الاثنين، نوفمبر 15، 2010

End of al-Maliki?

Foreign influence behind second term for Maliki, power-sharing deal

I think the makers of this video from last May, when the election results came out, may have been a bit too optimistic about Maliki's end.

هناك 79 تعليقًا:

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

First!

And all that hamster stuff...:)

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

It also established a new statutory body to oversee security as a sop to Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi, who had held out for months to regain the post of premier after his bloc narrowly won the most seats in the March 7 polls.

I wonder if this will help in mitigating the problems Iraq has had recently with Awakening members being dismissed? How much power will Allawi actually have?

Freddie Starr يقول...

Lynnette In Minnesota ate my hamster!

Bruno يقول...

While having a government is obviously good news for Iraq, the fact that it has arrived thanks to the manipulations of foreign countries certainly is not. It just shows that the Iraqis are stuck with having a government of the choosing of others, and not themselves. There will not be peace in Iraq until foreign influence dies away. I don't see that happening anytime soon, not unless Iran and the US go to war, which would paradoxically be even worse for Iraq, IMHO.

Bruno يقول...

Oh, and:

"Saleh al-Mutlak of the Iraqiya bloc insisted Iran is the real winner in the process. "It imposed its will in the formation of a government in Iraq," Mutlak, a secular Sunni former MP, told Al-Jazeera television. "I don't believe in the American reassurances because the United States are incapable of facing up to such interventions.""

... I agree with Al-Mutlaq. The more time goes by, the stronger Iran's position in Iraq will become. There is simply no substitute for geographical proximity and a deep understanding of regional politics. The Americans may think they hold the aces, but in the long run their position is doomed.

Bruno يقول...

Some excellent Juan Cole analysis regarding the new Iraqi government:

"As far as I can see, Washington lost big. Talabani is relatively close to Iran, and he is president, not Allawi, as Obama had apparently wanted. The American dream of stripping al-Maliki of his control of the security forces on suspicion of being too close to Iran will be difficult to achieve, as Allawi recognized with his cynical comments on the power-sharing deal being dead. The Iraqiya is just very unlikely to be able effectively to block Iranian interests in Baghdad or to place effective constraints on al-Maliki. Talabani clearly still sees the Iraqiya as Baathism lite, and he will use his powers as president and the powerful Kurdistan Alliance to promote al-Maliki as long as the latter is seen as the lesser of two evils. That Nujayfi is now the face of the Iraqiya in parliament doesn’t actually bode well for its relations with the Kurdistan Alliance."

http://www.juancole.com/2010/11/sunni-arabs-return-to-parliament-but-shiite-kurdish-ascendancy-holds-ahmadinejad-congratulates-his-candidate-al-maliki.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A%2Bjuancole%2Fymbn%2B%28Informed%2BComment%29

Bruno يقول...

Naturally, this doesn't bode well for Iraq if the so-called "Sunni bloc" decide to go back to their guns. Quite an irony that the Iranian backed parties lost the election but took all the power anyway.

Bruno يقول...

Shock, horror ... the nice Amreeki were lying all along about WITHDRAWAL:

A special envoy from President Barack Obama raised the possibility in a secret meeting with senior Iraqi military and civilian officials in Baghdad Sept. 23 that his administration would leave more than 15,000 combat troops in Iraq after the 2011 deadline for U.S. withdrawal, according to a senior Iraqi intelligence official familiar with the details of the meeting. But the White House official, Puneet Talwar, special assistant to the president and senior director for the Gulf States, Iran, and Iraq on the National Security Council (NSC) staff, said the deployment would have to be handled in a way that was consistent the president’s pledge to withdraw U.S. troops completely from Iraq under the 2008 agreement, the official said."

http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2010/11/15/us-envoy-secretly-offered-troops-in-iraq-after-2011/

Bruno يقول...

On the other hand ... it remains to be seen whether Iran will tolerate US troops in Iraq for much longer. Should be interesting to see what happens.

Bridget يقول...

Petes,

Looks like the Oiyrish may be balking at being turned into perpetual debt slaves by their wastrel government. I'm jealous.

Um Ayad يقول...

To all that celebrate Eid....I wish you a very Happy one....Eid Mubarak!

ttv يقول...

Wow! Is there any evidence to prove?

Petes يقول...

Bridget,

Would be interested to see where you are getting that news. There's a lot of disinformation about. Mostly the Oirish have been lying down and taking it like wimps for the last two years, and I don't see that much has changed. Well, one thing has -- the bank debt that we were going to be enslaved with is now bona fide sovereign debt, as all the bank bondholders have been quietly paid off with public money borrowed from the ECB. So our goolies are now on the EU chopping block.

Of course, we could repudiate our sovereign bondholders too, but we are no longer pulling any of the strings. EU officials are all over us like a rash. In fact, it was Angela Merkel's comments about having to burn some bondholders that spooked the bond markets in the last couple of weeks -- the Germans are actually talking more sense about our economy than we are (although they've retracted it since, as our bond spreads went off the scale). The Oirish gov are still talking about paying back every last cent of our debt, as they have been all along.

Needless to say they are talking complete crap. It's been obvious to the average educated man in the street since the start of our banking crisis that the problem was WAY too big to be manageable. It was a foregone conclusion that either the banks or the sovereign were inevitably going to default. And that's quite apart from the fact that it was all the result of negligent and/or criminal activities in the banking sector that the government had no place savaging the taxpayer with in the first place. It's become quite clear we are owned by Brussels.

Not that we should be surprised. The whole concept of European monetary union was flawed without a level of integration that the EU seemed to have forgotten to implement (or at least tell anyone about). Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Our one saving grace is that German and French banks were stupid enough to lend our criminally moronic elites so much money that they can't now just hang us out to dry. But they will certainly make a nasty example of us. And we'll richly deserve it for electing (and not subsequently ejecting) the crowd of morons that have been asleep at the wheel both before and since this all blew up.

So, don't be jealous just yet. At least over there you will actually slap someone in jail if the crimes get too obvious. Here we start a tribunal which enriches lots of lawyers, and might make a ruling in time for the perps' grandchildren to hear about it and wonder what all the fuss was.

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

PeteS,

Never fear, the cavalry is coming to the rescue!

