Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Obama Opens Up East Coast for Oil Drilling

The President is due to announce his plans later today in scheduled remarks on "energy security". Photograph: Times Online

TIMES ONLINE: President Obama will today announce plans to open huge swaths of the US coastline to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time.

The affected areas include 167 million acres (259,000 square miles) of ocean along the vast Atlantic coastline as well as eastern parts of the Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska.

The proposals, which Mr Obama is due to announce later today at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington in scheduled remarks on "energy security", are designed to reduce America's dependence on imported oil.

But The New York Times said it was far from clear whether they would achieve their more immediate political aim: winning crucial Republican support for energy and climate change legislation due to go before the Senate in the next few weeks.

"While Mr Obama has staked out middle ground on other environmental matters — supporting nuclear power, for example — the sheer breadth of the offshore drilling decision will take some of his supporters aback," the newspaper reported.

"And it is no sure thing that it will win support for a climate bill from undecided senators close to the oil industry, like Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, or Mary L Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana."

The proposals would end a longstanding moratorium on East Coast exploration for natural resources, a move that would please oil companies but is likely to outrage environmental groups and residents of coastal areas. >>> Times Online | Wednesday, March 31, 2010

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time >>> John M. Broder | Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Obama's New Mortgage Mess

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Gulf Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al-Nahyan Found Dead in Morocco

THE TELEGRAPH: The boss of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund, has been found dead in Morocco.

Gulf sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al-Nahyan was ranked 27th on the Forbes list of the most powerful people in the world. Photograph: The Telegraph

Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who directed ADIA's recent acquisition of 15pc of Gatwick Airport, was found four days after his glider aircraft went missing. He was 40.

ADIA, which is thought to have assets worth $627bn (£420bn), declined to comment.

The Sheikh had no deputy director. However, sources close to the fund said that a succession plan is being worked on.

Ranked 27th on the Forbes list of the most powerful people in the world, Sheikh Ahmed was also a half-brother of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Abu Dhabi's ruler and the president of the United Arab Emirates.

Sheikh Ahmed took control of ADIA in 1997 where he was described as "very hands on" in investment decisions. The sovereign wealth fund's most high-profile investment was a stake of about 4pc in Citigroup. >>> Louise Armitstead, Chief City Correspondent | Tuesday, March 30, 2010

TIMES ONLINE: Sovereign wealth fund boss found dead in Morocco: A team of French and Moroccan divers have found the body of an Emirati sheikh who headed the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, four days after the ultralight glider he was travelling in crashed into a lake near Rabat. >>> Philippe Naughton | Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Sean Hannity: This Is Socialism

Sean Hannity: We Can Take Our Country Back

Friday, 26 March 2010

Russian Gems Giant Beats Records

Canadians Hit the Jackpot in Race to Run National Lottery

TIMES ONLINE: The National Lottery has been sold to a Canadian pension fund in a £389 million deal announced last night.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which has stakes in Northumbrian Water and Bristol and Birmingham airports, fought off strong competition from the private equity fund CVC Capital Partners to secure the deal, which has to be approved by the National Lottery Commission.

Ontario is the largest single-profession pension fund in Canada. It has C$87.4 billion under management and looks after the pensions of 284,000 teachers.

Camelot, which has run the lottery since it began in 1994, was put up for sale last year after Royal Mail succumbed to pressure from the group’s other shareholders — the banknote printer De La Rue, Cadbury, Fujitsu and the French defence company Thales — which all wanted to sell.

Ontario’s enthusiasm for Camelot is thought to have come from the possibility of winning another lottery licence when the current one runs out in nine years and even expanding the game overseas. Camelot holds an option to extend its licence by a further five years. >>> Peter Stiff | Friday, March 26, 2010
Euro Bounces Back on Greece Bailout Plan

TIMES ONLINE: The euro bounced back from a ten-month low today, after eurozone leaders agreed on a joint bailout package for Greece with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The European single currency was up against the dollar by 0.45 per cent to $1.3335 after earlier lows of below $1.3280. The euro has fallen by almost 7 per cent so far this quarter on concerns about the Greek debt crisis.

Yesterday, in a deal driven by Germany and France, EU leaders agreed on sweeping new powers to co-ordinate all EU economies as part of the landmark €30 billion (£27 million) bailout package for Greece.

However, analysts warned that the euro was still at risk of further declines as the Greece plan had not alleviated long-term worries about Portugal and Spain. On Wednesday, Fitch Ratings lowered Portugal's sovereign credit rating to AA-minus from AA.

The Greece bailout plan plan will put Herman Van Rompuy, of Belgium, the new permanent European Council President, in charge of “the economic governance of Europe”.

It will be seen as a direct challenge to Gordon Brown, who will want to make sure that Britain does not surrender any control over its own economy to Brussels. The next government in London may also face a tough fight in Europe because Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, suggested yesterday that a new treaty would be needed to give the EU extra economic powers — despite the pledge from EU leaders last year that the Lisbon treaty would be good for a decade. >>> David Charter, Rory Watson, Francesca Steele | Friday, March 26, 2010

Union Européenne : «La zone euro ne laissera jamais tomber la Grèce»

LE TEMPS: Un accord a finalement été trouvé tard dans la nuit à Bruxelles. Les pays de la zone euro entérinent la constitution d’un filet de sécurité pour empêcher que la crise grecque ne dégénère. Ils sont prêts à accorder des prêts bilatéraux aux côtés du FMI dans une proportion qui pourrait être de deux tiers, un tiers. L’euro est repassé au-dessus de 1,33 dollar ce matin

L’accord sur un mécanisme d’aide financière à la Grèce sur lequel étaient tombés d’accord jeudi après-midi le président Nicolas Sarkozy et la chancelière Angela Merkel a finalement été entériné jeudi, tard dans la soirée, par les chefs d’Etat et de gouvernement de la zone euro. «La zone euro prend son destin en main et s’est mise d’accord pour gérer les crises [en son sein]» s’est réjoui peu après le président français. Même Jean-Claude Trichet, le responsable de la BCE opposé à tout soutien, s’est dit «très heureux» d’un plan «préservant la responsabilité des pays de la zone». «Ce mécanisme ne se substitue pas à la discipline financière, c’est un filet de sécurité», a précisé plus tard dans la nuit José Manuel Barroso, président de la Commission européenne. Filet de sécurité >>> Pierre-Alexandre Sallier Bruxelles | Vendredi 26 Mars 2010
EU Draws Up Plans for Single 'Economic Government' to Prevent Crisis

THE TELEGRAPH: Germany and France have tabled controversial plans to create an "economic government of the European Union" to police financial policy across the continent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the summit of European Union leaders in Brussels. Photo: The Telegraph

They have put Herman Van Rompuy, the EU President, in charge of a special task force to examine "all options possible" to prevent another crisis like the one caused by the Greek meltdown.

