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Archive for June, 2010

British Petroleum is 15% of total dividends paid out in Britain

June 14, 2010 3 comments

 

The environmental catastrophe is making people ill! (Cartoon Date-May 7, 2010, Cartoonist-Marshall Ramsey; courtesy-clarionledger.com.). Click for larger image.

The environmental catastrophe is making people ill! (Cartoon Date-May 7, 2010, Cartoonist-Marshall Ramsey; courtesy-clarionledger.com.). Click for larger image.

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).

The environmental catastrophe is making people ill!  |  Cartoonist Matt Davies of New York Journal News, in 2010.

The environmental catastrophe is making people ill! | Cartoonist Matt Davies of New York Journal News, in 2010.

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.

A BP that does not care seems like it cannot be touched! (Cartoon date- June 10, 2010; Cartoonist-Marshall Ramsey; courtesy-clarionledger.com.).

A BP that does not care seems like it cannot be touched! (Cartoon date- June 10, 2010; Cartoonist-Marshall Ramsey; courtesy-clarionledger.com.).

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.

 

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Western right wing ideologues target China

June 9, 2010 6 comments

Anti-China sounds from USA take-on religious overtones. Christian crusades against devil-worshiping pagans of East?

Two party rule - Better than one-party rule? (Cartoon courtesy - polyp.org.uk).

Two party rule – Better than one-party rule? (Cartoon courtesy – polyp.org.uk).

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. (via China: Hugh Hendry warns investors’ infatution (sic) is misguided – Telegraph).

The busting of China

Hugh Hendry is not alone in portraying an economy issue to a theocratic issue.

Jim Chanos, an investment house  head, has been giving stick to China and its economy. He portrayed China as the of ‘Treadmill to Hell’, on the famous US radio show – the Charlie Rose show.

The Charlie Rose show is reputedly a voice of the conservative, Christian, Right-Wing establishment. Charlie Rose is himself supposedly a part of the Council On Foreign Relations, a right-wing, conservative, Christian-Democrat organization.

It was recently reported that the CFR is “expanding its Washington office to a $60 million building on F Street.”

Establishment rules

The importance of this group was well demonstrated when

Mr. Ahmadinejad, the man who has become the defiant face of Iran, squared off with the nation’s (USA) foreign policy establishment, parrying questions for an hour and three-quarters with two dozen members of the Council on Foreign Relations, then ending the evening by asking whether they were simply shills for the Bush administration.

The Right Wing narrative!

The Right Wing narrative!

On China’s media, CFR says,

more than two thousand newspapers, over eight thousand magazines, and some 374 television stations in the country. China also has an estimated 380million Internet users and, despite restrictions governing online content, domestic and international stories that censors would prefer to control continue to slip through government information firewalls (Atlantic). Only state agencies can own media in China, but there is creeping privatization as outlets subcontract administrative operations to the private sector.

But what CFR does not talk about is about how in the US of A,

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting … a private nonprofit agency created and funded by Congress. This year it distributed $387 million in federal dollars to PBS, NPR, hundreds of public radio and TV stations around the nation, and some individual programs.

Right-wing ideologues

For instance, CFR’s (ex-?)President and a top ideologue is one of the

Few Americans (who) know(s) the inner world of American foreign policy — its feuds, follies and fashions — as well as Leslie H. Gelb. He served Lyndon B. Johnson in the Pentagon and Jimmy Carter in the State Department. He was a foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times and president of the Council on Foreign Relations. (text in parenthesis supplied).

The CFR approach suggests that

America should be unafraid to exercise power, but it must be mindful that power’s reach usually exceeds its grasp. According to Mr. Gelb liberal Democrats should stop apologizing when they use American power, and conservative Republicans should stop believing that no problem can resist the application of American force. Both need to understand that power is wasted when it’s used unwisely. The chief missing ingredient in United States foreign policy, he argues, is common sense.

What to do?

Providing inputs to the media, are ‘specialists’ like Adam Segal, a senior fellow in China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, who some time back opined that

the vast majority of Chinese have been made better off by economic development, it provides a credible argument for why, even with fairly widespread social unrest, the reign of the current regime is not seriously challenged.

Leslie Gelb suggests that America should stop

trying to foster democracy in countries where you can’t drink the water. We can’t drink the water in Afghanistan, and Mr. Gelb advises that America should abandon ambitions of state or nation building there and concentrate instead on eliminating Al Qaeda.

Since China has good quality drinking water – probably CFR, Jim Chanos, Charlie Rose, Hugh Hendry are trying to foster democracy in China.

Or else!


Another nail in climate change coffin – Pacific islands growing not shrinking

Better not drink this!

Better not drink this!

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

  1. Multiple PR agencies, NGOs were used and funded by the British, Norwegian and Australian Governments
  2. To mount a global campaign of ‘epic’ proportions
  3. To stampede the world into a regime of faceless and unaccountable bureaucrats –
  4. 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

Is China talking down its economy?

June 6, 2010 1 comment

Blind spots

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.

