Weekday NEWS to Comfort the Disturbed and Disturb the Comfortable.
Former Islamic Insider Offers Warning
BY JR NYQUIST - FinancialSense.com
Last week I quoted from a book by Reza Kahlili, A Time to Betray. This week I had a chance to speak with Mr. Kahlili by phone, and ask him about the Iran crisis. As a former CIA operative who worked inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, he understands the strengths and weaknesses of the Islamic Republic. He knows the Islamist mindset, and the errors that plague U.S. policy.
I asked Mr. Kahlili whether he thought a preemptive strike against Iran was a good idea. "The question is complex," he answered. "You should never have allowed Iran to become what it is today. You have missed opportunity after opportunity."
Colorado may follow Utah’s lead in gold, silver currency
BY KRISTEN WYATT - AP - SLTrib.com
Denver • Worried that the U.S. dollar may not be good as gold, some Colorado lawmakers are pushing a bill to legalize gold and silver coins as usable currency.
The bill would not lead to folks carrying gold nuggets in their purses and would have little practical effect.
Rather, the policy proposal from a small group of conservative lawmakers reflects anxieties about the nation’s financial stability, the domestic consequences of the European debt crisis and chronic deficit spending in Washington, D.C.
Gold Rallies Nearly 2% as Silver Jumps $1.21,
Bullion Silver Eagles Top 7M
Gold advanced 1.9% Tuesday after Greece secured a second bailout from the European Union.
"Gold gets a boost from the EU kicking the can down the road," Reuters quotedsaid Rob Kurzatkowski, senior commodity analyst at options Xpress. "Not only does the bailout perhaps delay the inevitable (Greek bankruptcy), but it also opens the door for higher inflation across the euro zone."
Gold prices jumped $32.60 to $1,758.50 an ounce in the April futures contract on the Comex in New York. The settlement price was gold’s best since February 2. The yellow metal moved between an intraday low of $1,727.00 and a high of $1,759.00.
Gold rises over 1 percent on Greek deal uncertainty
By Frank Tang and Amanda Cooper
(Reuters) - Gold rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday, breaking ranks with the euro and equities, as a massive European bailout deal had investors buying the metal amid doubts the bailout will work.
Gold rallied to its highest in more than two weeks after euro zone finance ministers agreed a 130-billion-euro ($172 billion) rescue for Greece. Analysts said the deal bought time for the single-currency bloc but left deep doubts about Greece's ability to recover and avoid default.
The Enduring Popularity of Gold
By Frank Holmes - U.S. Global Investors - GoldSeek.com
The World Gold Council (WGC) reaffirmed the power of the Love Trade in its 2011 Gold Demand Trends report released this week. Gold demand grew 0.4 percent in 2011 despite a 28 percent year-over-year increase in bullion’s average price.
After flirting with the top spot for some time, China emerged as the world’s largest gold market for jewelry and investment during the fourth quarter of 2011 as demand in India weakened. This is the first time China’s demand outpaced India’s in 11 quarters. However, India did retain the gold demand crown for the entire year, purchasing 933 tons compared to China’s demand of 770 tons.
Will the Greek Bailout Make Gold, Silver Rise or Fall?
By: Julian D. W. Phillips - GoldSeek.com
Some investors may feel that the Eurozone debt crisis has been resolved by the bailout from the other E.U. members. Whether it has or has not, is irrelevant to the price of gold, or is it?
There are still hurdles in the way, such as the acceptance by private Greek Bondholders of the 53% haircut and low interest rates they will get until 2015. But let’s assume the best and believe they’ll accept the terms. The first market reactions were to move up and hold new levels without any effervescence in any market. The moves had largely been discounted already. Yes, we’re seeing a shift of money from the U.S. Treasury market to the euro but not in large amounts yet. In this piece we look at the overall prospects for the precious metals.
Silver Will Become a Currency Again
Interview with Eric Sprott - SilverDoctors.Blogspot.com
When asked about his recent efforts to convince silver mining companies to save in silver rather than cash or treasuries Eric responded:
I think we have a bit of a voice in the silver market, and the reason for the letter was just the simple analysis that the paper traders were determining the price…and why should you physical silver producers let that happen?
