June 30, 2011 By 42 Comments
By Andrew McKillop 21st Century Wire June 30, 2011 In the gallic joy and media hoopla of yet another French elite politician with almost no knowledge of economics getting the IMF top job, confirming the real role and mission of this fragile institution, its bizarre mutation to financial and economic charlatanism- goes almost unnoticed. The Greek debt crisis however shows this stark and clear. The IMF and the European Central Bank, with an outgoing French director and an incoming Italian chief, are basically struggling for survival – due to the debt crisis of a country with 11 million inhabitants whose GDP comes in at about 5 percent of EU-27 GDP. Whoever says IMF and ECB also says ‘US Federal Reserve’, although Ben Bernanke would likely nuance that and distance himself from failed “quantitative tightening” in south-east Europe, to concentrate on failed QE at home. What the IMF and ECB have cooked up in Europe’s PIIGS, with the second I-for-Italy moving upstage in a dangerous way as the Berlusconi empire and media circus crumbles, is nothing short of ultra Keynesian deficit medicine mixed with ultra Neoliberal austerity cures of the IMF 1980s Third World type. The net result is simple: debt has to become assets. Never mind the ideology because if this gambit fails, the euro will fall and a string of European, US, Japanese and other banking houses will shudder and tremble, 2008-style. OLD AND NEW The doctrinal mix-and-mingle running through the veins of global central bankers and their bridges to the political deciding elite – the IMF playing master of ceremonies – has become so confused, so bizarre we could call it an ice cream cocktail with chopped gherkins put through a mixmaster. It was not even born to fail – it was simply not biologically possible, but like dinosaurs… it happened. Using Greece as an online, real time exhibit of leading edge financial engineering, the IMF and ECB, along with the European Union and a few Greek politicians, watched by the US Fed and some very engaged private bankers and finance sector players, are creating one of the most massive debt explosions the world has ever seen. All this with the small assets, and big debts of a small country edging along the Balkans. But the Greek Ponzi-style debt pyramid grows every day; most media reporting gives rather fakely, exact numbers of the type: “As of 9am Wednesday morning, Greek sovereign debt is 365.2 billion euros”, and a slightly less fantasist number for how much Greece has to receive to cover the 31 days of July: 12 billion euro, roughly $ 1500 for every man, woman and child in the country. With borrowing like that, why work ? The second income has arrived, but of course with strings attached. The latest 12-billion dollop is the last part of the first debt package masterminded by the IMF and the Europeans, with the ECB in the lead but also including the European Commission and major government players, led by Germany’s Angela Merkel who has publicly said she got on fine with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and will get on fine with Christine Lagarde: it is official. GREEK FINANCE: WITH STRINGS ATTACHED The strings attached include the Dr Jekyll part of the two-headed IMF monster: Greece has to perform. It has to achieve 50 billion euro of asset sales, not so easy in a country of 11 million inhabitants operating in the oversupplied Mediterranean package tour business against bankrupt Tunisia and bankrupt Egypt, now selling 8-day holidays at modern hotels, with food and air flights, at around $ 400 per person. With the July monthly instalment from the IMF and the Europeans, the entire Greek nation could ship itself out to Egypt for the month and find something creative to do with the unused assets, back home. Greece of course also has other assets, like lignite fuelled power plants, toll highways, ports, tanker shipping lines and even a few semi-bankrupt airlines. The real potential of achieving 50-billion-euro of asset sales in Greece, anytime at all, let alone soon is however rather low – but that doesn’t matter. What is needed is a public attempt at doing it, and here the IMF and its European friends, with their uncertain and perhaps wavering US allies, have stepped back in time to the 1980s Third World debt pantomine, complete with funny noses: all that is needed is a remake of the Club of Paris, bringing worried banks and reassuring IMF officials together, for a debt and asset slaughter, where assets were turned into debts rather fast. OLD ASSETS, NEW DEBTS A country like Greece today, or 1980s-style debt strangled Third World countries, or Russia, Argentina and others in the 1990s has so much short-term debt and ever rising interest rates on that growing part of its debt balloon – a lead balloon – that any asset it puts on the block will be depreciated, quick time. The depreciation is rigorously ferocious, something like an aside in a Thorsten Veblen book on cigar puffing, cognac swilling Victorian capitalists. What you thought might bring in 5 billion euros will in fact return 50 million, penny-on-the-dollar style. Under that type of New Reality, austerity has to be Victorian-style, witness a hike in value added tax on Greek restaurant meals from 10 percent to 23 percent: if you have enough cash to eat out, you have enough to pay the IMF and ECB. Asset sales and state revenue hikes in Greece will therefore, and can only disappoint. Meanwhile, the debt clock ticks on and up, another bailout will be needed, so more assets have to be sold (even if they dont exist) and the austerity program has to be tightened, again. In the Russian case in the 1990s, national pride took a strange New Capitalist turn: roughly 40 percent of the entire population were de-monetized or moved out of the cash economy for several years. To be sure, this had a rather draconian impact on imports, let alone mortality rates, but even if oil was worth nothing in the 1990s, Russia kept on exporting it along with other Sunset Commodity resources – exactly like Argentina. So Russia pulled through, to a certain extent, leaving Putin with a permanent chip on his shoulder regarding Western capitalist partners and iron will to stay a creditor nation. Greece isn’t likely to have a resource-led export revenue boom, like Russia, Argentina and almost all the Jekyll-finance 1980s victims of the IMF in low income Africa and other Third World countries. This is Europe, meaning new-style rigour in a new-style post-liberal economy – which as we already said is the most bizarre cocktail crock of loony economic tunes a Martian could imagine. Failure is certain. Courage has no place at all in that me-too circus, but it could work in the Greek case: a sudden and dramatic abandonment of the euro with no prior warning would almost certainly succeed, aided by its shock and horror. The reintroduced drachma would spiral to nothing – but then banks, including the global central bank-surrogate, the IMF, and the would-be federal European ECB would understand they had gone too far with their Veblen medicine and themselves were set to lose everything, too. This brings us straight to a fundamental notion embodied in Keynesianism: if you have a big debt and can’t pay, bankers will stay interested in you. If you have a small debt and can’t pay – go away and die or take a stay in prison. Greece could shift