Once upon a time the people of Hong Kong were proud of the airline they thought of as their own, Cathay Pacific. When you boarded the green and white aircraft with the attractive stewardesses in Manila or Bangkok you felt you were already at home. Then along came the accountants. They chopped everything. Economy class […]
Category: Great Britain
Question: I’ve read political forums and debates on CNN and I just can’t understand what the debates and discussions in Hong Kong, China are about. Can you please explain to me the political issues that Hong Kong is now tackling and current events?
Hong Kong was formally a British colony. On July 1st, 1997, Hong Kong entered a 50 year transition period (it will end in 2047) to Chinese rule. The Hong Kong people do not like the Chinese government (except those involved in government or business) and are terrified of becoming part of China. The idea of the transition period is that Hong Kong will still have its own government and not be fully integrated into China right away. This kind of gradual change would diffuse the anger and outrage of the Hong Kong people over time.
In the meantime, China is socially, politically, culturally, linguistically, economically and physically enveloping Hong Kong. Currently, huge numbers of mainland tourists who spend money very well are critical for Hong Kong’s economy. In the mind of these tourists, Hong Kong is a part of China. As a result, they do not change their culture, try to speak Cantonese or even English when they visit. They spit, shit in the streets, and are offensive to the local people. But because they spend so much money, locals have to speak there language. As a result, Cantonese is on the decline even in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is part of the pearl delta region. The mainland is currently rapidly developing that entire pearl delta region to create a mega city that is roughly the size of Denmark. Hong Kong will inevitably be swallowed by this city.
In a nutshell, the outrage in Hong Kong now is their response to being gradually consumed by the mainland in almost every aspect of life. This is a misunderstanding of the 50 year transition period. Locals want it to be a 50 year extension of autonomous rule, but really it is the period of gradual takeover by the mainland.
Also, as the New Territories (the northern part of Hong Kong which borders Mainland China) are developed, the Hong Kong government (which is really just a puppet of the mainland) is planning to bring in many mainlanders as permanent residents of Hong Kong. As Hong Kongers become more and more diluted, they lose their voice. That voice is already so weak because they don’t even have suffrage and can’t vote for their political leader (who already needs to be approved by the central government anyway).
The loudest Hong Kong people, especially youngsters, want to select their own leader in the 2017 election, but Beijing wants to keep some control of Hong Kong by limiting whom Hong Kong voters can vote for.
As part of an “Occupy Central” campaign, a non-binding referendum is staged to get public endorsement for the demand of nomination by the public, as opposed to just a small group of Beijing loyalists representatives called the “nominating committee,” which is stipulated in the Basic Law (some sort of mini constitution for Hong Kong). The result of the referendum doesn’t matter that much really. It represents over 750,000 voters’ wish to have a say in who can be voted in the 2017 election.
What’s next is that, before the end of the year, Hong Kong government will have to release to the public a proposed method of selecting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2017. Occupy Central threatens to blockade traffic in Central, the business district, if the proposal doesn’t fit their demand of a “universal suffrage in accordance with international standards.” Hong Kong government and Beijing officials have deplored the disruptive protest, which its organizers call “civil disobedience”. More political chaos will ensue. It might agitate Hong Kong activists and make them do more radical things, such as storming government or legislative buildings.
Another key thing to realize about the environment now is that June-July is a very sensitive time for Hong Kongers politically. The anniversary of Tienanmen Square, even though it did not take place in Hong Kong, is very important to Hong Kongers. July 1st is the anniversary of the beginning of the transition period.
Ever since Maragaret Thatcher handed Hong Kong back to China in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong has been going downhill.
|Hong Kong, alternatively known by its initials H.K., is a city-state and is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea.|
After 1997, it seemed like the handover wasn’t such a bad idea to the eyes of many. A good number of Hong Kongers who emigrated to Canada, Australia, the UK and even America moved back to Hong Kong to take advantage of the emerging Chinese market and the improvements in the city since they left.
