Friday, 30 May 2008

Putting Profit above Principle

It has been announced that Tony Blair wants to ’devote his life to faith’. By ‘faith’ I suppose we are to understand ‘interfaith dialogue’, so as to try and ensure that we all live together in harmony.

This is a noble ambition indeed; unfortunately, however, there is one stumbling block: The nature of Islam!

For ‘interfaith dialogue’ to be meaningful, there has to be a readiness by all parties, in this case especially Jews, Christians, and Muslims, to compromise, for without compromise, interfaith dialogue becomes a meaningless exercise.

In Islam we find an implacable faith, an unyielding belief system founded on totally different principles than both Judaism and Christianity.

Christianity is based on love: The love of God, the love for God, the love of humanity. Islam, by contrast, is not a religion based on love; rather, it is based on total submission to Allah, and where there is no total submission to Him, we find the sword used to rein in the people. Indeed, Muhammad himself announced the sword to be an instrument of faith. Who, then, are we to argue with Muhammad’s declaration? How can we put a positive spin on that?

It is interesting to note that there is a maxim used by Muslims which states the following: ‘To convince stubborn unbelievers, there is no argument like the sword.’ [Source: Washington Irving: Mohammed]

For this reason, if for no other, it is difficult to see what Tony Blair hopes to achieve with his devotion to interfaith dialogue. How does he hope to change the nature of the faith of Islam? It is impossible to change nature. Indeed, can we change the nature of anything? And if this is so, then what hope have we of changing the nature of Islam, especially after more than fourteen hundred years?

The only man who could have changed its nature was the Prophet Muhammad himself. But as he is no longer around to make any changes, it is not going to be possible for mere mortals to change anything in that religion. You see, Islam is not a religion like Christianity anyway. Christianity has evolved, and has undergone a reformation. This reformation was made possible partly because Christianity, being based on the Bible, especially the New Testament, is to all but fundamentalist Christians considered to be a book that is inspired by God. The words contained therein are not generally considered to be God’s actual words.

In this respect, Islam is very different. Islam, as we all know, is based on the Qur’an, and that book is not considered be inspired by Allah; rather, Muslims consider the book to comprise the actual words of Allah as dictated to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel in the form of a recitation. In fact, the very meaning of ‘Al Qur’an’ is ‘The Recitation’.

The result of this difference between the holy books has led to two quite different civilizations and cultures. Muslims are very defensive of Islamic culture and civilization in a way that Westerners are not defensive of theirs.

Take our leaders. They are reluctant to face up to the fact that we have a huge problem on our hands with Islam in general, and with the rapid growth of Islam in the West in particular. In this reluctance, they are doing us no favours. On the contrary, they are remiss in their duties as guardians of our way of life, as guardians of our Judeo-Christian civilization.

What, for example, are our leaders doing to protect our values and our way of life? Interfaithing will offer no protection; actually, on the contrary, it will probably lead to compromise – the compromise of Westerners. To me it seems like a cop out. It is a smokescreen to enable the top echelons to put profit above principle.

The jihad which is being waged against the West threatens us all. It is not something we can afford to ignore; yet people are ignoring it, largely in the hope that it will go away. It won’t. If anything, it will get worse.

The jihad has many guises. One of the latest is the economic jihad being waged against capitalism. Only this morning, it was reported that there have been calls for Ireland to introduce Shari’ah-compliant finance as a matter of urgency. As a matter of urgency, no less! Why? So that Muslims living and working in Ireland can live their lives according to their faith, without feeling conflicted by the terms and conditions of living in the ‘evil’ capitalist system.

One can but ask oneself one question here: If living under capitalism is so onerous for these Muslims, then why did they come here to live in the first place?

The leaders of finance houses who are working so hard to introduce Shari’ah-compliant financial services and products seem to be oblivious to the fact that Islamic economics is competing in every respect with capitalism. Isn’t it true to say that the interest rate is the keystone of a capitalist economy? Take that keystone away and the whole system will start to fall apart.

In Islam, riba is frowned upon. But let’s get one thing straight: Riba is generally translated as usury, not as the interest rate per se. There is a world of difference between usury, which is the charging of extortionate rates of interest for loans, and the general interest rate which is not to be equated with such extortion. Yet nobody seems to be making any difference between them. The financiers appear to have been hoodwinked into believing that the interest rate is itself frowned upon in Islamic economics. It must be said that one’s definitions in this matter depend on the Islamic scholars one reads: Some scholars frown upon the interest rate altogether, calling it all usury, whilst others take a more liberal approach and make a distinction between a reasonable rate of interest and an extortionate rate.

Whichever is the case, the fact remains that Islamic economics is not compatible with the long-term interests of a capitalist economy. One can but worry about the tentacles of Islam tightening their grip on Western economies. Lest we forget, the old adage, He who pays the piper calls the tune comes to mind. We need not wait to learn that this is indeed true. We can discern the verity of the adage already when we look around us. Take the power of the petrodollar as a case in point. Its power is profound, and it can be felt around the globe.

