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

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This was a very bad week for a break from the internet and from work.. much to be blogged, and no new entries..
Items the likes of Domenique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF, being indicted in the US on charges of sexual assault and rape, which has brought about world attention. He appeared in a New York courtroom Tuesday, in handcuffs, and was denied bail because the prosecution convinced the Judge he was a flight risk. This is the man who was meant to be the successor to Nicholas Sarkozi.. He was the man to offer a reasonable alternative to Dominique la Pen, the candidate for the far right. So far right is she, that it’s a small step from her platform to that of the Nazi Party.. Should she be elected, it would mean stringent reforms on immigration from especially African countries.. Muslim countries.. In fact any country at all. It would not be surprising to see many Muslims sent back to their countries of origin, and an end to accepting those who would claim asylum from deadly regimes.. it would mean a throttling of free speech.. and, quite possibly an end to the Euro affiliation..
This arrest has also caused some great concern among the Eurozone, with Portugal asking for some 80 billion Euros to bail them out, Greece defaulting on it’s interest payment for money already received, and Eire looking for more favourable interest rates on the bailout loan they’ve already received..
Strauss-Kahn was on his way to talk with Angela Merkel when he was hauled from his seat on a flight to Germany, and charged by the American authorities, so obviously that meeting will not take place.. Germany has posted the best recovery forecasts for those countries in the Eurozone, with an expected rise in GDP in the range of2.5%.. France is running second with their GDP expected to rise a point.. Britain, meanwhile, has posted a .5% increase over the past quarter, erasing the .5%lost the quarter before, and this has the opposition Labour Party howling about how this is a flat situation.. Disregarding the fact that even a .5% increase is a step in the right direction, and if it continues, we’ll see further growth in future months.. The Bank of England is expected to raise it’s Prime Rate this Fall, from 0.5%, at least to 0.75%, or possibly higher.. This will stimulate the incomes of those on fixed pension plans, and those who are dependant on living their retirement on their savings
This situation in the Eurozone is something of great concern for global markets, both for exports to, and exports from. If say, the Euro falls, and I have every confidence it will, it will throw all the member countries into chaos as they look for the levels their old currencies will arrive in the global financial market..
Certainly the Greek Drachma will be almost worthless.. The Eireish Punt will be the same… The French Franc is dependant on the transfer payments from Germany and could totter.. God alone knows what the Polish Zloty will enter the market at, and the Eastern Members will be left flying in the wind.
This simple arrest, could bring further recovery loans from being made, and should that be the case, thus endeth the Euro..
Meanwhile, it seems the Canadian economy is flying away.. The $Can is worth more today than it’s American counterpart, and while one might think this would make exports from Canada to the States slow, the commodities Canada produces will be needed Stateside regardless of the cost.
It is somewhat amazing what the arrest and detention of one man can have on the world scene.
It might be added, that the pictures seen in France of their possible future President in handcuffs, and facing charges that would have amounted to a mere bagatelle in his home country.. have caused a rift between the US and France..
The French are much more tolerant of the indiscretions of their political leaders.. Jacques Chirac, for example, quite publicly flaunted his mistress, and in fact had a child with her. Going all the way back to De Gaulle, it would seem French leaders have always had a penchant for extra-marital affairs, and such is accepted, if not expected. The sexual morality of their leaders is second to their ability to run the country, and indeed, so it should be.
One supposes the blame for all of this could be laid at the feet of the American Judiciary, which still hold firm to the Puritanical ethic. Even a bail offer of a million dollars was turned down, for fear Domenic might take a powder..
And what is more, while in the States a man is innocent ‘til proven guilty, the media has had such a field-day with this case, that it may well be impossible to find an impartial jury to deliberate on the merits of the defence. It seems, a decision has already been reached on the basis of hearsay, and American media broadcasting.
A pity.
And with Strauss-Kahn in custody in Rykers Island, the authorities there have put the IMF Chief on suicide watch. His trial by media seems to have put some great amount of stress on the man, as could well be imagined..
Meanwhile, officials in the IMF are pressing to replace Strauss-Kahn as soon as possible. He was planning on stepping down later this year, to pursue a political career, and it’s part of the constitution of the IMF that those in the Executive may not occupy political office. Just who will replace Strauss-Kahn has yet to be decided upon.. he leaves some very large shoes to fill, having brokered the deals which, so far, have kept the Eurozone solvent..
However, there are more and more members of the IMF Executive calling for Strauss-Kahn to resign.. or at least an interim head named to keep his seat warm while he fights off a possible 25 year jail sentence.. with today calls coming fro the leading economic forces in the teetering Eurozone saying there should be a European replacement for Strauss-Kahn.. at the moment, John Lipsky, Strauss-Kahns' Deputy, has been put in charge until there's a vote on a successor.. at the moment, it would appear French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde would be the horse to put your money on..
As of today, it would appear Domenique will be released subject to bail conditions of course. It is profoundly important that it be remembered this was the head of the IMF we're writing about here.. whose bail conditions will be $million,house arrest, and tagging.
American legislators must be calming their beating hearts for the provision that allow for Diplomatic Immunity..

The Queen visited yesterday Eire, with a full schedule..
She laid a wreath at the Cenotaph which commemorates those Irish soldiers killed in the First and Second World Wars.. She’s also visited Croke stadium, where in 1920, 14 Irishmen, including one who was actually playing on the field at the time, shot and killled in retalliation for Michael Collins’ shootings of British policemen and Intelligence Agents.. and the visit will conclude with an address at Dublin Castle, where, it’s been suggested, she made a very veiled apology for the heavy hand played by British forces during the uprising. However, it must be understood, that this speech would have been handed the Queen by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, and an outright apology may well not be a part of her speech.
While there remains a fair level of resentment in Eire concerning the violence which eventually led to the formation of the Irish Republic, it would appear there is consensus to lay this to rest.. to let the past remain in the past, and better to look to the future..
An important stance, considering the state of the Republics’ economy..

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has suggested that it could well take a generation before we’re out of this financial mess.. While growth figures continue to be optimistic, we have lost so much in this recurring recession, and are paying so much interest on our loans from the government and the IMF, it would seem Nicks’ announcement is close to the truth of the matter.
Clegg has also stated that as far as the NHS is concerned, he’s against further privatisation moves, saying the framework he’s worked out with David Cameron should be allowed to continue as laid out, in the sincere hope that it brings stability to our national health service. However, with the issue of a ‘monitor’ being appointed to gauge the progress of the individual trusts, Clegg insists whomever this might be must not be a ‘financial regulator’..
Now what the public is more concerned with, is the plan to allow individual surgeries to handle their own grants and allowances. This plan has some concerned that this will promote profligate waste throughout the system, with administration costs eating funds which should be going to the individual doctors who see the individual patients..
And the ‘grand plan’ to keep an electronic record of all patients throughout the UK, so their records would be available wherever they may be, has been called ‘too ambitious’, and will likely be scrapped..
That too, is a pity.. But in these times, the cost must be taken into account..

Yet another of our essential services, this time our Police Force, is looking at a 20% cut in funding over the next four years. This, for the individual Bobby, could mean as much as a £4 thousand cut in annual earnings..
They are not amused.
Warnings have been issued from the highest levels of Scotland Yard, that this will mean many fewer coppers on the beat.. and many fewer recruits in years to come..
After all, who would willingly put their very lives on the line to protect the public, if the government is seen as indifferent to the degree of threat involved in the job.

The latest unemployment figures indicate that 36 thousand of those out of work, managed to find employment again over the past 3 months.. The number of those on Jobseekers Allowance though jumped some 12,600 over the same period..
A disturbing trend is demonstrated in the number of young people who, when interviewed for benefits while they look for work, indicate they have no chance of reaching a high paying job, or indeed of even reaching their base aspirations.
Businesses are expressing some concerns about the inevitable drop in disposable income right across the board of the middle classes, and they’re looking to the government to have a more favourable attitude towards them, as they approach the banks for investment, or loans.
Venture capital’s in short supply, and it does not seem as though that situation will change for quite some time. This spells a good climate for ‘stagflation’, and is something to be studiously avoided if at all possible…

That summed up most of what was for today..

Barack's speech was his first reponse to the sweeping changes throughout the Middle East.. he said: "It will be the policy of the US to promote reform across the region and to democracy,". He continued to say the US was bound to the Middle East by forces of economics.. security.. history.. and would continue to play the role expected of them by both the peoples of the Middle East, but those in the entire International Community..
Now, it might be interesting to see what these 'commitments' might lead to..
The position of the States on Libya so far, has kept them at arms length from the change of regime.. While maintaining a presence, they've allowed NATO to be the prime force. Understandable, what with their presence in Afghanistan and Iran, the financial burden of these actions has to be a considerable drain on their defence budget. It becomes increasingly obvious, with this statement, that while they'll approve sanctions to the hilt, they'll not send their boys in. However, it also would suggest that should NATO send 'advisors' in in increasing numbers, it will be will an American blessing.
This speech underlined the commitment Barack has, if not to the Middle East, to his American constituents. It's what they wanted to hear.. that the American Ideal of democracy above all will be supported, but not at the cost of more American lives.
It was a 'feel good' speech.. a " chapter in American diplomacy.." has arrived, with the emphasis being on 'diplomacy'..
But in Baracks speech, he reiterated that Mohammar must step down in Libya and make way for democratic elections..Western powers are likely to stress their determination to keep the pressure on Gaddafi when heads of state from the Group of Eight industrialized nations meet the end of May in France.. More sanctions for the Triploi regime may well be presented to the UN Security Council following these talks..
An interesting point of this speech, was the call for Israel to return to the borders set in 1967, before the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank..
There is an international plan in the works to turn these two areas into a true Palistinian State, but the problem is, Fatah controls the West Bank, and Hammas.. a known terrorist organization.. runs Gaza. It seems emminently possible that Israel will tell it's biggest supporter, the US, that they will certainly not cede any real estate to terrorists, and such a demand is risible..
We shall see..

As expected Japan's economy has slid back into recession due to the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami back in March..
Secotors hit the worst were consumption and exports.. With only two of Japan's five western ports open, there's been a huge impact on the amount coming in, and the amount leaving the country.. Japans' GDP shrank 0.9% in the last quarter.. a 3.7% annualized rate.. Knowing the Japanese though, one would expect them to bounce back quickly..
The ripple effects are being felt here.. auto construction in the UK was down 7% from the same month last year, due to the lack of parts needed to build the cars..
The same trend is seeing a heavy blow dealt to the US, and to a lesser extent, in Canada.. Here, where all three Japanese carmakers have plants, it's thought this shortfall will be short lived..

Gold demand is expected to remain high over 2011.. the price of the metal has risen some 50% since last year, now standing at some $1500 an ounce..
It remains at this level due to the boom in buying in 2010, and considering the current economic climate, may well reach thr $1600 mark over the next couple of quarters..

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