Posted by Kendall Harmon

Clemens Fuest, from the Mannheim-based organization best known for its widely-watched economic sentiment index - told German business daily Handelsblatt that the euro zone region could be at a "turning point."

"I've got a bad feeling about this...I am concerned by the danger that the ECB is producing new bubbles with its policy of cheap money," he told the newspaper.

"We have all the ingredients of a bubble: The prices of real estate and stock markets continue to rise, and on the bond markets, yields are falling despite high risks."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The European Central Bank cut its deposit rate below zero and said it would announce further measures later today as policy makers try to counter the prospect of deflation in the world’s second-largest economy.

ECB President Mario Draghi reduced the deposit rate to minus 0.10 percent from zero, making the institution the world’s first major central bank to use a negative rate. Policy makers also lowered the benchmark rate to 0.15 percent from 0.25 percent.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEurope

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Posted June 5, 2014 at 7:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church Commissioners' total return on its investment in 2013 was 15.9 per cent. This means that the Church Commissioners fund has exceeded its target return of RPI + 5 percentage points over the past one year, three years, ten years and twenty years. It has also has performed better than similar funds over the same periods. Details have been published today in their full Annual Report and Account (link below) for 2013.

The Commissioners' fund is a closed fund, taking in no new money, and has performed better than its target return of RPI +5.0% p.a. and its comparator group over the past, one, three, 10 and 20 years.* The results confirm the fund's strong long term performance

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The euro zone's economy expanded at a weak pace last quarter despite a strong recovery in Germany, putting added pressure on the European Central Bank to enact fresh easing measures to prevent the region from sliding into a lengthy period of low inflation and economic stagnation.

Gross domestic product grew 0.2% in the euro zone during the first quarter compared with the final three months of 2013, the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat said Thursday, well short of the 0.4% quarterly gain expected by economists.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 15, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The man responsible for the Church of England’s £6bn endowment has defended plans to increase its investment in hedge funds, arguing that not all of the industry has “devil’s horns”.

Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner, told the Financial Times that the Church’s own ethical watchdog sanctioned short selling, providing it was done in a responsible way.

He added that the group “does not have ethical concerns about short selling per se as an investment practice,” and “did not make an ethical distinction between seeking to profit from a rise in the value of a security as against seeking to profit from a fall.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketStock Market

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Posted March 9, 2014 at 6:53 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is ramping up the exposure of its £6bn endowment to alternative investments such as hedge funds and private equity in a move that will cement its position as one of the UK’s largest single investors in these types of assets.

The Church Commissioners who manage the endowment will meet next month to decide on the fund’s allocations and are set to increase its exposure to alternative investments, which also include residential property and farm land, according to a Church spokesman. Alternatives already account for almost a third of the fund.

Read it all (if necessary another link may be found there).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock Market* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 4, 2014 at 3:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are still many things to love about Argentina, from the glorious wilds of Patagonia to the world’s best footballer, Lionel Messi. The Argentines remain perhaps the best-looking people on the planet. But their country is a wreck. Harrods closed in 1998. Argentina is once again at the centre of an emerging-market crisis. This one can be blamed on the incompetence of the president, Cristina Fernández, but she is merely the latest in a succession of economically illiterate populists, stretching back to Juan and Eva (Evita) Perón, and before. Forget about competing with the Germans. The Chileans and Uruguayans, the locals Argentines used to look down on, are now richer. Children from both those countries—and Brazil and Mexico too—do better in international education tests.

Why dwell on a single national tragedy? When people consider the worst that could happen to their country, they think of totalitarianism. Given communism’s failure, that fate no longer seems likely. If Indonesia were to boil over, its citizens would hardly turn to North Korea as a model; the governments in Madrid or Athens are not citing Lenin as the answer to their euro travails. The real danger is inadvertently becoming the Argentina of the 21st century. Slipping casually into steady decline would not be hard. Extremism is not a necessary ingredient, at least not much of it: weak institutions, nativist politicians, lazy dependence on a few assets and a persistent refusal to confront reality will do the trick.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 16, 2014 at 1:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has appointed a New York-based specialist to screen its portfolio of assets in the wake of its embarrassing Wonga debacle last year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 31, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gruelling hours were even more important, however. In his valedictory emails, perhaps wary of the cliché, Mr El-Erian avoided saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. But that is, in fact, his main reason for leaving, according to people close to him.

One tells me that on an average day Mr El-Erian’s alarm clock goes off at 2.45am. He usually gets to the office by 4.15am, gets home to his family about 7pm, eats, goes to bed by about 8.45pm and does it again.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock Market

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Posted January 28, 2014 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Frustrations with the dollar’s dominance are growing. The global fallout from the Federal Reserve’s stimulus policies, followed by Washington’s willingness to take budget talks to the brink of default last year, have made many governments reassess their reliance on US economic policy.

There is a general wish to stop the dollar being, as Richard Nixon’s Treasury secretary once told anxious Europeans, “our currency, your problem”. But it is far from clear what the alternative will be.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency MarketsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 26, 2014 at 2:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although the Fed expects to keep reducing the program "in measured steps" next year, the timing and the course isn't preset. "Continued progress [in the economy] is by no means certain," Mr. [Ben] Bernanke said. "The steps that we take will be data-dependent."

If the Fed proceeds at the pace he set out, it would complete the bond-buying program toward the end of 2014 with holdings of nearly $4.5 trillion in bonds, loans and other assets, nearly six times as large as the Fed's total holdings when the financial crisis started in 2008.

Still, officials—worried that investors would quake at the thought of less Fed support—went to lengths to demonstrate that they would keep interest rates low for years to come, even after the bond-buying program ends.
Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 19, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wall Street faces more intensive government scrutiny of trading after U.S. regulators issued what they billed as a strict Volcker rule today, imposing new curbs designed to prevent financial blowups while leaving many details to be worked out later.

The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and three other agencies formally adopted the proprietary trading ban. The rule has been contested by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and their industry allies for more than three years.

Wall Street’s lobbying efforts paid off in easing some provisions of the rule. Regulators granted a broader exemption for banks’ market-making desks, on the condition that traders aren’t paid in a way that rewards proprietary trading. The regulation also exempts some securities tied to foreign sovereign debt.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

China’s yuan overtook the euro to become the second-most used currency in global trade finance in 2013, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

The currency had an 8.66 percent share of letters of credit and collections in October, compared with 6.64 percent for the euro, Swift said in a statement today. China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany and Australia were the top users of yuan in trade finance, according to the Belgium-based financial-messaging platform. The yuan’s share of global trade finance was 1.89 percent in January 2012, while the euro’s was 7.87 percent, Swift said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency Markets* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

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Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis called for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.

The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.

In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare".

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 26, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Standard and Poor's (S&P) has cut France's credit rating to AA from AA+.

The moves comes almost two years after the country lost its top-rated AAA status....

S&P said in its statement: "We believe the French government's reforms to taxation, as well as to product, services and labour markets, will not substantially raise France's medium-term growth prospects and that ongoing high unemployment is weakening support for further significant fiscal and structural policy measures."

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010France* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 8, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here is a proposition: provide a secure and authentic digital identity for every person in Africa who wants one.

India has shown it is possible to achieve something similar at scale. Its Aadhar national identity scheme, launched in 2009, has registered 500m people using a number code and matching biometrics. It will improve service delivery – although it also strengthens the state in a way that tempts over-reach. Improving technology makes it possible to think more audaciously in Africa. Instead of just tagging a person – gathering their personal data – why not give them digital sovereignty?

Connectivity is already in place across the continent – with more than half of young Africans on smartphones – which means the era of big data is on its way. The question is who benefits and how.

Read it all (if necessary another link is there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency Markets* International News & CommentaryAfrica* Theology

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Posted October 30, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious faith is a “powerful and increasingly influential global reality” which must be taken seriously, especially in the City of London, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said God and mammon – material wealth or greed – are not mixable, but this did not mean there was no place for faith in the City.

“That’s on the authority of Jesus Christ who said you can’t serve God and mammon. God and the City, by contrast I think, are eminently mixable.”

He was speaking at a Mansion House dinner hosted by Roger Gifford, a senior banker and Lord...