Even John Stossel used the post-97 Hong Kong as an example of the wonders of “Economic Freedom” in his now-infamous “Is America Number One?” special. The late Milton Friedman claimed that he was wrong about Hong Kong going into decline in his revised introduction to his popular “Freedom and Capitalism” book. If only Milton Friedman knew what happened to Hong Kong since his passing.
Hong Kong at this time is slipping from being an international city in Asia to becoming just another Tier 2 mainland Chinese city. The economic freedom that is frequently cited by right-wing economists, libertarians, and traditional liberals is becoming obsolete. In 2013, the start-up HKTV was denied a television broadcast licence on the grounds that the company was not a division of a major corporation.
On the other hand, cable operators with friends in government were able to easily security television licences bringing the number of free-to-air networks to being run by now 4 corporations. Later attempts by HKTV to air as an online service were also blocked by the Hong Kong government. I am not sure if this is economic freedom but it sounds like a form of corporatism or socialism for the wealthy to me.
The reality is economic freedom is no longer real in Hong Kong unless you’re the head of a major HK corporation or in bed with the government. Any attempts to dream big or become massive will only be crushed by the establishment due to their need to preserve their own status quo. As far as they’re concerned, people can still continue to exist as small or medium-sized business owners but never at a corporate level.
Egypt: Preview of America in 2015
The rioting and looting taking place in Egypt is primarily a result of massive food inflation and shows what all major cities in the United States will likely look like come year 2015 due to the Federal Reserve’s zero percent interest rates and quantitative easing to infinity. On December 16th, 2009, NIA named Time Magazine’s 2009 ‘Person of the Year’ Ben Bernanke our ‘Villain of the Year’, saying he created “unprecedented amounts of inflation in unprecedented ways” and “When it costs $20 for a gallon of milk in a few years, Americans will have nobody to thank more than Bernanke.”
What started out a few weeks ago as protests in Algeria with citizens chanting “Bring Us Sugar!” and five citizens being killed, quickly spread to civil unrest in Tunisia which saw 14 more civilian deaths, and has now spread to riots in Egypt where 300 Egyptian citizens have been killed. Food inflation in Egypt has reached 20% and citizens in the nation already spend about 40% of their monthly expenditures on food. Americans for decades have been blessed with cheap food, spending only 13% of their expenditures on food, but this is about to change.
NIA was the first to predict the recent explosion in agricultural commodity prices in our October 30th, 2009, article entitled, “U.S. Inflation to Appear Next in Food and Agriculture”, which said we have a “perfect storm for an explosion in agriculture prices”. A couple of months later in ‘NIA’s Top 10 Predictions for 2010’ we predicted “Major Food Shortages” and said, “Inventories of agricultural products are the lowest they have been in decades yet the prices of many agricultural commodities are down 70% to 80% from their all time highs adjusted for real inflation”. Over the past year, agricultural commodities as a whole have outperformed almost every other type of asset, with silver being one of only a few other assets keeping pace with agriculture. (On December 11th, 2009, NIA declared silver the best investment for the next decade at $17.40 per ounce and it has so far risen 64% to its current price of $28.39 per ounce).
The world is at the beginning stages of an all out inflationary panic. Wheat, which NIA previously called on ‘NIAnswers’ its favorite investment besides gold and silver, is now up to a new 30-month high of $8.63 per bushel and has doubled in price since June of last year. Algeria bought 800,000 tonnes of wheat this past week, bringing their total purchases for the month of January up to 1.8 million tonnes, which was quadruple expectations. Saudi Arabia is also beginning to stockpile their inventories of wheat. Rice futures have gained 8% during the past few days with Bangladesh and Indonesia placing extraordinary large orders. Indonesia’s latest rice order was quadruple its normal allotment and Bangladesh plans to double rice purchases this year. Meanwhile, the U.S., which is the world’s third largest exporter of rice, is expected to cut production by 25% in 2011.
