Sunday, March 20, 2011

Libyan update - International forces begin Libya strikes

From: AlJazeeraEnglish | Mar 19, 2011

International forces have begun military operations in Libya, with French fighter jets taking out several tanks operated by pro-government forces, while over 100 US Tomahawk cruise missiles struck at air defence sites.

The US is taking the lead in the first phase of operations, but says it will be handing over control to coalition partners "in the coming days".

Is QE3 Ahead?

Llewellyn H Rockwell Jr
Austrian School economists have often explained the business cycle using the metaphor of liquor or drugs. The expansion of paper money and credit gives a sense of exuberance, an economic high that leads to excessive risk-taking and ballooning production. But it can't be sustained. There is a morning after.

Then what? There is a choice: more drugs and liquor or sobriety. Sadly, the economy - meaning the choices made by you, me, and billions of others - is not permitted to make the choice. It is made for us by our lords and masters in Washington. Here are the meth dealers. Guess what choice they make.

And so we had Bush's QE1 (QE stands for "quantitative easing," a euphemism for printing money), but the effects didn't last that long. Then there was Obama's QE2, the effects of which are likely to run out sometime this summer. (As an aside, maybe we should just start referring to the QE[n] administration, inserting the appropriate number, since otherwise these presidents are mostly interchangeable.)

Note the following important point. These various attempts to restore the inebriated happy time have unpredictable and uncontrollable effects, and the metaphor helps here, too. The body is weakened. It might take more of the drug to get the same effect. The drug promotes underlying disease. Each new dose makes the person ever less rational and coherent.

The stimulant can land everywhere but where it is intended to land by the money printers. The Fed wanted to lift housing prices and re-stimulate the entire real estate sector. But guess what? Housing prices are still falling, and new home construction just tanked at a faster rate than at any time in 27 years.

What is being stimulated? Stock prices, certainly, but that is not wealth. Stock prices are just prices. They are no different from apple prices, coffee prices, and gas prices. When these go up, do we say: fantastic news, we are wealthier! Of course not. The belief that a rising stock price is great news remains one of the most wicked of all economic myths.

Then there is the problem of price increases more generally. The producer price index for February has generated terrifying results, though you probably haven't heard about them. Predictions were for a 0.6% increase but the reality was 1.6%, which points to double digits on an annualized basis.

And that's just the beginning. Food prices rose the most since November 1974. Prices of raw materials rose by 3.4% in February from the previous month. Intermediate prices climbed 2.0%, with diesel fuel up a monthly 12.6% in February. These huge increases were counterbalanced by falling prices in cars, trucks, warehousing, and other areas that are already showing signs of a post-boom slump.

Will there be a QE3? Most likely. Look at this exchange with Bernanke at the National Press Club:

Q: Will there be a QE3?

Bernanke: In the end, we'll just ask the same questions. Where's the economy going, and what do various inflation indicators look like? We'll ask those questions. If unemployment is still too low, then we may continue. If we're moving towards full employment, then we won't need to stimulate more.

And what is full employment? The Fed's statisticians believe that it is 6% or so, and we are nowhere near headed that way. Plus, Bernanke is wholly wrong to believe that somehow employment can be used as a measure of economic health. For many decades, socialist economies bragged about zero unemployment, but the economies regressed year after year. Even in mixed economies like ours, high employment is most often an effect of prosperity and never a cause.

Plus, we can't believe Bernanke that employment data alone will drive the decision. He is an errand boy for the big banks and Wall Street. That will drive his decisions, along with politics. And we can be all-but-certain that there will be plenty of bad news by the summer, which will provide enough cover for another round of stimulus.

Meanwhile, what's anyone going to do about the problem of much higher prices, which is the ghastly beast waiting around the corner? The truth is that the Fed pretends as if it has nothing to do with this. Bernanke routinely says that prices are formed by supply and demand - which is true enough in a free market, but money creation complicates the picture.

