Translate

Saturday, November 21

Putin's grim economic prognosis for 2021

But he had kind words for President Trump's efforts to restore the US economy and thus, keep the world economy afloat in the Covid Era.  Only time will tell how correct Putin is about 2021.  Also see Sputnik's report today Greenback at Risk? Dollar Loses Crown as World's Payments Currency for First Time Since 2013

Putin Tells G20 World Faces Economic Crisis ["probably" ] Not Seen Since Great Depression
November 21, 2020
Sputnik News International 

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the G20 summit [conducted online because of Covid] on Saturday that the world is facing a major economic crisis this year that can be comparable to the Great Depression.

"The scale of the challenges that humanity faces in 2020 is truly unprecedented. The coronavirus epidemic, global lockdown and freezing of economic activity have triggered a systemic economic crisis that the modern world has probably not known since the Great Depression," Putin said.

The Russian president also praised the contribution of the United States to the world economic recovery.

"US President [Donald Trump] just spoke about the efforts of the United States, indeed, this is a very big contribution to the restoration of the US economy and, therefore, to the restoration of the world economy," Putin said.

Putin added that mass unemployment and poverty remain major issues for the world.

"The main risk, of course, remains … despite some positive signals, the main risk will still remain massive long-term, so-called stagnant mass unemployment. With the subsequent growth of poverty and social disorder," Putin said.

 Devaluation of national currencies during the global COVID-19 pandemic is a major risk, especially for low-income countries, the Russian President added.

"Their fiscal revenues have decreased significantly, and the need to allocate significant funds to fight the pandemic is growing almost every day. A major risk is posed by the devaluation of national currencies and, accordingly, an increase in the cost of servicing public debt - primarily for low-income countries, where two-thirds of loans are in dollars," Putin said.

The Russian President also has urged G20 members to abandon protectionism and sanctions. 

"We must aim to contain protectionism, the practice of imposing sanctions unilaterally and to mend supply chains," he said.

On Measures to Prevent Further Rise of Inequality Amid Pandemic

Putin called on the participants in the G20 summit in Riyadh to take additional steps to prevent the deterioration of the debt crisis in developing countries, as well as an increase in economic and social inequality amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During his address, Putin noted the considerable assistance provided by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to developing countries in these conditions. The president recalled that in April, at their suggestion, the G20 decided to establish a temporary moratorium on debt payments.

"This is, of course, a highly demanded initiative. However, it applies only to the poorest countries and does not include their debts to private lenders, affecting less than 4 percent of the total cost of servicing the debt of developing countries this year. I think additional measures are needed to prevent the worsening of the situation and growth of economic and social inequality," he said.

On Access to COVID-19 Vaccines 

"Russia supports the key project considered by the current summit, which aims to make efficient and safe vaccines accessible for everyone. There is no doubt that immunizing drugs should be common public property. And our country, Russia, of course, is ready to provide the vaccines developed by our scientists to those in need," Putin said.

The president added that competition among pharmaceutical companies is inevitable, but there will be enough work for everyone, as the scale of the pandemic obliges countries to use their potential to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the global population.

On WTO Reform

There is no alternative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) today, but changes are needed in light of contemporary global challenges, Putin said.

"In general, the G20 should continue to search for common approaches to reforming the World Trade Organisation in accordance with contemporary challenges," Putin said.

 he Russian president added that this goal will not be achieved without a stable, efficient and multilateral trading system based on universal norms and principles.

"And there is no alternative to the World Trade Organisation today," Putin added.

[END REPORT]

********

 

Monday, October 26

The right way to investigate the U.S. Global War on Terror.

Matthew Duss, writing for Foreign Affairs on October 22, lays out his case for establishing a commission to investigate the sins of America over the course of the Global War on Terror and recommend remedial actions so that America never does anything like GWOT ever again. (U.S. Foreign Policy Never Recovered From the War on Terror: "Only a Reckoning With the Disastrous Legacy of 9/11 Can Heal the United States.")

The catch is that to follow what he wants of a GWOT commission is like following a description of Russiagate, which maybe five Americans can understand (I'm not one of the five), or the Tale of Benghazi, which is so confusing that the public (those 5 or 10 still game for solving the mystery) is still trying to figure out what happened that fateful night, and why. 

So many tangled tales have arisen since 9/11 that it's the tangles, not any specific situations, which hallmark not only the long war but also all the major incidents of the early part of this century. Indeed the best description for this era is Red Herring.

A commission of the kind Matthew Duss envisions would only add to the tangle, with the entire enterprise collapsing in a tangle of counter-accusations.