NIA considers rice to be one of the world’s most undervalued agricultural commodities at its current price of $15.96 per 100 pounds and forecasts a move back to its 2008 high of $24 per 100 pounds as soon as the end of 2011. NIA believes cotton, at its current price of $1.80 per pound, may have gotten a bit ahead of itself in the short-term. In NIA’s first ever article about agriculture on February 17th, 2009, we said that cotton’s “upside potential is astronomical” at its then price of $0.44 per pound. NIA pointed to increasing sales to textile companies in China and the fact that cotton was down 70% from its all time high as reasons to be very bullish on cotton at $0.44 per pound. Early NIA members could have made 309% on cotton, but today we see much bigger potential in rice. The recent spike in cotton reminds us of the 2008 spike in oil. Although we believe cotton will ultimately rise above $3 per pound later this decade, we could see a dip to below $1.40 per pound first.
Many people in the mainstream media have criticized NIA’s recent food inflation report, claiming that agricultural commodity prices have very little to do with prices of food in the supermarket. CNBC’s Steve Liesman, in particular, claims that “rising commodity prices won’t cause inflation”. Liesman has it backwards. NIA has never claimed that rising commodity prices cause inflation. Soaring budget deficits that the U.S. government can’t possibly pay for through taxation causes inflation when the Fed is forced to monetize the debt by printing money.
Rising commodity prices are only a symptom of inflation. The reason NIA was so bullish on agricultural commodities going back two years ago when we produced our first documentary ‘Hyperinflation Nation’, is because while gold is the best gauge of inflation and is often the best tool for predicting future money printing, agriculture is where the majority of the monetary inflation ends up going after the Fed’s newly printed money trickles down to the middle-class and poor. With gold prices already surging two years ago when we produced ‘Hyperinflation Nation’, NIA said in the documentary “food prices have the potential to surge most during hyperinflation”.
One thing NIA is almost 100% sure of is that come year 2015, middle-class Americans will be spending at least 30% to 40% of their income on food, similar to Egyptians today. As NIA warned in its latest documentary ‘End of Liberty’, if you don’t have enough money to accumulate physical gold and silver, it is important to begin establishing your own food storage, and store enough food to feed you and your family for at least six months during hyperinflation. Many store shelves in Egypt are now empty after recent panic buying, with shortages of nearly all major staple items throughout the country.
The U.S. Treasury is getting ready to sell $72 billion in new long-term bonds next week, as the U.S. rapidly approaches its $14.29 trillion debt limit. The debt limit is now expected to be reached by April 5th and Treasury Secretary Geithner warned the U.S. will see “catastrophic damage” if it isn’t raised. With the Federal Reserve now surpassing China and Japan as the largest holder of U.S. treasuries, the real “catastrophic damage” ahead will be hyperinflation as a result of the U.S. government doing absolutely nothing to dramatically cut spending. It is an absolute joke that Obama during his State of the Union address announced $400 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, but then the very next day, the Congressional Budget Office increased its 2011 budget deficit projection by $400 billion to $1.48 trillion.
Not raising the debt limit would be a good thing, as it would force Washington to live within its means. Sure, the stock market would collapse and the U.S. economy would enter into its next Great Depression, but at least it would save the U.S. dollar from losing all of its purchasing power. In fact, the standard of living for middle class Americans might actually improve if the government allowed the free market to put our economy into a depression, because goods and services would get cheaper.
The U.S. economy has become a drug addict that is dependent on cheap and easy money from the Federal Reserve. While Wall Street bankers took home a record $135 billion in total compensation in 2010, up 5.7% from $128 billion in 2009, this money was stolen from middle-class and poor Americans through inflation. The more monetary inflation (heroin) the Federal Reserve creates to satisfy the (in the words of Gerald Celente) “money junkies” on Wall Street, the more middle-class and poor Americans become dependent on unemployment checks and food stamps just to survive. Millions of American students are graduating college with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt but no jobs. Luckily for them (but not holders of U.S. dollars), NIA is hearing reports from both unemployed and underemployed college graduates with student loans that the government is reducing their required monthly payments by sometimes 90% or more based on their current incomes.
