Sunday, November 30, 2008

Clinton will be called...

Well, much to the surprise of this author, Sen. Hillary Clinton will be named the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, some time next week (as early as Monday) by team Obama.

I am not one who thought that it was possible. I thought that there were many other qualified and competent persons, surrounding and supporting Obama, that would have made a better fit for the position than Mrs. Clinton. For example, Bill Richardson and John Kerry. But, alas, sometimes folks like us see it a little differently and don't get it to be played out in our way.

Sen. Clinton's name was dropped a few weeks back as her being "seriously" considered for the position. The media was more than delighted to carry the story to the public. Hillary is their girl, you see!!

I have to ask the question on Sen Clinton's sincerity, however. What about Health Care!?!?! How can Sec of State Hillary Clinton, champion American health care from Indonesia--if she happens to have to travel there--or any where else in the world? I don't see how she would be able to champion her top cause, being the Sec of State. Perhaps team Obama would have her doing double duty. (joking)

While my position on her filling the post is laid out quite clearly in another article on this blog. The damage she can possibly create, may have not have been a big issue to team Obama as it obviously will be. One big issue to note, the connections and dealings of her husband, former president Bill Clinton, with leaders and donors to his foundation in particular. Team Obama has placed numerous stipulations in regards to the "openness of Clinton's dealings and donors" from years prior and placed an additional stipulation, which puts former president Clinton on a "leash" of sorts, where he would have to clear his travel itinerary with the state department before he makes a move anywhere overseas.

This is rather embarrassing, having no framework laid for building the capacity to trust the former president. This is a bad precedent for any new employee; "we like you and trust you, but you have to clear things with us first" , especially to have it done to a former president or first lady.

In any event, we wish the new duo (of sorts) the best of luck!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Global View Today made International Trade News Today!

Global View Today made International Trade News Today with both articles, posted on the Caribbean Net News.

The first one was "Prediction: Economy Rebounds in Q3 2009" and "Negotiating Trade in Developing Countries"....

You would have to subscribe to their website. But, its there.

Also, TCI Net News, a sister news site of Caribbean Net News, has posted our article on "Impending change in Turks and Caicos"....

We are making progress. We are becoming respected for our views. Better is yet to come. Keep reading! And, thank you!


Kirchner got THEIR money!

Argentine pension fund money. Reported in The Economist (one of the many scribes this author subscribes to) Mrs. Kirchner secured a law, with over 70% of the Argentine House in support, to nationalize the pension scheme in Argentina. What does this mean for everyone else?

The Economist, while it is a revered and well loved magazine of mine, left out come critical information on exactly what did Mrs. Kirchner said, in detail, about the nationalization of pensions in Argentina. But, this article did mention that the fees charged were way too high and, even before it was nationalized, were forced to invest over 55% into public debt.

While it is obvious that Argentina has still not squared off its debt with the IMF and itself, since it defaulted a few years earlier in their economic crisis between 1999-2002. One can only imagine the instability in the markets, with fund managers looking for loose money--like in pensions. In addition, with it being forced into investing into public debt in the first place, the scheme was already nationalized and further nationalization, protects pensioners from third party losses--from either side. If one is not responsible, fully, to the investor, then this up's the likelihood of pension fraud and malfeasance on one side. So, pensioners were faced with a choice, which they really did not have a choice to begin with and that is 1. face marauders in the private market, which was probably bound to happen or 2. face nationalization of the scheme--which was part nationalized in any event. Take your pick, or, better yet, don't...we will pick for you!

The market has reacted unfavourably to the pension grab. Deposits withdrawn and stocks down. This is a blip on the radar screen and fund managers, will go back to lower yields and become accustomed to not having two Ferrari's in the driveway, rather than getting by with one and a jaguar in place of the second.

But, Mrs. Kirchner got her wish. She pulled it off with 70% of the house in favour. Most likely, as the economist said, the money will go to financing the debt of Argentina. But, her primary motives, were not and have not been fully addressed and it is important to grasp the contrasts to why now and why it would be worst later, in her eyes.


Mumbai done...

The standoff is over. The Indian authorities have one of the terrorists in custody. The rest are assumed dead. 5 Americans were killed in the disaster, including a Rabbi from New York and a father and daughter- the father who was the Vice President of the Synchronicity society, a meditation organization on pilgrimage to India.

India has of course pointed the finger to Pakistan. Reports have it that the last time this group, the LET and, the Deccan Mujahedeen, are both responsible.

Reports are still sketchy to exactly the extent to which these attacks are coordinated and which parts by whom.


Friday, November 28, 2008

What will Obama do?

This is the question folks in Washington must be asking themselves now, about the terrorist attacks in India-- a new ally in the global economic arena. What does, or, will, the Obama administration do? Well, what can he do, really? What's the incentive and why should he react, because some people say?

While the attacks are as heinous as they get. And, while the same Islamic fundamentalist mentality fuels it--quite obviously, even before we had confirmation on who it really is. Fact of the matter is, it is nothing new to India for it to be attacked by Islamo-fascists'. Saudi-Arabia too. They have all felt the sting of a major attack by these killers. To them, 9-11 happens and can happen every other week, on some scale or another. So, while India should accept pleas for sympathy, we should also be mindful of the ongoing media reports on how everyone should take this story, to dear heart and put it at the doorstep of Americans.

What do they expect Obama to do on behalf of America? What are they trying to do? The latest report, and it is not surprising by the American news media, is that they have an Israeli and American Jews holed up in a Mumbai office by Islamic militant gunmen--who by the way, hate being called terrorists. Dear God! Even the Islamic fundamentalist murders, hate being called terrorists.

Also, what else is deeply troubling, is that the phrase "American interests" has been used early, loosely and without sourcing, in the initial reports leading up to the facts coming in now. What a world we live in! Perhaps its just a low news cycle post presidential election, so the media needs something to drive the headlines. My goodness, they even brought back the playing cards and have Islamic terrorists of interest, plastered all over the television like missing children on milk cartons! It sounds like Bush in the lead up to the Iraq war with all of the false information floating around-- at least, so it seems.

I hope the issue of this is media vanity and commercialism- as simplistic as that sounds- and not an overall agenda, to drive the US president's foreign policy agenda to what certain lobbyist's would like for him to do.

But, in all seriousness however, why is their no clean and clear emphasis, even before we address how many "people"--not Jewish folks and not people of Jewish connections and not Israeli's and not Americans who like Israeli's-- but, "people", in general, holed up and have been killed by these terrorists--- who have no regard for any particular life? Why must they cheapen human life, by valuing one over the other, when it serves their purpose? And also, by doing so, using the notion of "symbol's" of US and Western interests to attack over the people attacked and killed, primarily? What about life in Mumbai and India in general, now, first and foremost and the thought of them living with this recent attack, afterwards? No considerations for that at all.

President Obama, had better tread very carefully on this issue. Some Americans already feel that he is a Muslim. In fact, they 'know' he's Muslim. I can hear them saying in certain quarters now; "do you mean to tell me, Jews and Americans, are taken hostage and holed up in India and President Obama did nothing and said nothing?" Aha!!! We knew it!! Obama hates Jews and does not support American values. President Obama is an anti-Semite and anti-American. We knew it all along. I can imagine the conventional wisdom's floating around in people's minds as I type this article.

On another light, it is no secret that Barack Obama wants to go into Northern Pakistan. He said this on many occasions on his campaign stump. He feels that North Eastern Pakistan and North Western Afghanistan, is where Osama bin-Laden and his band of terrorist thugs are hiding. Personally, with no proof and with just my experience to guide me, I feel that bin-Laden's dead. Or, he is so incapacitated, that putting out a video for him, would be more than a task and technically, he is dead.

Barring all of this, we have now--at least the American news media would want you to believe--is a situation where Obama would have to react and then act, on the facts now that 1. They have killed (as hyped as the media tried to make it) Americans and Israeli's and 2. India is a new ally of ours and the terrorists attacked their commercial centre, like the World Trade Centre's in 9-11 and 3. The impetus that a possible attack, on the suggested haven of the terrorists in Asia- even before it was confirmed that the terrorists in Mumbai were in fact Islamic- in the North Eastern Pakistan and Western Afghanistan, invading Pakistan and re-invading Afghanistan, again, is on the table because of the outrage displayed and the sheer shock value the media would want you to take into consideration.

Obama has to say something and give more than lip service, now. Bush is still the President. However, he does not want to act and make it appear as if he is going out on a war-hawk note. While these attacks give President Bush some vindication, in that taking the region, serious, in regards to the interests in very important G-20 countries in the region, India, Saudi-Arabia (who suffer more Islamo-fascist style attacks than does India) and Israel and a budding Pakistan, with both wars' in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should not overestimate the fact that Obama, should not act or react, because certain quarters in the Jewish community or the news media, would want him to act--for what ever reason.

The issues in the Middle East are not new. Israel has just as much issues with their own brand of Imperialism, to counteract all of the other Imperialist sentiments from Western powers and other Islamic Middle Eastern countries. The news media and the Jewish community in the USofA, does not set President elect Barack Obama's foreign policy. The terrorists will not stop, even if he invades the tribal area in Northern Pakistan.

