en Occupied By Wall Street – The Latest TARP Taxpayer Screw-Job Is Revealed <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog</em></a>,</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>The Treasury-created market has benefited a few savvy investors, while saddling taxpayers with a loss. Three private funds, which the report didn&rsquo;t name, have won almost half the shares available at auction, often netting either a profit on paper or on the resale,&nbsp;<a class="icon none" href="" target="_blank">according to the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program</a>. The Treasury, which has held 185 auctions to date, said it has raised about $3 billion on TARP investments that were originally valued at $3.8 billion, for a loss of $800 million at the auctions.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>The Treasury &ldquo;set up this market where investors could come in quickly and flip and profit,&rdquo; said Christy Romero, TARP&rsquo;s special inspector general, in an interview.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ndash; From the<em> Wall Street Journal</em> article:&nbsp;<a href="">Hedge Funds, Private Equity Win Big at TARP Auctions</a></p> </blockquote> <p>One story that I&rsquo;ve told several&nbsp;times on this site has to do with the day TARP passed. How I got into work extremely early and starting irately&nbsp;yelling about how TARP represented the end of America as we knew it. There weren&rsquo;t many people on the trading floor at the time, but my boss was there and he <strong><a href="">told me to take a &ldquo;walk around the block.&rdquo;</a></strong> I politely declined, but continued to seethe at my desk.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s almost shocking to see the horrific transformation that has occurred in the subsequent six years. It&rsquo;s so bad, that many people now take things that would&rsquo;ve been considered unconscionable just a few years ago as part of the &ldquo;new normal.&rdquo; There will be a horrible price to pay for this perspective.</p> <p>The latest scam unveiled by the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> is just the latest example of how and why all the income during the oligarch recovery has gone to, well, oligarchs.</p> <p>From the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>WASHINGTON&mdash;<strong>A government program to rid itself of TARP investments in small banks has proved a boon to hedge funds, private-equity and other private investors, according to a new watchdog report.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>That&rsquo;s the least surprising thing I&rsquo;ve read today.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>As the Treasury Department looks to exit from its taxpayer-backed investments in these lenders, private investors like hedge funds and others have stepped in and scooped up about 70% of the shares auctioned by the U.S. government. Other buyers included banks, institutional investors and brokers buying shares on behalf of other entities.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The Treasury-created market has benefited a few savvy investors, while saddling taxpayers with a loss. Three private funds, which the report didn&rsquo;t name, have won almost half the shares available at auction, often netting either a profit on paper or on the resale,<a class="icon none" href="" target="_blank">according to the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program</a>. The Treasury, which has held 185 auctions to date, said it has raised about $3 billion on TARP investments that were originally valued at $3.8 billion, for a loss of $800 million at the auctions.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The Treasury &ldquo;set up this market where investors could come in quickly and flip and profit,&rdquo; said Christy Romero, TARP&rsquo;s special inspector general, in an interview.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>As the new owners of the bank&rsquo;s shares, the funds can profit by reselling them back to the bank at a premium.</strong> At one auction, the report said, a bidder won the shares for $3 million less than taxpayers had originally paid. Eight months later, the same bidder sold the shares back to the bank at a $1.6 million profit. Banks sometimes repurchase the shares to avoid dividend payments, which are generally at 9% of principal, or because they don&rsquo;t want to owe money to the outside investors.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Treasury officials say the risk of losing money at the auctions was necessary to ensure taxpayers weren&rsquo;t holding the potentially risky bank investments for years to come.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, suckers, it&rsquo;s for your own good.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>A Hildene fund that holds the vast majority of the firm&rsquo;s TARP holdings gained about 18% last year, an investor update shows, five times the pace for hedge funds overall tracked by HFR Inc.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Further proof, as if you needed any, that crony insider deals is where the real money is.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>EJF Capital LLC, the $6 billion Arlington, Va., hedge-fund firm, also holds a large stake in TARP securities,</strong> according to investor documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Naturally, based in Arlington. Right in the belly of the cancer.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>&ldquo;As a banker I was happy, but as a taxpayer I was not at all happy,&rdquo; said Chief Financial Officer Donald Boyer. &ldquo;The discount came out of taxpayers&rsquo; pockets.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Yep, that pretty much sums up everything that&rsquo;s happened since TARP first passed.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="300" height="251" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Institutional Investors New Normal Private Equity recovery TARP Treasury Department Wall Street Journal Fri, 30 Jan 2015 03:50:36 +0000 Tyler Durden 501188 at "There Is No Reality Anymore..." <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Thad Beversdorf via First Rebuttal blog</em></a>,</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><u><strong>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d Like to Change the World, but I Don&rsquo;t Know How So I&rsquo;ll Leave it Up to You&rdquo;</strong></u></em></p> </blockquote> <p>What a great lyric that&nbsp;is from the late 60&prime;s, early 70&prime;s English band &rsquo;10 Years After&rsquo;. <strong>&nbsp;I believe this describes that uneasy feeling of discontent that sits deep in the stomach, beneath the&nbsp;day to day exteriors, of so many people today. &nbsp;The world is like a black hole in that it seems to be getting smaller and smaller as the years go by but also heavier and heavier with each passing day.</strong></p> <p>When I was a teenager and my friends and I were taking reality obscuring substances, one of my buddies (this means you Nichol) would stop us at certain points throughout the night for a reality check. &nbsp;This was just a few moments where we&rsquo;d all gather our senses to make sure the world was still right and then we&rsquo;d venture back into obscurity. &nbsp;<strong>I feel that reality is an old world term. &nbsp;There is no reality anymore. &nbsp;With advances in technology came unending possibilities of if you can dream it &lsquo;they&rsquo; can make it so. &nbsp;The ubiquitous flow of information ensures that the truth is always available&nbsp;but never known with certainty. &nbsp;It means there is no such thing as a reality check. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s like that dream inside a dream inside a dream. &nbsp;Which reality is real anymore? &nbsp;How deep does the rabbit hole go?</strong></p> <p><u><strong>We are raised with pretty standard ideals of what the world is meant to be but these ideals seem to take place only in the movies. &nbsp;It must be incredibly difficult for our young people to reconcile the two worlds, I know it is for me. </strong></u>&nbsp;That which they learn as a child and that which they find has replaced it as a young adult. &nbsp;Our &lsquo;leaders&rsquo; our despicable arrogant and egotistical fools who pretend we elect them because we don&rsquo;t see them for what they are. &nbsp;But we elect them because we feel we have no choice. &nbsp;We know what we want the world to be. &nbsp;We know what it should look and feel like. &nbsp;And we know it is not the world in which we live today. &nbsp;&ldquo;I know I&rsquo;d like to change the world but I don&rsquo;t know how and so I&rsquo;ll leave it up to you&rdquo;. &nbsp;And so we continue to move forward down this path each step uneasy as though something ungood is lurking just around the next corner.</p> <p><strong>We are able to put that feeling out of our minds for the most part but our subconscious is always aware that things are off. </strong>&nbsp;We have all kinds of self help books and new &ndash; new age theories that attempt to make sense of it all and explain why we just aren&rsquo;t happy the way we envision happy should be. &nbsp; Perhaps the only reality is the reality that the world isn&rsquo;t what we had hoped it would be and we don&rsquo;t know how to make that right. &nbsp;I&rsquo;d love to say that if we just stand up and do the right thing, act from our hearts and have good intentions that it could change the world. &nbsp;But quite honestly there are ill-ententioned people that are constructing this new world in which we sub-exist. &nbsp;It is &lsquo;them&rsquo; and us but they&rsquo;d never say it that way. &nbsp;Certainly though their intention is not for us to co-exist along side them.</p> <p><strong>But&nbsp;so we carry on and we, move forward, to the best of our abilities. </strong>&nbsp;We accept the good with the bad and acknowledge that everything is a trade off. &nbsp;We believe that if we go to college we stand a better chance in life and so we borrow our first 10 years of post college wages to get an edge over the next guy who is doing the same. &nbsp;When we get out of school we know that it is time to buckle down and get serious. &nbsp;We put our &lsquo;lives&rsquo; on hold in order to focus on the future with the idea that one day we will be sitting on the porch with the&nbsp;person we love, the one we put on hold for all those years and we will then enjoy our life&rsquo;s work then.</p> <p><strong>But then we get further in debt because we need a sleeker car and we need a bigger house but it&rsquo;s ok because we can just work a little more. </strong>&nbsp;And then the kids come and as far as we got to know them they are great, I think. &nbsp;But it&rsquo;s ok because they just finished college and now they&rsquo;ve moved back in as the job market is tough out there and so we&rsquo;re paying off their student loans. &nbsp;Eventually they get away and begin their life&rsquo;s journey and they take&nbsp;their debt with them. &nbsp;And then we realize, god I&rsquo;m almost 60. &nbsp; But it feels great because that means soon I&rsquo;ll be there on the porch getting&nbsp;to know the one I love again and life will be grand at that point.</p> <p><strong>But then we turn 65 and we realize all those policies that were implemented by all those &lsquo;well-intentioned&rsquo; decisions makers have actually left us with very little. </strong>&nbsp;And we say it&rsquo;s ok because we&rsquo;d be bored anyway just sitting on the porch. &nbsp;And so we take a job waving at people in Walmart but&nbsp;feel like OMG how did I get here. &nbsp;But the shift ends&nbsp;and we go home anxious to spend time with the one we love because although it&rsquo;s a terrible thought we are aware we&rsquo;re both getting long in the tooth. &nbsp;And so we arrive home only to realize the one we love is now sick and that it&rsquo;s too late for our days sitting on the porch getting to know each other again. &nbsp;We do everything we can but we cannot afford to help that person who stood quietly behind us&nbsp;all those years as healthcare costs are unrealistically out of touch with &lsquo;reality&rsquo;. &nbsp;And then it hits us that despite taking all the &lsquo;right&rsquo; steps to ensure we have a great life we failed to ever really be happy, to really love and to really accept love. &nbsp;And then it really hits us, this world provides but one shot.</p> <p><u><strong>Well then that feeling of uneasy discontent that shadowed us when we were young is now an intense pain in our heart. &nbsp;And we look out at the world and we ask ourselves how could this have happened? I did everything &lsquo;they&rsquo; told me I was supposed to do, I did everything &lsquo;right&rsquo;! &nbsp;And it becomes clear that life was a chance to change the world, but we didn&rsquo;t know how and so we left it up to&hellip;.</strong></u></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="522" height="537" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Reality Student Loans Fri, 30 Jan 2015 03:30:45 +0000 Tyler Durden 501180 at Drink Up World: The 4 Companies That Control Global Whiskey Production <p>While there are <a href="">eighty people who hold half the world's wealth</a>, <a href="">ten 'people' who run the world</a>, and <a href="">ten corporations that control nearly everything you buy</a>... these four companies control what is - to some - the most precious commodity in the world... world whiskey production.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="605" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>h/t @BarbarianCap</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1155" height="1165" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 03:25:36 +0000 Tyler Durden 501187 at The Next War In The Middle East Has Begun And Israel Vows "To Act Powerfully On All Fronts" <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog</em></a>,</p> <p><strong>Israel and Hezbollah are at war.</strong>&nbsp; On top of everything else that is going on in the world, now we have a new war in the Middle East, and nobody is quite certain what is going to happen next.&nbsp; Israel has been preparing for this moment for more than 8 years.&nbsp; So has Hezbollah.&nbsp; According to some reports, Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of <a href=",000_rockets%3A_report" target="_blank" title="50,000 rockets">50,000 rockets</a> since the end of the Hezbollah-Israel war in 2006.&nbsp; If all-out warfare does erupt, we could potentially see tens of thousands of missiles rain down into an area not too much larger than <a href="" target="_blank" title="the state of New Jersey">the state of New Jersey</a>.&nbsp; And of course the Israeli military is also much more sophisticated and much more powerful than it was back in 2006.&nbsp; If cooler heads do not prevail, we could be on the verge of witnessing a very bloody war.&nbsp;<strong> But right now nobody seems to be in the mood to back down.