Tuesday, 14 July 2015

meanwhile, back at the agora oder unsichbares hand

I fear that the Greek people are being saddled with a curse that will survive many generations, sort of like predatory pay-day loan storefront lent legitimacy by central banks’ underwriting that traps people down on their luck in a vicious and unending cycle, pushed into a coup d’Etat. The most optimistic estimates predict, I heard, for repayment—just getting back to zero and being broke again (the condition that most countries cling precariously to) and not in arrears or receivership—is at best a hundred years and that is contingent on a period of peace and stability that has not been enjoyed in a long, long time.

The Greeks, of course, have a term for such hegemony already in their philosophical quiver—though in a different context—namely, Frankocratia, the period of rule by the Germans and the French (the Franks) with the mission-spill of the Crusades, and while I think it behooves one to have an abundance of caution when assigning blame, not because the affairs awash with pure intentions, but pointing the fingers at a an obvious villain tends to deflect attention from the real Putsch and even absolve the corporate interests behind everything. The Invisible Hand of the market. Meanwhile, Athens is in the process of readying a fire-sale of its heirlooms and heritage as collateral just to have permission to re-open their banks—including institutions that were profitable for the state, like the national lottery, airport administration and even becoming more restrictive to public right-of-way and beach access. Who knows what’s to follow? The privatisation process will be overseen by Germany, which has some experience in this field, having had established the so-called Treuhandanstalt (trust agency) to administer the transition of state-controlled industry into to the capitalist system after the reunification and four decades of East German pension funds and business paradigms had to be integrated. This programme has not been without its contentious detractors, hardships and heart-ache as well.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

bypass or great big convoy

Via the ever-excellent Kottke comes this rather profound study and projection of how self-driving vehicles will alter the economy and particularly the gas-food-lodging infrastructure built to support commercial trucking. While it does not take much boldness to imagine a phalanx of safer, more efficient robot guided convoys taking truckers out of the drivers’ seats as it has already come to pass, but the impact does not of course stop with this last lament of middle-class bread-winners.
The article is written from an American perspective and by analogy compares the seismic changes that could occur to those communities that the interstate freeway system passed by and withered for the sake of expedience, but I think the analysis is completely universal. With manufacturing increasingly retreating into yonder tightfistedness, goods are forever being shuttled back and forth. Consuming merchandise created and delivered by machine, vast swathes of the human workforce (and ultimately, all of it) become redundant and without access to meaningful employment. The untenable situation is accelerating to an important junction, wherein either there is no demand to satisfy the production-capacity because no one has the tender to pay for it or money becomes a rather meaningless trifle and in a utopian society, humans are at last allowed to enjoy the fruit of their labour. I suppose that’s precisely the point of progress but it is hard for me to imagine that the robber-barons might herald this event joyfully—especially if they knowing ushered in their own severance. What do you think? Will those automated cars drive us all off a cliff or make our existence better by abolishing capital?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


once and future sins: a projection on how future generations might judge us a century hence

club med: a look at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations in Marseilles

the mads are calling: a chart to rate evil geniuses

she doesn’t even realise she’s a replicant: descend into uncanny valley with these interviews with robot and mind-clone, Bina 48

brainy, hefty, jokey: explaining secular stagnation through the lens of Smurf Village

Thursday, 22 January 2015

parity, parody

For more than a decade, the euro has outpaced the US dollar—consistently rising from a worth of under a dollar to this present inverted affair.

