May 31

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General Motors, once the largest company in the world, is expected to file for bankruptcy in a New York court tomorrow. Executives and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are spending the weekend finalising details ahead of the historic capitulation that comes after months of talks and billions of dollars of government investment.

The filing will come on the heels of an eleventh-hour deal this weekend under which Magna International, the Canadian motor-parts group, agreed to rescue its European operations, which include two British plants employing 5,500 workers.

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May 31

dollar-notes

May 30 (Bloomberg) — The dollar declined beyond $1.41 for the first time in 2009 in the year’s biggest monthly drop after investors dumped dollar-denominated assets as the U.S. budget deficit was projected to quadruple to $1.85 trillion.

The greenback fell against all of its major counterparts in May including the Australian and New Zealand dollars as the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note touched the highest level since November. The pound rose above $1.60 as speculation an economic recovery is starting enhanced the appeal of sterling.

Related articles:
Rising US bond yields may spark Credit Crisis II (Reuters)
Bond Vigilantes Confront Obama as Housing Falters
(Bloomberg)
- Marc Faber: U.S. will go into Hyperinflation, Approaching Zimbabwe Levels (Bloomberg)
US Will Eventually Lose Its AAA Credit Rating: Bill Gross (Bloomberg)
U.S. Treasury Blues: The Bond Bubble Has Burst (Barrons)

“It’s a fundamental dollar-down trade,” said James McCormick, global head of foreign exchange and local market strategy at Citigroup Inc. in London. “The truth is that countries like the U.S. with handicapped banking systems, with overextended fiscal policy, are going to see very shallow recoveries.”

The dollar weakened 6.3 percent this month to $1.4158 per euro, from $1.3230 on April 30. It was the biggest drop since December’s 9.2 percent decline. The greenback fell 3.3 percent to 95.34 yen from 98.63 at the end of last month. The yen slid 3.3 percent to 134.96 per euro, from 130.52.

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May 31

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has just issued a call for an immediate moratorium on Genetically Manipulated (GMO) Foods.

monsanto1

In a just-released position paper on GMO foods, the AAEM states that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk’ and calls for a moratorium on GMO foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes ‘there is more than a casual association between GMO foods and adverse health effects’ and that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.’ The report is a devastating blow to the multibillion dollar international agribusiness industry, most especially to Monsanto Corporation, the world’s leading purveyor of GMO seeds and related herbicides.

In a press release dated May 19, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, which describes itself as ‘an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health,’ called immediately for the following emergency measures to be taken regarding human consumption of GMO foods:

* A moratorium on GMO food; implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labelling of GMO food.

* Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GMO foods.

* Physicians to consider the role of GMO foods in their patients’ disease processes.

* More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GMO foods on human health.

The AAEM chairperson, Dr Amy Dean notes that ‘Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health.’ The President of the AAEM, Dr Jennifer Armstrong stressed that ‘Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions. The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil.’ The AAEM’s position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at http:aaemonline.org.

Related information:
Exposed: the great GM crops myth
- The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see
At stake is no less than control of the world’s food supply.

The paper further states that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) technology ‘abrogates natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years.’

The AAEM paper further states, ’several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signalling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.’

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May 31


Mai 30, 2009
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May 30

May 29 (Bloomberg) — They’re back.

For the first time since another Democrat occupied the White House, investors from Beijing to Zurich are challenging a president’s attempts to revive the economy with record deficit spending. Fifteen years after forcing Bill Clinton to abandon his own stimulus plans, the so-called bond vigilantes are punishing Barack Obama for quadrupling the budget shortfall to $1.85 trillion. By driving up yields on U.S. debt, they are also threatening to derail Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s efforts to cut borrowing costs for businesses and consumers.

The 1.4-percentage-point rise in 10-year Treasury yields this year pushed interest rates on 30-year fixed mortgages to above 5 percent for the first time since before Bernanke announced on March 18 that the central bank would start printing money to buy financial assets. Treasuries have lost 5.1 percent in their worst annual start since Merrill Lynch & Co. began its Treasury Master Index in 1977.

