Sep 062021
 


Henri Matisse Landscape with a bench 1918

 

Arctic Has Enough Reserves To Supply Russia For Centuries – Russian Official (RT)
Children Can Get Covid Vaccine Even If Parents Are Opposed, UK Minister (RT)
GP’s To Be Paid £10 More For Every Child They Inject With A Covid Vaccine (DE)
Potential Jurors In Theranos Trial Sent Home For Being Unvaccinated (JTN)
Ivermectin: A Multifaceted Drug Of Nobel Prize-honoured Distinction (NIH)
Denmark Overtakes Sweden As The Restriction-free Nordic Nation (Unherd)
About The Rolling Stone Invermectin Article (Holden)
COVID Vaccines Have Killed Over 200,000 Americans (Kirsch)
The #$%! Captured Medical Journals (Kory)
Desperate Money Printing Leads to Depression – Dr. Marc Faber (USAW)

 

 

Another good morning from Athens.

 

 

The last surviving mantra was: but they DO keep your from getting severely ill! That’s gone too…

 

 

 

 

There goes your climate.

Arctic Has Enough Reserves To Supply Russia For Centuries – Russian Official (RT)

Russia will step up development of oil and gas reserves in the Arctic, which are sufficient to last the country centuries, according to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak. “The potential of the Arctic zone is huge. Speaking about offshore resources only, those are 15 billion tons of oil and around 100 trillion cubic meters of gas. That will suffice for decades, hundreds of years if they are required and it is economically reasonable,” Novak said during the educational marathon ‘New Knowledge’ earlier this week, as cited by TASS. These resources are too costly to extract so far, but Novak says the government is optimistic and has already taken steps to develop the means for it.


“Those are rather expensive projects, which require provision, certain subsidies, including on taxes, return on investment. The government has provided such incentives for projects like that. Certain taxes have been slashed to zero for offshore projects,” Novak stated, noting, however, that Russia will only dip into its Arctic resources in the case that other regions fail to provide them. At the Eastern Economic Forum that took place in Russia’s Vladivostok this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the country bears a “huge responsibility” to have a “prudent” attitude toward natural resources of the Arctic. “For Russia, this is of tremendous importance – the development of the region… The Arctic accounts for 18% of our territory and [its] reserves of raw materials are necessary not only to our country, but to the whole world,” the head of state said at the plenary session of the EEF. “In this sense, we have a huge responsibility to treat this wealth prudently and thoughtfully,” Putin stressed.

Read more …

Too many people fail to see how crazy this is, on multiple fronts.

Children Can Get Covid Vaccine Even If Parents Are Opposed, UK Minister (RT)

Asked by Times Radio’s Tom Newton Dunn what would happen if a teenager’s parents said no to vaccination but the teenager said yes, UK vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said they would still be able to get jabbed without permission. Claiming that the NHS “is really well-practiced in this because they’ve been doing school immunisation programmes for a very long time,” Zahawi told Newton Dunn on Sunday said that “what you essentially do is make sure that the clinicians discuss this with the parents, with the teenager, and if they are then deemed to be able to make a decision that is competent, then that decision will go in the favour of what the teenager decides to do.”

Newton Dunn questioned, “So to be clear, the teenager can override the lack of parental consent? If a teenager really wants a jab and is only 15, the parents say no, the teenager can have it?” to which Zahawi responded, “They’d need to be competent to make that decision, with all of the information available.” Bizarrely, on the same day, Zahawi told Sky News that children would require parental consent to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Asked by Sky News’ Trevor Phillips whether he could “assure parents that if there is a decision to vaccinate 12 to 15-year-olds, it will require parental consent,” Zahawi declared, “I can give that assurance, absolutely.”


Despite the fact that the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) refused to recommend on Friday that healthy children between the ages of 12 and 15 be vaccinated against Covid-19, given they are considered extremely low risk, the government is still pushing for vaccination – with The Times newspaper reporting that child vaccination could occur as early as next week. JCVI’s deputy chairman, Professor Anthony Harnden, noted on Saturday that “the health benefits from vaccinating well 12- to 15-year-olds” are only “marginally greater than the risks,” and said that any decision should ultimately require “parents’ consent.”

Read more …

Hold my beer. They found a way to make it even crazier. Every child is now a walking tenner.

GP’s To Be Paid £10 More For Every Child They Inject With A Covid Vaccine (DE)

The Pfizer mRNA Covid-19 injection is now being given to children over the age of 12 who are classed as vulnerable or live with others classed as vulnerable, and a Daily Expose Investigation can reveal that all GP’s are to be paid £22.58 for every dose given to a child as an incentive, the search engine Google is trying to hide it, and the NHS is advising vaccinators that parental consent is not required. On the 3rd September 2021 the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced they were not recommending the Pfizer Covid-19 injection be offered to all children over the age of 12. However, they did announce that even more children would be eligible by extending the list of underlying conditions that put children into the vulnerable category.

Of course there was cause for celebration with the announcement that an experimental injection would not be given to the children of the United Kingdom, but the celebrations were short lived because instead of flat our refusing to recommend the jab the JCVI instead passed the buck to the four Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO’s) of the United Kingdom, meaning the fate of the nations children now lies firmly in the hands of Professor Chris Whitty and his colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Government also sent a letter the four CMO’s upon the JCVI’s announcement instructing them to review the JCVI’s decision with immediate effect, showing how desperate they really are to give an experimental injection that does not prevent infection or transmission to children.


So desperate in fact that the Health Secretary Sajid Javid has already instructed the NHS to prepare for vaccinating children. One has to question why they are so desperate when the latest Public Health data shows that 75% of Covid-19 deaths in the summer third wave consist of people who were vaccinated, and shows that the jabs seem to be increasing the risk of hospitalisation and death significantly, rather than reducing it by the claimed 95%.

Read more …

“‘If you excuse those (unvaccinated) people, you no longer have a representative jury..’

Potential Jurors In Theranos Trial Sent Home For Being Unvaccinated (JTN)

A federal judge sent potential jurors home who weren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 during the jury selection process for the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the medical science company, Theranos. U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, an Obama-appointed judge, sent home nine potential jurors in the California fraud case being tried in the Northern District of California. The judge said his aim was to keep jurors and their families healthy. In this case, both the prosecution and defense supported the decision, meaning it apparently won’t be grounds for appeal by either side. “While choosing an all-vaccinated jury may be within a court’s power to safeguard jurors,” according to Reuters, “critics say it could reduce the fairness of trials.”


“‘If you excuse those (unvaccinated) people, you no longer have a representative jury,’ said Christina Marinakis, a jury consultant with litigation consulting company IMS.” Holmes is charged with wire fraud and conspiracy. She and her co-defendant and former lover, Ramesh Balwani, are accused, according to The Epoch Times, of “perpetrating a scheme that defrauded investors of millions of dollars as they claimed Theranos’s blood testing laboratory services were revolutionary and readily available despite knowing Theranos could not consistently produce accurate and reliable results for some blood tests.” The next court date is slated for Sept. 8. in San Jose.

Read more …

The Peru data look strong. McCullough is one of the authors.

Malone tweet: “This says it all: “During mass IVM treatments in Peru, excess deaths fell by a mean of 74% over 30 days in its ten states with the most extensive treatments. Reductions in deaths correlated with the extent of IVM distributions in all 25 states with p < 0.002.”

Ivermectin: A Multifaceted Drug Of Nobel Prize-honoured Distinction (NIH)

In 2015, the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, in its only award for treatments of infectious diseases since six decades prior, honoured the discovery of ivermectin (IVM), a multifaceted drug deployed against some of the world’s most devastating tropical diseases. Since March 2020, when IVM was first used against a new global scourge, COVID-19, more than 20 randomized clinical trials (RCTs) have tracked such inpatient and outpatient treatments. Six of seven meta-analyses of IVM treatment RCTs reporting in 2021 found notable reductions in COVID-19 fatalities, with a mean 31% relative risk of mortality vs. controls.


During mass IVM treatments in Peru, excess deaths fell by a mean of 74% over 30 days in its ten states with the most extensive treatments. Reductions in deaths correlated with the extent of IVM distributions in all 25 states with p < 0.002. Sharp reductions in morbidity using IVM were also observed in two animal models, of SARS-CoV-2 and a related betacoronavirus. The indicated biological mechanism of IVM, competitive binding with SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, is likely non-epitope specific, possibly yielding full efficacy against emerging viral mutant strains.


Read more …

“..the Danish government no longer considers Covid-19 a ‘critical threat to society.’”

Denmark Overtakes Sweden As The Restriction-free Nordic Nation (Unherd)

Denmark, a country whose approach earlier in the Covid pandemic was thought of as the opposite of Sweden, with early border restrictions and school closures, has now overtaken its neighbour as the most restriction-free country in Scandinavia. An article in today’s Svenska Dagbladet, a Swedish broadsheet, observes: “It seems like an upside-down world all of a sudden: that the Danes, who at the start of the pandemic gave Swedish travellers the cold shoulder on the Öresund bridge and told them to turn back because Swedish Covid restrictions were too mild, are now letting go of the reins altogether. “

Nightclubs in Denmark have been open since last week, and as of September 10th, guests will no longer need to show their “Coronapass” which serves as proof of vaccination or a recent negative test. Despite having higher case numbers than Sweden, all the remaining restrictions will be lifted — the Danish government no longer considers Covid-19 a ‘critical threat to society.’ Sweden is progressing more cautiously. The administration has set out a 5 stage plan for lifting restrictions, and stage 3 was passed on July 15th, including an end to the requirement to wear masks on public transport and an increase in permitted restaurant table sizes from 4 to 8.


Stage 4, including the removal of all restrictions on size of gatherings, was pencilled in for September but, as case numbers are gently rising in Sweden, the date has not yet been confirmed. Health officials have warned that it could be delayed further, with some restrictions lasting into next year.

Read more …

Twitter thread. Many eggs on many heads. But who notices anymore?

About The Rolling Stone Invermectin Article (Holden)

We’ve got to talk about the Rolling Stone invermectin article. Turns out the story about rural hospitals so flooded with ODs that they couldn’t treat other patients was made up, entirely invented. A lot of people took the bait, and I’ve got the screenshots.

Read more …

PDF slide show that lacks the voice-over he said he’s doing. Excess deaths investigation.

COVID Vaccines Have Killed Over 200,000 Americans (Kirsch)

Read more …

Twitter thread.

The #$%! Captured Medical Journals (Kory)

Now lets talk about the #$%! captured medical journals. High impact ones will ONLY publish studies that although they show benefit, don’t meet statistical significance. Then they write stuff like “this does not support the use of IVM in COVID” This randomized trial compares the effects of ivermectin vs placebo on time to symptom resolution within 21 days among patients with mild COVID-19. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2777389

Meanwhile, so much unprecedented crazy shit has happened in journals to positive studies of IVM and other repurporsed drugs it is INSANE. First, know that in the FLCCC’s over 100 year academic career (1500 papers), never has any been retracted after passing peer review.. Here we go:
1) Frontiers in pharmacology (funded by BMGF) retracted our paper… AFTER passing rigorous peer review
1a) They then retract other accepted repurposed drug papers.. editors quit en masse
2) Lancet Respiratory retracted Bryant meta-analysis..AFTER peer review
3) NEJM rejected Cadegiani’s proxalutamide paper…AFTER passing rigorous peer review & holding it for a month
4) Eli Schwartz, researcher from a top university in Israel, did a sophisticated double blind RCT showing faster viral clearance with IVM & cant get it published
5) Shouman’s RCT showing massive reductions in transmission within households treated with IVM.. reviewed then rejected by NEJM, Frontiers (again), and EMRO (the WHO’s prestigious journal) after holding for a long time – another “tactic”: delay, defer, deny


Another positive IVM prophylaxis trial held by JAMA for 2 months.. without sending out for peer review.. then returned with an apology. Delay defer deny. The high impact journals let you see the science Pharma wants you to see, not the science that is out there. Sad sad state.

Read more …

Haven’t seen him in a while. Like him best for riding his motorcycle all the way through Europe and to and through China.

Desperate Money Printing Leads to Depression – Dr. Marc Faber (USAW)

Legendary investor, economist and market forecaster Dr. Marc Faber thinks central banks (CB) are not going to cut back the money printing. Just the opposite. He predicts CBs are going to print even more money at a faster pace to hold the failing economic system together for a little while longer. Dr. Faber explains, “What is perceived to be safe, namely cash, isn’t safe anymore. It is unsafe. You ask me what is safe? I don’t know what is safe anymore when you have money printers who print money indefinitely. I don’t think they can stop. I actually think they have to accelerate their money printing. So, stocks may go up, but in real terms, it doesn’t mean your standard of living will go up. Maybe the standard of living of the 50 richest people in the world will go up, but not the standard of living of the typical American . . . or the average American. That standard of living will go down. . . . All the money printing is a desperate measure to keep the voters from rebellion.”

Dr. Farber predicts that not only are we going to see more asset inflation, but dramatic wage inflation too. Dr. Faber, who holds a PhD in economics, says, “What I think will happen, and most people have not really considered, we will get wage inflation. For the first time since the late 1970’s, we will get accelerating wage inflation, and in some cases, quite dramatic. In some states, the minimum wage is $15. I could see that going up to $30 per hour very quickly. I don’t think inflation is ‘transitory’ (as the Fed proclaims). We will not have stagflation. We will have something worse. We will have rising prices and a depression in the standard of living of most people.” Dr. Faber says the U.S. stock market is “overpriced and over-owned.” He likes stocks in foreign countries, real estate “far outside the cities” and physical gold, silver and some cash. Faber also likes some crypto currency in one’s portfolio.


Dr. Faber is less worried about the economic picture and more worried about the rise of socialism and communism in the western world. Faber contends socialism destroys economies and liberty. Faber points out, “I can tell you one feature of all the socialist countries I have visited in my life, and all of them had less freedom, less happiness than we have, and the standards of living were substantially, not a little bit, but substantially lower than they are in the free capitalistic world. . . . I am sorry to say that I think the western world has gone down a very dangerous path where essentially, through zero interest rates, everything is free. Then you get the unintended consequences.” So, with inflation going up and the standard of living going down in the West, is the possibility of war going up? Faber says, “Correct. I think once this Covid19 thing is over, the elite, the ones who make the money, will go to war. That is the last recipe to keep the population together.”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Engineering Inventions

 

 

I don’t want you here
https://twitter.com/i/status/1434350759047417856

 

 

 

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Aug 152021
 
 August 15, 2021  Posted by at 9:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  119 Responses »


Henri Matisse Luxury, calm and pleasure 1904

 

Taliban Launches Offensive On Kabul (Sp.)
Defining Away Vaccine Safety Signals (Crawford)
Covid-19 Injections Dangerous For Mothers and Babies (Yeadon)
Class Action Lawsuit Says Vaccine Has Killed 45,000 People (Rumble)
Children Born During Pandemic Have Lower IQs (G.)
Well, ****…. (Denninger)
French Study Claims ADE Occurring In Delta Variant Infections (TMN)
Denmark Abolishes All Corona Measures (FFN)
New Covid Variants ‘Will Set Us Back A Year’, Experts Warn UK Government (O.)
Booster Shots Will ‘Be Obligatory For Trips Abroad And Care Home Staff’ (DM)
The Teens Who’d Prefer To Catch Covid Than Have The Vaccine (DM)
I Wish To Take A Little Walk With You And Talk, Deliberately, About This (TLR)

 

 

233

 

 

China will recognize the Taliban. And then build a pipeline.

 

 

Crick

 

 

Killer T cells

 

 

“US intelligence agencies who said just 4 days ago that Kabul could fall in 90 days have revised the figure to 72 hours.”

Taliban Launches Offensive On Kabul (Sp.)

Biden short

The Taliban* has already taken control of all of Afghanistan’s border crossings, leaving the Kabul Airport as the only route out of the country. Taliban insurgents have launched an offensive on Kabul, having surrounded the Afghan capital, the country’s Interior Ministry announced on Sunday. According to the ministry, the terrorists are entering the capital from all sides. The Office of the President of Afghanistan has taken to Twitter to say that the country’s security and defence forces have the situation under control “in coordination with international partners”. The tweet added that gunfire was heard in several remote areas of Kabul. A source told Sputnik that the Taliban had already taken control of Kabul University and raised the group’s flag in one of the city’s districts.

The Associated Press has cited officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to release the information, as saying there hadn’t been any fighting yet. The insurgents are said to be in the districts of Kalakan, Qarabagh, and Paghman. Less than an hour ago, a member of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Matin Bek, urged people not to panic and claimed that the Afghan capital was safe. Shortly before the Taliban entered Kabul, the Torkham border crossing with Pakistan, the last post still under the Afghan government’s control, fell to the terrorist group. Thus, the insurgents now control all of Afghanistan’s border crossings. The insurgents took control of the key eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday, just hours after seizing the northern bastion of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The United States, meanwhile, is sending more troops to the encircled capital to help evacuate its civilians and diplomatic staff as the risk of a Taliban takeover of Kabul became more clear. Earlier this week, US intelligence assessed Kabul could be isolated within 30 days and fall to the Taliban within 90 days.

Read more …

It’s a neat little trick.

Defining Away Vaccine Safety Signals (Crawford)

We get to section 2.3, and this is where things get really crazy. This is where signals (for assessing safety/danger of the vaccines) get defined. Subsection 2.3.1 begins (emphasis mine), “CDC will perform PRR data mining on a weekly basis or as needed. PRRs compare the proportion of a specific AE following a specific vaccine versus the proportion of the same AE following receipt of another vaccine (see equation below Table 4). A safety signal is defined as a PRR of at least 2, chi-squared statistic of at least 4, and 3 or more cases of the AE following receipt of the specific vaccine of interest. ” Only a real dork would emphasize the word ‘and’, right? A logic dork, mind you, but we’ll get to that…

First, note that PRR is the proportional reporting ratio, and these PRR numbers are the outputs of a function defined by the CDC based on four variables (which they list in a table as capital letters, then apply in a function as lower-case letters, which always makes me a little uncomfortable as I rarely see such sloppy transition from definitions to application, and somehow they always seem to come from government documentation where I worry about ass covering and plausible deniability).

Look at the numerator of this formula. The variables a and b are specific to each vaccine. Now, consider what would happen if an extremely dangerous vaccine were introduced that resulted in 20 times as many AEs of all types as all the other vaccines to which it gets compared.

The PRR remains invariant in the scaling of adverse events!

This means that one vaccine that kills and cripples 20 or 50 or 1,000 times as much as a very safe vaccine will show the same PRR (mild adjustments for variables c and d notwithstanding), and no safety signal will be identified by the CDC. By design. In my circle of discussion, I’ve found out (to my dismay) that this definition of PRR has also been used for other vaccines. Just during the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, important safety signals have come and gone without notice, such as the MedDRA term “death” showed up as a signal in dispersion analysis in February, but no longer does due to the rising quantity of so many other AEs, which forces structural mean-reversion of the PPR function (toward 1) by inflating the denominator. In other words, the number of an AE, a, is normalized to the total number of adverse events (not the number vaccinated, or doses), the ratio of which is then normalized again to the aggregated totals (fraction c over c + d) from other vaccines.

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“..there isn’t an aware person who wouldn’t call a halt at this point.”

Covid-19 Injections Dangerous For Mothers and Babies (Yeadon)

The covid-19 vaccines currently subject to emergency use authorisations all share a common and novel feature: they are gene-based products. Instead of containing a small amount of killed or live-attenuated pathogen, they instead comprise genetic code, instructions as it were to manufacture in our own cells a part of the pathogen. In some products, the genetic code is of DNA & use a weakened respiratory virus to ensure delivery to our cells, or of messenger RNA (the intermediate between the DNA of our genes and the protein product thereby manufactured). There is a further commonality: they cause the recipients cells to manufacture a portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus called the spike protein. This is literally the spike projecting outwards from the spherical object that contains the virus itself.

As detailed elsewhere in this packet of information, coronavirus spike proteins are biologically active and they initiate the blood coagulation cascade among other properties. It is alleged that it is the induction of blood coagulation in various locations in the body which is responsible for a high proportion of the serious adverse events including deaths which are being reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in the USA and in analogous databases elsewhere. The rate of fatal outcomes following covid-19 vaccination, usually from clotting or bleeding disorders, is extraordinary and exceeds that from any previous vaccine by a very large amount, which this reviewer estimates is of the order of 60-fold.