China and Japan recently saw their credit ratings downgraded, while the U.S. credit rating remains at “AAA”. NIA believes it would make far more sense for the world’s largest debtor nation to be downgraded instead of the world’s two largest creditor nations. The Federal Reserve’s second round of quantitative easing has yet to even reach the halfway point and the Fed already holds about $1.11 trillion in U.S. treasuries. By the time QE2 is over at the end of June, the Fed will own $1.6 trillion in U.S. treasuries, about what China and Japan own combined. Shockingly, Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig is already dropping hints about QE3. According to Hoenig, the Fed may consider extending treasury purchases beyond June 30th, 2010, (the scheduled completion date for QE2) if U.S. economic data looks disappointing.
With the Fed taking over as the largest holder of U.S. treasuries, China is beginning to rapidly move away from the U.S. dollar and into gold. In just the first 10 months of 2010, China imported 209 metric tons of gold compared to 45 metric tons in all of 2009, a stunning five-fold increase. While the western world is downplaying the threat of inflation as much as possible, Asian countries understand that hyperinflation is the most devastating thing that can possibly happen to any economy. The demand for gold in Asia now is the most intense it has ever been, as they look to tackle rising inflation before it becomes hyperinflation.
The Chinese are so smart that families are now giving each other gold bullion as gifts instead of traditional red envelopes filled with cash. China is now on track to soon surpass India as the world’s largest consumer of gold. The China Securities Regulatory Commission recently gave Beijing-based Lion Fund Management Co. approval to create a fund that will invest into foreign gold ETFs.
U.S. stock mutual funds saw $6.7 billion in net inflows during the past two weeks, the most in any two week period since May of 2009. The rioting, looting, and civil unrest in Egypt is now making the U.S. look like the safe haven of the world, even though it should be considered the riskiest place to invest. From the Dow’s low in August until now, about $38 billion was actually removed from U.S. stock mutual funds, despite the stock market rising 20%. The Dow Jones has risen from September until now solely due to the Federal Reserve printing around $350 billion out of thin air. When central banks print money, stock markets often act as a relief valve due to there being too much inflation going into the hands of financial institutions.
The U.S. M2 money supply surged by $46.6 billion during the week ending January 17th to a record $8.8623 trillion, following a rise during the previous week of $7.6 billion. The rise in the M2 money supply over the past two weeks of $54.2 billion equals an annualized increase of 16%. The M2 multiplier now stands at 4.218 compared to a long-term average of 10. When QE2 is complete, the Fed’s monetary base will likely stand at $2.59 trillion. A return to the long-term average M2 multiplier of 10 means we are due to see a 192% increase in the M2 money supply and that is not even including a possible QE3 and QE4.
The U.S. economic ponzi scheme could unravel very quickly in the years ahead, with the velocity of money increasing faster than anybody expects. As more Americans learn about NIA and become educated to the truth about the U.S. economy and inflation, a complete loss of confidence in the U.S. dollar could occur very suddenly. It is important for all Americans to prepare as if hyperinflation will be here tomorrow. At least in Egypt, their currency still has purchasing power and their citizens are trying to carry out a regime change before it is too late. By 2015 in America, it will already be too late and the civil unrest here has the potential to be many times worse.
It is important to spread the word about NIA to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, if you want America to survive hyperinflation. Please tell everybody you know to become members of NIA for free immediately at: http://inflation.us
That means I am just working at home on some projects. It should be great since I get to sleep later and not worry about the 1.5 hour commute to NYC. The euphoria of President Obama is winding down as the victory sinks in.