Saying all of that, to say this, and that is Obama, while he campaigned on an anti-war stance, should not start a new war or create the thoughts of a new war, before he is even the actual president.

So, what should president Barack Obama, do? In my mind, nothing!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai still at standoff!!!

Thugs still at the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Trident Hotel in Mumbai India.

Still no idea or confirmation on who these folks are. However, this is not the first, nor will it be the last terrorist attack on India.

As long as Islamic fundamentalists' are at the gate, and Hindu people rule India, then it is inevitable the clashes between civilizations.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Attack in Mumbai!

Condolences to the people who lost their lives. An estimated 8o people killed and over 900 wounded, in two separate hotel attacks.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing. I am not quite certain why they would attack India. However, odds are it is Pakistani based---or, Muslim sympathizers of Pakistan, living within India.

In any event, the attacks were said to be targetting US and UK interests. It may be too early to tell.

More on this as it comes in.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

OECD predicts rebound by mid 2009!

Reported in the FT today, the OECD has put forward a report which states that the US and Euro zone, will contract until the end of May and see a turnaround by mid-June 2009.

If you remember, I posted an article on this site, which reported such a turnaround, albeit moderately, by the same period.

Reported in the Caribbean Net News...just to add that in!! LOL.....

I normally don't side with the OECD with tax issues and am not a staunch believer in their power to affect anything, however, their research is top notch and their record on the Global Economy and the G-8, in particular, is beyond match mate. Better than the IMF and the World Bank, combined, I feel.

Its just that their politics, is suspect!



Monday, November 24, 2008

Negotiating Trade in Developing Countries!

When it comes to trade in the developing world and the negotiation of trade issues in particular, the process is often left up to a small and relatively non-commercial group of career politicians and public servants, who then attempt to negotiate on behalf of their respective countries for said best interests. Especially with countries who are new, or, looking to be a part of more bi-lateral agreements and, more importantly, regional trade agreements (RTA's), the personnel in the best position to negotiate soundly are few and far apart.

When we speak of negotiating on trade, one must automatically think of; trade in what? The two main components are goods and services. Goods is a rather straight forward issue to consider; fruits, vegetables, raw material etc. Services on the other hand, while it's a little more complex, basically boils down to; legal services, medical services, financial services etc... or, anything that does not involve making a sale of a particular product, but rather, the service rendered. While the goods aspect is relatively more cut and dry than that of services, the issue almost always centre's around the idea of the "sale" or "selling" either particular aspect. So, shouldn't it be that the persons, leading the charge in the negotiating process, be of a business background, who know more about sales and product promotion? This is not the case in many instances. Hence, the problem and the reason for this commentary.

Thus far, the negotiating machinery has been littered with persons, who have not been able to link the commercial industry to sound political and economic policy making. The main negotiators, as weird as it may sound, are persons with little or no international business or commercial background, and rather, career long civil service bureaucrats or politicians, who are mostly lawyers, who have little or no business experience or involvement at all. Developing countries are not the only countries suffering from an influx of public service bureaucrats and legal minded politicians to their trade negotiating machinery. However, they are the ones that suffer greatly due to the fact that their "intellectual elite", are comprised mainly of lawyers who make it due to family connections through some form of formal training and career bureaucrats, who follow the dictum of politicians and who have better access to education and training--at least on paper-- than does the average man on the streets. Most times, these negotiators, are the ones that are least interested on how the dynamics trade negotiations affect the private business sector--if they ever fully understand it at all. Truthfully, they have very little to lose, except for pride and have very little experience in international trade/cross border commercial activity matters, to the extent that their livelihood depended on it. So, they can afford to engender the loftiest of foreign policy goals, at the expense of a commercial sector they have no true intimate dealings with.

Recently, there has been an attempt to provide extensive training into and for persons, within the region, to learn more about trade and globalization and the international-political economy, but, in my view, not enough mass education of the persons om these issues who matter the most. Training a few persons, more often than not, works towards aggravating the persons who this issue affects the most, because, the persons with the training, will almost always be seen as outsiders, city-slickers or persons just not aware of the 'real' issues. This happens more often than not. A prophet, is hardly ever respected in his country. Just read the story of Jesus Christ. There are many of instances, where the gifted in certain areas, suffer because they cannot be understood for the value they bring to the issues. Its not jealousy or hatred of said persons, but people normally hate and fear what they cannot understand--especially if the person is "local" to their community. The issue further plays out as; "how dare 'you', tell 'us', little person, how to conduct our business?" This is what makes the top down policy approach, where larger international bodies and organizations, hand out policy directives to developing countries- with all good intentions- to follow this or else, appear to be a better solution for all!!! While the intentions may be from a good place, if it does not translate or affect the persons at the root and core level and policy fails to resonate or make sense at any level, this is not only a wasted effort, but, also, a dangerous economic gamble on the future of small economies, who need stability for their own specific design, rather than a blanket, one size fits all cookie cutter approach to economic policy which simply does not compute.

What does a developing country do, in order to bring more actors more closely affected by trade pacts? Well, it simply has to bring the business community on board. While the likelihood that the business community would most likely axe a deal which may be harmful to their advantage in their domestic markets, the likelihood of them moving on a deal that expands their commercial base, is equally enticing and hence, this is the reason for "negotiating".

My thing is- and not to sound overly simplistic in this article- the fact of the matter is is that we have to build the ties that are of equal and relevant importance, to our best efforts primarily and not to ever forget that. While I don't want to take for granted any efforts made by countries thus far to address this issue. The fact of the matter is is that too often, it is overlooked in detail and discussed vehemently, all at the same time.

So, where are we going with trade negotiations and the framework in which it operates in in the developing world? Well, we are going no where if we ignore it totally and bury our heads in the sand, and, we will be going backwards, if we do not get first best information from the business community-- especially industries that are globalized currently, or involved heavily in the import/export business.

What should happen, is that countries, should look into basic foundations for trade cooperation on a bi-lateral and issue for issue basis. Forget the wholesale, high reaching goals of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union and African and Pacific countries--even though the ship has apparently sailed in both and more importantly the latter, in serious regards. Just simply neglect the framework and work on individual bi-lateral country obligations. Not that it would in any way affect the outcome of the arbitrary panels of either organization, especially the EPA which is "WTO plus", but because you would be doing sound work for your domestic industries, which depend on governments- if they are going to be involved in the economic decision making process- to make the best possible decisions based on first best information from the folks the policy will affect the most. Its critical.

What we can do now, on our own, is instead of reaching too high with these agreements, trying to do everything in one swoop, in an effort to emulate the developed world-- which systems took decades to come to in regards to some form of common understanding on their trade practices-- we should in turn, rather, take these agreements and use it as a safe ground for bi-lateral negotiations within member countries as much as possible, using the organizations first hand information to guide our individual bi-lateral negotiations on specifically sensitive and most valued sectors of interest-- at least, in theory that sounds fair. But, the other issue is that many of these agreements- and in particular regards to the EPA- is that they are built on most-favoured nation (MFN) principles that negate any special preference to any other member over the other. In light of that and what I am suggesting in any event, is pointedly that the total formality of the agreement should be left out of the format of the practice of the framework, as much as possible. And, instead, it should be a vehicle for bringing more actors together to facilitate common understandings on bi-lateral issues which are workable.

For example, if there is a need for teachers in languages, in Barbados and, the Bahamas has an abundance in teachers in languages, but is in need of medical professionals and, Barbados has an over abundance of medical professionals, the governments of said countries, should work towards that regards and use the information, they should have--in regards to regulation and statistical and diplomatic information and resources on the level of the type of economic activities within their jurisdictions-- and then, lend support or awareness of the possibilities for a shared partnership on that level and from that premise, instead of trying to reach too high and too far, with agreements, which have no guidelines for shared economic understanding on any level. Basically, wasting time on negotiations and policy frameworks, which have no use to anyone at anytime, with little or no delineation for particular economies.

To be totally frank and to get my position on the matters of RTA's and the multi-lateral system out full and clear, is that it was a wasted effort if the business community does not have a credible, sound impact on the agreements. The cry was, in commercial sectors all over the developing countries involved with the EPA, is that they understood less about it, than they did/do know about the CSME. That's dangerous. And, it is a scary thought to imagine that the developing countries particularly involved with the World Trade Organization (WTO), who are currently involved with the EPA, are basically admitting to flying blindly in a globalized trade based world, despite their long standing involvement. That in itself is startling! While the agreement on the EPA was fair, and, unfair, in very different and particular aspects, to have it still yet again at the crux of my argument--lack of understanding on behalf of the folks who are affected the most--is an issue we can no longer ignore if we must play this game.

While there is no perfect agreement and certainly not a cookie cutter for any generalized framework of understanding, the basis for the agreement and the negotiations which prelude the agreement itself, can be sewed up more tightly, if serious considerations are taken into account for the commercial sector, already established globalized sectors and strengthening basic guidelines for partnerships on individual preferences.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Impending 'change' in the Turks and Caicos?

