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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Mass Animal Death Mystery Just Got More Mysterious

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Natural science, Philosophy, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 20.01.11 at 02:49

This is now beyond weird – its plain spooky. Reports of mass animal deaths keeps coming in. Any plausible explanations, however, is totally absent. On Tuesday, 200 cows was found death on a farm in Portage County, Wisconsin, USA. Cause of death is yet to be determined. Yesterday a large number of dead, half rotten, fish was found floating in the area around Stjernøya in northern Norway. And here neither fishermen or authorities are able to figure out what kind of fish it is.

“It was a sad sight, and the whole fjord smelled absolutely terrible. It became worse further up the fjord where large amounts of fish was floating, partially disintegrated. All down in the fjord, it looked as if there were large quantities of dead fish at the bottom.”

Tor Mikkola


The Norwegian broadcasting Cooperation (NRK) reports of large amounts of dead fish found in Kjerringfjorden at Stjernøya in northern parts of Norway. At the moment, no ne can say where the fish originally comes from. And even more odd – no one can say for sure what kind of fish it is.

Local resident, Tor Mikkola, who first discovered the dead fish, tells NRK that it looked like herring at first, “but after looking a bit closer on some of them it looked more like saith,” he says.

These parts of Norway is traditionally populated by fishermen who usually knows what there is to know about fish.

Elisabeth Arild at the local FSA in Alta says that she is uncertain about what type of fish it is, based on the pictures she has seen.

“It is difficult to conclude anything just by looking at the pictures. It is perhaps small saith, that are not gutted. It may be from a fishing device that has been left there in where the fish has died,” she says, but points out that this is pure speculation.

The dead fish in the Norwegian fjord would not have been a big deal if it wasn’t for all the other cases of mass animal death being reported at the moment.

It happens from time to time that large amounts of fish gets killed by diseases, or other natural causes.

And there’s a lot of fish farming in the area. Last year one producer of salmon had to clean up 50 tons of fish who allegedly had died of hypoxia – lack of oxygen.

But the ting is; mass fish kills have also been reported in the US, Brazil and New Zealand, along with 40,000 dead crabs that washed ashore on the British beaches.

In addition it’s been reported that thousands of dead birds fell from the sky in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve, following a massive fish kill just 100 miles away days earlier.

In the week following, other mass bird deaths were reported in nearby Louisiana and Kentucky.

Birds were also reported to fall dead from the sky in Italy and Sweden, and more recently similar incidents have been reported in California and Alabama.

And now – cows.

200 Dead Cows

200 cows were found dead Friday on a farm in Portage County, Wisconsin, AP reports.

The dead cows had to be removed with semi-trucks. The rest of the farm has not been quarantined, as officials say no threat is posed toward humans or other animals.

The owner of the dead cows was working with a local veterinarian, who initially believed a virus such as infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) or bovine virus diarrhea (BVD) could be the culprit, according to The Wausau Daily Herald.

WSAW News reports that more recent updates have suggested pneumonia as the cause of the mass cow deaths, though such widespread cases of pneumonia are rare.

Tests are still underway to determine what is responsible.

(WSAW’s full video report here.)

In a recent news report, a veterinarian says he believes the cows died of acute interstitial pneumonia

Investigators are, however, still working to determine what caused the death of 200 steers in Portage County.

Many explanations have been offered for the various mass animal deaths, with everything from fireworks, semi-truck collisions, overeating and cold weather blamed for the birds’ deaths.

Cold weather has also been pinned to likely be the cause of many of the fish and crab deaths, as well.

According to some experts, mass animal deaths are not all that uncommon.

But the fact remains: There has been no exact and plausible explanation in any of these incidents.

As I said, this is now beyond weird.

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Related by The Swapper:

Who Killed The Blackbirds? The Aliens or Al Qaeda?

Low-Oxygen Zones In Oceans Worry Scientists

More Mysterious “Monster Fish” Comes To Surface

Norway: Police To Investigate “Monster Fish”

Coldest Winter In 1000 Years; Start Of New Ice Age?

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2011 Key European Issue: Politicians And Politics

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Philosophy, Quantitative Finance, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 11.01.11 at 02:11

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) will European politicians and lawmakers come under heavy pressure in 2011, as the politics become more confrontational and creditor countries’ willingness to sustain financial support is fading away. New austerity measures will be implemented and trigger a new wave of social unrest. It’s looking more and more like a worst case scenario, but at least the responsibility for the whole mess is about to be put in the right place.

