Ray K. Metzker Marseille 1961
Einstein: “What I most admire about your art, is your universality. You don’t say a word, yet the world understands you!”
Chaplin: “True. But your glory is even greater! The whole world admires you, even though they don’t understand a word of what you say.”
My @GOPoversight investigation into the Biden family's influence peddling operation is heating up.
We now have financial records showing Biden family members receiving money from CCP connected individuals.
— Rep. James Comer (@RepJamesComer) March 14, 2023
Ditto for 90s.
Stone Putin Trump
China warns, guardrails are coming off
"If the U.S. does not hit the brake but continue to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing and there will surely be conflict and confrontation”
-> China for the first time aggressively pushed back of the US … the situation is escalating
— Lord Bebo (@MyLordBebo) March 14, 2023
Lindsey Graham warns, "We're gonna have World War III." Congressman Mike Waltz adds Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, Venezuela are "all on the march"
This isn't run-of-the-mill crazy talk, this is something next level. They're really trying to will a World War into existence pic.twitter.com/XsAfQrh6X7
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) March 15, 2023
Former US natsec advisor Robert O'Brien calls on the US to destroy Taiwan semiconductor factories if China invades
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) March 14, 2023
Where it was flying, towards Russia, with its transponder turned off. Completely ormal.
US drones are collecting reconnaissance data to be used by the Kiev forces for their future strikes on the Russian territory and Russian troops, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov has said. “The unacceptable actions of the United States military in the close proximity to our borders are cause for concern. We are well aware of the missions such reconnaissance and strike drones are used for,” the ambassador was quoted as saying in a communique, issued in connection with Tuesday’s US MQ-9 Reaper drone’s crash in the Black Sea.
The Russian diplomat quoted US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby as saying that US UAVs make these kinds of overflights on a daily basis. “What do they do thousands of miles away from the United States? The answer is obvious – they gather intelligence which is later used by the Kiev regime to attack our armed forces and territory,” Antonov said. “We proceed from the fact that the United States will refrain from further speculations in the media landscape and stop making sorties near the Russian borders,” he added.
Too late to wake up.
The détente between Saudi Arabia and Iran—with China playing a facilitating role—is not as momentous as Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, Anwar Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem in 1977, or the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Even so, if the agreement sticks, it’s a pretty big deal. Most importantly, it is a wake-up call for the Biden administration and the rest of the United States’ foreign-policy establishment, because it exposes the self-imposed handicaps that have long crippled U.S. Middle East policy. It also highlights how China is attempting to present itself as a force for peace in the world, a mantle that the United States has largely abandoned in recent years.
How did China pull this off? Efforts to lower the temperature between Riyadh and Tehran had been underway for some time, but China could step in and help the two parties reach agreement because its dramatic economic rise has given it a growing role in the Middle East. More importantly, China could mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia because it has cordial, business-like ties with a majority of countries in the region. China has diplomatic relations and does business with all sides: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Gulf States, even Bashar al-Assad in Syria. That’s how a great power maximizes its leverage: You make it clear that you’re willing to work with others if they are willing to work with you, and your ties with others remind them that you have other options, too.
The United States, by contrast, has “special relationships” with some countries in the Middle East and no relationship at all with others, most notably Iran. The result is that client states such as Egypt, Israel, or Saudi Arabia take U.S. support for granted and treat its concerns with ill-disguised contempt, whether the issue is human rights in Egypt, the Saudi war in Yemen, or Israel’s long and brutal campaign to colonize the West Bank. At the same time, our mostly futile efforts to isolate and topple the Islamic Republic have left Washington with essentially zero capacity to shape Iran’s perceptions, actions, or diplomatic trajectory. This policy—a product of the assiduous efforts of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, etc., and well-funded Arab government lobbying efforts—may be the clearest example of an own goal in contemporary U.S. diplomacy.
By demonstrating that Washington can’t do much to advance peace or justice in the region, it has left the field wide open for Beijing. The Saudi-Iranian deal also highlights an important dimension of the emerging Sino-American rivalry: Will Washington or Beijing be seen by others as the best guide to a future world order? Given the United States’ outsized global role since 1945, Americans have become accustomed to assuming that most states will follow our lead, even when they have reservations about what we are doing. China would like to alter that equation, and portraying itself as a more likely source of peace and stability is a key part of that effort.