</strong>&nbsp; Hezbollah is absolutely fuming over an airstrike earlier this month that killed six fighters and a prominent Iranian general.&nbsp; And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel is &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank" title="prepared to act powerfully on all fronts">prepared to act powerfully on all fronts</a>&rdquo; in response to a Hezbollah ambush that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven.&nbsp; Just such an incident is what sparked the war between the two sides back in 2006.&nbsp; <strong>But this time, a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah could spark a full-blown regional war.</strong></p> <p>Earlier this month, Israel launched a surprise assault against a group of Hezbollah fighters that Israel believed was planning to conduct terror attacks inside their borders.</p> <p>But in addition to killing six Hezbollah fighters, a very important Iranian general was also killed.&nbsp; Needless to say, Iran <a href="" target="_blank" title="is furious">is furious</a>&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Iran has told the United States that Israel <strong>should expect consequences</strong> for an attack on the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights that killed an Iranian general, a senior official said on Tuesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Revolutionary Guards General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi died alongside six fighters from Lebanon&rsquo;s Hezbollah group in the January 18 attack on forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria&rsquo;s civil war.</p> </blockquote> <p>And we didn&rsquo;t have to wait too long for a response.&nbsp; An IDF convoy was hit by anti-tank missiles near the Lebanon border.&nbsp; Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven were wounded.&nbsp; The following is how&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="the Jerusalem Post">the Jerusalem Post</a> described the attack.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The terrorists launched five or six anti-tank missiles from a distance of at least four kilometers from their targets, striking the vehicles as they drove two kilometers from the international border.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the heavy Hezbollah ambush, a military D-Max vehicle containing a company commander and his driver from the Givati Brigade was the first vehicle hit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This prompted all of those inside an IDF jeep behind it to quickly evacuate their vehicle before it, too, was hit and destroyed with missiles.</p> </blockquote> <p>Just over an hour after that attack, mortar rounds struck an Israeli military position on Mt. Hermon.</p> <p>In response to those strikes, the Israeli military <a href="" target="_blank" title="hit back">hit back</a> at Hezbollah positions on the other side of the Lebanese border&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Israel struck back with combined aerial and ground strikes on Hezbollah operational positions along the border, the military said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At least 50 artillery shells were fired at the villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba, according to Lebanese officials.</p> </blockquote> <p>But Israel is probably not done.</p> <p><strong>Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising a &ldquo;disproportionate&rdquo; response to the Hezbollah attacks, and he says that Hezbollah should consider what Israel <a href="" target="_blank" title="recently did to Hamas">recently did to Hamas</a> before taking any more aggressive action&hellip;</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;To all those trying to challenge us on the northern border, I suggest looking at what happened here, not far from the city of Sderot, in the Gaza strip.&nbsp; Hamas absorbed the hardest blow since it was founded last summer, and the IDF is ready to act with force on any front.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>If things continue to escalate, we might not just be talking about another Hezbollah-Israel war.</p> <p><strong>In the south, tensions between Israel and Hamas remain near all-time highs.&nbsp;</strong> In the event of a full-blown war, Hamas probably could be easily convinced to join the fray.&nbsp; And if Hamas jumps in, the rest of the Palestinians might not be far behind.</p> <p>In addition, ISIS now has territory <a href="" target="_blank" title="near the border with Israel">near the border with Israel</a>&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Because of the strategic importance of the terrain, Iran and Hezbollah have been building infrastructure there for some time.&nbsp; But their interest in the Golan skyrocketed in December.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The reason: <strong>ISIS gained a foothold there</strong> when the <a href="" target="_blank" title="Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade of the Free Syrian Army “defected” from the de facto alliance">Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade of the Free Syrian Army &ldquo;defected&rdquo; from the de facto alliance</a> with the U.S.-Arab coalition against Assad, and declared its allegiance to ISIS.&nbsp; The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade had been one of the most active rebel factions <strong>holding territory directly adjacent to the &ldquo;area of separation&rdquo; between Syria and Israel administered (in theory) by the UN</strong>.&nbsp; In particular, it has held the southern line of confrontation with Syrian regime forces, in the transit corridor leading to the Quneitra border crossing.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Needless to say, ISIS would be extremely interested in any conflict with Israel.</strong></p> <p>And of course there are all of the other surrounding Islamic nations that are not too fond of Israel either.</p> <p><strong>The truth is that the Middle East is a perpetual tinderbox.&nbsp; One spark could set the entire region on fire.</strong></p> <p>Meanwhile, Barack Obama continues to do all that he can to undermine Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.</p> <p>The animosity between the two is well known, and now an &ldquo;Obama army&rdquo; of political operatives has been sent to Israel to help defeat Netanyahu in the upcoming elections.</p> <p>The &ldquo;leader&rdquo; of this &ldquo;Obama army&rdquo; is Jeremy Bird, who was the national field director for Barack Obama&rsquo;s 2012 presidential campaign.&nbsp; But he has plenty of company.&nbsp; Just check out the following list that was compiled&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="by WND">by WND</a>&hellip;</p> <p><strong>Besides Bird, the 270 Strategies team includes the following former Obama staffers:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Mitch Steward, a 270 Strategies founding partner who helped the Obama campaign build what the U.K. Guardian called &ldquo;a historic ground operation that will provide the model for political campaigns in America and around the world for years to come.&rdquo;</li> <li>Mark Beatty, a founding partner who served as deputy battleground states director for the Obama campaign. He had primary responsibility for Obama&rsquo;s election plans for the battleground states.</li> <li>Marlon Marshall, a founding partner at 270 Strategies who joins the team after holding several key positions in national Democratic politics, most recently as deputy national field director for the 2012 Obama campaign.