Another truth is that the Fed doesn't really care about inflation as much as it cares about the solvency of the banking and financial systems. Bernanke would drive us right into hyperinflation to save his industries. Savers living on pensions just don't have the political clout to stop the money machine.

And contrary to Bernanke's promises, he does not have the ability to turn off the monetary spigot once prices start zooming. The economy is too globalized for that. Keep in mind that though the Fed has loads of power, it has no power to control inflationary expectations and the demand for cash generally - and in hyperinflationary environments these are the driving factors.

History is littered with monetary managers who believed they were in total control, until the disaster they caused hit. It is hubris of the first order to believe themselves masters of the universe - but hubris is epidemic in Washington.

QE3 is playing with fire. Or with a third dose of meth. Or another bottle of Four Roses. Choose your metaphor. It is a bad and deeply dangerous policy, all built on the insane view that if you stimulate a zombie with enough fiat money, it will start to live and breathe on its own.

Reducing this even more, consider: If you drink enough, does your body start to generate its own liquor? The Fed and the government have hooked the American economy on a wicked drug. Our job is to drive the dealers from their seats of power.

March 17, 2011

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him mail], former editorial assistant to Ludwig von Mises and congressional chief of staff to Ron Paul, is founder and chairman of the Mises Institute, executor for the estate of Murray N. Rothbard, and editor of See his books.

Michael Pento - on Japan and US debt

Michael Pento discusses the Japan disaster and the implications it has for US govt. debt with Eric King of King World News.......listen here

End of Empire: FBI Busts Mastermind Criminal For Issuing Silver Currency, Demanding Repeal Of Fed And IRS

From Zerohedge:

The FBI, which apparently has no major criminals to pursue, is now busting those who are preparing for the dollar's imminent destruction.

Bernard von NotHaus, head of the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code, commonly known as NORFED and also known as Liberty Services (his website can, or rather could, be seen here), which since 1998 has been issuing silver coins as a replacement for the relentlessly devaluating US currency, was convicted today by a federal jury of making, possessing, and selling his own coins. " Following an eight-day trial and less than two hours of deliberation, von NotHaus, the founder and monetary architect of a currency known as the Liberty Dollar, was found guilty by a jury in Statesville, North Carolina, of making coins resembling and similar to United States coins; of issuing, passing, selling, and possessing Liberty Dollar coins; of issuing and passing Liberty Dollar coins intended for use as current money; and of conspiracy against the United States."

The devious scheme for which von NotHaus faces up to 15 years jail time: "NORFED’s purpose was to mix Liberty Dollars into the current money of the United States. NORFED intended for the Liberty Dollar to be used as current money in order to limit reliance on, and to compete with, United States currency."

In other words make the US currency less credible. We are confident the Chairsatan will take this shining example of what happens to "counterfeiters" of US currency to heart, and promply proceed to release another cool trillion in green 75% cotton/25% linen products, forcing US jails to promptly fill up with millions of subversive elements who no longer wish to interact with the former reserve in full

From the FBI

GATA's comments on the case:

"Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism," U.S. Attorney Tompkins said. "While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country. ... We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption, and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government."

Undermining the legitimate currency of this country? Representing a clear and present danger to the country's economic stability?

Does the U.S. attorney mean undermining the currency that has lost something like 98 percent of its value since the enactment in 1913 of the Federal Reserve System about which the Liberty Dollar operation complained? Does the U.S. attorney mean a danger to the economic stability of the country that has been using that ever-devaluing currency, the country that has experienced only booms and busts and even a couple of depressions under the reign of the Federal Reserve? And by "democratic form of government," does the U.S. attorney mean the Federal Reserve System that, in secret, rigs markets and bestows virtually infinite patronage on the large banking houses that have been looting the country?

If undermining that currency and the economic stability of the country that uses it is really a crime, and if damaging democracy is really a crime, why haven't a few Fed chairmen been prosecuted? in full

USS Barry launches its Silver at Libya

Korea: Prosecutors raid Samhwa Savings Bank

This is a followup story on these previous posts, here & here.

