Athens to ask for EFSF deal to apply to Greece, too [ekathimerini]

The government is considering to ask for the European Council agreement of Thursday for banks to get direct funding from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to apply to Greece, too, even though the recapitalization of local lenders was agreed to be included in the state’s bailout agreement.

The issue was discussed, according to reports, during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence in Athens on Saturday evening, ahead of the visit of the representatives of Greece’s creditors from Monday.

The meeting involved the recovering PM Antonis Samaras, new Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, State Minister Dimitris Stamatis and the PM’s adviser Costas Bouras.

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#CISPA, #SOPA, #PIPA and #BigLobbying [opensecrets]

In an era when Republicans and Democrats can agree on almost nothing, one issue in the last three months has been providing common ground: rewriting the rules of the Internet. Privacy and free speech advocates have unleashed a groundswell of outrage as they’ve rushed to rally the public against the measures. But corporate backers of the proposals have fought back hard.

InternetPiracy.jpg

According to an OpenSecrets.org analysis of the most recent lobbying disclosure information, five of the top ten bills that have been lobbied the most intensely so far this year are Internet-related, and most have bipartisan and industry backing. Major cash is being laid out to push their passage.
The most recent bill to stir things up is the Cyber Intelligence and Sharing Protection Act(CISPA), which would allow private companies to share far more data on users with the federal government in what backers say is an effort to improve cybersecurity. Opponents claim it would severely undermine the privacy rights of many Americans. The bill was passed by the House last night and now faces a tougher battle in the Senate (and the threat of a veto by President Obama).

A list of companies and organizations that have sent letters of support for the bill to the House Intelligence Committee, where the legislation was created, meshes closely with the list of top lobbying groups so far this year — not to mention groups that lobbied on SOPA and PIPA.

For example, AT&T, which sent this letter, spent more money lobbying in the first three months of 2012 than any other single corporation ($7 million, second only to the mega-trade organization Chamber of Commerce, which also lobbied on CISPA though to a lesser extent). The telephone utilities industry as a whole, which includes AT&T and Verizon (which sent this letter) spent $15.3 million in the first quarter of this year, increasing its lobbying expenditures by 35 percent over the previous three months. The total laid out for lobbying by the computer/Internet industry, which includes some of the biggest backers of CISPA, SOPA and PIPA, fell 6 percent in the first quarter — but at $32.1 million, the industry was still the sixth-largest spender on lobbying amont all industries so far in 2012.

Incompetent Economists [dailyreckoning]

When, exactly, did economists become charlatans? Probably in the early-mid 20th century. That’s when they stopped listening and began commanding. Instead of trying to understand how economies worked, they started to tell them what to do.

And now, economists are almost all mountebanks and scamsters.

They pretend to know what they don’t know at all. And they pretend to be able to do what they can’t do. They meddle. They interfere. They make precise estimates and forecasts. They make pompous judgments. They almost sound like they know what they are doing.

Last month, The Atlantic magazine proved that it is run by half-wits. It put a photo of Ben Bernanke on the cover with the headline: “The Hero.”

“Ben Bernanke saved the global economy,” said the description.

Oh really? How did he do that? Don’t bother to ask. Nobody knows what was wrong with the global economy…whether it has been ‘saved’…or how it was saved…least of all, the editors of The Atlantic.

Certainly, Ben Bernanke doesn’t know. The biggest credit and real estate bubble of all time blew up on his watch…anyone could have seen it coming. But not Ben Bernanke. And how could he possibly ‘save’ a situation that he neither saw nor understood?

Beats us.

Our assessment of Bernanke is closer to that of Mike Shedlock:

We can state without a doubt that Bernanke is an inflationist jackass, devoid of common sense. Clueless about trade, debt, history and gold.

Shedlock believes The Atlantic cover will earn it a spot in the contrarian magazine cover hall of fame, next to TIME’s famous 2005 cover: “Home $weet Home,” which lauded the advantages of buying a house.

We don’t know. But we know Bernanke is an economist. And economists are frauds. Can they make us richer? No. Can they make the economy work better? No.

What can they do? They can cause problems and then come up with claptrap solutions that make them worse.

