Environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben of 350.org voiced his disapproval. (and) summarized what Obama accomplished:
He formed a league of super-polluters, and would-be super-polluters. China, the U.S., and India don’t want anyone controlling their use of coal in any meaningful way.
On Aug 14, 2009, a Quicktake post wondered if this entire climate change and global warming had something to do with coal-fired power plants.
Bill McKibben’s peeve does prove that this is indeed the case.
Now, coal is the cheapest way to generate electricity. Looking at the shortfall in electricity, and Indian consumers’ ability to pay, coal is the answer.
To low costs, add the fact that India has coal reserves that will last for the next 100 years – at least. But, coal-generated electricity, will also makes India industrially competitive.
And we don’t want that, do we? Right, Billy Boy!
Inside Indian bedrooms
60years ago, an assault was made by foreign ‘observers’ into Indian bedrooms. Foreign ‘observers’
- Tied ‘development aid’ to India’s population control.
- Trained Indian ‘health workers’ to control India’s human reproductive behaviour.
- Paid for by Western Governments, soon after that, we had ‘health workers’ fanning out across the Indian country-side, conducting vasectomies /tubectomies on India’s (especially poor) population.
It did not matter then, who the ‘observers’ were – foreign or Indian. Neither does it matter now. What matters is someone’s monitoring. And I don’t like that at all.
Even if the monitors have brown skins (my liking for brown skin notwithstanding). Even if it comes with a recommendation from Nobel prize winner, Amartya Sen. How Indian power producers generate electricity is our business.
Getting a handle on the Indian economy is the second and related part of the agenda.
An agenda, I don’t like.
All that nice, fresh, white newsprint …
Just the amount of newsprint that has been devoted to climate change and global warming must have raised temperatures (going by the ‘warmers’ calculations and estimates) enough to make this debate of questionable value. To that add, the amount of gimmickry and media overdrive (through slick PR) that raises many doubts and questions.
Hush, boy! Do not even mention ‘scientific manipulation’.
Just look at the record.
The most prominent and vocal votary of Climate Change was Al Gore – who was promptly awarded the Nobel Prize. The recruitment of Maldives and the positioning of President Mohammed Nasheed was again a very slick operation. The underwater Maldives cabinet meeting had a interesting story.
Maldivian officials said the idea to hold the attention-grabbing underwater cabinet meeting came from President Mohamed Nasheed when he was asked by an activist group to support its “environmental day” action on October 24.
“The 350.org group asked if the Maldives can hold an underwater banner supporting environmental day,” an official from the president’s office said.
“The president thought for a while and then came up with the idea to have an underwater cabinet meeting.” (via Maldives cabinet rehearses underwater meeting).
Propping up Maldives as ‘fifth’ column was done over the last more than 20 years. Based on excellent PR and media management skills, the Maldives was the trojan horse loosed on the G77+Basic grouping.
350.org is rather well armed on the PR front – with a specific agency for South Asia itself. The PR agency for the Maldives Travel and Tourism Authority McCluskey International does seem to either bask in reflected glory – or is hinting at the authorship of this stunt. The Maldives climate change campaign seems to be headquarted in Britain also.
Been there and done that
The hallmark of the Maldives’ climate change campaign has been it slick PR. Dramatic statements, intriguing sound bites, the Maldives’ campaign was beyond the common bureaucratic ‘creature’ – much less a Maldives’ bureaucrat. This is consistent and in line with Al Gore’s media and public relations management – which won the PR agency, the campaign of the year award. And Al Gore the Nobel Prize.
All this is much like, how from the early 1950’s to the late eighties, the Western world created hysteria regarding ‘population explosion’ in India and China. Enormous pressures were brought onto the Chinese and Indian Governments to ‘control’ their populations.
Same game, different name! Doesn’t wash. Just like last time.
- Climate change – How India is falling for propaganda
- Climate Change at Copenhagen – Britain mounts a Trojan operation
- 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
RBI’s decision to shore up its gold reserves needs to be seen in the context of other central banks across the globe increasing their gold reserves. Among them are the central banks of China, Russia and a few countries in the European Union.
In the last one year, China has increased its gold holdings, by weight, by 75.69%, Russia by 18.78%, the Philippines by 18.50% and Mexico by 108.91%.
Compared with this, India’s central bank did not add anything to its gold reserves in the last one year, according to Bloomberg data. (via RBI to buy 200 tonnes of IMF gold – Home – livemint.com).
