Thursday 15 May 2014

reasonable person or scare quotes

Move along—nothing to see here.  There is an odd instance of disclosure yielding a sort of hybrid-transparency—that’s middling somewhere between rank-hypocrisy and demanding a blessing—with the news of the son of the vice-president of the United States of America being appointed to the board of directors of a Ukrainian natural gas concern.
This whole regime seems pretty keen on this line, gimmick of sophistry which divorces perception from reality and everything is same- otherwise—but of course that’s politics everywhere and immemorial, and there are too many incidents of unfortunate associations to list.  There’s no chance of corruption or conflict-of-interests or skewed negotiations. End of story—and the line of questioning was summarily rebuffed.  Of course, selling back fracking Freedom Gas to Europe and the US (as opposed to evil, commie Russian gas, and exporting the dirty business of doing business to someone else’s backyard) is a sure way to ingratiate democracy and singing eagles to the region, and has absolutely no parallels to former VP’s connections to war-profiteering and firms contracted to rebuild Iraq after the US invasion.  None whatsoever.

Friday 21 March 2014


While the US, in its usually cheeky fashion, is dismissive of the counter-sanctions of the Russian government, declaring senior members of the Senate as personae non grata—as EU and US authorities are freezing the bank-accounts of certain Russian nationals and imposing travel-restrictions, canceling debit cards, and believe their ribald attitude has dissuaded Russia from pursuing this tactic. Russia, however, I am certain is more than a few moves ahead of the parties that would boycott and blackball Russia for its posture in the Crimea and other satellites in its orbit, trying in fact to counter perceived or real expansionist's ambitions with appeasement (even though it is never presented openly).

Russia has its own infrastructure, independent of anything that the US delivers and officials can make due without the redundant systems. Western Europe is trying to levy more meaningful commendations by pursuing measures to relieve itself from dependence on Russian fuel delivery, but that will be very difficult to accomplish without much austerity, like Norwegian petroleum, re-routing pipelines to the Middle East or at unacceptably high environmental costs, such as a creeping acceptance of fracking or re-thinking the moth-balling of nuclear reactors. While the stance of the EU is a noble one, it is also untenable since if the valves were to be closed for just one day, which is certainly a possibility and not without precedence, panic would break out—though Germany has worked up some heady sense of security due to the warm Winter. Russia also, I believe, would have little trouble finding other customers. China's voracious appetite would certainly make a good match, I think. It is a dangerous thing to underestimate different cultural-norms, especially when shared among compatriots with an underestimated might.

Monday 3 March 2014

reductio ab hitlerum

Apparently at one point during his conversation with the US president, the Russian premiere invoked that the invasion of the Crimean peninsular was executed for the protection of ethnic Russians living in the area. Immediately, this elicited a petition by many Russians and Russian-speakers residing there, refusing those overtures, stating they needed no protecting and felt, on the contrary, very secure and welcome.
Though no further violence has actually yet been perpetrated with the occupation of the region, the next maneuvers are unclear, and I am sure that someone, somewhere has pointed out the obvious, said the argument that's no popular or considered logically flawed, but isn't this current reasoning parallel at least to the invocation of “protecting the ethnic Germans” in 1939 in Gdansk in Poland or in the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, Japan declaring Korea a protectorate in 1905 before formally annexing the country in 1910, or the acts of others that one cannot call to the carpet, not to mention dozens of trespasses committed in the name of US interests and for earlier empires? This invasion was premeditated and not a spontaneous response to an opportune moment of civil disarray and the defanged counter-balance is left with few tenable options, even in terms of economic sanctions—considering Europe's dependence of Russian natural resources and especially allied China's favourable assessment of Russia's actions, able to levy painful usury as the financier-in-chief of the world's accustomed lifestyle. Ukraine, despite the odds, could however offer resistance, having a respectable arsenal in comparison regardless of the spread of their antagonist, but this possibility is being decimated by Russians recruiting Ukrainian force individual by individual, luring them away with a passport and citizenship.

