Sep 042015
 
 September 4, 2015  Posted by at 9:35 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,


John Vachon Houses in Atlanta, Georgia May 1938

A Global Deleveraging On A Scale The World Has Never Experienced (CNBC)
Foreigners Flee Japan Stocks at Fastest Pace Since at Least 2004 (Bloomberg)
Europe Responds To Desperate Refugees With Razor Wire And Racism (WaPo ed.)
Hungarian Police And Refugees In Standoff After Train Returns To Camp (Guardian)
Greek Government Says €1 Billion Needed To Tackle Refugee Crisis (Kath.)
Greece Wants EU Funding To Tackle Migrant Influx (Reuters)
UN Calls For 200,000 Refugees To Be Distributed Across EU (AFP)
The Refugee Crisis That Isn’t (Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch)
Germany Presses Europe Into Sharing Refugees (Guardian)
Refugees Brave Europe’s Deadly Seas Over Wealthy Arab Neighbors (Bloomberg)
Cameron’s EU Dilemma Grows With Bigger Refugee Crisis and Bills (Bloomberg)
Refugee Crisis: Much More Must Be Done, And Not Just By The UK (Guardian Ed.)
The US Dollar Is Stronger Than Steel (Bloomberg)
The Oil-Sands Glut Is About to Get a Lot Bigger (Bloomberg)
Australia PM’s Decision To Drop Bank Tax ‘Bizarre’ (Afr)
A Secretive Agency Hunts for China’s Crooked Officials Worldwide (Bloomberg)
New York’s Pension Fund Pact With the Devil (HuffPo)
EU Parliament Claims Role In Greek Bailout Supervision (EUObserver)
Varoufakis: I Don’t Think Tsipras Believes In Bailout (CNBC)
Food Sovereignty (Beppe Grillo)
Regenerative Agriculture: The Popular Face Of Permaculture (Lebo)

“.. markets do not like uncertainty and investors tend to shoot first and ask questions later. Therefore we are probably in for a lot more volatility. This global deleveraging is the cause of all the market turmoil, including the problems in China…”

A Global Deleveraging On A Scale The World Has Never Experienced (CNBC)

Everyone is blaming China for the recent stock-market rout, but this blame is misguided. China was the beneficiary of global expansion of money supply at the hands of activist central banks. In fact, my view is that Chinese leadership had little to do with the growth “miracle” it experienced over the last decade. As central banks in the U.S., Japan and Europe eased policy, money sought a higher-yielding home in China. This capital inflow was the cause of the growth “miracle” and now that the expansionary monetary policy is ending, it is only natural that the Chinese economy would begin to slow. Unfortunately, this “search for yield” has created the largest shadow banking system the world has even seen … and it could be in trouble.

According to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), since 2010 the amount of U.S. dollar-denominated debt issued by foreign companies has grown by 50% from $6 trillion to $9 trillion. The proximate cause of this debt buildup was the impact of U.S. Federal Reserve quantitative easing on bond yields — as the Federal Reserve bought bonds, yields were pushed lower and investors were forced to search globally for higher-yielding financial instruments. This demand for yield fueled a credit binge of unprecedented scale. The epicenter of this pro-cyclical expansion of credit was the fast-growing emerging markets. Investors perceived that investing in countries like China, Brazil and Turkey was worth the risk, especially if emerging-market companies were offering higher yields.

Some of the credit extended to emerging-market companies was used for real economic projects, but a BIS report released in late August concludes that most of the money was simply invested in higher yielding shadow-banking instruments. This is the so-called global carry trade. The global carry trade works like this: An emerging-market company issues bonds denominated in U.S. dollars; critically, the yield on these bonds is above the yield of U.S. corporate bonds but BELOW the yield on shadow-banking instruments within the emerging markets. The relatively higher yielding bonds attract investors searching for yield; at the same time, the emerging-market company can invest the proceeds of the bond sale into higher yielding instruments. The emerging-market company earns the difference between its low yielding U.S. dollar bonds and its high yield emerging-market investments. This is financial engineering by another name.

The global carry trade works especially well under three conditions: 1) There is a large interest-rate differential between the U.S. and the emerging country, 2) The emerging country’s currency is rising, and 3) Currency volatility is very low. All three of these conditions have been present since 2010 and have been fuel for this massive build in debt. However the economic slowdown in China coupled with the U.S. Federal Reserve ending quantitative easinghas resulted in a strong U.S. dollar (weak emerging-market currencies) and tremendous currency volatility — thereby significantly reducing the attractiveness of the carry trade. The credit expansion of the carry trade resulted in emerging-market money supply growth that was the basis for economic growth.

In fact, it was the virtuous spiral of credit/money growth fueling economic growth that produced investor demand for emerging market bonds. Now, I fear, that process is beginning to reverse. The reversal of this process means a reversal of the capital flows from emerging market back to the United States. The strength of the U.S. dollar and weakness in emerging market currencies is a reflection of the process reversing. What this means is that the world is beginning a global deleveraging on a scale that it has never experienced. One of the knock-on effects of this global deleveraging is a slowdown in China. I do not mean to suggest that the sky is falling, but markets do not like uncertainty and investors tend to shoot first and ask questions later. Therefore we are probably in for a lot more volatility. This global deleveraging is the cause of all the market turmoil, including the problems in China.

Read more …

Deleveraging.

Foreigners Flee Japan Stocks at Fastest Pace Since at Least 2004 (Bloomberg)

Global investors are pulling money out of Japan’s equity market at the fastest pace since at least 2004, according to Mizuho. Foreigners last week sold a net 1.85 trillion yen ($15.4 billion) of Japanese stocks and equity index futures, the biggest combined outflow since Mizuho began tracking the data more than a decade ago, said Yutaka Miura, a Tokyo-based senior technical analyst at the brokerage. Investors are fleeing amid concern about China’s economic outlook and the prospect of higher interest rates in the U.S., he said. “This is a result of investors dumping global risk assets,” said Miura. “Japanese stocks have performed well since the start of the year, so similar to what’s happening in Europe, we’re seeing people take profits.”

The Topix index is down 13% from its Aug. 10 high, paring its 2015 advance to 4.8%. The nation’s shares are among the world’s worst performers since China unexpectedly devalued the yuan last month, roiling markets worldwide and intensifying concern about the outlook for Japan’s biggest trading partner. Foreigners dumped 1.43 trillion yen of Japanese equities in the three weeks through Aug. 28, Tokyo Stock Exchange data updated Thursday show. That’s the most for any three-week span on record, overtaking the period when Bear Stearns Cos. collapsed in 2008.