That this astonishingly high rate of adverse events after vaccination is a consequence of two factors: 1. The manufacturers were simply not required to study the way the product moves around the body after injection and 2. They were not required to study the functional effects of the genetic code within the product after administration. There are no products on the mass market which operate in this way. It is my expert opinion that this is the greatest failure of medicinal product regulation in relation to reproductive health since thalidomide and is very much greater in terms of societal impact. It is imperative that all these products be suspended until improved safety testing can determine whether there are any groups in whom the benefits outweigh the risks.

[..] It is essential to lay out the backdrop to the current position with clinical use of covid-19 vaccines, for one reason: we have NEVER, since thalidomide, exposed women of childbearing potential (WOCBP) and ESPECIALLY NEVER pregnant women to ANY novel, experimental pharmaceutical product without that product first having completed a full battery of reproductive toxicology tests. Even after this crucial step, pilot studies are always conducted in a small number of pregnant women to minimise risk to the developing fetus. Neither of these essential steps have been undertaken.

[..] This new data, which shows that women do raise antibodies to a component of their placenta after vaccination with the Pfizer/BioTech product, raises serious concerns for fetal safety. It is not safe to assume that this will not have adverse consequences on successful pregnancy. It is not safe to assume that the other vaccines will not have similar effects. Again, as with the distributional study, a presumption of risk, potentially severe, arises from these clinical observations, and there isn’t an aware person who wouldn’t call a halt at this point.

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“There are effective treatments. It’s unnecessary to test asymptomatic people because the CDC says that they don’t spread the virus.”

Class Action Lawsuit Says Vaccine Has Killed 45,000 People (Rumble)

Michael Green has filed a class action lawsuit at first representing 1,200 first responders against the Governor & Mayor’s vaccine mandates with thousands more expected to join. Michael Green says that the vaccine is killing people all around the country. There are effective treatments. It’s unnecessary to test asymptomatic people because the CDC says that they don’t spread the virus. Honolulu Fire Captain Kaimi Pelekai gives an emotional testimony about losing his job because he doesn’t want to put this experimental vaccine in his body that is killing people.

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Mean score drops from 100 to 78.

Children Born During Pandemic Have Lower IQs (G.)

Children born during the coronavirus pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor and overall cognitive performance compared with children born before, a US study suggests. The first few years of a child’s life are critical to their cognitive development. But with Covid-19 triggering the closure of businesses, nurseries, schools and playgrounds, life for infants changed considerably, with parents stressed and stretched as they tried to balance work and childcare. With limited stimulation at home and less interaction with the world outside, pandemic-era children appear to have scored shockingly low on tests designed to assess cognitive development, said lead study author Sean Deoni, associate professor of paediatrics (research) at Brown University.

In the decade preceding the pandemic, the mean IQ score on standardised tests for children aged between three months and three years of age hovered around 100, but for children born during the pandemic that number tumbled to 78, according to the analysis, which is yet to be peer-reviewed. “It’s not subtle by any stretch,” said Deoni. “You don’t typically see things like that, outside of major cognitive disorders.” The study included 672 children from the state of Rhode Island. Of these, 188 were born after July 2020 and 308 were born prior to January 2019, while 176 were born between January 2019 and March 2020. The children included in the study were born full-term, had no developmental disabilities and were mostly white.

Those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds fared worse in the tests, the researchers found. The biggest reason behind the falling scores is likely the lack of stimulation and interaction at home, said Deoni. “Parents are stressed and frazzled … that interaction the child would normally get has decreased substantially.” Whether these lower cognitive scores will have a long-term impact is unclear. In the first few years of life, the foundations for cognition are laid, much like building a house – it’s easier to add rooms or flourishes when you’re building the foundation, Deoni said. “The ability to course-correct becomes smaller, the older that child gets.”

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“In mid-December, before the first person had full vaccinated immunity, cases were falling dramatically in the United States. Herd Immunity. For real. It was over. We had suffered, but, had we not been stupid, Covid was more-or-less finished with us.”

Well, ****…. (Denninger)

“Antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) of infection is a safety concern for vaccine strategies. In a recent publication, Li et al. (Cell 184 :1-17, 2021) have reported that infection-enhancing antibodies directed against the N-terminal domain (NTD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein facilitate virus infection in vitro, but not in vivo. However, this study was performed with the original Wuhan/D614G strain. Since the Covid-19 pandemic is now dominated with Delta variants, we analyzed the interaction of facilitating antibodies with the NTD of these variants. Using molecular modelling approaches, we show that enhancing antibodies have a higher affinity for Delta variants than for Wuhan/D614G NTDs.

We show that enhancing antibodies reinforce the binding of the spike trimer to the host cell membrane by clamping the NTD to lipid raft microdomains. This stabilizing mechanism may facilitate the conformational change that induces the demasking of the receptor binding domain. As the NTD is also targeted by neutralizing antibodies, our data suggest that the balance between neutralizing and facilitating antibodies in vaccinated individuals is in favor of neutralization for the original Wuhan/D614G strain. However, in the case of the Delta variant, neutralizing antibodies have a decreased affinity for the spike protein, whereas facilitating antibodies display a strikingly increased affinity. Thus, ADE may be a concern for people receiving vaccines based on the original Wuhan strain spike sequence (either mRNA or viral vectors).”

You stupid, stupid bastards….. Coronaviruses have a long history of doing this sort of thing and its one of the reasons we’ve never managed to have a vaccine developed for them before; it simply doesn’t work. But we were sure it wouldn’t happen this time. It had happened all the other times, but not this time. We were so sure we didn’t need to take the several years required to prove it. We’re smart! We have the new technology, never before deployed in man or beast, which we were absolutely certain would evade the risk that had always, in previous trials, derailed attempted vaccines. Oh, and there were also billions of dollars involved for the companies involved and many newly minted billionaires to be, including the NIH itself who holds some of the patents involved.

So here’s what happened. In mid-December, before the first person had full vaccinated immunity, cases were falling dramatically in the United States. Herd Immunity. For real. It was over. We had suffered, but, had we not been stupid, Covid was more-or-less finished with us. Yes, there were and would remain some of us who hadn’t gotten it, and the extremely rare person who could get it a second time, that would continue to get the virus. It was, however, over. But we were stupid. We jabbed a huge percentage of our population. And as has occurred every other time with coronavirus vaccine attempts the virus mutated around the protection and in fact used the vaccine antibodies to enhance infection. Delta is in fact promoted by those who were vaccinated. As with all other Covid variants most people get a mild or no real illness, but some people get hammered.

However, prior infection doesn’t help if you got jabbed since you took a drug that helps the virus attack you. We created a third wave by our own stupidity: Stupidity seen in nation after nation, but only in nations with high vaccine prevalence; Israel, the UK, Iceland and here in the United States. Don’t run the bull**** on me that this isn’t happening: Not only is the science now in on how its happening but Israel and Palestine, two nations literally next door to each with one having near 100% vaccination and the other about 10% could not be more-stark. Palestine is seeing a small uptick in infections while Israel is getting hammered. The “smartest men in the room” screwed not just a nation — bad enough — but an enormously-large part of the world. Including, quite possibly, you. There’s a reason we’ve never attempted to vaccinate against coronaviruses before. THIS IS THE REASON!

Read more …

Would new vaccines help? Only until the next one.

French Study Claims ADE Occurring In Delta Variant Infections (TMN)

A new study by French researchers from Aix-Marseille Université has alarmingly found that ADE or antibody dependent enhancement is indeed occurring in infections with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant. The study findings were peer reviewed and published in the Journal of Infections. ADE or antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) of infection is a safety concern for vaccine strategies. A misleading earlier study reported that infection-enhancing antibodies directed against the N-terminal domain (NTD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein facilitate virus infection in vitro, but not in vivo. This study however was performed with the original Wuhan/D614G strain. Importantly since the COVID-19 pandemic is now dominated with Delta variants, the study team analyzed the interaction of facilitating antibodies with the NTD of these variants.

Utilizing molecular modeling approaches, the team showed that enhancing antibodies have a higher affinity for Delta variants than for Wuhan/D614G NTDs. The study team demonstrated that enhancing antibodies reinforce the binding of the spike trimer to the host cell membrane by clamping the NTD to lipid raft microdomains. This stabilizing mechanism may facilitate the conformational change that induces the de-masking of the receptor binding domain. As the NTD is also targeted by neutralizing antibodies, the study data suggest that the balance between neutralizing and facilitating antibodies in vaccinated individuals is in favor of neutralization for the original Wuhan/D614G strain. Alarmingly, in the case of the Delta variant, neutralizing antibodies have a decreased affinity for the spike protein, whereas facilitating antibodies display a strikingly increased affinity.

Hence antibody dependent enhancement or ADE may be a concern for people receiving vaccines based on the original Wuhan strain spike sequence (either mRNA or viral vectors). Under these circumstances, second generation vaccines with spike protein formulations lacking structurally-conserved ADE-related epitopes should be considered. [..] It should be noted that all current Covid-19 vaccines (either mRNA or viral vectors) are based on the original Wuhan spike sequence. In as much as neutralizing antibodies overwhelm facilitating antibodies, ADE is not a concern. However, the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants may tip the scales in favor of infection enhancement. The study’s structural and modeling data suggest that it might be indeed the case for Delta variants. The study team concludes and warns that ADE may occur in individuals receiving vaccines based on the original Wuhan strain spike sequence (either mRNA or viral vectors) and then exposed to a Delta variant.

Read more …

But The Science!

Denmark Abolishes All Corona Measures (FFN)

Danish parliament recently decided in Copenhagen that all Corona measures should be ended from October 1. There will therefore no longer be a mask requirement and the test regime will be abolished. The Danes will then no longer have to provide evidence of whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated, or whether they have tested positive or negative. All Corona measures are being lifted in view of the increasing incidence figures in Denmark, reported RT Deutsch. Since the beginning of July this value has risen from 31 to 107,2 (as of August 8). At the same time, the upper limits of this Corona indicator has increased significantly. At the same time, the incidence limits are increased significantly: In communities from 300 to 500 infected people within seven days, in the districts from 500 to 1000.

However, the prerequisite is that an increasing number of Covid-19 patients does not overload the health care system. Denmark’s SSI infectious diseases agency said it no longer relied on vaccination to achieve herd immunity in the country. Tyra Grove Krause, the SSI’s acting academic director, said a new wave of infections were expected after people return to work and school at the end of this summer, but it should not be cause for alarm. “It will be more reminiscent of the flu,” Krause said. Overall, the current vaccination rate is just under 58,4 percent of fully vaccinated people in Denmark. In Germany, this value is only slightly lower at 54,5 percent (as of August 8) but vaccine advocates have been persistent in their fear-mongering and pressure on the unvaccinated.

Tyrolean lawyer Dr. Renate Holzeisen, meanwhile strongly recommended that all employers refrain from vaccination pressure or compulsory vaccination, because most of them were “obviously not even aware of the far-reaching legal consequences associated with it”. The fact that the so-called Covid-19 vaccines, according to the official approval documents of the EMA and the European Commission were not developed and approved for the prevention of infection with the SARS-COV-2 virus, but solely to prevent a more severe course of the disease, were conditionally approved for this reason alone, Holzeisen underscored.

The official approval documents therefore show that these substances cannot interrupt the chain of infection because the people treated with them can become infected and thus be infectious. Practice also proves that people who are completely “vaccinated” become infected with the virus and even have the same viral load as “unvaccinated people” as the CDC, among others, has admitted. It is therefore clear that any Covid-19 “compulsory vaccination” actually lacks any justification. All pressure, including moral pressure (alleged act of solidarity with one’s neighbor) is therefore illegal in terms of criminal and liability law based on the official approval documents.

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But we knew they were coming?! Why didn’t you prepare?

New Covid Variants ‘Will Set Us Back A Year’, Experts Warn UK Government (O.)

Ministers are being pressed to reveal what contingency plans are in place to deal with a future Covid variant that evades current vaccines, amid warnings from scientific advisers that such an outcome could set the battle against the pandemic back a year or more. Recent papers produced by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have suggested that the arrival of a variant that evades vaccines is a “realistic possibility”. Sage backed continued work on new vaccines that reduce infection and transmission more than current jabs, the creation of more vaccine-production facilities in the UK and lab-based studies to predict evolution of variants. With the arrival of a new variant seen as one of the main dangers that could intensify the crisis once again, prominent scientific figures stressed the risks.

Prof Graham Medley, a member of Sage and a leader of the government’s Covid modelling group, said it was “clearly something that the planners and scientists should take very seriously as it would put us back a long way”. “It is not that different to the planning that needs to be done between pandemics – a new variant that was able to overcome immunity significantly would be essentially a new virus,” he said. “The advantage would be that we know we can generate vaccines against this virus – and relatively quickly. The disadvantage is that we would be back to the same situation we were in a year ago, depending on how much impact current immunity had against a new variant. Hopefully, evolution is slow, so that new variants arise that are only marginally evasive rather than one big jump.”

Dr Marc Baguelin, from Imperial College’s Covid-19 response team and a member of the government’s SPI-M modelling group, said preventing the importation of variants of concern with “moderate to high immune-escape properties would be critical, as these could lead to future waves orders of magnitude larger than the ones experienced so far”. “It is unlikely that such a new virus evades entirely all immunity from past infection or vaccines,” he said. “Some immunity should remain at least for the most severe outcomes such as death or hospitalisation. We would most likely be able to update the current vaccines to include the emerging strain. “But doing so would take months and means that we might need to reimpose restrictions if there were a significant public health risk. The amount of restrictions would be a political decision and would need to be proportionate with how much this virus would evade current vaccines.”

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Not long ago all of it was voluntary. All of it.

Booster Shots Will ‘Be Obligatory For Trips Abroad And Care Home Staff’ (DM)

Booster jabs are set to be compulsory for travel abroad and care home staff in plans under discussion by Ministers. A source close to the talks about Covid certification told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The assumption is that you will be required to have the most up-to-date health passport. ‘So if the advice is to have a booster six months after your second jab, then that is what you’ll need.’ At the moment, double-jabbed Brits can go to amber list countries without having to quarantine upon their return. Booster vaccines will be compulsory for care home workers once they are rolled out, a senior Government source said. This will add to the legal requirements for care home staff, who from October will have to be double-jabbed to work in the sector, subject to parliamentary approval.

Millions are set to be offered a third jab from September after Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the roll-out to priority groups. A Minister told the Mail on Sunday the ‘logical’ move will be to make the booster shots a requirement for travel, adding that the most up-to-date Covid certification for travel will become as normal as the need to have a yellow fever jab to enter certain countries. Last night Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, said: ‘If I were the Government I would tread carefully on this. Booster jabs will take a while to get to the majority of the travelling public. ‘And there are issues around whether they are necessary – some scientists say that they may not be necessary.’

Meanwhile talks about what booster jabs will mean for domestic certification are still at an early stage within Government. One insider said that, as domestic passports have only been announced for nightclubs, discussions over whether boosters will one day be required for entry are still in ‘very early days’. The Government will make its decision on boosters following final advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which is reviewing the scientific evidence on the third jabs. The JCVI previously issued interim advice in June that Brits ‘should be prepared’ for another round of inoculations.

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The article doesn’t know whether to agree or not.

The Teens Who’d Prefer To Catch Covid Than Have The Vaccine (DM)

Trawling through Government Covid statistics might seem like a strange hobby for a 16-year-old. But when he isn’t practising on his guitar, or watching TikTok videos, that’s what Jacob Mellor can be found doing. And thanks to his keen interest in ‘the data’, he has come to a decision – one that could have a profound impact on his own health and that of those around him. Earlier this month, when it was announced that all 16- and 17-year-olds would be offered a Covid jab, Jacob promptly announced he would be opting out. All the evidence, he says, shows this virus is not a threat to him. And so he feels it would be better to catch Covid, and develop natural immunity, than to have a vaccine.

‘From the beginning we’ve been told that this virus didn’t affect kids,’ says Jacob, from Croydon in South London, who attends an independent school. ‘We even had assemblies about it at school, telling us why we shouldn’t worry because it’s just a cold for people my age. ‘So why should I take a vaccine to protect against something I won’t get ill from? Especially when I know there’s a risk involved with having it. The risk is small, I appreciate that, but it’s still there and I can’t get over that.’ Not only does Jacob have no qualms about catching Covid, he is almost looking forward to it. ‘It would be a good thing, in my eyes. I’d build a strong immunity and I wouldn’t have to worry about risks, like I would with the jab,’ he says.

‘Loads of my friends had Covid last year and the worst that happened was that they were stuck in bed for a couple of days. We all see Covid as something we’re not really bothered about. If I get it, it might suck for a few days, but I’ll be immune, so there’s a benefit to me.’ According to Jacob’s mother Sally, her eldest child – who is one of three, with siblings aged 14 and nine – is ‘an independent thinker’ and has been ‘brought up to appreciate the value of natural immunity’. Sally, a 51-year-old creative director for a major retailer, and husband Steve, 49, a recruitment director, haven’t been vaccinated either. ‘I believe in natural immunity, and I’m nervous about the lack of long-term data about the Covid vaccine,’ she adds.

‘We were a family that would be outside in the dirt and around animals, and I told the kids this would protect them from allergies and make sure they could fight off infections. ‘So Jacob has always asked questions when it came to vaccines, from a very young age – like why did he have to have a tetanus booster, for instance – although he did have all his childhood jabs.’ While more than 16,000 of Britain’s 1.5 million 16- and 17-year-olds took up the Government’s offer to get jabbed last weekend, thousands, like Jacob, are not as enthusiastic. The latest Office for National Statistics Covid survey suggests one in ten of them don’t plan to have the vaccine.

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“But *NOW* you are the problem. You are guilty. You are an extremist. You didn’t change at all. Something else changed. But notice how the spotlight on what changed is YOU, and not the origin of the change?”

I Wish To Take A Little Walk With You And Talk, Deliberately, About This (TLR)

Something shifted after the election of Barack H Obama in 2008. Something subtle that was quietly taking place in the background that surfaced just slow enough so that most people didn’t notice. But before getting to that, let’s first just look at the DHS announcement as presented in their words. Look at this small sentence and the worldview it expresses: ..”Such threats are also exacerbated by impacts of the ongoing global pandemic, including grievances over public health safety measures and perceived government restrictions.”.. Notice the word “perceived”? The government imposed mandates, mask and vaccination requirements are only “perceived government restrictions.” In essence, the chains that bind your expressions of liberty and freedom are merely figments of your imagination.


The needle being forced into the arm of federal workers by the Federal Government is only the perception of a forced medical treatment. Your perception of what they are doing is the problem. You must therefore correct your wrong-thoughts to eliminate the wrong perception. Yes, Dear Leader appreciates your compliance. Your reluctance to change your perception is what identifies you as an extremist. Think about that for a moment with your friends and family. The label of Domestic Extremist is applied to the target who is reluctant to change their perception. The target is transparently innocent of any wrongdoing. They are doing, feeling, believing, and ultimately living, exactly the same as they always have…. but something now is different. You are transparently innocent, yet you are now guilty and labeled. This takes our conversation to an inflection point.

When Barack H Obama was elected/installed as the President of the United States, the people in/around him brought forward a new approach. While the U.S. media had always been biased, manipulative and dishonest, there was something more that changed after the installation of The One, the Lightbringer… and it was assisted by the rise of Big Tech and Social Media. The shift coincided with the merge between the intelligence apparatus and the new platforms of social media. The speed of the shift aligned with the speed of technology that was driving communication. Together the intelligence apparatus, the customary U.S. media and Big Tech began testing how far and how fast they could control the outlook of Americans. Historic leftists, progressives, used to justify their own behavior, and the behavior of their tribe through the media.

History is replete with leftist media excusing the behavior of the transparently guilty. The media would create narratives to justify extremism they aligned with. The transparently guilty were excused and defended. We became used to seeing this. However, when traditional media merged in ideology with social media, no longer was they trying to excuse or justify the transparently guilty of accountability; starting around 2011 & 2012 what the new-era attack started to do was falsely accuse the transparently innocent. Together with ideological institutions in government (Obama’s crew ie. DOJ etc.), the customary U.S. media and Big Tech began testing how far and fast they could control the outlook of Americans… to accuse the transparently innocent. The shift was directly proportional to the training, teaching and development of the crew that came with Obama. All classically trained Saul Alinsky followers.

The Harvard police officer (James Crowley), just doing his job…. that led to Henry Louis Gates outrage, that led to the big PR effort and the beer summit. “Never let a crisis go to waste”… All optically and narrative controlled. Then came George Zimmerman, then Darren Wilson, then The Baltimore Six,… all, again, transparently innocent – but the media framework was exactly the opposite. They were able to label the transparently innocent as ‘guilty’, just by controlling information. Skip through the years of numerous examples as the orchestration continued. The manipulative effort is driven by political intent. Take a transparently innocent person and manipulate a narrative to make them guilty Now, pause for a moment and go back to the current DHS announcement.

