Currently viewing the tag: "Oil"

From: Jeff O’ Brien
Re: ‘its speculation not physical supply’

An acquainted pointed to
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/04/13/153206/koch-industries-price-gouging/
as proof high oil prices were due to market manipulation. I’m
wondering what you think about this? Here is what I wrote him:

“It’s such a complex issue because of the confluence of factors.
There’s definitely blatant cases of market manipulation. Matt Tabibi
wrote about this too with Goldman Sachs in 2010:
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405?page=5

Not real sure oil supplies are “adequate” though. This thinkprogress
article links to a Goldman Sachs report claiming so. There’s lots of
evidence indicating otherwise. For example, the IEA says demand is
very close to supply and supply peaked in 2009. Many seem to believe
in peak oil almost religiously. While this definitely sets off a red
flag for me, the evidence I’ve came across does seem very convincing.

Also many are pointing to the recently increased calls for additional
military intervention against Iran (besides the long-running covert
war) as a large factor in the recent price increases.”

 

From: Dek Tag
Re: ‘its speculation not physical supply’

For years Chris Martenson has repeatedly stressed his opinion that as a society -

“ We desperately need to start telling ourselves a new story, one that at least fits the known data”

Chris also recently wrote a marketing blog addressing the common pitfall your acquaintance has unwittingly stumbled into.
Is nothing more than a political advertisement against:
A. The evil Koch Family, owners (some would say rulers) of the second largest privately held company (some would say crime syndicate) of the American Empire.
B.The evil conservative majority and the Republican party et al.

It is a political advertisement for the good guys, the Democratic Party et al.

What I personally find fascinating is that readers do not find it the least bit peculiar that the commander-in-chief of the Empire’s armed forces (the single largest consumer of oil on the planet) is mentioned by name twice in a short little 650 word propaganda piece for the good guys and that his name appears an additional 4 times on the page in which the oil market content is displayed.  Is the content on this page really about oil with 32 mentions or is it a page about Obama with 6 mentions? Or is it simply about the continuation of 2 party system. Long live Caesar.
Rather than debate the various elements of truth found in all the best propaganda material I tend to rely on very simple analysis of long-running factual data samples, taken from the most basic and relevant sources, agreeable to most everyone, regardless of their particular party affiliation.
Financialization, a term that describes an economic system that attempts to reduce all value that is exchanged into a financial instrument is an ever greater determinant factor of our daily life. So yes, increasingly in the United States (and world) over the last 120 years financial speculators have determined “the market price” of all goods and services – including oil. The extent to which speculators (evil or otherwise) are able to influence “the market price” of anything is directly proportional to the amount of money made available to them to do so.

Personally I believe that the cumulative power of regulation and leverage and enforcement and legislation and bully-pulpit political influence are about as effective as rearranging the deck chairs of the Titanic as the monetary unit of account continues to explode. I also personally believe that attempts to maintain the status quo by all the world’s central banks by expanding the money supply to spark “economic growth” are doomed to fail in an era of declining “productive” (some would say destructive) energy flows.

The declining energy flows available to the United States is very well documented and substantiated because forgenerations all oil production has been counted at least twice; once at the well head and once again at the refinery.

U.S. Energy Information Administration updates weekly and provides as a free download of all the relevant data required for any interested person to confirm the “theory of peak oil” for themselves in their Complete History Microsoft Excel Data Series

 


The following graphics were created using EIA’s http://www.eia.gov/oog/info/twip/twipcrvwall.xls data.

From Sheet Data4 “Crude Production” details the factual specifics of that “record high domestic production”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it’s true the US is now producing as much oil as it did 10 years ago when the price for oil was order of magnitudes lower. It is also producing orders of magnitudes less oil than it produced back in the early 70′s when prices were even lower still.

From Sheets Data4 & Data5 combined Crude Oil Production + Crude Oil Imported

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incidentally, what you are looking at along the vertical Y axis there are not dollars or adjusted dollars or a result havinganything to do with the aforementioned financialization. Those numbers on the Y axis are an actual physical count of the tangible volume of crude oil in the thousands of barrels daily. This powerful tangible stuff that was formed by a slow geological process is discovered, dug, pumped out of the ground and refined at great effort by actual rational humans, let’s call them Saudi Arabians, or Canadians, Mexicans or Texans- to then be handed over in voluntary exchange for a few bytes on a central bank’s computer systemPersonally, I wonder how much longer rational actors will continue to trade this nonrenewable resource for the equivalent of a few keystrokes by a privileged class. But that is just my own crazed speculation.