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 29, 2013 at 7:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has been 10 days since the US government shutdown came to an end. And if the bond market were your guide, there would appear to be no lasting costs – the 10-year US Treasury yield dipped below 2.5 per cent this week for the first time since August.

Yet beneath the surface, Washington’s flirtation with a voluntary default has shaken confidence in American political institutions. There may be no immediate rival to the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Markets are more preoccupied by prospects of a delay to the Federal Reserve’s tapering plans. But as John Kerry, US secretary of state, said this week, the world is now monitoring the US to see when it will recover its senses. It cannot afford to make a habit of political recklessness.

The fact that Washington is undergoing a crisis of will, rather than ability, is not particularly reassuring. There is no question that the Treasury’s has capacity to service US obligations. At about 75 per cent of gross domestic product, publicly held US debt is entirely manageable – and less than a third of that of Japan. And the US fiscal deficit is on course to drop below 4 per cent of GDP next year.

Read it all (if necessary another link is there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency MarketsThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General

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Posted October 27, 2013 at 11:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bishops might have been promoting a strictly Democratic line, but U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black was more ecumenical. Amid the shutdown, Rev. Black offered a daily prayer in the Senate chamber asking God to “save us from the madness. We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness, and our pride.” Later he condemned the “hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.” His listeners in one party no doubt assumed he was talking about the other side.

It is one thing to spiritually shame politicians, as Rev. Black did. Trying to do their jobs is another. The bishops and other clergy in the Circle of Protection go well beyond their competencies when they make such policy prescriptions. Speaking about the moral issues of the day is certainly within their pastoral purview, but the bishops’ calls to raise revenues (aka taxes), for instance, or eliminate “unnecessary” military spending are not.

Bishops routinely assert their authority as “pastors and teachers,” as Bishops Blaire, Gomez and Pates did, but according to the tradition of their own church, they have no teaching authority when it comes to politics.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the US dollar's position as the reserve currency of the world imperiled as a result of the debt limit showdown in Washington?

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCurrency MarketsThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 17, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With just two days to go before an Oct. 17 deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit, 51% of the public views a rise in the nation’s debt limit as “absolutely essential” in order to avoid an Half View Debt Limit Increase as Essential, More than a Third Say it is Noteconomic crisis, while 36% think the country can go past the deadline without major problems.

Public concern over breaching the debt limit deadline has risen only slightly from a week ago, when 47% said a rise in the debt limit was essential and 39% said it was not.

Those who see no dire economic consequences resulting from going past Thursday’s deadline are not only skeptical about the timing – most say there is no need to raise the debt limit at all. Nearly a quarter of all Americans (23%) – including 37% of Republicans and 52% of Tea Party Republicans – believe the debt limit does not need to be raised at all.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 16, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Top Senate leaders on Monday said they were within striking distance of a deal to sidestep a looming debt crisis and reopen the federal government two weeks after a partisan deadlock forced it to close.

Fourteen days after a partial government shutdown began, senators signaled a bipartisan resolution could come soon.

"I'm very optimistic we will reach an agreement that's reasonable in nature this week to reopen the government, pay the nation's bills and begin long-term negotiations to put our country on sound fiscal footing," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said on the Senate floor.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 14, 2013 at 5:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What started as a mad dash to strike a deal to lift the federal debt limit slowed to a crawl over the weekend as stalemated Senate leaders waited nervously to see whether financial markets would plunge Monday morning and drive the other side toward compromise.

Republicans seemed to think they had more to lose. After talks broke down between President Obama and House leaders, GOP senators quickly cobbled together a plan to end the government shutdown — now entering its third week — and raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) then asked Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to elevate negotiations to the highest level.

On Sunday — with the Treasury Department due to exhaust its borrowing power in just four days — Reid was wielding that leverage to maximum advantage. Rather than making concessions that would undermine Obama’s signature health-care initiative, as Republicans first demanded, Democrats are now on the offensive and seeking to undo what has become a cherished prize for the GOP: deep agency spending cuts known as the sequester.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

4 Comments
Posted October 14, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A senior Chinese official has warned that the "clock is ticking" to avoid a US default that could hurt China's interests and the global economy.

China, the US's largest creditor, is "naturally concerned about developments in the US fiscal cliff", vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao said.

Washington must agree a deal to raise its borrowing limit by 17 October, or risk being unable to pay its bills.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Stock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

2 Comments
Posted October 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Angela Merkel won a landslide personal victory in Germany's general election on Sunday, but her conservatives appeared just short of the votes needed to rule on their own and may have to convince leftist rivals to join a coalition government.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 23, 2013 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seeing a more uneven economic climate than they expected and the potential for fiscal discord in Washington, Federal Reserve officials got cold feet Wednesday and decided to keep their signature easy-money program in place for the time being.

The move, coming after Fed officials spent months alerting the public that they might begin to pare their $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program at the September policy meeting, marks the latest in a string of striking turnabouts from Washington policy makers that have whipsawed markets in recent days.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketStock MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve

0 Comments
Posted September 19, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Earlier today, I spoke with Larry Summers and accepted his decision to withdraw his name from consideration for Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Larry was a critical contributor to the radical deregulation that was one of many causes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. It was in no small part because of his lack of expertise, false wisdom, and inept leadership that the economy crashed and burned and even today is still failing to be to back to its full growth potential.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ever since the euro crisis broke in late 2009 this newspaper has criticised the world’s most powerful woman. We disagreed with Angela Merkel’s needlessly austere medicine: the continent’s recession has been unnecessarily long and brutal as a result. We wanted the chancellor to shrug off her cautious incrementalism and the mantle of her country’s history—and to lead Europe more forcefully. She is largely to blame for the failure to create a full banking union for the euro zone, the first of many institutional changes it still needs. She has refused to lead public opinion, never spelling out to her voters how much Germany is to blame for the euro mess (nor how much its banks have been rescued by its bail-outs). We also worry that she has not done enough at home: in recent years no country in the European Union has made fewer structural reforms, and her energy policies have landed Germany with high subsidies for renewables and high electricity prices.

And yet we believe Mrs Merkel is the right person to lead her country and thus Europe. That is partly because of what she is: the world’s most politically gifted democrat and a far safer bet than her leftist opponents. It is also partly because of what we believe she could still become—the great leader Germany and Europe so desperately needs.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

0 Comments
Posted September 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the euro crisis began, many governments across Europe have been swept from power. France last year saw a presidential campaign heavily focused on Europe, and calls for alternatives to austerity have grown ever louder. So why is it that Germany, the country key to solving the euro crisis, seems immune to this polarization of views on the future of economic and monetary union?

Partly it has to do with the Greens and the Social Democrats, two opposition parties struggling to differentiate their euro policies from Merkel's government, a coalition of her conservatives and the business friendly Free Democrats (FDP). Both the Greens and the SPD have supported all major euro rescue measures thus far. Even the Left Party, a stronger critic of the government, recently confirmed its overall commitment to the common currency. There is currently no anti-euro party in Germany parliament, with newcomers such as the euro-skeptic Alternative for Germany, media attention notwithstanding, yet to demonstrate their potential at the ballot box.

One reason is that Germans are still not feeling the pinch of the crisis. On the contrary, they continue to hear good news about strong exports, lower unemployment and economic growth. With the election looming, it is no surprise that the Merkel administration is wary of spoiling this mood of complacency by addressing the downsides of the "German model" for fellow euro-zone member states.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

0 Comments
Posted August 19, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has discovered vulnerabilities in the government's system for preventing market-moving economic reports from leaking to traders before public release.

Law-enforcement officials found "a number of operational vulnerabilities" involving "black boxes" used by several departments to control the release of sensitive economic data such as the monthly unemployment rate, according to a report by the inspector general at the Commerce Department.

The report said it was possible to subvert the system, which was designed to prevent media companies from sending economic data to traders early.

Read it all(or if necessary another link is there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two more Portuguese ministers from the junior ruling coalition party were ready to resign on Wednesday, local media said, deepening turmoil that could trigger a snap election and derail Lisbon's exit from an EU/IMF bailout.