Net stock sales totaled 707 billion yen last week, and investors also reduced positions in index futures by 1.14 trillion yen, exchange data show. Cumulative flows for 2015 are still positive, with foreigners buying a net 1.1 trillion yen of equities through last week. Andrew Clarke at Hong Kong brokerage Mirabaud Asia said investors who needed to reduce positions in Asia and couldn’t offload stocks in China because of share suspensions turned to Tokyo instead. “The sell-off started in China,” Clarke said. “Investors couldn’t sell there in the end so selling spread to Asia, and Japan especially as it has a greater liquidity. This eventually spread to Europe and the U.S.”

Read more …

Orban is a loose cannon, easy pickings. But Orban did not order that train to halt. Merkel did.

Europe Responds To Desperate Refugees With Razor Wire And Racism (WaPo ed.)

The wrenching photographs of Aylan Kurdi , the 3-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed ashore on a Turkish beach this week, are an emblem of the moral and legal abdication of Western nations in the face of the worst refugee crisis the world has seen in decades. Hundreds of thousands of desperate Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, Somalis and others have embarked this summer on dangerous voyages across the Mediterranean or arduous treks through southeastern Europe in the hope that rich, democratic nations will grant them safe harbor, in keeping with international law and their own commitments. To a shocking degree, they have been met with indifference, disregard or the cold hostility of razor wire and racism.

According to published reports, Aylan s family was denied a refugee visa by the Canadian government and an exit visa by Turkey, propelling it into the overcrowded boat that capsized while attempting to reach Greece. The boy was one of more than 2,600 refugees who have died trying to reach Europe this spring and summer, a toll driven by the abject failure of the European Union to create safe and legal means for refugees to seek asylum. The response to the crisis from leaders whose nations boast of their humanitarianism almost beggars belief. Britain has resettled just more than 200 of the 4 million Syrians who have fled the country, yet Prime Minister David Cameron this week claimed his government was taking its fair share.

So far this year, Hungary has granted asylum to 278 out of 148,000 applicants, according to the United Nations, even though two-thirds or more of those applying are fleeing war zones and have a right to refuge under international conventions. While Aylan s body was washing ashore, another disgraceful drama was playing out at Budapest s main train station, where authorities refused to allow thousands of refugees to board trains for Germany even though German authorities stood ready to receive them. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has built a razor-wire fence along his country s southern border and promised to dispatch troops to stop asylum seekers. He has been shockingly blunt about his motivations: to defend Europe’s Christian culture from an influx of Muslims.

Such attitudes reveal the deeper stakes of the refugee crisis for the West. If intolerant demagogues such as Mr. Orban are allowed to prevail, then the EU’s identity as a community of states committed to human rights and the rule of law will be shattered. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel put it on Monday, “If Europe fails on the question of refugees, if this close link with universal civil rights is broken, then it won’t be the Europe we wished for”.

Read more …

Blame Germany. All these people could have been safe by now.

Hungarian Police And Refugees In Standoff After Train Returns To Camp (Guardian)

Hundreds of people remained on a train in the Hungarian town of Bicske over Thursday night following a botched attempt by authorities to move on some of the thousands gathered in Budapest’s main railway station. The Hungarian authorities earlier appeared to trick hundreds of people into taking a train to a refugee camp outside Budapest in an attempt to end a two-day standoff at the station where thousands have been trying to get to western Europe. There was confusion at Keleti rail terminus in the morning when departures were initially cancelled and then passengers piled on to a newly arrived train they hoped would take them to Austria or Germany.

Instead, the train stopped in the town of Bicske, outside the capital, where riot police were waiting to take the refugees to an overcrowded facility that many had left a few days earlier in the hope of finding sanctuary in Germany. There were chaotic scenes at the station when one man pulled his wife and child on to the tracks, begging police not to force them to go to the camp. “We won’t move from here,” he shouted repeatedly. The man was later handcuffed and taken away by officers. A large group of people was surrounded in a hot and cramped underpass leading out of the station, chanting “no camp, no camp”. Other passengers clashed with police and forced their way back on to the train to begin a standoff in the sweltering heat.

Police brought water but many of the migrants refused to take the bottles, vowing to go on hunger strike. Later, volunteers tried to offer them food but people refused to eat. “We don’t need food and water. Just let us go to Germany,” one said from an open train window. Hungarian police declared the area an “operation zone” and removed reporters from the station. Later, reporters were allowed to gather on a platform. About 100 people were on the opposite platform and about 50 riot police blocked the route across the tracks. The travellers on the train resorted to holding signs up against the train windows, which said “no camp for children” and “save our souls, we are children”.

Read more …

They’re not going to get it.

Greek Government Says €1 Billion Needed To Tackle Refugee Crisis (Kath.)

Greece is to make an immediate request for more funding from the European Commission to tackle the refugee crisis on the eastern Aegean islands but this will only represent a fraction of the €1 billion that the caretaker government believes it needs to address the situation. Kathimerini understands that the Greek police will on Friday request €6 million in emergency funding from Brussels to cover the cost of new equipment and sending more personnel to islands such as Lesvos, Kos, Samos and Chios, where around 2,000 refugees a day are landing in dinghies that set sail from Turkey. Police chiefs want to send a significant number of officers to these islands to help register refugees and migrants who arrive there. However, they also need more equipment, including fingerprint scanners.

The Commission approved an emergency transfer of €2.8 million to the Greek coast guard earlier this summer. However, the extra funds will fall well short of the total that Athens believes it needs to deal with the refugee crisis. Speaking at a news conference with several other cabinet members, Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said that Greece needs around €1 billion but cannot be sure that it will receive this amount. “The minimum sum Greece needs is €400 million from the [EU] asylum fund and €330 million from the fund for the poor to tackle urgent infrastructure needs,” he said. His comments came as European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos arrived in Athens.

“We are here today to discuss with the Greek government the best way that we can quickly implement the decisions that are necessary for us to be able to assist financially and with people and material so that the situation becomes better,” said Timmermans after talks with caretaker Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou. The EU officials are due to visit the eastern Aegean islands on Friday.

Read more …

Betcha EU is going to bring up trust issues.

Greece Wants EU Funding To Tackle Migrant Influx (Reuters)

Greece will ask the European Union for about 700 million euros to build infrastructure to shelter the hundreds of refugees and migrants arriving on its shores daily, the government said on Thursday. The cash-strapped country has seen a rise in the number of refugees and migrants – mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – arriving on rubber dinghies from nearby Turkey. Aid agencies estimate about 2,000 people cross over to Greek islands including Kos, Lesbos, Samos and Chios every day. The interim government said it planned to set up a new operations centre and take steps to improve conditions at existing refugee centers.

Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said the country will seek EU funds earmarked to address the crisis. “There is a major funding issue which should be addressed urgently,” Christodoulakis told a news conference. “The minimum sum Greece needs is €400 million from the asylum fund and €330 million from the fund for poor to tackle urgent needs for infrastructure.” Frans Timmermans, first vice president of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos, are in Athens to meet Greek officials. They will meet police and coast guard officials on Kos on Friday. Christoudoulakis said Greece will also provide financial help to the many eastern Greek islands that are feeling the pressure from the migrants influx.

“Many northern and southern Aegean islands have faced a dive in tourist traffic in recent months,” he said. “If we don’t address that, we will have a new domestic wave of unemployed and poor.” He also called Greek ship-owners to offer vessels as temporary accommodation for refugees and blamed Europe for a lukewarm response to the migration issue. “These difficult problems cannot be solved at the sitting rooms in Europe or in other countries but at the piers and at the shores who receive scores of refugees every day,” he said.

Read more …

How many will go to America?

UN Calls For 200,000 Refugees To Be Distributed Across EU (AFP)

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees called Friday on the European Union to admit up to 200,000 refugees as part of a “mass relocation programme” that would be binding on EU states. “People who are found to have a valid protection claim… must then benefit from a mass relocation programme, with the mandatory participation of all EU member states,” Antonio Guterres said in a statement. “A very preliminary estimate would indicate a potential need to increase relocation opportunities to as many as 200,000 places,” he added. His call came ahead of a meeting later Friday of EU foreign ministers to discuss the continent’s refugee crisis, of which Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, whose lifeless body was found face down in the surf on a Turkish beach on Wednesday, has become a searing symbol. Referring to the pictures of the dead child, which “had stirred the hearts of the world public”, Guterres said: “Europe cannot go on responding to this crisis with a piecemeal or incremental approach.”

Read more …

No, true, it’s a Europe crisis.

The Refugee Crisis That Isn’t (Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch)

European leaders may differ about how to respond to the asylum-seekers and migrants surging their way, but they seem to agree they face a crisis of enormous proportions. Germany’s Angela Merkel has called it “the biggest challenge I have seen in European affairs in my time as chancellor.” Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni has warned that the migrant crisis could pose a major threat to the “soul” of Europe. But before we get carried away by such apocalyptic rhetoric, we should recognize that if there is a crisis, it is one of politics, not capacity. There is no shortage of drama in thousands of desperate people risking life and limb to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean in rickety boats or enduring the hazards of land journeys through the Balkans.

The available numbers suggest that most of these people are refugees from deadly conflict in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. Eritreans – another large group – fled a brutally repressive government. The largest group – the Syrians – fled the dreadful combination of their government’s indiscriminate attacks, including by barrel bombs and suffocating sieges, and atrocities by ISIS and other extremist groups. Only a minority of migrants arriving in Europe, these numbers suggest, were motivated solely by economic betterment. This “wave of people” is more like a trickle when considered against the pool that must absorb it. The EU population is roughly 500 million. The latest estimate of the numbers of people using irregular means to enter Europe this year via the Mediterranean or the Balkans is approximately 340,000.

In other words, the influx this year is only 0.068% of the EU’s population. Considering the EU’s wealth and advanced economy, it is hard to argue that Europe lacks the means to absorb these newcomers. To put this in perspective, the U.S., with a population of 320 million, has some 11 million undocumented immigrants. They make up about 3.5% of the U.S. population. The EU, by contrast, had between 1.9 and 3.8 million undocumented immigrants in 2008 (the latest available figures), or less than 1% of its population, according to a study sponsored by the EC. Put another way, nearly 13% of the U.S. population (some 41 million residents) are foreign-born – twice the proportion of non-EU foreign-born people living in Europe.

Read more …

Playing the good cop and getting away with it. But we know better.

Germany Presses Europe Into Sharing Refugees (Guardian)

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, looks set for victory in her campaign to press Europe into a new system of sharing refugees after France caved in to a proposed new quotas system and Brussels unveiled plans to quadruple the number of people spread across most of the EU. In a major policy speech on Europe’s worst migration emergency, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, is to table proposals next Wednesday for the mandatory sharing of 160,000 refugees between 25 of the EU’s 28 countries. Britain, Ireland and Denmark are exempted from having to take part, but Dublin has already agreed to participate and David Cameron is under increasing pressure for Britain to pull its weight as the migration crisis escalates with scenes of chaos and misery on Europe’s borders.

Berlin and Paris have sought to maintain a common position for weeks, but the French equivocated on the key issue of binding quotas. On Thursday, the president, François Hollande, aligned himself with Merkel’s drive for compulsory EU sharing of refugees. Merkel announced from Switzerland that both sides had agreed a common platform and Hollande said there should be a “permanent and obligatory mechanism” for receiving refugees in the EU. “The president and the chancellor have today decided to forward joint proposals on the organisation of the reception of refugees and a fair sharing in Europe,” said the Élysée Palace. Germany, along with the European commission, has been pushing hard for a new mandatory system since May when Juncker tabled much more modest proposals for the compulsory sharing of 40,000 bona fide asylum-seekers over two years.

A summit of EU leaders in June rejected the quotas, saying they could only be voluntary and eventually agreeing to share only 32,000. The east European countries and Spain were the main opponents. Four east European prime ministers are to meet on Friday to consider their positions. Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, reiterated his opposition to quotas in Berlin this week. But the speed of developments on the ground is dictating political responses. Donald Tusk, who chairs EU summits as president of the European council, said the EU should agree to share at least 100,000 refugees. In June, he opposed the quotas system. The proposed figures – 100,000 to 160,000 – refer merely to a mandatory quotas system, beyond the much higher numbers of asylum claims that the countries will have to process in any case. Germany alone expects 800,000 this year.

Read more …

Our friends the Saudis.

Refugees Brave Europe’s Deadly Seas Over Wealthy Arab Neighbors (Bloomberg)

Searching for a new home, Yassir Batal says Germany and its unfamiliar voices and customs are more enticing for his wife and five children than the wealthy Arab states whose culture, religion and language they share. Like so many other Syrians who have escaped civil war, the 36-year-old has ruled out heading south through Jordan to Saudi Arabia or beyond. They wouldn’t be welcomed the same way, he said. “In Europe, I can get treatment for my polio, educate my children, have shelter and live an honorable life,” said Batal, as he left a United Nations office in Beirut, the city that’s been the crossroads for more than a million refugees since the violence started in March 2011. “Gulf countries have closed their doors in the face of Syrians.”

Stories of fellow refugees suffocating in trucks or small children drowning in the Mediterranean Sea are doing little to tarnish the allure of Europe and the struggle to get there. As countries argue over how to cope with the scale of the tide of humanity, safer routes to the Gulf states remain blocked because of the difficulties gaining entry and concern over how migrants would be treated there. Gulf countries have been active in the Syrian conflict and millions of dollars raised in some states have found their way to rebel groups, including extremists. While they also spent billions of dollars of aid to displaced people in camps in Jordan and Lebanon, they maintain strict controls on who can cross their borders. Most of the migrants fleeing the war are Sunni Muslim, like most Gulf citizens.