to a street-friendly military regime of the type which (legend says) saved vodka swilling Boris Yeltsin, install a land army agriculture corps and national sea fisheries corps, develop close and friendly relations with other ruined new democracies of the Mediterranean region, and basically refuse to pay its debt. Playing for time, the new popular regime of Greece would by necessity be populist, and start by ousting all foreign migrant workers from the country, stemming remittance outflows from the country. This again would signal the new popular regime means business. An aggressive financial strategy with all other EU27 nations would also be necessary, carefully using the twin arms of debt default menace, and joint venture asset development promise. THE POST LIBERAL RECOVERY The IMF’s present role models and dominant ideology cocktails range from the laughable to the absurd and back again. Even as a gold hoarder and semi-legal trader, operating with the Basle-based BIS, the IMF is a failure and like other new style central banks probably has a lot less physical gold than it claims. All it can offer debt-strapped countries is SDRs and new debt, drawing down and destroying, or depreciating to almost nothing any real assets that happen to fall into its hands. Recovery is almost officially defined by the IMF as an Act of God, or Inch’allah for the Gulf state petro-monarchies brought onside by the IMF whenever possible. We can be sure that previous feats of the IMF, especially its decades-long debt financing saga with low income resource exporter Third World countries, would have dragged on even longer – if there had not been a sudden, strong and sustained upsurge in commodity prices. This upsurge was totally expected by almost any analyst able to use a two-dollar calculator, and totally unexpected by the IMF and its ruling elite politician friends. The IMF therefore has a proven track record of being surprised, and will be surprised by what we can call post-liberal recovery. In Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and across the Med in Tunisia and Egypt this post-liberal recovery is emerging, sometimes quite fast. The restored state, the government, national institutions and national identity all have a post-global economy importance which of course is played down by average government friendly media in presently unaffected countries. This is a dangerous trend for fuddle-along debt financing and austerity miracles, which only fatten the regular gang of charlatans, who in any case will quickly lose their ill-gotten gains on the gaming tables of the global financial casino. The process is also post-ideology in a major way. Carefully unexplained by dominant media and their business editors, the failed dictators of the Arab world, currently including ben Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt, Gaddafi of Libya and al Assad of Syria all played squeaky clean copybook export platform economics, yipped on by IMF-friendly economists and commentators. Inside their countries the story was a lot different. Street resistance was not driven by ideology or by demonstrators waving pictures of Che Guevara – but by citizens sick of not being able to afford to eat and the victims of permanent mass unemployment, casually described by well paid IMF experts as “an adjustment phenomenon”. Forcing the economy to ground zero, which again is official IMF medicine, drives society to a rapid search-and-select of what counts and what does not. The flimsy global economy and its tinsel promises weigh little, and outright resistance to austerity measures and cures will rise. The fear of anarchy and revolution in the post-liberal world – and a total loss for global finance players – is now moving up the teleprompter, prompting European, US, Japanese and other remaining defenders of Orthodox ‘no alternative’ economics to throw money at emerging national governments in a string of countries. Played right, Greece might also benefit from this. -
June 15, 2011 By 7 Comments
By Stone Pinkerton Gonzo Town June 14, 2011 Getting ahead? Going to college? Whether they know it or not, millions of young Americans are joining the ranks of the over-qualified and under paid and unemployed. But heck, you can still give it the “old college try” anyway, but be informed of the pro’s and cons of your decision. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, there is only one job for every five college graduate applicants in America today. And with most jobs in the US being off-shored to the Far East and Latin America, it’s a safe bet that stat is not changing anytime soon, at least for the next 10 years, unless of course you are going for a position under the Golden Arches. In the last 12 years, college tuition in the US has risen a staggering 900%, while wages have jumped an impressive… well, err, an average 10%. For the bright, young, and gifted, this equation should really be studied very carefully. Regardless of how bleak the outlook is, America has always been the land of positive thinking and no wonder, as there is no shortage in the queue of 17 year olds dying to (literally) sign their life away to JP Morgan, Citi Bank and Wells Fargo in exchange for in many cases, around $80,000 in student loans. STUDENT LOAN SUB-PRIME BUBBLE: Cheap loans can really stack up, but the benefits don’t. Before we rush to judgement, let’s be fair and breakdown what the kids are getting for their 80K. First and foremost, they get that golden fleece, the sheep skin also known as The Degree. In addition, millions of young Americans will be given a four year window in which to master the fine art of drinking beer and how to both hold and suck cannabis smoke from a perspex cylinder. If they have spent their 80K wisely, they will also be gifted cheap tickets to Division I football and basketball games and their fantastic after parties. As a keen sportsman myself, perhaps to best value for the money was the free campus gym membership and intramural sports programs which kept me fit enough to withstand non-stop weekends of partying. On top of all this fun stuff, it’s also a bottomless trough of free time to play computer games in your apartment, eat pizza, screw around with your guitar, and of course, ample opportunities for scouting out members of the opposite sex. Apparently, it all looks good on your CV. So in summary: lots of beers, drugs, sports, parties, games, sex, and 80K in the hole, with little chance of landing a job after four years. In fact, you will most likely be competing for lower level jobs against seemingly uncool debt-free people who never graduated from university. You might consider that you could achieve all that, and more, by simply going to Thailand for two years… at a cost of $5k. For those fortunate sons and daughters, the Degree may hold some potential value, but for most its value is purely vestigial. In days gone by, this parchment represented the pinnacle in academic achievement and was your passport to career liberation. In a Darwinian race to land that 1 out of 5 jobs, you will need more than “a well-rounded CV”. This remains the case- only for 20% of the graduate herd, the lucky ones, and the ones with the best connections. The other 80% will unfortunately be disappointed, and will opt for a less glamorous career path like waiting tables, making cocktails or capucinos, lifeguarding, ‘delivering’ things, ‘guarding’ things, lap dancing and/or other forms of prostitution. Even if you are an A or B student, it’s likely that you chose a degree that your high school career advisor told you would be “useful”, or your friends promised would be “easier” in the end analysis. If you fall into this category you would have chosen to pursue a degree in the following: communications, media communications, media studies, public relations, human development, psychology, sports psychology, marketing, advertizing, ”management”, business management, human resource management, occupational therapy, entrepreneurial studies, sports management, sociology, climate change, international relations, journalism, “art”, philosophy, or even (God help you) the once celebrated holy grail of qualifications known as the MBA. All these degrees mentioned, for the most part, are either completely useless, or they are subjects one could learn in a year to 18 months as an intern in the working world. We could also say safely that none of them are worth $80,000 in student loans, credit cards and other institutional debt that will follow you long into life as your college experience becomes a fleeting, distant memory as you reach 50 years old- wrinkled, sans hair, overweight and kids to feed and cloth. They probably won’t tell you that at your College Orientation Day. That’s the reality of it though. What’s the alternative? If you live in a socially advanced and utopia society like Gonzo Town, you would be provided with a number of viable and more economically sound options. Firstly, instead of over-hyping the alleged status of the over-priced university education con, we would advise our little Gonzo Sprites to get a job and go to Community College for two years. By doing this you have the following advantages over your mostly deluded elite counterparts at a four year university. You will have no debt, you can earn money, perhaps live at home and save money, get more or less the same curriculum the university college offers- at a fraction of the cost… and you will save your liver from getting hammered by a barrage of cheap beer every weekend. The draw backs are simply less parties, and you have to put up with your parents for a while longer. But, you can still gate crash spring break and with more money to throw around chasing girls or guys. Quids in, as they say. Second option: Learn a trade and become a ‘skilled worker’. Here is a truly revolutionary concept, so radical in fact, the entire US and European modern economies were built upon it. Question: who earns more than a lawyer, a resident physician, or most company directors? Answer: a plumber. Do an apprenticeship, as a plumber, electrician, roofing engineer, X-Ray technician, or a building surveyor and you could probably save up enough money by the time you are 35 to fund a dotcom start-up, netting you another few million. Get it? I wish I had (I got my degree in art and philosophy and remain poor, but happy, to this day). Third option: enlist in the armed forces. On paper the GI Bill looks like a brilliant option- all your bills paid for by US tax payers, no heavy student loans and you get a dose of that legendary “military discipline” we all hear about. Air Force, Navy and a few smart grunts and jarheads excluded, what they don’t tell you before you sign on the dotted line at your local strip-mall recruitment office is that you are now essentially running corporate security for the likes of Beaty Balfour, KBR, Haliburton, Unocal and Exxon. You may also risk having certain areas of your brain de-actived, and possibly removed. These include your moral compass, capacity for creative and original thought, flickering trance-like states induced by the American flag, national anthem, and a loss of your ability to distinguish Osama bin Laden from Ali Baba in Disney’s Aladdin. True hazards of the job. Fourth option: buy guns and start a survivalist colony in Oregon. In the end, one can only feel sorry for all those bright young American students who have been sold the perpetual lie that a college education is somehow worth its weight in gold. If you are still a student, you should really be asking your elders and teachers why the last four US Administrations sold out the economy- aka your future jobs, off-shore to China and the like. And then go ask your Professor or Career Guidance Councilor if they themselves would pay $80,000, or $120,000 for a college degree with no job prospects at the end of the line. Send their reply here to Gonzo Town. Question: Are students, like home buyers pre-2008, being lured into a huge Sub-Prime trap of easy loans and inflated asset (the asset here being a university degree) values? And still, the richest dudes and babes(mind you, mostly divorced) I’ve known… never did graduate from university. There it is kids. Go to the Debt-Slave Land of no jobs where you will be unwittingly lining the pockets of shameless banksters (and serving them drinks at the same time), or come study and work in Gonzo Town. Any questions? -
April 30, 2011 By Leave a Comment
April 22, 2011 By 317 Comments
By Andrew McKillop 21st Century Wire April 22, 2011 Since its introduction in the 1950′s, the myths surrounding nuclear power have been worked up into a complex web as massive and multiple as the debts and deficits assailing government leaderships and central bankers in most OECD countries, but like these myth-based no alternatives, the nuclear myths are easy to cut back to basics. We can start with the Mother Myth of nuclear power. This is as beguilingly simple as the sequence leading to yet another debt and deficit bailout, with printed money in Europe, the USA or Japan. We are confronted by all-powerful debts in today’s world, and by all-powerful forces in the atom. By intelligently exploiting it we will have ultimate power… In fact arguments about ‘how to use it’ and ‘should we use it’ started even before the world’s first atom bomb was exploded in 1945. How could we use this total power and unlimited energy ? Would it be for good or evil ? How much would it all cost ? COSTS NEVER MATTERED The atom scientists of the 1930s- names we still know today, like Fermi and Einstein, argued about those subjects too. But being scientists, they were not especially concerned by what it would all cost. Only later, with the founding of the UN’s Atomic Energy Agency in 1956 – which is essentially a promotional agency for nuclear power – were the key subjects of entrepreneurial effort and the obligatorily linked need for government subsidies brought into the fray. This was sold as creating a future world where atomic arms will be changed to power plant ploughshares. While atomic weapons were expensive, the ploughshares would be cheap if we spent enough investing in them (so they said). Another handicap for the 1930′s atom scientists that make it hard for them to get an idea how much nuclear power would cost, and which cost several of them their very own lives from cancer death, was that 75 years ago they knew little and therefore cared little about radiation and what it did to living things. The myth of radiation being very ‘interesting’ but not dangerous, was however firmly debunked by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, but not without a last ditch attempt by the occupying Allied Powers to protect it – by arresting and