The financial impact of BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill is set to hit millions of pension fund investors in the UK. Almost every pension investor has a stake in BP’s fortunes, as the oil giant accounts for £1 of every £7 of dividend income paid out by the companies in the FTSE 100 index of leading shares. There is a real threat that the BP dividend will be cut or even passed. (via BP — Is your pension safe? – Times Online).
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
This is a strange situation. People seem to want more of the same problem. Europe, and the West, rightly identified the State and the Church as a problem. They have taken nearly 500 years to bring the Church and State to heel. Just when it seemed that they may have succeeded, they stepped up to the podium and handed back all the power, the authority.
Back to the State – for transient Welfare ‘benefits.’
The beast just changes its name
The State has ‘bought’ this loyalty by making itself appear as sometimes ‘caring’ usually ‘benign’ and mostly ‘protective.’ False illusions all! Under the umbrella of the this monolithic State, we see today large semi-State corporations which are separated from the State by a ‘Chinese-Wall’. And we have seen how strong these Chinese walls are!
To hide the nature of the beast, it has given itself different names – socialism, capitalism, communism, et al. Not just that, this beast has also cloned itself.
And gained respectability, it does not deserve.
BP is just a part of the State
BP is one such creature. Of the State, for the State, by the State. Yet it hides this fact. And the British don’t seem to have an option. BP has co-opted the British populace – as it alone accounts for nearly15%of all dividends paid out by British companies – to its ‘shareholders.’ These models of polity must be consigned to the garbage dumps of history.
That is where they belong.
- BP to resume dividend payouts next year (newstatesman.com)
- Gulf of Mexico Spill British Petroleum’s latest Catastrophe (news.suite101.com)
- America the Litigious (blogs.lawyers.com)
- Is It Finally Safe to Own BP? (beta.fool.com)
- Fraud pollutes BP oil-spill compensation fund for Gulf Coast victims from Florida to Louisiana (miamiherald.com)
Anti-China sounds from USA take-on religious overtones. Christian crusades against devil-worshiping pagans of East?
Five years ago Pacific islands became a tragic poster children of Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth. The BBC called the Maldives “a paradise faced with extinction”.
But just four of the 27 islands studied by the team – chosen because sea levels had risen in the past sixty years – had diminished in size. The other 23 had expanded, one by as much as 60 per cent.
The islands apparently expand their mass by accumulating sediment, and through natural processes – not surprisingly, since they’re built on live biomatter: coral. (via Pacific islands growing not shrinking, says old study • The Register).
The hoax of this century
2ndlook tracked and collated the entire climate change campaign, where
- Multiple PR agencies, NGOs were used and funded by the British, Norwegian and Australian Governments
- To mount a global campaign of ‘epic’ proportions
- To stampede the world into a regime of faceless and unaccountable bureaucrats -
- That would monitor nations, industry and economies of the world.
The campaign possibly even subverted the Maldives election campaign to propel a Trojan horse into the developing world camp. Nobel prizes were dangled in front of the Trinidad’s PM. A group of ‘Vulnerable 14′ was promoted to make proxy noises on behalf of the organizers of his climate change hoax. This latest expose comes as no surprise.
Not to 2ndlook, at least!
2ndlook on climate change
- Climate head steps down over e-mail leak
- India, China, Brazil walk out – Copenhagen dead
- Climate Change at Copenhagen – Britain mounts a Trojan operation
- Copenhagen Talks End With Agreement, But No Binding Deal – AlterNet
- The road from Copenhagen | Ed Miliband
- Climate change – How India is falling for propaganda
- Indian cows were blamed for global warming!
- US Euro Clubs hobble Third Wold
- Climate head steps down over e-mail leak
- NASSCOM wakes after 15 months
- PR Stunts – The Maldives underwater meeting
- Indian to head Amnesty
- Amartya Sen at the Aspen Institute India’s Conference in New Delhi – WSJ.com
- Climate change – ‘Time for Plan B’ says Nigel Lawson
- We can challenge India on Copenhagen goals: US
- You cant cheat a honest man – Carbon credits are a Rs 28,000-cr ‘opportunity’
In the last few years, the Chinese economy and administration has changed – unannounced and in a very subtle way. There is an interesting openness and candour, which are new elements in the China-mix.
