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February 18, 2013

Competitive Currency Debasement

Filed under: Competitive Currency Debasement,currency,Monetary Wars — baseball91 @ 7:28 PM
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Toxic waste. There was spillover on other neighboring countries from competitive currency debasement.

In the words of Kevin Kersten, SJ, life in the modern world has many sorts of enmities, whether between a husband and wife on the brink of divorce; a child abused by a parent; between rich and poor; between cheaters and the cheated; between adversaries in civil war; between bullies and their victims. “Whatever the sort of enmity between nations at war, only two options occur to me as possible for those embroiled in enmity: To let it be, or deal with it.  Really, there is no ‘in between’.”  

Exchange rate management: Over the past four months, the Japanese yen has risen in price from 78 to up around 94 US dollars. Japan was the last nation to follow a monetary policy for domestic considerations, which as a collateral consequence has seen a dramatic weakening of the yen against other currencies.

This weekend, the G20 refrained from censuring Japan and implicitly sanctioned similar conduct by other G20 nations. Criticizing Japan would have made other countries – particularly the US – also a legitimate target for criticism by other G20 members.

The internal discussion within the euro nations would now be over the euro’s rise on the foreign exchanges with or without a need to be brought under control? With a current-account surplus in Germany’s economic growth in 2013 for six out of the past seven years – six percent of gross domestic product last year – while France carried a deficit of 2 percent for 2012, the German people can live with a euro above $1.30 (or maybe even $1.40) much more than France and its other western neighbors, writes David Marsh. And with so little chance to meet its growth and budget-deficit targets this year, France is at odds with the policy of Angela Merkel’s government, the European Central Bank, as well as the Bundesbank. Because it is an election year in Germany, should a currency war break out in 2012, it likely will be between France and Germany. So the G20 backed off from addressing competitive currency debasement, to let the civil war begin within the European Union.

And so market forces, in bond market and stock markets, along with the current events since September 2008, for currency markets. For all currencies to be equally subject to the impartial discipline of a truly free and fair global market, no government today leaves the exchange rate of its currency to market forces, trying to use their competitive advantage.

“Letting an enmity be will likely make it worse.  Recrimination will increase.  Old hurts will get bruised and new ones will be perpetrated.  Grudges and resentments will fester.  Violence and bloodshed may even happen.  And all this will occur for the enemies facing one another from the two sides of a divide.” –Kevin Kersten, S.J.

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October 10, 2011

Gradual Appreciation

Filed under: China,currency,Moneyball — baseball91 @ 11:11 PM

Monetary wars: On Tuesday the U.S. Senate considered a vote on al bill which threatens China, unless it revalues its currency, with broad-ranging sanctions, while ignoring a whole host of other factors in the Chinese economy which distort price signals, beyond currency. Some here, like Senator Charles Schumer, apparently think that the US still has the broad power which the national economy provided following World War II. Proposed by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the motivation in this legislation has more to do with an upcoming national elecction of the ongoing recession, and less to do with Chinese inaction. Over the past twelve months, China actually has allowed the renimbi to gradually appreciate by 5.2% which means Chinese goods are at least 10% more expensive than one year ago. The intent of the Senate bill was directed at persistent high unemployment in the States. The Senate bill would likely damage U.S. relations with Beijing, said China’s Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai.

The yuan appreciated to 6.3486 per dollar, the strongest level since China unified the official and market exchange rates at the end of 1993. With mounting concerns about China’s growth, fears of yuan depreciation could spark outflows of speculative funds. Setting the official yuan-dollar exchange rate at a record high signals a commitment to letting the currency rise, forestalling destabilizing capital flight. Amidst speculation policy makers will tolerate gains after the United States accuses China of undervaluing its currency, at moments like this Beijing often will attempt to guide the yuan higher to take the ire out of complaints from trade partners – in a little exchange-rate diplomacy. When you sat on billions in reserves, you had a few monetry moves to make from your quiver.

