A belated tribute to Ursula le Guin

le-guin“If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly.”

When she died in January this year I did save the obituary published in the New York Times. I hadn’t read a lot of her work, but I have, over the years, read and re-read The Earthsea Trilogy – subsequently expanded, like Douglas Adams’s Galaxy Hitchhiker, into a quintology (I made that word up).

I’ve never been a big fan of science or fantasy fiction. I couldn’t progress past the second volume of “Lord of the Rings” – but Ursula le Guin had something else: a genuine belief that the world could be a better place. What’s more, she had definite ideas about how that could be brought about.

As the Turkish Lira plunges in the “money markets”, I’ve been increasingly forced to go hunting for free e-books online, and I’ve been delighted, if a little saddened, to find several of le Guin’s novels available.

earthseaSo, I’m reading “The Dispossessed”, according to the writer of the NY Times obituary “her most ambitious novel”, and I want to share a brief extract, on the subject of economics, banking and finance. Shevek, a theoretical physicist and the main character, from a planet colonised by socialist exiles from their home world where capitalism reigns supreme, has been brought to the latter by curious academics:

“[Shevek] tried to read an elementary economics text; it bored him past endurance, it was like listening to somebody interminably recounting a long and stupid dream. He could not force himself to understand how banks functioned and so forth, because all the operations of capitalism were as meaningless to him as the rites of a primitive religion, as barbaric, as elaborate, and as unnecessary. In a human sacrifice to a deity there might be at least a mistaken and terrible beauty; in the rites of the moneychangers, where greed, laziness and envy were assumed to move all men’s acts, even the terrible became banal. Shevek looked at this monstrous pettiness with contempt, and without interest.”

I can relate to that.

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America cannot be trusted to run global economy

Turkey’s President Erdoğan has been copping plenty of flak from opposition at home and abroad recently. So what’s new? He’s been dealing with negativity, black propaganda, outright lies, a period of imprisonment and at least one attempted military coup for more than twenty years – so I guess for him it’s just business as usual.

Recep+Tayyip+Erdogan+G20+Nations+Hold+Hamburg+oF8eiMsk5dWl

Interestingly, Frau Merkel and M. Macron seem to be offering support these days!

After being re-elected as president, with increased powers under the new constitution, Mr Erdoğan appointed a new cabinet, as he is now entitled to do. Most of his appointments were relatively uncontroversial – but one has aroused considerable criticism and mockery: the choice of his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, as Treasury and Finance Minister.

Well, certainly, it’s not a good look, especially since the gentleman concerned is only 37 years old; but I’m withholding judgment at this stage. For sure, young Mr Albayrak has a difficult road ahead. His age, for a start. He’ll be dealing with much older, more experienced, hard-headed businessmen (and women) all too ready to latch on to any sign of weakness. His father-in-law, for seconds. He has to live down the perception that he only got the job because of Baba Tayyip. Worst of all, though, is the fact that Turkey’s economy is going through a particularly hard time, with the Turkish Lira dropping to scary lows against the world’s big currencies – with an inevitable flow-on effect to internal prices.

Whatever you may think about President Erdoğan, I am sure few would deny that he is a very astute politician. His party came to power in 2003 after decades of hyper-inflation, regular military coups, and outrageous corruption in business and politics. They have won election after election – and Mr Erdoğan makes no secret of his desire to be at the country’s helm in 2023 when the Republic of Turkey celebrates its centenary. He wants to go down in history as the best thing to happen to his young nation since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

So, in my opinion, he’s not going to pick a dodo as Finance Minister at this critical time. He knows that much of his reputation in future will depend on his last years in office, maybe more than the earlier years; and his success (or failure) in bringing his country through the current financial crisis could be the crucial factor in determining how the history books will view his achievements.

So, what has the new Finance Minister got to say for himself? This report appeared the other day in Hürriyet Daily News:

America cannot be trusted to run global economy: Albayrak

Albayrak

After all, he’s about the same age as the President of France, and the Prime Ministers of Canada and New Zealand – and father-in-law’s got his back

The assault on Turkey’s economy must be viewed as an example of how the senseless use of economic pressure as a political weapon poses serious global risks, Turkey’s treasury and finance minister has said.