The objective facts remain.
Total U.S. Daily Production plus imports measured in physical barrels of oil and averaged over the previous quarter (13 weeks) PEAKED on August 5th 2005 at 15930.0769 thousand barrels per day. Inputs by the same measure into the nation’s refineries peaked the very next week on August 12, 2005 at 16006.2307 thousand barrels per day (Sheet Data6). Twelve days later “Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas on August 23, 2005 and crossed southern Florida as a moderate Category 1 hurricane”. What followed is well remembered and documented.

“Let me be clear: This is a temporary problem due to Katrina and will be resolved soon — not a cause for alarm or panic,” Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said. “It is not a long-term situation.”

But here we are, nearly 7 years down the road, producing more oil domestically than we have in nearly a decade but still, we are unable to capture the same energy flows as we did prior to peak oil. Not unlike the natural forces of plague being one of the final straws that sent the Roman Empire into collapse. I believe future historians will point to the destruction of Hurricane Katrina as the inflection point to which the Empire’s energy flows were never able to recover from.
In short, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was simply wrong. This is indeed very long-term situation and NOT “atemporary problem due to Katrina.” The physical data of the last 338 weeks proves the fact that the United States today, STILL has access to less crude oil than it did before the hurricane. Iraq production has “returned”, domestic production has “ramped”, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has been tappedrefilled and tapped again but the facts remain.
13 week average of U.S. Production + Imports Aug 5th 2005  = 15930 thousand barrels per day
13 week average of U.S. Production + Imports Feb 17th 2012  = 14626 thousand barrels per day
Nearly 7 years after peak oil (Aug. 5th 2005)  and the United States has access to 8.1% less oil today than it had access to at peak. After all these years the United States has never achieved a higher rate than 15,930 thousand barrels per day. This is despite the 13 week average crude oil price rising from $58.30 at peak on Aug 5th 2005 to $ 108.51 by October 2011. (When EIA conveniently quit publishing the “Weekly United States Spot Price FOB Weighted by Estimated Import Volume Dollars per Barrel” data series).
A 8% drop in supply over the last 6 years has created a 86% increase in price.

 

This trend has formed as population has continued to rise and physical number of productive wells have risen.

US production + import rates collapsed after Hurricane Katrina and managed to make it back to within 98% of peak a year later in October 2006 before failing and rallying again this time to only 97.5% of peak in August 2007. The global recession followed where the latest attempt to breach peak failed after only achieving a miserable 95.2% of peak in August 2010

 

I would expect a continuing series of lower high’s and lower lows in US Production + Imports of crude oil as measured in Sheets4 & 5 of  the EIA’s Complete History XLS.  Total US Production + Imports will collapse again below the 13,853 low perhaps as soon as this year. Regardless of the excuses given by the status quo; whether that be the fault of the evil Republicans or evil Democrats, “unrest” in the middle east or an earthquake in the Nazca Ridge, what is becoming increasingly obvious to an increasing number of rational observers everywhere is that a return to economic growth is not going to occur in any of our lifetimes. The  full implications of Peak Oil are still only just slowly dawning on an otherwise distracted populace.

Those damn evil speculators.
The hoarders.
The Jews.
The status quo asks that you please continue to help us implicate additional scapegoats until we must come for you.
Tagged with:
 

Fri Dec 30, 2011 Reuters

NEUCHATEL, Switzerland- Petroplus (Insert: the largest independent refiner and wholesaler of petroleum products in Europe ~Dek) is to close three of its five oil refineries over the coming weeks because it has run out of money for crude supplies since bankers froze its credit lines abruptly this week.

“The company will start temporary economic shutdowns of the Petit Couronne (France), Antwerp (Belgium) and Cressier (Switzerland) refineries in January 2012 given limited credit availability and the economic climate in Europe.”

Petroplus and European government officials have been locked in talks with the 13 banks that froze a $1 billion facility it needed to buy crude oil.

“There is no more crude coming in so the plant cannot work any more so we need to start shutting down all the plant’s units on Monday, but this is a technical shutdown,” said a spokeswoman for Petroplus in France. “The shutdown will take about a week.”

The Cressier plant has enough crude to last between 15 and 20 days, according to the head of economic services in the canton of Neuchatel, Patrick Cossettini. Traders said that of Petroplus’s five plants, the UK plant in Coryton might be the last to stop given its superior tank holding capacity.