His mission will be to draw up a master-plan for the best way to oversee and enforce economic targets set in Brussels as a key part of a bail-out package for Greece.

The options he will consider include the creation of an "economic government" by the by the end of the year.

"We commit to promote a strong co-ordination of economic policies in Europe," said a draft text expected to be agreed by EU leaders last night.

"We consider that the European Council should become the economic government of the EU and we propose to increase its role in economic surveillance and the definition of the EU's growth strategy."

Gordon Brown was last night examining the wording of the statement to see whether it was restricted to eurozone members or has possible implications for British economic sovereignty.

Officials are concerned that the language calling for an "economic government" could be another attempt at a power-grab in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty. >>> Bruno Waterfield in Brussels | Thursday, March 25, 2010

THE TELEGRAPH: EU backtracks on 'economic government plan': The European Union has backtracked on plans to create an "economic government of the European Union" following protests from Britain. >>> | Friday, March 26, 2010
Once Again, the French Are Leading the Way*! French Billionaire Antoine Zacharias Faces Criminal Trial Over Pay Deal

THE TELEGRAPH: A French millionaire [billionaire?] has become the first person in the country to go on trial for being paid too much, in a ground-breaking move against "corporate greed".

Antoine Zacharias is facing criminal charges. Photo: The Telegraph

Antoine Zacharias is facing criminal charges despite the £90 million pay and pension deal being approved by his company’s directors.

He is accused of misusing funds by accepting the money to run Vinci, the world’s biggest construction company.

The sum was set by a remuneration committee chaired by Quentin Davies, Britain’s junior Defence Minister.

Mr Zacharias, 71, is the first French industry captain to face criminal charges over earnings and faces up to five years in prison and a fine of £336,000.

French bosses are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the two-day trial at the court in Nanterre outside Paris, as a guilty verdict could lead to a wave of prosecutions in France over executive pay.

France is notoriously mistrustful of its patrons, and the country was hit by a wave of “boss-nappings” last year in the wake of the financial crisis.

Under French law, company bosses can be prosecuted for misusing funds. However, this is the first time a case has been brought against someone who appeared to have acted within company rules on pay.

Hailed as France’s boss of the decade by the Harvard Business Review, Mr Zacharias transformed Vinci into a construction powerhouse, raising profits by more than 300 per cent and turnover by 81 per cent in six years.

But in 2006 he was ousted by his number two, and successor, who accused him of corporate greed. >>> Henry Samuel in Paris | Thursday, March 25, 2010

*We, the British, should follow suit, as should the Americans. In fact, this should happen wherever corporate greed is a problem. What about jailing and punishing severely those fat cat, greedy bankers? Five to ten years in the slammer would do them a world of good. It would sober them up. They would become examples for all the others just waiting to milk (shouldn’t that be cream?) the system. You’d soon find that corporate greed would become a thing of the past if these ‘can’t-get-enough-types’ were put through their paces in clink. Let the show begin! – © Mark

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Alexander Lebedev Buys The Independent for £1

THE TELEGRAPH: Alexander Lebedev, the former KGB spy, has finally bought The Independent and Independent on Sunday for £1.

Photo: The Telegraph

As part of the deal Independent News & Media, the papers’ parent company, will pay Mr Lebedev £9.25m to cover the losses the titles are expected to make this year.

Gavin O’Reilly, chief executive of INM said: “This is a most satisfactory and positive outcome for the titles, their staff and for INM’s shareholders. The transaction will be immediately earnings accretive for INM. After our successful refinancing in late 2009, this transaction marks an important milestone in the repositioning of our group.”

The papers will be controlled by Mr Lebedev’s son Evegny who pledged to retain The Independent’s “in-depth investigative reporting and campaigns which promote transparency and seek to fight international corruption”. >>> Rupert Neate | Thursday, March 25, 2010
Sarkozy und Merkel einig über Hilfe an Euroländer: Dokument weist über aktuellen Fall Griechenland hinaus

NZZ ONLINE: Frankreich und Deutschland sind sich einig darüber, wie künftig die Hilfe für in finanzielle Schwierigkeiten steckende Ländern der Eurozone aussehen soll.

Frankreichs Präsident Nicolas Sarkozy und die deutsche Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel haben sich auf einen Vorschlag geeinigt, wie jetzt und in Zukunft Ländern der Eurozone mit finanziellen Schwierigkeiten geholfen werden soll.

Wie es aus der französischen Regierung hiess, wird in einem eineinhalbseitigen Text beschrieben, unter welchen Bedingungen Euroländer andere Mitglieder der Eurozone unterstützen können. Somit sei bei der Suche nach einer Lösung für das hoch verschuldete Griechenland ein Dokument entstanden, das weiter gehe, als den aktuellen Fall zu behandeln. >>> sda | Donnerstag, 25. März 2010

THE TELEGRAPH: Greece bailout package 'agreed by Germany and France': France and Germany have agreed on a bailout package for Greece and other financially troubled eurozone countries, according to reports. >>> | Thursday, March 25, 2010
Union Européenne : Angela Merkel en «dame de fer»

Angela Merkel. Photo : Le Temps

LE TEMPS: La crise grecque, devenue celle de la zone euro, a souligné les divergences entre la France et l’Allemagne. Pressée par son opinion, la chancelière allemande durcit le ton

«Madame Merkel, continuez de dire non!», «Les nouvelles règles du jeu de Merkel pour l’Europe»: les titres de la presse allemande à la veille du sommet européen de Bruxelles en disent long sur le glissement du débat suscité par le trou béant du budget grec. Ce n’est plus Athènes qui focalise l’attention, mais Berlin et son intransigeance – critiquée ou admirée.