“..the geoeconomics of multipolarity..”
The headquarters of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) in Moscow, linked to the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) is arguably one of the most crucial nodes of the emerging multipolar world. That’s where I was received by Minister of Integration and Macroeconomics Sergey Glazyev – who was previously interviewed in detail by The Cradle – for an exclusive, expanded discussion on the geoeconomics of multipolarity. Glazyev was joined by his top economic advisor Dmitry Mityaev, who is also the secretary of the Eurasian Economic Commission’s (EEC) science and technology council. The EAEU and EEC are formed by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia. The group is currently engaged in establishing a series of free trade agreements with nations from West Asia to Southeast Asia.
Our conversation was unscripted, free flowing and straight to the point. I had initially proposed some talking points revolving around discussions between the EAEU and China on designing a new gold/commodities-based currency bypassing the US dollar, and how it would be realistically possible to have the EAEU, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and BRICS+ to adopt the same currency design. Glazyev and Mityaev were completely frank and also asked questions on the Global South. As much as extremely sensitive political issues should remain off the record, what they said about the road towards multipolarity was quite sobering – in fact realpolitik-based.
Glazyev stressed that the EEC cannot ask for member states to adopt specific economic policies. There are indeed serious proposals on the design of a new currency, but the ultimate decision rests on the leaders of the five permanent members. That implies political will – ultimately to be engineered by Russia, which is responsible for over 80 percent of EAEU trade. It’s quite possible that a renewed impetus may come after the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow on March 21, where he will hold in-depth strategic talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Depleted. ‘I’m afraid of the sound of the shot,’” he added.
A senior Ukrainian government official told The Washington Post that Kyiv doesn’t have the resources to pull off a big counteroffensive in the coming months as Ukraine is lacking skilled troops, munitions, and other equipment. “If you have more resources, you more actively attack,” said the official, who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity. “If you have fewer resources, you defend more. We’re going to defend. That’s why if you ask me personally, I don’t believe in a big counteroffensive for us. I’d like to believe in it, but I’m looking at the resources and asking, ‘With what?’ Maybe we’ll have some localized breakthroughs.” The official said Ukraine doesn’t have “the people or weapons” to pull off a counteroffensive. “And you know the ratio: When you’re on the offensive, you lose twice or three times as many people. We can’t afford to lose that many people,” the official said.
The Post also spoke with a Ukrainian battalion commander who went by the name of Kupol and detailed the grim situation on the frontlines. Kupol said his battalion previously withdrew from the town of Soledar, which is near the eastern city of Bakhmut, and came under Russian control in January. Kupol said of his battalion of 500 troops, 100 were killed, and about 400 were wounded, leading to a complete turnover. He’s now being sent soldiers with no combat experience and very little training. “I get 100 new soldiers,” Kupol said. “They don’t give me any time to prepare them. They say, ‘Take them into the battle.’ They just drop everything and run. That’s it.” “Do you understand why? Because the soldier doesn’t shoot. I ask him why, and he says, ‘I’m afraid of the sound of the shot,’” he added.
The Post report said that Ukraine has sent in an influx of draftees to replace more experienced soldiers who have been killed or wounded. It said that as more Ukrainian men who didn’t volunteer fear they will get called to battle, Ukraine’s security services shut down Telegram accounts that were helping Ukrainians avoid locations where authorities were handing out draft slips. Kupol said Ukrainian forces are also fighting with very little ammunition. “You’re on the front line,” he said. “They’re coming toward you, and there’s nothing to shoot with.” The Kyiv Independent also recently spoke with Ukrainian soldiers who said they were fighting without much ammunition, training, and support.
