NPC Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 88 Holiday Sedan for 1957, Columbus GA 1908
Fun with numbers.
Next year ends in a 7. If you’re superstitious or a little loose with statistics, that makes us due for another financial crisis. The biggest one-day stock drop in Wall Street history happened in 1987. The Asian crisis was in 1997. And the worst global meltdown since the Great Depression got rolling in 2007 with the failure of mortgage lenders Northern Rock in the U.K. and New Century Financial in the U.S. You can’t really mark the next crisis down on your calendar, of course. The point is that crackups come fairly regularly. And some of the prerequisites for the next one do seem to be falling into place. The IMF may have gotten things about right in its annual Global Financial Stability Report, which was issued in October. It doesn’t sound an alarm but expresses concern.
Short-term risks have actually abated, the IMF says, pointing to rebounding commodity prices, which help some key emerging markets, and the prospect of easier money in developed markets. But, it says, “medium-term risks continue to build.” It cites the unsettled political climate, which makes entrenched problems harder to tackle; some weak financial institutions in developed markets; and heavy corporate debts in emerging markets. Risks that aren’t acute can build for a while before triggering a crisis. What’s indisputable is that debt, the tinder of almost every financial conflagration, is growing rapidly. At 225 percent of world gross domestic product, combined public and private debt outside the financial sector “is currently at an all-time high,” the IMF says. Debt fuels growth but also makes borrowers brittle. Debtors keep owing money even if they lose the ability to repay. If they default, their lenders are damaged and sometimes default on their own obligations, and so the dominoes fall.
The last paragraphs of a piece that just can’t seem to get going, but ends ‘well’. Private debt is by far Australia’s main problem, as it is nearly everywhere else.
The new head of the Reserve Bank, Philip Lowe, told the house economics committee soon after taking over the position last month, that the effects of a ratings downgrade on borrowing costs are “quite small”. He suggested that rather than be the main game, that credit ratings were just “a useful reminder that we need to make sure the recurrent budget is on a good path”. But while our government debt remains “admirable” by international standards, as the secretary of the treasury, John Fraser, noted this week, our levels of private debt are extremely high – indeed fifth-highest in the world. Worryingly, the IMF in its recent fiscal monitor report noted the level of this debt was a concern for Australia’s ongoing financial stability.
Fraser noted this aspect as well in his appearance before the Senate estimates committee, telling the committee that the Treasury, “are also conscious that credit rating agencies are focusing on household debt as well as corporate and government debt”. Policies to lower private debt however are much more thin on the ground than are the cries about the need to cut government spending to reduce government debt. The shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, this week raised the issue in an opinion piece published by Guardian Australia. He highlighted that the ALP’s policy on capital gains tax and negative gearing, which it took to the last election, was the type of policy proscribed by organisations like the IMF to temper our love of taking on more and more private debt.
Should S&P downgrade Australia’s credit rating, no doubt almost all commentary and debate will focus on government debt. But regardless of whether or not such a downgrade will cause interest rates for governments and companies to rise, private – not government – debt will remain the issue that most urgently needs to be addressed.
Britain’s biggest banks are preparing to relocate out of the UK in the first few months of 2017 amid growing fears over the impending Brexit negotiations, while smaller banks are making plans to get out before Christmas. The dramatic claim is made in the Observer by the chief executive of the British Bankers’ Association, Anthony Browne, who warns “the public and political debate at the moment is taking us in the wrong direction”. A source close to Brexit secretary David Davis said he and the chancellor Philip Hammond had last week sought to offer reassurance that they were determined to secure the status of the City of London.
However, the government’s stated intention to take control of the freedom of movement into the UK is widely recognised among officials to be a hammer blow to any chance of retaining the present terms of trade for banks, particularly given the bellicose rhetoric of major politicians on the continent. The so-called passporting rights for members of the single market allow UK-based banks to offer financial services to companies and individuals across the EU unimpeded, yet the French president François Hollande is among those who have insisted in recent weeks that hard Brexit will mean “hard negotiation” and that Britain will need to “pay the price” of leaving.
A hard Brexit would involve the UK leaving both the single market, a cental pillar of which is freedom of movement, and the customs union, which could potentially reintroduce tariff and non-tariff restrictions on British imports and exports. Browne warns that both British and European politicians who appear to be pursuing “anti-trade” goals need to recognise that “putting up barriers to the trade in financial services across the Channel will make us all worse off”. Browne, whose organisation has been in intense negotiations with the government, further warns the EU that banks based in UK are currently lending £1.1tn, therefore “keeping the continent afloat financially”, and that this arrangement is at risk.
How many times has Time Warner been bought and sold now? Remember AOL?