Sunday 2 March 2014

sovereign wealth or statlig investerings

Always a good steward of her natural resources and forward-thinking, Norway's petroleum fund which reinvests proceeds from oil profits, and is edging towards a trillion dollars, translating into a tidy $165 000 (en million norsk kronen) pay-out for each of the land's five million inhabitants, seems to be having a bit of a crisis of conscience that I wish might plague other public pensions well.

Though every Norwegian man, woman and child is a stakeholder in this fund, these outrageous fortunes are a deferred windfall, as the country aims to provide the same level of social services to future generations and when the oil has ran out, recursively, the biggest return on investment, a safe bet, has been in returning to the petroleum industry itself. Despite being the fund's bread and butter, there is debate among the government, in a position of public trust, whether it is ethical, as something ultimately unsustainable, to deal in a dirty business rather than taking a luxuriously responsible stand and partner with initiatives that will ultimately make their work obsolete—putting it in an oil museum and shifting away from its seed account.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

seismograph or triple-witching

A certain breed of a meme has been circulating the internet since around last November, superimposing the contemporary US stock-market erratic-pulse with those of 1928 and 1929 in the period that led up to the crash and following world-wide Great Depression.

A market-watcher originally drew these parallels for entertainment, reportedly, but the analogy has held since. Projections often find their point-of-departure and yield something more surprising but it is nevertheless frightening what such a trend pre-supposes. This correlation and foreshadowing is especially interesting, as the announcement that the US House of Representatives support a capitulation that will raise, without conditions or visible trade-offs, the borrowing ability of the US government—the debt-ceiling. While it is money that America owes itself, the investors did not flinch, neither bombasting nor blanching at this development, and there are fictions about what this policy means at both extremes of the spectrum, it does seem like a delay of the inevitable, which is due in May of this year, according to the charts.

Thursday 30 January 2014

a,e i-o-u (and sometimes y)

As the hyphenated prefixes i- and e- are mostly claimed by private, the US government has grown fond of the old fall-back my for a lot of its self-service applications, mostly cordoned to the vast community of conscientious bureaucrats.

Now the American administration, just as the Affordable Care Act is finding its sea-legs, is introducing the so-called MyRA—for an individual's own individual retirement account (IRA). In other words, the US president wants to afford people the opportunity to supplement their statutory pensions with low- to no-risk investment vehicles for workers who don't have that benefit from their employers, whom are in the majority. I am constantly astounded how the opposition hounds and hobbles best intentions and usually pervert them into something other—like ObamaCare that can sadly now never live up to its expectations, saddled with various riders. I do, however, see rather soberly the outcome of such a surprising and gregarious act. As the very public and autonomic gesture of quantitative easing (read printing money) is rather unpalatable for the trading-houses that would manage these contributions of new and universal investors, it's surely a welcome cover for, I could see this diverting becoming, a mean to absorb US debt outside of such an unsustainable model, and enables business as usual. I do hope hope that the nay-sayers are wrong with this assessment.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

angel-investor or miner forty-niner

Such actions, I think, have been on the horizon, waiting in the wings, for some time and authorities with the US Department of Justice (DOJ), championed by investigators—rather character witnesses for the prosecution—with the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) arrested Bitcoin money-changers on charges of money-laundering and drug-trafficking charges.

This news is rather chilling, concomitant with reports that in Russia transactions with such coinage have been criminalised outright. I wonder what the competition for this fiat currency portends? Maybe it is a demonstration and affirmation of the real scheming of the financial system. Of course, apparent grey-market dealings suggest that this, like no other money, is not subject to corruption, but broader independence from influence and control from the default mints and established quid pro quo can be a discomforting matter. Those trading in Bitcoin rather than script are fervent and dedicated collectors above all and signal an unaccustomed foil. What do you think? Is Bitcoin only a fad or a back-door diversion or a noxious omen of assault against barter and alternative methods of tendering debts and wealth?