What does this current DHS terrorism bulletin do? It exactly continues the process. Government is now expanding the targeting of the transparently innocent. You hold the same ideas, outlooks, worldviews, and expectations of Liberty and Freedom that you held yesterday, last week, last month and perhaps even long before 9-11-01… But *NOW* you are the problem. You are guilty. You are an extremist. You didn’t change at all. Something else changed. But notice how the spotlight on what changed is YOU, and not the origin of the change? You are the problem. Not those changing the structures of freedom or liberty… YOU are the guilty party. See how they did that? See the shift now?

Read more …

 

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Edgar Degas Landscape with Path Leading to a Copse of Trees 1880-92

 

Employees Sue Hospital over Vaccine Mandate (L&C)
Vaccine Passports For Cross-Border Travel Take Off In Europe (RT)
DHS Walks Back Claim US Taking “Close Look” At Vaccine Passports (ZH)
Masks Achieve Nothing In Terms Of Spread (Guerra)
The Basic Foolishness With The Path (Denninger)
Travel Restrictions & Partial Lockdown Imposed In Guangzhou (RT)
Over 200 Republicans Press Pelosi To Back COVID-19 Origin Probe (ZH)
Denmark Helped NSA Spy On EU Leaders, Snowden Says Biden ‘Deeply Involved’ (RT)
‘Silicon Six’ Tech Giants Accused Of Inflating Tax Payments By $100bn (G.)
Senate Preparing $10 Billion Bailout Fund For Jeff Bezos Space Firm (IC)
Julian Assange’s Father and Brother Announce US Tour (CD)

 

 

 

 

Slowly redefining, eroding legal language.

From 2 days ago: “The updated guidelines say employers may offer incentives for employees to provide documentation showing they have been vaccinated since requesting this proof “is not a disability-related inquiry” or an “unlawful request” under federal anti-discrimination laws.”

Today: “..the coronavirus vaccines available in the U.S. are no longer considered “experimental” because they have “completed clinical trials and have been authorized for emergency use.”

Employees Sue Hospital over Vaccine Mandate (L&C)

A group of 117 Houston-area hospital employees on Friday filed a civil lawsuit against an employer hospital’s coronavirus vaccine mandate. The lawsuit alleges that the mandate violates both the Nuremberg Code and U.S. statutes that allow Americans to refuse “unapproved” medical treatments. It also alleges violations of Texas labor and employment laws. That “people” are “trying to force you to put something into your body that you’re not comfortable with to keep your job is just insane,” lead plaintiff Jennifer Bridges told Houston CBS affiliate KHOU. The defendants are The Methodist Hospital, the Methodist Hospital System, and Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital. The people in charge of those entities responded to the litigation by saying the plaintiffs are but a small minority of voices among 26,000 employees and that it is “legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines.”

The sharply worded 56-page complaint argues that the COVID-19 vaccines currently on the market were authorized merely as “emergency” measures and, thus, are not fully “approved” vaccines. At the top of the document are words attributed to David Bernard, the CEO of Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital: “100% vaccination is more important than your individual freedom. Everyone [sic] of you is replaceable. If you don’t like what your [sic] doing you can leave and we will replace your spot.” Those alleged words did not sit well with the plaintiffs. “For the first time in the history of the United States, an employer is forcing an employee to participate in an experimental vaccine trial as a condition for continued employment,” the lawsuit argues.

The document continues by alleging that the defendant hospital “became the first major health care system in the country to force it [sic] employees to be injected with an experimental COVID-19 mRNA gene modification injection (‘experimental vaccine’) or be fired.” “Methodist Hospital is forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment,” the lawsuit’s opening paragraph also says. The Washington Post on May 14 reported that the coronavirus vaccines available in the U.S. are no longer considered “experimental” because they have “completed clinical trials and have been authorized for emergency use.” The same report quotes a bevy of experts who asserted that the current vaccines are safe while noting that millions of Americans have been vaccinated without serious harm.

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You can be the healthiest person in the world, but it makes no difference.

Vaccine Passports For Cross-Border Travel Take Off In Europe (RT)

Greece and Denmark have become the first to launch Covid-19 vaccine passports for travel within the EU, as the bloc pushes for all member states to adopt the system and US officials say they’re considering the idea. The two countries rolled out the new passes on Friday in separate press conferences, with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis calling them a “fast lane to facilitate travel” in Europe and help “restore freedom of movement.” While some EU states, including Denmark, had already implemented their own internal vaccine certificates, the new passports can be used for cross-border travel, in line with a March proposal by the European Commission.

The Greek and Danish passports are managed through a smartphone app that shows a user’s vaccination status and the last time they were tested for coronavirus. Both also use a scannable QR code to quickly relay the information, though paper versions will also be made available. The EU has pressed for all 27 of its member states to adopt a bloc-wide passport by July 1, agreeing to the plan in principle last week ahead of the summer tourism season. The push comes after the bloc called for an easing of the travel restrictions imposed at the height of the pandemic, recommending that members allow foreign visitors if they are fully vaccinated. While the European Parliament has yet to formally approve the passport scheme, several countries have already moved ahead.

In addition to Greece and Denmark, Ireland also announced plans on Friday to adopt an international Covid pass by July 19, while the UK’s National Health Service recently updated its digital passport app for cross-border travel. The passports will also be valid in non-EU nations Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, according to the European Commission. As the passes gain traction across Europe, US officials have said they are also eyeing the concept for foreign travel, with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief Alejandro Mayorkas telling ABC on Friday that the Biden administration is “taking a very close look at that.” A DHS spokesperson later clarified, however, that there would be no “federal mandate” for any kind of vaccine pass, adding that the government would help Americans only to meet entry requirements in other countries.

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“The Biden administration has previously said multiple times that it will not require vaccine passports, or proof of vaccination, on the federal level. However, the administration is working with private companies to set guidelines for passport systems.”

DHS Walks Back Claim US Taking “Close Look” At Vaccine Passports (ZH)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday walked back comments made by the agency’s chief, who suggested earlier in the day that the federal government was “taking a very close look” at the idea of requiring vaccine passports to enter or leave the United States. “Looking ahead to summer, Europe and other countries are going to open up. Could we see vaccine passports to travel internationally either into or out of the U.S.?” an ABC “Good Morning America” host asked Alejandro Mayorkas, head of the DHS. “We’re taking a very close look at that,” Mayorkas responded. But DHS said Mayorkas was only talking about how Americans will need to use such passports to enter other countries.

“We’ve always said we’re looking at how we can ensure Americans traveling abroad have a quick and easy way to enter other countries. That’s what the secretary was referring to; ensuring that all U.S. travelers will be able to easily meet any anticipated foreign country entry requirements,” an agency spokesperson told news outlets. “There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” the department also said. The White House had responded to Mayorkas’ statement by saying the same thing. Asked to explain his comments, spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One:

“Again, the U.S. government recognizes that other countries have or may have foreign-entry requirements. We will be monitoring these and helping all U.S. travelers meet those, but we will not be—there will be no federal mandate requiring anyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.” The Biden administration has previously said multiple times that it will not require vaccine passports, or proof of vaccination, on the federal level. However, the administration is working with private companies to set guidelines for passport systems. A variety of groups have raised concerns about vaccine passports, arguing it would be an overreach of government authority to require vaccination proof. A number of states have banned requiring of passports, such as Georgia, and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) announced Friday they were introducing a bill that would ban them.

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Bit confusing?!

Masks Achieve Nothing In Terms Of Spread (Guerra)

Latest analysis shows yet again – yet again – what we already knew from 40 years of published research. And also empirically from simply glancing over the past year’s real-world data. Masks don’t work! Our main finding is that mask mandates and use are not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among US states. 80% of US states mandated masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mandates induced greater mask compliance but did not predict lower growth rates when community spread was low (minima) or high (maxima). We infer that mandates likely did not affect COVID-19 case growth [15], as growth rates were similar on all days between actual or modeled issuance dates and 6 March 2021. Higher mask use (rather than mandates per se) has been argued to decrease COVID-19 growth rates [11].

While compliance varies by location and time, IHME estimates are robust (derived from multiple sources [17]) and densely sampled (day-level precision). Higher mask use did not predict lower maximum growth rates, smaller surges, or less Fall-Winter growth among continental states. Mask-growth rate correlation was only evident at minima. This may be an artifact of faster growth at fewer normalized cases, as well as regional differences in case prevalence early in the pandemic. States in the high mask quintile grew at similar rates as states in the low mask quintile after maxima (when interstate total case differences were smaller than before minima). In addition, mask use did not predict normalized cases at minima, and low mask growth curves trailed those of high mask (particularly Northeast) states before minima.

Growth maxima and Fall-Winter surges did not differ between Northeast and other states. Northeast states exhibited the highest seroprevalence up to at least July 2020 [24] and constituted 80% of the top quintile of mask use, which may explain their comparatively lower Summer growth. Overall, mask use appears to be an intra-state lagging indicator of case growth. There is inferential but not demonstrable evidence that masks reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Animal models [25], small case studies [6], and growth curves for mandate-only states [16] suggest that mask efficacy increases with mask use [11]. However, we did not observe lower growth rates over a range of compliance at maximum Fall-Winter growth (45-83% between South Dakota and Massachusetts during maxima) [17] when growth rates were high.

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“..you must use very large amounts of the substance in order to get enough of it where you want it and the unwanted part can and does cause problems in other parts of the body.”

The Basic Foolishness With The Path (Denninger)

Moderna, for example, is not a new company. They have repeatedly tried to get their mRNA technology to be taken up preferentially by parts of the body that have some disease or disorder and thus attempt to treat that. It has never worked, because while some preference can be expressed for the particular particles injected too much of it winds up in other places where it’s not wanted and causes problems. Let me repeat this for emphasis: Nobody has managed to come up with an injected, complex substance such as “nanoparticles” that are only taken up by the tissues desired and not by any of the others. This in turn means you must use very large amounts of the substance in order to get enough of it where you want it and the unwanted part can and does cause problems in other parts of the body.

This is why Moderna, despite ten years of trying, has never before had a successful therapy licensed anywhere. We were told that this sort of thing does not happen with these shots. But there was zero proof of this; in fact, quite to the contrary, there was ten years of evidence by this company’s trials itself that said it was the exact opposite; specificity simply could not be guaranteed and too much would spill over into other places. We now know it happens with the mRNA shots as well, both directly and indirectly. The second pillar of the development of these vaccines was the claim, which the CDC still makes by the way, that the spike protein alone is harmless. Thus, even if some of the material was taken up in the wrong place (not the muscle and the lymph system) it was ok because it wouldn’t hurt you.

Unfortunately we now know that’s false as the spike alone is not inert and harmless; the first indications of that in scientific papers came in September of 2020 and development was not halted until the risk could be characterized. The CDC is knowingly lying in their public statements; that the spike portion of the virus is “harmless” is simply not subject to reasonable scientific support at this point in time. Yes, inducing antibodies in the circulation is what you want to happen. Causing spike protein components and the intact spike protein to be found in the circulation, however, you definitely do not want to happen because we now know, on the body of evidence, that both S1 standing alone and the whole spike are pathogenic — that is, they cause disorders in the body.

Indeed the evidence is quite strong that when you get hammered by Covid the reason you get hammered is that the infection becomes systemic and the part of the virus that causes the systemic problem is the spike when it gets into the circulation and then is disseminated through the body’s systems. We now know that the spike protein alone is capable of producing abnormal clotting absent the rest of the virus — that is, the entire virus isn’t necessary to do it and it’s not the virus infecting cells and replicating in them that causes it; it is the spike alone that induces the body to inappropriately produce blood clots where they do not belong.

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We don’t see much virus news from China.

Travel Restrictions & Partial Lockdown Imposed In Guangzhou (RT)

Border control and a partial lockdown have been imposed in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, after a cluster of the Indian variant of the coronavirus was discovered there. People leaving Guangzhou, a provincial capital of 15.3 million, must test negative for the coronavirus within 72 hours before the trip. Roughly 520 flights were canceled at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, one of the world’s busiest air travel hubs, as of 11:40am local time on Monday, CNA news agency reported, citing aviation data provider VariFlight.


Authorities earlier announced stay-at-home orders for residents of several streets in the city’s Liwan District, where the first infected patient was discovered on May 21, and restricted travel on the subway and buses. Large gatherings were banned across Guangzhou, while indoor venues were told to operate at limited capacity and targeted mass-testing programs were launched. Chen Bin, the deputy chief of the provincial health commission, was cited by Xinhua as confirming on Sunday that all locally transmitted cases found in Guangzhou since May 21 were linked to the B.1.617 coronavirus strain, also known as the Indian variant.

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200 is a lot.

Over 200 Republicans Press Pelosi To Back COVID-19 Origin Probe (ZH)

More than 200 House Republicans are putting pressure on their Democrat counterparts to get down to the COVID-19 origins and hold the Chinese regime accountable for the pandemic coverup. “We request that you instruct the appropriate Democrat committee chairs to immediately join Republican calls to hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for its role in causing the global COVID-19 pandemic,” stated a May 28 letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The effort was led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), Minority Whip Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Rep. Elise Stefanik, the chair of the House Republican Conference and joined by 209 House Republicans.

The lawmakers said Pelosi had “falsely claimed” that “questions about the CCP’s liability” were a “diversion” – likely referring to Pelosi’s remarks from last May describing then-President Donald Trump’s blame on China as an “interesting diversion.” “There is mounting evidence the pandemic started in a Chinese lab, and the CCP covered it up. If that is the case, the CCP is responsible for the deaths of almost 600,000 Americans and millions more worldwide,” they stated in the letter. “[E]very American family that lost someone deserves answers about the origin of this terrible virus,” they continued, adding that “House Democrats’ ongoing refusal to allocate investigative resources to get those answers is an affront to them.” “China can’t get away with this. Americans deserve answers,” Scalise wrote in a May 28 tweet.

The lawmakers cited a growing pile of evidence that the virus may have escaped from a Wuhan lab, an idea that many media outlets and scientists had initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory. A State Department fact sheet, released during the final days of the Trump administration, suggested researchers with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), located in the vicinity of the seafood market initially thought to be the outbreak’s origin, fell ill with COVID-19 like symptoms in autumn 2019. Recently, an undisclosed intelligence report also surfaced saying three WIV staff were sick enough to seek hospital care that November.

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What is Merkel going to do about Denmark? Her anger over having her phone spied on sure went away fast.

Denmark Helped NSA Spy On EU Leaders, Snowden Says Biden ‘Deeply Involved’ (RT)

The US National Intelligence Agency received support from Denmark in spying on European politicians, according to a new joint media report, something President Joe Biden is well-informed to answer for, says Edward Snowden. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank Walter-Steinmeier are among those who were spied on by the NSA with the cooperation and help of the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (FE), according to the European media investigation. The US spying on not only its own citizens, but also leaders in foreign countries is an accusation that came to light in 2013, mostly thanks to documents leaked by former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower – though he remains a fugitive in the US – Edward Snowden. Snowden’s leaks specifically revealed Merkel’s private cell phone had been monitored by US authorities.

The new revelations come as a result of multiple European news outlets – including Danish state broadcaster DR, German NDR, Swedish SVT, Norwegian NRK and French Le Monde among others – obtaining access to internal reports and information from Danish Secret Service sources. According to the investigation, politicians in Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, France and even Danish finance industries were also targeted by the NSA with the help of Danish spies. The Danish government has reportedly known about the cooperation for years and forced FE leadership to step down in 2020 after discovering the full extent of the relationship following an internal investigation. They did not, however, report the findings to any European Union allies.

The spying was primarily done through hijacking Danish electronic communications systems as the country has landing stations for subsea internet cables between numerous countries, such as Germany and Sweden. By using politicians’ and officials’ phone numbers, authorities were able to pull texts and phone calls, while those being spied on were none the wiser. Snowden, who made his revelations about the NSA while Biden was vice president, says the current president is “well-prepared” to answer the accusations and that there should be a requirement of “full disclosure” from both Denmark and the US. “Biden is well-prepared to answer for this when he soon visits Europe since, of course, he was deeply involved in this scandal the first time around,” he tweeted. “There should be an explicit requirement for full public disclosure not only from Denmark, but their senior partner as well.”

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“Overall, they paid $219bn in income tax over the past decade, 3.6% of their total revenue of more than $6tn.”

‘Silicon Six’ Tech Giants Accused Of Inflating Tax Payments By $100bn (G.)

The giant US tech firms known as the “Silicon Six” have been accused of inflating their stated tax payments by almost $100bn (£70bn) over the past decade. As Chancellor Rishi Sunak called on world leaders to back a new tech tax ahead of next week’s G7 summit in the UK, a report by the campaign group Fair Tax Foundation singled out Amazon, Facebook, Google’s owner, Alphabet, Netflix, Apple and Microsoft. It said they paid $96bn less in tax between 2011 and 2020 than the notional taxation figures they cite in their annual financial reports. . The six firms named handed over $149bn less to global tax authorities than would be expected if they had the paid headline rates where they operated, Fair Tax Foundation said.

Overall, they paid $219bn in income tax over the past decade, 3.6% of their total revenue of more than $6tn. Income tax is paid on profits, but the researchers said the Silicon Six companies deliberately shift income to low-tax jurisdictions to pay less tax. Based on companies’ regulatory filings, the report found that Amazon, the internet retailing and cloud services provider run by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, collected $1.6tn of revenue, reported $60.5bn of profit and paid $5.9bn in income taxes this decade. Amazon would have been expected to pay $10.7bn in taxes on those profits based on international tax rates, the report said. The tax paid as a percentage of profit was just 9.8% over the period 2011-20, the lowest of the so-called “Silicon Six”.

An Amazon spokesperson disputed the calculations as “extremely misleading”. “Amazon is primarily a retailer where profit margins are low, so comparisons to technology companies with operating profit margins of closer to 50% is not rational,” the company said. “Governments write the tax laws and Amazon is doing the very thing they encourage companies to do – paying all taxes due while also investing many billions in creating jobs and infrastructure. Coupled with low margins, this investment will naturally result in a lower cash tax rate.”

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Don’t pay taxes, get bailed out instead.

Senate Preparing $10 Billion Bailout Fund For Jeff Bezos Space Firm (IC)

Now that Jeff Bezos’s space flight company Blue Origin has lost a multibillion contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Congress is prepping the ground for Bezos to win a contract anyway, ordering NASA to make not one but two awards. The order would come through the Endless Frontier Act, a bill to beef up resources for science and technology research that’s being debated on the Senate floor this week. An amendment was added to that legislation by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to hand over $10 billion to NASA — money that most likely would go to Blue Origin, a company that’s headquartered in Cantwell’s home state.


Cantwell’s amendment is no sure bet though: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced a last-minute amendment Monday to eliminate the $10 billion. “It does not make a lot of sense to me that we would provide billions of dollars to a company owned by the wealthiest guy in America,” Sanders told The Intercept Tuesday. The Bezos space company had been competing against SpaceX for a contract to put astronauts on the moon, the first such trips since 1972, but lost the bidding process with a price tag twice that of SpaceX. NASA announced the award to the Elon Musk-owned company last month.

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“My brother Julian Assange has effectively been a prisoner for over a decade because he published evidence of war crimes..”

Julian Assange’s Father and Brother Announce US Tour (CD)

The father and brother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are planning a nationwide tour of the United States next month to advocate for the release of the detained journalist and for the Biden administration to drop its extradition effort—and to highlight the broader implications that his prosecution has for global press freedom. John and Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s father and brother, will kick off the #HomeRun4Julian tour in Miami on June 6, then travel to over a dozen U.S. cities for the rest of the month, wrapping up in Washington, D.C. in July. Some events will be live-streamed, and the pair plans to meet with activists, journalists, and policymakers along the away. “My brother Julian Assange has effectively been a prisoner for over a decade because he published evidence of war crimes,” said Gabriel Shipton in a statement Thursday. “The U.S. government wants to make an example out of him to deter journalists and whistleblowers.”

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Aug 182019
 


Pablo Picasso Dora Maar 1937

 

A Global Recession May Be Coming A Lot Sooner Than Anyone Thought (Henrich)
Why Negative Rates Will Devastate The World (ZH)
US National Debt Spiked $363 billion in 2 Weeks, $1 Trillion in 12 Months (WS)
UK Parliament Cannot Stop Brexit, Johnson To Tell Macron And Merkel (R.)
Leaked Docs : UK Faces Food, Fuel And Drugs Shortages In No-Deal Brexit (R.)
Jeremy Corbyn Has Called the Extreme Centrists’ Bluff (Jacobin)
The Gall of Ghislaine Maxwell
Hong Kongers Brave Rain To Join Anti-Government Rally (R.)
Kiwi Publishers Face Censorship Demands From Chinese Printers (Stuff)
Denmark Offers to Buy U.S. (Borowitz)
World’s Nations Gather To Tackle Wildlife Extinction Crisis (O.)

