Contributed by Jen Alic of Oilprice.com. In Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum, the US Supreme Court has ruled that Nigerian nationals do not have the right to sue the oil company for alleged rights abuses overseas, dashing the hopes of Esther Kiobel, who filed her lawsuit against Shell in 2002 shortly before she became a US citizen.
Some of the crown jewels of corporate America have reported declining revenues and earnings, and have lowered their forecasts, and in doing so, have unleashed a flood of obfuscation and excuses – from Easter falling on the wrong date to lazy sales reps. So when Caterpillar reported on Monday, it was almost refreshing in its unvarnished ugliness.
Contributed by Chriss Street: The FBI and Justice Department put-on a media dog and pony show to trumpet how the combined forces of law enforcement captured the Boston Marathon Bombers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The investigative heroes were millions of members of the social-media site Reddit, who virally leveraged their diverse skills.
Contributed by Don Quijones: “We make or break human life every day of every year as probably no other force on earth has ever done in the past or will ever do again” — Davison Budhoo, former IMF economist who in 1988 broke ranks and published a scathing 150-page resignation letter. In it he accused the IMF of corruption, self-interest, and deceit.
Where German industrial companies plan to invest: a slew of losers out there, including Germany. But one country stands out ... and the reasons why!
Contributed by Chriss Street: Italians are electing their 63rd government in 68 years. Normally, Europeans chuckle about this. But Italian political trouble just became EU economic trouble as its debt was downgraded to BBB+ and a bank run seems to have begun. The realization that it's too big to bail out is heating up the Eurozone debt crisis.
Bubbles are a funny thing. Participants don’t see them. Outsiders shake their heads, then get sucked in themselves. Central banks create them but deny their existence. Money piles in on top of money. Risks no longer exist. Result: mayhem, capital destruction, devastation of the industry.... and a new beginning for the lucky ones. Take natural gas.
Quiet … EMPTY … If you want to make a deal opening a shop of some sort, you can pick and choose amongst prime locations. The time is now, if that is your inclination, and if you have the financial staying power, or a concept for selling things people can’t do without, something cheap! Every second shop, ah OK, maybe every third or fourth, is closing down.
Secretary-General María Dolores de Cospedal, number two of the governing party in Spain, said that she knew she'd get criticized, “but this is pure Nazism.” The next day, she repeated it and added that going to someone’s house to “harass” him was “comparable to what occurred in the 30s in a European country.” A reference to Nazis marking the homes of Jews. But these “Nazis” are folks who are standing up to the banks and draconian mortgage laws that the government is hell-bent on protecting.
In 2009, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, under fire for his company’s strategy to collect, store, and mine personal data, said on CNBC, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Privacy just makes you appear guilty. It’s the philosophy under which police states operate. But why a sudden about-face?
Contributed by Chriss Street: US Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein ruled in the Stockton, CA, municipal bankruptcy case that public employee pension obligations are nothing more than a “garden variety creditor.” As Barrack Obama, after winning the Presidency in 2008, had put it: “At this defining moment, change has come to America.”
Contributed by Don Quijones: Catalonia’s riot police unleashed the untamed fury of the state upon the protestors and cleared Barcelona’s Plaza Catalunya of all occupants. A dense ring of shell-shocked people gathered around the square. I was one of them. A child riding on his father’s shoulders held up a sign: “No soy anti sistema, el sistema es anti yo,” it said (I’m not anti-system; the system is anti-me).
Austria would fight to maintain bank secrecy, declared uppity Finance Minster Maria Fekter. She is worried. After squashing Cyprus, gutting its offshore financial and money laundering center, and destroying its main resource, the EU has now trained its big guns on Austria and Luxembourg.
The average Cypriot household had a phenomenal net worth of €670,900 in 2010 – over three times that of German households. That wealth had been sucked out of the cesspool of corruption that the banks and the government were, until neither had a drop of lifeblood left. Now the party is over. And you can almost hear the snickering among European politicians.
Contributed by Doug Casey, Chairman, Casey Research: "Another reason for having a second passport – certainly if you're an American – is that nobody anywhere in the world wants to open a bank account for you. It's a subtle and indirect form of exchange control that the US has already imposed."
There could not possibly be any clouds on the horizon with the Dow and the S&P 500 setting all-time highs, while the German DAX is marching relentlessly towards 8,000 and the Japanese Nikkei is soaring. But just then, a deeply connected representative of the world’s real economy spoils the rosy scenario.
Eurozone countries are falling like dominos. Next: Slovenia. But bailouts – by taxpayers in other countries – keep banks from collapsing, governments from defaulting, and investors from incurring well-deserved losses. In the US, President Obama’s budget, with its new taxes, is causing heart palpitations left and right. But how do countries really stack up?
In March, the ECB-organized Eurozone-wide household-wealth survey results trickled out. But when the Bundesbank refused to publish the German data, insiders leaked the reason: too explosive for the bailout era because Italian households were far wealthier than German households. Shocking! And a red herring. The truth turned out to be far more shocking.
Contributed by Ross Thomas. As the value of a Bitcoin soars and dives and soars in mega-percentages, and as perfectly sane people wonder what the heck it is and then suddenly jump on the bandwagon with both feet, Ross, a computer security researcher and software developer, pokes around in its ugly innards.
In 1969, notes greater than $100, including the cool $10,000 note that would still pay for a lot of things, were retired due to “declining demand.” Prematurely, it turns out. Because demand for cold hard cash, despite plummeting use of it for transactions, has surged. Reason: fear.