Multiple newspaper radio and television reports said Agriculture Minister Assuncao Cristas and Social Security Minister Pedro Mota Soares will follow their CDS-PP party leader Paulo Portas who tendered his resignation on Tuesday. Party officials were not available to comment as the party's executive commission was in a meeting.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Portugal

0 Comments
Posted July 3, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During the testosterone-fuelled boom years, Christian faith was about surviving in the City, but since 2008 and the revelation that it was all built on sand, Christians have been saying unequivocally that the gospel is non-negotiable, that working in commerce isn’t about surviving as a Christian but about transforming the way we do business, that Christianity is disruptive of systemic greed and corruption: that, in short, their work serves their faith and not the other way round. They are converting markets, not just people. These are the new Power Christians.

Welby is their spiritual, as well as titular, leader. Born in 1956 into a privileged, if eccentric family, he has managed a tension between descent from a powerful Conservative dynasty (on his mother’s side, he is a scion of the Butler family, which gave us Rab Butler, the deputy prime minister to Harold Macmillan) and skeletons in the family cupboard (it was seen fit to conceal his paternal Jewish-immigrant lineage from him until he became an adult).

This background may have contributed to Welby the Outsider, part of the establishment but also a thorn in its side. It is no surprise that the relentlessly bourgeois HTB couldn’t contain him. Note that he considerably widened not only his social but his theological circle after he left the Knightsbridge church. Via Africa and the Middle East, he arrived as dean of Liverpool Cathedral, where he operated what he and Dr Williams have dubbed a “mixed economy” of traditions. Now add that eclecticism – one might even call it a catholic taste in denominations – to the can-do attitude of the City whizz-kid and you have someone who can tap effortlessly in to the energy of any kind of Christian witness....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 7, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

European governments are figuring out that taxing financial transactions won't be a magical money machine and that the proposed levy might even damage the European economy.

Reuters first reported Thursday that EU officials are scaling back a transaction tax proposal supported by 11 countries that is supposed to take effect in January. The levy could instead be introduced on a "staggered basis," one official told the news agency. The first phase might only tax sales and purchases of shares, not bonds or derivatives transactions, and at 0.01% instead of 0.1% as currently proposed. A rate of zero is more appropriate.

Enthusiasm for the tax has been dimming for a while, including in governments that have previously backed it. Christian Noyer, the Governor of the Banque de France, said in Paris on Tuesday that the levy will raise "nothing at all." One unnamed EU official told Reuters that a scaled-back transaction tax would reap revenue of less than €3.5 billion. The full-fledged levy, as proposed by the European Commission in February, was supposed to rake in €31 billion a year.

Read it all (if necessary another link may be found here.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroStock MarketTaxesThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted June 3, 2013 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

European countries plan to scale back a proposed financial transactions tax drastically, initially imposing a tiny charge on share deals only and taking much longer than originally intended to achieve a full roll-out.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketTaxesThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEurope* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 30, 2013 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is no evidence that an FTT would moderate market volatility — and attenuate sudden shifts of mood on financial markets.

A recent report by Anna Pomeranets from the Bank of Canada concluded that there have been instances when an FTT led to an increase in volatility — most significantly on the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange, between 1932 and 1981, where increases in the FTT were associated with rising volatility, increased bid-ask spreads, and lower trading volumes.

Similarly, the idea that capital is under-taxed in current tax regimes is mistaken.

Read More At Investor's Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-viewpoint/052913-658027-financial-transaction-tax-in-europe-will-not-raise-much-money-and-may-hurt-growth.htm#ixzz2UmJX6SiT
Follow us: @IBDinvestors on Twitter | InvestorsBusinessDaily on Facebook


Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketTaxesThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEurope

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Posted May 30, 2013 at 6:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Whn Shinzo Abe resigned after just a year as prime minister, in September 2007, he was derided by voters, broken by chronic illness, and dogged by the ineptitude that has been the bane of so many recent Japanese leaders. Today, not yet five months into his second term, Mr Abe seems to be a new man. He has put Japan on a regime of “Abenomics”, a mix of reflation, government spending and a growth strategy designed to jolt the economy out of the suspended animation that has gripped it for more than two decades. He has supercharged Japan’s once-fearsome bureaucracy to make government vigorous again. And, with his own health revived, he has sketched out a programme of geopolitical rebranding and constitutional change that is meant to return Japan to what Mr Abe thinks is its rightful place as a world power.

Mr Abe is electrifying a nation that had lost faith in its political class. Since he was elected, the stockmarket has risen by 55%. Consumer spending pushed up growth in the first quarter to an annualised 3.5%. Mr Abe has an approval rating of over 70% (compared with around 30% at the end of his first term). His Liberal Democratic Party is poised to triumph in elections for the upper house of the Diet in July. With a majority in both chambers he should be able to pass legislation freely.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency MarketsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaJapan

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the thirty or so years that I have been following EU affairs – or is it nearer 35 years now since I studied in French literature in Paris, and German philosophy in Mainz – I have never seen ties between Europe’s two great land states reduced so low.

The French Socialist Party crossed a line by lashing out at Chancellor Angela Merkel in person. It is one thing to protest “German austerity”, it is quite another to rebuke the “selfish intransigence of Mrs Merkel, who thinks of nothing but the deposits of German savers, the trade balance recorded by Berlin and her electoral future”.

There is no justification for such an ad hominem attack. German policy is indeed destructive, but that is structural. It is built into the mechanisms of EMU and the anthropological make-up of the enterprise.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceGermany

1 Comments
Posted May 1, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justin Welby, the new leader of nearly 80m Anglicans around the world, has won a respectful hearing for his ideas on banking and the British economy. Even if they disagree with the details, people have generally not reacted by saying "this man hasn't a clue what he is talking about" or "he should go back to singing hymns."

On April 21st, the archbishop of Canterbury suggested that big, unhealthy banks should be broken up into regional ones, as part of a "revolution in the aims" of banks designed to make sure that they served society as well as their own narrow interests. That sounded very like the proposal made last month by Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, for local lenders modelled on the German system. It comes at a time when the government faces hard decisions about the future of the Royal Bank of Scotland after its rescue by the tax-payer. Given the immediacy of the issue, some people will accuse the archbishop (who lists his hobbies as French culture, sailing and politics) of making narrow political points rather than broad moral ones.

But he also had some longer-term ideas on the financial sector. Drawing on his experience as a member of a parliamentary Banking Standards Commission, he said senior positions in banking ought to form a regulated profession which required qualifications.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2013 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking on Radio 4... [on Saturday], the Archbishop of Canterbury stressed the implications of Christian ethics for the City of London

The Christian Gopsel has "always had strong social implications" and been concerned with "the common good", the Archbishop of Canterbury said....

In an interview for Radio 4's Week in Westminster, Archbishop Justin said his main mission wasn't to inject morality back into British business. But he said that how the City of London - which “is so important and so full of very gifted people” – behaves in relation to the common good is a major concern not just for the Church but for society generally.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 29, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, laughs when it is suggested that he has a mission to raise moral standards in the City. “My key mission is to lead the Church in worshipping Jesus Christ,” he says.

He points out, however, that Christian teaching concerns the “common good”, and he is concerned about “how the City of London, which is so important and so full of very gifted people”, relates to this concept.

Dr Welby is in a unique position to do something about it. Outside the cathedral he enjoys two political pulpits from which to shape the debate: in the House of Lords and on the cross-party parliamentary banking commission.

Read it all (another link ).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2013 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The City of London has been affected by a "culture of entitlement" at variance with what others think reasonable, the new Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

But the Most Reverend Justin Welby told the BBC business morality was in many ways much better than in the past.

He also defended his description of the UK's economic situation as a depression rather than a recession.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 27, 2013 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There has never been any doubt that Trinity Church is wealthy. But the extent of its wealth has long been a mystery; guessed at by many, known by few.

Now, however, after a lawsuit filed by a disenchanted parishioner, the church has offered an estimate of the value of its assets: more than $2 billion.

The Episcopal parish, known as Trinity Wall Street, traces its holdings to a gift of 215 acres of prime Manhattan farmland donated in 1705 by Queen Anne of England. Since then, the church has parlayed that gift into a rich portfolio of office buildings, stock investments and, soon, mixed-use residential development.