 

 

I think it’s not so much the US inverted yield curve that hints at a global recession, but the fact that many countries have such curves.

A Global Recession May Be Coming A Lot Sooner Than Anyone Thought (Henrich)

On Tuesday, equity markets across the globe jumped at the news that the Trump administration would delay some of the new tariffs on China it had announced earlier this month. But just one day later, global stock markets sold off hard due to ever-weakening economic data in Europe and Asia and further yield curve inversions. Call it a major hangover. The reversal in tariffs did not come from a position of strength. It came as a result of global economic reality sinking in and crushing US markets. Turns out trade wars are not easy to win and the global growth picture is not looking good. Last week, the UK announced negative GDP growth for the past quarter.

This week, it’s Germany announcing shrinking GDP with its 10-year bond hitting a record negative 0.62% yield. Then there’s Europe seeing negative industrial production, and China announcing its lowest industrial production growth in 17 years. The collapse in global bond yields has been a theme since October of last year, with 10-year US Treasury bonds dropping to 1.6% from their October 2018 high of 3.23%. Now that the two-year/10-year Treasury yield curve has inverted, the recession alarm bells are ringing. Why? Because every single recession in the past 45 years has seen a yield curve inversion preceding it.

History suggests that on average a recession begins 22 months after a yield curve inversion. It’s not until about 18 months after an inversion that the stock market turns negative. Yet Bank of America Merril Lynch numbers indicate that we have less time. For the 10 yield curve inversions since 1956, the S&P 500 peaked within approximately three months of the inversion six times. Following the other four, the S&P 500 took 11 to 22 months to peak. Twenty-two months of growth vs. three months? That’s quite a big gap. Both of these historical studies suggest there is room for markets to make new highs in the next few months. In fact, one can imagine several scenarios on how these new highs could come about.

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Deflation. Aka “a “Japanification” of every major bond market…”

Why Negative Rates Will Devastate The World (ZH)

It has been a thesis over 20 years in the making, but with every passing day, SocGen’s Albert Edwards – who first coined the term “Ice Age” to describe the state of the world in which every debt issue ends up with a negative yield as capital markets and economies collapse into a deflationary singularity – is that much closer to having the victory lap of a lifetime. Although, we doubt he is happy about it. Commenting on the interest rate collapse he has been (correctly) predicting ever since he first observed Japan’s great bubble bust of the 1980s and which resulted in both NIRP and QE, and which he (correctly) expected would spread across the rest of the world, leading to a “Japanification” of every major bond market…

… Edwards said that what bond markets are telling us is “that the cycle is ending with the central banks having failed to drive core CPI inflation higher. So Japanese-style outright deflation lies ahead at a time when western economies have piled debt sky high.” Needless to say that’s not good, not least of all because we now live in a world in which the bond universe with negative yields continued to grow at an exponential pace, rising rapidly over the past two weeks and reaching a record $16.4 trillion…

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Really? Your pension fund?

US National Debt Spiked $363 billion in 2 Weeks, $1 Trillion in 12 Months (WS)

The US Gross National Debt has jumped by $363 billion in the two weeks since President Trump signed the law that suspended the debt ceiling. This surge pushed the total debt to $22.39 trillion. That’s up by $1.01 trillion from 12 months ago. And these are the good times. Watch this debt balloon during an economic downturn! Whoopee! Note the technical term at the top right of the chart:

The question, “Who the heck is buying all this debt” – because every dime has to be bought by some entity – is becoming increasingly nerve-wracking, particularly as the trade war with China puts the possibility out there that Chinese entities might dump their US Treasury securities, much like Russia has already done. But Russia was only a small-ish holder. China is – or rather was – the largest one. So we got some answers on Thursday when the Treasury Department disclosed in its TIC data how much of this debt was held, bought, and dumped by foreign investors through June. Foreign investors bought hand-over-fist. But not the Chinese!


All foreign investors combined – so “foreign official” holders, such as central banks, and foreign private-sector investors such as banks and Mexican billionaires – held $6.64 trillion in US Treasury bonds and bills, having raised their holdings in the month of June by $97 billion, and over the 12-month period by $411 billion, all of it driven by frantic buying over the past seven months. In dollar terms, this $6.64 trillion held by foreign investors is a record (blue line). In terms of the percentage share (red line) of total debt, it’s a far cry from the record maintained from July 2012 through May 2015, when it maxed out at 34.1% of total Treasury debt. The share dropped to 28.5% at the end of last year. Under the recent surge in buying, it has ticked up to 30.1%:

The chart below shows [the] three big groups of holders of US Treasury securities through June: US government-administered funds, such as the Social Security Trust Fund and US government pension funds (gray), US individuals and entities other than the government (red), and foreign holders (blue):

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They’re not going to take his word for it.

UK Parliament Cannot Stop Brexit, Johnson To Tell Macron And Merkel (R.)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Westminster parliament cannot stop Brexit and a new deal must be agreed if Britain is to avoid leaving the EU without one. In his first trip abroad as leader, Johnson is due to meet his European counterparts ahead of a G7 summit on Aug. 24-26 in Biarritz, France. He will say that Britain is leaving the European Union on Oct. 31, with or without a deal, and that the British parliament cannot block that, according to a Downing Street source. The United Kingdom is heading towards a constitutional crisis at home and a showdown with the EU as Johnson has repeatedly vowed to leave the bloc on Oct. 31 without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate the Brexit divorce.


After more than three years of Brexit dominating EU affairs, the bloc has repeatedly refused to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement which includes an Irish border insurance policy that Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, agreed in November. The prime minister is coming under pressure from politicians across the political spectrum to prevent a disorderly departure, with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn vowing to bring down Johnson’s government in early September to delay Brexit. It is, however, unclear if lawmakers have the unity or power to use the British parliament to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 – likely to be the United Kingdom’s most significant move since World War Two.

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Apparently older docs, things have improved since. But only to the extent that it’s not “up to 85% of trucks using the main channel crossings “may not be ready“, now it’s ‘just’ 50-60%.

Leaked Docs : UK Faces Food, Fuel And Drugs Shortages In No-Deal Brexit (R.)

Britain will face shortages of fuel, food and medicine if it leaves the European Union without a transition deal, jamming ports and requiring a hard border in Ireland, official government documents leaked to the Sunday Times show. The Times said the forecasts compiled by the Cabinet Office set out the most likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit rather than the worst case scenarios. They said up to 85% of trucks using the main channel crossings “may not be ready” for French customs, meaning disruption at ports would potentially last up to three months before the flow of traffic improves. The government also believes a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic will be likely as current plans to avoid widespread checks will prove unsustainable, the Times said.


“Compiled this month by the Cabinet Office under the codename Operation Yellowhammer, the dossier offers a rare glimpse into the covert planning being carried out by the government to avert a catastrophic collapse in the nation’s infrastructure,” the Times reported. “The file, marked “official-sensitive” — requiring security clearance on a “need to know” basis — is remarkable because it gives the most comprehensive assessment of the UK’s readiness for a no-deal Brexit.” The United Kingdom is heading towards a constitutional crisis at home and a showdown with the EU as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly vowed to leave the bloc on Oct. 31 without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate the Brexit divorce.

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“Healing bitter division is one of two great preoccupations haunting politics in the United Kingdom since the 2016 Brexit referendum — the second is hating Jeremy Corbyn. ”

Jeremy Corbyn Has Called the Extreme Centrists’ Bluff (Jacobin)

Healing bitter division is one of two great preoccupations haunting politics in the United Kingdom since the 2016 Brexit referendum — the second is hating Jeremy Corbyn. On Wednesday, the Labour leader wrote a letter to the other main opposition parties proposing an alliance to block a No Deal Brexit, a prospect that has now become uncomfortably plausible with Boris Johnson as prime minister. Under the proposal, Corbyn would call a vote of no confidence in Johnson’s government; once the motion is carried he would step in to become a caretaker prime minister for a brief term. Corbyn’s powers would be limited; he couldn’t introduce new legislation. The sole purpose of his tenure as prime minister would be to negotiate a postponement of the Brexit deadline and call a general election.

Labour would then campaign for a new EU referendum with a Remain option on the ballot. The suggestion is calm, serious, and thoughtful. Most importantly, it includes a promise of a campaign for that second vote that so many centrists have loudly rallied for; the election everyone on the Left has longed for; and as mentioned, it severely limits Corbyn’s powers, but importantly, also blocks No Deal. It should bring everyone on board. Sensible parties were furtively positive: Plaid Cymru (the Welsh nationalist party) and the Scottish National Party said they were interested in discussing the idea when they appeared on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

But with this proposal, Corbyn has called the bluff of the extreme centrists and the obsessive Remainers. Since his scheme involves an election in which Labour would campaign for a second referendum, with Remain on the ballot, attacking Corbyn now means attacking the very ideas they claim to be fighting for. Sure enough, the Liberal Democrats shot the proposal down immediately, stating they would never countenance backing Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, even if it meant stopping a No Deal Brexit ..

[..] the hideous truth is now revealed, confirming what many on the Left have long been saying about the Liberal Democrats, the Independent Group, and a huge number of highly vocal centrist ultras on social media: for all their yelling that stopping Brexit is their sole concern, as long as stopping Brexit means Corbyn in a position of power — however minor and effectively powerless — they would prefer economic obliteration. Given the choice between Corbyn spending a few weeks merely acting out a pre-agreed script, on the one hand, and medicine and food shortages, a tanked pound, an economy in ruins, and widespread social panic, many centrists would choose the latter. Their hatred for Corbyn really does expand to fill so much of their mind as to incapacitate them.

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Interesting thing here is not the article, but the wider setting of the photo. C’mon Bill Barr, have her picked up. Your credibility melts away while you sleep.

The Gall of Ghislaine Maxwell

On Thursday afternoon, the New York Post published a picture that, the newspaper reported, was taken at an In-N-Out Burger in the San Fernando Valley, on Monday, and sent in by an anonymous source in Los Angeles. The photo showed Ghislaine Maxwell sipping a shake and munching on fries and a burger while sitting alone at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables. [..] the central figure of the Epstein affair in the past week has been Maxwell. The youngest of Robert Maxwell’s nine children, and reportedly his favorite, Ghislaine attended Marlborough, a boarding school in England, and Oxford. Her father sent her to New York as his emissary, in 1991, to foster the Daily News, which he had recently purchased.

After his ignominious death, she was left with a mere hundred thousand dollars per year to live on. She began to sell real estate, and soon started dating Epstein, who was well connected. A multitude of pictures from the past three decades in which the socialite is seen beaming, cheek to jowl, wearing gaudy Upper East Side-lady finery, with a variety of bold-faced names at various galas, give the impression that she would have attended the opening of an envelope as long as it was gold-embossed. But, in 2016, not long after Giuffre’s defamation suit, Maxwell abruptly disappeared from public view. On Wednesday, the Daily Mail reported that she was residing in a mansion outside Boston, in Manchester-by-the-Sea. But before the surprise of that revelation had abated, the picture from Los Angeles delivered a new jolt.

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8.18

Hong Kongers Brave Rain To Join Anti-Government Rally (R.)

Thousands of protesters, most clad in black, gathered under a downpour for an anti-government rally at a Hong Kong park on Sunday, in the eleventh week of what have been often violent demonstrations in the Asian financial hub. The turnout for the rally could show whether the movement still has broad-based support after the ugly scenes witnessed during the past week when protesters occupied the city’s airport, for which some activists apologized. Anger over a now-suspended bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China erupted in June, but the rising unrest is fueled by broader worries about the erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place after Hong Kong’s return from British to Chinese rule in 1997.


“Hong Kongers are tired of protesting, this is really the last thing they want. It’s bloody hot and it’s raining. It’s a torture just to turn up, frankly,” said a 24-year-old student named Jonathan. “But we have to be here because we have no other choice. We have to continue until the government finally shows us the respect that we deserve,” he said. Seated on concrete soccer fields in the sprawling Victoria Park in the city’s bustling Causeway Bay district, protesters held placards with slogans including “Free Hong Kong!” and “Democracy now!”, and umbrellas to shield them from the heavy rain.


Victoria Park almost completely filled up as of 2pm, the official starting time of the rally.

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Print your own books.

Kiwi Publishers Face Censorship Demands From Chinese Printers (Stuff)

It seems innocent enough: a map of the US on the inside cover of a young adult novel. The kind that teenagers would use to trace a fictional character’s journey. But a China-based printer told Kiwi publisher One Tree House that there would be a one-month production delay while the map was vetted by Chinese authorities. In order to get Brian Falkland’s Cassie Clark: Outlaw published in time to ship an Australian order, One Tree House had to get the book printed in Auckland at double the cost. It’s one example of several Stuff uncovered of publishers running into hold-ups as Chinese printers get maps checked over to ensure they adhere to Beijing policy – whether they’re textbooks or works of fiction.


Printing books in China is cheaper than in other countries, with quality and service also said to be first-rate. But Chinese printing companies are subject to censorship laws, with books combed for references that might be politically sensitive to Beijing, such as Taiwan and Tibet. One Tree House co-director Jenny Nagle, who’s also the NZ Society of Authors chief executive, said the policy meant her business had to take a cost hit when Cassie Clark: Outlaw was printed late last year. “I was surprised because it’s such an innocuous thing. It’s a simplified map showing a fictional character’s journey across America,” said Nagle. Mary Varnham, editor-in-chief at publisher Awa Press, also met with a one-month production delay during a 2018 re-print of the travel book Antarctica Cruising Guide.


Young adult novel Cassie Clark: Outlaw contains a map of the US that a Chinese printer took exception to.

Again, the offending item was a map. “The book has a map of Antarctica which doesn’t mention China at all, but it still had to go through this vetting process,” Varnham said. “I’m assuming they’re checking references to Taiwan and things, but obviously they want to check all maps.” She said it was “much more expensive” to print books in Australia or New Zealand, but the quality was also much better in China. “It’s obvious that you just wouldn’t send a book to China if it’s highly critical of China in some way, because they would definitely, I imagine, refuse to print it. So there’s a kind of self-censorship there.”

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Not bad. But Trump made his offer mostly in jest, and only when he heard Denmark had trouble meeting its obligations (whether that’s true I don’t know). Also, US congress tried to buy Greenland in 1867, and Harry Truman tried again in 1946.

Denmark Offers to Buy U.S. (Borowitz)

After rebuffing Donald J. Trump’s hypothetical proposal to purchase Greenland, the government of Denmark has announced that it would be interested in buying the United States instead. “As we have stated, Greenland is not for sale,” a spokesperson for the Danish government said on Friday. “We have noted, however, that during the Trump regime pretty much everything in the United States, including its government, has most definitely been for sale.” “Denmark would be interested in purchasing the United States in its entirety, with the exception of its government,” the spokesperson added.


A key provision of the purchase offer, the spokesperson said, would be the relocation of Donald Trump to another country “to be determined,” with Russia and North Korea cited as possible destinations. If Denmark’s bid for the United States is accepted, the Scandinavian nation has ambitious plans for its new acquisition. “We believe that, by giving the U.S. an educational system and national health care, it could be transformed from a vast land mass into a great nation,” the spokesperson said.

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Guaranteed failure. The same world’s nations want economic growth.

World’s Nations Gather To Tackle Wildlife Extinction Crisis (O.)

From giraffes to sharks, the world’s endangered species could gain better protection at an international wildlife conference. The triennial summit of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), that began on Saturday, will tackle disputes over the conservation of great beasts such as elephants and rhinos, as well as cracking down on the exploitation of unheralded but vital species such as sea cucumbers, which clean ocean floors. Extraordinary creatures being driven to extinction by the exotic pet trade, from glass frogs to star tortoises, may win extra protection from the 183-country conference. It may even see an extinct animal, the woolly mammoth, get safeguards, on the grounds that illegal elephant ivory is sometimes laundered by being labelled as antique mammoth tusks.


The glass frog is among the species being driven to extinction by the exotic pet trade. Photograph: Alamy.

Ivonne Higuero, the secretary general of Cites, said: “Cites is a powerful tool for ensuring sustainability and responding to the rapid loss of biodiversity – often called the sixth mass extinction – by preventing and reversing declines in wildlife populations.” The destruction of nature has reduced wildlife populations by 60% since 1970 and plant extinctions are running at a “frightening” rate, according to scientists. In May, the world’s leading researchers warned that humanity was in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the planet’s natural life-support systems, which provide the food, clean air and water on which society ultimately depends.

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Carol Steele “Dancing On Ice – Dalmatian Pelican” 2019. Location: Lake Kerkini, Northern Greece

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 022015
 
 February 2, 2015  Posted by at 10:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


DPC Fifth Avenue after a snow storm 1905

EU’s Juncker Wants To Scrap Troika’s Mission To Greece (Reuters)
Croatia Just Canceled The Debts Of Its Poorest Citizens (WaPo)
Greece’s Problems Result From Eurozone Having No Fiscal Policy (Guardian)
Greece Asks ECB to Keep Banks Afloat as Debt Deal Sought (Bloomberg)
Greece Wants Special ECB Help While Going ‘Cold Turkey’ on Aid (Bloomberg)
My Friend Yanis, The Greek Minister Of Finance (Steve Keen)
Obama Expresses Sympathy for New Greek Government (WSJ)
France Open to Easing Greek Debt Burden (Bloomberg)
Eurozone Alarm Grows Over Greek Bailout Brinkmanship (FT)
Syriza’s Cleaners Show Why Economics Needs A New Broom (Guardian)
Americans Are Failing To Pump Gas-Price Savings Back Into The Economy (WSJ)
Oil Workers in US on First Large-Scale Strike Since 1980 (Bloomberg)
Falling Prices Spread Pain Far Across The Oil Patch (WSJ)
Oil Companies Draw on Creative Financing to Stay Afloat (Bloomberg)
BP To Follow Shell In Cutting Spending (Guardian)
China’s Feeling the Pressure to Join Global Easing (Bloomberg)
ECB Bond-Buying Plan Has Investors Questioning How It All Works (Bloomberg)
Automakers Can’t Make Air Bags Work (Bloomberg)
Currency War Claims Another Casualty: Denmark (Bloomberg)
Is Reserve Bank of Australia The Next Central Bank To Ease? (CNBC)
US Companies Face Billions In Venezuela Currency Losses (Reuters)
Fleeing Capital Clips Wings On US Yields (CNBC)
Obama Targets Foreign Profits With Tax Proposal (Reuters)

Note that one down for Syriza. It’s the IMF that has the most detrimental impact, getting them out is a very good development.

EU’s Juncker Wants To Scrap Troika’s Mission To Greece (Reuters)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wants to scrap the troika mission from international lenders that governs Greece’s €320 billion bailout, German daily Handelsblatt reported, quoting unnamed Commission sources. “We have to find an alternative quickly,” it quoted the sources as saying, in an extract from an article released ahead of publication on Monday. Berlin was also prepared to reform arrangements between the European Commission, ECB and IMF and Athens, seen by its new government as ‘insulting’ to Greek sovereignty, and establish more general economic targets, the paper quoted unnamed German government sources as saying.

However, this would only be possible if Greece accepted the need to stick to previously agreed reform and savings targets, the business newspaper said. The new left-wing government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said it wants to end the bailout deal and will not cooperate with troika inspectors in Athens. It says it wants to negotiate directly with European authorities and the IMF over a new accord that will allow a reduction in its debt, which is equivalent to more than 175% of its gross domestic product. Juncker, who is due to meet Tsipras in Brussels on Wednesday, has said he was not prepared to accept any direct write-off of Greece’s public debt.

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More countriess should consider this. Restructuring, jubilee, call it what you want, it as old as society.

Croatia Just Canceled The Debts Of Its Poorest Citizens (WaPo)

Starting Monday, thousands of Croatia’s poorest citizens will benefit from an unusual gift: They will have their debts wiped out. Named “fresh start,” the government scheme aims to help some of the 317,000 Croatians whose bank accounts have been blocked due to their debts. Given that Croatia is a relatively small Mediterranean country of only 4.4 million inhabitants, the number of indebted citizens is significant and has become a major economic burden for the country. After six years of recession, growth predictions for Croatia’s economy remain low for this year. “We assess that this measure will be applicable to some 60,000 citizens,” Deputy Prime Minister Milanka Opacic was quoted as saying by Reuters. “Thus they will be given a chance for a new start without a burden of debt,” Opacic said earlier this month.