The US recruited Europe, Japan, Asian Tigers - and now China in this manner for the last 60 years.

The US recruited Europe, Japan, Asian Tigers - and now China in this manner for the last 60 years.

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.

For the first time ever, China is talking down their economy! (© Copyright 2010  Dave Granlund - All Rights Reserved).

For the first time ever, China is talking down their economy! (© Copyright 2010 Dave Granlund - All Rights Reserved).

“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).

Euro-slide Effect

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!

Graph courtesy - The New York Times

Graph courtesy - The New York Times

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.

This may no longer be an issue!

This may no longer be an issue!

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?

Andy Xie, an ex-Morgan Stanley /World Bank expert on China, earned his spurs, with closer to reality, secular reports on bust-and-doom scenarios in China.

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 …

Different!

Some other China posts by 2ndlook

Canadian economy shows the way …

June 4, 2010 3 comments

 

Canada has done a good job, in concentrating their problems in one mortgage institution – public sector behemoth, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, (CMHC).

Whu runs Canada - USA, Britain or Canadians?

Whu runs Canada – USA, Britain or Canadians?

Canada leads …

In obfuscation, cover-up  and propaganda.

Canada has done a good job. In concentrating their problems in one mortgage institution – public sector behemoth, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, (CMHC).

Then funding the CMHC with public monies, and postponing the crises to another day, may be in another form.

Strangely, there has been much talk that the Canadian economy is in better shape – especially compared to the US and Britain. This is surprising, going by the way the Anglo-Saxon bloc members mimic each other.

The only and real reason why Canada can still manage despite all its debt and mortgage problems is oil. With huge proven reserves of oil, and a small population, Canada can simply sell oil to work its way out of recession.

The Canadian problem

Europe has taken away attention from some other problem economies. The most prominent of those is the Canadian economy – actually,

“according to the IMF, actually the third worst of the G7 countries, behind the US and Britain, in terms of financial stabilization costs.(Canada spent some) $75 billion to buy up iffy mortgages from the big five banks, through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, taking them off the banks’ balance sheets … equivalent the US bailout – it spent ten times as much, $700 billion, and its economy is about 10 times as large. Harper government established a fund of $200 billion to backstop the banks … called the Emergency Financing Framework … the government now insures 100% of virtually all mortgages through CMHC eliminating risk for the banks …

“These measures are considered ‘non-budgetary’ or ‘off book.’ They do not show up as expenditures, which increase the federal deficit and debt. Rather, they appear on the books of CMHC and the Bank of Canada. But they have increased the government’s borrowing from $13.6 billion in 2007-08 to $89.5 billion in 2008-09, or double the fiscal deficit now projected for 2009.”

Premature celebrations? Lull before the storm?

Premature celebrations? Lull before the storm?

Similar views have been echoed by others too! The Financial Post goes to uncover that,

In Toronto, 44% of disposable income goes to housing and in Vancouver the figure is a whopping 68%. The trend is likely not sustainable.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the crown-owned business that owns a large proportion of Canadian mortgages, has seen the value of mortgages it holds on it’s books (appropriately called ‘liabilities’) rise from $80-billion to $400-billion over the last five years. Jackson rightly notes, “any time you see a business increase its liabilities by that amount, it’s intriguing.” Some say intriguing, others say worrying.

Canada’s GDP last year was US$1.5 trillion.

Just one business entity, CMHC has debts equalling 25% of Canada’s GDP. Canadian household debt is “an all-time high of $1.41 trillion.” Gross Household debt equal to GDP is one, very scary situation. After a round of crises in EU, action could shift to Canada.

Welcome to the Great Recession!


 

I bet you say this to all the boys!

Can we foret that behind Pakistan is the US?

Can we forget that behind Pakistan is the US?

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).

What did you think I meant? Dirty, one track mind ...

What did you think I meant? Dirty, one track mind ...

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!

Haridwar ‘pandas’ resist ‘progress’ and ‘modernization’

Family pandits cater to Indians of all hues

Family pandits cater to Indians of all hues

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’?

Alexander's armies would not have used Latin alphabets! (The Battle Of Ipsus /Alexander; a 1529 painting by Albrecht Altdorfer, German painter, now at the Alte Pinakothek).

Alexander's armies would not have used Latin alphabets! (The Battle Of Ipsus /Alexander; a 1529 painting by Albrecht Altdorfer, German painter, now at the Alte Pinakothek, Munich). Click for larger image.

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

As their hold on India grew, the British kept their history lessons in mind. To neuter the Brahman threat, they unleashed an effective propaganda ploy – the invention of the caste system.

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.

A 1910 file photo of the grand triad of Indian revolutionaries: Lala Lajpat Rai (left), Lokmanya Bal Ganghadar Tilak (centre) and Bipin Chandra Pal. The trio was also known as Lal, Bal, Pal.

A 1910 photo of the grand triad of Indian revolutionaries: Lala Lajpat Rai (left), Lokmanya Bal Ganghadar Tilak (centre) and Bipin Chandra Pal. The trio was also known as Lal, Bal, Pal.

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.

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