“I’m most indignant over the Arab countries who are rolling in money and who only take very few refugees,” Danish Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said in an interview this week at his office in Copenhagen. “Countries like Saudi Arabia. It’s completely scandalous.”

Read more …

Whichever way the wind blows, that’s where you’ll find David.

Cameron’s EU Dilemma Grows With Bigger Refugee Crisis and Bills (Bloomberg)

Europe is giving David Cameron a migraine. Accused of not caring about the refugee crisis, the prime minister is struggling yet again to navigate Britain’s ever-problematic relationship with the European Union following confirmation that his country had quietly paid a bill he once derided as “appalling” to the bureaucrats in Brussels. The U.K.’s unwillingness to take the same share of refugees threatens to undermine Cameron’s efforts to whip up support among his Europeans peers to win back powers from the 28-nation bloc ahead of a referendum on membership brought on by a growing tide of euroskepticism. In his quest to re-write terms for the U.K., Cameron heads to Spain and Portugal on Friday to meet with leaders.

“He’s quite clearly got a perception problem and has soured his relationships,” said Raoul Ruparel, co-director at the Open Europe think-tank. “There is a risk that will have an impact on what he’s trying to do in terms of renegotiation.” The 48-year-old Conservative leader is on the defensive. He said Thursday that the U.K. would fulfill its duty in helping asylum seekers as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle joined a global chorus of voices demanding he do more. After British newspapers ran a photograph of a dead child on a Turkish beach, Cameron was forced to respond. “Britain is a moral nation that always fulfills its moral obligations,” he said in a pooled television interview. “We are taking thousands of people and we will take thousands of people.”

Following a comfortable re-election in May that left the opposition in shambles, Cameron’s tact in handling the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II has been brought to task as the EU borders buckle under the weight of migrant flows from Syria and other troubled spots in Africa and the Middle East. EU governments now need to house at least 100,000 refugees, a far larger number than what had been envisaged, EU President Donald Tusk said on Thursday. Several countries have balked at an earlier proposal to redistribute 40,000, whittling that number down to 32,000. The U.K. did not participate at all.

Read more …

“What appears on our TV screens as a sudden emergency is really the culmination of years of failure..” Ongoing.

Refugee Crisis: Much More Must Be Done, And Not Just By The UK (Guardian Ed.)

Britain cannot open its borders to everyone fleeing war anywhere in the world, but this does not excuse the government’s shameful determination to keep our borders closed to as many refugees as possible. Our international treaty obligations, as well as the promptings of our collective conscience, entail a duty to offer meaningful sanctuary when a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds before our eyes. The prime minister surely understands this. He is personally capable of compassion, but his political instincts have been conditioned by defensive parochialism: fear of alienating those parts of the press and the electorate where hostility to foreigners is visceral. His reluctance to engage with pan-European efforts to accommodate refugees stems from a refusal to articulate any circumstances in which national questions should be answered at continental level.

This makes his argument for focusing on the causes of mass displacement, above all the war in Syria, sound disingenuous – hard-heartedness camouflaged as strategy. But the underlying point is valid. What appears on our TV screens as a sudden emergency is really the culmination of years of failure to confront Syria’s bloody collapse. This, sadly, is symptomatic of a more profound myopia in European security policy. Not only Britain is responsible for European paralysis. There is a wide arc of conflict-ridden, repressive and failed states running from the Middle East, round the Horn of Africa and along the southern Mediterranean coast. There are tens of millions of people living in that region who might reasonably decide that the only future for them and their families lies in Europe.

There is little sign that European leaders have even begun to engage with each other or with their electorates on the questions this raises for the security, legitimacy and stability of the European Union. Although it is essential in discussion of the current crisis to remember the legal distinction between refugees – seeking sanctuary from imminent danger – and the wider category of people who migrate in search of a better future for themselves and their families, it is also important to acknowledge that, in places where economic activity, law and order are breaking down, the line between the two categories is technically and ethically hard to draw.

Read more …

Much stronger.

The US Dollar Is Stronger Than Steel (Bloomberg)

When John Pierpont Morgan bought Andrew Carnegie’s steel business and combined it with two competitors to create U.S. Steel in 1901, the result was the world’s first billion-dollar corporation. Its roughly $1.4 billion market value would translate into about $33 billion in current dollars. But the company is worth less than a tenth of that today, at just under $2.5 billion. While the steel industry has been fading in the U.S. for decades, things have gotten worse recently. A strong U.S. dollar, combined with a slowing Chinese economy, is bringing unprecedented amounts of cheap, foreign steel to the U.S., swamping domestic producers. Average monthly imports spiked by almost 1 million metric tons in 2014, a 38% increase from 2013. Through June of this year, steel imports averaged 3.3 million metric tons a month, roughly the same as last year.

A lot of that is coming from China, the world’s largest producer. Although its economy has cooled, leading to the first dip in steel demand there in a generation, China’s mills have kept chugging along. Much of the excess output is being shipped overseas. In the first half of this year, China’s steel exports rose 28% compared with the same period in 2014. The recent devaluation of the yuan could make Chinese steel even more attractive to U.S. buyers. Exports from Brazil and Russia have also jumped as the real and ruble have fallen sharply against the greenback. U.S. producers have had no choice but to pull back. Andrew Lane, an analyst at Morningstar, expects U.S. steel production to come in at around 85 million metric tons this year, down from 98 million in 2007. “I don’t think we’ll get back to that level until 2020,” Lane says.

Things are particularly hard for U.S. Steel, the country’s No. 2 producer after Nucor. The company lost money in the first two quarters of this year and has laid off more than 1,700 employees, shaving its total workforce to 34,000. “The strong dollar is the icing on the cake,” says Mario Longhi, U.S. Steel’s Brazilian-born chief executive officer. Longhi says foreign producers have been unfairly dumping steel in the U.S. for several years, and trade laws need to be revamped to deal with the problem. “Our laws have not caught up to the 21st century,” he says. Since June, U.S. steel producers have filed three trade cases with the Department of Commerce, alleging that countries including Brazil, China, Japan, and South Korea are either benefiting from government subsidies or selling steel abroad for cheaper than they do at home, in violation of international trade laws.

