Thursday, 31 October 2013

Cameron Unveils Islamic Bond

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that the UK will become the first non-Muslim country to issue an Islamic bond.

He told the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in London, "Britain is a country ready to welcome your investment, a country that values your friendship, and will never exclude anyone because of their race, their religion, their colour or their creed."

Under Islamic rules, no interest can be charged; transactions must be based on a real trade; and they must not involve gambling or alcohol.

Cameron Unveils £200m Islamic Bond Plan

US Criticises Germany and China Policies

BBC: The US has criticised Germany's economic policies, saying that its export-led growth model is hurting the eurozone and the wider global economy.

In its bi-annual report, the US Treasury said that domestic demand growth in Germany had been "anaemic".

It also reiterated its view that the Chinese yuan continued to remain "significantly undervalued".

The report has criticised Chinese policy before, but criticism of German economic policy is rarer.

"Germany's anaemic pace of domestic demand growth and dependence on exports have hampered rebalancing at a time when many other euro-area countries have been under severe pressure to curb demand and compress imports in order to promote adjustment," the Treasury said.

"The net result has been a deflationary bias for the euro area as well as for the world economy." » | Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Code to Cash: 1st Bitcoin ATM Opens in Canada

Bitcoin, the experimental online currency is now a global one complete with its own, and so far only, ATM. The first machine has been set up in a cafe in Vancouver, where people can exchange digital money, for physical cash. But, many of you are probably asking yourselves - what are Bitcoins?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Empire: A German Europe? The Union Disunited

In the shadow of the German elections, we travel across the continent to investigate the future of the European project.

Read the article here

David Cameron Unveils Plans to Make London a Mecca for Middle East Wealth

THE INDEPENDENT: Prime Minister hopes London can tap into the rapidly expanding global market in Islamic investments

David Cameron has announced plans to encourage investment in the UK by Muslim countries, saying he wants to make London “one of the greatest centres for Islamic finance anywhere in the world”.

Politicians and business leaders gathered in the capital for the ninth annual World Islamic Economic Forum – the first time the major event has not been held in a Muslim country.

The Prime Minister appeared on stage alongside a number of world leaders, including King Abdullah of Jordan and the Sultan of Brunei.

Among the measures unveiled was a plan from the Treasury to issue an Islamic bond - or sukuk - worth around £200 million. It would issue fixed returns based on the profit made by a named asset, allowing for Muslims to invest without breaking Islamic laws forbidding interest-bearing bonds.

A “world first” set of indices at the London Stock Exchange to help investors identify faith-compliant firms and projects was also announced as well as a £4.5 million boost to a small business growth fund.

The global market in Islamic investments is rapidly expanding, rising by 150 per cent since 2006 and expected to be worth £1.3 trillion next year.

Mr Cameron said Britain had already taken steps to ensure Muslims were not discriminated against - such as ending “double tax” on Islamic mortgages and introducing alternative forms of student and start-up loans to comply with a ban on interest payments.

It already had more Islam-compliant banks than any other Western country and many law firms and university courses centred on the subject, he said.

But he said that his ambition was for the country to compete with finance centres such as Dubai and Kuala Lumpur - not just other non-Islamic capitals. Read on and comment » | Adam Withnall | Additional reporting by PA | Tuesday, October 28, 2013

Islamic Investment: David Cameron Moves to Make London a Mecca for Middle East Wealth

The Shard, the tallest building in Europe
THE INDEPENDENT: Moves to turn London into a leading centre of Islamic finance will be announced by David Cameron today amid soaring Middle East investment in Britain and around the world.

The Prime Minister will signal his determination to tap into the rapidly growing global market for Islamic investments, which are forecast to reach £1.3 trillion next year as oil-rich states fund major building projects.

He will set out plans to establish a new Islamic index on the London Stock Exchange, which will help investors comply with Islamic finance principles, such as bans on investing in alcohol, tobacco and gambling. He will also detail proposals for Britain to become the first country outside the Muslim world to issue its own Islamic bonds, known as sukuk. » | Nigel Morris | Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Black Books: EU Shadow Economy Booms As Austerity Bites

As if austerity, rising poverty and joblessness weren't enough - the EU's facing another crisis from its own shadow economy. In Spain alone, up to 30 per cent of business is now hidden from government and tax inspectors. And, as RT's Tesa Arcilla found out across the bloc, it's getting worse.

