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Be Alert!

Moriel Ministries Be Alert! has added this Blog as a resource for further information, links and research to help keep you above the global deception blinding the world and most of the church in these last days. Jesus our Messiah is indeed coming soon and this should only be cause for joy unless you have not surrendered to Him. Today is the day for salvation! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, - Psalms 95:7

Friday, December 29, 2006

Tzom Asarah Tevet

Tzom Asarah Tevet (fast of tenth of Tevet) is on 10 Tevet 5767 (December 31, 2006). The fast starts Sunday morning and ends at nightfall. Asarah B’Tevet Remembering the Siege of Jerusalem Asarah B’Tevet (the Tenth of Tevet) is a minor fast day (observed from sunrise to sunset) that marks the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon (in 587 BC) and the beginning of the battle that ultimately would destroy the Temple and send the Jews into the 70-year Babylonian Exile. This siege is recounted in 2 Kings 25:1-2: “And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month (Tevet), in the tenth day of the month (Asarah B’Tevet), that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about. And the city was besieged...” The Cycle of Minor Fasts and the Fall of Jerusalem Three years after Jerusalem was besieged, Nebuchadnezzar finally broke through the city walls (on the 17th of Tammuz) and destroyed the Temple three weeks later (on the 9th of Av). Asarah B’Tevet is therefore part of the cycle of fasts connected with the events surrounding the destruction of the Temple: 1 - Jerusalem Besieged - The fast of Asarah B’Tevet (Tevet 10) marks the day when Nebuchadnezzer first besieged Jerusalem in 587 BC. 2 - Walls Breached - The Fast of the 17th of Tammuz marks the date when Nebuchadnezzer broke through the walls of Jerusalem and began the 3 week campaign to destroy the Temple (marks the start of the three weeks of sorrow) 3 - Temple Destroyed - The fast of Tish’ah B'Av (Av 9) marks the fateful day when the Temple was destroyed (marks the last day of the 3 weeks of sorrow). 4 - Exile - The fast of Gedaliah (Tishri 3) marks the dreadful consequences of the exile and further rebellion. Fasts Surrounding the destruction of the temple Event Fast (Tzom) Jerusalem Besieged 10th of Tevet (Asarah B’Tevet) Walls Breached 17th of Tammuz (Fast of Tammuz) Temple Destroyed 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av) Self-imposed Exile 3rd of Tishri (Tzom Gedaliah) From Hebrew for Christians

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Euro notes cash in to overtake dollar

Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal James 5:3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! THE FINANCIAL TIMES of LONDON - By Ralph Atkins in Frankfurt - December 27, 2006 -- The US dollar bill’s standing as the world’s favourite form of cash is being usurped by the five-year-old euro. The value of euro notes in circulation is this month likely to exceed the value of circulating dollar notes, according to calculations by the Financial Times. Converted at Wednesday’s exchange rates, the euro took the lead in October. The figures highlight the remarkable growth in euro notes since their launch on January 1 2002, three years after the start of Europe’s monetary union, which in January welcomes its 13th member – Slovenia, the former Yugoslav republic. “After the launch, we expected growth to stabilise – but it has continued over five years,” Antti Heinonen, head of the European Central Bank’s bank notes directorate, told the Financial Times. Although the ECB does not deliberately promote the international use of the euro, it has become popular in official foreign exchange reserves – even if it is far from challenging the dollar’s lead as the most popular reserve currency. News that euro notes are challenging the dollar may cheer eurozone politicians – even if it partly reflects the currency’s strength – but it may have a dark side too. Fast growth in the highest denomination notes, especially the €500 note, has raised suspicions that they are popular among criminals, although the ECB plays down this factor. By the end of October the $759bn-worth of US dollar notes in circulation was only a fraction ahead of the value of euro notes, converted at exchange rates at that time. But since October the euro has risen strongly against the dollar and this month the value of euro notes has risen to more than €610bn, or in excess of $800bn at the latest exchange rates. That level is unlikely to have been beaten by the greenback. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/18338034-95ec-11db-9976-0000779e2340.html FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

A coming of age for the European currency

Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal Matthew 6:19-20 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;... THE FINANCIAL TIMES of LONDON - By Ralph Atkins in Frankfurt - December 27, 2006 -- On January 1, 2007, Europe celebrates the fifth anniversary of the launch of euro notes and coins by welcoming a thirteenth member of the eurozone – Slovenia, the tiny former Yugoslav republic. But the eurozone’s geographical expansion is modest in comparison with the rapid growth in euro notes in circulation within the region and beyond. Earlier this month, the value of euro notes pushed through the €600bn (£402bn; $787bn) level – roughly double the value of the then-national currencies in circulation at the end of 2001. The signs are that in December the currency came of age by overtaking the US dollar in terms of the value of notes in circulation. The figures used for the comparison by the Financial Times include notes held in the vaults of commercial banks but exclude reserves of notes held by central banks. Slovenia’s small size – its population is just 2m – means that the impact of its entry will be hard to separate from the usual spike in demand for cash around Christmas and New Year, according to Antti Heinonen, head of the European central bank’s bank notes directorate. So what has driven rapid growth in euro notes? After the 2002 launch, the rate of increase slowed, but has remained at or above 10 per cent a year. The exact reasons are unclear; even central banks do not know where their notes are or for what purposes they are used. Mr Heinonen suggests several explanations. Within the eurozone, citizens may still be adjusting to the new currency. In terms of population, the eurozone, with 315m inhabitants, is larger than the US. Low interest and inflation rates have “reduced the opportunity cost of holding cash, rather than putting your money in a bank account”, he says. Eurozone citizens anyway like to hoard some cash, perhaps more than their US counterparts, especially if they have difficulty getting to an automated cash dispenser. Electronic payment systems remain far from universal. Robust eurozone growth, which has matched that in the US in recent quarters, could have added to demand. Other clues come from the popularity of different euro notes. In volume terms, €500 notes have seen the fastest growth; their number in circulation was rising at an annual rate of almost 14 per cent in November. The volume of low-denomination dollar notes means that in terms of individual notes in circulation, the dollar leads the euro, and the dollar has retained its title as “cash most used outside of its borders”, says Mr Heinonen. The popularity of high-value euro notes might result from their use by criminals, although the ECB does not put too much weight on such factors. “Clearly cash is used by criminals because it is an anonymous instrument,” adds Mr Heinonen. “But to say that it would be more difficult to commit a crime if we didn’t have high denomination notes would be to confuse cause and effect. If we didn’t have the higher denominations, criminals would use the lower denominations – or other global currencies, such as the US dollar or Swiss franc.” The overseas demand for euro notes is clearer to see. Tourists travelling outside the eurozone are likely to have taken euro notes with them and not brought so many back. The notes have also become popular in European Union member states that hope to one day to join the eurozone. Kosovo and Montenegro have adopted the euro as their national currency, even though they are not yet EU members. In countries such as Russia and beyond, euros have gained acceptance. And at least when it comes to overseas use, the ECB has some indications about the scale of demand. Using statistics on the net the value of euros shipped by financial institutions, the ECB estimates that the stock held outside the eurozone must be worth at least €55bn, and that is almost certainly too low an estimate given the net outflow accounted for by tourists. The ECB estimates that between 10 and 20 per cent of the €600bn euro notes in circulation are held outside the eurozone. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/070c9196-95ed-11db-9976-0000779e2340.html FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Global stocks at record high, bonds struggle

Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal Proverbs 16:8 Better is a little with righteousness Than great income with injustice. REUTERS - By Lincoln Feast - December 28, 2006 -- LONDON -- Investors continued to prefer stocks over bonds on Thursday, pushing indexes around the globe to fresh record highs, while oil steadied after falling $3 a barrel over the past four sessions. Euro zone government bonds drifted lower, extending their December sell-off as investors awaited U.S. data and absorbed Italian supply, while major currencies traded in tight ranges as volumes dried up between the Christmas and New Year holidays. MSCI's All-Country World Index <.MSCIWD> nudged to a new all-time high of 368.6 points, taking gains for 2006 to 19 percent.... On Wednesday, U.S. stocks rose strongly, buoyed by ongoing takeover speculation and activity and gains for house builders after strong U.S. home sales. The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> notched up another record close of 12,510.57 points. Equity gains kept pressure on euro zone government bonds, which fell on Wednesday after the housing data suggested the Federal Reserve might not cut interest rates sharply next year.... U.S. data on Thursday include consumer confidence, existing home sale and the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index. Oil inventories data will also be eyed after warm weather in the U.S. northeast dampened demand for heating oil, pushing prices down to close to $60 a barrel on Wednesday. Prices steadied on Thursday with weekly inventories expected to show a draw in crude supplies and build in other products. Currency markets were also little moved ahead of the U.S. data, with the euro slightly firmer against both the dollar and the yen. The euro was at $1.3140 and 156.25 yen . The dollar was flat against the yen at 118.90 . "What is still very prevalent in the market is whether the data is weak enough to trigger a Fed rate cut any time soon," Bank of America currency strategist Kamal Sharma said. "The data is relatively robust at the moment ... but the key will be the FOMC statement on January 31. If the Fed does signal a more balanced outlook then that could be the catalyst for the dollar to come under further pressure," he said http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=businessNews&storyid=2006-12-28T110824Z_01_L22392060_RTRUKOC_0_US-MARKETS-GLOBAL.xml&src=rss&rpc=23 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

North American Union leader says merger just crisis away

Leading intellectual force behind effort toward EU-style unity looks at future Alert Focus: The Iron and the Clay / The Mystery of Lawlessness / The Beast / Mammon / The Third Seal 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. Daniel 2:41-43 "In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. "As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. "And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery. Daniel 7:4 "The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it. Daniel 7:7 "After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. Revelation 13:1 And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. WORLDNETDAILY - By Jerome R. Corsi - December 15, 2006 -- Robert Pastor, a leading intellectual force in the move to create an EU-style North American Community, told WND he believes a new 9/11 crisis could be the catalyst to merge the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Pastor, a professor at American University, says that in such a case the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP – launched in 2005 by the heads of the three countries at a summit in Waco, Texas – could be developed into a continental union, complete with a new currency, the amero, that would replace the U.S. dollar just as the euro has replaced the national currencies of Europe. In May 2005, Pastor was co-chairman the Council on Foreign Relations task force that produced a report entitled "Toward a North American Community," which he has claimed is the blueprint behind the declared by President Bush, Mexico's then-President Vicente Fox, and Canada's then-Prime Minister Paul Martin. At American University in Washington, D.C., Pastor directs the Center for North American Studies where he teaches a course entitled "North America: A Union, A Community, or Just Three Nations?" As WND previously has reported, Pastor is on the board of the North American Forum on Integration, the NAFI, a non-profit organization that annually holds a mock trilateral parliament for 100 selected students drawn from 10 universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Pastor had published an interview in Spanish in the Oct. 24 issue of Poder y Negocios. He told the magazine crises can force decisions that otherwise would not be made. "The 9/11 crisis made Canada and the United States redefine the protection of their borders," Pastor explained. "The debt crisis in Mexico forced the government to adapt a new economic model. The crises oblige the governments to make difficult decisions." This was the first time WND had found a major intellectual leader behind the push to integrate North America suggesting that a crisis of 9-11 proportions might be just what was needed to advance the process toward establishing a North American Union and the amero. WND reached Pastor in his office at American University and conducted a telephone interview to make sure the Spanish publication accurately reflected his views. He affirmed the Spanish interview represents his thinking. "What I'm saying is that a crisis is an event which can force democratic governments to make difficult decisions like those that will be required to create a North American Community," he said. "It's not that I want another 9/11 crisis, but having a crisis would force decisions that otherwise might not get made." Pastor noted, for example that "Europeans, facing the crisis of two World Wars, turned to the European Community as a means to prevent war and advance their economic interests." "The United States turned to the Marshall Plan when faced with the crisis of Western Europe falling into the hands of communism," he said. "So, I'm not advocating, or encouraging, or wanting a crisis, I'm only saying that in order to take important initiatives, sometimes one manner in which this occurs is when there is a crisis to which leaders need to respond." Pastor told WND he lamented that the leadership of the three North American countries is not positioned to make the type of tough decisions needed to advance a North American Community agenda. In his interview with Poder y Negocios, he argued, "Canada has a minority government and Mexico will soon have a minority government that will be confronted with what amounts to an uprising that we hope will be peaceful. The United States has a lame duck president whose principle preoccupation is the war in Iraq and instability in the Middle East." Pastor further told WND Mexico's Fox made a tactical mistake by laying out an overly ambitious agenda to integrate with the United States. "President Bush then took on the issue of illegal immigration, and it proved to be much more difficult than anticipated," he said. In the absence of strong North American leadership, is a crisis the way greater North American integration can be expected to happen? "There are alternatives to a crisis for getting a major decision adopted by the president and by the congress," Pastor responded. "But what I am saying is that we lack the kind of North American leadership we need. Our founding fathers created a system of governance that was not designed to be efficient but was designed to protect freedom. Therefore, you created checks and balances that did protect freedom but also made it difficult to move forward on important issues." Pastor was asked what North American leaders would need to do to move toward integration. "We need to form a customs union to move North American integration to a new level," Pastor argued. "A customs union would eliminate rules of origin on the border and agree to a common external tariff. This would not be easy but not as difficult as NAFTA was, and it would lead to efficiencies in our economies and in the end contribute to a better standard of living for all parties." Pastor also called for a North American Investment Fund to invest in Mexico's infrastructure. "If we had a North American Investment Fund," Pastor explained, "over the long term, you would narrow the income gap between Mexico and the U.S." WND previously reported Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, dropped his support for legislation (S. 3622) he introduced in the 109th Congress to create a North American Investment Fund after WND pointed out the proposed law would advance an important part of Pastor's agenda to create a North American Community. Pastor was careful to distinguish that his proposals were designed to create a North American Community and that he never has proposed to create a North American Union as an EU-style regional government. "What I am recommending is a series of functional steps that are more than incremental," Pastor admitted. "Each of the proposals I have laid out represent more than just small steps. But it doesn't represent a leap toward a North American Union, or even to some confederation of any kind. I don't think either is plausible, necessary, or even helpful to contemplate at this stage." The idea seems to be to put new structures in place that change the look of the landscape. WND pointed out to Pastor that this step-by-step approach is the same approach taken to create the European Union. The memoirs of Jean Monnet, regarded as the architect of European unity, finally disclosed he had used a strategy of deceit, knowing his plan to form a European Union would never succeed if it were openly disclosed. Pastor was asked if he thought a North American Union was a bad idea. "No," he replied. "I don't think a political union of North America is an inherently bad idea, nor do I think it is a good idea for North America right now. I teach a course at American University in which I look at the different options for political integration of North America, and I put the options before the students." Then why is a North American Union a bad idea right now? "The reason the political integration is not a good idea at this stage now, perhaps never, is because of people like yourself who immediately begin to fear that their sense of America could disappear," Pastor responded. "Somehow, if you're fearful that America's sovereignty will disappear, you won't even take small steps forward. You just get mired in the status quo. The problem is that the world is moving very rapidly, and you can't stay competitive if you don't move." Pastor did not reject the idea that a North American Union could form, but only after further continental economic integration and the development of a North American Community in which people are able to think as citizens of North America. Is China the winner in the NAFTA super-corridors being planned for North America? "If you define trade in zero-sum terms, China may be the winner in the transportation corridors," Pastor conceded. "But even in zero-sum terms, consumers benefit from the increasing imports that give them more choice and give them more quality. In the final analysis, we are all consumers." Pastor affirmed he favors globalism. "I believe," he explained to WND, "that globalization is a net plus for the world economy, for the middle class, and for all people." http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53378
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Analysts: Dollar collapse would result in 'amero'