Wednesday 15 January 2014

rassgat: a term of endearment

Spiegel's international desk has an interesting and humourous postcard on the character, economic collapse taken in stride and subsequent recovery of Iceland. The nation's attitude and come-back certainly makes amends for the past gambling that lead to the crisis—responding in a model-fashion, allowing its banks to fail and political reforms, plus a return to core-competencies and capitalising on native ingenuity that is worthy of precedence. There are also a lot of bonus items contained in this missive: Icelanders are spoilt with geo-thermal energy (also a promising natural resource for future export) to the extent that they can heat their sidewalks with subterranean pipes to prevent them from freezing and water from the tap needs to be cooled below scalding before it can be used and the saying Petta reddast—the mantra that everything will work out.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

repatriation or silver and gold

 Germany Central Bank has announced that it is their intention to return some thirty-seven tonnes—the metric ton, which is always an important distinction, like among pounds (#, £), poids and Pfunde (℔), of gold bars stored in facilities in New York and Paris. When approached, authorities at the Bundesbank would not go so far to express any misgivings in the faith—in terms of security or integrity, for the host countries storing the diversified treasury, and possibly the conditions that prompted holding specie elsewhere simply do not exist any longer.  No word on how this mission is to be executed either and whether there will be specially-appointed gold-bearers.
Still it seems hard to accept otherwise—that there is not some element of distrust or, on the other hand, wanting to divest oneself of liability on the part of the holding-groups, in action, until one considers that this move, massive as it is, and representing over one billion euro of bullion is still only about one-tenth of one percent of Germany's foreign gold reserves, squirreled away in hundreds of other vaults—presenting an actuarial and logistics nightmare, with projections to store half of the horde in-country within the next six years.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

2013 annual

As the year draws to a close with the convenient bookends of a calendar, it is remarkable to look back and see some of the nascent events—themselves a part of an unbroken chain of consequences and choices, scatter broadly over time and culture. Once plotted and understood in terms of custody and causation, I wonder if anything will go without attribution—though that's, I think, beyond the jurisdiction and competency of PfRC, in the future. I also wonder post-axiomatic logic is such a good thing in itself, since those influences are subject to interpretation and partisanship, which is somewhat easier and self-affirming that research and reasoning. Let's see what surprises remain and what's incubating.

january or alright, mister demille, i'm ready for my re-take: The year began with double-bluffs of the so-called fiscal cliff, culminating in a season of paralysis and donning and doffing blame and responsibilities that led to the furloughing of federal workers and a complete government shutdown for the United States. Looming civil conflicts in Syria are re-polarising politics and set the stage for a redux of colonialism, which really coloured the rest of the year.
february or sede vacante: The newly installed young leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea continues to provoke the international community through ever more aggressive nuclear testing—although Kim Jong-Un, though the help of special emissaries, has back-down somewhat, only to have those aspirations compensated with increased isolation and executing relatives and ex-partners. A meteor exploded over a Russian city and video footage was caught by dozen of dashboard-mounted cameras. Prosthetic limbs are created with three-dimensional printing techniques. German Pope Benedict XVI resigned his post, becoming the first pontiff to do so voluntarily in over eight hundred years.
march or habemus papem: Francis I is elected as Pope, becoming the first Jesuit pope and the first from the New World, and throughout the remainder of the year, calls for reforms in the Church and surprises the whole world with his humility and acts of loving-kindness. The financial ministries of the EU agree on a pact to stave off bankruptcy in Cyprus and Luxembourg, but crises are not avoided altogether.
april or iron lady: A slow-cooker converted into an explosive is detonated during the Boston Marathon. A commercial building in Bangladesh collapses, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. Former divisive but influential UK Prime Minister Margret Thatcher passes away.
may or songs that made the hit parade: Human stem-cells are created by cloning. We had to say goodbye to the stage and screen actress, Jean Stapleton. Consumers and national fronts reject corn and other staples exported from the US due to concerns over the safety of genetically modified food-stuffs and the risk of contamination to the food-chain and larger ecology.  A lot of other supranational and corporately unilateral treaties find themselves in jeopardy later on.
june or i-spy: Former NSA contractor flees to Hong Kong, releasing a cache of files on surveillance practises of the US and partner spy agencies. The uproar wells through out the year as the scope unfolds.
july or countermand: Dissatisfied with the countries leadership since the discharge of Mubarak and a crack-down precipitated against more conservative elements, a counter-revolution brings violence to Egypt and results in the closure of foreign missions and a general retreat by Western powers. Prince George is born in London, one day heir to the British crown. After more than a decade of conflict, the United States is forced to rethink the timeline for withdrawal in Afghanistan.
august or from russia, with love: We had to say goodbye to journalist and anchorman, Sir David Frost. America's Central Intelligence Agency admitted it's role in orchestrated the 1953 coup d'รฉtat in Iran. The partner of the chief journalist and confidante of Edward Snowden is detained in transit for what information he might have been privy to. Now holed up in Russia, concepts like airspace and sovereignty and statelessness are matters of discussion—besides from boundaries and trust trounced upon.
september or fabu: Many athletes and activists are calling for boycotting the Winter Games in Sochi due to the host nation's stance on gay rights. No amends were forthcoming although the hosts rescinded early warning that the safety of gay olympians could not be protected. Possibly the exposure and pressure lead to a tumult of unexpected state-pardons later in the year. 2013 was a banner-year for gay-rights internationally, however, with the US Supreme Court refusing to uphold the Defence of Marriage Act and recognition creeping into legislatures around the world.
october or hatee, hatee, hatee-ho: The quirky hit by a Norwegian musical duo quickly went viral. We had to say goodbye to novelist Tom Clancy and to stellar musician Lou Reed. Those responsible for the disruptive suspension of government services in the US escaped revolt and being held to account by technical glitches on the universal health-care sign-up web-site that was the source of all this testing of the wills in the first place.
november or zeitgeist: A powerful typhoon lands on Vietnam and the Philippines, causing grave damage and killing thousands. We also had to say goodbye to author Doris Lessing. A haul of missing art treasures first identified by German customs officials in Mรผnich, not see since before WWII, again came into media attention.
december or madiba: South African president and reformer Nelson Mandela passes away at the age of 95. We also had to say goodbye to actor Peter O'Toole. China lands the first probe on the Moon since 1976.

