US think tanks and experts are making the worst assessments of Europe and the Euro. Can they be believed?
- Superpower China: Emerging From 60 years Of American Shadow? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Time to pull the plug? (economist.com)
- Europe’s Zero-Sum Dilemma | Gideon Rachman | National Interest | 25 April 2012 (nationalinterest.org)
- Spain poised to get up to €100bn for bank bailout (guardian.co.uk)
- Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: Keep the Koh-i-Noor (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Church, Religion & Go-Gooders (behind2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- 10 Companies Decide What We Eat (behind2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- Land of the Free … Home of the Brave (behind2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- Perspectives on Pakistan (behind2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- Bilderberg: Silly stories …? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- China’s ‘naked’ officials (2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- Pakistan: The Hidden Chapter (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Indian diplomacy: Heavy Lifting (2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- ‘Opportunist’ China’s Help Rejected By EU (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Newswallah: Long Reads Edition (india.blogs.nytimes.com)
- It’s not just our leaders who are in a crisis. Democracy itself is failing | Peter Beaumont (guardian.co.uk)
- Conspiracies, Coups and Currencies (nytimes.com)
- The eurozone crisis is eroding our democracy. How do we withdraw our consent from being governed like this? (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
Tobacco – a colonial addiction
Six companies and sundry State monopolies drive global cigarette consumption. These six companies derive more than US$100 billion dollars in revenues, globally. For many years they were advertising industries largest customers.These six companies are headquartered at former European imperial powers (UK, France, Spain), USA and Japan.
In recent years, dozens of cigarette manufacturing companies have consolidated under four major private corporations: Altria/Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, and Imperial Tobacco. State monopolies are also major cigarette manufacturers. The largest state monopoly is China National Tobacco Corporation, with a global cigarette market share that exceeds that of any private company. Because the European Union intends to restrict further mergers and acquisitions that increase a tobacco company’s market-share dominance, industry consolidation trends may have peaked.
The tobacco industry includes some of the most powerful transnational corporate entities in the world. Tobacco conglomerates have diversified into many other industries, such as financial services, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, real estate, hotels, restaurants, communications, and apparel, among others. The tobacco industry is expected to continue increasing in size and power.
The global tobacco market, valued at $378 billion, grew by 4.6 percent in 2007. By the year 2012, the value of the global tobacco market is projected to increase another 23 percent, reaching $464.4 billion. If Big Tobacco were a country, it would have the 23rd-largest gross domestic product in the world, surpassing the GDP of countries like Norway and Saudi Arabia. (via Tobacco Atlas Online – Tobacco Companies.).
India’s small production base is a combination of two aspects. Indian social inertia against addictive substances and the Government on the other. Indian cigarette business, small as it is, was put in Indian hands during Indira Gandhi’s socialist days. BAT lost control of ITC, which was placed in the hands of professional Indian managers.
Chinese State Tobacco monopoly
Or Western powers pushing opium in China in the nineteenth century. After the opium experience of the Chinese, when Western trading houses, under State protection, using the garb of ‘free trade’, made China into the largest consumer of opium.
The Chinese Govt. has replaced opium with tobacco.
The second secret of the tobacco business is to be dominant in purchasing and cornering tobacco stock. For cornering tobacco stocks, Big Tobacco depends on Central Banks’ support – aka State support. For instance, ITC (and other major global tobacco purchasers) in India has a major presence in Guntur, where Indian tobacco trade is headquartered.
ITC’s over-sized chequebook buys it market dominance.
The Indian tobacco profile
India is the third largest producer of tobacco – after China and USA. India ranks 6th as a tobacco exporting nation, as most of tobacco in India is consumed by domestic consumers. Tobacco consumption in India follows traditional patterns, as a non-industrial product – spanning chewing tobacco, bidis (tobacco rolled in leaves), hookah, clay pipes and snuff. Indian traditional tobacco usage consumes between 75%-85% of total tobacco cultivation.
