Ghost Dog's Journal
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Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 13,640
Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 13,640
(Brit gone native).
...The charge is always the same: The Germans have acquired an unreasonable advantage by one-sidedly focusing on exports, and now they are flooding foreign markets with their products. At the same time, this view holds that the Germans live and consume below their means, which is detrimental to foreign companies because there is less demand for their products in Germany...
... Romano Prodi – Mr Euro himself – is calling for a Latin Front to rise up against Germany and force through a reflation policy before the whole experiment of monetary union spins out of control.
"France, Italy, and Spain should together pound their fists on the table, but they are not doing so because they delude themselves that they can go it alone," he told Quotidiano Nazionale
Should Germany persist in imposing its contractionary ruin on Europe – "should the euro break apart, with one exchange rate in the North and one in the South", as he puts it – Germany itself will reap as it has sown. "Their exchange rate will double and they will not sell a single Mercedes in Europe. German industrialists know this but all they manage to secure are slight changes, not enough to end the crisis."... "German public opinion is by now convinced that any economic stimulus for the European economy is an unjustified help for the 'feckless' South, to which I have the honour of belonging. They are obsessed with inflation, just like teenagers obsessed with sex. They don't understand that the real problem today is deflation,.."...
... Prof Prodi says Germany is living in an Alice-in-Wonderland world of intellectual confusion, thinking that it can run a current account surplus of 7pc of GDP (almost three time's China's surplus), with an inflation rate of almost zero, without at the same time blocking recovery. But no amount of protest makes any difference. "It has not effect on German policy because France, Italy, and Spain lack any common approach, even though all these countries they have identical interests."...
... They have the majority votes in the EU Council of Ministers. They have a majority on the ECB's Governing Council, and indeed on other bodies such as the European Investment Bank, which could be mobilised for a Marshall Plan (that empty promise from some wretched and now forgotten EU summit, never delivered like all those New Deal EMU pledges that came before).
They have natural justice, economic authority, and the EU treaties on their side. They can and should deploy their combined political power to impose a full fiscal and monetary reflation strategy on the EU, Abenomics for Europe. Germany might find that a few years of 3pc inflation and a mini-boom are not so painful after all. But if it finds this outcome so intolerable, the exit door is wide open. It can leave EMU. (And destroy part of its banking system in the process.)...
I think the Spiegel piece misrepresents the charge. Problems that have been referred to are the austere deflationary policies imposed at exchange and interest rates greatly favorable to Germany but that are unbalancing the EU project itself.
The second piece is a long commentary by Evans-Pritchard from Sunday...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Tue Nov 5, 2013, 10:18 AM (1 replies)
... In the US, there has been much agonising over the emergence of China as a rival economic superpower. America's trade deficit with China has been a particular cause of concern, with Beijing accused of manipulating the renminbi exchange rate to dump goods in the west. Fears have been expressed that America is vulnerable to a financial Pearl Harbor: a sudden decision by Beijing to stop buying US Treasury bills.
In the light of what is going to be discussed later this week, such fears look overblown. That's not just because such a move would be a pyrrhic victory for China, since it would destroy the value of its assets. It's also because bit by bit, China's economy – if not its political structure – is being reshaped along the lines sought by Wall Street and by American-owned transnational corporations.
Back in the late 1990s, US multinationals demanded that China accept more stringent conditions than had been imposed on other developing countries in order to secure WTO membership. Beijing accepted. Now America wants two things: China's financial sector to be opened up to US banks and the country's savings to boost western capital markets. More than likely, Washington will get its way, perhaps not immediately but with profound effects.
Why? Well, consider this. America, the world's biggest economy, has savings of $2.8tn (£1.7tn); China has more than $4tn. As a result, the impact of financial liberalisation in China will make the flow of funds into the west from Russian oligarchs look inconsequential.
As Diana Choyleva of Lombard Street Research notes, China's elite already sends its children to Britain to be educated. The money is about to follow. Which is why the hedge-fund owners of Mayfair and the estate agents of Belgravia have every reason to be cheerful.
... Pssst... There are lucrative investment opportunities to be found in Spain as well... And not just in central Madrid!
Posted by Ghost Dog | Mon Nov 4, 2013, 04:47 AM (1 replies)
... But, I think I'll roll another one, all the same...
... And, I was thinking about the 'regular sleeping hours', diurnal rhythm thing just yesterday: I've been an offshore (under sail, English Channel) navigator, watchkeeping; I feel like I'm a hunter, basically (always aware of o'portunity...): I'll be awake when I need to be awake; drowse whenever there's time...
