years, due, in part, to post-9/11 fears and sequestration budget cuts. The expanse, however, seems unnecessary given that the Department of Homeland Security has already handed out $34bn in “terrorism grants to local polices forces – without oversight mind you – to fund counter-terrorism efforts.”

“...the program is transforming our police into a military. The results of such over-militarized law enforcement are apparent from the dispersion of Occupy protesters in Oakland to the city-wide lockdown in Boston.”

“But when local police forces carry assault weapons and patrol America’s main streets with tanks and drones, the lines blur between the military and law enforcement. The growing militarization of the United States appears to be occurring at home as well as abroad, a phenomenon which is troublesome and sure to continue without decisive action. Scaling back the 1033 program is a much-needed start and would cast some light on the blurring line between military forces and the local police who are meant to protect and serve.”

America’s “high moral ground” in Syria

Little miracle: Two years ago, Shakira, whose name means thankful, was discovered badly burned in a bin following a drone attack in Pakistan

Drums of war again. Among unproved allegations of a chemical attack by the Syrian government against its own people, the USA is preparing to go to war, again, and topple the Syrian regime. Not that the Syrian regime is a model one and that deserves praise, but if the allegations of a chemical attack are false, why the relentless march forward of America towards war? There is a geostrategic reason behind it, one that we explored in our previous post Arab Spring, Arab Fall & where it all began, in which we described how Wesley Clark, already in 2001 shortly after the S11 attacks, discovered the blueprint of a plan for a domino-like makeover of most of the Middle East countries, a plan that looking back 12 years into the future, has been executed in all but Syria and Iran. The main beneficiary of such a plan is “the one that cannot be named”.

Syria is a special case though. It is the place where the forces opposing the banking oligarchy that controls the West have decided to make a stand. Not that they care much about the Syrian population, but they care about their interests. These forces are Russia, China and Iran.

America seems to be willing to risk a bigger confrontation and seems to be prepared to justify it with a False Flag operation, which is what the chemical attack allegations seem to be given the fact that the Syrian government, winning the war against “the rebels”, has little to gain and lots to lose by perpetrating such a crime. It would not be the first time and it will most likely not be the last given the nature of the present day USA.

A different issue is whether the USA has any high moral ground on which to base its case for war. We believe that it has none, the country and its owners discredited after the Iraq War based, also (?), on false allegations of use of weapons of mass destruction, and the continuous use of drones in bombing operations, undeclared wars in foreign countries not authorized by the american Congress, where thousands of civilians have been killed or severely injured, like the girl in the photo above, victim of a USA drone attack perpetrated in Pakistan in 2011. High moral ground or shifing moral sands?. The latter.

TYReads about Cognitive Infiltration

It seems we’ll have to get used to a new neologism, “Cognitive Infiltration”, after the Obama administration is proposing to pick Cass Sunstein to serve on the NSA Oversight Panel, the body responsible for reviewing allegations of NSA privacy abuses.

As The Washington Post reports in Obama pick for NSA review panel wanted paid, pro-government shills in chat rooms, “while at Harvard in 2008, Sunstein co-authored a working paper that suggests government agents or their allies “cognitively infiltrate” conspiracy theorist groups by joining ”chat rooms, online social networks or even real-space groups” and influencing the conversation.”

“Sunstein’s paper defined a conspiracy theory as “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role,” and acknowledges that some conspiracy theories have turned out to be true. It also specifically notes that his plan of “cognitive infiltration” should only be used against false conspiracy theories that could be harmful to the government or society.”

“But even the suggestion that the government should infiltrate groups that are not actively participating in criminal acts is troubling. ”

“The paper also suggests that the government “formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech.”

“A man with such a credulous view of government power might not be the best choice to review allegations of NSA privacy abuses.”

The man in his full glory trying to avoid uncomfortable questions:

Germany says “Ja” to Bitcoin

Despite strong opposition by the american government, Bitcoin appears to be winning some important battles. You can read more about the virtual currency in Bitcoin a virtual currency that defies the NWO.

Bitcoin recognized by Germany as legal tender @ >CNBC.com Some excerpts:

“Virtual currency bitcoin has been recognized by the German Finance Ministry as a “unit of account”, meaning it is now legal tender and can be used for tax and trading purposes in the country.”

“Bitcoins is not classified as e-money or a foreign currency, the Finance Ministry said in a statement, but is rather a financial instrument under German banking rules. It is more akin to “private money” that can be used in “multilateral clearing circles”, the Ministry said.”