It is one reason why our leaders and business people are reluctant to speak out. They are overcome by greed and fear: They are greedy to earn back the petrodollars, and they are fearful that if they speak out they will incur the wrath of the Muslims living in the West, and cut off our oil supplies into the bargain.

You see, they do not have the stomach for any form of confrontation. The sad reality is, however, that the West will not survive this onslaught without a confrontation of some kind or other. It’s just not possible. Muslims are too determined to replace our Judeo-Christian civilization with an Islamic one, too determined to replace capitalism with an Islamic economic system.

But by confrontation, I do not necessarily think that we need to go to war (though that cannot, of course, be ruled out in the long-run). But we do need to protect our own values and our own way of life. Alas, this is not happening. Our leaders are giving in at every turn. Appeasement of Muslims both at home and abroad is the norm of the day. It will do nothing for the West except accelarate the demise of our civilization, and accelerate the demise of capitalism, too.

Can’t the people in power see what they are doing? Are bankers and financiers so greedy that they are willing to bring down the West for their own short-term gain? Do they not realize that they are playing with fire? Do they really believe that capitalism and Islamic economics can co-exist? Can they really be that ignorant?

Personally, I think they are not; rather, I think these people are out to get all they can before the house of cards is brought down. Remember the fall of communism? Capitalism will fall equally easily if we do not pay more attention. It’s hard to believe, I know. But the introduction of Shari’ah-compliant finance and other Shari’ah-compliant products is just the start. It is the introduction of Shari’ah law by the back the door. Today it’s banking; tomorrow it will be Shari’ah enshrined in the laws of the land, enshrined in the constitutions of Western countries. How foolish our leaders, bankers and financiers are!

Before 9/11, it would have been hard to imagine that the West could have been so weak and unwilling to fight for a way of life we have come to expect and love. But it all started going wrong after those attacks, because we were too reluctant to state the case against Islam, clearly and unequivocally. The politicians have busied themselves making excuses for Islam and have deceived the public in so doing; the business people and bankers have busied themselves making money from the countries awash with petrodollars. And in so doing they have chosen to turn a blind eye to the financing, by Saudi Arabia, of the propagation of Wahhabi Islam in the West.

So what exactly is Tony Blair going to achieve with his lifetime spent interfaithing? Is he merely going to sell the West farther down the river? And in any case, what are his qualifications for doing this job? What does he know about Islam? And where has he learnt that which he does know?

One thing is for certain: People like Tony Blair are not going to learn the true nature of Islam by sitting in five star hotels in Bethlehem, talking to fabulously rich Muslims from oil-rich countries. To learn about the true nature of Islam one has to mix and talk with people at the grassroots level. The rich are generally Western-educated, indulge in alcohol, spend enormous amounts of money in casinos, live in the lap of luxury, and generally do not adhere strictly to their faith. They are also generally well-travelled; so they are not representative of the ordinary man in the Arab street. Ergo, little can be learnt from them when it comes to the faith of Islam.

Isn’t it high time that we all started taking stock? Isn’t it high time that we woke up to the reality which confronts us? Isn’t it high time that we started to put principle before profit?

©Mark Alexander

All Rights Reserved

Economic Jihad Spreads to Ireland; Shari’ah-Compliant Financial Services ‘Should’ Be Made Available to Muslims There as a Matter of Urgency

At this rate, capitalism will be dead in a short time. It took the West years to defeat communism. Western capitalism eventually won the day as it was seen to be superior. Indeed it was and still is superior. Islamic economics is now winning the day, though. And there has been no need of a Cold War, and no need for guns (or swords). All it has taken is intimidation of Westerners by an assertive Muslim population, a sense of subservience to the Gulf Arabs, especially the Saudis, ignorance of the true nature of Islam and its goals, a refusal to admit to the dangers of that faith, appeasement, meekness, and timidity on the part of Westerners who are afraid of confronting the ideology, a loss of belief in our own destiny, and a dogged determination on the part of our leaders and captains of industry NOT to call Islam what it actually is: A political system wrapped up in a deity.

The end of capitalism and liberty, dear readers, is nigh! - ©Mark

THE IRISH TIMES: THERE IS an “urgent need” for sharia-compliant financial services to be made available in Ireland so that Muslims living here do not contravene religious teachings, representatives from Irish financial institutions were told at a seminar on Islamic banking yesterday.

The seminar was held at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI), which is based at Ireland’s largest Sunni mosque in Clonskeagh, Dublin.

“We organised this conference because there is an urgent need for the Muslim community here to have mortgages and other financial services that do not drive them to break their Islamic teachings,” said Ali Selim, a theologian and secretary to Imam Hussein Halawa of the ICCI.

During yesterday’s seminar Imam Halawa outlined the religious tenets of Islam that forbid the payment or receipt of interest, known as riba.

Representatives from the Arab Banking Corporation’s London subsidiary and the Islamic Bank of Britain gave presentations on how the market for Islamic finance has developed in the UK in recent years.