Dans une de ces cacophonies dont l’Union européenne a le secret, on a entendu ces jours la ministre française de l’Economie Christine Lagarde douter de «la durabilité du modèle allemand» basé sur des exportations compétitives, le président de la Commission européenne José Manuel Barroso réclamer plus de «solidarité» avec la Grèce, tandis que la chancelière allemande martelait qu’il n’est pas question de ficeler un paquet d’aide cette semaine. Pendant ce temps, les marchés continuaient de jouer l’euro à la baisse.

Au moment où ces lignes étaient écrites, les négociations continuaient entre la France, l’Allemagne et le président du Conseil européen Herman van Rompuy. Une sortie de crise semble se dessiner, tentons d’en décrypter les enjeux. >>> Jean-Claude Péclet | Jeudi 25 Mars 2010
News Hub: What's Behind the Euro's Slide?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Budget 2010: Darling Soaks the Rich

THE TELEGRAPH: Alistair Darling has used his pre-election Budget to announce billions of pounds of new taxes on the better off to help him pay off Labour’s huge Government deficits.

The Chancellor also set out pre-election sweeteners for key voters, including a stamp duty cut for first-time buyers, funded by a tax increase on buyers of £1 million houses. Budget 2010: Labour taxes the rich to pay for borrowing >>> James Kirkup, Political Correspondent | Wednesday, March 24, 2010
News Hub: Seeking End to Greek Drama

US Health Care: 14 States File Lawsuits Over Barack Obama's Reforms

THE TELEGRAPH: In a sign of political battles to come, 14 US states filed lawsuits on Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of health care reform just moments after President Barack Obama signed it into law.

Other states are expected to join the fight against the far-reaching reforms which could place huge burdens on state budgets. Many are also considering legislation to block a provision which requires most people to buy insurance or pay a fine.

"This lawsuit should put the federal government on notice that Florida will not permit the constitutional rights of our citizens and the sovereignty of our state to be ignored or disregarded," said Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Mr McCollum, a Republican who is running for state governor in the upcoming election, said the federal government had no right to impose a "tax on living" by forcing people to buy insurance.

The historic $940-billion overhaul will extend coverage to some 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured, ensuring 95 per cent of US citizens under age 65 will have health insurance.

The lawsuit filed in a Florida federal court calls the reform bill an "unprecedented encroachment" on state sovereignty by requiring states to spend billions on expanding health care coverage to the poor. >>> | Tuesday, March 23, 2010
In Health Care Bill, Obama Attacks Wealth Inequality

THE NEW YORK TIMES: For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.

Over most of that period, government policy and market forces have been moving in the same direction, both increasing inequality. The pretax incomes of the wealthy have soared since the late 1970s, while their tax rates have fallen more than rates for the middle class and poor.

Nearly every major aspect of the health bill pushes in the other direction. This fact helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to spend so much political capital on the issue, even though it did not appear to be his top priority as a presidential candidate. Beyond the health reform’s effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan. >>> David Leonhardt | Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Euro fällt auf Allzeittief zum Schweizer Franken

NZZ ONLINE: Schmerzgrenze der Währungshüter ausloten

Die Schwäche der Europäischen Einheitswährung hält an. Der Euro ist am Dienstag auf ein Allzeittief zum Schweizer Franken gefallen. Zwar hat die Schweizerische Nationalbank (SNB) heute abermals ihre Interventionsbereitschaft bekräftigt, agiert hat sie noch nicht.

Der Euro rutschte gegen 16 Uhr 30 Uhr auf 1,4285 Franken, das tiefste Niveau seit der Einführung der Gemeinschaftswährung im Jahr 1999. Angesichts der anhaltenden Euroschwäche und der tatenlosen SNB gehen Marktbeobachter davon aus, dass die Akteure am Devisenmarkt damit fortfahren werden, die Schmerzgrenze der Währungshüter auszuloten. >>> sda | Dienstag, 23. März 2010
Obama Signs Health-Care Reform Bill

Glum Outlook For British Employment

Harvard Prof. Niall Ferguson on Decline of America and Rise of a New Global Economic Order

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

«Der Euro liegt im Sterben»

NZZ am SONNTAG: Die Währungsunion und der Euro leiden an einem Geburtsfehler, sagt der Historiker Niall Ferguson. Die Währungsintegration sei zum Scheitern verurteilt, da einzelne Mitglieder ausscheren und wieder eigene Währungen einführen werden. Interview: Chanchal Biswas und Charlotte Jacquemart

NZZ am Sonntag: Der Euro-Raum und der Euro werden seit Wochen heftig durchgeschüttelt, weil der griechische Staat ein Schuldenproblem hat. Was läuft falsch mit der Einheitswährung?

Ferguson: Der Euro krankt an denselben Mängeln wie vor zehn Jahren. Ich habe 1999 darauf hingewiesen, dass der Euro eine instabile Konstruktion ist. Mit dem Euro-Raum wurden zwar eine Währungsunion und eine gemeinsame Währung geschaffen, aber die Mitgliedstaaten haben an ihrer eigenen Finanzpolitik festgehalten. Das bedeutet, dass niemand dafür sorgt, dass das Verhältnis zwischen Ausgaben und Einnahmen in den einzelnen Ländern in etwa übereinstimmt.

Warum wäre das wichtig?

Eine gemeinsame Währung funktioniert nur, wenn sich keines der Mitgliedländer übermässig verschuldet. Das ist aber im Euro-Raum schwierig, nur schon weil die Mitgliedstaaten Bevölkerungen haben, die unterschiedlich schnell altern, und weil sie ihren Bewohnern unterschiedlich grosse Altersrenten versprochen haben. Diese Ungleichheiten gab es immer, aber erst die weltweite Finanzkrise hat sie zutage gebracht. Jetzt ist allen bewusst, auf welch schmalem Grat sich die Staaten Portugal, Italien, Spanien und Griechenland finanzpolitisch bewegen. Und wie gross ihr Abstand zu Deutschland oder den Niederlanden ist.

Warum spielen in der Währungsunion demografische Unterschiede eine Rolle?