“The bond-market vigilantes are up in arms over the outlook for the federal deficit,” said Edward Yardeni, who coined the term in 1984 to describe investors who protest monetary or fiscal policies they consider inflationary by selling bonds. He now heads Yardeni Research Inc. in Great Neck, New York. “Ten trillion dollars over the next 10 years is just an indication that Washington is really out of control and that there is no fiscal discipline whatsoever.”

Don’t miss:
Marc Faber: U.S. will go into Hyperinflation, Approaching Zimbabwe Levels (Bloomberg)
US Will Eventually Lose Its AAA Credit Rating: Bill Gross (Bloomberg)
U.S. Treasury Blues: The Bond Bubble Has Burst (Barrons)

Investor Dread

What bond investors dread is accelerating inflation after the government and Fed agreed to lend, spend or commit $12.8 trillion to thaw frozen credit markets and snap the longest U.S. economic slump since the 1930s. The central bank also pledged to buy as much as $300 billion of Treasuries and $1.25 trillion of bonds backed by home loans.

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May 30

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May 30

money-banks

OVERALL loan quality at American banks is the worst in at least a quarter century, and the quality of loans is deteriorating at the fastest pace ever, according to statistics released this week by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The report highlighted that even as the government and major banks have scrambled to deal with the impaired securities the banks own, the institutions have been plagued by an unprecedented volume of old-fashioned loans going bad.

Of the entire book of loans and leases at all banks — totaling $7.7 trillion at the end of March — 7.75 percent were showing some sign of distress, the F.D.I.C. reported. That was up from 6.9 percent at the end of 2008 and from 4.1 percent a year earlier. It also exceeded the previous high of 7.26 percent set in 1990 and 1991, during the last crisis in American banking.

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May 30

south-korea-navy
South Korean sailors take part in exercises Friday in disputed waters off the Korean Peninsula.

(CNN) — The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday at an international conference.

“We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region — or on us,” said Gates, speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.

“Our goal is complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state,” he said.

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May 29

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May 29

The US Federal Reserve may soon be forced to launch fresh blitz of quantitative easing whatever the consequences for the US dollar, or risk seeing economic recovery snuffed out by the latest surge in long-term borrowing costs.

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Market expects Fed will have to double purchases of Treasuries. Photo: Getty Images

Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds have risen relentlessly since March when the Fed first announced its plan to buy $300bn (£188bn) of US government debt directly, a move that briefly forced rates down to nearly 2.5pc, a level thought to be the Fed’s implicit target.

Yields have jumped to 3.69pc – after spiking as high as 3.74pc on Wednesday – pushing up the standard 30-year mortgage loan to 5.08pc and lifting the borrowing cost for corporations.

“The Fed is going to have to consider doubling its purchases of Treasuries,” said Ashraf Laidi, from CMC Capital Markets. “We could be nearing the end-game for the US dollar but the Fed has little choice at this point. We’re in a vicious circle where any policy aimed at supporting the US economy must be at the expense of the dollar.”

Related article:
Marc Faber: U.S. will go into Hyperinflation, Approaching Zimbabwe Levels (Bloomberg)

The US Mortgage Bankers Association yesterday highlighted the fragility of the US housing market, reporting that 12pc of homeowners are either behind on their payments or facing foreclosure, the highest level since records began.

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May 29

2008-world-press-photo-foreclosure
2008 World Press Photo Foreclosure

NEW YORK, May 28 (Reuters) – One of eight U.S. households with a mortgage ended the first quarter late on loan payments or in the foreclosure process in a crisis that will persist for at least another year until unemployment peaks, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Thursday.

U.S. unemployment in April reached its highest rate in more than a quarter century and is still rising, helping propel mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures to record highs.