Will there be change the next time around in the TCI? Questions remain about the current government and the seemingly impending 'change' to come, from Premier Michael Misick to somebody else, anyone, who does not apparently spend $1.7 million on a private plane and less on aid to Hurricane victims-- so Opposition leader Floyd Seymour alludes to, in an article reported in the Caribbean Net News on the 21st of November, 2008.

The opposition party, as small as they are in the TCI house, led by Mr. Seymour, are swinging directly for the head (pun intended). I like the spirit of the democracy in TCI from that aspect; "it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but its the size of the fight in the dog." And, Seymour, while his opposition is extremely small in numbers, has allot of fight in him for the people of TCI--or so it seems! Premier Misick had high dreams and hopes for the folks in TCI as well and look how that's turning out, now?

Misick has apparently gone mad. And as a matter of personal observation, its worse than mad--Misick went Hollywood, baby!!! Really and truly. He married--for how ever long it lasted-- an 'average' (by Hollywood standards) made for television actress in Lisa Raye (nee) McCoy-Misick and it all started and quite seriously, ended there for him. The marriage crumbled and in the most public and disgraceful way, from; allegations of rape of Mrs. Misick's 'friend'; the tampering with evidence and witness intimidation; to fights in the premier's mansion between in-law clans; and now an apparently messy divorce to come. I guess he must now asks himself, "where did it all go wrong?"

Well, perhaps it was too much for him, to begin with?

Allot of commentators have called his premiership a 'disgrace' and 'an utter failure'. While words so strong would not come from this writer, I too am sort of disappointed in the entire Turks and Caicos affair! To be fair, he really was a fairly young man when he became Premier of the TCI. He was unmarried and was untested to the pressures of high public office. Perhaps his seemingly demise, should be monitored by all leaders and "want to be" leaders in the Caribbean, who seek high public office but are untested, personally and professionally. Which leads to the other side of this fiasco unfolding in the TCI-- the calls for mismanagement of the TCI finances!

Its reported now, from opposition leader Seymour, that they are sending in public managers to the TCI in order account for public finances. This is a sweeping indictment on Misick. Not only can't he keep it low-profile and do the people's business, but they have to send in external auditors to attack his ability to manage, entirely? The TCI is still a protectorate of the United Kingdo and it is they that are coming to give this "audit". This is simply a slap in the face and the time is apparently winding down for Misick. Sad. All Seymour has to do is have a few high profile and relatively well covered trips to Britain; organize a few public protests; call for a referendum and an early election and, by force or by vote, Misick will be gone by the end of next year 2009.

But, through all of this, it serves a good lesson to all aspiring leaders in the Caribbean-- especially one's who are still protectorates of their former colonial powers-- to lead with impeccable measure and, make sure that your professional ability and personal character are beyond reproach in addition to it being above that of your peers-- try to keep it that way as much as possible!! While we all fall short of God's glory, my goodness, try to be the best, anyways!

Alas, TCI folks, if they are in anyway conservative and forgiving like their cousins up north, the Bahamians, Premier Misick will step aside for a year or two and re-surge--if his fate is as grim as this authors sees it, now.

I'm a good ol'e Bahamian boy. I know how laid back and how 'personal' politics in towns like ours and TCI goes. I can throw stones on TCI soil, from our Southern most island. We have a running joke in this town that if you haven't seen your friend in a long while, he is either in jail, Freeport or Turk's Island. Mr. Seymour could easily be my cousin. Our countries share the same Bishop--who, by the way, has been having thee longest retirement, EVER! So, I know how 'we' go! Because, we always forgive and forget, first, any leader with a dodgy current and even dodgier past, may get a pass at a later time, or, even before his term ends if said leadership is doomed as it appears with Premier Misick. And, then, most certainly, if the next leader isn't worth his salt, folks begin to clamour for the 'good ol'e days of (Insert said leader, here)-- after, of course, they make the folks see how "really", poor, the leadership under these new guys, really is.

Also, of course, after the same thing Mr. Seymour is doing to Premier Misick now, happens to Seymour or some other leader of TCI and after Misick says how much he; "apologizes for the misconceptions that happened under his leadership"; and also says how "allot of things that happened, he was not made aware of by some in his Cabinet members and members of the public service"; and also prattle on about how he has "learned from his past errors"...blah, blah, blah...all things will be forgiven!

In any event, Premier Misicks' relatively young. He can pull it off if he waits it out. No harm no foul. Besides, he would have experience on his side.

But to reiterate, it does not look good now for Misick in TCI. The understatement of the year!


Friday, November 21, 2008

The French wants to send troops to the Congo!

Well, it took them long enough for the French Foreign Minister, Mr. Kouchner, to use the power of the EU presidency through President Sarkozy, to get on the ball in sending troops to the Congo. The Belgians seem to back this, as well. Not surprised. And, not because they share a common history on the colonization of the Congo. But, it is typical of them, to send troops, and at this time, EU troops, to 'oversee' the mess in the Congo.

I am very skeptical of the motives of both the Belgians and the French, pushing for military intervention in the Congo. Why not the Sudan?

I can understand now why the Germans are giving this initiative a 'cool' reception. Basically, why do you want to send troops, EU troops and not necessarily French or Belgian, respectively, for the EU countries to clean up the mess in the Congo, which you helped to create and which you probably are aiding!?!?! Tacitly or allowing to happen!!

I am not convinced that in the French and Belgian circles, Nkunda, the renegade Tutsi general, is not being supported by one, or, either both of the former colonial powers.

We will have to wait and see.....I am not for French or Belgian intervention.


Force the unwinding!!!

It appears as if the US financial market, can't get the unwinding done on their own in regards to the sub-prime related debt. So, the US Govt should force the unwinding of those credit default swaps CDS on Wall Street. Its the only way to get out of this mess in the short and long term. Make it into a legislative issue moving forward and a part of the new financial services regulation package to come. I can see this issue, lack of investor confidence, going on unnecessarily, for a long time to come, if the US Government does not get in their and make it mandatory that these debt's are unwound, like, today!

I say this, in response to the new financial crisis, and that is, the crisis of deflationary pressure on stocks. Apparently, people are forcing stocks to the bottom and causing a lowering of prices, across the board, well below the accepted market 'price' value. This is, yet again, another sign of the lack of confidence in the market regulators and the market itself--the latter is understandable; why would you trust those legitimate crooks? I imagine!

However, this is something that- while it is painful to the investor to see- brings joy to my eye. For one, regular consumers like me, like to go the pump and see gasoline prices go down and down. That's good news. Why would I be upset about that? A $20 can get me around for a week, now. Happy days indeed. In addition, I am glad to see these guys, run around like chickens with their head's lopped off, for a situation that they and their friends, got them into. Now, they want us, you and me, to get them out of it. Not so fast, says Hank Paulson--a surprising hold on to your horses, from him, indeed!

In the latest shock wave, sent through the financial system, Treasury Sec. Paulson said that he would not use the other half of the $700 billion bail-out package to banks, to buy bad mortgage debt. I don't blame him and Paulson, has done something that no one seemed liked they wanted to do, on both sides of the US aisle--stop handing out free money for bad practices. It was bad enough people lost their homes on adjustable mortgage rate (ARM's) loans. It was bad enough that the banks hoodwinked those people into those ARM's. It was bad enough that their was a third and fourth party trading, all over the world, for CDS related sub-prime debt. It was bad and embarrassing enough that Paulson went to congress on the first instance, with a three page letter asking for $700 billion. Now, you want to make the matters worse, by not addressing the problem and bailing folks out on Wall Street, carte-blanche?

If you must bail them out, then, I can appreciate why folks would want a bail-out for home-owners on the brink of losing their homes. After all, fair is fair!

But, in the meantime, while it appears as if Wall Street is not going to get their outlandish wish, in that they want the US Govt, with tax-payer money, to buy up all of their sub-prime related debt, is that now, the US Govt, has to force the unwinding of these trades on Wall Street firms. UBS, post Wuffli, did it as a sign of up-front fairness and for the long term longevity of the firm--that's the social approach Europeans take to their business, you see. But, the US market, is so filled with opportunists and 'capitalists' that you would have to force them to do just that--unwind these toxic-debts.

The fact of the matter is, and I think Paulson knows this and the market knows this as well, is that these guys, because the toxic soup of sub-prime debt is so murky and convoluted, that no one would even dare to find out exactly how much money was lost and where. And, even if they wanted to, it would be so much after the fact that no one would really care--or build a good case to say otherwise than it was just a 'bad investment'.

I can almost certainly guarantee you that there is rank theft, going on in the market at this time in regards to companies taking advantage of the unawares of the US Govt and their investors, due to the abyss of sub-prime related activities and exposure. This would make for interesting millionaires, within the next 5 years or so.

I say again, unwind those CDS and sup-prime related trades. And, if companies don't do this for the betterment of the market, then the US Govt has to force it.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

South Africa blocks aid to Zimbabwe!!

Apparently $30 million dollars worth of agricultural aid to Zimabwe, citing that the disorganization and the seemingly un-willingness of Zimbabwean officials to come together to form a unity party, is at the root cause.

