Posts filed under “War/Defense”
All eyes are on Saudi Arabia right now, especially on Wall Street, as an upcoming planned protest there could send shockwaves through global markets. Here are some items for investors to be aware of:
1. There are actually two planned protests being organized on Facebook in Saudi Arabia – one on March 11th followed by one on March 20th
2. Unlike what we’ve seen in Libya and in Egypt, the demands of the protesters are not quite so ambitious as to call for an overthrow of the ruling royal family. Rather, the 17,000 or so members of the Facebook group would like to see free elections for some of the higher government positions and more representation of the people.
3. The Saudi ruling class has just committed to a $37 billion bribe for their subjects and is expected to announce a cabinet shuffle – both ploys aimed at calming the populace down ahead of any protests. They have also offered a 15 percent salary hike for public employees to “offset inflation” and to release scores of people from their state-run debtors’ prison.
4. 60% of Saudi Arabia’s population of 18 million people is under 30. The official statistics say that Saudi Arabia has an 11% unemployment rate, critics scoff at the legitimacy of those numbers.
5. The two possible hotspots for democratic protest are Riyadh (4 million people) and Jeddah (2 million people). The Shia underclass, inhabitants of the oil rich Eastern Province, are also expected to hold their own demonstration.
6. King Abdullah is said to have a personal net worth of $21 billion. He is 86 years old and his successor is 82 years old.
7. Saudi Arabia produces 8 million barrels of crude oil a day, roughly 10 percent of the world’s daily consumption. One fifth of the world’s known oil reserves sit beneath Saudi Arabian soil.
8. Crude oil futures are now trading above $100 a barrel for the first time in almost 3 years ahead of next Friday’s Day of Rage.
9. While the protests are meant to be peaceful, organizers are alleging that Faisal Ahmed Abdul-Ahadwashas already been shot. He was 27 years old and one of the administrators of the Facebook group, his fellow activists say that his body has been hidden by state security.
As a democratic revolution led by tech-empowered young people sweeps the Arab world, Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, shares a profoundly optimistic view of what’s happening in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and beyond — at this powerful moment when people realized they could step out of their houses and ask for change.
About Wadah Khanfar
As Director General of Al Jazeera, the only international TV network based in the developing world, Wadah Khanfar works to bring rare liberties like information, transparency and dissenting voices. Full bio
The Pentagon is paying contractors to claim that it was foreign financial terrorists – instead of fraud by American financial executives – which caused the 2008 financial crisis.
While a Pentagon contractor said, “This is the equivalent of box cutters on an airplane,” Paul Backen – a Yale University professor who has studied economic warfare – said he saw “no convincing evidence that ‘outside forces’ colluded to bring about the 2008 crisis.”
Indeed, the claim that terrorism caused the financial crisis is about as believable as Gaddafi trying to blame the Libyan protests on Osama Bin Laden, or al-Maliki blaming Al Qaeda for the Iraqi protests.
But it’s not an isolated incident. In fact, the government is trying in many ways to convince us that financial fraud is isolated, not systemic, and – most of all – not important to rein in.
For example, the U.S State Department’s website says (click on link entitled “economic”)”
Economic conspiracy theories are often based on the false, but popular, idea that powerful individuals are motivated overwhelmingly by their desire for wealth, rather than the wide variety of human motivations we all experience.
This one-dimensional, cartoonish view of human nature is at the heart of Marxist ideology, which once held hundreds of millions under its sway.)
If I didn’t know better, I would say that the State Department is implying that anyone that questions the intent behind even one particular powerful individual’s actions is a conspiracy theorist or a Marxist.
Similarly, Obama’s current head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs – and a favored pick for the Supreme Court (Cass Sunstein) – previously:
Defined a conspiracy theory as “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”
William K. Black – professor of economics and law, and the senior regulator who put 1,000 top executives in jail during the S & L crisis – says that that the government’s entire strategy now – as during the S&L crisis – is to cover up how bad things are: “the entire strategy is to keep people from getting the facts”.
Similarly , 7 out of the 8 giant, money center banks went bankrupt in the 1980′s during the “Latin American Crisis”, and the government’s response was to cover up their insolvency.
So powerful people have conspired to try to downplay the severity of various economic crises.
And – as Matt Taibbi notes that the government is doing more to protect them than to prosecute them:
Federal regulators and prosecutors have let the banks and finance companies that tried to burn the world economy to the ground get off with carefully orchestrated settlements — whitewash jobs that involve the firms paying pathetically small fines without even being required to admit wrongdoing. To add insult to injury, the people who actually committed the crimes almost never pay the fines themselves; banks caught defrauding their shareholders often use shareholder money to foot the tab of justice.
