Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jaitley on offensive as India takes up fight on agriculture subsidies

India was on the offensive on Tuesday attacking the United States and European Union for being responsible for depressed farm prices hurting poor farmers in developing countries because of high domestic support and export subsidies in industrialised nations.

"We made it amply clear the fact that depressed farm prices due to heavy domestic support and export subsidies in US and EU was hurting farmers in countries like India most as they were not getting remunerative prices for their produce," Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley is believed to have told US trade representative Robert Zoellick and EU Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lamy when he met them separately for one-to-one bilateral meeting in Cancun on Tuesday.

From a defensive stance, India was offensive on this issue and Jaitley was categorical in telling US and EU that reforms in agriculture should start first in Europe and America as farmers in poor countries were hurt because of their subsidies, raising serious livelihood concerns.

It was not the question of less distorting or more distorting subsidies as was being made out particularly by EU on agriculture negotiations at WTO, Jaitley, who indulged in some plain speaking on the eve of WTO ministerial in Cancun told both Lamy and Zoellick.

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FEMA's new toy

Mind blowing street art!!

The new hotbed of human trafficking Is ... Ohio

Those of you who thought Ohio was all about rock n' roll, amazing chili, and a seriously unhealthy football obsession may want to think again. A new report conducted by the Trafficking in Persons Study Commission found that 1800 people are trafficked in Ohio every year. This includes 800 immigrants who are exploited in commercial sex and factory work, as well as about 1000 American-born children who are forced into prostitution. Who would have thought that Ohio would be such a hotebed of human trafficking?

But why Ohio, whose largest city, Columbus, is dwarfed by neighboring Chicago? How can a place that sounds and appears so wholesome be responsible for forcing a thousand children into sexual slavery each year? The report cites weak laws on human trafficking, a growing demand for cheap labor, and Ohio's proximity to the Canadian border as the key reasons modern-day slavery thrives in the state. I'm going to take a metaphorical highlighter to that word "demand," because that is the key to the human trafficking crisis.

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Chicago police beat small woman



He has NOT been fired from the CPD. He is suspended until the police board reviews the case.

2/14/08 Abbate is charged with 15 felony counts of aggravated battery in a public place, communication with a witness, intimidation, conspiracy and official misconduct. He faces a maximum of 5 years in prison if convicted. As of 2/14 he's considering pleading guilty.

Aftershock



Some Israeli Soldiers Speak the Truth and motive of their duty.

Goldman, Greece --- It’s all one big conspiracy, man

From Jule Treneer's article in The Faster Times:

...European leaders have not shied away from directly criticizing the market's behavior, when they don't like it. This has been especially true while the Greek fiscal crisis has wound on. There's been a lot of talk, for instance, of a “speculative attack” on Greece, and thinly veiled warnings directed at market participants. After the Eurozone Finance Ministers' meeting last Friday, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde  went so far as to warn off speculators. They “had better be careful,” she said, “There is clearly a statement of solidarity—we are closing ranks. Whether we are big member states or small member states we are all in this together and we are not going to let any of us down.” She even followed this with an implicit regulatory threat.  “What we are going to take away from this crisis,” she added, “is certainly a second look at the validity, the solidity of [Credit default swaps] on sovereign debt.”

It's a little hard to imagine Tim Geithner, or any American politician of sound mind, threatening hedge funds with regulation if they didn't stop shorting the stock market. (Actually, he'd probably just ban the practice.)  But the swift drop in the Euro last week struck a nerve. It's just too reminiscent of the speculative attacks (by George Soros, et.al.) that surrounded the establishment of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, the system that preceded the Euro, in the early nineties. Last week, the short position against the European common currency hit a record high. Still, to call it a “speculative attack” is to take a point of view on the appropriate level of the Euro. Also, it assumes a concerted effort.

Unlike in the Anglophone world, where markets are spoken of like acts of nature, in Europe, it raises few eyebrows when politicians or commentators ascribe motives to the financial market.  Here's how Jean-Marc Sylvestre, chef economics editor for French TV channel TF1, recently described the speculative attacks on Greece:

The architects are investment funds, in particular hedge funds, with considerable liquidity, whose job it is to put that money to work for maximum profit… these investment funds choose an investment target they feel is fragile and swoop down on it very quickly… on the recommendation of their financial analysts, who returned from Davos brimming with confidence, many hedge funds began to sell Greek debt heavily, and then the Euro, hoping to redeem the paper in two or three weeks when it was worthless.

Note the predatory metaphor, the emphasis on their greed, and their analysts' pride— “swooping down quickly for maximum profit”, as opposed to, one imagines, less rapacious investors, who invest at a leisurely pace and for middling profits. The point is, there's a strong mainstream European tradition of belief that markets are controlled by cabals, at least some of the time. It's a point of view that could get you banned from CNBC...

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From Europe: Anglo-Saxon Bankers Go Home

We thought the Battle of Hastings ended in 1066?

Not if you listen to French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde description of the six “Anglo Saxon” financial institutions have been singled out for speculating on Greek debt during the ongoing crisis that has hit the European Union country.

[ ... ]

And Wall Street thought it had fight on its hands with the Obama Administration.

“If this were the U.S., they would get a gentle tap on the wrist but in Europe, they're more skeptical about big banks,” Simon Johnson, an economic professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, told the Associated Press. Johnson is calling for European regulators launch a special audit of Goldman and all its European clients going back 10 years to when the Euro was introduced.

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