Staaten mit grosszügiger sozialer Wohlfahrt, die Renten garantieren und diese früh zahlen, müssen dies mit Steuereinnahmen finanzieren. Steigen diese Ausgaben schnell, weil die Bevölkerung schnell altert, wird der Sozialstaat aus den Angeln gehoben. Das ist in den südlichen Ländern des Euro-Raums der Fall, deshalb werden ihre Defizite grösser. >>> Interview: Chanchal Biswas und Charlotte Jacquemart | Sonntag, 21. März 2010
Niall Ferguson Says Greek Crisis Will Grip Whole Western World

Google Stops Censoring Search Results in China

THE TELEGRAPH: Google has stopped censoring search results in China in defiance of authorities there.

It is the latest step in a deepening row between the internet giant and Beijing over censorship and hacking.

Speculation had been mounting that Google was preparing to announce a decision to pull out of China, which is the world’s largest internet market by users, or at least shut down its Chinese search engine.

But instead it has decided to redirect users of its China search engine to the Hong Kong-based

China has repeatedly warned Google that it will face consequences if it does not comply with censorship rules.

Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said: “We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement.

“We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from is a sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced. It’s entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. >>> Nick Allen in Los Angeles | Monday, March 22, 2010

China Warns US Not to 'Politicise' Google Row

TIMES ONLINE: Google’s closure of its search engine in China should not damage Sino-US relations as long as it remains an isolated act by a commercial company, China’s Foreign Ministry said today.

The statement from Qin Gang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, more modulated in tone than an angry tirade earlier from the State Council Information Office, signals that Beijing wants the US Government to keep out of the row over censorship.

Mr Qin said that the Government would handle the Google case “according to the law” and any repercussions would not damage Sino-US ties already strained over a currency dispute.

Mr Qin said: “I don't see it influencing Sino-US relations unless some people want to politicise it.”

Google had said two months ago that it would quit the mainland market if it were required to continue to submit to censorship after cyberattacks originating in China. >>> Jane Macartney, Beijing, and Mike Harvey, San Francisco | Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The World's 10 Youngest Billionaires

TIMES ONLINE: Every year, America's Forbes magazine publishes a revealing list of the world's richest people. This year Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim has knocked Microsoft owner Bill Gates off the top spot, with a $53.5 billion (£35.3 billion) fortune. The highest placed UK resident is Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian born steel magnate, who, worth $28.7 billion, is in the number five spot.

But who are the candidates for the top spot in the future. Here are Forbes' top 10 youngest billionaires. >>> | Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Germans Travel to Poland for Work

THE TELEGRAPH: Unemployed Germans have begun travelling to Poland in search of jobs - in a dramatic reversal of the usual trend for immigrant workers.

Thousands of people from eastern Germany are now commuting across the border into western Poland in an effort to escape the downturn afflicting the region.

The strength of the Polish economy and the weakness of its once all-powerful German peer is behind the change in fortunes.

As many as 2,500 Germans are now registered to work in the region surrounding the north-western city of Szczecin but officials believe the real figure is far higher due to people working on the black market.

While some work in call centres, the construction sector has proved popular, and many workers prefer to go unregistered in order to pocket extra money.

In Uecker Randow, the German district that lies just a stone's throw from Szczecin, unemployment lies close to 20 per cent and the area is blighted by one of Germany's highest rates of long-term unemployment. >>> Matthew Day in Warsaw | Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Latest Radio Show

THE GATHERING STORM RADIO SHOW: If you missed the last radio show, why not come on over and hear a recording? I'm on it with Always On Watch and WC. The show was on March 12. To listen, click here. Hope you enjoy the show. – Mark
Max Keiser Takes Offense To Goldman Sachs Story

Part 1:

Part 2:

Max Keiser >>>
A Black Day for the US: America Takes Its First Shaky Steps Towards a Socialist State

If you thought this was merely healthcare reform, think again! President Barack Hussein Obama has just managed to pull off the biggest change in American politics – ever.

So now we know for sure what we had suspected all along. Now we know what he was talking about when he spoke about “change we can believe in”. For with this bill, Obama has managed to turn America away from raw capitalism. From now on, America will be working ever so assiduously towards Obama’s dream of a socialist state. Capitalism has seen the failure of the banking sector; and government intervened. We now see government intervening in the health of the nation. This is Obama’s coup de grâce. He has dealt capitalism as we have known it in America its death blow. America will never be the same again.

If you think this healthcare reform will end with this bill, think again. It will not. This health bill will usher in a multitude of changes down the road. All sorts of side industries will spring up in the new nanny state. Health and social workers, for a start, will be legion in years to come. They will interfere in many aspects of a person’s life. Personal responsibility has been dealt a nasty blow with this bill; and Obama knows it.

Furthermore, it will be very difficult to turn back from here, because these will become entitlements. Entitlements, once granted in a democracy are very difficult to take away from the electorate. Politicians depend on the voters to be re-elected, remember?

The cost of this healthcare bill is already astronomical. If you think it will end with this tab, think again. The costs of universal healthcare just increase and increase – always! The government can never find enough money to satisfy the needs of the healthcare system. There will be nurses and supervisors and managers and managers’ managers, and social workers and para-medics, to say nothing of equipment which is becoming evermore sophisticated and evermore expensive. Then there'll be all the free-loaders who will fly to America from abroad to take advantage of the first-rate healthcare that will be available to them – for free! To provide all these resources the healthcare system will need revenue; so, in years to come, taxes will have to increase and increase – steadily.

America has just taken a giant step into the unknown! Now Americans know exactly what change they can believe in. And these seismic changes really do usher in a black day for America. My commiserations. – © Mark Alexander

All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Gehaltsexzesse bei US-Managern

NZZ am SONNTAG: Die CS zahlt einem Banker angeblich 11 Millionen Dollar für den Stellenwechsel

Im Rezessionsjahr 2009 sind in den USA Millionen Arbeitsplätze verloren gegangen, doch in den Gehalts-Checks vieler Unternehmenschefs hat sich die Krise kaum bemerkbar gemacht. Jahresgehälter in zweistelliger Millionenhöhe sind nach wie vor nichts Aussergewöhnliches. Das belegen die Pflichtmitteilungen, die die Börsenaufsicht SEC in diesen Tagen veröffentlicht.