The strategy in Beijing was one of gradual appreciation. Tom Orlik of the Wall Street Journal writes, don’t bet on a change in China’s exchange-rate strategy. Since the the end of June, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index has fallen 35 percent. “Yes, China heads into the possibility of a second global downturn with more problems than it did the first,” writes Orlik, “but markets have gotten ahead of themselves.” China’s main weaknesses are its dependency on exports and a real-estate bubble.

A weaker dollar does continue to boost investment demand in commodities. The yuan’s rebound came after data earlier this month showed a continued expansion in manufacturing activity in China. The strength in the yuan comes despite the Chinese central bank’s efforts to guide its currency slightly weaker after a week-long public holiday, with mounting Chinese domestic inflation. The larger-than-expected increase in Sep U.S. payrolls reduced recession concerns. After a week-long holiday, with resumption of trading, the Shanghai Stock Index fell to its lowest level in sixteen months on speculation the government will maintain tighter monetary policy. The euro rose to a one-week high against the dollar after German Chancellor Merkel said European leaders will do “everything necessary” to ensure that banks have enough capital, and after the European Commission said it will make proposals in the coming days on possible coordination of bank recapitalization in the EU. One day after German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy said they will deliver a plan to recapitalize European banks and find a “durable” solution for Greece’s debt load by the November 3rd Group of 20 summit, no details have been provided. Promises, promises, by those new Romantic European leaders who were supposed to be expanding the bailout fund for those in the euro zone, who use the euro. That had been the content of the July 2011 agreement by leaders who now were in largely inconclusive talks. The July agreement did require unanimous approval from member state parliaments, though Slovakia, along with Malta, had yet to approve it. With a vote on the matter due in the Slovakian parliament Tuesday, on Monday the Slovakia governing coalition failed to reach a compromise on an endorsement.

Relationship issues. In the age of divorce, the G20 nations, seeing but not knowing what the commitment issues involved. Other Asian stock markets advanced on optimism that European leaders will resolve the region’s debt crisis and boost the earnings outlook for Asian exporters, despite Fitch Ratings downgraded of Italy’s and Spain’s credit ratings at the close of the Friday’s market.

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February 28, 2011

Rebellion

Filed under: currency,History — baseball91 @ 8:01 PM
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The new year was about fear. And moving stories that grabbed the heart. Stories not necessarily ending in freedom.

There seemed to be a lot of rebellion going on in the new year. When the world itself makes us at time move. As the Mayan calendar which ruled the world of Chinese horoscopes over a 26,000 year astrology cycle (the Precession of the Equinoxes) had us all coming to an abrupt end by around Christmas 2012. Or in the belief of the Mayans, the Sumerians, Tibetans, and Egyptians, precisely on December 21, 2012.

Fear always had moved people who mostly never wanted to be changed, This year, fear was stealing people’s money and independence. Fear moved those in power. Revolutions were about movements. When those who lived in pain organized in movement. Over the price of food, or over currency, for people in parts of the world which needed oil to move.

When movement was no longer an elective, for people caught up in hunger and fear. And how it was fear moved a story. It was why people read –looking not so much to be changed but for some wisdom about the world. Perhaps about the coming new world, and how to outfox it, beginning on December 21, 2012.

When inequality threatens stability. The use of language used by the media in this decade to describe current events is interesting. Particularly over the increasing use of the term “Insurgents.” Counter-insurgency involved “action taken by the recognized government of a nation to quell a rebellion against a constituted authority.” Has anyone ever asked why the rebellion in the first place, against a constituted authority? And authority “constituted” by who?

The way brains are wired. When inequality threatens stability. Inflicting more than just pain….but homicide. When you waged organized homicide called war, and society accepted it. And when you controlled a school system that ingrained how brains were wired. And the numbers bear out that a lot of young people believed they were fighting in defense of the United States by waging war in Afghanistan. Counter-insurgency action taken by the recognized government of a nation….constituted by who? And if the rebellion in a foreign land was thought to be unjust, who had made the determination and why had the US government selected this particular land, of all the places, to fight over? When you had a neighbor like Pakistan, supposedly an American ally, who was aiding and abetting the rebellion.