Though some may argue that such baited and contentious policy decisions are already figured into the markets and exchanges, others anticipate a precipitous fall in the worth of the euro against the dollar, perhaps settling at 1:1, should the European Union decide—be sold on—unanimously to introduce what’s called a bond-purchase programme. The plan (EN/DE), according to those in the know, provides for around fifty billion € in debt underwritten by reserve banks per month, and is just a dressed-up (or dressed-down) of the quantitative-easing (printing new money in order to cover old obligations) that’s been the standard-practise of America, Japan and the UK for decades. The EU has been philosophically and constitutionally opposed to resorting to such ends—even when things looked their bleakest for the Eurozone, but I suppose now do not want to be seen as kicking the can down the road, merely deferring future crises by not being bold and robust enough with the recovery. I think it is also a path not to trot down, but what do I know? Some of the same sagacious individuals point to the monetary policies of those countries above as having a net positive effect, since it served to keep the value of those currencies artificially low and thus favourable for foreign trade; Germany and Europe’s other industrial producers would benefit from more attractive exports.
Wage stagnation and inflation also seem to accompany this maneuver, no matter how good it is for trade. Though there are certain expectations and cursory discussions that seem to point to foregone conclusions, all nuance may not yet be exhausted or explored. Germany is rather vituperatively opposed to committing to quantitative-easing in its current form, seen as enabler and co-morbid with inflation and irresponsible governance. So that Germans tax-payers are not seen as liable for the weaker economies that can’t repay their debts under this latest scheme, two ideas are under consideration—either managing the whole programme through the ECB in Frankfurt or making national reserve banks accountable to the disbursement and repayment of those loans—essentially monies owed to themselves. What do you think? Does just spinning gold from straw become eventually too tempting?

Friday, 5 December 2014

coolhunting or memetic

Via Kottke, Business Week magazine celebrates its eighty-fifth birthday with an articulated list of the eighty-five most troublesome concepts in the market-place.

The city-state of Singapore, mortgages, the interwebs, a coffee magnate, infant formula, out-sourcing, open-source, and global positioning among many others are included with detailed articles and charts that explain how each of these ideas changed the economy and society. For example, #75 is Jane Fonda’s Workout, which propelled both the VCR and the self-help industry, #84 is the Polaroid instant camera, which was a harbinger of social media and #25 is the decoding of the human genome that launched a mad-dash for Big Pharma and fostered an era of not scientific ignorance but rather scientific apathy as if anything that could be captive and quantified warranted no further curiosity. You ought to check out the entire listing of big ideas and maybe you’ll be the next innovative insurgent yourself.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

energie-wende oder junck bonds

Lately, the press regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership treaty has mostly been lately either smug resignation to the inevitable or nebulous fears that come across a bit feeble and embarrassing for the agreement’s opposition.
Naked Capitalism, however, delivers an accessible and literate summary of the arguments and developments that are coinciding with Germany turning sour on the whole deal with America with its perceptions and understanding of what’s at stake matured and appropriately jaded. Aside from the mutual watering-down of environmental- and labour-regulations and other concerns, there is more over the clear potential for corruption with revolving-door commissars and “judges” to act as the court of last appeal in disputes between member states and businesses. It is this last point that is focusing Germany’s awareness—what with the German government already at the mercy of the trade courts and one foreign energy concern’s self-interests over the country’s resolution to wean itself away from nuclear power. Germany faces reparations for losses the company will incur due to this decision—and the company’s right to seek compensation for its investors is already enshrined in legislation that could override a stand taken by the state. Settlement was eventually reached without invoking arbitration—which is a very Byzantine process by design—but if the legal framework is unraveled and corporate bullying is made easier and pushed out of view, it is not hard to imagine that Germany’s energy-reform could have taken a very different trajectory.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

two-bit, four-bit

The winning design team for the upcoming series of Norway's paper currency features pixelated reflections on the observe of the natural wonders that appear on the face of kroner. It strikes me that the Nordic countries have gone mostly cashless—including a mechanism to donate electronically to the basket as it is passed down the pews at church—and successfully branding each bill with a bar-code (to prevent counterfeiting and to usher in a form of electronic transaction) accessible to any retailer and financial institution without the associated fear of knowing the chain of possession. I do rather like the designs and have no issue with reducing lag-time, however, being old-fashioned, I like to sequester my allowance and have a few coins left over to plonk into savings myself.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

blue light special or lender of last resort

A major American retailer has finally managed to run rings around regulators and public-interest groups and is able to additionally bundle bank-like services for its patrons, many of whom belong to the demographic where they cannot avoid this particular discounter and are not of the means to be courted by other financial institutions.