</li> <li>Betsy Hoover, a founding partner who served as director of digital organizing on the Obama campaign.</li> <li>Meg Ansara, who served as national regional director for Obama for America where she was responsible for overseeing the 2012 programs in the Midwest and southern states.</li> <li>Bridget Halligan, who served as the engagement program manager on the digital team of the 2012 Obama campaign.</li> <li>Kate Catherall, who served as Florida deputy field director for Obama&rsquo;s re-election campaign.</li> <li>Alex Lofton, who most recently served as the GOTV director of Cleveland, Ohio, for the 2012 Obama campaign.</li> <li>Martha Patzer, the firm&rsquo;s vice president who served as deputy email director at Obama for America.</li> <li>Jesse Boateng, who served as the Florida voter registration director for Obama&rsquo;s re-election campaign.</li> <li>Ashley Bryant, who served most recently as the Ohio digital director for the 2012 Obama campaign.</li> <li>Max Clermont, who formerly served as a regional field director in Florida for Obama&rsquo;s re-election campaign.</li> <li>Max Wood, who served as a deputy data director in Florida for the 2012 Obama campaign.</li> </ul> <p>As the first month of 2015 wraps up, our world is becoming increasingly unstable.</p> <p><strong>In addition to the <a href="" title="oil crash">oil crash</a>, the <a href="" title="collapse of the euro">collapse of the euro</a>, looming <a href="" title="stock market troubles">stock market troubles</a>, civil war in Ukraine, tensions <a href="" target="_blank" title="with Russia">with Russia</a>, an economic slowdown in China and imploding economies all over South America, now we have more war in the Middle East.</strong></p> <p>And if lots of missiles start flying back and forth between Israel and Hezbollah, it could potentially spark the bloodiest war in that region that any of us have ever seen.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="284" height="284" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barack Obama China Florida Iran Israel Middle East Mohammad Ohio Ukraine Fri, 30 Jan 2015 03:00:18 +0000 Tyler Durden 501185 at The New Greek Finance Minister Has Some Questions For The World's Journalists <p>It was a confusing day for Europe, for the new Greek foreign minister, and now for Greece's new finance minister who hours <a href="">ago posted a question on his blog </a>to the world's journalists:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>A question of respect (or lack thereof)… – the Greek veto over Russia that never was</strong></p> <p>On the first day in our ministries, the power of the media to distort hit me again. The world’s press was full of reports on how the SYRIZA government’s first foreign policy ‘move’ was to veto fresh sanctions on Russia. Now, I am not qualified to speak on foreign affairs but, nonetheless, I must share this with you at a personal level. Our Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, briefed us that on his first day at the job he heard in the news bulletins that the EU had approved new sanctions on <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Russia unanimously</strong></span>. The problem was that he, and <strong></strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">the </span>new Greek government, were never asked</strong></span>! So, clearly, <strong>the issue was not whether our new government agrees or not with fresh sanctions on Russia. The issue is whether our view can be taken for granted without even being told of what it is!</strong> From my perspective, even though (let me state it again) I am certainly not qualified to speak on foreign affairs, this is all about a question of respect for our national sovereignty. <strong>Could journalists the world over try to draw this important distinction between protesting our being neglected from protesting the sanctions themselves? Or is this too complicated?</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>All fair questions. And then at almost the same time we read the following, first from Bloomberg:</p> <ul> <li><strong>EU DECISION ON RUSSIA SANCTIONS WAS UNANIMOUS, MOGHERINI SAYS</strong></li> </ul> <p>And then from <a href="">Reuters</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>European Union foreign ministers extended existing sanctions against Russia on Thursday, holding off on tighter economic measures for now <strong>but winning the support of the new left-leaning government of Greece, </strong>whose position had been in doubt. </p> <p>...&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The run-up to the Brussels talks was dominated by Greece, whose new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, took power on Monday and complained that his government had not been consulted before tighter sanctions were threatened. <strong>But at the meeting, colleagues said new foreign minister Nikos Kotzias had swiftly dispelled suggestions that Greece would automatically torpedo any sanctions effort.</strong> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Italy's foreign minister, Kotzias announced to the meeting: <strong>"I am not a Russian puppet."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>It appears Greece was consulted <em>after all:</em></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>While the Greeks did call for the decision on tighter sanctions to be delayed, they were not alone: other countries such as Italy and Austria also favored a delay, diplomats said, while Britain and the Baltic states wanted a clearer commitment to imposing new sanctions quickly. <strong>"We are not against every sanction," Kotzias said later. "We are in the mainstream, we are not the bad boys."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>And even Germany is now "<em>less concerned</em>"</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed frustration with the ambiguity of the Greek position before the talks: "<strong>It is no secret that the new stance of the Greek government has not made today's debate any easier</strong>," he said. <strong>After he met Kotzias in private, German officials said he was less concerned.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So following all this, we too have a few questions of our own: i) was or wasn't Greece consulted; ii) if yes, did Greece agree to join the unanimous European statement while declaring it is "<em>not a Russian puppet</em>"; and finally iii) while Greece may not be a Russian puppet, is Greece still a European puppet?</p> European Union Germany Greece Italy Reuters Fri, 30 Jan 2015 02:34:24 +0000 Tyler Durden 501191 at "The Thread By Which Venezuelan Socialism Hangs May Soon Snap" <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Pater Tenebrarum via Acting-Man blog</em></a>,</p> <h3><u><strong>Fixing the Dollar Drought</strong></u></h3> <p><strong>Say you are a socialist, and you have intervened heavily in the economy. </strong>Suddenly, things don&rsquo;t work as you thought they would. Somehow, economic laws seem to refuse to bend to your will. However, you cannot really believe that since according to your convictions, wealth is a byproduct of government plans and decrees. Moreover, your predecessor (also a socialist revolutionary) had the best advice oil money can buy &ndash; even from people who are now advising socialist parties over in good old Europe. So the solution to the unintended consequences of the initial intervention is to intervene further, in an attempt to refine the plan, so to speak.