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Africa Israel Investments
08 сентября 2016, 18:04

Лев Леваев стал владельцем 64,88% акций AFI Development

Группа компаний AFI Development закрыла 7 сентября 2016 года сделку по продаже 64,88% акций, принадлежащих Africa Israel Investments Ltd, председателю совета директоров AFI Development Льву Леваеву. Об это сообщила AFI. Сумма сделки составила 550 млн шекелей. Ранее сделка по продаже акций была одобрена держателями облигаций Africa Israel Investments Ltd. В соответствии с условиями соглашения о приобретении акций, подписанного 25 июля, для завершения сделки были получены одобрение окружного суда Тель-Авива и решение комиссии по ценным бумагам Кипра об отсутствии необходимости объявлять обязательный выкуп акций у всех держателей. Сделка по продаже акций включает в себя обязательство по предоставлению держателям облигаций Africa Israel Investments Ltd опциона на покупку до 10% акций AFI Development в течение трех лет. В настоящее время председатель совета директор

02 августа 2016, 18:24

Леваев дал ВТБ поручительство по кредиту AFI Development

Председатель совета директоров и совладелец AFI Development Лев Леваев подписал личное поручительство по кредиту, выданному ВТБ «дочке» AFI Development компании ООО «Краун Инвестментс»,...

19 июля 2016, 23:55

Лев Леваев взялся за девелопмент

Africa Israel Investments может продать принадлежащие ей 65% акций девелопера AFI Development своему основному акционеру Льву Леваеву, сообщили компании. В сообщениях сказано, что Africa Israel Investments для реструктуризации долгов договорилась с держателями бондов и попросит суд разрешить продать акции.

19 июля 2016, 23:55

Лев Леваев может выкупить 65% AFI Development

Africa Israel Investments может продать принадлежащие ей 65% акций девелопера AFI Development своему основному акционеру Льву Леваеву, сообщили компании. В сообщениях сказано, что Africa Israel Investments для реструктуризации долгов договорилась с держателями бондов и попросит суд разрешить продать акции.

19 июля 2016, 15:05

Леваев хочет выкупить 65% AFI Development у Africa Israel для реструктуризации ее долга

Лев Леваев может стать прямым владельцем 65% акций AFI Development, выкупив долю у подконтрольной ему Africa Israel Investments в рамках реструктуризации ее долга.

27 мая 2016, 12:43

Леваев теряет недвижимость в РФ из-за долгов

Компания AFI Development сообщила о том, какие активы могут быть переданы российскому банку ВТБ для погашения кредитных обязательств на $614 млн. Основной владелец AFI Development – холдинг Africa Israel Investments израильского бизнесмена Льва Леваева.

02 октября 2014, 10:30

Годовое собрание акционеров AFI Development состоится 6 ноября

Компания AFI Development создана в 2001 году для управления российскими активами холдинга Africa Israel Investment бизнесмена Льва Леваева в сфере недвижимости.