The telecoms giant AT&T has agreed to pay $85bn to buy the media powerhouse Time Warner and create one of the world’s largest media, TV and telecoms firms. The boards of the two companies unanimously approved the deal on Saturday. AT&T will pay $107.50 per Time Warner share, in a combination of cash and stock, worth $85.4 billion overall. The deal, which combines America’s second-largest wireless telecoms company with the owner of HBO, CNN, Cartoon Network and the Warner Brothers movies, is likely to face tough regulatory scrutiny due to fears it could lead to less consumer choice and higher prices. If approved, the deal would be the biggest in the world this year.
AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson, says he does not anticipate government blocking the acquisition, which the company says is expected to go through by the end of 2017. Time Warner’s CEO, Jeff Bewkes, says he expects all of his company’s creative and business executives to stay on “for a number of years”. The Republican presidential nominee said on Saturday he would block the deal if he were elected. In a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Donald Trump said AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner would give the combined group “too much concentration of power” and would “destroy democracy”. Speaking about his continuing battle with the “dishonest mainstream media”, Trump said: “They’re trying desperately to suppress my vote and the voice of the American people.
“As an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” Trump said he would also consider “breaking” up the last big media deal, Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal in 2013. “Deals like this destroy democracy,” he said.
Hillary and her campaign blaming everything on Russia is prodoundly damaging to the US, and on the office of President of the Unted States in case she gets elected.
A stone-faced Hillary Clinton refused to comment tonight on an email a top aide sent calling a Clinton Foundation quid pro quo a ‘mess’ of the former secretary of state’s own making. ‘I have nothing to say about Wikileaks, other than I think we should all be concerned about what the Russians are trying to do to our election and using Wikileaks very blatantly to try to influence the outcome of the election,’ Clinton said. The Democratic nominee was responding to a question posed by DailyMail.com during a media avail with reporters riding on her campaign plane.
Hacked emails revealed an internal disagreement among Clinton’s aides about her desire to hold a conference in Marrakech, Morocco.The country’s king made a $12 million pledge to fund the Clinton Global Initiative conference – but only if the the likely presidential candidate attended. Top confidante Huma Abedin bluntly wrote in a January 2015 email that ‘if HRC was not part of it, meeting was a non-starter.’ Then she warned: ‘She created this mess and she knows it.’ It was an uncharacteristic remark from Abedin, who is known for her abiding loyalty to Clinton over the years.
Whatever direction the wind comes from.
At a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton on Thursday in Miami Gardens, Fla., President Obama condemned Donald Trump’s “rigged election” claims, describing these remarks as “dangerous.” “When you try to sow the seeds of doubt in people’s minds about the legitimacy of our election, that undermines our democracy,” he said. “When you suggest rigging or fraud without a shred of evidence, when last night at the debate, Trump becomes the first major party nominee in American history to suggest that he will not concede despite losing…that is not a joking matter,” Obama added.
Trump said at the third presidential debate that he would keep the United States “in suspense” as to whether he would accept the election results. Later, at a campaign rally, he promised in a jesting manner that he would accept the results “if I win” as the crowd roared. But despite condemning Trump for suggesting an election can be rigged, here is a clip of then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008 warning about voter fraud and suggesting Republicans could try to sway the election in their favor. A female audience member asked… “I would just like to know what you can do to reassure us that this election will not be rigged or stolen?” Obama replies…
On politics, he sounds less than crazed.
In a keynote speech in Gettysburg, Pa., about his plans for his first 100 days in office, Donald Trump laid out what he sees as the the core priorities of a Trump presidency, while focusing in the early part of the speech on attacks against Hillary Clinton and Wall Street, and repeating his core message by telling his audience that Washington and Wall Street are “rigged” against him and that he is the candidate to bring “the change that has to come.” “I am not a politician,” Trump told the crowd. “But when I saw the trouble our country was in, I felt I had to act.” Then, moments after promising Americans that he represented a break from the status quo, he promised to sue a number of women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault, calling them liars.
Trump also railed against the media for seeking to concentrate its power through mergers and for colluding with his accusers to align against his campaign. He added a new threat to his repeated criticisms of U.S. media companies, when he vowed that in his administration such mega mergers as that between AT&T and Time Warner, which was just announced, would not pass as it leads to “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” [..] In terms of soundbites, the following quotes stood out.
On the economy:
• “Change has to come from outside our very broken system.”
• “We’ve doubled our national debt to $20 trillion under President Obama.”
• “Nearly 1 in 4 Americans in their prime earning years isn’t even working.”
• “I am asking the American people to dream big once again.”
• “Will withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
• “Will cancel every un-Constitutional executive action, memorandum, and order issued by President Obama.”
• “We will cancel all federal funding of sanctuary cities.”
• “The veterans will finally be taken care of properly.”