Several high street banks in Britain now offer a variety of sharia-compliant services, including mortgages.

One of the most common types is based on the Islamic principles of “diminishing musharaka” or diminishing ownership. Under this scheme, the customer and bank jointly acquire a property, with the customer’s share usually similar to the normal deposit, but the property is bought in the bank’s name only.

The customer makes monthly payments made up of rent and contributions towards the purchase price over an agreed period of time.

The amount of rent decreases as the customer’s share in the property increases. Ownership is transferred when the customer eventually buys out the bank.

Similar partnerships are available so Muslim business people in the UK can avoid interest repayments.

Mr Selim told the seminar that as Ireland’s Muslim population increased there would be more demand for such services here. Call for Sharia-Compliant Finance Services to Be Available in Ireland >>> By Mary Fitzgerald | May 30, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The New Global Hunt for Tax Cheats

SPIEGELONLINE INTERNATIONAL: By forming multinational investigative teams, the IRS and other tax collectors are cracking down on evaders and giving new meaning to globalization.

Government authorities from Australia to the US are hunting big game together. Their prey? Wealthy tax evaders -- as well as the asset managers, banks, and accountants who help prosperous people conceal cash in offshore bank accounts. For decades, globalization has afforded an edge to tax cheats. Now it's working for the tax cops, too.

Buoyed by new multinational investigative teams, agreements with banks to open once-secret records, tougher penalties for cheats and third parties, and a thirst for billions of dollars in recoverable revenue, the new globe-spanning tax man has got the world's mega-rich worried they could run afoul of the mounting crackdown.

With so much money at stake, it's no wonder the US Internal Revenue Service, Germany's Bundesministerium der Finanzen, Britain's Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs, and other international colleagues are eager to nab wealthy tax evaders. Almost $6 trillion is estimated to be hidden from tax authorities across the globe -- Germany's central bank suggests $775 billion in German assets alone have been secreted out of the country. In the US, the IRS reckons $295 billion of potential tax revenue goes uncollected -- much of it because of underreported income. With governmental budgets strained everywhere, leaders are eager to mop up those missing payments. The New Global Hunt for Tax Cheats >>> By Keith Epstein and Mark Scott | May 27, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback – USA)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardcover – USA)
View from Europe: The European Central Bank

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The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)

Friday, 23 May 2008

Violence in South Africa Spreads to Cape Town

Watch BBC video: The makeshift camps where displaced foreigners seek shelter

BBC: Violence against foreigners in South Africa spread to Cape Town overnight with people assaulted and shops looted.

"Groups within the crowd started to loot shops owned by Zimbabweans and other foreigners," police spokesman Billy Jones told AFP news agency.

He said hundreds of African migrants had fled Cape Town's Dunoon squatter camp and 12 arrests had been made.

Officials are to meet to discuss how the wave of violence has hit South Africa's crucial mining industry.

More than 40 people have died and some 15,000 people have sought shelter since the violence initially flared up in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra almost two weeks ago. SA Violence Spreads to Cape Town >>> | May 23, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)

Thursday, 22 May 2008

EU-Wide ‘Super Regulator’ Poses Threat to City of London

THE TELEGRAPH: A top cast of European statesmen has issued a blistering denunciation of financial markets and called for a creation of a pan-EU body to protect the citizens against the "social risk" posed by modern capitalism.

"The financial world has accumulated a massive amount of fictitious capital, with very little improvement for humanity," said the group in an open letter to the European Commission and the EU presidency.

"The current financial crisis is no accident. It was not, as some top people in finance and politics now claim, impossible to predict. For lucid individuals the bell rang years ago. This crisis is a failure of poorly or unregulated markets, and shows us, once more, that the financial market is not capable of self-regulation," it said, calling for the a new "European Crisis Committee" to take the matter in hand.

"Free markets cannot ignore social morals. Decent capitalism needs effective public policy. But when everything is for sale, social cohesion melts and the system breaks down," it said.

The letter is signed by former premiers and finance ministers from Europe's socialist bloc, including ex-German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, France's Lionel Jospin and Michel Rocard, and former Commission chief Jacques Delors. While the initiative comes from the Left, it is in tune with the views of French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Both have called for measures to clamp down on "speculation".

The fulminating text is the clearest evidence yet of the mounting drive for an EU-wide "super regulator", which would reduce Britain's Financial Services Authority to a regional branch - and pose a grave threat to the City of London. EU-Wide ‘Super Regulator’ Poses Threat to City of London >>> By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | May 22, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Warren Buffett: Presidential Endorsement

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback – USA)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardcover – USA)
An Orgy of Excess for Roman Abramovich, the Man Raised in Hardship in Siberia: From Selling Plastic Ducks to Buying Luxurious Yachts and Prized Works of Art

Photo of Roman Abramovich, who lives under constant fear of assassination, courtesy of Google Images

DAILY EXPRESS: LAST week Roman Abramovich spent £61m on just two paintings to add to the fleet of yachts, homes and luxury toys amassed by a billionaire who seems to spend his money like there’s no tomorrow...