Viele Vorstände konnten sich in den vergangenen Monaten sogar über eine deutliche Aufstockung ihrer Bezüge freuen. Zum Beispiel Thomas Ryan, Chef des Pharmakonzerns CVS Caremark. Er verdiente im vergangenen Jahr 30,4 Mio. $, wie am Donnerstag bekannt wurde. Im Vorjahr waren es 23,8 Mio. $. Selbst wenn er dieses Geld verprassen und gleichzeitig den Job verlieren sollte, müsste er sich anschliessend keine Sorgen machen: In seiner betrieblichen Altersvorsorge hat Ryan mittlerweile 44,6 Mio. $ angespart. Alleine 8000 $ bekam der erfolgreiche Manager letztes Jahr für die Teilnahme an einem Golfturnier. Es war Teil einer Wohltätigkeitsveranstaltung, bei der CVS Spenden sammelte. >>> Von Sebastian Bräuer | Sonntag, 21. März 2010
Greece on the Brink

Watch report

Friday, 19 March 2010

PM Report: Obama Tries to Close Health Deal

ViewPoints: China, the New Dominant Economy?

Greek PM Gives European Leaders a Week to Produce Rescue Plan

THE GUARDIAN: George Papandreou has threatened to turn to the IMF in exasperation with the EU's lack of clarity on a plan to resolve the Greek crisis

Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, has set the EU a deadline to come up with a rescue plan. Photograph: The Guardian

Greece raised the stakes in the row over how to stabilise the euro today when prime minister George Papandreou set European leaders a deadline of next week for unveiling rescue plans for his battered economy and threatened to turn instead to the International Monetary Fund for help.

Clearly exasperated by the lack of clarity from the EU on what it might do to help resolve Greece's ballooning debt and deficit crisis, Papandreou effectively told European leaders it was time to put up or shut up.

The 16-country eurozone had to deliver on its pledge last month of coming to Greece's rescue if need be by putting a "loaded gun on the table" which would deter speculators betting on a Greek sovereign default and reduce the punitive rates on Greek borrowing.

"This is an opportunity we should not miss," Papandreou told the European parliament in Brussels. "We are expecting this from the summit next week."

Papandreou's remarks put him on a collision course with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who became the first European head of government on Wednesday to demand that the rule book for the euro be rewritten to enable the ejection of persistent fiscal delinquents. >>> Ian Traynor in Brussels | Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Merkel Supports Eurozone 'Red Card'

BBC: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel says she wants the eurozone to be able to exclude one of its members in future if that is necessary to avert a crisis.

Mrs Merkel told the German Bundestag (parliament) that existing EU rules were not strong enough to deal with the current crisis triggered by Greece.

Exclusion from the 16-nation eurozone would be a "last resort", she said.

Germany, seen as the driving force of the euro system, is reluctant to bail out Greece's debt-laden economy.

But Mrs Merkel said no eurozone country would be left on its own to deal with the current crisis. Greece's budget deficit - four times higher than EU rules allow - has raised fears of possible contagion in the eurozone. >>> | Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Quarter of Adults Out of Work, Official Figures Show

THE TELEGRAPH: More than one in four adults in Britain are not working, after a record number left the workforce in recent months, official figures indicated.

A total of 10.6 million people either did not have a job, or have stopped looking for one, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics, which indicated that more people than ever before had abandoned the workplace – choosing instead to study, go on sick leave or just give up searching for a job.

A record 149,000 left the workforce and became "economically inactive", between November last year and January, the ONS said. These people more than offset the fall in the headline unemployment.

Unemployment fell for the third month in a row, dropping by 33,000 to hit 2.45 million. It has yet to breach the symbolic 2.5 million mark, let alone the 3 million barrier that haunted the recessions of the early 1990s and 1980s.

However, economists immediately expressed caution about the monthly figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The total number of economically inactive hit 8.16 million, the highest since the ONS started recording this measure in 1971.

The number out of a job, or econically inactive totals 10.6 million, or 28 per cent of adults of working age. >>> | Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Sterling Looks Doomed

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Petrol to Hit 120p a Litre, as Motorists 'Mugged' by Oil Companies

THE TELEGRAPH: Petrol is due to hit a record of 120p a litre in a matter of days, even though the price of oil is little more than half the levels it was at its peak, the AA motoring group has warned.

Petrol could soon hit 120p a litre, the AA said. Photograph: The Telegraph

Senior MPs and motoring groups said that oil companies were "mugging motorists on the forecourt" and urged Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, to delay next month's planned increase in petrol duty as well as investigate why drivers were paying so much.

The average petrol price across the country is 115.9p for a litre of unleaded and 116.6p for a litre of diesel, according to However, the Treasury is due to add a further 3p on April 1.

Even without this increase the price at forecourts is due to hit 120p very soon, according to the AA. This would overtake the previous high of 119.7p, which motorists suffered from in July 2008.

At the time the high price of petrol was blamed on the surging price of crude oil, the key raw material in petrol, which within weeks of the record petrol price hit its own record of $147 a barrel.

However, crude oil is now $78 a barrel and there are more than 250 petrol stations charging more than 120p a litre for unleaded and diesel.

Lindsay Hoyle, the senior Labour MP on the Business Select Committee, said: "This is a complete disgrace. Yes, crude oil has gone up this year, but nothing like the rise in petrol prices. Motorists are being legally mugged at the forecourt by petrol companies." >>> Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor | Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday, 15 March 2010


Viertel der Deutschen wollen die "Mauer" wieder

DIE PRESSE: Gemäß einer Umfrage kann sich die Mehrheit der Deutschen vorstellen in einem sozialistischem Land zu leben, solange für Arbeitsplätze, Solidarität und Sicherheit gesorgt wäre.

Eine große Mehrheit der Deutschen könnte sich einer Umfrage zufolge vorstellen, in einem sozialistischen Staat zu leben, solange für Arbeitsplätze, Solidarität und Sicherheit gesorgt wäre. Die "Bild"-Zeitung berichtete, damit hätten sich bei einer Emnid-Umfrage achtzig Prozent in Ostdeutschland und bis zu 72 Prozent in Westdeutschland einverstanden erklärt. Anlass der Befragung war die Ausstrahlung des Fernseh-Zweiteilers "Die Grenze". Eines der Ergebnisse ist, dass jeder Vierte es unter Umständen befürworten würde, die Mauer zwischen West- und Ostdeutschland wieder zu errichten. >>> Ag. | Montag, 15. März 2010
Accord de la zone euro sur les modalités d'un plan d'aide à la Grèce

Le premier ministre grec, Georges Papandréou, entouré de plusieurs dirigeants européens, jeudi 11 février 2010 à Bruxelles. Photo : Le Monde

LE MONDE: Les ministres des finances de la zone euro, réunis lundi soir à Bruxelles, sont tombés d'accord sur les modalités d'un plan d'aide financier à la Grèce qui pourra être mis en place "rapidement", a annoncé leur chef de file, Jean-Claude Juncker. "Les propositions que nous ferons seront totalement en ligne avec les dispositions afférentes du traité et avec les législations nationales", a-t-il ajouté, sans donner de détails sur les mesures contenues dans l'accord. Seule certitude avancée par le président de l'Eurogroupe, le mécanisme retenu ne consistera pas en des prêts garantis.