When inequality threatens stability, and homicide was waged against you. As pro-democracy uprisings spread across the Middle East, Saudi Arabian princes were feeling increasingly isolated. And the Omaha World Herald was getting around to sending their own reporter to Afghanistan where it is difficult to impossible to make a distinction between an insurgent, a supporter of a non-combatant insurgent, and an entirely uninvolved members of the population. Apparently the publisher thought a story was going to be breaking out in Afghanistan. Soon.

And consequently because of that war, my country has been spending $193 million per day fighting in foreign lands, not really counting the cost, aiding and abetting in a counter-insurgency action taken by a recognized government, and these young people were willing to sacrifice their lives.

When you controlled a school system that ingrained how brains were wired on how to recognize legitimate governments, maybe someone was confused as to the geography –thinking Afghanistan was located next to Egypt or Tunisia. But counter-insurgency operations have often rested on a confused, relativistic distinctions. And in such a secular world, when a school system had ingrained how brains were wired on how to recognize legitimate governments, and maybe someone was confused as to the geography…or very concerned about their reporters’ safety as Islamists rebelled against a constituted authority in some kind of world-wide movement. So maybe exporting “democracy” to a parts of the world which had never had the experience, without checks and balances, without a respect for the dignity of a minority, was not such a good idea.

When you waged organized homicide called war, and the majority in a society accepted it. The way brains are wired, when inequality threatens stability. Never counting the true enduring stress syndromes, in the ecology of the soul, with all the post traumatic stress which came into people’s lives, people’s homes, after war, in representative democratic republics. In stories not necessarily ending in freedom

There seemed to be a lot of rebellion going on in the new year. In the age of globalization, when everybody on earth seemed to want to make some kind of contribution. Republicans exporting “democracy” to a parts of the world which had never had the experience, and now Democrats in the name of hope, if not change, because their brains are wired that way. Not counting the cost. Where inequality threatens stability. When the preeminence of the US dollar was no longer stable, and with its instability, we had now exported the problem elsewhere. To China, and those OPEC nations. All the rebellion resulting from the unrecognized monetary wars, to fund the counter-insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. When inequality threatens stability.

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November 7, 2010

QE2: Setting Sail in International Waters

Navigating the news: With a lot of soul searching going on between the central banks and the treasury chiefs of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers in advance of the Seoul G20 meeting this week, the Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij told Reuters that he is willing to implement further capital controls, either alone or in cooperation with other countries, to combat excessive inflows from ultra-easy US monetary policy. No finance minster wants their currency appreciating and the Thai baht is one of Asia’s best-performing currencies this year. Thailand’s finance minister said last Friday he accepted its currency would appreciate due to strong economic fundamentals, but
recognized the threat of as investors flooding the Thai markets, creating potential asset bubbles look for higher yields in Thai bonds and stocks,

To avoid stoking inflationary pressures, Thailand would work to avoid damage from a sudden reversal in speculative money. Those reversals like the Japanese were experiencing with a too-strong yen. Outside money and bubbles, with outside manipulators look to skim.

Searching for alternatives to the dollar due to its broad-based decline, policy options include making more use of the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights (SDRs), taking whatever necessary measures

This past week, the Federal Reserve Bank in essence announced a revised edition, called Quantitative Easing, Part 2. With the attempt to send interest rates down by .50 or .75 percent, comes ultra-easing monetary QE2. Maybe you caught Back to the Future, Part 2. Would we ever end up with this same cast of characters, where we were when all of this started? And would the ending seem the same?

In 2006, forty-six Filipino pesos bought one US dollar. On Friday there was short covering of the dollar as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas intervened in the trading so the peso would not appreciate beyond the 42.50 peso-per-dollar level. In the words of one trader, “There was panic dollar-buying.”

This was not just sub-prime American crisis. The Fed will now will print money to buy as much as $900 billion in U.S. government bonds through June 2011—an amount roughly equal to the government’s total projected borrowing needs over that period. The Obama administration reported a few week back the federal deficit hit a near-record $1.3 trillion for the just-completed budget year. When monetary policy was used to finance war. This was about the past unfunded costs, and the ongoing present costs. Not appearing in the budgets passed each January, which were affecting currency and that neither political party talked about.