24 марта 2014, 22:12

BDS: Non-Violent Resistance to Israeli Occupation

Thanks to Scarlett Johansson, the American Studies Association (ASA), and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has entered our national discourse. Representatives of Palestinian civil society launched BDS in 2005, calling upon "international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era . . . [including] embargoes and sanctions against Israel." The call for BDS specified that "these non-violent punitive measures" should last until Israel fully complies with international law by (1) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the barrier Wall; (2) recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated in UN resolution 194. Johansson is a spokesperson for SodaStream, a seltzer-making company whose major factory is located in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. SodaStream generates the highest volume of settlement exports to Europe. Until recently, Johansson was also an ambassador for Oxfam, which, like many other international organizations, opposes all trade from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank because companies are operating there illegally. Shortly before Johansson's commercial for SodaStream aired during the Super Bowl last month, Oxfam forced Johansson to choose between SodaStreama and Oxfam. She chose SodaStream, stepping down from her post with Oxfam. Additionally, the ASA recently endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, which emerged "from the context of U.S. military and other support for Israel; Israel's violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and finally, the support of such a resolution by a majority of ASA members." In its statement of support for the ASA boycott, faculty members at the American University in Cairo cited Israeli policies that "have rendered the Gaza Strip the world's largest open-air penitentiary." The ASA is the third major U.S. academic organization - together with the Asian American and Native American and Indigenous Studies Association - to endorse the academic boycott of Israel during the past year. And, earlier this month, when he delivered the keynote address to the annual meeting of the powerful Israel lobby in the United States, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Netanyahu spent almost as much time attacking BDS as he did explaining why he thinks Iran is a strategic threat to Israel. Clearly disturbed by the proliferation of BDS worldwide, Netanyahu claimed, "Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot." Is BDS anti-Semitic? But, in the words of Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, "The BDS movement is opposed, as a matter of principle, to all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia." In January, Palestinian human rights activist Omar Barghouti wrote in the New York Times, "Arguing that boycotting Israel is intrinsically anti-Semitic is not only false, but it also presumes that Israel and 'the Jews' are one and the same. This is as absurd and bigoted as claiming that a boycott of a self-defined Islamic state like Saudi Arabia, say, because of its horrific human rights record, would of necessity be Islamophobic." Barghouti also noted, "BDS doesn't pose an existential threat to Israel; it poses a serious challenge to Israel's system of oppression of the Palestinian people, which is the root cause of its growing worldwide isolation." Nobel Peace Prize winner South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu concurs. "My voice will always be raised in support of Christian-Jewish ties and against the anti-Semitism that all sensible people fear and detest," Tutu wrote in the Tampa Bay Times. "But this cannot be an excuse for doing nothing and for standing aside as successive Israeli governments colonize the West Bank and advance racist laws," he added, noting "Israel's theft of Palestinian land" and "Jewish-only colonies built on Palestinian land in violation of international law." Tutu cited the 2010 Human Rights Watch report, which "describes the two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians." Tutu writes, "This, in my book, is apartheid. It is untenable." He called on "people and organizations of conscience to divest from... Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard," which profit "from the occupation and subjugation of Palestinians." Moreover, if BDS is anti-Semitic, why do so many Jews support it? In her recent piece in Tikkun Daily, Jewish Voice for Peace board member Donna Nevel mentioned that "respected members of the liberal Jewish community" and "a few liberal Zionist groups," formerly opposed to BDS, are now calling for boycotts of products made in the settlements. She points out that groups like Jews Say No and Jewish Voice for Peace - "a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights" - are "resonating with increasing numbers of Jews who support BDS as a natural outgrowth of their commitments." Some Jews in Israel have also engaged in non-violent resistance to Israeli government policies. Sixty youth recently signed an open letter to Netanyahu announcing their refusal to serve in the Israeli military due to the dehumanization of Palestinians living under occupation. In the occupied Palestinian territories, they wrote, "human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis." The signatories cite "assassinations (extrajudicial killings), the construction of settlements on occupied lands, administrative detentions, torture, collective punishment and the unequal allocation of resources such as electricity and water." How extensive is the BDS movement? The BDS movement is spreading throughout the world. European pension funds are divesting from banks and companies that operate in settlements, and European markets are labeling Israeli goods made in the West Bank. In January, PGGM, the Netherlands' second largest pension fund, decided to divest from five of Israel's largest banks because they financed companies involved in the construction of settlements. PGGM is the second Dutch company to recently break ties with Israeli companies. Also in January, two of Europe's largest financial institutions, Nordea and Danske Bank, agreed to boycott Israeli banks with branches in the West Bank. Norway's Government Pension Fund Global, a multibillion operation, has blacklisted Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus due to their ties to settlements in the West Bank. Argentine authorities have suspended a proposed $170 million water treatment plant's deal with Israel's state water company Mekorot, in response to local trade unions and human rights organizations that connected Mekorot's role in Israel's illegal theft of Palestinian water resources. Many Western artists and bands refuse to perform in Israel. In his final report to the United Nations, Richard Falk, Special UN Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, called on the international community to comprehensively investigate the business activities of companies and financial institutions registered in their own respective countries, which profit from the settlements in Israel and other unlawful Israeli activities. He advocated that they "take appropriate action to end such practices and ensure appropriate reparation for affected Palestinians." Significantly, Falk wrote, "Member States should consider imposing a ban on imports of settlement produce." Israel's Maariv newspaper reported that the international boycott of Israeli settlement products has already led to financial losses of $30 million. Indeed, last August, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Israel could face a boycott campaign "on steroids" if it continues to build settlements in the occupied West Bank. In a recent interview, President Barack Obama asked, "Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis that run counter to Israel's traditions?" These are bold words. But it is unlikely Obama will follow them with bold action. Israel remains the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, over $3 billion a year. And Elbit Systems Ltd., Israel's largest arms manufacturer, has just been awarded a $145 million contract by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border and Protection to deploy border surveillance technology in southern Arizona. Elbit is the Israeli military's largest suppliers of drones, which were involved in the killing of 29 children during Israel's attack on Gaza in 2008-2009, and the ongoing bombing of Gaza. In light of Israel's documented human rights violations, U.S. assistance and the Elbit contract are unacceptable. "Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice," Tutu said. "It doesn't matter where we worship or live." Anti-BDS legislation and blacklisting student groups Nevertheless, there has been a vigorous campaign to pass anti-BDS legislation, both in Israel and in the United States. In 2011, the Israeli Knesset passed an anti-boycott law which would sanction anyone who declares a commercial embargo on Israel, and label any boycott a civil offense subjecting its initiators to litigation. Several Israeli and U.S. human rights groups asked that the law be annulled and a special panel of the Israeli High Court of Law held a hearing on the bill in February. The New York Times opposed the bill, noting, "this is a fundamental issue of free speech." Anti-boycott legislation introduced earlier this year in both New York and Maryland which would punish institutions that endorse the boycott were withdrawn after several educators and legislators criticized the bills as an attack on academic freedom. But a revised version of the New York bill has been introduced that would punish colleges that use public funds for activities that support boycotts of Israel. In early March, the Protect Academic Freedom Act was introduced in the House of Representatives, which would deny government funding to any U.S institution that endorses the academic boycott of Israel. And bills have been introduced in several state legislatures to penalize universities if their faculty members participate in professional organizations that express a political viewpoint by endorsing a boycott. More than 150 scholars and others signed a statement recognizing boycotts as "internationally affirmed and constitutionally protected forms of political expression." Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Frank wrote, "A law targeting the boycott today cannot be differentiated from the laws that punished boycotts in the U.S. civil rights movement or those that compelled academics to sign loyalty oaths as a condition of employment." In another campaign against the BDS movement, some universities, including Northeastern, have banned Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) from campuses and threatened disciplinary measures against some SJP members. This appears to be "part of a coordinated effort by the Israeli government and the Israel lobby to blacklist all student groups that challenge the official Israeli narrative," according to Chris Hedges. Resistance to the banning of student groups that criticize Israeli policies should cite the well-established Supreme Court precedents protecting academic freedom of speech, including Healy v. James ("[t]he college classroom with its surrounding environs is peculiarly the marketplace of ideas"), Keyishian v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of N.Y. ("the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools [of higher learning]"), and Snyder v. Phelps ("speech on matters of public concern . . . is at the heart of the First Amendment's protection"). But unless and until Israel ends its brutal occupation of Palestinian lands, grants full equality to all its people - including Palestinians - and recognizes the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land, the non-violent BDS movement will continue to grow and cripple the Israeli economy. A system based on inequality and oppression cannot survive. Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

05 сентября 2013, 20:43

Separating Politics and War From Oil and the Economy

Following two consecutive posts on Syria, one reader asked "Can we get back to economics Mish?" That's an interesting question given that my discussion never left economics! How can one talk about Europe without discussing the politics of the euro? How can one discuss economics without discussing the politics of war and its effect on oil prices? Is not Obamacare and its repercussions a discussion about politics? Did not a regime change in China affect its growth rate (as I said in advance it would)? Is Abenomics in Japan not a fair game for discussion? Is not the Fed playing politics of the worst kind? What about beggar-thy-neighbor and war-mongering politics in Congress and by the Obama administration? Do those not play a role in the economy? Unfortunately, it is increasingly difficult to discuss the economy without diving into the political landscape that shapes it. In Warmongers Unite (As They Always Do); Boehner Caves In, Backs War; McCain Caught Playing iPhone Poker During Syria Hearing, I made the claim ... The Difference Is Oil The US is in Syria for two reasons.Oil Warmongers promote war on the flimsiest of excuses every chance they get Were it not for oil, the warmongers probably would not have succeeded in this case. Oil is the only real difference between this case and numerous slaughters in Africa in which the US stood by and did nothing. Syria Has No Oil One reader responded "Oil?!! Seriously? Syria has no oil."  Indeed, Syria has no oil. Yet, I responded ...We would not be in the region at all were it not for oil. Whether Syria has oil or not (it doesn't) is irrelevant. It's neighbors do. The US is aligned with Saudi Arabia and against Iran. So... Think! Syria Connection Does someone want to to revive the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) that runs through Syria? Who knows? I sure don't.US Would Counter Syria Oil Spike With Reserves I note with amusement that Analysts Say US Would Counter Syria Oil Spike With Reserves A US strike against the regime of Bashar al-Assad is not expected to have any direct effect on oil supplies, but a release from oil reserves would be used to counter any disruption that hits oil-producing countries or trade routes. The International Energy Agency, the rich countries’ watchdog, which would co-ordinate any joint international release of reserves, said last week: “While the IEA, as always, stands ready to respond in the event of a major supply disruption, the current situation does not call for an IEA response.” But analysts say a US release, possibly co-ordinated with other countries, could curb any increase in prices. Really? What if Iran gets involved? What if Israel attacks Iran as a result of US meddling? What if tensions hit Saudi Arabia? What if a crisis lasts 8 months? What if all of the above happen? Will releasing oil reserves solve the problem? The idea is ridiculous. Is Obama doing the right thing? Is McCain proposing the right thing? The right thing for who? You? Me? The nation? How about the warmongers and the oil interests? If you really think all this concern over Syria is truly about chemicals and humanitarian concerns you really are not thinking clearly. I cannot separate politics from the war and the economy. Nor can anyone else (but at least I discuss the issues, no matter how intertwined they are, or who I offend in the process). Mike "Mish" Shedlock http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.comMike "Mish" Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction. Visit http://www.sitkapacific.com/account_management.html to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