And that was the primary thing- would you guys please think about what’s happening in your silver market! Plus the fact that it got bombed last year, and are you just going to sit back and lose $25 an ounce that you might otherwise be making, or are you ready to take a stand here? The other very easy argument for me, is when you have your money in a bank, you get no return. You essentially have no return. In fact I think it was expressed very well by the gentleman that runs UC Resources that you actually get a negative return at the end of the year because inflation’s higher than the return you’re getting on your money! I happen to be of the view that having money in the bank is a dangerous thing!
Strong dollar and profit taking are hurdles to gold rally,
buy at $1640-$1670: Barclays
NEW YORK (Commodity Online): Gold has found itself caught between some physical demand support and positively softer investor interest. Gold is in search of its next catalyst, but near term hurdles persist in the form of dollar strength and profit-taking.
-The minutes from the January US FOMC meeting suggested a subtle shift in the possibility of further near term policy action. While further QE remains a possibility, given the current economic backdrop, some members may be content with the loosening affect of extending the horizon of the forward guidance on rates.
Inflation Held in Check by Fear
By: John Browne - FinancialSense.com
History has shown us time and again that out of control money supply expansion creates inflation. In light of the trillions of synthetic dollars that have been injected into the economy by the Federal Reserve over the past five years, most observers (this one included) had expected prices to spiral upward. But in making these determinations, many of us forgot to factor in the supply side of the supply/demand equation. Inflation remains low now because of game changing events that have reduced the demand for money.
Is The Federal Reserve Doing A Good Job?
By Michael Snyder - EndOfTheAmericanDream.com
Have you noticed that very few people in the mainstream media ever directly criticize the Federal Reserve? But why should that be the case? Criticizing top politicians from both major political parties has become a national pastime. Most Americans love to throw mud at either the Republicans or the Democrats. But we are told that the Federal Reserve is "above politics" and that it is absolutely vital that the Fed remain "independent". The reality is that the Federal Reserve has more control over the performance of the U.S. economy than the president even does, and yet most Americans never spend much time thinking about the Fed at all. It is almost as if someone has instructed us to "ignore the man behind the curtain" and most of us just blindly obey. With the economy in such a mess and with the national debt exploding so dramatically, isn't it about time that we had a national conversation about the performance of the Federal Reserve? Isn't it about time that we evaluated whether the Federal Reserve is doing a good job or not?
* * * * *
Fed more powerful than ever... Fed Writes Sweeping Rules From Behind Closed Doors
[Google title for free article pass]
By VICTORIA MCGRANE And JON HILSENRATH - WSJ.com
The Federal Reserve has operated almost entirely behind closed doors as it rewrites the rule book governing the U.S. financial system, a stark contrast with its push for transparency in its interest-rate policies and emergency-lending programs.
While many Americans may not realize it, the Fed has taken on a much larger regulatory role than at any time in history. Since the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul became law in July 2010, the Fed has held 47 separate votes on financial regulations, and scores more are coming. In the process it is reshaping the U.S. financial industry by directing banks on how much capital they must hold, what kind of trading they can engage in and what kind of fees they can charge retailers on debit-card transactions.
As US Debt To GDP Passes 101%,
The Global Debt Ponzi Enters Its Final Stages
Submitted by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
Today, without much fanfare, US debt to GDP hit 101% with the latest issuance of $32 billion in 2 Year Bonds. If the moment when this ratio went from double to triple digits is still fresh in readers minds, is because it is: total debt hit and surpassed the most recently revised Q4 GDP on January 30, or just three weeks ago. Said otherwise, it has taken the US 21 days to add a full percentage point to this most critical of debt sustainability ratios: but fear not, with just under $1 trillion in new debt issuance on deck in the next 9 months, we will be at 110% in no time. Still, this trend made us curious to see who has been buying (and selling) US debt over the past year. The results are somewhat surprising. As the chart below, which highlights some of the biggest and most notable holders of US paper, shows, in the period December 31, 2010 to December 31, 2011, there have been two very distinct shifts: those who are going all in on the ponzi, and those who are gradually shifting away from the greenback, and just as quietly, and without much fanfare of their own, reinvesting their trade surplus in something distinctly other than US paper. The latter two: China and Russia, as we havenoted in the past. Yet these are more than offset by... well, we'll let the readers look at the chart below based on TIC data and figure out it.
Commodities Poised For A New Rally
By Justin Smyth - GoldSeek.com
The market has had an impressive run since the start of the year, but one sector that has lagged is the commodities sector. Unlike general stocks, commodities are still quite a ways away from their 2011 highs. Recession fears and a surging dollar contributed to the weakness in commodities last year. But a number of factors are starting to show the tide potentially turning for the commodities sector going forward in 2012.