• “If we follow these steps, we will once more have a government of, by, and for the people.”
In terms of actual political measures that Trump would propose and/or enact, he listed the following six:
1) “A Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.”
2) “A hiring freeze on all federal employees.”
3) “A requirement that for every new federal regulation, 2 existing regulations must be eliminated.”
4) “A 5-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government.”
5) “A lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.”
6) “A complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.”
We’ll see lots of this as things continue to slide downhill.
China needs a leader like Mao Zedong and President Xi Jinping fits the bill, according to a media outlet affiliated to the Communist Party. Analysts said the call to make Xi a strongman leader was an attempt to raise his status to the equivalent of “Great Leader”. The exhortation was made by Peoples’ Tribune, which is affiliated with party organ People’s Daily and came just ahead of a key meeting of top officials this week to lay the groundwork for the leadership reshuffle next year. The article, published on October 18, also echoed praise from senior politicians earlier this year, calling for Xi to be named “the core” of the party leadership – a term that carries strong political meaning.
China needed a strongman politician so the nation could again rise to greatness amid a time of strategic challenges and risks, it said. Xi, as party general secretary, was widely regarded by officials and the public as such a leader, it said. “There is no longer such salutation as ‘leader’ after Mao,” said Chen Daoyin, a political scientist at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law. Mao’s brief successor Hua Guofeng was once called “Wise Leader”, but no one used “leader” to address Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin or Hu Jintao, Chen said. The magazine added that without the awareness of loyalty to the “core” leadership of the party there was a danger policies would never be adhered to outside the walls of Zhongnanhai, the nerve centre of the party and central government.
Jimmy Wales is the founder of Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is founded on a bedrock principle of neutrality, seeking to describe all relevant sides without taking a political stance. As an individual, I, too, try to stay out of most political debates — except where they directly impact my personal passion for the free flow of information. This is one of those times. When I founded Wikipedia in 2001, the Internet was a place where ordinary people could freely create and share with one another. Wikipedia emerged from that egalitarian spirit, as a community committed to the free exchange of knowledge. Our mission was and continues to be to collect the sum total of all human knowledge and make it available to everybody in their own language. Since its founding, Wikipedia has become one of the most popular websites in the world.
And we zealously guard the privacy of our users, both the 75,000 people who write the encyclopedia and the half-billion people who read it. In 2013, when Edward Snowden revealed the scope and scale of the system of mass surveillance that had been built by the National Security Agency and other national security agencies, we were horrified. It is thanks to Snowden that we can now participate in an informed and democratic debate about how the US government subverted the power of the Internet in the name of mass surveillance. As a result of what he disclosed, people began to realize their privacy had been massively eroded over the past decade, and not just by the NSA. They recognized that their personal information was being collected, stored, analyzed and shared.
Text messages, emails and phone records they thought were private were actually up for grabs, easily accessed by the US government either directly from major tech companies or by tapping the cables and switches that comprise the Internet’s “backbone.” And all of the surveillance was done without a warrant. That is why I’ve signed onto the campaign asking President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden. Without him, ordinary people around the world would still know little of the growing dragnet stifling the Internet’s enormous potential for good. As a result of Snowden’s actions, the Internet has become safer and users are better equipped to protect themselves. Since the disclosures began in 2013, the number of websites moving to HTTPS to encrypt traffic has skyrocketed. (This includes Wikipedia and US federal government websites.) Popular messaging apps like WhatsApp have adopted end-to-end encryption [..]
And still there’s talk of recovery. And people who believe it, too.
Three out of four Greeks aged between 15 and 24 were still living at home in 2014, according to a report by the OECD made public this month. The annual report, called “Society at a Glance,” found that southern European countries hardest hit by the debt crisis had the highest rates of young people remaining with their parents. Greece came second in the list of 35 OECD member states, after Italy, with 76% of young people reporting that they still lived at home. Italy and Greece were followed by Slovakia, Portugal and Spain, while northern European countries, namely Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, had the lowest rates of young people remaining at home. Greece continues to have the highest rate of youth unemployment in the eurozone with more than half of young Greeks jobless and often obliged to live at home.
Meanwhile, where human rights go to drown….
Rescuers pulled 2,400 boat migrants to safety on Saturday, the Italian coastguard said, adding 14 dead bodies had been recovered in the past two days. The migrants were on rubber boats and other small vessels, it said in a statement. Some 20 operations were carried out on Saturday alone, including rescues involving an Irish naval ship and boats from humanitarian groups Doctors Without Borders and Sea Watch. Doctors Without Borders said in a tweet on Saturday it believed 12 people had died during rescue operations, four of them children. More than 3,100 migrants have gone missing or died this year while trying to use the route from north Africa to Europe by boat, the International Organization for Migration estimates.