WHY FREEZE NOW?

It remained unclear why the banks cut funding so abruptly just two months after allowing the troubled company to breach debt covenants without penalty.

Analysts and traders believe a worsening outlook for the industry and pressure from governments on banks to boost bank capital might be among the reasons for the unusual move, but one loan industry player thought otherwise.

“For me, this is a clear signal that something must have happenedbanks don’t do that. Banks would only act in such a manner if something has occurred. (Read: Infinite credit expansion meets finite world, expect much more of the same. ~Dek) This is very untypical (Read: “The next 20 years is going to be completely unlike the last twenty years” ~Dek)- some information is clearly missing,” said a head of loan syndicate who is not involved in Petroplus financing but still did not want to be named.

Apart from Friday’s statement, Swiss-based Petroplus has not responded to phone calls and emails from Reuters and has declined to elaborate on a December 27 announcement on the frozen credit lines.

Petroplus’ refineries are at Cressier in Switzerland, Petit Couronne in France, Coryton in the United Kingdom, Antwerp in Belgium, and Ingolstadt in Germany. Together, they account for about 4.4 percent of European Union capacity.

But given the amount of slack in the industry, (Insert: Wait, let me guess about oooh FIVE PERCENT maybe?? ~Dek) the closures are not expected to create a major supply issue, but governments, particularly in France where elections are coming up next year, are anxious to avoid closure.

The European refining sector has been struggling for years due to poor margins (Read: peak oil yields break even point of net energy ~Dek) and weak demand (Read: peak oil yields economic collapse ~Dek) for fuel products. French major Total shut its Dunkirk refinery at the start of 2010 and Petroplus itself closed down its Reichstett plant in eastern France in May 2011. (Insert: oh so maybe THAT is why there have been no new major refineries built since…. ~Dek)

The company’s stock price has halved since Tuesday‘s announcement of the freeze…and Once More, with Feeling.. The company’s stock price has halved since Tuesday‘s announcement of the freeze.

The output of real productive assets must collapse because of energy and resource constraints and the failing operational fabric. The implication is that virtual wealth including pension funds, insurance collateral, and debt will become worthless.
The acknowledgment by market participants that peak oil is upon us, coupled with an understanding of the consequences is likely to permanently crash the global financial system. That is, the behavior of the market is based on a combination of (a) fundamental physical constraints, such as rising loan defaults induced by the current economic crisis, (b) energy and food price inflation, and (c) interactions of (a) and (b) with the hopes and fears of market participants, particularly their faith in the overall stability and continued growth of the system. The transition from a few market participants accepting the idea that peak oil is a major constraint, and large-scale acceptance can be very rapid, though the onset of the fast transition can be difficult to predict. Tipping Point by David Korowicz

Tagged with:
 

Dec. 8, 2011 Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch

Exxon Mobil Corp.expects that U.S. oil imports have peaked and will consistently drop in the next three decades.

“We actually believe that oil imports have reached a peak in the United States and there will be a steady decline,” Bill Colton, Exxon Mobil’s vice president of corporate strategic planning, said during the presentation of the company’s annual energy forecast Thursday.

Continued development of unconventional oil resources (Read: piss poor net energy sources  ~Dek) in the lower 48 states and deepwater oilfields in the Gulf will be key in curbing U.S. oil imports, Colton said. But a significant (Read: THE main determining  ~Dek) factor will also be a rapid decline in the nation’s oil demand driven by (Insert: negligible though ~Dek)continued gains in energy efficiency and little population expansion (Insert: but still, population expansion ~Dek) in the next three decades. (Read: What the vice president of corporate strategic planning for the second largest American corporation is saying is that the overall trajectory is one of more people getting by with less material resources. Which by all ‘traditional’ metrics connotes a ‘lower‘ standard of living… Now where could I’ve heard that before?  ~Dek)

The slowdown in imports already is evident, according to the Energy Information Administration, which said U.S. oil imports have slowed since 2005, when they reached a record of 10.13 million barrels of oil per day.