Two years ago …
its (gold) reserves by 454 tons to 1,054 tons through domestic purchases and refining scrap metal, Hu Xiaolian, head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency today. China, the world’s biggest gold producer, has increased its holdings before, Hu said in the interview carried on the administration Web Site. They rose from 394 tons to 500 tons in 2001 and to 600 tons in 2003. The U.S. has the world’s biggest gold holdings at 8,134 tons, followed by Germany with 3,413 tons, World Gold Council data show. France has 2,487 tons and Italy 2,452 tons, while the IMF has 3,217 tons, according to the council.
Another report, from Market Watch, a WSJ web publication added,
The increase makes China the world’s fifth-largest holder of gold, just ahead of Switzerland, and among the six nations plus the International Monetary Fund that have reserves of more than 1,000 metric tons. Although Hu did not elaborate on where China had sourced the additional bullion, her comments were interpreted as meaning they came from domestic sources and may included refining of scrap metal. Traders also say the gold was accumulated systematically over a number of years. Last year China ranked as the world’s largest gold producer with 12.2% of world output, equivalent to 288 metric tons. The U.S. ranked second with a 9.9% share, or 234 metric tons.
What are the future plans of the Chinese? A report quotes an analyst
China should increase its gold reserve from 600 tons to about 2,500 tons in a short term and to 3,000 tons in a long term to cope with the versatile exchange rate risks, said Teng Tai, an economist of China Galaxy Securities Company.
This really does not mean much – except that it may keep gold prices on boil. Whether a currency is backed by 5% or a 10% gold reserve makes no material difference, especially in this era of rampant use of (not just by the US of A) “a technology, called a printing press” as an economic tool. For long term economic stability, gold needs to be in the hands of individuals – and not Governments.
Since China is a significant gold producer by itself, it may not get a shot at buying IMF gold. India has negligible domestic gold production -and was possibly therefore given preference by the IMF. Of course, preference may have been given to RBI’s purchase, given its ‘responsible’ and ‘mature’ behaviour during the current Great Recession.
What does RBI’s gold purchase mean
RBI’s gold purchase means two things.
The Indian Government which has had a rather low percentage of gold holdings as their currency reserves will now bolster these reserves. Even after this purchase, Indian official reserves, will only be the ninth largest in the world in absolute terms.
On average, countries hold about 12.6% of their reserves in gold, up from 9.9% a year ago. Some of this represents an increase in gold holdings, but another driver of the increased proportion is the rise in the value of gold. (from India propels gold to new high.)
The overhanging threat of open market sales by the IMF, speculated by many and discounted by 2ndlook, now stands neutralized. This will be a kicker to gold prices in the short term.
The ideal thing …
Sell gold to individuals. Governments should not have such large holdings of gold. Gold in the hands of Governments is the prime cause of war. Gold holding should be widely dispersed, as widely as possible, amongst individuals – like the Indian gold possession model. No national government, in the new financial architecture should be allowed to have more than 250 tons of gold – to progressively reduce to 50 tons.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Tuesday there was substantial support among the Group of 20 nations for creating a new framework to tackle global economic imbalances … Analysts said the United States’ drive to agree a roadmap for a more balanced global economy could meet resistance from China which is unlikely to agree reforms that would threaten its growth … A document outlining the US position ahead of the September 24-25 summit said big exporters, which include China, Germany and Japan, should consume more, while debtors like the United States ought to boost savings … The euro hit a one-year high against a sliding dollar ahead of a federal reserve meeting and the G20 talks on rebalancing, a process which is likely to require a weaker dollar.
Like Quicktake has pointed out in earlier posts, the US has alternated between an overvalued currency to gain ownership over large sections of world economy – and now with a devalued dollar, it seeks to gain an upper hand in merchandise exports. The three main points that one needs to understand are: -
One – It reduces the real value of US debt. The Chinese, the Rest of BRICS and the Others need to be paid a lot less in the future. (as pointed out earlier in various posts linked here.) Two – It makes US exports artificially competitive. (as pointed out earlier in linked posts). Three – The US competitiveness will be anchored to assets purchased with over-valued dollars.
What the US is proposing is that the Chinese Yuan must become ‘stronger’ – and the dollar must become weaker. This will mean a real reduction in US debt – and a subsidy for US exports. Of course, a devaluation has never helped any regime in the long run – but in the short run it reduces imports and increases exports. But is a ‘fix’ that the patient begins to row dependant on!