“It cannot be ruled out that Europe will witness its first sovereign defaults since 1948.”

Economist Intelligence Unit


If a sovereign default should happen, it would put huge strains on banks’ balance sheets, potentially triggering further bank recapitalization in core euro states, EIU argues. “The EU economy has revived somewhat following an unprecedented contraction in 2008-09, but the recovery will remain faltering and uneven, with some countries recovering pre-crisis output levels quickly and others suffering long and painful adjustments,” the analyst concludes.

This is the key remarks by the EIU-analysts in their 2011 report:

* Euro crisis.

The sovereign debt crisis will continue to cast a shadow over the euro zone, and doubts about the single currency’s long-term survival will not easily be assuaged. Policymakers are slowly coming to terms with the fact that the survival of the euro area cannot simply be taken for granted and will depend on careful management of current stresses in the bond markets and weak banking systems, as well as reforms to fiscal governance and more determined efforts to tackle structural problems. Our core forecast is that the euro zone will avoid collapse in 2011, but there are likely to be more than a few uncomfortable moments. We expect that Portugal will be forced to access the EU/IMF financial stability fund, while Spain will need to roll over about 21% of its public debt in 2011, in addition to financing a budget deficit of over 7% of GDP. Financial-market jitters could resurface for many reasons, but a particular concern would be if investors became fundamentally convinced that the EU/IMF fund, nominally worth $750bn (US$990bn), was inadequate to bail out those countries needing assistance. Spain probably won’t need to request a bail-out, but the size of its economy means that any doubts on this front would present a particular risk to euro zone stability. The European Central Bank (ECB), meanwhile, by purchasing government bonds, has stepped into politically controversial territory and is likely to find it increasingly difficult to step back.

* Austerity.

The need to reduce large budget deficits will remain an obvious challenge for many members of the euro zone, and also for the UK. In 2011 austerity will become more visible in European countries as cuts in public services and pay bite. Economic conditions will also be rendered more difficult by the fact that the drivers of the global recovery in 2010 will have largely faded. A key question will be whether the supposed “cure” for fiscal ills will do the “patients” more harm than good by undermining economic growth so much that fiscal ratios worsen or, at least, fail to improve as much as policymakers had hoped. Moreover, if fiscal tightening starts to jeopardize the recovery, it may tempt governments to defer necessary austerity measures. The UK will prove a good test-case in this regard. The coalition government’s dramatic five-year fiscal consolidation programme comprises a mix of tax rises and the deepest sustained period of real-term public spending restraint since the 1940s. We remain of the view that policymakers are over-estimating the ability of a structurally weak private sector to drive economic activity as austerity bites, which could see the government facing the dilemma of either choking off the recovery or risking a rapid shift in investor sentiment by backing away from its fiscal targets.


* Social unrest.

Deep spending cuts and tax rises could have serious detrimental impacts on social and political stability. Sacrifices have been and will continue to be demanded of all those receiving salaries, pensions or other benefits from the state, while unemployment among public-sector workers is likely to increase. Greece in particular has been facing ongoing strikes against government austerity measures, by both public- and private-sector workers. We expect widespread industrial unrest to continue, but do not expect unrest to undermine the government’s efforts to rein in its budget deficit significantly. Political stability in Ireland will be significantly tested. So far, Irish citizens have accepted two years of austerity budgets with little protest. But the prospect of deeper cuts in the years ahead as demanded by the EU/IMF as a condition of Ireland’s $85bn rescue is likely to inspire social unrest. Dangers of social strife in other EU countries exist, but are lower than in the case of Greece and Ireland. Portugal has already undergone a long period of austerity and weak growth. Spain is only at the beginning of a period of public-sector tightening, but is over two years into a recession caused by a collapse in its property market (as well as the international financial turmoil) and has seen unemployment rise to over 20%, double that of most other countries, without so far experiencing anything worse than disciplined and peaceful protests. In France, recent trade union strikes to protest against an overhaul of the state-pension system served as a reminder of the potential for protests to cause significant economic disruption and trigger outbreaks of rioting. The government is likely to delay any further controversial reforms ahead of the 2012 elections. Trade unions in the UK are also expected to stage strikes as the scope of the government’s public-sector cuts become clearer. Comparatively tight legal restrictions on the ability to strike in the UK (in contrast to many other EU countries) will help the coalition to some extent, but we think that the scale of social unrest will prove to be considerably greater and more widespread than is currently assumed.