Vitol warns crude could pass $150
By Javier Blas - FT.com
The world’s largest independent oil trader says oil prices could jump this year to a record high above $150 a barrel because of growing tensions with Iran.
Ian Taylor, chief executive of Vitol, said on Tuesday that the commodities trading house’s main scenario was for crude oil prices to remain at around current levels of $120 a barrel for the balance of 2012. But he warned: "Geopolitical risk, especially in the Middle East, creates potential material risk to the upside."
How Closely are Oil Prices Tied to Economic Activity?
Tobias Rasmussen and Agustin Roitman for the Oil Drum - OilPrice.com
Recent developments in oil markets and the global economy have, once again, triggered concerns about the impact of oil price shocks around the world. This column wonders whether the fuss is really necessary. It presents evidence of relatively small negative effects of oil price increases.
Increases in international oil prices over the past couple years, explained partly by strong growth in large emerging and developing economies, have raised concerns that high oil prices could endanger the shaky recovery in advanced economies and small oil-importing countries.
Following Keystone Rejection
Canada's Oil Sands Headed to China
By John Daly - OilPrice.com
Beginning in 2005, Congressional Republicans and the oil industry touted the 2,147 mile-long Keystone XL 830,000 barrel per day (bpd) pipeline, running from Canada’s Hardisty, Alberta oil sands to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
But last month, in an attempt to force a decision from the Obama administration on the pipeline, congressional Republicans tacked a rider onto legislation extending the payroll tax cut by requiring the government to decide within 60 days on the issue, which was rejected for the foreseeable future.
A repeat of 2008, only worse?
By: Steve Saville, The Speculative Investor - GoldSeek.com
Although it is a long way from being a mainstream view, over the past two months we've read several comments along the lines of: the financial world will soon be immersed in another 2008-style crisis, only worse. In some cases the commentator went as far as to suggest that the next crisis, which will probably soon begin, will make 2008 look like child's play. What, then, do we think are the odds of a 2008 repeat?
There's a high probability of another major financial crisis happening within the next three years. It is almost inevitable, because debt levels are higher now than they were in 2007 and because governments and central banks have stymied the corrective process with their many interventions. However, there is almost no chance that the next crisis will be similar to the last one, for the reason we cited a number of times during the course of last year in response to the "2008 repeat" forecasts that kept cropping up. Just to quickly recap, the monetary backdrop all but eliminated the potential for a 2008-style crisis last year.
Keiser Report: Hang-a-Banker-a-Week! (E252)
In this episode, Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, discuss London bars and cafes introducing Facewatch for criminals on the lower ladder of crime while Mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone, proposes an all together different solution to end the banking crime wave higher up the ladder. They also discuss Greek heists and tweets from Syntagma Square. In the second half of the show, Max talks to Zeus Yiamouyiannis about Greek tragedies and Greek solutions.
HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT GREECE?...
Greece Is Still Doomed: Why the New Bailout Is a Fantasy Europe kicks the can down the road,
while Athens continues to burn
By Derek Thompson - TheAtlantic.com
Greece has finally secured a new $170 billion loan from its European landlords, and the terms are just as unrealistic and doomed-to-fail as you expected. The fact that the country requires a second bailout that's practically the size of its economy -- now crashing through $270 billion and still falling* -- tells you what you need to know about the hopelessness of Greece.
The bailout plan offers financial assistance to Greece at sweetheart terms and asks bondholders to accept a 50 percent scalping. But the object of all this pain -- stabilizing Greece's debt at 120 percent of GDP by 2020 -- relies on fairy-tale growth figures that assume the Greek Depression will stop accelerating some time starting ... yesterday. Here's the fantasy chart, courtesy of Felix Salmon:
The leaked report that argues
the entire Greek bailout may be self-defeating... Presenting The Full Greek (Un)Sustainability Analysis -
Take It Away German Media
Submitted by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
You read headlines that Greece is saved (in a carbon copy release from July 21). Now read the truth behind the lies - presenting the 9 page (so it's brief enough) Greeksustainability (or lack thereof) analysis.
Here is the punchline:
The debt trajectory is extremely sensitive to program delays, suggesting that the program could be accident prone, and calling into question sustainability (Table 2). Under the tailored scenario described above, the debt ratio would peak at 178 percent of GDP in 2015. Once growth did recover, fiscal policy achieved its target, and privatization picked up, the debt would begin to slowly decline. Debt to GDP would fall to around 160 percent of GDP by 2020, well above the target of about 120 percent of GDP set by European leaders. Financing needs through 2020 would amount to perhaps €245 billion. Under the assumption that stronger growth could follow on the eventual elimination of the competiveness gap, the debt ratio would slowly converge to that in the baseline, but likely only in the late 2020s. With debt ratios so high in the next decade, smaller shocks would produce unsustainable dynamics, leaving the program highly accident-prone.
Greek debt accord hostage to political passions Eurozone leaders have put off the day of reckoning for a few more months but the latest €130bn rescue package for Greece offers no path out of the crisis and is hostage to explosive political passions.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Telegraph.co.uk
Greek elections in April are likely to sweep away the political class tainted by the hated "Memorandum" of the EU-IMF Troika, with the once dominant PASOK party down to 13pc in the latest poll and votes peeling away to the Communists, the Democratic Left, and Syriza.
Alexis Tsipras, the Syriza leader, told the Greek parliament on Tuesday that his country was victim of a "terrorist" assault. "This agreement is binding only on those who signed it. The accord carries the signature of a government with no popular legitimacy. It does not bind Greek democracy, or Greek society, or the Left. Very soon the sovereign people will regain their sovereignty," he said.
Greeks will suffer for five years
as part of resolving eurozone crisis Scale of cuts required to implement rescue package prompted analysts to raise spectre of another debt crisis later this year
By David Gow in Brussels - Guardian.co.uk
Greeks will suffer austerity measures for another five years as the price of their government securing a €130bn (£109bn) bailout to prevent national bankruptcy and chaos within the eurozone, it has emerged.
The scale of the wage and spending cuts required to implement the rescue package prompted an array of analysts to raise the spectre of yet another Greek debt crisis later this year and the country's exit from theeuro as recession deepens.
8 Reasons Why The Greek Debt Deal
May Not Stop A Chaotic Greek Debt Default
By Michael Snyder - TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com
The global financial system is not a game of checkers. It is a game of chess. All over the world today, news headlines are proclaiming that this new Greek debt deal has completely eliminated the possibility of a chaotic Greek debt default. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. Rather, the truth is that this new deal actually "sets the table" for a Greek debt default. When I was studying and working in the legal arena, I learned that sometimes you make an agreement so that you can get the other side to break it. That may sound very strange to the average person on the street, but this is how the game is played at the highest levels. It is all about strategy. And in this case, the new debt deal imposes such strict conditions on Greece that it is almost inevitable that Greece will fail to meet some of them. When Greece does fail, Germany and the other northern European nations may try to claim that they "did everything that they could" but that Greece just did not "live up to its obligations". So does this mean that we will definitely see a chaotic Greek debt default? No. What this does mean is that the chess pieces are being moved into position for one.
Damian Reece on Eurozone bailout:
this is no permanent rescue for Greece The Telegraph's Head of Business Damian Reece warns that the new Greek rescue package once again only stands to temporarily shore up the country's economy.
The €130 billion deal agreed by Eurozone finance ministers is no more than a "short-term debt refinancing deal", Mr Reece said as he warned that the bail-out would do little to mitigate the financial crisis gripping Greece.
"Very little, if any, of the €130 billion will go to a stimulus programme to help the Greek economy grow," Mr Reece said.
"All that has happened is that Greece, basically, has been kept afloat until March 20 when it has got to repay €14.5bn.
"After that I'm afraid it's still anyone's guess."
Euro-Area Central Banks Said to Swap Greek Portfolio Bonds
By Jeff Black - Bloomberg.com
Euro-area central banks will swap the Greek bonds in their investment portfolios for similar securities to avoid enforced losses during a debt restructuring, a euro-area official said.
The swap will happen today and is identical to one the European Central Bank carried out last week with the Greek bonds acquired in its asset-purchase program, the official said. The new Greek bonds will be immune to collective action clauses, or CACs, ensuring central banks don’t incur any losses when a private-sector debt write-down takes place, the official said on condition of anonymity. A spokesman for the Frankfurt-based ECB declined to comment.
Is Germany Secretly Maneuvering
To Kick Greece Out Of The Euro?