Such economic weakness drove up foreclosures of prime fixed-rate loans, which are made to the most creditworthy borrowers. The foreclosure rate on those loans doubled in the last year and represented the largest share of new foreclosures in the first three months of this year.

“We clearly haven’t hit the top yet in terms of delinquencies or the bottom of the housing market,” Jay Brinkmann, the association’s chief economist, said in an interview.

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May 29

“In Debt We Trust.”

Yes, we can … spend the U.S. into oblivion:

- Famous investor Marc Faber: U.S. will go into Hyperinflation, Approaching Zimbabwe Levels

- Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank:
The
“very big hole” in unfunded pension and health-care liabilities is over $99 trillion.
(Full article: Here)

- Glenn Beck: United States Debt Obligations Exceed World GDP

- Federal obligations exceed world GDP

The US is totally broke.


Leap in U.S. debt hits taxpayers with 12% more red ink

Taxpayers are on the hook for an extra $55,000 a household to cover rising federal commitments made just in the past year for retirement benefits, the national debt and other government promises, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The 12% rise in red ink in 2008 stems from an explosion of federal borrowing during the recession, plus an aging population driving up the costs of Medicare and Social Security.

That’s the biggest leap in the long-term burden on taxpayers since a Medicare prescription drug benefit was added in 2003.

The latest increase raises federal obligations to a record $546,668 per household in 2008, according to the USA TODAY analysis. That’s quadruple what the average U.S. household owes for all mortgages, car loans, credit cards and other debt combined.

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May 29

Commodities rally as expected. Just that there will be no recovery for the economy and the stock market. This is a bear market rally and it will end.


May 29 (Bloomberg) — Commodities headed for the biggest monthly rally in 34 years, led by energy, as the slumping dollar boosted demand for raw materials as a hedge against inflation.

In May, the Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 energy, metal and agricultural prices has gained 13 percent, the most since July 1974. The dollar headed for the biggest monthly drop this year against a basket of six major currencies.

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May 29

US and South Korean forces raised their military alert level today, a day after North Korea renounced the 55-year-old truce on the peninsula and threatened war if its ships are searched for weapons of mass destruction.

Three days after North Korea carried out an underground nuclear test, the US-South Korea combined forces command moved its level of surveillance to the second-highest level on its scale of five, the highest since North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006.

Meanwhile, the North’s state media accused the allies of plotting an attack, and warned that small incidents could have disastrous consequences. “The northward invasion scheme by the US and the South Korean puppet regime has exceeded the alarming level,” the Workers’ Newspaper said in an editorial. “A minor accidental skirmish can lead to a nuclear war.”

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May 29

May 21 (Bloomberg) — The odds on the dollar, Treasury bonds and the U.S. government’s AAA grade all heading for the dumpster are shortening.

While currency forecasting is a mug’s game and bond yields can’t quite decide whether to dive toward deflation or surge in anticipation of inflation, every time I think about that credit rating, I hear what Agent Smith in the “Matrix” movies called “the sound of inevitability.”

Several policy missteps suggest that investors should stop trusting — and lending to — the U.S. government. These include the state’s pressure on Bank of America Corp. to buy Merrill Lynch & Co.; the priority given to Chrysler LLC’s unions over the automaker’s secured creditors; and the freedom that some banks will regain to supersize executive bonuses by giving back part of the government money bolstering their balance sheets.

Currency markets have been in a weird state of what looks almost like equilibrium for the past couple of months. What’s really going on is something akin to an evenly matched tug of war that fails to move the ribbon tied around the center of the rope, giving the impression of harmony while powerful forces do silent battle until someone slips.

“All currencies are being debased dramatically by their central banks at extraordinary speeds and so in relative terms it appears there is no currency problem,” Lee Quaintance and Paul Brodsky of QB Asset Management said in a research note earlier this month. “In reality, however, paper money is highly vulnerable to a public catalyst that serves to acknowledge it is all merely vapor money.”

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May 28

Earlier this year, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee joined an opinion with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Second Amendment rights do not apply to the states.