* Political relations.

The most important bilateral relationship in the EU is between Germany and France, both because their reconciliation laid the foundation of EU integration, and because they are the two largest euro area economies. As the political dynamics of the ongoing sovereign debt crisis demonstrate, Germany’s role in Europe is now more central than it has ever been. We expect Germany to maintain its commitment to the euro, but it’s increasingly assertive promotion of its national interest and reluctance to discuss the issue of macroeconomic imbalances within the euro area could trigger wider tensions. Relations between Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy have long been difficult and as discussions over how to hold the euro area together continue, frequent shows of unity are likely to be undermined by fundamental disagreements on crucial matters. There is a risk that relations could deteriorate. In general, French attitudes to the EU have become more sceptical in recent years, as the increase in the EU’s membership has reduced France’s influence. Mr Sarkozy may be able to point to the reform of financial regulations as evidence that the EU is developing in line with France’s aims, but the sovereign debt crisis has also increased the likelihood of a clash with the EU over the poor state of the French public finances.

* State aid.

Given how dependent many financial institutions are on national government and ECB assistance, the removal of the panoply of support measures (including liability guarantees, infusions of capital, government purchases of impaired assets and cheap central bank funding) might precipitate the failure of institutions and a further bout of financial panic. As a result, the phasing-out of support will be gradual. At the same time, efforts will continue to reconstruct internally those financial institutions that are being buttressed by government support. Having waved through all rescue packages at the height of the panic, the European Commission is now reasserting itself. It has already imposed large-scale downsizing on some banks, and more are being scrutinised. From the start of 2011, all financial institutions receiving state aid will be obliged to submit restructuring plans to the Commission (whereas previously this requirement was restricted to banks receiving support above 2% of their risk-weighed assets). The Commission’s active intervention is justified on the grounds that institutions that require state aid cannot be allowed an advantage over those that have survived unaided.

* Financial reform.

The implementation of a revised regulatory architecture for financial institutions will be high on the agenda, at national, EU and international levels. At the level of the EU, in September 2010 member states and the Parliament approved a major reform of the EU’s financial supervisory framework that will enable the creation in January 2011 of a European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), responsible for macroeconomic supervision, and three new bodies to oversee the supervision of banks, insurers and securities markets throughout the EU. European supervisory authorities (ESAs) will be charged with developing and helping to enforce a common rule book and reinforcing day-to-day supervision by national authorities. There is still considerable scope for any recommendations and decisions to be overturned by governments on the grounds of national budgetary competences. However, together with the new ESAs for the banking sector, the ESRB is likely to have considerable influence over future measures to counter the build-up of risk in the European financial system, such as capital boosts, counter-cyclical capital buffers or maximum loan/value ratios.

* EU budget.

The common agricultural policy (CAP), an elaborate mechanism to maintain prices of agricultural goods, was central to setting up the EU’s forerunner more than half a century ago. Although it has been reformed to be less market-distorting and costly for European taxpayers, many members wish to see further reforms designed to diminish EU intervention, whereas others are adamantly opposed. Recent extreme volatility in food prices and concerns about security of supply have strengthened the latter grouping. The CAP currently accounts for just under half of the total EU budget. Negotiations on how the CAP will be structured and funded for the next budgetary period (2014-21) will be time-consuming and contentious. Although the EU budget accounts for a mere 1% of member states’ combined GDP, and is unlikely to rise above this level, the amount that each member contributes generates some of the bloc’s most divisive and protracted disagreements. The next negotiations, which are already under way, will be at least as difficult as any before owing to the historically large deficits that many member governments are facing. The UK is leading a charge to cut the budget and wants the majority of savings to be found in cohesion funds, while maintaining spending on the CAP (which will please France and Germany). This will be fiercely resisted by newer, poorer member states from central and eastern Europe.

Greece was the first country ever to default in the year 4 BC. I looks like Greece is going to do it again, ups….

And a quick look at how the spreads on Irish Credit-default Swaps are moving, I think the Economist-people safely can replace their “ifs” with “when’s.”