The infamously miserly business-model of this company already enjoys the reputation of the destroyer of small businesses and Main Street, USA—long before on-line commerce was accused of demolishing brick-and-mortar, patronising suppliers of questionable ilk, and well as—being the employer of a large percentage of the workforce—pays workers so poorly that they could not get by without government assistance, supplemented by tax-payers at the expense of other public-good, and really the tithe and tax on the poor that the government tried to make less painful. The tithe is in the fine-print, as the banking-outreach seems rather harmless and even magnanimous at first, but there are transaction- and maintenance-fees that ensure a steady bleeding with hardly an infusion. The powerful lobbying arm of this corporation has additionally blocked any legislation that might award the same sort of bank-like powers to a lumbering US Postal Service, despite the system's obviously good geographical spread and the fact that post offices did exactly that until its charter was not renewed in the mid 1960s. What do you think? I have to ask, as I do not have the privilege of ever shopping there.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

it happened on the way to the forum: semper fideles or republican guard

Just as they say, Rome was not built in a day, neither was its downfall something sudden and decisive: a long, steady decline that lasted centuries characterised the collapse of the Western Empire after a turbulent succession of emperors. No single factor precipitated this erosion become avalanche, though there were certainly pivotal moments, but before indulging, to the point of obsessing over the next episode’s surprises, the History of Rome series from Mike Duncan, I had not considered military-coup as a cause.

It is not that the brilliant arc of story, with over a hundred installments, was in defense of some thesis to lay blame on the Roman soldier—quite otherwise though there is a coherent element of foreshadowing, through the lens of retrospection and to a degree allegory, but I suppose I believed that Rome imploded under the weight of bad leadership, religious uprisings, popular revolts, invasion or by some sort of divine disfavour, and had not considered that first surfeiting and then placating greed was among the chief the constituents. The turmoil began to well with the political and practical disdain that Domitian held for senatorial authority—rather, protocol already at this point, replaced and redoubled by the fawning and appeasement of the military—a calculus that all this emperor’s, no matter how long or short their tenure, successors would follow. First, the elite Prรฆtorian Guard, the body-guards of the imperial family, sort of like the US secret-service, realised that they could demand a high price for their loyalty and protection, which rapidly spread to the ordinary ranks of Legionnaires, both on the frontiers and closer to home. There are several instances of regicide by the Prรฆtorians, whose membership and influence grew after overturning the safeguards that were instituted by Tiberius, realising the potential dangers of maintaining a standing-army in times of peace and involved regular rotation in place of duty that separated the troops in order to deter the fomenting of separate allegiances. The first shoe fell during what is known infamously as the Year of the Three Emperors—to be bested later—not for poor governance but by the army openly prostituting its fidelity: in the end, the Guard auctioned off imperator to the highest bidder (Didius Julianus, who reigned for all of nine weeks) who could pay them the largest donative, a pledge of personal wealth that was not always delivered, in exchange for their support. During this time, the relevance of the Senate occasionally returned with some measure of deference but the army remained the object of pandering, with their wages being increased exponentially, and there was no abating this expectation once precedence had been established. Of course, this custom put the economy in quite a pinch—especially with a paucity of new conquests and plunder. Seeking a solution, after citizens of the city of Rome were subject to taxation after centuries of being exempt and relying on outside revenue, Emperor Caracalla decided to naturalise every person (though not the female- or the slave-types) of the provinces, in order to increase tax-revenue. The tax-man was also deployed in full force—supplementing the personal collection that the emperors undertook with purging potential subversives and confiscating their estates so as to pay for this support-bubble. Once coveted by all, Roman citizenship was looking more and more like a liability. Caracalla was an absolutely horrid person and leader but did not live long enough to place him within the pantheon of truly vile emperors.
Caracalla took his legacy in another direction by commissioning monumental baths to be built to the south of Rome, luxurious even by spa-crazed Roman estimations, which stand as one the eternal city’s last great construction projects, as later emperors even abandoned Rome for Naples and Milan as unsullied capitals before ultimately transporting it eastward. What do you think? It isn’t as if the politicians and polity at the time caught wind of these events and right away recognised social upheaval beyond. There are contemporary analogues, of course, but do you think the that the Romans were aware of poisoning their own wells or understood the consequences of the way their Empire was defended?