Asian countries have piled up hundreds of billions in foreign exchange reserves since the continent’s currency crisis in the late 1990s in part because they felt the funds mishandled the situation.” Japan is sitting on one trillion dollars. The Chinese government has their $2.4 trillion in reserves. Only it was not to be measured in dollars, at this point forward. America, between the credit markets and the equity markets, was about to be reinvented. And a lot like when the bank held your mortgage, in the new world order American politicians would have to learn a bit of humility when going to meetings like the one this week in Seoul.

It was two years after a calamity that resulted in this new kind of totalitarianism when people cannot buy homes and cars from a banking system, and the rest of us cannot sell. We were stuck where we were, until the foreclosures.

Timothy Geithner – whose credibility is seen in the twelve month performance of the “strong” dollar that he cheer-led last November when that dollar was worth ten percent more when pegged to the yen – declined to comment on the U.S. monetary policy stance, saying today the U.S. has an “independent” central bank. This is the Geithner, who led the New York Fed in September 2008, slowly losing face with his promises, among finance ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).


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October 18, 2010

America’s Dollar, With Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Filed under: currency,euro,Hyman Minsky — baseball91 @ 5:19 PM
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There was silence all around us, about the currency we used. It was the silence over who we think who we are, as a currency appreciated. The silence came with a belief in false strength, as if it was something that I had done.

Travel internationally and see it in a people. While a weaker currency was inflationary, no one who used the currency within the borders seemed to appreciate what was happening, in the view of the rest of the world over value. Or over judging values.

When currency policy was used to finance war, so that not many citizens thought about the war. There was a silence all around us. About war. Until tax cuts affected road maintenance. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But someday soon. In the United States, the silence all around us was about war. Until tax increases came, or otherwise the currency would become worthless. No matter how many dollars we saved for retirement.

There was a silence all around us. In political campaigns. About war. And about the cost of war. When currency policy was used to finance war. The past unfunded costs, and the ongoing present costs. Which were affecting currency. Every day. When state government had no control over the erosion of currency. While the electorate seemed to only build new stadiums, drink beer and watch NFL football. An electorate with a loss of consciousness, if not just the beginning stages of dementia in a once booming generation.

The power to regulate currency was left to the market, as the Fed and the Treasury secretary had spent their tools to control the cost of money. Only after Congress had already approved of war. The elected representatives. With interest rates, banks were allowed to have some control of cost of money. In a world market fighting deflation.

The silence all around us was from the seemingly powerless, in whatever currency was used. Except come election day. An electorate, as one clinical symptom of depression, continued to be unable to focus. Perhaps as a result of battle fatigue, or one stage of a national Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, the missing focus was on the cost of war. It was not just soldiers that would have to live the remainder of their lives with this Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

In a once booming American generation unable to focus beyond a counted cost of 50,000 American lives, with no attention to the 2 million Asians who lost their lives. It was not just surviving soldiers that had had to live the remainder of their lives with this Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and the loss of focus. In a once booming American nation once with a currency with the power to regulate governments in Southeast Asia, or to go to war in Iraq. A nation that had not learned the affects of war on currency that took twenty years to overcome, beyond the loss of life.

The United States was a nation, after both Democrat and Republican administrations, with a sub-prime belief in false strength of currency that was used to somehow bring Bin Laden to justice, with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. My own considerable fear, with this Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and the loss of focus after September 2001, was about a weaker currency which was hyper inflationary, in the soon to come future that would affect a nation for twenty more years. Or the reverse policy would be uncontrolled deflation, like the policy followed in Japan, where elected political leaders could only watch the affect of monetary policy adrift. Or the decade after the Great War in Europe that saw ongoing deflation, with a contagion that spread to these shores.

The drones of both Democrat and Republican candidates with post traumatic stress, and not really caring any more about the cost of these foreign wars –the wars lost sight of under the cover of TARP rescue of banks that no one had really protested against. It’s the war, stupid. It’s the stupid cost of war.