Sukuks [or Traditional Bonds]: What’s the Difference?

MAIL ONLINE: A sukuk is an Islamic bond. It generates returns to investors without breaking Islamic law that prohibits interest.

The essential difference with a conventional bond is that each sukuk represents a share of ownership of the asset you are investing in. Regular bonds represent a share of debt.

Whereas normal bonds do not give the investor a share of ownership in the project they support, sukuk investors get partial ownership.

The criteria for what you can invest in with a sukuk is limited. It must be sharia-compliant. Conventional bonds which can be used for anything.

Bond holders receive regularly scheduled interest payments for the life of the bond - often at a fixed rate - and they are not affected by costs related to the asset.

Sukuk holders receive a share of the profit and accept a share of any loss incurred. [Source: Mail Online] | Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Britain to Become First Non-Muslim Country to Launch Sharia Bond

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: David Cameron to unveil £200m Sukuk at the World Islamic Economic Forum in London on Tuesday

Britain is set to become the first non-Muslim country to sell a bond that can be bought by Islamic investors in a bid to encourage massive new investment into the City.

David Cameron will say in a speech on Tuesday at the World Islamic Economic Forum in London that the Treasury is drawing up plans to issue a £200m Sukuk, a form of debt that complies with Islamic financial law.

The new sharia-compliant gilt will enable Britain to become the first non-Muslim country to tap the growing pool of Islamic investments that is forecast to top £1.3 trillion by next year.

The Prime Minister will say that it would be a “mistake” to miss the opportunity to encourage more Islamic investment in the UK and that the City of London should rival Dubai as a centre for sharia-compliant finance.

“When Islamic finance is growing 50pc faster than traditional banking and when global Islamic investments are set to grow to £1.3 trillion by 2014, we want to make sure a big proportion of that new investment is made here in Britain,” Mr Cameron will tell an audience of senior officials from Islamic countries.

Among those at the meeting are Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, King Abdullah of Jordan, Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain.

The World Islamic Economic Forum has never been held before in a non-Muslim country and highlights the growing role London is playing in the Islamic finance industry. » | Harry Wilson | Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, 28 October 2013

Spanish Recovery: Reality or Illusion?

Spain's economy is officially out of recession after more than two years, but with a growth figure of 0.1 percent is it really time to get out the sangria and start flamenco dancing? Unemployment has also improved, but remains at 26 percent -- again, nothing to go get excited about! Katie Pilbeam speaks to Saxo Bank on the data and the reality of Spanish lives with RT's Spanish correspondent Bricio Segovia. And the next time you make an international payment you might want to consider who is spying on you!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

London's Economic Boom Leaves Rest of Britain Behind

THE GUARDIAN: Exclusive: Guardian analysis highlighting regional imbalance raises troubling questions about who is enjoying UK's recovery

London's economy is doing even better after the banking crash than during the bubble – while nearly every other part of the UK has seen its economy shrink by comparison. Exclusive findings published by the Guardian show that London and the south-east are racing away from the rest of the UK at a pace that would have seemed almost incredible at the height of the financial panic.

During the boom from 1997 to 2006, London and the south-east was responsible for 37% of the UK's growth in output. Since the crash of 2007, however, their share has rocketed to 48%. Every other nation and region – with the exception of Scotland – has suffered relative decline over the same period. The upshot is about a quarter of the population is responsible for half of the UK's growth, leaving the remaining three-quarters of Britons to share the rest.

The research also shows that the UK's highest-earners have become relatively more prosperous after the crash, while many on middle incomes are being squeezed hard. In austerity Britain, the top 20% of earning households are enjoying 37.5% of all Britain's income growth, even after accounting for taxes and benefits. » | Aditya Chakrabortty | Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My comment:

It's surely time for some good old-fashioned regional economic policy à la Harold Wilson. Monies will then be re-distributed to poorer regions of the UK in order to boost industrial production (where there is any industry left), and certainly to boost economic activity in those regions. – © Mark

This comment appears here too.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Danke! 10,000 Britons On the Germany

DAILY EXPRESS: NEW figures last night revealed an unexpected benefits culture – with thousands of Britons taking hand-outs in Germany.

