Archive for the Money Watch Category

FEELING THE PULL?

Posted in Money Watch on April 4, 2009 by willthomasonline

Hold on! The suction from this fiscal Black Hole is becoming implacable as we’re yanked toward its terminal Event Horizon…

In the dimly remembered historical mists of last year, the global size of the expanding derivatives bubble was calculated at $190,000 per POP (Person-On-Planet). Now going supernova, this expanding cloud of hot currency gases has – oops! – jumped to $206,000 per POP.

This is because all those pesky derivatives settlements are still coming due like a clockwork nightmare of compounding debt – along with no-one-knows how many “off-balance-sheet” banking swindles that are fast outpacing taxpayer ransoms, nose-diving tax revenues, and a striking lack of interest by foreign investors in buying more U.S. and British debt at zero rates of return.

(The Fed hopes you can come up with that 206 grand right away. Please put your next contribution in the bankers’ collection basket as it comes around again.)

Meanwhile, the next three generations of U.S. taxpayers (many as yet unborn) are being extorted to continue bailing out failed corporate states like All In Greed (AIG). So far, hostage salary slaves have forked over $150 billion to cover AIG management’s Credit Default Swaps and other claims on that rotting corpse’s derivative “exposure” currently being demanded by the largest and equally desperate Banks-On-Planet (BOP).

And that’s just one. Attempting to bail out all rapidly submerging BOPs is like bailing the Titanic with a kiddy beach bucket. Can’t be done. Will never be done. Why? Because, captain, the HOLE IS TOO DAMN BIG!

How big?

Latest damage reports indicate we are heavily listing from so-far-admitted Credit Derivatives still to come due at $542,000,000,000 ($542 trillion). This is more cash than is available in the entire known galaxy, at least as far out as Sigma Centuri. Nor are there enough trees left on this clear-cut planet to print that much cash.

Add to this gargantuan gambling debt another $863,000,000,000 ($863 trillion) for Over-The-Counter derivatives, which must also be paid to all the computers programmed with this Byzantine Ponzi scheme, and “who” are now firmly in control of our governments, banks and collective destiny.

By the way, the longer you, your spouse and infant daughter delay in paying the $618,000 you owe on this digital debt, the faster the remaining derivatives are compounding. Since you last blinked, they’re UP 44% to more than ONE QUADRILLION DOLLARS. The water’s rising fast!

These largish openings in our financial hull include:

1. Interest Rate Derivatives around $458+ trillion (UP 16%)
2. Credit Default Swaps around $57+ trillion (DOWN 1%)
3. Foreign Exchange Derivatives around $62+ trillion (UP 10%)
4. Commodity Derivatives around $13+ trillion (UP 44%)
5. Equity Linked Derivatives around $10+ trillion (UP 17%)
6. Unallocated Derivatives around $81+ trillion (UP 4%).

The subprime mortgage default freak-out garnering so much media obsession is a measly $1.5 trillion shortfall within a $5 trillion mortgage-assets pile-up. Which in turn is just uno small component of an “overwhelming” global crisis coming on “with unprecedented scale, speed, severity” and self-reinforcing synchronicity.

So observes Nathan Martin from his economic edge blogspot. Since last year, Martin mentions, the banking elite’s perfidy “has wiped a staggering $50 trillion” off the value of currency, equity and bond markets worldwide.”

That’s a lot.

(And we haven’t even mentioned the fast-intersecting vectors of crop-killing Climate Shift and Peak Oil.)

So far, no arrests of the crooks responsible have been made. Instead, they’ve been awarded with multi-million dollar bonuses! (Of course, if you’re going hungry and steal a third pizza in LA, you face doing serious hard time as indentured prison labor making blue jeans to compete with the Chinese – whose billion plus pissed off boomers are Out Of Work, Out Of Water and Out Of Luck.)

Bloomberg and Martin report that Washington has so far “spent, lent or committed” $13 trillion to dealing with the collateral damage from this busted Quadrillion Dollar Play. Ongoing commitments to endless wars, trade deficits, bailouts and other corporate welfare subsidies make the resulting U.S. vigorish nonsensical. Forget ailing Asia, bankrupt Britain and eviscerated Eastern Europe. There’s just not enough juice left in the system to avoid a Quite Big Shakeout. (Can you say, “One World Currency”?)

In other words, we are so broke.

Meanwhile, U.S. judges are throwing out foreclosures sought by lenders who no longer hold “illegally securitized loans.” Angry, savvy homeowners are also using predatory lending statutes to defend themselves against foreclosure, or apply for redress if they’ve already lost their homes.

“Substantial damages can be won if the homeowner can prove that the loan was made purely for the lender’s sole benefit,” Bloomberg advises. [bloomberg.com Mar 31/09]

So look for class actions charging fraudulent misrepresentation and predatory practices in neighborhoods near you. Even borrowing off-planet and converting Reguluian rubles into greenbacks, there is not enough cash in 10 solar systems to save lenders from millions of homeowners suing en masse to regain the titles to their homes.

Those “lenders” of course, are… the banks.

CABLES CUT DELIBERATELY – WRONG MESSAGE SENT

Posted in Middle East Watch, Money Watch with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2008 by willthomasonline

Guess what?

The long awaited, much delayed Iran Oil Bourse has once again failed to open by its latest deadline after four vital undersea fiber optic cables linking much of the Middle East to Gulf states and the rest of the world were recently severed in five places.

The unprecedented Internet outages came just as Iran announced the discovery of a major gas field with “huge reserves” estimated at 11 trillion cubic feet off its Gulf coast. Already possessing the world’s second-largest proven gas reserves after Russia, the announcement seemed certain to kick-start the Iran’s petroleum trading exchange, announced by Teheran to open by February 10, 2008. [english.aljazeera.net Feb 02/08]

It didn’t happen.

According to a trusted, long-time source with contacts throughout the Middle East, the U.S. defense establishment and the Vatican, and with whom I have broken major stories over the past 16 years – my earlier posts speculating on deliberate U.S. sabotage to prevent the Iran Oil Bourse from opening were, as the say in the oil biz, “spot on.”

“I can confirm that the cables were cut,” Hank said. “The cables were cut to send a message: ‘Don’t do the bourse.’”

Just one week after George Bush’s quixotic Persian Gulf mission to somehow rally Arab nations around U.S. and Israeli plans of “confronting Iran’s nuclear program before it is too late,” Russia’s military chief of staff General Yuri Baluyevsky promised “to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia and its allies.”

