by ilene - May 6th, 2011 2:34 pm
Mish is on fire today with excellent posts. Here, Mish reports on the horrifying story of what the CIA did in kidnapping the wrong man, a German citizen Khalid El-Masri, and the CIA’s subsequent torture and abuse of him. Our court system failed too, citing "national security" grounds to throw out Khalid El-Masri’s case against the CIA. (Sounds like a specious excuse to me as sensitive information wouldn’t have to be made public.) – Ilene
Courtesy of Mish
I do not agree with using torture, nor do I believe the end justifies the means. The problem with both is that others can act the same way.
If the US can torture to extract vital information, then why can’t Iran and every other country on the planet?
It is pure hypocrisy to think that the US has a monopoly on "justified torture". Indeed, there is no such thing as "justified torture".
This has been my position forever. I bring it up because of a post Barry Ritholtz made yesterday stipulating “Torture didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information”
“Torture [at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp] didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information. Everyone [at the CIA] was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.” – Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002
“The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003. It took years of collection and analysis from many different sources to develop the case that enabled us to identify this compound, and reach a judgment that Bin Laden was likely to be living there.” – Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times — repeatedly misled interrogators about the courier’s identity. …
Barry Ritholtz went on to say "Thinking that torture is wrong is not a liberal or conservative value — it is an American value."
I sure wish Barry was correct. Sadly he is not, at least right now. Both president Bush and president Obama have condoned torture.
Moreover, President Obama had a campaign pledge to shut Guantanamo Bay. Sadly, I report Guantanamo Bay is still in operation. On March 8, 2011, the Irish Times noted Guantánamo trials freeze lifted
by Phil Davis - December 7th, 2010 8:29 am
Thank you Republicans!
The party of fiscal responsibility has strong-armed the President and what little is left on the Democrats in Congress to extend the Bush Tax cuts for another two years at a cost of "just" $830Bn to the little people who still have to pay taxes. They accomplished this by allowing the Democrats to extend $56Bn of additional unemployment relief to the 2M families who were cut off on Friday and were about to go their first week without checks with just 17 shopping days left until Christmas. Of course, the Democrats don’t just bend, they BREAK and the Republicans also got a 30% reduction in the estate taxes that are projected to cost an additional $66Bn to the people who don’t have $5M estates. Merry Christmas, rich folks – Lloyd bless us, everyone!
"But Phil," you may ask "who actually does pay taxes?" When your deficit is about as high as your net collections – the answer is: No one really – or no anyone who matters, anyway. As I’ve often told you, our Corporate Overlords actually pay just 2.4% of our GDP in taxes, just $138Bn last year which was less than the $6Tn in bailouts they collected by a factor of 43 – no wonder they are doing so well! As you can see from the chart, Estate and Excise taxes are barely a point on the graph and Individual income taxes are barely 6% while Employment Taxes have jumped from 1.5% of GDP in 1950 to 7.5% today – that’s a 400% increase but don’t worry, it only affects your first $106,800 in income – after that, ZERO! That way, if you earn $1M, the jump in payroll taxes from $1,250 to $6,250 is just 0.5% of your income vs the 5% increase borne by a person earning $100,000 or less.
Imagine if all 140M US workers were given an even $6,000 break ($840Bn divided by 140M) on their take-home pay by just eliminating those SS deductions (it’s not like they’ll ever get that money back anyway)? Why everyone would immediately be taking home $500 more per month. Of course we know that the poor people would only "waste" it on food, shelter and clothing so our wise government has guided the bailout to the places it will do the most good, with $670Bn going to the top 5% and $160Bn…
by ilene - December 5th, 2010 1:50 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
There have been rumors lately that Germany has raised the possibility that they might leave the Euro. But like most of the talk coming out of Berlin in recent months it’s just that – talk. After all, why in the world would Germany ever want to leave this currency union? Although inherently flawed, there is always a great winner in single currency systems. In this case it is undoubtedly Germany. They have their lowest unemployment rate in 18 years, a booming economy, zero inflation, a monopoly on the export market in Europe and total control over the ECB.
Although their enviable position in the Eurozone (as the primary trade surplus nation) is highly favorable there are other reasons for Germany to fight for the Euro’s survival. They have a vested interested in making sure that the periphery nations do not default on debt that is held largely by German bankers. In addition, the Euro project is largely a creature of the German political regime. As I’ve frequently mentioned there is simply too much political will invested in the Euro thus far to allow it to unravel.