04 сентября 2013, 19:53

Asia's Richest Man, Li Ka-Shing, Looking to Make Gold Investments

Today’s AM fix was USD 1,403.75, EUR 1,065.63 and GBP 899.67 per ounce.Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,391.25, EUR 1,056.06 and GBP 893.09 per ounce.   Gold climbed $17.50 or 1.26% yesterday, closing at $1,411.80/oz. Silver surged $0.83 or 3.54%, closing at $24.26. Platinum rose $18.60 or 1.2% to $1,532.80/oz, while palladium inched up $2.97 or 0.4% to $715.47/oz just before the close. A short and concise history of the gold price. Click here to download your free copy.   Gold in USD, 3 Day - (Bloomberg) Gold pulled back this morning on the open in Asia in an unusual manner which saw a quick almost instantaneous $8 drop from $1,412/oz to a price quote at $1,404.45/oz and then a recovery to $1,412/oz.  Thereafter gold gradually trended lower on technical selling and profit taking after breaching $1,400/oz and rising to $1,415/oz yesterday after Israel launched a test missile which heightened tensions in the region and President Obama received support from some senior republicans for a strike on Syria.  Friday's non farm payroll data may foreshadow the U.S. Fed's imminent decision on tapering to come at the FOMC meeting later this month. Geopolitical concerns about conflict in the Middle East will support gold. The Middle East remains a powder keg and one wrong move could lead to conflict, higher oil prices and a new bout of 'risk off' sentiment which would support gold. The gold mining strikes in South Africa are also supporting gold prices and industrial unrest, along with infrastructural and geological constraints, have greatly reduced production and therefore supply from South Africa. According to Bloomberg, Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-Shing, is looking to make gold investments. The Chinese born, Hong Kong business magnate, investor, and philanthropist is considered to be the richest person in Asia and the richest person of Chinese descent in the world. Forbes estimates he is the 11th richest person in the world with a net worth of $27 billion in U.S. dollars. Two of his sons are believed to be billionaires in their own right. His primary operating company is Hutchison Whampoa Limited, owner of the mobile phone network, Three. CEF Holdings Ltd., a venture between Li Ka-shing’s flagship company and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, is looking to acquire gold assets after a slump in prices created buying opportunities. “Long term, gold is a good place to be,” CEF Chief Executive Officer Warren Gilman, 53, said in an interview in Hong Kong. Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd, controlled by Li, Asia’s richest man, and CIBC each own 50% of CEF. The venture is focused on owning gold mining companies globally. Gilman previously co-founded Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s (CIBC) global mining group and was later vice chairman of the bank’s CIBC World Markets.  Gold in USD, 5 Year - (GoldCore) “I was a little uncomfortable making investment in gold at $1,700 and $1,800 an ounce,” Gilman said yesterday. “The correction we’ve had this year from my perspective is great because we can hopefully fulfill that objective of making some gold investments.” Li, 85, has an estimated net worth of $27 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. CEF Holdings was established in 1974 by Cheung Kong and CIBC, Gilman said. “It’s tougher and tougher to find economic gold deposits in safe jurisdictions,” Gilman said. “You see mine supply struggling to keep up with demand long term. That’s a great recipe for higher prices in the longer term.” Li Ka Shing charity foundation is called the “Heart of Gold” and has recently been extended from Mainland China to Hong Kong. Ka Shing is known to have a penchant for hard assets and owns infrastructure, shipping, energy and real estate assets, but it is not known if he owns physical gold.  It is likely that he does, as he is Chinese and was a Chinese refugee who fled to Hong Kong with his family to avoid the perils of war. Refugees who flee from their homeland to start new lives in other countries tend to have a deeper appreciation of and understand the importance of owning physical gold. Most people in Asia, from the man in the street to very wealthy people, own some physical bullion for financial insurance purposes. Increasingly, in Asia and elsewhere, high net worth individuals and family offices are investing in gold  as means to protect wealth from currency devaluations. A short and concise history of the gold price. Click here to download your free copy.     

20 марта 2013, 04:47

Remarks by President Obama in Arrival Ceremony

Ben Gurion International Airport Tel Aviv, Israel 12:55 P.M. IST      PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Shalom.  (Applause.)  President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and most of all, to the people of Israel, thank you for this incredibly warm welcome.  This is my third visit to Israel so let me just say tov lihiyot shuv ba'aretz.  (Applause.) I’m so honored to be here as you prepare to celebrate the 65th anniversary of a free and independent State of Israel.  Yet I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people.  More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here.  And after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth, a redemption unlike any in history. Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages -- to be “masters of their own fate” in “their own sovereign state.”  And just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend. As I begin my second term as President, Israel is the first stop on my first foreign trip.  This is no accident.  Across this region the winds of change bring both promise and peril.  So I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors.  I want to begin right now, by answering a question that is sometimes asked about our relationship -- why?  Why does the United States stand so strongly, so firmly with the State of Israel?  And the answer is simple.  We stand together because we share a common story -- patriots determined “to be a free people in our land,” pioneers who forged a nation, heroes who sacrificed to preserve our freedom, and immigrants from every corner of the world who renew constantly our diverse societies. We stand together because we are democracies.  For as noisy and messy as it may be, we know that democracy is the greatest form of government ever devised by man.  We stand together because it makes us more prosperous.  Our trade and investment create jobs for both our peoples.  Our partnerships in science and medicine and health bring us closer to new cures, harness new energy and have helped transform us into high-tech hubs of our global economy. We stand together because we share a commitment to helping our fellow human beings around the world.  When the earth shakes and the floods come, our doctors and rescuers reach out to help. When people are suffering, from Africa to Asia, we partner to fight disease and overcome hunger. And we stand together because peace must come to the Holy Land.  For even as we are clear-eyed about the difficulty, we will never lose sight of the vision of an Israel at peace with its neighbors. So as I begin this visit, let me say as clearly as I can --the United States of America stands with the State of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel.  It makes us both stronger.  It makes us both more prosperous.  And it makes the world a better place.  (Applause.) That’s why the United States was the very first nation to recognize the State of Israel 65 years ago.  That’s why the Star of David and the Stars and Stripes fly together today.  And that is why I’m confident in declaring that our alliance is eternal, it is forever – lanetzach. Thank you very much.  (Applause.) END              1:01 P.M. IST

