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.
Contributed by Chriss Street: Since 2008, 2.2 million jobs have been lost among the 25-54 year olds, even as their numbers grew by over 3 million. Young people who thought they’d scrimp by until they “moved up” now expect to never have a decent life and are trying to adapt to their new reality. Since 2008, America seems to have failed many Americans.
Contributed by Don Quijones: Not a day goes by without a new political scandal breaking in Spain. Just the last few days, King Juan Carlos’ daughter, La Infanta Cristina, was charged with aiding and abetting her husband in his myriad scams to embezzle money from the public purse. Now ties to a known drug trafficker hit the governing party, the Partido Popular.
The mood in France is dark and has turned away from politics, he said. People always expressed hatred for certain politicians; now they express hatred for the system. Comments are more violent. People are looking for a strong voice that can pull them out. “When the Fourth Republic collapsed, we had de Gaulle. What if the wrong person comes along now?”
Suddenly No Solution For 56 Million Gallons Of Highly Radioactive Toxic Waste Leaking Into The Ground
Engineers have done a great job developing nuclear technologies to serve mankind’s many endeavors: medical devices, power generators, or formidable weapons to wipe out mankind and its many endeavors. Yet they haven’t figured out what to do with the radioactive, toxic materials these technologies leave behind. And we’re shuffling them to the next generation.
Some Mile Stones: Working gas in underground storage, the primary measure of whether gas is in over- or undersupply, has now dropped 2.1% below the five-year average for this week, and a dizzying 31.6% below the same week last year. But the price of natural gas - it doubled over the last 12 months - is still below the cost of production.
France might not even notice if the Eurozone fell apart—that’s how tangled up it is in the Jérôme Cahuzac fiasco that blew up with phenomenal effect. Former Presidents Chirac and Sarkozy were dogged by investigations and trials that laid bare misdeeds they personally had been involved in. By contrast, the Cahuzac fiasco doesn’t implicate President François Hollande. Not yet. But it’s tearing up his government.
Everyone learned a lesson from the “bail-in” of Cypriot banks: Russians who’d laundered their money there; bondholders who’d thought they’d always get bailed out; Cypriot politicians whose names showed up on lists of loans that had been forgiven; even Finance Minister Sarris. His lesson: when a cesspool of corruption blows up, no one is safe. And German politicians learned a lesson too: that it worked!
Contributed by Chriss Street. FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig lambasted in an editorial the too-big-to-fail banks. But why would a top bank regulator complain about the US banking scheme? A warning that if Janet Yellen is chosen to replace Fed Chairman Bernanke, her strategy of igniting inflation to reduce unemployment will cause another banking crisis.
I’ve been a fan of David Stockman ever since he got in trouble for speaking the truth as Budget Director under President Reagan. But his new book, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America—what an awesome romp through the economic, financial, and monetary shenanigans of our times!
Contributed by Don Quijones: In 1994, decades of economic mismanagement, political ineptitude, corruption, and financial fraud in Latin America – overseen by the IMF, now a protagonist in Europe’s Troika – reached their nadir in the Mexican Tequila Crisis. It should have served – but patently didn’t – as a portent of the financial storms now buffeting Europe.
Amidst the things in the US economy that aren’t going in the right direction, the debacles, fiascos, and nightmares, is an industry of scrappy upstarts, tiny operations, and larger companies that use American ingenuity, marketing, and the right amount of hops to stand up to Wall-Street-engineered giants—and they’re winning the amazing American beer war.