Politics, society, and why everything is going to hell. - Page 26
Gerald Celente on the Upcoming Seed Event and Why People Need to Think for Themselves to Avoid a Replay of the 1930s
The Daily Bell is pleased to publish this exclusive interview with Gerald Celente (left).
Introduction: Forecasting trends since 1980, Mr. Gerald Celente is publisher of the Trends Journal®, Founder/Director of the Trends Research Institute® and author of the highly acclaimed and best selling books, Trend Tracking and Trends 2000 (Warner Books.) Using his unique perspectives on current events forming future trends, Gerald Celente developed the Globalnomic® methodology, which is used to identify, track, forecast and manage trends. His on-time trend forecasts, vibrant style, articulate delivery and vivid public presence makes him a favorite of major media. The Trends Research Institute has earned its reputation as "today's most trusted name in trends" for accurate and timely predictions. On the geopolitical and economic fronts, Celente and The Trends Research Institute are credited with predicting the collapse of the Soviet Union, the last two economic recessions, the dot-com meltdown, the 1997 Asian currency crisis, the 1987 world stock market crash, increased terrorism against America, "Crusades 2000," the quagmire in Iraq ... before war began and much more.
Daily Bell: Let's jump right in and ask you to comment on the Seed Event taking place on Saturday, October 13, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (Seedevent.org). Tell us about it. How are you directly involved?
Gerald Celente: The Seed people contacted me after hearing my interviews from various other media. The Seed Event is very different from most of the presentations that I give. What is interesting is this is the kind of audience I relate to genuinely. The first book I ever worked on was called Natural Healing, back in 1986. I also have an honorary doctorate in complimentary medicine from the National University of Health Sciences.
Daily Bell: You identify with the audience?
Gerald Celente: The Seed Event to me is the closest to the ideal type of group that I like to speak with because, by definition, people who attend are people with open minds. My motto at the Trends Research Institute and the Trend Journal is "Think for yourself." That was passed on to me by my father.
So going back to the upcoming Seed Event, it's a learning experience. You go there with an open mind, wanting to obtain information that is going to improve your life, rather than going to an event so you can hear people reinforce your ideologies and reinforce what you already know. I was very much involved in the first "New Age" movement, which began in the '70s, that went through to the mid-'90s. I lived in Reinbeck, where the Omega Institute is located. I began meditating back in the early '80s and took Tai Chi and practiced close combat for 25 years. So I have broad interests in areas of New Age Philosophy.
The "New Age" was gaining momentum but what changed it was when Bill Clinton and Al Gore got elected. And I wrote this in my book, Trends 2000, in 1996. They were Baby Boomers, but they were no more than a continuation of the older Establishment regime and even worse. They codified what previous administrations couldn't ... like NAFTA and other legislation that took more rights away from people and exported jobs.
Daily Bell: That's what really killed the "New Age" movement?
Gerald Celente: For a time. Now we're going into a "New, New Age," as I mention in the latest Trends Journal, because people are broke, people are desperate, people are searching.
Think about it ... Who are the great philosophers of the day? I'll tell you who – Jon Stewart, Colbert, Bill Maher ... CLOWNS have become the philosophers ... two-bit clowns. So there's this huge vacuum and people are searching for the truth. And what Seed is ... you go to this event to help find the truth and if you are awake and aware you find out the truth that is within you.
Daily Bell: You're speaking on "The Future of Life As We Know It – Environment, Economy, Globalization." Can you give us a bit of a summary?
Gerald Celente: Everyone is looking to the future but most people featured in the mainstream media are bringing more of the same. The future is dim and people have become walking zombies. You look at who the big producers are today in Hollywood. They are comic book freaks. Spielberg, a comic book freak. He'll tell you. And what does he produce? Comic book crap. Batman. Comic book freaks.
The men have not grown up in America. They're little boys. The people who want to progress, and that's what's going to happen, will go to the Seed Event. People there are searching for a future that's richer than what's now and that has integrity built into it as part of the DNA.
Daily Bell: Okay. Let's focus a bit more on The Trends Research Institute you founded. What are the major trends occupying you right now?
Gerald Celente: Right now the major trends that are occupying me are the American election, the European debt crisis, the Syrian war and the push by America, Israel and NATO for expanding war in Syria and Iran. Time for class warfare, baby! People are losing it. They're losing it in Greece. They're losing it in Spain. They're losing it in Egypt and Tunisia.
I remember when I was 18 years old. I went to see the movie, "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote. It was these two guys who were terrorizing this farm family and they were overdosing on aspirin, if I remember. That's an everyday occurrence now. How many people get blown away everyday? It's a common occurrence now. I read about it all the time. Guy kills his ex-wife and her boyfriend and the mother. That's today's news. It's happening everywhere. Nothing is going to change until the individual changes and that is what Seed Event is about. There is no leader to lead you. You're the leader; you create your future. Why would you let anybody else do it for you?
Daily Bell: Speaking of leadership, let's turn to politics, of which you are not a fan. Nonetheless, you are skilled in political analysis. What's happened to Dr. Ron Paul's campaign?
Gerald Celente: He lacked the fire and passion. I said this when it was going on, that he would be marginalized at the debates. He would talk over the audience's head and he turned off a very large potential audience. For the record, I was asked to go meet Dr. Paul when the campaign started. I declined. Look, you can't have it both ways. He didn't stand up and fight hard enough to gain his position.
Just to give you a little background, I began running political campaigns in Westchester County, the most affluent county in the United States, back in the '70s. I was the assistant to the secretary of the New York Senate and I taught American politics and campaign technology at St. John's University. So I know a thing or two about running a campaign. Here's the truth: He let his core constituency down. They were fighting harder than he was. He lacked the passion.
Daily Bell: What do you think of Rand Paul? Is he politically ambitious?
Gerald Celente: Most politicians are ambitious. Dwight D. Eisenhower said any man or any person that wants to become president is either an egomaniac or a crazy person, or something to that effect and that no one should run for office, they should be chosen. And of all the presidents, by the way, he's the only one I really, really respect. So to answer your question, yes, he's ambitious. He will keep running for office. This is a continuation of high school. Same people that you couldn't stand who wanted to be class president and ran for student council ... they haven't stopped running.
Daily Bell: What are your thoughts on President Barack Obama? Can he win?
Gerald Celente: Our forecast that we made on October 3, 2011 was yes, Obama will win. The "teleprompter president." Politics is show business for ugly people. And Obama is a better performer. You couldn't get a more stiff, insincere, programmed, plastic person than Mitt Romney. And Obama's going to continue to attack Romney.
You have to understand the presidential reality show. Two candidates ... well, who are the candidates? One is a guy that could have been a model for Van Heusen shirts, using Vitalis in his hair. The other is the savvy, scruffy guy from the streets who's made good. Who is the better person to put on the presidential reality show? Van Heusen shirts are almost dead and nobody uses Vitalis any more. So even the best of the campaign strategists can't deal with the wrong image at the wrong time and Romney is the wrong image at the wrong time.
Daily Bell: Does it matter if Obama wins?
Gerald Celente: If Obama wins, it matters because to me, by their deeds you shall know them. And Obama's deeds terrify me. Obama overthrew Libya. Obama is instigating the war in Syria. Have you heard the words "peace plan" attached to either Israel or Palestine since Obama has been in office?
He doesn't even make a pretense of it. To me it's disgusting what the world is letting happen to the Palestinian people. And they are screaming and yelling what Gaddafi was doing to his people and what Assad is doing to his people!
Nobody speaks up for the atrocities against the Palestinian people. I am sick and tired of hearing the word "settlers." This is not an old western where wagons are going across the empty plains ... no, this is a land grab. And I'm allowed to say what I want against America but I'm not allowed to say what I want against Israel? I'll say what I want to say ... I'm not an anti-Semite. So where's it going to go? It's going to get worse because Obama is slick!