But, you know, they are Economists.
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So, You Think You Can Blog? (Econotwist’s Greatest Hits 2010)

In Financial Engeneering, Financial Markets, Health and Environment, High Frequency Trading, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, Learning, National Economic Politics, Natural science, Philosophy, Quantitative Finance, Technology, Trading software, Views, commentaries and opinions on 09.01.11 at 20:40

Every serious blog is presenting their top lists for 2010 these days, so I better get my lists out there too. Frankly, I’m quite surprised by the response I’ve got. After all this was my first year as a full-time blogger. By summer last year, the econotwist’s blogs – mainly The Swapper and The Econotwist’s – reached 20.000 unique visitors per month. Some articles was also republished by other blogs, or featured on the publishing sites like Scribd. I estimate the top articles of Econotwist’s in 2010 was read by at least 200.000 people. And as usual I managed, completely unintended, to make some people a little bit angry.

“That article is about as credible as me writing about nuclear technology. Off-balance sheet transactions? SPEs? Interest Rate and Currency Swaps? Has that idiot even looked at an Annual report for BP?”

Reader’s response


The quote above was in response to the July 2 post – “So, You Thought BP Was An OIL Company?” I haven’t got that much pepper since I described DnB NOR‘s subsidiary in the Baltic region as at “financial lab rat”. Anyway, I see all feedback, good or bad, as extremely valuable. I have not been able to reply to all comments or requests. For that I apologize, and promise I’ll spend more time on your responses in 2011. As for themes I will be focusing on the technological side of the financial markets in addition to my other specialties – the relations between economy and ecology.

And I will have a couple of new prominent contributors joining in, as well as some other surprises…

But right now I want to give my sincere thanks to all of you who’s been cheering me on this year, making my first year as a blogger a definitive success.

To quote one of my favorite artists, (Keith Richards): GOLD RINGS TO YOU ALL !

And here is a summary of the most popular posts and publications by The Econotwist’s Blogs in 2010.

 

TOP POSTS

  1. So, You Thought BP Was An OIL Company?
  2. Mother Earth On Crack
  3. Volcano Ash Can Send The Earth Into “Deep Freeze”
  4. The Worlds Most Contagious Countries – Here’s The List
  5. Cyber Criminals Attack Critical Water, Oil and Gas Systems
  6. More Mysterious “Monster Fish” Comes To Surface
  7. The Ultimate Trading Weapon
  8. Norwegian Day Traders Convicted Of Market Manipulation
  9. Goldman Sachs: “Damn American Bastards!”
  10. Flight to Mystery
  11. The Sun Is Speaking!
  12. Here’s The REAL Norwegian PIIGS Exposure

 

TOP PUBLICATIONS

  1. Goldman Sachs: Global Economics Weekly. June 2010.
  2. Non Performing Loans, Europe June 2010. PriceWaterhouseCoopers
  3. Letter From Geithner
  4. SULTANS OF SWAP: BP Potentially More Devastating than Lehman!
  5. Speech by Mr Ben S Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve System, at Princeton. 09242010.
  6. Goldman Sachs: “On The Eve of The Bank StressTests”
  7. Tudor Investments Letter October 2010
  8. Saxo Bank. Quarterly Outlook. Q3 2010.
  9. BP Annual Report and Accounts 2009
  10. Bank of International Settlement. Quarterly Report. June 2010
  11. Oslo District Court. Final Verdict In The Case of Market Manipulation by Day Traders. 10122010.
  12. Fitch. Special Report. “CDS Spreads and Default Risk – Interpreting the Signals”- October 2010.

 

Econotwisted T-Shirt (Limited Edition)

OTHER SMASHING HITS AND PERSONAL FAVORITES

 

BEST PHOTO COMMENTS

The Greatest Conspiracy

 

The Dark Side of The White House

 

Trade Hard - Mega Hard

 

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MOST VIEWED iROCK VIDEOS


 

#1. “Nobody Lnpws The Bubbles I’ve Seen” (By Versusplus.com)

 

#2. “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot More RiskLess” (By Versusplus.com)

 

 

No matter what happens in 2011 – don’t forget to have some fun!

All The Best

Who Killed The Blackbirds? The Aliens or Al Qaeda?

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Learning, Natural science, Philosophy, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 06.01.11 at 19:17

Over the last weeks, there have been reports from. at least, three different parts of the world about hundreds and thousands of dead black birds falling from the sky. In the US authorities blame it on the fireworks, in Australia its said to be some kind of poison and in Sweden a truck drivers has admitted to rolling over a flock of birds sitting in the middle of the road in the middle of the night. The preliminary findings shows that the birds have internal damage. However, the truth is still out there, and other explanations are far more entertaining.

“I asked these guys who are out here picking them up and they don’t seem to know anything, nobody seems to know anything. It just kind of freaked everybody out.”