Indian tobacco consumption and control follows consumption patterns of psychotropic drugs. All the major drugs in the world came of India – opium is afeem, khus-khus पोस्त; cannabis is charas, ganja, marijuana, hashish. Heroin is a derivative of opium. Even, as Indians are significant (legal) producers, they are not high on consumption lists.
However, drugs never became a big problem in India. Unlike in China, or in Medieval Middle East (when drug crazed criminals called hashishis became assassins). All these drugs were introduced to the world by India – with records going back to 1000 BC. Similarly family and peer pressure plays an important role in controlling the less dangerous form of traditional tobacco usage in India. In modern times, Indian gold smuggling was funded by carriage and export of drugs.
Cigarette production consumes less than one-fourth of India’s tobacco production.
Until two years ago, non-filter cigarettes comprised 30% of the total cigarette consumption. But with an increase in excise duty on non-filter cigarettes from Rs 168 to Rs 819 per thousand from March 1, 2008, the demand for low-priced filter cigarettes has risen At present, the excise duty on a pack of 10 filter cigarettes is Rs 8.19, and VAT Rs 1.05. Thus, taxes total Rs 10 per pack. Illicit cigarettes are sold for less than this amount, leading the government to believe that either registered cigarette units are evading duty or foreign-made cigarettes are flooding the market from Myanmar and the UK The business of low-cost cigarettes is big in the country, especially in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. (via Article Window).
The expansion of manufacturing in cigarettes globally (see chart) is much like the housing scam in US and Europe. Banks made huge advances, created a bubble, and are now busy foreclosing these loans. The modern myth of Republic Democracy at work.
How maya works in real life.
- Australia takes on tobacco giants over packaging (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Big Tobacco’s Been Busy (fool.com)
- Philip Morris Int’l buys rights to nicotine system (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- The unstoppable march of the tobacco giants (independent.co.uk)
- Tobacco giant BAT admits funding retailers’ campaign against ban on cigarette displays (guardian.co.uk)
- Yes, smoking kills – but not everyone wants to be saved | Tanya Gold (guardian.co.uk)
- FDA takes action against illegal marketing of tobacco products (gloucestercitynews.net)
- Why Gas Stations Love Cigarettes (MO, RAI, LO) (businessinsider.com)
- Smokers ignore health warnings, research shows (guardian.co.uk)
- World’s toughest antismoking laws set to pass in Australian parliament (telegraph.co.uk)
Of mice and men
While the US dollar is weakening, by design, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain are being bankrupted by a deliberately overvalued Euro.
an unexpected $7.3 billion trade deficit, the biggest in seven years. The nation’s (China’s) exports rose at the slowest pace since November 2009.
For Europe, the grand prix is to replace the dollar as the currency of international trade – especially oil trade. Euro as a international trade-currency-of-choice, will give the Euro region access to more than 1 trillion euros in zero-cost floating balances.
China is expecting the yuan to play a similar role. Such are plans made by mice and men.
Monsieur Murphy says
What can go wrong with these plans? Plenty.
The eternal enemy of currency manipulation – gold. As a million bureaucrats work on the mechanics of their plans,
Sales of gold coins are on track for the best month in a year amid the worst commodities rout since 2008, a sign that bullion’s longest bull market in nine decades has further to run, if history is a guide.
The U.S. Mint sold 85,000 ounces of American Eagle coins since May 1 as the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 raw materials fell 9.9 percent. The last time sales reached that level, bullion rose 21 percent in the next year. Gold will advance 17 percent to a record $1,750 an ounce by Dec. 31 and keep gaining in 2012, the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 31 analysts, traders and investors shows.
UBS AG, Switzerland’s biggest bank, had its second-best day this year for physical sales on May 9, according to a report the following day. The bank’s sales to India, the world’s top bullion consumer, are more than 10 percent higher than in 2010. (via Gold Coins Show Bull Market Unbowed in Commodities Decline – Bloomberg).
You take free advice …?
Back in late January, as the world’s important people rubbed elbows in Davos, billionaire investor George Soros had some rather definitive thoughts to offer on gold, which he called “the ultimate asset bubble,” according to reports.