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Sonia Sotomayor smiles as President Barack Obama announces her as his Supreme Court nominee at the White House.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor could walk into a firestorm on Capitol Hill over her stance on gun rights, with conservatives beginning to question some controversial positions she’s taken over the past several years on the Second Amendment.

Earlier this year, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee joined an opinion with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Second Amendment rights do not apply to the states.

A 2004 opinion she joined also cited as precedent that “the right to possess a gun is clearly not a fundamental right.”

Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow with the Family Research Council, called Obama’s nomination a “declaration of war against America’s gun owners.”

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May 28

I may have said it a trillion times but this is too important to not repeat myself every day.

When the bond bubble bursts, then the US dollar will be destroyed.
This will be the greatest financial collapse in history.
The ‘Greatest Depression’ (A hyperinflationary depression.).

And again: Got gold … and silver? (… and food and water for several months?!!)

Is gold a good investment? Consider John Paulson:
- World’s top hedge fund manager has a gold position of at least $5.5bn

It looks like John Paulson really knows what he is doing:
Paulson May Have Made $428 Million Shorting Lloyds
Paulson Fund Makes at Least $420 Million Shorting RBS

Remember when Gerald Celente said that those who weren’t listening to the many warnings (Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, Gerald Celente, Marc Faber, Max Keiser) deserve their fate?

If you prepare yourself, then you have a destiny. If you don’t, then what’s left for you is fate.


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Marc Faber, managing director of Marc Faber Ltd. and publisher of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report, speaks during an interview in Hong Kong, March 16, 2009. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg News

May 27 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. economy will enter “hyperinflation” approaching the levels in Zimbabwe because the Federal Reserve will be reluctant to raise interest rates, investor Marc Faber said.

Prices may increase at rates “close to” Zimbabwe’s gains, Faber said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Hong Kong. Zimbabwe’s inflation rate reached 231 million percent in July, the last annual rate published by the statistics office.

“I am 100 percent sure that the U.S. will go into hyperinflation,” Faber said. “The problem with government debt growing so much is that when the time will come and the Fed should increase interest rates, they will be very reluctant to do so and so inflation will start to accelerate.”

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May 28

Related article: U.S. Treasury Blues: The Bond Bubble Has Burst (Barrons)


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Oliver Quillia for CNBC.comA New York Stock Exchange trader.


The stock market is watching the bond market, wary a spike in interest rates will derail a fragile economic recovery and snuff the market’s rally.

Stocks tumbled Wednesday, but the real drama was in Treasurys and mortgages.

A selling spree in Treasurys pushed rates higher, taking the yield curve to its steepest on record as spreads between the 2-year and 10-year widened by over a dozen basis points on Wednesday alone.

The 10-year saw its yield move above 3.70 percent, after trading at 3.55 percent the previous day. The selling wave hit bonds shortly after 1 p.m., even after the auction of $35 billion in 5-year notes was well received.

“It was a great auction. It was just the follow through that was a problem,” said Brian Edmonds, head of interest rate trading at Cantor Fitzgerald.

Traders are bracing for more of the same Thursday. The Treasury is auctioning another $26 billion in notes, this time 7-years.

The heavy issuance – more than $100 billion this week alone – has been pressuring the market.

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May 28

“The Obama administration had asked the court to overturn Michigan v. Jackson, disappointing civil rights and civil liberties groups that expected President Barack Obama to reverse the policies of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.”


WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a long-standing ruling that stopped police from initiating questions unless a defendant’s lawyer was present, a move that will make it easier for prosecutors to interrogate suspects.

The high court, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned the 1986 Michigan v. Jackson ruling, which said police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present. The Michigan ruling applied even to defendants who agreed to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.

The court’s conservatives overturned that opinion, with Justice Antonin Scalia saying “it was poorly reasoned.”

Under the Jackson opinion, police could not even ask a defendant who had been appointed a lawyer if he wanted to talk, Scalia said.