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September 16, 2010

As the Yen Rises

Filed under: China,currency,euro,European Union,Hu Jintao,Japan — baseball91 @ 3:48 AM
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Money always seemed to affect the outcome of elections. Japan was in June 2009 in the throes of its worst post-World War II recession. Exports were down 40.9% from May 2008, adding to doubts about the possibility of a quick recovery from the global recession. The euro since then has plunged compared with the Japanese yen. Marketwatch has frequently reported that the dollar gained against the Euro but declined against the yen, “in a pattern that has frequently emerged when traders grow nervous about the outlook.”

On June 4, 2010, Naoto Kan, a plain-spoken finance minister was named by the governing Democratic Party prime minister of Japan. His selection came after the sudden resignation of Yukio Hatoyama over broken campaign promises. Mr. Kan, the fifth Japanese leader in four years, faced a task to ignite Japan’s faltering economy and to temper the fast rise of a strong yen. The yen has surged to a 15-year high despite weaknesses in the country’s economy based upon its export-oriented economy, combined with falling deflationary prices. In September 2010, Mr. Kan won a closely fought vote within his own governing party to stay on as prime minister.

The deflation animal has been loose in Japan for some time. As the yen keeps getting stronger, because of its $1.02 trillion in foreign reserves, the Japanese government had lost control of their currency due to the strength of the Chinese economy, with few arrows in its quiver to fight the after affects. The yen gets strong, reflecting growth in China which lacks so much transparency. In the first two weeks of July 2010, the yen had gained 4.3 percent, trading at 92.39 per dollar as of July 10. With $685.9 billion of the securities in April, Japanese investors are the biggest foreign holders of US Treasuries, after China.

Saying the dollar may no longer reign supreme in the future, Masaharu Nakagawa, the shadow finance minister in the Democratic Party of Japan envisions “in the course of the region’s forming a single economic zone,” as he told AFP one year ago, an Asia united by a single common currency. He said during he recent campaign Japan should consider shifting its $1 trillion of foreign reserves away from the dollar into International Monetary Fund bonds. Twelve months before, Nakagawa had said, “Now is the time for Japan to say what kind of world it would like to create. Not to adapt itself to the given circumstances as it has,” since the end of World War II. People must take change into account as the world seeks a new order in the post-Cold War era, with a possibility the dollar might not function as the key currency any more in the medium term.

Their currency has appreciated about 10 percent this year against the dollar. Though Prime Minister Naoto Kan said last Friday the Japanese government would be gearing up to intervene in global currency markets to curb a strengthening yen to limit further damage to Japan’s export-led economy, intervention is expected to do little, with fewer arrows in its quiver. The the upward pressure on the yen is because of increased purchases of yen-dominated bonds by China while seeking to diversify its foreign reserves away from the dollar. The gross domestic product expanded in Japan 0.4 percent in the April-June period from the previous quarter — higher than an guestimated 0.1 percent.

Unease about the economic outlook grows to unease about national security. There was a monetary arms race going on. Everywhere. One pundit noted that the state asset managers in China have replaced the PIMCO funds as well as the World Monetary Fund as a source of aid packages, without the prerequisites that used to come with the money. China’s currency reserves of $2.4 trillion is actually an Asia-wide phenomenon. And China had an internal real estate bubble all its own of which to deal.

The Cold War had been replaced with monetary arms race that involved debt instruments for the world, sources of strength, sources of weakness. As China was rescuing nations afte Septemberr 2008, trying to win friends among nations in need. With history against it, Japan was never going to make the list. The United States and Europe are happy to see their exporters gain a competitive edge against the Japanese.

The World Bank had predicted the global economy would shrink by 2.9% in 2009 in a revised outlook from a previous forecast of a 1.7% contraction. Slow growth leveling off to negative territory raises concerns of a double-dip recession. Or worse.

Unease. In Greece Alexandra Mallosi told the New York Times. “In other countries, young people are encouraged, in Greece they are held back.” The head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, says that long-term unemployment could lead to massive social unrest. Victims of recession in their early twenties suffer lifetime damage and lose faith in public institutions. New research says Americans are more than $6 trillion short of what they need for retirement, on average $90,000 per potential retiree.