(I only hope they don't shoot themselves, and everyone else, in the foot... *sigh*)

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

Meanwhile, it appears that we will be going ahead with QE2.

Petes يقول...

[Lynnette]: "Never fear, the cavalry is coming to the rescue!"

LOL. What a vacuous article! I really have started wondering if these people have a clue. Any Brit pledge of help is no more than a tacit recognition that the British banking system will be just as hammered as the German and French if Ireland welches on its bank debts. Our appetite for cheap European money knew no bounds over the last fifteen years, and I still don't think they've realised the extent to which we pissed it away on our pathetic property mania.

The European debt crisis is only beginning. At least if you take statements from EU officials today at face value, they haven't a clue what they're going to find when they peek into the Oirish Pandora's box in the coming days. I presume they'll realise our criminal gov has been talking down our probs since our bubble burst.

And the litany of Oirish government spin over the last two years is good for a laugh -- we were going to have "the cheapest bank bailout so far" (according to our Finance Minister, Sep. 2008); our National Asset Management Agency (a kind of public "bad bank" for junk property loans) was going to make a €10b profit when the property market "recovered" (on the assumption that the sickness was the precipitous fall in values instead of their bubblicious rise); our banks had a "temporary liquidity problem caused by the global financial crisis" (instead of which they are utterly insolvent hollowed out shells due to a very local property ponzi scheme); we have "drawn a line under our banks' liabilities" (just last month) -- when in fact the gov have just been catching up with increasingly bad news from the lying sack of shit banks, and are still ignoring the elephant in the room: the coming wave of residential mortgage defaults.

Nope. We are truly banjaxed. Unfortunately for the majority of Oirish folks to whom this is breaking "news" this week, this is coming as a bit of a shocker. I feel sorry for them. Many will be ( - already are - ) hitting the emigration trail, perhaps not for the first time in their lives. Those who stay at home face tough times.

Petes يقول...

But hey! look on the bright side ... the seemingly annual November floods have hit Britain already, but Oirland has been spared thus far.

My ole' da used to claim that Saint Malachy (12th century bishop, Maelmhaedhoc Ó Morgair) prophesied that the world would go up in flames eventually, but Oirland would be spared that fate and would only get to sink beneath the waves, which is somehow supposed to be preferable. Well, our banks have certainly gone up in flames, and it seems like it's Britain getting a watery end. Of course, aul' Malachy did allegedly say the Brits would oppress us for seven hundred years, which seems about right, so it's a bit early to start doubting him just yet.

It may be just Divine Providence trapping Ukht al-Rhuslancia in his driveway again this winter.

:-)

Petes يقول...

[Lynnette]: "Meanwhile, it appears that we will be going ahead with QE2"

I suspect that's more likely responsible for the stock market bounce.

Petes يقول...

Let's hope the Euro pols don't watch YouTube ... they might realise that the bunch of ill-educated country yokels that pass for politicians here have been behaving like bad-tempered school children instead of sorting out the banks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wZX_Jfvm_Y&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhn48S7leI8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YD-xxoQwOo4&NR=1&feature=fvwp

At least one has the ring of truth...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzN0Js0tKZ4&feature=related


Bring back Miss Teen South Carolina ... she's in the genius category compared to our donkeys.

Petes يقول...

At least my plan to drink our way through our problems is shared by the prime minister.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qP-7iV3k1m8&feature=related

Petes يقول...

Huffington Post: Will Ireland leave Europe and join the United States?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rory-fitzgerald/irish-economic-crisis-wil_b_784952.html

:)

JG يقول...

Capitalism is a mental illness.

Bridget يقول...

JG, what Petes describes is not capitalism. In a free market, the banks' investors and bondholders would have been the ones who got stuck with the losses from the crap investments the banks made. When the government socializes those losses onto the taxpaying citizens, it's not capitalism. Fascism, maybe. You really should consider abandoning socialism in favor of anarchism.

Petes, I'll see if I can find links to the articles I read. But since it was all based on quotes from your government officials, and in light of the lovely portrait you have just painted of same, it must have been much ado about nothing.

Petes يقول...

Bridget got there first...

JG -- what deficiency of capitalism do you see as being responsible for our current woes?

Bridget يقول...

On second reading, I admit I read much more into this than is there. A bit of coyness about the IMF, perhaps, but definitely lying down and taking it like wimps.
On the bright side, at least your moronic elites are not proposing to extend over 3 trillion worth of tax cuts forever and ever.

Petes يقول...

Ah, ok, I see where it might have looked like we were playing hard ball, with quotes like these:

"Ireland's Brian Lenihan repeated that his country wasn't ready to seek help despite a huge budget deficit and sky-high interest rates on its government debt ... Among the sticking points: Ireland is reluctant to surrender its own economic planning to the IMF, while several countries are making strict IMF oversight a condition of their help."

However, the background is that Lenihan has been claiming first that our bank situation is "cheap", then "contained", and finally "manageable", and he's been insisting on this literally up to twenty-four hours before EU suits got off the plane in Dublin. There hasn't been a performance like it since Comical Ali claimed Americans were dying in droves when the gun turrets of tanks were practically in camera shot. And Lenihan was right to be coy, because even his party colleagues are showing signs of rebelling now. Because somehow, unbelievably, none of them saw this coming.

My theory is that politicians secretly realise how little control they have over the economy, and are perennially delighted to find that things have muddled through in spite of them. So they start assuming that it'll always be business as usual, in spite of the odd bump in the road. And the Oirish demeanour is particularly prone to it. "Ah sure it'll be grand".

Not this time, chumps!

Now, on the other hand, if we had your three trillion, imagine what we could do with that. The property we could finance! We could sell you dozens more Chicago Spires, the building whose very shape ( - I mean had it been built, not the actual shape which is a giant hole in the ground) says "you've been screwed!".

Bruno يقول...

[bridget] "In a free market, the banks' investors and bondholders would have been the ones who got stuck with the losses"

One has to ask the question: what is it that does not make the current market free?

Answer that question and I believe you will have the answer as to why capitalism in its current version isn't working like it should.

Petes يقول...

Uh, wasn't the point that without a free market, it's NOT capitalism. (I'm sure Bruno has a conspiracy theory for every season though, just begging to be aired).

Bridget يقول...