In the first nine months of this year, the U.S. imported 8.93 million barrels of oil a day, 5% less than in the same period in 2010, according to the EIA. (Read: Gee, if we are using 5% less liquid energy than a year ago, maybe that mad man statistician John Williams of Shawdowstats.com is really on to something with his more honest Alternate GDP numbers. His NEGATIVE 3.5% GDP number for 2010 makes alot of sense if we are currently eeking out 1.5% in improved energy efficiency. …Nah – THAT can’t be right EVERYBODY KNOWS the recession ended  18 months ago. We are GROWING at 2.5 % WHILE using 5% less oil, aren’t American’s just AMAZING?!? <insert laugh track here>~Dek)

 

Tagged with:
 

1 Dec 2011 Platts News Release

Only nine nuclear reactors with a combined power generation capacity of 8.479 GW will soon be operating in Japan, representing just 17.3% of the country’s total installed capacity of 48.96 GW at 54 reactors, according to calculations by Platts on Thursday.

Japan is about to enter its winter power demand season, which normally runs from December to March. The weather and nuclear utilization rates have a direct impact on crude, fuel oil and LNG consumption for thermal power generation.

Kyushu Electric has estimated that it might need another 2.20 million kiloliters (13.84 million barrels) of oil equivalent of crude, fuel oil and LNG over December-March. Of this estimate, Kyushu Electric’s oil requirements are expected to be about 1.70 million kl (88,000 b/d) over December-March, Platts reported previously.

Japanese power utilities have hiked their oil and LNG consumption to make up for shortfalls in nuclear output in the wake of the devastating March 11 earthquake and subsequent nuclear outages across the country due to safety concerns. It is widely expected that the nuclear plants shut for scheduled maintenance will not be allowed to restart any time soon because of stress test conditions imposed by the government in July.

If none of the reactors are allowed to restart in coming months, Japan is scheduled to lose its nuclear power generation capability completely in April or May 2012, because of domestic regulations requiring nuclear power plants to carry out scheduled maintenance at reactors at least once every 13 months. If this occurs, it would be the ( record ) first time Japanese nuclear power production has fallen to zero since it commenced in 1966.

Nuclear capacity represents 21% of Japan’s total installed power generating capacity of 228.479 GW.

Tagged with:
 

11/08/2011  Forbes

Forbes HEADLINE: Mother Nature Mars Toyota Earnings

 

The lingering effects of March’s natural disasters in Japan, the more recent impact of floods in Thailand and a strengthening yen made for a rocky earnings report from Toyota Motor Tuesday.

The Japanese automaker said it lost 32.6 billion yen ($418 million) on an operating basis for the six months through Sept. 30, compared with income of 323.1 billion yen ($4.1 billion) a year ago. It also declined to offer guidance for the rest of the March 2012 fiscal year, “as more time is needed to complete an assessment of production and sales plans required by the impact of floods (Read: climate change ~Dek) in Thailand.”

Toyota recorded an overall revenue dip of 17.2%, to 8 trillion yen ($102.6 billion), as sales fell in every region but Asia, including a 33.8% drop in North America.

“In Japan and North America, vehicle sales decreased severely compared to the same period last fiscal year due to the large impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake, “said Executive Vice President Satoshi Ozawa .

Rival automakers were not spared by the impact of the earthquake in Japan and the Thai floods, with Honda Motor having reported production issues tied to both disasters in recent weeks.

 

We can talk about this culture’s frenzied insistence that there be no limits on growth, “knowledge,” exploitation, power, wealth. We can talk about the fact that this culture is killing the planet…Mainstream proposals all take industrial capitalism as a given and the real world as that which must conform to industrial capitalism. If we define insanity as being out of touch with reality, this is by definition insane. The real world is the real world. This culture is NOT the real world. The stock market is not the real world. The US government is not the real world. Laboratories are not the real world. The real world is sockeye salmon, black terns, Ethiopian wolves, Mekong giant catfish, Sicilian fir, the Columbia river, the Amazon Basin, polar ice caps, the Pacific Ocean. And one of the many things these cult members do not allow themselves to understand is that without a real world you do not have a social structure, even a social structure in which you can make believe that you can force matter and energy to jump through hoops on command. No planet, no you, no matter how megalomanical you can be. Fantasies aside, you ain’t God. ~~Derrick Jensen

 

 

 

 

Tagged with:
 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011  Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Police in riot gear clashed with anti-Wall Street protesters overnight, firing tear gas and beanbag rounds at hundreds of demonstrators in Oakland and forcibly evicting and arresting more than 50 others in Atlanta.

Overnight, the scenes in Oakland were chaotic, with officers firing tear gas and beanbag rounds over three hours as protesters tried to re-establish a tent camp outside city hall that they had been evicted from earlier Tuesday.

Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan told reporters at a late night news conference that authorities had no other choice, saying the protesters were throwing rocks and bottles at officers. City officials said two officers were injured.

“We had to deploy gas to stop the crowd,” he said, according to a KCBS report.

Police have denied reports that they used flash bang canisters to help break up the crowds, saying the loud noises came from large firecrackers thrown at police by protesters.

The chemical haze from the tear gas hung in the air for hours, new blasts clouding the air before the previous fog could dissipate. The number of protesters diminished with each round of tear gas.

Police estimated that there were roughly 1,000 demonstrators at the first clash. Nearly 100 people were arrested, mostly on suspicion of misdemeanor unlawful assembly and illegal camping.

Protesters were still resolved to continue.

“This movement is more than just the people versus the police,” Mario Fernandez said. “It’s about the people trying to have their rights to basic services.” He added, “This crowd isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”

In Atlanta, helicopters hovered and trained spotlights on the city’s downtown as police in riot gear moved into a small city park just after midnight and arrested protesters who had been there in tents for about two weeks.

Organizers had instructed participants to be peaceful if arrests came, and most were.

The police presence was “overkill,” said state Senator Vincent Fort, who was among those arrested after coming to the park in support of the protesters. He called the camp “the most peaceful place in Georgia.”

“At the urging of the business community, he’s moving people out,” he said, referring to Mayor Kasim Reed. “Shame on him.”

Police included SWAT teams in riot gear, dozens of officers on motorcycles and several on horseback. By about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday the park was mostly cleared of protesters.

Reed said he was upset over an advertised hip-hop concert that he said drew 600 people to the park over the weekend but didn’t have a permit and didn’t have security guards to work the crowd, calling it irresponsible.

Reed said he had serious security concerns that he said were heightened Tuesday when a man was seen in the park with an assault rifle. He said authorities could not determine whether the gun was loaded, and were unable to get additional information about it.

An Associated Press reporter talked to the man with the gun slung across his back earlier Tuesday as he walked in the park. He wouldn’t give his name, but said he was an out-of-work accountant who doesn’t agree with the protesters’ views.

He said he was there, armed, because he wanted to protect the rights of people to protest.

There’s no law that prevents him from carrying the gun in public, but police followed him for about 10 minutes before moving off.

The mayor of Providence, R.I., is threatening to go to court within days to evict demonstrators from a park.

In Minneapolis, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson said some constituents who work downtown are getting a little tired of the piles of belongings cluttering the plaza, while others are worried about escalating costs.

The sheriff’s department has already spent more than $200,000, most of that in overtime.

In New York, the neighborhood board voted Tuesday night to pass a resolution that proposed off-site portable bathrooms funded by local donors, said Julie Menin, head of the board. The resolution also requested that loud noises, like the blast of air horns and group chanting, be limited to two hours during the day.

The park’s owner, Brookfield Office Properties, tried to push the protesters out two weeks ago to clean it but backed off at the last minute after a public outcry.

 

Suburbanites may squander their remaining energies in all kinds of futile political efforts to prop up the putative entitlements of suburban living and to preserve the illusion that this way of life can continue. The result could be years of collective paralysis, indecision and cognitive dissonance culminating in social upheaval. -The Long Emergency circa 2005

Tagged with:
 

September 29, 2011 Bloomberg

Syrian security forces killed at least 17 protesters yesterday.

The protests in Syria are part of the wave of unrest across the Middle East and North Africa that unseated governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Assad’s crackdown has left more than 3,600 civilians dead, according to Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria. About 30,000 people have been detained and 13,000 are still being held, according to Qurabi and Merhi.

European countries abandoned a measure circulated last month that would have imposed an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze, replacing it on Sept. 27 with a text that “expresses determination” (Read: Stop laughing no, really we are serious this time. Our own governments would collapse without your oil. Please pretend to stop killing your people so openly or we will have to continue to pretend to attempt to stop you with the threat of our war machine) ~Dek) to impose sanctions in the event the violence continues.

 

September 29, 2011 Associated Press

Bahrain’s special security court on Thursday gave doctors and nurses who treated injured protesters during the country’s uprising earlier this year lengthy prison sentences, a lawyer said.

Attorney Mohsen al-Alawi said the tribunal convicted and sentenced 13 medical professionals each to 15 years in prison. In addition, two doctors were sentenced to 10 years each while five other medics got 5-year prison terms.