Daily Bell: Do conservatives believe in Mitt Romney?
Gerald Celente: Romney has a problem. Remember, a big part of the conservative's block is evangelical. And this is one of the reasons we said Romney was going to lose. When you look at the data when he ran the last time, evangelicals don't dig Mormons. They have an image issue. The other issue, of course, is Romney's hundred millions. People don't relate to that. Obama, as we said when we made the forecast, is going to play the born-again populist card and that's exactly what he's doing. Obama is a brilliant politician but calling someone a brilliant politician is like saying he's a skillful whore.
Daily Bell: True enough. Freedom is eroding in America. Can we expect the trend to continue or accelerate?
Gerald Celente: It is accelerating. Look at the latest information coming out about the Department of Homeland Security gearing up to control public disturbances at either the Republican or Democrat conventions and also on Election Day. Look at all the surveillance equipment that's been put in place. This is what I am saying.
He's slippery. This is a guy that passed the National Defense Authorization Act. They can arrest a guy like me for being an enemy of the state without any judge, jury or trial, without any charges. They can have the military come and take me away. Look at what they are doing. Look how they are training the military for militia duties. They repealed, with the National Defense Authorization Act, the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prevented the military from taking over the police duties.
All aboard! Next train to Auschwitz ...
Daily Bell: Are you concerned for your own well being?
Gerald Celente: Of course. And it makes me feel sad. It breaks my heart. I bought a 1750s building. Read the beginning of the last Trends Journal ... there's a story called "Haunted by Hitler," and how I came back from Germany in April, and I said to myself, how could the Germans, who were at the top of Western Civilization in the 1930s, let a two-bit freak destroy them? How could the Italians?
I mean, look at the Germans ... Wagner, Einstein, Dietrich, Lang, Beethoven, Bach ... the list goes on! How did the Italians let a little cartoon character like Mussolini destroy them? How did the Americans let Bush and Cheney destroy the nation, take them to war and put them under fear and control with Homeland Security? How could people believe in the presidential reality show again ... Romney or Obama?
Daily Bell: How could they?
Gerald Celente: It's the human spirit that allows people to do this. What is it about the human spirit that lets people give their lives up for others to run them? It goes back to the Seed Event. The SEED ... You're the seed. You better grow it.
So back to reading the latest version of Trends Journal: How can people keep letting these sociopaths and psychopaths with proven track records of failure and destruction keep leading their lives? There's a wonderful Buddhist saying: When the student is ready the teacher appears. I always make this clear: I've had great teachers and a lot of them, in a lot of different areas. One teacher who was the glue for me was John Perkins at Attackproof.com. He taught me close combat. This is the real deal. Courage is especially important now. You can't cower to power. I am not here for you to walk over me. I don't care who the person is, I will fight to the death to preserve my life. No one is going to take it away from me. If someone is going to die, it's not going to be me.
So back to the teacher. My belief is when the people are ready, the leaders will appear. These guys now couldn't lead me across the street. Stop following the Pied Piper. The only salvation for the future, as I see it, is that people have to find the greatness within them and when they have the courage, dignity, respect, passion and integrity and they don't cower to power ... only then will they follow leaders who will improve civilization and not destroy it.
Daily Bell: That's a tall order. In our last interview, you stated that women specifically were contributing to Obama's base because they instinctively liked his style and personality. Is this still so?
Gerald Celente: Oh, yeah, more so than ever! "Oh, I like Obama ... I like Obama." Go no further. Go on Google and look at Obama's interview on "The View." Watch the performance and then I will ask you this question: Could you imagine Dwight D. Eisenhower going on "The View"? Never! Never! And guess what? I wouldn't, either. I would never watch TV if I didn't have to tune in and see what's going on. I have to do this for my work.
Daily Bell: Update us some more on predictions. Any changes in business tactics or analysis?
Gerald Celente: Yes. This is the time to make sure that you are secure. Make sure that your money is where you want it and where you can get it and someone else isn't holding it for you. Be prepared for the worst. In my 32 years of forecasting trends, never have I been more troubled about what's going on in the world today and where the future is heading.
And I said this to others, talking to subscribers, and I have had premonitions before, which were borne out by events, but only once before have I ever had a premonition as powerful as this. You can go to my forecast page for the first one, but it came ten months before 9/11 when I forecasted my top trends of 2001, that Americans wouldn't be safe at home or abroad.
On December 14, 2000, USA Today used this headline when reporting on my forecasts: "2001 Will Not be Our Year, Trend Seer Says." It began with the warning, "Get ready America! If the Trendmeister's prediction is on target, 2001 will be no walk in the park." That was right before 9/11.
I feel that kind of premonition now. I feel a great unraveling. I see the very first great war of the 21st century unfolding in front of us. Riots in Spain, riots in Greece. Turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia. Riots in Bahrain and Yemen. Civil war in Syria, the Sudan, Congo and throughout Africa. Poverty is rampant and raging in South Africa. You see in China they are going back to 2009 lows. There's no salvaging the European Union; it's only going to get worse.
Daily Bell: Okay then, more recent predictions, please.
Gerald Celente: I still believe that gold prices are going to skyrocket and that digital money is not going to be worth the paper it's not printed on. I am also very fearful there is going to be an economic crash. They are going to close banks and you are not going to be able to get your money out. It's happening in Europe now. It was one of the top trends we wrote about in 2012, bank holidays. I am concerned about a collapse. I am concerned about war. I am concerned about terror, false-flag or real.
Daily Bell: Give us an update on the euro and the European Union.
Gerald Celente: There's no salvaging it. It's only around ten years old and it has all these problems. But the big news is that what they are doing is they are trying to centralize power even more by establishing a European Central Bank that subjugates all of the banks and sovereignty of all the nations that belong to the Eurozone. That's the real story. So again, the merger of state and corporate powers ... more fascism for Europe. They have had it before and you are seeing it again. Rather than Hitler and Mussolini, it's Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse. How much more proof do people need? This haunts me, that people aren't getting it.
Daily Bell: Technocracy? How is that working out in Greece and Italy?
Gerald Celente: They are bankers and it's working perfectly for the banks. They are stealing it from the people and giving it to the banks. It's perfect. It's working out just the way they want it.
Daily Bell: The "China Miracle"?
Gerald Celente: In 1996 I wrote that no matter how China develops, they have 1.2 billion people and a million problems. If Europe and America don't buy, the Chinese don't make. If they stop producing, you are going to see civil unrest in China that will make what's happening in Europe pale in comparison.
Daily Bell: What about Argentina and its oil takeover and rolling devaluation? Is that affecting all of South America?
Gerald Celente: Well, it's bigger than that. We're facing the first great World War of the 21st century. We'll end up with another Hitler, another Mussolini, another Tojo. It all comes down to greed and power; that's all it ever is. The money junkies have destroyed the world. They did it in the 1920s, and they are still in control.
Daily Bell: Go back to the LIBOR scandal. Our take was that it was a phony scandal. Can you describe it?
Gerald Celente: Oh, no, it's not phony at all; it's real. They are rigging the game. They rig the game to make their balance sheets look better; they rig the game so they can play the derivatives market. They rigged the game to cover up how big the panic of '08 was. No, to me it's a totally rigged game.
Daily Bell: Don't central banks fix the price of money every hour of every day?
Gerald Celente: Yes, but so does LIBOR and they have been doing that for 25 years. This goes very deep. It shows you control that so few have. That to me is the story.
Daily Bell: Bloomberg is starting a LIBOR in Qatar, the QIBOR. Could that have anything to do with the current scandal?
