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Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

Problem With Europe

June 9, 2012 1 comment

US think tanks and experts are making the worst assessments of Europe and the Euro. Can they be believed?

Can the attempted Euro-dollar duopoly work?  |  Cartoonist R.J. Matson of Roll Call; source & courtesy - Politicalcartoons.com / msnbc.msn.com  |  Click for image.

Can the attempted Euro-dollar duopoly work? | Cartoonist R.J. Matson of Roll Call; source & courtesy – Politicalcartoons.com / msnbc.msn.com | Click for image.

In the last five hundred years, Europeans have fought with each other and the rest of the world. Over slaves, gold, coffee and sugar, religion and territory, seas and rivers.

In short, everything.

The European Union is a classic example of an organization built around a “win-win” economic logic. The idea of the EU’s founding fathers was that economic cooperation and shared prosperity would create a positive political dynamic. And for 50 years it worked beautifully. But that win-win logic has gone into reverse. Instead of feeling stronger together, EU countries increasingly worry they are pulling each other down. The result is a surge in political tensions inside Europe and, in particular, an outbreak of anti-German sentiment.

This has global implications; for one, America’s pivot to Asia is posited on the idea that Europe will no longer require attention — a premise I somehow doubt. (via The Rise or Fall of the American Empire – By Robert Kagan, Gideon Rachman, and Daniel W. Drezner | Foreign Policy).

Gideon Rachman, the author of the extract above, has made a career by being paranoid about the future of the West. He sees an enemy of the West under every bed. Fact is the West is its own worst enemy.

Looking at the crisis in EU and the USA, could Gideon Rachman be right.

Just this time around?


Leadership – A Global Crisis?

November 20, 2011 4 comments

In the post-globalized world, political ideology, lack of leadership, economic crisis are all global problems – respecting no boundaries or territories.

Liberty will do ... as long as my Welfare State and my bailout is safe!   |  Cartoon Michael Ramirez; on 8th April, 2009; Source and courtesy - investors.com)  |  Click for larger image.

Liberty will do ... as long as my Welfare State and my bailout is safe! | Cartoon Michael Ramirez; on 8th April, 2009; Source and courtesy - investors.com | Click for larger image.

Thin Indian State

Over the last few years, 2ndlook research has shown that the Indian State is comparatively smaller and less widespread, compared to its more ‘developed’ counterparts in the world.

Unlike popular perception, the Developed World is shackled by a huge bureaucracy and an enormous compliance burden. This burden of legal compliance has made business impossible – except for mega corporations, which can invest in structures, systems and specialist for managing compliance.

Fat & ‘Developed’ World

Anecdotal confirmation of this data-based conclusion came this week. In a post by the nytimes.com columnist – Thomas Friedman.

Driving to the Indian town of Jodhpur last week, our Indian guide stopped to point out a modern landmark. “Do you see that stoplight?” he asked, pointing to a standard green-yellow-red stoplight in the busy intersection. “It’s the only stoplight in Jodhpur. There are 1.2 million people living here.”

The more you travel around India, the more you notice just how lightly the hand of government rests on this country. Somehow, it all sort of works. The traffic does move.

India needs to prove that its democracy can make and implement big decisions with the same focus, authority and stick-to-itiveness as China’s autocracy. No leaders want to take hard decisions anymore, except when forced to. Everyone — even China’s leaders — seems more afraid of their own people than ever.

One wonders whether the Internet, blogging, Twitter, texting and micro-blogging, as in China’s case, has made participatory democracy and autocracy so participatory, and leaders so finely attuned to every nuance of public opinion, that they find it hard to make any big decision that requires sacrifice. They have too many voices in their heads other than their own.

From India to America, democracies have never had more big decisions to make … The European Union has a particularly acute version of leaders-who-will-not-lead, which is why both Greece and Italy have now turned to unelected technocrats to run their governments.

Leaders shape polls. They don’t just read polls. And, today, across the globe and across all political systems, leaders are in dangerously short supply. (via Who’s the Decider? – NYTimes.com).

Look East … my friend

The answer to this crisis in leadership is Indic polity – भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra

A system that works on more freedom not increased governance, as the solution. On the other hand Western political constructs based on Desert Bloc political ideology have bloated State machinery to impossible sizes.

