Sunday, 31 July 2011

Spin from on high

Stephen Budiansky
"One of the more depressing as opposed to simply infuriating aspects of the current debt debacle is the self-righteousness of self-delusion that has suffused those congressional guardians of fiscal rectitude who have been entertaining us with their impression of the Italian parliament on a particularly bad day.

In the good old days, good old fashioned American political hypocrisy at least took on an air of humorous theatricality; there was at least a wink now and then to reassure us that the emanators of hot air recognized their performance for what it was, an act expected of them, and that they didn't really believe all that stuff they were saying."

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Debt Crisis: Compromise is Not an Option

Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.
"We are used to politicians having to compromise in Washington. Compromise is viewed as a good thing. Both sides get some of what they want. What our country is facing with the current budget crisis, however, is a totally different situation.

We are not discussing how much this constituency gets out of tax revenue versus that constituency. We are instead dealing with the very real possibility that our economy will collapse due to excessive levels of debt and overspending, at which point no one is going to get much of anything they want. ........

On an Unsustainable Path

The following chart dramatically illustrates that the situation our country is in right now, and it is far worse than any financial situation we have ever experienced before (the data come from here). True, almost every year the U.S. Federal Government has run a budget deficit (spending more than it takes in), but the last few years have seen an astronomical growth in that deficit due to the housing bubble, multiple wars being fought, “stimulus” spending, and an increasing proportion of the population willing to just sit back and live off their neighbors’ tax dollars:"

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Under our noses

Dr Richard North
"Unremarked in the UK MSM, not only because of its familiarity but also because the danger is not fully (or at all) realised, are recently announced EU plans for increasing the spend on "research". Thus it is left to The Irish Times to tell us that the EU plans to spend €7 billion on research in 2012, the largest single research budget in the world bar the US National Institutes for Health and NASA. ....Such is the effectiveness of the EU publicity machine, however – and the gullibility of its "donors", that the research programme is seen as an unalloyed good, creating "opportunities" and all sorts of benefits for the academic community.

In fact, under our very noses, the EU is buying up academia with our money, turning it into a trans-national fifth column, in the service of European political integration. Opportunities there are, but none that are at all wholesome or welcome. We are paying for our own demise.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

US fails to halt slide towards debt default

"Tomorrow is expected to see confirmation the world's largest economy slowed further in the second quarter of the year after stumbling in the first. Wall Street economists expect US growth to have slowed to a 1.6pc pace from 1.9pc in the first quarter. "The picture of US growth in the first half of the year will not be a pretty one," said Gregory Daco, an economist at IHD Global Insight. "

Saving bilions to borrow trillions

Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun (Australia)
"America drowns in debt, and a President flaps his hands on the side of the pool: "

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

President Obama's debt options

Stuff, New Zealand
"The Treasury will collect US$172 billion in revenue in August. Without fresh borrowing, that would cover only 45 per cent of the US$306 billion in payments the government is scheduled to make next month, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank. "

Sort out your debt crisis or the world will suffer, IMF tells U.S.

Daily Mail
"The Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, are pushing for an aggressive debt-reduction plan with sharp spending cuts but little in the way of tax rises before lending their approval to a deal to lift the ceiling. But the White House – which cannot borrow without approval from Congress – would prefer a process that raises tax revenues from the wealthy. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, introduced a new plan yesterday to approve an increase in the debt ceiling and said it would be irresponsible for President Obama, a Democrat, to veto it."

Monday, 25 July 2011

Moody's warns Greek default almost certain

(Reuters) - Moody's cut Greece's credit rating further into junk territory on Monday and said it was almost certain to slap a default tag on its debt as a result of a new EU rescue package."

Senate and House Split as Obama Is to Address Budget

"WASHINGTON – The Democratic Senate and Republican House put themselves on a legislative collision course Monday as they moved forward with significantly different plans on how to raise the debt limit and avert a possible federal default next week. "

(US) Figures on Government Spending and Debt

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Figures on government spending and debt (last six digits are eliminated). The government's fiscal year runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

Total public debt subject to limit July 22 14,293,975
Statutory debt limit 14,294,000
Total public debt outstanding July 22 14,342,874
Operating balance July 22 84,436
Interest fiscal year 2011 through June 189,166
Interest same period 2010 165,336
Deficit fiscal year 2011 through June 970,524
Deficit same period 2010 1,004,028
Receipts fiscal year 2011 through June 1,734,033
Receipts same period 2010 1,596,995
Outlays fiscal year 2011 through June 2,704,557
Outlays same period 2010 2,601,023
Gold assets in July 11,041

US economy: in graphs (Telegraph)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Angela Merkel faces revolt in Germany over rescue deal

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a storm of protest at home after yielding to EU calls for radical action to shore up Spain and Italy, raising doubts over her ability to implement the package. "

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Euro-geddon: The EU, born out of idealism 60 years ago, is now a byword for waste, financial chaos and unaccountability

Daily Mail
"Despite its latest gigantic handout, it seems impossible that Greece can stomach the necessary austerity measures to keep the markets happy for long. Ireland totters on the brink of a second bail-out, while even more disturbingly Italy and Spain, with massive deficits and soaring unemployment, are still dancing on the edge of disaster. ......Conceived in a climate of heady idealism, the euro has become a symbol not of unity and friendship, but of hubris, indiscipline and economic Armageddon. On the streets of Mediterranean capitals, demonstrators daily vent their fury at the politicians they blame for their predicament. ....A poll released to the Mail painted an even more compelling picture. Two out of three voters blame the EU for the gigantic debt crisis in Greece, Ireland and Portugal. And if the British people, as opposed to just Tory supporters, were given the choice, they would vote by 50 per cent to 33 per cent to abandon Brussels."

Britain has a once-in-a-generation chance to break free from Europe

Daily Mail
"But this deal is nothing like the end of the Euro crisis. It is merely a respite before there is more pressure for bailouts for other over-extended Eurozone countries.The only long-term solution to this — other than an extremely messy break-up of the euro — is for the Eurozone countries to integrate much more closely and become, in all but name, a United States of Eurozone (USE).

That means Germany and France imposing one economic policy, with taxpayers in wealthy France and Germany supporting the poorer southern European states in return for them living according to German rules, with tight spending constraints.And in a shift of historic proportions, this is the path the two most powerful leaders in Europe, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel, have chosen.They will deny it publicly, to try to reassure German taxpayers. But their decision to stand behind Greek debts will mean the steady expansion of their authority over economic policy in other Eurozone countries. The Germans are paying the piper so they can call the tune.
For Britain this has huge implications. We are in the European Union, but like ten other EU countries not in the Eurozone. Joining the ‘USE’ is clearly out of the question.Instead, (as I first argued last year) we have a once-in-a-generation chance for Britain to renegotiate its membership of the EU."

The euro crisis will give Germany the empire it’s always dreamed of

"However, the IMF was entirely correct when it pointed out that the only conceivable salvation for the eurozone is to impose greater fiscal integration among member states.This advice was finally being taken yesterday – and it is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of the decision which European leaders seemed last night to be reaching. By authorising a huge expansion in the bail-out fund that is propping up the EU’s peripheral members (largely in order to stop the contagion spreading to Italy and Spain), the eurozone has taken the decisive step to becoming a fiscal union."

Thursday, 21 July 2011

CHRISTOPHER BOOKER: The euro now threatens the world with economic meltdown

Daily Mail
"Today, as the eurozone’s leaders gather in Brussels to discuss yet another bail-out for Greece — whose borrowings are expected to reach 172  per cent of its GDP soon — they do so against the background of a stark warning from the IMF that Europe’s runaway debt crisis is now threatening a global ‘earthquake’ that could wipe £400 billion off the value of the economies of the world, including our own.

A study by the think-tank Open Europe finds that the European Central Bank alone, in charge of the euro, now faces liabilities of £444 billion — a third of the entire value of Britain’s economy.

....The truth is the politicians and the money men run around like headless chickens while Europe is on the point of being sucked down into a black hole, the depth of which no one can begin reliably to guess at."

The BBC's bias has been one of the most shaming aspects of this entire sorry saga

Daily Mail
"Naturally, I don’t deny that the phone-hacking affair is an extremely important story, which has rightly been covered extensively by all media organisations. My point is that the BBC has not treated Rupert Murdoch fairly. It has conjured up a rampant monster. More-over, its preoccupation with the scandal has been so all-consuming that it has downplayed or ignored other important stories, such as the increasingly worrying tribulations of the Eurozone and the worsening economic prospects in this country. None of this would matter very much if the BBC were not a subsidised public sector broadcaster with a greater ‘reach’ than all of its rivals combined. ..."

Germany blocks Greek bailout at eurozone crisis summit as debt-ridden country warns it faces ‘slow death’ without £45bn handout

Daily Mail
*Merkel says Greece must face 'selective default' after pact with Sarkozy
*She persuades French president to drop bank levy plan for £45bn bailout
*Crunch talks in Brussels could lead to death of euro if there's no agreement
*Fears of European Black Friday engulfing Britain if no Greek deal is sorted
*But stock markets RISE on news that two biggest economies are 'resolved'

Europe slowly crumbles under its debt

Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun (Australia)
"The real problem confronting our economy isn’t global warming: French President Nicolas Sarkozy today flew to Berlin for a summit with Angela Merkel aimed at forging a common stance on the Greek rescue package as the eurozone lurches closer to collapse… Mrs Merkel, who is increasingly agitated at Germany being called upon to be the main bailout partner for countries like Greece, Ireland and Portugal, is seen by her countrymen as increasingly weak and without direction… Germany’s share of the bailouts and the euro rescue fund already amounts to €140 billion. But that vast figure is still not enough to stem the debt problems of other countries. International bankers fear a global financial meltdown of a magnitude greater than the Wall Street Crash of 1929 if the eurozone countries fail to tackle their debt mountains."

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

These dripping wet inquisitors achieved the impossible feat of making us feel sorry for Rupert Murdoch

Daily Mail
"It was deeply ironic to see Keith Vaz, one of the most tarnished members of the House of Commons, attempting to play the statesman and grand inquisitor in a situation like this.It was hard to take seriously the spectre of MPs playing as servants of democracy when only the day before yesterday they were locusts preying on democracy."

REAL scandal MPs ignore: As Murdoch grilling turns into farce, bankers get £14bn bonuses and IMF warns of euro meltdown

Daily Mail
*Bankers scoop £14billion bonuses as eurozone nears collapse
*Yet still no inquiry as Government fails to tackle them over crisis
*Nicolas Sarkozy jets into Berlin today for a summit with Angela Merkel

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Shares tumble wipes £24bn off FTSE as fears grow over debt problems in Europe and the U.S.

Daily Mail
"The failure of politicians in Washington to strike a deal to lift America’s debt ceiling also knocked confidence. The U.S. will run out of money early next month if the borrowing limit is not raised – but Democrats and Republicans are at loggerheads over how to deal with the crisis. A default by the U.S., the first in its history, could wreak havoc in the financial markets and the global banking system. David Jones, chief market strategist at financial spread-betting firm IG Index, said: ‘The market remains wary of European sovereign debt, and the disturbing lack of progress on agreeing terms to raise the U.S. debt ceiling is also raising the tension.’

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The real scandal is not hacking but Helmand

"Yet the 75-page report by the Parliamentary Defence Committee, the details of which we reveal today, is a precise and shocking exposé of how British troops on duty in Helmand, Afghanistan, from 2006 onwards were routinely failed by their senior officers and government ministers. As scandals go, it is among the very worst.

From the outset, the report concludes, the mission in Helmand was badly planned. The size of the force was capped at 3,150, around 650 of whom were active combat troops, with a budget of £808 million over three years. The capability of the Taliban, however, was far from capped: it was a highly fluid, serious and adaptable threat."

H/T Dr Richard North

Italy backs £42bn austerity bill as minister admits that 'like Titanic' not even rich will be spared

Daily Mail
"A crucial £42billion austerity bill has cleared its first stage in the Italian parliament - amid calls for gaffe-prone prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to resign.The package was being rushed through to stop growing fears that Italy - the third largest Eurozone economy - was sliding into the same financial abyss as Greece. ....Government officials also warned that taxes would also rise as Italy battled to balance its books, in the face of a deficit of more than £1trillion - or 120 per cent of GDP. That compares to Greece's national debt of £220billion (158 per cent of its GDP) and the UK's debts of £650billion (47.2 per cent of GDP)."

The eurozone has a choice: Split up or die

Daily Mail
"...The German public had no desire to abandon the Deutschmark when the euro was introduced in 1999, and they were also sceptical about the fitness of the weaker economies of southern Europe. When the sovereign debts of southern Europe became a crisis after the insolvency of Lehman Brothers in 2008, the Germans reacted as one might have expected of people who had always thought that the euro would collapse sooner or later."

Economic crisis shows no sign of letting up with yet more grim news

Daily Mail
"..The crisis over Italy’s crippling debts intensified as Rome’s announcement of a new austerity package failed to calm the markets. Many analysts now believe that Italy will soon follow Greece and Ireland in demanding an EU bailout. ....For the British taxpayer, these are worrying omens. More than two-thirds of our trade is with the EU and America, and our banking systems are so intertwined that catastrophe for them is catastrophe for us. Indeed, the European Banking Authority revealed British banks have a terrifying £200billion tied up in the five weakest eurozone economies. ....
BBC’s corrosive power
...MPs complain that the power of the Murdoch empire has been corrosive.
But hasn’t the power of the BBC juggernaut with its pro-immigration, pro-euro, pro-multiculturalism, anti-church, anti-marriage, politically correct Left-wing and anti-American agenda had a far more corrosive effect on British life? "

Friday, 15 July 2011

The BBC has done infinitely more damage to Britain

James Delingpole
"If only they were capable of realizing it, they would understand that over the last decades, the BBC has done infinitely more damage to Britain – economically, socially, politically – than anything the yellow journalism of Rupert Murdoch has ever achieved. By setting the parameters of the political debate, the BBC has been responsible for Britain’s cultural surrender to Islamism and “multiculturalism”; for its submission as a vassal to the creaking, moribund European Socialist Superstate; for the current Coalition’s inability either to lower taxes or rein in government spending; for the proliferation of “rights” and dependency culture and the creation of a feckless underclass trained to believe it is government’s job to take care of its every need; for the removal of empiricism, hard science and skepticism in the debate on “global warming”.

J K Rowling - part III

A wizard place to live! JK Rowling's childhood home goes on the market complete with her teenage graffiti(Daily Mail)
I am resistant to score any points against Mrs J Murray, aka J K Rowling, aka Joanne Rowling,but I have seen worse places to live, and much harder conditions for children to be brought up in. For all the problems Mrs J Murray, aka J K Rowling, aka Joanne Rowling may have had in life, hers were not the worst I have come across.

Part 1 here, part 2 here....

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The REAL cost of Britain's debt mountain: £78,000 for every family... thanks to Labour

Daily Mail
"The true size of Britain’s debt mountain can be revealed today as £2trillion – nearly £80,000 a household. Previously ‘hidden’ liabilities including the cost of public sector pensions and building projects are being published by the Treasury.They show that future payments to retired teachers, police officers and NHS staff will cost taxpayers £1.1trillion, or £1,100billion. The enormous figure, which is equal to 80 per cent of Britain’s output, is treble the combined national debts of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. The future cost of schools and hospitals built under the controversial Private Finance Initiative will pile an extra £40billion on to our debt mountain.The £1.1trillion and the £40billion come on top of the official debt figure of £909billion. The figures will appear on the Government books for the first time when it publishes full accounts for every Whitehall department.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Euro zone crisis enters dangerous phase

Stuff NZ
"The euro zone's debt crisis has taken a dangerous turn. Contagion is singeing the currency bloc's third biggest economy Italy, which would be too big to save with existing EU financial fire-fighting tools. The cheapest way for Europe to build a firewall to shield Italy would be to take decisive action this month on a second bailout for Greece, market participants and EU officials say. The longer a decision is delayed, the greater the risk of events getting out of hand in Greece or on capital markets, forcing core nations to take more radical and politically difficult measures to hold the 17-nation currency zone together. The choice would then be between closer fiscal union and a possible breakup of the euro area. "

Stolen from our pockets

Dr Richard North
"What this means is that we borrow money off the market – for which we pay interest - to lend to the IMF. But what may have been missed from the earlier post is that the bailout funds are to be used, inter alia, to buy up Greek debt – from a nation that intends to default.

Thus, in reality, we are buying up debt with borrowed money, to give to an organisation which will lend it to a "client" (or clients) that will never repay it. In effect, that makes this money a £9 billion "gift" from British taxpayers. It will be given to the financiers (mainly banks) who lent money to the Greek government, to help them cut their losses."

Monday, 11 July 2011

Government's cash machine: Labour milked £1billion in speeding fines from 17million drivers

Daily Mail
"Labour 'milked the motorist' for an astonishing £1billion in speeding tickets - half of it raised in the last five years alone. The first full research on the speed camera regime under the last government has revealed how more than 17million motorists were hit with fixed penalty fines. In the final years of Labour, when all the income was going direct to the Treasury, the government was earning up to £10,000 every hour. Between 2005 and 2009, for which figures have just been published, 8,282,905 fixed penalty notices were issued to motorists in England and Wales for speeding. With fines of £60 per offence, that means drivers have been hit for £496,974,300 in only five years. Tory MP David Ruffley, who uncovered the figures, said: 'Labour treated the British motorist like a massive cashpoint machine on wheels. "

Saturday, 9 July 2011

President Obama's oil for jobs strategy shows the economy has the president over a barrel right now

"To recap, on June 23, the US, alongside the 27 other members of the International Energy Agency, agreed to release 60m barrels of oil onto world markets. The US is supplying roughly half the volume from its 727m barrel-strong strategic reserve. The IEA described it as a way of making up for supplies lost to the fighting in Libya. Everyone else saw it as an attempt to push down crude and petrol prices in struggling western economies.

For The White House, it was an accurate diagnosis that rising petrol prices were proving a drag on an economy that, in the giddy days after Congress extended President Bush's tax cuts last December, many believed would enjoy growth of 4pc to 5pc this year. It was also an act of desperation. "

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Ten great myths about foreign aid: After Cameron described critics as 'hard-hearted', how your money is squandered

Daily Mail
"British aid props up repressive autocrats.

Human Rights Watch issued a devastating report last year that revealed how DFID’s 250-strong staff in Ethiopia failed to monitor annual spending of nearly £300 million. Worse, British taxpayers’ money was shoring up an autocratic regime, funding indoctrination and with food used as a political weapon. The same is true in Rwanda, where Britain aided a sham election last year by funding the electoral body that prevented the president’s rivals from standing and the media council that closed independent newspapers. This tiny nation, a favourite of Mr Mitchell, is being given an average £83 million a year despite last month’s disclosure it had sent a hit squad to assassinate exiles living in Britain."

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Column - Things I never thought I’d see here

Andrew Bolt,Herald Sun (Australia)
"HERE are some things I never thought I’d see in this country I love.

I never thought I’d see people picketing shops because their owners were Jews.

But in Melbourne last Friday, 19 protesters were arrested as they tried to stop people from shopping at the Max Brenner chocolate and coffee store in Melbourne’s QV.

In Sydney last month, Leftist and Muslim protesters did the same to a Max Brenner shop in Sydney, claiming the Jewish-owned franchise company supported the Israeli Army.

I’ve seen pictures of Jewish shops being attacked before, of course, but they were in black and white, in another country at another ghastly time.

But this is Australia. Today.

Here’s another thing I never thought I’d see in this country I’ve loved for its fair go.

I never thought I’d see academics sign a petition demanding someone be stopped from simply arguing.

But in Western Australia last week, that’s just what was done by 50 academics, from professors to a PhD candidate specialising in the representation of the Salvation Army in Finnish cinema, who demanded the University of Notre Dame stop warming sceptic Christopher Monckton from speaking there.

I’ve seen pictures of people being silenced for heresy before, of course, but they were in history books, drawn from inquisitions centuries ago, in another continent.

But this is Australia. Today.

Oh, and I never thought I’d see people getting doctorates in Australia on how Finnish films depicted the Salvation Army. But they do in the University of Western Australia, and, to be honest, that’s a first anywhere.

Here’s another thing I never thought I’d see in this country, which I’ve loved for those great home-making suburbs that artists once mocked for being boring.

I never thought I’d see parents killed after telling off naughty teenagers, or great masses of people brawling in our streets.

Yet this week, a Melbourne mum, with her 11-year-old daughter beside her, was stabbed to death after confronting youths who’d egged her house. Yet this week, 300 youths fought each other and police in a Melbourne suburb.

Oh, I’d heard of such stuff about the meanest streets of the United States, years ago.

But this is Australia. Today. ......"

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

World stocks, euro fall as Portugal cut to junk

(Reuters) - World stocks slipped from five-week highs on Tuesday and the euro tumbled broadly on concerns about the global economic outlook and after a major ratings agency downgraded Portugal to junk status.

Friday, 1 July 2011

£100bn extra? That's not a budget rise, says deluded Brussels in snub to Cameron

Daily Mail
"Brussels bosses were accused of living in ‘fantasyland’ last night after the European Commission claimed its demand for £100billion of extra cash was not a budget increase.

Viviane Reding, the vice president of the Commission, said it was ‘a miracle’ that the EU had not demanded even more money.The budget, which will land Britain with a £10billion bill, is a calculated snub to David Cameron, who has insisted it should rise by no more than inflation at a time of austerity at home.In a sign of how detached EU officials have become from public opinion, Mrs Reding claimed the budget was not rising – when Brussels was actually demanding a 10 per cent increase in spending between 2014 and 2020 compared with the current budget period.

She said: ‘It is a myth to say the budget goes up. We are not asking for more money. We have a steady budget that is not increasing. That is really a miracle.’

Mrs Reding, from Luxembourg, also claimed the budget for bureaucrats ‘is even going dramatically down’ – a bare-faced lie exposed by the small print of the budget, which shows spending on administration rising from 5.7 per cent of the total to 6.1 per cent."