To be eligible, Croats need to fulfill certain criteria: Their debt must be lower than 35,000 kuna ($5,100), and their monthly income should not be higher than 1,250 kuna ($138). Those applying for the scheme are not allowed to own any property or have any savings. Among economists, the scheme is regarded as unprecedented and exceptional. “I can’t think of anything comparable,” Dean Baker at Center for Economic and Policy Research said. Although the program is expected to cost between 210 million and 2.1 billion Croatian kuna ($31 million and $300 million), according to conflicting reports by Austrian press agency APA and Reuters, the Croatian government expects economic long-term benefits that will outweigh the short-term investment.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic has convinced multiple cities, public and private companies, the country’s major telecommunications providers, as well as nine banks to clear some of their citizens of their debt. The government will not refund the companies for their losses. Overall, the debt of all Croats amounts to $4.11 billion – and the debt that is about to be wiped out accounts for about 1 to 7% of that. However, for those who are eligible the agreement will make a significant difference by enabling them to gain access to their bank accounts. By reducing debt by less than 10%, Croatia frees nearly 20% of the country’s debtors from their obligations.

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“Isn’t it the case that using Greece as a laboratory mouse for an austerity experiment has been a failure?”

Greece’s Problems Result From Eurozone Having No Fiscal Policy (Guardian)

Greece and Germany are on a collision course. Alexis Tsipras’s new Syriza-led government in Athens wants a big chunk of its debt written off. Angela Merkel is saying “nein” to that. If this were a western, Tsipras and Merkel would be the two gunslingers who have decided in time-honoured fashion that “this town ain’t big enough for the both of us”. But this isn’t Hollywood. There is no guarantee that this shootout will have a happy ending. Things look like getting nasty and messy. The five-year crisis in the eurozone has entered a dangerous new phase. How can this be? Isn’t Greece a small country, which accounts for less than 2% of the output of the European Union? Wouldn’t it be relatively easy and not particularly expensive for its creditors to write off its debts, mostly owned by governments or international bodies?

Isn’t it the case that using Greece as a laboratory mouse for an austerity experiment has been a failure? The answer to all three questions is yes. Greece is a small country. Writing off part of its debts or easing the repayment terms would be simple and painless. The obsession with deficit reduction has depressed growth not just in Greece, but in the whole of the eurozone. What’s more, the lesson from the last five years is that those countries that use the euro are paying a heavy price for the lack of a common system for transferring resources from one part of the single-currency area to another. There is one currency and one interest rate, but there is no fiscal union to stand alongside monetary union. So, unlike in the US or the UK, there is no large-scale method for recycling the taxes raised in those parts of the eurozone that are doing well into higher spending for those parts of the eurozone that are doing badly.

Mark Carney pointed out this weakness in a lecture in Dublin last week when he said: “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, if the euro were a country, fiscal policy would be substantially more supportive.” The governor of the Bank of England added that a “more constructive fiscal policy” would help mitigate the negative impact that structural reforms have on demand and would be consistent with the longer-term aim of closer integration. All this is music to the ears of Tsipras and his finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who will be in London for talks with George Osborne on Monday. Varoufakis, judging by his comments on Newsnight last week, thinks Germany should soften its approach not just because the current policy is not working but also as an act of European solidarity.

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This will not be denied.

Greece Asks ECB to Keep Banks Afloat as Debt Deal Sought (Bloomberg)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras began the hunt for allies against German demands for austerity as his week-old government appealed to the European Central Bank not to shut off the money tap. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said his country won’t take any more aid under its existing bailout agreement and wants a new deal with its official creditors by the end of May. While Greece tries to wring concessions on its debt and spending plans, it needs the ECB’s help to keep its banks afloat, Varoufakis said at a briefing in Paris late Sunday. “We’re not going to ask for any more loans,” Varoufakis said after meeting his French counterpart, Michel Sapin. “During this period, it is perfectly possible in conjunction with the ECB to establish the liquidity provisions that are necessary.”

Tsipras, who issued a statement Saturday promising to stick by Greece’s financial obligations, is seeking to repair damage after a rocky first week. Bond yields spiraled and banks stocks plummeted after German Chancellor Angela Merkel stonewalled his plans to ramp up spending and write down debt. The Greek leader visits Cyprus on Monday before trips to Rome, Paris and Brussels. He’s not scheduled to see Merkel, the biggest contributor to Greece’s financial rescue, until a EU summit on Feb. 12. Merkel wants to avoid getting drawn into a direct confrontation with Tsipras and is unlikely to agree to a face-to-face meeting with him at next week’s gathering of leaders, according to a German government official who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

The chancellor’s goal is to show Tsipras that he is isolated, the official said. What’s more, she sees little margin for maneuver on the conditions of any further support for Greece and is skeptical about Tsipras’s claims that he can raise revenue by cutting corruption and increasing taxes on the rich, the official added. “Europe will continue to show solidarity with Greece, as well as other countries particularly affected by the crisis, if these countries undertake their own reforms and savings efforts,” Merkel said in an interview with Hamburger Abendblatt published Saturday.

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“During this period, it is perfectly possible in conjunction with the ECB to establish the liquidity provisions that are necessary.”

Greece Wants Special ECB Help While Going ‘Cold Turkey’ on Aid (Bloomberg)

Greece is counting on the European Central Bank to maintain a financial lifeline while the week-old government in Athens negotiates new terms on its international bailout package, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said. While the country is “desperate” for funds, it will forgo further disbursements of emergency aid until negotiating a “new social contract” with its creditors, he said. He set an end-May deadline for reaching a deal on a revamped rescue with the euro area and the IMF. “For that period, we’re not going to ask for any more loans,” Varoufakis told reporters today in Paris after meeting French Finance Minister Michel Sapin. “During this period, it is perfectly possible in conjunction with the ECB to establish the liquidity provisions that are necessary.”

The danger for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who won power on Jan. 25 following pledges to undo more than four years of austerity tied to emergency aid, is that both the country’s banks and the government could be left without funding as soon as next month. Greece has until end-February to qualify for an aid payment of as much as €7 billion and hasn’t indicated any willingness to seek an extension. Letting the review lapse under Greece’s €240 billion aid program could result in its banks effectively being excluded from ECB liquidity operations while the government is still shut out of international bond markets. At the moment, Greece has a special dispensation from the ECB because the country is considered to be complying with the bailout pact. That means its debt can be used in central-bank refinancing operations even though it is rated junk.

“There will be no surprises if we find out that a country is below that rating and there’s no longer a program that that waiver disappears,” ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio said at an event in Cambridge, England, on Saturday. Varoufakis, whose Paris visit was the first of a series of trips to European cities to press his case, said he intends travel to Frankfurt to seek support for Greek banks from the ECB while a political accord on an aid overhaul is negotiated with the euro area and the IMF. He’s scheduled to see British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in London tomorrow. A revamped rescue for Greece, where unemployment is more than 25%, would address a “humanitarian crisis,” the need for investment and the country’s debt mountain of about 180% of gross domestic product, he said. “What this government is all about is ending the addiction” to funds that are tied to demands for austerity, Varoufakis said. The government is willing to “go cold turkey for a while, while we’re deliberating,” he said.

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Steve paints a nice protrait.

My Friend Yanis, The Greek Minister Of Finance (Steve Keen)

I first met Yanis Varoufakis when he was a senior lecturer (the 3rd step in the 5-tiered Australian system, equivalent to a Professor in the USA) at Sydney University in the late 1980s, and I was a tutor (the 1st step) at the University of New South Wales. We’ve been friends ever since, and now he has become globally prominent as the Finance Minister of the most troubled and high profile economy on the planet, Greece. Yanis the man as well as Yanis the economist will come under intense scrutiny and pressure from the media and other politicians now. Much of this will have the intention of either cutting him down, or turning the dilemmas he faces in his serious role into a source of media entertainment. I want to describe the man and economist I know with neither objective in mind.

I’ll start with the man—since without doubt the first attacks on him will focus on his character rather than his intellect. Very few people make so strong an impression on you at first meeting that, decades later, you can still vividly remember the meeting itself. Yanis had such an impact. I went to attend a seminar at Sydney University where Yanis was the presenter. Most academic seminars are dull affairs; despite the fact that being an academic involves effectively being on stage, very few academics actually have stage presence. They will mumble, look around evasively, wander about talking as if in a madman’s monologue, or talk to their slides rather than the audience in what has rightly been called “Death By Powerpoint”. Yanis, in contrast, filled the stage as soon as he began to speak, engaged the audience with direct eye contact, and spoke like an orator rather than a mere academic.

His face also had a perennial wry smile to it, and his presentation included plenty as ironic humour as he pulled apart the conventional wisdom in his own field. That humour – and the penchant for oratorical expression – proved to be intimate aspects of his persona, as well as a general warmth and generosity of spirit towards humanity. Backing that generosity up is substantial strength – physical as well as intellectual and emotional. He can be angered by misanthropic individuals, as I can, but in confrontation with them he will attack their intellectual pretensions rather than the individuals themselves. This is reading like a hagiography, but only because Yanis is a genuinely good man. This was manifested in how he has reacted to the toughest experience in his life: having his daughter taken to Sydney against his will in 2005 by his Australian partner, after his return to Greece in 2000.

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Angela will not be amused.

Obama Expresses Sympathy for New Greek Government (WSJ)

President Barack Obama expressed sympathy for the new Greek government as it seeks to rollback its strict bailout regime, saying there are limits to how far its European creditors can press Athens to repay its debts while restructuring the economy. “You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression. At some point there has to be a growth strategy in order for them to pay off their debts to eliminate some of their deficits,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria aired Sunday. He said Athens needs to restructure its economy to boost its competitiveness, “but it’s very hard to initiate those changes if people’s standards of livings are dropping by 25%. Over time, eventually the political system, the society can’t sustain it.” Mr. Obama expressed hope that an agreement would be reached so Greece can stay in the eurozone, saying, “I think that will require compromise on all sides.”

The comments come as Athens’s new antiausterity government begins a push this month to convince eurozone countries to ease the terms under which it received large international financial rescues in recent years. Options include reducing Greece’s budget constraints and debt-service burdens. Relations between Greece and the rest of the eurozone have been rocky since the left-wing Syriza party won Greek elections on Jan. 25. “More broadly, I’m concerned about growth in Europe, ” he added. He said fiscal prudence and structural changes are important in many eurozone countries, but “what we’ve learned in the U.S. experience…is that the best way to reduce deficits and to restore fiscal soundness is to grow. And when you have an economy that is in a free-fall there has to be a growth strategy and not simply the effort to squeeze more and more from a population that is hurting worse and worse.”

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Big opening.

France Open to Easing Greek Debt Burden (Bloomberg)

France is ready to offer Greece concessions on its debt to help the country’s new government revive its economy, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said. The French government is willing to discuss ways to ease Greece’s financial burden including extending the maturity of its debt, Sapin said Sunday in an interview with Canal Plus television before meeting with his Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis. He ruled out a full write-off and said the French government’s total exposure to Greece is €42 billion. “They say we cancel it, we just cancel it – no,” Sapin said. “We can discuss, we can postpone, we can alleviate. But we won’t cancel it.” The comments may offer encouragement to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who begins a tour of European capitals tomorrow as he seeks support for a plan to ease the country’s debt burden to help him pay for a program of public spending to boost gross domestic product.

Tsipras said Saturday that Greece would repay its debts to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, leaving the focus of any debt reduction on the other euro-area governments. Varoufakis appointed Lazard as adviser on issues related to public debt and fiscal management on Saturday. “There is a range of possible solutions: extending the maturities, lowering interests rates, and the much more radical solution, the haircut,” Matthieu Pigasse, the head of Lazard’s Paris office who has advised Greece in the past, said in a Jan. 30 interview on BFM Business television. “If we could cut the debt by 50%” he said, “it would allow Greece to return to a reasonable debt to GDP ratio.” He said Greece’s debt to public creditors was about €200 billion. “That people in Greece say ‘we need a bit of air’ I can understand that,” Sapin said. “It’s legitimate for them to say we want to discuss how we can lower the weight of this debt.”

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The FT, on the side of the banks, tries to spread the fear, but “The finance chief said Athens would make proposals within a month for a “new contract” with the euro zone, which would be in place by the end of May.”

Eurozone Alarm Grows Over Greek Bailout Brinkmanship (FT)

Eurozone officials are increasingly worried that Greece’s brinkmanship over its bailout will plunge the country into financial chaos after its finance minister said on Sunday that it would take up to four months to agree a “new contract” with creditors. Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s newly appointed finance minister, said Athens would reject any further loans under its international rescue plan, despite Greece’s €172bn bailout expiring at the end of the month. He also said he expected the ECB to prop up the country’s weakened banking system until a longer-term settlement could be reached. Mr Varoufakis said Greece had been living for the next loan tranche for the past five years. “We have resembled drug addicts craving the next dose. What this government is all about is ending the addiction,” he said, noting it was time to go “cold turkey”.

His comments on Sunday underscored the fears of euro zone officials that the Greek government was unaware of the precariousness of its financial situation. “Everybody [in the euro zone] wants a deal,” said one senior euro zone official. “But through their actions and their rhetoric, the new government is making a lot of people upset. They are putting themselves in an impossible situation.” Mr Varoufakis was speaking in Paris on the first leg of a European tour intended to garner support for a renegotiation of its debt burden. Greece’s anti-austerity government roiled markets during a tumultuous first week in power with 40% being wiped off the value of Greek banks following announcements to reverse spending cuts and privatizations.

Despite a more emollient tone from Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s radical left-wing prime minister, over the weekend, EU officials have been dismayed by Athens’ repeated rejection of a bailout extension — and refusal to co-operate with the troika of international creditors. German officials were also irritated at its refusal to engage with Berlin, although Mr Varoufakis said he had now been invited to the German capital. The finance chief said Athens would make proposals within a month for a “new contract” with the euro zone, which would be in place by the end of May. “We are not going to ask for any loans during this period. It is perfectly possible to establish liquidity provisions with the ECB.”

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The role of women.

Syriza’s Cleaners Show Why Economics Needs A New Broom (Guardian)

Among the most uplifting images from Syriza’s victory in Greece last week were the elated faces of a small group of fiercely determined women: the public sector cleaners who were laid off during the country’s brutal budget cuts and had been told they would be swiftly re-hired by the new government. The fate of a few low-paid mop operatives is a world away from the cut and thrust of international negotiations on debt relief for Greece. Yet it has so often been the fate of working-class women – standing in the bread queues, scrabbling to feed their families, laid off in their droves in the public sector job cuts mandated by the country’s troika of creditors – that has best illustrated the despair to which many in the recession-ravaged country have been driven.

Syriza had promised that “hope is coming”, injecting the language of emotion into dry debates about deficits and debt repayments. It remains to be seen how successful they will be in the high-stakes negotiation they must now enter with their eurozone partners, under the minute-by-minute scrutiny of the financial markets. But the party’s triumph – and the cleaning women’s plight – underlines the fact that economics is about not just the state of the public finances (improving, in Greece’s case) or GDP (on the up), but raw human experience in homes and families. One lesson from the crises that have roiled the eurozone over the past five-plus years is that anyone who tells you the only response to a public debt crisis is to slash spending and embark on “structural reform” is either masochistic or downright mad.

But we could take a more profound lesson away too, which so far most economists have failed to learn from the Great Recession and its long-drawn-out aftermath: the individualistic, neoliberal perspective on the world that bleaches out humanity in favour of equations needs to be junked too. Margaret Thatcher’s promise in 1979, “where there is despair, let us bring hope”, may have prefigured Syriza’s language, but her arrival in No 10 marked the start of an era in which we have increasingly come to see ourselves as “aspirational”, atomised individuals, scrabbling to make our way in a world without the support of the society Thatcher notoriously dismissed.

This approach was underpinned and apparently vindicated by the proliferation of economic models that conceived of people as cool, rational, drastically simplified robots who beetle around trying to maximise their utility. The market became seen as the ultimate expression of this calculating rationality, and its values – competition, self-interest, even greed – as the fundamental driving forces of life. Behavioural economists have spiced up this dull world with concepts such as irrational exuberance, helping to explain why even financial markets – supposedly the embodiment of hardnosed rationality – can experience moments of madness. And others show why the qualifier ceteris paribus – “all things being equal” – that always applies to these elegant mathematical constructions is a nonsense, because all things are never, ever equal.

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Economists are incapable of getting their head around the possibility that people may simply not have anything to spend.

Americans Are Failing To Pump Gas-Price Savings Back Into The Economy (WSJ)

Americans are taking the money they are saving at the gas pump and socking it away, a sign of consumers’ persistent caution even when presented with an unexpected windfall. This newfound commitment to frugality was illustrated this past week when the nation’s biggest payment-card companies said they aren’t seeing evidence consumers are putting their gasoline savings toward discretionary items like travel, home renovations and electronics. Instead, people are more often putting the money aside for a rainy day or using it to pay down debt. That more Americans are saving their bounty at the pump comes as a surprise, because the personal savings rate, after rising during and after the recession, has declined steadily over the past two years. “We haven’t seen the extra savings from lower gas prices translate into additional discretionary consumer spending,” said MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga on a conference call Friday.

The new data are perhaps the best indication to date that the pain of the recession remains fresh in the minds of many Americans, even as the economy picks up steam. The Commerce Department said Friday that the U.S. economy grew at a 2.6% annual rate in the fourth quarter. Personal consumption expenditures rose 4.3% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the last three months of 2014, representing the biggest increase since the first quarter of 2006. Also on Friday, the University of Michigan said consumer sentiment in January reached its highest level in 11 years. The closely watched index has increased in each of the past six months, rising 20% since July. But that positive outlook doesn’t mean consumers feel emboldened to splurge with their savings at the pump, and card-company executives said spending growth would have been higher if consumers had put their gas savings toward more big-ticket items rather than savings.

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“They continue to value production and profit over health and safety, workers and the community.”

Oil Workers in US on First Large-Scale Strike Since 1980 (Bloomberg)

The United Steelworkers union, which represents employees at more than 200 U.S. oil refineries, terminals, pipelines and chemical plants, began a strike at nine sites on Sunday, the biggest walkout called since 1980. The USW started the work stoppage after failing to reach agreement on a labor contract that expired Sunday, saying in a statement that it “had no choice.” The union rejected five contract offers made by Royal Dutch Shell Plc on behalf of oil companies including Exxon Mobil and Chevron since negotiations began on Jan. 21. The steelworkers’ union hasn’t called a strike nationally since 1980, when a stoppage lasted three months. A full walkout of USW workers would threaten to disrupt as much as 64% of U.S. fuel production. Shell and union representatives began negotiations amid the biggest collapse in U.S. oil prices since 2008.

“The problem is that oil companies are too greedy to make a positive change in the workplace,” USW International Vice President Tom Conway said in the statement. “They continue to value production and profit over health and safety, workers and the community.” Ray Fisher, a spokesman for Shell, said by e-mail on Saturday that the company remained “committed to resolving our differences with USW at the negotiating table and hope to resume negotiations as early as possible.” The USW asked employers for “substantial” pay increases, stronger rules to prevent fatigue and measures to keep union workers rather than contract employees on the job, Gary Beevers, the USW international vice president who manages the union’s oil sector, said in an interview in Pittsburgh in October.

The refineries called on to strike span the U.S., from Tesoro’s plants in Martinez, California; Carson, California; and Anacortes, Washington, to Marathon’s Catlettsburg complex in Kentucky to three sites in Texas, according to the USW’s statement. The sites in Texas are Shell’s Deer Park complex, Marathon’s Galveston Bay plant and LyondellBasell’s Houston facility, according to union. The walkout also includes Marathon’s Houston Green cogeneration plant in Texas and Shell’s Deer Park chemical plant. The refineries on strike can produce 1.82 million barrels of fuel a day, about 10% of total U.S. capacity, data compiled by Bloomberg show. “There will be a knee-jerk reaction in gasoline and diesel prices because we don’t know how long this is going to be or how extended it might be,” Carl Larry, director of oil and gas at Frost & Sullivan, said. “It’ll be bearish for crude, but we’ve already accounted for a lot of the fact that refineries are maintenance.”

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“Cutbacks aren’t yet reflected in broad data on employment, home sales or tax collections. For example, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says that employment in oil and gas extraction rose in December to 216,100, the highest level since 1986.”