On one hand, there is a part of me that wishes Obama can use his magic touch to talk Bernanke into resigning and go back to teaching at Princeton. On the flipside, I suspect Obama may try to implement a New Deal 2.0 to prop up the American-created global financial crisis so that it doesn’t become the Great Depression 2.0.
The New Deal was initially supported by people such as Ronald Reagan because it had an emphasis on workfare. It put people to work in paving roads, building bridges, and improving existing infrastructure that added value to the country and set the stage for creating greater freedom of movement in people, goods and services. However, the New Deal increased the national debt, it was mismanaged in some cases, and its benefits took far too long to outweigh the immediate cost. Its redeeming factor were in infrastructure improvements, paying people for large scale government works, and reigniting debate on the role of government.
I talk about this because Obama has brought up the idea of compulsory service in the form of serving in the military or doing work in the community for people between the ages of 18 to 25. This in theory would allow the state to utilise a young and inexperienced pool of talent to work on government-sponsored projects or fight on their behalf while helping them gain experience and eventually figure out whether they want the state in their lives or not.
President Obama also has been unfairly compared to Jimmy Carter because he appears to be frank and intelligent. For some reason, intelligence is a virtue that is frowned upon in America, especially since the time Bush took power in 2000, with anti-intellectualism being looked upon as a real American value. Moreover, intelligence seems to be perceived as a primarily European virtue, which makes it foreign and therefore un-American. That being said, it should be no surprise that the Republicans, now dominated by factions with an anti-intellectual (ignorant) mindset, have chosen Sarah Palin to represent them and to be a heartbeat away from becoming President.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
-Sarah Palin is so dumb she thought Soy Milk is Spanish for “I am Milk”
-She is so dumb she thought Lincoln’s vice president was named Town Car
-Palin is so stupid she thought the capital of China is Chinatown
A clip of a Sarah Palin porn parody read by Thandie Newton and Ricky Gervais
I am just glad Obama won or stupidity would have been America’s downfall. Tomorrow is Rememberance Day
—- DONATION WEBSITES —-
To donate directly to a Chinese Non-profit, a good choice is Jet Li’s One Foundation. Jet Li is an ambassador for the Red Cross Society of China. His fund, as of 4/15/2008, has raised RMB 10,677,267 ($6,590/RMB 46,130 from Paypal donations)
Click on the “paypal” button
The site is in Chinese only, but I have read it. One key point to know about your donation there:
1. The FULL amount of your donation will be transferred to the Red Cross Society of China.
The website provides full transparency on how its funds are distributed.
I Googled the foundation and found quite a bit of press coverage, so I felt comfortable posting it as a donation destination.
FINALLY! You can now donate directly to the American Red Cross China Relief fund. The link is provided below, before you donate, please read the paragraphs regarding fund use:
Additional information regarding relief efforts by the American Red Cross is provided here
A recent post in this group mentions the possibility that donations to the American Red Cross does not fully transfer over to the Red Cross Society of China. I am attempting to reach the local director of the Red Cross in my area for a clarification on the exact use of fund for everyone, but probably won’t get an answer until tomorrow afternoon.
If anyone has any clarification on the matter please let everyone know ASAP.
All this being said, ARC does have a four star rating from Charity Navigator for its effective use of donations. http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm/bay/content.view/catid/2/cpid/43.htm
And your donation will be used specifically for the Chinese Relief effort.
However, your donation maybe be put to best use by directly wiring money to the Red Cross Society of China (listed in the CHINA section) or through Jet Li’s One Foundation (listed in the INTERNATIONAL section) rather than the American Red Cross.
More updates to come.
Directly wiring your donation to Chinese banks is possible:
Account name: Red Cross Society of China
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China:
人民币开户行: 中国工商银行 北京分行东四南支行
Foreign Current Donations:
CITIC Bank branch:
Hotline: (8610) 65139999
Red Cross Society of China website: www.redcross.org.cn
Thank you Clare Gu for the notification!
Online donation for Hong Kong Credit Card Holders
Hong Kong Red Cross:
Thank you Fan Zhang!