The russians call it “muzhik”. It used to mean “peasant man” but it now translates as “nouveau riche”. And after growing up as an orphan close to the Arctic Circle, being so very newly rich clearly drives Roman Abramovich.

The 41-year-old owner of Chelsea Football Club, Britain’s richest man and the 16th richest in the world, is worth an astronomical £12billion and he certainly knows how to spend it. 

It was rumoured at the weekend that the buyer of both Francis Bacon’s 1976 Triptych (sold for £44million) and the controversial Benefits Supervisor Sleeping by Lucian Freud (£17million – a world record for a living artist), sold at auctions in New York last week, is none other than the former Lada-driving, plastic duck salesman from Siberia.

When you’ve known hardship as Roman has and now exist under constant threat of assassination, perhaps there’s little point in letting your hard-won roubles accumulate in the bank. Here [at the Daily Express] we reveal how this highly secretive man likes to splash just some of his mega-cash… >>> By Jane Warren | May 20, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)
In the Netherlands, 'Fat Cats' Threaten Government over Looming 'Fat Cat' Crackdown

THE INDEPENDENT: The Dutch government has provoked uproar among the country's business leaders by proposing laws to curb large bonuses and golden handshakes for company bosses.

The Finance minister Wouter Bos launched the "fat cat" crackdown following a series of recent scandals involving "unjustifiable" payouts to prominent business figures. However despite government support, Mr Bos's proposals are under attack from Dutch blue-chips such as Philips, Shell and Unilever, whose chairmen argue they will damage Holland's international competitiveness and drive away corporate talent. "It's something everyone in Europe is concerned about, especially now the economic downturn is starting to bite," said Mr Bos. "You can't expect employees to tighten their belts while those at the top are being paid ever-bigger bonuses, which are often not even linked to their performance. Public support for entrepreneurs will plummet if this continues."

Mr Bos, who leads the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA), has put forward new laws that would slap taxes on companies for over-rewarding bosses. Under the proposed legislation, which is currently making its way through parliament, companies would have to pay a 30 percent tax on severance packages, or "golden parachutes", of more than €500,000 (£398,000), paid to executives when they leave a company. In addition, an extra tax would be levied in cases when company pensions are paid out to executives earning more than €500,000.

There is mounting speculation that Royal Dutch Shell may decide to move its headquarters out of The Hague. Shell's chief executive Jeroen van der Veer said in a newspaper interview: "Either you have a headquarters and accept as part of the bargain that large numbers of people earn high salaries, or you don't. I've noticed there is very little understanding for the needs of a large company. I find this disturbing." Bosses Threaten Dutch Plan to Cap 'Fat Cat' Pay >>> By Vanessa Mock in Brussels | May 19, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)

Monday, 19 May 2008

Teachers Throng Paris over Cuts

BBC: At least 20,000 people have marched through central Paris protesting against the French government's plans to cut jobs in the education sector.

The protestors are also unhappy about President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to force schools to stay open in the event of strike action.

Mr Sarkozy was elected a year ago on a platform of reforms, but many of them have provoked stiff opposition.

Separately, fishermen angered by rising fuel costs blockaded La Rochelle port.

A cordon of 90 fishing boats cut off access to the commercial harbour La Pallice on France's Atlantic coast for a fourth day running.

Fisherman also blocked off three fuel depots that serve much of western France, by piling palettes up on their access roads.

They promised to maintain their protest until talks with the government open on Wednesday, AFP news agency reported.

Sarkozy's gamble

In Paris, organisers said 45,000 people joined the protest against education reforms, though police put the number at 20,000.

Unions are hoping that a head of steam is building up against the government's reform plans, says BBC correspondent Hugh Schofield in Paris.

Ministers want to cut 11,000 jobs in schools and universities this year, mainly by not replacing those who retire. Teachers Throng Paris over Cuts >>> May 18, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Broché)
The Dawning of a new Dark Age (Relié)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Al Yamamah: BAE Bosses Detained by US Authorities

Photo of Mike Turner, chief executive of BAE Systems, courtesy of The Sunday Telegraph

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: Two senior executives at Britain's biggest defence company were detained last week by American authorities investigating corruption allegations, the Telegraph has learnt.

Mike Turner, the chief executive of BAE Systems, was held with a senior colleague as they landed in America. Personal electronic equipment, including laptops and BlackBerries, was seized and examined before the pair were released.

The detentions are part of an investigation by the US Department of Justice into allegations surrounding the £43 billion al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia. BAE has been accused of making tens of millions of pounds in illegal payments to Saudi officials, although the company maintains it has always acted lawfully.

In December 2006 the Government announced that the Serious Fraud Office was dropping its investigation into the al-Yamamah deal, prompting political controversy. America is continuing its inquiries.

The detention of the BAE executives, understood to have been at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, has raised serious concerns at high levels of the Government about "heavy-handed" treatment.

