Archive for Economy

economic crisis in Russia.

The Kremlin’s rule is beginning to look much shakier than at any time since Vladimir Putin came to power, after a series of protests in cities across its vast landmass this weekend by Russians disgruntled about the economy. And as the country starts to feel the effects of the global credit crunch, there are also signs of a growing rift between Prime Minister Putin, and his hand-picked successor as President, Dmitry Medvedev.

In Vladivostok, 2,000 protesters took to the streets, with some carrying banners reading “Kremlin, we are against you”, and other people chanting directly for the removal of Mr Putin. The Pacific port city, seven time zones away from Moscow, has become a focal point for dissent after riot police broke up a march last year over car imports and detained 100 people. Saturday’s demonstration, under the watchful eye of the police, passed off peacefully.

Nearly every major city had a street rally, and though most were low key, the unusual scale of dissatisfaction is likely to worry the authorities. The Russian economy has been hit hard by falling oil prices, many oligarchs have seen billions of pounds wiped off the value of their shares, and ordinary Russians are feeling the pinch as factories struggle to stay afloat and companies lay off employees.

In Moscow, a motley band of communists, anarchists and liberals gathered at several points across the city to protest against Kremlin rule. At one spot, a dozen protesters taped over their mouths with white tape, held up white placards with no slogans, and handed blank white flyers to passers-by. Bemused by such a conceptual approach to protest, the police rounded them up and arrested them anyway, and the organiser got five days in prison.

Mr Putin has made several speeches blaming the economic chaos on America, and says he expects things to improve by the end of the year. State-controlled television is playing down the crisis, and most newspapers are also toeing the Kremlin line, but the internet is a worrying medium for those in charge, and offers a forum for dissenters to exchange ideas. Tiger, an acronym for The Society for Proactive Russian Citizens, is an online community of anti-government activists based across Russia’s 11 time zones. Participants use the online forum to discuss how best to oppose the government. Those involved estimate that about 10,000 people have signed up since last autumn.

“We’re waiting for warmer weather because it’s simply difficult to stay outside for long when it’s minus 20,” said Maria Baranova, a 27-year-old resident of Vladivostok active in the Tiger movement. “But in the spring we plan to mount protests every weekend. Before I got involved I never realised how many people are unhappy. I can’t believe that there are so many people living near me who are politically aware and saying smart things.”

While there are signs that the ripple of anger could turn into a tidal wave, few analysts expect street protests to have any chance of bringing down the government. “There will be more unrest, but it will be localised,” says Dmitry Oreshkin, a political analyst in Moscow. “There is not the organisational structure in place for anything more.”

But, says Mr Oreshkin, the business and political elite, who largely accepted the trade-off of political freedoms for the economic prosperity of the past few years, is becoming disillusioned. “Two or three years ago, we could talk about the ‘Putin Consensus’ among the elites. Now that consensus has broken down. The elites are better informed than the rest of the population, have more to lose, and understand just how bad things are.”

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46 of 50 states could file bankruptcy in 2009-2010

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There is a high chance a majority of the States within the United States of America could file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. There is currently 46 states with high budget deficits, Arizona being one of them.

In fact, Jan Brewer, the newly appointed Governor of Arizona has a major crisis on her hands, one that Arizona and national media isn’t covering. The alarming news is the State of Arizona has 90 to 120 days before they completely run out of money. After that, all bills and tax refunds owed to the citizens will go unpaid.

Before Janet Napolitano left for her new Homeland secretary position, she had a stand-off with Arizona Treasurer Dean Martin. The AZ Treasurer forewarned Napolitano about Arizona’s financial crisis, but she refused to heed his words.

With neighboring California on the verge of bankruptcy this year, many States will follow in their steps.

Many States are already scurrying to cut unwanted costs, cut State-funded programs, raise taxes, not issue tax refunds to their citizens, and borrow money just to survive in 2009. Unfortunately, many banks — the same banks the Fed bailed out — are refusing to loan money to the States and their Treasury agencies.

The article, State Budget Troubles Worsen, at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website is an excellent piece to read. It shows where each State currently stands in these challening economic times, and you see 46 of the 50 States are clearly in the financial red.

It’s very possible you’ll see the end of the United States as we know it. If the Fed doesn’t bailout the States when their cash dries up and the banks don’t loan them money, then our States will be left in financial ruin. This would be a tragic and unprecedented event never experienced in the United States.

No State has ever filed bankruptcy, but it could be coming to a State near you this year.

We are on the brink of something far worse than the Great Depression.

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“British jobs for british worker”.

Legions of cops were called in to guard chanting, placard-waving strikers as fury spread nationwide over the employment of foreign contractors to build a giant UK oil plant.