Friedman is right – and wrong

Yes.

There is a crisis of leadership. It is because we have invested to much power in the hands of polity. We have moved in a linear direction – with Desert Bloc systems that progressively need more laws, more powers that limit freedom.

No.

What we need is less political power – and more intellectual leaders. The Indic model, has the solution. One Vighneswara, sitting in a small town in Karnataka, wrote a legal text. Later, the Vighneswara’s Mitakshara became the law of the land of Bharat-ah.

For the next 700 years.


What is भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra – The classical Indian system of polity worked on ensuring

4 freedoms

– धर्म (dharma – justice)

– अर्थ (arth – wealth and means)

– काम (kaam – human desires)

– मोक्ष (moksha – liberty)

and

3 rights

– ज़र (jar – gold)

– जन (jan – human ties)

– जमीन (jameen – property)

for all.

Italian Collapse …

November 16, 2011 3 comments

English language media, controlled by the Anglo-Saxon Bloc, routinely predicts the collapse of nations.

Europe has a choice. Controlled devaluation of the Euro or a disorderly retreat. |  Cartoon By Patrick Chappatte  |  Published: November 10, 2011 |  Source & courtesy - nytimes.com  |  Click for a larger image.

Europe has a choice. Controlled devaluation of the Euro or a disorderly retreat. | Cartoon By Patrick Chappatte | Published: November 10, 2011 | Source & courtesy - nytimes.com | Click for a larger image.

For 90 years, culminating in Mussolini’s fall, Italy’s leaders were determined to create a sense of nationhood by turning Italians into conquerors and colonialists. Vast sums of money were therefore spent on expeditions to Africa, often with disastrous results; at the Battle of Adowa in 1896, in which an army was wiped out by an Ethiopian force, more Italians were killed in a single day than in all the wars of the Risorgimento put together. Although the country had no enemies in Europe and no need to fight in either of the world wars, Italy joined the fighting in both global conflicts nine months after they had begun when the government thought it had identified the winner and extracted promises of territorial rewards.

Mussolini’s miscalculation and subsequent downfall destroyed Italian militarism and at the same time punctured the idea of Italian nationhood. For 50 years after World War II, the country was dominated by the Christian Democrats and the Communists. These parties — which took their cue from the Vatican and the Kremlin, respectively — were not interested in instilling a new sense of national identity to replace the old one.

Postwar Italy was in many ways a great success. With one of the highest growth rates in the world, it became an innovator in such peaceful and productive fields as film, fashion, and industrial design. Yet the economic triumphs were uneven, and no administration was able to reduce the disparities between north and south. (via The End of Italy – By David Gilmour | Foreign Policy).

The overvaluation of the Euro is the one big reason why EU economies are suffering such a deep recession. |  Cartoon by Patrick Chappatte  spoofing Gloria Gaynor's pop-song, titled 'I will survive'.|  Published: October 31, 2011  |  Source and courtesy - nytimes.com.  |  Click for larger image.

The overvaluation of the Euro is the one big reason why EU economies are suffering such a deep recession. | Cartoon by Patrick Chappatte spoofing Gloria Gaynor's pop-song, titled 'I will survive'.| Published: October 31, 2011 | Source and courtesy - nytimes.com. | Click for larger image.

Problem with English language

English language media, dominated by the Anglo-Saxon Bloc has been anti-EU for obvious reasons.

EU is a challenge to …

Anglo-Saxon Hegemony

A stable EU dominated by Germany and France would be a significant challenge to the Anglo-Saxon Bloc.

For instance, an EU-Japan-BRICS alliance could prise apart, the dominance of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc.

Italy which was melded together in a post-Napoleonic, ‘secularized’ Europe, became a major industrial power – without the ‘benefit’ of colonies (like Spain, Britain or France) or a large home market (like USA).

Similarly, post WWII Italy, was able to manage its re-construction, even with coalition governments collapsing at metronomic intervals.

Between a resilient Italy – and predictions by a biased Anglo-Saxon media, who would you chose …


How governments drive tobacco trade

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.

Four tobacco companies and State monopolies control global tobacco trade. (Image source - http://www.tobaccoatlas.org). Click for interactive source map.