The detentions follow the case of the "NatWest Three", British businessmen each sentenced to 37 months in prison in America this year, and threatens to harm US-UK relations in the run-up to the Group of Eight summit of leading industrial nations in Japan in July.

About the same time as Mr Turner and his unnamed colleague were being detained last week, a number of US-based BAE executives had their homes raided by authorities, The Telegraph understands. BAE Systems Inc, a subsidiary of British-based parent BAE Systems plc, has 43,000 employees in America.

A Foreign Office official expressed concern last night about the way Mr Turner and his colleague, who were on their way to a business meeting, had been treated. He said: "It was pretty heavy-handed. They had their laptops taken away and their documents photocopied."

British officials in Washington were informed of the incident on Monday when Mr Turner, a 59-year-old father of four, alerted military contacts at the embassy. He is also understood to have called contacts in the American government.

The Foreign Office official said it was clear that the American authorities were expecting the men's arrival. "They knew they were coming and they prepared the whole thing," he said. Mr Turner, who was back home in Britain this weekend, is expected to return to the US shortly in ­connection with the corruption investigation. BAE Bosses Detained by US Investigators over Saudi Case >>> By Patrick Hennessy and Tim Shipman | May 18, 2008

US Detains BAE Bosses over Saudi Contracts >>> By Gaby Hinsliff | May 18, 2008

Second BAE Boss Detained in US >>> By Russell Hotten, Industry Editor | May 19, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
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Bis 2020 beschert Öl Golf-Staaten sechs Billionen Dollar

WELT ONLINE: Es ist eine gigantische Summe: Nach einer Schätzung des DIHK werden die Golf-Staaten wie Saudi-Arabien und die Emirate bis 2020 rund sechs Billionen Dollar einnehmen – nur durch den Verkauf von Öl. Nun will Finanzminister Steinbrück das Geld zurück nach Deutschland holen.

Der Höhenflug des Ölpreises macht die Golf-Staaten zu Top-Adressen der internationalen Finanzwelt. Denn in den Wüstenstaaten türmen sich viele der Milliarden, die Industrie und Autofahrer weltweit mittlerweile für ihre Tankfüllungen ausgeben müssen. Bundes-finanzminister Peer Steinbrück reist von Montag bis Donnerstag erstmals in die Region. In Kuwait und Dubai will er ergründen, wo und wie die Scheichs ihren rasant wachsenden Reichtum anlegen wollen – und was davon für die deutsche Wirtschaft abfällt.

„Die Golf-Staaten verfügen mittlerweile über gigantische Liquidität“, rechnet der Nah- und Mittelostexperte des Deutschen Industrie- und Handelskammertages (DIHK), Felix Neugart, vor. Schätzungen zufolge könnten Saudi-Arabien und die Emirate am Persischen Golf bis 2020 mit Einnahmen in Höhe von sechs Billionen US-Dollar rechnen. Davon werde ein Teil in die Infrastruktur der Länder selbst investiert, der überwiegende Teil aber in Unternehmensbeteiligungen auf der ganzen Welt.

Dazu bedienen sich die dortigen Regierungen staatlicher Investitionsbehörden, in denen die Petrodollar gebündelt werden. Der größte Staatsfonds der Welt, ADIA, sitzt in den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten, zu denen Dubai zählt. Schätzungsweise verfügt er schon jetzt über gut 850 Milliarden Dollar. Das Geld steckt in der US-Industrie, im europäischen Luftfahrtkonzern EADS, aber auch in der Deutschen Bank. In Kuwait residiert der älteste Staatsfonds KIA, gegründet vor 54 Jahren. Er hält einen Anteil von 7,2 Prozent an Daimler und hat sich auch in Krisen als verlässlich erwiesen.

Die Frage ist, ob es auf Dauer bei eher konservativen und passiven Investments bleibt, oder ob die Scheichs aktiver werden und mehr Mitsprache fordern, wenn die Billionen sprudeln. Die Finanzkrise haben arabische Staatsfonds bereits massiv genutzt, um sich Anteile an internationalen Großbanken zu kaufen – damit bekommen sie Zugriff aus das empfindliche Nervenzentren der Weltwirtschaft. Andererseits, das betont Steinbrück, haben sie Instituten wie der Citigroup oder UBS bei der notwendigen Rekapitalisierung geholfen und sie stabilisiert. Bi 2020 beschert Öl Golf Staaten sechs Billionen Dollar >>> | 18. Mai 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Taschenbuch)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Gebundene Ausgabe)

Friday, 16 May 2008

”Let Them Eat Sand”

As I have been saying all along, the Saudis need us every bit as much as we need their oil. It’s high time to remind them of this fact. Remember this: Arabs respect strong people, not wimps. By behaving in a weak manner with Arabs, you get nowhere. They’ll walk all over you. Our political leaders do just that: Behave in a weak manner, and fawn. Quit it!- ©Mark

Photo of George W Bush with Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia, the king’s brother, courtesy of The Telegraph

THE TELEGRAPH: When President George Bush went to see Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in January to plead for higher oil output, he was politely rebuffed.