“It would be completely unjustified to presume that a defendant’s consent to police-initiated interrogation was involuntary or coerced simply because he had previously been appointed a lawyer,” Scalia said in the court’s opinion.

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May 28

hypo-real-estate

BERLIN — Germany’s financial regulator warned of serious problems at Hypo Real Estate Holding AG six months before the lender was rescued in a massive bailout, but the regulator lacked powers to act and the government ignored its warnings, according to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The documents — brought to light in preparation for parliamentary committee hearings Thursday to examine the government’s handling of Hypo’s bailout — are likely to prove politically charged ahead of national elections in September.

For months, Germany has lectured the U.S. and others on the need for stricter regulation of financial markets, holding itself up as a model. The German parliament probe into the €102 billion ($142.6 billion) rescue of Munich-based Hypo, however, suggests Germany struggled as much as the U.S. or Britain to control the risks the country’s banks were taking.

hypo-real-estate

Hypo’s funding problems and huge losses on complex securities make it the worst of Germany’s problem banks, though it is one of many. German banks could face total losses in the current financial crisis of €200 billion to €300 billion, according to several estimates, of which only around €100 billion has been written down.

Spokesmen for Hypo and the Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, declined to comment.

Overall, banks in Western Europe could lose about $1.4 trillion in this crisis, more than expected losses in the U.S. banking system, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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May 27

North Korea has threatened to respond with a ‘powerful’ military strike against its southern neighbour if Seoul takes part in a US-led initiative to intercept shipments suspected of being involved in the building of weapons of mass destruction.


Source: YouTube


Related article: North Korea Threatens Armed Strike, End to Armistice:

May 27 (Bloomberg) — North Korea threatened a military response to South Korean participation in a U.S.-led program to seize weapons of mass destruction, and said it will no longer abide by the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.

“The Korean People’s Army will not be bound to the Armistice Agreement any longer,” the official Korean Central News Agency said in a statement today. Any attempt to inspect North Korean vessels will be countered with “prompt and strong military strikes.” South Korea’s military said it will “deal sternly with any provocation” from the North.

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May 27

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North Korean soldiers walk along the banks of the Yalu River near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong May 27, 2009. REUTERS/Jacky Chen

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia is taking security measures as a precaution against the possibility tension over North Korea could escalate into nuclear war, news agencies quoted officials as saying on Wednesday.

Interfax quoted an unnamed security source as saying a stand-off triggered by Pyongyang’s nuclear test on Monday could affect the security of Russia’s far eastern regions, which border North Korea.

“The need has emerged for an appropriate package of precautionary measures,” the source said.

“We are not talking about stepping up military efforts but rather about measures in case a military conflict, perhaps with the use of nuclear weapons, flares up on the Korean Peninsula,” he added. The official did not elaborate further.

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May 27


Added: Mai 26, 2009
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May 27

Is China really hoarding oil or is it getting out of the US dollar?
Both.

China is quietly getting out of the US dollar and a clever way to do that is buying oil, gold, copper etc.:
“China has doubled its bullion reserves and left us in no doubt that it will spend more of its $40bn monthly surplus on hard assets rather than the toxic paper of Western democracies.” Full article: Here.

China is also shifting out of long-term Treasuries:
“So rather than cut off financing for the U.S.’s record budget deficit for this fiscal year, China has instead, little by little, shifted its buying out of longer-term bonds.” Full article: Here.

China is working on ditching the US dollar:
Brazil, China talks on ditching dollar
China calls for new reserve currency to replace dollar

China knows that the US cannot finance its debt other than monetizing it and so China is more careful about its investment in the US:
Lawmaker: China has canceled ‘US credit card’
China warned the Federal Reserve over printing money, which destroys the value of its investment.

China probably knows by now that the US economy and the US dollar will collapse.

What China is really doing is preparing itself for the greatest financial collapse in history. The ‘Greatest Depression’.