Think deep recession likely regardless of Fed's actions Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal Psalms 16:4 The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips. WORLDNETDAILY - By Jerome R. Corsi - December 13, 2006 -- Two analysts who have reconstructed money supply data after the Fed stopped publishing it argue a coming dollar collapse will set the stage for creating the amero as a North American currency to replace the dollar. The reconstructed M3 data – the broadest measure of money – published on econometrician Gary Kuever's website, NowAndFutures.com, shows M3 increased at a rate of 11 percent in May, compared to 9 percent when the Federal Reserve quit publishing M3 data earlier this year. Asked why the Fed decided to stop publishing M3 data, Kuever told WND, "The Fed probably wants to hide how much liquidity is being pumped into the market, and I expect the trend to keep pumping liquidity into the market will continue, especially since the economy is slowing down." Why is this important? "The trend line in my M3-plus-debt chart is staggering," Kuever said. "There has been a straight, long-term trend line of M3-plus-credit increasing since 2000. Long-term, we are creating inflation and the dollar has lost almost 98 percent of its value in the past 100 years." Kuever, a retired investor, is concerned that with growing budget and trade deficits "the dollar could collapse." "Especially if the Fed cannot increase rates, because we have already entered a recession," he said. Bob Chapman, who issued a reconstructed M3 estimate to the 100,000 subscribers to his newsletter, "The International Forecaster", agrees. "The world is awash in money and credit," Chapman told WND. "My numbers show M3 increasing at about a 10-percent rate right now." Chapman believes the U.S. economy entered a recession in February. In his newsletter of Dec. 9 he predicted the Fed would hold interest rates at 5.25 percent. "The Fed is in a very tough spot here," Chapman wrote, "If they raise rates, the real estate market will collapse, and if they lower rates, the dollar will collapse." Meeting yesterday, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee voted, as Chapman had predicted, to hold the overnight lending rates between banks steady at 5.25 percent. This was the fourth straight meeting the Fed had voted not to change rates. In its rate announcement, the Fed affirmed the economy had slowed. Almost immediately after the announcement of the Fed's decision, the dollar weakened to a new 20-month low against the euro, with currency markets reportedly pricing in the expectation the Fed will be forced to lower rates next year to bolster the economy. Following the announcement by the Fed, the U.S. Dollar Index, or USDX, also dropped, with the dollar going below 83. A dollar collapse is imminent, Chapman declared. "Technicians studying the USDX think there is a support level for the dollar at 75, but I don't think so." How low could the dollar go? "If the dollar breaks through 78.33 on the USDX," Chapman answered, "my guess is the dollar will go through a 35-percent correction, which would put it at 55." "The key in how low the dollar goes is the interest rates," Chapman told WND. "In January, the Fed is going to have to make a decision which way to go. If Fed rates go up, the dollar will hold in the 78.33 range, but the stock market and the economy will tank. If next year the Fed lowers rates to keep the economy from crashing, the bottom will fall out of the dollar, and I see it going as low as 55. Once the dollar hits bottom, it will take the stock market and the economy right with it anyway. The Fed is in a box they can't get out of." As WND reported earlier this week, in an unusual move, the Bush administration is sending virtually the entire economic "A-team" to visit China for a "strategic economic dialogue" in Beijing Thursday and Friday. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are leading the delegation, along with five other cabinet-level officials, including Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. Also in the delegation will be Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. But Chapman doubts the trip will help the Fed to engineer a slow dollar slide. "The Chinese are going to do what the Chinese want to do, not what we want them to do," he said. "I believe the Chinese are going to send Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed Chairman Bernanke home packing, with little or nothing to show for the trip." How severe will the coming dollar collapse be? "People in the U.S. are going to be hit hard," Chapman warned. "In the severe recession we are entering now, Bush will argue that we have to form a North American Union to compete with the Euro." "Creating the amero," Chapman explained, "will be presented to the American public as the administration's solution for dollar recovery. In the process of creating the amero, the Bush administration just abandons the dollar." http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53350
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

U.S. dollar facing imminent collapse?

