Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Captain Rick: I want to share excellent journalism from a fellow journalist on WordPress. Its about ‘Brexit’ and the European Union.

Jonathan Fenton-Harvey

_88348627_p023612000202-901172

Many of those lauding the European Union do still manage to find fault with it. This can be from its treatment of Greece, to the crony corporatism that flourishes within its protection. Yet these profoundly detrimental attributes will be ignored by those who want to remain; instead, they will focus on heaping praise onto how important the EU is in that it unites us, promotes peace, and prevents a possible war.

Yet to see through this grave misconception, consider the concept of the European Union for a minute. The name itself speaks volumes: ‘European Union’. When broken down, it’s essentially a body that encloses the European nations together, forces them to integrate, and unites the people within it.

Clearly yes, it does unite Europe. But what of the rest of the world?

Think about the situation with Russia. The EU has recently announced that it will place further sanctions on…

View original post 427 more words

Captain Rick: President Obama has destroyed a relationship with Russia that the world applauded President Ronald Reagan for building when he stated those famous words “Tear down that wall” at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987.  This is a sad day…a day Obama has launched a new COLD WAR with Russia, even though he is trying to convince us otherwise.

President Obama announced additional sanctions against Russia today. Earlier Europe announced sanctions that I believe were pressured by Obama. While America is somewhat isolated from Russia, the EU might have set itself up for a huge fall. Obama is forcing President Vladimir Putin into a corner. Putin is a smart person…perhaps smarter than Obama could only hope to be. I caution that Putin’s Russia supplies a major amount of natural gas to Europe.

Something to think about … Supposing this winter when the weather turns cold in Europe, Putin shuts off Russia’s supply of natural gas to Europe? It could paralyze Europe. Its ripple effect could cast America and the entire world into a new recession of monumental magnitude. Lets also remember that Russia sits upon the world’s second largest stock pile of nuclear weapons.  I think Obama needs to exit his dream world, get a refresher course in reality and then learn how to shut is big mouth and mind his own business before he provokes Putin to seek revenge.

President Obama has lit the fuse to a new COLD WAR. All we can do now is watch the aftermath. I have a hunch that it is not going to be pretty. At my age, with some wisdom, I have to wonder what possesses the minds of recent US presidents to make them feel that they have to ‘rule the world’? Wouldn’t things be much better if our president ‘cooled his jets’ and minded his own business…like the monumental $18 Trillion US national debt…which if not brought under control soon…will automatically destroy America as a ‘first world country’?

image

Details of the new sanctions:

The new sanctions will restrict Russian state-owned banks from accessing European capital markets, and throw up more red tape to stop or slow the export of oil-related equipment and technology to Russia.

All new contracts for arms imports and exports between the EU and Russia will stop. There will even be a prohibition on exporting goods and technology that can be used for both military and civilian purposes.

The sanctions are part of a coordinated effort by Western nations to punish Russia for its role in annexing Ukraine’s Crimea region and supporting pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine.

The European Union had previously been reluctant to issue harsher sanctions against Russia because both regions rely on one another for about $500 billion in trade and investment each year. European leaders said they were ready to reverse their sanctions if Russia whole-heartedly worked to stop the crisis in Ukraine.

For now, we wait to see what comes of this new COLD WAR.

Facebook members: Join the active discussion on the UKRAINE CRISIS that is well under way with over 70 comments:
Captain Rick’s  open World Think Tank
World Think Tank
is a group of people with a concerned interest in the challenges of our world and a desire to share their thoughts in discussion with a goal of finding a better solution.
Not a World Think Tank member? You are welcome to join!

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title at top)

Interesting ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Links:

President Obama

World Think Tank

Captain Rick: PIMCO’s Bill Gross says that ultra low interest rate policies and ongoing bond buying programs like ‘Quantitative Easing’ around the world aren’t working. Bill refers to it as a global financial system that is "beginning to resemble a leukemia patient with New Age chemotherapy, desperately attempting to cure an economy that requires structural as opposed monetary solutions." He is challenging the Federal Reserve and other central banks to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

image

Bill Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of bond giant PIMCO. He is often called the world’s ‘bond king’.