</p> <p>You may have heard about a certain proverb attributed to Einstein about insanity, but you can&rsquo;t quite recall what it was. So you try again. And again. And again. Chances are, your name is Nicolas Maduro. But eventually, you quit trying &ndash; sort of.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<img alt="pear-shaped-body" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-35462" height="400" src="" width="600" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Image via</p> <p>As <a href="">Bloomberg reports</a>, <strong>Maduro wants to fix the dollar shortage in Venezuela by introducing the <em>fifth</em> parallel currency market in 12 years &ndash; Venezuela will end up with three different official exchange rates as a result, one of which should actually track what was hitherto the black market rate</strong> (i.e., the real market exchange rate):</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<strong><em>Venezuela will create its fifth parallel currency market in 12 years to boost U.S. dollar supplies as plunging oil revenue worsens food and medicine shortages and pushes the nation deeper into recession.</em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>The new market will allow private companies and individuals to trade the greenback through brokerages</em></strong>, President Nicolas Maduro told Congress in a televised address Wednesday night. <strong><em>The government will continue importing essential products at the primary exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars a dollar, while combining two other existing currency auctions into one, he said.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>&ldquo;This is the decision I have taken: a system of three markets,&rdquo; he told lawmakers after being welcomed by live salsa, ceremonial cannon shots and chanting supporters. &ldquo;This exchange system is a transitory system to attend the country&rsquo;s development needs&rdquo; while oil prices stabilize, he said.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maduro has preferred tighter currency controls to ease economic strife as he seeks to avoid cuts to social spending. A 61 percent drop in the value of Venezuelan oil since June has brought it to the brink of a debt default, according to prices in the swaps market. <strong><em>Oil provides 96 percent of revenue to the country, which imports almost everything it consumes.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;The set of reforms announced in the annual report were incomplete and insufficient to disentangle accumulated distortions over 15 years,&rdquo; Hernan Yellati, Miami-based head of research at brokerage BancTrust &amp; Co., wrote in a note to clients after the speech. &ldquo;Plus an unanticipated plunge in oil prices.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Venezuela last sold dollars at the two secondary auction markets for 12 and 52 bolivars.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Maduro said he has approved $8.1 billion of food purchases this year at the preferential rate.</em></strong> This compares with the $11.4 billion allocated to importers at 6.3 bolivars per dollar in the whole of 2014, according to Barclays Plc estimates.</p> </blockquote> <p>(emphasis added)</p> <p><strong>Below is an updated chart of the Venezuelan bolivar&rsquo;s exchange rate against the US dollar on the black market in Cucuta, a town near the Colombian border. </strong>Interestingly, it seems to have temporarily stabilized in a volatile trading range since November last year. This is interesting mainly because the US dollar has continued to rise against almost every other currency, but then again, the bolivar has already plummeted rather precipitously for most of 2014:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Bolivar black market rate" class="aligncenter wp-image-35460" height="312" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Venezuelan bolivar vs. USD, black market rate (data via dolartoday) &ndash; click to enlarge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Making free trade in bolivars legal is undoubtedly one of Mr. Maduro&rsquo;s better ideas, quite possibly the best one he ever had. It is a result of desperation, and it appears it is also a case of too little, too late. </strong>Venezuela&rsquo;s foreign currency reserves amount to slightly over $20 billion, while its total foreign liabilities amount to approx. $135 billion as of Q3 2014 (of which $11 bn. in government debt are coming due this year). After many years of heavy-handed regimentation of the economy, characterized by expropriation/nationalization and price controls, Venezuela has indeed not much it can export besides oil &ndash; and even oil production has steadily declined.</p> <p><strong>The inflationary regime has moreover undoubtedly pulled resources from the consumer stages to higher orders in those parts of the economy still in private hands, so that consumer goods production is likely especially subdued.</strong> According to Professor Steven Hanke, Venezuela&rsquo;s implied consumer price inflation rate is around 194% at the moment, which is about three times what the country&rsquo;s central bank has lately admitted to. While the &lsquo;general level&rsquo; of prices is inherently impossible to ascertain &ndash; as there exists simply no fixed yardstick that can be used to measure it &ndash; Venezuela&rsquo;s money supply growth has definitely exploded into the blue yonder:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="venezuela-money-supply-m1" class="aligncenter wp-image-35465" height="275" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Venezuela&rsquo;s narrow money supply M1 since 2004, in millions of VEF &ndash; click to enlarge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maduro even admitted that the official consumer price inflation rate of 64% was a little on the high side, and announced he would only approve a 15% minimum wage hike this year and would ponder whether to cut fuel subsidies. Even such tentative reform proposals may once have been received quite positively by the markets. However, due to the decline in oil prices, markets have refused to budge. Implied annual default probabilities for Venezuela&rsquo;s government debt remain at a record high near 20% (based on 5 year CDS spreads and a 40% recovery rate), in spite of government debt only amounting to about 50% of GDP at the current juncture (this is set to rise even if no debt is added, as GDP is set to shrink sharply this year).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Venezuela default probability" class="aligncenter wp-image-35463" height="407" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Venezuela&rsquo;s sovereign debt sports the highest CDS spreads and default probabilities in the world &ndash; click to enlarge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><u><strong>Effects of Price Controls Are Getting Worse</strong></u></h3> <p>Maduro would have to adopt a radical program of economic liberalization if he wanted to effectively counter the increasingly acute economic crisis Venezuela is faced with. However, even if he were aware of that &ndash; which he possibly isn&rsquo;t &ndash; he seems to be afraid that cutting subsidies would worsen his already sharply declining popularity further.