24 октября 2012, 17:29

Gaza-Israel shelling resumes after departure of Qatari emir

Israel carries out targeted air strikes in response to sustained rocket fire following brief lull during visit of Sheikh HamadMore than 70 rockets have been fired into southern Israel from Gaza since the departure on Tuesday of the emir of Qatar, whose visit to the Gaza Strip was seen as a boost for its ruling faction, Hamas. Three foreign agricultural workers were injured and several buildings were hit.Four militants were killed in resurgent Israeli air strikes overnight as a short period of calm ended. Three were members of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedin al-Qassam brigades, according to reports on its website.Hamas, which normally distances itself from rocket fire from Gaza, has claimed responsibility for some operations in recent days. "These holy missions come in response to the repeated, continuous crimes of the enemy against our people, which killed four and injured 10 in the past 48 hours," it said in a statement.Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, said he would order whatever action was necessary to stop rocket fire from Gaza. "If a ground operation will be necessary, there will be a ground operation. Nobody is eager for this but we will act as we are required to stop this wave and to increase the effectiveness of the operation."Israeli tanks have fired into Gaza in addition to air strikes, according to reports. Schools in both southern Israel and central Gaza were closed on Wednesday, and the Israeli authorities shut crossing points to the enclave.Both Israel and Hamas are thought to want to avoid an escalation into full-scale conflict. But if Israeli casualties resulted from rocket fire, Israel would be expected to engage in a more sustained assault than targeted assassinations.Hamas is also under pressure from more radical organisations within Gaza, which may explain its unusual open participation in this latest round of violence. "Hamas feels a tension between the need to be a government [in Gaza] and the need to be part of the resistance [to Israel]. It has in its ranks quite a few people who co-operate with the more radical groups," Yossi Kuperwasser, the director general of Israel's ministry of strategic affairs, told reporters in a briefing last week.Weapons were "pouring in" to Gaza, he added. "Everyone is extremely busy building a terror infrastructure. Libya is a new and very important source of weapons. The arming process is very intensive and with it comes a growing tendency to use such arms."Earlier this month, an anti-aircraft missile was fired from Gaza for the first time at an Israeli military helicopter, according to Israeli defence officials. The shoulder-fired Strela missile missed its target.The visit by the Qatari emir‚ the first head of state to visit Gaza under Hamas rule, was seen as conferring legitimacy on the Islamist organisation. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani also announced a $400m investment and construction programme for Gaza.GazaIsraelMiddle East and North AfricaPalestinian territoriesQatarHarriet Sherwoodguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

23 октября 2012, 13:39

Emir of Qatar begins historic Gaza visit

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani is first head of state to visit Gaza since Hamas took control more than five years agoThe Emir of Qatar has become the first head of state to visit Gaza since the Islamist movement Hamas took control of the tiny enclave more than five years ago.Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt at the border crossing of Rafah, which is also the headquarters of illegal trading through a vast network of tunnels which flourished after Israel tightened its blockade on Gaza in 2007. He was given a red-carpet welcome by Hamas officials.The emir was due to inaugurate a $254m (£160m) investment programme in Gaza by the Sunni Gulf state. Among the projects funded by the Qataris is a new housing development on the site of a former Israeli settlement, evacuated in 2005, and several new roads through the territory.Qatari flags and posters expressing thanks were strung along streets as a 30-vehicle convoy, filled with Qatari security forces, made advance preparations for the visit.Sheikh Hamad was expected to address a rally at a stadium in Gaza City later on Tuesday.Hamas welcomed the emir's visit. "It is the first visit by an Arab leader at this level to Gaza," it said in a statement. "This breaks the political isolation of the government and opens the door to break the siege."Despite winning democratic elections in 2006, Hamas has been largely isolated by the international community since it took control of Gaza in a bloody battle with its rival faction, Fatah. However, some European governments are believed to maintain back-channel contacts with the Islamist party.Iran, which had been a key patron of Hamas, has withheld funding for the faction since its refusal to back the Syrian regime in its civil war. Qatar has called for military intervention in Syria to topple the government.In the wake of the breach with Tehran and the rise of Islamist parties in the Arab spring, Hamas has built up relations elsewhere in the region, most notably its parent organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.Mohammed Morsi, the Egyptian president, welcomed the emir's visit, saying it was part of his country's efforts to "break the siege on the people" of Gaza.A spokesperson for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said that while Qatari help for the people of Gaza was welcome, the "legitimate representation of the Palestinian people" must be preserved.Hamas promised tight security for Sheikh Hamad's visit. The visit comes amid an ongoing cycle of Israeli air strikes and militant rocket fire from Gaza.Early on Tuesday, an Israeli soldier was critically injured in an explosion close to the border fence between Gaza and Israel.The emir was expected to return to Egypt later on Tuesday.GazaPalestinian territoriesMiddle East and North AfricaQatarEgyptHarriet Sherwoodguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