Falling Prices Spread Pain Far Across The Oil Patch (WSJ)

Rumor became reality here last week when dozens of workers lost their jobs at Laredo. The Oklahoma-based energy outfit said it closed its regional office to cope with plunging oil prices. The layoffs were “kind of like a death in the family,” says Robert Silver, age 62, a geophysicist who had helped Laredo decide where to drill in the Permian Basin in West Texas. Trouble has been looming over the oil patch since crude prices began falling last summer, from over $100 a barrel to under $50 today. But only now are the long-feared effects of a bust starting to ripple through the complex energy ecosystem, affecting Houston executives, California landowners and oil old-timers in Oklahoma. Many big energy companies have said they plan to slash billions of dollars in spending along with thousands of jobs; energy giant ConocoPhillips told employees Thursday to expect a salary freeze and layoffs.

Indicators like drilling permits in Texas have fallen sharply. Cutbacks aren’t yet reflected in broad data on employment, home sales or tax collections. For example, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says that employment in oil and gas extraction rose in December to 216,100, the highest level since 1986. But fallout is beginning to affect people, starting with the legions working as suppliers to the energy industry. Eric Herschap is COO at Exclusive Energy a private company in Orange Grove, Texas, that offers services, including equipment rentals, to exploration companies. His customers are demanding price cuts of 15% to 25%, and Exclusive offers additional discounts beyond that, he says. So the company laid off 10 of its 45 employees and is cutting bonuses for those who remain. Mr. Herschap says his brightest engineers are now fielding phone calls from customers with technical questions.

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Casino.

Oil Companies Draw on Creative Financing to Stay Afloat (Bloomberg)

North America’s small and mid-sized energy companies are searching for creative ways to stay afloat as investors smell blood in the water from the almost 60 percent fall in the price of oil since June. Oil and natural gas companies are straining for solutions before cuts in credit lines and increases in lending rates hit home in April, when banks re-price the collateral used to secure revolving credit lines. Some are turning to more creative forms of financing as familiar sources of money dry up. That financing is coming from hedge funds, private equity shops and mega-wealthy investors like billionaire Carl Icahn who have the cash to weather a prolonged downturn and are on the hunt for deals among the wounded, bankers and analysts say. Oil operators, meanwhile, are laying off staff, freezing salaries and deferring investments to conserve cash.

“Companies have lived in a state of outspending cash flow, and the markets have facilitated that,” said Gregory Sommer at Deutsche Bank “But if prices persist at this level, you’re going to see some companies pulling back significantly” more than they already have. Eclipse turned to private equity investors in December after the cost to issue unsecured debt to fund capital spending became prohibitively expensive, according to Matthew DeNezza, the company’s chief financial officer. “Traditional, high-yield debt markets were not available” at reasonable prices, DeNezza said in a telephone interview. “The debt markets were closed to us.” Shares of the driller have fallen by 77% since it raised $818 million in its initial public offering on June 20, when U.S. oil prices were $107 a barrel.

In a deal announced three days before the new year, Eclipse sold $325 million in additional equity to its largest investor, EnCap Investments, and brought in extra money from private-equity firm KKR & Co. to help fund drilling operations in 2015, DeNezza said. Private equity investors, he said, can look past the market turmoil and “take a longer term view of what these assets are really worth.” The firms have already raised $15 billion for general energy investing in recent years. Carlyle Group LP, Apollo Global Management LLC, Blackstone Group LP and KKR are raising billions more for new funds created in the past few months to invest in distressed oil producers.

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As staff gets fired, “Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive, is expected to further sweeten the pill for investors by making no changes to the dividend..”

BP To Follow Shell In Cutting Spending (Guardian)

BP will on Tuesday unveil plans to slash billions of pounds off its capital spending programme in a bid to counter the impact of plunging oil prices and a 40% fall in its fourth quarter profits. The company, which has already cut hundreds of jobs in Aberdeen and thousands around the world, is expected to announce spending reductions of over 10% bringing the official target below $22bn for 2015. Bob Dudley, BP’s chief executive, is expected to further sweeten the pill for investors by making no changes to the dividend while not making any further specific redundancies. BP said in December that it was taking a $1bn charge to pay for restructuring – almost all for job cuts – and has since made local announcements about new staffing levels in Houston, Trinidad and Azerbaijan. The latest cost-reductions come as BP is expected to report profits of around $1.5bn for the last three months of its financial year.

Peers such as Shell will reduce expenditure by $15bn over the next three years, Chevron is to cut 13% of spending to $35bn after reporting a 30% plunge in final quarter earnings, while ConocoPhillips slashed its capital expenditure by 33% to $11.5bn. ExxonMobil, the world’s largest quoted oil company, will also unveil its strategy for dealing with a Brent blend oil prices which has fallen to around $50 a barrel from $115 in June last year. BP’s previous target was to spend between $24bn and $25bn in 2014 although the final outturn for the year was expected to have already fallen to $23bn and the company is now expected to try to ensure the official target in 2015 is even lower. The company is particularly vulnerable to lower commodity prices because it is still suffering financially from ongoing fallout from the Deepwater Horizon accident of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico and from its risky investments in Russia.

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As if it hasn’t yet?!

China’s Feeling the Pressure to Join Global Easing (Bloomberg)

The case for China to join the latest wave of global monetary easing has increased, with a manufacturing gauge signaling the first contraction in more than two years. The government’s Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 49.8 last month from 50.1 in December, missing the median estimate of 50.2 in a Bloomberg survey of analysts and below the 50 level separating expansion and contraction. The slide follows the biggest weekly stock market drop in a year and fiscal data that showed the weakest revenue growth since 1991. Central banks from the euro zone to Canada and Singapore last month added monetary stimulus as slumping oil prices damp the outlook for inflation and global momentum outside the U.S. moderates.

China’s central bank, which cut interest rates in November for the first time in two years, has since added liquidity in targeted measures rather than with follow-up rate reductions or cuts to banks’ required reserve ratios. “We expect such data will weaken further and push the government to take further easing actions,” said Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist at Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong. Zhang and Lu Ting of Bank of America have been among economists who said the People’s Bank of China would delay lowering banks’ RRRs for risk of stoking an equities bubble. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell for a fifth day and was 2% lower at 10:17 local time. The yuan weakened.

Seasonal reasons, falling commodity prices, and weak domestic and international demand caused the decline in manufacturing PMI, Zhao Qinghe, senior statistician at NBS, said in a statement on the bureau’s website. Most sub-indexes fell, including new orders and new export orders. The sub-index of raw material purchasing prices decreased to 41.9, the lowest in at least a year, on the decline in commodity prices “China’s manufacturing sector is still facing de-leveraging pressure,” said Liu Li-Gang, head of Greater China economics at Australia & New Zealand Bank in Hong Kong. “Deflation in the manufacturing sector continues and the destocking process has not yet completed.”

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In the end, it’s all just words. ‘Whatever it takes’ worked wonders too, after all.

ECB Bond-Buying Plan Has Investors Questioning How It All Works (Bloomberg)

Mario Draghi’s trillion-euro puzzle is missing some key pieces. When the European Central Bank president announced a program on Jan. 22 to buy €60 billion of assets a month for at least 19 months to avert deflation, he surprised investors with the size of the stimulus. He also provided more details than anticipated. Yet analysts poring over the ECB’s statements are finding that several critical points remain unclear. “The ECB had to present a lot of details right from the beginning as they wouldn’t have been credible without them,” said Johannes Gareis at Natixis. “What is missing somewhat is the fine print, which might have quite an impact on the implementation.” Here’s what the ECB has and hasn’t revealed about Europe-style quantitative easing.

What will the asset mix be? The ECB’s monthly spending will include its existing programs to buy covered bonds and asset-backed securities. Of the added purchases, Draghi said 12% will be debt issued by European Union institutions and agencies, and the rest will be government bonds. The question is: how much does the ECB envisage spending on each type of asset? Draghi also said officials will buy bonds with maturities from 2 years to 30 years, without specifying an average target that could affect yield curves and borrowing costs. And while the central bank said eligible debt includes inflation-linked bonds, floating-rate notes and securities with a negative yield, it hasn’t given any indication of what the breakdown of purchases might be.

How transparent will the purchasing be? The ECB hasn’t said much about the mechanics of QE. When it bought sovereign debt from 2010 to 2012 under its now-halted, and far smaller, Securities Markets Program, it dipped into the market without prior announcement. ABS and covered-bond purchases are carried out by external asset managers. Those strategies contrast with the Federal Reserve, which issued a calendar for when it would make purchases under its QE programs and what type of securities it would buy. A public calendar would “ensure greater transparency and minimize market distortion,” said Riccardo Barbieri Hermitte at Mizuho in London.

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More recalls than sales.

Automakers Can’t Make Air Bags Work (Bloomberg)

U.S. regulators’ push for a second recall of 2.1 million cars and trucks whose air bags could go off while driving delivered more cautionary tales about a complex life-saving technology that’s had a very bad year. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration held an unusual Saturday press briefing to warn the public that an earlier recall of nine models from Fiat Chrysler, Honda and Toyota didn’t work entirely. The agency is asking vehicle owners who haven’t completed the first repair to do so now. That may mean a second trip to the dealership for consumers, assuming replacement parts for the new fix are available, which they may not be until year-end.

Added to the mix: Some of the cars being recalled for a second time were part of last year’s massive 10-automaker recall of Takata air bags for a different defect: inflators that could explode with deadly results. “If you own an affected vehicle, this means driving around with the knowledge your air bag might still randomly deploy,” said Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “And just to keep it interesting, some of these vehicles are equipped with Takata air bags, meaning the random deployment could include metal shrapnel. What a mess.” It’s the biggest challenge to the technology since the mid-1990s, when NHTSA began investigating reports that first-generation air bags deployed with such force that children and small adults riding in front seats were being killed and, in some cases, decapitated.

“TRW is supporting its customers in these recalls fully, and will cooperate with NHTSA and provide information to the agency if requested,” John Wilkerson, a spokesman for TRW, said in an e-mailed statement. About 1 million of the Honda and Toyota vehicles listed on Saturday were previously recalled for defective Takata air bags, the agency said. “This is unfortunately a complicated issue for consumers, who may have to return to their dealer more than once,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “But this is an urgent safety issue, and all consumers with vehicles covered by the previous recalls should have that remedy installed.” General Motors recalled at least 7 million vehicles in North America last year to fix faulty ignition switches that could cut power and disable air bags.

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“At some point, Denmark may well decide the fight isn’t worth it.”

Currency War Claims Another Casualty: Denmark (Bloomberg)

After half a decade of growing ever sleepier, the currency market has started the year with its most volatile period since 2011. As the victims of the Swiss franc detonation lick their wounds, Denmark is battling to avoid its krone becoming the next victim of the global currency wars, wielding a combination of negative interest rates plus market interventions to sell its own currency plus scrapping government bond sales as it defends its peg to the euro. I’ve seen this movie before; it never ends well. Denmark sprang a rate-cut surprise last week; the central bank will now charge you 0.5% for the privilege of having kroner on deposit. The bank’s third easing in less than two weeks came after it spent as much as 100 billion kroner ($15 billion) this month trying to weaken its currency, according to estimates by Scandinavian lender Svenska Handelsbanken. Taking on traders is an expensive business.

The Swiss National Bank reminded us a fortnight ago that nothing is ever truly sacred in financial markets, abandoning its cap to the euro just days after declaring the policy sacrosanct. Since then, keeping the Danish krone close to a central rate against the euro of 7.46 – the official wiggle room is a 2.25% corridor around that level, the actual room for maneuver has been more like 1% – has kept the central bank’s trading desk busy. The central bank shocks have certainly come thick and fast this year, from the European Central Bank finally getting religion on quantitative easing, to the Federal Reserve adding “international developments” to its list of metrics to watch, to the deployment of negative official interest rates as a deterrent to speculators. No wonder overall volatility in foreign exchange has spiked higher.

The genesis of the present currency war is the desire of every country for a weaker currency to boost exports and growth. That, of course, can’t happen, any more than you can mix heavy-metal music by making everything louder than everything else. So far, Denmark is a casualty of these wars, wounded but still in the fight. Economists are betting, though, that it will need to drive interest rates even further into negative territory to prevent speculators from bidding up the currency, which effectively punishes the nation’s savers. At some point, Denmark may well decide the fight isn’t worth it.

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Yes.

Is Reserve Bank of Australia The Next Central Bank To Ease? (CNBC)

Speculation is high that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will be the next central bank to ease monetary policy at its meeting this week following a month of surprise policy changes across the globe. January saw unexpected loosening measures from a handful of central banks including Denmark, India and Singapore against a backdrop of increasing deflationary pressures as crude oil prices continue their descent. “Judging by price action in the market, there is a real belief the RBA are going to join New Zealand, Europe, Denmark, Switzerland and Canada in easing policy,” said Chris Weston, chief market analyst at IG in a note last week, adding that swaps markets are now pricing a 65% chance of a rate cut.

The RBA has held rates at 2.5% since August 2013. Many analysts expect the RBA to announce a 25 basis-point interest rate cut at Tuesday’s policy meeting to tackle 6% unemployment and sliding iron ore prices, one of the country’s biggest exports. Comments by Australian journalist Terry McCrann last week that a rate cut is “almost certain” heightened expectations, sending the Australian dollar to fresh five-and-a-half year lows at 77.22 U.S. cents on Friday. McCrann, a long-time RBA watcher, reasoned that the RBA will forecast inflation to be lower than the mid-point of its 2-3% target range, opening the way for further easing.

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“The official rate is at 6.3 bolivars to the dollar… The black market rate, though, was at about 190 bolivars to the dollar on Sunday..”

US Companies Face Billions In Venezuela Currency Losses (Reuters)

At least 40 major U.S. companies have substantial exposure to Venezuela’s deepening economic crisis, and could collectively be forced to take billions of dollars of write downs, a Reuters analysis shows. The companies, all members of the S&P 500, and including some of the biggest names in Corporate America such as autos giant General Motors and drug maker Merck, together carry at least $11 billion of monetary assets in the Venezuelan currency, the bolivar, on their books. The official rate is at 6.3 bolivars to the dollar and there are two other rates in the government system – known as SICAD 1 and SICAD 2 – at about 12 and 50. The black market rate, though, was at about 190 bolivars to the dollar on Sunday, according to the website dolartoday.com.

The problem is that the dollar value of the assets as disclosed in many of the companies’ accounts is based on either the rates at 6.3 or 12 and only a limited number of transactions are allowed at those rates. The assets would be worth a lot fewer dollars at the 50 rate in the government system and the dollar value would almost be wiped out at the black market rate. The currency system is also about to be shaken up following an announcement by Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Jan. 21, leading to fears of a further devaluation. American companies will also have additional exposure to the bolivar that isn’t disclosed because they don’t see the size of that exposure as material to their results. The Reuters analysis also doesn’t look at the thousands of publicly traded and private American companies that aren’t in the S&P 500 and will in some cases have bolivar assets.

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Bring home the buck.

Fleeing Capital Clips Wings On US Yields (CNBC)

The relentless fall in longer term U.S. Treasury yields doesn’t signal declining U.S. inflation expectations, but instead is a side effect of funds fleeing low yields elsewhere, say analysts. “Yields of U.S. Treasury’s have actually become increasingly appealing relative to those of government bonds in other developed countries,” Capital Economics Chief Markets Economist John Higgins said in a note published last week. “Increased appetite from overseas investors” have contributed – along with the now-phased out asset purchases by the Federal Reserve and extra demand from banks in response to the launch of Basel 3 – to the downward pressure on U.S. Treasury yields, he said. At the longer end, 10-year Treasury yields broke below the key 1.7% level and closed at 1.6329%.

The 10-year Treasury’s are just a tad off levels seen in early March 2013, before the Fed first broached the idea that it would begin tapering its purchases of Treasury’s, a process it completed in October of last year. The 30-year was seen at 2.2229%, close to a record low. In comparison, massive central bank bond purchase operations in Japan and Europe have sent yields tumbling, especially in Germany and Japan, where they are still hovering around record lows: the 10-year German bund yields just 0.304% and the 10-year Japanese Government Bonds (JGB) are at 0.290%. At the 30-year end, German yields are at 0.887% and its Japanese equivalent at 1.280%. Another central bank joined in two weeks ago – yields on Swiss government bonds sunk into the negative after a surprise rate cut and scrapping of its currency peg to the euro.

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“Given Washington’s current political division, much of what will be laid out on Monday is unlikely to become law.”

Obama Targets Foreign Profits With Tax Proposal (Reuters)

President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget will seek new taxes on trillions of dollars in profits accumulated overseas by U.S. companies, and a new approach to taxing foreign profits in the future, but Republicans were skeptical of the plan on Sunday. Reviving a long-running debate about corporate tax avoidance, Obama will target a loophole that lets companies pay no tax on earnings held abroad, the White House said. But his proposal was certain to encounter stiff resistance from Republicans. In his budget plan to be unveiled on Monday, Obama will call for a one-time, 14% tax on an estimated $2.1 trillion in profits piled up abroad over the years by multinationals such as General Electric, Microsoft, Pfizer and Apple.

He will also seek to impose a 19% tax on U.S. companies’ future foreign earnings, the White House said. At present, those earnings are supposed to be taxed at a 35-percent rate, but many companies avoid that through the loophole that defers taxation on active income that is not brought into the United States, or repatriated. The $238 billion raised from the one-time tax would fund repairs and improvements to roads, bridges, transit systems and freight networks that would replenish the Highway Trust Fund as part of a $478 billion package, the White House said. The annual budget proposal is as much a political document as a fiscal roadmap, requiring approval from Congress. Given Washington’s current political division, much of what will be laid out on Monday is unlikely to become law.

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Jan 202015
 
 January 20, 2015  Posted by at 10:44 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


DPC The steamer Cincinnati off Manhattan 1900

IMF Lowers Global Growth Forecast by Most in Three Years (Bloomberg)
Chinese Growth at 7.4% Is the Slowest Since 1990 (Bloomberg)
China’s $20 Trillion Headache Underscored by Stock Swings (Bloomberg)
Warning! Volatility May Await If ECB Launches QE (CNBC)
Draghi Weighs QE Compromise Showcasing Unity Shortfall (Bloomberg)
Endgame for Central Bankers (Steen Jakobsen)
Denmark Strikes Back at Speculators and Burnishes Peg Defenses (Bloomberg)
Denmark Should Cut Loose From Euro (Bloomberg)
Swiss Upending Polish Mortgages Unnerves Bank Bondholders (Bloomberg)
Iraq Back From The Brink With Largest Oil Output Since 1979 (CNBC)
Price Collapse Hits Scavengers Who Scrape the Bottom of Big Oil (Bloomberg)
The Keystone XL Pipeline (Energy Matters)
A Huge Credit Line Reset Looms Over Oil Drillers (Bloomberg)
Janjuah On 2015: Oil At $30; Bonds To Go Crazy (CNBC)
U.S. Won’t Intervene in Oil Market (Bloomberg)
Saudi Arabia Can Last Eight Years On Low Oil Prices (Guardian)
Europe ‘Faces Political Earthquakes’ (BBC)
If The Fed Has Nothing To Hide, It Has Nothing To Fear (Ron Paul)
A Solemn Pause (Jim Kunstler)
Whiplash! (Dmitry Orlov)
Why New Zealand Can Handle Europe, Oil Troubles (CNBC)
Bleak Future For Retirees As Savings Slashed (CNBC)
Disease Threat To Wild Bees from Commercial Bees (BBC)

All that’s wrong, put in just a few words: “We want to make sure that when there’s an announcement, that it’s as large as what the market’s expecting.” The ECB should do what’s good for people, not what markets expect. That’s insiduous.

IMF Lowers Global Growth Forecast by Most in Three Years (Bloomberg)

The IMF made the steepest cut to its global-growth outlook in three years, with diminished expectations almost everywhere except the U.S. more than offsetting the boost to expansion from lower oil prices. The world economy will grow 3.5% in 2015, down from the 3.8% pace projected in October, the IMF said in its quarterly global outlook released late Monday. The lender also cut its estimate for growth next year to 3.7%, compared with 4% in October. The weakness, along with prolonged below-target inflation, is challenging policy makers across Europe and Asia to come up with fresh ways to stimulate demand more than six years after the global financial crisis.

“The world economy is facing strong and complex cross currents,” Olivier Blanchard, the IMF’s chief economist, said in the text of remarks at a press briefing Tuesday in Beijing. “On the one hand, major economies are benefiting from the decline in the price of oil. On the other, in many parts of the world, lower long-run prospects adversely affect demand, resulting in a strong undertow.” The IMF cut its outlook for consumer-price gains in advanced economies almost in half to 1% for 2015. Developing economies will see inflation this year of 5.7%, a 0.1 percentage point markup from October’s projections, the fund said. The growth-forecast reduction was the biggest since January 2012, when the fund lowered its estimate for expansion that year to 3.3% from 4% amid forecasts of a recession in Europe.