The rematch today is likely to be a great deal more strained.

If the Saudis deny help once again, they risk incalculable damage to their strategic alliance with Washington. The price of crude has rocketed by over $30 a barrel since that last fruitless meeting, briefly touching the once unthinkable level of $127.

Goldman Sachs fears a "super-spike" to $200 a barrel this year.

Asked what he would tell King Abdullah this time, Mr Bush said caustically: "the price is even higher."

Indeed, it is, especially the political price.

The US-Saudi tango has been on thin ice ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Sixteen of the hijackers were Saudi nationals.

The Bush family has cleaved closely to the Saudi monarchy, but strong factions in Washington see Riyadh's Wahabi monarchy as part of the Mid-East problem-- not the solution.

Saudi Arabia's one saving grace -- in the eyes of US critics -- is that it has over the years been willing to cap extreme surges in the price of oil, deploying its power as the world's swing producer. This time Riyadh is giving no ground.

Oil minister Ali al-Naimi insists that there is plenty of oil about, blaming the latest spike on "the internal logic of the financial markets”, meaning hedge funds and speculators. The US Congress gave its riposte this week.

New York Senator Charles Schumer is pushing for sanctions against Saudi Arabia, targeting $1.4bn in sales of bomb kits, light armoured vehicles, as well as gear for AWACS aircraft and F-15 fighters.

"You need our arms, but we need you to cooperate and not strangle American consumers.

"Saudi Arabia could do a lot more than they have done," he said.

The Democrats are also pushing legislation that would penalize the OPEC producers cartel for "anti-competitiveness practices".

The Bush White House has rolled its eyes in exasperation at such blunt methods, but hot feelings are aroused in American public discourse.

There have been calls for a food blockade of the Arabian peninsular on the US talk radio circuit. "Let them eat sand", has been the rallying cry of the shock-jocks. OPEC has -- in effect -- cut production repeatedly. US-Saudi Oil Axis Faces Day of Truth >>> By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | May 16, 2008

THE TELEGRAPH:>Oil Could Hit $200 in 'Super-Spike' >>> By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | May 10, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Recession Danger Is Real, Warns Mervyn King

THE TELEGRAPH: The British economy faces the real risk of falling into recession, the Governor of the Bank of England has admitted.

Mervyn King warned families to brace themselves for a further "squeeze" on household finances as rising energy bills and food prices continue to rise.

Mr King said that inflation was set to increase sharply to about 3.7 per cent - almost double the official target. As a result most British people will feel poorer this year as pay rises fail to keep pace with rising costs.

The Governor - who said that "the nice decade is behind us" - also warned homeowners that property prices would fall further and that it was impossible to predict the scale of the decline.

He became the first senior public figure to openly discuss the possibility that the British economy may now be heading for recession. The economy was "travelling along a bumpy road" and that a sharp downturn could not be ruled out, he said. Recession Danger Is Real, Warns Mervyn King >>> By Robert Winnett | May 15, 2008

Financial Crisis: Labour's History Is Repeating >>> By Edmund Conway | May 15, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)
Brussels Plans Crackdown on Car Advertising

SPIEGELONLINE INTERNATIONAL: The European Union bureaucracy is on a roll: After imposing restrictions on how tobacco, alcohol and food products can be advertised, it has set its sights on gas-guzzling cars. But German manufacturers and media conglomerates warn the financial impact could be devastating.

Only a select few VIPs are allowed to park on the paved lot directly next to the entrance to the enormous Berlaymont building in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Commission. The luxury sedans lined up in the parking lot include Audis, BMWs, Jaguars and Mercedes. The chauffeurs keep the engines running in the winter to stay warm, and in the summer to keep their energy-consuming air-conditioning systems going.

The contents of the Berlaymont's parking lot are especially impressive on Wednesdays, when European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and the 26 European Union commissioners gather around the conference table on the 14th floor. They often discuss climate protection, and what ought to be done to promote it.

To buck the trend, Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas has chosen a Japanese hybrid (more...) known for its low emissions as his official vehicle. His position apparently makes this practically a requirement, but he's the exception rather than the rule. His fellow commissioners see no reason to revise their automotive preferences. "We commissioners travel a lot," says one of them, "and we need large, comfortable and fast cars."

Though clearly a topic that they have no serious interest in pursuing when it comes to their own luxury sedans, the commissioners are poised to tackle the issue in a way that will affect everyone else in Europe. Europe's lawmakers want to restrict and regulate automobile advertising. Their hope is that most drivers will lose interest in large cars and finally turn to more frugal models. Brussels Plans Crackdown on Car Advertising >>> By Hans-Jürgen Schlamp in Brussels | May 15, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Fat Cats Look Out! Europe Wants to Slim You Down!

Angela Merkel has called for a crackdown on the 'fat cat' abuses after Porsche chief pocketed €60m last year. Photo courtesy of The Telegraph

THE TELEGRAPH: A group of key EU finance ministers will today launch an assault on the rewards earned by bankers and top managers in a move that poses a potential threat to the City of London.