A simpler way to approach the problem would be to look at the genesis of U.S. military actions that eventually got lumped in with GWOT but at the start had virtually nothing to do with it.  Libya and Syria fill the bill. Straighten out the story of those 'wars,' then use that as a lens to study U.S. actions across the spectrum of GWOT.

To get the ball rolling across the mounds of red herring, I recommend Libya, the Obama Administration, and the Muslim Brotherhood (Part 1) and  Libya, the Obama Administration, and the Muslim Brotherhood (Part 2) by Vincent Amoroso for The Best of Africa.  

Note the date of publication -- January 2020.  Yes, this year. The basic story has been known for a long time to interested members of public but it took an awful lot of work and patience to fit the pieces together in a way that wasn't hopelessly confusing to a general reader. Often it would be years before an intelligence agency would cough up a bit of the story, to be fit with other bits.  

Yet when it's all said and done, when all the pieces finally drop, we will be staring not at the United States of America but at a logo.

 
Then it will come clear that to really understand the madness involved in the Global War on Terror, it is the U.S. prosecution of the Cold War that must first be investigated by a American commission.

That, dear reader, will never happen.  

********

Thursday, October 8

Houthi Common Sense: "If we are funded by Iran, please, bomb Iran."

Leader of the Ansarallah Movement, Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi
  

Pundita editorial comment: Hear! Hear! 

"Settle your issues with Iran, leave Yemen out": Houthi to Saudi Arabia and US
October 7, 2020
AMN

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:20 A.M.) – The leader of the Ansarallah Movement, Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi, called on Saudi Arabia and the United States to “settle their accounts” with Iran, instead of targeting the Yemenis.

Houthi said in an interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel:

"Saudi Arabia operates in the Arabian Peninsula as an American state that submits to Trump. The American president fixes the price that Saudi Arabia pays. The United States gives directions.

“We are not a terrorist group and fundamentally we do not recognize this term. The United States attaches the sign of terrorists to those who oppose its policies. Even the demonstrators on American streets have been described as terrorists by Trump. I ask myself why is this happening now? What is the red threat that we passed?"

Houthi continued, in response to a question about Western intelligence reports about the increasing use of Iranian missiles and drones by the Houthis:

“Why are Saudi Arabia and the United States fighting a war against us? On the pretext of our support from Iran? If we are funded by Iran, please, bomb Iran, the financing party. No, slaughter the Yemenis!"

This is exactly what we said to the Saudis and the Americans. If you have accounts with the Iranians, then settle them with the Iranians,” he added.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has led the Arab coalition, which has been waging intense military operations in Yemen in support of the Yemeni government loyal to President Abd Rubbah Mansour Hadi."

[END REPORT]

********

Rosy the Raccoon analyzes 2020 US presidential campaign



Thanks, Sputnik for catching her hard at work.

*********

Monday, September 21

Wasting food is a custom in modern China. Changing the custom won't be painless.

From Xi Declares War on Food Waste, and China Races to Tighten Its Belt; The New York Times, published August 21, updated September 17:
[...]
Mr. Xi’s “clean plate” campaign strikes at the heart of dining culture in China. Custom dictates that ordering extra dishes and leaving food behind are ways to demonstrate generosity toward one’s relatives, clients, business partners and important guests.

Such habits have contributed to an estimated 17 million to 18 million tons of food being discarded annually, an amount that could feed 30 million to 50 million people for a year, according to a study by the Chinese Academy of Science and the World Wildlife Fund.

Mr. Xi’s call is as much a warning against the dangers of profligacy as it is a reflection of the generational shift in values that has emerged as living standards rise.

[...]

Many among the country’s younger generation, such as Samantha Pan, a 21-year-old student in Guangzhou, embrace being free from having to worry about saving food for a rainy day, and hold little regard for the state’s moral exhortations.

“This type of initiative is very boring and useless,” Ms. Pan said in a telephone interview. “I am entitled to order as much food as I want. If I just happen to love wasting food, it’s still my freedom.”

[...] 

As we can see from Ms Pan's ringing defense of her freedom to waste food, not all of China is racing to tighten its belt. Yet China is now facing severe food insecurity, as detailed by the updated Times report and one from The Hill, Another famine coming? China struggles to meet basic food demands.

As with so many other kinds of crises that have arisen in this young century, the only viable course of action is for individuals to change their thinking. 

Change or die; that's what the crystal ball is telling me. 

********




  

 

 

Tuesday, September 8

Should India stay with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?