Chinese stockpiling responsible for rising oil prices, industry experts at Bernstein Research claim

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Fuelling a rise: experts believe storage levels in China have reached a peak

THE big rally in the oil price in recent weeks is down to Chinese stockpiling, a leading energy industry analyst has claimed.

Oil industry experts Bernstein Research say they have been spying on the world’s third-largest economy and have concluded China is actively hoarding supplies.

After the spectacular crash in the crude price last year following an all-time high of $147 a barrel, oil has soared again this year, up 70% since mid-January. In the past four weeks, the oil price has jumped 25% to trade around the $60-a-barrel level again.

Energy analysts have been scratching their heads for a reason, other than the recent dollar weakness which always pushes up the value of crude.

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May 27

“sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment”

Sure!
Sheep, the new climate change terrorists.
The government now wants to tell you what you can and what you can’t eat.


Burping of the lambs blows roast off menu

GIVE up lamb roasts and save the planet. Government advisers are developing menus to combat climate change by cutting out “high carbon” food such as meat from sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment.

Out will go kebabs, greenhouse tomatoes and alcohol. Instead, diners will be encouraged to consume more potatoes and seasonal vegetables, as well as pork and chicken, which generate fewer carbon emissions.

“Changing our lifestyles, including our diets, is going to be one of the crucial elements in cutting carbon emissions,” said David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change.

Kennedy has stopped eating his favourite doner kebabs because they contain lamb.

A government-sponsored study into greenhouse gases found that producing 2.2lb of lamb released the equivalent of 37lb of carbon dioxide.

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May 26

The U.S. is totally broke:

Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank:
The
“very big hole” in unfunded pension and health-care liabilities is over $99 trillion.

Of course China is worried about the Fed purchasing Treasuries, because this is creating pure inflation, which destroys the value of China’s investment. Also the Treasury bubble has burst, which is really bad news for anybody investing in Treasuries. This crisis has just started. The worst is yet to come: A hyperinflationary depression, the ‘Greatest Depression’.


China has warned a top member of the US Federal Reserve that it is increasingly disturbed by the Fed’s direct purchase of US Treasury bonds.

Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said: “Senior officials of the Chinese government grilled me about whether or not we are going to monetise the actions of our legislature.”

“I must have been asked about that a hundred times in China. I was asked at every single meeting about our purchases of Treasuries. That seemed to be the principal preoccupation of those that were invested with their surpluses mostly in the United States,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

His recent trip to the Far East appears to have been a stark reminder that Asia’s “Confucian” culture of right action does not look kindly on the insouciant policy of printing money by Anglo-Saxons.

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May 26

porsche
Porsche automobiles sit lined up in the Porsche Forum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany on Nov. 25, 2008. Photographer: Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg News

May 26 (Bloomberg) — Porsche SE, struggling to combine with Volkswagen AG, is in danger of losing some of the 17.3 billion euros ($24.3 billion) in profits recorded from holding VW options because it may not have the money to exercise them.

Porsche bought options and Volkswagen stock for more than three years and controls more than 70 percent of Europe’s biggest automaker. Now, Stuttgart, Germany-based Porsche may be unable to raise the money needed to cash in the options, according to research by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., Sal. Oppenheim jr. & Cie. and FAIResearch GmbH & Co.

The 78-year-old maker of the 911 sports car piled up more than 9 billion euros in debt and hasn’t been able to raise the financing even after the options contracts surged in value along with the sevenfold gain in VW shares since 2005, according to the analysts. Porsche is attempting to negotiate a merger with Volkswagen and seek an investor to provide cash after its bid last year fell apart when VW’s home state of Lower Saxony vetoed the proposal and its car deliveries fell 27 percent in the six months ended Jan. 31.

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May 26

German car maker Porsche is struggling to raise €1.75bn (£1.54bn) to cover debts and unwind derivative positions stemming from its botched attempt to take over vastly-bigger Volkswagen.