“By acting together with Turkey now, other countries can also help it create a common strategy to avoid artificial crises in the future,” Berat Albayrak wrote in an article titled ‘America Can’t Be Trusted to Run the Global Economy’ for the American news magazine Foreign Policy published on Sept. 7.

“This August, Turkey’s economy became the main topic in global news coverage. The reason was a systematic attack on the Turkish economy by the biggest player in the global economic system, the United States. It was one of the most disappointing moments in the history of the alliance between Turkey and America,” Albayrak said, accusing the Trump administration of overtly attacking the economy of a fellow NATO member through sanctions and tariffs.

Albayrak underlined that while the scale of the attack resulted in exchange rate fluctuations, the incident ultimately demonstrated the strong fundamentals of the Turkish economy.

“In the face of all the negative propaganda, and the attacks on its financial system, the Turkish economy has demonstrated its strength. It is important to reiterate that no economic indicators or macroeconomic data can account for the devaluation of the Turkish lira over the past month. Turkey’s financial structure and banking system have not experienced any fundamental changes during this time,” he said.

Turkish Central Bank’s independence 

Albayrak pointed to Turkey’s commitment to create an investor-friendly environment in an effort to take steps to address several economic weaknesses to prevent potential future vulnerabilities. He said the Turkish Central Bank’s independence, effectiveness and leading role in monetary policy would remain a priority for the government as it has been for the last 16 years. Albayrak said contrary to what some suggested, “it is not on our agenda to go to the International Monetary Fund”.

“Turkey will continue to secure foreign currency reserves from international markets as it has until now. Our goal is to ensure that Turkey continues to attract foreign direct investment and become a center for innovation and research and development for the global economy,” he added.

Albayrak said the U.S. attack on the Turkish economy also increased Turkey’s determination to strengthen its economy through structural reforms, new trade partnerships and the attraction of foreign investments and to take steps to rebalance the structure of the international economy so that powerful countries like the U.S. no longer would have the power to unilaterally disrupt the economic life of others.

Underlining the fact that Turkey never implemented rules that run counter to market principles, Albayrak said: “No crisis or financial assault can weaken Turkey’s commitment to those principles.”

‘Turkey not only country targeted by U.S.’ 

Albayrak pointed out that Turkey was not the only country that the U.S. recently targeted with sanctions under political pretexts.

“The single-handed exercise of tariffs by the United States against its trade partners in Europe, Russia and China proved that international trade, cooperation and stability should be secured by a stronger alliance among nations around the world and may necessitate taking countersteps to prevent catastrophic damage to the global financial system and international trade.”

Albayrak said the world faces incredibly complex challenges and Washington’s economic threats were a significant subset of those challenges.

“Unilateral sanctions, incitement of trade wars and haphazard use of economic weapons could potentially trigger another global economic crisis. At this critical juncture, developed and developing economies around the world need to promote strong and institutionalized cooperation to handle potential crises and financial attacks.

‘Cooperation, solidarity between Turkey, EU revived’ 

Albayrak said the Turkish government has been pleased to see promising new opportunities for the future of the international economy amid this artificial crisis created by the United States.

“Our European friends, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, have made statements that clearly indicate they understand that Washington’s approach was dangerous and mistaken. The spirit of cooperation and solidarity between Turkey and the European Union has thus been revived, having proved critical for the political and economic well-being of both sides,” he added.

Albayrak highlighted that Turkey has been at the forefront of dealing with significant threats against Western countries for more than six decades.

“In recent years, this has included the fight against terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State. During this period, Turkey has become a hope for millions of refugees running away from the brutal regime in Syria and the target of terrorist organizations that want to expand the war in that country to the West,” Albayrak said, adding that Turkey became an island of stability in one of the most unstable regions of the world.