Those are the primary three reasons why Germany will not abandon the Euro. They have benefited enormously at the expense of the periphery nations. Germany will talk tough, but do everything in their power to ensure that this German prosperity continues. The biggest risk to the Euro and Germany is that the periphery nations begin to revolt against their German bankers & their ECB. Thus far the Germans have played their cards well. They have convinced the periphery nations that austerity is good for them and that Europe is here to help them.
Make no mistake. Germany will do everything in its power to keep the poor on their knees. After all, in a single currency system there must always be a winner and loser. Germany knows they are the winner and they will do everything they can to ensure the losers never realize this.
by ilene - December 3rd, 2010 2:09 pm
Mike wrote to me this morning,
"Whoa! Have you seen this article? Sovereign liquidity, what lies beneath
"Am I misreading this or has Trichet pulled out the bazooka? My question: High ranking US officials from the Treasury flew to Spain yesterday. Do you or Phil think the Fed is on a euro bond spending spree to prevent a crash (because the Germans won’t support EU--QE?) Never a dull moment, Mike"
Here’s a perfect end to a week in which the ECB has apparently bashed peripheral bond markets into submission. Apparently.
Watch those bid-offer spreads.
We couldn’t quite believe this chart of the bid-offer spread on ten-year Spanish government bonds, made by Divyang Shah of IFR Markets, when we saw it. But it checks out, and is worrying (click to enlarge):
(Still not at the May 2010/Greek crisis nadir… yet.)
by ilene - November 21st, 2010 11:14 pm
Mish writes about how Irish Citizens Sold Down the River in "Firepower of Stupidity" - Ilene
Courtesy of Mish
Today the Irish Government sold its citizens into debt slavery by agreeing to guarantee stupid loans made by German, British, and US banks. Those loans fueled one of the biggest property bubbles in the world. Ireland has since crashed.
Ireland Agree To Bailout
Please consider Ireland Seeks Bailout as ‘Outsized’ Problem Overwhelms Nation
Ireland applied for a bailout to help fund itself and save its banks, becoming the second euro member to seek a rescue from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said he expects talks on the package to be completed in the “next few weeks.” Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said the loan will be less than 100 billion euros ($137 billion), though he refused to give any further details at a press conference in Dublin today.
“A small sovereign like Ireland faced with an outsized problem that we have in our banking sector, cannot on its own address all those problems,” Lenihan said. Ireland may not draw down on the entire loan, he said.
While Ireland may not fully use any cash it gets from the EU and IMF, Lenihan said the size of the package “is important to demonstrate” the “firepower that stands behind the banking system.”
The Irish turmoil has also reopened tensions about the governance of the euro region after German Chancellor Angela Merkel last month called for bondholders to foot more of the bill of European bailouts. Her stance, criticized European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, sparked a bond market selloff.
Bondholders Should Foot Entire Bill
Trichet is pissed about common sense statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel about who should foot the bill. Actually, Merkel did not go far enough. When you make stupid loans you pay the price. Or at least you should.
But no! Trichet as well as the Irish Prime Minister seem to think that Irish taxpayers should bail out the Irish banks (which is in reality a bailout of German, and UK banks that made piss poor loans to Ireland).
Why the average Irish citizen should have to bail out foreign bondholders is beyond me, but I do note that the same happened in the US with taxpayers footing an enormous bill for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and…
Hooray, ECB Saves Eurozone 2nd Time; Allied Irish Bonds Bid at 45% of Face Value, Anglo Irish SubDebt has 99.99% Default Odds;Irish Citizens “Namatized”
by ilene - November 19th, 2010 6:49 am
Hooray, ECB Saves Eurozone 2nd Time; Allied Irish Bonds Bid at 45% of Face Value, Anglo Irish SubDebt has 99.99% Default Odds;Irish Citizens "Namatized"
Courtesy of Mish
Market participants are giddy today on the great news that Ireland will go deeper in debt in a foolish attempt to bail out the German and UK bondholders who were in turn foolish enough to lend ridiculous amounts of money to Irish banks in various real estate schemes.