23 октября 2012, 00:49

Sally A. Painter: The Foreign Policy Debate America Deserves

In the span of a month, foreign policy has come to the forefront of the battle for the White House. Political observers had predicted an election season dominated by the continued weakness of the domestic economy, and the conventions appeared to bear this out. Democrats debuted a newfound swagger on national security, but the Republicans ignored foreign affairs almost entirely, relying on President Obama's "You didn't build that" remarks to frame him as out of touch with economic realities. The foreign policy debate, scheduled last, was beginning to seem like an afterthought. But now, despite Obama's strong answer on the subject in the town hall debate, controversy surrounding the death of the American ambassador in Libya has the administration on the defensive. At the same time, escalating violence in Syria and heightened tensions between Israel and Iran have inspired the Romney team to regain the offensive on foreign policy. Add to this Romney's commanding performance over a listless President Obama in the first presidential debate, and Republicans have begun to smell blood in the water. The tightening race has added a dose of drama to the debates. Paul Ryan certainly didn't shy away from diving into national security in his confrontation with Vice President Biden. Yet on foreign policy, the candidates have offered much more heat than light. While the President has touted the killing of Osama bin Laden and the US withdrawal from Iraq, the Romney camp has favored dubious one-liners about drawing "red lines" on Iran and Obama "apologizing" for America. Neither of these approaches gets us much closer to an illuminating discussion about the complex challenges facing American policy abroad. The American people deserve to hear how the candidates plan to confront these challenges. The final debate is a chance for us to see real leadership -- and that means grappling with thorny issues that aren't reducible to talking points, but which will nevertheless define the course of the world in the coming years. Of course Iran and Syria are important, and should be addressed. But to really get at the candidate's divergent foreign policy philosophies, Moderator Bob Scheiffer should broaden the conversation. First, both candidates should be asked to explain their approach to the US-Russia relationship -- Governor Romney should be pressed on his demonization of Russia, and Obama on his much vaunted "reset." Neither is realistic -- Russian cooperation is key for progress on Iran, Syria, arms control, and more, but at the same time Russian politics is becoming more authoritarian and anti-Western. How do we maintain a working relationship without compromising our democratic values? This tension informs a second critical issue: the US role in democracy promotion from Eastern Europe to Central Asia. The European Union has been the force behind many of the democratic changes in a swathe of post-Soviet states, as countries eager to join the West undertook ambitious reforms. But in places like Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, truly open societies are still only distant dreams. As the EU has lost its balance in the current crisis, Russia has deepened its influence in these areas. How can the US play a constructive role, supporting the EU, while not alienating Russia? Then there is the Middle East. While Libya is a hot topic, neither candidate wants to talk about what comes next in Iraq. National reconciliation is as distant as ever, insurgent violence is once again on the rise, and Prime Minister Maliki seems bent on consolidating his own power no matter the cost to Iraq's fledgling institutions. Kurdistan -- stable, democratic, and developing -- is a bright spot, but it is increasingly sidelined from national politics and left adrift by the lack of a coherent US policy. And in our "other" war, Afghanistan, Romney has pounded Obama over the looming 2014 withdrawal, and yet his policy appears to be indistinguishable. The "Arab Spring" is another area that does not lend itself to our polarized political debate. What were seen as inspiring, people-powered reform movements only a year ago now bring to mind nightmare scenarios of failed states governed by Al Qaeda sympathizers. The truth is somewhere in between, and the candidates should be pushed on how they plan to recalibrate US policy to grapple with the complex, fluid new political realities in the region. Interestingly, the town hall debate saw a brief mention of a region that has otherwise almost completely fallen off the radar: Latin America. While any discussion of the region is usually confined to drug cartels or immigration, the truth is that the economic fate of the US is closely tied up in our trade and investment ties with our closest neighbors. While we have been occupied elsewhere, Latin America has matured, developing strong democratic institutions, growing middle classes, diversifying economic relationships with Asia and Africa, and increasing geopolitical heft. Unfortunately, this newfound maturity is under threat in places like Venezuela, Argentina, and Bolivia, where populist leaders have sought to undermine democratic institutions for their political benefit. Our potential leaders should be asked how they plan to reengage Latin America as a natural ally of the US. Finally, we need to hear about a critical issue that gets almost no attention in our national debate -- international banking and financial regulation. A globalized financial system is playing an increasingly outsized role in the world economy, and yet remains opaque. Hidden behind the façade of legitimate transactions is the dark world of money laundering, which is the linchpin of drug and human trafficking, and terrorist financing, by the world's worst regimes. How can the US advance a framework of anti-laundering best practices that will increase transparency and bring our global financial systems back into the daylight? As the candidates trade barbs, what we desperately need is a coherent blueprint for renewed American leadership based upon shared values. This doesn't mean hegemony or unilateralism, but rather closer partnerships with our key allies, especially in Europe. With this in mind, we need to hear about the candidate's plans to support Europe in its current crisis. Our economy is tied to the success of the Euro just as our security is bound up with the strength of the NATO alliance. Heralding the rise of China and India is now in vogue, but for the moment we are still the only ones with the capacity to lead. This capacity ultimately rests on the strength of our shared postwar values of open democratic societies and free, prosperous economies. When we fail to lead, those who don't share these values will inevitably fill the vacuum. Even in a time of crisis at home, the final presidential debate must address how we are going to fulfill the demands of leadership in a world that needs it more than ever. Sally A. Painter is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Blue Star Strategies, LLC. She is currently on the Board of Directors of The Truman National Security Project.

24 сентября 2012, 07:32

Obama and Romney clash over foreign policy and the Middle East

Candidates give separate interviews on 60 Minutes, in the first indication of how they may fare in presidental debatesBarack Obama has defended his handling of the Middle East against criticism from Mitt Romney, saying pointedly that if the Republican presidential candidate wanted to start another war in the region, he should just come out and say it.Romney accused the president of failing to adopt a more aggressive stance towards ousting Bashar al-Assad from Syria, and claimed Obama's weak leadership elsewhere in the region had opened the way for the riots that led to the death of US ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya and three other Americans.Romney also attacked Obama for failing to offer enough support to Israel, particularly in relation to Iran.But Obama brushed aside the criticism. "If Governor Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so," Obama said.The clash over foreign policy came in separate interviews with Obama and Romney by the CBS 60 Minutes show, broadcast on Sunday night. The exchanges gave the first indication of lines the pair may adopt in the presidential debates, the first of which is in Denver on 3 October.The Middle East is growing as a campaign issue, with many voters angry over the attacks on the US embassies. Romney is attempting to undercut Obama in an area, foreign policy, in which polls have consistently shown the president enjoys a considerable advantage.There is little public appetite for US involvement in another war after the one in Libya, in which France and Britain were portrayed as taking a lead, though backed by US logistical support. Obama has been careful to avoid the US being drawn into Syria and has refused to agree to Israeli demands that it set "red lines" on Iran's nuclear programme, which if crossed would trigger military strikes.In his interview, Romney criticised Obama for his failure to meet Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu either in New York this week when both will be at the United Nations or in Washington. He said this sent a message that the US was distancing itself from its friends."I think we also have to communicate that Israel is our ally. Our close ally. The president's decision not to meet with Bibi Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, when the prime minister is here for the United Nations session I think is a mistake and sends a message throughout the Middle East that somehow we distance ourselves from our friends and I think the exact opposite approach is what's necessary," Romney said.Obama said he would not be pressured into making decisions. "When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that's out there," he said. But, he stressed that he felt an "obligation, to make sure that we're in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues. Because it affects them deeply."Both men were asked about their biggest vulnerabilities. Obama said his was the failure to change the tone in Washington, a key promise from his 2008 campaign. He said: "I'm the first one to confess that – the spirit that I brought to Washington, that I wanted to see instituted, where we weren't constantly in a political slugfest but were focused more on problem solving that … I haven't fully accomplished that."Haven't even come close in some cases. And … if you ask me, what's my biggest disappointment is that we haven't changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked."The admission echoes a similar remark he made less than a week ago in an interview with Hispanic television network Univision when he said he had been unable to change Washington from the inside as he said the lack of immigration reform had been his biggest failure. The remark was pounced upon by Romney and the Republican campaign. In his 60 Minutes interview, Romney was pressed on his tax reform plans but, as in past months, refused to go into detail. He said he would lower all income tax by 20% and would end many tax loopholes."The devil's in the details. The angel is in the policy, which is creating more jobs," Romney said.Because the tax cuts were being combined with an end to exemptions and deductions, most Americans would see little change in their tax payments. Working-class people would probably see as "little break".Romney, who released some of his of personal tax details on Friday, defended the fact that he paid less than 15% in tax because on investment income. "I think it's the right way to encourage economic growth — to get people to invest, to start businesses, to put people to work," he said.Obama criticised Romney for having pursuing the same kind of tax policies as George W. Bush: tax cuts for the wealthy and rolling back regulations of the financial sector. "Well, we tried that vigorously, between 2001 and 2008 and it didn't work out so well," Obama said.Romney also brushed aside the suggestion that his campaign was in difficulty. His team has been repeatedly forced on the defensive, unable to gets its message out. Last week was dominated by reports of internal strife and a devastating secret video of a Romney speech dismissive of 47% of Americans as freeloaders.But asked how he planned to turn things around, Romney said: "Well, it doesn't need a turnaround." He added: "I've got a very effective campaign. It's doing a very good job."United StatesUS politicsMiddle East and North AfricaBarack ObamaMitt RomneyUS elections 2012US foreign policySyriaIsraelIranLibyaEwen MacAskillguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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10 сентября 2012, 14:42

Preview Of The Action-Packed Week Ahead And Overnight Recap

Suddenly the delicate balancing of variables is once again an art and not a science, ahead of a week packed with binary outcomes in which the market is already priced in for absolute perfection. Per DB: We have another blockbuster week ahead of us so let's jump straight into previewing it. One of the main highlights is the German Constitutional Court's ruling on the ESM and fiscal compact on Wednesday. On the same day we will also see the Dutch go to the polls for the Lower House elections. Thursday then sees a big FOMC meeting where the probabilities of QE3 will have increased after the weak payrolls last Friday. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will meet on Thursday in Mexico before the ECOFIN/Eurogroup meeting in Cyprus rounds out the week on Friday. These are also several other meetings/events taking place outside of these main ones. In Greece, PM Samaras is set to meet with representatives of the troika today, before flying to Frankfurt for a meeting with Draghi on Tuesday. The EC will also present proposals on a single banking supervision mechanism for the Euro area on Tuesday. If these weren't enough to look forward to, Apple is expected to release details of its new iPhone on Wednesday. In summary, it will be a good week to test the theory that algos buy stocks on any flashing red headlines, no longer even pretending to care about the content. Think of the cash savings on the algo "reading" software: in a fumes-driven market in which even the HFTs no longer can make money frontrunning and subpennyiong order flow, they need it. On overnight action from Jim Reid: As we start this big week, Asian markets are somewhat mixed overnight although Chinese equities are being led higher by stimulus hopes. The latest Chinese trade numbers show that imports fell 2.6% yoy (vs +3.5% expected) while export growth was marginally below expectations at 2.7% (vs 2.9% expected). The weekend data from China wasn't great either. IP growth slowed to 8.9% yoy in August, down from 9.2% in July and the lowest since May 2009.  PPI (-3.5% v -3.2%) also came in below consensus. Fixed asset investment and retail sales were broadly in line with expectations. In other data, Japan's government downgraded its GDP growth estimate for Q2 2012 to 0.7% annualised, or half of its preliminary estimate of 1.4%. Recapping Friday's moves, the S&P500 (+0.4%) finished higher as the weak payroll report increased expectations of further QE at this week's FOMC meeting. August nonfarm payrolls rose 96k (vs 130k expected) but also came with 41k in net downward revisions to the previous two months. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 8.11% from 8.25%, but only due to a 0.2% fall in the labour force participation rate to 63.5% - a level last seen in September 1981. Joe LaVorgna believes the weak employment data is sufficient to push the FOMC into announcing on Thursday a third round of QE (likely to be data dependent and open-ended) on top of his expectations of a verbal easing by extending the forward rate guidance out beyond late 2014. We note that a Reuters poll of 59 economists after the jobs report showed 60% believe the Fed will introduce further QE on Thursday (from 45% a fortnight earlier). In other markets commodities outperformed on Friday given the fresh QE hopes. Gold added +2.1% to close at the highest since Feb 2012. Brent also rose 0.67% to $114.25/bbl. Iron ore had its best day of the year by gaining +2.3% to close at $89/mt. The 10-year UST yield dropped by a sharp 14bps right after payrolls before reversing those gains throughout the day to close only 1bp lower. In Europe Spain and Italy's 10yr yields rallied 40bp and 20bp on Friday, taking their weekly gains to 122bp and 76bp respectively. There were a number of supportive Euro headlines on Friday and over the weekend. Merkel expressed support for the ECB's OMT operations with a German government spokesperson saying that the "the ECB is acting independently and within the framework of its mandate". German Finance Minister Schauble also offered his support, commenting that ECB officials "know very well what they have to do. It's not the beginning of monetary financing of sovereign debt." Meanwhile, Italy and Spain remained non-committal about entering a programme. Italian finance minister Grilli said over the weekend that the Italian view on EU aid has not changed, with the country seeking to avoid a bailout. Spain's deputy PM said that more details are needed on EU aid conditionality. Fitch added that Draghi's seniority clarification was positive for Eurozone sovereigns, reducing the risk premia for bonds, while reiterating that a request for EFSF/ESM support would not automatically lead to negative rating actions from Fitch, if a sovereign was able to maintain market funding access. In an interview on German radio, German Finance Minister Schauble provided some upbeat comments ahead of the German's Constitutional Court ruling on the ESM on Wednesday.  Schauble said that he sees the court dismissing a challenge to the ESM and that the legality of the ESM was "thoroughly" probed at its inception. He said in an interview that the Constitutional Court has never seen the course of European integration as being unconstitutional. Regardless of the outcome, it seems that the ESM remains relatively unpopular with the German public. According to a Der Spiegel poll, 54% of Germans want the court to reject the ESM outright, while only 23% of Germans want the court to rule in favour of the ESM. Greece remained in headlines over the weekend with the ekathmerini reporting that members of the Prime Minister's coalition are opposed to some of the measures forming part of the EU11.5bn in targeted budget cuts including cuts to low-level pensions and civil servants salaries. The same newspaper is reporting that there is "a long way to go" in talks between the Greek government and the troika. Moving on to the day ahead, it will be a relatively light data day with French manufacturing likely to be the main focus on top of the final Italian Q2 GDP reading. In the US, July consumer credit is the only notable report. Beyond today and outside of the main events already previewed we have French and Italian IP reports, some European inflation data, US trade data, PPI, IP and consumer confidence but data will probably take a backseat to events in Germany, the Netherlands and the FOMC meeting. In summary via GS: The Week Ahead MONDAY SEPTEMBER 10 Interesting: France IP, Sweden IP, China Trade balance, Turkey GDP TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 11 US Trade Balance: We expect a reading of -$43.0 bn vs. consensus of -$44.5 bn. Also Interesting: South Africa GDP, Mexico IP WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 12 German constitutional court decision Dutch parliamentary elections Euro area IP (July): Consensus expects -0.3%mom, up from -0.6%mom in June. India IP (July): We forecast industrial production to remain weak at 0.5%. Also Interesting: France HCPI, Germany HCPI, Spain HCPI, UK ILO Unemployment, Italy IP THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 13 FOMC Meeting: We expect the announcement of QE3, an extension of forward guidance, and the interest rate to remain unchanged. US Producer Price Index: We forecast a plus of 0.6%, up from last month’s +0.3% but below consensus at +1.2%. Russia Monetary Policy Meeting: We forecast a policy rate hike by 25 bps to 5.5%, versus a consensus expectation of leaving the rate unchanged at 5.25%. Korea Central Bank Meeting: The MPC is likely to cut the policy rate by 25 bp to 2.75% at the upcoming meeting. Switzerland Monetary Policy Meeting: We and consensus expect the policy rates to remain unchanged at 0 – 0.25%. Chile MPC: We and consensus expect no change in the base rate at 5.0% Indonesia Central Bank Meeting: Consensus expects the reference rate to stay flat at 5.75%. Philippines Central Bank Meeting: In line with consensus, we continue to forecast a 25bp cut to 3.75%. Also Interesting: Italy HCPI, Sweden CPI, Poland CPI, Sweden Unemployment rate FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 14 Start of 2-day European finance ministers meeting. Euro Area HCPI: We expect HCPI to rise by 2.5% yoy, slightly lower than consensus at 2.6%yoy. US Retail Sales: Our forecast predicts an increase by 0.8%, similar to last month’s reading, and higher than consensus expectations at +0.5% US IP: We forecast a contraction by -0.1%, below consensus at +0.2%, and down from last month’s figure at +0.6%. US CPI: We expect a reading of +0.5%, slightly below consensus at +0.6%, up from a flat reading the month before. US U. of Michigan Consumer Sentiment: We are in line with consensus at 74.0 in this advanced reading, versus 74.3 last month. Also Interesting: Mexico GDP, Sweden GDP, Hungary IP, Israel CPI