Although a strong dollar is particularly bad for companies at the beginning of the supply chain, such as steel producers, it’s weighing on the entire U.S. industrial sector. After growing faster than the rest of the economy during the early years of the recovery, manufacturing activity, as measured by the ISM Manufacturing Index, dropped to its lowest level in two years in August. Manufacturing is on pace to post a record trade deficit for the third straight year. That’s dampened some of the enthusiasm around the “reshoring” trend of companies bringing outsourced factory jobs back to the U.S. Rising wages in China have helped make U.S. workers more competitive. But a stronger dollar, coupled with a slowing China, could blunt those gains..

Read more …

Who is financing this madness, and why?

The Oil-Sands Glut Is About to Get a Lot Bigger (Bloomberg)

The last place oil producers want to be when prices plummet to profit-demolishing lows is midstream on a billion-dollar project in one of the costliest parts of the planet to extract crude. Yet that’s exactly where half a dozen oil sands operators from Suncor to Brion find themselves with prices for Canadian oil now hovering around $30 a barrel. While all around them projects have been postponed or canceled, their investments were judged too far along when the oil game suddenly moved from offense to defense. These projects will add at least another 500,000 barrels a day – roughly a 25% increase from Alberta – to an oversupplied North American market by 2017.

For companies stuck spending billions in a downturn, the time required to earn back their investments will lengthen considerably, said Rafi Tahmazian at Canoe Financial. “But the implications of slowing down a project are worse,” said Tahmazian, who helps oversee about C$1 billion ($758 million) in energy funds at the Calgary investment firm. A general rule of thumb says new plants require a West Texas Intermediate price of $80 a barrel to break even. Western Canada Select, a blend of heavy Alberta crude, is currently selling at a discount of about $14 a barrel to the WTI benchmark. This differential for Alberta’s oil, based on such factors as quality and pipeline capacity, has ranged from $7 to $20 this year and exceeded $40 a barrel in late 2012 and part of 2013.

Cenovus Energy a Calgary-based producer that uses steam technology to melt bitumen and pump it to the surface, has postponed two new projects until the oil price recovers. But it’s pressing ahead with expansions started before the downturn that will add 100,000 barrels of capacity by next year. “We do not want short-term pricing to dictate our investment in long-life, high-return oil sands projects,” Cenovus Chief Executive Officer Brian Ferguson told analysts in July, when WTI was trading near $50. Oil companies plan for price variations during the lives of long-term projects. Cenovus “stress tested” its expansion down to a price of $50 a barrel, a level that will allow it to continue paying a reduced dividend and fund some further growth, Ferguson said in July.

Read more …

Abbott is bizarre, period.

Australia PM’s Decision To Drop Bank Tax ‘Bizarre’ (Afr)

So let me get this straight. After the four peak government agencies that oversee Australia’s financial system recommended taxpayers should receive a proper fee for the free default insurance they provide for $750 billion of bank deposits, Tony Abbott rolled his Treasurer’s correct call on the matter because he doesn’t want another “Labor tax”? “The last way to make our banks strong, the last way to protect depositors, is to hit banks with more taxes,” Abbott dissembled. “That’s the Labor way. It’s not the Coalition’s way.” The truth is that the policy principle of not giving away public insurance to banks for free has been embraced by pretty much every developed economy in the world, and was explicitly advocated in writing by the Council of Financial Regulators and only then belatedly backed by Labor’s Treasurer, Chris Bowen.

Contrary to Abbott’s misleading claims, this is neither a tax nor a Labor proposal. We are talking about a premium for free deposit insurance that was advised by our best bureaucrats because it minimises the “moral hazards” that arise when you give bankers a “heads we win, tails taxpayers lose” incentive structure. The Liberal Party is meant to reflexively support policies that remove or minimise public subsidies of private companies and here we have Abbott giving a free kick to the world’s most profitable banks. The decision is demonstrably bizarre on at least four levels. First, it was always going to be popular with main street. Holding the big banks to account and justifiably transferring wealth from the oligarchs and their shareholders back to taxpayers’ coffers would be welcomed by most.

Second, there was no political battle to be had here – Labor was not going to oppose an initiative it had already backed. Third, Abbott’s decision undermined his own Treasurer, who privately agrees with the idea of pricing free public insurance and eliminating moral hazards. This only reinforces the impression the Liberals are a divisive, clueless bunch of amateurs that struggle with rational action. Finally, the revenue generated by pricing the deposit insurance would have raised tens of billions of dollars over time that could have helped reduce Australia’s net debt, which is inflating every day towards dangerous (non-AAA rated) levels as the economy decelerates, care of the commodity price slump and a sharp contraction in Asian demand. Enough said.

Read more …

Xi is one desperate puppy.

A Secretive Agency Hunts for China’s Crooked Officials Worldwide (Bloomberg)

Qiao Jianjun seemed a model bureaucrat: strict on expense accounts, a stickler for rules. But the director of a sprawling state enterprise that controlled grain stockpiles for a chunk of Henan province had a secret, Chinese officials say: He was embezzling millions. In October 2011, he abandoned his government-issue black sedan at a local airport and disappeared — apparently headed for a favorite destination among China’s wayward party members: the U.S. China’s government released a list of 100 fugitives in April; Qiao was among 40 suspected of being in America. As President Xi Jinping’s nationwide corruption hunt has punished more than 100,000 officials over three years, many of those who’ve found bolt-holes abroad have remained frustratingly out of reach.

Rounding them up, in an operation called “Sky Net,” falls to China’s much feared Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). In a rare interview in May with Bloomberg Businessweek, Sky Net’s leaders discussed their work with the U.S. in catching and returning fugitives. Despite a recent success – a U.S. indictment against Qiao, the grain official – such collaboration remains fraught with sensitivities, adding to tensions ahead of Xi’s U.S. trip this month. CCDI traces its origins to 1927, when the young Chinese Communist Party established a commission to monitor its members’ behavior. Its headquarters now occupy a cement-and-glass rectangle of a building behind a massive stone gateway in central Beijing, not far from the Forbidden City.

While there’s no sign on the gate, the traditionally secretive Party disciplinary arm has embraced a more public profile under Xi. Its website debuted in 2013; this year, it released an app that makes it a cinch to snitch using a mobile phone. The Xi-era drive to crack down on corruption has meant more work and growth for CCDI, including the expansion of its inspection offices to 12 from eight. The agency doesn’t publish staff numbers, but Chinese media reports estimate its size at up to 1,000. Job postings advertise for candidates with good computer skills, preferably with a degree from a top university. Party membership is mandatory.

If Sky Net sounds like a James Bond film, the role of M. could be played by Fu Kui, 53, CCDI’s head of international cooperation until last month when he was put in charge of the agency’s Hunan province operations. He’s square-headed and blunt-looking in a white button-down with no tie, and smokes as he talks. “Our work is about winning people’s hearts for the party,” Fu said in the May interview, in a conference room lined with world maps. “Now that we’re starting to hunt them down, the public is happy to see it.”