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June 19, 2010

The People’s Bank: It’s All about Chinese Currency

Filed under: Ben Benanke,Business,China,currency,Hu Jintao — baseball91 @ 6:16 PM
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In a signal to financial markets one week prior to the Group of 20 meeting in Canada, the central bank of China announced in statement that it would allow greater flexibility in the value of the renminbi, the currency of China. Lacking any detail on how both the timing and the manner much the currency might rise, there is sensitivity in China especially to inflated housing prices and the competitiveness of Chinese exports in world markets, with millions of jobs in Chinese export factories. In its statement today, as five years before, the People’s Bank of China would be setting the value of the renminbi in relation to a basket of various currencies, not just the US dollar.

Historically, in July 2005, China had announced the decision of is central bank’s decision to begin allowing the renminbi to rise against the dollar. Over the next three years, the renminbi did then rise 21 percent up until the point of the bubble burst on Wall Street in September 2008. In a defensive measure, iInformally the central bank of China had repegged the renminbi at 6.83 to the dollar in July 2008, as the global financial system came apart, with the ensuing sliding worldwide demand for its goods triggered by the global financial crisis.

As stated, the timing and the manner of how much the currency might rise was not addressed. With the 2005 announcement, the new currency policy was accompanied by a one-time two percent rise in the currency against the dollar, to be followed by further gradual appreciation of the renminbi. But here was a government whose performance actually followed what it said. Though there was a missing transparency, the leadership in China did not go chasing oil spills for backdrops for news conferences, as has been the case in the United States since 1980.

Per the stated Chinese self-confidence from the statement on the People’s Bank of China website: “The global economy is gradually recovering. The recovery and upturn of the Chinese economy has become more solid with the enhanced economic stability.”

With $2.4 trillion in currency reserves, China’s problem was not much different than mine. If you had money, you had to put it somewhere. Playing the currency market itself, China’s exit from the dollar peg would suggest a protection of the holding which China has in the euro which its leaders had met to discuss duing the financial crisis of Greece. Because the euro is expected to gather strength when currency markets open Monday.

The underlying statement seems to be about increased economic activity in China, where according to customs bureau data overseas sales jumped 48.5 percent in May 2010 from one year ago. According to customs bureau data, exports exceeded imports by $19.5 billion.

According to a Business Week interview with People’s Bank of China’s policy board advisor Li Daokui, “China has ended its crisis-mode exchange-rate policy as the economy recovers strongly and inflationary pressure continues to build. The yuan’s future trend depends on the euro’s movement, and the trends of other major currencies.”

Historically, Chinese culture has had a distrust of foreigners. Along that lines, vice foreign minister Cui Tiankai the day before this announcement said the value of the renminbi was not a subject for global discussion, with similar recent responses to foreign pressure indicating strong nationalistic sensitivities about currency policy by Chinese officials.

April 15, 2010

Those Tea Parties



In his book, “The Three Trillion War,” Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and co-author Linda J. Bilmes state that the total economic impact of the Iraq War may be $4 trillion or more. And that was before the United States escalated things in Afghanistan.

Former White House economist Lawrence Lindsey was fired as economic adviser to President Bush partly because of his estimate of the dollar cost of the Iraq war. In an excerpt of his own book in Fortune magazine five years after, Lindsey wrote his projections were partly right. “My hypothetical estimate got the annual cost about right. But I misjudged an important factor: how long we would be involved.” Mr. Lindsey also stated his belief that one reasons the administration’s efforts were so unpopular was the choice not to engage in an open public discussion of the consequences of war, including its economic cost.”

Congressional Democrats had predicted the Iraq war would cost about $93 billion, not including reconstruction. Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said, “It’s clear that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone on longer and have been more expensive than the projections initially suggested,”

So far this has been a tax-free Iraq War, and not included in the Congressional Budget, as I recall a piece that was written in 2002. According to an item that ran on the MSN news page, the cost was carried over. I see little media coverage since that time indicting where the war shows up in the president’s budget.