Friday, 5 September 2014

superfecta or theatre-in-the-round

NATO representatives have gathered in Wales in order to reassert the relevance of their club and address a depressing array of threats to broader peace. Such short workshops rarely result in any lasting resiliency or reflection, and instead in greater polarisation for fear of admitting to motivations that lie beneath hidden by the beards of รฉminence gris—but that's the trident of institutional problems. Nationally endemic problems can happily be ignored in such an ideological environment, and provocation buffets attention from all corners: Western powers are making a calculated (even unto failure) to punish Russia's stance in the Crimea with economic sanctions that are curiously—if not backfiring—only punishing to the sanction-givers, as Russia has independent means and no shortage of other buyers—and oddly chosen rhetoric, like attributing the false hubris that it might take Russia as much as two weeks to take Ukraine, when in fact it would be much quicker.

What version of history will bear the laurels of authority is a mystery in this complicated situation, but I am sure that no one comes out innocent, since after apparently winning the the imperium of non-interference in the Middle East, the organisation was directed to pick a fight with a tried and true paradigm and eagerly take up some Cold War housekeeping. And while patriotic aims fall away in this framework, the American general who has two roles that shuttle him between Stuttgart, Germany and Mons, Belgium as the European Commander and Supreme NATO Commander respectively, is prudently or brazenly arranging war-games in Russia's front yard and threatening to violate a gentlemans' agreement between Reagan and Gorbachev to not advance the bounds of NATO. Meanwhile, this posturing is being matched by more provocative sabre-rattling that is even harder to say whether it was factored in from the Caliphate. It has made overtures for overturning not only the United States, but also the royal house of Saud, and lately Russia with aims of expansion into Chechnya and the Balkans and reprisal for support of the Syrian government. Seemingly beyond the good and evil of media portrayals already (and seeing alibis as superfluous), I would wager Russia has few qualms in countering any attack by any means needed. The growing arsenal of the Caliphate and indelicate threats, however, are a source of concern not to be dismissed, what with some eleven commercial jet-liners procured from the captured airport in Tripoli ready to be deployed. All parties have a vision of the world better than the present state of things, but said aims are seen to wither in the face of real suffering and reckoning.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

who's who oder them

Not only does Austria get to host the EuroVision Song Contest next summer, the Interalpen Hotel, the venue of the secretive summit already in 1988, near the western Tyrolean village of Telfs will again accommodate the Bilderberg Conference.

Shielded from media coverage and the raw feelings of constituents, this steering-committee—according to many—are the deciding transatlantic oligarchy of bankers, politicians and military commanders that dream-up the agenda as it will be presented for the coming year—with matters and outcomes already settled. Future debate and pitches are only done for show, it is argued. Whether or not this is the case—and I am not sure if its more shameful for the bad marks of poor performance or for the conspiratorial airs—there have always been such gatherings and influence is never non grata. What is more bothersome, in my opinion—unless of course democracy and dialogue is really only shadow-boxing—is that the culture coming together is strictly uniform and meant to promote Anglo-Saxon values (among its applicants and supplicants) on tour on the Continent.

Monday, 18 August 2014

it happened on the way to the forum: proletariat or body-politic

As no reliable, direct records of Roman history are extant prior to the sacking of the city by the Gauls in 390 BC, politicians and historians had considerable license in constructing the mythology, building prophetic parallels and claim firsts that may or may not have happened exactly in the Romans’ favour.
One example was in the creation of the Republic, which preceded the institution of democracy in Athens by a bald year—with the ousting of the city’s final monarch and the pledge of the populace never again to embrace monarch—and pain of death for any usurper. The democracy practiced among both great civilizations is quite different—with citizenship not a birthright, slavery and suffrage vested in only land-owning males—than contemporary democracies and were quite different in terms of leadership from each other. The composition of the consul evolved many times over the centuries, but in general, candidates were elected by their peers to a term of office of one year—no reelection could be sought for consecutive years and often there was the counter-balance of co-magistrates—each with the power to veto (I forbid) any decision of the other. Because the annual election to select new leaders was also subject to veto and considerable delay, usually a compromise was brokered—lest any politician be accused of hording too much power. No duly selected consul could claim emergency powers or institute martial-law, but such situations of course arose quite often. In order to manage the ship of state during war and invasions, a separate individual was selected—no campaigning—as dictator, given absolute power to prosecute the task he was elected for, and then expected to graciously retire. All dictators of Rome kept good to this oath—until Julius Caesar. Even with this new form of government, a large demographic, the majority of the population, were not free from tyranny, however, as the patrician class excluded the plebeians, the artisans and soldiers, from high office, both secular and religious.