Instead of the usual three themes of real-estate bubble theory, the mega infrastructure projects and the impending dollar-yuan revaluation, this post will look at four other elements. These four elements are usually ignored in most China analysis – which this post will address.
China opens up
In March 2010, China appointed three economic advisors to ‘help’ the People’s Bank Of China. Drawn from academic backgrounds, the names of the advisors were leaked to the press.
Zhou Qiren, Xia Bin and Li Daokui will replace Fan Gang, formerly the sole academic member of the committee, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement on its Web site today, citing decisions by the State Council, the top cabinet. Zhou and Li have spent much of their careers in teaching and academic study, while Xia has worked as a researcher at government agencies.
Li Daokui has been a forthright and hawkish tone in flagging China’s problems! What gives. The way it seems, these economists are talking down the yuan! An orderly devaluation of the yuan and a negotiated recapitalization awaits Chinese banks.
“The housing market problem in China is actually much, much more fundamental, much bigger than the housing market problem in the US and UK before your financial crisis,” he said in an interview. “It is more than [just] a bubble problem.”He was speaking ahead of Monday’s announcement by the State Council that it had approved a plan to reform real estate taxes, the clearest indication yet that the government will for the first time impose an annual tax on some residential housing in order to rein in rising prices. The news sent shares in China down 2.4 percent. (via China Property Risk Is Worse Than in US – CNBC).
EU is the largest market for Chinese exports.The change in the Euro-yuan equation in the last 6 months has made Chinese exports to the EU more expensive. This will still not take US pressure off yuan revaluation – and anyway there was no much pressure from EU for a Euro-yuan reset!
Chinese leaders reached a consensus in early April to break the renminbi’s peg to the dollar. That ended a dispute that had spilled into public view in March when Commerce Ministry officials warned in speeches and interviews in Beijing and Washington about the dangers of any change in the renminbi’s value. The ministry halted those warnings immediately after the consensus was reached, and Chen Deming, the commerce minister, even reversed himself publicly by saying that China’s trade deficit in March was nothing to worry about.
Trade finance out of China
A few quarters ago, China’s trade froze due to lack of trade credit. Chinese banks were unable to get intra-bank limits – and in turn were unable to fund letters of credit for Chinese exporters.
A hiccup in the Chinese realty markets could freeze wheels in China – freezing trade wheels in Asia. As reported earlier in April 2009,
China’s exports rose 7.6% in March from February, after six straight months of contraction. “While exports growth is likely to remain weak in the coming months,” Goldman Sachs economists Yu Song and Helen Qiao commented about China, “we believe the worst sequential slowdown probably is behind us now.”
Some of the revival is due to the greater availability of trade finance, which had dried up as banks clamped down on lending in late 2008, hamstringing global trade.
The Shanghai Composite
In 2010, even as global markets recovered or stabilized, the Chinese Shanghai Composite Index is in bad shape.
In the rankings of the world’s worst-performing stock markets this year, nations drowning in debt feature heavily. Greece is number one, closely followed by Slovakia, Cyprus and Spain. But then, in fifth place, there is China.
Shanghai’s decline – the index is down 16 per cent since January – has caught many investors by surprise, since China is widely seen as a beacon of growth in a world that is still reeling from the financial crisis.
Having fallen to a eight-month low on Thursday, the Shanghai Composite is this year’s worst performing index in Asia.
Is the Chinese catastrophe overstated
Mass media usually ends-up following, herd-like, some high-profile ‘opinion makers.’
The China Bubble theory has been pushed by people like Jim Chanos, who cut his teeth by predicting Enron and Tyco. In January this year, he made a widely reported prediction that China is “Dubai times 1000″ and is likely to burst any time soon. Chanos’ Biblical imagery and descriptions about China’s, “Treadmill to Hell’ gives the game away. Marc Faber is another boom-and-doom theorist, who has predicted a China bust up! Another economic commentator, Hugh Hendry, in a similar vein, says,
“They suggest a new era reminiscent of Protestant Capitalism. They want us to believe the atheist Chinese are prepared to work harder and defer their gratification for longer.”
These commentators are seemingly painting this economic scenario with theocratic hues! A modern version of the medieval crusades?
The logic of China-busters is very well refuted by those who who are closer to China market and economy – unlike some American Sinologists, who talk to other Sinologists, whose ‘unquestioned’ expertise is based on other Sinologists’ opinion.
The Chinese economic ‘bubble’ may yet burst. But, methinks, the causes, effects and intensity will be, well …
Some other China posts by 2ndlook
Canada has done a good job, in concentrating their problems in one mortgage institution – public sector behemoth, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, (CMHC).
- The REAL Canadian bank bailout (macleans.ca)
- Ottawa caps insured mortgages at 25 years (cbc.ca)
- Canadian Real Estate And Household Debt (seekingalpha.com)
- Dodging housing bubble could cost Canadian economy its dominance (business.financialpost.com)
- Canadian economy won’t reach full potential until late 2013: Bank of Canada (macleans.ca)
However, US President Barack Obama’s decision to attend the reception in honour of his Indian guests at the conclusion of the first day of the strategic dialogue between Krishna and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton today, caught on well with the Indian team which is taking heart from the gesture.
Clinton opened the meeting with a passion reminiscent of the days of the Bush administration’s honeymoon with Delhi, emphasising that India was not only the “world’s greatest democracy and the world’s second fastest growing economy, but also a rising power. “The 21st century will be defined by India,” she said.
Certainly, the first high-powered strategic dialogue between the two governments is symbolic of a wide-ranging partnership between India and the US. The Obama administration wanted it this way; they had done the same thing when Obama, and more recently Hilary Clinton, went to China, in an effort to infuse the strategic dialogue with more meaning beyond security issues. (via 21st century to be defined by India: US).
This can turn a man’s head
If an American woman, much in ‘demand’, tells an Indian, “you have the biggest” you can imagine what happens. Especially if she says it to Sardar!
That is what Hillary Clinton did. Talk about India’s ‘biggest’ democracy!
She then went ahead and talked of his ‘rising power’. Now any Sardar will be happy to hear about his ‘rising power’. Naughty Hillary!
I bet you say that to all the boys!
On a still summer afternoon in Haridwar, under the platform that was the gaddi office of Gangaram, Dhagdu, from Bihar, who uses just one name, crouched with his family. They waited for their turn, the moment when they would be noticed and the record keeper would write their names into the book. “We want our descendants to know that someone in their family had been here to Haridwar and attended a Mahakumbh,” said Dhagdu, rasping through betel nut stained teeth.
Minutes later, Ravindra Bharadwaj, an important-looking man with a walrus moustache, who sat surrounded by bahis—scrolls that house records of visiting families— summoned them.
Without looking at the family, Bharadwaj shot off questions—“What village? What caste? Your father’s name? Grandfather’s name?”—that left Dhagdu confused. Hasty consultations commenced as Bharadwaj tapped an impatient pen on thick, handmade paper: he was not idle, he had things to do.
When the answers were found, Bharadwaj began writing in Devnagari, slowly and deliberately—“Dhagdu, son of Ghela, grandson of Chuniya, hailing from Banka district of Bihar, visited Haridwar in April 2010, with his wife and two sons—Rohit and Ram. He was here to attend the Mahakumbh.” Asked to sign, Dhagdu pressed an ink-stained thumb on the paper. (via Modernization plan runs into ancient biases – Economy and Politics – livemint.com).
Keeping such traditions and records alive – without State patronage or support, is without parallel in the world. Indian brahmans have a great history – as indeed India itself has!
Alexander – an ethnic ‘cleanser’?
Some 23 centuries ago, Alexander massacred 8,000-10,000 Brahmins – most probably, from the Takshashila University. It was this massacre that possibly started the decline of Takshashila - and not some silly fiction of a Huna invasion.
The ‘provocation’ for this massacre was the active role of the Takshashila Brahmans in organizing Indian rulers to jointly face the Greek invasion.
Violence against intellectuals, (Brahmans) is taboo in India. Killing intellectuals, came easily to Alexander.
Remember, the execution of Socrates!
Those who learn from history
Upper-caste ‘Brahmans’ became exploiters. Indian kings ruled like oriental despots. Indian baniya, thou art an unscrupulous and unethical cheat! As for the ‘dispossessed’ peasant, or worker, he was a born liar and lazy shirker! Dirty Indians, all of us! The British Raj, was of course, enlightened, progressive, egalitarian.
And full of liberty.