More than 10,000 UK nationals living in the country are on the dole and enjoy help similar to that given here.

Some rake in up to £23,318 a year from German taxpayers, with unemployed Britons making up a tenth of the expat population.

It is thought most went to Germany looking for work, in direct echoes of 1980s television drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, but failed to find employment, or lost it.

The news comes as the governments in London and Berlin continue to fight EU rules allowing “benefit tourists” to claim taxpayers’ money in any member state of their choosing.

Britain and Germany have two of the most generous benefit schemes for unemployed EU foreigners, both immediately giving payments to people actively looking for work. » | Ollie Gilman | Monday, October 21, 2013

Sir John Major Hits Out at 'Unacceptable' Hike in Prices and Calls for Excess Profit Tax on Big Six Energy Firms

Sir John Major, ex-Conservative Prime Minister
THE INDEPENDENT: Former Prime Minister says energy companies should fund people struggling to pay winter bills

Sir John Major challenged ministers to levy a windfall tax this winter on energy companies’ profits to protect the neediest in society as he warned Conservative chiefs of the electoral dangers of vacating the political centre ground.

The former Prime Minister urged his party to reconnect with voters in the North of England, where it had been relegated to the political fringe, and to help poor families struggling to make ends meet in tower blocks and council estates.

He predicted the Government would have to step in to prevent families from having to choose between heating and eating if there is a bitterly cold spell of weather.

Both Downing Street and Conservative sources distanced themselves from his comments, which follow Labour leader Ed Miliband’s promise of a 19-month freeze on gas and electricity prices if he wins the next general election.

But they failed to rule out the move entirely, stressing they had “no plans” to impose a windfall tax on the profits of the Big Six energy companies which are raising prices by up to ten per cent this year.

Speaking at a Westminster lunch, Sir John said Mr Miliband’s heart “was in the right place” but his head had “gone walkabout”.

The former Prime Minister added: “He did touch on an issue that’s very important. The private sector is something the Conservative party support, but when the private sector goes wrong or behaves badly I think it is entirely right to make changes and put it right.”

He said: “It is not acceptable to me, it ought not to be acceptable to anyone, that many people are going to have to choose between keeping warm and eating.” » | Nigel Morris | Deputy Political Editor | Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My comment:

Isn't it about time we starting thinking about re-nationalising these utility companies? These companies make excessive profits on the backs of consumers, pay no heed to their needs, have no need to increase prices because profits are already extremely healthy, and are increasing prices only to line the pockets of the fat cats that run the organisations. Enough is enough! Privatisation seemed like a good idea at the time. It has failed. The utilities should be placed back into the hands of the people. – © Mark

This comment appears here too.

Peter Schiff: US Lost Ability to Produce, Can't Live without Debt

Addicted to debt, moving from one quick fix to the next -- this is how the world sees America's debt ceiling saga. With its craving only temporarily satisfied, we're guaranteed to see a re-run of the debt tragicomedy in early 2014. Is it possible to break the vicious cycle, or is it a question of postponing the inevitable? To canvass these issues, Oksana is joined by 'Dr Doom' Peter Schiff, an investment broker who predicted the 2008 crisis.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Future of London: The New York Times on the Foreign Rich Buying Up Property

Tower Bridge, London
THE OBSERVER: Property in the capital has become a global reserve currency for the super elite, altering its delicate cultural ecology, says Michael Goldfarb. Then he explains why his story had such an impact

Our neighbours Lauren and Matt and their kids moved out of London to Cambridge the other week. Bibi, Andy and their two left for Bristol in June. Another of my eight-year-old's classmates and her family are heading out after Christmas. In my book this is a trend.

The moves are not examples of the lifecycle of the striving middle classes. Nor are they examples of middle-class folks being thrown on hard times by the sluggish British economy. The families moving out had good incomes. Matt, who had been looking for a house for more than three years, summed up the reason for leaving best: "I don't want to be a slave to a mortgage for the next 25 years." Given the astronomical rise in house prices here, he wasn't speaking metaphorically.