Disenfranchised, the plebeians saw little benefit from the wars they fought and had little influence over defensive policy. Insurmountable debt was also a common problem—the common people having become inescapably indentured to the usury of the elite, with a lot of debts piling up while away at war and households bought on credit. The plebeians pushed for social reform in stages, mostly through their most powerful weapon—withdrawal (secession plebis) or a sort of a general strike that left the city defenseless. More than once, the city was invaded and the senate lured them back with rhetoric—saying it was no good for the hands and mouth to begrudge the lazy stomach. Some changes were forth-coming: though not outright land re-distribution or debt-forgiveness but a limit on how much land the wealthy could own, not eligibility to stand for consul but the creation of office of tribune chosen by and for the plebs (also with crucial veto-powers), and perhaps, most importantly the Twelve Tables (Leges Duodecim Tabularum) that listed the laws of Rome on display in the commons for all to read and memorise to protect from capricious justice—which mostly sided with the rich and powerful. There was, however, at least one insult in the codex, committing one unwritten law, a social more, to the bronze tablets forbidding the marriage between a patrician and a plebeian citizen.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

meanwhile, back at the ranch

Isn't it a enjoy how everything is delivered just in time and in a neat little package to assuage the capitalists?

Mexico, which has a staunch reputation for protecting its native resources and treasures—even going so far as to forbid the import or shedding of American genetically-altered foodstuffs (but who would know, since Mexico only makes the news for its trespasses), has agreed after seven decades to relax the state monopoly on the petroleum industry and allow American and European concerns, chomping at the bit access to vast, untapped reserves. That such an announcement comes unheralded at the moment when American influence in the Middle East is collapsing and Russia threatens to cut-off the EU is quite a marvelous coincidence that bears no further investigation, as providence takes care of its own, even when the reporting is magical-thinking.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

autarky or war of words

It is strange how words become ammunition in reporting:

one would, reading the coverage of Russia's decision to impose strict limits on imports of US and EU goods, think it was something that could be laughed-off and easily dismissed as a bluff or empty-threat, whereas the commensurable response by the West and associates is called by the more macho name of embargo. Sparingly, the term sanctions is sometimes applied. Pretensions aside, I believe that it is a buyers' market, and it is not so easy to find contingency consumers as it is to find alternate suppliers.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

montagsdemo oder wir sind das volk

Though never claiming to be the moral successor to the Montagsdemonstrationen, those peaceful rallies that took place in the late eighties in the public square of the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, spreading to other cities, protesting the ruling party in East Germany and instrumental in making imminent the reunification, the German press is drawing parallels to a movement began this Spring in Hamburg called Vigils for Peace (Mahnwachen fรผr den Frieden).

The fact that these assemblies, propagated to cities all over Germany, also take place on Mondays, apparently makes the organisers an easy target and fuels the disdain of journalists, which in turn forms public-opinion or ignorance thereof. The Vigils were originally called together to discuss Russian overtures in the Crimea and enlighten people to other dangerous potential parallels, but the group soon expanded its focus, given that Germany seems at times a humble understudy in foreign affairs—a second to the US and EU (a role particularly convenient when one's economic relations are jeopardised). Also they shifted their focus, because we cycle faster and faster from one crisis to another and often new developments are suffered (publicised loudly) with a pretext of distraction—attention having become the most scarce commodity. Now the discussion includes integrity in reporting, Germany's relationship with the US and above all the monetary authority of reserve banks—especially the Fed—and how they influence governments nonpareil. Though barely mentioned during the escalation of tensions in Ukraine, now that the vigilantes might want to essay the bigger-picture, they are dismissed by the media as a band of conspiracy-theorists, and labeled with the muting attributes of being right-leaning and anti-Semitic. Though tolerated and ultimately effective, I wonder how the state-controlled press regarded the Montagsdemos.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