Ukraine is taking heavy losses in its battle defending Bakhmut, but it’s keeping a tight lid on its casualty numbers. A German official said including dead and wounded, Ukraine has suffered 120,000 troops, but the number could be much higher. Despite the dire conditions for the Ukrainian troops, Kyiv is still sending untrained soldiers into what has become known as the “meat grinder” in Bakhmut. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner Group, said Sunday that Ukraine was “supplying endless reserves” and that fighting was getting fiercer as Russian forces are trying to push through to the western part of the city.
"Zone of Redemption"
The first documentary film about former prisoners who liberate Artyomovsk (Bakhmut) as part of assault squads of Wagner PMC. pic.twitter.com/qnYGbk6oqo
— ZOKA (@200_zoka) March 13, 2023
From a friend of the channel, showing the progress of the battle of Artemovsk since August 2022. You can see what a difference the breakthrough at Soledar made. pic.twitter.com/gXkm2xhBMg
— Donbass Devushka (@PeImeniPusha) March 14, 2023
“.. the fundamental foundations of Russia’s stability are now “much stronger than anyone could previously imagine.”
The Russian economy hasn’t collapsed due to sweeping Western restrictions, President Vladimir Putin has stated, noting that, on the contrary, its sovereignty has grown many times over. Putin, who was meeting with aircraft factory employees in Ulan-Ude, Buryatia, on Tuesday, noted the country had passed a very important stage in its development, which could be the most important result of 2022. “We have exponentially increased our economic sovereignty. After all, what did our adversary count on? That we would collapse in two or three weeks or in a month,” the Russian leader said.
“The expectation was that enterprises would cease due to our partners refusing to work with us, the financial system would collapse, tens of thousands of people would be left without work, take to the streets, protest, Russia would be shaken from the inside and collapse. That was their intention, but this did not happen,” Putin declared. He pointed out that the Russian financial system has survived, growing stronger and becoming more independent, thanks to the actions of the central bank. Putin also indicated that the unemployment rate in the country was currently at a historically low level of 3.6%, while GDP has fallen by only 1.2%. According to the Russian president, the fundamental foundations of Russia’s stability are now “much stronger than anyone could previously imagine.”
More from Putin’s meeting with aircraft factory employees in Ulan-Ude, Buryatia.
Modern international problems began after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin said while answering a question of one of the employees of the Ulan-Ude aircraft-building plant during a visit to the enterprise on Tuesday. “Of course, all the problems began after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Why? Because the then world order – in a sense it still exists today – was built after World War II by the countries that won that war. First of all, the United States and the Soviet Union,” Putin said. He recalled that the states then “distributed the zones of their influence among themselves and did not interfere with each other.” “Of course, there were enough problems, including the Caribbean crisis, but nevertheless [the USSR and the US] coexisted,” he said.
Putin stressed that the system of the bipolar world “began to crumble down” after the collapse of the USSR, when geopolitical interests turned out to be more important for the West than confrontation with the Soviet Union. “Frankly speaking, it seemed to the people of my generation, including myself, and even a little bit younger ones, that yes, it was regrettable that the Soviet Union collapsed, but nevertheless, the basis for confrontation between the former Soviet Union and modern Russia and the Western world was gone, that that basis disappeared and there were no ideological foundations for confrontation anymore,” Putin said. “It seemed that now everything would be fine forever. It turned out that this was not so. It turned out that the geopolitical interests of our <…> partners were much more important than, among other things, contradictions with the former Soviet Union,” he added.
“For us, this is a struggle for our people who live on these territories,” the president stressed. “We are a multi-ethnic country. But still, this is the Russian world..”
“For us, it is a struggle for the existence of Russian statehood..”
Russia cannot abandon the Russian-speaking population and it is fighting for the Russian world in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday, while answering a question from one of the employees of the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant. “For us, this is a struggle for our people who live on these territories,” the president stressed. “We are a multi-ethnic country. But still, this is the Russian world. If you chance to have a word with the people who come from there – I’ve met some of them – they are no different from you and me! They are the same as we are. They are part of us, how can they be abandoned?” Putin added. He stressed that Russia had spent eight years trying to solve the Donbass issue peacefully, but was repeatedly fooled. “We spent eight years trying to persuade our so-called partners to resolve the Donbass issue peacefully. It has now turned out that they fooled, deceived us. They aren’t shy to say it publicly,” Putin stated.