US Citizen of Arkansas


The reports on birds dropping dead from the sky is not the only strange phenomena observed in Arkansas recently:  Last Thursday, a day before New Years Eve and the dead-bird-rain, a tug boat operator on a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River discovered  over 100.000 dead drum fish, washed up on the river banks.
 

The drum fish were discovered near Ozark by a tug boat operator on Thursday – a day before thousands of blackbirds fell from the sky only 125 miles away – in Little Rock, the UK Daily Mail reports.

David Price, who spotted the fish from his parents’ Roseville house, located on the banks of the river, pointed and says: “Over from down here at the bottom of the rocks, out maybe 40 or 50 feet, there were just thousands of fish along the shore-banks all the way around the river here.”

‘This is kind of amazing because the fish were about a pound and a half a piece,’ Price says.

Travis Harmon of the Department of Environmental Quality says: ‘Barges reported passing up river and churning up dead fish from the bottom of the river. A single species is killed, and we don’t know the cause. If it was toxic, other species would be affected.”

Toxic, What Toxic?

Fisheries officials collected some of the dying animals near Roseville to conduct tests.

People have been warned about eating the fish.

Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says that a mass fish kill happens from time to time, but this case is particularly unusual.

“The fish kill only affected one species of fish,” he points out.

‘If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish, not just drum fish.”

Ozark, where the fish was found  is about 125 miles west of the town of Beebe, where authorities still are trying to find out why about 5.000 red-winged blackbirds and starlings fell from the sky just before midnight New Year‘s Eve.

Biologists believe the bird deaths were stress-related from either fireworks or weather and are unrelated to the fish kill near Ozark, according to Mr Stephens.

Although the two incident occurred one after the other, Mr Stephens says he believe that they are unrelated.

At the moment biologists are investigating the possibility of a new type of bird flu.
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A Global Mystery

I can see why the scientists think its hard to say if the cases of dead birds and fish are related or not.
At the moment, the following stories are being reported by the news media:
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  • Thousands of fish found floating in Florida after cold snap
  • 200 birds found dead on highway bridge in Texas
  • 50 dead jackdaws found on city street in Sweden
  • 100 tons of sardines, croaker and catfish wash up dead on Brazilian coast
  • Hundreds of fish dead in New Zealand
  • In Britain, 40,000 devil crabs join list of casualties

 

click to enlarge

Internal Bleeding

More and more animals are being found dead as the mysterious spate of mass bird and fish deaths has turned into a global phenomenon.

The latest two separate incidents saw thousands of fish found floating in a creek in Florida and 200 birds found dead on a highway bridge in Texas.

Experts were yesterday carrying out tests on around 50 jackdaws found dead in a street in Falkoping, Sweden, that appear to have suffered the same fate as thousands of their cousins who fell from the sky in separate incidents in the US.

The Swedish newspaper “Expressen” reports today that the preliminary findings shows that the birds have internal damage. According to Swedish zoologist Marianne Elvander there is no sign of decreases or infections. 

A Swedish truck driver have admitted to the police that he probably drove through a huge flock of birds sitting in the middle of the road on Monday night.

“He ran over some of them, and did not think there was anything strange until he saw the enormous media attention the dead birds has received,” says Christer Olofsson with the Swedish rescue service to the newspaper Aftonbladet.
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Anyway – the case is still a mystery.
And of course the speculations are flying high on the internet right now.
Among the more exotic explanations is that the animal killing is caused by aliens from another planet, or that is another plot organized by Al Qaeda.
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However, regular readers of The Swapper/Econotwist’s will know that this is not the first case of strange phenomenons involving animals we’ve experienced over the last two years, at the same time the earthquake frequency have increased by 133% as more and more extreme weather are swiping over the planet’s surface.
According to the scientists and the official expert nothing is related…..
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Well, I want to know WFT is going on!
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At The End of Another Decade

In Financial Engeneering, Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Philosophy, Quantitative Finance, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 02.01.11 at 01:29

New Years Eve 2010 (around midnight): It’s not only another year, it’s also the beginning of a new decade. Looking back at the past 10 years, the stage is set for a mind-blowing decade of technological breakthroughs that have the potential to change or lives completely. unfortunately, we’re probably also in for a long period of financial instability and high levels of unemployment.

“It is possible that we are facing one of the most important decades in a very long time.”

econotwist


I remember New Years eve of 2000; dot-com-mania, emerging markets,Y2K. However, I also remember 1990; deregulation, digital revolution and another collapse in our financial system. I think I’ve detected two major screw-ups over the last two decades.