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, price controls have denuded the shelves of shops of even the most basic goods, with the result that people are these days forced to queue for hours to buy food and other necessities &ndash; reminiscent of Soviet times. The situation is evidently becoming more desperate by the day, as the government has just announced it will <a href="">deploy the military to &ldquo;protect shoppers</a>&rdquo;. Meanwhile government officials are telling people with a straight face that the bare shelves are actually &ldquo;full&rdquo;, in an Orwellian twist that would be quite funny if it weren&rsquo;t so sad for the citizenry.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<strong><em>Shoppers thronged grocery stores across Caracas today as deepening shortages led the government to put Venezuela&rsquo;s food distribution under military protection.</em></strong> Long lines, some stretching for blocks, formed outside grocery stores in the South American country&rsquo;s capital as residents search for scarce basic items such as detergent and chicken.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve visited six stores already today looking for detergent &mdash; I can&rsquo;t find it anywhere,&rdquo; said Lisbeth Elsa, a 27-year-old janitor, waiting in line outside a supermarket in eastern Caracas. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re wearing our dirty clothes again because we can&rsquo;t find it. At this point I&rsquo;ll buy whatever I can find.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A dearth of foreign currency exacerbated by collapsing oil prices has led to shortages of imports from toilet paper to car batteries, and helped push annual inflation to 64 percent in November. The lines will persist as long as price controls remain in place, Luis Vicente Leon, director of Caracas-based polling firm Datanalisis, said today in a telephone interview.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Government officials met with representatives from supermarket chains today to guarantee supplies, state news agency AVN reported. Interior Minister Carmen Melendez said yesterday that security forces would be sent to food stores and distribution centers to protect shoppers.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t fall into desperation &mdash; we have the capacity and products for everyone, with calmness and patience. The stores are full,&rdquo; she said on state television.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>(emphasis added)</p> <p><strong>It seems to us the time of &ldquo;calmness and patience&rdquo; is long past, </strong>and we wonder how the government plans to &ldquo;guarantee supplies&rdquo; that evidently simply don&rsquo;t exist. We were also wondering what precisely shoppers are supposed to be protected <em>from</em>. Evil capitalists? Actually, it seems that they by now mainly need to be protected from each other, as fights over scarce goods have become quite frequent. Good queuing behavior has also gone out of the window.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Maduro and Melendes" class="aligncenter wp-image-35461" height="400" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and his heavily mil-bling adorned interior minister Carmen Melendez.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">Photo credit: Prensa Miraflores</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But worry not, true believers, an &ldquo;economic counteroffensive&rdquo; is in the works &ndash; as soon as the details have been worked out. And please take no photos of the full shelves dwelling in Ms. Melendez&rsquo; imagination:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>&ldquo;President Nicolas Maduro last week vowed to implement an economic &ldquo;counter-offensive&rdquo; to steer the country out of recession</em></strong>, including an overhaul of the foreign exchange system. He has yet to provide details. While the main government-controlled exchange sets a rate of 6.3 bolivars per U.S. dollar, the black market rate is as much as 187 per dollar.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Inside a Plan Suarez grocery store yesterday in eastern Caracas, shelves were mostly bare. Customers struggled and fought for items at times, with many trying to skip lines. The most sought-after products included detergent, with customers waiting in line for two to three hours to buy a maximum of two bags. A security guard asked that photos of empty shelves not be taken.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Police inside a Luvebras supermarket in eastern Caracas intervened to help staff distribute toilet paper and other products.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;<strong><em>You can&rsquo;t find anything, I&rsquo;ve spent 15 days looking for diapers,&rdquo; Jean Paul Mate, a meat vendor, said outside the Luvebras store. &ldquo;You have to take off work to look for products. I go to at least five stores a day</em></strong>.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Venezuelan online news outlet VIVOplay posted a video of government food security regulator Carlos Osorio being interrupted by throngs of shoppers searching for products as he broadcast on state television from a Bicentenario government-run supermarket in central Caracas.</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>(emphasis added)</p> <p>Unfortunately VIVOplay is a subscription service, so we cannot post the video of government shill Carlos Osorio getting almost run over by shoppers mentioned above (he is known for regularly pronouncing that everything is perfectly fine on state-owned TV, and they prepare selected supermarkets for his appearances). Here is however a video by the FT summarizing the situation in early December:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p style="text-align: center;">Queues and shortages in Venezuela &ndash; note that annual imports amount to $43 billion &ndash; it will be quite difficult to pay for both imports and debt redemptions if oil prices remain near their current levels for an extended time period, hence the rising default probabilities.</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3><u><strong>Conclusion:</strong></u></h3> <p><strong>For many years, the Venezuelan government was able to mask the failures of Hugo Chavez&rsquo; &ldquo;socialist revolution&rdquo; somewhat with the help of the country&rsquo;s oil revenues.</strong> However, it should be remembered that shortages of basic goods in Venezuela are nothing new; the first press reports appeared about two years ago, when oil prices were still quite high (see also this late 2013 article of ours: &ldquo;<a href="">The Hygienically Challenged Crack-Up Boom</a>&rdquo;). As we quoted from a press report on that occasion, some Marxists &ndash; as long as they are members of the ruling class &ndash; seem actually not overly worried about scarcity:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>&ldquo;Not everyone thinks these shortages spell bad news. Planning Minister Jorge Giordani, an avowed Marxist, famously quipped in 2009 that &ldquo;socialism has been built based on scarcity.&rdquo; </em></p> </blockquote> <p>Of course it was easy to make such quips, callous though they may be, back when the hugely popular Hugo Chavez was still around and able to distribute large oil revenues with both hands. The situation is a lot more difficult for Nicolas Maduro, who is probably slowly but surely getting worried about the potential for a counter-revolution (there has already been <a href="">intermittent unrest in Caracas</a> &ndash; and at the time the bolivar&rsquo;s black market rate was still 85 to the dollar instead of 185).