He stressed that Russia, unlike the West, was fighting not for its geopolitical position, but for the existence of its statehood. “Whereas for our Western partners, so-called, for our opponents today – we can now say this directly – the point at issue is an improvement of the geopolitical position, then for us, bearing in mind the prehistory of the last eight to ten years, everything that is happening now is not just an improvement of some geopolitical position. <…> For us, it is a struggle for the existence of Russian statehood,” Putin said. Putin stressed that the enemy’s sole task was to shake loose the Russian state and “to tear it apart.” “For us this is not a geopolitical task, but the task of the ensuring the survival of Russian statehood and of creating conditions for the future development of our country and our children,” he concluded.
“..after 2014 the physical extermination of those who advocated the development of normal relations with Russia began.”
Russia had been patiently trying to normalize situation with Ukraine for decades but the situation changed after the state coup in 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday. “As a matter of fact, we had been patiently trying to normalize relations with the modern Ukrainian state for decades,” he said at a meeting with workers of the Ulan-Ude aircraft-building plant. “The situation changed dramatically in 2014 when the West-instigate state coup was staged.” According to Putin, in its relations with Ukraine, Russia relied on those who considered themselves as part of the large Russian world, but in 2014 their extermination began.
“We relied not just on the Russian-speaking population [in Ukraine]. The whole country there is essentially Russian-speaking. We relied on those who considered themselves as part of the large Russian world, part of our culture, part of our language environment and part of our common traditions. We relied on these people,” Putin said. He stressed that “after 2014 the physical extermination of those who advocated the development of normal relations with Russia began.” The president recalled that when the problem of Crimea emerged, Russia simply could not but support those people.
“Simply put — no decompression chamber, no dive, no story.”
The same day the German reporting on the new Nord Stream attack narrative broke, The New York Times ran a front-page story entitled “Intelligence Suggests Pro-Ukrainian Group Sabotaged Pipelines, US Officials Say.” For the first time, The New York Times referred to Hersh’s reporting, writing, “Last month, the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published an article on the newsletter platform Substack concluding that the United States carried out the operation at the direction of Mr. Biden,” before closing with “U.S. officials say Mr. Biden and his top aides did not authorize a mission to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines, and they say there was no U.S. involvement.” As if echoing the Biden White House denials, The New York Times led off with this:
“New intelligence reporting amounts to the first significant known lead about who was responsible for the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines that carried natural gas from Russia to Europe”. The New York Times, it seems, was more than happy about proceeding with its own anonymous intelligence sources, while dismissing Hersh’s. The problem with both the German reporting and that of The New York Times (whose source was clearly referring to the same data reported by the German reporters) is that the Andromeda narrative doesn’t hold water. Take, for instance, the Tom Clancy-like tale of derring-do that has four allegedly Ukraine-affiliated divers defy physiology by conducting dives that would require the use of a decompression chamber for them to survive an ascent of 240 feet (the depth of the Nord Stream pipelines that were destroyed).
A rule of thumb is that decompression takes approximately one day per 100 feet of seawater plus a day. This means that the team of divers would have required three days of decompression per dive. But to decompress, one needs a decompression chamber. For a dive involving two divers, the Andromeda would have to have been outfitted with either a two-person Class A decompression chamber, or two single-person Class B chambers, as well as the number of large oxygen bottles needed to operate these chambers over time. A simple examination of the interior cabin space of the Bavarian C50 yacht would quickly dispossess one of any notion that either option was viable. Simply put — no decompression chamber, no dive, no story.
[..] a standard high-explosive charge of several hundred kilograms would not be sufficient to cause the destruction that occurred on the Nord Stream pipeline. Enter Hersh, who reported that the explosives used were “shaped charges.” With a shaped charge, the energy of the explosion is focused in one direction, usually by creating a concave shape in the explosive that is them lined with a metal sheet, so that it usually achieves an armor- and/or concrete-penetrating effect. Without getting too technical, the design of an underwater shaped charge that would be sufficient to penetrate concrete-lined steel pipe at a depth of 240 feet is not common knowledge. The charge would have to be prepared by qualified explosives experts and ideally tested prior to being employed operationally to validate the design and functionality of the device. These are not tasks undertaken by a small ad hoc team of Ukrainian underwater saboteurs, but rather state-sponsored actors with access to military grade explosives and testing facilities.