duress or just like a boss

Spiegel's International Desk (auf Englisch) features an interview with the one of the Fugitive’s lawyers and another former agency contractor regarding the US intelligence apparatchik's unflagging pursuit of complete, omnipotent surveillance and Germany's relationship as a junior partner. The short but insightful piece equates that drive to a form of state-sanctioned religion, having one self-same loftier aim of population-control, foiled with another much more mundane and human of having the economic upper-hand and influence over government regulation in business and for emerging technologies. Of course I rationally understood these sort of goals, especially being able to poll the mood of mergers and acquisitions or trade agreements before they were put before national assemblies or eked out to a public, with or without any input into the proposal, and adjust language and sciency-sounding reviews accordingly.
I knew that the US government and its branches were basically indentured servants, in peonage, to its corporate masters. I held on to one or two naรฏve beliefs, however, until hearing how the agency had enjoyed an uneasy but privileged spot in its host-nation of Germany since the conclusion of WWII, and all checks and balances and feet-dragging were summarily dismissed in the wake of 9/11, when even despite public renunciation of the aggression, Germany became an unquestioning staging-ground. Privately—at least among politicians—the grief and guilt that Germany had to bear over having allowed the 9/11 hijackers to reside in their country was something graver than the other guilt and shame that Germany already carried and had no choice in this polite world other than to acquiesce. That—for me, instantly dispelled any room for some fretful but ultimately benevolent ideology or unbridled patriotism driving America's businesses' posture and insatiable hunger for control and dominance at any cost. The public face of it, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency (nor of no other country neither), are just costly work-horses and can visit no end of humiliation and intimidation upon individuals—costly as well in terms of political capital and good-will, but that price is dwarfed by what corporations, which know no allegiance nor shame, stand to gain and tithe the government for its services. This exercise is far from one in security, and despite pretensions and campaigns to the contrary, it is solely concerned with maintaining and increasing treasure and comfort for the few.

Friday, 4 July 2014

one percenters or singing for your supper

Although there have been recent developments in the court room that seem to favour hyper-capitalism, I suspect that litigation between the government of Argentina and a hedge-fund manager is far from over. When the South American nation's economy was down-and-out and on the verge of collapse, a band of merry angel investors bought up bonds at a few pennies on the dollar. Now that the Argentine economy is back on its feet and the bonds have matured, from being not worth the paper they were printed on to being worth billions of dollars (on paper) and the hedge-fund team is demanding payment in full. Never mind that making this payment would destroy the Argentine market all over again and the their initial predatory investment did not in anyway help the country to extract itself from the financial mess, which is ostensibly why countries expose themselves to such vultures in the first place. US judges have again ruled that the hedge-fund manager has the right to his claim—though it would be nothing more than a Pyrrhic victory. Though smug and satisfied with this impossible ruling, I think that they would like nothing more than to see the proceedings drag on and only threaten to foreclose on Argentina, since that's what banks do best.  As sad as this tale is, it is not unique.
With historically low interest rates, banks are disinclined still to lend to mere mortals when or conduct the non-swash-buckling daily work of the institutions, being that the banks themselves can afford to borrow money from central banks the world over at say one percent interest and use that loan to purchase government bonds and securities, which pays dividends back to the bank of two to three percent, effectively making the government pay banks for this bit of the banksters' entertainment. Why would the bother with anything else than this safe and secure scheme? Government and the markets conspire to keep this economic theatre going, making cosmetic adjustments here and there when the system looks in danger of collapse.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

comptoir national d'escompte

Already facing bullying by US authorities for violating (US) economic sanctions imposed against certain unfriendly nations during the past decade, France's diplomatic judgment and will is being freshly questioned by America.  It’s a tragic irony that a nation’s banks and military-industrial complex, instead of the crown and sceptre, have become the synecdoche for a government, people and posture.  Told it would be unwise to allow the sale of a new warship to Russia, the French government appears to be the victim of blackmail—by some estimations.  Given that the fines for sanctions, in the billions and far exceeding the bank’s annual profits, were already reduced in exchange for pleading guilty to charges of falsifying records and conspiracy (bad behavior certainly, but unrelated to the indictment of doing business with Iran, Cuba et. al) and the punitive scolding of denying the bank the ability to conduct dollar transactions was dropped, it seems like it can’t be anything else than extortion and backing out of a deal with Russia might bring the judgment down further.