” “We should have competition in the production of money. I have long been a proponent of Friedrich August von Hayek scheme to denationalize money. Bitcoins are a first step in this direction,”said Frank Schaeffler, a member of the German parliament’s Finance Committee, who has pushed for legal classification of bitcoins.”

Bitcoin: the Berlin streets where you can shop with virtual money @ The Guardian Some excerpts:

“Florentina Martens has had the same experience since opening her Parisian-style cafe Floor’s two months ago just a couple of streets away. “There is not a prototype Bitcoin payer,” she said. “It’s random people. Not only nerds, let me put it that way.” ”

” “It’s an easier way of digital payment than credit cards, which cost me a lot of money as a business and to which I’m forced to sign up for years,” she says.”

”  “The truth is, I really want to believe in it. And I like the fact that Bitcoin scares people in suits, because if this thing were to really take off, it would bankrupt a lot of bankers.” ”

“Crypto-currency experts meeting Patzer at a recent Bitcoin soiree in the back of Floor’s cafe prefer to talk of the recent dip as a correction rather than a crash, which has brought Bitcoin back to a realistic price while it has retained its underlying value.” ”

” “I would look at these spikes and corrections as the birth pangs of an entirely new system,” said Mike Gogulski, a Bitcoin developer. “It represents an opportunity to transform the way we deal with the flows of wealth and human energy.” “

Alexandra Leaving, Alexandria Lost

Suddenly the night has grown colder.
The God of love preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart.

… … …

Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for the occasion;
In full command of every plan you wrecked
Do not choose a coward’s explanation
That hides behind the cause and the effect.

And you who were bewildered by a meaning;
Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed
Say goodbye to alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to alexandra lost.

Say goodbye to alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to alexandra lost.

Today Financial Times publishes an article by Philippe Sands, “Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson: a special relationship”, that describes and explores the nature of the friendship between the poet/musician Leonard Cohen and the songwriter/vocalist Sharon Robinson. In it the process of creation of the song “Alexandra Leaving” is described. This song is based on a poem by Constantine Cavafy titled “The God Abandons Anthony”. Some excerpts:

“As we explore the lyrics of “Alexandra Leaving”, I ask whether she might sing the song. “Right here, in the bookshop?” Yes.”

“Downstairs, in the shop’s poetry corner, I come across a copy of C P Cavafy’s Collected Poems, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn, whose commentary on “The God Abandons Antony” explains that the title is taken from Plutarch’s Life of Antony. The poem describes the last night on earth of Mark AntonyCleopatra’s lover, as his troops desert him. As Mendelsohn notes, “All Alexandria knew that Antony’s cause was totally lost.” Subsequently defeated, and believing Cleopatra to be dead, Antony takes his own life. Plutarch’s account emphasises the importance of the act of hearing, a “vehicle for apprehending the true significance of what is taking place”. ”

“The connections between the song and the original poem are close. A beloved city (Alexandria, in Egypt) becomes a beloved woman (Alexandra), offering what Cohen has described as “a certain take on loss”. ”

Also today Monty Pelerin’s World publishes “Tyranny Rules”, where the unrelentless process by which the American Republic slides into tyranny is explained. Some Excerpts:

“The Founding Fathers knew the dangers of power and were especially concerned about preventing abuses. They established boundaries beyond which government and its agents were not to exceed. These constraints were codified by laws, a government made up of three equal branches and strong independent states. The Constitution provided the initial laws and defined allocation of power and responsibility among the branches of government and the federal and state governments.”

“Over the course of more than two centuries, these constraints have been under assault by those desiring more power. Time and opportunists have seriously eroded the original intentions and boundaries. “

“Historians in the future will use the concept of freedom to explain America’s decline. Just as increasing freedoms brought success, the diminution of this freedom (tyranny) will eventually be used to explain the downfall. The fall of freedom is the same as the rise of tyranny.”

“America is now run by political sociopaths, unrestricted by laws, ethics or tradition. That characterizes both political parties. It does not matter whether we elect a “good man” next. No country survives dependent on the masses electing the right man.”

“Countries survive with systems that protect them against the wrong man. We have lost that protection.”

Aware of this process it is difficult to avoid the feeling that what Cavafy’s poem and Cohen’s song both convey, of something valuable irretrievably lost, can also be applied to us, that our Alexandria, in western societies, is also lost, and that some of us, too, experience “a certain take on loss”.