Read it all from today's New York Times.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketStock Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

13 Comments
Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Culture change in financial services will not be achieved by "light touch" or "heavy touch" regulation, Archbishop Justin said at a Westminster discussion organised by the Bible Society.

Instead the banking sector must adopt "an aim of service to society and not mere rent-seeking, and a culture of virtue based in the realities of daily life and not a fantasy nirvana," he said.

Describing what this change of culture might look like, the Archbishop said it would require "a ruthless honesty and a deep willingness to be made very uncomfortable indeed through listening to things one does not want to hear".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 23, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We have no way of knowing how this all ends. One problem is that the smartest solution—having Germany and perhaps a handful of other northern countries leave the euro for a new currency (the Deutche Mark 2.0, or a “neuro” for northern Europe)—would make life easier in the south. The south based euro would fall in value, but since debts and contracts are denominated in that currency, the adjustment would be the same as in a normal devaluation. This course would likely lead quickly to a new burst of growth in the south, though inflation and other problems would take a toll over time.

But the euro’s break up day would cause a lot of problems for Germany and its northern friends....

So we’re in an interesting situation. The crisis is crippling the south, but the south has no power to resolve the crisis. The crisis isn’t comfortable for the north but still looks less painful than the solution. So the north, which has the ability to resolve the crisis, doesn’t have the will to do it and the south, which has the will, lacks the ability.

Read it all (and please note that the Financial Times article by Wolfgang Münchau which is mentioned, entitled "The riddle of Europe’s single currency with many values," is indeed a must read as Mr. Read says).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

1 Comments
Posted April 17, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

MarketWatch: Since Nixon’s “abomination” as you call it, we have had some periods where government spending to GDP actually went down, like during the Clinton era. Doesn’t that show it’s just the choices made by Congress rather than the Fed to blame [for the problem of rising national debt as a % of GDP]?

Stockman: There is the issue that Congress ultimately is the fiscal authority. But my argument is, when the Fed becomes a massive buyer of bonds and debt and artificially suppresses interest rate below market-clearing levels, it’s a terrible signal to the Congress that debt is cheap, that running deficits is a viable strategy. So therefore they are induced to kick the can, to let it drift and avoid hard choices. Who wants to tell the public you are going to take your broccoli of higher taxes and lower benefits and spending if you can issue debt on a three-year basis for 40 basis points. That’s free. I was in Congress, they don’t do decimal math, OK? And they think the money is free, it’s a bad problem philosophically, we shouldn’t be doing this for the great long run, but it’s no harm today.

Then they have professors like Krugman who give them the disingenuous advice that the bond vigilantes don’t care. The market is saying, “fine with us, we don’t care, keep piling the debt on, we love it.” That is so much baloney. The reason the interest rate on the 10-year bond 10_YEAR -0.33% today is 1.8% or whatever it happened to settle today, is the market knows the Fed is buying half of the debt and is front running the Fed. And it is renting the bond on repo, 98 cents on the dollar, based on overnight money that’s free thanks to Bubbles Ben as well.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe National Deficit* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 4, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2012, the average cost of a movie ticket in the United States was $7.92.

This doesn't include all of the (expensive) extras that you usually get roped into buying when you hit the theater, such as popcorn, pop and chocolate bars. We are just talking about the actual ticket.

In 1910, the average cost of a movie ticket was $0.07. Adjusted for inflation, a movie ticket in 1910 would work out to about $1.71 in 2013 dollars.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & Television* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCurrency Markets

2 Comments
Posted January 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Late one night 20 years ago, when I was an oil executive rather than an Anglican bishop, I had run out of steam and patience toward the end of a complex multinational acquisition. We came to yet another bit of box ticking and I suggested we skip it, because we knew the material was accurate.

“Justin,” our wise investment-bank director said quietly, “you know that’s not how we do it.”

Under pressure, everyone is prone to make bad decisions and that story remains in my mind as I sit on the U.K.’s Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, listening to people talk about banks, bankers and their failures.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketStock MarketTaxesThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 17, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Understanding the developing attitude of the central banks, and the effects of their actions, obviously remains central for investors in all financial assets. The “big picture” for global financial assets, involving very low government bond yields and a gradual shift of risk appetite into credit and equities, is unlikely to change until one of two events takes place.

The first would be a decision by the central bankers themselves that the era of unlimited quantitative easing must end, either because of the risk of inflation and asset price bubbles, or because of concerns about fiscal dominance over the monetary authorities. The second would be a realisation by the markets that further action by the central bankers is irrelevant because they have run out of effective ammunition. Either of these events would probably remove the central prop from the equity bull market which began in March, 2009, but neither seems very likely in 2013.

There is certainly no sign that the central bankers themselves will call a halt to the extension of their balance sheets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReserveThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Politics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChinaJapanEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted December 31, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Federal Reserve refashioned its bond-buying programs on Wednesday, extending its far-reaching effort to revitalize the jobs market and boost the economic recovery into 2013.

In addition, the Fed shifted its communications strategy by specifying the levels of unemployment and inflation that might prompt it to begin raising short-term interest rates, which are now near zero.

The central bank's policy committee, in its final meeting of the year, said Wednesday it would "initially" begin buying $45 billion of long-term Treasury bonds each month. The latest stimulus from the Fed will replace an expiring program known as "Operation Twist," in which the Fed has been buying about $45 billion of long-term Treasury bonds each month and selling about the same amount of short-term Treasurys.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal Reserve

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Budget negotiations between the White House and Republican House Speaker John Boehner have progressed steadily in recent days, people close to the process said, breathing life into talks that appeared to have stalled.

Both sides still face sizable differences before any agreement might be reached by the end of the year, and talks could well falter again over such controversial issues as taxes and Medicare before any deal is ultimately reached.

The people familiar with the matter say talks have taken a marked shift in recent days as staff and leaders have consulted, becoming more "serious." Both sides have agreed to keep details private, according to the people, who declined to detail where new ground was being broken.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

0 Comments
Posted December 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justin Welby, a former oil executive, may have hoped to have left the problems of Mammon behind on his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, but he could be plunged into an immediate cash crisis.

The Church of England’s pension deficit could reach £500m by the end of this year, putting a huge financial burden on congregations, an independent pensions consultant has warned.

John Ralfe said congregations, who already pay £68m annually to support the Clergy Pensions Scheme’s 24,000 members, will have to find £108m a year if an existing plan to eliminate the deficit over 12 years is not extended.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsPersonal FinancePensionsStock Market

2 Comments
Posted November 26, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Moody's] said France’s long-term economic growth had been hit by its inflexible labour market and low levels of innovation eroding its competitiveness and industrial base.

Moody's also flagged up the country’s exposure to the continuing eurozone crisis.

It warned the “predictability” of France’s resilence of further shocks in the eurozone was diminishing while the country’s exposure to the highly indebted countries such as Spain and Greece was disproportionately high.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance

1 Comments
Posted November 20, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The threat of the euro’s collapse has abated for the moment, but putting the single currency right will involve years of pain. The pressure for reform and budget cuts is fiercest in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, which all saw mass strikes and clashes with police this week.... But ahead looms a bigger problem that could dwarf any of these: France.

The country has always been at the heart of the euro, as of the European Union. President François Mitterrand argued for the single currency because he hoped to bolster French influence in an EU that would otherwise fall under the sway of a unified Germany. France has gained from the euro: it is borrowing at record low rates and has avoided the troubles of the Mediterranean. Yet even before May, when François Hollande became the country’s first Socialist president since Mitterrand, France had ceded leadership in the euro crisis to Germany. And now its economy looks increasingly vulnerable as well.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010France

0 Comments
Posted November 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The eurozone's return to recession is particularly bad news because it is now hitting once strong economies like Germany. This means the recession will last longer and have a bigger impact on U.S. consumers and companies.

Figures released today showed that collectively the economies of the 17-country eurozone contracted by 0.1 percent between July and September. While this is a slight improvement over the second quarter of the year when it shrank by 0.2 percent, the definition of a recession is two straight quarters of contraction. Most analysts believe that the recession will continue at least until the end of 2012.

"The recession in southern Europe is slowly creeping to other countries," says Martin Van Vliet, an analyst with ING. "If you look at the indicators for the fourth quarter you see that even Germany many not grow again and that shows that the economy has an enormous need for a new impulse."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

1 Comments
Posted November 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has asked a panel of advisers to look into reform proposals for France, concerned that weakness in the euro zone's second largest economy could come back to haunt Germany and the broader currency bloc.

Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters this week that Schaeuble asked the council of economic advisers to the German government, known as the "wise men", to consider drafting a report on what France should do.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010FranceGermany

0 Comments
Posted November 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Talks to agree the EU's 2013 budget have collapsed, after negotiators from the EU and member states were unable to agree on extra funding for 2012.

The EU Commission and European Parliament had asked for a budget rise of 6.8% in 2013.

But most governments wanted to limit the rise to just 2.8%.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

0 Comments
Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Finance chiefs of the world's 20 leading economies are ringing alarm bells over the U.S. fiscal cliff and Europe's debt woes at a meeting in Mexico this weekend as they look to push back deficit reduction targets to help boost growth.

Unless a fractious U.S. Congress can reach a deal, about $600 billion in government spending cuts and higher taxes are set to kick in on January 1, threatening to push the American economy back into recession and hit world growth.

"The Americans themselves acknowledge that this is a problem," a G20 official said on condition of anonymity. "The U.S. administration says it doesn't want to fall off the fiscal cliff, but right now it can't tell us how exactly it will address it because that issue is on ice ahead of the election."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsG20 Housing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateUS Presidential Election 2012

0 Comments
Posted November 5, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French leader François Hollande is uncomfortably close to a collapse in credibility. His poll rating has sunk to 36pc. The speed of decline has been shocking.
The latest broadside comes from ex-German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, supposedly his ally on the Left.
"The election promises of the French president are going to shatter on the walls of economic reality," he said in Paris.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankTaxesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010France

0 Comments
Posted November 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To those who were surprised that the European Union received the Nobel Peace Prize, I say: “Think twice.” This was not only a deserved award for Europe’s contribution to bringing peace and stabilizing democracies in the recent past. The Nobel Committee was also sending a clear warning to contemporary leaders. I could almost hear them saying: “On this difficult odyssey, don’t abandon ship. In today’s world, the EU is too valuable to squander.”

It was an indirect but powerful rebuttal to the dangerous nationalist and populist rhetoric some politicians have adopted when describing the recent financial crisis.

This message couldn’t have come at a better time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Greece

0 Comments
Posted November 1, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The financial markets have been notably calm of late. Stock indexes have ticked upwards and interest rates on sovereign bonds have drifted downwards. The euro has also remained relatively stable against the dollar. And investor panic seems to have dissipated.

But appearances can be deceiving, said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Tuesday. "I'm not so sure that the worst of the crisis is behind us," he said at a mechanical engineering conference in Berlin, warning that reform efforts needed to be re-doubled to ensure that trust in the euro returns.

His comments were echoed by Yves Mersch, a member of the European Central Bank Governing Council who was also present at the event. He warned that even if calm had returned to the markets, it could be deceptive. "The bleeding has been stopped, but the patient is not yet in the clear," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

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Posted October 25, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For 33 years, Sánchez Gordillo has been mayor of Marinaleda, pop. 2,700, another farming settlement about 100 miles west of Jódar. Like Jódar, Marinaleda is mostly inhabited by jornaleros. Over the decades, Sánchez Gordillo has transformed the poor village into an islet of social justice and relative prosperity, with almost full employment through communal farming, low taxes, a salary of €1,200 ($1,572), food and housing considered as rights, and “direct democracy” exercised through frequent general assemblies. Sánchez Gordillo and his townsmen launched their movement to build what he calls “a communist utopia” after the death of general and dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, occupying land owned by a member of the royal family and distributing it for communal ownership as well as taking over local airports.

His efforts in Marinaleda long ago earned him a regional following, but Sánchez Gordillo and his lieutenant, the 57-year-old Diego Cañamero, the SAT union’s national spokesman, have gained renown in recent months with a series of controversial protests against the austerity measures embraced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the Spanish government. On Aug. 7, the two led union members on raids on Carrefour (CA) and Mercadona supermarkets, leaving the stores with shopping carts full of “expropriated” food they gave away to the hungry poor.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain

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Posted October 23, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indeed, the impact of this latest round of unconventional monetary policy is already fading. Analysts at Morgan Stanley this week decided that returns in the high-yield market were no longer attractive in the face of deteriorating fundamentals. The stock market is struggling to make further headway, while yields on mortgage-backed securities have started to turn up after an initial drop. A drop in third-quarter capital expenditure suggests the Fed policy hasn’t been a catalyst for corporate investment at all.

One major reason for the lack of effectiveness of this latest round of quantitative easing may well be a growing concern with the “fiscal cliff”, automatic US tax rises and spending cuts due to kick in on January 1. Uncertainty over “cliff risk” – and the prospects of a deal in Congress on deficit reduction – seems to be offsetting any positive impact of Fed policies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

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Posted October 20, 2012 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From an interview with the authors of the Simpson-Bowles reform plan and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein:

"...We just met with -- a dozen of the largest high-tech company CEOs in the country. Not only are they hoarding cash. All their customers, all their suppliers are. They're scared to death we're going to go over this cliff and it could be a catastrophe...."

You can find a summary article to read there, it has briefer video links, but the best use of your time is to watch the full interview over here or read the transcript (about 42 1/2 minutes). Also, David Brook's piece on the debt indulgence is worth a careful revisit.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

4 Comments
Posted October 16, 2012 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The greatest risk to US financial markets stems from other countries’ willingness (or lack thereof) to continue to hold dollar reserves as the value depreciates. If those nations suspect that the US cannot maintain the strength of our currency, they will begin to drain assets from American banks – seeking safer havens for their wealth. That could entail trading US treasury bonds for perceived “safer” currencies such as those of New Zealand or Canada or even switching to an entirely different asset class such as gold or silver.

While there may not be any significant signs of capital flight yet, just look east. The Chinese are the largest, external holder of US debt. And they’re already heading down this path – dropping the share of their portfolio comprised of US dollar assets from 74 to 54 percent in the last five years. It may very well be a harbinger of what’s to come.

Attempting to counter fears fanned by trends like this, Bernanke talks of a “soft landing...”

Read it all.

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Posted October 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greece is teetering on the edge of collapse with its society at risk of disintegrating unless the country's near-empty public coffers are shored up with urgent financial aid, the country's prime minister has warned.

Almost three years after the eruption of Europe's debt drama in Athens, the economic crisis engulfing the nation has become so severe that democracy itself is now imperiled, Antonis Samaras said.

"Greek democracy stands before what is perhaps its greatest challenge," Samaras told the German business daily Handelsblatt in an interview published hours before the announcement in Berlin that Angela Merkel will fly to Athens next week for the first time since the outbreak of the crisis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Greece

4 Comments
Posted October 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And to draw, dear reader, what I think are critical relative comparisons, look at who’s in that ring of fire alongside the U.S. There’s Japan, Greece, the U.K., Spain and France, sort of a rogues’ gallery of debtors. Look as well at which countries have their budgets and fiscal gaps under relative control – Canada, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, China and a host of other developing (many not shown) as opposed to developed countries. As a rule of thumb, developing countries have less debt and more underdeveloped financial systems. The U.S. and its fellow serial abusers have been inhaling debt’s methamphetamine crystals for some time now, and kicking the habit looks incredibly difficult.

As one of the “Ring” leaders, America’s abusive tendencies can be described in more ways than an 11% fiscal gap and a $1.6 trillion current dollar hole which needs to be filled. It’s well publicized that the U.S. has $16 trillion of outstanding debt, but its future liabilities in terms of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are less tangible and therefore more difficult to comprehend. Suppose, though, that when paying payroll or income taxes for any of the above benefits, American citizens were issued a bond that they could cash in when required to pay those future bills. The bond would be worth more than the taxes paid because the benefits are increasing faster than inflation. The fact is that those bonds today would total nearly $60 trillion, a disparity that is four times our publicized number of outstanding debt. We owe, in other words, not only $16 trillion in outstanding, Treasury bonds and bills, but $60 trillion more. In my example, it just so happens that the $60 trillion comes not in the form of promises to pay bonds or bills at maturity, but the present value of future Social Security benefits, Medicaid expenses and expected costs for Medicare. Altogether, that’s a whopping total of 500% of GDP, dear reader, and I’m not making it up. Kindly consult the IMF and the CBO for verification. Kindly wonder, as well, how we’re going to get out of this mess.