</p> <p>Russia&rsquo;s economy is likewise suffering from the decline in oil prices , but its government has a lot more breathing room in terms of debt and foreign exchange reserves and would be able to greatly help its economy merely by getting serious about tackling corruption.</p> <p><u><strong>Maduro has a much bigger problem, as he would essentially be forced to abandon the very ideology he so wholeheartedly supports if he wants to turn the floundering ship around. He does have one advantage over Putin though: he has very little to lose anymore in terms of his approval ratings. He probably must worry about his party comrades though, many of whom will be reluctant to abandon the late and great Hugo Chavez&rsquo; &ldquo;socialist achievements&rdquo;. It will be interesting to see how things will play out, in light of Maduro lately adopting steps he would never have taken a year ago. Still, given the government&rsquo;s debt situation and Venezuela&rsquo;s monetary statistics, a complete loss of confidence in the currency remains a very real possibility. In other words, the thread by which Venezuelan socialism hangs may soon snap.</strong></u></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="venezuela-inflation-cpi" class="aligncenter wp-image-35464" height="275" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Venezuela&rsquo;s official inflation rate is a (more or less) comforting fantasy concocted by its central bank, but it is nevertheless worth showing, as the chart illustrates that the rise in prices has greatly accelerated over the past two years &ndash; click to enlarge.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="563" height="313" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barclays CDS Corruption default fixed M1 Money Supply Nationalization ratings Recession recovery Sovereign Debt Fri, 30 Jan 2015 02:10:12 +0000 Tyler Durden 501184 at "Lost In Translation" Error Sends Belarus Bonds Plunging <p><strong>Yields on Belarussian bonds exploded from 12% to 25% in the space of a few minutes this morning</strong> following reports that President Alexandr Lukashenko raised the prospect of <em><strong>restructuring </strong></em>the former Soviet republic’s external debt. As Bloomberg reports, the 2018 bonds collapsed from over 90c to 65c even as Lukashenko said Russian President Vladimir Putin was prepared to provide $500 million of aid if the situation gets “very difficult.” However, two hours later&nbsp; - following the collapse in bonds - Lukashenko clarified his remarks... <strong><em>"Please calm down,"</em></strong> he said, "Belarus has enough money to pay its debts in full." <strong><em>It turns out he meant refinance... not restructure.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Belarussian bonds...</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="629" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="">The first impression...</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>“The likelihood of the actual bond restructuring is quite high as it could be one of the conditions for any future Russian support,”</strong> Vladimir Osakovskiy, an analyst at Bank of America Corp. in Moscow, said by e-mail.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“There is strong political incentive to continue to repay external debt in order to keep alternative, other-than-Russia refinancing options open.”</p> </blockquote> <p>The slow response...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>As Bloomberg reports, <strong>Belarus Leader Says He Meant ‘Refinance’ Not ‘Restructure’ Debt</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Please calm down,” Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenko says during annual news conference in Minsk, addressing bondholders.<br />Belarus has enough money to pay its debts in full</p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="957" height="1004" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bank of America Bank of America Bond Vladimir Putin Fri, 30 Jan 2015 01:45:38 +0000 Tyler Durden 501183 at The Biggest "Hamilton Oil Shock" In History <p>Slowly but surely, the narrative that plummeting oil prices is "unambiguously good" for the economy is fading into obscurity, as reality is starting to emerge. For the latest capitulation we go to the Bank of America chart of the day which shows that the current Hamilton Oil Shock is now the biggest in history, surpassing even the Lehman collapse.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="367" /></a></p> <p>From BofA Chart of the Day:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong><em>Hamilton oil shocks</em></strong>: Although historical comparisons are often imperfect, it is useful to look back at prior episodes of oil price shocks. In order for a move in the price of oil to qualify as an episode, <strong>there has to be a significant deviation from trend. </strong>We use the approach developed by Jim Hamilton, which defines oil price shocks as the difference from the three-year moving average. <strong>The most cautionary episode to today was the 62% drop in oil prices from November 1985 to July 1986, although the Hamilton measure is much smaller. Similar to today, most believed this would prove to be a boost to GDP growth. Indeed, the consensus was forecasting average 2.3% GDP growth to increase 0.3pp, but it actually fell 0.9pp </strong>(based on the as reported GDP data, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>third release</strong></span>). This downward surprise <strong>continued for three quarters</strong>.</p> </blockquote> <p>This time won't be different, but like then, we will need to wait until the revised-revised-revised GDP data before it is finally apparent.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="648" height="396" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bank of America Bank of America Lehman Reality Fri, 30 Jan 2015 01:18:08 +0000 Tyler Durden 501190 at "They're Out Of Their Minds" Gorbachev Slams US 'Triumphalism' For "Turning Cold War 'Hot'" <p><a href="">In November of last year</a>, Mikhail Gorbachev first warned "the world is on the brink of a new Cold War." Then <a href="">around the turn of the year he escalated his warning</a>, fearing "a war of this kind could lead to a nuclear war," <strong>hoping that no one "loses their nerve in this overheated situation."</strong> <a href="">Today, in an interview with Russian news agency Interfax</a>, the 83-year-old former Soviet leader, asks <strong><em>"have they lost their minds?" </em></strong>raging that <em>"the U.S. has already dragged us into a new Cold War, trying to openly implement its idea of triumphalism," warning that "the 'cold' war will "lead to a 'hot' war,"</em> concluding <strong><em>"The U.S. has been totally 'lost in the jungle' and is dragging us there as well."</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><em>As Common Dreams reports</em></a>,</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Mikhail Gorbachev stated that the United States has pulled Russia into a new Cold War that faces the risk of further escalation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 83-year-old former Soviet leader made the comments on Thursday in an interview with Russian news agency Interfax.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">"The U.S. has already dragged us into a new Cold War, trying to openly implement its idea of triumphalism,"</span></strong> he is quoted as saying.