 Well, here is my opinion of Beijing:


"Bite by bite, China has been eating away at Indian borderlands." The quote is from an Indian security expert published today in The New York Times report, Shots Fired Along India-China Border for First Time in Years.  Brahma Chellaney is right as far as it goes but the Chinese haven't only been taking bites from the 'borderlands.'  For years they got so little pushback from the China-huggers bought-off Indians in Delhi they moved ever more openly into Ladakh. They went so far that finally Delhi woke up and took action. Then the Chinese got nasty. And here we are today.  

The Chinese have shown their true colors so many times during the past 20 years that any government is a fool to join a security organization with "Shanghai" in the name -- unless it's so desperate for Chinese financial aid it's willing to endure being shanghaied by smiling backstabbers. India doesn't and shouldn't need to endure being stabbed in the back.  

As to whether India should be turning to the United States for help in dealing with the Chinese, well, here is my opinion of Washington:


Substitute "land" for "lady" in the lyrics, and there is America, the British Empire wannabe, to a T.  These days you have to be crazy to join any American 'coalition of the willing' 

********

Wednesday, September 2

Human response to Covid virus

Farmer in Amazon fighting
 forest fire with sprinkler can
 
Photo : CARL DE SOUZA/AFP

Photo at Sputnik's This week in pictures, August 15-21.  

********


Monday, August 24

I can tell you in one sentence what's wrong with America. But then you'd have to understand the sentence.

What's wrong is that when statistical data interpretation rules societies, disaster results. That's the truth, the whole truth about what's wrong with today's USA; everything else is blither spewed by superficial thinkers.

The fastest way to understand what I've told you is to gather your attention and plow through a lengthy, tortured article by Gwynn Guilford,who spent six years in China researching their economy and trying to explain it for hedge funds. In her 2018 writing for Quartz, The epic mistake about manufacturing that’s cost Americans millions of jobsshe sets out to explain the thinking that led a majority of economists to misinterpret the statistics they used to interpret the American manufacturing sector. To call what they did a mistake, even an epic one, hardly conveys the disaster that resulted.

Here are a few passages from the writing:

... Manufacturers’ embrace of automation was supposedly a good thing. Sure, some factory workers lost their jobs. But increased productivity boosted living standards, and as manufacturing work vanished, new jobs in construction and other services took its place. This was more of a shift than a loss, explained Bradford DeLong, economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

So when Trump won the presidential election, the true-blue data believers dismissed his victory as the triumph of rhetoric over fact. His supporters had succumbed to a nativist tale with cartoon villains like “cheating China” and a shadowy cabal of Rust Belt-razing “globalists.”

But it turns out that Trump’s story of US manufacturing decline was much closer to being right than the story of technological progress being spun in Washington, New York, and Cambridge.

Thanks to a painstaking analysis by a handful of economists, it’s become clear that the data that underpin the dominant narrative—or more precisely, the way most economists interpreted the data—were way off-base. Foreign competition, not automation, was behind the stunning loss in factory jobs. And that means America’s manufacturing sector is in far worse shape than the media, politicians, and even most academics realize.

Here I'll skip over several paragraphs to get to this part:

In other words, the method statisticians use to account for these advances can make it seem like US firms are producing and selling more computers than they actually are. And when the computers data are aggregated with the other subsectors, the adjustment makes it seem like the whole of American manufacturing is churning out more goods than it actually is.
Misreading the manufacturing statistics

It’s this adjustment that is the crux of economists’ misinterpretation of the health of manufacturing. There’s nothing wrong with accounting for product quality. But most economists and policymakers have failed to take into account how adjusting for quality improvements in a relatively small subsector skews the manufacturing output data.

[...]

Later in the writing Guilford observes:

Two decades of ill-founded policymaking radically restructured the US economy, and reshuffled the social order too. The America that resulted is more unequal and more polarized than it’s been in decades, if not nearly a century.
In effect, US policymakers put diplomacy before industrial development at home, offering the massive American consumer market as a carrot to encourage other countries to open up their economies to multinational investment. Then, thanks to the popular narrative that automation was responsible for job losses in manufacturing, American leaders tended to dismiss the threat of foreign competition to a thriving manufacturing industry and minimize its importance to the overall health of the US economy.

[...] 

Guilford stays away from the larger inference, but the tortured tale she unravels speaks for itself. We -- the American society as a whole, not only economists -- have reached a stage where we are simply overwhelmed by our attempts to interpret the shifting and changing statistics we wring from masses of collected data.  

We are in over our heads. The awful state of American society reflects this.     

********