Simply put, why would anyone give anything to any government, which does not have a credible government in place? Who would you give it to? You may as well throw the money up in the air!

In any event, the recent set backs in Zimbabwe, chronicled in this blog,, have most likely been the straw that broke the South African government's back. This is surprising for them to do so, seeing that it was a Thabo Mbeki deal, this power sharing deal and, for the recent ousted Mbeki, for the new ANC leadership to adopt his foreign policy in regards to Zimbabwe--and that is to break the back, further, of Mugabe! I never would have guessed they, the new ANC leadership with Zuma at the helm, would back or even give any form of endorsement to an Mbeki foreign policy. I guess Mbeki was not such a bad guy after all. Perhaps it was all about domestic politics, asking him to step down in Zimbabwe.

In addition, the AFP reports that, guess who is going back to Zimbabwe in a new round of negotiations---Thabo Mbeki!! Go figure!!!

In any event, formal, or, informal sanctions on Zimbabwe, would not phase Mugabe and will hurt Zimbabweans, just as much as they have been hurting under the Zanu-PF's stranglehold. Missing $30 million in aid for farms, won't matter much when you have never had the luxury of having any aid, at any time, ever.

I repeat my clarion call before on this blog's policy position to Robert Mugabe; Mugabe needs to go!!! No time for talks. Action. Just go. Elections need not take place again. The world has to act as he just does not care what happens to the people of Zimbabwe. Its patently obvious.

Zimbabwe can be saved. It has potential.


Global View Today makes Caribbean Net News!

We got one of our articles posted in the Caribbean Net News. Its an online news service on Caribbean and Latin American news, primarily.

This is our first one and we hope there will be more to come.

Keep reading.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spread out your tentacles...with money in them!!!

The emerging markets, Russia, China and Saudi-Arabia, in particular, were asked at the end of the G-20 summit, about the huge wads of capital they have on tap; this is more over their counterparts, India and Brazil. Who, really, don't have the capacity to help at this stage, in any event--India and Brazil. They don't have huge export driven economies of scale, to take that sort of risk, largely and unilaterally. India, while emerging, has a domestic development agenda with heavy export restrictions-- this has hurt, on purpose, their export market. Brazil, is not a major exporter, aside from agricultural goods. Which are, primarily, staple industries of both the EU and USofA, both heavy consumers, and both of whom subsidize their farms in any event, to depend on cash coming in. So, as it seems, it comes down to oil, natural gas and the exportation of cheap, ready to use goods. This apparently, was the basis for asking for 'particular' countries to extend lending to 2/3 rd's of the Triad--barring Japan.

Will they do it? Do they have an incentive to do it? Does the political will to balance power between themselves, have it to work with them on all ends? Well, these are all questions with answers, that are simple enough in many regards.

Do we REALLY want to do business with Arabs?

For one reason, why wouldn't Saudi-Arabia and the Gulf States generally, who have been experiencing a heavy rise in built-in inflation, spread some of the wealth around, and, export their inflation at the very least? The economics of it sounds simple enough. However, the politics of it, is a little more tricky-- especially in regards to the USofA. Why would the USofA, with President Obama, work with the Gulf States, with all of their xenophobia in the USofA towards said countries? Remember the Dubai Ports' World debacle? The debacle what gave everyone a good glimpse into the US foreign policy check and balance and good photo-op's of US Ports--as every congressman, took pics in front of the nearest port they could find!?!? The thought that an Arab nation, would control a US port, is, and, was, unfathomable. You would never see it. Unless of course there is money and the need for their money, as it is now! The jury is out and the only person with that answer, is Obama. At least for the USofA. For the EU however, they would willingly take the money of the Gulf States. After all, the EU is more slack with who they borrow money from, in any event. They have dubious business interests in the middle east and Africa, as we speak. So, there is really no issue for them--just up the business relationships.

How's about Russia?

Well, what about Russia? Russia, sort of, shot itself in the foot, in regards to international cooperation on anything US or EU. In fact, Russia is acting totally out of order on many issues. The latest with Georgia, albeit Sakishvili promoted a conflagration in any event, was a bad PR move by Russia. But, it was one in which they had to take, to secure their territory. Can you imagine Russia, being able to put a missile defence system in Latin America or the Caribbean? Think of the possibilities? Why would they allow the US, to put a missile defence system in their backyard, either?

In any event, while Russia does not have built-in inflation as does the Gulf States, it has loads of cash and was somewhat insulated from the global credit squeeze. Their markets, while not perfect, are, OK. They have been making a killing on oil and natural gas and, like the Gulf States, have oil money up to the hilt with vast amounts of oil and gas pockets to explore.

Would the US, want to strengthen Russia and show weakness, all at the same time, when Russia is looking to be a world superpower? Or, does EU, want to play the guessing game on Russia's intention and idle away while they act like nothing is wrong with borrowing money from Russia--a seemingly hyper aggressive country? Will the EU, flip flop, again?

I say they too, as with the Gulf States, take money from Russia. They want it. The US, will most likely, print more money and raise taxes in the short term.

The Red scare...

As for China, this is the best first best option for all parties concerned in the US and the EU. China, while it has strings attached, does not have the interest or the capacity to put off the EU or the USofA. The superpowers practically own the Chinese economy. In fact, I would go as far as to say that they don't, China does not, own enough of their economy, to say a firm no, even if they wanted to. With a low Renminbi and a rising domestic middle class, they would want to control inflation, at the very least.

However, China is on the wrong path to development. They are growing in imports in the most natural resources and not growing in sophistication in the new knowledge based and services economy. In regards to exports, manufacturing little trinkets, won't cut it. If they extend huge amounts of money now, and their exports curb, as they probably are doing right now, they are in for a rude downturn and their economy, will suffer as of a consequence of lending huge amounts of money without securing that for domestic development--inward development. Will they want to lend, with their major consumers having no money to buy little Chinese trinkets? Its a they lend, at the expense of their development, or, lend a hand to their biggest consumers, to have, possibly, that money flow back in to fund future development at a later date? Would the US and EU return the favour so willingly? Hopefully, they would bear this in mind! And, take into consideration, the fact that they are export driven and their markets, depend on US and EU financial vitality as well as guard for future developments in a growing services based economy, in a rapidly changing world---little trinkets, can be made in Brazil and India, much cheaper!

All in all, it is a very tricky lending game going on now. Who lends what to whom and under what circumstance. We will have to wait and see what pans out. But, at least for the EU, Sarkozy, even though France does not need it, will ink a deal for legacy's sake on all fronts. I can guarantee it.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Prediction: Global Economy Rebounds in Q3 2009!

Well, not really the global economy per say. But, the US, Japanese and EU (Euro zone) economies by mid next year May-June, with at least a 0.25% growth in GDP. In fact, by Q2 (USA) we will have a serious rebound in consumer confidence and investor appetite, which will show up in Q3...Here's why I say!

The US economy has corrected itself, even under the most harshest of circumstances. The financial issue on regulation moving forward, especially with derivatives trading, on one front, and futures on commodities, more particularly, has caused an easing up in this regard. The derivatives market itself has eased up tremendously, amidst the issues with the sub-prime related Credit Default Swaps (CDS) and the issues to date. What will happen is that the money, saved, coupled with the increase in money supply in conjunction with the fear in spending in the market, will cause for an increased savings in the prudent-- from the average man on Main Street, to the classy hot shot investor on Wall St. In fact, futures prices, which affect current prices, are down in oil and corn, respectively. That's a huge boost. However, the price drops in corn, have not been seen in food prices as yet. One reason can be that, as related to oil, while prices have gone down, oil supplies need to be sold for their bought price. So, the price at the food store, in the short term, in regards to corn based products and seen in livestock via feed, will also have a lag. It will go down. However, not as quickly as prices on oil would go down due to, believe it or not, higher demand---the dynamic of this, is another story.

In addition, people are pulling out of futures trading, because of the financial crisis and, because of the impending legislation on the futures market in the USofA to come. It will come. One thing we can bet on with this, is that 1. there will be no third and fourth party swapping of mortgage related derivatives and 2. if there is strict legislation on sensitive commodities, we will see a sharp decrease, permanently, in the price of oil and corn. The latter, while it takes more effort on the part of not only the USofA, but also the other superpowers, EU and Japan, and the emerging economies. This is the only skepticism. And, in more detail, the skepticism is that while the US may curb such trading practices in the derivatives markets, the other countries won't make such cuts in theirs--this is why the recent G-20 summit, while it was bland and seemed fruitless, bared some hope in at least addressing the 'real' problem in the derivatives market.

This leads to the other aspect of this issue and that is the issue in the Euro zone and Asia--Japan, more directly. Their Q reports are not entirely in sync with that of the USofA. However, the same general time frame applies. While the Euro zone has to take into account the 15 member states of the zone and their individual capabilities, rolled into one at one single point and time. Asia, has to take into account three, if only, two major players that affect regional growth; Japan and China, with Indonesia as an outlier.