This is what happens when property in your city becomes a global reserve currency. For that is what property in London has become, first and foremost. The property market is no longer about people making a long-term investment in owning their shelter, but a place for the world's richest people to park their money at an annualised rate of return of around 10%. It has made my adopted hometown a no-go area for increasing numbers of the middle class.

According to Britain's Office for National Statistics, London house prices rose by 9.7% between July 2012 and July 2013. In the surrounding suburbs they rose by a mere 2.6%. The farther away from London you go, the lower the numbers get. When you finally cross the border into Scotland, house prices actually decline by 2%.

The gap between London prices and those of the rest of the country is now at a historic high and there is only one way to explain it.

London houses and apartments are a form of money.

The reasons are simple to understand. In 2011, at the height of the eurozone crisis, citizens of the two countries at the epicentre of the cataclysm – Greece and Italy – bought £400m of London bricks and mortar. The Italian and Greek rich, fearing the single currency would collapse, got their money out of euros and parked it some place where government was relatively stable and the tax regime was gentle – very, very gentle. Considering that tax evasion in Italy and Greece was a significant contributory factor to their debt problems, it just seems grotesquely cynical to encourage this kind of behaviour.

But that's what Britain in general, and London in particular, does. The city is essentially a tax haven with great theatre, free museums and formidable dining. If you can demonstrate that you have a residence in another country, you are taxed only on your British earnings. » | Michael Goldfarb | Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Archbishop Damns Energy Price Hikes in Controversial Attack: 'Firms Must Show Generosity...Not Just Maximise Their Profits'

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
MAIL ONLINE: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby criticised energy companies / The former oil executive said he understood anger over price hikes / Speaking exclusively to Mail on Sunday he said rises were 'huge moral issue'

The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised energy companies for imposing huge price rises that will hammer struggling families.

Justin Welby said power giants had a ‘massive’ moral duty beyond squeezing customers for maximum profit, and challenged the firms to justify their huge increases in bills.

The Archbishop, himself a former oil executive, said he understood the anger over apparently ‘inexplicable’ rises and called on the companies ‘to behave with generosity and not merely to maximise opportunity’.

He hit out after British Gas announced a 9.2 per cent hike, despite parent company Centrica recording a £2.7 billion profit last year. Other suppliers are expected to follow suit. Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, Britain’s most senior cleric said that rises which would add an average £123 a year to bills were ‘a huge moral issue’ for energy firms.

Archbishop Welby’s comments will heap pressure on the Government to get tougher on the industry. Energy prices have become a major political issue, with Labour accusing the Government of failing to tackle ‘rip-off’ companies, while Ministers have said consumers should switch to better deals and even wear jumpers to keep warm.

The Archbishop called on energy companies to be ‘conscious of their social obligations’ and said: ‘The impact on people, particularly on low incomes, is going to be really severe in this, and the companies have to justify fully what they are doing.

‘I do understand when people feel that this is inexplicable, and I can understand people being angry about it, because having spent years on a low income as a clergyman I know what it is like when your household budget is blown apart by a significant extra fuel bill and your anxiety levels become very high. That is the reality of it.’ » | Jonathan Petre and Paul Cagalan | Saturday, October 19, 2013

George Osborne: ‘Second-rate Britain’ Needs to Be More Like China

George Osborne in China
THE INDEPENDENT: Chancellor dismisses suggestions that China has a 'sweatshop' economy and wishes Britain would be more like the communist country

Britain is no longer great, is defeatist and unambitious and needs to be more like China, the Chancellor has said.

In an astonishing trashing of his country’s attitudes, George Osborne added that Britain had lost its “can do” approach and had been relegated to the status of a “second-rate power”.

He was speaking at the end of a five-day trip to China in which he had been awed by the speed and scale of China’s economic development.

Dismissing suggestions that China has a “sweatshop” economy, he said he wished Britain would be more like the communist country.

“I also feel a bit like, my God, we’ve really got to up our game as a country, and the whole of the West has to understand what is happening here in Asia,” the Daily Telegraph reported him as saying. » | Lewis Smith | Friday, October 18, 2013

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

America Faces 'Financial Armageddon', Says Kenneth Rogoff

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Former IMF chief economist compares President Barack Obama’s position to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis

America faces “constitutional breakdown” or “financial armageddon,” one of the country’s leading economists has warned, as talks to end the political stand-off in Washington fell apart.