Protests began as the first of 400 Italian workers arrived to begin work on a £200million extension at the Lindsey Oil Refinery near Immingham, Lincs. Around 1,000 demonstrators gathered in front of a police cordon at the plant to demand jobs for British workers on the site.

Within hours they were backed by protesters staging sympathy walkouts at refineries, power stations and oil and gas plants from Scotland to the South coast.

PM Gordon Brown was facing the brunt of the backlash after pledging “British jobs for British workers” in a keynote speech 18 months ago. And Environment Secretary Hilary Benn appeared to support the protests, saying workers were “entitled to an answer”.

The crisis comes with Britain in the grip of the credit crunch. Ministers fear the BNP is using the row to capitalise on its racist message.

 BNP chairman Nick Griffin’s business partner is a convicted Italian terrorist called Roberto Fiore, who came to London to escape arrest for his involvement in an Italian Nazi group that blew up Bologna railway station in 1980, injuring over 200 and murdering a further 85 people. Here we see this terrorist scumbag (in the blue sweater) back in Italy being regaled with Nazi salutes by braindead football hooligans.

After he emigrated to London Roberto Fiore became close friends and shared a flat with Nick Griffin, who was then leader of the National Front and is now chairman of the BNP. Nick Griffin and Roberto Fiore set-up another weirdo political sect called the International Third Position, and, despite NF and BNP “opposition” to immigrants coming to the UK and taking British jobs and housing, with typical hypocrisy, Nick Griffin and Roberto Fiore made millions running an agency called “Easy London” (Londra Facile) that finds jobs and housing for immigrants arriving in Britain!

BNP supporters who’ve been suckered into falling for Nick Griffin’s constant appeals for extra donations may like to know that Roberto Fiore also runs a language school in London called CL English Language, with Nick Griffin’s accountant father Edgar Griffin (who is also a BNP activist) and the BNP chairman’s mother Jean Griffin running the company finances. The BNP claims it isn’t Fascist, racist, Nazi or violent – BNP leaders just happen to make money organising immigration into Britain, and BNP leaders just happen to be close friends with Nazi terrorists. Other convicted terrorists include BNP officials Tony Lecomber, Lambertus Nieuwhof and Robert Cottage.

The BNP attitude to “democracy” is equally hypocritical – as the BNP only started supporting democracy after the introduction Proportional Representation – a system which sets out to give minority parties a small slice of political power, but which can by accident give small parties the ability to swing “hung” parliaments, so exercising an influence on mainstream politics out of all proportion to their actual level of public support. Proportional Representation is used in ISRAEL and ITALY – countries which have both (surprise surprise) also suffered from decades of violent extremism.

The alleged BNP love affair with democracy and free speech etc is all SPIN, as Section 3 of the BNP Constitution (“Party Leadership”) states that the “National Chairman shall have ultimate and final authority upon any decision” – in other words when push comes to shove, the BNP Führer rules!

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Turkish PM cutted off by Davos censorship in Gaza row

Recep Tayyip Erdogan clashed with Shimon Peres, whose voice had risen as he made an impassioned defence of Israel’s actions, jabbing his finger.

Mr Erdogan said Mr Peres had spoken so loudly to conceal his “guilt”.

He accused the moderator of not allowing him to speak and said he did not think he would return to Davos.

The Turkish PM stressed later that he had left the debate not because of his disagreements with Mr Peres but because he had been given much less time to speak than the Israeli leader.

Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries to have dealings with Israel, but relations have been under strain since the Islamist-rooted AK Party was elected to power in 2002.

Late on Thursday, a WEF official said that Mr Peres and Mr Erdogan had spoken by mobile telephone, and both men now considered the matter closed.

Dinner time

In the debate, Mr Erdogan was cut off as he attempted to reply to Mr Peres.

Palestinian children reportedly injured in an Israeli missile attack lie in hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, 29 January
Many of the casualties in Gaza have been children, doctors say

Earlier the Turkish Prime Minister had made an address himself, describing Gaza as an “open-air prison”.

When the audience applauded Mr Peres, he said: “I find it very sad that people applaud what you said. You killed people. And I think that it is very wrong.”

The moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, had given him a minute to reply, then asked him to finish, saying that people needed to go to dinner.

“I do not think I will be coming back to Davos after this because you do not let me speak,” Mr Erdogan shouted before marching off the stage in front of Mr Peres, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and an elite audience of ministers and international officials.

Mr Peres had told the audience Israel was forced on to the offensive against Hamas by thousands of rockets and mortars fired into Israel.

“The tragedy of Gaza is not Israel, it is Hamas,” the Israeli leader said.

“Why did they fire rockets? There was no siege against Gaza. Why did they fight us, what did they want? There was never a day of starvation in Gaza.”