Fed in bind as Paulsen, Bernanke head to China Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal Revelation 18:17a for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!'... WORLDNETDAILY - By Jerome R. Corsi - December 10, 2006 -- Even as the stock market is hitting new record highs almost every day, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department are quietly coordinating a devaluation of the dollar that the Bush administration hopes will be a slow decline rather than a dollar collapse. This week, in an unusual move, the Bush administration is sending virtually the entire economic "A-team" to visit China for a "strategic economic dialogue" in Beijing Dec. 14 and 15. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are leading the delegation, along with five other cabinet-level officials, including Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. Also in the delegation will be Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. The Bush administration wants to get China's cooperation in preventing a dollar collapse. That's the conclusion of John Williams, an experienced professional econometrician, who writes the "Shadow Government Statistics" blog. Williams has re-created M3, a money-supply measure whose data the Federal Reserve simply stopped publishing after issuing a technically worded March 2006 announcement. Williams reports M3 is currently growing at close to a 9.6 percent rate and trending higher, compared with an 8 percent rate early this year, when the Fed quit reporting the measure. "The Fed is pumping liquidity into the U.S. economy," Williams told WND, "and the Fed evidently did not want the markets to follow too closely what the Fed was doing with the money supply." China today now is holding a historically unprecedented $1 trillion in foreign exchange reserves. During the Thanksgiving holiday, an announcement by China that their central bank planned to diversify foreign-exchange holding away from the dollar caused the dollar to drop in value on international currency markets. Since then, the dollar has hit a 20-month low against the euro. "This was almost an orchestrated announcement," Williams claimed. "Around Thanksgiving the markets were thinly traded. I'm not sure who was playing games there, but the signal was clearly heard." "You're dealing with mass psychology here," Williams argued. "The central bankers around the world know they are going to take a hit on their dollar holdings. None of the central bankers want to start a dollar panic, but none of the central bankers want to be the last out of the dollar, either." Williams explained that the Federal Reserve is in a bind. "Raising rates would kill any chance of avoiding a recession, but in terms of the dollar, we can't raise the rates fast enough when the dollar starts to slip quickly." Are we experiencing a dollar collapse? "Not yet," Williams answered. "I believe we're going to have a dollar collapse, but the Fed is going to do its best to slow play the dollar's decline in value, so that it takes a year or two for the dollar value to reach its low point." Williams explained the risk of collapse the dollar faces: "There will be a central bank, most probably in Asia, who will start the move away from the dollar and when it happens, you're going to see other central bankers covertly trying to follow. The move will magnify very quickly and it could become a full-fledged panic and a dollar collapse." The Fed is struggling right now to contain inflation and stimulate economic growth. All the Fed is doing right now with all their grand policy shifts is using a lot of propaganda and market massaging to try to prevent a financial panic." Recent reports have shown that U.S. gross domestic product growth slowed to 1.6% in the third quarter, the lowest in more than 3 years. Will a declining dollar help narrow the U.S. trade deficit with China? "You could take a 30 percent decline in the value of the dollar," Williams argued, "and it wouldn't make much of a dent in our trade deficit with China, not as long as Bush administration trade policy continues to be one-sided in favor of China." "The Fed is faced with an impossible circumstance with the trade and budget deficits being run by the Bush administration," Williams told WND, "and they are just playing games with the markets and the public by not publishing M3, the broadest measure of money supply and the best indicator we have of long-term activity." M3 is the broadest measure of the total money in the economy, including checking and savings accounts, cash, time deposits, and money-market funds. Economist Milton Friedman, one of the key economists contributing to the conservative theories that led to the development of "Reaganomics," argued that money supply is a key measure correlated both with economic growth and inflation. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53311
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The Proposed Iranian Oil Bourse

Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal / The prince of the kingdom of Persia Ezekiel 28:16a "By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence,.... Editorial Note: This article originally appeared in the April 14, 2006 edition of Moriel's Be Alert! email newsletter. ENERGY BULLETIN - Published on January 18, 2006 - by Krassimir Petrov I. Economics of Empires A nation-state taxes its own citizens, while an empire taxes other nation-states. The history of empires, from Greek and Roman, to Ottoman and British, teaches that the economic foundation of every single empire is the taxation of other nations. The imperial ability to tax has always rested on a better and stronger economy, and as a consequence, a better and stronger military. One part of the subject taxes went to improve the living standards of the empire; the other part went to strengthen the military dominance necessary to enforce the collection of those taxes. Historically, taxing the subject state has been in various forms—usually gold and silver, where those were considered money, but also slaves, soldiers, crops, cattle, or other agricultural and natural resources, whatever economic goods the empire demanded and the subject-state could deliver. Historically, imperial taxation has always been direct: the subject state handed over the economic goods directly to the empire. For the first time in history, in the twentieth century, America was able to tax the world indirectly, through inflation. It did not enforce the direct payment of taxes like all of its predecessor empires did, but distributed instead its own fiat currency, the U.S. Dollar, to other nations in exchange for goods with the intended consequence of inflating and devaluing those dollars and paying back later each dollar with less economic goods—the difference capturing the U.S. imperial tax. Here is how this happened. Early in the 20th century, the U.S. economy began to dominate the world economy. The U.S. dollar was tied to gold, so that the value of the dollar neither increased, nor decreased, but remained the same amount of gold. The Great Depression, with its preceding inflation from 1921 to 1929 and its subsequent ballooning government deficits, had substantially increased the amount of currency in circulation, and thus rendered the backing of U.S. dollars by gold impossible. This led Roosevelt to decouple the dollar from gold in 1932. Up to this point, the U.S. may have well dominated the world economy, but from an economic point of view, it was not an empire. The fixed value of the dollar did not allow the Americans to extract economic benefits from other countries by supplying them with dollars convertible to gold. Economically, the American Empire was born with Bretton Woods in 1945. The U.S. dollar was not fully convertible to gold, but was made convertible to gold only to foreign governments. This established the dollar as the reserve currency of the world. It was possible, because during WWII, the United States had supplied its allies with provisions, demanding gold as payment, thus accumulating significant portion of the world’s gold. An Empire would not have been possible if, following the Bretton Woods arrangement, the dollar supply was kept limited and within the availability of gold, so as to fully exchange back dollars for gold. However, the guns-and-butter policy of the 1960’s was an imperial one: the dollar supply was relentlessly increased to finance Vietnam and LBJ’s Great Society. Most of those dollars were handed over to foreigners in exchange for economic goods, without the prospect of buying them back at the same value. The increase in dollar holdings of foreigners via persistent U.S. trade deficits was tantamount to a tax—the classical inflation tax that a country imposes on its own citizens, this time around an inflation tax that U.S. imposed on rest of the world. When in 1970-1971 foreigners demanded payment for their dollars in gold, The U.S. Government defaulted on its payment on August 15, 1971. While the popular spin told the story of “severing the link between the dollar and gold”, in reality the denial to pay back in gold was an act of bankruptcy by the U.S. Government. Essentially, the U.S. declared itself an Empire. It had extracted an enormous amount of economic goods from the rest of the world, with no intention or ability to return those goods, and the world was powerless to respond— the world was taxed and it could not do anything about it. From that point on, to sustain the American Empire and to continue to tax the rest of the world, the United States had to force the world to continue to accept ever-depreciating dollars in exchange for economic goods and to have the world hold more and more of those depreciating dollars. It had to give the world an economic reason to hold them, and that reason was oil. In 1971, as it became clearer and clearer that the U.S Government would not be able to buy back its dollars in gold, it made in 1972-73 an iron-clad arrangement with Saudi Arabia to support the power of the House of Saud in exchange for accepting only U.S. dollars for its oil. The rest of OPEC was to follow suit and also accept only dollars. Because the world had to buy oil from the Arab oil countries, it had the reason to hold dollars as payment for oil. Because the world needed ever increasing quantities of oil at ever increasing oil prices, the world’s demand for dollars could only increase. Even though dollars could no longer be exchanged for gold, they were now exchangeable for oil. The economic essence of this arrangement was that the dollar was now backed by oil. As long as that was the case, the world had to accumulate increasing amounts of dollars, because they needed those dollars to buy oil. As long as the dollar was the only acceptable payment for oil, its dominance in the world was assured, and the American Empire could continue to tax the rest of the world. If, for any reason, the dollar lost its oil backing, the American Empire would cease to exist. Thus, Imperial survival dictated that oil be sold only for dollars. It also dictated that oil reserves were spread around various sovereign states that weren’t strong enough, politically or militarily, to demand payment for oil in something else. If someone demanded a different payment, he had to be convinced, either by political pressure or military means, to change his mind. The man that actually did demand Euro for his oil was Saddam Hussein in 2000. At first, his demand was met with ridicule, later with neglect, but as it became clearer that he meant business, political pressure was exerted to change his mind. When other countries, like Iran, wanted payment in other currencies, most notably Euro and Yen, the danger to the dollar was clear and present, and a punitive action was in order. Bush’s Shock-and-Awe in Iraq was not about Saddam’s nuclear capabilities, about defending human rights, about spreading democracy, or even about seizing oil fields; it was about defending the dollar, ergo the American Empire. It was about setting an example that anyone who demanded payment in currencies other than U.S. Dollars would be likewise punished. Many have criticized Bush for staging the war in Iraq in order to seize Iraqi oil fields. However, those critics can’t explain why Bush would want to seize those fields—he could simply print dollars for nothing and use them to get all the oil in the world that he needs. He must have had some other reason to invade Iraq. History teaches that an empire should go to war for one of two reasons: (1) to defend itself or (2) benefit from war; if not, as Paul Kennedy illustrates in his magisterial The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, a military overstretch will drain its economic resources and precipitate its collapse. Economically speaking, in order for an empire to initiate and conduct a war, its benefits must outweigh its military and social costs. Benefits from Iraqi oil fields are hardly worth the long-term, multi-year military cost. Instead, Bush must have went into Iraq to defend his Empire. Indeed, this is the case: two months after the United States invaded Iraq, the Oil for Food Program was terminated, the Iraqi Euro accounts were switched back to dollars, and oil was sold once again only for U.S. dollars. No longer could the world buy oil from Iraq with Euro. Global dollar supremacy was once again restored. Bush descended victoriously from a fighter jet and declared the mission accomplished—he had successfully defended the U.S. dollar, and thus the American Empire. II. Iranian Oil Bourse The Iranian government has finally developed the ultimate “nuclear” weapon that can swiftly destroy the financial system underpinning the American Empire. That weapon is the Iranian Oil Bourse slated to open in March 2006. It will be based on a euro-oil-trading mechanism that naturally implies payment for oil in Euro. In economic terms, this represents a much greater threat to the hegemony of the dollar than Saddam’s, because it will allow anyone willing either to buy or to sell oil for Euro to transact on the exchange, thus circumventing the U.S. dollar altogether. If so, then it is likely that almost everyone will eagerly adopt this euro oil system: · The Europeans will not have to buy and hold dollars in order to secure their payment for oil, but would instead pay with their own currencies. The adoption of the euro for oil transactions will provide the European currency with a reserve status that will benefit the European at the expense of the Americans. · The Chinese and the Japanese will be especially eager to adopt the new exchange, because it will allow them to drastically lower their enormous dollar reserves and diversify with Euros, thus protecting themselves against the depreciation of the dollar. One portion of their dollars they will still want to hold onto; a second portion of their dollar holdings they may decide to dump outright; a third portion of their dollars they will decide to use up for future payments without replenishing those dollar holdings, but building up instead their euro reserves. · The Russians have inherent economic interest in adopting the Euro – the bulk of their trade is with European countries, with oil-exporting countries, with China, and with Japan. Adoption of the Euro will immediately take care of the first two blocs, and will over time facilitate trade with China and Japan. Also, the Russians seemingly detest holding depreciating dollars, for they have recently found a new religion with gold. Russians have also revived their nationalism, and if embracing the Euro will stab the Americans, they will gladly do it and smugly watch the Americans bleed. · The Arab oil-exporting countries will eagerly adopt the Euro as a means of diversifying against rising mountains of depreciating dollars. Just like the Russians, their trade is mostly with European countries, and therefore will prefer the European currency both for its stability and for avoiding currency risk, not to mention their jihad against the Infidel Enemy. Only the British will find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They have had a strategic partnership with the U.S. forever, but have also had their natural pull from Europe. So far, they have had many reasons to stick with the winner. However, when they see their century-old partner falling, will they firmly stand behind him or will they deliver the coup de grace? Still, we should not forget that currently the two leading oil exchanges are the New York’s NYMEX and the London’s International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), even though both of them are effectively owned by the Americans. It seems more likely that the British will have to go down with the sinking ship, for otherwise they will be shooting themselves in the foot by hurting their own London IPE interests. It is here noteworthy that for all the rhetoric about the reasons for the surviving British Pound, the British most likely did not adopt the Euro namely because the Americans must have pressured them not to: otherwise the London IPE would have had to switch to Euros, thus mortally wounding the dollar and their strategic partner. At any rate, no matter what the British decide, should the Iranian Oil Bourse accelerate, the interests that matter—those of Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, and Arabs—will eagerly adopt the Euro, thus sealing the fate of the dollar. Americans cannot allow this to happen, and if necessary, will use a vast array of strategies to halt or hobble the operation’s exchange: · Sabotaging the Exchange—this could be a computer virus, network, communications, or server attack, various server security breaches, or a 9-11-type attack on main and backup facilities. · Coup d’état—this is by far the best long-term strategy available to the Americans. · Negotiating Acceptable Terms & Limitations—this is another excellent solution to the Americans. Of course, a government coup is clearly the preferred strategy, for it will ensure that the exchange does not operate at all and does not threaten American interests. However, if an attempted sabotage or coup d’etat fails, then negotiation is clearly the second-best available option. · Joint U.N. War Resolution—this will be, no doubt, hard to secure given the interests of all other member-states of the Security Council. Feverish rhetoric about Iranians developing nuclear weapons undoubtedly serves to prepare this course of action. · Unilateral Nuclear Strike—this is a terrible strategic choice for all the reasons associated with the next strategy, the Unilateral Total War. The Americans will likely use Israel to do their dirty nuclear job. · Unilateral Total War—this is obviously the worst strategic choice. First, the U.S. military resources have been already depleted with two wars. Secondly, the Americans will further alienate other powerful nations. Third, major dollar-holding countries may decide to quietly retaliate by dumping their own mountains of dollars, thus preventing the U.S. from further financing its militant ambitions. Finally, Iran has strategic alliances with other powerful nations that may trigger their involvement in war; Iran reputedly has such alliance with China, India, and Russia, known as the Shanghai Cooperative Group, a.k.a. Shanghai Coop and a separate pact with Syria. Whatever the strategic choice, from a purely economic point of view, should the Iranian Oil Bourse gain momentum, it will be eagerly embraced by major economic powers and will precipitate the demise of the dollar. The collapsing dollar will dramatically accelerate U.S. inflation and will pressure upward U.S. long-term interest rates. At this point, the Fed will find itself between Scylla and Charybdis—between deflation and hyperinflation—it will be forced fast either to take its “classical medicine” by deflating, whereby it raises interest rates, thus inducing a major economic depression, a collapse in real estate, and an implosion in bond, stock, and derivative markets, with a total financial collapse, or alternatively, to take the Weimar way out by inflating, whereby it pegs the long-bond yield, raises the Helicopters and drowns the financial system in liquidity, bailing out numerous LTCMs and hyperinflating the economy. The Austrian theory of money, credit, and business cycles teaches us that there is no in-between Scylla and Charybdis. Sooner or later, the monetary system must swing one way or the other, forcing the Fed to make its choice. No doubt, Commander-in-Chief Ben Bernanke, a renowned scholar of the Great Depression and an adept Black Hawk pilot, will choose inflation. Helicopter Ben, oblivious to Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression, has nonetheless mastered the lessons of the Great Depression and the annihilating power of deflations. The Maestro has taught him the panacea of every single financial problem—to inflate, come hell or high water. He has even taught the Japanese his own ingenious unconventional ways to battle the deflationary liquidity trap. Like his mentor, he has dreamed of battling a Kondratieff Winter. To avoid deflation, he will resort to the printing presses; he will recall all helicopters from the 800 overseas U.S. military bases; and, if necessary, he will monetize everything in sight. His ultimate accomplishment will be the hyperinflationary destruction of the American currency and from its ashes will rise the next reserve currency of the world—that barbarous relic called gold. About the Author Krassimir Petrov (Krassimir_Petrov@hotmail.com) has received his Ph. D. in economics from the Ohio State University and currently teaches Macroeconomics, International Finance, and Econometrics at the American University in Bulgaria. http://www.energybulletin.net/12125.html FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Top-Level Insiders Selling Their Stock

Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal Mark 12:17 And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him. Editorial Note: This article originally appeared in the December 9, 2006 edition of Moriel's Be Alert! email newsletter. NEW YORK POST - By Paul Tharp - December 7, 2006 -- America's corporate chiefs are unloading their own stocks at one of the boldest paces in 20 years. In cases of the very rich, such as Microsoft's Bill Gates and Google's top brass, the executives are selling a whopping $63 for each $1 of stock they bought, says a report by Bloomberg. In November alone, leaders of public companies dumped $8.4 billion worth of stock they owned as insiders, most of it awarded as compensation, bonuses or other management incentives. But the vast majority of the executives put their windfall cash to work elsewhere, with just $133 million being plowed back into purchases of more company stock. Analysts say a take-the-money-and-run flight from their own companies signals a growing lack of confidence in the economy's future course, as well as fears of a possible global meltdown if the Iraq crisis escalates across borders. It's also a good time to take profits, with the Dow Jones industrial average up nearly 15 percent this year, the S&P 500 ahead 13 percent, and the Nasdaq 11 percent higher. Wall Street investors are displaying fresh worries that the Federal Reserve might pull the trigger too quickly on hiking rates again, possibly plunging the U.S. into a recession as the Fed did in 2000. Just before the worst of the 2000 recession, insider sales were also at a near record. Leading the latest wave of insider selling is Microsoft, with $594.2 million of stock sold by insiders during November, with Gates unloading $581.1 million. Gates has been selling shares regularly - including $2.1 billion last year - as he whittles down his once mammoth stake, putting a big chunk of his wealth to work in a not-for-profit foundation that invests in a wide range of securities and other deals. Billionaire Paul Allen also sold off 28 percent of his stake last month in DreamWorks Animation SKG for $224.2 million, keeping about 21 million shares. Insiders at Seagate sold $311.8 million in November, while Google insiders unloaded $182.1 million in the four weeks. Google's CEO Eric Schmidt and its co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have usually led the insider-selling parade with sales of hundreds of millions as the stock rose steadily to break the $500 mark http://www.nypost.com/seven/12072006/business/top_level_insiders_selling_their_stock_business_paul_tharp.htm FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Dollar's sharp fall revives fears of global economic imbalances

Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal Proverbs 16:16 How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver. Editorial Note: This article originally appeared in the December 9, 2006 edition of Moriel's Be Alert! email newsletter. AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - By Amelie Herenstein - December 4, 2006 -- PARIS - A sharp fall in the dollar over the past two weeks has revived fears among analysts that major imbalances in the gloabl economy could trigger a far-reaching financial crisis if they intensify. The dollar is on a slide against most of the developed world's principal currencies -- notably the euro, the pound sterling and the Swiss franc -- as well as gold. In Asian trading on Monday the euro surged to its strongest reading against the greenback -- 1.3367 dollars -- since March 2005. The single European currency has shot up 11 percent against the dollar since the start of the year. Antoine Brunet, an economist at the HSBC bank here, said the dollar's plunge suggested that "we have once again entered a dangerous turbulent zone on exchange markets". The weakening trend was in part triggered by comments last month from People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan that were seen as heralding a possible shift in some of the bank's massive foreign currency reserve holdings away from the dollar. Adding to the pressure were indications of an economic slowdown in the United States, holding out prospects for a cut in US interest rates by the Federal Reserve at a time when rates are seen rising in the eurozone and Japan. Those factors have sparked heavy capital movement that is unfavorable to the dollar, according to analyst Olivier Bizimana at the French bank Credit Agricole. At the same time, he warned, there is a conviction that "current imbalances cannot continue", a reference to a situation in which countries such as Japan and China that have huge current account surpluses finance big current deficits carried by the United States. The current account is a broad measure covering a country's trade in goods and services as well as certain financial transfers. What economists fear in particular is that a deep-seated crisis of confidence in the dollar, as well as the US economy, could lead to a disruptive and dramatic sale of US assets by foreigners. That could prompt the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, thereby threatening economic recoveries in the United States and elsewhere.... http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20061204/ts_alt_afp/worldeconomyforex_061204140040 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

US setbacks see dollar plunge to near 15-year low

Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt. Editorial Note: This article originally appeared in the December 9, 2006 edition of Moriel's Be Alert! email newsletter. LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH - By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard – November 29, 2006 -- The dollar tumbled to a near a 15-year low against sterling yesterday on fresh signs of economic trouble in the United States. An 8.3pc crash in US industrial orders and an admission by the Federal Reserve chairman that Washington does not know how bad housing really is set off another day of wild gyrations on the currency markets. US house prices fell 3.5pc to an average $221,000, the third month of declines. Stocks of unsold homes rose to 7.4 months' supply, the highest since 1993. The US consumer confidence index fell sharply to 102.9. The "truckers index" of tonnage shipped by US haulage companies was down 1.8pc in October, a leading indicator of contraction. Merrill Lynch called the fall "borderline recessionary". The dollar continued its slide against the euro, dropping to $1.3194 after the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, said the housing slump "would be a drag on economic growth into next year". Mr Bernanke said official figures did not pick up the "sharp increase" in cancellations on house deals and might understate the inventory glut. "Any significant effect on consumer spending arising from further weakness in housing would have important implications for the economy," he said. … [more] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2006/11/29/cndollar29.xml FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Wall Street's wild windfall

Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Editorial Note: This article originally appeared in the December 9, 2006 edition of Moriel's Be Alert! email newsletter. Earnings help NYC cut estimated deficit as brokerages' $36B in bonuses prime pump for luxury-goods sales BLOOMBERG NEWS - November 7, 2006 -- Never in the history of Wall Street have so many earned so much in so little time. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos. are about to reward their 173,000 employees with $36 billion in bonuses. That's a 30 percent increase from last year's record, and it doesn't include the billions more that will be paid by Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., the three largest U.S. banks, as well as the hundreds of hedge funds and private-equity firms that constitute the financial industry. Enriched by the unprecedented value of takeovers, equity trading and credit derivatives, "this year will be the best ever for the major brokerage firms," said Brad Hintz, an analyst at Manhattan-based Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. The average windfall for each individual at the five largest U.S. securities firms will be enough to buy a $165,000 Bentley Continental GT, the two-door coupe favored by Paris Hilton and Cher. They'll have plenty of change for a box of Romeo y Julieta cigars and a case of Pol Roger champagne - the stuff enjoyed by Winston Churchill, Britain's prime minister in the 1940s and 1950s. Credit-default swap specialists, who speculate on companies' ability to repay debt, won't be the only winners this year. New York City cut the estimate for its budget deficit by 87 percent last week, in part because of the investment banks' better-than-expected earnings. The state comptroller's office said Oct. 17 that tax receipts from the financial industry's wages will rise 14 percent, to $2.4 billion in fiscal 2006. Dolly Lenz, Manhattan's doyenne of high-end properties, is timing some of her best listings to coincide with bonus season. Ever since the 1970s, the UJA-Federation of New York has held its annual bankers' fundraiser on the first Wednesday in December, the date when Bear Stearns told employees what their bonuses would be. "When Wall Street does well, we do well," said Richard Koppelman, owner of Greenwich, Conn.-based Miller Motorcars. Koppelman is readying a $150,000 red 2005 Ferrari 360 Modena F1 convertible for a customer who will be getting his first bonus since graduating two years ago from business school. Leveraged-buyout firms attracted more than $170 billion in new money this year, helping to drive $2.9 trillion in takeovers and a surge in loans, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and London-based Private Equity Intelligence Ltd. More than $110 billion poured into hedge funds in the first nine months, beating the last annual peak in 2002 and fueling demand for stocks, bonds, commodities and derivatives, which are used to hedge risks and for speculation. Combined, Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Merrill, Lehman and Bear Stearns earned $21.3billion in the first nine months of 2006, surpassing 2005's full-year record of $20.4 billion. Year-end rewards at top-5 firms The following table shows the calculations for total and average bonuses for each of the five biggest U.S. securities firms, based on estimated revenue, compensation and benefits, and number of employees. Firm Total Total Bonus Average Average revenue* compen pool* Employees Compensation Bonus sation* Goldman $35.7 $16.9 $10.2 25,647 $658,946 $397,707 Morgan $33.6 $14.0 $8.4 54,349 $257,594 $154,556 Merrill $32.5 $16.1 $9.7 55,300 $291,139 $174,683 Lehman $17.4 $8.7 $5.2 24,775 $351,160 $210,696 Bear $9.0 $4.4 $2.6 13,000 $338,462 $203,077 *(in billions) How the figures were calculated:Total revenue: Average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. Total compensation: Estimated revenue multiplied by the average ratio of compensation to revenue. Bonus pool: 60 percent of estimated total compensation. Employees: Total number of full-time employees reported at the end of the third quarter. Average compensation: Estimated compensation divided by total number of employees. Average bonus: Estimated bonus pool divided by total employees. SOURCE: BLOOMBERG NEWS Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc. http://www.newsday.com/business/ny-bzbonu074964689nov07,0,271479,print.story?coll=ny-business-print FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

