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.
The craziness on Wall Street, the reckless for-the-moment-only behavior that led to the Financial Crisis, is back. This time it’s Citigroup that is once again concocting “synthetic” securities, like those that had wreaked havoc five years ago. And once again, it’s using them to shuffle off risks through the filters of Wall Street to people who might never know.
Contributed by Chriss Street. The reign of the US dollar as the only reserve currency may soon end. The US-centric balance of economic and military power has been destabilized by the crumbling of EU welfare states and the rise of the state-sponsored capitalist BRICS, eager to seize the opportunity to attack the dollar’s preeminence.
The Stunning Differences in European Costs of Labor: Or Why “Competitiveness” Is A Beggar-Thy-Neighbor Strategy
The ominous term “competiveness” is bandied about as the real issue, the one causing Eurozone countries to sink deeper into their fiasco. To address it, “structural reforms,” or austerity, have been invoked regardless of how much blood might stain the streets. And a core element of these structural reforms is bringing down the cost of labor.
Contributed by Chriss Street. Despite late winter storms that blanketed the Mid-West and East Coast with snow, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that the 2nd worst drought since the Great Depression will continue to lay waste to wheat and corn production. Compounding effects will slow the economy and cause food prices to rise.
“The government imposed the income tax burden in the first place,” said former California Republican legislator Tom Campbell about the process of filing tax returns. “So if it wants to make it easier, for heaven’s sake, why not?” But two companies that sell tax preparation software and services have been lobbying tooth and nail against making it easier—and won.
Cyprus didn’t prick the Eurozone bailout bubble, the notion that bank investors who took enormous risks to gain financial rewards would always be made whole by taxpayers. That bubble had already been pricked in February. But it was the first time that the international bailout cabal, the Troika, stuck its needle into it—while Germany quietly bailed out all investors in one of its own rotten banks.
Contributed by Don Quijones: A cardinal rule that visitors should observe at all times in Mexico City is to avoid catching random taxis on the streets. Pick the wrong one and, at best, you will be abusively overcharged. Or you may be whisked away to some neighbourhood where the taxi driver’s partner(s)-in-crime will be waiting. But this taxi ride was different.
Contributed by Valentin Mândrăşescu, Editor of Reality Check @ The Voice of Russia. The mainstream media usually presents a very unbalanced view on the events in which Russian interests are involved. The “Cypriot bailout” is no exception. These messages are wrong, and they miss the most interesting part of the story. I can tell that in Moscow there are many people who are jubilating right now. Their wildest dreams have come true.
Internet companies know practically everything about their users. And servers never forget. Advertisers, ID thieves, insurance companies, and others are trying to get this data. But “law enforcement” around the world can simply bully its way to it. Now Microsoft confessed: even your data and conversations on its encrypted services that you thought were secure aren’t because, upon request, it gives the crypto keys to governments around the world.
Contributed by Marin Katusa, Casey Research: Hugo Chávez was a highly controversial figure, calling George W. Bush a drunkard and a "psychologically sick man" and Tony Blair an "imperialist pawn,” and worse. But with Chávez no longer in the picture, things will change, and cheap Venezuelan oil will be able to flow into the markets, right? Wrong!