I covered the stock market crash in 1987, as one of my first assignments as a financial reporter.

By 1989 economists and politicians had declared the troubles were over, the major  global economies was back on track, producing new jobs.

In my mind, the most memorable from headlines from 1991 was delivered by the Swedish newspaperDagens Industri.”

Like the page 2 editorial:

“Dear God, please cool down our economy.”

And the – now historical – headline from the day the Swedish bank central bank kicked up its key interest rate to 500%:

“Good Night, Sweden”

This was about six months before the crisis hit the Scandinavian banks like a Norwegian heat-seaking Penguin missile, and forced the governments in both Sweden, Denmark and Norway to take public control over the private banks.

They were downsized, sliced up, sold out and merged, and the result was five, six   major banks who orderly divided the Nordic home markets between them, and have so far managed to keep any serious competition out of the region.

All three governments still holds significant ownership in the Nordic banking sector.

The Scandinavian banking crisis was recently held up as an example on how to handle a crisis in the financial industry.

Well, we now have five or six banks in three small countries that have become so “systemically important” that they are “too big to fail,” and will have to be bailed out of “no matter what.”

On a global scale; the creation of financial companies that are of “systemically importance” so they cannot be allowed to default must be (at least one of the) “Biggest Screw-up of the Decade – 1990/2000.”

As for the decade now ending, not keeping up with the developments in the financial industry, allowing it to become an invisible, almost uncontrollable, monster, and not putting a stop to it, is a really heavy regulatory blunder.

In the aftermath of 2001, several financial companies and their executives were accused or convicted of fraud for misusing shareholders’ money, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fined top investment firms like Citigroup and Merrill Lynch millions of dollars for misleading investors.

Thinking back, it seems like we’ve been moving around in a circle.

Systemically we’re right back where we was in 1992, financially we’re in even deeper trouble.

The new international regulations, as they emerge in the final reports from the Basel Committee (Basel III), doesn’t provide anything that will make any significant and systemically changes.

So, my guess is that we’ll have to struggle with a dysfunctional financial market, debt and “systemically important”banks for still a long time – perhaps another decade.

Sadly, this means that the much debated economic recovery, in form of a helluva lot of new jobs, probably not is going to happen anytime soon.

I’m afraid it could take about another decade to get where we would like to be last year, in terms of labor market conditions.

But I’m also sure the next decade will bring a boom in one particular sector:

On this new years eve, we have more people using Facebook than Google, 60.000 new pieces of malware released on the internet every 24 hours and the banks are setting up high frequency information systems, with super fast connections from major central banks, financial authorities and government offices directly into their high frequency trading machines.

It’s all set for another golden age for computer engineers.

As far as the financial industry goes, it reflects the new market conditions imposed by law makers worldwide.

It’s not that amusing to engineer new financial derivatives, so the focus have shifted to the technical side.

The danger is that the financial markets grows even more complex and unpredictable, tied together in an unofficial, unregulated intranet of dark fiber cables.

And this goes beyond the markets and the economy.

Judging by the rapid pace of development over the last 10 years, the next 10 is definitively not gonna be slower.

With the so-called quantum computers just three to five years away, the computer technology, and our whole way of life, is destined for another evolutionary quantum leap, practically.

It is possible that we are facing one of the most important decades in a very long time.

I wish you all the very best.

Happy New Year!

PS:

I’d like to add a special greeting to all new readers/follower in 2010. Thanks for all your encouraging comments.

This summer the econotwis’t blogs (Swapper and Econotwist’s) blasted above  20.000 unique readers per month.

Many of you follow my Twitter, and I’m specially honored to welcome among my followers; the State of Israel, US Homeland Security and the EU Council.

Now that I got your attention; will you please tell the State of Kuwait to stop trying to hack into my computer!?

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The Great American EconoSongbook of 2010

In Financial Engeneering, Financial Markets, Health and Environment, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Philosophy, Views, commentaries and opinions on 10.12.10 at 17:58

Verusplus.com is putting their final touch on their “Holiday Songbook 2010,” and has just released another econoparody – this time it’s about foreclosures, mortgage securitization and (of course) banks.  The new song is a re-write of the classic “Oh Holy Night-” The versusplus version is called “Oh Robo-ly Night.”