The IMF marked down 2015 estimates for places including the euro area, Japan, China and Latin America. The deepest reductions were in places suffering from crises, such as Russia, or for oil exporters including Saudi Arabia. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde outlined the sobering outlook in her first speech of the year last week, saying that oil prices and U.S. growth “are not a cure for deep-seated weaknesses elsewhere.” The U.S. is the exception. The IMF upgraded its forecast for the world’s largest economy to 3.6% growth in 2015, up from 3.1% in October. Cheap oil, more moderate fiscal tightening and still-loose monetary policy will offset the effects of a gradual increase in interest rates and the curb on exports from a stronger dollar, the fund said.

In Europe, weaker investment will overshadow the benefits of low oil prices, a cheaper currency and the European Central Bank’s anticipated move to expand monetary stimulus by buying sovereign bonds, according to the IMF. The fund lowered its forecast for the 19-nation euro area to 1.2% this year, down from 1.3% in October. The ECB should go “all in” in its bond-buying program, Blanchard said on Bloomberg TV. “We want to make sure that when there’s an announcement, that it’s as large as what the market’s expecting.”

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Why anyone would believe numbers like these is beyond me.

Chinese Growth at 7.4% Is the Slowest Since 1990 (Bloomberg)

China’s stimulus efforts began kicking in late last year, boosting industrial production and retail sales, and helping full-year economic growth come close to the government’s target. Gross domestic product rose 7.3% in the three months through December from a year earlier, compared with the median estimate of 7.2% in a Bloomberg News survey. GDP expanded 7.4% in 2014, the slowest pace since 1990 and in line with the government’s target of about 7.5%. The yuan and local stocks advanced after the release. A soft landing for China would help a global economy contending with weakness that spurred the IMF’s steepest cut to its world growth outlook in three years.

China’s central bank cut interest rates for the first time in two years in November and has added liquidity in targeted steps to buoy demand. “The economy’s performance in 2014 stands out against the widespread hard-landing fears that prevailed early last year,” said Tim Condon at ING in Singapore. “That the authorities were able to sustain close-to-target growth and increase the tempo of economic reforms –- shadow banking, local government finances -– and sustain the property-cooling measures demonstrates the effectiveness of the targeted measures.” “Markets should breathe a sigh of relief as the economy enters 2015 in a better shape than had been expected,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk at Credit Agricole in Hong Kong.

“The data lowers the need for further stimulus, but there remains some room for easing as risks are skewed to the downside.” [..] Quarter-on-quarter, China’s performance was less robust, slowing to 1.5% growth in the three months through December from 1.9% in the third quarter. “Growth momentum eased in the fourth quarter from the previous three months due to property-related weakness,” said Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS Group AG in Hong Kong. “Property starts deepened their decline, which also dragged down heavy industry and related investment. Property will continue to drag down growth this year.”

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China imitates the west: “Funds aren’t flowing into economic activities on the ground. Instead, people are adding leverage to speculate.”

China’s $20 Trillion Headache Underscored by Stock Swings (Bloomberg)

For China’s central bank, the 36% stock market rally through Jan. 16 spurred in part by a surprise November interest-rate cut is the latest reminder that it’s easier to unleash money than to guide it to the right places. Since Zhou Xiaochuan became People’s Bank of China governor in late 2002, the broad money supply base has expanded almost seven times to 122.8 trillion yuan ($20 trillion) while the economy has grown about five times. That translates to a M2/GDP ratio of about 200% versus about 70% in the U.S. That liquidity springs up like a jack-in-the-box, driving property prices, then shifting to stocks, before moving on to whatever may be next. Such sprees help explain the PBOC’s reluctance to cut banks’ required reserve ratios even as the economy slows. Instead, it’s trying targeted tools to guide money to preferred areas such as farming and small business.

“The central bank will continue to face structural challenges in 2015 and beyond,” said Shen Jianguang at Mizuho. “Funds aren’t flowing into economic activities on the ground. Instead, people are adding leverage to speculate.” China’s benchmark stock index plunged the most in six years on Monday in Shanghai, led by brokerages, after regulatory efforts to rein in record margin lending sparked concern that speculative traders will pull back from the world’s best-performing stock market in 2014. The move to control margin lending was to “pave the way for more monetary easing,” according to Zhu Haibin at JPMorgan in Hong Kong. The action was to stop future monetary easing from flowing into the stock market, Zhu said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today.

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“If we want to help governments that are in trouble let’s do it – but let the parliaments decide rather than this technocratic body, the ECB council.”

Warning! Volatility May Await If ECB Launches QE (CNBC)

One of Europe’s most influential economists has warned that the quantitative easing measures seen being unveiled by the ECB this week could create deep market volatility, akin to what was seen after the Swiss National Bank abandoned its currency peg. “There was so much capital flight in anticipation of the QE to Switzerland, that the Swiss central bank was unable to stem the tide, and there will be more effects of that sort,” the President of Germany’s Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Hans-Werner Sinn, told CNBC on Monday. This week, the ECB holds its two-day policy meeting and is widely seen unveiling a U.S. Federal Reserve-type government bond-purchasing program, known as quantitative easing or QE. Sinn, a fierce critic of QE, said the launch of such a program would bring more market volatility, of the kind seen on Thursday after the Swiss National Bank abandoned its euro/Swiss franc floor.

“He (ECB President Mario Draghi) will do it, and what will the markets do, they will happy to be able to sell the government bonds, which they consider as partly toxic and they will have a lot of cash. What will they do – they will buy real estate, there could be a revival of the real estate market but they will primarily try to take it abroad. And they have already begun doing that – what you see in Switzerland,” Sinn told CNBC. Sinn said that a ECB government bond-buying program would make markets “happy”, but that it was not the right way to go about bailing out the euro zone. “If we want to help governments that are in trouble let’s do it – but let the parliaments decide rather than this technocratic body, the ECB council. All these (QE) measures go way beyond monetary policy – these are bailout operations to help banks and states which are unable to cope with normal rates of interest,” Sinn told CNBC.

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What an incredible mess even before it’s been announced.

Draghi Weighs QE Compromise Showcasing Unity Shortfall (Bloomberg)

Mario Draghi is weighing how much a compromise on euro-area stimulus would reveal about the currency bloc’s fault lines. As the European Central Bank president and his Executive Board sit down today to formulate a bond-buying proposal to fend off deflation, one option is to ring-fence the risks by country. While that may win over some of Draghi’s opponents when the Governing Council meets on Jan. 22, it might also shine a spotlight on the lack of unity within the union. “An absence of risk-sharing could be taken as a bad signal by the market with respect to the singleness of monetary policy and could be self-defeating,” said Nick Matthews at Nomura. “However, it may prove to be a necessary compromise to make the design of QE more palatable for Governing Council members, and is preferable to having to limit the size of the program.”

Investors are banking on Draghi to announce quantitative easing at his press conference after the council meets, with economists in a Bloomberg survey estimating the package at €550 billion euros. What remains unclear is how far he’ll go to mollify critics who say unelected central-bank officials are transferring risk from weaker nations to stronger ones. The tension surfaced again yesterday at a conference in Dublin. Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said having national central banks buy government bonds would be “ineffective,” drawing a response from ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure.

“The discussion is how to design it in a way that works, in a way that makes sense,” Coeure said. “If this is a discussion about how best to pool sovereign risk in Europe, and how to make the pooling of sovereign risk take a step forward in an environment where the governments themselves have decided not to do it, then this is not the right discussion.” Klaas Knot, the Dutch central-bank governor, told Der Spiegel last week that “we have to avoid that decisions are taken through the back door of the ECB.”

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“Studies show that the business cycle was less volatile before the Federal Reserve was born. The presence of the Fed means that the implicit backing of the Fed allows excess leverage..”

Endgame for Central Bankers (Steen Jakobsen)

The SNB suddenly abandoning the CHF ceiling had wide consequences last week as we were all taken by surprise. The fact that it would and should happen eventually was not lost on the market, but the SNB was, as late as last weekend, talking tough and telling the market that the floor was an integral part of Swiss monetary policy. Then suddenly it was not. I fully understand the rationale for the move but, like most of the market, I remain extremely disappointed in the SNB’s communication and handling of the issue. But isn’t the bigger lesson or bigger question: Why is it that most people trust or bother to listen to central banks? Major centrals banks claim to be independent, but they are all ultimately under the control of politicians.

Many developed countries have tried to anchor an independent central bank to offset pressure from politicians and that’s well and good in principle until an economy or the effects of a monetary policy decision beginning spinning out of control. At zero bound for growth and for interest rates, politicians and central banks switch to survival mode, where rules are bent or even broken to fit an agenda of buying more time. Just look at the Eurozone crisis over the past eight years: every single criteria of the EU treaty has been violated, in spirit of not strictly according to the letter of the law, all for the overarching aim of “keeping the show on the road”. No, the conclusion has to be that are no independent central banks anywhere! There are some who pretend to be, but none operates in a political vacuum. That’s the reality of the moment.

I would not be surprised to find that the Swiss Government overruled the SNB last week and the interesting question for this week of course will be if the German government will overrule the Bundesbank on QE to save face for the Euro Zone? Likely…. The most intense focus for the last few years in central banking policy-making has been on “communication policy”, which boiled down to its essentials is merely an appeal to “believe us and act accordingly”, often without any real policy action. Look at the Federal Reserve’s forward guidance: They are constantly too optimistic on growth and inflation. Constantly. The joke being to get the proper GDP and inflation forecast you merely take the Fed’s own forecasts and deduct 100-150 bps from both growth and inflation targets and Voila! You have the best track record over time.

Studies show that the business cycle was less volatile before the Federal Reserve was born. The presence of the Fed means that the implicit backing of the Fed allows excess leverage (gearing), and this has resulted in bigger and bigger collapses in financial markets as each collapse triggers yet another central bank “put” that then enables the next bubble to inflate. And the trend of major crashes has been increasing in frequency: 1987 stock crash, 1992 ERM crisis, 1994 Mexico “Tequila crisis”, 1998 Asian crisis and Russian default, 2000 NASDAQ bubble, 2008 stock market crash, and now 2015 SNB, ECB QE, Russia and China, which will lead to what? I don’t know, but clearly the world of finance and the flow of money is increasing in velocity, meaning considerably more volatility.

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“Denmark’s three-decades-old peg is backed by the ECB, unlike the SNB’s former currency regime..” And that’s supposed to make us feel better?

Denmark Strikes Back at Speculators and Burnishes Peg Defenses (Bloomberg)

Denmark is trying to silence currency speculators as the government and central bank insist the Nordic country won’t follow Switzerland in severing its euro ties. “Circumstances significantly different from Denmark’s” were behind the Swiss National Bank’s decision, Danish Economy Minister Morten Oestergaard said in a phone interview. “Any comparison between Denmark and Switzerland is impossible.” The comments followed yesterday’s surprise decision by the Danish central bank to cut its deposit rate by 15 basis points to minus 0.2%, matching a record low last seen during the darkest hours of Europe’s debt crisis in 2012. Like the Swiss, the Danes lowered rates after interventions in the market proved insufficient.

Denmark will probably deliver another rate cut on Jan. 22 as krone “appreciation pressure prevails” with the European Central Bank set to present details of its bond-purchase program, Danske Bank reiterated today. Danske, Denmark’s biggest bank, says it’s been inundated by calls from offshore investors and several hedge funds seeking advice on how to profit from the latest developments in currency markets. SEB, Scandinavia’s largest currency trader, says it’s fielded similar calls. Their response has been to tell investors that Denmark’s three-decades-old peg is backed by the ECB, unlike the SNB’s former currency regime. Denmark has “a long-lasting and politically firmly anchored fixed-currency policy,” Oestergaard said. “This situation should not be overly dramatized.”

To underline the point, the central bank yesterday sought to reassure investors that its monetary policy arsenal is big enough should speculators try to test its resolve. “We have the necessary tools” to defend the peg,Karsten Biltoft, head of communications at the central bank, said by phone. Asked whether Denmark could ever consider abandoning its currency peg, he said, “Of course not.” Biltoft described as “somewhat off” any attempt to draw parallels between the Danish and Swiss currency pegs. “I don’t think you can make a comparison between the two cases,” he said. Yet the speculation is proving hard to put to rest. Defending Denmark’s euro peg “might be easier said than done in the current environment,” Ken Wattret at BNP Paribas, said. “The next test will of course be the upcoming ECB policy announcement on Thursday.” Given BNP’s estimate that the ECB will purchase €600 billion ($697 billion) in sovereign bonds, “further upward pressure on the DKK is likely,” he said.

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As if they have a choice.

Denmark Should Cut Loose From Euro (Bloomberg)

Europe’s currency war is picking up speed. On Monday, with the Danish krone appreciating against the euro, the Danish central bank sought to make the currency less attractive to safe-haven investors by cutting the deposit rate to -0.2% and the lending rate to 0.05%. After the Swiss National Bank abandoned its peg to the euro and cut interest rates, bankers and traders wondered which country would be the next to follow suit. No sooner had the franc zoomed upward than the Danish central bank prepared for an onslaught. Defending the krone’s peg to the euro could get a lot harder once the ECB begins its government bond-buying program, widely expected on Thursday. Yet maintaining the peg is an act of faith in Denmark.

The central bank should rethink its commitment. With a more flexible monetary policy, it could have done more to stimulate the economy since the global financial crisis, just as it could have prevented some of the overheating that took place in the years running up to the crisis. The krone has been pegged to the euro since 1999, and to the deutschemark before that. It’s allowed to fluctuate no more than 2.25% from 7.46038 to the euro. In practice, the central bank tries to keep the fluctuations within 0.5%. It also marches to the ECB’s monetary drum, including changing interest rates on the same day as ECB decisions, or in response to exceptional pressures on the euro-krone exchange rate. The peg was put in place to stabilize Danish monetary policy after a period of high inflation, which peaked at 12.3% in 1980.

It’s not clear that the peg is a good idea now. Unlike Sweden, which has a floating currency and until 2010 had a more sensible monetary policy, Denmark hasn’t fully recovered from the global economic crisis. Real gross domestic product per capita is still more than 7% below the pre-crisis peak. The desirability of the peg, however, is beyond debate in political and economic policy circles. When a prominent economist and former Danish government economic adviser was asked to compare the performance of the Danish economy with Sweden’s in December 2013, he was unable to name any area of economic policy where the Swedes did better. Monetary policy wasn’t mentioned at all; only structural reforms such as marginal tax rates and labor market policies were.

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Poland and especially Hungary have huge amounts of mortgages denominated in Swiss francs.

Swiss Upending Polish Mortgages Unnerves Bank Bondholders (Bloomberg)

Among the victims of last week’s shock surge in the Swiss franc are bond investors in Polish banks, which hold $35 billion in mortgages denominated in the currency. Yields on Eurobonds for lenders including Bank Polski and MBank jumped to five- and nine-month highs after the Swiss National Bank unexpectedly ditched its currency cap. The move sent the zloty tumbling against the franc on concern more Poles will fall behind on repaying franc-denominated home loans. JPMorgan said the nation’s banks may need to make additional provisions for non-performing mortgages in the currency, whose value is equivalent to 6.7% of gross domestic product.. While the zloty plunged 20% against the franc following the SNB action, Polish lenders have adequate capital to withstand a drop of more than twice that, the financial markets regulator said last week, citing results of October stress tests.

“This is clearly negative and increases the risks in the banking sector, which may or may not materialize,” Marta Jezewska-Wasilewska at Wood & Co., wrote in a research note Jan. 15. “Polish banks have managed to deal with the FX mortgage issue relatively well since 2008.” The yield on PKO’s 2019 euro-denominated bonds rose 40 basis points in the last three days to 1.56%, the highest since Aug. 22. The rate on similar-maturity MBank debt soared 83 basis points to 2.34% in the same period. The currency swing pushed banking stocks on the Warsaw Stock Exchange down by the most in more than three years, with Getin Noble Bank, owned by billionaire Leszek Czarnecki, leading declines after a 16% drop on Jan. 15. Getin’s Swiss-franc loans accounted for “slightly” above 20% of total loans at the end of last year, spokesman Wojciech Sury said in an e-mail last week. The bank sees no threat its liquidity levels will fall below the required minimum and is “ready for different scenarios,” he said.

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“They are not subject to an OPEC quota at the moment, and could flood the market”.

Iraq Back From The Brink With Largest Oil Output Since 1979 (CNBC)

In spite of still struggling to recover from the 2003 war and the continuing Islamic State (IS) insurgency, Iraq produced a record amount of oil last month, the country’s oil minister announced at the weekend. Unveiling production of 4 million barrels of crude per day in December, Adel Abdel Mehdi told reporters that the total was ” a historical figure, and the first time Iraq has achieved this.” Speaking at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Taner Yildiz in Baghdad, the Iraqi minister added the production increase would “make up” for the recent slump in oil prices. Iraq, where lawmakers are now looking at a 2015 draft budget based on an average of $60 dollars a barrel, depends on crude exports to generate over 90% of government revenues. The barrel export count, if confirmed, also trumps estimates of 3.7 million b/d by the International Energy Agency (IEA) published last week.

The agency’s report also identified Iraq as the main driver behind a rise in OPEC supply in December by 80,000 b/d to 30.48 million b/d. Iraq has not pumped as much crude oil since 1979, when the previous record was set with 3.56 million b/d . The December total would make Iraq OPEC’s second largest producer, behind Saudi Arabia at around 7 million b/d and ahead of Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait which each produce 2.7 b/d. “It’s quite a significant increase, but in-line with all the investment that was done over the last 10 years,” Samir Kasmi at Dubai-based advisory firm CT&F, told CNBC. “They are not subject to an OPEC quota at the moment, and could flood the market”. Abdel Mehdi explained production in the region of Kirkuk, which was held by IS troops last year before being liberated in June, would reach 375,000 b/d for the first three months of 2015. Production would eventually rise to 600,000 b/d by April.

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10% of US production.

Price Collapse Hits Scavengers Who Scrape the Bottom of Big Oil (Bloomberg)

In the $1.6 trillion-a-year oil business, there are global titans like Exxon Mobil that wield more economic might than most of the nations on Earth, and scores of wildcatters scouring land and sea for the next treasure troves of crude. Then there are the strippers. For these canaries in the proverbial coal mine, the journey keeps going deeper and darker. Strippers are scavengers who make a living by resuscitating once-prolific oil fields to coax as little as a bathtub full of crude a day from each well. Collectively, the strippers operate almost half-a-million oil wells that produced more than 730,000 barrels a day in 2012, the most recent year for which figures were available.

That’s one of every 10 barrels produced in the U.S. – equivalent to the entire output of Qatar, or half the crude Shell, Europe’s largest energy company, pumps worldwide every day. With oil prices down 57% since June, these smallest of producers will be the first to succumb to the Great Oil Bust of 2015. “This is killing us,” said Todd Shulman, a University of Colorado-trained geologist who ran fracking crews in the Rocky Mountains before returning to Vandalia, Illinois, in 1984 to help run the family’s stripper well business. Stripper wells – an inglorious moniker for 2-inch-wide holes that produce trickles of crude with the aid of iconic pumping machines known as nodding donkeys – were a vital contributor to U.S. oil production long before the shale revolution.

Though a far cry from the booming shale gushers that have pushed American crude production to the highest in a generation, stripper wells are a defining image of the oil business, scattered throughout rural backwaters abandoned by the world’s oil titans decades ago. With the price of crude dipping so low, there’s no way Shulman will be able to drill a new well that regulators have already permitted. Nor is he even going to turn on a well finished last month that’s ready to start production. It would be foolhardy to harvest crude from wells that won’t pay for themselves, said Shulman, who scrapes remnants from old Texaco (CVX) and Shell fields 310 miles south of Chicago, in the heart of what had been a booming oil region in the 1930s. He’ll wait for prices to rebound.

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“The crude Keystone XL delivers will make no difference to US crude imports; it will simply displace crude imports from elsewhere.”

The Keystone XL Pipeline Makes No Difference (Energy Matters)

Lobbyists are mobilizing to advance it. Environmentalists are mobilizing to stop it. The newly-elected Republican House has already voted to approve it. So has the newly elected Republican Senate. Obama has threatened a veto. The media are having a field day. What’s so important about Keystone XL? Well nothing, really. Keystone XL is basically just another pipeline; a little longer and larger than most, but not unusually so, and it goes nowhere pipelines don’t already go. All it does is increase the capacity of the existing Keystone pipeline system, which has already transported over 550 million barrels of Canadian heavy crude from Alberta to the US. The crude Keystone XL delivers will make no difference to US crude imports; it will simply displace crude imports from elsewhere.