Please, take heart. Be ready, but hope not to have to pull, those triggers.
Posted by Ghost Dog | Tue Oct 29, 2013, 02:50 PM (1 replies)
The external current account in the EU recorded a surplus of €39.4 billion in the second quarter of 2013. The current account surplus increased by €36.8 billion compared with the same period last year.
On 17 October, Eurostat announced the second estimate for EU’s external account surplus. The current account includes imports and exports in both goods and services plus all other current transfers and is considered a closely tracked indicator of the ability of a country or area to pay its way in the world.
In the second quarter of 2013, compared with the second quarter of 2012, the deficit of the goods account moved into surplus (+€18.1 billion euro compared with -11.2 billion) and the surplus of the services account grew (+€41.7 billion compared with +39.7 billion). The deficit of the income account decreased (-€4 billion compared with -11.5 billion), while the deficit of the current transfers account increased (-€16.5 billion compared with -14.5 billion).
According to the press release, the surplus recorded in the services account (+€41.7 billion) was mainly the result of surpluses in “other business services,” which includes miscellaneous business, professional and technical services (+16.6 billion), financial services (+8.5 billion), computer & information services (+6.8 billion), transportation (+6.5 billion), travel (+4.7 billion), insurance services (+2.6 billion) and construction services (+1.9 billion), partly offset by a deficit in royalties & license fees (-2.5 billion).
In the second quarter of 2013, the biggest EU27 external current account surplus was recorded with the USA (+€26.0 billion) followed by Switzerland (+16.3 billion), Brazil (+9.6 billion), Hong Kong (+7.9 bilion), Canada (+5.6 billion) and India (+1.9 billion). On the other hand, the biggest external current account deficit was recorded with China (-€18.5 billion) followed by Russia (-11.4 billion) and Japan (-3.1 billion)...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Tue Oct 29, 2013, 07:33 AM (1 replies)
US manufacturing output barely rose in September and contracts to buy previously owned homes recorded their largest drop in nearly three and a half years, the latest signs the economy’s momentum ebbed as the third quarter ended.
The reports yesterday showed economic activity was on weak footing even before a 16-day partial shutdown of the US federal government early in October that is expected to weigh on fourth quarter growth...
... Manufacturing production edged up 0.1 per cent last month after advancing 0.5 per cent in August, the Federal Reserve said.
Factory output was held back by a 0.5 per cent drop in computer and electronic goods production. Output of electrical appliances also fell.
While automobile output increased 2.0 per cent, that was a sharp slowdown from the 5.2 per cent rise logged in August...
... Every Yorkshireman knows that there is no greater place on Earth to be, but the White Rose county has been singled out by independent travel experts as being among the very top places in the world to visit next year.
Yorkshire is the third best region in the world to visit in 2014, according to travel guide company Lonely Planet...
... “Recently this rough-around-the-edges gentleman of the north has kicked away the walking cane. Bradford has become the world’s first Unesco City of Film, fashion-thirsty Leeds has cut the ribbon on an ambitious retail development at a time when malls elsewhere in the UK are stalling, a new state-of-the-art gallery in Wakefield is giving London a run for its money, and Yorkshire now has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other county outside London. In 2014, this welcoming region of rugged moorlands, heritage homes and cosy pubs will be able to hold its head even higher when the Tour de France begins its grand départ from Leeds.”
In a list of the top ten regions around the globe, Yorkshire was placed only below the hotly-tipped and up-and-coming mountainous area of Sikkim in India and the beautiful barren landscape of The Kimberley on the Western Australian coast.
‘God’s Own County’ pipped other exotic locations in the list, including the top locations in Japan, New Zealand and Spain, as well as some well-established, travel itinerary musts such as Victoria Falls in southern Africa and Texas, the second largest state in the USA...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Tue Oct 29, 2013, 07:16 AM (0 replies)
ALMATY, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- The creation of an economic belt stretching along the ancient Silk Road coincides with Kazakhstan's foreign policy, says a Kazakh expert on international issues.
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the idea during his recent visit to Central Asia, eyeing the the cultural revival of the Silk Road, which historically links China with Central Asia and Europe, as a way of developing political and economic ties.
Elnara Baynazarova told Xinhua that her country's foreign policy adheres to the concept of Kazakhstan being at the heart of Eurasia, the state connecting Western and Eastern values, and a bridge for communication between the two civilizations...