The dollar embargo seems like a secondary punishment but the potential effects are much greater, as the French bank manages a huge basket of American pension funds, which could go into receivership if the bank is suspended, and stopping dollar transactions for any significant period of time could further destablise the Euro-Zone economy, especially in the current environment, when there is pressure on all banks to lend and encourage growth (coerced not just by the rhetoric of politicians but also with negative interest rates) and at the same time to strengthen their assets and reserves in preparation for an upcoming audit of the system’s ability to weather a crisis (stress-test).  There is also the matter of the Trans-Atlantic Trade Agreement between the EU and the States that is entering its final phase of negotiation just now.  What do you think—is it blackmail or enforcement?  Swiss banks were served also a couple months ago, admitting to allegations it tutored US citizens on tax-avoidance and obfuscation.  There seems to be a double-standard (or a higher-standard) to which some are held, in any case, as there have been no judgments for US banking institutions despite their admission of complicity and profit in connection to the price-fixing and manipulation scheme of borrowing and lending among banks—the so-called LIBOR scandal where the interest-rates on those generally short-term loans were falsified. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014


America’s chief export, with the hearty support of an endless string of industrialists and fund managers (whose livelihoods are fully vested in keeping up appearances and maintaining the status quo) and legal and political framework of intimidation and opportunism that is in every way constituted to ensure the enduring favourable market conditions, has been war and strife for quite some time.  The trade has not been limited, of course, to proxy fighting but such business is easily over-shadowed by more direct lines of engagement in recent years.

With the situation in Ukraine once again pitching towards chaos after the lifting of a cease-fire, brokered by Russia but terminated by the sovereign government’s frustrations for not being able to defend itself from separatist—reportedly pro-Russian fighters, who were not abiding by the conditions of the stand-down.  This conflict is very opaque and tossing up more filters and lenses is not the most helpful activity, but one wonders if from the vantage point of the future, finding oneself in a bleaker dystopia than the one we are living in already, the context and understanding of American meddling might seem clearer.   Just as Eastern Europe had no voice for foreign policy nor internal affairs contrary to that of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the bloc of the European Union and much of the rest of the world is held ransom by American dictates—with banking regulations, the media, asymmetrical trade treaties and political sympathies kept in check.
Ukraine’s request to lift the cease-fire, with the professed backing of America, was apparently promulgated by a resolution announced by the EU condemning Russian suppression of Ukrainian pro-Western factions.   Explicitly or implicitly, all of this looks to be orchestrated by America—including the sovereign government of Ukraine, whose opposition has just-cause to fear, considering who might have installed it and decrees its loyalties.  America’s vying for compassion is not to promote Democracy (not even, I think, in the face of Communism) but only hegemony, ensuring its interests and markets are protected and that competition is eliminated.  If Russia’s pulled asunder—over this tug-of-war pitch called Old and New Europe, then the US faces one less rival and dissenting voice.  What do you think?  Both sides have convincing spokespeople, I think.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

gold doubloons and pieces of eight

Kottke shares an interesting project to help pull up its boot-straps about the developing phenomenon of alternative currency. Using Bit-Coin as a point of departure, the documentary in the making aims to not just demonstrate how any one with a computer can create a tiny bank in full faith and with credit but also to question what the public deign as fiat and therefore trustworthy and exchangeable.

What is it that makes a government mint any more or less legitimate than any other up-and-comers? It is a funny thing that these producers are soliciting donations in order to finish their project and would probably prefer actually recognised money over a trillion PfRC lira. What do you think? Are imagined curries as good as the real thing so long as one believes in them? Would you want the security that your investments, wealth are redeemable in at least food and shelter?