Professor Kenneth Rogoff, a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, compared President Barack Obama’s position to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the Kennedy administration refused to negotiate with Cuba and the Soviet Union despite the threat of potential nuclear destruction.

“It's very hard to see a silver lining to this. It's a constitutional breakdown [but] threatening financial armageddon is blackmail," Mr Rogoff, who is now a professor of economics and public policy at Harvard, told the Telegraph.

“President Obama should push them [the Republicans] to the brink. This has implications beyond the moment. There is a danger of weakening the presidency on a long-term basis.” » | Katherine Rushton, US Business Editor | Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Fitch Threatens to Strip America of 'AAA' Credit Rating

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Rating agency says it could slash America's prized rating, while further delays to raising the debt ceiling will damage the country's credibility

Fitch has warned that it could strip America of its prized "AAA" credit rating, amid heightening fears that the world’s largest economy is headed for a default.

Prolonged negotiations in Washington risk “undermining confidence in the role of the US dollar as the preeminent global reserve currency, by casting doubt over the full faith and credit of the US,” Fitch said, as it placed the country on "negative watch". » | Katherine Rushton, US Business Editor | Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Birmingham Is 'National Disgrace' Says Ofsted Chief Inspector

Birmingham, Britain’s second city, has been branded a “national disgrace” and one of the worst places to grow up in the developed world.

Read the Telegraph article here

WIKI: Ofsted »

We'll Never Have It So Good Again

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The middle classes can no longer afford the houses and schools that their parents did – and the future looks even more squeezed for their children

The Government’s social mobility tsar, Alan Milburn, will this week warn that social mobility has gone into reverse. For the first time in a century, the middle classes are becoming worse off. In the words of one Whitehall official: “Social mobility is no longer just an issue for children from poor families. There’s a real risk that children from families with above-average incomes will in future have lower living standards than their parents.”

To which I can only ask: you mean you’ve only just noticed? What took you so long?

It has been at least 20 years since I realised that, even though I was earning more than my father had ever made in his life, I could never hope to afford to live in a house like the one I grew up in, nor give my children the kind of education he provided for me and my sisters. And I am not the child of a wealthy man. My father was a diplomat. He earned a modest Civil Service salary. But my mother had inherited a few thousand pounds from her late father. So in 1964 they used that money to buy a five-bedroom detached house opposite Kew Gardens in south-west London. It cost £8,000.

In the early 1980s my parents sold it for the impressive-sounding sum of £120,000, having given me the chance to buy it first. I had to decline their offer: £120,000 was way beyond my means at the time. But I was at least able to get on to the housing ladder. In 1984, my then girlfriend, now wife, Clare and I bought a tiny one-bed Fulham flat for £34,000. So that was more than four times what my parents had paid for a large house. But it was at least affordable: about twice our joint incomes at the time.

Meanwhile, my old family home kept appreciating. Had house prices kept pace with inflation, one worth £8,000 in 1964 should now cost a little over £137,000. Well, in August 2011, our former home was placed on the market. The asking price was £2,475,000. So a house that had once been affordable by a young, middle-class couple was now being aimed at buyers who were, by any normal standards, very rich indeed. Read on and comment » | David Thomas | Monday, October 14, 2013

Greek Universities Face Massive Job Cuts

Eight universities in Greece have closed because of a strike by administrators due to government cuts.

Inuit Struggling with Food Costs in Canada

Isolated, previously nomadic communities are struggling with some of the most expensive food prices in the country.

Monday, 14 October 2013

France’s Sunday Shopping Debate

China Buyout: Beijing Firms Snap Up European Industries

Having amassed a 3 trillion dollar warchest - Chinese firms have gone on a shopping offensive, in Europe. Just today, it's been reported that Beijing is on the brink of a multi-billion deal to snap up shares in the UK's nuclear industry. And not even iconic London taxis, have been spared the interest of cash-rich businessmen from Beijing. As RT's Polly Boiko reports.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Lagarde Tells US Lawmakers They Risk Tipping World into Recession

Christine Lagarde, Head of the IMF

THE INDEPENDENT: Stark warning from IMF chief comes as search for deal to extend debt ceiling shifts to Senate

American politicians risk causing a “massive disruption the world over” that could tip the global economy into another recession if politics gets in the way of raising the country’s debt ceiling and the ongoing government shutdown remains unresolved, Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, warned today as the US Senate became the focus of talks to end the budgetary deadlock in Washington.

