It never ceases to amaze that we vote people into positions. Those people that we have voted in elect in turn (or just go ahead and appoint without an election, making it all look very transparent) other people who are not as important but who will have the possibility of choosing (apparently in an “open, merit-based, and transparent manner”) someone who will be more important than they are, but less important than the first person that is in the voting/appointment chain.
If you look at the history of financial crises in Argentina, you will see there is almost no 10-year period when there isn't a financial crisis. Argentines have become masters at dealing with things like inflation and ridiculous government policies. How can the actions of the Argentine government give us insight into what a desperate government is capable of and what might be in store for the United States? The current Argentine government is dominated by true believers – young people who have that idealistic notion of equality for all, and who believe that government mandates can fix anything that ails. They are hardcore socialists, leaning towards communism. But, as is the case in the United States, they really don't know what they are doing and so pursue policies that are incredibly shortsighted. They are uninformed as far as history and economics are concerned and blunder from one harebrained policy to another. There is literally nothing that they will not try. It is like a textbook case in government gone mad. There is a lesson to be learned from all of this, and I think it is a very important one. When it comes right down to it, any government – not just the Argentine government, but the US government as well – will simply do whatever it thinks it needs to do to keep the status quo intact, with no moral or ethical considerations.
It's one thing for broke Argentina to nationalize assets of just as broke Spain. However when tiny west-African country Gabon decides to "seize" assets from three international oil companies including China's petrochemical giant Sinopec, things not only get interesting, but puts a brand new pawn on the global geopolitical chessboard. But why is Gabon seeking to antagonize some of the primary participants in its crude extraction supply chain? Simple: leverage, or its own perception thereof. As the FT reports, this surprising move comes as Gabon prepares to "launch a licensing round for the deep waters off its coast. Experts say reserves in the Gabon Basin could rival deep offshore discoveries in Brazil."
The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron has convened a meeting with ministers from overseas territories (Bermuda, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands) in London it has been announced.
Looks like France is waking up with a hangover this morning and will be in need of some hair of the dog to get through China’s statement today that there will be an anti-dumping probe carried out by the latter on wine exports from the EU. France’s Trade Ministry is worried and has made a public call on the rest of the EU27 to take a collective decision.
Talks are still on-going between the IMF and Egypt over future loans worth up to $4.8 billion to get the country back on its feet. Arab aid from the IMF in the entire region has hit the $10 billion mark in the last year alone. But, if there is not action taken pretty soon, Egypt will fall into uncontrollable depths of inflation and unemployment and see unrest increase in the country.
Bulls and Bears. It’s all about predicting when that upturn or that downswing in the market is going to take place and when you need to sell or buy that stock to hit the jackpot and make the millions. People have been doing it for centuries and that doesn’t look like it is going to stop right now. There have been dozens of financial crises over the centuries and each of them has had an effect on the lives of people to varying degrees.
Are you ready for the next stock-market crash of the century? The Hindenburg Omen was spotted by eagle eyes on April 15th. It was confirmed by a sighting on May 29th. That gives us 40 days approximately before the market takes a plunge (apparently). That’s enough to spark fears on the market that we are in for a shaky time, but are those fears really justified and will the market plunge as the Hindenburg Omen predicts?
Consumer confidence in the US stands at 76.2 in May 2013 (1985=100). That’s an increase from 58.4 in January. The Conference Board’s figures show that things have not looked so good for months. Things seem to be looking up. But, is the US consumer right to believe in the market and that the economy is getting better and the medicine is working?
Virtual currencies were hailed as revolutions. They were the way forward., the way to overhaul the system and the way to replace the Dollar, Sterling, the Euro and the rest of them. But, just last week Liberty Reserve was closed down for illicit transactions and money-laundering activities that could have nothing more than repercussions for the rest of the companies living quietly in the auspices of cyberspace doing more or less the same sort of activity.
Joseph Eugene Stiglitz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001. We have constructed the world in which we live on recognition and awards. But, they are just for giving. They are not for anything else. We take no heed of what the ones that have been recognized might have to say or declare. They can go blue in their face, we have delusions of grandeur. Who gave them the prize anyhow?
The Great Economic Transformation! The Chinese are suckers for adjectives to describe and give power and eminence to their attributes, actions or constructions. The Long March. The Cultural Revolution. The Great Wall, the Yellow River. A good adjective always makes it sound as if it’s true. The Chinese have taken over as the superlative attributor to everything. The tallest (soon-to-be) building in China, the Shanghai Tower, is the living proof that China plans on making itself into a byword for superlatives it’s ‘–est’ everything these days.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is a wonderful piece of linguistic wizardry. It can be read in two different ways. Either the 'tough' become fully engaged in combat and fight it out till the bitter end or the ‘tough’ up sticks and move out. It was supposedly Joseph P. Kennedy (father of US President John F. Kennedy) that gets the praise for having said it first.
In these troubled times, there are things that are much nicer to think about or look at as indicators of how business is going and who’s buying what and who’s off-loading where. It’s not all boring traders sitting behind desks and beads of sweat dripping down foreheads, and scoffing sandwiches and choking on pretzels as the dollar takes a dive or we learn that the bond sell-off is underway as the Federal Reserve pulls the plug. Have you had enough of Abenomics? Have you had enough of the Obamanometer to measure economic growth?
Some of my first memories of television are of a series called The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, which was a witty combination of animated cartoons about the exploits of the title characters, Rocket "Rocky" J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose and their nemeses, two Pottsylvanian nogoodniks spies, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. The show was filled with current event commentary, political and social satire. The show was also filled with commentary on economic and market conditions that resonated with the parents watching the show while the kids focused on the cartoons. Each show ended with the narrator describing the current cliffhanger with a pair of related titles, usually with a bad pun intended. So let's adapt some of my favorite Rocky and Bullwinkle episode titles to modern day; we might see that there are some political and economic challenges that are timeless, as it appears we have been doing the same thing over and over for decades and expecting different results.