Weekday NEWS to Comfort the Disturbed and Disturb the Comfortable.
A Visual History Of Gold
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
With Gold inching back up towards the $1700 mark once again following yet another central bank's promise to flush the world with fiat currency, we thought some reflection on the history of Gold was useful. From its rareness and malleability to its multi-millenial nature as a store of wealth, Visual Capitalist's infographic takes us from the Egyptians to the Chinese and on through the US Gold Rush to the current 'vaults' of gold being questioned currently.
The Coming Debt Limit Drama: Government Wins, We Lose
BY RON PAUL - FinancialSense.com
Last week President Obama bluntly warned Congress that he will not negotiate when it comes to raising the statutory debt limit. If Republicans attempt to use a debt ceiling vote to win concessions on spending from the White House, Mr. Obama threatens simply to raise the limit by executive order or other unilateral action.
This is business as usual in Washington. Democrats literally do not believe we have a deficit and debt problem, and reliably propose greater borrowing and spending. Republicans talk a good game when it comes to government debt, but have no credibility to argue against deficits or abuses of executive power. Brinksmanship ensues, and ugly compromises are reached at the 11th hour. We all lose as the endless borrowing and money printing further erode our dollar and our economy.
GOP Moves to Suspend Debt Ceiling Until May
By: Eamon Javers - CNBC.com
House Speaker John Boehner indicated Tuesday that Republicans will vote on an extension of the federal debt ceiling to allow Treasury to borrow money until mid-May. The move would reverse the order of a series of expected debt and spending fights in Washington, an effort designed to put the GOP on more sound political footing.
The Speaker said the measure would be tied to a provision that would suspend the pay of lawmakers if they do not agree to a budget by April 15th. A vote is expected Wednesday.
"I think the American people understand that you can't continue to spend money that you don't have," Boehner said.
U.S. debt limit vote set for Wednesday; Obama likely to sign
By Mark Felsenthal and David Lawder
WASHINGTON | Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:04pm EST
(Reuters) - A measure to extend the U.S. debt limit for nearly four months moved closer on Tuesday to a vote and the White House said the president would sign the bill if it cleared Congress, easing uncertainty that could have threatened the U.S. economy.
The debt limit "suspension," which would allow the government to borrowmoney until May 19, is due to come to a vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday without amendments.
White House Says House Debt Plan De-Escalates Debate
By Lisa Lerer & Kathleen Hunter - Bloomberg.com
The Obama administration said it welcomes a move by House Republicans to vote tomorrow on lifting the nation's debt ceiling through mid-May as a de-escalation of the fiscal debate.
The measure "lifts the immediate threat of default and indicates that congressional Republicans have backed off an insistence on holding the nation's economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education and other programs," President Barack Obama's budget office said in a statement.
Obama's Declaration of Political War
In his second inaugural address,
Obama makes clear that it's fight night in America.
By JOHN R. GUARDIANO - Spectator.org
Most great and memorable inaugural addresses are imbued with a spirit of charity and magnanimity. There is a clear sense that the president is speaking not for one political party or faction, but rather for the nation as a whole.
Thus in his first inaugural address, Jefferson declared, "We are all Republicans; we are all Federalists." In his second inaugural address, Lincoln, likewise, spoke of "bind[ing] up the nation's wounds" And Reagan urged us to "work and act together, not as members of political parties, but as Americans."
Fed's Balance Sheet Grows Above $3 Trillion
BY SOBER LOOK - FinancialSense.com
Total assets of Fed's balance sheet broke through $3 trillion last week, hitting a new high, as securities purchases are stepped up (including treasuries).
And for the first time since this program was launched it is starting to have a material impact on bank reserves (the dynamic component of the monetary base), which spiked last week.
Why Stimulus Has Failed
By Raghuram Rajan - Project-Syndicate.org
NEW DELHI – Two fundamental beliefs have driven economic policy around the world in recent years. The first is that the world suffers from a shortage of aggregate demand relative to supply; the second is that monetary and fiscal stimulus will close the gap.
Is it possible that the diagnosis is right, but that the remedy is wrong? That would explain why we have made little headway so far in restoring growth to pre-crisis levels. And it would also indicate that we must rethink our remedies.