And if Keystone XL doesn’t get built the crude it would have carried will go somewhere else, meaning that no CO2 emissions would be saved by not building it. (Although building it probably would save CO2 emissions because much of the Canadian crude that now moves south on trucks and rail tankers would pass through Keystone instead.) So what’s all the fuss about? What’s happened, of course, is that Keystone XL has been blown totally out of proportion, to the point where it’s become a cause célèbre. But how it got to this point is something for the psychologists, sociologists and political scientists to argue about. Here we will confine ourselves to the facts.

First, the purpose of Keystone XL. Its purpose is simply to supply more Canadian heavy crude to US Gulf Coast refineries that are facing potential feedstock shortages because of declining heavy crude production from Mexico and Venezuela, their main historic suppliers. This is a perfectly reasonable business proposition. Canada is motivated to sell, the refineries are motivated to buy and both will profit from the transaction. (Scotland has the same motivation in wishing to sell its surplus wind power to England. The difference is that Canada can deliver a product the client wants when the client wants it.) Second, the Canada-US pipeline system. There’s a perception that Keystone XL will be the first pipeline to bring Canadian crude to the US, but as shown in Figure 1 a substantial network of oil pipelines linking the two countries already exists. (Keystone XL is the blue line running northwest of Steele City):

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“I call it a liquidity spiral. They’ll start burning right through cash.”

A Huge Credit Line Reset Looms Over Oil Drillers (Bloomberg)

Oil and gas companies have April circled on their calendars. That’s when their lenders will recalculate the value of properties that energy companies staked as loan collateral. With those assets in decline along with oil prices, banks are preparing to cut the amount they’re willing to lend, crimping the ability of U.S. drillers to keep production growing. “This could start a downward spiral for some of these companies because liquidity will dry up,” said Thomas Watters, managing director of oil and gas research for Standard & Poors in New York. “I call it a liquidity spiral. They’ll start burning right through cash.” More than 20 U.S. exploration and production companies have used at least 60% of their credit lines, according to Bloomberg analyst Spencer Cutter. The energy industry is facing a cash squeeze after U.S. oil prices fell 60% since June.

Drillers have already cut spending to conserve cash. If credit lines are cut, the most indebted producers will be left scrambling to raise money elsewhere. New loans will be expensive – if they’re available at all. The credit lines, which typically are reset each spring and fall based on the value of borrowers’ petroleum reserves, operate like credit cards. To pay them off, companies have in the past sold off assets or issued bonds. The value of oil properties has declined at the same time that the borrowing environment for energy companies has gotten worse. At least one junk-rated company, Breitburn, has gotten an early jump on discussions with its lender. Breitburn’s credit limit was raised to $2.5 billion from $1.6 billion on Nov. 19 as a result of the acquisition of another energy company.

About three months ago, Los Angeles-based Breitburn attempted to sell $400 million of bonds to pay down its $2.5 billion credit line, but canceled the offering as oil falling below $90 a barrel roiled credit markets. The credit line is 88% drawn, according to regulatory filings. With the high-yield energy market still “challenged,” Breitburn is considering tapping the loan market, Jim Jackson, the oil producers’ chief financial officer, said in a phone interview. If its credit line is reduced to below what’s already been borrowed, “we would have six months to close that gap,” he said. “We’re being very pro-active.” Last week, S&P said it might downgrade Breitburn’s credit rating over concerns the company would face cash shortfalls if it couldn’t replace money from a reduced credit line.

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“There is a point in time where disinflation turns into deflation and then you start worrying about that potential car crash..”

Janjuah On 2015: Oil At $30; Bonds To Go Crazy (CNBC)

If you thought 2014 was volatile, hold on to your hats this year as the price of oil could hit $30 a barrel and the bond markets will outperform, according to Bob Janjuah, a closely-watched strategist from Nomura Securities. He told CNBC on Monday that there was little chance of Saudi Arabia changing its decision not to cut oil production, despite the 60% fall in prices since June 2014, and the cost of a barrel could head even lower. “Oil can go up in the short-term but I think actually that there’s some political motivations at play here and Saudi Arabia is at risk of losing its position as the marginal price-setter and I don’t think they want to lose that position,” Janjuah, co-head of cross-asset allocation strategy at Nomura, told CNBC Monday.

“I think the Saudis will potentially carry on (with their policy of not cutting production) and production will remain high but my head target is $30 – $35 as where we could get to. Where prices are now, I think a twenty dollar move is more difficult but I think that’s the risk and out there,” he told CNBC Europe’s “Squawk Box.” Janjuah believed that Saudi Arabia – the leading member of OPEC – would be content to maintain that pressure on the U.S. along with other major oil producers such as Russia. While some economies could benefit from lower oil prices, such as major importer Europe, Janjuah warned about the U.S. whose energy industry has grown thanks to its “fracking” of shale oil.

“If you look at the U.S. economy, the bulk of capital expenditure and jobs growth has been in and around the shale and energy-related sectors so if crude is down around the $30-$35 mark for a significant period of time I think you’re going to see a default cycle in the U.S. energy sector.” “I think disinflation is the key theme (this year) so you have to like bonds,” Janjuah said. “There is a point in time where disinflation turns into deflation and then you start worrying about that potential car crash where we start to worry about growth and earnings and how that hits the equity trade.”

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Translation: frack on!

U.S. Won’t Intervene in Oil Market (Bloomberg)

The U.S. won’t intervene in the oil market amid falling crude prices, according to Amos Hochstein, the U.S. State Department’s energy envoy. The U.S. will let “the market” decide what happens, Hochstein said in an interview at a conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Hochstein is special envoy and coordinator for international affairs at the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources. “When people ask the question ‘what will the U.S. do?,’ it’s really the market that’s going to have to decide what happens,” Hochstein said. “This is about a global market that is addressing the supply-demand curve.” Asked what the U.S. could do about falling prices and instability in oil markets, he said: “We do have mechanisms to work with our partners around the world if something extreme happens, but that’s not where I think we are and I think the markets so far can adjust themselves.”

Oil prices have dropped 53% in the past year as growing production from the U.S., Russia and OPEC overwhelmed demand. The International Energy said last week that the effects on U.S. production are so far “marginal.” “One of the most remarkable aspects of this recent period has been the resilience of the American energy market,” Hochstein said. U.S. oil production growth has swelled to its fastest pace in more than three decades, driven by output from shale deposits. Cheaper oil prices won’t stop development of alternative energy sources, he said. “We have really switched paradigms here where renewable energy really can continue to grow, even when there are low oil prices,” he said. “That’s true globally.”

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Not politically, it can’t.

Saudi Arabia Can Last Eight Years On Low Oil Prices (Guardian)

A former adviser to Saudi Arabia has said the country can withstand eight years or more of low oil prices as tensions over the price slump simmered between the world’s biggest oil exporter and Iran. Mohammad al-Sabban told the BBC that Saudi Arabia was concerned about the falling oil price but its cash reserves and planned budget cuts meant it could cope with a long period of depressed prices. “Saudi Arabia can sustain these low oil prices for at least eight years. First, we have huge financial reserves of about 3tn Saudi riyals (£527bn). Second, Saudi Arabia is embarking now on rationalising its expenditure, trying to take all the fat out of the budget. I think [Saudi Arabia] is worried but we [have to] wait for the full medicine that we have prescribed for ourself to take its course.”

Without cuts in spending on infrastructure, sports stadiums and new cities, Saudi Arabia can withstand low oil prices for at least four years, said Sabban, a former adviser to the Saudi minister for petroleum. He also suggested that lower oil prices could have long-term benefits for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has refused to cut production despite a more than 50% fall in the price of oil since last summer. “To shorten the cycle, you need to allow prices to go as low as possible to see those marginal producers move out of the market on the one hand, and also if there is any increase in demand that will be welcomed.” His comments were a further signal that Saudi Arabia was prepared to use its financial strength to ride out depressed oil prices now piling pressure on other producers, including Iran, which also faces western sanctions over its nuclear programme.

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Thank you Brussels for bringing back extremism.

Europe ‘Faces Political Earthquakes’ (BBC)

Political earthquakes could be in store for Europe in 2015, according to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the BBC’s Democracy Day. It says the rising appeal of populist parties could see some winning elections and mainstream parties forced into previously unthinkable alliances. Europe’s “crisis of democracy” is a gap between elites and voters, EIU says. There is “a gaping hole at the heart of European politics where big ideas should be”, it adds. Low turnouts at the polls and sharp falls in the membership of traditional parties are key factors in the phenomenon. The United Kingdom – going to the polls in May – is “on the cusp of a potentially prolonged period of political instability”, according to the Economist researchers.

They say there is a much higher than usual chance that the election will produce an unstable government – predicting that the populist UK Independence Party (UKIP) will take votes from both the Conservatives and Labour. The fragmentation of voters’ preferences combined with Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system will, the EIU says, make it increasingly difficult to form the kind of single-party governments with a parliamentary majority that have been the norm. But the most immediate political challenge – and test of how far the growing populism translates into success at the polls – is in Greece. A snap general election takes place there on 25 January, triggered by parliament’s failure to choose a new president in December. Opinion polls suggest that the far left, populist Syriza could emerge as the strongest party. If it did and was able to form a government, the EIU says this would send shock waves through the European Union and act as a catalyst for political upheaval elsewhere.

“The election of a Syriza government would be highly destabilising, both domestically and regionally. It would almost certainly trigger a crisis in the relationship between Greece and its international creditors, as debt write-offs form one of the core planks of its policy platform,” the EIU says. “With similar anti-establishment parties gaining ground rapidly in a number of other countries scheduled to hold elections in 2015, the spill-over effects from a further period of Greek turmoil could be significant.” Other examples of European elections with potential for unpredictable results cited by EIU include polls in Denmark, Finland, Spain, France, Sweden, Germany and Ireland. “There is a common denominator in these countries: the rise of populist parties,” the EIU says, “Anti-establishment sentiment has surged across the eurozone (and the larger EU) and the risk of political disruption and potential crises is high.”

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“The audit revealed that between 2007 and 2008 the Federal Reserve loaned over $16 trillion — more than four times the annual budget of the United States — to foreign central banks and politically-influential private companies.”

If The Fed Has Nothing To Hide, It Has Nothing To Fear (Ron Paul)

Since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, the dollar has lost over 97% of its purchasing power, the US economy has been subjected to a series of painful Federal Reserve-created recessions and depressions, and government has grown to dangerous levels thanks to the Fed’s policy of monetizing the debt. Yet the Federal Reserve still operates under a congressionally-created shroud of secrecy. No wonder almost 75% of the American public supports legislation to audit the Federal Reserve. The new Senate leadership has pledged to finally hold a vote on the audit bill this year, but, despite overwhelming public support, passage of this legislation is by no means assured. The reason it may be difficult to pass this bill is that the 25% of Americans who oppose it represent some of the most powerful interests in American politics.

These interests are working behind the scenes to kill the bill or replace it with a meaningless “compromise.” This “compromise” may provide limited transparency, but it would still keep the American people from learning the full truth about the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy. Some opponents of the bill say an audit would somehow compromise the Fed’s independence. Those who make this claim cannot point to anything in the text of the bill giving Congress any new authority over the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy. More importantly, the idea that the Federal Reserve is somehow independent of political considerations is laughable. Economists often refer to the political business cycle, where the Fed adjusts its policies to help or hurt incumbent politicians.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns exposed the truth behind the propaganda regarding Federal Reserve independence when he said, if the chairman didn’t do what the president wanted, the Federal Reserve “would lose its independence.” Perhaps the real reason the Fed opposes an audit can be found by looking at what has been revealed about the Fed’s operations in recent years. In 2010, as part of the Dodd-Frank bill, Congress authorized a one-time audit of the Federal Reserve’s activities during the financial crisis of 2008. The audit revealed that between 2007 and 2008 the Federal Reserve loaned over $16 trillion — more than four times the annual budget of the United States — to foreign central banks and politically-influential private companies.

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”Next time around, the federals are going to have to confiscate stuff, break promises, take away things, and rough some people up.”

A Solemn Pause (Jim Kunstler)

Events are moving faster than brains now. Isn’t it marvelous that gasoline at the pump is a buck cheaper than it was a year ago? A lot of short-sighted idiots are celebrating, unaware that the low oil price is destroying the capacity to deliver future oil at any price. The shale oil wells in North Dakota and Texas, the Tar Sand operations of Alberta, and the deep-water rigs here and abroad just don’t pencil-out economically at $45-a-barrel. So the shale oil wells that are up-and-running will produce for a year and there will be no new ones drilled when they peter out — which is at least 50% the first year and all gone after four years.

Anyway, the financial structure of the shale play was suicidal from the get-go. You finance the drilling and fracking with high-yield “junk bonds,” that is, money borrowed from “investors.” You drill like mad and you produce a lot of oil, but even at $105-a-barrel you can’t make profit, meaning you can’t really pay back the investors who loaned you all that money, a lot of it obtained via Too Big To Fail bank carry-trades, levered-up on ”margin,” which allowed said investors to pretend they were risking more money than they had. And then all those levered-up investments — i.e. bets — get hedged in a ghostly underworld of unregulated derivatives contracts that pretend to act as insurance against bad bets with funny money, but in reality can never pay out because the money is not there (and never was.) And then come the margin calls. Uh Oh….

In short, enjoy the $2.50-a-gallon fill-ups while you can, grasshoppers, because when the current crop of fast-depleting shale oil wells dries up, that will be all she wrote. When all those bonds held up on their skyhook derivative hedges go south, there will be no more financing available for the entire shale oil project. No more high-yield bonds will be issued because the previous issues defaulted. Very few new wells (if any) will be drilled. American oil production will not return to its secondary highs (after the 1970 all-time high) of 2014-15. The wish of American energy independence will be steaming over the horizon on the garbage barge of broken promises. And all, that, of course, is only one part of the story, because there is the social and political fallout to follow.

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“Production can only be maintained through relentless drilling, and that relentless drilling has now stopped.”

Whiplash! (Dmitry Orlov)

Over the course of 2014 the prices the world pays for crude oil have tumbled from over $125 per barrel to around $45 per barrel now, and could easily drop further before heading much higher before collapsing again before spiking again. You get the idea. In the end, the wild whipsawing of the oil market, and the even wilder whipsawing of financial markets, currencies and the rolling bankruptcies of energy companies, then the entities that financed them, then national defaults of the countries that backed these entities, will in due course cause industrial economies to collapse. And without a functioning industrial economy crude oil would be reclassified as toxic waste. But that is still two or three decades off in the future.

In the meantime, the much lower prices of oil have priced most of the producers of unconventional oil out of the market. Recall that conventional oil (the cheap-to-produce kind that comes gushing out of vertical wells drilled not too deep down into dry ground) peaked in 2005 and has been declining ever since. The production of unconventional oil, including offshore drilling, tar sands, hydrofracturing to produce shale oil and other expensive techniques, was lavishly financed in order to make up for the shortfall. But at the moment most unconventional oil costs more to produce than it can be sold for. This means that entire countries, including Venezuela’s heavy oil (which requires upgrading before it will flow), offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico (Mexico and US), Norway and Nigeria, Canadian tar sands and, of course, shale oil in the US.

All of these producers are now burning money as well as much of the oil they produce, and if the low oil prices persist, will be forced to shut down. An additional problem is the very high depletion rate of “fracked” shale oil wells in the US. Currently, the shale oil producers are pumping flat out and setting new production records, but the drilling rate is collapsing fast. Shale oil wells deplete very fast: flow rates go down by half in just a few months, and are negligible after a couple of years. Production can only be maintained through relentless drilling, and that relentless drilling has now stopped. Thus, we have just a few months of glut left. After that, the whole shale oil revolution, which some bobbleheads thought would refashion the US into a new Saudi Arabia, will be over.

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New Zealand PM does hollow propaganda.

Why New Zealand Can Handle Europe, Oil Troubles (CNBC)

New Zealand’s exports may face headwinds from the decline in oil price and strengthening of its currency against the euro, but the country’s prime minister told CNBC that the “Kiwi economy” is set to carry on booming. The New Zealand dollar has appreciated just over 8% against the euro since in the last three months as expectations have risen that the European Central Bank (ECB) will announce a full-blown quantitative easing program when it meets this Thursday. The kiwi dollar, as it is known, strengthened further to a record high against the euro on Friday after the Swiss National Bank made a surprise policy move to abandon its minimum exchange rate against the euro. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key told CNBC that a stronger currency would not hinder the economy, one that is currently outperforming many developed nations.

“Obviously it’s had an impact as it’s pushed up the kiwi-euro rate and that makes it a little bit more difficult for our exporters but overall our economy is still very strong. We think we’ll grow 3.25% every year for the next three years, so about ten% over the next three years so we’re still confident we can get there, even with a higher exchange rate.” In December, Statistics New Zealand said the economy was growing faster than expected and had accelerated in the third quarter. Gross domestic product increased 1% in the third quarter from the previous quarter, according to the statistics body. Key said that the New Zealand economy was being helped by economic activity in the U.S. and he brushed aside concerns over a slowdown in growth in Asia. Europe was another matter, however.

“The U.S. is much stronger than people think now, we see a lot of activity out of the U.S. both in terms of tourists coming and the buying activity. Asia is still quite strident and there is some concern that China is going to fall over but I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s still Europe that’s got to deal with its fundamental issues.” New Zealand’s third-quarter growth was driven by its primary industries, including the dairy industry and oil and gas exploration and extraction, which grew by 5.8%. After dairy, meat and wood, oil is the fourth-largest export for New Zealand and, as such, the steep decline in global oil prices could hit the country’s economy. Indeed, exploration companies like New Zealand Oil and Gas, TEG Oil and Key Petroleum are all looking to defer projects in the region.

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Thank ZIRP.

Bleak Future For Retirees As Savings Slashed (CNBC)

Millions of workers around the world could enter retirement with savings diminished by a fifth or more after getting into debt or financial difficulty, HSBC warned in a new report. According to the bank, the impact of the global economic downturn could be felt for decades by the vast number of people who raided their retirement funds and accumulated debt during the financial crisis. In a study of 16,000 people into global retirement trends, HSBC found that two in five workers stopped or reduced their savings for retirement during the downturn that began in 2007. The situation is particularly bad in the U.K. and Canada, the bank warned, where retirement savings have been nearly halved as a result of debts or financial constraints.

“Despite the fact that close to 70% of people feel like they will run out of money or not have enough to live on day-to-day in retirement, 40% of people today are either not saving for retirement or significantly reduced their savings for retirement,” Michael Schweitzer, head of sales and distribution for group wealth management at HSBC, told CNBC on Monday. “And that is going to cause a shortfall for millions of people – as much as a fifth when they do get to retirement.” Even with a recovery in the global economy, which the International Monetary Fund expects to grow 3.8% this year from 3.3% in 2014, debt accumulated during the financial crisis will continue to weigh on workers’ ability to save, HSBC said. According to the study, this gloom is being felt across the globe, with almost a quarter of working-age people anticipating living standards in retirement to be worse than they are today.

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Did anyone realize this?: “Wild honey bees can no longer be found in England or Wales ..”

Disease Threat To Wild Bees from Commercial Bees (BBC)

The trade in bees used for honey or to pollinate crops could have a devastating impact on wild bees and other insects, say scientists. New measures are needed to stop diseases carried by commercial bees spilling over into the wild, says a University of Exeter team. Evidence suggests bees bred in captivity can carry diseases that could be a risk to native species. Bees are used commercially to pollinate crops such as peppers and oilseed rape. Species of bees used for this purpose, or in commercial hives, are known to suffer from parasite infections and more than 20 viruses. Many of these can also infect wild bumble bees, wasps, ants and hoverflies.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, reviewed data from existing studies to look at the potential for diseases to jump from commercial bees to insects in the wild. “Our study highlights the importance of preventing the release of diseased commercial pollinators into the wild,” said lead researcher Dr Lena Wilfert. “The diseases carried by commercial species affect a wide range of wild pollinators but their spread can be avoided by improved monitoring and management practices. “Commercial honey beekeepers have a responsibility to protect ecologically and economically important wild pollinator communities from disease.”

Several diseases of honey bee colonies are known. They include a parasite called the Varroa mite and a virus that leads to deformed wings, which has also been found in wild bumble bees. Vanessa Amaral-Rogers of the charity, Buglife, said the results of the study showed an urgent need for changes in how the government regulates the importation of bees. “Wild honey bees can no longer be found in England or Wales, thought to have been wiped out by disease,” she told BBC News. “Now these studies show how diseases can be transmitted between managed honey bees and commercial bumble bees, and could have potentially drastic impacts on the rest of our wild pollinators. “

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