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Where will that lead all of us?" he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>"What’s next? Unfortunately, I cannot be sure that the Cold War will not bring about a ‘hot’ one. I’m afraid they might take the risk," Gorbachev said, referring to the United States.</strong></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>"All you hear is about sanctions towards Russia from America and the European Union. Have they totally lost their minds? The U.S. has been totally 'lost in the jungle' and is dragging us there as well."</strong></span></p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>The new comments follow a warning in November from the Soviet Union's last leader when he said,</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>"The world is on the brink of a new Cold War. Some say that it has already begun."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><a href="">A month later he stayed said that the <strong>U.S. is "tortured by triumphalism"</strong> and called for deescalation in the midst of hostilities in Ukraine.</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"<strong>This whole process may and needs to be stopped</strong>. It was stopped in the 1980s. And we opted for deescalation and reunification. Back then it was harsher than today. And now we can also do this," Gorbachev said at the time.</p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><a href=""><em>As RT reports,</em></a> it appears more and more likely that this comes to a non-diplomatic head...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Meanwhile, international relations experts in America are quite alarmed over the new Cold War possibility – although not as much as the general public. While over 48 percent of scholars answered "no" when <strong>asked whether the US and Russia are headed towards such a conflict, the scenario was deemed likely by 38 percent.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The data comes from an American snap poll conducted at the end of January by the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) project at the College of William and Mary, in collaboration with Foreign Policy magazine.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The research compared its results to a <strong>Gallup poll from March 2014, when 50 percent of the public believed a new Cold War was indeed possible</strong> when asked the same question.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>In Russia, one-third of the population believes their country and the US are on a collision course.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="395" height="344" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> European Union Foreign Policy magazine Gallup Ukraine Fri, 30 Jan 2015 00:55:25 +0000 Tyler Durden 501186 at Syriza's Original 40 Point Manifesto <p>The daily bulletin of Italy’s Communist Refoundation Party published today the apparently official program of the Greek coalition of the left, Syriza. <em><strong>Here the 40 points of the Syriza program.</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong><br /></strong></em></p> <ol> <li><strong>Audit of the public debt and renegotiation of interest due and suspension of payments until the economy has revived and growth and employment return</strong>.</li> <li>Demand the European Union to change the role of the European Central Bank so that it finances States and programs of public investment.</li> <li><strong>Raise income tax to 75% for all incomes over 500,000 euros.</strong></li> <li>Change the election laws to a proportional system.</li> <li><strong>Increase taxes on big companies to that of the European average.</strong></li> <li><strong>Adoption of a tax on financial transactions and a special tax on luxury goods.</strong></li> <li><strong>Prohibition of speculative financial derivatives.</strong></li> <li>Abolition of financial privileges for the Church and shipbuilding industry.</li> <li>Combat the banks’ secret [measures] and the flight of capital abroad.</li> <li>Cut drastically military expenditures.</li> <li><strong>Raise minimum salary to the pre-cut level, 750 euros per month.</strong></li> <li><strong>Use buildings of the government, banks and the Church for the homeless.</strong></li> <li>Open dining rooms in public schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to children.</li> <li>Free health benefits to the unemployed, homeless and those with low salaries.</li> <li><strong>Subvention up to 30% of mortgage payments for poor families who cannot meet payments.</strong></li> <li>Increase of subsidies for the unemployed. Increase social protection for one-parent families, the aged, disabled, and families with no income.</li> <li>Fiscal reductions for goods of primary necessity.</li> <li><strong>Nationalization of banks.</strong></li> <li>Nationalization of ex-public (service &amp; utilities) companies in strategic sectors for the growth of the country (railroads, airports, mail, water).</li> <li>Preference for renewable energy and defence of the environment.</li> <li>Equal salaries for men and women.</li> <li>Limitation of precarious hiring and support for contracts for indeterminate time.</li> <li>Extension of the protection of labor and salaries of part-time workers.</li> <li><strong>Recovery of collective (labor) contracts.</strong></li> <li>Increase inspections of labor and requirements for companies making bids for public contracts.</li> <li>Constitutional reforms to guarantee separation of Church and State and protection of the right to education, health care and the environment.</li> <li>Referendums on treaties and other accords with Europe.</li> <li><strong>Abolition of privileges for parliamentary deputies. </strong>Removal of special juridical protection for ministers and permission for the courts to proceed against members of the government.</li> <li>Demilitarization of the Coast Guard and anti-insurrectional special troops. <strong>Prohibition for police to wear masks or use fire arms during demonstrations. </strong>Change training courses for police so as to underline social themes such as immigration, drugs and social factors.</li> <li>Guarantee human rights in immigrant detention centers.</li> <li>Facilitate the reunion of immigrant families.</li> <li>Depenalization of consumption of drugs in favor of battle against drug traffic. Increase funding for drug rehab centers.</li> <li>Regulate the right of conscientious objection in draft laws.</li> <li>Increase funding for public health up to the average European level.(The European average is 6% of GDP; in Greece 3%.)</li> <li>Elimination of payments by citizens for national health services.</li> <li>Nationalization of private hospitals. Elimination of private participation in the national health system.</li> <li><strong>Withdrawal of Greek troops from Afghanistan and the Balkans. No Greek soldiers beyond our own borders.</strong></li> <li>Abolition of military cooperation with Israel.&nbsp; Support for creation of a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders.</li> <li>Negotiation of a stable accord with Turkey.</li> <li><strong>Closure of all foreign bases in Greece and withdrawal from NATO.</strong></li> </ol> <p>That could stir things up a bit</p> <p><a href=""><em>Source: The Greanville Post</em></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="156" height="148" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghanistan European Central Bank European Union Financial Derivatives Greece Israel Nationalization recovery Time Extension Turkey Fri, 30 Jan 2015 00:30:29 +0000 Tyler Durden 501182 at