deporting any journalist who talked about radiation deaths. Estimates of radiation deaths from these two bombs vary widely, depending on the cut-off time interval for making an estimate and also hindered by the Allied Powers blackout on radiation deaths, but in total these were likely well in excess of 100,000. Today with the Fukushima disaster making it suddenly OK to openly doubt that nuclear power is clean, safe and cheap, it is easy to find the radiological equivalent of these 6 industry standard BWR power plants and their fuel ponds. Anywhere up to 15 000 times the combined release of radiation from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. RISKS DON’T MATTER Under a tight shield of commercial and national security, technological complexity and simple disinterest in almost unlimited health and environment security risks the nuclear industry worldwide… has created hundreds of Doomsday Machines. They must never, ever suffer total meltdown, or damage so serious their radiological inventory can escape. If – or rather when – that happens the consequences can only and will only be dire. This central fact has been deliberately and consistently hidden from the general public since the so-called Atomic Age began. This so-called Faustian bargain or Devil’s bet dwarfs even the incredible costs of what is a totally uneconomic source of electricity, but the financial risks of nuclear power are themselves massive – in fact open-ended like the health and environment risks. A PRICE TO PAY: Fukushima’s Faustian drama unfolds. We could or might find excuses for the sequence of events and overlays of hasty and uninformed, irresponsible or technologically arrogant decisions leading to hundreds of Doomsday Machines being stationed around the planet – each one a gigantic dirty bomb. For many, still even today, atomic energy looks like something for nothing, and this alone has attracted generations of charlatans to work the talk circuits in favour of nuclear power. As we know today, the old nuclear nations which first developed atomic energy from the 1950s and 1960s have rapidly ageing and unsure reactor fleets. By the 2020-2030 period dozens of these reactors will have to be taken out of service. And then what ? Industry terminology for this includes the keywords Safestore, dismantling, entombment and sarcophagus – all of which translate to extreme high costs both in the short-term and on a recurring basis. This also assumes there will be linked and secure long-term high level radioactive waste ultimate repositories, such as the constantly abandoned US Yucca Mountain project, abandoned mainly because of its extreme high cost. Trying desperately to keep itself alive at whatever cost and whatever risk to present and future human and other life on the planet, the nuclear industry has retreated into its laager mentality with technology gimmicks ranging from thorium and other non-uranium fuelled reactors, fusion reactors, and fast breeder reactors. Although no commercial – that is non subsidized and large scale – versions of these quick fixes exist, the high-tech sheen on these claimed alternatives is enough to beguile some weak minded, uninformed and gullible persons. Nuclear power should be given another try, they say ! NUCLEAR MERCANTILISM The key sales pitch for nuclear power- that its costs can be recouped rather quickly from the almost free energy and power it supposedly delivers has been shamelessly used to vend these Doomsday Machines, particularly in the emerging and developing countries, from Sudan to Bangladesh, and Ghana to Mongolia. Exactly how to get this energy that will be too cheap to meter remains a shady piece of logic: massive and complex long-term financing vehicles and packages will be needed. While details are shrouded in more than only commercial and financial secrecy – nuclear power’s national security handle is heavily employed to blackout information – this, of course, is the basic strategy is mercantilist. The 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) comprises of mainly OECD membership, but also includes countries like Argentina, Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Turkey and Ukraine, as well as some other small non-OECD countries but specifically does not include India. This traces to the 1975 founding of the NSG, in the wake of India’s 1974 test explosion of an atom bomb, and the alarmed but confused attempt by leaderships of the old nuclear nations to lock down nuclear technology but also promote nuclear power. The permanent and basic linkage between nuclear weapons, and nuclear power had been made clear for all to see by the Indian test, but business had to go on as usual. By some strange schizophrenia, the same alarmed political leaderships in the old nuclear nations chose to ignore (or simply not know) that with each large-sized civil power reactor they promote, their suppliers contract to house several thousands times more radiation products than those released by the Hiroshima bomb. Setting aside this sheer madness, for the last 10 years and especially since 2005, nuclear mercantilism has rapidly grown as the effective and real mover. This extends far beyond simple market and sales maximising strategy, and the strategy is likely coordinated at high level among the key members of the NSG, who number less than 15 OECD countries. FROM PETRODOLLARS TO URANIUM DOLLARS The sales pitch for nuclear power is that we have to massively invest and spend if we want this unlimited energy. Only then will we touch down in Atomic Nirvana and we will finally have been promised since the 1950′s- energy that is too cheap to meter. Our fuel is uranium and this fuel is very far from rivalling world oil or other hydrocarbons for global turnover, with an approximate value around 13 billion USD in 2010, but as the nuclear industry likes to crow, uranium fuel costs are only around five percent of total operating costs. Uranium supplies are short, and import dependence for most major consumer countries is high. As a result, uranium fuel costs could likely grow, simply due to the permanent supply shortfall of this fuel for reactors and the heavy import dependence of nearly all major users in Europe, Japan and South Korea – incidentally making a mockery of the energy security claim used to sell nuclear energy. Accessing uranium supplies, mainly in Africa and Central Asia is already a bargaining chip for nuclear financial packaging and uranium supply features among the underlying movers in Chinese rivalry with OECD country interests in Africa, and Russian versus Western rivalry in Muslim Central Asia. Creating the debt-and-dependency hook, and recycling uranium dollars is therefore part and parcel of the nuclear sales drive in starkly unprepared low income countries – in the case of Sudan (Darfur is home to one of the three largest deposits of high-purity uranium in the world), a long-term civil war and in many others exposed to serious civil strife. FINANCIAL SHOCKER Until the Fukushima disaster threw a cloud over the so-called Nuclear Renaissance announced by the nuclear industry, this prefigured as many as 100 – 125 reactor sales in emerging and developing countries outside China and India in the 2010-2020 period. Excluding uranium supplies, fuel services (waste and reprocessing), electric power infrastructures and other parts of the nuclear value chain this pre-Fukushima sales target implied a global 10-year turnover value of at least 700 billion USD. With leverage and financial packaging through national debt and currency exchange rate linked paper, this could generate far above 100 trillion dollars in tradable value, and above all potentially re-create the long 1985-2000 period of Third World debt-driven dependence on OECD nation financial institutions and private banks. COPYRIGHT ANDREW MCKILLOP 2011 -