Four tobacco companies and State monopolies control global tobacco trade. (Image source - http://www.tobaccoatlas.org). Click for interactive source map.

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.

Cigarette production in major markets (Graphics by timesofindia.com.). Click for larger image.

Cigarette production in major markets (Graphics by timesofindia.com.). Click for larger image.

Chinese State Tobacco monopoly

The complicity of governments is very similar to the modern expansion in prostitution – especially in the West.

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, khuskhus 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.

Of Mice and Men – 2015 Gold Outlook

USA, EU traderelationships with oil producers. The European hands-on, micro-management issue of trade balance seems to be delivering? Some may question, what it is delivering, though.

USA, EU trade relationships with oil producers. The European hands-on, micro-management issue of trade balance seems to be delivering? Some may question, what it is delivering, though.

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.

In such a scenario, China believes that it has a winning hand. Even though, the Chinese exports juggernaut has been slowed by a yuan, trading at 17 year-highs. March 2011 reports indicate

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.

The US is betting that a weak dollar will reignite economic growth – much like what happened after the Japanese Yen strengthened due to Plaza Accord (1985).

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,

Increasingly, everyone is a victim - except the powerful 0.5% elite that rules the world. Break their power. Buy gold. (Cartoonist - Ted Rall; courtesy - http://charlesgoyette.com). Click for larger image.

Increasingly, everyone is a victim - except the powerful 0.5% elite that rules the world. Break their power. Buy gold. (Cartoonist - Ted Rall; courtesy - http://charlesgoyette.com). Click for larger image.

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 …?

While George Soros talks of gold being the ultimate bubble, his companies are quietly buying gold.

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.

In this game of musical chairs, when the music stops, everyone who does not own gold is out. (Cartoon by David Horsey; Courtesy - http://politicalhumor.about.com). Click for larger image.

In this game of musical chairs, when the music stops, everyone who does not own gold is out. (Cartoon by David Horsey; Courtesy - http://politicalhumor.about.com). Click for larger image.

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.”

Some 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?”

Africa – A Problem of various ‘isms’, ‘archies’ and ‘cracies’

December 9, 2010 1 comment
The world has not been able to shake off the spell of Western 'maya'!

The world has not been able to shake off the spell of Western 'maya'!

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.

The 'resource grab' and the campaign to keep Africa poor continues.

The 'resource grab' and the campaign to keep Africa poor 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)

भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

Europe’s Probable Fall

November 22, 2010 27 comments

 

Europe's Titanic ego problem - May 10, 2010, at 06.27 PM (Cartoonist-Cam Cardow, copyright 2010 Cagle Cartoons; courtesy - theweek.com.). Click for larger image.

Europe's Titanic ego problem - May 10, 2010, at 06.27 PM (Cartoonist-Cam Cardow, copyright 2010 Cagle Cartoons; courtesy - caglecartoons.com.). Click for larger image.

The success of Europe is considerable, but must not be exaggerated. There are still problems, including poverty to cite only one example, several million children in the UK suffer from malnutrition. While Europe has succeeded in attracting new members, it has not been successful in integrating its new immigrant populations. The European project is being tested by the lack of success of the Lisbon treaty.

The problem, however, is that while the peace will probably last another major European war is a very unlikely scenario the prosperity may not.

The choice is basically as follows. By accepting reform and the need for some sacrifices, the European fall will occur, but it will be reasonably gentle and gradual. By refusing to reform and rejecting sacrifice, Europe’s fall will be precipitate. At the moment, unfortunately, the more likely scenario is the second one. (read more via Europe’s Probable Fall – The Times of India).

A culture of entitlement has robbed European society of its vitality. The writer feels that Europe can choose how it will decline. Gradually and gently. Otherwise, precipitate – sudden, visible, maybe violent. I am being gentle by call it decline. Lehman says it is fall. No less.

Cartoon from timeesofindia.com). Publication date - 16th November 2010.

Cartoon from timeesofindia.com). Publication date - 16th November 2010.

Probably, many in India and the Indians abroad, the RNIs and the NRIs, brought up on the milk of Western superiority will mourn the passing away of their ‘dream’. I am sure they will quickly find some other ‘superior’ culture for loyalties.

The dream is dead. Long live the dream.

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