“Our Might! We enshrine – Our right to be elephantine.”

http://www.versusplus.com



The versusplus.com 2010 HOLIDAY SONGBOOK continues with ROBO-‘LY RIGHT, an econoparody of “O Holy Night.”

Words by Placide Cappeau/Music by Adolphe Charles Adam/Translated from French to English by John Sullivan Dwight.

“ROBO-‘LY RIGHT” is also part of the versusplus.com operetta SONG OF THE ROBBER BARON, and introduces the Robber Baroness.

Download the “ROBO-‘LY RIGHT” song from iTunes (US): http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/robo-ly-right-single/id408225897

Watch “ROBO-‘LY RIGHT” on versusplus.com: http://versusplus.com or http://versusplus.com/roboly.html (with parody lyrics)

Watch “ROBO-‘LY RIGHT” on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upPp1kNJdRI

More great econosongs at iRock.

Julian Assange’s Letter of Defence

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Philosophy, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 07.12.10 at 18:08

WikiLeaks founder Julain Assange was arrested in London Tuesday after Swedish police issued an international arrest order for Assange based on the rather loose sex-charges from earlier this year. Assange, who has been “Americas Most Wanted” for a week, in hiding when his family and children received death threats, has just released a letter in which he asks for protection – not prosecution.

“WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.”

Julian Assange


“People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.”

The letter from WikiLeaks is titled; “Don’t shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths,” with the sub-title; “WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.”

It’s just published at the website of the newspaper The Australian.

recommended read. Here it is:

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain’s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can’t be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran’s nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange

Editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks

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WikiLeaks: The Diversion of A Decade?

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Natural science, Philosophy, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 06.12.10 at 20:54

There’s a lot serious stuff going on in the world at the moment. But somehow the center of attention is a young man who has managed to piss of some politicians and generals by publishing documents that proves what most people already know – or at least suspected. The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now subject to the most intense manhunt by international authorities since Osama bin-Laden for having sex without a condom. The fact that a stack of reports have been issued, warning about further deterioration of the global economy, currency wars, political instability and exploding social unrest, seems to be mostly overlooked. Am I the only one to  think it’s a little peculiar?

“The WikiLeaks saga is trying its best to offer distraction, but the crisis in the euro zone remains impossible to ignore.”

Robin Bew


It’s been a strange, almost surreal, weekend. Personally I’ve been fighting off a couple of attempts to hack into my computer system, and never in the 15 years I’ve been online have I ran into so many error messages when trying to load pages on the internet. What makes it even more strange is that the WikiLeaks frenzy is happening at the same time as EU and NATO is conducting its first ever cyber war exercise, the US launch a massive operation to seize close to hundred file-sharing web sites and thousands of hackers all over the world gathered at an event organized by Google, Microsoft, NASA and the World Bank.

And all this have been planned long time ahead. The latest release of documents from WikiLeaks was also notified months in advance.

So was the scheduled release of several economic forecasts for 2011 last week. However, these have more or less been drowned in the avalanche of more or less (un)important Wiki-stories filling up both mainstream and alternative medias.

So, I think it’s time to get the focus back where it belongs; on the developments of our global economy, as the Eurogroup meet for another crisis meeting this Monday and Bloomberg reports that the euro’s worst is yet to come.

“The WikiLeaks saga is trying its best to offer distraction, but the crisis in the euro zone remains impossible to ignore. With fears of contagion increasing, our ViewsWire service examines scenarios under which countries might exit the single currency,” chief economist Robin Bew at The Economist Intelligence Unit writes in an email to subscribers. Adding: “We think the euro will ultimately survive, but significant political and economic hurdles will have to be overcome, with Portugal now likely to follow Ireland and Greece in requesting emergency EU/IMF funding.”

Last week EIU released a bunch of reports, based on separate analysis on each topic.

You have to look very hard to find something positive to hold on to. In fact, I can’t remember having read anything like this from The Economist in a very long time.

This is the headlines:

The EIU label the three first predictions with “High Probability,”  the next three as “Moderate Probability” and the two last are seen as “Low Probability”.

As I’ve been pointing out since the financial crisis became visible to most people, we are in fact dealing with a three-part crisis; the financial, the environmental and the social.

There three problems are connected, they interact with each other, feeds on each other, making each other stronger – and it’s impossible to solve one without solving the others.

Robin Bew writes:

“The UN climate summit under way in Cancún, Mexico is highly unlikely to produce a global accord on emissions cuts, though modest gains, such as on forest protection, remain possible.”