Thursday 28 November 2013

the man with the midas touch, a spider's touch

I tend to keep the news in German on the t.v. On in the background and usually I can play-along at home with divided attention but there has been a lot of talk and debate recently over tax reform and much mention of the Goldfinger Steuermodell—“Goldfinger nichts mit James Bond zu tun.” The German tax code is something impenetrable, I image even for a native, so I decided to investigate: Goldfingern, as a gerund, refers to the practise of taking advantage of a certain tax-shelter, a loophole (indeed named after the Bond villain Auric Goldfinger), which the Bundestag is moving to close.
Essentially businesses and individuals with the means buy enormous amounts of gold (or some other asset that's going to increase in value and easily convertible) through an agent, a front-company, in some other country and declare the purchase a loss in order to zero out their tax liability. Given the geometric progression on the increase of the price of the commodity, they stand to make a profit whenever they choose to sell—the next day or next year. Under existing treaties that aim to mitigate double-taxation, avoiding having to pay taxes to one's country of allegiance and to where the profit was made, money made from such transactions are not subject to tax. The agreements state that the rate will be adjusted to reflect the profits but as those engaging in this practise are already in the top bracket, there is no additional tax collected. It does not only happen in Germany, of course, and uncounted billions are estimated to be lost. When one hears about giant corporations paying nothing into the tax-coffers despite record profits, goldfingern is one of the tricks they employ—and it is not that they have particularly clever or ruthless tax-preparers.

Monday 25 November 2013

paying peter to rob paul

Just scant weeks after the European Union floated the proposal to set negative interest rates for its institutions, there are reports that some American banks threatening to impose the same for depositor accounts should the US Federal Reserve step back on its programme of buying assets—that massive lienholder effort on the part of the US government that has been keeping up appearances for months.