31 августа 2012, 04:16

Reader Questions On Hyperinflation; Would Printing $50 Trillion Tomorrow Do Anything?

In response to Economist Fired for Expressing Opinions on Max Keiser Show; Errors in Observation where I stated "The Fed Cannot Realistically Cause Hyperinflation" I received a couple of emails worth reviewing. Reader Philip writes ... I do not understand how you could say that the Fed cannot cause hyperinflation. The government has a huge debt. The debt is manageable at super low rates. But, if rates rise due to some inflation or even just caution from abroad then the government starts paying a very large sum in interest. That takes away from its obligations even more than the current deficit amount. Either the Fed has to step in and monetize the debt by printing more and more money spiraling out of control. Definition of Terms As always, before one can have a rational discussion, one must agree on definitions. Hyperinflation is a complete loss of faith in currency. In other words, currency becomes worthless in a short period of time. Is there a risk of high interest rates? Yes. But I do not think that risk is high in the near future. Even assuming I am wrong, high rates are not the same as hyperinflation. The US dollar is not headed to zero given the US has the largest stash of gold of any country. That alone would preclude hyperinflation. There are many other reasons that I have touched upon that suggest interest rates are not going up fast.Credit Markets The Fed has tried to revive the credit markets but has essentially failed, except for student loans. Making debt slaves out of students is actually a hugely deflationary force. Moreover and as I have stated many times, the Fed cannot give money away, spend it, or force anyone to spend it. That is a very tough battle for the Fed with attitudes where they are (and as I have mentioned, attitudes are very important). Banks do not want to lend, credit-worthy businesses do not want to borrow, and consumers are still deleveraging. Those are extremely deflationary forces.Would Printing $50 Trillion Tomorrow Do Anything? Ignoring interest on excess reserves (a proviso I mentioned), printing $50 trillion dollars tomorrow might not do anything. Indeed, if $50 trillion printed tomorrow sat as excess reserves (the most likely event), it would have the same effect as if it was buried in the ground, or not printed at all. Such is the nature of a credit-based economy, and a point that has caused hugely inaccurate inflation forecasts from many Austrian economists. As previously mentioned, such massive printing might briefly cause a temporary attitude change accompanied by a brief asset bubble of some sort (especially in long-dated treasuries given banks would put some of it to that use). However, massive printing would collapse treasury rates, further destroying those on fixed income, and make it even harder for pension plans to meet assumptions. Since printing $2 trillion did not spur credit expansion, pray tell why would $50 trillion?Theory vs. Practice Certainly we are guessing as to what printing $50 trillion might do. As a practical matter, the odds of finding out are essentially zero. The Fed is not going to print $50 trillion tomorrow. More realistically, would printing $2 trillion a year for the next 10 years cause hyperinflation? No, it won't. So where is Fed induced hyperinflation going to come from? The answer is it isn't.Government vs. the Fed At this stage in the cycle, and in sharp contrast to what most believe, the Fed is essentially powerless (which is exactly why Bernanke is begging Congress to act) In contrast to a Fed that cannot spend money (except to meet its payroll and expenses and pay interest on reserves, etc), the federal government could actually spend $50 trillion tomorrow. But it won't. Hyperinflation? Even from a monetary aspect hyperinflation is nowhere in sight.Hyperinflation is a Political Event, Not a Monetary Event It's important to note that hyperinflation is not really a monetary event in the first place. Rather, hyperinflation is a political event caused by governments. I responded that way in an email to reader Peter who replied "Sorry, but your theory is not based on the data. Read the literature on high and hyperinflation episodes." Well, I have read countless excerpts and Peter is badly mistaken. Please consider Hyperinflation Nonsense in Multiple Places. The entire post is worth a look for some remarkably silly predictions, but for the debate at hand, here is the pertinent snip: Jeff Harding at the Daily Capitalist asks Why Does Hyperinflation Occur? In every modern case of hyperinflation the decision to inflate was a political one, not an economic one. In almost every case hyperinflation followed a war or a coup or some massive political change such as the end of the Soviet empire or the rise of a dictator or a populist-socialist takeover, and other political unrest. In the 20th Century there were quite a number of hyperinflationary events. I used the Wikipedia list of modern hyperinflations (Since WWI) and researched the political circumstances of each country. The circumstances can be put into three rough categories: post-war disruption, post-Soviet collapse, and socialist-populist regimes. For example we all know what happened in Germany during after WWI when politicians, mostly socialists, blamed all their problems on reparations and continued to print so much money that it resulted in the famous cash-in-a-wheelbarrow photos. They literally had no clue what they were doing. The post-Soviet empire collapse is easier to understand as former communist/socialist regimes fought for power and struggled with economic policy. Many of these countries have reformed or were forced to reform their monetary and fiscal policies. Many of the socialist-Marxist regimes were Latin American populist governments who employed “revolutionary” anti-capitalist nostrums for economic policy. Chile (Allende) and Argentina are good examples. Argentina has had years of high inflation to hyperinflation since 1980. In Africa most countries were a mixture of strongmen with socialist-Marxist policies. I am not suggesting that these were pure socialist governments, but rather the typical situation where the government seizes or controls large parts of industry and issues regulations controlling much economic activity. These hyperinflations all had one common denominator: during a period of instability, spending was used as a political tool and it got out of hand. I understand that the circumstances of each country were different and that it is perhaps unfair to say, lump Israel in with Argentina. But each country faced political factors that created instability or a national crisis; the government spent heavily to gain popular support, and resorted to the printing presses to pay for their spending. Harding is correct. This is how I further elaborated... Zimbabwe vs. Weimar In Zimbabwe, the Mugabe government initiated a "land reform" program intended to correct the inequitable land distribution created by colonial rule. Ultimately, Mugabe's attempt to to bail out the poor at the expense of the wealthy is what triggered capital flight and loss of faith of the currency. His reforms not only caused a flight of capital and human capital (the wealthy), they also led to sanctions by the US and Europe. In response, Mugabe turned on the printing presses but the loss of faith in the currency had already occurred. In Weimar Germany, printing for war reparations kicked off hyperinflation. Wikipedia provides a good accounting in Inflation in the Weimar Republic. It is certainly not impossible for there to be a complete loss of faith in the US dollar, however there odds are extremely remote.Can The Fed Cause Hyperinflation? I do not think the Fed itself can cause hyperinflation and more importantly I am sure they would not if they could. The reason is "Hyperinflation Would End The Game"Hyperinflation by definition would destroy the currency and thus the banks Hyperinflation would destroy the wealthy and all their corporate bond holding Hyperinflation would destroy the Fed Hyperinflation would destroy the wealthy political class To understand how powerless the Fed is, one needs to understand the difference between credit and money, how much the former dwarfs the latter, and what the Fed's role is in getting banks to lend. Hyperinflation Model is Complete Silliness Those calling for hyperinflation are extremely misguided. It is not going to happen in any timeframe worth discussing. On the political side, no country is going to force war reparations on the US. The US is not going to peg its currency to another, the Fed is not going to print $50 trillion (and it would not matter anyway unless Congress spent that much), government is not going to confiscate land to the point of causing massive human and capital flight, etc. etc. Moreover, the US's gold holding, the fact the US has the largest capital and bond markets in the world coupled with ease in starting a business vs. nearly anyplace else in the world, absolutely 100% precludes a hyperinflationary outcome for the foreseeable future. The hyperinflation model is absolute complete silliness. Mike "Mish" Shedlock http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.comClick Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post ListMike "Mish" Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction. Visit http://www.sitkapacific.com/account_management.html to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