Please take the time to read it all and examine the chart closely. The only difference on this between Mr. Gross and myself is that I believe he understates the problem with the 60 trillion dollar figure. As has been discussed on the blog in the past, the correct figure may be as much as three plus times that amount--KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareSocial SecurityPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

16 Comments
Posted October 2, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Spanish were a bit hesitant but now they are ready to request aid," a senior European source said. Three other euro zone senior euro zone sources confirmed the shift in the Spanish position, all speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said Spain is taking all the right steps to overcome its fiscal problems and does not need a bailout, arguing that investors will recognise and reward Spanish reforms in due course.

Privately, several European diplomats and a senior German source said Chancellor Angela Merkel preferred to avoid putting more individual bailouts for distressed euro zone countries to her increasingly reluctant parliament.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanySpain

1 Comments
Posted October 2, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Spanish government Saturday said the effort to clean up an ailing banking system will have a big impact on its finances, widening its budget gap and increasing its debt load.

Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro said the government forecasts its budget deficit will stand at 7.4% of gross domestic product this year. Excluding the impact of measures to help banks to digest a massive pile of toxic real-estate assets, he said Spain will comply with the deficit target of 6.3% of GDP for 2012 it has committed to with the European Union.

The new budget projections come at a time of uncertainty about the country's solvency amid soaring borrowing costs. Many analysts expect the government's effort to lower a budget gap to below the 3%-of-GDP limit for EU countries by 2014 to go off track also because of a deep recession that is pushing the unemployment rate to a record high of almost 25%.

Read it all.

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Posted September 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Rajoy is the victim of his electoral success: his majority government, ironically, is weaker for not including regionalist partners. The Catalan government sees the dissatisfaction with Madrid’s handling of the crisis as an opportunity: it may give the regionalists enough of a boost at the polls to force Madrid to hand them more autonomy, in other words, control of taxes. If Catalonia had control over its own taxes, the argument goes, the region would not have needed a bailout.

Rajoy’s choices are limited: he either refuses Catalan demands for more autonomy and risks enflaming Catalan nationalist sentiment, or agrees to increased autonomy, and risks enflaming Spanish nationalist sentiment.

Read it all.

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Posted September 26, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Citing the European churches’ “strong commitment over the past century to the ecumenical movement and fellowship in Europe,” WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit urged their direct engagement in the current financial and social crisis in and beyond Europe.

Their past commitment “has changed the realities of Europe. It has borne much fruit on other continents. That can, and should, happen again,” he added.

Tveit shared this message at the General Assembly of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) on 21 September in Florence, Italy.

Read it all and note the link to the full text of his remarks at the bottom.

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Posted September 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When history books trace the evolution of the euro crisis, September 2012 will mark the beginning of a new chapter. Recent days have seen decisive moves from Europe’s notoriously incremental policymaking machinery. On September 12th Germany’s constitutional court backed the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the euro zone’s permanent rescue fund, removing the last big hurdle to its launch. The same day, the European Commission laid out a blueprint for joint European banking supervision, the first step to a banking union. Days earlier the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that, under certain conditions, it would buy unlimited amounts of the bonds of troubled euro-zone countries.

Taken together, these actions mark a big change. At best, they constitute the foundations of a more sustainable monetary union. The euro zone now has a plan for bank supervision. It will be haggled over and watered-down, but the record of European diplomacy suggests that once proposals exist, something, eventually, tends to be agreed on.... Most important, the euro zone now has a central bank committed to being a lender of last resort. Yes, the commitment is conditional on countries securing help from, and adhering to, a rescue plan. But the ECB has made clear, for the first time, that it is willing to intervene without limit if need be.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

1 Comments
Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A funny thing sticks in my mind about Black Wednesday. As dusk arrived, I was standing in the media scrum outside the Treasury, waiting for Norman Lamont to read the last rites over sterling’s membership of the European exchange rate mechanism (ERM). The photographers wanted the chancellor to deliver his statement standing next to a drain; but when a government official saw what they were up to, he taped a piece of paper over it. “They are not going to get their 'pound goes down the drain’ picture now,” he said proudly. They didn’t need to, of course: the defeated look on the chancellor’s face said it all.

September 16, 1992 – 20 years ago next Sunday – had been a convulsive day. It dawned bright and sunny and ended with a dark cloud hanging over John Major’s government, which had been unexpectedly re-elected just five months earlier. The economy was in recession, the House of Commons was in recess and the Liberal Democrat conference, under way in Harrogate, was about to become even more irrelevant than usual.

We had known for days, if not weeks, that a reckoning was coming....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCurrency MarketsThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope

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Posted September 12, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Germany should leave the euro zone if it is not prepared to take a more decisive lead in helping the euro zone's weaker nations escape a spiral of increasing indebtedness and economic decline, veteran financier George Soros said on Saturday.

Soros said Europe faced a prolonged depression and an acrimonious end to the European unification project if steps were not taken to help its southern nations grow their way out of the debt crisis by collectively assuming some of their debt and relaxing its German-led insistence on austerity.

"Germany should either lead in developing a growth policy, political union and burden-sharing, accept the cost of leadership, or leave through an amicable arrangement," Soros said in an interview with Reuters television in Vienna.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

3 Comments
Posted September 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greeted with initial fanfare by investors and economic officials, the unlimited bond-buying plan that the European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, announced Thursday ran into immediate political problems in the crucial countries of Germany, Spain and Italy.

In Germany, despite Chancellor Angela Merkel’s support for Mr. Draghi and the independence of the Central Bank, political and news media reaction was scathing, with accusations that the bank, in seeking to stabilize the euro currency union, was subverting its mandate to fight inflation and forcing debt upon euro zone members.

“A Black Day for the Euro,” “Over the Red Line” and “Pandora’s Box Opened Forever” were some of the German headlines, with the normally sympathetic Süddeutsche Zeitung headlining an editorial: “The E.C.B. Rewards Mismanagement.” Even the German Bundesbank, officially part of the European Central Bank, put out a statement commenting acidly that the plan was “financing governments by printing bank notes.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyItalySpain

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Posted September 9, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In June, it seemed as if any day might bring about the collapse of the Greek economy and with it, the entire euro zone and its decade-old currency. Then in July and August, it seemed as if everyone was on vacation. Now they’re back — finance officials and political leaders have been flying all over Europe to meet with one another — and along with them the crisis that has been raging for the last two years. Here is a guide to the new season’s most intriguing (and terrifying) [seven] story lines....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shortly after confiding to his countrymen that he had been unable to sleep at night because of all the young unemployed people in his country, Spanish King Juan Carlos secretly hopped aboard a plane and went on a lavish safari to Botswana, where he shot elephants.

When word leaked out this spring, Spaniards were outraged. Newspapers calculated that such hunting trips cost twice the country’s average annual salary. Tomas Gomez, a Socialist party leader, called on the king to choose between his “public responsibilities or an abdication.” Now, critics are calling on him to slash his budget and reveal how he is spending the money.

The backlash against the 74-year-old king is part of a broader soul-searching in Europe about the role and relevance of monarchies as the economic crisis deepens.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 24, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces one of the toughest choices of her career in the coming weeks: whether to risk the unraveling of the euro zone, or her government.

After a summer lull, Greece is again Ms. Merkel's biggest headache.

The Greek government, struggling with depression-like conditions that have pushed the economy to the brink, is likely to need many billions of euros of additional aid to avoid bankruptcy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyGreece

0 Comments
Posted August 22, 2012 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....rather than scour tarnished Weimar, we should read much deeper into Germany’s incomparably rich history, and in particular the indelible mark left by Martin Luther and the “mighty fortress” he built with his strain of Protestantism. Even today Germany, though religiously diverse and politically secular, defines itself and its mission through the writings and actions of the 16th century reformer, who left a succinct definition of Lutheran society in his treatise “The Freedom of a Christian,” which he summarized in two sentences: “A Christian is a perfectly free Lord of all, subject to none, and a Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all.”