Is that the US is wanting to do to itself?
Citing a congressional study released on Friday, the Times said the United States was involved in 68.4 percent of the global sales of arms.
U.S. weapons sales jumped nearly 50 percent in 2008 despite the global economic recession to $37.8 billion from $25.4 billion the year before.
The jump defied worldwide trends as global arms sales fell 7.6 percent to $55.2 billion in 2008, the report said. Global weapons agreements were at their lowest level since 2005. (via U.S. Leads World In Foreign Weapons Sales – Report – NYTimes.com).
US in the Post WW2 world
In South East Asia from 1950-1975, Israel from the 1960 onwards and now in Iraq, Afghanistan, the US has been the in the middle of most expensive conflicts (measured in terms of lives lost) in post WW2 world.
This model of international relations is something that needs to change. The poor in this world has not become much safer, seen more democratic or significantly more richer. What justification does this policy have – apart from “I have muscles and can you stop me from flexing them” logic?
Gold – a non-military solution
As I see it, there are two simple solutions. One – everyone who disagrees with (or even if you are worried about the economic consequences of) the US foreign policy should go out and buy gold. This will surely trigger a collapse of the US dollar. Just a 100,000 people buying a 100gm of of gold in the next 1 year will trigger the dollar collapse.
Drill for oil
The second solution will need more time and will need co-operation foron the BRIC Governments. The BRIC Governments must go out and drill oil wells all over the developing world. The collapse in oil prices will remove the petro-dollar funding of the US and simultaneously eliminate /reduce the trade deficit of the developing world.
As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office this month, he has avoided the fawning praise of India that has become fashionable in some Washington circles. But experts on the region say that India-US ties now have a momentum of their own. Industries in each country now have a vested interest in deepening ties with their counterparts.
“In 20 years, I expect the Indo-US relationship to resemble the Israel-US relationship, and for many of the same reasons,” said Shashi Tharoor, an Indian writer and former undersecretary general of the United Nations. (via Will the love-fest stoked by Singh, Bush bear fruit? – Economy and Politics – livemint.com).
Why is the Israeli model a bad idea
The first disqualification against accepting the Israeli State model is the fact it is heavily dependent on America, for fiscal and military aid – which “since 1974 totals roughly $80 billion”.
Do I sense envy when an article from Daily Times Of Pakistan says “The United States has poured $140 billion into Israel since its formation”. That is about a US$56,000 for every Israeli family.
Is this what you learnt at the UN Tharoor Saar …
First, did it ever occur to Tharoor Saar to check where is the guarantee that the US will be in a any position to underwrite India’s long term requirements?
After satisfying himself, did Tharoor Saar ever ask, “Why would the US underwrite India?” In case of Israel, the US had good reasons. After all, (as NYT says)
America has vital long-term strategic interests in the Middle East. The gulf has well over 60 percent of the world’s proven conventional oil reserves and nearly 40 percent of its natural gas.
To some it may look like a boon, but is surely the kiss of death.
American policymakers began regarding Israeli strength as an American asset in the Cold War, they supported significant aid as a matter of strategy, not charity. … American aid continues to flow to Israel. … critics on the opposite end of the political spectrum argue that while aid to Israel may be tied to the best of intentions, it does more harm than good to the Jewish State by propping up a big and inefficient government and making Israel dependent upon the U.S.
For how long can any country, society, individual survive on foreign largesse? Note how during the 1973, Arab Israeli War, the tide of battle finally turned when the massive US airlift of weapons, tanks, spares happened! Which itself, is self-serving – “American assistance, emerging as a disjointed policy that urges a peaceful resolution to the conflict while boosting military aid to Israel.”
Another client state of US, Pakistan enviously records, that
“Israel is the only country that receives all of its U.S. aid in a single package, while others only receive it in quarterly installments.” It continues, “Most recipients of military aid are obliged to spend it in the US but Israel is permitted to spend 25 percent of what it receives to subsidize its own defence industry,”…
Doubtful motives, suspect intentions
Three aspects of the Israeli behaviour makes Israeli intentions doubtful.
One - Israel surely knows that US support cannot continue ad infinitum. What will be the Israeli response after they stop getting US support?
Two - After consistent and constant efforts to make enemies, over the last 50 years, how does Israel plan to continue living in a hostile neighbourhood – without American aid?