A veritable mountain of evidence indicates that when it comes to Wall Street, the justice system not only sucks at punishing financial criminals, it has actually evolved into a highly effective mechanism for protecting financial criminals. This institutional reality has absolutely nothing to do with politics or ideology — it takes place no matter who’s in office or which party’s in power. To understand how the machinery functions, you have to start back at least a decade ago, as case after case of financial malfeasance was pursued too slowly or not at all, fumbled by a government bureaucracy that too often is on a first-name basis with its targets. Indeed, the shocking pattern of nonenforcement with regard to Wall Street is so deeply ingrained in Washington that it raises a profound and difficult question about the very nature of our society: whether we have created a class of people whose misdeeds are no longer perceived as crimes, almost no matter what those misdeeds are. The SEC and the Justice Department have evolved into a bizarre species of social surgeon serving this nonjailable class, expert not at administering punishment and justice, but at finding and removing criminal responsibility from the bodies of the accused.
The systematic lack of regulation has left even the country’s top regulators frustrated. Lynn Turner, a former chief accountant for the SEC, laughs darkly at the idea that the criminal justice system is broken when it comes to Wall Street. “I think you’ve got a wrong assumption — that we even have a law-enforcement agency when it comes to Wall Street,” he says.
A wild conspiracy theory?
Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig doesn’t think so. He recommends Taibbi’s article.
Indeed, Bill Gross, Nouriel Roubini, Laurence Kotlikoff, Steve Keen, Michel Chossudovsky, the Wall Street Journal and Bernie Madoff all say that the U.S. economy is a giant Ponzi scheme.
They Didn’t MEAN to Cause a Depression
Leading Indicators of Revolt in the Middle East and Northern Africa: Corruption, Unemployment and Percentage of Household Money Spent on Food
What determines which Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) countries will face revolt?
On February 3rd, the Economist came up with a list of “vulnerable” countries based upon the amount of democracy, corruption and press freedom:
But the Economist index doesn’t take unemployment into account unemployment.
As Alternet notes:
Arab Labour Organisation (ALO) figures show that Arab countries have among the highest unemployment rates in the world — an average of 14.5 percent in fiscal year 2007/08 compared with the international average of 5.7 percent. The rates may even be higher if one accepts unofficial estimates.
Global risk specialist Mi2g notes:
There are a lot of “orphans” and most are young – 65 percent of the population of the Arab League is under the age of 30. Youth unemployment rates are exorbitantly high – as high as 75 percent in some countries like Algeria. While the informal economy provides partial compensation, this does not provide security; the Jasmine Revolution was triggered by the self-immolation of a young man, Mohamed Bouazizi, unemployed after police confiscated his wheelbarrow, used to make ends meet by selling fruits and vegetables.
On February 2nd, Nomura published a report written by Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations, arguing that youth unemployment and underemployment – along with a large proportion of youth – are primary factors driving revolt in the Middle East:
In both Tunisia and Egypt factors were at play which are also to be found in other economies in the region, notably:–An autocratic and corrupt regime [and] A significant―youth bulge and related unemployment and under-employment….
In other words, when there alot of young, unemployed (or under-employed) people, they might revolt.
Here are statistics from Nomura showing the percentage of youth under 15 years old and median age in years in the Middle East and Northern Africa:
|Country||Population Aged <15>||Median Age (2010)|
|Saudi Arabia||32.0 %||24.6%|
The index gives a 35% weighting for the share of the population that is under 25; 15% for the number of years the government has been in power; 15% for both corruption and lack of democracy as measured by existing indices; 10% for GDP per person; 5% for an index of censorship and 5% for the absolute number of people younger than 25:
Nowhere Near Over David R. Kotok February 23, 2011 www.cumber.com > This is nowhere near over. By “This”, we mean the regional contagion, spreading violence and rising geopolitical risk in the Middle East and North Africa. Reports say that Libya has stopped producing oil and that pipeline delivery to Europe (Italy) is interrupted. Libya seems…Read More
Gaddafi’s Rule Appears in Jeopardy
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade-old rule appeared in increasing jeopardy on Monday as anti-government protests reached the capital of Tripoli for the first time. Reuters’ Jon Decker reports.
2/21/2011 5:15:06 PM
Libya Crisis Makes Diplomatic Waves
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the Libyan envoy to India react to reports of Libyan warplanes targeting civilians during mounting unrest. Video courtesy of Reuters.
2/22/2011 12:53:56 PM
Dictator Loses Grip in Desert
CHARLES LEVINSON in Tobruq, Libya, MARGARET COKER in Abu Dhabi and TAHANI KARRAR-LEWSLEY in Dubai
WSJ, FEBRUARY 23, 2011
click for updated futures > As prophesied on Sunday, my travel plans have once again caused a dislocation in the global balance of market forces. In other words, the futures are getting whacked, and it look like the day will start pretty ugly. SPX is down about 20; Dow off over 120. Oil rocket up…Read More