Greek lessons in India
To puncture Indian campaign for self-rule, independence, the British propaganda machinery shot multiple arrows.
Against Lal-Bal-Pal, the British pitted Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Phule, Agarkar, Gokhale. Subhash Chandra Bose’s foil was Gandhiji. And the ‘evil’ caste system as the excuse for Indian ‘backwardness’! To cover up the daridra (poverty), dushkal (famine) and dravyashosha (drain), the British offered India ‘education’, ‘social reform.’
Patterned on the lines of a superior culture like Britain.
British legacy in India
Wonder why the Great British culture is taking them nowhere!
After they lost their slaves (in 1830), after the end of piracy (1860) and the end of colonies (1960). Even with a hybrid, mongrel polity, India has emerged as a significant economic force within 60 years of British departure.
Wonder what India missed by a doing this hybrid shindig – instead of a full Indic.
The Trinamool Congress, which had already won two-thirds majority in the 141-member KMC, will not need the support of the Congress to rule Kolkata where her party has already captured 94 of the 135 wards the results of which were available. (via Trinamool storms to power in Kolkata civic polls – Economy and Politics – livemint.com).
Decline of the Bengal’s economy
From a prime business centre till the 1960′s West Bengal stagnated during the last 30 years of Communist rule. Rampant storm-troopers kept political opposition at bay. Voters were ‘kept’ in line. Trade Unions suppressed businesses till there was no industry left in West Bengal.
Mamata Banerji’s biggest symbol of success was reversal of the Tata Nano project – where prime agricultural land was forcibly acquired by the state – for ‘progress.’ Mamata’s detractors alleged that Tata Nano’s automobile competitors were behind the Mamata campaign.
Lone woman standing
Mamata’s, an ex-Congressi, split from the Congress over strategy on how to defeat the CPIM. Friendless for sometime, without any patron or godfather, she ploughed a lonely furrow.
Till an alliance with the BJP gave her impetus – and political standing. A split with the BJP and an alliance with the Congress put wind in her sails.
Her policies and programmes are a bit of a black box – and may not make a big difference. Hopefully, it will break the Communist hold over West Bengal – which is an unalloyed plus for West Bengal.
Think for a moment about which countries cause the most global consternation. Afghanistan. Iran. Venezuela. North Korea. Pakistan. Perhaps rising China. But India? Surely not. In the popular imagination, the world’s largest democracy evokes Gandhi, Bollywood, and chicken tikka. In reality, however, it’s India that often gives global governance the biggest headache. (via How India Gives Global Governance the Biggest Headache – By Barbara Crossette | Foreign Policy).
If so much bile is raised, spleen is vented and poison emitted, India must be doing something right! My exuberance is only reduced by the fact that Barbara Crossette is an old Indophobe – and cant see anything right with India! But still … such a contrived and tired attack can only be a source of satisfaction! A particularly strong, pick-me-up!
I am loving it!
Resource-scarce economies, such as China, India, Japan and South Korea, have long been heavily dependent on oil from the Middle East, giving producers there the upper hand in pricing. The surcharge, known as the “Asian premium,” has averaged about $1.20 a barrel since 1988.
Now, the tables are turning, handing an advantage to the region’s fast-growing countries in the form of relatively less expensive energy.
In March, Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, sold its Arab Light crude to Asia for $6.37 less per barrel than it charged European buyers … Kuwait and Iraq also followed suit … though official statistics aren’t yet available.
The latest flip in prices has led many analysts to conclude that fundamental changes in the global oil trade will soon eliminate the Asian premium for good, eliminating a drag on the region’s economy. In 2008, for example, Asian customers bought about 14 million barrels of oil a day from the Middle East, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy. The premium averaged $8.08 a barrel that year, amounting to about $41 billion. (via Economic Clout Earns Asia an Oil Discount – WSJ.com).
One by one, each Asian country has been able to pull itself out colonial cess-pit that seemed bottomless at one point of time. Barring a few like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, some Central Asian republics, Asia is truly on its way out of the 20th century misery.
There are two economic miracles. One we have seen.
It is a miracle that Asia has been able to come out of its poverty pit, where it found itself in the 20th century – especially after WW2.
The greater miracle will be when Europe and Middle East find a way to rebuild their economic model – without the Asian premium!
And that is the miracle we may not see!