Gerald Celente: Let's look at Qatar. Who owns Al Jazeera? ... Qatar. Who is one of the prime suppliers of munitions and instigating the revolution in both Libya and Syria? ... Qatar. They're all in the "club," the whole Arab League. Qatar is very powerful for a little country ... and they own Al Jazeera. So they get to spread the propaganda and they get to arm the people to overthrow city governments.
Daily Bell: How are your finances after the MF Global debacle?
Gerald Celente: I was hurt by it. Nobody likes having their money stolen but, again, when you tie it all back together, well ... the whole thing is rigged.
Daily Bell: Thoughts on the CFTC?
Gerald Celente: What CFTC?! Who's the head of it? Gary Genzler, who worked under "John the Slime" Corzine and the Goldman Sachs gang! It's the money mafia. That's all it is.
Daily Bell: You are still buying local, being local and living locally?
Gerald Celente: All the time ... it's the only way! We have great farmers' markets here. Repatriate, repatriate ... that's my motto. Bring it back home. We have a great community here in uptown Kingston. There are a number of very successful businesses and I know the people. We are all of the mentality of wanting to see each other do great. There's not a lot of little minds here, another one of my father's sayings.
Daily Bell: How about the Internet and what we call the Internet Reformation? Is the exposure of all this corruption helping?
Gerald Celente: Yes. I mentioned my career in politics. In all my life I have never experienced an election year where so many people cared so little who was going to get elected president. And it's because it's becoming so transparent what a fraud it all is. I have to give you this quote. A reader sent it to me; it's a great one. Ready?
"If voting made any difference, they wouldn't let us do it." − Mark Twain.
When I mentioned before about America and the world not having a philosophy, look up the meaning of philosophy. It's the study of general and fundamental problems such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, value, reason, mind. If you put those words together it spells s-e-e-d. And that is what the event is about. It's about philosophy and what else is on this planet.
Daily Bell: Any final thoughts? Can you give us a few more predictions for 2012? You spoke of economic martial law last time.
Gerald Celente: Well, the economic martial law is already in place and it's going to expand around the world. I am most concerned about a major geo-political event and an economic crisis. There is no solving the European debt crisis. The only thing they can keep doing is pumping more money into it ... but the Ponzi scheme is about to end.
What other schemes-undreamt-of they will come up with next, no one knows. But we are facing a timeline analogous to the Crash of '29 and the start of World War II. The only thing that will stop a rerun is the human spirit ... but the human spirit needs a lot of work! It's going to take a lot of hard work to reverse this thing ...
Daily Bell: Thank you for speaking out. You are one of the courageous few.
Ayn Rand: Patron saint or soulless capitalist?
Commentary: History will decide between two extremes
Aug. 21, 2012
By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — “Atlas Shrugged” is Ayn Rand’s most popular work. And Paul Ryan’s favorite. In the book, the hero, a mysterious rebel leader John Galt saves America from economic collapse. But before we rise from the ashes, before the redemption, the past must be blown up.
For that, let’s turn to my favorite, “The Fountainhead,” where Rand offers a subtle hint to capitalism’s eventual self-inflicted shot-in-the-foot.
In “The Fountainhead,” Howard Roark is the ultimate individualist, an idealistic architect and archetypal free-market capitalist: Architecture was my first degree so Roark naturally became my hero. Enraged when second-rate competitors compromise the integrity of his plans for a modern building, Roark seeks revenge, takes the law into his own hands, sneaks onto the construction site in the dead of night … dynamites the building … kaboom … destroyed.
Flash forward: What a perfect metaphor for Rand’s extreme ideology now spinning out of control, turning against mainstream America. You are witnessing the drama from within, as the new Ryan Budget approaches critical mass, set to explode Adam Smith’s Great 1776 Cathedral of Capitalism, self-destructing on an overdose of high-octane ideology.
Yes, soon the commanding inner voice of Ayn Rand’s extreme capitalism that’s now imbedded deep in America’s emerging conservative conscience will, as did Roark’s building, blow up Adam Smith’s grand design, the Cathedral of Capitalism, taking down the financial markets, triggering an economic collapse bigger than 2008 and profoundly handicapping America’s political destiny as the global super-power. At least that’s the liberal narrative.
If you don’t like the system, destroy it, start a new one
Since “The Fountainhead” was published during WWII, Ayn Rand has been the energy driving the conservatives’ collective conscience. And today she has been elevated to patron saint of conservatives and free-market capitalists everywhere. Rand is inseparable from the ideology of conservative party politics, the controlling ideology in the divisive Ryan Budget.
Today’s polarized political drama has its strongest roots in Rand’s classic, “Atlas Shrugged,” where a capitalist elite engaged in a hotly contested cultural war for the soul of America, fighting society’s “moochers, looters and parasites,” any American looking for a government handout, triggering fear we’re declining into a socialist welfare state. Elsewhere Rand says:
“When I say ‘capitalism,’ I mean a pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism, with a separation of economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as a separation of state and church.” Why? Because “capitalism is the only system that can make freedom, individuality, and the pursuit of values possible in practice because capitalism demands the best of every man, his rationality, and rewards him accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, to specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him.”
Unfortunately, Rand’s neocapitalism has gone far off the course defined by Adam Smith, morphing into a tacit conspiracy binding conservative politicians with the egocentric excesses of Wall Street, Corporate CEOs and a small group of Super-Rich billionaires.
Does Ayn Rand really hate social programs, religion and altruism?
Last year, in a USA Today op-ed piece, “Ayn Rand and Jesus,” Boston University professor of religion Stephen Prothero, author of :God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World, And Why Their Differences Matter,” posed a challenge to Rand’s disciples: “Idolatry of the conservative icon should lead to some soul-searching within the GOP. After all, Christian morality has no place in an ‘Atlas Shrugged’ world.”
Prothero’s list of “Rand’s adoring acolytes” included U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Rand Paul and Ron Paul. Prothero warns that while “Ayn Rand is the GOP’s new savior, no one seems to be taking notice of just how opposed their two philosophies are.”
For Rand, the war is not between “God vs. Satan, but individualism vs. collectivism. While Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the poor,’ she sings Hosannas to the rich. The heroes of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ … are the captains of industry … The villains are the ‘looters and moochers,’ people who by hook (guilt) or by crook (government coercion) steal from the hard-won earnings of others ... the individual is her hero, and God and the dead be damned.”
Quite a challenge from a professor of religion: Prothero warns that Ayn Rand turned “traditional Christian morality” on its head. And in Rand’s upside-down world “altruism is immoral and selfishness is good. Moreover, there isn’t a problem in the world that laissez-faire capitalism can’t solve if left alone to perform its miracles.” Get it? In Rand’s world, capitalists are the new saviors and miracle workers.
But can you imagine Jesus preaching Rand’s message? No wonder Prothero says “Rand’s work reads to me like a vulgar rationalization for greed.” Worse, he’s shocked “at how few GOP thinkers seem to see how hostile her philosophy is to conservatism itself.”
Why indeed? Because there’s nothing Christian about Rand’s defense of their new soulless capitalism that’s not only lacking in traditional Christian compassion, but has become instead another form of egocentric narcissistic individualism.
How Adam Smith’s idealism turned into bipartisan narcissism
In an Utne Reader last year, Christopher Lasch discussed his groundbreaking Culture of Narcissism originally published a generation ago at the dawn of Reaganomics. Lasch warned that the economic man had “given way to the psychological man of our times — the final product of bourgeois individualism, which in its decadence has carried the logic of individualism to the extreme of a war of all against all, the pursuit of happiness to the dead end of a narcissistic preoccupation with the self,” where ultimately each person “demands immediate gratification” but “lives in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire.”
