By hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia has brought a surge of international attention to the state of its economy, its interethnic relations, its domestic politics, and its foreign policy. Already much of the scrutiny has become unwelcome. The reluctance of many foreign leaders to come to Sochi provides a convenient scorecard by which to evaluate Russia’s global standing. Corruption, terrorism, human rights protests, high-level no-shows—all these represent ways in which the Sochi Olympics have embarrassed Putin. Yet in each case, the problem goes well beyond any connection to the Games. Each reflects a major tension in the system that Putin has created...
As the State of the Union address highlighted, both the Russia Federation and the United States have leaders that lean toward various degrees of autocratic government to achieve their agendas. President Putin rules with an iron fist and treats the legislative branch as an afterthought to use as needed but otherwise ignores. President Obama declares he will use executive action to get what he wants and quietly uses government agencies to intimidate and stifle his opposition in flagrant abuses of power. Putin has dismantled the Russian free press and imprisoned vocal opponents. The majority of the American press does Obama’s bidding for him while the administration puts movie makers in jail.
Another day, another European nation is hit by violent riots as protests over the economy and corruption spilled over violently into the street, this time Bosnia where more than 150 people were wounded on Friday in the worst civil unrest in the country since the 1992-95 war. The reason: anger over the dire state of domestic politics, the economic collapse and especially the country's 40% unemployment rate. The Telegraph reports that angry protesters set fire to part of the presidential palace in Sarajevo, as well as government buildings in the capital Sarajevo, Tuzla and Zenica. At least 80 people were injured in Sarajevo and 10 in Zenica, authorities said. There were no immediate casualty figures from Tuzla, where the worst of the fighting was.
Raise your hands if you are surprised that, as has emerged, virtually every major bank was manipulating currencies (and everything else) whether as part of the "Bandits' Club", the "Cartel" or some other - until recently- secret message room. That's what we thought. Now raise your hand if you thought the manipulation could be so pervasive, so glaring and so in your face, that even the oldest central bank - the Bank of England - and who knows how many other monetary authorities, were openly encouraging traders from these private banks to do more of the illegal activity they had been engaging in - namely manipulating currencies - with their explicit blessing knowing very well such behavior is undisputedly illegal. We hope at least one or two hands went up, because which it is one thing to be cynical about what is going on behind the scenes, it is something else to see the edifice of global corruption and criminality, whose only purpose was to preserve the status quo, unwinding before your very eyes substantiated by actual facts.
In the below video, we discuss the power of the lone dissenter to connect the dots of global economic disenfranchisement for billions of people worldwide.
COMEX inventories are collapsing, how much longer until we get a "run" on the Comex?
Once the mafia state of mind has seeped into every nook and cranny of the society and economy, it's not even recognized as corruption: it's simply the way the system works. And so the residents of nominal democracies in Asia, Europe and the Americas do not even realize how thoroughly corrupted their societies and economies really are; they cling to the illusions of choice even as their incomes, wealth and political influence are funneled into the hands of various elites by overlapping extortion rackets.
With reporters stunned by Sochi's unreadiness and athletes now quitting individual events on the lack of preparedness of the snow, the Winter Olympics in Russia is off to a less than stellar start. The last time Russia hosted the Olympics – the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow - the Soviet Union was a superpower, stagnant but stable. Not so today, notes Nina Khruschcheva; Putin’s Russia is weak, tawdry, and corrupt – and underserving as an Olympic host. The atmosphere surrounding the Sochi Games reflects many of Russia’s worst traits. In the immortal words of former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, describing the country’s economic transition of the 1990’s: “We hoped for the best, but things turned out as usual.”
Once again the smell of NAPALM is in the air
As if we didn’t know it already! The Western world is the ultimate destination for corruption, pulling a swift one and swiping the valuables from the inside pocket of the guy’s pants standing in front of you as he keeps his beady eye on the economy.
We find it truly extraordinary that anyone is surprised the financial system is under duress again.
With the Greeks facing up to their third (or 4th or 5th, who's counting anymoe anyway) bailout, proclaiming growth is just around the corner, that the crisis is behind them, and that slavery will solve European youth unemployment; we thought it both ironic and sad that, as Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, the European Commission today publishes its first anti-corruption report and finds Greece has the most corrupt public sector, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
Detroit U.S.A.: Once the most prosperous city in America. With a booming manufacturing sector and cultural magnetism, the city had bright horizons after World War II. But as the 1960?s rolled in, the marriage of Big Business and Big Government overtook Detroit. The central planners in government needed the powerful corporations, and the powerful corporations came to depend on the bureaucracy, too. The marriage worked well for the politicians and for their corporate cronies, but Detroit itself entered a decades-long decline. How did so much money change hands between the world's most powerful corporate leaders and government officials while delivering on so little of the promise sold to America by central planners? Bankrupt: How Cronyism & Corruption Took Down Detroit answers this question, and many others.
Philadelpia may have booed Santa Claus, but last night it was New York's turn to boo a not so jolly, calorie-challenged man, embattled NJ governor Chris Christie, during the ceremonial Super Bowl “handoff” at Times square. However, in the aftermath of Friday's NYT revelations that evidence exists that Christie was aware about the real reason behind the bridge closures as they happened, onlookers only had a brief 30 seconds during which to boo Christie before he promptly departed the stage on his own.
17 years ago, the first major Emerging Market crisis started in Thailand, leading to the Russian default and the collapse of LTCM ushering in the era of Too Big To Fail. This time, all the world needed for the second major EM crisis, was for Ben Bernanke to announce he is giving global central planning a break (because one can be certain the Untaper will be right back on the agenda as soon as the S&P enters a bear market). Ironically, Thailand has largely been insulated from the EM decimation, even through it is now in as bad a political shape as it ever was, and one day ahead of the February 2 general elections things are getting from bad to worse. AFP reports that explosions and heavy gunfire rattled Bangkok Saturday as pro- and anti-government protesters clashed on the eve of controversial Thai elections seen as unlikely to end a cycle of violence in the kingdom after months of opposition rallies.