Unlike the thinking-out-loud on the part of the EU, which hoped that making hoarding money less attractive by degrees and encourage people to park otherwise idle money in other vehicles, or what the central bank of Japan has already implemented, US policy is rather being ransomed by banks poor-mouthing about the costs that they'll have to pass along to the small-holders to offset losses elsewhere. Encouraging savers to sacrifice to the markets, toss their money into the ring, however, is not a good plan either—since that system is too propped up by the same shaky scaffolding. What dictates that certain balance-sheets can only trend upwards at the expense of everyone else? There are administrative costs of course with keeping open a de minimis account, but this seems to me like a bluff, since any holdings a bank can claim grows exponentially with the amount it is allowed to lend at a premium, but I guess also that's the point of this concurrent stimulus, urging people—though in a back-handed way, to put their money to good use rather than keeping it in their coffers.

Friday 8 November 2013

doctor pangloss, i presume?

Though this kind of story might seem a bit belaboured—in spite and because of the very cultural isolationism of gentrification which causes the wealthy and the poor to believe their station in life exactly what it ought to be and every one else is just as fortunate featured in the article, Zero Hedge has a list of twenty-one facts and figures that add insult to injury. Such a brand of capitalism does not seem equitable at all and only designed to support the illusion of limitless opportunities and detached entitlements.

Sunday 3 November 2013

genossenschaft oder working-class hero

H and I took a weekend trip to the town of Delitzsch, not far from Leipzig, and while it was a very casual, relaxing trip and we even stayed indoors, rather than caravaning (it was a curious feeling to be in a hotel) , and took in some of the sites (the Altstadt was well preserved and dominated in close-quarters, the entire town surrounded by a moat with this high defensive tower and Baroque palace built as a retirement home for dowager-princesses and later used as a women’s correctional facility), there are certain quirks of history that have shaped this region, which are not always apparent by what has been curated.
Though always rich in natural resources, arable land and industrious people, it was not until the Saxon province was ceded to the Prussian empire by a mandate of the Congress of Vienna that administratively recreated Europe after the defeat of the armies of Napoleon.
Production, which formerly had not risen above the levels of cottage-industries, were suddenly objects of interest for Prussian robber-barons (the entrepreneurial geniuses who ended the Chinese monopoly on china through sheer determination and alchemy and the manufacture of textile and the growing of tobacco and sundry became more and more organised. Of course, wage, life-style and handicraft itself became diluted in the process. In response, a generation, some forty years into this new relationship native son Hermann Schultze (nee Schultze-Delitzch) founded many charitable organisations to look after the families who found themselves conscripted into this corporate entity, including hospitals and survivors' pensions—however, his most enduring and helpful establishment was a concept now known as the credit-union, a financial institution by and for its members. Such organic means were invaluable ways for workers to better understand the environment that they had become part of, and I wonder if going forward, similar community institutions by trial and error might prove instructive.

Thursday 31 October 2013

pot to kettle or once bitten

The US Treasury scolded Germany's economic policies and growth model with a barrage of seemingly well-crafted but empty soundbites that smack of some quasi-political, talking-head segment content-generator. The response of the German minister of finance of “incomprehensible” seemed more than apt, as the EU economic powerhouse suddenly found itself elevated above China and Japan as the usual prime targets of America's lecturing, pummeled with flowery-phrases the strongly criticised their apparent reliance on exports rather than concentrate on increasing domestic consumption.
Some how, this shift is supposed to help the rest of the Euro Zone pull out of its malaise, but I believe that Germany already is tapping its surpluses and success—albeit maybe not to the right degree—by helping to finance the burdens many European debtor nations have been saddled with, thanks in part to the tantalising, easy credit of US policies. One could argue that Germany's windfall comes at the expense of partner nations, but it seems to me that the complaint, considering the source—a former exporter that has out-sourced and off-shored most of that talent in favour of trying to oversee trade, that this forum is becoming more of an overture to malingerers (the EU having already been burnt by a flirtation in earnest with collapse and devolution), to adopt dissolute debt, which already shy to such schemes the EU is strongly against. Euros are awarded an effete and scholarly regard, unlike the dollar, and can neither be created nor destroyed by the constituency. Compounded with the unresolved conflicts over espionage and its creative justifications, it seems the US should not venture further.