The stark assessment by Ms Lagarde, a former French Finance Minister, came after news that talks between the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, and President Barack Obama had broken down, putting the onus on the Senate leadership to craft a bipartisan pact to avert what experts predict would be financial catastrophe. » | Nikhil Kumar | New York | Sunday, October 13, 2013

Saturday, 12 October 2013

'EU Faces Catastrophe with Pain, Suffering Equal to WWII’

The Red Cross says Europe is heading into a long period of mass unemployment, inequality and social despair. The organization believes austerity policies are to blame according to a report obtained by Britain's Guardian newspaper. It forecasts bleak times ahead for about 120 million Europeans living in, or close to, poverty. The report says those out of work for more than a year amount to 11 million. For more thoughts on Europe's sinking economy RT joined by Chris Clarke, a senior lecturer at Nottingham Business School.

Related »

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Austerity Pushing Europe into Social and Economic Decline, Says Red Cross

A homeless beggar in Athens
THE GUARDIAN: Critique of response to EU debt crisis highlights unemployment, widening poverty gap, and growing risk of social unrest

Europe is sinking into a protracted period of deepening poverty, mass unemployment, social exclusion, greater inequality, and collective despair as a result of austerity policies adopted in response to the debt and currency crisis of the past four years, according to an extensive study being published on Thursday.

"Whilst other continents successfully reduce poverty, Europe adds to it," says the 68-page report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. "The long-term consequences of this crisis have yet to surface. The problems caused will be felt for decades even if the economy turns for the better in the near future … We wonder if we as a continent really understand what has hit us."

The damning critique, obtained exclusively by the Guardian, of the policy response to the debt crisis that surfaced in Greece in late 2009 and raised fundamental questions about the viability of the euro single currency, foresees extremely gloomy prospects for tens of millions of Europeans. » | Ian Traynor in Brussels | Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Brilliant Fed Chair and the Clueless President

US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT – OPINION: Obama's cavalier treatment of Ben Bernanke is yet another indication of an administration clueless about how serious the country's economic condition is

How good is your memory? Not many people today have personal memories of the Great Depression some 80 years ago, when thousands of banks closed. It would be natural, you'd think, to have a burning memory of what happened just five years ago when the U.S. banking system was on the brink of a similar collapse. The housing bubble burst. Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. Banks pulled back on lending, investors avoided new bonds and everyone seemed to be stockpiling cash. The economy started to contract by 5 percent to 6 percent annually. Trillions of dollars were knocked off the value of U.S. companies. The public and financial authorities had reason to believe nothing much could be done to avert a rerun of the Great Depression.

George Santayana (and before him the 18th century British philosopher and politician Edmund Burke) had history in mind when he observed that those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Five years hardly qualifies as "history," so it is unnerving that even supposedly well-informed people have forgotten how we got out of the mess. Last year, for example, the House of Representatives followed the lead of former Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul (now taken up by his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul) in passing a motion for an audit of the Federal Reserve, as if the Fed had been a cause of our problems.

On the contrary, the Federal Reserve was quite simply our last hope. It was the chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke who came to the rescue. Bernanke, a former Princeton professor, was a scholar of the Great Depression, a background that proved critical. Right from his start in 2006, he demonstrated a tough independence. Unconvinced of inflation predictions in 2007, he refused to continue ratcheting up interest rates – and he was proved right. When the crisis hit in 2008, he went way beyond the standard response of a central banker, which would have been to lower interest rates and hope that cheaper credit would somehow work its way to more borrowing, more activity, more jobs. » | Mortimer B. Zuckerman | Friday, August 09, 2013 [?]

Global Wealth Inequality – What You Never Knew You Never Knew

The richest 300 people in the world are more wealthy than the poorest 3 billion combined, and every year rich countries take over 10 times more money from poor countries than they give in aid.