BEFORE THE FALL: DISASTER MYOPIA AT THE FED
Posted by John Cassidy - NewYorker.com
Like many other journalists who write about the Federal Reserve, I spent Friday morning reading the policy discussions that took place inside the central bank in 2007, as the global financial system teetered on the brink of collapse. Under a commendable policy of glasnost, introduced by Alan Greenspan and extended by Ben Bernanke, the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed's policy-making arm, now releases full transcripts of its deliberations after a delay of five years.
Covering eight meetings (four of which lasted two days each) and three emergency conference calls, the newly released transcripts run thousands of pages—a boon for future historians, as well as for reporters looking for nuggets to enliven their Twitter feeds. For anybody interested in what turned out to be the biggest financial crisis since the nineteen-thirties, it is fascinating to relive the Fed's internal debates, as it grappled with the collapse of the market for subprime mortgage bonds and its ramifications for Wall Street and the broader economy.
Jens Weidmann: "Monetary policy can only buy more time"
by Richard Field - TYIllc.blogspot.com
From a Telegraph article, Jens Weidmann, president of Deutsche Bundesbank, observed that it was "wrong and dangerous" to rely on the central banks because "monetary policy can only buy more time".
Please re-read the highlight text as Mr. Weidmann makes the very important point that monetary policy is not the right tool for fixing the problems that led to the financial crisis.
Japan has shown this to be true for the last 2+ decades. The EU, UK and US have shown this to be true since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2007.
The question is 'using the time that the central banks buy at great expense, what needs to be done to resolve the financial crisis?'
The Economic Fundamentals of 2013
By Nouriel Roubini - Project-Syndicate.org
NEW YORK – The global economy this year will exhibit some similarities with the conditions that prevailed in 2012. No surprise there: we face another year in which global growth will average about 3%, but with a multi-speed recovery – a sub-par, below-trend annual rate of 1% in the advanced economies, and close-to-trend rates of 5% in emerging markets. But there will be some important differences as well.
Painful deleveraging – less spending and more saving to reduce debt and leverage – remains ongoing in most advanced economies, which implies slow economic growth. But fiscal austerity will envelop most advanced economies this year, rather than just the eurozone periphery and the United Kingdom. Indeed, austerity is spreading to the core of the eurozone, the United States, and other advanced economies (with the exception of Japan). Given synchronized fiscal retrenchment in most advanced economies, another year of mediocre growth could give way to outright contraction in some countries.
Pimco's Bill Gross warns QE will make discount bonds 'road kill'
Pimco co-founder Bill Gross is ringing a new alarm about the perils of the Federal Reserve's monetary exuberance.
By Laura Mandaro - MarketWatch.com
Bonds generally are issued at par, or face value. But there's a popular category of discount bonds called zero-coupon bonds, which are issued below face value and don't make regular interest payments. They've had a turbulent 12 months as the Fed extended its quantitative easing program but gave a more precise sense of when it could end. Pimco's own exchange-traded fund, the Pimco 25+ Year Zero Coupon U.S. Treasury Index ETF, returned 60% in 2011 but ended 2012 with a 1% return. Zero coupon bonds are more sensitive to interest rate changes than other bonds.
Beggar Thy Currency Or Thy Self?
By Mohamed A. El-Erian - Project-Syndicate.org
NEWPORT BEACH – Not many countries nowadays seek a strong exchange rate; a few, including systemically important ones, are already actively weakening their currencies. Yet, because an exchange rate is a relative price, all currencies cannot weaken simultaneously. How the world resolves this basic inconsistency over the next few years will have a major impact on prospects for growth, employment, income distribution, and the functioning of the global economy.
Japan is the latest country to say enough is enough. Having seen its currency appreciate dramatically in recent years, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's new government is taking steps to alter the country's exchange-rate dynamic – and is succeeding. In just over two months, the yen has weakened by more than 10% against the dollar and close to 20% against the euro.
BoE's Mervyn King: banks not healthy until
private investors willing to fund without central bank support
by Richard Field - TYIllc.blogspot.com
In his speech at the CBI Northern Ireland mid-winter dinner, Bank of England governor Mervyn King laid out the number one policy to pursue that would complement monetary stimulus was restoring confidence in the banks.
He then described a test for when this confidence had been restored. Confidence had been restored when private investors were willing to "provide them with funds at reasonable spreads over Bank Rate without central bank support".
Medicare Cuts for Readmissions to Target Large Hospitals
By Stephanie Armour - Bloomberg.com
Large U.S. teaching hospitals such as those affiliated with major universities are more likely to be penalized under a U.S. program linking Medicare pay cuts to higher rates of patient readmission, research suggests.
About 67 percent of 3,282 hospitals studied will receive lower payments for providing care to patients in Medicare, the U.S. government's health program for the elderly and disabled, as a result of the policy that took effect on Oct. 1, according to a research letter published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Major teaching hospitals are more likely to be highly penalized, which the authors define as being in the top half of penalized hospitals.
Another Walker Vindication
Government unions lose in court again.
The last few years haven't been great for limited government, though Wisconsin is an exception. After the made-for-MSNBC protests, a failed bid to turn over the state Supreme Court and a failed recall election, Governor Scott Walker's public union reforms still stand. And now the spurious constitutional challenges have guttered out in federal appeals court.
On Friday a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court upheld the law in its entirety. Two judges rejected the claims of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and six other government unions that Mr. Walker violated the Equal Protection clause and the First Amendment, while a third judge—David Hamilton, nominated by President Obama—concurred in part and dissented in part.
SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW THE SECOND AMENDMENT?
Posted by Jeffrey Toobin - NewYorker.com
Does the Second Amendment prevent Congress from passing gun-control laws? The question, which is suddenly pressing, in light of the reaction to the school massacre in Newtown, is rooted in politics as much as law.
For more than a hundred years, the answer was clear, even if the words of the amendment itself were not. The text of the amendment is divided into two clauses and is, as a whole, ungrammatical: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The courts had found that the first part, the "militia clause," trumped the second part, the "bear arms" clause. In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon.
Do Gun Control Laws Control Guns?
Or are they the real killer?
By THOMAS SOWELL - Spectator.org
The gun control controversy is only the latest of many issues to be debated almost solely in terms of fixed preconceptions, with little or no examination of hard facts.
Media discussions of gun control are dominated by two factors: the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment. But the over-riding factual question is whether gun control laws actually reduce gun crimes in general or murder rates in particular.
Inauguration 2013: Inaugural prayer drops 'under God'
By KEVIN ROBILLARD | Politico.com
Civil rights legend Myrlie Evers-Williams on Monday quoted the Pledge of Allegiance during her invocation at President Barack Obama's second Inauguration without saying "under God" but mentioned God and Jesus throughout the prayer.
"We now stand beneath the shadow of the nation's capital, whose golden dome reflects the unity and democracy of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," Evers-Williams said.
Fred Barnes: Obama's Inaugural Intentions
The president reached out to Democratic interest groups. Republicans? Not so much.
By FRED BARNES - WSJ.com
President Obama wants more government. In his second inaugural address, he masked the message with phrases like "collective action" and doing "things together." But these were stand-ins—euphemisms, really—for a bigger and more ambitious federal government. That's the unmistakable goal of his second term, and his inaugural address was devoted to his determination to achieve it.
Mr. Obama paid lip service to reducing "the size of our deficit." This was followed by a crucial "but" as he went on to defend a series of programs he is unwilling to cut, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. "These things do not sap our initiative," he declared. "They strengthen us."
Obama backs Republicans into a corner
By JOE SCARBOROUGH | Politico.com
Barack Obama's second inaugural address was a declaration to Washington and the world that Age of Reagan is over. No hand was extended to a battered Republican Party by Mr. Obama. Instead, the liberal president pushed his left-leaning agenda to a divided America.
As disappointing as his speech was to me, it made perfect political sense that the president would look at the political roadmap in front of him and step on the gas. Polling shows that more than 70 percent of Americans like Obama, 52 percent approve of his performance as president, only 26 percent support the GOP's performance, only 18 percent approve of how Republican Speaker John Boehner does his job, and only 9 percent still have nice things to say about the tea party.
United States of Crisis Seen Costing Jobs, Wasting Money
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis - Bloomberg.com
With the stroke of his pen the day after New Year's, President Barack Obama extended a $5 billion farm subsidy program that he opposes and many farmers say they no longer need.
The day before, the U.S. Senate and House -- where there is broad agreement that the direct farm payments program should be scrapped -- both voted to keep the money flowing as part of a last-minute agreement to avert most of more than $600 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts slated to take effect this month.
New Housing Fears: Home Prices Are Rising Too Fast
By: Diana Olick - CNBC.com
"For Sale" signs may seem like an eyesore to neighbors on any given local street, but the lack of them is a much bigger problem.
Just 1.82 million homes were listed for sale in December, according to the National Association of Realtors. That is a 22 percent drop from a year ago and the lowest supply since May of 2005, when words like "boom" and "bubble" followed the word "housing." At the current sales pace it would take just 4.4 months to sell those homes.
Home prices up 'unsustainable' 5.9% in 2012
Real-estate data provider
projects home values to rise 3.3% this year
By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch.com
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The value of American homes climbed 5.9% in 2012, the largest annual gain since the summer of 2006, or near the peak of the housing bubble, according to data released Tuesday by real-estate information provider Zillow Inc.
The final three months of 2012 marked five consecutive quarters of U.S. home value appreciation, and the near 6% annual jump is roughly double the historical average that has home values climbing about 3% a year, Zillow said.
Existing Home Sales Unexpectedly Fall 1 Percent
Reuters - CNBC.com
U.S. home resales unexpectedly fell in December as fewer people put their properties on the market, although not by enough to derail the boost housing will likely provide to the economy this year.
The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday that existing home sales dropped 1.0 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million units.
That was still the second highest rate of sales since November 2009, when a federal tax credit for home buyers was due to expire.
Chinese Politicians Are Buying Billions In U.S. Real Estate
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
Back in September, we explained that when it comes to "boom" in US real estate, there are three key driving forces: i) the Fed's monetization of mortgage backed securities whose impact however is at best to stabilize the demand floor (and judging by the recent collapse in refi activity even that is questionable), ii) an implicit subsidy as banks keep millions of units on their books (to get a sense of how much check out at the chart in "Six Month + Delinquent Mortgages Amount To More Than Half Of Bank of America's Market Cap") in some phase of the foreclosure process, and away from clearing in the market, and perhaps most importantly, iii) the fact that the NAR can legally launder offshore money courtesy of being exempt from anti-money laundering provisions. This allows billions in ill-gotten offshore cash, sourced primarily from Russia and China, to be "invested" in US real-estate, with no cost or pricing discrimation and without any questions asked from any authorities. Because, sure enough, the final result can be spun as a "boom" in real estate by the administration and the banks so very invested in reflating the housing bubble.
Americans want Made in USA label
Made in USA makes comeback as a marketing tool
Oliver St. John, USA TODAY
It's becoming downright American to make stuff in America.
Small manufacturers, craftsmen and retailers are marketing the Made-in-USA tag to score do-gooder points with consumers for employing stateside, says Margarita Mendoza, founder of the Made in America Movement, a lobbying organization for small manufacturers.
It's working: Over 80% of Americans are willing to pay more for Made-in-USA products, 93% of whom say it's because they want to keep jobs in the USA, according to a survey released in November by Boston Consulting Group. In ultra-partisan times, it's one of the few issues both Democrats and Republicans agree on.
Facebook may be making you hate life, study says
By Deborah Netburn - LATimes.com
Are you jealous of everyone you know? If so, it might be time to take a break from Facebook.
Scrolling through photos of other people's vacations, joyful family moments and awesome nights out may be a threat to your sense of personal happiness, say a team of German researchers in a new studytitled "Envy on Facebook: A hidden threat to users' life satisfaction?"
And if you are the type of person who lurks on Facebook without contributing much yourself, chances are your sense of life satisfaction is even lower, the researchers found.
New Service Allows People to Text Strangers
Using License Plate Number
By Elizabeth Harrington - CNSNews.com
(CNSNews.com) – Don't like the way that car is parked? A new service allows individuals in San Francisco to anonymously send text messages to strangers through their license tag numbers.
"Helping neighbors avoid the pitfalls of parking in San Francisco," says CurbTXT, which allows people who sign up for the service to avoid receiving nasty notes on their vehicles.
Nebraska governor approves Keystone pipeline
By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman notified President Obama on Tuesday that he has approved the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline to traverse his state, a crucial step toward reviving the project one year after it was delayed by the Obama administration.
The Republican governor wrote in a letter to Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that he has approved a revised route for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, which his office said would avoid the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region, but will cut through the High Plains Aquifer.
Nebraska Governor Appoves Alternative Route Of Keystone XL Pipeline: Will Buffett/Obama Give The Green Light?
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
One of the more contentious issues in the past year for America's environmentalists was the (successful) blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline over fears that it would contaminate the Ohallala aquifier in the Sandhill region of Nebraska, a major source of groundwater, and an issue over which none other than the president was quite vocal just about a year ago when he killed the idea. At least that was the pre-spun, socially accepted reason (for the real one read below). It is now time to revisit the fate of this critical pipeline following today's news that the Nebraska governor has approved a new route for the pipeline, one which avoids the most sensitive area in the Sandhills. The response from the opponents has not been late in coming: "Governor Heineman just performed one of the biggest flip-flops that we've in Nebraska political history," said Jane Kleeb, executive director of the group Bold Nebraska. And now it will be up to Obama, whose second inauguration speech had a dedicated segment to clean energy, to kill or let it go through. Since the decision will once again be about politics, the outcome is all but certain, but at least it will provide yet another theatrical sideshow to add to all the others emanating from DC these days. After all it is all about distraction.
Why Shale Oil is not the Game Changer
we Have Been Led to Believe - Part 2
Where We Are, in Three Simple Charts
By Chris Martenson - OilPrice.com
One narrative that is being heavily marketed right now is that the shale plays are true game-changers and there's really nothing to worry about for the foreseeable future. Heck, the story says that the U.S. will soon exceed Saudi Arabia in oil production and become energy independent, that it has so much natural gas that it might as well build export terminals, and that there's 100 years of natural gas just waiting to be used.
Unfortunately, none of this is really true. Here's how I can make the case for that assertion using just three charts.
Clouds Over Obama's Second Term
By Patrick J. Buchanan - CNSNews.com
Rarely have second terms lived up to the hopes and expectations of presidents or their electorates.
FDR's began with an attempt to pack the Supreme Court by adding new justices and a second Depression of 1937. He was rescued only by the war in Europe in 1939 and the GOP's nomination of "the barefoot boy from Wall Street," Wendell Willkie.
What can be called Harry Truman's second term was a disaster.
From Kill Romney to Kill the Constitution
An Orwellian inaugural address
and a backwards march to another failed utopia.
By JEFFREY LORD - Spectator.org
Yesterday's declaration by President Obama, signaling with his inaugural address that he intends to turn America around and march it backwards to the glory days of failed leftism — making of America one gigantic society of beggars — raises the central and obvious point.
It's the damage, stupid.
So how much damage can the American left do over the next four years?
How much damage can the far-left-wing do with a re-elected Obama presidency?
President Obama dodges 'hard choices' on entitlements
By CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN | Politico.com
President Barack Obama insisted four years ago that the nation must make "hard decisions" to preserve entitlement programs.
But on Monday, the "hard choices" he spoke of on health care and the deficit came with a major caveat: He's not willing to give up much.
"The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us," Obama told the cheering crowd as he launched his second term. "They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."
Rep. Charlie Rangel on Guns:
'Some of the Southern Areas Have Cultures
that We Have to Overcome'
By Craig Millward - CNSNews.com
(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), speaking on "MSNBC Live" on Jan. 16 said that "some of the southern areas have cultures that we have to overcome" when it comes to gun control.
Rangel was asked by anchor Thomas Roberts whether new gun control measures passed in New York State should serve as models for other states:
"If you're proud of what New York has done, obviously there is not going to be any perfect policy or perfect law that everybody is going to agree on from both sides saying that this is key perfection but do you think that New York, and what has been done in this state, could be used as a role model for other states that would like to enact something of New York's model?"
Unbiased? 18 of 20 Top Newspapers
Push Gun Control in Editorials
Major papers demonize NRA, call for more gun bans.
By Liz Thatcher - MRC.org
• Neutral Journalism: Of top 20 circulating newspapers, 18 pushed gun control in editorials from Dec. 15, 2012 to Jan. 11, 2013.
• Pushing Gun Control: 97 percent of the gun editorials (89 out of 92) promoted gun control or attacked the NRA.
At one time, newspapers were America's source for news and current events. Today it's a completely different story. While President Obama has declared a push to ban or limit types of guns, the nation's major newspapers are nearly unanimous in their support of gun control. The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and other most-popular papers led the list.
Utah Sheriffs Warn Obama:
'No Federal Official Will Be Allowed'
To Take Our Constituents' Gun Rights
By Gregory Gwyn-Williams, Jr. - CNSNews.com
A group of Utah sheriffs sent a letter to President Barack Obama last week stating that they will not enforce any new gun laws they believe to be unconstitutional.
28 of the 29 sheriffs in Utah signed off on the letter with only the Salt Lake County Sheriff, Jim Winder, opting out.
Summit County Sheriff David Edmunds says, "We are prepared to trade our lives in defense of the constitution of the United States."
America's Unconfirmed Hostages
By Christopher R. Hill - Project-Syndicate.org
DENVER – The United States Constitution, which turned 225 years old last summer, is a remarkable document: the provisions of a text written in the eighteenth century continue to guide twenty-first-century governance. We will be reminded of the implications of that in the coming weeks, as President Barack Obama fills senior positions in his second-term administration. In many cases, the process will not be pretty.
Article II of the Constitution stipulates presidential powers that require the "advice and consent of the Senate," including the nomination of senior officials. Probably nobody, 225 years ago, had any idea that the number of officials deemed to require Senate confirmation would eventually exceed 1,400, or that Senate confirmation would involve a vetting process that often takes years to complete.
Davos: Too soon to celebrate
Why Davos matters
The euro survived. Washington is expected to muddle through its fiscal crises. China is heading for a soft landing, and markets and corporate earnings are recovering.
By Mark Thompson - CNN.com
Nearly five years after the banking meltdown, the world economy is back on track, right?
As policymakers and senior executives fly off for a week of brainstorming and partying in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, they may be tempted to pat themselves on the back.
Yet many are more pessimistic about the future than they were 12 months ago, according to a survey by the World Economic Forum, host of the annual Davos shindig from January 23 to 27. Clouds over Davos include anemic growth, rising social tensions and increased volatility in emerging markets.
Davos Shows Army Ready for Worst in War Game Operation
Davos is on a war footing.
By Leigh Baldwin & Zoe Schneeweiss - Bloomberg.com
As snipers fan out over the rooftops of the Alpine resort and the Swiss army rolls miles of barbed wire through the town, officers have more than the security of Mario Draghi and Lloyd Blankfein in mind. They are also preparing for a worst-case scenario: European chaos sparked by a collapse of the euro.
At their annual exercise in September, the Swiss army drilled for a conflict between two fictitious neighboring states in crisis. The challenge was figuring out how to turn Switzerland into a fortress that could keep out the flood of refugees a conflict would send its way.
A New Year of Global Conflict (from Davos)
By Javier Solana and Ian Bremmer - Project-Syndicate.org
DAVOS – In today's world, identifying and managing hotspots is not simply a matter of pulling out a map, spotting the wildfires, and empowering diplomats to douse the flames. To understand today's major conflicts and confrontations, we must recognize important ways in which global political conditions enable them.
Conflicts are much more likely to arise or persist when those with the means to prevent or end them cannot or will not do so. Unfortunately, this will be borne out in 2013.
After Davos: Global Calm, or Profound Change?
By: Steve Liesman - CNBC.com
World leaders begin their meetings at the World Economic Forum in Davos tomorrow under highly unusual circumstances: unlike the past six years, there does not appear to be an immediate financial crisis aflame.
The world looks, for the moment, to be in a state of precarious stability.
It is not as if the world lacks for brewing economic trouble or burning concerns about monetary and fiscal policy. And the key question for world leaders to answer here is whether this is a false calm or the beginning of a real change that is connected to current policy.
Philippines to Challenge China's Maritime Claims at UN Tribunal
By Daniel Ten Kate & Joel Guinto - Bloomberg.com
The Philippines plans to challenge China's maritime claims before a United Nations-endorsed tribunal, a move that may raise tensions as the two nations vie for oil, gas and fish resources in contested waters.
"The Philippines has exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of its maritime dispute with China," Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters in Manila yesterday. "To this day, a solution is elusive. We hope the arbitral proceedings shall bring this dispute to a durable solution."
The Coming Oil War in Iraq: Part II
By Daniel J. Graeber - OilPrice.com
The Turkish energy minister confirmed that oil was flowing again through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline from northern Iraq following an attack on the transit network. The separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party has claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the past, though Ankara was reluctant to point fingers for the latest incident. Though the southern Turkish provinces have experienced violence since the 1980s, the latest attack may be a sign of the growing frustration with the disputes pitting the central government in Iraq against the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.
"Oil flow is continuing without problems through the pipeline," said Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz in a statement Monday.
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