March 30, 2011 By 1 Comment
Editor’s Note: Please. Listen people, it’s time for a reality check. We’re going to just throw this out there for any of our confused readers who still believe- in their heart of hearts, that this attack on Libya is for humanitarian reasons. If you fall into this camp, well… you’ve been duped again. Iraq should have your wake up call, but we are aware that many people suffer from short-term memory loss. At some point, you will have to wake up and realise that powerful western financial interests are steering the economic takeover of these sovereign states, like parasites feeding off the resources of their new host. So we only ask that next time, when the sparks fly, watch as the players move in for the kill… Bloomberg Financial reports: Libyan rebels in Benghazi said they have created a new national oil company to replace the corporation controlled by leader Muammar Qaddafi whose assets were frozen by the United Nations Security Council. The “Transitional National Council” released a statement announcing the decision made at a March 19 meeting to establish the “Libyan Oil Company as supervisory authority on oil production and policies in the country, based temporarily in Benghazi, and the appointment of an interim director general” of the company. The Council also said it “designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and the appointment of a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.” The Security Council adopted a resolution on March 17 that froze the foreign assets of the Libyan National Oil Corp. and the Central Bank of Libya, both described in the text as “a potential source of funding” for Qaddafi’s regime. Libya holds Africa’s largest oil reserve. Output has fallen to fewer than 400,000 barrels a day,Shokri Ghanem, chairman of the National Oil Corp., said on March 19. The country produced 1.59 million barrels a day in January, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Exports may be halted for “many months” because of sanctions and unrest, the International Energy Agency said.
‘Extended Shutdown’Brent crude for May settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange fell 0.3 percent to $114.62 as of 8:50 a.m. It surged to a 2 1/2-year high of $119.79 on Feb 24 as geopolitical tensions spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The European benchmark will average $109 a barrel this year, up from a previous forecast of $98, on expectations of an “extended shutdown” of Libyan oil supplies, Societe Generale SA said in a monthly review dated yesterday. The statement by the Transitional National Council also said the rebels would “urgently prepare a file on the referral of Qaddafi and his gang and his associates involved in the killing of Libyans to the International Criminal Court.” The Security Council referred allegations of human rights violations by the Qaddafi regime to the court in a resolution adopted on Feb. 26. The statement said the council would begin choosing ambassadors to foreign countries. The UN said yesterday that Deputy Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, who broke with the regime last month and said he was then representing the rebels, was no longer Libya’s accredited ambassador. Ambassador Mohammed Shalgham, who also broke with the regime, similarly lost his accreditation when Qaddafi appointed former UN General Assembly President Abdussalam Treki as envoy to the world body. Treki hasn’t presented his credentials yet to Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, a prerequisite for officials taking the post. -
March 29, 2011 By 388 Comments
activist post March 29, 2011 It’s perplexing to see a high level of support for the unprovoked bombing of Libya on so-called “progressive” websites. There has been an endless stream of humanitarian propaganda flowing from these sites trying to convince average liberals that the “human thing to do” is to rain down tomahawk missiles with depleted uraniumto bring freedom and democracy to an oppressed people. Huffington Post ran a piece by Ed Schultz titled Why I Support President Obama’s Decision to Invade Libya where he described his reasoning as follows:
“President Obama explained this won’t be a long-term operation… Matter of days, not a matter of weeks. Not even months… He’s (Obama) trying to give the rebels, those who want democracy, a fighting chance at just that and trying to stop Gaddafi –this is the human thing to do — from slaughtering his own people.”By the very use of the word “invade” in the title, Schultz would seem to understand that the continued military support is likely to last for quite some time. Indeed, this was confirmed on Sunday morning when Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted that the operation could indeed last for months, which seems to debunk Schultz’s main argument that it’s only a days-long conflict. This justification is reminiscent of Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld falsely stating that the Iraq war would be quick and easy — only cost a couple of a billion dollars that would be paid for by Iraqi oil. Establishment progressives can no longer hide behind phony labels. They have officially joined the ranks of the War Party serving up American blood and treasure to support profits for the military-industrial complex and Big Oil, while compromising on austerity cuts at home. Related: central bank of libya is 100% state owned
March 29, 2011 By 20 Comments
The Economic Collapse March 29, 2011 The rebels in Libya are in the middle of a life or death civil war and Moammar Gadhafi is still in power and yet somehow the Libyan rebels have had enough time to establish a new Central Bank of Libya and form a new national oil company. Perhaps when this conflict is over those rebels can become time management consultants. They sure do get a lot done. What a skilled bunch of rebels – they can fight a war during the day and draw up a new central bank and a new national oil company at night without any outside help whatsoever. If only the rest of us were so versatile! But isn’t forming a central bank something that could be done after the civil war is over? According to Bloomberg, the Transitional National Council has “designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and the appointment of a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.” Apparently someone felt that it was very important to get pesky matters such as control of the banks and control of the money supply out of the way even before a new government is formed. Of course it is probably safe to assume that the new Central Bank of Libya will be 100% owned and 100% controlled by the newly liberated people of Libya, isn’t it? Most people don’t realize that the previous Central Bank of Libya was 100% state owned. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia’s article on the former Central Bank of Libya….