The fact of the matter is, with the Euro zone, they are tied to the ECB and the ECB's response to inflation. The ECB's mandate, is to cut inflation at all cost, over overall growth and unemployment management. The EU, more than willingly trade off higher unemployment and greater investment diversification, over that of increased real GDP growth and higher investment figures. So, growth in the zone, will it will be more stable in the long run, will be seen later on that year, if they do the exact same thing the US does in regards to derivatives trading--which in their respect, they have been more keen to do than that of the USofA and their derivatives markets, have not been as big and as bullish as that of the USofA. Call it that good ol'e Corporate Social Responsibility.

In the meantime, Asia, will go the way of the USofA and especially in regards to Japan. The postwar unification of the Japanese industry and the US industry time clock as well as financial services sophistication, dictates this. Japan, while it will see moderate growth, or, a decrease in the level and depth of their recession, will grow moderately by mid-next year, if we take into account that the key G-20 summit agreement, derivatives trading capping, will be a thing to do moving forward.

All in all, boosting confidence, albeit marginally, while encouraging savings this short term to be spread out by the mid-term (next year June).

However, things can be a little better for next year, if, and only if, these three things are taken serious and in conjunction with the stabilizing and capping of derivatives/futures trading.

1. With the cap on futures trading in commodities, there must be a total and ongoing unwinding in sub-prime debt. This, coupled with the backing of all international banks that deal with international swaps and currencies, must be back in the medium term until this mess is all cleared up and the 'old trades' are totally unwound and moving forward, capped.

2. There must be a timed and targeted investment encouragement package--not a bloody free money stimulus-- but a committed and well targeted investment package, to SME's, so that they can grow simultaneously with the increased savings and take advantage of the good times, again, by next year June. This is not inclusive of a total tax break to fortune 500 companies--even though it may be considered. But, on the other end, they need a tax hike in many regards because they drive inflation as much as a group of SME's, but the only issue is they freeze out mid-sized and SME's from a sizable portion of the market. However, an investment package to SME's to encourage their growth. SME's make up more than half of the market, in any event and more than half, in their employment capacity. They have been hit the hardest and they are the ones, which keep bread on people's tables.

The package must not be for any one or few particular sectors. But, every SME industry, needs some investment incentives. Tell Pelosi to take a long walk with her 'more stimulus is needed'...she doesn't know what in the world she is talking about, except for it we were talking directly about pork. And, tell the ECB (Trichet) to get off of the pot and do something for the middle and smaller man. Tell Gordon Brown to lay off of the tax and spend labour policies and allow small businesses to breathe--something in which he is looking at, however, he has to do it, not now, but, by next year for it to take maximum effect. Or else, he wastes the opportunity and the investment window, may not be maximized by all parties involved for the time we need it. It has to be in sync, or investors, will not be timed with his political ambition--which makes perfect sense, anyways.

3. A sensible way forward in the Doha Round. This round of 'stimulus'= packages', have gone the way of the subsidy. It reeks of subsidization. This has put another damper on any success in the short term for the Doha Round. This is why, my projections for next year, is not a full 1/2% and only at a .25%. People really underestimate, even if they understand minimally, how important the Doha Rounds' completion is to global trade in goods and world GDP growth. Its that important. If the market, can't shake out the best prices through supply and demand, then everyone is paying a higher price for goods, while they can be making serious and additional savings on their consumption.

In any event, the world economy, on the backs of the big three, the EU, USofA and Japan/Asia, will rebound. As said, it can be a bit better, but, we will take what we get!


Secretary of State Clinton?

I have my doubts about the title of this blog entry. Here's why!

I don't think Sen. Hillary Clinton is being seriously reviewed for the position, anymore than anyone else. I think the news media, particularly the left wing television and newsprint; MSNBC; CNN and the NY Times, are putting more emphasis on her being called for an interview than she actually being seriously considered, over anyone else.

Fact is, she is not the only pony in the race, with serious diplomatic credentials; Sen. John Kerry, who should get the job; as well as former Gov Bill Richardson, a former ambassador and who served in the Clinton White house, are more favourable to Obama and palatable to his domestic interests and relating that to his foreign policy, than that of Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Kerry, for starters, gave Obama his first shot on the national stage, at the 2004 Democratic Convention. He lost his bid. But, gave Obama, the kind of push-start to his national career that he needed. Clinton, in fact, promoted Barack Obama's rival in an Illinois congressional seat, Kareem Rush, when they did not have to. Their policy at the time was that they would never get in the middle of a democratic primary--but, they did and it cost Obama, through the Rush endorsement, a congressional seat. Kerry, has also been very close to Obama on the House Foreign Service committee. He has been a very good and ardent supporter, while being a very keen mentor and guide, to Obama on the committee. Kerry, is my all out favour. Even more importantly, Kerry may do better with undoing this mess in the Middle East, while gathering our allies post-war.

Bill Richardson is also a second choice, before Hillary Clinton. His stance of "conviction', rather than that of a "Judas", before it was certain if whether or not Obama was out of the woods in the Democratic run-off against Clinton, allowed me to respect his political candor and savvy, simultaneously, while being under fire from activists like the "Ragin Cajun" James Carville, who coined the term "Judas" to Richardson as well as milk-toast sycophants like Lannie Davis, who is more of a hanger-on than a strong political pundit.

Richardson was also the ambassador to the UN under the Clinton's. While it may be that he should have had more respect for Clinton, I think his choice to move beyond their loyalty, was justified. He simply though Obama was going to be a better President and, at the time, candidate than Hillary Clinton. Nuff said. Forget about it and move on. Or, you have to ask yourself, why, after all of the favours and positions Richardson got under the Clinton's, did he still decide to 'diss' them? Familiarity breeds contempt? Or; I know you too well, to know you are not fir to be President? You take your pick!!

In any event, as said, I think the left wing media is making more out of her call for an interview- which in itself is insulting to a political heavyweight like Clinton- would like for Obama to throw a bone to Sen. Hillary Clinton, for her to seem as if she would and is be in the deep mix and for them to save face and their ego's; having that their candidate, was simply not wanted!

But, Does anyone out there, really think that after a hard fought battle like what they had in the Democratic Primary 08, President-elect Obama would want a Hillary Clinton next to him-- a very strong rival just months before and who may still be considering a Presidential run in the future? The Democratic primaries allow for party members, to challenge their elected incumbents at any level of political office.

The left wing media, while they may accept and find President-elect Obama, refreshing, are still in the tank for "their girl". Its obvious. CNN has just asked the question, now, as of this morning, if whether or not it may be a step down for her and, if accepting the role of Secretary of State, would hurt her chances of running in 2012. The media's position is quite obvious. They are trying, after they put her out, for her to save face under any circumstance. They pushed it. So, they are responsible for Sen. Clinton's disgrace.

If I were President-elect Obama, she would be out of the running and I would not even think about the political back-lash. The folks would get over it. They voted for you, anyways. You are going to be the next President of the USofA. You really do not need Sen. Hillary Clinton. Besides, can you trust her? TELL HER TO GET ALONG!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

So 'French'...the Congo deserves better!

Is it me, or does the crisis in the Congo sound so 'French'? Not like the General behind the rebels in the Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, to be exact, first name; Laurent. However, it reeks of French secret intelligence operatives, aiding the General!?! the DRC was the former home of former and dead President Mobutu. He sure 'helped' his country, didn't he?

I mean, this crisis just seems so 'French'. The thing they did in the Ivory Coast, the same thing they did in Lebanon and the same thing they tried in Vietnam, buying off the rebellion to create upheaval in their former colonies. The French just have not ever gotten it right--maybe they don't care!!?! Say what you want about the British and the Americans, they at least try to aid one rebellion, the MI6 and the CIA respectively, instead of creating and supporting rebellion after rebellion!

In any event, the issue in the DRC is reaching critical mass. This is, yet again, another issue in Africa to be on the look out for, aside from the implosion in Zimbabwe and the crimes being committed in The Sudan.

The problem is, in a nutshell, a mixture and mis-understanding of ethnicities, exacerbated by their former colonial impressions, imprinted upon them and the money, in the case of the "Congo", Belgian and French influences-- this is the root of it, from a population perspective.

For us, we have now, the French and Belgian influences, to the Hutu and Tutsi influences, to the varying linguistics and tribes within the Hutu and Tutsi clans, all made, yet again, worse by their confusions about territory and forced congregation amongst each other, between country to country, all with the French, possibly, backing the rebellious militias--I assume the latter. Although, to me, if it walks like a know the rest!

Enough of the short history, let's get down to the issue at present. General Nkunda, is advancing on the DRC province of Goma after beating back the DRC forces. The President of the DRC, President Joseph Kabila, the son of the former president, has had 'trouble' with this rouge general, to say the very least!

Nkunda, is fighting, so he says, for the rights of his Tutsi people in the DRC, who are still being attacked and killed by Hutu rebels and the DRC military, with President Kabila's blessing-- although he denies the claims. Nkunda, is also, reportedly, recruiting fighters from neighbouring Rwanda--the country of the greatest genocide in African history. A reported 1 million, thereabouts, Tutsi were killed in the massacre.