The Irish government was of course foolish enough to guarantee all of this foolishness which means that Irish citizens many of whom were sucked into buying property at foolish prices are now on the hook to bail out the bondholders, rubbing salt into the wounds of Irish taxpayers, not all of whom were foolish enough to freely participate in the general foolishness.
Here is a short video from the Wall Street Journal that explains why the bailout will not work.
Ireland Nears Bailout
Now let’s consider details of this foolishness in greater detail, starting with Crude Oil Rises From Four-Week Low as Ireland Nears Bailout
Crude oil increased from a four-week low as Ireland moved closer to a European Union-led financial bailout, strengthening the euro and boosting commodities.
Irish Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan said in an interview with state broadcaster RTE today he expects the country to ask the EU and the International Monetary Fund for “tens of billions” of euros to rescue its banks.
“If these talks were to result in a substantial contingency capital funding” pool that didn’t need to be drawn down, that “would be a very desirable outcome,” Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said in the Irish parliament in Dublin today. He said no agreement has yet been reached.
Fairy Tale Nonsense
Check out that fairy tale silliness from Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, then answer this question: What are the odds that a "substantial contingency capital funding” would not be drawn down?
If you answered zero percent you are a winner, which makes the Irish taxpayer a loser.
Allied Irish Bonds Have Face Value Bid of 45 Percent
Bloomberg reports Allied Irish Bonds Fall on Concern IMF ‘Bad Guy’ to Impose Loss.
Allied Irish Banks Plc’s 12.5 percent subordinated bonds due 2019 were quoted at a bid price of about 45 percent of face value, according to Jefferies International in London, down
by ilene - November 19th, 2010 12:42 am
Courtesy of Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism
In negotiations, understanding where you have leverage relative to your counterpart is key. Ireland appears to be engaged in a quiet staredown with the EU, evidently with the objective of securing a rescue of its banks rather than its government.
In case you managed to miss it, Ireland is in the midst of a long running budgetary crisis that has reached an acute phase. The implosion of a real estate bubble has left the country with banks up to the gills in bad loans. The government set up a “bad bank” entity, and the commitments per taxpayer, which were over 25,000 euros per taxpayer as of July, just keep rising. Deep budget cuts to meet eurozone fiscal deficit targets have put the economy in freefall, with nominal GDP falling nearly 20% and unemployment at 13%.
The immediate trigger for panic over Ireland was Merkel’s announcement that bondholders would have to take their lumps in any Eurobailouts. That immediately put Irish and other periphery country bonds under pressure. And although Merkel was beaten a bit back into line (all bondholders will supposedly be protected through 2013), the damage was done. As Richard Smith noted two weeks ago:
Since the Irish budget is fully funded for a few more months (ex any revenue surprises, or God forbid, further bank loan writedowns), they can in principle trundle along like this until their date with destiny in Q2 2011, when they have to raise funds again. But somehow it’s hard to believe that that is going to be the way things go. We will see if the budget gets thrown out or not; or the government. It will be close, on either count. Either eventuality brings forward the timetable for the Irish crisis proper, but it’s coming, one way or the other…
The folk close to the action think
Could The Financial Crisis Erupting In Ireland, Portugal, Greece And Spain Lead To The End Of The Euro And The Break Up Of The European Union?
by ilene - November 18th, 2010 1:39 am
Could The Financial Crisis Erupting In Ireland, Portugal, Greece And Spain Lead To The End Of The Euro And The Break Up Of The European Union?
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse
The Irish banking system is melting down right in front of our eyes. Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain are all drowning in debt. It is becoming extremely expensive for all of those nations to issue new debt. Officials all over Europe are begging Ireland to accept a bailout. Portugal has already indicated that they will probably be next in line. Most economists are now acknowledging that without a new round of bailouts the dominoes could start to fall and we could see a wave of debt defaults by European governments. All of this is pushing the monetary union in Europe to its limits. In fact, some of Europe’s top politicians are now publicly warning that this crisis may not only mean the end of the euro, but also the end of the European Union itself.
Yes, things really are that serious in Europe right now. In order for the euro and the European Union to hold together, two things have got to happen. Number one, Germany and the other European nations that are in good financial condition have got to agree to keep bailing out nations such as Ireland, Portugal and Greece that are complete economic basket cases. Number two, the European nations receiving these bailouts have got to convince their citizens to comply with the very harsh austerity measures being imposed upon them by the EU and the IMF.