Le premier ministre luxembourgeois a ensuite précisé que la décision ultime de recourir à cette aide serait prise par les dirigeants de l'Union européenne lors d'un prochain sommet européen, si nécessaire. >>> Le avec AFP et Reuters | Lundi 15 Mars 2010
More Cracks in the Eurozone Despite Likely Deal for Greece

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: Europe's leaders will do their best to put on a show of unity as early as Monday when they announce that they stand ready to help Greece recover from its financial disaster.

But the deal is just a thin veneer over permanent disagreements about how to run the European Union, and Brussels is about to embark on another round of damaging internal debate which will further distance it from the bloc's 500 million citizens.

Greece is the weakest but not the only member of the 16-country eurozone in deep trouble. It must borrow over 50 billion euros on the international markets this year or else it could go bust. The other countries that use the euro, led by Germany and France, are likely to say that their private banks will guarantee to help meet those financing needs should willing investors turn out to be in short supply. That, allied to a massive round of spending cuts inside Greece designed to reduce the budget deficit, should be enough to calm markets and stabilise the situation.

It won't stop Greeks from rioting, however. Just as in the UK, US and everywhere else, ordinary workers can't see why they have to swallow pay cuts, tax rises and cuts in services as a result of incompetent politicians and mendacious bankers. Greece's socialist government, recently elected, is suffering from internal dissent at the price to be paid for outside help. The deficit is more than four times higher than eurozone rules allow, but reducing it could be a dangerous process in a country plagued by social unrest and which was under military rule as recently as the 1970s.

As for the rest of the eurozone and the European Union, the big beasts of the continent - the UK, France and Germany - have never seen eye to eye on the level of economic oversight and political interference they would countenance from Brussels. It was hoped that the passage of the Lisbon Treaty, the reforms of the EU's rules and institutions just enacted after much pain, would still that debate and end internal wrangling for a decade.

Instead, Greece's problems, and those yet to be played out in full in Spain, Portugal, Ireland and elsewhere, have exposed the messy and inadequate compromises agreed for the co-ordination of vastly disparate economies. It hasn't worked; a new framework is required. >>> Adrian Michaels and Bruno Waterfield | Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Friday, 12 March 2010

Greece Debt: EU Agrees Bailout Deal

THE GUARDIAN: Exclusive: Germany plays pivotal role in potential eurozone rescue package for Greek debts

The eurozone has agreed a multibillion-euro bailout for Greece as part of a package to shore up the single currency after weeks of crisis, the Guardian has learnt.

Senior sources in Brussels said that Berlin had bowed to the bailout agreement despite huge resistance in Germany and that the finance ministers of the "eurozone" – the 16 member states including Greece who use the euro – are to finalise the rescue package on Monday. The single currency's rulebook will also be rewritten to enforce greater fiscal discipline among members.

The member states have agreed on "co-ordinated bilateral contributions" in the form of loans or loan guarantees to Greece if Athens finds itself unable to refinance its soaring debt and requests help from the EU, a senior European commission official said.

Other sources said the aid could rise to €25bn (£22.6bn), although it is estimated in European capitals that Greece could need up to €55bn by the end of the year.

Germany, the EU's traditional paymaster, but the most reluctant to come to the rescue of a fiscal delinquent in the current crisis, has played the pivotal role in organising the rescue package, the sources added. >>> Ian Traynor in Brussels | Friday, March 12, 2010
Detroit Family Homes Sell for Just $10

THE TELEGRAPH: Family homes in Detroit are selling for as little as $10 (£6) in the wake of America's financial meltdown.

The once thriving industrial city has suffered a dramatic decline following the global economic crisis.

According to Tim Prophit, a real estate agent, the crisis has led to a unprecedented portfolio of homes, but they are failing to sell.

He said there were homes on the market for $100 (£61), but an offer of just $10 (£6) would be likely to be accepted.

Speaking on a BBC 2 documentary, Requiem for Detroit, to be screened on Saturday, Mr Prophit said: "The property is listed by the city of Detroit as being worth $35,000 (£22,000), but the bank know that is impossible to ask.

"This part of town has got a lot of bad press in the media because it featured in Eminem's film 'Eight Mile', but that particular road is fifteen minutes up the road and that is a long way in Detroit."

Homes offered in viewing brochures as early 1920s example of colonial architecture would once have made handsome homes but are no longer sought after. >>> | Friday, March 13, 2010
On Air: The Gathering Storm Radio Show

I’ll be on air today at 12 noon PST, 3pm EST, 8pm GMT, and 9pm CET. Always On Watch, WC, and I will be discussing growing anti-Semitism in Europe, JihadJane, and much else besides. I'll be on for the full hour. We do hope you can join us. ALL are welcome. The number to call is (646) 915-9870. Click HERE for the show.
Grossbritanniens Premier Brown und Frankreichs Präsident Sarkozy sind nicht zufrieden mit dem Gebahren der USA. Bild: NZZ Online

Brown und Sarkozy werfen den USA Protektionismus vor: Reaktion auf verpassten Rüstungsauftrag für EADS

NZZ ONLINE: Nach dem verpassten Rüstungsgeschäft für die Lieferung von Tankflugzeugen für die US-Luftwaffe durch den EADS-Konzern hat es Vorwürfe aus Frankreich und Grossbritannien gegeben. Der britische Premier Brown und Frankreichs Präsident Sarkozy warfen den USA Protektionismus vor.

Der französische Staatspräsident Nicolas Sarkozy und der britische Regierungschef Gordon Brown haben den USA im Streit um einen verpassten Rüstungsauftrag für den europäischen EADS-Konzern Protektionismus vorgeworfen.