Russia: 110 Russians Own 35% of the Money

DAILY EXPRESS: Just 110 people own more than a third of Russia's total wealth, the highest level of inequality in the world barring small Caribbean nations, a new report says.

Investment bank Credit Suisse said that the group owned 35% of household wealth.

Worldwide, billionaires account for just 1-2% of total wealth but Russia has one billionaire for every 11 billion dollars (£6.9 billion) in wealth while in the rest of the world there is only one for 170 billion dollars (£107 billion).

The fall of Communism saw Russia's most prized assets sold off to a small circle of businessmen later known as oligarchs. President Vladimir Putin allowed them to keep their wealth in exchange for their political loyalty. » | AP | Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Everything You Need to Know About Janet Yellen

Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) --- Bloomberg Television's Erik Schatzker examines the career of Janet Yellen, President Obama's nominee to be Fed Chairman. (Source: Bloomberg)

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Barack Obama to nominate Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chairman: President Barack Obama set to name Janet Yellen as first female chairman of US Federal Reserve on Wednesday afternoon » | Katherine Rushton, US Business Editor | Wednesday, October 09, 2013

My comment:

The American Dream is over. If the US keep on printing money – and it will under Janet Yellen – the great US experiment will also soon be over too. One can only conclude that the US is on the skids. – © Mark

This comment appears here too.

On Brink of Disaster? Budget Bicker Blows Up US 'Exceptional' Democratic Image

President Obama has refused to discuss the budget with Republicans until Congress reopens the government and raises the debt ceiling. That's after eight days of a federal halt and just over a week to go until the US runs out of cash and defaults on its debts. And as RT's Marina Portnaya reports, America's partisan politics are pushing the nation and the global economy to the brink of disaster.

Monday, 7 October 2013

As Socialist Dream Crumbles, Venezuelans Find Nicolas Maduro 'A Bad Copy' Of Chavez

Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of Venezuela
THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: Amid food shortages, rampant inflation and widespread electricity blackouts, many Venezuelans are wondering if Chavez chose the right heir to his revolution

The army has been sent into toilet paper factories, fights for basic foodstuffs have resulted in several deaths and new, multi-million dollar oil tankers are sitting idle in dock. And, despite sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela’s socialist government can’t quite manage to keep the lights on.

Now many in Venezuela are wondering how much longer President Nicolas Maduro, the anointed successor of the country’s firebrand Leftist leader Hugo Chavez, can keep hold of the reins of its crumbling socialist revolution.

Last week Mr Maduro was forced to turn to a well-worn answer for his country’s woes, blaming a US plot to “sabotage the electrical system and the Venezuelan economy” and kicking out Washington’s envoy to the South American country. “Out of Venezuela!” he railed on state television, adding in English: “Yankees go home!”

It was a move copied straight from the playbook of Chavez, the vocal anti-imperialist who passed away in February, and one which killed off any hopes of rapprochement with the US following years of thorny relations.

If that wasn’t enough, Mr Maduro then accused the US Drug Enforcement Agency of orchestrating the presence of 1.3 tons of cocaine seized last month from an Air France plane flying out of Caracas. With the government long accused by Washington of complicity in the drug trade - counter-narcotics officials say some 50 per cent of cocaine in Britain is now trafficked through Venezuela - the bust was likely a US plot using mafias to brand the country a “narco-state”, he said. » | Alasdair Baverstock in Caracas and Hannah Strange | Sunday, October 06, 2013

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Schweiz: Eine Initiative soll unser Denken umkrempeln

Gut 120'000 Bürger sagen Ja zur Idee des bedingungslosen Grundeinkommens (BGE). Für sie ein Stück Gerechtigkeit, für die Gegner der Niedergang des Abendlands. Die Initianten möchten in erster Linie einen öffentlichen Diskurs entfachen. Ob ihre Rechnung aufgeht, darf indes bezweifelt werden.

Related »

Cash Bern: Swiss May Grant Unconditional Income for All

Swiss citizens are demanding a crucial change in the constitution, pushing for the introduction of a guaranteed income for everyone. RT teamed up with RUPTLY video to follow the story.RT's Peter Oliver is in Bern where supporters of the basic income idea have gathered for a rally.