Those two things should not be taken for granted. In Germany, many taxpayers are already sick and tired of pouring hundreds of billions of euros into a black hole. The truth is that the Germans are not going to accept carrying weak sisters like Greece and Portugal on their backs indefinitely.
In addition, we have already seen the kinds of riots that have erupted in Greece over the austerity measures being implemented there. If there is an overwhelming backlash against austerity in some parts of Europe will some nations actually attempt to leave the EU?
Right now the focus is on Ireland. The Irish banking system is a basket case at the moment and the Irish government is drowning in red ink. European Union officials are urging Ireland to request a bailout, but so far…
by ilene - November 13th, 2010 1:02 pm
Tidal forces are pulling the European Union apart. On one end, European governments have taken on debt and liabilities—both public and private—which they cannot possibly meet, rendering many of the smaller European states insolvent. On the other end, Europe is unwilling to carry out sovereign default and restructuring of debt of any one of its member nations. So as Europe gets closer and closer to the Global Depression, we are seeing as these two opposing forces—insurmountable debt vs. unwillingness to default and restructure—pull the continent apart as surely and relentlessly as tidal forces. — Gonzalo Lira
Courtesy of Gonzalo Lira
In July of 1994, a comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter—it was quite a sight.
According to astronomers, Shoemaker-Levy was a comet that was captured by Jupiter’s gravity twenty or thirty years before it was discovered. As the comet circled Jupiter, at one point it passed the Roche limit—the line around a large mass where its gravity will rip apart a smaller mass by way of tidal forces.
after Jupiter’s tidal forces
ripped it apart.
By the time Shoemaker-Levy crashed into Jupiter, tidal forces had had their way with the comet. As the picture shows, it was no longer a single comet—it was a string of small lumps of rock and ice
Tidal forces are pulling the European Union apart.
On one end, European governments have taken on debt and liabilities—both public and private—which they cannot possibly meet. These debts and liabilities are near-term enough that there is only one way to characterize many of the smaller European states: They are insolvent.
On the other end, Europe is unwilling to carry out sovereign default of any one of its member nations. Indeed, there is a sense that—constant drumbeat of the Germans aside—Brussels is unwilling to evencontemplate the very notion of sovereign default and debt restructuring. Brussels and the European Central Bank believes in bailouts, not default, because they believe that the entire European project rests on the non-default status of all the EU members. They believe that all EU debt is backed by the entire EU, no matter how irresponsible the EU country that issued the EU debt.
by ilene - October 25th, 2010 1:57 am
Courtesy of Mish
At long last a major player is finally pointing a the currency manipulation finger where it needs to be placed, the US.
Please consider Germany Says Fed Is Headed ‘Wrong Way’ With Monetary Easing
The Federal Reserve’s push toward easier monetary policy is the “wrong way” to stimulate growth and may amount to a manipulation of the dollar, German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said.
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke yesterday gave Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Gyeongju, South Korea an overview of the U.S. central bank’s efforts to jumpstart the world’s largest economy. His strategy, which investors expect will soon include greater asset purchases, drew criticism at the talks, said Bruederle.
“It’s the wrong way to try to prevent or solve problems by adding more liquidity,” Bruederle told reporters yesterday, saying that emerging-market officials were among the critics. Bruederle, a member of the Free Democratic Party, the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, stepped in for hospitalized Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble at the meeting.
“Excessive, permanent money creation in my opinion is an indirect manipulation of an exchange rate,” Bruederle said. The minister has taken a pro-market stance in his first year in office, criticizing state intervention in cases such as providing aid for General Motors Co.’s German Opel unit.
The Big Point
I have been saying for years that the US was every bit the currency manipulator we accuse China of being. My stance is that interest rate policy decisions in and of themselves are manipulative.
Moreover, we have since gone one step further with futile unwarranted rounds of quantitative easing baked into the cake.
Thankfully, the German economic minister is willing to say what anyone with an ounce of common sense has known for a long time: “Excessive, permanent money creation in my opinion is an indirect manipulation of an exchange rate.”
Rainer Bruederle is "Bundesminister für Wirtschaft und Technologie", "Federal Minister for Economy and Technology", not Finance Minister. He was filling in for hospitalized Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble at the meeting.