The harsh sentences in the two separate court cases suggest the Sunni authorities in the Gulf kingdom (Read: client state of American Empire ~Dek) will not relent in pursing and punishing those they accuse of supporting the Shiite-led opposition and participating in dissent that has roiled the tiny island nation.

Human rights groups blasted the ruling against the medics and said legal proceedings against Bahrain’s doctors and nurses were a “travesty of justice.”

“These are simply ludicrous charges against civilian professionals who were working to save lives,” said Philip Luther of Amnesty International.

Shiites account for about 70 percent of Bahrain’s population of some 525,000 people, but claim they face deep-rooted discrimination such as being blocked from key government and security posts.

The Sunni dynasty, which has ruled the island for more than 200 years, has retained crucial support from the West and Gulf Arab neighbors through the months of protests and crackdowns.

Bahrain’s rulers imposed martial law in March and invited a Saudi-led Gulf force to help them deal with the unprecedented ( record ) dissent.

Tagged with:
 

September 21, 2011 NewYorkTimes

Global stock markets tumbled Thursday as investor pessimism about the outlook for the United States and European economies was deepened by weak data for the euro zone and a grim assessment from the Federal Reserve.

“Today, we really seem to be stuck in a negative spiral,” said Matthias Jasper, head of equities at WGZ Bank in Düsseldorf.

In the opening minutes of Wall Street trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 301.06, or 2.7 percent, 10.823.78. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index lost 2.6 percent, (Insert: Since conclusion of QE2.0 the S&P 500 index is now DOWN 14.4% – shocking no one could’ve seen this coming ~Dek) and the Nasdaq composite was down 2.7 percent.

In afternoon trading Thursday in Europe, the benchmark Euro Stoxx 50 index, the FTSE 100 in London and the CAC-40 in Paris were all down between 4 and 5 percent.

On Wednesday, the Fed said a complete economic recovery was still years away, adding that the United States economy has “significant downside risks to the economic outlook, including strains in global financial markets.”

It also said it would buy long-term Treasury bonds and sell short-term bonds to help stimulate lending and growth.

Kevin H. Giddis, the executive managing director and president for fixed-income capital markets at Morgan Keegan & Company.

“This is about to get ugly and there is very little anyone can do about it,” he added in a research note.

Stocks had fallen in the United States 2 percent or more on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announcement. (Insert: Is down 7% since #OccupyWallStreet began with #oct2011 protest waiting in the wings ~Dek)

On Thursday, the yield on 10-year United States Treasury securities hit a new ( record ) low of 1.76 percent in London. After the markets opened in the United States, the benchmark bond yield was 1.77 percent.

Commodities fell. Comex gold futures were down nearly 4 percent at about $1,737 just before Wall Street opened, while crude oil futures traded in New York were down more than 6 percent at $80.57 a barrel.

 

September 21, 2011 The Guardian

Why ‘Occupy Wall Street’ makes sense

Banks are sitting on cash hoards and corporate profits are riding high – yet ordinary US taxpayers face joblessness and cuts.

If 2,000 Tea Party activists descended on Wall Street, you would probably have an equal number of reporters there covering them. Yet 2,000 people did occupy Wall Street last Saturday.

“We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.” They were there, mostly young, protesting the virtually unregulated speculation of Wall Street that caused the global financial meltdown.

One of New York’s better-known billionaires, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, commented on the protests: “You have a lot of kids graduating college, can’t find jobs. That’s what happened in Cairo. That’s what happened in Madrid. You don’t want those kinds of riots here.”

Riots? Is that really what the Arab Spring and the European protests are about?

Perhaps to the chagrin of Mayor Bloomberg, that is exactly what inspired many who occupied Wall Street. In its most recent communique, the Wall Street protest umbrella group said:

“On Saturday we held a general assembly, two thousand strong. … By 8pm on Monday we still held the plaza, despite constant police presence. … We are building the world that we want to see, based on human need and sustainability, not corporate greed.”

Speaking of the Tea Party, Texas Governor Rick Perry has caused a continuous fracas in the Republican presidential debates with his declaration that the US’s revered social security system is a “Ponzi scheme” Charles Ponzi was the con artist who swindled thousands in 1920 with a fraudulent promise for high returns on investments. A typical Ponzi scheme involves taking money from investors, then paying them off with money taken from new investors, rather than paying them from actual earnings. Social security is actually solvent, with a trust fund of more than $2.6tn. The real Ponzi scheme threatening the US public is the voracious greed of Wall Street banks.

I interviewed one of the “Occupy Wall Street” protest organisers. David Graeber teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and has authored several books – most recently, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Graeber points out that, in the midst of the financial crash of 2008, enormous debts between banks were renegotiated. Yet only a fraction of troubled mortgages have gotten the same treatment. He said:

“Debts between the very wealthy or between governments can always be renegotiated and always have been throughout world history. … It’s when you have debts owed by the poor to the rich that suddenly debts become a sacred obligation, more important than anything else. The idea of renegotiating them becomes unthinkable.”

President Barack Obama has proposed a jobs plan and further efforts to reduce the deficit. One is a so-called millionaire’s tax, endorsed by billionaire Obama supporter Warren Buffett. The Republicans call the proposed tax “class warfare”. Graeber commented:

“For the last 30 years, we’ve seen a political battle being waged by the super-rich against everyone else, and this is the latest move in the shadow dance, which is completely dysfunctional economically and politically. It’s the reason why young people have just abandoned any thought of appealing to politicians. We all know what’s going to happen. The tax proposals are a sort of mock populist gesture, which everyone knows will be shot down. What will actually probably happen would be more cuts to social services.”

Outside in the cold Tuesday morning, the demonstrators continued their fourth day of the protest with a march amidst a heavy police presence and the ringing of an opening bell at 9.30am for a “people’s exchange”, just as the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange is rung. While the bankers remained secure in their bailed-out banks, outside, the police began arresting protesters. In a just world, with a just economy, we have to wonder: who would be out in the cold? Who would be getting arrested?

 

 

 

 

12 Sep 2011 Voice of America

The United Nations says at least 2,600 people have been killed in Syria during the anti-government uprising that has swept the country since mid-March. A week ago, the EU announced economic sanctions that include an oil embargo.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has condemned (Read: gave lip service to ~Dek) the killing of prominent Syrian human rights activist Ghiyath Mattar, who died last week while in the custody of Syrian security forces.

 

12 Sep 2011 Al Jazerra

Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have killed at least 15 guards and injured two others in an attack on an oil facility outside the coastal town of Ras Lanuf, fighters of Libya‘s National Transitional Council (NTC) have said.

Citing NTC fighters present at the scene, Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid said a column of vehicles carrying armed Gaddafi loyalists drove up to the refinery’s checkpoint on Monday morning.

Ras Lanuf is located approximately 600km east of the capital, Tripoli.

The attack came as pro-and anti-Gaddafi forces fought fierce battles around Sirte and Bani Walid, key towns still controlled by forces of the toppled leader.

 

9 Sep 2011 Associate Press

The harsh crackdown on anti-government protests in Bahrain has failed to silence people’s demands for greater rights, a senior Shiite cleric in the Gulf kingdom said Friday as thousands of opposition supporters rallied on the outskirts of the capital.

The latest demonstration was staged by people who say they were unfairly fired from their jobs simply for being members of the island nation’s Shiite community, which led the months of protests. Thousands of Shiite professionals accused of having a role in the protests have been fired from their jobs.

Shiites make up a majority of Bahrain’s people, but they have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the country’s ruling Sunni dynasty (Read: The Empire continues to support ~Dek) and a lack of economic opportunities.

More than 30 people have died since February when protests inspired by other Arab uprisings began in Bahrain.

Hundreds of activists have been detained and brought to trial on anti-state charges in a special security court.

Bahrain lifted emergency rule in June. Since then, government opponents have clashed with police almost every night.

 

 

Tagged with:
 

AUGUST 1, 2011 WALL STREET JOURNAL

Indian refiners have started making payments to Iran through Turkey as they seek to clear their outstanding dues for crude oil delivery, three people familiar with the development said Monday.Indian refiners owe more than $7 billion to Iran.  Essar Oil Ltd. has made an initial payment of $5 million to National Iranian Oil Co. to test the mechanism, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Indian refiners haven’t been able to regularly pay Iran for crude supplies since December, when the south Asian nation’s central bank scrapped a longstanding clearing mechanism, which the U.S. said Tehran could use to finance its alleged nuclear-weapons program. A subsequent effort to pay through an Iranian-controlled German bank was also thwarted. The Press Trust of India reported Friday that MRPL deposited Indian rupees worth $100 million in Union Bank of India’s New Delhi branch, which then routed the equivalent euros to Halkbank in Istanbul for onward transfer to National Iranian Oil Co.

 

Tagged with: