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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Friday, January 30, 2009

Where to begin.. it's been an eventful weekend..
Couple of International swipes at Barak.. somewhat simple problems to guage the new Team..
North Korea's cancelled everal agreements with South Korea.. a blow to the American efforts to reduce North Korea's nuclear debvelopment..
Pakitan has sent warnings to the US about incursions into Pakistani territory to root al Q'aeda out of their training camps.. They want it to stop, and has demanded an apology from Mumbai for suggesting Pakistan Intelligence might have ties to the recent bombings..
And, the economic forcasts for both are not what they should be.. taking the population figures.. the distribution of Western lifestyles will be miniscule.. with the vast majority still leading the same lifestyle their parents and grandparents lived..
A case of ..'Rome not being built in a day' having become a forgotten aphorism..
Ah honest day's work for an honest day's work being another'..
'You get what you pay for'.. 'There ain't no such thing as a feww lunch..' another couple of ethical standards neede replacing 'the government will take care of it..' while we watch, in high definition and cinema surroundsound.. the collapse of this very way of life for the majority of us..

We pin impossible hopes on a man, perhaps for the simple reason that he the first of his kind, a mixed race full-blooded American boy.. we're counting a man, untried but charismatic, to juggle the myriad reports of a myriad advisors, who conststently hitting Dilomatic and Economic home runs.. a Ken Griffey/Jose Canseco/Nolan Ryan combination..
And one wonders how long the American man on the street will allow for foreign triples/sagging stats/European pop-ups.. what we here would call 'common cock-ups'.. something, having a long-time relationshp with Europe, the protocol of which we are accustomed to..
But it has been a segregated economic comfort zone we've seemed to have adopted.. with some adapting the coming 'New World Order' it would seem we're being herded towards a grey world.. an elitist group will pull the strings, and we will accept that there are many shades of grey, with differing pay scales, and count ourselves lucky to be working..
For others it will mean the first discipline they've ever been forced into..
Others will find it demeaning, and while understanding the necessity of it all, will murmur..
And for others, it will be dropping off the grid..
Whatever course this takes..gods allowing.. that there is something left to pull from the rubble..
A worse case scenario perhaps..

and pauvre French..
A million in the streets around the country, protesting the Conservative government of Nicholas.. rising cost of living.. increasing unempoyment.. student unrest.. and unanimous coveting of his wife.. and his lifestyle..
France is suffering badly because of the inflation of the Euro.. as is Germany.. as will all the members of that hegemony..
And Gordon turned our Gold Reserve into Euro's in 1999.. Well done there..

It was David's turn..ahh, the British pm that is.. in Davos yesterday..
His emphasis seemed to be 'standing up to big business'.. which begs the question: how much pressure is applied by big business on important legislation..?'
Actually, that could be taken as rhetorical..
David said all the right things.. more capital for small and emerging for the somewhat larger employers to keep them in business.. morgage our children's future just a tad deeper while insisting we'll pay it all back, with interest, during the next boom..
But we've never heard that before..

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A touchy situation developing between India and Pakistan.. with Pakistani police announcing the arrests of the men.. all Pakistani nationals.. who had been working for the Indian intelligence agency. They're charged in connection with a bombing in 2006 in retaliation for the bombing in Mumbai last year that took more than 160 victim..
Tensions have been growing lately between the two countries..
And they're both nuclear powers..

It's not been a good week for the average working man or woman.. Seven days of wondering if their company would be the next to start handing out pink slips..
Record numbers in the US, with 4.78% of the workforce registering for the dole..
Highest since 1967, and with companies cutting corners and staff.. it would be reasonable to expect that we're not finished with this ride yet..
After having batted the problem out a few others, it would appear that we could be in for a 15 to 15 year struggle to what will be a somewhat different idea of what is considered 'normal'.. with some of those out of the box implying that we're looking at a chrysalytic 'New World Order'..
If, should that be the case, one can only hope it's not tiered to representation by population..
What was unanimous was the world we're living in today, is perhaps the most interesting of any so far in our brief history.. mind you that brought on some spontaneous laughter as well..

The French have a reputation of dealing harshly with those who they feel have governed badly..
A 'For What It's Worth' in Paris these past couple of days.. unions.. students.. the unemployed.. the disillusioned and the desperate all taking to the streets to vent..
It's a bootless occupation, with the French, along with the rest of the EU, are in official recession.. with a couple of the Member States forecasting a situation close to the 'Big D' next year..
Thank all the various gods that Britain isn't tied to the Euro.. but Gordon did let slip that one of the moves he made when he sold our gold reserves when the commodity was at one of it's dips, was to invest in Euro's..
When, one wonders, will Gordon start to dump those while they're still at an inflated rate of exchange..
Before the bottom falls out, one would hope..

All we can really do, on an individual basis, is ride the wave and have faith that this generation of Puppeteers has a workable plan in mind..
It's all part of the Game, after all..

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Even the venerable IMF has finally thrown in the towel.. predicting World Growth Figures of some half a percent or so. That, by the way, is the lowest since the 2dWW.
That global 'redundancies' could leave some 51 million unemployed..
Here at home, the IMF has revised it's British figures.. raising it's estimate of our own economy to reflect a 2.8% contraction.. a full point and a half higher..
And frankly, listening to the Commons.. to Prime Minister's Questions.. it is so very sadly obvious, that those in power are blowing in a gale on a lee shore..
And then there's Vlad..
Speaking at the annual Societe get-together in Davos, he held short of actually accusing the US of causing all this brouhaha.. but was quite firm on his stance of 'government bailout schemes' which leave the average man on the street with a somewhat large, and ever growing portfolio of useless stock. All, of course, held in escrow by these many respective governments.. He urged restraint, and seems to give the impression that somewhere in his heart he knows Russians can deal with a dip in their standard of living.. of the difficulties of diminishing disposable income.. Wasn't that long ago..
But there is no American voice at this 'summit'.. Barack's got his man at his desk..
It's ironic that Vlad spoke against 'protectionism'.. when the largest economy in the world is gearing up towards getting it's people to 'Buy American'.. even, one would suspect, at the cost of straining some diplomatic relations.
Protectionism..? The American Treasury owns most of the tangible assets in the country already, with Barack willing to be Chairman of the Board..
But he's going to need more than one term in office to even make a dent in this, assuming his plans have substance and he accomplishes the re-moulding of the American Dream..
It would seem likely that Joe and Hillary will be running their respective backsides around, as the States extricates itself from the Middle East.. dealing with global economic issues..
While Barack does his best to fix his country.
Almost a triumvirate, for the moment..
The World Economic Forum, an annual event held at Davos, a Swiss mountain resort, is a somewhat somber meeting this year..
There are few less bankers.. hedge-fund operators.. schmoozing with the usual crowd of Economic Ministers and advisers..
They've even gone back to wearing suits and ties.. a practice semi-formally discarded a few years ago..
This will be a meeting without American participation.. Barack's told his new Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, to stay home this year and get to work on something more productive..
We'll see who's really going to be willing to lay their hands on the table over the next few days. Something to keep an eye on..

Some bright news.. this time from a survey of business owners throughout the country..
The consensus appears to be that we're in this for the long, rather than the short, haul. A mere 21% of those polled felt their business had a chance of growing in the immediate future. That's down from 50% a year ago..
And, there is a growing sense of disquiet.. that the banks, having received so many billions of Pound from the Treasury, have yet to pass this money down to their customers..
One can imagine the public outcry when the end of year figures are released, if the Banking Sector declares anything near a profit..

Sri Lanka is in an uproar again, with the Government stepping up it's attack on Tamil Tigers..
This, if nothing else, is a prime example of how we, as a collective, are capable of taking a paradise, and turning it into hell on earth..
It must be in our genes.. but that's yet another topic for another time..

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ahhh.. the domino effect..
Corus is cutting 25 hundred jobs in Britain, due to a lack of market demand for steel.. car manufacturers, those who use the steel.. are laying off thousands themselves with the auto industry in the states asking for what amounts to the same deal as the banks.. large industrial expansion, also a great source of the steel industry, is grinding to a halt..
One is reminded somehow of Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged'.. but it not the great minds deserting us causing this downfall, but a combination of our own self-indulgence, and utterly appalling choices of those we vote into power..
But back to Corus..a company spokesman, while not denying massive layoffs were in the offing.. threw the crumb that the 'numbers might be somewhat inflated'..
The official announcement will come this morning..
But imagine what will happen when the American auto industry runs through the government cash they need to stay afloat now.. and the market for new products dribbles away to a thin stream..
And, odds are, those who will be in the market will be looking for smaller..hybrid cars.. something the American auto infrastructure is not tooled for..

I quote here directly from the BBC..

"Cannabis law change 'illogical'

The reclassification of cannabis as a Class B drug has come into effect in England and Wales amid complaints the new laws are "illogical".
Ministers went against their advisers to upgrade the drug because of worries about its impact on mental health.
Magistrates welcomed the reclassification but said planned fines for possessing small amounts undermined the more serious classification.
They said it sent the signal cannabis is not as bad as other Class B drugs.
Plans to introduce a "three strikes" system for cannabis possession start with a warning, then an £80 spot fine for a second offence.
Only when a third offence is committed, will the person be liable to arrest and prosecution."
End of quote.
One is amazed at the twistings and turnings of legislative and magisterial minds betimes..
But then again.. the Alcohol Lobby, not to mention Organised Crime, have almost unlimited funds..
And it's odd that while a picture of a premature baby..a massive cancerous tumour on someone's neck.. and all the other horrific pictures we now endure on cigarette packaging.. that the next logical step, the pasting of gory car accidents, of people hit by drunken drivers, of ruined livers, has yet to appear on bottles of alcohol..

An interesting move from Barack to be announced today.. That 'tail-pipe' emissions can now be set by the individual States.. a move George resisted strongly..
California's applied to this right and been turned down before.. but it appears Barack's momentum's keeping up as he deals with the smaller internal matters which frankly, should have been dealt with five years ago..

A predictable response from the Vatican on Barack's stance on pro-choice..
While the new President seeming tried to keep that particular executive order sub rosa, the Vatican jumped on it immediately..L'Osservatore Romano says Gregory's 'exceedingly disappointed..'
It might be expected that there's going to be some depth of feeling from the Bible Belt as well..

An interesting move by Indonesia's Islamic Clergy..
After a weekend of heated theological debate, they have decided that Muslim women should not take part in yoga.
The reason being the Hundu chants which accompany some of the positions in the Art, which might lead them away from their Islamic convictions.. weaken their faith..
Malasia banned yoga for Muslims last year.. Egypt back in 2004..
A minor Islamic 'Bonfire of the Vanities'.. perhaps a fear their faith is not self-generating, but one which must be whipped into a frenzy..

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Trillion dollar (that's 1,000,000,000,000, for those of us unable to picture such a sum..)recovery scheme announced by Barak this morning.
The bulk of the money will be split between the individual States to fund public works roads..
It's an FDR move.. another New Deal.. but one wonders if such a plan is feasible.
This is not a generation who, when faced with no work went on the road looking for whatever they could..This is a generation without the concept of being able to run even a normal household when a suddenly and drastic diminution comes knocking..
One thing about the Scots, mind..
It will have little effect on a society which already understands 'the pinch'.. Bargain hunting's a nationally revered occupation over here, and nothing ever seems to wear out or go out of style..
And we're known the world 'round for our patience in a queue
We'll ride it out in Britain.. and odds are the EU will manage to sustain itself as a coherent economic body and weather it, although there is a good possibility the Euro's going to be the next to crash.. Ireland predicting a 5% drop in GNP, and that's a classic Depression figure..
And as previously mentioned.. Latvia's predicting a drop of 7%..
That's going to be a juggling nightmare indeed..
Now Barak's also slid in a couple of somewhat contentious in this batch of legislation he's implemented by Executive Order..
The first deals with the exceedingly contentious issue of abortion.. George had allowed the funding of an American program which provided family planning and handed out birth control methods..but Barak's gone one step further and has approved funds for surgical teams to be provided through Aid Agencies, to actually perform abortions.. free of charge..
A bold step..
And he's increased the budget for embryonic stem cell research.. a project the Bush administration had kept on a tight budget..and leash..
What next.. perhaps the removal of cannabis from the FDA's 'don't allow' list..?
Stricter penalties for those involved in alcohol related incidents..?
The problem of recidivism..?
If Barak spends all this cash, and dedicates his time to working on rebuilding his country by re-instilling a sense of work ethic in the American workforce..and allows Joe and Hillary to carry the diplomatic least for the now while he learns something about the world and how the US maintains it pre-eminence among nations..
But then, it all depends on how much of the spirit that made America..not to be trite mind you.. still remains intact..and whether this man can inspire a revival..

Then it would be worth watching the Second Act.. He's going to rival Houdini..

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's finally official.. After months of waffling and faffing about, Britain has declared itself officially 'in recession'..
Considering that we've been watching unemployment rise exponentially.. house prices initially rising at a ridiculous rate only to be followed by record reposessions.. the collapse of the Pound Sterling.. the rising costs of basic foodstuffs at the grocery stores coupled with staggering fuel prices..
It takes a fair amount of credibility away from both the government, for it's spending policies and the lack of financial transparentcy.. from the banks, for what would outwardly appear as misuse of all the taxpayer money used to bail them out.. and for the financial analytical community itself for withholding what was blatently obvious, seemingly to toe the government line..
One third of the British workforce is idle.. on the dole..
Last quarter saw a 92% rise in house reposessions over the quarter before..
And we're still sliding..
We are stepping up on government borrowing.. extending the mortgage we'll pass along to our children..
And growing ever closer to a 'New World Order', so to speak.
'A global crisis..' says Gordon..
More later on the plans Barak has for his United States..

There is so much worldwide expectation on the magical powers of the first African American President.. that is frankly risible..
Barak's expected to haul a sinking boat through water deeper than he is tall, and one has to wonder how long it will be before the ecstacy of the honeymoon is replaced by the agony of a self-indulgent population..
His first moves maintained his image of being able to deal quickly with campaign promises.. Gitmo closing and a Directive against the treatment of those accused of terrorist links.. But that's easy.. a simple left-handed signature that brings toan end something which is fundamentally 'non-American' behavior..
But where is the Executive Order to compel those banks and multinationals who recieved what's getting close to a trillion dollars in bailouts..paid for out of the public pocket. being released to small business?
When will the financial infrastructure be bent back into shape?
To date, it appears the banks themselves have been shuffling those funds around within their own particular and peculiar Circle, which, at least on paper, keeps them in profit.. Not much has filtered down to small business and even less towards the individual..
Barak's not going to save the world. He's as bewildered as the next man on what pill will need to be taken by America that the public won't spit up. And, has been repeaed ad nausium by the media..'so goes America, so goes Britain.'
In fact, so goes the world..
We'll discuss Barak's foreign policy decisions.. or Joe Biden's..the next time perhaps..

%5 drop in GNP..c'mon, basic economics..what's it spell?
Latvia's projecting a %7 drop during '09, and is tied to the Euro..
The Euro's so vastly over valued it's amazing..
It's going to be interesting..

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

One really has to wonder what wheels have set in motion and what we're being prepared for in this, the beginning of some hard times..
It's as though we're teetering on the brink of a scenario that will be as influential on the world as a whole as was the Great Plague..
And that quite rightly.. some of the blame has to fall on the shoulders of the man on the street for succumbing to the ubiquitous ad campaigns and buying.. and buying..and buying..
On tick, as they say, for the most part. We have been shamelessly profligate..
But certainly the balance of the blame falls on those we have put in power..
As it stands now, we have Barak saying that the American economy is 'very sick', and we can expect the condition to exacerbate.. as though the situation isn't blatantly obvious to even the least informed of the public..
Back to Barack and his economic woes in a moment..
We must be aware the Vlad Putin's going the lead Russia again.. this time with a longer term to bring Mother Russia a tad back from it's swing towards the Right..
After all, it is still Communist..'from each according to their abilities and to each according to their need' and all.. And what a magnificent parade was prepared for the West just a while back..
Haven't seen that much military hardware grinding through Red Square in decades..
Somehow though.. it still evokes a faint shudder, all that goose-stepping..
And before we get back to Barack..
The situation vis a vis the Pound Sterling and the Euro would be risible, if it weren't so dangerous..We saw the $Canadian worth more than a greenback for a while earlier in this economic overture, but it settled down to a more sensible 84 cents to the dollar American in short order.. But the situation here is dire. British unemployment is soaring.. British brands associated with quality are calling in the receivers.. British shops the likes of Woolworths will have the last of their outlets locked and their people paid off by mid-week next..
With the Euro at near parity with the Pound.. Gordon's going to need a plan to get something, out of what is rapidly becoming nothing..
Which brings us back to Barack, who's going to try his utmost to be a Hoover or an FDR..
But frankly, the DWP clone couldn't be sustained throughout American society today. The logistics would simply be far to complex and an expensive..
Maybe in a couple of years time, when it becomes a serious concern about how this bill can be dodged for a couple of weeks, so food can be put on the table.. when inflation sets in..
Maybe then the idea of 'working for the government' will force those who have the sense to get with a program..
It will be an easier pill to swallow for Europeans.. who can easily equate with National Service..
Which..rather circuitously.. brings us back to the original thought..
Where is the state of mind we're meant to adopt..what part of the Game are we being led into..?
Are we heading into an era of re-building and about to endure a purging of the decades of our self-indulgence..?
Likely not.
Are we headed towards the formation of formal or informal 'blocs'..?
Might be..
But, for a while, the middle class will understand the existence led by the lower middle class, and so on down the social ladder until you reach the middle and lower lower class, who've understood how difficult it is to just 'get by' from time immemorial..
After all, to quote Tim Minchen.. "You could always be a taxi driver in Beirut."

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