The general then clarified, “Military forces will be used, including, preventively, the use of nuclear weapons.”

So much for the “maniac running around threatening everyone with a razor,” as Putin recently publicly described Bush.

Bush and Cheney’s plans to carpet bomb Iran were put on indefinite hold after General Baluyevsky added that although Russians have no plans of attacking anyone, they nevertheless “consider it necessary for everyone around the world community to clearly understand that” nuclear weapons will be used if the U.S. attacks Iran – where Russian oil and nuclear power investments were recently ante-upped with the first major delivery of Russian nuclear fuel to the Bushehr reactor. [liveleak.com; gather.com;americanfreepress.com]

Or maybe not.

ATTRACTING THE ENERGY THEY PUT OUT
Press TV, Iran is reporting: “Israel calls for shelter rooms to be set up in a bid to prepare the public for yet another war, this time, one of raining missiles.” This after retired general Udi Shani assured the nation, “The next war will see a massive use of ballistic weapons against the whole of Israeli territory.” [Global Research]

A pugnacious Putin has already dispatched a naval task force into the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic. According to the Canadian analysis org, Global Research, “The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, joined up with Russian naval warships in the Mediterranean on January 18 to participate in the current maneuvers… The current operation is the first large-scale Russian Navy exercise in the Atlantic in 15 years. All combat ships and aircraft involved carry full combat ammunition loads. [Global Research]

France is also gearing up for major military maneuvers in the Straits of Hormuz, through which most of the world’s oil passes. Scheduled to take place from February 23 to March 5, 2008, Operation “Gulf Shield 01” will involve more than 5,300 French, Emirate and Qatari personnel operating a half-dozen warships, 40 aircraft, and dozens of armored vehicles in war games targeting oil platforms off the coast of Iran. [DefenseNews.com]

In yet another Alpha male “threat display” aimed at giving pause to any country aggrieved by attacks on its soil, the Aegis cruiser USS San Jacinto is now in Haifa, Israel showcasing its advanced ability to defend against counter-attacking Iranian aircraft, submarines – or missiles. According to Whitney, writing in Online Journal, “Bush is convinced that if he doesn’t confront Iran, then no one will. He also believes that if he doesn’t militarily defend the dollar, then America’s days as ‘the world’s only superpower’ will soon be over. [Online Journal Feb 6/08]

BUSTING THE BOURSE
If it had opened on schedule, the Iran Oil Bourse could have pushed GW Bush over the edge of the Armageddon abyss. Modeled after the French stock exchange in Paris – the Federation Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs – in June 2004 Iran’s Bourse Council was given the mullah’s go ahead to establishment of the first-ever oil, gas and petrochemical stock market in the Islamic Republic.

On July 11, 2005 the Bourse Council issued legal permits for the establishment of Oil Bourse and instructed the fractious Ministry of Petroleum to stop fighting internally for political position and make it happen.

The new euro-dominated bourse was to go head to head with London’s International Petroleum Exchange and the New York Mercantile Exchange. Both are owned by U.S. corporations and both oil exchanges trade in depreciating dollars. Since the European Union imports more oil from OPEC producers than does the USA, importing more than 45% of its oil from Middle East, trading for that increasingly valuable commodity in dollars makes sense. [strategytalk.org;muckraker.com]

But not for the United States, where a sudden seismic shift away from dollar-dominated foreign oil would force a massive overnight “restructuring” of that severely bankrupt economy.

The U.S. attack on Iraq months after its president shifted that country’s oil trade from dollars to euros is a lesson not lost on Teheran, which has repeatedly “postponed” opening of its own euro oil bourse in the face of Washington’s threats.

In March 2006, instead of commencing trading as previously announced a spokesman for the Iranian Oil Ministry raised eyebrows when he told the Russian press, “We have no information on opening an oil exchange in the free economic zone on Kish Island.” [RIA Novosti ; en.rian.ru Mar 20/06]

Soon after the surprise non-announcement, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting carried Iranian oil minister’s latest update. Iran, Vaziri Hamaneh re-affirmed, was ready to launch its oil bourse one week after the unexplained delay. Denying that he had previously stated that the Iran Oil Bourse will bring down the US economy, Hamaneh told reporters, “I don’t know who has speculated that. I’ve not talked about U.S. economy.” [raisethehammer.org]

It didn’t happen.

In October 2006, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad underlined the necessity to set up the Oil Bourse, regretting the delay. Most transactions were to be carried out through the Internet using a nexus of undersea fiber-optic cables [iranian.ws]

SILENCE IN THE WHIRLWIND
In February 2008 vital Internet cables were sabotaged to underline points made less than two weeks previously by GW Bush, who had called on Middle East nations to continue linking their oil to the dollar, or they were going to “sleep with the fishes,” as Middle East analyst Mike Whitney put it.

“For the last two months, a number of sheiks and finance ministers have been publicly groaning about the falling dollar – threatening to break from the so-called “dollar-peg” and covert to a basket of currencies. Bush’s trip appears to have rekindled the spirit of brotherly cooperation. The grumbling has stopped and everyone is back ‘onboard,’” Whitney observed.

Amazingly – with a panicked U.S. Federal Reserve slashing interest rates 125 basis points on $1 trillion in capital invested by the sheiks in US Treasuries and securities…

… with Reuters reporting inflation spiraling out of control in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates

… forcing governments there to intervene “directly in loans, property and commodity markets to offset rate cut” and “provide food subsidies for their people”… as well as massive wage increases for “some Emeriti federal government employees”

… as commercial property values double in the UAE since last year –

… as migrant workers riot in Dubai over price hikes

… and the Saudi riyal rockets to a 21-year peak, with another 8% rise in the dirham and riyal expected by April

Oh hum.

Or as Whitney remarks, after Bush’s series of one-on-ones, “regional leaders now seem less bothered by the fact that inflation is trashing their economies and driving food, labor, energy and housing through the roof.” [Online Journal Feb 6/08]

SOMETHING DIFFERENT THIS WAY COMES
With their inimitable inability to plan for contingencies coupled to an uncanny knack of turning opportunities for dialogue into deepening disasters, the fundamentalists in the Washington have once again “misunderestimated” an ancient, highly disciplined and desert-savvy culture. The business, government, medical and academic people I came to know as a reporter in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait operate a sophisticated tribal network and trading milieu so far beyond their ken, the White House might as well be dealing with severe time and comprehension delays while sending increasingly irrelevant directives from an oxygen-starved location somewhere on Mars.