Three - With a population of little over 50 lakhs (5 million) in Israel and a world Jewish population of less than 1.3 crores (13 million), how does the Jewish population stop itself from going extinct?
Is there a pattern …
Tharoor Saar’s statement needs to be read in light of two other incidents. For starters, read Manmohan Singh’s speech at Oxford, praising the Raj, while receiving his honorary doctrate. Continue with Chidambaram’s decision to end “abject poverty” in India that he seems to “have known for 5,000 years.” And now add Tharoor Saar’s stated objective to make India into a US-client state in another 20 years. Are these three incidents stray and unrelated? Do they form a pattern?
Any which, Tharoor Saar’s thinking is a cause for concern.
The Obama administration is increasingly signalling that the US will not continue to be the world’s consumer and importer of last resort. The clearest statements came last month from Larry Summers, White House economics director, in a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and in an interview with the Financial Times. The US, he said, must become an export-oriented rather than a consumption-based economy and must rely on real engineering rather than financial wizardry.
This long-run vision for US growth entails greater exports and probably a smaller current account deficit than where it is now (about 3 per cent of gross domestic product). Although Mr Summers did not and could not say so, the vision will require an end to the remaining overvaluation of the dollar.
Put starkly, Mr Summers has stated that China can no longer behave like China because the US intends to behave much more like China. The world economy cannot have two, or even one-and-a-half, Chinese growth strategies from its two most important economies. Which will prevail? (via Fred Bergsten & Arvind Subramanian: Resolving global imbalances).
In the last 50 years, the US dollar has swung from being grossly overvalued to slightly overvalued. The inertia of the Bretton Woods system has kept this overvaluation going. How has this benefitted the US?
It has allowed the US to use its overvalued (and over-printed) currency to buy vast tracts of the world economy. And now having captured these segments of the world economy (especially raw material sources), with an over-valued currency, it will achieve two objectives.
The US is in no position to pay off its nearly US$4 trillion, it owes the Rest of the World – equal to about 1 years GDP (my estimate, in PPP terms). This kind of dollar devaluation does three things at one stroke.
One – It reduces the real value of its debt. The Chinese, the Rest of BRICS and the Others need to be paid a lot less in the future. (as pointed out earlier in various posts linked here.) Two – It makes US exports artificially competitive. (as pointed out earlier in linked posts). Three – The US competitiveness will be anchored to assets purchased with over-valued dollars.
Readers can take courage from the fact that each such ‘process’ gives the US lesser returns and fewer options. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. Or in plain language ‘crying wolf’ often never paid off.
But the smart answer is to go out and buy one kilogram of gold. If each reader of Quicktake and 2ndlook blogs were to do this, the world would become a safer and fairer world in the next 10-20 years.
The intimation of G8′s impending demise came from the host of the summit, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. “We saw that G8 is no longer a suitable format to show a global economic way of doing. Instead, a consolidated G14 representing 80% of the world economy could help create a real dialogue. We want to see if the G14 is the best solution for debates which will bring to us unique results.”
Berlusconi was merely echoing the creeping realisation among the G8 countries that the steady decline of the developed nations, coupled with the rapid rise of developing countries like India and China, had rendered the rich club irrelevant. (via G8 is dead, long live G14 – Europe – World – NEWS – The Times of India).
On 5th November 2008, Raghuram Raman was appointed as by the GOI as advisor to the Indian PM – to advise the Indian PM about the forth coming G-20 meetings. As ex-IMF man, if he is the ‘expert’ that he is touted as, by this time Raghuram Rajan should know that the IMF and World Bank are international only in name. They are Western Clubs – meant for the benefit of the West.
All G20 members were ‘invited’ to join another Western Club – the FSF. The Financial Stability Forum, another club, with the same G7 members. Just why does India join these rubber stamp bodies – and lend sanctity to the exploitative agenda of the sponsors. Does the world need another body, with the same Central Bank members, addressing the same monetary issues problems, with the same agenda?
G7 and OECD countries have created a club for themselves, by giving each other unlimited line of credit – while the developing world gets credit based on fast-depreciating dollar/euro foreign exchange reserves. Maybe this needs an inversion. The OECD and G7 should be asked to pay their purchases. In a new global reserve currency. And the BRICS need to start working on that.
Many of the regulatory bodies are actually a US-Euro Clubs – to fool the world, with token actions and steps to demonstrate inclusion and fairness of the developing world.