My thing is now, who is giving Laurent money and how is he funding fighters, amidst two 'governments' in Africa? Kabila and, Rwandan President Kagame, are, by all intents and purposes, no way near the African killers of the past who held the post of President. So, what is Laurent Nkunda, trying to do?

Well, the twist to this story is, is that he is being supported by Rwanda. There is no way, he can be between two countries, without help from the inside and the government, of one. Kagame, is a leader of the 'new' Rwanda, who is also, a Tutsi. So, he has a vested interest, in seeing a unified African-Congo-Rwandan belt--for nationalist reasons. Kagame was installed after the genocide and has ruled Rwanda, ever since.

In the meantime, nothing at the front, seen, is ever what it is. When there are 'un-governable zones' in unstable regions, like the one created by Nkunda in the eastern DRC and western Rwanda, is probably a hot-bed of illegal activity. Drugs, guns, 'of course, guns', women, and, any illegal contraband you can find. The more things apparently change, the more they stay the same.

FYI: France is the only country, to have posted a growth in GDP in the Euro zone, this quarter. Everyone else, is in a recession!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

What to talk about in DC?

Well, what should be the order of the day in DC, when the G-20 leaders meet for a little pow-pow this coming Saturday Nov 15th in DC (Bush's going away party, or the Bush Bash?), when they try to come to terms with ways in dealing with this global credit squeeze of a financial crisis!?!?

It almost seems comical now. For one fact, the terms crisis and credit squeeze, does not give this thing true justice. For one, banks have money to lend. Reportedly, very many of them have money on their balance sheets. They simply don't want to lend. That's understandable, as it is their money to lend or not lend, in the first place. But, how will they make money, Youri? Well, they probably won't make money, as it is their function to lend money to make money. Where did this crisis in "not" lending come from? Well, it starts off simple enough!!

How it all began...
A long, long time ago, Banks and credit facilities, started lending these sub-prime rates, to people who ordinarily could not afford to get loans for homes. Many, if not all, of these loans were adjustable--ARM's. They would give you a teaser rate and then hit you up with the higher rate, after a period of time--most often, after a year or six month period. What happened was, folks started to default on their mortgages. Something that happens ordinarily enough to allot of people. But, they all started to go sour, at this one particular time...early to mid-last year.

So, I guess one's asking what does allot of people, who could not afford home loans, have to do with a hard earning tax payer like me? Even worse, what does a guy in, let's say, Brazil, have to do with sub-prime losses in the USofA? Well, this is where it gets a little tangled. But, we have to get it all in, as much as possible, before we can give any policy and economic recommendations.

We move further along...

Deeper into the ditch!
What was also happening, while folks were losing their homes-- because of bad economic times coming up in any event-- culminated into, what many folks say, is a weakening American economy, brought on by their (USA) losses in comparative and competitive advantages in many areas to other emerging economies; a weakening dollar, to add more fuel to the fire; financial diversification in Europe, which has eroded Wall St.'s advantage over time; an unsteady war in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has been depleting resources of the American people (which can be discounted in any event, because money not spent, is money not in good use. Why have loads of cash, if you can't and don't spend it? Or, in the bank's case, make money by investing--as they have been doing!); and continual heavy losses in manufacturing jobs coupled with the lack of any technical innovation, brought upon America by lobbyists who keep things, for the most part, 'status quo'--the example in the Detroit auto-industry and the labour unions which hog-tie those manufactures, come to mind at current.

So, while America, normally goes through a dip in GDP around a Presidential election period (slightly a year before and a little less than a half a year afterwards), it was being hit with a triple whammy; 1. Loss in production due to lack of innovation and loss of competitive advantages 2. Investors keeping their powder dry, until the election season is over and the new President, charts out his agenda in full 3. The financial squeeze, brought on by sub-prime losses, which will be explained now.

Sub-prime to the credit squeeze!
Apparently, small commercial banks were not the ones holding the bag on bad loans. They were selling their debt instruments to larger banks and investment banks, like Lehman Bro's and having Lehman Bro's backed by insurers like AIG, for the debt instruments swapped.

Credit default swaps, or, CDS, is a way a company or bank, sells the debt of another bank or company to an investor and the investor, in turn pays off the debt to the first bank for the second bank/company, and, in the event the company does not pay its debt, defaults, the investor gets a one time payment from the first bank for its investment. Basically, its legalized gambling in the event a company goes belly up and the investor gets paid.

For more technical terms, turn to investopedia and wikipedia:

But, some banks, were trading mortgage related debt--sub-prime to be exact. Of course, investors got paid tremendously when things went bad. Bank's that backed these CDS and the insurers who back the banks who back the CDS, were the ones left holding the bag.

Enter in the credit squeeze!
Now that some banks were making huge amounts of money in CDS, through them raising capital from investors who bought it (most through third party) on one end and on the other end, some insurers who backed investors who bought CDS related instruments, things were ok--until the intangible happened!! People, especially in the sub-prime debt related industry, began to default on their loans. Banks who sold CDS, lost huge amounts of money. They had massive pay outs to undisclosed investors. People who owned stocks in those banks, started to pull their money in a "bank run" style and it all started from there from bank to bank.

What made it worse, is that no one knew exactly where these bad loans were, who really owned the debt and how many times, these ARM/sub-prime CDS loans were traded--some of these loans, were traded from third and fourth party banks and companies. So, you may have gotten your sub-prime loan from somewhere in North Carolina, that bank may have traded it to a company or bank in North Dakota, that bank may trade that CDS to a bank in Britain (because of the growing sophistication and interconnecting of global finance) who may in turn, trade that to investors in Dubai who then in turn, have no clue that the folks in Britain, will sell the CDS they got from North Carolina, unknowingly, to a company/investor in Russia and on and on it went.....until it all stopped...NOW! At the worse time-- an already weakening US economy with war and Presidential election to boot!

What happened, is what is happening now. No one, commercial banks, investment bank's and credit unions, want to lend to other banks and credit unions, because no one knows how much the other bank is exposed to these sub-prime related CDS. No one wants to lose their money. And, with that, the bank's who are exposed to CDS related debt, investors are pulling out in a bank run style, leaving them in a further difficult position--as was with Bear Stearns and Lehman Bro's, who were bought, respectively, for pennies to the dollar.

Inter-bank rates and lending, came to an almost standstill. In a capitalist society, if no one wants to lend money, then, obviously, it can't run--Obama said we have to first "fix the plumbing in our capitalist system"...(after he is REALLY the President, he noted of course) Hahahaha...time is coming up soon, Mr. Obama. You can't hide behind Bush, for too much longer. It will soon be yours to fix!

In any event, and related, its no secret that every time the US goes through an election cycle, capital seizes up. Check global growth figures for the last 20 years, and US GDP figures for the same year, you would find a strong correlation with the Presidential election and GDP. The political cycle, is the only cycle that matters now. Industries and sectors, have their own respective clocks. If you want to chart Macro-economic policy, you have to watch the election cycles!

Enter in the "regulators" at the G-8, sorry, G-20 summit!
What in the world would these guys talk about? They know less than the guys on Wall St. True. If they did, they would have seen this coming and have pre-empted the oncoming disaster. They did not. The only entity, who gave warning, albeit a very weak sounding one, was Goldman Sachs-- partly because they were making a killing off of all what went bad, by hedging against the people who hedged with sub-prime debt. Smart, but, really, they have insiders on the policy making front in the US. Their former chiefs are now the Governor of NJ, Treasury Secretary and World Bank President, respectively!

So now, we meet this Saturday, to most likely, affirm what the world already knows--the US is in a recession (has been by my standards, for at least early last year) and no one knows how deep this 'toxic soup' of bad debt had spread!

But, here is what I would do:
1. I would end all of the third and fourth party CDS trading. There is no way, a debt can end up in Dubai, from North Carolina, as explained in the earlier example and no one knows how to get it back or account for it. By doing this, would de-leverage companies, from unsuspecting risk and debt, to entities, they have no idea or clue about. This would cut the spread of the crisis, if things were to go bad again, down to the folks who initiated the original contract.,

2. Forget about the IMF, for a little bit. We need domestic legislation and cooperation. The last thing we need, is another international organization, meddling in the affairs of good countries. This credit crisis, is a mistake and a disaster of a mistake. Albeit at the wrong time. But, a mistake of greed-- none the less. There is no need to fling into the mix international organizations, for them to find out that when it comes to super-powers, like the G-8, there is very little for them to do or very little from them, that is wanted to be done by the respective countries.

What's needed is a private fund of funds and a de-leveraging effort by individual G-20 countries as well as a total and complete unwinding of these sub-prime CDS; the latter, will take some time, if it ever is fully recovered. Fact is, so much stealing, after financiers and traders found out that it was a total and complete mess, that a good portion of the losses will never, EVER be recovered--and some of that money, can be found in designer shops on the South of France, the hotels in the Bahamas or in Rio, or, some other exotic place.