“An explosion of this kind – of such power, at such depth, can only be carried out by specialists, and supported by the entire power of a state, possessing certain technologies…”
Only a state-level actor could have pulled off such a large-scale sabotage operation, the Russian president said. Russian president Vladimir Putin has dismissed as “nonsense” recent claims that the attack on the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines might have been carried by “Ukrainian activists.” The president made the remarks on Tuesday during his visit to an aircraft plant in the capital city of Russia’s Buryatia republic, Ulan-Ude. “I’m sure this is complete nonsense. An explosion of this kind – of such power, at such depth, can only be carried out by specialists, and supported by the entire power of a state, possessing certain technologies,” Putin told reporters.
Deaf, dumb and blind.
Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly admitted that the long term goal of western involvement in Ukraine is not merely to see Moscow defeated, but to enact “regime change” in Russia. Joly made the comments while her government announced new sanctions against the import of Russian aluminum and steel. “We’re able to see how much we’re isolating the Russian regime right now — because we need to do so economically, politically and diplomatically — and what are the impacts also on society, and how much we’re seeing potential regime change in Russia,” Joly stated. “The goal is definitely to do that, is to weaken Russia’s ability to launch very difficult attacks against Ukraine. We want also to make sure that Putin and his enablers are held to account,” she added.
Russian ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov reacted to Joly’s remarks by stating that they may have been a “Freudian slip of the tongue.” “What she or other decision-makers in Ottawa don’t want to recognize is that the current Russian policy is supported by the ultimate majority of the nation,” Stepanov said. A similar awkward ‘slip of the tongue’ occurred back in January when Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock acknowledged, “We are fighting a war against Russia, and not against each other.” Joly’s comments will only serve to bolster Vladimir Putin’s assertions that NATO support for Ukraine is about isolating Russia and eventually overthrowing its government. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky recently warned that if Ukraine loses then Americans “will have to send their sons and daughters” to war with Russia over the Baltic states “and they will have to fight” and “they will be dying.”
Former UK Defense Minister Sir Gerald Howarth also said last month that NATO may need to send ground forces to Ukraine. The US military-industrial complex is making massive gains as a result of the war in Ukraine and other global conflicts, with weapons manufacturers enjoying soaring profits. Data released by the State Department shows that US weapons sales to other countries rose from $103.4 billion in 2021 to $153.7 billion in 2022.
“The Biden administration are the ones who got us into this mess.”
Becoming increasingly involved in the military confrontation between Ukraine and Russia is not a key interest for the US, Florida’s Republican governor Ron Desantis wrote in response to a question posed by Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday. Carlson asked several “2024 GOP hopefuls” whether opposing Russia in Ukraine was a “vital strategic interest” for the US and shared DeSantis’ response on Twitter. The governor stated that the US had many “vital national interests,” such as securing its borders, addressing the recruitment crisis within the US military, achieving energy security and independence, and “checking the economic, cultural, and military power of the Chinese Communist Party.” However, becoming “further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis noted.
He added that the Biden administration’s policy of issuing virtual “blank checks” to Ukraine in order to fund the conflict for “as long as it takes,” without any defined objectives or accountability, only serves to distract from the most pressing challenges currently facing the US. The governor also blasted Washington for effectively driving Russia closer to China, which he believes represents a much greater threat than Moscow. DeSantis, who many expect to contend for the US presidency in the 2024 elections, has set himself apart from other top Republican leaders with his stance on Ukraine. Responding to the same question, former vice president Mike Pence insisted that “there is no room for Putin apologists in the Republican Party” and that Putin must be stopped to prevent Russia from moving toward Washington’s NATO allies.