Allows online donors to direct their funds to the China Earthquake Relief effort
Direct donations to the Chinese Earthquake Effort via Online Payment has been posted.
Thank you Anna Judson for the notice!
—- RELIEF EFFORTS —-
Prayer and Donation Event:
Event: Prayer and Donation for Victims in SiChuan
Time: this Sat May 17th. 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Location: Manhattan Chinese Baptist Church @ 236 W 72nd St
Please join us and pray for the Earth Quake victims.
Contact: Vincent Zou. cell. 626-825-2266
By a Silent, Silent Chinese.
When we were called the Sick Man of Asia, we were the Yellow Peril.
When we are billed to be the next Superpower, we are a threat.
When we closed our doors, you smuggled drugs to our markets.
When we embraced Free Trade, you blame us for taking away your jobs.
When we were falling apart, you marched in your troops and wanted your “fair share”.
When we were putting the broken pieces together again, “Free Tibet” you scream, “it was an invasion!”
When we tried communism, you hated us for being communists
When we embraced capitalism, you hate us for being capitalists.
When we have a billion people, you said we were destroying the planet.
When we tried limiting our numbers, you said it is human rights abuse.
When we were poor, you thought we were dogs.
When we loan you cash, you blame us for your debts.
When we build our industries, you called us polluters.
When we sell you goods, you blame us for global warming.
When we buy oil, you call that exploitation and genocide.
When you fight for oil, you call that liberation and democracy.
When we were lost in chaos and rampage, you wanted rule of law for us.
When we uphold law and order against violence, you call that violating human rights.
When we were silent, you said you want us to have free speech.
When we were silent no more, you say we are brainwashed racists.
Why do you hate us so much? We asked.
“No,” you answered, “We don’t hate You.”
We don’t hate you either,
But do you understand us?
“Of course we do,” You said,
“We have NBC, CNN and BBCs…”
What do you really want from us?
Think hard first, then answer…
Because you only get so many chances,
Enough is enough, enough Hypocrisy for this one world.
We want one world, one dream, and peace on Earth.
This big blue Earth is big enough for all of Us.
Earlier today, some “Free Tibet” crowds and stereotypical Frenchmen decided to crash the apolitical Olympic torch relay. Many of them just protested and gave the torch runners a very hard time while a few were dumb enough to bring fire extinguishers to kill the Olympic flame.
That’s smart. Really, really smart guys. Even if you guys manage to extinguish the Olympic flame and brag all about it in the name of human rights or Tibet, nothing will change in Tibet before, during and after the fact. Actually the Olympic flame was extinguished three times during the Paris leg of the relay and they had to resort to secure backup flames to keep the momentum going.
In one instance, rioters ruthlessly attack a handicapped female torch bearer, who attempts to shield the torch with her body. This is simply disgusting, filthy, vile, and contemptible especially from the “Free Tibet” movement.
Was Tibet magically liberated as a result of these Olympic “riots” with monks, nuns, and nomads singing and dancing while clubbing random Han Chinese to death? I think not; but random Chinese people and private property are still being ravaged by pissed-off Tibetans.
It’s really one thing to protest at the Chinese government for mistreating them. I really have no objections to Tibetans doing a peaceful, non-violent protest targeted specifically at government buildings or uniformed officials. Hell, I would even back them or write to support the Tibetans if they actually went about their struggle in this manner.
But no, these kids just took the easy way out. First possibly at the covert approval of the Dalai Lama and the CIA, disgruntled Tibetans started first destroying businesses and private property in various cities, randomly attacked anyone who was either Chinese or did not “look” Tibetan, yet avoided confronting the government they so loathed. Seriously, this is just a cop out and a move to simply bait the Chinese government into a violent reaction, which worked to an extent.
Things got so bad that not even a sane Tibetan bothered to go out in the streets for fear of being randomly attacked, and some Tibetans went out of their way to put up white flags near their property to let others know they really are Tibetan (so they won’t get thrashed).