Consider Luther’s view on charity and the poor. He made the care of the poor an organized, civic obligation by proposing that a common chest be put in every German town; rather than skimp along with the traditional practice of almsgiving to the needy and deserving native poor, Luther proposed that they receive grants, or loans, from the chest. Each recipient would pledge to repay the borrowed amount after a timely recovery and return to self-sufficiency, thereby taking responsibility for both his neighbors and himself. This was love of one’s neighbor through shared civic responsibility, what the Lutherans still call “faith begetting charity.”

How little has changed in 500 years. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, a born-and-baptized daughter of an East German Lutheran pastor, clearly believes the age-old moral virtues and remedies are the best medicine for the euro crisis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 15, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Greece, which is in its fifth year of recession, such suicides have sparked violent clashes between police and those opposing austerity who have held the victims up as martyrs. In Italy, widows of businessmen who have committed suicide — such as builder Giuseppe Campaniello, who set himself on fire outside a government tax office in Bologna on March 28 after his company collapsed — have held demonstrations. And in Ireland, where citizens are jumping off quays in Dublin, Cork and Limerick in alarming numbers, the mobile telephone company Vodaphone volunteered to give up the stadium advertising space it bought at soccer and hurling games for a suicide prevention campaign.

So many people have been killing themselves and leaving behind notes citing financial hardship that European media outlets have a special name for them: “economic suicides.” Surveys are also showing increasing signs of mental stress: a jump in the use of antidepressants and illicit drugs, a rise in depression and anxiety among workers worried about salary cuts or being laid off, and an increase in the use of sick leave due to psychological problems.

“People are more and more uncertain about their future, which is leading to a sharp rise in mental health problems,” said Maria Nyman, director of Brussels-based Mental Health Europe, a multinational coalition of mental health organizations and educational institutions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychologyStressSuicide* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

1 Comments
Posted August 15, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....for this very practical woman there is also a practical reason to start contingency planning for a break-up: it is looking ever more likely. Greece is buckling (see article). Much of southern Europe is also in pain, while the northern creditor countries are becoming ever less forgiving: in a recent poll a narrow majority of Germans favoured bringing back the Deutschmark. A chaotic disintegration would be a calamity. Even as Mrs Merkel struggles to find a solution, her aides are surely also sensibly drawing up a plan to prepare for the worst.

This week our briefing imagines what such a “Merkel memorandum” might say (see article). It takes a German point of view, but its logic would apply to the other creditor countries. Its conclusions are stark—not least in terms of which euro member it makes sense to keep or drop. But the main message is one of urgency. For the moment, breaking up the euro would be more expensive than trying to hold it together. But if Europe just keeps on arguing, that calculation will change....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyGreece

1 Comments
Posted August 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over at Capital Economics they’re spotlighting Aug. 9, 2007 as the “the unofficial onset of the global credit crunch” making tomorrow the fifth anniversary of, well, the beginning of the end of the uber-loose financial conditions that begat the U.S. housing boom, bust, financial crisis, bailout-a-palooza, deep recession and — if you believe Reinhart and Rogoff — the economic sluggishness we’re still contending with.

Of course, it’s a little bit squishy declaring any one moment the “start” of something. Some would argue that the birth of the securitization market way back in the 1980s might have been the true start of what eventually became the U.S. housing morass. Still, it’s instructive to remember what was going on in early August 2007, which was when the cracks in the foundation of global finance really started to get noticeable and the themes that have come to define the market for the last half-decade started to emerge.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted August 9, 2012 at 8:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The greatest economic catastrophe of the postwar world began five years ago today. Its consequences are still with us.

On this day in 2007 BNP Paribas, the French bank, halted withdrawals from three investment funds linked to the US subprime mortgage market. Risky financial products had spread a contagion of bad debts through the banking system. The interbank lending market froze because banks feared that they would not get their money back. The consequences included the first run on a British bank in more than a century (Northern Rock), the biggest corporate failure in American history (Lehman Brothers), and a huge recession.

With hindsight, this was not merely a crisis but a catastrophe that still overshadows the global economy. The crash was a far-reaching problem of solvency. It was not simply a banking crisis, but a debt crisis. It has not simply sunk financial institutions, but submerged governments too. Five years on, there are three questions. How did it happen? When will it end? What, if anything, can we do about it?

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

0 Comments
Posted August 9, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Madrid--The newest Apple store in Spain, like its counterparts in other parts of the world, is designed to draw you in. Stone floors, glass doors, and rows of blond wood tables stocked with scores of gleaming iPhones, iPads and MacBooks as far as the eye can see.

On a recent weekday afternoon, the cavernous showroom was missing only one thing: customers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Europe--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted August 3, 2012 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The anger within the three parties of the ruling coalition is understandable. These are the parties of the German taxpayer, after all, and ever since the sovereign debt crisis began they have been reciting the mantra that the eurozone is not and will not become a “transfer union”; that there will be no mutualisation of debt; that Mediterranean sloth and tax evasion will not be rewarded by payments from hardworking, honest Nordic Germany.

If this sounds racist, it’s because the debate is tinged on all sides by nationalist stereotypes. The German middle class feels it has been had and the country is digesting Moody’s downgrading of its credit rating. “Is this what we get for saving the Greeks?” asks the tabloid Bild. Good question....

It is impossible to explain to a German who has had her retirement age upped to 67, or an unemployed German whose benefits have been cut to balance the budget, why billions of euros should go south to support governments that didn’t have the guts to slash social spending or who let their citizens retire to the beach at 55.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010GermanyGreeceItalyPortugalSpain

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Posted July 31, 2012 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mario Draghi has promised the moon. The European Central Bank’s council had better deliver on his pledge this week. If it does not, the crisis will surely escalate out of control in August or soon after.

We are beyond the point where a quarter point rate cut will achieve anything. Nor will it help to launch a fresh round of "temporary and limited" bond purchases - to use the self-defeating language that Mr Draghi is forced to utter.

The only issue that matters at this late stage is whether Germany is willing to let the ECB step up to its responsibility as a global central bank after two years of ideological posturing and take all risk of sovereign default in Spain and Italy off the table - which it can do easily enough once it stops playing politics and obeys the “financial stability” clause (Article 127) of the Lisbon Treaty.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted July 30, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The euro has completely broken down as a workable system and faces collapse with “incalculable economic losses and human suffering” unless there is a drastic change of course, according to a group of leading economists.

Europe is “sleepwalking towards disaster”, according to the 17 experts, who warned that over the past few weeks “the situation in the debtor countries has deteriorated dramatically”.

“The sense of a neverending crisis, with one domino falling after another, must be reversed. The last domino, Spain, is days away from a liquidity crisis,” said the economists. They include two members of Germany’s Council of Economic Experts and leading euro specialists at the London of School of Economics, all euro supporters.

“This dramatic situation is the result of a eurozone system which, as currently constructed, is thoroughly broken. The cause is a systemic failure. It is the responsibility of all European nations that were parties to its flawed design, construction and implementation to contribute to a solution. Absent this collective response, the euro will disintegrate,” they added in a co-signed report for the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted July 25, 2012 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Spain is heading for a general bailout. It may not happen immediately, but that is what the figures suggest - that sometime in the autumn, maybe sooner, the country will need a full-blown rescue.

It is fiercely denied, of course. The Spanish Economy Minister, Luis de Guindos, said "Spain is a solvent country, there will be no bailout... I believe that Spain is a competitive country. We have a trade surplus with the eurozone, we have a very competitive tourism sector".

Then there are the facts on the ground. The bailout of the Spanish banks - sealed last Friday - lacks conviction. House prices are still falling. Indeed in the second quarter they were declining at the fastest rate since the start of the crisis. The real estate bubble, stoked by the eurozone's low interest rates, continues to take its toll.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

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Posted July 24, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greece has fallen behind with its budget cuts and is asking lenders for more time to meet the conditions of the 130 billion euro aid package. But that would require fresh help of up to 50 billion euros, SPIEGEL has learned. Neither Berlin nor the IMF are prepared to make that money available.