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell has also pledged the Republican party’s commitment to the Ukrainian war effort. In his response to Carlson’s question, former president Donald Trump insisted that the conflict, which he believes would have never happened if he’d been in office, must end as soon as possible and that the US president must meet with both sides and quickly work out a deal. He also stated that while opposing Russia in Ukraine is not a vital American national strategic interest for the US, it is important for Europe. “That is why Europe should be paying far more than we are, or equal,” Trump said. Asked if the US should support regime change in Russia, the former president stated that he did not, and instead called for regime change in the United States itself. “That’s far more important,” he wrote. “The Biden administration are the ones who got us into this mess.”
“..the Biden Admin had a whitelist of companies that were allowed to buy the failed bank & companies that weren’t.”
“..any pursuit of new QE in the face of a credit crunch would lead to an immediate spike in inflation once again, crushing the middle class..”
What Democrats do not seem to understand is that the easing of Dodd-Frank capital requirements was in direct response to the Federal Reserve’s announced plan to tighten liquidity and raise interest rates through 2018. With more expensive credit and a shrinking Fed balance sheet, reducing requirements for bank buffers was one of the few ways to prevent the stimulus addicted lending sector from plummeting. The extra capital also allowed banks to continue lending to companies that engage in stock buybacks, keeping stock markets afloat. With a larger capital buffer even more liquidity dries up, revealing the true economic weakness underneath that Dems have denied for the past few years. So, if Biden and the Dems get what they want (more strict capital requirements for banks), then there will be an even swifter collapse of markets and the overall economy due to lack of liquidity.
By the end of 2018, markets began to plunge anyway under the strain of higher interest rates, which led to the Fed reversing course, and this seems to be what Democrats are really hoping for. They have called for endless liquidity measures and have consistently demanded lower rates and looser monetary policy. However, when Donald Trump’s Administration called for rate cuts during his term, Dems attacked. Once again, when Republicans do it, it’s wrong; when they do it, it’s good policy. Another issue to consider is that each successive program by the Fed to employ bailouts and QE accelerates the inflation crisis. While both sides of the aisle seem to want helicopter money when they are in power so they can boast about rising stock markets and improved employment, the Dems are now facing a systemic stagflationary event; the same event they originally claimed did not exist.
This means that any pursuit of new QE in the face of a credit crunch would lead to an immediate spike in inflation once again, crushing the middle class. Are Democrats willing to accept responsibility for something like that? Not a chance. The Biden Administration has so far taken full credit for the slowdown of consumer inflation as well as the shrinking deficit, but these changes are only due to the tightening actions of the central bank which sets policy independent of the White House. Democrats can’t have it both ways – They can’t take credit for reduced inflation when the Fed tightens policy against their wishes, and then not take credit for the consequences of higher inflation when they badger the Fed to inject more stimulus. The only recourse for the political left is to somehow lay the blame on conservatives no matter which way the wind blows, inflation or deflation.
Emergency congressional hearings have been organized to determine the cause of the SVB crisis and the course of action needed. Democrats including Sen. Sharrod Brown and Rep. Maxine Waters were quick to applaud the backstop initiated by the Fed and the Treasury Department, attempting to calm market concerns and reassure investors and depositors that all is well. Maxine Waters stated that Republicans and Democrats needed to “work together to protect the safety of the financial system”, which is likely a thinly veiled assertion that Republicans must support raising the debt ceiling and commit to even more spending.
Tucker Carlson on SVB collapse:
"We're about to see bank consolidation, which means more government control. It will mean digital currency. A currency politicians control. You think that's not coming? Of course it's coming." pic.twitter.com/6t1JOVaL87
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) March 14, 2023
It’s already broken.
In contrast to billionaire Bill Ackman’s praise for the federal government’s bailout of SVB depositors, Citadel founder Bill Griffin is not impressed, telling The FT that this action by US regulators shows American capitalism is “breaking down before our eyes”. As a reminder, the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund normally guarantees up to $250,000 in deposits, which protects small retail customers including mom-and-pop businesses. Banks pay for this guarantee with insurance premiums, but the insurance fund isn’t intended to backstop deposits of bigger customers with more capacity to weather losses if a bank goes under. Yet, as The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board remarks, after venture capitalists (Democratic donors) and Silicon Valley politicians howled, the FDIC on Sunday announced it would cover uninsured deposits at SVB and Signature Bank under its “systemic risk” exception.