He argued that Mr Erdogan would have reacted in the same way if rockets had hit Istanbul.

More than 1,300 Palestinians and 14 Israelis were killed during the three-week conflict which began on 27 December.

Mr Erdogan later complained that he had been allowed to speak for just 12 minutes compared with 25 for Mr Peres.

“I did not target at all in any way the Israeli people, President Peres or the Jewish people,” he said.

“I am a prime minister,a leader who has expressly stated that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity.”

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Obama urges quick economic action

US President Barack Obama has called for urgent action on his $825bn (£586bn) economic recovery plan, saying the American people expect it.

Republican lawmakers are increasingly vocal in opposing the bill, complaining it is too expensive and unworkable.

Amid talks with congressional Republicans to try to persuade them to accept the plan, he said he did not expect 100% agreement from them.

But Mr Obama appealed to them to “put politics aside”.

The president hopes his plan could clear Congress by mid-February.

“There are some legitimate philosophical difference with parts of my plan that the Republican shave,and I respect that,” Mr Obama said.

“In some cases they may just not be as familiar with what’s in the package as I would like.

“I don’t expect 100% agreement from my Republican colleagues, but I do hope that we can all put politics aside and do the American people’s business.”

He spoke to reporters after meetings with House of Representatives Republicans and before another meeting with senators.

“The main message I have is that the statistics every day underscore the urgency of the economic situation.

“The American people expect action.”

Republican House leader John Boehner said after the Obama meeting: “I think we both share a sincere belief that we have to have a plan that works.”

Republicans lack the votes to defeat the stimulus bill on their own, but c

ould slow its progress, especially in the Senate.

‘Unprecedented crisis’

Any decision will fall to the new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was sworn in on Monday, with the task of trying to get the US economy back in shape.

President Obama has said his administration will be held accountable for the success or failure of his stimulus plan.

He has described the US as being “in the midst of an unprecedented crisis” and has announced:

  • More than 3,000 miles of new electricity transmission lines would be laid down to improve the US power network
  • 75% of public sector buildings would be made more energy-efficient, saving taxpayers $2bn a year
  • More than 2.5m homes would be “weatherized” (made more energy efficient)
  • Funds would be made available to improve or renovate 10,000 schools

Other proposals include tax credits for firms that create jobs, tax cuts for 95% of American workers and extended unemployment benefits.

The president has pledged the plan “will save or create three to four million jobs over the next few years”.

 

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Barclays bank share soared more 75% on monday

In late morning London deals, Barclays stock jumped 76.17 percent to reach 90.20 pence from Friday’s closing level, as investors were reassured by a statement which said the group would not take state cash because it was adequately funded.

Barclays added that it expected a 2008 pre-tax profit of more than 5.3 billion pounds despite credit-crunch writedowns of eight billion pounds.

The stock had almost halved last week on concern that it could turn to the government for extra cash — like rivals Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group which are both now majority state-owned.

“We are not seeking subscription for further capital — either from the private sector or from the UK government,” Barclays chairman Marcus Agius and chief executive John Varley said ahead of the market open.

Barclays added that it would report annual pre-tax profit “clearly above” the 5.3 billion pounds anticipated by analysts.

The results would include total writedowns of eight billion pounds after losses on credit markets, with full details to be given on February 9.

Agius and Varley said in the letter that they would bring forward the bank’s 2008 results announcement by one week to February 9 because of recent market pressures.

“In view of the events in the banking sector last week, we have decided to communicate now with employees, customers, clients and shareholders in this open letter in order to address the principal causes of concern which we are hearing,” the pair said.

“Writing in this way ahead of the release of results is unusual, of course, but the turn of events is also unusual.”

The figures showed that despite being badly affected by the credit crisis, the bank was still able to generate record revenues in 2008, allowing it to offset the damage and report solid results, the group said.

The bank had “confidence that our capital resources are sufficient to manage Barclays safely and prudently even in these difficult markets.

“Our starting point is that Barclays has 36 billion pounds of committed equity capital and reserves; we are well-funded, and we are profitable.”

Barclays continued to have adequate capital levels, at some 17 billion pounds above the minimum required, and accordingly it would not be seeking to raise fresh funds, neither from the market nor the government.

Last week, the government announced a second massive bailout programme costing billions and which has seen it take large holdings in several banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group.

Barclays said Monday that 2009 had got off to a good start, with high levels of business reported, especially at its Barclays Capital unit, which last year took over the North American operations of failed US investment banking giant Lehman Brothers.

Britain’s banks have been hit hard as a result of the international financial crisis, which has plunged the economy into a recession and sparked massive government rescue packages for the banking sector.

However, Barclays has spurned state cash, opting instead to sell around one third of its stock last year to oil-rich Middle Eastern investors from Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

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