Here is Joseph Stiglitz again, missing the point:

US inequality is at its highest point for nearly a century. Those at the top — no matter how you slice it — are enjoying a larger share of the national pie; the number below the poverty level is growing. The gap between those with the median income and those at the top is growing, too. The US used to think of itself as a middle-class country — but this is no longer true.

Read more: Incompetent Economists http://dailyreckoning.com/incompetent-economists/#ixzz1zHL8X0Jd

 

Mysterious Deaths of 9/11 Witnesses

Gazprom to boost export to EU by 50% [RT]

Russia plans to boost gas exports to Europe by up to 230 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2030 from the current 150 billion, the Russian Ministry of Energy has announced.

Gas production in Russia is expected to increase by 30-50% by 2030, while consumption is expected to grow by only 20-30%, according to the Ministry. They say it would create opportunities to boost exports. Currently the country produces 670 bcm per year.

At the end of the month Gazprom reported increase in production and supply to the local market in the first quarter. The production was up to 141.8 bcm and the supply grew by 3.5 bcm to 104.6 bcm.

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Soon everyone might be using the renminbi

Soon everyone might be using the renminbi

 

Over the past couple years China has been making strides to expand the use of the renminbi for international trade as apposed to using the US dollar as an intermediary. With a growing Chinese economy and a weakening USD, increased use of the renminbi protects global trade from the desperate moves made by the US Federal Reserve. The Financial Times reports on this big economic development:

China plans to create a special zone to experiment with currency convertibility in Shenzhen, the city where it introduced key economic reforms three decades ago.

The measure will enable Hong Kong banks to lend renminbi directly to companies in Qianhai Bay – a new economic zone on a peninsula across the water from Hong Kong – according to Chinese state media.

Analysts say the experiment could prove as critical to eventually dismantling capital controls as Deng Xiaoping’s reforms were to opening China to the world.

Foreign institutions have also been given a limited but growing array of investment options for their renminbi holdings, such as Hong Kong’s dim sumbond market and a programme for buying Chinese equities.

Liu Ligang, an economist at ANZ, said the risks of the latest measure were greater than those attached to the 1980s opening.

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Brewing a Conflict with China [paulcraigroberts]

Washington has pressured the Philippines, whose government it owns, into conducting joint military exercises in the South China Sea. Washington’s excuse is that China has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Indonesia, and other countries concerning island and sea rights in the South China Sea. Washington asserts that China’s territorial disputes with the like of Indonesia and the Philippines are a matter of United States’ national interests.

 

Washington has not made it clear what Washington’s stake is in the disputes. The reason Washington cannot identify why China’s disputes with the Philippines and Indonesia are threats to the United States is that there is no reason. Nevertheless, the undefined “threat” has become the reason Washington needs more naval bases in the Philippines and South Korea.

What this is all about is provoking a long-term cold war conflict with China that will keep profits and power flowing into Washington’s military-security complex. Large profits flow to armaments companies. A portion of the profits reflow into campaign contributions to “the people’s representatives” in DC and to presidential candidates who openly sell out their country to private interests.

Washington is going to construct new naval bases in the Philippines and on the environmentally protected Jeju Island belonging to South Korea. Washington will waste tax revenues, or print more money, in order to build the unnecessary fleets to occupy these bases. Washington is acquiring bases in Australia for US Marines to protect Australia from China, despite the lack of Chinese threats against Australia. Bush and Obama are the leading models of the “people’s president” who sell out the people, at home and abroad, to private interests.

Why is Washington ramping up a new cold war?

The answer begins with President Eisenhower’s warning to the American people in his last public address about the military/industrial complex in 1961. I won’t quote the warning as it is available online. Eisenhower pointed out to Americans that unlike previous wars after which the US demilitarized, after World War II the cold war with the Soviet Union kept the power and profits flowing into the military/industrial complex, now known as the military/security complex. President Eisenhower said that the flow of power and profit into the military/industrial complex was a threat to the economic wellbeing and liberty of the American people.

No one paid any attention, and the military/security complex was glad to be rid of the five-star general war hero president when his second term expired. Thanks to the hype about the “Soviet threat,” the military/security complex faced an unlimited horizon of mounting profits and power as Americans sacrificed their future to the interests of those who protected Americans from the Soviet threat.

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