«Nicht die richtige Art»

«Das ist nicht die richtige Art, wie die USA ihre europäischen Verbündeten behandeln sollten», sagte Sarkozy am Freitag nach einem Besuch bei Brown. Der Brite erklärte, er sei wegen der entstandenen Situation enttäuscht. >>> ddp/sda/Reuters | Freitag, 12. März 2010

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Britons' Account Details Stolen from HSBC Swiss Bank

LONDON EVENING STANDARD: Wealthy Brits are among 24,000 clients of HSBC's Swiss private bank who had their details stolen by an employee and given to the French authorities, the bank admitted today.

The theft, which took place three years ago, could give tax authorities around the world access to data about their citizens who have tried to evade tax using Swiss accounts.

The bank admitted today that about 15,000 current clients and 9,000 who had accounts before 2006 had been affected.

HM Revenue & Customs today said it was aware of the case and while declining to comment on whether it would pay money to get hold of the data added: “We would not rule anything out and are constantly gathering information.”

The UK taxman paid a reported £100,000 for similar data stolen by an employee of a Liechtenstein bank two years ago.

The HSBC employee, who worked in the bank's IT department, has already “sold” some of the data to French authorities in return for police protection and to prevent him being returned to the Swiss authorities who want to prosecute him. >>> Nick Goodway | Thursday, March 11, 2010
Greece On The Brink: Civil Servants Fight Back

Greeks Clash over Austerity Plans

New Death Tax for All Shock

DAILY EXPRESS: LABOUR wants to hammer every home owner in Britain with a spiteful 10 per cent death tax, it emerged yesterday.

The levy would be charged on all estates up to the current inheritance tax threshold of £325,000.
Any amount above the existing threshold is already taxed at 40 per cent. But the extra charge would add a huge £32,500 on top of the tax bill for such properties.

It means people with an estate valued at £500,000 would find their relatives hit with a bill of £102,500 after their death. >>> Sarah O’Grady | Thursday, March 11, 2010
White House Pushes for Passing of Health Bill

AM Report: Cracking Down on Swaps

Mexico's Carlos Slim Wrests World's Richest Man Title from Bill Gates: Forbes' List

THE TELEGRAPH: Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has stripped Bill Gates of his crown as the world’s richest man, as Latin American and Asian entrepreneurs begin to outpace the US and Europe when it comes to wealth creation.

Carlos Slim Helu [sic] (left) is the world's richest man, with a fortune of $53.5bn (£35.7bn). The Mexican made his money in the telecoms industry. He was in third place last year, and leapfrogged Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to take the top spot. Photograph: The Telegraph

Mr Slim, with a fortune of $53.5bn (£36bn) from his investment in telecoms and banking in Latin America, is worth $500m more than Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, according to the just-released Forbes annual billionaires survey.

It is the first time in 16 years that a non-American has taken the top spot, with the Mexican, who saw his wealth increase by $18.5bn in the year, following in the footsteps of the Rausing Brothers in 1994.

But Mr Slim’s rise to the top is part of a much wider trend in the annual Forbes list – that of the rise of dollar billionaires from developing nations at the expense of those from more traditional wealthier countries.

Although the US still has the most billionaires on the list – some 403 with a combined net worth of $1.1 trillion – their hold is beginning to loosen, accounting for 40pc of the world’s billionaires in the latest list compared to 45pc last year.

At the same time, countries such as China, Turkey, Russia, Brazil and Argentina have all seen a significant rise in the number of billionaires. Pakistan now has its first billionaire in the shape of Mian Muhammad Mansha, who owns the country’s MCB Bank.

China is now home to 64 billionaires – the most of any country outside the US – with 27 of them reaching the $1bn mark for the first time. >>> James Quinn, US Business Editor | Wednesday, March 10, 2010

AM Report: Who is Carlos Slim?

Greece Brought to a Halt by Austerity Protest Strike

TIMES ONLINE: Much of Greece ground to a halt today as public and private sector unions called another general strike in opposition to tough government austerity measures and proposed pension reforms aimed at restoring fiscal order for the battered economy.

Traffic stopped moving around the centre of Athens with streets closed off as an estimated 20,000 demonstrators holding banners and chanting slogans marched towards the parliament building in Syntagma square. There were separate mass demonstrations in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

More than two million workers of the five million strong Greek workforce have walked off the job after a 24-hour nationwide general strike by ADEDY, the 800,000-strong civil servants’ union, was joined by the larger General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), which represents about two million workers in the private sector.

The mood was tense in parts of the capital as several hundred demonstrators aligned to anarchist or extreme leftist groups also took to the streets.

At one point, small groups of rock-throwing protestors clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas to disperse them. Although they constitute a relatively small minority of the largely peaceful but very vocal demonstrations, they were closely watched as they often clash with police or cause damage to property. >>> Philip Panaglos in Athens | Thursday, March 11, 2010

La Grèce paralysée par les grèves

LE FIGARO: Une grève nationale touchant les transports et les services publics continue de figer la Grèce pour le deuxième jour consécutif. Près de 10.000 personnes manifestent ce jeudi à Athènes contre le plan d'austérité.

La Grèce affronte ce jeudi sa deuxième journée de grève nationale, en moins d'une semaine. A l'appel des deux principaux syndicats du pays, les employés du secteur public et des transports ont cessé le travail pour protester contre le plan d'austérité. A Athènes, 10.000 manifestants défilent dans les rues, selon les chiffres de la police, aux cris de «pas de sacrifice pour la ploutocratie».

Les transports sont paralysés, le trafic aérien nul et les hôpitaux publics sont gérés par le personnel d'urgence. >>> Par | Jeudi 11 Mars 2010


Several articles and videos pertaining to the crisis in Greece >>>

Liens en relation avec ces articles:

De nombreux articles relatifs à la crise financière grecque >>>

Verbunden mit diesen Artikeln:

Mehrere Artikel über die Finanzkrise in Griechenland >>>
Obama sagt Unterstützung gegen Spekulanten zu: Griechischer Ministerpräsident Papandreou bittet Washington um Hilfe

NZZ ONLINE: US-Präsident Barack Obama begrüsst nach den Worten des griechischen Regierungschefs Giorgos Papandreou europäische Initiativen im Kampf gegen Spekulanten. Papandreou war in Washington mit Obama zusammengetroffen.