William Nordhaus from Yale University wrote in the New York Review of Books in December 2002 in an article entitled “The Economic Consequences of War,” about the the long-term management of the economy, with the management of planning cycles. “The fabulous Nineties—with soaring stock market, falling unemployment, declining defense spending, budget surpluses, and bubbly optimism—were followed by the Bush administration which made no serious public estimate of the costs of the coming war. The public and the Congress are unable to make informed judgments about the realistic costs and benefits of the upcoming conflict when none are given. Particularly worrisome is the promise of postwar occupation, reconstruction, and nation-building in Iraq. If American taxpayers decline to pay the bills, this would leave a mountain of rubble and mobs of angry people in Iraq and the region. Closely related is a second syndrome, frequently found in past conflicts, of entering war prepared militarily but not economically. The finances of the nation have deteriorated sharply since George W. Bush took office. The annual federal budget has deteriorated by $360 billion from the spring of 2001 to the fall of 2002, and, even with a short war, budget deficits are likely to mount in coming years. The Bush administration has not prepared the public for the cost or the financing of what could prove to be an expensive venture.”

Nor has the Obama Administration. Market participants, wrote William Nordhaus in “The Story of the Bubble,” at this point do “remember how they lost $6 trillion on absurd and wildly overvalued speculations. A similar exuberance is unlikely to recur in the near future. More likely is an economy in which large federal budget deficits lead to cuts in existing civilian programs and doom critical priorities such as comprehensive health care.”

That tax-free Iraq War, as conceived by the Bush White House, was one ongoing economic consequences of war. There was now the subsequent tax-free Afghan War. These wars would soon change American history. Would you like to come over for tea?

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March 22, 2010

The Love Boat

“A little nervous,” about his return. Tiger Woods was a little nervous, on how his fans would react. When he returned. Like he had many fans left. I wonder if he was “a little worried” about Elin, and how she would react when he returned.

Relevance. In the land of beauty, if not truth. Health care reform in Lala Land. Planned by community organizers. Years after the Love Boat was canceled. Someday the Love Boat had to return to land. In the world of reality TV, somehow this bill had passed.

Ah, the need for good rating, when there still was a television network to operate. In the Age of Beauty, this golfer was a real beauty. CBS would be airing much of the Masters golf tournament in April, where Tiger Woods returns to the game. “Depending on the specifics, we are interested in an extended interview without any restrictions on CBS,” said CBS Sports spokeswoman LeslieAnne Wade.

Tiger was giving a 5 minute limit this week to the Golf Channel. For an interview. Maybe like he planned to give to his old swarm of swarmy friends. ESPN took him up on the limited offer. Saying the chance to get Tiger Woods on the record answering questions for the first time was more important than a five-minute time limit, ESPN was there. Their purpose was entertainment and sports. It was what the initials stood for. Not unlike the hired help that Tiger had gone in pursuit for his entertainment. But ESPN was allowed to choose its reporter for the interview. Golf reporter Tom Rinaldi went. Hey, but ESPN made no agreement on what could or could not be asked, Rinaldi said. Woods’ representatives offered the interview to ESPN on Thursday, in response to a long-standing request for a one-on-one, said Vince Doria, the network’s senior vice president and director of news.

In response to a long-standing request for a one-on-one, said Vince Doria, ESPN senior vice president and director of news, Woods’ representatives offered an interview to ESPN on Thursday. The sleaze was still visible. Maybe that was why former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer had elected to withdraw from the paid services of Tiger Woods, according to his e-mail to the Associated Press. Perhaps he already had given enough years in his life, in service o his country, to having to address sex issues of other clients.

Ah, limited truth. Health care reform. For the uninsured. For those who try to use emergency rooms for primary care. What would be covered? Dental insurance? Were not my teeth part of my body? And what about treatment programs for addicts? Would that be covered? Funded by the working public. Why not?

The new society, modeled after the world of Europe at the start of a new century. Modeled upon the Europe that was dying. Modeled upon an urgency not unlike getting Tiger on the record answering questions for the first time. This Congress that was not unlike the last session which had passed funding for TARP legislation. Speaking of sleaze. And the $787-billion package of tax cuts and spending in the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The first Recovery Act before this one.

“A little nervous.” I think the majority of Americans this morning were, like Tiger, just a little nervous. Worried about the day the Love Boat returned to the real world. Those first days back after going through recovery. In the days of hope and change, we were all a little nervous. Over how this all would work out. With all the friendliness of those people conducting IRS audits, only this time reviewing my health care. Speaking of docs. As the Love Boat was hoping to find port. A lot seemed to have changed. At home. Since the Love Boat departed.