In yet another marathon 10 hour interview , Hank updated our “Loose Nukes,” “Poppers” and “U.S. Drops Atomic Bombs On Iraq and Afghanistan,” and “Fatal Flaw” stories posted on willthomasonline.net.
As for cutting those cables and sending their usual insulting message to the noncompliant originators of trade, law and Western Civilization, the Bushwhackers “were looking at a financial change,” Hank explained. “They weren’t looking at the other end of things. They weren’t thinking of the other events as they unfolded. The message got across but not quite in the way they were hoping.”

Iran’s oil bourse, he explained, is “just one piece of a much bigger puzzle.”

Forget about it, he advised.

“They don’t do the bourse. It’s going to be something different.”

How different?

Quoting his Vatican source, Hank replied, “They are going to start a new bank.”

BREAKING THE BANK
“Remember the old Bank of England?” my informant urged. “Think Catholic, Bank of England – Pope.”

Consider how the Bank of England was able to consolidate its present grip on the world’s financial network through the ability of its “parent” – the Bank of Rome – to control money, resources and travel throughout the Olde World through the powerfully superstitious expedient of making all believers beholden to them for eventual passage into paradise. After baptizing them through its priestly agents, Rome can still excommunicate reluctant players and condemn them to hell, Hank pointed out. Turning to what could become a resurgent Middle East, he added, “Same thing with these guys.”

Except they have 2,000 years of technological advancement to install their own overland fiber-optic communications made from the finest signal-conducting sand on the planet. Also enough oil and incoming solar energy to power their economies, sophisticated management, their own Internet – and more than one billion highly spiritually-disciplined members who have not forgotten the scientific and academic achievements of Islam’s once-great civilization.

Or its Western betrayals.

“The oil bourse is a chip on the table in a big pile of chips,” Hank told me last night.

“Are we talking a single currency for the Gulf region?” I wanted to know.

“An Islamic currency,” Hank clarified. “They’re talking about making a hemisphere. This really is the New World.”

Though Washington’s sabotage of their undersea comm cables has confirmed the correctness of the sheiks’ vision, Hank said their ambitious plans – which include a massive ship canal now secretly under construction to bypass the Strait of Hormuz – will not be fast-tracked. Look for the financial world, as the West has come to dominate it, to turn upside down “in about a year.”

And don’t ask, What next?

THE THREE THOUSAND PERCENT FACTOR

Posted in Money Watch on February 4, 2008 by willthomasonline

From the man who has wrecked every enterprise he’s ever been handed comes the latest, perhaps irrecoverable blow. I refer, of course, to Dubya’s ruinous financial “stimulus” package, which amounts to the biggest credit binge in the history of the known universe.

Every credit card holder knows that even if the interest rates that pushed you into insolvency are momentarily eased, you can never clear your debt by borrowing more money.

But what that dumb shmuck in the White House does not realize is that whatever the recipients of his $300 and $1,200 handouts do with the dough, this latest $150 billion fire-extinguisher will shortly hit a raging financial conflagration like a bucket of raw gasoline.

Why?

Because, as Paul Grignon, creator of the must see animation “Money Is Debt” points out, “The banking system creates new credit based on existing credit.” So when the gummint issues a check, “depending on the type of account it is deposited in, the bank can then create a new loan for up to 100% of it.”

But it doesn’t stop there.

“Actual reserve ratios vary from 10:1 to no reserve at all, but 33:1 is common – meaning that if $1,000 is deposited at 33:1, $970 of new bank credit can be created. If that $970 is then deposited again, $940 new bank credit can be created…” on and on in a pyramid of ever-thinner air.

Noting that “cash does not necessarily enter the picture at any point,” Grignon goes on to explain that the government will initially borrow its “stimulus” money as “a Federal Reserve bank credit distributed as checks (promises to pay) that are then deposited (loaned) to a commercial bank, which can then use the government’s promise to pay as backing for a new loan. The end result, if each new ‘loan’ were deposited in a bank, would be a total of about $30,000 of new bank credit that can be created from that initial deposit of a $1,000 government check.”

That’s right, Fed fans. “The banking system, through the creation of new so-called ‘loans’, each based on a deposit that was itself just created as a so-called loan, will, if borrowers can be found “ – multiply Bush’s $150 billion handout up to 3,000 percent! And that resulting high-octane “liquidity” could ignite an unquenchable firestorm.

Why?

Because when money’s tight, sellers must slash their prices to woo buyers. But when the Fed releases a glut of money chasing the same goods and services – prices go up. Another term for this is Big Time Inflation. This means that everything that has been costing more recently because of rising oil prices and consumer and government debt – is about to cost even more.

But the Federal Reserve (which is neither “federal” nor a “reserve” but a privately-held group of extortionists who mint money into the debt that holds all Americans hostage) is now frantically slashing interest rates to take the pressure off mortgage and credit-card holders crushed under the avalanche of interest rates the Fed had just finished raising to cool off all that borrowing…

Now the fickle fed is once again easing credit, making it easier to borrow for folks who already cannot make their payments.

If an airline flew its jets like these yo-yo’s, you’d never get on their planes. But now that the wings are coming off, China and our dear friends in the Persian Gulf have been forced to buy the whole damn fleet!

It seems that the Bush Gang, who should never have been entrusted with a nickel to go buy licorice, is currently borrowing more than $2 billion a day just to keep the country afloat long enough to squeak past the next presidential selection with their heads still attached to their bodies. The biggest lender is China, which doesn’t have much choice considering how many greenbacks are already stuffed in its bulging godowns. They’re followed by Japan and Europe, who are similarly constrained from simply dumping their dollars. And of course OPEC nations are essentially making loans to the USA every day by selling their valuable oil for depreciating dollars instead of the more stable, upward-trending euro.

This is changing, though.

Meanwhile, back inside a superpower imploding as fast as its former nemesis (and for many of the same reasons that brought down the former Soviet Union), the Independent reports that two of “Wall Street’s biggest banks are preparing to write off tens of billions of dollars of investments in the US mortgage market, and to replace the capital with an $18 billion cash infusion from emerging market investors.”

You guessed it. “The biggest single new investor is likely to be the Chinese government, which has used the financial crisis to snap up large chunks of the US finance industry. Most recently it paid $5 billion for a stake in Morgan Stanley, and is also putting US$1billion into Bear Stearns. [Independent Jan 15/08]

When China owns your banks, China owns your country. But don’t get mad. Without Beijing’s loans and outright purchases of just about everything on the planet that’s not nailed down, you would be eating mud cookies alongside starving Haitians – another country savagely screwed by American intervention.

