While the western media paints Vladmir Putin as some cross between Napoleon and Hitler marauding across Europe breaking international laws willy-nilly, there is one red line he is apparently unwilling to cross. In a somewhat surprising turn of events, none other than Edward Snowden called in to a Putin live telethon and asked the Russian President: "Does Russia intercept millions of citizens’ data?" Putin's response (whether true or not) is worth paying attention to by his opponent on the world stage: "Russia uses surveillance techniques for spying on individuals only with the sanction of a court order. This is our law, and therefore there is no mass surveillance in our country."
Rickards does not expressly say one should put 33% of one’s wealth in gold but suggests that an allocation of between 10% and 33% would be prudent. In this regard, he echos Dr Marc Faber who suggested a 25% allocation to precious metals last week.
Among other things, there is one major obstacle to the West's "costs" imposition on Vladimir Putin and his Russian economy - China. So far, a Xi Jinping has described, China has been a "sleeping lion" but today "the lion is awake" and with the Chinese President's first trip to Europe, as WSJ reports, western leaders are hoping to enlist his support over the crisis in Ukraine. However, privately, European diplomats concede that China's relationship with Russia remains solid and that was evidenced by their most recent investment in Russia's $10bn state-backed Direct Investment Fund (which just happens to be run by a former Goldman Sachs banker. It seems "money talks" once again and China will likely continue to play the middle ground.
What exactly is happening in this globalized world? What’s happening in the world that one day somebody constructed in which everybody had access to everybody’s private life via social networks and even some had access to it through special programs that they gave fancy names to like Prism and the President’s Surveillance Program?
The structural incompetence of centralized, wrong-unit-size agencies and central banks is global: the centralized strategies of China, Japan, the European Union and yes, Russia, too, will all fail for the same reasons: organizations with a few limited controls are intrinsically incapable of managing complex systems.
When you ponder the implications of allowing a small group of powerful wealthy unaccountable men to control the currency of a nation over the last one hundred years, you understand why our public education system sucks. The average American has experienced a fourteen year recession caused by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Our leaders could have learned the lesson of two Fed induced collapses in the space of eight years and voluntarily abandoned the policies of reckless credit expansion, instead embracing policies encouraging saving, capital investment and balanced budgets. They have chosen the same cure as the disease, which will lead to crisis, catastrophe and collapse.
Blaming the weather for the sullen state of corporate or economic affairs has become a daily occurrence by analysts, pundits and corporate chieftains. However, Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone notes that while there has undoubtedly been a larger-than-normal impact this year, some sub-components of headline indicators suggest underlying weakness without the influence of snowstorms. Sinking economic activity cannot be blamed solely on poor weather, he adds, noting one client's comment that, "If we adjusted for weather, Napoleon would have taken Russia in 1812."
Today, as a result of the Ukrainian crisis, U.S.-Russian relations have hit their lowest point since the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 or of Czechoslovakia in 1969 — or perhaps even since they bottomed out during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The crisis escalated into a conflict between the U.S. and Russia after the West supported a coup, then lied by violating the Feb. 21 agreement when it recognized the formation of a new and illegitimate government of extremists. This conflict has the potential of sparking a new Cold War — something we never thought could happen in modern times since we believed it would have to be rooted in ideological differences. Moscow does not see the revolution in Ukraine as an attempt to create a more democratic or law-based society. Instead, it sees the events in Kiev as an attempt to make Ukraine as anti-Russian as possible.
Rather than attempt to reduce a very complex system to a cartoonish "explanation" of events, we would be better served by seeking out the geopolitical linchpins that have proven key in every era and theater of operations. These include Energy, Transport routes, Military control of transport and geographical chokepoints, and The support or resistance of resident populaces
Hiding behind the big boys (literally) appears to be the m.o. of France's President Hollande who declared today that "there will be no referendum in Crimea without Ukraine's agreement," and added that it is a necessity for Russia to "accept the solution." We suspect Vladimir Putin will have something to say about that but who is going to argue with Hollande given the following image...
Credit is a wonderful tool that can help advance the division of labor, thereby increasing productivity and prosperity. The granting of credit enables savers to spread their income over time, as they prefer. By taking out loans, investors can implement productive spending plans that they would be unable to afford using their own resources. The economically beneficial effects of credit can only come about, however, if the underlying credit and monetary system is solidly based on free-market principles. And here is a major problem for today’s economies: the prevailing credit and monetary regime is irreconcilable with the free market system.
Ukraine and Thailand are in the midst of chaotic turmoil right now, characterized by riots and violent clashes between protestors and police. It reminds us of the old quote from Louis XVI upon being informed in 1789 that the French people had stormed the Bastille. “Is it a revolt?”, the King asked; “No, sire,” the duke replied, “It is a revolution.” History is packed with examples of how people rise up in the streets whenever economic conditions deteriorate. The French Revolution in 1789 is one famous example where the people finally reached their breaking points after nearly starving to death. In our system we award a tiny elite with the power to kill, steal, wage war, educate our children, and conjure unlimited quantities of paper money out of thin air. This is just plain silly. The real answer is within ourselves.
East Asia is becoming, in the language of international relations theory, "bipolar." Until recently, Asia was arguably “multipolar” - there was no one state large enough to dominate and many roughly equal states competed for influence. China’s dramatic rise has unbalanced that rough equity. Until recently, China pursued a “peaceful rise” strategy, one of accommodation and mutual adjustment. This approach sought to forestall an anti-Chinese encircling coalition. Since 2009 however, China has increasingly resorted to bullying and threats. All this then sets up a bipolar contest between China and Japan, in the context of China’s rapid rise toward regional dominance and such goals would broadly fit with what we have seen in the behavior of previous hegemons and a potential Sinic Monroe Doctrine.
The potential for transformation can be expressed in one simple phrase: it doesn't have to be this way. The structures that benefit from dominating the current system maintain their dominance by convincing us that "the way it is" is inevitable and impervious to systemic change. That is the primary mythology that generates and maintains their dominance..."Induce people all to want the same thing, hate the same things, feel the same threat, then their behavior is already captive--you have acquired your consumers or your cannon-fodder."