Thursday 24 October 2013

gelauscht oder tapped-out

Though no justification nor condolence, pardon moi for thinking that it had already been established that nothing is sacred and not privy to prying eyes and ears, and duly elected and appointed official truly have little control over the the culture of aggregated accretion of powers that have grown and sprawled in the name of security, frankness aside—like Angela Merkel's own Intelligence Chief, who could not account for the native agency's collaboration with America's.
There is nonetheless a distinct chill in the air, what with the litany of complaints and welling distrust surfacing. Although just tremolo-outrage surfaced when it was first suggested that Germany as a whole was siphoned through the safety-apparatuses of the States, compared to the latest revelations, the upward-osmosis and excess of raw data is disturbing. As no terrorist, of course, she or any one of us have nothing to fear, or so we are schooled to believe at the edges of exchanging indignation for appreciation of small courtesies, but again the spectre is raised—beyond a reasonable expectation of privacy or respect and transparency—of economic espionage, a read-ahead, that pits European values against American national interests. It is hard to say what ramifications such affronts might present? What do you think? Could this kind of largesse lead to a mass retreat, withdrawal—from NATO, from other contemporaneous treaties?

Tuesday 8 October 2013

dowager or could you borrow me a dime?

Fiat currency, money, is in essence debt—that is why it bears the instructions “legal tender for all debts public and private,” and the capacity for governments to print, conjure more money is a function of their ability to incur more debt.

Financial houses, with the blessings of their host-governments, create investment instruments that telescope That relationship, in turn, is one based solely on trust, lest one begs usurious interest rates or hyper-inflation over confidence and reputation lost. Not only do opportunists stand to realise losses over this dicey negotiation, forced to demand ever higher collateral and receding promissory-notes and not knowing if they'll ever see these loans liquidated (through it's sufficient just in the off-putting in general) but also those pensioners and small-holders who contributed without stint to a nest-egg deferred. Risk-takers, naturally, assume a fair return on their investments, as in any scenario where an institution is exposed, perhaps overly so, to a board. One can only hope that if there is any license for dictates and demands, they are considered from all stake-holders, regardless of size and heft.

Saturday 5 October 2013

grundeinkommen oder tres BIEN

Swiss voters may get the chance to decide on a referendum later next month to extend a basic, living wage to all its adults, an allowance for all, regardless whether working or not. Supporters of the movement, called Generation Basic Income (part of the francophone campaign known Basic Income European Network, BIEN) has dumped and swept around some fifteen tonnes of five centime coins in square in front of the parliamentary building in Bern, eight million—one for every citizen of Switzerland, to call attention to their efforts.
The group does not want to make it an option, an incentive not to work (in fact limited trials in developing nations showed that the only demographic to work less was new parents, who could devote more time to childcare and teenagers who were able to focus more on education, and there was a significant increase in creative entrepreneurship) or supplant, replace welfare and other social safety-nets (though some advocates say the measures would if passed, allow for a smaller government as well), but rather to introduce some level of income equality that guarantees individuals the right to get-by—especially at times when household microeconomics are prone to threats from larger, more global events, and help stop the cycle of poverty that's usually passed down from generation to generation.

enumerated powers

Thursday 3 October 2013

full faith and credit

Survey says that many Americans have a negative—or at least skeptical opinion about the Affordable Care Act, probably because such a mandate to look out for someone's better interests is novel and has been subject to a lot of besmirchment by ideologues that disagree with its implementation.

And although the law and enforcement may not be perfect and all find it unsavoury to ransom America's already diminished reputation through a battle of the wills, there does not seem a more virtuous insistence than to champion universal health coverage and bring US public welfare more in line with the rest of the world. This contention seems even more righteous especially considering that that the plan is already law, vetted through the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government—and though without unanimous agreement (no Republicans supported the bill but that's part and parcel of the democratic process), negotiations and compromise have limned the act's final form, it being not entirely what the administration hoped to gift to the public, replete with exemptions for businesses and delays for being in compliance (for companies but not for individuals) strong-armed by the opposing party. It seems the Republicans got the concessions they demanded already and now want to do more to threaten the spirit of the law.