30 августа 2012, 10:00

Water crisis will make Gaza strip 'unliveable'

Banks must approve plans for a $500m desalination plant that would provide a new water supply, conference hearsThe Gaza strip faces a water crisis that will soon make it "unliveable" unless plans for a $500m desalination plant are approved by banks, delegates at a water conference in Stockholm were told this week.Water for the 1.6 million people – half of them children and two-thirds refugees – who live in just 365 sq km of land bordering the Mediterranean comes entirely from the shallow coastal aquifer shared between Gaza, Israel and Egypt, which is only partly replenished each year by rainfall. Decades of overpumping and heavy pollution from salts and waste water has left the aquifer highly degraded and in danger of irreparable damage.UN hydrologists say no more than 55 million cubic metres (mcm) of water should be abstracted a year, but present exploitation rates run at around 160mcm. If this continues, says the UN, it could result in the water table dropping to a point where massive sea water intrusion permanently destroys the source within a few years.In addition, the little water available is heavily polluted by nitrates from uncontrolled sewage, and fertilisers from farmlands, making 90% of the water unfit for human consumption. With the Gaza population expected to increase by 500,000 within eight years, and nearly 25% of all illnesses in Gaza water-related, the urgency for countries to put aside differences and address the issue is growing. "The aquifer could become unusable as early as 2016, with the damage irreversible by 2020. UNEP [the UN Environment Programme] recommends ceasing abstraction immediately as it would otherwise take centuries for the aquifer to recover. Even with remedial action now to cease abstraction, the aquifer will take decades to recover," said a UN Relief and Works Agency report published this week.The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) expects demand for fresh water to grow to 260m³ per year by 2020, a 60% increase on current levels of abstraction from the aquifer, the UN report says."We are facing a crisis. If we do not address it now, then Gaza will become unliveable," said Shaddad Attili, minister and head of the Palestinian water authority in Stockholm to lobby the Swedish and other Nordic governments during World Water week.Plans for a desalination plant for Gaza have been discussed since 1996, but with water one of the underlying causes of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, political and security issues have always prevented work from starting. Last year the Palestinian water authority submitted new plans to the Union for the Mediterranean.However, what gives the scheme at least the possibility of success is that the principle of a desalination plant for Gaza is now backed by Israel, all Mediterranean governments, the UN, the EU and key development banks.Desalination may not be the most environmentally suitable solution, "but it is the only feasible solution of providing a new water supply to meet growing demand," said Rafiq Husseini, a water expert at the Union for the Mediterranean, a grouping of 43 countries which this year approved the scheme.Palestinian authorities hope that the plant will be the cornerstone of a larger scheme to provide much needed electricity and clean water for everyone in Gaza. But with desalination being energy intensive, the whole scheme would need a 90MW power plant and cost in the region of $500m.Finance for the scheme is hoped to come from the Islamic Development Bank, which, says Husseini, has verbally pledged half the money, and Europe, via the European Investment Bank, the financial arm of the Eueopean Commission (EC) that invests around €70bn a year in soft, or cheap loans."This is not a risk-free project. There are many political and other issues. It cannot be financed through loans, but needs grant funding. It needs political commitment," said a spokesman for the bank, which is advising the Palestinian authority on how to finance the scheme.The next stage, he said, is for the EC to provide €4m for technical assistance. However, access to water across the region has become highly politicised and regional conflict has stymied all efforts to share it between countries. Water resources have paid a high price as the Middle East region has grown vastly in numbers in the past 50 years.The Dead Sea has dropped 33m and lost two-thirds of its surface area in a few decades, Jordan and Syria have siphoned most of the water off the Jordan river, and Israel maintains control of the water resources in the Golan heights and the West Bank.Jordan, one of the world's most water-scarce countries, has plans to transport water from the Disi aquifer in the south of the country to the capital Amman but this is thought to be hydrologically unsustainable with present population growth. The longer term regional solution is seen in an ambitious plan to link the Red and Dead seas with a pipeline.This, says its advocates, could pump around 2bn m³ a year of seawater from the Red sea over 200km to the Dead Sea where it would be desalinated and then pumped on to Amman in Jordan. Under present plans, around 800mcm of clean water would be produced, of which 150mcm would be pumped on to Israel.But all water schemes in the Middle East are complex, mostly requiring the elusive consent of several countries – virtually impossible until the Arab-Israeli conflict has been resolved.The stakes are high, with all major parties now agreed that it makes humanitarian and political sense to build the plant. "We cannot wait until the conflict is resolved. We need to drink .The issue is not just water for food and drink but for the stability and security of the world," said Al Attili.WaterAccess to waterIsraelMiddle East and North AfricaGazaPalestinian territoriesJohn Vidalguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds