B’Man: I feel like I am screaming at the top of my lungs to totally deaf and blind people. They can’t hear me, nor can read my lips. Maybe they view me as the crazy preacher-type on the street corner screaming doom and gloom?
But I believe I have a pulse on what is happening to a certain sector of business in the SE USA. My business is set up to call specifically on manufacturing in the SE USA. If you read anything I write about, you understand that I am seeing American companies dry up and blow away or move out of country (furniture has been hard hit, along with American automakers). Many folks who work (worked) in these factories know exactly what I’m talking about. Good jobs are scarce and even harder to obtain nowadays.
There is an influx of foreign manufacturers coming in (transportation costs are getting high combined with our labor force getting cheaper to hire). If you are swift on your feet, you will find products that these foreign companies like and try yo sell them, but by and large they prefer their country of origin (if Japanese automaker, they try to buy Japanese products to manufacture with… understandably). But Americans lose.
Stephen Pizzo writes about the financial side and how many Big Banks in the world see the US as on the very brink of financial failure and doom. These sources ain’t just some redneck crying wolf, ya’ll:
Fortis Bank predicts US Financial market meltdown within weeks
(Fortis is a large bank and insurer in the Netherlands and Belgium.)
28th of June, 9:10
BRUSSELS/AMSTERDAM – Fortis expects a complete collapse of the US financial markets within a few days to weeks. That explains, according to Fortis, the series of interventions of last Thursday to retrieve € 8 billion.
“We have been saved just in time. The situation in the US is much worse than we thought”, says Fortis chairman Maurice Lippens. Fortis expects bankruptcies amongst 6000 American banks which have a small coverage currently. But also Citigroup, General Motors, there is starting a complete meltdown in the US”
Royal Bank of Scotland Warns of Global Crash
Financial Times of London
The Royal Bank of Scotland has advised clients to brace for a full-fledged crash in global stock and credit markets over the next three months as inflation paralyses the major central banks.
“A very nasty period is soon to be upon us – be prepared,” said Bob Janjuah, the bank’s credit strategist.
A report by the bank’s research team warns that the S&P 500 index of Wall Street equities is likely to fall by more than 300 points to around 1050 by September as “all the chickens come home to roost” from the excesses of the global boom, with contagion spreading across Europe and emerging markets.
“The Fed is in panic mode. The massive credibility chasms down which the Fed and maybe even the ECB will plummet when they fail to hike rates in the face of higher inflation will combine to give us a big sell-off in risky assets,” he said.”
Barclays: “US central bank accused of unleashing an inflation shock that will rock financial markets.
Business Editor, Financial Times
“Barclays Capital has advised clients to batten down the hatches for a worldwide financial storm, warning that the US Federal Reserve has allowed the inflation genie out of the bottle and let its credibility fall “below zero”…
Simmons says market forces driving crude to $600
Press/Journal/ UK. 1 July 2008: The chairman of energy investment-banking firm Simmons and Company International has predicted that oil prices could double or more within a few years.
Matt Simmons said that in his view oil was “dirt cheap at $140 a barrel”, and with supplies having peaked and demand growing prices were bound to go higher.
He said: “It is not beyond the pale of imagination to see oil at $300, $400, $500 or even $600 a barrel within a relatively short time, much less than 20 years. It is not speculators who are driving oil prices. It’s simply about supply and demand.”
B’Man: We are treading very dangerously on the “cliff” Stephen mentions in the article (you should go read the entire thing) and we aren’t really hearing any warning about this from the media and the Fed (or the American banking institutions, in general). Do you think that the rest of the world is crying wolf or that most of America is dumbed down and oblivious to what is about to happen?
Brad Reed shares The 10 Most Awesomely Bad Moments of the Bush Presidency over at Alternet. He explains that trying to pick the 10 worst things the idiot-in-chief has done is like trying to pick the 10 worst hemorrhoids one may have in a lifetime., which according to Brad (and I agree), “There are entirely too many of them, and taken together they all add up to a throbbing mass of pain.”
Yes, W is a pain-in-the-ass, but much worse, he is a tumor that is killing us. The entire neocon idiocy is killing us.
Please go read the entire article, but here is a cursory view at Brad’s picks:
10: Bush Gets Re-elected
9: Alberto Gonzales’ Congressional Testimony
8: North Korea Conducts a Nuclear Test
7: Colin Powell’s Bogus WMD Presentation at the U.N.
6: The Terri Schiavo Affair
5: Bush and Condi’s Excellent Gaza Adventure
4: “Brownie, You’re Doing a Heckuva Job”
3: Abu Ghraib
1: “Mission Accomplished”
And Brad doesn’t stop there, he also gives a very nice “honorable mention” list:
Narrowing down the Bush administration’s various debacles to a mere 10 was no easy fete. In fact, I expect that many people will express dismay that their least favorite moment was left off the list. “How could commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence not even make the top 10??!!” I can hear some of you shrieking already. Well, I’ll tell you. Essentially, I tried to rate each Bush disaster by two main criteria: its body count and its damage to the country’s reputation. So while Bush’s awkward groping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel may be personally humiliating to everyone, it doesn’t have the same heft as, say, the Iraq War.
But for those of you who insist on seeing your least favorite moment get its due, here is list of every honorable mention I could come up with: warrantless wiretapping; Valerie Plame; Scooter Libby’s sentence commuted; Bush believes Rafael Palmeiro is innocent; soldiers face neglect at Walter Reed; signing statements; the Kyoto treaty ripped up; loyalty oaths; the fake turkey; a staged teleconference with troops, staged FEMA press conference, extraordinary rendition, support for junk science; endorsement of neo-creationist “intelligent design”; inaction against global warming; record oil prices; record budget deficits; record trade deficits; record number of Americans without health insurance; two recessions; no-bid contracts; bin Laden still at large; the Federal Marriage Amendment; stem cell research vetoed; waterboarding ban vetoed; “Last throes”; “Old Europe”; “It’s hard work”; “Bring it on”; “Yo, Blair!”; “I’m the decider”; “I’m the commander guy”; “I’m a war president”; “This is the guy who tried to kill my dad”; “So?”; “Let the Eagle Soar“; John Bolton; Kenny Boy; Harriet Miers; John Roberts; Sam Alito; Blair talks Bush out of bombing al-Jazeera; Cheney shoots some guy in the face; the Military Commissions Act; Jose Padilla arrested and held without charge or access to counsel; endless tax cuts for the rich; let’s waste a shitload of money by sending people to Mars and let’s hire some Heritage Foundation staffers to rebuild Iraq.
I know this will sound as if I am shrugging off Brad’s work, but wouldn’t it be easier to list the things that Bush has done well? Just how much bandwidth does NOTHING take up?
UPDATE: My Bro’ RawDawgBuffalo sums up W’s stint by pointing out the hard to discern… that W is actually a “uniter” in many ways:
Yep, GWB, his legacy will be an assorted one. But for me, I will always recognize for his inept outcome regarding the current state of political affairs. For me even with the war and stagflation, I will always remember him as the great unifier. Yep, for this one man in his eight years has managed to do what others, even Martin King Jr. could not do. He has managed to bring together, whites and blacks, men and women, gay and heterosexuals, natural born citizens and immigrants, republicans and democrats. For we all know he must go. He has done all of this believe it or not unwittingly. So George W. Bush, I toast to you, leaving office and unifying America, for with you, your folk and your policies, we would not have been on the verge of this new possibility, of a man of African descent, taking residency in the white House.
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, July 1, 2008; Page A01
BAGHDAD, June 30 — Iraq’s government invited foreign firms Monday to help boost the production of the country’s major oil fields, beginning a global competition for access to the world’s third-largest reserves.
Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said the government would seek to tap Western technology and capital to increase Iraqi oil production by about 60 percent, or approximately 1.5 million barrels a day, swelling Iraqi oil revenue and potentially easing tight petroleum markets where prices have doubled in the past year.
Shahristani said 35 companies — including firms from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and India — had been selected to bid on long-term contracts to provide services, equipment, training and advice on the country’s biggest oil fields, which have suffered from age, technological neglect and mismanagement during years of war and economic sanctions.
“The six oil fields that have been announced today are the backbone of Iraq’s oil production, and some of them are getting old and production is declining,” Shahristani told reporters.
The invitation marked another step toward giving Western companies a significant role in Iraq’s oil industry, which the Baathist government nationalized in 1972. But the opening is likely to cause controversy in a nation wary of Western influence over its largest source of wealth and among foreign critics who say the Bush administration wanted to depose Saddam Hussein to gain greater access to Iraqi oil.
Followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who opposes Western firms having any control over Iraq’s oil, voiced suspicion. “Those agreements should be open and transparent,” said Liwaa Smaism, a senior Sadrist lawmaker. “We do not know whether those contracts are ordinary technical contracts with foreign companies, or are they involved in the excavation and production of the oil?”
Other lawmakers said any deals should be made after parliament approves legislation governing Iraq’s oil resources. “I do not believe that the companies should sign contracts in such a fragile political situation and confusing security situation,” said Mohammed al-Daini, a Sunni lawmaker.
Daini added that “America has come over here to Iraq in order to first control the oil wealth and, second, the entire economical wealth.” He said he and other lawmakers should review the contracts to ensure they don’t allow Western firms to infringe on Iraq’s sovereignty.
Oil experts and companies cautioned that Iraq’s government must still approve a hydrocarbon law that would clarify revenue-sharing between Iraq’s central and regional governments, the role of the Iraqi national oil company and the framework for paying foreign firms. In addition, foreign firms remain concerned about security.
“How this is going to be done is an open question, and I don’t think anyone in the oil industry expects that’s going to be resolved anytime soon,” said an oil company official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because his company is in the midst of negotiations with Iraq.
Separately, the Iraqi government is finalizing at least five short-term no-bid service contracts with major U.S. and European companies. Iraqi Oil Ministry officials said Monday that the firms were selected because most had extensive experience in Iraq’s oil industry before nationalization. The precursors of Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Total were part of the Iraq Petroleum Co., which ran Iraq’s oil industry for half a century. BP has information dating to the 1920s on Iraq’s oil reservoirs.
“They have geographical studies and other analyses,” said Asim Jehad, an Oil Ministry spokesman. “They can advise us, supply us with what we need and bring new technology.” Chevron was also among the companies selected for the short-term contracts.
An official at one of the companies, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because negotiations were continuing, said each contract could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, including the cost of some new equipment. Each of the five contracts would set a goal of increasing oil output by 100,000 barrels a day by late 2009 or mid-2010.
On Monday, Iraqi Oil Ministry and oil company officials said none of the short-term contracts, ranging from 18 months to two years in duration, had been signed yet. Oil industry sources said negotiations have bogged down over several issues, including whether the companies would be paid in oil or cash.
The companies have been providing training, analysis and advice for the past three years, without being paid. None of the companies has sent personnel because of security concerns.
More important than the size of the short-term contracts, however, is the prospect of getting a foot in the door in Iraq, whose proven reserves trail only those of Saudi Arabia and Iran. In an interview last week, Chevron’s executive vice president for exploration and production, G.L. Kirkland, said the service contracts were “a starting place” and allowed the companies to “prove what we can do and hopefully open the door” for other oil development deals.
On Monday, the Bush administration denied a report in the New York Times that U.S. advisers to the Iraqi Oil Ministry had influenced the selection of companies for the short-term contracts.
“These are Iraqi contracts. They were made by Iraqis, for Iraqis,” said Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman. “And they weren’t done at the behest of the United States or with a wink or a nudge or any kind of influence on our part.”
An official with one of the oil companies said the Oil Ministry had no model contract when it first asked for the companies to draw up short-term technical support agreements last November. He said that he wasn’t surprised U.S. officials were advising the Oil Ministry on the contracts but that he didn’t believe contracts had been steered or skewed toward his company. “I wish that were the case,” he said.
But Antonia Juhasz, a critic of the administration and author of the forthcoming book “The Tyranny of Oil,” said the short-term contracts “are a clear attempt to make an end run around the Iraqi parliament, which has refused passage of a new national oil law long sought by the Bush administration and U.S. oil companies.”
Iraqi Oil Ministry officials said none of the short-term deals were “partnership contracts” that gave Western companies a stake in Iraq’s oil production or a share in its profits. The officials said they decided to forge ahead despite the absence of an oil law. They said the contracts would be presented to Iraq’s parliament for approval.
The oil fields to be developed under the longer-term contracts announced Monday are Kirkuk and Bai Hassan in the northern part of the country and Rumaila, Zubair, Maysan, and West Qurnah in southern Iraq. Two natural gas fields, Akkas and Mansuriyah, would also be opened for bidding, Shahristani said.
The contracts would range from five to 10 years, said Jehad, the ministry spokesman. The deadline for the bids is next March, and contracts could be signed by June 2009. Firms would be required to have an Iraqi partner and hire Iraqis, the officials said.
In recent months, sharp declines in violence have allowed Iraq to increase production levels to 2.5 million barrels a day, its highest since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. With the new foreign deals, said Jehad, Iraq hopes to boost production to 4.5 million barrels a day within five years.
Ismael al-Hadidi, who works in an oil refinery in the city of Baiji, north of Baghdad, welcomed the foreign oil firms. “Iraq right now needs a lot of technical expertise to help it to move forward in oil,” he said.
Abdul Kareem, 48, an engineer in oil-rich Maysan province, said foreign involvement would create new jobs and allow engineers like him to learn the latest technology and skills.
But Ali Khalid, a 39-year-old high school teacher in Fallujah, was convinced that the United States had pushed the Iraqi government’s hand. “Americans have given a lot of sacrifices. They will not let it go,” he said. “They came to Iraq not to get rid of Saddam, but for oil.”