In adopting sanctions against Turkey, the Trump administration invoked the flimsy pretext of an ongoing legal case involving a U.S. citizen with strong links to terrorist activities targeting Turkey’s peace and stability. The effects of the U.S. decision were nevertheless dramatic, with the Turkish economy experiencing immediate fluctuations. Referring to Andrew Craig Brunson, a U.S. pastor who is under house arrest in Turkey over terrorism charges, Albayrak said, “Washington’s brazen use of economic weapons served as a wakeup call for many countries and investors around the world. It was recognized as risky not only for the future of the alliance between Turkey and the United States but also for global markets.”

Credit rating agencies are fraudsters

Credit rating agencies are fraudsters, Turkish President Erdoğan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called international credit rating agencies“fraudsters,” while promising his supporters “this too shall pass,” referring to the ongoing market volatility. 

erdoğan“They say that credit rating agencies say this or that… Leave those fraudsters. They say a lot of things about us,” Erdoğan said, addressing locals in the western province of Balıkesir on Aug. 31. “These firms are those that increased ratings of bankrupting states four notches at once. They are such a [crime] syndicate.”

His comments came after ratings agency Fitch, which downgraded 24 Turkish banks last month, said on Aug. 30 the 25 percent fall in the Turkish Lira since then had heightened risks and could lead to further rating cuts.

Earlier on Aug. 31, the Turkish president addressed newly graduated military cadets in Balıkesir, where he said: “Turkey will cope with this attack. For those who ask about foreign exchange rates, our answer is: This too shall pass.”

Hours before Erdoğan, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said rating agencies have been putting in intense efforts to create a pessimistic view of Turkey’s banks.

Fitch’s warning came two days after Moody’s downgraded its ratings on 20 Turkish financial institutions, citing the increased risk of a deterioration in funding. The operating environment is now worse than previously expected, it said.

The Final Demise of Dollar Hegemony? — Covert Geopolitics

Sanctions left and sanctions right. Financial mostly, taxes, tariffs, visas, travel bans – confiscation of foreign assets, import and export prohibitions and limitations; and also punishing those who do not respect sanctions dished out by Trump, alias the US of A, against friends of their enemies. The absurdity seems endless and escalating – exponentially, as […]

via The Final Demise of Dollar Hegemony? — Covert Geopolitics

Footprints of the Banking Conspiracy

proofIf you need evidence that transnational finance demons use their money power to control the world, read on:

International credit rating agency Standard and Poor has downgraded Turkey’s “sovereign debt rating” from BB/B to BB/B-, sending a loud, clear message to finance moguls of the world to stop lending the country money.

The action is a little surprising given that S&P reviews its ratings at regular intervals, and this is an unscheduled one-off move.  On the other hand, it may not be so surprising, considering the fact that Turkey’s much-criticised president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has chosen to put his own credibility and that of his governing party on the line by calling an early general election on 24 June.

It is no secret that Mr Erdoğan has seriously upset just about everyone in the corridors and hidey holes of global power since his newly-formed AK Party swept into power out of the political blue in 2003. He and his team put a stop to Turkey’s chronic triple-digit inflation almost overnight. They managed to keep their country out of George Dubya Bush’s dishonest and disastrous invasion of Iraq despite strong US pressure to add Muslim credibility to their Christian crusade. Mr Erdoğan has repeatedly called out the United States, Israel and European big-wheels for their shameless aggression and hypocrisy. In spite of all the chaos in neighbouring countries, Mr Erdoğan’s government has transformed Turkey from an economic basket-case to one of the world’s growing power-houses, where, as even nay-sayers have to admit, most of the people are now in the middle-income rather than the dirt-poor bracket.

grasping bankersWhile serving as mayor of Istanbul back in the 1990s, Mr Erdoğan was actually convicted and jailed by Turkey’s financial-military elite, allegedly for his radical Islamist agenda. Since his party became the government they have had fifteen years to drag the country back to a mythical nightmare past of fundamentalist Shariah law – and have not yet done so. On the contrary, alcohol is freely consumed in public parks and street cafes even during the fasting month of Ramazan, and the range of available alcoholic beverages, local and imported, has broadened remarkably. Other Muslim countries and even non-Muslim South America are avid consumers of Turkish TV series showcasing life in contemporary Turkey.

In spite of a record that would see leaders of less fortunate countries lionised, beatified, or even deified, Mr Erdoğan has had to deal with a relentless barrage of criticism and worse from a significant minority of his own fellow citizens. In the early years he was successful in pulling the teeth of Turkey’s virtually omnipotent military which had overthrown four democratically elected governments from 1960 to 1997. In doing so he enlisted the assistance of Fethullah Gülen’s Hizmet organisation, whose tentacles had extended into every area of government. Possibly the Gülenists were disappointed at not being sufficiently rewarded for their cooperation, because subsequently they turned against Erdoğan and threw their weight behind the forces seeking to oust him.

cause of warThe climax of their efforts was an attempted military coup on 15 July 2016, whose success many of AK Party’s vociferously “democratic” opponents would somewhat perversely have welcomed. Not surprisingly, there has been an ongoing state of emergency and a roundup of suspects involved in the failed coup. Call it a witch hunt if you will – but France lived in a state of emergency for two years with much less justification; and security measures within Turkey are remarkably low-key and minimally disruptive of everyday life. I am more nervous at airports in New Zealand, Australia and the USA than on the streets of Istanbul – despite the warnings I regularly receive from my embassy in Ankara to avoid this city.

So why have S&Ps downgraded Turkey’s credit rating to virtual junk status? Well, first of all we should consider just how much credibility Messrs Standard and Poor really have in terms of evaluating risky investments. There is powerful evidence to indicate that they and other “reputable” credit rating agencies played a major role in the global financial crisis of 2007-08.

According to Wikipedia: “Credit ratings of AAA (the highest rating available) were given to large portions of even the riskiest pools of loans in the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) market. When the real estate bubble burst in 2007, many loans went bad due to falling housing prices and the inability of bad creditors to refinance. Investors who had trusted the AAA rating to mean that CDO were low-risk had purchased large amounts that later experienced staggering drops in value or could not be sold at any price. For example, institutional investors lost $125 million on $340.7 million worth of CDOs issued by Credit Suisse Group, despite being rated AAA by S&P.

credit ratersCompanies pay S&P, Moody’s and Fitch to rate their debt issues. As a result, some critics have contended that the credit ratings agencies are beholden to these issuers and that their ratings are not as objective as they ought to be, due to this ‘pay to play’ model.

In 2015, Standard and Poor’s paid $1.5 billion to the U.S. Justice Department, various state governments, and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to settle lawsuits asserting its inaccurate ratings defrauded investors.”

So maybe Mr Erdoğan and his people have fallen behind in the payment of their protection money. Or maybe (more likely, in my opinion) there is something far more sinister going on.

The S&P mafia claim: “The downgrade reflects our concerns over a deteriorating inflation outlook and the long-term depreciation and volatility of Turkey’s exchange rate. The rating action also reflects our concerns over Turkey’s deteriorating external position and rising distress in the externally leveraged private sector.”

henry fordThe exchange rate of the Turkish Lira is indeed dropping against the $US, the Euro and £ sterling – none of which feature among the list of growing economies in the world; and what growth they do have is largely attributable to consumer spending and real estate prices. And of course, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: downgrade a country’s credit rating and their currency will lose value in the “money markets”. When a country’s currency loses value against the $US, imports inevitably become more expensive, pushing up the internal inflation rate.

What is surprising is that, despite the plunging exchange rate of the Turkish Lira, the government has managed to keep internal inflation relatively low and continue economic growth.

Well, one of my readers rightly upbraided me recently for seeming to champion unbridled economic growth on a finite planet (thanks Dr Bramhall), and she was absolutely right. Unfortunately, it is the United States of America that set(s) the standard for the rest of the world to follow. They flaunt their lifestyle and inspire others to climb the same dizzying heights of consumer-driven wealth. Does it occur to them that the world’s limited resources will be exhausted long before three billion Chinese and Indians get anywhere near the average US household income?

to big to feelA sad fact of life in today’s world is, if you don’t have a nuclear arsenal (eg Israel, North Korea), the United States will bully you unmercifully. Surely that’s what is behind Zionist Netanyahu’s recent war-mongering publicity stunt against Iran. “There’s only room for one nuclear power in the Middle East – and we’ll obliterate anyone who disagrees.”

I do continue to ride my bicycle to work, recycle our rubbish and take re-usable shopping bags to the supermarket. I fear, however, that I am in a dwindling minority, and I don’t hold out much hope for the long-term future of Planet Earth.

Soner Cagaptay – Zionist Israeli Puppet?

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Turkey

Friends again – that’s diplomacy

The headline on Time‘s news feed read: Political Scientist: How President Erdogan Is Turning Turkey into Putin’s Russia”.

Well, that’s a pretty strange claim for a number of reasons, but I live in Turkey, and if anyone is magically turning it into Russia, I want to know about it – so I took a look.

The “political scientist” writer is a Turkish guy, long-term resident in the United States, called Soner Cagaptay. That’s an unfortunate name for a start. He must experience a lot of problems with monolingual, monocultural Americans who struggle to pronounce English words – and have no interest at all in familiarising themselves with the marvellously phonetic Turkish alphabet. For your information, “Soner” doesn’t rhyme with “boner”, and his surname should be pronounced “Charp-tie”.

zionist puppetBut that’s his problem – or one of his problems. Another big problem for Mr Cagaptay must be reconciling his academic integrity with the political agenda of his paymasters. After all, his CV claims a PhD from Yale, and teaching posts at Princeton and other top universities in the USA. I assume you don’t scale those heights by churning out sensationalist propaganda based on unsupported assertions. “Political scientist” may be one of his jobs – but I suspect a good chunk of his income derives from the fat wallets of bankers and industrial tycoons with major interests in controlling the Middle East for their own profit.

So what does this guy have to say about Turkey?

He starts by claiming the country is profoundly polarised, governed by a right-wing regime funded by resources far outweighing those devoted to opposing him.

WRONG.These days, despite the tireless efforts of anti-Erdoğan forces, Turkey is less polarised than it ever was. One of the larger opposition parties has thrown its weight behind Mr Erdoğan’s campaign for re-election. If “left” and “right” have any political meaning, surely “left” means taking a serious interest in the plight of society’s poorer members – in which case Turkey’s AK Party government is more “left” than any in earlier decades. Furthermore, it is clear that significant resources are being channelled by forces outside Turkey to getting rid of the country’s popular president.

Cagaptay goes on to speak of Mr Erdoğan’s “surging authoritarianism”, which he attributes to the president’s desire for “the country’s educated and creative elites to pack their bags and leave.” “Erdogan,“he says, “knows that an opposition led by powerful elites poses a permanent threat to him.”

WRONG AGAIN. What Mr Erdoğan surely knows is that for twenty years well-educated types and liberal urban professionals” have been bleating and complaining about everything he has done for the country, without showing any ability to organise themselves into an opposition capable of achieving victory at the ballot box. Most of them would love to return to the good old days when military coups were staged regularly to overthrow democratically elected governments and restore power to those “elites”.

rich-cat-with-food-scotch3

What a terrible country! I need to get out now!

Many distinguished professors are said to be leaving the country, and their students are flocking away to Oxford University in “alarming”numbers. Among these are “many old-money Turks who espouse liberal values”. According to Cagaptay, in one of the few statistics he actually provides (though no source is given), in 2016 “Turkey was among the top five countries globally to experience the highest outflow of millionaires.”

Some truth here, perhaps. Certainly the biggest complainers I meet in Turkey are people living in nice houses, driving late-model cars, with well-paying jobs or private incomes – in short, people who you would think would be grateful for a government that has, Cagaptay admits, “made strides towards that goal [of making Turkey great again],by delivering economic growth. When he came to power in 2003, Turkey was country of mostly poor people. Now it is a country of mostly middle-income citizens.”In 2001, before the AK Party came to power, Turkey was, in fact, a country of millionaires, because it cost a million Turkish Lira to buy a newspaper or get on a city bus.

turkey economyBut those, I’m sure, are the real reasons Cagaptay and his money-masters oppose Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government so rabidly. They don’t want to see genuinely populist governments succeeding in their aim of creating a more egalitarian society. Why did the United States government oppose Fidel Castro’s Cuba for 50 years with such determined ferocity? Why have they repeatedly used military and economic power to overthrow elected socialist governments in Central and South America? Why did they use the CIA to overthrow Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister in 1952? Why did they support the dictatorship of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak for 30 years? Then support the ousting of Mohammed Morsi, elected democratically after Egypt’s Arab Spring?

The real goal of Cagaptay’s financial backers becomes clear in his closing paragraphs: “They want to transform Turkey from an economy that exports cars [and other real things] into one that is a hub for software, IT, finance, and services — in other words an information-based economy and a star power.” There you have it. An economy like the USA, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and other “First World” states where money rules, the country is governed by a wealthy elite with no patriotic loyalty, who have exported offshore their manufacturing sector, created systemic unemployment and keep most of their fellow citizens struggling to survive in a condition little removed from slavery.

How do I know this? Soner Cagaptay’s ubiquitous CV proudly boasts that he is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ”So I took a look at their website. Now I want you to know that I am as liberalminded as the next guy. I have very few prejudices and I have never been anti-Semitic. I know, and have known some very nice members of the international Jewish community. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help noticing a striking feature of the WINEP’s Directors. Check the surnames: Kassen, Berkowwitz, Weinberg, Leventhal, Adler, Bernstein, Freidman . . . to cite just a few.

Well, that’s no big deal, you say – and maybe not. But I checked out some of the owners of those names:

President Shelly Kassen– chaired the religious school committee at The Conservative Synagogue, very active in the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, recipient of the United Jewish Appeal/Federation Community Service Award in 2007.

Her husband of 30 years, Michael Kassen, former president of the American Israel Public affairs Committee, America’s pro-Israel lobby; has always been involved in the Jewish community, since his childhood in Cleveland, where his parents were active in the local Jewish federation. The couple has always been involved in a Jewish federation, first in Boston and currently in New York and Westport. Check out this speech if you want to know his politics.

Chairman Martin Gross– president of Sandalwood Securities, Inc. of Roseland, New Jersey, which he founded in 1990. Gross began in fund management in 1983. Previously, Gross “practiced tax and corporate law in New York City, and worked in the corporate finance department of L.F. Rothschild, Unterberg, Towbin[1]. A member of the New Jersey and New York Bars, he has written numerous articles for The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and other financial publications and often lectures at industry (what industry?)conferences.

Chairman Emeritus Howard P. Berkowitz – Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at HPB Management LLC. Mr. Berkowitz was the Managing General Partner at Hpb Associates Lp since 1980 which he also founded. He has managed investment funds since 1967, when he was a Founding Partner at Steinhardt, Fine, Berkowitz & Company. He served as Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. BlackRock, Inc. is an American global investment management corporation based in New York City. Founded in 1988, initially as a risk management and fixed income institutional asset manager.

Founding President and Chairman Emeritus Barbi Weinberg – Past vice-president of AIPAC, major contributor to the World Alliance for Israel Political Action Committee and the Women’s Pro-Israel National Political Action Committee.

Well, maybe Mr Cagaptay believe all the stuff he spouts about Turkey – but I have my doubts. Four short years ago, he was saying this about Turkey’s attitude towards a possible Kurdistan on its southern border: “The takeover of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has cemented the rapprochement between Turkey and the region’s Kurds, casting them as best friends in the increasingly unstable Middle East. The relationship has improved so much that if the Kurds in Iraq were to declare independence, Turkey would be the first country to recognize Kurdistan.” I wonder what he is saying now, after Turkey criticised the US government for supplying weapons to its Kurdish “allies” in Syria, and has been carrying out a military operation to drive them out of the area.

democracyOur learned “political scientist” also boasts that he has provided private briefings about Turkey to such champions of democracy and world peace as US Vice President Joe Biden, Presidential Envoy in Syria, Brett McGurk, former US Ambassador to Ankara, John Bass (currently, I believe, in exile in Afghanistan), former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton . . .

President Erdoğan is “turning Turkey into Putin’s Russia”? What does that even mean? One thing Mr Erdoğan does have in common with the Russian President is a total belief in the sovereign right of his own people to govern themselves free from outside interference. I only wish the leaders of my own country, New Zealand, had as much strength of character.

To end this piece, I want to share with you a delightful little clip I came across on Youtube: Vladimir Putin performing in public his own interpretation of Fats Domino’s great song, Blueberry Hill.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV4IjHz2yIo

That guy went way up in my estimation!

_______________________________________________________

[1] known for its merchant banking investments, particularly in high-technology companies. In the early 1980s, the firm emerged as the leading underwriter of initial public offerings, surpassing the elite investment banks (at the time, including Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley).

Where did the money go?

There will always be prophets of doom, I guess, forecasting the end of the world. The care-taker at the school where I work insists that the Koran tells of a war-to-end-all -wars in the Middle East, followed by the final Day of Judgment. Who knows? Turkey and the United States look to be on a collision course right now. Who’ll blink first, I wonder? Or will they actually come to blows?

But getting back to the economy, that is no doubt the biggest danger. Wars are generally a side effect of the uber-rich seeking new ways of grasping more of the world’s wealth to themselves and ensuring that the rest of us are kept in our place.

Dropped wallet

Bill Gates lost $2.25 billion!

Last Monday the US Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 1,500 points, and I read that the fortunes of the world’s 500 richest people, including Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, fell by $114 billion.

“Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman Warren Buffett, the world’s third-richest person, was hardest hit, losing $5.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“Facebook Inc. Chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune tumbled by $3.6 billion, the second-biggest decline.

“Even Amazon.com Inc. chief executive officer Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, wasn’t immune to the carnage. His fortune slipped $3.3 billion to $116.4 billion. Alphabet Inc.’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin each took hits of about $2.3 billion.”

pickpocket-barcelona

Sheldon Adelson lost $1.21 billion!

Time Magazine reported that nineteen people in the world managed to lose $1 billion or more each. See the list here.

Since, then, things seem to have settled down, and economist lackeys of the capitalist world are reassuring us that “what happened to the markets amounts to a correction rather than a crash.”

On the other hand, an aristocratic-sounding fellow writing in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, says “The Fed and fellow central banks have stimulated a titanic expansion of debt over the last quarter century: an asymmetric policy of letting booms run their course while always intervening to prevent busts, culminating in the final throw of QE.

This has driven down the natural Wicksellian rate of interest and led to grievous intertemporal distortions. It has lifted the world debt ratio by 51 per cent of GDP to 327 per cent since the pre-Lehman peak, and led to a synchronised “everything bubble”, from bonds, equities, property, to art and Bitcoin.”

I confess I got lost with some of the jargon. The “natural Wicksellian rate of interest” and “intertemporal distortions” sound like things Douglas Adams might have invented, but Mr E-P does sound a little worried, doesn’t he! In fact, he began his analysis with the words, “Say your prayers”.

Well, I guess if you have $120 billion to start with, losing a paltry $3 billion is not going to worry you unduly. I’m wondering, however, if there weren’t a few people in the USA, outside the billionaire bracket, who took losses they couldn’t afford. I haven’t read anything about them, however, so I’m purely speculating.

But the real issue that concerns me here is not the small change of a few filthy rich planet-rapers, nor even ma and pa investor in homeland USA.

The question I want an answer to is: Where did that money go? It’s not as though young Mr Bezos left his wallet on the bus with $3.3 billion in it, and some lucky guy found it; or Warren B had an envelope stuffed with $5.1 billion in his back pocket, and someone snatched it. That I can understand. I lose money, you find it, lucky you.

Funny-Disney-Dollars-Picture

Just have faith, people, and everything will be fine!

But this money, as far as I understand, actually disappeared into thin air. No one is any better off as a result. How can this be? What does that say about what money actually is if it can just vanish without trace? And that, of course, begs the question, where did it come from in the first place?

Until we all start to focus on demanding answers to these questions, or maybe seeing the answer that is under our nose, instead of allowing ourselves to be distracted by red herring minority interest social issues, our world is surely on the road to Armageddon – and those uber-wealthy zillionaires and their lapdog economist experts are running out of Band-Aid solutions.