Read more …

Ridiculous.

New York’s Pension Fund Pact With the Devil (HuffPo)

I did some digging around and, confirmed that a recent New Yorker article by Pulitzer nominee Jennifer Gonnerman was true. I found that both the New York City and New York State pension funds have a direct stake in corporations that are second cousins to slavery, the private prison industry. This is a shocking revelation. I know and respect the stewards of these funds, Tom Dinapoli and Scott Stringer. They both have impressive civil rights records. As members of the New York State Assembly, the two were loyal supporters of the grassroots movement to repeal the racist Rockefeller Drug Laws. It is hard to believe that two of the most progressive elected officials in New York would take workers’ wages and invest them into such an inhumane enterprise.

The only explanation I could come up with is that they must have not have known that their respective pension funds were directly connected to such a repulsive operation. I brought my concerns to the attention of both men weeks ago, and, as of this writing, nothing has changed. Well, it’s one thing not to know, it’s quite another matter not to care. As Michelle Alexander put it in “The New Jim Crow,” mass incarceration in the United States has emerged as “a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow.” Investing in companies that profit from this system is morally indefensible. I know both Dinapoli and Stringer have voiced opposition to mass incarceration.

Yet in order to realize an increased value in the private prison portion of their equity portfolio, they must hope for what they claim to oppose — the expansion of the private prison system and the growth of mass incarceration. But it’s not just morally reprehensible to invest in prisons, it is also fiscally irresponsible. Two of the private prison stocks the city and state have wagered sacred pension fund money on, the GEO Group and Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), companies that control approximately 75% of the prison market, are heading south, daily hitting new 52 week lows. From President Obama’s recent spate of pardons, to pending state and federal legislation to cut prison sentences for low level, non-violent offenders, to the #BlackLivesMatter movement calling for an end to the Prison Industrial Complex, the writing is on the wall. Prisons are no longer a growth industry.

Read more …

Lest we forget: “..the sole European institution with a direct popular mandate..”

EU Parliament Claims Role In Greek Bailout Supervision (EUObserver)

The European Parliament and the European Commission are set to discuss the parliament’s role in the supervision of the Greek bailout programme after parliament leaders gave the green light to proceed.( ( Parliament president Martin Schulz received a mandate on Thursday (3 September) from the leaders of the assembly’s political groups to “explore” with commission president Jean-Claude Juncker “the possibilities” of such an involvement. An agreement could be announced as soon as next week, when Juncker participates in the parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg. Juncker will attend the conference of presidents, the group that gave Schulz the green light. The parliament’s move comes in response to a request sent by former Greek PM Alexis Tsipras on 20 August.

Tsipras wrote to Schulz, asking for “the direct and full involvement of the European Parliament in the regular review process regarding the implementation of the loan agreement” between Greece and its creditors – the European Commission, the ECB, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and the IMF. “I deem it politically imperative that the sole European institution with a direct popular mandate acts as the ultimate guarantor of democratic accountability , Tsipras wrote. The basis of the discussion between the two presidents will be the so-called two-pack regulation, which sets up a monitoring and surveillance mechanism of eurozone countries.

In his letter, Tsipras mentioned article 3 of the two-pack, which says parliament should be kept informed and provides possibilities for exchanges of views with officials from the commission or the member state under surveillance. “There was large agreement between political groups , a parliament source told EUobserver. “It is not a surprise , Schulz said, “because the troika report at the end of the parliament’s last mandate already asked for a permanent structure of accompaniment on a parliamentarian level [of] all the actions of the institutions in the framework of the programme. The discussion between Schulz and Juncker could lead to a mechanism that gives the parliament more than the right to be simply informed about implementation of the bailout programme, but less than a deciding role in the monitoring of it.

Read more …

Lots of media.

Varoufakis: I Don’t Think Tsipras Believes In Bailout (CNBC)

Yanis Varoufakis, the controversial former Greek finance minister, has told CNBC that he doesn’t think Alexis Tsipras, who is currently campaigning for re-election as its Prime Minister, believes in the conditions of the country’s third bailout. “He considers it to be unreliable, as does the IMF,” Varoufakis said on Friday. Tsipras was still a personal friend and an “excellent politician”, the economist, who resigned as finance minister this summer after a brutal six months attempting to re-negotiate the austerity conditions of Greece’s bailout by international creditors, added. Varoufakis became the focal point for criticism of Greece for not accepting the austerity program, despite other programs being accepted by bailed-out countries like Portugal and Spain.

Tsipras eventually accepted another bailout with controversial austerity conditions, as the threat of Greece having to leave the euro zone in a disorderly fashion loomed. The third bailout is “unviable on an economy which is in this great depression and debt spiral,” Varoufakis said. Tsipras has recently called new elections in Greece, the second within a year. “I cannot look my electors in the eye and say to them that our party is capable now of stabilizing the economy,” Varoufakis added.

Read more …

“Food is the weapon of the future, not bombs.”

Food Sovereignty (Beppe Grillo)

Does Italy still exist, or is it, as Metternich puts it, a geographic expression? By joining the Euro, it lost its monetary sovereignty. It lost its territorial sovereignty after its defeat in the second world war with occupation by the Americans who have never left since then. It lost its military sovereignty as it is now reduced to taking orders from the USA and organising pretend peace missions in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and bombing Libya (thanks also to grandpa Napolitano)/ The fall of Gaddafi is the cause of the immigration of biblical proportions – from that country that no longer has connections with Italy What’s still left of this devastated country where the words “Patria” {fatherland} and “Nazione “ {nation} are considered to be offensive? If a country has no sovereignty and has leaky borders, can it still call itself a country?

Among the many types of sovereignty that have been lost, there’s also food sovereignty. Food sovereignty implies control by the people in relation to the production and consumption of food. The countries must be able to define their own agricultural and food policies on the basis of their own needs. In the period from 1971 to 2010, Italy lost five million hectares of agricultural land because people were abandoning the land, because of hydrological disturbances and because of “cementification”. Unless there are policies providing incentives for agriculture, people will continue to abandon the land. There are whole areas of Italy that are becoming depopulated with young people fleeing towards the cities. That’s something that started after the second world war and it has never let up. The total area of land now used for agriculture has reduced by 28% in 40 years. Our ability to provide our own food is approaching 80% and it is going down all the time. Only 20 years ago it was 92%.

Italy is the third country in Europe and the fifth in the world as regards the lack of land. It’s a country that is over-populated (we have roughly the same population as France with only half the area of usable land.) To cover our food needs, another 61 million hectares are needed. Every day, 100 hectares of land is being built on, that’s 10 square metres every second. An Italian-style suicide. The Great Public Works are given precedence. But the only thing about them that’s “great” are the associated kickbacks. Instead there should be a long-term plan to put an end to the hydrogeological disruption and to clean up the terrain that has been polluted by every type of waste product. The paradox of Expo 2015 is that it focuses on “Feeding the planet“ and yet to bring it into being, a million (yes – one million) square metres of agricultural land has been used. That’s beyond belief. Food is the weapon of the future, not bombs.

Read more …

From our friend Nelson in Wanganui.

Regenerative Agriculture: The Popular Face Of Permaculture (Lebo)

“Hippy farms always fail.” These were the words of Chuck Barry, a small-scale organic farmer I met in Montrose, Colorado about ten years ago. Chuck made a comfortable living growing high quality vegetables on two acres in a dry and seasonally cold environment that may be compared with Central Otago high country. His comment was based on observations of some people going into farming with good intentions but little understanding of the amount of work involved and inadequate business sense. There is popular, quaint, romantic notion among many people about growing food organically. But at the end of the day, when faced with actually doing it, most hippies opt out because it turns out to be just too hard.

On the other end of the spectrum – as we have been hearing recently in the news – many conventional farms also fail. Conventional farming wisdom over the last decade goes something like this: 1) borrow lots of money from the bank; 2) convert to dairy; 3) borrow more money; 4) rely on ever-increasing dairy pay outs; 5) borrow more money; 6) rely on ever-increasing land prices; 7) get rich; 8) what could possibly go wrong? Well, now we know. Dairy pay outs have fallen through the floor and many farmers are pushed to the wall. On one hand I feel sorry for those famers who have to sell because of their now un-payable debts. But on the other hand, I question why they bought into the paradigm described above in the first place, which appears to me to be very risky.

Alongside financial debt, many conventional farms also run a large soil debt. We see it every day flowing past our city and out into the Tasman Sea. Like financial debt, soil debt is difficult to repay but not impossible. Rebuilding soil fertility while growing food is sometimes called regenerative agriculture. Regenerative agriculture can include organic farming practices, some biodynamic techniques, and holistic range management. All three of these fall within the scope of the eco-design system known as permaculture. I see permaculture as the middle ground between failed hippy farms and failed conventional farms.

Read more …

Home Forums Debt Rattle September 4 2015

This topic contains 19 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Kerry Wilson 3 years, 4 months ago.

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 20 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #23663

    John Vachon Houses in Atlanta, Georgia May 1938 • A Global Deleveraging On A Scale The World Has Never Experienced (CNBC) • Foreigners Flee Japan Stoc
    [See the full post at: Debt Rattle September 4 2015]

    #23664

    Nassim
    Participant

    Clearly, we are out of sync in the southern hemisphere. Really cold July and August. Here are some articles:

    “Sydney weather: Coldest spell in 26 years and more chilly mornings ahead”

    https://www.theage.com.au/environment/weather/sydney-weather-coldest-spell-in-26-years-and-more-chilly-mornings-ahead-20150803-giqaui.html

    “A fantastic finale to the Tasmanian snow season”
    https://www.weatherzone.com.au/news/a-fantastic-finale-to-the-tasmanian-snow-season/359303

    “Melbourne weather: Coldest winter in 26 years keeps a tight grip on city”

    https://www.theage.com.au/victoria/melbourne-weather-coldest-winter-in-26-years-keeps-a-tight-grip-on-city-20150831-gjbhkc.html

    Enjoy your summer up north – while it lasts. 🙂

    #23665

    rapier
    Participant

    Unless there is a picture the vast majority of Americans, or maybe it’s all people I don’t know, are incapable of imagining the ravages of war. Nothing is cheaper than mourning one dead child because there is a picture while the US has done absolutely nothing to prevent war in the Middle East and in fact everything possible to bring it on. All with a huge plurality of support for it.

    In an extra sickening display today’s online NY Times allows that Syria is a mess and “A rising tide of Syrian refugees would sooner or later head for Europe. Yet little was done in Western capitals to stop or mitigate the slow-motion disaster that was befalling Syrian citizens and sending them on the run.” No shit Sherlock and where was the NY TImes by the way?

    No pictures of dead Ukrainan babies or the million refugees by the way there so you can count on them continuing to support the ‘war’ against those ‘terroists’ in the Donbass.

    9/11 was a teeny tiny speck of the human suffering that came after. Not that the US is responsible for all of it but certainly a lot of it and it has certainly been guilty ignoring the human cost and doing nothing to alleviate it.

    And then there is America’s love of bombing cities, civilians. Everyone just loves it. So clean. Death by remote control. No messy beheadings like the savages. As long as there are no pictures of the headless babys, and there never are, Americans can pretend we are pure.

    #23667

    phil harris
    Participant

    Heading South? Through Iraq? Saudi Arabia?

    From Medecin Sans Frontiere
    “In just 100 days, MSF has rescued 11,482 people who have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean. The survivors of a capsized boat also tell us about their treacherous crossing and why they made the journey.

    “In Yemen, MSF is witnessing “one of the worst conflicts” it has seen, according to Dr Tammam Aloudat, as fighting between armed groups intensifies.

    Note: I was an internal refugee as a small child in WWII; we were called ‘evacuees’.

    Phil

    #23669

    Dr. Diablo
    Participant

    Cold up north here, two winters in a row. Not just winter cold, but like winters returning to the 1880-1940 cold. But since that’s actually the long-term average, maybe the climate is normalizing. Certainly seems so here. I haven’t see a normal summer since this whole thing began about 1990, and it’s great to see.

    “Humanitarian Crisis”?? Like a natural disaster, act of God, no one could see it coming? Or you could tell the truth and say, “we love to bomb the —– out of other people and the refugees are a direct result of our violent, irresponsible, totally illegal actions. …Looking at you, Britain, France, Italy, and the base and center they were mostly flown out of, Germany. It’s not a “Humanitarian Crisis” first. It’s a “we bombed our neighbors and it caught our own house on fire” thing. But to avoid using words keeps the war going. And who doesn’t love that? Right?

    Whats with the discrepancy of 32,000 vs 800,000 refugees in the two articles? That’s an entire German city every YEAR. Filled with non-Germans, or non-Europeans. Yes, at 800,000 and counting you’re going to have severe stress and social problems regardless of what you do. And that seems to be the more likely number, not 0.068% They’re talking their book, picking numbers to make their case?

    #23672

    TheTrivium4TW
    Participant

    Where was TAE when this immigrant situation could have been avoided?