From the Korean Times
By Lee Hyo-sik

Prosecutors raided the headquarters of Samhwa Mutual Savings Bank and a residence of its chairman, Friday, on suspicion that the bankrupt savings bank had illegally extended loans to construction firms and other borrowers.

The Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office said investigators searched the bank headquarters in southern Seoul as well as the homes of its chairman and other senior executives and confiscated computer hard disks and financial documents.

The raid came three months after the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) suspended the savings bank’s operation for six months and filed a complaint with the prosecution about its alleged illegal lending to builders and other borrowers.

A prosecution official said after completing the analysis of seized documents and computer files, investigators will summon the Samhwa chairman and others involved in the bank’s suspected lending irregularities for questioning.

They are looking into whether the savings bank followed standard procedure when extending loans, which later went sour.

Samhwa’s senior executives are also suspected of engaging in illegal lending to extend loans to businesses and individuals that were ineligible.

The Seoul-based savings bank’s debts exceeded assets by 50.4 billion won ($45.2 million) and its capital adequacy ratio fell to minus 1.42 percent in June last year, lower than the mandated regulatory minimum level of 1 percent.

A rare light shone on the murky world of High Frequency Trading

From the NY Times:

A former Goldman Sachs computer programmer convicted of stealing source code from the firm was sentenced on Friday to more than eight years in prison, capping a case that had shone a rare spotlight on the world of lightning-fast computer-driven trading.

A federal jury in Manhattan in December found the programmer, Sergey Aleynikov, guilty of stealing proprietary code that places trades using computer algorithms that spot tiny discrepancies in stock prices. Such trading earned Goldman about $300 million in 2009.

Before leaving Goldman for a new job at a start-up, Teza Technologies, federal prosecutors had claimed, Mr. Aleynikov secreted the code onto a server in Germany to get around the investment bank’s security systems.

The prison term, while at the low end of federal sentencing guidelines, was four times what probation officials had recommended. Prosecutors had asked for as much as 10 years.

Both the defense and the prosecution cited the recent case in Manhattan of Samarth Agrawal, a trader at Société Générale, who was convicted of stealing proprietary code from its high-frequency trading business. Mr. Agrawal was sentenced in February to three years in prison, less than the government’s on

Video of the Japanese Tsunami from the Sea and the Land

Libyan update

From: RussiaToday | Mar 19, 2011
French military jets are already flying over the country, to enforce the UN backed no-fly zone. Foreign leaders meeting in Paris said they're ready to do whatever it takes to stop Colonel Gaddafi targeting civilian areas. Reports from Libya, suggest forces loyal to Gaddafi are carrying out attacks on the rebel stronghold city of Benghazi, despite the government ceasefire. RT's Paula Slier is in Tripoli.

At a meeting in Paris, French president Nicholas Sarkozy said his country's planes are now over the town of Benghazi, preventing any attacks against civilians. RT correspondent Daniel Bushell reports.

Japan nuclear update

Running from Tsunami: Dramatic rescue video of moments when water hit Japan

From: RussiaToday | Mar 18, 2011 |

Dramatic video has emerged from Japan of people scrambling to get onto the roof of a building to escape rapidly rising waters in the moments after the devastating tsunami struck last Friday. Following their escape, the footage then shows people attempting to save others stranded in nearby trees, and on top of cars, with the help of a hose pipe. The drama takes place in the city of Sendai against a backdrop of swirling water and devastation, cars piled up against trees and buildings.

1650kg of Silver fired at Libya to enable No-Fly Zone

From: AlJazeeraEnglish | Mar 19, 2011

US Vice Admiral William Gortney, the director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff, briefed journalists on the first phase of the UN-backed international military operations against forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.

Note each cruise missile contains approx. 15kg of silver in wiring, contacts, solder and batteries.