Im Kampf gegen Spekulanten bekommt das hoch verschuldete Griechenland nach Gesprächen mit den Europäern auch von den USA Unterstützung. Nach Beratungen mit dem amerikanischen Präsidenten Obama sagte Regierungschef Papandreou, Obama begrüsse entsprechende Initiativen in Europa.

Er habe vom US-Präsidenten in dieser Frage eine «positive Antwort» erhalten, sagte Ministerpräsident Giorgos Papandreou nach Angaben der Finanz-Agentur Bloomberg in Washington. Obama habe auch seine Unterstützung für die Massnahmen im Kampf gegen die Schuldenkrise in Griechenland deutlich gemacht. >>> sda/dpa | Mittwoch, 10. März 2010

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

PM Report: Pressure Grows on Iran

Etats-Unis : le nombre de millionnaires a augmenté Les riches ignorent la crise. A croire même qu'elle leur profite... Aux Etats-Unis, en tout cas, les millionaires (en dollars) sont de plus en plus nombreux. Selon une étude publiée mardi par la société de conseil Spectrem Group, leur 
nombre a augmenté de 16% en 2009, alors qu'il avait chuté de 27% l'année précédente.

En 2009, environ 7,8 millions de ménages américains disposaient d'avoirs équilanets ou supérieurs à un million de dollars, sans compter le capital investi dans leur résidence principale. C'est donc 1,1 million de ménages en plus qu'en 2008, année où l'économie atteignait son plus bas niveau depuis 2003 et où le nombre de millionnaires américains chutait.

«Bien que (le nombre de millionnaires) soit encore loin de son record de 9,2 millions de personnes en 2007, la hausse observée cette année (2009) n'en constitue pas moins une nouvelle bienvenue pour une économie encore en phase de reprise», a commenté George Walper Junior, président de Spectrem Group. >>> Ph.L. | Mercredi 10 Mars 2010
Hamish McRae: Don't Write Off the US Economy

THE INDEPENDENT: China and India may be growing faster but in technical innovation there's no contest

Americans may be glum about their political situation but they are becoming less so about their economic one. So much of the reporting from and within the US has focused on the discord in Washington that the wall of sound has obliterated the signals from the economic heartland. Such signals that have come through have been largely negative and have been reported though a political prism.

It makes a good headline to write that employment has failed to respond to the increase in output and it makes a good picture to show the decaying homes on abandoned developments. Such positive stories that have been around, of which the recovery in share prices is the most obvious, have almost made matters worse, for they suggest that the few on Wall Street are again benefiting from the tax dollars of the many on Main Street.

Dig a little deeper though and you can sense that American corporate self-confidence is returning: a sense of optimism, almost of swagger, that is quite absent from the prevailing mood in Europe and the UK. Quite suddenly, after all the despair, the fears of financial meltdown have evaporated. America, or at least Business America, is back. Why?

Well part of it is what has been happening in financial markets. Markets both reflect the prevailing mood and help shape it. If the financial services industry is making money then it becomes easier for the rest of industry, "real" industry you might say, to get investment funds, think of possible acquisitions and resume planning for the future. Six months ago it was still a question of survival. Now that is past.

The dollar has helped too, not in the sense that a strongish currency is good for business but rather that it shows that, whatever the problems of the US, at least the currency is not bowed down by the concerns that have been plaguing the euro and the pound. Rationally California may be in an even bigger financial mess than Greece and at some stage pretty soon the country will have to come forward with credible plans to tackle the Federal deficit. But for the moment at least the dollar remains a safe haven and in that sense carries the message that the US is a safe haven for global savings. >>> Hamish McRae | Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Bracing for America's Anger

Greece Braces For Tough Times

The End of the Road for Barack Obama?

THE TELEGRAPH: Barack Obama seems unable to face up to America's problems, writes Simon Heffer in New York.

The once mighty Detroit seems on the verge of being abandoned. Photo: The Telegraph

It is a universal political truth that administrations do not begin to fragment when things are going well: it only happens when they go badly, and those who think they know better begin to attack those who manifestly do not. The descent of Barack Obama's regime, characterised now by factionalism in the Democratic Party and talk of his being set to emulate Jimmy Carter as a one-term president, has been swift and precipitate. It was just 16 months ago that weeping men and women celebrated his victory over John McCain in the American presidential election. If they weep now, a year and six weeks into his rule, it is for different reasons.

Despite the efforts of some sections of opinion to talk the place up, America is mired in unhappiness, all the worse for the height from which Obamania has fallen. The economy remains troublesome. There is growth – a good last quarter suggested an annual rate of as high as six per cent, but that figure is probably not reliable – and the latest unemployment figures, last Friday, showed a levelling off. Yet 15 million Americans, or 9.7 per cent of the workforce, have no job. Many millions more are reduced to working part-time. Whole areas of the country, notably in the north and on the eastern seaboard, are industrial wastelands. The once mighty motor city of Detroit appears slowly to be being abandoned, becoming a Jurassic Park of the mid-20th century; unemployment among black people in Mr Obama's own city of Chicago is estimated at between 20 and 25 per cent. One senior black politician – a Democrat and a supporter of the President – told me of the wrath in his community that a black president appeared to be unable to solve the economic problem among his own people. Cities in the east such as Newark and Baltimore now have drug-dealing as their principal commercial activity: The Wire is only just fictional.

Last Thursday the House of Representatives passed a jobs Bill, costing $15 billion, which would give tax breaks to firms hiring new staff and, through state sponsorship of construction projects, create thousands of jobs too. The Senate is trying to approve a Bill that would provide a further $150 billion of tax incentives to employers. Yet there is a sense of desperation in the Administration, a sense that nothing can be as efficacious at the moment as a sticking plaster. Edward B Montgomery, deputy labour secretary in the Clinton administration, now spends his time on day trips to decaying towns that used to have a car industry, not so much advising them on how to do something else as facilitating those communities' access to federal funds. For a land without a welfare state, America starts to do an effective impersonation of a country with one. This massive state spending gives rise to accusations by Republicans, and people too angry even to be Republicans, that America is now controlled by "Leftists" and being turned into a socialist state. "Obama's big problem," a senior Democrat told me, "is that four times as many people watch Fox News as watch CNN." >>> Simon Heffer | Monday, March 08, 2010