By Michael Snyder - EndOfTheAmericanDream.com
What in the world is going on in Europe? Each day things just seem to get stranger and stranger. We are being told that a "deal" for a second Greek bailout has been reached and that Greece will not default in March. But behind the scenes it seems clear that many politicians in Germany (and in the other northern European countries as well) would like to kick Greece out of the euro. So what exactly is happening here? Well, it is complicated. The United States, along with other members of the international community, put a tremendous amount of pressure on Germany to bail out Greece one more time. Germany does not want to look like the bad guy, so they are going along with this bailout but they are also imposing conditions on Greece this time that will be almost impossible to meet. And when Greece fails to meet its "obligations", that will give the northern Europeans the excuse that they need to kick Greece out of the euro. At this point, many politicians in northern Europe are convinced that Greece is a "lost cause" and that it is not fair to ask northern European nations to pay the price for the financial mistakes of Greece. Greece is basically completely and totally bankrupt, and the nations of northern Europe don't want to have a "financial dependent" on their books forever. They are looking for a "way out", and this new agreement lays the foundation for that.
When Doom Is the Best Choice:
How Greece's Bailout Is Like the Afghan War European leaders will spend $172 billion to delay Greece's collapse, but it's hard to get excited when "success" looks like failure, a feeling that may be familiar to American war planners.
By Heather Horn - TheAtlantic.com
At long last European leaders have agreed to a second bailout for Greece. Don't expect any celebrations, though. The $172 billion agreement, reached in the early hours of Tuesday morning, will reduce Greek debt to around 120.5 percent of the country's GDP by 2020. The modesty of that target -- which might still prove unreachable -- should tell you a lot about how this deal has progressed. In the negotiations, Greece's massive structural problems have become even more obvious, and the enduring message from the process is that (a) this bailout is unlikely to be enough to save Greece and (b) now not just the policymakers, but the people they serve, know it's probably doomed.
Geeks for Greeks! Geeks still have the upper hand, regardless of what the globalists think or do :-) Anonymous Hacks Greek Ministry Website, Demands IMF Withdrawal, Threatens It Will Wipe Away All Citizen Debts
Submitted by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
If there is one war that Greece could not afford to join, that is with the global computer hacking collective known as Anonymous. Yet as of minutes ago, that is precisely what happened, after Anonymous, as part of what it now calls Operation Greece, took down the Greek Ministry of Justice (http://www.ministryofjustice.gr). While the pretext for the hacking appears to have been an arrest of the wrong people, is seems to have angered Anonymous to the point where they have left an extended message of demands on the Greek website, warning that unless the IMF withdraws from the country and the government resigns, all debts of Greek citizens will be wiped clean.
Dow Jones hits 13,000 but falls back a bit at close
By Joel Stonington - LATimes.com
The Dow Jones industrial average crested 13,000 points for the first time since before the financial crisis, but failed to reach the milestone at Tuesday's close.
The blue chip index's latest surge has been driven by a stream of evidence signaling that the U.S. economy is on the mend. The Dow has risen 20% since Oct. 3.
The Dow first closed above 13,000 in 2007, and reached a peak of 14,164.53 in October of that year. The market was then roiled by the collapse of Lehman Brothers as the financial crisis punished global stock markets.
"The fact that we're hitting 13,000 means that the old high of Dow 14,200 is within reach," said Tom Lee, chief U.S. equity strategist at J.P. Morgan. "I think more people are going to be talking about the fact that this is a significant bull market."
Wealthy Enriched by Double-Dipping U.S. Plan
By Elliot Blair Smith, Danielle Ivory
and Gopal Ratnam - Bloomberg.com
In April 2003, Piyush Agrawal deleted his son’s name as president of APS Technologies Inc. He replaced it with his own on a hand-written filing with the Florida Department of State.
That made the 66-year-old retired educator the sole officer and director of the firm and separated its management from a medical supply company run by Agrawal’s two sons. Three months later, he followed his sons into a U.S. program that steers government business to the "socially and economically disadvantaged." It was the Agrawal family’s second time obtaining federal assistance under a benefit thatprescribes that immediate family members should participate only once.