These G-20 countries, need to back their international banks that involved themselves with sub-prime traded debt--them and the investors, who bought third and fourth party CDS debt. Practically, the problem is private. So, it has to have a private element to it. Bringing another administrative governmental type organization, will do very little to solve the issue of this happening again, unless it is after-the fact.

We want to prevent this type of credit crisis from happening again, instead of re-acting when it happens again!

This is just for the credit squeeze. The package and "stimulus" hog wash, hog-wash is really what it is, should be left up to the individual governments who are looking to hand out government cheese on the cheap.

Other than that, there is nothing to meet in DC for, unless those two items are on the table and discussed front and centre!


Harare in uproar. Mugabe should just give it up!

Hopefully, due to old age, at least, Mugabe would have to leave the leadership role in Zimbabwe. And, his successor, would be weaker in political strength.

Kudos and much respect to Morgan Tsvangirai, for having the courage to stick around and wanting, to lead Zimbawe amidst tremendous issues. Truth is, he should be the patron saint of Zimbabwe, after all is said and done.

The latest 'thing', is the rejection of a South African backed power sharing deal with the police force, once stated to be an outright tool of the government to be commanded by the MDC (Tsvangirai's party) after a deal was supposedly brokered for it. The deal is, now, the sharing of the police force with Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. Reported in the FT.

Who's side is South Africa on, in any event? One would think that they would be very critical of Mugabe? What gives? Maybe this latest issue of South-African diplomacy, has nothing to do with former president Thabo Mbeki, who has stepped down earlier this year. Maybe this is the new ANC foreign policy stance, in Zimbabwe.

This can only mean the certain death of the MDC. If this ANC decision is post Mbeki motivated, then, it is a bad one. The ANC can't be seriously, and, overtly pandering to the political populist sentiments in South Africa, with serious diplomatic courses that would affect Zimbabwe in a negative way--just to sure up support, it already has in the nationalist majority South African people. Its sad to see ego, take centre stage over what's best!

Mugabe, is a failure. He should be removed. No appeasement, for him, is going to work. Get rid of him. For a better Zimbabwe.

While Mugabe's call that colonialist pressures have sought to bring him down and to oppress the Zimbawe people, has been right, but, right, in the most modest of circumstances. This constant boogie man he keeps referring to in the "white man" is out of touch with reality. the people suffer because of his stupid pride. That's the overall reason, why he should just be taken out--he can't leave on his own.

The ANC and the South-African government, has taken a step back and has hindered progress in Zimbabwe. It was shaky to begin with with the power share of two military branches, the military to Mugabe and the police force to Tsvangirai, after the "elections". But, now, you want to give half of the police force and a sham of a finance ministry, to the MDC as well?

You have got to be joking!


New Zealand has a new government!

Led by John Key, the centre right Nationalist Party leader, swept into power in New. Zealand on Saturday past and swept out Helen Clark of the centre left labour party-- from over 9 years of her leadership.

Congrats to the new leader. The "right" man for the job!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Correction: Sarkozy goes to Washington! Indeed, Washington DC!

For what, really? Bush is out and, the man you have to deal with, Obama, is not quite the President- although he is the President elect and will be at the meetings. At least I hope so!

These meetings that are scheduled for as early as November, this month, will include, by Sarkozy's words, countries from the G-8 and emerging economies outside of the G-8; like China, India and Brazil. As not to cause feelings of exclusion, you see! They would want to take advantage of the global financial crisis too. Have an exuse to go to the USofA. Meet some of their relatives on tax-payer money. They have people to fire. They have companies to nationalize. Industries to subsidize. Elections are right around the corner. This is no time to say "not me" in this credit squeeze of a global financial crisis!!!

And, this is no time for the EU to say "not them" when we need to have foreign regulators telling you how to spend your money.

Everyone wants in!

Quite serious and very frankly however, it was smart and prudent to invite the emerging economies. They are virtually superpowers in their own regions and countries in their sphere of influence, who may not have done anything to deserve anything, would feel it double- even though there are talks of a growing de-coupling effect of the emerging economies from the US and the EU. In fact, these EM's are the hegemonic forces within their regions- China in Asia, India in Indo-Asia (which includes Pakistan, Indonesia and some part's of South-Eastern Asia) and Brazil, with the entire Latin American arm, including Argentina, in tow. We would hope that Mexico, just for posterity and Australia, just because, will be invited as well. They are no different than the other emerging economies, in regards to fundamental market dynamics- although they are a little smaller in economies, people and military power, in varying rights.

However, it may be little too late for Sarkozy, to show up at a Bush White house, with demands- and all that. It almost seems fake. If the situation not so dire, one would have called it a "going away party" for Bush. However, it has some merit to it and something positive, we hope, can come of it.

For one, folks are looking to make the IMF a central force, regulating and lending, to international financial institutions. Proponents say it will, the IMF, work towards providing a master "fund of fund's" (sounds familiar) in times of crisis like this. I, for one, would welcome a back up fund, but, it would work against the idea's of free competition and loss to gain factors in the market? For example, if companies, are going to expect a bail out every time they go ape-wall on us, then, who is to tell them or stop them from doing it again- with little less regard for the integrity of the institution.

I am one, who happened to think that letting Lehman go down the tubes, was a good thing. For one, it would have taught the system and players a valuable lesson. And, Lehman, a brand name, would have been bought and cut up and carved, with its personnel in tow, to the best and brightest. Like what has eventually happened. Never to grace Wall Street, again in addition. But, that's me.

Secondly, setting the IMF in play, keeps our eyes off of the ball in regards to "regulating properly" the financial markets in domestic jurisdictions; which in this case, is the issue in the USofA. Its just that the US was big enough, to topple the world with a collapse in its industry. What does the EU want? More control over US and world financial institutions and industry? Sounds like this is what the IMF, would in effect, be doing. Moreover, like capital punishment is not a strong deterrent to crime, it, as does with the IMF, takes our eye off of the real issues and we look for solutions after the crime has been committed, or, after disaster strikes and then place our bets on how to move forward afterwards. Perhaps its a little bit of Utopian thinking on my part, to ask mere mortal men, to anticipate disaster before it happens. But, why make it more possible to fall into ordinary and regular traps, by looking the other way, if you don't have to?

In any event, if the IMF can play a pivotal role and not just on paper, in international regulation- like the WTO membership- then, and maybe then, we would have some movement and clearer standards. But, I seriously doubt that any country, would say, openly, that they would like for foreigners to be in charge of how they spend their money in their own country. That sounds too unbelievable. Even for Magic Man Sarkozy!

In any event, everyone meets in New York, at least, by this month. (The last time, the EU wanted New York, at the request of Sarkozy because, he wanted to go where all of the trouble started. But, it will be DC afterall. Probably a last minute decision)


Monday, November 10, 2008

Brown bounces back! Well, sort of!

Gordon Brown, the once embattled Prime Minister of the UK has just bounced back from growing unpopular poll numbers, which suggested that his stint in charge, was, all but done. Thank God for the financial crisis. He could not have looked better.

Gordon Brown took advantage of this growing crisis, to implement the changes to the financial system the England needed, in order to bolster it from as much of the negative impact from the global financial crisis. His leadership, has included not just a re-capitalization of bank's, some by force. But, a competent and palatable nationalization, the other dirty "N" word, of at least one major bank in England- Northern Rock.

Thing's are going so well right now, there is talks of an early election- one like the one he was threatening to call in early to mid 2007, only to back off when the poll numbers indicated that he would lose out to the opposition rising star; David Cameron. Cameron, once jokingly in the house said that when a reporter asked Brown about if he would still call an early election, if the poll numbers stated otherwise at the time- favourable to him- would he still have called of the election. Brown answered, "YES"! To the roar and jeering of the opposition bench, Cameron answered; "you must be the only leader in history, to have called off an election because he thought he would have won it." That would have been rather stupid, now wouldn't it Mr. Brown!?!?!

But now, things look different. Brown is back, baby! He has put Engerland on the map, with his leadership through this global financial crisis. He set up a system and template, which governments in Europe and world wide, could follow and have followed in regard to bolstering their financial systems. He looked brilliant. Brown is in his element when economic crisis or issues are abound. But, can he whether this storm, with conditions still bleak economically? Will the folks turn on him anyways, as a weak and floundering economy, no matter how much nationalization and re-capitalization is done, can still put folks, off. Let's face it, broke is broke- regardless how much Brown says he has done.

So, the issue is, will it be enough for him to ride it out, for the long haul? Will Cameron find the mix, again? Pundits in the UK, were putting Cameron off to the election after next, in any event. Giving him the "okey doke" and were willing to give an aging Brown, one shot in the general election. But, after the last Conservative Convention and with the unfavourable EU signage of the Lisbon treaty, things have changed and it went in Cameron's way.

But, as this blogger has indicated, things have changed, AGAIN! Mutterings around #10 Downing Street, have the sounds of early election swelling in the air. Wrong time for the conservatives as well. They have lost their command of the economic issue to date; the Shadow Chancellor is embroiled in a kick back scandal; conservatives have had a past, they have failed to clean up, filled with racist tendencies against their large population of minorities; they lost the working class during the Thatcherite privatizations and with Brown showing good sound economic face, and his willingness to nationalize, won him some new fans- including me.

However, we will see. I predict an early election in the UK, in any event. Told my friends as much as well. I give it til mid-next year, for Brown to call or, quiet "rumours" -depending on the polls- of an early election.

But, things are heating up in cold wet England!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

The African country...So they say Palin says!

The state of limbo Africa is in at this time- or particularly, South Africa and Zimbabwe- is something we have to monitor as one, we do not want the seeds of democracy in one to be wasted and eaten up by the vultures and two, we don't want for a growing emerging market, to be dashed away within another.

And, no, I'm not going to make fun of Sarah Palin and what they said she said, that Africa is a "country". But, it seemed to fit the title and make it a little more provocative, all at the same time--- a little tricky, I know. But, its worth a read, anyways!

But, back to the topic. South Africa and Zimbabwe, the two countries at the center of 'most' of the African news and issues nowadays, barring The Sudan, are going through some really challenging political times. For one, in South Africa, a little while back they asked for Thabo Mbeki, the second South African President after the great Nelson Mandela, to step down amidst growing popularity of his heir apparent, Jacob Zuma, and, simultaneously, the corruption investigations that Mr. Mbeki was 'reportedly' spearheading in regards to Mr. Zuma himself. Mr. Zuma, has been a very bad, bad, man, so they say. He has had to answer allegations of raping the daughter of a political ally, who he had known to have AIDS, triggering off scores of reporters who scorned the idea and his excuse, lampooned by others, with his statement that; "I took a shower afterwards, to protect myself from the possibility of contracting the AIDS virus from my 'partner'. " At the time, Mr. Zuma stood as chair of the council that is national agency for AIDS awareness and protection. That's Africa, for ya!

So, now, the way is paved for Mr. Zuma in the next South African general elections, with a weakened Mr. Mbeki, who was, by all accounts, increasingly unpopular in South Africa, for having not re-distributed enough to the poorer and middle classes. Mr. Zuma, is the "opposite" and is a populist, who promises, at least, more re-distribution to the poorer classes-- even though, the other half of corruption charges he has been forced to answer to, albeit informally, were lucrative arms deals to a close South African ally and arms dealer, when he was Vice President under Mr. Mbeki. So, our little socialist, is a capitalist for himself, at least!

But, there is a bigger issue in play. And, it involves their neighbor and a really bad man, President Robert Mugabe. If it ever was a time where I wished someone removed from power, by any means necessary, it is now with Mr. Mugabe.
1. A country where leaders oppress and kill persons of differing parties, is not welcomed
2. A country, with the racist rhetoric, in today's world the way a Mugabe chants death to the Western system, is not welcomed
3. A country who's leader, has steered them into hundreds fold inflation and, a misuse of its natural resources, is unwelcome.

Mugabe has been all wrong, all around. He has not caught up with the 21st century, and maybe not even the 19th century. He has to go. And, Mr. Mbeki, while he stood as a negotiator, stuck his neck on the line for his opponent, Mr. Tsvangirai and the political process in Zimbabwe ultimately, to make sure we had a system that was palatable and workable, even by Mugabe's and Zimbawe's standard and need. Time will tell if his mediation, especially this power sharing plan, will work. A consideration which has not been fleshed out, and, which may turn deadly, is this power share between the military, controlled by Mugabe and, the police force, controlled by Mr. Tsvangirai---the possibilities for armed militia fighting, intensified by jealousies and exacerbated by cronyism for political factions and pro leadership ethnicity's, to infiltrate and dominate on or the other, is something we would have to be at a headway to pre-empt. Or, else, we will have another Rwanda on our hands. We should not want that, at all.

But, and this is only my feelings, what if this latest diplomatic push from Mbeki, is what has broken the straw on the camel's back for South Africans. And, Zuma and his allies, saw it as an opportunity to seal the door on Mbeki, without it causing too much social and political backlash!?!? Could be! But, whatever, Mbeki is out. And, now, folks who were once within his stable, most notably Mosiuoa (“Terror”) Lekota, a former ANC chairman, and Mbhazima Shilowa, until recently the premier of Gauteng province, have now aligned themselves with the main opposition party (The Democratic Alliance, led by Helen Zille)--who are, the former people and current descendants, of the racist Apartheid rule elites, who people, like them, worked hard to get rid of!!!!

We will have to wait and see how it all pans out. I will be following this issue and much more updates and analysis to come.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama on Trade...well, OFF, Trade!

At least off with the current state of the multi-lateral negotiations and off with NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). Remember the bad, bad words he said about NAFTA during the campaign and how he would pull out of the regional trade deal, if Mexico and China do not implement and enforce labour and environmental laws? Then, his economic policy advisor, Gooselbee, made it seem as if "Obama was just being 'political'". Well, we knew he was being political and it's an issue, the rest of the world took very seriously--politically speaking!

Without a doubt, aside from the EU, the US is the foremost trading partner in the world. They are the 'free-trade' people- Washington consensus and all. However, they are increasingly turning into the types of people, GASP, 'protectionists', who argued that free-trade was bad news and are caterwauling about the unfair practices of China and the EU, in a most stentorian manner.

Ohh.....Krugman and Wade were right?

Perhaps they were!

However, what would an Obama do about such imbalances? Or, what CAN he do about such imbalances?

For starters and in regards to NAFTA, Mexico and Canada should be forced to put in place labour and environmental standards. Not primarily because it affects free trade, but because its the right thing to do. If the US, wants to be continually looked at the standard bearing nation for all good and pristine, it must enforce those standards on anyone wishing to trade with it, by use of all of its diplomatic might, just to say "it matters, darnit!". And, in fact, "people" and "the environment", matter!

But, in the event of it blocking trade, the economics of it is, is that poor labour standards and lack of standardized wages and work hours, increase profit from production. Increased profit and the power to increase workers and hence production, leads countries to produce a massive amount of goods at a very cheap price- take for example the Asian textile market, where seamstresses are paid as little as $5.00 USD a week. It works out, in effect, to cheaper goods being produced, well below their true market value. Even if these goods can be produced in a developed market for a fair wage, developed countries ask for higher wages, shorter work hours and more general compensation and benefits; i.e. bigger pensions, health care and child care- the economic benefits for producing and exporting from countries like Mexico, is obvious. More workers at a cheaper price.

In turn, countries, like Mexico who abuse workers, especially in regards to Mexican steel and exports of steel to the USA, "dump" goods on markets like the USA, in an attempt to push out domestic producers and corner the market. I don't think any country wants to lose their comparative or competitive advantage, if they don't have to. However, international labour standards should apply. Then, let it run..... even steven's!

Same thing, almost, for environmental standards. No carbon emission quota's for factories, no solid waste management guidelines and so on and so forth. Lowers overall cost and gives a producer, "unfair" international profit margins and advantages to produce more goods.

What should Obama and his Mama, do?
Obama, just simply has to say to Mexico, in particular, quit it or we cut you off. Period. They will back down as Mexico, would collapse like Cuba- economically speaking.

As for Canada, he can work out a better, more diplomatic bi-lateral deal as Canadians, are always willing to cow-tow to American interests. In fact, there can be allot of deals on the table, in regards to Canada, just to make it appear friendly. For starters, it can facilitate more Canadian work permits. Secondly, he can work on stronger collaboration on the financial services sector and in the fisheries sector. All of which, Canada would jump to enforce "stricter" labour and environmental standards as a trade off. The subaltern nature of the Canadians, can be counted on at every turn. Must be the French in them! I keed...I keed!!!

What about the Multi-lateral System, Youri!?!?!
But, what about the MLS? Obama's meddling may exacerbate the issues in the MLS and WTO, even further. Bush was very compliant with free-trade. Obama, just may kill the Doha Round, DEAD! Obama would be blamed and I think, he would enjoy being blamed for killing the rest of what is left of Doha-- ab ovo, we will go! The unions would like that and so would American farmers!

Truth is Obama hates the China-US trade imbalance. He finds the low Chinese currency to be a boon to global fairness. The emerging markets were not given as much as a mention in any campaign stump-- which may work against them, as it will with Mexico and NAFTA. The EU, would be punished because of their consistent use of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism against the US and in turn, turning countries against the US--Europe, was the first and foremost region, the US tried to assist, post world war. How things change in a few decades!

On the bright side, poorer countries, may seek aid and a new bi-literalism, between the US and countries and regions, may explode. Why not? The EU has been doing it-- the recent EPA force feeding, is the type of thing the EU is looking for. How gauche!!! Since the WTO can't get a deal done, we will get it done ourselves-- they make up at least 50% of the WTO's most wealthiest nations, in any event. In fact, the world has become a 'noodle bowl' post Uruguay Round and not just Asia.

As we speak, and just to make sure its about politics, Obama backs a bi-lateral deal with Peru, but hates the deal with Columbia and Panama--Bush's projects! No doubt, they will be restructured, with little or no "real" changes in them, as many incoming governments do-- alter what they see in place from the former or whats left in limbo, just to say they did something beneficial to their country. And, then, go back to same old, same old!