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February 6, 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Politics Around the World in 2010

Perhaps to avoid protesters, representatives of the G-7 nations have gone to a city of 7,000 near the Arctic Circle to discuss, among other things, Greek debt and China’s currency. With only 300 available hotel rooms, 500 members of the global financial community, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Britain’s Alistair Darling, gather as the euro has fallen from a mid-January $1.44 to $1.36 on February 5th, with risk of further blow up with concerns over the weak finances of other euro-zone countries of Spain and Portugal. Global warming is not on the agenda. The Greek finance minister admitted that the nation could not keep paying 10-year bonds at 3.96 percentage points more than German debt. Concern was whether Greece will be able to pass its budget, which proposes drastic cuts and huge public sector lay-offs, after riots last year and with huge national strikes scheduled for the coming months. The worries about the solvency of Greece involves high deficits, fake budget figures, and low growth.

Government levies taxes not to finance its operations, but to give value to its fiat money as sovereign credit instruments. This meeting was all about the value of currency. With the return of global growth, with China leading the world recovery, Timothy Geithner is expected to bring up the yuan which China has re-pegged to the dollar. By the end of Mr. Obama’s first term in office, the strength of the yuan might change world economic history. With China holding over $1.3 trillion in Treasury debt of the $2.5 trillion U. S. Treasury debt, and a weakening U.S. Dollar as Foreign Reserve Currency, there is the fear China will replace the dollar as the main foreign reserves. A unified G7 position may strengthen Geithner’s position in discussing trade with Chinese officials next summer.

James Chanos is a hedge fund investor who is warning that China’s hyper-stimulated economy, with its own surging real estate sector, buoyed by a flood of speculative capital, looks like Dubai “times 1,000 — or worse,” and is headed for a crash. Rather than the sustained boom that most economists predict, as America’s pre-eminent short-seller, Chanos suspects that Beijing is cooking its books, and faking its eye-popping growth rates of more than 8 percent. The New York Times ran a story on Chanos on January 7, 2010, which include his own record of predicting Enron’s demise, spotting problems at Tyco International, “the Boston Market restaurant chain, home builders, and some of the world’s biggest banks.” His hedge fund is Kynikos Associates.

Economic unification and continued political independence of nation states, write Floyd Norris in the New York Times, was what was fueling this crisis of identity for the European Union. It was what also was causing a lot of divorces in individual homes around the world.

With major banks on the hook for much of the debt, Greece owes the world $300 billion. Helping Greece meet Europe’s deficit rules in 2001, just after admittance to European Union, Goldman Sachs helped the Greek government hide from public view a transaction treated as a currency trade rather than a loan, as Greece quietly borrow billions. With the help from the wizards of Wall Street, Greece engaged in an effort for the past ten years to skirt European debt limits. Before Greece became the center of recent global financial anxiety, which had been predicted since at least the new year of 2009, records show that representatives from Goldman Sachs arrived in Greece in November 2009 proposing to obscure billions in debt from the European Union budget lords, aiding in search to forestall a Greek day of reckoning. he offer to the government struggling to pay its bills was rejected. In deals in Italy and in Greece, banks had previously provided funding upfront in return for rights to airport fees and lottery proceeds through 2019, with those liabilities then left off the books.

There was a monetary arms race going on. Everywhere. China’s currency reserves of $2.4 trillion is a bubble all its own, which is actually an Asia-wide phenomenon.

The reserve bubble was a monetary arms race that, for the world, was not a source of strength, though China was rescuing nations, trying to win friends among nations in need. One pundit noted that the state asset managers in China have replaced the PIMCO funds as well as the World Monetary Fund as a source of aid packages, without the prerequisites that used to come with the money. The air in the bubble, this vacuum, would eventually lead to more suffering than the people in an earthquake nation has seen in recent weeks, when the ground gives way.

Unification and continued political independence. Television with its sponsors was not doing a very good job bringing the entire story to the mass audience.

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