However, he neglected to mention that his hedge fund had been buying.
Another report points out that the liquidation (by people like Soros) of investments in public investment vehicles may be replaced by private investments.
The new filings from funds “may show that big names exited ETPs and this news may cause prices to slip in the very short term,” said Bayram Dincer, an analyst at LGT Capital Management in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland. Some funds switched to holding gold directly so they wouldn’t have to announce it publicly, he said.
Is gold a bubble?
A rather disbelieving journalist writes of the situation in the West
Gold is in a bubble. Anyone will tell you that. They’ve been saying it since gold was about, oh, $500 an ounce. But it’s a funny kind of a bubble. It’s the only one I’ve encountered where so few people seem to own the asset in question.
During the dot-com bubble, you met lots of people with tech stocks. Taxi drivers told you what dot-coms they owned. During the housing bubble you met normal, ordinary people who were trading up to expensive homes using adjustable-rate mortgages, buying new condos off plan to flip, and cashing out their fictional “equity” through a refinance mortgage.
But who actually owns gold? I keep hearing about the gold bubble, but every time I ask people if they own any themselves, they say, “no, no, of course not, it’s a bubble.”
Central banks around the world are printing more dollars, euros, pounds and yen. Gold may simply be a less awful currency than all the others. Banks can’t print any more of it, so its price should probably rise while other currencies fall.
For this year, the question in India seems to be, “Will gold cross Rs.25000, by 2011 Diwali?”
- Gold Coins Show Bull Market Unbowed in Commodities Decline (businessweek.com)
- Soros Sells Most of Gold ETP Holdings During First Quarter (businessweek.com)
- A closer look at George Soros’ big quarter of selling gold (financialpost.com)
- Why is George Soros selling gold, but John Paulson not? (theglobeandmail.com)
- China Is Now Top Gold Bug (online.wsj.com)
- Gold Investment Demand in China (lonerangersilver.wordpress.com)
- Chinese set new standard in buying gold (ft.com)
- Gold grand prix – The Chinese challenge (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Shanghai Planning Gold Exchange-Traded Funds as Demand Jumps (businessweek.com)
- Oil, gold back in demand (news.theage.com.au)
EU trade policy has long been hijacked by European business, which wants raw materials at cheap prices. EU priorities are a mirror image of positions adopted by corporate lobby groups. The commission frankly states: “We will rely on EU business to provide much of the information on the barriers which affect their trade or investment with third countries.”
There is a serious risk that Europe’s budget and unemployment crisis will put policymakers even more in hock to the demands of big business.
Opposition from Africa
It is hardly surprising that European policy faces mounting opposition from most African countries, which have long opposed signing investment agreements with the EU. The Raw Materials Initiative should be opposed by Europe’s citizens, too, because it distracts from the need to reduce their own consumption. Europeans already consume four times as much as the average African. (read more via The Hindu : Opinion / Op-Ed : The European Union’s ugly resource grab).
Idea of ‘exploiting’ resources on the cheap
To take away rights from people ‘who do not know the value’ of such resources (Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, Africans) and transfer property rights to the ‘discoverer’ of these resources is an old idea which strangely finds legitimacy, even after 400 years of bad experience. Ranging from Spain to Belgium, with the Dutch and the English, all joined in this ‘resource’ grab. And this saga continues.
Bankruptcy of ideology – ism, cracy and archy
In some case, modern nation-States based on various ‘isms’ (Capitalism, Communism, Socialism) combine with various ‘archy’ (monarchy, oligarchy) and ‘cracy’ (democracy, plutocracy, bureaucracy) continue to ensure that power and wealth remains in the hands of very few. The Rest of Us have to be happy with illusion of being equal, of having power over leaders, etc. And no.