Germany and other important international creditors are not prepared to extend further loans to Greece beyond what has already been agreed, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday. In addition, SPIEGEL has learned that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) too has signalled it won't take part in any additional financing for Greece.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Greece

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Posted July 23, 2012 at 6:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Angela Merkel took a tough stance ahead of the EU summit, insisting she would not make concessions. But Italy and Spain broke the will of the iron chancellor by out-negotiating her in the early hours of Friday morning. Germany caved in to demands for less stringent bailouts and direct aid to banks.

Mario Monti was so relieved that he even spoke about football. He is proud and happy that the Italian national team defeated Germany in the semi-finals of the European Football Championship, the Italian prime minister said in the early hours of Friday morning after the marathon night of European Union summit meetings. Given that Monti isn't much of a soccer fan, Italian journalists saw his comments as a veritable emotional outburst.

With good reason. Monti emerged from the late-night negotiations as a clear victor, having broken Chancellor Angela Merkel's resistance just as Italian striker Mario Balotelli cracked the German defense on the pitch in Warsaw earlier in the evening. In 15 hours of negotiations in Brussels, Monti together with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy secured easier access to the permanent euro-zone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM)....

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted June 29, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ambitious plans to be put before this week's EU summit – yes indeed, yet another crisis summit – to turn the eurozone into something much closer to a fiscal union make for easy analysis. On almost any level you care to take, they won't work.
Here's the plan. In return for debt pooling, Brussels would be given far reaching powers to rewrite national budgets for member states that breach debt and deficit rules.
Under the previously agreed fiscal compact, Brussels already has the powers to vet budgets before they are submitted to national parliaments, but this goes much further, allowing the EU in effect to over-rule national governments and impose its own diktats on member states....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted June 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

European authorities have unveiled their vision for the future of monetary union.

It includes the creation of a European treasury, which would have powers over national budgets.

The document, released ahead of Thursday's EU summit, says such fiscal union could lead to common debt being issued by eurozone countries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

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Posted June 26, 2012 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Investment experts at Deutsche Bank now feel that a collapse of the common currency is "a very likely scenario." German companies are preparing themselves for the possibility that their business contacts in Madrid and Barcelona could soon be paying with pesetas again. And in Italy, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is thinking of running a new election campaign, possibly this year, on a return-to-the-lira platform.

Nothing seems impossible anymore, not even a scenario in which all members of the currency zone dust off their old coins and bills -- bidding farewell to the euro, and instead welcoming back the guilder, deutsche mark and drachma.

It would be a dream for nationalist politicians, and a nightmare for the economy. Everything that has grown together in two decades of euro history would have to be painstakingly torn apart. Millions of contracts, business relationships and partnerships would have to be reassessed, while thousands of companies would need protection from bankruptcy. All of Europe would plunge into a deep recession

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010

3 Comments
Posted June 25, 2012 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As financial markets slide toward disaster, scarcely pausing to celebrate the “success” of the Greek election or the deal to recapitalize Spanish banks, the euro project is finally revealing its fatal flaw. One country poses an existential threat to Europe – and it is not Greece, Italy or Spain. Every serious proposal to resolve the euro crisis since 2009 – haircuts for bank bondholders, more realistic fiscal consolidation targets, jointly guaranteed eurobonds, a pan-European bailout fund, quantitative easing by the European Central Bank – has been vetoed by Germany, and this pattern looks likely to be repeated next week.

Nobody should be surprised that Germany has become the greatest threat to Europe. After all, this has happened twice before since 1914. To state this unmentionable fact is not to impugn Germans with original sin, but merely to note Germany’s unusual geopolitical situation....

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

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Posted June 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Group of 20 leaders focused their response to Europe’s financial crisis on stabilizing the region’s banks, raising pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to expand rescue measures as contagion engulfed Spain.

As U.S. President Barack Obama called after-dinner talks with euro-area leaders at the G-20 summit in Mexico, the Treasury department’s top international negotiator, Lael Brainard, said Europe is making an effort to “break the feedback loop” between banks and government debt, the link that is worsening Spain’s woes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

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Posted June 19, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After spending yesterday in Berlin, I can tell you the German government is mightily fed up with all this speculation - and fed up with getting blamed for everything bad happening in the global economy (last week's cover of the Economist, for example).

I interviewed the Deputy Finance Minister - Secretary of State Steffen Kampeter - after the German chancellor's strident speech to the Reichstag.

He made clear that on one major point - eurobonds - the speculation about what Germany might be willing to accept in time for the summit was simply wrong.

Read it all (emphasis hers).

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

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Posted June 17, 2012 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The mainstream parties "looted Greece, and afterward they took the Greek flag and they offered it to Angela Merkel," the German chancellor, Mr. [Alexis] Tsipras said in a campaign rally in Athens Thursday.

Though Syriza's message has caught on, not all of the disaffected are ready to embrace the party. Anna Konstantoulaki, a third-year Spanish-literature student at the University of Athens, voted in May for a tiny party. She doesn't know what to do now. She is upset with mainstream parties but not sure Mr. Tsipras is capable of running the country.

"I am very confused," she says. "The last few days, I can't stop thinking about what is going to happen." She adds: "I'm scared, actually."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 The Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Greece

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Posted June 16, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The hundreds of billions of dollars that banks, insurance companies and other international investors poured into this country after the advent of the euro financed roads and houses, raised wages and helped Constantine Choutlas sustain a 1,000-person construction firm with projects such as building the athletes’ village for the 2004 Olympics.

What it did not do was build a competitive economy, and when the rest of the world woke up to that fact and the money rushed away, so did Choutlas’s business.

“You could see it wouldn’t last. The country was just borrowing money,” Choutlas, whose Proodeftiki Technical has been scaled back to a handful of employees, said as he jabbed a finger in the air for emphasis. “Nobody, nobody, nobody, said lets take a look at where we are going.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGreece

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Posted June 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For one thing, such a bailout is illegal under the Maastricht Treaty, which governs the euro zone. Because the treaty is law in each member state, a bailout would be rejected by Germany’s Constitutional Court.

Moreover, a bailout doesn’t make economic sense, and would likely make the situation worse. Such schemes violate the liability principle, one of the constituting principles of a market economy, which holds that it is the creditors’ responsibility to choose their debtors. If debtors cannot repay, creditors should bear the losses.

If we give up the liability principle, the European market economy will lose its most important allocative virtue: the careful selection of investment opportunities by creditors. We would then waste part of the capital generated by the arduous savings of earlier generations. I am surprised that the president of the world’s most successful capitalist nation would overlook this.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Europe--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Germany

1 Comments
Posted June 14, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...there are too many unanswered questions. How much capital will actually be provided? Which banks will need to be recapitalized? How will the process be managed? The answers won't be known until two independent valuation experts have reported at the end of June. The International Monetary Fund assessment estimates €37 billion was needed to ensure all banks had a 7% core Tier 1 ratio on a phased-in Basel III basis. But the market will probably demand at least 9% on a fully loaded Basel III basis after substantial new write-downs, suggesting a number much closer to the full €100 billion.

One key unknown is where the bailout money will come from. Will it be from the old euro-zone bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, or the new European Stabilization Mechanism, due to come into existence in July? If it comes from the ESM, existing government bondholders will be subordinated—no small concern given €100 billion is more than 10% of Spanish government debt outstanding. That could affect the willingness of bond markets to keep funding the government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

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Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Europe is to offer Spain a bailout package of up to €100 billion ($125 billion) to help rescue the country’s banks and keep the 17-country eurozone from breaking apart.

After months of fierce denials, Spain admitted it would tap the fund as it moved faster than expected to stem the economic crisis that has ravaged Europe for two years.

Spain becomes the fourth - and largest - European economy to ask for help and its admission of help comes after months of market concern about its ability to pay its way. In recent weeks investors have demanded higher and higher costs to lend to Spain, and it became clear it would be just too expensive for the country to borrow the money necessary for a bank rescue from the markets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankHousing/Real Estate MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Foreign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEurope--European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010Spain

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Posted June 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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