Ultimately, the people in France who wanted to see this rare relay missed out, and the “Free Tibet” activists claim another hollow victory. It’s a hollow victory because there are no immediate positive outcomes and no long-term benefits to Tibetans despite the empty claims of victory. It will only reaffirm the CCP’s need to take stronger measures against Tibetans and it may even generate disgust at their movement from non-Chinese.
As of this post, the US Dollar is now at parity with the Swiss Franc (CHF) and can buy up to 99 Japanese Yen. On another note the Canadian dollar is once again more valuable than the US dollar, while it will cost $2.02 to buy a British Pound Sterling. Also, the Euro is now equal to $1.56 US dollars.
The Benjamins have gone from heroes to zeros in the 8 years Bush has been in power. This is what happens when you go into a fruitless war in Iraq…
The 500 Euro is what’s happening right now…If it’s good enough for Jay-Z and Giselle Bundchen, then it’s going to be great for the rest of us
People need to understand that the rest of the world is not having stronger economic growth but rather it is the United States ongoing economic decline against the rest of the world that is leading to these exchange rates. At the rate things are going the Chinese Yuan or renminbi is going to be less than 7.00 Yuan to the Dollar by the mid-summer if the Federal Reserve keeps cutting interest rates as I think.
The currency of the 21st century…Will it be all about the Chairman?
Well it is clear that Bernanke may cut interest rates next week anyway regardless of the recent problems. Bear Stearns is just the beginning of many problems for the investment banks and it will only get worse due to the current links between traditional retail and investment banks. I actually thought at one point that Glass-Steagall was a sensible law which kept commercial and investment banks as separate entities, created the FDIC, and other provisions which were designed to curb dangerous speculation. Unfortunately, the provisions which prevented banks from offering financial services was repealed in 1999 when Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
The Glass-Steagall wall was devised to prevent a repeat of the 1920s’ scams, in which banks made speculative investments, turned the debts into securities, and sold them off to unsuspecting investors with the blessing of the bank. With Glass-Steagall, commercial banks were tightly supervised and given access to federal deposit insurance, to keep savings secure and prevent runs on banks. Investment banks, meanwhile, were not government-guaranteed and were free to do more speculative transactions for consenting adult customers. But Roosevelt’s newly created SEC subjected securities markets to much tighter structures against self-dealing and insider conflicts of interest.
If you fast forward to 2000, much of this protective apparatus has been repealed. Regulators who didn’t believe in regulation and a compliant Congress have allowed financial engineers to evade what remains. In the 1980s, regulators began allowing exceptions to Glass-Steagall. In 1999, Congress finally repealed it outright, permitting financial supermarkets like Citigroup to operate any kind of financial business they desired, and profit from multiple conflicts of interest. The scandals that pumped up the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, as well as the most flagrant cases like Enron, and the crash that followed, were the result of the SEC and the bank regulators ceasing to police conflicts of interest. In the scandals of the 1990s, corporate CEOs, their accountants, and stock analysts working for their bankers, all conspired to puff up corporate balance sheets and pump up stock prices on which executive bonuses depended. This is a little harder today, thanks to the honest accounting requirements of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act (which the Bush administration hopes to water down). But the same kinds of conflicts and potentials for abuse exist when a mega-bank underwrites a leveraged buyout by an affiliated hedge fund, and then hypes the sale of securities when the fund is ready to sell the company back to the public.
It’s time America learned from Japan to deal with their version of the bubble economy and the credit and real estate meltdowns…According to reliable sources America is going to be fucked in in FY2008 for Q1, Q2, Q3, with a slim chance of recovery in Q4 (assuming America is not officially in a recession).
GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks slide on rates outlook, soft retail
Thu May 10, 2007 9:45 AM ET
(Updates with Trichet news conference, Wall Street open)
By Lincoln Feast
LONDON, May 10 (Reuters) – Stocks and government bonds dipped on Thursday as the spectre of higher global interest rates dented sentiment following monetary policy decisions from central banks in the United States, Europe and Britain.