A confidential document prepared for the gathering in Brussels finds the "short-term" pay structure of modern capitalism has become deformed, causing firms to take on "excessive risk" without regard to the interests of stakeholders or society.

While there is no concrete legislation on the table, ministers are eyeing curbs on stock options, bonuses and golden parachutes.

The move is a clear sign that the EU noose is tightening on bankers, funds and corporate elites that have enjoyed light-touch regulation.

Today's meeting is being held under the auspices of the Eurogroup, the quasi-official club of eurozone finance ministers. The forum excludes Britain and free market allies from Eastern Europe.

Shutting out Chancellor Alistair Darling enables Berlin and Paris to create a head of steam behind possible legislation that could undermine London's competitiveness as the world's leading financial centre.

The text for the meeting - leaked to Spanish newspaper El Pais - indicts the Anglo-Saxon market model as a danger to global financial stability and castigates firms for chasing "immediate profits at the cost of massive sackings".

The loose plans are part of a slew of proposals floated in Europe over recent months aimed at disciplining the market. Ideas have included a pan-European regulator, curbs on private equity and restraints on sovereign wealth funds. None has yet crystalised into a draft EU directive.

EU governments are paying close attention to a law going to the Dutch parliament this month. It imposes a 30pc supertax on pay packages above €500,000 (£398,000) and limits bonuses and stock options to 100pc of pay - far below the windfalls made by UK-based traders and bankers at the height of the credit bubble. EU to Launch Assault on Bankers' Bonuses >>> By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor | May 13, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)

Friday, 9 May 2008

"Neuer schnell wachsender Markt"

ISLAMISCHE ZEITING: (iz) So genannte „scharia-konforme“ Hotels wachsen im gesamten Nahen Osten und anderswo wie Pilze aus dem Boden, verstärkt durch einen Anstieg der Zahl arabischer Touristen. Die Entwickler dieser Hotels glauben, dass sie sowohl Muslime als auch Nichtmuslime ansprechen werden, da sie eine kulturell einmalige und entspannende Atmosphäre für Reisende bieten. Die Nachfrage nach scharia-konformen Unterkünften sei im Anstieg begriffen und stelle bereits jetzt etwa 10 Prozent des weltweiten Tourismus-Marktes, sagt Abdulla Almulla, Chairman der in Dubai ansässigen Almulla Hospitality. Während einer Rede auf der Arabian Investment Conference sagte Almulla, dass seine Firma plane, bis zum Jahr 2015 eine internationale Kette von 150 scharia-konformen Hotels aufgebaut zu haben, von denen rund 90 im Nahen und Mittleren Osten und Nordafrika gelegen sein sollen. "Neuer schnell wachsender Markt": "Scharia-konforme" Hotelketten - nicht nur für Muslime interessant >>>

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Taschenbuch)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Turning towards Mecca

THE ECONOMIST: CHINA is not the only financial powerhouse with its hungry eye on Africa. Flush with oil wealth, the Gulf states, too, are spying profitable opportunities among the hundreds of millions of Muslims who live just a hop across the Red Sea. Africa's economies are growing fast, thanks in large part to the commodities boom. Although many people on the continent do not have a bank account, the banking systems in some countries are growing increasingly sophisticated. Bankers from the Gulf hope that the middle class, particularly in the Muslim north, will turn to Islamic finance, and that firms will raise money through Islamic bonds, known as sukuk. Moody's, a credit-rating agency, reckons that although Islamic finance was worth a puny $18 billion at the end of last year, its potential is close to $235 billion—about half what it estimates as the GDP of Africa's Muslim population.

So far, forays from the Gulf into Africa have been limited to a few countries. Sudan—where only sharia-compliant finance is allowed in the north—dominates, holding over half of Africa's Islamic-banking assets. A number of Gulf banks, familiar with the country's language and oil resources, have joined forces with Sudanese investors to open Islamic banks. Last year the first sukuk from Africa was issued by a Sudanese cement firm. Reportedly, the government also tapped the market in January—selling bonds to Gulf investors to sidestep American economic sanctions over the massacres in Darfur.

But Sudan's banking industry remains embryonic and few African countries combine the strong desire to promote Islamic banking with heavy demand from Muslim customers. “Islamic banking is a luxury product,” admits Anouar Hassoune of Moody's: it tends to do better in places with established banking systems, such as South Africa and Kenya. South Africa's only Islamic bank, Albaraka, was set up in 1989. Last year the Kenyan authorities licensed two Islamic banks, Gulf African Bank and First Community Bank, both backed by Gulf investment.

Western banks are also dipping their toes in. In Kenya Barclays was the first to offer an Islamic bank account appropriately named La Riba, meaning “no interest”. South Africa's ABSA opened an Islamic banking division in 2006. It offers phone, internet and branch banking. Its head, Ahmed Moola, says the division was profitable last year, though he declines to discuss numbers. Turning towards Mecca: Islamic banks join the race for Africa >>> |May 8, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)
Celebrating 10 Years of the Euro

Photo of euros courtesy of Google Images

BBC: When the euro was launched there were plenty of people who thought it would crash and burn.