The Central Bank of Libya (CBL) is 100% state owned and represents the monetary authority in The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and enjoys the status of autonomous corporate body. The law establishing the CBL stipulates that the objectives of the central bank shall be to maintain monetary stability in Libya , and to promote the sustained growth of the economy in accordance with the general economic policy of the state.Since the old Central Bank of Libya was state owned, it was essentially under the control of Moammar Gadhafi. But now that Libya is going to be “free”, the new Central Bank of Libya will be run by Libyans and solely for the benefit of Libyans, right? Of course it is probably safe to assume that will be the case with the new national oil company as well, isn’t it? Over the past couple of years, Moammar Gadhafi had threatened to nationalize the oil industry in Libya and kick western oil companies out of the country, but now that Libya will be “free” the people of Libya will be able to work hand in hand with “big oil” and this will create a better Libya for everyone. Right? Of course oil had absolutely nothing to do with why the U.S. “inva—” (scratch that) “initiated a kinetic humanitarian liberty action” in Libya. When Barack Obama looked straight into the camera and told the American people that the war in Libya is in the “strategic interest” of the United States, surely he was not referring to oil. After all, war for oil was a “Bush thing”, right? The Democrats voted for Obama to end wars like this, right? Surely no prominent Democrats will publicly support this war in Libya, right? Surely Barack Obama will end the bombing of Libya if the international community begins to object, right? Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize. He wouldn’t deeply upset the other major powers on the globe and bring us closer to World War III, would he? Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has loudly denounced “coalition strikes on columns of Gaddafi’s forces” and he believes that the U.S. has badly violated the terms of the UN Security Council resolution….
“We consider that intervention by the coalition in what is essentially an internal civil war is not sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council resolution.”So to cool off rising tensions with the rest of the world, Obama is going to call off the air strikes, right? Well, considering the fact that Obama has such vast foreign policy experience we should all be able to rest easy knowing that Obama will understand exactly what to do. Meanwhile, the rebels seem to be getting the hang of international trade already. They have even signed an oil deal with Qatar! Rebel “spokesman” Ali Tarhouni has announced that oil exports to Qatar will begin in “less than a week“. Who knew that the rag tag group of rebels in Libya were also masters of banking and international trade? We sure do live in a strange world. Tonight, Barack Obama told the American people the following….
“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”So now we are going to police all of the atrocities in all of the other countries around the globe? The last time I checked, the government was gunning down protesters in Syria. Is it time to start warming up the Tomahawks? Or do we reserve “humanitarian interventions” only for those nations that have a lot of oil? In fact, atrocities are currently being committed all over Africa and in about a dozen different nations in the Middle East. Should we institute a draft so that we will have enough young men and women to police the world with? We all have to be ready to serve our country, right? The world is becoming a smaller place every day, and you never know where U.S. “strategic interests” are going to be threatened next. The rest of the world understands that we know best, right? Of course the rest of the world can surely see our good intentions in Libya, can’t they? Tensions with Russia, China and the rest of the Arab world are certainly going to subside after they all see how selfless our “humanitarian intervention” has been in Libya, don’t you think? In all seriousness, we now live in a world where nothing is stable anymore. Wars and revolutions are breaking out all over the globe, unprecedented natural disasters are happening with alarming frequency and the global economy is on the verge of total collapse. By interfering in Libya, we are just making things worse. Gadhafi is certainly a horrible dictator, but this was a fight for the Libyan people to sort out. We promised the rest of the world that we were only going to be setting up a “no fly zone”. By violating the terms of the UN Security Council resolution, we have shown other nations that we cannot be trusted and by our actions we have increased tensions all over the globe. - -
March 28, 2011 By 60 Comments
By Eric V. Encina 21st Century Wire March 28, 2011 One seldom mentioned fact by western politicians and media pundits: the Central Bank of Libya is 100% State Owned. The world’s globalist financiers and market manipulators do not like it and would continue to their on-going effort to dethrone Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi, bringing an end to Libya as independent nation. Currently, the Libyan government creates its own money, the Libyan Dinar, through the facilities of its own central bank. Few can argue that Libya is a sovereign nation with its own great resources, able to sustain its own economic destiny. One major problem for globalist banking cartels is that in order to do business with Libya, they must go through the Libyan Central Bank and its national currency, a place where they have absolutely zero dominion or power-broking ability. Hence, taking down the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) may not appear in the speeches of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy but this is certainly at the top of the globalist agenda for absorbing Libya into its hive of compliant nations. When the smoke eventually clears from all the cruise missiles and cluster bombs, you will see the Allied reformers move in to reform Libya’s monetary system, pumping it full of worthless dollars, priming it for a series of chaotic inflationary cycles. The CBL is currently a 100% state owned entity and represents the monetary authority in The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The financial structure and general operation procedures of a state bank is of course much different than that of an American or European based central bank. Form starters it is not privately owned, for-profit bank with a undisclosed list of private shareholders like the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England are. Libyan constitutional law establishing the CBL stipulates that its central bank maintains monetary stability in Libya and promotes sustained growth of its national economy. Libya also holds more bullion as a proportion of gross domestic product than any country except Lebanon, according to the London-based World Gold Council using January data from the International Monetary Fund. The value of gold is based on the March 25 close of $1,429.74 an ounce. Will this gold remain in Libya once Allied forces have taken control