... It will first boost the development of the country's small towns and peripheral regions that will stand at the junctions of the main transport routes, she said, adding that it may help build more economic infrastructure in Kazakhstan's remote areas and create new jobs.
Moreover, the construction of the highway linking Western China and Western Europe could provide additional funds to Kazakhstan's state budget by imposing special fares for travel, registration of passengers and freight cargo, she said...
Oh yeah. China & Central Eurasia closer, on the ground, to Western Europe. Cough. Interesting...
... Toll roads have existed for at least the last 2,700 years, as tolls had to be paid by travellers using the Susa–Babylon highway under the regime of Ashurbanipal, who reigned in the 7th century BC. Aristotle and Pliny refer to tolls in Arabia and other parts of Asia. In India, before the 4th century BC, the Arthasastra notes the use of tolls. Germanic tribes charged tolls to travellers across mountain passes. Tolls were used in the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries.
A 14th-century example (though not for a road) is Castle Loevestein in the Netherlands, which was built at a strategic point where two rivers meet, and charged tolls on boats sailing along the river.
Many modern European roads were originally constructed as toll roads in order to recoup the costs of construction, maintenance and as a source of tax money that is paid primarily by someone other than the local residents. In 14th-century England, some of the most heavily used roads were repaired with money raised from tolls by pavage grants. Wide spread toll roads sometimes restricted traffic so much, by their high tolls, that they interfered with trade and cheap transportation needed to alleviate local famines or shortages... - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toll_road
Posted by Ghost Dog | Tue Oct 29, 2013, 06:43 AM (1 replies)
...The head of the European parliament delegation, British MEP Claude Moraes, told the BBC it was the scale of the NSA's alleged surveillance that was worrying.
"The headline news, that 35 leaders had their phones tapped is not the real crux of the issue," he said.
"It really is the El Mundo type story, that millions of citizens of countries... had their landlines and other communications tapped. So it's about mass surveillance. It's about scale and proportionality."
He said a priority of the European mission was to discuss the impact of American spying on EU citizens' fundamental right to privacy.
The BBC's Europe correspondent Chris Morris says that with every new allegation, demands are growing in Europe - and in Germany in particular - for explanations and for guarantees of a change in culture...
According to certain prolific and persistent voices here at DU, to expect such a culture-change from the rulers over the already supine US people would be... what, naïve?
"Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state." - Benito Mussolini
US Ambassador to Spain James Costos
Posted by Ghost Dog | Mon Oct 28, 2013, 05:19 AM (0 replies)
the stomach, ward off the pangs of the Great Hunger(*)...
I'd also recommend preparing a mash or purée by steaming the chunks of potato together with the chopped onion plus things like carrot, brocoli, whatever if you have veg. Maybe add some herbs, bay leaf (laurel), mint...
Steam (keeps in more nutrients & more flavor) to the minimum point where the veg. is still quite firm but mashable. Mash with lashings of butter (or olive oil) and, yes, salt & black pepper. Maybe some nutmeg.
For more protein mix in the contents of a small can of tuna, perhaps in a tomato sauce...
(*) - Clay is the word and clay is the flesh
Where the potato-gatherers like mechanised scarecrows move
Along the side-fall of the hill - Maguire and his men.
If we watch them an hour is there anything we can prove
Of life as it is broken-backed over the Book
Of Death? Here crows gabble over worms and frogs
And the gulls like old newspapers are blown clear of the hedges, luckily.
Is there some light of imagination in these wet clods?
Or why do we stand here shivering? ...
... We will wait and watch the tragedy to the last curtain,
Till the last soul passively like a bag of wet clay
Rolls down the side of the hill, diverted by the angles
Where the plough missed or a spade stands, straitening the way.
A dog lying on a torn jacket under a heeled-up cart,
A horse nosing along the posied headland, trailing
A rusty plough. Three heads hanging between wide-apart legs.
October playing a symphony on a slack wire paling...
... A man is what is written on the label.
And the passing world stares but no one stops
To look closer. So back to the growing crops
And the ridges he never loved.
Nobody will ever know how much tortured poetry the pulled weeds on the ridge wrote
Before they withered in the July sun,
Nobody will ever read the wild, sprawling, scrawling mad woman's signature,
The hysteria and the boredom of the enclosed nun of his thought.
Like the afterbirth of a cow stretched on a branch in the wind
Life dried in the veins of these women and men:
'The grey and grief and unloved,
The bones in the backs of their hands,
And the chapel pressing its low ceiling over them.
Sometimes they did laugh and see the sunlight,
A narrow slice of divine instruction.
Going along the river at the bend of Sunday
The trout played in the pools encouragement
To jump in love though death bait the hook.
And there would be girls sitting on the grass banks of lanes.
Stretch-legged and lingering staring -
A man might take one of them if he had the courage.
But 'No' was in every sentence of their story
Except when the public-house came in and shouted its piece.
The yellow buttercups and the bluebells among the whin bushes
On rocks in the middle of ploughing
Was a bright spoke in the wheel
Of the peasant's mill.
The goldfinches on the railway paling were worth looking at -
A man might imagine then
Himself in Brazil and these birds the birds of paradise
And the Amazon and the romance traced on the school map lived again.
Talk in evening corners and under trees
Was like an old book found in a king's tomb.
The children gathered round like students and listened
And some of the saga defied the draught in the open tomb
And was not blown...
- The Great Hunger by Patrick Kavanagh
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sat Oct 26, 2013, 06:53 AM (0 replies)
(There has been) a marked escalation in the war of words between Ministers and Britain's energy suppliers over the rising cost in household gas and electricity bills...
... Insiders at the Department for Energy and Climate Change added that ministers are confused why British Gas argues that delivering social and environmental policies accounts for £50 of the £107 increase announced on standard tariffs.
A week ago Scottish & Southern Energy claimed the same policies account for £15 of the £106 increase it announced. One insider said: "Customers seem to be paying an awful lot now for costs British Gas may incur next year."
The fallout from the price rise continued on Friday as price comparison websites revealed a spike in the number of people wanting to switch energy suppliers...
... Co-Operative Energy said (their) increase equated to an extra £4.78 a month for an average dual fuel customer, who it said would now pay £1,315 a year - but this was still £87 a year less than a British Gas bill, according to figures from the owner of the latter, Centrica...
... While Scottish Power, E.ON, EDF and npower are yet to announce any rises ahead of the coming winter, British Gas confirmed on Thursday it was hiking electricity bills by 10.4% and gas tariffs by 8.4%, affecting 7.8 million households. The previous week, SSE announced it was hitting seven million customers with an 8.2% rise on average.
Both blamed a combination of Government green levies and rising energy costs for the increases.
British Gas said the profits it made were crucial in funding investments but Centrica also paid £816m shareholder dividends last year, a rise of 7%. Co-operative Energy is wholly-owned by customers and shares out surplus profits among members...
Energy prices: keeping the lights on
The need to reduce fuel poverty must be balanced against the dangerous surge of opposition to green levies
The Guardian, Friday 18 October 2013 21.42 BST
The cost of energy has captured the political headlines this week. Not surprising when two of the big six companies announced price rises of between 8% and 10%. But the bills that will be landing on every householder's doormat shortly are only the (very) sharp end of a great political dilemma. Now the failure to get to grips with the big strategic issues of decarbonising supply while keeping the lights on and the costs down has left politicians facing the risk that any action to soften the blow for consumers is likely to make tackling the strategic decisions more difficult. There is a dangerous surge of opposition to green levies, while families on tight budgets face real hardship.
The coalition's answer to voters' mounting anger is to increase the number of suppliers and force the big six to offer every customer their cheapest tariff. Labour, in a significant and sensible retreat from its former enthusiasm for deregulation, proposes a limited price freeze. Contrary to its critics' cries heralding the return of state socialism, its purpose is to create a space to "reset" the market. That means introducing an alternative to the current model of vertical integration, which allows the big six companies who generate, trade and supply energy the scope to be less than transparent about where they're making their profits. The companies' response to Ed Miliband's proposal was to warn that they might not be able to keep the lights on. That makes it even more important that the regulator, Ofgem, is reformed and strengthened (or, if necessary, replaced) so that it becomes a robustly independent body that has the muscle to stand up to the suppliers and possibly even to limit price rises the way that Ofwat, for example, has the power to do in the water industry.
This is a matter of real urgency. It's two years since a report from the LSE academic John Hills on the impact of fuel poverty – defined as households spending more than 10% of their budget on energy – found that without some intervention, by 2016 more than 8 million people would be having to trade off living at lower temperatures against paying for other necessities. The report estimated that, each winter, fuel poverty is to blame for up to one-tenth of the 27,000 excess deaths, as well as uncounted costs in doctor and hospital visits. In this context, the energy secretary Ed Davey's advice on Newsnight on Thursday night to put on a jumper is absurdly distant from an adequate answer. It's the personal equivalent of the coalition's green deal, where loans are advanced by the private sector and costs recouped through savings in bills have, according to figures released last month, been taken up by just 12 households. This is a pathetic response to the need to get serious about reducing demand. It doesn't take much to make a difference: basic measures of cavity wall and loft insulation can take hundreds of pounds off fuel bills. Successive governments have invested too little in overly complex and very limited schemes, when what's needed is a radical programme of retrofitting the country's housing stock.
But the most complex challenge is to achieve market reforms that incentivise a decarbonised supply – and that means paying for new nuclear as well as renewable energy. At the moment, the green component of domestic energy bills is predicted to be around 40% by 2030. Replacing coal-fired generation means big private-sector investment – of the sort George Osborne appears, controversially, to have secured from China this week – and that won't happen unless returns look assured. Yet assuring returns for nuclear that would extend for up to 40 years could turn into a public-spending albatross if cheaper energy sources like shale gas come on line. At the moment, too much of the risk of getting it wrong falls on consumers. Yet when energy is a question of national security, it is time for a body providing impartial, expert analysis – an energy commission.
BEIJING | Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:00pm BST (Reuters) - Britain opened the door to Chinese investors taking majority stakes in future nuclear plants on Thursday as Chancellor George Osborne signed a deal aimed at helping find the billions of pounds needed to replace the country's ageing reactors.
On a visit to China, Osborne said the two countries had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on nuclear cooperation that included roles for British companies in China's nuclear sector, which is the fastest growing in the world.
"While any initial Chinese stake in a nuclear power project is likely to be a minority stake, over time stakes in subsequent new power stations could be majority stakes," a statement from the UK Treasury said...
Posted by Ghost Dog | Sat Oct 19, 2013, 05:21 AM (0 replies)
... This month one of the country’s most senior judges, Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, praised the Mail for exposing the secret jailing of Mrs Maddocks by the court, which was set up in 2007 under Labour’s Mental Capacity Act.
It gave the State draconian powers to intervene in the lives of those deemed unfit to look over their own affairs.
The Mail highlighted Miss Maddocks’s shock when police arrived at her father John’s care home to ‘cart her off to jail’. She had been sentenced in secret for disobeying court orders by trying to remove him from the home. She served six weeks.
The case forced Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, to order that no one else should ever be jailed in private without the sentence and reasons for it being announced outside the closed courtroom...
...(T)he mid-1980s closure of the mental hospitals by Thatcher was a key pathway change, opening up the possibility for a more responsive ‘third wave’ post asylum system with enhanced social and participative rights. While this possibility was initially signalled by the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act, there was quickly an assertion of controlling imperatives in the wake of high profile ‘carnage in the community’ cases of killings by mental health users such Christopher Clunis (1996) and Michael Stone (1996)... New Labour measures have had a contradictory impact. Though elements of a third wave emphasis on social and participative rights can be detected, this is countered by a coercive communitarian approach that has produced the 2007 MHA. Since the 1998 Human Rights Act (HRA) is restricted largely to CP rights, the denial of which is actually sanctioned by the ECHR, it does not offer enormous scope for improving mental health...
... The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005 created real difficulties for the government as it emphasises that treatment should be voluntary where people have capacity. It enshrines principles such as self-determination and informed consent, and enables people to state future treatment wishes in advance of losing competency. The Mental Health Foundation had wanted this to be incorporated in the Act, but instead it is simply referred to in the Code of Practice. While competent patients may refuse treatment for physical ill health, treatment for mental ill-health may be legally imposed, subject to second opinion procedures. There is a strong case to be made that separate mental health legislation is inherently discriminatory, and some propose a merger with incapacity legislation to ensure consistent ethical principles across medical law (Dawson and Szmukler, 2006). A systematic review of research into mental capacity found that a majority of psychiatric in-patients have capacity (Okai et al., 2007).
Finally, debates around mental health and human rights have primarily focused on those compulsorily detained. This arguably diverts attention away from two other groups. First, those who may be informally treated, but as we have seen are subject to discrimination and even abuse in the mental health services and wider society (Thornicroft, 2006). Second, the expansion of prisons in a law and order society has arguably led to ‘reinstitutionalisation’, with ONS statistics suggesting that 90 per cent of prisoners have at least one mental disorder (APPGPH, 2006)...
/... http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/2533/1/WRAP_Carpenter_third_Wave.pdf (.pdf)
Posted by Ghost Dog | Fri Oct 18, 2013, 11:52 AM (1 replies)