Apparently, Silicon Valley investors and startups are too big to lose money when they take risks. They benefited enormously from the Fed’s pandemic liquidity hose, which caused SVB’s deposits to double between 2020 and 2021. SVB paid interest of up to 5.28% on large deposits, which it used to fund loans to startups. But now the FDIC is guaranteeing a risk-free return for startups and their investors. Uninsured deposits normally take a 10% to 15% hair cut during a bank failure. Some 85% to 90% of SVB’s $173 billion in deposits are uninsured. The cost of this guarantee could be $15 billion. The White House says special assessments will be levied on banks to recoup these losses.
That means bank customers with less than $250,000 in deposits will indirectly pay for this through higher bank fees. In other words, this is an income transfer from average Americans to deep-pocketed investors. Griffin warned a year ago that price pressures will remain stubbornly persistent, forcing policymakers to need to hit the brakes “hard”, which will likely cause a recession, which, he warned, will leave the West facing “existential” problems. A year later, he was proved right as The Fed’s aggressive rate-hikes “broke something”… “The US is supposed to be a capitalist economy, and that’s breaking down before our eyes,” he said in an interview on Monday. “There’s been a loss of financial discipline with the government bailing out depositors in full,” Griffin added.
Now do we fire Ursula?
Pfizer has offered to extend its Covid-19 vaccine contract with the European Union while scaling back deliveries, but still expects the bloc to pay billions of euros for unused doses amid a major supply glut in some countries, the Financial Times reported. The offer prompted outrage from a handful of member states, who say the deal would serve the interests of Big Pharma over their own citizens. The contract extension would push the vaccine agreement out to 2026, with a proposed 40% reduction in the number of doses supplied as well as delays to deliveries, the Times reported on Tuesday, citing two unnamed officials. However, despite the suggested cuts, the US pharma giant still insists that it be paid for the full number of doses originally agreed upon, many of which would never be produced under the new terms.
The amendments to the deal – the full text of which has never been made public – were presented by European health commissioner Stella Kyriakides during a closed-door meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, but faced objections from some EU members. In a joint statement issued following the meeting, officials from Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania and Poland said they would not sign the agreement with the proposed changes, as they “do not present a final and fair solution to the problems of the Covid-19 vaccine surplus and do not meet the needs of the healthcare systems, the needs of citizens and the financial interests of the member states.”
Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski argued that the current Pfizer proposal would favor Big Pharma, and has called for the secretive contract to be published, questioning the role European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen played in the negotiations for the massive vaccine deal. An EU watchdog launched a probe into the negotiation and procurement process late last year, after von der Leyen’s office failed to produce personal text messages sent to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla during the talks for nearly 2 billion vaccine doses, prompting accusations of corruption.
The 27-member bloc originally signed a joint contract with Pfizer in 2020, but since the pandemic receded, demand for vaccines has steadily dropped, leaving an overabundance across the continent. Some countries have been forced to throw away vaccines, with Germany alone tossing out some 36.6 million doses, according to public broadcaster BR24, while others are sitting on large stocks of unused shots, such as Austria, which has reported around 17.5 million in its supply. However, Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Valek pushed back on the criticisms, arguing that the “majority of countries” had agreed to the deal and that “the contract is not bad.” He added that the large stock of doses would not pose a problem as “Covid is still here” and “It will be necessary to repeat vaccination each year for a particular group of patients.”
Wall Street 1662
“Watercolor painter Liu Yunsheng’s artworks are famous for their fluidity and transparency, as well as for the richness and complexity of their characters. Some paintings combine reality & illusion which can be described as freehand in realism”
The nocturnal African dung beetle Scarabaeus satyrus is the only known insect and one of the few non-human animals capable of navigating and orienting itself using the Milky Way
This waterfall is located outside the Peruvian city of Cajamarca and resembles the shape of a woman wearing a bridal dress: it's called La Cascada de la Novia
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) March 14, 2023
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