of Tripoli, or will it lost, or exchanged for pallets upon pallets of paper aka US dollars? FOLDING LIBYA INTO THE NEW WORLD ORDER In the Libyan banking charter, one of the primary mandates will be that it is regulating the quantity, quality and cost of credit to meet the requirements of economic growth and monetary stability. This of course, is the very opposite role which privately owned central banks play elsewhere in the world. Private central banks elsewhere create inflation, periodically inflating bubbles by design and then popping them in order to transfer large sums of wealth out of lower and middle class hands and into the hands of the financial elites. It is becoming easy to diagnose the very root-causes of chaos in the Middle East and the ongoing war-attacks against Libya. Finance, oil, militarization & imperialism, globalization- all of these comprise a running agenda for the New World Order. Egypt and Tunisia have both fallen to interim military dictatorships and have been hooked with billions in cheap loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank. Any country or nation that is running against the grain of this agenda- going against the orthodoxies of the New World Order, will eventually be flagged and brought to heal by way of military hammer. Regular acts of war against these non-globalist nation states are designed to humiliate, degrade and compromise international human rights- a condition that has become embarrassing to the world at large. CANADIAN PUPPET DESIGNATED AS LEADER FOR NATO’S LIBYAN OPERATION Most observers would claim that Canada is neutral in the Libyan conflict. But on this occasion, it’s been the consensus of the world axis of greedy powers that Canada will be running the front-of-house for their intervention in Libya’s civil chaos. With respect to Honourable Canadian leaders and officials, Canada’s participation in this particular war and in the cover-up for Obama in Libya is too adroit for the sake of profits and taking over resources in that particular region of the world. “Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay said Friday that Lt. General Charles Bouchard has been designated to lead the alliance’s military campaign in Libya. (Yahoo News, March 25, 2011). “Bouchard is stationed in Naples, Italy, at the Allied Joint Force Command. Bouchard’s recent job was deputy commander of NORAD, reporting to an American general. MacKay adds here, “He will be commander of the NATO operations, yet to be fully defined NATO operations”. Here is another challenge for the Canadian people. Another repercussion is that the Canadian budget will also be leached by such participations as the national Bank of Canada is also based on debt finance. If Canada, in not too distant future, would continue to participate in war(s), it would then become a fully fledged globalist war-nation, joining the likes of the USA and the UK. One wonders what will become a world that is at perpetually at war with itself? Why build wealth only to have it destroyed by wars? Why collect more taxes, spend and wantonly waste state revenue, create money out of nothing at the point of usury, and lend and/or borrow money at interest that disastrously piles up national debt at sky-rocketing rates? We see the results time and time again: the economy collapse, creation of poverty, and the continuing finance of weapons’ manufacturing, arms sales and the most technologically sophisticated wars in history that cause the most unimaginable devastations and irreparable damages to human lives and nations. If the Western based foreign policies continued to be war-based, bent on controlling the world’s resources, there seems to be no worse future for mankind. One big reason for the Western assault on Libya: Libya owns and issues its own money. - Author Eric V. Encina is based in the Philippines and works as an activist and social reformer. He is also an advocate of Social Credit. RELATED: Wow, That Was Fast! Libyan Rebels Have Already Established New Central Bank Of Libya
March 25, 2011 By 302 Comments
By Andrew McKillop 21st Century Wire March 25, 2011 What the atomic energy lobby calls The Nuclear Renaissance is advance warning of uncontrolled and runaway financial and economic disaster. This adds on to vastly growing risks of industrial disaster like we have witnessed this month in Japan, nuclear weapons proliferation, and reactors turned into and used as massive Dirty Bombs while their wastes are recycled as Depleted Uranium ordnance. The so-called ‘Nuclear Renaissance’ could or might see as many as 225 new large-size reactors built in as many as 45 countries, through 2010-2020. World uranium demand – already at least 20 percent more than uranium mine supply – could almost double in the same period. Presently almost unknown to the public and ignored by the media, national security and even the concept and present reality of nation states is under threat. Nuclear accidents, nuclear weapons production, and financial disaster triggered by the nuclear subprime asset bubble now under way are direct challenges to the existence of nation states. Nuclear power has ever less credibility as its costs spiral upward, pumping ever growing amounts of taxpayers’ money to feed the beast in every country treading the nuclear path, as is shown by any rational analysis of the nuclear industry’s energy and economic facts. But the real strategic role of civil nuclear power, despite it being able to yield nuclear weapons in “a few screwdriver turns”, is now economic and financial. Fast increasing numbers of civil reactors, uranium mines, fuel fabrication and reprocessing plants, waste fuel centres and “plutonium repositories” across the world have generated a surge of political and corporate, economic and finance sector elite support. Nuclear power is the new “No Alternative”, shading down and crowding out the reality that massive volumes and quantities of nuclear materials, in any country, destroy all reality of national defense and the nation state. The choice is simple: nuclear power or national defence. In the coming decade we will have to choose between the atom and the nation. Conventional war, like conventional nation states is not credible in a world with 45 or more nuclear power using states. Due to certain assured massive destruction of the economy when, or if , large reactors and nuclear installation are hit… conventional war is finished. Do our political leaders know this, as they sign ever bigger reactor and nuclear fuel contracts with a growing list of low income Emerging economy countries? How many politicians are factoring this into their decision making? CHERNOBYL – THE FINAL SOLUTION The world’s civil nuclear power system is a giant-sized Chernobyl-type dirty bomb offering no energy security or freedom from oil. Quantities of plutonium produced worldwide by civil reactors are already about 22 tons a year – enough for more than 2000 Hiroshima-sized bombs every year. By 2020 this could rise to 3500 per year. Oil saving due to the atom is negligible. In a fast growing number of countries both the size and complexity of nuclear installations is also rising fast. Reactor building costs and prices are exploding, with the inflation rate in 2010 close to 25 percent per year. Only a few types of reactor, especially underground or ‘hardened’ military reactors can resist a wide-body airplane crashing on them. Their costs are astronomic as shown by the European EPR, whose proud boast is that it could also resist a wide-body plane crash – at fantastic cost. But almost no reactor of any kind will resist entirely conventional ballistic missiles, conventional artillery shells, conventional anti-tank and anti-building munitions, and infantry launched or drone launched missiles. The reality is inescapable. All are totally vulnerable to operator error and IT safety system failures. Every single one of them is a potential Doomsday Machine. Reactors will also not resist worst-case seismic damage, as the Earth’s tectonic systems shift to a new long-term period of cooling climate and intensified volcanic activity, driving increased numbers of major seismic events. Due to the world’s uranium supply and fuel reprocessing system being totally fossil energy dependent, the vaunted claim of “Low Carbon Nuclear” is more of a marketing myth than the Friendly Atom. NUCLEAR RENAISSANCE We are promised or threatened the so-called Nuclear Renaissance. This is shorthand for a return to the rates of reactor orders and completions closer to those of the nuclear industry’s previous heydays and high times, dating from the first Oil Shock of the 1970s and by overdrive into the early 1980s. At the time and for 10 years one new reactor came on line every 17 days. Uranium prices and reactor construction costs exploded. The result was simple: the nuclear asset bubble imploded. The industry downsized, restructured, forced mergers took place, tens of thousands of jobs were lost – and Big Government, that is the taxpayers, paid for the party. Today, like the 1970s, nuclear power is again promoted as the fast track to energy independence - and for delivering supposedly Low Carbon energy to fight global warming from burning fossil fuels. To be sure, the rationale is bizarre: nuclear energy claims to deliver energy security, but there is massive import dependence for uranium supply in nearly all nations using civil nuclear power systems. This is perhaps because uranium exporter countries are not yet seen as “terror supporting regimes”, not yet accused of overcharging for their uranium exports. This will soon change as uranium prices spike up to unknown peaks. ATOMIC SURPRISES ARE BAD SURPRISES Nuclear boomers dream in print they have the Final Solution to all safety risks, cost limits and uranium fuel shortages, that might or could bar mankind’s route to nuclear powered Universal Prosperity. This essentially cornucopian dream – very ironically – came from the fusion of two supposedly total opposite world views. In the deep Cold War period of extreme American defence of capitalism, and extreme Soviet defence of totalitarian state control, through the 40 years from the late 1940s until 1989, both regimes placed all their military faith in nuclear weapons. Both also linked civil and military nuclear power, then fused them into a nuclear technological utopia. This ideology-spanning facet of the all nuclear solution, joining civil and military in a seamless web of myth, makes it unsurprising that China and India, and other big states, or would-be big states of today are fully embarked in the Nuclear Renaissance. Certainly for the Big 5 UN Security Council declared nuclear weapons states, any pretence that civil nuclear, and military nuclear are not 100% linked and totally interdependent, is a complete farce. All the Big 5 Security Council states started their nuclear story with a fevered race to develop nuclear weapons, then made a few screwdriver turns to spin-off and start their civil nuclear systems - always with fantastic government cash subsidies. Despite this, by a strange form of mass schizophrenia among the political elites of these states, nuclear power is imagined to be cheap and economic – and of course… safe ! Yet, the reality of dirty bomb capability for each and every large sized reactor anywhere on earth, is stoically denied. So as we wait patiently in the shadow of the fallout cloud, the myth of the nation state continues. The permanent denial of civil and military nuclear power being one and the same has likely favoured the most proliferative-possible, most vulnerable-possible civil nuclear systems worldwide, both in the “old nuclear” countries, and in the 15 or more new nuclear states that the Nuclear Renaissance may bring. In any case, the historic reality of international wars started by one nation and fought against another nation is now obsolete. Any nation with sizeable nuclear installations on its home territory is vulnerable to devastating attack using entirely conventional, non-nuclear weapons of the type possessed by dozens of states and nations, today. This reality hides the awesome question: who will look after nuclear power using states when they have suffered economic, political and social meltdown in civil, international, or terror wars ? Who can step in to prevent worst-case damage all the nation’s nuclear plants and fuel facilities? If we ask the key question: “Can we be certain this awesome challenge is understood by our political elites and the opinion formers who control our press and media ?”, and still all we hear is silence, there is no answer. THE END OF NATIONS? The fully globalized economy is described by many as a certain death sentence for the nation state. Nuclear power proliferation sets the exact same No Future full stop for the nation. With a fully developed global nuclear power system the historical trend or social instinct of the nation state has no place and must disappear. To be sure, large nuclear reactors and facilities will surely serve, as they already do for Iran today as last-ditch anti-invasion defence, but they are also prepositioned enemy weapons for hostile opponents not necessarily wanting to invade and occupy. Only to destroy. The asymmetric war potential is almost open-ended. This can inject new themes for the flagging ”Bin Laden industry” of technology-terror potboiler books, films and docu-dramas, but the reality of nuclear power’s threat to the nation state must be addressed. In a civil war, which reactor will get hit, first ? So what are we left with? The linked illusions of the nation state and national security must be abandoned, if the world’s political and corporate elites want to pursue the chimera of cheap and safe atomic energy. Otherwise our leaders will have to stay hopeful and ignore the civil nuclear overkill threat, while they continue to pump state funds into the economic failure of nuclear power. When we wake up to hear the incredible and fantastic worst case has already happened- as we have these last few weeks with Japan’s own major accident, or later because of operator error, or even in the shape of purposeful military or terror attack on large civil nuclear installations, it will be too late – much too late. - Andrew McKillop is guest writer and energy markets analyst for 21st Century Wire. He has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has extensive experience in energy policy, project administration, including the development and financing of alternate energy.