I recognize Bill as one of the worlds most intelligent minds concerning everything related to bonds. Bonds help make our world grow. Bonds are the life blood of our cities, states and countries of our world. 

Bill writes a monthly ‘Investment Outlook’ news letter. His June report is entitled “Wounded Heart”, a nod to Bonnie Raitt’s 2002 tune. It is one of his finest. I will do my best to sum up his eloquent words of wisdom for the U.S. and other countries including Japan, England and Europe who are practicing ‘Quantitative Easing’ fiscal programs that are not working.

Excerpts from Bills “Wounded Heart” report:

“While the global central banks’ policies have stabilized economies, they haven’t succeeded in returning them to old normal growth rates”

"There comes a point when no matter how much blood is being pumped through the system as it is now, with zero-based policy rates and global quantitative easing programs, that the blood itself may become anemic, oxygen-starved, or even leukemic, with white blood cells destroying more productive red cell counterparts"

And to Fed chief Ben Bernanke’s claims that once economic growth has been restored to normal levels, financial markets can also return to normal interest rates and returns, Gross has a few stern words:
"Well it’s been five years Mr. Chairman and the real economy has not once over a 12-month period of time grown faster than 2.5%"
"Perhaps, in addition to a fiscally confused Washington, it’s your policies that may be now part of the problem rather than the solution."

To investors, Gross advises to reduce risk as the Fed continues to try to mend a wounded heart with blood that lacks the necessary oxygen. "Investors should look for a pacemaker to follow a less risky, lower returning, but more life sustaining path."

Read the entire Investment Outlook: “Wounded Heart”  by William H. Gross:  http://www.pimco.com/EN/Insights/Pages/Wounded-Heart.aspx

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Fed Financial Policy: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fed-financial-policy/

Investment 101: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/investment-101/

Stock and Bond Market: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/stock-bond-market/

Captain Rick: The 17-nation Eurozone economy contracted for a record sixth consecutive quarter, making this the longest period of recession in the Eurozone’s history. The recession has depressed business confidence, sent unemployment to record highs, inflation to record lows and blown attempts to cut government record debt.

Gross domestic product in the Eurozone fell by 0.2% in the first quarter. The GDP estimate was worse than economists were expecting, largely due to disappointing growth in Germany and could increase pressure on the ECB to take further action to try to stimulate activity.

Unemployment continues to hit new record highs. Unemployment broke through 12% for the first time in March, meaning 19.2 million people were without work in the Eurozone, 1.7 million more than a year ago.
Youth unemployment rose sharply, hitting 24% and leaving 3.6 million people under 25 looking for work.

Prices slumped and inflation has fallen way below the central bank’s target. Inflation posted its biggest monthly drop in four years in April. It fell to 1.2% and touched its lowest level since February 2010.

Eurozone debt hit 8.6 trillion euros, a record 90% of GDP, last year and is forecast to rise to 95% in 2013. As bad as this is … in contrast, U.S. debt to GDP ratio is 107%, trumping it as the worlds worst. One has to wonder if America is next in line to experience the hardships facing those in the Eurozone.

Future Concern: Economists are becoming increasingly concerned at the growing divergence between France and Germany, historically the twin motors of the EU economy and political integration.

image

France: French President Francois Hollande (shown above) who was elected a year ago after campaigning to put growth before austerity and introduce higher taxes on the rich, has seen his approval ratings fall sharply as unemployment continues to climb. In recent months he has begun to reform labor markets and pensions, and announced plans to cut capital gains tax. But he is moving too slowly for some, and his government continues to send mixed messages.

France, the Eurozone’s second-biggest economy, slipped back into recession. Its output fell by 0.2% for a second consecutive quarter as it suffered from weak exports and falling investment.  France faces a heavy financial burden from its labor unions and pension systems.

Italy: The pace of contraction eased. GDP shrank by 0.5% in the quarter.
Italy, the region’s third largest economy, nominated a new prime minister. Enrico Letta is a pro-European from Italy’s center-left. He wants Europe to ease up on austerity.

Spain: The recession deepened in the first quarter. The economy contracted by 2% compared with the same period a year ago, and by 0.5% compared with the final quarter of 2012. Spain has been stuck in recession for 21 months. It has been given two more years to bring its budget deficit to below 3% of gross domestic product. In contrast, the U.S. deficit ratio is 6.5% of GDP … more than twice as bad. One has to wonder if America is next in line to experience the hardships facing those in the Eurozone.

The number of unemployed in Spain broke the 6 million barrier during the first quarter, a new record. The unemployment rate rose to 27.2%, tied with Greece for the Eurozone’s highest. For Spaniards aged 16 to 24, the unemployment rate is 57.2%.

Greece: The jobless rate was 27.2% for January, tied with Spain for the Eurozone’s highest. In Greece, 34.2% individuals aged 25 to 34 are unemployed. It’s even worse for younger workers — 59.3% of Greeks aged 15 to 24 are out of work.

Portugal: Portugal was able to slow the pace of contraction to 0.3% from 1.8% in the fourth quarter.

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Info from previous reports:

European Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/european-debt-crisis/

Europe: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/europe/

France: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/france/

Germany: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/germany/

Greece: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/greece/

Italy: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/italy/

Portugal: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/portugal/

Spain: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/spain/

Home page (all reports): https://atridim.wordpress.com/

Captain Rick: Center-left Prime Minister Enrico Letta was sworn in Sunday to head a broad coalition of ministers from his own party and members of Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right party. The big question is … can he correct Italy’s current course of economic destruction?

image

In a speech to parliament Monday, Letta stressed the need to stimulate growth and create jobs, but said Italy couldn’t borrow its way out of trouble. “After more than a decade without growth, we can’t wait any longer for a policy of recovery,” he said. “Without growth and without cohesion, Italy is lost.”

Letta’s appointment ends two months of political stalemate with hope of economic stability, but many doubts remain about the coalition’s durability and uncertainty over how it will achieve its economic goals.

The priorities for Letta’s government mirror those of 87-year old Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who was persuaded to accept a second term after parliament failed to agree on an alternative. Napolitano established two expert committees to work on overhauling Italy’s convoluted electoral system and political institutions, and making structural reforms to restore competitiveness, boost growth and make a dent in the debt mountain.

Debt Crisis in Italy is severe

Government borrowing totals about two trillion euros, equal to around 127% of gross domestic product, a ratio surpassed in the eurozone only by Greece. The economy hasn’t grown for years, unemployment is near 12% and rising, and living standards for many are tumbling.

The eurozone’s third-biggest economy was brought to the brink of collapse in late 2011 when yields on its huge debt pile climbed to unsustainable levels around 7%. Tax increases and spending cuts by a technocrat government led by Mario Monti reassured investors. But they led to a backlash against austerity in February’s elections, boosting support for comedian Beppe Grillo’s protest movement and leaving no party able to form a government on its own.
Letta wants to adjust Italy’s unpopular austerity drive, and Berlusconi has campaigned for a tax on property to be reversed, but it is unclear how the new government would make up for the revenue shortfall as the economic situation continues to deteriorate.

Captain Rick wishes ‘Best of Luck’ to Enrico Letta, new Prime Minister of Italy

Enrico, I wish you luck in turning around the massive debt problem in Italy. Social greed for welfare is a sure invitation for economic destruction. Italy is one of the largest consumers of welfare spending in Europe. The party you represent loves welfare. I equate it to the Democratic Party in the U.S.

The U.S. debt has not yet reached the percentage of GDP as in Italy, but I see it as just a matter of time before it does. Americans will be watching what happens in Italy … perhaps as a ‘crystal ball’ vision of what awaits America.