U.S. stock indexes opened lower after weaker-than-expected monthly sales reports from a number of U.S. retailers suggested consumer spending was slowing as the economy cooled.
The European Central Bank left interest rates steady at 3.75 percent, as expected, but President Jean-Claude Trichet said “strong vigilance” was needed to maintain price stability, a signal taken by markets to mean a hike would come next month.
“Bottom line is that they will hike in June and that 4 percent is not the peak. We keep seeing rates at 4.50 percent by year end,” Aurelio Maccario, an economist at Unicredit MIB, said of Trichet’s comments.
Earlier, the Bank of England raised interest rates to a six-year high of 5.5 percent, while the U.S. Federal Reserve left borrowing costs unchanged at 5.25 percent late on Wednesday but dampened the prospect of rapid rate cuts by highlighting ongoing inflation risks.
Data showing the U.S. trade deficit widened to an above-forecast $63.9 billion in March and a slight dip in weekly jobless claims helped government bonds recoup earlier losses.
Global stock indexes proved unable to push on to fresh record highs in the absence of any positive surprises on the interest rate outlook and as a widely speculated $100 billion-plus bid for mining giant Rio Tinto <RIO.L> from rival BHP Billiton <BLT.L> failed to materialise.
Rio shares fell 4 percent and BHP shares shed 3 percent.
MSCI’s All-Country World Index <.MIWD00000PUS> dipped 0.3 percent to 396.6 points, while Europe’s FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> was down 0.5 percent at 1,576.9 points by 1330 GMT.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 0.4 percent at 13,307.2 points in early trade, while the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> also fell 0.4 percent, to 2,565.6 points.
Asian markets fared better, with China’s main index, the Shanghai Composite <.SSEC>, hitting a record high in hectic trade as bullish retail investors ignored growing concern among institutions that the market had climbed dangerously high.
Japan’s Nikkei average <.N225> ended little changed as a fall in shares in Toyota Motor Corp. <7203.T> after disappointing earnings offset gains in the real estate sector.
LOW YIELDING YEN STRUGGLES
Both the dollar and the euro made ground against the yen on expectations that the strong yield advantage enjoyed over the Japanese unit is likely to be maintained for the time being.
“Yen crosses have been hit. (The yen) is the whipping boy of weak currencies at the moment,” said Jeremy Stretch, strategist at Rabobank.
Interest rates in Japan are just 0.5 percent.
The dollar was 0.3 percent firmer at 120.40 yen <JPY=>, while the euro was up a quarter percent at 162.90 yen <EURJPY=>, within a yen of its lifetime peak set last week.
The euro was unchanged at $1.3530 <EUR=>, having hit a record high above $1.3680 in April.
Sterling <GBP=> ticked lower to $1.9890 despite the Bank of England raised UK borrowing rates to the highest in the Group of Seven nations and hinting that rates could yet go higher.
U.S. Treasuries and euro zone government bonds recouped most of their earlier losses after the U.S. trade data and comments from Trichet on moderating inflation.
Benchmark 10-year Treasuries <US10YT=RR> yielded 4.66 percent, while the June Bund future <FGBLM7> was down 1 tick at 113.68.
Buoyed by supply disruptions in Nigeria, oil prices more than recouped the previous session’s losses which followed data showing a huge build in U.S. crude inventories. London Brent crude <LCOc1> was up 87 cents at $66.06 a barrel.
Today was a very bad day at the market. Many investors were either selling off their investments or shorting them to make the most of today’s news. Friday doesn’t appear to bode well for the Asian markets since many indices are opening with sharp declines in light of mediocre performance in the US and EU. Hopefully, these sharp declines will recover by the end of the year as many equities and funds suffered significant declines that nearly wiped out 2-3 months of gains.