My feeling …
The BRIC leaders know well enough that the West will not let go of the IMF and the UN. The charade of UN /IMF /World Bank Reform is possibly required – and they are going through it.
Between ASEAN and IBSA, India needs to take Third World groupings from talk-fests to action-teams. Western clubs like UN, IMF, World Bank, G-7, P-5, etc are all heavily weighted against ‘outsiders’ like developing nations.
Join the gang
Thanks for the offer, but no thanks. And I will tell you why!
Trying to clean these Augean sales is a waste. India should engage with the BRICS countries – and focus on creating another institution without the West to start with.
Safe, Steady and Sure
We can keep banging our head against these Western altars, for another 60 years. It won’t work. We need to move – not necessarily fast, but surely and steadily. The Developing World (and India) can continue to knock at the doors of these Western clubs – and yet why would the West dilute their power and influence? And allow the Rest to take advantage of structures that the West has created for its own benefit?
What is on the table
France, Germany Canada and Australia (not in G7) and Italy are tethering on the brink – under the weight of their social security system, and most of their business in the public sector. A geriatric Japan is dependent almost entirely on these declining seven. Japan’s investment in India and China has been negligible.
What Do We Bring To The Table
India, China and South Africa on the other hand, bring growing economies, young populations, lower welfare state burdens, expanding industrial base – and above all, a record of non-aggressive history.
These dubious clubs depend on victims to approve and finance their own slaughter – and these memberships don’t appeal to India.
G7, you are welcome to join us at our terms. We dont want to be a part of your ‘blood soaked history.’
The map is the culmination of an assessment carried out by the US Geological Survey (USGS). Writing in the journal Science, its authors say the findings are “important to the interests of Arctic countries”. But, they add, they are unlikely to substantially shift the geographic pattern of world oil production. (via BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | The Arctic’s oil reserves mapped).
What may save US yet? Not the usual suspects.
US auto is down – but not yet out. It will limp along for few more decades.
Boeing will face fresh competition from BRICS – Brazil’s Embraer, Russia’s (Ilyushin) and the Chinese (passenger jet programme). US electronics is stagnant – and fading power.
The US is still the prime force in the computing industry – though not on the manufacturing side. Chinese manufacturing is the dominant force in computer manufacturing.
US oil industry no longer dominates international markets the way they did in mid-20th century. The US Nuclear industry faces increasing competition from a public sector French and Russian industry – and India is planning to add its ‘frugal engineering’ muscle to this segment.
Higher education may save the day
What will sustain the competitiveness of the US industry – with out the dollar hegemony? The US education system is still significantly productive (measured in terms of patents, Nobel prizes, innovation, output, research papers, etc.). The US higher education system is notoriously hobbled by a weak school education system. How long will that advantage last – without an infusion of foreign talent?
The US entertainment industry remains the biggest in the West – and by many measures in the world also. Partially controlled by the Japanese, it however remains significantly competitive and dominating.
Agriculture is more fragile than estimated …
The seemingly strong position of the US in agriculture is based on two aspects. Massive direct subsidies – of more than 8 billion dollars. And indirect subsidies of possibly another US$ 8 billion. Most of which goes to the 46000 farmers who account for 50% of the US agricultural production.
The communication sector has seen an erosion in US competitiveness. The domination of GSM technology is seemingly solid for another 10-15 years – a technology, in which the US is weak player. The long-term direction for that industry anyways seems like IP-protocol systems. This may well result in commoditization of network equipment and terminal – and the increased importance of content. Low and medium switching technology may see greater commoditization with the eclipse of Cisco by the Chinese switch companies.
Green is still in the red …
Environment engineering provides no major advantage to the US. Solar panels, wind energy equipment, hydrogen technology have all seen greater diffusion of leadership and market share. It may not give greater opportunity to the USA.
Finance and banking
Global financial markets were dominated by the US organizations in the past – but with the global financial crisis and the end to dollar dominance may see reduced clout for US firms. Their position will become broadly similar to current position of Swiss banks – mildly competitive, solid history, fading reputation.
With such an outlook over the next 10-25 years, what the US leadership may focus on is Arctic oil. Oil will remain a strategic asset only with high prices (slower production increase and faster demand growth) and if no other energy source appears. Oil finds in the Atlantic and Pacific republics may spoil the party – for instance, Cuban oil.
Much like the respite of the North Sea oil to Britain, Arctic oil may provide a temporary halt to the slide in US economic dominance.
If the US can lay its hands on a significant part of it!