Prothero reminds us that “real conservatism is also about sacrifice.” Today, however, the patron saint of conservatives and capitalists “will brook no such sacrifice” for the common good. “Serve yourself, she tells us, and save yourself as well. There is no higher good than individual self-satisfaction.”
Get it? In Ayn Rand’s world, the individual’s self-satisfaction is always more important than what’s right for America as a whole. And yet, Prothero warns, “one of the reasons we are in our current economic quagmire is that none of our leaders is willing to ask us to sacrifice. Democrats call for more spending and more taxes; Republicans call for lower taxes and less spending, and what we get is the most fiscally ruinous half of each: lower taxes and more spending.”
Prothero’s challenge was prescient: His “aim is to force a choice. If you are going to propose a Robin Hood budget, you have to decide whether you are robbing from the poor to give to the rich, or robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Because you cannot do both.”
America is “a free country. Just don’t tell me you are both a card-carrying Objectivist and a Bible-believing Christian. Even Rand knew that just wasn’t possible.”
Rand’s legacy will be rewritten by historians long after the 2012 elections
Since history is always written by the winners, it’s too early to define Ayn Rand’s legacy. Why? No matter who wins, the upcoming elections will settle nothing, driving an even bigger wedge between the parties for at least four more years, as we continue to deny and minimize issues far more critical to America’s survival: The “big picture” issues of macro-economics, global population, energy, climate, commodities, war and feeding 10 billion people in 2050.
However, the elections will reveal some benchmarks: We know future historians will see Ayn Rand from one or the other of two extreme polarities in today’s partisan political divide: Either an enlightened patron saint of a neocapitalist ideology traceable through Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan a generation earlier, to Paul Ryan and other conservative leaders today ... or as Prothero characterizes Rand, the dark star of a new soulless capitalism that replaced both the principles of Adam Smith’s pure 1776 capitalism and the biblical teachings of Jesus.
Lasch warns that the narcissism emerging today as America’s new collective conscience
and reflected in Ayn Rand disciples is, paradoxically, also blinding today’s leaders in both parties. They cannot see the fundamental paradigm shift in America’s destiny.
Why? As Lasch puts it: “Impending disaster has become an everyday concern,” for Americans, “so commonplace and familiar that nobody any longer gives much thought to how disaster might be averted. People busy themselves instead with survival strategies, measures designed to prolong their own lives, or programs guaranteed to ensure good health and peace of mind.”
In short: Deep in America’s new conservative consciousness is a growing darkness, a haunting fear that it’s “too late” to survive in this world in decline. The message: Give up. Instead of focusing on and working together on our common destiny to survive as a world of interdependent cultures, focus instead narrowly on your own personal survival, not the whole.
And in that reality, the iron-fisted words of Ayn Rand seems far more reassuring than the 1776 wisdom of Adam Smith or the ideals of a simple carpenter two thousand years ago.
The New World Disorder
The Cold War was yesterday. Communism was in its death throes. The Soviet Empire had crumbled.
The Soviet Union was disintegrating. Francis Fukuyama was writing of “The End of History.” Savants trilled about the inevitable triumph of democratic capitalism.
Yet, in 2012, sectarianism, tribalism and nationalism are all resurgent, reshaping a world where U.S. power and influence are visibly receding.
Syria is sinking into a war of all against all that may end with a breakup of the nation along ethno-sectarian lines — Arab, Druze, Kurd, Sunni, Shia and Christian. Iraq descends along the same path.
A U.S. war with Iran could end with a Kurdish enclave in Iran’s northwest tied to Iraqi Kurdistan, Iran’s Azeri north drifting toward Azerbaijan, and a Balochi enclave in the south linked to Pakistan’s largest province, Balochistan, leaving Iran only Persia.
The Middle and Near East seem to be descending into a Muslim Thirty Years’ War of Sunni vs. Shia. Out of it may come new nations whose names and borders were not written in drawing rooms by 19th and 20th century European cartographers, but in blood.
India, too, is feeling the tremors. Ethnic violence in the Assam region has sent hundreds of thousands fleeing in panic.
In East Asia, ethnonationalism, fed by memories from the 20th century, is igniting clashes among former Cold War allies.
China’s claim to the Spratly, Paracel and other islands in the South China Sea puts Beijing in conflict with Hanoi, which welcomes U.S. warships back to Cam Ranh Bay. Were not these the same people we bombed and blasted not so long ago?
Twenty years ago, Manila ordered the U.S. Navy out of Subic Bay, which had been home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet almost since the Spanish-American war. Now Manila is inviting America back.
Why? China is claiming islets, atolls and reefs 1,000 miles from the Chinese mainland, but only 100 miles from the Philippine coast.
To annex what could be a mother lode of oil, gas and minerals in the South China Sea, China is stoking the ethnonationalism of its own people.
Yet, a fear of ethnonationalism is behind Beijing’s repression of Tibetans and Uighurs, whose regions are being inundated with Han Chinese, just as Josef Stalin flooded Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia with Russians after annexing them in 1940.
“All is race; there is no other truth,” wrote Benjamin Disraeli in his novel “Tancred.” Beijing behaves as if it believes Disraeli was right.
China now claims Japan’s Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls the Diaoyu. South Korea claims Japan’s Takeshima in the East China Sea, which Seoul calls Dokdo. Here history enters the quarrel.
In 1908, in the Root-Takahira Agreement, Theodore Roosevelt agreed to Tokyo’s annexation of Korea in return for recognition of U.S. annexation of the Philippines.
Root-Takahira is a black page in Korean history. For Japan’s occupation ran through World War II, when Korean girls were forced into prostitution as “comfort women” for Japanese troops. Tokyo and Seoul were Cold War allies, but these old wounds never healed.
The visit to Dokdo last week by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, cheered by his countrymen, represented a rejection of Japan’s claim and an assertion that the islets belong to Korea.
Russia, too, has now gotten into the islands game.
Two days after the United States dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, the day before Nagasaki, Stalin declared war and sent Russian troops to seize the Kuril islands north of Japan and expel the population. Japan still claims the four southernmost islands of the Kuril chain.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev just stoked the flames of tribalism in both nations by visiting the Kuril island that is closest to Japan.
With China, South Korea and Russia asserting claims and making intrusions on islands Japan regards as sacred territory, Tokyo is taking a new look at rebuilding her armed forces.
On Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, two cabinet ministers visited the Yasukuni Shrine to the World War II dead. A new nationalism is rising in the Land of the Rising Sun. China and Russia may be nuclear powers, but Japan could join that club swiftly should she chose to do so.
The bipolar world of the Cold War is history. The new world order, however, is not the One World dreamed of by Wilsonian idealists. It is a Balkanizing world where race, tribe, culture and creed matter most, and democracy is seen not as an end in itself but as a means to an end — the accretion of power by one’s own kind to achieve one’s own dreams.
As Abraham Lincoln said in another time, when an old world was dying and a new world was being born, “As our situation is new, let us think and act anew.”
Edited by stoneranger - 8/21/12 at 12:13pm
Bibi’s Game: Nuclear Blackmail?
By Justin Raimondo
On August 19, 2012
The Israelis are going all out to lure, threaten, and scare the US into attacking Iran: the world hasn’t seen such a frenzy of staged hysterics since my three-year-old niece threatened to hold her breath until her parents agreed to buy her all six Barbie Fashionistas. Complain,complain,complain: kvetch, kvetch, kvetch: that’s been Bibi Netanyahu’s shtick ever since this President took office. However, the hystericsreached a crescendoof unprecedented shrillness last week, a turn of events dutifullyreported in the Washington Post:
“A flurry of public statements and anonymous quotes to the Israeli news media in the past week has raised speculation that an Israeli attack could come before the U.S. presidential election in November.”
Anonymous Israeli officials snort in disgust at those “unreliable”Americans who sent them nearly $4 billion last year, make a big display of testing the country’s anti-missile defenses, and issue gas masks in preparation for the much-threatened and long awaited Israeli first strike on Iran.
The Israeli wolf is at the door, but one has to wonder what this President’s house is made of: straw, sticks, or bricks? And when the wolf comes down the chimney, will the pot be set to boiling? Not to stretch an analogy beyond the point of no return, but when it comes to Israel and its ceaseless demands, “not by the hair of my chinny chin chin”isn’tin this administration’s vocabulary.
While some officials may express such sentiments privately, in public the American response to Netanyahu’s open attempt to blackmail this White House has been complete silence. If you listen real hard, you can hear the first leaves falling on the White House lawn. Aside from boilerplate rhetoric about leaving no option off the proverbial table, and hailing the “success” of sanctions, the Americans have been unusually restrained, even given their usual reluctance to tangle with Tel Aviv.
Why is that? Yes, yes, I know, it’s all about the Vast Zionist Conspiracy That Controls the World, as some of the more misguided and simplistic critics of Israel would have it. While nothing I say or write will talk such people out of their primitive reductionism, this is not to deny the existence and power of the Israel lobby in this country. It is merely to suggest that something else is at work here, a factor unreported but previously hinted at – and that is the possibility Netanyahu is playing a game of nuclear blackmail with this administration, threatening to launch a nuclear first strike at Iran.
This possibility was prefigured, you’ll recall, in a New York Times op ed piece by Benny Morris, an Israeli historian of note, published in the summer of 2008. Morris argued that unless the Israelis or the Americans took out the Iranians’alleged nuclear weapons facilities in six to eight months,
“[T]he Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war — either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb.
“It is in the interest of neither Iran nor the United States (nor, for that matter, the rest of the world) that Iran be savaged by a nuclear strike, or that both Israel and Iran suffer such a fate. We know what would ensue: a traumatic destabilization of the Middle East with resounding political and military consequences around the globe, serious injury to the West’s oil supply and radioactive pollution of the earth’s atmosphere and water.
“But should Israel’s conventional assault fail to significantly harm or stall the Iranian program, a ratcheting up of the Iranian-Israeli conflict to a nuclear level will most likely follow.”
I said at the time I thought this would never have been published in the Times without at least the foreknowledge and encouragement of Israeli government officials, perhaps the most hawkish faction of the national security establishment. One has to wonder if Morris’s grim prophecy has come true to the extent that Bibi is now threatening to fulfill it.
It makes sense technically, because Israel’s threat to launch a solo attack is hollowotherwise. Iran’s alleged nuclear facilities are so well dispersed, and, in the case of the Fordow installation, so well fortified as to represent an insuperable challenge to Israel’s military capabilities. A first strike would simply not take them out, and the war to follow would last far longer than the merethirty-day IDF blitzkrieg imagined by some Israeli officials. Whatwould take them out, however – and possibly threaten the very existence of the Iranian regime – would be a few well-targeted nuclear bombs.
Of these, Israel has plenty: indeed, the Israeli Prime Minister reportedlyhad something to do with their original acquisition, according torecently declassified documents [.pdf] no one outside Israel is paying much attention to. What a narrative for our more melodramatic future historians and Netanyahu biographers: he blackmailed the Americans with the very weapon his young self stole out from under their averted noses.
Perhaps the Israelis will settle for something less than the head of Ahmadinejad in exchange for calling off their nuclear pit bulls – say, the release of Jonathan Pollard, a perennial favorite of right-wing Israeli politicians, and a clampdown on leaks underscoringthe threat posed by Israeli intelligence to US interests in the Middle East. But how long will these concessions satisfy them? Blackmailers are rarely satisfied with a few pay-offs. The November election may come and go, with no Israeli strike forthcoming –but always, from this point on, there will be that possibility hanging over Obama’s head, a veritable sword of Damocles hanging by a very thin string. No wonder his hair is turning white.
Given the nuclear threat emanating from Israel, one has to wonder how and why the Europeans hopped on the sanctions bandwagon with such eagerness. After all, weren’t we told the Europeans were fanatically hostile to Israel, and that this was the direct consequence of the“new anti-Semitism”? Why the big turnaround?
When contemplating nuclear war and its consequences, the first issue is physical proximity: the environmental consequences of a nuclear conflict for Europe are bound to be significant. If indeed Bibi is engaging in nuclear blackmail, then it’s easy to see the Europeans going along with the tightest sanctions – and even preemptive war –in the interests of avoiding a greater evil.
This is to say nothing of the consequences for Israel should such a horrific scenario occur, upon which the whole world would sit in harsh judgment — not least of all, the judgment of history. Then again, the Israelis may not care so much about that.
In making an argument in favor of nuking Iran, Prof. Morris echoed a claim often made by Israeli government officials and their amen corner in the US: that the Iranian regime is not rational in the Western sense, and its leaders are not rational actors. According to this tired talking point, it’s all about Shi’ite theology, which supposedly means Iran’s leaders are eager to embrace martyrdom as their highest religious duty. Once they gain access to nuclear weapons, Tehran’s mullahs will not be deterred by the prospect of retaliation: since their religious duty is the destruction of Israel, they will not hesitate to launch a nuclear attack.
Without going into too much detail over the shoddiness of this threadbare argument, I’d like to suggest that one could, at this point, justifiably question the rationality of the current Israeli leadership. They seem determined to plunge the region into a conflagration that is likely to drag in much of the rest of the world.
In characterizing the Iranians as irrational actors, Israel’s propagandists are engaging in a classic case of projection. Blinded by a religious fundamentalism that envisions a Greater Israel as the fulfillment of Divine Will, the radicals who have taken over the Israeli government pose much more of a direct threat than their Muslim equivalents –because, after all, the Israelis are actually in possession of a great many nukes, as many as 500.
If we take Israeli rhetoric at face value, then the possibility of an Israeli nuclear strike is more than mere speculation. The Israeli position is clear: Iran even having the means to assemble a nuclear weapon without actually doing so represents an “existentialthreat” to the Jewish state. If they must choose between enduring another holocaust or inflicting one — what course will Netanyahu take?
If my guess is correct, then he has already made his choice – and the next move is up to the Obama administration.
PC Kills American troops: More than 100 unarmed already murdered by Muslim 'friends'
By Arnold Ahlert
Aug. 22, 2012
As I said in a previous column, one could be forgiven for believing that political correctness is only one step removed from insanity. Unfortunately, as the latest report from Afghanistan reveals, it can also be deadly.
Last week, in a move the Obama administration would undoubtedly like their useful idiot buddies in the media to ignore as much as possible, a long-standing order was reversed: U.S. troops are now required to carry loaded weapons at all times while on base.
In other words, prior to this new directive, troops were required to remove the magazines from their weapons while quartered at bases with Afghans they were training to become policemen and soldiers. Policemen and soldiers who will allegedly pick up the slack and defend their country after U.S. forces withdraw in 2014--as they are currently scheduled to do.
Why the change? Apparently it took more than 100 deaths for a military brass neck-deep in the PC swamp to figure out that the presence of armed Afghan trainees in the presence of unarmed American trainers gave our so-called "trusted Afghan partners" a decided tactical advantage. One they deployed with Islamist gusto on several occasions. In 2012 alone, 32 attacks resulting in 40 deaths have occurred--topping the 21 attacks that took place last year.
That means the 21 attacks a year ago was apparently deemed insufficient to abandon this particular plank of our so-called counter-insurgency strategy, more familiarly known as the attempt to "win the hearts and minds" of the Afghan people. "If the people are against us, we cannot be successful. If the people view us as occupiers and the enemy, we can't be successful and our casualties will go up dramatically," Gen. Stanley McChrystal told CBS's "60 Minutes" back in 2009.
That would be the same Gen. McChrystal fired by Obama in 2010 for insubordination. McChrystal was replaced by Gen. David Petraeus, who came in and ordered all NATO troops under his command to pursue the enemy relentlessly--even as he stressed the need to "reduce civilian casualties to an absolute minimum." Petraeus further contended that the alliance "cannot kill or capture our way to victory."
Dying at the hands of so-called allies isn't likely to do the trick either, General.
Yet up until last week, U.S. commanders insisted that what are referred to as green-on-blue attacks were nothing more than "isolated" events. This gave them enough cover to continue allowing our troops to be gunned down by members of Afghan military units located right alongside our soldiers on coalition bases.
Yet it gets even worse. Since the Pentagon is drawing down another 30,000 troops this summer, many of the soldiers remaining behind will go from fighting to training and advising their Afghan "friends." Friends who, unbelievable as it sounds, will also be tasked with the fox-guarding-the-henhouse opportunity of providing security at coalition bases, so president Obama can further reduce the size of America's military presence in the nation.
Apparently it hasn't occurred to the perpetrators of this nonsense that such an arrangement makes our troops even more vulnerable to insider attacks.
To paraphrase from my previous column, on the subject of political correctness, let me tell you what the war in Afghanistan isn't about. In short, it isn't about letting the American men and women we put in harm's way achieve the only thing that makes risking one's life worthwhile: victory. Victory so decisive and so thorough that not only is the enemy's capacity to wage war destroyed, but their will to go on is also broken. Victory so unambiguous that the bad actors all over the planet will think twice about engaging the most lethal fighting force ever devised.
Now let me tell what this war is about. It's about pretending we're going to bring Jeffersonian democracy to a bunch of Third World hillbillies who make the Beverley Hillbillies look like Rhodes scholars by comparison. It's about handing the Taliban a due date for their reemergence in 2014, all the talk about "events on the ground" notwithstanding. And up until last week, it was all about making American sons and daughters sitting ducks in one of the most contemptible capitulations to the PC mindset ever devised.
In a better world, every hack lawyer in the Defense Department, along with the military and civilian officials responsible for formulating this strategy would be handed a helmet, a backpack, and a gun, whereupon they would be sent to the front lines and forced to implement their handiwork firsthand. Let them work alongside their Afghan "partners" and set about "winning hearts and minds"--under the same unarmed conditions to which they were more than willing to subject our troops.
Those who believe in politically correct warfare deserve nothing less.
The Stock Market Is An "Attractive Nuisance" And Should Be Closed
by Charles Hugh Smith
The Stock Market Is An "Attractive Nuisance" And Should Be Closed
The dark pool of parasitic scum known as the stock market is an "attractive nuisance" that should be shut down.
In tort law, an attractive nuisance is any potentially hazardous object or condition that is likely to attract the naive and unwary, i.e. children.
A classic example is an abandoned swimming pool half-filled with fetid water.
Since many stock market investors are demonstrably naive about the risks and unwary of the dangers posed by the stock market (the proof of this is that they remain invested in the market), it is but a slight extrapolation of the attractive nuisance doctrine to declare the stock market is clearly an "attractive nuisance" and should be closed immediately.
Is this really a legal stretch? Consider the conditions that characterize an attractive nuisance. I have edited these to pertain to the stock market and investors:
1. The market is one in which the Powers That Be (the exchanges, the Central State, the central bank, et al., the effective "owners" of the stock market) know or have reason to know that brainwashed or ill-informed investors are likely to risk their money in.
2. The market is one of which the Powers That Be know or have reason to know (and fully realize or should realize) will involve an unreasonable risk of financial loss or ruin to such investors.
3. The investors, because of their consumption of officially sanctioned propaganda and misrepresentation of market risk and return, do not discover or realize the risk involved in placing money in the stock market.
4. The utility to the Powers That Be of maintaining the condition and the burden of eliminating the danger are slight compared to the risk borne by investors.
5. The Powers That Be fail to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the risk or otherwise protect the investors from potentially catastrophic financial loss.
Can any reasonable person deny that the rigged, manipulated U.S. stock market is nothing but a predatory skimming operation that is increasingly at risk of systemic failure? If you have any doubts about the true nature of the American stock market, please read the new book Dark Pools: High-Speed Traders, A.I. Bandits, and the Threat to the Global Financial System (print edition) (Kindle edition) by financial reporter Scott Patterson.
Today's stock market has as much in common with the market of the 1960s as a horse-drawn carriage has with a Formula 1 race car. Most of the trading on the market is done by computers that hold shares for perhaps 11 seconds before skimming a slice from investors who lack the high-speed data flows from the exchanges, warp-speed processing power and sophisticated algorithms.
Another huge chunk of market-moving activity is officially sanctioned manipulation by the Federal Reserve (the privately owned central bank of the U.S.) and Central State agents: the "fat finger" leaps at day's end, the "stick saves" whenever gravity threatens to topple the corrupted market, and all the other interventions that are obvious to every active trader.
In effect, the stock market has become an officially sanctioned bucket shop where "ownership" of shares has been rendered meaningless. The market exists for two reasons: 1) to skim low-risk profits from naive/brainwashed investors and 2) as a propaganda front that can be lofted ever higher by authorities for the purposes of managing perceptions, i.e. the market is higher, so the economy is doing great, never mind what your own eyes and experience are telling you.
The stock market is demonstrably an "attractive nuisance" and should be closed immediately. It should never be reopened unless these conditions can be met: 1) All shares must be owned for at least four hours 2) All trading must be executed by humans on a transparent exchange where all trading activity (and open orders) is visible to all participants 3) Intervention in the market by the Federal Reserve or any Central State agency or agents is against the law.
If you insist on putting money at risk in the stock market, be aware that you are playing a rigged roulette wheel and thus you are a mark. You might win, or the entire game might collapse in a rotten heap of lies and corruption. Just remember that the market is ruled by parasites who need to keep their hosts (investors) alive so they can continue to feed off them (i.e. biotrophic parasites).
If the hosts all leave the market, the parasites will have only themselves to feed on, and they will quickly expire.
An interesting article on Fracking
What Was Behind Mysterious Collapse of the Mayan Empire?
The city states of the ancient Mayan empire flourished in southern Mexico and northern Central America for about six centuries. Then, around A.D. 900 Mayan civilization disintegrated.
Two new studies examine the reasons for the collapse of the Mayan culture, finding the Mayans themselves contributed to the downfall of the empire.
Scientists have found that drought played a key role, but the Mayans appear to have exacerbated the problem by cutting down the jungle canopy to make way for cities and crops, according to researchers who used climate-model simulations to see how much deforestation aggravated the drought.
"We're not saying deforestation explains the entire drought, but it does explain a substantial portion of the overall drying that is thought to have occurred," said the study's lead author Benjamin Cook, a climate modeler at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in a statement. [Dry and Dying: Images of Drought]
Using climate-model simulations, he and his colleagues examined how much the switch from forest to crops, such as corn, would alter climate. Their results, detailed online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggested that when deforestation was at its maximum, it could account for up to 60 percent of the drying. (The switch from trees to corn reduces the amount of water transferred from the soil to the atmosphere, which reduces rainfall.)
Other recent research takes a more holistic view.
"The ninth-century collapse and abandonment of the Central Maya Lowlands in the Yucatán peninsular region were the result of complex human–environment interactions," writes this team in a study published Monday (Aug 20) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The team, led by B.L. Turner, a social scientist at Arizona State University, concurs that by clearing the forest, the Mayans may have aggravated a natural drought, which spiked about the time the empire came to an end and population declined dramatically.
But this is just one contributing factor to their demise, Turner and colleagues write, pointing out that the reconfiguration of the landscape may also have led to soil degradation. Other archaeological evidence points to a landscape under stress, for instance, the wood of the sapodilla tree, favored as construction beams, was no longer used at the Tikal and Calakmul sites beginning in A.D. 741. Larger mammals, such as white-tailed deer, appear to have declined at the end of empire.
Social and economic dynamics also contributed. Trade routes shifted from land transit across the Yucatán Peninsula to sea-born ships. This change may have weakened the city states, which were contending with environmental changes. Faced with mounting challenges, the ruling elites, a very small portion of the population, were no longer capable of delivering what was expected of them, and conflict increased.
"The old political and economic structure dominated by semidivine rulers decayed," the team writes. "Peasants, artisan – craftsmen, and others apparently abandoned their homes and cities to find better economic opportunities elsewhere in the Maya area."
Here was some great investment advice...
"I would invest in Facebook, I don't care what the opening price is"
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak as part of Facebook pre-IPO hype which should become case study blueprint material for aspiring Wall St. propagandists. So sure Steve, and the rest of us would eat, drink and party like drunken sailors were we worth a couple billion.
"Investors looking to short Facebook stock are getting in front of a freight train"
Needham and Co. senior analyst Laura Martin Wed May 23. 2012 with FB trading around $31-32/share. I didn't even mention the $40 target she had on the stock. Thank heavens they didn't let a junior shill, excuse me, I meant analyst near the stock.
Fed Easing Is a 'Done Deal': Bill Gross
The Federal Reserve will definitely move to ease monetary policy further, Bill Gross, Pimco's co-founder, told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Thursday.
"What the Fed (explain this) minutes told us is additional easing (explain this) might be warranted 'fairly soon' unless the incoming data pointed to a sustainable strengthening of the economy," Gross said. Gross said the "sustainable strengthening" language is important. "I think we need to see months of 3 percent or better gross domestic product growth before the Fed backs off that particular provision," he added.
When the Fed does move, Gross is expecting "a relative open-ended program in terms of size, in terms of time and in terms of what the asset classes is they buy." He added, that being open-ended will give the Fed the flexibility to modify their posture "even in the face of a strengthening economy." (Read More: More Easing Not Needed If Growth Holds Up: Fed's Bullard.)
Gross did note the potential negative consequences of additional easing, however. "We've lowered interest rates to ... zero ... and they're beginning to affect margins for financial institutions as well as pension accounts."
The effectiveness in terms of QE going forward is less becoming less effective than what we've seen with the first two rounds of quantitative easing, Gross added.
If the Fed does embark on another round of quantitative easing, Gross said you want to "buy what the Fed is going to buy and buy what the Fed is going to affect."
He said Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities and mortgages are the beneficiaries of these policies.
Posted: 23 Aug 2012 10:40 AM PDT
by Mike Shedlock
Interest Rates vs. National Debt
- How long can the trend last?
- How low will the rate go?
I do not know the answers to those questions, nor does anyone else. However, a rise in interest rates would cause a shocking increase in interest on the national debt.
Interest on National Debt at Current Rate vs. Historical Average
Should interest rates rise to the long-term average, interest on the national debt would more than double from the 2011 figure of $454 billion dollars.
Here is a chart from the National Debt Clock site.
The site notes "Maturity of U.S. debt ranges from less than a year to over 20 years, with the average maturity about 3 years. More than half of the debt, however, is short term, maturing in less than a year."
That is an interesting assertion short-term debt is at .09%, 10-year notes yield 1.67%, and the 30-year bond yields a mere 2.79%.
However, interest is on outstanding securities. A bond with a 6% yield maintains that yield until maturity. The average yield in Wallace's charts paid comes from Treasury Direct.
Currency Crisis Coming
If you get the idea a crisis of some sort is coming, fueled by out-of-control deficit spending as well as the Fed's ridiculous "Operation Twist Policy", then you get the right idea.
The Fed ought to be selling long-term bonds at these rates, locking in financing at attractive rates, not buying those bonds hoping to drive yields still lower.
Of course, that latter statement assumes there should be a Fed or deficit spending in the first place, neither of which I believe.
Odds of Global Recession Are 100%: Marc Faber
“Europe is already in recession,” he said. “Germany is still growing very, very slightly, but is likely to go into recession soon.”
Growth in the U.S. is also falling off. “The U.S. economy has decelerated and I don’t see much growth in the next six to 12 months,” Faber said.
There’s also little the Federal Reserve and other policy makers can do to turn the U.S. economy around. “I think that if you look at the injection of liquidity and the intervention by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury with fiscal measures, it has already impoverished the U.S. economy,” he said.
It would take “massive easing, a huge balance sheet expansion,” to boost economic activity in the U.S., according to Faber.
Faber also doesn’t expect much change in the U.S.’s finances regardless of who wins the election in November. “The deficit is $1.3 trillion and, in my view, will go up,” he cautioned.
Even corporate profits, the lone bright spot, look to be at risk. “The corporate sector has recovered remarkably since the trough in earnings in 2009 and we are at record high earnings,” Faber said, but added, “Corporate profits will disappoint over the next 12 to 18 months.”
Fri Aug 24, 2012 08:56
Tensions are rising again in Southeast Asia as competing claims over the resource rich South China Sea push closer to boiling point.
In the latest series of provocations, China launched "combat-ready" patrols, offered disputed ocean blocs for sale and set up a garrison and new administration on Sansha. Vietnam countered with continued military overflights of the contested Spratly Islands despite warnings from Chinese officials.
With Philippine President Aquino announcing a $1.8 billion upgrade in defense forces the inevitable regional arms build-up has begun.
One would hope that countries in the region would take concerted action. That hope would be misplaced.
While the region shudders at the thought of open conflict affecting a major artery of Asian trade, no collective action has been able to resolve the situation. ASEAN couldn’t even reach agreement on a routine joint public statement at the end of their annual gathering this year. Not that another non-binding piece of paper would have had any real influence. A 2002 Code of Conduct signed by ASEAN members and China to resolve the disputes peacefully continues to be ignored as countries vie for potentially lucrative natural resources.
An increasingly militarized land and sea grab continues despite calls for peaceful resolution. With the U.S. in full Asian tilt, the South China Sea dispute is shaping up to be the first major test of its Pacific re-engagement. What the U.S. Can or should do remains woefully undefined.
There is no longer any question that as the power vacuum expands, force, not the power of the pen defines boundaries. Beijing increasingly asserts its claims within a map of its own making while a troubling and influential undercurrent gathers momentum.
China now claims the entire South China Sea, brushing the shores of its neighbors and flying in the face of international norms. Call it the conventional "first-strike" option supported by influential Chinese think tanks and the popular state-controlled press—quick and decisive military engagement to convince Vietnam and the Philippines to back down. It worked in China’s favor during a 1974 stand-off over the Paracel Islands.
Enter the U.S., seen by many as a natural hedge against excessive Chinese influence. The State Department issued a lukewarm statement on the South China Sea urging all parties to find a peaceful solution to the impasse. Senator McCain called China's moves "provocative.”
Beyond routine drills and port calls with the Philippines, Vietnam and India the U.S. has taken a decidedly cautious approach. Peaceful resolution of territorial claims and a unified Southeast Asian response, not a military confrontation with China, remains a core U.S. foreign policy objective. That may be increasingly difficult to achieve as China presses its claims, recently “escorting” an Indian naval flotilla from its port call with Vietnam and hailing it with “welcome to Chinese waters.”