Now other nations are piling on, too, desperate to divest their dollars in the only place on the planet where greenbacks still have value – the US of A.

FIRE SALE
Here’s what else Bush forgot to tell you on his way to Armageddon:

In 1998, crude oil cost about $11 a barrel and the U.S. paid about $45 billion that year for its imported oil. “Over the past decade,” explains Michael T. Klare, author of Resource Wars, Blood and Oil and the soon-to-be-released Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, “this country has squandered approximately one and a half trillion dollars on imported oil, much of which has been poured down the tanks of grotesquely fuel-inefficient vehicles that were conveying drivers on ever lengthening commutes from the exurbs to employment in center cities.”

By 2007, the annual bill for the planet’s most profligate petroleum users exceeded $400 billion. This oil, of course, was immediately turned into burnt carbon and lofted into already feverish skies.

“As the oil import bill kept rising, the value of the dollar kept falling, and inflationary pressures kept building,” continues Klare, who is a professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College. “Of course, the country’s central bankers responded in classic fashion by raising interest rates. This naturally resulted in substantially higher monthly payments for homeowners with variable-rate mortgages” who were forced into default on their mortgages.

But whether it’s gas in the tank (or Abrams tanks), home heating fuel, or just about anything you buy off a shelf – everyone still has to make the nut to buy oil for their personal use, or its downstream derivatives.

Which was why the second day of 2008 turned out to be a harbinger of all-caps DOOM, when imported oil hit $100 a barrel.

The borrowed fortunes (and futures) Americans must now spend on go-juice are now being deposited abroad in Sovereign Wealth Funds controlled by government agencies like the Kuwait Investment Authority and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Don’t go to sleep. There will definitely be a quiz, because as Klare continues, “These SWFs now control approximately $3 trillion in assets, and, with more petrodollars pouring into the petro-states every day, they are projected to hit the $12 trillion mark by 2015.”

And what are these Sovereign Wealth Funds doing with all their fast-depreciating trillions?

Move over, China.

“For one thing, buying up choice U.S. assets at bargain-basement prices,” Klare replies. “In the past few months, Persian Gulf SWFs have acquired a significant stake in a number of prominent American firms, giving them a potential say in the future management of these companies.”

Kuwait has taken a $12 billion stake in Citigroup and a $6.5 billion share in Merrill Lynch. Abu Dhabi also owns a $7.5 billion stake in Citigroup. Even the private Carlyle Group bank has had to sell a $1.5 billion share of its war-profiteering stake to Mubadala Development, also run by the government of Abu Dhabi.”

Oh oh.

“These acquisitions are just a small indication of a massive, irreversible shift in wealth and power from the United States to the petro-states of the Middle East and energy-rich Russia,” Klare confirms. “What this means is not just the continuing enfeeblement of the American economy, but an accompanying decline in global political leverage.” [TomDispatch.com Jan 31/08]

YOUR CARD HAS BEEN DECLINED
Back on Main Street, USA the squeeze is on. Remember, 70% of the U.S. economy depends on shoppers shopping – mostly on credit. And Americans now hold almost 700 million credit cards sagging with $915 billion in consumer debt. The average borrower is trying to make next month’s compounding interest payments on more than $9,000.

“The perception… is that credit cards are used for frivolous spending, that it’s just easy money for people to use to buy their nice sneakers,” says José Garcia, a senior researcher at the think tank Demos and author of a new study called “Borrowing to Make Ends Meet”. In fact, they are “a way that people have been dealing with economic shock.” [inthesetimes.com]

Some 77 million Americans are already having difficulty paying medical bills. The average cost of college tuition increased 165% between 1970 and 2005, and went up another 6% last year alone. Meanwhile, 35 million Americans are going hungry every year – including 13 million children. And the cost of most grocery staples is rising fast. [Reuters Nov 14/07]

With credit card holders defaulting, and American homeowners set to lose as much as $8 trillion in equity, big banks are running out of financial maneuvering room, worries Robert Manning, author of Credit Card Nation and professor of finance at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “Which means they are going to have to squeeze their credit card divisions for even more cash flow to help underwrite the loss of mortgage fees and underwriting fees.” [truthout Dec 10/07; inthesetimes.com]

This is already “affecting people across the board,” Garcia picks up. “As people feel the subprime crisis, credit card companies are putting additional strain [by raising their] credit card interest rates, which also will increase the amount of economic instability in households.”

In November 2007, credit card debt in the United States surged over 11%.

But get this: “Like mortgages, credit card debt is often carved up and sold on global debt markets as securities,” Adam Doster reveals. “Credit card debt is unsecured, meaning no portion of defaults can be salvaged. If those bundled securities of debt decline in value, as mortgage-backed securities did last summer, banks and institutional investors (pensions, mutual funds, hedge funds) could all take a major hit, which could cause comparable damage to the broader economy.” [inthesetimes.com]

RUNNING ON EMPTY
Doug Casey is the author of Crisis Investing, which spent 26 weeks atop the New York Times Best-Seller list. He also publishes the highly respected International Speculator. “I remain of the opinion that we’re headed into the biggest economic smashup in history,’ Casey predicts. “That’s an outrageous statement, “ he quickly adds.

But there it is.

Casey throws a rope over quicksand, saying the one thing that can help lever an economy out of a recession “is a large pool of savings” that can be invested in new production and purchases. But then he jerks it back by mentioning that personal savings in the U.S. are nearly nonexistent. And sinking fast.

“That’s why it’s the height of idiocy for pundits to talk about how patriotic it is to go out and shop. It can only deplete the capital that will be needed in the future, and deepen the bottom with more bankruptcies, stealing consumption from the future. That’s why the Fed’s lowering interest rates on the federal funds rate… is such a bad idea: It encourages people to save less and borrow more… guaranteeing yet a bigger bust.” [worldnetdaily.com Jan 17/02]

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?
As everyone knows, perception drives the markets. And when public perceptions catch up with reality – or vice versa – almost everyone follows the same maxim:

“When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”

Chris Skrebowski, editor of the leading oil industry trade journal Petroleum Review spent nearly a decade arguing against Peak Oil pundit Colin Campbell. “I tried hard to prove him wrong. I have failed for nine years. I am now with him. In fact, I think he’s a bit of an optimist,” Skrebowski says today.

“The perception of looming decline may be worse than the decline itself,” Campbell himself worries. “The market overreacts to even small imbalances… There will be panic.”