The Price Of Gas Is Outrageous –
And It Is Going To Go Even Higher
By Michael Snyder - TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com
Does it cost you hundreds of dollars just to get to work each month? If it does, you are certainly not alone. There are millions of other Americans in the exact same boat. In recent years, the price of gas in the United States has gotten so outrageous that it has played a major factor in where millions of American families have decided to live and in what kind of vehicles they have decided to purchase. Many Americans that have very long commutes to work end up spending thousands of dollars on gas a year. So when the price of gas starts going up to record levels, people like that really start to feel it. But the price of gas doesn't just affect those that drive a lot. The truth is that the price of gas impacts each and every one of us. Almost everything that we buy has to be transported, and when the price of gasoline goes up the cost of shipping goods also rises. The U.S. economy has been structured around cheap oil. It was assumed that we would always be able to transport massive quantities of goods over vast distances very inexpensively. Once that paradigm totally breaks down, we are going to be in a huge amount of trouble. For the moment, the big concern is the stress that higher gas prices are going to put on the budgets of ordinary American families. Unfortunately, almost everyone agrees that in the short-term the price of gas is going to go even higher.
Surging gas prices threaten to derail economic recovery The average cost for regular gasoline in California has climbed past $4 a gallon, with prospects for even higher prices ahead. The recent dramatic increases nationally and statewide could hurt consumers and, in turn, the broader economy.
By Don Lee and Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles— Just as the recovery is finally looking real, surging fuel prices are once again looming as a major threat to the financial health of U.S. consumers and the broader economy.
The price surge has been particularly steep in California, in part because of maintenance at some refineries that make the state's cleaner-burning gasoline. Statewide, average pump prices for regular gasoline crossed the $4 mark over the weekend and reached an average of $4.031 a gallon Monday, up 5% in just the last week and nearly 9% higher than a month ago.
Why Renters Rule U.S. Housing Market (Part 1)
By A. Gary Shilling
The collapse in housing and the 33 percent plunge in house prices since 2006 are favoring renting over homeownership. This trend will dominate the housing market for the next four or five years, and put additional pressure on a weak economy.
Policy makers in Washington continue to have a soft spot for homeownership. Many recent government actions can be viewed as attempts to keep people in their homes, even owners who clearly can’t afford them. In addition to specific plans such as the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, and the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, the Obama administration is trying to revive the moribund housing sector by encouraging mortgage lenders and servicers to refinance loans at lower rates.
Picture of the Housing Bubble Collapse
JESSE'S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN
As the banking regulator and monetary authority, the Fed was particularly culpable and responsible for the housing asset bubble, the collapse of which is shown in the last chart.
Their 'job' is to take away the punch bowl when the party starts getting out of hand. Instead, first Greenspan and then Bernanke fed and at times even promoted through the stifling of dissent the malinvestment and large scale banking fraud that almost brought the global economy to the brink, and the coming derivatives crisis which almost certainly will if something radical is not done about it.
Regulator outlines new plan for Fannie, Freddie
(Reuters) - The regulator of housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Tuesday outlined a new strategic plan for the two government-controlled firms, stepping into a void left by congressional inaction.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency said the main goal would be to steer the mortgage finance market in a direction that leaves it dominated by the private sector instead of the government.
U.S. unveils new strategic plan
for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac The Federal Housing Finance Agency recommends gradually shrinking the seized housing-finance giants and creating a new market for mortgage-backed securities.
By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Washington— The regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac wants to shrink the seized housing-finance giants gradually and create a new market for mortgage-backed securities to help the private sector.
The recommendations came in a new strategic plan for Fannie and Freddie submitted to lawmakers Tuesday by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which has overseen the companies since they were put into government conservatorship in 2008 to avoid their failure.
Grubb & Ellis files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
and agrees to sale Grubb & Ellis will sell its assets to BGC Partners, the parent of a rival real estate brokerage, as part of a prepackaged bankruptcy.
By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
Venerable commercial real estate brokerage Grubb & Ellis Co. will sell its assets to the parent company of rival Newmark Knight Frank as part of a prepackaged bankruptcy, the firms said Tuesday.
BGC Partners Inc., a New York financial services firm that acquired Newmark Knight Frank in October, agreed to buy essentially all the assets of Grubb & Ellis for an undisclosed price.
Grubb & Ellis will conduct its asset sale under Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and has commenced Chapter 11 proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
below pre-recession peak in most areas
By Marc Lifsher - LATimes.com
U.S. construction employment is stuck at well below pre-recession levels in all but eight of 337 metropolitan areas, according to the Association of General Contractors of America.
The Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area in Arizona had the steepest decline, losing 93,600 jobs, a 53% drop since December 2006, the Arlington, Va., trade group reported today.
The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area showed the second worst performance, shedding 73,700 jobs, a 57% plunge since December 2005.
Missouri 4.0 Quake Felt in 13 States
(NewsCore) - A magnitude 4.0 earthquake struck early Tuesday in the southeast corner Missouri, waking up residents in as many as 12 other surrounding states.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake hit at 3:58am local time (4:58am ET). Its epicenter was located a shallow 3.1 miles (5km) underground, about 150 miles (240km) south of St. Louis, near the New Madrid fault line.
Hundreds reported feeling the quake in Missouri, according to the USGS, with the most significant shaking occurring in Sikeston, a small city about nine miles away from the epicenter.
The Dark Side of 'Smart' Meters
In this invitational presentation to the San Francisco Tesla Society consulting engineer Rob States explains how PG&E's so-called 'smart' meters work and why they endanger health and privacy. He asks the obvious question, "Why would you trust the company that brought you Prop. 16?"
'We can't wait':
Utah lawmakers ratchet up fight for federal lands
BY ROBERT GEHRKE - The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah lawmakers proposed aggressive steps Tuesday to wrest away control of millions of acres of federal lands, a move that would likely draw a protracted court battle, but supporters believe could bring billions of dollars to the state.
"It’s been 116 years that we’ve waited. We can’t wait any longer," said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan. "Our children can’t wait any longer."
If successful, the measures would also explicitly give the state the authority to permit oil and gas exploration, grazing, mining, logging or vehicle travel across Utah’s national parks and monuments.
The Real Defense Budget
By Steve Clemons - TheAtlantic.com
While everyone knows that the defense budget is large -- even in the numbers that the public sees as the formally admitted figures by the Department of Defense -- the truth is that when one scratches beneath the bureaucratic veneer, national security spending is much larger, nearly double the amount US citizens are told.
A Republican, numbers-compulsive defense wonk at the Center for Defense Information, Winslow Wheeler, has published a great summary of what America's defense budget 'really' is.
Pat Buchanan: 300 nukes in Israel yet Iran a threat?
Islamic wars have brought questionable benefit to the US over the last 20 years, former US presidential advisor Pat Buchanan, author of Suicide of a Superpower, shared with RT. A new war in the Middle East will be a disaster for the US and for the world economy, he says. "I opposed the Desert Storm operation in 1991 cleaning Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait because, I said, 'This would only be the first Arab-American war.'" Looking at the number of conflicts in the Islam world that America is taking part in now, one cannot but admit that Buchanan was right 20 years ago. "You cannot replicate the Middle West in the Middle East," Pat Buchanan concluded. From the time of the Cold War the US has military bases all over the world. Today, running a budget deficit of 10 per cent of its GDP, America simply cannot afford to continue "to carry this enormous burden, defending 40 or 50 countries around the world," Buchanan says, "We have to bring troops home." Getting rid of these bases essentially means dismantling the American Empire to help the US survive beyond 2025. America's crusade under the banner of ending tyranny in the world is "utterly utopian".
Russia, China and Iran back Assad
Reuters - FT.com
Russia, China and Iran showed support for Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, on Monday, just days before an international meeting which is likely to put more pressure on him to step down amid an increasingly bloody uprising.
Mr Assad met a senior Russian politician in Damascus, who reiterated Moscow’s support for his reform programme and spoke out against any foreign intervention in the conflict, Russian and Syrian news agencies reported.
An attack on Iran would be an act of criminal stupidity US and Israeli leaders are talking themselves into a disastrous conflict that will make Iranian nuclear weapons a certainty
By Seumas Milne - Guardian.co.uk
After a decade of calamitous western wars in the wider Middle East, the signs are becoming ever more ominous that we're heading for another. And, hard as it is to credit, the same discredited arguments used to justify the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan – from weapons of mass destruction to sponsorship of terrorism and fundamentalist fanatics – are now being used to make the case for an attack on Iran.
War talk about Iran and its nuclear programme has been going on for so long it might be tempting to dismiss it as bluster. The mixed messages about Iran coming from the US and Israeli governments in recent weeks have become increasingly contradictory and bewildering. Maybe it's all a game of bluff and psychological warfare. Perhaps Iran's offer of new talks or this week's atomic energy inspectors' visit might lead to a breakthrough.
Standing on The Edge of The Abyss
with Green Builder Matthew Stein 1/5
Alex Broadcasts from the road on this Tuesday, February 21 edition of the Alex Jones Show. Today's guest is best selling author, engineer, designer, and green builder Matthew Stein. Mr. Stein is the author of When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, When Disaster Strikes