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Info from previous reports:

European Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/european-debt-crisis/

U.S. Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/u-s-debt-crisis/

Fiscal Cliff 101: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

Italy: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/italy/

Captain Rick: France enters fourth quarter of recession as business activity slumps in Eurozone’s second largest economy. The French economy stagnated through the course of 2012. France’s performance in the first quarter of 2013 is shaping up to be the worst since the same period in 2009. Readings point to a contraction of 0.2% to 0.3% in Eurozone gross domestic product for the first quarter of 2013, after a 0.6% drop in the final quarter of last year.

image

America is not alone when it comes to difficult economic times. European countries have been experiencing similar economic problems to those in America…perhaps worse. The world, including America needs to pay attention to what our friends in Europe are experiencing. We all should see events unfolding in Europe as a ‘crystal ball’ to vision into the future for what is coming our way…especially for America, if it does not correct its current suicidal course of spending far beyond its means. 

Follow my reports of the European Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/european-debt-crisis/

Captain Rick: The Eurozone suffered its third consecutive quarter of decline at the end of 2012 as exports from leading economies Germany and France sank, deepening a regional recession that has driven unemployment to record highs.

Gross domestic product in the 17-nation Eurozone fell by 0.6% in the fourth quarter, leaving its economy 0.5% smaller than it was at the start of the year. The region saw a contraction of 0.1% in the third quarter.
Performances in all four of the region’s biggest economies — Germany, France, Italy and Spain — deteriorated compared to the third quarter of 2012. Output is likely to shrink in 2013 for a second year running, according to the latest forecast from the International Monetary Fund.

image

17 Member Eurozone

Germany, the Eurozone’s biggest economy, which accounts for about 30% of Eurozone GDP, suffered a contraction of 0.6%. The decline in GDP was was mainly due to the comparably weak German foreign trade. Exports of goods went down much more than imports of goods.

France, the second biggest economy, suffered a 0.3% contraction. France also suffered a sharp fall in exports in the fourth quarter, down 0.6% after growth of 0.7% in the third.

Weaker growth will make it harder for Eurozone governments to meet their debt-cutting targets and intensify the debate about the impact of a strong euro on the region’s recovery prospects.

With fiscal policy tightening, and the ECB in a holding pattern, exports offer one of the few opportunities for the recession-ravaged region to return to growth.

A stronger euro threatens to cancel out some of the hard-won gains in competitiveness brought about by wage cuts in indebted European states.
 
Many of the 17 Eurozone countries are in the middle of austerity programs that are reducing demand, and prompting households and businesses to defer spending and investment.

While policymakers have signaled a willingness to give states more time to bring their budget deficits into line with European Union targets, if the economy continues to deteriorate, there is no sign of a major change in approach.

Wider 27 Member European Union

The economy of the of 27 states of the EU went into reverse in the fourth quarter, shrinking by 0.5%.

The U.K. contracted by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2012, bringing it to the brink of a third recession in five years. The Bank of England trimmed its forecasts for U.K. growth in 2013 Wednesday while raising them for inflation.

EU Leaders hope for U.S. Trade Pact to boost Economy

EU leaders are hoping efforts to remove trade barriers with the U.S. could provide a shot in the arm for growth. President Obama promoted this trade pact in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening.
Both sides said this week they wanted to move quickly to start formal talks on a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement. 

Captain Rick’s Vision

There are many benefits that could be gained by both economies with such an agreement, especially in the area of regulation…like agricultural, medical and automotive safety standards. Considering the complexities involved, it will require a multi-year approval process…perhaps a decade or more. After all, genetically modified crops, which are commonplace in the U.S., are known as ‘Frankenfoods’ by many in the EU.

A trans-Atlantic free trade agreement will not solve either the EU’s or U.S.’s monumental debt and financial problems. While it could be a tool to help both economies, the EU and the U.S. need to face the realism that their economies are in need of much larger repair…that continual deficit spending of money that does not exist must end. The course that both nations are currently on will not achieve success…more probably, eventual failure. Both nations will need a significant influx of politicians with some ‘serious spine’ to ‘right our ships’. That kind of courage is so rare that I fear for both of our nation’s ‘ships’. Both ‘ships’ are leaning heavily on the port ‘left-welfare’ side. The question that remains is whether our ships are leaning too heavily to prevent the inevitable ‘titanic’ maneuver.

I welcome your comments.