The threat is real. Today, more than 60 out of the 65 countries possessing oil have passed the peak of their discoveries; 49 of them have passed their production peaks,” reports the Independent’s Jeremy Leggett. “Supply will get very tight from 2008 or 2009,” Skrebowski foresees. Fuel prices “will soar. There is very little time and lots of heads are in the sand.”

2008!?!?!!

Roger Booth spent his professional life at Shell. He now believes that with Peak Oil already occurring in 2004, “A crash of 1929 proportions is not improbable.”

Campbell goes further, declaring that costs of goods and services dependent on oil to grow, manufacture, transport and acquire them – which is just about everything – “are set to soar in the absence of spare capacity until demand is cut by recessions. We will enter a volatile epoch of price shocks and recessions in increasingly vicious circles. A stock-market crash is inevitable.” [Independent Jan 20/06]

We’re almost already there, states the Bank for International Settlements’ annual report. The conditions which led up to the Not-So-Great Depression of the 1930s, and the Asian crises in the 1990s “are reflected in the current environment,” declares the central bankers’ bank. [Telegraph June 26/07]

IT’S THE WARS, STUPID
It’s not just the end of cheap oil and the greed driving both ends of fraudulent loan scams that dragged us all into this fustercluck. Casey comes to bat observing that rising GDP “doesn’t necessarily mean increased prosperity. What if the government embarked on a massive pyramid building program, an archetypical example of public works? GDP might rise, but it would add absolutely nothing to the well being of individuals.”

What if successive empire American builders spent nearly 70 years building a weapons pyramid, with those at the top taking most of the profits, and the people crushed under its country-broad base getting hosed?

Not collecting taxes from the rich, and failing to invest in the country’s physical and social infrastructure “while spending insane amounts of money on ‘defense’ projects” that profit a few government-linked corporations but “bear no relationship to the national security of the United States,” Chalmers Johnson points out – is a recipe for fiscal as well as karmic disaster.

In his book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, Johnson discusses “military Keynesianism”. By this he means “the mistaken belief that public policies focused on frequent wars, huge expenditures on weapons and munitions, and large standing armies can indefinitely sustain a wealthy capitalist economy. The opposite is actually true.”

What Johnson terms, “our devotion to militarism” – despite being broke and having to sell our children and all the furniture to overseas landlords – has long since cost us our manufacturing competitiveness by diverting more borrowed money to non-productive weaponry and perpetually damaging wars than all other nations’ military budgets combined.

Now add the current occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan – which are not part of the officially disingenuous defense budget and exceed the combined military budgets of Russia and China – to the $23 billion spent every year by the Orwellian “Department of Energy” to develop, build and maintain nuclear bombs…

Plus another hidden billion dollars for recruitment and reenlistment incentives to entice reluctant RPG-fodder for lifetime service in combat, $25 billion for foreign military assistance (primarily for Israel)…

Plus $76 billion for Veterans Affairs – half of which goes for woefully inadequate long-term care of some 31,000 soldiers grievously injured, so far, in Iraq and Afghanistan (where the locals resent being invaded and occupied)…

Plus another $46 billion to turn the former home of the free into a police state under an Hitlerian Department of Homeland Security…

Plus $39 billion for the Military Retirement Fund…

Plus an extra $2 billion for the FBI’s “paramilitary activities”… (!)

Plus another $8 billion for NASA’s “military-related activities”… (!)

Not to mention “well over $200 billion in interest for past debt-financed defense outlays”

– and you can see where all the money’s going. In 2008 alone, total spending for the U.S. military establishment that is currently bringing not freedom but FUBAR to the planet, while sucking America’s commercial lifeblood like a vampire – is “conservatively calculated” at $1.1 trillion.

And you’re saying that your school district, bridge and road repair crews, local foodbanks and shelters, green energy initiatives, dike builders, fire department, recycling depot, electric vehicle initiative, elder housing and local organic growers need some money?

What’s wrong with your priorities?

Don’t you know that terrorists have already taken over the White House?

WHEN UP IS DOWN AND DOWN IS OUT
Sorry. My Justice gene must be out of whack.

Don’t worry, be happy. Even if we can’t all buy ranches like Bush’s retreat in Paraguay, members of Congress – “who profit enormously from defense jobs and pork-barrel projects in their districts,” Johnson reminds us – have passed the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act requiring all federal agencies “to hire outside auditors to review their books and release the results to the public.”

Only one problem: “Neither the Department of Defense, nor the Department of Homeland Security has ever complied.”

No wonder that by 1990, the value of the weapons, equipment, and factories devoted to the U.S. Military Inc. had reached a staggering 83% of the value of all American manufacturing plants and equipment!

But this was hardly good news for workers. At least, not for those in the United States. “It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy. In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment,” concluded the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. in May 2007.

Their new study showed that 66 years of diverting money away from civilian manufacturing to feed an out of control arms industry cost 4,640,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, Johnson point outs, the weaponeers Ike warned us about squandered $8 trillion in capital resources from 1947 to 1987 – including spending more than $6 trillion on the development, testing, and construction of species-threatening nuclear bombs that can never be used.

“The fact that we did not modernize or replace our capital assets is one of the main reasons why, by the turn of the twenty-first century, our manufacturing base had all but evaporated,” Johnson jeremiads. The age of this industrial equipment (drills, lathes, etc.) marks the United States’ machine tool stock as the oldest among all major industrial nations. Nothing has been done in the period since 1968 to reverse these trends and it shows today in our massive imports of equipment – from medical machines… to cars and trucks… Today we are no longer the world’s leading lending country. In fact we are now the world’s biggest debtor country, and we are continuing to wield influence on the basis of military prowess alone.”

Not for long, Bubba. Still, White House fundamentalists lifting their threats and slogans directly from their al-Qaeda counterparts (whom they formerly financed) – and entranced American television viewers who still believe the virtual reality assembled for them daily by news “managers” – figure they can afford the crippling expenses, if not the spiritual consequences, of waging permanent warfare against just about everyone on the planet – and the planet, besides. Because, as they put it, “We are the richest country on Earth.”

ARE YOU COMING TO OUR TEA PARTY?
Don’t believe it. These are the people whose representatives still try to sabotage every international attempt to stave off our space colony’s looming collapse, while insisting that global warming is “a hoax”. And who fervidly believe their God is coming any minute to “save” the mass-murderers who despoiled His creation.

In fact, both God and Gaia are fed up. Have you noticed the weather lately? And according to the CIA’s World Factbook, the world’s richest political place is… the European Union. As nerve.com points out, “The U.S. Economy is so deep in the crapper,” even supermodel Gisele “refuses to be paid in American greenbacks, opting in recent contracts for Euros instead.”

Smart girl. On November 7, 2007, the U.S. Treasury announced that the national debt had topped $9 trillion. It’s all covered, of course, by foreign loans that must be repaid with interest, and the purchases of U.S. businesses, banks and real estate by foreign buyers who, when a thoroughly trashed U.S. military finally runs out of equipment and recruits, will be in an unassailable position to dictate terms.

Wake up, fellow and female Americans! Unless we do something now to reverse direction, the “hidden costs” of higher oil prices, care for wounded soldiers and interest on money borrowed to brutally bomb and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq could cost us $3.5 trillion through 2017. [Reuters Nov 13/07]

Just as Climate Shift, the End of Cheap Oil, severe water shortages, topsoil loss, depleted uranium contamination and the Karma Collection Agency catastrophically converge.

This is why Bush’s stimulus package is a problem-worsening distraction and a sick joke.

What we really need is another people’s revolution.

Not next year.

Right now.

MONEY FOR NOTHING

Posted in Bush Watch, Money Watch, Rants & Whispers on January 26, 2008 by willthomasonline

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said. Watching network news, my other California correspondent filled me in on a story I’d read earlier in the day – and dismissed as yet another freakish hallucination inflicted by seven straight years of escalating insanity from a hijacked White House that civic-minded Canadians ought to torch again. Soon.

“No,” she said. “It’s true. They’ve just announced that they’re giving us a check for $1,200 to go out and consume. They’ve got to do something to keep the economy afloat.”

“Each?” I asked. “You mean Ted Turner and billionaires like him are going to get another twelve-hundred bucks – for nothing?”

“That’s a good question,” Karen said.

We both started laughing. There seemed no other appropriate response. But we found little humor in watching our country burn down.

“We used to joke about this,” I finally resumed. “We used to ask, when are they going to figure out that if they bankrupt the economy and put everyone out of work, no one will be able to buy their stuff.”

We used to chuckle over an absurd inevitability that would see the oligarchy sending checks to people so they could keep spending.

And now they were actually doing it!

“Jesus,” I finally managed. It was not a curse, but a prayer for divine intervention. “Seventy-percent of the U.S. economy is based on people consuming at Wal-Mart and the malls,” I told Karen. Not making stuff. Buying other people’s stuff. “And now that Americans can no longer borrow against their homes, they are about four weeks from maxing all their credit cards. And then everything stops.”

Unless Boy George keeps cutting bogus checks, one of the few tasks in which he excels.

I had another thought. “What’s twelve-hundred dollars times 350 million people?” I asked this talented artist.

Of course, no baby who survives the highest infant mortality rate in the modern world is going to get a check from Uncle Sugar. The payments are to be scaled so that the most needy – non-white people who are unemployed at three-times white jobless rates, the three-million Americans sleeping on sidewalks (one-quarter of them veterans of the wars that cause this fiscal fallout) – will receive handouts in triple digits:

Zip Zero Zilch.

If you’re making 75 grand a year, or if you and your spouse are pulling in up to $150,000, you’ll each get an extra $1,200 to stick in the bank or go spend at a tropical resort – further strangling the stratosphere on the way, and not contributing much of an economic stimulus on the home front, either way. [New York Times Jan 24/08]

But if, like a huge and growing number of menially-manacled ‘mericans, you happen to be someone making not even enough in part-time paychecks to pay taxes, you will receive – wait for it! – a whopping three-hundred bucks.

“They’re saying, don’t wait. Go out and consume right now!” Karen relayed.

“And wreck the planet quicker,” I commented. “The whole thing is insane.”

MONEY FOR NOTHING, BUT NOT FOR FREE
Like a junkie searching desperately for a fix, the elephants and asses putting this package together are talking about a $150 billion “stimulus” for mall-mesmerized Americans to rush out and buy more stuff. But wait. More than 20% of all “goods” (and “bads”) sold in the United States are actually made overseas. So you can see where this is going. Even if the neocons who proved so prescient in Iraq, Louisiana and elsewhere, cannot.

Let’s let Alan Tonelson at the United States Business and Industry Council state the obvious: “A great deal of any stimulus is going to be sent overseas.”

Mostly to a denuded, faraway land choking on the 2.5 billion tons of sulfurous, carbon-packed coal smog wafted into our space colony’s wheezing atmosphere every year in order to produce most of the our steel, cement, metals, buttons, neckties and toys. Not to mention, Beijing-bashers, half the world’s cameras, nearly one-third of our TVs, and soon (by 2015) the most cars. [Mother Jones Dec 10/07]

The “free money” Bush and his Democratic accomplices are going to be handing out is not really for free, I told Karen. “It’s not even there. The country is completely bankrupt. Which means those checks will really be coming from China and Japan.“ And whoever else is crazy or frightened enough to keep ponying up $2 billion in White House loans every day to keep the roulette wheel of consumption spinning to its planet-wrecking conclusion.

“Unfortunately, the plan… looks like a lemon,” writes Paul Krugman at the New York Times.

Unhappily, those dastardly Democrats have caved once again in the face of the folks who are exporting American jobs, monkey-wrenching the economy, transferring the U.S. Treasury to their pals, and otherwise stealing the country blind.

Handing everyone making less than $75 G’s a paltry $300, and the wealthiest elite a sweet $1,200 kiss on both cheeks (and I use that word ambiguously) – “ensures that the bulk of the money would go to people who are doing O.K. financially – which misses the whole point,” Krugman correctly complains. “Money delivered to people who aren’t in good financial shape – who are short on cash and living check to check – does double duty: It alleviates hardship and also pumps up consumer spending.”

Make that “triple duty” considering what consumer spending – including the new hard drive I just ordered (on credit) to keep this website going – is doing to our spaceship.

But at least sending some trucks piled with crates of cash – a la Bremmer in Baghdad – to state and local governments, instead of Bush backers, would help avert further hardship in cities and states already devastated by federal cutbacks for endless weapons and homeland surveillance. Not to mention tickets to the “End of Oil – The Prequel”, and plummeting jobs and incomes. Such timely investment could also “head off more spending cuts,” Krugman says. Like California’s recent 10% write-down on all state funding that many economists fear could flip the feared “R” word into the doom-laded “D” word. [New York Times Jan 25/08]

Can you say 1929?

LET ME STIMULATE YOU
Krugman makes a final point: “If the money the government lays out just gets added to people’s bank accounts or used to pay off debts – the plan will have failed.” [New York Times Jan 25/08]

Guess what? This may be news to Dick and George, but the last big tax handout to the rich mostly padded their bank balances. And many more people are already behind on their mortgage and credit card payments. And fading fast. Because the gas pumps that once promised the freedom of mobility – and a means to get to work – are starting to grow fangs.

“Given that a lot of Americans are so deeply in debt,” suggest rocket scientists at the New York Times, “many may use the money to pay off bills rather than to buy new goods and services.”

From China?

A better way to “stimulate” a Zombie Economy that has been dead for some time but only just now beginning to realize it, is “for the government to spend more money on urgently needed domestic projects, like rebuilding bridges,” The Progressive’s Matthew Rothschild remarks. “Which should be an easy sell…”

The New York Times editorial elite concur. “The best way to ensure that dollars do not leak abroad would be to spend them on state-financed public works projects employing large numbers of people – repairing levees and dams, fixing bridges or building schools. The money could also be directed to states that face shrinking tax revenues as the economy contracts. An infusion of federal money would allow them to sustain construction programs and social services for the poor,” they write.

Drawing heavily on his opinion pipe, economist Dean Baker exhales a fantasy that the government that blocked Bali, ripped up the Kyoto accords, reduced vehicle fuel economy standards, ignored Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and invaded two countries to grab their oil rigs and pipelines… “could focus on environmentally sane options.”

“We can have generous tax credits for people to install more insulation in their homes, solar panels or other improvements that will reduce energy use. This would be an effective way to reemploy many of the construction workers who are losing their jobs,” Baker believes. “We can also give people money and a powerful incentive to use mass transit by giving transit agencies money to reduce fares. If we gave public transit agencies enough money to reduce transit fares by $1 a trip, over the course of a year this would provide the same stimulus as giving a $500 tax rebate to every user of public transit.”

Why didn’t the Dems demand this? Because their corporate donors would have disowned them.

The Bushites not only favor perpetually profitable wars for the banks and weapons makers that back them. They are also big on perpetual tax cuts for big businesses. The spin is that throwing money at already profitable companies will cause them to expand and hire more workers.

They are. But most often in countries other than the US of A.

The ‘Times also learned: “If consumers lack money to spend, then businesses will stand pat or even cut back and fire people.” [New York Times Jan 25/08]

They must have been tapping my call to Karen.

HOW’S YOUR MANDARIN?
Last time I looked in December 2007, the U.S. national debt was expanding like a red-shifting galaxy stolen by Klingons – by about $1.4 billion a day.

That’s nearly $1 million a minute.

And that’s before Bush’s latest emergency bail-out, which like his dad’s in the Pacific war, is going to leave everyone else in the burning plane.

According to the Associated Press, the “mind-numbing” $9.13 trillion national debt “will top $10 trillion” around the time the tireless architect of so much calamity retires to his ranch. Not the one in Crawford. I’m referring to the big spread protected by U.S. troops he’s just acquired in Paraguay. Does Señior Arbusto know something he isn’t telling the rest of us?

It must be Y2K for real. Because, as AP points out, that $10,000,000,000,000 shackle around the ankle of every American is one digit more than the odometer-style “National Debt Clock” near Times Square can handle.

And more than we can handle, too.

“We pay in interest four-times more than we spend on education, and four-times what it will cost to cover 10 million children with health insurance for five years,” harangues House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – while voting more borrowed billions for yet more wars, weapons and deaths that undermine the morality and monetary policies of her own country.

Foreign governments and investors now hold some $2.2 trillion – or about 44% – of U.S. debt. (Japan is first, with 586 billion depreciating dollars. China is close behind with a reported $400 billion in greenback monopoly money. (Some economists put Beijing’s dollar “exposure” closer to a trillion.) Britain holds $244 billion in bad paper. And Saudi Arabia and other oil-exporting countries are in for another $123 billion. And wondering aloud why they aren’t demanding euros to supply the biggest addiction on Earth.

If foreigners keep floating us loans, by 2050 U.S. indebtedness will hit 350% of the GDP. Everyone knows it will never be paid back . And everyone in the United States will be permanently enslaved, not just by gun-toting Blackwater thugs branching out from Baghdad and New Orleans, but by their creditors. And wouldn’t ya know it? Darn near every building, business, bank and other financial institution in the United States of America will be owned by Beijing. [AP Dec 3/07]

Will throwing another inflation-fueling 150 bil at the hemorrhaging U.S. economy keep it on life-support long enough for Republicans to escape the worst electoral drubbing in the history of the known universe, next year?

Kevin Hall isn’t taking bets on it. As this economic expert explains, “The economic growth package being prepared by President Bush and Congress may help ease the sting of an economic downturn or soften the blow of a recession, but it won’t fix the deeper structural problems that are menacing the economy.”

Buried as deeply the bombs that pulled down the WTC, these structural vulnerabilities are highlighted in the “mammoth investment banks Citigroup and Merrill Lynch,” which have just announced combined fourth-quarter losses of $20 billion – on top of combined write-downs totaling another $30 billion “for bad bets made on mortgage-related bonds.”

That’s a lot. And the cash required to plug those Titanic-size holes is needed right now.

There are more icebergs ahead, Hall warns. “Fears are mounting that insurance companies, which issued policies to protect Wall Street firms from losses on those mortgage bonds, don’t have enough money to pay up.” [McClatchy Newspapers Jan 18/08]

And here’s the kicker:

“The biggest single new investor is likely to be the Chinese government, which has used the financial crisis to snap up large chunks of the US finance industry,” Hall heralds. “Most recently it paid $5 billion for a stake in Morgan Stanley, and is also putting $1 billion into Bear Stearns. [Independent Jan 15/08]

Countries that control our debt control our future, worries Republican budget hawk, Senator George Voinovich. [AP Dec 3/ 07]

He’s right.

WRECKER’S BALL
Meanwhile, back in the Reality that stubbornly resists conforming to the White House version…

“The nation’s physical foundations seem to be crumbling beneath us,” say the editors of the New York Times. “Last week, a 40-year-old interstate highway bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, plunging rush-hour traffic into the Mississippi River 60 feet below. Two weeks earlier, an 83-year-old steam pipe under the streets of Manhattan exploded in a volcano-like blast, showering asbestos-laden debris… The deterioration undermines our quality of life and retards economic growth. Traffic jams waste gasoline, pollute the air and exhaust drivers’ patience. Disabled trains and subways strand commuters. Gridlocked airports disrupt travel plans. And power failures plunge millions into darkness.”