This power does NOT flow from the barrel of the gun – but from limiting access to ज़र, zar (gold), जन jan (people) and ज़मीन jameen (land). Instead of various ‘isms’, ‘archies’ and ‘cracies’, what the world needs is a system that will guarantee the four essential freedoms – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh (liberty) and धर्मं dharma (justice)
- Corporo-cracy? No… (ask.metafilter.com)
- 2010: Church begins mobilisation (vanguardngr.com)
- Europe and Africa: a partnership of equals? | Claire Provost and Aaron Akinyemi (guardian.co.uk)
- Africa, EU on summit collision course over economic deals – AFP (news.google.com)
- Africa lashes Europe on trade at summit eve (calgaryherald.com)
- Q+A: Troubled trade ties between EU and Africa (reuters.com)
- Biofuels will up Euro greenhouse emissions (newscientist.com)
- Africa, EU reach out for economic tie-up in troubled times – AFP (news.google.com)
The dollar and euro need to be devalued by 25%-50% which means yuan must appreciate another 20%-35% from it record high (update on 26th August, 2011)
Can Europe be far behind
Doing business with bankrupt customers
- Empty building blocks combined with inflated real-estate prices
- Bloated banks loan ledgers with ballooning bad debts
- Low entrepreneurial levels with foreign ownership of Chinese businesses
- Aging population with a dominant public sector
- Increasing foreign exchange reserves of depreciating currencies
As for the Rest of the world
- ‘Black Death’ of eurozone crisis will hit exports – China (telegraph.co.uk)
- Any euro zone solution requires pain: Stiglitz (theglobeandmail.com)
- German Leaders Reiterate Opposition to Euro Bonds (nytimes.com)
The U.S. Treasury and financial regulators are clashing with each other over how to disclose results from the stress tests of 19 U.S. banks, with some officials concerned at potential damage to weaker institutions. (via Bank Regulators Clash Over U.S. Stress-Tests Endgame (Update1) – Bloomberg.com).
What are banking insiders saying?
Banking insiders think that all these banks are practically insolvent. How does Obama and his cohorts deal with? Mega mergers? More cash infusions. Or will the US banking also finally end up with the Big 3?
Public sector or oblivion
During the Great Depression, more than 19 auto companies (similar to the number of banks today) were folded into the Big 3. The Big 3 lived to fight for another 70 years. In their death throes, the US Big Auto is likely to go the way European auto sector has gone – public sector or oblivion.
Saddam lives (through his words)
The way it looks, it will mean the Mother Of All Mergers. At which point, there is no team of accountants in the world who can figure out what is where, or what condition what is in? And then the evasions, the lies the obfuscation can continue for some more decades?
Real low … real truth (seen an oxymoron like that?)
The real question – who will pay for it?
Not the Americans! No siree. Definitely not.
Neither the American super-rich or the American welfare-poor? Not the American tax payers or the American tax evaders? Not the American Whites or the American Blacks?
It is the Chinese, the Russians, Indians, Brazilians and above all the Africans will pay for this! They have done, what bankers call non-recourse lending! The Chinese, Russians, Indians, Brazilians and the Africans, have no recourse. Who will the Chinese go to, for redeeming their US$2 trillion?
The bankrupt US of A? Welcome to the real world.
- U.S. Regulators Issue Stress-Test Guidelines for Smaller Banks (businessweek.com)
- Dollar falls against euro after stress tests (seattlepi.com)
- CIBC: What’s the American Century endgame? (theglobeandmail.com)
- Euro Bank Stress Test Results Due Soon (UK Banks Pass: Sky News) (blogs.wsj.com)
- Europe Bank Stress Tests Compromised by Greek Non-Default (businessweek.com)
- UK banks set to clash with EU over tough new capital rules (telegraph.co.uk)
- Here Are The Banks That Failed Today’s Stress Tests (businessinsider.com)
- Dollar falls against euro after stress tests (sfgate.com)
- Why India Should Stop Fearing Wal-Mart (globalspin.blogs.time.com)
- EU to use drones for policing farmers (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Protest over EU-India free trade deal – The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)
- Meet The Remaining Heirs Of The Legendary Rothschild Dynasty (businessinsider.com)