GAO Chief Warns Economic Disaster Looms

Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal Matthew 6:19-20 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;... Editorial Note: This article originally appeared in the December 9, 2006 edition of Moriel's Be Alert! email newsletter. ASSOCIATED PRESS - By Matt Crenson - October 28, 2006 -- AUSTIN, Texas -- David M. Walker sure talks like he's running for office. "This is about the future of our country, our kids and grandkids," the comptroller general of the United States warns a packed hall at Austin's historic Driskill Hotel. "We the people have to rise up to make sure things get changed." But Walker doesn't want, or need, your vote this November. He already has a job as head of the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress that audits and evaluates the performance of the federal government. Basically, that makes Walker the nation's accountant-in-chief. And the accountant-in-chief's professional opinion is that the American public needs to tell Washington it's time to steer the nation off the path to financial ruin. From the hustings and the airwaves this campaign season, America's political class can be heard debating Capitol Hill sex scandals, the wisdom of the war in Iraq and which party is tougher on terror. Democrats and Republicans talk of cutting taxes to make life easier for the American people. What they don't talk about is a dirty little secret everyone in Washington knows, or at least should. The vast majority of economists and budget analysts agree: The ship of state is on a disastrous course, and will founder on the reefs of economic disaster if nothing is done to correct it. There's a good reason politicians don't like to talk about the nation's long-term fiscal prospects. The subject is short on political theatrics and long on complicated economics, scary graphs and very big numbers. It reveals serious problems and offers no easy solutions. Anybody who wanted to deal with it seriously would have to talk about raising taxes and cutting benefits, nasty nostrums that might doom any candidate who prescribed them. "There's no sexiness to it," laments Leita Hart-Fanta, an accountant who has just heard Walker's pitch. She suggests recruiting a trusted celebrity - maybe Oprah - to sell fiscal responsibility to the American people. Walker doesn't want to make balancing the federal government's books sexy - he just wants to make it politically palatable. He has committed to touring the nation through the 2008 elections, talking to anybody who will listen about the fiscal black hole Washington has dug itself, the "demographic tsunami" that will come when the baby boom generation begins retiring and the recklessness of borrowing money from foreign lenders to pay for the operation of the U.S. government. "He can speak forthrightly and independently because his job is not in jeopardy if he tells the truth," said Isabel V. Sawhill, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution. Walker can talk in public about the nation's impending fiscal crisis because he has one of the most secure jobs in Washington. As comptroller general of the United States - basically, the government's chief accountant - he is serving a 15-year term that runs through 2013. This year Walker has spoken to the Union League Club of Chicago and the Rotary Club of Atlanta, the Sons of the American Revolution and the World Future Society. But the backbone of his campaign has been the Fiscal Wake-up Tour, a traveling roadshow of economists and budget analysts who share Walker's concern for the nation's budgetary future. "You can't solve a problem until the majority of the people believe you have a problem that needs to be solved," Walker says. Polls suggest that Americans have only a vague sense of their government's long-term fiscal prospects. When pollsters ask Americans to name the most important problem facing America today - as a CBS News/New York Times poll of 1,131 Americans did in September - issues such as the war in Iraq, terrorism, jobs and the economy are most frequently mentioned. The deficit doesn't even crack the top 10. Yet on the rare occasions that pollsters ask directly about the deficit, at least some people appear to recognize it as a problem. In a survey of 807 Americans last year by the Pew Center for the People and the Press, 42 percent of respondents said reducing the deficit should be a top priority; another 38 percent said it was important but a lower priority. So the majority of the public appears to agree with Walker that the deficit is a serious problem, but only when they're made to think about it. Walker's challenge is to get people not just to think about it, but to pressure politicians to make the hard choices that are needed to keep the situation from spiraling out of control. To show that the looming fiscal crisis is not a partisan issue, he brings along economists and budget analysts from across the political spectrum. In Austin, he's accompanied by Diane Lim Rogers, a liberal economist from the Brookings Institution, and Alison Acosta Fraser, director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "We all agree on what the choices are and what the numbers are," Fraser says. Their basic message is this: If the United States government conducts business as usual over the next few decades, a national debt that is already $8.5 trillion could reach $46 trillion or more, adjusted for inflation. That's almost as much as the total net worth of every person in America - Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and those Google guys included. A hole that big could paralyze the U.S. economy; according to some projections, just the interest payments on a debt that big would be as much as all the taxes the government collects today. And every year that nothing is done about it, Walker says, the problem grows by $2 trillion to $3 trillion. People who remember Ross Perot's rants in the 1992 presidential election may think of the federal debt as a problem of the past. But it never really went away after Perot made it an issue, it only took a breather. The federal government actually produced a surplus for a few years during the 1990s, thanks to a booming economy and fiscal restraint imposed by laws that were passed early in the decade. And though the federal debt has grown in dollar terms since 2001, it hasn't grown dramatically relative to the size of the economy. But that's about to change, thanks to the country's three big entitlement programs - Social Security, Medicaid and especially Medicare. Medicaid and Medicare have grown progressively more expensive as the cost of health care has dramatically outpaced inflation over the past 30 years, a trend that is expected to continue for at least another decade or two. And with the first baby boomers becoming eligible for Social Security in 2008 and for Medicare in 2011, the expenses of those two programs are about to increase dramatically due to demographic pressures. People are also living longer, which makes any program that provides benefits to retirees more expensive. Medicare already costs four times as much as it did in 1970, measured as a percentage of the nation's gross domestic product. It currently comprises 13 percent of federal spending; by 2030, the Congressional Budget Office projects it will consume nearly a quarter of the budget. Economists Jagadeesh Gokhale of the American Enterprise Institute and Kent Smetters of the University of Pennsylvania have an even scarier way of looking at Medicare. Their method calculates the program's long-term fiscal shortfall - the annual difference between its dedicated revenues and costs - over time. By 2030 they calculate Medicare will be about $5 trillion in the hole, measured in 2004 dollars. By 2080, the fiscal imbalance will have risen to $25 trillion. And when you project the gap out to an infinite time horizon, it reaches $60 trillion. Medicare so dominates the nation's fiscal future that some economists believe health care reform, rather than budget measures, is the best way to attack the problem. "Obviously health care is a mess," says Dean Baker, a liberal economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington think tank. "No one's been willing to touch it, but that's what I see as front and center." Social Security is a much less serious problem. The program currently pays for itself with a 12.4 percent payroll tax, and even produces a surplus that the government raids every year to pay other bills. But Social Security will begin to run deficits during the next century, and ultimately would need an infusion of $8 trillion if the government planned to keep its promises to every beneficiary. Calculations by Boston University economist Lawrence Kotlikoff indicate that closing those gaps - $8 trillion for Social Security, many times that for Medicare - and paying off the existing deficit would require either an immediate doubling of personal and corporate income taxes, a two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits, or some combination of the two. Why is America so fiscally unprepared for the next century? Like many of its citizens, the United States has spent the last few years racking up debt instead of saving for the future. Foreign lenders - primarily the central banks of China, Japan and other big U.S. trading partners - have been eager to lend the government money at low interest rates, making the current $8.5-trillion deficit about as painful as a big balance on a zero-percent credit card. In her part of the fiscal wake-up tour presentation, Rogers tries to explain why that's a bad thing. For one thing, even when rates are low a bigger deficit means a greater portion of each tax dollar goes to interest payments rather than useful programs. And because foreigners now hold so much of the federal government's debt, those interest payments increasingly go overseas rather than to U.S. investors. More serious is the possibility that foreign lenders might lose their enthusiasm for lending money to the United States. Because treasury bills are sold at auction, that would mean paying higher interest rates in the future. And it wouldn't just be the government's problem. All interest rates would rise, making mortgages, car payments and student loans costlier, too. A modest rise in interest rates wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, Rogers said. America's consumers have as much of a borrowing problem as their government does, so higher rates could moderate overconsumption and encourage consumer saving. But a big jump in interest rates could cause economic catastrophe. Some economists even predict the government would resort to printing money to pay off its debt, a risky strategy that could lead to runaway inflation. Macroeconomic meltdown is probably preventable, says Anjan Thakor, a professor of finance at Washington University in St. Louis. But to keep it at bay, he said, the government is essentially going to have to renegotiate some of the promises it has made to its citizens, probably by some combination of tax increases and benefit cuts. But there's no way to avoid what Rogers considers the worst result of racking up a big deficit - the outrage of making our children and grandchildren repay the debts of their elders. "It's an unfair burden for future generations," she says. You'd think young people would be riled up over this issue, since they're the ones who will foot the bill when they're out in the working world. But students take more interest in issues like the Iraq war and gay marriage than the federal government's finances, says Emma Vernon, a member of the University of Texas Young Democrats. "It's not something that can fire people up," she says. The current political climate doesn't help. Washington tends to keep its fiscal house in better order when one party controls Congress and the other is in the White House, says Sawhill. "It's kind of a paradoxical result. Your commonsense logic would tell you if one party is in control of everything they should be able to take action," Sawhill says. But the last six years of Republican rule have produced tax cuts, record spending increases and a Medicare prescription drug plan that has been widely criticized as fiscally unsound. When President Clinton faced a Republican Congress during the 1990s, spending limits and other legislative tools helped produce a surplus. So maybe a solution is at hand. "We're likely to have at least partially divided government again," Sawhill said, referring to predictions that the Democrats will capture the House, and possibly the Senate, in next month's elections. But Walker isn't optimistic that the government will be able to tackle its fiscal challenges so soon. "Realistically what we hope to accomplish through the fiscal wake-up tour is ensure that any serious candidate for the presidency in 2008 will be forced to deal with the issue," he says. "The best we're going to get in the next couple of years is to slow the bleeding." http://apnews.myway.com/article/20061028/D8L1OC5G0.html FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Investors warned of post-election disaster

Alert Focus: Mammon / The Third Seal Revelation 6:5-6 When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine." Editorial Note: This article originally appeared in the December 9, 2006 edition of Moriel's Be Alert! email newsletter. Central banks caught in gold squeeze may crush dollar WORLDNETDAILY - By David Bradshaw - October 30, 2006 -- The founder the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee says the U.S. government's so-called "Plunge Protection Team" is helping prop up the U.S. economy, dollar and stock market – until Election Day. Then, says Bill Murphy, "all hell could break loose" as the government's "strong-dollar policy" completely breaks down and is exposed as nothing more than a "keep-gold-weak policy." For the last seven years, Murphy says, GATA has pounded the table, insisting to the world the gold market is manipulated, but government leaders, the banking establishment and their captive financial press have refused to debate the issue, dismissing it as "conspiratorial" nonsense. But Murphy contends "GATA has proof on the public record that central bank gold reserves on deposit are only half of the 32,000 tons they officially claim to hold and are now starting to hit the wall as gold prices keep rising." Murphy sees a "convergence" coming in the gold market between the rising physical demand for gold and shrinking mining output and supply – with the gold price "management" by central banks caught in the squeeze. The Wall Street Journal reports, "Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a Wall Street veteran has reinvigorated the President's 'Working Group on Financial Markets' (PPT), which includes heads of the Fed, SEC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission." "Gold prices could double to $1,200 per ounce in the short term to then run up as high as $3,000 per ounce over the next five years," Murphy told WND founder Joseph Farah in an exclusive interview this week, now available to WND readers on CD. Hear a 90-second clip of the CD. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52650 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.