Porsche’s shares fell 3.1pc in Frankfurt on Monday after it emerged that the company had obtained a €700bn loan from Volkswagen as long ago as March. A Porsche spokesman said the group is negotiating bridging finance with a variety of banks, including the state lender KfW.

It is understood that Porsche is also in talks with the Bank of Tokyo for a €750m loan, and is seeking help from the regional government of Baden-Wurttemberg.

The crisis is yet another headache for the German authorities as they put together a rescue deal this week for Opel, most likely with Fiat. Separately, the hotel and retail group Arcandor said it faced collapse without a €650m state bail-out. Arcandor’s share price fell 20pc. The company owns the Karstadt department stores, Quelle, and Thomas Cook. It employs 50,000 workers.

Porsche acquired a 51pc share of VW earlier this year after a series of derivatives deals that tripled Porsche’s debt to €9bn.

The takeover bid went badly wrong, forcing Porsche chief Ferdinand Piech to press instead for a merger of the two car makers on increasingly less favourable terms.

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May 26

California ‘IS’ broke and the US ‘IS’ broke too.


California is the salad bowl in which the world serves up its more exotic lifestyle experiments. Mix sunshine with self-indulgence and dress it with surf-wear and you get a glimpse of how we might live in the future – if we could only afford the plastic surgery.

Unfortunately, it appears that even Californians can no longer afford the lifestyle of the Valley Girl.

The Golden State is almost bust, but its inhabitants, even if they believe it, do not want to know and they certainly do not want to pay for it. The state has been running huge budget deficits for years; the till in Sacramento, the state capital, is now empty and the last-ditch attempt by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor, to balance the books with a series of tax increases and budgetary shuffles was roundly rejected by voters in referendums a week ago.

With a $21 billion (£13 billion) deficit and the lowest credit rating of any American state, the choices are few and grim. California cannot hope to borrow such large sums, except at extortionate rates, which leaves the option of massive cuts in public spending – the sacking of thousands of teachers.

California could run out of cash in a few months. Mr Schwarzenegger has already warned that 5,000 state employees face being fired. The state education budget is in line for a $5 billion cut, alongside the end of funding for parks and the closure of at least one state agency.

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May 26

As a senior interrogator in Iraq (and a former criminal investigator), there was a lesson I learned that served me well: there’s more to be learned from what someone doesn’t say than from what they do say. Let me dissect former Vice President Dick Cheney’s speech on National Security using this model and my interrogation skills.

First, VP Cheney said, “This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately… it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do.” He further stated, “It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so.” That is simply untrue. Anyone who served in Iraq, and veterans on both sides of the aisle have made this argument, knows that the foreign fighters did not come to Iraq en masse until after the revelations of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. I heard this from captured foreign fighters day in and day out when I was supervising interrogations in Iraq. What the former vice president didn’t say is the fact that the dislike of our policies in the Middle East were not enough to make thousands of Muslim men pick up arms against us before these revelations. Torture and abuse became Al Qaida’s number one recruiting tool and cost us American lives.

Secondly, the former vice president, in saying that waterboarding is not torture, never mentions the fact that it was the United States and its Allies, during the Tokyo Trials, that helped convict a Japanese soldier for war crimes for waterboarding one of Jimmie Doolittle’s Raiders. Have our morals and values changed in fifty years? He also did not mention that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln both prohibited their troops from torturing prisoners of war. Washington specifically used the term “injure” — no mention of severe mental or physical pain.

Thirdly, the former vice president never mentioned the Senate testimony of Ali Soufan, the FBI interrogator who successfully interrogated Abu Zubaydah and learned the identity of Jose Padilla, the dirty bomber, and the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) was the mastermind behind 9/11. We’ll never know what more we could have discovered from Abu Zubaydah had not CIA contractors taken over the interrogations and used waterboarding and other harsh techniques. Also, glaringly absent from the former vice president’s speech was any mention of the fact that the former administration never brought Osama bin Laden to justice and that our best chance to locate him would have been through KSM or Abu Zubaydah had they not been waterboarded.

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