In June Philippine President Aquino sought reassurance that U.S. defense obligations would kick-in should they be attacked. The U.S. refused to take sides in the territorial dispute, a long standing policy, but reaffirmed its commitment to the bilateral Mutual Defense Treaty. At a minimum this entails immediate consultations should hostilities break out. It does not, however mean automatic military action.
Even interest from the rest of Southeast Asia for greater U.S. engagement remains tentative. Vietnam continues joint exercises with China, keen to maintain balance with its main trading partner to the north. Non-claimant states including Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos have shown no interest in “taking sides”, though U.S. engagement is certainly welcome. For its part China has been quick to use trade retaliation including a sudden technical hold on Philippine fruit imports.
If history is any guide the unintended consequences of even a limited military skirmish may prove hard to control. The situation remains even more volatile with a leadership transition underway in Beijing as nationalistic and even jingoistic tendencies rise throughout the country. Appeasement also has its discontents. This is the fine line the U.S. must tread.
There are no signs that the cycle of provocation and push-back will end any time soon. It should be no surprise if boat ramming incidents between fishing vessels and cutters eventually turn more confrontational. Perhaps the greatest U.S. influence will be containing any escalation by its presence alone, helping to thwart the notion that China can launch a limited attack on its neighbors without consequences.
Despite China’s preference the U.S. can and will remain a Pacific power, guarantor of the common interest, strengthening cooperation among parties, and routinely testing free access to international waters.
Southeast Asia should not overestimate this involvement and under-prepare itself thinking that their fishing fleets or contested boundaries will fall under U.S. protection. All countries in the region need to develop their own capabilities while engaging in greater regional military cooperation. The U.S. should be seen as the military of last resort, not first. At the same time China should not underestimate U.S. resolve to maintain the peace.
by Raul Ilgari Meijer
All this is accompanied by a rising Euro, and that little detail is far more puzzling than is generally acknowledged. Because there is only one reason for the ECB, with perhaps Angela Merkel and the Bundesbank chiming in, to even consider such measures as more - PIIGS - bond buying, that are tremendously unpopular among a broad swath of Europeans. That reason is that the PIIGS countries, and Greece, Spain and Italy in particular, are doing much worse than anyone wishes to admit in public.
Thus, we have a substantial part of the Eurozone sinking deeper fast than anyone will tell you, while at the same time the currency they use is rising. A rise based on expectations of other Eurozone nations, notably Germany, basically putting up the health of their own economies as collateral to inspire confidence in ECB sovereign bond purchases. Now, you can play this game for a while, no reason to doubt that. But I would personally think we've finished playing out that particular "while" a long time ago and running. Whatever remains now is but a wager. As in: the entire Eurozone has turned into a casino.
If we, and they, the ECB, Germany, Holland, Finland on the one hand, and Monti, Rajoy and Samaras on the other, want to play these moves AND have a shred of credibility left once they're done (and I know what you're saying: will they ever be done?), we and they will need in the end to be able to answer this one simple question. Which they will never ask, we will have to do that for them. That question is: Where's The Debt? Or maybe more accurately: What Happened To The Debt?.
If a party, be they an individual, a company or a sovereign nation, carries so much debt that it is vulnerable to attacks by the likes of bond markets (or bailiffs in the case of individuals), a handout or bailout will never suffice to abolish the threat for very long, unless it is provided on the condition that the debt that led to the threat in the first place is restructured. That is to say, creditors take a haircut on what is owed to them.
Handing over money to these creditors without that haircut doesn't even begin to solve the issue. It just - hopefully - keeps them quiet for a little while, but then they'll be back, because they're still owed money. Yeah, think Tony Soprano.
In the case of Europe, the EU's national governments, Germany's first of all, refuse to tackle the debt issue, when it comes to Italy and Spain, because it would threaten their own respective banks. And probably their pension funds too. The highly needed haircuts that would come with the highly needed debt restructuring, would threaten to expose the very real very dire situation that these banks are in. And that in turn would risk setting off a domino avalanche that would risk bringing down international - including American - banks as well.
And so the one question that makes any true sense to ask, is never asked.
In the case of Spain, it has become abundantly clear lately that there is no clear distinction to be made between bank debt and sovereign debt. Hence, an ECB bond buying program would be beneficial to Spanish banks too. If only because they own so much of the stuff, something they were coaxed into doing by the ECB schemes that allowed, nay pressed, them to borrow on the cheap to buy their own sovereign debt. Rajoy even suggested using the remainder of the €100 billion bank bailout for sovereign debt. Which is quite plainly illegal, but who's counting?
If you would add Spanish sovereign debt to Spanish bank debt, you would come up with a number that nobody in the whole wide world wishes to address (and so they don't).
Which is why we see Mario Draghi et al "invent" clever schemes to buy Spanish bonds even though that's not the ECB's mandate at all.
The latest line is that they do it to "stabilize the currency". Which is fine in itself, or so I guess, only we would like to know how long they would plan to stabilize it for (two weeks doesn't seem to cut it). And that issue is not addressed. Ever.
Hence, we are left to conclude that there is no effort to deal with the debt, there's not even an attempt to do it. Mario Draghi is merely trying to lift a corner of the magic flying finance carpet, so Spain can be allowed to sweep its true debt burden under it, out of our sight.
And a carpet can hide quite a bit of dead dust for quite some time, as you know if you've ever tried the approach. The thing about debt, though, is that it's not dead dust.
Debt lives. It's alive. It's almost organic. Debt festers and ferments under that carpet, it requires interest and principal payments, and it grows if these payments are not made.
Well, if you look at the real numbers, Spain can't even meet the interest payments anymore. And whether that's 6% or 7%+ is immaterial really. That's why it's in such a mess that Draghi feels he needs to come up with these rule and law bending and stretching schemes to begin with. If Spain had any chance at all of getting out from under its debt load on its own anytime soon, we wouldn't be talking about these ECB measures today at all.
But we are talking about them. And they lift financial markets. And as the Eurozone deteriorates, the euro - ironically - goes up.
Why? ¿Por qué? Because the markets think Germany et al will agree to join Mario Draghi's mind games and pay up to lower Spain's debt. As simple as that.
But Draghi has no solution for the Spanish debt, be it sovereign or bank debt. He just has that carpet to sweep the debt under.
Well, he perhaps has other options, like debt restructurings, defaults etc., but he's not addressing those. Mario is a servant of the banking industry. Just like any other central banker and government official in the western world.
There's no-one in sight who tries to balance the reality of the sovereign and financial sector debt with the ability of the people, the taxpayers, to pay for it. Which is why the Euro can be a hot item even as the countries that presently use it as their currency go down in flames. And their people go down with it.
Yes, there's money to be made in the markets. That's obvious when you look the numbers. But what would have to be at least as obvious is that none of it is based on anything fundamental.
This rally will implode upon itself.
Some of the big boys will have left in time, and made a killing. From the point of view of the people on the ground and in the street, however, it's not going to look all that great. They're mere pawns in a game that seeks to maximize profits off their backs.
And that will continue whatever Mario Draghi or Angela Merkel present in the way of grand plans. They may all look great, and the markets may react with yet another high of one kind or the other, but down the line there's still that one and only question that needs to be answered:
What Happened To The Debt?
Any plan that doesn't address that question directly is worth less than the digital paper it's written on. Any such plan won't solve a thing.
And that magic carpet that the likes of Mario Draghi are trying to sweep reality under? You know what? It's gruesomely expensive, but that's not all, the cost is not even the most important part. Here's what is: that carpet was bought on credit. And the collateral for that credit is the future of Europe's younger, even its unborn, generations. That's right, the generations that presently face 50% or so unemployment numbers.
Enjoy your rally. But do realize that you're trying to outsmart reality. It's hiding under a carpet, but it's no less real.