Well, the possibility of rescuing a few trees is not gonna make much difference.

As for the social (poverty) crisis, Economist Intelligence Unit concludes:

“The risk is that instability becomes systemic, with political crises in certain countries affecting others through contagion or through the actions of populist new regimes seeking to assert themselves. Potential widespread disruption poses a considerable downside risk to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global economic forecasts.”

That’s right. Sovereign debt problems isn’t the only thing that is contagious.

The Economist Intelligence Unit‘s baseline global forecast assumes some increase in social and political unrest, but with serious fallout largely avoided. If economic circumstances were to worsen again, however, there is a danger though that incidents of unrest turn into far more intense and long-lasting events: armed rebellions, military coups, civil conflicts and perhaps even wars between states. In such circumstances, a repetition of the pressures that transformed global politics in the 1930s, though a far-removed worst-case scenario, could not be dismissed.”

In other words: If the economy gets worse, we may face a World War II scenario.

Now, take a look at the top three scenarios again…

First: Sovereign debt

“There are considerable concerns about the sustainability of public debt positions in a number of countries. Heavily indebted sovereigns – including developed economies, notably in the euro zone – could struggle to raise private financing even at higher interest rates, and some could default.”

“The US and the UK also face drastically increased fiscal deficits. They could moderate their debt burdens through inflation and devaluation but this risks undermining their bond markets, and the resultant spike in bond yields could force an acceleration of fiscal tightening, with highly negative implications for economic recovery.”

“Emerging-market defaults would create some ructions more widely, but as developed-country sovereign bonds have traditionally been considered risk-free, developed-country defaults in particular would wreak havoc on investor psychology. Banks would face write-downs on their government debt portfolios, and financial-sector guarantees by governments that default would be exposed as worthless.”

(Forecast: High probability, high impact, risk level 16)

Second: New Asset Bubble

“A flood of cheap money from stimulus measures, in particular carry trades drawing on record-low interest rates in the US, prompted a strong rally in a range of assets in the second half of 2009 and in 2010, particularly emerging-market stocks and bonds, but also in risky asset classes such as equities, high-yield bonds and commodities more broadly.”

“New bubbles could continue to grow for a considerable period of time, potentially several years, during which they will help to boost growth in the economies concerned. But they would burst suddenly, and still-fragile risk appetite could be a factor in this – a decline in risk tolerance could see investors pull their money out of emerging-market assets. Indeed, the rally in asset markets has been subject to periodic reversals in 2010 as concerns about the outlook for the global economy have re-emerged.”

“New asset bubbles may be vulnerable to painful corrections as central banks in emerging markets tighten monetary policy, fiscal stimulus is withdrawn, and the weak foundations of recovery become apparent. The resultant dislocations, including a shock to banks and a renewed rise in risk aversion, would reinforce and deepen a new economic slowdown.”

(Forecast: High probability, high impact, risk level 16)

Third: Currency Manipulation

“Tensions are rising over attempts by some countries to weaken their currencies, and the US and China remain at odds over the value of the renminbi. A global “currency war” would raise the danger of protectionist responses.”

“Tensions over exchange-rates have risen in recent months. The US Congress has been holding hearings on China’s exchange-rate policy, with a view to potential legislation to punish China for what the US regards as a mercantilist strategy of keeping the renminbi artificially low. A growing cohort of other countries are also worried about the strength of their currencies, including Brazil, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea. Market interventions by policymakers in some countries to weaken their currencies prompted Brazil’s finance minister, Guido Mantega, to warn of an “international currency war”.”

“Given the closely integrated nature of the global economy, governments will find it difficult to close off many aspects of trade, even if they want to. But trade disputes are likely to increase as populist policies clash with countries’ international obligations.”

(Forecast: High probability, high impact, risk level 16)

All eight summaries are uploaded on Scribd.

By the way – here’s the latest WikiLeaks stories:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in UK (BBC)

Feds block workers from WikiLeaks (CNET.com)

MasterCard pulls plug on WikiLeaks payments (CNET.com)

Swiss Bank Closes WikiLeaks Founder’s Bank Accounts (RadioFreeEurope)

WikiLeaks‘ Swedish servers come under attack again (The Herald Tribue)

Barack Omama Is More Dangerous Than WikiLeaks (American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research)

WikiLeaks Releases List of “Vital” US Facilities (Slate.com)

Google refuses to disclose whether they’d allow users to repost Wikileaks‘ State Department cables (The Atlantic)

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