Bruno,

Pretty much everyone in the world besides JG has realized that pure socialist or communist systems are not economically viable. So, depending where a particular society is on the ideological spectrum, markets and trade are encouraged or tolerated or something in between because that is where the money comes from.

The moronic elites of every country variously regulate, interfere, tamper with, distort, or loot for the benefit of their constituencies. And there are lots of constituencies. So, while the American and Irish taxpayers have been looted by our governments on behalf of zombie banks, by no means is our financial sector the sole hog at the trough.

So, the answer to your question is "we have met the enemy and he is us". Or most of us, anyway.

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

Greed is a normal human failing. You will find it in any economic system, be it socialist, communist or capitalist. Whenever it is allowed to run unchecked you run the risk of a crisis in the system. The merits of each system seem to be best judged on whether or not that system benefits the most people.* And, IMHO, it seems a form of capitalism with some checks and balances built in works best for that.

*I do not think a system that supports people from cradle to grave is necessarily beneficial to their well being. There is something to be said for the feeling of accomplishment when someone stands on their own. It fosters a self-confidence that will help one deal with any manner of problems that arise during a lifetime.

Petes يقول...

Max Keiser's a nutcase, but always good for a bit of emotive hyperbole ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQFHgcFlrlw&feature=player_embedded

Bruno يقول...

[bridget] "while the American and Irish taxpayers have been looted by our governments on behalf of zombie banks"

Excellent. I believe that we are on the same wavelength.

Next question is: why did the government pump so much money into essentially bankrupt institutions instead of allowing them to die a natural death?

Bruno يقول...

(Or, you could take a shortcut and ask PeteS. He apparently has all the non-conspiracy answers)

Bruno يقول...

Ah, bummer. I think Lynnette has summed my answer up already:

" Whenever it is allowed to run unchecked you run the risk of a crisis in the system. "

Essentially, I believe that when companies grow beyond a certain shade of "enormous", they wield so much influence that they are able to codify their own interests into government. All your lobby groups and whatnot are essentially open bribery by companies and organisations to pressure a government into positions that are not necessarily in line with the positions that the electorate put the government into power to defend.

Petes يقول...

There's a serious danger of us all being on the same wavelength here (which would be a world's first) :)

Except that I think the question "why isn't capitalism working?" should be "why isn't capitalism being used?".

But no major disagreement with Bruno -- the European Commission is besieged by thousands of corporate lobbyists permanently encamped in Brussels, and I understand the same is true of Washington DC. Their goals in life are to subvert democracy to their own ends. This is considered to be normal practise, and to be honest I have no problem with it as long as elected politicians remember who they were elected by and should be accountable to.

As to your question: "why did the government pump so much money into essentially bankrupt institutions instead of allowing them to die a natural death?" ... I can only venture an opinion for Ireland -- the government was misled by the banks into believing that there was a temporary liquidity crisis that could be solved by temporary emergency support. I think it's as simple as that -- I'm taking the sane, non-conspiratorial view that the government is merely incompetent, not malicious. That said, it will not have escaped their notice that saving the banks was also the only hope for saving the large property developers who were their main corporate donors.

The banks, on the other hand, acted like complete gangsters. They had already -- in my opinion, yet to be corroborated -- broken the law many times by breaching capital requirements, lying to borrowers, and probably many other things. When they finally realised the disaster they had created, they lied about their solvency to get government support, and continued to lie about the state of their loan books for two years subsequently, indeed they are still doing so.

Marcus يقول...

Then...

The banksters got themselves into a mess and lied to the stupid government that was either a) too stupid to see through the lie and gave them money, or b) knew that not giving them money cold bring the whole economy down. So they gave them tax-payer money, because they basically had to.

So what is the fault of the government?

Bridget would have us believe that the fault is that the government is there with handouts to the banks, disrupting the natural capitalism and letting the banks off with their loot. The governmeent should have let the banks fail and damned the consequences.

The idea here is that if the banks KNEW IN ADVANCE there would be no salvation from the government (tax-payers) they would never have gambled away the country, and more, in the first place. Right. The CEO:s would feel a loyalty to their stockholders and the genneral population and forego some of theis outrageous bonuses. Right. Because we've seem ample evidence of that!

I, on the other hand, would argue that the goverment should have restricted the banksters to begin with. To not allow them to jeapordise the whole economy through way stricter demands on how much they could lend in the first place. Sure it would have been a drag on the bubble economy, but there would be no crash, and no need for tax-payer salvation.

Time for Bridget to call me a communist, I guess.

Petes يقول...

I doubt if you'd get too much disagreement there either Marcus.

Our financial regulator would be first up against the wall come the revolution. Of course, in the real world, what happened in good ole' Oirland was that we retired the f%cker on a big fat pension.

Stories are starting to surface about whistleblowers in Irish banks who actually called the financial regulator to report serious capital requirement breaches. As you might expect (at least in dear auld Oirland), the whistleblowers got thrown to the lions.

Nevertheless, that's all water under the bridge. Again, I can only speak for Ireland, and you're right -- the banks had a gun to the gubmint's head when it came to bail out time ... the gubmint's folly at that point was to believe the banks that they were bailable-outable which, it turns out (and anyone doing a modicum of due diligence would have known) was not the case.

The problem for Ireland is that what was initially a problem for our banks -- and, through their connections, to the whole EU banking system -- is now a problem for the Irish sovereign. So, while the German public kick up blue murder about paying to "bail out the Irish", WE are actually paying to bail out THEIR busted banks. And don't even get me started on the fact that this wave of cheap credit came about because the export-oriented German government needed somewhere to send their savers' deposits while keeping inflation low and the euro cheap. (Not that I am exonerating the wastrels who took it).

conspiracies are real يقول...

Because the governments work for banks, and the banks own you from the moment you are born. They only care about how much money you're worth.

Serfs of the world, unite!

Bridget يقول...

"The governmeent should have let the banks fail and damned the consequences."

I didn't say that. The banks should have been put into receivership, the shareholders and bondholders required to absorb the losses, and then and only then should government funds have been used to bail them out. Instead, the bondholders have been made 100%whole at the expense of taxpayers. And the institutions eligible to be bailed out should have been far more rigorously defined. We gave Goldman Sachs, which was never in danger of failing, $30 billion. We gave tens of billions to European banks. We bailed out auto companies. We threw hundreds of billions against the wall and hoped something would stick.

And the worst of it is, the problem WAS NOT SOLVED. The toxic debt is still on the bank's balance sheets, masked by accounting fraud. And that doesn't even include the government's very own toxic debt on the books of the Fed, and Fannie and Freddie. It's all still there. In fact, values have deteriorated further due to the recession and unemployment.


"I, on the other hand, would argue that the goverment should have restricted the banksters to begin with. "

First of all, our very own government is just as big a culprit as the banks. Freddie and Fannie have lost enormous sums of money. And besides, our banks are heavily regulated by the government, for all the good it did. But though I have doubts about the efficacy of government regulation, I have no philosophical objection to the proposition that the banks should be regulated. On the contrary, and most especially when the government is insuring deposits (another distortion of the free market, by the way), the government ought to regulate the hell out of the banks. But when regulation fails, those who invest in banks should have to understand that the taxpayer does not have their back, and those who run banks should understand that they will go to jail if they have engaged in criminal misconduct.

Regulation by itself will not solve the problem. There have to be consequences. So far, the only consequences have been to the taxpayer.

Bridget يقول...

Bruno "Next question is: why did the government pump so much money into essentially bankrupt institutions instead of allowing them to die a natural death?"

I believe I told JG that we're not dealing with capitalism here, we're dealing with a corporatist statism, or a form of fascism. In addition to which we are training ourselves and our future generation to be a bunch of euroweenie socialists. Everybody is figuring out how to pick the pockets of the rapidly shrinking productive portions of our economy.

Bridget يقول...

"The problem for Ireland is that what was initially a problem for our banks -- and, through their connections, to the whole EU banking system -- is now a problem for the Irish sovereign."

That's where Geithner and Bernanke want to put us.

"So, while the German public kick up blue murder about paying to "bail out the Irish", WE are actually paying to bail out THEIR busted banks."

I'm still nursing the hope you'll tell them to take a flying leap. It's that consequences thing again, and who gets to decide who bears them.

Bridget يقول...

Petes

You might enjoy reading this .

Petes يقول...

Rings very true, Bridget. Especially the notion that the so-called "rescue" is merely default postponed.

But I don't think we'll be telling anyone to take a flying leap. Our betters in government have already decided that the electorate will take the pain while the perps make off with the loot. And the electorate, being an affable Oirish lot are perhaps not quite saying "ah, sure it'll be grand" (because they know it won't) ... but are nevertheless rolling over and taking it lying down.

Killdaggy يقول...

Nice article.thanks for sharing this.
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Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

At the end of 2004 when I bought Bank of America stock the price was around $46.00 a share. Recently it was trading at around $12.00 a share. At its peak the dividend was .64 a share, after the government injected capital into BOA the dividend was cut to .01 a share. So not only was my initial investment pretty much wiped out, but any income I might have derived from that investment was also wiped out. If BOA had collapsed I would have lost what little I had left in it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining. I understand there are those worse off. And if one invests in stocks one has to understand that there is always a risk of losing your investment. But there are many out there who have retired, or are near retirement, who had invested in this kind of stock to provide themselves with income, because they thought it relatively safe. I am still working and hopefully will be able to recoup at least some of my losses eventually, but for those people it will be almost impossible. They are stuck. And we are not talking about the wealthy here. We are talking about middle income people who thought they were doing everything right by saving for retirement, either on their own, or in an employer sponsored plan such as a 401k. As much as I don't like to see the so called "fat cats" bailed out, I don't want to see the average investor wiped out.

As for the automakers, as much as I don't want to see the union bosses or incompetent management bailed out, I don't want to see more working people lose their jobs.

Capitalism works, yes. But if left to its own devices it can be a harsh taskmaster. A helping hand now and then is not an evil thing. As long as it is temporary and limited.

Petes يقول...

Elizabeth Warren's parents lived through the dustbowl era in Oklahoma, and although they considered themselves middle class were quite poverty stricken when Warren was growing up. I am sure it was Warren (of whom I'm an avid fan) that I heard say somewhere along the way that it was not until the 1970s, after the generational memory of the depression was lost, that people started investing in the stockmarket for retirement income. In previous decades, people viewed the markets as the giant casino that we have once more realised they are. A few decades of rapid growth lulled people into thinking that stocks were a one-way bet. Now we've had more than a decade since the tech stock bubble in which many investments have made zero or negative growth.

But now even "safe" investments have gone bad. Once again people are realising that stock market casino is not necessarily where you want your retirement savings. (They're probably also learning that, as in all casinos, the house always wins).

Capitalism truly has failed when you start bailing out shareholders. The exceptional argument for the auto makers was jobs, and for the banks it was availability of credit, both of which could be said to be systemically important to the economy. You can agree or disagree with those arguments, but any argument for saving investors at taxpayers expense is just plain old theft.

Here in Ireland, investors in non-systemically important banks have been bailed out at taxpayers expense, and the promised freeing up of credit is nowhere to be seen. It's plain and simply a heist.

Petes يقول...

OMG. Official announcement of our bailout application being carried live by all the local and UK channels now. Our prime minister and finance minister are bumbling disgraces.

We need to stage a revolution right now, and get these losers out.

:-(

Petes يقول...

Rumours that Sweden has offered to help Ireland.

Cheers Marcus!

:)

Bridget يقول...

Petes, all I can think about is the revival of the IRA with a new enemy. Dear Lord, I hope not to ever see it.

The problems with the bailout of the auto companies were several. First of all, Chrsyler should have been allowed to die. It will never be self supporting, and it's continued existence just sucks the life out of Ford and GM. Second, the Obama administration is owned by the unions, and they gave away far too much to the UAW. Probably enough to make a difference between recouping our money and taking tens of billions in losses.

Petes يقول...

Bridget, the IRA were avowed Marxists. Bringing them back to deal with the immediate problem would be a cure worse than the disease ... the Sunni alliance with al-Qaeda in Iraq springs to mind.

The problem you highlight with the car companies is the nub of the problem with all government interventions -- how to you decide who survives and who fails? It's a potential minefield of cronyism, vested interests, and corruption. We had similar with the Irish banks. The government claimed it was propping up banks of "systemic importance" to the economy. But the absolute worst offender, representing half of all banking losses -- Anglo Irish -- had no personal depositors, had a highly specialised loan portfolio focused on property development, and could in no way whatsoever be categorised as of systemic importance in terms of the banking needs of general businesses. The whispers are that the government's property developer friends were the real target of the bailout, but that's currently only speculation of course.

Petes يقول...

Anyway, before someone reminds me (again) that this isn't "Healing Ireland" ...

http://www.thenational.ae/business/energy/two-steps-forward-one-step-back-for-iraqi-oil-ministry

Ironically, the delay in forming a government in Iraq has been credited with smoother running of oil development, because there has been less political interference than normal.

However, political problems abound with the Akkas gas field in Anbar province (surprise, surprise). It's the only one of three developments auctioned last month that has not been contracted yet.

Local Anbari politicians have been agitating for investment in local infrastructure, while fearing that their gas will end up being exported or go to electricity generation in Baghdad. They favoured bids from Korean and UAE companies which were turned down by Baghdad, the latter because of contracts in Kurdistan that Baghdad considers illegal.

Bruno يقول...

*cough*cough*

Gold price, 2004:

http://www.usagold.com/reference/prices/2004.html

Marcus يقول...

Yes Pete. I'm thinking of pitching in myself and sending you my old Toyota RAV4. You could probably use 4-wheel driven cars in a few years when the roads crumble due to lack of state financing for... well anything. I'll buy an Audi A5 myself and hope I get to enjoy it for some time before our housing bubble eventually pops and our economy tanks. Then I guess I'll ride a bike. I've got a nice one. It's got three gears.

Bruno يقول...

Audi is not bad but I'd consider a nice 3.2 Alfa 159. Yum.

Petes يقول...

Thanks Marcus. However, our last bungled government intervention was a car scrappage scheme to support all those Oirish car manufacturers ( - in case you're not noticing the sarcasm, there aren't any).

Anyway, never look a gift horse in the mouth, so I've got a shiny new 2010 reg car. I'm thinking I should have bought several, for when the random carjackings start.

That said, we can always do with old bangers for spray painting slogans on and ramming into the gates of our parliament buildings.

Bridget يقول...

"But the absolute worst offender, representing half of all banking losses -- Anglo Irish -- had no personal depositors, had a highly specialised loan portfolio focused on property development, and could in no way whatsoever be categorised as of systemic importance in terms of the banking needs of general businesses."

Change Anglo Irish to AIG and "highly specialized loan portfolio" to "exotic derivatives aka roulette" and you've got one of our more egregious examples.

Here is a list of the beneficiaries of the AIG bailout:

Goldman Sachs ($6bn)
Deutsche Bank ($6bn a German bank)
Merrill Lynch
Société Générale
Calyon (a French bank)
Barclays (a British bank with a strong US presence)
Rabobank (a Dutch bank)
Danske (a Danish bank)
HSBC (a Scottish bank)
Royal Bank of Scotland
Banco Santander (a Spanish bank)
Morgan Stanley
Wachovia
Bank of America
Lloyds Banking Group
BNP Paribas (a French Bank)
Credit Logement (a French bank which guarantees home loans)
The World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
European Investment Bank

Those institutions were placing derivatives bets with AIG and we the American taxpayer paid each and every one of them 100 cents on the dollar.

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

[PeteS] Capitalism truly has failed when you start bailing out shareholders.

Does it really matter if you call it bailing out shareholders or Social Security (which was created during the 30's as a response to the effects of the Depression)? Either way the taxpayers are footing the bill. And I don't think it is capitalism itself that has failed, it is those who don't understand that there must be some kind of oversight with regard to the institutions that grease the wheels of capitalism.

As much as the collapse of the auto industry would have damaged our economy so to would the collapse of the financial sector. Without any credit businesses and individuals would find it difficult to function in a modern economy. There have been those who have managed with creative ways to get around the banks, but not all have those kinds of options.

While I was concerned about a collapse I do question the size that some of these insitutions have attained. It seems to go against the idea of a competitive marketplace. It also poses a threat to the entire system, as we have seen.

I don't know enough about each automaker to know whether one has a better shot at survival than any other. Bridget may know more about that than I. If Chrysler is not a viable company at the end of the government bailout, then perhaps they should be allowed to die an orderly death. But at the time this crisis started I think the psychological and logistical effects of such a large collapse would have been detrimental to all. Once a snowball starts rolling it's hard to stop.

As to Obama being owned by the unions, I do admit to feeling that they are far too cozy for my taste as well. But I suppose there are those who felt that the Bush administration was too cozy with big business. That works both ways. It would be nice to find someone who simply works for the benefit of all Americans. And, no, I don't think Sarah Palin (she of the lets expoit my 15 minutes of fame group) is that person. Just like all of Obama's books, I will not be buying any of Sarah Palin's. And, good God, can people not see that Bristol Palin can't really dance? Oh, sorry, I ran off on a tangent there...

[Bruno] *cough*cough*

Gold price, 2004:


Yes, yes, I know. In matters financial you're the man. lol!

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

And while we are talking about financial matters, I noticed AQ has come out with some statement about "death by a thousand cuts" or some such nonsense. It seems to be a take on what Bruno has said in the past, their goal being to bleed us dry. Hmmm...well, let's see, what has AQ really accomplished in its 9 years of fighting the United States?

1. Removal of US forces from the Middle East?

Nope. Still there. And not only still there, but have increased in numbers. Oops.

2. Home base secure?

Nope. Seems to be filled with American forces. Oops.

3. Movement of home base to a cozier more financially lucrative location?

Nope. Net yet anyway. Full of all sorts of apostates. Oops.

And what would that $4,200(and its multiples) have bought in the Middle East? How many people could have been fed and clothed with that money? See, that kind of works both ways too.

And what are they hoping to achieve?

A world where people don't carry their tomatoes and cucumbers in the same package.

*sigh*

I ask you, how boring is that?

Marcus يقول...

Bridget, it seems you have out-socialised even Swdeden then. We had our own example with SAAB, owned by GM. It was about to fail along with GM. The unions, the wrokers, the suppliers and of course GM itself were very keen on a government bailout. But our government refused and in the end GM found a buyer in Spyker and the SAAB plant is still operating. What the future holds for the brand I couldn't say, but they're operating at least. GM made quite a loss since they bought SAAB for $50 Billion and only got $13 in their "fire sale". Granted, the Swedish government did end up guaranteeing some of Spyker's financing to push the deal through, and perhaps that's some kind of free market distortion, but IMO it was way better than a bailout.

Petes يقول...

[Lynnette]: "Does it really matter if you call it bailing out shareholders or Social Security (which was created during the 30's as a response to the effects of the Depression)? Either way the taxpayers are footing the bill."

Yes, I think it matters a great deal. Social Security provides a safety net for those who -- for whatever reason -- find themselves unable to pay their own way. It's a matter of the most basic human solidarity that we don't let them starve. A wealthy shareholder who has lost a few bucks on the markets is not in that category. They invested for gain, understanding that there is a risk attached, and any profits or losses incurred are theirs alone. Obviously a former shareholder may become a Social Security case, but that would be based on need, not merely on the fact of having lost money.

[Lynnette]: "And I don't think it is capitalism itself that has failed, it is those who don't understand that there must be some kind of oversight with regard to the institutions that grease the wheels of capitalism. "

Yes, I agree with you there. Many losses in the banks are the results of unethical or downright illegal activities, facilitated by supposed regulators who turned a blind eye. The regulators are perhaps the people most to blame for the resulting fiascos.

But once again, it is the investors' lookout if the companies they invested in blew their investments. Many people put money in banks for the sole reason that they were considered "blue chip" investments. You could argue that people have no comeback if the sum total of their investment expertise is to follow the herd in so-called "safe" investments. It's like betting on the favourite in a horse race -- you don't always win. And what about the actually savvy investors -- the ones who made a killing shorting the banks by researching and recognising their vulnerabilities. Presumably you would have to confiscate all their gains before you started refunding shareholders from the taxes of people who had no stake at all in the game.

There are also the implications for competitiveness. Companies attract investment by demonstrating an ability to trade and grow in the long run. There's a considerable moral hazard involved where a company can grow unsustainably with no regard for the long run, and investors make a killing during the growth period, reassured by the knowledge that the taxpayer will underwrite them when the going gets tough.

So no, I see no case for bailing out either shareholders or bondholders in the banks. And by the way, my own pension fund shrank by 75% when the US banking crisis hit.

"While I was concerned about a collapse I do question the size that some of these insitutions have attained. It seems to go against the idea of a competitive marketplace. It also poses a threat to the entire system, as we have seen."

Totally agree. Whatever happened to anti-monopolistic breakups of old, like AT&T and the Baby Bells?

"And, good God, can people not see that Bristol Palin can't really dance?"

I have two words for you. Ann Widdecombe :)

Petes يقول...

[Bridget]: "Change Anglo Irish to AIG and "highly specialized loan portfolio" to "exotic derivatives aka roulette" and you've got one of our more egregious examples. Here is a list of the beneficiaries of the AIG bailout..."

Here's a partial list of Anglo Irish bondholders:

Aberdeen Asset Managers (London) Ltd
AGICAM
Aktia Asset Management Oy Ab
Aletti Gestielle SGR S.p.A.
AllianceBerstein (UK) Limited
Allianz Global Investment GmbH
Anima SGR S.p.A.
Arca SGR S.p.A.
Assenagon Asset Management SA
Aviso Zeta Bank AG
Aviva Investors France SA
Aviva Investors Global Service Limited
AXA Investment Managers Paris
Baloise Asset Management Schweiz AG
Banca Finnat Euramerica SA
Bank Sarasin & Cie AG (Basel)
Bankinter Gestion de Activos, SA, SGIIC
BanSabadiel Inversion, SA, SGIIC
Barclays Wealth Managers France BWMF
BBVA Asset Management, SA, SGIIC
BlueBay Asset Management Limited
BPI Gestao de Activos - SGFIM, SA
Brown, Shipley & CO Limited
Caixa Catalunya Gestio, SA, SGIIC
Carige Asset Management SGR SpA
CNP Assurances (Caisse Nationale de Prevoyance)
Credit Suisse Asset Management (CSAM) (Zurich)
Deka Investment GmbH
Delbruck Bethmann Maffei AG
Deutsche Asset Management Investmentgesellschaft mbH (DeAM)
DWS Investment GmbH
EFG Bank (Luxembourg) SA
ERSTE-SPARINVEST Kapitalanlagegesellschaft m.b.H.
Esca SA
Etha Capital Partners SA
European Credit Management Limited (ECM)
Federal Finance Gestion
Frankfurt - Trust Investment - Gesellschaft mbH
Goldman Sachs Asset Management International (GSAMI)
Halbis Capital Management (France)
HSBC Private Wealth Managers
HYPO-Kapitalanlage-Gesellschaft mbH
ING Investment Management (Netherlands)
Invercaixa Gestion, SGIIC, SAU
IQAM GmbH
KBC Asset Management NV (Belgium)
KEPLER-FONDS Kapitalaniagegesellschaft m.b.H
La Banque Postale Asset Management
LBBW Asset Management GmbH
Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch (UK) Ltd
Millenium BCP - Gestao de Activos - SGFI, SA
Neuflize OBC Investissement
NORD/LB Kapitalariagegesellschaft AG
Nordea Investment Management A/S (Denmark)
Nordea Investment Management AB (Finland)
Nordea Investment Management AB Norge (Oslo)
Old Mutual Asset Managers (UK) Ltd
OPERA - Kwiatkowski I Wspolnicy Spolka Komandytowo-Akcyujna
Pioneer Investment Management (Ireland) Ltd
Pioneer Investments Kapitalanlagegesellschaft mbH (Munich)
Pioneer Investments Austria GmbH
Pohjola Asset Management Limited
Portfolio Invest Anlageberatung GmbH
Raiffeisen Kapitalanlage-Gesellschaft m.b.H.
Rothschild & Compagnie Gestion
Royal London Asset Management Ltd
SEB Asset Management AG
SGSS KAH mbH
SNS Asset Management AG
Societe General Gestion
Union Investment Institutional GmbH
Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH
Universal-Investment-Gesellschaft mbH
VPV Bankiers NV
W&W Asset Management GmbH
WGZ BANK Luxembourg SA

There's a new irony in the news recently. Our government, realising that they had bankrupted the country, belatedly tried to make the junior bondholders -- the ones holding subordinated Anglo debt -- take a partial writedown. They've refused and are suing the government. Their point -- and it may well be valid -- is that they cannot legally be obliged to take a writedown except in the event of a default (usually caused by bankruptcy). But of course Anglo haven't defaulted because they've been bailed out. Turns out under the law you can't pick and choose who you bail out.

Bridget يقول...

Marcus, perhaps I have outsocialized you. :)

But at least in the GM bailout the following things happened:

1. Management lost their jobs
2. Shareholders lost their equity
3. Bondholders took a huge haircut

I'm willing to concede that there are systemically significant financial institutions that may require a bailout. But only after management loses their jobs (or go to jail as the case may be), and only after the shareholders and bondholders are wiped out. And only for truly systemically significant financial institutions. Our former Treasury Secretary and Goldman tool, Hank Paulson, and Treasury Secretary, Wall Street gopher and tax cheat Tim Geithner couldn't find a systemically significant financial institution with both hands and a roadmap.

Petes, I suspect that the situation you described regarding bondholders not having to take a writedown until an event of default has been at work here as well. I believe that was why GM was taken through bankruptcy, because only in bankruptcy court can the bondholders be forced to take a haircut short of outright default.

Supposedly this was one of the problems our FinReg legislation addressed, giving the government the power to force a GM style reorganization and writedown before bankruptcy and before handing over our money. The authors of FinReg are total shills for the financial services industries so I have my doubts. But I'm very much afraid that we'll find out one of these days because our big banks are going to melt down again. It's only a question of when.

Bridget يقول...

giving the government power to force a GM style reorganization and writedown ON BANKS before handing over our money.

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

[PeteS] Social Security provides a safety net for those who -- for whatever reason -- find themselves unable to pay their own way.

Ahh, if only. It also pays out to those who are well able to take care of themselves. But that's another issue. And one they may have to look closely at in the future.

[PeteS] It's a matter of the most basic human solidarity that we don't let them starve. Referring to those who rely only on Social Security and small amounts of savings or investments.

I agree.

Yes, anyone who invests in the riskier asset classes must understand that risk. But, again, they are not all wealthy. Many are just your average person trying to save for retirement. They have less ability to weather being wiped out than the truly wealthy. I admit to becoming rather complacent about the stock market myself. I have become less so and have acted upon that feeling.

And I still feel that letting the larger institutions fail totally would have put too great a strain on the system itself. I think the selling off of portions of AIG to repay the government is a good thing in more ways than one.

I have two words for you. Ann Widdecombe :)

lol!

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call Bristol "overwhelmingly awful", but she doesn't have the ability to merit being in the finals, IMHO. There were those who were voted off earlier that should have had a shot.

Bridget يقول...

Petes, when the Irish people see that list of bondholders on behalf of whom they and their children have been turned into debt slaves by their government, I wouldn't shrug off the possibility of the revival of the IRA. Or something very like it.

Petes يقول...

Lynnette,

I should have said that's what Social Security is supposed to be for. Distinguishing between those who legitimately qualify and those who don't is certainly a challenge, quite apart from constant political meddling. (I work in the business, remember, so I'm certainly aware of the warts :)

"Yes, anyone who invests in the riskier asset classes must understand that risk. But, again, they are not all wealthy. Many are just your average person trying to save for retirement. They have less ability to weather being wiped out than the truly wealthy."

But then you have to decide if there is going to be welfare for those who gamble and lose. That's a dangerous path to go down. Why not instead ban people from speculating with their retirement savings and only allow interest-bearing deposits. If you want a range of returns based on risk, then you have to have a downside risk as well. I understand that managing your own retirement investment is relatively common in the US, whereas here it is almost unknown. We leave it to the experts. It turns out that the experts are no more expert than the man in the street (and proper studies bear this out -- the average fund manager does no better than you would by tracking a stock market index, and often does worse). Like you, I'm taking a more active interest since the various crises, but I am genuinely wondering if the stock markets are a suitable retirement investment for anyone, ever.

"I wouldn't go so far as to call Bristol "overwhelmingly awful", but she doesn't have the ability to merit being in the finals, IMHO. There were those who were voted off earlier that should have had a shot."

Oh come on, admit it ... if any of these grotesque spectacles has anything to do with merit then Simon Cowell is J.S.Bach (instead of a talentless windbag)! It's all about voyeuristic cults of personality. It's "we the people" getting to exercise our whim with a thumbs up or thumbs down in the gladiator arena. Bread and circuses ... and Bristol Palin :)

Petes يقول...

[Bridget]: "Petes, I suspect that the situation you described regarding bondholders not having to take a writedown until an event of default has been at work here as well."

I think I had read that was the case, alright.

"Supposedly this was one of the problems our FinReg legislation addressed, giving the government the power to force a GM style reorganization and writedown before bankruptcy and before handing over our money."

That's interesting to note. Needless to say, our public representatives knew nothing about that problem before they barrelled in to save the banks.

"...our big banks are going to melt down again. It's only a question of when."

I don't believe that the systemic problems with the banks have been addressed either.

"Petes, when the Irish people see that list of bondholders on behalf of whom they and their children have been turned into debt slaves by their government, I wouldn't shrug off the possibility of the revival of the IRA. Or something very like it."

I don't think it's that easy, or that likely. A spot of chaos and anarchy I could well envisage. An organised Marxist revolutionary brigade sounds less likely. Who would their targets be -- our German overlords are not on the streets everyday, unlike the British soldiers in Northern Ireland during "The Troubles". Who to take potshots at? If their target was an Irish government, they would be unlikely to get much support ... certainly compared to their support in the North back in the 70s after Bloody Sunday, internment without trial, and government shoot-to-kill policy.

Bridget يقول...

Maybe they'll just seek a peaceful overthrow.

A crisis is a horrible thing to waste.

Bruno يقول...

[lynnette] I noticed AQ has come out with some statement about "death by a thousand cuts" or some such nonsense. It seems to be a take on what Bruno has said in the past, their goal being to bleed us dry. Hmmm...well, let's see, what has AQ really accomplished in its 9 years of fighting the United States?"

Al Qaeda is doing fantastically, frankly. They managed to get you bogged down in Afghanistan, fighting people that you otherwise would never have had to fight. America is pissing a fortune down the drain, while the Dollar collapses around your ears, in no small part due to the immense amount spent on these pointless wars. While they can't take credit for luring y'all into Iraq, Al Qaeda has seen the removal of SH, one of its major enemies, and the opening of an entirely new front in Iraq, where they persist to this day.

I submit that the amount Al Qaeda spent on accomplishing this is a pathetic pittance compared to what it has managed to get the US to waste.

I also have to recognise that it has had great help from within the US itself. The so-called War Party and Military Industrial Complex wields enormous power in the US and needs some sort of bogeyman to fund its endless production of armaments and research projects. So, in a sense, the US it destroying itself. If bin Laden factored this into his calculations when executing his judo flip, then he's a more acute strategist than I thought.

The solution is simple, comrades.

Use police action to hunt down the top management of Al Qaeda, and leave the Iraqis and Afghans to their own devices.

American meddling invariably leads to more heartache and bloodshed down the line.

Bruno يقول...

[petes] "It's a matter of the most basic human solidarity that we don't let them starve."

Hullo, PeteS? Hullo? (I think the name-snatcher is back in business.) Would the real PeteS respond to this?

Petes يقول...

[petes]: "It's a matter of the most basic human solidarity that we don't let them starve."
[bruno]: "Hullo, PeteS? Hullo? (I think the name-snatcher is back in business.) Would the real PeteS respond to this?"

Ye've lost me ... what's the big surprise?

[bruno]: "While they can't take credit for luring y'all into Iraq, Al Qaeda has seen the removal of SH, one of its major enemies, and the opening of an entirely new front in Iraq, where they persist to this day."

Ssssshhhhhh. Don't forget it was a patriotic non-sectarian mostly Sunni national insurgency. You told us so for years. Don't go spoiling our notion of the noble and glorious resistance after all this time.

Petes يقول...

[Bridget]: "Maybe they'll just seek a peaceful overthrow. A crisis is a horrible thing to waste."

Wrong people, a Bhríd, mo phoblachtach uasail ! :)

Republican Sinn Féin are not the same as Provisional Sinn Féin, the political wing of the Provisional IRA. They've always thought the Irish government was illegitimate. However, they are most unlikely to be staging an overthrow anytime soon.

:-)

Petes يقول...

Lost : The Oirish Series

Petes يقول...

@Bridget, the C.O.P. on T.A.R.P. doesn't paint a very encouraging picture of something that's supposed to be "fixed" by around now.

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

PeteS,

But then you have to decide if there is going to be welfare for those who gamble and lose. That's a dangerous path to go down.

Actually, I do agree on this. I think what I was trying to convey with my earlier statement was that there are those who may have to rely on other government programs if they were to be wiped out in some kind of financial sector collapse. In that sense it would always be the taxpayer that ended up with the bill. Kind of a take off on those of a certain age who retire and collect SS early because they have lost their job and can't find another. My aunt was in that situation. She had originally planned to work until full retirement age. Since you are in the business you understand that this is perhaps a strain on the system that wasn't bargained for and could result in a shortfall earlier than predicted.

Like you, I'm taking a more active interest since the various crises, but I am genuinely wondering if the stock markets are a suitable retirement investment for anyone, ever.

While I think it is wise to take a more cautious approach to the stock market, I also think that you can't do away with investing in it entirely. Along with that higher risk there is the possibility of a higher return. For those who are lower to middle income that may be the only way to provide enough income in the future. A careful [insert appropriate currency here ;)] cost averaging type of investing style would seem to be in order.

I also think people really should make sure they have enough investments outside of a retirement plan to provide a cushion if they were to lose their job. Early withdrawals from retirement plans here come with a penalty and a tax bill.

Oh come on, admit it ... if any of these grotesque spectacles has anything to do with merit then Simon Cowell is J.S.Bach (instead of a talentless windbag)!

lol! I see we agree on Simon Cowell.

It's all about voyeuristic cults of personality.

You forgot ratings.

But I do think there are actually talented people who participate. Unfortunately, it is the audience that injects other criteria for judging into the competition.

And, really, I didn't mean to pick on Bristol. She was just the most recent symptom of my last comment. I actually feel rather sorry for her. She looks so uncomfortable doing this. Whether she did it for the money or someone thought the publicity would be good, I don't know. Either way she's catching the flak. If she would just stop parroting her mother she would be a sweet girl.

Lynnette In Minnesota يقول...

Bruno,

Al Qaeda is doing fantastically, frankly.

You think so? They resorted to using the Israeli/Palestinian card. Anytime anyone in the Middle East does that, I question how well they are doing.

I submit that the amount Al Qaeda spent on accomplishing this is a pathetic pittance compared to what it has managed to get the US to waste.

Waste? There are those who believe keeping America safe isn't a waste. I know it's hard for some to understand, but there are those in my country who would willingly lay down their lives for it.

The waste comes in the lost lives of innocent people, those who perished on 9/11 and those who have been caught in the middle of this fight that Al Qaida started.

Bruno يقول...

[petes] "it was a patriotic non-sectarian mostly Sunni national insurgency. You told us so for years."

Soon, PETES will supply us with quotes where I describe Al Qaeda as "a patriotic non-sectarian mostly Sunni national insurgency."

[bruno] Al Qaeda is doing fantastically, frankly.
[lynnette] You think so?

America is still in Afghanistan, isn't it?

[bruno] I submit that the amount Al Qaeda spent on accomplishing this is a pathetic pittance compared to what it has managed to get the US to waste.
[lynnette] Waste? There are those who believe keeping America safe isn't a waste.

LMAO! You are precisely the sort of person Al Qaeda needs to accomplish its aims. One day, when your children are sitting amongst the weeds of your cities, wondering why they haven't anything to eat, you can explain to them that fighting against Eurasia is more important than food, roads or education.

Bruno يقول...

I seriously wanted to visit America one day. There are a lot of awesome places to visit there. But, I don't intend on visiting a country where I'm viewed as a potential terrorist and subjected to nude-ifying X-Rays and a crotch-grab before I can cross customs.

Fortunately there are other, awesome places to visit elsewhere.

Kesha Tickets يقول...

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