Ten years on, its role as a global currency is secure, even if it hasn't achieved everything its founders hoped.

Wednesday is the 10th anniversary of the agreement that launched the single currency.

However, residents of the first 12 EU states that adopted the euro didn't begin using euro banknotes and coins until 1 January, 2002.

Things didn't start out so well.

The euro spent its early life hitting record lows against the dollar - but now it is the greenback that's falling.

Tourists and exporters in the eurozone have to cope with the euro at a record high. Many in Europe are now bracing themselves for the effects of the slowdown in America.

Stronger position

But as the European Commission is keen to remind us, for once the eurozone economies are coming into this credit crunch from a position of relative strength.

About 16 million jobs have been created in the eurozone since the birth of the euro, and unemployment has fallen, from 9% in 1999 to 7% in 2007.

In contrast to the UK, most governments also have room to cut taxes to boost growth if they need to: the average budget deficit in the eurozone countries last year fell to record low of 0.6% of GDP. Celebrating 10 Years of the Euro? >>> By Stephanie Flanders, economics editor, BBC news | May 7, 2008

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Inflation in Kuwait a National Challenge

AFP: KUWAIT CITY — Central Bank governor Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz al-Sabah warned on Wednesday that oil-rich Kuwait was faced with a "national challenge" after inflation hit 9.5 percent in January.

Sheikh Salem called for "coordination in various national economic policies to curb rising inflation," in a statement carried by the official KUNA news agency.

"Inflation constitutes a national challenge and was the result of local and foreign factors," he said.

The government Central Statistic Office said last month that the consumer price index in January hit 126.4 points, compared to 115.4 points a year ago, because of a sharp increase in housing services and the price of food.

The cost of housing services rose 16.1 percent in January compared to a year ago, while the price of beverages and tobacco rose 15.1 percent during the same period.

Medical care and education rose by 12 percent, household services 10 percent and foodstuffs by 7.7 percent.

The governor said inflation in Kuwait remained at around 1.1 percent between 2000 and 2004, and jumped to 4.1 percent in 2005 and to an annual average of 5.5 last year.

However, monthly inflation rates began rising rapidly since July last year. High Inflation in Kuwait a National Challenge: Governor >>>

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback – USA)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardcover – USA)
Western Banks Rush to Fill the Demand for Islamic Banking and Finance

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)
This Video Shows How Islamic Economics Is in Direct Competition with Capitalism. It Will Eventually Bring the System Down!

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback – USA)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardcover – USA)

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Islamic Banks ‘Are Making Their Mark’

GULF DAILY NEWS: MANAMA: A new report from a global strategic management consulting firm shows that Islamic banks are making their mark in non-Muslim countries.

The AT Kearney study reveals that these wholesale banks target a broad set of corporate, institutional and high net worth clients, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

While Sharia-compliant banking has traditionally focused on the GCC and Malaysia, there has recently been a dramatic increase in the number of Islamic banks outside the core markets, most remarkably in the UK, where the number of Islamic banks has more than doubled over the past 12 months.

At the same time, their products remain popular in their core markets, where Islamic banks consistently outgrow their conventional competitors.

"While Islamic banks in their core markets take a universal banking approach, with retail, corporate and investment banking business lines, they focus on wholesale banking in the UK," said AT Kearney Middle East manager of financial services Dr Alexander von Pock.

Assets in the Islamic banking sector grew to over $250 billion globally in 2006, according to the UK Treasury. Islamic Banks ‘Are Making [Their] Mark’ >>>

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)
Oil Could Reach $200 a Barrel

BBC: The price of crude oil could soar to $200 a barrel in as little as six months, as supply continues to struggle to meet demand, a report has warned.

With benchmark US light crude passing the $122 mark for the first time on Tuesday, the warning comes from Goldman Sachs energy strategist Argun Murti.

Surging demand was increasingly likely to create a "super-spike" past $200 in six months to two years' time, he said.

Oil prices have now risen 25% in the last four months and by 400% from 2001.

Mr Murti correctly predicted three years ago - when oil was about $55 a barrel - that it would pass $100, which it reached for the first time in January of this year. Oil Price ‘May Hit $200 a Barrel’ >>>

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)
A Muslim's Viewpoint: Bilal Philips - Interest and Islamic Banking

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback - UK)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardback - UK)

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

New Head of Islamic Banking Unit Appointed by Citigroup

HOT FINANCIAL NEWS!: Citigroup steps up its Islamic banking operations. It has appointed the former head of its Middle East debt capital markets group as its chief executive of business.

Samad Sirohey has become the head of Citi Islamic investment bank and the head of global investment banking.

Investment banks are redeploying much of their top talent to the Middle East, hoping to secure revenues from one of the fastest-growing regions in the world at a time when their more established businesses are struggling because of the credit crisis.

The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Paperback – USA)
The Dawning of a New Dark Age (Hardcover – USA)