    Libya: the West and al-Qaeda on the same side
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8391632/Libya-the-West-and-al-Qaeda-on-the-same-side.html
    The Debt-Money Monopolists have an obvious agenda to destabibilize the Middle East, overwhelm bankrupt Western nations with immigrants, set up police states in Western nations, to provoke cultural division within the nations, and to provoke Russia into some kind of confrontation.
    All this just ahead of their ENGINEERED debt-money Ponzi collapse.
    Why?
    Forcing the effects of the Debt-Money Monopolist agenda is their plan.
    Addressing the Debt-Money Monopolists as the ROOT CAUSE is what they don’t want.

    #23674

    Greenpa
    Participant

    rapier: “And then there is America’s love of bombing cities, civilians. Everyone just loves it. So clean. Death by remote control.”

    Just in case you are not already aware (I would bet you are, though) – the US military has been intimately involved in the design and distribution of video games- for decades. With the specific goals of both training kids to accurately use video pointers, and to get them used to the idea that “this is just a game”. Then they put the top video players to flying armed drones, and inside tanks- etc. This is not random paranoia; this has been documented.

    My own guess for the very high suicide rate among US soldiers these days – they kill by remote control – but it eventually dawns on them they are killing actual people – and is horrifies them They also find out there are no sane reasons why they are doing this – and it destroys them.

    #23675

    Greenpa
    Participant

    “But at the end of the day, when faced with actually doing it, most hippies opt out because it turns out to be just too hard.”

    I have a different view on the problem. It isn’t that “it’s too hard”; in fact many young folks launching into these kinds of farms (I run one) enjoy the daily hard work.

    There are two major reasons they fail (and they often do). A) they got into it armed with vast enthusiasms. But the directions and practices they are steered into are far too often simply bullshit. The field is full of charlatans, who will take your money for “classes” – and never actually operate a farm as they teach- profitably. There are people who are not charlatans, to be sure. But they are often less “flashy”; and the young folks are just like those enthusiastic for Trump at the moment; they really want a loud iconoclast to follow.

    And B) this kind of agriculture is a life-long endeavor and career. In 10 years – you’ll still be doing the same work- with the same very slim results- and it dawns on people this is not going to be exciting, it’s going to be work. Many people bail out at that point; marriages and partnerships disintegrate.

    There are, I can tell you, a growing number of people to do understand this, and are actually looking for the lifetime from the outset. But they’re quiet, and outnumbered by the charlatans; who reproduce freely. Con games have always been an easy way to make a living; and running a con is more “exciting” than just farming.

    #23676

    Professorlocknload
    Participant

    rapier,

    Truth is the first casualty of war. To counter the photo of a dead immigrant child on a beach, a rival political operator could, media willing, produce and circulate a photo of a child murdered by a refugee allowed legal status.

    The trick is not to be lured in by the propaganda.

    And, as always, when the elephants wrestle, the grass suffers, along with the truth.

    #23677

    phil harris
    Participant

    I think it is a good idea to support MSF with what we can afford. There is a UK campaign starting where some local authorities are declaring that we will accept regugees.

    #23678

    Professorlocknload
    Participant

    Greenpa,

    Some of the large scale corporate farmers I know freely admit they farm the government. They also acknowledge an unwritten policy of stepping on the competition while they are still ants.

    One of these big “Starving Farmers” I heard of even had a full time mechanic crew specifically to work on his tractor used in “Tractor Pull Competition.” Also subsidized, no doubt.

    Ah, the wonders of government protection.

    On what constitutes an organic farm, one might want to talk to a professional Pesticide Applicator if he can find one who will speak off record. I know of one who works for an international chemical supplier who claims the lions share of his business is certified organic farms.

    Humm, definitions established using the same semantics .gov is famous for? What the meaning of is, is, and such. But then, who does the FDA really represent?

    #23679

    Kerry Wilson
    Participant

    Greenpa — Any references to your claims about the US Military’s involvement in the design and distribution of video games?

    #23680

    Kerry Wilson
    Participant

    Professorlocknload — re: “On what constitutes an organic farm, one might want to talk to a professional Pesticide Applicator if he can find one who will speak off record. I know of one who works for an international chemical supplier who claims the lions share of his business is certified organic farms.”

    There’s a misconception here. Organic farms do in fact use pesticides. The question turns on the nature of the pesticides used. Generally, those used on organic farms are derived strictly from natural sources.

    #23682

    Professorlocknload
    Participant

    One might suppose oil is as organic as it gets.

    #23683

    rapier
    Participant

    Any type of commune is almost certain to fail in the US. Most other places too but especially here. To choose a word a commune might be called a tribe and tribes just don’t happen spontaneously. It’s hard enough to get along with families living in close quarters or in situations with interlocking dependencies, much less an ad hoc one like some sort of communal arrangement. For better or for worse the modern world and further back the American way of life has always been arranged so that such dependencies are reduced to a minimum and that is all bound up with the American concepts of freedom and individuality. Actually that kind of freedom and individuality has terrible costs, that is if you think the American way of life is sort of nuts. As most here surely do.

    Of course in the heydays of hippie communes the main objection was how they were communistic and wouldn’t work because of the resentments against the slackers but the worst problem really was just getting along with each other.

    I thought back around 75 the whole commune thing was way too early. I think these sorts or social arrangements will only work by necessity, not choice.

    #23684

    Professorlocknload
    Participant
    #23685

    Greenpa
    Participant

    Kerry – just google “military design of video games”. (first one is mil prop)

    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/playing-war-how-the-military-uses-video-games/280486/

    #23687

    Greenpa
    Participant

    rapier: “To choose a word a commune might be called a tribe and tribes just don’t happen spontaneously.”

    A useful and accurate description- and also one with very useful and abundant scientific study of extant successful “tribes”. A) they are structured. B) there is a hierarchy of authority, in long-term existence, and long mutually agreed to. Long as in; many human generations.

    No structure, no hierarchy -> rapid collapse. New structure, new hierarchy created last year-> incredibly difficult to hold together until it matures and is truly agreed to.

    Absolute authoritarian religious communes- can last for centuries easily, millennia, sometimes. Communes based on individual freedom- show me one.

    #23689

    Greenpa
    Participant

    Perfesser; I know some of those farmers, too. One told me: “If you’re not making huge profits from all the government programs- you’re just plain stupid.” Food? Not part of the equations.

    Most of the people now on the forefront of “real” farming, for lack of a better phrase- are no longer interested in the organic label – it has become meaningless; at best. Big commercial “organic” operations are very cynical about staying within the letter of the laws they had written for them – which completely subvert the original ideas. My own labels say “Beyond Organic”, which is both true, and easily commands the same premium price. Because my customers know me.

    #23709

    Kerry Wilson
    Participant

    Professorlocknload — Some oils to be sure. Organic Horticultural Mineral oils, for example, are often used on fruits, especially over winter and early in the season. They typically act by smothering the insects rather than poisoning them. They’re also effective against fungal infection.

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 20 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.