Just wait. Already two years outdated, the American Society of Civil Engineers latest report assigned “near-failing grades of D-to drinking water, sewage treatment and navigable waterways,” tisks the Times. I’ve done the research. Drinking water from any tap in any city in the United States can kill you quite dead. [New York Times Aug 5/07]

Did the FOX in this henhouse forget to mention that some 35 million Americans went hungry in 2006? That’s 13 million malnourished American children at risk from having their physical and mental development permanently stunted – nearly the same number as their hungry, traumatized counterparts in Iraq. [Reuters Nov 14/07]

Could there possibly be a connection?

IT’S THE WARS FOR DUMMIES, STUPID
The lavish government spending Bush prefers is not to help people other than his sponsors. But to hurt them. War and weapons top his list of subsidies. Could this have anything to do with his childhood need to blow up frogs with firecrackers? Or maybe the still-standing record he set as transplanted Texas governor for the number of death row prisoners – including the certified mentally retarded and others of questionable guilt – who received this smirking Caligula’s thumbs down. With more than one million innocent people dead in Afghanistan and Iraq – and both countries in radioactive ruins from the wholesale use of weapons tipped with America’s nuclear waste – why is it taboo to talk about this? Hasn’t anybody else noticed that Dubya is a sociopath?

And why aren’t deadweight network “anchors” commenting on something else that’s obvious? Indulge in wasteful wars like Vietnam, and “Big R” Recession is always the result. Why should an even costlier quagmire in a just-as stubbornly resistant Iraq be any different?

Oh right. I forgot. They were going to pay for it.

MAKING CHOICES
“We cannot afford this war,” says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. No kidding. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the ongoing bloodshed and destruction in “Afghanaraq” will cost Americans $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years. [AP Dec 3/ 07]

That’s a lot of neglected American children, waterways, roads, schools, smokestacks, powerlines and bridges.

Factor in the “hidden costs” of these ongoing wartime disasters – higher oil prices, care for maimed, brain-damaged and traumatized soldiers, plus interest on all that borrowed money – and a recent Joint Economic Committee report says we’re looking at a $3.5 trillion price tag by 2017. That is serious sticker shock. Just as Climate Shift and the Extremely Expensive Oil kick in. [Reuters Nov 13/07]

What about the families who actually live in the places we’re bombing, as rapidly escalating urban air strikes replace boots on the ground? According to hospital records and door-to-door medical surveys published in the prestigious Lancet, more than one-million Iraqi people have died since the illegal U.S. invasion. Most of them children. Counting higher-paid mercenaries, more than 5,000 U.S. troops have been killed and more than 40,000 physically wounded. So far. You can easily triple this wounded count by including lifetime debilitation from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Actually, Harry, we cannot afford any more wars.

“The $500 billion that Bush has squandered in Iraq could have paid for 4 million new housing units, or hired 8 million new teachers. And the $2 trillion we may end up spending on this war could pay for universal health care for 12 years,” points out Anita Dances of the National Priorities Project.

Domestic spending like this – and economic incentives to create “green jobs” – would also have been much better for the economy than the endless manufacture of machinery to tear people to pieces, poison their wombs and reduce their neighborhoods to rubble.

“Every billion dollars spent on the military results – directly and indirectly – in fewer jobs and lower quality jobs than a billion dollars spent on education,” shows a recent analysis published by the Political Economy Research Institute. “That is, the effects of military spending ripple through the economy with much less vigor than government spending on other programs. Plus, domestic spending has a longer lasting impact on the economy. A well-educated, healthy workforce, along with investment in infrastructure, will fuel the new industries of tomorrow.”

Weapons spending in a permanent war economy, on the other hand, fuels inflation and debt.

HEAVY WEATHER
“When a credit system implodes, it can feed on itself with lightning speed,” warns the Telegraph’s editorial board. They should know. Right outside their London windows is “The City” where bank-driven money markets make the financial “plays” that impact everyone and everything on the planet. [Telegraph Jan 4/08]

Barney Frank is the congressional chairman of the Financial Services Committee. He says that this week’s worldwide stock market “declines” plus the panicky move by the privately-held Federal Reserve to lower interest rates by a massive three-quarters of a percentage point make it clear that yet more borrowed billions must be poured on the debt conflagration. Immediately. As he puts it, “The trigger has already been pulled.” [New York Times Jan 24/08]

Don’t sweat deepening the deficit, Frank urges. The real problem is that all this debt is not producing much, except windfall payoffs to political cronies on both sides of the Congressional aisle. Like the well-connected folks who run Blackwater, Halliburton, Bechtel and the Carlyle Group. [Progressive Jan 11/08]

Still, whether Uncle Bush can dodge the bullet of his own devising by putting this new inflation shotgun to America’s dazed forehead and pulling both triggers remains to be experienced.

It probably won’t be pretty. Or fun.

Just as sailors know that when landlubbing forecasters cushioned by their climate-controlled cars and buildings speak of “windy” weather, you’d better batten down the hatches and prepare for a hurricane… similarly, when tight-lipped U.S. financial priests talk of a “decline” – think 50,000-pound bunker buster whistling toward your den.

A Swiss Central Bank governor named Thomas Jordan puts it another way. “The kind of upheaval observed in the international money markets over the past few months has never been witnessed in history.” [Telegraph Jan 4/08]

PERHAPS A COURSE CHANGE WOULD BE WISE
What if we cut back on our consumption instead? What if we got off the jets, and turned deserted malls into mini-communities of apartments, offices and small shops? What if we give the planet, our nerves, and our families a breather by investing whatever money we have in green companies that offer our children a future?

“All that is left is the one option that would have served Americans (and the world) best all along, which is to model environmental sanity,” insists Jacques Leslie in his landmark article in Mother Jones. “Stop buying products made from illegally cut wood [at Ikea and Home Depot, for example]. Stop building coal-fired power plants. Instead of subsidizing oil companies, invest government funds in research on sustainable-energy technologies. Build effective mass-transit systems in every city. Cut greenhouse gas emissions. Show China” – and a skeptical Two-Thirds World – “the benefits of responsible behavior.” [Mother Jones Dec 10/07]

Out here on the Left Coast, economist Robert Pollin stubbornly believes that a People’s Economy is possible. Pollin is pulling for the common-sense creation of one million new jobs in “health care, education, and energy conservation.”

He also advocates “extending public medical insurance to every single American who doesn’t have it today, and greatly expanding educational opportunities.”

Why not?

It’s our money, after all.